Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: A quick warning. This is OOC and AU from a certain point.
A flash of gold streaked across his vision, momentarily surprising him. It could have been the sun's reflection bouncing from someone's watch, but Harry Potter reacted on instinct, tilting the handle of his Firebolt towards the grass, and he was immediately chasing after the elusive Snitch. The familiar beat of his heart thumping against his ribcage accompanied him, urging him to go faster.
With his scarlet robes flapping wildly behind him, Harry spotted the Golden Snitch within moments. Brilliant green eyes filled with eager excitement, just as they always did when Harry was in his element. He simply loved being able to fly; there were very few feelings that came anywhere near. Harry loved the way he could move without restrictions; he thrived on the astonishing speeds the broomstick was capable of doing.
"Look! Potter's seen the Snitch!" Seamus Finnigan had badgered Professor McGonagall for years, and the Transfiguration Professor had finally relented, giving him the illustrious job of commentating. Seamus had taken the chance with both hands and a rather excited voice, which he usually used to advocate the virtues of Gryffindor, and harass any player not wearing red. "He's on to the little blighter, that's for sure! Look at him go! This is how you fly, people. Watch and learn, kids, Potter's showing you all up today. I know there are Managers and scouts in our lovely crowd today, so take some bloody notice, yeah? Sign him up! Sign him up!"
The Gryffindor section swelled, taking heart from Seamus's speech. The already-riled crowd roared, their excitement soaring, as they continued his chant. Their combined voices rang through the Hogwarts Quidditch Stadium and the surrounding forest.
"SIGN HIM UP! SIGN HIM UP! SIGN HIM UP!"
Harry could feel his ego inflating, although he felt slightly embarrassed by the attention he was receiving. He swung his broom around the Gryffindor goalposts, barely avoiding an oncoming Bludger that a Slytherin Beater had whacked towards him. Harry shot a glare towards his own Beaters, before forcing his attention back on the chase.
The supporters often thought that clear days meant perfect clarity in the search for the Snitch, but there was a downside. Any player unfortunate enough to be looking skywards was instantly blinded by the sun. The Snitch, with its never say die attitude, whistled straight for the heavens, giving Harry a problem. He often liked playing in dreary weather, because the gold of the Snitch was easier to spot against the backdrop of a grey sky.
It was because of the sun that Harry could barely keep his eyes open, let alone keep them on the Snitch. However, Harry wasn't hailed as a prodigy on a broom for nothing, and he refused to slow down. With half of his concentration on making sure he wasn't going to be blindsided by an opposing player or a rogue Bludger, he soon found himself high above the stadium.
Hogwarts was in the distance, silhouetted against the Scottish highlands like the beacon of pure hope that it was. Harry didn't care about that at present, though, as the Snitch arced over fifty meters in the air before rocketing back towards earth.
The scene made Harry think of a videogame Dudley liked to play, with the bird's-eye view and the tiny people. The thought was gone before Harry had time to digest it, as Draco Malfoy forced himself into the chase.
With a look of frustration that was ever-present on the youngest Malfoy's face, he locked hate-filled eyes on Harry. Immediately recognising Malfoy's intention, Harry refused to stray from his line. Making himself as small as he could on his broom, the Firebolt picked up extra speed.
Malfoy shot up beneath Harry, who simply dodged the poorly disguised attempt at taking him out of the air. As Malfoy swerved violently above him, Harry didn't spare him another glance.
"That didn't work out too well for Slytherin's captain!" Seamus bellowed, his delighted voice booming around the stadium. "Can anyone remember a time when Malfoy ever got the better of Potter? No, really, it's just not fair on the poor boy. Give it up already, Malfoy, we all know about your small dick syndrome!"
Inevitably, McGonagall's voice soon followed, muffled through the microphone and barely heard over the laughter and jeers of the students. Harry himself had to chuckle, never having heard Malfoy's provocative nature explained in such a way before.
The students chanted Harry's name, but he desperately tried blocking out the sound. The rest of the players had all stopped playing, apart from the Beaters. Harry was forced to dodge two Bludgers that were on course to knock him clean out. He swerved madly around the first and ducked the second, but it was enough time for the Snitch to regain its precious lead.
