Quaffles and Broomsticks, Chapter 9
The next day, a lone figure sat high above the quidditch pitch, suspended in mid-air on a broom he hadn't felt between his legs in eight months. Given the events of the previous day—a disaster averted, a trap sprung, the tables turned—Harry Potter should have felt triumphant and relieved. Everyone would soon know that he had been telling the truth.
But he felt neither triumph nor relief. His exultation had ended soon after he stepped into Dumbledore's office late last night.
'Either must die at the hand of the other.' The words of a drunken fraud. But a Dark Lord had taken them seriously and made them real. They were the cause of every misery he had endured in his short life. The loss of his parents. The unwanted fame. The constant deadly threats to him and his friends. Now he knew the reason why, but it offered little consolation.
He understood why Dumbledore had kept the prophecy from him. He would not have wanted the burden as an 11-year-old. Even so, his timing felt cruel. Just as the first glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon, the old man had ruthlessly crushed it with a truth that couldn't be escaped.
He was destined to kill or be killed. To be hounded relentlessly in a war that was only beginning, and whose outcome was uncertain. And the odds were stacked mightily against him.
A Hogwarts student vs. Voldemort. What a joke.
A sense of fatalism had gripped him soon after he left Dumbledore's office. Part of him wanted to rage at life itself. Another part, the deepest part, was resigned, as if he had known the Headmaster's revelation all along. That he would never be allowed to have a normal life. Would never be able to claim the simple joys that other people took for granted.
The brief moments of contentment that he had stolen with Angelina now seemed like evidence of Fate's boundless cruelty. A sick practical joke. He had only just begun entertaining the possibility that their time together wasn't merely an escape from reality—that it might be more real than anything else—when that hope was extinguished.
He knew what he had to do now.
This horrible new knowledge would give him the resolve to say what needed to be said. He couldn't allow her to be pulled further into his orbit. Everyone who called him a friend would soon be courting death. His heart skipped two beats, as if in protest of his dark thoughts, and he ruthlessly pushed aside the grief that threatened to choke him.
He would have to settle for watching her from afar. Watching her chase the kinds of dreams that were now permanently unavailable to him. His destiny would be colder and lonelier, but he wouldn't shirk his duty.
Angelina paced nervously around the Room of Requirement. She had unconsciously conjured the same room they used for their trysts, even if that was the last thing on her mind. Harry was on his way. She had requested this meeting because it was finally time to have the talk.
She had barely seen him the past two days. It was as if he were avoiding her now that they had the freedom to meet. She'd only had short glimpses of him, and what she had seen was alarming. His eyes looked empty. Despondent. She didn't understand, and wasn't certain she had the courage to look into those eyes and speak.
OWLs and NEWTs were finished. There were only two days before she would leave on the Hogwarts Express for the final time. The mood in the castle was a strange combination of shock, fear, and celebration. Celebration that the year had ended and that Umbridge was finally gone. Shock and fear at the headlines that were splayed across The Daily Prophet. Voldemort was indeed back, just as Dumbledore and Harry had claimed all along. The students seemed lost in confusion.
She couldn't care less about any of that. There was only one thing on her mind: what to do about Harry.
They had created something special together. There was no denying it. She never wanted it to end. But how could that magic endure when they could no longer see each other? She would be far away, focused on quidditch, and he would be here, accompanied by his friends and going to classes. Surrounded by other girls. Still besieged by the followers of a Dark Lord.
She imagined what it would be like if they tried to continue. There would be letters. They would be full of longing at first, even though they spoke more fluently with their bodies than with words. She would tell him what happened at practice. He would tell her the latest news from Hogwarts. Both would eventually become distracted by other things. The letters would become merely polite, or worse, full of desperate 'I-Miss-You's' and sappy endearments.
Their time together would slowly become a distant memory.
She wasn't even part of his inner circle. Not when it came to whatever was happening with Voldemort. Her confusion in the Hospital Wing had driven that fact home. And if he wanted her to be, how could she become so if they couldn't even see each other?
The obstacles seemed overwhelming. Maybe a brutal severance would be best. One swift stroke to cut through this painful gordian knot. Maybe he would accept that. Maybe he expected it.
But the thought of doing that made her nauseous. She hadn't forgotten how it felt in the long hours waiting for those cursed hospital doors to open. His well-being had become almost as important to her as her own.
Fucking Merlin, what was she supposed to do? She could only hope he would give her some hint, some opening, that would make everything clear. It felt like she was back in the locker room, preparing to let him down easy after their first time together.
She stopped pacing as the door opened and the subject of her worries stepped inside.
"Hey, Angelina," he said, and she couldn't mistake the misery in his voice.
