Fifth Year

Gryffindor versus Slytherin

Professor Longbottom was pleased to know that we had discovered to know that we had discovered the illness that his Mandrakes had contracted. He was maybe not so pleased when we told him that there was no known cure, or when he found out that the Plant Plague had spread to his Fanged Geraniums. I would’ve felt bad, but my arms still stung horribly even after three long soaks in a tub of Murtlap essence.

Halloween was a Monday, and I was pulled out of Potions to help decorate the Great Hall. This gave me a chance to find out who the rest of the Prefects were- one found out very little about this sort of thing when they had mountains of homework every night. On the other hand, Peeves-that-bloody-poltergeist kept wreaking havoc as we carved pumpkins that had strategically been placed up and down the Hall. It was a rather difficult job, for while the carving was easy- we just pointed our wands at the pumpkins and waved them in the shape we wanted carved out- Peeves kept smashing our completed jack-o’-lanterns, flying in front of us and disrupting our spells, and stealing our wands. This went on until Grace Liu, the Slytherin female Prefect and a Slytherin Chaser as well as one of Brooklyn’s worst-enemies-turned-friends, put him in his place with a well-aimed Bubble-Head Charm. Only, instead of encasing his head in a thick bubble, it surrounded the poltergeist’s entire body.

Peeves shrieked and pounded on the inside of the bubble as it floated above, unable to escape. We all doubled over with laughter and taunted Peeves until Professor Turner, the Astronomy teacher who was overseeing the decorations, reminded us that we weren’t here to tease the troublesome ghost.

Eli Lupin- the oldest son of Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley-Lupin, and the Slytherin male prefect- nodded to Professor Turner, causing her to smile, then clapped Grace on the back (he was closest). As Professor Turner turned to give advice to Mari on how to carve a particularly tall pumpkin, Eli turned his head into a jack-o’-lantern. His skin became dull orange and bumpy, his bright white hair (thanks to his Veela blood) shrank back into his skull, his nose became so flat and squished that it was hardly there at all, his eyes turned black- just the pupils, thank Rowena, but it was creepy enough- and his teeth elongated and sharpened at the tips.

Eli had some very odd blood. Descended from a part-Veela, a Metamorphmagus, a Weasley and a werewolf (and that was only his grandparents), he had been born with what seemed to be a permanently very red face and white hair that nearly glowed in the dark. Then, last year, he had come into his Metamorphmagus powers. I’ll say one thing for Eli- his timing was absolutely horrible. Headmaster Damien found it very hard to ignore Eli’s hair turning bright turquoise during his opening speech and consequently controlled the poor boy, using him to spy on other students- although, halfway through the year, we figured out what he was making Eli do and managed to hide Eli in the Room of Requirement so that he wouldn’t be forced to do our tyrannical Headmaster’s bidding. He’d been instrumental in his former master’s downfall, and now he had returned to his normal personality instead of the scared boy he’d been last year- a pretty decent guy, only with a habit of going out of his way to help Matt and Johnny in their pranks.

While Eli screwed up his face and turned his skin, eyes, teeth, nose and hair back to normal, I carved a pumpkin with the face he had been wearing. As I stepped back, pretty proud of my work, the Hufflepuff male prefect- Steven Dickens, an all-around goody-goody- nudged my arm. “Look,” he said, pointing his wand at the bubble. Instantly, it was buffeted around as if it was a ball of yarn and two giant cats were buffeting it around.

Laughing, I did the same, even though Professor Turner had noticed and was storming over, her blond hair falling out of her carefully pinned updo. Decorating sure was a lot of fun.

Thankfully, I got off scot-free and was allowed to attend the Halloween feast. That night, I stuffed myself full of baked potato between Lynne and Lanie, the former enjoying her thinly sliced beef and the latter eating two fairly large helpings of chicken-and-ham pie. The whole school was enjoying seeing Peeves still stuck in his bubble, and more than one student had slyly pointed their wands at it and muttered an incantation, so that now the bubble was glowing and turning different colors, shedding light of pink, orange, golden and purple onto the students below. Although I did see Johnny and Matt pointing at the bubble and muttering behind their hands- so it was possible that they were either planning a prank concerning it or plotting a way to free the poltergeist.

October died in an explosion of cold winds and slush, and November arrived in a blaze of glory, capping the mountains and rooftops in snow. I had to break up more than one snowball-fight-gone-wrong that first weekend, and ended up participating in an innocent snowball fight myself. In which my team won. Just kidding, we lost horribly to the Gryffindors, but it was forgotten in the excitement of the first Quidditch game.

