Disclaimer: In this story I used quotes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I don't mean any harm by it, nor do I wish to sell this. Anything un-canonly the characters do in this story is all my fault.
Author's Note: I have the most wonderful beta readers in the world, and they are called Whimsy, Jo Wickaninnish and CornedBee. Thank you all!
The Godfather Part III - The Philosopher’s Stone
Chapter 4 – The First Flying Lesson
“... the best thing was that Bludger from Rafter ...”
“... of course it’s more exciting than football ...”
“... my great-uncle Algie once wanted to take me for a flight ...”
“... it hit the Falcons’ Seeker on the wrist just as he touched the Snitch ...”
“... they’re flying, Dean, flying ...”
Harry opened his eyes, trying to make sense of the chattering all around him. He couldn’t understand why everyone was making such a noise so early in the morning – or had he overslept? He reached out a hand and pulled the curtains around his bed aside, lifting his head to look at the alarm clock on his bedside table. It was five past seven. Groaning, Harry fell back onto his pillow and made to close the curtains again, but they were ripped open from the other side. A large head with freckles and flaming red hair was looking down on him.
“About time you woke up!”
“What are you all doing up so early?” Harry asked, but Ron had already disappeared and could now be heard relaying the best moments of the Quidditch matches he had seen at the top of his voice. Realisation slowly dawned on Harry: today was their first flying lesson. It wasn’t until that afternoon, but apparently it was enough reason for his classmates to be very loud at seven in the morning.
As he got out of bed and slowly dressed himself, Seamus was trying to convince Dean that Quidditch was much more exciting than football, Ron was still talking about Snitches and Bludgers to no one in particular, and Neville was rattling on in the middle of them about an attempt by his great-uncle Algie to let him fall off a broomstick in order to ignite some magic in him – an attempt that was thwarted at the last possible moment by Neville’s parents.
Harry said nothing at all. He didn’t feel very excited about the upcoming flying lesson. Sure, he loved to fly, but he thought that the first few flying lessons were probably going to be very boring, considering that people like Dean and Neville had to start from scratch. Moreover, according to the notice-board they were to have these flying lessons together with the Slytherins. Harry wasn’t particularly looking forward to yet another hour a week in which Draco Malfoy would glare at him.
During breakfast, the first-year Gryffindors were all buzzing in anticipation around Harry. Hermione Granger was continuously reciting tips she had got from Quidditch through the Ages, a book Harry had owned since he was six and which he knew by heart, until Neville told her that according to his parents you couldn’t learn flying from a book.
“They said the only way I should learn to fly was from a professional instructor. Books are pretty useless when it comes to flying, they said. Hey, there’s no need to look so shocked. I’m sure Madam Hooch is a very capable instructor, it’ll all be fine, really! Oh look, what’s this?”
A barn owl had flown down towards them and was now extending his leg to Neville. Neville took off the letter, which was inside a bright yellow envelope.
“It’s a good luck card from my parents!” he said happily. “I told them I was having my first lesson today.”
As Neville chattered on, Hermione turned steadily greener, riffling through Quidditch through the Ages so fast that Harry was afraid she would rip out a few pages before long. Fortunately, the bell soon rang to signal the start of their first lesson. Hermione seemed to be back to her normal self during Transfiguration, answering all of Professor McGonagall’s questions before anyone else and earning fifteen points for knowing about Switching Spells.
During break, Ron entertained the other Gryffindor boys with a story about how he had once almost hit a hang-glider on Charlie’s old broom, and Harry found himself joining in with enthusiasm, recounting a few of the more spectacular broom races he had held with Paddy. He also thoroughly enjoyed the amazed faces around him as he informed the other boys that he had become bored with his toy broomstick when he was almost six and had nicked Paddy’s broom to fly in the backyard. He conveniently forgot to mention that he had been caught by Paddy, earning a stern lecture on the dangers of flying unsupervised and showing magic to Muggles, and had his toy broomstick confiscated for three weeks.
