Chapter 1 : Dream Deferred
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Disclaimer First off, JK Rowling owns the Harry Potter world, which includes Oliver Wood and the game of Quidditch itself. Also the poem is not mine, it's by Langston Hughes. Now I own Michelle Dunbar and the plot and the various other Quidditch related characters you'll meet along the way, but that's about it.
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over
Like a syrupy sweet
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load
Or does it explode?
Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
I walked into the stadium that was home to Puddlemire United and I shook my head, lightly chuckling as I remembered how in awe I was when I had my first try out for a professional Quidditch team. I had just graduated from school and my name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue; who was this American girl who descends from the great John Dunbar himself? I almost forgot my broom on the way there. But although I had my father’s name and my own chaser skills, I didn’t make the Los Angeles Lightning team. Nor did I make any other team. Every single one that I did try out for either put me on the reserve team or flat out rejected me. It wasn’t because I wasn’t any good, for I had records at one of the most prestigious Quidditch colleges in the States, Mills Academy, but it was because I had an illness. It’s a certain illness that no one knows exactly what it is; it just made me faint uncontrollably. I took at least three potions a day to try and cure the terrible thing but it hasn’t cured me yet. Hell, it might never leave me alone and then I’ll be doomed to never play again.
I guess someone out there just doesn’t want me to be out on that Quidditch pitch.
Despite my illness, I continued to try out for teams all across the country. I even tried out for the Vancouver Veelas but was denied because I couldn’t prove I was part Veela. Or that’s what they told me. The truth was that no one wanted a Chaser that fainted all the time because how could they throw or catch the ball when they were falling towards the ground? Because of that, I couldn’t become what I had always wanted to be: an All American Professional Quidditch Player. After I graduated from Mills Academy and realized that I would never be my dream, my older brother, who lived in England, invited me to come and stay with him and since I had nowhere else to go, I agreed. Our parents have been dead for some time now and we both agreed that we would never let the other sibling stand out in the cold so to speak.
That was in spring; it was now the end of summer and I was still in bloody England.
I wouldn’t have gone to this try out but my brother insisted that I did. I argued with him, telling him that no one wanted a chaser that blacked out all the time. I was done with my dream and I didn’t want to experience any more heartache then I already had. But he would always grin and tell me the same thing: “The English aren’t who you think they are. They bend the rules for good people; or at least the Quidditch teams do.” And I would always reply with a sarcastic tone, “That’s why you moved here Mike! You fit in perfectly!” He then would always wrestle me to the ground and tickle me until I told him that he was the most handsome man that I had ever met. It actually wasn’t hard to say it because he was one of the most handsome men I had ever met. When he went to Mills, girls swarmed around him like a fat kid did to cake. Hence why he always won and I ended up getting a side cramp from the amount of laughter I had emitted in a short period of time. It the price I have to pay for having an older brother.
“Fill out the forms and then warm up!” the short, stubby coach yelled before walking over to his panel of judges who I figured were either back up coaches or great donors. All tryouts were the same, no matter what country you’re in. I grabbed a form and pencil from the bucket they were in and sat down in a dark green bucket seat meant for a spectator. Boy, the English knew how to take care of their fans all right, in most stadiums I’ve been in, people sat or stood on wooden bleachers. Maybe it’s because there are at least one and a half dollars to the pound. Wait that was muggle money, not wizarding, wasn’t it? I was good at Quidditch, but I was never really that good in school – the typical she-jock to fit the Mills Academy mold.
I then turned my attention to the form, which was exactly like all the other forms that I had filled out when trying out for all the other American teams. This was turning out to be just as I thought.
Name: Michelle Dunbar
Number of years playing Quidditch: 10
Awards: Captain of Mills Academy Wildcats, went to state, and then won Nationals.
Professional Team(s) you’ve played for: None
I gulped at the next question.
“The English aren’t who you think they are. They bend the rules for good people; or at least the Quidditch teams do.”
I quickly wrote the extensive (sense my sarcasm) knowledge of my sickness and then rolled my eyes. Maybe they would pick me because I was honest. I signed the bottom and handed it over to a clerk. He took it with a smile and showed me a bin of jerseys which didn’t look too sanitary since they seemed to have been worn before thousands of times. I shuddered to think which big oafs had worn them and they got cut; there were probably so many that the staff didn’t bother to wash the stinking sweat off the mesh shirts.
