Charlie absentmindedly grabbed the
watering can and poured its contents onto the gillyweed
he was tending. Charlie always tolerated Herbology—it
meant classes under the sun, fresh air, and the handling of nature—but today
was horribly long and boring. He knew why. He was itching to get over to the
Quidditch pitch and work his players to the death. They had narrowly beaten Ravenclaw two weeks ago and flattened Hufflepuff
four days prior, and now, it was time to prepare for the Championship. Charlie
felt the contradictory feelings of
nervousness and excitement race about in his taut stomach every time he thought
about the impending final. Ten days—Charlie had just ten days to work himself
silly at practice, to snag that Quidditch Championship trophy one last time.
That, and N.E.W.T.s.
Not to forget he still wasn’t
sure what he was going to do after he graduated.
Merlin, was his stomach doing Wronski Feints now.
“Charlie! Look out!” Tonks cried, whacking his hand sharply. Charlie’s eyes snapped
back into focus and he saw that his gillyweed was
completely submerged in water.
“Ah!” Charlie yelped, and
immediately pulled the watering can away from the drowning plant.
Wet, goopy soil was spilling over the edge of the pot, making quite a mess. He hastily
took out his wand and magicked away the mess before
taking a deep breath and widening his washed-out, light eyes.
His large biceps tightened as
he prepared to get a walloping from Tonks, but was
caught by surprise when he felt her hand on his shoulder. He cocked his head
sideways and looked down at Tonks, who was nearly two
heads shorter than him.
“You are one distracted
mate,” she said quietly, her voice calm and comforting. Tonks’
steady mood eased Charlie, which surprised him, because he really was tense.
But the compassion in her voice was relief that Charlie hadn’t felt in months.
Yes, yes I am! Charlie cried out mentally. I’ve
got millions of people loading Quidditch and jobs and grades on me, and I’m
about to crack! I don’t know what to do! Everyone expects me to win this match
and then go off and play professionally but I really don’t think I want it! But
what is everyone else going to say? I can’t hold on to this much longer, Tonks!
“The Quidditch Final’s around
the corner,” Charlie said, smiling. “You know how it gets.”
Tonks, however, wasn’t convinced by his
seemingly happy demeanor. She narrowed her eyes and raised an eyebrow.
“Charlie Weasley! You can’t
fool me!” Tonks hissed, crossing her arms over her
chest. “You’ve been on the team since second year and you’ve gone through these
four times—and not once, not even four years ago, were you stressed out
Charlie inwardly winced. Tonks had a point. He was naturally nonchalant and
carefree, something that sometimes annoyed his mum, and now seemed to be
annoying Tonks as well. I like to think I’m
Fortunately for Charlie,
Professor Sprout’s voice rang through the greenhouse, announcing the end of
“Can’t talk Tonks! Gotta go practice!” Charlie breathed, and snatched Beau (who had
been working several tables away with a curvy Ravenclaw)
by the arm on his way out to the pitch.
“Okay, mates, we’ve got one last chance to win
with this team,” Charlie declared twenty minutes later inside the locker room.
The team was busy pulling on their outer equipment—shin guards and gloves and
elbow pads and such. Charlie glanced around at his team, and felt his heart
relax. The 1990-1991 Gryffindor Quidditch Team. His team.
My excellent Chasers, Charlie thought, grinning at the
trio. There was of course Beau, who was busy lacing up his Quidditch boots.
Next to him sat second year Angelina Johnson, a tall, dark-skinned girl, whose talent
on the field was quickly blossoming. She was tall—Charlie hardly stood
over her—and to her ambition amazed Charlie; she seemed to enjoy the most
brutal games the best. Seventh year Guy Dirk silently adjusted his shin guards,
his demeanor calm but his eyes blazing. To those who didn’t know him, Guy was
quite intimidating—he was a giant, really; the tall, dark, and handsome type;
the strong and silent one. Guy’s loyalty to Charlie usually put the sneering Slytherins in their place whenever they threatened the
“We’ve got to give it our
all, team,” Charlie said, slamming his fist into his palm. “And I know we can
do it. We’ve done it for the past four years!”
George Weasley chuckled as he
stretched on the floor. Charlie shook his head as he watched his twin brothers
stretch their arms and legs. Fred was standing on one foot and hopping around
on the other, grinning. Since Charlie himself could ride on a broomstick, the
twins had shown great interest as they watched their older brother glide
through the clouds—and since last year’s Beaters had graduated (one included Jordan
Spinnet, whose younger sister Alicia Charlie watched
with a scouting eye) the twins took it upon themselves to “liven up the
Quidditch team.” They had a lot of work ahead of them, but their eagerness made
them invaluable—if not on the pitch, than certainly for team morale.
