Disclaimer: I own nothing, the characters are J.K. Rowling's.

Twelve Bludger Quidditch

By Marz

            I just didn't want it in my head any more. It was crushing everything. The way I reason my actions out is this: either I'll be so focused on the game that I'll force  Voldemort and Dumbledore and their problems and their lackeys and their war out of my mind, or a bludger would do it all for me, through decapitation.

            I drag the last trunk onto the dark, empty field. The marauders map is in my back pocket, in case Ron or Hermione decide they want to know where I am. The full moon shines down on me and I think of the werewolf, tearing itself apart in the Shrieking shack. Alone, and that's my fault as well. My stomach rolls over and clenches.

"Alohomora!"

As my command echoes across the empty pitch the six trunks burst open.  Twelve bludgers and six snitches fly out. I put my wand in my shirt pocket, with the bits of broken mirror and pick up a beater's bat. I stand before my Firebolt. It will destroy what's left of me if this object is in anyway damaged tonight, but I say 'up' anyway and with stoic obedience the broom floats to my hand. A bludger slams the ground by my foot and muddy sod splatters my clothes, Dudley's old clothes. It rockets away a second later.

I plant my feet on either side of the broom. Glancing at the grass, I laugh at my obscene shadow. I wonder if any other wizards ever think that it looks like we're grabbing our…anyway. I kick off the ground. Rushing wind combs my hair and dries out my eyeballs. They feel gritty now, like the granite walls of the castle. They're better this way. The bludgers notice me.

They seem a lot smarter as a swarm then they do as a pair, rushing up the field in a grid formation. Twelve cannon balls.  If I don't move quick I'll most likely die.  My chest constricts and my heart freezes. It takes a few of my remaining seconds to realize I'm afraid.

I dive. The bottom four bludgers dive with me, the rest fly over, trying to circle and pin me in. I swerve to a void one dropping in from above and throw myself right as another comes in from behind. I see one of the snitches and race for it. The bludgers rain down; cutting through my path, circling, and rebounding. I slam one with the bat so it won't knick the Firebolt. I barrel roll and twist upwards, snatching the golden ball from the air. I stuff it in my shirt pocket and it beats against my heart.

The bludgers catch up to me, angered maybe by my first success. One flies at the back of my head. I don't see it so much as feel it coming. I flatten out on my broom and it shots over. I lift my face from the broom just in time to see it strike another and rebound straight back at my face. I roll and it just ruffles my hair, grazes my ear. It makes me wonder what I'd look like with no teeth.

A flock of snitches flashes on the opposite side of the field and I head for them. The bludgers aren't near as fast as a fire bolt and I leave the swarm behind. I snatch up two more before they catch up. They go in my pocket too. My heart is beating faster though. The adrenaline makes my hands shake. The bludgers form a guard around the three remaining snitches. I'll have to dart between the angry things to get at them. Do they think the snitch is their baby? There's always a pair of bludgers and one tiny snitch in a kit. I push the thought of parents from my mind too, and charge.

My fingers brush a set of tiny fluttering wings, but there is pain in my hip as a bludger pounds me off course and another one strikes my hand. I tumble uncontrolled.

Voldemort victorious, Boy-Who-Lived killed in bizarre sporting accident. That would make a great head line, or maybe they'd think I committed suicide. Would that upset Voldemort, if I beat him to it? Maybe he'd laugh.

I right myself just in time to avoid a bludger double team. They strike each other with a resounding clang and I race them back to the flock. This time I don't avoid them. We're all going at the same speed so I just give them a few whacks with the bat. I snatch the fourth snitch. My whole shirt seems alive with them now.

My vision goes white for a second, my skull rings. I pull up and away, dizzy. It didn't hurt at all but there is blood running in my scalp. I dart at them again, rolling, swerving, twisting so fast I nearly loose my grip on the broom. There they are.

They shoot off in opposite directions, but I drop the bat and stretch. My back pops, but both hands close around a snitch.  I lean back on my broom and limbo under another line of bludgers taking their last shot. The snitches join their friends in my pocket. I'm surprised the seams haven't split.

I land and put them away, one in each trunk. I grab up a bat. It takes a half hour but all twelve bludgers are put away as well. I drag the trunks back to their respective locker rooms, and the two game sets go back to Madame Hooch's office. It's just short of dawn as I return to the pitch, to fly one last circuit.

I won't play again. In the light this place burns and twists worse then the class rooms and the dorms and the starring eyes in the halls. I was all on my own a hero here. Not of anything important and not for a good reason at all, but because people love to shout and win and watch a good show; stupid and pointless and counter productive. It made me ridiculously happy.

I pass the place where Snape sat saving my life and Quirrell trying to end it, where Hagrid and Ron and Hermione cheered, where Sirius stood as a dog and where the Dementors rushed in, where Ron guarded the goal posts and Luna wore her stupid hat, and the place where I was struck dumb by the sight of Cho, where Cedric last flew and ran the maze, and where I left his corpse. The dragons and cheering and cursing and competition and teams, it was all burning my insides and crushing my lungs worse then the guilt.

I land and walk toward the gate. Someone is there in the shadows. If it's Snape I'm going to walk by him shaking my head like a dog, flinging blood and sweat all over his sneering face. If it's McGonagall I'll just shrug and let her rant and deduct house points. If it's Dumbledore I'll stare blankly. If it's a death eater I'll die. Its more effort then its worth pulling my wand out. All those ifs for nothing.

Ex-Professor Lupin is leaning there, looking more then half dead. I throw Dudley's tent like sweat shirt around shoulders. It reeks with B.O., and it will stain his robes but he's bleeding on them any way. I grab his elbow and help him limp across to the hospital wing. He looks like he wants to say some thing. I'm glad he doesn't. Maybe he can't.  I push open the door and settle him on a bed. Madam Pomfrey comes rushing out muttering and scolding. She tries to make me stay. Apparently I'm a bloody mess. But I take off, literally.

"You'll only make it worse." She calls after me.

The paintings shout at me to slow down. "No flying in the halls" one cries. The school blurs around me and I let go of the handle of my broom. I don't feel the window, but as I fall I see shards of sparkling glass raining down around me. I think he is laughing at me. I know I am.