Masters vs Students Quidditch

by Bernice

Notes: Based on the Monty Python sketch: Staff vs Students Rugby.  This is not quality story telling, it's based on a Monty Python sketch, and it's just as daft and unbelievable as you'd expect something like that to be. Written in one day, 12,000 words (personal speed record!).  Beta reading by Calemiri and Brigantia


Chapter One: Gryffindor Quidditch Team Meeting

At first they'd all hurled abuse at Harry, saying he must have been drunk, or insane, or under Imperius to have agreed to this, but Madam Hooch confirmed that a Masters vs Students Quidditch match had been quite a normal tradition up until a few years ago. Harry suspected that a few years ago, a few students may have died on the Quidditch field. This wasn't what he'd signed up for when he'd taken on the captaincy of the team.

"We're up against the Masters this time around, team. Lots of house points given. Apparently this is meant to be for 'fun'." Harry strode back and forth, fretfully. "I don't know if they'll be very good, after all, they must be very out of practice. Only Madam Hooch flies on a regular basis as far as we know."

"Who's on their team?" Ron asked, frowning in puzzlement. They were all having a little difficulty picturing their teachers on the playing field as anything other than the occasional referee.

"Madam Hooch, we know," Harry nodded to himself, thoughtfully. "She's a powerful flyer, so we can expect her to be quite difficult to beat."

"But the teachers," Ron started, "They're all..."

"Old."

"Batty."

"Dead."

"Fat."

"Old."

"Tiny."

"Peculiar."

"Really old."

"Hates Quidditch."

"Really, really old."

"Then perhaps we should go gently on them," Harry grinned again, and they laughed and snorted and waved their fists. "Oh, and here's the thing, we've been told we can swap players with other houses. We can take our pick of the best players from every house."

"So... you're going to cut some of us?" Abigail Thorndike asked, looking betrayed before anything had even been said.

"No, not necessarily. We can have back up players. In case of injuries."

"Injuries?" Ginny stood up, "It's just a game, no one's supposed to get hurt. Are they going to try and hurt us?"

"Madam Hooch just said that this was something we could do, it's part of the unusual rules of this game. We could call on members of other teams if-"

"I'm not playing with any Slytherins!"

"What about Bertie from Ravenclaw?"

"You're just saying that because you have a crush on him. What about Edgar from Hufflepuff? He's meant to be a brilliant flyer."

"We'll see," Harry held up his hands up for silence, "Since it was I who accepted the challenge, it can be the Gryffindor team that goes against the Masters. But if anyone is afraid to go up against old, peculiar, tiny, or dead teachers, then they can drop out with no penalty since we can call on other teams."

"I want to know who's playing on their team. There's no way I'm going to lob a Bludger at Dumbledore if he's playing. He's like ... centuries old! He'll break! I am not going to be the student that kills Dumbledore!"

They all nodded and murmured in agreement.

"Let's be honest here," Ron said, "If we hurt any of them, they can really hurt us when it comes to marking. This could really bite us in the arse."

"You're welcome to drop out, Ron. I can always get a Keeper from another other team. The Slytherin Keeper this year is pretty strong. Although I'm sure that the teachers wouldn't hold it against us."

"Snape would."

"We don't know if Snape's playing. It's not really his sort of thing, is it?"

"We don't know anything about it, they might be really good. How many points is it for?"

"Madam Hooch didn't say. She said it was Rafferties Rules Quidditch though, which I've never heard of. Ron?"

"Rafferties Rules? That's no rules at all!"

"Not quite," Ginny interrupted Ron's squawking protest, "In Rafferties Rules Quidditch the game doesn't end with the capture of the Snitch. Only fifty points are awarded when the Snitch is captured."

"So when does the game end?" Harry asked. He'd never heard of such an outrageous variation on the rules.

"Either when it gets too dark to play, or..."

"Or?"

"Or one team has had so many injuries or deaths that they can't play any more."

There was silence for a while, then...

"That's it, I'm out."

"Me too. I've got OWLS this year, I can't afford to get killed before I take the exams."

"I'm in. This is brilliant!"

"What? You're a loony!"

"No, think about it! I'd love to have a shot at knocking Snape off his broom. Or knocking some sense into Trelawney! I'm in."

By the end of the team meeting, they only had two dropouts, a list of names of other players they might like to pilfer, and a team that was buzzing with curiosity.


Chapter Two:

"Hey there, Harry," Hagrid beamed down at him, as they bumped into each other outside the staff room. "I hear yeh've taken up a Masters vs Students Quidditch challenge."

Harry followed him into the room when Hagrid gestured him inside, "Yes, I've probably made a huge mistake saying yes to that, haven't I."

"Prob'ley. So who were yeh after?"

"Madam Hooch. I wanted to see if she could tell me who was playing for the Masters. Do you have any idea?"

As an answer, Hagrid stood still, and held his arms from his sides, grinning widely and making himself look even bigger.

"You?"

"Yes. Madam Hooch said I'd make a right good Keeper with a spot o'training. Course, I haven't got a broom as such, there's no broom that'll hold me, but I reckon the other teachers'll find a way round that lil problem."

"I'm sure you'll be wonderful!" Harry smiled with gritted teeth. If they could get Hagrid airborne, he certainly would make a great Keeper. He wouldn't have to even move in order to block every single goal ring. On the other hand, Hagrid wouldn't want to see the students hurt or humiliated in a Quidditch game. Harry hoped.

"Good morning, Harry," Flitwick peeped up over his newspaper. "I'm looking forward to the game!"

"Are you playing, Sir?" Harry asked, thinking a tiny little man like Flitwick would make a great Seeker.

"Oh, I might. I'm back up Seeker if our first gets hurt."

"Who's your first?"

"Professor Snape."

Harry's stomach dropped to his knees, and he just grunted in reply.

"Professor Snape used to be a very good flier in his youth," Flitwick went on.

"O'course, he had a bit of a problem wi' the catchin' part, though," Hagrid added, thoughtfully. "Oh, here he is, I'll show yeh. Heads up, Professor Snape!"

As Professor Snape entered the staff room, Hagrid picked up an apple from the fruit bowl on the table, and hurled it at Snape's head, where it bounced with a loud thunk, and fell to the floor.

"What on earth are you doing, you great lummox?" Snape rubbed his head where the apple had hit.

"Just showin' young Harry here that yeh can't catch anythin'. No handy cordination."

"You are a fool of a man," Snape snapped, glared at Harry, and then folded himself into an armchair, snatching Flitwick's paper from him and hiding behind it.

"I should'na told you that, I think," Hagrid whispered as an aside to Harry. "That's probably givin' yeh an unfair advantage or summat, but yeh have teh watch him as a flyer. Brilliant."

"Who else is playing?" Harry asked. He found the idea of Snape on a broom rather disturbing. Robes had a habit of flying up, and there were things under Snape's robes that he had no business being so keen on seeing.

