Top ten ideas to make Quidditch more entertaining.
10. Make the players wear fancy dress.
9. Insist that every team needs at least one teacher to play.
8. Blindfold the seekers.
7. Replace the Beaters’ clubs with rubber chickens.
6. Introduce a “Tag-you’re-it” system for the Chasers.
5. Make broom tricks required.
4. Give extra points to the most entertaining broom tricks.
3. Have riders double-up on the brooms.
2. Make the Keepers ride Hippogriffs.
1. Ban Sirius Black.
I dragged myself out of bed the next morning with all the enthusiasm of a woman on death’s row. I realize that that might sound a tad extreme, but an entire Quidditch match did sound like a death sentence, and my prison warden was the most chipper girl in Gryffindor.
“Are you ready to watch the greatest game in the world?” I was surprised my skin didn’t begin to tan from Lily’s beaming face. She had obviously chosen her outfit with the day’s activities in mind; her jeans were normal enough, but she was wearing a bright red jumper, covered with a crimson corduroy jacket, and wrapped around her neck was a crimson and gold Gryffindor House scarf. And now she was eyeing my much more sensible attire (jeans, black knitted jumper and a white winter coat) in disdain. “You couldn’t try for even the tiniest bit of House pride?”
“Oh, c’mon Lily,” I scoffed. “The result of the game isn’t going to hinge on the colour of my clothing. Besides, it’s the weekend – I don’t want to wear my bloody uniform all the time!”
“It’s not part of the uniform,” she responded briskly, pulling her scarf from her neck and swinging it tightly around my shoulders. “If you’re going to sit with me, you’ll have to wear something red. It’s a matter of principle, Eryin.”
I tried vainly to yank the scarf that was now choking me, but she’d obviously tied some knots in it. “I really can’t take this; I mean, what will you wear?” I glanced again at her Rudolf-red clothing, and realized I hadn’t presented the best defence; and then I groaned as she pulled a large red-and-gold hat out of her bag with a flourish.
Placing it on her head, she gave me a large smile and proceeded to grab my arm and tow me out of the castle. My stomach complained about the lack of breakfast, but Lily kept insisting that we get down to the stands early to get the best seats. I was surprised with the amount of students who appeared to have the same idea – the seats were already half-full by the time we arrived.
Lily spotted Potter and the team off to one side, and dashed off for a good-luck kiss, leaving me to pick my way to a decent spot. I found a couple of empty seats near the middle of the Gryffindor stand; as I sat, Sarah Macdonald plunked herself down next to me on the seat opposite to the one I’d saved for Lily. A fellow Gryffindor in my year, Sarah was known for being friendly – sometimes a bit too friendly with some of the boys, but I’d never held that against her.
“Hi Eryin! Do you mind terribly if I sit here? I was meant to be watching the match with a couple of Ravenclaw boys, but one of the teachers recommended I sit with my own House – how silly is that? I mean, so much for making strong inter-House ties.” I tried to agree as she paused to take a breath, but she started talking again so quickly, I didn’t really have a chance. “I’m so excited for this – the first match of the year is always a little boring, but the players are so strong and handsome, I could watch them forever!”
Her sentence had ended on a sigh, and it was the first time I actually saw someone become doe-eyed. To be honest, it wasn’t particularly attractive – I would have called it a combination of being cross-eyed and very surprised. She was also gazing vaguely towards the goal posts, which made her look a little dazed. I resisted the urge to snap my fingers in front of her face.
It took her a few moments to take notice of me again, but when she did, she looked at me in surprise. “Now that I think of it, you don’t normally come to watch the games, do you? I thought you weren’t keen on Quidditch.”
I hesitated for a second – I really didn’t need another horrified gasp. “Err, yeah, I suppose I’m not the biggest team-sports fan...”
Sarah completely surprised me: “Yeah, me neither. It’s kind of boring, right? But the boys are fine and sometimes the winning team does its victory lap topless!” The excitement on her face was overwhelming. Jeez, if you want to see the boys naked, walk in on them in the shower. They’d probably even appreciate it more.
She leaned towards me conspiratorially, and lowered her voice to just above a whisper. “Besides, I like to keep an eye on James Potter – that boy is beyond hot, and he has amazing talent with a broomstick.”
Besides the slightly homoerotic imagery that accompanied that statement, I was shocked for a much more obvious reason. “Sarah, you do realize that Potter is dating Lily now, right?”
The derision that accompanied her snort of laughter made my hand inch towards my wand pocket. “Lily? Please, she wasn’t interested in James until it was announced he was Head Boy AND Quidditch captain. That girl is clinging onto his popularity, not his personality, and he’ll see it soon enough, even if I have to guide him to that conclusion myself. Lily’s just a stuck-up know-it-all, playing games with James’ affection.”
