A note to several reviewers:
Yeah, so...I'm...ssssslllllllloooooooowwwwwww...with...updates. And no one's ever successfully rewritten the entire series! Do you think I'll be the first to manage it? (Unlikely) Do I have dreams of doing it anyway? (Oh, sure) Do I have ideas for where the story's going? (...Some) When will my next update be? (…?) And there was one very young soul (I'm guessing) who asked me about the Bechdel test. Google, my friend. Google. In short, though, the Bechdel test is a simple test to see if depictions of women in the media demonstrate any sort of agency outside the influence of men. It's an extremely low bar to get over, and it's stunning how many movies, books, TV shows, fanfics, etc, fail the test. It's a very, very low bar. The bar is actually just lying on the ground. (A couple of my HP fics pass, barely. A couple of them don't.) This fic, I'm proud to say, passes the Bechdel test WITH FLYING COLORS.
This fic also brings to mind a fairly recent study I heard about on NPR, about how-when there's mixed groups of people, both men and women in the group will say that it's about a 50-50 split between men and women when the percentage is as low as, like, 10% female. (There's the same problem with minorities.) This causes you to think that the world of Harry Potter, for example, is roughly 50% female. But when I go and flip the genders, it suddenly feels that Harry Potter is populated with approximately 95% females. And that is because the original world of Harry Potter is approximately 95% male. That's right, there are two hundred characters in Harry Potter, and only ten of them are chicks. And one of them is the Fat Lady, so go suck on that for a while. And JK Rowling is neither backwards nor misogynistic. She's just a human in Western Civilization.
This makes me sound bitter; I'm not. But once you've been made aware of these things, you can't un-notice them. If this phenomenon has never been pointed out to you, YOU'RE WELCOME. Carry on. Go enjoy your Star Wars/Star Trek/But my fandom has strong female characters, seriously!/whatever. But once you notice that Princess Leia is literally the only woman standing in the war room, it feels significantly less like a feminist achievement. Oh, sure, she's General Organa, now. How progressive-I can certainly see how putting another woman in the scene would just be redundant.
(Okay, maybe I'm a teensy bit bitter. But I would argue that the point still stands.)
OH, BY THE WAY, ACTUAL CHAPTER NOTES AHEAD: This chapter is 100% solid fluff. How can fluff be solid? Oh, you just wait. I've managed it.
Immediately after the Quidditch tryouts, Serafima went to Dumbledore's office to see how far she could bend the ban on first-years bringing their own brooms to school. She dreaded the conversation, but it must be done. Even as she ascended the spiral staircase, she didn't know how to approach the topic with the headmistress. All of Serafima's cunning failed her when dealing with the grandmotherly woman.
When Ariana Dumbledore bade her to enter, Serafima decided on the simple truth. She sat down in the armchair in front of Dumbledore's desk and said without preamble, "Daisy Evans just made the Slytherin Quidditch team while flying on a school broom."
Dumbledore blinked and smiled. "Did she really? Which position?"
"On a school broom. My, my, that is something."
"It is indeed. Now my concern is the ban on first-year brooms."
Ariana chuckled. "Indeed."
"Naturally, if Miss Evans can outfly even Teresa Higgs-who you'll remember had some spectacular catches last year, and did her trials this year on a new Comet Two-Sixty-then Miss Evans should be able to beat anybody on a school broom. However, forcing a house player to use such an inferior piece of equipment does appear to put Slytherin at a disadvantage."
"And we'd naturally like to avoid the appearance of partiality, in either direction."
"Allowing a first-year her own broom when she makes her house team is not partiality," Serafima argued. "When was the last time a first-year made a house team?"
Ariana turned around to look at the portraits behind her. Luisa Collingsworth, headmistress from 1832 to 1844, cleared her throat. "During my time, a first-year Gryffindor boy made his house team. I waived the ban for him."
The other portraits nodded.
"Well, there we have it," Dumbledore said. "The wisdom of the ages. Miss Evans shall be allowed her own broom."
"Thank you, Headmistress," Serafima said. She started to stand, but Dumbledore stopped her.
"Serafima, one more thing before you leave, if you will."
Serafima sat back down.
"I have some concerns about Quirina. I would like for you to keep an eye on her."
Serafima frowned deeply. She'd been doing her best to avoid the other woman, ostensibly because of the odor that hung around her, but really because the ridiculous woman made her unaccountably nervous. Serafima just felt...deeply uncomfortable in Quirina Quirrel's presence.
