A/N: Sorry for the long delay! Between reality and writer's block this chapter has been the most problematic I've ever had to write. I really do not like it, but now it is done and hopefully the rest of the chapters will flow easier. Many thanks go out to Nancy for all of her pre-beta work and Pascal for the final beta.
Professor Dumbledore frowned as he looked at the note he had just penned. It was a request for Harry to come and see him to re-start his Occlumency training. He had tried to see Harry in person several times over the last few days, but each time the lad caught sight of him, he disappeared down some side corridor of the castle. It was already Wednesday and he was anxious to get started. He wondered for a moment how to get the letter to Harry and decided to pass it on to Hermione first. Perhaps she would be better suited to the task than he was.
The flutter of owl wings distracted him momentarily. A large, important looking brown owl landed on his desk and held its leg up to the headmaster.
Professor Dumbledore snorted as he recognized the emblem of the International Quidditch Association. He shook his head, wondering to himself how anyone could be worried about Quidditch while Voldemort was on the loose. He looked the owl in the eyes.
"Please take your letter to Professor McGonagall," he told the owl. "She is the official school representative to the International Quidditch Association."
The owl hooted, obviously displeased that it wasn't being relieved of its burden.
"Professor McGonagall," repeated the headmaster.
The owl finally took off and flew out one of the open windows. It winged its way around the castle turrets quickly and flew in through an open window into Professor Minerva McGonagall's office. A moment later it landed on the only clear space on the deputy headmistress's desk.
Professor McGonagall looked up from the essay she had been grading to see the owl holding its leg, with the letter attached, out to her. Her curiosity was piqued as she noticed that it was from the International Quidditch Association. She removed the letter, pulled a treat out of one of her desk drawers and gave it to the bird. The owl hooted in gratitude and flew off.
She frowned as she noted that the letter had been originally addressed to Professor Dumbledore. Being Hogwarts' official representative to the Association, McGonagall wondered why they would want to contact the headmaster rather than her. She broke the seal on the letter and opened it up.
Greetings, Headmaster Dumbledore,
This letter constitutes a notice of legal action undertaken by the International Quidditch Association against Mr. Harry James Potter, a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a re-hearing on Case Number 253,546, the International Quidditch Association has decided to re-instate Mr. Potter's lifetime ban from the game of Quidditch. This ban takes effect on September 9, 1995. A copy of the proceedings has been attached to this notice as required by the bylaws of the International Quidditch Association Chapter 7, Section 9, Subsection D and under the Wizarding Laws governing the British Isles Article XIX Subsection 3.A.a.
Mr. Potter has the right to appeal this decision. Either he or a designated representative may present his case to a quorum of the representatives of the participating member states. The Quorum has the right to either uphold or reject Mr. Potter's lifetime ban from Quidditch. The next Quorum of member states representatives will convene in November at the International Quidditch Association Congress in Paris, France.
If an appeal is not presented before the member state representatives prior to one year from the issuance of this notice, the lifetime ban will become permanent and irrevocable. For any questions regarding this notice or assistance in planning an appeal, please contact the International Quidditch Association Legal Affairs Department, Player Conduct Governance Group by either owl or Floo.
Sincerely, Svetlana Yurchenko Undersecretary for Legal Affairs International Quidditch Association, British Office
"I don't believe this," stated McGonagall indignantly as she shook her head and wondered what could go wrong for Harry next. She quickly flipped the parchment over and examined the first page of the proceedings. "Barking mad, the lot of them," she muttered under her breath as she read that it was the work of the Bulgarian national office of the International Quidditch Association that was responsible for instigating the action against Harry.
As tempted as she was to throw the offending document straight into the fire, she knew she would need it if she wanted to do something to help Harry. A dues paying member of the International Quidditch Association, she would use her right to address the assembly on Harry's behalf. The only question was whom could she get to support her? She didn't think much help would be forthcoming from the Ministry, given Fudge's intense dislike for Dumbledore and Harry.
McGonagall then smiled as she remembered that Hermione had gone to the ball with Viktor Krum, a member of the Bulgarian national team. "Hmm," she said quietly as she considered that Victor Krum was the Bulgarian national team for all practical purposes. She wondered if he and Hermione were still keeping up. She smiled to herself and determined that she would find out, although the first order of business was to inform Harry of the Association's decision. Her smile vanished and she sighed. She was not looking forward to this.
"Yes, Professor Moody," replied Harry as he turned to look at his professor. Class had just been dismissed and he was gathering his books together before heading to dinner with Ron and Hermione and hopefully Ginny.
"Professor McGonagall asked me to deliver this to you after class," Moody stated as he handed a bit of parchment to Harry. "That was a good job you did today with Miss Parkinson, Potter."
Harry shivered a bit as he noticed Moody's magical eye focused on him rather than rolling around in his head.
"Keep that up and I see you not only as a future Auror, but as one of their instructors as well."
"Thank you, sir."
"See you next week," added Moody as he limped past Harry, his leg making that characteristic clunking sound as he went. "And don't forget, Hermione."
"CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I know," she replied.
"That's my girl," laughed Moody as he exited the classroom.
"So what's McGonagall want?" asked Ron as Hermione looked on curiously.
Harry broke the seal on the parchment and unrolled it.
"She wants to see me immediately after class," he replied, thinking she probably wanted to discuss his tutoring schedule. "I'll meet you in the Great Hall as soon as I can."
Harry made his way to McGonagall's office quickly. As he entered, he noticed that she was extremely agitated, possibly more than he had ever seen her before.
"Ah, Mr. Potter," she muttered. "Please sit down." She stopped her pacing and also sat down, appearing to try to get her thoughts in order before she spoke. "Potter, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. The Rules Council of the International Quidditch Association has voted to reinstate your lifetime ban."
At that moment a cold numbness began to grow in Harry's stomach and he felt the walls beginning to close in on him.
"But why, Professor?" asked Harry, his eyes beginning to mist over.
"This has become a political game and a very dirty one at that. The Bulgarian National Committee for Quidditch instigated the proceedings. My guess is that they don't want you playing for England in the next World Cup. Bunch of cowardly scoundrels."
"Me play for England?" muttered Harry.
McGonagall looked down the length of her nose, the expression on her face betraying her feelings that an extremely stupid question had been asked. Ordinarily she would never have rendered such lavish praise; however, given Harry's circumstance, she felt the need to build him up so he could withstand the difficulty of the situation the International Quidditch Association had placed him in.
"Why of course, Potter. You are one of the finest Seekers I have ever seen and you are still growing. You're a shoo-in; just give it time."
McGonagall noted that her praise seemed to have little effect on Harry as he grew quiet and withdrawn.
"So what happens now?" asked Harry finally.
"Because of the seriousness of the case the International Quidditch Association has determined that they will need a full quorum of members to vote on the issue. As a member of the International Quidditch Association I will use my right to address the assembly on your behalf. Professor Dumbledore, as your headmaster, will also be allowed to address the assembly."
"When will they meet to make the determination?" asked Harry as he felt his stomach go cold.
"A meeting of the full assembly is not scheduled until November," replied McGonagall. "I'm sorry, Potter. I was hoping this would all be behind us by now." She watched in nervous trepidation as she saw the hope leave Harry's eyes. "Harry, I want you to remain on the team as their coach," she stated. The look Harry gave her broke her heart.