Disclaimer: Characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.

Author's Notes: Many thanks to my fantastic beta bewarethesmirk.

This story contains SLASH so if you do not like it - or don't know what it is - then DO NOT READ. Thanks :o)

Pitch Battles

The day Marcus Flint broke Katie's nose was the day Oliver kissed him.

The Bludger flew through the air and smacked Katie in the face, sending her toppling back off her broom with a startled cry. She plummeted to the ground, arms flailing wildly.

In the stands below, teachers rallied, raising wands to cast multiple Cushioning Charms, so that when she was inches from the ground she slowed to a stop. She hovered for a few seconds before the charms released, and then dropped onto the grass in an ungainly heap.

She sat up, a hand covering her face as blood seeped through her fingers and dripped onto the red-gold front of her Gryffindor uniform.

Oliver Wood was the first to reach her. He jumped off his broom, leaving it lying where he had landed as he raced to her side. He tugged her hand away to check the extent of the damage; Katie's nose was already swelling and twisted unnaturally to the side. Flint had broken it.

"Leave off, it's nothing," Katie said although the words were muffled, and she shoved his questing fingers away. Satisfied the damage was only superficial, he complied.

A crowd was forming, and Oliver could hear Madam Pomfrey's voice ordering people to clear a path.

She appeared in a bustle of robes and efficiency. Casting a temporary healing charm to stem the blood flow, she forced a protesting Katie onto a stretcher and levitated her off towards the school.

Frowning after them, Oliver wiped his bloody fingers on his robes. The game wasn't over yet, but he wasn't sure if they'd let play continue after Katie's fall, and he felt a surge of irritation at the Slytherin captain.

He looked around for Madam Hooch, but he couldn't see her. There were far too many people on the pitch. He started to push though them, ignoring the questions being thrown in his direction by the other students.

It was then that he heard them.

There was a break in the crowd ahead of him and he could see most of the Slytherin team were clustered together, laughing loudly at whatever Marcus was saying. Oliver's eyes narrowed as he saw Marcus mime swinging a bat, and he strode forwards angrily, gripping the Slytherin's robes and swinging him around.

"What the-" Marcus started to protest, the startled look on his face switching to a smirk as he saw Oliver standing before him. "Hey, Wood, don't you teach your team how to duck?"

Oliver ignored him, instead saying angrily, "Where the hell do you get off pulling stunts like that? You're meant to be a bloody Chaser, not a Beater."

"What can I say?" Marcus grinned, flicking his eyebrows suggestively. "I'm willing to play in any position." The other Slytherins laughed.

"Aye, well, maybe if you stuck to just the one, you might actually be good at it."

The amusement vanished from Marcus's face and he stretched to his full height, sneering at Oliver. "You want to watch what you're saying, Wood. I don't see any of your little team-mates beside you."

"So? I'm not afraid of you." Oliver was so incensed that he was oblivious to the mounting tension, the Slytherins easing closer to their captain, the subtle shift of the surrounding crowd away from them: close enough to watch, but far enough that they wouldn't get caught in the middle of a scuffle. A blanket of silence had fallen.

The Slytherin took a step closer, crooked teeth baring as he faced Oliver, and Oliver glared back.

"'Scuse me."

"Coming through!"

"Make way for greatness!"

Cheerful voices rang out through the stillness, and Fred and George Weasley stumbled from the crowd, flanked Oliver and grinned at the threatening Slytherins.

"We miss anything?"

"'Cause we'd hate to have missed something important."

"Thought you'd all like to know…"

"…that the game's being restarted…"

"…just in case anyone was interested."

Fred slapped his hand on Oliver's shoulder. "C'mon, Captain, we've got a game to win."

Oliver tore his gaze from Marcus and blinked at them. "What?"

"The game..."

"…you know – Quidditch…"

"…what we've been playing." George clapped his hand on Oliver's other shoulder, and between the two of them, the twins steered Oliver around, away from the Slytherins.

