Chapter 27 : Living and Dying
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“…that is to say, if we attack using the Hawkshead formation, their chasers will have to be chased away by our beaters, and their beaters , heck, their beaters will be free to attack our chasers, so our beaters will attack their beaters and their chasers will then, heck, their chasers will undo our Hawkshead formation, so lets do this, one beater will concentrate on their beaters and one beater will concentrate on their chasers. So Crabbe and Goyle, this match rests on your shoulders, and obviously your beating abilities. Ultimately, this match will be about whether one beater can take on two beaters or three chasers or not. And Treherne, keep your eyes open while you keep, although if Crabbe and Goyle do their job there won’t be much for you to do.”
There was absolute silence in the changing room following this speech as six players, decked in full Quidditch gear bearing the Slytherin emblem, stared at their captain in horror mixed with incredulity. Peter Vaisey stared at each of his players in turn, as if ascertaining that all of them had got it right. He glared at Andreas Treherne, a burly fifth year who was a new addition to the team as keeper and was prone to spacing out when Vaisey launched into one of his frequent speeches outlining team strategy. Seemingly satisfied, he picked up his broom and walked towards the door where he turned with studied nonchalance and said off-handedly, “And Draco’s going to seek, of course.” And then a bit more feelingly added, “Lets knock the pants off those bloody Puffs, boys! Game time!”
As the team followed him morosely, Spacey, a chaser on the team, leaned closer to Draco and said in an undertone, “All that crap translated means, find that snitch fast or we are facing unending detentions from Snape.”
Draco merely swallowed.
Draco squinted down at the game beneath him and refrained from hitting himself on the head with difficulty. The game was a sacrilege in the name of Quidditch, and nothing like it had ever been attempted on a broomstick with flying balls. All the six chasers seemed to be playing catch with the quaffle, while all four beaters were flying around them menacingly in circles, sending bludgers at each other and preventing the chasers from escaping. Or, more accurately, Crabbe and Goyle were sending bludgers at the other two beaters and forcing them to retaliate. Madam Hooch was hovering above the fiasco, unsure of what to do as no rules were being broken. Both the keepers seemed to be having a hard time trying to keep awake.
Well, the good thing was Crabbe and Goyle had listened to Vaisey and had managed to keep the Puffs from scoring. In fact, they had successfully kept both the teams from scoring, Draco thought wryly, and the score after twenty minutes of play was zero-zero. You could say the teams were pretty evenly matched, and Draco rather thought that unless he or Smith caught the snitch, Crabbe and Goyle could get the game going endlessly. With the same score. He tore his eyes from the imbecility below him and tried to shut his ears to the sound of what sounded like the whole school booing, including the commentator.
“…and this match seems all set to go down in the history as the most boring game ever played in Hogwarts. Wonder if they’ll revise Hogwarts:A History just to mention this match! The score is still 0-0, and will probably remain so tomorrow the same time, so feel free to do whatever you think is more interesting or more important, and that could include, well, everything. Every player is still doing what he was doing ten minutes ago, though I feel the keepers are a bit more drowsy now than they were before, and the…”
Draco shook his head to drown out the insulting commentary and biting voice of Alphard Gatherwood, a fifth year Ravenclaw who Draco wanted to hand a detention to once he got down from his broom, as now he had started going after individual players, starting with him. The worst part was even the stuck-up McGonagall wasn’t stopping him from droning on. He tried to focus on finding the snitch, till he heard a random shout claiming the Slytherin team had been contaminated by muggleborn germs. Draco felt a sudden chill grip him; the comment targeted him, and could only have come from a Slytherin.
