Summary: After an unexpected meeting with Oliver Wood and Viktor Krum results in a plan for the most anticipated Quidditch match in years, Harry finds himself having unexpected feelings about a close friend.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.
Rating: PG-13, for violence, intensity, and general themes.
Time Frame: Post "Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix"—the summer between Harry's fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts.
Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.
A GLIMMER OF GOLD
Harry frowned at the initial description of the method for transfiguring a sword into a viper, and quickly scribbled a few sentences in the spiral notebook in front of him. He had grown accustomed over the years to using quills and parchment, but even after all this time, it was faster to use a ballpoint pen and paper.
When Harry had arrived back at 4 Privet Drive with the Dursleys, they had promptly disregarded his existence from that moment on. He was free to come and go as he chose, and on the rare occasions that they came within sight of each other, no words were exchanged. Harry had simply retrieved food at times when they weren't around, but that particular problem ceased to exist on the morning of his second day back, when an owl had come bearing a small package with a note attached to it. He accepted the package and paid and fed the owl, which hooted cheerfully and flew off. The package contained a miniature picnic basket, and the note was short and to the point:
This basket contains a week's worth of healthy meals. Just touch your wand to the basket and use the Engorgio Charm—I'm told by Professor Dumbledore that this will not trigger any owls from the Underage Use of Magic Office.
The dishes are charmed to reveal whether the person receiving this basket is actually eating the meals or not, so please do, Harry. When the week is over, put the dishes back in the basket and use the Shrinking Charm on it, then send the basket back with Hedwig—I'll send another one. If I see that you're not eating, I'll send Tonks and Mad-Eye over to make sure you do. You may have to live with those awful Muggles for another summer, but I'm not going to see you starve.
Hope to see you soon,
Harry had tried to summon genuine irritation at being dictated to, but it was hard to get angry with someone for making sure that he was adequately fed. He had followed the directions and found he was in possession of a basket containing twenty-one very healthy meals. I'd better put a vigorous exercise routine on my schedule—a couple of months of this and I'll be as fat as Dudley
Harry had decided that as long as the Dursleys weren't going to work him to death this summer, he would put the time to good use. He had owled Professor McGonagall and asked for the titles of the sixth year texts for Transfiguration, Charms, and Potions—though he hadn't received his O.W.L. scores yet, he was confident he would qualify for N.E.W.T. level classes in the first two, and a head start couldn't hurt on the third, just in case his score was high enough to place him under Professor Snape's tender mercies for another two years. He had been surprised when a delivery owl had arrived two days later with the texts themselves and a couple of smaller books that Harry recognized as texts on dueling written by famous Aurors. The note from Professor McGonagall explained that the textbooks had been sent compliments of the Ministry of Magic—and that the dueling texts were from Mad-Eye Moody, who had included his own note: "Nice to see you haven't let misfortune get in the way of business, Potter—you might find these useful. If you finish these, owl me and I'll send you a copy of my own book—you'll find it a lot more bloody useful than anything that fool Lockhart ever wrote. Always remember—Eternal Vigilance!"
Two weeks later, Harry had made it through one of the dueling texts and several chapters of all three textbooks. It was a nuisance not being able to test any of the spells or potions, but Hermione was always telling him that knowing the theory behind the spells before actually trying to cast them helped her do so, and she certainly seemed to get good results. As for Potions, the subject was far less unpleasant without that bastard Snape breathing down his neck, looking to dock points from Gryffindor for every supposed misstep he made. He was about to review a familiar subject—the procedure for brewing a Polyjuice Potion—when he heard a knock at the door. He was prepared to ignore it—the Dursleys were gone and he knew they would not be pleased if he deigned to speak to their "normal" friends or neighbors—but realized that someone from the Order might choose to stop by during the day while the Dursleys were gone to check up on him. He sighed in mild annoyance and called out, "Coming!" as he ran down the stairs and to the front door. He looked through the peephole, blinked, and opened the door to confirm the evidence of his eyes.
"Hello, Harry." Oliver Wood stood on the porch, looking tanned and healthy in muggle jeans and a T-shirt. Standing next to him and wearing similar clothing was Viktor Krum. Harry's jaw dropped, and Wood grinned at him as he commented, "Shouldn't do that, Harry—you never know what might decide to fly in. May we come in? I understand that the Muggles aren't home right now."
Harry closed his mouth, then coughed and suggested, "Why don't we head down the street a ways—I have a neighbor who might be a bit more. . .understanding."
