Harry was trying to finish his breakfast as quickly as possible. Ginny had been waiting for him in the common room that morning and as a result they had both arrived late to breakfast, leaving very little time to eat before he was due in his first lesson. It seemed the post had already arrived by the time they got there, because Hermione had her head buried in the newspaper, though Ron was no where to be seen.
Just as Harry was finishing his last mouthful of cereal, he saw Ron running towards them, looking ready to burst with excitement.
Ron was nearly breathless as he beckoned impatiently for Harry, Hermione, and Ginny to follow him out into the hall. Curious, they all obliged quickly, forgetting their hurried breakfasts and morning papers. They entered the Main Hall and found a commotion of excited students gathered around the door of Madam Hooch’s office.
“Go and read!” Ron demanded eagerly, pointing to the door. “Go on!”
The three mates pushed their way through the crowd of gossiping teenagers and over to the door. They looked up at the note taped to the oak door and listened as Hermione read the memo aloud.
“We at the Department of Magical Games and Sports have organised a one-off match between specially selected students and a mystery professional team…Private professional Quidditch practices to be held on the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch for the next seven days... One day will be set aside for a group of seven lucky students to receive a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn first-hand from the professionals how to improve their game... The prize will be a match against the professional players played in front of the entire student body… If interested please see Professor McGonagall.”
“Wow,” said Ron weakly.
Harry and Ginny looked equally stunned by the information.
“Who do think it’ll be?” Ginny asked.
Ron, who seemed to be recovering from the shock, began reeling off the names of possible teams.
“Well, the Falcons are at the top of the league so it could be them, or possibly the Wasps, they’ve just been taken over and are looking to get some publicity. Of course there’s always the Cannons-“
“The Cannons – I wouldn’t call them a professional
team,” sneered Draco Malfoy, coming up behind them.
“Shut up, Malfoy,” growled Harry, as Ron’s face turned slowly red.
“When are tryouts for this thing, anyways?” Ron asked, attempting to look unaffected and failing.
“Tonight after class,” Malfoy answered, eager to show how much he knew. “Are you looking to break a record in goals scored against you, Weasley?”
Ron changed from red to purple, eliciting an intervention from Harry.
“Yeah, well enjoy watching it from the stands, Malfoy. You won’t make it past tryouts!”
Malfoy sneered a very evil sneer before hurrying back to the Great Hall.
“Cocky, are we?” Hermione called, raising the newspaper once more
“Come on, Hermione,” Ron rebuked. “It’s Harry
“Yeah, I mean, I was the youngest player in a century!” Harry replied.
Hermione scoffed. “And obviously the most modest one at that…”
Harry scowled at her, and the group began to walk away from the notice at a leisurely pace. “I’m not being arrogant, Hermione, it’s just that you can’t deny the facts – I have never lost a game… apart from that one in third year…”
“But that wasn’t your fault,” nodded Ginny helpfully.
“Exactly,” Harry grinned smugly.
“Well, we’ll just see at the tryouts…”
“I suppose we will,” he replied. “Anyway, we had better get to class. We have Transfiguration first so we can give our names to McGonagall.”
That evening, as the group headed down to dinner, they saw a second notice had appeared.
Tryouts for the special Hogwarts team will be held tomorrow afternoon on the Quidditch Pitch. Any student who has not already given their name to Professor McGonagall must do so before the end of today in order to take part. Tryouts will be judged by the Heads of House, Madam Hooch and a member of the professional team.
“Harry, tomorrow!” Ron exclaimed, mouth gaping slightly. “That’s…that’s the day after today!”
“And?” Harry pressed.
“And…” Ron stuttered, “Would you mind coming out to the pitch with me and helping me practice? I mean, blimey! Tomorrow!”
Harry shrugged as the two began the trek out to the Quidditch pitch. It was getting dark by the time they had collected their brooms and arrived at the edge of the pitch. Harry stared wide eyed at the brightly clad figures soaring above.
“Merlin, it is
the Cannons!” Ron gasped as the colour slowly drained from his face.
Harry groaned, and Ron turned round and looked at him angrily.
“What did you groan for?”
“Nothing!” Harry assured him hurriedly. “C’mon, lets go and practice then…”
They joined the group of assembled students who were all waiting on the pitch. Many looked very put out to see that the professional team they were playing against would be the Cannons.
"Ron," said Harry suddenly, recognising an orange player. "Is that Krum
Ron followed Harry’s gaze.
