Author: John Sexton
Genre: Harry Potter Slash
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Chapter Twenty-Seven -- Sphincters, Rings, Oracles and Orifices
Salazar Snape was talking with several Gryffindors, at their table in the Great Hall, after an enjoyable meal.
Most of the rest of the school were out on the grounds or they had migrated back to their respective houses by now. Less than forty students were spread around the chamber in half a dozen groups, across the four house tables.
"Sorry," Sals said to his group, but he looked at Hermione and Ginny as he did so. "I've got to go see my dad!"
He did not tell any of them that Severus had called him telepathically, but he could sense that the girls knew.
Sals stepped through the great doors to the hall, just as Colin Creevey came running into the room. They almost collided.
Creevey was still loyal to Ronald Weasley. He merely sneered at Sals, then he made a bee-line for Hermione and Ginny.
"Granger, Weasley, Professor McGonagall wants to see you in her office right away."
Both girls rolled their eyes irritably, as they turned to each other.
"Dad?" Sals thought, as he began running along the main hall and down to the dungeons.
"We'll talk about it when you arrive, Son." Severus calmed the boy down, "just don't break your neck getting here!"
Sals maintained his pace, and was just starting to lose his breath when he burst through the door.
"What is it, Dad? I know it's serious, don't try to break it gently! Give it to me!"
"Ronald Weasley is dead!"
Sals's reaction had been all the information his father needed to know.
Severus was quite obviously relieved, it was written all over his face.
The handsome youth bathed in his father's relief.
"My reaction to that news told you everything you needed to know!... Didn't it, Dad?"
"Yes, My Beautiful Boy," Severus smiled and gripped the nape of his son's strong neck affectionately.
"And here's why, Sals... I was so scared you were going to tell me that Weasley attacked you again and that was the result.
"I am relieved of that, but Weasley was killed with one of my own spells, one that is written in your Potions text."
"`Sectumsempra, for enemies,'" Sals responded.
"You knew it, then?"
"Not until yesterday, Dad. Not until... ... ... Dad, did you ever cast any spells or charms onto that Potions book?"
Severus looked quizzically at Sals.
"Yes... several, actually."
"Was one of them designed to reveal which page has been accessed by someone else."
"Yes, but not the identity of the thief."
"That's not a problem. I know who the culprit is. If you cast `Prior Incantato,' on Theodore Nott's wand, I believe you will find your murderer, Dad."
Neither Salazar Snape nor his father needed to use Legilimency on Theodore Nott, when the wayward Slytherin stood before them.
Nott had been summoned to Snape's office; his demeanour changed, the very instant that he saw the handsome Gryffindor in his father's presence.
Guilt was writ large across the skinny blonde's countenance, despite his desperate but inadequate attempts to occlude both father and son.
Despite the fact that neither Snape had attempted to use Legilimency on Nott, his guilt was palpable. He was a poor Occlumens and an even poorer actor.
"Your wand, if you please, Nott!" Severus demanded, as he held out his hand.
Nott's fingers shook violently as he proffered his wand, handle-wise, to his house master. The youth's already pasty complexion paled even more.
Neither father nor son knew what Nott was hiding, but both had already sensed that it was linked to Weasley's murder, and was more than likely the "Sectumsempra" Curse.
The shock, of being asked for his wand, exacerbated the weedy Slytherin's panic and terror, which screamed at the two powerful Legilimens.
Sals could tell that Nott had not stopped to consider that they would have any reason to check his wand.
The fool had smugly convinced himself that he could not be linked in any way to the redhead's murder.
"Prior Incantato," Sals intoned, as he waved his hand above Nott's wand, from handle to tip.
His father pointed the wand towards the wall.
They were surprised that no evidence of `Sectumsempra' having been cast from Nott's wand had emerged.
But what was revealed, as clear as day, was the `Imperius Curse.'
"Well, well, Nott... an Unforgivable," Sals taunted him. "I had expected the curse that you lifted from my text, yesterday. But you didn't have the guts to do it yourself, did you, Nott?
"Was your hatred of me, and your obvious hatred for Ronald Weasley, really as deep as that? You are a sad bastard!"
