Pausing in her crooning to the small bundle in her arms, Hermione glanced through the French windows of the second-story room, looking outside at where the latest round of silliness was taking place several hundred yards away in the rear courtyard. Turning away to cynically eye everyone sharing the palace bedroom with herself, the queen dryly noted, “People, you must know we’re only going to keep her with us for a few years, and then she’ll be joining the rest of those idiots out there.”
Soft chuckles caused by that sarcastic remark came from all and sundry, both Muggle or magical, as Hermione now walked over to the canopied bed and leaned forward while carefully holding out her burden to the tired but proud young woman there, who eagerly regained possession of her newborn. Both mothers then looked down into a red, yawning face, as a beaming Hermione gave a quick kiss to the top of her daughter’s head.
As the queen straightened up, she met with amusement the hopeful gazes of a quartet of great-grandparents in the chairs and sofas around the room, all four of them excitedly awaiting their turn to hold the latest generation. Even Arthur and Daniel had stopped discussing Muggle inventions together, while Emma and Molly were giving each other calculating looks, as if silently trying to decide about unifying with each other against their husbands in order to make sure they got their chance first with the absolute little darling presently in her mother’s arms.
Casually shifting his weight in the chair, an action that most certainly did not edge himself a couple of inches closer to his granddaughter’s bed, Daniel cleared his throat, and seeking to distract everyone before he made his restrained move that would put the least possible strain on his bad hip, Hermione’s father then commented to his child, “Honey, I thought I’d heard just about every possible excuse from your husband to start a Quidditch match here, but was he really serious about checking on what he told us?”
Standing by the ornate bed, Hermione sighed in sheer exasperation over the loud giggling of her own child, as this witch lying in the bed joyously cuddled her daughter while laughing about her royal father’s absurd justification to play his favorite sport. Giving the impish young woman a rather cool look that failed to halt her mirthful lese-majesty, Hermione reluctantly admitted to her male parent, “Dad, he did mean it, because believe it or not, that does keep happening to Ron. The only reasonable explanation that anyone’s ever come up for it is that weird result’s the very last residue of the Hogwarts spell.”
Daniel Granger looked astonished, as the rest of the room save for a peeved Hermione then joined in with the new mother’s amusement. “It’s been twenty-five years, and that’s still
“You just wait,” Hermione gloomily predicted. “When they all get back, it’ll be the very first thing the whole crowd will tell us.”
As expected, the whirling mob of witches and wizards flying on their brooms around the private Quidditch pitch had separated into their usual teams. Every person in the game proudly wore their playing robes bearing the team names that years ago had been unkindly bestowed at the same time upon each other by the opposing sides, and these labels were now considered an actual badge of honor by every player.
After all, there was virtually no other reason in the world why anyone would willingly wear something that proclaimed them to be a Daft Old Codger or an Ungrateful Little Bastard.
The DOCs mostly consisted of the older generation from the wizarding world, and their opponents, known as the ULBs, were usually the children of this age group, but it wasn’t really necessary for anyone accepted by either team to meet this exact criterion. Basically, if you were family, you were in, on one side or the other.
This also meant, as was customary in family games worldwide, that the most flagrant cheating possible, in conjunction with the dirtiest tricks imaginable, were considered to be a truly essential part of the hard-fought Quidditch match that was currently taking place upon the royal grounds.
As he swooped through the air, Harry Potter roared with laughter at observing Teddy Lupin on his broom flailing away at the large cloud of purple bubbles that stubbornly clung to every inch of that young man’s body. Nevertheless, seeing Fred and George Weasley giving each other satisfied smirks over their latest prank resulted in the green-eyed man pointing a stern finger at the two men on their brooms and shouting, “Penalty! You prats, fly upside down for the next two minutes, and perform the Hogwarts school song backwards while you’re at it!”
Both of the twins immediately thumbed their noses at the referee, but they then good-naturedly obeyed his order, flipping over and starting to sing together in perfect unison. Absently ducking the Quaffle as it was viciously hit his way by a club-wielding Ginny Weasley, Harry blew this grinning woman a kiss and zoomed off in pursuit of the leather-covered ball, making sure that the game didn’t degenerate into even more chaos than was normal. This man was probably the only person in the entire wizarding world who could have pulled off that impossible feat.