“Wow, Sarah, that’s really not how things are –”
A slight scuffle of shoes on wood made both our heads turn. Lily was standing behind us, her expression nothing but cool scorn. Sarah’s cheeks were suddenly a red to make Gryffindor proud, and she stood up abruptly.
“You know, I don’t think I’ll sit here, after all, Eryin. You obviously keep a different kind of company than what I prefer.” Although I could practically feel the heat coming from her face, Sarah’s voice was as cool as Lily’s expression. She turned her back to us and made her way to a different seat, albeit slightly faster than one would expect from a normal situation.
Lily sat down next to me, keeping her back straight and her eyes forward. I was surprised how calmly she was taking the words of that silly witch. If someone was that rude to my face, they’d quickly discover why people called me Eryin ‘She’ll-curse-your-cow-like-face-off’ Roberts. Okay, so no one had ever called me that, but I liked to believe some people thought it.
At least, I was surprised at her calm until I really looked at her face. She quickly darted her hand up to brush away a tear, but there were more forming.
“Aw, Lily, don’t listen to that idiot. She doesn’t know what she’s saying!” I put a supportive hand on Lily’s shoulder (or at least, I assume it was supportive – this whole caring-friend thing was new to me).
“She knows exactly what she’s saying, and so does everyone else who talks about that rubbish behind my back. Did you know that Jenny called me a trollop in Potions last week? I just stood there, thinking I must be dreaming, because me and Jenny were always such good mates.” Another tear fell and I started feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. Fake tears are bad, but real tears?
“Well, honestly Lily, if that’s the kind of things they’re saying, why bother listening? They’re all complete and utter dingleberries!” I said that with complete conviction, and Lily looked at me sideways.
“Err, Eryin? Do you know what a dingleberry is?” The combination of amusement and disgust apparent on her face was much better than the tears (which seemed to be drying up slightly).
“Nope; some of the lads call each other by it – I assume it’s poisonous or smells funny, or something?” I shrugged my shoulders; I wasn’t known for being clever with words, as I was much more of an action kind of girl. Insult me and expect to be hexed, people.
Lily scrunched up her nose in revulsion, and shook her head. “It’s probably just as well you don’t know what it is, because you really don’t want to.”
I immediately decided to look it up upon returning to the castle.
All of a sudden, Lily grabbed my arm and made a girlie squealing sound (she was like a revolving door; her emotions never stayed the same for long). She pointed above us, where the Gryffindor team was flying their formation lap around the pitch. Potter blew his girlfriend a kiss, which she returned with one of her own. Sirius sent me a wink, which I returned with a rather rude hand gesture.
After landing long enough to shake hands with the Hufflepuff team captain, a whistle sent both teams high in the air; the game was officially started, and I was already bored.
I spent the first ten minutes trying to follow Lily’s lecturing before giving up, nodding my head occasionally so I appeared to be concentrating on the game; in reality, I was trying to picture both teams naked. After a few minutes of this, I realized I was more likely to be violently ill than entertained by this plan, and while that might (MIGHT) have convinced Lily to let me go, it also might have turned my brain to mush.
I was perhaps too enthusiastic in my nodding-ploy, as I soon found myself nodding off completely. Lily must have given up on me, because the next I knew, I was jumping up in terror as she started screaming. I immediately reached for my wand, nestled in my pocket, but before I could get to it I was being suffocated by a Lily-bear-hug. I could finally make out some words in her shrieking.
“WE WON! WE WON! JAMES AND THE TEAM WOOOOON!” The screams became wordless again, and I was starting to feel somewhat sick from Lily swinging me around. I was always a slight girl, but I never thought those arms had enough strength to hurl me about with such ferocity.
I was of course pleased that our team had won, or as pleased as I ever was – this put us one step closer to winning the House Cup, but the excitement in the air was overwhelming; everyone was crying and hugging, and the roar was deafening. Maybe no one realized that this was just the first match of the season.
Lily let me go and said something I couldn’t hear over the crowd. When I cupped my ear, she pointed to the Gryffindor team, who had just landed in the middle of the pitch. She took me by the hand and started pulling me down the steps. I understood – she wanted a victory snog.
However, it seemed that someone else had got there first; as we managed to finally break through the crowds to reach where Potter was, we stepped into an awkward situation (or at least, it was awkward for me). Sarah Macdonald was standing on the tips of her toes, balancing herself with a hand on Potter’s arm, giving him a kiss – her mouth would have hit his if Potter hadn’t quickly turned his head away. Sarah made the best of the situation, though, and brushed her lips right across his cheek in a decidedly indecent manner. As she pulled away, she looked up at Potter through her eyelashes and said, “I was watching you out there, before. I've never seen you look so sexy.”
