It had been a week since the game, and Lassiter was still reeling from all the praise. He was a Slytherin, which was the strangest part of the whole thing. If he had been in any of the other three Houses, it might have been expected that the whole school would support him, but being clapped on the shoulder in the corridor by seventh year Hufflepuffs and praised and whispered about by second year Gryffindors, had him more confused than ever.
He had tried getting an answer from O'Hara, but she had shaken her head and said, "Don't you get it, Carlton? They don't care that you're a Slytherin because everyone knows pure talent when they see it. And you're even being modest about it, too, which is sort of unheard of for, you know, your House."
Carlton had simply nodded and dropped the conversation, still just as bewildered as before.
He was walking down the hall to Transfiguration, when Headmistress McGonagall stopped him by calling out his name.
"Mister Lassiter? If you could come with me for a moment, it would be much appreciated. I'll write a note for you for Professor Hawthorne."
He nodded and followed, slightly worried at being singled out by the Headmistress. Had he done something wrong? The entire walk to her office consisted of Lassiter going over every possibility of what he might have done to elicit direct attention from the Headmistress.
However, as soon as they walked into her spacious sanctum, he was surprised to see his mother and a strange man standing in the room.
"Mom? What are you doing here?" he asked as he approached her, giving her a warm hug. "Nothing's happened to Carmen, has it?" Carmen was his mother's life partner, and the only thing that came to mind about why she might be there, but she shook her head, and he responded with, "Then why are you here?"
The man to the side stepped forward at that point and introduced himself.
"That would be my doing, Mister Lassiter." He firmly shook Carlton's hand. "I am Grant Bloomquist, and I am the head hunter for Quidditch League International, also known as QUILL." Bloomquist looked over at McGonagall and then back at Lassiter and said, "I approached your mother about a proposition for your future. I saw your game last Saturday and I recorded it and showed it to some of the top Captains in the League…and it seems that they all want you."
Carlton stood there, gaping, not quite sure of what he was hearing.
"Wait…are you sure they were talking about me? I mean, it was only one game…"
Bloomquist cut him off.
"Not just for one game, Mister Lassiter. I've been keeping an eye on you for a while, now. It has been to clear to me that you are the main reason why your team has been successful. You are not only an adept and skilled Chaser, but on more than one occasion, you've stepped in even for the Beaters on your team. You have fast reflexes, which would also make you an excellent Keeper…and now, seeing just how outstanding you were as a Seeker, all the teams want you as an on-call back up."
Even Lassiter, as dull as he was about so many things, knew what that meant. They would pay him to play for them, and he wouldn't have to be tied down to one single team. He would be paid more than generously, and could even pursue another career if he wanted to. It was the best offer that he could ever receive.
Startled, and taken aback by the opportunity, he said, "May I…think it over?"
"Of course, I would expect nothing less from someone of your caliber. Please consider our offer, Mr. Lassiter. We would love to have you."
With that, he nodded to McGonagall and threw a pinch of Floo Powder into her fireplace and was gone in the words, "Ministry of Magic," leaving behind two astounded witches and one befuddled wizard. Carlton stared at the fireplace a moment longer, and then turned to his mother.
"Do you think I should take it?"
She shrugged and put a hand to his hair, lovingly running her fingers through it.
"In the end, sweetie, it's about what you want. Not what I want."
Carlton thought about it for a moment, and then pivoted on his heel and face the Headmistress and said, "I'll need to think it through over the next few days, if that's alright." She nodded, and motioned towards the door and said, "To echo Mr. Bloomquist's sentiments, please…take your time."
He nodded and gave his mother a kiss on the cheek, along with the promise that he would owl her more often, and then left, his mind weighing heavy.
Sufficiently distracted, he lost track of the time, and completely missed not only Transfiguration, but Potions, as well, but brushed it off. He had a pass for Hawthorne, and he knew that Slughorn would let it pass; the man was still trying to get him to join his stupid "Slug Club", which he had no earthly desire to do.
However, after a while, he cast a brief Tempus and saw that he was going to be late for dinner. Rushing slightly, as he wanted to talk to O'Hara about Bloomquist's offer, he practically ran through the corridor, silently praying that Filch didn't catch him. He was only twenty feet from the doors when he ran into Spencer, both of their bags going flying.
Fuming, Carlton glared at him, and then, with a deft twist of his wand, all of his books put themselves back into his satchel, whereas Spencer was still on the floor clambering around, grabbing books and shoving them into his bag, not once thinking to reach for his wand. Carlton rolled his eyes and was about to yell at the Ravenclaw…but at a closer glance he saw what Spencer was doing, and he paled. The Ravenclaw's hands were never actually touching the books, but merely making the gesture of reaching for them and then, wandlessly, they were sliding obediently into his bag.
