The quidditch team took their felix felicis well in advance and enough to cover eight hours. Just in case.
The fey turned up on time, noisily and suddenly as if from nowhere and a bit like Mr Ben as David said; to the confusion of those not muggleborn.
"Where do they come from?" asked Draco.
"The way I understand it, because they're not all of them fully substantial they exist partly in a weird kind of wizarding space and can travel through it" said Severus "They need the ley lines though to navigate as much as any geomancer; perhaps more. The power concentrated in ley lines helps keep them solid away from their Rath or hill. Hand out this ointment and tell everyone to rub it on one eyelid. It'll dis-spell fey illusion; but you can use the unaffected eye to see what they want you to see."
This was quickly done; and the difference it made was considerable.
The fey team was indeed made up of Highfey, Sidhe Lords; and without the ointment they seemed fair and beautiful and clad in rich velvet robes. With the other eye they still had a wild beauty; but they were a tangle-haired bunch with less than clean skin and their clothes were ragged and torn, dirty and insalubrious.
"That's what they call glamour isn't it?" said David, who had read up on the fey in the meantime. "I thought only they could brew the true seeing ointment?"
"They think they are" said Severus "But I am the world's pre-eminent potioneer and I did some research too."
"Nice one Scales" said Sirius.
There was a brief altercation because the fey wanted to use a real snidget; and Harry pointed out, quite rightly, that such was illegal and he did not plan to spend several years in Azkaban even if the fey did.
"Do you refuse to play us then?" asked the fey seeker, a crafty smile touching his mouth.
"Of course we don't refuse to play you" Severus spoke up "But you can hardly expect us to break our own laws, can you? We laid down the challenge; it was up to you to check the rules in the meantime over what quidditch means to us. Any deficiency in understanding is your fault. Such is what you always say when humans are shocked by some of your rules in hurley. So, we adopt that custom too and thus you cannot fault it. Release the snidget; we play Hogwarts rules quidditch."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief that Severus knew the correct way to manipulate these sidhe, and firmly took the snidget's cage from the fey seeker to release it.
The spectators from the unseelie court hooted and booed; but the team ignored them. The younger members of the Bloodgroup had pledged to keep an eye – and one with ointment on at that – on them in case of trouble.
They were many and diverse; ranging from the downright hideous to the breathtakingly beautiful, and often both on the same individual. A beautiful fair woman much like a veela had goat's legs; another stunningly handsome young man had unattractive blue mottling down his legs – he was almost naked – and a long tail that would have been ratlike had it not been blue. His feet were large and on backward. There were fairly ordinary looking hags – in so far as one might describe hags as ordinary looking – and the selection of elf and goblin like beings. Many beings looked as though they might be part goblins or part elves; and the Marauders speculated that the sidhe used the genetic input of more solid beings to help maintain a presence in an increasingly magic-challenged world
"The woman with goat's legs is a lannawn sidhe" said Bil "She's a Manx fey by rights, a patroness of the arts, inspiring poets and musicians to incredible heights during their bright but short lifespan. She's murky rather than being a dark creature, because she feeds on their passion and talent not on negative emotion; but she doesn't care that it burns them out. I bet she's checking out our musically talented to see if she can't persuade one to let her be his muse."
"Just as well our most musically talented are too young for her to use all that sex appeal on then" said Hawke "Though she can have the glee club is she likes; they almost count as dark creatures in their own right, certainly more than David's bagpipes."
"Unkind, but amazingly still almost true!" laughed Abrax. "Has anyone locked Tony Queach in a cupboard? He's musical enough, even if he is too young to even be able to spell sex."
"He is, effectively locked in a cupboard" said Bil calmly "He had a tune in his head; and wondering how vulnerable he might be I offered him quiet haven in Sev and Krait's rooms to compose. Gabrielle is there as well and that leshy child, Bethan Price and the other musically inclined Ravenclaw who has an insufficient personality for me to immediately recall the child's name. Wintergreen or something. The elves have orders not to let them leave."
