Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 10 – Perfect Sense
Harry opened his eyes and blinked several times, slowly waking up. Still not fully cognizant, he raised his hands and absently rubbed the sleep from his eyes before reaching to the bedside table for his glasses. Where did I put them? he wondered as his questing fingers failed to find the spectacles where they should be. Turning his head he looked to the table as much as he could with it being a rather white blur due to not having his glasses. The movement of turning his head set off a painful throbbing in his head that saw him quickly returning his head to its former position before closing his eyes. It was only then that he took stock of his current surrounding.
Tentatively opening his eyes slowly, he saw that the ceiling above him was at a far greater distance than it should have been were he still in the Slytherin boy's dormitory. It was also the wrong color, being a rather bright white whereas the dormitory was typically bathed in a pale greenish hue, as were most things within Slytherin House. Without his glasses to help him see, everything close to him was little more than a colored blur, though even most of that was white in nature. Given his reclining position and the fact that he could feel the covers over him, he quickly came to the conclusion that he was lying in a bed. Where and who's were questions as yet unanswered. Well, at least I didn't have to sleep on the couch again, he thought, grateful for that fact.
Glancing about as much as one could without moving their head he could see that he was surrounded by blindly bright white walls on all sides except for a small opening towards the foot of his bed. The bright light hurt his eyes and caused his head to throb painfully. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself and lifted his head far enough to look through the opening he had seen, in an attempt to determine where exactly he was.
"Great. I'm in the hospital again," he said softly to himself as he dropped his head back onto the pillow and waited for the wave of dizziness that had assaulted him to pass. Lying there he tried to recall how he had come to be lying in a bed in the hospital wing of Hogwarts once again. The young wizard was somewhat relieved that he at least knew where he was at, though he remained perplexed on how he had gotten there.
There was the astronomy class with Professor Sinistra. I was there with Hermione, Daphne and Tracey, he recalled. Harry remembered the events that transpired out beneath the stars and still found it hard to believe. Whatever am I going to do? I don't know what to do with a single friend and now suddenly I have three. Four possibly as I somehow doubt that Blaise will want to be left out of our group. Daphne said he was an Outsider as well after all.
Harry wasn't certain about the dark skinned boy. The once and only time he had trusted someone to be his friend had been a boy at his primary school. That had turned out disastrously for him. He realized that while he still had fears with the three witches from last night, he was at least marginally accepting of them for the simple fact that they were girls. Of his three relatives his aunt had been the least mean to him, though not by any great degree. Still it left him with a kinder disposition towards females in general. I think I'll have to think about Blaise a bit more before I can decide, he realized.
What do friends do together? The young wizard pondered that question for several long moments, forgetting that he still had no clue as why he was once again in the Hogwarts Hospital wing. That's right! he suddenly realized that they were to meet to work on their Astronomy homework today. So perhaps friends study together?
I don't think I recall Dudley ever studying with his friends. The more Harry pondered that the more he began to realize that he had never actually seen his cousin studying, ever. Perhaps that was why his grades are so poor. Harry had poor grades in school as well, at least as far as his aunt and uncle knew he did.
It was during his first year of schooling that Harry had learned that doing well in school was a sure way to a right smart bottom. He had been so proud of his first test, having gotten all the answers correct. The teacher had even drawn a star and smiley face next to the grade. The young Harry had carried the paper all the way home just certain that his aunt and uncle would finally be proud of him for once. He thought he even might get a hug from his aunt, something she seemed to give quite often to his cousin but never to him. Maybe even uncle Vernon will let me sit at the table for dinner, he recalled hoping at the time, though knowing something like that would never happen.
Uncle Vernon was in a foul mood upon arriving home that day, afact Harry missed altogether being excited about his test score. Unknown to the small child was the fact that earlier that day the school had called to speak with Vernon concerning the poor performance of his son Dudley. The boy had been involved in several altercations with other students and had refused to do the school work assigned as homework. Due to this there was a very good possibility that Dudley would be held back a year. The school administrator had even suggested that the boy might need special classes for the learning impaired.
The rather large form of his uncle was seated in his usual chair in the family sitting room, reading the evening paper when Harry had arrived at 4 Privet Drive that day. If the young boy had thought for a moment he would have realized something was off as his uncle was never home before the boys came home from school. The elder Dursley had been so angered by the call from the school that he had left work early, fearful he might snap at someone there and get in trouble. "Uncle Vernon," Harry said upon reaching the seated man. "The teacher from school said I should give you this. That you'd want to see it."
"She did, did she?" Vernon snapped back, having lowered his newspaper to shoot the boy a menacing glare due to being interrupted."I've about had my fill of teachers for one day, boy!" the large man growled as he snatched the paper from Harry's small hand. As the man looked at the test, with its smiley face and high score, his face slowly turned an angry red with shades of splotchy purple. "This is all you're doing then is it?Some of your freakiness?"
Harry, still not certain just what exactly the adults meant when they said freakiness none the less shook his head, having learned denial was the best course of action. "No, Sir. I worked really hard. The teacher said I shou-" The meaty backhand across his face sent him flying as well as ended whatever he was about to tell his uncle. The young child of six landed stunned and dazed upon the floor only just having missed hitting his head against the end table. Asmall trickle of blood ran from his split lip into his mouth leaving adistinctive iron taste we was becoming all too familiar with these days.
"You used your freakiness to make our Dudley look bad, didn't you Freak!" Vernon accused as he pulled his bulk from the chair, hauling himself to his feet. "Thought it would be great fun to make our boy look stupid while you come out looking like a bloody genius, did you! You've probably got that teacher of yours charmed and eating out your hand as well," Vernon said as he unclasped his belt, pulled it off only to fold it back upon itself to be held in one hand. "I'll beat the bloody freakiness right out of you if that's what it takes!"
Harry's young mind was a whirl of pain and confusion. But I did good! I got the highest score in the class! You're supposed to be proud of me! These thoughts did little to stop the heavy leather strap as it made contact with his bare bottom repeatedly even as he tried in vain to get free of his uncles grasp to avoid the blows.
Later, once the tears had stopped and he was locked within his cupboard, once again without dinner, he came to the conclusion that doing well in school wasn't bad, but letting his relatives know about it was. The Dursleys never again saw anything from the boy's school. Anything requiring a signature he merely signed for them. As he grew older the passive aggressive side of him saw to it that he did the best he could in school. If the Dursleys disliked him being smart and excelling academically then that was exactly what he was going to do.
Harry sighed as he realized that he was getting off topic and forced his mind once more to return to the problem at hand. With a Herculean effort he wrest his thoughts back from those darker memories of his past. He knew that if he dwelled on them too long he would only grow more depressed with his life than he already was. Where was I? Oh yes, astronomy.
We walked Hermione home, he recalled feeling his cheeks warm slightly at the memory of her fierce hug when they parted. Then we made our way to the Slytherin common room and said our goodnights. The young man felt his cheek blaze into a full on blush upon recalling the hugs from Tracey and Daphne. Why did Daphne kiss me? he pondered even as one hand came up and touched his cheek where the blonde witch's lips had brushed up against his skin. I've never been kissed before. Why would she do that?Harry thought that it might possibly be how friends said goodbye only to realize that the other two witches hadn't kissed him on the cheek.
The dark haired wizard pondered the blonde witch's actions for several moments before recalling that she had thanked him for being there for her. Is that how friends say thank you to each other? I don't really remember doing anything.
