AN: An update! Hark…holy snitch. I know an insane amount of time passed since the last update. Sorry. Wasn’t my fault! I swear! Validation was really long, and then the queue closed. So, yeah. Here it is.
Piper sat at the dinner table, wedged in between Oliver and her mum. Wedged was an appropriate word. There was no more than an inch between Piper and Johanna, and positively no space between Oliver and Piper. Not that she minded. He smelled divine.
“Could there be a few more people at this table tonight?” Johanna accompanied her question with a sharp elbow to Piper’s side that sent her careening into Oliver’s elbow.
Piper rubbed her chest gently. “Ow! Mum, I know I don’t have a lot to abuse, but I’d like to keep what I have got.” She turned to a blushing Oliver. “Are you sure you can’t move over?” She leaned forward to look around him. Seeing the crammed line of men seated there, she cursed. “Well, damn. I mean, I don’t mind sitting close to everyone. But we’d have more room if I sat on your lap.”
Oliver chuckled. “That can be arranged.” He grinned cheekily, biting into a green bean.
“Sorry to rain on your parade, Oliver; but I hardly doubt that would fly here.” Piper paused, thinking about the Dining Room’s occupants who might have an issue with that.
First off, there are all the Training Camp guys. Next is the family. Jason, Mum, Dad, Jensen and his family. Then there is the current Puddlemere team. All crammed into the large, but not large enough, Dining Room. Can you say Maximum Occupancy Violation?
Piper squirmed around a bit, trying uselessly to get more comfy. If only Oliver’s arm wasn’t digging her in the ribs. Not exactly conducive to enjoying one’s meal. She sighed dramatically. “Ruddy stupid Puddy blokes.” Looking towards her mum, she whined. “Did they have to come a night earlier then usual? Bad enough the kids are here.” At her mother’s disappointed glare, Piper rewound. “Not that I begrudge them anything. I’m absolutely over the moon that they are staying with me tonight. Super excited.” She ducked her head back to her plate, tearing off a hunk of bread, and using it to soak up some sauce.
“Smooth.” Oliver’s rich brogue filled her ear. He smirked and shifted in his chair. Looking over at Piper, Oliver took in the flush of her cheeks and the golden highlights that were woven throughout her hair. Remembering the talk he had received from her brothers that morning, he shifted his attention away from her looks. “Have fun shopping?”
Piper brightened considerably. “Oh yeah. In between contemplating poking myself in the eye with my wand and the merits of sleeping while sitting up, I did manage to find an outfit. It’s gorgeous. I love it.” She smiled again. “You want some more gravy?” She plopped a scoop onto his potatoes without waiting for his answer, before continuing her thought. “Excited for tomorrow’s scrimmage? Last bloody one!”
He scratched the back of his neck, almost elbowing the guy next to him. “Sorry mate.” Turning slightly to face her, he grinned. “Yes and no. I’m ready for it to be over, but at the same time, not wanting to be done here. You know?” Oliver sighed wearily, adjusting uselessly in his chair. Eyeing the pie that had appeared on his plate, he grabbed his fork, whacking Piper full in the chest. “Oh shit PJ! I’m so sorry!” His cheeks flushed as Johanna and Jason turned accusatory gazes on him.
Piper coughed and rubbed her chest, trying to wave off his concern. “It’s fine.” She stopped and glared at Jason. “I remember this one time when I was about six…” Piper caught sight of Jason’s irritated glare, and smirked. Leaning closer to Oliver, she continued. “I was playing toilet tag with Jas and his friends, and I ran smack into that wrought iron gate in front of the Training Facility.” She rubbed her chest in remembrance. “Hurt like hell.” Piper tensed slightly. Turning away from Oliver, she locked blue gazes with Jason.
Jason smirked condescendingly at his kid sister. Her confused face battled with the comfortable body language she was exerting. PJ sure looked cozy with Oliver Wood. They made a dashing couple. From where he sat, Jason could barely see a small sliver of space separating the two of them. Wood’s arm slung companionably across the back of her chair, while PJ’s body gravitated towards his. He crooked a brow. There is definitely something there.
