Author's Note: Since it's the weekend I decided to go ahead and upload the second chapter. I would like to thank everyone who read the first chapter, favorited, followed, and reviewed. Special thanks to STAusd, Marcinox, florperlachiquis52, jarjarobot324, and the two guest reviewers who showed their support. Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy chapter two!
Chapter Two: Gryffindor Quidditch Tryouts
Hermione thought that her first week back at Hogwarts had gone well, but she was grateful when Saturday rolled around and she was able to crash on the couch in the Gryffindor Common Room to immerse herself in her Transfiguration homework.
"This week's been almost as bad as our O.W.L. homework last year," Ron groaned as he slumped into an armchair by the fire. "And it's only just begun," he added incredulously.
"It's only going to get worse from here, so you better stay on top of your homework," Hermione warned, not bothering to look up from her own homework and beginning to regret her decision to study in the common room instead of the library.
The weekend passed much too quickly, but Hermione was able to finish her Transfiguration and Arithmancy homework, giving her the advantage over the following week's homework.
As the Gryffindor Quidditch Tryouts on Saturday grew closer, Hermione noticed Ron was growing more and more anxious. She assured him on several occasions that he had played magnificently the previous year and was sure to again, but that didn't seem to help.
"Yeah, but Harry's already said that being on the team the year before doesn't guarantee you a spot this year," Ron had mumbled back, seeking more reassurance.
Ron's Transfiguration homework seemed to be piling up at an alarming rate, so Hermione offered to help him with it, hoping to relieve some of his worries.
He had gladly accepted her offer, and it wasn't long until Harry gravitated toward them with his own Transfiguration homework.
Saturday arrived, and Hermione had been irritated, but not too surprised, when Harry had chosen to keep the Half-Blood Prince's copy of Advanced Potion Making instead of trading it in for the brand new copy Flourish and Blotts had sent him.
Her irritation had been momentarily forgotten as she unfolded her morning copy of the Daily Prophet and scanned it.
The front page had told of the arrest of Stanley Shunpike, the man who ran the Knight Bus. He was suspected of being a Death Eater.
Neither she, Harry, nor Ron found it very likely that he was actually a Death Eater.
After the three of them had finished eating, they made their way to the Quidditch pitch. Hermione noticed Ron growing paler with every step he took, and Hermione knew it had nothing to do with the cool autumn air cutting through her jacket.
They passed Parvati Patil and Lavender Brow, both deep in conversation until Parvati spotted them. She nudged Lavender who quickly turned their way and smiled at Ron.
Ron's face, alarmingly pale only minutes before, suddenly grew more animated, and Hermione could swear she saw him smirk. His walk became more confident.
Hermione glanced over at Harry who appeared to be trying not to laugh.
Although amused, Hermione was simultaneously annoyed and disappointed that Ron could be influenced in such a way by a girl as silly as Lavender Brown. The girl believed in all that nonsense Professor Trelawney spouted out ー how thick could you get?
Hermione made her way to the stands, not bothering to wish good luck to Ron, and found a seat where she could watch the tryouts with ease.
She was busy watching Harry talk with Cormac McLaggen when she heard a familiar voice behind her.
"You haven't been cheating anymore, have you, Miss Granger?"
Callum Rafferty sat down beside her, smiling. Despite his comment, Hermione felt, to her own surprise, happy to see him.
"What do you mean?" Hermione retorted.
"The other day, when I bumped into you, you were mumbling something about cheating."
"Oh," Hermione murmured, turning back to face the Quidditch field. "Well, I wasn't talking about myself..."
Rafferty smiled. "Don't take it to heart. I was only joking."
Hermione saw McLaggen sit down a few rows below her looking irritated.
"Big fan of Quidditch are you?" Rafferty asked as all the players began separating into groups of ten.
Hermione chuckled, lightening up some. "Not really. I'm just here to watch some friends."
"Oh? Which ones are yours then?"
