Chapter 3 : Unexpected Happenings
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Fenwicke looked down at his own dinner sadly. Their food had arrived a quarter hour ago, but as Oliver had been in the midst of a big, energizing pep speech, nobody had dared to interrupt him over so trivial a matter. “Oi, is he done yet?” he grumbled.
“Well, at least he’s passionate about something,” Roger whispered back out of the corner of his mouth, hoping that his captain wouldn’t notice.
“I’m passionate too—about food. Merlin’s beard, I’m starving.”
“Nobody’s keeping you from eating,” pointed out Mockridge snidely.
“Benji, don’t tempt me. You know I’m too well—” began Fenwicke, but exactly what he was too well of they never found out because Oliver rounded on them.
“Oi! You three think that this doesn’t concern you? Are you, or are you not, a part of this team?" Oliver paused, draining his glass of wine then motioning for a refill. “Yes? Well then, I’ve got news for you. This is damn important, and it would do you some good to pay attention.”
Seeing Fenwicke about to retort, Hipshook pressed his lips together and shook his head vehemently.
Oliver indicated the pie chart and rather extensive diagrams behind him. “As it were, despite the fact that we did not make the League Finals last year, we managed to do passably well and as a result we’ve been seeded in relatively late this year. Because our first official game is still a ways off, I’ve organized an exhibition match for next week. Behind me are some new plays that I believe we should try out in the meantime.”
Cody banged her head on the table a few times. As if it weren’t already bad enough that she was seated to the right of Oliver (who was at the head of the table), now he was lecturing them endlessly; it was approaching quarter to eight now and she was starving.
“Oh, shut it already,” she muttered, none too quietly either.
Oliver froze. “Excuse me?”
Cody’s head shot up. “Oh, crap. Did I just say that out loud?” she mused.
Oliver raised an eyebrow at her, annoyed, while the rest of the team minus Demelza (who still looked slightly terrified) shot each other amused grins. “Yes, you did.”
Cody laughed nervously. “Well… not that I don’t share your enthusiasm for tedious, prolonged, and also repetitive speeches, but man, right now? I’m so hungry.”
Oliver’s stomach (the traitor!) chose that moment to growl monstrously. He looked down at everyone’s food sheepishly. “Right you are. Sorry, everyone, feel free to dig in.” As everyone exhaled in relief and tore ravenously into their dinners, Oliver looked at Hipshook for confirmation before beginning with, “Hipshook and I have discussed this, and—”
“Oliver, dear,” cut in Georgia tiredly, “do sit down and have some dinner.”
As he was a good head and a half shorter, Hipshook had to stand up on his chair in order to reach Oliver’s shoulder and push him affectionately into his seat.
“In order to function better as a unit, I propose that over the next little while we partake in some team building exercises—beginning tonight. Get to know your team mates a little better over dinner, especially Cody and Demelza.” Hipshook raised his glass. “To a great season.” The rest of the team echoed him and drank.
To Cody’s chagrin, as the team broke off into smaller conversations, she found herself engaged with Oliver Wood and Gordon Hipshook, who sat across from her. Fortunately Georgia Schulyer sat on her other side.
“Cody, darling, tell us a little about yourself,” said Georgia, genuinely curious.
“You didn’t go to Hogwarts, did you?” asked Oliver, not remembering her.
“No. No, I went to Dilloarmo—it’s a magical school in Canada with a heavy emphasis on Muggle Studies as well as stronger magic.”
“Really?” asked Oliver, truly interested now. “How come?”
Cody took her time chewing before finally swallowing. “My maternal grandmother was a Squib, so she lived like a Muggle, for the most part. She thought that I would benefit from getting a deeper understanding of what it would be like to not have magic, all the while learning some of the stronger stuff.” Cody took a swig of her wine, a little uncomfortable. “My mother went there. It’s a great school, really. I learned loads.”
“So did you have to do some things manually, sans magic?” asked Georgia.
“Yeah, at times.”
“Oh, wow. I can’t imagine living without magic,” said Georgia.