"Just what are our Beaters doing out there?" Seamus shouted furiously, taking the poor display from Gryffindor's Beaters as a personal insult. The cries from the Gryffindor students joined his voice, complaining wildly that Slytherin's Beaters had free reign against Harry. "I'm blaming this on you, Potter! I could do a better job than they're doing. In the words of Mandy Brocklehurst, why didn't you pick me? I could've been just what you needed!"
Harry covered up his snort of laughter. It wasn't too hard to accomplish; he was far too busy panting from the chase and the near misses. He continued on, his hands clenched around the handle of his Firebolt. The toes of his boots brushed the startlingly deep green grass, before Harry was forced to twist his back with a violent spin to avoid another Bludger, which roared past him, out of harm's way.
Harry swore to himself, damning his Beaters as much as everyone supporting Gryffindor were. He'd kill them himself if they messed up his chances today of all days.
"Gryffindor lead sixty to twenty, but I think everyone is in awe of Potter today," Seamus said, doing his best to put an awe-struck voice on. "He's flown like this all year! Come on, Harry, one more time for us all! Just think of the honour that'll be bestowed on you, and if that doesn't work, think of what the girls in the crowd will offer you tonight!"
Whether Professor McGonagall chided his Irish friend, Harry didn't know, but he felt a much-needed rush of adrenaline course through his veins. He charged onwards, silently amused by how Seamus's unique way of encouragement seemed to work.
Seamus yelped into the microphone as the Snitch zoomed inches from his ear. Harry barely managed to stop the tail of his Firebolt from clipping the Irish boy in the head, as he cut through the air in his quest to catch the small, walnut-sized, winged ball. A Bludger flew into Harry's flying space yet again, but with a quick shimmy, he dodged it with ease.
"And as Harry Potter nearly takes my head clean off my shoulders, he just proves just how good he really is," Seamus said, his laughter sounding a little nervous. "I was never worried, but enough about my problems, Potter's looking to close this game out, but he's taking his time over it, I have to say."
Harry was closing the gap between himself and the Snitch. It darted left, into open play out into the fray of players, Harry milliseconds behind.
Harry raced on, his eyes alert for any more bloody Bludgers. The number of fouls that had already been committed was staggering, but this match happened to be the last of the season. Whoever won this match won the Cup at the end, so it was all or nothing, but that scenario just made him want to taste victory even more. He just wished his damn Beaters felt the same way; it was as if they hadn't listened to a word he'd said for weeks.
There was no doubting that Malfoy would soon show his face again, giving Harry even more incentive to end the game long before that. He pressed himself lower onto his broom, only to swear as the Snitch reversed its flying line. It flew straight through Slytherin's left hoop and headed once more for the skies.
Harry growled as he forced his way after it, his teeth clenched as he burst forward with another bout of speed. The heavy Gryffindor robes only added to Harry's temperature; his underclothes were clinging to his skin. He was drenched in sweat and starting to regret not applying a Cooling Charm over himself. His eyes were starting to get puffy and clouded, and his cheeks were burning hot.
Malfoy showed up without a hint of flair or subtlety, as was his usual style, by barging into Harry's back. Harry lurched forward, roaring insults and swearing for all he was worth. Groans emerged from the Gryffindor section of the crowd, but others were booing, egged on by Seamus.
Harry's teeth clenched so hard it hurt; his whole body was tensed, his lower back aching from the collision. The hit must have been harder than he'd thought, but Harry was used to dealing with pain and attempted to put it to the back of his mind.
Malfoy wasn't too far ahead in the chase, but he wasn't paying attention to anything around him. Far too early and far too eagerly, Malfoy stretched out his arm, ready for the catch that was never going to happen.
Harry had already covered half the distance between him and the Slytherin Captain. His determination and downright fury giving him an extra surge, Harry shot forward. Malfoy readied for the catch, only to find a trailing fist smash into ribs. Madam Hooch missed the school-rules foul committed by Harry.
As Malfoy shouted instinctively from the pain and clutched at his side, Harry raced ahead of him, unable to keep the grin off his face. The thought of what this game could give him sobered Harry somewhat, and he gripped his broom tighter.
Then a Bludger came screaming out of nowhere and thudded straight into his ribs.
Stars filled his vision for a moment as he wobbled in mid-air, clutching his torso. It felt like his whole body was consumed with fire. He swallowed painfully, the vile taste of vomit in the back of his constricted throat. With tears stinging his eyes, Harry tore through the air, angrily giving chase to a gleeful-looking Malfoy.
