Chapter 2 : The Test Participant From Last Night
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Kenzie woke up stretching out languidly, feeling rejuvenated and satisfied for the first time in ages. That is, until she bolted upright realizing she was naked and tangled up in sheets, still in the bedroom of a stranger’s apartment. The quickness of the startled movement unfortunately brought the headache she was sporting to the forefront of her mind, not to mention the queasiness of her stomach. Clearly she had consumed more than her fair share of alcohol the previous night. She was paying for it now.
Glancing to the side, hoping beyond all hope that the guy she had spent the night with was still asleep, she thanked merlin for the mercy of finding him snoring softly. A small smile forced its way onto her lips seeing how serene he looked. She found herself taking in the sight of him, once more enjoying the view. His soft brown hair was sticking out in all different directions and he was sprawled across his enormous bed, the sheets covering him just below his hips and giving her an excellent view of just how fit he was. She had to resist the urge to run hands over the copper toned skin of his chiseled stomach and chest; he was that delicious.
Ripping her eyes away from the man, she started to take in her surroundings for the first time. It all looked strangely familiar. The thick plate glass windows overlooking the Thames, the modern clean lines, the colorless palette of the décor, all of it seemed recognizable. She cursed to herself realizing that she did indeed recognize it. The building he lived in, the one that she was in at that very moment, was the same building that she used to inhabit when she shared an apartment with Decimus. Just to make it even better, she knew Decimus still lived here, and with his new fiancé to boot. How could she not have noticed it last night? Oh right, she hadn’t felt the need to come up for air, her lips had practically been glued to those belonging to the dishy man sleeping next to her.
Sneaking out to where she could Apparate had just become a bit more complicated. Decimus wasn’t the only person who could recognize her in this building. She had been friendly with her neighbors, and they would surely ask what she was doing there. It didn’t help that she clearly looked like she had been tousling around beneath sheets due to the state of her hair. She couldn’t even locate where her clothing or shoes were from her upright position in bed.
Gingerly, she stepped out from beneath the sheets, hoping not to wake him. She was feeling quite exposed in nothing but her birthday suit, but she could see the color red just outside the door of the bedroom now that she was standing. As quietly as she could, she made her way over to her clothing, and chuckled softly as she gratefully put on the dress that was now sporting a large stain down the front. She choked on the chuckle, however, as she glanced at the clock sitting near the couch on a console table. Bloody eight fifty-five!
Immediately panic set in. She was due in at work at eight o’clock to prepare for the Quidditch players who would be arriving at nine thirty, and she still couldn’t find her shoes. Scrambling, she managed to vaguely remember doing some questionably immoral deeds in the kitchen and found her the heels there. She strapped them on hopping up and down on one foot, and ran out of the apartment slamming the door.
Once in the hallway, she put her head down and marched towards the stairwell to avoid the lift and as many people as she could. She was relieved once she got there to see she was on the twelfth floor—Decimus lived on the fifteenth. She hurried down the steps knowing she didn’t have time to go back to her flat and change, so she just planned to throw on a lab coat once she got to work hoping it would cover the stain on her dress.
With no flights of stairs left, she paused before the door marked L and looked through the small window so see how busy the lobby actually was. There were a couple people near the door, but thankfully they were chatting amicably with the doorman Sylas. She could probably sneak by unnoticed, although she couldn’t see directly into the Apparating and Flooing foyer. She just had to hope no one was there. Making her way across the lobby discretely she wanted to jump for joy upon finding it empty. Now all she had to do was Apparate, then high tail it to her office hoping no one saw her. That of course would be near impossible.
Arriving in the atrium of Lazarus Brooms Incorporated, Kenzie bolted to the right barely managing to mutter a hurried hello to the receptionist Joan. She knew she looked a right mess, what with her hair a rat’s nest and garbed in a dubiously short red cocktail dress complete with a massive stain. Worse still, she was pretty well known throughout the company, so seeing people poking their heads out of their offices as she sprinted past, she knew people were bound to talk. She was cursing Daphne in her head when she burst through the doors to the Keepers Development Department, skidding and coming to a stop in front of her three colleagues trying to keep her balance.
