Disclaimer: I do NOT own Harry Potter or Eyeshield 21 or any of the affiliated characters. What I do own is a kick ass Ash Ketchum hat and a collection of gold medal winning maple syrup. Neither of which will appear in this story.
Warnings: OC's, some OOC, Het, Slash, AU, fluff, language
The Fifth Tackle
"Snap!" Dean cried as he slammed his hand down on the cards before they exploded. It was the single most intense game of Exploding Snap Harry had ever played in his life and with each new card the tension grew higher and higher. So far Neville was winning, but Dean, Seamus and Harry were not going to take that lying down. Their manly pride was riding on this game and no one was going to relent.
"Your wand! Use your wand!" Harry yelled at his friend. The smoking would only stop when the tip of a wand touched the cards.
"Ah!" Dean fumbled for his wand but the wood slipped through his fingers and rolled across the table. The four boys stared at the wand before directing their eyes towards the cards. A deep sense of dread settled in their bellies as the smoking pile exploded, putting an end to their game.
As the smoke cleared from their corner of the pub, Neville cleared his throat. "So…does that mean I win?" He asked.
"Indeed it does my friend, indeed it does," Seamus answered him.
Harry looked around and took in his friend soot covered faces and felt a laugh bubble inside him and quickly leave his mouth. He couldn't believe how his friends looked, all dirty and slightly surprised. It was a funny sight and Harry laughed for the first time that summer. It wasn't his normal nervous giggle, or his placating chuckles, but a heartfelt pure laughter that can only be brought about when one is truly happy.
Seamus looked at him and grinned before joining in and soon the other two followed. Dean, ever the responsible one, gathered himself first, "I think we should head up to Harry's room and clean up now."
This was all part of a plan, well not the laughing bit, but the cards and washing up. Harry snuck out of the pub and found a callbox down the street. He called Dean and the other boy told him about taking Harry and Seamus around London and also to get Harrys passport pictures done. Harry had been excited but reminded Dean that technically Harry wasn't allowed in muggle London, so they had plotted and planned until they came up with the perfect plan.
Mrs. Thomas and Finnigan would drop their sons off for the day and then they would make it very noticeable to Tom that they were going to Harry's room. Once there, they would slip under Harry's invisibility cloak and sneak out of the pub. The plans had changed a little when Harry got a reply from Neville and asked the boy if he would like to join. Neville had convinced his grandmother to leave him with Harry and the boys for the day, but didn't tell her about muggle London. It was the single most daring thing he had ever done lying to his grandmother like that.
Now the four were huddled together under Harry's cloak, faces scrubbed clean, and anxiously waiting for someone to enter through the muggle entrance. There must be a universal law out there, with some fancy scientist names attached, that stated when you wanted something to happen it didn't, because Harry felt like they were waiting by the door forever before it finally opened and emitted a girl and her parents.
Seamus opened his mouth to say something but Dean quickly slapped his hand over the Irish boy's mouth to stop him. Harry couldn't get a clear view of the people, so instead of wondering what was happening he was gently pushing his friends through the door and out into the muggle world before the door closed completely and they had to endure another long wait.
"That was close! Harry did you invite Hermione to see you today?" Dean asked once they cleared The Cauldron.
"No… why?" Harry asked.
"Well she…" Seamus trailed off before he shook his head. "Never mind let's just get going."
Harry was curious about Seamus' behavior but let it slide as there was a whole city out there for him to explore. Small quivers of excitement surged through his body at the thought, and Harry ushered his friends down the street and away from the pub. He could feel it in his bones that something thrilling was going to happen and the faster they travelled the sooner it would occur.
"I've always wanted to explore London, where should we start?" He asked, barely keeping himself from running.
London was amazing. Harry vowed that when he was an adult he would strive to live in the bustling city. There was so much to do between the all the street artists and vendors. Dean had been an expert at using the tube to get around, and had taken the group to some of the best sights. Neville had been utterly enchanted with every park they passed, but had been enraptured by the sight of the London Eye. For a boy who had been scared hovering two feet from the ground on a broom, Neville had surprisingly wanted to ride the attraction. When pressed on the situation Neville admitted he didn't mind heights, he was fine in the tower after all, it's just didn't feel safe trusting a thin stick of wood to keep him off the ground.
