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Chapter 18 : The Golden Arrow.
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The fact that Scorpius had smuggled a broom, and a Golden Arrow at that, into Hogwarts became the talk of the school. Even the older students seemed to have heard of it and their reactions varied from admiration to disapproval.
“The nerve of first years nowadays. We’d never have dared smuggle a broom into school when we were first years.”
James stopped by the Ravenclaw table to give his opinion, a few mornings after Albus had seen the broom.
“Can you believe Scorpius’s dad got him a Golden Arrow in first year? He can’t even try out for the team until next year!”
Albus shrugged. “I wonder if his parents know he’s brought it to school with him.”
“I’d say so. You know what the Malfoys are like! Dad says Scorpius’s grandfather bought brooms for the whole Slytherin team, so his father could make the team. They don’t care about rules. Bet that’s why his dad got him the broom too. Hoping a good broom will make him a good player.” He scoffed.
“Scorpius is a brilliant flyer though,” Albus said reluctantly. “We’d flying with the Slytherins and he was the best in the class.”
“That doesn’t mean he’d be any good at Quidditch! There’s more to it than just flying, you know.”
“Yeah, I know that.”
He didn’t really care how good Scorpius was at Quidditch. It wasn’t as if he’d be competing for a place on the Ravenclaw team. Of course, if he did make the Slytherin team and Albus made the Ravenclaw one, they could end up playing each other some day, but that wasn’t exactly something that bothered him yet. He had to get on the team first. Then he’d worry about who he was playing. If he ever did make it, that was. He wasn’t certain he would.
“Anyway,” James continued, “I can’t see a Malfoy being good at Quidditch. It’s a team game and they only care about themselves.”
“Maybe.” Albus shrugged again. It wasn’t worth arguing about. Neither of them knew Scorpius well enough to judge anyway.
“You’re only jealous,” Rose put in. “Albus told me you tried to sneak a broom in when you were in first year.”
“I didn’t have a Golden Arrow then, though, did I? It was hard enough to convince my parents to get me one now.”
“Only ‘cause they already got you a broom last year,” Albus said.
James glared at him, but didn’t respond, instead turning to Rose.
“Don’t tell me you’re OK with rule breaking all of a sudden.”
“I’m not,” she said. “I think he’s an idiot. But I think you were an idiot too, to try it two years ago and it’s a bit hypocritical of you to criticise him now.”
“I’m not criticising him for breaking rules,” James defended himself. “Anyway, it was harder for me. I don’t have parents who let me do whatever I like. I bet his do.”
He turned away before either of them could reply.
Albus was surprised none of the teachers had found out about the broom yet. Not only were the students constantly talking about it or sneaking out to ride on it, but the prefects must have heard about it and he’d have thought they’d be expected to report it.
Many of the first years seemed to think a classmate having a broom at Hogwarts was the most exciting thing ever and Scorpius was inundated with pleas for rides on it. To be fair to him, he seemed more than willing to share and was constantly offering to let his classmates ride it.
Albus didn’t dare take him up on the offer. He just knew a teacher would appear and demand to know what he was doing, if he so much as thought of mounting it. He wasn’t entirely sure the offer applied to him anyway after the argument he and Scorpius had had earlier in the year.
Lots of his classmates seemed willing to take the risk though. Over the next few weeks, Fionnuala, Angie and even Rasmus had flown on it. Albus was surprised by Rasmus. He’d thought he’d agree with Rose that smuggling a broom into Hogwarts was stupid.
“Hilda’d be disappointed if I didn’t take every opportunity to practice,” he explained. “She’s hoping I’ll try out for the team next year. Not that I’ve much hope. She got all the Quidditch talent in the family.”
“You never know,” Albus said. “You could improve a lot over the next year.”
“And there are better ways of doing it than by sneaking illegal rides,” Rose said sniffily.
Nathan, of course, was far too scared to mount a broom without a teacher present and Dora too, refused to even think about it.
“He’s getting more than enough attention already,” she said. “I’m certainly not giving him any more.”
