Snitch Strategies

A Harry Potter Fan Fiction by Aaran St Vines

A/N - - I generally consider switching PoVs in a conversation poor writing, but it is acceptable in romance novels and such. Forgive me, but it is the only way to make this romantic short story work. It works well for Jane Austen, so may I be so bold...? - - A St V

Many thanks to my beta reader, ebdarcy.

Harry saw the Golden Snitch.

Gryffindor was ahead of Ravenclaw by a hundred and ten points. But Ginny Weasley had just taken a Bludger to the head and the other Chasers for Gryffindor were too new to keep scoring. Two minutes before, they had lost one of their two Beaters to a collision with a Ravenclaw Beater. Colin Creevey was the better of Gryffindor's two new Beaters, but he was still unconscious, while Stuart Ackerley, the Ravenclaw Beater, had been unaffected.

Harry missed the Chasers and Beaters from his previous five years on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. But even if the Weasley twins had not escaped Hogwarts in the middle of the past spring term, they would have left school at the end of last year and been off the team this year for sure. Fred and George were gone as were Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinet, and Katie Bell.

It was a rebuilding year for Gryffindor, but that was true for all four school houses. Hufflepuff was hopelessly out of contention for the Quidditch Cup. Cedric Diggory had been their only hope in Quidditch in the past fifteen years, and that team's only victory came when Harry had fallen off his broom under the relentless oppression of the dementors. That was three years ago in Harry's third year.

After Hufflepuff, the other three teams were fairly evenly matched in this rebuilding year. They were also evenly matched in that they were substantially less capable than their teams had been in years before.

It was an odd season for Quidditch this school year in more ways than one. The season had been cancelled because of the war. But now in the spring, there was a lull in the fighting with Voldemort, so the season was reinstated in a quick and haphazard manner. The entire season would be played with a match every week. Practices had been rushed and the games were being played in a very sloppy manner. However, sloppy Quidditch was better than no Quidditch.

As Harry pushed over to intercept the Snitch, he felt himself decelerate instead of accelerate. Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw Seeker, was hanging onto his Firebolt just as Draco Malfoy had done in a match the previous year. She was called for the foul and Gryffindor made the penalty points, but those were the last ten points they made in the game. Harry was pounding on the side of his broom with frustration as he saw their lead evaporate.

If you can't be better than your opposite number, then try to be luckier, or break the rules. Cho's standard method of battling Harry for the Snitch had been to stick to him like glue. It had been ineffective for three years now. So she grabbed his broom to prevent the inevitable victory. It was a logical choice. Better to give Gryffindor ten points now and prevent a definite one hundred and fifty points for them. And just maybe she would be nearer the Snitch the next time it shows itself.

She took an opportunity to run down into the fray and bodily block the remaining Gryffindor Beater from sending the Bludger towards her Chaser. Ravenclaw was now within ten points of Gryffindor. Luckily for her, this blocking move brought her substantially closer to the Snitch than Harry when they both saw it. Cho's Cleansweep Seven was not a match for his Firebolt, but she was significantly closer.

It was going to be a photo finish to see who caught the Snitch, but no photo would be needed, only possession of the Snitch.

At the last second the Snitch swerved slightly, allowing Harry to place his body between Cho and their target. Harry caught the Snitch and plowed into the pitch, doing little harm to himself other than his usual bruises from the game. Cho crashed much harder and because of the legal "bump" he gave her, she cart wheeled across the ground and broke her left arm.

In the midst of the victory, Harry Potter, ever the gentleman, was still concerned that Cho might be hurt badly. Before his teammates could reach him, he was by her side and inquiring about her condition while helping her to her feet. After a second, she saw Madame Hooch there and pushed Harry off fiercely.

She screamed, "Potter, you unmitigated bast-..."

"Chang!" blasted Madame Hooch. "One more inappropriate outburst and I will bar you from your final game."

