Chapter Eighteen: Quidditch Quabbling
Harry had completely forgotten about something that was rather important, all until one Tuesday morning when he left Potions with Hermione, and they came across quite a commotion in the entrance hall.
"What's going on?" Hermione said, catching a third year running past.
"It's the Quidditch League! The team registration book's just gone out, you've got to get your team all registered by Friday or you're not in the league!" the excited boy said, before rushing off up the marble staircase.
Harry's heart skipped. Quidditch! How could he have forgotten? His greatest love, brushed aside in the light of all the darkness going on around him. He'd completely forgotten all about making a team, and there wasn't long until Christmas came. Even as he started pushing through to the front of the crowd, as more and more people went away with forms for teams, he began to plan out members. Ron would be Keeper, there was no way they could leave him out. Then he would be Seeker, and Ginny could be a Chaser... Draco was a bit of a problem, but he could probably be talked into playing a Chaser too. So that left one more Chaser and two Beaters...
He took one of the forms eagerly, and then hurried back out of the crowd to Hermione, waving it in her face like an infant with a lolly. "I got one!"
"Good for you," she said, vaguely. "Come on, we've got to get to the Hospital Wing, Draco needs his Runes homework. You can sort out the team with him them."
She dragged him across the entrance hall, having to stop twice for Harry to grin and show off his form to a few more people, before she finally got him inside and shut the door. Draco was in the far bed, curled on his side, looking rather sulky as he toyed disinterestedly with a grape in the bowl on his bedside cabinet. Harry walked over, sitting in the chair and blocking Draco's view with his Quidditch form.
Draco snorted. "Seeker, Potter."
"Oh, can't you both just shut up about Quidditch for one minute?" said Hermione, impatiently, sitting on Draco's other side. "It's not the only thing in the world."
Draco sat up in bed, and to Harry's alarm, he saw that Draco's right arm was bound in a sling. "What happened - "
Draco's eyes narrowed. "Zabini 'accidentally' tripped me up yesterday on my way to the bathroom." He shot a dark glare at Blaise across the ward, who was asleep. "But anyway. Runes homework. It's not translating some dirty great roll of - oh, great." Hermione had just taken a three foot long scroll of parchment and handed it to Draco.
"It's got a few symbols we haven't learn yet," she said, promptly. "I've included them on a piece of paper on the back. Professor Maxell wants you to copy them into your notebook. For Friday."
"Lucky me," said Draco, sarcastically, shifting the whole lot a drawer on his bedside cabinet. "Now, to more important business. Potter, I'm the Seeker."
"I don't think so."
"I'm better than you."
"No you're not."
"Oh come on," said Hermione. "Don't be so childish! Why don't you just share the job?"
They both gave her very patronising looks, and said at the same time, "There's only one Seeker."
"I know that," she said, impatiently. "But you could have like a rota! Swap, one week Harry's the Seeker, then Draco, then Harry."
"What, so we only play every other week?" said Draco.
"No, you swap between Seeker and Chaser, or Seeker and Beater, or whatever," said Hermione. "Isn't it obvious to work it out? You're both good Seekers."
"But who's the best?" said Harry.
She looked between them, torn. "I don't know! You're both good, stop trying to decide who's the best. Harry's accurate, Draco's fast - "
"I'M fast!" Harry protested.
"And I'M accurate!" said Draco.
"I know!" she said, exasperatedly. "But you can't BOTH be the Seeker! Just learn to compromise!"
Both of them scowled darkly, arms folded very put out.
"Oh, don't be so pathetically macho," she said, tutting. "Why don't we just make Ron the Seeker, just to stop you fighting!"
"No!" they both said, desperately.
"Then compromise!" she said.
"Fine," Draco sighed.
Harry scribbled in "H Potter/D Malfoy" in the Seeker slot, repeating it in the first Chaser slot, and then he paused. "I'm the captain."
"Oh no, Potter, you are not. I'm the captain."
"I got the sheet!"
"I'm the best Seeker!"
"You are not!"
Hermione groaned and rubbed her forehead as they continued to squabble like toddlers in a nursery school. Eventually, she snatched it off them, and wrote, "Seeker" in the box. "There! You swap with that as well!" She sighed, sitting back. "I don't believe how childish you both are."
Harry sniffed, taking the sheet back and mulling over the second Chaser position. After a moment, he said, "He started it."
"Oh, shut up, Potter. You insufferable jerk."
"Both of you are prats! Be quiet!" She swiped the paper off Harry again, took the quill and scribbled "R Weasley" in the Keeper box. "Now who else? And no, you can't have it back, you'll just fight!" she said, as Harry gave her a look that was like a baby that had had its candy stolen.
