Chapter 3 : The Daredevil Seeker Extraordinaire
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The Daredevil Seeker Extraoridnaire
“Prongs? Prongs? OY! JAMES! WAKE THE FUCK UP!” was James’ pleasant alarm clock the next morning. Sirius was standing over his bed, shaking him like mad.
“Whatimesit?” James mumbled.
“Quarter of seven. Looks like rain. We need to get to breakfast quick, mate,” Sirius said, flipping open James’ trunk and flinging his uniform at him.
James dressed groggily, only half remembering that the quidditch game was in less than two hours. “Forget the tie, just come down!” Sirius cried, inching down the steps impatiently. James stuffed his feet into his shoes and hurried down the stairs, shirt half-buttoned and fly open. James frantically buttoned his shirt, not looking where he was going, and slammed straight into someone. He teetered backwards.
“Watch where you’re going,” Lily said, in her nursing uniform, “and zip up your fly, James.” She left in a blur through the portrait hole. James raised an eyebrow and zipped his fly embarrassedly.
“Hey,” said Sirius, “at least she was looking at your fly.”
“True,” James said, ruffling his hair and stepping out into the hall.
Breakfast was quite an event. What with Hufflepuff’s table being situated directly next to Gryffindor’s that morning, pre-game competition ensued. While most of Gryffindor was busy hurling substandard insults at Hufflepuff, the quidditch team was eating with expressions of intense concentration. Sirius had measured each player’s portions, just like advised in Training for Quidditch: From the Coaches of the Chudley Cannons. Sirius explained to James that, as a seeker, he couldn’t have any weight slowing the broom down, so James’ breakfast consisted of half an apple and a slice of toast. It wasn’t nearly enough for someone of James’ size, six-foot-one with lean muscles, but Sirius insisted.
At least James was better off than Charlotte Stratton. Proclaimed the fastest chaser of the team by Sirius, the tiny speedster was let only half a bran muffin.
“Let’s get to the locker rooms early now, “ Sirius announced to the team, “be there in five minutes.”
Sirius and James trudged through the hallways into the Gryffindor locker room, the other five members of the team trailing behind them. “Got a pep talk yet, do we?” James joked.
“Yeah, I do.” Sirius replied. He grabbed his quidditch uniform from his locker and began to change. James followed suit, staring out the window to the pitch as he went. The clouds were gray, but no rain had fallen yet. He could see that students were already making their way excitedly into the stands.
“Alright, everyone by my locker now,” Sirius announced. Quickly the team congregated in front of Sirius, sitting down on the benches.
Sirius stared at them all for a moment before speaking. “Well, this is Hufflepuff we’re playing. There’s no reason we can’t beat them. We have some bloody awesome chasers, excellent beaters, a keeper with amazing skills, and then there’s James,” Sirius turned to James, grinning, “he’s got a bloody quidditch award. So, does everyone remember the plays? Good. And when we get out there on the field, remember, we are LIONS!” The line was cheesy, but it was Gryffindor’s traditional pep phrase.
Sirius smiled at the team, turned around, and walked into the passageway to the field, where the crowd (now quite large) could see them. A roaring cheer erupted in the red and yellow stands, filling James with adrenaline. When another cheer began, James knew that Hufflepuff was standing at the passageway too. Breathing deeply, James gripped his broom, so eager to ride it, and walked to the center of the pitch with his team. Hufflepuff was doing the same. Madame Hooch walked right inbetween the two teams.
“Alright. First game of the season, I want to see a clean one. Fouls grant a penalty throw to the other team. Captains, shake hands,” Sirius shook the Hufflepuff captain, keeper Gregory Voshkov’s, hand. “Players, mount your brooms. And three, two, one!” The quaffle soared high in the air, followed by the players of both teams. Charlotte took control of the ball, winding between two chasers and towards Voshkov. Charlotte faked to the right hoop, and as Voshkov dove, she threw hard in through the left hoop.
“And seconds into the game, Stratton scores! 10-nil, Gryffindor!” the announcer cried out. James flicked his head quickly and saw that it was a Ravenclaw seventh year that James recognized from Potions. While James tried to remember the boy’s name, a bludger grazed his ear, and James focused his attention back onto finding the snitch.
“Purdy with a nice shot through the right hoop! 10-all!”
James levitated above the pitch, glaring at Hufflepuff’s seeker, Damien Ferrell. Ferrell was long and skinny with mushroom-cut auburn hair. His head twitched incessantly as he searched for the snitch. James raised an eyebrow. Ferrell reminded him somewhat of a very skinny, elongated mouse, like Peter—only stretched and beautified. The sky was growing steadily darker as James and Damien circled about above the pitch, looking every which way as the game went on below.
“Excellent bludger, but it can’t block Singh! Good try by Wickham to save it, score is now 60-30 Hufflepuff!”
James groaned. From his place high in the sky, he felt the first raindrop. Shit., he thought. Soon the few drops of rain turned to a drizzle, barely making droplets on James’ hair.