“Don’t worry, Charlie!” piped
up a young Oliver Wood. “We want it just as much as you do!”
“He’s right, you know!” Beau
agreed, adjusting a shin guard. “Honestly, mate, you’d think that we’d just pop
out on our brooms and go chase butterflies!”
Charlie gave a little laugh
and looked from Beau to his Keeper, Oliver Wood. This was Oliver’s third year
on the team—a special find of Charlie’s—and his Quidditch skills were almost
prodigal; not unlike Charlie’s. Oliver’s fourteen-year-old body still needed
time to grow, but that didn’t stop him from performing spectacular saves and jaw-dropping
catches. He was truly a wonder—there was something about Oliver that Charlie
didn’t have, and he couldn’t quite place it just yet.
Charlie shook his head and
pointed with his thumb out to the pitch. “C’mon, mates, we’ve got to pull out
all the stops this time ‘round!”
The weather outside was
fantastic for Quidditch weather, and whether it was the weather or Charlie’s
yearning to snag the Cup this year, the team performed spectacularly. Charlie’s
Chasers executed their passes flawlessly; they seemed to have a premonition
about their relative positions and performed with
great ease. They always knew where each other was and they always performed
together spectacularly (which had come from their being teammates for four
years). They practiced without resistance for a while and then Oliver began to
Keep, and Charlie was thrilled to see that Oliver only let four Quaffles
through the goals. Meanwhile the Beaters smacked around Bludgers
and Charlie began to perform amazing dives and catches. It put them all in a very good mood, and when the sun had begun
to set, Charlie called it quits on the practice.
“Excellent work, mates!”
Charlie said cheerfully, for his spirits were quite high. “I know we can keep
The team undressed, gabbing
first about Quidditch, and then getting into
more personal, gossip-y subjects, before Angelina rounded up on Charlie.
“So, Charlie,” Angelina said
with difficulty, trying to unhook a kneepad and a shin guard at the same time.
“Have you been studying for those N.E.W.T.s. yet?”
Charlie felt his stomach sink
slightly, though he had noted a couple of minutes ago he was quite famished.
N.E.W.T.s in Herbology,
Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, and Charms.
“You’re in a lot of N.E.W.T.s classes, aren’t you?” Angelina continued. “That
might be a struggle…though I always thought you were going to sign with a
Of course, Angelina had no
idea that her statement made him swell with anger, frustration, and anxiety (all at the same time, too!). It was a combination of his
indignation that everyone else just assumed he was only good for Quidditch, his
stress about facing final exams and the Cup, and his anxiety about how others
might take his decision to become a dragon trainer.
When did I decide that?! Charlie’s eyes grew wide, which Angelina
mistook for pre-exam jitters.
“Ah, sorry, Charlie, I
shouldn’t have brought that up,” Angelina said somberly. “You’ve got enough to
worry about. Besides, there’s still two weeks until they come ‘round.”
“I’m not worrying,” Charlie
raised an eyebrow as he continued to strip off his equipment.
Charlie continued to shovel potatoes
and meat into his mouth, savoring the delicious taste. He was an eater of
habit: he mixed all of his foods together and ate quickly, never taking a sip
of his drink until he had finished filling his stomach. Tonks
often hypothesized that Charlie would throw up his meal
because of how quickly he devoured everything and how disgusting some things
(like potatoes and beef) looked all mingled as one, and Beau often told a disgusting joke about Charlie’s food that made
everyone else lose their appetites (but strangely enough, never Charlie).
“Charlie!” Tonks snapped, “Slow down! What are you possibly in a hurry to
Charlie had just scraped off
the last bit of beef-potato and began to fill up his plate again.
“I had Quidditch practice
today, Tonks,” Charlie whined, taking a sip from his
goblet. “I’m starving! I haven’t eaten since noon.”
“And you hardly touched your
food at noon, too,” Oliver Wood observed, who was sitting two or three seats
down and across from Charlie. He grinned. “Quidditch player’s gotta eat!”
Charlie winked and jabbed his
head as he ladled gravy over some rice. He didn’t notice the look shared
between Beau and Tonks.
They chatted about nothing
until Charlie had finished off his third helping, Beau his second, and Tonks her first. Charlie looked over towards the staff
table to see Professor Kettleburn
standing up and bidding Professors Sinistra and Snape farewell; Charlie could see that he held a giant ham
and an immense bit of steak in his hands.
