Céilidh MacAllister sat in an out of the way booth at the Leaky Cauldron. Summer break was nearly over, and she was meeting Tommy to head into Diagon Alley for some quality alone time, and to pick up their books for the next year. The next year. It was hard to believe that life was supposed to move on just like normal after the events that had closed out their fifth year.
The summer break had been an odd one. While she tried to spend as much time as she could with Tommy, she’d not heard a single thing from Orlando or Danny, and that bothered her to no end. It was unlike them, even with what had happened. Of course, there was another – albeit less important matter that was troubling her as well.
She pulled out the emerald lettered envelope once again, flipping open the flap with it’s broken wax seal, and pulled out the contents for about the tenth time since she’d arrived. She set the book list aside and re-read the letter from Professor McGonagall.
Miss Mac Allister,
It is with great pleasure and no small amount of pride that I have decided to name you co-captain of the Gryffindor House Quidditch team…
Céilidh had only managed to read through the entire letter once. Every other time, she could barely get past the word ‘co-captain.’ She knew Aeryn was leaving for Beauxbaton to be with Sully, and had wondered if Professor McGonagall would name her the captain of the team. There had never been co-captains before, and she couldn’t think of anyone on the team currently that would even be close to handling the responsibility. Except maybe Tommy…
The flames of the Leaky Cauldron’s floo swirled around Tommy then died down. He stepped through into the familiar gray stone walled pub that was the usual entrance to Diagon Alley. Tommy swept the soot off of his shoulder as he looked around the tavern, I will be glad I can apparate in a few months, he thought to himself, ’cause I am tired of wiping soot off all the time.
Seeing his redheaded girlfriend sitting with his back turned toward him he walked up and wrapped both arms around her, “Hey there Red.”
Without so much as a greeting in return, she shoved the piece of parchment in his face, “Can ye believe this shite?”
Tom busted out laughing, “You know I probably could,” he pulled a piece of parchment out of his jeans pocket, “look familiar?”
Céilidh’s eyes went wide as she snatched the letter from his hands. “Ach! McGonagall’s aff her heid-” She stopped when she saw the look that crossed Tommy’s face. “A- A’m sairy, it’s juist…”
“Just what?” Tom’s eyebrow cocked up and his smile dimmed a bit.
This was supposed to be a date. Getting into this now would surely end any sort of good time they would have had under different circumstances. She shrugged. They’d have plenty of time to discuss things later. “Juist… surprisin, that’s all.”
She stood, slipped into his arms, and gave him a warm kiss. “Least A ken A can wirk wit ye.”
The momentary twinge in Tom’s stomach was gone and he just let the issue drop, “Sorry it took me so long, I had to sneak out while Cecelia wasn’t looking or else she would have tagged along. She’s been a pain since her and Danny broke up.”
Céilidh hooked her arm in Tommy’s and they walked through to the back of the pub. “Ach, how come?”
Tom shrugged, “He didn’t write her while he was in America. He got ambushed by his Uncle Jacks and ended up in extra potions classes over the summer.” He led her out the door and into the back of the Leaky Cauldron and into Diagon Alley. The streets bustled with with wizards and witches of all ages hurriedly rushing around, talking and shopping.
“Oi,” the read head punched him in the shoulder, “That’s na excuse, dae ye ken whit ah wid dae if ye didnae write me a’ summer?” her crimson eyebrows knitted together.
Tom gave a mockingly hurt glare, “Do you think I would ever?”
“Ye better nae,” Céilidh studied him carefully, “or A’d mairch richt inta yuir chaumer an draig you oot by the legs.”
“Cursing at me the entire time,” Tom snorted, “like that one time…”
“soap.” the two Gryffindors fell onto each other with laughter.
As the two start to recover and stand back up straight, their lips and chins touched each other. That was all that was needed. The two gave in to the pent up passion of almost a whole summer of not seeing the other. They stood there in the street for what seemed like an eternity holding each other, kissing each other. Their lips finally parted and Tom looked into Céilidh’s eyes, “I missed you.”
“A can tell,” she said with an impish smile. “Sae whaur tae fairst?”
“That Ginger,” Tom threw his arm around her shoulders, “is up to you. We could always go to Quality Quidditch Supplies and give them a look see. ”
Céilidh’s eyes lit up. “Ye shuirly ken the wey tae ma hert, luv,” she said, picking up the pace and nearly jerking Tom off his feet.
“I guess I do,” Tom laughed as he ran to keep up with the red head.
As they rounded the corner, there was a mob of people all pressed against the windows of the shop.
“Oh bloody hell how could we have forgotten? The Nimbus 1700 was coming out today,” Tom said, a bit angry at himself.
His companion, on the other hand was dauntless. She pushed, prodded, elbowed, and in one particular instance, stomped on the foot of a particularly stubborn boy, until she came to the center of the big bay window. Tommy’s progress was slightly slower due to the fact that he was mumbling short apologies to everyone his girlfriend had bruised or trod upon.
The focus of everyone’s attention hung in in the center of the window display. A large banner read: Introducing The Nimbus 1700! in large, bold letters that danced with multicolored illuminations. In smaller, less obtrusive text crammed into the bottom corner of the banner, the words: Inquire within for pricing sulked in abject lack of attention.
