Chapter 3 : Piper loves early morning runs and run-ins with her father
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Piper snorted delicately, tossing aside the stupid brochure she’d been reading. Looking out the window, she considered said Facility.
Looks like the same backyard it always was.
Granted, not every Tom, Sally, and Sampson had an official Facility, but it could hardly be described as Magnificent. More like Pretentious. Or even Obnoxious. Some would call it daunting. Piper just thought that the Keeper’s practice field blocked the sun during the summer, and the Seeker’s room was far too small. Most people had no problem with it.
100 yards from the back porch of Piper’s House, the grandiose entrance loomed. Wrought iron gates enchanted to appear golden protected Thomas James’ baby from being trespassed upon. Piper knew they were wrought iron, not something else, from the time that she ran head on into them when she was six. Never play toilet tag with your brothers and their friends if you are not faster than them.
The gates gave way to a large grassy knoll, for which Piper could not determine any proper use. Usually it was a big muddy pit. Which was great for playing slip and slide; not so great once you grow bosoms. Piper also knew that from personal experience. She couldn’t lie on her stomach for a week; not that she had a lot to squash. But any little bit hurt.
To an immediate right of the big mud pit was the Keeper’s Practice Field. Basically, it was a smaller Pitch in a domed building during the winter, and a Pitch with lots of Posts sticking out of it come warmer weather. The Keeper’s Practice Field blocked the Pool though. Dammit. So unless Piper felt like being ogled for hours, she steered clear of the pool when people were practicing.
Next to the KPF, were the male showers/locker rooms. Not too exciting, but usually very pungent.
Looking at the building next to the boys’ room, Piper smiled. It was perhaps her favorite place in the whole entire Facility. The pristine Chaser and Beater Unit. The Chasers and Beaters were lumped together for more than just logistics. The Beaters need something to hit bludgers at, right? Besides, Thomas had built to the border of his property before realizing that he forgot the Beater space. The CBU was the third largest area, after the Scrimmage Field and the Seeker’s box. Piper spent many a lazy summer day flying in this area. The walls could be charmed in the winter to look like anything you wanted it to look like. Usually James made it appear to be a tropical island. Normally a topless beach. Perv. Piper, undoubtedly got sick of tits, and changed it to a pretty autumn day. With no half naked women.
Why do I need to look at knockers? I can jump around in front of the mirror if I really felt inclined to. Not that Piper ever did. Jump around naked in front of the mirror, that is.
To the right of the CBU was the lady’s. Not exciting. Smelled much nicer than the men’s.
Behind the lady’s was the Scrimmage Field, which was encompassed by a muggle track. Piper’s dad was very demanding, and as a coach, one of the things he demanded was that his player’s, and anyone he trained, be as fit as possible. So he built a track. The SF could be enclosed by a magical curtain, to keep it warm and un-muddy. The SF was surrounded by three large sets of bleachers for spectators and scouts. And the occasional injured player. Who was usually told to ‘shake it off, and be a man’. Which never failed to send Piper’s eyes rolling. How the bloody hell do you shake off a concussion or fractured bones? Wouldn’t that make it much worse?
The final section of the JQTF was the Seeker’s box. The name was rather misleading, as the SB was not in fact, a box. It was the part of the Facility where the Seekers could ply their craft, and in the winter stay warm while doing it. There was a small entryway that (in the winter) cast a warming charm on anyone who walked through it. It led to the outermost part of the Estate. The borders were blocked by an invisible enchanted wall so no Snitch or Seeker flew off the property.
Piper pulled a thin yellow sweatshirt over her curly red ponytail, turning away from her window to find her trainers. Piper bent at the waist, feet spread wide, slowly and deliberately stretching her hamstrings. Reaching carefully to her right ankle, Piper turned her head to look under her bed. To find one freaking shoe. The left one. She stood up quickly and closed her eyes to slow down the dizziness. What the hell can you do with one shoe? Hop around the track? That’ll go down real good. “Sorry guys, I’m the pacer, but I’m going to hop. Hop a ruddy 5 minute mile.” No, I think not!
Stepping her left foot out in front of her, Piper peered into the closet, hoping to find some sort of trainer in amidst the jumble of shit piled in there. Bending into a deep lunge, Piper rolled her head around a couple times to get the blood flowing. Spying what appeared to be the errant mate to her trainer. Leaning forward a bit, she grasped the toe and yanked. Straightening up, she smiled and pulled on the trainer and looked for her clock.
“Oh shit!” Piper scrambled out of her room, down the stairs, and out the back door. She sprinted across the muddy knoll, and around the CBU, to skid to an ungraceful stop in front of a crowd of men.