Harry's chest flared in pain as he crouched low over his broom, but he ignored it as best he could. He was used to agony, to raw pain, and his anger was giving him a break.
Malfoy glanced over his shoulder, sensing the presence behind him, only to have Harry's fist smash into his nose. At least two fingers on Harry's left hand broke, he was sure of it, as more pain raced up his wrist and throughout his arm.
Malfoy cried out for a foul, holding his hands against his face as his blood poured through his clenched fingers.
A shrill whistle brought only a groan from Harry, but he didn't stop his course. Seekers didn't have to stop for fouls. The only reason Seekers usually stopped when a foul occurred was because the foul had been committed to stop someone catching the Snitch or stop the chase.
"A clear foul there from Potter, but who here can say, hand on heart, that they don't wish they could do the same?" Seamus said into his microphone. "Slytherin score, by the way, as if anyone here really gives a shit."
The rest of the players, who had been watching, transfixed, started up the play again.
With more pace than Malfoy, Harry soon caught up to the Slytherin Seeker and quickly developed a lead. The Snitch sensed its time was nearly up, but even Snitches made purely for amateur games were designed to never give in and make it easy. The Snitch stopped flying wildly and opted for pure speed, something professional grade Snitches probably wouldn't do quite so early.
Harry grinned in mild amusement as Malfoy rushed towards him, radiating rage and hell-bent on taking Harry out of the game full stop. It was always the same.
In a move that Harry's favourite player and friend used to great effect, Harry relinquished control over his broom entirely. It was a move that was difficult and dangerous. Not many people knew exactly how to do it, and those who did usually lacked the confidence to try.
With his hands still held tightly on the handle, the Firebolt plummeted immediately. Malfoy gaped and shot over Harry's head. Harry didn't hang around; instead, he reasserted control of the Firebolt and zipped away.
"Merlin's sweating sodding bollocks!" Seamus shouted. "Did you see that? Did you effing see that! He's crazy, I'm telling you! Potter, I know I said this is a do-or-die match, but don't take it literally, you idiot. At least catch the Snitch first."
Harry blocked out the sound, which was easier with the wind howling past his ears, and narrowed in on the Snitch. It flew in a straight line, only turning when the curves of the Hogwarts stadium forced a change of direction. Harry was agile, that much was certain, but he was also ferociously fast.
He gained ground, pushing his broomstick to the limit. The top speed of a Firebolt was ridiculous, yet Harry managed to maintain it. The broom was known for its staying power at top speed, which was why professional teams used them.
The Snitch completed a perfect vertical drop. Malfoy came screaming in from above at that very moment and completely misjudged the angle, barrelling wildly off course and missing the Snitch entirely. Malfoy had forgone tactics and was flying wildly, something that he usually resorted to doing when losing.
The Firebolt was already directed at the perfect angle to chase the Snitch, so Harry simply flew on, ignoring the roars of the crowd urging him on. He saw his shadow zooming along on the ground, and the Snitch flapping its wings furiously just underneath his feet.
The match had been Harry's hardest that year, no doubt about it. Even as his ribs burned, his back ached, and his muscles begged for a respite, the thrill of simply playing – of flying – was still ever present. He wanted the win more than anything, though, and here was his chance.
Harry shot after the Snitch, turning upside-down in the process, and flung out his arm blindly. The cold Golden Snitch stopped fluttering the instant his hand clenched around its wings. A smile forced its way onto his face, and he held up his hand triumphantly, holding the Snitch between his forefinger and thumb.
"Yes!" Harry shouted in sheer elation.
"Yes!" Seamus echoed, his magnified voice even louder than before. "Potter's caught the Snitch! Gryffindor win! We're now unbeaten in our last- Wait, what the hell's he doing?"
Harry frowned at the abrupt change in Seamus's commenting, but he realised what his friend was talking about a moment later. From nowhere, Harry was tackled in mid-air, sent flailing wildly off his broom.
Harry roared profanities at Malfoy, who he knew without doubt had been the one to barrel into him. Luckily for Harry, he hadn't been any more than a meter off the ground, so he only landed with a dull thud on the hard earth underneath. A bony shoulder smashed into Harry's ribs, eliciting a shout of pain, before Malfoy rolled off.
