CHAPTER 15

HEIR OF SLYTHERIN & QUIDDITCH

Disclaimer – Harry Potter belongs solely to J.K. Rowling and i am unfortunately not earning anything from it.

Author's Note – I apologise for making you all wait for so long but I missed the motivation to write anymore. It was like a block that was not allowing me to write anymore. Somehow I've finished this chapter. Hope you will like it. No promises about the next chapter but rest assured this story won't be abandoned. Read & review...

On the morning of 1st September, Harry woke up earlier than usual and quickly got ready for the journey. He also prepared a 'thank-you' breakfast for the family. Anne scolded him but Harry just smiled at her and motioned towards the breakfast. After breakfast all of them took a ride in Justin's car. They reached King's Cross at half past ten. William dashed across the road to get trolleys for their trunks and they all hurried into the station. The family was running through the station swerving the carts to avoid the muggles. Finally they reached the barrier between platform 9 and 10.

Harry made sure that Hedwig's cage was safely wedged on top of his trunk and wheeled his trolley around to face the barrier. He felt perfectly confident; this wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as using Floo powder. He bent low over the handles of his trolleys and walked purposefully toward the barrier, gathering speed. A few feet away from it, he broke into a run and travelled through the wall.

The gleaming Hogwarts Express stood on the other side. Harry looked back again and saw the Clearwaters enter as well. Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every colour wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks. The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats.

Harry turned around to find Penelope hugging her mother while her brother Justin was making crying faces and teasing her. This brought a wistful smile on his face as he imagined life with his parents. He was quickly brought out of his reverie when William came towards him.

"Thank you very much for letting me stay at your home for the summers. It was the best summer I ever had."

William just waved it off good naturedly and said, "Don't worry Harry. I can say this without a doubt that we all enjoyed your company. In fact we consider you a part of family now. So no need to say thank you. We all will be eagerly waiting for your next visit. Now have a good year and remember to send letters."

Harry smiled and shook hand with him.

"So buddy, you going away. Now I won't have anyone to beat the shit out of. How sad!" Justin said mockingly.

"Oh really! Who was applying Anti-bruising salve on his wounds in the morning? If my memory serves me right it was you not me. So think before you wish my dear friend." Harry said cheekily. Justin just laughed it off and gave him a hug while ruffling his hair.

Finally Anne came towards him smiling and engulfed him in a warm hug. "It was very nice to have you in my home young man. It felt like you were staying with us for years." She let go and kissed his forehead but not before whispering, "You be careful this year sweetie. And you make sure you take care of Penny. Make sure she takes care of herself and doesn't get lost in books all the time. Also remember to send letters regularly." She said to him seriously.

Harry nodded his head before kissing her cheek and saying good-bye to the rest of the family and jumped on the train. He browsed through the compartments searching for his friends and found them in the middle of the train. He entered the compartment to find Terry, Padma, Anthony, Su, Neville, Hermione and Morag already sitting. The ride to Hogwarts went peacefully though their compartment received a lot of visitors. Susan and Hannah popped in for a few minutes followed by Daphne, Tracey and Blaise. The whole ride passed while playing chess, Gobstones, Exploding snap and eating various sweets. Finally the train reached the Hogsmeade station and they all crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd in the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform.

Harry shivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and Harry heard a familiar voice: "Firs' years! Firs' years over here! All right there, Harry?" Hagrid's big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads.

"Hi, Hagrid!" Harry yelled to the gigantic man at the end of the platform.

A hundred horseless carriages stood waiting for them outside the station. Harry, Su, Hermione and Padma climbed into one of them, the door shut with a snap. Harry looked out the window in the front and saw beautiful skeletal horses. A few moments later, with a great lurch, the long procession of carriages was rumbling and splashing its way up the track toward Hogwarts. The large amount of kids walked in through the great oak doors. They entered the great hall and Harry felt a rush of happiness go through his body at the sight of it.

Innumerable candles were hovering in midair over four long tables, making the golden plates and goblets sparkle. The students took their seats and Hermione said, "I'll see you later." and took off to the Gryffindor table.

Harry was right in between Padma and Anthony. The doors opened and dozens of tiny first years walked in and gasped looking up and pointing at the ceiling. The sorting took place while they all waited for food to appear. All of them were feeling hungry and couldn't wait for the sorting to finish. Finally the last student was sorted and Dumbledore got up from his throne like seat.

"Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Now I know that you all must be very hungry so I will keep it short. All I have to say for now is Tuck in!" He said lastly and sat back down.

