I wrote these one-shots mostly for my own entertainment. But I'm uploading them so that maybe someone else can enjoy them as well.
Reviews are appreciated, but not required.
Summary: James isn't as bright as Lily, nor is he as talented as athletic Albus. But he is certainly the oldest, and he gets to do everything first. Hopefully that means he will be the first of his siblings to make it onto the house Quidditch team.
James S. Potter-
"I don't understand why you didn't try out last year, mate."
The willowy, dark haired fourteen year old shrugged, his brand new broom bouncing over his shoulder.
"Didn't feel right trying out for Beater. Now that Marty's left I think I can make Chaser."
"I dunno," James's best friend Ian Hooper mumbled from beside him. "Lenns and Fisher are pretty damn good and it'll be rough for them getting along with anyone but old Marty,"
James hated talking with Ian about trials. He was little help when discussing strategies and he was even worse at boosting someone's confidence. But unfortunately for James, Ian was the only friend he had that was more than willing to wake up and painstakingly walk down to the pitch every morning at five with him. It was almost thirty minutes past the hour and Ian was really shooting down his friend's last bit of spirit. The two hadn't even left the castle doors yet.
The pair of them lapsed into silence as they passed the Entrance Hall. James had let the conversation stymie mostly because his stomach had twisted itself into a painful knot. Trials for the Gryffindor House team were set for that very afternoon. Many of his extended family members were already playing for their respective house teams, or had played in the past, or even at least tried out for a spot. From what James had always been told, his father had been an incredible Seeker. And his own mother had played as a Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies for nearly eight years. It certainly didn't help that his little brother Al was so excellent on a broomstick. He could easily win the Seeker spot for Slytherin once Marie Higgs moved on in two years. Hell, James knew that given the opportunity they wouldn't even hold any trials. Albus would just bloody inherit a seat on the team.
The pitch was coated that morning in a heavy layer of autumn dew. The grass was damp and it was slightly muddy beneath the two teenager's shoes. Above them, a dusky purple sky was lit from behind with yellow sunlight. The whole place was empty with a slight chill running through the stands. A shiver that had little to do with the temperature crept up James's backbone.
"You look constipated. Just relax and get focused," Ian's voice barked through the chilly air.
James sharply inhaled, his lungs expanded bitterly in the cold. "Yeah…right,"
The boy mounted his new broom, a re-vamped Nimbus model very similar to the one his dad had received as a gift his first year at Hogwarts.
James took flight from the center of the field. Once he had a bit of distance between himself and the grass, Ian rose beneath him while holding the red Quaffle. He was riding one of the school's creaky old brooms.
"Ready, Potter?" Ian called from below.
The dark haired teen gave a curt, determined nod. The spherical orb soared up into his sweaty palms as Ian flew off to the left side goal posts. He didn't make a bad pseudo-Keeper, or at the very least, he was better at blocking shots than he was at boosting egos. James scored twice at the start but then he fouled up his next three attempts. Dread and concern burned its way up into his throat until he could barely swallow. How did little Albus make everything look so easy on a broom, as if he had no nerves to fry? James would have rather eaten dinner with a rabid Hippogriff before he'd ask his little brother for his advice on sport, but with the way he was playing he probably could have used the help.
"I can't do this…I can't Hooper, I'm going to make an idiot out of myself,"
"No, just stop second guessing yourself. That's how I'm blocking you. I can see what you want to do exactly before you do it. In Quidditch you just follow your first instinct," Ian shouted from the third hoop.
James sighed and rose above the grass again, doing a few trick moves as if he were interacting with opposing Chasers. Then he aimed towards Ian, his left arm rising and then feinting to a different direction. The trick worked and the red ball soared past Ian before he could reach the goal post.
"Brilliant, mate. You know you only have to make the most or do all five to really get them to consider you," Ian flew beside his friend, handing him the Quaffle.
The taller boy took it and sat it between his legs as they hovered on their brooms above the ground. "I remember." James checked his watch and was shocked to see that it was nearly daybreak.
"We missed breakfast again didn't we?" Ian asked mournfully and then groaned when the other boy nodded. "Lovely, I'm starving."
"Nah. Don't worry about it. You should be worried about your tactics. If it comes down between you and some other fool you better believe Shannon is going to be looking at style and form."
A whole new ball of fear exploded inside James's stomach. "I wonder how many people are coming to trials."
The two teenagers only had to wait until noon to find that out. James hadn't eaten much during lunchtime. He felt too nauseous and the feeling only increased when he went back to the pitch with Ian. There were only about a handful of students dressed in Quidditch garb, about seven of them had gathered around the field near Gryffindor captain Bertram Shannon. James was more shaken up about the amount of spectators in the stands. Students from not just his own house, but each of them in turn had a few students watching, laughing, and talking amongst each other. Ian prodded his shoulder hard.
"You have your own fan base, over there,"
James's eyes followed where his friend was pointing a gloved finger. A group of people, most of them with hair in varying shades of red, were seated together near the front. There was Rose and Hugo, wearing matching red and gold scarves, Uncle Percy's oldest Lucy was looking out on the field, sizing up James's competition, fourth year Roxanne was explaining to first year Fred the aspects of trials using exaggerated hand gestures, and finally near the rear Albus was sitting between the two blond Scamander twins, Lorcan and Lysander. His cousin Molly, who was a current member of the team, came rushing over once she spotted James entering the field.
"Not a bad turn out, eh? Bertie knows already who he's considering though,"
"What?" James blurted out. "Who?"