At three-thirty that afternoon, the Gryffindors headed out into the grounds towards a smooth lawn, where the Slytherins were already waiting, twenty broomsticks lying on the ground at their feet. Madam Hooch, their teacher, arrived after the Gryffindors and briskly instructed them to stand next to a broom.
“Stick out your right hand over the broom and say, ‘Up!’”
Harry perked up at once. He had never heard of giving a broomstick such a command before, but it seemed at least ten times as cool as just picking the broom up from the ground.
“Up!” he shouted at his broom, and to his great satisfaction, the broom jumped up into his hand at once. Grinning, he looked around at the others, who were having considerably less success. Ron’s broom only jumped a foot into the air on his first attempt, and Hermione’s just rolled over. Neville was grinning, just like Harry, but his broom was still on the ground, unmoving.
At long last, everyone had grasped their broom, and Madam Hooch, after correcting some students’ grips, instructed them to fly a few feet up in the air and then come back down. Harry rolled his eyes at no one in particular and decided to interpret those few feet rather liberally. Before he could do anything, however, something caught his eye.
Neville, eager to finally learn to fly, had kicked off before Madam Hooch’s whistle. Grinning widely, he shot up into the air, rising five feet – twelve feet –
“Come back, boy!” Madam Hooch shouted.
Neville confidently leant forwards on his broom, but instead of losing height, he gained another few feet and slipped down his broom, until he was hanging onto the end with one hand and one leg, his other limbs waving madly in the air. The smile had vanished from his face.
Madam Hooch took out her wand, yelling at Neville to stay calm, but Neville rose even further – his broom bucked – and he flew off it, landing with a sickening crack on the ground. The broomstick was still rising higher and started to drift lazily towards the Forbidden Forest.
Madam Hooch was very pale as she bent over Neville. “Broken wrist – come on, boy – it’s all right, up you get.”
Neville scrambled to his feet, clutching his wrist, his face just as white as Madam Hooch’s. He wasn’t smiling, and he was uncharacteristically silent as he walked towards the castle with Madam Hooch.
“Did you see his face, the great lump?” a drawling voice cut through the silence. Harry turned around to see Draco Malfoy in the middle of the group of Slytherins, looking very pleased with himself as the students surrounding him laughed. Harry felt a surge of hatred towards this pale-faced boy who was so similar to his father.
“He can’t even fly,” Malfoy continued to sneer. “I had heard he was almost a Squib, but I didn’t know he was that bad.”
“Shut up!” Harry suddenly said, stepping forward. A few Slytherins stepped aside, so that he was standing face to face with Malfoy.
“Potter.” Malfoy’s voice had changed. It was deeper now, with a dangerous note in it. But Harry didn’t care. All he wanted was to punch Malfoy as hard as he could. He tightened his grip on the broomstick he was still holding.
“Finally coming out into the open, then, Potter?” Malfoy asked maliciously. “After having been in hiding for all those years? Of course, my father had no problem finding you –”
“No problem, no,” Harry cut him off, “except that he went to Azkaban for it, didn’t he?”
Malfoy’s pale face contorted with anger. “You’re going to pay for that, Potter. You wait. You can’t land my father in prison.”
“Your father was stupid enough to land himself in prison,” Harry retorted.
Malfoy raised his broomstick and made to thrust the handle into Harry’s stomach, but Harry was faster. He blocked Malfoy’s move with his own broomstick and then brought it up in a fluid move, smashing the tail against the side of Malfoy’s head.
Malfoy crumpled, clutching his head, and Harry moved forward to deal another blow –
Harry froze. He recognised that voice very well, as it had shouted at him just like that only a week ago. He lowered his broomstick and stared at his feet, waiting for Professor McGonagall to arrive.
Speechless with anger, Professor McGonagall snatched the broomstick out of his hands before bending over Malfoy, who lay on the ground, moaning. After a short inspection, she straightened up.
“Get up, Malfoy, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with you. Just head to the hospital wing and let Madam Pomfrey check you over. Crabbe, Goyle, escort him, please.”
