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Once again, this is an asterix chapter, meaning that if you have the song mentioned at the beginning of the chapter and you set it playing when you see the asterix, the rest of the chapter should correspond to the song. Enjoy!









                             

                                 Beautiful banner by Ande @ TDA

On the Field of Battle
 
Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf feat. ‘Lil Wayne
 
I would have thought that the knowledge that you are going to be leapt upon by half-a-dozen congratulatory, but sweaty team-mates would be inducement not to score a goal.
- Arthur Marshall

 




To the collected relief of Gryffindor and Slytherin, and the chagrin of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, the day of the match dawned bright and clear. It was cold, admittedly, but it was a bright, brisk cold that held not a hint of rain or anything like it.

James dressed silently in his room, easily blocking out Sam’s excited chatter. They both had their ways of preparing for a game; James quietly, Sam loudly.

The rest of the boys in their dorm didn’t bother them, other than clapping them silently on the back as the left the room to go to breakfast.

James followed, his stomach twisting painfully in a way that had nothing to do with hunger.

As he entered the Great Hall, he could feel it, instantly. The staring. Even though nothing had changed and no one had seemed to move, he could feel the thousands of eyes boring into him, an almost tangible presence that did nothing to improve his nerves.

He didn’t need to be told how important this match was. Everything was riding on it, perhaps not in relation to winning the cup, but pride-wise…this was it. The only chance that Gryffindor had to get back at Slytherin for all their dirty tactics in the previous season.

James went to sit quietly with the rest of his team. Most of them looked a little the worse for wear, not least Rose, who was staring at her porridge with a glum expression.

‘Perk up, coz,’ James poked her in the ribs and she glared at him.

‘I hate this match.’

James frowned.

‘Hate it as much as you like. Just don’t–’

‘I know, I know, enough already. Like you haven’t told me a million times.’ She sighed. ‘I’m not about to let Scorpius have any leeway because he’s my friend, James. I just hate playing this game.’

James mumbled something under his breath and shot a dark glance towards the Slytherin table, where the blonde boy sat with a look of resignation on his face.

He turned his attention back to the food in front of him, which suddenly looked about as appetising as a pig’s breakfast. Groaning, James pushed the plate of bacon and eggs away from him.

‘James!’

Lily was hurrying down the table, sliding breathlessly into the seat next to her brother. Her best friend Tessie followed hot on her heels and sat down beside her.

‘You’ll never guess!’ Lily burst out.

James found it in himself to be vaguly surprised. This wasn’t like Lily. She was always focused, the one who tried to convince him to eat before a game, since Anastacia made herself scarce all day whenever Gryffindor were playing.

‘What?’ he asked curiously, interested despite himself in what could make his sister forget her established routine.

Tessie looked as if she was going to explode if she held the news in any longer.

‘The entire Slytherin seventh year is confined to their dormitories for the rest of the day!’ she replied in an excited and slightly awed tone. ‘Some students from other years, too.’

Rose stared at the younger girls, her jaw hanging open and her face blank of all expression.

‘Are you serious?’ she breathed finally.

Lily nodded vigorously.

‘Heard it from Al as we came in. He got it from Scorpius; apparently, there was some sort of fight in their common room last night, and some of them are pretty banged up. And not just the boys,’ she continued, ‘the girls were in on it too. They’ve been in their dorms all night, ever since the Professors caught them. They’re not allowed to come to the game or watch it or speak to anyone. Total isolation. Except for the seventh year players, of course,’ she added with a slight trace of disgust, ‘the Dandy swore black and blue that they didn’t have anything to do with it.’

James nodded vaguly, his mind turning back to the match as soon as he heard that the Slytherin team were not going to have to change their line-up.

‘Well, that’s going to make them cranky,’ chuckled Sam quietly.

James nodded again, rising slowly from his reverie.

‘Yeah, too right;’ he agreed, ‘listen, Lily, Rose, you be careful today, right?’

Lily rolled her eyes.

‘Yes, mum.’

Rose didn’t seem to have heard. Either her mind was completely absorbed elsewhere or she was doing a very good job of ignoring him. James let it slide, hoping that she was thinking up ways to stay away from the Slytherins on the pitch.

‘Time to go, team,’ he said briskly and, with more confidence than he felt, he rose to his feet and sauntered out of the hall.





The dressing rooms were buzzing as the team changed. No one could remember a whole year and then some being punished like this before. No one seemed to have the full story, either, which was unusual, so they could only speculate on what had happened.

‘Reckon they’ve all gone barmy, mate,’ Sam stated, pulling on his robes over his clothes, ‘Merlin knows I would, if they’d stuck me in Slytherin.’

