Harry weaved in and out of the magically appearing hoops, body pressed right down to the stick of his broom getting every bit of power he could out of his Cleansweep Twelve. In a way, his broom downgrade had been a blessing in disguise, he was used to the crazy speeds of the Firebolt, riding this broom felt like he had all the time in the world to react and change directions.

Harry roared around the point of the oval and started making his way back towards the finish line, navigating a tricky sequence of hoops that forced him to go up and down so many times he felt like his broom was trying to buck him off. Then there was a hard right. A hard left. A vicious drop down to ground level, pull up, right, and then he was soaring again, the finish line was in reach now. He didn't dare lose focus, but he couldn't help counting down the hoops, 5, 4, 3, 2-

Out the corner of his eye he saw a Bludger shoot straight for him. He couldn't dodge, if he did he'd miss the hoop. Flashing back to a stormy night's training at Hogwarts, Harry let himself slip off the top of the broom, but kept his hands and legs wrapped around it. He could feel the wind from the Bludger whistle over his knuckles as it missed him by centimetres, his broom continuing on its path unimpeded through the hoop with him still upside down underneath it. He caught sight of the last hoop and spiralled down in another dive, rolling his body back on top of the broom, rocketing through the final obstacle, and pulling up to a perfect stop in front of a glowing Benjy Williams.

"Awesome! Just awesome! Not sure I'd have been able to react with a Sloth Grip Roll that fast! Well done, Vernon!"

A smattering of polite applause went up from the rival Seekers, many torn between admiration and annoyance. Harry smiled and thanked Benjy before returning to the pack, breathing a deep sigh of relief. It had nearly all been over because of an errant Bludger. Harry turned to look up at the Beaters and saw a mountain of a man, built like a fridge, gripping a Beater's bat and staring down at him. Dermott Hall was hovering in front of him yelling, but the man wasn't paying him any attention. He had flat, black hair, and Harry couldn't help but feel he somewhat resembled Frankenstein's monster. After a few more seconds the man slowly turned his head and retreated to the group of applicants, leaving Hall dumbfounded mid-rant.

Harry was a bit dumbfounded as well. So it hadn't been errant? Why would the fridge-man intentionally hit a Bludger at him? Any further thoughts on the matter were cut short by a tug on his sleeve.

"Hello, Vernon."

Harry turned and was met with a cheeky smile from his other former Gryffindor captain, Angelina Johnson. He was surprised to see her, especially dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Muggle clothes. Before he could ask how she knew, she winked and tapped the pair of Omnioculars around her neck.

"I watched your flying patterns for 4 years; don't think a change in hair colour would fool me."

Harry pulled her out of the group quickly, but most of his surrounding competition was transfixed on the horrifyingly poor run from one Egbert Ecclestone.

"What are you doing here?" Harry asked.

"I'm in the squad!" She replied, positively beaming. "Spent most of last year as a backup, then got some chances on the Reserves team very late in the season. Coach told me after our last game that he'd decided to keep me on and cut someone else. I was so surprised!"

"Don't be!" Harry slapped her on the shoulder. "You're the best Chaser I know!"

Angelina giggled. "Trust me, if you make it into the squad that opinion will change real quickly."

Harry shook his head. "Never. How are my chances of getting in anyway? And what's the coach like?"

Angelina turned to look at Coach Deverill, still sitting in his chair, still watching the Chasers through his Omnioculars.

"He…is a total genius. When it comes to recognising talent, I mean. There are better tacticians and strategists out there, but he just has this ability to know what people are capable of, what he can get out of them…you know?"

Harry was a little taken aback. He had pegged the man as more of a grouchy gym coach type than an insightful genius.

"As for you…if you keep flying like that then you're a shoo-in! Go get 'em!"

Harry thanked Angelina for the encouragement and sidled back over to his group, leaving her to return to her vantage point up in the stands. As he made it back he suddenly felt a pang of guilt. Angelina and Fred Weasley had been quite close, in fact he distinctly remembered Fred brashly asking her to the Yule Ball. Maybe he should have said something…

They were into the r's now with Bradley Robinson completing his run. Apparently he too had made it through every hoop, leaving Harry wondering how the coach was going to cut down this field. He'd never tried out as a Seeker, and hadn't tried anyone else out for the position when he was captain either. Maybe he should have interrupted Ron during his history of Quidditch lecture to ask some more questions. Harry continued to watch the applicants until…

"Lucky last! Yates, Roger!"

