“Okay, best Quidditch team of all time,” Kathy slurred.
“Gryffindor House, 1993,” I answered confidently, downing my thirteenth ‘Bloodthirsty Tequila’ of the night.
“Rubbish!” Pippa shouted “Holyhead Harpies, 2002,” she stumbled a bit in her heels, and pushed her ridiculous bow hair band, which was an eye-watering shade of neon pink, back up on her head. She looked like the lovechild of a flamingo and a disco ball. Between her tank top, barely there skirt, skyscraper heels, and bizarre accessories, she was quite the spectacle. At some point during the night, she had announced that she felt stupid wearing Quidditch gear off the pitch, and had tottered upstairs and come back wearing, well what ever it was she was wearing. I had a strong suspicion that the barmaid had taken full advantage of her drunken state of mind, and dressed her up in something a hen party would think was too garish to be allowed.
“I suppose this is because of Ginny Weasley?” I snorted “Every female Quidditch player is obsessed with her.”
“That one? No! Too happy-clappy for my liking. I mean, she married her first crush, the woman’s practically a walking romance novel,” she said, hand gripped tightly around a bottle of something. The smell was making me see stars from across the bar “I’m talking about Stephanie Payne, the seeker from that year.”
“Isn’t that the one that got arrested that time?” Norman piped up from where he was stationed, a collection of empty pint glasses around him.
“Gwenog Jones got arrested before,” she muttered.
“For questioning about rioting at a match Pip, not for disorderly conduct,” Kathy rolled her eyes.
“Even so, she was still an amazing player,” she said earnestly.
“That no one remembers,” Norman muttered into his glass. The others chortled quietly, until they saw the look on Pippa’s face. She eyed us all, while taking another gulp from the bottle, which resulted in her spilling some down her top.
“And you,” Kathy pointed shakily toward me “Picking your Hogwarts team as the best squad ever is just sad.”
“Well they were!” I protested “A sight better than you lot anyway.”
“Oi! I take offence to that!” Henry roared at me from the other end of the bar, where he, Evan and Brody were busy chatting up some girls who looked completely out of it. Sakiya had long since disappeared into the night with someone that Pippa assured me was ‘TDH’. Kathy later explained to me that this meant tall, dark and handsome.
“Well it’s the truth!” I shot back.
“Hey, I am amazingly talented,” Pippa giggled “It’s not my fault I got landed with these amateurs,” she tossed her hair over her shoulder “I mean, look at me, I just scream professional,” she wiggled her hips, almost falling over in the process.
“Watch yourself there love,” Seamus half-laughed, grabbing her by the upper arm to help her regain her balance. The rest of us were busy splitting our sides laughing at her.
“I am perfectly fine Daddy dearest,” she reached again for the bottle, but Seamus quickly grabbed it and pulled it away from her.
“You have had more than enough of that,” he told her.
“I have not! I can still remember what day it is!” she argued, while trying to reach for the bottle, which Seamus had placed behind his back. He held her off easily with one hand.
“Okay then, what day is it?” he said, eyebrows raised.
“Thursday,” she answered promptly.
“It’s Saturday Pip,” Norman patted her arm clumsily.
“Is it?” she shrieked “Times flies doesn’t it!”
“Okay, time for bed,” Seamus grabbed her round the waist, and began towing her out of the bar, Pippa protesting the whole way.
“She’s so young,” Kathy chortled.
“So are you,” I turned towards her.
“Not really,” she sighed “Not in the Quidditch world anyway,”
“Well, compared to me, you’re a spring chicken,” I retorted playfully.
“I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to last to be honest,” she slumped forward, head on her hands.
“What makes you say that?” I questioned.
“I look like Pippa’s mother,” she groaned.
“No you don’t,” I patted her awkwardly on the shoulder.
“People are going to start calling me ‘Ma’am’ and assisting me across the street,” she cried in despair.
“The horror,” I motioned to the barmaid to pour me another drink
“And you’re going to kick me off the team,” she lifted her head and stared at me “And then I’ll have to clean mangy toilets in this place for the rest of my life,” she said hysterically.
“Who said I was kicking you off the team?” I asked, confused.
“Ritchie!” she pointed to where the man in question was drooped over a glass of lager, looking as if he was half asleep “He said that I’d have to step up my game, because you were asking questions, and well after today’s display, I’d fire myself,” she admitted, knocking back another firewhiskey.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I was considering benching you, but I’m not now,” I told her, mentally adding on that the only reason was because I couldn’t find someone to replace her for love or money.
“Really?” she sniffed.
“Truly,” I nodded, breathing a sigh of relief. Disaster adverted. I had never been particularly good at dealing with emotional people. I had a bit of a habit of saying the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.
“So,” she began “What’s your tale of woe? How does a person like you end up coaching a team like us?”
“What?” I said, taking a sip of the firewhiskey the barmaid had just placed in front of me.
“You said it yourself, we’re useless,” she said pointedly.
“I take offence to that!” Henry growled from the other end of the bar.
She swung around on her bar stool and began to shout “You can take your offence and shove it up your-.”
“Calm it Kathy,” the barmaid cautioned.