"Here you go." Fred placed Oliver's discarded broom into his hand. "Might come in handy, you never know."

Oliver allowed himself to be dragged away, sense slowly returning the further he was from Marcus, and he scolded himself for his lack of professionalism. How had he allowed the Slytherin to get to him? It was an unforgivable lapse of concentration; they had – as Fred had pointed out – a game to win, and he couldn't allow some personal irritation to get in the way.

Ten minutes later, he'd forgotten the altercation, so intent on his flying that there was no room for anything else. They were a man – woman – down and if they had any chance at all of winning, they had to focus. Especially when the Slytherins were pulling every dirty tactic they could get away with.

Marcus had taken one of his Beater's bat so often that the Beater had relinquished it completely, settling instead on flanking his captain in a vain attempt to obscure him from Hooch's watchful eye.

And Oliver bore the brunt of the possession. A Bludger had slammed into him so many times he'd lost count, but he decided very quickly that if one of the Bludgers was being aimed solely at him, and he was the focus of their main Chaser, it left the rest of his team with an advantage. And they took it, racking up the points, slamming the Quaffle through the ring time and time again. The Slytherins were furious, but their captain didn't change his focus, and although physically aching, Oliver took every opportunity to shoot him smug little grins as he ducked away from the well-aimed Bludgers.

When Harry finally caught the Snitch, to the delight of the crowd, Oliver had never felt so relieved. He flew to the ground, carefully got off his broom, and limped over to the rest of his team to join in their jubilant celebrations. Much painful back-slapping later, he made his way off the pitch to the changing rooms, slinging an arm around Harry as the younger boy walked alongside him, feeling uncharacteristically loquacious.

"Good game, Harry. Well done."

Harry grinned, and Oliver could feel his shoulder hitch under his hand. "We'd have won, anyway," he said. "The way Flint was aiming for you all the time. Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," Oliver lied. He was going to be a mass of bruises the next day, and it was all the Slytherin's fault.

Harry pulled him to a stop, ducking free of his arm to look at him. "Your shoulder…I saw it hit you there, hard." He reached out to point at the injured area with his finger, as though Oliver didn't already know what he was talking about, and Oliver pushed his hand away, ruffling the younger boy's hair. Harry dodged his head away with a grin.

"Oh, now that's sweet," a voice mocked from the shadows, and Marcus Flint stepped out into the light.

"What are you on about?" Harry snapped, turning to glare at the older Slytherin, but Marcus's gaze was focused on Oliver. Oliver could feel colour rising to his cheeks as he met the Slytherin's challenging stare.

"You two love-birds," Marcus sneered. "I bet The Prophet would love a picture like that. Wonder how much they'd give me." Somewhere, in the pit of Oliver's belly, a fire was burning, and he clenched his gloved fists.

"Go away, Flint," he heard Harry say, the younger boy trying to make himself look as intimidating as possible. "Go play with Malfoy or something." The rest of the Gryffindor team had begun appearing from the pitch and slowly gathered behind Oliver and Harry, their cheerful chattering dying down as they realised something was amiss.

Marcus looked at Harry, teeth flashing. "Oh, come on, Potter. Don't you want the world to know you're only the Seeker 'cause you're shagging Wood?"

Oliver rarely lost his temper. In fact, away from the pitch, no-one ever heard him raise his voice; he didn't shout, fight, or engage in any activity that would in any way affect his Quidditch skills. There was no point bruising his knuckles if it meant he couldn't hold his broom properly to fly.

So, when his fist flew out and struck Marcus on the jaw, no-one could quite believe it, least of all Marcus.

"What the fu-" the Slytherin gasped, staggering a few steps back and rubbing at his chin. "What d'you do that for?"

The Gryffindors were stunned into immobility, staring at their captain as though they'd never seen him before. Waves of anger were pouring off him, and he directed it at Marcus as he spat out a reply. "'Cause you're a prick."

