Chapter 19: Quidditch
Back at Hogwarts, the months flew by and, unusually, it remained cold. The new Whomping Willow was planted and grew each day until finally it was about five times as high as any man. Most students avoided it because, if you were to get too close, the two-metre wide branches would slash at you. When it was first planted, several second year students were sent to the hospital wing with nasty cuts and concussions. As April began, however, winter seemed to realise what month it was and gradually began to give way to spring. Cold, frosty mornings were replaced by beautiful warm sunrises and the snowy grounds melted away to reveal colourful plants and pretty flowers.
So early April (Term 3) brought sunshine and… that’s right, Quidditch Matches.
It was a Friday and the hype for the deciding Quidditch match of the season tomorrow was paramount. Tomorrow, every student who wasn’t in the hospital wing would flock down to the Quidditch pitch to watch Slytherin and Gryffindor compete for the Quidditch Cup.
As the Slytherin team walked down the corridor, Gryffindors would reach under their robes as if to grab their wand and laugh as the Slytherin team jumped and scrambled for their wand as if there was to be a duel. The Gryffindor’s would never actually draw their wands, just walk away sneering and laughing at the boys’ expressions.
Every Slytherin student was on edge. Slytherin hadn’t won the cup for five years and we were convinced that this just had to be our year. The common room was alight with tension tonight. Barely anyone spoke and if they did, they whispered for the fear of being snapped at by the nervous Quidditch team.
I was in the common room. It was almost deathly silent except for the sounds of some third years playing wizard chess in a far corner. I sat with Avery and Infirmos. We were lounging on the couch and whispering excitedly.
‘This has to be our year!’ Avery hissed. ‘We haven’t made the final for three years or something!’
I felt joy rush through me as I pictured the Slytherin team’s captain Johnny Flint hoisting the Quidditch Cup above his head proudly.
‘Oh gosh! I hope so!’ The only girl on the Quidditch Team sighed. I think her name was… Layla Perkins? She was sitting on the opposite couch by herself and had obviously been listening to our Quidditch Talk.
I nodded at her. ‘You’ll do fine!’ I assure her encouragingly. ‘We have a better team this year!’
‘Yes,’ Infirmos agreed. ‘Jocker makes a great seeker!’
The third year Slytherin, Henry Jocker, had made the team for the first time this year and so far, he had caught the snitch in every game. He was a fantastic flyer and a brilliant catcher. Slytherin had been very impressed with him.
Scanning the common room, I spotted him. He sat by himself in a corner looking very pale. He was staring into the fire and as he lifted his hand to push his swept over, side-fringe out of his eyes I saw his hand was shaking.
Layla followed my gaze. ‘I should probably go talk to him. Look how nervous he is. I’ll see you three tomorrow!’ She winked and twinkled her fingers in a kind of wave and moved off to talk to him.
Her long, dark hair fell to her lower back and it was shiny. It swished as she walked and a chunk fell over the front of her shoulder. She brushed it back gracefully without breaking her stride. Avery was staring after her with a blank look in his eyes.
I shoved him playfully. ‘Archemus! Are you insane? She’s a fourth year!’
‘I can still think she’s pretty!’ he whispered to me indignantly.
‘Oh you think of her as more than that!’ Infirmos taunted quietly. ‘We read your diary! “She is my hero! She’s so beautiful! I love her and I want to marry her! I –”’
‘I don’t keep a diary!’ Archemus hissed, going a dark shade of red. ‘I’m not a girl!’
I laughed loudly in the silence of the common room. I glanced around and saw heads turned towards me. I felt my neck grow hot so I cleared my throat and turned back to the conversation.
‘Oh yes you do keep a diary! Layla Perkins this, Layla Perkins that!’ Infirmos grinned gleefully.
Regina snorted and giggled as loudly as I had laughed.
‘Oi! Keep it down! I’ll hex your ears off you don’t be quiet!’ Flint snapped. ‘In fact… Go to bed! All three of you!’
‘Sorry,’ I said quietly as we passed him to go to bed.