“I’m perfectly calm,” she sniffed. The barmaid shot her a look of warning, but moved on down the bar to pursue other activities, namely attempting to make a dint in the sheer mass of glasses and bottles that had amassed around the team “And you haven’t answered my question.”
“Maybe I just love Quidditch and wanted to come back,” I said airily.
“That’s a lie and you know it,”
“Fine,” I snapped “I’m . . . . . suffering through some financial difficulties at the moment.”
“Brody was right? You’re bankrupt?” she said lowly, aghast.
“No, I’m not bankrupt, but . . . . . I’m getting divorced and my wife. . . .”
“Is taking you for every penny you’ve got you poor bugger,” she finished for me.
“Basically,” I admitted.
“I’m all ears if you want to complain about her,” she said casually, examining her fingernails.
“No, all I need is another drink,” I said hastily. I motioned impatiently to the barmaid, who eventually sauntered over, bottle in hand. “Leave the bottle,” I commanded. She obliged without a word.
“Don’t you think you should call it a night?” Kathy asked cautiously.
“Nope,” I said shortly “I can still remember,”
The light was too bright. Much, much too bright. I opened one eye slowly, and then the other. I was staring at a ceiling. A ceiling that didn’t belong to my flat. I sat up abruptly, and then noticed a pair of big brown eyes watching me from behind an armchair on the other side of the miniscule room. Whoever it was ducked when they saw me looking at them.
“Your awake then,” Kathy entered the room through an archway that led into a little kitchenette.
“Where exactly am I?” I scratched the back of my head.
“My flat,” she replied “What are you doing behind there, Colin?” She peered around the armchair.
“Nothing,” a little voice answered her.
“Come out from behind there,” she shook her head at me, and rolled her eyes. A little boy sprinted out from behind the chair, and hid behind Kathy’s legs. He had a head full of messy brown hair, and was wearing blue cotton pyjamas.
“Who’s he?” he asked, pointing towards me.
“Oliver Wood, darling,” she ruffled his hair.
“Who’s Oliver Wood?” he craned his neck up to look at her.
“My boss, I guess,” she smiled towards me.
“What’s he doing here?” he questioned further.
“Well, he felt a bit funny last night, so I let him sleep at our house,” she answered.
“He smells weird,” he announced. I sniffed myself apprehensively, and was near knocked out by the smell of alcohol.
“Don’t be rude Colin! Mr Wood is our guest,” she corrected him. Colin nodded his head “Now go play,” she shooed him out of the room.
“In all fairness, the kid has a point,” I said.
“Yeah, well I can’t tell him that can I? Or else he’ll go round the place telling everybody that needs a shower they smell manky,” she folded her arms, and quirked an eyebrow.
“Suppose,” I shrugged “Why did I have to sleep here last night?”
“You were so off your face, I was afraid you’d splinch your head off apparating, and you didn’t know who you were, never mind where you lived, so I couldn’t apparate you home,” she said lightly.
“Oh,” I said, a warm flush creeping over my face “I went a bit mental then last night?”
“A bit?” she snorted “Seamus basically had to throw you bodily out of the pub, because you couldn’t stand up properly,”
I put my head in my hands, shame washing over me “I’m forty-odd years old and I’m behaving like a bloody teenager,”
“Let’s call it your mid-life crisis,” she smiled.
“How are you not hung-over?” I slumped back onto the couch, rubbing my temples in an attempt to ease the pounding in my head.
“There is this magical thing called ‘self-control’, you really should try it,” she said in a superior voice. I shot her a look, and she laughed “I’m only messing with you. Here, take this, it should help a little,” she tossed a small, unmarked vile towards me.
“What’s this?” I questioned, eyeing the contents warily.
“Some concoction Romilda brews. Its brilliant for hangovers!” she nodded.
“Who’s Romilda?” I asked apprehensively.
“If Pippa’s potions skills are anything to go by. . . .,” I muttered, rubbing my temples again.
“Pippa is just hopeless,” she agreed “But Romilda’s actually pretty good! I mean, everything still tastes like sawdust, but at least I don’t feel like there’s an army marching around on my brain..”
I uncorked the vile slowly, not sure whether I could trust her or not, but finally concluded that anything had to be better than this, so I downed the contents, and immediately felt, well half normal anyway.
“So what exactly happened last night?” I asked.
“I’m a bit fuzzy on the details myself, but I think it ended with Norman walking into a lamp post,” she laughed. She had an infectious laugh, not an annoying giggle like most girls, but a real laugh. I found myself smiling begrudgingly back at her.
“Do you want some breakfast? I made toast!” she said, pointing towards the kitchen.
“I’d love some,” I got up and stretched, my joints stiff after sleeping on a couch. I was just manoeuvring around the badly placed coffee table, when I caught sight of myself in a small mirror over a sideboard. Someone had drawn a moustache on my face. In multi-coloured ink.
“I think your son decided to use my face as a canvas,” I said, grabbing some toast and plonking myself down at the small table wedged between the fridge and a groaning bookshelf.
“Who said it was my son?” she winked at me cheekily, taking a large bite out of a piece of toast.
Looks like I’m not the only one who isn’t acting my age.
Bit filler-ish, but anyway!
Dunk tom-foolery galore in this chapter, and who doesn’t love that!
Feel free to review, because, you know, it’s free and stuff!