Disclaimer: This story was made without any intention of profiting from it. Only the original characters and the plot are mine. The rest of it belongs to JKR.
A/N: HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my reader! I deeply apologize for the long silence and wait. It's been a busy three months. I also had too many ideas coming to me that conflicted with each other. I had to sort through them and decide what to use. This one is short but definitely shows that I'm back. Hopefully, the next one will be out within a couple of weeks. Please read and review.
Chapter 63: A new Quidditch teammate
Classes at Hogwarts were the same as the previous year with the exception of Defense. Kingsley had been badly injured in the last moments of the attack on Hogsmeade so he was not fit to be DADA teacher again. In his place was another Auror not well known to Harry and his friends, Joshua Jones, who seemed to be in his mid-thirties.
His father had assured Harry that Josh was very competent, having been an Auror trainer for five years now. This proved correct when the seventh year Gryffs had DADA on their first Friday back. Josh proved to be just as good as Kingsley and told Harry he was looking forward to supervising the Defense Club that night.
The first meeting of the Defense Club was spent greeting the new members, most of whom were the new third years and going over some of the spells learned the previous year. Josh gave some good suggestions while keeping out of the way of Harry and the other senior members which increased his standing in Harry's eyes.
On the second Saturday of September, Ron held Quidditch tryouts of the Gryffindor team. When the New Marauders came onto the Quidditch Pitch, they found almost half of their house there, waiting for them.
Looking irritated, Ron said, "All right, everyone who came to simply watch the tryouts or isn't serious about playing on the team, leave or go to the stands." Half of those on the Pitch left the grounds, most of them headed for the Gryffindor side of the Stands. That was when they spotted her.
"What's she doing here?" Maggie asked the others.
"Well, it appears that she's trying out for the team," Harry answered. SHE happened to be Romilda Vane, ex-girlfriend of Ti Black nee Malfoy so he could understand the looks of disgust and skepticism on the faces of Ginny, Maggie and Rose, especially the younger girl.
Before they could offer any comment, Ron called everyone trying out, including the previous year's team, to take several laps around the Pitch with every lap at increasing speeds. That eliminated those who were not very good flyers or couldn't keep up, leaving twenty people aside from the previous year's regular and reserve teams. Harry noticed that Romilda was among those twenty.
Ron then called for those who were trying out to be Chasers. Since Katie Bell had graduated the previous year, they needed to find a replacement for her. There was a chance that they'd find someone better than Ginny, Rose, Ti, Demelza or Maggie so he had them also included in the tryout. This year, there were fifteen candidates in all.
Deciding to do something different, he also called on the other Keeper candidates, of which there were four, including Melinda Piper. He then had the Chaser candidates take five shots on each Keeper candidate for a total of twenty-five shots, with Hermione keeping score.
It was no surprise that Ginny and Rose each managed to make a total of twenty successful goals, including three against Ron. Maggie was next with nineteen successful goals, including two against Ron. Ti and Demelza each managed eighteen goals but failed to score any goal on Ron. What was surprising was Romilda who managed to equal Maggie's score, including one goal on Ron. The other candidates could only manage fifteen or less goals.
Of the four other Keeper candidates, only Melinda managed to block near as many shots as Ron, including a couple from each of the top Chaser candidates. Ron thanked the four and asked them to take a seat in the stands.
Once that was done, he had the top nine Chaser candidates separate into groups of three and had them practice passing to each other for a few minutes while being attacked by Bludgers sent by Neville and Seamus. When all that was done, it was no surprise that Ginny, Rose and Maggie had performed the best. However, it was a surprise to see how well Romilda worked with the two other Chasers she was paired with. Meanwhile, the witch partnered with Ti and Demelza kept dropping the Quaffle or flinching whenever a Bludger came close to her. Shaking his head, Ron asked all the Chaser candidates to sit in the stands.