Cho went from profane to withering in her choice of words. "Potter, you had to make sure that you would catch the Snitch at my expense, didn't you? You couldn't wait to see who grabbed it. No, you had to blast me out of the way and into the ground. You and your famous scar." She was angry, but she was also releasing the tears Harry that found so frustrating in his attempts to date Cho the previous year. But her last words were all Harry needed to forget his concern for her wellbeing. Now he became angry.

Before Harry's temper caused who-knew-what, Ron Weasley, the Gryffindor Keeper, grabbed Harry's arm. Ron delivered his usual comment regarding female outbursts, "She's mental." At that moment, others from Harry's team carried him off to the locker room and the party later at Gryffindor Tower.

Long before the party wound down, Harry begged off to go to bed - he said that he was tired from the game and the extra studying he was doing.

Hermione Granger appeared from her latest snog-fest with Ron, just in time to end the party before Professor McGonagall would arrive to end it. Those who hoped that the Gryffindor prefect would ease up now that she and Ron were a public couple, should have known better. Hermione was busy sending the last revelers off to bed when she thought she saw the portrait hole closing to the hallway outside. But she was tired and her eyes were sore from staring into the sun at the game.

Sunday morning, in the infirmary, Cho had a most surprising visitor. Draco Malfoy had made his way to her bedside without permission, and outside of visiting hours. Fortunately she was awake and he had not caught her completely unaware.

"Nice use of the Malfoy Prevent yesterday, Chang," said Malfoy as he announced his presence, startling her. She went immediately on her guard for some sort of unwelcome advance, but by that time, he was sitting in a chair in a most "un-forward" posture. It was as if he intentionally sat so as not to appear as if he had an agenda for coming by.

Malfoy never did anything like this without an agenda.

Cho believed in the idea that a good offense makes for a good defense. She also knew that if she flattered Draco she would probably get to the bottom of his machinations soonest. "It worked well for you, Draco, although you were no more able to capitalize on the opportunity than I was. But I admired the idea of trading ten points for an opportunity to make a possible one hundred and fifty points in the future, while preventing a near-certain Potter victory." She used the word 'Potter' like a curse word as she had heard Malfoy do quite often.

"Chang,," he said. He bowed as if to ask permission to use her first name. She bowed in agreement. He continued, "I have always believed that most Ravenclaws are intelligent enough to see an opportunity regardless of the source." He took her silence as assent. "We have a common enemy in Potter. Your outburst detailing your indignation at his manipulations, yesterday, matches my own disgust for his swaggering arrogance. His disregard for the rules and for the good manners that those of us of breeding hold important is appalling. He doesn't know his proper place."

Malfoy had decided to approach her from their common pureblood status, a ploy she understood. He also appeared to be using a more sophisticated vocabulary than usual.

She said, "His sort needs a good 'putting-in-their-place' from time to time. I would love to do that to him on a more regular basis, but I get few chances."

"I like the sound of that." Draco's smile was devious in its attempted innocence. She thought he probably imagined her with a whip, applying it to Harry.

He continued, "What would you say to an alliance of mutual interests? I can hand Potter the defeat he so sorely needs, and you can help. Interested?"

She gazed into his eyes as if trying to read his mind. He hoped she couldn't because she would find that he considered her the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He had wondered all the time he was at school if a girl like her, a Ravenclaw and a year ahead of him, would consider going out with him. He had thought about asking her to the Yule Ball during the Tri-wizard's Tournament but before he had decided to act, he had heard that Diggory was escorting her. That Hufflepuff got what he deserved in Malfoy's opinion.

Draco had been delighted by Potter's failure with her the previous year. Any defeat for Potter was worth celebrating, but it also meant Chang was not above dating someone a year behind her or in a different house.

Cho let the devious look she had when she was plotting against Harry appear on her face. "Draco, I have a feeling that you and I will find it quite delightful to plan failure for the Boy-Who-Lived." She spat out the last appellation. She had always hated it. "What do you have going on in your handsome head?"