“Bloody shame they can’t get together, eh?” Jensen leaned over the head of his three year old son to whisper in Jason’s ear. Jensen had been watching the two of them since Wood found out his sister’s real identity. Wood seemed to be a good enough chap. He was courteous, hard working, and highly dedicated. And he didn’t seem overly enamored of their family. Hell, Jens figured; we could ask for worse to take care of our sister. Like that Flint fuck-wit. Jens grimaced as he remembered the time a couple years back that the Flint’s had shown up to an off-season practice and Jas caught Marcus harassing PJ. Chuckling, he thought of how Flint’s face was never the same.
At the head of the table, Thomas stood up and barked some commands. He turned and strode off to his office, followed by Jason and Johanna. Jensen made to get up, but sat back down at his father’s terse ‘No’.
“Daddy?” A small cherub smiled sweetly at her unassuming father.
“What, Maddie-girl?” Jensen returned the sweet smile, secretly wondering what the little minx wanted, and how she was planning to manipulate her way into receiving whatever it was.
The little minx smiled deviously at her Aunt Piper from across the table. She flicked her blue eyes to the fit young man to her aunt’s left, and grinned larger. Time to stir up some mischief. Maddie sighed, and slid her ‘unassuming’ gaze to her father’s. “Can some of the other boys come to Aunt Pipey’s? I really would feel a great deal better if there were some strong, sensible mans around to protect us.” She shrugged, cocking her head to the side as she finished, causing her precocious statement to come out as more of a question.
Jensen’s brow scrunched together as he tried to deduce what Maddie was playing at. “Like whom?” Since it was still relatively early, Jensen couldn’t really see harm in it. And it would allow him to join the pow-wow that was occurring in Thomas’ office.
Maddie shrugged. “I don’t know…maybe like, Wood and Flanny-Fine Fanny?”
Piper’s loud peals of laughter covered up a very crude curse emitted from Flanny-Fine Fanny. “Maddie, when the pickles did you come up with that name? Freaking hysterical, that’s what that is.”
Maddie preened cheekily under Piper’s attention, plus the attention of the occupants of the Dining Room. She shared a conspirator’s smile with her equally cherubic little brother, then jumped down from her chair. Maddie started towards Piper’s House, and then stopped short. “What’d you say, Pops? Can some of the boys come over?”
Jensen sighed, unconsciously displaying his defeat, and looked at his sister. He shrugged, raising his brows to ask if it was alright. He had a feeling that Piper wouldn’t care…and that Maddie was up to something.
Piper crinkled her brow. “Sure, why not.” She turned to the aforementioned boys. “Hell; the more, the merrier.” Piper grinned cheekily and giggled.
“Sweet Quaffles!” Maddie and Jacob both yelled and pumped overenthusiastic fists into the air in jubilation. Maddie grabbed Oliver’s hand and started dragging him towards the door to Piper’s House. “Last one there’s a rotten egg and gets pink ribbons!”
Piper smirked and waited for Kyle to extract himself from his chair, only to be used as a jungle gym by Jacob. “Chipmunk, get off Flanagan.” She grabbed Kyle’s arm and jogged towards her House. Dismayed by the amount of distance between the door and her little group, Piper Apparated them to her couch. Beating Maddie and Oliver by a couple of seconds.
Maddie’s face flushed in anger. “That’s not fair! Damn cheaters! You can’t use appropriation!” She punctuated her displeasure with a slap to the back of her brother’s head.
Oliver grabbed her hand to stop the assault and shook his head. “Young lass’ shouldn’t hit their brothers. Or curse. It isn’t ladylike.” He sent her a pointed look and then smiled.
Said young lass snorted haughtily. “Auntie Pipey’s not ‘ladylike’, but you lot seem to like her enough. Bloody appropriation.” She muttered a few more unladylike words before someone stopped her.
“Maddie,” Piper’s stern voice shocked the small girl into silence. “Do not curse. Or I’ll send the boys away.” Piper flicked on the telly and plopped back onto her couch. “And it is ‘bloody apparation’, love. Not appropriation. That means the acquisition of something, usually funds or something like that.” Piper stopped rambling at the horrified look on Flanny-Fine Fanny’s face. “What?”
He trembled. “Did you know that you sounded just like a freaking dictionary right then? Bloody scary.”
Piper chuckled and nudged his shoulder with hers, realizing for the first time how close they were. “Bugger off. Silly boy.” Piper rolled her shoulder’s and moved over a little bit. “I’ve got to have something to show for all that time spent in the library with Percy.”