The broomstick was – in Céilidh’s mind – a thing of beauty. The master craftsmen at Nimbus had outdone themselves once again. The handle was carved from lacewood, giving it a distinctive feathered pattern along its length, and it arced gracefully to a point about two thirds of the length where it broke gradually into a comfortable looking saddle. The bronze stirrups gleamed and the tail was so neatly formed as to appear like the tip of a paintbrush. The tail-twigs had been stained such that it looked like a tongue of flame.
Céilidh sighed heavily. “Oh Tommy, isnae it the maist bonnie thing ye’v iver seen?”
Tom, not being one to miss an opportunity to score some points with his girlfriend, replied, “Nah. I’m standing next to the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He gave her a wink and was rewarded with a rosy blush.
“C’mon ye siller-tongued deevil, A want tae airt oot hou muckle they’re wantin frae it. A need tae get ah new pair o gluves ony weys.”
Tom felt her slender fingers wrap around his wrist again and he was yanked, with a few more apologies, into the crowded store.
“So Bobby told me that he wants to try out for other positions this year,” Tom called out over the din of the wizards and witches crowding the shop.
Once again, Céilidh was forced into physical means to plow her way to the rear of the shop. “Why wad he want tae dae that? He’s ah perfitly guid Keeper.” She slipped sideways between a young boy and his father as they were arguing over which house would have the better team, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. She smiled, but resisted the urge to add her own opinion to the mix.
“A dinnaken aboot ye, A mean, A ken we’re tae hiv appen tryoots an aw, but…” She didn’t want to voice out loud, especially in the middle of the shop, that she had already made up her mind about the team.
“Well he said he never understood the appeal of the game till last year, now he wants to try other positions see if he’s as good as he was at Keeper,” Tom glanced over at a gaggle of giggling young witches holding copies of Quidditch Quarterly and swooning at the cover. His brother smiled back at him as he sat on his broom waving with one hand and holding the quaffle in the other. The caption read: Fantastic Falcon: Is Benny Llewelyn stepping out of the shadow of his uncle? Tom just shook his head as they kept going.
“Fair eneuch,” Céilidh shrugged as they reached the end of the queue for the broomstick desk. “Sae lang as he unnerstaunds gif he disna shaw oot, he’ll be watchin frae the stands.”
“Well at least he could always fall back on keeper, I doubt we’ll find anybody better.” Tom said as the two finally made it to the counter.
“Aye,” Céilidh said dismissively as her eyes once again latched onto the Nimbus 1700. Her eyes traveled from the broom to the wizard that stood behind the counter, “Hou muckle?” Her voice sounded like she was bracing herself to receive a punch in the face.
“Five Hundred Galleons,” The wizard said flatly, apparently he had answered that question a lot today.
Céilidh winced at the price. She turned back toward Tommy “Alricht Tommy lat’s gae.”
The wizard looked at Tommy, “Tommy Llewelyn?” His eyes squinted.
“Yeah,” Tom answered warily.
“I just sent you an owl,” he said excitedly, “I got somethin’ here for ya. Wait right here.” With that the older wizard ran off to the back of the store.
The two young Gryffindors shot a look of confusion to each other, “Ye order something?”
“No.” Tom said rather flatly as the wizard returned.
“Here,” he said as he handed Tommy a large package. an envelope lay on top of it.
“Come on, let’s go open this outside,” with Céilidh’s nod of agreement, the two hurried back outside and into the fresh air.
“So should we open the envelope or what’s inside?” Tom asked as they got out into the street.
“The envelope fairst,” the Scot said, though she had a feeling of what was inside the package.
Tom nodded and handed her the package while he opened the letter.
Hey little brother,
I know Dad got you a new broom, but I figured this would give you a better chance of not ruining the family name.
“What an unbelievable bastard!” Tom fumed as he crumpled the note in his hand.
“Whit is it, Tommy?”
“Benny,” he said like he was swearing under his breath, “Decided to buy me a new broom.” With that Tommy took back the box and opened it. Inside was a brand new Nimbus 1700 shining in the sun.
Céilidh swallowed the jealousy that had instantly bubbled up. “That’s… that’s great.” Her eyes dropped to the cobblestone street, suddenly finding the gray paving stones infinitely more interesting than the very broom she had just been mooning over in the shop window. “It’ll shuirly gie the team ah leg up this year.”
“Yeah with you riding it,” he said matter of factly.
“Whit?” Her eyes met his.
“I like my broom,” he said with a smile, “the one my dad gave to me. I’m used to it.” He handed her the box, “You want it?”
“Oh Tommy, A…” her fingers itched for the polished handle. There were few in the school able to outfly her as things stood. Flying the Nimbus… but it was too much. “A canna accept something that cost sae muckle. It wadna be richt.”
Tom stood and pressed the broom into her hands. “I want you to have it. Think of it as an early birthday present if you like. Hell, think of it as the next few birthday presents… ‘Sides, I’m sure Benny got it at a discount, playing for the Falcons and all.”
