Bridget always slept like a starfish. She'd wake up every morning, arms and legs splayed haphazardly all over the bed, sometimes even hanging over the edge. Her head was usually buried under the pillow in an attempt to hide from the morning rays, so when she got up, her hair would be tousled and she'd have sleep lines criss-crossing all over her cheeks. She'd look a downright mess.

It was to the shrill ringing of their shared alarm clock that she woke up – a horribly all-too-familiar sound that announced the beginning of a school day.

She wasn't the first one up; the sound of running water from the washroom and Lily's empty bed told her that the prefect was already awake and getting dressed. Bridget looked at the other three. Alice was rubbing her eyes and smoothing down her hair, while Mary groaned and rolled over to switch off the alarm. Marlene merely grunted from underneath the arm that was covering her face.

"Just leave me here," she said. "I'm not ready for this. I'll go another time."

Once the three of them dragged Marlene out of bed (two holding her wrists, the last grabbing her ankles) and each girl got ready, they went off to the Great Hall for breakfast. Between pumpkin juice, sausage links and fried eggs, they discussed the different classes that might be set for the day. Their answer arrived when Professor McGonagall made her way down the table, handing out their schedules. The students' responses varied; some groaned at the very sight of the listed subjects, while others shrugged with choruses of, "Well, it could be worse."

Mary shared the first sentiment.

"Potions first?" she whined, eyeing her timetable with distaste.

Lily shared the second.

"That's not too bad," she said.

"Easy for you to say," Marlene said with a snort. "You're good at it."

"I suppose so." Lily agreed. "Not looking forward to Double Ancient Runes tomorrow though."

"Yeah. We'll probably get loads of homework for that," Alice sighed. "Always do."

"I told you you were mad for taking it," Marlene said. "Frank too. Not to mention he takes Arithmancy to boot. I'd rather jump off a cliff."

Bridget herself was rather happy with the subjects of the day. Potions wasn't all bad – although, it could get frustrating, especially when the instructions were ridiculous, demanding that the measurements be correct to the nearest grain of powder and added in by seven counter-clockwise stirs, while keeping your left eye shut and pinching your nose. Herbology, however, was one of her favourites, as natural studies came easily to her. Defence Against the Dark Arts and Astronomy were both rather tricky and not really her areas of interest, but she managed them well enough. The only thing that bothered her about the schedule was Divination, a class she could never get the hang of. The ruddy subject was illogical and difficult to master if one didn't have 'the gift', often leaving her upset and exasperated in the end.

The bell chimed throughout the castle, and the five girls started for the dungeons, where their first lesson of the school year awaited. On their way down, they passed a group of younger Slytherins, among which Bridget recognised Regulus. She caught his eye and smiled, but didn't receive any kind of acknowledgement from the younger Black brother.

Meanwhile, students were already entering the Potions classroom, claiming seats and taking out their kits and supplies. The young witches sat as they usually did, clustered around tables close enough so they could talk and pass notes. The seat that was left empty next to Lily was soon filled by Severus Snape, as it was at every Potions lesson since their first year (much to the other girls' displeasure – Snape wasn't exactly the friendliest of people).

As students settled down, Professor Slughorn strode in with a cheery, "Hello, all," and made his way to the blackboard. Of the last few people coming in, Frank squeezed into a seat next to Alice, and Bridget spotted Sirius and James making their way to where Remus and Peter were already sitting.

"Hope you've all had splendid holidays," Slughorn said once everyone was ready, "because you've quite the year ahead of you. I remember my own O.W.L.s – not a pleasant time, I'm afraid to tell you. But not to worry, many a wizard – and witch, pardon me – have passed it, and I can assure you, an O from Potions is absolutely achievable. Provided that you're ready to work for it, of course." He clapped his hands and smiled. "Now, let's get to work, shall we?" Missing (or perhaps ignoring) the quiet moan from the class, he turned to the blackboard and waved his wand.

"The Draught of Peace!" The words appeared on the board. "A rather complex potion – admittedly not the first thing one might wish to learn at the very start of a new school year. But my reasoning is simple: if you have a go at a difficult potion now and manage to finish it, you will gain the courage to face the rest of the year. And to help you along, I've decided to pair you up." This incited murmuring as students turned to one another, already forming groups. "Ah ah ah! I will be pairing you up!" Now the groan that broke out was too loud for him to miss even if he wished it.

