iii: as a traitor i played
Harry awoke rather suddenly when something next to him screamed a death metal rendition of Ode to Joy in his ear.
"Where's the ketchup, Sergeant?" he said stupidly, sleep clogging his eyes, and then twisted to see a little tin box with a lid flapping animatedly like a mouth. He bashed it with his fist to shut it up and then heard a round of sleepy laughter around him; ripping open his curtains, greeted by darkness as opposed to morning light, he saw Blaise snorting at him and Malfoy sitting up with his hair sticking out at all angles.
"Like it?" asked Blaise, yawning. "I was getting sick of Muggle songs waking us all up in the morning."
Harry snarled at him and dived back under the covers, exhaustion in his bones. The exertion from yesterday's—neverday's?—activities at the Ministry seeped through him, or so he thought: but it was mental, not physical, and he realised it was only a lack of sleep that made him feel weary. He peeked back over the covers to see Malfoy traipsing off to use the toilet, and instead caught the quirked brows of someone he knew only very… intimately.
It was his other roommate, a seventh year sharing the room with himself, Malfoy and Blaise. Well, at least Harry knew he was definitely in year six now because Martin Vaisey, back when Harry had been Gryffindor Seeker during his first year, was a year older than him and a Chaser for the Slytherin Quidditch team. Harry could only ever recall Vaisey giving him a mouthful of elbow or a rib-ful of foot, and on one occasion he'd whacked Harry on the back of the head with a Beater's bat (stolen from his teammate, the arsehole) which so happened to be during the same match that Marcus Flint—five years older than Harry—had sent a Bludger right into Wood's chest, sending him careering to the sandy pit of the Quidditch pitch floor. Nothing could've been more dangerous than Quirrell's attempt at knocking him off his Nimbus Two Thousand, though; Harry supposed that if he had a wall of Slytherins backing him then he'd be as safe as Gringott's.
Vaisey flopped back down, but said, "What?" to Harry rather rudely when Harry called out his name.
"What time is it?"
"Time you stopped being a bloody idiot, Potter."
"Right, thanks for that insight, Vaisey, but I'd like to know why some twit thinks it's funny to wake me up at four o'clock in the morning."
By this time Malfoy had strolled back in, yawned widely and given Harry a curious look. "You're getting Alzheimer's," he said with a wrinkled nose, "you might want to get checked out."
Harry didn't bloody well want to get checked out: in fact, he wanted to know the time and why he'd been woken up so early—he wasn't, after all, going to lie and fit in with his new group of friends just because this was how it was in this world. So what if it was a miracle he'd woken up perfectly intact with no cut throat? He owed nothing to these people: if anything they ought to show him a bit more lenience.
"It's half six," said Malfoy, "the time you always wake up. You get out of bed, hog the bathroom for an hour and a half, get dressed and go down to the Great Hall and eat breakfast with the rest of us before we go to lessons at nine. In this case, we go down to the pitch at nine, warm up for an hour, and then play our match. Or, you know, is that a bit too difficult to remember?"
"No," said Harry coolly, "thanks for that. I'll just get some more sleep. 'Night."
He had barely sagged back down onto his pillow when Malfoy was tearing the curtains open with panicked abandon. "No," he said sternly, "come on—I don't know what the hell's gotten into you, but you've got to get up and get ready. Ever since Terry Boot snatched the Snitch out of my hand last match I've been having terrible nightmares about losing to Ravenclaw again. Losing to Gryffindor will just be mortifying."
Ah, so they were playing Gryffindor. Harry felt a smirk rise up: he'd love to make a mess out of Slytherin's team, even if he was on it. And he couldn't wait to see who he'd be up against—Katie, Angelina? Fred and George had made their magnificent exit last year, if that was even canonical anymore. Maybe there'd be new talent up there: Ron liked to play at home, and Ginny was great on a broom, two more Weasleys to replace the last lot. Thinking about his old housemates made Harry brim with excitement, and he quickly got out of bed and strode off to the bathroom much to Malfoy's relief.
After using the toilet he jumped in one of the two cubicles which had his and Draco's name on it. Well, that was sort of… really gay—though, admittedly, it did look like graffiti so it was probably a joke. He whipped through the catalogue of showering products from shampoos to exfoliating scrubs to yellow loofahs that smelled of curry for some reason: none of these could be his. He only kept a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner and a bar of soap in his shower. The rest of it had to be Malfoy's, which Harry didn't find too strange: he'd always thought of him as a pretty-boy prat—though he wasn't sure that the loofahs were supposed to have that curry smell.
He whipped shampoo and conditioner into his hair, followed by some shower gel and after washing himself clean he stepped out and dried himself off with a towel. He scrubbed at his teeth—which were… fantastically straight, much to his surprise (a few of the bottom ones were usually crooked, a fault of his palate)—then looked at himself in the mirror and frowned when he saw nothing less than absolute immaculateness.
