Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Author's note: I know my update schedule has been erratic, to put it kindly, but this is just a quick note to say not to expect another update until at least the end of May. Life will be pretty hectic for me until then.

As always, thanks to silentclock.

Chapter Fifteen

Harry's eyes shot open as the grandfather clock chimed. The sudden noise had startled him awake and now reverberated around inside his skull. He was sure this is how it would feel should Fred and George ever decide to use his head for target practise. Harry had taken enough Bludgers to the head to know the aftermath wasn't too dissimilar a feeling to a hangover-induced headache.

Mercifully, the clock soon stopped its infernal chiming.

There was a weight on Harry's chest, which turned out to be Daphne; her body was trapping one of his arms as she slept soundly, snoring into the side of his neck. A thick quilt covered them, but despite the warmth it and Daphne provided, the tip of Harry's nose and his toes were cold. To rectify this, he reached out with his free arm, blindly searching for his wand on the floor. After finding his shoes and socks, and Daphne's lace knickers, he gave up his search. His wand, he suspected, had rolled beneath the coffee table.

Harry's stomach roiled from his movements, the sensation similar to seasickness, and he didn't move again for quite some time. As long as he stayed still, he found his nausea was kept at bay. He was quite content to stay where he was, flat on his back, and watch the world pass by. From his position he could see the top half of the window over the back of the sofa, and just make out the grey clouds in the sky. Snowflakes were falling thick and fast, brushing up against the pane of glass and sticking to one side of its frame. On the other side of the lounge the dying embers of the fire burned a dull orange, barely keeping the chill outside the cottage walls.

Harry's attention was drawn back to Daphne, who had mumbled in her sleep. Although he had never spoken of it, he had often imagined himself falling into bed with her. He was glad she hadn't yet woken up; he didn't have a clue what to say to her. There was something about her, but he wasn't sure if it was just her pretty face or if there was something more meaningful there, something real. She was flirty and fun and she had a knack of making him feel giddy with just her presence – but how long would that last?

A sharp few taps on the window disturbed the still room. Daphne's eyes popped open, but only for the briefest of moments, and then she was asleep again.

"Um – Daphne? There's an owl at your window," said Harry, gently shaking her shoulder.

"Tell it to bugger off," Daphne mumbled, burrowing deep into the gap between Harry's chest and bicep. "It's too early."

"It's not too early, it's only … hang on …" Harry looked at the grandfather clock and froze when he saw the time. "Shit – I'm late."


"I'm supposed to be training," said Harry, struggling to free himself from the tangle of limbs. "Come on – haven't you got work? Shit – shit – Phil's probably planning my murder as we speak."

With a lengthy groan, Daphne pushed herself off Harry and sat back on her knees. The action caused her to remove the thick quilt, exposing their naked bodies to the chilly air. Harry watched in fascination as goose bumps erupted over Daphne's skin. The muscles in his stomach clenched and his throat closed, making it slightly difficult to breath. As he became aware of Daphne's now wide, alert eyes on him, he had never felt more exposed.

"I didn't realise …" murmured Daphne, reaching out a hand to run a finger down his ribs, tracing the jagged white line of an old scar.

"You've seen them before," Harry said quietly, placing his hand over hers. The urge to cover up was almost overwhelming. You had to get used to being naked when you shared a changing room, but professional Quidditch players tended to have their fair share of scars, so nobody looked twice at the collection Harry had built up over the years. Compared to Daphne's pale unblemished skin, Harry felt as disfigured as Mad-Eye Moody.

"I was focused more on the fresh injuries you had when I helped treat you; I didn't pay much attention to these." Daphne traced another scar with the tip of her finger, which ended at Harry's collarbone, and she met his gaze. Harry saw a whole array of emotions in her eyes, none of which he wanted to contemplate right now.

"There's a story behind each of them," he said, moving her hand away from his chest. "Maybe I'll tell you them all one day, but this is not the time."

"Tell me the funny ones first," said Daphne as she bent over to retrieve her wand, and Harry looked away – it suddenly didn't feel right to stare at her, the moment long since gone.

