Disclaimer: I do NOT own Harry Potter or Eyeshield 21 or any of the affiliated characters. What I do own is a kick ass Ash Ketchum hat, a freezer full of fudge pops, and a collection of gold medal winning maple syrup. None of which will appear in this story.
Warnings: OC's, some OOC, Het, Slash, AU, fluff, language
The Ninth Tackle
The problem with being so focused on sports and quidditch was that you let things slip. Completely by accident of course, but as the first quidditch game of the season approached, unfortunately, one of Hermione's nagging concerns became a reality.
Harry was eating dinner, trying to figure out how much he needed to eat to satisfy his bushy-haired friend before she would let him eat dessert –she had started to enforce dietary restrictions on the boys- when Oliver walked up to him. "Harry, can I talk to you when you're done?" He asked.
He nodded, happy to talk to his captain some more. Over the weeks they had gotten close, bonding over sports and training. He didn't really take the time last year to get to know his captain, but since the start of the new school year, Harry had discovered many interesting things about Oliver that gave him someone to look up to. He finished quickly, and rushed off to the see the older boy.
"Hey Oliver," Harry said as he entered the common room. "What did you want to talk about?"
Oliver had a very serious expression and gestured for Harry to sit down. "Harry, you know as the captain I keep a close eye on the team, on and off the field," he started. "Normally every other week I will go to the professors and ask for quick and simple status reports on my players. In the past your reports have been scattered but I brushed it aside because they were never consistent."
Harry nodded although he didn't quite understand.
"In the past the professors have said that you've been distracted in class but you still performed well. You have never had the best written work, but you still showed that you were competent in the subject matter. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick have both praised you on your wand work, saying that you are very skilled in the practical aspect of the class, which balances your average skills in written."
That didn't sound too bad to him. He did great with a wand and okay with a quill. He could live with that.
"Harry, I think I'm partly to blame for the situation that you now find yourself in," Oliver spoke softly.
Oliver took a deep breath and moved on. "Since the start of school, it seems that your performance in class both written and practical has failed to meet the professor's standards. Normally I wouldn't be worried about it since it's the start of the year, but since you have had nothing but great results in the practical lessons since you started Hogwarts, I'm concerned. I know that working in a new training program is difficult, and I can't thank you enough for all the help you have given me, but if helping me is affecting your school work then we need to discuss this."
"I'm failing?" Harry asked sadly. If he failed would he get kicked out? Sure he hadn't been putting as much effort into his work as before, but he didn't think it would affect him that much. He just wanted his essays done so that he could help Oliver. He was a bit absent-minded in class because he was thinking of sports, but he still got the spells right in the end.
"Not yet, it is still only October, but if you continue this pattern than you might," Oliver told him truthfully.
"Do I have to stop playing quidditch?"
Harry felt like a large bucket of ice water had been overturned on his head. "On what?" he asked.
"I have to take my bi-weekly report to McGonagall tonight, but if you can assure me that you will find a way to better manage your time and bring up your grades, I will let you play the upcoming match. But I want you to be honest with me and if you don't think you can improve your performance before the match, than I think it would be best if I found a replacement seeker so you can have a small break.
"That's not to say I want to replace you, Merlin no! Harry, you're a fantastic seeker and I love playing with you, and I know I'm partly to blame for your failing grades, but school is important. You need to keep getting good grades. It may sound weird coming from me but you should always put schoolwork before quidditch. I promise to help you in any way I can with studying or tutoring, but I need you to be honest with me. Do you think you can get your grades up before the match, or do you need some time off?"
Harry was dumb-struck. He really didn't know what to say. He was sure that if he focused in some more in classes he could improve no problem. Charms was an easy enough class for him to catch up in, and he was competent in transfiguration. There would probably be no hope for potions, divination, or history though. He was good at defense and with the new professor who actually taught them, Harry was sure he would be fine.
Professor Lupin was a good instructor and he kept his lessons interesting, but the only reason Harry hadn't really paid the man much attention when he was talking was because he had started thinking about rugby lately. Dean's mother had found a book comparing some of the different training techniques that various athletes do in different sports, and he was interested in rugby.
