After a busy weekend holding tryouts, and finishing his homework with Hermione and Ron, Harry found himself in the Hufflepuff O.W.L. study room on Tuesday, as it was his turn to supervise the younger students. Three fourth year students were using the group area to practise the summoning charm, and Harry could tell that they were struggling, and getting more frustrated. He understood that they probably felt too intimidated to approach Harry.
"It's Sarah, Newt and Emma right?" Harry asked the three fourth years, who nodded back. "Show me what you have been doing, I will try and help you."
The three students continued attempting to summon the three quills that they had laid on the table, it was clear to Harry what their problem was.
"With most charms and spells the smaller the object, the easier it is to transfigure or use a charm on the object, which is why I am guessing you chose quills instead of books. The summoning charm is different in that it is not enough to have the right pronunciation or wand movement, or even imagining the object coming towards you. You need to 'want' the object to come towards you, the summon must have a purpose."
"But we want to practise the charm, not use the object," Newt countered.
"Which is why you are struggling, remember two years ago during the Triwizard Tournament, I summoned my broomstick from the Gryffindor dormitory, about a mile away from the stadium. I desperately needed the broomstick to complete the task, and that is what powered the charm. Try imagining that you had an essay for Potions, and you needed your quill to finish it. Imagine using the quill to write the essay. Now try the charm again," Harry instructed.
After a couple of failed attempts, Emma was able to summon her quill, and the other two fourth years successfully performed the charm soon after.
"Why don't you try summoning a bigger item," Harry said after the trio thanked him. "Let me know if you need more help."
Harry felt as though he had found his place in Hufflepuff. Most of the students were welcoming, except Zacharias Smith, with whom he shared a dormitory. His days were more peaceful, and he was managing his N.E.W.T. workload well.
Unexpectedly Harry found himself being invited to a dinner party on Thursday evening with Professor Slughorn. He had only had a few lessons with the teacher so far, and found him to be a bit unnerving as Harry often caught the professor staring at him. There was a rumour going around the school suggesting that Dumbledore had personally asked the man to come out of retirement to allow Snape (a supposedly suitable teacher), to take the Defence position. Admittedly the change in teacher had allowed Harry to improve his potion's skills significantly, whilst he began to put less effort in his defence class as Snape would always find a reason to insult him and put him down.
As Harry left to go to the dinner party he was joined by Alexis Parker, a seventh year Hufflepuff whose family were the makers of Butterbeer in back 1729. The pair headed up to the sixth floor where he could find the teacher's office. Entering the office, he was surprised to see a number of familiar faces, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna. It must be Luna's charm and mystique that intrigued Professor Slughorn, as someone who stands out from the crowd. Along with his friends, Harry could see a couple of Slytherins, noticeably Blaise Zabini who was also a sixth year. He was happy to not see any death eater children at the dinner, Draco's father exposing the family's true allegiance last summer. Malfoy would have to work hard in Potions this year, with his family's name being disgraced. Zabini ignored him during the dinner, but Harry was able to strike up a conversation with Marcus Belby, a fifth year Ravenclaw. It was an opportunity to get to know some Ravenclaws and Slytherins, with whom he'd have to house with for a few weeks. All in all, the dinner was an interesting affair, but he was quite happy to leave and not be under the professor's gaze.
By the following weekend Harry had successfully learnt how to get into the Hufflepuff common room, without being squirted with vinegar, and had gained the respect of most of the house. He also managed to avoid getting another detention from Snape, having ignored the teacher's spiteful comments. A lack of stress had improved his patience. Saturday morning brought the first autumnal downpour, and unfortunately for Harry he would have to help sort the second league quidditch teams to pick his reserve players.
The first league teams would help arrange the players into fair teams, but the session would be overseen by Madam Hooch, and Professor Snape who was the best flier from the staff. The chill from the rain, and Snape's animosity towards Harry dampened the mood. As Madam Hooch held a quick flying lesson for the first years, Harry waited for Snape to address the older students, and divide them up by the different positions.
"Malfoy, Summersby, Chang and Potter divide the seekers into four groups and practise playing with golf balls," Snape drawled, "and no dangerous stunts. I'm looking at you Potter."
Harry couldn't help but feel a small amount of bitterness towards Snape after that comment, it's frustrating to be punished for the sins of his father.
"Alright, we are going to start the session with some drills to test your ability. I will throw a golf ball into the distance, and one by one you will fly out to catch it. If you cannot dive safely, then let the ball go you will be able to try again later and we don't want to have to send anyone to the hospital wing," Harry said addressing his group.
The session was tedious as most of the players were unable to catch the ball before it fell too close to the ground. A couple of students showed promise by catching the ball after a few attempts, but thankfully no one had hurt themselves. After some deliberation, Madam Hooch and Professor Snape decided to have an amateur and intermediate league, as it was clear that some players would be no match for the best players on the field.
After lunch the Quidditch captains set up short games with the intermediate students, while the beginners and first years did some basic training drills to improve their skills with Madam Hooch and other first league players. The captains hovered around the pitch to find their reserves, while Snape refereed the games. The afternoon had cleared up, and Harry had found himself some potential reserves. As the session was coming to an end, out of nowhere a bludger collided with Harry nearly knocking him off his broom. Immediately Harry could tell that his arm was broken, gritting his teeth through the pain, he flew down to the ground shakily. From the corner of his eye he saw a 4th year Slytherin smirking holding one of the beater clubs.
"Stop making a fuss Potter, I very much doubt that anything is broken. After all it was an accident that Richards hit you," Snape drawled.
Thankfully Ron and Ginny who were helping the beginners, had noticed the scene, and flew down to help him.
"Clearly he needs to go to the hospital wing, you really don't care when a Slytherin hurts a Gryffindor, he clearly did that on purpose, and I doubt you'll give him a detention" Ron shouted.
"Silence, 20 points from Gryffindor for your disrespect. Take Potter to the hospital wing if he really needs it," sniped Snape.
Happy to be able to leave, the trio walked back towards the school, where Madam Pomfrey took one look at Harry, and guided him to his usual bed to be treated.
"I had hoped to not see you again this year, at least it's an easy injury to mend," Madam Pomfrey commented. "Take this pain reliever with some food, and you should be good as new tomorrow morning."
Harriet Summersby was waiting for him outside, after thanking Ron and Ginny, the pair walked back to the Hufflepuff common room.
"Do you mind if I grab some food from the kitchens," asked Harry.
"I thought students from other houses didn't know where the kitchens were," Harriet remarked amusingly.
"It helps being friends with Fred and George Weasley," Harry replied. "Don't you regularly get food from the kitchens, the elves love to give out the food."
"Professor Sprout doesn't mind us doing it a couple of times a term, there's a charm that monitors which Hufflepuff students visit the kitchens so that we don't bother the elves too much. If you go more than twice a term then you can land yourself in detention for a week. I'm sure Professor Sprout will understand this time though," Harriet explained.
After an amusing conversation with Dobby, Harry and Harriet left the kitchens with a number of sandwiches and cakes we he would share with his friends. That evening the common room was once again buzzing with excitement, as the Hufflepuffs had a fun evening doing a muggle styled pub quiz. Harry found himself to be an asset on his team, knowing all the muggle based questions, but his team narrowly came second after a difficult potions round. They still earned a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, which was an interesting affair trying to figure out which beans were safe. By the time he went to bed, all his negative thoughts towards Snape were gone.