“Damn, I’d forgotten about him. He transferred to the Cannons at the end of last season for a record fee. They spent almost their entire season budget on him, the stupid git.”
Harry sighed; he really wasn’t in the mood to listen to Ron’s ramblings on Krum nor was he especially keen to talk to the Bulgarian himself. He wondered if it was really necessary to have a practice before the tryouts. He was fairly certain he could make the team without it. Muttering an apology to Ron, Harry turned back towards the castle.
For the next four nights, Ron begged Harry to go to practice with him, but each night, Harry gave him the same reply.
“Honestly, Ron, I don’t need to practice. I’ll be able to make the team.”
On the sixth night of practices, Harry decided to attend in order to show off his skills and be considered for the team, but mainly to stop Ron’s grumbling.
“This will be the last practice before we chose the team, everyone. After the announcement tomorrow, we will have our final practice before the match,” stated Gorgovitch as the team walked toward the crowd.
The next evening, a large banner was hanging in the Great Hall announcing the last day of tryouts for the “Once in a lifetime chance to be part of a once in a lifetime game!
” Despite his confidence that there was no better Seeker in the school, Harry felt nervous. He managed to get down half a potato and a few peas before joining Ron at the Quidditch pitch, where a large number of very nervous students were also huddling around, gossiping before tryouts.
“All right!” came a barking cry from the Cannons captain, Cygnus Bloxam. “Everybody in the air!”
Harry mounted his broom and kicked off the ground. As he soared into the air, he felt a renewed confidence in his flying skills. There weren’t many others trying out for the seeker position and he was definitely the strongest of the ones that were there.
He circled the pitch a few times, pulling off a few tricky turns in order to get the attention of Bloxam, who was up in the air watching them, along with several other professional players.
Eventually Bloxam blew his whistle again and Harry followed the example of the others and began to descend.
As the students crowded around Bloxam, the rest of the professional team joined them. Harry’s nerves began to creep back through his body, but he shook them off quickly. Who else could they choose?
“After careful consideration, your professors and I have decided the line-up for the Hogwartian team,” announced Bloxam, “The following students will be Chasers in the match: Ginny Weasley of Gryffindor, Jonathan Bradley of Ravenclaw, and Zacharias Smith of Hufflepuff.”
“The Beaters are Vincent Crabbe of Slytherin and Jack Sloper of Gryffindor,” added Lucretia Radford, the Cannons’ female Beater. “And Ronald Weasley of Gryffindor will play Keeper.”
“And our Seeker,” Krum interrupted before shock could register on Ron’s face, “Will be Mr. Draco Malfoy.”
“What?” someone declared, but all sounds were drowned out by an enormous amount of cheering from the Slytherins.
“What about Harry?” Ron was demanding somewhat angrily, though he couldn’t help but grin at his own success.
“He missed ze first practice,” Krum explained before shrugging. “And that Malfoy is not bad,” he added.
“Not bad?” Harry heard himself mutter and he glanced over towards the Slytherins, who had hoisted Malfoy into the air and were chanting, “Win, win, Slytherin!”
“Bad luck, Harry,” said Ron.
“Bad luck? Bad luck? It has nothing to do with bad luck!” Harry said, and even in the dim light of dusk, the intense colouring of his cheeks was obvious. “I just … Malfoy must have bribed them!”
“Or it could be because you didn’t bother coming to any of the practices,” replied Hermione idly. “Maybe they didn’t see enough of you.”
“Krum’s seen me fly before,” muttered Harry moodily, still blushing furiously.
“Well, try not to be so arrogant in the future then.”
“Arrogant? I wasn’t being arrogant!”
“Sorry, mate, but you were being a bit Percy-like,” Ron added, clapping Harry on the back.
Harry threw Ron’s arm down and stormed off toward the castle. Hermione bid Ron goodbye and followed suit. As the Slytherins lowered their hero down, Ron joined the Hogwarts team.
“This should be fun,” Ginny muttered to Ron as she joined him.
“Yeah, nothing like house unity, right?”
“Oi, Weaselby, ready to practice?” Malfoy taunted as he too joined the mix.
“Shove off, Malfoy.”
“All right everyone, the Cannons versus Hogwarts game will be held tomorrow; thus, let’s split up and practice,” stated Bloxam.
The professional team began to distribute themselves among the Hogwartians, so that each player was paired up with their professional equivalent. Oliver Wood strode over to Ron and shook his hand.
“So you’re the one who took over from me after I left? I’ve been watching you fly all week and you’ve definitely got skill though there’s room for improvement. Shall we get straight up there?”
