“I said, I haven’t seen someone playing softball here before,” Anssi repeated. He’d originally come out on the Pitch to run laps, but had stopped when he saw Petra and decided to wait for her to be finished, not wanting to distract her (or risk injury to himself) by running around while she was hitting balls. He hadn’t minded waiting and had used the unexpected extra time to do a few stretches while he watched her, but it seemed he had distracted her anyways. At least, something had made her stop.
Glancing to the side, the fifth-year spotted a ball in the grass and held out his hand. Despite all of his practice for Animagus lessons, it still took too much concentration, but he at least managed to levitate it before caving and muttering an Accio to bring it back the rest of the way. “Here.” He paused to make sure he had her attention before tossing the ball back. “Sorry if I interrupted you. It was neat to watch, it brought back some, er, interesting memories.” Anssi tried to gauge if she was open to talking, but he hadn’t interacted with her enough to tell for sure, so just went ahead with the story while he held out his hand for another ball. It was short, anyways. “When we first moved to America, my parents put me on a kid’s softball team. It was fun, but they were bullies, and Ruben…” He paused, which was equal parts for emphasis as it was to focus on the ball now slowly floating towards him, and used another reluctant Accio to help it along before continuing. “Well, he might have beat them all up once. Or twice. I didn’t go back after the first summer.”
His hand closed around the second ball and he tossed it to Petra as well. His childhood memories were all a bit of the same pattern: Anssi had never had many friends, but many things that those who might have otherwise been friends used to make fun of instead - the birthmark on his neck and cheek, the difference in accent, his small size, even his name, which was either shortened to a rude English word for butts or modified to Kalle-Anka, the Swedish form of Donald Duck. His brother then eventually overheard him being taunted with quacking or other sounds and, as anyone who knew Ruben even on the most basic level could predict, that had never ended in a civil way. He had recently come across the word ‘trigger-happy’ in one of the Muggle fiction books in RMI’s library, and thought it perfectly summarized Ruben’s entire personality. (Although it was lucky that - as far as he knew - Ruben had no interest in Muggle guns. He’d probably label them as crutches for the weak or something like that.)
But enough about his brother. “You look like you have played a lot. You’re good.” Anssi offered the compliment with a grin. One hand reached up idly while he spoke to touch the side of his head. Just last week, he had finally gotten tired of his hair being overgrown, but being unwilling to spend his meagre spare change on a proper haircut, he’d decided to see if he could cut it himself. Using his wand, of course - as important as it was for him to keep practicing wandless and nonverbal spellcasting, he wasn’t confident enough to do any sort of cutting charms around his head quite yet. The end result had been… okay, actually. The sides were very short, and the top was left longer, which was sort of what he had been going for, but now that he had sort of managed it, he found himself debating if he actually liked it on him. It had only been a week, but he was already in a habit of running his fingers over it, especially the sides, as if to check it was still there.