The Golden Thread::Book Two::Chamber of Secrets::

The Rouge Bludger in the Rain

Harry awoke super early the next day, Ron and Hermione were still snoozing peacefully beside him. Harry smiled at the sight then and stared at the canopy above him. He was thinking about the coming game, he felt the usual pre-game nerves. He had never wanted to beat Slytherin so badly, Gryffindor was depending on him and Ron would be watching. Harry didn't want to let him down. The odds didn't look good though, he was about to face a team on the fastest brooms gold could buy.

After about half an hour of staring at the canopy and worrying he gave up on more sleep. He slipped out of bed, ran a hand softly through Ron and Hermione's hair without waking them, gathered his shower things and left the dorm.

He arrived for breakfast early and found the rest of his team waiting for him, sitting at the end of the empty Gryffindor table. He plopped himself between Fred and George.

"Morning, munchkin." George said, giving him a playful shove. Harry gave him a half-hearted grin, it was a nickname the twins had given him earlier in the year. They told him it was because he was tiny..and the youngest member of the Quidditch team. It was a name his Quidditch teammates had taken up as well.

"You ready for this?" Fred asked

"Sure thing." Harry answered, trying to sound more confident that he actually was. He grabbed some breakfast and tried to eat, he needed his energy, but it was like trying to eat cardboard. As eleven o'clock ticked nearer the team headed off to the locker rooms, walking along with the rest of the school headed towards the Quidditch Pitch. The day was muggy and there was a hint of thunder in the air.

Just before Harry got into Ron and Hermione ran up to him.

"Harry!" Ron called.

"Hey guys." Harry said, smiling at them.

They smiled back "Don't worry. You can do this." Hermione said, giving him a hug.

Ron ruffled Harry's hair and then took both of his hands "Good luck, Harry. You'll be great. Show Malfoy a thing or two."

Harry's smile widened, their confidence was making him feel brave "Thanks guys. Well, I'll see you later." he turned and walked into the locker room and joined the rest of the team. Once they had all changed Wood gave them a pre-match pep talk.

"No use denying that Slytherin has better brooms." He began "But we've got better players on our brooms, we'll make them regret letting that scum, Malfoy, buy his way on to their team."

Wood then looked at Harry "We're counting on you, munchkin, you've got to show Malfoy that a seeker needs more than a rich father. You're better than he is no matter what so get that snitch before Malfoy or die trying because we've got to win today..we just have to."

"So..ya know..no pressure there, munchkin." Fred chuckled, winking at him.

They made their way onto the pitch to roar of noise. Cheers from their fellow Gryffidors as well as Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs who usually sided with them in their matches against Slytherin. Nobody liked Slytheirn wins. They also heard boos and hisses coming from the Slytherin section of the stands. The Slytherins came out of their locker room on the other side of the pitch. Madame Hooch blew her whistle and the game began.

Harry shot up higher than anyone else, looking for the snitch. He knew he had to end this quickly. If Malfoy spotted the snitch before him it was over, he'd never outspeed Malfoy's Nimbus 2001.

Suddenly Malfoy shot past him as if to show off the speed of his broom "Alright, scarhead?" He called mockingly. Harry didn't have a chance to answer because a Bludger had just narrowly missed his head, it had been so close that he felt it ruffle his hair.

"Watch yourself, munchkin. That was too close." George called as he pelted after the Bludger, club raised. Harry watched as George whacked the Bludger hard in the direction of one of the Slytherin chasers, but it swung back like a boomerang and went for Harry again. Harry swerved downward and avoided it. George gave it another hit, aiming for Malfoy but once again the Bludger changed direction midair and shot after Harry as if a magnet was attracting it. Harry zoomed off toward the other side of the pitch. He heard the Bludger whizzing along behind him. What on earth was this? Bludgers were supposed to unseat as many players as possible, they never concentrated on one player like this.

He flew towards Fred and then rocketed upward, Fred caught the Bludger with a heavy whack from his bat.

"That'll do it!" Fred yelled happily. He was wrong. The bludger changed direction again and zoomed towards Harry, who was once again forced to take off at full speed. Fred and George joined him, trying to repel the Bludger's attacks but Harry couldn't see a thing besides their arms on either side of him. He'd never find the snitch like this, let alone catch the thing. Even worse, it had started to rain. Lee Jordan also announced that the score was sixty to zero with Slytherin in the lead.

"Someone's messed with this bludger." Fred snarled as he whacked it away yet again.

"We need to call time out." George said, signaling to Wood who got the point. Madame Hooch's whistle sounded and they pelted toward the ground still trying to avoid the crazy Bludger's assaults.

"What on earth is going on?" Wood asked as the team got into a huddle, he glared at Fred and George "Where were you two when that bludger stopped Angie from scoring?"

"Twenty feet above her stopping the other bludger from killing munchkin." George answered angrily "It hasn't gone for anyone else all game. The Slytherins must've fixed it somehow."

Wood looked shocked "There was nothing wrong with the bludgers at our last practice and since then they've been locked up in Madame Hooch's office."

Harry could see the Slytherins jeering at him over Wood's shoulder. He squared his shoulders and looked at the twins, determination blazing in his green eyes "Listen, guys if you keep flying around me like you have been I'll never catch the snitch. Go back to the rest of the team. I can handle the rouge one on my own."

The rest of the team launched into protests.

"No way." Katie Bell said at once

"That's too dangerous." Angelina agreed

"You're nuts, munchkin, the thing'll take your head off." George added.

Wood was looking between Harry and the Weasley twins nervously

"This is crazy.." Alicia said "Oliver, let's ask for an inquiry."

"No!" Harry snapped at once "If we stop now, we'll forfeit the game and we aren't losing to the Slytherins just because of some stupid bludger."

"This is all your fault.." George snapped at Wood "Get the snitch or die trying..what a mental thing to tell him."

Madame Hooch joined them "Are you ready to continue play?" she asked.

Wood looked at Harry and nodded

"Yeah, we are." He said "Fred, George. You heard what munchkin said, leave him be. Let's go."

As the rain continued to fall they kicked off again and Harry zipped through the air, trying to look for the snitch and avoid the bludger at the same time. Malfoy jeered at him as he did a sort of twirl in the air to avoid it. He turned to glare at his rival and then he spotted it. The snitch! It was hovering right next to Malfoy's ear. Malfoy hadn't seen it because he was too busy laughing at Harry. Harry didn't know what he should do. He was afraid to zoom toward Malfoy just in case he looked up and saw the snitch...

Wham!

Harry had stayed still to long and the bludger had taken advantage. It smashed into his elbow and Harry felt his arm snap. Dazed with pain he had just one thought in his head: Get to Malfoy.

He dove towards Malfoy through a the rain, hanging on to his broom with one hand. Malfoy, who thought Harry was now attacking him, dived out of the way. Harry took his remaining hand off the broomstick and made a wild snatch into the air he felt the snitch in his hand. Now only holding on only with his legs Harry lost his balance and toppled off his broom into the mud. His arm was hanging oddly and he blinked dizzily at the snitch in his hand as he listened to the roar of shouting and whistling from the crowd

"We...we won..." He said stupidly and then the world went black.