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Chapter Six

The Way to Catch a Snitch


 

Over the next month, James found every opportunity he could to tease Scorpius about his ‘embarrassing incident’ in the courtyard, and from the not so witty comebacks, and the way that Scorpius would skulk off, his face a mortified pink, James knew it was working. He didn’t know if the Slytherin brat knew that it was Lysander who came up with the idea, or that it had been James who coerced Dominique into playing along, but one thing was for sure, in the following month, Hugo was a lot more upbeat, and James suspected he hadn’t been getting any more trouble from Scorpius Malfoy.

Sitting at the Gryffindor table early on the bright but windy October morning, James could feel his fingers trembling against his fork. He tried to eat, tried to get his strength up, but every time the fork came anywhere near his mouth his stomach churned uncomfortably and he felt nauseous. Only one thing ever got James Potter under this much stress and it certainly wasn’t a test coming up in one of his classes. No, today was the first Quidditch match of the year.

Slytherin verses Gryffindor.

As always, the evening before, James and Lorcan had taken part in their pre-match chat. The same things had been said since they both joined their house teams in their second year. Whoever won, it wouldn’t affect their friendship. They’d done pretty well the two years previously, and James was hoping the same would be true of today. Yes, whoever’s team lost, the respective player would be moody for a few days, but James knew there was no point in blaming his team’s loss on Lorcan, and he hoped Lorcan felt the same way. They were two players on a pitch of fourteen, they weren’t the be all and end all of the matches… especially seeing as neither of them were Seekers.

Lorcan had channelled his innate talent of hitting things that he’d become a Beater, and James, well… James was the Keeper. One day, hopefully the next year when Kathleen Yew left Hogwarts, James would get the Captain position, but every time he thought of it, the churning feeling returned. He’d get a lot of stick if he became captain and the Gryffindor team lost, especially since his father and grandfather had both been captains, and his father had been the youngest player in a century. Just another thing for James Potter to never live up to. He hated it.

James hardly noticed as Albus sat down next to him, staring thoughtfully at the toast before shaking his head and reaching for the pumpkin juice. Albus was also on the team, as a Chaser, and it was only after Albus had joined the team half way through his second year after Helena George suffered a rather nasty leg break and decided not to play anymore that James and Albus had found something other than their love of the game in common. Unlike Lily, who was still using every opportunity to live off their father’s fame, Albus disliked living in their father’s shadow almost as much as James did.

Glancing at his brother finally, James nodded slowly. If he wasn’t going to eat, there was no point in staying at the table. Albus seemed to have the same idea and followed suit as James got to his feet.

Cheers erupted from the Gryffindor table, boos from the Slytherin table, as James and Albus made their way out of the Great Hall.

“Hey!”

James turned around, smiling weakly as he saw Lysander hurrying after them.

“Good luck,” he said cheerfully, giving James a reassuring smile. He supposed that was the good thing about Lysander being in Ravenclaw; he didn’t automatically want Slytherin to win. In fact, Lysander liked watching Quidditch, he just didn’t play, so it meant he wanted Ravenclaw to win the cup. In true Lysander fashion, he’d chosen to wear blue instead of trying to pick a side for the match like so many of the other students, who were all either sporting red or green for the event.

James nodded to Lysander and left him at the marble staircase before making his way out onto the lawns with Albus.

“Dad sent us a good luck owl,” Albus said quietly as they trudged down the grounds towards the Quidditch pitch.

“That’s nice,” James answered absently. He seemed to have left his brain back in the Great Hall, worrying about what to eat for breakfast.

He knew as soon as he was up in the air he’d be fine, he always was, but it didn’t make the pre-game any less nerve wracking. Every pair of eyes in the school on him whenever the Quaffle came towards the Gryffindor hoops, all hoping he’d either save the ball, or that he’d let it through.

The quiet and nervous excitement saturated the Gryffindor changing room as James changed into his Quidditch robes and pulled on his keeper gloves. Albus sat on one of the benches, already changed, staring at his knees. Ignatius Fallon, their sixth year Seeker, was beadily watching a fly zoom around the room, probably wondering if his fast reflexes would allow him to catch the small creature. Kathleen and Seth, the two other Chasers, sat on either side of Albus, Seth nodding slowly as Kathleen explained their game plan again in a hushed tone. Pike, (Normally known as Peter Ikel) and Tessie both examined their beater’s bats for splintering, a pre game ritual that James assumed made them feel better.

