Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of JK Rowling.

The Challenges of Keeping Up the Captain's Spirits

The door to the Captain's office remained shut long past the time it should have taken Angelina to change and straighten up, especially considering Fred and George had arrived back to the changing rooms just as everyone else was leaving. "How's Katie?" Alicia asked anxiously on her way out, and the twins exchanged a guilty glance.

"Madam Pomfrey says she'll be fine by dinner," George responded, and Alicia gave them an exasperated look before exiting.

As they changed out of their Quidditch robes, Fred remarked, "Angelina's acting suspiciously like Wood. I hope she's not trying to kill herself in there."

"Bit scary, isn't it?" George agreed, with a glance at the office.

"Her acting like Wood or her possibly wanting to snuff it?"

"Well, the first, but for your sake, the second, as well."

Fred grinned. "Reckon there's something about the job that drives everyone mad?"

"Maybe you have to be a bit mad to take it in the first place," George suggested.

Fred snorted. "Angelina's definitely a bit mad." With another look at the office and a hesitant pause, he said, "Why don't you go on ahead. I should probably talk to her."

With a quirked eyebrow, George asked, "Talk? You know, there'll be a new captain next year, and he might not appreciate the office being used for --"

"Better not let Angelina hear you saying that," Fred interrupted idly.

"Couldn't resist."

"I won't have you impugning her honor, George," Fred said loftily.

"Hm, and you don't have any to impugn," George mused.

Pointedly, Fred said, "See you later," and he listened to the sound of his brother laughing as he left. With a deep breath, Fred marched up to the door to the Captain's office and rapped on it sharply.

"Come in."

He pushed it open cautiously and his eyes fell on Angelina, who was sitting at the desk with a glum expression on her face. "Is Katie all right?" she asked in a concerned tone.

Fred decided to go with the abbreviated version of the trip to the hospital wing. "She's fine."

"Good." She continued to stare at the wall while Fred stood awkwardly in the doorway, and just as he was beginning to feel as though this might have been an exercise in futility, Angelina said, "That was a rubbish practice, wasn't it?"

"No," Fred replied in what he hoped was a bracing tone. It had been, of course, but he certainly didn't need to say that to her.

She dug the heels of her palms into her eyes. "You don't need to lie, Fred. I know it was."

Leaning against the door frame, he reassured her, "It was only your first practice, things are bound to get better --"

"But that's the thing, isn't it?" she cut in, whipping her head around to glare at him. He knew the glare wasn't for him, really -- six years of friendship with her had taught him that when she got into a temper, it was wise to stay out of her way, even if you were innocent of any wrongdoing, because she had a tendency to make her bad moods widely known -- but he still felt just a little offended. Here he was, after all, attempting to cheer her up, and all she was doing was snapping at him. "It was my first practice as Captain, and it was pathetic."

The fierce look on her face slipped away and her expression became gloomy. "I wonder if I'm cut out to be Captain."

"'Course you are," Fred scoffed. "You're a brilliant Chaser, aren't you? And you've been a brilliant Captain so far."

For a long moment, she just gazed at him. Several emotions seemed to be battling for dominance on her face, and he knew her well enough to wait to see which won out before saying anything. Actually, it surprised him that she was showing even this much vulnerability to him. It was more like her to pretend that it didn't bother her and that she had no insecurities. When Angelina got upset, she got angry or cold, not discouraged.

Finally, she said guardedly, "You're just saying that, aren't you?"

He put a hand over his hear. "Angie, would I lie to you?"


"I mean about something serious?"

"You told me it wasn't you who put Bubotuber pus in my shampoo."

"I told you, that wasn't meant for you!"

Angelina sighed heavily and opened her mouth to respond, then closed it again, looking a bit puzzled. Then, she asked, "What were we talking about?"

He thought for a second. "I was trying to convince you that you're a good team Captain."


"Did it work?"

"Not really."

This time, Fred sighed, leaning his head back against the door frame and staring at the ceiling. "You're being impossible. On purpose."

"I most certainly am not!"

"Are too."

She made a huffy sort of noise, crossing her arms over her chest and turning away, but he was sure that he caught a flicker of a smile on her face. She was making a valiant effort to suppress it, but he did have a knack for noticing what made people laugh. After a second, she returned her gaze to his. "Maybe I'm being a bit daft, then."

"A bit."

"Just a little bit, though."

"Surely you're not even capable of being more than just a little bit daft?"

Finally, she laughed, which delighted him. It had always been his foremost goal in life to make people laugh, of course, but there were a few people whom he considered it absolutely essential to be able to amuse, and Angelina had always been one of them. Practically from the minute he'd met her, actually, though he wasn't about to tell her that. He loved her laugh -- it was generally loud, completely untempered, and very un-girl-like. And, even better, she didn't care at all. 'Just one of the guys,' he used to tease her, at least until George had pointed out that there seemed to be a correlation between him making that remark and her calling him a git and then ignoring him all day.

Plus, it was sexy. But he definitely wasn't going to tell her that.

Pushing away from the wall and walking over to her, he stuck out a hand to pull her to her feet. "Now, are you ready to admit what a spiffing captain you are?"

She kept a firm grip on his hand after she'd gotten to her feet. "I'm not so sure about 'spiffing,' but I've backed off 'rubbish' for now."

"I'm happy to have been of service."

Some blokes, maybe, would have been put off or intimidated by Angelina's height, but he quite liked that all he had to do to kiss her was lean forward a bit and tilt his head the right way. Which he did, lingeringly.

"You can be really lovely sometimes," she remarked, "when you try."

"Well, face facts, Angelina, someone's got to keep the Captain's spirits up, and you're much prettier than Wood, so being lovely comes a little more naturally."

She snorted and rolled her eyes good-naturedly before asking, "Want to go up to dinner?"

"Love to, Captain. I'm famished."

They shouldered their brooms as they left, and as they walked back up the hill to the castle, Fred darted a glance at Angelina. There was a serious expression on her face, but she noticed him looking at her and shot him a smile. So while he wasn't exactly happy that she'd been upset, he couldn't exactly complain that he'd had to cheer up.