Protesting was of no use though. After four years of teaching them, Slughorn was familiar with the working habits of each student. He knew who worked well together (like Lily and Snape) and who didn't (like James and Sirius).

Professor Slughorn went about the class, pointing at one person and matching them up with another. Bridget was pleasantly surprised when Sirius was sent off to her table, with a request to, "Keep it a calm lesson, eh, Black?"

Sirius sauntered over and took Alice's place as she was moved elsewhere. "Nice to be with a mate," he said, aiming a grin at Bridget.

"The recipe is on page fifty-eight of your books," Slughorn was saying. "I will remind you again, as I have countless times over the years: read the directions carefully. These ones are particularly detailed and must be followed to the letter. Otherwise there could be serious repercussions."

"Wonderful," Bridget muttered. Sirius shot her an amused glance.

"Most notably," Slughorn went on, "the potion could cause a deep, perhaps even irreversible sleep if too much of the ingredients are added." He finished sorting out the pairs and returned to the front of the classroom. "All right, you have until the end of the lesson. Good luck!"

Bridget and Sirius got to work, she cracking open her book, and he preparing the cauldron and starting the fire. Bridget read out the ingredients they'd need ("Powdered moonstone, syrup of hellebore, powdered porcupine quills, and powdered unicorn horn."), with Sirius simultaneously placing them out on the desk, while they discussed the cruelty of teachers.

"Honestly, name one time we had a relaxed day to ease us back into school life," Sirius said.

"I suppose it's because we've just had two months off," Bridget replied, taking a mortar and pestle. "We'll have to grind the porcupine quills."

Sirius handed her the bottle containing said quills. "Still, they can't expect us to jump right back into it, can they?"

Bridget laughed and got to pressing the pestle into the mortar. "So I passed Regulus in the hall earlier. He didn't say much. Didn't say anything at all actually. I think he's pretending he doesn't know me."

"Ignore him, he's being a prat," Sirius said. "Been like that the whole summer. I barely spoke two words with him." A pause. Bridget gave him a moment to decide whether he wanted to continue the conversation or not. He went on in a lower voice, "Honestly, I blame my parents and his Slytherin mates – the whole bloody house, really. He's become immersed in their elitist rubbish. I thought – well, I hoped – he'd fight it. I did, for Merlin's sake. I tried talking to him about it a few times, but he doesn't want to hear it." He gave an irritated groan and shook his head.

Bridget tried to cheer him up. "Nothing's set in stone. He might realise his mistakes when he's older." When Sirius didn't say anything, she cleared her throat and said in a lighter tone, "Anyways. What d'you reckon about this O.W.L. business? Think you can get an O for Potions?"

Sirius snorted, but threw her a grateful glance anyway. "Pretty confident about it, yeah. Why? D'you doubt me?"

The class went by rather pleasantly after that, if only with one near-calamity. The potion was so incredibly complicated that Bridget had mixed up two steps and was about to add the syrup of hellebore before the powdered moonstone. Luckily, Sirius intervened and grabbed her hand before she could add the wrong ingredient.

"We have to allow the potion to simmer for seven minutes before putting in the hellebore," he warned, pulling her hand away from the cauldron.

It was a short gesture, over before Bridget could properly register it happening. But even after Sirius drew away, warmth lingered on the back of her hand, where his skin had touched hers – a tingling sort of sensation, seeping into her fingertips.

Scowling at the way her face heated up – because, really, this wasn't the first time they'd brushed hands – she nodded and said a brief, "Er, right."

Other than that, the potion-brewing was successful. They finished a full fifteen minutes after Lily, but seeing as she was one of the best at Potions, they figured they did all right. Their Draught of Peace was even emitting a silvery vapour – faint, but there – unlike some of the other students' samples. A positive start to fifth year, they agreed.

These high spirits were soon quashed by the ten-inch essay Slughorn assigned for next lesson.

Unfortunately, the piles of homework didn't stop at Potions. Neither did the talk of O.W.L.s. Each teacher they had throughout the day made a point of mentioning their upcoming exams, constantly stressing on their importance. Bridget hated these never-ending reminders; they made her heart sink lower and lower into her gut with dread and anxiety. So much so that she sought comfort from her mother that evening.

