"You know, if Sirius was in the castle, which he must have been, I would have been safer in Hogsmeade," Harry pointed out when talking to Severus a few days later.
Severus gave him a look. "We had no idea that he had access to the castle."
"How'd he get in anyway?" Harry asked.
"I have my suspicions," Severus replied. He did not elaborate. "I have informed Dumbledore but he has dismissed them."
"Why?" Harry asked.
"He is far too trusting," Severus said, sitting down with a sigh. "Though he trusts me so I guess that is something."
"So do I, so you have Dumbledore and the Boy Who Lived backing you," Harry said. "You're not doing too bad."
"Perhaps. Anyway, there was no sign of him when we searched the castle the other night," Severus said. "Not that I expected to find him."
"You think he's gone for good then?" Harry asked, a mix between hopeful and disappointed.
"Unfortunately not," he replied. "You will have to be extra careful. I believe he will try to break in again."
"The password changes almost every day now. It's hard to keep straight," Harry said.
"It's better than ending up dead," Severus pointed out.
"I wouldn't be the one ending up dead," Harry muttered.
"Lose the arrogance, lest I start calling you Potter again," Severus said. "I told you that you would not last five minutes with him."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Anyway, if Black is prowling around Hogwarts, am I allowed to go to Hogsmeade? He won't be expecting it because I stayed back last time..."
The look on Severus face told him "no".
Harry shrugged. "It was worth a shot. See you later, Severus," Harry said, heading for the door.
"One moment, Harry," Severus said. "I've been doing some thinking. What did you say the name of the woman we...encountered during your first year was?"
"Lucretia..." Harry tried to remember. "Black. Oh. Are they related? What's this, a family vendetta?"
"Perhaps," he replied. "Something for me to think on. Goodbye, Harry."
Harry left, scowling. What had he ever done to offend the Blacks? Oh yeah, kill their master. He grinned. Perhaps, of all reasons, he was okay with this one.
"Hey, Harry! Ready for the game?" Angelina called from the Gryffindor table as Harry walked into the Great Hall that weekend.
Harry rubbed his eyes. "Sure. Who are we playing again?"
"Ravenclaw," she replied.
"Great, see you on the pitch," Harry said.
She nodded as Harry moved to sit with his friends. In truth, he had almost forgotten about today. Despite their more or less rigorous training, Quidditch had become such a routine part of Harry's life, the practice was almost negligible. Nevertheless, the thrill of the looming game was slowly creeping on Harry as his brain sharpened from its sleepy state.
"What are our chances against Ravenclaw, Seamus?" Harry asked his fellow Gryffindor who was usually up to date on sports.
"Eh, a little iffy. They have a new seeker, I hear she's pretty good," Seamus replied.
"She?" Harry asked.
"Cho Chang, very pretty..." he replied. "But we're still rooting for you of course."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Thanks."
Around midmorning, Harry headed down to the pitch to get warmed up for the game. He took his precious Nimbus 2000 and flew circles and loops around the pitch. The wind tossed his hair. The sky was dark and he hoped that the rain would hold off for another couple of hours.
Harry's team arrived with time for a pep talk from Oliver before the game.
"Okay, team, we need to start this year off well. We need to crush Ravenclaw like we did last year. Got it?" he asked. Everyone nodded eagerly. "Great, now about those new maneuvers I planned out..."
"Oh, come on! Look alive! Do you want to win or not?" Wood asked crossly.
"Look at the sky," Fred said. "This is going to be a miserable game."
"It's not raining yet," Wood said hopefully.
As if on cue, water started to fall from the sky. Harry sighed. He applied an impervious charm to his glasses.
Wood frowned. "Well, put a warming charm on your clothes. We're not forfeiting!"
"No one said anything about forfeiting," George said, grin beginning to form.
"But perhaps we can twist this to our advantage," Fred added, smiling slyly.
Wood rolled his eyes. "Come on, let's win this." He paused. "But do behave yourselves."
"Yes, mum," the twins said together.
Harry chuckled and stepped into the drizzling rain. The wind had picked up and he pulled his robes tighter. He added a quick warming charm to his gloves and robes.
"Ready, Harry?" Fred said, slapping him on the back.
"Always," Harry said, more confidently than he felt.
He mounted his broom and assumed his position across from the new Ravenclaw Seeker. She was small, thin and sat upon her broom with practiced ease. She gave him a cocky and challenging smile. Harry urged his broom forward a few inches, meeting her challenge. The whistle blew.
Harry shot off in the opposite direction from Cho, figuring he would scan his side first. In reality, Harry was worried that he wouldn't find it, for the rain had picked up already and it was difficult to see. The relative darkness rendered by the clouds did not help either. Harry was midway through his lap around the pitch when Cho zoomed past him. Not knowing if she actually saw something or not, he took off after her. The crowd below grew smaller and they ascended higher into the air. Suddenly, Cho dropped, leading Harry to believe she had been faking. He cursed. The crowd cheered and he knew someone had scored. Harry hoped it had been Gryffindor.