Well, this was all too weird. His eyes glinted at him in an alien manner, but his attention was caught by someone walking past the door in the bedroom. He did a double take when he saw Pansy Parkinson stroll over to Malfoy's bed in a purple dressing gown, and watched as Malfoy gave quite a rude little slap to her behind before pulling her in for a long, noisy kiss. Harry pulled his face, feeling quite sick, yet strutted back in the room with the towel around his waist and not caring if Malfoy noticed him or not.
But he did care about Malfoy, his new roommates and Pansy seeing him naked: he shifted behind the curtains of his bed and began to pull on his green and silver Quidditch robes, pausing when he heard Pansy make a hushed remark:
"Draco, is there something wrong with him? Is he still being weird?"
"Not sure," muttered Malfoy between kisses, "think he ordered some faulty sweets from Fred and George Weasley. Sent him—" smooch "—a bit funny."
I am not a bit funny, huffed Harry, just normal compared to you, you git.
Being in Slytherin Quidditch robes made Harry deeply uncomfortable, he realised. They were made of the same material as Gryffindor's but there was a silent stigma stitched into the cloth and leather that nearly made his skin itch. He was irritable all the way to the Great Hall as the realisation dawned on him that this was all quite real—that he had gone back in time and he had saved Sirius. Jumping in the shower and pulling on the uniform had woken him up, and with breakfast on its way (he'd gotten to the Great Hall very early) it only allowed him to contemplate things more.
Several ghosts trickled into the hall and sat in the teachers' chairs on either side of a very lonely Professor Trelawney. Harry had had enough of her weirdness to last him a lifetime so turned away and stared into the bright flames of the fire next to the Slytherin table. It only prompted him to think of Sirius, really, which was a dilemma in and of itself because Sirius shouldn't have carried any emotional attachment.
And in a way, he didn't. This surprised Harry. He really thought he'd break down and cry now that he was away from the Ministry and in safe hands, but it didn't seem to be the case. He did feel sad but it was more a lingering ache than anything, like a heartbreak long passed. His fingers came to his temples as he tried to sort through his feelings, but it was no use: it was frustrating more than anything to know that he was literally incapable of caring about Sirius as much as he knew he really did.
This Sirius was different, though: It wasn't a Sirius who'd fought with him at the Ministry. It was a Sirius who was tucked away somewhere. Maybe he changed into a different animal, a duck-billed platypus or a white tiger or a blue tit. Maybe he wasn't even an Animagus. It occurred to Harry that he really didn't know this man.
Then it occurred to him that he really didn't know his parents, either. It appeared they were alive, which was happiness Harry couldn't describe, and yet they were alien to him in a way now that he understood Sirius wasn't really Sirius. How were they? Were they cold and cruel and haughty-taughty like the Malfoys? Not that Harry had ever known their personalities, really: but he'd always had a feeling that they were wonderful people. His mum had saved his life in return for her own, hadn't she—and his dad as well. They had to be great people. Maybe these new parents would be great people, too.
He was excited to meet them, and he was wondering exactly when he would when plates toppling with breakfast goods suddenly appeared on the tables. Much to his surprise, Harry was famished: It wasn't the exhaustion from the Ministry that got him, since he didn't even feel it because that exhaustion had never really been in the first place, but more like a growing boy's appetite. He wolfed down several sausages, eggs and pieces of toast with a wash of pumpkin juice before a large flock of Ravenclaws entered and sat down at their table.
Harry looked over at the Gryffindor table to find it the least full. He grinned because he knew that Gryffindors weren't very good at waking up early, were more night owls than anything else: but lo and behold, there was Lavender nestled with Romilda Vane and what looked to be Luna sporting Gryffindor colours. Was Luna a Gryffindor now, Harry wondered—no, still the Ravenclaw crest sewn into the back of her puffy blue bomber jacket. Harry strode over to them confidently and sat down next to them.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?" screamed the pretty Romilda. She and the rest of the girls moved further down the bench, much to the annoyance of several third years, drawing the attention of the other people of the room. Harry looked around, saw that at least fifty people were watching the commotion, and then got to his feet embarrassedly.
And then he turned around and went back to the Slytherin table where Malfoy was guffawing.
The look on Romilda's face had been terrifying—almost like Harry had been her boggart. That was strange, he thought, Romilda had never even given him the time of day before: and now he came to think of it, even Luna's usually dreamy expression appeared startled along with Lavender's look of dismay. Why were these girls afraid of him? He was on good terms with Lavender, and Luna was one of his greatest friends—Luna had been fighting with him at the Ministry, for goodness's sake!
But, ah, this was a different plane of reality, he reminded himself. So far none of the existing history had proven true here: and Pansy was afraid of him, after all, jittery around him. Did he scare girls? Did he do things to upset them? Malfoy found it funny, whatever it was.
