Repeat, You Are Not Cleared For Landing
The afternoon meet-up with Hagrid was beginning to wind down when Calvin voiced what they were all thinking. Or at least, what he and Hermione were thinking. So, half the group.
“Hagrid,” Calvin said, planting both hands down onto the table in front of him and squinting up at the large, hairy man. “Did you or did you not get deceived into divulging the identity of the contents of vault seven-hundred-and-thirteen, and/or infiltrate the goblin ranks of Gringotts to steal it for yourself even when you knew that you had just emptied the vault the day before?”
“Er, what?” answered Hagrid uncertainly.
Hermione took the floor. Figuratively – it was a dirt floor, this being a cabin. “What he’s trying to say is that whoever broke into the vault the day after you and Harry were there clearly knew about the exact nature of the contents of the vault.” She didn’t want to come right out and accuse Hagrid of accidentally betraying said information to the thief in question.
Hagrid glanced nervously back and forth between them. “You lot know ’bout the contents of the vault?”
Hermione began shaking her head, but Calvin jumped in front of her.
“Of course we know about the contents of the vault,” he said nonchalantly. I sure hope this works – my mom never falls for it, but then again, this guy is definitely not my mom. “Dumbledore’s a good buddy of mine, and I had a talk with him about earlier this week. We think the thief may have weaseled some information out of you – against your will, of course – that led him to break into the vault.”
The large groundskeeper suddenly went white as a front porch full of little kids dressed up as ghosts on Halloween night. “Dumbledore said that ’bout me?”
“Oh no,” Calvin reassured him. “Mugwump Man would never say anything like that. But he did imply it. He told me to keep an eye out for any clues as to who might be trying to steal the…” He leaned in close and glanced back at the other three, then locked eyes with Hagrid. “…the you know what,” he whispered secretively.
Hagrid’s eyes widened. “I can’t believe Dumbledore’s trusting a firs’-year with this.”
“Oh, I’m no ordinary first-year,” Calvin told the bearded man. He heard Ron snort behind him. “In fact, I achieved an almost perfect transfiguration on my very first attempt, and Professor McGonagall couldn’t praise me enough. And I certainly made an impression on Professor Snape, as well.”
“Blimey,” Hagrid said, thunking down onto his chair. “Tha’s mighty extraordinary – Snape’s not an easy one ter impress.”
“As I said, I’m not an ordinary first-year,” said Calvin with a brilliant smile. “Let me know if you remember anything about…that matter,” he winked. Hagrid nodded, dumbfounded.
As the four of them made their way back to the castle in the failing light, Ron said, “I don’t know why you did all that if you weren’t going to find out about what the package actually was. Mind you, I don’t why you want to find out about the package in the first place.”
“This was just the first step, Ronald, my boy,” replied Calvin slyly, wagging a finger at the red-haired boy.
“Don’t you dare call me that!” Ron threatened.
“Okay, okay, no need to blow smoke out your ears. Anyways, trying to get Hagrid to actually reveal any information we shouldn’t know, whether or not we say we know it, would most likely have made him a bit suspicious. So I’ll let him get comfortable with the idea that I know what’s going on – pretending like you guys are out of the loop to make it more believable – and string him along until he lets slip the key pieces of information!”
They stared at him, impressed and slightly scared.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you weren’t the one who ‘weaseled some information’ out of Hagrid and broke into the vault?”
“Hmm, that’s a good point,” Calvin said seriously, pursing his lips. “I’ll keep that in mind as I conduct my investigation. PI Spencer crawls around outside the mysterious castle,” he said in a deep voice, crouching low and miming using a magnifying glass. “Clues are doing their best to evade his almost supernatural perceptive abilities, but he’s nothing if not persistent. With his signature beautiful head of hair,” he ran a hand through his spiky hair, “he continues the difficult search, knowing that only a combination of hard work, consistent effort, the right connections, and dumb luck will lead him to the prize.”
His stomach rumbled deploringly. “…Right after a short break for snacks, that is. Man, I’m starving.”
