James awoke early on his third day back. He had stayed up for hours searching the map for any sign of Snape but there was no movement. Nothing.
"I was sure there was something odd about it though." said Remus as he and James walked in to the Great Hall for lunch.
"It was odd but I suppose, it was a one off"
"I suppose so" said Remus resoundingly. "Have you decided whose going to be on the team yet?"
"I almost have " said James confidently.
The day past at what seemed like the pace of a snail and people had been coming up to James all day asking about this year's Quidditch team.
"I'm sorry you will have to wait!" said James as he finished of the last of his cottage pie at dinner.
"Oh hurry up James everyone's waiting" said Sirius impatiently. James didn't think Sirius meant what he said but when he got to the common room it was packed. It appeared that the whole house had turned up. James shoved his way through the crowds of eager Gryffindors and placed the team list on to the notice board. It read:
Captain James Potter has selected 7 players for the upcoming Quidditch season they are...
Goal Keeper- Lorry Williams
Seeker- Tom Ferncombe
Beater- Miles Nicholson
Beater- Hamish Woodward
Chaser- James Potter
Chaser- Eliot Jenkins
Chaser- Emma Robinson
Thank you to everyone who tried out. GO GO GRYFFINDOR!!!
There was up raw as people were congratulated and consoled. James decided he didn't really want to have to apologise to forty or so people and so made his accuses and went up to the dormitory and went to bed.
The weeks went on and the first match of the season grew closer. The team was rapidly improving spending longer and longer hours in the air.
"Jenkins ! Switch switch switch!!!" Yelled James as he soared above the bright green field. "Great catch Gudgeon keep that up." The hours rolled on and the Gryffindor Quidditch team remained working hard. "Good effort today team." said James as he touched down with his Silver Arrow. "I'm sorry it took so long but we're thoroughly prepared for tomorrow's game. Hufflepuff doesn't stand a chance!"
"Do you think so?" asked Lorry
"I really do. The best thing for us now is rest. Whoa is that the time? Ok hurry up team and if a teacher catches you out of bed then blame it on me." James began to head back to the common room at a jog. Getting lost in the thought of winning the Quidditch cup. Gloating to the Slitherins after scoring the final goal.
"Hey watch it!"
"Sorry" said James hastily "Bellatrix. It's late you should probably be in the Common Room."
"Don't tell me what to do."
"I wasn't. It was more of a suggestion" said James defensively
"Well I don't need your suggestions Potter."
"Alright, alright. What are you doing here anyway?"
"Oh I'm just ... looking for someone." she said shiftily
"Why should I tell you?" she snapped
"You don't. I'll see you back in the Common Room then." said James trying to keep her calm. She had a harsh temper on her and he was too tired to argue now.
"Can you not tell Sirius you saw me?"
James thought this was an odd comment. Why would Sirius care? He hates Bellatrix. Always has done. "I won't" he said firmly. She darted off around the corner and James continued his glorious fantasy about Quidditch. He stepped through the Portrait Hole in to the nearly empty Common Room.
"You were out late" said Remus pouring over his Arithmancy book.
"Just squeezing in some extra practice"
"Yes. But I could swear my broom is veering slightly to the left" said James as he checked his Silver Arrows tail.
"Maybe your just bad at flying!"
"Your funny." said James sarcastically. "I need to get some sleep so I'll see you tomorrow"
"Night Prongs" said Remus returning to his book.
The next day brought a crisp October morning with little wind, blue skys and sunshine. Perfect conditions. James got in to his gold and scarlet Quidditch robes and pinned his shiny silver captains badge on to his jumper. The Common Room erupted with noise when James stepped in.
"Good luck today James, I know we can do this!"
"I'm ready to see that cup in hear again James!"
"I got 2 gallions on the game James so you better win!" said Sirius as he threw his arm around James' shoulders.
"I'll do my best."
"Good luck mate" said Sirius calmly
James left the room with his 'on the run breakfast ' that Peter had brought up for him. He was more excited than nervous. He had been playing Quidditch since 3rd year and according to Dumbledore he was the best flyer that had been at Hogwarts for years.
"This should be an easy one team" said James as he and the team made their way towards the pitch. "We have the skills, now let's put them into practice."