They all turned around abruptly upon her entrance, looking at her with various expressions of amused astonishment. Except Daphne of course, who took one look at her and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to stop herself from cracking up loudly. Kenzie just glared at her murderously.
“You! My office now!” She pointed at Daphne whose laughter only redoubled. Hunched over, she followed Kenzie to the left and into her office closing the door behind her. Now in private Kenzie whirled on the girl, panic evident in her eyes “What the hell Daph! I told you I shouldn’t go out last night. Look at me!” She said gesturing to her haphazard appearance desperately, “I woke up five minutes ago! And do you bloody well know where I was?” she asked somewhat rhetorically through clenched teeth.
Daphne looked at her as if she’d gone daft, “Of course I do. You went home with that bloke. I do believe I was the one who suggested it. ” She said matter of factly.
Kenzie rolled her eyes. “No you plonker! That’s not what I meant.” She stated aggravated. “His bloody apartment, the one you so eagerly told me to go to, it’s in the same bloody building where Decimus lives—where I used to live!” Daphne’s mouth dropped open and she began to laugh again. Kenzie was not a happy camper. “Not only did I have to sneak away from the guy, I had sneak through the building to the Apparating foyer in the lobby, trying to avoid being seen while looking like this.” She explained pointing to herself exasperated. Daphne’s cackling was really starting to get annoying.
To her credit, the girl was trying to stop laughing, “Oh Merlin! Only to you Kenz!” she said clutching her stomach and trying to collect herself. She took a few deep breaths knowing details were going to have to wait for later. “As funny as this is, we are running behind schedule since someone decided to lie in this morning.” She ignored the glare Kenzie directed at her and continued talking. “People are going to start arriving soon, and at the very least we need to get you presentable.” She said coming around the desk, frowning at Kenzie’s hair uncertainly.
Kenzie smacked the girls’ hand away from her hair. “Quit looking at it like it’s going to bite you! Don’t you know a charm or something?” She asked pleading pathetically as she threw on a lab coat. It didn’t quite cover up her stain
Daphne looked at her hesitantly. “I’m good, but I don’t know if I’m that good Kenz. This mess is otherworldly.” She said, not instilling any confidence in her friend.
Kenzie sulked, feeling the anxiety building, but quickly gathered herself. “Just do what you can please. I’ll try to mask whatever you can’t fix by putting my hair up in a ponytail. I think I have my glasses around here. That’ll camouflage last nights makeup right?” she asked hoping for reassurance. Daphne shrugged in answer, a not so genuine smile on her face. Kenzie sighed resignedly, “Whatever, it’s going to have to do.”
Given the circumstances, Kenzie didn’t look half bad after stepping out of her office. Sure her red stained mini dress wasn’t entirely appropriate for work, and neither were her black strappy stilettos, but the lab coat gave her some small semblance of professionalism. To be honest though, it didn’t exactly make up for the raccoon eyes she was hiding behind glasses, or the matt of hair she tried to mask as a bun—it looked more like a birds nest on top of her head than anything else. Still, at the very least, she didn’t look like she had just jumped out of some stranger’s bed. Now it appeared more likely that she was trying out the sexy, disheveled, scientist guise. To be clear though, it wasn’t a good look, and it definitely wasn’t one she seen anyone else try before.
Stepping out of her office behind Daphne, Kenzie buttoned one button of her lab coat and smoothed it out trying to give off an air of authority while hiding the stain. All her efforts were clearly in vain though. When she glanced at the smirks on the faces of her other colleagues, Kenzie would have bet a million galleons that Daphne had already filled them in on last night. All three of them had been trying for months to get her a drunken snog, insisting it’d be good for her. When Kane opened his mouth, it was clear her assumption about blabbermouth Daphne had been spot on.
“So did the old dog learn any new tricks?” Kane asked mischievously. He was the oldest of all of them at thirty-six, as well as the silliest. Kenzie was prone to believe that even had he been born blind, he could find innuendo in a nod. He was a Muggle carpenter, but watching him work with wood really made you second-guess how the word ‘magic’ was defined. The skill level he achieved with his hands and intuition was far beyond the capabilities of any of the wizards she had interviewed for the position. Ollivander himself had led her to him, he had been using the man to find the best materials for years. It was as if he could communicate with trees.