But why would the headmistress feel the same way? And why single out Serafima for the task? And what did Dumbledore expect Serafima to watch for? To make sure the woman didn't grow another head?
Ordinarily, Serafima would bury these questions, but with Dumbledore, the direct path was best. So she asked, "Do you distrust her, Dumbledore?"
The headmistress eyed Serafima calmly. "Do you?"
"Of course I do, but I never imagined you would feel the same way."
"Perhaps I do not distrust her. Perhaps I am merely worried that Hogwarts has not had a Defense teacher who lasted more than three terms in a good long while."
"The story was always that the Dark Lady put a curse on the post."
"That was the story, yes."
Serafima shifted uncomfortably. "But now that Daisy Evans has re-entered the Magical world..."
Dumbledore nodded. "You understand me, Serafima. Lady Voldemort has acted rashly before, where Daisy Evans was concerned."
Oh, there were times when Serafima hated Dumbledore with every fiber of her being. The woman could oh-so-casually remind Serafima that the Dark Lady had murdered James Evans-and tried to murder his daughter-based only on a part of a prophecy given by a fraudulent man that Serafima happened to overhear and chose to report to her mistress. Yes, the Dark Lady had acted rashly, but the same could be said for Serafima-as Dumbledore seemed so keen to remind her. Serafima seethed, but spoke in a level voice. "I shall continue to pay my debt to you, Headmistress. If you wish me to watch over Quirrel, then of course I shall do so."
"Very good. Thank you, Serafima."
The fact that Felina Malfoy helped Daisy Evans earn a spot on the Slytherin Quidditch team was not lost on either one of the girls. The rest of the school didn't know the details; they just knew that Daisy had shown up to the tryouts, and when Marcy Flint asked her which position she was trying for, Daisy looked at her like a gnome just thrown from the garden. Marcy mumbled something about "Muggle-raised," which made Daisy feel bad, but then Marcy said, "Well, what are you waiting for? Get on that broom and show me what you've got." Daisy did, and not knowing what else to do, she had flown around the pitch a few times, zig-zagging in between the goal-posts for fun. Then she heard Marcy laughing. Calling Daisy back to the ground, Marcy said, "You're trying out for Seeker. We'll explain the rules of Quidditch later, yeah?"
Sam and Alex Weasley, who made the team for the second year in a row as Beaters, volunteered to explain the basics of the game to her the following day. "Slytherin has been on a winning streak," they told her. "You're joining the best team at Hogwarts."
This should have made Daisy nervous with the burden of high expectations, but instead she was bolstered by the twins' cheerful confidence.
"And," Sam said, "Professor Snape told us that she got old Dumbledore to waive the restriction on first-year brooms for you, so you can bring your broom from home!"
Daisy's spirits sagged slightly, and Alex noticed right away. "Don't be stupid, Sam," Alex said. "Daisy was raised by Muggles-she probably doesn't have her own broom, right Daisy?"
Daisy shook her head, and Sam looked shocked. "The Muggles didn't let you have your own broom?"
"I'm pretty sure that if the Muggles found out I was flying on a broom, they wouldn't let me back in the house," Daisy said.
Sam and Alex looked scandalized, but Alex recovered first. "Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but still. That's bizarre."
"So what kind of broom are you going to get?" Sam asked.
"How much money do you have?" Alex asked.
"Mind, if you don't have a lot of money, we happen to know of some places that sell some nice refurbished brooms," Sam said.
"Exactly. Quality Quidditch Supplies doesn't exactly cater to a wide clientele," Alex said.
"Erm," Daisy said.
Sam patted Daisy on the head. "Don't worry, love. We'll help you out. We'd never steer you wrong."
"First, you need to write to the Muggles to see how much money they can spare for some much-needed school supplies."
"Erm," Daisy said.
Alex continued as if Daisy hadn't said anything-which really, she hadn't, but Alex and Sam both seemed to understand what she hadn't said. "We'll assume that the money from the Muggles will be negligible."
"Trifling," Sam said.
"Insignificant," Alex said.
"Non-existent," Daisy clarified.
"Understood. Second-hand broom it is. But even for that, you need some money. Perhaps you have a sickly great-aunt?"
"A willingness to be an illegal potions mule?"
Daisy laughed, even though she wasn't entirely sure the twins were joking. "My parents did leave me some money, but it has to last the whole time I'm at Hogwarts."
