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Chapter 1: Witch Weekly, MLES and Puddlemere's Keeper.
Gorgeous chapter image by Chocolateluver @ TDA.
Oliver Wood is a sodding prat. He really is. Who else, I ask you, would have flown directly into the crowd when Puddlemere won 340 to 60? And who else would have bothered to sweep up on his broom the only idiot who didn't have the reflex to duck? And who then had the immense privilege of sinking her teeth into the neck of the arse who had sat her down behind him? The answer to the first two questions is Oliver Wood, I'm the one who got to bite him. What? He wouldn't have landed for at least another fifteen minutes otherwise.Only problem now is that scene was witnessed by hundreds of people, not to mention made the cover of Witch Weekly. But that kind of bullshit will die down, simply because there is absolutely nothing going on between Wood and me. Definitely not. Eurghhh.
Why was I watching Puddlemere play in the first place? Well, my best friend Cat – her actual name is Carmen Rodriguez by the way – is Chaser, the only female member, on the damn team. Yes, I am really happy for her, but less happy with the fact Wood is on the team as well. If you really must know, I used to have a crush on him. I was in my first year, he was in his sixth, needless to say nothing ever happened, but the attraction I had towards him did, to my great embarrassment, last until he graduated and even today Cat loves teasing me about it.
Cat is almost like my sister. We've known each other since the age of two, and mutually gave each other our stupid nicknames. I call her Cat because at the beginning I didn't know how to roll my Rs properly, this led to that and Carmen became Cat. She christened me Kiwi, in revenge I think. My full name is Kim Bethany Willows, yes, actually Kim Bethany – what went through my mum's head at that moment I don't know. Anyway, first syllables of Kim and of Willows, you get Kiwi. Can't say I find it great but it just stuck and everyone calls me that now.
Back to Cat. She has straight black hair, deep blue eyes, and a nasty temper. Never speak to her before she gets breakfast. Ever. Unless, of course, you are particularly keen on seeing your hair go green (or blue or pink, it depends) and your nose turn into a clarinet. I wish I was kidding. In our first year, she continually transfigured Crystal Charter's bag into a watermelon; in our second year she decided it would be more fun to hex Crystal to speak Mermish for a day (that happened seven times if I recall properly); and in our third year she went back to classical methods and pushed Crystal into the lake. In the middle of January.
I can't say I'm sorry though: Crystal was (and probably still is) a horrible bitch, and pranking her was one of our favourite things to do. I think the worst – or best – we've done was charm her underwear to sing Celestina Warbeck in a dreadful falsetto voice at breakfast one day. That was my idea. And it was immensely funny, especially considering what her underwear looks like: lace, frills, satin and silk, and very discreet colours like fireman red or bitch pink.
Crystal and I have hated each other since forever: we do look a bit alike, both slim and blonde, but she severely lacks brains and humanity. Seriously, she'd do anything to get shagged. So when at our first Hogsmeade outing I got asked out before her, she made my potion explode into my face. I was in the hospital wing for two days after that, and Cat pushed her into the lake a few months later as revenge. When we were in seventh year, I was elected Hogwarts Bachelorette (Cat had a field day with that), and Crystal retried to disfigure my pretty face. If ever, that was sarcasm. Not that I'm ugly, but I'd never refer to myself like that – it's only good for people like Crystal.
Cat hates Crystal too – just another reason why we'refriends. I still remember the first time those two met, in our Gryffindor dorm. Crystal was going on about how her name was pronounced Crystal Charter with a CH sound and not a SH sound, and Cat was getting overly fed up with it. I'll remember her comment until my death: "Yeah, yeah, we got it, it's Charter like bitch and not like shit-face". Already at the age of eleven Cat had an explosive temper, a wide range of vocabulary and a very limited patience. Don't get me wrong: everybody loves her despite these traits, they probably actually arethe reason she's so popular. But she's also extremely fragile.
Her mom died when she was thirteen and that's still a delicate subject. She stills cries about it on some very rare occasions, but I'm the only one to know. The best option to calm her down in those situations is chocolate. We both have a sweet tooth for dark chocolate, especially the one with hazelnuts and dried grapes. When we left for our last year of school, I think the weight of the chocolate in one of our trunks was superior to the weight of both our books put together (and it only lasted till March, but that's also because we shared with the others). Next to eating chocolate, we share a passion for Quidditch (she plays, I comment), dragons, swimming, climbing up trees, cooking, singing and hexing.
What you must know is that we've had a slightly bizarre adolescence. As you probably know, Cedric Diggory died at the end of our third year. My parents and her dad, who are really close friends, went paranoid when they heard Voldemort was back (my mum is a Muggle and they'd only closely survived the first wizarding war). So, not wanting to take any risks, we all fled to Canada and lived together like hermits for three years, in this huge cabin in the middle of nowhere protected by the Fidelius charm. We were home-schooled by our parents and Cat's sister Maya, who is eight years older than her. In our free time, we roamed the surrounding area (only the protected part of course) and once we knew the ground bit it was only natural for us to extend our explorations vertically.
