The next D.A. meeting wasn't until Sunday, and it would be the first one in a couple of weeks. With the first Quidditch match of the season coming up, Angelina had the Gryffindor team working every day. Montague believed in working smarter, not harder, feeling that overworking the team would only tire them out. He thought what Angelina was doing was laughable. Harry wanted to point out that Wood had done the same thing in his three years as Captain, and it had paid off their last year. Montague had booked the pitch for Friday night as last-minute training.
While practice had gone well and the team was set for their match against Gryffindor, things had not improved with Draco. The blonde was still ignoring him, and he was still sitting next to Theodore in all of his classes as he had been for the past two weeks. He kept repeating that this was the right thing, despite Draco's anger, and he could only hope they could work past it and still be friends. It didn't appear as if that was going to be the case, though. He was just glad that Draco hadn't been participating in the rest of the Slytherin Quidditch team's attempts to throw the Gryffindor team off balance. He hadn't done anything to stop them, either, but Harry would take what he could get.
Saturday morning, he met up with Hermione before their defense lesson with Severus. She was excited for the next D.A. meeting the following night and was already talking about what spell she was going to teach them next. "I just think that the Reductor Curse is the next good thing after what we've done so far," she was saying. "I mean, we've done the Disarming Spell, the Stunning Spell, and the Impediment Jinx. Everyone is doing much better, too. I just think that it's a good idea. Thanks for all the feedback, too, Harry. It's really great having someone to talk to about this and bounce ideas off of."
Harry nodded, smiling up at her. "No problem," he said. "I told you when you had the idea that I would help you out if you needed me to."
Every Saturday morning after a meeting, she would tell him what she had planned, and while she didn't really need his advice, she seemed to enjoy it when he said to her that he thought she was on the right track, or that she should hold off on a particular spell a bit. After all, Hermione was a bit above the rest of the class. It had been her idea to use fake Galleons to show when the next meeting would be. Her boyfriend, Terry Boot, had smiled at her when complimenting her, saying that it was NEWT-level and that she should have been in Ravenclaw. Hermione had blushed and told him that the hat had considered Ravenclaw before putting her in Gryffindor.
Hermione smiled at him. "Thank you; I appreciate that," she said. "So, are you nervous about your first Quidditch match?"
He chuckled. "Well, it's not my first, but no, not really," he said. "No more than I would be before any other match. It's just a bit strange that I'm going to be playing against the Gryffindors. I mean, they're my friends… were my friends. I mean, Fred and George still are, but…"
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Hermione said, "but you have to deal with your life as it is now. I'll be rooting for Gryffindor, of course, but I hope you do well."
Harry smiled up at her. He knew that she was right, and playing Quidditch helped with dealing with everything else that he needed to at the moment. "Thanks, Hermione, I appreciate that," he said, as his father walked in to start their lesson.
Severus had cut their training short to allow Harry to go down to the Quidditch Pitch for the first game. He quickly headed down to the Slytherin locker room, arriving at the same time as Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Everyone quickly changed as Montague paced at one end of the locker room. He had just finished changing when Draco came up to him.
Draco's hair was Slytherin Green and Silver, split right down the middle. He was holding two combs, one of each color in his hand. "They're Salenia's," he said before Harry had a chance to ask. "Her aunt works as a Product Developer at Magical Beautifying Solutions and sent them to her to try out. She gave them to me so that the team could use them for the game." Harry looked around and saw that everyone else had done it already. He hadn't been paying attention.
Harry stared at Draco for a moment, wanting desperately to say something to him, something to fix what was going on between them. There was nothing he could say, though. "Come on, it's about team spirit," Draco said when Harry said nothing. Harry took the combs, running one through each side of his hair. Draco took the combs back, and right then, there was a knock on the door. Draco rushed over, opening the door a crack and slipping the combs through.
