Notes - Did I surprise anyone with this update? Second-to-last, not including the epilogue.
The game had almost been a disaster. Harper hadn't showed up, so Ollerton was taking his place as Seeker and Bletchley was off the bench and in a bad mood. Warrington, the git, had hexed Ron, taking him out of the game with no consequences since Slytherin didn't have their reserve. That meant Creevey had to play as Keeper. He was good but nervous; he'd never played that position in a game before. Harry had expected any number of things to go wrong.
But it had worked out well. Ollerton and Creevey were both talented and came out of reserve with just as much skill and even more enthusiasm than the listed players. Ollerton had taken off after the Snitch a couple of times, and feinted more than once, convincingly. She was actually more of a threat than Harper had been. Creevey moved around too much at the goalposts, but successfully kept the Slytherins from scoring any points. Ten minutes in and the score was 30-0 with Gryffindor in the lead.
Ginny threw the Quaffle clear across the pitch and Thomas caught it, scoring a clean goal and causing Bletchley to swear enough for Madam Hooch to call a foul and give Coote a free shot with a Bludger. He was clearly tempted to send it at Bletchley, but instead chose Warrington as his target, who swung at it wildly and sent it straight into Vaisey.
But just as Gryffindor was feeling confident, Draco came swooping in with Montague behind him and Urquhart positioned at the other end of the pitch. He got the Quaffle from Ginny and did a bit of back-and-forth with Montague, finally getting it to Urquhart, who did not go for a goal like everyone was expecting, but pulled back at the last second and sent it to Vaisey, who got it back to Draco, who got it past Creevey who had fallen easily for their play. He hi-fived Vaisey, smirking. He glanced up at Harry and they gave a little wave to each other before flying in different directions.
Harry didn't want to catch the Snitch just yet. If they were going to win he wanted it to be spectacular. Both he and Draco had trained hard for this, and Adeline and Gaspard were watching in one of the towers. He wanted to make it count. But if he wasn't careful Ollerton would catch the Snitch when he was looking the other way. So he kept an eye out for it, did some manoeuvres to make her think he was after it, and waited for the Gryffindors to get a score he could feel proud of.
50-20, Bletchley had really wised up. Some nice work by Warrington with a Bludger and Robins dropped the Quaffle, letting Urquhart score another goal. 50-30, Creevey flew quickly but just not quickly enough, this was why he should stay still and conserve his energy. He gave Harry an apologetic look, and Harry smiled back at him. He was trying his best.
A brilliant play by Thomas and Robins, Harry wanted to know when they'd been working on it because he'd never seen it before, two goals near at once. 70-30, Creevey kept the Quaffle out again and avoided a Bludger sent his way. 90-30, a repeat by the Chasers, who knew they could pull it off a second time? Bletchley bashed into Robins when she flew close to him and another foul was called. A free shot at the goals. Unfortunately Thomas was distracted at the last second and missed the hoops. That was fine. They could afford to make one or two mistakes.
Harry flew after the Snitch, passing Ginny who grinned at him, proud of herself and her team. He lost it and rose up above the pitch again. Slytherin scored another goal, smashing Creevey into a post in the process. No foul was called but Creevey looked a little shaken. 90-40, Peakes rallied a Bludger with Coote and sent it at Draco, but it was intercepted by Vaisey, whose aim seemed to have improved since practice. The tail of Ginny's broom was hit and she spiralled. It was a smooth recovery but the Slytherins scored again. They were catching up.
Ollerton went after the Snitch with a speed she hadn't shown before, and Harry caught up with her, obscuring her vision just long enough for the ball to flutter away. She frowned at him and he smiled in apology. A good-natured girl, out of place in Slytherin, she smiled back.
90-80, Bletchley hit the Quaffle back at someone and another foul was called. Draco was warned that if he acted up again it would be an immediate forfeit. After a quick talk with his captain Bletchley was more subdued. In a rare show of initiative, Urquhart set up a shot at the goal for Montague, bringing the two teams up to a tie. This was more challenging than Harry had anticipated. Strength worked for the Slytherins, against all reason.
There was a commotion in one of the stands. It seemed that Harper had turned up, to be abused by all his housemates. After a minute they went back to chanting, having pulled Harper's green jumper off him and waved it about as a flag. Montague scored another goal which put Slytherin in the lead. Warrington was basking in the attention of the fans and didn't notice a Bludger collide with Urquhart, who fell a short way in the air before recovering. Draco shouted at him.
When Gryffindor took back the lead, Harry would try to catch the Snitch. Half an hour into the game was the point when people started to tire and make mistakes. Particularly if they'd been beaten as much as they had today. Peakes and Coote were still in good form and saved Robins from a Bludger. As a Beater he should have known better than to let his guard down, but Vaisey was hit by the other Bludger and wrenched forward. He looked hurt but didn't say anything. Harry knew he wouldn't be much use for the rest of the game.
Ginny raced across the pitch with the Quaffle herself, hoping that Bletchley would underestimate her. He didn't and it was tossed back to the middle. Draco grabbed it and scored another goal. Creevey looked stressed that the Slytherins were winning and that was affecting his performance. 90-110, Robins tricked Urquhart into sending the Quaffle to Thomas. 100-110, Ginny went one-on-one with Draco and came out the winner. 110-110, a Bludger hit Montague just as he was about to shoot for a goal. The Quaffle went from Robins to Ginny to Thomas and back to Robins who got it past Bletchley. 120-110 with a lead for the Gryffindors. Time to catch the Snitch.
As if it sensed the end of the game was drawing near, the Snitch glimmered at one side of the pitch. Harry signalled to Ollerton – wanting to give the girl a fair chance, she'd played so well and on a broom that was even older than her – and tore after it, the wind whistling past his ears. The cheers of the crowd faded out as he focused on the winged ball. He passed Vaisey and Draco, too quickly to communicate anything to them and too intent on catching the Snitch to do it anyway. In this moment it was all he cared about.
At least until Ollerton picked up behind him, veering left and right in an effort to throw him off. When that didn't work she drew up beside him and reached out for the Snitch herself. Harry's arm was already outstretched. A tower was coming up ahead of them but they ignored it. Ollerton waited until the last minute to pull away, but Harry waited to the last second, and was rewarded with the familiar feel of the Snitch in his hands. He circled the pitch with it outstretched and the Gryffindors in the stands burst out into cheering.
The win was announced, 280-110 to Gryffindor. The players landed on the pitch, with Madam Pomfrey rushing over to Vaisey, Urquhart, Ginny and Creevey, the people who had been seriously hit during the game. Ron came over with her to celebrate the win with them. Thomas was beaming. Robins hugged Creevey, who blushed. There were hi-fives and handshakes and excited conversation going on all around. A few of the Slytherins offered words of congratulation. Bletchley went off to look for Harper, who could expect to be in the infirmary sometime soon.
Draco came straight over to Harry and flung his arms around his neck. Harry hugged him back, laughing. They kissed once, twice, a longer third time, and Harry touched their heads together, even as Draco turned to look at someone else. He grinned like an idiot. Winning was so much better when he had someone to share it with. Although his team had lost Draco congratulated him wholeheartedly. It had been a game for both sides to be proud of – granted, with more fouls than you could really be happy with and injuries across the board.
He kissed Draco's hair and released him, going to hug Ron, whose head had returned to its normal size. Ginny came over and he was about to tell her all the things that she'd done right when there came a scream from one of the towers. Heart sinking, he turned to see which one.
It was Adeline's.