He recalled two older students he had seen in an out of the way corner once. I wonder what one of them had to do to be thanked in such a manner as that? While Daphne's lips had only briefly touched his cheek, the two students he witnessed were locked lips to lips and had stayed that way long enough for the boy to grow concerned that they might pass out from lack of oxygen. When they had finally parted both had been breathing exceedingly hard and were red in the face. Seeing that they would apparently be alright, he had hurried away before being seen. I doubt I would ever do something big enough to deserve a 'Thank You' of that nature, he reasoned.
After saying goodbye to the girls, Harry recalled having gone to his own bed in the boy's dormitory only to find, thankfully, that it was clean once again. After a fairly good night's sleep he had gone through his morning routine of a shower and dressing before heading to the great hall for breakfast. Even though he had only slept for three hours he still felt refreshed enough to face another day. It was just as he was finishing up his apple that he was approached by a much older boy.
"Potter?" the boy asked once he had drawn near. Harry simply nodded once as his mouth was full of food at the time and he didn't want to be impolite. The boy was tall, rather well built with short dark hair, large prominent front teeth and shifty grey eyes. "Names Flint. Marcus Flint. Professor Snape says I'm to see to you this morning. Come with me," Flint said before turning away and striding off without looking back to see if the first year Slytherin was following him or not.
Harry quickly took a last bite of his meal as he stood and hastened after the older boy, pausing only long enough to toss the partially eaten apple into a bin as they left the great hall of Hogwarts before heading outside.I wonder what Professor Snape has intended for my detention? he mused silently to himself as he hurried to keep up with the older boy's fast gait.
"Here, this is for you," Marcus said as he passed afolded piece of parchment to the younger boy. "That is a writ from Professor Snape giving you permission to fly whenever you're not in classes. Isuggest you get as much practice in as you can, Potter. Quidditch matches can be pretty brutal if you're not careful."
"…I'm sorry. I'm afraid I don't understand," Harry stammered as they hurried along. "What does Quidditch matches have to do with me?" he enquired of the older boy. Perhaps Professor Snape wants me to help clean the Slytherin team's gear as my detention. It only made sense to the younger boy that he would have to test out the brooms once they were cleaned and serviced which would be why, as a first year, he would need a Professor's permission.
Marcus just smirked, his grey eyes shifting for a sidelong glance at the small boy hurrying to keep up with him. "You'll find out soon enough, Potter," was the fifth year's reply as he quickened his pace so that Harry had to nearly jog to keep from trailing behind.
They quickly made their way out the castle and through one of the numerous courtyards which let out upon a sloping hill. Far below them Harry could see a rather oval area fenced off all around its outer perimeter. Evenly spaced about the outer edge of the oval area were roughly a dozen and a half wooden towers stretching into the air a good ways above the enclosure. Harry quickly surmised it was some sort of playing field. It didn't take long for him to realize that this was The Pitch which Blaise spoke of in such reverent tones.
Marcus led Harry through a wide open tunnel which let out upon the inner field where there were several other Slytherin members waiting for them. Harry noted that though they were dressed in the House colors of green, their robes were different being far thicker than the average robes worn every day at school. Each member also wore large gloves that seemed to have heavy padding on the backsides as well as what looked to be protective guards strapped to their shins.
"'Bout bloody time, Flint," a tall dark haired boy spoke up upon spotting the two new arrivals making their way over. "It's not bad enough you have to call us out here this early in the morning for an unscheduled practice, but then you can't even show up on time yourself!" the boy said with a sneer of poorly disguised contempt at his team mate."Can't help but wondering what you did for 'ole Snape to get him to appoint you as team captain. A little extracurricular activity I'll wager," he offered up with a suggestive leer that brought chuckles from the others present.
"Shut yer trap Pucey," Marcus barked heatedly, "or we can talk about how you managed to be found naked in the Prefect bathroom last year with three older boys!" The boy Harry now knew as Pucey turned alivid shade of red but held his tongue. He had a few drinks of fire whiskey with the seventh year Prefect and two of his friends that evening. To this day he couldn't recall any details of the events that had occurred within the large spacious bathtub. For the remainder of the year, till graduation, the three older boys had all been very affectionate towards him though.
"Higgs, I'm moving you to Beater for the time being," Marcus informed another boy with light brown hair. Terence Higgs merely shrugged, accepting the shift in position from Seeker with little complaint."Bole, you'll remain as the other Beater. Derrick, you're with me and Pucey as the third Chaser," Flint continued with the lineup changes.
"Oi! Why do I have to be a bleedin Chaser?" protested Peregrine Derrick in an affronted tone of voice. While he enjoyed the game he preferred to play as a beater rather than constantly rush about trying to score while dodging bludgers, which was what a Chaser did. If an opposing player occasionally got hit with the wooden beater bat while he was attempting to deflect a bludger, well, accidents did happen he figured.
"Because you're absolutely pants at being a beater," Flint was quick to respond with eliciting a round of snickers from the other teammates. Seeing the other boy about to start in on him, Flint quickly continued with, "Look, Professor Snape assigned us a new Seeker so adjustments have to be made. On account of needing to get the Seeker here trained, I don't have time to be arguing with the lot of you. If you're not happy with your new position there's the tunnel. Don't let the Bludger hit you in the arse on the way out!" Flint waited a minute to see if anyone had anything else to say or would leave before he continued, "Alright in the air with the lot of you. Warm up by throwing the Quaffle about while I get our Seeker ready."
Upon learning that Harry didn't have his own broom, Flint walked him over to a locker near the mouth of the tunnel where equipment was stored when not in use. "You can get started on one of these," he told the first year Slytherin. "They're all in sorry shape but then again that's probably why they're in the broom cupboard for anyone to use isn't it?" he asked with a smirk.
Harry looked from the older boy to the dozen or so brooms in the cupboard leaning against the walls. Still not certain what he was meant to do, he looked back towards Marcus. "If you can tell me how to clean them I'll get started right away. I'm assuming there are cleaning supplied as well?"
Flint stared at the smaller boy in confusion for a long moment, hardly believing what he had just heard. "Are you daft, Potter? You're not here to clean the brooms. Professor Snape said you're to be the new Slytherin Seeker!"
"I am?" Harry stammered in surprise, not knowing what aSeeker was but suspecting it had something to do with Quidditch and the players on the team. I really should read Blaise's book, he chastised himself for not having already done so. "But I've only been on a broom once," he objected. "I don't even know anything about the game."
"You'll learn," Marcus replied with a dismissive shrug before reaching in to grab a broom only to turn and shove it into Harry's hands. "If some of those thick witted Gryffs can learn it then it should be fair easy for a Snake to do so."
Next, the Slytherin team Captain led the new Seeker back over to where the team had been waiting and to a chest that was already open. There was an empty depression in the center of the chest where Harry guessed the ball currently being tossed about in the air above them had once resided. To either side of this were balls that remained strapped in place but still managed to jerk about as if they were seeking their freedom and were more than a little put out at not obtaining it. Opening a small compartment on the trunk lid Marcus withdrew a small golden ball and held it up for Harry to see.
"This is what it is all about, Potter. The only thing I need you to do is catch this ball. It's called The Golden Snitch," Flint told the boy. "It's worth one hundred and fifty points if you can catch it before the other team's Seeker. Do that and the game is over."
"Seems easy enough," Harry replied as he watched a pair of translucent silver wings emerge from the golden ball.
Flint snorted as he released the Snitch, which fluttered about for a moment as if not realizing yet that it was free before speeding away in agolden blur of movement. "You say that now, but they're hard to spot, exceedingly fast, and tricky little bastards too!"