Draco unsuccessfully tried to keep a smile from his face. She thought he was handsome! "Well, he needs a defeat that you cannot give him now, but I can. I am honest enough to admit that you are a better Seeker, but I believe that I am a better flyer." He did not really believe it. He knew that he was the best Seeker at Hogwarts, and only a series of lucky breaks for Potter had left that "fact" unproven all these years. But why not give this silly girl the impression he thought well of her? He would bend her to his will in every way when his plans were successful.

He outlined a plan of deception for the last Quidditch match of the year. Their teams played each other in that last match the next weekend. Ravenclaw could not possible gain enough points to catch Gryffindor in the standings and place first. It was true that Slytherin had the better offense and defense in regular play with its Beaters, Chasers, and Keeper. If the Snitch came out late enough for Slytherin to tally up enough points, and if he caught the Snitch, Slytherin could pass Gryffindor and win the Cup for the first time since his first year.

She noticed that he did not add one obvious point - that year was the only year that he had attended Hogwarts that he had not been the Slytherin Seeker.

Cho smiled the smile of the enthralled groupie as she heard his plan. She would gladly use him to put Potter in his proper place, now that Gryffindor had defeated Ravenclaw. She would let Malfoy see the fury of a woman scorned.

Draco pointed out that trouble could come to thwart this plan in only one way. If the Snitch was sighted early in the game, even if he caught it then, Slytherin would not have enough points to catch Gryffindor in the standings. If the Snitch showed early, they would have to arrange a way for both of them to see and lose the Snitch.

Draco kept pontificating, "After my team has enough points, when we see the Snitch, it will be a contest between your skill and my speed and flying. If the Snitch is far away then I will win, but if it is close by, or if you see it before I do, then you could catch it, but Gryffindor will still win the Cup. And you don't want that do you?"

Cho gave Draco a smile that only a Slytherin could appreciate.

"Where're you going, Harry?" Ron asked as he noticed his friend skirting the common room and heading for the portal. It was 8:00 and only a half hour to curfew. As prefects, Ron and Hermione would have to dun him if they caught him out after hours.

"Oh, Occlumency lessons with Dumbledore. I'll be sure to get a note from him when I return."

"I thought you were through with lessons. You haven't had a nightmare reoccurrence have you?" Hermione asked, concern in her voice.

"No, no. He likes for me to have a refresher now and then." He slipped out and the two were alone.

For a few minutes the two prefects had the common room to themselves. They made good use of it.

There were places at night at Hogwarts that were not used. Hogwarts was so vast that people just did not go near them. At the beginning of each year Mr. Filch would prowl everywhere trying to find students out of place after hours.

Spring was his busiest time in this pursuit because, as the sap begins to rise in the trees, so it also rises in the students. Locksley wrote, "In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." Well, what a young man fancies also turns her fancy to love, and Filch delighted in catching people doing what they shouldn't, where they shouldn't, when they shouldn't.

But as certain places were never used, he began to search those places less and less. He wanted a target rich environment and the potential of catching students in the Astronomy Tower and other places was too tempting to bother looking where no one ever went.

Well, almost no one.

Having been a prefect for the two previous years, Cho Chang had good reasons to know where she could be for extended periods of time uninterrupted. To meet with Malfoy she chose a place right on the edge of one of the unused corridors. She would not tell Draco about all of her secret places, only the places she wanted to reveal to him.

As Cho prepared to leave, Marietta Edgecombe was in her typical "dissatisfied-with-the-world" mood, and after seven years it was beginning to grate on Cho's nerves. They were friends - she was probably Cho's best friend in Ravenclaw, but Marietta did not like her meeting with Malfoy. Cho was not about to explain to Marietta her plans-within-plans.

"Cho, your talking about Draco Malfoy. His father is a major Death Eater. He is the slimiest git in Slytherin. I would rather you go back to Harry Pott..." She cringed as that slipped out of her mouth. She braced for the tirade.

"Do not ever mention the Boy-Who-Lived to me again unless you have a way to make him miserable!" She paused and let her look convince Marietta that she meant it. Then she eased up and said, "I know Draco is a slimy git, but he is a handsome git, and he serves my purposes. I can handle him." She thought; she hoped; she remembered, and she knew she would.

