Vulnerability

"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength."

Phoenix Lancaster is just as extraordinary as she appears, she is a muggle-born metamorphmagus, and she has never had a quiet life. Thanks to her courageous and troublesome best friends, Fred and George Weasley.

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38. A Vision of Pink


PHOENIX RAISED HER EYEBROWS at George. He had just dropped a rather heavy book on the table in front of her, a grin plastered on his face. Phoenix had thought she would never see the day that George Weasley had a book as vast in his rather limited collection of books.

"Uhm," Phoenix began, frowning slightly. "Are you lost?"

"Not at all," George replied, sitting down on the chair across from her, "How To Remember: Memory Charms and how you can fight them by Charlotte Delaunay."

The feeling of unease spread through every vein, every artery in her body. She had, or rather chosen to, forget about her father's decision to Obliviate her memories of her mother. She and her father had avoided the subject all summer, though she had to admit to herself she felt much closer to her father this summer, their relationship was certainly less strained at the very least. Though the cloud that was their mother hung over their heads.

"George," Phoenix mumbled, feeling rather uncomfortable at she looked across at her boyfriend's eager face. "I'm not sure we can do this. Memory Charms are… they're difficult. Breaking one, or erasing one is virtually impossible!"

"But there's a chance we could do it!"

"A slim one!" Phoenix retorted, "A very, very slim one at that!"

"Just read this," George said, pushing the book towards her. "I read it over the summer to help you. It might change your mind."

Phoenix's heart warmed and she felt rather guilty at George's words. His effort touched her and she wished she was not as pessimistic on the subject.

"I will do," she agreed quietly, smoothing her hand over the book's leather cover. "I'm sorry George."

"For what?"

"For being a pessimist."

George opened his mouth to reply but at that precise moment, Fred and Lee bounded over to the couple, both carrying clipboards. Phoenix raised an eyebrow at them and then looked at George. She slipped the heavy book into her bag and returned to her Herbology homework.

"Ready George?" Fred asked brightly, tapping his clipboard smartly with his rather eccentric peacock quill. Lee handed George the clipboard smartly, grinning at Phoenix who was looking curiously between the trio.

"Of course," George replied, getting to his feet.

The twins and Lee then proceeded to approach a small knot of what looked like first year students. Phoenix was watching them closely, her curiosity getting the better of her, especially when she noticed that Fred carried a paper bag full of sweets.

"Alright," called Fred, clapping his hands together and beaming around at the students. "Who's ready to try some sweets?"

"They are not serious," Phoenix muttered to herself, shaking her head as the first years all crowded around Fred.

"Line up, line up!" George ordered cheerily.

"You three really shouldn't be doing this," Phoenix warned, jotting down a few notes on her essay on Snargaluff plants.

"They're getting paid," Fred remarked, holding out a paper bag to the students.

"Yes but–"

"Lighten up Nix," Lee called merrily. "We're just testing the effects on a wider audience, it's called market research."

"You shouldn't be using first years as your testers!" Phoenix scolded, finally losing her patience and snapping her Herbology book shut. She walked over to the twins and Lee, her hair a fiery, almost dangerous red.

"Come to give me some love Pixy?"

Phoenix chose not to look at her boyfriend's face as she knew that she would turn beetroot red at the sight of his warm brown eyes that she had developed a soft spot for. She tried to peer down at the clipboard in Fred's hands to see what was scribbled on there, but he shimmed away from her, grinning.

"I'm afraid that information is private Phoenix," Fred digressed, tapping his nose in a way that plainly told Phoenix that he was not going to crack any time soon.

Phoenix looked at George imploringly, her eyes turning a deep, magnificent blue that seemed to leave George mesmerized.

"Don't even fall for it George!" Fred warned, covering his twin's eyes warily.

"She's our best friend, Fred!" George pointed out, gesturing at Phoenix's now rather innocent face. "You're being ridiculous."

"What's new?" Phoenix smirked, her arms crossing over her chest as Fred laughed mockingly.

