Disclaimer: My house belongs to the bank, my work belongs to my boss and my money is always confiscated by my wife. And Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. Damn...
Chapter 23: Winging it
Waking up, Harry immediately realized that something was different. He could smell Hermione as if she were nearby, but he couldn't hear anyone breathe in the room. It took him a few moments to realize that the smell did to come from the sheets, for some reason he couldn't fathom. Blinking carefully, lest the sun could spear his brain, he slowly sat up in his bed. A moment later, he cursed as he wiped everything off the night stand with his wings as he stretched his back. Shaking his head, he made a mental note to work on controlling his new appendages as he swung his feet out of his bed, his wings extending slightly so he wouldn't sit on them as soon as he rolled over, again brushing against the now empty night stand. Carefully testing his back muscles, Harry tried getting a feeling for his wings. Until now, he had only used them instinctively, but he quickly found out that he had quite good control of them, just like a set of extra arms. It would take time to master the finer points of this, but for now, he settled on arranging them in a loose trailing cloak-like position as he headed for the bathroom.
He left the bathroom frustrated to the point of having his vision tinged pink. Sitting on the loo had proven a bit of a task when you can't take your robes off, and showering had been a series of bumps into walls, tangles in the shower curtain, and had left the room flooded enough that Harry felt the need to clean up with spells.
Selecting a shirt was another exercise in futility, and as the weather was thankfully cooperative, he chose to go to breakfast without.
"Sorry for my attire, I have no clue about how to fit a shirt over these," he chuckled as he entered the dining room a minute later, shutting up quickly as he noticed the tense atmosphere in the room.
"What happened?" he asked, before he realized that everybody seemed to be surrounding Hermione, with the Krums keeping a respectful distance from their guests, trying not to intrude. His vision instantly tinged when he noticed that Hermione seemed to be defensive.
Before anyone could answer, Hermione had already stood and shouldered her way through the adults, wrapping her arms around him, and leaning her head against his shoulder. For a moment, Harry was confused about something about her, especially as he noticed her smell had changed slightly.
"You smell good," he heard her whisper before he grabbed her by the shoulders and softly pushed her away to arm's length, trying to look at her face to find out what had bothered him. She averted her face for a moment, before she suddenly looked at him, defiantly, her golden and brown, slitted eyes telling Harry all he needed to know.
For now, Harry was glad he had his hands on her shoulders, for his legs buckled under him as the surprise hit him. The way his wings suddenly extended to their full reach as he felt like falling was certainly more impressive. There was more than one scared yell from the group across the room, Rodica's piercing screech easily drowning out all others, and causing Hermione and Harry both to flinch.
"How?" Harry asked once he had found his balance again.
"Conjured a syringe."
Harry grimaced at that thought. "And I never woke up?"
"No. Not even when I laid down next to you. You simply pulled me close and wrapped me in your wing," Hermione replied with a smile. Harry couldn't help but laugh and pull her close and hug her, involuntarily wrapping them in his wings as he did so. Hermione nuzzled his neck as she relished in the feeling.
"I really need to get these two under control," Harry chuckled as he slowly removed his wings and tried to fold them behind his back.
"Is it hard to use them? You seemed to use them just like you would your arms, on some occasions," Hermione noted as she watched his wing over his shoulder as it moved awkwardly.
"Yes and no. Sometimes, they copy my arms' motions, and sometimes they don't. I can move them if I think of them as if they were my arms, but I don't have the hang of them, yet," he grumbled.
"They seem to hang just fine to me," Sirius called out from the table. Harry didn't dignify that remark with a response, but chose to examine his girlfriend's face, instead.
"This is so strange," Harry muttered, his voice amazed as he looked at her. "Your eyes - it took mine weeks to change, and yours turned within a night."
"Not surprising," Sophie piped up. Harry gave her a confused glance in return.
"You are forgetting that with you, various strains were fighting for dominance with other versions. They rewrote your DNA over and over again, until one of them finally won out. She got a dose of the victorious strain," Henry tried to explain.
"So the change will happen faster?" Harry asked, getting some nods in return. "Well, this makes the problem with shirts even more pressing – I doubt you would want to go around topless once you grow your own wings," Harry laughed. Sirius also thought this was extremely funny, especially with Harry receiving a fist to the chest in return for his comment.
"Well, you definitely do not have increased strength, yet," Harry remarked when he got hit with less force than he would have expected. "Strange, I got that even before I got my eyes."
"I think this is a logical progression, Harry," Sophie spoke up. "It's all about blood - the brain uses up twenty percent of the oxygen we take in, that's one fifth of all blood going to the head Lot's of blood for very little body volume."
"And Hermione is a brainiac," Sirius added with a chuckle. "Makes sense her head is the first thing to change. With Harry, being an athlete, it was only logical that the muscles came before the rest," he quipped.