"I'm a prick? Like you can talk, you bag-pipe blowing wanker," Marcus retorted, dropping his hand. "Or is that Potter blowing wanker?"

Oliver shot forwards, grabbing the Slytherin's robes and hurling him against the back of the stands, fist drawing back to slam into his face again. Marcus tried to push him off, cursing and spitting blood, but Oliver was like a man possessed; they grappled against the stands, Oliver's hand only releasing the Slytherin to pummel him with a barrage of sharp punches to his chest, feet thudding into Marcus's shins.

The Slytherin tried to fight back, but the sheer pent-up fury that was Oliver Wood was no match for him, and he resorted to protecting his face with his hands, puffing air out with each solid blow to his chest as he hunched over.

Oliver was barely aware of the hands hooking under his armpits, his fists flailing against empty air as George clamped an arm more firmly around his chest and pulled him back.

Fred went to Marcus's side. "Careful, mate," he said as the Slytherin eased himself upright.

Marcus waved the Gryffindor away, coughing and hawking up a globule of blood-stained spit onto the ground. "Fuckin' hell," he swore, wiping a hand against his mouth. "'Ave you gone completely off your rocker?" He looked up at Oliver. His left eye was bloodshot, the skin around it a nasty shade of red and already swollen enough that he was forced to squint.

Oliver sagged back against George's chest, aware that everyone was staring at him in horror. "I- I-" he began, but he didn't know what to say, how to possibly explain his actions. With a softly huffed, "Let me go, I'm fine," to George, he shrugged out of his grip and turned, walking away from the scene as fast as his bruised legs would carry him.

"Wood!" he heard Marcus call out. "This isn't over."

He quickened his stride, wanting to put as much distance between himself and Marcus as he could.

In the changing rooms, he swiftly stripped and headed for the showers, taking his time and not making eye contact with any of the other Gryffindors. He could sense their questions, but not having any answers to give them, he settled on lingering in the shower until one by one they left, and only then did he turn the water off. But he couldn't avoid the twins; they were leaning against the lockers, waiting for him as he emerged from the showers, scrubbing a towel against his damp hair.

He flung the towel onto the bundle already piled in the corner and pushed past them to open his locker, hoping if he said nothing they would take the hint. He should have known better.

Fred let out a low whistle. "He really did a number on you, didn't he?" Oliver guessed he was looking at the darkened bruises blossoming across his pale skin. "I can see why you were pissed at him."

"Bit of an overreaction though, don't you think?" George said. "It looked like you were going to tear his head off."

Oliver pulled a clean t-shirt out of his locker and slipped it over his head. His pants, as usual, had hidden themselves among the rest of his clothes, and after a bit of scrabbling around, he pulled them free and tugged them on. He let the towel around his waist drop to the floor.

"We're getting the silent treatment, George," Fred said.

"So we are. That's a bit rude, considering…"

His trousers were a bit creased, but Oliver didn't care, pulling them up quickly. He reached for his shirt, but the locker door slammed shut, almost slicing a layer of skin off his fingers. Fred's arm rested across it, stopping Oliver from getting the rest of his things.

Oliver's hand dropped to his side. "Fine. What do you want me to say, eh? I lost my temper. It happens, y'know."

"Not to you, it doesn't," George argued. "What's going on, Ol?"

Oliver frowned. "What's going on? Nothin'. He just hacked me off."

"So you thought you'd kill him?"

A disparaging tut. "I wasn't going to kill him."

"It looked like that to us, mate."

"You two need to get your eyes examined," Oliver said. "Now, is there any chance you'll piss off and let me get dressed?"

Fred's arm didn't move. "Is there something you're not telling us?"

"Like what?"

"Oh, I dunno. Like maybe you and Flint have a 'thing'."

"Me and Flint have a – what?" Oliver stared.

"A thing. You know…"

"Do you fancy him?" George butted in bluntly.

"Do I fancy him?" Oliver let out a startled chuff of laughter. "Flint? Never in a month of Sundays."

