'Ravenclaw score again! Senara Thaddeus with her seventh goal of the day puts the tally at 90-10 for the mighty Blues! Elmbrigg's Gryffindor are in real trouble! If only there weren't scouts from half the teams in Britain and Ireland at this game. No pressure Edmonde! It's not like your future in the sport depends on th- Ouch! I mean, let's see if the boys and girls in red can turn this around!'
Quidditch… His eyes were following every single move up in the air with desperate longing. To feel the rush of air as he soared through the stadium, the golden little Snitch occupying every single cell of his brain and fiber of his muscles as he reached out to grab it... The thrill of the speed, the tentative danger, the pulsating adrenaline… He could not help smiling even at the fantastic upset that was Gryffindor being crushed by Ravenclaw. Going into the match, and the season in whole, they were huge favorites - expected to roar their way towards a third Cup in as many years under the captaincy of Edmonde Elmbrigg. Yet here they were, outscored, outplayed, and out of luck.
Hermione next to him did not seem too bothered by the result either; she had never been interested in the sport except perhaps when Ron was playing all those years ago. "Weasley is our King!" was echoing in Harry's head at the nostalgic memory. Not even the reminder of his red-headed friend could dampen his moods on this day, though. He had been coasting through the past two weeks in a constant state of bliss - not least due to his seeing Hermione in secret, a feat easily accomplished under the cover of the invisibility cloak as he sneaked into her chamber after hours. He was grinning stupidly when thinking of their first night together, how she had giggled adorably as she panted after they were done - lying next to Harry with his arm around her. He thought it would feel weird, awkward even between them, but it only felt right. Hermione had kissed him on his cheek before falling asleep on his chest, with her wild hair as one of the aftermaths of their lewd activities, another one being his increasing and maddeningly deep love and lust for her. Despite that first time being one of the best nights of his life, every following nightly visit only served to improve their sexual compatibility and enjoyment. He learned a lot about what she liked, and was surprised at how… unorthodox some things were. An image of his stinging red handprint on Hermione's butt flashed into his mind, forcing him to stiffly shift in his seat.
'Everythin' alright there, Harry?' Hagrid sat beside him, thankfully clueless to the goings-on of Harry's mind. If anyone here practiced Legilimency, he'd be in trouble. Not being able to speak at the moment, Harry settled for a quick nod to appear engrossed in the game being playing before them - which he in truth was before Hermione entered his mind again. 'I bet yeh miss playin', don' yeh?'
'Yeah… Yeah I do, actually. I was pretty decent, wasn't I?' Harry asked, wondering why there'd never been any scouts at his games. Of course, Harry never went to school in his seventh year, perhaps they only scouted those who neared their examination.
'Course yeh were! One of the fines' Seekers I ever seen, in fact. A shame yeh never got the chance ter play for a proper side, if yeh ask me!'
'You did have a talent for getting seriously hurt whenever you flew. I for one am happy to see you at ground level!' Hermione added, and it was true enough. Cursed brooms, bewitched Bludgers, ambushing Dementors… The list was quite extensive.
'Is that - IT IS! Gryffindor Seeker Dixon zooms past her Ravenclaw counterpart who now trails behind in their pursuit of the Golden Snitch! Can he catch up to her before… DIXON CATCHES THE SNITCH, GRYFFINDOR BLOODY WIN!' erupting roars and wild cheers from the Gryffindor end drowned out the commentator's voice, as Harry and Hermione nearly fell over when Hagrid stood up to clap. Harry was feeling more relieved than a sense of joy. He could not bear his side losing to what was supposed to be the weakest of the four teams Hogwarts had to offer. On the pitch, Gryffindor's Elmbrigg seemed to mirror Harry's emotions as he did not partake in his team's celebration. He hadn't played too well, Harry had to admit, and judging by what other's had to say about the Chaser, he had expected more. It was understandable, though. The pressure had gotten to him, simply put. Perhaps a few encouraging words were in order.
Hermione looked somewhat miffed when he bid her and Hagrid goodbye, though she stole a quick kiss when their friendly half-giant looked away before scampering off. Feeling slight regret at leaving her, the steps down to the pitch where slightly heavier than anticipated. To Harry's further surprise, the sad-looking Mr. Elmbrigge was already being consoled by someone. A Ravenclaw player? From the distance, it looked as if… it was! The Ravenclaw Captain Patroclus Dixon had his arm around him, seemingly parting with few comforting words. Harry's curious looks had slowed him down, and just when he was about to speed up again, Edmonde pushed away his comforter in anger, shouting something at the now stunned elder brother of Gryffindor's Seeker and game winner.
'Hey! What's going on here?!' Harry demanded, rushing towards the two rival captains. 'Is Mr. Dixon bothering you, Elmbrigge?'
'I was just -' Patroclus began. He was taller than the Elmbrigge, taller than Harry even, and contrasted his rival's blond hair with his own pitch black.
