Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
Chapter 11 Trials and Tribulations
Harry couldn't help but feel a sense of dread as he sat down in Snape's class after breakfast. He kept a close eye on Snape but it seemed as if the Potions master felt he had done his duty to Dumbledore's curriculum and with some relief they returned to more typical lessons like shrinking solutions. Harry could hear Malfoy behind him.
"I've heard that if you add banana slug slime to it, it has a time delaying effect on anything you dip into it. So that after the potion dries, it will look perfectly normal and will shrink later. That's how they make shrinking keys."
The Slytherins leaned closer to Malfoy to hear him tell how to make Shrinking Keys and other forms of Muggle baiting. Derisive laughter floated up from Malfoy's direction. Snape continued his lecture, ignoring the conversation centered around Malfoy. Harry knew if he had been talking through one of Snape's lessons, he would have gotten a detention for sure. Snape was unfair, but that didn't mean he was a triple-crossing spy for Voldemort did it?
"Too bad this shrinking solution can't be used on that swelled head of yours, Potter," Snape sneered and the Slytherins laughed. "Of course your potions won't do much good if you don't grate your horseradish roots better than that."
It was probably just as well that the pungent roots were making him cough so he couldn't answer. Then Snape was distracted by a hissing sound coming from Neville's cauldron.
"No, no, Longbottom, I said to use only the right-handed sassafras leaves," Snape scolded.
All in all, Harry was glad to leave Snape's class but try as he might, he couldn't see any reason to accuse him of being a Death Eater.
McGonagall started her transfiguration class with a stern lecture on the dangers of human transformation. She warned them that she would take no fooling around and that if anyone were to be so foolish as to try something they might as well leave now and not come back. She glared at them all fiercely for a moment. No one made a sound. Then she cleared her throat and continued.
"Transmogrification is the process of turning a human into something else. A true transformation does not merely change the physical appearance of a thing but the thing itself. One reason human transmogrification is so difficult is that it requires an intimate knowledge of the human you are transforming. For many wizards and witches the only person they ever know well enough for that is themselves. Some do learn to be able, in time, to perform transformations on a very close friend or companion. It takes a very powerful wizard to be able to change someone not well known. There have been only a few sorcerers in the history of the world that have been powerful enough to transmogrify a complete stranger. I would advise you not to try. Most often nothing would happen but on occasion the results can be quite horrible."
The class stirred uneasily whispering to each other.
Ron leaned over to him and whispered, "Let's try it on Malfoy. That way if something goes wrong…well it would be a win-win situation wouldn't it?"
McGonagall rapped her wand on her desk for attention. "That is why most wizardly spells merely change the shape, size, color, smell, sound, feel, etc. of a thing rather than the nature of the thing itself."
She waved her wand and her ink bottle changed itself into a duck which flapped its wings and quacked loudly.
"It may look like a duck, quack like a duck, walk like a duck, smell like a duck, feel like a duck and taste like a duck, but it is still an ink pot. True transmogrification changes the essence of the thing itself."
Hermione raised her hand. The duck seemed to decide that McGonagall's desk was not the best place to be. It flopped off the edge and landed on the floor and began waddling toward the exit.
"Yes, Ms. Granger?" McGonagall called on Hermione.
"If it is just like a duck, why bother with a transmogrification spell?" Hermione like everyone else tracked the duck's progress down the aisle.
"Sometimes simply changing the appearance is not sufficient because there are certain spells that can't be done for one reason or another. It can be difficult to learn, or potion ingredients are unavailable, for instance. But one of the most obvious reasons is that a transformation spell, unlike a transmogrification spell is easily reversed."
She pointed her wand at the retreating duck just as it reached the doorway. There was a small puff of smoke and the duck reverted to being an ink bottle. Dean Thomas went over and picked it up and brought it to Professor McGonagall.
"Thank you," she said absently and put it back on her desk. "Because Transmogrification is difficult and I have no wish to have anyone in the hospital wing, you will only try those exercises that I assign and no others. Anyone who disobeys deserves what happens to them." She gave them all such a stern look that they squirmed a bit. "Any questions?"
No even Hermione had any.
"Now then, the first step is to see how well you know yourselves. She handed out a large packet of worksheets. When Harry got his, he could see it was covered front and back with questions.
"These questions will help you become more aware of yourself and who you are. They are all absolutely confidential, so answer them as best you can."
Some of the questions were quite easy such "What color is your hair?" and others that were harder such as "What is your third worst fault?"
Harry was tempted to give some of these a miss but he glanced up and saw McGonagall looking at him.
"You must answer each of the questions a fully as you can," she said. Harry gave a start. It was almost as if she could read his thoughts. He bent back over his work. By the time they had finished, Hermione had filled hers in with tiny writing and had resorted to using additional pages.
Then Professor McGonagall had them start on their first transmogrification spell. She passed out pairs of shears and set them to transmogrify their hair to make it longer.
Harry rolled his eyes upwards after his first attempt, trying to see if his hair had gotten any longer, but he couldn't see any appreciable difference.
"Is my hair any longer?" asked Ron.