The twins looked disbelieving, but Fred lowered his arm. "Well, something about him is setting you off. We're worried about you, mate."

"And we won't always be there to stop you doing something stupid," George added.

Oliver grinned feebly. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," he said, tugging the locker open and retrieving his shirt.

"Yeah, well, be careful." Fred pushed away from the lockers and turned to head off for the showers as George reached out to pat Oliver's shoulder. He must have remembered the bruising, because it was no more than a light tap.

"See you in the common room," he said.

Oliver nodded, sliding his arms into his shirt and leaving it unbuttoned. "Yeah, see you inside."

The twins left, and Oliver suddenly realised how deserted the room was. The other Gryffindors had either left already, or the twins had warned them to steer clear. Either way, Oliver was glad; it meant there was no-one to annoy him as he gathered the rest of his gear together and slung it on the washing pile.

He tucked his wand into the back of his trousers and flung the locker door closed, trying desperately not to think about what Fred and George had suggested – and failing miserably.

Him fancy Flint? Marcus? With his toothy smirk and bone-headed arrogance? Yeah, okay, so Oliver knew he had no aversion to boys. He'd always found them easier to be with, more willing to understand the priorities in his life. Quidditch came first, and then everything else came after. Girls, although physically appealing, just didn't understand.

But Flint? No way. He was a Slytherin. And he cheated.

It didn't matter that he flew like a devil, that his thigh muscles were rock solid as they clenched the broom between his thighs, his back taut and strong, not a trace of fat on his toned body. Oliver could appreciate the beauty of any athlete; it didn't mean he had a desire to shove his tongue down the Slytherin's throat.

Oliver rested his forehead against the coolness of the lockers and sighed. Even if he did, after the way he had behaved today, it was more likely that the next time he saw Marcus, the Slytherin would have a bat in his hand and a crowd of murderous Slytherins at his back.

Oliver swallowed heavily and placed his hands flat against the lockers to push away, his red and swollen knuckles taunting him with a reminder of how fucked he was.

With a small growl, he swung around and headed to the door, yanking it open and stepping out into the cool night. The door shut behind him and he walked slowly around the edge of the building. A cool breeze chased across his face, chilling the damp hair on his head. "You're a daft prick," he muttered to himself.

"Just what I was thinking."

Oliver's stomach flip-flopped, and he slowly turned to see Marcus leaning back against the wall of the side of the building, hands shoved in the pockets of his trousers.

"Er…Flint," Oliver said falteringly, "are you waiting for me?"

"Nah, I just thought I'd hang around to see if I could pick up any Gryffindor bints," Marcus said sarcastically, standing straight and pushing away from the wall. In the moonlight, Oliver could see his face, and he winced at the nasty looking black eye Marcus sported.

"Sorry," he said weakly.

"Sorry? For what, exactly?"

Good question, Oliver thought. What was he sorry for? "Your eye?" he tried.

"Just the eye? Not sorry for any of the rest of it?" He took a step. "I think you broke a couple of ribs."

"Did I?" Oliver was appalled: he couldn't remember. "Shit. Look, I'm sorry. I don't know what I-"

"Shut the fuck up, Wood," Marcus snapped. "I didn't come here for an apology."

"So, what…?" Oliver asked nervously, suddenly realising there was no-one else around; he and Flint were hidden in the shadows of the changing rooms with not a soul in sight - unless, of course, Flint had some Slytherins lurking at the end of the building, waiting for him to shout.

"What's the matter, Wood? You look a little nervous."

"No, no," Oliver denied. "I was just thinking it's kind of late and I'd best be heading inside."

"Yeah - what – it's got to be at least half five?" Marcus said sarcastically. "I know you Gryffindors go to bed early but…"

"Funny. I meant the feast'll have started. I really should go."

"Surely you can spare me a couple of minutes? After what you've done, that isn't too much to ask, is it?" There was a sneer in the Slytherin's voice, but Oliver's inbred sense of politeness forced him to nod.