“I’ve got these rock cakes,” Ron joked, pulling a handful of practically spherical gray cookies out of his pockets.
“Oooh, yes, thanks,” Calvin replied enthusiastically, grabbing them.
“Are you kidding me, mate? Those things aren’t even edible – think I chipped a tooth on one when Hagrid first offered them to us.”
“I love ’em! They’re like cake-flavored jawbreakers.” He began to gnaw on one happily.
“Here, take mine too,” Harry offered, emptying his pockets of the featureless lumps.
They looked at Hermione expectantly.
“Don’t tell me you actually ate them,” Ron said, gaping at her.
She rolled her eyes and took her hands out of her pockets, a few rock cakes in each.
“Ha! Knew it!”
“I didn’t want to be rude, but…”
Harry nodded sympathetically. “But you just can’t physically eat them, I know.” He glance at Calvin. “Well, he can, apparently, but…”
Ron nodded in understanding. “But he’s certifiably off his rocker, and that’s if he was ever on it in the first place.” He observed as Calvin shaved off a layer of cookie with his front teeth. “He is completely insane, but…”
Hermione nodded and smiled fondly. “But there’s something about him that makes you want to be his friend.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” replied Ron with a wry grin.
“Anyone have a chisel?” asked Calvin.
Detention with Snape didn’t really have anything in common with detention the way Calvin was used to it from back in elementary school.
“Detention my left foot,” he snorted, dropping a folder from one ginormous pile into a slightly less-ginormous one. “More like child labor.”
“Less complaining, more filing, boy,” the Spawn of Satan snapped, eyeing him darkly from his desk, where he sat grading papers.
“I’ll file you,” Calvin grumbled quietly, reaching for the next folder.
…What in the world did I just say?
Apparently, weekend detentions mean the entire day on Saturday, and until lunch on Sunday. Since no one had bothered defining when Saturday ‘day’ ended in reference to detentions, whoever was giving the detention got to choose. Which definitely wasn’t a good thing when that teacher was Snape.
Calvin glanced at the clock on the wall. I swear it was nine-thirty half an hour ago…there’s no way it’s only eight-forty-two. He looked over at where the Spectre of Horror was writing ‘x’s like a robot across a long parchment. Could he be…? Ah well, it’s not like I’ve got anything to do anyways, and Hermione’ll hopefully take care of my homework while she ‘fixes up’ Ron and Harry’s.
So he continued picking up and dropping the thick folders from pile to pile.
“Every other folder, boy, do it right or I’ll have you here next weekend to do it all over again.”
Calvin blew out air like a horse, making his cheeks ripple. “And why can’t you just do this with magic?”
“It builds character,” replied Snape dryly, not even looking up.
Calvin froze. Well that’s not a good sign. What are you trying to tell me, universe?
…Oh. Right. That. Thanks for the reminder, universe.
“Hey, Harry, can I borrow Hedwig?” he asked when he got back to the common room.
Harry looked up from the game of wizard’s chess he was playing with Ron. “Sure. She hasn’t delivered anything in a while, actually, she’d probably appreciate the job. Want me to take whatever it is that needs sending to her?”
“No, you’re in the middle of a game, and I haven’t even written the letter yet. Just tell me how to get to owl HQ.”
“What’s this?” Ron gasped, dragging his eyes away from contemplating the chess board. “Calvin considerately declined when someone’s offered to do something for him? What’s next, Hermione forgoing extra study time to play Exploding Snap with us?”
“Watch it,” Hermione said from her seat at the table. “This is your homework I’m correcting here. We wouldn’t want any mistakes to just…appear, now, would we?”
“I’m sorry Hermione thank you for helping us with our homework we are in your debt forever!”
She nodded in approval. “Better.”
“I think the power’s going to your head, Hermione,” chuckled Calvin.
Harry explained to him how to the get to the tower with the owls, and he sat down next to Hermione, considering how to best begin the letter to his parents.
