The Sugar Quill
Author: GryffinMiraur (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Talent  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

“At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in,” said Hermione, “They got in on pure talent

 

 

Disclaimer: I’m merely borrowing J.K. Rowling’s lovely creation. No profit is being made, but enjoyment is encouraged.

 

A/N: An enormous thank you to Zsenya for beta-reading and wading through comma errors.

 

 

Talent

 

“At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in,” said Hermione, “They got in on pure talent.”

The pale boy’s face twisted. “No one asked your opinion,” he paused as if to give his words greater effect, “You filthy little Mudblood.”

Alicia didn’t know the Slytherin’s name and at that point, she couldn’t have cared less. She could feel a white-hot rage wash over her and she would cheerfully have torn out his vocal cords with a boathook to prevent him ever saying such a word again. Instead, she settled for shrieking “How dare you!” as someone held the twins back.

Ron yelled something and a light shot out of the wrong end of his wand. A small first year with a camera pushed his way past her to see what was happening. Ron turned a sickly shade and, in a moment, a slug dribbled out of his mouth.

As Harry, Ron and Hermione hurried past her, Alicia felt her anger dissipate while the hurt that the word “Mudblood” caused remained.

“Alicia?” Angelina tapped her on the shoulder, “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” she tightened her grip on her Cleansweep, “I was just remembering.”

“Ah, that prat Waters no doubt” said Katie. “Thank goodness she transferred off to Beauxbatons.”

 “Yes,” Alicia nodded as the memories flooded back.

 

The wizarding world was completely new and fascinated her to no end. Going to buy supplies in Diagon Alley had been one of the most exciting experiences in Alicia Spinnet’s nearly eleven-year life, and now, at Hogwarts, her fascination with everything had earned her the alliterative nickname of “The Gawking Gryffindor.”

When she read the notice that all the first years were to learn to fly, she was thrilled. Flying. She was going to fly. Of course, as everyone said, the downside was that they would be learning with the Slytherins, but Alicia didn’t care. The prospect of flying was too exciting. All she was thinking about was the owl she would send home to her parents and her parents’ reactions.

When she received a return owl, she discovered that her prediction of her parents’ reactions had been spot on.

 Dear Alicia,

      Well, dear, I understand your excitement, but don’t you think it will be rather dangerous? You could be killed. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to come home and go to a normal school without broomsticks and cockroaches? I’ve asked your father to write but he, of course, doesn’t agree with a word I say as you can see below.

Hey, princess, don’t listen to your mum. I’m glad to see you’re taking plenty of risks. That’s the mark of a true Spinnet. Wish I could fly on a broom too. I’ve been doing some reading on the subject, you know, from the books we got in a Diagon Alley and I hope your teacher instructs you on Quidditch. It sounds better than football. Will wants to add something

Licia, you’re going to fly? You mean like Peter Pan? Good luck

                                                                Love from

                                                                      Mum, Dad and Will

           

            Just as Hermione Granger would do a few years later, Alicia bored all her classmates stupid with flying tips from Quidditch Through The Ages until Fred Weasley used the Levitating Charm to forcibly remove the book from her hands. This resulted in a furious chase around the Gryffindor table with the pursuer and pursued ending up in helpless laughter without the slightest clue of why the chase had occurred in the first place.

By that time, they all had to rush down to the pitch where Madam Hooch had laid the brooms out in neat lines. Alicia could barely keep her feet from doing a little dance of excitement. Her fellow Gryffindors looked at her strangely but with affectionate amusement.

“Oh, honestly, Alicia,” said Angelina Johnson, “It’s just a broomstick, not dragon gold.”

“And it’s not even a good broomstick,” she added, “It’s a Shooting Star.”

“Well, you already know how to fly, you’ve been on broomsticks before, of course you think it’s boring”

“Flying is boring,” Angelina agreed, “but Quidditch isn’t”

Alicia had heard the term around as well as in her letter from her parents so she knew it was a wizarding sport played on broomsticks but that was about as far as her knowledge went. She couldn’t wait to find out what the game consisted of and how it was played.

“I’m going to be a Chaser,” said Angelina with such conviction that Alicia knew she would most assuredly be one.

