Disclaimer: I own nothing from Harry Potter other than OCs

Magnolia Crescent

Chapter Fifty-Two


"All of this extra work doesn't make up for the lack of exams at the end of the year, huh?" Ron asked while Harry glanced over the entrance forms. He had talked to everyone left on the Gryffindor Quiddtch team. Angelina, Alicia, Katie, Fred and George were all up for going another round this year, but sadly, he still had not idea of who to ask for his Keeper.

"Well, if it was Hermione, she would still take care of the exams on top of all of the Champion responsibilities," Harry said, smirking. He walked into Sirius's class though his godfather didn't take notice and instead glanced over his paperwork.

"Professor Black," Harry said, finally getting his attention.

"Well, hello, Harry. Here to turn in the papers for your team?" he asked, smiling. He seemed all too eager to push paperwork to the side for the time being.

"Sadly, no luck on the Keeper position, but I was lucky enough that my house was willing to back me up at least," he admitted, handing the papers to Sirius with a half-smile.

"Hmm, well just don't take too long. But I wouldn't worry too much. This isn't for any points; this is just so Karkaroff can show off Krum," Sirius said, waving away Harry's worry. "But don't let that stop you from showing that pro a thing or two," he added with a wink. "And I'll make sure old Bagman gets these," he said, waving the parchment as he stood up.

As he and Ron walked out of class, Harry could tell that Ron wanted to say something. It was a few more minutes before he actually spoke.

"Well, you could always have a tryout for the Keeper position – have it open to anyone who wants in," he suggested. Harry raised one eyebrow, getting a feeling that it wasn't what Ron had originally wanted to say. "Well, with all of the students who put their name in the Goblet of Fire, there must be someone in the school that wants to be involved and has the skill to play Keeper," he advised, seeming worried that Harry didn't like the idea.

"It wouldn't be a bad idea. But if that's the case, shouldn't I open it up to all positions?" he asked, finding himself playing the devil's advocate.

"Well, I am sure Hermione would agree on level for school unity," he said, waving his hand. "But you would have to go through drills and all kinds of things. It's best to have as much of a team intact as possible. Rather than starting from scratch, since you only have so much time," he said, finally getting into the swing of the argument.

Harry nodded in agreement. "I'll have to send the word out and pick a day. Hmm, are you going to join the tryouts?" he asked casually.

"Well, I have some skill – I used to be Keeper for my brothers when they practiced at home," Ron admitted nervously.

"I wish you luck," he replied. When they arrived at lunch, Harry sat down and found himself surrounded by the odd assortment of friends he had gathered. Leo was eating at the Gryffindor table, a quill dancing over his homework while Hermione was doing hers by hand. Luna was also there, picking at the food on her plate.

"So, Leo," Ron said, glancing over at the Slytherin as his eyes twitched away for a second. "Harry's going to have tryouts for the Keeper. Interested?" he asked, eyes glancing around the table before landing on Leo again.

Leo slammed his fist into his chest, coughing on a piece of food. Then he took a deep breath, trying to stop the watering in his eyes.

"Count me out. I have never played a game of Quidditch," he said, dismissing the idea and coughing again. "Dante and Alec might, however. They both have family to practice with over the summer."

"Oh, well too bad," he said, not appearing to mean it much.

"Really?" Hermione asked, looking at Leo incredulously. He went back to eating and ignored her question. But she kept a softer eye on him while lunch ended and afternoon classes started.

"Now then, please open your books up to page 995. The charm in question for today has some rather difficult wand flourishes. But with time, you can learn the necessary steps with practice," Professor Flitwick instructed. His lecture was interrupted, however, when Ludo Bagman stepped awkwardly into the door.

"I need to speak with Mr. Potter," he said, a bright smile on his face. Harry grimaced towards the professor who nodded for him to follow Bagman into the corridor.

"What is it, Mr. Bagman?" Harry asked once the classroom door had been shut.

"Well, we went over the paperwork and there is an issue with your team," he replied calmly but the stern look on his face was rather odd.

"I know, I am still trying to find a good Keeper. But I didn't realize that I had to file everything in at once," Harry explained, one hand rubbing at the back of his head. He thought absently that he was probably overdue for a haircut.

"It has nothing to do with the Keeper. But we can't accept these two applicants," Ludo said, handing a piece of parchment to Harry.

"Fred and George?" Harry asked incredulously, staring at the parchment in his hand. "Why them?"

"They are in charge of the gambling; it would be frowned upon if they were allowed to compete because of this," Bagman replied evenly.

"Right," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "I take it that I need to find replacements for them?" he asked, letting out a heavy sigh. "Anything else?" Inside, he really wanted to shout at Bagman that he just want to be done with this.

"Look, Harry. I'm sorry; I really do wish you the best of luck," he said, putting one hand on Harry's shoulder and giving him an apologetic smile. "If you want, I could give you some advice on the pitch," he offered with a smile.

"I appreciate it, Mr. Bagman. But I have tryouts to plan and schoolwork to get back to," he said, moving the man's hand off of his shoulder. He headed back to the Charms classroom and sat down, frowning at his deck. His mind was spilt between finding replacements and the Charms lesson. He felt like the rest of afternoon classes passed in a blur, connected only by the long sighs he gave occasionally.

