8th November 1991
It's always the same
I'm having a nervous breakdown
Drive me insane!"
Fred was staring dumbstruck at the sight in front of him. George had asked him to get Mark down to the common room for help with a prank they'd been planning. However, when he got to the first-year dorms, he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
Mark was standing on his bed busy shredding on his guitar, singing in an awful high-pitched voice. Beside him Neville was banging on his upturned cauldron with his potion stirring spoon, providing the beats for Mark.
"Hey Gred, what's taking you so-" George said bounding up the steps, before joining his brother in awed silence. Neville seemed to have noticed them, and immediately stopped. Mark, confused to why the beats had stopped looked around before following suit. Panting, he asked still standing on his bed.
"Hey, guys, what's up?"
"That was bloody brilliant!" the twins said together, before turning towards each other for a moment. They seemed to be having a silent conversation. Finally, George turned back towards Mark and excitedly said
"You've got to teach us!"
"What?" Mark was not clear what they were referring to. Fred clarified,
"To play like that. You can teach us." Mark seemed surprised at this, and he looked towards Neville. He looked like Christmas had come early.
"But-But- I'm not that good guys," Mark finally stammered out. He was a decent player, but he didn't think he was good enough to teach.
"Are you kidding!" they all exclaimed at once. Mark was so surprised that he fell onto his mattress. They started babbling together, mentioning something about the best they'd ever heard and something about somebody's weird sister.
"Ok, Ok, Fine." Mark asserted loud enough to silence them. The three boys started grinning.
'What am I going to do with them?' he thought to himself. Shaking his head, he walked to his trunk. He'd always wanted to have a band of his own.
'Yeah, but not one made of people with zero experience,' his thoughts retorted. He finally removed his father's old acoustic bass guitar and shut the trunk closed. He walked back and stood in front of the boys.
"Ok. If you want me to teach you, you'll need to do something." He warned the twins. They nodded vigorously.
"Can you guys transfigure something into drums? We can't practice with cauldrons"
"Done," Fred replied immediately. "I call dibs on drums" he added.
"Not fair," Neville retorted immediately.
"We can work that out later. We obviously can't practice in the dorms with other students in the tower. They'll kick us out." Mark said, drawing their attention again.
"There are some abandoned classrooms which are sufficiently isolated," piped in George. "We can use those. Nobody ever goes there."
"Brilliant. One last thing, are you sure about this?" Mark asked in an amused tone.
"Yes," came the immediate reply.
"Good, because the two of you will be convincing Professor McGonagall to give us permission to practice."
"Did you get it? What's the matter?" Ron asked Harry, who had just entered the common room.
Harry had gone to retrieve the copy of Quidditch through the Ages which he had borrowed from the Library and had been confiscated by Snape earlier that day. However, when he had gone to the staffroom, a horrible scene met his eyes.
Inside, Snape and Filch were alone, with Snape holding his robes above his knees, exposing a leg that was bloody and mangled. Filch was handing the potions master bandages. It was however what Harry had heard that had been revealing.
"Blasted thing," Snape was saying. "How is one supposed to watch out for all three heads at once?"
Harry had tried to leave quietly but had been detected. After weakly asking for his book, he ran back to the common room.
"No, he wouldn't" Hermione had said when he proposed that Snape had tried to get past the three-headed dog at Halloween and may have even let the troll in.
"Look, Harry. I know he's not nice-" Ron snorted at this. She gave him a pointed look before continuing.,
"-but he wouldn't try and steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe." Harry had filled his friends on the mysterious object that Hagrid had retrieved from Gringotts when they had gone to Diagon Alley, as well as on the break-in at the bank a day later.
"Hermione, you believe all the teachers are saints or something-" Ron retorted. "Harry's right. I wouldn't put anything past Snape. But what is that dog guarding?"
Harry frowned pondering on the mystery. When he went back to the dorm at night, Mark and Neville were talking in hushed tones. He saw what looked like two guitars on Mark's bed; only one of them was a bit longer.
"Why do you have two of them?" he asked his roommate. Mark turned.,
"Oh, this one's actually a bass. It was my father's when he was younger," Mark supplied pointing towards the longer one.
Harry's face fell as if he had been punched in the gut. He had never even thought about any of his father's belongings, let alone see them.
"You alright mate?" Mark asked in a worried tone. Harry faked a smile and nodded, before quickly slipping under the covers.
He tried to sleep, but his thoughts just wouldn't leave him alone. He wondered about the Quidditch Match against Slytherin tomorrow, and if he would somehow manage to not make a fool of himself.
Wood had been scheduling last-minute practices since last week, and Harry had been glad to have Hermione's help with all the homework. She had let him read her essays but refused to let him copy directly.
"How will you learn?" she had chided him when he had asked. The thoughts of the upcoming match wandered off to his father once again.
After Professor McGonagall had told him about his father, Harry had gone to the trophy room to check. Indeed, James Potter had been a chaser during his school years, even being the Quidditch Captain for Gryffindor, according to the plaques there.
Harry felt his cheeks get wet and realised he had started crying. He tried hard to shift his attention to something other than his father, and remembered the conversation about Snape.
He knew he wasn't the most impartial judge of the Potions master, but he was sure that the Professor had gone to the third floor and that he had attempted to get past the three-headed dog. Still wondering about the package from Gringotts, Harry dozed off.