After that, he and Draco sat down with the others. Montague was still pacing. Everyone just sat there and watched him before he stopped pacing and faced them, starting to speak. "Okay, team, we've been performing very well in practice, aside from that one hiccough Tuesday night," he said, turning his gaze to Harry before he continued speaking. "The Gryffindor team has been together for a long time. Johnson, Spinnet, Bell, and the Weasley Twins… this is their fourth season together, and the other two members of the team are both Weasley's. They're going to be comfortable together. They know every move that each other is going to make. We don't have that, not all of us together. What we do have is power and aggression. If we play the way we've been playing in practice, we can break them."
Everyone cheered and clapped, and they made their way out onto the field. The Gryffindor team arrived a moment later, their hair done in Gryffindor House Red and Gold. Ron looked incredibly nervous. "Captains, shake hands," announced Madam Hooch. Montague and Angelina stepped forward, and Harry could see that he was trying to break her fingers, but Angelina didn't flinch a bit. "Everyone mount their brooms. On the count three… one… two… three…" She blew her whistle, and fourteen brooms flew up into the air.
Harry saw Ron and Bletchley head towards the goalposts in opposite directions, while both Draco and Ginny headed up over the rest of them. This was where he wanted to be, and as with the excitement of the match, everything felt right again. He could still hear Jordan's voice drifting in and out, though the wind was biting a bit. "And it's Johnson with the Quaffle, she's ducked Pucey, passed Montague - and ooh, she's been hit by a Bludger from behind, Montague has the Quaffle -" Harry shot forward, waiting for the pass from Montague, but George had hit him with a Quaffle from behind, or at least that's what Jordan had said. The Quaffle was in Gryffindor's possession now.
Katie flew forward, passing back towards Alicia, who passed back towards Angelina. The Gryffindors were screaming so loud it was deafening, as Harry, Montague, and Pucey tried to race towards them, but Angelina passed towards Katie, who shot forward. He'd never played against them, and while he was faster, he saw what Montague was saying now - they had played together for years, and it showed. Katie shot the Quaffle forward, but Bletchley blocked it. Bletchley threw it to him, and Harry caught it, shooting forward towards Ron.
Harry passed it back towards Pucey and shot forward again. He caught another pass from Montague, before shooting towards Ron. Ron was sitting there, on his broom, and he could see the furious glare that the redhead was shooting towards him. He threw the Quaffle towards the left goal hoop and watched it slide right by Ron's outstretched hand. "Snape scores! Slytherin leads ten to nothing," Lee Jordan said over the announcer as Harry sped off. "That was the first test for new Gryffindor Keeper, Ron Weasley. Let's see if he can bounce back from that."
Harry almost hoped he could, in the name of their old friendship, but on the other hand, that meant rooting against his own team. That was not an option, as he didn't like losing. He caught another pass from Pucey and then shot forward before passing back towards Montague as he flew past Alicia. Montague passed it towards him. Harry caught it and shot forward again. That is until he felt a Bludger hit his shoulder. It didn't feel broken or anything, but there was enough pain that he let the Quaffle go. "Oh, good Bludger from Fred Weasley - or George Weasley, ah who cares, one of them - and Snape drops the Quaffle," Jordan announces. "And Katie Bell - er, she drops it, too, and it's Slytherin Captain Montague with the Quaffle, and he's going down the pitch. Come on, Gryffindor, block him!"
Harry, for the first time in his life, hoped that they didn't. He knew how good Fred and George were, but he raced forward and saw Pucey in the corner of his eye on Montague's other side. Their Captain passed right towards Pucey, and Harry dropped back as Pucey dove around Alicia. He shot towards Ron, and he heard Jordan yell at Ron to stop it. He didn't, though, and Slytherin was up twenty to nothing. It was no time to rest on their laurels, though.
Angelina raced towards their goal, and he raced after her. Montague was on one side, and Pucey was on the other. They had worked out moves where all three of them scored, even though Harry was their best scorer and fastest flier. If they focused on him, it would give the Gryffindors too much of a target. Angelina raced forward her goal, passing it back towards Katie, who streaked forward as Harry and the other two Slytherin Chasers raced forward to catch them. He dove forward to intercept as Katie passed to Alicia, but Alicia was too quick. It was like the girls were reading each other's minds.
