Hogsmeade was all anyone could talk about. The third years would tell anyone who would listen all about the Hogsmeade shops and the pub. Several people had been up to see the shrieking shack; a house just outside of the town. The villagers in the pub had told them that the shack was haunted – they believed it to be the home of the noisiest ghost in Britain. The third years would tell anyone who would listen, everything they knew about Hogsmeade. They even described in great detail the post office to the younger students who had yet been allowed to go to Hogsmeade.
October went quickly, especially for James as he had Quidditch practice almost every night. Cynthia had insisted that they spend even more time practising. The weather was gradually deteriorating and the Quidditch team would wander into the common room looking more wet, muddy, tired and beaten each night. Now that the headmaster was aware of the dementors that were encamping in the forest Madam Hooch had insisted on attending every Quidditch practice. They were due to have their first match against Slytherin but the Slytherin team had asked for more time before their first match as they had a new captain and practically a whole new team as so many of their team had been seventh years. Unfortunately, Madam Hooch had agreed and now the Gryffindors' first match of the season was to be against Hufflepuff.
"We're not playing Slytherin!" Cynthia told them. "We're playing Hufflepuff instead."
"Why?" the team asked.
"They need longer to train their new players," Cynthia frowned.
"That's bullshit!" Sirius remarked, "They just don't want to play in the rain. Think it'll damage their chances…"
The weather was still getting worse and there was fear of a thunder storm on the day of the match.
"This is completely ridiculous," James complained angrily.
"I don't really understand why it matters who we play," Holly Moresby, the new keeper commented.
"The thing is we've been practising assuming we're against Slytherin. Hufflepuff have a very different style. Amos Diggory is their captain – he's good."
"Come on Hufflepuff were a pushover last year," Rob smiled.
"We need to take this seriously," Cynthia frowned.
"We are taking this seriously," Rob smiled, "Come on Cynthia, we've got this. We've been practising ridiculously hard and you are an awesome captain." James smiled as he watched Rob calm down their captain. He was pretty sure that Cynthia and Rob would get together before the year was out.
The week leading up to the match left James and Sirius both feeling very anxious. They could barely focus on anything. Lessons were completely lost on them. Professor Salazar was stood at the front of the classroom tell them about grindylows; "A Grindylow is a small, horned water demon. They live in the weed beds at the bottom of lakes in Great Britain and Ireland. They have green teeth, pointy horns and long fingers, which they use to strangle their prey. They have a habit of being aggressive towards wizards, witches and muggles, although merpeople have been known to domesticate them and keep them as pets."
"Now Hogwarts is the home to a colony of Grindylows… I must tell you that usually Grindylows life on fish, algae and small sea creatures but they have been known to eat humans… Although they are not normally a threat."
"Now if you will leave your things here and follow me. All you will need is your wand." The third year class followed their professor through the corridors until they reached a room that James had never entered before. "This room is called the Grindylow Lagoon. It is a place where we can study Grindylows without any difficulty or reason to fear."
They made their way into the room. It was quite a large room but instead of having tables and chairs like a normal classroom it had a miniature version of the black lake in the centre of the room. Unlike the black lake the lagoon was clear and the creatures within it were clearly visible. James smiled as he leant down to see the creatures within the lagoon. Sirius came up behind him as if to push him in but stopped his best friend from falling just at the last minute.
The morning of the match James and Sirius sat quietly at the Gryffindor table eating a couple of slices of toast. They yarned deeply. Neither one of them had slept well as peeves had been roaming around the Gryffindor tower all night trying desperately to keep the whole house awake. "I bloody hate Peeves," Sirius complained.
"No you don't," James laughed.
"You didn't have to go and give him marauder points though did you?" Sirius complained.
"Well it was funny," James smiled.
The rest of the team joined them at the table looking equally as tired. "If we lose this match I'm going to kill Peeves," Cynthia frowned.
James realised that he was still hungry and so grabbed a couple of slices of bacon, "how can you guys eat? I feel sick with nerves," Holly said nervously.
"We're used to it," Sirius shrugged as he filled his plates.
"That sick feeling goes away eventually," James encouraged the scared second year.
The rain hadn't given up all week and now it was falling as heavy as ever. The students made their way down to the pitch wearing thick coats and scarves and gloves. Several students had their hoods up whilst others had attempted to stay dry underneath umbrellas. Unfortunately their umbrellas were being whipped out of their hands by the ferocious winds.
The team changed quickly into their scarlet robes and waited to hear Cynthia's pre-match prep talk, "right… the conditions are awful but my team is great. James you are one of the best Quidditch players I've ever seen and you are going to make a great seeker. Holly – you might be nervous but you can do this. Michael, Renee, you've got some real skill – just get scoring straight away and don't think about anything other than getting that quaffle through the Hufflepuff hoops. Rob, Sirius – play hard, visibility is going to be awful so be careful where you send those bludgers – I don't want you hitting any of our team."
She then turned to the subs that had come down to the locker room because she had asked them to. "It's more than likely that someone is going to get hurt – so be prepared… I believe in you all."
The winds were strong and they threatened to blow James' broom out of his hand. He held on tightly to his nimbus 1000 as he made his way onto the pitch. He could see the Hufflepuff team at the other end of the pitch. They met in the centre of the pitch. Diggory shook hands with Keeney, "great weather," Diggory said sarcastically.
Cynthia laughed gently in response. Madam Hooch told them to mount their brooms and then blew her whistle. James could just make out the shrill sound of the whistle over the sound of the wind and rain. James rose into the air, trying hard to keep his broom steady. He flew around the pitch searching for the snitch. Within several minutes James was completely drenched and he was unable to see. His glasses were covered in condensation. He couldn't hear the commentary over the sound of the wind. Bludgers were passing him and he had to work extra hard to control his broom. He'd completely lost track of time and the score. James looked up to the sky and realised that he needed to catch the snitch soon if they didn't want to be playing in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Cynthia called for time out and the team splashed down into the mud. They huddled together under a large umbrella. James wiped his glasses on his Quidditch robes. "What's the score?"
"We're seventy points up," Rob told him.
"You really need to catch the snitch soon James or we'll be playing well into the night."
"I can't see a thing let alone the snitch," James complained. He pointed at his glasses.
Cynthia thought for a moment before taking his glasses and tapping them with her wand she said, "Impervius!"
She handed them back to James, "they should repel water now."
"Thanks Cynthia," James smiled.
"No worries James. Holly how's your arm?"
"It's fine," Holly replied.
"You sure? I could get Lorinc to sub for you if you like," Cynthia continued.
"Nah – I'll be fine," Holly smiled.
"Right – let's get back to it," Cynthia smiled.