"I have a few of them," said Harry, smiling as he pointed at his shoulder. "This one, for example, is when I flew straight into a tree. You would've thought I'd have learned my lesson after the start of second year, when I barely escaped my first encounter with the Whomping Willow …"

Puddlemere's training ground had been transformed into a winter wonderland over the weekend. Wreaths of holly had been affixed to every oak door, while colourful tinsel was now draped over every doorframe and portrait; two had been interwoven around the staircase banister leading to the upper floors. The stone floor of the entrance hall was covered in a thick layer of conjured snow, with a path neatly bisecting it from the doorway to Emma's desk.

"You're late," said Emma, scolding Harry the moment he walked through the front door.

"I know," said Harry, who couldn't keep the silly grin off his face.

"Why are you so happy this morning?" Emma's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Phil wants to see you in his office immediately."

Harry's grin faded somewhat, and he turned from the path and to the staircase. His footsteps created indents in the snow, which were filled in the moment he raised his foot. He didn't pause to enjoy the small wonders of magic, his thoughts instead turning to the upcoming conversation. Squaring his shoulders outside Phil's office, Harry knocked twice on the heavy wooden door.

"Come in, Potter."

Phil was sitting behind his desk, his brow creased as he scribbled on a roll of parchment. Harry sat down and waited. After a few minutes the stiflingly hot office became quite unbearable, forcing Harry to undo his top button and roll up his sleeves. Phil's office always had a roaring log fire, even in the summer, and Phil always wore thick woollen robes. It was a running joke amongst the team that Phil must have messed up a Cooling Concoction in his youth, and had since been stuck with the body temperature of a reptile.

"Right then," said Phil abruptly, clapping his hands together and resting them palms down on his desk. "I think it's time we got down to business."

Harry's expression was one of polite curiosity. He'd been expecting a harsh reprimand, for either his unpunctuality or his excessive drinking over the weekend. It hadn't been in the press, but Phil seemed to have eyes and ears everywhere. Fred and George had found that out in their first year on the team, after hosting a Halloween party that got out of hand.

"We're at the halfway point of your one-year contract," Phil explained. "It's also around this time of year I assess the players and review performances from the first half of the season."

Harry tried to keep his concern from showing. Evidently, he didn't pull it off, because Phil raised a grey eyebrow and said, "Don't look so worried, Potter. It's normal procedure. This will only be a quick chat, just to see how things are progressing so far. How do you think you've done over the past few months?"

"Er …" Harry wished he'd had time to prepare an answer. He was used to thinking on his feet when it came to fighting or Quidditch, but not always when it came to using his words. "I've done all right, I think. Obviously I wish I'd played more games, but I understand why I haven't."

Phil looked somewhat sympathetic. "Yes, unfortunately for you, blooding rookie Seekers is always difficult."

Harry was well aware of that. More often than not, a Seeker decided the game, so it would always be a risk. It was much easier for managers to experiment with other positions. The usual preference with a young Chaser, for example, was to play them alongside two old hands and hope the veterans' experience would see the young kid through the game. It was a tried and trusted method the world over, but the best way to blood an inexperienced Seeker was still up for debate. Like all rookie Seekers, Harry thought the best way was for him to play as much as possible. Naturally, most managers tended not to agree with his way of thinking.

"You have a way to go before you fully realise your potential, Harry. You've improved considerably in the past few months," said Phil. "Provided you continue to work as hard as you have been, I see no reason why you won't be awarded a new contract come the end of the season."

A quiet sort of satisfaction filled Harry. He knew he hadn't yet achieved anything in the game, and there was the possibility of Phil changing his mind in six months' time, but Harry was determined not to let that happen. He was halfway out of the office, grin firmly back in place, when Phil stopped him.

"One last thing, Potter." Phil was smiling in a grim sort of way underneath his salt and pepper moustache. "You'll be fined a day's wages for turning up late this morning. I'd rather hoped you would come clean."

"Ah – sorry about that," Harry said, internally wincing.

