Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ QUIDDITCH ( Chapter 23 )
He jumped as Hermione seemed to materialise at his elbow.
“Where did you come from?” he asked. “I thought I was the one with the invisibility cloak. Time-Turner again?”
She tutted. “There are no Time-Turners left. Harry, are you coming to my course, tomorrow? It’s for advanced sixth and seventh years, but several members of staff will be attending. An Advanced Hermeneutics of Post-Wand Application and Theory.”
“What is it about?”
“Exactly what I said, of course. I think you’ll find it interesting. I’ve the preliminary reading list here.” Hermione pulled out several sheets of paper densely filled with quite small handwriting.
“Er… well, I can’t look at it now. I’ve to go down to the Quidditch pitch. Krum asked me to help out with the advanced practice sessions.” Harry couldn’t suppress a note of pride in his voice. Krum was the most famous Quidditch player in the world, and though Harry had beaten him in the Tri-Wizard tournament, he didn’t think that he was in the same class on the Quidditch pitch.
“Oh,” said Hermione. “Er, I’ll walk down with you then. I thought I’d watch the practice.”
Harry couldn’t remember when Hermione had ever watched a Quidditch practice session before, except when Ron had been trying out for keeper. He raised an eyebrow.
“I thought I’d watch while you show Viktor what you can do. He’s never seen you play, and I expect you’re as good as he is.”
Harry laughed. “Nice of you to say, Hermione, but I’m nowhere near Krum’s standard. He makes professionals look bad.”
“I’m sure you’ll do very well. He must have thought you were good, or he wouldn’t have asked you!” said Hermione, briskly.
“I suppose so,” said Harry. It was a pleasant thought. Harry had always loved Quidditch as a way to escape from his troubles. He now realised how much he’d missed it.
The Quidditch pitch was packed with players. All four house teams were there, together with a number of hopeful players who hadn’t quite made it. There were nearly as many pupils in the stands as for a house match – clearly the chance to see the great Krum was a major attraction.
Viktor Krum and Ginny were talking together, each holding a broom. Harry and Hermione walked up to them.
“Hello, Ginny. Hello, Viktor,” said Hermione.
“Ah, Hermione. So good to see you. Potter,” said Krum.
“Er. Hello, Viktor. Hi, Ginny,” said Harry.
“Hermione. Professor Potter,” said Ginny, briskly.
“I’ll go over to the stands, then,” said Hermione.
Krum clapped his hands together once. “Gather around me. Who are the captains?”
The team captains of Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin stepped forward and stood beside Ginny.
“Good. Now you pick teams.” The various players started to move towards their captains, and Krum held up his hand. “You pick only from other houses. Not own house.”
For a second, they looked bewildered. Then the Ravenclaw captain pointed to Harry. Then they called out names in turn, or in some cases, pointing.
“Pick everyone. Everyone gets time, today,” said Krum.
They continued until every player on the pitch was grouped behind one of the four captains.
“Finished?” asked Krum.
“Just a minute,” said Ginny. She gestured at the Hufflepuff captain’s team. “She’s only got one decent beater there. Better swap one of her chasers with one of Lindsey’s beaters. He’s only three chasers, and one of ‘em’s not played a house match before.”
The players were reorganised. “OK,” said Krum. “We play quick matches, ten minutes, then swap out one team. See what you do. Try best, don’t worry.”
He pointed to Ginny and the Ravenclaw captain. “You go first.”
Harry held up a hand. “Um, Victor? What if I… if someone catches the Snitch?”
“We carry on anyway. Catch, release again.”
Harry hovered on his broom, looking at the unfamiliar faces around him. There were two Gryffindors on his team, but he only knew them from practice. The rest he could hardly remember. Ginny must have been studying all the players as soon as she arrived back at Hogwarts.
The match began, and Harry noticed to his surprise that Ginny was playing beater. She was a versatile player, having alternated between chaser and seeker, and even keeper in practice matches, but never beater before.
The match began in some confusion. Harry was glad that he was a seeker, and didn’t need to interact with the other players on his team. The three chasers looked entirely confused, not knowing what manoeuvres to perform. The chasers on the other team looked more at home. Harry realised that Ginny had picked three Slytherins. Within a minute the quaffle had passed through his team’s hoops three times.
Harry wasn’t particularly concerned. When he’d played for Gryffindor, they’d been behind on many occasions, but never so far behind that the one hundred and fifty points gained by catching the snitch wouldn’t have won the match. He continued to turn and scan for the familiar golden flash.
He suddenly caught a glimpse and dived towards it. The Ravenclaw who was playing seeker for the other team was quickly behind him, but he had a lead and the snitch was almost in his grasp.
Suddenly there was a blur in front of his eyes. Ginny had smashed the bludger straight in his path. He veered away momentarily, but the snitch had swung in the opposite direction. The opposing seeker flashed past him and had the snitch in his grasp.
Harry was furious. He’d rarely missed the snitch because of the bludger before. What was Ginny doing anyway? The beaters were supposed to be holding off the chasers, not interfering with the hunt for the snitch.