Before she had a chance to ask what a Chaser was, however, Madam Hooch strode briskly onto the field.

“Well, what are you all waiting for? Stick your right hand over the brooms and say up!”

A small Slytherin raised a tentative hand.

“Yes, Mr. Higgs?”

“I’m left-handed, ma’am”

“Then, use your left hand, boy. Don’t you have enough sense to figure that out yourself?”

After the fifth try, Alicia’s broom shot into her hand, and instinctively, she knew she was going to love flying. Her feet could no longer restrain themselves and did an ecstatic little jig which earned her a sharp reprimand from Madam Hooch.

“Miss Spinnet, this is not your Irish dancing class. Stop that immediately.”

Alicia meekly obeyed and listened to Madam Hooch’s next instructions about hovering. Hovering seemed to go on forever. Alicia wanted to fly.

Finally, Madam Hooch announced that for the last fifteen minutes of the period, they were allowed to practice flying freely. Alicia kicked off from the ground and found herself in paradise as her broom soared into the air. She loved the feeling of the wind whipping past her ears and through her hair. She loved seeing the castle from above and she loved the speed. She was flying.

She’d been born to do this. It was no accident that her first signs of magic had been related to flying. After seeing Peter Pan, she’d tried thinking lovely thoughts and to her great surprise had ended up floating next to the ceiling fan. As she remembered this, she giggled and began to sing “Look at me, way up high, suddenly, here am I, I’m fly- y-y –ing!”

Angelina, who was flying next to her, shook her head. Alicia stopped singing to explain.

“It’s a Muggle song from a Muggle musical,” and she resumed her singing until Angelina informed her that she sang like an Augurey which resulted in a furious broomstick chase and many thrown pine needles.

“Still,” Angelina said between gales of laughter, “it’s a good thing you like flying. Wait till you see your first Quidditch match.”

“Hey,” she grinned as an idea seemed to hit her, “You may sing like an Augurey, Alicia, but you fly like a Chaser. Let’s make a pact. At some point, we’ll Chase together and we’ll be the best bloody Chasers that ever were.”

“All right” said Alicia placing her hand over Angelina’s outstretched one, “Even though I have no idea what a Chaser is.”

Although during the first match of the season, Gryffindor was trounced, Alicia decided that Angelina was right. She did want to be a Chaser. The Seeker might be the key to the game but the Chasers were the backbone. She also loved the looks of the bright red cheerful Quaffle.

Angelina nudged her, “Hey, now you know what a Chaser is, you still in?”

Alicia grinned back, “More than ever. Next year we’ll start our career as the best Chasers.”

Corinne Waters, another girl in their year, sneered at her, “A Mudblood like you, a Chaser? You’d fall off your broom before it got off the ground.”

Alicia had never heard the word before but she knew it was most assuredly an insult.

“At least I know the difference between asphodel and ginger,” she snapped back, referring to the potion which Corinne had created that had turned her hair purple for a week instead of changing her eye color as it was meant to. However, the shock and anger on Angelina’s face when Corinne had spoken made it clear that Mudblood was more than an insult. She had instantly snapped out a retort in Alicia’s defense.

Later, in the common room, Alicia asked Angelina what the word meant.

 “Some wizards, stupid ones really, think that purebloods, you know, all wizard families are superior and that anyone with mixed blood or Muggle and wizard blood is inferior” Angelina explained, “So, they think it’s dirty blood which is where you get the term Mudblood.”

“Oh,” Alicia said understanding and feeling both angry and hurt. The term Mudblood wasn’t just an insult. It was a slur.

“Don’t think about it” said Angelina. “Waters is an idiot. Some of the best Chasers to play for England came out of Muggle families. Anyway, she’s just jealous because she can’t fly any more than a cow can. Still in for the Best Chasers Union?”

Alicia nodded, “Of course.”

If anything, the insult had made her more determined. By the end of the year, she and Angelina were fast friends and their ambitions as far as Chasing went had deepened to playing together at the World Cup.

By their second year, Alicia had almost forgotten that the term existed until she tried out for the Quidditch team. There was unfortunately, one opening for a Chaser as only one had graduated the year before. However, it was a mark of Alicia and Angelina’s friendship that they had all agreed that whoever did not make it would support the one who did.