"What are those?" Harry asked as the entire chest shook as both of the remaining objects seemed to dislike being the only things still remaining stationary.
"You needn't worry about them, Potter," Flint said with a wicked chuckle as if he was hiding something. "All you need to focus on is catching that Snitch. For today I simply want you to fly about so that you can get used to the layout of The Pitch. You're allowed to fly outside the towers and as high as you'd care to go," the older boys said. "I don't expect you to catch the Snitch today as this is only your second time on a broom. Off with you now and try to stay out of the way of the rest of us."
Harry wasted no time in climbing aboard the broom that was given to him and taking off in a burst of speed that even Flint had to give grudging respect to. As soon as Harry had climbed to a height just above the top of the surrounding wooden towers, he paused and took a proper look at the broom he was seated on. The shaft of the broom appeared to be made of a single solid piece of oak. The tip of the shaft had 'Oakshaft 79' etched into it followed by a tiny 'EG' which Harry took to be the maker of the broom.
The next hour was spent maneuvering the broom through dives, climbs, twists and turns. Harry quickly discovered that while the broom could climb adequately, it was terrible at sharp turns of any sort. The diving power was respectable, however you had to allow considerable room for pulling out of a dive or risk flying into the ground. Wide sweeping turns and straightaway acceleration seemed to be its strong points. The young wizard also discovered that being on a broom was the most thrill thing he had ever done in his life. Soaring several hundred feet off the ground it was just him, the broom and the wind and he loved it!
The newest Seeker decided to take a break and just slowly fly about The Pitch, watching his new teammates below. Three of the boys were throwing a ball back and forth as they closed in on a fourth boy who was stationary before a set of three hoops. The remaining two seemed to have small bats in their hand and were attempting to hit the chasers with the balls which had still been in the trunk. Flint threw the ball through a hoop and then yelled at the boy who should have blocked it. Harry found out that the boy's name was Bletchley only because he heard Flint call him that.
There was the barest of flickers of gold out the corner of Harry's eye and when he turned to look in that direction he saw it. He saw the Snitch!Turning his broom he raced after the golden globe as best he could on the broom he had. The Snitch took a sudden dive and Harry followed it, slowly gaining on the illusive object. When it took a sharp turn to the right, rather than try to turn, as he knew his broom couldn't match that agility he instead did a small inverted loop, coming out of it headed in the same direction as the fleeing Snitch having lost hardly any distance. Harry urged the broom to greater speed to make up the difference.
Down beneath him the rest of his new teammates stopped as they suddenly realized that Harry had actually found the Snitch and was giving chase. It had been over a century since a first year student had made a house team as a Seeker. The simple fact was that, at that young of an age none of them had the skill upon a broom to be able to play seriously. Those hovering on their brooms and watching were amazed as well as a bit envious of the apparent raw talent of the first year quickly closing the gap upon the golden prize.
Peregrine Derrick flew over to Lucian Bole and yanked the beater bat from the startled boy's hand. "I'll show him just whose pants at being a Beater," the boy snarled as he streaked over to an incoming bludger and hit it as hard as he could.
Harry corkscrewed first right and then left as the Snitch darted in that direction. Tears streamed from his eyes from the wind as well as the sheer joy he was experiencing. Never before had he felt so free or so alive. Asudden dive had him plummeting at breakneck speed towards the ground. As the green of the grass rushed towards him his cold fingers closed around the golden object, bringing a huge triumphant grin to his face. A quick corkscrew and he used the centrifugal force to help pull him out of the dive before hitting the ground. Hearing his name called he had started to turn his head and the next thing he knew was that he was waking up in the hospital bed.
"I see you're awake finally, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey's professional sounding voice cut into his thoughts as the school's medical witch entered the screened off area around his bed.
"What happened to me?" Harry enquired, opening his eyes only to squint against the brightness as well as the blurry vision. "I've seemed to have misplaced my glasses as well," he added as an afterthought.
"You did not misplace them," the head Nurse informed him of as she began waving her wand over his head, taking diagnostic readings of his health. "You can't take a bludger to the head without expecting there to be some casualties. Nasty sport Quidditch can be," she tsked disapprovingly. "Far too small to be playing if you ask me," she said under her breath.
"Is that what happened to me, Madam Pomfrey?" Harry asked in disbelief and confusion. "What is a bludger?" Harry enquired, not understanding just what had hit him.
"It seems that one of your teammates accidently hit one at you while you weren't looking," the school's Nurse told him, her tone clearly indicating that she had reservations about believing it was an accident. "As for what it is, perhaps it would best be described as a mean cantankerous ball with an ornery disposition that tries to hit anyone it gets near. How are you feeling?" Poppy queried, wishing to change the subject from the game that brought her far more patients than she wanted each year.
"Alright, I guess," Harry answered, not wanting to cause the Head Nurse any more trouble than he already had.
"Mmm-hmm," Poppy replied, realizing that the boy was not telling her everything. After years of dealing with the students of Hogwarts she was very apt at telling when a patient was feigning sickness as well as pretending to be healthier than they really were. "I want you to sit up for me."
Harry did as instructed, trying to ignore the sharp pains that were shooting through his head at the sudden movement. Unable to stop himself, his hand flew to his head as if he could in some manner sooth the pains he was experiencing. "Perhaps a bit less than alright, I guess," he finally confessed with a sheepish look.
"I thought that might be the case," the medical witch replied with a small knowing frown. "Head hurts, I take it?" Harry nodded in response and instantly regretted it. "Is your vision blurred as well?"
The young wizard slowly cracked open his eyes, wincing at the light once again, before he looked about. "No more than normally, Ma`am," he replied. "It seems terribly bright in here though, and that does hurt my eyes some."
"Here drink this," Poppy said as she handed him a potion she had been holding. Harry quickly did as told finding the clear liquid to be cold, as if it had just been taken from the ice box, though the small bottle itself was neither cold nor warm in his grasp. As the coldness seemed to spread through his body the pain in his head slowly subsided before it vanished altogether. "That should help with the pain."
"Yes, loads," Harry assured her with a grateful smile.
Madam Pomfrey simply nodded, satisfied that no permanent harm had been done. "I'll check you once again when you return tonight for your treatment. In the meantime, if your vision gets worse, you become dizzy or the headache returns come and see me right away."
"What will I have to do for the treatment?" Harry asked with a tremor of trepidation in his voice. Knowing that whatever the treatment was it was going to cause him pain did nothing to quall his fears. Still, if it meant his magic would not harm anyone then he was determined to see it through.
"For the first month I'll need for you to spend the night here every Thursday, Saturday and Monday. I want to assess how the treatment affects you just to be on the safe side. If everything goes well, which Iexpect it to, you'll be able to spend the other nights in your House as you normally would," Madam Pomfrey told him only to see him waiting for what exactly the treatments consisted of.
"Professor Dumbledore said there might be some pain involved?" Harry asked, pressing the medical witch for more details. Though he had every faith in her abilities, it was his body that would be in pain he reasoned.
Poppy thought for a moment before deciding to be honest with the young boy. From what she had seen of his injuries she could well imagine that his life had not been an easy one. She doubted that anyone had ever been kind to him in any measure of the word and she didn't even want to try and fathom the emotional or psychological abuse Harry must have suffered. I just can't lie to him or sugar coat it, she finally decided.