Dear mom and dad, he wrote. It seemed like a safe way to start. Too safe – he’d have to freak them out a bit, or they’d know for sure that he wasn’t telling them something. I’ve been at Hogwarts for less than a week, and I’ve already made blood pacts with four people! Don’t fret, it was the non-eternally binding kind – when my soul leaves my body the pacts will be dissolved. Classes here are a lot more interesting than those at home, that’s for sure. My least favorite teacher is a high-ranking Demon from the darkest depths of Hades who enjoys frightening little children and complaining about the rising price of ink. Today he let me organize his filing cabinets, which was a real treat. It just so happens that I’m a natural at turning things into other things, and I even won some points for my house by doing so. Not to worry, though, I’ll make sure to lose just as many. Anyways, we’re going to be learning how to fly next week, and I can’t wait for my first crash-landing. I’m sure it’ll be a blast. Well, that’s all for now.
Hope you miss me,
Your life’s crowning achievement,
Calvin, Boy…of Destiny
PS That’s really my name here! Even the Headmaster, the esteemed Mugwump Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, uses it. He waves to me in the Great Hall during meals and asks me about my hacky-sack skills when I pass him in the hallways. Okay, that’s it for now, really. Bye. Maybe send a letter back with Hedwig – that’s the owl’s name by the way, she belongs to a friend of mine. Make sure to feed her something before you try and tie the letter onto her leg. Hope to hear from you soon. Not so soon, I’m really busy with all my stuff. But soon-ish. I love you. Bye.
The common room was filled with Gryffindors jabbering about the upcoming flying lessons. Most of the jabbering was not about the flying itself, but rather who the flying would be done alongside.
Neville was complaining that both of his worst subjects were with the Slytherins, while Ron was going on about having to see ‘their ugly mugs’ in the air, too.
Calvin was thinking. Somehow, the universe did not spontaneously explode. Maybe it had already gotten its vaccine. “Have any of you seen Draco Malfoy around?” he asked.
“No, actually, I don’t think I’ve seen him since the Sorting,” Harry replied.
Hermione looked at them. “That can’t be right – we had Potions with the Slytherins last Friday, he must have been there.”
“I saw him,” said Ron, munching on some item of food that they had no idea how he’d gotten his hands on. “Yeah, in Potions. I was planning on asking him if he enjoyed having Evil Incarnate as his Head of House, but soon as class let out he disappeared.”
“I actually went over to the Slytherin table during breakfast,” Calvin admitted. Ron shot him his ‘are you insa- oh, right, you actually are’ look. “Some girl with a face that looked like a silverback gorilla had used it as a bongo for about a week straight told me that he’d already eaten and left.”
Harry looked at him. “You don’t think he’s…avoiding us, do you?”
“The less we see of him the better, I say,” remarked Ron. “Here’s to hoping he keeps it up until summer, eh?”
“What do you have against Draco?” Calvin asked the red-haired boy curiously.
“Besides the obvious?” came the sarcastic reply.
“He’s not all that bad, actually,” said Harry. “Sometimes, at least.”
“Harry, he’s a Malfoy.”
“…Which means what, exactly?”
Ron climbed to his feet and began pacing. “I forget you lot don’t know all this. You sure I didn’t tell you about his family when we were back on the train?”
“I didn’t hear you if you did.”
“I was probably too focused on deciding whether or not I should have been leaving the compartment and finding new friends. Anyway, the Malfoys are the worst of the worst. After You-Know-Who’s defeat-”
“What if I don’t know who?” asked Calvin curiously.
“What? Everyone knows who You-Know-Who is.”
“Well I don’t,” Calvin said, crossing his arms. “Who is he?”
“The Darkest wizard in centuries, the guy who gave Harry his scar!”
“Oh, you mean Voldemort. What was that?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at Ron. “You have the hiccups or something?”
“You said his name!” Ron’s mouth was wide open, and his freckles stood out starkly on his paling face.
“I also said ‘There are two types of people in this world – those who are cheesecake, and those who get confused whenever I open my mouth,’ but that was last week.”
“Exactly. Anyway, why shouldn’t I say his name.”
“There’s a reason people call him You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!” Ron whisper-shouted.
“And what is that reason?” asked Hermione, looking genuinely interested.
