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Chapter 16 : The Lions Take On the Serpents
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During the next two weeks, tensions ran high between the Gryffindors and Slytherins. As the impending Quidditch match grew nearer, there were more and more duels in the corridors. These usually resulted in various players having to go to the Hospital Wing. Luckily, no one had been severely injured yet. However, both Houses were starting to be very protective of their players. Samantha Meyers forbade anyone on the Gryffindor team from wandering the corridors alone. She was also getting more and more intense with her practice schedules. Samantha had started scheduling a practice for every night of the week. Every evening, the Gryffindor team came trooping back into the common room well after dark, looking tired and worn out. Slytherin was also practicing each day, but they got an earlier time in the evening.
Nightly Quidditch practices did not bode well for James's Occlumency lessons. He had asked Hermione if he could skip the lessons until after the match, but she would not allow it. James grudgingly skipped his Quidditch practice, much to Samantha's dismay. She was not happy about James missing practice. Hermione actually sent her a letter, which got her to stop badgering James about practice.
Albus thought he was making a bit of progress with his Occlumency. He had been reading the book and doing the homework, although he did not enjoy it. Occlumency was like having another class to take, so he wound up with more homework than the rest of his classmates. Albus had not yet succeeded in preventing Hermione from entering his mind, but he usually managed to force her out after a little while. He was relieved that he had so far prevented her from discovering his Hallows research. Despite this, he was still having strange nightmares a couple of nights a week. James was not making nearly as much progress as Albus. He had yet to stop Hermione's Legilimency at all, and was still collapsing on the floor occasionally. James was getting increasingly fed up with Occlumency and did not enjoy the lessons at all.
As the Quidditch match, and the full moon, grew closer, Albus started to watch Matt for signs of illness. The day before the match, Matt almost slept through breakfast. John had to wake him up before he left for the Great Hall. Albus watched him throughout DADA and noticed that he was much more tired than usual. He kept his head on the desk the entire class and didn't take any notes. Harry did not say anything about this, which Albus thought was strange because whenever anyone else fell asleep in other classes, the teacher woke them up. Albus couldn't remember a time when someone fell asleep in DADA, though, because usually that class was exciting.
"Are you ok?" Albus asked Matt as they were walking to Charms.
"Fine," Matt responded. He was walking a bit slower than usual, "Just tired."
"Ok," Albus said warily, "But if you want to go to the Hospital Wing during Charms, I'll volunteer to take you."
"I will too," John agreed, "Anything to get out of that class."
The boys immediately stopped talking once they entered the Charms classroom and went to their usual back table. Once he sat down, Matt put his head down on top of his book. Washburn stormed into the room a few seconds later and started taking attendance.
"I'm lecturing today, take out your notes," he barked at the class. Everyone silently found quills and parchment as Washburn pointed his wand at the board. Notes appeared on it and Albus started copying them down. Washburn started talking and droned on for about half the period without stopping, even when students raised their hands to ask questions. Albus did not glance up to look at him at all. Once he finished copying his notes, he looked over at Matt and noticed that he had fallen asleep. Unfortunately, Washburn had noticed, too.
"Eckerton!" Washburn shouted while he walked towards the back table, "This is not nap time!"
"I don't think he's feeling well, sir," John said tentatively.
"I didn't ask how he's feeling!" Washburn growled at John. "Now wake up and pay attention!" he shouted again.
Matt slowly picked up his head and stared at Washburn, "Huh?"
"I said this is not nap time!" Washburn screamed.
"Oh, sorry," Matt mumbled. He stared down at his book and rested his head on his hand.
Washburn grumbled something incoherent and got back to his lecture. Matt kept his head up the rest of the class, but didn't take any notes. Although he did go to Astronomy after lunch, Matt did not seem to pay much attention in that class either. After class was over, he went up to the dormitory and slept straight through dinner.
"What other explanation could there be?" Rose wondered aloud in the common room that night. She, Albus, John, and Amanda were sitting around a table after dinner. The pre-Quidditch match excitement kept the chaos and noise in the common room up, so no one was paying much attention to what they were talking about.
