Chapter 1 : The Golden Snitch
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You just got to catch her, Ollie.
‘Aaaaaand – they're off again! Maiden passes the Quaffle to Burnshire – Maiden – Burnshire – Faye – and Faye scooo-‘
A wave of anxiety rippled through the public.
‘Wood stops the Quaffle, good Lord. Puddlemere is attacking again. There goes Butcher – Finnigan – Elliott – back to Butcher – Butcher drops the Quaffle. And there’s Finnigan again – aaand Finnigan scores. He throws the Quaffle over his shoulder and scores! Class.’
The supporters of Puddlemere United erupted into loud cheering; making faces at the Wigtown Wanderers supporters. The atmosphere was friendly, thought things were starting to heat up, both on the field and in the public. This was, after all, the Cup Final, not just a training match between friendly, yet rivalling teams.
The Wanderers were behind eighty points to ten; their only goal had been a mistake by the Puddlemere Keeper. The young man was good, very good, but the main reason that he had stopped so many Quaffles – a total of thirteen, the commentator had said – was that he had trained with the Wigtown Wanderers for one year.
Wigtown’s Irish Chaser Fallon Moran had been very impressed by the young keeper’s skills, who at that time had been a reserve on the Puddlemere team, and a few weeks later the Keeper found himself dressed in the red robes of the Wigtown Wanderers. After his one year of training with them, he had returned to Puddlemere and was immediately promoted from back-up reserve player to Keeper.
Yes, the Puddlemere-Keeper was of great quality and that quality bothered the Wigtown fans immensely, especially after their starplayer Fallon Moran was sent of the field for foul mouthing the referee, after the man had refused to give her a penalty, when Butcher had intentionally collided with her, causing her to drop the Quaffle and forcing her to take a quick tumble down. It wasn’t as if she could’ve taken the penalty; she sported a broken arm and immediately after her fall, Burnshire had been sent up, but “It is the principle that matters,” she had yelled at the referee.
In the eyes of the Wigtowners their team had been robbed from their star, while Puddlemere still had theirs. It was hardly fair play, was the thought of every Wigtowner.
When Barlow, Puddlemere Beater, efficiently kept the Wigtown Seeker away from the Snitch, the crowd almost went ballistic. A man threw his scope madly in the crowd, hitting a young woman’s head. Agitated she turned around to see who had the nerves to attack her from behind. Her eyes scanned through the public, searching for the coward who had done so. When her eye caught sight of the man who apparently was the coward, dressed in the colours of Wigtown, her Puddlemere-spirits awakened. She scared friend and enemy – and the Puddlemere Keeper who was close by as well – with a deafening yell and lashed out at the man. Soon after, curses were flying freely and without direction through stand C2 of the stadium. Security-Wizards rushed over, using stunning and disarming spells to separate the short-tempered fans.
Oliver couldn’t suppress a smile. As the Puddlemere Keeper he had a good view – and also nothing else to do but watch, it wasn’t as if Wigtown was attacking – and he squinted to see the scene more clearly. Those people really loved Quidditch. It pleased him. Gleefully he rubbed his gloved hands against each other.
It was then that he noticed that the Wigtown’s Chasers’ absence had nothing to do with their lack of skill; the game had been stopped completely. Apparently one of the Chasers, Faye, had been badly hit by a Bludger.
Go Barlow, Oliver cheered in his mind, show them what Puddlemere is made of.
Faye was a tall, broad guy and Oliver knew whim very well; if Faye was down, it must’ve been a hard blow.
‘Fallon Moran, Chaser of Ireland and Wigtown - lovely wife of Aiden Lynch, should I call her Fallon Lynch then? – is yelling her lungs out,’ the commentator cried excitedly. ‘The referee is telling her to calm down, but she isn’t having any of it. If she continues like that she will have to be removed; what a scandal that would be! Clearly Faye isn’t able to play anymore, so what exactly is Moran yelling about? It’s a mystery to me, just as this woman is a total mystery to everyone.’