Before Kathleen even had the chance to give them a spirit building speech, the roars of the crowd filtered through the door and Kathleen nodded in what James thought was meant to be an encouraging fashion. Pulling on the cuffs of his gloves, James followed her with the rest of the team, out onto the pitch.

James stared at the grass as Professor Cedron, the flying teacher, gave them a recap on good gamesmanship. Despite the changes over the years in the House Rivalries, the fact that it was no longer social suicide for a Slytherin to be friends with a Gryffindor, and visa versa, there was always going to be the Quidditch competitive nature. It seemed, friends and Quidditch didn’t mix.

As Keeper, Lorcan didn’t usually see the need to hit a Bludger in James’s direction, but James knew if he did, it was nothing personal. It was Quidditch. When it was game on, it was friends off!

Thumping his fist lightly against Albus’s shoulder in the most brotherly way he could, James hopped on his broom and soared off towards the Gryffindor goals as the whistle was blown and the balls were released.

With no new players that year, the two teams were fast and furious. Screams and cheers echoed around the stands, the crowd on it’s feet as soon as the Quaffle was caught by the first player.

James kept his eye on the large maroon ball, watching as it switched hands faster than banner material in Hogwarts. Both sets of Chasers were good, and this was probably going to be the most difficult game of the season. Herbert Ugby’s aim was particularly on the mark, meaning that whenever they got near the hoops, the Quaffle would usually be passed to him. It also meant that the two Bludgers were hit his way by the Gryffindor Beaters more often than any other player. In the two years James had been on the team, Ugby had been carted off to the Hospital wing fourteen times. (Five of which during Slytherin practices because their captain wanted him to get better at dodging the black balls and it’d failed.)

The Quaffle was down the other end of the pitch, Albus passing to Kathleen, Kathleen dodging a Bludger from Lorcan and doing an over the shoulder pass back to Albus. James watched in excited terror as Albus hurled the ball towards the goals.

TEN ZERO GRYFFINDOR!

James whooped, thumping his fist happily into the open palm of his other hand. Brilliant! First blood taken by Albus! However, this meant that Slytherin would come back with renewed vigour, and as suspected, within minutes, three Slytherin Chasers were shooting towards him, tailed by the Gryffidor chasers as the beaters tried desperately to be the first to the black balls.

The Quaffle was flying towards him as a tremendous speed, and James had to lay flat against his broom to get to the left hand hoop in time. He turned his broom as sharply as possible, and the Quaffle slammed into his stomach.

Doubled over on his broom, the Quaffle clutched against him, James heard the collective groan of the entire crowd. The Gryffindor (and anyone supporting them) half, groaning because that definitely looked like it hurt; and the rest because Slytherin hadn’t scored. James straightened up, holding the ball tightly before lobbing it to Seth, who went gliding quickly back down the pitch towards the Slytherin hoops.

Sometimes, in the flurry of activity with the Quaffle and Bludgers, James completely forgot about the tiny golden ball that zoomed unseen around the pitch, two players desperately looking for it, and it wasn’t until both Seekers dive-bombed towards the centre of the pitch that he remembered it was how the game ended. Gryffindor were only twenty points ahead with one hundred and ten points, and the Slytherin Seeker was in front of Ignatius. James hollered at his team mate, urging him on, his concentration ebbing from the Quaffle and the Chaser’s throwing it about.

ONE HUNDRED AND TEN TO ONE HUNDRED, GRYFFINDOR LEADING!

James cursed under his breath. He’d only realised the Quaffle was flying towards him at the last minute, and he was too far away to reach it before it soared through the centre hoop. Slytherins were cheering, Gryffindors were groaning, and James distinctly heard Kathleen screaming at him to get his head back in the game and to ignore the Seekers before she darted past him, Quaffle in hand.

The game continued at the break neck pace, James shooting from one hoop to the others to stop the Slytherin chasers from scoring. Gryffindor was still leading, but they never got a good enough lead to go on the defensive and merely stop Slytherin scoring. If Slytherin got the Snitch it was over. They needed a bigger lead. Albus had a bloody nose from where a Bludger had smacked him in the face, but he refused to go out, and instead had two bits of tissue stuffed up his nostrils. Seth was favouring his left hand as his right had a big black bruise over his knuckles, and Lorcan seemed like he was unstoppable when a Bludger came towards him.