"That is not only a poor attempt of a joke, but untrue, as well – his eyes were fixed within a day," Hermione barked back, positioning herself between Sirius and Harry, trying to stare a hole into the prankster. Harry interfered by taking her in his arm, and led Hermione back to the table, where they sat down next to each other, their hips touching, Hermione leaning against Harry, who was starting his breakfast.
"And that's all? Nothing else to say? Everything is alright and roses?" Margret asked, not quite pleased with the way this went.
"Well, nothing I am going to say or do is going to change what was done. I must admit that I'm kind of happy that it happened," Harry replied, reaching for some jam. Hermione cuddled deeper into his shoulder, closing her eyes with an relaxed smile on her face. "But I'm still royally pissed of, to be frank, about how it happened."
"You don't look the part," Margret challenged him.
"Mum, don't. He is, I can smell it on him - don't know how, seems to be instinct, but I know exactly how mad he is," Hermione cut in, looking apologetic, for the first time that day. Not that she bothered to move from her place.
"You broke my trust - you should have asked. It's not that you would have had a problem convincing me to go along, even though I disagree with the premise," Harry replied as he continued his meal, acting as if Hermione clinging to him was the most normal thing.
"So you know why she did it?" Sirius asked.
Harry huffed before he replied. "I have known that girl since we were eleven. I know exactly why she did it. I don't agree with her motive, and I'm quite mad that she didn't ask. But that is between me and her, and I'm kind of used to it – she has an idea, and she runs with it. Usually, she turns out to be right..."
"Would you please tell us why she did it, as well?" Margret inquired, urgently. "We worked on her for an hour, and she still didn't tell."
"Sorry, but it's not my place to tell," Harry replied as he poured some tea. "Marvellous breakfast, Missus Krum," he spoke, "these crumpets are awesome!" Rodica beamed at him when Branco translated, and jumped up to rush into the kitchen, probably fetching more.
"Can just as well," Hermione replied, her tone making it clear that she didn't care, at all. "I just wanted to see your reaction, first. I'm really sorry about not asking. I thought you might decline, but I see your point, now."
"It hurts that you didn't trust me," Harry spoke, his voice calm as if he were discussing the weather, while he continued preparing his meal as if Hermione wasn't wrapping herself around his arm, figuratively.
"I understand, now. It won't happen, again," Hermione said coolly without moving, driving Margret nuts.
"I don't get it, how can you be so calm about this! This is an issue! We need to talk about it! She was just sitting around, saying nothing at all, and now you both act like it was nothing!" She yelled, shrugging Henry's hand off when he reached for her.
"Oh, there will be a talk between her and me, be sure of that," Harry replied with a slight growl, the first sign of him being angry. That moment passed almost immediately, and he was back to his calm demeanour by the time he spoke his next sentence. "Concerning her, if I had to guess, she probably fought the urge to sock all of you all the time, weren't you? Seeing everything in red? Still do?" Harry casually asked, not reacting at all when all others gasped when she nodded, not even opening her eyes.
"She's got much better self-control than I do, that's why she's managing much better than I did. She barely kept me from killing someone during that early period. Ganging up on her like that feels like an attack, even I have to fight to keep calm when you guys act like that. That's the other reason why she's craving my touch at the moment. It calms us," he explained, reaching out to pet Hermione's arm as he finished.
"It takes some time to get used to this. Remus helped me a lot. Everything gets so intense, and yet so clear. It's all about destroying everyone who's in your way, and protecting your mate," Harry told her as if the others weren't present, his eyes focused on something that seemed to be somewhere a hundred miles away as he stared at the far wall.
Their behaviour finally reached the threshold of what Margret could bear with.
"OK, I get it. Don't tickle the dragon and all, but would you finally come to the point? Hermione - why did you do it like that? I always thought that this might happen one day, ever since we learned about what Harry was, but I believed there would be some talk about it beforehand," Margret ranted, unable to contain her annoyance.
"It certainly wasn't because these Ministry guys gave you the idea – I know you well enough to know that you knew this would be possible ever since I found out about the mini-mes in Harry's blood," Sophie voiced her opinion in her trademark manner, shouting it out.
"No, it was their fault, in a way. They told her about their plans of creating a group of people like me, and offering me a place with them. She panicked at the thought of female... dragonettes... around me," Harry replied.
"I understand her, I had the same fears of losing her ever since I grew these," he said, thumbing over his shoulder at the tips of his wings. "And I'm actually quite happy that this isn't standing between us, anymore, but at the same time, I'm quite a bit miffed that she didn't ask for permission or help. It could have gone wrong," he chided his girlfriend.
"Could, but didn't. We do have the same blood type, so I knew there was no danger here. And Sophie was sure that this would work," Hermione mumbled, not looking apologetic, at all. Harry shook his head as he smiled a little.