‘Nah, they’d be fighting over some girl, if you ask me,’ was Josh’s opinion, ‘though why they’d want to fight over a Slytherin girl is beyond me!’

‘Or a boy;’ James interjected, ‘apparently Al said some of the girls were dishing it out just as bad as the guys.’

As they left the change rooms and walked towards the pitch, brooms in hand, Rose was still silent, seemingly oblivious to the talk swelling around her. James slung a casual arm around her shoulders.

‘You alright?’ he asked quietly. ‘You’re pretty quiet.’

Rose nodded, a strange look on her face.

‘I’m fine. I was just thinking…’

She paused. James nudged her and she smiled faintly.

‘No posse.’

That was confusing, but before James could ask for clarification, they were on the pitch and any thoughts were drowned out by the deafening screams of the spectators.

Madam Vite stood in the centre of the pitch, her weathered face stern as she regarded the tall Slytherin captain standing before her. James went to meet them.

‘Now, we’ll have a fair game today, boys,’ threatened Madam Vite. The Slytherin captain grunted and she rounded on him angrily.

‘Yes, I’m talking to you, Mister McGowen! Any more of last season’s tricks and so help me I’ll cancel the rest of Slytherin’s games! For the whole season!’

James had personally always regarded McGowen as the missing link between humans and trolls, but even he seemed to understand the seriousness of this situation. He nodded and mumbled something that sounded like an assent.

Madam Vite, however, was not convinced. She proceeded to lecture him some more, and James, bored, took the opportunity to look around the pitch.

Apart from a diminished Slytherin section, the rest of the school seemed to have turned out as usual.

James smiled wryly as he thought of his best friend, holed up somewhere in the castle for some unknown and unfathomable reason that she nevertheless seemed to take quite seriously.

There was a sudden lull in the yelling, and it meant that one, clear call was suddenly faintly audible to those standing on the pitch.

Hé, Jem!’

James’ head whirled around so fast he nearly got whiplash. There was only one person who called him that; it was short for ‘J’aime’ or ‘I like’ and it was Stac’s French nickname for him.

But she couldn’t be here, could she? She’d never come before…but, there, next to Albus, clutching one half of a banner that proclaimed in large letters ‘Wotters are alwight!’ stood the girl herself.

As he gazed up at her, dumbfounded, she winked and yelled down, ‘Gangez, ouais?’

Win. Anastacia had come, and she wanted him to win. She was grinning widely, her face beaming with happiness. He’d never seen her so happy in public, never seen her so alive outside of the common room.

Suddenly it all made sense, what Rose had been on about; no posse.

All of the Slytherin seventh years and some of the others where inside. Which meant that no one was watching her.

Which meant she was free.

Madam Vite was tugging at the sleeve of his robe.

‘Mister Potter! Potter, are you with us?’

James shook himself back into reality. McGowen was sniggering thuggishly at him. James shot him a disgusted look and smiled at Madam Vite.

‘Sorry, ma’am. Ready when you are.’

She nodded briskly, slightly mollified, and raised her hand in the air.

‘Players, mount your brooms.’

They all did so. Rose and Lily were grinning widely, and Rose winked at James. He returned the gesture, feeling suddenly light and buoyant. He knew in that instant that Slytherin had as much chance of winning this match as Fang had of suddenly sprouting wings and flying away.


*

Anastacia was here. His team were ready. They had practiced enough. Conditions were perfect. They could do this.

Anastacia was here. For the first time, she was going to see him play.

James was going to make it the best game of his life.

‘On my whistle.’

Madam Vite raised the silver object to her lips and blew a loud, shrill blast. Immediately, crimson and green blurs shot into the sky.

James instantly took control of the quaffle, weaving through the sluggish Slytherin chasers, passing it to Josh, who passed it to Jaya, who tossed it back to James in plenty of time for him to score a spectacular goal in the first minute!

The crowd went mad.

‘And it’s ten points to Gryffindor only thirty seconds into the game! My, my, what an interesting grudge match this promises to be!’ Terry Markham crowed triumphantly from the commentator’s box.

James turned to run a quick eye over the pitch, taking in the rest of his team before turning to look for his friends in the stands.

Anastacia and Albus, having spelled their banner to hang in the air above their heads, were dancing arm-in-arm and yelling at the top of their lungs. Margie, Tessie and Laurence were starting up a war cry. James smiled and turned his attention back to the game.

The Slytherins didn’t seem to know what had hit them. It wasn’t that they were slow, per say – it was just that the Gryffindors were faster. Much faster. All the hours of relentless practicing and talking strategy and the like were now paying off.

