After lunch we had History of Magic, so it didn’t really get much better. It was taught by a ghost, Professor Binns, who had fallen asleep by the staff room fire and gotten up the next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him. I think he was going over his own class notes when they just bored him to death. He droned on in a dull, monotonous voice while we wrote down names and dates, and got Emeric the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up. Seemed like this was another class I’d have to learn by the book on my own.
Charms the next day wasn’t too bad. It was taught by Professor Flitwick, Head of Ravenclaw, who was this little wizard, who must have been at least part goblin. He had to stand on a pile of books just to see over his own desk. The most interesting thing that happened in that class was when he was doing roll call and he reached Harry’s name, he gave an excited high-pitched squeak and toppled out of sight.
I was right to think that Professor McGonagall would not be a teacher you wanted to cross. She was very brilliant and strict. “Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts,” she said as soon as everyone sat down in their seats. “Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.”
She had us write a bunch of complicated notes before we were allowed to try the spell to turn a match into a needle. She transformed into a tabby cat, which was totally wicked, and stalked through the aisles a few times before jumping onto her desk.
Suddenly the door burst open before Ron and Harry walked briskly down the middle aisle to find an empty seat. Ron sighed loudly, “Finally, we made it. Can you imagine the look on McGonagall’s face if we were late?” Yeah, about that. McGonagall jumped off her desk and transformed back into herself midair and walked up to the pair of them. Their jaws dropped. “That was bloody brilliant!” Ron exclaimed and I had to agree. “Well, thank you for that assessment Mr. Weasley. Perhaps it would be more useful if I were to transfigure Mr. Potter and yourself into a pocket watch, that one of you might be on time.”
“We got lost.” Harry said in defense.
“Then perhaps a map.” She retorted. “I trust you don’t need one to find your seats.”
When we were done writing our notes for the day, we were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. By the end of the lesson Hermione was the only one who made any real difference to her match; Professor McGonagall showed the rest of the class how it had gone all silver and pointy and gave Hermione a rare smile. My match was pointy, but still wooden.
Neville’s favorite class was Herbology, of course, where we learned how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi that were in the greenhouses behind the castle. It was taught by a portly little witch called Professor Sprout, who was also the Head of Hufflepuff House.
Nothing really interesting happened until we came down the stairs on Saturday and saw a notice that must have been pinned up the night before in the Gryffindor common room that stated that flying lessons would be starting on Thursday at three thirty. The only problem with that is that we would be learning with the Slytherins. Great, just what I need. To hear Malfoy brag some more about how good of a flier he is...blah, blah, blah.
Gran never let Nev and I near brooms because of our track record with accidents. I mean, I know she has a point, we are danger magnets, but I was still really excited to learn how to fly. Nev didn’t really share my excitement. In fact, he was out right terrified. Hermione was also scared that there was something that she couldn’t learn from a book, not to say that she didn’t try. Once Thursday came around she was bombarding us with tips that she got from Quidditch Through the Ages in the library. Nev was hanging onto her every word, while everyone else tried to ignore her rambling as they were eating breakfast.
I was busy day dreaming what it would actually feel like to fly. The wind blowing through my hair, my feet dangling over the sides of the broomstick. I think that feeling of exhilaration would completely outweigh anything Malfoy could say, even if I face planted afterwards.
All at once owls burst through the Great Hall with the mail, interrupting my day dreams and Hermione’s recitations. Oh, I hope we got a reply from Gran. Gran’s barn owl, Fuigazi, Vietnamese for “Chaos,” but I just call her Gazi, dropped a parcel in front of Neville and I, with a note attached. We both opened them up excitedly, wanting to be the first one to open it. Inside mine there was a locket of a butterfly holding a bright turquoise vile inside it’s wings. Inside was a note.
I bought this for you in an apothecary. Inside is a vial of very strong strengthening solution, for emergencies. Always wear this locket. Congratulations on making Gryffindor. We’re so proud of you.
Cute and convenient, I like it. I put it on and stuffed it under my robes. I looked toward Nev and saw that he took out a glass ball, the size of a giant marble, that was filled with white smoke. Oh-
“It’s a Remembrall!” Nev exclaimed, reading my mind. “Gran knows I forget things-this tells you if there’s something you’ve forgotten to do.” He told everyone else. “Look, you hold it tight like this and if it turns red-oh...” The Remembrall turned crimson and his face fell, “...you’ve forgotten something...”
His eyebrows crinkled together as he tried to remember what he had forgotten when Draco Malfoy suddenly snatched the Remembrall out of his hand. I immediately got to my feet, not even seeing Harry and Ron doing the same. Although, before any words could be thrown, Professor McGonagall was onto us like a bloodhound at the first scent of trouble. “What’s going on?”
