Upon the teacher's immediate threat, Jed's first response was *not* to jump dutifully on his broom and launch into the air. Instead, he spun toward the source and tried to draw a gun that wasn't there. By the time he got over the shock of Trixie's absence, the threat was past. His hands shook in belated reaction as his fingers continued to try to grip a hilt that was half a world away. He wasn't sure whether he should be glad that Hogwarts rules had just prevented him from drawing a gun on a teacher and possibly firing it because of a joke, or dismayed that if he was ever put into a real emergency, his first ingrained response would probably get him killed.
The Californian Gryffindor leveled a decidedly unamused glower at the teacher, though he knew he had just learned a lesson that had nothing to do with flying or academics. One that would apply to life in California should he ever be caught without his gun handy.
Flying was not one of the classes Marie had been looking forward to. Her Father had never allowed her near a broom, she had a vague feeling he didn't believe it to be lady like, but now she realised she had little choice in the matter. Determined to do her best anyway she put on a brave face and watched as Professor Higgler approached.
At his threat she nearly lost all her compsure, she made a grab at her brrom but didn't have the faintest idea what to do next. By the time she registered that it had been a joke she was biting back the tears, she would not cry in front the other students. Instead she stood by her brrom and looked resolutely at the floor.
There were only two females in the class, something that made Artair feel slightly relieved, and of the two, at least one of them looked to be on the verge of tears. He noted quite a few dirty looks being shot at him and he grinned, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"You," he said, pointing at the girl with the Hufflepuff emblem on her robes. "Take your broom at the other witch's and bring it to the shed, then go grab me a cuppa from the Great Hall, okay sweetie?" He was still bouncing and didn't look like he needed any caffeine. "And you," he added, pointing at the other girl. "Make sure she doesn't get lost." Dismissing them, he turned to the rest of the class. "Now how many of you have flown before?"
Jed frowned as the girls were sent away on a stupid errand. Not so much because he felt they ought to be allowed to fly as because he thought it was unfair that they got to skip the lesson but he didn't. Oh, no, he had to stay and prove to all and sundry that Californians, in addition to be hopeless at academics, also didn't know how to fly a broom. The former didn't bother him at all, he was actually exaggerating his weakness in those scholarly areas. But flying was a physical event, and that should be a Californian strength.
It was hardly his fault that living among muggles made it far too risky to even attempt mounting a broom. His ma had been stoned for being a witch, and he really had no desire to follow her lead. So when the teacher asked who had flown before, Jed's hand remained at his side and his eyes looked to the left and right to see whom among his classmates were not prohibited from doing anything remotely magical at home.
The response from the firsties was, to be perfectly honest, dismal. Only a handful of students raised their hands, and a few of those looked quite tentative, as if they really didn't know for sure. Artair expelled a stream of air through his nostrils and frowned.
"Right then," he said. "I want each of you to stand on the left side of your brooms, with your back to the bristles. Put your hand out over the broom and shout 'Up!', but you better mean it, because I'll know it if you don't!" In demonstration, he put his own hand over his broom and shouted "Up!" The handle slapped into his palm impressively.
This was approaching ridiculous. Feeling six kinds of foolish, Jed stood beside his broom (bristles behind him), hand out over the wood, and said, "UP!" It might have twitched, but the movement could have just as easily been wishful thinking. Certainly, it did not jump up into his hand like it had for the teacher.
"UP!" he tried again. This time he was a little more certain that the twitch was real, though it still wasn't anything to write home about. "UP!" he said for a third time, the twitch slightly more pronounced.
Jed frowned down at the broom, lowering his hand for the moment, as he regrouped. Something wasn't right. This understanding came to him because it wasn't working.
Well, of course it wasn't working, you can't just tell a broom to come up and then it comes up!
Except the teacher had.
Tricks! Sleight of hand. He'd seen muggles at fairs pull off more extrodinary feats. The teacher was just having another joke at the students' expense.
He replaced his hand over the broom, then nudged his nearer toes just under the handle. "UP!" he cried again, using his foot to kick up the handle at the same time. He had to drop his hand down to catch it before gravity pulled it back down, but he now had the broom in hand. That was the important part, right?
Marie picked up her broom and the other witch's and walked towards the shed. By the time she'd put them away and set off back towards the Hall she had got over her nerves and was fuming. How dare that man send her away. There was no reason why she couldn't learn to fly, well except Papa had never quite approved but she thought he would be more cross to see his daughter dismissed in this way.
As she passed the wizards she noticed that the American boy seemed to have kicked his broom into his hand, that didn't look right at all. She sniffed. If that was how good these wizards were then she saw no reason witches wouldn't be as good not if not far better.