James saw Jaya rocket upwards, the Slytherin chaser hot on her heels, and he didn’t even have to think. He automatically dropped down below her and within seconds the quaffle had thudded solidly into his hands.

‘And that’s a brilliantly executed Porskoff Ploy by the Gryffindor chasers! It’s Potter with the quaffle, passes to Sarin, she passes to Alsop, back to Sarin, she takes a dive, nice dodging of that bludger, passes to Potter – he scores!’

Jaya and Josh swept alongside James and Jaya cuffed Josh over the head.

‘Now aren’t you glad he made us run all those drills?’ she teased.

Josh scoffed.

‘Nah, it’s just the Slytherins – they’re rubbish. Well,’ he relented, ‘maybe the drills did help a bit.’

They all laughed and took off down the field.

‘So it’s twenty points to nil in the first few minutes of the game, and I have to say, this is some of the fastest work I’ve ever seen here, folks. And no wonder – they’ve been training harder then ever this season. I’ll bet Slytherin is kicking themselves right now!’

Slytherin certainly were not very happy. McGowen scowled at the chasers and, when Jaya’s attention was diverted momentarily by an altercation between Josh and Alecto, the Slytherin chaser currently in possession of the quaffle, McGowen hit a bludger with deadly force towards the back of her head.

James saw it happening and started to call out, but he needn’t have worried. Lily, who had been in front of Jaya, reversed suddenly at great speed and whacked the bludger back towards McGowen almost negligently.

The mammoth boy was too shocked to move, and as it connected squarely with his jaw, James heard a loud and very satisfying crack, followed soon after by an even more satisfying thud, as McGowen slid off his broom and hit the ground.

‘A Bludger Backbeat by Lily Potter! Fantastic aim! And it looks like the Slytherin captain is out for the count.’

Play was suspended for a minute while Madam Vite checked the stirring McGowen. Eventually, he got shakily to his feet and climbed back on his broom, to cheers from the Slytherins and boos from the Gryffindors (and Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, if one were to be truthful).

‘And play is resumed – Slytherin in possession, Farling with the quaffle, dodges Alsop, passes to Alecto, pass intercepted by Potter! Gryffindor now in possession, Potter passes to Sarin, Sarin to Alsop, ALSOP SCORES!’

McGowen signalled for a time out and sped towards the Slytherin goal posts, causing the three Gryffindor chasers to break their celebrations short and get out of the way, but he was headed for the Slytherin keeper, not them.

‘Look at him chewing out poor old Montrose,’ Jaya sniggered, ‘I almost feel sorry for him.’

‘Almost, but not quite,’ Fred agreed smugly. James looked above them for Rose and Scorpius, still circling even through the time out.

There was a fair distance between them, and although Scorpius seemed to be watching Rose closely, she showed no sign of paying any attention to him.

‘What’s he saying to them?’ asked Sam curiously.

James turned back to the opposing team. Lily and Fred had joined them, and they all looked on with interest.

McGowen was ranting furiously at his players, using huge arm movements and pointing towards the Gryffindor team. James felt unease begin to coil in the pit of his stomach.

‘Lils,’ he began quietly, but she shoved him, hard.

‘I know, be careful. Just worry about the game, oh mighty captain, and let me look after myself.’

James nodded, unconvinced, but Fred winked at him and mouthed ‘I’ll take care of her’.

‘Play resumed once more – Gryffindor in possession, Sarin passes to Alsop, Alsop racing down the pitch, the Slytherins can’t catch him, Alsop shoots, he scores! Slytherin have the quaffle now, Farling to Marrow, passes to Alecto, back to Farling, Farling shoots, brilliant save by the Gryffindor keeper.

Sam thumbed his nose at the scowling Marrow who, along with Camsin Alecto and Gerard Farling, made up the Slytherin chasers.

A second later, a speedy bludger came out of nowhere and shot towards Sam, missing him by inches as he dodged at the last minute.

‘OI!’

James whirled to see a furious and crimson-faced Lily descending on McGowen. He raced his broom to come between them.

‘Lils! Enough! Get back to the game!’

Madam Vite drew alongside them all.

‘Bumphing, as you well know, Mr McGowen, is a foul! Penalty to Gryffindor!’

James shooed Lily off and signalled for Jaya to take the penalty. She did so, putting it through easily, and then turned and made a very rude gesture at McGowen when Madam Vite wasn’t looking.

The Gryffindor stand took up the cry of ‘Sarin, Sarin, Sarin!’

James sped down to check in with Sam.

‘Alright, mate?’

Sam’s face was mutinous.

‘I swear, next time those dungbrains come anywhere near this hoop, they’re all dead.’