"I don't think there is another one," Albus told her, "He's got to be a werewolf. He gets sick every full moon and leaves overnight. When he comes back he's still sick and he's got injuries."
"I'm sure he is one," John agreed, "Just hope he tells us soon, or I'm just going to have to tell him I know. It's gonna be hard to hide that we know."
"Think how hard it is for Matt? Hiding that from everyone," Albus reminded him.
"So, who thinks we'll win the match tomorrow?" Albus asked, changing the subject.
"I do!" John shouted, "With your cousin's new broom, we'll be unbeatable."
"Definitely," Amanda agreed, "I can't wait to see it in action."
"You've really gotten into Quidditch, haven't you?" Rose giggled.
"Sure have, it's so much better than football," Amanda told her.
The match was to be held in the early afternoon, which was a bit later than the previous Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff match. Albus and his friends spent the earlier part of the day playing Wizard's Chess and Exploding Snap in the common room. Matt seemed too tired to play anything, so he laid on one of the couches and watched the games. Albus noticed the Gryffindor team huddled in one corner of the room, reviewing last minute tactics. James looked a bit nervous, which was understandable considering the last match landed him in the Hospital Wing.
The morning dragged by, but eventually, everyone started to make their way down to the pitch after lunch.
"Should be a good game," Albus said to John as they were walking towards the pitch.
"Definitely. I've been looking forward to a Gryffindor vs. Slytherin game. I've heard they're the best ones," John told him.
"That's what I've heard, too. Dad says they were usually the most exciting ones in his days here," Albus informed John.
"Conditions couldn't be worse, though," John lamented. He was right. The weather was not cooperating for a game of Quidditch. Although the visibility seemed to be a bit better than Gryffindor's last match, the snow was falling at a steady rate and it was bitterly cold.
"Hopefully it won't last as long as last time," Rose pulled her cloak tighter, "I'm freezing."
"Me, too," Matt agreed. He was already shivering, and was a few paces behind everyone else.
Albus and the rest of the group slowed down to allow Matt to catch up with them. "Well, I just hope James doesn't get injured again," Albus said.
"Hope not," Amanda agreed.
The five first years made their way through the crowds and found their way to a few seats on Gryffindor's side of the stands. As they were walking slowly to match Matt's pace, they were some of the last people in the stands. They found their seats just before the commentary started.
"Welcome to the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match!" Todd Smith shouted over the crowd, "This is a highly anticipated match that should prove to be as exciting as always. The weather's brutal, but that shouldn't stop a well trained team.
"And here come the teams! First onto the pitch is the Gryffindor team. Captain Samantha Meyers, followed by Georgia Weasley, Fred Weasley, Heather Weasley, Bradley Weasley, Ryan O'Malley, and James Potter!"
The team flew around the pitch once and then landed next to each other on the ground.
"Here are the Slytherins. Captain Talan Flint, followed by Lance Goyle, Jackson Naiser, Ferris Fielding, Peyton Haines, Hailey Odele, and Glenna Dabney."
The Slytherins flew once around the pitch and landed in front of the Gryffindors. The referee, Alan Oteski, had the captains shake hands, and the teams were off.
"Professor Oteski releases the Quaffle, Bludgers, and Snitch, and the players are up! Quaffle goes to Fielding and he's flying towards the Gryffindor goal posts. Oh, nice Bludger work by O'Malley! Quaffle goes to Meyers, she flies down the pitch, passing to the two Weasley chasers. And Heather Weasley scores the first goal!"
The Gryffindor team scored three goals within the first five minutes. Slytherin had not managed to get any goals past Georgia.
"Of course, the exciting part of this game is Georgia Weasley's new broom. It's a Firebolt 3000. The fastest broom yet! It seems to be proving itself in this game. What with Georgia's incredible skill, and that broom, I'd be surprised if Slytherin scores any goals at all!" Todd shouted excitedly.
"She's amazing!" John exclaimed, "I want one of those brooms!"
