A/N: I haven't posted in a while... Sorry about that. My life has been rather intense lately. And of course, there were wonderful challenges to participate in.
Hope you enjoy.
Thank you Arpad for taking the time to read and beta my stories.
Chapter 6 – The Visitors
"Okay, students," called Professor Shield, clapping his hands to grab the students' attention. "Let's pair up and show Mr Potter what you all can do".
Genna looked around but knew that tonight, she wouldn't have a partner. Since one of the students had been victim of an accident in the afternoon Seventh-year Potion class and was now in the infirmary, there were an odd number and every time it happened, Genna was left without a partner. Nobody, not even Audrey, Marcus or Mathiew, wanted to partner with her because she was just too good.
"I'll partner with you."
Genna turned around to see Ginny standing next to her.
"Wh-what?" she asked. "You'll - you'll partner with me?"
"Sure," answered Ginny, grinning. "I heard you're very good and I really would like to see what you can do."
More nervous than she would dare to admit, Genna smiled hesitantly. Ginny had fought in the war and Genna wondered if she could measure up to her.
They both took their places on one of the duelling stages and bowed to one another. They walked the prescribed distance, turned around and waited at the ready. Genna just had the time to wonder what would happen next when Ginny threw a hex at her. Genna sprang into action and blocked it. As Ginny threw more offensive spells at her, they became harder to block and Genna knew she would need to take the offensive if she was to win the duel.
Ginny blocked her first offensive spell with shock on her face. Genna wondered for a second why she was so shocked but didn't have time to analyse the situation further as Ginny sent another offensive spell her way, making Genna lose the offensive again. She regained it with a rapid succession of spells, which Ginny blocked but with increasing difficulty. Genna was about to throw the spell she knew would defeat Ginny when a strong shield appeared between them, effectively stopping her curse. Ginny gave a sigh of relief while Genna frowned in puzzlement. She turned to her right when she heard someone applauded.
"Good job, Genna," said Harry with a big smile. "However, it wouldn't do to send the Harpies' star Chaser to the Hospital Wing. The Harpies would never let me take her on holiday again if that was to happen."
Ginny shrugged and Genna turned to grin at Harry.
"Imagine that," she said humorously.
"I'll let you rest for a moment and I'll pick up where you two left off," said Harry.
He turned and left while Genna's heart all but stopped in her chest. She was to face the Harry Potter? The one who killed Voldemort? Genna was fairly sure she had turned the same colour as the castle ghosts and felt her dinner move uncomfortably in her stomach.
"Relax," said Ginny, walking to her. "You'll do just fine. You may even send him on his arse."
Genna laughed nervously, not at all sure she really wanted to face the famous wizard. Faster than she was ready, Harry came back and they took position on the duelling stage. They bowed to one another, walked to their respective ends of the stage, and turned around. They stayed a few seconds appraising one another and Genna took the offensive. Her spells were strong and true, and Harry blocked them with his shield. He then took the offensive and Genna was hard pressed to block his spells. They were strong, very strong, a lot stronger than anything she had ever faced.
"Expelliarmus!" he finally yelled.
Genna, her shield crumbling, went flying down the stage and landed on her back, the wind completely knocked out of her.
"Genna!" she heard Marcus call in concern.
She heard him run to her and his concerned face appeared in her field of vision.
"Genna, are you okay?" he asked.
Harry, Ginny, Audrey and Mathiew also appeared in her field of vision.
"So, this is how it feels when I throw you all across the room?" she said between breath but with a huge grin on her face.
Everybody around her chuckled.
"Yeah," said Mathiew. "Pretty much."
"Genna, let me check your head real quick," said Marcus, his wand and stone at the ready. "It wasn't long ago that you had your head injured."
Genna nodded her approval, knowing it was the only way to reassure her boyfriend that she was okay.
"All good," he said after only a few seconds of swiping his wand over her head.
Marcus and Harry grabbed her arms and pulled her to her feet. The crowd that had gathered around them dispersed and Harry turned to her.
"You're good," he said once they were alone with Ginny. "You're very good. I have no doubt you could become better than me if you wanted to."
"Yeah but what would be the point?" she said, looking at the ground sadly. "I couldn't very well become an Auror or anything else that would require me to use Defence."
"Don't say that," said Ginny. "You don't know what will happen in the future."
Genna looked at Ginny sadly.