"Chasers," said Draco. "Weasley's little sister is... fairly skilled."
Harry nodded. "Give Ginny the second Chaser job. So we need Beaters, and another Chaser. And a team name."
Hermione folded the sheet up, and tucked it neatly into her bag. "I've watched all the matches, while you two have been too busy playing to notice other people. I'll get some names of people who would join our team."
"But I'm the captain, I should - " Harry started, but at the glare from Hermione, he fell silent. Draco snickered and took a grape from the bowl on his bedside table.
"You do keep him in line, don't you, Granger?"
Harry and Ron were sitting in the Gryffindor common room playing Wizard Chess when Hermione walked in through the portrait hole.
"Have you got some names?" said Harry, looking up, as Ron's bishop grabbed one of his pawns and flung it violently off the board.
Hermione smiled sweetly, sitting in the armchair next to Ron and handing Harry two sheets of paper. His eyes widened. "All these people?"
"All I had to say was that we had Potter, Weasley and Malfoy," she said. "And they just flocked to me."
Harry started glancing down the list. Hermione had even got what house and year they were in, and if they'd played Quidditch on the team before. He found a sixth year, that had played Quidditch, and said, "Hey, I didn't know Ernie Macmillan was a Beater."
"Neither did I," said Hermione. "He was one of the Hufflepuff Beaters last year, along with a guy whose left. But look there..." She scanned the list as Harry circled Ernie's name, and then pointed. "Slytherin, been a Beater for three years, seventh year... looks good Harry."
Harry checked the name, and choked. "Zabini! Kainda Zabini! Are you crazy? Blaise Zabini's older brother, on our team? No way!"
Hermione smiled. "It's not his brother, it's his sister, and they don't get on. She's really nice Harry, honestly. I've seen her play before, she's incredible with a Beater's bat. Just give her a chance."
Harry frowned, unconvinced, but put a ring around Kainda's name anyway, and continued scanning down the list. "So we've got our possible Beaters... we just need a good Chaser."
"A seventh year," said Ron. "We need some older students, Zabini will have got as many heavy-hitters as he can."
Harry spotted one, a seventh year Ravenclaw, been on the team for ages. He followed the name along and choked for the second time in as many minutes. "Cho!"
Hermione smiled. "She came over and asked what I was doing, I asked her if she wanted to. She said sure, her friends don't like playing Quidditch so she doesn't have a team yet. What do you think?"
"Yeah... okay," he said. He hadn't really had a chance to talk to Cho apart from in DA club, and even then, he had his hands full with Kibbles. He circled her name carefully. "So we can set up a meeting tomorrow after school and test them out. Does anybody have some parchment so I can write to them?"
Hermione, well prepared for everything as always, took a few scrolls of parchment from her bag and handed them to Harry. "Where's Hedwig, Harry?"
"She's over there," he said, gesturing to the owl post in the corner, starting on a letter to Cho and making sure he kept his handwriting neat.
As Hermione went off to get Hedwig, Ron leaned over to Harry and muttered, "I'm not sure about that Kainda..."
Harry shrugged. "We'll have a look, she might be good."
"No, I mean... Blaise's older sister?" Ron snorted. "Yeah, she's not a spy at all trying to get info on who's on your team," he said, sarcastically.
"I know," said Harry. "We might as well just give her a chance. If she looks even slightly suspicious, we'll get rid of her, okay?"
Ron nodded, and sat back, still looking unconvinced. Harry finished his letter to Cho with a slight flourish on his signature, and when Ron wasn't looking, he added three hasty 'x's to the bottom and rolled it up, blushing slightly.
At half past three the next day, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were to be found outside on the Quidditch pitch, trying to stay warm despite the biting cold winds. Neville was sitting in the stands watching, huddled around a jam jar full of bluebell flames, and Luna was sitting next to him in a rather odd feathery coat, looking like a huge owl reading The Quibbler. Hermione wasn't on the team, after insisting she didn't like moving fast at great heights, but had added her name at the bottom of the sheet as "Spokesperson / Manager". Draco, of course, was still ill with Slytherin Risotta, but Harry had visited him at lunch break.
"Oh, Kainda?" Draco had said, eyeing the list of auditionees. "She is a good player, Potter. Very good. Flint wouldn't let her in the team at first, but Snape put his foot down after seeing her play. That's how impressive she is."
Harry couldn't help that think she should be very impressive indeed to make up for having them all outside on such a cold day waiting for her. Of course, he didn't think like this about Cho - but that was different. At least it was to Harry.
