An unexpected game of Quodpot
'I'm sure you'll be great.'
Remus' words rang through Lisa's mind, as she was miserably nibbling on a piece of toast at breakfast.
"Why the long face?" greeted Dorcas, sliding next to her on the bench.
"Because we're gonna get creamed."
"Oh, did I oversleep? I thought the match hadn't started yet," Dorcas tried to cheer her up. Lisa only managed to look up at her with glassy eyes.
"You might as well go and take a nap, the outcome is clear anyway."
"Hey now, since when do you give up so easily? You'll just have to compensate for those tossers you call teammates and score more points."
"They're not the problem," Lisa sighed. "I am. I've been terrible at practice lately."
"You? I thought that was the one thing you were supposed to be good at," the black haired Slytherin quipped, earning herself a glare from her friend.
"You ready, Fawley?" Adrian Fleet called behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"No," Lisa replied sourly, but got up.
"You'll do fine," Dorcas insisted, as the Gryffindors were walking away.
When the two chasers got to the locker room, they were surprised to find the Marauders there, talking to James.
"Hey Lisa, do you have a minute?" Remus called out as soon as he saw them.
"The match's about to start, Moony! Don't tell me you hung around just to put the moves on Fawley!" James protested. "And here I thought you came to wish your best mate good luck!"
Remus ignored him, as Lisa nodded and they went outside to talk.
"What's up?" she asked tiredly.
"I made something for you," he said, reaching in the folds of his robes and pulling out a small glass bottle, filled with a light-turquoise substance.
"What is it?" she asked, taking the warm potion in her hand.
"Er... Draught of Peace," he admitted stiffly. Lisa's jaw hit the ground. The Draught of Peace was a notoriously difficult potion, requiring a lot of precision and care on the part of the potion maker. Just the fact that he tried something like that...
"You made this... for me?"
"It will help you relax a little. Just don't take too much; the side effects can be nasty."
Lisa's heart swelled with warm feelings and she felt a lump forming in her throat. Before she could stop herself, she launched forward and wrapped her arms around his neck. It felt so good to be this close to him again, but when they heard the door to the locker rooms swing open, they broke apart quickly.
"What's the hold up, you two? Madam Hooch wants us on the field now!" an irritated James beckoned.
"Right. Thank you so much!" Lisa breathed and went in after her captain.
Remus just stood there dazed and stared at the closed door. He knew he shouldn't feel this way, but she had just hugged him, hugged him, and his heart was beating against his ribcage like a battering ram.
"What was that about, mate?" Sirius inquired as he and Peter exited the locker rooms and the boys all headed to the stands.
"Lisa told me she was worried about the game. I made her a potion for the nerves," Remus replied, still half-stunned.
"And they're off!" bellowed the voice of the commentator Emma Vance, a fourth year Hufflepuff. "We have two new captains this year, both James Potter and Lucinda Talkalot..."
Lisa tried to drown out her voice and only concentrate on the game. She was aware like always that Remus was watching, but she couldn't distinguish him from first glance, and averted her eyes from the stands. He was right, having a crowd helped. But so did a Draught of Peace in your belly. She smiled to herself, but quickly came to her senses, as one of the Slytherin Chasers had the Quaffle.
'I can do it this time!' she thought and flew straight for him.
"Fawley tries to intercept... they're headed for a collision!"
At the last moment, the Chaser's hand twitched slightly on his broom to the left. Lisa immediately adjusted her own direction and swiped the Quaffle right from his hands, narrowly missing crashing into him. She flew toward the Slytherin rings, but the other two Chasers tried to block her way. She dropped the Quaffle straight down, where James whizzed past and caught it, scoring Gryffindor's first point. The crowd cheered loudly.
"10 points for Gryffindor!" Emma Vance shouted into the microphone.
Lisa was ecstatic! She hadn't pulled off something this good in weeks! She thought about Remus, but the usual twist in her stomach was gone. She silently thanked him.
"And Fleet has the Quaffle, heading to the Slytherin rings again!"
A Bludger flew by Lisa's head, narrowly missing her and struck Adrian Fleet in the shoulder, making him drop the ball. Slytherin chaser Dominic Gott caught it from beneath and tried to pass it to Luke Garber, but James flew between them and stole it. The crowd cheered again, as he passed to Lisa, who saw Adrian was practically next to the rings and passed to him, and he scored the second goal.
Halfway during the third play Madam Hooch blew her whistle for a penalty shot. Sirius' brother Regulus was the Slytherin Seeker and had almost knocked little Felicity off her broom. James scored the third point.
In the next seventeen minutes Lisa and James scored 2 points each.
"80:00 for Gryffindor! Their team is really on fire today! Or maybe the new Captain Talkalot simply sucks as a Keeper..."
The game intensified. The Slytherin beaters were sending Bludgers in every direction; the Quaffle was passed less and less. At the thirty-minute mark, Gryffindor was leading with 100 points. If Felicity caught the bloody snitch anytime soon, they'd win!
