Quidditch, Intense and Furious
"You sure about this, Harry?" Derek asked him atop the steps to the owlery, "You've seen how upset she gets at..."
"She needs to be there, Derek; any parent should. I'd've given anything for my parents to see me in action, as I'm sure yours would as well if they were still here," Harry said firmly, "It's time she starts being a mother again-and she doesn't have to know this is from me."
He unrolled the parchment in his hand and read over the letter to Amaralda Dickinson he'd composed once more:
Dear Mrs. Dickinson,
If you haven't heard by now, Emma has been accepted to the Slytherin Qudditch team and will be playing in Friday afternoon's game versus Gryffindor. I understand that you are a very busy woman, but it would mean the world to Emma if you were to be there to watch her in action. So please, for her sake, see if you can make the time to be there for her. She is a very talented Quidditch player, and I know she would make you proud if you were there to watch.
Nodding in satisfaction, he rolled it up and whistled for Hedwig. She swooped out of the owlery like a white flash and landed on his hand. "Here you go, girl," he told her, pressing the parchment into her talons, "Take it to Amaralda Dickinson, wherever she works, but don't let her know I'm sending it. I'll have an extra reward for you for doing this, I promise."
He gently launched her into the sky, where she quickly flew into the clouds and out of sight. "One problem done-I hope," he mumbled to himself, "And now for the other," he turned to Derek, "passing you off as a halfway decent Quidditch player...and in the same frame help you get over that fear of heights..."
For once, Harry was glad that Wood was an almost obsessive Quidditch captain, for the intense training sessions Wood put the Gryffindor team through for the remainder of the week more than caught Derek up on the many points of the game. Although Harry wasn't completely confident yet, he felt enough so to relax a little.
In no time, it was Friday afternoon, and he and Derek stood nervously behind the Quidditch stadium, his friend now decked in the familiar red Gryffindor Quidditch uniform. "OK, are you ready?" he asked the Muggle.
"Ready as I'll ever be, Harry," Derek swallowed a nervous gulp, "Just promise I won't get killed up there."
"I'll do everything I can-Fred, George," Harry hailed the twins over as they stepped outside for a moment, "Keep Derek safe up there by any means you can."
"Oh you can count on us, Harry; he's as safe as a babe in his mother's arms," George said grandly, putting an arm around Derek, who did not look convinced.
"Make sure of it, you two. And Ron and Hermione will be in the stands too, watching everything, Derek, so they'll back us up in the clutch," Harry told him. He took a deep breath, "And in a way, be proud of yourself; you're about to do something that I'll wager no Muggle's ever done before."
"Well, I'm sure that...scat!" Derek waved wildly at a mosquito buzzing around his face, "I'm sure that I'll remember this one way or another for a long time to come, Harry."
"It's time, all of you, let's go," Wood stuck his head around the corner. With one final deep breath, Harry hefted his broom and followed the rest of his teammates into the stadium. A loud cheer rose up as they and the Slytherin team walked to the middle of the pitch. He could see Emma on the other sidelines, walking behind her teammates, who noticeably did not look back at her. He quickly scanned the crowd, but to his deep frustration did not see Mrs. Dickinson anywhere. "Curse you," he growled at her furiously in his mind, "She's your only child! Well, maybe she's just running late, I hope..."
The blast of Madame Hooch's whistle brought him back to the field. "All right, as before, I want a nice clean game from all of you," she firmly instructed all the players, "And for those of you who are playing this for the first time, good luck. Take your positions."
Harry straddled his broomstick and kicked off the ground with the rest of the players-Derek noticeably staying lower than everyone else. He glanced towards the Gryffindor section to where Ron and Hermione had said they'd be sitting. They noticed him and gave him a thumbs-up, their wands in hand. He returned the gesture, hoping wands would not have to be used in this match...
With a shrill whistle, the balls were released below him, and broomsticks started flashing everywhere below Harry. "And heeeeeeeeeere we goooooo!" came the magically amplified voice of Lee Jordan at the broadcasting position. "The Quaffle in the hands of the very talented Katie Bell to start it off, a nice dive low there, toss over the shoulder-intercepted by Flint, he's going for the breakaway...no, snatched out of his hands by Angelina Johnson, who just misses one of the Bludgers, and now she tosses it down to Gryffindor's new team member, Derek Whitesell, who dives toward the ground-rather lower than usual, although I suppose he's trying a new tactic...look out, here come Beaters Derrick and Bole...a double hard check, and the Quaffle goes flying...!"