"Maybe not but if they couldn't figure out a way to fix my foot by now, why would I think they ever will?"
"But do you like duelling?" asked Harry.
"Yes, I do," she answered. "I like everything to do with Defence. I'm just good at it. But sometimes I wish I was that good at Potions or Herbology, that way it wouldn't be wasted on me."
"It's not wasted," said Ginny, smiling gently. "It just hasn't found its potential yet."
"Listen," said Harry. "I want us to spar again. It has been a long time since I've faced somebody who was as good as you."
"And I'll stay back and prepare to cushion your fall if he throws you again," said Ginny with a smile.
"Okay," said Genna.
They had been duelling for a few minutes when the room stopped again to look at them. Genna frowned in concentration and her hands were starting to sweat when she sent a particularly strong curse at Harry and send him flying across the room.
The students in the room took a sudden gasp and Genna heard Mathiew say: "No way!"
"Way!" squeaked Audrey, laughing.
Everybody began to applaud and laugh. Genna looked at them with a big smile, while Harry, who was back on his feet, walked to her, grinning.
"Miss Hudon, you are the first one to throw me on my back in the last two years!" he said. "You're very good indeed! I really hope we'll have the chance to spar again before I leave. I definitely would appreciate the challenge."
"Thank you," said Genna. "Hopefully, we will."
Harry walked away to assist the other students who were slowly returning to their own exercise and Genna looked at Ginny.
"I'll spar some more with you if you promise not to send me flying across the room," said Ginny with a smile.
"If you tell me when to stop, I should be able to manage that," said Genna, smiling also.
"You know, I think Ginny has taken a liking to you," said Audrey with a grin.
Genna and Audrey were in the library working on their potion homework. Genna had a Quidditch game the following Saturday and had a final practice the following night. She knew she would not have a lot of time for homework before the game and wanted to make the most of the little time she had. Consequently, she didn't really have time to chat with Audrey who was not in the mood for homework. Genna had been listening to her with only one ear until she heard Ginny's name.
"Why do you think that?" she asked her best friend.
"Well, she goes and flies with you, then spars with you in duelling, and now she asked you if she could attend practice tomorrow," explained Audrey. "I think she really likes you."
"She's married!" exclaimed Genna.
"Not in a gay way, you silly! In a friendly I-wish-you-were-my-little-sister kind of way," said Audrey laughing.
"Oh! Maybe," said Genna, shrugging and turning her attention back to her homework.
"Attention, dear students," suddenly said the Headmaster's voice throughout the school.
Genna and Audrey looked at each other in surprise. They hadn't known of an intercom system in the school so they wondered what type of spell the Headmaster could be using to be heard all over the castle. To their knowledge, it was the first time he was addressing the students that way.
"I would like to invite all the fifth and sixth year students to join me and the staff in the Great Hall for an important announcement to be made in fifteen minutes. Fifth and sixth years, please proceed to the Great Hall immediately."
"I wonder why they want us in the Great Hall again," said Audrey, walking next to Genna. "We finished dinner less than an hour ago. Couldn't they have told us then?"
"I don't know," said Genna. "But whatever it is, it must be pretty darn important."
"We agree," said Mathiew, joining them with Marcus.
"Hi, love," said Marcus, kissing Genna on the forehead. "Feels like I haven't seen you in ages."
"You saw her at dinner!" chuckled Audrey, amused.
Marcus looked at Genna, grinning.
"You two coming?" asked Audrey who had kept on walking with Mathiew.
A few minutes later, they arrived in the Great Hall and made their way to the front, close to the teachers' table. Genna and Marcus sat next to one another, and Mathiew and Audrey sat across from them at the Air table.
"Dear fifth and sixth year students, welcome," began Headmaster Flynn with a smile. "With the collaboration of the British Ministry, I have great news to announce. This school and the British Ministry are offering the chance for four students, one per House, to spend the summer in Britain for an internship."
After a few seconds of stunned silence, everybody suddenly started speaking at the same time.
"Students!" interrupted the Headmaster. "There are conditions in order to qualify for those internships.
"First, you need to be seventeen years old by June 20 of this year in order to qualify."
A few of the fifth year students protested.
"People under the age of seventeen are not of age and cannot perform magic outside of school, therefore would not be able to fully benefit from these internships.
"Second, most of those internships are designed to give you an advantage for your seventh year exams therefore students who are not coming back next year will not qualify."
