Why am I sitting on a tarmac in Northern Scotland, broom in hand, waiting for the start?
I blame Sirius. The stupid git went and got killed. Of course, Dumbledore should share the blame, too. He had Snape snuff him out. All to help me, or so they thought. I know they were trying to help me, but it didn't feel all that helpful at the time.
I spent the next year looking for those bloody Horcruxes and moping after breaking up with Ginny. While I searched, I took needless risks and went places that I never should have gone.
That's how I ended up here.
It all began with another senseless risk. It really was a stupid thing to do, I know — I went to Knockturn Alley without any backup…again.
We had a few rough weeks, and decided to spend a day off in Diagon Alley relaxing. Ron and Hermione were snogging in the stacks at the bookshop, so I went off on my own. I had no idea where that simple choice would eventually lead, but I was about to find out. We were due back at the Burrow that evening, and since I had gone off on my own a couple of times, I knew they would get back just fine without me.
Like a big blundering fool, I snuck down to Knockturn Alley to poke around. When I had been offered four different kinds of illegal potions and some dubious dragon eggs (where's Hagrid when you need him) I found myself at the end of the street. There, in an alcove, I saw a small group of wizards clustered around a broom. Not just any broom, mind you, a Nimbus 2000.
I'll never forget my first broom. No matter how long I live or how many broomsticks I ride, its sleek , linear design will always be burned into my mind. When I saw the lines of the broom they were holding, the tapering of the twigs, I knew. Yep, it was the 2000 model, alright.
My curiosity got the better of me and I edged closer to see what they were doing. Before they saw me, I heard one of them say, "-stripped the braking charms down to the bare bones, and put in a Class 5. Then we boosted the Quad Accelerator to 2800 kilos."
It was mostly gibberish to me. I was about to leave when one a particularly grimy wizard spotted me watching them. I'd given up hiding my scar long ago, so it didn't take long for him to recognize me.
"If it ain't The Boy Who Lived himself!" he exclaimed. The other wizards looked at me with mixed expressions. Most were distrustful, some curious. The wizard holding the broom reminded me of Mungdungus, tattered robes and all.
"Well, Potter," he said, drawling like a Malfoy. "Come to see us drag a broom?"
"D-drag a broom," I asked. "What's that?"
The wizards laughed at me. "What's draggin'?" one asked, nodding towards the broom. "Flyin' these types in a real race, not that Quidditch rubbish you play at school."
The wizard holding the broom handed it to me. "Careful with that one, now. She's been, ah… modified."
I grasped the Nimbus and instantly felt its aura surge through me. It seemed to rage in my hands with power. My Firebolt is like holding onto pure fire. It has an energy that makes your whole body tingle. Holding this monster of a broom was very different. Oh, how bloody naive I was!
The energy flowing through this bastardized broom was wild, raw and jagged. It wasn't the smooth, clean feel of my Firebolt. No, this was like standing in a tub full of lava. It burbled with power and surged uncontrollably through my own magic.
It took my breath away. I practically threw it back to the wizard with a gasp.
Some of the wizards chuckled again. "Don't like what you feel?" asked one.
I shrugged. "Feels .... chaotic. Unbalanced," I said. I didn't want to tell them that it made me want to fly like nothing else. All that power...
The wizard holding the broom held out his hand. "Clark Holden."
I shook his hand. I should have known better. Next thing I know, I'm in a pub, drinking a butterbeer and listening to Clark and two of his pals tell me about this underground racing circuit. Apparently, it's been operating in Britain for about 2 or 3 years. They tell me that everyone who wants to watch or compete uses a portkey to an abandoned military air base in Scotland. It's kept hidden by a Fidelius. They use the wide open spaces and unused runways for their races.
Then they told me about the races. There's a one mile drag and a rally. The rally is only once a month, but they drag every Friday. The Friday races usually bring in the big racers and crowds, especially on the last Friday of the month, the same Friday that all the Ministry employees get paid.
This was that Friday…figures. Before I knew it, I was dragged to another alley and to a portkey in the form of an old umbrella. No surprise, I ended up at that base. There were over 200 wizards and witches there, all to watch the races. Betting was heavy. The first heat had more than a dozen racers in it.
Clark explained the rules, which were simple: One broom, one rider, one mile — one winner. That was it. One of the racers wins, the others lose. No wands allowed. Other than that, anything goes.
The riders were a mixed lot, some young, and some old. Saw a couple of ex-Quidditch stars.
And the brooms! I saw Nimbus 2000 and 2001s, several Comets and a few Shooting Stars. No Firebolts, though.
Like a dummy, I watch the races — and I get all flustered that I'm not out there on the starting line with them.
I go back to London, all giddy like a fool. Bright and early the next day, I hit Gringotts and then walk out of Quality Quidditch Supplies several thousand galleons' poorer; but with a new Firebolt. I was about to do some serious modifications on a broom. I wasn't going to use Sirius' gift — I could never strip that one down.
Then, like a bigger fool, I go to Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, and tell those two dunderheaded partners of mine my broom ideas. They nearly swoon at the possibilities, and set straight to work. Five hours later I've got a stripped down, spelled up, super turbocharged Firebolt. It's sporting more acceleration charms than I've even heard of, some strange combination of power charms to focus thrust, and a partridge in a pear tree. The twins drag me back to the Burrow, hustle me off to a nearby deserted moor, and we test the thing. Nearly blew me off the first time. The acceleration charms were so hyped up I lost my glasses.
A few charms later and some wand tinkering with some energy fields, I get back on the thing and try some drag runs. The two redheaded gits are slapping each other on the back and shaking each other's hands like they just gave birth to a baby dragon.
Maybe there's something to that.
We spend the next three months dragging in Scotland. Blew away everyone who raced against me. The twins raked in the Galleons betting on me. I think they closed their shop and bet the farm on me. Fred said something about 'tripling this year's profit,' but I didn't care. It was the best flying I've ever done.
So now we're back full circle, me on this tarmac, ready for another race. Only this time, there are only four racers, me and three others that have rebuilt Firebolts as well.
Seems that word got out. The big boys have dropped some serious cash and want to take back some of the twins' 'profit' from the last few months.
Shows how little they know. Getting a Firebolt is only half the battle. I got Ginny (after three weeks, six dozen roses, and two boxes of Honeyduke's Finest Extra-Dark Chocolate) to help me research broom making, only to have Ron find out and get Hermione thoroughly pissed at me. After some quick talking, I got both on board, along with Charlie and Bill, too.
Note to world: Want to make a wild and crazy broom? Get the Weasley clan and a brilliant dentist's-daughter-turned-witch to help you. My personal 'pit crew' took my Firebolt up another notch. Okay, well, maybe 87 notches.
I didn't mean to hurt anyone, but when the start went off, I opened the gate wide on my Firebolt. The resulting sonic boom blew my competition away…literally. I guess they'll be back at the drawing board for awhile now.
I'm glad, but Ron showed me a magazine article about some drag races in New Zealand and California.
A/N: I have always wondered if broom technology could be altered. Here's just one idea. Thanks to BJ for his beta reading, darlintonks for some basic ideas and my fifth-grade librarian for handing me a drag racing book with plenty of words and pictures that I checked out of her library at least a dozen times.