“Amazing shot by Black! And we’re now 60-40, Hufflepuff! Oh, bludger to the head for Cromwell, and by his own teammate!” James glanced down to see Ben Cromwell wincing in intense pain, rolling his neck around and trying to relieve the ache in his head. Morgan, who was known for his poor aim, was looking extremely guilty. For the remainder of the game, Cromwell was near useless, bending his head this way and that. Sirius and Charlotte were doing a pretty good job getting through the Hufflepuff chasers, but Voshkov blocked their attempts. Grace Wickham, on the other hand, was diving blindly at the quaffle as the rain increased and the visibility became worse.
James glanced back at Ferrell and saw that he was focused on watching the game below. Taking the opportunity, James feinted down a little to see if Ferrell would follow. Ferrell pointed his broom downwards, but pulled back up as James had.
“Oh! Purdy on a roll with her fourth goal of the game! We’re at 80-40, Hufflepuff!” the announcer spoke enthusiastically. James cringed. If only he could find the snitch and get out of the rain, he could save his team the embarrassment of losing the match going on below him.
At the moment Sirius was speeding towards Voshkov, quaffle tucked firmly in his arm. Singh, a Hufflepuff chaser, rammed the nose of his broom against the quaffle, sending it flying.
“And a clear foul by Paul Singh! Will Madam Hooch call it? And it looks like…she will! Penalty shot for Gryffindor to be taken by Sirius Black, team captain. Voshkov looks ready for the throw. Black on the penalty line, now, takes a shot…and SCORES! 80-50 Hufflepuff! And we’ve still got Potter and Ferrell searching up in the air. No sign of the snitch yet, but let’s hope its soon! This rain isn’t going to get any better!”
James sighed. The rain that was once a drizzle was now beginning to come down in prickly sheets, stinging James’ face as he flew around. Damien Ferrell was squinting in the rain, looking for a flash of gold.
“And Hufflepuff scores once more!” the announcer cried, ten minutes later. The rain was coming down hard and fast, the uniforms were drenched. Charlotte and Sirius were having a hard time keeping control of the slippery ball, “Score is 130-70!”
James was becoming impatient. All this time he was only able to lull around in the rain, waiting for his chance to go neck and neck with Ferrell, feel the wind slap rough across his face as he extended his arm far out for the snitch. Ferrell began to stare incredulously at James, also getting antsy. James looked upwards, hoping that maybe the snitch was higher above the pitch, deep in the rain clouds. As he did so, a bludger came barreling towards him. James dodged it, but it tore through the bristles of his broom, leaving them helter-skelter.
Morgan came shooting up towards James, holding his bat ready as the bludger came flying through. He hit it with incredible force, and it sailed towards Voshkov fast. As the bludger came speeding towards the Hufflepuff keeper, Charlotte was racing towards the hoops, holding the quaffle tight under her arm. As Voshkov dodged the heavily-hit bludger, Charlotte shot through the center hoop and scored.
“And Stratton with the score as Voshkov dodges the bludger, wonderful hit by Morgan. Gryffindor still trailing behind, however, with 150-80 Hufflepuff! But the snitch is yet to be spotted, it’s been forty-five minutes already! Potter and Ferrell, still searching!”
The rain was so heavy, James felt himself becoming soaked to the bone. He marveled at how the temperature changed so suddenly over the course of a month. One minute all the school is lounging about with their sleeves rolled up, the next it’s frigid cold and daggers of rain are falling.
Down below, Singh had possession of the quaffle and was flying steadily towards Wickham. He faked left and threw through the center hoop. “Hufflepuff with a double lead, 160-80! And it looks like the snitch has been spotted!”
James whipped his head around and saw Ferrell beginning a dive towards the ground. James could barely make out the glint of gold in all the rain, but he dove as well, leaning forward as he sped downwards. James had soon nearly caught up with Ferrell, and they were both just twenty feet from the ground.
The snitch was beating its wings fast and loud, swerving back and forth, up and down. James and Damien found themselves maneuvering their brooms wildly, trying to keep in line with the snitch. It veered right, then plunged towards the ground. James reacted first, following the snitch as close as possible as it weaved in between the bases of the quidditch posts. Damien was following close behind, and James ducked his head down to increase his speed. The snitch went up, near into the game where the quaffle and bludgers were being beaten about wildly. A bludger hit by a Hufflepuff beater made a beeline towards James’ left arm. Trying not to lose his focus, James continued speeding at the snitch, but the bludger collided into James’ forearm with a sickening crack.
Breathing sharply in agony as James tried to rest his left arm on the broom, he sped forward. The commentator made an enthusiastic comment as James led in front of Ferrell towards the snitch. As he came close to the buzzing gold ball, he reached out his hand in an effort to catch it, but the wing barely grazed his fingertip. At the touch, the snitch plummeted downwards once again, this time with much more speed. James could feel Ferrell gaining on him, so he turned and dove perpendicular to the ground. It was hard to hold onto the broom with his left hand, which was screaming in pain, and he began to slip forward on the broom, not able to grip it correctly. Mere feet from the ground, with the snitch within reach, James extended his right arm and tried to pull out of the sharp dive with his left. His fingers closed tight around the snitch and in the same instant the nose of the broom hit the ground, snapped, and James collided hard with the earth.