More fifth year protested.
"The internship will be geared towards the following fields: Defence, Herbology, Healing, and Ministry Administration. All students who are interested in any of those internships must submit a thirteen-inch essay explaining the following: which field you want to be considered for, why would you be the best one to be chosen, and what you think you would get out of this opportunity. Students can only submit for one field..."
More students protested but settled down quickly.
"All interested students have until five o'clock Sunday to submit their application in a locked box which will be set up at the entrance of the Great Hall. Your applications will be evaluated by Mr and Mrs Potter, the Heads of House, and myself.
"While your academic achievements will not necessarily be considered, your general attitude and behaviour will. The last thing we want is for our students to give a bad image to the school or to fail.
"The results of the selection will be announced on Friday, April 11, during dinner. The chosen students will leave on June 21 from a special portkey here in the Teacher's Lounge and come back on August 24. If you have any further questions, please direct them to your Head of House.
"With that, you are dismissed."
Everybody stood and left the hall.
"Going back to the library?" asked Marcus to Genna.
"Yeah," she answered. "My potion homework is still waiting for me."
"I'll let you get back to it, then," he said quietly and gently kissed her. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Okay," she said as quietly.
Genna joined Audrey with a sad sigh and they made their way to the library.
"Are you going to put in for it?" asked Audrey.
"I don't know," answered Genna. "You?"
"Yeah," she answered. "It would be a bummer not to see Stephane all summer but no one should pass something like that. I think I'll put in for Herbology."
"Mmh," said Genna distractedly.
"Why the mmh? What are you thinking?"
"Nothing really," answered Genna. "If I was to put in, I may go for Herbology also or Ministry Administration."
"You cannot be serious!" exclaimed Audrey. "Defence has your name written all over it!"
"But what would I get out of it, Audrey?" asked Genna more shortly than she intended. "I certainly cannot be an Auror."
"And why the hell not?"
"Well, have you looked at me lately?" asked Genna annoyed. "Newsflash! I cannot walk! And I sure as hell cannot run!"
"So," said Audrey insensitively. "It never stopped you before! Besides, you can fly! And who said you needed to be an Auror? What about a teacher? Or an investigator?"
Genna looked at her with pain in her eyes, the insecurity she had felt before Christmas rushing back to her. She wanted to be a professional Quidditch player first and foremost, but truth be told, she would also have considered being an Auror if she had not been plagued with her deformity. Teacher sounded so... boring to her. But she had to admit, investigator may have some potential.
"Don't be like that, Genna," said Audrey gently. "Teacher is not a bad thing, you know," she said as if she had read her mind. "And you can teach anywhere, not only at St. Leandre. And look at Professor Shield! He gets to travel!"
Genna gave her a sad smile.
"I don't know if I'll put in," she said. "Besides, I have a Quidditch game to think about."
"Well, I think you would be stupid not to put in for it. I bet you anything Marcus will go for one of them, probably Healing."
"Yeah," said Genna, grinning. "That one has his name written all over it!"
They walked a few more minutes in silence.
"Genna," said Audrey seriously when they reached the door to the library. "Promise me you'll put in for Defence. I know you want it and I don't want you to start thinking less of yourself because you have to use crutches."
"I... I'll consider it," she said.
"Okay, good enough for now."
Genna followed Audrey into the library.
Genna was hovering above the field looking at her team with pride in her eyes. She had to admit, they were good; they were undefeated, with a very comfortable advance over the other teams. Saturday would be their last regular game and they were playing Air, which was another decent team, but they just didn't compare. Genna was pretty certain she would be playing Water in the finals but she wasn't worried about that game right now.
Ginny, who had been practising with the Chasers a few moments before, joined her over the field.
"Pretty good team you've got," she said.
"Yeah," said Genna. "I'm pretty happy with them. Ginny, can I ask you something?"
"Sure," she said with a smile.
"Aren't you afraid the other students from the other Houses will think you play favourite with us?"
"And why the Hell not?" asked Ginny, laughing. "You're from the same House I am, and of course I have my favourites. Even Harry has his favourites when it comes to Quidditch. I think I'm passed the age where I think you have to be neutral, really.
"But to reassure you," she added, grinning. "I will practice with Air tomorrow. They are, after all, Ravenclaws, and I like Ravenclaws too.