"Alright!" Fred surrendered, shoving the clipboard into Phoenix's outstretched hands. She smiled thankfully at Fred and scanned through the various notes he and George had made. Phoenix read through the notes on Fever Fudge and made a choking sound as she read a note on what effects it had made on the twins… private areas.

"Pus-filled boils? On your… nether regions?" Phoenix asked, torn between laughter and awkwardness. "You aren't giving the first years Fever Fudge, are you?"

"Of course not," said Fred indignantly, taking the clipboard from Phoenix. "Fainting Fancies!"

Sure enough, the first years fell almost like dominoes, one by one, as they were rendered unconscious by the Fainting Fancies. Phoenix glared at the twins, they observed the first years closely and made notes every now and then upon clipboards. Students about the common room laughed, the only person who seemed to be as unimpressed as Phoenix was Hermione Granger.

Her bushy hair flew around her shoulders as she marched over to the seventh years, she looked positively furious, staring daggers at the twins.

"That's enough!" Hermione called loudly, her hands on her hips. Fred and George looked up, feigning surprise.

"Yeah, you're right," mused George, "this dosage looks strong enough, doesn't it?"

"George!" Phoenix snapped scathingly, narrowing her eyes at her boyfriend.

"I told you this morning, you can't test your rubbish on students!"

"We're paying them!" Fred shot back.

"I don't care," Hermione seethed, her hair appearing to frizzle in anger. "It could be dangerous! You two should listen to Phoenix!"

Fred waved away Hermione's comment nonchalantly, "Rubbish!" he shot back.

"It's not rubbish," said Phoenix. "They're first years!"

"Calm down you two," said Lee in an attempt at a soothing voice as he inspected each of the first years, popping the purple end of the sweet into their mouths. "They're fine!"

"Yeah, look," George grinned brightly, putting his hand around his rather unimpressed girlfriend. "They're coming round now!"

The first-years were stirring, which Phoenix supposed proved that the Skiving Snackboxes were at least working well. Judging by the bewildered looks on their faces, Fred and George had kept the purpose of the sweets as a surprise.

"Feel all right?" George questioned a tiny black-haired girl who had collapsed by his shoes.

She peered up at him, still looking rather faint, "I–I think so," she murmured.

Phoenix shook her head at the twins and Lee's actions before she helped the first year to her feet and into a chair beside the fire.

"Excellent!"

"It is NOT excellent!" Hermione yelled, grabbing both clipboard and paper bag from Fred's hands.

"Course it is," Fred retaliated, looking as though he was losing his patience. "They're alive, aren't they?"

"Fred," Phoenix warned, but Fred ignored her.

"You can't do this," said Hermione, squaring her shoulders slightly so that the twins were made to look down at her Prefect Badge. "What if you made one of them really ill?"

"We're not going to make them ill," said George, a lot more gently than Fred. "We've already tested them all on ourselves, this is just to see if everyone reacts the same–"

Hermione was steeling herself, her nostrils flaring dangerously. "If you don't stop doing it, I'm going to–"

Fred chuckled, raising his eyebrows at the Prefect, "Put us in detention?"

"Make us write lines?" George smirked.

Hermione clicked her tongue against the root of her mouth before she stood to her full height (which didn't do very much as the twins were so damn tall), her brown eyes were narrowed darkly.

"No," Hermione was quivering with rage, "But I will write to your mother."

Phoenix had never seen Fred and George Weasley look so concerned. Fred's eyes were wide, he looked too afraid to utter a single word and George was staring at Phoenix as though expecting her to help them, which of course, she didn't.

Hermione, now grinning in triumphant, forced the clipboard and paper bag back into Fred's hands and returned to her chair beside the fire, a slight spring in her step.