He was doing wandless magic…which was banned at Hogwarts.
Slightly impressed, but also terrified at what might happen if the young man got caught, he reached down and grabbed Spencer's Astronomy book, thrusting it in the sixth year's direction.
"Don't do that out here," Lassiter muttered from the corner of his mouth, leaning in close so that Spencer could hear him. "You'll draw too much attention."
Surprised that Lassi was talking to him, Shawn looked up and nodded, grabbing the book from the Slytherin's hand and shoving it into his bag manually, along with the rest of his books. Before Lassiter could get away, Spencer wrapped strong fingers around Lassiter's upper arm and said, "Wait up, Lassi…"
Carlton was tempted to pull away, but against his better judgment he instead simply rolled his eyes a second time and let Spencer fall into step next to him. They walked into the Great Hall together, a strange sight for many, he was certain, as he'd been actively going out of his way to avoid the Ravenclaw Seeker ever since the game the week before. He didn't hate him, in fact, he had more than a modest respect for him simply because of the fact that he was actually a decent guy when he wasn't surrounded by his fans, but he still couldn't tolerate his antics to almost any extent.
Spencer pestered him with questions as they walked in, and Carlton tightened his jaw.
"Why'd you make me stop, Lassifras? I mean, it's only a little wandless magic, it's not a huge deal…"
"You're an idiot, Spencer," he tersely replied as they sat down at a table together. "They don't teach it here because it's banned. It's considered to be an extremely unstable and unpredictable way to use magic, as well as too volatile for even the most advanced wizards. You're lucky a teacher didn't catch you!"
The last part of this was hissed out as he glanced around to make sure that no one could hear their conversation.
"But…I've been doing it since I was seven. How can it be-"
Lassiter cut him off.
"Any magic not properly channeled by either a wand or another proper secondary or tertiary proxy is considered A-Level dangerous magic."
Looking genuinely surprised at the information, Spencer hesitated a moment, putting some potatoes on his plate, and then said, "Huh. That explains a lot, actually." He took a bite…and then continued to talk, with his mouth partially full, leaving Carlton feeling slightly nauseous. "Like, how I haven't even seen the professors using it. But…what if your wand breaks and you have to use it in an emergency, like, you know, if your life is on the line?"
Lassiter found himself rolling his eyes yet again.
"If you're a decent wizard, that never happens," he quipped. "Besides, what kind of wand do you have anyway?"
Shawn shoved his bag to the side and then proudly pulled out his wand, whipping it out of, of all places, his boot.
He waved it in Lassiter's direction and said, "Thirteen and a quarter inches, raven feather, cedar. It's a Morningway creation, from Salem." He gave it an elaborate twirl and then put it on the table, throwing Lassiter a grin as he said, "I've shown you mine. Now, you show me yours. Quid pro quo, Clarice."
Not understanding the reference, but noting the suggestive eyebrow sent in his direction, he reluctantly pulled out his own wand from its' holder on the inside of his arm. Before he could say a word, however, Spencer not only spoke first, but grabbed his wand right from his hand.
"Ollivander's, eleven and half inches," he drawled out, twirling it. His fingers tightened slightly as he made a weird motion with his hand, and he added, "Dragon heartstring." He then looked at it and smirked, as though amused by something. "Blackthorn wood."
Lassiter snatched his wand back, glaring daggers at him.
"You don't just grab someone's wand."
"That's what he said," he snapped back, leering at him with a humorous glint in his eye.
Lassiter just stared at him. Spencer stared right back, one eyebrow arching imperiously as if daring him to reply. Carlton had the distinct impression that, if he did, he would be, in Muggle terms, horribly outgunned in a match of wits…so he said nothing and went back to his food. The Ravenclaw seemed slightly affronted at being so easily dismissed, and Lassiter fully expected him to go to his usual table, where several girls from different Houses sat waiting for him, all of them sending coquettish smiles and flirtatious looks in the Spencer's direction. So, he was surprised when Shawn stayed next to him, both of them eating their dinners in comfortable silence.
After a while, he noted that O'Hara hadn't shown up, and he hesitantly asked, "Spencer, you wouldn't happen to know where O'Hara is, do you?"
Spencer nodded, still chewing, and replied, "She's up on the Astronomy tower, finishing up her homework with Gus. Man, he's really got it bad for her. It's a bit sad, don't you think?"