“Malfoy’s got my Remembrall, Professor.” Neville said quietly.
Malfoy scowled and quickly dropped the Remembrall back onto the table. “Just looking,” he said as he slipped away with his goons Crabbe and Goyle behind him.
We all went down at three-thirty towards the Quidditch Pitch, which was on the other side of the grounds to the forbidden forest. The Slytherins were already there, of course, as were about twenty brooms laying equidistant to each other on the ground.
A moment later Madam Hooch, a witch with short, gray hair in a pixie like cut with yellow eyes like a hawk, arrived. “Welcome to your first flying lesson.Well, what are you all waiting for?” she barked at us. “Everyone stand by the left side of your broomstick. Come on, hurry up.”
Intentionally, or not, the class split into two groups opposing each other, Gryffindors on one side and Slytherins on the other. I stood in between Neville and Harry, across from Malfoy.
“Stick out your right hand over your broom,” called Madam Hooch, “and say ‘Up!’”
“UP!” everyone shouted.
My broom jumped into my hand at once, but was one of the few that did, which included Harry and, unfortunately, Malfoy. Hermione’s just sort of rolled over and Neville’s didn’t move at all. There was a tremble in Nev’s voice that spoke too clearly of his desire to stay earth bound. It made me wonder if the brooms could tell when you were afraid.
“With feeling!” Madam Hooch insisted. The rest of the class kept repeating themselves in different tones until their brooms finally listened to them. Hermione’s started twitching before Ron’s suddenly sprang up and hit him in the face. None of us could help laughing at him, though I’ll admit I didn’t really try not to. “Shut up, guys!”
“Once you get a hold of your brooms, I want you to mount it. Grip it tight. You don’t want to be sliding off the end.” She walked down the rows correcting their grips. We all smiled when she told Malfoy that he’d been doing it wrong for years.
“Now, when I blow my whistle, I want you to kick off from the ground, hard,” said Madam Hooch. “Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle-three...two...-”
Neville, being too nervous and afraid of being left behind, pushed off hard before the whistle even touched Madam Hooch’s lips. “Mr. Longbottom!” she called, but he kept rising in the air. “Mr. Longbottom!” His face was absolutely petrified. “Nev!” I screamed. Even though I knew only more trouble may become of it, I pushed hard off the ground and flew after him. “Callie!” Hermione screamed after me.
“Longbottom’s! Come back down, this instant! Both of you!” she shouted. I was right about how it felt to fly. It was bloody exhilarating! I just didn’t imagine that my first time on a broom, that I would be trying to save Nev from killing himself. I pulled the broomstick up a little, to get even higher. It seemed that catching up to him and catching him were two completely different obstacles. Once I’d almost have a hold of him, his broom would jerk him in the other direction. Neville could only handle his broom doing that a few times before he fell off the side of the broom. I blocked out everything. I immediately tightened the grip on my broom, and pointed the handle down. Faster, and faster the broom accelerated-thirty feet, twenty feet, ten feet-I reached out my hand and grabbed a hold of his robes while trying to simultaneously pull the broom straight, which was difficult since Neville was panicking and flopping around like a fish out of water. Suddenly Neville slipped from his robes and fell to the ground flat on his face.
At least it wasn’t from the deathly height of one of the towers where his broom first flew him. I pushed the broom down, slightly this time, and descended to the ground. I came up beside Madam Hooch, who was bending over Neville, her face a pale mirror of his own. “Broken wrist,” I heard her mutter. “Come on boy-it’s all right, up you get.” She turned to me and checked to make sure that I wasn’t injured as well. “I’ll talk to you after class Miss Longbottom,” she said before she addressed the rest of the class. “None of you is to move while I take this boy to the hospital wing! You leave those brooms where they are or you’ll be out of Hogwarts before you can say ‘Quidditch.’ Come on, dear.” I watched them as Neville, tears running down his cheeks and clinging his wrist close to his chest, hobbled after her.
Once they were out of hearing range Malfoy burst into laughter and tossed up Neville’s Remembrall. How did he get that? “Did you see his face? Maybe if the fat lump had given this a squeeze he would have remembered to land on his fat arse.” The other Slytherins laughed on queue.
“Shut up and hand it over Malfoy, before I give you a fat lip to match that fat mouth of yours.” I retorted in his face. He raised an eyebrow and smirked, “You must be joking, Daffodil.” Hermione tried to hold me back when I stepped forward to show him that, no, I was not joking. And it’s Callalily. “Give it here, Malfoy.” Harry said, backing me up.