Also, having nothing else to do, and haing a knack for Transfiguration, we gradually trained to turn into Animagi, that we declared as soon as we regained civilisation. Both of us are felines (unsurprising in Cat's case considering her nickname), pumas in fact.
Being able to morph during our time in Canada was a huge relief: under animal form, we were allowed to go out of bounds a little. However, we were distinctly recognisable: Cat had ebony black fur, mine was pale gold and our characteristical blue eyes were the same no matter the form we were in. So, when the situation with Voldemort got worse, we were confined to the house once more. It drove us mad at first, but then Maya sat us both down, explained the value we could have if Voldemort knew about our condition (this is how she presents things and personally it always makes me laugh, what will it be the day we're pregnant?), and matters were settled.
With the war over, our Animagi skills limited themselves to causing mayhem at school. I'm still hoping that it will come in useful in my future career, which I haven't chosen yet. I graduated Hogwarts with an E in charms, arithmancy and DADA, and an O in Potions and Transfiguration; next to that, being from Belgium, I also speak French, and have learned Italian, Latin, Greek and Ancient Runes. My parents, especially my mum, were very keen to see me speak many languages. I do have to thank them for that, because it gives me a considerable amount of possibilities. Probably a little too many in my opinion: making choices is harder when you can choose to do nearly anything. What I wanted to do, but wasn't sure of being capable of, was be a part of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. It required good wand skills, reactivity, a knowledge of law, the capacity to mix with Muggles, and to be unafraid of turmoil. It seemed perfect to me. And yet, there was one problem.
I was petrified at the idea of not getting accepted.
So petrified that I didn't even want to try. Plus, the Squad was known for being one of the most macho departments of the ministry – there was one woman every seven years or so and she was always given the simplest tasks. I remembered a particular case in which the sole female member (out of sixty or so people) of the MLES, Sophia James, was never given a mission other than serving coffee. She resigned in less than a year and was replaced by some tattooed, bald, muscled bloke. It caused a riot, and allowed Witch Weekly to launch on yet another debate on gender inequalities. Not a bad thing of course, except that Witch Weekly is an unconstructive rag of a newspaper.
I glanced back at the copy I was holding, sighing in irritation.
BACHELOR NUMBER 1 IS NOT SINGLE ANYMORE!
Oliver Wood, Puddlemere keeper, proved last Sunday to a very distraught audience of witches that his heart has been stolen away. Indeed, at the end of the match opposing his team to the Tutshill Tornadoes, he was seen belatedly sweeping a young witch onto his broom, where he, one can suppose, was waiting for a congratulations' kiss. Refusing this in public, Kim Bethany Willows was nonetheless seen gently biting his neck, a gesture that she confirmed was a private way of saying I love you. Freshly graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Miss Willows confided to our very own Rita Skeeter: "Ollie and I have been together for over a year now, but that match was the moment when we decided to make things official. After his victory, he proposed, and I'm quite sure you'll hear about our wedding soon – I do love a spring wedding."
A photo followed, in which my body was closely pressed into Oliver's, and the photo-me leaned in every so often to bite Oliver just under his earlobe. My only consolation was that we certainly did not look belated; in fact I was glaring daggers each time I turned back to the camera. Still. I was done with. Wood and me, engaged? Ha, right. And married, in spring? Definitely not, I always said I would marry in November. Why was I discussing the date of my wedding anyway? I didn't even have a boyfriend! Damn that Rita Skeeter, to hell and back.
Grumbling, I tossed the paper into the fire, and watched with immense satisfaction as it erupted into flames. I was suddenly startled as a face popped into the hearth.
"Hey Kiwi! Or shall I call you Madam Wood?"
" For Merlin's sake Cat, don't start," I groaned. "That Skeeter woman wrote up a load of garbage just to sell her damned paper, and you know that. Why aren't you back here anyway? Your practice ended over an hour ago."
"Traditional team party. You know, first practice after the winning game?" I nodded, this had already happened twice since Cat had joined Puddlemere.
"The actual party, with reporters, photographers, hysterical fans and whatnot is tomorrow," she informed me. "You are coming, and that's not a question. This was a qualification match, the first really important one this year, and tomorrow is going to be huge!" She then stared around before reporting her gaze back on to me. "Are you decent?"
I checked my jeans and thick woolly blue sweater. My hair was braided loosely, and I did have minimal makeup, so I nodded to Cat.
"Good," she smiled wickedly, "cause the whole team is coming over. In fact," her head bobbed out of the flames for a second, "I'm going to free the space cause the first person should be Flooing over soon." And then the flames were normal again.
I let out a very undignified snort. Of all the members of Puddlemere, Cat had the biggest flat, which we shared. We had both been lucky enough to be in seventh year with Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger, and after graduation Hermione had kindly placed an undetectable extension charm on our flat. Being Hermione, she possessed immense magical capacities, and that mixed in with Cat's extravagance resulted in a huge puzzle of rooms. And when I say huge, I mean it.
