The morning of the game Arya Stark woke up with the first lights of dawn. The excitement was too much and everything was at stake. Her fellow classmates were still sleeping soundly on their beds so she tried to make the less possible noise while getting dressed.
In a few hours they would all be cheering for her and her team at the grades. She descended Gryffindor tower towards the Great Hall, mostly empty at that time of the morning.
As tradition before big games, she would always have a light breakfast, or else she would risk feeling sick and throw up. A single plate of oatmeal and she was ready to go to the quidditch pitch.
This game was the final. Gryffindor against Hufflepuff. As captain of the team Arya had busted her ass to lead them there. She had been a part of the team since second year and now finally in fifth year she had been made their leader. Leaving modesty aside she had really earnt it.
Arya was the seeker and since being in the team her catch radio was 9:1, almost a perfect record, allowing Gryffindor to win the cup the last three years. Now they just had to beat Hufflepuff and the cup would be theirs for another year.
The sun was starting to heat up the castle’s gardens as Arya headed down to the field. That morning she had wanted to do a few laps and see how the terrain was before the big game.
She finished putting on her gear and was leaving the dressing rooms when she heard a voice.
“Stark, how come I’m not surprised to see you here?”
When Arya looked up she saw Gendry Waters, the captain of the Hufflepuff team. He was a sixth grader and a beater. His body was a certain prove of that. A head taller than her and well built, with dark black hair and piercing blue eyes he was really popular around the female students, even among her friends in Gryffindor.
Arya couldn’t deny he was attractive but right now he was just the captain of the rival team and someone she had to defeat.
“I just wanna do some laps, test the field.” To be honest she had wished he wouldn’t be there. A thing she loved the most was flying, and even more if she was alone. That’s why she enjoyed so much being a seeker, since during the game, while the team focused on scoring together she was left alone to roam the sky in search of the snitch.
Not that she didn’t love her players. She had picked them based on their abilities and some like Myrcella Baratheon as chaser had earnt Arya’s respect.
“And what are you doing here, Waters? Can’t remember seeing you arriving early before.”
“I actually took the idea from you, saw you on the morning of the last game you had doing this and thought it was really clever.”
“I’m flattered you consider copying my techniques.”
He laughed at that, a big full laugh. “Wouldn’t you love that? You are so sure you’re going to win, right?”
He said that with a really smug face and Arya couldn’t help to raise her voice when she answered “Of course! What kind of captain would I be if I settled with losing?”
“I guess you can say the same for me then.” He made a pause before adding – “So if you’re so sure, how about we make a little bet?”
Arya didn’t like the sound of that, she had started to feel a different vibe from Gendry. Still she asked “What kind of bet?”
“If your team loses then you have to go on a date with me on the last trip to Hogsmeade of the year.”
“And if you lose, what do I get?”
“I don’t know, is there anything I have that you want? You can set the rules.”
Arya thought long and hard until she remembered she had heard his family worked as brooms crafters and had access to the latest models even before they went on sale.
“If I win you will get me one of those handmade broomsticks your family makes. And I want my name carved on the stick.”
“Wow, you really ask for nothing, don’t you?”
“You’re the one who suggested the bet, but if you wanna back down…”
“Nope, on my wizard’s honor, a bet is a bet.” He extended his right hand towards Arya and they shook them to sign the deal.
It was a few minutes later when she was flying over the pitch that the sudden realization of Gendry’s bet and that it meant he was actually asking her out truly hit her.
She of course had to win, it meant everything for her and the Gryffindor team but at the same time she thought if he had asked in a different way, Arya would have said yes to a date with Gendry Waters. One that didn’t involve losing the cup.
The time for the finale had arrived so she descended to meet up with the other players. They were used to her being early and greeted her when she came upon the ground.
It was the moment to give an inspirational speech as captain but that wasn’t her best quality. Robb and Jon were better at that but now it was her turn.
“Ok team, gather up.”- Her voice sounded so childish - “I know we might be confident because we have won the cup the last three years. But we can’t afford that luxury. We have to always stay on our toes. And always work together as a team. Because when the lone wolf dies, the pack survives. And we are a pack. We have trained and we are here to win, so let’s go and beat those Hufflepuffs so they stay wounded until September ok?”
They cheered with her and mounted their brooms to face the opposing team. She shook Gendry’s hand again as captains and remembered their bet. The referee blew the whistle, releasing the balls and the match started.
Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost.
That was the silent prayer she recited everytime she searched for the golden snitch. But Arya Stark didn’t fear losing, but she also wouldn’t be allowing that to happen.
She started going around the field looking for that little golden ball but still paying attention to the game. The quaffle was in Gryffindor hands right now and when she was struck by a roaring noise from the crowd she guessed her team had scored.
“GRYFFINDOR 10 HUFFLEPUFF 0” The amplified voice of Lommy Greenhands narrating the game could be heard even from where Arya was flying. But it was no time to cheer, she had to keep looking for the ball.
The game kept going for some minutes and the score was 50 to 40 with Gryffindor on the losing side when a bludger passed right in front of Arya’s face.
“Sorry!!” She heard Gendry’s smug voice a few feet below her. She cursed silently and repeated again in her mind Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water.
A couple more minutes and Hufflepuff was still ahead of her house by 30 points. Arya flew in circles searching for the snitch and decided to check on the opposite team’s seeker to get a clue.
Shireen Baratheon, a girl younger than her that had entered the team that year was Hufflepuff’s seeker but she looked just as lost as Arya, flying aimlessly around the field. The score was now 100 points Gryffindor vs. 150 Hufflepuff but one of their chasers, Elia Sand managed to score and lessen the gap. That Sand girl acted as if she had been borne in a broom, with skills even Arya had to admire.
But now was not the time to think about that, if the game kept going like that even if she caught the golden snitch they would still lose the cup. She descended a few feet, almost grazing the ground with her bottoms when she saw it.
The snitch was flying carelessly around the Gryffindor left post. As soon as Arya saw it she raced her broom towards the little ball.
“It seems Stark has seen the snitch or else she’s just really committed to knocking herself onto that post.” She could hear Lommy saying from the stands.
The Baratheon girl was on the other side of the field so there was no chance she would get there first when suddenly a bludger hit her on her right side making her lose balance and focus. Arya deviated from her path and almost fell from her broom.
She really hoped the beater wasn’t Gendry but she could only see a dark haired boy with similar built and felt real anger towards him before she heard Lommy’s comment.
“She almost had the snitch but Stark was hit by a bludger sent by Edric Storm.” So it wasn’t Gendry but still now the moment had been lost and the snitch had gone away.
Arya regained her composure and made sure Shireen hadn’t noticed where the ball had gone but the Hufflepuff seeker even though she was closer now didn’t seem to be actively looking. Now the two seekers where really close and both knew the snitch had to be close. Meanwhile Arya could hear Lommy’s commentary.
“The Hufflepuff chaser Beric Dondarrion has just been hit with a bludger while Sand scores another goal.”
Now the score was 200 Gryffindor, 190 Hufflepuff. Arya calculated an hour had passed and it was a really tight game. Whoever caught the snitch would definitely win. Shireen was circling the Gryffindor posts when she suddenly headed fast towards the center of the field. Arya looked that way and saw the elusive ball again. She was closer to the objective in horizontal distance but the ball was far up high nearer Shireen.
It was just a matter of who was the fastest. Arya accelerated, going higher and even feeling how another bludger passed near her left side but right now she needed to act as swift as a dear and quick as a snake. The other seeker was really close too. She was reaching with her hand when the snitch noticed them approaching and quickly made an escape route heading down.
Both Arya and Shireen followed the little ball nosedive, shoulder to shoulder, the ground coming closer and closer but if she just reached her hand she could capture the snitch but it was too hard keeping the balance.
However the Baratheon girl did risk it and almost falling out of her broom she extended her arm first grazing the ball with her finger until she finally caught it finishing the game. Not before falling from her broom and ending on the grass.
The referee sounded his whistle and ended up the match, proclaiming Hufflepuff the winners of the quidditch cup with 340 on their score.
They deserved it, Arya thought. She unmounted her broom and went to congratulate Shireen and the other Hufflepuff players. They had been a tough opponent and even when she felt really miserable for losing and ending their three year strike it had been a fair game.
Everyone was cheering on the little Shireen and right now Arya just wanted to leave with her teammates silently and head to the castle when a hand grabbed her by the shoulder.
“Hey, Stark. You played really well.” It was Gendry, all sweat and smiles. It had probably been a decade since their house had won the cup so he must have been ecstatic. He leaned closer to her ear so only she could hear him. “But don’t you think I forgot about our bet.”