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Chapter 18 : Games and Girls
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Games and Girls
Three days before the start of term, Benjamin found his father in his study reading through an ancient looking potion’s text.
“There you are,” his father told him, setting the book down when Benjamin came through the open door. “If I didn’t see you at meal times I would think you had disappeared all together.” Benjamin grinned, knowing he had been spending a lot of time on his new broom.
“Dad, can I ride the train to school?”
Severus thought on that a moment. “If you truly wish to leave school, so that you can come back, I will take you to London to catch the train. I would suggest that you leave your things here however.” Benjamin grinned again. He had never ridden the Hogwarts express before, and was looking forward to spending the day with his friends.
Early on the morning of the train’s departure, Severus apparated them to the Muggle train station King’s cross, and lead Benjamin through the barrier between platform nine and three quarters. “Do you have money for food?” his father asked him.
Benjamin checked his pocket and found several sickles and a few knuts. “Yep.” Severus had been giving him three sickles a month if he had been getting good grades and staying out of detention, which added up to rather a lot of money for a twelve year old boy. Secretly he had been saving up for a broom, but now that he had one, he no longer felt the need to stash away half of his money every month.
“Have a good trip then,” Severus told him. Benjamin nodded and waved goodbye to his father as he boarded the train, leaving the busy platform to search for his friends.
In a compartment somewhere in the middle of the train he found Hunter and Darius sitting and talking about a Hufflepuff girl that Benjamin didn’t know. They were surprised to see him there, and he explained about wanting to take the train with them before he launched into telling them all about his new broom. A few minutes later, dragging his trunk in from the hallway Bane laughed when he appeared in the compartment door and saw Benjamin.
“Did you get one?” Benjamin asked his friend eagerly.
Bane grinned even wider and opened up his trunk, which had been magically enlarged inside, revealing a shiny new broom, the same model as Benjamin’s, but with a lighter color and a slightly yellow tint. “My parents special ordered it to be yellow to match Hufflepuff colors.”
All four boys moved to admire the new broom. “Did you get much practice?” Ben asked.
Bane sat back in a worn train seat, and said, “Yeah, but not as much as you did. I reckon we both still need a lot of practice to get up to team standards.” Ben nodded.
For the rest of the trip there was no more talk of girls from Hunter and Darius, and the compartment was instead filled with talk of Quidditch, the upcoming year, and several castle secrets they wished to uncover. All four boys were eager to begin dueling again, and Ben remembered what he had been told about dueling clubs sometimes being established at Hogwarts if there was enough interest.
That night, for the first time, Benjamin stepped off the train at Hogwarts, wearing his school robes and climbing into a Thestral drawn carriage. The Thestrals he noticed, were not the prettiest things to look at. While they reminded him that he could only see them because his mom had died, the creatures didn’t seem to bother him as much as the first time he had seen them.
“Maybe I’ll shave my head this year,” Hunter said thoughtfully, running his hand through his messy hair.
Darius frowned, but didn’t say anything.
The feast that night was magnificent. “You know, my brother starts Hogwarts next year,” Darius said at Ravenclaw table just as Bane came to join them. Hunter remained at Gryffindor table talking with a few forth years from his own house, his eyes constantly drifting off to what Ben thought was the Hufflepuff table, although he wasn’t sure why.
“What house do you think he’ll get into?” Bane asked him.
Darius shrugged. “I don’t know… mum and dad hope he gets into Ravenclaw, but I think he wants to be in Gryffindor or something…” he trailed off seeming uninterested in the topic anymore. Benjamin had never met Darius’ younger brother Alberic but his friend never said anything bad about his younger brother.
The next morning their class schedules were delivered to them at breakfast as was usual for the first day of school.
“Transfiguration, Herbology, and History… that’s all we have together this year,” Bane said, setting his schedule down next to Ben’s as he took a seat at Ravenclaw table. “And look, we don’t have study hall every day this year. Only three days a week…”
“Yeah, we have that with Gryffindor,” Benjamin said. “It says our curfew is 8:45… I can’t wait until fourth year when it actually gets extended to nine…”
“Just wait until fifth year, then we’re equal with all the upper classmen at nine thirty.”
Benjamin nodded. He didn’t mind the curfew, seeing as how they broke it most nights anyway. “I don’t reckon we’ll ever make prefects with the trouble we get into,” he commented. Bane grinned. Neither one of them had considered actually trying for the fifth year position as it was still two years ahead of them.