In a daze, Harry grimaced and clutched his ribs, attempting to sit up. A few feet away, Malfoy clambered to his feet, a look of rage plastered on his normally stoic features. His nose was still leaking blood, mixing in with his sweat and the old blood that had already dried and crusted. Whenever he was around Harry, Malfoy had never been one to reign in his emotions, which typically consisted of hate and pure rage.
The teachers rushed down to the pitch to break up the probable fight, with Dumbledore in front, leading his staff. The students called out suggestions on what curses to use, unaware that Harry had no wand. It was a sad state of affairs when everyone was used to the fighting between Malfoy and Harry, but it had been going on for seven years now. Madam Hooch knew better than to get involved after the last time, when she had ended up with a broken nose and was unable to use her legs for the rest of the day.
Malfoy remembered he was a wizard, and a second later he pulled out his wand from inside his Quidditch robes. He pointed his wand directly at Harry's head, but Harry flung his battered body out of the way of the incoming Cutter.
With a roar of frustration, Malfoy snapped his wand across his body, sending off a torrent of fire. With a rush of air, the magical fire raced its way across the grass, instantly blackening the ground in its path. Unfortunately for the Slytherin, Harry had faced much better wizards in fights. Without the use of his wand, which Harry really regretted leaving back in the changing rooms, he sidestepped the fiercely scorching flames and charged straight at Malfoy.
Without thinking, Harry pulled back his arm and threw all of his weight behind his fist, smashing it straight into Malfoy's pale and bloodied face. Harry didn't care where he aimed, as long as it connected. It did. Malfoy's jaw cracked under Harry's knuckles, breaking both Malfoy's jaw and even more of the bones in Harry's hand. Harry hissed, flinging his hand rapidly up and down in a useless attempt to block out the pain.
The flames from Malfoy's wand stopped immediately as he collapsed, but the magical fire still burned across the field, completely out of control.
The teachers arrived at pitch-side, desperately attempting to put out the now-raging fire. Most of the students had left as soon as the game had ended, but Gryffindor's pupils had waited to see the ceremony, which left them still in the stands. Their wands accompanied the teachers' wands, sending torrents of water to contain the fire, drenching everyone in the process. The water hissed as it connected with the fire, creating thick pillars of steam.
The fire licked the wooden stands where it was looking to spread, but a cannon-blast of water from Dumbledore stopped it before it could happen. Harry watched dispassionately as the flames thinned out around him. Drenched in ice-cold water – yet feeling the searing heat from magical fire – was a feeling Harry had experienced before. He dragged himself out of harm's way, where the pitch was still green and his eyes didn't sting from the smoke, but it wasn't far enough.
"Potter!" Snape snapped. It wasn't just Draco Malfoy who lost all sense of composure around Harry, but the Potions Master as well. "What is the meaning of this?"
Harry was sure that if he had his wand, Snape would have had a fight on his hands. Instead, Harry pointed to the mumbling Malfoy, who'd been levitated out of the way by Snape's wand. "Ask that little twat. He attacked me."
"Mr Potter, I had foolishly hoped you had grown out of such antics!" Professor McGonagall chided as soon as she stopped walking, giving him stern glare. "Have you completely forgotten what we spoke about at length a little over a year ago?"
Harry held up his hands. "Hey, I'm innocent in this! Didn't you see what happened? He came barging into me and took me out. I haven't even got my wand on me!"
Professor McGonagall frowned, her eyes narrowing in on Malfoy for a split second, before she was looking at Harry again. "Come with me," she instructed, leading him across the field and out of hearing range.
Harry stopped as McGonagall turned to him, her expression unreadable. He opened his mouth to begin his protests, but McGonagall held up her hand to stall him. Without another word, the Transfiguration Professor threw up a Silencing Charm around the two of them.
"Err, what's this about, Professor?" Harry asked, starting to get a little worried.
"Your blatant fouls during the match nearly cost not just Gryffindor our trophy, but the school its stadium," McGonagall said, keeping her voice low despite the Charm.
"You can't blame that on me!" Harry said quickly.
"I am not blaming it solely on you, Potter," McGonagall said sharply. "Try to see past the differences between yourself and Mr Malfoy for just a moment. Do you realise that he is constantly trying to better everything you do? He was already wound up today. Can you see how you purposefully enraging him during the match only served to push him over the edge?"
