For those who came in late:

Ra'jirra was invited to story-tell at the Halloween Banquet, but Quirrell and that troll upstaged him. He ended up saving the lives of Hermione and Pansy Parkinson instead – with the help of an oddly disobedient Harry and Ron. (He did get to tell the whole story the following evening, by the way.)

Under a turban:

His master's plan was a work of genius: elegant, effective and evil, all at once. By the time the old fool (or that disgusting creature) realised the deception, it would be too late. The pathetic obstacle course didn't pose a threat to one guided by the greatest wizard who ever lived twice, after all, but these vermin would be worn out by the time the stone was finally his lord's.

Then the great work would be finally complete.

Heading towards the Quidditch pitch:

"Thanks for inviting me," Ra'jirra said as he and Dumbledore headed towards the stands and goalposts rising from the Hogwarts sward, "Have to say I've never heard of flying games before." He scratched his nose. "Not even the Dunmer had them in Morrowind, and they could levitate."

"Really?" Dumbledore's eyebrows rose. "Well then, I can assure you that you are in for quite a treat. A noble and respected game, Quidditch, even though some of the younger prefer broom racing or that Quodpot they play in the colonies…"

The two old men walked along in silence. The stands were clearly decorated in the colours of the school houses, and they could see students already crowding into them.

"Did, ah…" Dumbledore began carefully, "Did Sirius…"

"Oh, he's happy to be out of the healers' claws," Ra'jirra chuckled. "Harry suggested that his godfather would be better off recovering in Potter Manor, and the poor sod was almost crying with joy." His chuckle turned to a snicker. "Then when he arrives there, he goes straight to James and Lily's portrait, and bloody hells did they tear a strip off him!"

"They what?"

"They were furious! Forsaking their 'Prongslet' for revenge, though why they'd call Harry that I've no idea. He was a fair bit hangdog when he 'suddenly' needed a rest."

Dumbledore snorted with amusement.

"It's a shame he couldn't come see his godson play, really," Ra'jirra went on, "But signs are there's still a lot of people who think he's guilty as sin…"

"Actually," Dumbledore decided to drop that issue and focus on something the old Kahjiit had said in passing, "You mentioned your people knew about levitation. Don't people use it anymore?"

"Two reasons," Ra'jirra replied, "Law and safety. When thieves can fly, nobody's valuables are safe." He shrugged. "Not that you could move very fast, but people get surly about arrow-riddled criminals landing on their heads or something, I guess. Oh, and also, when the spell wore off, you only knew about it when you began falling. I've no idea how many pilgrim corpses lie between Vivec and Red Mountain because of that."

Down on the ol' Quidditch pitch:

From a game designer's point of view, the popular wizarding sport of Quidditch, a cross between dodgeball, basketball, and aerial combat, appears at first glance to be broken.

After all, any game where two out of twelve players are chasing after one ball, and everyone else is discussing who gets another through a hoop, would seem a bit dodgy; but when one of those balls not only ends the game once caught, but also gives a huge amount of points – well, where's the game in that?

Oliver Wood wouldn't have given a fig for such observations. He would have explained – and indeed had, repeatedly, to the boredom of the hapless Gryffindor team – that competition games weren't played singly. They were played as a series, and that meant scoring more than a minimal number of points. In the case of the Hogwarts Inter-House Cup, one thousand eight hundred points might mean your side always caught the Snitch, but you'd still come in last, likely as not.

Besides, your team would also get bollocked for being bad sports and useless with the Quaffle.

In fact, one team had pursued just such a strategy, resulting in the Five Minute Riot of 1762 (twelve dead, seventy-five seriously injured, according to Quidditch Through the Ages). Wood's strategy today was more elaborate, but boiled down to scoring at least a hundred and fifty points before Harry could quit feinting and misleading the opposition Seeker and actually catch the Snitch.

As Seeker, Harry actually had two jobs. One was to find and catch the Snitch before the other Seeker. The other job was to distract the opposition Beaters from harassing his side's Chasers – which in practice meant he had to dodge the bludgers instead. Since those iron balls "padded" with leather were enchanted to charge the nearest broom rider within six feet, that could be tricky.

If he could pull all that off, he'd redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow Gryffindors. All right, three jobs.