"Yes, Hagrid," Snape said smoothly, "Do tell the opposition all the names and their weaknesses."

"Oh, no need fer that, I'm sure young Harry can play very well without anymore help from me." Hagrid ushered Harry from the room.

"Madam Hooch is a Beater, I think, and prob'ley Professors Sinistra and Vector will be Beaters an' back up beaters. Professor Gruntlefuttock will be a Chaser, I reckon, along with Professor Lupin. That's not fer certain, though. Might be others later, not sure who the Headmaster's goin' teh con inteh this thing."

"Remus?"

"Yeah, and don't think jus' cause he likes yeh that he'll go easy on yeh. He and yer... he used teh be a very good player as a youngster. 'Course, that were a lot o'years ago. An' Professor Dumbledore'll be referee."

"Thanks, Hagrid. That's all great information." At least Harry could tell his team they didn't have to worry about breaking Dumbledore, although he didn't think that the Headmaster was in any danger of that.

"Along with yeh. I've got teh practice, now." And Hagrid walked off, with his arms out, blocking invisible Quaffles.


Chapter Three:

"Fifty knuts on the students."

Harry walked back from lunch, listening to the gambling going on in the corridors.

"Three sickles on the Masters."

So far, odds seemed to be fairly much equal. No one knew what to expect of the Masters, and their very unknown quality was working in their favour.

"Ten galleons that Snape kills Harry."

Laughter, "No odds on that! Potter's going to be jam!"

Harry wheeled around to see who had said that, but the crowd moved and shifted and the speaker had disappeared.

"I heard Binns was going to be a Chaser. How can he do that? Do they have to kill a broom for him?"

"I bet Snape kills Harry and makes it look like an accident."

"I bet Ron tries to kill Snape and makes it look like an idiot attack."

The last was followed by shrill laughter and Harry walked faster. He was regretting agreeing to this game more and more with every passing day.


Chapter Four:

"Look what Madam Hooch made fer me!" Hagrid grinned broadly and showed off his prize.

"What is it?" Ron asked, poking at the contraption with his wand.

"It's a vak yum cleaner. Some sort o' muggle broom or summat. Madam Hooch said it'd have the power teh keep me up, but it wouldn't steer as well as a real broom. She said she can make anythin' fly given enough motivation. She also said that if we were teh lose teh students, she'd make us all pay with our hides. I don't think she's bein' so sportin' really."

Harry swallowed nervously. "She's really taking this seriously, isn't she? I thought this was meant to be just a bit of fun. A diversion after all we've..."

"Yeh, I reckon that's how it starts out, but yeh know how Madam Hooch is about her flyin'. Still, no matter who wins or loses, long as we get teh go teh the Three Broomsticks after, hey, Harry?"

"Yes... loser buys drinks?"

Hagrid laughed, loud and long, his belly wobbling, "Oh, losers won't be there. Losers'll be in the hospital wing, Harry!"

"Oh, yes... ha ha," Harry grinned, but thought that he probably just looked like he was baring his teeth and stopped.

Hagrid wandered back to whatever he'd been doing, vacuum cleaner in hand, leaving Ron and Harry to wander to his class.

One thing that had proven itself a positive pleasure about the upcoming match were watching the attempts on the parts of the other Masters to teach Professor Snape to catch. Apparently his complete inability to grab anything thrown at him was legendary, and the other teachers were delighting in throwing things at him at all times.

Harry had even started to feel somewhat sorry for the Professor as he nervously edged his way down the corridors, dark eyes alert for flying objects. Of course, Harry had taken to feeling sorry for the Professor a lot in the last couple of years, once he'd learned a little more of the Professor's rather tragically intriguing upbringing. Hermione had rolled her eyes and hit him with a book when he'd confessed his sympathy. She'd said his interest in Snape's past was going to get him into a lot of trouble, and certainly Snape himself had not shown any great interest or sympathy in Harry by return.

Everyone had been a little silly of late, since the fall of He-Who-They-No-Longer-Feared-To-Name, and with school holidays coming up soon. Everyone wanted to have a little fun in what remained of the term, even if it was at Snape's expense. Professor Snape, surprisingly, was taking it all with a modicum of good grace. Well, good grace for Professor Snape, which involved only a small amount of screaming, abuse, point losses, and no bloodshed at all.

Harry guessed that Snape was feeling as cheerful as everyone else lately, although it wasn't really possible to say for sure, as Snape hadn't let up his snarling sarcasm one whit Since He-Who-Was-Rotting-In-A-Paddock-Somewhere was no longer a relevant concern. Still, Harry got the impression Snape was rather enjoying the impromptu games of catch the other staff members would engage him in. Games of catch, or games of 'hit Snape with something hard if he doesn't catch it', depending on the time of day.

Harry noticed that Snape was far worse at catching the things thrown at his head in the mornings, and applied to have the game played bright and early. Dumbledore over ruled it, saying he couldn't referee until he'd had a good lunch.

Harry wondered if the referee was biased.

It wasn't uncommon to find Professor's Vector, or Sinistra, or even more usually, Madam Hooch herself, playing a game of catch with an angry and frustrated Snape between classes. The ball or cup or piece of fruit or whatever it was would be dropped over and over after it bounced off Snape's face, or chest, or the backs of his hands.

Harry had to wonder why on earth they would want him as their Seeker.

"Heads up, Snape!" Thud.

"Catch, Snape!" Crash.

Despite what the other professor's may think, Professor Snape apparantly did not think they were fun at all and each 'game' would be followed by a rousing round of verbal abuse. Harry himself managed to lose quite a few points for lurking inappropriately. Which was odd, Harry thought, as Snape hadn't seemed to mind Harry's inappropriate lurking for at least a year now. In fact, Harry had spent a good deal of time lurking near Snape on and off, and had only ever been sneered at for his efforts.

Harry grinned, as Snape took a slow tragectory orange to the ear, decided he really didn't have anything to fear at all, and took his team out for practice again, concentrating on finding new ways to get a Quaffle through the hoops. They needed plays that would counteract Hagrid's fairly impenetrable blocking.


Chapter Five:

"Professor McGonagall? You're playing?" Harry accosted her on the walk down to the pitch.

"Of course I am, Mr Potter." Professor McGonagall picked at her Quidditch robes. "I used to cut quite the swathe on the field in my youth. I'm sure I'll not bring shame to my team today." She smiled at Harry in a way that reminded Harry uncomfortably of Dumbledore at his most twinklingly deceptive.

Ron hissed in his ears, "If she's playing, I want out!"

"Quiet," Harry hissed back. "Too late now. Anyway, she's got to be, what, seventy? We're faster than any seventy year old."

"Oh yes, because seventy year old Voldemort was no problem at all, was he?"

Harry glared at Ron, "Just don't say that to the rest of the team. It was all I could do to get them here as it is!"

"If I'd known old McGonagall was going to be playing I would have dropped out and let Bletchley's little sister cover for me."

