Chapter 16: Aurors and Brooms
|Chapter 15||Chapter Index||Chapter 17|
Harry and Ron sat across from each other at the Burrow kitchen table. The breakfast dishes were busily scrubbing themselves in the sink. Different sections of the Daily Prophet lay spread on the table. Ron gazed intently at the sports section.
Greetings sports fans. The next round of the Quidditch player draft begins on July 6th. My crystal ball, the one that correctly predicted the outcome of the Ireland vs. Bulgaria World Cup of '94, suggests some interesting possibilities. If the current rhetoric between teams is any indication, the second round selections promise to be a bombastically brutal, beater-batting, bludger brain-bashing battle like no other.
In a distressed tone of voice, Ron said, "If the Cannons could just get Warren."
"Didn't you say Mercer would be a better fit?"
"Yeah, but the Wasps choose before the Cannons. They'd be mental not to pick him. Warren has pretty good stats and has an incredible low level inverted sprint."
"But Mercer is really good with the bat. And Ginny said Warren has attitude problems; he's pompous and ego centric."
"Yeah, she's right about that."
"Pass me the front page, I haven't read it yet."
Ron handed the first few pages of the Daily Prophet to Harry.
Kingsley Shacklebolt Minister of Magic!
Amid ongoing uncertainty in the Wizarding World, and with little fanfare, Kingsley Shacklebolt was officially sworn in by the Wizengamot as the twenty-third Minister of Magic. In a brief statement, the new Minister vowed to continue ongoing efforts to apprehend all known followers of the Dark Lord still at large. Minister Shacklebolt stated: "Trusted members of the Auror department are reviewing all Ministry personnel. Where facts suggest criminal intent, the Wizengamot will determine if prosecution is warranted. I ask everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the Aurors immediately."
Minister Shacklebolt further stated that pureblood laws enacted by the previous administration are suspended stating: "Blood status will never again be used to determine the moral character of a witch, wizard or sentient magical being. Those unjustly charged with a crime under those laws will be exonerated. I ask for your patience and encourage those who fled the country to return home and help rebuild our world."
Minister Shacklebolt affirmed that the rebuilding effort for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is well underway. "The Ministry is working with Headmistress McGonagall to ready the school for classes in September. Students will be invited by owl to resume their academic studies. Makeup lessons for this past year will also be available. I encourage all students to complete formal education in their chosen career. Now more than ever, we need your ideas and perspectives to help make our world whole again."
The faint sound of a whoosh and a pop announced the arrival of someone in the Weasley backyard. Ron folded the sports section. As he stood, the kitchen door opened and Hermione stepped inside.
"Good morning Ron," said Hermione giving him a quick hug. "Good morning Harry."
"Hi Hermione," said Harry. He folded the Prophet as Hermione and Ron sat down at the table.
"Isn't it wonderful what the Prophet is saying about Kingsley?" said Hermione.
"He's not wasting any time," said Ron. "Dad said Kingsley's ordered the immediate release of sixty-three inmates who were unjustly sent to Azkaban."
"That's wonderful," said Hermione. "He's going to be a great Minister of Magic."
"I think so too," said Harry.
"So are the two of you ready for your day?" said Hermione.
"I sure am," said Harry. "I didn't expect it would take this long."
"Yeah, me too," said Ron. "You'd think that with all we did, they'd know us fairly well by now. What are you and Ginny going to do while were testing? It could take a few hours."
"We're going to the Department of Magical Transportation. Ginny wants to take an apparition lesson." In a sarcastic tone she said, "Apparently, the Ministry deemed that Hogwarts apparition training wasn't necessary last year."
Harry said, "No surprise there. Ginny said lessons at Hogwarts were really bad last year."
"Hi Hermione," said Ginny as she stepped into the kitchen.
"Good morning Ginny, ready for your lesson?"
"Yes, I think so." Her eyes narrowed in concentration. "Destination, determination, and deliberation." Then with an anxious expression said, "I hope I don't splinch myself."
"I'm sure you'll do fine," said Molly as she stepped into the kitchen.
Molly looked at Ron and Harry with a concerned expression. "Are you both quite sure about your decision?"
"Yes Mum," said Ron. "We've talked about it and think it's the right thing to do."