At least he would have another chance. Usually he kept half an eye on the progress of the match, but now he was entirely focussed on the snitch. Before the ten minutes were up, he had caught it twice. Then Krum called his team off the pitch. He watched fascinated, at the blend of excitement and confusion. Ginny was quietly coaching her team as they played. Her seeker wasn’t watching for the snitch – he was watching the other seeker. As soon as the other seeker started to move, he tracked him, and one of the beaters smacked the bludger at him. The tactic was extremely successful. He wondered if it was Ginny’s idea, or Krum’s.
He played twice more, catching the snitch once in each game. When Krum called a halt he was bruised, tired, dirty, and as happy as he had felt for years.
Krum waved everybody together. “OK, now I see what you can do. Now we play a little Quidditch. Weasley, you captain one team. Take him, her, her, Potter, her, him…” Krum pointed rapidly. “You, you, you, come with me.”
The two teams separated. Harry looked around at his teammates. “Er, Victor? We seem to have three extra players. We’ve two seekers, four…”
“Yes, I know. Carry on,” said Krum curtly. “Begin.”
Harry had sometimes played in huge, informal games where there were many players on each side, but this was supposed to be proper Quidditch. Ginny’s team had many more players than Krum’s. It would be a walkover.
It was, but not in the way Harry had expected. While Harry and the other seeker on his team hovered above the action, scanning for the snitch, Krum was everywhere. He zoomed among the opposing chasers, making them fumble the quaffle and pass it to the opposition. He slipped between the beaters, tricking them so that one of them hit the bludger at the other. His team, though outnumbered, were scoring freely. Ginny was frantically directing her players, but they were hopelessly confused.
It’s up to me, thought Harry to himself. While Krum was dashing about in the middle of the chasers and beaters, he wouldn’t be able to watch for the snitch.
As so many times before, Harry sensed rather than saw the snitch – it was a momentary glimpse of gold. The other seeker on his team hadn’t moved, and Krum was …
Krum was there ahead of him, out of nowhere, his hand reaching just ahead of Harry’s, not grasping the snitch, but flicking it with the back of his hand, sending it spinning away out of sight. And then he was gone, vanished among the other players.
Harry returned to his position above the fray, trying to follow Krum and look for the snitch at the same time. It didn’t help. This time he deliberately flew to block Krum, but a bludger came straight at him. He swerved only slightly, but it was enough for Krum to get ahead of him, the bludger passing between his body and the broom.
After a while, in desperation Harry tried to follow Krum in weaving among the other players, but soon became lost in the confusion. He ran into Ginny at one point, and both of them nearly fell off their brooms. As she regained her seat, Krum’s team scored again with the quaffle.
Harry became increasingly frustrated. He hadn’t always reached the snitch first, but he’d never felt so effortlessly outclassed. But then, as he began to understand what Krum was doing, the admiration for his artistry overtook his resentment. Krum wasn’t using magic, but his skill was magical in itself.
They seemed to play for hours. Gradually, Ginny managed to organise her team to take some advantage from her extra numbers, but even so, Krum kept his team outscoring hers. The game ended as Krum matter-of-factly plucked the snitch from the air before Harry had even seen it.
They slowly floated to the ground. Harry felt drained. He had tried harder than in any Quidditch match he’d ever played in, but had never come close to the snitch. Yet he felt strangely satisfied. He knew that he couldn’t play any better, and that he’d done his very best.
As Krum descended in a slow spiral, there was a round of applause from the stands. Many of the spectators had left, thinking that he wouldn’t be performing – but those who had stayed were enthralled.
He waved to gather the crowd around him. “Everyone – thank you, good. I have learned much. We have a lot to do, but some good talent.”
He folded his arms. “A few years ago, some of you perhaps remember, I came to Hogwarts for Tri-Wizard Tournament. I represent my school, Durmstrang. This man,” – he struck Harry briskly on the shoulder – “he is champion. Brave, great wizard. But tragedy. Cedric Diggory, also Hogwarts, is murdered. Contest is manipulated by evil wizard.”
There was a muttering among the players, and some of the crowd who were lingering on the outskirts. Few of them had been at Hogwarts when the Tri-Wizard Tournament had been held, but they had all heard of it.
“Tri-Wizard Tournament will not be held again. Not for many, many years. But friendship, contact between schools – that is a good thing. So, we have a Quidditch tournament. Tri-Wizard Quidditch Cup. In two months’ time, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons school teams will come to Hogwarts. I will train the Hogwarts team.” His voice raised to a shout. “And we will win!” Everyone cheered.
“One more thing. New rule. Catching snitch will end the game, but score zero point.”
There was consternation, with almost everyone talking at once – but the voice that resounded above everybody else was Harry Potter’s – “That’s rubbish!”