Ron nodded and mounted his broom. He had never had much too do with Wood and was mildly intimidated by him, which when combined with his nerves made it difficult not to throw up.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say take over
, though,” Ron protested feebly, missing the Quaffle Wood tossed at him to test his reflexes. As he turned a brighter shade of red, Wood laughed.
“Bit sensitive, are we?” he jested.
Ron opened his mouth to say, “Of course not!” when a bludger came whizzing by at an incredible speed. Ron barely ducked in time.
“Merlin, Lucretia,” Wood called to the woman a few feet above them with a beater’s bat. “You almost killed us!”
“I’m teaching these two how to hit a bludger properly!” she replied, grinning maniacally.
“Good luck with that,” Wood replied as he tossed Ron another Quaffle. Thankfully, Ron just barely caught it before throwing it back to Oliver. “Nice job, Ron. Now, try to use a little more grip this time.”
Across the pitch, Draco and Krum were diving after a small golden ball, Krum in the lead by a mile. Just as Krum caught the Snitch and Draco hit the ground face first, Bloxam darted over to the pair.
“You’re supposed to be giving him pointers, not showing off, Krum!” he scolded, a look of dislike upon his face. “Thirty minutes left, everyone!”
Close to where Krum and Draco were practicing, Ginny and the other chasers were honing their passing skills. Krum was becoming increasingly annoying and was constantly flying through the group, supposedly chasing the snitch, though Ginny noticed he seemed to be focusing his attention on her rather than actually looking for the snitch.
Eventually Alexandra Wintringham, one of the Cannons’ chasers called out to him, “Oi, Krum! Stop behaving like a prat, you’re distracting us and interrupting our practice.”
“Vat? I cannot help it if they are distracted by me.” He winked at Ginny, who stared at him in disbelief.
She snorted in disgust, about to shout a witty remark, when a whistle sounded.
“Practice is over,” yelled Wintringham. “The match will be tomorrow, midday. See you all tomorrow!”
Ginny was walking back up to the castle. She had spent a little too much time in the shower and was the last person. Up ahead she saw Krum and Bloxam talking.
“Well you shouldn’t have annoyed your last Captain, should you? None of us wants to be on this stupid team, we’re rubbish…”
“Vell, ve shall see tomorrow. I did not get transferred so I could lose to school children.”
The next day, the entire school headed down to the Quidditch Pitch for the match. Harry grudgingly trudged down as well to cheer Ron and Ginny on.
“Welcome one and all to a once in a lifetime match-up. May I present to you the Chudley Cannons!” announced Ludo Bagman. “Captain and Beater Bloxam and his partner in pain Radford, the Chasers: Gorgovitch, Wintringham, Valblatsky, and the new additions: Keeper Wood and Seeker Krum!”
As Bagman announced the team, each orange clad member flew out into the pitch and circled around a few times before he announced the Hogwarts team.
“Now, will you please welcome onto the pitch, the chosen team from Hogwarts! The Chasers: Weasley, Bradley, and Smith, the Beaters: Crabbe and Sloper, the Keeper: Weasley and finally the Seeker: Malfoy”
The Hogwarts team flew onto the pitch, dressed in black Quidditch robes, to huge cheers from the crowd.
“Finally I would like to introduce our guest referee for the match, an ex-student and Hogwarts Quidditch star, Charlie Weasley!”
The shock on both Ron and Ginnys’ faces as Charlie flew onto the pitch showed they had known nothing about their brother’s involvement in the game.
“Wonder how Malfoy likes the Weasleys now,” Ron muttered to his sister, flying a few feet away
“Sorry,” Ginny apologized after a moment’s distracted silence. “I was watching Krum fly. He really is quite good.”
“Come on, focus!” Ron hissed.
“Oi, Ron!” came a shout, and Ron turned to face Oliver Wood, who descended from where the Chudley Cannons were hovering in formation. “Remember the Keeper’s stance!”
“Stop giving him tips, Wood!” Bloxam barked. “Get to your hoops! We’re starting soon!”
Ginny tore her eyes away from Krum to rejoin the other chasers at the center of the pitch.
“All right, everyone, let’s try to keep this a nice and friendly game, okay? On my whistle,” stated Charlie, a look of excitement upon his face. “Three, two, one!”
Charlie then blew on his whistle and the match began as Valblatsky grabbed the Quaffle. Ginny sped off after him, followed closely by her teammates, but it was no use. The professionals were simply faster and more skilled. Valblatsky scored quickly, giving Ron no hope to block the red ball.
