A/N.: Hi everyone!! Sorry it’s been a while but aí didn’t want to write something just to post fast. I waited for the inspiration to come so that I could write something I would enjoy and, hopefully, you too. Thanks for reading and please tell me what you think. I hope I didn’t mess up the Quidditch part, it’s new territory to me. Enjoy!!
Song for this chapter: Capital Letters by Hailey Steinfield
- So, class, today I’m gonna give you the first assignment of the year! – professor Thomas says enthusiastically as he seats in his table.
It was Monday again in the middle of November and professor Thomas had just finished talking about the main destinations of the wizards escaping Great Britain in the Second Wizarding War.
- I want you to understand the War in a more practical way, I want you to learn of the varying points of view of what the people went trough. So, I will ask you to write about someone that lived through the last War. It could be anyone. Could be someone who was at Hogwarts, who was at the battle, or the owner of a shop in Diagon Alley. Your choice. It isn’t hard to find, we aren’t such an old generation.
Hailey Wilson raised her hand:
- Professor, how long does the essay have to be?
- Oh, no Miss. Wilson. This doesn’t have to be an essay exactly. You can make what you want. An interview, a research... or an essay if you want. But no limit length. I just want you to learn from this. How, is your choice. I want you to hand them in two weeks after break.
Everyone groaned. Our first assignment for Christmas break.
- I know you just want to rest over break – Professor Thomas laughed – but I promise you this could be very interesting and enlightening.
We left the class talking about the assignment. Even though it would cut through our free time it was exciting. Anna wanted to talk to Professor Longbottom and was already telling us her plan of writing it in form of a tale from his point of view.
- And you, James, are you talking with your dad? – I ask him.
He looks at me with his eyebrows raised and surprised eyes as the rest of the group goes silent and looks at our direction.
To be fair, these last weeks after Halloween I hadn’t spoken more than the necessary to James. My disappointment at the party was still on my mind and I just couldn’t seem to act normally around him. Noticing the change, he chose to keep his distance too.
However, in the last few days I decided it was time to get my shit together and start acting again as a true friend, not a stranger.
As I kept staring at him, waiting for his response, he says:
- No, that would be too cliched. I’m going to ask my aunt Luna. She is awesome!
- And you, Fred? – Zoe questions – Anyone in your family?
- Nah, I’m with Jamie. Everybody will be expecting that. Besides, the whole world knows our family’s history. Nothing new about that. I think I’ll talk to someone who escaped the country.
I could see the boys’ point. Nothing unusual in seeing a story about Harry Potter. Though I’ve always thought those interviews with him during the years lacked a lot. It seemed they were more interested in trivial or obvious things. I had a mind full of ideas for an interview with him and if I were James, would certainly do my work about Mr. Potter.
As it was I had to speak to another member of the Potter family about another assignment. I was more acutely aware than I should that Albus hadn’t set a meeting with me for a while now. Of course, he was right in that we needed to continue researching before having anything to talk about. But, without our meetings, there just seemed to be something lacking in my routine. Like even the company of my great friends and the rush of playing Quidditch didn’t compare to the looks we gave each other during meals, as if we were in on an inside joke. Or the confident “Hey, Parker” accompained by the occasional wink when he passed me through the corridors. It gave me a warmth in the stomach and made me see potential in everything. Gave me a new confidence in my step and made me want to be that much nicer to everyone.
Albus Potter gave me excitement. He was unpredictable and for someone who had known the same group of friends for seven years that was something totally new. That much I could admit to myself.
So, when I thought of a new idea for our project I wasn’t sure if my excitement was more due to academic reasons or the prospect of talking to him again.
- Why are you smiling? – asks Zoe, laughing.
It was Friday night and we were spending it studying since the Newts reality was finally catching up with us. The girls didn’t know anything of my interactions with Al, I just gave them the basics, and his Ipod was still safely kept in my truck.I only listened to it with my curtains closed. Even though I trusted the girls with everything, Al was my friend now too and I respected his privacy. He showed me a gesture of trust by giving me his Ipod, so the least I could do was show him the same.
- Just thinking about Christmas break.