Luckily, Gryffindor weren’t the only team with injuries. Ugby’s foot was limp, and Malfoy was cradling his shoulder when he wasn’t shooting after what James assumed must be the Snitch.

“SCAMANDER…. NOOOOO!” Malfoy howled, flying at full speed towards Lorcan, his arm outstretched.

Every eye watching the game turned on Lorcan Scamander as he swung his beater’s bat, hoping to collide it with the black ball screaming towards him. What Lorcan hadn’t realised, however, was that the tiny Golden Snitch was also zooming towards him.

Lorcan’s bat connected with the Snitch, and then the Bludger, sending the tiny Golden ball rocketing off in the other direction, and the Bludger straight into Malfoy’s arm.

The entire school held their breath as a golden blur shot across the pitch towards the Gryffindor hoops. If asked afterwards, James would say that he had no idea how he did it, whether it was his Keeper’s reflexes, or just pure dumb luck (of course he only said that to his friends), but he instinctively shot his arm out to the side, and the Snitch collided with his gloved hand.

His fist clenched around the game ending Snitch, James sat on his broom, dumbstruck at what had just happened. He’d caught the Snitch! This was… this was unheard of.

Professor Cedron blew on his whistle and the confused teams flew to the ground. Despite being dazed and amazed at what had just happened, the Gryffindor team were beaming. Their team had caught the Snitch! However odd it was… they’d won! The Gryffindor supporters were screaming and cheering, the Slytherin supporters groaning and debating the fairness to each other.

“This is pure…”

“Mr Malfoy, you will not finish that sentence if you don’t want detention!” Cedron snapped as he landed his broom and dismounted. The Gryffindor team exchanged smug grins. As far as they were concerned. That ended it! They’d definitely won!

Professor Morris, the Headmistress, came striding out onto the pitch and summoned Professor Cedron to talk to her. Cedron hurried off, and while he engaged with a hurried and hushed conversation with the Headmistress, the teams waited for what they both knew was about to happen. Gryffindor would be named the winners.

As Cedron returned, hands on his hips, he shrugged.

“Match is rescheduled for next week!” he announced loudly in a magically enhanced voice that boomed over the stadium.

James was sure that if he’d been watching from the sidelines, the sight of one thousand heads all turning simultaneously in one direction would have been hilarious, but right now, all he could register was shock… and confusion. They’d caught the Snitch. They’d won! Why did they need a rematch?

“But sir?” Kathleen demanded. “James caught the Snitch!”

“The rules clearly state that the game is ended when the team’s Seeker catches the Snitch,” he informed them all. Slytherin supporters were starting to hoot in appreciation, Gryffindor supporters were groaning.

“Can’t we just get back up there then?” Lorcan asked with embarrassment. No doubt he’d get some harsh comments from Slytherin supporters who would claim it was his fault the Gryffindor Keeper had been able to catch the Snitch in the first place.

“No can do,” Cedron answered. “We need to get a new Snitch before we can start the match. “It’s going to be next Saturday!”

Half an hour later, after much more debating with Professor Cedron, James sat in the Gryffindor changing rooms, the Snitch still clutched in his hand. He somehow didn’t want to let it go, despite the fact it hadn’t won them the match. In fact, it was a curse as it meant they had lost the lead they’d created and needed to start again from scratch in a week’s time.

Apparently, according to the rules of Quidditch… that was not the proper way to catch a Snitch.





Author's Note: Hello everyone and thank you for reading. I hope you liked this chapter. I absolutely loved writing it. (Merlin love 4am writing sessions when I have work the next day)
Well, it seems James and Lorcan won't be having the best week after this. Here is a little preview:


“Good morning?” Lorcan asked sarcastically, idly doodling a picture of a Snitch on the corner of his parchment.
 
“Oh, top!” James replied in the same sarcastic tone. “Thanks to that genius, Higgins, I now finally know the difference between a Bludger and a Snitch… think he can draw a picture of his ass so I know where to shove my foot?”


Please review, whether it's praise of criticism, it is worth while. You've read this much of the story, what's five more minutes? ;)
Chele. x

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