There was a part of her that wanted to be the friend to Marietta that she had once been. But Marietta's betrayal of the DA last year had proved her unreliable. And Cho was playing in a much more deadly game now than the DA had ever been.

"So Chang, er... Cho. How do you know this area is off Filch's circuit? I know the Squib is powerless but he gives detention to more people than any three professors combined."

"Oh Draco," she gave his name that girlish giggle that told him he was fascinating. "I am in Ravenclaw. When we decided to work together, I knew I would have to find a way for us to 'be together' without anyone knowing. I discovered this 'dead-zone' last year when I was a prefect. Now that I am no longer in that office I can take advantage of that knowledge."

He asked, "Why aren't you prefect this year?"

"I have much more pressing matters, my N.E.W.T.s preparation - and dealing with Harry Potter," she spat.

"Draco, let's not talk about Potter. Dare we talk about 'us?' I have to finish this year without any relationship we develop known to anyone. Next year you can brag about your graduated girl friend if you still like me, but I have to survive this year. Things would have been different if I had been placed in Slytherin, but we cannot have everything we want. The Sorting Hat placed me in Ravenclaw because my family has been in that house for generations. It is one of the few disadvantages of being a pureblood - that and having to put up with the mudbloods and half-bloods."

Draco was surprised to hear this near-confession of her interest in him. But he thought why shouldn't she. Everything she said about him was true. He was destined to be one of the most desirable young leaders of the new order the Dark Lord would bring into being. As a Ravenclaw, she was smart enough to see that, and smart enough to know her school house was not the most advantageous for that new order.

She interrupted his thinking by leaning into him just slightly and saying, "Now how will we make it look like I am battling you for the Snitch and still let you capture it, even if it shows up in a place where I can reach it to first?"

He had all sorts of ideas on that subject and they made their plans for the next twenty minutes.

As they came to an agreement regarding their actions under most situations, Draco decided he would kiss her. He might as well sweep her off her feet now and make her even more pliable to his ideas later. This was just a little too public still for what he really had in mind, but maybe he could get to "second base" as the mudbloods said - whatever a base was. He doubted the expression had anything to do with military installations.

Done well he may be able to get Cho to one of the 'special rooms' near the Slytherin Common Room that they maintained for seducing non-Slytherin girls - not that that was happening much with this war on.

He went for her mouth and kissed half cheek and half hair. He pulled back with a look of anger.

"Draco you are just too powerful to move in on me without warning. I had only hoped...dreamed...but what was that?"

There had been a noise of some sort back towards her Ravenclaw Tower, but it did not sound like footsteps. She pushed him in the opposite direction and told him to leave. "I will distract whoever is there," she said.

She ran towards the sound and he ran away from it. After a few steps there was silence. He thought that she might be sacrificing herself, he turned to come to her rescue if that was so. It did not occur to him that chivalry was a most un-Slytherin trait.

There was a long hall that she could not have possibly covered in the few seconds they had been apart-but she was gone!

"But mother, I am going to win this weekend. That will be two victories and the Cup. I could really use the newer Nimbus 3000 before the game."

Narcissa Malfoy (nee Black) was listening from the Floo fireplace in the entry hall at Malfoy Manor. "I told you that you have to win the Cup BEFORE the new broom is yours. If you had beaten Potter and Gryffindor it would be yours now. I never had trouble with that team when I was Slytherin Seeker."

She was aloof and haughty, even to her own son. Draco's father had insisted on teaching him to fly and teaching him about Quidditch. Lucius had played as back up Beater for the Slytherin team in his last three years at Hogwarts. He had played in each year because one of the first string Beaters each year came down with a mysterious illness that allowed Malfoy senior to play - and lose.

"Your father will never admit it but I think he poisoned the Beaters to get to play. I, on the other hand, was first string Seeker for my last four years and we won the cup the last two years I was there." It was true. She was a noted Seeker from her era. She had certainly done better than Draco or his father.

