Posted: 4 March, 2011
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this story that is recognisable from the Harry Potter books, movies, etc. Everything else however (eg. story plot, original characters, etc.) stems from my own imagination and belongs to me. No copyright infringement is intended and I am not profiting financially from this story in any way.
Chapter 15 - Pixies and Broomsticks
Thursday, 3 September, 1992
Having spent the morning repotting Mandrakes – a sweaty, dirty, tiring task – the Gryffindor second years hurried up to the tower for a quick clean up before heading down to Transfiguration. Harry spent the lesson helping first Neville and then everyone else who looked to need assistance. After class was over he remained behind, Neville waiting with him, and approached the professor.
"Ah yes, Mr Potter. I assigned you a number of essays over the holidays, didn't I?"
"Yes Professor," he said, handing over a small stack of parchment scrolls. "They're all done."
"Very good. I must say your progress in Transfiguration is impressive and Filius – pardon me, Professor Flitwick – tells me you are doing just as well, if not better, in Charms. At the rate you're going I expect you to have completed the third year course work by the end of the academic year," she said approvingly. "Now, I know you didn't have much time to practice, what with not being allowed to do magic outside Hogwarts, but have you mastered any of the spells you were assigned?"
Harry nodded. "All of them, Professor."
She raised an eyebrow. "Well then, let's see them quickly now, then you can head off to lunch."
In the next few minutes, whilst Neville loitered quietly at the back of the classroom, Harry competently transfigured a raven into a water goblet, a snail into a whistle, two white rabbits into fluffy slippers, and a handkerchief into a silk wizard's hat.
"Very well done," McGonagall said with a rare smile. "You're free to go."
"Actually Professor," Harry said, "I wanted to see you about something else. I wanted to put my name down for the Quidditch trials."
"Yes, of course. Madam Hooch informed me last year that you showed some considerable talent on a broom. Will you be following in your father's footsteps as a Chaser? I have to tell you that if you do, you'll likely only be a reserve. We've a full Chaser complement already."
"No ma'am. I know the Seeker spot's just opened up and I'm going to try for that. It seems more my cup of tea."
"Very well. Gryffindor team's captain, Oliver Wood, will expect you on the pitch next Saturday at ten o'clock for tryouts. I wish you luck."
"Thank you Professor," he said, then turned and left the room, Neville in tow.
"I didn't know you were going to try out," Neville said as they walked toward the Great Hall for lunch.
"I've been thinking about it since first year, when Hooch took me aside and said I should give it a go next time. I do love flying, and Quidditch looks like it'd be wicked fun."
"Well you're definitely good on a broom. Really good actually. I think you've got a decent chance of making the spot."
After lunch was the lesson he was dreading: DADA with Lockhart.
"Come on Harry, or we'll be late," said Neville, who had to practically drag Harry along. "I don't know why you're so worried. Everyone seems to think he'll be a good defence instructor. Just look at all the stuff he's done. Although," he frowned thoughtfully, "Gran's not a fan. She says he's just too slick, or something."
"Well you're grandmother's clearly a wise woman," Harry said. Augusta Longbottom had just risen in his estimation. "He's a fame obsessed glory hound, and he'll even take advantage of twelve year old boys to get what he wants," Harry claimed, then explained his run-in with the celebrity at Flourish and Blotts.
Neville frowned. "Well, let's hope he acts more appropriately as your teacher," he said, not liking the idea of his friend being used by Lockhart to boost his fame.
Harry smiled, glad Neville was reconsidering his opinion of Hogwarts' latest celebrity. Not that the convincing was really necessary. He was pretty sure the first lesson with Lockhart would quickly eliminate all respect his friend might have for the man.
They filed into the classroom and took seats. All the girls were whispering amongst one another and giggling, looking eager. The other boys were looking anticipatory, no doubt because they had yet to get the opportunity to meet their teacher and thus know better. Once everyone was seated Lockhart appeared, almost sashaying into the classroom, dressed in gaudy turquoise robes.
"Good morning students." He greeted them with a grand wave. "For most of you, this is your first, privileged time, seeing me up close and in person. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, as you can now see firsthand, I really am this good looking," Lockhart said, flashing a toothy grin that had the girls present swooning and the boys staring in disgusted disbelief.
