As usual, the characters and settings in this story belong to J.K. Rowling not me.
Chapter 10: Quidditch Practice
Saturday morning and Harry was up far earlier than he wanted, especially after Ron’s announcement in the middle of the night. For a while he just lay in bed staring at his bed hangings, then he forced himself up and he changed and took some time to write a letter to Sirius and then one to Sky. He told Sirius and Remus all about Prongs, but neglected to mention that he was a familiar, and he thanked Sky for her previous letters and told her that he was adjusting to having the little fur ball around. As was Remus’s request, he kept out anything that could even give the slightest of hints about the Order and what he really thought and if he read it as an outsider he would have no idea. All that was left was to send the letters off and so he nudged Prongs awake and they made their way quietly through the castle and up to the owlery.
Prongs caused quite the commotion among the owls, Harry should have guessed as much but once the storm of feathers settled it didn’t really matter. Hedwig seemed angry at the rude way in which she had been woken, but she flew down when he called and he apologized for the early hour and sent her off, staying to watch until he could no longer see her. He was turning to leave when Cho walked in and he said the first thing he could think of, “Hi.”
“Oh… hi Harry, I didn’t think anyone else would be here this early.”
“I didn’t think anyone else would be awake this early,” Harry countered, “not on a Saturday at least.”
“Well, I just remembered that today is my mum’s birthday,” she said, holding up the small package in her hand.
“Well you’d best not forget that.”
Cho smiled and Harry leaned against one of the window sills as she coaxed down one of the school barn owls and tied her parcel to send it off.
“I… um, heard about the argument that you had with Umbridge.”
“So did the rest of the school I’m sure.”
Cho was nervous, almost scared. “I’m sorry for asking but –”
“Yes, my uncle did abuse me when I was living with him. That’s the only reason I’m living with Sirius and Remus now, there’s no way I would have been allowed to go with them otherwise. That is what you were going to ask, wasn’t it?” She was ashamed but Harry gave her a smile, “Don’t worry about it, I’ve come to terms with my past and I may not like talking about it, but I’m not afraid to talk about it.”
“You’re brave Harry, after everything that has happened to you… if it had happened to me I don’t think I could smile the way you do.”
“Don’t say that, you’re strong too, I’m sure you could have found a way.”
Harry would have said more if he didn’t feel someone coming up the stairs, they were running, but not very fast and the smaller entity in front of them meant that it was Filch. Sure enough, the old man ran in a moment later with his cat and it was obvious that he had been running since he was breathing so hard and his face was red.
“I’ve heard from a very reliable source that you’re ordering dungbombs, give me the letter,” he wheezed.
“Sorry, I can’t, it’s already gone. But when they get here I’ll make sure to send some your way.”
Filch was absolutely livid, he really thought that Harry was ordering dungbombs, and Harry just went along with the accusation and the scrambled emotions coming from the man made Harry want to laugh.
“Well, I’m off to breakfast, when you have proof that I ordered dungbombs, come see me. Cho, would you care to join me?”
As they were passing by the caretaker Prongs let out a low growl at Mrs. Norris and the cat jumped and hid, the fox was a force to be reckoned with for sure.
“I’ve noticed that he doesn’t like very many people, your sky fox.”
“His name is Prongs, and no, he doesn’t like very many people,” Harry said, reaching up to pet him behind the ears as he usually did.
“Did you really order dungbombs?”
“No, I sent a letter to my guardians; I promised I would write them more this year. But it’s always fun to make Filch worry.”
“You’re evil,” Cho joked.
“I get it from my father; it’s a talent, just like being a seeker.”
“I suppose, did Gryffindor find a new keeper yet?”
“Yeah, my best friend Ron Weasley. We have practice today so I’ll have to see how it goes.”
They talked a bit more about Quidditch and when they reached the Great Hall they parted ways. Harry was just sitting down when he realized that he had had two complete conversations with Cho and hadn’t made a fool of himself during either one. Then he realized that it was because he no longer had a crush on her, he had mastered his own emotions, but he was sure that he no longer felt anything more for her than friendship.
Harry was still pondering the concept of love and how confusing the emotions were when Ginny walked up and sat next to him, earning Prongs’ company, she was the only one beside McGonagall that he would leave Harry for.
“Hello Prongs!” Ginny laughed. “Good morning Harry, did you sleep well?”
Harry looked at the girl he had known for so long and his heart jumped.
“Well enough, how about you?”
“Pretty good, I’ve been staying up late doing homework lately so I fell asleep within seconds after falling into bed. I noticed that you’re always up early now, why is that?”
“Too much sleep over the summer, I started waking up early and it became a habit, now I just try and break it every day and I fail miserably. Don’t worry, I’m doing just fine.” At feeling her slight concern Harry came to realize that he did know what love felt like, he felt it for Ginny, that deep seeded emotion that he had never felt before. It was a startling realization and yet he couldn’t have been happier upon realizing it as Ginny was everything any man could have hoped for.
“You’re going to help Ron practice this morning, right?”
“I’ll try; but you saw the tryouts, Angelina told me that before he’s any good at all, he’ll have to stop being so nervous,” Harry lied, he had kept a tab on the Quidditch pitch last night, he had known Ron was the keeper.
“Well, he always played keeper at home when we played and he could use a bit more practice flying but he is certainly capable of saving every goal thrown at him, but those nerves of his, they do get in the way.”
“I’ll work on it then, wish me luck, I have the feeling I’ll need it.”
