Students are required to write to a pen pal in the spirit of 'International Cooperation.' New friendships and a new romance arise going into the fourth year at Hogwarts.
Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Harry P., Fleur D. - Chapters: 21 - Words: 189,865 - Reviews: 1,954 - Favs: 3,995 - Follows: 2,200 - Updated: Jun 26, 2012 - Published: Dec 7, 2010 - Status: Complete - id: 6535391
Harry found himself walking to the pitch on the first cold Sunday in January. He'd received a note from Harris telling him they would be testing the brooms. He was told to report to the pitch at ten, in his quidditch uniform. He was also told he wouldn't need his broom.
So he'd gone about his normal routine for a Sunday morning before going to the locker room to change. He stretched a little bit before walking to the pitch, and immediately regretted being early.
Aside from Lewis Harris, there were two other sponsors. Harry recognized the logos on their robes. Next to the sponsors, however, were reporters and cameramen. A lot of them. More than Harry could quickly count.
He debated walking back to the locker room and acting like he had forgotten something, but that thought didn't last long in his head.
"Harry!" Lewis yelled. Harry cursed himself for being punctual.
"Hello," he said as he walked toward the sponsors.
"Good morning!" Lewis responded, clasping him on the back as if they were old friends. Harry couldn't help but shrug away from the touch.
"Yea, you too," he said quietly.
"I hope you don't mind, Harry, but we've decided to make this public." Harris sounded a tad too excited. Harry didn't really care if there was an audience, though.
"That's fine," he said. He glanced around and saw that some students did appear to be filtering down onto the pitch. He noticed someone dressed in quidditch official garb was examining three brooms near the reporters. He could tell one of the brooms was the same type as his Lotus, so he could only assume the other two were the Renault and Mercedes.
"Good! Now I'm sure you wouldn't mind answering a few questions before we start?"
"I guess not," Harry said. Admittedly, he wasn't sure if he really had a choice in the matter. Harris then moved him over to face the reporters. He hoped the questions would be limited to quidditch and flying. It wasn't so bad when he was asked about that after the first task.
"Harry! Are you prepared for the second task?" one asked immediately.
"Not really," Harry said. "I'm working on it though. I still have nearly two months," he responded honestly. So much for the questions being limited to flying.
"So not worried about not being prepared?" Another asked.
"No. I'll come up with something," he responded. The reporters looked a bit surprised. Harry shrugged as he finished speaking. As he thought about it more, he wasn't sure if he would have honestly answered that question had he had a plan formed, simply to not be questioned on what the plan could be. Of course, it hadn't really occurred to him to lie to reporters before. He'd been nothing but honest in the past.
"They say you had quite the ball. In fact, it is rumored that Rita Skeeter is writing an article about your multiple partners during the dance," one of the reporters said. Harry blinked and looked at the middle-aged witch who awaited his response.
"Was that a question?" he asked. The reporter flushed, and some of the others chuckled quietly. He hadn't meant to sound like an ass, he just didn't know how to answer the statement.
"How do you feel about that?" The reporter asked snottily. Harry was annoyed, but he figured he had it coming.
"I don't really have an opinion. I don't read anything she writes," he admitted. Of course, he didn't read anything any of them wrote. But he figured it would be bad form to admit that.
"No other comments?" the witch asked. Harry shrugged.
"Just one. Isn't it a tad low to write an article about someone and not even ask them for an interview or a quote?" Harry asked. The other reporters laughed, one of them shouted something that sounded like agreement. The reporter blushed furiously and Harry simply looked around the group again.
"Harry!" a young male reporter shouted. "Are you looking forward to flying with Krum again?"
"Yea, I am," Harry said. "Viktor is amazing on a broom. I hope I can learn something from watching."
"Not worried that this test could show one broom to be completely superior to the others?" a different reporter asked. Harry hadn't thought about that, so it took him a moment to formulate a response.
"Not really," he said. "I assume the brooms were tested before we got them. At the very least we've all played a match so far and I don't think any of the brooms seemed superior to the others."
"So you're not going to favor the Lotus?" another reporter asked.