Dolores Umbridge looked rather odd sat in the teacher's desk in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Her fluffy pink cardigan and black velvet bow looked terribly out of place in the dark classroom, where the only light came from the heavy, iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

Phoenix and Angelina sat in the very middle of the class, they were not entirely convinced that Umbridge was a teacher they wished to be near during their lessons. The class was unusually quiet as they all got seated, they were all rather wary of Umbridge. Aside from Fred and George that was, who waltzed into the classroom confidently, laughing with one another and choosing one of the tables at the very front of the class.

Umbridge did not say anything to the twins about their noise levels, though she seemed to be surveying them very closely, her pouchy eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

"Good morning," she said, when the whole class had sat down.

An unenthusiastic murmur of 'good morning' swept across the classroom.

"Tut, tut," Professor Umbridge simpered. "That simply won't do! I wish for you, please, to reply 'Good morning, Professor Umbridge'. One more time then, please."

Phoenix gritted her teeth and reframed from rolling her eyes.

"Good morning, Professor Umbridge," they all chorused back, Fred and George being the most enthusiastic – almost too enthusiastic.

"That was much better," said Umbridge in the same overly sweet voice. "Wands away and quills out, please."

The phrase 'wands away' meant they were in for one very dull lesson. Wand work was crucial in Defence and written work was not as important and counted towards a smaller part of their final NEWT grade. Phoenix and Angelina shared a gloomy look, shoving their wands back into their bags and pulling out quills, ink and parchment.

Umbridge smiled around at the students, pulling out her own (rather short) wand. She rapped the blackboard smartly, words materialised themselves magically onto the board, standing out bold and white against the blackness.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

A Return to Basic Principles

Phoenix frowned deeply. Basic principles?

"Your teaching in Defence Against the Dark Arts has been, to my knowledge, rather disruptive and disjointed," said Professor Umbridge, soothing down her fluffy pink cardigan and beaming around at them all. "The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your NEWT year. You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centred, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the following, please." Words appeared on the blackboard once again, the previous messages vanishing.

Course Aims:

1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.

2. Learning to recognise situations in which defensive magic can legally be used

3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.

The class copied down the three course aims reluctantly, the sound of quills scratching against parchment was all that could be heard for a few minutes.

Once Phoenix had copied down the aims, she studied them, her frown deepening. None of the aims suggested that they would be practising defence spells.

"Has everybody got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?"

"Yes, Professor Umbridge," the class murmured back.

"Good. I should like you to turn, please, to page five and read the first chapter, Basic for Beginners. There will be no need to talk."

Beginners?

Phoenix grudgingly opened her copy of the Slinkhard book. She had already read the book during her fourth year for background reading and over the summer in preparation for her Defence lessons; Phoenix wasn't particularly keen on Slinkhard's opinions on subjects such as jinxes nor did she find the book very helpful.

The silence continued for a few more minutes, Phoenix pretended to read and copy down notes when she was in actual fact scribbling drawings on her parchment. She wasn't a gifted artist but Angelina grinned when she recognised Umbridge baring a rather crude resemblance to Medusa.

"Excuse me, Professor Umbridge?"

The class all turned their heads to see Arista Jacobs with her hand stuck high in the air.

"Your name is?"

"Arista, Arista Jacobs, Professor."

"Lovely," Umbridge smiled kindly, though it looked more like a leer to Phoenix. "Have you got a question regarding the chapter?"

"The whole book, yes," Arista said carefully. "But I have a concern about the course aims."

"A concern?" Umbridge repeated, glancing at the blackboard for a brief moment. "Well, I'm afraid that we're focusing on the chapter at the moment. Any questions you may have I can answer after the lesson has ended."

Angelina thrusted her hand into the air.

"Miss?"

"Angelina Johnson. Your course aims… it doesn't say anything about practising any defensive spells."

The class began to murmur quietly, most had apparently failed to notice the lack of wand work in the course aims. Professor Umbridge laughed at Angelina's statement, though Phoenix failed to see what was funny.

"And why would school children need to practise Defensive Spells?"

