Harry had left the Hogs Head a little poorer in money, and a lot poorer in time. Professor Sprout, luckily, was the one to wave him home, all the while chuntering about how he should have gone home earlier.
Well, Harry knew that.
The Hogs head had been surprisingly peaceful, for a dodgy pub. No fights, no raised voices - not even someone being thrown out for letting their bar tab grow too large to handle.
Harry'd have spent more time there, if he'd realized he'd had something to be procrastinating about.
Harry was actually kinda okay at reading, normally. If it was something he could care about, and he could care about most anything.
This was Geneology, and History, and he'd always been bad with History.
Oh, it had been easy enough to pick up from the BBC History documentaries - at least the fun stuff, the stuff about War and Empire.
But this? This was details and detailed enough to leave him lost in the ornamentation.
Worst of all? Hermione was entirely within her element, which made her a horrible teacher. Again. She had this trace of impatience, and when she wanted Harry to remember the details...
By the next morning, Harry was wiped out, even though he hadn't gotten out of bed yet.
With a sigh, he realized he'd better get his run in, before Hermione the Book Terror appeared. Not that he minded Hermione, he just didn't think he could memorize all the books before the end of the weekend. She could, and so she wanted them both to do it.
While Harry ran, he tried to be alert for traps, but mostly his mind wandered back to the geneology books. Everyone in the wizarding world was related. It wasn't just a British trait. He could (and had) traced the Patils back five generations, until they had a marriage with a Chang. Harry wasn't sure if that was the same Changs that Cho was from. He figured he probably shouldn't ask, though.
In the shower, Harry was still thinking, trying to think about just how much power Minerva McGonagall had over Hermione and himself. She could, in an emergency, veto a marriage. She certainly could draw blood for several arcane rituals (although those were circumscribed to both be healing and voluntary). Who would have thought that being a Housemaster would have so much power?
As a child, Harry had thought the Headmaster of Hogwarts held a lot of power, but it turns out that wasn't the case. It was a titular title, and one that came with respect, and meant the public face of Hogwarts. However, there was relatively little power associated with it.
Harry hadn't understood, at the time, that Dumbledore couldn't actually throw Harry out of Hogwarts. Neither could Snape, for that matter. It was actually up to Minerva McGonagall. Which kind of made all the fuss at Dumbledore's Office irrelevant.
Still, Harry thought, it might have served to dramaticize exactly HOW much trouble Harry Potter had managed to wind himself up in, and how hard it was going to be for the Entire School to get him out. Again.
That stunt with Art Weasley's flying car was deplorable. Really, it was. It had been an 'Adventure.' It wasn't the sort of thing to be proud of, looking back on it.
Harry didn't want to know what the Obliviators thought of having to spend so much time because of two second year students at Hogwarts. A properly running ministry would have fined them. Maybe they'd just fined Art instead, Harry thought.
Apparently, Flitwick had drawn the short straw this week, as he was waiting with the hordes of oglers out on the stands around the Pitch. Fittingly for the pint-sized Ravenclaw, he had two pennants in his hands - one for Slytherin and one for Gryffindor. He does realize we're not actually playing, right?
Harry had descended from Gryffindor Tower in his Quiddich gear, so he simply swung a leg over his broom. He started in on, well, flying, feeling that sense of everything that ever worried him floating away from him, until it was just a piece of wood, and the wind, and him. It had faded before Malfoy set foot on the Pitch, and Harry had turned his excitement into the far more practical warmup drills.
Malfoy, appeared shortly, and didn't stop to mug for the crowd (thank goodness).
Harry flew just two feet higher than Malfoy, smiling a daring Gryffindor smile, "Want to give these idiots a show to remember?"
Malfoy looked considering. "What do you have in mind?"
Harry said, "Near collisions. Pretend we're looking for the snitch, but really see how close we dare fly."
Malfoy frowned, "That sounds a bit dangerous."
A smile traced the edges of Harry's face, "Kiinda the point. Unless you want to head home for Christmas?" Harry, as usual, was running two steps behind his own mind.
Now a smirk flickered over the edges of Malfoy's pointy face, "Let's do it." he said, with firm confidence.
If Harry had proved, over three seasons on the Quiddich Team, that it was remarkably easy to get injured or fly into something when you weren't trying, well...
It turned out to be easier to say you were going to fly into someone on purpose than actually do it. The first time, Harry had tried to sideswipe Malfoy's broom. That hadn't worked (and Harry had to turn to an Immelman in order to avoid Malfoy's counterattack). Worse, it felt like cheating. Probably because the spectators booed.
They weren't even playing a game.
Still, practicing cheating was a good way to get yourself called a cheater.
Which meant that the appropriate way to get this done was a fullbody tackle.
Nobody would mistake that for cheating.
It was completely impractical, and also liable to get them both killed.
Even with Flitwick watching.
Harry circled around, again, thinking of just the right angle. He squinted his eyes, working on aligning his broom in the wind. (Malfoy, meanwhile, was trying to look innocent and unaffected by Potter's unexpected swerves near him).
The moment before he dove, Harry heard, Always have to play the hero, mmm, Potter?
The wind was so fast that Harry'd lost vision before he actually hit Malfoy, the pain from the collision making sparks appear in front of his eyes.
And then, all-encompassing darkness.
[a/n: Well, Malfoy was going to have something to say about Stupid Gryffindors having to play catchup.
If you've been hating the Quiddich chapters, now's the time to speak up. If you've loved them, now's the time to speak up.