"Would you care to provide an explanation for your tardiness?" Phil's expression turned stony, strongly reminding Harry of Professor McGonagall on a bad day. A lot of rather useless excuses popped into Harry's head, although he didn't dare voice any of them. As had always been the case with McGonagall, it would be useless to try and pull the wool over Phil's eyes.

"I've been in this game a long time, Harry," said Phil, his tone almost wistful. "You wouldn't believe some of the extraordinary talent I've seen go to waste. I would hate to see you go down the same route as so many before you have travelled. You could become great, and I can help you along the way, but only you can make it happen. But if you haven't got the dedication …" Phil shrugged, an action that looked unnatural for the middle-aged man. "Well, without dedication, why are you even playing the game?"

Sufficiently scolded, Harry left Phil's office feeling as though things could have gone far worse, all things considered. Six months ago, he probably would have been fuming at the dressing down. It would have felt excessive for being thirty minutes late. Now, he understood. There were many tales of players who should have went on to join the greats, only to fade into obscurity, and Harry didn't want his name to join that list.

Whether they had won or lost a game, every player dreaded a Monday, and for good reason. The morning was dedicated entirely to analysing the team's performance, which, while undoubtedly useful, was also mind-numbingly boring. Even the room where Phil held the meeting was utterly bland, with rows of hardback chairs all facing a whiteboard, with no portraits or pictures, just off-colour white walls and a window that overlooked the pitches. Its official name, written on the plaque on the door, read: Analysis and Review Room. The players preferred to call it by its nickname: the torture chamber.

Harry settled in for a long few hours. Phil arrived a few minutes after him, and proceeded to drone on about which tactics had worked best in the game, which ones would need tweaking for the future, and which ones would be discarded entirely.

Harry found his attention wavering around the half hour mark, as Phil and Maddock become embroiled in a furious discussion about the captain's positioning when starting up counter-attacks. This was a regular occurrence between Phil and Maddock. The first time Harry had seen it, he had half expected fists to start flying. He'd just been about ready to jump into the fray, to stop a fight escalating out of control, when he noticed the rest of the team hadn't reacted in the slightest. After that, he'd become used to the men's heated tempers.

Eventually, Phil and Maddock agreed to work on a new plan. Another hour dragged on as Phil focused on Fred and George; even they lacked their usual gusto in the torture chamber, speaking to Phil in monotonous voices.

"Potter," Phil said at last, gesturing at him with his wand. "You'll be working on your spatial awareness and multi-tasking this week. Neither is up to scratch. You lose sight of everything else around you when you become fixated on something. I lost count of how many times you nearly had your head knocked off by a Bludger on Saturday. You'll also be flying a few drills with the Chasers and playing a practise game with them. The better your understanding of their position, the better you'll be at knowing when to help them and when to stay away."

Harry couldn't hide his grimace. The next week would consist of dodging the hellhounds that were Fred and George. With those two, it felt less like a training routine and more like an all-out battle. Judging by the way the twins brightened up at hearing the news, they were looking forward to the fight.

The Three Broomsticks was busy on Thursday evening, full of locals and wizards and witches from far and wide, all enjoying Rosmerta's home cooked food and warm ale. Harry sought out Daphne, and found her sitting in the back of the pub, enclosed within a booth next to the fireplace. They hadn't had a chance to speak in person since Monday morning. As Daphne had been working late and Harry had been training, they'd been forced to correspond only through letters.

Harry's stomach churned with nerves at the sight of her, and he busied himself with removing his scarf and gloves as he joined her in the booth. Daphne had bought two tankards of butterbeer, one of which was awaiting Harry on the table; the other one, which she was holding in two hands, was half empty.

"Sorry I'm late, Phil kept us for extra training," said Harry.

Daphne waved off his apology, instead looking at him with concern. "That looks awfully painful," she said, gesturing to the black eye Harry was sporting.

"It's not too bad." Harry prodded the sensitive, swollen skin. "I've put some bruise-healing paste on it, so it should be gone by morning."

"How, exactly, did you manage to get such a nice shiner?"