James laughed.

‘That’s the spirit, mate. Keep up the good work.’

Sam smiled wryly back at him.

‘What good work? That was nearly the first time they’ve got the quaffle down here for the whole game. I know we’re doing good and all, but I tell you what,’ he confessed, the stiff breezing tousling his dreads, ‘its bloody boring for me.’

James laughed again and took off, leaving him to his boredom.

 



Anastacia couldn’t ever remember having so much fun on a Quidditch day. She and Margie were screaming themselves hoarse, Albus and Laurence were creating increasingly insulting war-cries to hurl at the Slytherins, and they were winning.

She hadn’t believed Scorpius when he’d come to tell her the news. The whole seventh year in isolation!

She’d promptly gone to check, and found that her watchers who weren’t in seventh year had been involved in the fight too, and were also confined to their dormitories.

She couldn’t shake the idea that Celeste had somehow planned this, but, at the moment, she didn’t care.

Freedom! For a whole day! The feeling was exhilarating and intoxicating and wonderful.

Best of all, she got to see her friends play. She’d never even dared to come to one of their practice sessions before, too wary of what her watchers would think or say.

She hadn’t realised how good they were. Of course, she knew they were good; they had to be to be the reigning champions, but she hadn’t really realised it.

Hadn’t known that the tiny Lily, who had always seemed like such a bizarre choice as a beater, was actually brilliant. She and Fred seemed to know exactly what the other was doing at all times. They were an amazing team, not least because they were both so small that the others all seemed to underestimate them.

And James…Anastacia was in awe. Who knew a person could move that fast? She’d certainly never seen anything like it. The other chasers, too, all seemed to know exactly what to do at every moment. They never had to stop and confer, or yell instructions across to each other like the Slytherin chasers.

As she watched, Jaya passed the quaffle to James, who slung it easily through the hoop, well out of reach of Montrose’s outstretched hand. Celeste’s half-brother, not one of her watchers but a brute all the same, punched the air angrily as the other two chasers flew in to clap James on the back.

‘Potter, Potter, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no one can!’ she chanted with Margie at the top of their lungs.

‘So it’s eighty points to Gryffindor, ten minutes into the game. What a way to start the day! Honestly, people, have you ever seen the like? I mean, where do these guys come from?’

‘GRYFFINDOR!’ screamed their ecstatic house. Anastacia waved her hands wildly as James paused in front of their stand. For a moment, he stared at Albus while flicking his gaze repeatedly to her, as if trying to communicate something. Then he gave her his full attention, shooting a smile and a wink as he shot off, and her insides melted with pride for her friend.




James assessed the situation happening on the pitch, and started towards the Slytherin posts, ready to take up a pass if needs be. Lily joined his flight path as she sped towards the Slytherin beaters.

‘Tired, sis?’ he teased as they drew apace for a moment.

Lily grinned, whacking an oncoming bludger out of the way with what seemed an effortless wave of her bat.

‘Are you kidding me?’ she yelled over the roar of the crowd. ‘Stac is down there! I could do this all day!’

James saluted her and sped off down the pitch once more. He knew exactly how she felt.

Nearly ten minutes later, with the snitch still nowhere in sight, James was once again racing towards the Slytherin goal posts with the quaffle under his arm. He saw Alecto speed towards him, only to swerve out of the way of a bludger directed towards him courtesy of Fred. James passed the quaffle to Jaya, who lobbed it smoothly through the highest goalpost before the Slytherin keeper even had time to move.

‘One hundred and forty points to twenty, Gryffindor leading! Well folks, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to take bets on the outcome of this game!’

Professor Longbottom, sitting in the stands next to the commentary box, sighed and rolled his eyes heavenwards. McGonagall, on the other hand, grasped Terry firmly by the ear until he retracted his prior statement.

‘Alright, alright, OW! Sorry, professor,’ Terry grumbled, rubbing his ear and reverting automatically back to the old form of address, ‘I was only joking, promise!’

‘Anyway, folks,’ he continued blithely, ‘it’s all happening out here now. Slytherin in possession, quaffle stolen by Alsop, passes to Sarin, she dodges a bludger, around Farling, passes to Potter, he– what the! Shameful display of blatching by the Slytherin captain!’

McGowen had flown straight into James, who had managed to hold onto his broom with one hand as he was flung off, but had dropped the quaffle. Madam Vite flew over, her face a giant thundercloud.

‘McGowen! How dare you!’

‘Didn’t see him, miss,’ he grunted darkly, ‘swear I didn’t.’

In the stands, the Gryffindors were incensed.

