Chapter 5 : Chapter 5.
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As soon as the practice was over, I legged it up to the office. I threw the door open and launched myself at the filing cabinet. I extracted a large, leather bound, black book which had ‘Accounts’ stamped across it in peeling gold letters. I opened it, and began scanning down the rows, looking at all the entries written in faded ink. I heard someone pounding up the stairs, and looked up as Ritchie puffed his way into the room.
“Please . . . . . Oliver. . . . don’t. . . . say. . . . .,” he panted, bent double in a desperate attempt to catch his breath.
“Say what? That most of these entries aren’t worth the paper their written on?” I snorted “Here is a particular gem, on the fourteenth of August, Ms Brown invested five knuts, a whole five knuts,” I said sarcastically.
“Every little helps,” Ritchie muttered. I ignored him.
“Oooh, and lookie here, on the sixteenth of April, Mr Bennet gave us two sickles, the generous thing.”
“Look its hard, okay? I’ve been doing the best that I can!” Ritchie said exasperatedly.
“And giving the clubs funding away is the best you can do, is it?” I said scathingly.
“You can pass judgements all you want, but I’ve been here for thirteen sodding years, you’ve been here approximately three weeks.”
“It’s not like I’m here because I want to be,” I snapped.
“Yes, well this isn’t exactly my dream job either, but we’ve got no choice, so just suck it up and get on with it,” he replied.
“I’m leaving,” I grabbed my coat from where I had thrown in haphazardly over my desk earlier that morning, and pulled it on.
“Where are you going?” Ritchie asked, panicked “Please don’t tell me you’re quitting already.”
“I’m going to the Ministry,” I shouted over my shoulder, as I thundered down the stairs, taking them two at a time.
“Why?” he called after me, confused. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs, and could just see his head peering down at me.
“Someone has to try and get the funds back, don’t they?” I called up to him. I made my way out of the stadium, ignoring Ritchie’s shouts to come back.
The British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters were housed on the seventh level of the Ministry of Magic. I knew this, because it seemed I had spent half my career in one of the many small, cramped, cluttered offices discussing some contract or another, whether it to be seen drinking butterbeer after the match, or just to simply put a new logo on the clubs uniforms.
I pinned the nametag hastily to my jacket, and made my way towards the lifts which were located just beyond the golden fountain. A witch, a wizard, a Muggle, a centaur, a werewolf, a goblin, and what looked like a house-elf wearing three hats and five pairs of socks all stood in a circle, their backs to the water, shoulder to shoulder. Each one was holding a plaque which read ‘Equality’. I could remember being there when it had been commissioned. It made me feel very old to look at it.
I turned my focus back to the task at hand. I jumped into a jam-packed lift just before the doors closed. Nearly all, thankfully, got out on Level One.
“Level Two,” a low, calm witch’s voice announced. I shuffled slightly to the side to make way for the people entering the lift. Notes fluttered around above our heads, and the other occupants kept diving into their bags for quills and parchment to scribble down something or other. All got off on the next level, leaving me alone in the lift, until a slender hand slammed in between the doors to stop them from closing. A strawberry blonde woman, in a powder blue suit entered the lift, holding a briefcase in one hand, and a rather bulky file in the other.
My palms began to sweat when I saw her.
I attempted to blend into the wall, but I obviously didn’t do a very good job.
“Oliver? Is that you?” she squinted at me.
“Hey, Penny,” I waved half-heartedly.
“Penelope, Oliver,” she sighed.
“Right. . . . sorry,” I replied awkwardly. We stood in silence for a few minutes. I began to hum to try and break the tension.
“Stop! You know I hate it when you do that,” she snapped.
I stopped abruptly, and more awkward silence ensued.
“So, what brings you to the Ministry?” she said in a falsely upbeat tone.
“Just going to Level Seven,” I answered “you?”
“I work here Oliver, remember.”
“Oh yeah. . . .sorry.”
“Stop apologising,” she snapped again.
“Sor-,” I began, before I stopped myself.
“Why are you going to Level Seven?”
“Oh, just some Puddlemere business I need to attend to.”
“I heard that you became their manager,” she nodded “I suppose a congratulations is in order for your new job.”
“Thanks,” I stared down at the scuffed toe of my shoe. “How’s Rachel?”
“Rachel’s fine, she actually got a job in Flourish and Blotts a while ago, to help with Healer training,” she said airily. “Have you heard anything from Amy?”
“Oh yeah, she sent me a letter a few days ago, saying that the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain was caught smoking behind the back of the greenhouses, so Professor Jenkins gave the position to her instead.”
“That’s nice for her,” she muttered. “She never told me about that.”
“Well Rachel never told me about her new job, so there you go,” I checked my watch “This lift is taking forev-,”
“Rachel has a good reason not to talk to you Oliver, and you know it,” she said curtly, cutting me off mid-sentence.
“And that being?”
“You tried to make a pass at her best friend,” she said exasperatedly.
“I was drunk,” I said defensively.
“That makes it worse.”
“Hark who’s talking Little Miss lets-shack-up-with-a-guy-whose-fifteen-years-younger-than-me,” I turned to face her.
“That is none of your business,” she said incredulously.
“In case you haven’t noticed, dearest,” I spat “you’re still married to me, so whether you like it or not, it is my business.”