"A Bludger from George," Harry muttered, struggling to keep his blush from spreading to his cheeks. He hadn't been paying attention towards the end of the training routine, his mind having drifted to spending the evening with Daphne, when he got whacked in the face by a Bludger.

The corner of Daphne's lips twitched as she failed to hide her amusement. "What did you say in your last letter? I seem to remember you bragging about Fred and George failing to land a direct hit on you all week."

"Yes, well …" Harry picked up the menu and stared intently at the list of mouth-watering food Rosmerta was serving tonight. "I think I'll have the beef casserole."

"So will I," said Daphne, and waited a beat before adding, "I just hope the beef is as tender as your eye looks."

Daphne snorted at her own appalling joke, and Harry couldn't resist laughing along. He hadn't found the jokes from his teammates quite as funny when he had first taken the Bludger to the face.

"So, will you be coming to watch me on Saturday?"

"You're playing?"

"Did I forget to mention it in my letter?" Harry asked, feigning confusion. "It must have slipped my mind."

"Prat," said Daphne, her insult softened by her wide smile. "Of course I'll be there!"

Harry pressed the tip of his wand twice against the menu, directly over beef casserole. Their table number would appear on a blackboard in the kitchen, along with their order. Harry wasn't sure if Rosmerta employed house-elves or humans, but whoever the chefs were, they produced the food extraordinary quickly. Hardly a minute after the order was placed, the table flashed to signal the food's imminent arrival, and then two dishes of steaming casserole appeared.

Harry rolled up his shirt sleeves, picked up his cutlery, and got stuck in. Conversation was limited as the food was devoured. Harry's hunger had steadily increased throughout the day until his stomach ached painfully, so naturally, he finished eating long before Daphne.

"The last time I was here I could hardly hear myself think," said Harry, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "It's not quite the same when there's no Quidditch."

"It's certainly quieter," said Daphne, glancing around at the tables filled with a lot of middle-aged and elderly couples. "We look out of place tonight, don't we?"

"We could always go to Madam Puddifoot's, if you'd prefer."

Daphne threw her scrunched up napkin across the table, hitting Harry square in the forehead. "The last guy I dated tried taking me there, so don't you dare think of doing the …" She stopped abruptly, suddenly looking unsure of herself. "It just occurred to me that this feels like a date."

"Er – I guess it does," said Harry. "It didn't cross my mind, in all honesty."

"Is there any chance you can forget I said that?"

"Obliviate," said Harry, pressing his finger against his temple. "Sorry," he added, putting on a confused look, "what were we talking about?"

Daphne laughed. "Oh, Merlin, that was bad."

"Excuse me, but I think you had the worst joke of the night. Hope it's as tender as your eye looks…"

"It was awful, wasn't it?"

"No doubt about it."

"Okay," said Daphne, flattening her palms on the table. "Okay, let's try to be serious for a moment. Where do we go from here? I think it's plainly obvious that we're attracted to each other. Don't feel pressured into asking me out, because that's not what I'm asking. I'm perfectly happy to see where this goes without forcing it."

"We haven't exactly forced it these past few months, have we?" said Harry, who had found himself nodding along to Daphne's words. "I just have one question: does this mean I have to buy you a Christmas present?"

Daphne forehead wrinkled in thought, until she realised Harry was joking. "Hey, I thought we were having a serious conversation!"

"Sorry, I couldn't help it," said Harry, chuckling. "If you want to see where this goes, I'm more than happy to do so, but I do have another question."

Daphne eyed him with suspicion. "Will it be another joke?"

"No …"


"All I want to know is if this isn't a date, does that mean we're sharing the bill?"

Daphne tried hard to hide it behind her hand, but she was definitely smiling. "You're such an arse, Potter. I'll pay for dinner tonight, and you can pay for the bottle of wine we're taking back to mine."

"You're inviting me back?" Harry squeaked. He immediately cleared his throat and added, in a deeper than normal voice, "I mean, yeah, of course."

"Harry Potter!"