Phoenix laughed coldly, "We have a practical exam in May. One that counts towards a large percentage of our NEWT grade–"

"Students must raise their hands when they wish to speak in my class," Umbridge snapped, her simper evaporating. Phoenix raised an eyebrow at her teacher before punching her hand into the air. "Miss?"

"Lancaster," Phoenix replied. "Magical theory is all well and good. But for our practical exam, theory will count for nothing!"

Umbridge smiled in reply and Phoenix's hair turned icy in clear dislike, "Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Lancaster?"

Phoenix scowled, "I'm not, no, but–"

"Well then," Umbridge laughed, a girlish, sickly laugh. "I'm afraid you do not qualify to decide what may be covered in this class. Ministry wizards with much more magical experience than all of you devised the new programme of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way. The view of the Ministry is that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your examination, which, after all, is what school is all about–"

"I'm sorry–" began Fred in a tone that plainly said he was not sorry in the slightest. "But like Phoenix said, we can't just waltz into an exam and exceed to anything above an Acceptable without actually practising the spells–"

"And your name?"

"Fred Weasley."

Lee Jordan's hand shot up into the air.

"Mister?"

"Jordan. What's the point of Defence Against the Dark Arts if we can't defend ourselves? If we get attacked–"

"And what makes you believe that you're going to be attacked in my classroom?"

"Not in your classroom," Lee said with a roll of his eyes. "Perhaps in the corridors when the Slytherins are throwing about jinxes like it's nobody's business. I mean, outside of school, in the real world."

"I must ask you again Mister Jordan – do you think you're going to be attacked in my classroom?"

"Probably not, no, but–"

Professor Umbridge interrupted him at once. "I do not want to criticise the ways in which Hogwarts is being run," though judging by the smile on her face she plainly wished to do nothing but criticise, "but it is clear to me that you have all been subjected and exposed to some downright irresponsible wizards in this subject," she laughed, a laugh that made Phoenix's dislike for the woman multiply by a dozen, "and even, rather dangerous half-breeds."

"If you mean Professor Lupin," Angelina seethed, dislike sewn into every syllable, "he was the teacher who taught us the–"

"Your hand is not up Miss Johnson!"

"Unbelievable," muttered Angelina, crossing her arms over her chest and looking awfully grumpy.

"You all have been exposed to complex, inappropriate spells for your age. From what I have been informed, my predecessor performed Unforgiveable Curses in front of you, and it gave some of you quite the fright."

Phoenix's hands curled into fists, she had the sneaking suspicion that Umbridge was talking about her.

"We still learned a lot!" called Roger Davies.

"Your hand is not up!"

Roger raised his hand, but Umbridge ignored him.

"So are you telling us," began George but Umbridge cut across him.

"Please raise your hand, Mister Weasley."

George did as he was told but didn't wait to be addressed, "So you're telling us that the first time we get to do these spells will be during our practical exam?"

Umbridge smiled. "As long as you have studied the theory hard enough. I see no reason why you should not be able to perform the spells under controlled examination conditions, if you had studied–"

"Rubbish," muttered Fred.

"What was that Mister Weasley?"

"I said rubbish!" Fred repeated. "It's our NEWT year! We can't rely on theory, some people in this class are hoping to get more than a T in this subject."

Umbridge only smiled at Fred's words and Phoenix envisioned herself blasting that putrid smile off her face.

"Then I do hope that those who wish for an Outstanding study hard enough for it."

"It's bullshit!" Angelina practically screamed when they left the classroom less than an hour later.

Phoenix had never seen Angelina so stressed and she couldn't blame her – fretting over their lack of practise in Defence, worrying about Keeper try-outs (as Harry would be absent from due to a detention with Umbridge) and worrying about Quidditch in general.

"No wand practise during our NEWT year?" Phoenix seethed, her hair as red as any of the Weasley's. "The Ministry are well and truly fucking us over!"

"Relax," said Fred soothingly, putting an arm around his girlfriend who appeared to be close to steam pouring out her ears.

"Relax?!" Angelina repeated, her temper slowly rising. "Do not tell me to relax Fred Weasley!"