"Uh maybe, I'm not sure although patches have turned green," Harry told him.
"Concentrate!" advised Professor McGonagall, "Think about who you are."
Hermione picked up her shears to trim her waist length hair so she could try again.
Eventually, class ended. Harry felt as worn out and ragged as his new hair cut. McGonagall handed out another large packet of questions about themselves for homework and dismissed them all except Neville so she could work on restoring his hair which was bald in spots.
After lunch they had Charms again with Professor Flitwick and even Hermione looked a bit tired.
"You know they really shouldn't be allowed to have double Transfiguration and double charms in the same day," said Ron wiping his sweaty face and fanning himself with a sheaf of parchment.
"We've got Defense Against the Dark Arts next," said Hermione, joining the students waiting outside the classroom door.
"What do you think the real Moody is going to be like?" asked Dean Thomas, remembering the exciting classes from the year before.
"Well, from what I can tell, he's even more paranoid than the imposter," said Harry.
Just then Ron elbowed him in the ribs and Harry looked up to see Moody's scarred face.
"Not only am I paranoid, Potter," he growled softly in his gravelly voice, "I'm also still alive. Which is
more than I can say for other contemporaries of my profession."
They gaped at him as he stumped his way to the door and unlocked it. Murmurs followed him inside as he make his way to the teacher's desk at the front of the room. They filed in and took their seats.
He glared around at them all but his magical eye continued to scan the room on its own, checking them out. The whispered murmurs of conversation dwindled under its disconcerting gaze.
Moody spoke distinctly into the silence, "You are all dead."
They goggled at him.
"Not one of you made even the slightest precaution when entering this room. You walked in totally oblivious to potential danger," he said disgustedly. "You've had four years of training and you would't even have lasted four seconds."
If you learn nothing else from my class, you will learn to be CONSTANTLY VIGILANT."
Hermione looked as if she was about to say something but closed her mouth when Ron elbowed her.
"From now on, when you enter my classroom you must be prepared to defend yourselves. For homework, in addition to anything else that might be assigned, you are to prepare a defense from possible attack when you enter the classroom."
Hermione raised her hand as the murmurs wafted around the room. "Please sir, defend ourselves against what?"
Professor Moody's face twisted into a sneer or at least Harry thought so, it was hard to tell.
"Do you expect a Death Eater to politely tell you how he or she is going to attack before he does so? Well I have news for you: They won't and neither will I. It is enough that you have been warned. From now on, you will be graded on whether you survive or not"
"Are you serious?" asked Seamus.
"Of course," said Moody and he looked so forbidding that no one felt inclined to say anything.
"I understand that you have a good grounding in dealing with hostile creatures and some basic knowledge of inimical curses. We will be expanding on that this year but mostly we will be concentrating on artifacts.
But before we get to that, Professor Dumbledore has requested that I teach lessons on trust. I have only one thing to say about trust: DON'T.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, please open your books to page seven. There you will find a list of the most common classifications of magical artifacts and their characteristics."
He bent and lifted a large box. Opening it, he revealed it to be filled with an amazing assortment of odds and ends. It looked like Moody had filled the box with stuff from Tremain's Treasures and Trash shop.
"In this box are a variety of artifacts. I want you to examine them and classify them as to function."
He handed out the contents of the box and Harry spent the rest of class trying to figure out what it was. It had been green but it was now an orange knobby thing about the size of a baseball. It seemed vaguely metallic and there was a groove running around it. It didn't seem to match any of the pictures or descriptions in the book. Eventually, when he had probed and prodded it in every way he could think of, he took out his wand and poked it gently. Instantly, the thing sprang open as if on a hinge and a cloud of orange dust enveloped him. He began sneezing violently.
"Well I see you have figured out how it works, Potter," said Moody, handing him a handkerchief, "But it would have been better to figure out what it was before triggering it. Use a bubble spell to trap the dust."
Harry tried but he was sneezing too hard to manage it and Hermione had to work the spell for him. Moody sent him outside to clear his head where Ron, Hermione found him after class. By dinner time his sneezing had subsided considerably but he was still sneezing sporadically when the team gathered for evening Quidditch practice.
Although no one said anything about promises made the night before, they practiced their drills with more determination than they had last practice. When it was too dark to see anymore, they held a strategy session and after coming up with variations on some of their plays, they looked more confident.
"At least if we can't beat the, we'll give them a run for their money," said Fred.
Harry sneezed and his glasses flew off. He hoped he looked more convinced of victory than he felt.
"I think we already did," answered George, bending down to help Harry look for his glasses.
After practice Harry returned to join Ron and Hermione in the common room to work on their homework. The common room was often noisy but the students gathered in clumps. It seemed everyone was discussing either the Quidditch situation or Professor Moody's class.
The Gryffindor fifth years told themselves that they would do better next time and spent a considerable amount of time thinking of what sort of attacks they might have to contend with. Harry, who had gotten a reputation for escaping traps and plots of evil wizards was approached by eager students but he had no better idea than they did about what Moody might have waiting for them. Besides, he was busy with Quidditch. When the enthusiastic Creevy brothers tried to pin him down, refusing to believe that Harry didn't know what Moody was planning, Harry referred them to Ron. He pointed out that Ron had been in almost as many tight spots as he and if it wasn't for Ron he never would have managed.