“Well it won’t be your business for long then, I was talking to my solicitor, and she said you should be served with the divorce papers by the end of the month,” she said triumphantly.
“Oh dear, it seems we’ve hit a little snag.”
“And that being?” she huffed impatiently.
“Its seems you’re under the impression that I’ll sign the papers straight away.”
“And why wouldn’t you?”
“You see, Penelope, my flat is so small and cramped, it could take me months to find a pen, years even,” I smiled sweetly at her.
She turned to glare at me, her face going as red as the crimson wallpaper which lined the interior of the lift.
“You will sign those papers,” she said lowly, her voice shaking with pure rage.
“Nope, I don’t think I will,” I examined my fingernails intently, a smug smile playing on my lips.
“OLIVER-,”she began, before the lift door glided open.
“Oh, I’ll just take the next one,” Percy Weasley looked from Penelope’s furious expression, to my amused one and stepped back from the doors of the lift.
“That won’t be necessary Percy, I was just leaving anyway,” Penelope said primly. Shooting one last glare of utter loathing at me, she stalked out of the lift, nose high in the air. Percy stepped nervously into the lift.
“How are you Oliver? I haven’t seen you in, well it must be years now,” Percy extended his hand, and shook mine vigorously.
“Grand Percy and yourself?”
“Oh fine, fine,” he nodded “Congratulations on the new job, I saw it in the Daily Prophet.”
“Thanks Percy,” I waited impatiently for the lift to reach the next floor.
“The lifts have been so slow the past few weeks,” Percy said, trying to fill the silence with pointless small-talk “I think the Transportation office is angling for a pay-rise.”
“Really?” I replied, not having listened to a word he said.
“Oh yes, other departments have pulled similar stunts in the past. My father loves to recount the tale of the tornadoes to anyone who will listen.”
“Stupid Tornadoes,” I muttered darkly.
“Oh I quite agree! Tornadoes are fickle things, quite unpredictable,” Percy nodded seriously. He prattled on for a bit about the in’s and out’s of meteorology, most of which I didn’t listen to. The lift doors couldn’t open fast enough.
“Listen Percy, it’s been great talking to you, but I really have to go now,” I said quickly, leaving Percy mid-sentence. I half-jumped out of the lift, into the messy corridor of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. It was just as I remembered it. Quidditch posters lined the walls, and paper planes zoomed this way and that, ferrying messages from one office to another
I nearly broke my neck on a broom which had been left lying in the middle of the floor, as I made my way down the corridor. A small reception desk lay at the end. It was littered with papers and files. A girl who had pink streaks in her hair sat behind the desk reading a magazine, and chewing gum very loudly.
“Excuse me,” I said.
She didn’t even look up.
“Excuse me? Hello?”
She licked her finger, and turned the page.
“Hello!” I shouted, drumming my hands to the wooden desk.
“What?” she snapped at me.
“I’d like to speak to the head of the Quidditch Federation,”
“Do you have an appointment?” she sighed, tossing her magazine aside and reached for a clipboard that lay next to a cup of unfinished coffee.
“Erm. . . . .no,” I mumbled.
“Then you can’t see anyone,” she tossed the clipboard back, and reclaimed her magazine.
“Well can I make an appointment?” I said slowly, beginning to get annoyed. She threw back down her magazine angrily, and picked up the clipboard once more.
“Name,” she said in a bored tone.
“Oliver Wood,” I answered promptly. She scribbled it down with a blunt quill, which meant the ink smeared all over the parchment.
“Matter of business.”
“Funding of Puddlemere United.”
She snorted as she wrote it down.
“So you’re the idiot that took that lot on,” She smirked up at me.
“When is my appointment?” I said irritably.
“Thursday-,” she began.
“Brilliant,” I clapped my hands together
“- the twenty sixth of March,” she finished.
“What? That’s five months away!” I shrieked.
“The Director is a very busy person,” she blew a bubble with her gum.
“Just forget it!” I snapped. I marched back down the corridor, and into the lift, pretending to be outraged at the infuriating receptionist, but really being angry at myself. I had just seen my soon-to-be ex-wife for the first time in three months, and had only managed to infuriate her.
Ritchie was leaning against his desk, wringing his hands when I walked back into the office.
“How’d it go? Did you get money? Am I fired?” he said quickly.
“Badly, no and no,” I answered shortly.
“What happened?” he asked.
“I didn’t even get to see him in the first place and the next appointments’ not for the next five months.”
“Oh,” he sighed, looking like he couldn’t decide whether to be relieved he was still employed, or disappointed that Puddlemere was still as poor as ever. We both jumped when we heard a brisk knock on the door. Sakiya and Pippa burst into the room.
“We have a big problem,” Sakiya announced.
“And that being?” I said tiredly, pinching the bridge of my nose.
“I’ve been suspended,” Pippa wailed. She waved a very official-looking letter in front of my face. I tore it out of her hands.
Dear Miss Finnigan,
In light of your recent display of misconduct during the Quidditch match which took place on the 12th of October against the Wimbourne Wasps, the British and Irish National League board of directors have decided to suspend you until the 3rd of November, effective immediately.
Please refrain from practicing Quidditch on Puddlemere grounds until the above stated date.
Undersecretary of the British and Irish League.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me,” I groaned.
Disclaimer, I own nothing!
Again, another chapter that really went nowhere, but we got to meet Oliver’s soon-to-be ex-wife! What do you think of her?
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