The Exchange Student
by Gina

~

Chapter Six: The Quidditch Final

< >The Halloween party was cancelled, due to the fact that the Great Hall was needed by the teachers at the only time that a party would have been available. To tell the truth, the new Recreation committee was relieved: Ron, Harry, and Amy, the main planners, had to practice for their upcoming Quidditch games. Hagrid had to take care of Fang, who had fallen to a sudden bout of indigestion. For a few weeks, Harry, Ron, and Amy weren't able to enter Hagrid's cabin because of their uneasiness at the flatulent noises that drifted to their ears. "I wonder how Hagrid can survive," Amy muttered as they retreated from the hut for the twelfth time.

< >On the other hand, Hagrid's classes were becoming enjoyable (much to Malfoy's dismay). Although none of the lessons were quite as action-packed as the first, they were still quite exciting. The Halloween feast was more remarkable than it had ever been, with a retired hag coming to visit to tell stories of her youth and a friendly banshee who was invited to sing a few, rather short, verses of poetry.

< >The first Quidditch game was a pushover: Gryffindor against Hufflepuff. Harry caught the Snitch in four minutes and twenty-four seconds, beating his own record. Slytherin defeated Ravenclaw since their Seeker Cho Chang had been injured. Now, it was almost Christmas break and only one game remained: the final match, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin.

< >The tension at Hogwarts was almost tangible. Although Professor McGonagall personally saw to it that nothing happened to students, both teams' Quidditch equipment was at high risk. There were rumors that Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint had tampered with the Bludgers so that they were attracted to Harry's splendid Firebolt. Flint denied this accusation heartily, but couldn't explain himself when Professor Flitwick's tested proved the rumors to be true. George Weasley's broom disappeared overnight and reappeared half its size, with pansies blooming among its tail twigs. Madame Hooch fixed it, but now and then it would sprout a pansy or two, enraging George.

< >Harry woke up the morning of the match feeling surprisingly clear-headed. Ron, on the other hand, looked as though he was going to be sick. Amy was trying to cheer him. "Oh, C'mon, Ron, you know that nothing's going to happen, Slytherin's a complete waste of time -"

< >"I just want to know what those 'updates' Malfoy had on his broom are."

< >"Oh, Ron, it can't be that big a deal -"

< >"Yeah!" Seamus Finnegan, Ron's replacement, interjected. "I mean, nothing really happens to the Keeper. I mean, once Wood got his arm broken 'cause Flint slammed into him, but it only happened four times. There's not a big chance it'll happe again." He drowned his waffles in syrup and took a bite.

< >"Thanks," Amy said sarcastically, glaring at Seamus.

< >He waved it aside. "Anytime."

< >Ron pushed his plate of eggs away. "I'm not hungry," he said in response to Harry's questioning look.

< >Lee Jordan was the commentator for the game, as usual. "Looks like a good day for playing, not too cold, only a little breeze coming from the east, might want to watch out for that." The bleachers were crowded with students and staff. Snape and Finch sat side by side, Finch waving a Gryffindor flag and Snape resolutely wearing a sweater with the Slytherin serpent on it. Hagrid was painted head to toe with tiny images of Gryffindor lions, and had two huge banners held in each hand.

< >"And here come the Slytherins, looking sinister as usual -"

< >"Jordan..."

< >The Slytherin team had appeared in their green uniforms. Malfoy looked particularly smug.

< >Lee chose to ignore the Professor's tone of voice and continued. "Seems Malfoy's wormed his way into being Seeker for yet another year - alright alright!" he yelled as McGonagall tried to wrench the megaphone away from him. "Alright, unbiased, unbiased, unbia - AND HERE COME THE GRYFFINDORS!" he roared as the Gryffindor team appeared, resplendent in scarlet robes. They hadn't been able to find a robe for Amy, hoever, so she came out wearing (to McGonagall's consternation and Lee Jordan's public delight) a tight red blouse and some denim shorts she had painted gold, exposing her tanned, slender legs. Whistles, jeers, and catcalls from the Slytherin end burst out at her appearance while the Gryffindor side cheered louder than ever. Amy looked cold, but ecstatic.

< >Madam Hooch oversaw the start-off. "Captains, shake hands." Flint grasped Harry's hand tightly, as though trying to twist his wrist. Hooch blew the whistle. Harry was up in the air in no time.

< >"Alicia seizes the Quaffle, passes it to Katie Bell, who THAT WAS A FOUL!" Lee screamed as Malfoy purposely ran into Katie Bell, who spun in the air holding onto her broom with both hands.

< >"I didn't see her coming!" Malfoy simpered, but Madam Hooch blew the whistle anyway.

< >"Penalty awarded to Gryffindor," Lee muttered. "Katie's recovered, shoots, puts it away easy, and Gryffindor is in the lead, ten-zero." Harry circled around high above the game, his eyes straining for the Snitch. Malfoy was tailing him, darting suspicious glances left and right when he thought Harry had spotted the Snitch. Harry's patience wore thin; he decided to teach Malfoy a lesson. He suddenly squinted into the horizon as though he had spotted something, then raced off. Sure enough, Malfoy pursued him. Harry allowed Malfoy some headway, then surged ahead, ready to swerve when need be. Suddenly, his glasses fogged up. He didn't see why, the whether was perfectly fine, but then he saw a little hole in Malfoy's broom, emitting steam like the humidifier Aunt Marge kept in her bedroom when she had a cold. Harry let out a furious shout as he wiped his glasses in time to see a tree materialize in front of him.