"Fred, George, get with it!" Harry muttered under his breath. Somehow, he doubted that as a Muggle, Derek could take the punishment wizards could take. Fortunately, the twins finally came zooming down from out of the sky to take a defensive position around Derek. Fred in fact grabbed for the falling Quaffle, only to have Bole crack him hard in the hand with his Bludger bat. The Slytherin Beater used his broom to whack the Quaffle towards Flint, who roughly elbowed Angelina out of the way (unfortunately out of Madame Hooch's view in the rush of players) and tossed the ball past Wood for the first score of the game. Harry growled in frustration. This certainly wasn't the start he'd wanted.
But then something caught his attention down below in the stands. He squinted hard...yes, he saw with a smile, Amaralda Dickinson had arrived. True, she did look grumpy and miserable as she plopped down next to Snape in the stands, and gave an icy glance at Dumbledore a few rows back before turning her gaze to the game, but Harry didn't care how she felt; she'd made it, and that was all that mattered. "Good for you," he murmured softly to himself with a grin, glancing down and seeing Emma also noticing her mother was there with a surprised but delighted expression, "There's still hope for you, Mrs. Dickinson..."
"Harry, heads up, it's behind you!" came Wood's call. Harry spun in time to see a bright flash of gold streaking across the sky: the Snitch. He rocketed off after it...but Malfoy zoomed right in front of him, blocking his path. "Get out of my way!" he shouted.
"How about you get off my tail, Potter?" Malfoy abruptly stopped, and seconds later, Harry crashed hard into him and found himself spiraling towards the ground. He frantically pulled up on the handle and leveled out of the nosedive, but a glance over his shoulder showed Malfoy diving for the Snitch, which was easily within reach. Without thinking it over fully, he rocketed underneath the Snitch and zoomed up straight at Malfoy. "This better work, or it won't be pretty...!" he begged in his mind.
Nearer and nearer the two of them came, the Snitch darting between them, almost as if tempting them to collide. Harry could hear the gasps of the crowd; they were expecting a crash. At the last minute, however, Malfoy, his face going white, jerked away. Harry did the same in the opposite direction and breathed a big sigh of relief. He glanced around for the Snitch, but it had vanished from sight. Oh well, he shrugged, it would return again...
But then, he was nailed from behind. "You cost me the Snitch, Potter!" Malfoy was furious, "There's a price to pay for that...shut up and mind your own business!" he barked down at Madame Hooch, who was blowing her whistle at him.
"You CANNOT attack the other team's Seeker when the Snitch is not in play!" she shouted at him, "Posession Gryffindor."
Malfoy looked furious as he zoomed away. Harry zipped up to a higher altitude, his eyes scanning the horizon for any further signs of the Snitch. As there was no sign of it, he turned back to the game below him-just in time to see Derek receive the Quaffle from Katie. Looking quite nervous, he flew towards the Slytherin goals, frantically dodged a Bludger as Fred and George assumed defensive positions alongside him. "Just believe it yourself, Derek, and you can do it, I know you can," Harry tried to inspire him in his mind, "You can score this goal and put Slytherin's Pureblood nonsense in the trash where it belongs."
Still, he had his fingers crossed as Derek approached the central hoop. In goal, Miles Bletchley was growling as he raised his arms to deflect any shot. Derek hesitantly stood up, raised the Quaffle high, and tossed the ball...
...nowhere; it was a fake-out, although Bletchley was fooled and lurched to the right. In the split second the central goal was untended, Derek threw the Quaffle...
"YES!" Harry pumped his fist in delight; ten points for Gryffindor, and a huge strike against Salazar Slytherin's views on wizarding blood. He found himself applauding much like the rest of Gryffindor's cheering section as an amazed Derek let out a cry of success and took high fives from the twins...
...before a furious Flint came charging in and brutally checked Derek off his broom. "Oh no!" Harry gasped in horror. With a flash, he zoomed out of the sky, dodging players and balls, and with one final burst of speed, just managed to catch Derek inches off the ground. "You all right there!?" he asked worriedly.