Lily was flipping through a magazine on a spare bed in the Hospital Wing, listening to the rain drum on the glass outside. The other student nurses had gone to watch the quidditch match awhile ago, so it was only Madam Bowne and Lily in the Wing with the patients, who were all either asleep or sitting calmly in their beds. A faint cheer came from the quidditch pitch, and Madam Bowne turned to Lily.
“Match must be over. Now all we have to do is wait for those unthinking daredevils to come limping in.”
Lily nodded. Suddenly the Hospital Wing door burst open. Lily threw her magazine aside and stared at the spectacle before her. Unconscious and in horrible shape was James Potter, floated in on a stretcher by Professor McGonagall and Sirius Black.
“Oh, dear!” Madam Bowne cried out. Lily pointed Professor McGonagall to a spare bed, and she lay him down on it.
“Mister Potter took a spill off his broom. Fell face first into the ground,” Professor McGonagall informed them, concern lacing her words.
“But he caught the snitch!” Sirius cheered, smiling at Lily. Lily rolled her eyes and looked at James. He was wretched. He was bleeding all over his forehead and chest, his left cheek black and blue, his nose bent, and his lip busted open. James’ left forearm was completely snapped, his right fingers crushed, and three of his ribs poking slightly out of his soaked quidditch uniform.
“Miss Evans, would you prep him, please?” Madam Bowne asked, shaken up and rushing around the room, looking for bandages and potions. Lily sighed and carefully unbuttoned James’ quidditch shirt, finally removing it. His chest looked as if he had run straight into a cement wall, all bruising and broken. The sight was revolting. At last, Madam Bowne came back and began to wipe off the blood. As she did, the Hospital Wing doors opened once again and in came Ben Cromwell with an enormous bruise on the right side of his head.
“Dear Merlin!” Madam Bowne cried, “What happened to you?!”
Ben swayed and mumbled “Bluggr,” his eyes rolling upwards.
“I swear,” Madam Bowne said, handing the bloody towel to Lily and making a beeline towards Ben, “why they even let people play quidditch, I have not the slightest idea! And would you look at that?,” Madam Bowne cried as she felt Ben’s head, “cracked skull! Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if you had a concussion there. Miss Evans, could you keep with Mister Potter, daredevil seeker extraordinaire?” Madam Bowne rushed Ben into a separate room to check his swollen head.
Lily grimaced and continued to clean James’ chest. “What the hell did you do, Potter?” Lily whispered, running the cloth over his stomach, which, she would admit, was quite toned, “Just decided to try flying upside down for the snitch? Whatever it is it was pretty idiotic of you.”
Their ward was deserted, save Lily and James, so she proceeded to ramble to James’ unconscious form. “If Madam Bowne would just come back, then I’d be free to go eat lunch,” Lily mumbled, “because I’m really, really hungry. I’ve been in the Wing since I bumped into you this morning. Seriously, you’d think after six years of living in close proximity to girls, you’d learn to zip your freaking fly before going down to where they can see you. Do you think Madam Bowne would care if I just fixed your fingers or something,” Lily continued, bored, “because it’s not particularly exciting to keep wiping congealed blood and dirt off you. Or maybe I’ll just leave. Merlin, does it really take so long to treat a guy with a bludger to the head? I mean, I could fix him. You’re more of a case. You know what? I don’t care. I’m going to fix your freaking fingers. And so help me if they end up falling off. It could be worse.”
Lily looked around to make sure no one was coming, and then applied a potion to James’ fingers while mumbling an incantation. His fingers began to snap back into place, the swelling stopped, and the bluish hue disappeared.
“Alright,” Lily said, marveling at her work, “one less thing for Madam Bowne to fuss over you about. That’s about six hours you don’t have to stay in the Hospital Wing in my vicinity. You owe me. Maybe you can skip a prefect meeting for me. Or forget to patrol when we have patrolling together. Either works,” Lily was subconsciously rubbing the same spot of James’ chest with the towel as she talked, “Cor, Potter. You’re a great listener when you’re blooming unconscious.”
Finally, Madam Bowne came back into the ward, fixing her apron. “He’ll need to stay overnight,” she said, referring to Ben Cromwell, “and how long do you think this one’ll take?” she pointed to James.
“Not long,” Lily suggested hopefully. Madam Bowne shook her head in difference.
“At least overnight, maybe two nights, from what I see. I’ll have to fix these bones, adhere the lip back together, and put him under quite a few potions to reduce the bruising and fully restore him. Not the brightest, this one. I’m guessing he won’t come to for a few hours.”
Madam Bowne took out her wand and began muttering incantations at James, mending the bones. Lily stepped away from the ward, wanting terribly to leave. Bowne must have heard her, because as Lily tiptoed out, she said, “Oh no, Miss Evans. You won’t be leaving. I’d like you to be the one to look after him.”
A/N Yes, I enjoy writing quidditch, can't you tell? Any reviews, constructive criticism or ideas are appreciated!
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