Ron repeated the way he did the Beater and Seeker tryouts last year. While Andrew Coote and Ritchie Cootes showed big improvements from the previous year, Neville and Seamus were still the best Beaters, working seamlessly together.
There were five hopefuls aside from Harry vying for the Seeker position. But after the first test of Catch-the-Golf-Balls-all-over-the-Pitch, it was down to Harry and Sharon Green again in the final hunt for the practice Snitch. Harry found that she had improved a lot since the last year and he had to use some special moves to beat her to the Snitch.
Harry hugged the younger girl and told her, "I think I'll be glad to graduate this year. If I was trying out for the team again next year, I'd be worried about keeping my position. We'll work out in our practices so you get even better than me. That way, Ginny and Rose will have a great Seeker for their last school team."
Sharon blushed and hugged him again. "T-thanks, H-Harry. I want to be able to play professional Quidditch when I graduate, maybe even for the Holyhead Harpies."
"That's great," Harry said. "Ginny and Rose are thinking of the same thing. It'll be great if you three could be teammates after school."
Ron then called all the candidates to the stands and announced the composition of both the main and reserve teams. The regular team consisted of him as Keeper, Harry as Seeker, Ginny, Rose and Maggie as Chasers and Neville and Seamus as Beaters. For the reserve team, he chose Melinda as Keeper, Sharon as Seeker, Ti, Demelza and Romilda as Chasers and Andrew and Ritchie as Beaters. Ron then thanked everyone for participating or showing their support. He called all thirteen other members to a short team meeting in the locker room where he told them some of his plans including the thrice weekly practices since they were scheduled to play Slytherin in November.
While they were meeting, Harry noticed that Maggie kept glancing at Romilda who was seated at the other end of the room. He guessed that she was not looking happy to have Romilda on the reserve team with Ti. Through their Bond, Ginny told him that Maggie was probably worried that Romilda would use it as an opportunity to try and get Ti back. However, that didn't prove the case. In fact, Romilda seemed to have her sights on another member of the team.
They were a bit surprised when Romilda came up to Neville as they started to walk back to the castle, gushing with compliments on his Beater skills. Harry barely managed to stop a furious Rose from hexing the younger girl who had latched on to her boyfriend's arm. Just as they got back to the castle, Hermione managed to step in and move a flustered Neville away on the pretext of having a NEWT level study group.
That didn't seem to deter Romilda since she started to wait after every practice for Neville to come out of the male locker room so she could walk with him back to the castle. Harry and Ginny used their connection to make sure that she and Rose were waiting for him and Neville after practice so Romilda would not have a chance to catch Neville without Rose. This left her looking frustrated every time.
Then Romilda started showing up at the end of some seventh year class periods and tried to walk with Neville back to the Gryffindor common room or Great Hall. However, Harry, Ron and Hermione were usually there to keep her off Neville. It was a good thing that Hermione didn't pair Neville and Romilda for the nightly Prefect patrols.
It finally came to a head on Friday in the third week of September when Professor Flitwick held Neville back after class to talk about a project in Charms. Harry wanted to stay but the diminutive professor told him to go on down to the Great Hall for lunch since their talk might take a few more minutes. Luckily, it seemed that Romilda was not outside the Charms classroom waiting for Neville.
Harry spotted Rose as she entered the Great Hall with Ginny a few minutes after he, Ron and Hermione got there. His sister seemed to notice that her boyfriend was not seated with his fellow seventh year Gryffindors. He went up to tell her that Neville had been delayed by Professor Flitwick.
Just he came up to Rose and Ginny, he heard Romilda's voice saying, "Oh, Neville that is so funny."
The three of them turned around and saw Neville and Romilda entering the Great Hall together, her hand on his arm. Neville looked nervous and his eyes widened when he saw Rose, Harry and Ginny.
Then Romilda said, "Neville, why don't we go together to Hogsmeade on the first Hogsmeade weekend two weeks from now?" She fluttered her eyelids at him.