Phoenix could not help but share Angelina's worries – less about Quidditch and more about her Defence lessons. She was relying on an Outstanding in the subject and to depend on theory was pointless in her opinion.

Angelina did not calm down by dinner. In fact, she snapped so frequently at everyone that the seventh years ate their dinner in silence, all too scared of being scorched.

"Oi, Potter!"

"Uh-oh," Fred muttered as Angelina dropped her fork and left Gryffindor table to talk to (or more likely yell at) Harry. "Merlin, she's stressed and it's only the second day of lessons, it's only going to get worse."

"I would try and talk to her but I fear she'd curse me," admitted Phoenix, who had a pounding headache. The amount of homework they had already been handed was rather sickening; a foot-long essay on the Volubilis Potion and to collect the ingredients before the next lesson, a list of the most difficult Runes Phoenix had ever laid eyes on to translate and finally an essay on the Aguamenti charm were all due in by Friday.

"The only one to calm her down, would be Fred," said Lee, patting Fred's shoulder reassuringly. "Good luck, man."

 

The first week of term was torture, in Phoenix's opinion. She had forgotten how to balance NEWT subjects over the summer and found herself wishing she had not picked up Ancient Runes as an extra course to study, as Phoenix was struggling an awful lot in regards to translations of said Runes.

"I can't do it," she exclaimed, resting her head on her rather foul essay about Human Transfiguration, immediately recoiling as she felt cold, fresh ink transfer onto her cheek.

It was Thursday evening and the seventh years all sat around the Gryffindor fire; Angelina had her noise pressed against her copy of Bizmark's Guide to Broom Games Old and New, Alicia was frowning at her Muggle Studies essay and Fred, George and Lee were working on a new product, 'Headless Hats', George had told Phoenix.

"I think you should wear your homework more often Nix," Lee jabbered, winking at Phoenix as she furiously rubbed her cheek, only for the ink to smear across most of her face. "You look rather ravishing."

"She always looks ravishing," George mused nonchalantly, leaving Phoenix's hair rather pink.

"Besides the point," said Phoenix, shaking her head to rid herself of her embarrassed flush, her hair now lilac, "I can't do it. All this homework, I can't do it!"

"Never thought I would hear those words come from Phoenix's mouth," Fred gushed. "What day is it? Only, I must write this day in my diary."

"Oh, so funny," Phoenix muttered, who was still attempting to remove the ink from her cheek. Though she was quite stubborn, she finally gave it up as a bad job. "How are the Headless Hats coming along?"

George grinned in reply, "See for yourself!"

He picked up a small hat, covered in pink feathers. Phoenix could quite clearly envision Umbridge sporting a hat similar. George placed the hat upon his head, grinning round at his friends, looking rather odd as the pink clashed with his red hair. But moments later, both the hat and George's head had vanished.

Phoenix could not hide the impressed look on her face. They had seemed to have somehow extended the Invisibility Charm beyond the hat itself, which was rather advanced, clever magic.

"She's impressed!" Fred laughed, high-fiving George.

"How did you extend the charm?" Alicia asked, her Muggle Studies essay long forgotten.

"That's for us to know," said George (both his hat and head still very much invisible).

"And for you to never find out," finished Fred.

"Sadly, the Charm wears off after a while," explained George, his hand reached into thin air and quite suddenly his head was yet again visible as he removed the Headless Hat. "But it's only a novelty gag, supposed to scare people. The novelty would eventually wear off anyway."

"Still it's very smart," Phoenix added, shooting her friends an encouraging smile.

Fred looked over at Angelina hopefully, evidently hoping she had been watching the demonstration and to give her appreciation for the product, but she was still immersed in her book and had not even looked at him all night.

"She's beginning to ignore me," Fred said in a hushed voice to Phoenix as they waited in the Gryffindor changing rooms on Friday. Angelina had left to get the candidates for Keeper ready for the upcoming try-outs.