Ron threw up his hands. “There are tons of reasons! There are more reasons than there are ways to die in the Forbidden Forest! I could keep listing reasons until we graduate!”
“Great,” Harry said. “So then you’ll have no problem giving us one or two right now.”
“There are…” started Ron. Then he seemed to change his mind. “During the war, many people had family members personally killed or tortured by You-Know-Who. There are lots of bad memories from that time, and saying his name brings those memories to the surface for a lot of people…I guess.”
Hermione was staring at him. “Ron…”
“Did you just explain emotions that you don’t have yourself? Guys, are you hearing this?”
Harry and Calvin nodded, smiling.
“But if saying You-Know-Who instead of his actual name is to avoid that,” Calvin said. “Then every time someone says it, people think ‘Oh, that guy who killed my family members’ anyways, so what’s the point? Plus, avoiding saying his name gives his name power, and since he’s been defeated, we should be trying to do the opposite, no?”
“Th-thats, that’s what I think, too,” said a small voice.
“Ah!” Calvin flung himself back and tripped, tumbling to the carpet. “Oh, it’s just you, Neville. Don’t do that.”
“Um, sorry, Calvin.” The round-faced furrowed his brow. “What is it that I shouldn’t do?”
“Don’t enter the scene so suddenly. At least have the courtesy to announce your presence in the narration or something!”
“You’re one to talk about courtesy, mate,” said Ron, licking the wrapper of some sort of chocolate.
“Why should I curtsy, I don’t wear a dress,” Calvin answered him. Ron froze with his tongue still out of his mouth and looked at Calvin in confusion.
“You were saying something about what you think regarding You-Know-Who’s name, Neville?” asked Hermione, doing her best to keep the conversation from being hijacked by Calvin messing with Ron.
Neville nodded. “My parents…” He trailed off, clearly uncomfortable talking about it. Then he swallowed and seemed to find some inner strength. “My parents weren’t attacked by V-V-Vol, by V-Vold-d-dem-dem,” he struggled, gritting his teeth. “By V-V-voldemort,” he suppressed a shiver.
“Oh stop it, Ron, it’s just a name,” Hermione said as Ron practically left his seat by force of flinching.
“His followers, though,” continued Neville, hands clenched into tight, shaking fists. “His followers t-tortured, my parents. With Cruciatus.”
“That’s one of the Unforgivable Curses!” exclaimed Hermione, horrified. Neville nodded wordlessly.
“What happened to them, mate?” asked Ron, leaving any tact that he had managed to acquire in the past week behind him as he leaned forward. Hermione shot him a look that promised future lecturing, but he didn’t notice.
“They’re in Saint Mungo’s,” Neville whispered almost to himself.
“Neville, we’re so sorry,” Hermione told the boy genuinely. “We shouldn’t have asked.” She glared at Ron again.
Neville looked up at them. “My gran, she told me that I should be proud of my parents. That they stood up to the Death Eaters and to V-Voldemort. And she’s right. I’m not going to cower at the memory of what they sacrificed themselves to oppose – what they were willing to give their lives for, even though it was their, their sanity, that was taken. I’m going say Voldemort’s name, and I’m going to be proud of what my parents did, and I’d be glad to one do something half as great as what they did!” He sat back down and started to shrink in on himself in embarrassment, noticing how loud he’d gotten. Then he looked up in surprise at the sound of a clap.
Calvin was standing on his chair, applauding slowly, picking up speed as more people joined in. The boy who was proud of his parents realized that everyone in the room was staring at him, and had been listening as he talked. They were all clapping now, and most of them had stood up – some, such as Dean, joining Calvin in standing on the furniture. The clapping was as rapid as a rainstorm now, and everyone was still looking at him.
Shock and awe and a little bit of confusion played across Neville’s face. It was like he could not believe that these people were applauding him, and were applauding what he had said. He glanced around, checking to see if there was some famous person who’d just walked into the room.
“Yeah, it’s you, mate,” Ron said to him, still clapping. “You and your bloody amazing speech.”
“Language, Ron!” Hermione berated, but she was smiling.
