"And they're off!"
The shrill whistle signals the start of the game and green and red stripes streak across the sky as both teams leap into action, players dispersing across the pitch.
“First game of the season, Gryffindor versus Slytherin, of course.” Stiles clears his throat, “Yes, I might be in Gryffindor, but I keep things real, so thank you to all who are tuning in today. If you’re not…well, you don’t actually have a choice. I have control of the megaphone.”
One player rises above the rest, circling in the air on his broom, gaze sharp as ever as he looks for any hint of gold in the large Quidditch pitch.
“There’s McCall, my best buddy ever since first year, youngest Gryffindor Captain in a century, and Gryffindor’s golden boy.” Stiles wipes away an invisible tear, "I’m so proud of him. They grow up so fast. Scotty, give us a wave!”
From above, Scott sweeps his arm in a grand gesture towards him, much to the delight of the Gryffindor audience behind Stiles, though he doesn’t tear his eyes away from searching for the Snitch.
Professor Finstock glowers at Stiles, biting out through gritted teeth, “Mr. Stilinski. If you would please keep things relevant to the match.”
“Right. Let’s see — ouch, Hewitt’s nearly knocked off his broom from Lahey’s Bludger — nasty piece of work, that Lahey, a true snake —”
“Stilinski,” warns Finstock.
“Yeah, yeah. Dunbar in possession of the Quaffle now — passes it to Argent — oh no — stolen by Reyes. Not a fan of her, she sabotaged my potion once and my cauldron exploded. She told Professor Harris it was an accident, but I know better.”
Stiles huffs, “Ah, Reyes scores. Ten-zero, Slytherin in the lead. No worries though, Yukimura is our gorgeous Gryffindor goddess, she’ll stop it next time.”
Doing his best to ignore the stink-eye Finstock is giving him, he continues, “My boy McCall on the move — seems to have spotted something — Talbot on his tail like the lazy, stinking cheater that he is —”
“I will not hesitate to take the megaphone away from you, Stilinski.”
“Sorry, Professor, just telling it like it is.”
“Why don’t you try telling it less like you think it is then.”
“Excellent suggestion, I’ll keep it in mind, absolutely,” lies Stiles innocently, but moments later, he frowns at something he sees. “Talbot interferes — McCall loses track of the Snitch —”
A collective groan rises from the Gryffindor crowd and Stiles leans forward. “Dunbar’s got possession of the Quaffle once again but ah, looks like the Hales have trapped him between them — a terrifying pair of siblings, Little Hale ambushed me in the halls and jinxed me in the balls once, it hurt like a b—"
“LANGUAGE, STILINSKI!” Finstock roars, face going purple with anger. Stiles can see Scott across the pitch, the Seeker’s shoulders shaking with silent mirth.
“Apologies to the children out there, that was my mistake. I’m just still bitter,” admits Stiles. Though the sky is mostly grey, he lifts up a hand to shield his eyes from the rays of sunlight that do poke out from the clouds. “Merlin, Whittemore nearly murders Argent with that collision. Gryffindor Beaters Tate and Hewitt coming in for the save though — yes, get the reptile — just a tiny concussion would do the trick —"
Finstock seizes the collar of Stiles’s robes, leaning close enough so that he can smell the professor’s breath and the garlic fries that the man must have had for lunch. “If you cannot be impartial, Stilinski —”
Laughter ripples out from the crowd behind them; the Slytherin side of the stands remains silent and unimpressed.
“I can be impartial. I can be very impartial.” Stiles babbles, voice still being amplified by the megaphone, “Just watch me. I love Slytherin. I can be impartial.”
“You better be.”
“Argent’s on the move — I can see you glaring at me, Whittemore, you can’t get me from all the way over there — goes in for an attack with Mahealani.”
"And there goes Hale with the Quaffle — you know, he looks pretty good in uniform, the green really brings out his eyes — and oof, it's stolen by Mahealani. Good job, Danny-boy! Mahealani passes to Argent, who manages to dodge Little Hale’s Bludger — dodges Reyes — SCORES!” Stiles pumps his fist and hollers, “Take that, you slimy, scheming little s—”
He dodges Finstock’s lunge and holds the megaphone out of reach.
“Sorry Professor, got caught up in the moment.” He gives the man a little salute. “Won’t do it again.”
“Slytherin Keeper Boyd throws the Quaffle back into play — Hale recovers from his loss and snatches it up pretty quickly — wow, look at him go — say what you will about the guy, but he sure knows how to use that broomstick between his legs — oh, he fumbles with the ball a bit but manages to pass it to Whittemore.”