"I think so," Derek mumbled through drawn lips and a white face, "Did I score?"
"You certainly did; that was one for the ages. George," Harry handed Derek up to him as he flew by, "Keep a tighter watch, please!"
"Will do, Harry," George zipped towards Derek's broom and lifted him back onto it. Harry glanced around the pitch and thought for a moment he saw a flash of gold near the stands, but a closer look showed it was only a pocket watch or something similar. He heaved himself back up to a higher altitude, listening to Lee's commentary continue all around him: "...Angelina with the Quaffle, around the Hufflepuff seating section, dodges Derrick...but here comes Bole, and she swerves sideways-and loses the Quaffle. Picked up by Flint...nearly smashed in the face by a Bludger; I wish that had been a full impact..."
"JORDAN!" came Professor McGonagall's shout over the entire pitch.
"Only kidding, Professor. Quaffle sinking towards the ground...here comes Dickinson with an underhand grab...no, Flint again, looks like he's trying to pull it out of her arms. Angry words being exchanged between the two Slytherin Chasers; is there dissention in the ranks here? Derrick checks Dickinson hard from the other side, and Flint snatches the Quaffle away. Flint pushes Fred Weasley aside...no, maybe that's George...I don't know.; Anyway, Flint in on goal; Wood coming out to stop...what was that!?" Lee exclaimed as there was a flash of flame, and seconds later, Wood was frantically beating out fire from his uniform as Flint lowered his wand and tossed the ball through the unguarded net. Harry slapped the handle of his broomstick angrily; illegal use of magic by Flint, and apparently it hadn't been noticed by Madame Hooch, who was flying up to tend to Wood now as Flint seized the Quaffle again and scored two additional goals before Fred zipped up and blocked a fourth shot. He tossed it as hard he could towards Katie on the far end of the pitch...
...but Emma grabbed it in midair and zoomed back towards the Gryffindor goal. Again, a scowling Flint zoomed towards her and attempted to yank the Quaffle out of her hands, but this time she swung sideways out of his way, and, while still sideways, swung a tremendous throw that went past Wood for another score-then tore down like a comet, grabbed the ball again, and threw it almost blindly through another hoop before Wood could recover. Much as Harry hated to fall this far behind Slytherin, he was duly impressed; she really did have the talent to play professionally. On instinct, he turned back to the main stands...but noticed Mrs. Dickinson standing up and starting towards the aisle, purse in hand and apparently telling several teachers goodbye, he thought he saw her say. "What are you doing!?" he thought furiously, "The match isn't over yet; you've got to stay to the end for this to count!"
"...Dickinson on a tear; a third impressive goal over the shoulder!" Lee's commentary brought him back to the game, "Why Slytherin didn't think of adding her before, I don't know. And now she's going for the Quaffle yet again...what is this; Malfoy grabbing the bat off Derrick and smacking a Bludger right at her, making her pull off; what's going on here? Why are the other Slytherins so upset; she's singlehandedly given them a strong lead here? Dickinson undeterred apparently, still diving for the Quaffle-and Flint from above slamming into her, he's driving her down-into the ground. This is unreal-but what else do expect from the bullying, cheating players Slytherin always puts on the pitch..."
"Again, just kidding, Professor. Quaffle up for grabs again, Angelina's got it, tosses it to Whitesell; he's looking a bit more confident now. Zips over the Bludger there, ducks a roundhouse right by Bole, there's the throw-past Bletchley again, and the score is now sixty to twenty for Slytherin...and is that the Snitch again...?"
Harry had seen it too, hovering above the Ravenclaw section now. He took a quick glance at Malfoy, who hadn't noticed it yet, but did a split second later. Harry quickly put on a burst of speed towards it...
...but came to a sudden stop as two additional figures on broomsticks started approaching the pitch-two figures who were certainly not players. "What is this now; who's this coming towards...uh oh!" Lee was quite worried now, and Harry felt the same: it was the Gavertsons, having somehow gotten past the mystic wall or whatever Dumbledore had put into place-and they were heading straight for Derek, oblivious to their presence. And one was pointing a wand straight at him. He glanced towards the Snitch; Malfoy had a bead on it now and might get it...but there was something more important than the game at stake now. He rapidly turned away from the Snitch and frantically dove in front of Derek, spun, and shouted, "Protego!" as loudly as he could, shielding the incoming Imperius Curse.