"Harry," she said, with her best effort at a smile. "Thanks for coming. You've been a stranger the last few days."
"I've been busy with things, I guess."
A long silence followed. It hung in the air oppressively.
"I suppose we need to talk," she said.
He moved to a small table near the bed where they had so often escaped the world. He sank into a chair and closed his eyes. She stood across from him, her stomach churning.
"Thank you," he said, before she could speak. "For everything that happened this year. For everything you did for me. I don't think I would have made it without you."
She swallowed thickly. It seemed he had already decided how this was going to go. "I should be thanking you. I would have gone batshit crazy without you."
He nodded but didn't open his eyes, as if he couldn't stand to look at her. She found it far more painful than she was expecting. When he finally opened them, she was shocked at the look of desolation she found there.
"I wish you weren't leaving," he said weakly.
"Me too. I'll miss this."
The words sounded automatic to her ears, as if they were both reading from a script, but she didn't know what else to say.
"It—it's best if you never tell anyone about this year," he said. "About me. It won't be safe for us to—to even stay in touch. It will just get you killed."
The words felt like a blow. He wanted to sever all ties, just like that? She sat down in the seat across from him, suddenly feeling weak. She had contemplated what it would be like to say such words for the last two days, but to hear them directed at her so bluntly left her reeling.
"I can't really say. There's something I have to do alone."
The certainty of his dismissal made her want to throttle him. How could he—she knew what he was feeling. What gave him the strength to ignore that so completely? Her throat closed and she found it difficult to speak.
"That's all I get then? You won't even tell me why it has to be like this?"
He closed his eyes and spoke, his voice sounding as choked as hers. "You have no idea how much this hurts. I'm sorry."
Rage and pain roiled within her. Fucking sorry?! That's it? Not even a discussion? An argument? An attempt at consolation?
"I deserve to know," she said, trying to control her temper. "I thought—two days ago, you were in the best mood I've ever seen, and now—what changed?"
His eyes remained stubbornly closed. "I found something out. I can't talk about it."
"Fuck you, Harry."
He finally opened them, and she hated how empty they looked.
"It'll come down to me and him in the end," he said softly. "Either I kill him or he kills me. There's a prophecy. You can't tell anyone."
She stared at him in confusion. His meaning slowly dawned on her, and her heart almost stopped beating. "You and Voldemort?"
"You—you can't be serious. It's not your job to kill that monster!"
He smiled sadly. "It is. And in the end, it'll be mine alone. I want you far away from it. I want you to forget about—all this, about me, and move on. Make your dreams come true. I'll be rooting for you, always, even if I'm not there."
All at once her resolve crumbled. She had come here expecting some sort of end to things. She had even expected to be the one forced to do the ending, as if that would make things easier for him. But when he directed the same words at her—it was more than she could bear.
The unfairness of it all broke through her pain and she latched onto the one emotion that felt like an anchor. Anger.
Her eyes filled with unshed tears as she looked at him, and her anger gave her clarity. She didn't want her time with Harry to end. Not like this. And so she wouldn't let it end.
"What bullshit," she said fiercely.
He blinked at her tone.
"You're just going to dismiss me from your life?"
"I don't have a choice."
"Damn right you don't, because you don't get a say in my choices. There are two of us here."
She breathed heavily and glared at him. Her temper threatened to get away from her as a year's worth of humiliations and defeats—of emotions suppressed and ignored—erupted within her. She wasn't particularly good with words. She knew that. But she also knew that the kind of severance they had both been imagining was simply wrong. How was it possible that she had even been considering it before he arrived?
She stood and paced around the room, struggling to gain control of her emotions.
"What do I mean to you?" she said bluntly, the most direct of questions spilling out of her.
His eyes widened. He opened his mouth to answer, then closed it.
"Nothing?" she asked, hoping to provoke his outrage. "Just an easy shag in the showers?"
"No! You mean everything!" he said, and the fire in his eyes relieved her. Not just because of his words, but because she couldn't stand to see the despondent, gloomy version of Harry Potter in front of her.
"Alright, then. Tell me this. If there were no Voldemort and no prophecy—which, by the way, sounds like total fucking bullshit—if none of that existed, would you still want to push me away?"
She realized belatedly that she was addressing the question not just to Harry, but to herself.
"No," he said firmly.
"Neither would I. I—"
"It would still be unfair to you," he said, cutting her off. "You're two years older. You're leaving Hogwarts. You're going to be a pro quidditch player, and you'll meet someone your own age. Or older. I'd still be here, and things would change. You know they would."
She sank into the chair again and closed her eyes, her anger abruptly leaving her.