After that Ron complained that he was being pestered to death but Harry could tell that Ron wasn't as displeased as he let on. For years Ron had been overshadowed by his older brothers so that even though he knew full well that Harry got plenty of misery from his publicity, he couldn't help but feel a bit resentful of all the attention Harry got just by being there. Harry on the other hand was thoroughly sick of it and was only too glad to let Ron field annoying questions for a while.
The next time they entered Moody's class room, they found themselves suddenly mired as if in invisible molasses so thick Harry couldn't even move his wand arm. Moody limped toward him and gently taped them with his wand. A black dot appeared where the wand had touched. Harry could only assume the wand had put a black spot on him a well.
"You area all dead," Moody informed them and limped back toward the front of the room. He waved his wand, releasing the spell and told them to take their seats. "It looks like you all failed the quiz. Unlike real life, you will be given another chance next class. Do better."
It was a measure of how much Hermione wanted to help, that she took notes for Harry in Professor Bin's class while Harry read "Plays and Ploys". Professor Bins seemed oblivious that Harry was reading from the book in his lap, but then again he was used to his students gazing obliviously at him. He droned on and on about magical historical contracts regardless of the glazed eyes of his audience.
After lunch, Harry again had a blank parchment when Madam Trelawney asked them to take out their dreams diaries and analyze them. Around them Harry could hear excited babble as pairs of students found portents in each other's dreams. Madam Trelawney drifted over to their table trailing filmy scarves but her expression looked considerably less dreamy than usual. She looked at them with disapproval when she saw that Harry's parchment was blank.
"I'm sorry," Harry told her, "I guess I'm still not remembering any dreams."
She looked at him suspiciously through her own owlish glasses.
"It does not do to hide what is coming," she intoned.
Harry just shrugged, "Maybe I'm just not dreaming."
"Well perhaps, we can gain insight from looking into the dreams of someone near you. I believe Ron Weasley is a close companion with whom you share many activities and encounters. Perhaps, by reading his dreams, we will find clues to your fate as well as his."
Ron continued rummaging in his book bag even more frantically and at last admitted, "I think you were right about my losing something. I can't find my homework."
Professor Trelawney frowned.
"I'm afraid I lost my quill too," said Ron.
Trelawney looked even less pleased. All in all, they were glad to leave her stifling room and her disapproving glare.
They packed up their bags as quickly as possible but still barely made it to their next class in time. It was a long way from the top of the north tower to Hagrid's hut. The others were already gawking around the immense cage. Hagrid beamed with delight as they ran up.
"Seein' how well y'did with the skrewts, I knew y'd like t' try somewhat more advanced."
There was a blood curdling shriek and Harry had an impression of flashing talons and buffeting feathers.
There was an answering shriek from Pansy Parkenson as she flung herself backwards away from the bars.
Hagrid rushed forward. "I tol' you to stand back! They haven't had a chance t' settle in yet. The ladies are a mite nervous."
"Potter," drawled Malfoy, "Hagrid's found a date for you."
Pansy Parkenson guffawed loudly and Harry felt his cheeks flush.
Hagid gave Pansy a hand up but his attention was on the occupants of the cage. Harry couldn't tell how many there were for all the wild flapping of feathers and raucous screeching. There racket was so loud that it took Harry a moment to realize that interspaced between the cacophony were words. They were difficult to make out…standing behind Ron, he could see Ron's ears go pink and a moment later he realized that whatever was in the cage was creaming in the most vile language.
Hagrid bellowed some insults back at them and they settled back into perches. Now Harry could see they looked sort of like colossal vultures with huge black pinions and cruel beaks and talons. But despite of the beak there was something very odd about the head. One of them turned, giving Harry a good view of its profile. Yes, the head had a human shape and the feathers on the back were almost like dirty straggly hair. The neck was long and scrawny but it attacked to the chest that – well Harry could see why Hagrid referred to them as ladies. Whatever they were, they were definitely female.
Hagrid turned back to the class and grinned with boyish excitement.
"Hagrid, what are those?" asked Ron.
"I would think y' might know, being a Quidditch fan, an' all, but I suppose y' don't follow the Holyhead Harpies team. Their mascot is the harpy.
"Those are harpies?" asked Hermione incredulously.
"Yep," Hagrid beamed proudly, misinterpreting disgust for interest. "We're real lucky to have gotten them. The Committee of Magical Games usually doesn't let anyone but the team keep mascots, but they signed a special waver because Professor Dumbledore agreed to keep them locked up during their visit. So, no matter how tempting it might be, y' can't let them out."
"I'll just have to resist temptation," said Malfoy.
Hagrid completely missed the sarcasm. "They're only on loan to us anyway. The Holyhead Harpies keeps a colony and it has gotten a bit large so they were willing to loan us some for a while."
"Well that's good news. At least we know they'll only be here temporarily," Ron said in an undertone.