But then, he was Harry Potter. The greatest Seeker of his era, fifteen years a world-class player, bringing home the Quidditch World Cup for England eight times, including a record five times in a row. The only other competitor anywhere coming close to equaling Harry had been the Bulgarian Viktor Krum, and their teams’ matches had turned into the stuff of legend. The only reason why ‘Perfect’ Potter (he once bitterly complained to his sniggering best mate, “Bloody hell, I thought that ‘the Boy-Who-Lived’ was the worse nickname ever, and then I had to be proved wrong!”) retired as an active player was for something more interesting than personally competing in Quidditch.
This was personally managing
a Quidditch team. After years of trying, his godfather Sirius had finally acquired a controlling interest in a minor league team very down on its luck, and that older wizard had then enthusiastically offered the manager’s position to Harry. The challenge of actually improving the fortunes of one of the worse teams in their league had appealed to the famed player. Plus, in the last couple of years, he’d grown somewhat tired of waking up the next morning after a strenuous game and feeling every possible ache and pain tormenting his weary body. Harry had promptly accepted, and during a building year, the man found he also had a definite talent for leadership, which resulted in his new team improving beyond recognition. The year after that, they’d won their league, and the team then moved up into the professionals.
The British wizarding world had basically gone into sheer delirium the next year, when Harry had skillfully directed his players into the ultimate victory, and then the entire magical society of this small European island had consequently developed a sense of absolute smugness over their team’s continuing successes against the rest of the world. Considering that Harry showed no signs of slowing down, it was clear to everybody elatedly partying in Diagon Alley and elsewhere in Great Britain, as rivers of butterbeer flowed in celebration, that they could look to at least several more decades of this.
As for Harry himself, he now only flew in team practice Quidditch matches, showing his awed younger players how it was done, and in family games currently like the one he was now refereeing today. As he zoomed and dove and rose in the Royal Quidditch Pitch, with an expertise far beyond mere skill, the whooping man currently having the time of his life gleefully handed out imaginative penalties to everyone in range performing their most blatant fouls against each other. Performing an adroit reverse Immelmann, Harry followed the Quaffle lower down, where it was caught by Alcmene Longbottom, with this young woman then making a break for the nearest undefended hooped goal post, yelling triumphantly at her team’s imminent victory.
This exultant howl abruptly turned into a shriek of absolute horror, as Sirius and Remus flying in tandem now came down in front of the teenage girl in a last-chance attempt to distract her by these older wizards performing the dreaded, supremely disgusting Double-Marauder-Moon formation, robes up and underwear lowered to flash these mature arses at everyone in the vicinity presently trying to control their stomachs. As for Alcmene herself, this shaken young lady immediately flung the Quaffle in the general direction of the hoop, to then clap the palm of her hand over her eyes in an effort to keep from her mind from becoming even more mentally scarred than it already was by the pair of atrocities being revealed on their brooms in front of this young woman.
Wincing, Harry gladly switched his attention away to where the hurled Quaffle was arcing through the air, at once seeing that it would miss the hoop. In the very next moment, a player from the opposing team dove to snatch this leather-covered ball in an easy recovery that would put the Quaffle in their possession. Everyone else in the Quidditch game -- his own teammates, the other team, and Harry himself -- now froze in mid-air and watched with bated breath, as His Royal Majesty King Ronald the First held up his hand, palm forward, and about to catch without the slightest difficulty the Quaffle lazily flying right at him.
In an infinitesimal flicker of magic that was the last remnant of the life-changing spell cast by Hogwarts Castle twenty-five years earlier, the Quaffle now smoothly curved around the grasping fingers of the monarch, to then plunge directly through the middle of the hoop, as if the Quidditch ball had eyes to see where it was going.
Over the next moments, the man with his red hair that was beginning to show streaks of grey from his worries and responsibilities hovered on his floating broom, now sheepishly hanging his head during the screams of joy from the rival team and the jeering from his own teammates, all due to the fact that he’d just won the game for the other side. On his own broom higher up, Harry Potter was laughing himself sick, as a certain insulting line from a jaunty song so long ago again ran through his mind.
Whether he liked it or not, Ron Weasley would always
let the Quaffle in.