"Good" said Hawke.
Some of the smaller fey creatures eyed the Hogwarts children covertly and hungrily; staring at them as though to remember every detail.
"Poor little bastards, I know that look; it's envy" said Kinat "The lowfey are little better than servants; and they see us, well clothed and well fed and no wonder they want to attack us in their jealousy, as poor goblins from the wrong end of Diagon Alley or Penumbrus Place or Knockturn Alley feel like getting at wizarding folk, especially the well dressed ones swanning up the street like they owned it."
"We can't afford too much sympathy for them; right now they're the enemy" said Hawke. "One day perhaps we can liberate them too; and if any ask to be taken in and rescued, well that's different."
"What if they do that to then betray us?" asked Romulus.
"No, they'd be bound by the laws of hospitality which are very strict" said Abrax "As they're bound not to attack us during the match. That doesn't mean they might not try to hex the players – because that might be within their idea of the rules – or attack us right after the match is over. That's what we're here to watch."
"I knew they were bound by rules during the match – dad told me – I didn't know it was a general rule" said Romulus.
The golden snitch was let go; and the match was on. Draco, Krait and Ginny planned on racking up as high a score as they could, regardless of Harry's undoubted talents, and left it to Sirius and Severus to knock the bludgers away from them if the enchanted balls came anywhere near them. They had agreed beforehand that the fey team would be looking to attack and harm more than to score; so Ron was to be almost solitary as keeper, and the two Hogwarts beaters would protect by watching out for the fey beaters.
"Like we play in Gryffindor against Slytherin" said Harry. "Or did before the worst and cruellest buffoons either left or chose the wrong side in the fight for Hogwarts."
Both Crabbe and Goyle had chosen to side with their fathers against Harry and the forces of freedom; and had died under the onslaught of an attack by the New Marauders backing up Tonks, who had been hard pressed. Theodore Nott, a clever boy not unlike a young Severus perhaps, had decided against joining his father, pleading pressure of schoolwork; and had been glad that he had done so. He was a skinny and weedy boy in any case, and had never been a bully; and was now keeping a low profile in light of his father's affiliations. Severus was being gentle with him in the hopes of giving the youth some sort of father figure that was a better role model; and knew from legilimensy that the boy was torn between admiring him for managing to come out on top and resenting him for being alive when his own father was not. The boy was a clever loner, who had never felt a need to join any gang; and Severus was sorry for him; as the boy was not in the common mould of bullies, even if he had the potential to be far more dangerous had he but realised it.
Sirius nodded in agreement over Harry's comment.
"It was that way in my time" he said "Severus had no backup as seeker; the others were too busy trying to maim us."
"So it means he'll know what to do from remembering how hard it was" said Harry "Right, Scales?"
"Strut your stuff, Prongs junior: we'll be at your back" he said gruffly.
Whether it was the felix that told him the right thing to say or whether it was just the love he felt for Harry he could not say; but Harry's eyes filled and he grinned all over his face; and Severus knew he would fly like a demon.
Hermione withdrew all possible reservations to the use of felix when she saw members of the spectators busy casting jinxes at the brooms of the Hogwarts team. All of them were protected with anti jinx magics, and it would not take the fey too long to work that out: but that they were prepared to cheat from the very first meant that countering that was not unfair.
When it seemed of a sudden that Hogwarts could never win and all was in vain, and the dementor-like being wafted up to near the visitors' goal to stare at the chasers, Hermione was angry.
She drifted along the tiers until she could level her wand with it, without being accused of casting magic onto the pitch and said very distinctly,
The creature burst into the now familiar cackling yet crepitant laughter and laughed, under Hermione's steady wand, until it exploded.
The chasers each raised a hand to her of thanks; and continued passing the quaffle. Their passing patterns were complex, including back passes; and the fey beaters and keeper were frustrated. Severus had said
"They are both subtle and yet absurdly simple; keep them confused, keep them off guard and occasionally do illogical things. They hate what they cannot understand and then they make mistakes."
