Chapter 17 : Chapter Seventeen: Practice Makes Perfect
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The cold November air smacked against Harry's cheek as he sped up on his Firebolt, his eyes searching the Quidditch field for the Snitch. He felt Angelina's eyes on his back, watching him carefully, which Harry tried his best to ignore. When he signed up for Quidditch for Seeker she had talked to him about his health, as a Captain should, and wanted to make sure he would be good enough to play Quidditch. Harry almost lost it at the idea of not being able to play Quidditch, and promised her right away that he would be fine to play. At the tryouts he sat with Angelina, Fred, George, and Katie, the only members left from the original Quidditch team from Harry's first year, and was surprised at a few people who showed up. A few first years came and wanted to join the team, and Angelina would of let them if they were good, and not there just to stare at Harry. A lot of people did come to tryouts, but just like the first years, they came to watch Harry, and after watching her Seeker blush under their gazes she shouted at them to leave the pitch. The people who did stay caught Harry's attention, one of them being his best friend.
"Why didn't you tell me that you were trying out?" Harry shouted at Ron over the wind as he threw a Quaffle in his direction.
"Things have been hectic lately, and I didn't want anyone to make jokes." Ron replied back, and Harry saw his eyes dart towards the twins who were hitting Bludgers with their bats.
After the tryouts Harry was delighted to find out that Ron made the team, replacing Oliver Wood, who left at the end of Harry's third year. After that Harry used his free time to show Ron the strategies the team usually used, wanting to help Ron, who was stressing over the match that was coming up against Slytherin. In the past month a lot had changed for the Wizarding World. For one, the people who had still believed Voldemort had not returned were hit with the truth, Minister Scrigomore replaced Fudge, and Death Eater activity was high.
Reports of kidnappings and murders were in the Daily Prophet every week, and Muggle's were turning up dead under the Dark Mark. It gave the Ministry a lot of work to do, and tested their new Minister as to what he would do to stop it. He was doing good so far, better than Fudge, and Harry believed it was because he used to be Head Auror, and from what Tonks had mentioned to Harry, he was very good at his job. Harry ducked as he saw a Bludger come at him out of the corner of his eye, and flatten himself against his broom before it could crack his head open.
"OI! Watch where you hit those!" Harry shouted at Fred, who grinned back.
"Then don't stay in a spot for more than five minutes daydreaming!" Fred shouted back teasingly.
Harry called Fred something nasty that he had heard Ron mutter a few times and zoomed off, searching for the Snitch once again.
"Okay class! Put your books away today, I think we've read up of strategy enough to start practicing, don't you agree?" Tonks told the class, rolling the blinds up on the windows with her wand.
Tonks rolled the sleeves up on her green robes, turning around to looked at them, and showed what she looked like today. She had a thin face with bright green eyes and dirty blonde hair that was pulled up into a pony tail, which surprised Harry, used to her normally short bubble pink hair. It was amusing at the start of term to watch peoples reactions when they saw Tonks everyday, wondering how she could change her appearance so quickly.
Sighs rang across the room as everyone put away their books, tired of all the reading they had been doing lately. Harry grinned as he grabbed his wand out of his pocket, excited for this defense lesson. Ron leaned across his desk and started whispering to Harry about what he wanted to learn, and Harry eagerly joined in, ignoring the glare Hermione sent in their direction for not paying attention to Tonks.
"Aright you lot, lets get started," Tonks said, glancing in Harry and Ron's direction, and watched as they both gave guilty grins, "Today we'll be practicing the Stunning Spell. Now as you all know, the key behind the spell is to focus on your target and your target only, don't let anything else distract you, including your target. You can't let your mind wander to what your opponent might throw at you and what your next move will be, or your spell will fail and your chances of winning will decrease. Now, I need help in moving the desks so we have room to practice."
Everyone hurried out of their desks and used simple Levitating Charms to move them against the walls, and eagerly made a circle around Tonks, then waited for her to instruct them.
"Now, just to refresh your memories, the incantation is 'Stupefy', and you just point your wand directly at your intended target. I'll demonstrate first, any volunteers?" Tonks flashed a grin at them, her eyes scanning them.
When no one volunteered Tonks picked Seamus as her target, who stood in front of her looking at her wand warily.
"You ready, Mr. Finnegan?" Tonks asked, raising her wand.
Seamus nodded his head hesitantly and closed his eyes tight, not wanting to see the spell hit him.
"Stupefy!" Tonks shouted, and the class watched as the red jet of light zoomed towards Seamus and hit him straight in the chest, and a small gasp of surprise escaped him before he collapsed to the ground unconscious.