Everyone stopped talking and looked at him. Ginny looked furious. Krum was grim-faced. Harry blushed. “Er, I mean… well, it’s not Quidditch, is it? It’s always been one hundred and fifty points for the snitch, for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
“And it’s always been a complete pain!” said Ginny hotly. “Playing for two hours and building up a solid lead, then losing because someone gets their fingertips to that little golden shuttlecock! It’s completely unbalanced. The rest of the team work their… their socks off, and then the seeker gets all the credit.”
“Is true,” said Krum. “I, Krum, I am best seeker in world. I find it a bore. See, this is what a seeker does.” He pulled his wand from his pocket, and outlined a frame in the air. Green lines appeared, and then, as Krum gestured, a tiny figure on a broomstick, hovering and looking vaguely around him.
“That’s me!” said Harry involuntarily. Do I look like that? he thought. Just sitting there, watching.
“That is how seeker plays in Hogwarts. Also many teams. Dull. Do you know, there are teams that just watch for the snitch? Beaters, chasers, even keeper, just watch for snitch. I love Quidditch. My life is Quidditch. This is what I want.”
He gestured at the screen, and the flickering image of Harry floating serenely changed to Krum, flying from end to end of the pitch, shouting, directing, thumping against the opposing team, deflecting the bludger and the quaffle, and finally grasping the snitch.
“Total Quidditch!” barked Krum. “Every player, active all the time! The seeker part of the team, not floating by herself! Tomorrow, we begin a new chapter in Quidditch!”
There was huge applause. Harry looked around and he was the only person not clapping. Krum started to gather up the broomsticks, and the crowd slowly dispersed. Harry was about to trudge off when Ginny tapped him on the arm. “I wonder if I could have a quick word, Professor Potter?” she asked demurely.
He looked at her. “Perhaps I can spare a moment,” he said. “We can walk back to the castle together.”
“I’ll just, er… see if Mr Krum needs me for anything. Putting the equipment away.”
She walked over to Krum, who shook his head. She came back.
“He says that he’ll put everything away. He’d rather do it all himself.” They looked around. The players and crowd had dispersed. They slowly started to walk towards the castle, keeping a careful distance from each other.
“Anyone around?” said Ginny.
“No. Hold on a moment.” Harry pulled the cloak from his pocket, stepped closer to Ginny, and swept it around them. They disappeared immediately.
“Quidditch shed?” he whispered.
“Good enough,” Ginny replied.
They walked slowly, hand in hand now, until they reached the shed. “Better not go in,” said Ginny. “Viktor will be along in a minute and he’ll be rooting around inside.”
“Viktor. Our friend Viktor,” said Harry, witheringly. “You noticed that he carefully chose me as an example of what not to do?”
“Oh, Harry! He chose you because you are very good. He just wants to show us a new way to play the game, that’s all.”
“He might have told me what he had in mind,” grumbled Harry.
“Harry! Are we really going to spend our few minutes together arguing about Viktor Krum?”
“No,” said Harry. “No, we are not.”
About fifteen minutes later, when not a word had been spoken, Ginny suddenly said “Hush! I can hear someone coming.”
“It must be Viktor with the gear… hang on, someone’s with him.”
They huddled under the cloak, keeping as still as possible.
“It’s Hermione!” whispered Harry. “They’re holding hands!”
Ginny grabbed Harry by the wrist and pulled him away.
“What are you doing…ow!” said Harry under his breath, as Ginny dragged him back towards the castle.
They walked in silence for several minutes. Twice Harry tried to turn to look behind him, but Ginny pulled him away. As they reached the foot of the West Wing, she pulled off the cloak.
“Ginny! That was Hermione! With Krum! Holding hands! That was…”
“That was none of our business,” said Ginny firmly. “We weren’t invisible so we could spy on our friends.”
“But what about Ron?” pleaded Harry.
“I’ve been watching the psychodrama of Ron and Hermione for too many years,” snapped Ginny. “They have to sort it out themselves. And I trust Hermione to do the right thing. Eventually.”
“In the meantime…”
“Hermione has been through a lot, and she’s had no-one to talk to.”
“Why can’t she talk to Ron?” said Harry fiercely. “He’s supposed to be her boyfriend. Isn’t he?”
Ginny sighed. “You know what Ron’s been like for the last year. He’s not been there for her. You know what? If she ends up going off with Viktor Krum I wouldn’t blame her one bit. It’s about time Ron realised that he can’t just rely on Hermione being there whenever he feels like it. He’s been taking her for granted, and she’s been through a lot.”
“So has Ron,” said Harry.
“Ron’s been leaning on the rest of us. Fine, I don’t mind. It’s been tough, for everyone. Fred dying… well, that hit us hard. We all leaned on each other. I leaned on you.”
“But you helped the rest of them…” said Harry.
“That’s how it works. It’s not that I blame Ron – but he can’t carry on as he has been.”
They paused for a moment.
“So, what do we do?” said Harry.
“We do nothing. Nothing at all,” said Ginny. “Anything we do will make it worse. Just… just trust your friend. All your friends. It’s all we can do.”