"Me, too," Albus agreed, "I flew it over holiday. It was amazing."
"Wow! Think she'd let me ride it?" John asked.
"Maybe. If you come to my place over the summer, I'll ask her," Albus told him.
"Awesome!" John grinned.
"Another goal scored for Gryffindor! Making the score 40-0 in favor of Gryffindor! Fred Wealsey has the Quaffle, he's storming up the pitch, headed to the Slytherin goal posts. Ouch! Hit in the back with a Bludger sent from Naiser. Odele has the Quaffle now and is headed towards Georgia Weasley. She passes to Fielding, who attempts to score a goal. And saved! Wow, I didn't think a broom could move that fast," Todd was jumping up and down at the commentator's podium now.
"Flint does not look happy," Albus commented.
"No, he doesn't. Looks like he's ready to hex someone," John agreed.
"Wouldn't put it past him," Rose chimed in, "These matches are known to get ugly."
The game continued for a while, with Gryffindor scoring a few more goals. Slytherin did manage to get one goal after Flint sent a Bludger at Georgia right when Odele was attempting to score.
"Think this match will last much longer?" Matt asked.
"Dunno. Doesn't look like James or Dabney have seen the Snitch yet," Albus peered out at the field. "They're just hovering above everyone else. Looks like they're trying to stay out of it. I can see why. The Bludger work is getting nasty."
And it was. All the Gryffindor chasers were sporting some kind of injury. Georgia had a nose bleed, but seemed to be ignoring it. Odele and Haines both had taken Bludgers to arm and it seemed to have affected their ability to catch the Quaffle.
Albus looked over at Matt. He was sitting down, shivering, with his head resting on his hand. "You ok?"
"I guess. I just hope the match is done soon," Matt winced.
"Want to go back inside?" Albus asked.
"No, I'll be fine," Matt insisted.
"Another goal for Gryffindor! Making the match 110-10 Gryffindor!" Todd bellowed, "And the match is getting ugly. Ouch! Fred Weasley takes a Bludger to the head, causing him to drop the Quaffle. But it's caught by Meyers! She passes to Heather, who scores another goal!
"Flint appears to have abandoned the Bludgers and is soaring up towards Potter and Dabney. What's he up to? Meanwhile, Bradley Weasley hits a well aimed Bludger towards Fielding, who drops the Quaffle. Back to Flint. It appears that he is getting into an argument with Dabney. I wonder what they're saying? Hope it's important. Looks like his neglect of beater duties has caused his uninjured Chaser to get hit."
Flint turned his head around and flew straight towards Georgia. Odele was flying towards the goal posts with the Quaffle. "What's he doing now? He's grabbed hold of Georgia's broom! Foul! Flint has grabbed Georgia's broom and appears to be preventing her from keeping! Foul!" Todd screamed angrily. Odele took advantage of the situation and scored a goal.
Oteski blew his whistle, "Penalty shot for Gryffindor! Unnecessary grabbing of opposing keeper's broomstick. Honestly, you should know better! Such an obvious foul! And that goal does not count!"
"Gryffindor captain, Meyers, easily scores the penalty shot, bringing the score up to 130-10 Gryffindor," Todd announced, "Slytherin chaser, Fielding, manages to get the Quaffle and is flying towards the Gryffindor goal posts. Bradley Weasley sends a Bludger towards him and, ouch! He's knocked off his broom. Lucky for him, he was low to the ground. But looks like he's out for the rest of the game, probably broke his arm or something."
"This is amazing!" John exclaimed, "I've never seen Quidditch like this. I wonder if Slytherin's ever lost by this much before."
"I dunno," Albus responded, "But I don't think their Seeker's very good. All she's doing is following James around. And Flint was yelling at her for something."
"Probably telling her just to catch the Snitch so they can end the misery," John laughed.
"James better catch the Snitch soon," Matt groaned, "I don't think I can take much more of this." He was huddled on his seat, holding his stomach in pain.
"Sure you don't want to go in?" Albus asked.
"I dunno," Matt moaned, "Maybe."