Alicia shot forward towards the goal, and Bletchley reached to block, but her goal sailed past his fingers. "GRYFFINDOR SCORES! Twenty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan announced, as Angelina caught the Quaffle. She passed it towards Katie, but Harry snuck in, intercepting it and speeding down towards the other end of the field, and back towards Ron. He passed over to Montague, who sped forward, before passing back to Pucey. Harry sped around them, and Pucey passed him the Quaffle. Harry sped forward, the goal in his sights. He tossed forward, and once again, Ron let the goal slide by. "Snape scores again! Thirty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan announced. "Come on, Gryffindor!"
"JORDAN!" McGonagall bellowed, but Harry couldn't hear Jordan's response because of the wind in his ears. He'd always enjoyed listening to Jordan's commentary, but it was harder now while he was playing Chaser because he didn't have time to just sit up above everything and listen as he looked around. Montague caught the Quaffle, and Harry sped back towards him as he passed to Pucey. One of the Weasley twins caught him with a Bludger - Jordan didn't know which, so neither did Harry - and Katie caught the Quaffle and sped back towards the other end of the pitch. Harry was after her, and he saw Montague and Pucey right alongside him.
Katie passed back towards Angelina, who speed up before passing over towards Alicia. A bludger hit her straight in the back - according to Jordan's commentary, it had been Crabbe - and she dropped the Quaffle. Pucey picked it up, and Harry turned around, speeding back towards the other end of the pitch. Pucey passed it back towards him, and Harry caught it, speeding around Katie, who came up rather quickly on him. He passed back towards Montague, who speed forward. Ron was there, but Montague sailed the Quaffle right past him. "Montague scores. Forty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan said.
Alicia had the Quaffle, and she sped off before passing to Katie. Katie dodged Pucey, who came upon her and then went around Montague. Harry was speeding past them as Katie passed to Angelina. Angelina was off, and he tried to intercept her, but she went right around him and towards the goal. She let go of the Quaffle, and it soared into the goal. "GRYFFINDOR SCORES!" he heard Jordan yell above the wind in his ears. "Forty to twenty to Slytherin!"
Pucey had the Quaffle now and was speeding towards the other end of the pitch. He passed it back towards Montague, and Harry sped past Katie to come upon Montague, who passed it towards him. Harry sped around Alicia, who came upon them, too. He passed the Quaffle back towards Montague, who passed it back towards Pucey, but Angelina intervened and sped back down towards the other end of the pitch. Angelina passed it back to Katie. Katie sped forward, but she was caught by a Bludger in the shoulder, according to Jordan, it was from Goyle this time. Pucey had the Quaffle and was headed back towards Ron again.
Harry quickly sped forward, past his teammates, and saw Montague coming up beside him. He caught the Quaffle and went forward towards the goalposts. Throwing the Quaffle, it soared past Ron once again. "Snape scores again, third goal of the game for him, and it's fifty to twenty to Slytherin!" Jordan announced. "Come on, Gryffindor!" He was off again, though, and the wind in his ears drowned out Jordan's voice again until he heard the Slytherin crowd erupt. He slowed down a bit to listen to what Jordan was saying. Montague had the Quaffle. "Malfoy has gone into a dive! He's seen the Snitch!"
Harry glanced up, and sure enough, about twenty feet away, Draco had gone into a dive. He saw something start streaking towards him, and there was Ginny, right on him. "Here comes Weasley - Ginny, that is, the Seeker, younger sister - but she's coming from too far away! Come on, Ginny! She has the better broom, a Firebolt - Potter's Firebolt, I wonder -"
"JORDAN!" McGonagall yelled.
"Sorry, Professor," Jordan said. "Malfoy is gaining on the Snitch, but Weasley is gaining on him, and - no, Malfoy's caught the Snitch. Malfoy has caught the SnitchSnitch. Slytherin has won. First victory against Gryffindor in years, but Slytherin has won." The disappointment in his voice was evident, but Harry couldn't help it as they all sunk to the ground. He was elated. "Final score: two hundred to twenty."