The third chaser was Corinne Waters’ older sister, Anna. The new captain, Oliver Wood, glanced over the assembled second years as did Anna. Her eyes flickered over to Alicia and contempt was quite clearly spread over her face.

“Ah, it’s been centuries since we had a Muggle-born on the team. Of course, the last time we had a Muggle-born on the team, we were completely defeated. I suppose, blood does show.”

Which was almost tantamount to calling her a Mudblood again. Alicia gripped her broom tightly and willed herself not to respond. If it had not been for Oliver Wood, Alicia might have lost her cool.

“The Holyhead Harpies’ Seeker is Muggle-born and according to Quidditch Weekly, she’s the best Seeker they’ve had since the 16th century. It’s not blood, Waters, it’s a question of talent.”

This statement said in Wood’s thick Scottish accent seemed to take on even more emphasis. Alicia glanced at her friend who gave her an equally reassuring look.

By the finish of tryouts, Alicia was convinced that under a captain like Oliver Wood, if Gryffindor didn’t win, they would almost certainly die trying. She stood with the others waiting to hear the results.

 It was, unfortunately, Anna Waters who delivered the news.

“While all of you played quite well, one of you played magnificently and so our new Chaser is officially Angelina Johnson.”

Alicia, however, did not miss the rather sanctimonious little smirk that flashed over Anna’s face as she glanced at Alicia. Again, it was Oliver who stepped in.

“But we’d like to announce something else. As it is Anna’s last year, she will be taking the NEWTs, and as such,” Wood shuddered in horror, “she may not have as much time to give to Quidditch, therefore, we have decided that Alicia Spinnet will serve as a Reserve Chaser.”

Those words seemed to wipe out any references to Mudbloods and replace them with a simple word, Chaser.  She was a Chaser.

As they left the pitch, they bumped into a small blonde first year who had been watching the trials.

“Sorry” said Alicia, “Didn’t see you”

The blonde girl grinned, “That’s all right. As long as you can see a Quaffle . . .”

Angelina smiled, “You’ve got the right idea. What’s your name?”

“Katie Bell. Next year, I’m going to be a Chaser too. I wish I could have been one this year. But first years can’t play. I think that’s a stupid rule. You miss out on some of the best players that way. I play Quidditch at home all the time, I Chase there too and I could probably Chase better than that girl Waters.” She said all of this very quickly without taking a breath.

Angelina and Alicia looked at each other and reached an unspoken agreement. They would work with Katie to make sure that she would definitely Chase for Gryffindor the next year. Besides, they liked her enthusiasm and her blunt manner of speaking. It didn’t matter that she was a year younger than they were.

“Hey,” said Alicia, “Angelina and I here decided last year that we would form a Best Chasers’ Union so that Gryffindor would be sure to win the Cup at least once while we are here, but so far, it’s just us. We can’t be a Best Chasers’ Union with only two. What do you say?”

Katie’s blue eyes widened with delight, “Really? You don’t want to find another second year?”

Angelina laughed, “No, anyone who cares more about a Quaffle than being bumped into is the best choice for a Best Chaser’s Union.”

“Right then,” said Katie, “Count me in!”

 

And in Alicia’s third year, when she zoomed out onto the pitch and scored and heard Lee’s enthusiastic voice commenting “  . . .Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood’s, last year only a reserve . . .” she knew that she, Angelina and Katie were as seamless a team of Chasers as they had dreamed of.

 

“Spinnet!” barked Oliver, “Stop daydreaming! We may not have a Seeker right now, but we are still going to practice.”

Alicia resolved to speak with Hermione later and tell her what Wood had said so long ago, it wasn’t blood that mattered but talent and Hermione certainly had that.

“Hey! We can’t have a Best Chaser Union if we only have two,” Katie yelled. “Come on, Spinnet, you heard Oliver!”

Alicia grinned, picked up her broomstick and followed her teammates.  She thought of another amendment to Wood’s statement of so long ago. It wasn’t blood that mattered, but friendship, and Alicia knew she had that in droves.

 

The End

 

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