Most of the class clapped, and just to amuse them Tonks bowed dramatically.
"I think Sirius is a bad influence on her." Ron muttered in Harry's ear, who choked back a fit of laughter.
Tonks walked over to Seamus and poked him with her wand, "See? Completely unconscious! This spell is used in combat mostly, and effectively ends a duel. Ah, I think I should of had you lot grab out mats, I think Mr. Finnegan hit his head hard.." Tonks blushed and waved her wand once again,
Seamus grumbled and opened his eyes, bringing his hand to his head and cradling it. Tonks waved her wand over his head once again and the bump forming on Seamus' head disappeared, much to his relief. After Seamus got up the class used their wands to put mats all over the floor until the whole room was covered with them. Harry and Ron partnered up together and Hermione paired with Parvarti, and they all waited for Tonks next instructions.
"You'll be taking turns in Stunning your partner, and we'll only Stun about three times, for health reasons and pride," The class laughed, "Now, what are you all waiting for? Get started you lot!"
Harry gripped his wand tightly in his hand and got into his dueling stance, and smirked at Ron across from him.
"Who's going first?" Harry asked, feeling adrenaline racing through him.
"I don't know, how about I-"
"Stupefy!" Harry yelled, his wand pointed at Ron's chest.
Harry watched in amusement as Ron's eyes widen as he realized what was about to happen, and as the spell hit him in the chest, and Harry laughed as Ron fell backwards. Hermione, who had just Stunned Parvarti, glanced over as Harry started laughing, and as she looked towards Ron she realized what happened.
"Boys." She muttered, shaking her head.
"You should of seen his face, M'ione." Harry choked out as he walked over towards Ron.
Harry could practically hear Hermione roll her eyes at him and he knelt next to Ron, and pointed his wand straight at Ron's chest. When Harry woke up Ron he backed up just in case Ron wanted to get his revenge, but instead he broke out into a fit of laughter, with Harry joining him a moment later. Harry and Ron spent the rest of the hour practicing their Stunning, joking around as they did, much to Hermione annoyance and amusement. When class ended they started towards the door, talking about the lesson.
"Mr. Potter," Tonks called, "Will you stay behind? I need to talk to you about something."
Harry nodded and waved off Ron and Hermione, who were going to wait, and told them to go to head off to Gryffindor Tower without him. When they left Harry walked over to Tonks following her up the stairs to her office. When he walked in he sat in the chair in front of Tonks desk, his eyes wondered around the office. No matter how times he had been in here already it stilled amazed him how eerily similar it looked to when Remus worked here. Tonks settled behind her desk and moved papers out of her way and clasped her hands together on top of the desk.
"I spoke to Sirius this morning," She started, catching Harry's interest, "And as you know him, Remus, and Dumbledore have been working on finding a way to destroy the locket, and they believe they found a way to destroy it."
Harry nodded his head, "Okay, did he just want you to tell me or-?"
She smiled at him, "The problem is that they can't get to it. Only someone who can speak Parseltongue can access where they need to go."
Harry's eyebrows pulled together in confusion, "What are you...? Oh!"
The Chamber of Secrets. How stupid was he?
"But what do they need from there?" Harry asked.
"They've tried everything to destroy the locket, and Dumbledore believes that Basilisk venom might be the key to destroying the locket. Dumbledore agreed to wait until a time convenient to you, he doesn't want to interfere with your studies, and he doesn't know how long it will take."
Harry tried to remember how much homework he had this weekend, and when he did figure it out he contemplated how long it would take to do.
"If I finish my work today and part of tomorrow I could do it tomorrow evening." Harry told her.
"Are you sure? It's your Saturday, don't you want to spend it with your friends?" Tonks questioned.
Harry smiled, "Don't worry about me Tonks, I'm sure my friends can handle not being around me for a few hours."
Tonks laughed a moment and then chewed on her lower lip, "What about you? Will you be able to handle it?" She asked.
Harry smile became forced, "I'm tired of people worrying over me, Tonks, it's been three months, I'm fine."
"Harry," Tonks said with a sigh, "Your just a fifteen year old kid, and a very good one, of course I'll worry. I saw you when you came back from him, and no one would be fine after that. I know that you must be annoyed with the constant watching and worry, but suck it up, because we won't stop."
Harry sighed and ran his hands through his wild hair, and gave a nod of defeat, "I guess your right." He muttered.
"Of course I'm right Harry, you'll learn one way or the other that all girls are right. Remember that." Tonks said with a wink.
Harry let out a snort and shook his head, rising out of his chair.