"-It's just so flimsy looking, and my gran can tell you, I ain't that skinny. Floating on that broom scared me so badly," Neville explained.
"You were barely two feet from the ground," Seamus pointed out.
Neville gave the Irish boy a stubborn look, "My Uncle Algie told me that the only wood I should trust between my legs is the one I'm born with and sometimes even that one acts funny."
That shut Seamus up. How could you argue wisdom like that?
After that, the four boys continued having fun and joking around. Only after they had left a poor street vendor sweating after feeding four hungry growing boys, did they remember they had gone to London for a purpose. When they finally got around to Harry's passport photo, Dean had to reassure Harry by telling him that everyone looks terrible in their photo. How could they not when you weren't allowed to smile?
"I'm just saying some vindictive witch or wizard must have cursed the photo taking process. You can enter looking all primped and proper but as soon as that camera goes your hairs a mess, your complexion off, and you look about two levels dumber than you started. That's not natural! Some evil magic must be at work there."
Just before the dinner hour, after the group expended most of their energy and money, Harry spotted something that caught his attention. Through the window of an electronics store Harry could see a group of people watching several televisions that were broadcasting an American football game. Curious, Harry wandered into the shop to take a closer look.
He never watched an actual American football game because Uncle Vernon would rag on about how the Americans had taken the honourable name of football and applied it to their hybrid rubbish. How no self-respecting Brit would watch a game where pansies wore pads and threw a rugby ball around. He would rant about points, helmets, and structure before finishing the rant with his favourite line "The only sport worse than American Football is Baseball!"
Harry couldn't share his opinion since he knew nothing of the sport beyond the basics: One team is on offense, one team on defense, throw the ball, ball in the end zone equals points. Beyond that Harry hadn't cared much, but now that he knew his brother played the sport, Harry decided it was time to make a more invested interest. Putting an effort into understanding his brother's hobbies would only help him in the future when they met. It would show that he was willing to try and wanted to make a relationship between them work. Harry remembered hearing a quote that once said that in order to make dreams become a reality it took dedication, determination, self-discipline, and effort. Harry was going to live by that.
Walking up to the telly, Harry tried to understand what was happening. What he could tell was that it was at the end of the game as the clock read 10 seconds, the blue team was winning with 33 points, while the white team only had 29 points. The crowd was screaming as the white team had the ball, but Harry didn't see them winning. With 10 seconds left it was impossible for the white team to get the ball into the end zone five times to get enough points to win. Wondering why the fans around him looked so anxious, Harry decided to keep watching.
The white team lined up, with the man in the middle holding the ball. The quarterback yelled 'Hut' he grabbed the ball between the middle guys' legs and took a step back. He brought his arm up and threw the ball to the other white player in the end zone but the ball touched the white guy's fingers and went out. No points and eight seconds left and the clock stopped. Harry wondered about that. In footy the clock didn't stop.
The white team huddled together, the QB said something they clapped their hands and went to line up again. Harry thought they looked exactly the same as the last time which didn't make sense since they failed to get a point last time. Why didn't they change formation or something? Watching closing the QB got the ball, took a step back, and threw it in a quick pass but the receiver fumbled it in his hands again and it hit the ground. The clock stopped on six seconds. The man beside Harry clenched his fists and started muttering under his breath "Come on! You can catch for days in practice but when you need just one touchdown you drop the ball? What is this?" He muttered to himself.
Harry looked around to see the other people also talking to themselves or saying derogatory comments to the guy who dropped the ball. They all seemed upset or frustrated with him. Again Harry didn't understand why. What did it matter if he dropped the ball? Even if he caught it there was no way he could run in and out of the end zone enough times to beat the blue team. Feeling someone behind him, Harry turned to see that his three dorm-mates had joined the group and were watching the screen. Seamus and Dean seemed to know what was happening but Neville looked just as confused as him.