Hermione pointed to Ron, once again looking nervous and pale. Lavender Brown's influence had been short-lived apparently. "That's Ron Weasley, and the captain is my other friend ーHarry Potter." Hermione watched for Rafferty's reaction to Harry's name, but he didn't react.
"Arthur Weasley's boy, isn't he?" Rafferty asked non-chalantly, as if he already knew the answer, and gestured to Ron.
Hermione nodded. "Yes, he is."
"Good man Arthur Weasley... It would seem you've chosen your friends wisely, Miss Granger," he smiled.
They both turned their attention back to the tryouts. The groups of ten had flown around the pitch several times, the majority falling off their broomsticks or crashing into things, and one group was now strewn atop one another in a large pile.
"That happened to me once," Rafferty commented as they watched the group struggle to get back on their feet. "I had the misfortune to be the one on the bottom."
Hermione laughed. "You played Quidditch?"
"Only for my third and fourth years. I was too busy with my O.W.L.s in my fifth year to be able to join the team."
"Were you any good?"
Rafferty shrugged. . "We lost the house cup both years."
Hermione noticed the scarlet and gold scarf tucked beneath his coat and asked, "Gryffindor?"
Rafferty smiled and nodded in reply.
Hermione bit her lip. "Mr. Rafferty," she tentatively said, "I was just wondering ーer, what are you doing here at Hogwarts?"
"I'm an Auror."
"An Auror?" she echoed. Why didn't I think of that before? Of course he's an Auror. Duh.
"Yes, I've been stationed here at Hogwarts with several other Aurors to keep an eye out on...things."
By things, she knew he in part meant Harry. Hermione still couldn't believe she hadn't thought of it before. Of course he was an Auror. She knew they were staying in Hogsmeade by order of the Minsitry, keeping a watchful eye on Hogwarts.
"I can understand why you didn't have time for Quidditch then," Hermione stated. "The O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. standards for Aurors are high. My friend Harry is hoping to become one."
"From everything I've heard he would make an excellent Auror."
Hermione smiled. She knew he would too.
She noticed Cormac McLaggen flying up to the goalposts. Ron was standing below, watching McLaggen with apprehension.
Ginny tossed the first Quaffle. Blocked. The secondー blocked.
Hermione sighed as the third and fourth Quaffles were blocked too.
She bit her lip. They had been learning non-verbal spells in Defense Against the Darks Arts class with Professor Snape, and she felt sure that she could cast a Confundus charm on McLaggen without anyone noticing, except...
Callum Rafferty was sitting directly beside her. She had enjoyed their talk more than she had expected she would, but she hoped he would leave so she could give Ron a helping hand. She knew it was against the rules, but...
Suddenly Rafferty stood up. "Would you excuse me, Miss Granger?"
As his footsteps grew fainter and fainter, Hermione turned back toward the goalposts just as Ginny was launching the Quaffle toward the left goalpost.
McLaggen abruptly shot off toward the right, and the Quaffle sailed through the left goalpost. Hermione smirked and looked down at her lap. There was some laughter from the stands as McLaggen descended, looking vexed.
"Good luck!" Hermione heard Lavender Brown call to Ron.
Ginny tossed the first Quaffle. Blocked. The secondー blocked. The third, fourthーblocked.
Hermione held her breath as Ginny tossed the fifth and final Quaffle.
Ron almost fell off his broom in the process, but he successfully blocked it.
Hermione stood up and made her way toward the field. She smiled at the sight of Ron, looking the happiest she'd seen him since he had won the match last year while she and Harry had been in the Forbidden Forrest with Hagrid.
Harry and McLaggen were talking; neither one of them looked happy with the other. As Hermione's feet touched the grass, McLaggen stormed away, leaving a pale Harry in his wake.
Hermione glanced back momentarily to see Rafferty leaned up against the stands. He shot her a mischievous smile before giving her a little wave and disappearing behind the stands.
She smiled to herself, sure that a little color was rising to her cheeks, and wondered if he had seen her cast that charm.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed that. Suggestions and constructive criticisms are always welcome. I plan on uploading the third chapter soon. Thanks again!