Harry flew out of the tunnel and in to a wall of noise. The pre-game anxiety he had been feeling all morning was left behind as he put the Firebolt through its paces, corkscrewing at top speed and following it up with a perfectly executed vertical dive. He pulled up at the last second and decreased his pace, starting a lap of the stadium.

As it was near to Christmas, there were a lot of children attending the game. It made for a festive atmosphere. Harry's private seats were full, but Harry's eyes landed on Daphne, who winked at him. Sirius gave Harry a thumbs-up from beside her. The two were sitting beside each other so Sirius could explain the finer points of the game. Behind them, Seamus and Ron were gesticulating furiously back and forth, no doubt arguing over their respective teams.

Harry took his position above Puddlemere's Chasers. For the first time he focused on Reitch, Falmouth's Seeker. The thirty-two year-old man had a flat face reminiscent of Crookshanks, an unnaturally wide nose, and always seemed to have a perpetual scowl on his unshaven face. He was staring at Harry intently with black, hollow eyes.

The noise of the crowd grew louder as the start of the game neared. Harry refused to break eye contact with Reitch. As the referee blew the whistle, Harry saw what was going to happen before it actually did. Reitch hurtled straight for Harry, his intent clear, but Harry had already relinquished control of his broom. He dropped straight out of Reitch's path, much to the man's surprise.

As luck would have it, Harry's momentary free fall took him straight into the path of Horton. The Falcons' Chaser was forced to turn violently to avoid a collision, dropping in the Quaffle in the process. Andrew Merton zipped in and took advantage, taking possession of the Quaffle and starting Puddlemere's first attack of the game.

"Three things happened at once there, which we'll get back to in just a moment because Merton's completely in the clear … and he scores! He slots the Quaffle past Turner to give Puddlemere the early lead!" Joe, the commentator, was as excitable as usual as he shouted over the cheering crowd. "Replays show exactly what happened in the first ten seconds. It appears Bragge took a hit from Karl Broadmoor's Bludger, which gave Horton the Quaffle. Reitch had blatantly attempted to take Potter out of the sky, but Potter was too fast and disrupted Horton. That was some move from Potter – a Krum speciality! I daresay he learned it from the man himself, being such good friends."

Puddlemere's intricate passing could be hypnotic at times, brilliant and dizzying and almost impossible for opponents to defend against. It was unbelievably fast, the Quaffle changing hands in the blink of an eye. Falmouth's Chasers were backtracking frantically, shouting orders to each other to stay in their practised defensive formation. It didn't work; Puddlemere's Chasers were too good, the second goal coming from Bragge.

Harry had no time to celebrate. Reitch was coming in at a steep angle from above, forcing Harry to lean hard to his left. Reitch whizzed past, missing Harry by millimetres. That had been too close. Harry mentally shook himself.

It became blatantly obvious over the next half hour that Reitch had one intention in mind: to take Harry out of the game. There was no subtlety about the man's approach today, but Harry had encountered such a tactic before. Draco Malfoy had picked his moments – but Reitch was a constant presence, and a far better player.

There was no time to dawdle, Reitch's tactics forcing Harry to keep his concentration. He was just thankful that Reitch hadn't yet called the Broadmoor twins in as reinforcement. Falmouth's Beaters currently had their hands full, desperately trying to put an end to Puddlemere's dominance. Fred and George were gleefully defending their Chasers; they had been waiting for the chance to play Kevin and Karl since the World Cup final.

"It's Bragge who scores again, taking Puddlemere's tally to sixty," said Joe. "Falmouth just hasn't had an answer to the onslaught. They're yet to register a shot on target."

Reitch descended on his Chasers, berating them for their performance. It gave Harry a momentary respite. He breathed in the cold winter air and stretched out his cramping legs. There was no way Reitch could keep up this level of intensity the longer the game wore on, Harry knew. He just hoped the Snitch stayed hidden until Reitch finally tired.