After they'd done some of their homework (barely managing to make a dent in the literal mountain of it) and once they'd finished dinner, Bridget settled with her friends in the Gryffindor common room. She sat by the fire, idly listening to the conversation around her as she wrote a letter on top of the Astronomy textbook balanced in her lap.

"What use is it knowing the names and characteristics of Jupiter's moons anyhow?" Marlene was asking, flicking Bridget's book peevishly. They'd just had double Astronomy, and Marlene hadn't enjoyed it in the least. "Honestly, I can't think of a single instance where that'd be useful information."

"Maybe not to you," Alice said from her place on the sofa, her head thrown over the armrest and her feet in Frank's lap. "But to someone who wants to continue Astronomy it might be important."

Bridget half-listened to Marlene argue with this logic, focusing instead on jotting down the day's events and teachers' cautionary advice on the roll of parchment. She wished she had the wits of Ravenclaw like her mother did. Perhaps then the idea of life-changing tests, effectively deciding your future with only a single letter, wouldn't be as frightening to her.

"Marlene's right," Mary said. "Teach basics until O.W.L.s and then get into the details at N.E.W.T. level."

"Hate to tell you this," Lily said with an apologetic laugh. "But I don't think you can get any more basic than the names of things."

Cue witty response from Marlene, a well thought-out counterargument from Alice, and Frank backing her up by claiming that they just didn't want to study anything at all, did they? At that point, Mary became indignant and Bridget left for the Owlery, her friends' quips and teases chiming behind her as she climbed through the Portrait Hole.

Her mother's response arrived the very next day during breakfast. Among the morning's flock of owls, soaring round the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall, was Bridget's own feathered postman, Archibald. He swooped down, executing a smooth landing (with a little help from Remus, who moved his goblet of orange juice away before the owl could hit it head-on) and proudly fluffed his feathers at the achievement. He stuck his claw out and presented the attached letter, patiently awaiting his reward. After receiving his payment of three bits of buttered toast, Archibald gave two hoots and took off.

Conversation resumed and Bridget unfurled her letter. Just the sight of her mother's smooth cursive was enough to lift her mood; neat and flowing, without even the tiniest smudge (a feat Bridget herself had yet to master).

She read through her mother's assurances, the words reflecting her calm, temperate nature. Mrs Durant promised to always be proud of her – yes, even if she failed every single one of her O.W.L. exams – and to allow her to live at home until she was old and grey if she so wished. She mentioned they'd been to visit Toby. Her brother looked paler, she said, and even more fragile than the last time they'd seen him. Bridget tried not to dwell on this too much, knowing that it would depress her the whole day if she did. Rather she moved on to her mother's recounting of a Jarvey outbreak that first overtook the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and had quickly engulfed the entire Ministry of Magic. Apparently, her father had spent the past three days being verbally harassed by an over-sized talking ferret hiding somewhere in his office, driving him to the brink of insanity.

"You finished, Bridget?" Lily asked, drawing her attention back to the present. "We should be getting on to Transfiguration."

"'Course, yeah." Bridget stood and followed the rest of them out of the Great Hall.

When the students filed into the Transfiguration classroom, they knew very well what to expect. They were hardly surprised when Professor McGonagall, waiting for them in front of her desk, tall and stern, launched into an O.W.L.-related lecture by way of greeting (although, it all sounded ten times more important and intimidating when it came from her mouth – her no-nonsense demeanour tended to have that effect). She was no more merciful than the teachers from the previous day, setting them immediately to work with turning dinner plates into mushrooms.

Several students struggled with this, Bridget herself included. The best she had managed to do for the whole lesson was make a porcelain stalk grow from the bottom of her plate. At least the end result somewhat resembled a mushroom, she comforted herself, albeit with a plate in the place of its cap. Professor McGonagall, however, didn't agree and instructed them all to practice the spell for homework. Bridget was considerably cheered up when the bell dismissed them and signalled the shift to their next class – Care of Magical Creatures.

It had been Bridget's favourite class since their first week of third year, when she had chosen it as one of her electives. Her father had been sceptical of her choices ("Care of Magical Creatures and Divination?" he had said with a dubious squint. "They're not exactly useful subjects unless you decide to pursue them, Bridget."), but neither Arithmancy nor the Study of Ancient Runes were the least bit interesting to her – she hadn't even considered Muggle Studies – and they weren't of much use in the long run either. She had said as much to her father.

