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Harry continued leading the DA meetings throughout the winter term. Sometimes though, the younger Gryffindor boy seemed so sullen and moody, even with his friends and housemates. He seemed very preoccupied with the recent escape from Azkaban prison of Bellatrix Lestrange together with nine other deatheaters, all of them extremely dangerous witches and wizards incarcerated for appalling crimes.

Both Jeff and Nick noticed that Harry and Cho Chang had become much closer during this time and appeared to have become boyfriend and girlfriend. Jeff didn't think badly of Cho finding a new romantic interest after Cedric, but he couldn't help feeling sad that his friend was no longer around as her boyfriend.

Jeff ceased his thoughts on this as he leant forward on the hard wooden bench and slipped his feet first into his thick socks and then into his quidditch boots. He carefully pulled the laces tight through the many eyelets before tying a double bow and strapping the leather buckle around the top securely. He wiggled his toes to check for comfort and then, once he was satisfied, stood up.

The way he dressed before a big game was almost a ritual now. The blond boy fondly picked up the leather quidditch gloves Cedric had bought him for his 17th birthday. He would wear this pair until they literally fell apart. He smiled softly at the memory of a quidditch uniform-clad Cedric willing him to win for their house as he slipped them on and fastened them tight.

He brought his hands up to his face, kissed the brown leather once, clapped his hands together and yelled out, "Let's do this!" into the charged air of the changing room. His teammates yelled a "Yeah!", fistpumping in reply as they readied themselves too.

He finished placing his Hufflepuff colours over his head and selected his own broom from the rack by the door. He followed his teammates out into the cold, crisp, January air walking down towards the quidditch pitch in the grounds. He fell into step beside Trent, who smiled at him excitedly from beneath the Keeper's extra padded headgear.

On their way they sang a few chants about "Hufflepuff's gonna win!" to pump up their emotions and get the adrenalin going. Fans followed in a gaggle next to them, girls giggling and flirting while boys yelled encouragement.

When they got to the pitch, they lined up next to their opponents, ready to play. This was an important match for house points, since so far Gryffindor had beaten a vicious, often foul-tempered Slytherin team, whilst Hufflepuff had clinically despatched a valiant Ravenclaw attack. This meant both teams were level on points.

Jeff had a mixture of emotions over this match.

He wanted to win for Hufflepuff house, but since Nick had made first-team Keeper for Gryffindor, that meant going head to head. Nick was training Ron Weasley for the Keeper role, primarily since this was Nick's final school year and they would therefore need a replacement eventually, but for the moment the younger Gryffindor was in the position of beater. That probably meant a few matches where Nick would move aside to give Ron practice, but not today.

They had discussed it beforehand and agreed that they would not play any favouritism during matches, but this was the first time it would be tested during a match. Jeff didn't want quidditch to cause any friction between him and Nick.

Jeff was at the front of the Hufflepuff line and Nick was at the end of the Gryffindor one, since they lined up in position order. This forced separation from his boyfriend helped with the pre-match competitive mindset, but Jeff couldn't help turning to wink at him as they waited. He also couldn't help lingering his gaze as he appreciated just how good the former Durmstrang boy looked in quidditch gear, in full leather strapping for his position as Keeper.

He must have been caught staring too long, as the unmistakable Weasley twins' voices could suddenly be heard over the restless boot scrapes of the waiting teams. "Hey Jeff! Make sure you shoot through your boyfriend's hoops on the pitch not just off it or you'll get kicked off your team!" Jeff blushed ten shades of crimson as his team laughed along with the twins.

Nick winked before answering loudly. "Not if I have any say about that, but off the pitch, any time babe!"

Jeff laughed and threw a wink back at Nick as the rest of their teams tried not to think of them having sex.

A roar went up from the crowd at that moment and the doors to the pitch swung open. Summerby was the new Hufflepuff Seeker after Cedric, so he kicked off first, followed by Jeff and the rest of their team, with Trent at the rear as Keeper.

They circled the stadium, gratefully receiving the cheers of their fans and houses. Thad was frantically waving his black and yellow scarf as he waved at his friends from the stands. Trent caught his eye and waved back before getting into position.

Then it was Gryffindor's turn as Harry led them in with Nick bringing up the rear. The brunet blew a kiss to Jeff as he deliberately flew past fast enough to ruffle Jeff's robes and muss his hair before settling in front of Gryffindor's hoops.

Madam Hooch signalled the start of the match from the pitch below and the balls were loosed. The commentator started talking excitedly and the match was on.

It was evident immediately that this would be a tight match. Each team took turns in skillfully maintaining possession before numerous failed tries at goals kept out by Trent and Nick respectively, each fierce in their defence of their hoops.

Half an hour in and an accidental foul by George Weasley led to Jeff zooming straight at Nick. He took aim with the quaffle and looked to have scored before Nick got a hand to it at the last second. The Hufflepuff crowd roared with disappointment and cheers rang out from the Gryffindor spectators.

Possession immediately went back to Gryffindor and their Chaser, Angelina Johnson, scored to a deafening roar. Trent collected himself from the disappointment of allowing the first goal and quickly returned the quaffle to Hufflepuff possession.

After a couple more failed attempts at goal, Jeff saw Nick momentarily slip his grip on his broom as one of his own team's Beaters backed into him so he took no chances and zoomed straight in for a goal. The deafening roar and score announcement told him he'd succeeded and he fist pumped in delight.

A fraction of a second later, his mind caught up that he'd just scored against Nick. For the first time in a real match, any way. Worried, he glanced back at Nick as he resumed his position, but was happy to see Nick shrug and nod at him good-naturedly. Jeff heaved a sigh of relief and continued his pursuit of the quaffle.

Meanwhile, Harry and Summerby were locked in a steep dive to the pitch, before pulling up just short of the grass and flying extremely close to the ground around the edge near the spectator booths. The teams above carried on trying to score to break the even points on the board, whilst keeping an interest on their Seekers below. Not many matches were won by the golden snitch being caught, but then not many Seekers were as talented or as lucky as Harry Potter seemed to be.

Sure enough, Harry caught the snitch and the game was over, Gryffindor had won.


Since Thad was a fellow Hufflepuff, he was allowed into the boys' changing room to congratulate and commiserate with his friends.

He ran down the steps and across the lawn behind the teams once the crowd had parted enough. As he entered the room he saw his friends just starting to remove their gear. Trent had taken off his padding and hat and was removing his shirt. He took the opportunity of Trent's head being under the shirt fabric to admire his housemate's muscled body.

Trent blushed as soon as he realised Thad was watching him, but immediately smiled at his friend and accepted the hug on offer. "You were amazing, Trent!" He exclaimed, as he pulled back and held his dear friend's gaze. They were immediately rudely interrupted by Fred Weasley's yell of, "Oi! Either snog him or move out the way! I need to get showered you know!" as he barged past the red-faced Hufflepuffs.

Thad studiously avoided Trent's eyes and turned to Jeff who was unsuccessfully trying not to dissolve into giggles at the embarrassed pair. "Not a word, Jeff!" Thad hissed, before slapping his blond friend's shoulder and saying, "Good game, all of you! Apart from Harry catching the snitch it would've been a draw. You did Hufflepuff proud!"

A warm voice joined in from behind Thad. "I agree with Thad, good game!" Nick fist bumped Thad, slapped Trent on the shoulder and finally turned to Jeff. He smiled widely as he grabbed his boyfriend's undershirt and pulled him down for a heated kiss, succeeding in making Trent's ears turn pink from just watching them.

As Nick pulled away he whispered with a wink, "So, what do you say to a bit more shooting practice, Babe?"


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