'He was just leaving,' said Edmonde, casting an angry look his way. 'And he wasn't gloating, if that's what you think, Professor.'
'My apologies, then, Mr. Dixon. Congratulations on a splendid performance. Do keep it up against Slytherin, will you?' he said, smiling to the Ravenclaw Captain who only nodded back before storming off.
'What was all that about, Mr. Elmbrigg? Gryffindor or not, I can not allow you to shove away friendly opponents -'
'It's nothing, Professor. It's just… It's nothing.'
'Nothing? Alright… In any case, I only came here to congratulate you on a… well, a winning performance. That's quite the Seeker you have!' Harry tried, though it didn't seem to do much good judging by Elmbrigg's flaring nostrils and clenched fists.
'Thank you, Professor. Will that be all?'
'Er - yes, I suppose. Good day!'
Feeling more than a bit confused by the whole encounter, both between the two captains and his own with Mr. Elmbrigg, Harry gave up on trying to make sense of any of it as he was making his way back towards his castle. He had detention to supervise with one of the Bodgeberry twins, while the other was forced to serve hers with Neville in the greenhouses. Lexie, Harry's victim for the evening, had reveled in her sister Libby's misery at being handed what appeared to be the harsher of two punishments. It forced him to think of something equally bad, or even worse, than the usual menial garden tasks that detention with Professor Longbottom entailed. He felt quite satisfied with what he came up with.
'I have to do what?!' the first year Hufflepuff exclaimed after Harry had instructed her.
'Clean the cages above you,' Harry repeated, putting on a serious face.
'But - but there are things in those cages! What am I supposed to do with them?' Lexie asked worriedly as she looked up at the scattered cages hanging from the ceiling. Their floor was transparent glass, though dirt, scratches, and slime from the assortment of magical objects had covered them, rendering them harder to see through.
'I should think you knew, Miss Bodgeberry. Seeing as how you haven't troubled to pay attention in my classes, I assume you are already familiar with each and everyone of these… well, not that dangerous objects. Not dangerous for a brilliant witch such as yourself, at least!'
'N-no I pay attention, Professor! I'm sorry, I'll write lines or something! I'll -'
'Well, if you do indeed pay attention, this shouldn't be a problem at all. We have already covered half of them during our term.'
'But I -'
'You can accept this punishment, or you can write lines every evening up until your O.W.L.s. Understood?'
'Er - of course, Professor. I'll just… Which should I start with?'
'Oh, that won't matter, I expect. I recommend taking the cursed eyeball last, though. It has a certain… charm to it, that one might find distracting. I'll be in my office if you need me, Miss Bodgeberry. Good luck!' Harry advised the horrified student as she stared with fear back at the eye in the cage right above her. None of the objects were too dangerous, of course, and it would be a good opportunity for her to learn defence against the dark arts in a more practical manner - while also teaching her a valuable lesson in school discipline.
Retreating back into his office with a satisfied smirk on his face as he sat down to grade essays on Boggarts, an inexplicable feeling of dread crept up his spine, causing the hair on his neck and arms to stand. A faint whisper wiped the grin off his face as he whipped out his wand, standing up and turning around from his desk. No one was there, yet… the whisper was, and louder than before. Words almost formed as the voice grew clearer. It sounded as if there were more than one person, arguing intensely in hushed tones.
'Who's there?!' Harry demanded, not knowing what to expect if they answered. They did not. 'Decima? Is that you? Show yourself!' suddenly they hushed, as Harry was imagining a gathering of ghosts who all stared angrily at him for interrupting them.
'Decima? That's a name I haven't heard in a long time, Harry,' a hoarse whisper replied. Harry's eyes darted across the room uncontrollably, looking for the source of the voice. 'I did not expect to talk with you for a long time, my old friend.'
'I don't care what you expected! What do you want with me?! Face me, you coward!' said Harry, wand still at the ready, yet with no target to aim. The faceless voice merely laughed at his challenge, its crackling sound echoing against the walls of Harry's office.
'Now that's more like the Harry I used to know. Always the hero! The Chosen One, the Boy-Who-Lived. Too important for scum like me,'
'You are scum! You attacked Hermione! You attacked Ron! You -'
'You dare mention the name in my presence? The filthy little Mudblood lo-'
'Aparecium!' Harry shouted, his blood boiling with anger at the despicable insult directed at Hermione. Though the spell intended to reveal any and every invisible presence in his office had no effect - with the whisper now laughing once again. 'Coward!' yelled Harry.
'If I only could, Harry, I would enter your pathetic little room, slit your throat with infinite glee, bathe in the hot red blood with the happiest of smiles, and eat your heart for good measure. As I should have done that night we last met. Alas, being the true coward here as you are, you sent me back a thousand years in time again, where I shall wait for my sweet revenge. But I will wait, Harry. I would wait a thousand lifetimes to see your cold white corpse and blue lips. To wipe that disgusting smirk off your face… To see her cry over your grave before I kill her, too. The thought alone fuels my determination and desire, and gives me more joy than you will ever know.'