When he was in Professor Lupin's class he couldn't help but wonder what position the man would play. He was tired looking, and a little old, but he seemed to have a hidden strength about him, which Harry though would translate well to sports. So he always debated with himself whether Professor Lupin would be a back or a forward. But after the boggart class, Harry decided that Professor Lupin would probably be a forward. He had this slight feral sense about him that would work well in the scrum, he took charge immediately, and when he wrestled the boggart back into the wardrobe he had shown great agility and strength that would be great a forward position.
From there it was what position of forward he would play. He was average height, so not a prop –he wasn't quite tall enough for that. But then again he could be a hooker*, but the more that Harry watched him move around, he thought the professor fit the flanker spot. He was lean, like Harry, so he was probably fast.
But all that was beside the point, because clearly having those types of thoughts in class was hindering him from playing Quidditch.
"I can manage well in charms and transfiguration if I focus more. I can re-write my potions essay tonight, but I could use help with brewing… Um…" Harry struggled to admit the next part. "I don't think I can improve in Divination since I already just make stuff up in that class… and History I use to sleep. Care of Magical Creatures is easy… but…"
Oliver smile at him. "It's okay, just say what you have to."
Harry sighed. "I like Hagrid, he's a good friend, but after the hippogriff accident his class has been really boring. That coupled with History and I don't know… I don't think I'm really motivated in classes," Harry admitted. And it was the truth. Since he was able to sleep and just do nothing in some classes, he didn't see the need to put effort into the other classes, and so he started thinking on rugby and other things, and apparently that wasn't very good.
"I see…" Oliver took a moment to think. "I believe we should go talk to Professor McGonagall. If you don't feel motivated in class it is something we need to address now, because without that motivation, no matter how much you promise me your grades won't improve as much as they could."
Harry stared at the older boy in fear. "But if we tell her she'll kick me off the team!" There was no way a professor would allow a student to keep playing Quidditch if they weren't motivated in class, and were failing. McGonagall was sure to take him off the team in punishment.
"It will be okay, Harry." Oliver put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "McGonagall is fair, and once she understands the situation, she will be able to help us work something out. She won't take you off the team unless it is absolutely necessary. And trust me on one thing. McGonagall loves quididtch just as much as you and me and it will have to be a lot worse than this for her to ever consider taking you off the team. "Oliver looked around and then dropped his voice to a whisper, "And between you and me, I've heard her talk about you and I can safely tell you that you are her favourite student. She would never kick you off."
Harry felt himself blush at the older boy's words. He was probably kidding, but Harry still felt happy that McGonagall liked him.
"Now enough talking. Let's go see McGonagall, get this class thing sorted, and then go on to beat the Slytherin's."
And off they went.
McGonagall looked over his glasses as she stared at the two boys. The office was silent as the she took her time to think over Oliver's words. Oliver had explained the situation simply, and the two scots and seemed to have a silent conversation with each other before McGonagall sighed and just stared at them.
Harrys started to fidget before the silence was broken.
"Mr. Potter, what do you want to do after you graduate?" The professor asked with a neutral tone.
Harry looked at Oliver and shrugged his shoulders. Getting a look from McGonagall though, he cleared his throat. "I don't know Professor…" he trailed off.
"Do you see yourself working with animals when you're older?" She asked.
"No, Professor." Harry answered honestly.
"Do you see yourself as a seer? Do you believe that tarot cards or crystal balls will help with your future career?"
Harry shook his head in the negative.
"Then I am taking you out of your elective courses," The Professor said with a decisive tone.
McGonagall sighed and looked Harry straight in the eye. "Mr. Potter, the problem we have is that your elective courses are hindering your studies, and coupled with that fact that you don't see yourself using either of them in the future than I think its best that if you no longer attended them. If you find at a later date that you do indeed need one or both of them, then we can put you through an accelerated summer study program so that you can rejoin your year mates."
"You can do that?" Harry asked in shock.
McGonagall let out a small chuckle, while Oliver guffawed loudly beside him. "Mr. Potter," McGonagall started, "You will find that I can do that and much more when it comes to your academics."
"Oh…" Well that sounded cool. "But don't I need those classes? Isn't that a rule or something?" He was sure Hermione mentioned something about it last year when they were picking classes.
"You do need two electives, but there are some special cases. Take Mr. Wood here for example. You both seem to have a lot in common. Mr. Wood suffered from the same problem as you. He couldn't quite keep up in his studies and the issue was brought before me."