"If you're going to have tryouts, I would feel much better if you held it for all stations," Katie told him at dinner, voice a little tense with uncomfortableness. Harry had just told the Gryffindor team what he had heard from Bagman and no one was exactly thrilled over the whole deal.

"I don't have the time to rebuild a team dynamic from scratch – this is a onetime deal, if you are that worried about me playing favorites," Harry quipped, walking over the school grounds towards the Quidditch pitch. Katie wasn't the first to voice her discomfort over partial tryouts; Harry had heard quite a few complaints from other students that had wanted to be chasers. But Harry had a three woman team that was unequaled in teamwork and he didn't have the time nor the skill to build that from the ground up.

"Promise," she all but ordered.

"You say that like I'm going to be the next team captain," Harry said, attempting to wave her off.

"Well, not immediately," she replied in a low voice, glancing over the pitch. "It seems a little over grown," she commented with a frown.

"Finding the snitch is going to be fun with all of this grass," Harry groaned. "Alright, we need a Keeper and two beaters," he mentioned, looking across the field and seeing two faces that were a least partially familiar.

"You have an area in mind?" Alec asked in a voice tinted with Russian, Dante right beside him. "This is open to all students – not just Gryffindor house, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, over there," Harry said, pointing towards a spot on the field. He took a deep breath to calm himself and then noticed that Katie was giving him strange looks. "What?" he asked. But she merely opened her mouth, glancing at the other beaters and closed her mouth. She raised her hand as if to point something but thought better of it and just shook her head. Harry shrugged his shoulder, motioning for the beaters to hit the air.

The tryout wasn't too hard; the bludgers were more than happy to keep moving and aiming for new targets. Harry watched, counting hits and misses as averages while Katie and the other chasers had fun with the possibility of testing out two Keepers at a time.

"So, how are things going?" Leo asked, nearly scaring Harry out of his shoes.

"Everything is going okay. We have four beaters that are showing promise; Dante, Alec, Richie and William. Sadly, the Keepers are a bit harder to come by. Ron is doing okay, but he's nervous. It's showing and impairing his skill," he replied, eyes still roaming over the field.

"Impressive," Leo commented.

"What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you weren't interested," Harry asked.

"I'm not, but you have to support your friends," Leo replied, giving a shout when Alec gave a rather impressive swing.

"They could try out for the Slytherin team, if they wanted to," Harry commented idly.

"Could, but they don't. Let's just say that those gifts from second year didn't come free," he replied, grimacing. Harry spotted it from the corner of his eye before watching the tryouts once more. Another Keeper by the name of Cormac took the hoops and Harry noted that he was doing a decent job.

"He's doing rather well. And I think Ron suddenly got better," Leo observed, echoing Harry's thoughts.

"Yeah, he's been a bit of a pain though. Giving me advice and for every good idea he has, he's just repeating Wood," Harry grunted.

"Sometimes you have to decide what you value more: someone who is the best or someone who is willing to follow orders," Leo commented. They watched as Cormac's broom suddenly jolted to the side, forcing him to miss a shot. "Did you see that?" he asked but Harry remained silent for a few moments more.

"I think I'm going with Ron; he's had a few close calls but with six to Cormac's five, he's my best bet," Harry said, smiling slightly.

"Even if they tied, Ron would be better the choice, judging from your opinion on the matter," Leo replied, glancing around the stands and noticing Hermione sitting there. He wasn't sure if she could see him but he raised an eyebrow at her, a serpentine smile on his face.

Even after tryouts were officially over and Harry announced who had made the cut, it was a while before he left the pitch as he was running his team through the basic drills that Wood had sent them through the last few years. Katie was more than happy to pick up the slack, pointing things out and giving him helpful advice. Harry accepted it without issue because of her seniority. By the time everyone was wrapped up and ready to head to their dorms, the sun was beginning to set.

"So, a team of Gryffindors and two Slyther-in," Dante said with an ear splitting grin, elbowing Alec in the side.

"That's not very punny," Alicia retorted, causing Dante to snort at her response.

"Would you two Quidditch already," Alec butted in. Hermione shook her head and Ron was trying to keep from grinning. If it was from the bad jokes or being the new Keeper, it was anyone's guess.

"I immediately regret my decision," Harry said in a deadpan while everyone around him laughed. "So, we need to get some more practice in. I'll need everyone to check their schedules to fit some time in."

"Got it," the team said in near perfect unison.

"This is great. And here, I was all upset at not getting to play," Angelina said, stretching her arms over her head. "Seeing as how participation in the replacement is so limited," she added, glancing at Harry. "Sorry," she said sheepishly.

"No big deal. To be honest, I would have preferred Quidditch over the tournament any day," he replied.

"Speak for yourself. I can't wait to take a crack at Krum. And even better, we get to see how Harry stacks up against a pro," Katie chimed in, slapping Harry on the back.

"That hardly seems fair," Hermione said.

"You're right. Maybe Harry should blindfold himself to even things out," Leo said with a chuckle.

"Yeah, I think Harry has single handedly gotten every snitch gamewise. Well, unless he was in bed from that year's fiasco," Dante pointed out, seriously considering the prospect.

"Well, there was that one time in third year against Hufflepuff," Alec commented.

"Yeah, but that was because of the dementors. Cedric could never beat Harry in a straight game," Ron reminded, immediately coming to his friend's defense. The two mused on the idea and the conversation seemed to puff everyone up at the idea.

Soon, there will be an interschool Quiddtch game!