"I'm just going to fly whatever they tell me when they tell me. I'll try my best on each broom," Harry admitted. The answer seemed to appease the reporters. It helped that they all noticed Krum and Sinclair were approaching the pitch, each wearing their school quidditch uniforms.
The reporters turned their attention to the new pair. Harry felt momentarily disappointed about not being the center of attention. But then he realized that he hadn't wanted to talk to the reporters, so he felt considerably more relieved.
He meandered over to where the official was still checking over the brooms. He watched the official for a moment, before looking over the brooms himself.
At just a quick glance the Lotus appeared to be the middle of the three. The Renault was the most compact of the brooms. Harry assumed it probably handled the best. The Mercedes appeared to be the fastest, at least just judging by how it was built.
"Enough," Harry heard Krum say. Apparently Viktor had grown tired of the questions. "We came to fly. Let us fly."
"I couldn't have said it better," Sophie said from next to him. She'd been asked the fewest questions of the three. Harry couldn't help but notice her English was impeccable, although she had an odd accent. Krum gave her a brief smile.
"Alright, alright. Reporters please clear over to the sidelines," Harris said. The reporters obeyed, grumbling as they did. "Okay, now you three. We're going to start you on your own brooms and switch off for each task. We're going to start with a standard sprint. Length of the pitch against each other. We'll flip brooms and go back, flip again and do one final run. You all have that?"
"Sounds simple enough," Harry said. The other seekers agreed.
A few moments later Harry found himself floating between Viktor and Sophie, waiting for the official to drop his arm, the signal for them to start. His arm fell and the three seekers sped down the pitch as quickly as they could. Krum won, followed by Harry and Sophie.
They switched brooms quickly and raced back on the official's signal. Krum won again, on the Lotus, followed by Sophie then Harry on the Renault. They flipped again and raced one last time. Harry won on the Mercedes, followed closely by both Sophie and Viktor.
They followed that drill with agility and quickness drills. They flew back and forth the short end of the pitch, as tightly as they could. They sponsors had set up markers for each turn they had to make.
Krum set the fastest time again, but this time on the Renault. Harry was second, also on the Renault, and Krum put in the third fastest on the Lotus. The Mercedes flopped at that drill. Each of the seekers barely finished on the broom.
After they focused on a variety of drills that involved quickly changing direction and keeping speed, as well as staying on a specific line. The Renault and Lotus were rather evenly matched there, but again the Mercedes lagged a little bit behind on the reaction time. It was the only set of drills where Harry and Sophie matched Viktor. In fact, murmurs could be heard from the crowd that for some of these drills the young Harry Potter actually out flew the Bulgarian star.
Finally, they drilled feints and dives. The Mercedes and Lotus topped the drills there, again with Krum far outshining the competition. The highlight being a superbly executed Wrongski Feint.
"Alright everyone!" Harris's magically enhanced voice echoed through the stadium. Harry looked around to see that a rather large crowd had gathered in the stands on the pitch. "While we prepare for our last event we have decided to offer a lunch break!" The Lotus sponsor made a sweeping gesture as he finished talking. Several large tables appeared on the pitch, with piles of food on each.
Harry watched from above as students left their seats and made their way onto the pitch. The excited conversations melded into one loud rumble below him. He noticed Sophie flew off toward some Beauxbaton's students, and Viktor landed near some Durmstrang ones. Harry searched for a familiar face below him.
His eyes first found Roger and Lilly, who looked to be arguing over something. He still wasn't sure if Roger really knew what happened to end his night at the ball. But no one had said anything so he assumed the captain didn't. Of course, that didn't mean he felt like approaching him immediately.
He looked for Fleur next, but didn't see her so he continued to look for someone he knew.
He saw Ron and Hermione. Hermione looked annoyed and was attempting to argue something with Ron, who didn't appear to be paying attention. He still looked a bit surly. Harry knew he was upset about the Ball, but it wasn't his or Hermione's fault that he'd done nothing but brood during the entire thing.
Either way, he turned the lotus, which he tested feints last with, and began to descend toward his friends. But then he saw something out of the corner of his eye. It appeared that Miss Greengrass swatted Mr. Malfoy. This warranted further investigation.
