Chapter 7 : Ravenclaw v. Gryffindor.
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All Albus learnt about Scorpius over the next couple of weeks was that he was an amazing flyer. As Madame Chang gradually allowed them to fly higher and longer, his skill became ever more apparent.
Nathan, on the other hand, seemed absolutely incapable of getting the hang of it and generally ended up either on his bottom or hanging by one hand from his broom as it flew crazily through the air. It was a wonder he hadn’t injured himself yet, but that was probably due to Madame Chang’s vigilance. Not only was she constantly ready with her wand to intervene if anybody got into any difficulties, but she’d taken to standing by Nathan’s broom at take-off, supervising and talking him through the process.
“I wish flying classes were optional,” he complained after their third lesson. “I mean, it’s not as if I’m going try-out for the Quidditch team or anything anyway.”
“But you never know when you might need to be able to fly,” Rose said. “There are times when it’s not possible to Apparate or use Floo powder. After all, there’s not always a fireplace available and there are many places, like Hogwarts, that you can’t Apparate to or from.”
Albus stopped listening. It was years before they’d be allowed Apparate anyway.
Unlike Nathan, he loved flying. Making the Ravenclaw Quidditch team the following year would be a dream come true, though if the older students were even better than Scorpius, he didn’t much fancy his chances.
He’d no reason to believe they were though, he reminded himself. Older didn’t have to mean better and after all, the Gryffindor hopefuls hadn’t seemed particularly impressive.
He was looking forward to seeing Ravenclaw play. He’d get a much better idea of their standard then.
To his dismay, however, the first team they were to play was Gryffindor.
“Well, it could be worse,” Rose said. “They could be playing each other last, with whoever wins taking the Cup. At least the first match of the year doesn’t decide anything.”
“But it’s James’s first match playing for Gryffindor. He’ll be really disappointed if it goes badly. But if it goes well for him, then we lose and I don’t want that either.” He sighed. “I was really looking forward to seeing my first Quidditch match too.”
“Your parents have taken you to Quidditch matches before.”
“I meant my first Hogwarts Quidditch match. Seeing my own house play. Now I don’t even know who to cheer for.”
“Couldn’t you hope James saves more goals, but we catch the Snitch when they’re less than a hundred and fifty points ahead. That way everybody wins.”
Without such dilemmas, the other first year Ravenclaws counted down the days ‘til the match excitedly.
“I really can’t imagine it,” Derek said. “A sport played on brooms, with four balls and I can’t remember how many hoops. It sounds like some mad combination of basketball, football and I don’t know what else. Polo or something. I bet it’s way more exciting than ordinary sports. Muggle sports, I mean.”
Angie stared at him. “No way it’s better than soccer. I mean, have you seen Manchester United lately?”
He shook his head. “Nope. And I’ve no great desire to either. Football sends me to sleep. Bunch of guys running around a pitch after a ball.”
She looked at him as if he’d committed blasphemy.
“How can you say that?”
“Wait until you’ve seen a Quidditch match,” Albus said. “Then you’ll see what a real sport is. My dad took me and James to a soccer match once. It really doesn’t compare with Quidditch.”
“Am I the only sane person here?” Angie demanded.
“In Ireland, people sometimes play Aingingein,” Fionnuala put in unexpectedly. “But the wizarding population isn’t large enough for a professional league. Quidditch is too popular anyway.”
“Aingingein?” Rose said.
Albus thought for a moment. “I think it was one of the forerunners of Quidditch.”
“It was very popular in ancient times,” Fionnuala said. “It’s still played sometimes, but mostly just for fun. Quidditch is the most popular sport now, especially since we won the World Cup back in the ‘90s.”
“My parents were at that,” Albus said. “Rose’s were too. They say it was really exciting, with Krum catching the Snitch and all.”
“Aingingein is exciting too,” Fionnuala said. “It’s a pity we can’t play it here.”
Nobody was really listening to her. They were far too focussed on the upcoming match and the closer it got, the more focussed they became. The day before it was to take place, it was almost the only topic of conversation in the common room.
Albus wished they’d shut up. They were all so anxious for a Ravenclaw win that he felt slightly disloyal. But completely supporting Ravenclaw felt disloyal too. He knew how much winning his first match would mean to his brother.
“We’re going to hammer you today.” James came over to the Ravenclaw table the morning of the match.
“Don’t be so sure of yourself,” Derek said.