Céilidh looked up from the broom and into his brilliant blue eyes, her own eyes swimming. She swung the broom around across his back and pulled him close. Leaning up on her toes she kissed him solidly, not pulling back until she felt as though they were drawing a crowd, which -as it happened – they were. There were a few jeers and catcalls and assorted whistling, and at least one ‘get a room.’
“Thank ye, Michael Thomas Llewelyn,” she said finally, shouldering the broomstick and lacing the fingers of her free hand in his. “We’ll talk aboot hou mony birthdays this kivers later.” Her emerald eyes still sparkled with tears, but the corners of her mouth shot up in a mischievous smile.
“So what now?” He said the red flush still in his cheeks, “Should we be good and head to Flourish and Blotts and pick up our books for next year?”
“Suir… hou did ye dae on yer O.W.L.s?”
Tom sighed, “Not bad. Os in Transfiguration, Potions, Dark Arts, and Charms. Es in History of Magic, Arithmancy, Astronomy and Herbology. And an A in Muggle Studies. You?”
“Aboot tha same. Os in Transfigurations, Potions, Chairms, and Daurk Airts. Es in Yerbology, History o Magic, Astronomy, Divination, an Care o Magical Creatures. A think Ahm gauin tae drop Divination,” they arrived at the bookshop, and Tommy pulled the door open and held it for her, “A dinnaken whit ense tho.”
Tom whistled. “Well, at least we’ll be in almost all the same classes this year. And I won’t have to rely on Rose or Nic to get me through.”
“Aye,” she smiled, “juist think o all tha time we missed last year whit ye aff bein’ schuiled by them. A dinnaken why ye didna come tae me onyweys.”
“You weren’t taking Arithmancy or Muggle Studies,” he chided.
“Oh aye, an ah fat lot o guid aither o those classes did ye.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Tommy smiled as as the two of them walked into the bookstore, “I have decided I’m dropping everything except Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Dark Arts and Herbology.”
Céilidh looked at the recommended book list, and then at the stacks the shopkeepers had laid out for convenience. She was amazed at how, even when fresh from the printers, the History of Magic books looked dry and dusty. It was as if the very spirit of the class, and the spirit that taught it, managed to reach out and leave its mark. No, she wouldn’t subject herself to another two years of dearly departed Professor Binns. Scratch one more class from her schedule.
“Confronting the Faceless, by Cyrus Boardlander,” Tom read the title of the sixth year Defense Against the Dark Arts book, “that sounds cheerful.”
“Grab twa,” Céilidh said as she wandered over to the table that held the stack of Advanced Potion-Making books, grabbing a copy for each of them before moving on. She passed by the piles of Peering Into the Beyond, having already dismissed Divination, and Planets, Moons, Stars, and You, mentally crossing Astronomy and its late-nights from her schedule as well.
Tom picked up two copies of Guide to Advanced Transfiguration, “Now that I think about it, I completely understand why they let us have more free time sixth year, look at the size of this bloody transfiguration book. I think the Professor is going to try to kill us this year.”
Céilidh laughed, “Ye o aw fowk are wirried?”
Tom’s eyebrows furrowed, “Didn’t say I was worried,” Tom laughed as well, “at least not for myself, but I know at times you can struggle.” His grin widened, even as he ducked the Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6 that was flung in his direction.
“A’d hate tae hivta daimige this bonnie new bruim by shuivin it up yer-”
“Miss MacAllister, Mister Llewelyn,” the voice alone made Céilidh jump and stop dead in her tracks, “I trust you are both having good summers?”
The two soon to be sixth years gave each other a sideways glance and then both smiled, “Of course, how about you Professor?”
“Satisfactory Michael. I trust that both of you will be taking N.E.W.T. level Transfigurations?”
Both nodded, “Aye Perfessor.” Céilidh brushed a stray lock from her face. There probably wouldn’t be a better time before the start of the school year to ask about the co-captain issue.
“Perfessor,” she said, eyes moving between the elder witch and Tommy, “A- A mean we wanted tae ask aboot why ye chuise tae split Quidditch Captain atween Tommy an me?” She had moved to stand beside her beau so that the Professor look at them both when she answered.
Professor McGonagall pursed her already thin lips. She surely had to expect the question at some point. She gave the duo an appraising look through her rectangular spectacles. “It’s a simple matter of different leadership styles. I feel that Michael is a better at managing the different personalities on the team, while Céilidh is the better at motivating and pushing the team to go beyond what they think is their best effort. The two of you compliment each other in a way I’ve rarely seen before, and I have faith that you’ll be able to work through whatever differences may arise.”
She smiled warmly at them. “Excellent choice of broomstick, Miss MacAllister. I expect to see another Quidditch Cup with your names on it in the trophy room at the end of the year.”
Céilidh grinned and shot a sideways glance at Tommy, “O’coorse Perfessor. Twa years in a row, gae ta keep it gaein.”
“Exactly,” the Head of Gryffindor smiled broadly, “now if you two would excuse me, I have a few errands to run before I head back to the school. I will see you in a month.”
As they watched the Professor leave, Céilidh reached over and slugged Tom in the shoulder.
“What was that for?”
The fiery haired girl shrugged, “Acause A missed ye whit the buik.”