The clapping went on for almost a full minute, and when it was finished Neville was still in shock. He told them he was going to turn in early, and wandered up to the dormitory, apparently deep in thought.
The morning of Flying classes, Hermione seemed to be the most nervous person in the Great Hall. She was muttering facts about brooms and techniques for flying under her breath the entire time, and didn’t even realize she was saying it all out loud until Ron asked her to ‘shut up about that useless information.’ She was so nervous she even forgot to get offended.
Neville was also slightly nervous, but he seemed to have retained some of his newly found confidence brought on by the standing ovation he’d received the previous night.
“I’ve been waiting for this ever since I learned that there were such things as flying brooms,” Harry said excitedly.
“We’re going to fly!” yelled Calvin, virtually bouncing with joy.
“In the air!” shouted Dean, his entire face just one big smile.
“On the same object that my mother used to make me sweep the kitchen floor with!”
“Revenge at last!”
“Sweet, sweet revenge! Muahahahahahaha!”
The Slytherin girl who Calvin had talked to in the Great Hall that one time approached them once they were outside.
“Well if it isn’t the pack of mudblood lovers and their pet mudbloods,” she sneered.
Ron’s face twisted into a rictus of fury as he stepped forward, but Calvin cut him off.
“You know, I’d try to come up with a good retort, but it seems your parents have already done me the trouble.” He held up his hands to make himself look like the letter ‘Y.’ “I mean, Pansy, really? Some religions say that parents have prophecy when they name their kids, and I’m beginning to believe it.”
As she stalked away, fuming, Harry turned to Ron.
“What’s a mudblood?” he asked, eyeing the Slytherin group as they whispered and pointed in their direction. Malfoy was at the back, silent and brooding.
Ron struggled to get himself under control. “It’s just about the worst insult there is. It means someone whose parents are both muggles.”
“That’s worse than having your parents name you Pansy?” Calvin said dubiously, raising an eyebrow.
“Ron, don’t let the Slytherins ruin the class where you get to fly,” Hermione said, putting a hand on his still trembling shoulder.
He breathed out quickly. “You’re right. I’m sorry, guys, but if another Slytherin ever calls you that again I think I’m going to jump them.”
“We’ll hold them down,” Harry answered with a grin.
“We will do no such thing!” Hermione said crossly. “Violence is not the right way to go about solving conflicts like this!”
“Fine, calm down, there won’t be any violence,” Calvin assured her. Then he leaned over to the two wizards and whispered, “Porcupines in their beds sound good to you?”
Madam Hooch, their flying instructor, had short gray hair and actual yellow eyes. When she walked out onto the grass, she shouted, “All right, enough socializing! Everybody line up beside a broom!”
There were broomsticks set out on the ground, around twenty in all, with spaces of about three feet between each one. The broomsticks didn’t look to be in great condition, some of them missing most of their twigs from the back end.
“Do these things even have seat belts?” asked Calvin, looking at the broom he was standing next to.
“What’s a seat belt?” replied Ron, rubbing his sweaty palms on the sides of his robe.
“Do they have any sort of protection or emergency stop?”
“Um, no, I don’t think so.”
Calvin grinned maniacally. “Good. All those years of toboggan and sled riding taught me that anything with a break or an airbag isn’t half as fun.”
“I have no clue what you just said,” the gangly wizard told him evenly.
“Now I want everyone to place their right hand in the air over their broom handles!” barked Madam Hooch from in front of them. “And say ‘Up!'”
There was a messy chorus of ‘Up’s, and Calvin watched as Harry’s broom leapt into his hand. His was about the only one, though – most of the other students had to keep repeating the word until their brooms shakily rose through the air.
“Rise, my eldritch creation!” Calvin commanded his broom. “Rise, and grant me the ability of flight! Rise, and let me use you for your power!” His evil cackle was cut off when Ron, who had finally gotten his broom to listen, interrupted him.
“Mate, you’re supposed to say ‘Up.'”