Harry rolled his eyes and thought about how thick the girl was. He kept a careful eye on his sister and his Bondmate who both looked murderous at the younger girl's temerity.
Before Rose or Ginny could pull their wands out, Neville looked at Romilda and said, "I'm sorry, Romilda but in case you haven't noticed, I have a girlfriend and we're going to Hogsmeade together next Saturday and on every Saturday we're allowed to go to Hogsmeade. I'm not interested in anyone else, least of all you. I love Rose and only her. So please stop stalking me. It's getting creepy."
With that he grabbed Rose's arm and pulled her along with him toward the Gryffindor table with Harry and Ginny following them. Harry looked back as he sat down and saw that Romilda was still standing there with a stunned look, eyes starting to tear up. She then bolted from the Great Hall and Harry almost felt sorry for her. After that, Romilda seemed to leave Neville alone though Harry and Ginny did notice that she seemed to be less visible, even in the common room.
On the morning of the first Hogsmeade visit of the year on October 3rd, the students from third year up were filled with the usual excitement of getting out of the school for a few hours. The New Marauders went quickly through their breakfast, even Ron, anxious to be first in the line of students who would be passing under Filch's watchful eye.
Once past the caretaker, the eight Gryffindors walked slowly down the path to the village, splitting up to make their rounds of the stores by couples. There were many Aurors visible in the village and Harry had been told by his father that there were also several Aurors in plain clothes wandering around.
Ron, Hermione, Harry, Ginny, Rose and Neville met for lunch at the crowded Three Broomsticks while Maggie and Ti met up with some of their other friends. While the older Gryffindors were waiting for their orders, a nervous looking Romilda approached them, specifically Rose and Neville.
"Um, Neville," she stammered, "I-I'd like to apologize to you and to Rose for the way I've been acting. I thought I could get you to like me if I just got you to spend time with me. But when you told me how you felt about Rose, I realized that couldn't happen. I hope you'll forgive me for bothering you."
Neville smiled and said, "That's okay, Romilda. I know it's hard to find someone who'll love you as much as you love them. It took me a while to realize what Rose means to me. I'm sorry that I'm not the one for you but I'm sure you'll find him some day. You're still young. Some people aren't lucky enough to find the one for them while they're still in school."
"T-thanks, Neville," Romilda said. "I do hope so. Um, Rose, I hope you'll forgive me for trying to steal your boyfriend. Here, I saw you looking at this earlier in Honeyduke's and got it for you as a way of apologizing." She placed a packet of Chocoballs, Rose's favorite Honeyduke's candy on the table.
Harry could see that Rose was struggling to control her temper but she finally managed to calm down and said, "All right, Romilda. I accept your apology but please try to find someone who isn't in a relationship already."
"Thanks," she said. She then left the pub in a hurry, leaving them to their lunch. The six breathed a sigh of relief and hoped their days of having to deal with Romilda were over. The rest of their lunch was uneventful, after which they decided to head back to the castle and enjoy the rest of the day inside the school grounds.
Ten days later, the New Marauders were studying together in the common room in the evening after dinner when Rose suddenly fell to the floor and began convulsing. Neville grabbed hold of her to keep her from breaking any bones.
When foam started forming in her mouth, Harry realized what was happening. Fortunately, the seventh years were studying Potions and had their Potion kits out. He grabbed a bezoar from his kit and shoved it into his sister's mouth.
After a few seconds, Rose lay still and started to breath normally. Sighing with relief, they levitated her and the boys and Maggie brought her to the Hospital Wing while Hermione and Ginny went to get Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore.
When they arrived at the Hospital Wing, Neville gently lowered her into one of the beds while Harry went to Madam Pomfrey's office to call her.
"Yes, what is it?" the school nurse called out when Harry knocked on her office's door.
Harry opened the door and saw her sitting at her desk. "Madam Pomfrey, please come quickly. My sister, I think she's been poisoned."
