You Snooze, You Lose
It was the last week in April, Spring was in full swing and the grounds of Hogwarts were in bloom. The warm, dipping sun was shining out though the wispy clouds melting the last of the Winter frost, birds chirped pleasantly in the bushy trees, and the green grass positively beamed as it enclosed patches of sweet smelling flowers. Now that the days were getting longer and warmer after the cold, the spirits of student and teacher were beginning to rise once more. All were spritely and happy, all except one.
"Katie! Will you look where you're GOING! You almost knocked Alicia off her broom! HARRY! You've been looking for the Snitch for about half an hour now! Will. You. Concentrate! FRED, GEORGE!" The voice positively erupted in volume when it came to a certain pair of twins.
Fred and George Weasley stopped duelling with their Beater's bats and looked towards the goal hoops sheepishly. All eyes were on them.
"Uhh, we were jus-"
"You two. Here. NOW," bellowed the Keeper, silencing George's pleas. They leaned forward and urged their Cleansweeps across the pitch to come to rest in front of the seething face of the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain Oliver Wood.
"This is the THIRD time today I've seen you two fooling around when you're supposed to be practising the technique we discussed! And you were distracted at our last two practises too! Or does it no longer matter to you two that we have a match against Slytherin in one week," the Keeper fumed, hands on his hips and eyebrows furrowed.
"Of course it matters," reassured Fred.
"It couldn't matter more!" exclaimed George. "Which is why we've been practising bat to bat combat!"
"You know what the Slytherin Beaters-"
"-Derrick and Bole are like!"
"-They're sneaky, like to fly past-"
"-with their bats outstretched-"
"-and make it seem like they've accidentally-"
"-whacked you one!"
"This practice is crucial for our own safety," they finished in unison.
Oliver simply stared at them through half lidded eyes, before massaging his temples and counting to ten.
to bat combat," he repeated slowly in affirmation, unable to keep the
exasperation out of his voice.
They nodded eagerly, red hair bouncing.
Oliver paused for a moment in thought and hazarded a glance around at the rest of his team. The players, who had originally been listening to the exchange between the Captain and Beaters, had now grouped together and were talking amongst themselves in jovial tones. The large Quaffle was being spun on the end of Alicia's finger as Angelina seemed to be divulging a story to them complete with animated hand movements; the Golden Snitch and Bludgers raced around the pitch forgotten. Lee Jordan, the Quidditch commentator and hard-core Gryffindor fan, was in the side-lines watching them practise as he usually did, giving Oliver the thumbs up when he spotted him looking. Fred and George had gone back to duelling. He sighed in defeat.
"Right that's it," he said in a culminating tone, "EVERYONE ON THE GROUND."
He dived and touched down onto the soft grass with a thump, soon followed by the team; they waited expectantly for him to speak or rather erupt as was the most likely outcome.
"What is wrong with all of you? I've never seen you all so distracted and unfocussed before, especially you two," he looked pointedly at the twins, who averted his gaze. "We've got seven practise sessions left including this one until the match. Seven. I've seen the Slytherins practise and they're good this year, better than last, which means we have to up our game if we're going to beat them. WHY am I the only person on this team who seems to be taking this seriously?"
"We are taking this seriously Wood," sighed Angelina. "But I think I speak for everyone when I say that since these practise sessions have gotten later and later in the day, it's getting harder to care about practising when all I can think about is dinner."
A loud grumbling coming from the twins caught everyone's attention as they put their hands over their stomachs. "Seconded-"
The chaser raised an eyebrow at them.
"Well you did say dinner," they said in a 'Wasn't it obvious?' sort of tone.
"She's right Oliver," said Harry meekly. "It's almost getting to the point where I groan at the concept of a gruelling practise session after a long day."
"We're in the holidays now so I guess it won't be like that anymore, but still I'd rather be inside," agreed Katie. Alicia nodded also.
The Captain considered this new piece of information for a second. It had never occurred to him that concentration levels would wane as the day went on, he was always on the ball at all times of the day when it came to Quidditch. But they weren't him and he could see that this was something he had to nip in the bud if they had any chance of beating the Slytherins; perhaps he could remedy this with a little bit of slot shuffling…
"Alright you lot, I can see this is a mutual problem. I'll see if I can get us some different slots tomorrow. There's no point continuing here you're all too distracted, we might as well call it quits for tonight," stated Wood. "…Think you three can wrangle the balls in?" he added turning to the boys, ignoring the 'That's what she said!' coming from the side-lines.
The twins stood up straight and came to salute. "YES SIR CAPTAIN SIR!" And they shot into the air after the pair of bewitched nuisances.