Wood nodded and followed with Krum behind Harry as he led them to Mrs. Figg's house. He knocked, and after a moment Mrs. Figg answered and smiled at the three young men on her porch. "Come in! I received word that I might have some guests this afternoon." Harry, Oliver, and Viktor entered and found seats in the living room, and Mrs. Figg brought them all glasses of pumpkin juice and a tray of small sandwiches before smiling and saying, "I'll let you boys talk in private," and departing.
Harry ignored the sandwiches—knowing that he had a rather large supper to polish off to prevent the wrath of Molly Weasley from descending on him—and looked over at his visitors with a growing sense of confusion before he commented, "It's nice to have visitors—but you two would be just above Cedric and Voldemort as far as people likely to pay me an unexpected friendly visit goes: to what do I owe the pleasure?"
Harry was surprised when neither man winced at the mention of Voldemort, and listened quietly as Oliver looked over at him and replied, "We've got a proposal for you—but you should read this letter first." He handed a folded piece of parchment to Harry, and Harry opened it and immediately recognized the familiar handwriting:
Oliver Wood and Viktor Krum are both members of The Order of The Phoenix, and may be considered trustworthy as far as almost any topic is concerned. They have informed me that they have a proposal for you, and I believe it may help make this summer more bearable to you if you hear them out.
If you wish to establish their authenticity, I have briefed them on all topics we discussed before the incident at the Ministry.
Warmest Regards,Professor Albus Dumbledore
Harry blinked, then turned to Oliver without warning and snapped, "Who framed Sirius Black for setting up my parents?"
"Peter Pettigrew—who is alive and well and working for that bastard Voldemort." Oliver's tone was angry, but quickly became more gentle as he added, "I heard about the incident at the Ministry, Harry—I'm sorry about Mr. Black—Professor Dumbledore told us the whole story, and that he had fought valiantly against Voldemort."
Harry nodded, and turned to Viktor. "Who came up with the idea to start the D.A. at Hogwarts this last year?"
"It vas Her-my-oh-knee—but she told me that she couldn't have done it vithout the respect the other students have for you." Viktor's accent was as thick as ever, but Harry noted that he had finally gotten the knack of saying Hermione's name properly. The Bulgarian Seeker looked somewhat embarrassed, then added, "I had heard of her injuries and stopped by her parents' home last veek to see how she was feeling—she told me about the events during this year at Hogvarts, and your fight against. . .that voman." Viktor's eyes flashed with anger, and he added, "I accepted Professor Dumbledore's invitation to join the Order because of vat happened during the Tri-Vizard Tournament—Voldemort used me to help bring his plans into being, and caused me to harm a good man in the process—a man I never had a chance to make amends to."
Harry felt a pang—Cedric's death had grown more distant in his memories, but the mention of it always felt like a kick in the gut to him. "Viktor—Cedric wouldn't have blamed you. Not after Crouch Jr. confessed to using Imperius on you."
Viktor relaxed slightly as he saw the understanding in Harry's eyes, but replied, "Regardless of vether he vould have forgiven me, the debt remains—and I vill do vat I can to serve the cause. It may not be as important as making sure that a whole generation of Hogvarts students has the knowledge needed to fight Voldemort, but vatever it is—I will do it."
Harry flushed slightly, and forced himself to not think about the D.A.—it inevitably led to thoughts of Sirius. He looked at the two older men and commented, "Well, you're not Death Eaters disguised with Polyjuice Potion—they couldn't have managed to say 'Voldemort' without hesitating or stuttering like you just did. What did you want to ask me?"
Oliver and Viktor looked at each other, and Oliver began, "We're both on detached duty for the Order, Harry—neither of us is a trained Auror, healer, or politician. Dumbledore has asked us to keep our eyes and ears open and prepare for the time when a major battle against Voldemort is inevitable. After the events of last month, it occurred to Viktor and I that there was a way we could help in the new climate that would not tip our hand, and which would be excellent for bolstering the morale and strength of the anti-Voldemort forces—and we believe that you could be a vital part of it, Harry."
Harry blinked, and was silent for a moment as he saw the smile on Wood's face before he said, "Go on."
Oliver nodded and continued, "Harry, neither of us is old enough to remember the last war well, but many, many wizards and witches lost their lives, and many more were badly injured. St. Mungo's and the other wizarding hospitals were always strained to the limits, and a lot of young wizards and witches were orphaned—as you have good reason to know." Harry flinched, and Oliver reached out and squeezed Harry's shoulder for a moment, concern in his eyes. Harry shrugged and nodded at him, and Oliver continued again, "As you know, I'm the reserve Keeper for Puddlemere United, and Viktor here is the Seeker for the Vrasta Vultures when he isn't playing for Bulgaria in the World Cup. We went to our team owners and suggested that it would be good publicity for our teams and for professional Quidditch in general to hold a charity fundraising game between our teams, with the proceeds being used to create a trust that is dedicated to helping the victims of the upcoming war. If we can get a huge crowd for this one, the receipts for sale of tickets and concessions could exceed one million galleons—and might even convince other teams to do something similar. Better yet, it will get a lot of wizards and witches involved in the fight who would never even think of raising a wand against Voldemort."