“I can,” said Oliver cockily. “Muggles have it easy,” he claimed, spearing a lush pea with his fork and waving it around as he spoke. “What with cars and electricity—”
Cody snorted loudly. “Yeah. Right. I bet you couldn’t even last a day without magic.” At this the room had gone silent as all team members abruptly broke off their own conversations and turned to hear Oliver’s reply.
“I bet I could. Twenty-four hours of no magic would be easy.”
Hipshook looked at him, a bemused spark twinkling in his eye. “I may just take you up on that, Mr. Wood,” he said mysteriously.
“Ooh,” whistled Mockridge gleefully. “Wood, you’d better watch your back!”
“Hipshook’s scheming,” chimed in Fenwicke deviously. “What’re you planning, old man?”
Hipshook merely shook his head and laughed. “You’ll find out soon enough.” He frowned. “I’m no old man, young’un!”
The night air felt deliciously cool and refreshing on Cody’s face as the team ambled outside onto the side walk. Mellow from dinner and good wine, they reluctantly bade each other goodbye. Cody personally felt much better now, after having bonded, especially with Georgia. The older woman had a bit of a maternal air, despite her misleading appearance.
Soon, only Cody, Oliver, Georgia and Hipshook remained outside of House of Mouse. “Well, I’m off as well; I’ve got a meeting with the League officials tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll get the final details of the exhibition match sorted out,” said Hipshook. He paused. “Cody, are you going to be able to get home okay?”
Cody waved his concerns away. “Oh yeah, sure. I’ll just apparate and—”
“You don’t live within River Piddle limits, do you?” asked Oliver, his eyes bulging slightly.
“No…” Cody smacked herself. “Oh crap. The anti-apparation charms; I totally forgot.”
Oliver looked at his watch. “It’s quarter to twelve,” he grumbled. “I’ll hail you a cab.”
“Er,” began Cody sheepishly. “I don’t have any muggle money on me.” A quick survey revealed that nor did Hipshook or Georgia.
Oliver groaned in frustration. “Well… about how far away do you live, anyway?”
“We’re on the outskirts of River Piddle already, right? Not much… only about a half hour’s brisk walk. Give or take a little.”
Oliver sighed tiredly. Hipshook wouldn’t be able to accompany her, due to his meeting the next day. “Georgia,” he said tentatively. “Perhaps you could escort Cody—”
“Escort? I can get home on my own just fine, thanks very much!” exclaimed Cody indignantly.
“I will not have my Seeker taking such a trivial risk! Who knows who—or what—is out there to threaten Puddlemere’s chances?”
“Sorry, Captain,” said Georgia apologetically. “But no can do. A lady’s got to get her beauty rest, you know.” She indicated herself. “Looking this good doesn’t just happen,” she winked.
“Alright, alright, I’ll walk you home myself,” grumbled Oliver.
“Honestly, that’s just not necessary,” protested Cody.
Georgia grabbed her arm. “It’s alright, kiddo. Oliver here was raised old-fashioned.” She tapped the side of her nose conspiratorially. “I’m sure he’ll be on his best behaviour; no ulterior motives.”
“Really,” Cody tried again, “it’s just not necessary. I’m a fully capable witch.”
“I’m sure you are,” said Oliver agreeablely, “but it’s only been a year since the Battle of Hogwarts,” he paused, choking up slightly. “And it’s still quite dangerous right now. Frankly, the team just can’t take that sort of risk right now.”
“Wood,” Cody said. “You’re only my Quidditch captain, really, I can take care of myself perfectly fine, so you don’t need to feel obligated—”
“I don’t. I want to.”
Seeing her reluctant expression, Georgia laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Cody, just stop being so stubborn so that we can all go home already.”
And so, the moon shone brightly in the sky, casting an uncanny glow over everything as Oliver and Cody found themselves walking along, silent but for the crickets chirping in the grass. A slight breeze blew through, creating just enough of a chill for the air to feel crisp and fresh.
“Sorry,” Cody mumbled, as their hands brushed accidentally yet again because their arms swung out of sync.