Malfoy struggled to his feet, and with the two biggest and dumbest-looking Slytherins at his side, he walked to the castle. Professor McGonagall turned to Harry, who found himself trembling under her glare.
“Follow me, Potter.”
As Harry did so, he passed his classmates, who were all looking at him with identical shocked expressions. No one said anything.
When Harry hurried after Professor McGonagall into the Entrance Hall, up the marble staircase and into the second corridor on the left, he realised with a sinking feeling that the route they were taking was already familiar: it headed to Professor McGonagall’s office. Harry’s legs felt shaky as he followed the tall form of the Head of his house, only able to think of one thing: Paddy’s letter of last week. Would hitting Malfoy be bad enough to get expelled? And if he wasn’t expelled, would it count as harming a student, meaning he could expect a Howler over breakfast?
Professor McGonagall opened the door of her office with a wave of her wand, and Harry followed her inside. The door closed behind him of its own accord.
“Explain yourself,” Professor McGonagall demanded. Harry glanced up at her – she looked every bit as angry as when she had dragged him from Filch’s office, so he decided to talk to his shoes instead.
“Malfoy – he said – he provoked me.” Professor McGonagall didn’t seem to find this a satisfactory explanation, as she stayed silent, so Harry took a deep breath and plunged on. “He said he’d get me back for landing his father in prison, so I told him it was his father’s own fault, and then he attacked me, and I hit back.”
He glanced up once more. Professor McGonagall was staring at him with an unreadable expression on her face.
“Did he say anything else?” she asked.
“Well, first he was insulting Neville – Neville had fallen off his broom, you see – and then he said something about me being in hiding for all those years, and he also said – he said –”
Harry suddenly found his throat obstructed by a great lump, and his eyes were burning.
“Sit down, Potter,” Professor McGonagall said gently, guiding him into a seat. “What did he say?”
“He said that – that his father had been able to find me...”
To Harry’s great embarrassment, a tear leaked from his eyes. He tried to conceal it by looking down into his lap, but Professor McGonagall was already handing him a handkerchief. He dried his eyes and blew his nose, and when he looked up, Professor McGonagall was sitting at the other side of her desk.
“Have a biscuit, Potter.”
Numbly, Harry took a biscuit from a tartan tin on the desk.
“I am aware of your history with the Malfoy family, Potter,” Professor McGonagall said. “I understand that it is difficult for you to meet young Mr Malfoy on a daily basis. However, nothing gives you the right to hit a fellow student over the head with a broomstick. You will therefore serve detention this evening, seven o’clock.”
“I will refrain from taking any house points this time,” Professor McGonagall continued. “But I want you to ignore Mr Malfoy from now on, Potter. Whatever he says, whatever he does, you will not let yourself be provoked. Do you understand?”
Harry nodded again, and then he was finally allowed to leave the office.
That evening during dinner, everyone kept throwing odd looks at Harry. Ron was mumbling tonelessly about the rest of the flying lesson, supposedly to fill Harry in, but any fool could have guessed he was thinking about very different things.
“What’s up?” Harry finally asked.
Ron looked round at him, apparently surprised to see him there. “What?”
“What’s up with you all? Everyone keeps looking at me like I’m a sort of alien.”
Ron stared at him strangely for a moment, and then blurted out, “Did you really put Malfoy’s father in prison?”
Harry’s fork fell onto his plate with a clatter. Ron seemed to take that as a confirmation.
“When? How? Why?”
“He tried to attack me when I was eight,” Harry replied tersely. “I don’t want to talk about it, all right?”
A second-year sitting nearby gasped, Hermione looked up from her book, and Seamus Finnigan asked, “He attacked you?”
Harry frowned. “I said so, didn’t I?”
“But you were really well protected,” Hermione stated. “It says so in The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.”
“That’s why he didn’t succeed,” Harry said curtly, trying to block images from that disastrous trip to Diagon Alley three years ago from his mind. He was really well protected, yeah, as long as he didn’t do any stupid things himself.