Kenzie just glowered at him unhappily, “I know enough tricks thank you very much. Do we have the prototypes cataloged by vin number, and the release forms prepared for everyone’s signatures?” She asked trying to steer the subject back to business. It only half worked.
“Aye we have all that organized,” answered Fergusson before his voice became teasing and his eyebrows began to waggle suggestively. “No problems then?” he asked Kenzie. “Hop back on the ole bicycle with ease? Or were you little rusty?” Kenzie rolled her eyes ready to bash her head in. Fergusson was a twenty eight year old Muggleborn engineering prodigy. While his specialty was aerodynamics and mechanics, he had exceptional statistical and analytical skills, and wasn’t half bad with a wand either. Kenzie had chosen him specifically because he had unique ideas about how magical enhancements could be furthered if coupled with Muggle innovation and technology. Not only did he graduate from Drumstrang but he had earned a degree from Cambridge as well. His work had been key when coming up with physical broom specifications that could work in tandem with the their anticipated spellwork, and he was handy when implementing necessary changes as well.
Kenzie sighed annoyed. “Listen, I really don’t have time for this. Daph have we worked out and tested the tracking charms on the brooms? They have to be fully functional and irremovable. We need to make sure none of the prototypes get in the hands of our competitors.”
Daphne nodded her head, “All worked out. I initially tried using the two different charms, but you were right. Something about the sticking charm erases the tracking charm. Developing a traceable potion did the trick. That baby won’t wash out for even the most insistent solubility draught.” She said happily.
Kenzie didn’t have time to smile, she just nodded “What about the probing detection charm so we can see if anyone has tried to puzzle out our spell work? We got that right weeks ago, right?” she asked Daphne again. The nod of confirmation was enough so she turned to her engineer. “Fergusson we need to clear the room of schematics so none of them are stolen. They need to be categorized and filed properly mind you.” She said assigning him the task.
Fergusson gave her a little salute, and said “Yes captain, consider it done.” Before he wandered away and began shuffling around papers, hopefully to organize them.
Kenzie ticked that off her mental list before moving on. “Shit did each of you come up with inquiries for the questionnaire? I know you were still working on it last we spoke, but I need to put it all together and have Joan make the copies for the participants if we plan to get proper feedback.”
Kane stood up, “I have all of it right here. We were just waiting to see if you had anything to add, if not I’ll take it to Joan right now. While I’m down there I can see if the caterer dropped the food off as well. Daph you want to come with me to help levitate the goodies?” he asked.
Daphne nodded but it was Kenzie who spoke. “Good thinking, I totally forgot about the food. Can anyone think of anything else before I start prepping for my presentation?” She asked them. When everyone shook their heads no, she finally smiled. “Good, we aren’t in as bad of shape as I thought. Let’s just hope the Quidditch players got as pissed as I did last night and roll in late.” She finished to a chorus of laughter before heading to her office to go over what she was going to say.
In no time at all Daphne and Kane were back, laden with bags of food on their persons and even some floating between them. Kenzie met them at the door and used her wand to summon a table near her office so they could set up there.
“Where do you want the questionnaires boss?” Kane asked once all the bags he had been carrying were set on the table.
Kenzie was helping Daphne take food out of the bags and organize everything nicely, but was still able to give direction. “Have Fergusson summon you a table over there and lay out the different prototypes next to each other, a pair of models for each participant. Put the release forms and questionnaires into the Lazarus folders that are sitting on my desk. I want a folder below each set of prototypes for each person.” Kane did as was told and recruited Fergusson to help him. Hopefully they would have these last tasks completed before everyone started arriving. It was already nine thirty five.
Coming to the end of the set up, Daphne summoned chairs and one last table for everyone, while Kenzie was left with the final food bag. She was extremely relieved when she saw its contents. “Ooohhh coffee, exactly what I need.” She exclaimed happily. She hurriedly put the thermoses on the table and stacked up some cups, before helping herself to some caffeine. She was just adding cream and sugar when she heard the door to the lab open followed by the voice of Decimus.
“..and that save you made against the Canons, last month, bloody brilliant. The company is extremely excited to see what you’ll be capable of with our new brooms. Anyways, let me introduce you to the research coordinator for Keeper Broom Design Development, Kenzie D’masi. She should be around here somewhere.” His eyes searched the room for Kenzie until he found her. “Oi! Kenz!” he called to her.
