The Great Hall grew quiet as the headmaster stood, preparing to make an announcement. He smiled broadly and clapped his hands. “Students and staff, in light of recent events that have shadowed our school, I have devised a plan to bring laughter and enjoyment back into our halls!
“This afternoon, two teams made up solely of staff members will take to the pitch for a game of Quidditch that will be like nothing Hogwarts has ever seen. Shall I announce the teams?” Dumbledore asked merrily.
“Heading the orange team as a Chaser will be our lovely deputy headmistress, Professor McGonagall!”
Professor Snape fairly choked on his tea, unable to fathom what he was hearing.
“Joining her at Chaser,” Headmaster Dumbledore continued, “will be Madam Pomfrey and the always popular Madam Irma Pince. The Beaters for the Orange team are Professor Kettleburn and . . .”
Snape glared darts at the Headmaster, daring him to say the words.
“Slytherin Head of House, Severus Snape.”
Snape pondered for a moment which curse in his arsenal suited this occasion, and how long it would take to Confund a room full of schoolchildren; when he noticed a similar look spreading across Professor McGonagall’s face.
Determined not to let her see that he was bothered by the decision, he attempted to make his facial expression neutral and avoided her gaze. Inside he was fuming. How dare Dumbledore do such a thing? He could have at least prepared him for it.
Dumbledore was continuing to announce the team, having already proclaimed Professor Burbage as Seeker. There was just the Keeper left. Severus hoped to Merlin that this would be someone sensible.
“And the Keeper for the Orange team shall be, Professor Trelawney.”
Severus groaned. He should have known he couldn’t trust Dumbledore to be sensible.
“Now, for the opponents, the Chasers will be Head of Hufflepuff House, Professor Sprout, Professor Sinistra, and Madam Hooch! Professor Vector and Mr. Filch will be playing as Beaters-”
The students began whispering loudly amongst themselves at the mention of Filch, who had been more irritable than ever after Mrs. Norris had been Petrified.
“The Seeker will be the Head of Ravenclaw House, Professor Flitwick. Lastly, the captain and Keeper for the Grey Team will be Professor Lockhart!”
Dumbledore put his hands together and grinned. “The match will take place this afternoon at two o’clock and be refereed by . . .”
“. . . me, myself, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,” he said. “Our announcer will be Rubeus Hagrid. Let us go and prepare ourselves for the afternoon’s events.”
The students dutifully left the room, amid much chatter and giggling. The Professors playing Quidditch had had the hoped for effect; the students’ moods had definitely been lifted.
“So, team,” Professor Lockhart said cheerily, corralling them together. “Grey is an unappealing colour. What say we go up a little on the colour scale and use, oh, I don’t know. . . Lilac, perhaps? Such a happy colour and pleasing to all complexions.”
The look on his team mates’ faces said it all though Lockhart seemed completely oblivious to this. When no one responded, he said, “Excellent! I shall inform Professor Dumbledore."
On the other side of the hall, the Orange team had huddled together. Snape and McGonagall were shooting daggers at each from opposite sides of the circle. McGonagall had taken charge of the team, declaring they ought to have a practice before the match.
“I don’t have time,” interrupted Snape.
“You’ll have to make time, Severus, or do you want to lose to Lockhart’s team?” Her voice was full of contempt.
Over the next few hours, the staff members practiced between classes and at lunch. At fifteen until two, the students and remaining staff members gathered in the stands to watch the match. The two teams exited the locker rooms and walked out onto the pitch, where Professor Dumbledore stood in the centre. He placed his wand to his throat and spoke to the crowd.
“Good afternoon, Hogwarts! Our two teams have lined up and are now ready to fly. Would the captain of the Orange team and the captain of the now Lilac team shake hands, please?” proclaimed the Headmaster.
Professor McGonagall solemnly walked forward and offered her hand to Professor Lockhart, who accepted it in turn and gave her a courtly kiss upon it. The students tittered at the spectacle, as McGonagall attempted to retrieve it with as much dignity as possible.
“You were supposed to shake my hand, Gilderoy,” she whispered under her breath.
“Ah, but my dear, the gallant gesture is always the most remembered,” he said happily in return, as he waved gaily to the crowd.
“Ah, well,” Hagrid began, settling into his seat in the announcer’s area. “That was somthin’ you won’t see ev'ry day.”
On the ground Dumbledore blew his whistle and the teams rose into the air, amid much cheering and some laughing from the students. The sight of some of their professor’s attempting to fly a broomstick was almost too funny to watch.