Sals turned his back on Nott, he could not stand to look at him.
"Well, Nott," Severus took over from his son. "You have a choice: you can tell us who you put under Imperius or be subjected to Veritaserum!"
Nott sneered belligerently...
"You wouldn't dare!" he challenged his housemaster; but there was no conviction in his defiant stance.
Salazar Snape watched on, as his father held the vial of Veritaserum before Nott, in Dumbledore's office.
With the arrival of the Aurors, Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody [retired] and Jack Chesney, Dumbledore now repeated his threat to administer the potion, if Nott refused to identify who he had placed under the Imperius Curse.
The arrogant teen doubled down on his refusal to speak.
Mad Eye immediately pushed the youth down onto a chair and proceeded to force the Veritaserum into his mouth.
"Ennervate!" Dumbledore said, with his wand pointed directly at Nott's heaving chest.
"Who did you place under Imperius with your wand?" the old man began his interrogation.
"Brown... Lav-Lavender Brown..." Nott gasped.
He seemed to be choking... until he finally caught his breath...
"The stupid bitch from Weasley's year in Gryffindor."
"I wanted her to attack Weasley, with one of the curses in Snape's Potions text. She deserved it, she was trying to turn Weasley against me. She knew I had the hots for Weasley, she was jealous. He had already rejected me, but she was egging him on to out me."
"So why not attack her, and why use one of Salazar Snape's curses?"
"It was the perfect opportunity," Nott wheezed, "Snape was my main target, but I hated them all. I figured if I got Brown to cast the curse at Weasley, under Imperius, then nobody would be able to trace it back to me, and I could make sure that Snape got the blame.
"I didn't know it would kill Weasley, I just wanted to hurt them all."
As Moody and Jack Chesney led Nott out of Dumbledore's office, Sals excused himself and chased after them.
"Auror Chesney!" Sals called as they descended the spiral staircase.
Sals jumped on the top step and caught up to them.
"Excuse me, Sir, could you spare me a minute of your time?"
"I'm sorry, Snape, but I can't allow you to talk to the prisoner, until he "
"No! Sorry, Sir, I know that, it's you I wish to speak to."
Moody turned around.
"Go on Chesney, I'll wait for you at the main entrance. Don't be long, Snape!"
"I can't give you any details," Sals whispered, "but I just wanted to tell you that Harry Potter is alive!"
Chesney eyed him cautiously.
"He asked me, if I ever saw you, to pass on a message."
"He said if you still have the Pensieve memory, he begs you to hang on to it."
"You can tell him, Salazar, that I am guarding it with my life."
"He also said thanks for being a decent human being."
"Thank you, Salazar; it has been a pleasure to meet you."
Jack shook Sals's hand, then he moved off swiftly to catch up with Moody.
As Sals turned back towards the Slytherin common room, his faced morphed into a confident grin.
"Well... that was easier than expected!"
Sals looked up at his father, from across the top of his glass of Ogden's Old Firewhisky, as they sat quietly in Severus's study. It had been a hectic few hours since Nott had been hauled off by Moody and Chesney.
The Snapes were in a sombre mood and Severus had indulged his son in the beverage, which was technically illegal for a sixteen-year-old. But these were strange times and, under the circumstances, the newly-appointed DADA professor had decided to break with protocol.
"You know," Sals broke their mawkish silence suddenly, "Sybill Trelawney is putting it about that you are a seer, Dad."
"Do tell, Sals," his father replied soberly, "though I have to say, anything that old bat utters rarely surprises or interests me."
Sals snorted derisively, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Severus.
"Don't go there! That was an exception that I have come to regret."
"Anyway," Sals skipped to the issue at hand, "she claims that your prediction that our inter-house pairings in your DADA class would only be broken if we `killed one another in the process' was a prediction of the Nott-Weasley fiasco!"
"Stupid woman... anyway, you had better finish off that Old Ogden's and head off to your dorm before curfew. We don't want your housemistress calling for your blood, yet again."
Hermione awoke with a start. She waved her wand frantically, and the time wafted above her in a lazy mist; it was nearly three in the morning.