Darius was quiet through their conversation, and Benjamin finally looked over at him to see him staring off into the distance at a fourth year Hufflepuff he had never met. This must have been the girl Darius and Hunter had been talking about on the train.
“What are you looking at?” Bane asked him. Darius’ head snapped back to them, and his cheeks began to tint red.
“Er… I’ll tell you later.”
“But-” Bane started.
“Later!” Darius hissed. He suddenly became very interested in his scrambled eggs.
Their first week went by quickly, classes taking up their time, Bane and Benjamin taking every free hour they had to slip off to the Quidditch pitch to practice. Benjamin was extremely happy to have a friend to practice with now. They took turns playing Keeper and Chaser, and occasionally they pulled out a Bludger and two bats and took aim at each other.
“I don’t know,” Ben said as he and Bane traipsed back up to the castle in the waning light, already having missed dinner in favor of practicing, “I like being a Chaser a lot better than being a Beater.”
“Me too,” Bane said. “Tryouts are in two weeks… we should spend the day Saturday practicing.”
“Who else do we know with a broom who wants to try out?” Benjamin thought out loud.
Bane shook his head, “Not Hunter or Darius… all they care about is Kendra.” That week they had caught Darius and Hunter both fumbling all over themselves whenever the Hufflepuff girl had walked by.
Benjamin laughed. “Who cares? She’s just a stupid girl! Quidditch is much more important… it seems like Darius and Hunter are annoyed with each other all the time now because of her anyway.”
Bane shrugged and stopped walking. “Ok, we have to make a deal.” Ben frowned, curious, and turned to his friend, broom still in hand.
“Ok, what about?”
“No matter what, we have to promise not to ever let a girl come in between us… you’re my best friend… you’re my brother. We can’t let Quidditch come in between us either. What if we both make a Quidditch team? We’ll be on opposite sides! We have to leave the game in the pitch and leave girls out of it.”
Ben thought that over and nodded. It made good sense to him. “Let’s shake on being friends through thick and thin then huh? Brothers before games and girls?”
Bane laughed and punched Benjamin lightly in the arm. “Come on, last one to the castle gets to be target practice first for the Bludger tomorrow morning!” Bane took off running, and Ben took chase. Surprised by his own speed, Ben easily caught up to his friend, and they laughed all the way to the castle.
From a window high up in the castle, the Headmaster watched the two friends running across the lawn, laughing and playing. They were so young he thought to himself, so happy and carefree. If only every person alive could keep that in their hearts as they went through the years. He had made a decent attempt at doing so himself, but bitter defeats and sometimes-beautiful letdowns worked against every human in the end.
Darius walked carefully down the corridor toward her, feeling as if he would trip with every step he took. She was so pretty standing there talking with her friends. Sure she was a year older than he was, but, it was only a year, right? Over the summer he had seen her on Diagonalley twice with her parents, and something about her had caught his heart up in his chest, and suddenly she was all he could think about. He was more than displeased to find out that Hunter also had eyes for her, but what could he do about that? Hunter was his brother, but she was his heart.
As he approached her, suddenly all the things he had planned on saying had slipped his mind. He paused in step, letting other people pass by him for a moment, and in that second, Hunter was striding past him, looking more confident and at ease than he had ever seen him. Hunter didn’t even look back at Darius as he stopped in front of Kendra.
Kendra and her friends stopped talking and looked at Hunter expectantly.
“Er… hi,” he said more shyly than Darius thought he was going to. From his voice he could tell that the confidence was an act that was failing quickly. His heart seeming to fail him as quickly as his nerves had done, he suddenly hoped his friend would fall face first to the stone corridor floor just so that Kendra would think him clumsy and stupid. Confused at his own thoughts, he stood there with baited breath, watching, waiting for her response to the statement he, Darius, should have been making.
“Hi,” Kendra said shyly, gripping her books and rotating her body ever so slightly back and forth as her eyes kind of shied away from Hunter’s, and then flitted back up to them.
“I’m Hunter by the way,” he said, as if suddenly remembering who he was.
She giggled a little, and said, “I know. You hang around with those younger kids.”
Hunter frowned and looked down quickly. There was a definite conflict here. “They’re only a year younger… they’re like brothers really… er…” Yes! Darius thought to himself. Hunter was faltering!
“Well,” Hunter said shyly again, searching for the right words, “I just wanted to come say hi. You’re so beautiful, you just, drew me in.” Darius’ heart seemed to stop. Suddenly his friend had come up with the words that would probably win her heart.
Kendra flushed furiously, and said, “Thanks.” Her friends giggled, and Hunter took a step back, and walked away, not even noticing that Darius was standing there watching in horror.