"That still doesn't make it my fault," Harry insisted. "Can you imagine if everyone did something that stupid when they got angry? I could've burned down the whole castle over the years with what's pissed me off, but I didn't. Malfoy just hasn't got any self-control, everyone knows that."
"Which is exactly why you should know better," McGonagall said.
Harry's rubbed his sweaty palms against his robes, clenching them into fists as he took a few deep breaths to calm himself. "Why should I be responsible for his actions?"
McGonagall closed her eyes for the briefest of moments. "You know that isn't what I mean, Potter. You must be responsible for your own actions, and today you didn't stop to think about anyone other than yourself."
"How was I supposed to know he'd do something like… well, like this?" Harry said, gesturing somewhere behind him. "It's Quidditch, Professor. Not only that, but it's Gryffindor versus Slytherin. There's a foul every other minute in these matches. Everything I did has been done a million times before."
McGonagall's features softened, and she looked at him with a hint of sympathy. "I'm aware that you're attempting to live as normal a life as possible, Harry, but there are certain things you cannot do. Your role in the war cemented a deep hatred of you within Mr Malfoy. You cannot escape that. I know how much Quidditch means to you, but you know better than most that there are far more important things in life. This game may have been important to you, but it pales in significance to what it meant for Mr Malfoy."
Harry swallowed thickly, refusing to let himself feel any semblance of sympathy for someone such as Malfoy. "While I feel little more than pity for Malfoy, I won't let him dictate my life in any way. If he doesn't like something I do, or he tries to outdo me at something and fails, well, that's his shortcoming, not mine."
Before Professor McGonagall could reply, the Headmaster decided that was the right moment to intervene.
"Are you in need of any medical treatment, Harry?" Dumbledore inquired, his concern for Harry's wellbeing written all over his face.
Harry shook his head, well aware that he was holding his ribs with his good hand. "I'll be okay for now, sir."
"If you're sure," Dumbledore said, waiting for a moment to give Harry the chance to reconsider. "May I ask why you did not bring your wand with you today?"
Harry's reasoning sounded quite childish now, even to his own ears, after seeing the damage that Malfoy had caused to the pitch, which was utterly ruined.
"Professional teams aren't allowed to take their wands out on to the pitch," Harry answered with a slight shrug. "That's why I didn't apply the usual Cooling Charm over myself before the match. I was hoping to get a trial and I thought it would be good practise for a professional game."
Dumbledore hummed into his beard, looking a little humoured, which was never a good sign. "Who do you wish to sign for, Harry?"
Professor McGonagall looked quite bemused by the current conversation, but it was just the way Harry and Dumbledore had always been, especially after Harry's fourth year.
"I was hoping to play for your favourite team," Harry said, unable to stop the slight grin at just the thought.
"Ah!" Dumbledore said joyfully. "You must forgive me, Harry. I tend to forget some things in my late age. Puddlemere United would be lucky to have somebody such as yourself."
Harry smiled at the kind words from the elderly wizard.
"I'd sign for a different team if I had to," Harry said, leaving a sour taste on his tongue. "I don't particularly fancy that, though."
"I should think not," Dumbledore said. Professor McGonagall coughed pointedly, diverting Dumbledore's attention. "Has the smoke clogged your airways, Minerva?"
McGonagall sniffed, looking a little put out. "Won't you do something about this, Albus? This rivalry of theirs has gotten out of hand."
Dumbledore followed Minerva's gesturing. The other Professors were now trying to clear the thick steam that had erupted when the water had touched the fire.
"I am afraid, Harry, that Minerva will be rather cross with me if I let you escape without punishment." He looked at McGonagall. "Do not mistake me, Harry, your method of incapacitating Mr Malfoy without a wand is commendable. I would be remiss, however, to do nothing about the most flagrant blatching penalty I have seen in many a year."
"I understand, sir," Harry said with a nod. He'd expected something like that. "But I'd like to point out that I wasn't the one who instigated anything, even in the game. Malfoy can't handle losing. He was trying to injure me."
"I promise you, the matter shall be looked into. Now, if you will excuse me, Harry," Dumbledore said, bowing his head slightly. He caught up with Professor Flitwick, lending his hand at clearing the field and attempting to construct the stage for the upcoming ceremony.
Harry turned to McGonagall more in hope than anything else, only to find her watching him with an unreadable expression. Harry smiled weakly, which did nothing but invite her to begin speaking.