Harry felt his upper lip curl. Was it his imagination, or was Lockhart even worse than last time?
"Is he for real?" Neville whispered to him.
"Sadly, yes," he whispered back.
"I think I need a barf bucket," they overhead Ron whisper to Seamus and Dean in the row in front of them.
"I'm sure you all recognise me – I am somewhat famous after all – from your assigned textbooks," Lockhart continued. "From your reading you no doubt know that I am Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award. That's right students, five times!" And again he beamed widely, setting all girls to sighing, and the boys to rolling their eyes.
"I thought we'd kick the lesson off with a little quiz. Now, now, don't worry! It's nothing too difficult and won't count toward your grades. It's just a little something to make sure you did indeed read the textbooks, which I'm sure you all did. My adventures do after all make for riveting reading, if I say so myself."
And then he was handing out the tests. The boys in the class looked in disgust at the rose coloured and scented parchment it was written on, whilst the girls, conversely, oohed and aahed over it. Harry wondered just what it was about Lockhart that turned the female of the species into mindless idiots. Was there some sort of Entrancement Spell or Compulsion Charm? Hmm, something to look into.
He filled in the test with responses such as 'don't know' and 'not sure', despite actually knowing a few of the answers; he had skimmed the books, realising that behind the exaggeration, lay stories of real heroes, whose memories had been stolen. With questions like 'What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favourite colour', and 'What is Gilderoy Lockhart's ideal birthday gift' however, he wasn't going to risk looking as though he took the test seriously.
Once time was up and all the papers collected, Lockhart stood at the front of the class. He then tutted about how few people knew his favourite colour was lilac, and complimented a blushing Hermione on getting every question right, which earned her teasing but admiring glances from her friends Lavender and Parvati. Eventually he shuffled the papers together and set them down.
"Now, for the rest of the lesson," the professor announced, "we will be learning how to deal with certain dark creatures. If you will all remain seated, I'll return in a moment"
And then Lockhart disappeared through his office door. When he returned he was pushing a wheeled cart, upon which sat something box-shaped, covered in a sheet. He came to a stop with the cart front and centre, just before his desk, and turned to the class with an overdone expression of graveness that had the girls biting their fingernails nervously.
"I have brought in today," he finally spoke, "some most fearsome creatures for demonstration. The covering you see emits a blanket of calm and sleepiness, rendering them temporarily docile, but when I remove it-" he paused dramatically, "-that will surely change. I urge you all to remain calm, and not to scream. The noise will only provoke these beasts to further heights of ferocity. Boys and girls, I present to you … creatures most foul … wicked and wilful … freshly caught …" and he whipped the cover from the cages dramatically, "Cornish pixies!"
The girls stifled screams whilst the boys stared in disbelief. In the revealed cage, small, electric blue creatures buzzed about angrily.
Seamus Finnegan snorted. "Surely you're joking. They're just pixies."
"Ah, do not be fooled child," Lockhart warned, "by their unimpressive forms. Cornish pixies are terrible, savage creatures. They are sowers of chaos and discord. And," he added, "they have very sharp teeth."
"On the count of three, I will open the cage. I suggest everyone have their wand in hand, and ready to defend themselves." Whilst most of the boys just looked sceptical, Harry quickly drew his wand and Neville followed his example. "The incantation to use is 'Peskipiksi Pesternomi'. And now: three, two, one …" and he turned the latch, throwing the cage door wide open, "defend!"
Pixies swarmed from the cage, shooting across the classroom. Students screamed and ducked out of the way, but the creatures turned around to make a second pass. As they went they grabbed at books, quills and inkpots, shredding and shattering and throwing things this way and that. Parvati screeched as her hair became the rope in a tug-of-war between two competitive imps.
"Everyone, remain calm. Come on now, round them up. They're only pixies!" Lockhart said, voice high and strained, raising his wand. "Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" The incantation did precisely nothing. One pixie swooped down, grabbing his wand, and chucked it out the window. The now wandless professor looked around nervously at the destruction. "Er, right … well that sometimes happens and …"
Students were making a break for the doors, trying to escape. A cluster of three pixies converged on Neville, grabbing his robes and ears, beginning to drag him upwards. The boy cried out in pain, trying to bat them away. Enough was enough. Harry stood, wand raised.