“Pick one. Coach Cambert will call you by your number since he doesn’t know your name.” Of course, I already knew that but I didn’t want to be mean to the guy since I didn’t want to go home to my brother; how could I tell him I didn’t make the team because I was rude to the clerk who was handing out the jerseys? Little did most players know, but the coaches watched you every minute, trying to see your flaws so they could decide whether or not they wanted you on the team.
A small smile came across my face as I picked one of the top jerseys, not exactly caring what number I got. I slipped the jersey over my white tank top and looked down at the dark green number that contrasted with the rest of the white jersey. A seven was plastered across my chest and I rolled my eyes, knowing that the feeling of guys looking at my chest was going to be unavoidable.
“Good pick! Seven is my lucky number. Hope it brings you good luck since it seems like there are some really talented magical folk here,” the clerk said smiling as he turned to the next player, holding out the bucket to him with the same reused smile on his face.
“Thanks,” I smiled back, not really caring that he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore. I didn’t need any luck anyways. I wasn’t here to make the team; it was only for fun. I walked back to my bag while putting my past shoulder length dirty blonde hair into a sleek ponytail. I grabbed a Quaffle from my black Nike bag and my broom, which was one of the precursors to the Firebolt. It’d cost me an arm and a leg to get it, but it was worth it. It won me most of my games back at Mills. I waxed it every night, making sure it was in tip top condition if anyone challenged me to a Quidditch game in the near future. What strange activities us retired Quidditch stars have.
“Do you mind if I warm up with you? They ran out of Quaffles to practice with,” a very handsome guy that looked about a year older then me asked in a Scottish brawl. He then smiled revealing his perfect teeth, which gleamed in the sunlight. How could I have said no? And if I was going to have fun at this try out, I better start with sizing up the player and this one didn’t seem bad. Not bad at all.
“Sure, um, there’s a free spot over there,” I said pointing to some empty blue sky, which there was a shortage of. His chocolate brown eyes twinkled in response and I took that as a yes. A smile appeared on my face as I kicked off my precious broom and he followed suit, never leaving a broom’s length away from me. “So what team did you play for before?” I asked as I threw the Quaffle to him after we settled down and spread apart from each other. He seemed like he was one of those kids that was good at a very early age and made all the other kids insanely jealous.
“I used to play for Gryffindor at Hogwarts before I made the Puddlemire reserve team last year,” he answered throwing the ball back to me with a cocky grin on his face. I caught it easily but still he threw it quite hard. So he was a strong one, I had to give him that.
“I’ve never heard of Hogwarts,” I said throwing it back with a little more force then I did last time just to show him I wasn’t the pansy he thought I was. He missed the ball. Scratch that, he didn’t even try to catch it.
“You’ve never heard of Hogwarts?” he said, his chocolate brown eyes bulging out of his skull. “It’s one of the most famous wizarding schools in all of Europe!”
“I’m American, sweetheart,” I grinned, “Now get the ball you completely missed. It’s on the ground over there. And hurry up too, the coaches seem like they’re taking notes.” He grinned back at me before getting the ball. I almost died from his heart-melting smile. I guess this try out wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“I knew you had to be a Yankee,” he said when he returned, that silly little grin still on his face. Now I didn’t know much about muggle history and the forming of my country, but knew that the English called the American rebels that. So the boy knew his history alright, but I could fight history with history.
“Yankee?” I said with mock anger as I caught the ball, half laughing and half trying to be serious. “If I’m a Yank then you’re a Tory or better yet, a redcoat!”
“Well I’m originally Californian,” I said putting a hand on my hip, putting on that slightly annoyed face that my brother always tends to tell me about.
“Still a Yank. You live in America.”
“Oh fine, you want to generalize then? You’re a Tory; you live in the United Kingdom.” Just like my brother warned me about, the Scot fumed and I now understood why I should never insult someone who wasn’t from England by telling them that they were. But then again, he was asking for it.
“Scotland will become its own country. It practically is,” he muttered as his fingers ran over the red leather of my quaffle. I had to say, he did look quite cute when he was mad.
“Whatever you say Tory. Throw me the ball,” I chuckled as I sat on my broom, adjusting the leather of my own chaser gloves. He threw it back quite hard. I barely knew him and I loved to press his buttons; it was so rewarding.
“So did you play professionally in America, Yank?” he said with a cocky grin as he watched me scowl at his well placed throw that almost knocked me off my broom. Honestly, we were just throwing back and forth playfully and then he had to throw a curving one that I had to stretch for.