"Oh my," she exclaimed and hurried out to the ward, going immediately to Rose's side. As she passed her wand over Rose, she asked, "What exactly happened to her?"
"We were studying in the common room," Neville began, his eyes heavy with worry, "when she suddenly fell out of her chair and started convulsing. We didn't know at first what was wrong with her."
"Then foam started coming out of her mouth a few seconds after her convulsions started," Harry continued, "That's when I suspected that she had been poisoned somehow. So I got a Bezoar from my Potions kit and stuck it in her mouth. Luckily, it seemed to work since the foam cleared away and she stopped convulsing."
Madam Pomfrey nodded but remained silent while she continued passing her wand over Rose while muttering diagnostic spells. Harry used the time to contact his father through the mirror.
"Harry, what is it?" James asked as he answered the mirror."
"Dad, you and Mum have to come to Hogwarts," Harry said. "It's Rose. We were studying in the common room earlier when she fell out of her chair and began convulsing. Then foam started coming out of her mouth. I thought she might have been poisoned so I stuck a Bezoar from my Potions kit into the mouth which cleared up the foam and stopped her convulsions. Then we took her to the Hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey is still checking her out."
"Oh Merlin," James exclaimed. "We'll be there as soon as we can."
Just as Harry broke contact with his father, Hermione and Ginny came into the Hospital Wing with Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall.
Their Head of House gasped as she approached them while Professor Dumbledore looked grave. They told the two Professors the same thing they had told Madam Pomfrey.
"How in the world could she have been poisoned?" Professor McGonagall asked. "If you were in the Gryffindor common room, how could the poison have gotten in her system?"
"Professor," Neville said, "Could it have been something she ate?"
"How could that be, Neville?" Ron asked. "It's been two hours since we had dinner."
"Well, she started to feel hungry while we were studying," Neville said. "So she got some chocolate from her trunk. I'll go get them." He left the Hospital Wing, headed for Gryffindor Tower.
Meanwhile, Madam Pomfrey had finished her examination of Rose.
"Well, Poppy?" McGonagall asked.
"It appears that she was not poisoned or rather that she didn't take in true poison," she said, "Rather, she seemed to have ingested a potion that went bad, the specific one I cannot identify except that it is a rare potion."
Everyone looked surprised and puzzled.
"How the bloody hell did that happen?" Ron asked.
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed, "Language."
"Oops, sorry, Professors," Ron said sheepishly.
"That is all right, Mr. Weasley," Professor Dumbledore said. "I see we have a bit of a mystery on our hands. Is it possible that she had drunken a potion during dinner?"
"I don't think so, Professor," Harry said. "She drank pumpkin juice during dinner. Ginny and I got our juice from the same pitcher and none of us seem to have suffered any ill effects."
Dumbledore nodded his head, "That does seem to rule out that possibility."
Just then, Neville came back. "Here are the chocolates Rose was eating earlier, Professor." He placed a packet of Chocolate frogs, Honeyduke's toffees and a pack of Chocoballs that was almost empty.
"Hang on, Neville," Harry said, "Isn't that the pack of Chocoballs Romilda gave Rose the other Saturday in Hogsmeade?"
Neville looked closer at the pack and said, "Why yes, Harry, I believe it is. She hasn't had a chance to open it before tonight. You don't think this is what poisoned her, do you?"
Professor Dumbledore took the different chocolates and ran his wand over them. "I think we should ask Professor Snape to take a look at these and see if they've been tampered with. In the meantime, I think that Rose is out of danger. Minerva, please have someone go to the gates to let James and Lily in as I'm sure Harry has contacted them through their wonderful communication mirror. Harry, you and Neville may remain until they arrive. The rest of you should go back to Gryffindor Tower."
Accepting Dumbledore's instructions, Ginny kissed Harry goodbye and led the others out of the Hospital Wing together with the two professors. Harry and Neville sat down on either side of Rose, each taking hold of one of her hands while Madam Pomfrey went into her office.