The entire team was sinking to the ground, and rushing at Draco, who had a grin on his face, the Snitch held tightly in his hand. He glanced up at the stands. McGonagall was visibly disappointed, but his father had a smirk on his face. Everyone their arms around Draco, congratulating him on a spectacular catch. The Gryffindor team was landing, too, but Harry wasn't paying attention. He was thrilled that they had won, and while the outcome of the match didn't hinge on him anymore, he found that he actually enjoyed playing Chaser a lot. It was exciting and kept the adrenaline pumping.
That was when he heard Ron's angry voice cutting through their excitement, and they all turned to see Ron standing there, face as red as his hair. "What, did your daddy slip you a potion?" Ron said, giving a sneer that would rival any of Draco's. Harry was too taken aback to say anything, and Ron went on. "That's what it is, right? Anything to win, huh, Slytherin ?"
Harry narrowed his eyes, glaring furiously at Ron. The redhead took a couple steps forward towards him until both twins came up on either side of him, holding him back. "Ron, what is wrong with you?" Fred asked.
"Yeah," Ginny said, stepping in front of him. "It happens."
"There's no need to take it out on Jacob," agreed George. "Malfoy's the one who caught the snitch, anyway."
"They were just better today, that's all," Ginny said, putting a hand on his chest as Fred and George held him back. Ron didn't seem to be listening, though, and his eyes were fixed straight at Harry. He understood. Ron was blaming him for the loss because he had switched teams, and Gryffindor had never lost to Slytherin while he'd been on the team.
"There's no reasoning with him," Draco said, stepping forward, a familiar sneer in place. "He's just jealous that the Gryffindor team can't win without your precious Potter. Your brothers are right, though. It's not Jacob's fault." The blond held up the Snitch, still held firmly in his hands. " I beat Weaslette to the Snitch. I won the game for Slytherin. Jacob and the other Chasers just helped it along."
Ron turned his gaze towards Malfoy now, as Madam Hooch showed up. "Stop this, stop right now," she said, stepping in between them. "What is going on here?"
"Ron picked a fight with Jacob," Draco said, speaking up. "Accused him of cheating, which is absolute rubbish."
For once , Harry thought to himself, Slytherin won fair and square. " Fred, George, and Ginny were simply trying to hold him back," Harry said in agreement. This had shown how far apart he and Ron were now. They had been so close, but Ron had chosen his side. If he couldn't be mature about losing a simple Quidditch match, then there was nothing more to say.
"Ron Weasley, go to Professor McGonagall's office. Now," Madam Hooch said. Fred and George let go of Ron's arms, and Ginny stepped aside to let her older brother stalk back towards the castle. Madam Hooch looked at everyone else in turn. "As for the rest of you, the show is over. Head back to your locker rooms, get changed, and back into the castle with you. Go on!"
The entire team was complaining about Ron as they went back into the locker room and then laughing about what trouble he was going to be in. Harry, meanwhile, was preoccupied with thoughts of Draco. Even though they hadn't spoken in two weeks, aside from before the game, the blonde had still defended him when Ron had attacked him. "Thanks," he said to Draco as they were leaving, "for defending me, I mean."
"Don't mention it," Draco said simply. He didn't look at him, though, and left with Crabbe and Goyle. Harry groaned. Maybe we can't be friends, he thought to himself as he left. Maybe we weren't meant to be.
Harry met up with Hermione to study. "It'll be over school by dinner time, knowing Hogwarts," Hermione said, sitting across from him. Seeing the confused look on Harry's face, she continued. "Ron. McGonagall was just going to give him a month's detention, but Umbridge showed up with another Educational Decree, number twenty-five, I think. It gave her power over disciplining students." She paused for a moment before leaning forward over the table. "She banned him for life."
"What?" Harry asked, a note of incredulity in his voice. "That seems rather steep for just picking a fight."