"Which makes me think: who is your boyfriend going to cheer for on Saturday?"
"Me," answered Genna, smiling. "He doesn't really care about the game, but he cares about me, so..."
"He'll cheer for you," provided Ginny. "That's good. I had a boyfriend from another House once and he got mad at me because I defeated his team. Of course, it became the end of us, the git.
"I meant to ask you; is your head okay? Your boyfriend seemed rather concerned when Harry threw you across the room on Tuesday."
"Yeah, it's okay," said Genna with a small smile. "I think Marcus is just overall worried that I'll die since I've had so many closed calls this year. Quite honestly, it can be really annoying at times, but he means well so I let him. I guess I would be as worried as him if the roles were reversed.
"Does Harry ever worry about you that way?"
"Well, no, because he knows when I need him to do something to help me, like the shield he threw between us Tuesday," answered Ginny. "However, there was this one time when some Death Eaters had almost killed me and he got really worried. His worries stayed for a long time afterwards, but it's a long story for another time. Actually, if you get the Defence internship, I would have two months to tell you. You're putting for it, aren't you?"
"I don't know," said Genna, smiling sadly. "So many others could benefit from it so much more than me. I mean it's not like I can become an Auror, you know."
"Rubbish!" dismissed Ginny, keeping her eyes on the practising players. "It's not because you cannot become an Auror that you cannot benefit from it. You could easily teach it at the Auror Academy. Besides, let me tell you two secrets about this particular internship: whoever gets it will be staying with Harry and I, and whoever stays with Harry and I gets to meet a lot of professional Quidditch players and maybe play with us if they're good enough. You see, every Sunday, we gather at my parents' house for friendly games. It is quite exciting, really.
"Headmaster Flynn tells me you're the best Seeker this school has seen in his career and he's pretty convinced you could play professionally. Well, if you want to rub elbows with some of us and get a feel for it, now is your chance," she added, turning to look at Genna.
Genna looked back at Ginny with her mouth wide opened in surprise.
"I wish I had a mirror right about now," said Ginny, laughing at Genna's face.
Genna closed her mouth with a snap and return her eyes to the practicing players. But she could no longer pay attention to them. Her mind seemed to be able to focus on only one thing: meeting and even playing Quidditch with professional players. She knew this would be an incredible opportunity, one that could definitely put her well on her way to her dream. And she had to be honest with herself: she really wanted to go to Britain and she really wanted to do the Defence internship. She loved Defence, she was good at it, and Audrey and Ginny were right: she definitely could teach it, which would give her something to do once she was ready to retire from Quidditch. Ginny had definitely given her a lot to think about, and she knew she couldn't pass this opportunity anymore.
"What's wrong, Baby?" asked her Marcus a few hours later. "You're very quiet tonight."
They had taken the habit of stealing a moment together as often as they could, in the inner courtyard or by the lake. Fawkes would usually join them, standing on the back of the bench next to Marcus' shoulder.
"Are you going to put in for any of the internships?" she asked, looking at him.
"I did, this morning," he answered. "I put in for the Healing one."
Genna gave him an amused smile.
"I sorta kinda thought you would... but I didn't think you would do it that fast."
"Well, what's the point of me waiting?" he asked. "It was fairly obvious to me that I needed to put in. Why do you ask? Aren't you putting in for any of them?"
"I think I will," she answered, looking over the school grounds. "I wasn't planning to but I had a conversation with Ginny at practice earlier today."
"What did she say? That it would be stupid not to put in?" he asked with a chuckle.
"Among other things," said Genna. "She also said that the student who gets the Defence internship will be staying with her and Harry, and would get to meet professional Quidditch players."
"Wow! That would be good, wouldn't it?"
"Yeah," answered Genna with a sigh.
"So, what's the problem? I know you love Defence, and Quidditch would just be an added bonus."
"The 'How will it benefit you' question," she answered, wincing.
"Oh, I see," answered Marcus gently.
"I can obviously not be an Auror," she said after a few seconds of silence. "Audrey and Ginny said I could teach it but I don't know. I don't know if I would like it. Audrey also suggested investigation, but even that may be challenging for me in my condition," she said.
"Well, teaching doesn't necessarily mean at St. Leandre, you know."
"Yeah. Ginny said Auror Academy."