"Anyway, doing what she did, she left me only one choice, I guess, to keep her from doing such rash stuff ever again," Harry continued, putting his food down and wiping his hands. He then sought out Henry's and Margret's attention, and cleared his throat.
"Missus Granger, Mister Granger, Henry and Margret, I would like to ask for your permission to propose to your daughter."
You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that ensued, until Sophie's squeal tried to split some eardrums. Henry was still imitating a carp when Margret found words.
"Now that came out of nowhere. Harry, to get this out of the way, first – you certainly do have our approval, but why now?"
"I agree, Harry. You are welcome in our family, if you two are ever to marry, but you two are still much too young for that," Henry agreed quickly after his wife made her decision.
"Thank you. I just want to keep her safe, and I feel like I'm a part of the problem. She did this thing because she was afraid I might leave her, and this is my promise never to do so," Harry replied, before sliding out of his seat to kneel in front of a flabbergasted Hermione.
"Hermione, would you make me the happiest man on earth and become my wife, once we are old enough?" he asked, looking up at her, hopefully.
"Ahm, Hermione?" he asked, after a few seconds have gone by without her moving.
Blurting something, Hermione jumped at him, wrapped her arms around him, and proceeded to squeeze the stuffing out of him.
"I think that means yes, son," Sirius translated with a deep belly laugh.
"I'd say she should go with a strapless dress, that should work well with the wings, maybe a plunging back, what do you think," Sophie started to discuss the important things with Margret. "I'm thinking red would go along fabulously with the black wings, wouldn't it?" she continued without any loss of momentum when Margret just stared incredulously at her.
Margret shook her head at her friend's antics, and poured herself some coffee while everybody else was joining in into the happier topic. When Hermione had returned to her seat, she sought out her daughter's eyes, making it wordlessly clear that there was a talk to be had, later. When Hermione acknowledged it with a nod, she smiled back at her, and joined in with her own congratulations.
"Maybe if he were to cut here, and here? With some cut-outs for the wing bases and Velcro to close everything up?" Sophie proposed helplessly, her finger drawing imaginary lines on the shirt that Sirius had accio-ed from Harry's room for them. Since that flight, it had been lying on the table for a couple of minutes, being the object of some serious pondering between the women and Harry, while the men had some conversation with the Krums.
"And how am I supposed to put it on? I can't pull it over my head, can I?" Harry complained, while Sirius snickered behind him about something Branco had said.
"How about a wider cut across the shoulders, and you try to step into the shirt and pull it up?" Was her return proposal. Harry looked at the places she had swiped her fingers across, pondering her idea, noticing out of the corner of his eye that some woman approached the table to whisper into Viktor's ear.
"Might work, let's try. Cut it where you think," he spoke, trying to keep an eye on her.
"We don't have any Velcro, yet, and it would take some time to stitch it in," Margret butted in.
"We can mend the cuts after I'm in, no problem. Start cutting. It's not as if that's my best shirt, I still have all those you bought me for Christmas," Harry replied calmly, still following the events across the room. Meanwhile, Viktor was talking to Sirius about something, while the woman retreated from the room in a very discrete manner.
"Well, if you put it that way," Sophie tweeted, reaching for the scissors with a smile on her face. "Any plans for the day?" she chatted as she started to cut the shirt up.
"Well, since I can't just go to the beach like that, we need some other options," Harry started. "With these wings, visiting a Muggle location is out, and after the newspaper reports, I do not feel an urge to visit something frequented by Wizards, either. I'd rather not have people fawning over me, today."
"Why don't we all go for a hike?" Margret proposed. "I mean, if you're up to it, Harry - how's the wound doing?"
"I guess it's OK, a twitch, now and then," Harry replied. "But I don't know."
"No buts. A bit of fresh air will do you good. Hermione liked hiking when she was younger. I'm certain you would like it, as well, and Henry is always up for a stroll," she said, actually blushing when Hermione stage-whispered, "Even when it's not a good idea..."
"Good idea, Gretty – count me in. We could ask Viktor, he might know some nice area we can go to. Somewhere where it isn't crowded with tourists, but not dangerous. Wonder if I can get Sirius to join us, even without his limp, he's not the guy who likes walking around," Sophie agreed, while cutting the t-shirt to shreds.
Hermione laughed out when Sophie said that. "True – walking just to walk is a concept quite alien to magic users. Some of them apparate even the shortest ways, just to avoid the exertion of actually lugging their carcass around."
"Sounds like him. We need a good plan to get him on board, then," Sophie replied with a chuckle, while biting her lower lip as she tried to cut a straight line.
"You addle coves do realize that I can hear you, right?" Sirius replied rather cranky, while Henry suddenly felt the urge to continue breakfast, and reached for a bun.
"Takes one to know one," Sophie responded without taking her eyes off her work.
Sighing, Sirius pulled his wand and flicked it in her general direction. Sophie jumped and immediately started checking herself for changes, when Sirius called out, "Watch out, incoming object," just before what seemed to be a hand mirror flew into the room.