She really needed a pick me up, and was determined to get a sip of coffee in before turning around, so she wasn’t paying enough attention to hear Daphne’s flabbergasted exclamation of “Merlin’s Sodding Beard!” Had she caught it, she might have been prepared.
Instead, she took a large swig of coffee and turned to face the door. When her eyes slid from Decimus, to the handsome fellow next to him, her eyes widened in horror and she unintentionally spit her coffee out everywhere. It was him, the man from the club. The man she had slept with then run away from that morning.
She stood there stupidly for a moment, mouth hanging open wide, wondering how she had gotten herself into this predicament. He was a Professional Quidditch player!? For a moment she felt a little twinge of pride, but she quickly squashed the sentiment down once it occurred to her how ridiculous she was being. It took her a moment before she realized that Decimus was calling her name.
“Kenz……KENZ!” He yelled. She finally shook herself from her stupor long enough to glance at Decimus, she was looking a bit peaky. “Are you okay?” he asked seeming doubtful of her countenance.
She nodded her head yes, “Yeah, just…Coffee. Hot.” She said sounding like a neanderthal before she could stop herself. Her expression was still blanched, and she was afraid to move.
Decimus seemed like he was getting annoyed. “Well then, come and introduce yourself to Oliver Wood.” He said insistently through slightly through a strained smile.
Kenzie gulped, but forced herself to move towards them. She managed to glance at Daphne, hoping she would lend her courage, but the girl looked like she was about to burst at the seams trying to hold in hysterics. Kenzie glowered at her and let her gaze flicker to Oliver. Big mistake.
His warm amber eyes were alight with mirth and amusement, and the smirk on his face was much too smarmy for his own good. He was standing there with his hands in his pockets observing her thoroughly entertained, rolling back and forth on the balls of his feet. He was clearly enjoying the predicament and how horribly she was handling it. Did everyone enjoy her humiliation?
She tore her gaze away from Oliver while glowering, to look at Decimus as he spoke. “Merlin Kenz, what are you wearing?” Decimus asked in a peculiar tone. As she approached, he began looking her up and down, taking in her disheveled and inappropriate attire with an appalled expression on his face.
Daphne actually did burst out laughing once the question was voiced. Luckily she managed to cover it up as if she were coughing, although it did kind of sound more like hacking.
Decimus only gave the girl a strange look before redirecting his attention to Kenz. “Nevermind,” he said shaking his head. “I don’t want to know. Just keep Mr. Woods here occupied while I go see if any of the others have arrived. You can handle that can’t you?” he asked appearing skeptical.
She nodded, and when silence persisted, she glanced from Decimus then to Oliver, then back to Decimus. He rolled his eyes and jerked his head towards Oliver. It was then Kenzie realized she still hadn’t introduced herself. Upon the realization, her eyes widened a bit and she quickly, although awkwardly, stuck out her hand in greeting. “I’m sorry,” she started, “Pardon my manners, I’m Kenzie D’masi.”
Oliver took one hand out of his pocket and extended it to take hers in his large firm grip. He wore a wry smile on his lips thinking that it was bizarre they should be introduced now and learn each other’s names. Still he played along. “Pleased to make your acquaintance Ms. D’masi. I’m Oliver Wood, Keeper for Puddlemere United.” Decimus had turned to leave during the exchange, and Oliver glanced behind him to make sure he had retreated out the door before giving Daphne a smile and a wave. He then turned back to Kenzie. “Still in the same clothes from last night I see.” He said using a hand to push aside the lab coat and examine the stain on her short red dress. She smacked his hand away scowling at him, but he only grinned and stuck it back in his pocket, “Nice hair by the way.” He glanced around the room, taking in everything before his eyes fell back on her, “Now I understand why you ran out so quickly. Knowing you had to work kind of makes me feel better.” He said leaning towards her slightly as if in confidence. “Hell if you hadn’t slammed the door on your way out I probably wouldn’t have made it here at all!” His Scottish drawl was pleasant, but the enjoyment he was taking at her expense made Kenzie seethe.