On wand end of the pitch, Professor Trelawney drifted over the goal posts, looking thoroughly distracted. She had not been quite sure whether she wanted to play this match, but unfortunately her inner eye had not deigned to give her the foresight to be ill and so she was stuck in the air, worrying about defending the posts.
Professor Lockhart, on the other hand, looked as though he was thoroughly enjoying himself. He smiled, waving down at the students, the sun glinting off his perfectly white teeth. Well,
he thought to himself smugly, I didn’t win Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award five years in a row for nothing –
“Gilderoy!” Madam Hooch shouted from halfway across the pitch, and Lockhart looked up in bemusement. “For Merlin’s sake, will you stop waving at your fans and start defending the posts?”
Far up above them all, Severus Snape gripped his bat tightly and grimaced. This is ridiculous,
he thought disgustedly.
Professor Snape looked down at the chagrined Lockhart, who was trying feverishly to keep his broom in a relatively close flight path to the hoops. He watched silently for a few moments as the other man attempted to find a proper hold on his broom, failing miserably and almost falling. Snape took a few practice swipes in the air with his bat, then expertly swooped down and joined his team on the Pitch proper.
He saddled up next to Professor McGonagall, gesturing at Lockhart and whispering, “You realise, of course, that he has no earthly idea what he is doing.”
“Of course I realise this, Severus. Do you take me for a fool?” Minerva replied through slightly clenched teeth, her being on a team with Severus Snape still not sitting well with her. “Anyway, that will only play to our advantage as we more than well know what we are doing. Well, most of us,” she added, looking over as Professor Trelawney practiced diving for a goal and failing miserably.
“Just thought that I should let you know, Captain.
” Severus sneered as he took off again.
Minerva sighed. “Get in formation, team. The game is about to begin!”
The whistle blew again and Minerva flew off towards the goalposts, Quaffle in hand. She saw a well-aimed Bludger heading towards her and, seeing her fellow chaser nearby, she threw the Quaffle to Poppy Pomfrey. The matron caught it and flew to within shooting distance, where she expected to see Gilderoy waiting for her. Surprisingly though, the hoops were unguarded and she threw the Quaffle through with relative ease, scoring the first points of the match.
The crowd went wild but Lockhart’s team were glaring at him. Somehow, he was in the middle of the pitch holding Professor Flitwick’s bat.
“Well, yes, you see. . .” Lockhart began as his team surrounded him and bellowed as one. “The bat, it was acting strangely. Oh, I’ve seen this before in my stellar Quidditch career, many a time. So, with no regard for my own safety . . .”
“Or the Quaffle!” Hagrid announced testily.
“I managed to save this little fellow’s hide.”
Professor Flitwick had just begun babbling the beginnings of a protest at this ignoble treatment, when Dumbledore blew the whistle to resume play.
“At the rate this lot is playin’,” Hagrid resumed, “we’ll see a finish sometim’ in June.”
Madam Hooch soared off up the pitch with the Quaffle, weaving in and out of her opponents. Had they all forgotten she was a flying coach for a reason?
She neared the goal posts, taking aim toward the middle post. Unfortunately, as she threw the ball with all her might, Professor Trelawney drifted absently in front of the ring, staring up into the clouds. The ball bounced off her broom handle and through the hoop. However, it sent the Professor spiralling backwards toward the ground.
She just barely stopped Sybill from hitting the ground, allowing play to continue.
Dazed but unharmed, Professor Trelawney kicked off from the ground and soared back up towards the goal posts. “I should never have agreed to this,” she huffed.
“Did the Inner Eye not foresee that coming?”
Trelawney turned her head to find herself facing Severus Snape, who was staring at her, his upper lip curled in a sneer. “For your information,” she began hotly, “The Inner Eye does not – “
A loud, booming voice interrupted their squabble.
“All righ’. So tha’s ten points fer the Orange team an’ ten for the Lilac.” Hagrid paused. “But wha’s Professor Lockhart think he’s doin’?”
Professors Trewlawney and Snape turned to see what the opposing team’s Keeper was up to now, exchanging bewildered looks as they watched Lockhart. He had managed to get his robes entangled in the end of his broomstick and an unhealthy sounding gurgle was escaping from his bluish lips. His teammates, meanwhile sat, refusing to extricate their erstwhile captain out of his predicament.
“Little fellow, indeed,” Professor Flitwick intoned, as Trewlany and Snape flew to Lockhart’s aid.
“Well, Sybill,” Professor Snape said, staring as the choking man desperately tried to form the word ‘help.’ “Which spell would you suggest for this?”
“I really couldn’t say,” she replied. “But it looks as though Minerva is about to score again, so perhaps we ought to take a couple of minutes to decide.”