"What is going on?" Sophie called out, still a bit on the edge about maybe getting hexed.
Sirius took his time to put down his mirror before he answered. "The maid has told the Krums that she heard something in our room calling for 'Padfoot' in a quite urgent manner. She thought it might be important to let us know immediately. I guess that can only mean Remus needs something. I don't know what, but I'm going to find out," he said.
Branco rose and talked to his wife, both leaving the table. Sirius was quite embarrassed as they did. "You don't have to, I didn't mean," he stammered, but Branco raised his hands in a calming gesture.
"Nothing. You are guest of my son, and dis is his house. We not have holidays. We need to get to shop, now. Opening up," he said with a smile. "Viktor will care for you, have a nice day!" he bade his goodbyes, leaving.
"Your house? But..." Margret asked, staring baffled at the young man across the table, who she knew to be only slightly older than her daughter.
"Mom, he's a famous sports star, remember?" Hermione reminded her mother.
"Oh, right. Sorry, I forgot. So this is your house?" Margret spoke to Viktor, smiling apologetic. "Nice."
"Well, I had to do something with the money, and our old house was quite small, with store taking up the ground floor. Parents still not used to it, but it's nice when they stay here."
"So they don't live here?"
"Occasionally. They do have a room, but usually only stay at the weekends, which is nice if I do want guests around," Viktor replied with a wiggle of his eyebrows that made Sirius and Henry chuckle in understanding. Margret looked less approving, but kept it to herself.
"So you are mostly alone?"
"No, there is Maria during the day. Which is also why Mama doesn't like to come here - Mama doesn't like having a servant, she doesn't even allow her to cook while she is around," he chuckled. "But I like having someone taking care of the house, so she stays. Mama will get used to it."
"Why not a house-elf?" Henry inquired. "Winky does take good care of Sirius."
Viktor frowned at the idea. "Do not want to have someone depend on me. Maria is employee, elf would be family. Easier relationship, and she is very discrete."
"What kind of shop do your parents have?" Margret inquired, trying to change the topic.
"They do have a furniture store, father is a great carpenter. Has made this dining room, and my staircase," Viktor proudly told them, when the mirror suddenly yelled, "PADFOOT!", loud enough to make Sirius almost topple his chair. Hermione's did topple, and Harry's flew across the room as they suddenly jumped to their feet. Hermione was panting hard, her fists raised.
Harry chuckled as he patted her shoulder before he went to retrieve the seats. "Very solid work," he praised as he brought them back to the table, while the mirror yelled another time. Sirius shook his head as he picked it up.
"Mister Moony, Mister Padfoot demands an explanation for this goopish shouting," Sirius spoke to the mirror.
"Cut that nonsense! What are you guys doing over there? You told me this would be a beach vacation, and now the newspapers are full of crap like Harry being a Vampire, and having wings!" Remus' voice came out of it.
"Wow, the news does travel fast," Sirius replied chuckling, the others falling in.
"What? It is true? Harry is a Vampire?" the mirror squeaked.
"No, but he does have wings, now," Sirius replied.
"How on earth did that happen?"
"Humour me," Remus growled.
"The Grangers ran into some werewolves, and Harry fought them, and grew wings while he did," Sirius gave a very brief summary.
"He grew wings? Why would he do that?"
"Seems the problem with his back were developing wings, when he was fighting, they broke free, so to speak," Sophie called out, putting her work aside.
"Thank you, Sophie, finally someone who can speak clear and concise," Remus replied. "Anyone else around?"
"You know what an addle cove Sirius can be," Sophie replied casually, smiling at her fiancé.
"Love you, too," Sirius said with a huff. "Everyone is around, Moony."
"Good. Harry, can you hear me? How are you, cub?"
"I'm fine," Harry called out.
"He's wingin' it," Sirius added, unnecessarily, enjoying it greatly when eyes were rolled all over the room. "What does the paper say?"
"Well, it's a mess - the Prophet claims to cite a Bulgarian news source, and reports he seems to have been bitten by a Vampire and a Werewolf, both, and this made him a winged super-beast," Remus gave them a brief summary. "Does this mean your back is OK, now, Harry?"
"Seems to be the case," Harry replied, "there was new skin underneath the wing. It's all a bit raw and new, and the dislocation during the fight didn't help, but I guess it's fine. Sort of."
"At least some good news," Remus' squeaky voice from the mirror retorted. "It's madness over here - the owls are drawing numbers, already, and there were multiple howler detonations, as far as I could hear. And Albus all but kicked the door in, demanding to be informed."
"Did he?" Sirius asked pointedly, his voice having a funny tone to it that didn't quite fit his angered expression.
