House Category: Hogwarts
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Hogwarts students and staff
Beta Reader(s): blueartemis07
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Summary: What started as an effort to keep the students out of trouble became something else entirely.
Within eighteen hours of the Hogwarts Express's arrival for the fall term, the problem was obvious: the school was not ready. Oh, the classrooms were repaired and in better condition than since the days of Dilys Derwent, and the Houses were repaired and updated, so there was no reason not to start school on the proper day. However, there were whole sections of the castle that were still lying in rubble. There were corridors completely open to the elements.
It was apparent right after breakfast, when Hufflepuff and Gryffindor second years had free period, that something had to be done. The students couldn't just be left on their own. They might get into danger, or even worse--trouble. The best solution was to have the students come back to the Great Hall, but that wasn't working very well. House pride was causing quite a few spats.
During the next class period, the third year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws were worse. The students took advantage of the time to taunt and harass each other. As a result, very little homework was done, and quite a bit of damage was done to the tables and walls of the Great Hall.
"I hate to say it, but the Slytherins are the best of the lot," said Headmistress McGonagall during an impromptu staff meeting called that night. "I think it's because they're scared and uncertain of their welcome here."
"We can't rush the reconstruction," said Flitwick. "We need to take our time, assess what magic is present in every section, and whether to make improvements as we rebuild."
"I'm not suggesting that we rush. I don't think anyone would," answered McGonagall, "but how do we prevent the students from tearing the school apart?"
Everyone looked around the table at each other and shrugged. Professor Hooch opened up her mouth and then shut it again. Madam Pomfrey patted her hand and nodded encouragingly.
"Rolanda? Were you going to say something?"
She shrugged. "We've discussed this idea before, but why don't we send them out to the Quidditch pitch?"
"We already have four house teams, Rolanda."
"No, we should have intramurals. Have the students form teams according to their years, instead of by house."
"They won't play together."
"Perhaps not at first."
"It is the safest part of the grounds for them to be on," said Madam Pomfrey. "It's completely reconstructed."
"There is that," admitted Minerva. "Do you think it would work, Rolanda?"
"There was a similar arrangement made in the sixteen hundreds. An outbreak of influenza made the formal team arrangements impossible, so the students simply formed teams and played each other according to their years. It gave a great many students the opportunity to play that they hadn't had."
"It can't hurt, I suppose, and I'm sure many of the professors would enjoy watching the games."
The next morning saw the fifth year Slytherins and Ravenclaws scowling at each other on the field. "Alright, everyone, up on your brooms!" said Professor Hooch.
A chorus of groans greeted her. "But why?"
"We're going to work off all of the energy that caused Peeves to complain to the Headmistress, that's why," was the answer. "What happened to him yesterday, anyway?"
"It was something Professor Lupin taught us our first year," they answered with a smile.
"Lovely. Up you go, then."
With another groan, the students rose on their brooms and Hooch released the balls.
"All right, you lot. Just practice the basics. Pass the quaffle around and try to reach one of the goal posts. It doesn't matter which one. We're just getting used to doing it. Those of you who have bludgers, try to keep everyone from getting hit! Get up there and hustle!"
An hour later, the students were still grumbling, but because they were tired. A few were sore, and some complained that they'd been promised they wouldn't have to ride brooms once they'd passed their proficiency as firsties. Hooch cheerfully told them that they'd done well and that she would see them in a day or two. After the last one went through the doors into the castle, she heaved a deep sigh and prepared for the next group.
The only year exempted from Quidditch were the firsties, who had to learn how to fly a broom at all. After a few weeks, the students from one house were challenging the students of other houses to actual games. On days when the weather forced them into the Great Hall, the students held meetings and requested blackboards so they could discuss strategy.
House Heads started to get involved, asking about games and standings. On one of the staff room chalkboards, there was a section marked off on which an intricate scoreboard was kept. If it had not been for this board, a curious phenomenon wouldn't have been noted.
"Who won between the sixth year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs?" asked Minerva at the start of a meeting in November. There was no answer, so she looked at two professors over her glasses. "Pomona? Rolanda? Who won?"
"It's hard to say," answered Sprout. I suppose it was mostly Gryffindor, but it was a Hufflepuff who caught the snitch."
"Did the Gryffindor chasers do that well?"
"Actually, one of them was a Hufflepuff, too," said Hooch.
"Yes, and the keeper," reminded Sprout.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the losers of some of these games complain that if they could trade just one or two players, the outcomes would be completely different. So they have."