"Mr. Potter, I'm going to be honest with you," Poppy said with a small sigh, "growing bones is nasty business. You are currently far smaller than you should be for a boy of your age. I'm going to give you potions which will force your bones to grow larger as well as longer than their current state of development. As the surrounding muscles and tendons are not designed for the larger bones this will cause them to stretch, which will in turn hurt as well as place added pressure upon your joints causing additional pain. Eventually your muscles and tendons will adjust, alleviating the pressure and pain." Seeing Harry about to ask a question, the medical witch quickly held up a hand to forestall him. "As much as I would love to be able to give you the pain killing potion I just did, I'm afraid I can not." Harry's look of confusion prompted her to continue with her explanation.
"This is a very delicate case with a high degree of uncertainty to it. Too much diluted Skele-Gro and the bones could grow faster than your body's ability to adjust. Too little given and it will not be enough to effect the changes we're attempting to make. I need to know if there is aproblem and if you're sedated with pain killers or sleep aids I won't know there is a problem until it is too late," she explained to him. There was the real possibility that the Skele-Gro could grow his bones faster than the tendons and muscles could stretch which would cause them the rip and tear instead. That would cause far more damage than they were currently attempting to repair. "Do you have any questions?"
"An…and this will help me control my magic," Harry enquired hesitantly. He wasn't afraid of the pain. He thought it unlikely to hurt more than some of the beatings he had received from his uncle and cousin. I have to gain control of my magic or everyone is in danger, he thought to himself as the image of the three witches from last night flashed through his young mind. I could never forgive myself if I were to hurt one of them, even accidently.
Poppy nodded at his question, well aware of the boys concerns, having spoken with the Headmaster. "Physical health is directly related to your mental as well as magical wellbeing. Should one of them fall out of sync it will adversely affect the other two. Think of a chair with three legs to it," she offered in an attempt to explain it in a manner in which he could comprehend. "Remove any one of the legs from that chair and it would be unable to stand on its own."
Harry nodded slowly at her words. "Thank you. I understand," he told her sincerely. "What time should I be here tonight?"
"I believe eight o`clock would be a good time. That way we can get you comfortable before the potions start to work," she told him, to which he simply nodded in acceptance. "Any other questions I can answer for you, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes Ma`am, actually there is," he replied, running one hand through his unruly strands, "do you happen to know where I can find apair of glasses?"
"The pair you had were broken pretty badly," she said, her brow darkening as she once again recalled what exactly had brought him to be under her care once again. "While you were asleep, Professor Sinistra stopped in and offered to see about repairing them." Harry's eyes widened at her unexpected news. "I took a look at your eyes while you were asleep and gave her what your prescription should be. I was rather surprised to find that you were far sighted. It's highly uncommon for a child of your age to be that way." The medical Nurse couldn't help but wonder if the head injury which she had detected the other day was the reason for Harry's far sightedness. "The lenses you had were woefully incorrect, more along the line of something I would expect a toddler to have for their first pair of glasses."
"Yes, Ma`am," Harry responded with as he dropped his eyes to the hands in his lap so that she would not see his embarrassment."I've had them since I was a small child," he mumbled just barely loud enough for her to hear. His relatives, never wanting to spend money on their freak of a nephew had never bothered to update his glass and so they were the same ones he had worn since he was five years old.
"Well, I am certain that Aurora will have them fixed as good a new for you," Poppy said with a warm smile, feeling slightly guilty for making the boy feel bad. The young Astronomy Professor was one of the medical witch's favorites from when the younger girl had been a student. Poppy had little doubt that Aurora would see to the glasses. Since Aurora had joined the staff at Hogwarts, the two of them had become fast friends despite their age difference. The older of the twain tended to calm the more enthusiastic one down while the younger in turn pushed the medical witch to relax and cut loose once in a while. It was an arrangement that complimented them both mutually.
"Yes, Ma`am. I'll see her about them right away," Harry replied, realizing that he wouldn't be able to read or do homework without the glasses. Surprisingly, he also felt rather naked without them on. It was as feeling as if he was forgetting something without really knowing what.
"Might I suggest before you do that you pay a visit to the Library?" Poppy offered with a small smile which blossomed into a full on grin upon seeing the boy's confused look. "Unless I miss my guess, there are three very anxious young witches there. They have been making almost nonstop visits from the third floor to check on a certain young dark-haired wizard."
"Me?" Harry asked incredulously as his eyebrows rose into his hairline. "To check on me? Really?" he repeated in disbelief. No one had ever come to check on him…ever!
"As you are currently my only patient I think it safe to assume so. I finally had to tell them that should they return again I would be keeping you over night and they would have to wait till tomorrow to see you," she added with a humorous chuckle. "Your clothes are there at the foot of the bed, you may get dressed and leave." Seeing the boy just sitting there in the hospital bed in shock from the news, she couldn't resist adding a little nudge. "A word of advice and a lesson that all young men need to learn, Mr. Potter," she offered in her 'all business' tone of voice which served its purpose as the young wizard was now giving her his full attention, "Never, ever, under any circumstance, keep a young lady waiting. Most certainly not three of them at once," she finished with an arched brow and a slight tilt of her head before turning and walking out of the screened off area so he could dress.
Why? Why would they bother to come and check on me? he pondered as he quickly shed the hospital pajamas and dressed in his school uniform once again. Stepping from the screened off area he didn't see Madam Pomfrey about so he made his way from the hospital towards the Grande Stairway to head to the library.
I have to make certain that I thank them for coming to check on me, he told himself as he walked along the hospital wing corridor. I'm still not certain what to do with friends, but I want to make certain that I don't mess this up. These are the first friends I've ever had and I don't want to lose them. Walking with his head down, lost in thought, he didn't notice the three witches that entered the corridor till he was nearly knocked over by a bushy haired torpedo that plowed into him at a speed no mere two legged being should have been able to achieve on her own without the use of magic.
"I've had just about enough out of the both of you!" Tracey Davis announced as she forcibly closed her text book with a resounding thud that seemed to echo through the stillness of the library. Daphne and Hermione, the subjects of her comment, both looked up towards the auburn haired witch in surprise before glancing towards each other with matching looks of puzzlement.
"Don't go acting like you don't know what I'm talking about either," Tracey continued with upon seeing their expressions. "You've both been sitting here sighing every minute or so like some tea kettle that's come to boil."
"I have not!" declared the blonde Slytherin witch indignantly at her friend's accusation. Daphne wasn't certain she had been sighing that often, after all. She was willing to admit to herself that there had been a worried sigh or two.
"I don't know what you're on about, Tracey," Hermione added in a slightly huffy tone as she shuffled the scrolls on the table before her from one pile to another, accomplishing very little in the process."We've both been diligently working on our assignments and going over notes from last night."
Blaise Zabini's self-preservation instincts kicked in, causing him to draw back slightly as all three witches suddenly turned to look at him for his opinion on the matter. "It wasn't me sighing," he declared holding his hands up before as if to fend off an attack or offer surrender should it be required. All three girls glared at him for not taking their side of the argument. "Well….all three of you were sighing…a little more than usual," he finally said, prepared to bolt and live to see another day should the need arise.
"Well it's not our fault," Daphne snapped, not happy about being ratted out by her own housemates. Tossing her quill down upon the table she leaned back in her chair before crossing her arms over her chest in frustration.
"If we could just get in to see him then we wouldn't worry as much," Hermione offered, her tone expressing her desire to ensure her friend was, indeed, alright. The young Gryffindor witch had read enough medical journals to know just how dangerous head injuries could be. Her parents, being dentists, kept up on all the latest medical periodicals, so there was plenty to read about the house. The knowledge she gained from her reading was enough to allow her imagination to envision the worst possible injuries there were.