"Good job, good job," Artair said, moving through the class and ignoring the witch that had returned. A few of the students had managed to get there brooms to work, most of them students that had claimed to have flown before. The more embarrassing ones were the students who had claimed experience and now couldn't make their brooms listen to their commands. But... Artair raised his eyebrows at a young man with the cowboy hat. He had managed to get his broom up already, and he said he hadn't flown before. Impressive. He give the boy a hard pat on the back, making the boy stumble forward slightly.
"Have you thought about Quidditch?" he asked with his patented wide smile.
Jed stumbled forward from the impact of a hand slapped across his back. He had to grab at his hat to keep it from falling off. Looking over at the big man, Jed decided that had been supposed to be a positive gesture. He'd apparently done it right. He smiled, feeling right pleased with himself.
"Have you thought about Quidditch?"
Jed blinked, "Uh," he said intelligently. He'd heard about Quidditch, of course. Who hadn't? But he was a little sketchy on the details of how to play. He'd never seen a match, certainly never played one. Beyond a few nonsensical words like 'snitch' and 'quaffle' (Merlin only knew what they meant, but they had something to do with Quidditch) he knew absolutely nothing about the sport. "Maybe?" he more asked than answered.
"Good, good!" Artair clapped the boy on the back again. "We're having tryouts at some point..." Artair trailed off and blinked. "I don't know when. So keep it in mind!" Bursting into a grin again, he winked at the boy and the continued strolling around the first years.
"Say it with passion!" he cried out to the poor firsties that still couldn't get their damn brooms working. "Say it with tenderness! Seduce the broom! She is your mistress!" He tossed his own broom to the ground and then shouted "Up!" in a passionate yet tender tone of voice. The broom zipped into his hand.
Artair suddenly realized that the witch was back already. It was vaguely unsettling. "You there," he said to her. "Didn't I tell you to do something?"
"You told me to put my broom away sir." Marie looked him in the eye. "I do not see how that will help me to learn to fly though." Inside she was screaming at herself for talking to a teacher in such a way but she was angry enough that none of her fear showed.
She looked again at Jed. "Perhaps I could practice kicking my broom like he does." As the words came out of her mouth she wondered if that was a step too far but whether it was or not she wasn't going to back down.
Having gotten the broom into his hand, Jed didn't have anything better to do that to eavesdrop on whatever conversations drew his attention. And as the Professor was easily the most attention drawing person on the field, he watched as the big man questioned one of the girls. Thanks to this stroke of good fortune, he was able to hear the slander laid against him from the get-go. Well, as much as the truth could be slander.
He adopted a look of surprised affront with a healthy dollop of innocence. "I did no such thing!" he denied with the ease of practice. Even his accent went more Eastern as he adopted respectability. Pa would be proud.
Artair gestured. "He did no such thing," he repeated to the witch as if she hadn't heard it, and then continued on in an annoyed voice: "And I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't be telling lies about your classmates. And what I meant when I asked you was not if you had put your broom away, which I can see for myself, but if you'd gotten me the cuppa, which I asked you to get."
Jed gaped. There was no other word for it. Shock gripped him and he could hardly do so much as blink. Never, never, before now, had anyone taken his word for it that he was guiltless. His father knew better and the local miners either wouldn't trust strangers (if he and Pa had recently moved there) or him (if they'd been their awhile).
So it took him entirely by surprise that his protest had been accepted without so much as a second thought. And now he had gotten the girl in trouble. And he still wasn't sure he thought the way she was being treated was fair (to either her or him). If he knew how to make tea, he might have offered to go in her stead out of guilt and to escape class, but he didn't.
"Meybe she wants ta fly," he said in her defence, because that was only fair. She'd gotten in trouble because of him, the least he could do was get in trouble because of her. He wasn't entirely sure what the appeal of flying was, but presumably people wanted to fly or there wouldn't be brooms or magic carpets.
He was Pierce enough to not admit that she told truth and he'd been the one lying. That would just be dumb.
Marie's eyes widened at the accusation of lying, she knew exactly what she had seen. She was just about to open her mouth to insist when he added that she was supposed to get his tea. That was it. She was struck dumb by the audacity of the man. She was Beaune and she did not fetch and carry like a House Elf.
Jed's comment that she might want to fly took her slightly by surprise. He didn't admit to his cheating but he did seem to be supporting her. Summoning up all her dignity she stood her ground. "I believe there are servants to fetch your tea, I could call one if you wish but I believe I am here for a flying lesson."
She didn't want to fly at all really but she was not going to elt him know that and she was not going to be bossed around. Her father would never allow anyone to speak to her like that.
He pointed angrily at her. "Look here, Miss. I've had just about enough of your impudence. I was giving you something to do so neither of us would be inconvenienced, but unfortunately you have left me no choice. You may think you're here for a flying lesson, but you've forgotten one thing--witches don't fly." He punctuated each word with a jab of his finger. "Now I want you to get out of my class and go tell the Headmaster about your impudence, and you are not allowed back here until you've got a letter from Avery ordering me to teach you."