She was still breathing heavily and her pulse was racing. This was the second time she had experienced such a dreadful nightmare.
With Ron being dead less than twelve hours, she had more-or-less expected to be traumatised by images of his murder. But what had shattered her slumber, as fitful as it had been, was something altogether unexpected, given the circumstances.
Images of Draco being beaten mercilessly by Sals were still so stark that she was still trembling, though now quite wide awake. The blonde's screams for mercy were blood-curdling, but Sals had been ruthless and unmoved by Draco's suffering.
The tall, dark, young warlock even resorted to wandless inflictions of the Cruciatus upon Malfoy's battered and bleeding, naked torso.
From where these disgusting and disturbing images had arisen was beyond Hermione's wildest imagination. Was it the trauma of Ronald's murder that had precipitated this nightmare? Possibly... except that she had already experienced a similar dream, just over a week ago, after their first day of school.
That dream had been not nearly as graphic or violent, and she had written it off as a reaction to Draco's obvious pique at Seamus's blatant infatuation with Sals, up in the library.
It was all very confusing and unsettling, and it was nearly dawn before she finally drifted off to a less than peaceful sleep, only to be shattered barely an hour later by her alarm.
The Memorial Service for Ronald Weasley was held in the Great Hall on Friday morning.
Hermione was grieving in her own way, but her major concern was whether Ginny was going to be allowed to return to Hogwarts.
Ginny had been taken back to The Burrow, to be with her family, on Tuesday night, and had only just returned for the service.
After the Department of Mysteries fiasco, Molly Weasley had been adamant that Ginny was not going back to Hogwarts, at the start of this school year. Now, with Ron's murder, Hermione wondered if Arthur Weasley would even try to bring Molly Weasley around, this time.
Hermione dared not confront Mrs Weasley on the issue, even after Ginny had told her that she was still trying to convince her mother to let her return.
Ginny was bitterly disappointed that she was going home with her parents after the service. She was especially disappointed in missing out on the Quidditch Try-outs, tomorrow afternoon.
Due to the unrelenting stream of lies and rumours that had been generated in the media over the murder, especially from Rita Skeeter, no media coverage of the service was permitted. They were merely provided with the order of service and no comments or interviews would be given, neither before nor after the memorial.
Dumbledore had done an excellent job of keeping the Ministry from interfering as well. Despite Delores Umbridge's insistence that a full Departmental Enquiry needed to be held into the matter, Rufus Scrimgeour had shut her down.
Theodore Nott had appeared before the Wizengamot on Tuesday night. He confessed to using an Unforgivable in order to attack Weasley. He was in Azkaban prison by midnight.
Scrimgeour attended the service, but Umbridge was conspicuous by her absence. Arthur Weasley had told Hermione that Umbridge only wanted to attend so that she could gloat. Last year's atrocities aside, the woman was a vile creature.
Earlier that morning, the Quibbler had posted the official story, which had been sanctioned by the Weasley family, Hogwarts School and The Ministry. It basically said that Theodore Nott had cast an Unforgivable which resulted in Ronald Weasley's death. He was already in Azkaban Prison.
The Daily Prophet was forced to publish the same story as a press statement.
When pressed for details Dumbledore refused, saying, instead:
"The Nott and Weasley families need space and time to grieve. It is not up to the school to speculate or ruminate over what is essentially a private matter for those families.
"Despite what some gossip columnists might insist, the Wizarding Public does not need to know any details other than what they have been told.
"What happened between the boys, to trigger this tragedy, is of no public interest and The Public has no `right to know!'
"The public is not served by revelation of that which is private, in any way other than feeding the cesspools of gossip columns.
"The only detail I wish to reveal is the one salient issue surrounding this terrible tragedy that does need to be made public; and it is this:
"At its core this crime was fuelled by house rivalry. Bitter, childish bigotry... and... unless we abhor, repudiate and punish such insanity, this is what will happen to us all, if this madness is allowed to poison our minds, any more than it already has."
The service itself was fairly simple, really, and it was shorter than Hermione had expected. Dumbledore and McGonagall spoke, as did Arthur and Bill Weasley.