He turned the broom toward the group of Slytherins who were approaching one of the tables.
"Hello Daphne," he said, landing his broom next to them.
"Harry," Daphne smiled.
"Go away, Potter," Draco interrupted.
"Hello, Draco," Harry said. "I see you're still wearing your C. You know, most people would only wear that on their uniform. I do hope you have better luck in the later rounds."
"Shut up, Potter. You're strutting around with that A emblazoned on your chest."
"Only because they required I wear my uniform. I don't see you complaining about Krum's C."
"Boys!" Daphne exclaimed. "Enough bickering, food time. Why did you come over here?"
"I saw you slap Malfoy. It amused me so I decided to see what that was about," he said as they grabbed some sandwiches from the table. Harry was hungry, so he picked up a ham and turkey sandwich.
"Oh. He wouldn't shut up about Viktor and how they were pen pals. I got annoyed so I hit him." Daphne explained as she picked up a sandwich as well.
"Sounds like a good reason," Harry laughed.
"Go away, Potter. None of us give a damn what you think," Draco said.
"Testy, Draco? Fine, I'll leave," he turned to go. But then he got an idea. "Care to join me, Daphne?" The Slytherin looked at him for a moment.
"Where are you going?" she asked. Her gaze shifted over toward Ron and Hermione. Harry could tell that she didn't consider that an upgrade from Draco and his cronies.
"I was probably just going to fly around a bit," Harry said, hoping Daphne would find that a better option. He got back on the broom and looked at her.
"Okay." She got on to the broom as well, pressing herself against him. Draco said something as he took off, but Harry didn't fully make it out. He took her up about fifty feet before carefully turning around on the broom to face her, before starting on one of his sandwiches.
"So what brought you out here today?" he feebly attempted to start a conversation.
"Boredom mostly," she admitted.
"Ouch. Are we at least entertaining?"
"Very. Although Draco is seething. He just can't understand why you of all people gets the honor of flying around with Krum," Daphne said.
"Oh, and what did you tell him?" He started on his second sandwich.
"That maybe if he practiced, like at all, he'd have a shot."
"Bet he liked that."
"Oh yes. He told me I was lucky I was pretty because I clearly just didn't get it."
"And that would be why I slapped him," she said, daintily finishing her lunch.
"Well he does have a point. You are lucky you're pretty," Harry teased.
"I'll hit you too, Potter," She responded, narrowing her eyes. But she softened when she saw he was smiling.
"Why do you still hang around with him?" Harry couldn't help but ask.
"I don't, usually," she admitted. "Since Tracey started dating Titus I usually hang around with them. Malfoy just likes to be everywhere."
"It gets worse as he gets older. The elder students weren't afraid of putting him in his place when he got too annoying. Now they're starting to let him do just about anything he likes."
"That does sound a bit annoying," Harry admitted. Daphne just shrugged.
"What do you think they're going to make you do for the last bit?" She asked. Harry could tell she was simply changing the subject.
"No idea. I overheard the sponsors discussing a race, though. So, I imagine something like that. It does sort of look like they're designing a track up there." Harry said.
"Hmm. I guess you're right," she said. "Fly around a bit. I'm getting sick of seeing Draco staring up at me."
"Alright," Harry said, shifting himself back onto the broom properly. Daphne leaned against his back as he started to simply fly around the pitch. He lazily weaved between the hoops at one end before cruising back down toward the other.
"Oh come on at least try something I couldn't do myself," she commanded. Harry laughed and pulled the broom into a steep climb. Daphne cried out and grabbed onto him.
"So something like this?" He turned quickly and pushed the broom straight toward the ground. Daphne grabbed onto him and held on rather too tightly. She didn't scream though, which Harry had expected. He pulled out of the dive a few inches above the lake and looked over his shoulder to see Daphne carefully opening her eyes.
"Okay, you're insane," she said.
"You wanted something you couldn't do," Harry responded with a quick laugh. "I'd have pulled up even later if it was just me." He pulled the broom up a bit and slowly flew back toward the pitch.