"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Harry had a hell of a lot of things he wanted to get off his chest, it was just figuring out where to start. He knew it probably wouldn't do him any good to wind her up today, and while his conversation with Dumbledore had left him feeling better, he was still frustrated with his Head of House.
"If I get punished that prat doesn't, I'll take it as a personal attack," Harry said, pointing at Malfoy, who was now being stretchered off the pitch to the jeers and laughter of the Gryffindor students, the only students still left in the stands.
Professor McGonagall opened to her mouth to reply when her brain caught up. "Don't be so childish, Potter!" she snapped at him, looking highly affronted at the mere suggestion that one of her students would be subjected to a personal attack.
"You know as well as I do that Snape won't do a bloody thing, and don't try to deny it," Harry said.
"The Headmaster will be dealing with both of you, I can assure you," Professor McGonagall said. "I'm sorely tempted to give you detention until the day you leave, so don't give me a reason to do so."
Harry merely smiled, although it was little too wide for Professor McGonagall. "Come on, Professor, cut me some slack. I did just win you the Cup, didn't I? For a third year in a row, no less. Four if you count my Third year when I wasn't Captain. Surely you can look past anything I do now until the end of term?"
McGonagall just shook her head wearily, her infamous stare penetrating Harry's skull. "Just when did you turn into your father, Harry?"
"Come now, Minerva," a new voice said, sounding highly amused. "It's simply the genes in him, that's all. Can you really blame the offspring?"
The stare turned from Harry and onto the new figure, who just happened to be Sirius Black, ex-con extraordinaire and Harry's Godfather. Sirius had turned up at the last four Quidditch games Harry had played, so it was no surprise to see him there.
"In case you've forgotten, the boy has Lily's genes as well, Sirius," Professor McGonagall said, then turned a critical eye on Harry. "They might be hidden deep down, but they're there somewhere."
Sirius laughed, looking utterly delighted as he made his way over to Harry, clapping him on the back in greeting. "You've seen his temper, Minerva. You know that's mostly Lily. Mind you, Lily never lost it quite so easily, unless it was directed towards James, of course. James was always laidback enough, although when he lost his temper it usually ended up in harsh pranks on whoever was stupid enough to piss him off." Sirius glanced at Harry. "Or it involved hexing anyone idiotic enough to try and hurt his family."
Harry frowned. "I don't lose my temper easily."
Sirius snorted. "Sure you do, Harry," he said. His forehead creased. "You're a bit more vicious than Lily was, though, and she could pack a punch."
McGonagall looked between the two of them and sighed. Without saying a word, she turned around and began helping the clean-up.
Sirius whistled through his teeth as he surveyed the pitch. "You know how to put on a show, kid, I'll give you that."
"You're not talking about the game, are you?" Harry asked, a small grin playing on his lips.
Sirius's grey eyes filled with mirth as they turned to Harry. "It was a good catch, but you could have caught it before you did. You should have caught it sooner."
Harry tipped his head in agreement. "I lost my temper up there."
A chuckle escaped Sirius. "You landed a couple of nice punches on that prick, didn't you?"
An irrational pride filled Harry. "You're damn right I did."
Sirius pulled out a small flask, with the word 'Padfoot' engraved on the side. Harry stared at it and Sirius stared at Harry.
"When did you get that?" Harry demanded.
Sirius lowered the flask that he'd just taken a drink from. "Your father made it," he said a touch wistfully. "He made one for all of us for Christmas in our fifth year. Of course, I called him a cheap prick for not actually buying it."
"You were an ungrateful bastard back then as well, eh?" Harry snorted, unsurprised. "And before you even think it, I don't want one for Christmas, but I'll take one any other time."
"Hey, I'm not as cheap as your father!" Sirius grumbled. "I bought you the Firebolt, didn't I? Doesn't that count for something?"
"What about all the other years of my life?" Harry asked. "You missed every Christmas, every birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, and even-"
"I was in Azkaban!"
Harry shrugged, unconcerned. "If I had a flask like that, it'd go some way in helping my recovery of your abandonment."
"Your father actually made one for you," Sirius said with a faraway look in his eyes. "He made it for your first birthday."
Harry eyed his Godfather a bit worriedly. "My father made me a flask, which is usually meant to contain whiskey, for my first birthday?"
Sirius nodded as if nothing was wrong with that statement. "Well, yeah. Lily went mental when she found out, but Prongs explained that it was tradition."