"You'd let a Slytherin, a second year Slytherin girl cover for you rather than face McGonagall?" Harry wasn't above trying to shame Ron into playing.

"Yep."

Harry sighed. "Yeah. Me too. Oh well, too late now."

He looked at the other team and groaned. None of their Quidditch robes were new. None matched. None were from the same decade. Lupin didn't even have any, he'd just tied his normal teaching robes onto his socks.

Hagrid had shed his huge hairy coat, but was otherwise in his normal clothes, his upright electric vacuum cleaner whirring along nicely, even though the cord had been cut off.

Madam Hooch was giving last minute instructions, repairing brooms, instructing her team. Hers was the only uniform that was new and fitted properly. Vector's had been tied in front with string where the buttons no longer met.

"Madam Hooch, a word?" Snape strode onto the grounds. His student Slytherin Quidditch robes still fitted him perfectly, trim and tidy, although they looked as if they'd been neglected considerably over the past few decades. There were definite moth holes along one sleeve. Harry appreciated the places where the fabric had worn smooth.

"What is it, Severus?"

"Do you know any charms to remove wasps from a broom?"

"WASPS!" Hooch screamed, obviously furious. "You said you couldn't practice with us because you were too busy, and I accepted that, but you promised you'd practice flying on your own. You haven't touched your broom at all, have you?"

"I was very busy. Charm?"

"Charm? A charm is not going to make up for you not having been on a broom for twenty years."

"How hard can it be, if you can-"

"Save the insults, Severus. I'm very disappointed in you. Give me your broom."

Harry and the rest of the team exchanged grins.

"This is going to be a cakewalk," Limpet, their Slytherin replacement Beater, smirked.

"I wouldn't underestimate Madam Hooch. And Professor Gruntlefuttock is a bit of an unknown," Harry whispered, "But that's a promising sign."

His team rose gracefully into place.

Hagrid took off, clutching his vacuum cleaner as if his life depended on it, and slowly took his place in front of the hoops.

McGonagall, Hooch, Lupin, Vector, and Gruntlefuttock all rose steadily into position.

Snape mounted his now wasp free broom and shot up into the air. A green and black, greasy streak, he shot up, higher and higher, until he had vanished from view.

Madam Hooch dropped her head into her hands and groaned.

Everyone else stared at the point where he had last been seen, until a black and green spot reappeared, and in a few seconds was streaking past them again, towards the ground. Just before he hit, Snape managed to stop his broom, the handle just inches from the ground, then slowly came free and flipped over until his feet were on the ground again.

Harry was reasonably sure he heard Madam Hooch sob.

Once again Snape mounted his broom, and this time rose to his correct place, clutching the handle desperately, face a little white. He glared across at the student's team as if daring them to say one word, but none of them could stifle their giggles entirely.

In the background, Harry could hear Pi, their new announcer, calling their names and the names of their seconds. Harry had never been in a game where it had been necessary, or even allowed, to have back up players in case of death or injury, but at least he could take comfort that the teachers had also given themselves a few 'spares' as it were. Although Harry had no idea what possible use Professor Binns would be in a Quidditch game.

Professor Dumbledore wandered out onto the pitch below them, waved his wand to make himself a nice, comfy armchair, complete with six pairs of tiny white wings, then floated up to their level.

"Hello everyone! What a bit of fun, hmm? Now, we should have a nice clean game. No overt rule breaking, no deliberate attempts to maul. I've got a galleon on the Masters this time round, and I've bet the Minister a bag of lollies, too!"

"Here!" Ron yelled, "The referee can't bet against us!"

"I can't?" Dumbledore peered over his glasses, looking concerned. "Oh well. Release the Snitch!" He tapped the box with his foot and the game started.


Chapter Six:

Snape took off for what appeared to be practice runs around the pitch. As far as Harry could see, he wasn't making any particular effort to hunt for the Snitch just yet. He was, though, effortlessly sleek, despite twenty years without being on a broom, and it was easier to watch him, Harry found, that keep a watch out for the snitch. Harry tried to keep his eyes off Snape, and look out for anything sparkling in the sun as he watched his team play.

Or, he thought, as he watched his team get creamed.

No one was getting anything past Hagrid, as they'd suspected. Hagrid wasn't really doing anything other than desperately trying to keep his balance on his vacuum cleaner, but any Quaffle that got close simply bounced off him. He was keeping goals with a better record than anyone in Hogwarts' history, just in the first few minutes, but for the most part he didn't seem to even notice most of the Quaffles as they bounced off his shoulders and legs.

A Quaffle went sailing past his ear, and he caught it in one mighty hand, then hurled it back on the pitch. "Here, have we started already then?" he asked, but was ignored as the small group of Chasers was frustrated in another attempt by his merely shifting his thigh very slightly.

Harry started to circle the field, scanning, and barely escaped a Bludger that was aimed at his back. The student Beaters, Crabbe and Limpet, came up behind Madam Hooch and started a tag effort that nearly unseated the Professor and they spiralled down out of Harry's field of vision. It looked as if she was not only using the Bludger, but her bat as well to pound the two student Beaters off their brooms. Harry winced as she managed to crack Crabbe's head with her bat, the thud echoing over the pitch. Crabbe didn't seem to notice.

"Foul!" screamed their announcer, and Dumbledore floated past in his chair to deal with it. Harry didn't see what happened, but Madam Hooch was apparently on the ground for a while. Sinistra took off from the sidelines to replace her.

Spotting something glinting in the sun, Harry shot towards it, then was suddenly aware that Snape was trailing him closely. He peered over his shoulder, and Snape gave him a nod and a grim smirk before drawing closer. Harry put on speed, and Snape matched him effortlessly. Harry realised that Snape was no longer desperately clutching his broom handle, now he was utterly relaxed, and flowed into its lines smoothly. Instead of looking like someone riding a broom, he gave the impression of a long strip of fabric that had been tied to the handle, as his robes fluttered behind him.

Snape drew alongside him, not, from what Harry could tell, looking for the Snitch, but simply watching Harry's face. Very casually, Snape reached out and grasped the handle of Harry's broom, then brought his own broom to an instant stop.

Surprised, Harry shot forward off the front of his broom and hurtled towards the pitch. He could hear the crowd gasping, the announcer screaming foul again, and barely managed to shout Wingardium Leviosa on himself before he hit the ground. He summoned his broom and mounted it again.

Dumbledore floated past, ankles crossed on a winged footstool he'd created to match his chair, munching on something he had in a crinkly brown paper bag, "Sorry, Harry", he called. "Nothing in the rules against that, I'm afraid."

Harry growled under his breath at Snape, who merely smirked at him again, before streaking off towards the other end of the pitch. Harry spared one glimpse for his Chasers, who were having some sort of fight between themselves as they discussed strategies for getting past Hagrid, before he took off after Snape again.