Trying to concentrate on finding the snitch when even your own House seemed to be jeering you was something Draco had never experienced before and it disconcerted him more than he had thought possible. He had never been unpopular in his little over seventeen years, not even when his father had been arrested. No matter what others had thought, his own House had stood solidly behind him, and after a while, the playboy image he had started sporting had done away with most of the negative feelings emanating from other Houses. At least from the girls; he knew most of the male population still didn’t like him, but that was more envy than outright hatred. At least he liked to think so, the Gryffindors being the only exception. But now his own House was jeering him at the pathetic display of their team, and Draco knew that if they lost this match he would be facing multiple hexing in the Slytherin dungeons from his housemates. There were some things that even the Malfoy name couldn’t protect him from, and an ignominious Quidditch defeat was one of them.
He resolutely shut his ears and threw a glance at Zacharias Smith, the Hufflepuff Seeker, and found him staring at Crabbe and Goyle in distaste. Draco took the opportunity for looking around for the snitch, but the elusive little thing was nowhere in sight. Almost immediately, Smith too gave up watching the mockery below and started tailing Draco.
The crowd was getting more and more restless in the sheer absence of any action, and name-calling had ensued. Harry, seated between Ron and Hermione, distinctly heard several Gryffindors going over the lineage of the Slytherins, particularly Draco’s, and felt a little pity for the boy. It was hardly his fault, and yet the general impression was that Draco was the de facto captain and everything was directly his fault, including the poor showing of both the teams and the incongruous reality of a boring Quidditch match. Beside him Hermione was staring at the green speck in the sky that was Malfoy and biting her lip anxiously. She had never shown much emotion for the game unless Gryffindor were playing, and her betraying her anxiety was both puzzling and worrisome. Harry studied her covertly for a minute, then turned his attention to the other side of him, where Ron was in the midst of an enthusiastic argument that could barely be heard above the boos from the crowd. The whole of Gryffindor house was bedecked in yellow today to show their support for the Hufflepuff team, all except Hermione and Sia. Hermione had refused to sport the colours of another house claiming it compromised her neutrality as the head girl, which had angered Ron. They had had a bit of an altercation and that’s how he, Harry, had ended up sitting between them. Sia’s reason was much more simple; she said she didn’t like yellow. It would’ve been fine but five minutes into the match, she had taken out muggle sunglasses to shield her eyes. They were green. Ron was sitting next to her. Hence the argument.
“…I told you, Ron, I didn’t charm them in this colour! They are designer glasses, for Merlin’s sake!”
“Then charm them yellow. Or even red.”
“Ronald Weasley! First of all, you do not tamper with designer stuff in any way, and secondly, do you have any idea how hideous yellow or red shades would look! Honestly!”
“Take them off, then! Its not that bright.”
“I will decide how bright or otherwise it is for my eyes, thank you very much!”
“But they are green!”
“Congratulations! You are not colour-blind!”
“You are sounding like Malfoy!”
“You are behaving like a child!”
“Green is for Slytherin! Change them!”
“Harry’s eyes are green too, would you ask him to change them?”
Harry groaned inwardly, not wanting to be dragged into the argument. He didn’t care personally what colour of sunglasses Sia chose to sport, but had a sneaky suspicion she had chosen green deliberately, and it was not to rile Ron. Thankfully Ginny was sitting some distance away with her fellow sixth years, or it would’ve been a war already. All over a pair of sunglasses! He stole a quick glance at them to find Dean and Seamus leaning forward eagerly from the other side of Sia, enjoying the argument.
“Why did you have to wear green sunglasses today?” Ron shouted above noise of the crowd.
“Because they match my earrings!” Sia scowled at him.
“What earrings? Show me!” Ron demanded, and Sia lifted her hair from the sides of her face angrily. A pair of stunning emerald studs mocked him, and Ron turned a deeper shade of red than he already was.
“Why did you have to wear those particular earrings today?” he asked belligerently, convinced at last that Sia was supporting the Slytherin team and the glasses were no coincidence.
“Because they match my knickers!” Sia replied waspishly to shut him up, and indeed, Ron’s face went purple and he opened and closed his mouth a few times, speechless.
“What knickers? Show me!” Seamus demanded from behind her and Harry heard him and Dean roaring in laughter.