"Now they're still settling in from their trip and are probably feelin' home sick for their colony, so today we must do what we can to make them feel comfortable. If we're lucky, we'll get t' feed 'em."
"We better break out the best china," said Malfoy and Crabbe and Goyle snickered.
"Now," said Hagrid, "They usually live in large colonies and so have to compete for the best perches, food, an' stuff so they are probably missing the noises of home. I want you to talk to them so they'll feel better," Hagrid explained.
Harry was wondering just what one was supposed to say to a large foul-smelling, foul-mouthed, foul-tempered bird when Hagrid went on to explain that since they usually screeched at one another, as they vied for the best nest sites, they should take turns doing that.
"Uh Hagrid, we'll get detentions if we use language like that," Hermione pointed out.
Hagrid looked abashed. He obviously hadn't considered this problem. "Well," he said at last, "Y' don' have t' swear, jus' yell some insults."
Hagrid turned back to the cage and hollered at the occupants, "Move over you mangy, ugly, sissies, I want the best perch!"
They responded with a blast of screeches that fortunately made most of the words unintelligible.
"See? They respect those who defend their position most forcefully and elegantly," said Hagrid pleasantly.
Elegant was not the term that came to mind. One by one, they took turns screaming insults at the Harpies.
Harry felt a bit sorry for Neville, who was very inhibited at shouting rude things at anybody. Hagrid was trying to give him some pointers. The Harpy turned around and deposited a blob of guano to let Neville know what it thought of his paltry insults.
Malfoy sniggered and his side kicks echoed it. This just flustered Neville even more, so that he seemed unable to say anything. Hagrid bent down and tried to encourage him.
Malfoy winked at Crabbe and Goyle and motioned toward the cage. They began to edge toward it. Harry followed, sure they were up to something.
"Uh what are we doing?" asked Goyle as Malfoy surreptitiously took something out of his robes.
"Let's get some on the lock," explained Malfoy looking around. Harry hastily turned his head as if he had been watching Neville all along.
"Why?" asked Goyle?" Malfoy looked exasperated.
"It's some of the shrinking solution from Snape's class. I put in enough banana slug slime to give about a six-hour delay. By then we'll be long gone, so everyone will think Hagrid let them loose."
Malfoy's henchmen chuckled, "Uh, why would we want to let the harpies loose?" Crabbe asked.
"Because," Draco said tightly, "Hagrid will get in trouble for it and maybe they will have to fire him and because Dumbledore signed for them, the Department of Magical Games is going to be upset with Dumbledore. I don't think they would actually fire him, but there's always hope."
Harry moved to follow but the crowd of students was blocking his way. He took out his wand and got ready to curse Malfoy when suddenly he felt something grab him from behind. Goyle had his meaty hooks on him. Harry turned his wand to Goyle. Goyle toppled as Harry's Jelly Legs Curse took effect, pulling Harry down with him. Harry struggled to free himself knowing he would be too late.
"Ron!" he yelled, "Stop Malfoy."
Goyle clapped a hand over Harry's mouth. Harry twisted and pulled on Goyle's arm and squirmed to free himself. He saw Ron use a levitation spell to lift the bottle right out of Malfoy's grasp. The bottle tilted, dumping its contents onto Malfoy's robes.
Malfoy swore so emphatically that all three harpies responded by screeching invectives and flinging filth at him.
"That's it!" said Hagrid warmly, "That's the right idea," he hesitated. "But bearing in mind the school rules about the use of bad language, maybe you should be a bit more circumspect."
Then he noticed Ron and Harry both with their wands out and Goyle trying to get to his feet with wobbly legs.
"I sure hope you weren't using your wands on anyone. I would hate to have to give you a detention…"
Harry was about to explain what Malfoy was doing but changed his mind. As much fun as it would be to get Malfoy in trouble, he would also get a detention for cursing another student and right now he couldn't afford to get a detention and miss Quidditch practice.
He and Malfoy glared at each other but there wasn't anything either of them could do without getting detentions and they were both in the same situation as far as that went. At last Harry shrugged and said he had just tripped. Hagrid glared at Malfoy suspiciously but dismissed the class after giving them a reading assignment about Harpy etiquette for tomorrow's lesson.
That evening Harry came back from Quidditch practice and flopped down in the spot Seamus made for him on the couch.
"Have you gotten your astronomy calculations done yet?" asked Ron.
Harry had forgotten. They had class tonight.
Hermione looked up from her place at a table littered with books and charts, "I thought you had gotten that done already."
"Well we started it, but we didn't but we didn't exactly finish it. I don't expect you could let us have a peek at the answer do you?"
"No, I could not," she said testily. Then she relented. "Let me see what you've got so far and I'll see what I can do."
Hermione would not of course, give them the answers but she did help them find their errors so eventually they all were able to chart the moonrise and moonset times for the month.
Although Harry usually enjoyed the midnight stargazing classes with Professor Sinister, Harry was so wrapped up in thinking about Quidditch that all he could think about was how he needed this time to sleep so that he would be rested for another dawn Quidditch practice. Ron too, was distracted. Tryouts were set for Friday afternoon and although he didn't want to admit it, Harry could tell he was worried that Tenobia would beat him out.