"Yeah and they're really shorthanded right now," said Harry. "There must be loads of muggle-borns still in hiding because they don't feel safe. Maybe we can help change that."
"Well, I don't like it but Arthur and I support your decision. You both must do what you think is right. Just promise me you'll mind your lessons and be careful."
"We will Mum," said Ron.
In a menacing tone, Ginny said, "You'll both have a lot of explaining to do if you don't."
"That goes for me too," said Hermione with a stern look in her eyes.
Ron looked at Harry. "I reckon dark wizards will be easy compared to these three."
"Definitely," smiled Harry. "Well, we best be off to the Ministry."
"Time's up gentleman," said a stocky wizard seated at a desk. The nameplate on the desk read 'Rupert Watkins'.
Harry and Ron stood and brought forward the parchments they had been working on.
"The combat skills assessment will be your final evaluation. Take a break and I'll meet you back here in fifteen minutes."
Harry and Ron made their way through the common area and out into the hall. They continued walking toward the far end.
"Blimey," said Ron. "That was like year-end exams at Hogwarts."
"How do you think you did?" said Harry.
"Dark arts defense was a no brainer. And I knew most of the potions and transfiguration questions. But I've never heard of some of those potions. How do you think you did?"
"I think I did okay. The time I spent with Snape's Advanced Potions book sure helped. I reckon that some of those questions were from seventh year studies."
"Which did you pick for the illegally charmed object?"
"The muggle door knocker that bites your fingers and tells you to go away. What did you pick?"
"The boot that kicks your bum if you stand too close. What did you pick for the cursed object?"
"Yeah, just being near it made me feel irritable."
"Okay gentleman," said Watkins. "This portkey will transport you to the Auror training grounds near Ravenscar. Make your way to the far end of Jugger Howe. Find the stone statue of Auror Moody and touch it to return here. Defend against all attackers. Your combined score will be based on the amount of force used in each challenge. The less force used, the better your score. Are there any questions?"
Harry and Ron glanced at each other with firm resolve. Ron gave a single nod to Harry and took hold of his wand.
"No questions," said Harry. Watkins took a few steps back.
Taking hold of his wand, Harry said, "On three. One ... two ... three ..."
The room whirled around in a blur as they were pulled away.
Landing in a small clearing surrounded by trees, they immediately crouched down. They were on a narrow path next to a large boulder. The path led up a rise and disappeared into the silence of the trees. Ron waved his wand in a circle around them and a disillusionment bubble formed. Then, they quickly moved forward to one of the large trees along the edge of the path.
"Homenum Revelio!" said Harry in a whisper and quickly swept the area around them. "There's someone behind and two others further up that path."
Harry lay is wand on his open hand and whispered, "Point Me!" The wand rotated and stopped. "The path leads northwest."
Ron pointed and whispered, "That tree about fifty paces ahead at eleven o'clock looks good."
"Okay, I'll make the first move," whispered Harry. They touched wands and Harry whispered, "Memoamici!"
Ron pointed his wand toward the far side of the boulder. A shadow moved across the boulder followed by a snapping sound. At the same instant, Harry disapparated. A stunning spell, shot from amid the trees, impacted on the boulder causing a shower of sparks.
Harry apparated close to the tree and slipped behind it. He circled his wand around him whispering, "Salvio Hexia!" Then he swept the area. The two humans ahead were still in place but the one behind had moved closer to Ron. He quickly looked ahead and saw a secure area, about fifty paces away, by a large tree on the right side of the path.
Harry pointed his wand at a cone in a nearby tree and whispered, "Avifor!" The cone transformed into a bird with red breast feathers. It circled once and then flew toward the tree. Landing on a high branch, it called out in a loud tweeting chirp three times. Harry turned back toward the boulder and pointed his wand at the bushes behind it. He whispered, "Protego!" and then, "Flecto!" The bushes wavered and crackled as if someone were passing through them. Another stunning spell shot from the trees toward the bushes but it deflected harmlessly away. Holding his wand in his open hand, Harry whispered, "Point Ron!" His wand rotated and pointed toward the tree fifty paces ahead.