"Yes, but they're the more serious of the lot," he had replied. "Don't you think your two are a bit... well, frivolous?" Bridget's face had fallen, and her mother, never one to force anything onto her daughter, drew herself up to her full height. "It's her education, Bart," she had said, "so she can choose whatever she pleases." Mr Durant had muttered something about them always uniting against him, but the conversation, in effect, had ended.

As the students trudged across the school grounds, past the greenhouses where a group of second years were clutching their ears in agony while Professor Sprout proudly held up a Mandrake, Bridget delighted in choosing to study Care of Magical Creatures. She was the only one of her friends to truly enjoy it, as they often found it too tiresome and pointless to bother with. But to her, it never seemed like hard work.

She loved the sunlit classes outdoors, sitting in the grass with an animal in front of her, even if it was trying to bite off her hand (to be perfectly honest, those were some of her favourites as they kept the class lively). She found it fascinating to learn the characteristics of different creatures, their distinctive temperaments and habits, whether they only came out during a full moon to perform a few complicated dance moves or shot fire out of their rear ends.

But there was one more considerable perk to the lessons, and that perk was Silvanus Kettleburn.

Professor Kettleburn was a jovial man, enthusiastic to the extreme about creatures of all shapes and sizes, and adamant about constantly being surrounded by them – no matter how 'dangerous' they might have been. Such endeavours had left him with only one arm and a mere half of one leg over the years, leading to his being considered reckless by many in the school. His zeal as a teacher was notorious, earning him a record-setting forty-seven (and counting) probations thus far.

Kettleburn was Bridget's idol.

Nowadays though, he had greatly mellowed, most likely because of the fact that he had so few limbs left.

"Ah, there you are!" came the very man's booming voice. He stood inside a small pen, the fence of which seemed to have been made of large branches thrown together precariously. "Good seeing you all again. Come closer, come closer!" He was standing between two small creatures with large snouts and shaggy hair, both standing upright on two legs. "Now don't be ridiculous! Come here! Don't worry, they don't bite." This wasn't exactly the most reassuring of promises, as the last time he'd said that about a few Nifflers, they ended up attacking whoever was wearing any jewellery.

Still, the students inched forwards, stopping a few paces before the fence. Lily, in what she thought was a subtle manner, pulled Bridget in front of her, murmuring an excuse of, "You don't mind being bitten, yeah?" Bridget grinned at her and turned back to Kettleburn.

"Well, I've been hearing a lot of jabber about your O.W.L.s from the other teachers," he began, much to the displeasure of the students. "How crucial they are and all that bilge." This was a new approach – none of their previous teachers had called the exams 'bilge'. "Professor Dumbledore regularly reminds me to take fifth year classes especially seriously. As if I don't take all my other ones so." He shook his head as if asking whether they could believe such a thing.

"These exams – these O.W.L.s – they're just pieces of paper," he went on. "They can show you a trifling grade, but they can't show you what a student's made of! And this – this class – it isn't about what letter you get at the end. It's about the love for the animals, is what it is." He patted the head of one of the creatures at his side for emphasis. "So I won't be pushing anybody any more than I usually do, and we'll simply continue in the same way we always have." He ended with a bright smile, looking round at the students, each relieved at what they were hearing about the O.W.L.s for a change.

"Right, then." He clapped his hands loudly, jerking them out of their reverie. "Anyone have any idea what these lovely beasties are?"

What they turned out to be were Porlocks; creatures native to England and Southern Ireland, which could be found huddled in between herds of horses that they protected.

"Borrowed these two from a friend of mine," Kettleburn said. "Nice big horse ranch he's got. Anyway, Porlocks don't like humans much, and usually hide when they see one. I've picked out the friendliest of his lot, but avoid any sudden movements all the same. Now see, look at their hands!"

He carefully took hold of one Porlock's wrist and held it out for them all to observe. At the end of the small arm were four stubby fingers that the Porlock wriggled, shyly trying to pull back from all the attention it was getting.

"Wee little fingers," Kettleburn said affectionately. "You wouldn't know it just by looking at them, but these tiny devils will clamp onto you and won't let go until their master comes. Handy when catching intruders – oh, delightful pun."

The rest of the lesson was spent learning about proper feeding ("Nothing easier, just give them a bit of grass!") and caring for the Porlocks, as well as a short time sketching their features in order to remember them better.