After a few minutes, the doors to the Hospital wing opened and through them walked Harry's parents with Professor Dumbledore. The couple hurried over to Rose's bed where they embraced Harry and Neville. Lily sat beside Rose where she took hold of one of Rose's hand, looking to Harry to be on the verge of tears.
"Are you sure you told us everything that happened to Rose, Harry?" James asked.
"Yeah, Dad, I'm sure," Harry said. "It was all so sudden. Why didn't she See it, Dad?" Harry knew his dad would understand that he meant Rose's Seer ability to have visions of the future.
James sighed, "I don't know, Harry. Her ability to see the future isn't a sure thing. I guess the vision of this didn't come to her."
"Harry, I think you and Neville should head back to Gryffindor tower now," Professor Dumbledore said. "I doubt there will be any change in Rose's condition before morning."
"All right, Professor," Harry said. He turned to his father. "Dad, just in case, please let us know if anything else happens."
"Yes, son," James said, "we will."
Harry and Neville went back to Gryffindor Tower where they found the rest of their friends still awake and waiting for them. They were disappointed over the lack of news. They all knew that they'd be unable to sleep because of this so they sat down in their usual area in front of the common room's fireplace, wondering exactly what happened to Rose.
The following day, Harry and his friends woke up early feeling tired from having fallen asleep in the common room. After a quick shower and change of clothes, they went to the Hospital wing, hoping for good news about Rose. However, when they got there, they found Rose to still be unconscious. Harry's parents told them that Madam Pomfrey felt it best to let her awaken on her own and not with a potion or spell.
The seven Gryffindors went to the Great Hall with heavy hearts. Ginny and Maggie tried to comfort Neville but weren't very successful since they were equally worried. It was still early so there weren't many students in the Great hall yet. When they got to the Gryffindor table however, they were met by Romilda.
"Oh Neville," she said, "I just heard about Rose. How is she? How are you doing?"
Neville stared at her for a moment then yelled, "How dare you!" That brought up Romilda short from trying to hug him. "What did you do to her, you bint? What did you put in those Chocoballs?"
She seemed to look at him in shock but Harry thought it didn't look true. "W-what are you talking about? I didn't do anything to them."
Neville grabbed her arm. "Don't lie to me. I thought you were really sorry about what you've been doing the last month but I'm not so sure now."
Just then, Professor McGonagall came up to them. "Mr. Longbottom, what is the meaning of this? Why are you manhandling Miss Vane?"
Neville didn't flinch at the tone in his Head of House's voice. "I think she had something to do with Rose's condition, Professor. She placed some sort of potion in those Chocoballs."
"Is this true, Miss Vane?" she asked Romilda who now looked nervous and uneasy and didn't answer her. Professor McGonagall looked at her for a few more seconds before saying, "I think you and I need to talk with the Headmaster. Miss Granger, since you're Head Girl as well as a fellow Gryffindor, please accompany us to the Headmaster's office."
It was evening by the time they found out exactly what happened. The potion in the Chocoballs was confirmed by Professor Snape to be the Draught of Living Death. However, the brewing had been botched which led to the near poisoning of Rose.
Romilda had no idea why there was a potion injected into the Chocoballs. She didn't even remember buying them. What she remembered was having them on her and thinking that it would be a good way to prove to Rose and Neville that she was really sorry for trying to get Neville to like her over Rose which was actually true.
Dumbledore discovered that she had been subjected to a Memory charm and Imperiused. He managed to gently break through the Memory charm to discover that it had been Amanda Bletchley, a fifth year Slytherin, who had Imperiused her and given her the Chocoballs to give to Rose, using the Memory charm to try to keep her identity a secret. On one hand, it cleared Romilda but on the other hand, it now worried them that there was an agent for Voldemort in the castle, someone they had little knowledge of.