Ron crouched low and swept the area. There were now two human presences behind and one in front. The trees were much thinner here. He could see a derelict guard shack, with many missing and broken boards, about forty paces ahead. There was another rise about a hundred paces beyond where the lone human presence was located. There was a volley of stunning spells from behind and Ron quickly whispered, "Point Harry!" Harry had not moved from his place by the tree.
Ron whispered, "Expecto Patronum!" An instant later, his Terrier patronus appeared. "Harry, shack forty paces, eleven o'clock, three seconds." The Terrier sped away. Ron pointed his wand toward a large tree just beyond the boulder where they had started. Ron whispered, "Arbus Asperet!" There was a loud crack and one of the large branches fell to the ground in a thundering crash.
Ron saw Harry materialize close to the shack and then move quickly toward it for cover. As he did, the loud siren-like sound of a caterwauling charm went off. Ron pointed his wand at the shack and said, "Silencio!" The caterwauling stopped but Harry and Ron knew it had compromised the secrecy of their position. Ron waved his wand in a circle and vanished from sight.
Harry quickly swept the area. The two humans behind were quickly moving toward Ron's position. Ahead and on the left of the rise was a human presence. On the right side of the rise, there appeared to be a defensible position behind the remains of a low stone wall. Harry pointed his wand at the wall and said, "Finite Incantatem!" Then he disapparated just before a stunning spell hit the shack.
Harry apparated behind the wall and crouched low as a stunning spell flew over his head. Pointing his wand skyward, a green and red spark shot into the sky. An instant later, Ron apparated beside him and quickly crouched down. Harry circled his wand. "Protego Totalum!" Two more stunning spells flew over their heads.
Ron pointed his wand back toward the shack. "Impedimenta!"
"There's the statue," said Harry pointing over the wall.
About fifteen paces away, in the middle of the rise, stood a life sized stone rendition of Mad-Eye Moody. With heavy cloak and wand in hand, the deeply scarred stone face looked out across the grounds toward the shack. The face was etched with the probing stare and untrusting expression they remembered.
From the other side of the rise, a stunning spell shot past the statue and impacted on the wall in front of them. A dense cloud of dust billowed up in front of them. Then an instant later, a hooded decomposing corpse rose up. It wore a cloak of rippling black cloth that hooded over its head. Harry hesitated for a moment, looking at the slimy-grey and scabbed face that had only sockets for eyes. He felt no coldness or emptiness of despair.
Harry smiled and pointed his wand at the figure. "Riddikulus!" The dementor changed into a large round woman blown up like a fat balloon. The head was tinted red with squinting eyes and puffed out cheeks. The short hands and feet wiggled in futility as the figure bobbed and twisted. Then, the mouth opened in a shriek. A stream of hot air blasted out causing the figure to zigzag away past the statue. Reaching the other side of the rise, it changed into Mad-Eye Moody. A moment later, the figure of Mad-Eye turned into a giant soap bubble and then popped out of existence.
Stunning spells fired from below hit the shield charm around Harry and Ron. The stuns deflected harmlessly away. The shield charm weakened but held firm.
"They've got us pinned down," said Ron. "I don't see a defensible position that gets us any closer." A stunning spell from the other side of the rise hit the shield charm.
"We need to make the statue come to us," said Harry. "But it looks too heavy to levitate."
Two stunning spells hit the shield. Then, in a simultaneous flash of insight, Harry and Ron looked at each other with the expression of realization on their faces.
"Do you think it'll work?" said Ron as another stunning spell hit the shield. "Might be just Hogwarts magic."
"Let's find out." They pointed their wands at the statue. An instant later Harry said, "Now."
"Piertotum Locomotor!" they said together.
There was a rumble and the statue turned to face them.
"Come here!" shouted Ron.
Amid a barrage of stunning spells, the statue of Mad-Eye walked toward them. Glaring down at them with a menacing expression, the statue broke through the wall and stepped between them.
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Harry said, "Now."
They each reach out and touched the statue just as two stunning spells hit the shield and the charm collapsed. The surroundings whirled around in a blur as they were pulled away.
They found themselves once again in the room with Watkins. A meeting table and chairs were now present.
"Well done gentleman, be seated and relax. We will review your test scores and performance shortly."