“I have to get into the right mood,” Calvin told him. “There has to be a certain…atmosphere.” He looked down at the broom and raised his voice. “I will give you life, and in return you will serve me, and only me! I will give you life, and you will give it back with your service! I will give you life, and you-”
“We are waiting for you, Mr. Calvin!” yelled Madam Hooch. Indeed, everyone had their brooms in hand by now, and were all looking down the line to where he was speaking to his own.
Calvin cleared his throat loudly. “Rise, my faithful servant, and carry me to the heavens! UP!” The broom shot up with the force of a cannonball, slapping into his palm and continuing its journey. He was quickly carried off the ground as he gripped the broom handle tightly.
“Get back here, boy!” the flying instructor shouted at him.
“Houston, we have a negative on that orbit trajectory,” Calvin noted as he rose higher and higher.
Then he noticed he was flying. “THE INTREPID SPACEMAN SPIFF HURTLES THROUGH THE SKY OVER FOREIGN TERRAIN!” he screamed excitedly. He shifted his grip and the broom dipped and started forward, slowly gaining speed. “AS IF MURPHY HIMSELF WERE GAZING DOWN UPON OUR HERO, A FUSION THRUSTER SEEMS TO HAVE FAILED AT THE MOST INOPPORTUNE OF TIMES!” He quickly lost altitude, and the rest of the students dove out of the way as he neared the ground. “SPIFF IS GOING DOWN! IS THIS THE END FOR OUR FAVORITE SPACE EXPLORER EXTRAORDINAIRE!?” Right before impact his eyes locked with those of a boy who had apparently been too surprised to follow the rest of the fleeing students. Calvin’s hand slipped off the broom handle. “COLLISION IN T MINUS-“
“Oh, I’ve done worse than this, believe me,” Calvin told Madam Pomfrey as she checked him over with a few diagnostic spell. “I’ve fallen down stairs, hills, cliffs, gorges – just about everything, really. You name it, I’ve managed to collide with the bottom of it.”
“I…see. I suppose that means I’m going to be seeing you a lot this year?”
“I sure hope not- no offense, of course, it’s nothing personal, hospitals just aren’t my favorite places. Even if it is a Hospital Wing.”
“Well, everything seems to be in working order, though I’ve no idea how that’s possible…” the bustling medi-witch said, glancing over at the end of the room where a white curtain surrounded another occupied bed. “Considering that Neville has two broken arms, a cracked rib, a sprained ankle, a twisted knee-cap, and a concussion.”
“Wow, really?” said Calvin, eyes wide. “I had no idea my head was that hard.”
She frowned at him and left to check on Neville.
“Spaceman Spiff does it again!” Calvin said happily, bringing his hands together over his head and shaking them. “A miraculous landing, and only one injured civilian! That’s down nine from the last count, folks!”
Madam Pomfrey told him that he had to stay in the Hospital Wing overnight, even though there was nothing visibly or technically wrong with him, ‘as per regulations.’ And because she still thought it was strange that he hadn’t been hurt at all.
Calvin was pleasantly surprised when Harry, Ron, and Hermione came into the Hospital Wing later that evening with plates of food from the Great Hall. He leapt out of bed and quickly went over to relieve them of their wonderful-smelling burdens.
“Are you…sure you’re injured, mate?” Ron said, eyeing him as he hopped back onto his bed and began devouring the offerings.
“I’m sure that I’m not,” Calvin replied, slurping a string bean from the end of his fork.
“Then why are you still here?” Harry asked, sitting down on the chair next to the bed.
Calvin shrugged. “Hogwarts regulations.”
“Oh yes,” Hermione said, “I read in Hogwarts, A History – it’s ever such an informative book, really – that anyone visiting the Hospital Wing who stays there for over two hours past noon must remain there for at least one night. You are staying here tonight, right?”
He nodded. “Anything interesting happen after I left?”
Ron grinned widely and glanced at Harry. “You want to tell him, or can I?”
With a delayed smile, as if snapping out of some introspection or something, Harry replied, “You can if you really want to.”
“Great. Okay so there we were, Madam Hooch had just dragged you two off to the-”
“-Wait, us two? Who else fell from the sky besides me?”