< >He collided into it with a dull thump, then fell to the ground that waited some twenty feet below. Ron shouted, "Harry!" and barely stopped himself from leaving the Gryffindor goal post. Madam Hooch called a free time-out, and in the next instant Ron, Amy, and the rest of the Gryffindor team was huddled around Harry.

< >Screams and cried of outrage erupted from the Gryffindor stands. Hagrid had clambered over the heads of the people in the first row, and was racing towards Harry. "HARRY!" he bellowed. "HARRY, WAKE UP!" As Hagrid reached Harry's side, Harry moaned and opened his eyes slowly, as if this act alone caused him pain. "You broken anything Harry?" Hagrid asked gently.

< >Harry tried to get up, and gasped as excruciating pains shot through his leg. He slumped back onto the ground. "My leg," he croaked.

< >Madam Pomfrey was there in an instant. "You'll need to go to the hospital wing," she said firmly. "We need to bind that up -"

< >"No! Please, Madam, couldn't I just watch the rest of the game?"

< >Madam Pomfrey hesitated. "But it could take weeks -"

< >"Please?" Harry implored, eyes wide with pain.

< >Madam Pomfrey sighed. "Must be getting soft," she muttered. "Alright, go ahead and watch, but as son as the game's over, you're coming to the hospital wing."

< >"Thank you!" Harry called out as Madam Pomfrey left huffily.

< >The game was resumed, and after a bit of threatening on McGonagall's part, Lee Jordan was back to his commentary, fighting not to take sides. Amy hovered in the air, riding, with Harry's permission, the Firebolt. Lee, now slightly cooled off a bit from Malfoy's unnoticed cheating, concentrated his commentary on Amy. "Amy Swift, the exchange student from Catswings, is the temporary replacement Seeker for Gryffindor. She's got on a wonderful uniform, and this commentator is no doubt joined by others in his opinion that the other players should take after her example - "

< >"JORDAN," McGonagall warned, but her words were drowned out by cheers from the Gryffindor side. Harry and Ron seemed to cheer loudest of all. Amy grinned but never took her eyes off the horizon.

< >"Angelina takes the Quaffle, flies up the field towards the Slytherin - it's intercepted by Flint, who drives it towards the goal, oh no - yes! intercepted by Katie Bell. Excellent, Katie, she flies it up, passes to Alicia - GRYFFINDORS SCORE! They're still in the lead, twenty to zero...wait, what was that? Was that the Snitch?"

< >A murmur rippled through the crowd. Amy's eyes were darting to and fro. Suddenly, she sped towards the far end of the field, where the Slytherin goal posts stood.

< >"And Amy Swift has spotted something!"

< >She raced in between players, not interfering in the least with the rest of the game. Malfoy tailed her, trying to see what her sharp eyes had already spotted. Amy suddenly did a sort of pirouette in the air as the Snitch changed direction, heading straight for the Forest.

< >"Ron Weasley blocks a shot by Marcus Flint. Angelina siezes the Quaffle - FRED THERE'S A BLUDGER RIGHT BEHIND YOU! - Fred Weasley succesfully drives the Bludger away from Chaser Angelina. What the heck is Amy doing...?"

< >Amy was zigzagging furiously between the bleachers, players, and bystanders. Once, she disappeared beneath a set of bleachers, causing a row of people to stand up quickly in a wave. She reappeared through the other end, still chasing the elusive Snitch. Malfoy avoided the bleachers, still tailing her. She suddenly pulled up, going higher and higher until it looked as though she had disappeared in the clouds.

< >"Must be a hundred feet up," Seamus said admiringly. Harry crossed his fingers, praying that she'd be able to stay on. Amy looked tiny from where he was, but Harry suddenly saw her pull out of her ascension and raise one arm over her head triumphantly.

< >"SHE'S GOT THE SNITCH!" Lee roared.

< >"YES!" Ron yelled. "YES! YES! YES!"

< >The crowd went wild. Hagrid was shouting his lungs out, while the Weasley twins were hugging each other in midair, sobbing with happiness. Snape wore a very fixed smile as Finch chattered enthusiastically into his ear.

< >"Well, that's that," Lee said happily. "Gryffindors win the cup for the second year in a row. And Amy's diving down, seventy-feet, sixty, fifty - MALFOY YOU DIRTY LITTLE -"

< >Malfoy, not certain of Gryffindor's victory, had dived after Amy, crashing into her. Amy was now holding onto the Snitch with one hand, and her broom with the other. Malfoy circled around her, obviously hoping to transfer her onto his broom. Ron abandoned his post and began flying towards Amy as fast as he could.

< >A roar of rage had risen up from the crowd. But now, it was deadly silent, everyone watching Amy as she attempted to clamber back onto her broom. She was reaching one leg up, her foot just grazed the handle of the Firebolt...

< >Then, her grip suddenly slackened. Her foot lost its balance, and what Harry had been dreading happened: Amy plummeted to the hard, December ground.

< >Her body landed with a sickening thud. Her arms went limp; the Snitch rolled out of her right hand.

< >Ron was racing toward her. "Oh Amy, Amy, Amy, wake up, Amy," he sobbed as he hit the ground next to her. Her cradled her head, crying into her hair. "Wake up, Amy, please wake up."

< >Madam Pomfrey was there, an instant before Hagrid rolled Harry's stretcher over. The next moment, the entire Gryffindor team was huddled around Amy's limp form. Madam Pomfrey gently moved Ron aside, and checked Amy's body for broken bones. "Amazing," she murmured. "Amazing. She hasn't broken a single bone. Look, she's not even bruising. It's almost as though she hadn't fallen at all."

< >Amy was ominously still. Dumbledore arrived on the scene. He muttered a few words, and within the next minute, a whole procession was following Amy's stretcher back to Hogwarts.


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