The day of the first match- Saturday the 12th of November- dawned bright and sunny, the perfect day for a match. It was even quite warm and although I didn’t have to, I woke up early so I could get a good breakfast and hopefully a decent seat.

I was nearly finished with my muffin when the doors of the Great Hall burst open. In strode Nick Justice, his team behind him. The Great Hall fell silent immediately as they strode to the red table and sat down in a line with Nick at the center. As Nick pulled a plate of bacon and eggs toward him, the Great Hall burst back into chatter. I stuffed the last of my muffin into my mouth, chewing as I swung my trouser-clad legs over the bench and fastened my cloak. I headed for the doors, thinking, I can get a great seat if I leave now and can get to the pitch without any-

“Aly! Hey- Aly!

-interruptions, I finished my thought with a sigh. I turned to find out who had delayed my leaving the Great Hall.

It was Nick. He ran up to me and grinned, rather sheepishly. Running a hand through his already-tousled hair, he asked, “You’re coming to the match, right?”

I nodded, thinking about how he was just making his hair more ridiculous-looking every time he messed it up. “In fact, I was just going to score a seat.”

He bobbed his head, obviously nervous- about the match, I told myself. “Yeah. I- I better go. Have fun.”

He started to turn around and leave, but I reached out and said, “Nick.” My fingers brushed his wrist, and he froze.

“Good luck,” I told him softly before he could say anything.

He recovered and flashed me a trademark cocky grin. “Thanks.”

And then I left. All the way down to the pitch, I assured myself that people reached out and touched his arm all the time. He was a Quidditch star, a Seeker and a Captain. He probably had girls falling over themselves to get a look at him, let alone grab onto his wrist. He just wasn’t used to such softness.

Or maybe he isn’t used to you,said a voice in my head.

“Shut up,” I said to myself as I hurried down a flight of stairs and burst out the doors into the outdoors.

True to my word, I scored a great seat- right in the first row, next to the pitch. I was right next to the commentator’s box, so I would definitely be able to hear the commentary.

For the commentary was always most amusing.

Sure enough, the day’s commentator was none other than Lyndsay. This ought to be fun, I thought as I waved Rossalene over from where she stood confused higher up in the stands.

“And Gryffindor’s team is arrivin’,” she announced when the stands were full. “It’s one of two all fifth-year teams this year, aye, the other bein’ Ravenclaw.” Her accent seemed to get more prominent when a whole stadium full of people was listening to her. “And here they come! Led by Justice, Seeker! Then th’ Chasers, Braithnoch! Henshawe! and Mathieson! Followed by the Keeper, Panther! Bringin’ up the rear are th’ Beaters- Webb! An’ Wood!

“Comin’ from the other side of the pitch is th’ Slytherin team!” She pronounced Slytherin Slatherin, causing a few confused murmurs to mix in with the cheers. “First, the Captain an’ Keeper- Wood! Then the Chasers, Liu! Cheverell! an’ Vawdrey!” Rossalene and I cheered extra-loudly for Brooklyn as she walked onto the green, a breeze picking up her long, wavy dark hair and playing with the locks. “Followed by th’ Beaters, Trotter! and Greene! An’ last is the Seeker, Trotter!”

The Trotter brothers (fifth-year Brandon, who was nearly as arrogant as Nick, and seventh-year Seamus, who was even more conceited) practically strutted out, preceded by Will’s little sister Zola. I remembered her Sorting last year, especially how shocked Will had been to have a little sister in Slytherin. But Zola was sweet, nearly as nice as Brooklyn.

Seamus went to stand by Brooklyn, but she shied away and glowered at him. Seamus always tried to annoy her, even at home- they lived on the same street- and Brooklyn hated him for it.

“Captains, shake hands!” ordered the coach, Sir Sutherland. He was a short, skinny man in his forties who had been a star Gryffindor Seeker back in his day.

Nick held out his hand. Austin grasped it pompously- everything he did he did pompously, so I don’t know why I expected him to shake hands normally- and shook it firmly.

“Mount your brooms,” Sir Sutherland instructed. “On my whistle. One, two...”

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Fourteen people took to the air. Nate and Austin started guarding their ends, respectively. Brooklyn, Grace, Lea, Lorie and Conor started flying around. The last Chaser, Anise Cheverell of Slytherin, took possession of the Quaffle and started dodging Bludgers from Melissa and Tommy. The Slytherin Beaters, Zola and Seamus, flanked Anise, providing a personal guard and whacking any Bludger that came close with their clubs. Brandon shot up into the sky above the pitch, a smudge of green and silver on the blue, while Nick flew back and forth right in front of me, scanning the stadium for the Snitch.