When Professor Sinister asked a question on moon set, Ron turned to his chart and without thinking, illuminated his wand so he could see better. Immediately, there were cries of protest and disgust as the bright beam of light destroyed their night vision.
The astronomy teacher blew out an impatient breath and said, "Well guess we won't be looking at any faint objects tonight. We might as well make observations on the Triangle and calibrate our instruments. I want a cross check with Deneb, Actarus, and Rigel as well as three other bright stars of your choice."
There were some muffled grumbles as they started on the tedious chore, using their wands to make minute adjustments. Ron apologized but Harry could see that he was getting more and more anxious.
All though History of Magic the next day, he kept passing notes to Harry and it was only Professor Bins' single-minded concentration on his lecture that kept them from being caught.
Afterwards in Herbology, he only stopped asking Harry about his chances of getting on the team when Professor Sprout set them to working on hushpuffs. These sensitive plants had bulbous pods which would burst at the slightest provocation. They had to wear masks and work in total silence so as not to set them off. It was somewhat of a relief when Professor Spout motioned them to tiptoe out of the greenhouse.
After lunch they reported to Hagrid's hut and spent the time feeding the harpies. Hagrid had them start by flapping their arms and squawking. Malfoy didn't hesitate to tell them how stupid they looked. To tell the truth, the harpies didn't look particularly impressed by their display either. Hagrid then brought out two huge pails that seemed to be filled with bloody chunks of raw meat and entrails.
"Now you can't just give it to them. You have to convince them that you want it instead. If you don't, they might not consider the food you offer valuable enough. It's a status thing. It tastes better if someone else wants it," Hagrid explained.
He had them pretend to squabble over some of the choicer entrails before they threw it into the cage to the screeching harpies. The way the pecked and slashed at each other, and fought over bits of intestine, Harry wasn't entirely convinced that it would have made any difference if they had yelled at each other first or simply dumped the buckets directly into the cage. Hagrid gazed fondly at his charges. He seemed totally oblivious to the disgusted looks on the students' faces.
By evening, Ron's nervousness had communicated itself to Harry and long after Ron said, "Well I getter go to bed and get a good night's sleep and all that," and went upstairs Harry found himself pacing the floor in front of the common room fire.
The look Ron gave him as he went up the stairs said it all. Ron was counting on their friendship to get him on the team. Harry had watched anxiously during evening practice as both Ron and Tenobia took turns swatting at the Quaffle. Every time Ron had a turn Harry was reassured that Ron would win the place on the team, but when Tenobia had a turn, Harry couldn't dispel the doubts. The truth was, they were both fairly evenly matched. Ron was counting on his friendship with Harry and having brothers on the team to pull him through.
As Tenobia left the field she didn't say anything, but glared at the way Ron gave Harry a friendly back slap. She looked Harry straight in the eye with a direct gaze that made him feel guilty.
"A fair chance. You gave your word," she reminded him.
He took comfort in the fact that Madam Hooch would be handling tryouts. Even so he could see that he was likely to have someone mad at him. Besides it wasn't as if being on the team was going to be such an honor. Whoever lost was only just saving themselves from being a slave to Slytherin for a week. Harry almost wished he could quit the team to avoid that fate himself.
The clock struck midnight when he heard footsteps on the stairs. At the first glimpse of red hair, Harry thought it was Ron coming down to try and get him to promise him the position but then he saw that it was Ginny.
"Oh, hi Ginny. What are you doing up?" he asked.
"I saw the light on and thought it might be Ron," she said.
"Oh. And are you going to ask me to make sure Ron gets on the team too?" he asked hesitantly.
She looked at him for a while, her face practically expressionless. Then she sat in one of the armchairs and watched the flames for a while.
"Ron really cares about getting on the team," she said at last. "It's really important to him."
Harry nodded, "I know. I hope he makes it."
"But you're afraid he won't?" she asked.
Harry shrugged, "I don't know. It looks about 50=50 to me. It's just that…"
"You're afraid that if Ron doesn't get on the team, it will be the end of your friendship."
"Yeah," said Harry and resumed pacing again. "The thing of it is…Ron really is my friend. Not just a casual acquaintance but the type of friendship that goes way beyond that. I mean could trust Ron with my life." Harry signed again. "Ron would trust me with his life."
"On the other hand, a wizard's word is not casually given. A wizard who breaks his word might as well kiss his career goodbye," she looked at him sideways for a moment. "Do you know why?"
"Because no one trusts him anymore?" Harry guessed.
"Partly. But mostly, because one of the chief ways a wizard works his spells is through the use of words and making his magic flow through those words to make whatever he says happen. A wizard who knows his words are no good cannot make his magic flow through them and his spells are no longer effective."
"How do you know that?" asked Harry.
"My Mum and Dad told me," she said. "When I was little, they caught me fibbing about stealing cookies even though the jar tattled on me. I thought I was going to be punished, but instead they sat me down and tried to make me understand."
Then the same quirky smile Ron made when he was embarrassed appeared. "Though at the time, the only thing I could understand was that I had better put a stronger curse on the jar so I wouldn't get caught the next time. It didn't help; I got caught the very next day." She laughed softly at the memory, "but I never lied about it again."