By the end of the week, they all got used to the school-time routine once more. They were ready each morning to face another eight-hour day of classes, and even the piles of homework – though still an unpleasant occurrence – were no longer as great a shock as they were when the students had just come from two months of idleness and leisure.

Still, Bridget was grateful for the arrival of the weekend, which gave them a chance to slow down a little and breathe.

It was bright and early on Saturday morning that Bridget found herself accompanied to the Quidditch pitch by Lily and Marlene, who, in turn, were headed to the grounds to bask in sunshine.

"James forcing you to try out this year?" Marlene asked in surprise, nodding to Bridget's uniform.

"No, I won't even be flying today," Bridget said. "It's not a proper practice, just watching the tryouts, really – but James wants us all to be there in full gear. You know how he is, likes to keep things professional."

"He has an unhealthy obsession with that sport," Lily said as the three rounded a corner.

As they did so, another student nearly bumped into them and was about to argue, when his mouth suddenly snapped shut. His face turned an impressive shade of red, his eyes flickering from Marlene to the floor, as he awkwardly excused himself and hurried past them.

"Marvin Plaskitt?" Lily asked, watching him scurry away as fast as his legs could manage. "You've spoken to him about the Love Potion, then?"

"Not so much spoke to him as aimed a jinx at his arse," Marlene said nonchalantly, inciting a snort and a congratulatory pat on the arm from Lily and Bridget respectively.

They reached the archway that led to the outdoors then, and went their separate ways, Bridget promising to find them again once the tryouts were over. She followed the winding dirt path to the pitch, the grating of stones beneath her steps the only sound in the damp, hushed morning. The atmosphere of the stadium was livelier than that of the windswept grounds, with the tryouts just getting started and the prospective players chatting in a mix of nerves and hope.

James noticed her approaching and gave a short wave, directing her to the stands where two teammates already sat. One was Sirius, lounging with his feet on the seat below him and his back against the one behind, and the other was Gwen Randall, the Gryffindor Seeker.

"I haven't missed anything, have I?" Bridget asked when the two greeted her.

"James is just getting them into groups according to what they're trying out for," Gwen said.

"Shouldn't take long, this practice," Sirius said. "Seeing as we're only looking for one Beater and a Keeper."

Patting the seat next to her, Gwen said to Bridget, "You're a Wasps supporter, right?"

"Oh, no. Are we discussing best Quidditch teams?" Bridget guessed with a cautious smile. "It's a dangerous topic, you know. Ruins friendships."

"We've been keeping it civil," Sirius assured her. "After all, we're mature. We can discuss sports without lunging at each other's necks."

Bridget shot him a sarcastically doubtful look. "Last time we had this discussion, we didn't speak for a week. We made a pact, Sirius: never again!"

"I promise I won't breathe a word about the Arrows," Sirius said.

Bridget's eye instinctively twitched at the mention of the Wimbourne Wasps' mortal enemies. For centuries, the two teams had been in a relentless struggle for the upper hand, which had at this point become ancient tradition. It had been during a game between the two that one of the Wimbourne Beaters, not about to suffer defeat to those pesky Northerners, whacked a wasps' nest at the Arrows' Seeker, hitting him right in the forehead in what was later called "the poorest show of sportsmanship of the 17th century." Nevertheless, the incident was the stuff of legend, simultaneously giving the Wasps their emblem and starting the greatest rivalry in Quidditch history.

"Nothing about them currently being higher up in the standings?" Bridget clarified in a tight voice (it hurt just to say it).

"Not a peep." Sirius even held his right hand over his heart.

Keeping things civil, it turned out, was not as difficult as expected. They talked about the recent matches they'd watched; about Chasers' swift twists and turns, Beaters' most underhanded employments of Bludgers, said Bludgers' roughest, grisliest doings, and Keepers' tragic shortcomings and roar-inducing saves.

By the time the Keeper tryouts began, the three were discussing the Chudley Cannons' last-place position in the league (Bridget honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry over their pitiful performance so far).

"They've changed their motto recently, haven't they?" Gwen said. "What was it?'We shall conquer' to 'Let's all just keep our fingers crossed' –"

"– 'and hope for the best!'" Bridget said, with Sirius' voice overlapping hers.

They fell into such loud bursts of snorts and cackles that James looked up from the pitch and shouted, "Oi! Holding a tryout down here! You mind?"