Ginny held in a laugh and they started to eat a quiet breakfast while the rest of the student body struggled to get up on their first Saturday of the term. Hermione was almost dragging Ron when they entered the Great Hall and walked over to take seats across from Harry and Ginny. Harry wasn’t surprised that Ron could barely function at the prospect of a simple practice he was so nervous, just the foreign emotions made Harry a bit nervous. However, unlike Ron, Harry was used to dealing with nerves, he had done so many times before and the infectious emotions didn’t affect him so he was able to block them off easily.
“Eat Ron, its only practice,” Hermione urged, she had never understood Quidditch and this was no different.
“Yeah, but you don’t have to do it, now do you?”
“Ron,” Harry said, he waited until his best friend was looking at him before he continued, “I know how you feel. I remember when I first started, you two forced me to eat and trust me when I tell you that it helped, a full stomach will help you focus on getting better. Don’t forget, I’m practicing with you in the morning even though the actual practice isn’t until this afternoon.”
“Hey, that’s right,” Ron took a deep breath and his nerves calmed down a bit, they were still strong, but at least he ate before he and Harry excused themselves from the girls and went out to the pitch for a private practice.
For three hours Harry threw quaffle after quaffle at the goals and Ron steadily got better as his nerves calmed themselves. When Harry’s arm had grown tired of the repeated throwing, they had some flying practice. Prongs couldn’t have been happier as he balanced on the front of Harry’s firebolt, and Ron improved his flying a bit while Harry tried a few tricks. By the time lunch came around Harry was standing up on his broom and flying easily, he found it much more fun than riding a broom the proper way, but he didn’t have the same mobility or speed as he did when he rode his firebolt properly.
“Time for lunch, I’m starving,” Harry said as they walked back up to the castle and the Great Hall.
“I can’t eat Harry, it’s no use, I’m a terrible keeper, Angelina’s going to replace me in an hour after she sees how bad I am, she should have chosen someone else,” Ron mumbled.
“Ron, you saved almost every goal I tried to make, you’re a good keeper, would she have chosen you if you weren’t the best option? Come on, we’ll get up to the Great Hall and we’ll have lunch and listen to Hermione scold us for not doing homework this morning, then we’ll go out and you’ll prove to Angelina just how good you are.”
“But that’s the thing, I’m not good Harry, I’m terrible.”
“If you keep thinking that way you’ll only get worse. Trust me Ron, you’re my best mate, I’m not going to lie to you about this, you’re a good keeper, just a little rough around the edges is all. A few more practices and we’ll have you smoothed out, just relax.”
Hermione refused to talk to them during lunch; she still believed that they should have spent the morning doing homework. After lunch and doing all he could to get Ron to eat, Harry nearly dragged his friend back to the pitch and had to deal with all the nerves that had built back up. Angelina had them warm up and all seven members of the team passed the quaffle around. Ron missed it several times and the jeering of the Slytherins below didn’t help him, but when he did catch it, he passed so enthusiastically to Alicia that it slipped through her hands and hit her in the face, causing a nose bleed. Fred and George were there at once and they gave her a purple candy that they swore would clear it up. After that they split up and worked on what they needed to.
Harry spent the rest of practice flying and searching for the snitch and he caught it several times but let it go and gave it a head start so that he could catch it again. It was a terrible realization to notice that the snitch had an emotion signature, it was a small one that had only a spark of excitement on it, but to Harry it felt like cheating, he could know where the little golden ball was at all times if he concentrated hard enough, he even tested his theory and found it to be true. But when he closed himself off just enough the signature vanished and when Harry thought about it, practice was different, during a true game there would be so many more people and the emotions would mask the snitch.
He had just grabbed the snitch again when Angelina called an end to the practice, Alicia’s nose bleed was worse than ever and she was incredibly pale. Fred and George converged on her once more and they seemed panicked.
“We’ll take her to the hospital wing, she may have accidently swallowed a nosebleed nougat.”
The twins rushed off with Alicia between them and Angelina sighed. “No point in continuing, let’s go to the locker room.”
Harry returned the snitch to its place in the practice box and helped to catch the bludger before going and changing.
“How did you do Ron?” Harry asked on their way back to the castle.
“He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t the best either,” Angelina said. “A few more practices and he’ll be better.”
“See, I’m no good at all.”
“You just get nervous; we’ll work on that too.”
Ron groaned and Harry laughed and shook his head at his friend. “I’ll help you every chance I get, but I suggest getting your homework done; Quidditch isn’t an excuse for not having it done.”
“Yeah, but I’m not good at that stuff either, I can’t concentrate on all those essays the way you and Hermione do.”
“You don’t have to, but spending all your time practicing instead of doing homework won’t get you anywhere and Hermione won’t help you if you do that.”
That seemed to do the trick for Ron, “You’re right, she won’t, do you think she’ll still help me after dinner? You better ask, she’ll only get mad at me and tell me I should have done it when I got it.”
“That’s true, but you should ask, it will help you with your nerves.”
“Harry’s right, ask her for help yourself.”
“You two are going to make me do it, aren’t you?”
“Either you do it or you don’t get any help with homework.”
Ron groaned but in the end he asked, or rather, begged Hermione to help him with all the homework that he had neglected to do over the past week. She waited until he was done begging before agreeing to help him, though Harry had the feeling that she would have helped him to begin with, without him begging. Then they spent the rest of the evening working on homework and Harry went to bed and was asleep before Ron entered later that night.