After Bill sat back down, Dumbledore took to the lectern, once more.
"Salazar Snape," the old man called out clearly, "I do believe that you would like to speak."
Hermione squeezed Sals's hand, as he rose and made his way to the lectern swiftly, but gracefully.
The stunningly handsome youth gathered himself before he spoke...
"I was unfortunate enough to never have the pleasure of getting to know Ron personally. We were both the victims of house rivalry. Preconceptions and expectations prevented us from the very start.
"Even worse I will never get that chance to know Ron now, because he was an even greater victim of house rivalry, than any of us.
"We lost two students this week, and we should not forget that. Theodore Nott was just as much a victim of house rivalry. What he did was indeed Unforgivable, that is why he is in Azkaban.
"It is a bitter irony that Quidditch Try-outs start tomorrow. The one time and place that house rivalry can be positive and enjoyable, and neither boy will be there.
"It is patent, from what we have seen and heard here today, that Ronald Weasley was loved by many people. We all owe it to his memory to dedicate ourselves to ending the bitter house rivalry that threatens us all."
The Great Hall was utterly silent as Sals made his way back to his seat among the Gryffindors. His observations had clearly provided the assembly with food for some profound soul-searching.
Later that evening, Sals arrived at Dumbledore's office, at precisely seven. The old man had requested his attendance during dinner in the Great Hall, only minutes earlier.
The handsome youth had been fantasising about the ancient warlock's massive cock all week long.
From the tone of the headmaster's summons, it was evident that this was to be a serious meeting, to discuss their strategy against Voldemort. However, there was an underlying frisson of sexual tension in the old man's directive that hinted at their sexual liaison from the previous Saturday afternoon.
Dumbledore bore a serious mien, when the youth entered the chamber; but the previous headmasters were all sleeping in their portraits, just as they were when the old man had fucked Sals senseless last week.
Sals was confused but hopeful, and greeted Dumbledore with his most seductive smile.
"To business first, young Salazar!" the wily old wizard pre-empted his young charge with a wicked grin, as he stood and leaned over the Pensieve that had already been removed from its cabinet and placed on his desk.
"This," Dumbledore held up a vial, from his Tom Riddle collection, in his left hand, "will help explain this," he held up his blackened right hand, which bore a gold ring, with a black stone in the shape of a pyramid.
He poured the contents of the vial into the Pensieve, then leaned over his desk and beckoned Sals to lean in towards him from the opposite side.
"After you, my boy," the old man gestured towards him, and they both plunged into the silvery swirl of a distant memory.
When they emerged from the Pensieve, some considerable time later, the sun had all but set, and the chamber was considerably darker.
"That's the same ring, then Sir?" the handsome youth asked rhetorically.
The old man smiled grimly.
"Indeed it is, Salazar. Marvolo cherished it above all of his meagre possessions, and wore it with pride."
"MARVOLO!" Sals responded with great urgency. A broad grin creased his beautiful visage. "They were speaking Parseltongue, at least part of the time, weren't they?"
Dumbledore smiled broadly at the lad, clearly impressed by the youth's astute mind.
"That's why Ogden couldn't understand what they were saying to each other! ... ... ... So... they were related to Voldemort!"
The boy could barely contain himself.
"Well done, Sals! Well done indeed!"
"Father told me about the ring, that you had only recently acquired it, and that it was cursed."
"Indeed, it was," the old man confirmed the youth's assumptions.
"In fact, if not for your father's considerable abilities, it would have killed me. Sadly, it is killing me, even as we speak. As powerful as Severus is, he has merely been able to forestall its effects. His best estimate is that I will be lucky to see out the year!"
The Adonis looked genuinely shocked; this much had obviously not been revealed by his father.
"But how? Who cursed the ring, Sir?" the boy asked. But before the old man could respond, the youth answered his own query.
Dumbledore was clearly impressed with the youth's acute mind.
"Your powers of observation and your acute insight impress me well beyond my expectations, Salazar. I do believe that Harry was correct, you are the `Chosen One!'"