Jason checked his watch, and lolled his head to the side, drawling lazily. “You were almost late, PJ.”
Piper rolled her eyes and tried to swallow her heart back down into her chest. Feeling able to, she snidely snapped,”But I wasn’t, Jace, was I? You big jerk.” She took a gander at the guys crowded around her smiling brother. Not seeing Wood, she pulled her baseball cap down and asked who was running this morning.
“Starting strong, eh? Trying to give me a heart attack? Dad’ll love that. First off, I had a heart attack and died, and then I was helping out. Ha ha; it’ll suck to be you.” Piper stuck out her tongue childishly and giggled.
Jason glared at her and tugged her long curly ponytail. “Guys, this is my little sister PJ. Off linits.” He flattened the men with a glance.
“Piper. How many times to I have to tell you, my name is PIPER! And who are you to say that I’m off limits? Have you been talking to Dad again? And little sister? I’m almost eighteen!” Piper yelled, advancing on Jason, eyes aflame and cheeks flushing in anger
His eyes widened in surprise at her outburst, but he shrugged it off as her being a woman. “Are you going to start running sometime today? You have thirty minutes. Five miles.” He turned to address the men gathered around. “PJ here,” he emphasized the ‘PJ’,” will do six. You do five miles. If you can’t make at least four miles in thirty minutes, you will be sent home.” He looked around at a few shocked faces. Shrugging, he said,” Coach just wants to have the top athletes, and it helps the Seeker Training if most people are on the same page.”
Piper smirked and commented. “It is more like, our dad is a criminally insane, sadistic hard ass who takes copious pleasure from your pain.”
Jason clipped the bill of her cap and laughed. You better start. He’ll come out soon, and you need to be gone by then.”
Piper led the group of about fifteen or twenty men to the track. She glanced around. Terrible to say, but there were some good looking gents this year. Maybe she could get Jensen to let her do some scrimmaging with these guys.
She got ready and sent the signal to go. Gracefully pulling out in front of the group, she let her mind slip elsewhere.
Her father. Piper was sure he loved her, but why couldn’t she please him? Ever since she didn’t make the House Team, he thought she was worthless. A worthless girl. A distraction. If she were a boy, she wouldn’t of had to take an assumed name, or charm herself to look different, or any of that crap. Her mother thought that as a girl, especially after the episode in third grade, it would be easier on Piper if she was somebody else. Too bad it wasn’t. Piper was ready to be Piper James.
Piper James, daughter of Thomas and Johanna. Kid sister of Jensen and Jason. Piper James: her own person. Not great because of someone else’s accomplishments or her own last name.
After three laps, Piper had already lapped a few guys and decided to indulge. In man-candy time. Yum. There is nothing better than a man with powerful legs, and nice hands. Well, maybe if those attributes were attached to a strong jaw, muscular shoulders, and a great back. Oh, and if he did that thing where he scratched the back of neck in that sexy way. Yes, Piper was very specific in her men. Her current lack of a boyfriend was unsurprising.
Closing in on the beginning of her sixth and final lap, having lapped all but one man, Piper thought about how she was going to remain unseen for the rest of the week. No sense in Wood finding out who she was and blabbing it all over school. Maybe the guy she hadn’t lapped could help. He seemed like a friendly enough chap. His name was Kyle Flanagan and he was twenty years old. He had gone to school in America, but had been born and raised in England. He was as tall as Piper, which brought him to about five foot nine, and red hair and freckles. In her current ‘Piper Prewett’ guise, Piper and Kyle looked ridiculously alike. Almost like twins. He was funny too. Well as funny as you could be whil;e running for twenty seven minutes. He was currently in the middle of some adventure he and his mates had gone on last weekend.
“-and then Rob told him, “No you silly wanker! You are supposed to grab the blue stool not the green one! The green one causes your knob to shrivel up!” He dissolved into raucous laughter and Piper burst into girlish giggles. Not that his story was remotely funny. Might as well let him think he was hysterical. Butter him up.
All thoughts of camaraderie were banished from her mind as the finish marker came into sight. Piper grinned deviously at Kyle. “Race ya? Loser has to do a lap in my shorts outside the warming curtain.”
Kyle nodded. “Deal.” He pulled ahead of Piper a smidge.
Piper smirked. The hell if she would lose. It was bloody cold out, and she suspected that Kyle was hiding a very nice rear in his trousers. She turned on the jets and sprinted past him at a nice clip, finishing the last 30 meters. She turned around jubilantly. Summoning her smallest pair of running shorts, bright orange so they would be noticed, she thought for a minute that she could hear her father yelling at one of her brothers.