He could see that Snape had spotted the Snitch, and tried to cut him off. Snape was flying an old Dust Master, or Cloud Buster, Harry wasn't sure as any identifying marks on that broom had long since been worn away, but he was positive that he could out run a broom that looked to be older than Snape himself. And yet, low over his broom, it seemed that Snape was going even faster. Harry bent his head to the wind and forced his broom on to greater speeds.

He watched as Snape reached out towards the Snitch, the gold wings almost to his fingers as they drew level, Snape stretched to grab it, fumbled, knocked it slightly, and then cursed as it changed direction and they both ended up over shooting.

Harry laughed at him, spinning to chase it again. "Why don't you get glasses, Sir?" he called over his shoulder, then realised that Snape was not behind him, but had already over taken him and was closing again. He shot forward, cursing himself this time, and reached again for the Snitch. Snape was frowning deeply, not paying any attention to Harry, and he was level with the Snitch, but apparantly not making any effort to reach for it again. Instead, he was fiddling with his robes, and Harry wondered if he had decided to shed some layers to make up speed.

Harry reached out, the Snitch only an inch away from his fingers, when a flash of green fabric snatched it away.

He pulled up, watching in horror as Snape clutched the Snitch against his stomach, inside his robes, fidgeting with his clothing as he tried to pin it down.

"He can't do that!" Harry shouted at Dumbledore. "He's suppose to use his hands, not a net!"

Snape had finally managed to get a grip on the Snitch and held it up high. Some of the school cheered, the Masters team hooted in celebration, but mostly people seemed a bit confused.

"There's nothing in the rules against using your robes to scoop up a Snitch, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Fifty points to the Masters!"

Snape came level with them both again, handed the Snitch to Dumbledore for re-release. "Maybe I cannot catch very well, Potter," he said, leaning in close enough that a little spittle flecked Harry's cheek, "But I can think. Perhaps you should try it sometime." Then he flashed away again to the centre of the field.

Chapter Seven:

"What happened to you?" he asked Ron, who was dazed and bleeding.

"McGonagall knocked out one ov me teef!" Ron protested. He stood still as Pomfrey fussed over him. She'd brought a full medical kit with her, and two young mediwizard apprentices.

"This always happens," she said brusquely. "Someone always gets carried away, things go too far and someone loses a head. There you go, that tooth will be as good as new. Just try to avoid getting it knocked out again." She bustled off to deal with Abigail's nosebleed.

"I'm telling you, Harry, McGonagall's out for blood! Between her and Hooch, we're dying up there!"

"What's the score?" Harry asked.

"With Snape catching the Snitch, they're at 130 points."

"And us?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"We can't get past Hagrid! It's pathetic. He's not even really doing anything! That shouldn't be fair, not with him being half giant and everything."

"Well, what are their weak points so far?"

"Gruntlefuttock thinks she's a Beater instead of a Chaser," said Edgar, "and keeps punching the Quaffle in all sorts of directions instead of where it's supposed to be going. She managed to to clock Lupin a good one a minute ago, nearly had him off his broom. Vector doesn't seem to really care about the game, and Lupin isn't actively trying to kill us yet."

"'Not trying to kill us' is the best we have?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Then maybe we should concentrate on stopping them from scoring. Chasers, you cover Ron, try and stop them getting a Quaffle through. You Beaters, you try and take out Snape. I don't care what Dumbledore says, I think he's cheating."

"I think Dumbledore is cheating," Ron mumbled, testing his new tooth with his tongue.

"If we only play defensively, we won't be able to win," pointed out Crabbe, rather obviously.

"If we play defensively, we might be able to survive. But perhaps if we can find some way to shift Hagrid?"

"I know," said Ron, "I'll fly past him and say that I think there's a dragon in the Forbidden Forest or something. I'll say there's something horrible there that's been injured. He'll take off straight away."

Harry wasn't so sure that would work, but said, "Yeah, something like that. We'll work on it." Then the whistle went, and they took to the air once more.


Chapter Eight:

They took their places again. Although the Master's team had started off looking a little ragged, they looked no worse now, and Hooch had rejoined them. The students, on the other hand, were red faced and sweaty, blood splattered, and cross. Abigail seemed to have lost a sleeve from her robes somewhere. Harry wondered if it had been torn off, or if it had been used for a makeshift bandage.

Harry met Snape's glare across the pitch and smirked back at him. Harry produced his best Severus Snape impression, perfected by hundreds of hours of Snape-watching, and watched Snape's smirk change into a frown as he wondered what Harry had up his sleeve.

Harry had nothing. Not a thing, but Snape didn't know that, and perhaps a little psychology would out do the Masters' rather brutal reign of the pitch so far.

The Snitch was released and they took off again, trying to follow Harry's advice. The student Beaters shot after Snape, batting Bludgers back and forth between them, but he outdistanced them with such ease Harry didn't think that Snape even noticed them.

Snape dived down, suddenly, and Harry took off after him, trying to see what Snape saw, they were close, Snape's hand reaching towards something Harry couldn't quite make out, he closed the distance between them until Snape's robes were all but flapping in his face, then Snape eased off and floated upwards serenely before diving again.

Harry knew Snape was feinting now, but he couldn't afford to ignore it. He dived down, following Snape at breakneck speed the length of the pitch, trying to see if Snape was actually chasing something, while also keeping an eye out for the Snitch elsewhere.

Snape switched directions again, down, down towards the grass, and Harry flew after him, glad of his glasses keeping the wind out of his eyes. Snape suddenly stopped, barely an inch from the grass, and reached down, plucking something.

Pi, the announcer was shouting in excitment, "Has he found it? Has Professor Snape found the Snitch again?"

Harry tried to see what Snape was grabbing.

"Has he? No, he hasn't. He's picking mushrooms!"

"Severus," Dumbledore floated past, eating an ice cream, "This is not the time to be collecting potions ingredients."

"Sorry, Headmaster," Snape said coolly. "Perhaps you'll hold these for me?" and he gave Dumbledore the handful of mushrooms he'd picked from the field. "Useful things, that particular species, a great stabiliser. Also rather tasty when sweated in butter."

Harry snorted in annoyance and ducked a Bludger again. He wasn't sure if that had come from the other side or his own, it appeared that the Beaters from both sides were involved in some kind of altercation behind Dumbledore's back.

Professor Lupin went tumbling past, his broom bucking out of control, and Dumbledore floated up to see who had thrown the hex. A few minutes later, Abigail was sent off, to be replaced by Bulkiss, a Hufflepuff Chaser of some skill.

Lupin floated back up, and smiled at Harry. "Bet you never thought you'd see Snape and I playing on the same team, did you?" he said, cheerfully. "I guess I should have warned you about the way he plays. He's got his weaknesses, but he can't be out flown, and he has... ways of winning."

"He's a bastard," said Harry, through gritted teeth.

"Really?" Lupin laughed, "Now only a couple of weeks ago, you were telling everybody that he was secretly wonderful!"