Then came the feast that Harry always adored when coming to Hogwarts. On the table in front of him was a large variety of foods: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, veal, sausages, steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, corn, gravy, ketchup, and peppermint humbugs.

After the feast Dumbledore formally announced Glideroy Lockhart as the new DADA professor. This caused the female population to dissolve into fits of giggling which got a reply in the form of a full blown smile and wink from the aforementioned professor. Harry was amused to find the reaction of Professor Snape as he became even surlier, if that was even possible while glaring at Lockhart.

The Headmaster dismissed them with usual instructions. The sound of benches skidding across the floor filled the hall and people shuffled their way out the doors. They walked past muttering portraits and creaking suits of armour, and climbed narrow flights of stone stairs, until at last they reached the passage where the secret entrance to Ravenclaw Tower was hidden, behind the door with eagle shaped brass knocker. All of them retired early for the night since they were very tired from the long train ride and went for a good night sleep.

Harry awoke early the next morning as the sun's rays peeked over the mountain and shone in his face through the window of the first year boy's dorms. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he looked around for his glasses and used them to see the time, it was still only six in the morning and his roommates were still asleep. Deciding to get an early start to the day, Harry grabbed a pair of shorts and went for his morning run around the lake. It was followed by stretches and the martial arts practice.

After completing the exercise, he headed for the Ravenclaw tower and took a long shower. Harry got ready for the day, picked his backpack and went down to the common room where he found Padma and they headed down to Great Hall for breakfast. They received their time-table from Professor Flitwick and finished their breakfast. A note from Professor McGonagall arrived in the morning post which asked him to meet her in her office after breakfast.

Harry quickly got up and headed towards the Deputy Headmistress's office. He knocked thrice and received a stern "Come in" as response. Harry entered to find himself looking at Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick having tea.

"Have a seat Potter." McGonagall said.

"As we already told you, both of us wish to teach you outside of Hogwarts curriculum since we feel that you have an affinity as well as passion for our fields. You have already agreed to this additional tutoring. Before we go any further, there are some things that we wished to discuss with you. You will be having Monday evening with me and Friday evening with Professor Flitwick. Also since we don't want to advertise your additional tutoring, we will be using a special device called time-turner which will allow us to be very discrete. No one will need to know about it."

Harry looked a bit confused about time-turner but when McGonagall explained about it, he could only shake his head in awe.

"When do we start?" Harry asked excitedly.

Both Professors smiled and Flitwick replied, "If you wish, we can start from tonight."

"That would be most suitable Professor." With that Harry took his leave while feeling giddy at the prospect of receiving private lessons from the best instructors of the world as well as gaining extra time.

He skipped towards his first lesson of the year which was Herbology. They studied about a screeching plant called Mandrakes whose cries were fatal to humans. The rest of the day passed as expected. And what truly went as expected, as far as Harry was concerned, was the DADA lesson. Lockhart had started the lesson with the single word 'Me', pointing at his image on the cover of one of his books and making some stupid joke about his smile. The green eyed boy didn't need anything more to confirm that the whole year was going to be a complete disappointment. And, though no confirmation was needed, the test Lockhart handed out served to do just that; fifty-four questions on himself later -with only Hermione getting all of them correct- it was a mostly amused class at which the Defence Professor introduced the creatures they would learn about that day.

"Yes." Lockhart announced, lifting the sheet that covered a large cage on his desk with a flourish, "Freshly caught Cornish Pixies." People chuckled around Harry and he smiled a bit himself. Now Cornish Pixies were a nuisance but as long as they were kept locked… Harry blanched as Lockhart moved towards the cage. Lockhart pulled the latch of the cage which caused all the pixies to fly out and cause a pandemonium in the classroom. Finally when harry saw that the Professor would not be able to control the situation, he whipped out his wand and cast "Immobulus" which caused all the pixies to freeze. Till then Lockhart had run away from the class.

Apart from DADA, all other classes went normally the whole week. Since Harry already knew the material that was covered in the Charms and Transfiguration classes, Harry decided to utilise that time to practice the spell that was being taught non-verbally and if possible, wandlessly. So as not to attract unwanted attention, he had transfigured a normal wood in the shape of his wand and waved that for practicing wandless magic. Though he was not that successful in doing spells wandlessly, he still felt that he could achieve it given more time. Potions went without a hitch, though the continued staring was getting on Harry's nerve even though he was avoiding it as much as he could.