The twins nodded and waited, but Daisy didn't know what for. "What?" she finally asked.
"We're just waiting on a galleon amount."
"I...I don't know, really. And even if I did, I'm still not completely sure about Magical money. How much does a used broom cost, anyway?"
"Oh, love," Sam said. "We can probably get you a deep discount, anyway."
"You are Daisy Evans, after all," Alex agreed.
"That should be good for at least forty galleons."
The twins actually drafted a letter to Broom Again, a second-hand Quidditch shop in Hogsmeade, and they made Daisy copy it in her own handwriting.
To whom it may concern,
My name is Daisy Evans
("Hold on a moment," Daisy said. "Why do I have to go introducing myself right away? Won't they read my name at the bottom?" Sam had shaken her head. "Daisy, when you're looking for a favor, it's never too early to name-drop.")
and I just made Seeker on the Slytherin Quidditch team. I did the tryouts on a school broom, but now that I've made the team, Professor Dumbledore has given me special permission to have my own broom, even though I'm a first-year.
("I don't need to give them my whole life story," Daisy argued. Unruffled, Alex said, "But you do need to tell them just enough.")
I'd like to buy a really nice broom, but I don't have a lot of galleons to spare. I was wondering what kind of broom I could get in the 20-galleon range.
("Twenty galleons? Isn't that kind of a lot? I'm not sure I can spare that much." "It's barely enough for a bottom-of-the-line broom, only slightly better than the school models," Sam said. "But don't worry-it's the perfect amount for our purposes. Enough to conceivably buy a broom, but not so much that a poor orphan girl couldn't manage it if she were determined." This made Daisy pause. "I suppose they know I'm an orphan, then?" Alex laughed. "That's why you introduced yourself in the opening line, love.")
I appreciate your time in this matter.
Daisy sent the letter off with Ludwig, the beautiful black owl she'd gotten for her birthday. Ludwig hadn't had much to do, since Daisy didn't get a lot of letters, and he seemed very happy to finally be able to deliver some post.
Ludwig returned the very next morning with a reply from Malcolm Trudeau, the owner of Broom Again, who said that Daisy was welcome to visit the shop any time she was able. In fact, Mr Trudeau seemed very eager and mentioned several different kinds of brooms that he was "sure will meet your needs" and could fall within Daisy's budget "with some minimal allowances." Sam and Alex cheered when they read the letter over Daisy's shoulder.
"Go talk to Snape!" Sam said. "She'll take you to Hogsmeade next weekend, for sure."
Daisy went to talk to Professor Snape at the end of breakfast, explaining the letter she'd sent and the letter she'd received. The woman didn't say much while Daisy told her story, and it made Daisy uncomfortable as Snape frowned down at her over her hooked nose. When Daisy finished, there was an uncomfortable silence before Professor Snape said, "I suppose you're going to promise me that you'll win every game for Slytherin if only I do this favor for you?"
Daisy squirmed. "Well, I've never even played Quidditch, so I don't know. But, erm, I promise I'll do my best."
And then Professor Snape said something very odd. She said it quietly, like she was talking to herself. "You really don't have much of Lily Potter in you at all, do you?"
This confused Daisy. The only Lily she knew was her mum-her parents had been James and Lily Evans-Ruby Hagrid had told her as much, when the tiny woman had found her in the cabin on the sea, and delivered her Hogwarts letter. "James and Lily Evans?" the woman had squeaked, and Daisy thought, "Those must have been my parents. My parents were named James and Lily Evans, and they named me Daisy." And then Miss Hagrid-as she insisted that Daisy call her-had looked up at Daisy (because Miss Hagrid really was quite short) and told her that she looked just like Lily, but had James's eyes.
It had been the closest Daisy had ever felt to her parents-just learning their names, and that Daisy had something of theirs-she had her mother's looks and her father's eyes. It made her feel connected to someone-connected to a past-in a way that she'd never felt before. Ever since then, if she was feeling lonely, she'd think to herself, "James and Lily Evans," and it made her feel like maybe she belonged, even if it was only a little bit, and even if it was a long time ago.
But Lily must not have been born Lily Evans.
Professor Snape seemed to be asking her a question.
"I'm sorry ma'am?"
"I said I can take you to Hogsmeade this coming weekend."
"Does that not work with your busy social calendar?" Snape bit out.