"Okay mother. It is my last game in my last year, but I will play without the new 3000." He said last year even though it was his sixth year. He planned to join the Death Eaters in the coming summer.

"If you had wanted it for this game you should have planned ahead and defeated Potter in the first game." With that she signed off without a goodbye. With logic like that how could Draco argue?

"Harry, where are you off to at this hour. It is almost curfew." Hermione asked.

", I have detention tonight. Snape again. Caught me running in the halls, er, gave me grief and I talked back. Um...he wants me in his dungeon late tonight cleaning beakers by hand so it'll ruin my sleep."

With that he stole out quickly. Who would want to be late and increase Snape's wrath?

Two nights before the final match, the two conspirators meet again. They had spent a half hour going over the plan. It was simple enough. They would stay fairly close most of the time but would part occasionally. If she saw the Snitch first she would call to him without looking his way and give directions. Then she would "see" it and they would go after it together. Draco's superior speed would give him the advantage. If he saw it first he would call it also so she could put up a valiant effort before he made the catch.

For Slytherin to catch and pass Gryffindor they would need 210 points to add to their yearly total. Ravenclaw would need over 370 points to catch Gryffindor, so the Cup for them was basically out reach. So Draco couldn't catch the Snitch before Slytherin had sixty points or more. If either of them saw the Snitch before that time they would call out and she would grab the tail straws of his broom until a foul was called. The hunt for the Snitch would be stopped.

This was Cho's plan. Draco had developed a complex scenario where he was skillfully and heroically doing things he had never done before to win. Cho flattered him that he was a good enough flyer to accomplish such feats, but that she probably would not be able to follow him.

Draco had been moving closer and closer to her during their chat. He'd moved slowly and this had not drawn her attention to the fact. She was subconsciously moving backwards away from him - right into a corner where she could not get around him easily.

They were at the end of their discussion and Draco thought it was time for them to seal their conspiracy with a kiss - and a frisk if he had his way. And she was in the perfect trap for him to have his way.

He quickly moved his lips into hers. Her eyes went wide and she froze for a moment. He thought he heard a sound behind him that he could not identify. Before he was able to think about disengaging from the kiss to see what was there, Cho came forward forcefully, turned him, and pinned him against the wall as if the kiss was her idea. She moved her hands to his chest, rubbing it, and giggling around the kiss.

"Oh, Draco! You are too much! I have to leave or we will start something we cannot end here. I leave Hogwarts in a few weeks. Please promise me you'll wait for me. Do not let me get this carried away with you again. Do you promise me?"

Draco was in shock. This girl was falling for him. Of course who could blame her.

She said, "I must leave my darling. Just think of how it will be when we can be with each other forever. I will make you so happy. We can have a nice home out in the country away from all of this craziness. You can raise vegetables and I will raise the children. You are a vegetarian aren't you?"

Before he could answer (he was stunned by this) she rushed on. "Or we could join the Death Eaters. You could be the Dark Lord's right hand man after your father dies. I could help with that. Oh, Draco! You could be so powerful! Do you have any idea how sexy power is?"

She rushed in and kissed him again for a second, then bit his lip, and drew blood. She pulled back and pushed him down on a convenient bench. "You stay here my dear. I cannot trust myself with you any longer. Think about it. The country home or leading the Death Eaters. I will be all yours if you still want me after the match...I mean after Hogwarts."

And she rushed away.

He was flabbergasted. She might be crazy. Hot as a firecracker but daft as a Christmas goose! The sound of her footsteps stopped too soon. She could not have run all the way down the long hall. He got up to see if she was reconsidering. A private room near his common room might be available.

But she was gone. He realized he might need a cold shower before bed.

Surely there had to be a middle ground between farmer Draco and trying to take control of the Death Eaters. Salazar she was hot! "How can I buckle her to my will?" he spoke aloud as he sauntered/staggered back to the dungeon.

The day of the Slytherin/Ravenclaw match dawned bright, clear, and windy. But by play time there was only enough breeze to keep everyone attending comfortable - not too hot, not too cool.