"That," Malfoy said with a snort, "was good. I didn't think you'd have the gall to go back to Vane after you cockslapped her, Harry. She's not bad, though—Ow!—" Pansy scowled at him "—For buck's sake, woman!"
"Well, I'm sick of you making comments about other girls," hissed Pansy, "especially Gryffindors. You're supposed to think about beating them, not staring at Katie Bell's arse all match!"
"Yes," said an oily voice behind Harry. His stomach dropped as he recognised the deadpan tone. "You'd do well to keep your eyes on the Snitch, Malfoy. Potter can't knock every opposing Seeker down with a Bludger for you." Harry turned to see Snape stood before the fire, his long fingers tucked into the pockets at the front of his long black gown. Well, he was still into priest fashion, it seemed. He turned to Harry indignantly. "And you," he said, "were told quite specifically to stay away from Romilda Vane after last year's rather disreputable act. I don't know what sort of fascination you have with her, but keep it private. Slytherin's reputation has suffered enough."
Well, that was the most civilised thing Snape had ever said to Harry: he felt a strange buzzing sensation when he realised that he was at least liked by his least favourite professor in some capacity. Perhaps his dad wasn't the git Snape had reported him to be, after all.
"Anyway," Snape went on, "Potter, Malfoy—yourselves, Crabbe and Goyle are to report to me after the Quidditch match. Your Potions marks this week were horrendous and I don't care if you were having fun throwing my limited supply of Puffskein peel around, you need to make up unless you want to fail the module before Christmas."
Harry groaned—as did Crabbe and Goyle, who were also decked out in Quidditch gear (God, Harry groaned, who let these buffoons on the team?)—but Malfoy had a wicked grin, and he nodded fervently before Snape strode away to the teacher's bank that stretched the width of the room with a massive Christmas tree behind it. Harry knew he'd been bad at Potions, but not as bad as Crabbe or Goyle: Crabbe and Goyle were so bad that their names should've been on the grading list, and scoring a C or a G for any subject should've been synonymous with failing.
"But Draco," said Crabbe from Harry's side, "Snape doesn't teach us Potions this year."
Malfoy glared at him, then punched him on the arm as if to get him to shut up. Harry, though silent, had a brain which was whirring suddenly, taking in the information. If Snape wasn't teaching Potions, then who was? And if Snape wasn't teaching Potions, what was he teaching? He had barely opened his mouth to ask when there was a great round of applause and catcalls and whistles—Harry turned to see, at the entrance to the Great Hall, the Gryffindor Quidditch team enter.
His eyes popped open as he saw the seven individuals he'd be competing against: Ginny, Ron, and Dean were the only people he knew personally—behind them were Cormac McLaggen, a slimy blond git who'd do well to keep his pants on; Demelza Robins, a girl Harry had only ever seen out on the pitch, dodging Bludgers like it was her day job; Jimmy Peakes, a broad-chested boy who Harry had played a game of Exploding Snap with once; and Ritchie Coote, a tall mixed-race boy with a shock of dark, curly hair who was effortlessly great at almost every subject in the curriculum. Katie Bell, who in Harry's opinion indeed had a fine behind, hung around as reserve with hard grit in her eyes; he was actually very surprised to see that she'd been replaced—had Gryffindor's captain found someone better than her?
Well, Harry mused, that lot can handle themselves well.
He grinned wildly at Hermione who was clutching onto Ron's arm in an attempt to steer away from McLaggen. Ron, in the meantime, had a fat smile on his face. Harry suspected that it was Hermione's closeness more than anything, as he knew Ron had always said Slytherin and Quidditch was like casting, "Incendio!" at Aragog to get him to go away—that was, Ron couldn't have been very pleased to be up against Slytherin for Quidditch unless he was suddenly the world's best player on the world's best broom. What he didn't know was that he was in for a nice surprise as Harry was planning to sabotage Malfoy and the rest of the team so that Gryffindor won.
Harry jumped to his feet, startling Malfoy who was hissing wildly at Crabbe, and made his way back to the Gryffindor table. He made sure to avoid Romilda and the others, but when he approached Ron and Hermione and the rest of the team who were surrounded by a mass of other Gryffindors, everybody went silent.
Harry looked around uneasily, and said with a shaky smile: "All right, Ron, Hermione?"
Ron's mouth gaped before quickly shutting; he narrowed his eyes, and sneered: "Piss off, Potter. Come to taunt us? Don't even bother; we'll smash you this match." Harry was taken aback; his eyes went wide and he fumbled with his words. His default with Ron would be a scowl or something equally nasty since he and Ron often got on each other's nerves, but this was different because he understood that this was a Ron who wasn't his best friend, and this was a Hermione whose face was taut and cold towards him.
