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Chapter 2: James Potter I
All things considered, everything seemed to be going great for James Potter. His final year at Hogwarts was drawing to a close, and while he had no idea of what sort of career he’d like to pursue, his dramatically improved grades would be sure to help him. He’d been made Head Boy this year, which had come as a real shock. He hadn’t even been a Prefect, and if he’d given it any real thought, he would have been certain that Remus would get the badge. But then again, he mused, as he slipped on his Quidditch robes, Moony had enough on his plate without the duties of being Head Boy as well. Once, James might have scoffed at those who proudly wore their badges on their robes, surveying the other students and sounding just like the professors, but being Head Boy did have its perks. He did get to spend an awful lot of time with the Head Girl. For that was the other wonderful thing that had happened this year; Lily Evans had finally, finally, agreed to go out with him, and best of all, Snivellus was keeping his distance. That greasy haired Slytherin git had finally taken the hint, and backed off Lily.
Despite everything that seemed to be happening outside the sanctuary of Hogwarts, his parents wouldn’t reveal anything in their letters but they had taken on a rather sombre tone recently, James had had a truly wonderful year. And the only thing that could possibly enhance it in anyway was to beat Slytherin in the final game of the season.
Today was the last time James would ever don his scarlet robes and play Quidditch as the Gryffindor Captain. Gryffindor had to win, they had to. James came from a family renowned for their excellent Quidditch players, and many of his relatives had been Quidditch Captains in their time. He remembered his father teaching him how to fly on a broomstick when he was a little boy and somehow, as he prepared to walk onto the pitch for the last time, his father’s words seemed to echo in his mind.
‘You’ll be a great Quidditch player one day, James, just like your dad and your granddad and your great-granddad. And when you’re all grown up, and have children of your own, they’ll be wonderful Quidditch players too...”
James led his team out onto the pitch to the sound of deafening applause. Most of the stands were covered in a solid block of scarlet, with what seemed like only a tiny amount of emerald banners. He grinned as he shook the other captain’s hand. He had a good feeling about this; they were going to win. As he and the other players rose into the air after the shrill whistle sounded, he cast a quick eye over the crowd to try and pick out his friends. To his delight, he managed to spot them straight away. They were grouped together at the back of the stands waving frantically at him; Sirius, taller than James with his dark hair falling into his eyes, Remus grinning valiantly despite his pale face and the large gash on his cheek and Peter, at least a head shorter than the other two, his small watery eyes ablaze with excitement. And there, on the other side of Sirius, stood Lily, grinning up at him with her long red hair dancing in the summer breeze and those beautiful green eyes shining in the sunlight. James felt his heart skip a beat as she caught his eye and waved at him.
“Not getting distracted by your gorgeous girlfriend, are you?” smirked Mulciber, one of the Slytherin Beaters as he zoomed past, club held aloft.
Reluctantly, James pulled his gaze away from Lily. As much as a git as Mulciber was, he did have a point, even though it pained James to take advice from Slytherin slime balls like him. He couldn’t allow himself to get distracted, not on the last game of the season, and besides, there’d be plenty of time to celebrate with Lily when they’d won the match.
He threw himself whole-heartedly into the match, putting into play the strategies he’d discussed with his team at the last training session. His parents had bought him a new broom over the summer, a present for being made Head Boy, and to his delight, his Cleansweep Two easily outstripped the Slytherin Chasers. Every time the Quaffle was airborne, James was there to snatch it up and head towards the goals. More often than not, his aim was successful and the scarlet Quaffle soared right through the golden hoops, exactly on target. However, as much as James hated the Slytherin team, from their emerald robes to their smug expressions, he had to admit that they did have some good players. So it was understandable that the other team had managed to score a few points. Just a few. They could easily pull it back, though. They just wouldn’t let it happen again.
Flying over the stands to retrieve the stray Quaffle, James nodded down at Sirius, whose smile meant it was time to put the plan to raise Gryffindor’s morale into action. Nudging Lily, and Remus, who in turn poked Peter in the side, Sirius cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled for the entire stadium to hear, “GO, GO GRYFFINDOR!” This cry was immediately taken up by Lily, Remus and Peter. It spread quickly amongst the scarlet supporters, and even to the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students, all of whom were desperate to see Slytherin beaten. Within seconds, most of the stadium had erupted into thunderous yells of “GO GO GRYFFINDOR!” Out of the corner of his eye, James could have sworn that he saw Professor McGonagall, his Transfiguration teacher, chanting along while the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore chuckled happily. Professor Slughorn, who after all, was head of Slytherin House did not look best pleased.
Caught unawares by this sudden burst of noise, the Slytherin Keeper gazed out into the crowd, where his own team’s supporters glared back, stony faced. Taking advantage of this distraction, James darted forwards and threw the Quaffle through the goal hoop once again. The joyful yells of the Gryffindor supporters intensified in volume, drowning out any snide comments or smirks from the Slytherin side.
It seemed James’ team could do no wrong. The Keeper had only let in a few goals, but had pulled off some truly spectacular saves. The Beaters were always there, armed with their clubs, ready to whack the Bludgers away from their teammates. The other two Chasers worked in perfect harmony with James, ready with an accurate aim. The Seeker, a new find who had only been a reserve last year, hadn’t had much to do yet, it was true, but James was confident that he’d be able to catch the Snitch when the time came. For now, he hovered high above the other players, his eyes darting about the pitch, peeled for the all important sight of the Golden Snitch.