“No, I think I’ll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find. How about the roof?” Unfortunately Malfoy wasn’t all talk, he could fly really well. “Come and get it.” He taunted.
Harry and I mounted our brooms. “No way!” Hermione shouted. “Madam Hooch told us not to move-you’ll get us all into trouble.” Harry and I ignored her and kicked hard off the ground. As far as I was concerned I was already trouble.
We turned our brooms sharply so that we were on each side of Malfoy. “Give it here,” Harry called, “or I’ll knock you off your broom!”
“Oh, yeah?” He goaded.
“Yeah, and if he won’t, I will.” I retorted. I gripped my broom and shot forward. Malfoy only just got out of the way in time. I made a sharp one-eighty and held the broom steady. “No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy.” It seemed he had come to the same conclusion.
“Have it your way then!” he shouted before he threw it as hard and as high as he could into the air before he flew back towards the ground. Since he threw it closer to Harry’s direction, he shot off like a bullet after the Remembrall. I took off after Malfoy. The Gryffindor’s were still huddled up looking at Harry, while the Slytherin’s were huddled around Malfoy. I swung my leg off the broom just before I descended and stalked up to him. Right as he turned around, I punched the smirk right off his face. Bloody hell, that was amazing! The Gryffindor’s cheered, whether to the makeover I just gave Malfoy or to Harry, who just returned with Neville’s Remembrall, I wasn’t sure.
“HARRY POTTER! CALLALILY LONGBOTTOM!”
A chill went down my spine. Here we go. “Follow me.” The only thing worse than being in trouble with Professor McGonagall was Malfoy and his goon’s gloating faces as we walked passed them.
Great Uncle Algie will be pleased that I hit a Malfoy, but Gran’s gonna kill me. What if they expel me? “Only two weeks,” she’ll say. “You couldn’t stay out of trouble for more than two weeks! What would your parents say if they could see you now?” I tried to mentally shake it off. I did not like where my thoughts were headed. Just, breathe. “Thanks,” I said softly to Harry so that Professor McGonagall wouldn’t hear us talking, “for that, back there, and getting Nev’s Remembrall. You didn’t have to do that.”
He turned to me, “Yeah, I did, I don’t like bullies. That right hook was brilliant, by the way, Malfoy totally had it coming.” He smiled. “Oh, right. Here you go.” He reached into a pocket in his robes and took out Nev’s Remembrall. “Thanks.” I smiled back.
Professor McGonagall hadn’t said a word to either of us. Eventually she stopped outside of a classroom. “Wait here.” She said before she went inside, leaving the door open. “Excuse me, Professor Quirrell, could I borrow Wood for a moment?” Harry and I looked at each other in confusion before we peaked around the door. Why was Professor Quirrell holding an iguana? She came out with a brawny fifth-year boy who was looking very confused.
“Follow me,” she said before she marched back down the corridor and into a classroom on the right, “in here.” It was empty, except for Peeves, who was writing offensive things on the blackboard. “Get out, Peeves!” she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into the bin across the room and rushed out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face us.
“Potter, Longbottom, this is Oliver Wood. Wood-I’ve found you a seeker and perhaps a chaser, at least as a reserve.” Wood’s facial expression changed from confusion into excitement. “Are you serious, Professor?”
Harry and I looked at each other incredulously before looking back at Professor McGonagall. Yeah, are you serious? “Absolutely,” she said briskly. “The boy’s a natural. I’ve never seen anything like it. He caught that thing on his hand after a fifty-foot dive. Charlie Weasley couldn’t have done it. Miss Longbottom is a fairly decent flier as well. Was that your first time on a broomstick?” We both nodded slowly, calming down now that we’ve realized that we weren’t being expelled.
Wood looked like he just won the lottery. “Ever seen a game of Quidditch?” he asked excitedly. “Wood’s captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team,” Professor McGonagall explained. “They’re just the build for it too,” Wood said, walking around and inspecting us. “Light-speedy-going to need a decent broom, Professor-a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I’d say.”
“I shall speak to Professor Dumblebore and see if we can’t bend the first-year rule. 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...” Professor McGonagall looked at us over the edge of her glasses. “I want to hear that you’re training hard, or I may change my mind about punishing you. Oh, but I must take twenty points for that punch Miss. Longbottom.” she said sternly. Then suddenly she smiled, “Your father’s would have been proud. They were excellent Quidditch players.” She said. I sighed and smiled, seems like Gran’s not gonna kill me after all. I can’t wait to tell Nev!