On the eve of the exam, the nervous mood in the castle was pervasive.
Harry and the other Gryffindor players had to fit in their homework around Quidditch practice every day, just as they were forced to divert all their energy away from the Acromantulas and put it to school.
On top of all of that were endless discussions of tactics with Wood.
The Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch final this year would take place on the first Saturday after the Easter holidays.
Slytherin was leading the tournament by exactly two hundred points. This meant that they needed to win the match by more than that amount to win the Cup. It also meant that the burden of winning fell largely on Harry, because capturing the Snitch was worth one hundred and fifty points.
Every day at the table, Evan could hear Wood telling Harry constantly, “So, you must catch it only if we are more than 50 points up. Only when we are more than 50 points up, Harry, or we win the match but lose the Cup. You've got that, haven't you? You must catch the Snitch only if we're fifty points…”
"I KNOW, OLIVER!” Harry yelled. “This is the twenty-third time you've told me this!”
“We must be careful, Slytherin already knows that you have a Firebolt, and they must have made their tactics.” Wood shifted the discussion to tactical arrangements, “We’re going to have to score a lot of points in this game and get the Slytherin team down. You are the key to this game, Harry; we've got to be fifty points up first."
It wasn't just Wood; Gryffindor House as a whole was obsessed with the upcoming match.
It was exciting enough to think about it. Gryffindor hadn't won the Quidditch Cup since the legendary Charlie Weasley left.
All Gryffindors hoped to win this match, and everyone couldn't wait.
This was particularly evident considering the many grudges between Gryffindor and Slytherin, between Harry and Malfoy, and what happened in the match of Gryffindor against Ravenclaw, this had already made Harry determined to beat Malfoy in front of the entire school.
They were training day and night, trying to find the best state of the team.
Slytherin, on the contrary, trained far less frequently than Gryffindor, and now gathered all day gloomily, staring unkindly at Harry and the other players. It seemed that they were intending to use other "tactics" to win the match.
As time went by, the tension between the two teams and their Houses was peaking. Harry was having a particularly bad time because of it.
Wood had already given instructions that Harry should be accompanied wherever he went, in case the Slytherins tried to put him out of action.
Harry was more concerned for his Firebolt's safety than his own. When he wasn't flying it, he locked it securely in his trunk and frequently dashed back up to Gryffindor Tower at break times to check that it was still there.
Like Harry and Hermione, who were very busy, Evan did not have much time.
On top of the pressures of the college curriculum and continuing his magic studies in the library, he was also trying to find a way to sneak into Aragog's Lair.
Evan had not made much progress in that regard.
He couldn't break into it directly, and none of Evan's known magic could help him sneak into Aragog's Lair under the eyes of hundreds of Acromantulas and kill it silently.
He thought it over and over again, and he found it was more feasible to fly directly into it.
Evan had to find his Nimbus 2000 from under the bed. Every afternoon, when he didn’t have class, he went to the field to practice flight.
Now, the young wizards could often see Gryffindor’s Quidditch team practicing high in the air, while Evan alone was riding his broomstick and flying slowly under them.
Everyone was pointing at Evan's behavior, wondering what he was doing.
It's known that he had always been the focus of attention among young wizards, especially at this sensitive moment when the Quidditch Final was about to start, and Evan’s move was too suspicious.
There were rumors that Evan was the secret weapon being prepared by the Gryffindor team. The Slytherins were suspicious, but they did not dare to harass Evan as they did with Harry and other players. Like Snape, they were now indifferent to all of Evan's actions.
With a lot of practice, Evan's fear of heights was somewhat alleviated.
Even if he couldn't fly at Harry's level, he still wasn't at his same old level, when he couldn't sit on a broomstick and fly into midair.
After mastering certain flying skills, Evan became increasingly doubtful of the possibility of using his broomstick to sneak into Aragog's Lair.
Carrying a broom while fighting Acromantulas, just thinking about it, this image was a little funny.
He wasn't going there to sweep the place. He couldn’t just fly in so mindlessly, and then ignore everything, flying back on the same broom. The chances of success were really low.
As time went on, Evan still did not make much progress.
The night before the match, he had to stop flight practice and completely give up on this kind of fantasies. In fact, all usual activities in the Gryffindor Common Room ceased. Even Hermione had put down her books.
"I can't work, I can’t focus.” She said nervously.
There was a great deal of noise. Fred and George Weasley were dealing with the pressure by being louder and more exuberant than ever.
Oliver Wood was crouched over a model of a Quidditch field in the corner, prodding little figures across it with his wand and muttering to himself. Angelina, Alicia, and Katie were laughing at Fred's and George's jokes.
Harry and Ron were sitting together, and they both avoided Hermione and Evan, always muttering something in a low voice, seemingly discussing the next day’s match.
No one cared about the coming exam, nor did they care about the Acromantulas and the Centaurs in the Forbidden Forest, only Evan was still thinking about it from time to time, thinking about himself sneaking into the dangerous, gloomy Acromantula's Lair.
Every time Evan thought about it, he had the horrible sensation that something very large was fighting to get out of his stomach.
"Relax, Evan, don’t think about the Centaurs and the Acromantulas.” Hermione closed the book at hand. She seemed to see through Evan's mind, “You told me before, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and the same is true with you. Regarding the requirements of the Centaurs, we can think of ways together. This is not on you alone.”
"I know, I am just…” said Evan.
"Come on, Harry looks even more nervous than you. We should have comforted him before now.” Hermione walked along with Evan. “This time is really not suitable for studying, there's no way to concentrate.”
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