It was an odd kind of excitement that pulsed through James as he set up yet another goal. He was always slightly nervous, not that he’d ever admit it, during a Quidditch game, and that had only intensified when he had been made Captain. Still, the fact that this was the last ever game he would play at Hogwarts, seemed to reverberate through his mind, only making him more desperate to win. He knew the whole of Gryffindor House was desperate for a win, they hadn’t won the Cup in years, and the atmosphere in the stands had never been so tense. Even the teachers had become strangely competitive in the weeks leading up to the match. Professor McGonagall, the strictest and sternest teacher James had ever known, had actually let him off homework for the past few days, insisting he had quite enough to be concentrating on. While this meant he could schedule more team practices and have a laugh at the others struggling over an impossibly hard essay, it had also been successful in reminding him how important this was. The whole of Gryffindor was counting on him to lead their team to victory, as were Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.
The scarlet Quaffle soared through the middle goal hoop once again. The sound of the commentator’s voice through the magical megaphone rang out loud and clear over the crowd cheering. “Another ten points for Gryffindor! Captain James Potter certainly has put a good side together this year, and now they lead Slytherin by one hundred points to fifty!”
James felt his heart skip an almighty beat. They were leading by fifty points, his team were doing spectacularly well, but if the other team caught the Snitch, Slytherin could still win the Cup. And then, as if in response to his worst fears, the commentator’s voice cut through the air like a knife, “SLYTHERIN SEEKER, REGULUS BLACK, IS IN DIRECT PURSUIT OF THE SNITCH!”
Panic flooded James’ insides. Wheeling around, he saw Black, a Slytherin fifth year, Sirius’ younger brother no less, thrown almost completely flat against his broomstick, a look of utter concentration on his face and his arm outstretched towards the tiny golden ball. James’ eyes scanned the pitch in desperation and he was able to pick out his team’s Seeker at once. The sixth year was little more than a scarlet blur speeding after the Slytherin Seeker. But he was too far away; there was no way he could hope to catch up with Black, whose fingers were mere millimetres away from the Snitch...
WHOOSH. A Bludger soared past James; so close he felt it ruffle his hair like a rough wind. It had been sent that way by one of his team’s Beaters, who had given it an almighty whack with his club. The Bludger hurtled towards Black and the Snitch, cleaving a clear path between the two. Black, out of instinct perhaps, had drawn his hand back, out of the Bludger’s way, and that one moment of hesitation was all it took. Peakes, that sixth year who had only joined the team that year and had never played Seeker before, had finally caught up with Black.
Time seemed to freeze for that one fraction of a second. Every player, every teacher, every spectator appeared to have drawn their collective breath as Peakes’ fingers closed around the Golden Snitch. As he rose steadily into the air, the hand clasping the Snitch held high for all to see, the illusion was shattered. The air itself seemed to vibrate as the Gryffindors roared their immense approval. Waving their scarlet banners and scarves in the air and screaming “GO GO GRYFFINDOR!” to the heavens, what seemed like the whole house began to spill onto the pitch.
James hit the ground lightly, hardly able to believe what had just happened. His team dismounted their brooms, Peakes still clutching the Snitch, and ran to meet him, their arms tangled in a huge hug and their incomprehensible shout filling his ears. A huge grin stretched over James’ face. They had done it, Gryffindor had won the Cup, they had beaten Slytherin and he had led his team to victory. He was passed the Cup by a sobbing Professor McGonagall who made no attempt to stem the flow of tears but waved a huge scarlet flag in the direction of a rather disgruntled Professor Slughorn who was applauding with a very forced smile on his face.
He hoisted the Cup high into the air, his team’s arms around him and beamed at the spectators. Most of Gryffindor were on the pitch, cheering and applauding with all their might, every Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw student had stood up and were yelling and punching their fists in the air. James suddenly wished his dad could see this. He had written of course, that morning, sending his son the best of luck, but it wasn’t the same as actually having him there in the stands, cheering James on and getting to witness this moment. There was no way James would be able to put this feeling down on parchment; this elated, triumphant, proud feeling that was coursing through his body. And for the second time that day, the words his father had spoken all those years ago filled his mind again, “And when you’re all grown up, and have children of your own, they’ll be wonderful Quidditch players too...”
Yes they will, James thought suddenly, if I ever have children they will be great Quidditch players. And I’ll be there for every single match they play. I’ll stand right at the front of the stands and watch my son or daughter hold this Cup. I’ll be there to cheer them on all the way. I’ll be there.
He felt three more people join them, their arms thumping his back, their excited voices yelling their congratulations.
“WELL DONE, MATE!” Sirius cried. “You did some seriously cool flying up there! I can’t believe Peakes caught the Snitch right under Regulus’ nose! He looked seriously hacked off and my parents are going to be furious! They spent a fortune on that broom for him and he didn’t even win on it! Ha!” Sirius looked positively ecstatic at this.
“That was so cool, James!” Peter squealed. “You were so amazing, that has to be the most goals you’ve ever scored in a single match ever!”
“Thanks, Peter,” James smiled, looking up at Remus who hadn’t spoken yet.
Remus smiled back, “What else can I add?” he laughed.
James handed the Cup to Peakes who was eager to show it to his friends just as another person came to James. He did not even have to look at her to know who it was. Lily threw her slender arms around him, her red hair swinging like another Gryffindor banner and kissed him, full on the mouth, in front of the entire school.
James’ perfect year had just gotten even better, and it was surprising how this was not all down to winning the match.