The fey beaters really did hate it. And they gave up all pretence of stopping the chasers within the rules, and started casting spells.
The spells were challenging to counter; being inherently magical beings they did not need wands or speech, though it seemed that like house elves they could not cast the more complex spells without wands. Spells to toss people off brooms were not, apparently, complex.
Harry was hit by one such in the back; and was in mid air, broomless, falling.
And his mind was clear and open.
"Voldemort had learned to fly; and I remember how he did it" he told himself; and he was flying too, as these fey flew. Then he had caught his broom and was on it again.
"Nice one Harry – remember to wear your underpants outside your tights in future!" called Krait.
Harry grinned. There were some parallels at that; Clark Kent was a mild mannered man with glasses and untidy hair.
And his Ginny was worth a thousand Lois Lanes!
Ginny was hit as he thought of her by some hex or other; a brief wash of pain touched Harry and was gone and the fey beater stared at his erstwhile target with consternation.
"Nice try but no cigar" said Ginny, catching the quaffle from Krait, aiming at Draco then spinning it several times round balanced on her finger before throwing it negligently up in the air and heading it back to Krait, who threw it over her shoulder straight in the goal.
Hogwarts had scored sixty three times to the visitors' twenty seven; the fey would have to up their game and concentrate more on scoring than on spells or else get the snitch with a score of six hundred and thirty to two hundred and seventy.
Concentrating on the game when they had the chance to try to hurt was not in the nature of the sidhe. Their nature was to pick on the smallest; which was Krait.
This was a mistake.
Especially as the spell chosen turned Krait's broomhandle into a snake.
ssssHello my little friend ssss said Krait amicably ssss we appear to still be airborn, so I shall not need to turn you back…but I fear as half a snake you are uncomfortable…ssss
Gently, and twisting the spell Serpensortia, Krait drew the snake forward as though out of her broomhandle – which returned to normal – and draped it around her neck.
"PARSELMOUTH!" screamed the spellcaster, one of the chasers of the opposing team.
Krait stuck out a forked tongue at him.
"Didn't anyone tell you I'm Slytherin's heiress?" she said conversationally. "Daughter of Voldemort descendant of the Peverell and Gaunt lines….you people didn't like old Salazar then? Ah, I see!" she added enlightened "The Basilisk was not there solely or indeed mainly for muggleborn; it was because the fey fear it….don't worry, we've a new Basilisk since Harry killed my old one."
The chaser screamed.
"We have to get away! They have a new basilisk!" he howled.
One of his own beaters hit him over the head with their bludgeon.
The fey all looked very shaken though.
Krait shrugged; and carried on scoring or facilitating scoring.
Best to demoralise them in all ways possible!
It was so obvious. Back when the school was started, there were basically no muggleborn witches and wizards; obviously Slytherin would not bother to set up a defence against that which was not even a perceived threat. But Fey were another matter, and it appeared that the school was not far from a kingdom of them – if kingdom a community of ragged misfits could be called. And with glamour, any fey could enter the school unbeknownst, setting up the conditions of having entered over the threshold, and so gain admittance to carry off any that they could. Slytherin had trained his pet to sniff for the blood of the purebred and those of high concentrations thereof purely to be able to tell if any fey or half-fey were infiltrating his school. That it also targeted muggleborn was an oversight born of an inability to see a time when magic lay in enough muggles, in a large enough general population to make muggleborns relatively common. Slytherin was not racist; he was just creatively paranoid!
ssss Heh heh, Salazar my Grandaddy, let's sick these little buggers and good ssss she said.
Krait, if anything, stepped up her game and was soon scoring from almost impossible positions, largely by dint of hissing at the fey keeper who flinched every time she did so or ran out a forked tongue at him.