Kane and Fergusson finally made the connection as they watched the exchange from the sidelines. Fergusson was the first to react. He approached Oliver sticking out his hand. “Hi Oliver, big fan,” he said shaking the Keepers hand vigorously for a moment before continuing. “I need to steal this one for a moment,” he said motioning to Kenzie, Oliver just nodded still seeming quite entertained. Fergusson steered Kenzie a few feet away, their backs to Oliver—the man could still hear every word of their hushed tone conversation.
“Am I to believe you shagged the Keeper of Puddlemere Untied and didn’t even know it? I thought Puddlemere was your favorite team!” he said astounded.
Kenzie was sulking angrily, “Puddlemere is my favorite team, you stupid wanker!” She really didn’t want to be having this conversation. The situation was embarrassing enough. “When do I bloody well have time to watch the games! I spend most of my time in this ruddy place. I listen to the games in my office!” She said. Even to her ears it sounded improbable although it was true.
“So what? You mean to tell me that you don’t have the Prophet delivered to your flat? Do you live under a rock?” Fergusson asked interrogatively.
Kenzie shook her head, trying to come up with the words to explain. Luckily Daphne came over and did for her. “No Fergusson, she lives under piles of schematics and business documents.” When he looked at her doubtfully she explained. “Seriously, I was at her flat last night, and even if the she did get the Prophet, there would be no way she could find it with all the mess. It’s not a small mess mind you, definitely took time to make.”
Kenzie looked at her friend unappreciatively. “I can find everything in my apartment just fine thank you very much!” When Daphne looked at her levelly she looked away scowling, “Okay maybe not the newspaper, but I manage everything else just fine!
Fergusson took a step back, a sudden smile coming to his lips realizing the hilarity of the situation. Still he shook his head at the unlikeliness of it all. “Ha! Only you could go without for a whole nine months, and then unknowingly end up in bed with the Keeper of your favorite team!” He said seemingly mystified.
Kenzie looked at her colleague dumbfounded. Apparently Fergusson didn’t understand what he had just said aloud. Unfortunately Oliver did, and his response made them realize he had been listening.
“Nine months eh?” he said lifting an eyebrow, the same coy smirk permanent on his lips. “That explains all the energy.”
The room was silent for a moment as Kane, Daphne, and Fergusson digested his words, mouths ajar. Then, collectively, they began howling with laughter.
Kenzie felt like she was going to be sick from mortification. It wasn’t that funny! “Oh calm down you gits.” She snapped at the pack of cackling hyenas, “Can we all just please forget this ever happened and act like professionals?” she asked them desperately. She didn’t like the answer she received in return.
“Pfft.” Oliver said looking at her as if she was daft. “Bloody no I won’t forget it! I’ll be reliving it in my head for years most likely.” The grin that he plastered on his face was exceptionally smug. He was relishing this way too much.
Kenzie had the urge to slap him but was too busy turning crimson as her friends double over, using each other to prop themselves of while roaring with laughter. Of course it was at that moment that Decimus walked in with quite a few more Quidditch Professionals. Among them she saw the astonished face of Darren. He kept looking back and forth between her and Daphne, and even began laughing once he realized Kenize was wearing the same clothes from last night. He came to stand next to Oliver and looked about to say something when he received an elbow to the ribcage from his friend. Although Darren looked putout, Kenzie was grateful. She was dreading any more incidents.
She realized she had probably been standing there a bit too long, anticipating renewed humiliation upon the arrival of Darren, when Decimus spoke up. His eyes were peeved resting on her before he glanced meaningfully at all of the participants whom she had yet to introduce herself to.
“Umm right, feel free to help yourself to a bit of breakfast and find a seat.” Decimus told them taking charge. “We will begin the meeting once the last six participants arrive. I’ll be right back, I’m just going to fetch the rest of the group from the atrium.” He explained before turning towards Kenzie, “Can I have a word with you.” His look was dark and she gulped, but met him near the door. His tone was harsh and displeased though he kept to a whisper. “I don’t know what has gotten into you but you need to fix it now.” He seethed. “I expect you to be professional! This is a big day for us and I can’t have you distracted by the fact that it would’ve been our fourth anniversary,” Kenzie felt like she had just been hit by a freight train. She had forgotten up until he had mentioned it, and the reminder had only served to knock the wind out of her. She visibly stiffened and felt her stomach drop but she couldn’t find words to stop him before he went on. “I don’t know what you’re trying to play at with this inappropriate get up and careless attitude, but I’m not buying into it and I don’t like it. Pull yourself together before I send you home and takeover myself.” He finished giving her a stern, mildly disdainful look before tugging his on his suit jacket and turning on his heels heading out the door.