Harry also sped upwards and went after the tiny Golden Snitch. It took a while before he found it lurking next to the goal hoops but it was soon caught. The twins were already on the ground when he got there each wrestling a Bludger like their lives depended on it, it seemed that the promise of dinner had incurred some action from them at last. Soon, they too were imprisoned in the case once more and the group, joining with Lee, finally left for the changing rooms.
The sun was now almost set, and Harry and Ron had just left dinner and were walking up Gryffindor tower, every once in a while crossing the orange patches of sunlight that was let in by the narrow windows. Hermione had gone straight to the library after the meal to 'Get an early start on her essays' even though they weren't due in for another week. Harry and Ron didn't understand her one bit.
"I hope Wood manages to change the times for practise," began Harry. "It's the Easter holidays now so I hope he at least gives us a lie in as well."
"You know Wood, he probably missed the meal so he could go straight to Hooch and study the time chart," said Ron with a smirk. "Basic human needs like food and sleep mean nothing to that bloke when it comes to Quidditch."
Harry sniggered in agreement as they climbed the final staircase and approached the portrait of The Fat Lady.
"Password?" she asked.
"Codswallop," said Harry, and the portrait swung open just in time for he and Ron to be hit with what can only be described as a wall of sound.
"EIGHT O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING! IS HE OUT OF HIS TINY MIND!?" came the unmistakable bellow of Fred or George.
Harry and Ron, after jumping so much in fright and nearly falling over the banister, quickly moved into the common room to find the Gryffindor Quidditch team huddled around the message board, where it seemed that Wood had pinned the new timetable. Ron had been right.
"Merlin's beard Fred, you nearly made us fall off the bloody staircase!" hollered Ron, clutching his chest and answering Harry's unspoken question.
It was George who turned to Harry though, completely ignoring his hyperventilating brother. "Eight o'clock. He's got us up at the sodding arse crack of dawn! In the holidays too!"
"I'm gona kill him!" continued Fred, now walking away from the group and ignoring the stares of a few random third years huddled in the corner. "If George and I are up past midnight in the kitchens getting snacks and he's got us up at sunrise, how am I supposed to get my beauty sleep NOW?" he huffed, throwing himself into one of the armchairs and crossing his arms in a sulk.
"Don't worry Freddie I'm pretty enough for the both of us," George threw over his shoulder as he too claimed one.
The Chasers rolled their eyes. Harry was just about to comment that he could do with a few more hours every once and while, when the portrait swung open once more to reveal the Scotsman himself.
Wood moved into the room and paused. He took in the trio of Chasers tsking away to themselves, the glaring expression of Harry and the murderous faces of Fred and George directed at him. He blanched and addressed them.
"I see you've all seen the new timetable," he said brightly.
Their expressions didn't falter.
"Look, it was either that or we went back to the times we had. The Slytherins have the pitch booked every day for the final week from 1pm 'til 5pm, I couldn't change Flint's mind," he stated. "But I think an early start is better than a late one even if it is everyday-"
Fred opened his mouth.
"-and there'll be NO arguments," finished Wood.
Fred closed it again.
"I suppose it'll get it out of the way," said Alicia in an apparent change of heart.
"True," said Katie, "and it'll wake us up I guess."
"I'm actually a morning person," came the resolute voice of Angelina. "I don't have a problem at all."
The twins forgot to feel angry for a moment and simply turned to stare at her in disbelief, as did the eavesdropping third years, eyebrows almost vanishing into their fringes.
"Good," said Wood, "glad that's settled. See you all bright and early tomorrow." He made a show of looking at his Beaters, who simply grumbled, and with that he started up the staircase to the seventh year dorms. He was sure his team would be on the ball this time, and if not he'd figure out something; he was going to win the cup this year even if he had to Imperio the lot of them.
Harry sighed in defeat and slumped onto the settée, he conceded it was probably better than the late shift, and like the girls said it'd be over and done with before long. The Chasers had also decided to depart up to their dorms, leaving Fred and George, the third years, Harry, and Ron - who upon hearing all this was currently sporting a look of triumph.
"Unlucky, chaps," he said in feigned sadness moving around behind the seating area. "I feel for you I really do, and I just want you to know that I'll be thinking of each and every one of you when you're out there battling against the elements in the freezing cold and rain, when I'm tucked up all cosy and warm in my nice, soft be-WOAH!" he yelled as he narrowly avoided a flying copy of 'Quidditch Through the Ages' which smacked against the far wall.
"That nearly blinded me!" Ron cried indignantly, pointing an accusing finger at his brothers.
Fred simply leered. "Butterfingers."