The next week flew by for the four friends, as they settled into a routine of going to class, doing homework, and attempting to work out why the Founders may have interfered with their sorting. As per his father’s request Harry kept track of when and how much his scar hurt throughout the week. It did not happen every DADA class, and it occurred a few times in the Great Hall, and once in the Library. For all of them, Professor Quirrel was around, except for the one in the Library, at least not that they had noticed.
On Tuesday after classes had ended for the day, there was a notice up in the Common Room, letting First Years know that flying lessons would begin on Thursday September 12th, and they would be having them with the Slytherins.
“Excellent.” Harry grinned. If there was one thing Harry loved to do, it was fly.
Thursday morning dawned bright and clear, nary a cloud in the sky, a perfect day to learn to fly. The last of the students had just finished arriving and breakfast had been served when the post owls arrived. As he had every morning since he sent his letter, Neville looked up into the flock of owls, hoping to see Barnabas in the flock. He saw an Eagle Owl circle the Great Hall once before winging over to the Slytherin table and landing on Malfoy’s shoulder. He cast another look through the flock and finally saw his family’s owl carrying a rather small looking package, considering what he had asked for. The black owl landed in Kestrel’s plate, she hadn’t been awake enough to remember to move.
“Ruddy bird!” she yelled, much to the amusement of her class mates.
Neville quickly removed the small package from the owl, scolding it gently. “How many times must we ask you to stop tormenting Kestrel so, Barnabas?” Whether or not owls were able to look smug or amused, Barnabas was managing both spectacularly. Barnabas took the piece of bacon that was offered to him nipping at Neville’s fingers affectionately before flying off toward the Owlery.
Neville waved over one of the 6th Year Gryffindor Prefects asking him if he would mind unshrinking his package for him.
“Sure thing, Neville. The spell is Finite, so you can do it yourself next time.” He said with a grin as he tapped the carefully wrapped package, and it expanded to reveal several books, and a small wrapped box.
“Cool. Thanks Malcolm.” The older boy waved, heading off to get his books for his first class.
Neville quickly glanced over the stack books, while Kestrel reached for the smaller package that was sitting next to the stack, knowing Neville wouldn’t care if she opened it. She unwrapped then opened the box, upending it, and dumped out what was inside. A small glass ball filled with pale gray smoke fell into her hand and she stared at it curiously.
“Say, Nev. Why would Gran send you a Rememberall?”
“She sent me a what?” He looked over at Kestrel and she held up the glass ball for his inspection. He reached over to take it only to have it snatched out of his hand before he had barely touched it.
“What’s this Longbottom?”
“It’s a gift from my Gran, Malfoy, give it back.”
“You do know that these things went out of style in my parent’s time at school?”
“My Gran is considerably older than your parents Malfoy, and probably doesn’t realize that they are no longer “in fashion”, as it were.” Neville rolled his eyes as the Malfoy heir tried to goad him into a reaction. “Now, may I please have it back.”
“Or what you’ll do what, Longbottom?”
Kestrel’s eyes flashed wickedly as she turned slightly looking over Malfoy’s shoulder, and with a bright smile she said, “Oh, good morning, Professor McGonagall.”
Draco jumped, they Rememberall leaping from his hands as he spun around only to find the previously mentioned Professor not there. Neville had already reached out and snatched the ball from the air, tucking into his robes and out of sight. He turned back around to glare at the grinning Gryffindors. “I’ll get you for that.”
Kestrel only grinned wider, “Look forward to it, Cousin. Now why don’t you run along back to your little table of snakes, yeah?” She made a patronizing shooing motion with her hands.
The blonde Slytherin glared once more before turning and walking back to the Slytherin table, sitting back down with his friends.
“We really probably shouldn’t goad him like that.”
“Your probably right, Neville, we shouldn’t. You got to admit though, it is entertaining.”
Neville’s only response was to grin. Oh the joys of being brought up a Marauder.
After lunch the first year Gryffindors all filed out towards the Quidditch Pitch where the Slytherins were already gathered. There were 20 brooms all laid out in two rows of ten. They all lined up, Slytherin to one side and Gryffindor on the other, just as the flying Instructor, Madame Hooch, walked out onto the pitch.