Later that evening, Benjamin found Darius in their dorm room throwing things about in a rage.
“Wha- what are you doing?” Benjamin asked when he opened the door and found half of Darius’ things strewn across his own bed and desk.
“I hate him!” came Darius’ angry shout. Benjamin quickly stepped inside the room and closed the door. “He’s a stupid pratt and I’ll never speak to him again so long as I live!”
Benjamin frowned deeply. “Who are you talking about?”
Benjamin swallowed and let his head fall back to rest against the door he had just closed. “What’s this about… I don’t understand.” He had a feeling it had to do with Kendra, but he couldn’t be sure. Suddenly the brothers four were now the brothers two… this presented many problems, because he didn’t want to take sides with one and make the other friend angry.
“He stole her!” Darius roared. “He knew I liked her and he walked right up to her and told her she was beautiful!”
“But- I don’t- how can that make you hate him? He’s our brother… brothers four forevermore.”
Darius dropped the pillow he had been about to throw at the wall in anger. “He was never my brother to begin with… not if he could betray me like this.”
Benjamin sighed heavily. He had no idea how to deal with this. He hated to think that his friends were fighting with each other. He had high hopes for the four of them for the year… he had never expected this.
For the next week, Darius avoided Hunter at all costs. Benjamin had filled Bane in on what had happened. Hunter seemed unaware of his friend’s anger at him, and instead actually seemed rather happy. He walked around with a smile on his face, and twice more managed to speak to Kendra, who now approached him on her own the day before Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tryouts were to start.
Benjamin watched his friend’s curious reactions to the girl’s comments from a distance, and noticed how uneasy he seemed, while he tried to look calm and relaxed. Personally, Benjamin couldn’t see the big deal… they talked to girls everyday in class and at meal times… they were just girls…
The next morning Benjamin and Bane both rose early and made their way out to the Quidditch pitch. Their names had been on the tryout list for two weeks, and they had both turned in their parental permission forms to their head of house.
The Hufflepuff tryouts were to take place first thing at nine in the morning, but Benjamin wanted to watch and be there to encourage his friend. Hunter also made an appearance to cheer on Bane, but Darius decided to remain behind. There were two positions open on the Hufflepuff team this year, and both were Chasers, which Ben hoped would work to Bane’s advantage. Ravenclaw had three positions this year, a Chaser, a Keeper, and a Beater. He would be trying for whatever he could get.
Around ten Hufflepuffs showed up to try out for the team, many of them older than Bane. When Bane’s turn came he went through the set of drills the Hufflepuff Captain instructed him in, and didn’t drop the ball once. When he was told to make as many goals as he could with the Quaffles being tossed to him in three minutes, Bane made thirteen out of sixteen goals, surpassing the skills of his older opponents by three scores.
To the excitement of Ben, Bane, and Hunter, Bane made the Hufflepuff team along with a fifth year named Henry who was tall and thin, with a smooth face.
“That was excellent,” Bane said, grinning as he made his way up into the stands to watch Benjamin’s tryout. Hunter nodded in agreement, slapping his friend on the back. Benjamin was happy for his friend, but nerves about his own tryout were starting to fill his stomach.
On the field Benjamin was called upon first, being the youngest Ravenclaw to try out. He climbed onto his new broom, which he had decided not to polish to make it look as if he had been flying for years.
“It says you’re trying for all three positions… that because you’re not good at one specific position?” the Ravenclaw Captain, James Lancer asked him.
Benjamin frowned. “I play Chaser best, but I can also play the other positions.”
“All right…” Lancer nodded. “Get up there then. My other two Chasers will throw you the ball, and you have to show us how well you can handle by catching, and throwing it back to them. You’re going to go up and down the field twice while doing this, and then go in a circle once. We’ll test the other’s trying for Chaser, and if you haven’t made the position, you can try for Keeper and Beater.”
Benjamin nodded and took the Quaffle offered to him before he rose into the air. Now that he was in the air, he was surprised to look down and see Sean, his fellow third year Ravenclaw waiting on the ground to tryout. In his nerves he had not noticed him standing there, a tattered looking broom in one hand.
Along with the two older Chasers, Benjamin raced up and down the field, throwing, catching, passing, and repeating. At the end he was asked to score as many goals as he could past the stand-in Keeper as he could in three minutes, just as Bane had been made to do. Fortunately for Ben, the Beater standing in for Keeper wasn’t very good at the position, and Ben made every goal.