His private lessons with McGonagall and Flitwick were very exciting and knowledgeable. Both began from scratch explaining him each and every aspect of their respective subjects which was much more detailed then what was explained in classes earlier or in any book. They explained the why's and how's very deeply. After the lessons, Harry got to know several new ways of applying spells that he had already learnt. Also he understood for the first time what finesse of performing a spell actually meant. Another exciting feature was the use of time-turner. It was a new experience and very helpful since it allowed him to attend these classes without raising suspicion among his friends. Even though he had friends he could trust, Harry didn't want anyone to know his true abilities. He considered it a side-effect of living first eleven years of his life with just himself to rely on.

Quidditch practice also started in the second week as Ellwood was very determined and motivated to win the Quidditch cup again. Though their first match with Hufflepuff was scheduled to be in the end of October, Ellwood felt that they need to start practicing early since Slytherin had the distinct advantage of Nimbus 2001s that was 'donated' by Lord Malfoy. Also he knew that Gryffindor captain Oliver Wood had already started training the team. So in order to keep up with them they had to put some extra effort. Though grudgingly, team conceded to his well thought reasoning and agreed to it. Harry also personally thanked Madame Hooch as it was because of her that Harry could attend the summer training of Puddlemere United though she waved it off saying that he deserved to be there.

Next few weeks passed rapidly with Harry falling into the usual Hogwarts routine. The class work was just a revision for him since he had already studied ahead. The study group continued to meet daily in library but Harry felt that they needed a place where they could study, practice spells and even enjoy a bit. He started scouting the castle for a vacant room that served his purpose. Lockhart's useless lessons continued where he imitated his past encounters with danger. Though Harry wasn't opposed to watching Lockhart making a fool out of himself, he still felt that it was wastage of time. The only people who felt that the class was worth it just after a month of classes were the fan-girls of the celebrity.

Apart from Professor Lockhart, another person who was constantly testing Harry's patience was a first-year Gryffindor, Colin Creevey who roamed all around the castle with a camera in his hand and clicked photos of Harry whenever he could since he was in awe of the Boy-Who-Lived. One more person that got on his nerves was Ginerva Weasley, a first-year Gryffindor and youngest sister of Ron and Weasley Twins. Whenever she saw him, she squeaked, followed by blushing bright red all over and then running away from him. Though it was funny in the beginning but slowly this behaviour was starting to irritate him a lot.

Halloween was just a week away and Harry was coming back from the Room of Requirements when someone tapped on his shoulder. Harry turned around to find himself looking at a girl who looked to be in her sixth or seventh year with unnatural looking bubblegum pink hair tied in a pony tail that fell below her neckline.

"Wotcher Harry, I'm Tonks, your cousin. You exchanged letters with my mother."

Realisation dawned on Harry's face and he replied, "You are Andromeda's daughter, Nymphadora right?"

Anger coursed through her face while she clenched her fist while her hair changed rapidly through various shades of red which Harry found quite intriguing.

"Don't call me Nymphadora or else you will be on the wrong end of my wand and let me assure you that I know quite a few embarrassing hexes. Call me Tonks, just Tonks."

"Okay Tonks, I'm Harry James Potter as you already know. Lets walk and talk, shall we?" They proceeded towards the courtyard.

They sat down on stone bench and talked about whatever caught their fancy. Harry found that Andromeda was disowned from the Black family because she married Ted who was a muggleborn. He also got to know that she was a metamorphmagus and could change her appearance at will. Also that he was the first family from Andromeda's side that Tonks had talked to. He also found that she was trying to enter the Auror's academy after her graduation which he felt was quite brave and ambitious. He was also quite happy to find out that Tonks was very in-tune with the Muggle world and was a fan of a lots of musical bands. She went to clubs regularly during vacations and was a beater for Hufflepuff Quidditch team.

Harry too told her about his experiences in the magical world. When talking about the Professors, Harry found it quite hilarious when she made faces at the mention of Snape. The imitation of Potions masters' crooked nose and his infamous sneer was also quite perfect. In all Tonks was quite a funny girl and impressed him a lot. He got a surprise when he found out that she practised duelling on her own in an abandoned classroom as she wanted to get an apprenticeship under legendary Alastor Moody. Harry quickly asked to be allowed to see the practice to which she reluctantly agreed but only after lots of puppy-eyed looks from the boy. It was almost dinner time when they departed with Tonks promising to invite him to her practice session.