Harry was frozen to the spot, hatred and fury overtaking his entire being as his hand was gripping the wand so tightly he could snap it in half with the pure anger that flowed through him as the voice spoke. He would never let Visla touch Hermione. Whoever it was.
'For shame, Harry. No response? No promise of Hermione's false safety, or lies of how you will stop me? As usual, you disappoint. I'm afraid I cannot linger here, old friend. I have important matters to attend before we meet again. Until next time, Harry Potter.'
'No!' Harry cried out, knowing it wouldn't be of any use. 'Come back here and face me!' he yelled. Yet the sense of dread, of not being alone in an empty room, was gone. As if he had been transported back to his own office of a few minutes past, with essays, letters, quills, and… Harry's flew into his office door, tackling it open to reach the classroom where a busy Miss Bodgeberry was struggling in a wrestling match with something invisible, trying to shove it into an empty but clean cage beside them.
'Professor! I can't… Help! I can't see it!' she begged. 'It turned invisible!' Breathing a sigh of relief that his student hadn't heard anything from his office, Harry took a few steps to reach her side.
'You can see it, Miss Bodgeberry. Use your wand. Do you recall the Revelio Charm?'
Determined not to tell Hermione about Visla's whispered threats towards her, he instead put the strange conversation in the back of his mind as he made his way to dinner that same evening, escorting the now exhausted Miss Bodgeberry along the way.
The Great Hall was filled with lively chatter about the extraordinary game of Quidditch they had all witnessed earlier in the day. Most students seemed to agree that Ravenclaw had impressed, while Elmbrigg's team looked overtrained and underwhelming. Harry could not help but pick up gossips regarding the feud between the two captains, though; several students claimed that the Gryffindor Seeker, who was the younger sister of the Ravenclaw Captain, had saved the future career of Edmonde and had said as much to his face. Others whispered of a secret love affair between the younger Seeker and her captain. There were even those who adamantly asserted that they had in fact seen the Ravenclaw Captain Patroclus Dixon and Mr. Elmbrigg sneak off into the Forbidden Forest, apparently to duel over Briseis Dixon's hand. Though it did not concern Harry in the slightest, he had to admit that his curiosity was piqued.
'Say, Hermione, what do you reckon is going on between Elmbrigg and the Dixons?' Harry turned to his own secret lover, who was sitting between him and Neville. She looked up from her copy of the Daily Prophet to consider the two captains, sitting a table apart.
'I… I think we should respect the student's privacy, Professor!' she turned her attention back to her paper.
'If you ask me, Patroclus is forbidding his sister from seeing Edmonde,' the short and plump muggle-born teacher of Muggle Studies, Olivia Thompson, chimed in. She was sitting on Harry's left and had previously been engulfed in a muggle-newspaper that claimed it had "Fifteen ways to lose weight without eating less!", which Harry was seriously doubting the truth of. 'I saw the two of them arguing on the pitch after the game, before you stepped in, Harry,' she said, which made Hermione lower the Prophet again. 'And it's not the first time they've had a row. I caught them once arguing right outside an abandoned classroom where I often go to... Well, I gave them detention, in any case.'
'Why would he forbid Briseis from seeing him?' asked Neville, his mouth filled with food. Hermione rolled her eyes and put down her paper.
'I do not think it appropriate that we discuss the love lives of our students!' she said. Harry agreed, silently returning to his plate of food while regretting he brought the matter up in the first place.
Dinner passed uneventfully after Hermione's little lecture. Hermione told Harry of a letter she had received to the Weasley household, inviting the two of them over for a weekend. It would be nice to see the Burrow again, in particular to meet Ginny and her children. Reuniting with Wood could wait, Harry thought. He did not really have ill feelings towards his old captain, though he was supposing that the whole situation demand that he should have, seeing as how Oliver was married to his ex-girlfriend. Then again, Harry was in too good of a place at the moment to have any bitter feelings. Especially as Hermione made no effort to hide holding his hand as they walked out of the Great Hall, apparently being in a bit of an adventurous mood as she looked back at him with a knowing smile. When she and Harry were slowly making their way towards her office, she leaned in to his ear without even checking if there were any students around them - a routine they had previously decided on.
'Room of Requirement. I'll be there soon…' she whispered very close to his ear, her warm breath gently grazing his skin and sending a wave of anticipation rippling throughout his body. '…wearing next to nothing under my robes.'
Harry said nothing when Hermione entered her office, not daring to breathe or even blink as if fearing it would wake him from this dreamlike state. When his senses returned to him, he was running towards the seventh floor - hasting to reach the hidden door before any students could interrupt him.