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Free-fall

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Ochako probably loves flying more than anything in the world.

Barring her parents, obviously, whom she would give up even flying for in a heartbeat. But they'd never ask her to do that, it's one of the reasons she loves them so much.

They'd bought her her first broom at six years old, even though times were tough and brooms were expensive, and Ochako had cherished that gift for years. Caring for it long after it’d lost its polish and most of its bristles, and she’d long outgrown it in size and skill.

For as long as she could remember, her dream had been to fly. Even before she fell in love with Quidditch, she'd been launching herself off of couches and counter-tops, screwing her face up in concentration and pouring all her energy into defying gravity, just to linger in the air for a few moments longer.

When she'd gotten older and more practical, she'd started focusing her energy on Quidditch. Not just because it brought her closer to the sky, but because professional Quidditch players make a lot of money, and going pro would guarantee her the funds to secure a good life for her parents.

They're the only thing she loves more than flying, after all.

Joining the Hufflepuff Quidditch team was one of her first steps, and she'd devoted countless hours to training since. Both to secure the Quidditch cup for her house, and to secure her future after Hogwarts.

But between all the practice and practicality, she still harboured the same wish she had ever since she was little, to be able to fly without a broom, and finally truly claim the sky for her own.

It was a bit of a guilty pleasure, but a lot of her meagre free time not spent on school and Quidditch still went towards that dream. Researching feather-light and levitation charms, reading legends about powerful wizards who achieved flight. It wasn't very practical, but it boosted her Charms grade and even gave her new ideas for Quidditch manoeuvres on occasion, so there was no harm in it, impractical as it was.

At that moment, in free-fall, with the ground rapidly approaching and no one near enough to catch her, Ochako wished she'd let herself be a little more impractical.

It had been a stray bludger at practice that did her in, and in the moments after she was knocked off her broom the world seemed to slow to a crawl as she took in the reality of the situation.

The ground was very far away and rapidly getting closer.

Her teammates were well across the pitch and wouldn't be able to reach her in time.

Aizawa had been the only teacher on the pitch supervising, and he was nowhere sight.

Ochako had no way of slowing her descent.

Neither did anyone else.

Dying at practice would be a really embarrassing way to go.

Ochako is trying to make peace with that as her unfortunate high-speed collision with the Quidditch Pitch rushes towards her when-

"WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA"

-she stops.

It takes a moment for her mind to catch up with the whole still being alive thing, let alone process the reason for it. She's suspended, blinking, mere feet from the ground, and it seemed some of her organs had been jostled and misplaced by the rapid descent. Since her heart found itself beating in her ears and her stomach had gone missing, while its contents crept their way up her throat.

The first thing she notices as she scrambles to regain her bearings is that the ground is really very close, the second is that she's still floating.

The third is that she's not the only one.

As she rights herself in the air, floundering in her sudden weightlessness, the world around her comes crashing back into focus, and reveals itself to have gone a bit sideways in her lapse of attention.

The Quidditch pitch seems to have collectively decided that it's rather tired of this whole gravity nonsense, and bucked off its chains to do its own thing, untethered by things like “staying on the ground”, “not floating away” and “obeying the laws of physics”.

The handful of students who'd been enjoying the fair weather in the stands are all in the same position Ochako is, hoisted into the air and hung there on a cushion of raw magic that Ochako can feel crackling over her skin like electricity.

Some of them are attempting to struggle after wayward belongings, books and scarves and abandoned robes all drifting upwards and away on unseen currents.

In fact, everything not tied down is pulled upwards by the swirl of magic in the air, and even the things that are seem to be straining against their bonds.

Before Ochako's eyes the stands tremble and lurch, the places where their supports are buried into the ground shifting and displacing mounds of dirt, and she wonders if the entire pitch will be torn apart with the strain-

"Midoriya."

Ochako hits the ground with a soft thump, and everything else drops with her.

She turns, bewildered, towards Aizawa's voice, hoping for an explanation of what could have possibly just happened, and only finds it when she follows his impassive gaze to find a student guiltily lowering his arm. He's familiar, but Ochako can't quite place him, with a plain freckled face and green trimmed robes that match his curly hair.

"S-sorry I- She was falling and I just- Sorry, sorry." The words tumble out of him as he shrinks in on himself, cringing at the chaos strewn over the field in the aftermath of uncontrolled levitation. The stands creek ominously as they settle.

"Midoriya." Aizawa repeats. "Your arm."

Midoriya blinks in surprise and looks down, cringing again when he sees the mess that's become of his hand. Ochako doesn't blame him, wincing in sympathy herself, the sleeve of his robe is in singed tatters, and the arm underneath is twisted and purple.

"Ah... A-at least it's not as bad as last time...?" Midoriya mutters uncertainly, and Ochako has to wonder what last time must have been like for the mangled limb to be considered an improvement.

Aizawa looks unimpressed.

"Hospital wing."

"Y-yes sir!" Midoriya squeaks, as though he genuinely needed the reminder, scampering off.

Aizawa watches him go before turning his attention back to the rest of them.

"Practice is over." His tone brokers no argument. "Uraraka, get yourself checked over as well. The rest of you pick up your things and get lost."

There is an uncertain chorus of "Yes sir"s but Aizawa is already stalking off in a flourish of robes. It would be very impressive if Ochako were a few years younger and didn't know he was probably stalking off to find a quiet place for a nap.

She picks herself up, straightening her robes and trying not to think too hard about how close she'd come to death, as her peers return to motion and chatter around her.

"-did he even pull that off, Holy-"

"I thought the stadium was gonna come down-"

"-did you see his arm?"

"What kind of power does it take-"

"-thought he was a squib-"

It's the last word that gets Uraraka to place the plain-faced boy who saved her in her memory, she'd thought he was a squib too. She shared a handful of classes with him, and he'd never participated in the practical as far as she new. Although that made a lot more sense now that she'd seen what his magic could do first-hand. There had been plenty of gossip about him at the start of the year, especially given that he'd only just transferred in, but people had lost interest rather quickly given his general unremarkableness.

His name was... Deku wasn't it? She's almost certain she'd heard a particularly obnoxious Gryffindor calling him that a few times.

And... that's right, he was the one she'd saved from pitching head first down the moving staircase with a levitation charm a few months ago.

Maybe this was his way of returning the favour?

Well she was glad Aizawa ordered her to the hospital wing, even if she felt fine. It meant she'd get to thank him, at least.

She set off towards the castle with a skip in her step and a grin on her face, near death experience aside, she always appreciated the opportunity to make a new friend.

And to be frank with herself, thinking back on the way she'd been suspended effortlessly in the air, there was a personal project that she was itching to get his help with.