“10 points to the Cannons!” commented Bagman. “And it’s Smith in possession. Passes to Bradley- wait! Gorgovitch steals the Quaffle!”
There was a groan from the crowd as the Cannons scored again.
“Now Weasley catches the Quaffle from Weasley, passes it to Bradley, who passes it to Smith and back it goes to – ooh, that looked nasty! A well hit Bludger from Bloxam causes Smith to drop the Quaffle straight back into possession of the Cannons. Now it’s Wintringham to Gorgovitch and yes, I don’t believe it – he’s scored again! A suberb shot. That makes 30-0 to the Cannons.”
The Hogwarts chasers attempted to regroup but their attack was once again halted by the Cannons’ Beaters.
The first bludger was hit by Bloxam, and tore a line through Hogwarts’ Chasers as they attempted to put together an attacking formation.
“What do we do now!” Smith demanded as the bludger changed direction to come ploughing back through the Hogwarts team.
“Nothing!” Ginny called back in reply. “That’s the beaters’ job! Let’s try it again!”
“Crabbe, hit Radford!” Smith called anxiously.
“I’m trying!” the Slytherin called back thickly. “Make Sloper do it!”
“Hogwarts is back on the defensive!” Bagman’s voice called. “Great Beating by Radford allows Wintringham to take the Quaffle! The Cannons actually have the lead!”
“Vat do you mean, ‘actually’?” Krum yelled at Charlie. “Of course ve are in the lead, ve are professionals! Or I am anyvay,” he muttered, as he watched Gorgovitch drop the Quaffle, to be picked up by Bradley below.
Ginny watched in alarm as Krum became more and more wound up at the poor-quality playing of his team. Certainly, it was no secret that Krum had been transferred to the Canons against his will, and she supposed that he had something to prove. Nevertheless, she felt distinctly uneasy as Krum began to fly uncommonly close to Malfoy.
Ginny’s thoughts were validated as Krum kicked Draco’s broomtail, veering him off course. The blond attempted to steer his Nimbus back onto course, but the damage had been done.
Draco’s broom was caught by a strong gust of wind, and he spiralled towards the ground. Thinking only of her team’s victory, Ginny darted downward, catching up with the Slytherin just in time to pull his broom handle upward.
“Foul!” shouted Gorgovitch as he threw the Quaffle at the goal. “She grabbed another player’s broom!”
“They’re on the same team, idiot,” Ron snapped, knocking the ball away from his left hoop.
Charlie’s whistle prevented Gorgovitch’s retort.
“Penalty to Hogwarts for interference to Seeker’s broom by Cannon’s Seeker.”
The Hogwartians cheered. Ginny stepped up to take the penalty. She was thrown the Quaffle and took her position on the penalty line. The whole stadium was silent, everyone waiting to see if Hogwarts could finally score. Taking a deep breath she threw the Quaffle straight at the middle hoop and closed her eyes. A sudden eruption of cheering told her all she needed to know and she opened them again to find her team rushing at her in celebration.
“Great, Ginny!” Jack Sloper cried. “We’re only behind by two goals!”
Before the Hogwartians could disperse from their victorious huddle, a bludger came tearing through their midst, catching Ginny sharply in the shoulder. The team glanced angrily in the direction of Lucretia Radford, who hovered, bat raised, a few meters away.
“Now will you hit her!” Ginny called to Sloper, clutching her shoulder in pain.
“Oh, OK,” Sloper replied unevenly. “Quick, here they come!”
Hogwarts moved back into position as the Cannons pulled back around, Gorgovitch clutching the Quaffle determinedly.
Ron watched with a mixture of fear, anger, and determination as the Chaser flew towards him, but he had followed the Chudley Cannons for as long as he could remember. Thus, he knew their flying style like the back of his hand.
As Gorgovitch darted off to the left goal hoop, Ron pretended to follow him, but slowly. He knew that Gorgovitch would really throw the Quaffle at the right ring. Sure enough, the Chaser did so. Only this time, the Keeper was ready.
“Hogwarts scores! They trail the Cannons by a mere ten points!”
Feeling a renewed confidence the Hogwarts Chasers got back into formation and sped up the pitch, passing quickly back and forth, so that even Bagman struggled to keep up with them.
“It’s Weasley to Smith, who passes to Bradley, who gives it to Weasley, who returns it quickly to Bradley. He’s within shooting distance now and yes, he shoots and scores! Hogwarts have equalised. Excellent keeping attempt from Wood there though, just missed it by an inch.”