Chapter 1—The Speech

Disclaimer: I own only Josephine Clearwater and a few other pieces here and there. All else belongs to J.K. Rowling. This story is not for profit, and the only reward I get is the smile on my face when you review (so please do so!).

Josephine Clearwater stood near the front of the mob of reporters, magazine writers, and journalists. She saw representatives from the Daily Prophet, Witch Weekly, Quidditch Today, and even The Quibbler. She scribbled a title, crossed it out, and scribbled a new one: Why The-Boy-Who-Lived Is Saying Farewell to Orange. The hubbub around her died down as Harry Potter himself approached the podium. He looked a trifle nervous and more than a little uncomfortable. Josephine noted that, and remembered that public speaking had never exactly been his forte.

"Hello, everyone. I guess you're all here because you've heard that this was my last game for the Chuddley Cannons. Well, you heard right."

There were several gasps, even though they all knew this was why the press conference had been called. There hadn't been this huge a mob of reporters after one of Harry's games since his first professional Quidditch match.

"There's a lot of speculation as to exactly why I'm resigning. I've heard most of the theories out there, but I'm sure there are even crazier ones I haven't heard yet."

A man next to Josephine muttered, "I wonder if this is just a ploy for attention and space in the paper…"

"Some people believe that I've grown bored with Quidditch from winning to easily. That's definitely not the case. I love Quidditch as much today as when I first got on a broom, ten years ago. It's not losing its challenge at all; check the scores and you'll see that for yourself. I don't always catch the Snitch; it's still as sneaky a little devil as it's always been." There was some quiet laughter in the crowd. "I've heard some people say that they think I'm leaving Quidditch to become an Auror at last and hunt down a new threat from dark wizards." His face and voice turned extremely grim. "No. No, I've had my fill of dark wizards; of always having to look over my shoulder, of being chased, tormented, tortured, and seeing the people I care about get hurt. I put all thoughts of being an Auror behind me after 5th year was over. I knew then and there that I had something I was going to have to do. But you know what? I don't want to fight bad guys anymore; I'm sick of it. It's not a game. I wanted out. So I did what I had to, and I got out. I admire the people who choose to devote their lives to the protection of others, but I've given you all the years I can spare. Now, I'm staying out." He looked around, as though daring anyone to contradict him.

No one did.

He continued again, more light-heartedly, but still with some tiredness and resentment. "I've heard other rumors say that I'm leaving the team to become the new Minister of Magic. No, Penelope Clearwater is doing a great job with that position. Personally, it's not a job I want. I joined Quidditch to avoid that sort of stress. By far, I would have to think that the most unlikely story I've heard to date is that I'm leaving the Quidditch field at last to become the new Headmaster of Hogwarts. The last time I talk to Professor Dumbledore, which was just this morning before the game, he was alive and well. I certainly don't plan on being the one to deprive future generations of the wisdom of Albus Dumbledore. He's a great man; I don't know anyone, especially myself, who could fill his shoes and run Hogwarts the way he has." He didn't go on. What could he say about Dumbledore that they didn't already know? Most of the crowd looked young enough that he'd been their headmaster. The few older ones had probably had him as their Transfiguration teacher.

A middle-aged reporter next to Josephine asked impatiently, "If you're not bored with Quidditch, don't want to be an Auror, not going to be the Minister of Magic, and not going to become the Headmaster of Hogwarts, what in Merlin's name are you going to do? Settle down and get married?"

Josephine saw Harry Potter look at the woman next to her with sharp recognition. "Ms. Skeeter, why am I quitting Quidditch? I'll tell you why. It's you. And people like you who refuse to let me have my privacy. My life is not public property. No offense to past or present Cannons or Cannons fans, but I joined this team to avoid high profile games that would have a lot of attention. Still you people won't leave me alone! Well, I've had enough. I'm exhausted from living up to your expectations. I'm through with this whole mess. Get out of my face." He scowled at them all for a good long half a minute. Then a little bit of a grin started to crack through. "On a little bit of a lighter note, I have been training a replacement Seeker. She says she feels more comfortable as a Chaser, but she's definitely got Seeker talent. Ginny Weasley!" He grinned completely now.

Ginny came out from where she was hiding nearby and gave a cheery wave as she joined him on the podium.

"But what are you going to do now?" asked another reporter.

"I don't know. I don't know and I don't care, honestly. Maybe I'll de-age myself and go through Hogwarts all over again. Maybe I'll go to one of those Muggle doctors and have my face changed so completely that none of you will ever recognize me and I can do what I want. Maybe I'll build a shack in the middle of the forest on the Hogwarts grounds and live out the rest of my days there alone in quiet meditation." He was trying very hard to keep his voice even and not laugh and most of the reporters were taking him seriously. "Honestly? I don't what I'll do. Whatever it is, you can be assured my name won't be on the cover of magazines and newspapers anymore. At least, not if I can help it. If that will be all, then I'll just let this press conference continue with the new Chuddley Cannons Seeker." He stepped down from the podium and vanished into a throng of people passing by.