"I did not!" Harry shouted, before catching himself and lowering his voice, "I just said that people had to realise he was a hero in the war as much as I was. And I was just trying to get people to leave me alone. Let him have the bloody fame for a change, see how he likes it."

"He loves it, as you well know. He's a bit of a show off on a broom, too. Watch yourself."

The whistle blew and they floated off again. Almost immediately Harry saw a spark of light and shot off towards the Snitch. Snape was on his tail, he fancied he could feel Snape's hot breath on his neck, and he put on a burst of speed. If he could keep himself between Snape and the Snitch, he would be able to stop Snape from grabbing it. He had to use Snape's inability to catch properly against him, without losing ground to Snape's obvious flying skills. It simply wasn't right that the man hadn't been on a broom in years and was flying as well as Harry, who flew every chance he got.

He reached out, keeping his shoulder against Snape, who was pressed along his side. Snape's hair was whipping around them, getting in Harry's face, their broom handles were nearly touching, Snape's thigh was pressed against his own.

He strained towards the Snitch, and then Snape's hand clamped around his wrist, pulling him back. They struggled for a few moments, Snape grabbing his other hand and holding that, too, and despite the fact they were of even height now, Snape had just enough of an edge over Harry to prevent him getting away until the Snitch had twisted, changed directions and vanished again.

They struggled for a few seconds, Snape holding Harry's hands over their heads, legs and brooms twisted together dangerously, and Harry could feel the heat pouring off Snape's body where their chests were briefly pressed together.

Snape suddenly released him, gave him a small wave, and dropped back, zooming off on what Harry quickly realised was another feint.

He turned when he heard the crowd below cheer, and realised that his side had finally scored some points. It looked like they'd managed to get Hagrid to move by having Abigail pretend some horrid injury - although it may not have been pretend - then the other two had frantically tried to get as many Quaffles through the hoops before the Masters caught on and pounded them off their brooms.

McGonagall, tartan robes flapping, was simply chasing Ginny across the pitch, looking homicidal, as Ginny screamed in terror. At least Ginny seemed to be out running her.

Limpet was lobbing a Bludger at Snape over the other side, but Snape merely twisted gracefully out of its path, not even turning to look. Harry wondered how he could avoid things coming at him so easily, and yet not be able to catch something he was meant to. Perhaps it was simply a mental block on Snape's part, and Harry wondered if he could be coached through it. He had to admit, if he could get Snape onto a professional team, with flight skills like that, he'd do the team proud.

He shook the thought off and dove again, chasing the elusive sparkle of gold wings he'd spotted near the Masters' goals.

Again Snape was instantly flanking him, and Harry kept his hands on his broom, again trying to body block Snape from reaching towards the Snitch. He could hear screaming behind him and ignored it, sure that whatever it was, Pomfrey could probably fix it.

He tried to ignore Snape leaning against him, and gritted his teeth as Snape put an arm around his shoulders. He was not going to let Snape pull him off course again and pushed back, trying to see if he could get Snape off his broom, all the while never taking his eyes from the Snitch.

He felt Snape's breath, warm, despite the wind that was blowing past their faces, and then a moist pressure he realised was Snape's tongue, gently circling his ear. He shouted, "Hey! Stop that!" as Snape nibbled his ear lobe with his crooked teeth, sucking on it very slightly.

Taking his eyes from the Snitch, he turned to yell at Snape to leave off, but Snape's hand went from his shoulders, to the back of his head and pulled him closer, meshing their mouths together. Snape's mouth was soft, dry, his lips worked at Harry's with almost no force, a butterfly kiss, and again, licking at Harry's lips with pointed tongue tip. Harry gasped and Snape's tongue slipped past his lips, sliding over his teeth, and Harry felt like his breath was being sucked from his body. He closed his eyes and leaned into this, the second kiss of his lifetime, as Snape worked his mouth with sweet expertise.

The crowd roared again, screaming and calling and Harry jerked back from Snape's embrace. He looked at the black eyes that held his gaze, looking for any clue to Snape's behaviour. There was no softening of Snape's expression, though. He realised that the hand that had not been holding his head was holding the Snitch.

"You bastard," he hissed.

"Oh, come now, Potter, it's not like you haven't made your interest obvious. Even Lupin's commented on your little school boy crush," Snape sneered. "And this is Masters vs Students. You don't think the teachers of this school would let themselves be beaten by a bunch of children? I'll use whatever weapon I have at my disposal."

He wheeled away to take the Snitch back to Dumbledore, and Harry wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and cursed Snape to hell.


Chapter Nine:

Harry hit the ground hard, and stumbled, listening to the thuds of students landing behind him. He was furious, anger clouded his vision and made his head throb.

He turned around to face the rest of his team, waiting for them to mock him, to make fun of him, but they were all quiet; exhausted and dazed.

"Ron," Harry asked, "Why are you wearing that frock?"

"Apparantly, according to Dumbledore, it's not against the rules to turn your opponent's Quidditch robes into a pretty pink polka dot dress," said Ron, undoing the pigtails from his hair.

"Oh. Right," said Harry, but none of them bothered to laugh at Ron. That would have taken effort.

Everyone just seemed exhausted.

"How long until it gets dark?" asked Abigail.

"A couple of hours," Limpet groaned.

"We're not going to make it," said Edgar. "They're going to kill us."

"Where's Crabbe?" Harry asked, not seeing the enormous Slytherin anywhere.

"Slovakia," said Abigail.

"Oh dear."

"So how was Snape's kiss?"

Harry turned on Ron, feeling betrayed. "Dry," he hissed.

"Thought you'd like that," said Ron, dropping his hair ribbons on the ground.

"Shut. Up."

"You're the one who's been telling everyone that he's a hero and that we should all be nicer to him. Now he's the one being 'nice' to you!"

"Shut up, Ron!" Harry yelled.

"I'm not the one who got us into this!"

They all stood quietly for a while, or in some cases, gently swayed, dizzy, only one strong gust of wind away from falling over, waiting for Harry to pull something out of his hat.

"No quarter," Harry murmured.

"What was that?" asked Edgar.

"No quarter", Harry did his best to strike a heroic pose. Anything to get his troups motivated again. "We shall show them no mercy, as they have shown us. We have no chance of winning, but let's make sure they never want another Masters vs Students match."

"At least not while we're here," agreed Ron.

"Do we have a replacement for Crabbe?"

"We did, but he pissed off five minutes in. He said he wasn't stupid, wasn't invulnerable, and he wasn't playing."

"One good thing, though," said Limpet, "Gruntlefuttock knocked herself out. Punched herself in the head, so she's out of the game."

"Excellent. Ron, hex Hagrid's vacuum cleaner. It's got to be pretty delicate, see if you can get it to crash."

"I don't want to hurt Hagrid!"

"If Hagrid falls, it'll be the ground that's hurt, not Hagrid."

"Oh right. Yeah."

"Ginny, see if you can make the Quaffle look like a full moon. That'll put Lupin off. Make some werewolf jokes as you go past. Howl."