Another few seconds passed as each chose to simply enjoy the night. There seemed to be a crackling energy in the air, fully charged and raging to strike.
An unexpected crash resounded from the right. Cody jerked nervously, instinctively grabbing Oliver’s arm as she let out a little squeak, her other hand grasping her wand. A lone black cat strutted right in front of her brandished wand, looking at her cockily.
Scowling, Cody replaced her wand and released Oliver’s arm as he burst into peals of mirthful laughter.
When he finally settled down, Oliver had an impish look on his face. “So, you know how much a Hungarian Horntail weighs?”
“No. How much?”
“Enough to break the ice!” he chuckled a little. “But seriously, do tell me about yourself. I’m curious—our conversation had been interrupted. Why did you come back from Canada?”
Cody hesitated. “To continue my education,” she said finally, deciding that that was probably a pretty safe answer. “What about you? How did you get started at Puddlemere U?”
Oliver grinned. “We can’t all catch lucky breaks like you. I was scouted, back at Hogwarts. Seventh year, we, as in Gryffindor, won the Quidditch Cup. I was reserve Keeper for Puddlemere but because of how simply spectacular I am,” here he put on a pompous air to show that he was merely kidding, “I was soon promoted.” A pause. “And recently, I made Captain. An impressive feat, hmm?”
They passed an elderly couple, also out for a late night stroll.
“Hello,” murmured Cody.
“Out for a walk?” asked the older gentleman kindly.
“It’s a beautiful night,” said Oliver amicably.
The elderly lady frowned slightly. “You kids better hurry home—a storm is on the way.”
Cody and Oliver nodded, although both felt highly sceptical. Wrongly believing that the two were out of earshot, the elderly couple continued discussion of them.
“Such a cute couple. They do seem a bit young though.”
“I swear, Betty, they’re getting younger by the day.”
Cody turned angrily, sputtering to correct them, but Oliver looped an arm around her. “Let it go, Wronski. A simple mistake.”
“We’re not—that was a wrong assumption…”
“Muggles, probably. Just be glad they didn’t recognize us. Besides, don’t eavesdrop.”
Suddenly, it seemed as if the sky opened up and began pouring its sustenance upon them. Cool drops of water drifted down from the sky, splashing against the ground and bouncing back up again, just a little. Puddles began to form on the uneven ground.
Cody let out an exhilarated squeal, while Oliver laughed beside her. “Old hag was right, after all.”
The rain hardened, coming down in bigger torrents, drenching the two. A deafening crack of thunder slashed through the night, overpowering the swooshing and clicking of the rain.
Cody grabbed Oliver’s arm. “Come on!” and the two ran towards Cody’s flat, both aware that lightning could be well on its way.
Thoroughly drenched, the pair reached Cody’s flat in record time, their clothes clinging to their skin, hair plastered against their faces. A slight mist rose up from the ground, and a tongue of lightning lit up the sky just as they stepped inside.
Neither completely sober, they couldn’t help but let out a few laughs at their late night adventure. Cody sombered up first. “You can’t apparate home, can you?”
“No. But if your Floo—”
Cody looked sheepish again. “I’ve been meaning to refill my Floo powder, but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet.” She looked around. “My couch is really spacious; if you don’t mind the slightly cramped quarters, you could spend the night here.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
“Wood, I feel bad enough as it is, first having you walk me home and then getting you soaked in that storm… let me just play gracious host a bit.”
“You’re Captain of Muddle—I mean, Puddlemere United; I’m pretty sure they’ve run rather comprehensive background checks.” Another huge strike of lightning flashed through the night sky, accompanied by a large crack of thunder. “It’s just one night; and we get the entire day off tomorrow…”
Hesitantly Oliver looked out the window. She was right, of course. He’d be absolutely crazy to try to get home in this. “Alright… thanks for the offer.”
“Great!” Cody smiled brightly. “Come on in; let’s get out of these soaking wet clothes first.”
It was going to be an interesting night.
End Note: I hope it's not moving too fast, and that their actions were credible. As always, feedback would be really helpful; what you liked/disliked, etc.
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