"I can't believe that old bitty threatened to keep him over night," Tracey quipped, shocking the other two girls for a moment before all four students present started giggling at the girl's words. "Well she did!" Tracey insisted defensively, only causing the others to laugh all the more.
"I still can't believe that Potter's going to be the starting Seeker for our House team," Blaise said, an air of admiration in his tone."He has to be the youngest Seeker in the last few decades at least!"
"The last century actually," Hermione said, slipping into her know-it-all voice that many at her primary school had found so annoying. "I looked it up this morning when we heard the news. He's the youngest player in nearly two centuries. Mostly due to the fact that his birthday is so close to the start of the school year." Being famous, as Harry was, meant that his birthday was common knowledge, known by almost all young witches and some young wizards. It was perhaps not surprising that the young witches seemed to take a greater interest in The-Boy-Who-Lived than young wizards did.
"A fact he may be regretting right about now," Tracey replied. "I'm not a Quidditch groupie like some," she paused to shoot a pointed look towards the only male at the table before continuing, "but I would imagine that a bludger to the head is not the best way to start your career, I should think."
"Even though he got knocked senseless, he didn't let go of the Snitch," Blaise told them, disbelief joining the note of admiration in the boy's voice. "I heard Higgs and Bole talking afterwards. They both were fairly certain that Pucey hit the bludger towards Potter on purpose due to being put out at losing his Beater position." This previously unknown news brought angry scowls from all three witches. "Anyways," Blaise continued, either missing or ignoring their dark looks as they weren't directed at him, "apparently Flint, the team captain, had to pry the Snitch from Potter's hand so he could put it back in the trunk with the other Quidditch equipment."
"That's barbaric!" Hermione finally managed to exclaim at the revelation that Harry had been hurt on purpose.
Tracey was quick to correct the Gryffindor witch, "No, that's Quidditch."
"Best sport every!" Blaise chimed in with which set off a discussion of the pros and cons of the game itself and just how inherently dangerous it was to play. Zabini, ever the die-hard fan, argued that it was far safer now than it was in the past, while Hermione maintained that just because it was safer did not mean it was actually safe.
Daphne sat and listened to the friendly banter as Tracey and Blaise continued to trade quips on the merits of Quidditch while Hermione offered suggestion for better protective gear for the players. I hope Harry's alright, she worried. Since hearing in the great hall that The-Boy-Who-Lived had been injured while at Quidditch practice, she had found it increasingly hard to focus on her school work. It hadn't helped matters any when Madam Pomfrey had shooed them away from the hospital wing of the school after their sixth attempt to see the injured wizard. There was something about the young dark haired boy that she couldn't place her finger on or understand fully, yet she found herself wanting more and more to be close friends with him.
The previous night after hugging him goodbye and giving him achase kiss on the cheek she had found it difficult to fall asleep. He's the first boy that I can call afriend, she had realized as she lay in bed thinking about the events on the Astronomy tower as well as in the commons room, her cheeks flushed in the darkness of the girl's dormitory where thankfully no one could see them. It wasn't that she didn't know other boys her age. In fact she knew or had met just about every boy her age as well as those within a few years of her, both older as well as younger. The trouble was that she also had met the families behind those boys that were hoping to gain from a marriage of their child to the eldest Greengrass daughter. Harry's is different. Daphne wasn't sure how she knew it, but she felt certain of the fact.
Harry couldn't have known who I was on the Hogwarts Express and yet he helped me get away from Malfoy and his cronies. Their meeting that day and the time they spent sitting together and just talking was very special to her. She hadn't even told Tracey about it. It's a secret between Harry and me, she told herself. The memory never failed to warm her heart. Hard to believe I have Draco to thank for it. The mere thought of the blonde haired Slytherin was enough to cause a foul taste in her mouth.
Last night on the tower Harry once again came to my rescue and let me hold his hand and cling to his arm while I was scared. He didn't make fun of me at all, but rather tried to console me instead. The young Slytherin witch was fairly certain that Draco would have wasted little time in finding humor in her discomfort. Then…he goes and promises to always be there for me! Daphne had no doubt that Harry had meant every word. He even indulged me when I asked for a second hug.
As a small girl she had read all the children's books about The-Boy-Who Lived. What witch or wizard hadn't? While she had enjoyed the stories themselves, she had never really bought into the myth. If the outlandish stories were to be believed, there was just no conceivable way that a child could do all the amazing and life threatening things the books depicted. The real Harry is so much better than the one in those books! I'm so glad that we're friends now.It was with that happy thought that she had finally managed to fall asleep. It shouldn't have been any wonder that her dreams that night were filled with acertain green-eyes wizard who played games with her beneath a canopy of stars.
Please be alright Harry. I truly want to know what it is like to have a friend that is a boy who is not being used by their family to gain something. She had always heard that boys were different than girls, but had never had the opportunity to find out, until now. The memory of Harry's hand in hers in the Slytherin common room suddenly came to mind, bringing a slight blush to her cheeks. Her musings were rudely interrupted by her name being called somewhat impatiently.
"Daphne! Daphne! Earth to Daphne!" Tracey called as loudly as she dared within the nearly sacred walls of Madam Pince's library. Any louder was sure to bring down the Librarian's wrath and get them removed for the day.
Daphne blinked one owlishly, realizing she had been zoning out while thinking about her new friendship with Harry. "What?"
"And just where were your thoughts at?" Tracey prompted with a knowing grin upon seeing her friend's flushed cheeks. Daphne merely stuck her tongue out in way of reply, drawing a chuckle from the other three present."It's nearly lunch time," Tracey informed her friend, taking the girl's actions as confirmation that the blonde witch had been thinking about the wizard they were all worried about. "I thought we might try one last time to get into the hospital wing to see Harry."
"Oi! Give it a rest already," Blaise said with a slight trace of exasperation in his voice as he started to put his books away."I'm sure he'll come find the lot of you once he's released. If you couldn't get in to see him before what makes you think you'll be able to now?" he asked, not understanding the unreasonable need of the three witches with him to see the other boy with their own eyes. You would think that the Head Nurse's word that Potter would be fine would be sufficient for anyone."Maybe Potter asked not to have any visitors," he said, giving voice to the thought which had just appeared in his head. "He doesn't strike me as the type to like the attention."
All three witches shared the same frightening look with each other, each wondering if perhaps Zabini could possibly be correct. They each could recall Harry saying that he didn't do well with attention when they were up on the Astronomy tower. They couldn't help but wonder if their presence might actually do more harm than good.
"Maybe we should just go to lunch," Tracey offered tentatively. "We can always check on him afterwards," she added hopefully.
"He's probably resting anyways," Hermione spoke up, adding to the conversation. "It's fairly common with head injuries that they sleep for a period of time. I'm sure that would be hard for him to do if we all just suddenly show up."
"I doubt Madam Pomfrey would allow us in regardless," Daphne offered in a resigned tone of voice. "She's very adamant about putting a patient's care first and foremost."
"Great, then it's settled," Zabini chimed in with."We'll go to lunch and then you three can go and see if you can even get into the hospital wing." The four of them quickly gathered their things and let the library. Once they reached the bottom of the Grande Stairway, Blaise turned towards the corridor that led to the Great Hall only to stop after a few feet upon realizing that he was walking alone. Turning about he could do little more than chuckle and shake his head in disbelief as he watched the three witches set off towards the Hospital wing of Hogwarts.
I'm alright, Hermione. Really," Harry assured the petite Gryffindor witch as he returned her hug and patted her back awkwardly.