“I’m…uh, going to run up to
the dorm real fast!” Charlie said quickly, standing up.
“Now Charles,” Beau began in
a stuffy, upper-class accent (quite a different tone from his Cockney accent),
using Charlie’s real (and hated) name, “we have a long-standing tradition here,
chap. The sweet delicacies, old boy! We stay until we wine and dine with
“Why can’t you just
say stick around for pudding?” Tonks breathed,
rolling her eyes.
Beau began, but stopped himself when he noticed Charlie had left the Great
he left,” Beau said, sounding truly surprised.
Charlie had learned stealth and speed
from years of being an athlete, and he put them to the test tonight as he
tiptoed and sprinted around a grumbling Professor Kettleburn,
who wasn’t particularly enjoying dragging around two huge pieces of meat.
Finally Kettleburn arrived at Selda’s
paddock and Charlie hid behind the heavy trees that surrounded Selda’s corral.
What happened next was
completely accidental, Charlie would insist in later years. Not once did he
think that he’d overhear the spell used to open the paddock; not once did that
thought cross his mind, and not once did he think he might use it.
“Corpus Invictus!” Professor Kettleburn
hissed, and pointed his wand past the magical barrier and at Selda, whose snarling indicated her wariness of the
professor. A green spark of magic erupted from the point of his wand and
sparked at the tip. Selda then began to trance, and
immediately calmed down upon Kettleburn’s casting of
the spell. She lolled in place, snorting every so often.
Kettleburn concluded, and bright blue flashes of
magical light erupted from Selda and curved above her
before slamming down on the paddock’s gate—which promptly swung open.
Charlie slapped his forehead.
But even Kettleburn
didn’t step inside the paddock, for Selda was no
longer dazed and began to prance around quite gracefully for a giant lizard,
eager to dine. Kettleburn threw the meat into the
pen, stepped away, cried, “Concludere!”
watched the magic close up the pen, made sure it was secure, and left.
boy,” Charlie murmured, rubbing his temples. Bloody temptation!
left the area, Charlie made sure he watched him walk back up to the castle.
When he could no longer see him, he jumped out from behind the tree and slowly
walked toward the pen.
Selda looked up briefly but seemed to be
highly uninterested in the buff redhead coming her way, and went back to
stripping off pieces of ham. That made Charlie chortle a bit—it was rather
comforting, knowing that there was something that could care less about you.
Being a Quidditch player, Charlie was constantly being followed both on and
away from the pitch. Girls of all ages and star-struck, aspiring Quidditch
players followed him around like puppies, and during a match six opposing
players were swooping around him, one that particularly tailed him. And
you’re just lying there, eating your meal, not caring at all. It doesn’t matter
to you that I can play a sport. Not a bit. Still slowly he approached the
paddock, feeling his heart pump faster and faster, until he found that he was
right by the smooth railing. He put his hand up to the paddock and tapped it;
the invisible magical field appeared, glowing and rippling in response to his
“So you’re locked up in there
good, eh, girl?” Charlie muttered. He squatted down so that he was eye level
with the lounging, feeding dragon. Smiling, Charlie cocked his head to get a
feel what you’re going through,” Charlie said suddenly. “You know. Caged in with
a bunch of stupid gits watching you.” He shuddered.
“Sorry about that, Selda. You know…for doing to you
what I dislike being done to me.”
Selda was looking at him through her icy
eyes, but was still ripping apart the ham. Listening.
“I am talking…to a dragon,”
Charlie said defeatedly. He snorted and his eyes
widened, but what surprised him the most was the Selda
herself made a derisive noise, as if to say, so?
Charlie lounged around for a
while longer, watching the moon rise and stars stud the night sky while lying
on his back. It was cloudy, but it added to the scenery.
Quidditch. Should I join a
Charlie mused inwardly. I like Quidditch. There’s nothing more in the world,
really, that I like more’n Quidditch. I like being
outside and I like action. But that’s what the Dragon Institute is offering
too. ‘Cept it’s new action, new outdoors. But I’m not
sick of the Quidditch action and outdoors. GOD! What am I gonna
do? Bill’s already doin’ a great job for Gringotts—Mum and Dad’re proud.
He didn’t pull anything surprising. But he was a prefect and Head Boy,
which is quite a lot on someone’s plate. I’m just a prefect, though. But a
Quidditch player. I wonder where I got this talent from? Can’t be Uncle Bilius—he's nutters. Maybe Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian.