The announcer made a comment about running the ball and Harry was back to watching the white team line up again. The ball went to the QB, he stepped back, and suddenly Harry saw something amazing. The white players that were lined up with the middle guy pushed and created a hole in front of the QB, the QB held the ball off to the side and a white player came running up from behind him and grabbed the ball to run it through the hole and straight to the end zone just as the clock ran out. "Touchdown!" Seamus yelled excitedly as the people around Harry cheered and to Harry's amazement the score changed to 35-33, the white team won, and Harry found his arms in the arm and his voice cheering with the rest of the crowd, all caught in in the celebratory atmosphere. Watching the score change he felt a wave of relief go through him which surprised him more since he didn't even realize he was anxious for the white team to win as well.
Thinking about it, Harry didn't think he was actually anxious, but more caught up in the crowd, feeling their joy at the win. It made him feel something… something warm and cozy inside as she watched the clock run out and the white team celebrate. It was a new feeling since Harry never though himself as a sports fan before, but he could see why people paid money to go see athletes play. If this is how he felt in a small crowd, he couldn't imagine the feelings he would get if he watched his team play and win in a stadium full of fans.
He really needed to learn more about this sport. Setting his face into one full of determination, Harry turned to his Dean and Seamus and asked them seriously, "Can you teach me this sport?"
Seamus laughed a little and shook his head. "Sorry mate, but I don't know much about it meself."
"I don't either, just the basic stuff," Dean admitted.
The man beside Harry, who had been muttering to himself, interrupted them. "Son, if you want to learn there are plenty of ways. Your P.E teacher should know the rules, or watching a few games on the telly will get you familiar, but if you want to know absolutely everything-" Harry nodded his head eagerly,"- than I suggest you go to a bookstore and buy yourself a guide book. They are fairly cheap and easy to read."
Harry profusely thanked the man before dragging his friends from the electronics store and back into the street to search for a bookstore, "One last stop and then we can go get dinner, okay guys?"
No one objected and Harry carried out his mission.
Clutching the American Football Guide to his chest, Harry snuck back into The Leaky Cauldron and was surprised to see the whole Weasley family and Hermione taking up the tables in the middle. Mrs. Weasley looked worried, while Percy and Ron looked upset about something. Hermione looked angry, and the twins seemed positively ecstatic about something.
As careful as they could, the four boys snuck up the stairs under the cloak but stopped short when they saw Ginny waiting outside Harry's door. That would be a problem. Backing away slowly, the four ducked into the bathroom to talk.
"What do we do?" Harry asked.
Dean frowned as he thought deeply while Seamus shrugged his shoulders. Surprisingly it was Neville that had an idea. "How 'bout we walk in from the alley and pretend we were there the whole time?"
"Neville you genius of a man, you!" Seamus whispered as he grabbed Neville's face and planted a big sloppy kiss on the pudgy boy's cheek. "Where ever would be without you?"
"Seamus get off me!" Neville hissed and he pushed the friendly Irish boy away.
Harry laughed at the interaction before tossing the cloak over them again and sneaking out.
When they re-entered the pub, making it look like they had been on the magical side, Mrs. Weasley rushed him and grabbed him up in a bone-crushing hug. "Harry!" She cried. "Oh we looked all over for you but we couldn't find you? Where were you? Not in Knockturn Alley I hope," She said as she pulled away from him and wagged a threatening finger in his face.
"Of course not Mrs. Weasley," Harry tried to placate the woman. Before he could utter more reassurances, Harry was captured in a hug while someone else pounded him on the back.
"Harry!" Ron and Hermione cried.
"Hey guys, I didn't know you were coming," Harry said as he smiled weakly. How was he going to explain everything that happened since his birthday?
Harry decided the simplest thing to do was not tell them a thing. It would be less of a headache that way.
September first rolled around and after having endured Molly Weasley's very watchful eye, Harry couldn't wait to get back to Hogwarts. The morning was chaotic as all the Weasley children fussed and fumbled with their luggage, while Hermione lectured a harassed Ron about proper packing the night before. Harry watched it all as he sat on top of his trunk, keeping Hedwig safe next to him. When everyone was finally ready, Mr. Weasley opened the doors and revealed some Ministry cars waiting to take them to the station. Harry didn't question it, he was just happy to have a way to Kings Cross.