"I politely told him to take a hike", Remus replied, the voice dripping with satisfaction. "But what I could take from his ramblings was that the Ministry is in uproar. Allegedly, there is a Wizengamot session set up to discuss your status, and what this means to the House Potter and assets. They are trying to take everything from you, Harry."
"They can't," Sirius replied calmly, setting himself apart from the others, who were a bit agitated by the news. "I checked with the Goblins, the Potter bylaws explicitly state that mixed descendency is no issue in regards to any family business."
Remus' voice reverberated with surprise when he answered. "You did? When?"
"Remember the trip to Diagon Alley, when I had that meeting? I went to check for what would happen if his status came out, and to change the Black Charter accordingly, if necessary."
Harry chuckled heartily. "That's what you did? I thought it was about the adoption."
"Oh, it was, too. And you might be astonished to hear that I only needed to change a quarter of the Black by-laws to make that happen and stick," Sirius replied with broad smile and a wink.
"That's a relief - but there's still the issue with the Wizengamot. There are quite a few people out there baying for blood, and they do have the law firmly on their side on this issue," Remus replied from the mirror. His concern was valid, but he didn't know everything, yet.
"Please, let me! I want to do it! Let me tell him!" Sirius pleaded, bouncing in his chair. Sophie and Margret shook their heads, and busied themselves with Harry's present needs, ignoring how Sirius brought Remus up to date on the facts.
Five minutes later, Sirius deactivated the mirror, still chucking about Remus' face after he had told him everything that had happened so far. "This should keep him busy for a day or two. So, we were making plans for today, weren't we?"
"We were, but first, let's try this, Harry – step into it and pull it up," Sophie replied, throwing the almost tattered shirt at Harry. "We might need to adjust the cuts, but once we have it figured out, we can do this with every shirt."
Harry caught the shirt and started looking it over, turning the various flaps of fabric this and that way, frowning with his brow furrowed. "Please don't hurt me when I say this, but I think we have been stupid. Since we can use either magic or Velcro to close it up, wouldn't it have been easier to just make two long cuts on the back, and I slip it on, normally?"
There was an awkward silence for a few moments as everyone's brain kicked into gear.
"Right. We've been over-thinking this thing," Margret conceded after she realized their blunder. "Hermione, be a dear and undo all evidence of our blunder, so we can start again?"
"Happens to all of us," Sirius told them with a smirk, before smoothly switching topic. "Now, about these plans - I'm certainly not up for walking, even if I wanted to, and three of you are still supposed to stay in bed, on healer's orders. How about we forget that nonsense for today, and seek slow petrification on the couch, instead?"
His smooth delivery came to a sudden stop when Hermione broke out in laughter, with everyone else, bar Sirius, chuckling or shaking their heads. "What?"
"Sorry, Siri, but you acting as the voice of reason is something we aren't used to," Sophie told him, patting his leg in a supposedly calming manner.
"Oy, woman! Let it be know that I do act in this function quite often! Still, people act surprised," Sirius grumbled, not able to contain his own smile thoroughly.
"So you guys weren't kidding me? People do this for fun? Running around with nowhere to go?" Sirius asked, incredulously, after they returned from the stroll through the national park Viktor had proposed two days earlier, and which he had managed to successfully argument against, yesterday. "I thought we would go some place, but were too slow to make it!" he wondered as they approached Viktor's home.
"No, we never had any particular place we intended to go to, we were just walking along the road. It was nice, though, that we could return from anywhere we wanted. Normally, we would have had to turn around or walk along a route that took us back to our car," Margret replied good-naturedly, her spirit soothed by the long walk through the almost untouched nature.
Sirius had a serious problem wrapping his head around that concept. "Why would people walk to somewhere into the woods and back without a reason?"
"Because they enjoy nature, and the fresh air is good for your health?" Henry tried to make a point, but it sailed far over Sirius' head.
"That's what a garden is for. Sitting on patio is fresh air enough. Too much fresh air makes people sick," he protested.
"That's medieval lore - next thing you telling me that regular bathing makes a man weak and ill," Henry laughed. Sirius certainly would have replied, but Sophie's stern look told him that making jokes about his bathing habits would not be appreciated by her. Instead, he hurried to hold the door for her.
The noise of them chatting brought Viktor to the hallway, greeting everybody.
"Hello Viktor! Thank you so much for the portkeys - being hours away from all civilisation with a tap of a wand was a magical experience," Margret greeted their host with a brilliant smile that seemed to run in the family, Harry thought.
"Hello, how was practice?" he added his own greetings into the fray of exchanges.
"I'd say great, if it weren't for the almost continuous requests about some winged person living under my roof. Hearing that you are a quite capable Seeker, as well, made them make me swear that I'd forward you an invitation to try out for my job. Consider yourself informed, oh enemy of mine," Viktor replied with a broad grin that erased the last doubts whether it was just his accent, or him being sarcastic.
"Can you still play? I mean, I wonder, do these things help or hinder in the game?" he asked Harry, eyeing his wings closely. "They do give me ideas..."
