Chapter Twelve: Quidditch

November was nearing its end and the last game of the fall Quidditch season was about to begin. The air was crisp. The sun played hide-and-seek as an abundance of white full clouds drifted across the blue sky. House banners fluttered lightly in the soft breeze, hanging from the rails of the stands. The stands were packed, every student and a fair number of professors having turned out to see the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin.

Gossip ran hot along the stands, Harry Potter's and Draco Malfoy's fictional love affair the main topic. Would their torrid romance survive the competition? Would the teams suffer because of the lovers? Would Potter grab the snitch within seconds again? Would Malfoy allow him?

Draco and Harry hovered on their Firebolts high above the green field, waiting for Professor Vector, the referee for the game, to release the Quidditch balls. Ron, Captain of the Gryffindor team (chosen after Harry turned down the position), was doling out instructions to his players: Chasers Jordan Leaner and Bill Corley; Beaters Ginny Weasley and David Burdine; and Keeper Calvin Miley. Ron played the third Chaser position. Except for Harry, the entire team had gone through a changeover, though the Gryffindors didn't suffer for it.

The Slytherin team, consisting of Chasers Marie Smeaton, April Montague, and Marco Warrington, Beaters Joann Walter and Andy Bole, and Keeper/Captain Zane McCoy, was a mixture of old and new players. The competition promised to be fierce. The rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor was still the strongest between all Houses, despite losing Draco and Harry to "love."

"I hope everyone brought their omnioculars, because the long-awaited match between Gryffindor and Slytherin is about to begin!" announced Dean, eliciting cheers of anticipation from the stands. "As the Captains shout last second encouragement to their teams, Professor Vector comes onto the field. Professor Vector has been refereeing Quidditch matches for over a hundred years, so this promises to be a fair game."

Professor Vector, broom in hand and wearing protective goggles over his craggy face, tooted his whistle. "Players ready?" he called.

Ron and Zane fell silent, and the anticipation spiked. Professor Vector kicked the trunk in the center of the field and the lid popped open. The two bludgers sprang free with maniacal giggles, sailing high into the air. The golden snitch followed, zipping between Harry and Draco.

"Finite protectum charmus," Draco cast the second the snitch was in sight.

"Camouflagus. Accio snitch," Harry cast a hairs-breath after. With the protection charm broken, the snitch became almost invisible and flew into Harry's open palm. He quickly tucked it into his red Quidditch robe as he opened his other hand. A second snitch, which had a faint greenish glow, rested in his palm. It was the same one Harry and Draco played midnight Quidditch with. Harry thumbed the activation button. The snitch spread its filament wings and shot off at lightning speed.

"Think anyone noticed?" Draco asked.

Harry shrugged. "If they did it won't matter, considering we made it harder to play, not easier."

Professor Vector blew his whistle again. "Let the game commence!" he declared, releasing the Quaffle. The game began in a flurry of red and green robes. Draco and Harry watched the chaos below them for a moment before exchanging mock salutes and flying off in opposite directions.

"Slytherin Chaser Marie Smeaton has the Quaffle--," Dean was reporting, "--Gryffindor Chasers Jordan Leaner and Bill Corley are on her tail-- they're not fast enough, though-- Marie throws the Quaffle at the goal-- and it's a block by Keeper Calvin Miley! Good save, Gryffindor!"

Draco drifted lazily in the air a good distance above the Slytherin goal. He scanned the field, half-watching the game unfold below as he searched for the snitch.

"-- Slytherin Beater Andy Bole whacks a bludger at Gryffindor Chaser Ron Weasley-- Captain Weasley rolls on his broom and kicks the bludger right back at Andy!--" Cheers erupted from most of the stands. "--Chaser Corley has possession of the Quaffle-- he throws to Chaser Jordan Leaner-- it's intercepted! Slytherin Chaser Marco Warrington darts in from nowhere and grabs the Quaffle!-- He's flying hot and fast towards the Gryffindor goal-- Slytherin scores!" The Slytherin area of the stands burst into loud cheering.

The Quidditch match picked up the pace. Within minutes, Slytherin had scored twice more and Gryffindor three times, causing the game to be tied 30-30. Red and green-clad players ducked and wove in and around each other at breakneck speeds, the bludgers dancing dangerously with them.

Gryffindor had scored two more goals when a speck of greenish-gold caught Draco's eye. He tuned out the sounds of the game, focusing intently. It was the enchanted snitch! It hovered near the ground in the center of the field, as if daring Draco or Harry to catch it.

Draco took the dare.

He dropped straight down from where he'd been hovering, startling the Slytherin Keeper as he free-fell past the goal. He came to an abrupt stop just before he would hit the ground.