“Shut up!” Sia shouted at them, and they retreated a bit into their own seats to snigger behind their hands.
“You are supporting the Slytherin team!” Ron shouted at Sia accusingly, his voice nearly drowned by a fresh wave of hisses and boos as Zacharias Smith flew over them.
“Yes!” Sia shouted back, relieved he had got the point.
“Why?” Ron actually sounded hurt.
“Because I’ve spent the last two weeks preparing for that bet, and I will not let my hard work go to waste. Draco Malfoy will catch that snitch today, even if I have to hex the bloody thing to fly into his hand!” Sia thundered.
“Snitches cannot be hexed!” Harry put in, forgetting his resolve not to get involved.
“But Dobby hexed that bludger in our second year! So how come snitches can’t be hexed?” Ron wondered, forgetting about the argument momentarily as this new train of thought distracted him.
“Because the process of making snitches differs greatly from the process of making bludgers and quaffles”, Hermione stated from the other side of Harry, her nose in air, and they all turned to look at her. “Bludgers and Quaffles are made of leather, magically sewn together and charmed to behave in a certain way. Specially the bludgers. They are also fortified by protection spells so they cannot be hexed, at least not by a wizard. Naturally, the makers never took elf magic into consideration, prejudiced as all wizards are against the elves and their magical abilities…”
“Yes, yes, we know all that!” Ron stated hurriedly, and then turned back to Sia. “But shouldn’t we try to win the bet we placed?”
Hermione huffed and turned away, and everyone let out a breath they had been holding; Hermione’s lectures on elf rights and SPEW were getting fiercer every day.
Sia opened her mouth to answer him when they heard the sound of Madam Hooch’s shrill whistle, followed by thunderous applause from the green stands.
“What? Its over?” Harry and Ron both shouted in dismay.
“Who won?” Sia demanded anxiously.
“Draco got the snitch” Hermione supplied stiffly, and everyone was too caught up to notice her slip of tongue.
“Really?” Sia beamed.
“I can’t believe it! The only piece of action in the entire match and we missed it!” Dean complained bitterly.
“Serves you right for eavesdropping on other people’s conversations!” Sia glared at him.
"If you wanted to have private chit-chats you'd find a place thats not the middle of the quidditch pitch to have them" Seamus defended his honour and dubious actions.
"That hardly absolves you! You were still eavesdropping and this is not the middle of the bloody quiddi..." Sia poked her finger into Seamus' chest menacingly but was cut off by Ron's lament.
“But he’s right! We missed the only piece of action in the entire bloody game!” Ron said morosely.
“Who cares?" Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, who cares?" Sia seconded her. "So long as its Malfoy who got the snitch its fine. Watching or not watching is immaterial” she stated carelessly and four pairs of male eyes stared at her incredulously.
“What?” she asked, finding them staring at her.
“Nothing” Hermione said disdainfully as she took her arm to lead her away. “Boys and their brooms!”
The four boys overheard her and their eyes widened. Then three of them turned to glare at Ron.
“What? She doesn’t know what she is saying, honest!”
“Ron, did you…?” Harry began menacingly and Ron blanched.
“No, Harry, I didn’t! Honest!”
He stared at Harry somewhat pleadingly to believe him.
"Its the bloody truth! You know her, she wouldn't let me..."
Behind him, Dean and Seamus started laughing.
"But you tried, nonetheless! I can't believe..."
"So you want to tell me what you have so far tried with Ginny?" Ron got on the offensive quickly.
"WHAT? How..." Harry was flabbergasted.
"O boy! This is so much better than the match" Dean gasped out between the fits of laughter shaking him like rattle in a toddler's hand.
The girls had, thankfully, long gone.