Kenzie felt like she had just been punched in the gut, and once she heard the door shut she collapsed against the wall. Was it really May twenty first already? She wanted to crawl into a hole and die knowing Decimus thought her strange behavior was due to him. Then again it, now that she was aware of the date, it did hurt her, and more than she was willing to let on. How he dismissed the three years they had spent together so easily, she didn’t know. Had she really meant that little to him? She felt her breathing coming out heavy and the anxiety building up. She had to steady herself on the wall to stop from falling into a heap on the floor.
Daphne must have seen the agonized look on her face and her faint appearance because she was there in an instant. “Are you okay? Merlin! What’s wrong?” She asked searching Kenzies distraught face.
Kenzie looked up at her friend painfully, “It’s May twenty first.” She said her eyes betraying her distress, “Today would’ve been four years. He thinks I’m acting strange because of him!” She finished breathlessly, feeling like if she didn’t take a seat she might faint.
Daphne frowned concerned and looked about ready to catch her if she did lose consciousness. She tried to steer her away from the wall. “C’mon let’s get you to your office.”
Kenzie shook her head trying to clear it of haunting thoughts. She swallowed before taking a large breathe, “No,” she exhaled. “He said if I didn’t pull it together he’d send me home and take over.”
Daphne grimaced angrily this time, “What’s his bloody deal. He thinks everything is about him when it comes to you! Ruddy ponce has taken everything else over! This was all your sodding idea!” She wasn’t helping.
Kenzie tried to collect herself straightening her spine and pushing off the wall on wobbly legs. “It doesn’t matter. I can do this.” She said with a forced confidence. Daphne looked her over with a solemn expression, and nodded, trying to reassure her. She needed it.
When they turned around, Daphne glanced in the direction of Kane and Fergusson who were looking on with concern. She nodded in their direction indicating everything was all right and they visibly relaxed, going back to fussing with the prototypes once more. Kenzie on the other hand turned around to face the uneasy frown of Oliver Wood and confusion of Darren. She tried to put on a strong face and gave them a wavering smile as she approached.
“Everything alright?” asked Oliver apprehensive. “You look a bit pale.” The frown he wore, and his obvious concern were endearing.
“Yeah,” agreed Darren, “You looked like you were going to faint there for a moment. Boss ream you out?” he asked.
Kenzie sighed recalling Decimus’s words once more. Her strained smile only faltered momentarily before she said, “Yeah…something like that.”
Although she wasn’t exactly happy that Decimus walked in at that moment with the rest of the group, she was relieved she didn’t have to explain anything further to Oliver and Darren who still were looking at her questioningly. She took the opportunity to bolt, and walked over to the door to greet the new participants telling them to help themselves to refreshments before finding their seats. When they all did Decimus greeted them once more.
He smiled brightly, glancing at all the participants as he spoke. “On behalf of Lazarus Brooms Incorporated I would like to welcome you to our facilities and offer our sincerest gratitude. We are very thankful that you have all agreed to meet here today. I am Decimus Lazarus, President of Operations and Lead Oversight Director of our exciting new Position Optimization Initiative.” He began with greeting. “I’m sure you are all curious as to why you’ve been asked here, and I hope you will all be just as excited as we are about the innovative new direction we are going in. For the last two years here at Lazarus, we have been pouring all of our energy into a project that we believe will change the game of Quidditch forever by allowing for a new level of competition.” He definitely had gotten their attention with that. Several Players had been going to take a bite of some refreshments only to put their food down intrigued.