That is how Harry found himself in an abandoned classroom on the fifth floor watching as Tonks went through complex motions. The girl had set up several 'targets' which were probably chairs transfigured into human like dummies placed randomly around the room that were charmed to sporadically move in a certain way every so often. It was as if she were practicing for a war of sorts with the way she was firing off stunning, disarming, bludgeoning, and blasting hexes with great accuracy at each target and every time one dummy got destroyed, it would reform magically and continue with its previous task.

Harry continued to watch the heavily concentrating girl for a further five minutes who was now panting heavily and sweating up a storm from dodging and rolling away from invisible spell counter-fire he guessed while countering with her own spells. If he was honest, he would definitely say he was impressed - never before had he seen someone taking their studies to this level before.

Finally, the charms on her targets ran out and they fell to the floor as regular old chairs, closely followed by the girl who fell on her back and looked up to the ceiling while panting hard and trying to regain her breath.

"That was fantastic dear cousin. If you keep it up, I think you would achieve what you wish for." Harry said certainly impressed by her determination to succeed.

"You think so? I still feel I need to do a lot more. My biggest problem is that I'm a klutz. I also need something firing spells at me. Also my spell repertoire is not as good as I like to believe. I completely blame the DADA teachers for that. I don't know when was the last time that a professor could stay for more than a year." Said Tonks frustratingly.

An idea popped in Harry's head which could be profitable for both him and his cousin.

"I think I have a solution to your problem, but it would cost you something." At Tonks questioning look he continued, "I would take you to a place which would be perfect for your training. But in exchange you would have to teach me two spells every fortnight, one defensive and one offensive. Also you will not tell anyone else about this place since this is where I myself practice spells and no one knows about it."

Tonks immediately agreed to it and told him to take her to that place immediately. So Harry showed her the Room of Requirements. When Tonks got to know the full description of the room, she hugged Harry very hard while squealing and saying Thank you over and over again.

In the end Harry felt that he had done quite well for himself as he was receiving tutoring in Transfiguration and Charms from the teachers while DADA from a seventh year Hufflepuff.

Finally it was Halloween and Harry woke up to find heavy rain splashing against the glass windows. He was feeling a little depressed thinking of his parents and was having a little lie in when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to find himself looking at the concerned eyes of Penelope. She was still in her pyjamas.

"Make room for me." She ordered and lied down with him on his bed and held him protectively.

" You know your parents won't like it if you keep mourning for them on a festive date. You should be out there, enjoying with your friends. That would make your parents more happy." Harry hmmm'ed grumpily and shut his eyes even more tightly. He knew that Penelope was right but he couldn't act normal on this day since it took every chance of having a normal life away from him. It was the only day when he felt that being insensible was justified.

After an hour of lying in, during which all his roommates got dressed for the day while wiggling eyes at him for having an older girl in his bed, which Harry promptly ignored, Penelope got off his bed and pulled him up forcefully and shoved him into the bathroom ordering him to get ready and left to do the same in her dorm. After that the whole day passed normally even though Harry felt gloomy the whole time. Finally the feast started where Weasley Twins pulled a prank on the Slytherins by making all their ties turn into snakes. After the screeching of snakes and screaming of Professor McGonagall on twins had subsided, dinner went normally. But that was too much to ask for on a Halloween day as they were subjected to the drama that went on due to petrification of Mrs. Norris, the pet of Mr. Filch. Along with that, the declaration that Chamber of Secrets was once again opened made sure that rumour mill of Hogwarts would remain quite busy for the next few days. Hermione and Padma found out all they could about the Chambers with which Harry understood that he had to hide his Parseltongue ability from everyone since he could not afford to risk letting his ability out as it would put the blame on him. He did not tell anyone about his ability as he didn't want to risk exposure at any cost.

The Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin took focus from the Chamber incident and life of the school came back to normalcy. The game in itself was brutal. Even though the Gryffindor team was more talented, they were easily out flown by the Slytherins because of the superior brooms. The saving grace for the lions was that somehow due to the foolishness of Draco Malfoy, Gryffindor was successful in catching the snitch which ensured that they did not lose by a very big margin.

Unfortunately Chamber once again became the talk of Hogwarts because Heir of Slytherin took out another muggle-born, Colin Creevey. The first-year was also petrified, similar to Mrs. Norris. This attack caused tense atmosphere in whole castle and Duelling lessons were added to the schedule of every student. Harry hoped that Professor Flitwick would teach them since he was a former Duelling Champion but he only got disappointment since Lockhart was the one appointed to be their instructor with Professor Snape as his assistant though the latter seemed to be trying to kill the former with a look. Only interesting moment was when Snape ordered Harry to fight Marcus Flint, a seventh-year Slytherin, hoping to embarrass Potter, but this turned out to be a mistake since Harry complete dominated and humiliated Flint by using shields, dodges and pranking spells. After Harry was finished with him, Flint was a laughing stock of whole school since he appeared to be a half clown-half monkey. Snape tried to deduct points for pranking but Lockhart just waved it off saying that it was a part of duel, not prank.