Hermione shrugged. "I agree, but this is Umbridge we're talking about," she told him. "Angelina is both devastated and furious. She says Ron was actually quite good when he wasn't letting the nerves get to him. Now, she has to find another Keeper, but it'll have to wait until after the Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw match in two weeks. At least that's what I overheard. I mean, Ron and I may not be speaking, but I still care what happens to him, and you should have seen his face when he came back in the Common Room."
Harry honestly felt bad for him. It was way too steep a price to pay for losing his temper, but he had gotten himself into his own mess. He had let his jealousy and anger get the better of him. Things could have been a lot different if he had been mature about the whole situation. Hermione was right about one thing, though - news of Ron's banishment from Quidditch was all over Hogwarts by dinnertime. As usual, anything that was supposed to be a secret never stayed one for long. The rest of the Slytherin Quidditch team thought it was hilarious, while Ron was nowhere to be found.
That night, they had a party in the Common Room to celebrate their win. As before, the younger years were playing Truth or Dare, while the older years sat in a circle, playing Never Have I Ever. Harry was going to walk right past them until he saw that he was being waved over by Salenia and Daphne. There was a spot reserved right next to Draco. Considering how tense things had been between them, he was reluctant to sit next to him, but he did so anyway. Pansy, followed by Daphne and Blaise, followed by Salenia and Marcus, sat on the other side of Draco, while Theodore, Crabbe, and Goyle sat on the other side. He had a feeling someone had orchestrated that, but he didn't want to think about it right now.
The game started, and Harry once again felt as if he didn't belong. He hadn't kissed anyone, or given a blowjob or went down on a girl or… he hadn't done anything. So, when his turn came, he dumbly said, "Never have I ever kissed a girl." Groans went around from most of the guys in the group, and only a few - including Draco - didn't take a drink. Draco's turn came, and he said, "Never have I ever snogged someone." There were more groans. Harry continually said dumb things as he became more and more obsessed with what Draco said. He couldn't help it - he was jealous. He would turn and look over at Draco, trying to figure out who he was talking about.
Harry had identified that Draco had been interested in someone else before him, but that he hadn't really dated. He'd never dated, either. Who had he been interested in before him, though? He was desperate to know, but this game was not good for finding out that sort of thing, and it was really none of his business. The game had gone around for several turns when Draco turned to him. "You and I are going to talk. Now." The blond stood up and stalked off towards their dorm. He sat there for a moment, before going up, ignoring the smirks from Daphne, Pansy, and Blaise.
Harry followed Draco up to their dorm, and as soon as they made it inside, Draco spelled the door locked. He rounded on Harry, crossing his arms over his chest. "Can you tell me what the bloody hell is going on because I'm confused," Draco said, his voice seething with anger. "You rejected me twice."
"Oh, you do? The first time, I chalked it up to you being insecure about your sexuality," Draco said. "I understood that. Maybe I pushed you too far too soon, so I backed off. Then the second time happened. You weren't confused then, I could sense it. You just rejected me when you obviously fancy me. You haven't made one move to try to change my mind over the past couple weeks, and then tonight, you act like a jealous boyfriend. So, what is it?" His voice was rising now, and it only made Harry feel worse. "Is it Granger? Can you tell me so that I can move on with my life?"
"This hasn't been easy on me either, but it's complicated," Harry said. It was more complicated than Draco knew, but what else was he supposed to do? There was no way for him to make him see. "And it has nothing to do with Hermione. You know that."
"Complicated?" Draco sounded as if that was the stupidest thing he had heard. " Life is complicated, Snape. This," he said, motioning between them, "wasn't until you made it complicated."
He had no idea, he thought to himself as he put his head in his hands for a moment, before looking up at Draco's angry face. "It's just… You don't understand…" He sat heavily down on the bed.
"Then explain it to me!"
There was only one way to do that. Despite the warnings for Draco's safety and keeping the secret that went off in his head, he waved his wand, putting up a silencing spell, and the words were out of Harry's mouth before he could stop them. "I am Harry Potter."