Watkins pointed his wand at the table and two glasses filled from a pitcher of ice water. Then he hurried out of the room. Harry and Ron lightly bumped the fist of their right hands in congratulatory celebration and then sat down.
"Reckon we did okay?" said Ron.
"Yeah, we met the objective," said Harry. "Some of it was a bit dicey though."
"Yeah, if only ..." Ron's voice trailed off as Watkins came back into the room carrying some parchment. He sat down at the table across from them.
Watkins looked at Harry and Ron. "Do either of you wish to hear your test results privately?"
They both shook their heads. Harry said, "No, we're mates."
"Okay then, let's begin with the written tests. Mister Potter, your score is exceeds expectations. Your written evaluation indicates strength in deductive reasoning. You are exceedingly knowledgeable of muggle perspectives and behaviors. Identification of cursed and hexed objects is also excellent. You are weakest in transfiguration. Additional coursework in this area, including the study of animagi, is necessary.
Mister Weasley, you scored exceeds expectations on your written evaluation. Hands-on creativity is an indicated strength. You are very knowledgeable in dark arts defense, improper use of magic and muggle behaviors. Identification of cursed and hexed objects is excellent. You are weakest in potions. Additional coursework in this area is necessary.
Overall, you both scored above average for new recruits. With your consent, I will send your test scores to Hogwarts so that your seventh year studies can be more clearly focused."
Harry and Ron nodded. Watkins slipped the parchments into an envelope and wrote Outgoing owl, Headmistress McGonagall, Hogwarts. As he was doing this, three paper planes zoomed into the room and landed on the table. Watkins touched the envelope with his wand. The envelope folded itself into a paper plane and then zoomed out of the room.
Watkins touched each of the paper planes with his wand. They each unfolded and stacked themselves neatly in front of him. He picked up the top parchment and read aloud.
"I rate them both excellent in teamwork. Each looked out for the safety of the other. They both kept their cool when pinned down. They are well skilled in defensive magic and used an acceptable level of force for each challenge. I rate them above average in the use of diversionary tactics and keeping themselves under cover. Their solution to the final challenge is admirable. I recommend they both be accepted into the Auror training program. Auror Sanders."
Harry and Ron glanced at each other with a small smile as Watkins picked up the next parchment.
"Each candidate demonstrated a good sense of what was needed for each challenge. Good coordination of effort and overall teamwork, though use of a communication patronus under fire is generally unwise. There were multiple instances of apparition before checking the destination security but neither candidate took a direct hit as a result. Their solution to the final challenge was innovative. As entry-level candidates, I rate them above average and recommend they be accepted into the Auror training program. Auror Marshall."
Watkins picked up the last parchment.
"Their situational assessments and actions during the evaluation were consistent with what I witnessed of them during the recent battle at Hogwarts. Without question, each candidate is loyal to the highest ideals of both the wizard and muggle worlds. External to this evaluation, I add a special note of commendation for their actions in helping to thwart an attempted attack on the Ministry by dark forces. I recommend they both be accepted into the Auror training program. Auror Shacklebolt."
Watkins slid the evaluations into a folder. Then he said, "Mister Potter, Mister Weasley, do either of you wish to make a comment about your evaluations today?"
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Then Harry said, "Thanks for the chance to try out."
"Thank you," said Watkins. "Based on these evaluations, you are each well qualified for admission to the Auror training program. Congratulations."
Harry and Ron high-fived each other and then clasped hands around each other's thumb.
Watkins said, "If it is still your desire to join the ranks, follow me and we'll tend to your swearing in."
They followed Watkins out of the room and through a maze of passages. They reached an informal auditorium-like room with the flags of many different countries along both side walls. A large map of the world covered the entire front wall. The map contained different colored spots of light that were randomly blinking. Below the map was a stage-like area, about a step higher. A small podium, with the official Ministry seal mounted on the front, stood left of center. Many chairs, each with a small writing table attached, faced the front of the room. A number of Aurors sat randomly around the room, some busily writing in notebooks. Watkins motioned for Harry and Ron to sit in the front row and then hurried off.
A moment later, Watkins returned followed by Kingsley, Auror Sanders and Auror Marshall. Harry and Ron glanced around as other Aurors and office workers began filing into the room and sitting in empty seats.