Finally the day of Quidditch match between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff arrived. The team was confident since they had practiced hard in the last month and were playing with the same team whom they had defeated last year. The game started without a glitch and it became clear from the start that blue was easily out-flying yellow. After an hour of game the score was 180-60 in favour of Ravenclaw. During this time, Snitch was only visible twice, but both the times it evaded the grasp of Potter and Diggory. At one instance, Cedric was close to catching the golden ball but thanks to the distraction caused by the bludger, he lost sight of the tiny ball, causing Harry to take a sigh of relief.

Things were going swift for Ravens when suddenly a bludger went rogue and started chasing Harry all over the stadium. Harry tried to evade it but was unsuccessful. Even when the Beaters tried to deflect it, bludger seemed to ignore the hit and kept chasing the Ravenclaw seeker. Harry was getting tired very quickly due to the rogue bludger and knew that he could not keep it up much longer. Just then he caught sight of Snitch. Unfortunately Diggory too caught sight of it and was much closer to it. Even then Harry raced towards the Snitch with the bludger following him all the way. Both seekers were neck-to-neck while chasing the snitch through the foundations of stadium. Neither wanted to back-out of the chase and snitch seemed relentless in its attempt of evading capture.

After about fifteen minutes of neck-to-neck chase during which each person on the field was watching them, Harry got a slim chance and he leaned forward, his left arm stretching out when suddenly out of nowhere the rogue bludger impacted on the outstretched hand making sure that multiple bones got broken. The sudden impact and pain caused Harry to swirl off the path. He somehow managed to stay on broom but that moment was enough for Cedric to gain the lead. The Snitch suddenly took a dive towards ground and both the seekers followed. Harry was feeling unfocused and losing consciousness but his competitive streak wouldn't let him give up on the chase. Each turn and twist was causing him more and more pain but he ignored it in favour of the Snitch since he knew that whoever caught the snitch would win the match. Even though both seeker were side-by-side, Cedric was still ahead and much more in position to capture the golden ball. Just as Cedric was about to catch the ball which was reaching the ground at a high speed and Harry had almost lost hope, he sensed the rogue bludger coming from his side. Knowing that Cedric won't be able to see the incoming bludger since his body wa in the way, he dodged at the last moment which caused the bludger to slam into Diggory who had no clue about it. The sudden impact took him out of the chase. Harry took his remaining hand off his broom and made a wild snatch; he felt his fingers close on the cold Snitch but was now only gripping the broom with his legs, and there was a yell from the crowd below as he headed straight for the ground, trying hard not to pass out. With a splattering thud he hit the mud and rolled off his broom. His arm was hanging at a very strange angle; riddled with pain, he heard, as though from a distance, a good deal of whistling and shouting. He focused on the Snitch clutched in his good hand.

"THIS WAS THE BEST CHASE FOR SNITCH I'VE EVER SEEN. THESE TWO ARE UNDOUBTEDLY THE BEST SEEKERS HOGWARTS HAS SEEN SINCE CHARLEY WEASLEY. WELL DONE HARRY POTTER AND CEDRIC DIGGORY. THE RAVENS CONTINUE THEIR UNDEFEATED STREAK SINCE LAST YEAR AND WIN BY 360-140."

Harry was still lying on the ground with a snitch in one hand and broomstick rolled to his side when everyone ran towards him among whom Professor Lockhart took out his wand and performed a spell which caused all the bones to vanish from his hand. Before he could do anymore harm, Ellwood levitated him to the Hospital Wing while swearing words which caused all other team members to blush bright red. Cedric too was taken to the Hospital wing but was discharged after an hour. Unfortunately Harry had to spend a night since all the vanished bones had to be regrown using skele-gro. His friends and Quidditch team stayed with him until Madam Pomfrey chased them away while saying that he needed rest. After much cajoling though she allowed Penelope, Hermione and Padma to stay for a little longer. Finally they had to leave too, and Harry was the only one left apart from the resident healer.