“What do you know about it?” James asked. “Have you ever even seen a Quidditch match?”
“No, but Albus has been telling me all about it. And everybody says we’d a good team last year.”
“Gryffindor still won,” James said. “Anyway, that was last year. Gryffindor have me now.”
“And you can see how modest he is,” Albus said.
“You don’t get anywhere in life being modest, little bro. And I’m promising you, we are going to win today.”
“Well, good luck.”
“He’s going to need it,” one of the older Ravenclaws put in. “Go back to your own table, Potter. You’ll need all the sustenance you can get later on.”
James laughed. “Keep telling yourself that.”
They couldn’t have had a better day for the match, Albus thought, as he took a seat in the stands. A bright, cool autumnal day, perfect for flying in.
Perhaps that was why the stands were so packed, not only with Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, but with what appeared to be most of Slytherin and Hufflepuff too.
Jordan Shacklebolt was standing beside McGonagall, preparing to commentate.
“Both teams are arriving on the pitch now,” he began. “A few new faces to be seen for Gryffindor, most notably that of James Potter, whose parents’ Quidditch careers are the stuff of legend.”
There was a pause.
Albus looked up. McGonagall seemed to be whispering something in Jordan’s ear.
“All right, so the Gryffindor team consists of Brian Burgess, Dominique Weasley, Catríona Davis, James Potter, Nancy Walters, Luke Miller and Tony Smith. Facing them for Ravenclaw, we have Hilda Bagshot, Christopher Jones, Jason Blake, Mark Turner, Kate Campbell, Martin Williams and John McFadden.
“Madame Chang is releasing the balls now and they’re off. Ravenclaw in possession. Bagshot passes to McFadden, who passes back to Bagshot, who passes to…no, Weasley’s intercepted it and she’s going for goal. Oh, Campbell’s saved it. Good save.”
All around Albus people were cheering. He joined in enthusiastically. Dominique had been on the team for years. She’d nothing to prove.
“Williams is in possession. He passes to Bagshot. She passes to McFadden. Back to Bagshot. She’s heading for the hoops. Can she give us the game’s first score? No, Potter’s saved it.”
James was grinning right across his face, as he held the Quaffle aloft.
Albus cheered again. What a way for James to start his first game!
Suddenly, he noticed that the older students nearby were glaring at him and his cheering died down. Beside him, Rose stifled a giggle.
The match continued, with both teams struggling to score.
“What a match,” Jordan said. “Fifteen minutes into the game and it’s still nil all. Both teams have come really close to scoring a number of times, but the two Keepers are just too good. Of course, we’re all aware just how good Campbell is and it looks as if she’s got some competition in Potter. Not that that should come as a surprise to anybody familiar with his mother’s impressive career. Oh! Bagshot is going for goal now. Can Potter save it? NO! That’s the first goal to Ravenclaw. Ten-nil.”
Albus knew he should be pleased, but he could practically feel his brother’s disappointment. He couldn’t see James’s face from the stands, but he could picture it so clearly. It seemed mean to cheer.
It wasn’t a dilemma he was faced with again for some time. James seemed determined not to let any more goals past him. The next two scored were by Gryffindor.
“Twenty-Ten to Gyffindor,” Jordan announced.
The scores crept up slowly. An hour passed and neither Seeker caught the Snitch. The score was now Fifty-Forty to Gryffindor.
All around Albus, the Ravenclaws were roaring at Christopher. James was so good, they couldn’t count on goals. They needed him to catch the Snitch.
Albus yelled with the rest of them. As Rose had said, if Gyffindor got more goals, but Ravenclaw got the Snitch, then everybody won. Everybody Albus cared about anyway.
Suddenly, both Seekers went into a dive.
Watching them closely, Albus completely missed Ravenclaw shoot for another goal, only realising what had happened when he heard Jordan say “and Potter saves again, so the score is still fifty-forty. But wait, it looks as if the Gryffindor Seeker has caught the Snitch.”
Sure enough, Catríona was rising into the air triumphantly, her arm held aloft.
“So that’s two hundred points to forty. Bad luck Ravenclaw, but congratulations to Gryffindor. Both teams played amazingly well, I’m sure you’ll all agree…”
Nobody was listening to him anymore. The crowd was streaming down to either congratulate or commiserate with their team. Ravenclaw had played really well, Albus thought. It was a pity they lost by so much in the end. It had been close all along.
He wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or disappointed. Much as he wanted Ravenclaw to win, it was hard to be completely disappointed when James had played such a fantastic first match. Nobody could doubt his right to be on the team now, if they ever had.
“Let’s wait for James,” he said to Rose.
“I doubt we’ll get to talk to him,” she said. “He’ll probably be surrounded by teammates.”
He shrugged. “I at least want to see him pass.”
She was right. The Gryffindor team came past in a group, accompanied by other members of their house. James didn’t have time to stop and chat, but he raised both his thumbs to them as he passed.
“Two hundred to forty,” he called.
Rose rolled her eyes.
“Well done,” Albus called back.
They let the team pass and then followed them up to the castle, where Slughorn was waiting at the main entrance.
“Ah, Rose and Albus. Good to see you both. I’m planning a little party tonight, to celebrate the Quidditch success of some of the members of the Slug Club. You will join us, won’t you? I know you’re Ravenclaws, but after all, I’m the head of Slytherin. We won’t worry about house divisions, will we?” He turned as another student headed towards them. “Rasmus, you’ll join us tonight too, won’t you?”
“As I was just telling our two friends here, tonight the Slug Club is celebrating Gyffindor’s victory. You will join us, I hope.”
“I don’t think I should, Sir. My sister, you see.”
“Oh dear, that is a pity.” He turned back to Rose and Albus. “I hope you’ll both attend.”
Albus shrugged. He supposed it would give him an opportunity to congratulate his brother properly.
“Do you think we should tell the others we’re going,” he whispered to Rose as they walked down the corridor.
“If they ask. I don’t see why we should lie to them.”
The reaction was one of surprise rather than disapproval.
“He’s crazy,” Derek said. “If it’s a party for the Gryffindor team, shouldn’t it just be them who’re invited? Is he even going to invite all their team?”
Albus shrugged. “I don’t know. I doubt it though. I imagine it’ll be just the Slug Club.”
“The chosen few,” Dora said.
“Hey, I just want to see my brother. I know it’s our team they beat, but I still want to say ‘congratulations’. You know?”
“So would I if my sister played for them,” Rasmus said. “I’m glad we’re in the same house, so I don’t have to worry about cheering for the team she’s playing against.”
Albus smiled at him gratefully. “Yeah, I sometimes wish James and I were in the same house, but then I think I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but Ravenclaw.”
“Of course you wouldn’t,” said Rasmus. “It’s by far the best house.”
Albus had to agree. He couldn’t imagine better people to share a dormitory with than Derek, Nathan and Rasmus.
His guess about the party had been right. The only members of the Gryffindor team there were Brian, Dominique and James, all of whom had been at every one of Slughorn’s parties so far.
In fact, the only way this party differed from the others was that Slughorn began it with a toast and a bit of a speech.
“I realise we all represent different houses here and some of us may be quite disappointed by today’s result, but I just want to congratulate James, Brian and Dominique on their amazing performance earlier. I assure you, I am dreading the day you play Slytherin. So would everybody please raise your glasses to our three superb Quidditch players.”
The Slug Club did as he said, some more reluctantly than others.
“And of course, I also want to praise Jordan here, who commented so impressively that even an old fogey like me could understand what was going on.”
The following toast was even less enthusiastic. Although Jordan was popular, commentating was hardly a skill that generated much excitement.
“And without further ado, I urge you to enjoy the party.”
“Thank God he’s shut up,” James muttered.
“Yeah, right,” Rose said. “You love the attention.”
“It wasn’t the attention I minded. It’s having to wait for him to finish before I can sample the food.”
Hastily, he filled his plate.
Albus laughed and followed his example. As always, the food was delicious. It almost made up for listening to Slughorn’s rather boring stories and his questions about everybody’s relations.
“Pity he doesn’t bring any food into class,” Albus said, as they headed to Potions the next day.
“Um hmm.” She was rooting through her backpack and didn’t appear to be listening to him.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“I can’t find my scales and I’m sure I put them in my bag last night.”
“It’s not like you to forget anything. Do you want to walk back and see if they’ve fallen out somewhere?”
She continued examining her bag. “I suppose I’d better, but I really don’t see how they can have. There isn’t a tear in it or anything. You don’t have to come with me. I don’t want to make you late.”
“It’s all right. It won’t take us that long.”