"It's a tradition to make a flask for a one year old?" Harry asked dubiously.
"We made it a tradition," Sirius explained impatiently. "I don't know where it ended up, though. I'll have to have a look for it, but there aren't many of your parents' possessions left now."
As Sirius pondered the mystery of what had happened to Harry's baby flask, Harry was about to ponder on how his father's parenting skills would have worked on him. Before he could delve into the mess that would have been, Sirius turned to him.
"You would have loved the Quidditch games back when your father and I were here, you know." Sirius nodded, glancing up at the Gryffindor students. "We used to have a hell of time. Your dad was Captain as well, but I think you're a better player than he was, and Prongs really could play. Your mum used to say she hated watching him, but she never missed a game."
The thought of his parents in their Hogwarts days wasn't something Harry really thought about. There were a number of pictures he had of them in his possession, but he still couldn't imagine them roaming the same halls he'd walked for the last seven years.
"What's gotten you into such a soppy mood?" Harry asked, grinning as he nudged Sirius in the arm.
"Must be this place," Sirius said. "The best years of my life were spent here."
"Don't worry, you've got me now," Harry said, trying to sound serious but it came out in quite a mocking tone.
Sirius glared at him half-heartedly. "Prat."
Harry chuckled, but before he could respond, he received a tap on the shoulder.
"Nice flying, Potter!" Fred Weasley shouted, suddenly pulling Harry into an unwanted hug, which lifted him up off his feet. Considering he and the Weasley twins were roughly the same height, it was quite a feat. His ribs flared with pain again, apparently having the ability to cause his whole body to burn.
"Merlin, when did you get so strong?" Harry demanded with a groan. "You can put me down when you like, by the way. I think my ribs are broken and you're not doing anything to help."
Fred lowered him, only for his brother, George, to pull Harry into another hug.
"Oof!" Harry grunted, thankfully not being lifted up into the air this time. "Seriously guys, what's up with all the damn hugging?"
"To be fair, Harry, you did ask Fred when he got so strong," Sirius said happily. "George probably felt the need to prove his masculinity, isn't that right, George?"
Unlike George, who nodded at Sirius, Harry wasn't quite able to follow that line of thought, so he settled on keeping his mouth shut and sent a glare at his Godfather. Not that it did any good, as Sirius smirked and took another sip out his flask.
"I just figured you hadn't had a nice hug off our mum in a while," Fred said with a gleam in his eye. "Now that you mention it, though, I have been working out. Jealous, Potter?"
In fact, Harry was jealous, so he kept his mouth shut. Unsurprisingly, Sirius was the first to crack up laughing at the look on Harry's face.
"Hey, how come you complimented him and not me, Harry?" George whined.
"Are you really that strong?" Sirius asked, lifting George's sleeve up onto his shoulder to inspect his bicep. Sirius pulled back, lifting his own sleeve.
"Where do you train?" Sirius asked after noticing the less than impressed looks. "I reckon I could get back on track within a year with a body like yours."
Nobody had to ask what he meant by getting back on track. Sirius took it as a personal endeavour to sleep with as many women as possible. He'd had a fairly impressive record back in his school days, and not a bad tally out of Hogwarts. However, he hadn't had too much luck since his breakout, something he was eagerly looking to rectify. According to him, prostitutes didn't count, although that didn't stop him blowing his money on them. Harry idly wondered what his childhood would have been like with Sirius and his father around.
"At our training ground," Fred answered slowly. "You know, at Puddlemere's facilities, where we're usually stuck all week."
"It beats a normal job, though, so we can't complain." George shrugged.
"We train at home sometimes as well," Fred said. "The gaffer likes it when we keep up with our training during the summer, and it becomes a bit of a habit, I guess."
"You can come round and join us, unless you're afraid we'll show you up," George offered, raising his eyebrows challengingly to Sirius.
Sirius puffed out his chest. "You just give me a time and Harry and I will be there."
"Hey!" Harry objected. "Why're you dragging me into this?"
Sirius looked pointedly at Harry's arms. "You need it, Potter. I'm surprised you can lift your bloody broom with arms as scrawny as those."
Harry was the only one not to laugh. He surreptitiously glanced at his arms. They weren't that small, or at least he'd thought so until the Weasley twins had shown their faces. He knew he shouldn't compare, but he'd never felt so puny before, and he'd grown up with Dudley Dursley. Fred and George were no bodybuilders, but there was hardly an ounce of fat on them.