- Oh yeah. – Anna takes her eyes from her book for the first time during the last two hours – We’re still spending it together, right?
Christmas break with the girls was an annual tradition. It started in first year. The boys decided to go home and spend the holidays together.
Us girls thought: Why don’t we do our own thing then? And that’s how we always spend our break together. We actually go to our own houses. But we arrange to spend a few days in each one. Even our parents have the occasional dinner together. A muggleborn, a half-blood and pureblood households in the space of two weeks certainly makes for an interesting time and the fact that this works so well is a vivid evidence of the changes brought by the end of the war.
- Of course we are!! – I answer Anna
– Who has the first turn?
- Me!! – my blonde friend says, raising her hand as if she was answering a question in class – My dad just bought a new videogame and I’m crazy to show you!
- What game? – Zoe asks, never understanding our muggle references.
Our studies are put aside as we spend the rest of the night explaining the world of videogames to our pureblood friend.
The next morning, after Quidditch practice, my Ancient Runes project popped into my head. James had just given us our “motivational” speech for the first match of the season against Ravenclaw.
- So just to be clear again! I don’t care if it is only the first match! You better play it as if it were the finals! Give your all on that pitch this weekend. Anything otherwise is unacceptable! You all have potential to win this. AND YOU WILL SHOW IT ON THAT PITCH EVEN IF I HAVE TO DRAG IT OUT OF YOU.
Little Riley Chambers was almost in tears. She was clearly not acostumed to James’ captain tactics.
Lack of encouragement aside, James’ speech did remind me of the upcoming game, and also, a potential way to meet Al. I’d been thinking that, since I would be arranging our study session this time, it had to be on the same level of my Slytherin partner. The match on Saturday gave me a good idea to make it an interesting one.
With that in mind, I used the only subject we do together to pass him a note, after strategically seating next to him.
I think I’ve made some progress at our project.
While I continued pretending to write, I feel something touch my arm.
We should set a meeting then.
His handwriting is sharp, sophisticated. I scribble my answer rapidly.
After the game Saturday. Meet me outside the lockers. But only if you wear red.
I watch him scan the words, the corners of his mouth turning up.
When he hands me his note, I try not to act too eager as I unfold the little piece of parchment.
Really? We’ll see, Parker. I only support the winning team.
The week of classes rushed by, right to Saturday. The game was to take place in the late afternoon when the harsh rain falling since dawn was to take a break.
I was with the team in the locker rooms listening to James’ trusting voice, calling us to get in line. The time to be strict had already passed.
Our captain would be the first out, followed by the rest of us chasers, beaters, keeper and rearing the line, the new seeker.
The noise of the crowd rang loud in my ears and my stomach was taken by butterflies. It made me very nervous and, even so, I looked forward to this moment. It was a rush of adrenaline in my veins and the noise of all the support in the stands made me feel powerful.
- The Gryffindor Team is composed by the talented: ... James Potter! ...
Freddie’s voice made me jump and my teammates started flying out. When it came my turn, my braided hair rushed through the wind. An explosion of color took my eyes, the green of the pitch, the yet grey sky and the stands filled with blue and red.
I stand in my designated position as the captains shake hands. James suddenly isn’t paying much attention, though, giving a smile to Sophia Lauren, the opposing team’s seeker.
The game begins and, our captain, as the central chaser, grabs the Quaffle. I’m already positioning myself in front of Eva Chang, one of the Ravenclaw seekers, and receive the red ball on perfect timing. I send it to James again, who fakes a shot, but passes to Mike. Our third chaser has the left hoop free and easily scores our first goal.
In terms of intensity the game is catching fire, though by the score you wouldn’t know it. Both Keepers are excellent and, apart from that first goal, us chasers have to work a lot to pass the Quaffle through the hoops. Besides, everyone has to be aware of the Bludgers thrown by the Beaters. Even though Victor Acres, our new Beater chosen after our interrupted tryouts, has just started this season, him and Zoe have an amazing chemistry on the pitch and have a bit of an edge on the Ravenclaw talented duo.