Oliver rolled his eyes. He didn’t like the commentator; his commentary was specked with loads of crap. He looked down and saw a slender woman with white sunglasses on her head, waving her finger in the face of the referee, in the mean time turning her head rapidly to look at the commentator. Her lips were moving fast, but Oliver was rather good at lip reading, if his eyes weren’t failing him, she shouted something along the lines of ‘constipated greyhound, shut your bleeding cakehole’ to the commentator before returning her attention to the referee again.
Oliver grinned. Fallon was a beautiful woman, gorgeous indeed, but probably more known for her colourful language than anything else. She was one of the few persons who’d talk the talk, but actually also walked the walk. You didn’t want to meet Fallon when she was in a foul mood; the obscurities she would yell at you! But at the same time it was Fallon’s greatest charm.
He remembered how she had treated him at first.
‘Oliver, you arse bandit, don’t be acting the maggot! Is it so hard to stop a bloody Quaffle? You’re such a bowsie!’
He laughed out loud. She sometimes still called him a bowsie. Maybe one day, if Puddlemere didn’t want him anymore, he would join her again on the Wigtown team. He’d love to play with her again.
At the moment she was driving the referee straight to insanity and beyond. The man looked banjaxed, ready to burst into tears and run off to the save embrace of his mother.
‘I do not know how Aiden Lynch keeps this fiery piece of woman under his control.’
The voice of the commentator boomed through the stadium again.
Oliver growled under his breath.
‘We can say much about Fallon,’ the commentator continued. ‘But the fact remains that she’s one hell of a Chaser and a good team-mate, standing up for Faye the way she does, even though there is no reason to throw such a fit.’
Silently Oliver cursed. He wished he had seen what happened, but the fight in the public had been more interesting at the time.
Suddenly there was movement. Elliott flew up next to Oliver, grinning.
‘Moran and Faye out,’ he said. ‘Barlow is on a war-path!’
He smirked, then flew to the other side of the field.
‘And Faye is carried away,’ the commentator said. ‘And to replace him ladies and gentlemen, we have a rookie’ – mocking laughter from the Puddlemere fans – ‘who has proven herself to be of great value. She was injured during training, unable to play for the last months, but under the watching eye of, who else, Fallon Moran, she has recovered very well. Off course I am talking about the one and only –‘
The crowd exploded when a blonde girl got on her broom and joined her team-mates. The Wigtowners screamed, yelled, bellowed, some even cried. They chanted the girl’s surname and Fallon Moran looked up with a broad smile, holding up both her thumbs at the girl.
When Oliver saw the girl his heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be her, not her. It was impossible. He must have heard it wrong. And there were so many people with her last name. So many blonde girls with that last name. But when she flew past him, his heart skipped a beat and his eyes blinked in recognition. Because it was her. She was here, right here. A breezy feeling tickled the insides of his stomach and he smiled. She was here.
But then he got back to his senses. She was here, indeed, and she was coming to him with the Quaffle.
‘The rookie scores, Katie Bell leaves Wood flabbergasted – probably her good looks – and easily brings Wigtown a ten-point lead. We know beautiful women can be distracting, Wood, but keep your head in the game.’
‘Constipated greyhound,’ Oliver scolded, using the words he had stolen from Fallon’s lips. His dislike of the commentator multiplied and he sent a glare in the man’s direction.
’Bell looses the Quaffle to Butcher – Elliot – Butcher – and Butcher meets a Bludger, how ironic; Butcher, Bludger. There’s Burnshire – Bell – Burnshire – Bell – beautiful double play must I add – Bell goes for it – ay, Wood’s thinking with his brains again and stops the Quaffle. Maiden – Bell – Burnshire – Burnshire scores. No, he doesn’t – Burnshire – Bell – goooall! Great interaction between the Chasers, Moran’s present again in the form of Bell. The rookie is not yet close to Moran’s qualities, but boy, did they have Wood fooled –‘
‘Bag of dead rats,’ growled Oliver.
‘And calling me names is not going to soften your misery.’
Oliver grunted. The game had moved to the other side of the field, giving him some time to catch a breath. And it was an opportunity the check Katie out. She had grown.
Kind of logical,’ muttered Oliver. ‘It has been three years already.’