Finstock shoots Stiles a suspicious look, to which he just shrugs.
“Whittemore manages to dodge Tate’s Bludger — a shame — passes Argent — and scores.”
Cheers erupt from the green and silver side of the stands.
“Shake it off, Yukimura, you got this. She throws it back in.”
“None of the current Gryffindor players are thinking about playing professionally,” remarks Stiles, leaning over the booth, “and none of the snakes apart from Hale are going for it. Nice, Mahealani gets past Boyd and scores!”
Loud, triumphant chanting and singing from Stiles’s House drowns out the Slytherins’ boos.
“Anyways, this is Hale’s last year and it’s common knowledge that he wants to join the professional team Midnight Wolves. Very attractive players, Hale would definitely fit in.”
“I don’t see how this is at all relevant, Stilinski.”
Ignoring Finstock, Stiles reveals, “I don’t read many Quidditch magazines anymore — Mahealani in possession of the Quaffle now — but they’re actually how I realized I was gay, sorry ladies — Merlin, Hale steals the ball once again —"
“Stilinski,” Finstock pinches the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “Nobody cares about your personal life.”
“— but my point is that I could be persuaded to pick an issue up again if Hale goes pro because those magazine photoshoots are pretty dope and holy god, just look at him — dude looks great in Quidditch gear — oops, he nearly drops the Quaffle again, wonder what’s going on with him today —”
“Stilinski, what are you doing?”
“I’m being impartial, bossman, very impartial,” explains Stiles eagerly, “Argent’s giving chase — she’s a vision in red and gold — nearly hit by Little Hale but Hewitt’s got her back —"
“— Yukimura getting ready to block —"
There’s a palpable tension in the stands behind him and Stiles holds his breath as the play unfolds before him. “Hale goes for it — oh no, an underhand toss — gets it past Yukimura and scores!”
Disappointment chokes the Gryffindor students like a thick vice, but Stiles swallows and presses on. He has a job to do.
"I’ll admit, that was incredible, an absolutely incredible goal from Hale — incredible jawline too —”
“Forty-twenty, Slytherin in the lead. Hale’s shoulders must hurt from how hard he’s carrying the Slytherins — no wonder they’re so broad and firm-looking —”
“For the love of…!” Finstock lunges again to grab for the megaphone, but Stiles evades him, dancing out of the professor’s way with ease.
Someone boos Finstock from behind them and Stiles twists in time to see a seventh-year Gryffindor call out, “Let him talk!”
“Thanks Ethan, you’re the man.” Stiles gives the other boy a thumbs-up and points at him. “He knows what’s up.”
“Quaffle is in Dunbar’s possession now and ouch, Hale just got elbowed in the side. Not to worry though, he can take the hit — I’ve seen Hale shirtless once — he was jogging out by the Lake and Merlin, the abs on him — he’s the reason I tripped and fell into the water actually — ouch, he nearly crashes into his own teammate — seems kind of distracted this match, don’t you think — not on his best game — Scotty, watch out!”
Stiles winces. “Lahey nearly decapitates McCall with that Bludger but my buddy swerves on time — you really don’t want to be in that snake’s line of fire — his aim and swing are lethal — and wow, McCall’s still on the Snitch’s tail, yeah dude!”
“Hale’s still following Dunbar, trying for a steal — you know, I don’t work out too much, so if any seventh-year Slytherin Chasers are interested — I’m an easy target, very single — just dropping hints —"
By now, it seems like Finstock had given up on trying to stop Stiles at all. There’s raucous laughter and whistling from all the Houses—even from some of the Slytherins at this point—and Stiles is pretty sure that he’s in it for an entire week of detention when the game’s over, but that’s nothing new.
A cackle comes from above when Cora Hale goes soaring by the megaphone booth.
“I think Little Hale just winked at me. Sorry man, you’re not the Hale I’m interested in — think she just, yep, she just flipped me off —"
“McCall goes in for an awesome spiral dive, what a thing of beauty. No! He’s knocked off course by Little Hale and Talbot goes in for it like the nasty vulture th — sorry Professor — like the charming little boy that he is. Shi—shoot, he’s closing in and —”
Disheartened groans arise from the Gryffindors as the Slytherins start to go wild, cheering and waving their scarves and flags every which way. Stiles sighs and moans, falling forward and clutching the magical megaphone like it’s the only thing anchoring him.