Still recovering their breaths, the two Chasers and the Seeker waved apologetically and called out small 'sorry's. Then they settled into a comfortable silence, broken only by short chuckles as each shook their head, thinking, "Ah, Cannons."

"By the way," Sirius began after a few moments, his tone calmer. "D'you read the Prophet yesterday?"

"The Bats versus Magpies review? Yeah, the match sounded brilliant," Bridget said.

"Not that. Page three?" Sirius prompted, raising his eyebrows meaningfully.

Bridget's face fell. She remembered Lily pointing out the article to her at breakfast: a report of an Aurors' ambush on a group of Death Eaters that had ultimately failed. The Auror Office had discovered the time and place of a secret meeting of You-Know-Who's supporters, but when Aurors arrived at the scene, it had been empty. As if the Death Eaters had known an attack was coming and evacuated.

The Prophet, of course, had interpreted this in a positive light. They claimed the Death Eaters had fled because they feared a fight – because they feared the Ministry.

"Yeah, seemed pretty dodgy," Bridget said with a grimace. "Can't trust the Prophet much these days."

"What d'you mean?" Gwen asked, stricken. "The article said the Death Eaters took off. Isn't that a good thing?"

"Well, that's the point. The Prophet merely skimmed over the fact that the Death Eaters had left. It didn't explain how they'd known to do so," Bridget said. "But it must've been because they knew Aurors were coming."

"You know what I reckon?" Sirius said. "They have an informer in the Ministry."

"Don't be stupid!" Gwen snapped, clearly unnerved by the idea.

"Why not? They've got spies everywhere," Sirius pointed out. "Wouldn't be hard to pull off."

"It's possible," Bridget agreed. "They said it was supposed to be a covert mission – the Auror Office only disclosed it once it had fallen through. No one should have known about it earlier."

"Think about it," Sirius said to Gwen. "It's the fourth ambush that's failed – someone's keeping the Death Eaters informed so they know when to vanish in time."

"How do you know that?" Gwen asked. "How can you be so sure they knew about the ambush beforehand?"

"What other explanation is there?" Bridget asked her gently.

"The Aurors' information might have been wrong!" Gwen said.

"Four times?" Sirius asked sceptically. "If that's the case, then they're pretty rubbish at their job."

Gwen shook her head, refusing to listen to them. "Sorry, but I just don't believe it. You two are off your rockers. The Ministry's got everything under control."

Bridget understood why Gwen was so determined to argue. The enemy creeping into their government? Into the system that was meant to protect them? 'Scary' would be an understatement. Bridget herself sometimes wanted to shut her eyes and ignore what was going on, wanted to believe that no threat was coming. But she knew well enough from the pure-blood dinners – where they whispered and smirked, praising "the Dark Lord and his army" – she knew that it was coming.

Denying the problem wouldn't make it go away.

"Listen, it wouldn't be the first time the Ministry was controlling the Prophet," Sirius said. "Last Thursday, two Aurors were sent to St. Mungo's after being cornered by a few Death Eaters. And did you know that they've tried to kill the Head of the Auror Office three times already? The Prophet doesn't report any of it because the Ministry wants it to look like everything's in order. But it's not, Voldemort's – ow, bloody hell, what's wrong with you two?" Bridget and Gwen had both hit him – Bridget punching him in the arm, and Gwen landing a hard push in his side. "All right, You-Know-Who, is that better? He's gaining more supporters all the time, and the Ministry's got to make a harder effort in countering that."

"And how do you suggest they do that?" Gwen demanded.

"Well," Bridget spoke up, recalling what her father had discussed with her about the situation. "There are rumours that You-Know-Who's got the giants on his side. And it's only a matter of time before it's publicly acknowledged that the werewolves are with him too. He's getting the groups that wizards have oppressed for years – the groups that are looking for a change of power so they're treated better. Maybe the Ministry can start by fixing that."

Gwen sighed, running a hand across her face. She was quiet for a moment, until she saw a figure approaching them. "Look, Lance is coming up with the new Beater."

Lance Morcott, the remaining Beater from the previous year, was heading up to join them after spending the tryouts on the pitch with James, helping in the recruitment of his new partner.

"Let's just brighten up and meet him," Gwen said.

Bridget and Sirius exchanged a glance as Gwen got up to greet their new teammate. It was exactly that attitude that was the problem with the Wizarding community: "Let's just smile and pretend nothing's happening."