"Yes, but something that doesn't result in death would also be appreciated," Daphne said coldly.
"Oh come on. That move wasn't even that dangerous. And if you notice, we're both still alive. So it certainly didn't result in death." Harry laughed.
"You really are insane," She teased.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"It was intended as such," she said dryly.
"Anything else you want me to do?" he asked.
"No. Nothing really." They were silent for a few moments. Harry flew in a circle around the lake, and eventually back toward the pitch.
"Looks like they may want me back now," he said, and indeed the sponsors did seem to have finished organizing the final event.
"Yes it does," Daphne said as they flew back to the pitch. She gazed down at the ground for a few minutes before adding. "Oh, and don't look now, but the French witch looks jealous." Naturally, Harry looked immediately. Daphne wacked him on the shoulder as soon as she did. "I said don't look!"
Fleur was staring up at them, but then again, so were quite a few people on the pitch. She did; however, wear a rather interesting expression. She half smiled in a way that indicated she wanted to be a lot happier than she was. Her eyes also focused on Daphne, rather than Harry. Harry couldn't help but think that she may have been wonder if she could have been the one on the broom. When she realized that Harry was watching her, she looked away and quickly retreated toward the Beauxbaton's contingent.
"I guess she is. I thought I wasn't supposed to mention other girls around you."
"You're not. But it's okay when I bring it up. And having a Veela jealous of me is pretty awesome. If I do say so myself," Daphne said. Harry again didn't have the heart to mention that during the ball it had been irrelevant who brought it up.
"If you insist," he laughed, landing the broom near the group of Slytherins he originally stole her from. She slid off of the broom and moved toward her friends.
"Thanks Harry," she said, gazing over her shoulder at him. "Good luck in the last event."
"You're welcome. Thank you," he responded, shooting back off into the sky. He floated next to Krum and Sinclair as the main three sponsors flew out to meet them.
"Alright!" Harris yelled. "Our final event will be a race! We'll give you each five laps alone at our target track. And after that we'll do a full out race. We're going to shoot for twenty-five laps. We'll put you on your own brooms here, simply because they should have different strengths and prosper at different times on the track.
"We've based the track off of a famous circuit that has long been a fan favorite. It's done to scale with your broom speeds, which should give you comparable lap times.
"Miss Sinclair will be given the track first, followed by Mr. Potter, and then Mr. Krum. So, whenever you are ready, Miss," Harris said. Sophie nodded and flew up further above the pitch to where the track was magically marked out into the sky.
The French seeker waited for the signal from Harris before speeding off across the track. Harry and Viktor watched her to for a few moments, both eyeing the sharp turns on the circuit above them. After she completed her first lap, 1:21:949, and her second lap 1:18:302, Harry spoke to Viktor.
"So can I ask you one thing?" He asked, not sure if he should call him.
"Keep tight in corners, outside line in, inside line out," Viktor said.
"Uhm. Thanks, but that's not what I was going to ask," Harry said. Not quite understanding fully what Viktor meant with that, but he assumed it would help on the track.
"You know that pen pal assignment we had over the summer? Well, did you really write to Draco Malfoy?" Harry asked. He'd wondered about that ever since Draco had bragged.
"I do not know," Viktor said. "Which one is he?"
"Blonde one, about my height," Harry said.
"Ah, poor duelist. Talks too much."
"Uhm yea. So was he your pen pal during the summer? He brags about it."
"No idea," Krum said. "Agent wrote letters for me during the season." Harry looked at him as Sophie finished her last lap. He didn't have time to respond before Harris's voice rang through the stadium again.
"And that makes Miss Sinclair's fastest time at 1:17:102. Now, Mr. Potter, please approach the track!" Harry obliged, flying up to where Sophie returned from.
He waited for the signal to go from Harris. When the sponsor's arm finally dropped he shot off through the course. He shot forward into a quick right followed by a quick left. It only took to the first turn to understand what Viktor's words had meant. He came up on it wrong and lost a lot of time righting himself into the third turn. A long looping right hander that led into a quick straight ending with a sharp right to left chicane.