"Well, think about this then: I think very few people are capable to effectively teach Defence in Auror schools because Aurors become better at it then the teachers. Imagine the good you would do if you were to teach it. You could really challenge them to become even better. Merlin's pants, you sent Harry Potter flying across the room and he is one of the best there is. Imagine how much they could learn from you."
Genna looked at him, grinning at the memory of Harry landing on his back.
"Tell me you'll put in for it," said Marcus gently, pushing away a stray hair from her face.
"I will," she said before he leaned forward and kissed her.
Genna could not believe it. She woke up this Saturday morning to a raging snow storm.
"It's April, for crying out loud!" she said to Audrey when her friend woke up. "We shouldn't be playing Quidditch in such weather in April!"
Audrey chuckled, knowing that Genna's outburst was more related to nerves than the weather. Genna had always preferred flying when it snowed and Audrey knew it.
"You'll be fine," said Audrey. "Ginny and Harry will be impressed."
A few hours later, flying over the field, Genna wasn't so sure. They had been playing for half an hour and it was snowing so hard Genna could barely see her players from her position above the field, let alone the Snitch. Her usual tactic of searching would obviously not work today. At least, she knew the other Seeker was not faring any better than her.
Her team had scored the first goal of the game just before she began a more active search of the golden ball, flying around and getting lower into the pitch with every passes. And that is how she found the snitch about two hours later, floating next to the Air Keeper's right foot. She dove for it and, in the most anti-climatic chase of her career, she caught it. It was in fact so anti-climatic that she had to fly to the referee for him to call off the game. Nobody had seemed to notice she had caught the ball except for Harry Potter. He was on his feet, applauding enthusiastically and smiling widely while everybody else in the teacher's box was looking at him strangely.
"Genna caught the Snitch?" asked the announcer over the loud speaker when she reached the referee. "Yes! She caught the Snitch! Fire wins 270 to 100!"
"Did she submit it? Did she submit an application?" asked Headmaster Flynn, joining the Potters in his conference room.
Harry and Ginny were busy opening the many scrolls they had received for the internships in preparation for the selection meeting they would be holding that night.
"We haven't come across it yet if she did," said Harry, unrolling more scrolls.
"Don't worry, Headmaster," said Ginny, with a knowing smile. "She certainly did."
"What makes you so sure?" asked Harry.
"I told her she would be staying with us and we would take her to Quidditch at the Burrow every Sundays."
"I bet she couldn't pass that," said Harry with a chuckle.
"It was the goal, now, wasn't it?"
Harry kissed her temple gently.
"And here it is!" she said, holding a scroll triumphantly.
"Let me see what it says," asked the Headmaster impatiently.
Ginny gave him the scroll and he began to read it.
"Oh!" he said surprised, after a few seconds of reading. "This is very good. She really put some thought into it. I think even if we hadn't decided to pick her already, she would have finished on top anyway."
"What do you mean?" asked Harry.
"She put a lot more thought into it than the 'I want to be an Auror' justification. She says: 'This internship would benefit others more than it would even benefit me. Effectively, I hope in the future, to become a Defence trainer for professionals such as Aurors. Increasing my Defence skills will benefit them as they will be able to have a teacher who can take them on, consequently improving their skills.'"
"She's right," said Harry. "I, myself, will benefit from teaching her. I haven't sparred with somebody that good in a long, long time."
Harry and Ginny finished sorting the scrolls and Ginny took the smallest pile.
"Only four people applied for Healing," she said. "And Marcus' is in there."
"What Houses are the others? Earth?" asked the Headmaster.
"No," answered Ginny. "Two Earth and one other Air."
"Who?" asked The Headmaster.
Ginny told him the names.
"Strange," said the Headmaster. "They have all taken the course but none of them have shown as much interest as Mr Tyler in the subject, nor have they shown as much skill."
"I guess he'll be coming to Britain, then," said Ginny, putting the scrolls back on the table and starting to duplicate them for the meeting.
"All the ones who submitted for Herbology are from Earth," said Harry also putting the stack of scrolls he was holding on the table and flicking his wand to duplicate them.
"It was to be expected," said the Headmaster with a chuckle. "The other Houses just do not compare with them."
"Wow!" said Ginny, looking at another stack of scrolls. "9 Fire put in for Defence, 1 Earth, 3 Air and 7 Water."
"And 5 Water put in for Administration, 7 Air and 3 Fire, but no Earth," said Harry, looking at the last pile of scrolls.