The gate lifted and the glorious Autumn sun shone brightly on to the grass pitch. It was a large stadium and all the seats were all filled. At one end were the Ravenclaws. A mass of blue and bronze. The Ravenclaws were a neutral house. Of course they wanted to win but apart from that they had no enemies. It was the same with Hufflepuffs who stood opposite them behind the goal posts. They were all sporting their rather bold colours of yellow and black. As for the Gryffindors, who stood above James as he walked out on to the pitch, they certainly had enemies and they; were the Slitherins. James scowled at the shimmering sea of silver and green that jeered at him as he and the team took flight. Gryffindor wanted to win and if they didn't then it would be Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. The thought of the snakes winning the Cup two years in a row made him feel sick. Last year's final match was the longest, roughest, most brutal game of Quidditch James had ever seen or played. It wasn't only the players that were that got injured. The game got so heated that a Slitherin sixth year fired a hex across to the Gryffindor stands and the Gryffindors were quick to retaliate. It became a fireworks display for the players on the field and one of the Slitherin beater's was turned into a rather dodgy looking duck as a misfired spell hit him.
The players circled the trunk containing the four balls. The lid was kicked off by and the match began.
"Its a great start from the Gryffindors" called Sirius as Gryffindor immediately got a hold of the Quaffle. Sirius was the commentator and had been for a few years. "The team is looking very strong this year. James Potter captaining for the second year now. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that he is a fantastic player." At these words James smirked. Sirius was a good commentator but he had a tendency to be a little biased. "Of course Gryffindor suffered a very unfortunate defeat in last years final to Slitherin." Cheers came from the Slitherin stands. "But" said Sirius loudly trying to be heard over the noise "the team have picked themselves up and are stronger than ever!" It was now turn for the Gryffindors to shout and chant. "The Hufflepuffs flying well. Led by Charlie Minhinnik who is also in his second year of captaincy. That was a lovely pass from Robinson to Potter. Great play from the captain, he has a chance here! He shoots. He scores! That's 10 to nothing to Gryffindor."
"Now it's a chance for the Hufflepuffs with Lufkin advancing on goal. That is a great save from Williams. The 5th year is playing well today. Its back in the possession of Gryffindor. What a lovely display of Quidditch. Come on Jenkins! Woo hoo! What a goal! Go go Gryffindor! I mean; that was a very nice shot. Bad luck Hufflepuff" said Sirius very unconvincingly. The match continued, Gryffindor holding the lead throughout.
"Ferncombe takes a dive. Has he seen the snitch? Oh no James has been hit by the bludger...what? ... That came from no where. Come on James get up, get up!" James was lying in the sandy plain underneath the Hufflepuff goal posts. He could see blurred shapes moving towards him. The field kept on coming in and out of focus and it was loud, really loud. As the people reached him rain began to fall, each drip was like he was being punched. The shapes were going. Everything was turning black. He had fallen unconscious.
The next thing James saw were the bright lights of the Hospital Wing. His head was throbbing and his eyes flickered open and close to flash out the blinding sun. He tried to remember what happened but it hurt to think. His hand was warm, someone was holding it. Their skin was soft and their hand was small so it fit perfectly into his. It was Lily. He knew it was Lily before he turned to see her.
"Hello" James said quietly. His voice cracked as it always does when you haven't spoken in a while. She quickly retrieved her hand and stood up. "No don't go!"
"I" she began "I was only here because Matron's been flooded with people."
"But you were..."
"Your a restless sleeper. You seemed to calm down when I..."
"Please you don't have to go"
"James" she said pleadingly. "I'm glad you alright" she left without another word.
James flopped back into his bed and then immediately regretted it as he experienced a sharp pain at that back of his head that caused him to let out a pitiful yelp.
"Mr Potter, finally you're awake. I was beginning to get rather worried. You weren't responding to anything we were giving you. Where is Miss Evans?
"She left" grumbled James "21st October? I've been in here for a week?"
"She was white as a ghost when you were admitted" Matron went on "I was fearing for her just as much as you! Now take this" she said as she poured out a gloopy green gunge into his glass.
"you know what, I'm actually feeling much better" James said eyeing the green stuff.
"Oh don't be ridiculous. Now drink!" Her tone was so menacing that James did as he was told at once. The liquid slid down his throat in one giant gulp.
"Grow up! I'm not going to let you out today because your head is still soar but you should be well for tomorrow."
"Thank you." said James picking up the Daily Prophet that had been placed next to his bed. Some of the text had been circled.
"Your friend Sirius dropped that off yesterday and said that you would be interested when you woke up" said the Matron who then bustled away. James scanned the headline.
"No way!" said James as he continued to read down the page. The Bandit was back. He had been to a wand shop in Bulgaria and was accompanied by two large men. James continued to read the paper and gently drifted off in to a deep sleep. It must have been around four in the morning when James awoke to a peculiar clanking sound. He raised his head as quietly as he could and saw a tall boy routing around in the cupboards nearest to him. He tried to make out the figures face but he couldn't see any features due to the darkness. When the boy stood his face caught the very little light coming in from the window and was lit up in a sort of translucent white glow that made James recoil. The boy then graabed some of the potion bottles he had gently placed on the floor and sprinted off.
James remained sitting in the darkness. Confused by the event that had just unfolded.