Harry thought about it. Most of the wizards he thought of as powerful, did seem to be honest with themselves. Even Voldemort, who was as evil as they come, seemed to tell what he believed was the truth. And Lockhart, who had gained his reputation through taking claim for other people's work and lying, his spells always seemed to backfire. Dumbledore could always be counted on to give an honest answer, was the most powerful wizard in his generation.
"So you think that if Ron doesn't make the team, there are some things more important than friendship?" Harry asked.
She shook her head, "All I'm saying it that if Ron doesn't make the team, he will understand. Well, probably not right away, but he will calm down even if it takes a while and he will understand, eventually, I hope. And so will Tenobia if she doesn't make the team, if it's an honest decision."
"I hope you are right. Just the same, I'm glad Madam Hooch is overseeing the tryouts," Harry said staring moodily into the glowing coals of the fire until he began to yawn. "I think I'll turn in now."
Harry rose to his feet, stretched and headed for the stairs.
Ginny, also yawning, shuffled toward the girl's dormitories, "Good night."
Thanks," Harry told her, feeling suddenly awkward.
"No problem and good luck."
The next morning, Harry actually managed to avoid another death mark from Moody though through no
credit of his own. A flying net whirled toward them as they cautiously entered the classroom and Neville in his excitement, tripped and knocked Harry over so that the net passed over his head. Harry scrambled to safety under the nearest desk as the net tightened around the rest of the class reducing them to a bunch of squirming arms and legs.
Moody stumped across the room and touched his wand to each student's face before waving his wand and releasing them. They fell in a tumbled heap. Moody regarded Harry, who was still taking shelter under the desk with his good eye while the other watched the rest of the class disentangle themselves. Then without saying anything he stumped back to the front of the room and began the lesson.
By the third Divinations class, when Harry was still turning in blank parchments, Professor Trelawney began to lose patience.
"But you can't still not have had any dreams," she protested.
"Sorry," said Harry meekly, "I just don't remember any."
"Are you sure you are doing the meditation exercises properly?" she asked suspiciously.
"Oh yes," said Harry. Professor Trelawney had made Harry practice every night. I think I'm just too tired to dream."
"Nonsense," said the divination's professor, "Everyone dreams. It is part of the mystery of how the human mind works. If you have been using the meditation techniques you should have remembered at least something."
"I'm sorry, professor. I used the techniques but really I don't remember anything. Maybe I can just practice interpreting other people's dreams," said Harry hopefully.
But Professor Trelawney wasn't satisfied. Harry very strongly suspected that the whole reason the class was studying dreams in the first place was the peculiar incident that had happened last year. She leaned forward so that her glasses magnified her eyes and rubbed her hands, making her look more like a bejeweled preying mantis than ever.
"You are holding back, Potter," her voice seemed to have lost its usual mistiness. "There are serious consequences for a student that lies to a teacher at Hogwarts."
Ron came to Harry's rescue. "He's not lying, Professor, I swear."
Professor Trelawney blinked and then turned toward Ron, her bracelets dangling softly in the firelight. "And how could you know that? Have you looked into Potter's head while he sleeps?"
Lavender Brown covered her mouth and tittered.
"Of course I can't," replied Ron with righteous anger. "I know Harry hasn't had any dreams because he has a dream catcher."
A look of triumph and anger warred with each other on Sybil Trelawney's face. "A dream catcher! Surely you would know you are not allowed to use such a dangerous device to deliberately thwart my class. Conniving to get out of doing homework!" Her thin frame seemed to loom menacingly.
"Please, Professor," said Harry, "Professor Dumbledore said I should use it."
That seemed to stop her in her tracks. "Professor Dumbledore said you should use it?"
Well at least he knew about it, which wasn't exactly the same thing. "I got a letter from him over the summer."
"You mean you've been using it since then?" she asked incredulously, "Prolonged use is very unhealthy."
Harry was growing a bit more uneasy. He was not sure if this was another one of Professor Trelawney's morbid predictions or not.
"I will speak to the headmaster about this," she said not at all like her usual misty voice. She kept eyeing him in a disconcerting way for the rest of the class.
During Herbology, Harry could almost visibly see Ron's tension mounting. Harry tried to reassure him by telling him that waiting was the worst part. Hermione kept urging him to go to see Madam Pomfrey about his stomach which was being affected by nerves. But this wasn't much of a help because Ron was scheduled to see Madam Pomfrey for a physical before tryouts anyway and he wasn't going to admit to a stomachache for a cauldron of galleons. He was so distracted that he grafted a cactus to his robes.
Professor Sprout eventually gave him some dragonmint leaves which soothed his stomach and sent him for his physical before it wore off.
That afternoon Madam Hooch watched Ron and Tenobia fly around the pitch demonstrating their abilities to catch and block Quaffles, hit Bludgers and use a broomstick. Harry watched them, grateful that the decision would be made by Madam Hooch and not by him. At last she called them to ground.
"Wait over there," she indicated that they should take a seat in the stands. Then she waved Harry and the rest of the team over. They assembled about her impatiently.