"It's Merton with possession of the Quaffle, and he hands it off to Bragge – back to Merton – who gives to it to Maddock, and a timely Bludger puts a hole in Falmouth's defence! Maddock might not be as fast as he once was, but he's still got the vision. His pass finds Bragge, who adds another ten points to the scoreboard. That's seventy unanswered points now, folks. Just listen to this crowd!"

Harry swung his Firebolt around the goalposts, ignoring Josephine Turner's glare. The Falcon's Keeper had steadily grown more and more irate as the goals continued to fly past her. Her temperament was commonly known. Some players performed better the angrier they got, but Josephine wasn't one of them. Harry couldn't resist flying directly across her line of sight.

"Go fuck yourself, Potter!"

Harry doubled back and didn't hang around to hear her insults. He flew high and paused once more, surveying the action below. Reitch had turned his attention to the Broadmoor twins, gesticulating furiously at them. Harry used to the time to search for the Snitch, but it proved fruitless.

The game wore on, Puddlemere's Chasers refusing to relinquish control of the match. Falmouth's defence had all but fallen apart by the brutal offensive play from Merton, Bragge, and Maddock. They were arguing amongst themselves, putting the blame on everyone else. The gulf in class was too great for them to mount a comeback, which they knew, and it brought out the worst in them.

Karl and Kevin Broadmoor teamed up to land an eye-watering blow to Oliver Wood's kneecap, only for Horton to miss the open goal. His shot hit the metal ring and bounced straight into Maddock's large, grateful hands. This, of course, only riled up Falmouth even more. As Puddlemere counter-attacked, Robinson nearly jumped off his broom to stop Merton breaking clear. It proved to be a useless foul from the veteran Chaser, as Merton scored the resulting penalty.

"Looks like it's coming down to us, Potter," called Reitch. He had a rough, guttural voice, reminiscent of Grawp, Hagrid's half-brother.

Harry glanced over Reitch's head, to the scoreboard. Puddlemere now had a commanding lead, one-hundred and ten to zero. If they could score five more goals without conceding, they wouldn't lose should Reitch catch the Snitch. It would mean ten points added to the league total, instead of three-hundred and ten.

"Giving up on your team so easily?" Harry asked, hearing a distant crack from behind him. He'd been familiar with that noise for years now, but due to the training he'd done this past week, it produced an almost visceral response in him. He held his nerve and stayed his ground, watching Reitch's smile grow wider. The whistle was faint at first, growing louder by the second. Just as Reitch's smile widened in glee, Harry rolled upside-down and watched the Bludger skim the handle of his broom and clip Reitch's boot.

Reitch howled like a madman, hurling abuse at Harry's retreating back. The part of the crowd that saw what had happened stood up to both cheer and laugh.

"I'm not sure what just happened between the Seekers, folks, we'll have to consult the Omnioculars. That'll have to wait because look, Merton's high, arcing pass finds Bragge. Wouldn't you know it, he's scored again! This could be embarrassing if Potter catches the Snitch. Even if he doesn't, questions will surely be asked after this dreadful performance."

Harry was aware of the dangerous line he was walking. If that Bludger had been coming at a different angle… Phil was probably pulling his hair out. It had been worth the risk, in Harry's opinion. The red mist descended over Reitch, a reaction that usually followed when he had been humiliated. If he had looked hell bent on knocking Harry's head off before, it was nothing compared to how he looked now. He was snarling like a nesting dragon, something Harry had first-hand experience with, and it was now that he called in reinforcement.

There weren't many things that made Harry run away instead of standing his ground. The sight of two heavyset Beaters and an enraged lunatic in the form of Reitch advancing, wanting nothing more than to beat the snot out of him, was one such thing. Harry flew fast, evasive lines, all the while frantically signalling to the Weasley twins. Much to his dismay, Fred and George were too far away.

Harry was forced to duck and dodge, spin and weave, in a desperate attempt to evade the wave of Bludgers that came at him. Worryingly, they seemed to be getting closer to hitting their mark. Harry yanked his broom up just in time, the Bludger flying harmlessly past.