By now half of the Gryffindor table was listening, and Seamus, Lavender Brown and a burly third-year all spoke up at the same time.
“But why did he –”
“How did he –”
“What sorts of protections –”
“Hold it!” Ron said loudly, half-raising from his seat. “Didn’t you listen? He said he didn’t want to talk about it. So leave him alone.”
The table fell silent, Ron glared, and then everyone grudgingly looked away. A buzzing started up almost immediately, and Harry knew they were now eagerly discussing every word he had said, and by tomorrow the wildest stories would circulate around the school. He sighed and turned back to Ron, who was grinning at him.
“Brilliant,” Ron said. “Just what that Malfoy prick deserves.”
Harry grinned back and then picked up his fork and went back to his dinner. He was just finishing his second helping when a shadow loomed over him.
“Having a last meal, Potter?” Malfoy asked. He was flanked by the two huge Slytherins who had taken him to the hospital wing. “When are you getting the train back to your hideout?”
His head pounding, Harry ignored him, stuffing half a chicken leg into his mouth to prevent himself from calling Malfoy names.
“Want to finish what we started, Potter?” Malfoy asked in a low voice. “Properly, this time? A wizard’s duel? Wands only – no contact. Tonight, if you want.”
For a moment, Harry was tempted to agree. Fighting Malfoy in a true wizard’s duel would be very satisfying. But when he looked up at Malfoy, he saw Professor McGonagall looking in his direction from the staff table, and at once he changed his mind.
“No,” he said fiercely to Malfoy, looking him straight in the eye.
Looking completely nonplussed, Malfoy left without saying another word and made his way back to the Slytherin table, the two huge Slytherins trailing in his wake. Harry watched them go and then looked at the staff table. He could have sworn he saw Professor McGonagall give him a small smile.
As he didn’t feel like doing homework for an hour before his detention, Harry went to visit Neville in the hospital wing after dinner. Neville was sitting up in one of the beds, looking as healthy as ever. He grinned at Harry as he came in and started talking before Harry was even able to greet him properly.
“Hi, Harry! Look at my arm – it’s all mended. Madam Pomfrey did it in a minute, but she wanted to keep me here until after dinner to make sure I don’t have a concussion. It was rather exciting, wasn’t it, flying? I went really high. I suppose I have to learn how to go down again, though – d’you think that’s next lesson?”
Harry made a non-committal noise. He was looking forward to the second flying lesson even less than to the first.
“I’ve written to my parents already, look,” Neville continued, waving with a bit of parchment covered in his handwriting. “I don’t think they’ll be too surprised to hear I broke something – they’ll just be glad it was only my wrist. I bet I’m getting a long list of instructions back tomorrow, basically saying I shouldn’t go so high the first time on a broomstick. But it was great fun.”
When Harry left the hospital wing half an hour later, he felt a little dazed. He couldn’t see how someone could have so much to talk about after sitting on a bed doing nothing for hours. And yet, everything Neville said was interesting. His talks were never boring, unlike Hermione’s lectures about Hogwarts, A History or whatever other book she had read.
“Come in, Potter,” Professor McGonagall said when Harry knocked on the door of her office. “I’ve found a very appropriate task for you for this evening. You’re to clean out the broom shed next to the Quidditch pitch.” She stood up, peering sternly down at Harry. “Follow me, Potter.”
They walked down to the Entrance Hall, out on to the grounds and towards the Quidditch pitch. Harry had never been there before, and he couldn’t help but look admiringly and longingly at the high, golden hoops.
“Hand over your wand, Potter,” Professor McGonagall said. Glancing at the Quidditch pitch, too, she added, “Under no circumstances are you to leave this shed before it is sparkling clean. Good luck.” With that, she left, and Harry turned his back to the pitch and entered the shed. It was very dirty, and as he started scrubbing, he wished Hagrid was with him to entertain him with another tale about one of his creatures.