Ron blinked at him. “You fell directly on top of Neville. Knocked him right over like a human bludger – nice aim, really, I’m quite impressed.”
“Then where is he now?”
“I’m right here, guys,” said a voice from Calvin’s left.
“Gahh! What did I tell you about narrating yourself in!”
“Hello, Neville, how are you feeling?” Hermione asked the round-faced boy, raising an eyebrow at Calvin.
“Okay, I guess. Wish I got to fly, though. Also I can’t feel my left hand.”
“I think Gorfe and Derg can get you an extra,” Calvin said helpfully.
“What is it with you and not saying my brothers’ names correctly?” Ron asked, shaking his head. “Anyway, Madam Hooch took you and Neville-”
“-Neville too? What happened to him?” asked Calvin curiously.
“You crashed into me!” yelled a voice from off to his left.
“Neville, when did you get here!? Sheesh, at least announce yourself or something, you’re gonna give me heart attack. You were saying, Ron?”
Harry reached over to close Ron’s mouth, chuckling dryly and shaking his head.
“Right, so – Madam Hooch told us to all stay put and not use our brooms, or we’d be expelled, then left with you and- then left with you.” Ron smiled wickedly. “This is where it gets good. You see, Neville had gotten this thing called a Remembrall from his gran this morning, and when you knocked him off his feet-”
“-I did what!?”
“-it must’ve fallen out of his pocket. It had landed next to Malfoy, who picked it up and was looking at it, trying to figure out what it was.” Ron jerked his thumb in Harry’s direction. “Then Harry tells him it’s Neville’s, and asks for it back so we could give it to Neville later. Malfoy get’s this sort of constipated look before glancing around at the rest of the Slytherins, and that ugly girl who always hangs around him laughs in a really annoying, high-pitched voice and asks why Malfoy would ever do that. Then the blond git gets real angry at Harry – way out of proportion, if you ask me, it’s not like Harry told him to stick the Remembrall up his-”
“Ron!” Hermione cut him off, glaring warningly.
“Right, sorry Hermione. So Malfoy’s almost fuming, and he growls ‘I can’t do that, Potter,’ then tells that ape Goyle to get on his broom! I mean, can you believe him!? Anyway, the oaf climbs onto his broom and Malfoy hands him the Remembrall with some instructions I couldn’t hear. Harry loudly tells him to hand it over, but Goyle kicks off and soars up just about as high as the castle walls! So Harry, ignoring Hermione’s pleas, gets on his own broom as Goyle chucks the Remembrall as far as he can, which is pretty far considering he’s about about as big as a small troll, and easily just as ugly – I don’t think he has any siblings, but I can guess why, I mean his parents must-”
“Are we talking about Goyle’s family, or what happened after Calvin left?” questioned Harry, peering at Ron.
“I was getting to it. So as Goyle throws the Remembrall and starts back down, Harry mounts his broom. Now, the Remembrall’s already in the air, and headed for the far wall – it looked like it might’ve been headed over, if not for the wind – and Harry is just getting onto his broom, so there’s no chance he’s going to make it in time.” The redhead took a breath, then said dramatically. “Or so everyone thought. But Harry gets this determined look on his face and when he kicks off he’s leaning forward real low and he just blasts through the air! He was off like one of Fred and George’s firecrackers, it was unreal! He reaches the wall in about a second and then dives, following the Remembrall right towards the ground. He catches up to it and grabs it, then pulls up about a foot from the ground, and tumbles off his broom onto the grass. Malfoy had this funny expression like he wasn’t sure what to say.” Ron sighed. “You should’a seen it, mate. It was right wicked.”
“As soon as I got to my feet,” Harry picked up the story. “I heard Professor McGonagall shout my name. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. She told me to follow her into the castle – I was sure I was about to be expelled, and I think everyone else thought so too. As I passed Draco, I think – I’m not sure – but I think I heard him mutter something under his breath. He wouldn’t even meet my eye.”
“Probably so ashamed you had him beat,” Ron said smugly.