Harry watched another near-perfect performance before the swarm of tryouts returned from their individual practices to land alongside the Seekers. Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they watched the four Puddlemere players meet up with Coach Deverill and start sorting through the paper applications to show him who they were nominating. Harry's stomach squirmed. For someone who had defeated the greatest dark wizard of the age multiple times, he was disturbingly nervous about making the cut for Puddlemere United. He really did love Quidditch, but it was more than that. This was his chance at a normal life. As normal a life as you can have being a wizard who plays sport on broomsticks, anyway. It was a chance to actually shape his own legacy, to be famous not because of his mother's sacrifice or because someone wanted to kill him, but because he was talented at something.

Coach Deverill cleared his throat. "Thank you everyone for your patience, if I call your name out you have been cut, please leave the stadium immediately." In a flat voice, devoid of any emotion or interest, he started reading the names. Nearly everyone, from Adam Ackroyd (An enraged beater) to Roger Yates (The impressive Seeker Harry had just watched) were called out. Some shrugged their shoulders and took off, some swore and kicked a nearby Quaffle, and a few even attempted to argue. However after the first couple that tried arguing had been forcefully, and quite painfully, banished from the stadium, the rest went quietly.

The coach finally reached the end of his list and Harry breathed a deep sigh of relief, he'd made it through the first trial. He looked around and found he could pretty much count who was left as the field was now so sparse. The coach however cleared his throat again and saved him the trouble.

"Congratulations to the…4 Beaters, 7 Keepers- 7!? You're soft, Wood. 9 Chasers, and 4 Seekers. Split into your groups again and get ready for the second trial."

Once again Coach Deverill sunk into his chair and started fanning himself, apparently exhausted from the exertion of the 10 metre walk.

Harry walked back over to Benjy Williams, very confused as to why so many of the Seekers had been cut. He was not alone. A tiny woman with bright green hair tied in a spiked bun, and several piercings along her nose and ears stepped forward, scowling.

"How come you cut all them Seekers, huh? They seemed fine to me."

Benjy smiled politely back at her. "I didn't think you'd mind me thinning out your competition, Miss Perry."

The woman, Perry, put her hands on her hips and pouted. "I wanted to beat them myself, then you can eliminate them."

Benjy laughed. "That attitude is probably why you're still standing in front of me. I didn't announce it, but I was actually timing each of your runs."

"So…it was secretly a time trial?" Harry recognised the Seeker asking this question, the slightly older man, Michael Belby.

Benjy smiled innocently again. "Yes…and no. Quidditch is a professional sport that requires technical competency. Speed, agility, endurance. But to be a Seeker, well, I look for competitive, egotistical, individuals. Resolve, mental strength, whatever you want to call it. Individuals that will perform under any conditions to win! Anyone who took the obstacle course slowly to ensure they didn't make a mistake is, in my opinion, not fit to be a Seeker."

Harry frowned. He didn't consider himself egotistical, and yet… He cast his mind back and couldn't come up with a logical reason why he'd gone flat out through the entire course. Even when the Bludger came at him, he hadn't for a moment entertained the notion of pulling up, doubling back, and then proceeding through the hoop. The only solution he'd considered was one that didn't affect his speed.

'There's talent, oh my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting… So where shall I put you?'

Harry gritted his teeth. It had nearly been 8 years but that damn Sorting Hat would never stop reminding him he had a bit of Slytherin in him.

Perry didn't look totally convinced and opened her mouth to argue again, but Benjy swiftly cut across her.

"Don't worry, I think you'll get exactly the direct kind of competition you're looking for in our next trial." Benjy put his hand in his pocket and pulled out three golden balls, all about the size of a walnut. Sensing they were out in the open air, the three balls sprouted wings which slowly started to beat.

"Now it's very simple," Benjy continued, "I only have one rule for this trial. Catch one of these Snitches and you make it through. Don't, and you're out. Ready? Go!"


A/N: Thanks for the really kind reviews :) I know I'm taking my time a bit with the pacing but that's just my style aha