Then, Marcus Flint examined the letter in the package once more, glancing at it hastily with a hint of disdain in the corner of his eye.

Suddenly, sounds of Slytherin students playing in the corridor caught Marcus Flint’s attention.

He swiftly stowed away the potion bottle and carelessly folded the letter before returning it to his locker.

Unbeknownst to Marcus, the folded letter peeked out slightly, revealing a name scrawled on it – Wentworth.

Over the weekend, the much-anticipated first Quidditch match of the new school year was about to commence, pitting Hufflepuff against Slytherin.

To prepare for this game, Wentworth and Cedric had convinced Lupin to take a day off.

Lupin jokingly commented that it felt like a stack of Galleons had disappeared from his wallet.

Prior to the match, the Hogwarts Quidditch Stadium was abuzz with Hufflepuff and Slytherin students donning their respective scarves to cheer for their houses.

Although the teams had yet to enter the stadium, the stands were already filled with enthusiastic Badger and Snake supporters, their cheers filling the air.

Meanwhile, the players on both sides were making their final preparations in their respective changing rooms.

Green, sitting upright in the Hufflepuff changing room, assumed the role of an elder and addressed Wentworth, seated beside him.

He advised, “Wentworth, remember, in the first game, the most important thing is not to be nervous.

You have one primary goal – catching the golden snitch. Everything else will fall into place.

Trust your senior players!”

Wentworth glanced at Green, who was speaking with rhetorical flourish, and replied in jest, “Senior Green, can you stop your legs from shaking while telling me not to be nervous? I wasn’t nervous before, but you’ve made me nervous now.”

In response, Green waved dismissively and said nonchalantly, “Wentworth, don’t sweat the small stuff!”

The Hufflepuff goalkeeper chimed in with a sly smile, “Senior Green, this has been a long-standing issue. His legs have been shaking non-stop since before his first Quidditch match. Over the years, it’s become a habit.”

Green turned to the goalkeeper with an amused expression before focusing on Wentworth with a serious demeanor.

This sudden change caused Wentworth to grow uneasy under Green’s intense gaze.

Green began earnestly, “Alright, Wentworth, I was just teasing. But now, let me impart the first golden rule of the Quidditch pitch – always protect yourself!”

“No one wants their team to lose, and Hufflepuff is no exception. However, what sets us apart is that we prioritize safety above all. Do you understand?”

“As you step onto the Quidditch pitch, the roars from the sidelines will make your blood boil. This is when your composure matters most. Remember, you must learn to look out for yourself!”

Taking Green’s sincere advice to heart, Wentworth nodded resolutely.

Just then, the voice of Madam Hooch resounded from the Hufflepuff changing room door, “Boys, it’s time to prepare for the match. Let’s not keep our audience waiting!”

Responding to Madam Hooch’s urging, Green stood up first, extending his right hand.

One by one, all the Hufflepuff players, including Wentworth, placed their hands atop Green’s.

“Hufflepuff!” Their voices resonated throughout the Hufflepuff changing room.

On the other side, in the Slytherin changing room, Mrs. Hooch similarly urged her team.

Soon after, the players picked up their brooms and filed out onto the field.

However, Marcus who typically led the team, lagged behind on this occasion.

“Marcus, what are you doing? Hurry up!” a fellow Slytherin teammate urged from the front.

“I’ll be right there, just tying my shoelaces,” Marcus muttered, bowing his head as if to attend to his shoelaces. Meanwhile, he discreetly retrieved the potion bottle from his bag.

Upon revealing the potion bottle, Marcus’s breathing grew heavier, but without hesitation, he uncorked the bottle and consumed its contents.

Marcus, under the influence of the potion, immediately experienced heightened physical vigor, feeling invigorated.

Once more, the voices of his teammates, urging him from the door, could be heard, “Marcus, we’re ready! We’re going to annihilate Hufflepuff!”

Confidently, Marcus replied, “I’m coming right now. I’ll go out there and crush those Hufflepuffs!”

Following suit, the Quidditch players from Hufflepuff and Slytherin, led by Madam Hooch, formed orderly lines and entered the Quidditch pitch one by one.

As the supporters of both houses saw their favored teams emerge, the cheering from the stands grew even more enthusiastic.

Green remarked to Wentworth behind him, “At least we’ve got one thing in the bag.”

Wentworth inquired, “What’s that?”

“Our cheer squad is definitely louder than theirs!” Green proclaimed with pride.

Before the match, the tradition called for the players from both teams to shake hands.

While there was an underlying air of hostility, each player on both sides shook hands with their counterpart.

However, when Marcus and Wentworth’s hands met, Marcus tightened his grip unconsciously.

Wentworth, unprepared for the unexpected strength, involuntarily gasped but clenched his teeth, not uttering a sound.

However, Green, standing nearby, heard Wentworth’s sharp intake of breath.

Green immediately turned to see their hands tightly clasped and recognized the situation.

Without hesitation, Green pressed his hands against Marcus Flint’s shoulders and asserted, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Others chimed in with queries like, “Hey, what’s going on?” and “What’s your problem?”

In an instant, the Hufflepuff and Slytherin players were shoving each other, and tension escalated.

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Published On: November 19, 2023

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