"Aye, okay. So, what do you want?" How had Marcus got so close? He hadn't been in reaching distance a moment ago, had he? Oliver nervously fingered the hem of his shirt and forced himself not to step back.

"I want to know what the fuck your problem is," Marcus said, but in a surprisingly neutral tone. "Why you laid into me like that."

"You were being an arsehole," Oliver replied.

"And?" Marcus cocked his head to the side. "Since when did that ever bother you?"

Oliver shrugged helplessly. "I don't know," he admitted. "I'm really sorry."

"You said that already."

The wind was cooling, and Oliver shivered. "I mean it, though. Look, if you want to report me or something, go ahead. I'll admit it. Or if you wanted to punch me…" He spread his hands wide and tilted his chin. "Go on, get it over with."

He didn't really expect Marcus to do it, so he was startled when the Slytherin closed the last few feet between them and raised a hand. But instead of punching Oliver, he grabbed a handful of Oliver's t-shirt in a tight fist and propelled him back against the wall. Oliver let out a hiss as the tender skin of his back met the solid surface, and automatically jerked forwards, only to have Marcus push him more forcefully back, his knuckles pressing painfully into his chest.

"What are you doing?" Oliver gasped.

"Finding out what's up with you," Marcus said, his eyes flicking down between them. "Or maybe I've already figured that out."

For a moment, Oliver had no idea what he was talking about, and then he realised and his cheeks flooded with colour. It was obvious no matter what his brain was trying to fathom, other parts of his anatomy had found their answer. He was hard, and Marcus could feel it, standing as close as he was. Embarrassed, his hands gripped Marcus's arm and tried to tug it free, but the sold muscle under his fingers didn't move a millimetre.

"Pack it in," Marcus snapped.

Not looking at Flint, Oliver dropped his hands to his side, trying to will his body to ignore the warm Slytherin pressing up close against him. He'd never been so humiliated. If this was the revenge Marcus wanted, then he'd well and truly succeeded; Oliver could imagine Flint would live off this tale for months. "You've got what you came for," he said quietly. "Can't you just let me go?"

"Let you go?" Marcus asked. "Why the hell would I want to do that?" His other hand snaked around Oliver's neck, his thumb pressing under Oliver's chin and forcing his head up. Oliver saw the ghost of a smile, and then Marcus's lips were on his, forceful and determined, as aggressive a kiss as Oliver had ever known.

Oliver froze. Marcus was kissing him. Marcus. Was. Kissing. Him. His brain seemed to have stopped functioning, so stunned by the turn of events, and he saw a frown form on Marcus's brow as the other boy registered his reaction, or rather the lack of it.

Marcus pulled away abruptly, letting go of Oliver's t-shirt as he stared at him. "I thought… I didn't…" he stuttered. "Merlin's beard, Wood, I thought you wanted this."

Oliver's brain was screaming, his fingers aching to reach out and pull Marcus towards him, to kiss him again, but he heard himself say, "Want what?"

The sight of Marcus's face shuttering closed was enough to wither the visible signs of his lie. He wanted to tell the Slytherin he was right, that this was what he'd been aching for, even thought he hadn't known it until that day.

But he didn't. Because he was Oliver Wood, Captain of the Gryffindor team, with all the responsibilities that went with the position. He didn't have time to be distracted by anything else – especially not the Slytherin team captain, for fuck's sake.

Marcus stepped away, the trademark Slytherin sneer sliding back onto his face as he, too, noticed the Gryffindor's dwindling interest. "Nothing happened here, Wood, all right? You say a word about this to anyone and I'll put you in the hospital wing."

Oliver swallowed and nodded once, his hand smoothing out the crumpled cotton of his t-shirt. "Fine," he said. "Nothing happened."

"Fine," Marcus repeated abruptly, and pivoted on his heel, striding away along the side of the building in the direction of the castle.