"She's stressed," Phoenix replied, noticing Fred's uncharacteristic worried look.

"She was stressed during her exams in June," said Fred. "But she never ignored me back then, never."

Phoenix sighed, not entirely sure what to say to Fred, she wanted to reassure him but she couldn't think of any words that would sooth him. Angelina was, and always had been, unpredictable. It was hard to read her and equally impossible to get her to talk about her feelings. Fred had been someone who fit well with Angelina; he pushed her in the right way, made her laugh even when she was furious with him, he was not afraid to challenge her and above all, adored her in the most endearing way.

Angelina called them onto the Quidditch pitch a little while later. Phoenix shouldered her broom as the Gryffindor team, minus Harry, left the changing rooms.

Phoenix wasted no time in mounting her broom and kicking off from the ground. Her hair turned a pastel blue as she soared into the air, Merlin, she had missed flying.

"Oi! Ron! What are you doing here?"

Fred's cheery voice made Phoenix stop and turn to peer curiously down at the team and the applicants for Keeper. She could see three heads of Weasley red hair on the pitch.

"He's obviously auditioning for the position of Keeper, Fred," Phoenix suggested, hovering above the ground, "I think that much is rather obvious."

"Funny," Fred jeered.

"Good luck Ron!" Phoenix called to the youngest Weasley boy as the twins and Alicia also mounted their brooms to hover over the ground.

"Well," began Angelina, clapping her hands and staring fiercely at the seven applicants in front of her, "Being on the Gryffindor Quidditch team may look like all fun and games–"

"Which it is," grinned Fred.

"Shut up Fred!" Angelina snapped, glaring at her boyfriend, who cast a 'I–told –you –so' look at Phoenix. "But I assure you all that being a member of the team requires a lot of hard work, physically and mentally. I will not stand lateness for practises and matches, nor excuses for not turning up. You need to find balance between school work and practise and you must learn how to by yourself, we all had to do the same. Is anybody here involved with any other clubs?"

Two people raised their hands

"What clubs?" Angelina asked sharply, Phoenix didn't know whether to find it funny or rather alarming at how much Angelina mirrored Oliver Wood.

A tall, black-haired sixth year was the first to speak, "I'm the Captain of the Charms club, a member of the Potions club, the Gobstone club and the Astrology Homework club."

"So if Quidditch clashed with Charms," began Phoenix, "which would come first?"

"Charms," the girl scoffed, "obviously."

"What's your name, sorry?" Alicia asked politely, already not too impressed with the attitude the girl had.

"Vicky Frobisher," the girl replied.

The boy, who looked as though he was in his third year, spoke next, "I'm in the Wizard's Cards club," he squeaked nervously, "but we don't really have meetings too much."

"Good," Angelina nodded. "We're going to start with some basics–"

"Basics?" Another boy groaned, rolling his eyes.

"Yes, basics!" Angelina quipped, with the air of a woman who was moments away from losing her patience. "For all I know you don't even know what a broomstick is. I simply ask for you all demonstrate your flying abilities for me. Of course, if you do know what a broomstick is and can fly one, then this shouldn't be a problem for you."

The boy who had complained about basics was sadly rather good at flying and so was Vicky. Phoenix had seen Ron fly on a broom multiple times over the summer's she had spent at the Burrow, but she could tell he was awfully nervous. She supposed had Harry have been at the try-outs he may have flown a bit better knowing his best friend was there. The other three were rather average, the third-year boy even fell off his broom several times as they did laps around the pitch.

"Now," called Angelina, "Fred, George, I want you to collect the ball crate from the office."

"Anything for you, darling!" Fred called.

Phoenix noticed that Angelina did not even crack a smile, her face remained stony and it made Phoenix worry, she could not blame Fred for fretting over their relationship.