Kingsley stepped behind the podium. Auror Sanders and Auror Marshall stood behind him. Watkins stood on the right side facing Kingsley.
Kingsley said, "Will Mister Harry Potter and Mister Ronald Weasley please step forward."
Watkins motioned for Harry and Ron to stand beside him.
Kingsley said, "Are each of these candidates qualified to join the Auror ranks?"
"They are," said Watkins.
Kingsley turned to Auror Sanders. "Auror Sanders, do you accept Mister Potter as your apprentice and agree to act as guide and mentor during his training period?"
"Auror Marshall, do you accept Mister Weasley as your apprentice and agree to act as guide and mentor during his training period?"
Kingsley looked toward Harry and Ron. "Mister Potter and Mister Weasley, please raise your right hand."
"Do you solemnly swear to support and defend the laws of our wizarding world, bearing unto it your true faith and allegiance, and obey the lawful orders of your superiors and Minister of Magic?"
Together, Harry and Ron said, "I do."
Kingsley said, "You may lower your right hand. Will the sworn Aurors in the room please stand."
The Aurors stood and took out their wands. They each held their wand vertically in front of their face. Aurors Sanders and Auror Marshall did the same.
"Do you, sworn Aurors, pledge with your life, the defense of these candidates?"
"We do," said the Aurors in unison.
"Mister Potter and Mister Weasley," said Kingsley, "please take out your wand and hold it in salute of your brethren."
Harry and Ron each held their wand vertically in front of their face. Kingsley took out his wand and did the same.
Kingsley solemnly looked at Harry and Ron. "Do you each pledge with your life, the defense of your fellow Aurors?"
"We do," said Harry and Ron.
The tips of all the raised wands glowed and a thin red tendril of light joined each of them.
Kingsley said, "Fratres quoque copulabitur!" The tendrils glowed white and then dissolved.
Cheering and applause erupted. Many in the room came forward to shake the hands of Harry and Ron and introduce themselves.
Later at the Burrow, the four of them sat around the kitchen table eating lunch.
"Then they swore us in," said Ron between bites of his sandwich.
Hermione said, "Well it's good to hear you both scored so well in your evaluations."
"Thanks in part to all that defensive magic we came up with while on the run," said Harry.
Ginny said, "I think Mum will feel a little better about you becoming Aurors once she hears how well you did. What happens next?"
Ron pointed to a large black book on the table in front of him. "We go in for morning lessons each day."
"And help with reports," said Harry. "Kingsley wants to expedite the processing for those who were released from Azkaban."
"Just half days though," said Ron. "Kingsley said it's important that we stay evolved with the rebuilding effort and help keep an eye on things."
"That's good to hear," said Ginny looking at Harry.
Harry said, "So how did you get on with your apparition lesson?"
"Okay," smiled Ginny. "Thankfully, I didn't splinch myself."
"You did much better than just okay," smiled Hermione. "Professor Twycross would have certified you on the spot if you were of age."
"Tell us about it," said Harry.
"Well, he talked to me for a long time about the importance of the three D's." Ginny giggled, "You should have seen the look on Hermione's face when he started repeating the information for the third time."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly, I don't know how you put up with him. He was so patronizing and condescending with you."
Ginny nodded. "He put the hoop on the floor in front of me and said to concentrate. I looked at the hoop and just knew I could do it. I pictured myself standing inside the hoop and then ... there I was. I didn't feel queasy at all."
"She deliberated less than three seconds," said Hermione. "Professor Twycross was very impressed."
"Then, he put out three hoops and told me to apparate into each of them, like playing hopscotch. My right foot landed outside of the second hoop but I did okay with the others. He had me practice with more hoops all around the room. I think I've got the hang of it."
"That's fantastic Ginny," said Harry.
"Yeah sis, well done."
"Thanks. All that side along apparating we've done really helped me get used to the sensation. ... Well, I need to go to Hogwarts. The volunteer crew is meeting this afternoon to do work on the pitch. Harry, can you come with me?"
"Yeah." Harry looked at Ron and Hermione. "What are you two doing this afternoon?"
"I need to go to the Ministry law library for a while," said Hermione.
"I'll meet you there later," said Ron. "I need to go by the joke shop."