Harry was chatting in Parseltongue to the other seeker, who was looking distinctly green and nervous. The very thought of the basilisk seemed to paralyse them and stop them casting spells! As several of the watchers had familiars which, whilst normal cats or dogs to the naked eye were in fact under the ointment seen to be acromantula like spiders, there was obviously a connection.
Krait considered a partial transformation to see the familiars scramble; but decided against it.
And Hogwarts was still scoring.
And then Harry saw the snitch! It dashed between him and the other seeker and Harry was onto it with a neat wingover.
It was well ahead; and the fey seeker was on his tail. Was it worth the risk of losing the snitch? Harry thought it was….he knew exactly what to do and he felt lucky! He drove his broom up, the fey behind him, following Harry following – as the fey thought – the snitch. But Harry had other plans. He dove suddenly towards the ground, as though in a desperate attempt to grab the snitch, pulling out at the last moment in what Ron later described as 'the closest bloody run Wronski feint I've ever seen' and headed for where the snitch was still in the edge of his vision.
The fey did not pull out in time, and with a thin despairing wail, crashed.
It was a legitimate tactic to make the opposing seeker crash; and Harry grinned as he closed his hand gently around the fluttering snitch.
End score, with the hundred and fifty for the snitch: Hogwarts, nine hundred and seventy; Fey, three hundred and ten.
The Hogwarts spectators – those who had been brave enough to come out with so many fey about – went wild.
The Fey captain scowled; but said thinly,
"You have won; and we are pledged to leave the school alone. Had we known you had a basilisk we should not have even accepted the challenge. I wish you joy of it."
Harry grinned. He knew fine well his only school basilisk was Krait.
"Oh well, it was good for kicks and giggles anyway" he said.
Little Lilith ran over to Krait on her sturdy little legs and lifted her arms for a cuddle.
The fey looked at her and screamed.
"You have hidden the basilisk in the form of a child? You are monsters! We leave – now!" and with a wild cry of summons he leaped into the air and was gone, with his minions, followers, friends or whatever they might be following behind like a ragged cloak that just dispersed into a smokeswirl and was gone.
"What did he mean about Lilith?" asked Harry.
Krait pulled a face.
"I was in Basilisk form when I was pregnant with her; and with Richard. I guess they hold some residual part of its nature. I hope not too much. But Lilith shows no signs of being dark; and under the circumstances I shall watch them both."
"Yeah" said Harry "I can't bear the thought of your little ones turning out like your father."
"He warped the basilisk remember; Slytherin used it as a protector" Krait outlined her ideas. "THAT I shall drum into them. And time to tell the school about the real reason we used to have a basilisk."
There were those of Slytherin House who were shocked at the idea that Salazar Slytherin had not hated mudbloods – had indeed no concept of them; but after the fear the fey had caused there were some thoughtful faces over the theory Krait had postulated. That she admitted freely to being Slytherin's heir did her no disservice either.
It might yet be that the traditions of racism could be eroded by looking to a time before they began; to earlier traditions and earlier concepts of what was the proper thing to fear.
It was at least a start.
And then the holidays were upon them.
"Rum sort of year" said Krait "Started and finished with a quidditch match; and both might have far ranging consequences. Ah well, no peace for the wicked I suppose."
"Speak for yourself" said Hermione "- about being wicked I mean."
"Oh I can think of some very wicked things to do and they all involve my Severus" said Krait grinning lasciviously.
"Well, anyway, we'll send you an invite to the wedding when it's settled" she said, hastily.
"And then you can implement similar plans for your Ron as I have for Severus" said Krait blandly, with a limpid look.
Hermione burned still redder!
"Krait, what are you like?" she demanded for the umpteenth time.
"Meh… I'm like Slytherin's heiress, half a Malfoy and my own sweet self rolled into one. And antisocial; don't forget, I keep telling you that, it's on all my muggle school reports."
"No you're not – not really. You're a darling" said Hermione, surprising herself as much as Krait by kissing her fondly on the cheek.