"I feel rather bad for the nineteen who didn't have a chance to get into Defence," said Ginny. "I feel like we cheated them."
"What if we review the applications anyway and if we find another person who would really deserve it, we select them too?" offered Harry who also felt bad about it even if he understood the necessity.
"I think it's a great idea, Mr Potter," said the Headmaster, putting Genna's scroll on the top of the Defence pile. "That way, we are fair to everyone. However, I would be surprised if Genna doesn't finish on top," he added with a sparkle in his eyes.
"That good?" asked Harry.
"That good," answered Headmaster Flynn with a smile.
Later that night, Harry could only agree. While Genna spoke about how she would have other people benefit from her skills, the others spoke about how the internship would advance their own career, and most of them seemed to think it would help them become Aurors. Genna's selfless approach by far appealed to Harry the most.
"And she's the best in the duelling club and in Defence class also," said Professor Shield, bringing Harry's attention back to the discussion. "There's no doubt in my mind she should be selected, even if we hadn't decided on her first."
"I agree," said Professor Carlisle.
Professor Noël and Murray nodded their agreement.
"That settles it," said Headmaster Flynn. "What about Healing?"
"That one is also fairly obvious," said Professor Carlisle. "Mr Tyler is definitely the best choice. There's no doubt in my mind this young man is destined to become a Healer, and a very good one."
"And he saved Miss Hudon's life how many times this year?" said Professor Murray. "And how many hours did he volunteer in the infirmary with Nurse Feelgood? I think if Nurse Feelgood had a say in this, she would choose him also."
"I agree," said Professor Noël.
Professor Shield nodded his agreement.
"Then, that settles it also," said the Headmaster. "How about Administration? Since we have our candidate for Fire and Air, and there is no Earth application, we should be considering the Water students only."
"Please, if I may, Headmaster," said Ginny.
The Headmaster inclined his head towards her to acknowledge her.
"Whoever you pick will need to work with my brother. Please consider that my brother is very stiff and rigid, and relatively hard to work with. He prizes efficiency and a high level of effectiveness. Somebody who is intuitive and disorganised will not work well with him. Please keep this in mind when you make your decision."
"Thank you, Mrs Potter," said the Headmaster.
The committee members began to read the five applications and sort them.
"I would go with Thomas Freeman," said Professor Carlisle after everybody was done reading. "He's very organised and I do think he will be the one to benefit the most from this internship."
"What's his view on Muggles and the French?" asked Harry.
"He's rather biased on those, I'm afraid," said Professor Carlisle. "He doesn't really like the French and I think he is pretty... neutral towards Muggles."
"Professor, would this internship broaden his mind?" asked Professor Noël.
"I don't know," answered Professor Carlisle.
"Reina, who would be your second choice?" asked the Headmaster.
"Lauren Hatchell would be," she answered. "She's Muggle-born so she doesn't have the prejudices of Mr Freeman. But she has suffered from a fair amount of discrimination herself. It's not a good thing to be a muggle-born English witch here. She may not be as efficient as Mr Freeman but she's a very serious young woman."
"How good is she with research?" asked Harry. "I'm thinking that if she's not a good match for Percy, she may be a good match for Hermione."
"I think she's great at research," said Professor Murray with a smile. "Her papers do show it."
"I agree," said Professor Carlisle. "She's in my class, too, and her papers effectively do show it."
"What about you, gentlemen?" asked the Headmaster, turning to Professors Noël and Shield.
"I would agree to send Miss Hatchell," said Professor Noël.
"So would I," agreed Professor Shield.
"Then, this one is also settled," said the Headmaster, putting the pile of scroll aside and taking the next one. "Herbology?"
"I think, Headmaster, that we may want to have the opinion of Professor LaFeuille on this," suggested Professor Carlisle.
"I agree," said the Headmaster.
He called forth his Patronus and sent a message to Professor LaFeuille. A few minutes later, Professor LaFeuille joined them and they reviewed the eight applications.
"So, Professor LaFeuille, what do you think?"
"Louis Cloutier, Headmaster, definitely!" said Professor LaFeuille without hesitation. "He is by far the best and the most likely to pursue a career in Herbology. I think he would really enjoy and benefit from this opportunity."
"And I know he likes the outdoors a lot," said Professor Noël. "Every time we go out onto the grounds for class, he is more interested in the plants than what I teach," he added with an amused chuckle.