That’s why, after almost two hours of playing, we have the little advantage of twenty points as the game stands 100-80, Gryffindor. Jake has just defended another goal and passes the Quaffle to Mike. I escape the Ravenclaw marking and position myself near the hoops. Mike throws the Quaffle in an arch and I fly higher to catch it. Just when I start to the hoops, a Bludger comes in my direction. By reflex only, I turn on my broom and stay upside down as the Bludger passes by. I can only see the sky and hear the crowd’s cheer. My legs contract as they force me upwards. I only have time to avoid the Ravenclaw Chaser and continue downwards as I launch the Quaffle straight through the right hoop on my way. It’s my fourth goal of the game and I feel incredible.
Scamander, the Ravenclaw chaser, has just started another play when we hear Freddie yelling enthusiastically at the sighting of the Snitch. I only have time to turn my head as Riley lifts her fist in the air, golden wings fluttering in her hand to the joy of the red crowd. Our whole team converges on her and we turn into a mass of sweaty bodies and jubilant smiles.
The pitch is empty as I’m changing at the lockers. The rest of the team decided to head straight to the Gryffindor Common Romm where a victory party was sure to have started already. I declined their invitations, thinking of my set up meeting with a certain Potter.
He’d better show up or I’ll just be the idiot who refused a party to stay alone in an empty pitch.
But as I go outside to the dark night, I realized there was no reason to worry in the first place. Standing with a sly smile on his lips and a Gryffindor scarf on his neck was Albus Potter.
- You are wearing red after all! – I say and don’t even try to hide my smile.
He makes a very elegant Gryffindor with a black overcoat beneath his scarf (which probably was borrowed from James or, more likely, his sister), dark jeans and black boots. His hair is even messier than usual and shines in the moonlight, matching his enchanting green eyes.
I’m glad I brought one of my best clothes with me: my red overcoat, black leggings and boots.
Albus runs a hand through his hair, something I’ve seen both him and James do a lot:
- I told you, darling. I only root for the winning team.
- Well, you should have a bit more faith in my abilities then.
- I never doubted your abilities, Emma. – he turns serious.
And then breaks it with: – It’s your teammates I don’t believe in.
- Alright, Albus. – I change the subject, because, honestly I don’t know what to do when he compliments me like that. – Since you kept your end of the deal and is wearing red, let’s start our meeting.
- Lead the way, Parker. – he smiles.
I take my bag and lead him to the middle of the stands. There, I take out our materials and lay a blanket down for us to seat, but just as I do, I want to slap myself. It’s freezing cold.
- Maybe we should just go inside. I didn’t think things through, it’s freezing cold out here...
I stop as I see a light and Albus is actually holding a blue fire on his hands.
- Al, what’s that?
- It’s magical. It won’t burn us. We can just leave it here.
- Of course. It is my meeting and you still are way ahead of me. – I say, half serious.
- This is just a detail, Emma. Your idea of a meeting in a Quidditch pitch is way cooler than mine. At least it doesn’t look like a cheesy date.
I laugh, and encouraged by him, go on with my plan.
The little elf appears in front of us.
- Hi, mistress Emma. Hi, master Albus.
- No need to call us that, Scamp, really. – I say – Can you bring us what we agreed on?
- Yes, miss.
One pop later and he brought us a bit of everything that is on tonight’s feast, along with some hot chocolates, of course.
- I’m impressed. – Albus says, smiling genuinely – So, we’re having a picnic here?
- That’s only the first part, my friend. – I say, containing my excitement.
We stuff ourselves full of the delicious food and start to get into the real reason of this meeting, which I had almost forgotten.
- Al, I think I know what we can do for the project!
- There’s this song I’ve been listening to, which, when I translated to Runes, I realized it has the same structure as the Babbity Rabbit tale.
He just looks at me, amused.
- I’m serious. – I laugh – Listen.
I handed him his IPod, which was still with me, and admittedly, which I was too attached to.
After he stayed listening, I handed him my notes.
- Emma, that’s amazing!! – he said after a while – Comparing these two texts would make an Outstanding worthy project!
I nod, enthusiastically.