"Are you and George working on another product?" said Hermione. "You haven't said anything about what you're up to."
"Umm ... yeah ... well it's still very hush-hush," said Ron, his ears turning a bit red. "We're ah ... sorting out some of the details."
"Okay then," said Harry. "We'll see you later this evening."
Harry and Ginny stood, made their way to the fireplace, and then vanished in a flash of green light. Ron touched his wand to the Auror training books and they floated out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his room. Then Ron and Hermione walked out into the backyard. After a quick peck, they each disapparated.
Harry and Ginny made their way along the corridor at Hogwarts. As they turned the corner and stepped into the main entrance hall, they saw Headmistress McGonagall coming in from the grounds.
"Miss Weasley, Mister Potter," said McGonagall, "good day to each of you."
"Good afternoon professor," they both said together.
"Miss Weasley, the construction progress on the Quidditch pitch is most impressive. I am particularly pleased with the new entrance."
"Thank you. It was a little tricky for Ken and his crew to place some of the stones. But they came up with some special magic and it all came together. I can't say enough about their attention to detail, craftsmanship, and skills."
"I will pass along your complement to Minister Kingsley. He is following our restoration efforts with keen interest."
McGonagall looked at Harry. "Mister Potter, I received an owl from the Ministry. When you have a free moment, I'd like a private word with you about the upcoming term."
"Please excuse me then," said Ginny. "See you down at the pitch Harry." Then she hurried off toward the pitch.
McGonagall said, "I would like to congratulate you on the beginning of your career as an Auror. Your courage, skill, and integrity will be most beneficial to the Ministry and our magical world. I will review the Auror Department's recommended study curriculum and send you course information and book list as soon as possible."
"Thank you professor."
"As you are aware, house Quidditch was suspended last term. That being the case, you are the last officially selected Gryffindor team captain. It is customary to ask a returning captain if they wish to continue in that role for the upcoming school year. Do you desire to be Gryffindor team captain?"
He thought for a brief moment. "No professor. I want to focus on my studies and Auror apprenticeship."
"I thought that might be your response. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations for the next Gryffindor team captain?"
Harry smiled. "I can think of no one better qualified than Ginny."
"Agreed. Miss Weasley demonstrates admirable leadership qualities. I will send notification once the captain selection is finalized for all houses. Please do not mention this conversation until that time."
"I won't say a word about it. ... Professor, will other clubs and groups be able to meet again?"
"Each will be decided based on merit and the number of students who are interested. Extracurricular activities will help rebuild the trust of parents and students alike. Is there something you have in mind?"
"I'd like to help the D.A. become an official club at Hogwarts. I think it's important for students to know how to defend themselves. The club could also help students decide if an Auror career is right for them."
"I wholeheartedly agree. I would ask that membership be limited to those students who demonstrate integrity and are at least fifth year. Would I be able to count on you, in your capacity as an Auror, to mentor such a club?"
Harry smiled. "Yes professor. I'll see if Ron wants to help too."
"Very well. Let's meet again after start of term with those who will be the initial club officers."
"Thank you professor."
"Is there anything else we need to discuss?"
"No professor. I'd best be getting down to the pitch."
As Harry approached the entrance to the pitch, a massive stone archway came into view. The large boulders that had once littered the playing field were now stacked above and on both sides of the entrance. Deep carving in the stone arch proclaimed: Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch. Above the main pillars on each side, the figure of a Quidditch player lying low on a broom floated in the air. The two figures appeared to be on a collision course, each reaching out toward a snitch hovering at the peak of the arch.
The stone wall on each side of the entrance extended away for a short distance. Engraving on the right side showed the Hogwarts crest and motto. Surrounding the crest were the names of previous Hogwarts players who had signed with professional teams. On the left side, a large rectangular marquee was cut into the stone. The message on the marquee changed every few moments.
More sweat in practice, less blood in battle.
The magic to win comes from within.
Excellence is found by those who fly higher.
Harry moved forward beneath the arch and stopped just inside the entrance. Some of the volunteer workers caught sight of him, called out his name, and waved from the grandstands. Harry waved back. He saw Ginny standing a short distance away reading a parchment. A small owl rested lightly on her shoulder. He moved toward her.