"Right," she nodded, offering no protest to the dirty tactics.

"What about Hooch and McGonagall?" Edgar asked.

"Avoid them, they're mad. If you can't avoid them, knock them off their brooms. Make it look like an accident if you can."

"Okay. Can do."

Any thoughts any of them had about going easy on the Masters in order to avoid punitive measures later were long gone.

Again they rose to their places, and Dumbledore released the Snitch.

Snape shot off after the flash of gold, and Harry matched him, pacing him again. "Nice tactics, you prick," he hissed.

"That's Professor Prick, to you, Potter," Snape said, smirking.

"You think you can embarrass me like that and get away with it?"

"Oh, you loved it, Potter, don't pretend otherwise," Snape's words were low, but travelled well despite the wind, and Harry felt himself blush.

He could see the Snitch near the end of their brooms, only a short distance away. "Yeah, like you loved my father, Snape."

Snape turned to look at him, a moment's loss of focus, and Harry pressed on. "Don't pretend otherwise, you were obsessed with him. Like you're obsessed with me. Can't leave me alone, can you, Snape. All the detentions, hovering over me, watching everything I did. You loved my dad, and you love me, too. I bet you even liked it when he turned you upside down and took your knickers off in front of the whole school."

Snape's broom wobbled a little, and he could hear the snarl, but Snape was not losing ground.

"I bet you got a hard on. Did you, Snape? Did you get a nice little hard on in front of the whole school just because my dad was looking at your dick?"

Harry felt the fluster of movement beside him and knew Snape was going for his wand, put on one desperate surge, and grabbed the Snitch from mid air. He held it up, triumphant, and turned to meet Snape's furious glare.

Snape's wand was half way out of his robes, his face was flushed, brick red with fury, his nostrils flared unattractively, and his mouth moved with impotent fury.

Harry leaned forward, "We can all play dirty, Professor," he said, waving the Snitch under Snape's nose. "You forget, you may know my nasty little secrets, but I know yours, too. At least I kept that between us, I didn't display it to the whole school."

Snape's mouth twisted into a false smile, no humour in his eyes, "You should have been Slytherin, Potter."

"Yes, I would have been great, I know." He grinned flippantly, and fluttered his eyelashes at Snape over his shoulder as he returned the Snitch to the middle ground. "And after that kiss? Tell me I'm wrong, that wasn't just for Quidditch points!"

He panted, trying to catch his breath. And wondered if, later, after the game, Snape would find a way to kill him for what he'd said.

Hagrid was sadly walking off the pitch. He waved good bye to both teams, "Sorry, me thingy's broke!" he bellowed, hauling his vacuum off the pitch. "Enjoy the rest o' the game!"

"Well?" Harry asked the others.

"Vector's out. Bludger to the head."

"Good work."

"I've been making fun of McGonagall's accent, it's made her mad, but she was already mad, so I don't know if that's helped," said Abigail, looking terrified.

"Hooch is nearly naked," offered Limpet. "She tore off her robes. I think she's going into some kind of berserker rage!"

"Oh great, that's all we need," grunted Ron, who seemed to have sprouted antennae and a pig's snout.

"Snape's still the biggest threat," said Ginny. "With Hagrid gone, we've evened things up a bit, but he's going to kill Harry if that's what it takes to win."

Harry realised that they had accepted the kiss as just a tactic on Snape's part, nothing more, and he wondered why he had thought they'd think any differently. Probably because it had worked so well.

"Leave him to me. You try and score, but more importantly, just try to stay alive and unhurt. It's just a game," Harry said.

"Bollocks," snorted Ron.

They went up yet again.

Chapter Ten:

Snape was no longer casually draped on his broom. He clutched the handle grimly, eyes fixed on Harry's. Harry returned the glare unflinchingly. Snape's weakness was his temper, and Harry was going to exploit that to the fullest.

McGonagall was glaring at them with the same intensity of Snape, but with one eye twitching just slightly.

Madam Hooch looked beatific, wearing her skirt, boots, and bra, and the tattered remains of her robes, just a few threads. She looked as if she was in heaven.

"We have a bit of a problem here, we can't go on with so few Masters. Looks like we've had a few accidents, today," Dumbledore said, pouring himself a cup of tea from the teapot that floated by on an occasional table. "And it appears Professor Sinistra has just remembered a very important engagement she had with her sister, or the hairdresser, or her parole officer. Or all of the above."

"Binns!" screeched Madam Hooch, "Get out here!"

Professor Binns floated out, looking a little confused. "I'm not very sure of the rules, Madam Horner," he said. Peering out vaguely. "Is that young Master Philbin?" he said, looking surprised to see students on the pitch.

"Just fly through the students, Binns," Madam Hooch directed. "Confuse them! You're good at that! I know, just lecture them the History of Magic, bore the buggers to sleep!"

"Oh, I say, that's uncalled for..." said Binns, but the whistle had already blown and several people had already flown through him, so he pottered off about the field, trying to make himself useful.

Harry had to admit, he was somewhateffective. It wasn't pleasant to be sailing around the field, glaring at Snape, and suddenly have Professor Binns floating through him, cold and clammy and apologetic. On the other hand, he was also easy to tune out, and quite as inclined to float through the Masters, as well.

He heard cheers, his side had scored. He heard a scream... McGonagall had taken her revenge and now Abigail was out of the game. And apparently out of her skin. "Errrrg," thought Harry, vaguely disgusted. That was going to be a challenge for Pomfrey.

He circled slowly, aware that Snape was following some distance behind. Snape's cocky attitude had gone, and now Harry was aware that he was the centre of Snape's focus. He turned and met Snape's eyes again, smiling a little. Snape smirked, and blew him a kiss.

"If you're not hunting for the Snitch, then you're leaving it wide open for me, aren't you, Severus," he hissed Snape's first name, a sure fire way to irritate the Professor. "You can't take your eyes off me, can you?"

Snape didn't reply, his eyes narrowed and his lips thinned, but he didn't get off Harry's tail.

"You never could, of course," Harry continued. "Did you tell the other teachers it was because you were protecting me? You kept saving my life, we all know that, but I wonder if that was simply incidental to the fact you couldn't stop staring at me? Always there, always following me around, just like you did my dad and Sirius Black. Panting after them like a sad little dog."

Snape sneered at him, closing the distance between them.

"Or is it just that you have a thing for Gryffindors, Snape? I bet you secretly want to be one, is that it? You want to give up being a cold, slimy, horrible snake and join with the lions? I'm sure all you have to do is ask, I'm sure Dumbledore would let you change over if you asked him sweetly enough... I'm sure you're used to begging Dumbledore for things. Down on your knees..." Harry was horrified to realise that the image of Snape on his knees was far more interesting right now than winning this stupid game.

Snape was so close now, their faces almost touching, and Harry could feel the heat radiating off his skin. Snape's hand came up slowly, and Harry wondered whether Snape was going to strike him, or grab his head for another kiss. He realised with horror that he was not afraid of either.