“An’ it’s Cheverell, Cheverell with the Quaffle,” announced Lyndsay, adjusting her cloth headband (dark brown pattered with small green-and-blue anchors today). “Sh’ was the star Seeker two years ago, yet this year she’s a Chaser, ah wonder what ‘appened.”

Anise, small and lithe with a head of short blonde corkscrew curls, easily dodged a Bludger from Tommy before Zola could hit it and threw the Quaffle with all of her might. It soared toward the goals and Nate.

“SH’ SHOOTS!” roared Lyndsay. “SHE SCORES! Tha’s ten-naught to Slytherin, and Lorie Braithnoch with the Quaffle- ah, she’s hit by a Bludger from Zola Greene, she’s got bloody guid- sorry, Professor-” she apologized to Professor O’Cain, who was standing behind her, monitoring the commentary- “she’s got guid aim for a second-year, and Slytherin back in possession with Brooklyn Vawdrey dodging a Bludger-”

“GO, BROOKLYN!” Rossalene and I screamed as one.

“She’s gotten past Henshawe and sh’ shoots- nice save by the Gryffindor Keeper, Mathieson in possession and- Brandon Trotter cutting in front of him, is tha’ even allowed? Mathieson’s dropped the Quaffle and Liu’s picked it up, but- ah think Trotter’s seen the Snitch!”

So had Nick. In front of me, he urged his broomstick to go faster as he raced down to the other end of the pitch.

“-and th’ Snitch is gone, bad luck, boys... Liu pulls off a smooth lil’ reverse pass to- nevermind, ah believe it was intended to Vawdrey but the Quaffle’s been intercepted by Conor Mathieson of Gryffindor, did ye know that he’s a prefect as well and younger brother to Hufflepuff Chaser Jamie Mathieson? Anyone?”

“I did,” Rossalene whispered in my ear, “Jamie’s quite fond of him, apparently she’s very protective and refuses to let any girl come near him in case he gets his heart broken or something...”

“Don’t I know it,” I muttered under my breath. I’d fancied Conor Mathieson in first year, and I’d accidentally let slip to Jamie before I realized they were siblings. She’d made my life completely miserable until I had to let my crush go. She still didn’t like me very much, but at least we weren’t enemies.

“Ah did,” Lyndsay resumed, “but no matter as Mathieson shoots- ‘e scores! Ten-all’s the score and Vawdrey’s in possession...”

The game went on like that until the score was sixty-thirty Slytherin. Brooklyn had scored two goals, and each time, Rossalene and I had leapt to our feet, cheering.

It was just as Grace Liu scored another goal, making the score seventy-thirty Slytherin, that I saw it. The Snitch, golden and glittering, was hovering not two feet from my face. I could’ve reached out and grabbed it if I wanted to. I wasn’t the only one who’d seen it, either- Nick was hurtling toward me, arm outstretched; he did a barrel roll to dodge a Bludger from Seamus and was joined by Brandon. Nick then did something remarkable- carefully, he put both feet on his broom and stood, wobbling, his arms outstretched to keep his balance. Then he leaped.

Nick’s long fingers closed around the Snitch, and he caught his broom at the same time, but he was hanging from it and couldn’t control it. I ducked as he went by; people scattered, screaming, as broom and Seeker crashed into the stands right above me.

Slowly, I stood up as the Gryffindor Seeker emerged triumphant and grinning from the wreckage of the stands, the tiny golden ball clutched victoriously in his fist. He caught me looking, smirked, and winked at me. “Did you like my trick, Aly?” he asked as Lyndsay boomed, “One hundred and eighty to seventy, Gryffindor wins!” next to me.

The only thing I could think of to say was, “You don’t have to show off for me, Nick.” So I did.

He winked again with one of those blue eyes. “Oh, but I do.” And then he was sauntering off to his team, a proud grin on his face.

Lyndsay leaned down after announcing the stats and said in her normal voice, “Guid game, eh? Ah love the trick Justice pulled at the end- e’s a bloody guid Seeker, en’t ‘e?”

Instead of staring after Nick like he probably wanted me to do, I said to Lyndsay, “Yeah. Great game.” Then I started back up to the castle. When he glanced behind him to check if I was still there, I was gone.

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