"Right," he said weakly, and turned back around. He really wanted to sit down with them and talk things out, and explain what had happened to him and that none of this was really real at all—but it wasn't that simple. He was beginning to understand that in saving Sirius, he was sacrificing other aspects of his life. He didn't want Malfoy, he just wanted Ron and Hermione, but it looked to be an impossible dream.
Well, even if they didn't reciprocate his feelings, they would always be his best friends: and Harry wasn't the Slytherin Harry that strutted around this alternate world. He was the old Harry who wore Gryffindor colours with pride, and had a boring old wand and scruffy hair and round spectacles. He'd get them back, and they'd all be in the common room (well, if he was even allowed in the Gryffindor common room anymore) and they'd have pumpkin juice and parties and do homework together. Things would be right as rain in no time.
And yet Harry wondered that if he was a completely different person, were Ron and Hermione as well? Had their histories been changed, caught up in the whirlwind brewed up by the flap of the butterfly wings that Harry had set into motion? Was Ron still poor, had more siblings than you could count on one hand, a son of a father who had a bizarre obsession with Muggle bits and bobs? Was Hermione still acing classes, still had a problem with her front teeth, still had Muggle parents?
It boggled his brain to think about.
If Malfoy had been jubilant at Harry's approaching of Romilda Vane, then he had now died and gone to heaven. The rest of Slytherin house were looking at Harry, some gawking, some laughing, some clapping, some hooting—some even just whispering. But when Harry flopped back down next to Malfoy, there was a great furore and round of applause, followed by people trying to high-five him and patting him on the back.
"Brilliant," Blaise was saying with hiccupped laughter, "just amazing."
But Harry didn't feel brilliant—in fact he felt rather depressed like someone had just stuck the end of their wand in his happy little bubble created by seeing his Gryffindor friends. Sitting next to people he didn't like and couldn't stand made him realise how very lonely he was beginning to feel. He had nobody, really, nobody except Not-Really-Sirius and his parents. Should he even expect anything of his parents? He didn't want to think about it; that'd simply crush him.
Thankfully he was soon distracted by Malfoy standing up a couple of minutes after nine: The entire Slytherin table went quiet, and the other houses stooped to low murmuring to hear what was going on by the fireplace. Several whoops later, Malfoy bowed, and then made a very grave face that looked suspiciously as if he was trying to contain his laughter.
"Well, my good women and men—" "—my good Slytherins!" interjected a seventh year girl, much to everyone's amusement "—yes, my good Slytherins—thank you, Rachel. Today marks a very important occasion for many of us—" ("Huzzah! Hoorah!") "—but let us not forget that our opponents are cunning and wily. I don't doubt that you remember last match's foul play on Ravenclaw's part—" ("Boo!" "Get lost, Malfoy, you git!") "—now now, don't be rude—so it is with absolute sincerity that I, Draco Malfoy, Seeker for Slytherin five years in a row, announce that today's match will bring about a new era in Quidditch at Hogwarts—" You can bet on it, Harry thought "—for today we face most ruthless opponents—" ("Hiss! Boo!" "That's right, Malfoy!") "—opponents with the looks of a rat and the morals of an alley cat—opponents known as Gryffindor!"
The way Malfoy said the house name made Harry bristle: it was a low rumble in his throat, coughed up like phlegm; the other Slytherins recognised his tone too and began to pretend to spit on the floor in the direction of Gryffindor's table. Hufflepuff, who were caught between the two rivalling houses, looked as if they were stuck in No Man's Land, and turned to one another with bewilderment and fatigue.
Ravenclaw, on the other hand, were cheering Gryffindor on—Malfoy's ill words towards their house hadn't done Slytherin any favours. Snape's long face clearly showed his disapproval of Malfoy's speech, no doubt thinking about the further damage to the house reputation he'd just caused: McGonagall, however, looked jostled and disliking of Slytherin all together, but as she called out to her house to tell them to quieten down, her eyes glinted dangerously. She looked set to turn Malfoy back into his ferrety form.
Malfoy rose to his feet, as did Blaise and Vaisey, and for the first time Harry saw his new Quidditch team stood together: Malfoy, the Seeker; team Captain Ishmael Urquhart, a brown-skinned Chaser with handsome features; Vaisey, a Chaser; Blaise, also a Chaser; himself and Crabbe as Beaters; and finally Goyle, the Keeper.
They were all well-kitted in their uniforms with the exception of Crabbe, who looked like he could do with losing a pound or twenty and Blaise, whose jodhpurs were a little small for him around the ankles because he was so tall. With one more eye-rollingly typical round of applause from the rest of the house, they all strode out together—Harry traipsing behind them, of course, with a sour look on his face.
"Don't listen to Snape," said Malfoy in Harry's ear, "knock that Bludger around at as many players as you can. I quite like looking at Katie Bell's arse."
Oh, thought Harry darkly, I will.