Harry consciously rubbed his neck before he replied. "That thought crossed my mind, too. What if we try it? The joint doesn't give me any pain, anymore, and I might just as well try these things out, right?" he said, his boyish smile giving away that he already had made his decision. "Do you have a spare broom to borrow, or should we make a quick shopping trip to get me one?"
Viktor's bellowing laugh could probably be heard in town. "You didn't just ask a Seeker that question, did you?" he asked, his shoulders still twitching spasmodic as he stepped forward and opened a closet door. Harry would swear he had heard a heavenly choir chanting as the most beautiful sight, ever, was revealed.
"Quite a collection," Sirius remarked. "They are all in working condition?"
"Of course - a broom has to fly, or I could just as well sweep the kitchen with it. But you will have to prove yourself before I'd let you try one of the antiques. Feel free to take any of the modern ones, though, they are labelled, pick your favourite," Viktor replied, waving towards the eastern wall. "The 'bolt in the middle is off limits, though - it's fitted to me."
"They do that?" Harry asked, incredulously.
"For a price," Viktor replied with a wink. Sirius shuddered theatrically. He knew the base price - to think what a custom made model would cost was terrifying.
"Why do you have so many of the new ones?" Margret asked as she let her eyes wander over the showcases adorning the other walls, holding various designs of brooms, but usually only a single piece. The 'modern' wall held racks, labelled, holding up to a dozen of the broomsticks in question.
"To have something for every skill level of my guests, and enough to have spares and for races, of course. You wouldn't believe how often people tell me that I'm only that good because of my broomstick. They are much quieter when I show them, sometimes using an older model than they ride. I even let them choose it for me, so they can't claim I'm cheating. Some still do," Viktor replied with a grin.
Harry chuckled softly, shaking his head. "Most people would kill themselves, just trying to kick off with a Firebolt, or a Nimbus 2000, come to think of it."
"You know, I know, Idiots don't know," Viktor replied with a shrug and wolfish smile.
Sirius sighed deeply. "I'll stick to a Nimbus one-five, then, right? No sense risking it while already injured."
"Good choice, solid broom. Right side of the wall," Viktor replied. "Bolts for us, Harry?"
The amused smirk Harry displayed was answer enough to toss him one of the brooms.
"I'll be outside, practising my Arresto momentum," Hermione sighed.
"Done already?" Henry asked when Sirius touched down beside them.
"I'll stick to watching, for now. These two maniacs would never ram me, but I find myself distracted by the stuff they do," his wizard friend replied, pointing roughly towards where Viktor an Harry where racing over the wood, Viktor suddenly pulling up and then dropping like a stone, spinning wildly, before racing straight a the trees below him, with Harry in hot pursuit. "And they make me feel like a bloody klutz," he added.
"Bloody hell! Did he just do an inverted flat spin on a broom?" Sophie asked Margret next to her.
The reply started with a shrug. "I don't know what that thing would be, but he probably did, and then some," Margret replied, wincing when the two fliers suddenly shot out of the trees, pulling straight up and corkscrewing around each other in what she would have called a DNA helix pattern.
"We call that a Tourette Turn - makes every spectator curse for a while. I've never seen somebody having the balls to pull it off. And that ballsy bastard did it thirty feet above the treetops!"
"Sirius! You have to take me up for a ride," Sophie exclaimed, jumping on the spot. "I love aerobatics!"
"You better ask one of them, honey - I'm having trouble on the broom, today," Sirius grumbled. "Swerving like a kid - can't do anything right."
"You were listing wandwards," Hermione remarked, not taking her eyes off her boyfriend, who currently sat in the air, next to Viktor, who was currently explaining some manoeuvres to Harry, using his hands to simulate the fliers.
"I do? How would you know? You don't even like flying," Sirius tried to tease her, not getting much out of her. Hermione barely reacted to his words. "I might not be the best flyer, but I have eyes. I've read books. And I've been subjected to Quidditch talk for years. I believe you aren't sitting in balance due to your injury, and your jerky tries to compensate are sending your bristles into a loop, making it go all over the place," she explained, ignoring Sirius looking mightily impressed. "And you are wrong," she added, watching how Viktor was making strange motions with his arms, "I find myself having the urge to go up."
"Must be the dragon calling. You can have my broom, if you want," Sirius replied. "I wonder what they are doing, these aren't manoeuvres he's signalling, as far as I can tell."
"You'll see, soon. He's making some suggestions to Harry, and now they're off," she commented, watching the two race off to redefine the term flying, again.
Harry was back in his natural element. the only thing better than flying was to fly with such a professional at his side. Viktor already had given him some good pointers and had shown him stuff he'd not believed possible on a broom. That crazy spin had taken him by surprise, bit he managed to catch up, quickly. Right now, he was listening to Viktor explaining the fine points of a Seeker weave.