“— Talbot raises his fist — he’s got the Snitch, hope he chokes on i—”
“Yeah, yeah. Slytherin wins, whatever. Their entire team has Firebolt Supremes, courtesy of the House of Hale, so what did we really expect,” complains Stiles, bumping his fist against the wall of the booth, “I’m sure Gryffindor will make a comeback. Scotty's Captain, after all. Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw next week,” he’s already halfway out of the megaphone stand before he grumbles, “Thanks for tuning in, Stilinski out.”
With the match over, the Gryffindor team begins their flight down to their locker rooms and the other Houses also starts making their way back to the dormitories, though the Slytherins hold back to celebrate their first win of the season. Stiles can see a few students smirk as they pass by him, nodding in acknowledgement and winking at him.
Finstock greets him with an enormously unimpressed look, arms folded and feet placed shoulder-width apart in an aggressive stance.
“Hey now,” Stiles jumps in to defend himself before the Head of House can say anything, “I was being very unbiased. I totally gave the Slytherins compliments.”
“You gave one Slytherin compliments. And completely inappropriately. Detention for a week, Stilinski. Meet me in my office after class on Monday.”
To be fair, Stiles had kind of expected it, but he still sighs and slumps, resigned to his fate. Punishments from Finstock are like a broken record at this point. “Aw…okay.”
Finstock eyes him nastily one more time before turning to join the remaining Gryffindors in their trek back to the castle.
“Stiles.” Stiles looks up to see Lydia approaching him with a judgmental glint in her eyes, blue and bronze scarf fluttering behind her, and she comes to a halt before him. The wind flutters through her hair and she's silent for a few moments before she speaks.
“So. Instead of a ten-year plan, this was your next best idea, hm?”
Pausing, Stiles gapes at her, not at all having expected that he would get called out so early on. After all, Scott is the only one he had revealed his ingenious plan to. But then again, this is Lydia he’s talking to. He settles for a helpless shrug and a grin.
She tucks a long strand of hair behind her ear and warns with exasperation, “It’s not a good idea to piss off one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. The Hales are pureblood royalty. You need to be careful.”
“I know, but—”
He's just about to explain to Lydia that he's just so ridiculously desperate, but someone interrupts him before he can.
“HEY, STILINSKI!” (“Cora, what are you doing, come back!”)
Startled, Stiles jumps because he knows that voice, but manfully manages to refrain from squeaking in terror. Lydia just raises a perfectly shaped eyebrow, as though saying I told you so.
He turns to see Cora hovering on her broom ten feet away from the megaphone booth. Stiles scans around her for her brother, instincts on high alert, but the older Slytherin is nowhere near her. He’s in the middle of the pitch with the rest of his celebrating teammates, and Stiles freezes when he realizes that Derek Hale is looking over at the two of them. He’s too far away to read the Slytherin Captain’s expression, but a chill slithers up his spine from the intensity of Hale’s stare.
“Be at the dungeons by nine.” Cora points at him, giving him a hard look, “And come alone.”
Immediately, unpleasant thoughts of torture and evisceration at wandpoint come to mind, and Stiles’s life flashes before his eyes. He has...lots of regrets. Most pertaining to everything leading up to this point.
Narrowing his eyes, his nostrils flare with suspicion. He drags out slowly, “...Why?”
A smirk dances across her face. “I’m inviting you to our victory party.”
“Like I said…why?”
Merlin, he’s so going to die tonight, isn't he?
“You just might be a winner tonight, Stilinski.”
“What?" Confusion laces Stiles’s voice and he blinks, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. "What does that mean?"
But Cora’s already flying away, screeching with laughter and looking very pleased with herself, one hand raised to wave back at him. Stiles tracks her across the pitch with an alarmed look. When she reaches the middle, she slaps her brother on the back, interrupting the festive mood and spurring the team into action. Along with the others, Hale kicks his broom into action and follows her down towards the Slytherin locker room, green robes rippling out behind him.
Stiles whirls around to ask Lydia for her input, because hello, Ravenclaw. She looks far from concerned though, instead appearing more amused, if anything. A small smile toys around on her lips.
“Oh, Stiles.” She tosses her curls over her shoulder and wraps her cloak tighter around her slim frame. “I don’t think you have to worry about a thing.”
“Why not? Wait, Lydia — come back — where are you going — am I going to die?”
“You’re still blushing.”
“Your ears are pink.”