"Everybody agrees?" asked the Headmaster.
The other Head of Houses nodded their agreement.
"This definitely took a lot less time than I expected," said the Headmaster with a satisfied smile. "Maybe we could announce it sooner and have an information meeting with the selected students. I'm sure they will have a lot of questions."
"It may not be a bad idea," said Harry. "While we have notified our people that we committed them to help, I'd like to make sure the matches will work."
"How about tomorrow then?"
Everybody around the table smiled genuinely and nodded their approval.
"Tomorrow it will be."
"Dear students," said Headmaster Flynn, standing at the podium just before dinner the next day. "The internship committee has met last night and, since we already made our decision, we decided to announce our finalists tonight."
It was so quiet in the Great Hall that a fly could have been heard. Genna grabbed Audrey's hand nervously and glanced at Marcus who was sitting at the Air table. He grinned at her and showed her his crossed fingers.
"Don't worry," said Audrey, amused. "You'll get it."
"And the finalists are: for Herbology, from the Earth House, Louis Cloutier!" announced the Headmaster.
All of the students applauded enthusiastically, except the students who were not selected.
"For Healing: from the Air House, Marcus Tyler!"
Applauding as loud as the others, Genna looked at her boyfriend proudly.
"For Ministry Administration: from Water House, Lauren Hatchel!"
"Darn, didn't get it," said Audrey.
"It's next! It's next!" said Genna nervously while the other students applauded.
"And finally, for Defence: for Fire House, Geneviève Hudon!"
"Oh Merlin! Oh Merlin! Oh Merlin!" said Genna, not believing it. "I got picked!" she said, turning to Audrey. "I got picked!"
"Yes, you got picked!" said Audrey as excited.
"Congratulations to our winners," said the Headmaster, applauding with the rest.
Genna looked at Marcus who was grinning at her.
"I invite our winners to come to my office tonight at 7pm to meet with Mr and Mrs Potter," added the Headmaster. "Time to eat!"
"Audrey, both Marcus and I are going!" said Genna after a few minutes, as if she just realised it.
"That oughta be interesting," said Audrey. "Maybe, once you're there, you'll find a way or have a chance to take your relationship one step further," she added with a wink. "You could use a roll in the hay."
Genna turned so red she thought she would melt. She was still feeling warm when she made her way to the Headmaster's office that night. She was early but Marcus was already there waiting for her. He took her in his arms and kissed her deeply.
"Do you realise we're both going to England for the summer?" he said, putting his forehead against hers.
"Yes," she whispered, raising her face for him to kiss her again.
She let her crutches fall to the ground and put her arms around him, deepening the kiss. Somebody cleared his throat, effectively interrupting them. Genna turned her head to see Ginny and Harry who were grinning amused.
"I'm glad you're early," said Ginny. "We wanted to talk to you before we get up there."
Harry casted a Mufilato spell over all of them.
"Harry and I have decided to let you both stay at our house this summer," she announced. "Since you're both dating, and we do not know how... accepting your Professors are, we would like you not to bring up your housing arrangements while we're up there."
"Oh!" said Genna, and remembering what Audrey had said during dinner, she blushed furiously.
She looked up at Marcus to see that he was blushing also.
"Here, Genna," said Harry, giving her the crutches.
She picked them, mumbling a thank you, and they followed the Potters into the Headmaster's quarters.
"This particular lesson, I have taught at Hogwarts for the last few years," said Harry, talking to the Defence club the next day. "For me to teach this class, it has taken special dispensation from your Ministry of Magic as well as mine.
"Today, I will show you how to recognise the influence of the Imperius Curse."
Surprised, Genna looked at Marcus who was looking back at her.
"Did I hear right?" mumbled Mathiew under his breath.
"Yep, I think you did," answered Audrey.
"I think it's particularly important for students to know how it feels to be under the influence of the Imperius Curse. Had I not known myself, we may actually live in quite a different world right now," continued Harry with a smile. "So here is how this is going to work: First off, I will have you all sign the roster we have here," he said, showing a piece of parchment. "This is insurance to the school and the Ministry that you will not try to perform the spell on any other students while at school. If you would rather not sign, we would invite you to leave now.