He thought back to the old days at Hogwarts. They had been quite the team; George and Fred – may he rest in peace – were an amazing Beater duo, Harry Potter taking the Seeker-role to perfection, himself as Keeper and the three Chasers; Alicia, Angelina and Katie. He remembered the last battle, when Voldemort had been defeated. He and Katie fought side by side; she had protected him, he had shielded her. Three years already, three long years had passed.
And now Katie was playing for the Wigtown Wanderers. She had never given any indication of wanting to go pro, but she was here nevertheless.
He remembered her as the clumsy, always goofy Katie. He liked that Katie, he had liked that girl a lot. But playing against him now was a woman; a full-grown young woman.
His throat suddenly felt dry.
I can’t use this, he thought. I need to stay focused on the game, forget about Katie.
That was hard to do, because Katie, at the moment, had tricked the Quaffle away from Butcher. She was flying towards Oliver, passing the Quaffle to and receiving it from Burnshire with dazzling speed.
Focus on the game, not on her. The game, the game – game – Katie…
The only thing that Oliver’s brain chose to see and understand were the soft locks that had escaped Katie’s ponytail and were now flowing freely on the wind. He only saw her pink lips – she still chewed on them, he could tell. That she was a Chaser from the opposite team was just a minor fact. It only became major after Burnshire had scored and he and Katie did a victory dance.
The same woman who had attacked the Wigtown fan pointed her wand warningly at Oliver. He got the message.
The next four Quaffles were all stopped by Oliver, concentrating better than ever on the game, sopping in his sweaty robes.
So what if this was Katie Bell? He was Oliver Wood, Keeper of Puddlemere United. He’d show her exactly why he had gotten this position. With every Quaffle that Oliver caught, his Chaser’s got more confident, until it was 80 for Wigtown against 130 for Puddlemere.
They were playing rough now. Oliver, luckily, had managed to duck every Bludger that had been sent his way, but a few of his team-mates were less lucky. Elliott couldn’t use her left arm – a good thing she was right-handed – thanks to a blow from both the Wigtown Beaters – they had performed a Dopplebeater Defence – and Butcher sported two black eyes. She would look terrible in the morning, Oliver was sure of it.
A shock went through the public when the commentator suddenly yelled, ‘They’ve seen the Snitch! They’ve seen the bloody Snitch! Will it be Kareem from Puddlemere of Wigtown’s Rowling who’ll catch it? It is Kareem, it will be Kareem - I can see the Snitch now and Kareem is closing in –‘
Oliver’s heart fluttered a bit. They were winning, his team was winning! He had no idea were his Seeker was; he was determined to stop Burnshire’s last attack and didn’t dare to look up, afraid of loosing sight of Burnshire and the Quaffle.
‘Yes, yess – it’s over!’ the commentator was screaming bloody murder and Oliver looked up to check to scoreboard.
Puddlemere 280. He expected to see it, but instead he heard, ‘Rowling has the Snitch; Wigtown wins!’
The world fell still around Oliver. He could only hear that line over and over again; Wigtown wins.
The Wigtowners were breaking it off; they washed over the field, cheering, singing and laughing. They were beyond happy.
And Oliver was beyond sad.
He made it to the finals and what did he do; he lost. Kareem looked even more beaten than Oliver. Oliver went over to him and patted his back.
‘Cheer up, mate,’ he said in a falsely bright tone, faking a smile. ‘It’s not your fault; we’ll do better next year.’
Kareem shrugged. It was obvious that he blamed himself.
He flew down to the ground, walking away with his head down. Oliver stayed in the air for a bit, glancing over the many people on the field. He searched for Katie’s blonde hair, but he couldn’t make her out in the mass of people. He didn’t know why he was looking for her; what would he say to her?
Congratulations seemed so hollow and lame after three years of not seeing nor speaking each other. He landed next to the pitch and sighed.
He had lost the finals. He had been distracted and had lost the finals.
‘Absobloodylootely fantastic,’ he groaned.
Someone pinched his sides and a familiar laugh reached his ears.
‘Absobloodylootely?’ Fallon asked, a smirk on her face and her eyes twinkling.