"HERE COMES JOHNSON!" Lee Jordan's magically amplified voice boomed throughout the stands, which despite the entire school turning out were still pretty empty. Hermione had lectured (she would say 'explained') about how so many families had been effectively wiped out or driven into exile from Voldemort's reign of terror. The result was a severely diminished student body...

Harry shook his head to stop wool-gathering, then pulled his broom around to see Angelina send the Quaffle past the Slytherin Keeper and through the left-hand goal hoop.

"TEN-NIL TO GRYFFINDOR!" The cheering swelled from those in the red and gold stands. Something else in gold caught his attention, and with a reproachful creak from his school broom, he went into a power dive.

Terence Higgs didn't need Lee playing Captain Obvious; he was already urging his broom to catch up to the Boy-Who-Lived. Looking ahead of the red-robed Seeker, he frowned, then quickly scanned the pitch, before jinking right to where he glimpsed a flash of gold.


"Mister Jordan!" Minerva McGonagall was as biased as the next witch, but she also knew the importance of impartiality. Lee needed some reminding, on the other hand.


The screaming crowd was all the confirmation that Harry needed; Higgs had seen the Snitch – and Harry was damned if the boy was going to get it. Not because, as Snape believed for one, he was an attention-seeking brat – no, he was trying to avoid a far worse fate: the Disappointment of Oliver Wood.

If anything else could ruin Harry's enjoyment of Quidditch, Oliver Wood's monomania could give it a run for its money.

The Snitch jinked left and Harry turned to match it, Higgs having to shift aside to avoid a collision. Unlike some previous team members, he knew the value of keeping close to the rules.

Then a bludger was sent in their direction.

Beaters have a tough job: they need to track three targets, and then hit the bludger just hard enough that it gets far enough away from their own teammates and themselves, but not so hard that it can't intercept the chosen victim before sailing out of range. Sadly, the Slytherin lunk hit somewhat too enthusiastically.

Harry did indeed have to take evasive action, but the bludger turned towards Higgs. Cries of despair (from the Slytherin audience) and outrage (from Higgs) followed this, and Harry vaguely noticed Flint soaring up to tear a strip off the errant Beater. Where was the damn Snitch?

He rose upwards, and noticed with some satisfaction that Katie Bell had fired the Quaffle right past an oblivious Miles Bletchley, who in turn got a reaming from the increasingly irate Slytherin Captain.


Harry tuned Jordan out and spun about, looking for that Gods-damned Snitch.

Down in the staff box:

"These new brooms are marvellous," Professor Sprout's eyes sparkled with happiness. "I think Hooch could kiss Fudge for unsealing the Potter will..."

Snape did his best to not roll his eyes. If you were going to mention brooms to the Hogwarts flying instructor, taking refreshments and something to occupy your hands was generally a good idea.

Fortunately, Hooch was currently refereeing the game, leaving him to his suspicions about Quirrell. Absently, he scratched his left arm thinking about that. No – Quirrell had not stuttered on that Halloween night. Perhaps it was just a fluke, but that faint was a fake if ever he saw one.

His ankle twinged, and he shifted his weight. That damn thing Dumbledore had brought into the school was undoubtedly the root cause of all that ruckus, so of course he'd been told off to check things were still all right. Certainly that hairy beast of Hagrid's was just fine. He had the bite to prove it.

He glanced over at their unexpected guest. Ra'jirra was gaping at the game, head turning as he tried to track the Chasers, then the Seekers. "Bloody hells," that worthy said at last, "it's a proper war up there!"

Score one to us, the sour professor thought to himself with amusement.

"People like games with an element of risk," Dumbledore said a little pompously, "It's probably why Gobstones and Exploding Snap are also popular."

"So what's Harry looking for again?" Ra'jirra was absently making small talk while his mind raced. The problem with technological flying machines was that they needed lots of maintenance, fuel, and space to take off. These magical flying brooms on the other hand had no moving parts, could probably be made by regular enchanting, and, well, they didn't need immense 'air ports' like in that picture Hermione and Harry had sent him.

He could see it now, cruising through Tamriel's skies: a great metal ship, probably shaped like a loaf of bread, the Imperial dragon sported proudly on its sides, inside an entire century of troops refreshed and ready to disembark when it landed at the...