He was still thinking on how to pass the time since he was in no mood to sleep and the regrowing bones was causing a constant itch and he was in need of serious attention diversion when a brilliant idea came to his mind. He called Madam Pomfrey and asked

"Madam, I always wondered what was the difference between you and the healers at St. Mungos? I know it's not the correct time to ask these questions but i need to think of something else apart from the pain and this conversation might be productive."

Madam Pomfrey knew about the brilliance of the young Potter in academics so she answered very carefully, "Healers at St. Mungos are much more particular in the field of application while I'm more of a General Healer though with a Journeyman status in Children healthcare and Psychology. Is this noble profession interesting you by any chance? I took you more of a Auror or Professional Quidditch Player stuff."

Harry just shrugged off the expected part and said, "I have not decided anything till now Madam. I am just keeping all the options open and exploring each one of them. How can I decide on what to choose till I don't know what each option has got to offer? Though I was wondering if you could teach me at least basic first-aid since I seem to find myself in situations where I usually get hurt even though I try my best not to get involved."

"That is something you have inherited from your father Mr. Potter. Either it was him finding trouble or trouble finding him. End result was the same, his presence in this Infirmary. I guess it is quite necessary for you to know about basic medical aid, otherwise you will only harm yourself. Also it's been a long time since I taught anyone. So if you are sure, you may come every Wednesday evening. We will see if you have the finesse, patience and temperament to be a good healer. Even if not, I could still teach you basics."

Harry profusely thanked her for the favour but Madam Pomfrey shut him up and told him to sleep now or otherwise she would cancel the lessons. This motivated Harry to find sleep in a few minutes. When she looked at him ten minutes later, Pomfrey found him sleeping with a content smile on his face which caused a small smile to grace her face too. She silently dimmed the lights and retired for her sleeping quarters.

Next morning Harry woke up to find his bones back in their place. After a quick check-up, he was allowed to head to the Great Hall for breakfast. As soon as he entered the Great Hall, the Ravens gave him a standing ovation for his brilliant performance the day before. Harry just blushed a little and headed to his place between Terry and Padma while accepting wishes from everyone. Thankfully it was a weekend so he did not worry about the classes. He was wolfing down the breakfast when post arrived and to his surprise Hedwig bought him two letters. First one was from Professor Flitwick who asked for his presence in his office after breakfast. Other letter was an invitation from Narcissa Malfoy asking him to attend the Christmas ball being held at the Malfoy Manor. Harry knew he had to go since he had acknowledged her as his family member and it would be rude not to go.

Harry along with his friends was getting out of Great hall when he suddenly caught sight of Cedric Diggory eating with his friends at Hufflepuff table. He headed towards him and tapped on his shoulder. Cedric turned and was surprised to see Harry standing there.

"Hi Harry! How is your hand?" Cedric asked.

Harry smiled a little and said sheepishly, "Madam Pomfrey made sure it was fine. I just came here to say sorry for tricking you yesterday with the bludger. It was nothing personal and everything I did was for winning the game. So I hope you understand."

"Don't worry Harry, it was just a part of the game. That bludger went rogue and was chasing you whole time putting you at a great disadvantage. Turning it into your favour was talent, not cheating. So no hard feelings from my side. You won fair and square, though I'll make sure next time it's you who gets defeated." Cedric said in jest.

"Dream on Diggory. You will never beat me." Harry replied with a smirk. He said goodbye and headed back to his friends who were waiting for him.

"That was a noble thing you did there Harry. I'm proud of you." Padma said while giving him a hug. Harry just shrugged and kept walking towards the office of Professor Flitwick. As he entered the office he found a surprise waiting for him. Along with his Head of the House, sat Madam Hooch, Richard Wellington, Manager of Puddlemere United and the coach Paul White. Last time Harry saw them was at the summer training camp and there was no reason for them to be present in the school.

"Good morning Professor, Madam Hooch! Mr. Wellington and Coach, what a surprise to see you here of all places. I thought you would be busy with the preparations of the Premiere League Tournament." Harry asked totally surprised.

" Mr. Potter, they have come here because they have a proposition for you." The hawk-eyed Flying Instructor said excitedly.

"Mr. Potter, our veteran seeker Louis Roberts has suffered a serious injury because of which he won't be able to play for at least a year. This has come at a point when we can't interchange players or train anyone new. Since you have spent a summer with us already, we felt that you were our best choice at the moment." Explained the manager.

Harry went in a shock and whispered, "what do you mean?"

Paul was getting irritated with the dumb look Harry was giving and said, " He is saying that we are offering you a place in our squad as the Reserve Seeker for Puddlemere United."