“Nope, just like you Tory,” I grinned back. “Except yours truly didn’t make a reserve team.”
“Then why did you come here? Think you’re better then everyone else?” He cocked an eyebrow playfully.
“I’m not French babe,” I laughed when I threw it back to him with a little more oomph then I normally would. Oh man, I was on a role with these European taunts.
“So then why did you come?” he said with a puzzled look on his face as he caught the ball; well more like he caught it with his chest, which I was aiming at.
“Thought I would see what you English call Quidditch,” I said in a very glossy fake English accent, which I thought was pretty spot on with those posh girls that my brother tended to bring home for the night. His face went bright red with anger and I laughed as I imagined steam coming out of his ears. He obviously didn’t like my nationality jokes.
“What’s so funny?” he barked as I continued to laugh and point at his beet red face.
“Your – face- is – bright – red!” I managed to get out as I laughed and pointed at him. Oh the joys of young innocent flirting; it made me feel so young and school girl like.
“You should see him when he’s barking at us in a game,” a pretty brown haired girl said in an English accent as she came out from the middle of no where. “How are you Oliver dahling?” I ceased laughing when she kissed him on the lips. So the stupid guy had a girlfriend and here he was, leading me on. Bastard. I had to say, he looked a little surprised at first but then gave into her kiss and I almost wanted to yell ‘Get a room!’ since I was still in my school girl-esque mindset.
“Doing well Katie,” he replied while putting his arm around her and then looking straight at me after he’d just sucked her lips clean off her face.
“And who would this be?” she said following his gaze to me and I wanted to slap that smirk off her face. Man, this girl seemed like a bitch and I didn’t even know her.
“She had a Quaffle and I thought I would warm up with her since there were no more out. I don’t know her.” My fists clenched each other but I tried to hide them behind my back. The fucking Tory was just using me after all. I knew I shouldn’t have flirted with him in the first place – the guy behind him was much more attractive then this Scotsman would be in a million years. Or so I kept telling myself.
“Then she won’t mind if I warm up with you,” she said smirking at me. Oh the little bitch!
“No problem,” I managed to get out while inside I fumed just like Oliver [at least I found out his name from the encounter] had when I generalized the Scottish. But it was more like a jealous rage then rage resulting from someone insulting your home country. They then flew off laughing together and I wished that somehow, one of the bludgers would hit the stupid Katie girl in the head. “Stupid Tories,” I muttered, now actually having a reason to actually try at this tryout – to show them that America wasn’t as stuck up as they thought it was.
“Alright, now I want the Seekers over here, the beaters over there, the chasers over here and the keepers over there,” Coach Cambert said and I flew to join my fellow chasers, which seemed like a hell of a lot more people then I expected. I saw Oliver fly off to join the keepers; at least I wasn’t going to have to face him for the position or else his ass would be toast. The other chasers were buzzing with excitement and Katie just happened to be one of them.
“Sorry about taking Oliver,” she said too sweetly, “We just haven’t seen each other in a while and he always calms me down beforethese tryouts.” I bet you saw each other last night, I mused in my head.
“I don’t mind. I warmed up with someone else,” I said with a bit edginess laced into my voice. I know I can be a bitch when I want to and I was definitely wanting to. Then the Chaser coach coughed loudly and everyone was silent as they fidgeted with their brooms, nervously. I rolled my eyes, knowing that most of them would be cut.
“My name is Daniel Fields and you will have the honor of having me as your Chaser coach if you make the team,” the chaser coach began until he was interrupted by someone. All the chasers trying out had wide eyes and were looking around, seeing who said something.
“Honor my arse,” one of the current Chasers on Puddlemire team, who was behind Fields, whispered to another, who was a girl.
“I heard that Marino,” he barked and then turned back to us, trying to forget that his former players were still behind him, waiting for him to finish his speech.
“Told you he would get mad Barker,” Marino snickered. Barker, who I assumed was the girl, hit him lightly on the shoulder. She looked like she was getting a little too old to play Quidditch and I guessed they were going to replace her. Poor girl, she seemed like a nice one too.
“Now I’m going to ask you to do a couple moves or attacks formations. You’ll be with a newbie like yourself or a current Puddlemire Chaser. Newbies will go with Barker and the privileged will go with Marino and Forester.”