Seeing Harry approach, Ginny spoke to the owl. The owl took flight and flew away toward the owlery.
"More donations," said Harry pointing at the parchment.
"Yes, from Ben Ollerton. A shop in Bradford returned some C-nines. Nobody really wants them because they aren't much better than the C-sevens."
"I remember reading that C-nines could be factory reformed with a new flight charm. Reckon Cleansweep never got that part to work."
"That's what I read too. Anyway, Ben is donating them to Hogwarts. Someone just needs to go and get them."
"At least it's a few more brooms. Can I go and fetch them for you?"
"Would you please? I need to be here at Hogwarts for the rest of the day."
"No problem. See you a bit later."
"Thanks." She gave him a quick kiss.
"Awwooo! Awwooo!" The wolf calls came from the grandstand above. Harry grinned as she rolled her eyes.
She smiled dryly and shook her head. Then looking toward the grandstand, she called out, "Urquhart, Vaisey, mind on your work. I want a good job."
Harry apparated by the side of a large warehouse and made his way to the door. A small bell on the door sounded as he stepped inside. A wizard, who sat behind a desk covered with boxes and stacks of parchment, glanced up. The wizard stared at him for a moment, his eyes becoming wide and his mouth half opened.
Harry stepped up to the desk. "Hi. I'm here to pick up some brooms for Hogwarts."
"Harry Potter?" said the wizard in disbelief. He stood and extended his hand. "A pleasure to meet you, I'm Ben Ollerton."
"Pleased to meet you too Ben," said Harry as they shook hands. "Ginevra is really busy with Hogwarts rebuilding. Hope you don't mind if I pick up your broom donation."
"No, not at all, right this way." Ben opened an interior door and they stepped onto the factory floor.
"This is really impressive," said Harry as they walked amid workers busily assembling brooms.
"Thank you. Did you play Quidditch at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, first through sixth years. I had a Firebolt the last few years. But unfortunately, it was destroyed."
"Sorry about your broom. In my day, Hogwarts considered brooms of that caliber too dangerous. They weren't allowed for inter-house games."
"My Godfather got it for me. Some of the players hope to be noticed by Quidditch scouts so they try to get the best broom. There's also a lot of broom intimidation that goes on between the house teams."
Ben smiled. "We did a fair amount of broom intimidation too."
They reached the back of the factory. "Just one moment," said Ben. He opened the door of a very large broom cupboard and stepped inside. Harry could see many bundles of brooms lining the walls and stacked on shelves. A moment later, Ben emerged carrying a bundle of brooms with both hands. Then he pushed the door closed with his foot.
"Inspection needs to look at these before you take them."
They walked toward a witch who sat in front of a long table. On the table, many brooms were neatly laid out side by side.
"My goodness," said the witch brushing dust from her work clothes. "Ben, you could have at least given me some advanced word."
Ben grinned. "Mister Potter, this is our chief broom inspector, Buffie Flawfeindur. She puts her official Cleansweep charm of approval on every broom that is sent out from this factory."
"A pleasure to meet you," said Harry as he extended his hand.
"An honor and pleasure to meet you," said Buffie as she shook his hand. "Thank you for all you have done."
Ben handed Buffie the bundle of brooms. "Please apply flight charm eleven-point-three to these C-nines and check that they are in good working order."
"Right away Ben." Buffie took the bundle of brooms and hurried off.
"Do you plan on replacing your Firebolt," said Ben.
"Not for a while; though I'd like to get a broom for Ginny. It's her seventh year and she wants to try out for the Gryffindor team."
"How well does she handle a broom?"
"Better than me, but don't tell her I said that."
"Your secret is safe with me," smiled Ben. "Can I trust you to keep a secret of mine?"
"Come with me. I want to show you something we're working on."
When they reached an imposing and secure looking door, Ben touched his wand to the doorknob. A number of lock clicks sounded and the door swung open. After they stepped inside, Ben closed and secured the door.
Ben pointed his wand toward an empty table in the middle of the room. "Developmentis Revelio!"
"Oh Merlin!" said Harry in a jaw-dropping tone of voice.