Cho was nervous. She had been holding her broom all day. Marietta Edgecombe had never seen her quite like this before a match since her third year. That was when she first played opposite Harry Potter, and Marietta was NOT going to bring that up.

Cho would not put down her broom to eat, but did ask that someone bring her some toast and tea from the Great Hall.

Would Draco believe the way she was acting was the way she felt? How did he feel about her? She had over manipulated Harry last year and lost him. She had been insecure, and insecurity was never too far away for her. She did not want to over manipulate Draco. She wanted things to work out as she had planned. He must believe her when she said she that she liked him.

As Madam Hooch gave her usual warnings regarding fair play, Draco kept looking in Cho's direction. He could not believe what he saw. One time he would glance her way and she would catch his eye and look innocent and loving. The next time she was doing a temptress routine.

Madame Hooch started the game. The two Seekers lifted off and went high to view everything. They circled away from each other at first since the Snitch never revealed itself earlier than ten minutes into play. They maneuvered closer so they could hear each other.

"Draco, you look really handsome in your robes. The silver serpent brings out the spark in your gray eyes." She looked flushed, radiant, and innocent. "You look like the kind of guy I want to have my way with. Or do I want you to have your way with me? Shall we take turns?"

"Okay, here is the slutty Cho" he thought. He had a lascivious response planned but could not say it before she drifted away.

They drifted back together and she said, "Have you decided how many children you want darling? I like the idea of a big family but will you love me if I don't keep my perfect girlish figure? I so want to be all you want in a loving wife."

About this time the Slytherin team scored their third goal, 30 to 0. One more goal was scored while Draco watched. Crabbe and Goyle were acting as Beaters. Those two and the Slytherin Keeper were doing a good job of stopping Ravenclaw from scoring. All of a sudden he realized Cho was streaking down towards the play. He took out after her worrying that she was going for the Snitch that he had not seen.

No, she was going for the Quaffle it appeared. She zoomed between Crabbe and Goyle and disrupted their attack. Ravenclaw scored their first goal. She zoomed back up laughing heartily.

"What are you doing?" he screamed through clinched teeth. "I thought you wanted us to win so we can beat Potter."

She stopped her laughing and gave him a viscous smile. "I want Potter to get all that is coming to him. I know there is no way we can win the Cup. But it just hit me. This is my last game of Quidditch, probably forever. I don't want it to end even though I know it will end just as planned. I have always been a Seeker and I want to see what it is like to be a Chaser.

"I first wanted to play Chaser when I tried out in third year, but we had Chasers. We needed a Seeker then, and playing that position was the only way I could join the team. You wouldn't begrudge me this fun in my last game would you, dear? I am so excited. The way I feel now I may not be able to resist you until school is out."

Ron asked, "Harry, what's Cho up to? She was running interference for her Chasers and now she's carrying the Quaffle towards the goal."

"How should I know? Ron, is there a rule against Seekers carrying the Quaffle?"

"No, Chasers can't catch the Snitch, but nothing keeps a Seeker from scoring goals. I guess no one ever thought they'd try."

Harry continued. "It's like she has given up on the Snitch. It's like she wants Slytherin to win. I guess she has strong feelings about Gryffindor taking the cup again."

Hermione had a different idea. "Maybe she wants Ravenclaw to do as well as possible."

Ron said "But they can't possibly catch Gryffindor, NO team has scored 370 points since we have been here except against Hufflepuff at its worse."

"That is 370 points for first place," said Hermione, "but there are other places."

Over the next five minutes Cho ran interference and stole the Quaffle and actually scored two goals. Ravenclaw was tied 60 to 60 but the Slytherins were not too worried because Malfoy had told all of them (separately -"don't tell anyone") that he had made an arrangement with Cho to catch the Snitch and win the Cup.

She drifted back up to Malfoy and laughed about how much fun she was having. She gave him the sweet girl talk for a second, then turned to slutty talk, and then went back down into the chase.