We both had en suite bedrooms (each of our bathrooms relatively similar to the prefect's bathroom of Hogwarts). One room was used as a study, and contained all of our old books from school. We had six guest rooms ("For my team members, just in case," Cat had smiled at me). The main room held the lounge, the chimney we used to Floo, the dining table and a modern, open kitchen. Cat had managed to talk Hermione into creating a room only for our clothes – I'll admit, that was a good idea. As was our magically enlarged balcony that overlooked London. But she had definitely gone over the top when she had begged for a swimming pool – and obtained it. Seriously. And of course it couldn't just have been a normal, blue-tiled pool, which was already bad enough. No, Cat had insisted on re-creating the setting of the lake we lived nearby in Canada, meaning that if you pushed the door, you arrived in some kind of clearing, actually with the trees, with the stone-bottomed swimming pool in the middle, and a waterfall. I would've killed her. She was also very keen on having a Quidditch pitch, but I put my foot down for that one.
Despite all that, I loved the place. The view was amazing, we were minutes away from the Leaky Cauldron by foot, and we had the space to live together without killing each other off. But still. A waterfall, inside a flat in London. One day I was going to drag the girl off to the psychiatric department of St. Mungo's. Come to think of it, I should probably have done that years ago.
But that was the least of my concerns at that moment. I had a whole Quidditch team to feed. Did I? Typical Cat, forgetting to tell me if six hungry Quidditch playerswere coming over to eat or just for a drink. Cursing under my breath, I turned on my heel and Apparated into the locker rooms of Puddlemere, only to arrive face to face with Oliver Wood. Who, I realised with a horrified gasp, was only wearing a towel around his hips. Oh God.
"Willows," he greeted me with a smirk, not in the least embarrassed. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for Cat. Have you seen her?"
"I didn't mean why are you here, at Puddlemere stadium, I meant why did you Apparate into mychanging room?"
"I... What?" I must have looked like a Quaffle.
"This is my room, Willows. Nobody else changes here. Which is why I'm asking why you chose to Apparate here. Were you trying to get a glimpse of me naked? I do understand, but you shouldn't be that obvious about it."
"Listen, Wood, I did not choose to Apparate here," I hissed. He lifted an eyebrow, still smirking.
"Oooh, touchy are we? Didn't you learn, Willows, that sometimes you Apparate somewhere else then where you were aiming for because it actually is your heart's desire?"
At this, despite my annoyance with him, I burst out laughing without being able to help myself.
"My heart's desire? Please. I'd rather Apparate inside a barrel of Blast-Ended Skrewts."
"Nah, you can't hate me that much."
"Really? What a surprising piece of news... D'you think we should contact the press to tell them this breathtaking information?"
"Haven't you seen enough of the press already?"
My smile disappeared in a flash, and I groaned.
"Did you have to bring that up?"
"Why? Did you find it that terrible?" His eyes were bright with real interest.
"Dangling off you broom, barely held by you, over a crowd of at least four hundred people? Must I remind you that I was wearing a skirt?"
"I wouldn't have dropped you." His tone was dead serious, and I was starting to find this discussion bewildering.
"I can't be sure of that."
Whoa. This had just gone from bewildering to downright bizarre, and I decided to steer the conversation to safer grounds.
"Anyway, why me?"
"Oh, no specific reason. Because you're Cat's friend, and I knew there were less risks of me getting punched with you."
"Ha! Certainly not," I scoffed, "and I did get my revenge in a way." His hand moved up to the teeth marks on his neck.
"That wasn't revenge, it only happened because I let you." He immediately went red, and I stared at him disbelievingly.
"Wood, what did you just say?"
"That you were only capable of biting me because I was focusing on us winning the game, and therefore not really paying attention to the hysterical woman sitting behind me."
"That's not what you said." Even being called hysterical did not distract me from my objective of getting him to repeat his previous sentence, though it did push my irritation up another notch.
"It is. Merlin Willows, you should get a healer to check your ears. Or your brain."
"Wood!" I snarled. He looked mildly taken aback.
"What? I always thought you had mental issues."
That did it. In less time than it takes to say Snape, I had pounced across the room and was pinning him to the ground. In puma form of course, what were you imagining?! This time, I got the satisfaction to see his smirk slide entirely off his face.
Just so you know, I do normally control my transformations. Except when I'm really tired and someone annoys the crap out of me. There was another situation, but... No, that was impossible. Fine, fine! I'll tell you. Last time I had spontaneously transformed, I was facing emotional (aka amorous, not knowing how to react when facing the guy I liked) issues. So, obviously, it had to be lack of sleep. Obviously. Because Oliver Wood was a sodding prat. Right.
Considering that I had not willingly transformed, I went back to human shape as soon as I had calmed down. Unfortunately for me, that occurred as soon as I reflected on the causes of my morphing.
So, of course, when Cat walked into the room at that precise moment, I was looking considerably dishevelled and was lying on top of an almost-naked Oliver Wood, my elbows resting on both sides of his head and his hands propping me up by the shoulders.
A/N: This will be a much shorter, much more fluffy story... Cat and Kiwi are minor characters of Nineteen Years, as you will find out in the near future, but this does not affect that:
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Also, small disclaimer: the name Bethany was stolen from the amazing TenthWeasley, and her Beth Bridger trilogy. If you haven't read In The Black and In The Red, well, what are you still doing here? She is amazing and so are her stories and I absolutely love everything she writes.
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