Ron shivered, making an impatient 'brrr'ing noise, stamping his feet against the ground to try and warm his feet. "Come on, where are they? You did write half past three on the letter, didn't you Harry?"
"Yes," said Harry. "They'll be here soon, don't worry."
Ron huffed and leant against one of the goalposts, yelping as his cloak stuck to it. They were so busy trying to pull him off it without ripping his cloak in two that they didn't notice the troop of Hufflepuffs sneaking in. Ernie was accompanied by Hannah Abbott, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and a few others that had apparently come along to watch, and they certainly did watch with amazement as Hermione tried to detach Ron from the post with a melting charm, which only singed the back of his cloak.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to stare?" he snapped. Ernie's friends all scuttled off to sit with Neville and Luna, as Hermione was heard to mutter, "Hmm, I think it's stuck..."
Ernie came over. "What's happened?"
"I'm stuck to the pole," Ron said, darkly. He folded his arms and huffed, annoyed, as Hermione started to blow on it to try and melt the ice.
Ernie tried not to smile too much as he leant down to help Hermione. Harry was rather occupied to join in, as Cho had just strolled onto the pitch through two of the stands, looking beautiful in a shimmering pink coat with a rather cute white fur trim. Harry tried his best not to stare as she came over, flashing him a dazzling smile. "Hi."
"Hi," he managed, feeling as though his tongue had frozen to the roof of his mouth. "You... look pretty..."
She smiled shyly, blushing the same soft shade as her coat. "Thankyou."
"Oi! Loverboy! Help!" Ron yelled from behind Harry. Ernie had apparently got his tongue stuck to the pole, according to the shouting of, "Ow, ow, dow puw ow it, dow puw ow it!"
Harry felt himself blushing furiously as he grinned sheepishly to Cho. She grinned back, and then both of them went to go and detach Ernie and Ron from the pole.
Hermione was saying, "Just stay calm, just keep blowing out through your nose and it'll melt, Ernie." Ernie started to snort against the pole, very much like Kibbles had started to do when he was annoyed.
"Want a hand?" said a voice from above.
Everybody looked up, as a figure flew overhead on a broom, sitting sideways quite casually, as though it was a garden bench. She was pretty tall, well-built compared to Cho's slim curves, with a handsome, tomboyish sort of face, her light brown hair scooped back into a long, wavy ponytail.
"Are you - " Harry began.
"Kainda?" She descended slowly on the broom, controlling it perfectly. "Yeah, that's me. Nice to meet you." She offered him a hand, which he shook, returning the warm smile she gave him. She then turned to the dilemma with the pole, taking her wand from her belt. "Hold still," she said to Ernie, and then murmuring, "Dalitua."
A gentle trickle of warm water flowed from the end of her wand, running careful down the pole, all over Ernie's tongue and the patch of Ron's cloak that was stuck. Ron gave a great tug, and went flying forward, having to grab Harry to stop himself falling face down into the snow, and with a horrible noise like velcro being eased apart, Ernie pulled his tongue back. Kainda wrinkled her nose. "You might have a bit of problem with taste for a while, but that should clear up nicely. Still talking?"
"Yeth, thankth," said Ernie.
She chuckled. "Good. So, who's the captain?"
"I am," said Harry, stoutly.
Hermione tutted, coming over with her clipboard. "No, he's not, Kainda. He's sharing the position with Draco Malfoy, you know him... I'm the Manager and Spokesperson."
Kainda grinned. "Who's doing marketing and promotions?"
"Well, me, I suppose, but - " Hermione saw the look on Kainda's face and smiled sheepishly, blushing, then gesturing at all the people around. "Ron's the Keeper, Harry and Draco are also sharing Chaser and Seeker positions, then Cho is our second Chaser, and Ginny's third. Oh, and this is Ernie, he's our other Beater."
Ernie smiled weakly, too busy prodding his tongue with his fingers to pay much attention.
Kainda smiled. "Nice to meet you all."
"This isn't the definite team yet," Hermione went on. "Though it could be, we're just... checking skills today, making sure we've made the right decisions..."
"Sure," said Kainda. "Thanks for inviting me. I know girl Beaters are kinda rare, but hey, I'll try my best."
Harry found he was quite starting to like her attitude, though didn't have too much time to think into the matter, as Cho took his hand and smiled shyly. He tried not to blush too much, weaving his fingers with her gently.
Hermione flicked through a few pages of notes. "Okay, we're just going to have a practice game... Ron's going to be in goal, the Chasers will try to score past him while the Beaters stop the Bludgers, but you know all this... Harry's just going to watch because he's in charge of the decision over all. We need some good strong Beaters because apparently Blaise has got the biggest Slytherins in seventh year that he could find." Harry saw her glance at Kainda for a moment. "So let's hope you can play well."