“Some of you may have done this before at your own homes, but for the moment that does not matter. You will all listen to my instruction and follow my rules for flying while on the pitch, understood?”
“Good.” Madam Hooch then gave a quick explanation behind the mechanics of flying and how to mount a broom.
“Right, I want you to reach your wand hand out over your broom, and in a firm voice say, ‘up’!”
Twenty voices rang out across the grounds, as the first years tried to get their brooms to rise at their command. The brooms of Neville, Harry, Ginny, Draco, Kestrel, and Ron all leaped up on command, most others got it on their second or third tries. Hermione however was still struggling and was becoming increasingly frustrated.
Ginny was closest to her and halted her attempts with a hand on her shoulder. “Whoa there, Hermione, the broom isn’t going to do what you want if you’re afraid of it.”
“I’m not afraid. Why would I be afraid of a silly old broom anyway?”
“Because it’s not something that you can learn to do out of a book?” Kestrel guessed, leaning around Ginny to smile at the other girl.
“Well if you two are so smart, what should I do then?” Ginny quickly gave Hermione the same advice that Charlie had given her when she was younger and wanting to learn to fly. Hermione nodded with a bit more determination and held her hand over her broom. She took a deep breath and in a firm and commanding tone said, “Up!” The broom flew into her hand with a solid smack.
She looked over and grinned at Ginny, who smiled back. “I did it!”
“I knew you could do it.”
“Way to go Hermione.”
Once everyone had been able to call the brooms to their hand, Madam Hooch had everyone mount up.
“To take off, I want to you push off from the ground, not too hard or you’ll shoot right up. Just give a little push, hover for a few moments, then lean forward slightly to return to the ground.”
With a steady stream of encouragement Hermione was able to hover for several seconds before returning to the ground. Kestrel’s broom however appeared to have malfunctioned and shot upwards several dozen feet before throwing her into a tailspin, heading straight for one of the Quidditch stands.
“Kestrel!” Was yelled by not only Neville and Harry, but Blaise as well, who rushed over to stand with them. Harry and Neville watched as their sister spiralled towards serious injury, not being able to do anything. It all happened so quick that no one, not even their instructor, was able to react. Kestrel fought the broom the whole way, and managed to pull the broom out of the spin enough to slow down its rotation. As soon as she was above the seats she let go of the broom and crashed into the wooden platforms with a scream.
Ignoring Madame Hooch’s order to stay where they were Harry, Neville and Blaise raced over to where she had crashed landed. Before his broom had even come to a complete stop Harry had hopped off and was removing pieces of the bleachers from his sister’s unconscious form. She had several cuts and scrapes, as well as a large bump on her head, but otherwise appeared unhurt.
Madam Hooch arrived at the scene just as Blaise and Neville removed the last piece of wood. She pulled out her wand and with a flick Kestrel floated up into the air and hovered there for a moment. “I want you all to stay here with your feet firmly on the ground. Anyone found to have broken this rule will be out of here faster than you can say ‘Quidditch’.”
With that she flew off towards the hospital wing, Kestrel floating along behind her.
Harry, Blaise, and Neville returned to where the remainder of the class was, landing back next to their fellow Gryffindors, Harry carrying the old broom that Kestrel had been using. Neville turned to see Ginny comforting Hermione, telling her that stuff like that normally didn’t happen and not to let that cloud her experience too much.
“Thanks for lending a hand Blaise.”
“Any time Nev. I know you and Harry will probably get to visit her later, let me know how she’s doing, yeah? I should get back to my house.” They both looked over to where several Slytherin’s were giving them rather dark looks.
“Sure thing. You’ll know as soon as we know. Take care Blaise.”
As Neville turned back to look towards the castle, in the direction that Kestrel had been taken, he noticed something glinting in Draco’s hand. He squinted a bit against the bright afternoon light trying to see what it was. His eyes widened upon seeing his Rememberall in the Slytherin’s hand. He patted his robe’s inner pocket, indeed finding it empty. He walked over to Malfoy and held out his hand, “Give it back, Malfoy.”
“Give what back?” He asked slyly as he let the sleeve of his robe drop over his hand, hiding the tennis ball sized object from sight.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, you git. My Rememberall, give it back.”