There was no sign of the scales anywhere between the classrooms and Ravenclaw Tower.
Rose glanced at the knocker. “How I wish we just had a password! Maybe I’ll have a go anyway. See if it’s an easy question for once.”
She rapped quickly on the knocker.
“Where are you most likely to find a vampire?”
They glanced at each other in confusion.
“Any ideas?” Rose asked hopefully.
He shook his head.
She sighed. “Oh well, we’d better get to class, I suppose. We’re going to be late as it is.”
They hurried to the dungeon classroom, arriving just minutes after the class began.
“Sorry Sir,” Rose said. “It was my fault. I couldn’t find my scales. Albus was just helping me look for them.”
“Dear, dear.” He shook his head. “And where were they?”
“I don’t know, Sir. Probably in my dormitory or common room, but we couldn’t answer the question to get into the tower.”
“I’m shocked. A question one of Hogwarts’ brightest students couldn’t answer. That can’t happen often. I’m sure I’ve some spare scales in the cupboard you can use for today’s class. I do hope you find yours soon.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
She got a spare scales out of the cupboard. It was old and slightly scratched.
“I’m not sure this is weighing things correctly at all,” she whispered to Albus. “The potion doesn’t look right.”
“You can always share mine if you want.”
He pushed his scales towards her.
She shook her head. “It would be too awkward trying to share one. That’s why Slughorn wanted me to borrow one from his stores. I really think it’s overestimating what I’m weighing though. Do you think I should stick a bit extra into the potion, to be sure.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “What if it was right after all? You’d be putting too much in then.”
“I know. That’s what worrying me. I really hope my scales turns up this evening. You know, I really did think I’d put it in my bag last night.”
“Well, even you can make a mistake, you know.”
“I suppose so. I can tell you this though. I’m not letting it happen again. I’m triple-checking everything in future.”
She turned her attention to her potion, which didn’t seem to be turning out as well as hers usually did. Albus guessed the scales really were slightly off.
“Not quite up to your usual standard, Rose,” Slughorn said jovially, when he checked them at the end of class.
“Um, she wasn’t sure the scales were working properly,” Albus put in nervously. He didn’t like contradicting a teacher, but he knew Rose would stand up for him if their positions were reversed.
“Ah yes, that would explain it. Some of the items in my cupboard have been there quite a long time. Do you know, young man?” He turned to Albus. “Your father actually found Severus Snape’s old Potions book in that cupboard. His own teacher’s! Of course Severus wasn’t teaching him Potions that year; I was, but he was teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. Wasn’t that quite the coincidence?”
“Em, yes Sir.”
“Well, young lady, I hope you find your own scales soon, so that you can amaze us all with your brewing skills once again. I’m afraid that today Rasmus takes your usual position at the top of the class.”
“Don’t mind him,” Rasmus said, as they filed out of the classroom. “Everybody knows you’re the champion brewer.”
She smiled. “Yeah, well, you’re too busy topping the class at Charms and History of Magic. You can’t be best at everything, you know.”
Despite her light-heartedness, Albus could see she was still distracted.
“It’s not that big a deal, is it?” he asked. “If you don’t find them, you could just owl your mum to send you some new ones.”
“I know that, but I don’t know when she’ll get to Diagon Alley and I really don’t want to be stuck with those stupid spare ones another day. I wish I could think where I’d left mine.”
“They’re bound to be back in the dormitory. Or the common room. You’ll probably find them with your dragonhide gloves or something.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
But the scales weren’t with her gloves or by her bed or any of the other places she thought they might be.
“I don’t know where else to look,” she said finally. “I’ve checked absolutely everywhere.”
“Maybe they’re somewhere you’ve already looked,” Albus suggested. “That happens sometimes.”
“I don’t know.”
They returned to the common room.
“Has anybody seen a set of scales?” she called desperately.
One of the older students nudged another and the other student looked up.
“What is it you’re looking for?”
“Oh, yeah, I found a set here in the common room earlier today. I meant to hand them in to one of the teachers if nobody claimed them and then I forgot. I’ll just go get them now.”
Albus could feel Rose’s relief, but it was short-lived. There was a huge dent on one side of the scales.
“What’s wrong?” the student who’d found them asked.
“Oh, that’s easily fixed. Let me.” She took the scales from Rose. “Reparo.”
The scales mended instantly.
Rose smiled. “Oh thank you. Thanks so much.”
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