Across the room, Oliver stood somewhat shell-shocked. Piper sat ten feet away from him, flirting with that Seeking sod, while he held her five-year-old niece’s hand. Bloody Hell. Her hair fell across her face; Flanagan pushed it aside. He whispered in her ear; she blushed, and then giggled.
“Oliver! You are crunching my fingers,” Maddie squeaked quietly. When he let go, she wiggled the feeling back into them, observing the incinerating glare he was sending Flanny-Fine Fanny. Perfect. Maddie smirked. This would be easy.
Oliver apologized profusely, if not a little distractedly. He shook his head. Probably not the best impact to make on the family. That would be a fun conversation to have. ‘Yes, Coach, I would love to be on your team…but I crushed your only granddaughter’s hand. Sorry mate.’ Snorting, he turned his attention to the blonde child next to him. “So why’d you want some ‘manly mans’ here? You could scare anyone away by cursing them out.” Oliver smoothed a hand over her soft curls.
Maddie shrugged. “Just thought you lot would be better entertainment than my little brother.” She paused, smiling cheekily up at him. “I imagine that you will be. Your jealous glares are about scorching me. Hahaha!” She giggled and scampered away to the couch.
Leaving Oliver slack-jawed across the room. Did he actually act that way? He scratched the back of his neck as he pondered that. Screw crushing Maddie’s fingers; jonesing for Piper James definitely would keep him off the team.
“Flanagan! Get your ruddy arse out here!” Jason’s very loud yell caught everyone in the room off guard. Maddie and Jacob screeched, and everybody else jumped. Kyle winked at Piper and Maddie and tossed a casual wave over his shoulder before jetting out of the room.
A small voice spoke up. “Owiber…will you sit by me?” Jacob had slid off the front of the couch, and patted the floor next to him.
Oliver smiled. “Sure kiddo.” He walked over and sat next to the young boy. As far away from Piper’s long legs as he could get without looking like he was avoiding her.
Maddie grinned devilishly. Taking a running start, she leapt over Oliver’s head, landing behind him with a resounding thud. “You get pink ribbons!” Threading her fingers through Oliver’s hair, she turned to Piper. “You’ll fix my hair good, right?”
Piper nodded and smiled, Summoning a comb and some pink ribbons. Laughing conspiratorially, she gave a few ribbons to Maddie and told her, “Lay on, young’un.”
Oliver cleared his throat nervously. “What are you going to do?” In the wake of her silence, he croaked out her name. “Maddie?”
She smiled sardonically. “Hmmm?” Brushing her fingers through his hair, she twirled some of the strands around her finger, planning her future masterpiece.
“What are you going to do to me?” Oliver gulped. One time he let Ginny Weasley get ahold of his hair. Hot pink curls cascading over his shoulders. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
Piper snorted at Oliver’s worried tone. “Scared, Wood?”
He bristled. “Hell no.” Softer, he added. “A smidge worried.” Visions of hot pink curls flashed through his mind.
Maddie patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry, you lovely boy. I’ll take good care of you, lovely.” She cackled manically as she rubbed her hands together.
Oliver’s shoulders relaxed as Maddie ruffled his hair. He chuckled as little Jacob got up and bounced around to his favorite theme song. Some rot about being born and raised in West Philadelphia.
After a couple of minutes of silence, Piper sniggered. “Nice.” She incorporated a baby pink ribbon into a small braid. Peeking down at Oliver’s head, Piper chuckled again. Pink was not Oliver Wood’s color. Though he did look rather endearing, sitting there with Jacob sitting in between his legs, spiking up Jacob’s hair. Piper snorted, waving off the concerned gaze Oliver sent her way. Endearing? That’s bloody fantastic! She shook her head wearily. You can not like Oliver Wood like that! Friends; that’s fine. Anything more than that; not acceptable. Any sort of feelings for him could jeopardize his place within the Puddlemere Organization, and erase any of the progress Piper and her father had made over the last few days. Damn.
Oliver nudged Piper’s calf with his elbow. “Hey PJ?”
She raised a brow. Smiling at her nephew, she chuckled. “Is he asleep?”
Oliver nodded. “Yeah…where do you want him?” He stood deftly, cradling the small boy gently. Oliver waited until Piper was standing and followed her to a large bedroom.
Piper smiled and pulled the comforter down. “He can sleep here.” She looked around the room. “I think I’ll add another bed and put both the kids here.” Pushing her long hair out of her eyes, Piper blew out her breath. Locking eyes with Oliver, she gestured towards the bed and smiled.