Conditions outside were cold but sunny, giving Harry plenty of light. It felt weird, not having to slip goggles over his eyes to protect himself or his glasses from the usual winter weather, and during the hour practise he played considerably well against the reserves. Surprisingly the Beater's bat felt snug in his hand, and the muscles of his right arm were well-developed as he swung it around experimentally; resisting the temptation to thwack Malfoy around the mouth had been hard but he'd vented some of his frustration by wreaking havoc on a bag of old tennis balls which were enchanted to zoom back as if they enjoyed being beaten into submission countless times.
"Playing well," said Vaisey, "good thing you went to the hospital wing to get patched up last match, eh? Would hate to think Ravenclaw were clever enough to break your arm forever, slippery little bastards." He took a swig of water and looked out, from the doorway of the changing room, at the stands which were almost full. "Oh, bloody hell—look at them."
Harry indeed turned to look at them, and beamed when he saw that Ravenclaw had bewitched their quarter of the pitch to flash from blue and silver to red and gold in time with the chants of, "Go, go, Gryffindor!" Slytherin had taken the initiative to try and out-do this joined effort by Ravenclaw and Gryffindor with heavily saturated house colours that bled into Hufflepuff's area; the Hufflepuffs were elegantly indifferent to this teaming-up and feuding as they had already won against Gryffindor but lost to Ravenclaw; and yet they understood that Slytherin were dangerous opponents and could very well knock Hufflepuff out of the league later in January.
Looking at the boards, Harry realised that Quidditch team rankings were vastly different: Gryffindor had already lost a match against Hufflepuff and were now onto their second match which was pitched against Slytherin; Slytherin had lost to Ravenclaw but were now set up against Gryffindor and, in the future, Hufflepuff; and Ravenclaw had won both their matches against Hufflepuff and Slytherin so it was really down to the outcome of this match to say who was winning the league. As it currently stood, Ravenclaw were well in the lead.
Harry leaned against the end of his Firebolt—a welcome familiarity though he wasn't sure how he'd gotten it—that outdid all the others' brooms. Malfoy eyed his enviously, clinging onto his Nimbus, but wasn't too bothered considering Ginny was doing a round on a much-battered Comet that seemed to be as much an addition to her body as an arm or a foot. Harry wished her luck, knowing how difficult it could be in the Seeking position—against Malfoy, too. No doubt the blond little twat would resort to calling her all sorts of names as they went neck-and-neck. Harry would make sure to accidentally swing his bat the wrong way for that one.
"Right," said Urquhart with great gusto, "Potter, Crabbe, good luck with the Bludgers. No doubt Potter's had a bit of a scare since those Ravenclaw dicks—well, you know how it went." Harry turned his eyes away, really not very interested in any comraderie they supposedly had going. "Myself, Vaisey and Zabini have been practising our rounds all month for this lot, so we're fairly well-rehearsed—" which they were "—but Weasley looks set to defend those posts. No wonder, they're worth more than his house put together." Harry's face flushed hot, but the others laughed. Urquhart turned to Blaise with a stern nod. "Make sure to wiggle your arse in his face as much as you can, yeah? After that French bit during the Tournament I'm betting Weasley'll do anything for a Veela—" Blaise was part Veela? "—even a bloke." Blaise nodded; he seemed dead-set on winning. "Goyle, you'll be okay for the posts. Gryffindor's Chasers are so awful that they had to rely on Ginny Weasley catching the Snitch to scrape them 150 points, and even then they didn't win—and that was against Hufflepuff." Goyle gave a firm jolt of the head, at which point Urquhart rounded on Malfoy and his lazy swagger. "And you," he scorned, "Vaisey said he heard you and Pansy at it this morning, so keep your cock in your pants and your eyes off Katie Bell's backside if she gets brought on, and you should be all right for the Snitch since you've got a better broom than their Seeker."
"Well," drawled Malfoy, "it's a shame we can't delay this match until after Christmas, isn't it? I'd really be quick on my toes then, wouldn't I?"
There was a baited silence that Harry didn't understand, followed by laughter and clapping on the back. Malfoy's gaze met Harry and he gave him a wink as if it was a secret shared between best friends. Apparently, Malfoy was best friends with the entire Quidditch team too because Harry hadn't the faintest idea what the other boy meant by his remark. He turned to Vaisey as they filed out to the Quidditch pitch, and whispered quietly.
"What does he mean by that, until after Christmas?"
He was surprised when Vaisey shot him a dark look with raised brows, but had no chance to question him further because the bright morning light exploded in front of Harry's eyes and pushed him into the Quidditch arena. Taking in a deep breath and whetting his lips, Harry ascended into the air.
Zachary Smith, whom Harry loathed quite openly, was commentating: Lee Jordan was sat next to him with a grumpy frown, being swatted at quite occasionally by McGonagall, who on more than fourteen occasions had to grab the boy to prevent him from yanking the magical microphone away from Smith to scream his undying appraisal for Gryffindor's playing. From up above, Harry laughed as McGonagall's hat tumbled onto Dumbledore's lap beside her. Dumbledore himself was holding his chest to contain himself, which made Harry quite warm inside.