Decimus smiled brightly knowing he had them. “About two years ago we asked the question, why do all Quidditch Players ride similar brooms?” He paused letting the question sink in before continuing, “Why shouldn’t there be a broom specialized for the skill sets required of each position? Seekers, Beaters, Chasers, and Keepers are all assigned different tasks on the pitch, and they all expect and require their broom to be able to aid them in their job as best as possible. That’s where we come in. What we here at Lazarus are proposing is a specialized broom for each position, optimized with the assigned responsibilities and flying style of the each position in mind.” He let them chew on that for a moment and was happy to see captivated faces before he moved on, “And with that, let me introduce you to Kenzie D’masi.” He motioned for her to come stand by him where he put his arm around her, continuing his introduction. She couldn’t help but frown slightly at his hand on her shoulder. “Kenzie is the Lead Research Developer for the Keeper Position Optimization Project, and she will take it from here.” Decimus patted her on the back hard enough to make her stumble forward a bit before he went to go take a seat at the head of the table near Daphne, Fergusson and Kane.
Kenzie was wringing her hands in front of her dress preparing to start her speech when a hand was raised. “You have a question already Mr. Wood?” she asked him curiously.
“Pardon the interruption, this is all very impressive. The idea is brilliant” he began. “However, I noticed everyone present is a Keeper while it was mentioned that there would be a broom for Chasers, Beaters, and Seekers as well. Have you begun work on the other brooms? I can’t imagine the WQL allowing only one position to have specialized equipment on the field.” He finished.
“Good question.” Kenzie nodded understanding his concerns, “But they are allowing it.” She saw his eyebrows lift incredulously and went on to explain. “We have been working closely with league representatives since day one, and they have agreed to let players use prototypes in games, as well as shelf models once production begins, granted they are available to all teams.” She explained. “The WQL is just as excited about this as Lazarus is, and sees this project as a way to help the sport evolve. To answer your other question, We have indeed begun development for each position, however, the Keepers broom is the one were are prepared to put into production first, granted none of you can offer any other input upon testing our prototypes.”
Oliver frowned, “So you are just now consulting with players to see what they would require out of a broom?” He asked seeming a little dumbfounded.
Kenzie went to open her mouth but it was Decimus who answered. “I understand your skepticism Oliver, however I think you will be quite impressed with our designs. The multifaceted ideas we have implemented have been meticulously considered, we’ve taken a multitude of aspects into account for our schematics.”
Oliver didn’t seem convinced, “Yes, but whose designs are these? Did the idea man play the position they are designing for?”
“Actually,” Decimus smiled at Oliver, “the entire endeavor was proposed by Kenzie. She alone came up with the idea for the entire project, and how to go about enhancing brooms for each position.” Kenzie felt several heads turn towards her including Oliver, most of them mirroring his cynical expression. She couldn’t really blame them considering the way she was dressed, but she did appreciate Decimus actually giving her the credit she was due.
Oliver himself looked incredulous. “You?” He asked taken aback “You designed all the brooms? Every position?” Kenzie didn’t appreciate the doubt that was evident in his face and words.
She was about to open her mouth once again, when Decimus answered. This time chuckling a bit, as if he understood why the man would be doubtful. “You’d be surprised Mr. Wood.” Kenzie felt slightly mad at herself for the butterflies she was feeling due to Decimus’s confidence in her. “Kenzie is quite a legend at Beauxbutons. She was the first and only person in the long history of the school to earn a spot on the Quidditch team in their first year. She was captain by third, and by time she had graduated she had played all four positions. Whenever a spot would open up on the team due to graduated members, she would hold tryouts to find the best out there and would fill in herself where there were gaps. The Karasjok Kites, Falmouth Falcons, Appleby Arrows, and Holyhead Harpies all tried to recruit her out of school.” He paused, and Kenzie felt a painful twinge in her heart when he turned his eyes to her seeing pride there. She had always loved how much he respected her achievements, and it still hadn’t changed. “What was that nickname they used to call you Kenz? The one you hated?”
She frowned a bit petulantly, she really did hate the name, “Himlen Gudinnan.” She stated flatly.