Draco stared at the tiny golden ball clutched in his hand; its silver wings flapping uselessly against his grip, and felt a wave of enormous relief and euphoria wash over him. He had done it. By Salazar, he had done it! He had never doubted his own talent at seeking, especially against Smith, but anything was possible in a game. And the way things were going, he had half-dreaded the outcome. No longer! He waved his arm holding the snitch imperiously, and the green-clad stands erupted once again. Draco felt pure pleasure slide down his spine at the sight and sound. He had won, not because of his team, but inspite of it, with the final score at 150-0. This victory was his, only his. But of course, he would share the spoils.
He angled his broomstick downwards and entered a speedy dive to join his teammates on the ground. As soon as he landed, they were all over him. Crabbe and Goyle lumbered over to him and gave him awkward one-armed hugs. Spacey, Cratz and Treherne came up and hoisted him over their shoulders. Then Vaisey came and clapped his back lightly. Blaise came over next, smiling delightedly and reminding him of the kid he had befriended many years back. As soon as the boys put him down, Blaise enfolded him in a hug and inspite of acute embarrassment at his display, Draco smiled.
“Congratulations, Draco. You did well today” Snape’s quiet tones reached them inspite of the commotion around and Blaise let go of him. Draco smiled and nodded at his favourite professor. Just then, Pansy came screeching with joy from the crowd, and Draco’s heart lifted at seeing her so happy for him. “Come see me at my room when your…celebrations…are over” Snape told him silkily, his eyes drifting to Pansy momentarily and Draco grinned.
“Yes sir” he replied, his blood singing with pleasure.
And then, Pansy was upon him and Draco had swept her up in his arms, kissing her forcefully, demanding his victor’s kiss arrogantly. He was never the one for public displays of affection, but the adrenaline from the match was still in his blood and it fueled the flames of his desire. Draco felt a heady sense of pleasure as he snogged Pansy senseless, unsure and uncaring whether it was from his victory or from the kiss or a mix of both. They stayed glued together at the mouth for quite sometime, bodies wrapped around each other till there were whistles and catcalls of ‘Hey, get a room!’ Draco broke the kiss and looked down at Pansy, his eyes dancing with elation still and her eyes wild with desire.
“Tell you what! I think its time I gave you a tour of the Heads dorms. Interested?” he asked her impishly, his devilish smirk dancing on his face and Pansy nodded enthusiastically.
He laughed and flung his left arm around her, leading her to what he knew would be a very pleasurable hour or two. Even more, if the blood pumping at the furious rate within him was any indication. As he turned, his eyes came to rest on Hermione, who had come to wish him after his win and was now standing slightly thunderstruck at his very out-of-character exuberance and blatant disregard for rules, which was normal for him.
“Hey, head girl!” he called out to her, still high on ecstasy, “remember our little bet? Party tomorrow night; I’m giving you a day for preparations!” Pansy giggled beside him, and for once he didn’t mind and led her away. His life had been going downhill for quite sometime and he felt he had more than earned a good, carefree shag. As they passed, they didn’t notice a tall girl hidden in the crowd who had witnessed the entire exchange.
Sia felt blind rage coursing through her. All the logical things, that Draco was merely her friend, that she had only wanted his friendship and nothing else, that this was her choice, that Pansy was his girlfriend, that he was not doing anything wrong, all this was lost on her. She just wanted to make him feel bad, and by Godric’s sword, she would. She had gone against her house to support him today, fought Ron, spent a fortnight preparing for his victory party, all in good faith, but now…she would make sure he had a victory party he would never forget. Nobody flirted with Sia Raisingh and then ignored her for another girl. Nobody. Draco Malfoy was going down.
A/N: Now wasn’t this fast? I had a very strong complaint last time about my tardiness, and did reply to it in the review. Just to smooth some ruffled feathers, I’m posting this chapter immediately. You might notice its quite shorter than my normal chapter length; that’s because its only half-done. I had thought of keeping the match and the party in one, but now I’m splitting it so I don’t get accused of deliberately trying to lose my readers. I had such fun writing it and now I’m in such a bad mood while posting it. Anyways, please R&R.
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