“Represent!” one yelled, who I assumed was the clown of the team.
“Quite Forester,” Fields said rolling his eyes. “Do you want to be replaced this year? I’m sure one of these fine young things could knock you right off.” All the chasers twittered in excitement.
“Sorry coach, won’t happen again.”
Fields then began paring people off according to their experience that they put on their forms, which had magically been compiled into a list. He started calling off names that I had never imagined were real name. Being in England, I figured everyone was named ‘Smith’ or ‘Rogers’ or something along those lines. I guess Puddlemire had a big pull in other countries as well.
“Yes coach?” I said raising my hand awkwardly as if I might have still been in school.
“Graduated from Mills eh?” he said looking at the sheet and not at my face.
“Yes Sir and captain of the School team who won Nationals,” I said proudly and I was sure that I may have puffed out my chest a bit. Whatever, it wasn’t like I was going to make the team anyway.
“Good, you’ll go with Marino and Forrester.” I gulped as I made my way over to the two male Professional Chasers. Did Mills have that great of a reputation, even over here? Sweat started to form on my hands and I was thankful that I had my gloves on or I was sure that I would drop the ball. Why was I being nervous? This whole try out thing was a joke. I wasn’t going to make the team no matter what I did.
But there was one part of me that knew I had to represent my school. Smacking the leather of my gloves together, I began to get into what I called my ‘zone’. It was where I went before games and during them. Once I was in the zone, I was a bitch to someone who tried to interrupt me and I knew it.
“Looks like we got ourselves a treat,” Marino said nudging Forester as I flew over. Oh brother, I thought as I rolled my eyes and waited for the coaches instructions.
“Hawkshead!” Fields barked and the guys quickly spun around and got into position while I flew towards the front, completing the shape. We passed back and forth with each other, weaving in and out, our speed increasing as we got towards the goal posts. “Pass to seven!” Fields ordered and Marino passed to me quickly and I caught it with one hand and then cocked it back. I easily scored by doing a curve ball shot. Sure, there was also no keeper to block it, but at least I made it through the ring, unlike some others. “Good work. Next, uh, Gaines!”
I smiled as I went down to the ground as I had been told to do by another coach and waited. As I watched the others, I knew happy with my performance even if it was for only one shot. However, that one shot made me feel alive again. I closed my eyes and I could still feel the wind whipping through my hair and then the sound of the ball smacking against the leather of my gloves. I sighed, knowing that I would thank my brother. That one shot would keep the Quidditch monster inside of me happy for a while.
I quickly opened my eyes and saw that one of the coaches and pointing up at the sky where Fields, Marino and Forrester were waiting. I must have looked confused since the others seemed to be laughing.
“Are you just going to sit there and relive that one drive or are you going to get up here and do it again just like I asked?” Fields said, a smirk on his face. I hopped onto my broom and was up there faster then you could say ‘daydreamer’.
“You’re pretty good for a girl,” Forrester confessed as he gave me a suggestive wink, nudging me in the side. He then followed the rest of the group towards the official locker rooms and I was left there with a blush on my face in the sea of people waiting for Cambert to give a closing speech. The last thing I needed to be doing was flirting with a Professional Quidditch player.
“Now you all had a good day today and the coaches and I are going to have a hard time picking who will be taking the few spots available. The reality is that most of you won’t make it; it’s such a shame that your awesome talent has to be wasted. But just because you are cut doesn’t mean that your career is over. Old Fields over here tried out a couple times before he became coach.” Fields was too busy looking at his lists to say something. “Now, if you make the team, we will send you an owl with the starting team and reserve team roster. Good luck,” Cambert said and everyone got their stuff and began to leave, still nervous about how they thought they did. I had a good day but I could tell that there were better chasers then me; plus, the looming fact that I was sick was still over my head. I scowled. This team seemed like a fun one and over here in Europe, no one knew my name. As I passed through the gate, I saw Mike waiting for me, standing by his pride and glory; his new car he’d bought.
“Michie!” he yelled as he ran over to me before I could call him a Muggle or comment on his car. He then scooped me up and spun me around in circles, which was highly unlike him. I received a couple of weird looks and my face became red as I noticed that Oliver was some of the people giving them.
“Mike, let me down!” I giggled as I hit him playfully in the arm, smirking inside. Fine Oliver, this is a special ‘up yours’ from me to you. Mike complied with my request about fifteen seconds later since he had to continue to make me scream with protests, that stupid grin on his face. When he finally let me down, I smacked him on the side of his head and then made him open the door for me since ‘I was tired’. He then got in and we drove off to our house.