Surprised that he'd noticed, Carlton nodded, and added, "Yeah, I'm getting kind of sick of it, actually. He should just ask her out already and get it over with. I am getting tired of watching him moon after her every day like some disgustingly dimwitted dwarf."
"Nice alliteration there, Lassi."
And with that, they lapsed into a comfortable silence, which took Carlton off guard. He was used to the thinly veiled animosity between the two of them, not this…comradery. It was an odd feeling, but not one that he felt had to be too soon discarded. He was enjoying it, actually. Which led him to his next decision.
He took another bite of food and then, swallowing, said, "Do you know about a guy named Gibbs Bloomquist?"
"He's the main head hunter for QUILL," Shawn answered, his mouth still full. "The best head hunter they've got, actually. I heard some rumours that he was at a few of the games this year," he added, looking almost pleased at the possibility.
Lassiter nodded. He still couldn't believe that he was considering this. Talking about being recruited by QUILL with Spencer? It was obvious by how he reacted that he was hoping to get some attention drawn towards his skill as Ravenclaw Seeker, and Lassiter actually felt a stab of guilt for even thinking about bringing it up with him. It would be unkind, and almost cruel.
So, instead of saying what he wanted to say, what came out instead was, "Yeah, me, too. Just thought that you might know more about it."
Spencer shook his head and took another bite of his dinner roll.
"Nope. But I'd kill to be recruited by him. They say that once you're picked by Bloomquist, you have a guaranteed career."
The Slytherin didn't know how to respond to that, so he stayed silent, his mind still silently going over his options. Yes, this was an amazing opportunity, but, more than anything, he wanted to be an Auror. He glanced at Spencer and wondered how mad he would be if he told him that Bloomquist wanted him. He'd hate him, for sure. And, at that thought, he felt an odd churning in his stomach. As much as he and Spencer seemed to compete and obviously take pleasure at the other's misfortune…he didn't want him to hate him.
In fact, surprisingly enough, he seemed to want the opposite. He wouldn't be entirely displeased if Spencer started being nicer to him, and they were…well, not really friends, but someone that the other could trust enough to talk to every once in a while.
He brushed his thoughts to the side and they finished eating their dinners in silence, after which Lassiter stood and headed for the Slytherin common room.
Spencer didn't try to follow him this time, thank god.
The instant he was in his common room he tossed his bag in the direction of the boys dorms and then threw himself onto the couch facing the windows that looked directly into the lake itself. Seconds after he sat down, Elise King collapsed on the couch next to him, saying, "Thanks for covering for me, Carlton. It's been a brutal couple of days." The last part was sniffled out as she blew her nose, and he nodded and replied, "Sure thing."
Elise then added, "By the way, awesome job beating Spencer! I don't think that I could have done it. He's too good on a broom, you know?"
Carlton nodded a second time.
He glanced over at her, wondering if he should talk to her about Bloomquist. She was a tiny thing with short, messy brown hair. Elise was a meager five-foot-three, and when she wore gray sweatpants and one of her father's Oxford Alumni shirts, she looked even smaller than she was. The sleeves of the shirt were shoved up over her wrists and even with the drawstring on her pants pulled tight, the pants swept past her feet, which were currently tucked up beside him as she made herself comfortable on the black leather couch.
After a moment of both of them looking out the glass windows and staring at the giant squid as it swam past, he asked her, "What do you know about Gibbs Bloomquist?"
"The headhunter for QUILL?"
She smiled and said in a slightly stuffy voice, "Only that he's an ex-Slytherin who is the best in the business at finding people careers in Quidditch. I mean, sure, there are a few rumours that he's taking a few extra galleons under the table, but no one really cares because it's Quidditch." She blew her nose a second time, and added, "He used to play himself, way back when, but Slytherin never won the Quidditch cup when he played, so I think he resents it…" She paused and then gave Carlton a look, an eyebrow arching. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no reason. Just, you know…curious."
She snorted and then coughed, choking for a moment, before she finally cleared her throat enough to say, "He wants to recruit you as an official Reservist Player, doesn't he?"
Elise let out a sigh and put her head on his shoulder, and he didn't protest. She was like a little sister to him, and after a moment, she said, "Well, if you accept, they'll pay for your Auror training, for sure…but I doubt you'll ever be an actual Auror. They'll end up shuffling you between so many teams you'll never get a chance to go after your real dreams…"
He nodded again, not sure of how to respond.
After a while, she stilled and Carlton could tell that she had fallen asleep.
He thought about changing his position, but she seemed comfortable, so he let her stay, and instead used his wand to summon his bag to his lap. Since he was going to be stuck there until she woke up, he might as well get some work done.