"Don't interrupt us, Potter, the child is ours!" Thoedoric snarled at him, "Crucio!"
Harry dodged this curse, which hit the top of the Slytherin grandstand and set it ablaze. To his relief, magical spells started raining into the sky from the stands, including a flurry of blasts from Hermione and Ron-and the rest of the Gryffindor team came alongside Harry and fired off more shielding charms in front of Derek. The Gavertsons, ducking numerous spells, were quickly forced to back off. And coming up from below, yes, Dumbledore had taken Madame Hooch's broomstick and was now rising up to the Death Eater's level. "You have no business here," he declared loudly to them, "Leave at once, or we shall..."
"Avada kedavra!" Theodoric fired a blast at him, which Dumbledore easily avoided. He raised his wand again, but his brother took hold of it. "We're outnumbered for now," Harry heard him say as he waved his brother off towards the way they'd come, "We know what we need to know now; the Dark Lord will..."
He was cut off as a blast from the teacher's section nearly knocked him off his broom. Both Death Eaters quickly zoomed off the field and out of sight, Dumbledore slowly following to make sure they weren't coming back. Loud applause rose up from all but the Slytherin stands. Harry breathed a tremendous sigh of relief: another abduction attempt thwarted. It was only too bad it had to come at the expense of the game...
"Get out of my way!" came Malfoy's angry shout from above him. He jerked up to see Emma was in front of him, blocking his path to the Snitch much as Malfoy had done to Harry earlier in the match. "You'll suffer like you can't imagine if you don't move...!" he warned her furiously.
"Not until Harry's back in the hunt so it's a fair contest," was her equally furious retort; clearly she'd reached the breaking point with her team trying to suppress her-and for that Harry couldn't blame her at all. It was time to win it fairly. He zoomed up towards the darting golden ball. True to her word, Emma peeled off once Harry was level with Malfoy, who tried furiously to bump him away. Neck and neck they raced for the Snitch, their fingers groping for it, approaching one of the hoops on the Slytherin end. The Snitch zipped through the hoop...
...and Harry, without really thinking it through, somersaulted over the top of the hoop and just managed to grab hold of the Snitch. Flushed with delight, he quickly grabbed hold of his broom again as the loud thump of Malfoy crashing into the hoop at full speed rang out behind him. His adversary slid down the pole to the ground, his groan drowned out by the excited cheers of the Gryffindor team as they swarmed around him, victors once more. "We did it!" Derek was particularly happy as he gave Harry a strong high five.
"You did it too, Derek; congratulations," Harry grinned at him, "You did so great with that goal."
He gave Derek's hair a strong rubbing and accepted high fives from his teammates as well...but then his gaze fell outside the pitch, where Amaralda Dickinson was walking away from the stadium, apparently paying no attention to what was going on behind her. Harry's rage bubbled up again. Even though it appeared Snape was with her, he didn't care what the Potions master might say to him right now. With his teammates' attention distracted, he zoomed out of the stadium until he was directly in front of Mrs. Dickinson and Snape. In a flash he lowered himself to the ground in front of them. "Where do you think you're going, Mrs. Dickinson!?" he demanded curtly at her.
"Back to the office for your information, young man," she was curt as well once she recovered from the shock of his sudden appearance, "I have lots of work still to do..."
"You left before the match even ended!" he was getting very hot under the collar, "Emma was counting on you to...!"
"You watch your tongue, Potter," it was Snape's turn to get curt, "Mrs. Dickinson is a very important witch, and you are risking more than points from Gryffindor..."
"I don't care!" Harry snapped at Snape, "She's your daughter, damn it!" he upbraided Mrs. Dickinson, "I don't care how busy you are, you should stay to the end for your child! I would give anything to have had my parents watch me play...!"
"And after what they did, they deserved what they got!" Mrs. Dickinson unexpectedly snapped at him, "And it's clear you're just as arrogant and irresponsible as they were, Potter!"
"And what is THAT supposed to mean!?" he was confused as well as infuriated now.
"Oh, I guess Emma never told you..."
"Allow me, Amaralda," a dark grin was spreading on Snape's face, "It's time you learned the cold truth, Potter," he smarmily turned to Harry, "It's your parents' fault that Tiberius Castlebert is dead."