"I came here to say the same thing, and now I can't. I told myself it would be unfair to you. You should be snogging some girl in a broom closet, not thinking about me and missing out on everything else at Hogwarts."
"I don't want to snog some other girl, but it doesn't matter," he responded morosely. "There's a bloody war, and I'll be right in the middle of it. Till the very end."
She opened her eyes and examined his face, her anger building again at his attitude. "You're expecting to die, aren't you?"
"I'd be stupid to expect anything else."
"You'd be stupid to walk up to Voldemort and challenge him to a duel. Are you planning to do that?"
"But nothing, Harry Potter. I live in this world too. I just now found my place in it. It's fucking mine. You think I'm going to run and hide and hope the good guys win? You think that little of me?"
He stared at her for a long moment, only now realizing she was angrier with him than she was with the situation.
She stood and paced the room again, stopping only to glare at him. "You are infuriating. You know that, right? So fucking noble I want to punch you."
"Hermione says the same thing."
"She's bloody right. Listen to me. You don't get to decide what I do, and I'm not going to let you walk out of here with a death wish. Not when—not when—"
She yanked back hard on the words, lest they escape. She took a deep breath to calm herself. "You're the reason I can cast a patronus, okay?"
"I cast my patronus thinking of you. That's how you make me feel. Are you going to take that away from me? You're not allowed to be a fucking martyr. If you die on me, I will raise you from the dead just to use you as target practice in the hoops!"
He swallowed thickly and looked away, blinking back tears. He found the courage to stand and embrace her. She leaned against his shoulder, not certain what to say after her confession. The silence lingered. He didn't seem to know what to say either. Despite her anger, she couldn't stop herself from sniffling against his robes.
"Dammit, you made me cry. I hate crying girls."
He held her tightly, and she hugged him back hard enough that he could barely breathe.
"I get the message," he said. "I'm not giving up. I always fight. You know I do."
"Then stop pretending you're about to die!" she said hotly, tears welling in her eyes again. She took a moment to compose herself and pulled away.
"This is your Captain speaking, Harry. It takes more than a seeker to win, no matter how special you think you are. So get your head in the fucking game. That's an order. You hear me?"
He couldn't help but smile. "I hear you."
"I don't know what's going to happen. Neither do you. Maybe some miracle will make all of this go away. But whatever happens, you don't get to act like there's a dementor hovering over you, and you don't get to tell me to go hide in a hole and forget about you. Nothing ends today. Nothing. Got it?"
He hesitated for a long moment, words of protest rising and dying in his throat, but finally agreed. "Got it."
She pulled him closer by his robes. He leaned down to kiss her and she returned it aggressively. He tasted like relief and resolution, not sorrow, and something deep in her stomach unclenched.
He broke their kiss and rested his forehead on hers, looking directly into her eyes. "It'll be hard," he whispered.
"So is the floor in the showers. Never stopped us before."
He gave her a real smile for the first time since he had entered the room. "No, it didn't."
The unguarded admiration in his eyes made her heart ache. Fuck prophecies. He was still her seeker, and would remain so until she decided otherwise.
She nodded decisively. "Well, there you go. Let's put that fucker six feet under, and maybe we can be together for real."
His smile grew and he leaned in to nuzzle her neck. "Maybe."
Harry closed his eyes and tried to relax. The hum of the train was comforting, but it couldn't lull him to sleep. Especially when Ron and Hermione were arguing about her cat again. Some things never changed.
His mind replayed the events of the last week. The agony of trying to let go of Angelina. The exhaustion of OWLs. The trap he had nearly fallen into, followed by a stunning victory, followed by an even more stunning revelation. It was a violent concoction, and he needed time to digest it all.
Angelina was right though. He had been sitting on his broom in the freezing cold again, refusing her warming charms. She hadn't let him get away with it this time, no matter his misgivings.
Her attitude gave him the first glimpse of hope since he had heard the prophecy. Maybe the sheer obstinance that had kept him alive so far would be enough. He was still reluctant to tell her everything—to bring her directly into the center of the storm. It would put her in so much danger.
But she didn't have to be at the center of things. That's not what he needed from her. She was something to fight for. Not an abstraction, like duty or honor, but a living, breathing person that had become his in ways that even Ron and Hermione weren't.
His hand unconsciously brushed the breast pocket beneath his robes. There was a picture there. Colin had taken it for them and promised to never tell a soul. They were embracing intimately in it, both smiling—not quite happily, but with determination. He knew he would be looking at it every day this summer.