Draco daydreamed while causally looking for the Snitch, that it would be nice to have the country girl raising his children and the floozy in his bed each night. Then he realized that she was probably psycho enough to be the exact opposite.

She was flying much better than he thought she should. She was getting more out of her old Cleansweep Seven than he would have imagined possible.

He sighed. She was too unpredictable to be his woman if he was going to take his role with his father serving the Dark Lord. Then she scored the goal to go ahead and he decided that was enough. He headed towards his two Beaters.

As Ravenclaw extended the lead to 80 to 60, Draco spoke to the two, "Crabbe, Goyle, I don't think I like this. She may try something. You two go right and left and watch her. The Snitch may show soon and I want you two to head her off if she goes for it. And guys, she's not my girl. She's just one more opponent to deal with properly"

They smiled a smile indicating they would relish dealing with Chang.

In just over thirty seconds the two were in place, and in just over forty seconds the Snitch appeared.

It was drifting about five feet off the ground and heading away from Cho and Malfoy. It was a stern chase and Malfoy knew he would catch her and pass her easily. Besides, Crabbe and Goyle, not the brightest pair around, had her perfectly triangulated for a squeeze play. They had forgotten the Bludgers and were going to bodily ram her. About the time he passed her they would crash into her and do their worse.

Draco was surprised that Cho was not as easy to catch as she should be, but he was gaining. He reached for a little more speed from his Nimbus 2001, and he noticed his two Beaters had adjusted their trajectory also.

In the last seconds before he would pass Cho, somehow she reached deep down and got even more speed from her Cleansweep. A broom had only so much it could give a flyer, and a flyer had only so much he or she can get out of a broom. The best flyer can always get a little more from a design, but not that much more.

She shot ahead just out of Goyle's reach. Crabbe got two fingers on her broom straws. It pulled him just enough off balance and he and Goyle crashed spectacularly into each other. Their momentums checked each other's just a bit and they slowed enough for Malfoy to collide with them also.

But of course their collective momentums had not really stopped at all. In less than a second the three were cart-wheeling all over the pitch accompanied by the obvious sounds of breaking bones and cries of pain.

Cho did not see this because she was catching the Snitch.

Malfoy was the only one of the three conscious. Crabbe and Goyle were the lucky ones, unaware of just how much they hurt, and they were hurt more than Draco. He had a broken wrist and two badly bruised ribs. He had a splitting headache and blood was trickling out of both nostrils. He watched her take a half victory lap and then glance his way. She immediately shot back towards him and got there ten seconds before anyone else.

"I caught it Draco, I caught the Snitch. Aren't you proud of me," she shouted to him and kissed him on the cheek. He was amazed. She didn't even ask him how he felt. He was obviously in pain.

Madam Hooch and others were there so he could not use the language he wanted to use. "Get away from me you psycho nut case b...witch! Don't come near me. I thought you wanted Gryffindor to lose. We did not score enough points to catch them. Don't you understand? Potter wins again!"

"But Draco," said the sweet innocent Cho, "I do want Potter to receive all that he deserves. But we just scored 160 points more than Slytherin. Now we have enough points to move into second place. This is the highest we have placed in the Quidditch house standings since I have been on the team. Aren't you happy for me?"

He stared. His plan had caused the Slytherin team to go from a possible first place to third place.

"Don't ever come near me again." He was not loud, but he said this with all the hatred and bitterness he could muster.

She turned a bit uncertainly from Draco. Cho was still holding her broom close. Several of her housemates offered to take it from her so she could celebrate, but she held it tightly. The Ravenclaws were really enjoying the victory.

She turned at the sound of her name. "Cho, great flying. Congratulations. You put your team in second place."

She almost screamed, "Get away from me Potter, you and your famous scar! I wish things had turned out differently for you. I did this for Ravenclaw and me, not you. Keep an appropriate distance from me." And with that she turned back to her teammates.

Harry turned to Ron with an oddly sad look on his face. "Mental." Ron commented.

The Ravenclaw party for their second place was as big, maybe even bigger, than the Gryffindor celebration for their third straight first place victory.