Kainda, it turned out, could play well. Once they were all up in the air and warming up, practicing their throwing skills, Harry sat down by Hermione. She was already making notes on her clipboard, apparently concentrating on the Chasers, but Harry was more interested in Kainda. She had brought a bag of apples out with her, and was crouched on the ground, her bat in one hand, searching through them with the other. He watched, intrigued, as she found a good apple and threw it gently up the air. It arced right up, almost as high as the goalposts, curving over her head, and Harry thought it was a pretty terrible throw until she jumped onto her broom, speeding along the ground after it, raising her club. There was a crack like a gunshot as she belted the apple with all her might and it blew into pieces, showering the nearby ground. Harry couldn't hide the impressed look on his face.
"Put her down," he said to Hermione. "She's our Beater. Just watch her, I've never seen anybody hit like that."
Hermione vaguely looked up as Kainda obliterated another apple. "Oh, interesting... yeah... we don't know what she's like with the actual Bludgers yet though. Should I let one out?"
He nodded, and she opened up the trunk with a few snaps of the locks, then called that she was releasing a Bludger. Ernie and Kainda both got ready, and then with a bang, Hermione flung the straps off and the Bludger shot into the air, straight into action, speeding at Ron. Ernie was after it in a heartbeat and sent it reeling off in the other direction. Harry felt a surge of panic as he saw it go on Kainda, her back turned, and he opened his mouth to warn her, but she was way ahead of him. She flung her arm back, hitting the Bludger away backwards. His eyes widened. That, if he remembered correctly from Oliver Wood's wriggling diagrams, was a Bludger Backbeat. Even the Weasley twins hadn't been able to do that without spraining their arms or dropping their clubs.
Ron seemed to be doing fairly well guarding the hoops, as Cho and Ginny did their best to get past him. Harry wondered for a moment where their third Chaser was, before he realised it was him, and felt rather stupid.
Cho was once the Ravenclaw Seeker, but she was quite a good Chaser as well. She somehow managed to be graceful and elegant on a broom, like a swan in flight, and yet be fast and accurate as well. Ginny was doing fine too and was really making Ron work. Several times he had to leap to the side to beat the Quaffle away from the goal, and then Cho had the Quaffle at the other side. Kainda and Ernie were doing fine keeping the Bludger at bay, and Kainda demonstrated her Bludger Backbeat quite a few more times, putting on quite a show really. Harry found himself grinning as he looked around at them all. He didn't like to sound too hopeful, but from what he could see, they had a decent chance of doing well in the league.
"I told you so, didn't I?" Draco was sitting up in bed in the hospital wing, looking a little better than the previous day, healthy enough to pick vaguely at the salad Madam Pomfrey had given him for his evening meal.
Harry nodded. "Okay, so you did. Maybe I was a bit... reluctant. But she is good, I'll admit it."
"Didn't you ever wonder how we did so well at injuring other teams?" said Draco, tearing a tiny shred of a piece of lettuce and nibbling at it, rabbit style. "She didn't play in all matches... Flint had something against her. We reckoned they dated for a while and split up, so Flint didn't like having her in the team, especially for important matches. But she worked marvellously with both the other Beaters. Did you see her Dopplebeater Defence?"
Harry shook his head. The Dopplebeater Defence was one of the hardest Beater moves imaginable, where both Beaters hit the Bludger at the same time. "She did quite a few backhanded club swings though."
"Mmm," said Draco. "Wait until you see what she's like in matches. I've never seen a more aggressive Beater in my life. Were you there at the Ravenclaw-Slytherin game where she pretended she was going to punch their Keeper on the nose? The Transylvanian Tackle?" Draco chuckled at the memory. "No contact was made, it was a perfectly legal move. That guy's scared stiff of her though. He's say she's deranged."
"What's Blaise like as a player?" Harry asked.
Draco wrinkled his nose. "Huh. He says he can play any position, and admittedly, he can. His problem is that he doesn't concentrate on being good at one thing, he just lets himself be average on everything. He won't be the biggest problem in the team he's got." He lowered his voice. "They all came in here this afternoon. All male, all sixth and seventh year Slytherins, all big enough to crush anybody that gets in their way. Even worse than when Flint was in charge. They'll be a hard team to beat, Potter."
"So we will," said Harry. "Come on... so they've got trolls on broomsticks. We've got four ex-Seekers, a Keeper that decided the outcome of the Quidditch Cup last year, two Beaters who could probably knock down the goalposts if they hit them hard enough..."
Draco sighed. "I suppose you're right." He paused for a moment, and then said, "You do realise support for me is not going to be good. Most of the teams we play against will be after me."
