Chapter 4 : Chapter 4.
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I scheduled a practice for the following Monday. I spent most of my Sunday planning intricate plays and strategies. I even dug out my old Quidditch pitch model from the depths of a cardboard box, which had taken refuge in what should have been my sitting room, but looked more like a storage unit. Despite general opinion, I had unpacked, its just the flat was so small, I still ended up with a multitude of boxes clogging up the sitting room.
I apparated to the stadium, and marched towards the side door, down the hall and shoved my way into the dressing room. The first thing that greeted me after I had picked myself up off the floor were seven very unhappy-looking faces.
“Who in their right mind puts practice on at six o’clock in the morning?” Henry demanded, bleary eyed. The only one who didn’t look as if they were about to keel over at any minute was Kathy, and even at that she looked like a zombie.
“I didn’t have time to do my foundation,” Sakiya whined. The whole room erupted into a cacophony of complaints.
“Quiet!” I roared. They all stopped shouting at once “Welcome, this is what six in the morning looks like.”
“Oh ha-dee-bloody-ha,” Pippa growled “Your so funny,” she was strewn across the splinter-death trap, looking more than a little worse for wear “Why did you tell me the practice was on at five?”
“So you’d definitely be here for six,” I quipped back. The team sniggered, until Pippa shot them a death glare.
“Come on Pip, you’re always late,” Norman poked her in the side.
“Except for this morning when I was early,” she growled.
“From now on,” I said loudly over Pippa’s mutterings “practice will be at this time, three times a week for four hours,” I said calmly. As if on queue, the shouting began again. I waited patiently until they were done “Additional practices will be added coming up to matches.”
“You’re crazy!” Brody exclaimed from behind his usual cloud.
“And another thing,” I added, plucking the cigarette out of his hand and stomping it into the ground. “Smoking and drinking is from here on in prohibited except for certain weekends.”
“You can’t ban drinking!” Evan said, in disbelief.
“I live above, and work in a pub for God’s sake,” Pippa whined.
“Will-power Pippa, that’s all you need,” I answered back cheerfully.
“Pity I don’t have any!” She moaned.
“Enough! We are going to go practice,” I lead the way out onto the pitch, playbook in hand, to find that it was in darkness. “Where are the lights?” I questioned.
“We don’t have any,” Norman muttered beside me.
“This is why we don’t hold practices at six in the morning,” Henry said smugly.
“This is just a minor set back,” I snapped.
“Well what are we going to do? Fly around with wands in between our teeth,” Brody snorted.
“That isn’t a bad idea actually,” I spun around and beamed at him.
“No Oliver,” Kathy said exasperatedly.
“Fine,” I grumbled “I suppose I’ll walk you through the new plays first.”
We all trooped back into the dressing room. I stepped back out into the hall and made my way to the storage cupboard I had found, which held a sizeable blackboard. I dragged it back down the hall, and set it up in front of the team. They stared at it, dumbfounded.
“Lets begin,” I clapped my hands together once. I spent the next hour and a half going through my lovingly designed plans, which were met with a reception which consisted of the odd grunt of someone almost nodding off and maybe a murmur of agreement, if I was lucky.
“And then you, Sakiya, finish off with a reverse pass, and Evan shoots it through the hoop,” I finished with a flourish “And that, is play forty-nine”
“Question Oliver, how many plays are there,” Norman asked from where he was sitting on the floor, slumped against one of the lockers.
“The number is infinite,” I stroked my blackboard lovingly. I heard Pippa groan behind me.
“Oliver, its bright now, we can go practice,” Evan pointed out. Without being dismissed, the team half-ran out of the dressing room, me following grumpily behind.
“Okay team, first thing we’re going to do today is fifteen laps of the pitch to warm up,” I extracted the whistle from my jeans pocket. “Go,” I blew my whistle and seven surly individuals rose into the air.
I set them all tasks. Henry and Brody were to hit targets, and only targets. I served them with the threat of my newly thought up penalty, ten conjoined sloth-grip rolls, if they so much as sneezed in the others direction, never mind pelt bludgers at each other, and they seemed to get the message. I had charmed a few Quaffles to fly at Norman from all directions, and then the chasers had been told to go practice a few plays, most importantly play forty-nine, which was my brainchild.
“What do you want me to do boss?” Pippa asked.
“You and I,” I gestured to the two of us “are going to do a bit of role-play, okay?”
“Ok-ay,” she answered back uncertainly.
“Right, so it’s the quarter final of the league. You and the other teams’ seeker are-,”
“Can we give the other seeker a name?” she interjected.
“The other seeker,” she replied innocently “can we give him a name.”
“Fine,” I snapped “You and. . .Bob are hurtling towards the snitch, Bob is pulling ahead, what do you do?”
“Elbow him in the face,” she said certainly.
“No,” I shook my head.
“Punch him in the face.”
“No,” I groaned, rubbing my face with my hand.
“No,” I ran my hands through my hair exasperatedly. “You lean forward and give it everything, you do not lay a finger on the other player.”
“Is this because of Saturday? Because, lets call a spade a spade here, that lad went completely over the top.”
“You elbowed him, in the face,” I said slowly.
“Well, technically yes, but he was a Ravenclaw anyway, and everyone knows the artistic ones are the most dramatic,” she nodded wisely.