Oliver stared after him, his throat tight, his heart thudding so painfully in his chest that he was certain Marcus could hear. What the fuck was he doing? The Slytherin was at the end of the building and just about to start across the open grass when Oliver shouted out, "Marcus! Wait!"

He thought that the Slytherin was going to ignore him; he took a few more steps before he finally paused and half-turned. "What?" he snapped.

Oliver jogged towards him, his anxiety increasing with each thud of his foot on the ground. When he drew to a stop beside the Slytherin, his throat suddenly felt dry. "I, eh… I…" He couldn't think, couldn't say what he wanted. This wasn't what he was good at, for fuck's sake, stick him on a broom and he was sorted, this… this was hard. And it was hard, he realised, very hard. He shifted, aware that Marcus still hadn't turned fully around, was waiting for him to explain.

He blurted it out. "It was what I wanted, okay? It is what I want. It's just scaring the fuck out of me that I'm admitting it, and blethering away to you like some girl when all you're doing is staring at me. Say something."

Marcus turned, very slowly, and squinted at Oliver in the pale illumination of the moon. "Are you taking the piss?" he asked carefully.

"No," Oliver denied. "No fucking way. I want…" he paused. "Bloody hell, I want this," he said, stepping forwards and slamming his lips against Marcus's, his hands hanging at his sides in case the Slytherin chose to push him away.

And then Marcus was kissing him back, one hand sliding under Oliver's shirt to curl calloused fingers around his waist; at tug to pull him closer so Oliver could feel the attraction was mutual. Oliver let out a groan of pleasure and Marcus deepened the kiss, teeth and tongue battling for dominance as he pressed their bodies closer together and shifted his stance so he could rub his thigh against Oliver's straining cock.

It was almost too much. Oliver whined against Marcus's lips and clutched at his arms, fighting the urge to come right there and then, on the grass outside Hogwarts, where anyone could see. And then Marcus's other hand was on his arse, pulling him sharply in and he was lost, his body shuddering in pleasure as he dropped his head and gasped Marcus's name into the curve of his shoulder as the Slytherin bucked against him.

"Fuck," Marcus exhaled, his breath hot against the back of Oliver's neck. "If I'd known it was going to be that good, I'd have pissed you off months ago."

Oliver grinned against his neck and pushed away, grimacing at the dampness of his trousers. "I'm crap at cleaning spells," he said with a sigh.

Marcus took his wand from his pocket and in seconds, they were both clean and dry.

"You've had a lot of practice at that, obviously," Oliver observed.

"It's come in handy once or twice, yeah," Marcus agreed, scratching his wand against the side of his neck. There was an awkward silence as they both stared at their shoes.

"I'm freezing my tits off here," Marcus said abruptly, and Oliver looked at him. The Slytherin had shoved his hands back in his pockets. "And I'm bloody starving – I'm going inside."

Oliver nodded, trying not to let his disappointment show. He had thought… But no, he was being stupid. "Right, yeah. I'll catch you later, then."

Marcus had begun to turn away and he looked back at Oliver in surprise. "You not coming with me?" he asked.

"You're…? Aye, right, I'm coming," Oliver stammered, trying – and failing – to hide the grin as he followed the Slytherin up to the castle.

As the two captains set off, two figures poked their heads around the corner of the building.

"Thank Merlin they've finally sorted themselves out," Fred said.

"Yeah," George agreed. "I'd have hated having to waste good Wizarding Wheezes products on the two of them. Trying to slip something to Flint would have been a right bugger."

"We'd have had to have asked a Slytherin for help."

The twins looked at each other and shuddered.

George scratched his head. "So, who do we have left to sort out?"


"You got any ideas on that front?"

"One or two." Fred grinned. "But we can discuss it in the morning - I'm knackered."

And so, the twins set off towards Hogwarts, where celebrating Gryffindors partied into the night, unaware that their love lives were being guided by the unlikeliest pair of cupids.