Gott was flying determinately towards the Gryffindor rings. James tried to intercept, but had to make a sharp turn to avoid a Bludger. Adrian tried as well, but Luke Garber kept flying in his path. 'It's up to me then' Lisa thought. 'I won't let him have a shot at O'Flaherty'. She flew straight at him, trying for another Quaffle snatch. Just as they were about to pass each other, Gott gave her a creepy grin and threw the Quaffle at her. She caught it in surprise, and whipped her head back to stare at him, barely noticing the ball in her hands was unusually heavy.
The explosion was so sudden, she couldn't even scream.
Lisa woke up on something soft, with a slightly annoying ringing in her ears. 'Hospital Wing', she guessed. Someone was holding her hand, and she wanted to find out who it was, but her eyelids felt like they were made out of lead. She mustered all of her will, and as her eyes fluttered open, she saw her best friend sitting in a chair next to her bed.
"How do you feel?" Dorcas asked softly, caressing her hand.
"Like something exploded in my face," the Gryffindor replied weakly. "What the hell happened?"
"No one is sure yet. It looks like someone bewitched the Quaffle to explode, like in that weird American game."
"What are you on about? What American game?"
"Never heard of Quodpot?" Dorcas asked, a smile playing on her lips. "That's the poor man's version of Quidditch they play over there. It's like a game of hot potato, where the ball they play with explodes if you take too long to score."
Lisa chuckled despite herself. Leave it to Dorcas to try and make you laugh after you've just been injured. "At least tell me we won?"
The cheer vanished from the Slytherin's eyes and she shook her head slowly. "The match got postponed."
"James... kinda lost it. He swore up and down that Dominic Gott passed the tempered Quaffle to you on purpose and was grinning when you caught it. The second you fell, he whipped out his wand and turned the whole lot of them into cockroaches. He was furious; he kept yelling that they targeted you because they knew..."
"Knew what?" Lisa asked weakly. She didn't even have the mental capacity to get curious at this point. All she wanted was a nap...
"I was hoping you could tell me that. McGonagall dragged him off to help her find the Slytherin team and get them back to normal and he has detentions for the next two weeks."
"Him? What about Gott!? He really did throw the Quaffle at me, the slimy git!" Lisa's head throbbed painfully from the anger.
"No one saw what was happening clearly. They're 'looking into it', but with that Quaffle destroyed, they won't get anywhere."
"So they're getting away with it!? They could have killed me!"
"That was probably the intention. The balls don't explode with that much strength in Quodpot and in that they have-"
"Enough with the silly American sports!"
"Fine. But I'm not joking when I tell you this: Gott's one of them. I think James may be right, they targeted you."
"But why?" Lisa's head was spinning from the overexertion. "What could they possibly know that would make me a target? And how come James Potter knows about it too?"
She placed a hand over her forehead and realized her Chaser gloves were off and her fingers were wrapped in white bandages. "How long was I out?"
"Just an hour or two. Some of your dorm-mates came by too, but Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let so many people around your bed."
"So how come you're allowed?"
"You snooze, you lose," Dorcas shrugged with a smirk. "I got here first. Some are waiting outside for news, though."
Lisa chuckled again and squeezed her friend's fingers gently. "The team?"
"Outside too. I heard that brainless tosser Cornhill say you might die," she scoffed. "As if something like that could kill you. You were in a pretty bad shape when they brought you in though, so the idiots are worried."
"Aren't you worried?"
"Nah," Dorcas waved a hand dismissively. "I know you're tougher than that. I just wanted to be here when you woke up, so you'll clear the mystery of what they know about you, but as usual you're no help at all. It's like potions class all over again."
"Hey! I'm good at potion making!" Lisa protested, trying to sit up, but a sharp pain in her head made her lie back with a groan.
"Only when Lupin isn't around," the Slytherin said cheekily. "I'll let you get some rest. Looks like you'll need all the beauty sleep you can get."
Lisa was too tired to ask what the hell that meant and just nodded, watching her friend draw the curtains around her bed and leave.
Remus paced in front of the Hospital Wing nervously.
His heart had almost stopped when he saw Lisa as the teachers were carrying her off. Her face was black and blue all over, with visibly deep cuts and blood everywhere. Her skin had been horribly burned in places and her hands were leaving a trail of red on the ground, dripping down her gloves and sleeves. Luckily, James had managed a cushioning charm before turning on the Slytherin team, so the fall itself hadn't left much of an impact. He wanted to howl and scratch and bite and break things, while simultaneously wanting to break down and cry. The storm of feelings inside him wasn't helped by the almost crushing sense of guilt, the knowledge that she was in this state because of him. Because they knew.
The door opened slowly and Dorcas Meadowes exited the ward. Everyone's heads turned to her.
"She'll live," Dorcas sighed tiredly. "Her skin is whole now at least, and her hands are almost back to normal. She didn't seem in any pain."
Lily let out a sigh of relief and Felicity Rickett hit Eddie Cornhill in the shoulder.