"Looks like Potter's seen the Snitch!" Todd shouted. James had started speeding towards the Gryffindor goal posts, with Dabney following closely behind. "The Slytherin beaters seem to be trying to hit Potter with the Bludgers. But, hang on, the Gryffindor chasers and beaters seem to have surrounded Potter, protecting him from Naiser and Flint. Blimey! I've never seen anything like it! And it worked! Potter caught the Snitch!"
The crowd erupted into applause, Gryffindors storming the ground, lifting James up into the air. They started walking back to the castle. The Slytherin team was looking murderous and Flint was screaming at Dabney.
"Let's go," Rose said, looking at Matt.
"Oh, good," Matt moaned as he slowly stood up.
"You want to go to the Hospital Wing?" Albus asked.
"No, I don't think so," Matt said, leaning on John for support.
The five friends slowly made their way up to the castle. By the time they got there, everyone else had already made it back. It took them a while to climb the stairs to Gryffindor Tower, but eventually, they made it.
When they entered the common room, a party was already in full swing. Matt made a beeline for the dormitory and didn't look back.
"Albus!" James came running up to him, butterbeer in hand, "We did it! Beat Slytherin! They are pathetic. And here I was, thinking they actually had a good team. No way they're in the running for the Cup now. Blimey, losing 10 to 300..."
"You did great!" Albus grinned at him, "Dad would be very proud."
"Proud of what?" a voice came from behind them.
Albus turned around, "Dad?!"
"What are you doing here?" James asked.
"Came for the party. Blimey, things haven't changed a bit. The parties after we beat Slytherin were always best. Anyway, congratulations, James!"
"We're not being too loud, are we, Professor Potter?" Samantha Meyers had come over to see what was going on.
"No, 'course not!" Harry grinned, "Can't expect you to be quiet after that win. Just quiet down by midnight."
"Sure, no problem! It was amazing, wasn't it?" Samantha said excitedly.
"Oh, it was brilliant," Harry agreed. Harry and Samantha quickly settled down to rehashing every bit of the match, and were soon joined by Georgia.
"Never grow out of Quidditch, right?" James laughed.
"Right," Albus agreed, "Honestly, I thought it'd be a bit strange having him as our teacher, but it hasn't been weird at all."
"Yeah, it's been pretty neat."
The party in the Gryffindor common room lasted well into the evening. Most of the Gryffindors did not even go down for dinner. Albus's cousins had managed to bring a good bit of food up to the common room, so there was really no need to go to the Great Hall. Harry left shortly before dinner, though, so he could join the rest of the staff for the meal.
"Honestly, I'll never get any work done with this noise," Rose sighed. She, Albus, John, and Amanda were sitting around one of the tables in the common room eating sweets. Rose was the only one trying to get any work done.
"Why bother? You've still got tomorrow," John commented, "Hey, I got your dad, Albus." John held up a Chocolate Frog card.
"I don't see why everybody's got to party so late into the evening," Rose said, "It wasn't that spectacular a win. Slytherin was dreadful."
"That's the point," John told her, "Slytherin's usually got a pretty good team. It's the principle of the thing. Gryffindor and Slytherin are huge rivals, and when we beat them, it's a reason to celebrate. Even if they're rubbish."
"Whatever," Rose put her fingers in her ears and continued to read.
"And their new Seeker's horrible," Albus said, "I bet she couldn't see the Snitch if it was right in front of her face."
"Yeah, she's no match for James," John agreed, "I've heard from some of the older students that he's as good as Ted Lupin was."
"Well, he should be," Albus laughed, "Teddy's been training him ever since James could get on a broom. I think they started when James was about five."
"But he's got it in his blood, too," Amanda chimed in, "I mean, Albus, your dad was the best Seeker Gryffindor's ever seen. And your Uncle Charlie was a great Seeker, too. Plus, your mum played for the Holyhead Harpies."
"Yup," Albus grinned, "Quidditch is a high priority in my family."
"Guess Rose just didn't get any of those Quidditch genes," John poked Rose and she jumped.
"Shut it, John," Rose told him, "Where's Matt?"