- I already had the tale translated from class last year, and when I started translating the song, I remembered it. But I only did the first few verses to see if it matches.
- Well, let’s translate the rest then. And we can start thinking of how we will do the analysis later.
So, we spend the next two hours immersed in work but satisfied we’re heading somewhere. When my hand starts aching from writing I suggest we take a break.
- Tell me about it. – agreed Al – I’ve written seven essays already, just this week.
- Wait until you get to Newts year. – I respond – Professor Thomas has already passed an assignment for the holidays.
- Yeah, but History II is very interesting, don’t you think?
- It is! – I admit – But I have no idea what to do with this one.
- What’s it about?
- We have to pick anyone who participated in the Second Wizarding War and write about their experiences, but I just don’t know who to talk to. If I were James, I don’t care, I’d totally do an interview with your father. I know it’s been done several times but you just gotta ask the right questions, things I can’t believe people have asked yet.
Albus just listens to me with a thoughtful look on his face. He finally asks:
- You’d really like to interview my dad?
- Yeah, sure. I mean, first I thought of it as a crazy thing. But at the same time I don’t have any other ideas there just seems to come loads of hypothetical questions I would ask him. – I laugh – Those rags that interview him don’t do him justice. And please, Al, don’t come to me with that famous dad complex. Your father has done incredible things.
- I know. – he says – I love my dad, Emma. The fame and attention I don’t like has nothing to do with him as far as I’m concerned.
- Good. – I say a bit shocked.
From all the prejudices I had with Albus, it seems I hadn’t let go of one yet. The one in which he had the rebel son attitude who couldn’t accept his father’s fame. I was roundly wrong. And that knowledge brought a warm feeling inside me and a soft smile on my face.
He seems amused, again, at my tone and says, somewhat tentatively:
- You know, my dad doesn’t particularly like to give interviews, but I think, if I talked to him, he would accept to be interviewed by you.
- What?! – I say, and I’m so surprised by his suggestion, it seems I sounded offended because Albus starts immediately justifying himself:
- I mean, cause you said you wanted to and I thought...
- No, Albus. I mean, it would be amazing but I really don’t wanna bother your dad. And besides, how would I meet him before the break?
- I thought, actually that you could, you know, spend Christmas Eve at my house. We have this whole party, you know, all the family. And us kids are always allowed to bring a friend.
I’d never seen Albus Potter look so nervous. Actually, I’d never seen him nervous before. His hand was running through his hair and he was looking anywhere but at me. And if it weren’t for the light of the blue fire I bet there would be a blush coloring his cheeks. I stay silent processing the information, so he says:
- If you want, of course. It’s just an idea.
I understood the practical aspect of it, of course. But I still couldn’t believe he was inviting me to spend Christmas at his house. When Albus said they could bring a friend, it really is just one friend. James and Freddie told us how the holiday festivities worked.
Christmas Eve was always spent at the Potter cottage and Boxing Day at the Burrow. The whole family got together. And the family is huge. That’s why the kids could only bring one person to the holiday parties. James always invited Jake and Freddie invited Ben, a Ravenclaw friend whose parents were always traveling and would otherwise have to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. And that’s why us girls always agreed to do something together.
- But, Al. I know you can only invite one person. James told me. Why would you want to spend it with me, then?
He looked me in the eyes, like it was obvious.
- We’re friends, aren’t we? I’d love to have you there.
My insides warmed up at the sincerity in his brilliant green eyes and I suddenly wanted very much to go.
- Al, I feel honored really. But your parents barely know me. And I don’t want to intrude.
He shook his head.
- You wouldn’t be intruding, Emma. There’s so many people there, they wouldn’t know the difference.
I laugh and push his shoulder, something I notice I, wouldn’t be doing if we weren’t really friends.
- Alright, Al.
He gives me one of his perfect smiles.
- But – I interrupt – you’ve got to ask your parents first.
- Ok, ok, No problem. – he says.
- And I’ll ask mine. Then we’ll see.
- As you wish, Miss Parker. – he looks at me in such an endearing way, I turn my head so he won’t see my smile. I clear my throat.
- So, are you ready?
