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Chapter 9 : The Ravenclaw Seeker.
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Rose didn’t usually approve of hexing people, but in this case, she couldn’t say she blamed James. She’d have been tempted to do the same if she’d seen people cursing Remus’s memorial. And considering how close to Remus Uncle Harry had been, James probably felt even more strongly about it than she did.
She wondered what Neville would say when he heard. Surely he’d understand. He’d fought at Remus’s side, after all; he’d been there at the battle where Remus and Tonks were killed. He’d have to understand how people might feel seeing their memory jeered.
But he was a teacher and she supposed he’d have to be seen to be fair.
James, unsurprisingly, didn’t seem too concerned when he stopped by the Ravenclaw table the following morning.
“It was worth it,” he told Albus. “After all, what’s a detention more or less? And I could hardly let him disrespect Remus’s memory like that, could I?
She leaned over to speak to him.
“What did Neville say?”
James laughed. “Not much, to be honest. I got the impression he agreed they deserved it, though of course he couldn’t say so. We’ve to spend our detention helping Hagrid prepare for our next Care of Magical Creatures lesson, which we’d probably have done anyway.”
Rose laughed along with him. She was quite sure Neville was aware exactly how much of a punishment helping Hagrid would be.
“Not disapproving, Rose? That’s not like you.”
“Well, they did deserve it.” She glared across at the Slytherin table, where the three miscreants were sitting. They seemed rather more subdued than James and Rose hoped Professor Sinistra had dealt with them more severely. “Did Neville say anything at all?”
“Just that duelling in the hallways is never the way to deal with things and we should have reported what they were doing to a teacher. He didn’t say it with much conviction though. Think he knew there wasn’t a hope of us doing that.”
“I’m glad you didn’t get in too much trouble,” Albus said.
“Huh, think I care about trouble, little bro. Anyway, I’ve a breakfast to eat and I’ve spent far too much time with you midgets already. Toodle-oo.”
“Toodle-oo.” Rose stared after him and shook her head. “He only came over here to boast about avoiding trouble.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Albus didn’t appear to be really listening to her. “I wonder if Hilda’ll put up the team list today.”
She grinned at him. “Thought you didn’t really care.”
He shrugged. “Well, I know I haven’t much hope and I’ve already done way better than I expected, but you never know, right? I still have a chance.”
“A very good one, mate.” Derek thumped him on the shoulder. “She’d be crazy not to choose you. No offence, Rasmus.”
“None taken.” Rasmus shrugged.
“I can’t check until this afternoon anyway,” Albus continued, almost to himself. “I could never answer the eagle’s question quickly enough to nip up there at lunch.”
“She’ll hardly put it up then anyway,” Rasmus said. “You really think she’s going to spend her lunchtime trying to figure out the eagle’s riddle, so she can post the team list? She does want to eat too, you know.”
“I suppose,” Albus mumbled. “But she’s a sixth year; she’d probably figure it out a lot quicker than we would. I mean she’s had more practice.”
“Not sure how much good that is.” Fionnuala appeared to have been listening for once. “I haven’t noticed them getting any easier in the year we’ve been here.”
“Well, maybe if you listened to the question properly,” Rose teased her. “And didn’t give answers like ‘because I’m going to be late if you don’t let me in’.”
“Well, I was completely stuck.”
Dora glanced across disdainfully.
“How exactly did you ever end up in Ravenclaw?”
“More to the point, how did you?” Rose retorted before Fionnuala could answer.
Fionnuala, however, seemed to be actively considering the question.
“How does anybody?” she asked finally. “I mean, how does the hat judge intelligence? Is it just schoolwork?”
Derek buried his head in his hands. “Oh, don’t start off with those questions now, Fionnuala. You should be good at those riddles, you know. Half of what you say is a riddle itself.”
“She might be,” Rose said, “if she ever fully listened to the question.”
“I start listening,” Fionnuala said. “But then I start thinking of something else. Like when it asked that question about Devil’s Snare, you remember and I started thinking how you could create light to repel it if you didn’t have your wand.”
“But why would you think about that?” Derek asked. “Just make sure you’ve your wand with you at all times. Or you know, avoid Devil’s Snare.”
“It could have been taken from you,” Fionnuala said thoughtfully. “Somebody could have used a Disarming Charm and the Devil’s Snare could have been placed there strategically in order to kill you. Or even just to hold you captive. You know how we’re always being reminded of the importance of defence.”
“Come on.” Rasmus sighed. “We’ll be late for Defence if we’re not careful.”
Throughout the day, Rose noticed Albus’s attention was elsewhere. Both Jones and Flitwick scolded him for not paying attention.
“Sorry,” he apologised to both Professors.
Albus hated being told off. She didn’t enjoy it much herself, but it didn’t bother her like it did him.