"Still sleeping," Albus said, glancing at the door to the dormitories, "Been there ever since the end of the match."
"Well, why don't you go check on him?" Rose suggested.
"All right," Albus got up from his chair and walked to the dormitory. When he got there, he saw that Matt was sound asleep in his bed.
"Matt!" Albus whispered, "Hey, Matt! Get up!" Albus lifted Matt's arm up and it fell limply back onto the mattress when he let go. "Wake up!" Albus shouted a little louder.
"Huh? Wha'?" Matt groggily lifted his head and grimaced.
"You all right?" Albus asked with a look of concern on his face.
"Ugh," Matt groaned and sat up. "What time is it?"
"Almost six," Albus told him.
"Ohh," Matt slowly got up off the bed and swayed, "I've got to go to the Hospital Wing."
"Well, I'll take you," Albus grabbed Matt's arm so he wouldn't fall.
"No, I'll be fine," Matt said.
"No, I'm taking you," Albus insisted. Matt did not protest any further and leaned on Albus for support. They made their way down into the common room, where the party was still in full swing. Albus led Matt straight out of portrait hole and into the corridor towards the Hospital Wing.
"C'mon, we're almost there," Albus said as they walked down a flight of stairs.
"I think I'm going to be sick," Matt groaned and clutched his stomach.
"It's ok, we'll be there soon," Albus winced under Matt's weight. Matt was leaning on Albus more and more by the minute, "Madam Pomfrey will fix it."
"No she won't. She can't," Matt's voice wavered as he talked.
"Here we are," Albus opened the door to the Hospital Wing and led Matt inside. Madam Pomfrey was waiting and rushed over to Albus and Matt.
"It's ok, dear, come on," she pulled Matt away from Albus and let him lean on her, "I'll take it from here, Albus. You'd best go back to your common room."
Albus turned to leave, but not before seeing Madam Pomfrey soothing Matt, who had started to cry. Albus shut the door, wishing he could do something to help. Matt seemed to be doing worse this month than he had the past months. He hadn't seemed any different during the past few days, but maybe he was just good at hiding his emotions. Albus had forgotten to focus on figuring out what Matt was feeling in the days leading up to the full moon due to being preoccupied with homework and Occlumency lessons. Why did this month seem worse? What was going on?
Albus pondered these thoughts as he walked slowly back to the common room. How could he convince Matt that it would be safe to tell Albus his secret? Would he ever tell? And more importantly, was there anything anyone could do to help?
"Something troubling you, Potty?" a cold voice said. Albus looked up and saw Quinton Willinson, flanked by two other Slytherns, standing at the top of the stairs that Albus was climbing. "Fancy a stroll by yourself?"
"Go away, Willinson," Albus growled as he reached the top of the stairs.
"It's a free castle. Not curfew yet. I'm free to wander the corridors just as you are, Potty," Willinson sneered at Albus.
"Just leave me alone," Albus tried to walk past him, but the other two Slytherins blocked his path.
"No, don't think I will. I still haven't forgotten that Exploding Eclair," Willinson said, drawing his wand and pointing it at Albus, "I know it was you."
"How?" Albus asked nervously as he drew his own wand and pointed it at Willinson.
"I just do," Willinson snapped his fingers and his cronies pulled out their wands and pointed them at Albus, "And now you'll pay."
"Expelliarmus!" Albus shouted, and Willinson's wand flew out of his hand and landed on the floor. A split second later, two jets of light came from the other two Slytherins's wands and hit Albus in the chest. Before he knew what was happening, he stumbled backwards and fell down the stairs. He blacked out halfway down, and the last thing he saw was Willinson and his two friends running in the opposite direction.
A/N: Sorry for the cliffie! Well, not really, I do like putting them in. Originally, this chapter did not have a cliffie, but it was quite short so I stuck about half the next chapter at the end of this one. So now it's a bit longer than usual.
Thanks as usual to my sister and now official beta, Dancer_Of_Starlight. Thanks as well to my brother and my other sister. Please read and review!
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