The car ride was fun but soon enough they were on platform 9 and ¾'s. Harry looked around and spotted Dean and Seamus fast enough and made his way over to thank Mrs. Thomas for all her help over the summer, and to thank Mrs. Finnigan for letting Seamus visit so often. All bags and trunks were loaded, goodbyes were said, and as Mr. Weasley tried pulling Harry away Mrs. Finnigan stepped in and glared at the man. "You'll make him miss the train! Try to be responsible!" She scolded. Harry was ushered on the train and as it pulled away he was pulled into a compartment with Dean, Seamus, Ron, Hermione and Ginny.
"I can't believe we're going back already!" Hermione cheered. "I read all the course books of course and I can't wait to start classes. I was looking at my Runes textbook and the material seems so interesting Did you know that you can use Runes in places of spells? For example a rune for light could be connected to a torch and when touched with a wand it will light the torch and keep it burning for as long as you like?"
"Hermione!" Ron groaned. "We just got on the bloody train, how can you be so excited for classes already?"
"Honestly Ronald, just because you don't want to listen to fascinating things about Runes doesn't mean the others don't, right Harry? You want to hear more about them right?" Hermione focused her attention on him. Harry froze in her intense stare. Honestly, he didn't care. He didn't take the class so he didn't see why he should be interested, but he didn't want to hurt Hermione's feelings either.
"Hermione, you're the only one in our year from Gryffindor that took that class. No one cares about it," Seamus announced.
Hermione looked affronted at his words. "Seamus! I can't be the only one. Dean did you take Runes?" Dean shook his head and Hermione let out a sigh. "But it's such an interesting subject. I'm sure that if you all just read a little about the class then you would be as eager as I am to take it."
Harry decided to step in before they were subjected to an entire train ride about Runes. "Hermione, vacation barely just ended, none of us have our heads in the right place. Give us some time to switch back to school mode and I'm sure Runes will seem more interesting to us then." Harry was going for pleadingly political.
Hermione sighed again but sat back and gave up on her quest. "I suppose. Anyways Harry, how was your summer? We didn't have much of a chance to talk."
Harry smiled. "It was good. I learned loads of stuff about the wizarding world and stuff."
Hermione gave him a warm smile. "That's good. I was so worried when I heard that you blew up your aunt, but I guess I should have known you would be fine. Ron wrote to me saying you never responded to his letter and this his mother was worried so we all showed up, but you weren't there and that just made Molly worry more… how could you be so irresponsible?"
"Hermione would you lay off the guy? If I got to spend my summer in Diagon Alley I would forget to write too. I mean think of all the stores you could go to and how much time he got to admire the new Firebolt. I wish I could get one, it would be so cool." Ron started wandering into his own fantasies.
"Right…" Harry stared between his two best friends and saw another fight coming on. Thinking quickly, Harry scooted closer to Dean. "So did you guys read that book about American Football? I'm curious as to why the Canadian League has a different amount of Downs compared to the American League."
Seamus grinned and leaned forward. "I read that too but I didn't care once I got to the chapter about penalties. Horse collars, head tackles, holding… man you can foul the other team in so many ways."
"I can see the reason for all the protective gear…" Neville added. The four boys all nodded in agreement while Ron and his sister gave them bewildered looks.
"Whatcha goin' on 'bout?" Ron asked with a small bit of annoyance in his voice.
Seamus took the lead and placed a hand on the ginger's shoulder. "A noble sport, born to a breed of men more fierce and barmy than you can imagine."
"A sport where agility, strategy, and skill is compared for 60 minutes under the building pressure of the audience," Dean supported.
"A true challenge of one's manhood," Neville added, looking solemn at the announcement.
Harry finished it off. "It's played on a battlefield of 100 pains."
Hermione huffed and sat back with her arms crossed. "It's just a silly muggle sport."
Harry and his brothers in arms gasped at her statement, completely scandalized. How dare she! They didn't say Runes was a silly wizard class did they?
"It's okay lads!" Seamus cried. "They don't have a sports section in the library, she wouldn't know the blasphemy she has so ignorantly uttered today."
As one, the four sent Hermione pitying looks. If only she knew… but she didn't so for now they were going to send her hurt looks and carry on their conversation. She would learn in time.
Fun Football Fact:
In 1910, a football team was penalized 15 yards for an incomplete forward pass.