The youth flushed, and it appeared genuine.
"But how was it cursed, and "
"That is precisely what we need to determine, my boy!" the old man pulled him up short. "Suffice to say that I have it on good authority that Tom Riddle stole the ring from his grandfather. In fact he took to wearing it here at Hogwarts while he was in his final year."
"Marvolo was his grandfather!"
"Indeed... and the young man you witnessed on horseback was Tom Riddle senior!"
Salazar's eyes lit up with sudden clarity.
"And Marvolo's daughter was his mother... she must have put him under some sort of spell, surely!"
The old man's praise shone through his expression, encouraging the youth's further speculation.
"The gold locket! He said it belonged to my namesake! Was it really Salazar Slytherin's?"
Dumbledore laughed aloud.
"Woah there lad! We are getting ahead of ourselves, your mind is almost too quick for me. I have some theories on these matters, but they are only theories, and I do not wish to muddy the waters with them, just yet. The key to all of these explanations, lies in another memory "
"Slughorn! Sorry, Sir, Professor Slughorn."
Dumbledore merely smiled.
"So... ultimately, it comes down to me!"
The old man smiled again.
"Then that is our first and most urgent priority, Sir?" the stunning youth once again posed rhetorically for the old man.
"Then I will make it so, Professor!"
"Good," the wizened wizard turned back to the Tom Riddle memory cabinet, having retrieved the memory from the Pensieve to the vial in his good hand, and returned it to its place on the shelf.
The headmaster turned back towards the outlandishly fit lad, with two new vials in his hands.
"To that end, Salazar, I think you will find these two memories particularly instructive. But even more so, I believe you will find them... shall we say... stimulating!"
Dumbledore smiled at the boy once again, but this time it took on a salacious air, and the youth quickly caught the ancient paedophile's drift. He stepped towards the old man and reached toward his robes, as the weary warlock stood, arms astride, gripping the memories in each hand, with grim tenacity.
"How so, Albus?" Sals asked cheekily, as he reached into the old man's robes and squeezed the throbbing monster firmly.
The old man sighed, as he twisted his arms over the Pensieve and proceeded to pour the contents of the two vials into the stone receptacle.
"I thought this time you could view the memories on your own, while I enhance the experience from here," he elucidated.
Dumbledore placed the empty vials beside the Pensieve and swung the boy around until he was leaning over the desk, with the old man standing directly behind him.
Once again the two memories swirled into an iridescent pink glow that reflected off both their faces.
Dumbledore pushed on Adonis's shoulders.
"Enjoy," he whispered as the youth's head plunged into the swirling mist.
Salazar Snape found himself standing next to the much younger Dumbledore, who suddenly turned about-face, to re-open the door of young Tom Riddle's bedroom in the orphanage.
The sexually aroused youth was elated to discover the eleven-year-old boy rubbing his enormous appendage through the threadbare material of his grey shorts. The boy appeared even more stunning than Sals had remembered from the previous week, and the erotic tableau forged the older teen's already erect cock to a granite-like hardness that he had never experienced before.
When the Muggle Dumbledore reached across and gently caressed the beautiful boy's smooth thigh, Sals desperately wished he could reach out and do the same.
It was at that moment that Sals felt the older Dumbledore slide his hands from the youth's hips down to his own thighs and caress them through the thin material of his own trousers.
When the image of the younger Dumbledore then proceeded to tease Tom Riddle's soft, smooth skin, under the hem of the boy's shorts, Sals was aware that, back in the headmaster's office, the older man had already dropped Sals's trousers to his ankles and was sensuously running his bony fingers over the tender flesh of the teen's own smooth thighs.
When the young Tom Riddle offered his tender arse to Muggle Dumbledore, Sals nearly shot his own bolt, as the older wizard bent Sals further into the Pensieve and penetrated his teen arse with his ancient, well-slicked weapon.
Sals was on a different plane; his hormones tore his psyche asunder, as he gazed on the pliant, pubescent arse of the beautiful dark wizard. He shot his own ejaculate against Dumbledore's desk, in a torrent, while he fantasised about fucking the eleven-year-old himself.