"You know, your wings could come handy, here," Viktor suddenly interrupted his own explanation.
Harry could only huff. "How? They cause huge drag - they slow me down in turns, and on the straight, as well. The best thing I can do is wrap them around me in flight, which makes me faster, but still gives me trouble in turns."
"I watched you, they move instinctively while you fly. But dragons are not built for quick, they are built for speed. Remember the task?"
"I doubt I'll ever forget that," Harry laughed dryly.
"It was faster than a Firebolt, but couldn't get you. It turned much harder than you, but the Firebolt doesn't lose speed in turns, the dragon does. If you use your wings a bit, like this," he said, mimicking the motions he was visualizing, "you should turn much harder, with almost no speed bleed."
"Makes sense, let's try," Harry replied. Picking up speed, he assumed position and wrapped himself in his wings. When Viktor initiated the weave, he followed. Two or three turns into the weave, he made his first try. Steering right, he concentrated on straightening the right wing tip out, only a little. Swiftly, instead in a right turn, he found himself in a wild spiralling straight overshot, wrestling for control and a full stop. His confusion wasn't helped when a braying Viktor joined him, having problems to hold on to his broom while laughing tears.
"We are idiots," he laughed. "When you wrap yourself like that, right wing's tip is on left side, again! We should 'ave checked, before!" he brayed, shaking with laughter. Harry had to actually wiggle his wings to verify that statement before he also succumbed to laughter.
"Another go at it?" Viktor grinned, and laughed as he shot after Harry when the boy beat him to the start.
"Harry! Are you alright?" Hermione screamed as she crossed the field and ran into the cove, towards the impact site, a few yards ahead of the others, Sirius quickly catching up on his broomstick.
"I'm fine," her boyfriend shouted from the oak tree. "I could have chosen a better landing site, but I'm not hurt. Viktor! Are you ok?"
"Did you get the Snitch?" the call came from the thick bushes fifty feet below and a good hundred feet to his right.
"Yes! How are you?"
"Better, now that I know it wasn't for nothing. Ow... Can sombody help me out? These are blackberries, I can't move," Viktor replied in a whiny voice.
"Hold still, I'm coming!" Sirius called out as he rushed past Hermione. "Give me a moment, Harry, and I'll go get you, OK?" he shouted as he started vanishing the thorny vines to free Viktor.
"No problem, I got this," Harry replied, accompanied by a lot of rustling and swaying branches. Hermione was the first to realize what he was up to.
"Harry James Potter! Don't you daaaaaaaiiiiiieeeeeee!"
Hermione's tirade seamlessly turned into a screech when Harry almost exploded out of the crown of the tree, unfurling his wings. At first, he showed a classic trajectory, shared by bricks, anvils, and other heavy objects, but after a second and a half, his wings finally caught enough air to slow his descent into a glide, five to ten feet above the ground. Almost immediately, Harry repeated the manoeuvre that had gotten them into this predicament, only to find that when flying under his own power, turning his wings upright doesn't slow you down that much. Instead, you fly upwards. Until you run out of speed and stall.
Harry somehow managed to get his wings engaged, once more, but still, he ploughed unceremoniously into the ground, not far from Victor, but into some more forgiving shrubbery.
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" he yelled, immediately, before Hermione could scream again or catch up to him. Not that it saved him a furious chest slapping when she finally arrived.
"Oh come on," he huffed when Hermione had finished calling him a 'boy'. "You know I was born to fly even before I grew wings!"
"You do need someone to teach you landing, though," Sophie commented dryly. "Technically, you crashed twice in one flight, three times if we consider the in-flight collision."
"I did not blatch him!" Viktor protested while he slowly extracted himself from his thorny prison, Sirius vanishing everything he was tangled in. "Even though this was the most extreme starfish and stick I've ever seen, especially coming from a Seeker - as if a wall suddenly appeared! Scared the hell out of me - I barely avoided him," he added, already laughing.
"Without a stick," Harry tried to reply, but was interrupted by the finally arriving Margret, who immediately embraced him and started interrogating him. "Are you OK? How do your legs feel? Your arms? Are you feeling dizzy? How many fingers am I holding up? Any dull pain in your abdomen?" she rattled off a list of questions, Harry replying dutifully with I'm fine at all the appropriate places, secretly enjoying the attention.
"Are you alright, Viktor?" Henry asked as he reached out to help their host out of the remnants of the bushes he had landed in.
"Just scratched my skin and my pride," Viktor replied with a skull-splitting grin, even though he was dabbing some big scratches on his face. "Nothing a bit of magic won't fix. But more important - without a stick, you said, Harry?" he chuckled.