“Either way, you cannot just hit, kick, or elbow someone.”
“Get me a Slytherin, they know how to take it,” she grumbled.
“That is a very mean stereotype,” Henry shouted from across the pitch, waving his beaters bat dangerously “Slytherins have feelings too.”
“Sure you do Henry, just keep kidding yourself,” Kathy laughed. Henry roared back in retaliation.
“What is with you people and shouting at each other,” I muttered.
“For me it’s a culture thing, don’t know what the rest’s excuse is,” Pippa shrugged her shoulders. I sighed, but left the matter drop. I strided over to the ancient equipment trunk, and extracted the snitch.
“If you don’t catch this every five minutes, you get the penalty,” I warned her gravely. She nodded her head quickly. I released the snitch, and watched as Pippa scrambled onto her broom to pelt after it. I walked briskly to the stands, and sat down on one of the less-battered looking chairs. From there, I was able to survey the team.
“What is he doing?” I muttered to myself, as I watched Norman flail about hopelessly, looking like a demented bat. How the kid had deluded himself into thinking professional Quidditch was the carer path for him was beyond me. The boy wouldn’t have been able to catch a cold in the middle of winter.
Unable to watch any more, I turned my attention to the chasers. Kathy passed to Sakiya, who reverse passed it to Evan, who pelted down the pitch and shot it through the hoops. It turned out when he was sober, he was actually pretty good.
Brody and Henry were complete opposites when it came to beating styles. Brody aimed it well, while Henry hit is with such brute force, I began to understand why they called him ‘Smasher’. I pulled out my notebook, and noted down,
Fix Smashers aim.
Tell Frenchie stop Snape impressions.
I closed my notebook, satisfied, and looked around. Pippa streaked around the pitch in search of the snitch. She was different to every seeker I had ever seen. Instead of going up high and surveying the pitch from above, she flew around the pitch, body pressed flat to her broom, her movements almost catlike. All of a sudden, she stopped abruptly, and changed directions. I squinted and saw the snitch fluttering just ahead of her. She let out a roar of triumph when her fingers closed around the little golden ball.
“Release it and go again,” I roared. She shot me the thumbs up, and the chase began again.
“You’re all here very early,” a voice from behind me said. I started and turned around quickly, nearly giving myself whip-lash. Ritchie plopped into the seat beside me.
“Sorry, I should have told you we were holding practice,” I said, while I watched Norman drop yet another Quaffle.
“Not at all, not at all! I’m just shocked they’re all here,” he said.
“I found out where they all live, they were either going to walk in here, or get dragged,” I shrugged. Ritchie laughed beside me. We sat in silence watching the practice for a while.
“Do you mind if I have a look at the clubs accounts?” I asked suddenly.
“Sure, they’re in the filing cabinet beside my desk. What do you need them for?” he asked curiously.
“Just trying to scrape some money together to get new gear,” I indicated to Normans shoulder pads, which were visibly held together with spellotape.
“I’ll wish you luck then,” Ritchie laughed again “Puddlemere hasn’t received funding in two years.”
“From investors?” I asked.
“At all,” he said gravely.
“I thought every club received money from the federation each year,”
Ritchie looked as if he had said something he shouldn’t.
“Well, to put it bluntly, the more you win, the more you get. And seeing as Puddlemere hasn’t won in an age. . . .well you get the picture.”
“No, I don’t. Even the Chudley Cannons receive funding,” I said, frowning.
“Well to be fair, they are better than us,” he said quietly.
“Where has the money gone Ritchie?” I turned towards him, and watched him sweat.
“Err. . .well I’m not very sure about previous years, but I’m pretty sure last years sum went towards building the Tornadoes new stadium,” he muttered into his lap.
“What?” I bellowed.
“Their stadium had gotten very run-down-,”
“And this place is in perfect running order now isn’t it?” I interjected. “You should have complained, gone to the press, anything!”
“Oliver, what was I supposed to say?” he whispered furiously “And for Gods sake keep your voice doing, the team would have my blood if they found out,”
“You knew,” I said disbelievingly.
“Oliver, please understand,” he pleaded “I had no other choice, the Tornadoes were just after signing off on some big players, and my hands were tied.”
I sat back disbelievingly in my seat, my brain whirring. For over two years, Puddlemere funding was after going to the Tornadoes, and the clubs accountant had known about this.
“Wait, Kathy said the teams been on a three year continuous losing streak, and plenty more before that, why did funding stop so suddenly two years ago?” I asked quickly.
“I. . . well. . . big players. . .funding. . . .” Ritchie shifted uncomfortably.
“Ritchie,” I said dangerously.
“He’s the saviour of the world for Christ’s sake!” he blurted out.
And then it hit me. Two years ago, the Tutshill Tornadoes signed James Potter. Son of Harry Potter. Saviour of the Wizarding World.
Stealer of Puddlemere funds.
DISCLAIMER! I own nothing!
Wow, so you may have guessed, but even I didn’t know where this chapter was going! So for that I apologise! And just in case no one got the whole 'Frenchie' thing, Normandy is a place in Frace, and. . . . yeah, it fitted at the time okay!
The next one will be better, promise!
Reviews much appreciated!
P.S, go check out the new chapter images by the fabulous Elenia from TDA!
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