Fancy that. Imagine, my dad yelling like a blithering idiot. At least he isn’t yelling at me. Yet.
Kyle changed into the shorts and followed Piper through the entry. Suppressing the urge to shiver at the biting cold whipping her in the face, Piper smiled brightly and smacked Kyle on the butt. “Away ye go! Loser!” Laughing wildly, Piper decided. Yes, Kyle Flanagan has a very nice rear, indeed.
And her father was definitely yelling. And he was pissed. Properly. Making her way towards what would undoubtedly be the morning’s entertainment, she stopped short when she heard her name.
“…PJ can’t help! Dammit Jason, how many times do I have to tell you? She isn’t capable of doing it. She’s a girl for crying out loud!”
Piper crept closer, making sure her father didn’t see her.
“Dad, she is perfectly able. She consistently runs a four forty five mile. Her plays are remarkable. They are.”
He was cut short by Thomas. “I don’t care if she is the Merlin of fucking Quidditch! First and foremost, she’s my daughter, and I won’t have it!”
I thought my mum could be mental sometimes. Oliver stood behind Thomas James, listening to his tirade. Wasn’t 7:30 a little early for family squabbles? Oliver thought it was. Yawning wearily he scratched the back of his neck, frowning. Wishing this ‘PJ’ would hurry up and end this damn argument.
Weaving her way through the outside of the crowd, Piper pulled her hood closer to her face. Picking Wood out of the crowd, relatively close to her manic of a father, she frantically looked around for a way to escape. There was none. Damn.
Garnering what little amount of courage she had, fueled by embarrassment and anger, Piper made a beeline for her rowing father and brother. She stepped in between the two and peered levelly at her dad.
“You bellowed? I don’t think they heard you in Cambodia, Dad. Next time yell louder. You will seem much fiercer.” She pondered that. “If not only crazier.” She smiled brightly, waiting for the onslaught.
Oliver could not believe the cheek of her. What an insolent brat! How dare she insult Thomas James like that! Never mind that he’d been thinking the same thing.
Thomas clenched and unclenched his jaw for a few moments. He spoke through gritted teeth, with barely contained anger. “You listen to me you little snot. I’ll not have you making a mockery out of me.” Leaning closer, he knocked the hood and with it the hat off of her head.
Piper barely had time to glance over his shoulder at Oliver before her dad started up, but when she did, they looked eyes. He knew.
Thomas whispered harshly to her. “I mean it, Piper Elizabeth. If you ruin this Training, I swear I will disown you.”
Piper digested his threat. “You’re gonna let me help?” She stared at him in disbelief.
“Yes, I’d be a fool not to, if you are half as good as both your brothers claim you are.” He straightened and sent a stony glance around the rather large crowd of Seekers and Keepers. “PJ will be helping. If it becomes a problem, I have no problem throwing people out on their sorry asses.” He sent a meaningful look at Piper, who gulped nervously. “Now, boys,” his tone became decidedly less gruff,” let’s go run some drills.”
The crowd started to disperse slowly and he turned back around. “I mean it Piper. You fuck this up, and you are out.” He fingered her red curls and took in her freckles. “And take that ridiculous charm off of you. You look like a two cent hooker. Ruddy red curls.” He stomped away moodily, leaving Piper glued, much like Oliver, in her spot.
She was going to help out and prove herself to her father. Wood knew her biggest secret. Holy freaking cow manure.
Oliver stood unmoving. Piper Prewett was PJ James? How unlikely was that? He couldn’t even fathom picking up one foot to put it in front of the other.
Jason rushed to Piper’s side, offering condolences and apologies. Piper shook him off and pulled out her wand, saying an incantation.
Oliver remained immobile. He watched as the Ginny Weasley look alike transformed into a carbon copy James. Longer legs peeked out at him from short running shorts. She looked taller, probably close to five foot ten. Her hair had gone from deep red curls, to a pin straight mass of blonde. Her skin was no longer freckled, but appeared darker, from time spent outdoors in the sun. Her eyes were still the same, though. Same cerulean blue. She was fit.
It bloody well figures.
Piper looked up at him. “You can’t tell any one.”
He nodded mutely.
AN: Thanks for reading! What did you think? Please leave a review. The next update shouldn’t take as long…depending on the queue. I finished all but two of my dances at work, so I have more free time. And guess who is babysitting on Saturday night? PLEASE REVIEW! Peace Out- Amanda
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