Harry swerved just quickly enough to bring his bat up in order to reflect a Bludger aimed right for the crown of his head. His heart thudded rapidly in his chest as he realised how close he'd really been to being quite painfully murdered, as the hair on top of his head was squashed down by his bat. The ball went careening off to the Hufflepuff stands, where it knocked Hannah Abbott in the chest and winded her quite violently.
"Red card!" screamed Dean from below, Chasing Vaisey for the Quaffle. Harry remembered that Dean was a West Ham football fan, but was distracted when Malfoy zoomed past and shouted something suspiciously like: "Good one, send them all to the hospital wing so they can't play against us in January!" Harry snarled as he went past, and then went higher to look over the pitch and to get his bearings on what was going on.
Gryffindor were winning, sixty to fifty, but both Keepers and sets of Chasers looked strong. Goyle, Harry discovered, was built like a brick house and hadn't even flinched when the Quaffle had bounced off his chest more than five times; Harry had had to pretend to buck on his broom and send a Bludger his way to get him to clear the goalposts at which point Demelza Robins had scored ten points, looped around to catch the Quaffle and sent it back for Dean to send the ball home again. Goyle, understanding a Bludger was at fault, had given Jimmy Peakes the world's most venomous glare before Harry had made another Bludger bang around the goalposts, knocking him funny with the loudness of it, allowing Gryffindor to get another two goals; this time, Ritchie Coote was incurring of the Slytherin Keeper's wrath. Harry would have to remember to warn Coote to stay well away for a good while.
Madam Hooch, however, had hawked in on Harry's dodgy playing and had called him down during a time-out to ask him what was going on. He'd looked at her innocently, telling her his arm was still a bit rickety after last match's incident with Ravenclaw, and had then gone back up into the sky. He resolved to play it a bit more subtly this time, and even though Hufflepuff were now openly booing Slytherin for Harry's maiming of Hannah Abbott, he could say it was an honest mistake.
"Slytherin showing their true colours once again, attacking future opponents Hufflepuff to knock us—er, them—out of the league because they can't handle the fact Gryffindor's getting its first win of the season—"
"Right you are, Professor, right you are! Nothing but an honest mistake on Potter's part, of that I'm sure—yes, Lee, thanks for that, Lee now openly in support of Hufflepuff—"
"Go, go, Hufflepuff!"
"Right again, Professor, back to the game it is—and Potter circling around like a hawk, who next to target I'm sure, could be Weasley and Weasley, could be Thomas who has the Quaffle firmly in possession again—OUCH! CRABBE KNOCKS THOMAS RIGHT IN THE HEAD, THOMAS DROPS THE QUAFFLE, SLYTHERIN CAPTAIN URQUHART RUSHING TO GET IT, HE HAS IT, THOMAS FALLING TO THE GROUND, URQUHART GOING FOR GOLD, KEEPER WEASLEY LOOKING A BIT SICK AFTER CRABBE'S BLUDGER—OH! Urquhart scores, draws the match!"
An explosion of noise came from the Slytherin stands, mixed in with Malfoy whooping obnoxiously above Harry, who was watching medics rush onto the pitch to collect Dean and his broom. The match stopped for several seconds, Ron righting himself again, and then Katie Bell joined the field. Blaise hissed somewhere below Harry but kept his temper and whipped right in to take back the Quaffle from Gryffindor possession.
Crabbe wheeled up next to Harry, groaning because he'd inadvertently brought on Gryffindor's best Chaser (Harry wasn't surprised, considering Crabbe had never shown any signs of intelligent life). "I was aiming for his arm, not his bucking head! Oh, for God's sake!" He zoomed off again to take care of another wheeling Bludger which had been propelled by Coote to go right for Vaisey. Harry, on the other hand, thought Crabbe's mistake was brilliant: Katie would be bringing in goals until the cows came home. Spinning around, he descended a bit lower to see who else on his own team he could incapacitate when the glint of something gold caught his eye, and instinctively he screamed out:
The crowd pulled in an excited gasp, drowning out Harry's loud moan as it came to him that he should've stopped himself from shouting to gain Ginny's attention; Malfoy was also streaking after the tiny ball, face like a feral cat and eyes slanted like those of a snake. His hand was outstretched though he was still half the pitch away, and then Ginny suddenly turned downwards into a steep nosedive, pressing her mouth to the wood of her broom, and she was closing in, Malfoy inches behind, and everyone had their eyes trained on the two of them as they scrapped for the ball, not noticing how Urquhart and Vaisey and Blaise were putting the Quaffle through Ron's hoops time and time again, Ron himself having been captivated by the fierce competition between Malfoy and his sister—
She reached out her hand at the same time that Ron screamed, and the Snitch became nestled in her shaking hand, and she pulled up suddenly, followed by a raging Malfoy, and cheered along with the rest of the deafening stadium—and Harry's heart swelled with pride, thinking that Ginny had played brilliantly as well as the rest of Gryffindor team, and it was too bad that he wasn't on it because he wanted so badly to share their victory with them.