"Why you of course," Molly rolled her eyes. "He's been anxious to see if it's in your blood. Of course, Leo Therber might give you a bit of trouble. He's not the best scorer, but he's fast and strong."
The three of them looked at the largest contestant on the pitch. His robes were tight across his muscular chest, and his thick brow and sharp blue eyes were filled with brutal determination.
"Merlin, what is he, twenty-five?" Ian asked incredulously. James's intestines squirmed in silent agreement.
Molly frowned at the pair's reactions. "Jamsie, you'll do fine. I know you-, I play against you every summer at Grandmum's house. Just relax and let your natural born instinct do the work."
With a clap on the shoulder, Molly left their side to return to her teammates. James reluctantly left Ian, who went over to join the group in the stands, while he took a spot near the other nervous students. It was decided that out of seven, Therber would be third and James would be fourth. The captain Bert Shannon was a tall, dark seventh year with pale green eyes and a loud, commanding voice. James had known him for a few years of course, but he never looked more intimidating than in his scarlet and gold robes, with leather braces on his thick arms and a metal C pinned over his chest.
"Right, you lot," Shannon spoke over the chatter, which died out instantly. "I want to see your best and you only get one shot at this, so make it count. We need to replace Martin- and fast. We lost the cup last year to Ravenclaw, and I don't want to see that happen again," His bird-like gaze seemed to penetrate each and every one of them. "Do you all understand? Anyone wanna back out?"
Not a single one of the seven moved.
"All right then. Howell, you're up first,"
Nicole Howell, a mousy fifth year girl with blonde hair, seemed surprised and suddenly frightened, as if she hadn't meant to try out in the first place. She got in two out of five shots and the last one she accidentally sent flying right into the Keeper's nose.
"Turner! Quit that bleeding, would you?" Shannon called from the ground. "Okay, Quigley you're up next,"
The second year boy managed one more shot than Nicole, but nearly fell off his own broom while trying to throw the Quaffle. Shannon looked a bit exasperated, but his expression turned to intrigue when the massive Therber rose into the air. Keeper Turner seemed to be bracing himself by the goal posts, which he hadn't needed to do for the first of the two. The sixth year wonder made all five of the shots. He was the first of them to receive a loud round of applause from spectators. Only he really didn't seem to notice or care. He just lowered himself to the ground and dismounted as if he did this every day.
"Potter! Get on with it," Shannon called out loudly, fervently writing down notes on a clipboard.
James jumped as his name was called. His friends and family began to cheer from the stands. The group had grown a bit; he could see his dorm mates sitting with Ian. A bit of pride swelled in James's chest, holding off his nerves as he mounted his Nimbus and took to the air. Turner was bracing for his shots, his eyes watching for the sign of a familiar scoring tactic. It pleased James that the Keeper was just as mindful of him as he had been for Therber. But it also meant that he really needed to make all five shots really count. The first one was simple. James pulled exactly the same move he had used on Ian that morning. He swerved to the right before using his long reach to score to the left of Turner.
"Nice one!" Molly shouted from below. His cheering section seconded her with applause.
For the second shot, Turner seemed more prepared. Instead of faking, James flew back around in a circle, gaining hard momentum before scoring again. The cheers were more intense for that tricky goal. The third and fourth shots had been a rough throw and a near miss. James felt his heart sink slightly, for Therber could throw a lot harder than he could. The fifth shot was brilliant, even in his own eyes. Turner had never even seen that he feinted. James returned to the ground hearing mostly applause from the stands, but a few jeers as well. Shannon clapped his shoulder and congratulated his efforts, as he had done with each of them. He was a pretty nice captain when he wasn't screaming orders.
After James, a pretty girl named Rachelle made four shots, and all of them were damn near perfect. Two lesser trials followed her; a boy who missed two and a young third year with poor aim.
"Right, so I know who I'm considering, so Potter and Therber- you can stay, the rest of you-, better luck next time."
Nicole burst into tears and had to have Molly take her back to changing rooms. It was just as his cousin had said; Shannon was considering the two of them and nobody else. The tall, muscular seventh year looked them both over while cross examining his notes on the clipboard. Molly returned and sent James a bright smile that he only weakly reciprocated. It was really something to have so many people believe in him, but it also meant that he had a lot more people to disappoint, including himself.
"Potter…welcome to the team, mate. I like your style, and plus you're young enough to train and keep around. That's what we need. All right, Therber?"
The older, larger boy shrugged beside James and then shook his hand. "You're the boss, Bert."
Bertram shook Therber's hand as well, grinning and then raised James's hand quickly for the people in stands. Instantly, his friends and family members rose to their feet and cheered. A bubble of happiness, pride, and a bit of shock swallowed the dark haired teen whole. Ian rushed the field and shook his friend's hands.
"Brilliant, I told you, you'd do great,"
"You were amazing, Jamsie," Molly wrapped her arms around his shoulders, Rose hugged him as well.
James kept smiling until his jaw was sore. He couldn't wait to write his father, even though he wished he could tell him in person. It would amaze James to one day see his own name in the trophy cases, his years of play listed in the school's register for the rest of eternity. Despite many things being destroyed during the battle against Voldemort, his father's name and other Quidditch memorabilia were still inside the castle's trophy room. It wasn't just tradition and pride James felt for his family, but for the first time, he truly felt proud of himself. He wasn't an expert flyer like Albus, or sharper than a tack like his kid sister, but he was the first of his siblings to make the team. And that victory was sweet enough on its own.