Rose grinned at her. “At least we’re playing Slytherin next week. I don’t usually think house rivalry a good thing, but at least it might get people talking about something other than this stupid broom. And it’s stupid, talking about it so much. The teachers are going to hear something sooner or later. I’m amazed they haven’t noticed everybody slipping out into the grounds every few minutes yet.”
“Serve them right if they do get caught,” Dora said. “And you know, Scorpius is stupid enough to have his name engraved on it in gold writing. So it’s not like they’ll have any difficulty tracing it back to him.”
For a moment, Albus chuckled. Then he felt guilty. Scorpius had never done anything to him. Well, not unless he was the one who’d sent the Swelling Solution or hidden the inkwell in his trunk. He’d no reason to want to see him in trouble and it wasn’t fair to judge him just because he was a Malfoy or a Slytherin.
One of the men he’d been named after was a Slytherin, after all and by all accounts, Sirius’s family had been as bad, if not worse than the Malfoys and he knew how good Sirius had been to his father, seen his eyes fill with tears on the anniversaries of his death.
No, he didn’t particularly want to see Scorpius in trouble, he decided.
It did look pretty inevitable though, if he wasn’t more careful about keeping his broom hidden.
As the match between Ravenclaw and Slytherin approached, the Ravenclaw first years seemed a little more reluctant to plead for a turn on Scorpius’s broom, but Albus had no idea how often first years from the other houses were continuing to use it. After all, this match meant absolutely nothing to Gryffindors or Hufflepuffs.
It wasn’t even a particularly interesting one, as it was taken for granted that victory would be Ravenclaw’s.
Perhaps that was why the stands were less than half full the day of the match, or perhaps it was because it was a horribly cold day.
Even Rose had refused to attend.
“It’s on the verge of snowing out there, Albus,” she said. “Besides I’ve got homework to catch up on.”
It seemed like Albus, Rasmus and Derek were the only Ravenclaw first years to brave the cold weather. There was a somewhat larger contingent of older Ravenclaws and Slytherins and almost no Hufflepuffs or Gryffindors.
To Albus’s surprise, however, James appeared behind him.
“What are you doing here?”
“It’s always worth watching all matches, Brian says. It’s a chance to pick up tips. And to examine other teams’ tactics. Not that I’m worried about Slytherin. We’ve played our most difficult match. And we beat you.”
“If we win this,” Albus asked, “will it make up for that?”
He’d been trying to figure it out. Quidditch scoring was complicated.
James shrugged. “Depends how much you win by. And how the other matches go. Brian says we shouldn’t assume we’ve won yet. You’ve a good team, he says and you could make it up, if things go well for you.”
At that moment, Madame Chang blew her whistle, signalling that the match was about to begin.
Albus snapped to attention. He really wanted Ravenclaw to win.
“Bagshot in possession,” Jordan began. “She passes to McFadden. Back to Bagshot. Passes to Williams. He’s going for goal. Can Higgs save it? No, it’s Ten-Nil to Ravenclaw.”
This time Albus had no conflict of interest. He stood and cheered with the rest of his house.
“Jones has a dilemma today,” Jordan announced. “Ravenclaw needs a definitive win to make up for their loss to Gryffindor. Catching the Snitch too soon could count against them in the overall Cup, but leave it too late and the Slytherin Seeker might beat him to it. It’s his last year at Hogwarts, so he’ll surely be hoping for the Cup…oh, Bagshot’s scored. Twenty-Nil to Ravenclaw.”
He seemed to be right about Christopher, who appeared to be focussing on distracting the Slytherin Seeker, Pallantia Borgin, rather than on actually catching the Snitch.
“He wouldn’t want to leave it too long, though,” James said from behind Albus. “If it starts snowing, finding the Snitch will get much more difficult.”
“Will they call the match off if it does?” Derek asked.
Albus and James looked at him, incredulously.
Albus shook his head. “They don’t cancel Quidditch matches just because of a little snow. James is right. Their best bet is to try and get the match finished before it does. Oh, we’ve scored again.”
He and Derek cheered madly.