9th November 1991
"Ok, men," Wood said, facing his team in the locker room, as they were changing into the scarlet Quidditch robes of Gryffindor.
"And women." Angelina Johnson, the lead chaser interrupted.
"Yes, and women," Wood agreed. "It's Slytherin. The big one."
"The one we've all been waiting for," chimed in the twins.
"They know Oliver's speech by heart," Alicia told Mark, who was standing behind with the other reserves.
"Shut it you two," snapped Wood. "This is by far the best team assembled in years. We're going to win." His glared at them to challenge him on it.
"All right then. Good luck" he said to the starting team, before turning to the reserves.
"Longbottom, Weasley," he began, and was interrupted by two "Yes" from his Beaters.
"No, not you two. Ron." he cleared before continuing, "Slytherins will be focusing on the Seekers and Chasers, so both of you can head to the stand."
The two boys patted their teammates and left.
Mark and the other reserves headed for the bench, as the rest of the team walked out into the field to loud cheers. He noticed Madam Hooch their flying instructor was refereeing, standing in the middle of the field with her broom in her hand.
The teams mounted on their brooms, and after a moment, a loud whistle blast was heard. Mark saw the team take off, and the Quaffle started passing around. He tried to track the red streak across the air, keeping just ahead of the commentary.
"And the Quaffle is taken immediately by Angelia Johnson - what an excellent chaser, rather attractive, too-"
Mark snorted. Lee Jordan was commentating heartily from the announcer's box, closely watched by Professor McGonagall. The Quaffle followed a complicated path, ending back in Angelina's hand before she feigned and scored.
Mark cheered along with his fellow housemates; it had been a spectacular throw. He continued to study the passing between Alicia and Katie Bell, as they manoeuvred through the Slytherin defences. After a while, he heard the crowd suddenly go silent, and realised that the snitch must have been spotted.
He saw Harry speeding on his Nimbus towards the Slytherin chasers, who had stopped playing to watch the Seeker.
'Stupid oafs' Mark thought, 'stopping to play because the snitch had been seen.' They should try and score when everyone was sufficiently distracted. The Slytherin captain, however, had other ideas, and he slammed into Harry, his broom spinning off course.
"FOUL!" The Gryffindors cried out, and Madam Hooch awarded the penalty. Alicia scored once again, and the game continued.
Mark realised what Wood had meant when he had said that the Slytherins 'play dirty.' The Slytherins had now gotten possession of the Quaffle and had managed to score again.
He turned his head and looked at Harry to see if their Seeker had seen the snitch, and was met by an odd sight. Harry seemed to jump up and down, his broom shaking wildly.
Mark borrowed a pair of binoculars from Dean beside him and looked again. Harry seemed alright now, clambering onto his broom. He suddenly leaned forward and sped towards the ground.
Mark quickly looked in the direction Harry was headed and saw a glint of gold. He gave a cry of victory seconds before Harry managed to nearly swallow and capture the snitch, ending the match in favour of Gryffindor two-hundred to sixty.
"How do you know about Fluffy?" asked Hagrid.
"Fluffy?" Ron and Hermione exclaimed together. They were having a cup of tea in Hagrid's hut, explaining him and Harry how they had seen Snape curse Harry's Nimbus while he was still in mid-air.
Hagrid had dismissed their speculations outright, and the three had told him about how they knew the potions master had attempted to access the forbidden third-floor corridor.
"Yeah - he's mine. I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the -"
"Yes?" said Harry eagerly, encouraging Hagrid to spill the secret.
"It's none of yer business. That's top secret," Hagrid said in a stern voice.
"But what about Snape-"
"Rubbish. Professor Snape is a Hogwarts teacher, and Professor Dumbledore trusts 'im" Hagrid said again.
"But then why did he try to kill Harry?" cried Hermione. "I know a jinx when I see one, and Snape was not breaking eye contact!"
"I'm tellin' yeh, yer wrong!" Hagrid snapped. "Harry's broom may have been jinxed, but it sure wasn't Snape. He wouldn't try to kill a student!" he said with confidence. Calming himself, he said
"Now you kids listen to me, all three of yeh. Don't meddle in things that don' concern yeh. You better forget that dog, an' forget wondering bout what it's guardin', for that's between Professor Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel-" he caught himself, but the cat was already out of the bag.
"Ha! So there is a Nicolas Flamel involved, isn't there?"
"You want my permission to officially make a racket in one of the empty classrooms?" Professor McGonagall said in a disbelieving tone.
"Learn and practice music, Professor," George clarified. The twins had come to ask the professor permission to practice and had also dragged along Mark and Neville.
"And why exactly can you not do that in the Hogwarts choir, Mr Weasley?" she asked.
"Eh - It's not - It's not exactly -" George stammered. Fred piped in,
"It's old fashioned, Professor. We wish to make music of the times"
McGonagall stared at them for a moment before she spoke,
"Mr Weasleys, you are both already a part of the Quidditch team, and you have your classes to study for. When will you find time to do this?"
The twins stood in awkward silence. She continued,
"Your mother has already written to me that she fears for your grades. I understand that this is something you wish to pursue seriously, but as your Head of House, it-"
Mark decided to interrupt and cleared his throat.
"Yes, Mr Smith?"
"Just two words, professor. Fewer Pranks"
"Permission granted," came the immediate reply.