They returned a few moments late, Beaters bats in hand and levitating the crate as opposed to carrying it. Angelina scolded them as the crate very nearly dropped ten feet, but they managed to lay it safely on the ground in front of Angelina. She opened the crate, releasing the two bouncing Bludgers from their hold, Fred and George took off from the ground immediately, following the jet black, iron balls. Angelina also released the Quaffle, throwing it to Alicia, who caught it with ease.

Phoenix and Alicia, both chasers, took off after the twins.

While Angelina instructed the applicants on what to do next, the Beaters and Chasers soared off. Fred and George swung their Beaters Bat as Phoenix and Alicia tossed the Quaffle between them.

The first to try out was fourth year Felicity Davidson, Phoenix managed to score two goals with ease but Felicity dodged Bludgers effortlessly.

The second, Isaac Stone, the third year, was the opposite to Felicity. He was a rather good keeper despite his lack of confidence on the broom.

Phoenix threw the Bludger to Alicia, who caught it expertly while avoiding the Bludger. Fred swung his bat at the Bludger so that it flew towards Isaac just as Alicia had thrown the Quaffle towards him. He seemed to panic wildly for a moment too long, he reached for the Quaffle, missed it by inches and the Bludger flew straight into Isaac's stomach.

"Oooh," George winced as the sound of the heavy iron Bludger smacking against skin reverberated around the stadium.

It was quite amazing how Isaac managed to stay on his broom, though he was terribly winded. George instructed him to lie down, keep his knees up, legs together and place his hands on his head to help ease him.

"At least he tried," Phoenix said to Angelina, who was hovering near the stands overlooking the try-outs.

Vicky was third and she was annoyingly good, saving five out of six goals. Though she was good, Phoenix knew that her commitments to the other clubs she was a part of had ruled her out of being on the team. Morgan Wallace was fourth, he was dreadful. Geoffrey Hooper was fifth, like Vicky, he was good. He dodged Bludgers with ease but missed an unchallenging save.

"Come on, Ron!"

Ron nervously clambered onto his broomstick. He was a natural player, though admittedly rather wobbly due to nerves, he saved a good amount of goals and managed to at least avoiding getting winded by Bludgers.

Gabriella Waffling was last, she was a questionable player as she seemed to struggle with saving the goals and staying on her broom at the same time.

"Thank you all for coming here tonight," Angelina called as Fred and George struggled to get the Bludgers back into their restrictive crate. Darkness had long fallen and Phoenix had to cast Lumos Maxiam to help illuminate the pitch for both Quidditch team and applicants, "Our team is going to confer and we'll let you know the good–"

"–or bad,"

"Thank you, Fred!" Angelina snapped, this time Phoenix could almost hear the smile on her face, which Phoenix (and Fred) saw a very good sign, "The good, or bad, news."

"I thought Vicky was good," said Alicia as the team and the seven hopefuls separated to the other side of the pitch.

"She was good," admitted Angelina albeit grudgingly, "But she's too involved with all those clubs and stuff! We can't risk our Keeper sodding off because she wants to go to Charms Club. I think we should rule out Gabriella, Felicity and Morgan straight away. Perhaps Isaac, I'm a bit worried he might get knocked out during a match, even practise."

"So, as we have already established," Phoenix began, "Vicky is too engrossed in other clubs and commitment is crucial. What about Greggory?"

"I think he's a bit moany," Fred answered, casting a look over to the seven applicants who were all stood awkwardly near the goal hoops, "He complained about Nix being too harsh with him."

Phoenix grinned, letting out a snort of laughter, "That's because I was harsh."

"That's my girl," grinned George.

"So… Ron?" Alicia asked.

"He's good," Fred said immediately, "He was a bit off tonight because he was nervous, but Phoenix can tell you that Ron is a good flyer, and player. With a bit of practise, he could be brilliant."

"But what if he's not?"

"Would you rather have Miss Club and Societies over there or Moaning Myrtle's Grandson?" Fred asked, his eyebrow raised. "The Weasley's are all good Quidditch players!"