Harry looked at his captain in amazement. This wasn't the first time he heard they were alike, but to know that Oliver had problems with his studies too was comforting. It meant Harry wasn't stupid like he thought.
Oliver sent him a soft smile and took over explaining. "I took Care and Runes in third year. I had trouble too, but McGonagall helped me figure out my course selection. I dropped both classes and took the summer arithmancy course."
"But that's only one extra class," Harry pointed out.
"Quidditch counts as my second."
McGonagall chuckled. "Technically no, it doesn't, but with some creative wording, Mr. Wood is taking Flying as his second elective under Madam Hooch."
"C-could I do that?" Harry asked quietly.
A heavy sigh left McGonagall's mouth as she sat back in her chair. "I don't want you to think of this as an easy out Mr. Potter. Mr. Wood has put in a lot of time and effort into flying. His desire to play professional is the main reason he is allowed to claim Flying as a class."
"So if I wanted to be a professional quidditch player too…" Harry trailed off.
"Is that what you really want to do Mr. Potter?"
Harry took a moment to think about it. Did he want to be a quidditch player? "I don't know. I really like quidditch. I love flying and stuff. It's about the only thing I'm really good at besides Defense… "
McGonagall nodded along. "Take some time Mr. Potter. Think about what you would like to do after you graduate and when you come to a decision, we will revisit this subject and select the right courses for you."
"I… T-thank you..." Harry struggled with his words. He couldn't properly describe how he was feeling. He was happy, confused, frustrated, and ashamed.
"Now, if we're finished here gentlemen, I think it's time you both returned to the common room and finished your homework. Neither of you are in a position to let your grades slip," McGonagall stated with a soft smile.
"Yes. Professor," both boys responded.
When Harry walked back into Gryffindor, Ron and Hermione were waiting to pounce on him.
"Mate, where you been?" Ron asked immediately.
"We need to start on our homework, Harry, you shouldn't be wasting time by wandering the castle," Hermione lectured. "We'll start with Care and move onto-"
"Actually," Harry cut her off. "I dropped Care and Divination."
"Harry!" Hermione whispered harshly, sounding completely scandalized. "How irresponsible-"
Harry cut her off a second time he wasn't really in the mood to listen to another long winded lecture about his studies and how he needed ot be more serious about his schoolwork if he ever hoped to have a good future. He knew it was important, and that was why all he wanted to do was think about it. Did he want to play professional quidditch? Was there something else out there that he would like more? When he had been younger, still ignorant about magic, he had different aspirations. The main one was getting away from the Dursely's, but he also thought about other things. Did he still want those things?
"Hermione, not tonight. I just had a meeting with McGonagall. She went over everything you want ot say, and really, she was the one that pulled me from those classes. Right now, I just want to finish my homework, rewrite my potions essay and get some sleep."
Hermione looked upset but grudgingly relented. After all, if he spoke to McGonagall than in her mind he probably already learned his lesson.
Ron on the other hand was looking at him in awe. "Mate, we can drop them? I'm so going to do that!" He cheered.
"Ronald!" Hermione screeched.
"Ron, I don't think you can," Harry interrupted his friends celebration. "Professor McGonagall removed me from those classes because my studies haven't been going well this year. She wants me to focus on my core classes and once I figure out what I want to do after I graduate she will place me in the appropriate electives, but in order to join them I will have to take a summer acceleration class," He explained quickly for his friend.
"School during the summer?" Ron looked heartbroken. "Mate, I think she's punishing you."
Harry laughed lightly and shook his head. "Actually, I'm kind of looking forward to it. Once I figure out what I want to do then I can start working hard towards that goal."
"Mental…" Ron muttered.
Hermione was caught at a crossroads. She very obviously wanted to scold him for letting his grades drop, but she also looked like she wanted to push a finger in his face and say 'Ah Ha! I told you so,' since she had been right. Responsibly and triumph were a hard battle to fight.
Not wanting to see which sine one, Harry slipped past his friends and went up to his dorm to gather his school work. He would study hard and get his grades up so that McGonagall would never ever have to consider kicking him off the team.
Fun Football Fact
Jackie Robinson is well-known for being the black athlete to break the color barrier in 1945 when he played in the MLB. However, Charles Follis preceded him when he became the first black professional football player in 1904!