The ecstatic youth hadn't cum so quickly since he was twelve, and he swooned as his contracting sphincter pushed the old man over the edge as well.
The scene dissolved, but rather than releasing Sals's over-stimulated and ultra-sensitive cock, as the youth had expected, the ancient warlock continued to fuck the youth's cum-filled arse steadily.
Dumbledore slowly built up speed and resumed his manipulation of Sals's painfully sensitive knob, as the second memory emerged from the gloomy haze.
The stunningly erotic child appeared once more, much to Sals's delight, in his still pubescent form.
He was in the rooms of an obviously much younger Slughorn, and was under the man's desk in short order, as another older student entered upon the professor's command.
Sals spent the next quarter-hour in the throes of a tantalising and erotic fuck-masturbation in the hands of the old man, while he salivated over the sexy and sometimes hilarious escapade that unfolded before him.
When the sexually exhausted youth was finally pulled up out of the exotic fantasy, he was thoroughly exhausted, albeit totally sated.
"OH, SHIT, Albus!" the youth cried, as he collapsed onto the desk, beside the Pensieve. "That was totally, abso-fucking-lutely riotous!"
He dropped to his knees and proceeded to lick and suck the copious secretions from the old man's still-throbbing monster.
Finally, the handsome youth stood before the headmaster and proceeded to share their juices in a passionate kiss.
"Thank you, Sir," the lad mocked the old man in a faux-serious tone, "that was very instructive!"
Sals could hardly believe that it was only his second Saturday at Hogwarts. So much had happened over the past two weeks that it felt like two months had elapsed since the Hogwarts Express.
Quidditch try-outs were on that afternoon and Sals was in a bind. He had to convince Dumbledore, McGonagall and Professor Hooch, the Quidditch coach and referee, that he should be able to play Seeker for Gryffindor.
The captains of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and the Slytherin captain and Hogwarts Head Boy, Adrian Pucey, had all lodged objections with Madam Hooch. Their argument was that Sals's magical abilities gave him an unfair advantage, especially as it was wandless and, therefore, both undetectable and untraceable.
They were all scheduled to meet in the Great Hall immediately after lunch.
With the breeding of the Dementors in full swing, it was as cold and gloomy as any winters day. Breakfast was an energetic affair, and lunch was even more frenetic, as the selection trials drew closer.
Sals was edgy all through lunch, he wanted to get the meeting over and done with, then get on with the trials.
At one o'clock, precisely, everyone moved out of the Great Hall, until only twenty-three individuals remained. Sals felt as if he was on trial, but he determinedly maintained his composure.
The four houses were represented by their Seekers, himself included as the only candidate for Gryffindor. Also in attendance were each of the Quidditch captains, Heads and Head students, both boys and girls. Also among the students were the school's head boy and girl. Adrian Pucey was both Slytherin's captain and Hogwarts Head Boy.
They all sat at the head of each of their house tables and faced their housemasters and housemistresses, with Madam Hooch and Dumbledore.
The old man peered over his glasses, imperiously.
"Salazar Snape," he smiled at the tall, dark-eyed youth, "we all know why we are here. So, since you requested this gathering, I would like you to remind us, then tell us what you propose."
"Thank you, Headmaster," the stunning sixteen-year-old bowed his head respectfully.
"I understand why most, if not all, of you are not happy with the prospect of me playing Seeker.
"My proposal is simple and workable. It requires only three rule changes, all specifically to restrict me.
"First, I cannot attempt to catch the Snitch if, when it is located by either of us, it is closer to me rather than my opponent; essentially I would be offside!
"Second, I can only win the Snitch from behind my opponent, and only after they have initiated the chase. If it comes directly to me I cannot catch it.
"Third, if the Snitch makes any sudden deviation, or movement, towards my hand, then I cannot catch it."
There was stunned silence, for some seconds, before a protest finally erupted; but it came from the least likely source.
"I'll not have a bar of it! Do ye' hear?" cried Professor McGonagall. "It's preposterous, ye' ego has run away with ye' good sense, Snape! Gryffindor could never win under those ridiculous restrictions!"