“What’s with the boy friend like behavior? Ever heard of incest?” I joked as I began to munch of an energy bar.
“I saw some guys looking at you. Well some is an understatement. Most, I should say. And believe me they didn’t want to ask how you thought you did at tryouts. Just wanted them to know that they can’t touch my sister,” he said with a cheeky grin as he turned the car onto another street.
“You’re lying,” I said, the food still unchewed in my mouth.
“Well some ugly broads were looking at me,” he said rolling his eyes as he pulled into the driveway of our small looking flat.
“What? It’s true!”
“You’re so shallow,” I said as I pushed him away from me, not wanting his cocky self near me and then got out of the car. I then realized how fast we had gotten home and I turned around and looked at him over the roof of the car. He just had to use some sort of magic, didn’t he?
“You know you love me for doing it,” he said as he jingled the house keys, his normal smirk forming on his face.
“You’re ass is grass when we get inside,” I said with a devilish grin after managing to get my bag out of the small back of the car. I then stretched my arms up and sighed. As much as I wanted to kill him for doing magic in the middle of London, I was too tired to actually move a finger. I lugged myself up the steps and into my room, dropping my bag on the bed and laying down next to it.
“Come on Sleeping Beauty, you need a bath,” Mike said, pinching his nose as he threw my bag off the bed. I groaned in protest but let him drag me to his room. I took a long bath in my brother’s big bathtub, filling it to the brim with bubbles. “You need to relax,” he had said before closing the door to the huge room and my muscles agreed with him. I stepped into the steaming tub and tried to relax since the hot water soothed my muscles but I couldn’t truly relax yet. I wanted to know if I had made the team yet. Sure I was doing it for fun but part of me wanted to know out of curiosity. I knew I wanted to see if things were going to be different over in England; maybe I could make a team now.
I sighed, putting my hand on the windowsill and looked out at the garden below. My mother had always loved gardens and I guessed that Mike had wanted to keep some part of her alive by badgering the land lord into letting us grow one on the little space that wasn’t occupied by the apartment building. Suddenly, a huge dark owl landed next to my hand, which I didn’t notice at first and I almost screamed when it swiped at my hand with its leg that had a letter tied to it. My heart began to race. I untied the letter from the leg and read it as I shooed the owl away.
r Michelle Dunbar,
We are happy to inform you that you have been chosen to become a Chaser on the Puddlemire United team. Practices will be held everyday starting on Monday for five hours. Please write us back if you have any conflicts with the schedule.
The list below is the roster for this year’s team:
Chasers- William Marino, Micheal Forrester, and Michelle Dunbar.
Backup Chasers- Linda Gillard, Thomas Simon, and Caroline Carter.
Beaters- Randy Edmund and Jeffery Dellard.
Backup Beaters- Robert Bon and George Timbered.
Keeper- Oliver Wood.
Backup Keeper- Juliana Sanders.
Seeker- Annabell Spinard.
Backup Seeker- Kelly Christian.
I punched the air in delight and water spilled over the edge of the tub. I had finally made a team for once in my life and I sank into the water, savoring the feeling of joy that ran through my veins. Tears threatened to spill from my eyes, but I fought to keep them in. I wasn’t an American Quidditch player, I was an English one and that suited me just fine.
“What?” Mike said rushing in for I’m sure that I made a lot of commotion due to the fact that I had beaten the system. Thankfully I had put bubbles in my bath and they covered my body so he wasn’t getting any ideas about what had happened earlier that day.
“I made the team!” I squealed, which was very unlike me. The tears in my eyes finally won and my face scrunched up as I tried wiping them away since they tasted salty in my mouth.
“Wonderful!” he said knowing about my goal and my dreams to play Quidditch professionally. “After you’re done with your bath, I’ll take you out to drinks and dinner.”
“Thanks but get out,” I said, shooing him out, still blubbering. I looked at the list one more time, not believing what it said. Hopefully Oliver Wood was not the same Oliver that I had met today. But if it was, I didn’t see any Katie on the list. I sent my reply to Coach Cambert saying that I would accept their offer to play as chaser. Then, I slipped under the bubbles and began to fully relax.
I couldn’t wait to go out to dinner.
A/N: please review, I like hearing people's thoughts :D