Oliver laid down Jacob, smoothing an errant curl away from his brow. He straightened and looked around awkwardly. “Night?” He tipped his head and sauntered to his room
Piper walked back out to her sitting room, dropping down to the couch. Turning to her niece, she told her, “Boys are rubbish.”
Maddie tilted her head, reminding Piper of a terrier. “Since when? I think Wood is swell.” She grinned cheekily, jumping up from the couch. She changed the topic. “Can I stay in your room tonight?”
Piper chuckled. “Since today, I absolutely agree, and no. Up to bed with you!” She ruffled the little girl’s curls and took her hand, leading her off to bed.
Piper awoke to a case of seasickness. Rubbing her hand across her forehead, she groaned. What the ruddy hell was going on? Piper lay there a couple minutes. Then she heard it.
“Shh! Auntie Pipey will be so mad if we wake her up.” Silence reverberated throughout the room.
SMACK! A loud slap sounded next to Piper’s head.
“Holy Snitch! What the bleeding hell was that?” Piper shot straight up in bed and narrowed her eyes at the two culprits.
“Aunt Pipey! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!” The kids jumped a bit more until Piper raised a hand.
“That has been more than enough jumping kiddies.” She rolled over to check the time. “I am completely nauseous.” Piper patted each child lovingly on the head and stretched out pleasantly. “Thanks for the birthday wishes! Ready for a rollicking good time?” At the kid’s nods and her bladder’s insistence, Piper climbed from beneath her covers and sauntered off to the loo.
Twenty-five minutes later, Piper scrambled down the stairs, pulling her red jumper over her head and cursing. Damn clock. Damn comfortable bed. Pillows. Perfect. Shaking her head to clear out the last dregs of sleep and comfort, she caught sight of Oliver and her brothers, and pushed her legs faster.
“PJ! How come this year you are almost late to everything? It really isn’t like you.” Jas stopped lecturing long enough to crook an eyebrow at her unladylike trip. And the subsequent face-plant.
She glared at him as she took the hand Jens offered and brushed off her knee. “I’m not late. Dammit.” Piper arched a brow and scooted to stand closer to Oliver. “Whose team are you on?”
He grinned. “Yours. Jens and Jas talked your dad into putting us on the same team, along with Seidel, Johnson, Marcou…bunch of other chaps I don’t remember.”
Jas cleared his throat pointedly. Jens sniggered. Piper raised an eyebrow.
For some unseen reason, her brothers broke out in laughter. Giving them an odd look, Piper grabbed Oliver’s elbow and dragged him towards the Scrimmage Field. She smiled at him cheerfully. “Ready to kick some arse?” She took in his grin and laughed. Mounting her broom and pushing off, she spoke again. “Let’s go show my dad why he brought you here!”
During a break two hours later, Piper sat atop her broom and looked out over the Pitch. Her team was kicking arse. Neither Flanagan nor Jas had found the Snitch yet. Which was totally alright with her. Piper’s fellow Chaser, a young Frenchman named James Marcou, made for a perfect partner. He had skills. Raw power, speed, agility, and a keen sight, he was a perfect counterpart to Piper’s own dead on aim and endless endurance. The Beaters, a couple of German blokes, belted the Bludger at anyone who came near.
Then there was Wood. Piper shivered and mentally patted herself on the back. Coach would have never known about him if she had made the House team. He was…in a word, magnificent. A veritable Brick Wall. Any shot you could think of, he was there. Completely unyielding. Dad would have to be an utter half-wit to not invite Oliver to real try-outs, or immediately offer him a place within the Puddy Organization.
A loud whistle sounded, drawing the break to a close. Alright boys, Piper thought. I’m ready to kick some arse. She turned quick, scoping the Pitch for Marcou. Jetting away from an oncoming Bludger, Piper rammed into Masterson, a Polish Chaser. “Shove off, dammit!” She threw a little bit of elbow action his way.
Piper cursed, and rolled her eyes. You’ve got to be kidding me. She took a hard right and flew down to the ref, intent on giving him a piece of her mind. She was beat there by an irate Oliver.
“What the bloody hell are you talking about? That is the worst call I’ve ever seen!” He turned furious eyes on Piper, calming a bit. “Can you believe this loser? That wasn’t cobbing!” Turning back to the ref, a current Puddy Beater, he snorted. “Are you blind?”