But something broke his bubble again, and as Smith's voice boomed out around the arena, Harry's heart fell.
"Gryffindor ends the match by Ginny Weasley's hand—but Slytherin win by a margin of ten points, thanks to Chasers Zabini, Urquhart and Vaisey."
The stadium went quiet, and then Harry yelled, frustrated and annoyed and so bucking pissed off that he couldn't even do this thing right for his own house. He descended, letting his broom lie in the sand, and stormed off towards the changing room much to Slytherin's amazement. He really didn't want to be in Slytherin company anymore, he thought; he was just going to get changed, find some Gryffindor robes he could put on, and go and find the Room of Requirement so he could punch something into blissful oblivion while feeling like he really was a part of the losing house.
He quickly got changed, ripping his Quidditch garments off and throwing them on the floor; and then it occurred to him he hadn't a change of clothes because the robes were what he'd put on that morning. Frustrated, he kicked a shower stall, and then turned to see an old wooden door on the other side of the room which connected to the opposing team's changing rooms. He fumed as he went through it, but lightened up as he saw a small batch of Gryffindor robes. Lady Luck was on his side today—or maybe she was simply making up for the lousy job she'd made out of the Quidditch match.
The pants and shirt fit him all right, though the jumper with its red lining and lion crest was a bit too small; he simply rolled up the sleeves and stretched the woolly material to loosen around his neck and shoulders. He did up his Gryffindor tie haphazardly, stuffing it down his chest, and grinned at himself in the mirror. Simply put he looked like someone had taken him, Gryffindor Harry, the real Harry, and had given him a nice facial makeover. He then ran his hands through his hair, making it messy as it usually was, and patted himself on his cheeks.
Well, that was a quick remedy, even if it wasn't permanent. He felt much better and much more comfortable in these off-sized clothes than he did in those perfect Slytherin garments. He turned back through the door to collect his shoulder bag and wand when he heard the commotion from outside. Malfoy, leading the other team members, came through the door, chatting happily and laughing with one another—and then Blaise gasped sharply, and Malfoy jumped.
"What the…" was all Vaisey managed.
Harry, head held high, ignored them and went to walk right past when Malfoy stuck out his arm and trapped him. There was colourful hatred in his face, which Harry couldn't care less about, and then there was pain, which Harry could care less about, as he was pushed against the hard, tiled wall.
"What the buck do you think you're wearing?"
"I think they're Hufflepuff Quidditch robes," said Harry dryly, "but I'm not sure. Think you could help me out?"
Malfoy went red in the face. It wasn't a nice effect—it quite drew up the image of young Dudley, blond and red-faced, who Harry supposed was the Muggle equivalent of his housemate. Both were equally spoiled, from snotty-nosed families, extremely house-proud in some capacity, and thought too much about themselves and not enough about other people. Unlike Dudley, however, Malfoy was in possession of a wand and, by extension, a vast array of magic spells. He wondered if they were about to re-enact Lockhart's duelling club of the second year when there was a high, uninterested tone between the two of them, followed by a mass of black.
"Well, well," said Snape, "arguing again are we, boys? While I'm sure the both of you are going to have very successful careers in the professional boxing industry, I might ask you to be so gracious as to stop beating your chests for more than ten seconds." It's him with the problem, not me, Harry thought snidely. "And yes, Mister Malfoy—" he blinked lifelessly at the seething boy "—while I acknowledge that Mister Potter is wearing Gryffindor garb, must I bring it to your attention that not even two weeks ago you were discovered in Ravenclaw uniform, complete with a skirt and stockings?"
Harry couldn't help but snort along with everyone else, much to Malfoy's annoyance. Malfoy had to have been hexed or blackmailed into it, because Harry couldn't see him doing anything that even remotely tarnished what Malfoy thought was an immaculate reputation.
"Doubtless, this is Potter's attempt at a joke." Malfoy smirked when Harry frowned. "Even so, it has been made clear that students must wear only the uniform of their respective houses, even if you do feel it appropriate to sneak into Hufflepuff's common room on Halloween, dressed like a badger." He rounded on Harry, who was frankly amazed that Snape had managed to keep a straight face all this time. "Professor McGonagall is tiring of your Gryffindor charade, Mister Potter, and has personally requested that I tell you to stick to your own uniform. The Fat Lady is not to be confused, of that we are all to be positive." Finally, he sucked in a breath, and paused when he realised that Malfoy very much resembled a kettle at screaming point. "Is there something the matter?"