Snape's hand was drawing back again, though, and Harry realised in horror that Snape had simply plucked the Snitch from behind his head.

"Foolish boy. I've been playing games like this since I was far younger than you," Snape whispered, "Do you really think your sad attempts at unnerving me are going to have any effect? Lions? More like pussycats!" He flew away again, triumphant, and Harry roared his frustration at the sky.


Chapter Eleven:

They were all tired. Everyone was panting, bleeding, groaning.

"Where's Bulkiss?" Harry asked.

"St Mungos. Don't ask. It wasn't pretty," groaned Edgar.

"Where's Binns?"

"Exorcised," croaked something spikey that may or may not have been Limpet.

"Good work. Lupin?"

"Left. Crying. Not sure why. Ask Ginny. I think she's going into a berserker rage as well," said Ron.

"Good. If anyone asks, blame McGonagall."

"Got it. How are you going with Snape, Harry?" Ron asked, his voice flat with exhaustion.

"He's a prick."

"Yep."

"Why does Hooch have bite marks on her face?"

"Ginny," said Abigail.

"Remind me to give her a bag of chocolate frogs. McGonagall's hair?"

"Ginny," Abigail said again.

"She's my hero."

"Yes. Kill Snape."

"I'll do my best."

"If you can't, just point Ginny at him."

"Will do."

But as they flew up again, Harry knew that he wasn't going to do that. All's fair in love and Quidditch, and now he had every reason in the world, and every excuse to make Snape pay for years of cruelty, taunts, and sarcasm. And kisses.

"The teams are uneven again," said Dumbledore, refilling his teapot from the little kettle he had boiling over a tiny little hearth that was floating near his chair.

"I'm off, then," said Limpet, sounding dully relieved.

"What? You can't quit," begged Ron.

"Look, I started this game as a boy. I'm not sure at what point that changed, but I'd really like to get started on finding out how to change back into a boy as soon as possible. Or later this week, anyway. I think I was human too, at some point," his quills all stood on end as he waved some appendage, possibly a finger, possibly a tentacle, to illustrate his point.

"Okay, fair enough."

"Excellent, shall we be off again?" Dumbledore grinned happily, and blew his little whistle.

As they took off to play another round, Harry made a mental note to jam that whistle up Dumbledore's... down his throat at some point.

Snape was away, soaring over the pitch, and Harry took off after him, determined not to let him get any advantage.

Side by side, he spotted the Snitch a few feet in front of Snape and grabbed Snape's broom, just as Draco had once done to him. Snape sneered at him over his shoulder, reached back, and tried to yank Harry's broom out from under him. Only Harry's grip on Snape's broom kept him stable, and he threw one leg over it, so that both of their brooms were locked between his thighs. He twisted, trying to unseat Snape, who was forced to grab a handful of Harry's robes to keep his balance.

"Nice move, Potter," he hissed, then stopped and started again abruptly, nearly sending Harry backwards off the end of their brooms, but Harry had been expecting the move and allowed himself to roll with it, leaning back, wrapping his arm around Snape's waist so he could control any sudden stops. He leaned close, pressing himself against Snape's back, "Do you like having me this close, Professor? Do you like having the young boys riding your back?"

Snape inhaled sharply, and missed a beat in his reply. "Yes, I do," he answered, and the hand that wasn't holding Harry's broom settled on Harry's thigh. But the second it took for Snape to reply let Harry know he'd discombobulated the Professor. He used Snape's ill thought out move to his best advantage, reached around Snape's waist, grabbed both brooms, and sent them both hurtling into the sky.

The sleek power of Snape's broom was incredible. Harry let it lead, just pulling his own broom along behind them. He'd have to find out, if he survived, just how this old broom of Snape's had been modified. What a crime to let it be infested with wasps and simply left to rot.

They twisted, Snape trying to dislodge him, trying to push him off the brooms again, and Harry hung on for grim life. Snape's body was hard, underfed, lean, and even through many layers of cloth Harry could feel bones moving, and sinews straining as Snape bucked to get rid of him.

Snape stopped struggling, and glared at him over his shoulder, "Just what are you trying to achieve, Potter? Neither of us can score from up here!"

"Oh, but Professor, you keep wiggling like that, and I'll have scored all right."

Snape rolled his eyes, "Pathetic, Potter. Utterly pathetic."

"Hmmm... not from where I'm sitting," Harry sighed against Snape's neck, and licked his ear.

"You won't throw me with that, Potter. I've used these tricks a thousand times."

"But have they been used against you by someone like me?"

"An adlepated dunderhead with an inflated sense of his own self importance?"

"No, someone you want to fuck," Harry slipped a hand around, aiming for Snape's crotch, but the Professor was fighting him again, and Harry merely got to grope his thigh. It was, he decided, a rather nice thigh; taut, hard muscled, slender, and currently very hot due to their exertions.

"I have no pretensions on your body, Mr Potter, so you can just-"

"Is that why you've blushed bright red, Mr Snape? Admit it, go on. I bet I'm the first player you've ever kissed to put them off their game, aren't I? I bet for all your Slytherin tricks, you've never dared use that one on anyone other than myself."

"I use whatever tools are at my disposal," Snape snarled.

"So I'm right." Harry rested his head on Snape's shoulder, narrowly avoiding Snape's attempt to slam their skulls together.

"Let me go, Potter. While you're keeping us both out of the game, neither of us can win."

"If I can keep you out of the game, and let the others take out Hooch and McGonagall, the students have won."

"With a 300 point lead? I don't think so."

"Stranger things have happened."

"Let me go. From up here, no one will see if I hex you," Snape made to go for his wand.

"Would you like to be my first?" Harry asked, as Snape finally managed to untangle their legs, and brooms, and get free.

"Your first what?" Snape made to dive.

"My first. If you let the students win, you can be my first." The wind was nearly whipping away his words. "It'll be dark in a few minutes. All you have to do is stay up here. Wouldn't you like that? Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to say 'fuck you' to my father? I'm prepared to sacrifice myself in order to save the rest of the team."

Snape looked at him, mouth agape, utterly speechless.

Harry smiled in what he hoped seemed an open and friendly way.

Snape growled a little, then turning his broom, zoomed back down towards the pitch.

"Bugger," thought Harry, and poured on the speed after him.

As they roared toward the pitch, Harry hard on Snape's tail, they soared over Ron, who was now a centaur, a howling Madam Hooch who was still on her broom, but had a bludger bat in each hand and a murderous look in her eye, an unconscious McGonagall, and a primly calm Ginny, who was facing down Madam Hooch with a determined look, and what appeared to be a number of extra Quaffles. From what Harry could see as they zoomed past, Ginny and Ron had some kind of bluff going, where they were hurling everything at Madam Hooch that was vaguely Quaffle shaped. He wondered if they had obtained their projectiles from the audience.