"I beg to differ, Ma'am. I am confident of winning the Snitch, even under those restrictions."
The room buzzed with a subdued murmur. It was quite obvious that nobody believed Sals, but not one of them dared to naysay him.
The tall, handsome youth smiled confidently.
"In fact, we can settle the issue right now, if my three opponents are up to the challenge! I propose that we all assemble down on the Quidditch pitch, this very minute. Then we, all four Seekers, take to the air, applying those three restrictions to me.
"I challenge all of you," Sals addressed the other three Seekers, "to win the Snitch before I do. I propose best of ten Snitches, or as many as you see fit. If I fail to win more Snitches than the other three House Seekers' combined efforts, I will withdraw my claim to the Gryffindor Seeker's position."
The tall, handsome youth turned to his housemistress with a winsome smirk that he knew would infuriate her, no end. He was, of course, spot-on with his expectation and the stoic Scott bristled predictably.
Sals could not resist twisting the point into McGonagall's ribs, with even more bravado...
"Will that mollify your objection, Professor?"
"If the other three Seekers are prepared to accept your challenge, Snape, it is hardly for me to naysay them."
"I accept the challenge!" cried Draco Malfoy. His face beamed with a glint of enthusiasm.
"Well that hardly comes as a surprise!" McGonagall snapped a snide aside at Dumbledore, which she clearly ensured was still audible to one an all.
Her distaste for the Slytherin, and her suspicion of his motives, was patent.
With the acceptance of Sals's challenge by all three opposing Seekers, Dumbledore declared the meeting adjourned to the Quidditch pitch.
News of the challenge swept through the school like wildfire, and by the time the four Seekers had assembled before Madam Hooch, on the centre of the pitch, the stands were filled to capacity, as though it was a regular Quidditch match.
Hermione was stunned when Ginny plonked herself by her side in the Gryffindor stand. She was dressed in her Quidditch uniform, and clearly ready to take to the pitch for the Gryffindor try-outs, as soon as Sals's challenge was over.
"YOU'RE HERE!" Hermione squealed. "Oh, Ginevra, that's fantastic!"
"Yeah," the young redhead replied a little more stoically, "it was harder than last month, but Dad finally got through to Mum; but she's still not entirely convinced."
"Well you're here, and that's all that matters!"
They were surrounded by Neville, Dean and Seamus, as they settled down for the spectacle.
Down on the pitch, Madam Hooch addressed the four contenders.
"I expect you all to play fairly, according to the rules laid down specifically for this trial, and in the spirit of the game."
She reiterated the restrictions that applied to Salazar Snape.
"Best of ten, unless we have a tie! May the best Seeker win!" Madam Hooch cried, as she took to the sky and released the Snitch in the process.
Back up in the Gryffindor stand, Hermione, Ginny and the boys looked on anxiously, as the contest got under way.
There was a great deal of movement from the four players, as they each trawled the sky for the elusive Snitch.
Suddenly, high above the southern goal post, the erratic golden ball made its first appearance, near the Hufflepuff stand.
It was Sals who caught sight of it first; but, by his own rules, he could not give chase until, Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw Seeker, who was closest, initiated the chase.
"Wakey-wakey, Chang," Sals teased her, "can't do this on my own you know!"
He jerked his head to alert her to the elusive prize's location. She sneered at him, resentfully, and turned to give chase. Sals took off after her.
The athletic spunk easily overtook the Ravenclaw, and secured the first catch of the day, to the enthusiastic cheers of the packed Gryffindor stand.
"Oh, yeah!" Seamus roared with consummate delight and pride in his hero, "GO SALS! ... this is gunna be a slaughter!" he crowed to the other Gryffindors.
The girls sniggered at the Leprechaun's outlandish enthusiasm, before turning their attention back to the pitch.
Several minutes later, the Snitch reappeared between Draco and Sals. It hovered momentarily before the blonde gave chase, but the winged ball moved directly towards Sals, as it evaded the Slytherin Seeker.
Sals cursed as he had no option but to let it fly straight past his hand, with Draco in hot pursuit. But the Ice Prince of Slytherin had the momentum and, before Sals could turn and give chase, Draco had secured the second Snitch of the contest.