“Oh you mean this?” He held it up again, twisting it this way and that, so that it glinted in the sun.
“You’re not clever, you know.” Harry said as he came up to stand next to his brother.
Draco ignored Harry and continued to look at Neville. “Maybe if your little girlfriend had been onto holding this, she’d have remembered how to fly. Though maybe the crash will do her looks some good, eh?”
Harry went to take a step towards Malfoy, whether to hit him or hex him he wasn’t sure, but he was stopped by Neville and Ginny each grabbing one of his arms. “Oh come on, he’s totally asking for it.”
“Yes, he is, and I’m going to give it to him.” Neville said a steely edge to his voice. He turned to look back at Malfoy. “Give me back the Rememberall now, or I’ll make the rest of your first year a living nightmare.”
Draco scoffed, looking a bit nervous, and mounted his broom. “Well if you want it Longbottom, then you’re just going to have to come and get it.” With that he kicked off from the ground hard and flew up in to the air, smirking down at his fellow First Years haughtily. Several of the Gryffindor First Years tried to talk Neville out of it, reminding him of Hooch’s warning. Neville glanced at Harry, his opinion the only one he wanted at the moment.
Harry smirked and nudged the twigs of Neville’s school broom with his foot. “Make it fast Nev, before Hooch gets back.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem, I’m aiming for quick and humiliating.” Neville mounted his own broom, and ignoring the continued warnings of his year mates, kicked off to join Malfoy in the air. “Give it here, Malfoy.”
Draco was surprised to see that Neville had followed him up here and swallowed a little nervously.
“What’s the matter, Draco? Scared now that you don’t have your friends up here with you?”
Draco glanced down at the gathered Slytherins and Gryffindors below them ant looked back at Neville. “If you haven’t noticed, Longbottom, all your friends are on the ground as well.”
“Yeah, but there’s one key difference between me and you, Draco.”
“I’m not afraid of you, or of being without someone at my back. Now, last chance, give it back.”
“Come and get it.” Draco spun his borrowed broom around and sped off in the opposite direction, not one to take a challenge lying down.
Neville’s dark eyes narrowed, and leaning over the handle of his own broom, shot off after the Malfoy heir.
The two boys weaved and dove and twisted through the air in an impressive display of flying skill. Neville, in an effort to cut off Draco and end their flight before their instructor arrived, swung wide around the blonde Slytherin and then cut toward Draco. Draco swung his broom sideways and screeched to a halt.
Neville shoved a few strands of his dark blonde hair out of his eyes. “Look, Malfoy, while I really don’t care whether or not you get expelled, I’d rather not. So just give me back the bloody Rememberall, and we’ll call it even.”
Draco glanced from Neville towards the castle, making sure a teacher was still nowhere in sight. Seeing he still had time to get back to the ground, he took the Rememberall out from inside his robes and tossed it once in the air, before smirking at Neville. “Okay, then, here you go Longbottom, fetch!” He threw the fragile glass ball with all his might, towards the castle. Neville without even pausing to think, lay flat out on his broom handle and shot forward after the ball, nearly knocking Draco out of the air as he shot passed.
The ball was heading for the ground faster than Neville thought it could fall, and he wasn’t sure he would be able to catch it on the old broom. Seeing that he wasn’t going to make it on his current course he plunged into a steep dive, hoping to intercept the ball closer to the ground.
Just as the ball would have hit the stone walk, leading back up towards the castle, Neville’s fingers closed around the ball and he braked hard, tumbling off his broom and landing in the grass. He sat up carefully, but found no injuries. He was soon joined by his cheering housemates. Their celebration was short lived however when a stern voice cut across the Pitch.
Neville froze in place as his heart dropped to somewhere around his knees, which explained why they all of a sudden felt like jelly. Professor McGonagall was running towards them, green tartan robes billowing out behind her. He got to his feet, his whole body shaking, Gran is going to kill me.
"Never – in all my time at Hogwarts –” Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and her eyes flashed furiously from behind her glasses, “– how dare you – might have broken your neck –”
“It wasn’t his fault, Professor –”
“Be quiet, Miss Granger –”
“But, Professor, Malfoy –”
“That’s enough, Mr Potter. Longbottom, follow me. Now.”