"Well?" asked Harry breaking the suspense, "Who's going to be the new Keeper?"
Madam Hooch looked at him quizzically. "That's for you to decide, Potter."
Harry goggled at her, stunned.
Madam Hooch looked annoyed. "Come now, surely you knew?" I test all potential Quidditch players to make sure they have the basic skills, just as Madam Pomfrey checked them out to see if they were up for the rigors of the game. The team decides who is to join out of the candidates I approve of. Of course there usually is a clear winner after I put them through their paces. In cases like this, it is up to the team. The team captain makes the final decision."
Madam Hooch waved her wand and the brooms picked themselves up and began herding the Bludgers and Quaffle back into the box. Madam Hooch then strapped down the Bludgers still trying to make a break for it, locked the box and gathered up the brooms. She left the field and Harry who was still vainly trying to gather his wits. Harry looked around at his teammates.
"Well they are both pretty good,' said Angelina hesitantly.
"You know how we feel," said Fred. "Ron's our brother."
"But we'll still support whatever decision you make," said George.
"Of course, both of them were using school brooms. It might be different if they were riding their own brooms," Katie said.
Yeah, though Harry to himself. Nobody was going to say it but Ron wasn't going to be able to afford a decent broom and Tenobia probably was.
"Tenobia might be the better overall player, perhaps but I think Ron might have the edge on blocking the Quaffle," said Alicia.
"You're the captain, we'll go with whoever you say," said Angelina glancing toward Fred.
Harry looked over to where Ron and Tenobia were waiting. He could tell they were looking at him even
if they were too far away to see their expression. Now Harry wished with all his heart that he had turned down the captaincy. Then someone else could decide. He had promised Tenobia a fair chance but Ron was his friend.
"You better decide now," said Angelina, "There's not much time. Whoever you pick is going to have only two weeks to learn all our old moves, much less the new ones."
"Ron, you're the new Gryffindor Keeper," Harry announced. An expression of joy, relief, and wonder lit Ron's face. He raised both fists in the air and whooped as his brothers pounded him on the back.
"Welcome to the team."
"Tenobia…" Harry began.
Tenobia on the other hand glared furiously. Harry hadn't been expecting her to be pleased but he was unprepared for the explosion of profanity that burst from the innocent looking girl. She stamped her feet, flinging her pigtails about in rage.
"I knew it! I knew it!" she screamed, "You told me I had a fair chance, but all along you were just playing with me. Having a bit of fun with the new kid."
She flung the Shooting Star she was holding to the ground so hard it bounced up to head-height and fled the field.
Harry and the others stared after her with open mouths, momentarily stunned by the shear vindictiveness and invectiveness of the outburst. Harry instinctively caught the Shooting Star on its way down.
He glanced at the others and shrugged, "I guess I had better talk to her." He mounted the broom and sped after her.
She had almost reached the castle by the time Harry caught up with her. He moved to cut her off from the doors. She glared at him. Her face was red. She wiped angrily at the tears that leaked down her face and turned to the castle wall.
"Go away!" she snarled.
"Tenobia," Harry called, "Wait. I need to talk to you."
She came to place where the castle wall jutted out again. Harry moved to block her again.
Finding herself trapped she yelled at Harry "Just leave me alone!"
"Tenobia, please, listen to me," Harry urged. He let the broom drop until his toes were trailing in the weeds, but didn't dismount in case she bolted again. His shoes brushed the weeds as he drifted closer.
Tenobia turned and glared at him as if her gaze alone could turn him to stone like a basilisk.
"You told me. You told me I had a fair chance of making the team. And all the time you were just stringing me along. You picked Ron Weasley because his brothers are on the team and he's your friend," she shouted.
"Yeah," said Harry frankly, "In part."
Tenobia stood stock-still and goggled at him as if she were the one who had been turned to stone. She obviously expected Harry was going to deny the charges. Harry suppressed the urge to smile. He reminded himself that it wasn't funny, really. It was just that she looked like a furious kitten that had gotten a bucket of water dumped on its head.
"But not for the reasons you think," Harry hastily went on before she could recover. "It's a matter of time. Our first game is in two weeks and with sharing practice time with the Slytherins, it is really more like one week. That's not enough time to teach someone to learn our old plays, much less work on new ones for the game.
Ron's been playing with his brothers practically all his life and the rest of us have been together as a team for over four years. Ron couldn't help but learn something about how we work together when he was practicing with his brothers this summer. Maybe if we had the usual month or more, things would have been different. But don't you see, we've got to have someone who's already familiar with the way the team plays."
Tenobia still looked as if she could chew rocks but at least she was listening.
"You said it yourself; it's not very likely that I'm going to catch the Snitch. The only chance we've got is if we can score enough points so that it doesn't matter if Malfoy gets the Snitch or not. The only way that's going to happen is if we work together like a team with precision maneuvers and a flexible strategy that is only possible when the team members know each other well enough to anticipate what they need to do."
Tenobia didn't say anything for a long while but at lat she nodded reluctantly. "Well, at least my Mum will be happy," she said, trying rather unsuccessfully to hide her disappointment.