We changed and got into bed but I couldn’t sleep and I knew I wouldn’t be able to so I lay awake for a while – just thinking. Voldemort hadn’t troubled Hogwarts anymore since he had gotten what he needed which tended to scare me more than when he possessed my friends. What could he be up to? What was he waiting for? The right time to attack? Had he already attacked in the middle of the night and taken Bellatrix Lestrange with him? Had Dumbledore covered it up? Did he even know? Did it even happen? And so my thoughts went in full circles until finally…
I woke with a start feeling surprised I had even fallen asleep last night. At first, I didn’t know what had woken me and then I heard a crowd erupt in cheers from outside my window. My heart lurched as I pulled open my hangings to find my dormitory deserted. Panicking, I hurried to the window and looked out across the grounds. The sun was shining and there was no wind. Perfect playing conditions.
The Quidditch Pitch was swamped with half of the people wearing red and the other half wearing green. I saw the teams walking out into the middle of the pitch to shake hands before they started. How come they didn’t wake me?
I pulled on my Slytherin supporter things and hurried out of the deserted common room, through the deserted corridors that wound through the deserted castle and out into the sunny grounds.
I sprinted until I reached the pitch, puffing and clutching the stitch in my side. I was pleased to see the balls hadn’t even been released yet.
I ran up the stairs into the stands where the Slytherins were sitting. I scanned the chairs where people draped in green and silver were crowded together talking excitedly. Any of them could have been my friends. Finally, I spotted them. Near the front and crowded by people. There was no way I was going to get down to them so I walked over to where the Gryffindors were cheering. A red haired girl waved to get my attention and beckoned me over to sit with her. Confused I went closer and saw that the girl under the big lion-hat was Lily.
‘Hi!’ She yelled to be heard over the screams and shouts of the crowd. ‘What are you doing here?’ So I told her what happened that morning and she laughed. ‘And they didn’t wake you up?’
‘Ha ha! Come sit with us!’ So I squished through the gaps between the red and gold encrusted people and sat down next to Lily. ‘I was just about to explain quidditch to Kelly,’ she told me. She turned her head away and I listened as she explained the most popular wizarding sport in the world. ‘The game is played on broomsticks – see how the players are holding them down on the ground there – and they fly around trying to score goals with a big red ball called the Quaffle. It is the ball that the three Chasers on the team handle and try to put through the hoops at their end of the field. The keeper defends the hoops for their team. The two, moving black balls are called Bludgers. They are about half the size of the Quaffle but about twice as hard. The Beaters carry clubs that they use to hit the Bludgers in the direction of the other team’s players. The last ball is called The Golden Snitch. It is an extremely fast, tiny golden ball, which has tiny wings. It flies around the pitch by itself trying to avoid the gaze of the Seekers. The last player on the team, The Seeker has to try to catch the tiny golden ball. This is a difficult job because it is almost impossible to see. The Seeker who catches the snitch ends the game and earns one-hundred-and-fifty points for their team. Oh look! They’re starting!’
I smiled proudly and turned my attention to the game.
A Gryffindor sixth year was commentating. ‘So they have kicked off from the ground! The balls are released! And the match begins!
‘Kape! Jasmine Kape from Gryffindor handles the Quaffle, dodging Davis, in one easy swerve. Great flying Jasmine! She passes to Sorser. Sorser dives to avoid Perkins, passes the Quaffle to Soyer and… Gryffindor scores! Bad luck Flint!’
The Slytherin keeper looked angry. The look on his face was mutinous and I think I would have fallen off my broom if I were Soyer.
The Gryffindors erupted in screams and shouts. They stood up on their chairs and stamped and clapped, yelling and screaming. I was the only one left sitting. I felt amiss amongst the sea of red and gold.
‘And Slytherin is in possession of the Quaffle! Davis flies across the pitch! Well block him, Sorser! Ugh! Davis avoids losing the Quaffle by passing to Hadees. Hadees from Slytherin has the Quaffle! He dodges Melane’s bludger from Gryffindor and shoots for the hoops! Look out, Sally! Yes! And Sally Gourger saves Slytherin’s shot at the hoops! Great job Sally!”
I booed along with the rest of the Slytherins and Lily looked at me and smiled like she was telling me to be a good sport. I poked my tongue out at her playfully.