After an hour and a half, there was not a single speck of dust left in sight, the floor had been cleared of all mud, and the broomsticks were stacked neatly against the wall. Massaging his aching muscles, Harry opened the door of the shed and caught sight once again of the Quidditch hoops gleaming in the evening light. Harry looked at the broomsticks and then back at the pitch, thinking of what McGonagall had said. She had seen him looking, and she had warned him not to go there – until the shed was clean. Well, it was clean now, wasn’t it?
Harry made his decision in a split second. He grabbed one of the brooms and ran out onto the Quidditch pitch with it. There he mounted it and kicked off. He was soaring through the air, forgetting all about his sore muscles and Malfoy and the Howler he was possibly going to get – flying was the most wonderful thing in the world. He did a few loops, sped in and out of the large hoops, then dived as if he had seen the Snitch, and lazily flew up again in huge circles. He was just wondering what to do next as he caught sight of two figures on the ground below him. Harry almost fell off his broom in shock. There, standing in the middle of the pitch and looking up at him, were Madam Hooch and Professor McGonagall. Harry stayed stationary in the air for a moment, unsure what to do. Clearly, the two had seen him, but they weren’t yet yelling at him to come down. Finally deciding that in case he was out of bounds he would only make it worse by continuing to fly, Harry descended slowly until he felt his feet touch the ground.
The two teachers had stopped talking when Harry had landed in front of them. Madam Hooch was smiling at him, and Professor McGonagall had an odd glint in her eyes. Suddenly, she took out her wand and waved it, causing a small heavy ball to drop out of mid-air into her hand.
“Well, Potter,” she said, pointing her wand at the ball. “I wonder if you can catch this?”
She lifted her wand and the ball shot high into the air. Harry hesitated – was she inviting him to go back into the air? Then Madam Hooch nodded at him encouragingly, and he wasted no more time. He sped off after the ball, rapidly gaining height. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Professor McGonagall flick her wand and the small ball suddenly moved downwards. Harry reacted immediately and dived after it. Keeping his eyes focused on the little ball, he raced towards the ground – he was three feet behind – two feet – one foot -
He stretched out his right hand and caught the small ball, pulling out of his dive at the same time, landing gently on the ground. As he walked towards the middle of the pitch, the ball in one hand and his broom in the other, his two teachers were gesturing agitatedly, and he caught snatches of their conversation.
“– Charlie Weasley couldn’t have done it –”
“– superb technique –”
Professor McGonagall nodded at Harry as he arrived. “Well done, Potter. How long have you been flying?”
“Since I was seven,” Harry said. “About twice a week, I think.”
Professor McGonagall and Madam Hooch exchanged a significant glance.
“And do you enjoy it?” Madam Hooch asked.
Harry nodded eagerly. “Yeah, very much.”
Another of those glances. Harry was getting more bewildered with the minute. When were they going to tell him off for flying unsupervised?
“I think I will have to write to your godfather,” Professor McGonagall said, and Harry’s heart sank. “He will have to give permission, of course – and I should talk to Wood. I don’t doubt he will agree, though – he hasn’t been able to find anyone at all.”
Madam Hooch nodded, and Harry started to feel rather annoyed. He didn’t have a clue what they were talking about or whether they were going to punish him at all. And what did they want to write to Paddy about?
“We have been observing you from down here, Potter,” Madam Hooch said, suddenly turning to Harry. “We have agreed that you will be exempted from flying lessons for the rest of the year. You clearly don’t need them.”
“Moreover,” McGonagall added, “you should know that there is an open position on the Gryffindor Quidditch team – Seeker – and you seem to have exactly the right skills.”
Harry gaped at her. “Me – Seeker? But I though that first-years –”
“We’ll have to see whether we can bend the first-year rule. I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn’t look Severus Snape in the face for weeks ...”
She peered sternly over her glasses to Harry. “This is all on the condition that your guardian gives you permission, of course. And if I hear you’ve been picking fights with Mr Malfoy, I’m certain he will agree with me to take you off the team.”
Then she suddenly smiled. “Your father would have been proud. He was an excellent Quidditch player himself.”