Above the table, now covered with all manner of instruments, floated a broom like nothing he had ever seen. The handle was dark polished mahogany and shaped in the graceful sweeping curve of a swan in flight. Golden scrollwork lettering on the handle read, Imperial. The bristles were ivory colored holly. A polished metal band of golden bronze, engraved with runes and delicate scrollwork, held the bristles to the handle. Two polished bronze footrests angled down and then curved forward. The head of an attacking dragon capped the end of each footrest and the red eyes glowed ominously.
"This is the Cleansweep Imperial. It uses a somewhat unorthodox design to improve acceleration, braking, and overall flight control. In testing, it has outperformed the Firebolt in speed and handling."
"It's magnificent. When will it be ready?"
"About a month. We begin broom certification with the Department of Magical Games and Sports in the next week or so."
"I'd like to get one. How much will it cost?"
"Three hundred galleons; fair price for the best broom you can get."
Harry swallowed. A greater appreciation for the immense sacrifice Sirius had made to give him a Firebolt came to mind. A grateful and humbling feeling welled up.
After a moment he said, "For that price, can you throw in another bundle of brooms for Hogwarts?"
He smiled and extended his hand. "Yes Mister Potter. I can do that."
Shaking hands Harry said, "Deal. Thanks Ben. Not a word of this to anyone, especially Ginevra."
"Not a word. I'll send you an owl when it's ready to be picked up. Let's go have another talk with Buffie."
A while later, after stepping outside with a small magically extended carrying bag slung over his shoulder, Harry disapparated.
Harry stepped onto the Hogwarts pitch and stopped just inside the stone arch. Near the center of the pitch, Ginny and Ken were facing the east side. Ken held a large parchment in his hand and they were discussing something. Every so often, Ken or Ginny would point toward the east side. The collapsed team room was gone and the construction for the new one was well underway. The east side grandstands looked to be mended but craftsmen were still working on the support structure.
Harry saw Ken and Ginny nod to each other. Ken rolled up the parchment and then pointed his wand at his throat. "That's all for today gentlemen," came the sound of Ken's amplified voice. "Same time tomorrow morning." A number of small pops sounded as Ken and the workers disapparated.
Harry walked out to where Ginny stood.
"What do you think?" said Ginny gesturing toward the east side.
"It looks great. Is that the new kickoff platform in front of the team room?"
"Yes. The west side will have one just like it."
"Excellent. Have the volunteer workers gone home for the day?"
"Yes, a while ago. Those two Slytherins, always joking. So how many brooms did you get from Ben?"
Ginny gasped, "Fourteen! That's fantastic, even if they're only C-nines. How did you get that many?"
"Oh, just a bit of friendly conversation. But the brooms are more than C-nine. The ability to reform the flight charm really exists. Ben said very few bother to send in their broom. He originally thought it would help players make the most of a broom purchase. But with broom styles changing so often, he said most players just trade in their old broom for a new one."
"So what are they?"
"C-eleven point three. Just like a C-eleven but with improved upright to inverted roll control."
"Brilliant, let's give 'em a go."
"I was hoping you'd say that."
Harry set the bag on the ground. He carefully withdrew a broom and handed it to Ginny. As she examined it, Harry withdrew a second broom.
"From the looks of it, you'd think it's just a C-seven." She mounted the broom and kicked off.
"Whoa!" exclaimed Ginny as she quickly rose up and hovered ten feet in the air.
"Bit more than you expected?"
"Yes, it's very responsive." She inched forward, then backward, then left and right getting the feel of the broom. She pivoted and rolled in each direction a few times.
Harry kicked off and rose up beside her. "Yeah, it feels a lot like my old Firebolt."
Ginny leaned forward and accelerated away. Harry followed a short distance behind. They zigzagged across the pitch, did loops and rolls, and sprinted the length of the pitch a few times. Then they returned to the carrying bag on the ground.
"Harry, these are really good brooms. Ben was very generous to donate them to Hogwarts. I'd like to thank him with more than just an owl."
"Maybe you could put some kind of mention about Cleansweep brooms on the marquee."
"Yeah, that's a great idea. C'mon, let's get these brooms into safe storage and then have a word with McGonagall about the marquee."
|Chapter 15||Chapter Index||Chapter 17|
This is an original fan fiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fan fiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.
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Last Updated: 10/29/17