In the present moment, Wentworth’s previous poise had transformed into an image of exertion.

n the present moment, Wentworth’s previous poise had transformed into an image of exertion.

His gaze was fixed on the lifelike dummy suspended upside down in the air atop the Room of Requirement. A pleased smile graced his face.

On the following afternoon, Wentworth, alongside a group of new Hufflepuffs, made their way joyfully toward the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch.

This afternoon’s lesson involved Hufflepuff’s flight training alongside Slytherin.

“I’ve heard that it’s practically a tradition for freshmen to tumble off their brooms during their first flights. It seems like someone ends up with a broken arm or leg every year.”

“Don’t worry too much. I heard Madam Pomfrey will be stationed at the Quidditch pitch early in the morning. If anyone takes a fall, she’ll provide immediate treatment.”

“I appreciate the reassurance, but the more you mention it, the more nervous I get!”

As the Hufflepuff freshmen engaged in light-hearted conversation on their way to the Quidditch pitch, Hufflepuff, leading the group, suddenly slowed down. Wentworth, curious, followed Hufflepuff’s gaze and spotted a contingent of figures in dark green robes approaching from another direction.

Among them, Cassandra stood out conspicuously, at the forefront, encircled by a constellation of admirers.

If Wentworth had been considered Hufflepuff’s lucky star, then Cassandra, at this moment, was undoubtedly the older sister of the Slytherin first-years.

This wasn’t only due to Cassandra’s background but also because, in yesterday’s duel, her prowess had undoubtedly marked her as the strongest first-year Slytherin.

As both groups locked eyes almost simultaneously, they came to a halt, and a palpable tension hung in the air.

“Cassandra, it’s reassuring to see you well! I thought you’d need a few days to recover!”

As Cassandra graced the playground, her pallor evident yet her spirits high, Wentworth hastened to approach her, extending a warm greeting.

Witnessing Wentworth’s approach, several Slytherin freshmen surrounding Cassandra seemed ready to intervene, but Cassandra forestalled them.

Stepping forward herself, Cassandra addressed Wentworth with a touch of sarcasm, “Why, are you disappointed to find me here?”

Wentworth hastily waved his hands, clarifying, “That’s not what I meant!”

Cassandra lifted her chin and spoke with a note of pride, “If your magical stamina had been depleted, you might have ended up in the hospital bed for days. But remember, Wentworth, our beloved Professor Snape is an esteemed Potions Master. To him, such an ailment is nothing more than a potion recipe.”

Acknowledging Cassandra’s words with a nod, Wentworth smiled. “I’m well aware! Professor Snape is currently searching for the herbs Professor Sprout requested.”

As Wentworth finished speaking, a blush tinted Cassandra’s cheeks, and she looked down in embarrassment.

Then, seemingly remembering something, she raised her head and asked Wentworth, “Do you recall what you promised?”

“Of course, I remember. You set the time and place, and I, Wentworth, won’t renege on this.”

Cassandra’s eager confirmation brought a smile to Wentworth’s face.

“All right, let’s meet tonight. The location is a detail I’ll handle. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Taken aback by Cassandra’s urgency, Wentworth expressed his surprise, “Tonight? Your recovery has just begun. Can you handle it?”

Unperturbed, Cassandra replied with determination, “Tonight, no excuses. Be there, and don’t forget to bring your useless stick.”

She pointed at Wentworth’s robe pocket, where his wand peeped out.

Resigned to the situation, Wentworth shrugged, agreeing to Cassandra’s demand. “No problem. If you’re fine with it, I am too. Tonight it is.”

With their agreement sealed, the two turned to rejoin their respective teams.

However, upon turning, they were met with an unexpected sight.

Their steps had carried them a distance away from their teams, yet upon turning around, they found themselves encircled by onlookers.

The bystanders were straining to eavesdrop on their conversation, ears perked.

The abruptness of the situation left both Wentworth and Cassandra momentarily taken aback.

Meanwhile, other Hufflepuffs and Slytherins were dispersing in groups, heading toward the Quidditch pitch.

Their conversations drifted on the wind.

“Who do you think is stronger between the two?”

“That’s obvious. It’s definitely Wentworth! Didn’t you hear him worrying about Cassandra’s condition just now?”

“Ridiculous! It’s surely Cassandra’s victory. She taunted Wentworth just moments ago!”

“Wentworth is the one!”

“Cassandra has the upper hand!”

“You Hufflepuffs trying to start something?”

“Just try it! It was the Slytherins who lost last night!”

Their chatter persisted as the Hufflepuff and Slytherin freshmen moved toward the Quidditch pitch.

On the other hand, Wentworth and Cassandra stood there, bemused, momentarily before regaining their composure.

“Wentworth, remember, tonight!”

Cassandra’s previously pale cheeks were now tinged with pink.

She left this reminder before hurrying off to the Quidditch pitch without looking back.

Wentworth could only chuckle wryly at the scene, following Cassandra from a distance and walking toward the Quidditch pitch.

Wentworth was the last to arrive at the pitch.

Mrs. Hooch was already present, overseeing the training. Neatly arranged on the grass before her were numerous broomsticks.

Returning to the Hufflepuff team, Wentworth found a broomstick at his feet.

Yet, upon closer inspection, Wentworth’s heart sank at the sight of the broom.

The broom appeared worn and aged, its bristles worn thin.

The tail was uneven, and visible cracks ran across its frame.

At that moment, Wentworth couldn’t help but feel a chill run down his spine.

The rumors of freshmen tumbling off their brooms during training might not be mere rumors after all.

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Published On: September 20, 2023

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