"Yes," hissed Malfoy, "he's been acting weird all morning—and last night as well. We were just sat on the sofa in the common room, Professor, and suddenly he jumped up like he had a stick up his arse and broke my nose. And he was being stupid with the Bludgers, and he storms off when we win, and now he's dressing up in Ron bloody Weasley's robes? He thinks he's a Gryffindor! Somebody's Imperiused him!"
"I am surprised," drawled Snape, cutting through the quietness, "that you think it possible for Potter to be Imperiused right under my nose. None of my students are adept enough to cast such a spell, and even if they were, I would notice the symptoms. Mister Potter is not under the influence of the Imperius curse, Malfoy. He has the brash, indifferent stupidity of a Gryffindor and has been a long-time purveyor of Weasley joke products. If these are not two stock characteristics of Gryffindor, Mister Malfoy, then I shall report back to the Sorting Hat and tell it that it has been putting students into the wrong houses for thousands of years."
Well, at least Snape still disliked him. At least something was reciprocated. Meanwhile, Malfoy's mouth gaped open, then it closed, and then it opened again before he shrank back and resigned. His eyes were narrow, shooting daggers, but Snape had turned around and was calling the two of them plus Crabbe and Goyle to the far end of the changing room while the others washed their hands and chattered.
Oh, yes, Harry had forgotten that Snape had wanted to see them. So had Crabbe by the looks of it; his piggy eyes flew open and he said, quite stupidly: "Do you want us to grow those Puffskeins back, Professor?"
"No," said Snape dismissively, "now listen up. All of you know why I've asked to speak to you. Let me make it clear that none of this conversation is to be repeated outside the five of us. There will be repercussions for your disobedience should you let anything slip—" Goyle looked away nervously "—as Mister Goyle has discovered. Do not take what I am about to relay to you at face value. Things change, circumstances shift, and loyalties wane. This is simply an outline of things to come."
Outline? Harry wondered, Outline for what?
And yet from the gleeful look on Malfoy's face he knew it couldn't be good. He was beginning to feel sick, and scared from some deep part inside him. Not even these Gryffindor robes could protect him against the horrible murky feeling he had in his stomach. He listened intently with rattling breath, wondering how on Earth the other four of the group couldn't hear or feel his heart thudding dangerously.
"Malfoy, you and Potter are to visit the cupboard tomorrow afternoon at two o'clock. Potter will enter first, and you will lock it behind him. Then you will re-open it, once you are sure he is gone, and then you shall go through yourself. Make sure to cover your tracks. Simple charms around the Barnabas tapestry will prevent anybody not looking for it from entering it—the Room of Requirement is ample protection against the ignorant, but I shall cast more powerful enchantments around the cupboard afterwards, and erase the ones you have made so as not to arouse suspicion. When you are through—well, I'll know." He searched the boys' faces for any sign of protest. Malfoy was serenely happy; Harry was serenely lost. "You understand that you shall both have caught pneumonia according to anybody who asks, and that you will also miss out on the last two weeks of term."
Holidays already? Harry would've normally been happy to have some free time off to celebrate Christmas at Hogwarts, but he had a feeling that this season wasn't going to be as happy and joyous and previous years had been. He had no clue what was going on, why he or Malfoy were going to this so-called cupboard and why they had to cover their tracks, but he had a feeling insofar as to the nature of the blueprint of his mission Snape was laying out.
Next Snape rounded onto Malfoy's cronies. "You two will pass through at one o'clock, an hour earlier. I shall be there, waiting for the both of you so that I may undo and replace the enchantments. You are to report immediately to your fathers, as you've been told and then—"
"—then we wait for Draco and Harry," finished Goyle. Whatever discipline had been enacted where he was concerned was doing its job well; that stupid, gorilla expression was replaced by astute nervousness and what looked to be a dying wish for everything to go according to plan. If Harry liked Goyle he would've pitied him, but as it stood Harry did not like Goyle so therefore did not pity him.
Discipline and intelligent awareness were completely wasted on Crabbe, however, who cocked his head to one side and said thickly: "And if we don't go to our dads? What happens then?"
"Then you won't finish the necessary preparations, which is a taster of your induction, and you will have marred the process which has been painstakingly organised and laid-out by many individuals thousands of times more important than yourself, and Malfoy's and Potter's parents—" Harry's heart lurched "—will be utterly humiliated, and this painstakingly organised and laid-out process will go to waste, and He won't be very pleased."
"Who's He?" asked Crabbe.
Snape's only response for a long time was a blink. There was a moment in which Harry thought his heart was going to palpitate because his brain had already pieced the information together and filled in the gaps, and yet he could not process it. It took Snape's cold sneer to put everything into perspective for him.
"The Dark Lord."
Author's notes: I rather like Quidditch. C&C, hm?
You can read the fanfiction from the start on its FF.Net page or you can hop straight to chapter two right here. Otherwise, you can look at what other fictions I have to offer on my profile.