"Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing."
- Oscar Wild
Seamus blamed the small sound the door made for his current failure, just as he had blamed the sneeze for the previous one and the itch on the back of his knee for the one before. None of that helped, however, the state of what once had been a Quaffle and now looked like a piece of burned rubber.
"I'm I interrupting?"
"Not really," said Seamus, giving the rubber disaster one last look before turning around. The door had disappeared and in front of the wall stood Terry Boot, five books on his hands and a satchel slung over his shoulder.
"I see," said Terry, walking towards the sofas that were currently the only furniture in the Room of Requirement and carefully placing his bag on one of those. "I do wonder what exactly is that?" he asked, directing a distasteful look to the rubber deformity in front of Seamus.
"Art?" Seamus tried, with a cheeky grin. When Terry's expression didn't change he sighed and mumbled under his breath, "'Tis s'posed to be a football."
Terry quirked an eyebrow. "Though my experience doesn't exactly lie in the field of Muggle Studies, not that they are satisfactory in the least on our current year, I do believe that is not, in fact, a football."
Seamus rolled his eyes. "You think?" He poked the "ball" with the tip of his wand. "Can't get it to Trasfigurate right."
"Quite an understatement." Terry picked the former Quaffle from the couch and held it in his hands, examining it for a moment. "I didn't think it was possible to damage the internal composition of an inanimate object this much."
"McGonagall said something like that once," Seamus muttered frowning.
"Might I suggest you attempt something like this when we fight? The results would be more interesting on a Death Eater."
Seamus laughed a bit of the frustration away and grinned at Terry. "Think it'll work?"
"Even if it doesn't, it won't turn out well for them." With a flick of his wand, the black blob on Terry's hand turned swiftly into a football. He threw it at Seamus, not too well, but Seamus caught it anyway. "I'm not sure the weight is accurate. This is the first time I've held a football."
Seamus dropped the ball to the floor and tried a few passes. "You sure? Feels right. You played football before?"
"I was able to observe a match once but I have never tried it." He shrugged. "Mike is usually the one interested in sports."
"Where's he now?" Seamus asked as he bounced the ball on one foot. "I thought you two didn't detach."
"A common misconception," Terry replied as he sat on the couch, keeping a prudential distance between himself and Seamus. "There are few instances in which we do part ways."
"Not many, right? Where's he now?" Seamus repeated the question.
"Sleeping." Terry's voice wasn't as confident as it had been just a few seconds before. "He still hasn't recovered his energy completely."
Seamus stopped playing with the ball and let it roll away quietly to the corner of the room. He sat heavily on the couch beside Terry. "I still don't believe he went to the meeting."
"He's annoyingly stubborn," Terry said, a fond smile appearing on his face. "One of the many traits I tolerate."
Seamus laughed loudly. "You two're as thick as thieves, as my ma says… says that about me and Dean." The laughing tone died with the end of the sentence and Seamus gave the football a lingering look. Dean. After all that had been the reason he had come here, to try to produce something that reminded him of his friend.
"It must be hard," Terry said carefully.
"No," Seamus said. "Dean's fine. Hiding, fighting. Alive and ready to come back when we give him the old coin call." An awkward silence ensued. "It's a relief. He's alive. For all those months before I just wished I knew. I hoped he made it but I needed to know."
"Seems there is a bit of Ravenclaw inside you," Terry stated tentatively. "Thirst for knowledge is one of the requirements."
Seamus made a face and then laughed. "Watch it, mate, or they'll kick you out for inviting in just anyone."
"Actually," Terry said, his voice taking a slight pompous air, "I never extended an invitation. I was just pointing out a trait."
"Oh shut it, smartarse!" Seamus rolled his eyes. "Wouldn't trade Gryffindor for the world." He gave Terry a sideways look. "We're the good-looking ones."
"Mike's admirers would beg to differ." Terry reached for one of the books and opened it on his lap.
"Do ya get any o' that action?" Seamus asked, waggling his eyebrows.
"Alas, Mr. Corner dazzles the ladies too much for them to glance at me."
"Doesn't happen with me and Dean. Sweet lasses even asks us to trade. They want us both."
Terry looked skeptical but didn't comment.
"He's probably gettin' up some bird's knickers while Bagman's makin' us do squats. I'm all aches n' pains." His calves still hurt from the last training session but he was smiling anyway. Knowing Dean was alive had lifted a load of his shoulders and had been an anchor, a thought to come back to through the tortures he had witnessed in the last few days. "He'll be a bloody fine wand to have with us."
"He will be your responsibility. You are a lieutenant." Terry leaned his head back and rested it on the back of the couch. "Some days I feel completely inadequate for the job."
There was tiredness in Terry's voice and Seamus saw the deep bags under his eyes, the tired lines on his face that were heavier than just a few days ago. "Fearless Leader says you're good 'nuff and after what I saw the other day, I say so too."