Harry felt someone inch closer to him as he signed his name on his paper, and set it in the pile of homework near his elbow. Looking up, he saw Hermione, who was looking at the pile in awe.
"You never do your homework until the last minute like Ron, what's going on?" She asked, sitting next to him at the table.
Harry glanced around the library and found only a handful of people scattered around, reading, or like him, finishing their homework.
"Nothing, Dumbledore needs me to help with something and I told him I would do it today after I finished my work. Why aren't you with Ron? Or Ginny for that matter?"
Hermione sat down in the chair next to Harry and grabbed the top piece of parchment off his pile of homework and started to read it, giving a small sigh as she did.
"Ron and I got into an argument earlier, and Ginny is working on a project for Flitwick's class. Is there anything I could help you with before you have to go?" Hermione asked, placing his homework back in its pile.
Harry smiled, finishing up a question on his Transfiguration homework, "No, this is my last paper and I'm just about done. I feel bad about leaving you alone on a Saturday night."
Hermione gave a wave of her hand, "It's not a problem, I want to catch up on my reading since I haven't the time lately."
Harry nodded, and they both sat in silence while Harry finished up his homework, and Hermione helped him pack everything away. After muttering a 'thank you', he and Hermione walked out of the library together.
"I'll see you when you get back, Harry. Good luck." Hermione told him, giving him a warm smile as she made her down the hall and turned the corner, making her way to the Common Room.
Harry smiled to himself as he turned down the hall to his left, glad that Hermione didn't bother him with questions of what he was about to do, because he found himself not wanting anyone else to know. Losing himself in his thoughts, minutes felt like seconds as he found himself standing at the entrance to Dumbledore's office.
The gargoyles leaped out of his way, and slowly Harry made his way up to Dumbledore's office. When Harry entered the office he greeted everyone, but the female standing next to Remus caught him by surprise.
"Tonks?" He questioned, his green eyes lingering on her.
She gave him a smirk, "I've heard stories about your great adventure into the Chamber of Secrets and want to see which story is actually true." She explained, the smirk remaining on her face.
Harry felt his own smile tug at his lips, "Prepared to be amazed."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he watched the playful banter, noticing the slight tension in Harry's shoulders loosen, but after a few minutes he cleared his throat, drawing their attention to him.
"Well then, I have everything I believe we will need on my desk, and I also believe we all are ready to leave?" They all nodded. "Good, the Chamber awaits us."
Dumbledore grabbed the locket first and handed it to Sirius, who gripped it so tightly in his hand that his knuckle quickly turned white, a look of determination set on his pale, altered face. Dumbledore then grabbed a heavy looking sword Harry instantly recognized as the Sword of Gryffindor.
"Sir?" Harry asked, pointing towards the sword.
"I have a theory I would like to test down in the Chamber." He replied.
Harry nodded and moved closer to Sirius and Remus, who both were waiting with Tonks quietly. When Dumbledore had everything they needed they quietly made their way down the stairs and into the hallway.
"I'm surprised you were allowed the come." Harry muttered quietly to Sirius, who gave a short laugh and tucked a piece of his long blonde hair behind his ear.
"I'm just as surprised as you, pup. I'm glad I'm here though, anymore time in that damn house and I would of gone stir crazy." Sirius responded.
"Too late for the crazy part." Remus muttered under his breath.
Harry snorted and watched as Sirius kicked Remus' ankle, which made the werewolf stumble and place a hand on the wall next to him.
"Do you all need to act so immature?" Tonks asked in amusement.
"Yes." They all replied at once.
They all then stopped as they reached the entrance to the girls toilets, and only Tonks and Dumbledore continued in after a moment. Sirius, Remus and Harry all looked at each other, sharing uneasy looks and scanning the hallways for any one watching.
"For Merlin's sake! It isn't like none of you haven't been somewhere you shouldn't of been before." Tonks hissed. "Especially you Harry! I know for a fact you've been in here more than once.
Harry blushed at the reminder and quickly entered the bathroom, going over to the sinks and telling Dumbledore what he was looking for. He quickly found the snake faucet and stroked it, and Sirius and Remus finally entered the bathroom, watching him quietly.
"Is everyone ready?" Harry asked, looking over his shoulder at them.
"Continue, Harry." Dumbledore said as the rest nodded.
Harry concentrated on the snake, willing himself to believe it was real.
"Open up." He hissed in Parseltongue, making Sirius shiver behind him.
Harry stepped back as the sink turned into the entrance to the Chamber, and turned to look at the adults behind him with a small smile.
"Welcome to the Chamber of Secrets."
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