Snape raised his eyebrows. “I really do hope that you are not suggesting cheating.”
“Of course not, Severus. My inner eye is simply telling me that it might be beneficial for us to wait just a minute.”
A few seconds later, the cheering of the crowd confirmed Trelawny’s ‘prediction’ and Snape quickly cast the spell to release Lockhart.
“Better luck next time, Gilderoy!” he shouted to the opposing captain.
"An' Professor McGonagall scores again! That makes it twenty ter ten fer the Orange team!" Hagrid announced as Sybill flew back to her place at the goal posts.
Severus flew upwards and decided that he might as well try to play, even though he was only grudgingly doing so. He picked up his bat and struck the incoming Bludger as hard as he could, sending it soaring towards Professor Sprout as the Quaffle was passed to her.
Pomona swerved right sharply to miss the ball, and in turn, allowed Madam Pince to take possession of the Quaffle.
Irma gingerly held on to the Quaffle, as McGonagall plowed through the other team’s half-hearted defence. She swerved slightly, batting away the Bludger, which Professor Vector had hit in her direction, while Madam Pince threw the ball as hard as she could. It flew lightly through the air, barely breaking the plane of the hoop.
“Ten more points for the good guys . . ., I mean to say, the Orange team, o’ course!” Hagrid bellowed. “Thirty to ten, we may make in time for supper after all!”
Headmaster Dumbledore looked at Hagrid disapprovingly and motioned for play to continue.
This time it was the Lilac team who took possession of the Quaffle. Madam Hooch weaved her way across the pitch, before passing it to Professor Sprout, who fumbled a little as she caught it. Professor Kettleburn noticed this and sent a Bludger in her direction. It skimmed over top of the Chasers head and she dropped the Quaffle in shock. Madam Hooch was below her, however and managed to catch it as it fell. Without wasting anymore time she aimed and the Quaffle shot straight through the goalposts.
“An’ it’s ten more points to the Lilac team!” shouted Hagrid.
“Oi, wha’ does Lockhart think ’e’s playin’ at?” Hagrid asked absently to the crowd as Professor Lockhart flew haphazardly to the middle of the pitch at Madam Hooch.
“My dear woman, you must get out of the air this instant!” he exclaimed.
Her face contorted as rage filled her voice. “What the devil are you doing, Gilderoy? You are supposed to be guarding the goal hoops! Minerva has scored again because you abandoned your post!”
Lockhart took no notice. “You’ve been bitten by a doxie, Madam; you need to head straight to the hospital wing!”
“I have not!” she screamed.
"Dumbledore, tell this idiot to get back to the goal hoops!" screeched Madam Hooch, looking around for the referee. But Headmaster Dumbledore had been distracted and was now conversing with one of the students in the stands.
"Are those lemon drops?" The headmaster was exclaiming delightedly. "Ah, excellent! My favourite sweet-”
Professor Dumbledore looked around in surprise and promptly dropped to two lemon drops he was trying to unstick. “Oh! Er – yes. If Professor Lockhart would return to the goalposts, please?”
“Merlin’s beard!” shouted Hagrid suddenly. “I think Professor Flitwick’s spotted th’ snitch!”
It certainly looked like it. The Charms Professor was hurtling down the pitch at an alarming rate; he suddenly dived and after a few seconds Professor Burbage was beside him, though she was a little confused as she couldn’t actually see the Snitch. Suddenly she noticed Flitwick giving her a look out of the corner of his eye and she realised what he was doing. She quickly pulled out of the dive. This distracted Professor Flitwick, and instead of pulling out of the dive at the last minute as he had planned, he instead hit the ground with a thud.
“Unbelievable!” Professor Snape exclaimed, as he swooped down to examine the prone Professor Flitwick. “My word man, trying such a tricky maneuver at your age!”
Meanwhile, Madam Hooch was livid with Professor Lockhart.
“Get back to your position this instant, you lunatic”, she screamed, but it was too late.
The damage was done. By now, the Orange team had set up a small assembly line and was scoring at will.
“ Forty, fifty, sixty,” Hagrid announced. “Seventy, eighty, ninety . . .”
Professor Flitwick picked himself off of the ground and flew back to the pitch, ignoring Snape entirely.
Unfortunately, Flitwick was forced to dodge as a well-aimed Bludger came hurtling in his direction. He looked around to see Filch, clutching his bat and looking stunned. Professor Flitwick gave an uncharacteristic scowl. “Don’t send the Bludger at your own teammates!” he exclaimed angrily.
