I was surprisingly dreaming peacefully after my insane night when I was jolted out of sleep. I jumped about a foot in the air my senses still on high alert adrenaline beginning to pump through my veins, only to see Angelina standing over me, hands on her hips dressed in her Quidditch robes. Then my mind went haywire as I realized just why she was there, the game. I swore quickly in Italian as I jumped out of bed and began digging through my trunk for my own scarlet and gold robes.
Still hunched over I asked Angelina, “How long until the game starts?”
She sighed as she said, “Half-an-hour.”
I swore again as I haphazardly pulled on my robes, then another thought came to me, “Angelina, who’s playing seeker? Isn’t Harry still in the hospital wing?”
She looked at me and said, “You are, now let’s get going, Wood wants to talk to you before the game.”
My mind went completely blank. Me playing seeker? I didn’t have much more time to freak out though as Angelina prodded me along quickly, just before we both ran out the door I ransacked my stash of snacks and pulled out a cliff bar and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. Running through the hallways and wolfing down my meager and rather unhealthy breakfast my mind started to worry. I hadn’t had any practice with the team as a seeker, oh Merlin I was going to screw this up.
We reached the pitch with just under ten minutes left until the game, and the moment I entered the locker room two things happened, the twins both gave me a thumbs up paired with a cocky grin and Wood grabbed my arm and pulled me aside.
“Okay Ashley I know you weren’t expecting this, and I know you are probably exhausted but I need you to go out there and be our seeker today. The circumstances aren’t great, but I know you can do this. You are the best option we have for a replacement seeker, and that is why I chose you. Now get your head in the game and make Gryffindor proud.”
I couldn’t help but be slightly confused at Oliver’s uncharistically useful speech, but a moment later I took his advice and began clearly my head of all but the game. Ravenclaw versus Gryffindor. I unlocked my locker and pulled out my ThunderSky, my mind running through strategies and tactics. My job today was to catch the snitch at all costs and that was what I was going to do. I tuned out the conversations and pep talks around me as I did a few simple stretches and centered myself. A few minutes later I was walking out onto the pitch with my team, minus Harry and plus Alicia Spinnet. I took my place on the ground my broom held loosely in my hand as Lee called out the players on both teams, just catching his remark about my sudden change in position.
The moment the whistle blew I was in the air, everything but the game completely cleared from my mind. I searched the pitch for a flash of gold, but I couldn’t spot it anywhere.
I ducked and spun into a barrel roll to avoid a bludger sent my way, before deciding to pull a few tricks. The moment I was right side up again I dove towards the ground, and just as I had hoped the Ravenclaw seeker fell for my trick. Inches from the ground I pulled up my knuckles grazing the grass as I heard a crash signaling the end of my opponent’s descendent. I smirked slightly as I returned to hover high above the field, watching as Madam Pomfrey rushed out to him, and he waved her off as he remounted his broom with blended look of pain and murder on his face. I spent the next twenty minutes or so avoiding bludgers and a vindictive seeker, but it wasn’t too much trouble I was quicker than them and a hell of a lot more agile. Even though they hadn’t landed a single hit yet I knew that I couldn’t do this forever. The score was tied neither team able to hold onto a lead, and I was tired from lack of sleep and so I decided to pull a crazy move from up my sleeve.
I shot down the pitch pulling to a dead stop right above the center of the pitch. Both teams looked at me like I was crazy as I just hovered there in the middle of all the action, but with a quick and unnoticed by all but one signal I let Oliver know just what I was doing. And if any of them had been watching the Gryffindor goalposts they would have seen the team captain grinning manically.
I waited patiently only moving out of the way of the Gryffindor players and purposefully getting in the way of every single Ravenclaw who flew by me. I held my position as an annoyance and a distraction allowing my team to pull ahead in scoring, and still keeping a watchful eye on the pitch for the flash of gold I needed. There were gasps all around as the Ravenclaw seeker pulled into a dive as their chasers headed down the pitch towards me. Confusion swept the stands and my own team members, as it appeared I was ignoring the snitch, but I wasn’t. I knew he was bluffing. And so as he continued his worthless gallivanting around the pitch I moved into the perfect position to allow Angelina to steal the Quaffle. The moment she shot off towards the goalposts I happened to glance over towards Lee Jordan and the professors seated behind him and I saw just what I had been looking for.
While the Ravenclaws were still trying to slip me up, I shot off towards the rather biased commentator and I saw his eyes, as well as the eyes of those seated behind him, go wide as I made a beeline straight for him. Not a moment earlier or later than needed I tilted my broom upwards rocketing past the heads of the spectators my hand reaching out for the golden ball they now saw. My fingers were about to close around it when I heard the tell-tale rush of a bludger behind me and ducked down to avoid a concussion, the father of the beater who sent it wasn’t so lucky though as it barreled into his stomach. Oh the irony. Making fast work of rotating and never losing sight of the snitch I chased it around the pitch, being pursued myself and having to dodge every over moment.
But at last I saw my opening; I zigzagged past the beaters pursuing me and continued my path towards our own goalposts. Oliver didn’t even see me coming as he prepared to stop a shot from one of the Ravenclaw seekers. As he fantastically stopped a shot to the center hoop, I zipped past him my body bent low over my broom just as it had been the first time I flew, and I flew through the left hoop my fingers closing around the struggling snitch.
A moment later I raised my hand high above my head, and Hooch blew the whistle signaling the end of the game as the red and gold portion of the stands went wild. Oliver about tackled me as he hugged me still high in the air, both of us nearly falling off our brooms.
All the players quickly made their way to the ground, the Ravenclaws already looking disinheartened but not murderous at their loss. Lee was still shouting the Gryffindor victory as both the Weasley twins picked me up and sat me on their shoulders as the team as a whole seemed to want to hug me endlessly.
Dumbledore walked out with Flitwick and a beaming McGonagall. Dumbledore smiled as he handed a teary eyed Wood the coveted Quidditch Cup, and Wood held it for just a moment before he pulled my broomstick out of my hands and pushed the Cup into them. I smiled down at him for a moment before lifting it high above my head to the cheers of my house. After a few more minutes I convinced Fred and George to let me down and as a team we handed the Cup to Professor McGonagall and she smiled brighter at all of us then any student could ever remember seeing.
We headed back to the locker rooms where a still tearful Oliver Wood gave us a speech, and after brooms were stored away, and much to my chagrin I was pulled back onto the shoulders of the Weasley twins as the team made our way to the party in Gryffindor tower.
The party was crazy and loud, but I soon found Neville who grinned at me. We found a somewhat quiet corner of the tower as he congratulated me on a game well played. And then as I had promised I told him everything that had happened, at least what I knew. We talked and celebrated for a long time with Gryffindor house, but eventually the last few days caught up with me. And so fighting it the whole way my eyelids drooped closed my head falling on my best friend’s shoulder as sleep overcame me.
A bit later Angelina and Katie helped my drowsy and sleep-deprived form up the dormitory steps, but all I would remember in the morning was the comfort of my closest friend’s shoulder.