"I was so worried," Hermione sniffled next to Harry's ear in a tearful voice as she squeezed him just a little tighter. "I've read about head injuries and how nasty they can be."
"Madam Pomfrey assured me that everything was alright," Harry said loud enough so that the others could hear as well, as he dropped his arms and the bushy haired witch stepped back to stand next to the other two.
Tracey cracked a grin as she quickly leapt forward and threw her arms around Harry's neck in a hug. "Now you know you can't hug one of us without hugging us all, Potter," she said, scolding him in a feigned anger at his apparent favoritism. "Don't you ever scare us like that again, Harry," she added in a whisper only he could hear, her arms drawing him closer for a longer moment.
Harry hugged the auburn-haired witch back. "Sorry Tracey. I'll try not to do it again," he replied to her whispered words before letting her go.
"Harry!" Hermione suddenly gasped as Tracey stepped away from the wizard, "What happened to your glasses?" she asked only having just noticed they were missing. "You look different without them," she commented. "Not in a bad way mind you, just…well…different," Hermione hastily clarified.
"I don't know," Daphne said in a slightly speculative tone as she stepped forward and slipped her arms around Harry's neck for her turn at a hug, "I think he looks rather fetching without them. You can see his eyes much better," she added as she gazed into said green orbs.
"True as that maybe," Harry replied tilting his head slightly to one side as if to get a better look at her, "without them you are little more than a pretty blonde blur." There was a slight squeal, which he was fairly certain came from Daphne, and then he found himself in a bone crushing hug.
"Thank you Harry," Daphne voiced as she squeezed the befuddled boy in her arms as hard as she could, "you always say the sweetest things!" she said before drawing back before the confused wizard could even return the hug. The fact that Harry thought she was pretty had the girl grinning from ear to ear.
"So you're really alright, Harry?" Hermione asked, concern and worry evident in her every word. Still not certain what he had done to earn the bone crushing hug from his blonde housemate, Harry could do little more than nod to the other girl's question.
"We tried to come and see you several times," a slightly blushing Daphne's said, "but Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let us in."
"You should have heard these two, sighing dejectedly almost constantly. I swear it sounded like there was a leaky steam pipe in the library," Tracey quipped before either of the other girls could stop her.
"TRACEY!" both Hermione and Daphne squawked at the same time as their faces turned a lovely shade of red.
"That reminds me," Harry spoke up, a decidedly nervous tremor to his voice, "There's something I need to tell you." Three quizzical looks turned to regard the dark-haired wizard at once. Thankfully, without his glasses everything was a bit blurred and so Harry didn't notice their scrutiny or he might not have been able to continue. "I hope I get this right," he mumbled barely loud enough for them to hear him, "please understand if I mess it up," he quickly added apologetically even though he hadn't as yet done anything.
"Harry?" Hermione enquired, uncertain what exactly to make of her friends words and actions. She could clearly tell that the boy was becoming more and more nervous with each word that he spoke. Is the injury more serious than he first told us? Hermione felt her chest tighten in fear for the Slytherin boy before her.
"It's alright Harry, you can tell us," Daphne spoke up in a quiet voice trying to lend her support and reassurance. Whatever it is it clearly has him worried, she realized even as she tried to determine what it could possibly be.
"Don't keep us waiting, Potter," Tracey said with a small smile in an attempt at humor to break the building tension. "It can't be that bad…can it?" she asked with a slightly arched brow, her worried tone making the joke fall flat.
"I…I wanted to thank you," Harry started with, even as he unconsciously began to wring his hands nervously. "I've just never had someone worry enough about me to come and check up on me," he told them, causing all three of their hearts to ache in their chests. "I just wanted to make sure I said Thank You like a real friend would." The nervous boy took a deep breath and exhaled while absently running a hand through his dark tresses. Gathering his courage he stepped forward and lightly kissed each witch on the cheek starting with Daphne and ending with Hermione.
All three witch wore the same gobsmacked expressions at the boy's actions. Tracey Davis was the first to recover. "What was that for, Harry?" she asked still slightly befuddled at being kissed so unexpectedly. She didn't have to look at the other two witches to know that they, like herself, were sporting tremendously red faces.
"I was just saying thank you," Harry stammered, suddenly growing uncertain upon hearing Tracey's questioning tone. If I could only see their expressions, he thought as he silently cursed not having his glasses. "Did I not do it right?" Harry questioned as his gaze went from one blurry witch to the other. "I…I tried to do it just like Daphne did last night when she thanked me," the flustered boy stammered, believing that he had somehow manage to get it wrong. "I'm sorry. I probably really buggered it, didn't I? I must be pants at this whole friends thing if I can't even say thanks correctly!"
"No, Harry," Tracey stopped him before he could get himself worked up true and proper like. "You did it smashingly well," she told him, stepping forward and taking his arm in hand while stepping to his side and turning to face the other two. The auburn-haired witch hoped her actions would be enough to reassure the young wizard that he hadn't done anything wrong. "What do you ladies think," Tracey asked the other two witches.
"Y..ye…yes," Hermione tried to say, her voice breaking slightly causing her to have to clear it once before she could continue."Yes, splendidly. Top notch for sure," the blushed bushy haired witch confirmed while staring at the floor to hide her flaming cheeks and the smile she was sporting despite being embarrassed.
"Daphne?" Tracey prompted with a teasing smile."Don't you think Harry did a wonderful job for his first time?"
Daphne, much like Hermione, was taking a keen interest in the toes of her shoes. The fact that it felt like her ears were on fire might have had something to do with her choice of that particular view. "Best thank you I've ever had," she thought only to gasp as she realized she had actually said it aloud, which accounted for Tracey's humorous snort following the now scarlet face witche's accidental admission.
"There Harry, we all agree," the young witch said,"You did remarkably well for your first time."
"I concur as well, Mr. Potter," said the amused voice of Aurora Sinistra from a few feet away causing Harry to spin about to face the smiling professor even as all four students instantly turn a livid shade of red. "I would however advise against thanking any of your male friends in the same manner," she added with a merry twinkle in her eyes at their discomfort. "They might not be so…accepting."
"I…I think I'll just limit it to these three, Professor," Harry stammered, having recognized the voice of their Astronomy teacher. "If that's alright?" The three girls arrayed behind him were quick to voice their assent.
"There, I believe we're all in agreement then. Any more than this and there is no telling what stories might be written about The-Boy-Who-Lived," she said with a soft chuckle to indicate that she wasn't completely serious. "If you ladies are done with Mr. Potter for now, I have need of him. Why don't you go to lunch and I'll send him along in abit."
"Yes, Professor," all three witches replied with before turning and heading to the great hall after offering various forms of 'I'll see you later' to Harry.
"You have a very nice group of friends there, Mr. Potter," Aurora told him as they traversed a side corridor, " make sure you treat them well."
"Harry, please professor," the young wizard reminded her to call him by his first name. "Actually I'm very fortunate to have them. I've never had friends before," he explained in the same tone one might use to discuss the weather. "I'm not sure why exactly they want to be friends with me or even what it truly is to be a friend but they have offered to teach me. I'll do my best not to disappoint them, Professor," Harry promised as they walked along.
"Treat them as you just did and as you did last night and I don't believe you'll have to worry about disappointing them, Harry," she reassured him. You may have to worry about which of the three you'll date, but at least that is still some time away.