It was like a firecracker had gone off in a rather sensitive area of Lily’s body – one second she was standing there in shock, and the next she had pounced on Sarah’s back, screaming bloody murder. I tried to pull her off and got a fist to the eye for my bother. Potter was on the other side of the fight, horror widening his eyes; he tried to reason with Lily to no avail.
“I will deal with you in a minute, James bloody Potter!” With Sarah’s hair wrapped tightly around Lily’s closed fist, the furious redhead started dragging the other girl away. “First, I will deal with this cat-in-heat by dumping her in the Black Lake!”
Potter gave a low moan. Teachers were dotted among the crowds of celebrating students, and although they hadn’t noticed anything yet, it didn’t mean they wouldn’t eventually. “Lily, she was just congratulating me! Stop being so paranoid; we won the bloody game, didn’t we?”
That was the completely wrong tone of voice to take with Lily Evans in her current mood. Swift as an fox, she had her free hand clenching Potter’s ear, and she started dragging both caught students towards the lake, ignoring all complaints. I was amazed at her strength, although James didn’t seem to be willing to use any force on his girlfriend, and Sarah was concentrating wholly on keeping her hair attached to her head.
A low chuckle next to me made me glance away from the mad scene for a moment, before then making me pick up the pace in my pursuit. Black looped easily alongside me, and even had the nerve to swing his arm around my waist. I immediately shoved him away, although I didn’t take my eyes off of Lily – she was like a woman possessed. I wondered when the last time the Bloody Baron had been seen.
“So, how did you enjoy our amazing showcase of talent and skill, Roberts?” Black shot a grin in my direction. “Even you must admit that we were pretty incredible out there today, and unbelievably sexy, right?”
“Unbelievable boring, perhaps; I slept through most of the game. I mean, you’d be pretty fantastic as a hypnotist; five minutes watching you and I was out like a light.” I saw a flash of irritation cross Black’s face before the grin settled back.
“Ah, so you admit you were watching me!” His smirk was blinding; I may have growled under my breath at this point.
We arrived in time to see two huge tentacles rise out of the water, grab Lily and Sarah by their waists and haul them apart. The one holding Lily, who was kicking and screaming in fury, didn’t let go until Sarah had run at least a hundred yards towards the castle, and then plopped her back in the lake with a splash. Potter, who had been standing besides the lake dripping wet, was staring at Lily, aghast. When she turned her glare towards him, he quickly retreated behind Black.
I, of course, was now doubled over in laughter. Lily looked like a drowned rat, and was now hitting the water with her fists as if to take out the last of her anger. I was laughing so hard that I didn’t notice Black creeping up behind me until he put his hand on my back and shoved me head-over-heels into the water. As you can imagine, I was suddenly no longer amused.
Spitting out a mouthful of lake water, I looked up at a very satisfied Black. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“C’mon, Roberts,” Black said, raising an eyebrow at me. “You didn’t really think I’d hit my head and procured amnesia, did you? I haven’t forgotten about a certain plate of eggs ruining my robes, or a charm you cast on me in class yesterday. And you didn’t think I’d just let that go, did you, Roberts?”
I reached for my wand to wipe that arrogant smirk off Black’s face – and my hand came up empty. As panic started to rise, I noticed Black twirling awand between his fingers; a wand that definitely wasn’t his. Now I understood why he’d bothered putting his arm around my waist.
“Give me back my wand, you idiot!” I tried to haul myself out of the water but fell backwards from the weight of my water-logged clothing. “You can’t just steal someone’s wand!”
“I’m not stealing it, Roberts, I’m just borrowing it.” He nudged Potter, who was still peeking at Lily over his shoulder; they both mounted their brooms, and kicked off to hover a few meters above the ground. “You can of course have it back; I’ll just hold it in the common room. All you’ll have to do is ask really nicely, with a lot of please’s and thank-you’s.”
I lunged at the numb-skulled morons, but Black just laughed and sped off towards the castle. Potter hesitated a moment longer, looking at a defeated Lily now sitting in the lake, before disappearing after his friend without even a glance in my direction.
I waded my way over to Potter’s girlfriend, who looked so completely dejected that the edge of my anger blurred. I hauled her out of the water to sit on the grass, where we both leaned against each other for warmth.
“Do you think he’s cheating on me?”
I stared out at the lake, avoiding Lily’s stare. “I don’t know, Lily. I wouldn’t think so, but...”
“But he didn’t seem to mind Sarah’s attention, did he?” She sighed heavily, pulling herself up from the ground. “I think I’ll just head up to the castle; I might use the prefects’ bathroom to clean up, if you want to come? Besides, it always has spare clothing in there, and the house-elves can wash and dry ours.”
I joined Lily on her trek back to Hogwarts, but my mind was a million miles away. I should probably have felt more sympathy and more concern for the future of my friend’s relationship, but my thoughts were otherwise engaged with plans of revenge.
Sirius Black would be lucky to survive the fury of Eryin Roberts.
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