“Incompetent fool,” Professor McGonagall muttered, but still she was smiling slightly as she scored yet another goal thanks to Lockhart’s absence.
“An’ that makes it one hundred points fer the Orange team!” boomed Hagrid’s voice.
Meanwhile, the spat between Madam Hooch and Professor Lockhart had grown nasty. In her fury, Hooch had taken out her wand.
“What are you doing?” Lockhart questioned incredulously. “I was m-merely trying to stop you from falling ill and out of the sky to what was certain to be a painful, bloody death, and you accuse me of wishing to sabotage our team! Kindly put away your wand, m-my dear.”
“I will not, Lockhart, unless you go back to your post!” Hooch screamed.
Suddenly, Professor Trelawney settled herself beside them, fidgeting nervously with her shawls and spectacles. “My dear, I do believe that Gilderoy is right in his warning, as my Inner Eye sees
a great tragedy in your near future.”
“Oh shut up, Sybill! This is not the time for you inner eye
!” snapped Madam Hooch. “And I foresee I great tragedy in your
future if you don’t get out my way so I can make this idiot get back to his position. Then maybe we can actually play some Quidditch!”
Trelawney opened her mouth to speak, but Hooch’s wand was pointing firmly at her and so she meekly flew away. Hooch turned her attention back to Lockhart.
“Now, Gilderoy,” she said in an oddly calm way. "Do you maybe think it’s time for you to return to your position?”
“Well, it’s a ’undred an' twen'y for the Orange team, but here comes Professor Lockhart,” Hagrid said, out of breath from the extra announcing.
Meanwhile, Filch, who by now was holding onto his broomstick for dear life, while securing his bat under one knee, saw something out of the corner of his eye. It hovered for a moment, glittering in the sunlight, then swirled straight down.
Filch made his way carefully to Professor Flitwick.
“Professor, look!” He whispered, cautiously pointing towards the Snitch.
Wordlessly, Professor Flitwick made a sharp dive.
“Not again!” Professors Burbage and Snape breathed in unison.
“Don’t be a fool, don’t fall for it again,” Snape hissed at Professor Burbage as she hovered there indecisively, unable to tell whether the other Seeker was faking it once more. Flitwick was speeding towards the ground, his arm outstretched, so far forward on his broom that it looked as if he was about to topple off it.
“But what if he’s seen it?!” Professor Burbage exclaimed, gripping her broomstick handle so tightly that her hands had turned white. “I’m going after him!”
“No - !”
But Professor Snape’s protest was in vain. Burbage had already shot off after Professor Flitwick.
It was no use, though, Flitwick already had the Snitch within his reach; all he had to do was grasp it, which he did with little effort. He held up the ball as high as his tiny arm would allow.
“I don’t believe it. Professor Flitwick catches the Snitch fer the Lilac team! Lilac wins one ‘undred an’ fifty ter one ‘undred an’ twen’y!” Hagrid shouted over the cheering crowd.
Minerva landed on the pitch with such venom in her eyes it looked as though she was a cobra about to strike, and her victim appeared to be Severus Snape.
“Severus,” Minerva began, barely controlling the rage, which made her voice shaky. “Had you kept to your position none of this would have happened. You’ve managed to make fools of all of us in front of the entire student body!”
Professor Snape tried to retort, but was unable to as the Lilac team paraded past them, bouncing Professor Flitwick high into the air.
“I would like to point out,” Professor Lockhart began, “that if I hadn’t returned to my post when I did, all would’ve been lost.”
“One more word, I dare you!” Madam Hooch exclaimed, wand at the ready.
Lockhart’s arrogance couldn’t dampen his team’s high spirits, but Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall were both wearing similar expressions of disgust.
“I can’t believe we lost to that idiot,” Snape spat bitterly.
“I told you, if you had just kept your position-”
“Severus, Minerva,” interrupted Headmaster Dumbledore. His eyes were twinkling and a smile was playing around the corners of his lips. “Can’t you two get along for once? The purpose of this match, after all, was to lighten the spirits of the students and teachers, not to create more quarrels.”
“Very well,” said Professor McGonagall, looking very sour.
“Thank you,” Dumbledore said serenely as he turned to the crowd. “I am pleased to announce that the Lilac Team has won our little Hogwarts’ Staff Game. I hope that you all enjoyed the match and that your spirits were lifted!
He smiled broadly, eyes twinkling. “Now, I present to our winners, a feast in the Great Hall prepared by our wonderful chefs in the kitchens!”
Minerva was forced to shake hands with Lockhart, but she managed to smile pleasantly as the teams headed back up to the castle behind the laughter and banter of the students for the feast.