Chapter 3 : Soaring Into First
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“Wow! I hope we get to explore the grounds on the brooms, maybe fly through the forest---” Albus broke off as Rose gasped, and looked at him incredulously.
“Albus Severus Potter. You heard Headmaster Flitwick at the feast didn’t you?” Albus nodded reluctantly. “ Those woods are out of bounds to anybody under their fourth year! You might be expelled for going in there...” Rose continued on, astonished that James, on his first day, would begin to break school rules. “ Well. I guess we better get going then, don’t want to be late for the lesson.”
Rose led Albus out of the Gryffindor common room, stopping only to apologize to the Fat Lady for disturbing her sleep. “ Hey Thor!” Called Albus, as he sighted his large friend heading towards the common room. “Listen, me and Rose were just heading down to the First Year Flying Lesson. Do you want to come?”
Thor grinned. Flying was one of the things that he appreciated most about being a wizard. “ Yeah! Listen, do you think that they will let us explore around a bit in this lesson? I really want to venture into the woods. My dad’s been telling me all about it.”
He gave Albus a grin, while Rose, turning away from them, muttered something about expulsions, and hurried off by herself. Albus laughed. Rose was a lot like her mom, Hermione. They were both exceptionally bright, but tended to use their intelligence towards schoolwork, while the rest of the family was very much geared towards excitement, and mischief. Albus and Thor then hurried after her, determined to arrive on time to the lesson.
“Sorry Professor,” Gasped Albus, “We ran into some trouble, Peeves told us that the class was meeting in the Astronomy tower.” The rest of the class laughed, including Professor Wood, who was the newly appointed Professor of Athletics at Hogwarts.
“Peeves. He hasn’t changed since I was here many years ago. Anyway, welcome to Broomstick 101.” Wood said lightly. “I was just letting your classmates know some very vital information. Firstly, you only fly when I instruct you to, and also the Forbidden Forest is out of bounds for this session.” He glanced sternly at the two boys, who nodded, attempting to appear innocent. “ Right, now who knows how to fly? I’ll give 10 points to whomever can name the first step to using a Broomstick.”
Rose’s hand shot up immediately. Wood smiled, impressed by the young student’s enthusiasm, and then called on her. “According to A Basic Guide to Flying, by Jeff Meole, the first step of flying is to call ‘up’ at your broom, in an attempt to make it rise into your hands.” Rose’s answer, of course being right from a textbook. “ Yes! Ten points to Gryffindor for the answer, and another ten for learning ahead.” Professor Wood was generous, and unlike the previous head of Gryffindor House, he was not afraid to favorite them.
“Now,” Professor Wood said cheerfully, with a giant grin, “ Who’s ready to fly?” A large cheer rang up from the group, and Wood laughed, excited to see so many young students enjoy the activity that he loved.
Wood then beckoned for the first years to follow him down to the Quidditch pitch to grab their brooms. “Today our goal is safety. We are just going to cover the basics, and then next week we will proceed on to learn more challenging maneuvers, and really test your skill!” The group then rounded into the pitch, and marveled at the site before them. “Those goalposts are almost as tall as Hagrid!” Called a boy jokingly, whom Albus recognized as Ernie of Ravenclaw, drawing a round of laughs from the group. Albus looked up at the goals stunned, just as Ernie said, they sure were tall.
“Will everyone please grab a broom, and then proceed to line up in the middle of the pitch.” Ordered Wood. “It is extremely important that you follow all the instructions that I give you, because these instructions will help you maintain safety on your broom. Am I clear students?” The class nodded at once, eager to mount their brooms. “All right then. First task is for everyone to command their brooms to rise into the air. Remember, the order is ‘Up’. Secondly, once that task is accomplished, you will all rise into the air, and head forward to the second blue line.” Most of the class nodded, but a few gasped, shocked that they were expected to perform so well.
Ernie, one of the students who appeared to be afraid of the brooms, approached Professor Wood. “Excuse me Professor,” He asked shyly, “But I’ve never flown before and I was just wondering if---”
Wood cut Ernie off with an angry shout. “Wondering WHAT? Confidence is the number one necessity in flying. If anybody else has any concerns about flying, they can leave now, and learn somewhere else.” The students all glanced around at each other, wondering who would leave. After a few seconds, Ernie shrugged, and left the class. Calming down a bit, Wood strode back towards them, and told them, “If there are a few things that will not be tolerated in this course, they are quitting, whining, and back talking. After class please remind Mr. Alston about his detention tomorrow night, and also five points from Ravenclaw. Now will everyone please continue with their assignments.” The class, still eager to fly, ran over to their brooms.
“Hey look Albus, I’ve got a Firebolt!” Thor, had just gotten his broom to rise into his hand, and was admiring the handiwork. The original Firebolt, while now outdated, was a very rare, and valuable broom in the wizarding community. Albus looked up in surprise, “ A real Firebolt! Wow! Imagine taking that thing into the Forbidden Forest, it still has the best turning in the world!”
Just then Professor Wood flew by. “ Well, boys? Are you gonna just chat around about flying all day, or actually attempt it?” Thor grinned, “Sorry Professor, it’s just that this is a magnificent broom. Getting back to work right away, sir.”
Thor quickly mounted his broom, and pushed off of the ground, and sailed effortlessly over to the second blue line, around fifteen feet from where they initially mounted the brooms. “All right!” Thor yelled, excited to be back on a broomstick, as he hadn’t been able to ride since his Hogwarts letter had arrived back in July. “You forget how to ride Albus? It’s okay, nobody else can either.” Albus looked around, and saw it was true. Only Thor had managed to successfully make it across. Angry at Thor for his jest, he pushed off strong, and sailed very smoothly over to the second line. He gave Thor a smirk, and then looked back just in time to view Rose tip over, halfway across the gap.
Professor Wood looked slightly upset at the group’s progress as he blew his whistle to signal that they should return to their starting position. “Right. Well that was a decent first lesson, all of you managed to get your brooms to respond to your command of ‘Up’. Now will you please return to the castle, and enjoy lunch!” The class cheered, and after thanking Professor Wood, rushed off towards the castle
“Oh!” Called Wood from behind Albus. “Albus, and Thor can I speak to you please?” The boys looked at each other, regretting that they had spent so much time discussing brooms, and not paying attention. “Blimey Thor. I don’t fancy detention on my first weekend here.” Whispered Albus, and he received a somber nod from Thor in return. “Great work today boys. I’m impressed with your flying.” Wood smiled at the boys. “I see you were expecting detention. No, don’t apologize for what you think you did, I have a suggestion for you.” Wood looked at them, his expression going serious. “Quidditch tryouts are tomorrow. I suggest you attend. Gryffindor is in need of future players, and with the newly formed JV teams, you guys could get the practice you need.” The boys looked confused. “Um Professor...?” asked both the boys at once. “Are you sure?” Wood laughed, and replied, perfectly seriously, “Of course. Good luck!”
As Albus jogged towards the castle to join the students for lunch, he couldn’t help but think that he was truly soaring into his first year.