"Oh, no, that's fine, thank you," Daisy said, and shook herself. "I was just wondering if Lily Potter was my mum."
Snape's face twisted-even more than usual-but then she managed to smooth her eyes and mouth back out. Her nose, unfortunately, remained hooked. "Saturday morning, after breakfast. Do not be late," the woman finally said, and stood and left the Great Hall.
Daisy was not so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she didn't notice that Professor Snape had acted very oddly.
During that week, Daisy finally was able to transfigure a matchstick into a needle. She was happy to be thoroughly average in her attempts. Beth Zabini got hers to work about five minutes before her, and David Greengrass did it about five minutes after her. They were very pleased with themselves, but none more so than Professor McGonagall. "Good, good!" he said. "Now that you have completed your first true transfiguration, now you'll be able to work on more complicated changes!" Then he assigned them an essay on Borick's theory on transfiguring big objects into small objects.
In Herbology, Professor Sprout paired them up and had them planting seeds and putting different fertilizers on them to see which was best. It was a great deal of fun to dig around in the dirt, but unfortunately, Daisy was paired with Herman Granger, who could be a crushing bore. "Phyllida Spore says very clearly that almost all plants do better with dragon dung fertilizer than anything else," the boy said. "I don't know why we're doing this experiment if we already know what it's going to show."
"Well, maybe the seeds we're planting are the exception," Daisy said, trying to keep her voice level. It helped that she didn't look at Herman, instead keeping her eyes on the soil as she gently patted it down. She had quite a bit of dirt under her fingernails.
"Hmph," Herman said, and Daisy ignored him and started to meticulously clean her fingernails.
In Defense Against the Dark Arts, Professor Quirrel said that a Ravenclaw had asked her if hexes or jinxes required a more malevolent intent. (Professor Quirrel didn't say who the Ravenclaw was, but Daisy would bet anything that it was Herman Granger.) "This q-q-question isn't even a g-g-good one," Professor Quirrel said, "s-s-s-since c-c-curses require the m-m-most m-m-m-malevolent intent." Daisy sighed and wrote this in her notes.
Potions was Daisy's favorite class because Ronnie was in it. Sometimes, Ronnie sat with Daisy and Beth Zabini and David Greengrass, and other times Daisy sat with Ronnie and Levar Brown and Pradeep Patil, two Gryffindor boys. Daisy and Ronnie made a habit of pairing together, and they'd gotten better at making potions since their first lackluster attempts. This week, they made a very good clarifying solution, and even Professor Snape didn't have anything bad to say about it.
Their teacher's perfect indifference towards their good work was too much for Felina Malfoy, who had partnered with Alicia Crabbe, as usual, and had again produced an exceptional potion, if looks were anything to go by. As Professor Snape barely paused when looking into Daisy and Ronnie's cauldron, Felina snorted from across the room. "I suppose that Daisy Evans will be graded on a curve, now that she's Slytherin's new Quidditch star," she said.
"Are you accusing me of favoritism?" Professor Snape asked silkily, and continued speaking before Felina or anyone else could respond. "Because if you think it would help your grade, perhaps the rest of you should do your best to endear yourselves to me. I assure you, I would not mind." Some of the Slytherins giggled nervously, and Daisy didn't dare look up. Professor Snape continued. "I'm not saying that such behavior will raise your grade, but know this with certainty: none of you wants to make an enemy of me."
Daisy had thought that Professor Snape sounded threatening when she called out the roll, but she had been wrong. When Professor Snape actually made a threat, everyone who heard it felt the need to make sure all their limbs were still attached and working properly.
Even Felina Malfoy shut her mouth and looked down at her hands in her lap, as she curled and uncurled her fingers. Daisy thought she was probably just making sure she still could.
Serafima spent all week dreading Saturday morning. Between classes and Head-of-House duties and detentions, she rarely got any time to herself, but taking Daisy Evans into Hogsmeade to go broom shopping was surely the worst thing she'd ever have to do.
The girl hadn't even known her own mother's name.
Serafima tried to focus on her dread about Saturday's errand-because if she let the dread slip from her mind, she found herself remembering James's worthless brother, Vernon. Vernon Evans was a wiry, mean boy-hateful to James and hateful to Serafima. Vernon was not violent, really, but he had been capable of a coldness that even Serafima had a hard time understanding, and she had grown up with her parents.