Harry finally snapped out of the shock and asked, "But what about my school and classes? I don't want to sacrifice my academics right now. Also if somehow, I manage to attend the practice sessions as well as the games, won't I be too young? League players would be at least eight to ten years older than me with much more physical strength and experience. I mean, I heard the word Quidditch last year for the first time for Merlin's sake. How do you expect me to compete with the professionals?" During the monologue Harry was getting hyper at the proposal because of its madness.

"We were in the stands yesterday observing you the whole time. You played phenomenally well even after getting hit by the bludger and the manoeuvres you performed were nothing short of fantastic. You underestimate yourself too much Harry. The truth is I've never seen a more gifted player than you in my life." Paul said with confidence.

"As for the academics part, rest assured Harry that you won't be missing out on anything. You are not the first student to be approached by a League team though certainly the youngest by a wide margin. Charley Weasley also played professionally in his seventh year for a short period of time. Your practice sessions will be on the weekends, so that won't interfere with your studies. During the Christmas break, you can attend on the weekdays too. On the days of matches, we can easily make exceptions for you. Though you will have to somehow manage all this along with your other commitments and that is going to be difficult for you." Flitwick explained rationally.

Harry sighed dramatically and bowed his head while contemplating the merits and demerits of the choices offered to him. He felt like his brain would burst from all the thinking it was doing at a very rapid pace. "I need some time to think properly. I would also like to consult with a few people before I give you any answer." Harry said to the manager.

"That is fine with us but please try to be quick because we have already lost quite a bit of time and we can't afford to lose it anymore. Hoping for a favourable reply from you Mr. Potter. Have a nice day! Thanks for the tea Filius." With that, both professionals took their leave along with Hooch.

Harry was silent for a few minutes and Flitwick seemed to be in no hurry as he was silently watching him thinking very hard. He was inwardly proud of the fact that Harry was being so mature about all this since he knew that almost everyone else would have jumped at the chance of going professional as it was a dream of almost every child as they grew up. Still Harry was contemplating all the angles before taking any final decision.

"You do know that if I accept the offer, I won't be able to play for Ravenclaw House Team anymore, don't you?" Harry asked the teacher.

"I know that very well but be assured that every member of the house would be proud of you even though our chances of winning the Quidditch cup might be lesser. It is going to be your decision Harry. Remember we are all with you regardless of whatever you decide. This is the contract they have left for you. Read it carefully and make a smart decision." Flitwick answered passionately.

"Also we found out that the bludger that went rogue on you yesterday was actually jinxed by a house-elf. He is the same one who intercepted your letters in the summer. He has resisted being caught till now and unfortunately we don't know his master. Therefore I have asked the house-elves of the castle to make sure that he doesn't interfere with your life anymore."

Harry was feeling overwhelmed with all the information he received and thus took leave while thanking the Charms master. That evening as the study group gathered in their corner of Library Harry shared his predicament with all of them. Everyone was completely shocked at the offer made to him. All the boys-Terry, Anthony, Neville and Blaise were staring at him in awe and were in favour of him joining the game as saying no was not an option. Tracey, Hannah, Morag and Su were also of the same opinion. On the other hand Padma and Hermione were completely against it saying that it would greatly hamper his studies and he was still too young to participate in a game where deadly injuries were a normal occurrence.

Only Susan and Daphne didn't voice their opinions. When Harry asked them privately, they had the same answer, "Do what makes you feel happy. Don't think of anything else." Penelope also had same thoughts. Though she was worried for his well-being, she knew how much he liked the game. Also she knew it was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which deserved to be pursued. In the end Harry signed the contract and personally handed it over to Professor Flitwick who was overjoyed with his decision and wished him luck.

Next morning, Harry was dreading the owl-posts since he knew that the news of his induction in Puddlemere United would be mentioned in the Daily Prophet. His doubts were confirmed when everyone started pointing to him as soon as they saw the newspaper. Dumbledore stood at that moment and said

"It is my extreme honour to inform all of you that one of our own, Mr. Harry James Potter has agreed to be the new Reserved Seeker for Puddlemere United. Let me tell you that he is the youngest ever player of the Professional Quidditch. We wish him all the luck and hope that he will continue to achieve such milestones in his life and make Hogwarts proud. Unfortunately due to being a Professional Quidditch player, he won't be able to play the Inter-House Quidditch Championship, but I guess every good deed requires some sacrifice and all of you would support him in this endeavour."