Maybe they could find a way to make it work. To find brief, stolen moments outside of Hogwarts. It would be difficult, and it would have to remain a secret. He didn't want the Order to know about her. Not so long as Snape was in it. Maybe Sirius could make them another pair of mirrors. Or maybe he could sneak away this summer under Polyjuice. He might even be able to watch her tryouts without putting a target on her back.
He grew angrier as he contemplated the possibilities. At the danger for her. At the need for subterfuge. At himself, for being so willing to give up his own chance at happiness. At Dumbledore. At Voldemort. At the entire magical world, for asking so much and giving so little in return.
The compartment door suddenly slammed open, and he looked up. Malfoy and his goons stood in the doorway and sneered at them.
"How charming. A mudblood, a half-blood, and a blood traitor all in one place. It's like the start of a bad joke."
"Fuck off, Malfoy," Ron said threateningly.
Malfoy ignored him and focused on Harry. "Enjoy this while you can, Potter. When my father is free—"
"What?" he interrupted. "You'll ask him to wipe your sorry ass again?"
Malfoy's hand inched toward his wand. Harry leapt from the seat and drew his in one smooth motion. It was pressed into the blonde boy's throat a moment later. His eyes widened as Harry glared at him.
"You get one warning, little Draco. No more games. You mess with me or my friends, I'll bury you, just like your father's dead comrades. Think hard this summer. If you've got a tattoo on your arm the next time I see you, I'll cut the whole bloody thing off. Get out."
Malfoy cautiously backed out of the compartment, looking between his eyes and the glowing tip of his wand. He slammed the door in the boy's face and returned to his seat. Ron and Hermione looked at him with surprise, shocked at the threat of violence.
He realized he meant the words, and it filled him with resolve. They weren't just taunts, as they would have been in the past. He decided he was done enduring the Malfoys and Umbridges of the world. He was done being tortured for telling the truth.
If Fate wanted to invade his sanctuary, baring its snarling teeth, then he would snarl back. No more waiting on the inevitable disaster at the end of every year. That was Dumbledore's way, not his. He couldn't defeat Voldemort in a fair fight. That meant he needed to fight dirty. Shoulder checks and Wronski feints and beater bats to the face. Scores of dead Death Eaters, if that's what it took. Fuck the rules.
Angelina watched the scenery roll by in silent contemplation. It would be her last time riding this train. Her peers were celebrating in other compartments. She had half-heartedly joined them for a while, smiling and laughing as they relived seven years' worth of memories, both good and bad.
She was going home now, whatever that word meant. Its definition was still evolving, to be decided at some future date. It would involve quidditch somehow. Likely a war. Possibly a green-eyed, black-haired seeker who had somehow worked his way into her life and upended everything.
Whatever happened, she knew she would be staking her claim here, in the magical world. Because this was where she belonged, far more than the men in bone-white masks who sought to annihilate both her and the boy whose scent she could still smell on her robes.
She couldn't be with him at the moment. Not when it would draw so much attention. He was right about that much, even if it didn't make things easier to bear.
After their final talk, they had made love with such tenderness that she almost cried right in the middle of it. Only he could do that to her. No more words had been spoken, just as it had been when they first overwhelmed each other in the quidditch showers. Even that had been intimate, she now realized.
She stared down at her bracelet, tracing her finger along the tiny eagle and stag. The figures almost glowed as the sunlight reflected off them through the window.
They had left things at 'maybe.' That was a word with many potential meanings. It wasn't just a doubtful word. It was also hopeful. And that's how she chose to view it.
Her immediate plans were still in flux. She hadn't yet officially made a team, though she knew in her bones that she would. Maybe then her plans could become more concrete. Maybe she could find a way to meet with Harry this summer. To become more involved in whatever he and his allies were doing.
He had more secrets. Things he didn't want to tell her about because it was dangerous to know. His protectiveness was endearing but maddening. But she could be patient. She was just as stubborn as he was.
Maybe they could meet in the fall too, if—
Hell, who was she kidding? Fuck maybe.
She would be in Hogsmeade on October 5th, November 8th, and December 11th, whether Harry liked it or not. She would be in the quidditch stands on November 2nd. She would sneak into the showers afterwards. She would use her signing bonus to buy an owl. She would wear her DA ring, just in case. And when he called on her, she would be there by his side and ready to fight. For everything.
She knew. And so did he.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it. Like I said at the beginning, this started out as a smutty oneshot about Harry and Angelina hooking up in the locker room. It morphed into a real story, and the characters decided to fall in love without my permission. What are you gonna do? I indulged them.
I don't want to write an epilogue (or the long story that would precede it). This story was about bringing them together, not how Voldemort dies. But I like to think their relationship could make all the difference, and that they could have a happy ending. Thanks for reading.