Ron managed to score with a cantelope, although Ginny's next shot - with what Harry hoped very much was not Edgar's severed head - was knocked away by Madam Hooch's bats.

Snape had spotted the Snitch again, and they both dived, so close Harry could hear his laboured breathing. They were both reaching, although Harry noticed Snape was doing no better at getting his fingers around the fluttering Snitch than he'd been before. The ground was coming up fast, only a matter of seconds, and neither was giving ground. Harry reached, he could just feel the fluttering wings against his fingers, Snape's fingers tangled with his, trying to push him away. Their leg's were getting tangled again, brooms touching, and Harry tried to shoulder Snape away from the Snitch. They both had their fingers on it, holding a wing each, trying to get a better grip to get it away from their opponent. Neither of them would give, neither would pull out of the dive and admit defeat. Harry glared at Snape, hissed at him in his best Slytherin manner, their hands were closed around each other's, the Snitch was theirs, then... so was the ground.

And the world went black around him.

 

Chapter Twelve - Ending Number One (this ending requested by Ausmac)   I originally had three endings of this story available - in a Choose Your Own Adventure style, but decided to save webspace and cut it down to only one.

"Who won?" Harry asked the fuzzy figure near the end of the bed.

"I did!" declared a white blob he realised was Professor Dumbledore. "But then, I had a bet either way, so I was covered. Lemon sherbet?"

"Er, no thanks." Harry sat up, and was unable to stifle a groan. His body had obviously decided at some point while he was asleep that it was going on strike. "The team?"

"Oh, everyone's here, I just popped in to say hello. Here are your glasses," Harry took his amazingly undamaged glasses and put them on, looking at the rest of the room. Dumbledore wandered off, offering sweets to the walking wounded.

Everyone seemed to be here, more or less alive, more or less back to being human, as appropriate.

"Hello, Harry," Ron said, walking over on two feet. "They couldn't declare a winning team."

"Why not?"

No one was sure who to be more afraid of, Madam Hooch or Ginny. So they've declared it a draw. No one argued, that seems the least bloodthirsty option."

"I suppose that's for the best," Harry tried swinging his legs over the side of the bed. "I think I went a bit nuts."

"I think we all went a bit nuts. Professor McGonagall has been very shame faced, I think she's embarrassed about how carried away she got."

"How's Madam Hooch?"

"She declared it the best game of her life. Wants to make it a regular occurrence."

"She must die. Set Ginny on her."

"Ginny said it was wonderful too."

"When I leave, she's taking over as Captain," Harry said, dully.

"That's in the works."

"Was that Edgar's head you were scoring goals with?" Harry had to ask.

"No... might have been a coconut you saw."

"Oh yes, that would be it. He looks a lot like a coconut now that you mention it."

"Yeah. So, you and Snape. You gonna get married now, or what?"

"Shut up, Ron." He was quiet for a moment, then confessed, "While we were up in the sky where no one could see, I offered myself to him."

"What, head on a platter, you mean?"

"No."

"Then what... oh." Ron's eyes got very big and round. "You really were determined to win."

"Yeah, like I said, I went a bit nuts. Now I have to face him."

"Only for one more term. Maybe you can Obliviate him at some point."

"Where is he, anyway?"

"Water therapy. Abigail and Limpet are both in there, now. You might want to go, it's great for aching muscles."

With that, Ron left, clip clopping slightly, and Harry heaved himself out of bed. He peered into a mirror on the wall and was not surprised to see he was sporting an impressive black eye, and some odd grazes, probably caused by his impact with the ground.

"Bloody gravity," he cursed under his breath and staggered into the water therapy room.

Limpet had already left, and Abigail waved to him from the hot bubbling pool as he entered. Snape merely rolled one dark eye in his direction. Harry slid off his pyjamas, until he was just in his underwear and slid into the water with them.

"Your lack of decorum leaves much to be desired," grunted Snape, bubbling slightly as he was slightly below the waterline.

"Shut up," Harry groaned.

"What did you just say?" Snape said, warningly.

"Shut up, Professor."

"That's better," Snape relaxed back into the water.

Harry was pleased to see that Snape looked as battered as he felt himself.

They were all quiet for a little while, until Abigail dragged herself out of the water. "I'm off, Harry, Professor. I need to sleep after that game. And maybe seek therapy."

"Good idea," Snape said, and made as if to follow her.

"Professor?" Harry spoke quickly, "Can I talk to you for a moment?"

"I don't know if you can, but you may," Snape said, and relaxed back into the water.

"There were things... I said, today," Harry started. "While we were on the pitch."

"Many things," Snape agreed, nodding sagely.

"And things we did."

"Some things."

"That perhaps... were..."

"Unwise."

"Yes. I hope you understand, Professor, that-"

"It was just a game."

"And we both got a bit carried away."

"Indeed."

"You fight dirty," Harry finally said, trying to be accusative, but knowing he sounded distinctly whiny.

"There's no point in fighting unless you're prepared to win at any cost."

"I take it you don't believe in strategic defeats?" Harry raised an eyebrow at Snape, knowing that strategic defeats had been one of the ways Snape had helped bring his Dark Lord down from the inside.

"No."

"Nor winning with dignity..."

Snape looked vaguely surprised, "Coming from the one who created a whole new dance craze when he finally killed the Dark Lord, that's a rather rich. Do you believe there is dignity in losing?"

Harry rubbed at a bruise on his bum, "Not often."

"Well, then." Snape sunk a little lower and blew some idle bubbles.

"You guys when through us like Hitler went through Poland," Harry groaned, discovering another bruise when he shifted to the other buttock.

"Yes, and we'll do it again next week!"

"What?" Harry sat up sharply, sloshing water over the sides, "You're kidding! They can't! I don't think they've even been able to locate Crabbe yet!"

"Dumbledore recommended it, Hooch demanded it."

"Dumbledore wants me dead, I'm sure of it," Harry whined.

"Perhaps. He's not the only one."

Harry was quiet for a beat, during which he decided it wasn't too soon to put soe strategies into place. "Oh, sir, you don't want me dead, do you?"  He decided against fluttering his eyelashes - that would probably be going too far. The 'sir' was flattery enough.

"You believe you're so irresistible," Snape said, and suddenly shifted in the water, standing in front of Harry, hands on the pool's rim either side of Harry's head.

Harry grabbed Snape's hips, feeling the protruding bones sharp against the palms of his hands, and rubbed his thumbs against the crease at the top of Snape's skinny thighs. He looked Snape in the nose, "I'm prepared to win."

Snape's smile was broad and twisted, "At any cost?"

Harry dropped his voice to its lowest register, "At any cost."

Snape pressed closer, his body even warmer than the heated water that surrounded them, moisture that had collected on his eyelashes dripped onto Harry's cheek. His lips pressed against Harry's ear, as they'd done on the pitch earlier, all velvet lips and breathy whispers: "We're going to gothrough you like Hitler through Poland."

And Snape climbed over Harry, out of the pool, and slammed the door himself after without looking back.