"So we'll have Ernie looking out for you. No big deal."
Draco didn't look convinced, but said nothing more about it. He sat back, shuffling his pillows and placing one hand on his stomach, looking pained again. "You don't know how lucky you are, Potter."
"Don't ask," said Draco, simply, still massaging his side. "Have you thought of a name yet, by the way?"
"For the team?" Harry shrugged. "Not really. I was thinking Hogwarts United, but - "
"Don't be stupid, Potter, there are going to be about twenty teams wanting to call themselves Hogwarts United," said Draco, frowning at him. "We need something more original. Something people will remember. Preferably with three syllables, or something that can be given a shortened version of three syllables."
Harry stared at him. "Why?"
"Chanting, Potter? Have you ever wondered why the Tutshill Tornados only started winning recently?" He clapped three times, while saying, "Tor - nay - doughs, it just doesn't work. The emphasis is in the wrong place. And they people start chanting 'Tutshill, Tutshill' and suddenly they win the league. It's all in the name."
Harry shook his head. "You're just incredibly picky, you know."
"Not so," said Draco. "Think about it. A name is the first thing people will know about us, and so obviously it gives the biggest impression. Look at me. My first name means Dragon in Latin, and my second comes from centuries and centuries ago. It means 'bad faith' in French. Now, think about it. If that had been 'good faith', I would be Draco Bonfoy."
Harry couldn't help but let out a snort of laughter. "That sounds like a bakery company."
Draco smirked. "You see? It's the difference between aristocrat and bun maker. Now, a name for the team."
Harry started to take this a little more seriously, thinking hard. "Alright... we need something that makes us friendly and easy to support."
"Oh, on the contrary," said Draco. "Something to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents."
Harry stared at him again. "We're not naming a pirate ship, it's a Quidditch team, Draco."
"Fine, fine, we'll take your happy little name. How about We Love House Elves, or Kibbles United. Ooh, here's a good one, how about the Happy Smiley Rainbow Team?" Draco suggested, the sarcasm dripping from his voice.
"I don't know, Hermione wouldn't mind We Love House Elves."
"You just can't be serious for one second, can you?"
"Oh, you were being serious about the Happy Smiley Rainbow Team? I had no idea."
"Prat." Draco fluffed his pillow again, and then laid back, looking up at the ceiling. "Something energetic and sparky. To do with magic would be good, this is after all a school for magic."
"Sparky..." said Harry, getting an idea. "How about... The Sparks?"
"No, that makes us sound like some cheesy 1960s rock and roll quartet." Draco thought, idly toying with a grape before eating it absent-mindedly. "Though it's a good basis."
A flash of inspiration suddenly came to Harry, and he said, "The Bright Sparks."
Draco looked at him, distractedly chewing his grape. "Not bad, Potter. Not bad at all. The Bright Sparks... I like it."
"We'll have that then," said Harry. He scribbled it down at the top of the sheet. "Oh... we need a logo to be charmed onto our Quidditch robes. I can't draw."
Draco took the sheet of him and his quill, thinking for a moment before carefully inking something into the box. Harry craned his neck, trying to see. When Draco was done, he drew back with a flourish, showing Harry a carefully drawn picture of a wand releasing a shower of sparks and stars. 'The Bright Sparks' was added carefully to the bottom, in graffiti style lettering. Harry smiled. "Yeah, good."
Draco smiled smugly. "Yes, I thought so. Is there anything else we need to add on this?"
Harry scanned it quickly, and then said, "No, I don't think so."
"Well?" Draco smirked. "What are you waiting for? Go get us registered, Potter."
Harry didn't need telling twice. With a hurried goodbye, he grabbed his back from the floor and hurried out of the hospital wing. The entrance hall was empty for once, and so he stepped carefully up to the Quidditch Registration Book, holding the form tight in his hand. It flicked open before him, offering a blank page to him. Carefully as he could, he pressed the piece of parchment onto the paper, and stood back to watch.
The book held it like glue, and then gradually, the two pieces of paper began to merge together, so they were just one. All his lettering and writing rearranged itself, the logo expanded gradually, and within a few moments, everything sealed itself down. Harry grinned proudly.
He was about to turn and go, when there was a noise like a microwave done cooking, and a piece of paper printed out of a slot in the table. He knelt down, tearing it off and reading it.
Dear SEEKER - Thankyou for registering your Quidditch team, THE BRIGHT SPARKS. Your first match is against THE RESERVES on 17TH DECEMBER, starting at 3:30 PM. Please be punctual and have your team ready for the starting time. Best of luck in the Quidditch League.
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