She grinned at him sympathetically and he smiled back nervously. She’d no doubt he was trying to focus, but the possibility of making the team was playing too strongly on his mind. Despite what he said, she was quite certain he’d already imagined himself catching the Snitch and securing the Cup for Ravenclaw.
“I hope today’s riddle won’t be too hard,” he said worriedly as they finally headed back to Ravenclaw tower that evening.
“Look, either you’ve made the team or you haven’t. Waiting a few moment longer won’t make any difference.”
“I know, but I just want to get it over with. Though in a way, I don’t, because I know I’m going to be disappointed, but at least once I know, it’ll be over.” He took a deep breath.
“You realise that makes no sense.”
They reached the top of the stairway and Rose rapped on the knocker.
“What potion is most powerful when not used?”
Rose stared at it, thinking rapidly. Most powerful when not used. What could be powerful when not used?
“Love potions?” Albus whispered doubtfully. “Because love is more powerful if you love the person without anything making you?”
“A logical answer.”
The door swung open and Albus dashed into the common room. It was practically empty and there was nothing on the notice board that hadn’t been there previously.
His face fell. “Oh well.” Then he brightened. “At least now I can pretend I might actually be chosen for a while longer.”
He only had a short while to wait. Moments later, Hilda entered the common room, with a list in her hand.
Albus made to get up, but Rose grabbed him and pulled him back down.
“Let her post it first. You don’t want to look too eager.”
“Yeah, I suppose it’d be embarrassing to run into her when she’d just turned me down.”
Anxiously, he waited until she’d posted it and then rushed over to the board.
“Oh my God! I’m on the team! Rose, Derek, I’m on the team!”
It seemed as if all the second year Ravenclaws, apart from Dora, surrounded him in an instant.
“Well done.” Derek slapped him on the back.
“Do any of the other houses have a second year on their team?” Nathan asked.
Nobody answered him. His question seemed to get lost in the excitement.
“You are going to have absolutely no free time,” Rasmus predicted. “Hilda seems to spend every waking moment at practice.”
“Make sure you get the Snitch in every match,” Angie said. “It would be so cool to have a second year beat all the older Seekers.”
Albus bit his lip. “I’ll try, but you know, they probably all have way more experience than me.”
He was looking slightly overawed, as if he might even be wondering if this was what he really wanted after all.
“You’ll have to write to your parents,” Rose said. “They are going to be so proud. My dad’ll be delighted too. If he can’t have a daughter playing Quidditch, a couple of nephews are the next best thing.”
“You don’t think they’ll be disappointed I’m not playing for Gryffindor?”
She sighed. “You know they don’t care about that. They’ll just be proud you’ve made the team. The only problem they might have is feeling sorry for James when you beat him.”
“Can we?” Albus glanced around and his eyes came to rest on Rasmus, who shrugged.
“Hilda thinks we can. If we get a good Seeker and none of the other teams find anybody spectacular. We won the Cup last year after all.”
Albus paled slightly and Rose thought she could guess what he was thinking. What if he wasn’t good enough? What if he ruined their chances?
“Look,” she said sternly. “Hilda wouldn’t have chosen you if she didn’t think you were good enough, right Rasmus?”
“Now, we should celebrate your selection. I’ve some chocolate frogs my mum sent me.” She glanced around. “Has anybody else any goodies they can share?”
“My mum gave me some crisps to take back with me,” Derek said. “And some bullseyes.”
“I’ve think I’ve some jelly slugs,” Nathan said. “And maybe a few sugar mice, if I haven’t eaten them all. I’ll go and look.”
“We should all go up to your dormitory, actually,” Rose suggested. “Give ourselves a chance to hear ourselves think.”
They gathered in the second year boys’ dormitory and Nathan rummaged for his sweets, tipping over a large pile of books and boxes in the process.
“Ouch,” he muttered, as a book hit him on the head.
Rose stared at him. “Do you even try to keep your things organised?”
“Yeah. It’s just no matter how well I try and organise them, they somehow seem to end up looking like this again by the next day.”
“Gremlins,” Derek suggested.
Nathan, Rasmus, Fionnuala and Albus stared at him.
“They’re a kind of imaginary creature Muggles blame things like that on.”
“Here they are!” Nathan held up two packs of sweets triumphantly. “Oh, there isn’t really much, is there?”
Both packs were half empty.
“I think I’ve some Fizzing Whizbees,” Fionnuala said. “I’ll go and look.”
“Pity we’re not old enough for Hogsmeade.” Nathan sighed. “I’ve heard you can get all sorts there.”
“The first weekend isn’t until the end of October anyway,” Rose pointed out. “So it wouldn’t do us much good.”
“What’s Hogsmeade like?” Angie asked. “Anything like Diagon Alley. No, I guess it wouldn’t be. Diagon Alley’s in London and Hogsmeade’s just a village.”
“Yeah, we know you’re a Londoner.” Derek rolled his eyes.