“I- I’m not so sure,” Harry replied, wrinkling his forehead.
“What’d he say?” asked Hermione, never one to leave potential knowledge untouched.
“It sounded like ‘sorry.'”
“You’re hearing things, mate,” Ron told him. “A Malfoy would never apologize, least of all to a Gryffindor, and the one who foiled his plan at that.”
“Yeah, maybe,” said Harry with a frown. “Anyway, what happened next was the best part, really. I walked with Professor McGonagall over to Flitwick’s classroom, and she asked him if she could ‘borrow Wood.’ I was so confused, I thought she might be getting a cane to punish me with.”
Hermione gasped. “Harry, that’s awful! Professor McGonagall would never do something like that!”
“I know, I know, I wasn’t thinking straight. It turns out Wood is Oliver Wood, a fifth-year and head of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I’m going to be Gryffindor’s seeker!” He smiled as Ron punched him lightly in the shoulder.
“Youngest seeker in a century,” the redheaded boy said proudly.
Calvin, who was just finishing up his dinner, looked confused. “What’s a seeker?”
Ron gaped while Harry explained, “Oh, yeah, I didn’t know what a seeker was either until Wood explained it to me – basically, there’s this tiny little ball with wings called the Golden Snitch, and it flies around the field throughout the game. My job is to catch it.”
“What happens if you catch it?” Calvin asked, licking his knife and ignoring Hermione’s ‘You really shouldn’t do that’ look. “Do you get to give the other seeker a noogie?”
“Well do you at least get to take the other guy’s broom?”
“No, that’s against the rules!” Ron said, annoyed. “He gets one-hundred-and-fifty points for his team, and the game is over.”
“Oh.” Calvin thought about that for a moment. “Doesn’t sound all that interesting to me, even for a sport – watching two guys look for a golden ball? The Easter egg hunt isn’t a spectator sport, and Quidditch shouldn’t be either.”
“What? They’re not the only people on the field!” said Ron. “They’re just the only people looking for the Snitch. Then you’ve got the three chasers for each team, who have to get the quaffle – that’s the biggest of the balls – through one of the three hoops at the opponent’s end of the stadium. And then there’s the beaters – that’s the twins, for Gryffindor’s team – who knock around the bludgers – those’re these two solid balls that are bewitched to fly around trying to knock people off their brooms. They keep them away from their teammates and hit ’em towards the other team’s players. That’s Quidditch. Best sport in the world,” the gangly redhead finished.
“So it’s sort of like two different games going on at the same time? That’s kinda cool. How many points do you get for scoring a waffle goal, three hundred? Four hundred?”
“Ha!” scoffed Ron. “That would make for an insanely high-scoring game. No, each quaffle goal is ten points.”
“…Ten? Are you sure?”
“What do you mean am I sure? Of course.”
Calvin scratched his head. “If you say so. And you said that catching the Snitch thing ends the game?”
“That’s right, until the Snitch is caught the game keeps going – in professional Quidditch, there’s been games that went on for months.”
“So what happens if the seeker catches the Snitch right at the beginning of the game?” Calvin asked, licking his entire plate clean and ignoring yet another look from Hermione.
“Well, the game’s over,” Ron answered, shrugging.
“But what about the chasers doing the waffle thing? They don’t get to play?”
“It’s quaffle, and not if the game ended, no.”
“That’s not fair. It doesn’t seem like anybody really cares about anything but what the seekers do.” Calvin smiled crookedly. “I’m going to have to teach you guys a real fun game.”
Ron started backing away, hands held out in front of him. “No thanks, not interested. Anything you think is ‘fun’ is bound to end up with me at the bottom of the lake or stuck in a tree or something.”
“Oh, come on, I listened to you explain Quidditch – you have to at least try it!”
“He will,” Harry said. “We all will, right, guys?”
“I don’t do sports,” Hermione said quickly.
“That’s okay, neither do I,” replied Calvin brightly. “It’s a game, not a sport.”
“So what’s this game called?” asked Harry.
Calvin rubbed his hands together comically and looked off into the distance, cackling. “Calvinball.”
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