- Hmm? – He murmurs distracted, still looking at me.
- You don’t really think I took us out here just to eat? I thought you were smarter than that, Albus Potter. – I tease him.
- Well, Emma, it’s always a surprise with you.
I laugh a little, trying to diffuse that part of his eyes which show me clear seriousness. As strange as it seems, I turned into quite the expert at reading Albus Potter’s eyes.
With a flick of my wand, two brooms are rushing to my hand. Al looks at them, shocked.
- Is this what I think it is? Emma Parker wants to, not only break curfew, but spend it flying outside?
- What can I say? I’ve acquired some bad influences lately. Besides, we can’t waste such a beautiful night.
- Are you really sure of this? – in a strange act of obedience, Albus sounds surprisingly hesitant at breaking the rules. Oh no, it’s my turn now and we are doing it.
- I understand your hesitation, Potter. It is challenging, at least, to keep up with the best Gryffindor Chaser. Still, I’m not going easy on you.
With that, I mount my broom in record time, trying to convince him as much as myself.
I rush in full speed, leave the Quidditch Pitch and suddenly, I’m already in the boundaries of Hagrid’s House, and any doubt I had is far away from my mind. There’s a huge difference in flying in a limited space like the Quidditch Pitch and flying freely in the night’s sky. That difference is something akin to freedom and adrenaline.
I look behind me and see Al, a few meters away, his black hair almost blends with the night sky and what points me to his presence are his shining green eyes, looking determinedly at me.
Turning to the front, I’m faced with the view of the Forbidden Forest, a mass of dark trees and unknown territory. Normal me would just turn around and stay clear from it. But this new daring me wanted to go ahead, take that step and get out of my comfort zone.
That’s why five seconds later, I was flying through a maze of trees, my Quidditch abilities being fully appreciated as I dodge leaf after leaf, stump after stump. A smile stretched my face and I knew Albus was still following me cause I could hear him yelling through his laughter.
- Emma... What are you doing?... You know where we are right?!
Suddenly he reached me and we were in a magical game of catch through and ancient forest, with just the light of the moon. I wasn’t completely reckless. I did stick to the edge of the trees. Still, it was exhilarating.
- Wait! – Al had stopped and signaled me to do the same. He huffed, out of breath:
- As fantastic as this is, and even though I love to see this rule breaker side of you, I think we should stop. I’m pretty sure I heard some centaurs roaming these areas and they’re not very fond of company.
I was still laughing and catching my breath, but I agreed with Al instantly. As much as I was loving this, archery with centaurs wasn’t part of the fun.
When we got out of the forest, Al and I were still exchanging smiles, his eyes were looking at me in a way that made me glad I decided to be a little daring for once.
I was starting to hover down when Albus called me:
- Wait, Emma! There’s something else we need to do, flying brooms in a beautiful night like this.
- More than flying through the Forbidden Forest?
- True. Maybe it will be just as great.
- What are you talk.. – But Albus was already going full speed towards the lake. As I watched it, he made a plane flight, just above the lake. His feet touched its surface and formed a blade of water following his wake. It was beautiful.
- C’mon!! – he shouted. And I went.
I could barely feel the cold water touching my feet, just droplets of water tickling my face in a delicious way. Some of them got in my mouth, which I just noticed was stretched in a smile again. We were in the perfect angle to see the stunning castle of Hogwarts in front of us, windows shining where candles were still on. The light of the moon reflected the lake and If I paid attention I could hear Al’s laughter. I myself was restraining myself from yelling, not exactly worried about any detentions we would get if someone caught us, but not wanting this moment to end. In the spirit of my new “relaxed” attitude of the night, I opened my arms and held my broom just with my legs.
Albus chose that moment to turn around, his feet leaving the water so I could see him. His hair was windblown in an adorable way which showed more of his face, the white of his teeth standing out. And, though it was too dark to see, I knew the corners of his eyes were wrinkled like they always got whith his most truthful and open smiles. He turned back again and I got the beautiful image of him flying with Hogwarts on the landscape ahead.
The way I was feeling told me, this was a moment worthy of producing a Patronus.
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