Something golden flashed in his vision, jolting him out of his daydream. It was about the size of a walnut, with two little wings either side, and currently hovering a foot in front of his nose. Automatically he reached for it, and the Snitch's enchantments reacted, propelling it back towards the pitch at roughly eighty miles per hour.

"That," Dumbledore stated, in an amused tone. "As you've noticed, Seekers have to be fast and agile in order to outrun or out-manoeuvre the Golden Snitch."

Ra'jirra just grunted, watching a black-haired boy in red robes changing course to pursue the fleeing object.

"It's unbelievable what Harry's able to do on that Cleansweep," Sprout gushed at rather than to Ra'jirra, "I mean, Higgs is flying a Nimbus 1700, but you wouldn't know he's on a Cleansweep Six – you'd think he was flying a Nimbus 2000!"

"I know," the old Khajiit nodded, "Some idiots think a bigger sword makes up for piss-awful skill."

Down in the Gryffindor stands:

"Bless you," Hermione said absently to Ron. The boy just sniffled and wiped his nose.

About sixty feet above ground level and twenty feet away from the Gryffindor goal:

Harry was focussed on one thing. It was about the size of a walnut, winged, and trying very hard to get away. Which it would fail at this time.

Then it dropped away from his outstretched hand.

So did the ground.

Then Snitch and ground jerked sideways.

And again.

Harry had to grab onto his broom as it attempted to throw him off again, then again, and yet again, and then one decidedly long and overenthusiastic again.

Down in the stands:

"WHAT'S HARRY DOING?" Lee's amplified voice expressed the confusion of the spectators. "IT'S AS IF... IT'S LIKE SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH HIS BROOM! I CAN SEE HIM CLINGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE –"

The match ground to a halt. Even the Slytherin Beaters realised that brooms should not move like that. Harry was being shaken across the pitch like he was in a clannfear's beak or a daedroth's jaws, and nobody it seemed knew what to do.

"Some bastard's cursing Harry!" Ron cried.

"Ron! Language!" Hermione scolded reflexively.

"He's right," Draco was staring at the stands. "But I think it's worse than that. Look at Professor Snape and Quirrell."

Hermione looked. Quirrell she dismissed as ineffectual, thanks to his pathetic antics in the classroom. Snape, on the other hand, was looking competent. And, she knew – like everyone else in Hogwarts – Snape had it in for the Boy-Who-Lived.

Therefore, Snape was responsible.

"We have to stop him," she glared at her least favourite teacher.

"I'll do it."


But Neville had already left.

Under the staff box:

If he hadn't been so angry, he would have fallen out of sheer nerves.

If he hadn't been so angry, he would have had second thoughts about assaulting a professor.

If he hadn't been so angry, he would have clogged his mind with imaginings about his Gran's disapproval. It was bad enough that she had sent him a Howler about Professor Flitwick's decision to get him his own wand! Indeed, that simmering resentment probably helped to clear his head.

And aided his taking fire from the Aurbis, like Harry had shown him.

In the staff box:

Snape yelled as he was briefly engulfed in flame.

The sight of a fellow professor attempting to stamp himself out attracted all attention. As a result, the Gryffindor Seeker's trajectory stabilised into a power dive.

On the Quidditch pitch:

Harry slid on his stomach a good twenty-two feet, the Cleansweep buried almost up to its brush in the ground. His arms flailed as he attempted to rise, but a lack of air prevented him.

"Oi Harry!"

"Are you –"

"– alright?"

Harry made, quite understandably, choking noises.

"C'mon mate – say something! – Can you hear me? – You alright?"

Harry was becoming hard pressed to hear anything over the grey ringing.

"Harry! – You're choking! – Whadda we do Fred? – I dunno!"

Dimly Harry was aware of more voices and feet approaching through the darkening grey. Then something crushed his chest, and he heaved as something else fell out of his mouth. With rubbery fingers he scooped it up; framed in the glittering silver inside his eyes he saw gold.

It is entirely plausible that 'Aaaaugghhh' was supposed to be "I caught the Snitch". Certainly Madame Hooch thought so, and so the match was awarded.

A/N: Yes, I know this is a little short, but to be frank this seemed to be a good place to stop. It's Quidditch for Merlin's sake.