With Vernon as her only connection to James, Daisy Evans possibly didn't even know her own father's name, let alone her mother's. It was possible that Vernon had never known Lily's name.
Not that Lily Potter was worth knowing, of course. But she was Miss Evans's mother.
Shopping for brooms would surely be wretched.
But Saturday morning came, as Saturday mornings tend to do, and after breakfast, Miss Evans walked up to the head table and stood in front of Serafima. The girl looked terribly uncomfortable, which helped to settle Serafima slightly.
"What's wrong?" Serafima demanded.
"I...I just realized that I don't have any money with me, so even if I find a broom I like, I can't buy it right away."
Oh, for the love of Merlin. Serafima knew the proprietor of Broom Again personally, and Malcolm Trudeau would see this whole situation as a priceless opportunity. Daisy Evans was going to walk out of his store today with any broom she wanted, and she wouldn't pay a knut for it. And it would be the best business decision Trudeau could make.
But evidently Miss Evans hadn't added the ginkgo to the fish oil yet. Well, it would be best if she acted like she was going to pay, anyway. "Don't let Mr Trudeau know that," Serafima advised. "Act like you have money in your pocket, right up until the end."
The two walked into Hogsmeade under the most uncomfortable silence imaginable. Serafima kept remembering Vernon Evans against her will. What was the name of that fat woman he'd married? Serafima had met her once; she was horrible. She had a flower name, too-both James and Vernon had married awful women with flower names-it was the one thing the brothers ever had in common. Had her name been Rose? No, Begonia. Or Peony.
When they finally arrived at Broom Again, Malcolm Trudeau was delighted to see them, and immediately showed Miss Evans some brooms he'd set aside as soon as he'd got her letter. The first one he pulled out was a Comet Two Sixty, which raised Serafima's eyebrows. It was suspicious for such a new broom to be in a second-hand shop.
When Miss Evans held the broom in her hand, she frowned. "I, er, I don't think I like this one much," she said.
"But it's the newest model-just came out in July! Don't you want to fly it?"
Miss Evans shifted on her feet. "Not really. It feels worse than most of the school brooms." Then she looked at Malcolm. "Sorry," she added belatedly.
But Malcolm was smiling delightedly. "Very good, so you're not just here for a fancy-looking broom with an expensive name," he said.
"No," she said. "I just wanted a good broom for flying."
Malcolm turned to Serafima. "I thought she may have made the team on her name alone, but she must have some talent. That Comet Two Sixty has some defective charms that I haven't quite been able to fix." He turned back to Miss Evans. "I'm delighted that you seem to have a feel for brooms. Let's see what I can get for you."
He brought out a polished but slightly battered Shooting Star, which made Miss Evans smile. Malcolm ushered the girl to a small field out back where she could try out the broom, then he pulled out a camera and took a few pictures.
Serafima cleared her throat, and he looked back at her, abashed. "Just a few pictures-I'm sure Daisy won't mind."
"And I'm sure you know that displaying pictures of a minor is illegal without the consent of a parent or guardian."
"Oh, Serafima, you know her guardians are Muggles! That's not fair!"
Serafima looked at him pointedly. "The girl is in my House. As her Head, I can act in loco parentis."
"I will have to approve of any pictures you choose to display or use in advertisements. And I will be able to immediately remove anything I find objectionable."
"Oh, absolutely," Malcolm said, and turned his attention back to Miss Evans. He snapped a few more pictures of her, as she laughed delightedly and did loop-the-loops. She landed a few moments later, and he asked her, "So, is this the broom you want?"
"Well, it is the best broom I've ever flown," she said, and Malcolm scrambled to write that sentence down. "But I've only flown on two brooms before, and they were both school brooms." Malcolm's face fell slightly. Miss Evans continued, "I mean, I'd just like to try some more brooms before I decide, is all."
She tried six more before she decided on a Cleansweep Three. "I don't even have to think about it-it just goes where I want it to!" she gushed, and Malcolm wrote that sentence down, too.
In the end, Malcolm gave the girl the broom free of charge (as she blushed furiously and offered a token payment repeatedly), in exchange for the ability to display some photographs of Daisy Evans riding the broom and a quote of Daisy Evans gushing about Broom Again broomsticks. "And possibly some adverts," he mumbled, to which Serafima replied firmly, "We'll see."
Miss Evans and Malcolm Trudeau both left happy. But Serafima still couldn't shake her memories of Vernon Evans.