Harry simply nodded, accepting her words as truth, realizing that he had little to no experience in such matters. The dark skinned witch soon stopped before an open door and motioned for him to precede her into the office. "Was there something you needed me for, Professor?" Harry asked slightly puzzled to be called out by her. Glancing about he saw a great many items which all in some manner or another pertained to Astronomy which quickly led him to the conclusion that this must be the professor's office.
"I think rather something you need from me, Harry," the young witch said as she rounded the desk and sat in the chair behind it before opening a drawer only to pull out a familiar pair of glasses. "I believe these are yours," she said holding out the spectacles to the boy before her desk.
Harry gratefully accepted the glasses and quickly placed them on only to gasp as everything was far clearer, sharper and in greater detail than it had ever been before. "Are you certain these are mine, Professor?" he couldn't help but ask.
"Thanks to Madam Pomfrey I was able to adjust the lens to the strength you needed," Aurora explained. "I used the same frames and lenses as you appeared to be rather attached to them. I merely adjusted the lenses to better suit you," she concluded with as she watched the ecstatic youth looking all about the office as he tested out his new glasses.
"This will make reading loads easier," Harry exclaimed in an excited voice. "Perhaps now I won't get any more headaches either."
"Here, try it out," Aurora offered, holding out anewspaper to him to read. Harry's comment concerning headaches piped her curiosity. "Do you have headaches often Harry?"
"Just whenever I read for a while," Harry replied, accepting the paper and unfolding it to the front page. The lettering was crisp and clear as well as far easier to read than it ever had been before. Even the image, showing two Goblins looking into an open vault was clear as well. Harry quickly read the main story.
Gringotts' Break-In Latest
"Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown. Gringotts goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day. "But we're not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what's good for you," said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon."
Harry's new and improved eye sight noticed the vault number."Hagrid and I visited that vault that same day," he told the Professor in disbelief. "I think Hagrid removed the only item that was in there. He mentioned that it was 'Hogwarts business' and that he was fetching it for the Headmaster."
"Are you certain, Harry," Aurora asked as she got up from her desk and came around it to look at the article over the boy's shoulder. What are the chances that the day Harry and Hagrid visit a vault that it gets broken into?
"Yes, I'm certain of it, Professor," Harry replied looking up from the paper with a thoughtful expression on his face. "Good thing that Hagrid took me for my birthday or who knows what the thief might have gotten away with."
"What in deed," Aurora said softly, more to herself than to the boy with her. "Well, whatever it was, I'm certain the Headmaster is handling it," she said, reaching out and tousling his dark strands playfully. "Now I do believe that there are three very nice witches awaiting your presence in the Great Hall for lunch. Best not to keep them waiting," she advised as she turned the boy about and gave him a slight push towards the door to speed him on his way. "Off with you now," she said with mock sternness.
Harry, elated at being able to see so clearly couldn't stop grinning and walked to the door before turning around and hurrying back."Thank you for the glasses," he said before quickly rising up on his toes and placing a quick kiss on the cheek of the youngest professor at Hogwarts.
Too stunned to say anything the Astronomy Professor watched as The-Boy-Who-Lived quickly left her office. "Cheeky little devil," she finally said softly, her fingers touching her blushing cheek where Harry had kissed her. "That one's going to have all the ladies swooning after him, I'll wager."
Harry quickly made his way to the great hall so that he could eat, suddenly finding himself hungry. I must have worked up an appetite while flying, he reasoned to himself. Perhaps today Imight have an orange as well. That would be exceptionally well. Just like aholiday! Harry stepped through the side entrance to the great hall, offering a nod to Tracey and Daphne who were involved in a conversation with Sophie Roper, or at least he seemed to recall that was her name. No sooner had Harry sat down and reached for an apple when he heard the last thing he wanted to hear right then.
"How did you ever manage to make the House Quidditch team, Potter?" Draco Malfoy asked as he sauntered up with his two shadows. Large and very big shadows, Harry quipped mentally to himself as he eyed Crabbe and Goyle before looking towards the blonde boy who has spoken.
"I don't actually know, Draco," Harry offered with aslight shrug of his shoulders. "You'd have to ask Professor Snape as it was by his direction I was told."
Draco smirked for a moment, "He must have felt sorry for the other teams as Slytherin has won the cup now for many years straight? None of the other teams come even close to ours. By having a talentless half-blood such as yourself playing he's probably hoping that the other teams will think they stand a chance at winning with Slytherin having such a handicap," Draco stated knowingly, certain that had to be the reason.
"Who else is new to the team?" Harry asked calmly, wondering if he was the only new player or not.
"I could have been on the team if I wanted to, Potter," Draco spat out in anger, believing that Harry was bragging about making the team well he had not. "I'm certain Snape will soon realize what a mistake he's made in letting you on a team!"
"Maybe he will," Harry agreed with a slight shrug of his narrow shoulders, suddenly realizing that their discussion was attracting many ears and eyes other than their own. "Till he does I guess I'll just have to do the best I can. The brooms in the cupboard may not be the best or the newest but I'll manage with them somehow," Harry said.
Draco scoffed at the dark haired boys words. "You don't even have your own broom? My father would get me the best broom there is, should Iask him to," the Malfoy heir boasted loudly wanting to make certain as many as possible heard him.
"Perhaps if you get on the team he shall," Harry replied, agreeing with the other boy.
"What do you mean /if/, Potter?" Draco snarled in irritation at the perceived slight. "I'll have you know that…," the blonde boy suddenly raised one hand and pointed a trembling finger over Harry's shoulder as a look a utter terror appeared on his face, "BLUDGER!" Draco called out.
Harry tried to turn and jump off of the bench all at the same time while ducking to avoid being hit again. All he successfully managed to do was tangle his foot with the bench leg and tripping himself which resulted in Harry landing none to gently upon the stone floor. Loud boisterous laughter erupted through the majority of the great hall as the students who had been watching intently saw Harry trip and fall. None laughed louder or longer than Draco and his cronies who had a front row seat for the entire affair.
With most the school laughing at the expense of The-Boy-Who-Lived they failed to notice the two rather large owls that flew into the great hall carrying a long and rather oddly wrapped package which they unceremoniously dropped into Harry's lap while he still lay upon the floor.
Taking the delivered package in one hand Harry stood, dusted himself off, before removing the small card attached to the item left by the owls. After carefully placing the bundle on the table he opened the card to read it. On the inside of the card, in neat script, it simply said 'Use It Well'. Harry, who had never received a proper present before, wasted little time and removing the brown wrapping from the item. "It's a broom," he said quizzically, wonder who would have sent it to him.
"Oi! That's not just a broom," Blaise Zabini excitedly exclaimed, suddenly appear at Harry's elbow. "That's a Nimbus 2000!"
Harry quickly learned that it was the newest in the Nimbus line and a very sought after broom. As word spread through the great hall like wild fire, the same students who had just moments before been laughing at his misfortune were suddenly crowding about him begging to be allowed to take the rock-star of brooms for a ride. Amidst all the excitement and near holiday celebration like atmosphere the great hall had suddenly turned into, Harry managed to look towards the head table only to see the Headmaster, a twinkle in his pale eyes, raise his goblet as if in salute to the boy. Harry grinned from ear to ear, believing that the aged wizard was the one who had provided him with the marvelous gift.
"Come on mate," Blaise cried loudly grasping Harry's arm and dragging him down the aisle way between the Slytherin and Gryffindor tables, "you have to go test it out!" Surrounded by a great many other boys Harry was forced along till suddenly their way was blocked by a bushy haired witch.