The Slytherin team looked menacing and dangerous out on the pitch. Henry Goyle and Senegorus Crabbe, the beaters, were hitting the bludgers at every Gryffindor member they could see. I laughed a little at the mad look on their faces then directed my attention to the Seekers. They soared above the game, searching the ground for the snitch. The Gryffindor Seeker, a girl who looked to be in about fifth year shot past Jocker nearly knocking him off his broom.
‘Is that the Snitch you see, Hope? Yes, yes! There it is! Down near the ground. Hope Geneal has seen the snitch; she dives towards the ground, Jocker hot on her tail – Look out, Hope! Ugh! Geneal is forced to dodge a bludger hit by Henry Goyle. Jocker is knocked off course by Geneal’s crazy swerve and both have lost sight of the snitch. Bad luck Geneal!’ I shifted my attention back to the game. ‘And Slytherin takes control of the Quaffle. Kape attempts to block Hadees but he passes to Perkins. Layla Perkins! Perkins has the Quaffle! Gourger! Pay attention she’s about to score!’
The Gryffindor Keeper was having a conversation with Melane, the beater.
‘Ooo! Ouch! Perkins is hit by a well-aimed Bludger hit by Judith Nevel! And Gryffindor takes possession of the Quaffle! Sorser –’
Layla was still on her broom but she was clutching her stomach with one hand and she was descending slowly down towards the ground. I imagined Archemus’ face when he saw that she was hurt and chuckled to myself.
‘Soyer, Kape, Sorser, Soyer!’ The Quaffle was passed expertly between the Gryffindor Chasers. ‘Yes! Kape! Go, go, go! She shoots… SHE SCORES!!! And Gryffindor lead, twenty points to zero!’
The match continued until…
‘Gryffindor scores! Gryffindor leads one-hundred and seventy points to a hundred! Come on, Seekers! We’re getting a bit bored out here!’ And he was right. I was so bored I thought I might drift off to sleep but I was shaken awake as I heard the commentator cry, ‘And Henry Jocker has seen the snitch!’ My eyes flew open and I sat up straight in my chair. The Gryffindors were all standing on their chairs so I couldn’t see what was going on. I stood up and searched the pitch until I spotted Jocker diving for the ground with Geneal on his tail. ‘He’s nearly at the ground now!’ Swoosh! ‘Geneal has pulled out of the dive early! I think that was the safer option… What’s this? Jocker has pulled out of the dive and is heading parallel to the ground instead of upwards! He leans forward and – Oh no! Henry Jocker has caught the snitch! Slytherin gains one-hundred and fifty points. Slytherin wins!
‘Woooh!’ I yelled and stamped and clapped and jumped on my seat. The other side of the stands was going crazy but I was the only person still standing on my seat on my side of the stands. The Gryffindors had all turned to look at me but I kept on jumping and clapping. A joy had filled me that nothing could supress. Slytherin had won the Quidditch Cup. We needed to win by at least sixty points and we had won by eighty! Lily looked up at me with an amused expression but the rest of the Gryffindors looked furious. I spotted Potter, Black, Lupin and Pettigrew in the crowd, disgust clouding their jaunty smirks. But for once – I couldn’t have cared less!
That night, the common room was full. Every table was rid of games and full of food. Every lolly you could think of was in the room and I stuffed myself until I was extremely full. I found myself thinking about the last semi-party we had had in here. Regina kissed me. Ugh! I still didn’t know why she did that! She hadn’t mentioned it at all in the last four months. She had just let it hang there like a black veil, obscuring any thoughts of friendship. She acted like there was nothing wrong but there was. There was a barrier around me and around her that ceased any movement toward each other. And when we bumped barriers she would snap at me like she normally does and we would grow further apart. Not that I wanted to be anything more than friends with her! I was only eleven after all. But if I was going to admit that I had a crush on someone, it wouldn’t be Regina. I shook myself out of the trance and tried to enjoy the night.
And I did.
It was three o’clock in the morning when I finally traipsed up to bed. The party was still raging downstairs but it was silenced to a dull roar when I closed the dormitory door.
I climbed into bed and blocked out the noise from downstairs and, falling asleep almost instantly, I didn’t dream at all.