When he was finished, he flew back to the ground and waited patiently as the other Chasers were tried, and then Lancer moved on to testing the position of Keeper, which was what Sean was trying for. The two Ravenclaw chasers, as well as Lancer threw Quaffle after Quaffle at Sean, and time after time, he stopped them, sometimes throwing himself in front of the ball at risk of falling off his broom and plummeting to the earth.
Impressed, the Captain nodded, and motioned Sean back to the ground, and the next person up into the air.
At the end of the tryout, the eight Ravenclaws trying for the team, including Ben and Sean, waited patiently in a line as the Captain and the rest of the team talked about their performance, and went over their notes.
Finally Lancer stepped forward, and said, “All right… you all did pretty good. Unfortunately pretty good isn’t good enough to beat the other teams on the field. To be on the team you need to be the best.” As he said this, Benjamin’s heart fell. He didn’t feel as if he’d done the best he could.
“When I call your name, step forward to come say hi to your teammates and get the training schedule and your new gear.” He looked down at his list one last time, as if reevaluating his decision one last time, and said, “Ok, Sean Driscol, Jamie Fin, and Ben Clover.”
Benjamin grinned, and up in the stands he heard his two friends cheering for him as he stepped forward and accepted the Ravenclaw training schedule being handed to him by the tallest Chaser, Jenna Collins. Unexpectedly, Sean slapped him on the back, and Benjamin grinned. This was the first time Sean had ever seemed happy to even be a Ravenclaw, little lone be standing there part of a team with Benjamin.
“Dad! Dad!” Benjamin was suddenly in his father’s office doorway, broom in hand and grinning widely. Bane stood there also, having nobody there to tell his victory to.
Severus looked up from his work and wondered at their appearance there. “How did it go?” he asked, already knowing the answer by the happiness his son could not help but exude by his presence.
“We made the team! We both made our house teams!”
“What position?” Severus asked. Secretly he had asked Flitwick what positions had been open for Ravenclaw house.
“We both got Chaser!” Severus nodded.
“You will be busy now with school work and training,” he observed, happy that his son had made the team, but also unhappy inside that he would probably see his son even less now with all the things he had to keep him occupied.
“Saturday and Sunday for four hours after breakfast… and Bane has practice for four hours after our team is done with the pitch.”
Severus nodded again… that was not as bad as he thought. He knew that Gryffindor and Slytherin teams generally practiced every day of the week, including in the cold winter months.
For a few minutes Severus continue to inquire about the tryouts and the upcoming season before Benjamin and Bane disappeared to go and spread the good news to the others in their houses.
For the rest of the day Benjamin and Bane celebrated their victory by laughing and joking and checking out every book they could find on Quidditch tactics from the school library. By the time they made their way back toward Ravenclaw tower, it was eight thirty at night. Jokingly, Bane said, “Hey, now you can’t get mad at me when we play against each other and my team wins.”
“Wins?” Ben laughed. “Maybe my team will win a few too!” They laughed, but stopped suddenly when they heard shouting coming from a rarely used darkened corridor around the corner. Recognizing the voices of Darius and Hunter, they ran to find them, coming around the corner just as their argument took a turn for the worst.
“Yeah, well why would she want to be around you? Your family sure doesn’t!” Darius screamed at Hunter. After he had said the words, they kind of just hung there in the still, quiet air, not dissipating, but not growing any less hurtful at the same time.
“You think you’re so damn special don’t you?” Hunter cried angrily at Darius after a few long, drawn out moments. “You think you know everything! You think just because you’re in Ravenclaw, and just because you have a family, and live in a nice house on a nice farm, and just because you’re a big thirteen-year-old now you know everything! Well let me tell you something!” Hunter trailed off, unsure of what he wanted to say to him. He shook his head, and threw his hands up in the air weakly. Turning his back and beginning to walk away, he said, “Forget it… just forget it! You think you’re so damn special, you can just be special all by yourself,” and then he was gone, off into the night.
Unexpectedly Darius had tears in his eyes, angry at his friend and at himself, and he didn’t know why. Benjamin and Bane just stood there quietly, shocked. Ben looked to Bane for help, but Bane had no answers for him. Deciding quickly, Ben motioned for Bane to stay with Darius, and ran off after Hunter. He was more at a loss for answers than ever before, and suddenly his victory at making the Quidditch team meant nothing. It seemed this was officially the end of their brotherhood.
A/N: Let me know what you think. School starts in a few days again and my life has suddenly gotten very busy... busy isn't bad, it just means less writing. I'll try to have another chapter up within ten days... we'll see how it goes.
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