"I told you she wouldn't die," the blonde Seeker whispered, but she couldn't hide the giddiness in her voice.
"She wants to see you," Dorcas added toward Remus.
"M-Me? What about?" he stuttered, as everyone gawked at them.
Dorcas just shrugged and sidestepped from the door, trying to hide her grin. Remus nodded a bit confused, but glad he had an excuse to see her and walked in.
He slowly approached her bed, preparing himself mentally for what she might look like. The memory of her battered and bleeding body flashed before his eyes and his stomach contracted painfully. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Remus slowly drew the curtains open and was surprised to see how almost normal she looked. The places where her skin had been burned off were just rosy spots now; the bruises had been reduced to pale yellow smudges, the cuts healed and her fingers bandaged. He guessed the leather gloves must've lessened the impact somewhat and couldn't help but marvel at Madam Pomfrey's excellent magic abilities.
"Remus," Lisa muttered confused, as he sat down next to her bed. "You're here." She smiled dizzily.
"Well, yeah," he replied simply. Did she think he'd ignore her call? "I... I'm sorry," he said.
"They attacked you because of me. Because they had an opportunity and they knew what we were up to."
"Wait a second." Her eyes cleared from the fog somewhat. "Are you saying you know what this whole thing is about?"
He nodded grimly. "James was disgusted at the cowardly way they went about it. He would face whomever in a head-to-head fight, and anything less sort of insults him. And when that Quaffle exploded..." Remus shook his head, unable to go on. He sighed deeply, then buried his head in his hands. "It straight up blew you off your broom. There was blood everywhere, whole pieces of your skin missing... some whispered that you could die, and-" He had to stop, because he was starting to choke up.
She lifted her hand, ignoring the painful screams of her muscles and pulled on one of his, still buried in his hair.
"It was just a stupid rumor," she said soothingly, wrapping her bandaged fingers gently around his. "Just Eddie Cornhill, being an idiot. It'll take a lot more than an exploding ball to take me out." He sighed heavily and took her hand between both of his, bringing them to rest against his forehead.
"It doesn't mean I wasn't scared," he whispered. He cursed himself for slipping again; he really should have more self-control than this. "I should get going... letting you rest and all that-"
"Stay," she pleaded quietly. He turned to look at her, and the second he did, he knew it was too late to get away.
Lisa smiled to herself and closed her eyes, finally surrendering to sleep.
Madam Pomfrey insisted on holding her for a couple of days, but on Monday evening she finally consented and Lisa was free to go. As she walked to the seventh floor, the blonde Gryffindor contemplated her last conversation with Remus, realizing she still had no idea what it was that everyone seemed to know about her.
"Come on," James growled as soon as she climbed through the portrait hole to Gryffindor Tower, grabbed her firmly by the wrist and dragged her out again.
"What the-" Lisa shot a confused look at Remus, who came behind them, but he, Sirius and Peter just followed them wordlessly with grim expressions on their faces. "You're not gonna... sacrifice me in a dark ritual or something, are you?" she asked jokingly as they flew down the stairs.
No one answered her, but soon she didn't have the breath to ask any more questions, as the brisk pace they were walking in was too much for her so soon after the explosion. She noticed they were headed to the Great Hall and made a turn for the Hufflepuff Basement. Realization graced her eyes, just as James stopped abruptly before a paining depicting a bowl of fruit. He reached forward, tickled the green pear and pulled her into the kitchen, followed by the rest of the Marauders.
"You!" he pointed to the first house elf he saw, letting go of Lisa. "I order you to tell me if any of you have spoken to any Hogwarts students that are not in this kitchen during the last four days!"
The elves took in the five Gryffindors, and after a moment of silence, one of them stepped forward.
"I spoke to Sir Hugh Wetherbee from Ravenclaw House, Sir," it squeaked.
James was starting to shake with anger.
"Did you tell him about Thursday night, when this Miss and I were here?" Remus interjected, before his friend started yelling.
"Yes, Sir!" The house elf was trembling like a leaf under James' angry glare. "Sir Hugh asked if the students had been talking about the Dark Lord, Sir. And Dinky had to tell him, Sir, he had to!"
"So you rat us out," Sirius growled.
"Sirius, they can't help it," Remus said quietly.
James turned on his heel and exited, as the Marauders and Lisa exchanged glances and followed him. He walked straight into the first empty classroom he saw and Sirius immediately placed muffling charms on the door.
"So," Lisa started. "The house elves told the Junior Death Eaters what Remus and I talked about in the kitchen. That's why they threw me that Quaffle, they stroke preemptively before we could do it." Everything was so clear now.
"Those cowards!" James snarled. "To do it in front of everyone like that too, without ever staining their hands!"
"Then we're definitely doing it," Sirius said darkly. "Right?"
Lisa and Remus exchanged glances. They had only ever had one conversation about it, and nothing discussed in detail.
"We are," James said, looking at them determinately. "We have to."