"--Woah! That was a close one! Seeker Draco Malfoy stops his sudden fall mere centimeters from the hard ground-- the snitch has been sighted center field-- Malfoy shoots forward-- and here comes Gryffindor Seeker Harry Potter from the other side!-- Both Seekers are skimming the field, heading straight for one another and the snitch in the middle-- neither one of them looks like he's going to yield--"

Draco and Harry were two meters away from each other and the snitch, when the snitch suddenly zipped straight up in the air. Undaunted, Draco aimed his broom slightly to the left. He raised his right arm and grabbed Harry's hand as they brushed past each other. Their tightly clasped hands became the axis that enabled them to instantly change course, propelling them after the snitch.

"Bloody hell!--"

"Mr. Thomas!" Professor McGonagall scolded the student announcer.

"--Malfoy and Potter, millimeters away from crashing, now seem to be working together!--"

The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, temporarily blinding both boys. The snitch vanished. Draco and Harry went separate ways once they had passed the other players and leveled out.

Draco slowed, winding back and forth across the field above his teammates. He tuned into Dean's commentary again.

"--This game will go in the books, guaranteed. Never have two Seekers combined efforts during competition. Both team Captains look furious, but they'll have to take it up later because the game is heating up again--"

Draco glanced at the Slytherin Captain. Zane, indeed, looked angry enough to crush a bludger with his hands. A quick look over at Weasley showed the same.

It dawned on Draco that no one knew he and Harry played Quidditch on a regular basis. It wasn't of consequence, if his teammates did or did not know, since it wasn't a secret. However, it did effect how he played. Aside from the snitch being enchanted to be quicker, Draco and Harry helped each other to make the game more challenging. There were no Wronski Feints during their matches, and no 'accidents' either.

"--Gryffindor scores! That puts Gryffindor ahead by 20! Nice work by Beater Ginny Weasley, protecting Chaser Jordan Leaner-- Slytherin has the Quaffle-- Chaser April Montague passes to Marie Smeaton who passes back to April-- Beater Andy Bole intercepts the bludger headed for April-- Gryffindor Chasers Ron Weasley and Bill Corley slip up from beneath April, suddenly blocking her path--"

The hours of practice had paid off. April managed to dodge the two Chasers and pass the Quaffle to Marco Warrington. Marco attempted to score, but the Gryffindor Keeper blocked with his broom. The Quaffle flew right back into Marco's hands, and he immediately threw it again.

"--Slytherin scores!-- And there's the snitch in the center of the field again!--"

The greenish-gold snitch danced between the players mid-field. Draco tore off after it without hesitation. He saw Harry coming directly at him again from the other side of the field. Draco dipped and dodged a bludger, narrowly avoided being squashed between two Weasleys, and suddenly Potter was scant centimeters away.

Draco propelled his lower body off the broom and into a handstand. Harry dropped off his own broom, dangling by his hands beneath it. Their gloved knuckles scraped together and their wicker broom bristles briefly tangled as they streaked past each other.

"--Aaahh! Did you see that! Did you see that! An amazing feat of daredevilry by Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, preventing a head-on collision at the very last instant!--"

Draco dropped back onto his broom, swung around, and darted after the snitch. Harry, remounted on his Firebolt, came up beside him moments later. Neck-and-neck, they flew at heart-racing speed, weaving fluidly around their teammates in a dramatic dance.

The enchanted snitch changed direction abruptly, zooming between Draco and Harry back the way they'd come. Harry flipped his broom in a swimmers turn as Draco directed his Firebolt downwards in a loop.

"--Slytherin Keeper Zane McCoy blocks the Quaffle, sending it into the waiting hands of teammate Marco Warrington-- Marco passes to Marie Smeaton-- Gryffindor Beater David Durdine whacks a bludger at the Quaffle mid-air-- And the Quaffle is wild!" Dean yelled. The stands erupted into noise.

"--Chasers from both teams converge-- Gryffindor Seeker Harry Potter races by, broom tail smacking the Quaffle-- there's almost a six-player visit to the Hospital wing-- Gryffindor has the Quaffle now-- and it looks like Harry is about to catch the-- Holy!-- Draco Malfoy has shot up from beneath Harry and captured the snitch! Slytherin wins!"

Draco stared at the greenish-gold snitch in his hand as he glided to a halt. He was somewhat stunned. He'd actually caught the snitch.

Harry drifted to a stop beside him. "Congratulations, Draco. You should be proud."

Draco extended his hand towards Harry, feeling oddly downhearted. "My father would have said, 'It's about time.'"

"But he still would've bragged that his son beat Harry Potter, and with an enchanted snitch." Harry plucked the snitch from Draco's hand, exchanging it with the school one. "You beat me, Malfoy, fair and square, and it was a tough, honest competition. It was also the best Quidditch game I've ever played."

"It was fun, wasn't it?" A slow grin crept across Draco's lips. Pride started to build in his chest. "Do you mind terribly if I rub my win in your face for awhile?"

"Not at all," said Harry. "In fact, I'll even pretend to be upset about it."

"That's quite nice of you."

"I thought so."

Draco smiled sincerely at the other teen. "Good game, Harry."

"You, too, Draco," Harry said.

And they flew off in opposite directions.

Chapter 13