‘You...you....monster!’ Anastacia shrieked loudly, shaking her fist in the direction of the Slytherin captain, ‘Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça? Mais, ça va fou ou bien?’

She went to pull her wand out of her pocket, intent on hexing McGowen into oblivion, but was surprised to find nothing there. She stared at the empty pocket for a moment before turning accusingly to Albus.

‘James–’

‘Didn’t want you to get into trouble on the only day you seem to be allowed out here,’ Albus finished smoothly. He fished her wand out of his own pocket, held it up for her to see, and stowed it safely away up his sleeve.

‘Al-bus,’ Anastacia tried in a wheedling tone, but he shook his head.

‘He’d never forgive me if I let you hex someone on the one day he can’t stop you himself. Besides,’ he smirked, ‘it would interrupt the game, and then he’d be really cranky!’

‘Fine,’ she grumbled. She crossed her arm over her chest and returned her attention to the game.

For McGowen’s blatching, Madam Vite awarded Gryffindor a double penalty, which James took and scored easily.

‘And the score stands at one hundred and eighty points to forty. Slytherin could still win, you know, though it’s…’

Terry caught McGonagall’s glare and thought better of what he was going to say. He cleared his throat instead and continued.

‘So, it’s Slytherin in possession, with the– what in Merlin’s name? The snitch!’

All play on the field ceased. Anastacia rose to her feet, clutching Albus’ hand for dear life, her heart in her throat.

High above them, Rose and Scorpius rocketed down towards the ground at an astounding pace. The snitch, barely visible to those in the stands, glinted just above the grass.

‘They’re neck and neck, it’s going to be close, and it’s going to be…it’s going to be…’

Wumph!

Out of the blue, a bludger spun towards the pair, aimed obviously at Rose, who didn’t seem to have seen it. Anastacia felt like the bottom had dropped out of her stomach.

Rose!’ she screamed, her voice echoing in the silent stadium.

Rose looked up, noted the bludger, and leaned forward, speeding up to pass effortlessly underneath it. She and Scorpius were side by side now, both reaching out their hands for the snitch. Scorpius’ arms were longer, and for a moment, it looked like he would reach it first.

But at the very last second, Rose made a wild dive forward off her broom, her hands grabbing the air convulsively. She fell onto her back on the soft grass and immediately jumped to her feet again, clutching the snitch triumphantly in her raised hand.

The roar from the stands threatened to deafen the players, who were descending on Rose from all directions.

‘Three hundred and thirty points to forty, and that’s the game, folks!’ Terry roared above the din, ‘Gryffindor has won the first match of the season!’

James was jumping up and down on the pitch, his arms around Rose’s neck.

‘We won, we won, we won!’ squealed Lily.

James grinned at her.

‘It’s not the bloody cup, but it’s the next best thing, right mate?’ he asked, turning to the joyful Sam.

‘Too right!’ his friend agreed.

‘And look,’ added Rose happily, ‘here’s Stac!’

They turned to look in the direction she was facing and saw Albus and Anastacia sprinting towards them, followed by what seemed to be the rest of the school arriving on the field en masse.

‘James! Rose! Lily! Sam! Jaya! Fred! Josh!’

Anastacia flung herself into James’ arms, hugging him tightly.

‘You won! We won! You won!’

They continued to yell and celebrate while the rest of the school surrounded them and joined in, even the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. James saw Scorpius hug Rose as she laughed and wished him better luck next time.

He fought with the desire to warn the Slytherin away, but he knew the ticking off he’d get from Albus and Rose and Anastacia if he tried. So he turned his attention back to his friends and family and tried to ignore the urge.

‘Party tonight, right?’ Sam queried, his arm around a very attractive fifth year. James grinned and nodded.

‘Nine sound good for you?’

‘Fantastic, mate. I’ll see what I can rustle up. See you then!’

He left, his arm still around the fifth year, who was giggling and looking at him admiringly.

‘I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear about that.’

James tucked Anastacia under his arm and messed up her hair.

‘Get over it, Stac. You’ll be there, right?’

‘Course I will, you great prat. After seeing my first match? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’

She grinned at him widely, her eyes bright and sparkling. James suddenly felt as if he stood on very shaky ground.

‘Tell me something,’ she pressed, ‘are the games always this exciting?’

James laughed and laughed, and she joined in, and soon the whole group around them was bent over double, laughing fit to bust, for no apparent reason, but since when has that ever stopped Gryffindors from having a good time?




So, a party! Well, won't that be fun? I wonder what kind of mischief they're going to get up to tonight? Anyway, enough with the rhetorical questions... Thanks again for reading, you know the drill; if you enjoyed it, please review. If not...please review anyway?
Ta!

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