Hooray! Round 5 for QLFC. This time my team all has to write about the same character, but in different years at Hogwarts, and we settled on Cedric! Round 5 Prompts:

1. setting: Cedric, my team's character, in his second year

2. quote: "Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams

3. phrase: return the favor

4. word count: 1,234 (and, to the judge: because FF is very weird about word counts, please let me know if you need me to forward you just the attachment on its own or something if you need to check the count)

ANYWAY! Enjoy, love you! :)

29 September 1990

Cedric took a long, deep breath, steeling himself before he opened the round door of his dormitory, which led into the Hufflepuff common room. Shouldering his broomstick and looking around surreptitiously, he hurried across the faded golden carpet to the staircase that led to the backside of a painting of Helga Hufflepuff's childhood home.

"Hey, good luck, Cedric!"

"We're so proud of our ickle Beater!"

Cedric turned scarlet with embarrassed amusement and smiled down at his friends, who were all still in their pajamas; Michael Summers, Geoff Stebbins, and a number of other second year boys were yawning sleepily up at him from the doorway to their dormitory, waving and whistling as Geoff pretended to blow his nose on Michael's sleeve.

"Oh, buck up," Michael said, laughing at Cedric's uncomfortable expression. "We're supporting our Ceddy!"

"Right, thanks, I'll be sure and return the favor sometime. See you idiots later," Cedric said.

"That's my little overachiever! Go and practice, Ceddy darling!" Geoff called, pulling off a sock and waving it like a handkerchief as Cedric left the common room, rolling his eyes.

Taking a deep breath, Cedric trudged through the castle and out onto the misty lawn, lit by the early morning sun reflecting through the silvery clouds. He was going to do it, he knew he could, and he was going to be the best Beater at the tryouts today. He let himself into the broomshed by the changing rooms off the Quidditch pitch and took down one of the worn Beaters' bats that belonged to the school, swinging it a few times to test it.

It wasn't exactly like Dad's, but his father prized his old bat from his days on the Ravenclaw team, and Cedric hadn't been allowed to pack it in his trunk for his second year. Dad had promised, though, that if Cedric got the position on the Hufflepuff team, then he'd send his old club by owl post.

Cedric swung the bat a few more times, getting his arm used to the weight. Then he clambered on his broomstick and began to fly in wide circles over the pitch, practicing the same arm movement.

"Okay," he muttered to himself. "Okay, I can do this. Just have to not kill anybody with a Bludger. Sure. I can do that."

He hopped off his broom and hurried back to the broomshed, now searching for the case that held the practice Quaffle, Bludgers, and Snitch. He dug it out and dragged it, huffing and panting, onto the Quidditch pitch and opened it.

Picking up his bat and broomstick again, Cedric released one of the squirming Bludgers. It rocketed into the air, and Cedric shot off on his broom, away from its trajectory, the bat tucked under one arm. He grinned as the breeze ruffled through his hair; this was the best part of flying: soaring and weaving through the air as fast as he possibly could. It would be worth it to join the Hufflepuff team just for this feeling.

A whistling noise over his head caught his attention, and he swerved hard to the left as the Bludger came crashing down, missing his right shoulder by inches. As it came hurtling back up, Cedric took a hard swing at it and sent the Bludger careening off towards the stands.

Cedric groaned; he'd been aiming for the goal posts at the opposite end of the pitch. He had a feeling that Nymphadora Tonks, the Hufflepuff Captain, would hardly be pleased if their fans feared for their lives every time he took a swing at a Bludger. She may have been friendly and welcoming when he'd expressed interest in trying out for Beater, but Tonks took Quidditch seriously, and had nobody but the best on the Hufflepuff team.

Heaving a sigh, Cedric executed a hairpin turn and waited for the Bludger to return. He would get it, and get it right, in time for the Beater trials, and he'd be writing his parents tonight about his success at the tryouts.

Cedric kicked a small rock up the gravel walk between the castle and the pitch, muttering darkly to himself. If only he'd been a little quicker on that third hit, Selena Gordon wouldn't have beaten him to it; if only he'd managed to dive earlier, that Bludger wouldn't have hit him, raising a stinging welt on his thigh; if only he'd seen Tonks when he'd aimed that last Bludger on the only direct hit he'd managed all day.

Cringing with embarrassment (though even Tonks, whose elbow he had smashed, had gamely congratulated him on the hit as she was taken off the pitch to the hospital wing), Cedric shook his head and kicked the rock a few more feet ahead of him. It bounced off the path and down the grassy slope.

"Hey, kid," called a voice somewhere on the path ahead of him. Cedric looked up.

Charlie Weasley, a broad-chested, freckle-faced Gryffindor seventh year, grinned at him from halfway up the path. He was dressed in his scarlet Quidditch robes, the large letter C gleaming on the badge on his chest; clearly the Gryffindor team had their trials next.

"Saw what you did to Tonks," Charlie grinned, coming closer to Cedric. "That was a pretty good hit, but you could probably work on your aim. Guess you're not getting the job?"

"No, I'm not," Cedric muttered dully. "But thanks." The last thing he was in the mood for was being reminded that he'd practically killed his potential team Captain, least of all by her boyfriend.

"Aw, I'm just teasing. You clearly don't have any older brothers," Charlie joked. Cedric shook his head, and Charlie looked amused. "Right. Well, couple of tips. First, try not to take off your lead Chaser's arm. Second, I wouldn't try out for Beater at all, with speed like yours."

Cedric frowned. "Huh?"

"Look, you're a damn good flier, loads better than I'd expect to see in a second year," Charlie told him. "Really. Most of the younger tryouts are still just barely figuring out that part of this whole flying thing is missing the ground when you throw yourself at it. Last year at tryouts I saw one Chaser take a dive and just not pull back from it. Didn't even try. No idea what he thought he was doing." Charlie shook his head, as though the memory still pained him. Then he waved a hand, bringing himself back to his point. "Anyhow, you're not doing that. Which is pretty good."

"Okay. Thanks," Cedric mumbled.

"What's your favorite thing about Quidditch, mate?"

"What do you mean?"

"Exactly what I said, what's your favorite part?"

"I likeā€¦ flying. Just flying. You know that feeling you get?" Cedric hesitated, wondering if he sounded foolish.

Then, to his surprise, Charlie grinned. "Aw, mate, you've got to try out for Seeker, then. Just try it. I'll bet you a Galleon you're brilliant."

Cedric smiled slightly; he had no reason to think that Charlie Weasley, extremely cool Gryffindor Captain and Seeker, bore him any ill will, but he had never picked himself out for Seeking, a very singular and rather star-studded job, in his mind.

"Well, for the record, Seeking's definitely got all the best parts of flying," Charlie told him, now passing him on the path to the pitch. "Give it some thought, yeah?"

"Yeah," Cedric replied, starting to grin. "Thanks."