Harry smiled. "It sounds like a great idea—but I'm not sure how I can help, Oliver. Did you want me to allow the sale of products using my name? If so, I'd be glad to—I've been giving Fred and George that right, but I'm sure they wouldn't mind sharing it for this—"
Oliver shook his head. "No, Harry—though it wouldn't be a bad idea to expand your personal marketing and donate a share of the proceeds: that would probably produce a lot of galleons for the cause. No, we have a rather more direct role planned for you, Harry. Professor Dumbledore has volunteered the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch for the game—he believes that with proper spellwork, the stands can be expanded sufficiently to hold 150,000 fans. It would be the largest crowd in Quidditch history, if he pulled it off and the game sold out. The game would be scheduled for August 8th—enough time to plan security with the Aurors and to get the word out."
"It still sounds great—but I'm still not getting where I come in." Harry was baffled, and didn't bother to hide it. "Did you want me to make a speech before the game, or referee?"
Oliver chuckled. "Harry—Puddlemere United isn't scheduled to have another league game until September. As it happens, two of our team members have taken the opportunity to plan to get married—to each other. It'll be quite the event, and it is scheduled to take place on August 6th. They'll be off on their honeymoon and completely unavailable for the game—and it's rather hard to play Quidditch when both your starting and reserve Seekers are away. Puddlemere United is in a bit of a fix, and we were hoping you would help us out of it." He reached into a pocket and pulled out another letter, which he handed to Harry. Harry opened it with shaky fingers and read:
Dear Mr. Potter,
It would be a singular honor for myself and for Puddlemere United if you would consent to serve as our Seeker in the charity game between our team and the Vrasta Vultures to be held at the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch on August 8th. It is my understanding that you are already the owner of an international standard broom, and we will provide appropriate protective equipment. Please send your reply back with Mr. Wood.
Puddlemere United Quidditch Team
Harry stared at the letter in disbelief, and his eyes were widening when he remembered the events of the last year and felt as if he had just flown into a tree. He looked at Oliver and mumbled in despair, "I can't—Umbridge banned me from Quidditch for life and took my broom away."
Oliver laughed—a short, angry bark—and replied, "Harry, don't be thick. Do you really think that old hag's proclamations survived the scandal she's in? She'll be lucky to avoid a long sentence in Azkaban, and Fudge is desperate to get back on your good side after a year of treating you like he did. Your ban is lifted, and as for your broom—" He reached into another pocket and called out "Finite Incantatem!"
A small stick in Oliver's hand quickly grew into a very familiar object. Harry accepted it with a dazed look in his eyes, as Oliver reassured him, "It's been checked for hexes and curses and thoroughly cleaned—it's a fine broom, Harry. More than worthy for a game like this."
Harry stared at his beloved Firebolt for several seconds in silence, then frowned in concern and looked back at Oliver. "I haven't flown in months—how am I going to do in a game with top-notch professional Quidditch players?"
Oliver grinned at him. "Harry—you're a born flier, and you'll have a couple of weeks to get back up to speed. Dumbledore tells me you'll be able to leave the Muggles after one more week, and Hogwarts will be a safe place for you to practice. I'm sure Ron, Hermione, and some of your other friends will want to come to see that, and the game itself."
Harry nodded, his head already whirling with what he would tell Ron, and the moves he would practice for the game. He felt a pang of guilt about being this excited when Sirius was still dead, but a thought occurred to him: Sirius gave you this broom—and Oliver and Viktor are going to help you use it to help beat that bastard Voldemort. Sirius would –love- this. Harry smiled at the thought, and looked over at Viktor with a grin: "I don't suppose I could get you to go easy on me, eh Viktor?"
Viktor smiled coldly at Harry, though Harry could see amusement in the Bulgarian's eyes as he replied, "I intend to fly you right into the ground, Potter—though I suspect our Beaters vill not maim quite as many opposing players as usual. After all—it is all for charity, is it not?"
"Yeah." Harry managed not to sound nervous as he shook hands with Oliver and Viktor, and began discussing the specifics of the game with them. Unseen by the three friends, Mrs. Figg smiled and went to the fireplace to report the news to Dumbledore: Harry seemed to be doing much better—and Hogwarts was about to play host to one of the most memorable Quidditch games in history.
. . .to be continued
As always, comments are welcomed and desired