The score increased quickly. Albus could see why so many people wrote Slytherin off. Higgs let the Quaffle in just about every time the Ravenclaw Chasers shot for one of the hoops.
But the Slytherin Chasers were getting just enough points that if Ravenclaw caught the Snitch, it would be only slightly better than Gryffindor’s victory in the previous match.
“The score now is Sixty-Ten to Ravenclaw,” Jordan announced. “If they catch the Snitch now, they’ll win by Two-Hundred and Ten points to Ten. Oh, Slytherin score. It’s now Sixty-Twenty. Bagshot has the Quaffle. She’s going for goal. Seventy-Twenty.”
The sky was getting even darker overhead. If the match didn’t end soon, visibility was going to become a problem.
“Jones has gone into a dive,” Jordan announced. “He’s seen the Snitch. And, he’s caught it. Ravenclaw wins, Two hundred and Twenty to Twenty.”
Albus practically jumped out of his seat. He knew the Slytherin team wasn’t supposed to be much good, but that was still a huge victory. It would have to help compensate for their loss at the hands of Gryffindor.
“We did it,” he announced to Derek.
They continued talking about their victory as they filed out of the pitch and hurried towards the school. Exciting though the match had been, Albus looked forward to getting into the warm common room.
“Hey, there’s something going on over there by the Whomping Willow,” Derek said.
Albus glanced across the grounds, wondering what would bring people out on such a cold evening.
“Should we go see what’s going on?” he asked
A large crowd of students surrounded Flitwick who was trying unsuccessfully to disperse them.
“OK, there’s nothing more to see here. The other teachers and I will be looking into this, but right now, I want you all to return to the castle.”
“But what happened to it, Sir.”
“Whose broom is it?”
Flitwick was holding a battered broom, bent in the middle, it’s twigs twisted this way and that. It looked, in Albus’s opinion, beyond repair.
There was, however, little doubt as to who owned it. Across the handle, the gold lettering that used to say “Scorpius Malfoy”, though scratched and damaged, was still visible.
“How on earth did it get over here?” Albus whispered to Derek.
They both knew where in the grounds Scorpius had hidden the broom and it was nowhere near the Whomping Willow. Maybe somebody’d been flying it and had gone off course, but if that were the case, Albus doubted they’d have escaped injury. Unless they’d jumped off in time. He supposed that was possible. They probably wouldn’t be too anxious to own up to having ridden it.
He wanted to find Rose, tell her what had happened and ask what she thought, but if they went in now, they might miss something. He didn’t think Derek would want to leave anyway.
“What happened, Professor?” somebody else asked.
“We don’t know what happened yet.” Professor Flitwick sounded slightly annoyed, which was unusual for him. “I will need to talk to the other Heads of Houses before I’ll be able to say anything more and even then, it’ll be between us and any students involved.”
“But what if somebody’s hurt, Sir? If they flew into the Whomping Willow…”
“Nobody is hurt. Now, I am about to return this to the castle. There is no point in continuing to ask these questions because I can’t tell you any more and even if I could, I probably wouldn’t.”
Some of the older students hurried after him, continuing to ask questions. Albus wouldn’t have dared do that. He was pretty sure Flitwick was about to start docking points any moment now. If it had been McGonagall or Jones, they’d already have done so.
He turned to Derek. “Will we go back?”
Derek shrugged. “Suppose. There’s not much else to see here. It’s sort of weird though, isn’t it? I’d have thought Scorpius would take better care of his broom. He seemed so proud of it.”
“What if somebody else did it?” Albus asked, thinking aloud.
“You mean somebody flew it into the tree deliberately? Or just used the broom without his permission?”
“I was thinking deliberately, but…” He shrugged. He was probably just being paranoid. There was no reason at all to believe this had been done by the same person as the graffiti. Or the Swelling Solution. He had to stop assuming everything that happened at Hogwarts was part of one big conspiracy.
His thoughts were interrupted by the beginning of a fall of sleet.
“Ugh, it’s freezing,” Derek said.