"Impedimenta!" he cried three times, and the pixies attacking Neville froze, falling to the floor almost unmoving.
"Wonderful Harry, very good!" Lockhart cheered, backing toward the door through which most of the students had fled. "I'll, er, just leave it in your capable hands then."
And with that, he turned on his heel and ran out the door. Harry rolled his eyes in disgust and turned to Parvati, who was still being used in a tug of war, her two friends trying futilely to free her.
"Impedimenta!" he cast, and one of the pixies fell to the floor.
Hermione caught on and cast an Impediment Jinx on the second one, before the three girls hurried from the room. He turned to Neville, who was trying to help out by copying the spell also, to some limited effect.
"If you want out Nev, now's the time," Harry said. "I'm going to close the room off so they don't escape."
"I'm not leaving you," Neville objected, ducking as one of the sprites dive-bombed him.
Nodding, Harry pointed his wand at the door and windows in turn, and they slammed shut then sealed closed with a squelch. He then immediately set about disabling the rest of the swarm, with Neville's help. By the time all the pixies were littering the floor, Neville's spell casting – with occasional yelled directions from Harry – had gone from merely slowing the pixies down a fraction before they quickly shook it off, to slowing them enough to fall from the air, where they crawled across the floor as though in slow motion.
"Well," Neville said, puffing, "that looks like all of them."
"Yeah," Harry agreed, a little out of breath himself. He was reminded of his observation during the holiday that he ought to get himself back into shape. "I'll tell you one thing though. I really want to murder Lockhart right now."
Neville nodded. "Sure, go ahead. I'll be your alibi," he said without skipping a beat.
They looked toward one another and grinned, bursting out laughing.
"Let's get these little devils locked away before they get movement back."
They got to work, picking up the blue creatures and throwing them into the cage, silent but for a passing comment by Neville that he'd never look at Cornish pixies as harmless ever again. Finally though, they were done, and locked the cage.
"And not a moment too soon," Neville said, glaring at the pixies as Harry fetched the sheet. "Some of them are starting to twitch a lot and speed up again."
Harry flapped the sheet, lowering the covering over the cage, and the pixies within began blinking sleepily and curling up on the bottom. Job done, they collected what remained of their books and gear, stuffed it into their bags, and left the room. As they walked down the corridor Neville made a thoughtful sound.
"Hmm," he hummed, "I'll have to write Gran and tell her she was right about Lockhart."
"This'll be the second year in a row with a bad teacher though," Neville said, before paling and hurrying to correct himself, stuttering. "I-I mean- not to speak ill of the d-dead or anything. I d-didn't mean-"
"It's okay Neville. All due respect to the late Professor Quirrell, whatever he was like as a person, he wasn't the best qualified Defence instructor."
"Yeah. What I was going to say was we're going to get further and further behind where we should be. It'll be a problem come O.W.L.s. But I was thinking," he hesitated, "well, that you were really good with that 'Impedimenta' spell …"
"The Impediment Jinx," Harry supplied, wondering what his friend was getting at.
"Right, that. I was wondering if you're good at other DADA stuff … not that you have to or anything … you're already so much help with Potions, and in Charms and Transfiguration classes …"
"Just spit it out Neville," Harry said, not unkindly.
"Could you maybe tutor me in DADA as well?" the other boy blurted.
Harry considered for a moment. "Sure," he soon agreed, nodding.
Neville smiled. "Thanks. I think it'll relieve Gran to know I'm studying outside of class, since Lockhart's so useless."
"Not a problem."
Saturday, 12 September, 1992
The Saturday of the Quidditch trials, Harry borrowed a school broom and showed up on the pitch. He had two competitors for the position of seeker: a slight sixth year girl, and a confident third year boy. The boy went first, bragging about how the spot was surely his. He turned out to be 'all talk' however, and was barely average on a broom. The girl went next. She was actually pretty decent: the right build, a good flyer, and with a sharp eye. Captain Oliver Wood was giving approving nods to himself. But then Harry took to the air and it was clear to everyone present that he was in a whole other league. Ten minutes later he finally landed again, hair windswept, to find Oliver dancing in giddy joy, cheering that the Quidditch Cup was surely in the bag this year. Needless to say, Harry got the spot. He immediately set about owl ordering a Nimbus 2001.
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