But not anymore…I wonder if You-Know-Who ever crashed a Quidditch match? So I
suppose it’s safer to play nowadays, without that crazy nutter
running around the place… Oh,
everything’s crap! I hate thinking about this. I feel less and less excited
about Quidditch as my future. Makes my stomach flip. The dragon’s more calming
now than my hobby. I wonder if Quidditch is just a hobby? But hobbies are
great. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get paid for playing at their hobby? And I really like the feeling of
flying. But I wonder if I'd still like it when I have to get up at three in the
morning to start practicing? And I wonder if my Quidditch teammates would
be friendly? I like playing with Beau and the others. I wouldn’t want to play
with anyone else. But Beau’s already got something lined up. He’s not playing
Quidditch. And he likes the game just as much as I do. And he’s good, too.
Charlie let out a deep sigh. Why
can’t I keep anything straight? I even wander when I’m thinking! Can’t I
figure out anything?
N.E.W.T.s are going to be hell.
“I don’t know what to do,”
Charlie said aloud. To his surprise he looked over and saw that Selda was lying right next to him. Their eyes met,
Charlie’s full of quiet surprise and Selda’s full of
steely will, when suddenly Selda made a weird noise
and leaned her head back. Charlie wasn’t sure what she was going to do until he
heard the unmistakable huffing of a sneeze.
“OH SH—,” Charlie
cried, and immediately pushed himself upwards and rolled to his left just as a
jet of blue flame escaped from Selda’s nostrils.
Selda snorted and looked up at Charlie, who
shook his head.
“That’s a sign,” Charlie
said, “for me to leave.”
Charlie made a motion with
his head— that weird upward nod that boys do,
acknowledging a friend or acquaintance—to Selda as a
goodbye and trudged up to the castle, no longer thinking about Quidditch and
his future but about the Swedish Short-Snout. That dragon was anything but
vicious: she lay beside him, never growling or snapping, but—kind of—just…listening.
He liked that dragon.
Ten minutes later he had
given the password to the Fat Lady (“Phalangellus”)
and climbed into his cozy common room. It was later than he had realized: only
three or four students were lounging around, and, to his dismay, one of them
“CHARLIE! Where have you been?”
Tonks snapped, storming over to her friend, her arms
at her side. “You were wandering aimlessly again, weren’t you? You’ve got
to stop doing that, Charlie. It’s a waste of time."
Of course, he hadn’t been
wandering aimlessly (something Charlie did do sometimes, usually without
realizing it). But it sounded good to him.
“Charlie, you’ve got your
head up in the clouds,” Tonks said, more calmly. She
crossed her arms over her chest. “You’ve got to tell me, Charlie, what’s been
“Nothing,” Charlie said
“Nothing? NOTHING? You
think I’m gonna believe that? I know you better than
you know yourself, Charlie!” Tonks said loudly,
putting her hands on her hips. Charlie took a step backwards. She could be
quite intimidating—you know, for someone about a foot shorter than he was.
“You’re not as cheerful as you usually are. And—and you’re more distracted.”
“You just told me I’ve got my
head up in the clouds!” Charlie shot back, not unkindly.
“Sure, but you’ve been more
distracted, and in a dismal kind of way,” Tonks
She’ll make a good Auror, Charlie thought. For someone who’s so klutzy, she really does
pay attention to details.
“And it’s something big,
Charlie,” Tonks continued. Charlie was only
“Oh?” he replied, lukewarm.
“You never get nervous for
Quidditch—that’s just a natural thing. Nope, never. And you don’t really care
about grades, ever…but you did take a lot of N.E.W.T. classes for some reason,”
Tonks rambled off, talking to herself.
Everything that’s supposed
to not be bothering me is,
“But—perhaps all that’s
what’s bothering you!” Tonks said suddenly. “Which is
why you’ve been all weird lately.”
Mildly surprising, Charlie
gave her a small smile. “Tonks! We’ve got ten days to
the Cup and two weeks to N.E.W.T.s. I’m just tired,
“But Charlie—!” Tonks began.
“Goodnight, Tonks,” Charlie said, turning away. He slowly walked up the
stairs and went into his room, where Beau and his other flat mates were already
lying in bed, asleep. He quickly put on his pajamas, got a cup of water, and
climbed into bed. For a couple of minutes he sat up in silence before he rolled
over on his side. He heard a stir from Beau’s bed.
“You can’t keep anything from
Tonks,” Beau said suddenly and sleepily.
didn’t seem to expect an answer, so Charlie didn’t give him one; rather, he
attempted to fall asleep, only to drift away, an hour later, into an uneasy,
though dreamless, sleep.