"They have what?" asked Flitwick.
"Traded players," explained Hooch. "Two students were selected as captain by their houses, and they took turns choosing players from both houses."
"It was just the sixth years who did that, though?" Minerva had high hopes,and a wager, riding on the fourth year Gryffindor/Slytherin match.
"No, all three matches today went this way."
As the school year progressed, the inclement weather kept the students in more often, and the strategy meetings included both houses that were in the Great Hall during any given class period. As each house had at least one free period with each other house during the week, eventually every student from each year knew the same things.
It shouldn't have been a surprise when a delegation of repeat seventh-years, led by Harry Potter and Greg Goyle, requested that the schedules be rearranged so that all the students of any one year could work together. The Headmistress sent them on their way with a promise to see what she could do and then sat back in her chair. Hearing a chuckle behind her, she turned and faced the Sorting Hat.
"You have something to say?"
"I should have thought of that myself, years ago, and suggested it as a means of settling disagreements."
"Can you argue with the results?"
No, she couldn't. In fact, disciplinary actions had been lower than she'd seen as a professor, because there were so few cross-house pranks.
By the time it was warm enough to play again, enough sections of the castle were repaired that the students were no longer required to spend their free time on the Quidditch pitch. However, the students were eager to get back out there, to play, to watch, to cheer for each other, and to be with friends from other houses.
At breakfast one morning, an owl dropped a scroll in front of one of the fourth year Hufflepuffs. She opened it, read it, and then looked up to realize that the third year Hufflepuffs were looking intently at her. She looked at them without giving any impression of what she thought. Then she stood and walked over to the next table. She stopped and talked to one of the fourth year Ravenclaws, then walked over and spoke to one of the fourth year Slytherins. She walked the width of hall and spoke to one of the fourth year Gryffindors. Finally, she returned to the table and nodded to the third years who had followed every move.
The professors watched in amazement the following Saturday as most of the student body walked down to the Quidditch pitch after breakfast. It wasn't a cold day, but there was a light drizzle. The professors followed too, and then didn't know where to sit. Instead of separating by house, the students were sitting together with the other children in their years. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Slytherin all sat mixed together in a way previously unheard of.
When they had a chance to focus through their omnioculars and various viewing aids, they noted a curious thing. All of the third year students were wearing white sashes. All of the fourth years wore black.
Two hours later, the faculty and students of Hogwarts made their way back to the castle. As they did, a scroll was handed to a fifth year student who had been a captain. By the time dinner was over everyone knew: The fifth and sixth year students would be playing the following Saturday.
A new sort of chart was begun in the staff room. The professors sighed for the days when they could wager on their houses quickly learned to handicap the students in new ways. Professors from differing houses who would barely acknowledge each other now became close friends as they preferred the moves of one year's seeker or the beaters from another year.
By the Easter Holiday, even the firsties were issuing challenges to the second and third years. The school's policy of excluding first year students from Quidditch was reviewed. It appeared that it was unnecessary.
Just before the Easter Holiday, a rather surprising petition was brought by an even more surprising student.
"Hermione? You're interested in Quidditch?"
"Yes, Professor McGonagall. Oh, I'll never be as interested as Ron and Harry, but last year, when everything was happening, I realized how much I missed it. It gave a certain balance to our classes, and I realized that not everything we learned was in books."
Minerva smiled at a student she admitted only to herself was a favorite. "Very well then; I'll put this before the board of governors and see if we can get the ball rolling."
And so it was that during the week between the last final exam and the End of Year Feast, students from Durmstrang Institute and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic arrived. Every morning and every evening, the stands of the Quidditch pitch filled as Hogwarts students cheered their own. Anyone looking at the Hogwarts side of the stands would not see groups of red, yellow, green, or blue. Instead they would see all four colors mixed together, and all four colors cheering, groaning, or standing in jubilation together.
As they came down from the stands after the first game, Ron Weasley squeezed Hermione Granger's hand and kissed the side of her head. He nodded over to where a Durmstrang graduate stood and whispered, "Go on, then."
Hermione smiled up at him and then turned and walked over to Viktor. Years later, she would explain to their children that the Quidditch had been a necessary progression for her. Even though she was reluctant to even ride a broom, it had been the Quidditch that had allowed her to see herself not just as a Gryffindor, or even yet just a Hogwarts student, but as someone who belonged to the entire wizarding world.