“You know we have to talk to him, right?” George, stretching his right arm across his body, muttered grumpily in Fred’s general direction.
Twisting from side to side, Fred nodded. “Yeah. But I thought they didn’t care one way or another about each other.” He rolled his shoulders a few times, pondering. “Actually; I thought PJ was not a member of the ‘OWFC.” Turning a perplexed gaze to his brother, Fred shrugged.
George sent Fred the same puzzled look. “What the bleeding hell is ‘Ow-fuck’?”
Fred snorted. “The Oliver Wood Fan Club.” Laughing loudly, he leaned to the right, starting laps. “I was just sounding out the acronym. You bloody blockhead.”
“I’m a blockhead? You’re an idiot.” George sped up, setting the pace slightly faster. “And where did you learn the correct use of the word acronym?”
At Oliver’s whistle, Fred leaned forward over his broom; coaxing it faster, catching up with George. “I’m not a complete idiot.” Sending his brother a cheeky smirk, he suddenly swooped left, catching George off guard.
George’s shout of ‘prat’ was lost in the wind as he raced off after his brother.
Meal times at Hogwarts were interesting, to say the least. The same kids sat in the same places almost every meal, every day, every year. Almost anything could happen; but the table remained the same. Take the Gryffindor table. The Wonder Trio could usually be found whispering together, occasionally including dorm mates, or family members in Ron’s case. The gossipy girls sat in clumps, depending on their proximity to their collective fancy. The studious kids, the few of them there are, all sat at the head of the table. Fairly spread out, you know. They can’t research and obsess over homework if they didn’t have room! The Quidditch team tended to sit with each other all the time. Unless the blokes had pissed off the girls. Because chaps tend to do that. If Oliver Wood was in one of his ‘crazed’ moods; on the warpath, the rest of the team scattered like sand in a wind storm. He’d then have to barrel over to Percy, or a random girl.
Unlike today. Today Oliver sat next to Fred, directly across from George. His location itself wasn’t what arose Piper’s suspicions; rather, the looks upon their faces definitely did. George, who rarely mustered anything but amusement and mischievousness, sat rigidly on the bench; an intense set to his hazel eyes. Hazel eyes that were currently drilling beams into Oliver’s guarded brown ones. Crooking her brow and making a mental note to look into that later, Piper turned her attention to her potatoes and the comment that had been eating at her sleep deprived brain all morning.
“…and you can go back to being a snobby cow.”
Piper would never admit to anyone how much that had hurt her feelings; not George, not Percy. Hell, not even Jens or Bompski. Usually, she didn’t care what people thought about her, but since Oliver and George had both alluded to the same thing, it was getting to her. Am I really a snob? I have friends. She looked at the empty spaces around her. Sensing someone’s gaze, she smiled hesitantly at the frightened look one of her dorm mates sent her. What the bleeding hell is her name? Sara? Penny? Jas? I’ve only lived with her for the past six years. Scowling darkly, Piper finished her potatoes, and peered around at the spread before her. What for dessert? No lemon cupcakes, so…pudding! Helping herself to some pudding, she tucked in quietly, only looking up when the flapping of wings alerted her to the presence of her weekly owl from Brooks Groves.
Groves’ official title was the Head of Player Recruitment for Puddlemere United. He basically was the Head Scout. Like clockwork, every Friday, Brooks sent all the scouts ‘The Sheets.’ Or as Piper was wont to call them; ‘The Cheats‘. These documents were a compilation of scouting reports and rumors from around the European League and the World. Since it was the winter before the World Cup, there were a few ‘practical’ warnings and comments from both QUABBLE (Quidditch Union for the Administration and Betterment of the British League and its Endeavors) and the International Association of Quidditch. Which was quite a big deal.
Tapping the parchment twice to unlock them, she glanced around one more time; just to make sure no one was spying. Sighing in disgust at her actions; cos really, who’d be watching, Piper settled in for the long haul. Skimming through the first page, a couple new regulations popped out at her. A brief mention of the officiating crew for the World Cup caught her eye; a bogus rumor about Viktor Krum joining Puddy caused her to laugh into her pumpkin juice. Some drivel about a couple Peruvians, a Frenchman named Louis. A rather interesting breakdown of the drama going down in the Grodzisk Goblin’s locker room, caused by a feud between Brunon Zamoyski and Boleslaw Zielinski over the star beater’s wife. Athletes gossiped worse than old women; one snippet uttered in the tunnel before a game could be around the league by your teams’ next practice. Piper read on, so engrossed in the Cheats that she missed Percy’s hastily muttered goodbye and the pointed looks from the twins. Shifting to her left to relieve the tension in her right hip, she reached for another biscuit; only to grasp thin air. Perplexed, Piper snapped her head up and finally looked around.
“Don’t you have class now, Piper?” Professor Lupin asked with a gentle grin. He strolled down the aisle in between the tables to stop in front of Piper, the afternoon sun casting a dull light over his face.
Still perturbed that the chocolate biscuits had disappeared, Piper furrowed her brow, and grunted.
“I’m sorry. Was that English?” Lupin’s sarcastic drawl brought a glimmer of an impish grin to Piper’s face.