Piper chortled. “Roderick Jenkins. Ribs feeling better?” She smirked at the tall blond man. During Summer Training, Piper and Roderick had a rather spectacular collision that resulted in some brutally cracked ribs for Roddy. Poor chap.
Roddy smirked. “No thanks to you, you cheeky little twit.” He laughed along with Piper, slinging a companionable arm over her shoulders.
Piper grinned. “Good, then you won’t mind if I demonstrate some good Cobbing?” She threw a hard elbow right into the barmy bastard’s ribs, causing him to double over and gasp for air.
Oliver stared at Piper in awe. She had just walloped one of the greatest Beaters in the English Quidditch League!
Roddy waved her off. “Alright, Killer. Get up there, and watch the elbows.” He grinned roguishly. “They are a lot less spindly looking since I last saw them.”
Piper cuffed him and sauntered away a bit. “Smarmy sod.” She turned to Oliver. “Thanks for disputing the call.” She leaned in close and mounted her broom. “He’s just miffed because I ran into him at Summer Training, and wouldn’t help him mend his wounds.” She kicked off the ground. “He’s a goob.”
Oliver chuckled. “A goob, huh?” He shook his head as he flew back to his posts. PJ James was one of a kind.
Thirty-five minutes later, Piper cursed rather crudely. Stupid Jas…stupid brother. He just had to catch the damn Snitch. Jerk. She scowled fiercely as she was joined by Oliver. “Damn James boys. Bloody punks!” Piper blew out a harsh breath. “Piss.”
Oliver nudged his broom with hers. “You alright?” They started to descend, chatting the whole way down. “I mean, it sucks to lose. Ruddy sucks. But everyone has to lose. Even the greatest lose from time to time.” He ran a hand through his hair. Scowling, he dismounted and started towards the House. “I feel even worse than before I talked to you.”
Piper chuckled and nudged his shoulder. “You’re right. I lose every once in awhile.” She sighed. “Tragic, but true.” They both chuckled.
“PIPER ELIZABETH JAMES!”
She crooked a brow and wheeled around to see her father waving around a black notebook. Is that my notebook? She sent Oliver a long-suffering look and jogged towards her dad, who had disappeared into his office. She skidded to a stop in front of her father’s desk. “Where’d you get that?” Her tone was indifferent; the look on her face; anything but.
Thomas trained his ‘piss in your pants’ look on her. “Is this yours? Jens gave it to me to look at.” He flipped through the back of the book. “Is it?”
Piper scratched her nose. Looking around, she decided that nothing would probably come from admitting that it was hers. “Yeah. That’s my Private Playbook.” She hardened her gaze. “Why?” She mentally prepared herself for the swift and painful rejection that was sure to come.
“It’s bloody mind-blowing!” He looked at Piper; his blue eyes alight with pride. “I had no idea that you could make this kind of stuff. It’s amazing, PJ. You’re like a ruddy Quidditch genius.” He smiled, pausing to place a fatherly hand on top of hers. “I’m so proud of you Piper.”
Piper wiped at her treacherous eyes before they could tear up. “You’re joking, right?”
He stood up, and was joined by his assistant coaches. All but one. “No, PJ. I’m not joking.” He looked at his associates, nodding at them. “I know that you know that Dalton Monty has retired.” He gave her a solemn look. How would you like to be the new offensive coordinator for Puddlemere?” He gestured to everyone behind him. “We’d be honored to have you, PJ. I’d like to have you play Chaser, but we are pretty solid in that particular position, throughout all the reserves and everything.”
“What?!” Piper’s jaw lay on her chest. “Are you lot for real?”
“You didn’t just forget that it was my birthday?” What the bloody hell was going on?
“No. PJ, we want you here. What do you say?” He put the playbook down on the table.
“Of course! That’d be spectacular!” She kissed him on the cheek and bounded off to her room, excited to tell Oliver her good luck.
She stopped cold. I can’t bleeding tell him. It’s going to be hard enough being just friends with him at school. She sighed. I guess it will be my little secret.
Maddie bounded into the Sitting Room, excited as all get out. “It’s your birthday, it’s your birthday! And you are going to be the boss of all the O-line for Puddy! Heck Yes!” She giggled and settled down. Taking in Piper’s dejected look, she asked what was wrong.
Piper sighed. “Life’s a damn pickle sometimes, Cupcake.”
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