"Harry, stop!" Hermione said in a loud and commanding voice, scolding the emerald eyed boy who tightly grasped his new broom that was the envy of every boy in the room and a fair number of witches as well."You can't go and fly now, it's nearly time for class and you missed reviewing the material this morning," she told her friend to the amusement of most of the males arranged about the small witch.
Harry regarded the young witch impeding the group's progress towards the doors of the great hall. Inside he struggled with the desire not to fly but to /belong/. All his life he had wanted to be normal. Not the freak his relatives saw him as or The-Boy-Who-Lived which he was quickly realizing the majority of the Wizarding world saw him as. It was the first time he had ever felt like part of a larger group, and it was that camaraderie, that feeling of being 'just one of the guys' that he so longed for growing up. "Sorry guys. Maybe before dinner," Harry finally said with an appreciative smile towards Hermione who visibly relaxed at his words having feared he would argue with her.
"Honestly, Potter?" Theodore Nott, scoffed loudly in disbelief. "You're going to let some girl tell you what you can and can't do? Why even bother listening to her? She's just a witch!"
Harry quickly stepped to Hermione's side as he turned to address the arrogant boy. "Perhaps when you have the highest grades in our year I'll listen to you," he replied in an even tone. "Till then you might want to give her a listen to as she's clearly smarter than the both of us." Turning to face Hermione he was rewarded with a dazzling smile and cheeks that were a few shades pinker than they normally would be.
Theodore decided that it would be better to not say anything else, especially with so many witches present in the room and all of them armed with wands. Seeing that the excitement was over, the other students moved away, though not without their fair share of grumbling at not being able to see the nearly fabled broom in action.
"Thank you, Harry," Hermione nearly squealed once most of the crowd had returned to their tables. She desperately wanted to give the boy who had come to her defense a hug, but was far too shy to do so in the middle of the great hall with the majority of the school watching.
"I'm sorry, Hermione," Harry apologized, his eyes dropping to the floor near his feet. "He shouldn't have spoken to you that way. If I had waited to open the package till later or taken it to my dorm room then none of this would have happened," Harry told her, clearly troubled by what had happened.
"No Harry, it wasn't your fault," she said, laying her hand upon his arm to gather his attention to her. "Boys typically don't think very much of us girls," she tried to explain to him.
Harry's head shot up as he looked at her with an expression of utter disbelief. "Why not?" he asked, finding it hard to believe that anyone wouldn't like Hermione.
The young witch shrugged slightly before answering, "Because they are typically bigger and stronger so they look down on us as being weaker than they are."
"But…but you're bloody brilliant!" Harry exclaimed trying to prove his point.
"Language, Potter!" Hermione and Daphne both chided at the same time as the blonde Slytherin followed by Tracey joined the both of them. The young wizard dutifully looked contrite at the double admonishment.
"You…you don't mind that we're all just girls, do you Harry?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
"You're not just girls," Harry replied earnestly,"you're my friends and that to me at least means far more than anything else!" Harry ran a hand through his messy hair before he asked, "You don't mind that I'm a boy do you?"
Tracey snorted before grinning, "No, I think we like you just the way you are, Potter." The other two witches were quick to nod their agreement.
Harry's answering smile was near blinding before he ran off to place his broom away and gather his books from his dorm before joining them in the library. The three witches watched him leave with satisfied smiles of their own due to Harry's response.
"He really has no clue just how different he is from the other boys does he?" Daphne asked with a small little happy smile.
"No," Hermione replied with a shy wistful smile of her own. "He's hopelessly clueless."
"Let's hope he stays that way," Tracey quipped."He's perfect just being Harry," she added. A fact that all three of them wholeheartedly agreed upon.
"He's far too young to be playing, Albus, not to mention the fact that he's woefully small as well," Minerva suggested to the Headmaster who was seated next to her at the head table. They had both watched as Harry had unwrapped the package that had arrived via owl post. The Head of House for Gryffindor hadn't missed her little lion, Hermione, deep in conversation with the other three first year students or how they had all left together. While she was pleased to see House lines broken, she couldn't help but worry for the girl, being the only outsider to the group she now appeared to be a member of. Little did the Transfiguration Professor know that being an 'Outsider' was exactly why she was part of the group.
"At first glance it would appear so, would it not Minerva?" the Headmaster responded with, a slightly amused expression upon his aged and weathered face. "Few things, I've found, are seldom what they appear at first glance," he added cryptically.
"I can't believe you bought him a new broom as well," the Deputy Headmistress tsked in disapproval of the man's actions both now and concerning the young Potter boy. "And a Nimbus, at that!" she said, getting more riled up the more she thought about it. "You're actually going to allow Mr. Potter to play?"
"There, there, Professor," Albus said as he gently patted the witches forearm reassuringly. "If young Harry has the skill to play then why shouldn't he be allowed to?"
"He could get killed for one thing," McGonagall was quick to reply with. "It was only through dumb luck that he wasn't seriously injured today. It was truly amazing he could fly at all on that old broom."
"Yet fly he did," the aged wizard said as if to prove his point about the boy having the proper skill required to play. "A fact which has now been corrected, I dare say," Albus countered with before the witch could give her retort.
"Surely Albus it can't be good to show such favoritism to the boy," she enquired worriedly, fearful as to what the rest of the students would think upon hearing that the very expensive broom had been provided by the Headmaster.
"Perhaps you are right Professor, but alas it was not I who gifted Harry's new broom to him," the Headmaster admitted with a decidedly mischievous twinkle to his pale eyes. "Perhaps one day young Harry's benefactor will make themselves known to the boy. For now, I believe we are in for an interesting Quidditch season."
Ronald Weasley's first week of school at Hogwarts was turning out to be anything but what he had expected it to be. His visions of fun filled days playing chess with his mates, chatting about Quidditch, eating and maybe doing some school work now and then had disappeared into the ether before he knew it.
The school work had proven to be far more difficult than he had expected, though that could partially be contributed to the fact that he didn't seem to pay attention in class or take good notes for afterwards. His plans to find someone to help him with his school work so far had not panned out the way he had hoped. Just when he had thought he would be able to ask Granger for 'assistance' she had started to spend time with that snake, Greengrass. How can she choose to sit with a snake over a member of her own house? he found himself wondering not for the first time.
Bloody hell, Ron swore under his breath as he listened in on the conversation between his housemate, Granger, and the three snakes chatting her up. How can she possibly be friends with them? They're snakes! It made absolutely no sense to the young redhead why any Gryff would speak to, let alone hang out with, any snake. They must have her under an Imperius Curse or something, he reasoned. Why else would she be acting so unnatural?
That would explain it all of course. That snake must have used the curse to get himself placed on the Quidditch team. No first year would ever be allowed to play otherwise.How a mere first year student could have used the Imperius curse on Professor Snape was the only stumbling block to his logic as he saw it. After several moments of intense thought, as well as another mouth full of food, he came to the only possible conclusion. He's The-Bloody-Boy-Who-Lived. He beat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, cursing someone like Snape would be easy-peasy for someone like him.
The arrival of the Nimbus had been the final straw for the youngest Weasley boy. The fact that a snake had the very broom Ron wanted as well as Granger helping the same snake with his homework on top of making it onto a Quidditch team within days of arriving at Hogwarts was more than just unbelievable./It's downright unfair!/Ron seethed silently as he glared at Harry Potter running from the great hall, broom clutched in one hand and waving to Granger and the two other snakes with the other. In a rare moment of mental clarity, it all made perfect sense to Ron. He now knew the reason everything had gone wrong recently in his life. It's all your fault, Potter!
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