"Stuff an' bother!" Seamus wailed, "that'd be cheatin', ye stupid blonde twat!" His disappointment tainted even further by his jealousy.
Within minutes each of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw Seekers had managed to get the jump on Sals. In both instances the elusive prize had made a sudden change of direction, straight at Sals, forcing him to abandon any attempt to catch the Snitch and handing victory to his opponents.
The mood in the Gryffindor stands had become suddenly gloomy, and Seamus's demeanour was decidedly black. However, Ginny was far from depressed.
Hermione looked at her friend suspiciously.
"What do you know, that I don't?" she whispered in her friend's ear.
"Sals is playing with them," the redhead replied in equally hushed tones.
"But it's one a piece!" Hermione replied. "He's got to win five, of the next six, to have any chance of winning, or at least four to even force a draw."
"I know," Ginny squealed, "isn't it exciting!"
Over on the far side of the Quidditch pitch, a glimmer of gold made a sudden appearance. Unfortunately for Sals he was further away than any of the other Seekers, who had all caught sight of it simultaneously.
They all set off after the Snitch at the same time, except for Sals, who seemed to have lost sight of the prize, and headed, instead, towards the goal posts at the end of the field.
"What's he doing?" cried Hermione and Seamus in near unison.
"I told you, he's playing with them," Ginny replied with a wicked smirk.
As the opposition trio took off after the Snitch, at break-neck speed, Sals zeroed in on his target, the goal posts, at the other end of the field.
His opponents were oblivious to his whereabouts, being totally committed to competing with each other for the Snitch, which was leaving them in its wake. But as the golden prize winged its way around the perimeter of the oval pitch, it was moving on an intercept course with the cunning Gryffindor Seeker, while still moving away from all four competitors.
Just as it reached the major goal post, Sals swooped on the elusive ball, to claim his second prize.
The Gryffindors erupted, with Seamus and the girls leading the "GO SALS!" chant. Their euphoria continued over the next quarter-hour, as Sals continued to outwit his opponents, securing another three prizes in quick succession.
"One more and he's won!" Seamus declared enthusiastically.
Once again Cho Chang set off after the Snitch, only to find herself comprehensively outmanoeuvred by Sals from behind!
As the Gryffindors chanted victory, with Sals's 6-1-1-1 unassailable lead, Madam Hooch was just about to declare a halt to proceedings, when the Snitch put in one final appearance across the pitch, just in front of Draco with Sals quite some distance behind him.
They both set off, with Sals bringing up the rear. But the Snitch kept deviating from side to side, making it more difficult for the Slytherin to snare the prize, while simultaneously affording Sals the opportunity to gain on the blonde, yet still chasing both the prize and his opponent.
Just as Draco's finger-tips closed over the elusive golden ball, Sals crashed into his side sending them both tumbling to the grassy pitch, which was mere metres below them.
When both of them staggered to their feet, they held up the shiny prize by each of its fluffy, white wings.
But the stands were stunned into silence, when Sals leaned in towards the blonde and planted a quite passionate kiss on Draco's lips, as they each held the vaunted prize aloft.
Draco surprised everyone, by reciprocating enthusiastically, while Madam Hooch struggled to maintain her composure, while declaring a 6-1-3 victory to the handsome Gryffindor Seeker.
Back in the stands, the response was mixed, to say the least. There was some booing and consternation, much gasping and `oow-ing' and `ah-ing' and even some cheering and sighing. But it was harder to tell, who was blackest out of Seamus Finnigan and Professor Minerva McGonagall.
Finally, after several month's hiatus, I'm back on track. Sorry for the delay, but life does have a habit of getting in the way! Chapter ten of "Shattered Ceiling, Falling Sky" coming soon, followed closely by Chapter twenty-eight of Salazar.
If you are enjoying this, you might like my other two Nifty stories...
This is a two-chapter Potterverse short story [complete].
This is on-going and I'm updating it alternately, as I write each chapter of Salazar.
All feedback is appreciated via: firstname.lastname@example.org