"Yeah," Harry replied, rubbing his neck, awkwardly. "I saw the Snitch, and I knew that you had me out of position. I would overshoot, and you would pick it up after I rushed by. So I wanted to use more than just my wing tips to add to the turn. Ripped me right off my broom when I spread my wings. Hurt a bit, as well, but carried me right to where I wanted to go. Sorry about the brooms, by the way. I'll replace them."
"I insist," he added when Viktor waved him off, while Sirius started to mend some cuts on him.
Viktor rolled his eyes in reply. "You may pay the one you darted," he said, pointing towards the point Harry's broom had landed. The impact had it buried a good foot in the ground, the still visible part looking like a small, crooked tree, with the bristles fanned out like branches. Even the footholds had bent. "But my own broom was my fault - I crashed it."
"Ok?" he asked, extending his hand, which Harry shook, eagerly, both laughing. "We still need a name for that move - Potter's Panic Plough?"
"Hold still! How about Potter's Scarecrow?" Sirius proposed from behind them, working on a long scratch across Victor's back.
"I like the sound of that - I so will try that during the season, I bet any Seeker will react the same and plough themselves. At least, it will get the other Seeker scared enough to stop following you around," Viktor spoke. "There is that one guy who does that, constantly - annoys the hell out of me, you know," he growled.
"Yeah, I know that type," Harry replied emphatically. "I even ploughed him once with a Wronsky," he added with a smile.
"What's a Wronsky?" Sophie inquired.
"Oh, if the other Seeker keeps following you around, you act as if you had found the Snitch, and dive at top speed. He will try to overtake to snatch it from you, and you lure him into a dive to the last inch, letting him be just a tad quicker. Thus, when you pull up, almost touching the ground, chances are good that he will touch it," Harry explained, instinctively demonstrating the movements with his hands.
"Usually, he will touch it hard, as in 'did not turn in time' - hard," Sirius added.
"Ouch. That'd hurt."
"Absolutely, it's a miracle nobody was killed, yet, in a game," Sirius agreed.
"I think there were a few deaths when idiots tried it in pick-up games with no healer present back when it came up, but people quickly stopped once that became known," Hermione instinctively started providing information she had read somewhere.
"Think of it - a Potter's Scarecrow would be the perfect thing if a Wronsky Feint fails," Viktor proposed, cackling like a maniac. "If he pulls out in time, you slap that on top of it - or you do it right when you pull out, just to be sure!"
"The way you proposed to use it, I'd assume a 50 percent chance of the other guy ploughing, 50 percent chance of him crashing into you, 30 percent chance of you ploughing yourself, as well, and a 90 percent chance of either or both of you getting hurt," Sirius made his opinion known. The way he chuckled while doing it suggested that he didn't think of these outcomes as a bad thing, at all.
"I propose we call that version the Krum's Kamikaze, then," Hermione replied with a roll of her eyes. It failed to have a sobering effect.
Viktor was ecstatic, pumping his fist in the air. "Yes! Finally, my own personal move! And such a cool name, thank you! Harry, we must start training this, immediately - we cannot allow to fail if we present that tactics to the public," he spoke excitedly. "I know a perfect spot, there is a lake in a secluded wood, where I used to train for the Wronsky. Less likely to break broom or bones, added risk of drowning," he spoke with a boyish grin in his face.
"How reasonable," Sophie replied, her voice heavily laced with sarcasm. "So you're telling me, in order to practise a dangerous sui- and homicidal manoeuvre, you repeatedly crashed into a lake at high speed?"
Viktor nodded vigorously, a huge grin still plastered to his face.
"Sounds great to me - Sirius, keep the broom while they fetch new ones, I'll fetch our bathing suits. You'll have the honour to crash me into the lake," Sophie instructed her fiancée.
"Why would I need my trunks? I could simply kick you off the broom, if I want to," Sirius replied cheekily. Sophie glared at him for a moment of general laughter, before proclaiming that this would be fine for her, as well.
"Where do I draw numbers?" Margret inquired, Henry not far behind.
Hermione just shrugged and went along with the plans. "You can fly with me. I certainly won't miss this. Someone needs to watch out for you guys. Also, when would I ever get another chance to drop my parents from high altitude?" She stated with a smirk.
Hello everybody. Sorry about the wait, but it seems that that's the way it is supposed to be. It's becoming obvious that I'm able to spew out chapters at the beginning of a story, but once it's past a certain degree of completion, it's becoming harder. You have to make sure to not contradict yourself, keep past scenes and their effects in mind, wrap up some loose plot ends, and most importantly, fight the muse. Yes, fight it. I constantly come up with new ideas, but when you try to bring the story to an end, it becomes a burden. I think that's why many stories start super-saiyajining everybody with powers as they write along. I try to write those ideas into a book and use them later, but occasionally, the muse demands a tribute, and then I find myself waking up at a table, no memory of the last three days, and a half-assed concept of a story, with several scenes completely worked out on the screen in front of me...
And a big thank you, and a sincere apology for the mess my documents sometimes are, to alix. :D