Terry's eyes narrowed. "I wasn't thinking rationally. I let myself get carried away and it could have cost Mike his life. It still might be someone's life if I allow myself another mistake. I'm supposed to be the coolheaded one, the rational one. Neville is counting on me for that."
"It was Michael up there, mate. If it had been Dean…" Seamus shook his head and then snorted bitterly. "I probably wouldn't be alive." If it had been Dean he wouldn't have been able to control himself, not for Neville, not for the D.A, not for himself. He would have charged at Snape without thought and landed himself in Azkaban at the least. At the worst…
"You wouldn't have tried to kill him." The steadiness of Terry's voice gave Seamus a shudder. It was mater-of-factly, way too calm for what had been spoken. Seamus didn't know what to say, not being one to offer empty reassurances, so when he opened his mouth what came out was, "I heard you got a tattoo."
Terry let his head fall to the side and gave Seamus a curious look. Then he sat back up and ran his hand over his right upper arm. "It was Mike's idea. I hold you responsible for not warning me about how excruciating the experience would be."
Seamus laughed and shook his head. "You get cruciated weekly and you're squirmin' about a little needle?"
"It's not as if I volunteer to receive the curse… well, not exactly," Terry amended.
"We all volunteered." Seamus laughed. "Fearless Leader wrote it in tiny letters on that parchment he got us to sign that first meetin'."
"It never ceases to trouble me the ease with which we discuss these matters," Terry said but there was a small amused smile in the corner of his lips. Seamus had come to associate that expression to whenever Terry was amused at something no one, bared Michael, would understand.
Seamus barely stopped himself from making a crack about Library Lilies and instead gave Terry half a shrug. "Life at Hogwarts and all that."
"Hopefully not for long," Terry added.
The sound of the door opening caught their attention and both of them turned around but unlike Seamus, Terry's hand didn't immediately move for his wand.
"You knew he was coming," Seamus said, relaxing his stand, his eyes on the new arrival.
"Terry knows everything. By now I thought you would have figured that out." Michael had a heavy book held on his arms. He looked pale still but his voice was mostly back to normal and he seemed to have more energy.
"We know," Seamus said, grinning smugly. "You think you're so secretive but Fearless Leader knows, Ernie and me too."
"Not that we do not celebrate knowledge," Terry started.
"But it would be good to be acquainted with which exactly is this knowledge you've come into possessing," Michael finished.
"That!" Seamus pointed at them with his finger as Michael took a seat in the sofa nearest to Terry. "The mind reading yonk." Seamus' grin widened. "We know."
"It seems our dear comrades are not as oblivious as we once though," Michael commented, his voice analytical.
"It's probably just a consequence of the tension of the past few months," Terry told Michael offhandedly. "I would have been disappointed if they hadn't noticed at least that something was amiss."
"You two like to give a bloke a headache," Seamus groaned. "What's wrong with usin' simple words now and then?"
"Seamus, amiss is hardly a complicated word," Terry said condescendingly.
Michael nodded approvingly. "Try pluvial, plethora, palindrome--"
"There are so rare occasions when you can actually use palindrome in a conversation," Terry lamented.
"Stop it!" Seamus said, standing up. "No conversations about words." He went to the corner and retrieved the football. "Michael, you play?"
"I've never tried it," he answered shaking his head. "And it pains me to say I'm not feeling up to it right now."
"Right," Seamus said, lowering his eyes. He hadn't thought that one all the way through. "I'll teach you later if you want."
Michael nodded. "It seems like a strange game but it'll be interesting learning something not war related for a change." His eyes traveled to the football. "You need to be careful with that. Did you ask the Room for it?"
"Not exactly." Seamus scratched the back of his neck feeling particularly daft for having spent almost an hour trying to Transfigurate a Quaffle. "Terry helped."
"It would be best if you kept that here," Terry said, eying the ball. "The Carrows sadly have no appreciation for ludic Muggle objects."
Seamus nodded. "Isn't as if I can play on the grounds by the lake with Dean like we did first year."
"The up side being that there is no risk of you falling into the lake while trying to steal the ball from your friend," Terry commented.
"Or the need for Dean to jump in to keep you from drowning," added Michael.
"Or for Flitwick to levitate the two of you out of the lake."
"How did ya—" Seamus shook his head in disbelief. "You saw that?"
"I told you I had once observed a match," explained Terry, grinning. "Mike and I researched it that afternoon and found that the lake wasn't actually part of the rules."
"Quite sad. It made it so much more interesting," commented Michael.
"You two're mental! Researching football!?" Seamus resumed bouncing the ball on his foot, now and then changing it from one to the other and never letting it fall to the floor. "There're things that you can't be learnin' from books."
"It's good that we have friends for that then," said Michael, standing up and awkwardly using his feet to take the ball away from Seamus. Terry soon joined him but they succeeded more in tripping each other than in actually making a pass.
"Sure." Seamus smiled as he watched their awkward attempts at controlling the ball. For now at least, for this moment, "'Tis good."