"Your mother doesn't want you to play Quidditch?" Harry asked. It seemed like every witch and wizard he met was crazy about Quidditch.
"On account of her Da. To everyone else he was this famous daring Quidditch star, but to her he was her father. Quidditch kept him away from her a lot and when he was finally killed, even though it was in vacation in Greece, well, let's just say she never attended a game since. If it wasn't for my Da's old mates, I never would have gotten on a broomstick. I used to have to sneak out to see them. Well eventually my mother found out."
She gave a short bark of laugher. "Let's just say it wasn't a pretty sight and leave it at that. To make a long story short, eventually she agreed to let me play as long as I didn't try any of the really dangerous things my grandfather was famous for. Mom still wasn't happy about it, but I wasn't going to let it stop me." She lifted her chin defiantly as if daring him to forbid her to play.
Well at least she was talking and not screaming. Harry decided it was better to keep it that way.
"I know what you mean. I grew up with Muggles who hate magic and anything to do with it utterly. They wouldn't even let me say the word 'magic'. I used to have to wait until they were asleep to do my homework."
"I wasn't going to let them stand in my way," she said as if agreeing with him. "I thought that I was going to win a place on the team through my own skills. And to think I could have had a place on the team if I had just told everyone who was grandfather was," she said bitterly, angrily dashing tears from her flaming cheeks.
"Your grandfather?" Harry asked trying to suppress his annoyance. He was probably some important big shot who pushed his big name around to get to what he wanted.
She used a few more colorful invectives that colored Harry's cheeks.
"You really say what's on your mind, no matter who it is," said Harry awkwardly. He thought about how she had stood up to Malfoy that first practice session. "I don't know of any other first year that would have stood up to a fifth year and a Quidditch captain at that."
She kicked a clump of grass. "Well I just can't stand it when people think that they're so great just because of what their bloodline is. That Draco and his cronies. They are so smug, going around thinking they are so great because of who their dad and mum are. It really burns me up."
"Yeah, well just the same, you'd better watch what you say. Some of the professors are likely to take a pretty dim view of foul language. Except for Hagrid's harpies, I guess," Harry warned.
"Well where I come from you have to talk tough or they'll just stomp all over you," she said.
"Where do you come from?" asked Harry.
She shrugged. "Here and there. I did a lot of moving around. When you are always the new kid on the block, you have to let everyone know right away that you're not an easy mark."
"You mentioned your grandfather, what does your grandfather have to do with your getting on the Quidditch team?"
"My full name is Tenobia Llewelyn Wells. The middle name is my grandfather's surname," she said it as if dropping a small bomb.
Harry looked at her, waiting. She sighed with exasperation. "His name is Llewelyn….as in Dai Llewelyn."
The name clicked. Harry remembered reading about him in "Quidditch through the Ages" and "He Flew like a Madman". 'Dangerous Dai Llewelyn' was arguably the best Seeker of all time. No wonder she had such a low opinion of his Quidditch skills. His grip slipped on the broomstick and his feet thumped onto the lawn.
"Now don't you go all goggled-eyed on me," she said. "I thought you of all people would understand that being famous isn't everything – or having famous parents or grandparents either."
"Sorry." Harry apologized.
"All my life I keep hearing stories about how great my grandfather was, but to me he was just Da Dai who'd toss me into the air and tickle me.
A lot of people used to look down on my mum and me because she married a Muggle. My dad died when I was young –Mum won't talk about it- so I barely remember him. But I do remember hearing people saying that it served Mum right for marrying a Muggle. Mum was furious. She packed up and we never saw most of my relatives and friends again. We couldn't go to my dad's relatives, of course. Apparently my father had burnt a few bridges when he married Mum and they thought of Mum about the same way my mother's relatives thought about them."
My mother had to make her own way and it wasn't easy with a kid in tow. I don't know what we would have done if it weren't for Da Dai. He didn't give a hoot mon what anyone said and he helped us out. But he moved around a lot and that meant so did we. If it wasn't for Da Da, there's no way Mum would have been able to send me to Hogwarts."
Harry was thinking, no wonder she went around as if she had a chip on her shoulder.
"Oh hey, don't tell anyone about who my da was will you? For the first time since Harry had met her she seemed nervous. He could understand; if there was any way he could have made everyone forget his famous scar he would have jumped at it.
"Don't worry. That's your business as far as I'm concerned. Besides Ron may be Keeper but I didn't say you weren't on the team," Harry went on before she added anything more.
"I think Ron has the edge in playing Keeper, but you are probably the better all-around player. You could probably play any position if you had to. That will make you the ideal person to have around as a substitute. We've had problems before; injuries and stuff and we realized that we really need to have someone as a back-up. In fact one of the players told us she was going to need someone later in the year. You will also have first pick of most of the positions you want to play next year. That is if you will join us. But for now I think we should keep it under wraps so that you don't have to worry about scrubbing Slytherin's common room."
Tenobia's face positively lit up. Her smile seemed almost too big for her face. For once she seemed to be at a loss for words. She thrust out her hand and Harry shook it.