"How come you're here today, anyway?" Harry asked, deciding to try and ignore the feeling of inadequacy.
The twins glanced at each other in that secret way which only twins were capable of achieving. Sirius's forehead crinkled as he watched them.
"I'm afraid we shouldn't answer that at the moment," George said solemnly.
"We will anyway, though," Fred continued, his usual mischievous smile fully in place. "We're here with Phil. We were, anyway, he left a few minutes ago. Ollie's been banging on about how he reckons Phil should try and sign you up. Honestly, he's been talking about it ever since we reminded him you were in your last year in this place."
"Course, Phil hadn't seen you play before," George said. "We told him you were completely bonkers on a broom."
Harry's shoulders dropped a tad. "Damn it, I've probably blown it."
"Why?" Sirius asked, looking at Harry like he was mad.
"You saw what happened after I caught the Snitch." Harry seethed. "That prick started having a go, didn't he? I swear, I've got a good mind to go and wallop him again."
Fred chuckled and looked like he wouldn't mind doing the same thing. "I haven't got a clue why that happened in the match would blow your chances, Harry. Assaulting the little twat after the game probably wouldn't do you any favours, though."
Sirius nodded in complete agreement. "You've been to a few professional games with me. Remember last time, when these two started a brawl that lasted ten minutes?"
The twins looked distinctly proud at that.
"He's right, Harry," Fred said. "I think you'll get an offer of at least a trial after today. It wasn't bad for an amateur match, and I think you could handle it in the league if you trained hard enough."
"Honestly, Phil doesn't care too much about defending ourselves," George said. "He doesn't like it when we start a fight because that can be avoided. Everyone can see you have potential, though, just don't go signing for a rival team."
Hearing it said from the twins gave Harry a little confidence in his chances. "Well, here's to hoping, eh?"
Sirius lifted his flask to salute Harry.
"I'd best warn you now," Fred started. "If you don't take it seriously, or don't work hard enough, you won't go far in a professional team."
George nodded seriously. "We hated it at first. The constant training in the gym and the long days out on the pitch killed us. It was worse than the training Ollie used to put us through here. The trials are the easiest part, and they were harder than anything we had to do here. That's probably the main reason we keep up with our training in the summer. If we didn't, we'd be absolutely knackered in the first few weeks of a new season."
An unfamiliar feeling settled in Harry's gut, something that he couldn't quite place. "Well," he stated, "nothing has happened yet, so I'd best not get my hopes up too much."
Harry's hopes were already high, though, and he couldn't do a thing to bring his dreams back down to earth.
"Anyway," George said, grinning again. "We also wanted to come and see you lift the Cup, so get up there, Captain." George nodded behind Harry, who turned around to see the rest of his team waiting for him near the platform. Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore were on the actual platform, the Cup held between them, looking expectantly towards Harry.
Harry held up his hands apologetically. "Right, I'd best go and enjoy this. I'll see you two soon, hopefully."
"See you soon, Boy Wonder!" Fred said, he and George smiling a touch too brightly and waving over-enthusiastically.
"Enjoy your last few weeks as much as you can, whatever you do," Sirius said, giving Harry a one-armed hug, otherwise known as a manly greeting or goodbye. He slipped something in Harry's pocket before he pulled back. "Have a drink on me, okay?"
Harry grinned. "You bet I will," he said, nodding goodbye to the twins before turning tail and running to his team.
"Congratulations, Harry," Dumbledore said as Harry stepped onto the stage, handing the Cup over to him with a completely biased smile.
Harry glanced at his reflection in the trophy, noticing he looked a little more than simply roughed up. His hair was messier than usual, strands sticking to his forehead. There were smudges of dirt along his neck and covering his cheek and nose, and along his chin was a line of dried blood.
Complete elation filled him a moment later, as he realised what he'd achieved. It wasn't a big thing in the grand scheme of his life, but it was something he'd worked hard for. With a bright smile, Harry raised the Cup in the air for the third year in a row.
Amidst the wild cheering, Harry passed the Cup on to Ron, before he tapped his pocket, his eyes lighting up when he recognised what was inside. Sirius had slipped him some whiskey. It was going to be a hell of night in the Gryffindor common room.