Harry was expecting bad reactions from his teammates and housemates. Also he suspected that people would think that he got the position because he was the Boy-Who-Lived. Suddenly there was an influx of activity and before Harry knew what was happening, he found himself on the shoulders of his teammates who were cheering the hardest for him along with the whole house. Harry was surprised when all the other houses also started clapping for him. Finally after everyone had calmed down. Ellwood said

"You know it will cause a lot of problems for us, don't you Harry? But since you are going pro, I guess we could make an exception. But you will be responsible to train the next Ravenclaw seeker, got it?"

Harry just nodded while thanking all his teammates for their support and understanding. The classes after that continued normally though Harry continued to receive congratulations from well-wishers from all houses. He also got fan-mails congratulating him on his success among which Augusta Longbottom, Amelia Bones, Narcissa Malfoy and Andromeda Tonks were prominent ones. The letter from Narcissa also reminded him of the ball he had to attend at Christmas. This gave him a headache because he knew almost nothing about dancing and felt quite conscious of it.

In the end he decided that Daphne would be the best person to ask for help since she had grown up in the Pureblood Society and would be able to properly guide him through it. So he asked her to meet him in an abandoned classroom. She entered to find him leaning on the teachers' desk while tapping his feet impatiently.

"What happened Harry? You called me here alone. You need something from me?" Daphne asked while sitting on a desk.

"Straight to the point Daphne. Well yeah I need your help. Look I've been invited to the Christmas Ball at Malfoy Manor but the problem is I've never been to any function like that and don't know what to expect. So I was hoping that you would guide me so that I don't make a complete fool of myself and Potter name." Harry said sheepishly.

Daphne thought for a while about his request and said "You are sometimes a bit rough at edges. That needs to be taken care of. Apart from that, I'll need to see the dress robes you are planning on wearing. And lastly we will have to see how you do the Waltz, because that is the customary dance that need to be performed in Formal events like this. There are quite a lot of other things but you don't have much time so I guess we will just stick to the basics and make sure you don't embarrass yourself too much."

With that started the torture session of Harry Potter. Daphne was enjoying herself a bit too much since she finally found something Harry was terrible at: dancing. Harry tried his best to learn the complicated dance moves but couldn't seem to get the fluidity and natural grace required for a dancer. Daphne teased him a lot telling him that he could perform complex spells but was unable to dance.

Apart from the torture he was suffering from Daphne, he was attending classes, special sessions with Tonks, McGonagall, Flitwick and Pomfrey. He was advancing pretty well with Tonks as they Duelled regularly which in turn honed their reflexes. As the spell repertoire of Harry was growing, he was beginning to become a challenge for Tonks. He had come close to defeating Tonks quite a few times but was missing narrowly. His sessions with McGonagall and Flitwick were also going excellently. They were now proceeding with the work of third year and with the pace they were going, Harry was hoping to achieve OWL level till the end of the year. His first class with Pomfrey turned out to be a test of sorts where she carefully inspected his wand work which had improved exponentially due to private lessons from the best masters of transfiguration and charms. Once satisfied, she started to teach him about the basics which included a summary of information about human body and basic spells and potions. She was very happy with his ability to quickly grasp the spells but wanted him to be a bit more patient and less temperamental.

In addition to that he had started attending practice sessions with Puddlemere United which in itself was very physically taxing. He was on fixed diet and exercise regime as suggested by the fitness expert of the team. He had to do those exercise every day without abandon. The remaining time was spent studying or having fun with the study group.

Once a month he also was tasked by Ellwood to train the new seeker of Ravenclaw team, a pretty third-year by the name Cho Chang. She was quite fast at the broom and fluid, but lacked the proper instincts required to be a seeker. But still she was the best choice in Ravenclaw after Harry. He tried his best to get her in frame with other team members. It was a bit difficult at first but Harry felt that she would do alright in the end.

Harry along with Padma had decided that their group had become too big to be contained in a corner of Library. So they proposed the idea of shifting to the room which was occupied by Fluffy last year. Everyone welcomed it and they cleaned the room and got the required furniture with the help of house-elves. They had set up the room such that it had space for group study, spell practising and games like Gobstones and Exploding Snap. It was like a small sanctuary for them to act the way they wanted to. Harry had asked for permission from Professor McGonagall to which she had instantly agreed and complimented him for trying to form friendships beyond the boundaries of houses. That is how the end of the year approached and soon came the time to say goodbye to all the friends since they were going to their homes for Christmas. Though Harry was invited by many of his friends, he decided to spend it at Hogwarts since he wanted some peace from the regular cluster of people that seemed to be present all around him during the whole year.