Harry could only see past the rain if he squinted and after about twenty minutes, the warming charm had worn off his clothes. He still had not caught sight of the Snitch. Again, he saw Cho shoot off into the air, almost completely vertical. As he pulled his broom around to follow, hoping it was legitimate this time, he saw something out of the corner of his eye. In the stands was an all too familiar fuzzy dark shape. The Grim. No one else seemed to have noticed, but when Harry looked at it, it barked. He snapped back to reality and zoomed up after Cho. The air grew chilled but Harry dismissed it as an effect of the high altitude on his wet self. He ignored the chills that shook his body as he followed her. Dark shapes began to blur the corners of his vision but, so focused on the Snitch, Harry did not register what they were. He could see the gold glinting just inches from Cho's fingers. He had to go faster, higher.
Then, Harry heard a scream. His heart dropped and the emotion flooded out of his body. Thinking it was Cho who had screamed, he pushed his faithful broom harder, higher. As he approached her, the blurred black shaped blocked his path. In the depths of his mind, Harry vaguely recognized them as dementors before he passed out, slipping into the blackness that emanated from the horrid creatures and falling, falling to the ground, hundreds of feet below.
Blaise Zabini scowled as he watched the Gryffindors gain points. Though he could not care less about Ravenclaw, he liked them better than Gryffindor. He glanced over at the teachers' table. Both his Head of House and Professor Lupin were missing. It didn't bother him. That disheveled man irritated him. Blaise looked back to the game to see Potter chasing Chang who was after the Snitch. They ascended higher and higher. He sneered, hoping that, with any luck, Potter would get hurt and they would have a better chance of winning when it came their time to play Gryffindor.
They disappeared into the dark clouds and many of the people around Blaise stood to try and get a better look. As if it would help. They were lost in the clouds, or... were those clouds? The dark, black opaque shapes blocked the sky.
"Dementors!" someone cried, terrified. A first year broke into tears.
In spite of his brave front, Blaise's heartbeat sped up. He hated those things. They were just so... cold. So cold. Nevertheless, he continued watching the sky, if only to keep an eye on the dementors.
Someone in the crowd screamed as Blaise watched a small dark figure tumble out of the black shapes. His red and gold robes told him that it was Harry. Despite himself, Blaise stood. He wanted Harry injured, not killed. Even he wasn't that cold hearted. The screams grew more plentiful but by the time Potter had almost reached the ground, several cushioning spells had been cast, their greenish glow brightening the field. Even before he could hit them, Potter slowed as if moving through molasses. In his peripheral vision, Blaise saw another dark shape fall from the sky. This one was not human though; it seemed to be Harry's broom.
Blaise thought fast. He glanced at the field. It looked like Harry would be alright with how well he would be caught, yet Blaise still yearned for Slytherin to have the advantage... Drawing his wand, Blaise aimed carefully and sent a blasting curse at the broom. It missed. He tried again. This time, the broom shattered, pieces blowing with the wind. He gave a small smile and glanced around. No one had seen him for they were too preoccupied with the happenings on the field. Harry had come to a gentle stop in the wet grass. Blaise sat back down and waited for the commotion to cease.
Harry came to in the hospital wing. This was becoming a much too frequent staple of his times at Hogwarts: being knocked unconscious and waking up on a cot. He reached for his glasses which were placed into his hand by Hermione.
"All right there, Harry?" one of the twins asked. Harry couldn't yet make out who.
"I think," he said. "What happened?""Dementors," Draco said darkly. "You fainted and fell. A whole bunch of people caught you, including Dumbledore I think."
"Who won?"Harry asked.
The twins looked at each other. "Uh, Ravenclaw," George admitted.
"But no one blames you, Harry. I mean, there was nothing you could've done," Fred said encouragingly.
Harry sighed. "Not been such a wimp maybe," he muttered, but no one heard him. "Oh well. I'll be back on my broom in no time, I expect."
This time, Hermione and Draco looked at each other.
"What?" Harry demanded.
"Well, um, about your broom," Hermione began, then looked to Draco for help.
"We think it got blown away and crashed into the Whomping Willow," Draco finished. "We collected, uh, what was left but..."
Harry swallowed hard. He loved that broom. It was one of his first magical possessions and it had never once failed him. Now what was he going to do about Quidditch? "I guess I'm off the team then," he said dejectedly.
"No, of course not," George said dismissively. "You can use one of the school brooms."
Harry scoffed. "Yeah, like I could catch the Snitch on a beaten up Shooting Star."
Ron punched him lightly in the arm. "Come on, where's your Gryffindor confidence?""With my broom," he muttered darkly. "Come on, let's go."
"Shouldn't you ask Madam Pomfrey?" Hermione asked.
Harry rolled his eyes, bad mood coloring his judgement. "I feel fine. She'll make me stay and quite frankly I don't want to. I've got a chocolate frog in the dorm, it's fine."
The twins grinned.
"Rebellious Harry," Fred said.
"I like it," George added.
Harry was beginning to as well.