Hermione, just back from a prefect patrol and a close inspection of a broom closet with Ron, came through the opening after telling the Fat Lady the password ("Cho caught it" especially created for this evening only). She bumped into something that was not there as she came in. "Harry? Is that you?"

"Yes," he whispered from under his Invisibility Cloak. "Hermione, please let me go. I'm almost claustrophobic in there. I just want to go for a walk. I promise I won't get into trouble."

"Fine. Go ahead." Then she added with slightest smile, "Say 'hello' for me."

He gave her an odd look that she could not see under the cloak.

Cho was outside their common room with Marietta. It was too loud inside for her. Cho still held her broom tightly. "I'm going to go see if Draco will forgive me."

Marietta shouted, "Are you daft? He told you off in front of everyone. He screamed at you." More quietly, "His father is a Death Eater and he will be one himself, soon. If you go to see him he'll hurt you."

Cho teared. "Okay. I'll just go for a walk. Maybe I will find the broom repair kit in the School Broom Room and repair this damaged straw Crabbe grabbed. I won't go near the infirmary." She walked with drooped shoulders away from the Ravenclaw common room where everyone was still celebrating her catch.

Luna passed her in the hall and said to no one in particular, "I want my appreciation expressed to all involved with that burst of speed that won the victory for us today."

When Cho looked up into Luna's eyes they were as dreamy and far away as usual-almost.

Cho walked almost aimlessly. She had a lot of thinking to do over her activities of the last few weeks.

A hand reached out from a door that was not there. Cho started to shout but she was inside the room that wasn't there, and she came face-to-face with her publicly sworn enemy.

"So Chang, you said that you want me 'the appropriate distance away from you.'"

"Yes, and I told Draco I want you to get what you deserve."

They rushed into each other's arms. "Cho, I can't stand this anymore."

"Oh, Harry, I want you at this appropriate distance forever," she said as she hugged him as closely as possible. "Can't we tell everyone how we feel about each other? Seeing you around school and not being able to go up to you is almost as bad as having to say such horrid things to you."

"You know Voldemort will want to capture and torture my girlfriend. I can't have that. We knew it would be this way when we started dating in secret last Autumn, after I mastered Occlumency. We have to keep it a secret even though it's killing me."

He continued, "I still can't believe how much I wanted you to mention my scar. When you broke your arm during our game, that signal telling me you were okay barely kept me from blurting out my concern for you."

"And I want to thank you for being there for every meeting with Malfoy. I felt safe knowing you were there to jump out from under your Invisibility Cloak and pound him if he got out of hand."

Harry face became very cross. He said, "When he rushed in and kissed you he was moments from a lot of pain. You saved him from what he deserved, cornering you like that.

"I had him under control, for the most part."

They looked away from each other for a moment, considering all of the chances they had taken to be together - and all the chances they had taken to get into a little bit of mischief to keep their sanity.

"Oh Harry. If Professor Dumbledore hadn't given you this portable miniature Room of Requirement I think I'd have become the crazy person Malfoy accused me of being. How long can we stay together tonight?"

"An hour I think. Hermione's figured us out, just like you thought she would, but I doubt she'll even tell Ron. She'll cover for me."

"Luna guessed as well, just like you said she might. That dreamy look does hide a perceptive mind, doesn't it?"

She held our her Cleansweep Seven and he took it. She drew her wand and re-transfigured it into his Firebolt.

He said, "You're the only student I've met that's as good at transfiguration as Hermione. Maybe better."

He placed the broom by the door and turned to the small couch near the fireplace. "We do have that hour," he said. "Can we spend it...?"

She smiled and tears came to her eye-the tears that he once so despised and now cherished-now that he knew her so well and understood their meaning.

He wanted to drown looking into those lovely of eyes. It was there that he hoped against hope that he saw a future - a future after his inevitable battle for the soul of the world.

Thanks for reading and reviewing.

Disclaimer- What belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. Everything left is mine,

I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."

However, that which is mine is copyright 2007 Aaran St Vines.