The evasive manoeuvres could only last for so long, Harry decided, and he decided to switch to flat out speed. He flattened his body as close to the Firebolt as possible and positioned the broom to point straight at the heavens. Just as he thought he'd escaped from trouble, a Bludger finally hit him. It caught him in the ankle and sent him spinning wildly, wrestling for control of his broom.

Harry managed to right himself, but was breathing heavily now. The Bludger had certainly done its intended damage. He rested his ankle gingerly on the footrest, wincing as a throbbing pain shot up his calf. It felt broken, as fresh injuries tended to do.

Fred and George had come to Harry's rescue. They were returning the attack in kind, peppering the Broadmoor twins with Bludgers. Reitch wasn't there. Harry spun in a full circle, his heart stopping as he realised Falmouth's Seeker was entering into a dive. For a moment, he was paralysed, memories of his last defeat flashing to the forefront of his mind. He shook it off and gave chase, the commentator's words ringing in his ears.

"Reitch is looking to end the game now. If he makes the catch, he'll bring Falmouth back from the jaws of defeat!"

The pain in Harry's ankle increased tenfold, but as he flew past his private seats he saw, out of the corner of his eye, Sirius leaning over the railing and roaring his support. Harry was filled with emotion. He used it to force the pain to the back of his mind, and he burst forward with more speed.

"Reitch is so close he can practically taste the Snitch, and he reaches – Potter's there! Where did he come from?" Joe's voice cracked, but he continued anyway. "They're neck and neck now, and look – Potter's gone past Reitch! How fast is this boy? It's Potter's turn to reach – Oh!"

Harry spun violently again. This time, it wasn't a Bludger that did it.

"Reitch makes a desperate grab for the tail of Potter's Firebolt, sending him flailing, and now it's Falmouth's Seeker who looks favourite. The referee has called for a penalty for the foul – the other players have stopped to watch – and Merton will have to hurry to take it. Puddlemere lead by one-forty – not enough for the win. Reitch is closing in now – what a hit! It's Fred Weasley who saves the day. He's surely stopped his side from losing. Merton's missed the penalty, would you believe?"

It was impossible to hear a thing with the level of noise around the stadium, although Harry saw Oliver Wood frantically waving his arms to get his attention. It was obvious why: the Snitch was fluttering just above the goalposts. Harry wasted no time in giving chase. He was there in a second, grasping the golden ball.

For a moment, there was confusion from everyone. Puddlemere's players weren't celebrating because Falmouth had surrounded the referee. Reitch was at the side of the pitch, getting treated for his injury. His eyebrow was split open and pumping blood.

"Falmouth appears to be arguing that with their Seeker being treated, the game should have stopped," Joe informed the fans and Harry. "The referee blows his whistle now, signalling the end of the game and a win for Puddlemere. This will be controversial!"

A resounding cheer went up around the stadium. Puddlemere's players were calmer. They had expected to win and had; there was no need to get excited. Puddlemere had climbed the table thanks to this result, although still trailed the leaders, Montrose Magpies, by ninety points.

It was a different story for Falmouth. They now lingered second from bottom. Their players were furious and still surrounded the referee, who was now being escorted off the pitch by security guards.

Harry ignored them and flew to his private seats, where Sirius looked to be on the verge of dancing with joy. Seamus was shaking his head.

"You're a fucking lunatic, Potter," he said. "What the hell possessed you to barrel-roll to avoid a Bludger? Reitch's face was priceless!"

"That's precisely why I did it."

"I swear, Harry, you take a year off my life every time I watch you play," said Hermione, whose complexion had turned very pale. She leaned over the railing to give him a brief hug. She pulled back and added, "When will you stop being so reckless?"

Harry just laughed at her.

"You're a bloody idiot, Harry," said Daphne.

"I know."

"I bet Poppy's going spare if she's heard what you did!"

"I hope not," said Harry. "I think I've broken my ankle. I don't fancy being lectured tonight."

Daphne leaned forward and lowered her voice, so only Harry would hear. "I could be your personal healer for the night, if you'd like?"

"Will you wear your uniform?"

"No," said Daphne, smirking at Harry's pout. "How about I wear nothing instead?"