“No, Professor. It’s my free hour; so I’m just catching up on some business.” She shrugged and gestured noncommittally to the piles of parchment occupying the table in front of her. She hated being slightly rude to her favorite teacher, but the whole no sleep thing was really catching up with her.
Lupin scratched his chin and looked down the length of the table. “Rumor has it the choir is going to use the Great Hall for rehearsal right now.” He nodded at Piper’s disbelieving look. “If you don’t want to be bothered, you can use my office for a bit to work.”
“Really?” Lupin was gaining quite an edge over the other teachers in the favorite race. Gathering up her materials, she started walking toward the exit before turning a wary eye on him. “Why?”
He steered her down the corridor that led to his office, a peculiar look on his face. Like he knew something she didn’t. Muttering the incantation to unlock the door, he held the door open for her before answering her question. Grabbing a mug off the large desk by the wall of windows, he smiled. “Because; we all have our secrets Miss James.” Chuckling quietly at her shocked face, he sauntered out the door and towards his classroom.
Tamping down the profanity laced panic attack that was swelling to come out, Piper ran a hand through her hair. Staring at the door that he left through, she spoke out loud. “It’s alright if he knows, PJ. Who’s Lupin going to tell? All the other teachers already know. And it’s not like he’s going to discuss it with Sirius Black over tea.” She nodded at the door. “Right?” Not getting a response, she sighed. “Right.” The clock on the wall chimed the hour and she settled into the comfy looking chair behind the desk, ready for more information.
Turning the page, she stopped when she saw the Puddlemere bulrushes. Some rot about unnamed Americans, followed by a thorough dissection of Oliver Wood. His playing strengths, the flaws. A few comments about his home and social life. Rereading the paragraph Piper compared the scouting report to what she had seen and knew so far. Good rudimentary skills. Fancy way of saying he could kick off theground neatly and fly rather well. Nice quick hands. Always a good quality to have in a Keeper. Great vision. He did have pretty eyes. Erm…and excellent vision of the Pitch;he always knew where everyone was during a game. Highly motivated. Some would call it obsession, but Oliver’s devotion to the game and high level of motivation was what set him apart from others and would get him a second look come graduation. From the whole League. Seventh year Gryffindor at Hogwart’s. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Piper skipped ahead; not wanting to go into an Oliver induced fantasy.
Offensive line coordinator for Puddlemere has yet to be filled. Candidates/applicants range from Graham Plumpton, Asst. Coach for the Haileybury Hammers; to Head Coach James’ own daughter, Pepper.
“Really? Really?” Piper asked the empty room, lowering the sheet of parchment in front of her. Chuckling at people’s stupidity, she added the last paper to the pile; searching for a quill on Lupin’s desk. After penning a quick response to Brooks, she rubbed her tired eyes and packed up her gear, ready for Charms.
“I say yes.”
“Sod off, George.” Fred rolled his eyes in exasperation. “We are not doing that.”
“Why?” George stopped drawing on his Transfiguration essay long enough to turn to his brother. “Give me one good reason we can’t give them a gentle nudge.” All morning long George had been entertaining the thought of playing matchmaker for his favorite cousin. Matchmaking was a manly business, after all. One had to be wily, perceptive-
“Uncle Tom would have our arses on a platter.”
Oh, hadn’t thought of that. Eyes glittering mischievously, George smirked. “Like that would stop me.” At Fred’s highly incredulous look, he stuttered. “Well, it- it might.” He scowled and huffed indignantly. Mulling it over, he grinned. “Any other reasons? Coach is only one person, well counting her brothers, that’s three; but I can work with that.” Hopefully.
“She’s the only girl I’ve ever met who knows as much, if not more than Wood, about Quidditch. They would be unbearable together.” Fred shuddered. “Could you imagine? He’d be a bigger pain in the arse than he already is.”
George stopped him there. “I think you are wrong there. Sure, she is just as mental about Quidditch, but I think she would mellow him out a little bit.”
“Well, I don’t quite know, but would it hurt for either one of them to enjoy themselves a little more during their last couple months at Hogwart’s?”
Fred scratched the side on his nose. “I don’t suppose it would.”
Smiling satisfactorily, George started twirling his quill between his fingers. “We’ll start at lunch. A little Weasley muscle to push things along.”
“I really need to talk to someone, Fred.” Oliver fixed him with a stern look and tried again in vain, to step out from underneath Fred’s long arm.
Fred grinned. “Nope. We,” he stated, locking eyes with his twin who was already seated at the long table, “need to talk to you more.” He gestured to the bench. “Sit.”
Oliver glared at the twins, unused to being bossed around. “No.” He glanced towards the doors to the Great Hall, looking for Piper. “I have a question for Piper.”
“Piper?” George’s tone was not friendly. “Sit down Oliver.” His hazel eyes hardened when his command wasn’t followed. “Now.”
Warily, Oliver sat down, looking cautiously from George to Fred, then back at George again. What the bleeding hell is going on? Feeling uncomfortable with the intensity of George’s gaze, Oliver mustered up his best guarded expression and prepared for the worse.