"Let me remind you also that the Imperius Curse is an Unforgiveable Curse and therefore is illegal to perform, unless you have a special permission to do so. Do keep that in mind if you ever feel the need to curse someone after you graduated from school."
Harry's tone had become so severe, Genna had no doubt he was very serious about the matter. Harry gave a quill and the roster to the first person in the front and waited for every student to sign it before he continued.
"Now that you have signed, I will cast the curse on each and every one of you in turn and you will try to fight it off. It will be hard, very hard and I don't expect any of you to succeed but at least, you'll be able to recognise the feel of it which may give you a fighting chance if someone was ever to curse you with it."
Harry looked at everyone seriously and then walked to the front of the class, to the first person who had signed the roster.
"What is your name?" he asked the girl.
"Joanne, sir," she answered.
"And you are a sixth year, right?"
"Yes, sir," she answered.
"Okay Joanne, come here and stand in front of this blackboard," he directed.
Joanne stood up and did as she was told.
"Joanne, once I have thrown the curse on you, I will ask you to write lines, okay?"
She nodded, fearfully. Genna could very well relate to that fear. After all, none of them really knew what to expect.
"Ready?" asked Harry.
She girl nodded again.
"Imperio," murmured Harry. "Joanne, please write 'I am a rabbit' on the blackboard one hundred times."
A few nervous giggles could be heard from the class while the girl took the chalk and began to write as quickly as she could.
"Finite Incantatum," said Harry after about two minutes.
Joanne looked at the blackboard in surprise, then at Harry.
"I did that?" she asked.
"Yes," answered Harry. "How did you feel?"
"Like I was in a warm bed relaxing," she answered, as if ashamed.
"Unsettling feeling, isn't it?" asked Harry.
"Yes," answered Joanne with a small voice.
"You did well," encouraged Harry. "Remember that almost no-one can fight off the curse the first time around and most will never be able to do it."
The girl nodded and reclaimed her place on the floor.
Genna was the last of her friends to be called in front of the blackboard. Marcus, Audrey and Mathiew had all written lines and hadn't been able to kick the curse off.
"It felt so good," said Mathiew. "No wonder barely anyone can fight it. Who would want to?"
Genna took her place in front of the blackboard when she was called and took the chalk.
"Okay Genna, ready?" asked Harry.
She nodded, looking at the blackboard.
"Imperio," whispered Harry.
Genna felt a warm feeling wash over her. She felt like she was lying in a soft grass, in the middle of the field, warmed by the sun. She felt so comfortable and happy. But all of a sudden, she found herself looking at the blackboard, one line written on it. She frowned and looked at Harry.
"Eh... what happened?" she asked, puzzled. "Why did I write only one line?"
"How did you feel?" asked Harry, equally puzzled.
"I felt like I was lying in the sun," she answered. "Then it just went away."
"Did you try to fight it off?"
"No, not really," she answered. "Is that normal?"
By the way Harry looked at Ginny, Genna knew it wasn't normal and it worried her.
"Well, Genna, you're the first one here tonight who fought the curse! Congratulations!" said Harry with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
Genna tried to smile but couldn't quite hide her worry. She went to sit down and Harry called in the next student.
"What happened?" asked Marcus. "You looked worried."
"I didn't try to fight it," she said. "It just went away. Harry and Ginny looked pretty worried about it."
"Let's talk to them after class," suggested Marcus.
The other students were slowly trickling out when Genna and Marcus approached Harry.
"Mr Potter, why didn't I remain cursed?" asked Genna, after exchanging pleasantries. "Is it the first time you've see this?"
"Well, not exactly," he answered slowly. "The last time I saw something like this was at Hogwarts. There was a student over there I just couldn't curse."
While he wasn't saying more, Genna knew there were more to it.
"Mr Potter, why couldn't he be cursed?" asked Marcus.
"Because he was already under the Imperius Curse," answered Ginny, walking to them.
Genna gasped in horror.
"Am I – am I under the Imperius Curse?" she asked, fearful.
"No, Genna," answered Ginny, with a reassuring smile. "You, Harry can curse. The problem with you, if it's a problem at all, is that you don't remain cursed."
"Oh," said Genna, not really convinced.
"Don't worry about it," said Ginny, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "I would love to have your ability. I'm sure we can look into it when you get to Britain this summer."
Genna recognised a dismissal when she heard one. After a nod at Ginny, she followed Marcus out the door, worried there was something else wrong with her.