Angelina seemed to be in deep thought as she considered the applicants. Phoenix could see the pros and cons of each, but she felt that Ron Weasley was the safest option, he just needed a fair bit of practise. Phoenix and Angelina in fact had been the same when she had tried out for Chaser, both nervous and unsure of their ability but with Oliver Wood's excellent training had transformed them into the unstoppable force that they were.

"Alright," Angelina said finally, "Let's go tell them."

The applicants all looked hopeful as the team returned to them. Ron was attempting to feign calm, but Phoenix noticed how he kept rubbing the back of his neck and seemed to keeping his hands constantly busy.

"Well done all of you," Angelina called, grinning at the seven applicants in front of her. "You have all done well. But only one of you can be our Keeper. As I said at the beginning of the try outs, we do not clown about in Quidditch–"

"–Speak for yourself," said Fred.

"One more interruption Fred Weasley," Angelina seemed to be channelling Molly Weasley in her most dangerous bouts of rage, "and I will curse you until you have centipedes oozing from your nostrils."

"Right," Fred smiled, completely unperturbed, "Sorry, darling."

"As I was saying," Angelina began, "Being on the team is hard work. We need commitment, we need skill but we also need someone who is willing to develop and refine their talent. We believe we have found all of this in one person. So, congratulations, Ron, our new Gryffindor Keeper!"

In celebration of Gryffindor's new Keeper, Fred and George had ventured to the kitchens to fetch Butterbeers for the team to drink in the Common Room.

Ron was clearly thrilled with the decision, albeit initially rather surprised, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet up the grand staircase as the team made their way back to the Gryffindor Tower.

"I can't believe it really," Ron admitted to Phoenix, they were a bit behind Angelina and Alicia as they made their way back to the common room, "I really can't believe it, I'm quite astonished to be honest."

"Don't be!" Phoenix encouraged, "You are good, don't think otherwise, it'll ruin you. Mimbulus Mimbletonia!"

The Fat Lady swung open allowing for Ron and Phoenix to clamber through the portrait hole.

"How did you do?" Both Ginny and Hermione had rushed over, looking apprehensive.

Ron grinned sheepishly, "I'm Keeper!" He looked as though he couldn't quite believe the words that had tumbled out of his mouth.

"Oh, well done!" beamed Hermione and she hugged Ron tightly. For a few moments, Ron looked quite unsure of what to do, he simply put an arm around Hermione and patted her head awkwardly.

Phoenix smiled knowingly at Ginny before she walked over to Angelina and Alicia, who were sat in the very corner of the common room.

"So, we have our new Keeper!" said Phoenix encouragingly, she sat down on the arm of Alicia's chair and took her purple hair out of a tight plait.

"He'll do well I think," Alicia added brightly, "After we work on his confidence of course! As Fred said, the Weasley's are all good Quidditch players!"

Angelina seemed not to be particularly listening to their conversation. Her eyes were glassy, unfocused, almost as though her head was somewhere else completely.

"Angelina?"

"What?" Angelina mumbled, rubbing her face distractedly.

"Are you alright?" Alicia asked, looking across at her friend in concern.

"I'm fine," disclosed Angelina at once, she sat up much straighter, appearing much more alert and awake. "Well, to be truthful, I'm not."

"How come?"

"Fred blasted Weasley, that's why!"

Alicia frowned, "What's he done now?"

"He hasn't done anything," Angelina replied. "I just… It's just stressful. I think you all can tell I haven't been myself this week, snapping at anything and everything. I feel guilty because I've taken a lot of it out on Fred, to the point where I haven't even spoken to him because I'm scared that I'll just snap at him all the time and he'll come to resent me."

"Fred could never resent you!" Phoenix reasoned. "He loves you and I've never seen Fred love anything, aside from his joke products."

"But he could!"

"He won't," Phoenix concurred, "Trust me, Fred wouldn't just give up on you because you're stressed! The Weasley's are awfully stubborn, after all."

Angelina still looked unconvinced but was saved from the conversation by the arrival of Fred and George, both with their arms full of bottles of Butterbeer.

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