Oliver looked down on her, she wasn’t the tallest, but somehow she managed to make him feel small; though, not in an uncomfortable way.
‘Don’t look so down, bowsie,’ she grinned. ‘That your team didn’t catch the Snitch, doesn’t mean that you’ve lost. You were leading, remember. And for what it’s worth; I think you are a wonderful keeper and all of your guys played great.’
‘We were just greater,’ Fallon added slyly.
Oliver surprised himself by chuckling along with Fallon. The Irish woman amused him. There weren’t many people who could make him laugh, especially not after a lost Quidditch match. Fallon definitely was one of those few.
Just as Katie, a small voice in his mind said.
Maybe he should go looking for her. After all, it was rude to leave someone who had been such a good friend to him, after they had just won the Cup Final.
More than a good friend, the voice spoke.
Suddenly a voice called out for him.
Katie came running to him. How she had grown over the years; Oliver smiled. He could see it clearly now; new curves that hadn’t been there before. A few seconds later he could also feel it clearly, when without a warning Katie jumped into his arms.
‘Oomph,’ he grunted. ‘You’ve gotten heavy.’
Always the tactless bloke, Kati thought. But she smiled and kissed Oliver on the cheeks.
‘How have you been –‘
They spoke at the same time and for a moment there was an awkward silence, tensed silence between them.
‘I’m great –‘
‘Thanks – ‘
Again, their words came out together. Oliver grimaced. He had said the lame word; he had said ‘congratulations’. He had to get out of there, before he made an even bigger fool out of himself. Dear Merlin, he had even said she had gotten heavy.
Retreat! The logic parts of his brain yelled.
‘I got to go,’ he quickly said, making up a quick excuse. ‘We always scrub each other’s back after a match.’
Idiot! His inner voice scolded.
Katie arched an eyebrow. Oliver started to walk backwards. He didn’t want to, but his feet had a will of their own.
Where are you going? His inner voice yelled. Ask her to meet you later. Don’t walk away from her, Oliver. Do not do it, do you hear me! Don’t walk away and do not let her walk away.
But what if she changed too much? They weren’t the people they had been in Hogwarts. What if there was nothing left of the ld Katie.
What if, what if? What if I had a body and could beat some sense into you. The inner voice was getting aggressive and the corners of Oliver’s mouth twitched. He was going crazy, hearing voices, calling Katie fat – because heavy and fat equalled each other. He positively was ready for a one-way trip to St. Mungo’s.
You are not crazy, just very slow. The inner voice spoke calmly now.
Oliver looked at Katie. There was no way she was still the same old clumsy, goody Katie he had known. She was so… mature.
That happens when people grow up, the voice said. You are the exception.
But what if she changed too much?
You never know until you ask.
Katie gave Oliver a small smile, and then she turned around.
Too late, Oliver, spoke to his inner voice.
But fate interfered for him.
As Katie turned around, her foot got caught behind the other. Oliver speeded forward, stretching his arms to keep her from falling. When he had her, he sighed relieved. Not because she hadn’t fallen, but because she was still clumsy. Only Katie could trip over her own feet like that.
She looked up at him and grinned.
‘Blimey,’ she said cheekily. ‘Guess I’m falling for you. Again.’
Still the same old goofy Katie.
Oliver smiled and took her hand.
‘I’ll walk you to the locker room,’ he said.
‘Aren’t you supposed to scrub your team-mates’ backs?’ she asked.
Oliver turned crimson red.
‘Nah,’ he replied coolly. ‘They can wait. After all, I can’t let you fall for some other bloke, can I?’
Getting confident now, the voice in his mind snickered.
Katie laughed and Oliver smiled again. His smile grew wider when her fingers laced through his. She squeezed his hand, waking the first of many butterflies in his stomach. They had slept the past three years, but now Katie was here and they were ecstatic. She was their wake-up call.
The commentator watched them walk away together, his arm around Fallon Moran’s shoulder.
‘Kareem may have not caught the Golden Snitch,’ he smiled. ‘But Wood certainly did.’
Fallon elbowed him.
‘You’re such a fluffy dope,’ she scolded. But she smiled nevertheless.