They both started running towards the castle.
It was at times like this Albus hated the eagle’s questions. Waiting outside Ravenclaw tower when you were dripping wet and couldn’t change until you got in definitely wasn’t his idea of fun.
At that moment, he really didn’t care what potion you’d never know you’d taken or however it was the eagle had phrased it.
“Have you any ideas?” Derek asked desperately.
He shook his head. “You?”
“No. I mean, if you’d taken a potion, you’d know it, wouldn’t you? Unless somebody slipped it to you or put it in your food or something. But they could do that with any potion, so it doesn’t help.”
Albus thought for a moment. “You’d know it,” he said slowly, “unless you’d forgotten.” Suddenly it hit him. “A Forgetfulness Potion.”
“Well done.” The door swung open.
Derek shook his head. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t Muggleborn. I never even heard of that potion.”
Rose wasn’t in the Ravenclaw common room when they entered. Great! Where was she now? For a moment, he debated going to look for her before changing, then decided he couldn’t bear the wet robes much longer, particularly since it could take a while to find somebody in Hogwarts. The school was huge and the fact that stairs changed places and doors sometimes refused to let you through didn’t help.
He hurried to his dormitory and changed his robes quickly, then left before Derek could ask where he was going. Not that it was a secret or anything, but he knew Rose preferred discussing some things in private.
Not that he even knew there was a mystery here, let alone if it was part of theirs.
And Derek couldn’t be involved anyway, he realised. They’d been together the whole time.
Unless the broom had been there since before the match, but that seemed unlikely. Somebody’d have noticed it on their way to the pitch. At least, he supposed they would.
When looking for Rose, the library was always the first place you should check and sure enough, there she was, working on a long essay.
“Rose,” he whispered.
“Oh, hi.” She put down her quill.
He sat down beside her.
“Wait until you hear what happened! We were coming back from the Quidditch match, right? Me and Derek. And there were a load of people gathered by the Whomping Willow. It looks like Scorpius’s broom had been flown into it or something. Anyway, it was all battered and damaged. Nobody was hurt though, at least not as far as we know. And how could you fly into the Whomping Willow without hurting yourself?”
“Are you sure someone flew it?”
“Well, no, I suppose not, but how else could it get there? It hardly flew itself.”
“Somebody could have used a Summoning Charm. Or levitation.” She paused to think for a moment. “Or they could have just thrown it, I guess.”
He liked the sound of the Summoning Charm better. That could be somebody just trying to sneak a ride on it, whereas throwing it into the Whomping Willow would have to be malicious.
“It’s more likely somebody just summoned it, right?”
“I don’t know. It’s a difficult enough charm. We won’t learn it until fourth or fifth year, I think.”
And anybody that old would have their own broom.
“So you think somebody was deliberately trying to damage it? Why would anybody do that?”
He knew it was a stupid question. People did a lot of things that didn’t seem to make sense. But he was sick of mysteries. He wanted something to have a simple, harmless explanation.
“I don’t necessarily think anything yet. But there are odd things happening around here; we both know that.”
He spotted a flaw in that logic.
“But whoever wrote that graffiti was pro-Death Eater. So why would they want to get Scorpius in trouble? His family are Death Eaters .”
“Maybe,” Rose said thoughtfully.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, well, there’s probably no connection. This is a school. Like Circe said, people sneaking around and doing things they shouldn’t isn’t that unusual. There’s no reason to think everything is connected. But I was just thinking about how Scorpius said he didn’t care what blood anybody had. Wouldn’t that make him a blood traitor?”
“So you do think there’s a Death Eater here?”
“No! No, I don’t. Not really. But the Death Eaters aren’t the only ones who care about blood purity, you know and there are definitely bigots at Hogwarts. But there’s no point in jumping to conclusions yet anyway. For all we know, Scorpius might have been messing with his broom himself and just chucked it away when he saw a teacher coming or something. Let’s wait until we hear a bit more about it all before making any decisions about what we think happened.”
Thanks to Pheonixpotioneer for reminding me that levitation should have been mentioned.
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