“Weasleys have a second branch in Hogsmeade,” Rose told her. “And there’s this sweetshop, Honeydukes, which sells the most amazing sweets. And a bookshop, Tomes and Scrolls and a couple of pubs and cafes and this fish and chip place that’s supposed to serve delicious food.”
Nathan lay back on the floor. “I can’t wait for next year.”
“Me neither,” Derek said. “An all-wizarding village sounds so cool.”
“It’ll be a chance to get out of here anyway,” Angie said. “I mean, I love Hogwarts, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so weird to be cooped up on the grounds all year round. I’d love a chance to explore.”
“Where would you go first if we were allowed into the village this year?” Rose asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t really know what’s there. That sweetshop sounds pretty good though.”
“That would definitely be my first stop,” Nathan said.
“Mine would be Tomes and Scrolls,” Rasmus said. “Don’t you agree, Rose?”
She nodded. “I’d love a look around that. What about you, Albus?”
“Maybe Weasleys or the Quidditch Supplies store.”
They continued chatting, eating and playing with Albus’s little Quidditch game until eventually Rasmus stood up.
“Sorry to break up the party, but I’ve some homework to make a start on and I doubt I’m the only one.”
“You’re right, Rasmus,” Rose admitted reluctantly. “We really should do some work.”
Albus fidgeted. “Do you think I’ve time to send my parents a quick owl first?”
Rose laughed. “I doubt you’ll be able to concentrate until you have anyway.”
“I’ll just write a couple of lines.”
He scribbled them down quickly.
Albus and Rose were finishing off some homework early the following morning when three letters of congratulations arrived, one from each of his parents and one from Lily.
“She says she can’t wait until she can try out for the team herself,” Albus said, after reading Lily’s letter. “I think she’ll be chosen, don’t you?”
“Sorry, Albus, I really need to get this done.”
“Yeah, I should finish the last few lines of my Potions essay. Fairfax does give difficult tasks, doesn’t he?”
She nodded. “But they’re always ones we’ll can learn something from. I mean, he doesn’t set essays just for the sake of it. He sets ones that really help us understand the potions we’re brewing.”
“I suppose so,” Albus agreed. “He really knows his potions, doesn’t he?”
She nodded again, her mind already returning to the essay she was writing for Defence Against the Dark Arts. It wasn’t due in until the following day, but she wanted to get as much as possible done by breakfast. Otherwise she’d be snowed under with work that evening.
Eventually, however, she had to put it aside and go downstairs to eat.
James was waiting for them at the Ravenclaw table.
“Twice in two days, James,” Rose teased him. “We’re honoured.”
“So you should be, cuz, so you should be.” He slapped Albus on the back. “Well done, kiddo. I knew you had it in you. Pity you’re going to be utterly pulverised when you meet us, isn’t it?
“You’d never know, we might even beat you,” Albus said weakly.
“Not a chance of it. You were lucky last year, I’ll admit that, but you won’t do it again. Brian has a whole new range of tactics planned for us and we’ll be practicing in all weathers. By the time our next match takes place, we’ll be utterly unbeatable.”
“Nobody’s unbeatable,” Rose pointed out, before Albus got even more nervous.
“What would you know? You don’t even play.”
“I know because it makes no sense. You can’t possibly predict every single variable that could affect the outcome.”
“Yeah, yeah, you just wait and see. We’ll be leaving you in the dust.”
He headed for the Gryffindor table.
“Do you think he’s right about our not having a chance of beating them?” Albus asked nervously.
“NO! I think he’s boasting. This is James after all. You know he’d say that stuff one way or the other.”
“I know, but…what if I make a mess of this, Rose? I might, you know.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do. You’ll be great, Albus. That I do know.”
Their first practice was the following Friday and Albus pleaded with Rose to accompany him to the pitch.
“I’ll feel less nervous if you’re there.”
“OK,” she agreed easily.
Watching practice was boring.. At least in a match, there were scores and you were waiting to find out who won. All they seemed to do in practice was fly around and pass the balls back and forth a bit.
But if it made Albus any less nervous, she was happy to watch. Or at least pretend to. After the first few minutes, she didn’t really pay much attention.
From what she’d seen, though, he seemed to do OK. It was hard enough to tell as the Seeker didn’t really interact too much with the rest of the team.
“Did I do OK, do you think?” he asked afterwards.
“Really?” He sounded doubtful.
“I’m probably not the best person to ask. After all, I’m hardly an expert on Quidditch. But you looked fine to me. And Hilda’d have said something if you were doing anything wrong, wouldn’t she?”
He bit his lip. “She made Jason and Mark redo those Bludger passes about four times, but maybe she was just going easy on me because I’m new, you know?”
“I doubt that. The first match is in October, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, against Slytherin.”
“So she’d want you to have as much time as possible to improve on any bad habits before that.”
“I suppose so.”
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