“So, Wood…you know PJ?” Fred casually opened the conversation, casting a flirtatious wink down the table towards Angelina Johnson.
After muttering a harsh ‘idiot’ under his breath, George grunted. “Don’t answer that. I know you know her.” Watching Oliver swallow somewhat guiltily, he took a drink. Wiping the juice from his lip, he went on. “Do you like her?”
“Sure. She’s nice. Smart.” Witty. Fit.
“Bollocks.” George cut him off with a glare. He bit into some fried chicken and wiped the grease off his mouth. Smirking mischievously, he looked at Fred and then back at Oliver. “You fancy her.”
Choking on his Pumpkin juice, Oliver hastily sucked in copious amounts of air. “Piper Prewett?” He flushed quickly; trying to school his features into some sort of nonchalance. “Not bleeding likely.”
George chortled heartily. “I think it’s very likely, eh Fred?”
Said twin grinned. “If you’re talking about PJ James; I’d have to agree.” Fred stopped and bit into a hunk of bread. “Though, I don’t know why’d you want to.” He shuddered, and sent a sobering look to Oliver. “She’s bloody mental. Completely nutters.”
George grit his teeth and glared at his brother. “Bugger off, Fred. If you are not behind me and Operation OJ; go wave your wand elsewhere.”
Fred laughed, then stood. “Do whatever it is you want, alright?” He nodded to Oliver, then sauntered down the aisle, slinging an arm around Angelina before making his way out of the Great Hall.
“Went to Winter Camp, yeah?” George turned his scowl from Fred’s retreating form to his captain. When he was met with a telling silence, he soldiered on. “Don’t worry, Wood; no one else knows. Well, maybe Perce…but since he’s rather anti-social; you need not worry. I won’t tell.”
Oliver blinked and cautiously looked around. “You won’t? For real?”
“Swear on Fred’s freckly arse.” Grimacing at the mental image, he picked some pudding out of the lineup. Scooping far too much pudding on his spoon, he turned his eyes to Oliver again. “The organization obviously believes in you, so I won’t mess up the whole bloody ‘confidentiality’ thing.” His eyes flicked down the table towards PJ. “As long as you don’t mess with her.” George held up a hand to cut of Oliver’s predictable denial and leaned closer, lowering his voice. “I know you technically aren’t allowed to have any sort of relationship with her, besides a platonic one. But I think you fancy her. And she fancies you.” Bringing his cup up to his mouth, he ventured on. “And I give you my permission. You should give it a go. She’d be good for you,” he finished, nodding encouragingly.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Oliver stared warily at his Beater. “Are you serious, Weasley?” Feigning nonchalance, he sent a glance towards PJ. “Do you really think it would work?” Rubbing the back of his neck, he turned back to George. “What about her family?”
“Well, I’m related to her…and I give you my blessing. And I think Perce would too. And Gin. She’d love it.” Grinning mischievously, George stood and slung his school bag over his shoulder. “Go for it Oliver. You’ll regret it if you don’t. To hell with everyone else.” With that encouraging thought George strolled away, immediately engaging in a heated debate with a fifth year Ravenclaw about the Cannons recruitment efforts in the South.
23 steps. 21 steps. Must keep eyes open for 19 more steps.
Piper counted backwards by two trying to keeping herself awake as she entered the Charm’s classroom. She moved quickly, trying to stem off the inevitable crash. Every step that took her closer to her chair also brought her closer to the wall. Delirium had already set in and passed and the ‘ability to cry at the drop of a quill’ was almost upon her. 9 steps away, she mused. 5 steps until I can sink into my chair and pass out. She yawned, rubbing her eyes. I’m so bleeding tired. Letting her rucksack fall hard, Piper settled into the chair; perfectly content to dream of brown eyes and a Scottish brogue.
“Is this seat taken?”
That’s not a sexy Scottish drawl; the thought flitted across Piper’s mind before it was replaced by another. Sounds kinda like Chambers. Trying to pull her head off the desk and covertly wipe the drool of her face, Piper peered up at Chambers from under her lashes. Fuck me, he’s gorgeous. Wavy dark blonde hair framed light green eyes, seemingly set perfectly upon chiseled cheekbones, leading to a rather pouty mouth. A mouth that gave Piper very improper thoughts. Shaking her head, she gestured. “Not at all; have a seat.”
“Thanks Piper.” He folded his long lanky frame into the chair next to hers, rummaging through his bag for his quill and textbook.
Piper’s eyes blinking slowly, trying not to stare at his hands as he twirled a quill and chattered on about the upcoming Quidditch Match between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Long thin fingers, big palms; refined. Very different from those of a Quidditch player. Different; but still intriguing.
“So,” he drawled lazily,” what are your plans for next weekend?” Chambers glanced around, seemingly looking for someone.
Piper mentally scoffed. Probably looking for Oliver. “Nothing. Why?” She smiled as she spoke, her voice taking on a flirtatious tone.
“Well, I was-”
“Wondering why you are sitting in my chair, Chambers. Shove off.” Oliver’s gruff growl cut into their conversation, his eyes narrowed to slits.
Piper gulped, trying to stop the tired tears threatening to escape. Oh hell.
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