She had earned the title in a particularly rough game against Drumstrang for the division cup in her sixth year. So many of her players had gotten hurt that she had to get creative with the reserves. She was at Chaser to begin with, then had to move to Keeper once her starter got hurt falling off her broom from a particularly nice save. She replaced herself as chaser rather than calling up the reserve keeper due to the fact that the other girl was still recovering from a spill at warm ups that morning. However, soon after that, her Beater was taken out and she was forced to play the mildly injured reserve Keeper because she had no replacement Beaters except for herself. All in all she had scored ninety points at Chaser, stopped Drumstrang from scoring more than thirty while she was Keeper, and took out two of their Chasers with Bludgers. They still lost, but afterwards the boys school had started calling her Himlen Gudinnan, and the girls a Beauxbutons adopted it as well. She was told it meant sky goddess in Swedish.
“Wait a tick, I’ve heard that nickname before” said a tall blonde with an Irish accent wearing a Wasps jersey, “I think I’ve heard Krum talk about you. He always wondered why you never played professionally!”
Kenzie grimaced slightly. “It’s not that I don’t like Quidditch. I love it…more than anything.” She said going slightly misty eyed. “Its just, I always thought it could be enhanced and that it could grow as a sport. I felt I owed the game I loved, the respect to try and make it better. This right here, what I’m doing now, this is what I’ve always dreamed of.” She finished. Looking around the table she was met by looks of respect. Even Decimus looked enchanted by her words. She had to look away from him quickly before a blush rose in her cheeks “Anymore questions before I give you an oversight of the brooms specifications and tell you what we are asking of you?” She asked purposefully keeping her eyes off of her ex. No one said anything, so she continued on.
By the end of the presentation, every player in the room looked impressed and eager to get their hands on the new product. She had to warned them about the tracking and probing charms, and had them sign release forms indicating that they were not allowed discuss any of the patented design alterations with any other companies or the media. She made sure that all eighty-four brooms were assigned correctly based on vin number to the forty two participants in the trial. She explained that they each received two because they were trying to figure out if they wanted to go with teak or ebony, both had benefits. After that it was just a matter of informing them how important it was to be detailed when filling out the questionnaires, and insisting they meet up in a months time to give their final suggestions.
With the meeting winding to a close and all the paperwork sorted, Kenzie was really beginning to feel quite gross and in need of a shower. She was going to approach Daphne to see if she would tidy up so she could go home, when Decimus intercepted her. The look in his icy blue eyes was indiscernible.
“You managed to pull yourself together there at the end.” He stated, eyes boring into hers. Kenzie cringed slightly under his gaze, completely uncomfortable. She was pretty sure he knew the kind of power he exerted over her and she didn’t appreciate him wielding it indiscriminately. “I know you haven’t seen me in awhile, but how about next time we meet you don’t spit your coffee out everywhere, yeah? You don’t have to make things more awkward than they already are.” She resisted the instinct to roll her eyes. Had he always been this self-absorbed? Instead she lowered her gaze to the ground and nodded, hoping that was enough of a response that he’d leave her alone. Unfortunately it wasn’t. He used his index finger and placed it under her chin to bring her gaze up to his. He opened his mouth to say something then thought better of it and dropped his hand. He stared at her a moment longer before turning on his heels and walking out of the department hurriedly.
She frowned, watching him go, and when she turned around she saw, Darren Fergusson, Kane, Oliver, and Daphne all looking at her with a wide range of expressions.
“Well that wasn’t awkward at all!” Darren said sarcastically, giving the door Decimus had just exited out of a weird look.
She ignored the statement and tried to change the subject smiling a bit, “The presentation went better than I thought it was going to given the way the day started.” She began until she glanced Oliver. She frowned slightly before adding, “Well except maybe for the way someone had to grill us about our design process and my own qualifications.”
Oliver shrugged, the smirk she had had entirely enough of that morning evident on his features once more. “Sorry, it just seemed like things were being done a bit backwards there for a second. You cleared up my confusion just fine though. How come you never told me you played Quidditch?” he asked curiously.
She looked at him sideways. “I didn’t even tell you my name, you think Quidditch wasn’t high up on my priority list?”
Oliver smirked, “Ah yes, I forgot, snogging me numb was really the only thing you had on your agenda.”
Kenzie glared at him as everyone chuckled at the exchange. She narrowed her eyes at Oliver before turning to her colleagues. “Can you guys please clean up here, please? I’m in desperate need of a shower.” They all nodded so she thanked them and gave them quick hugs. She turned to leave when Oliver stopped her with a hand on her arm.
He had the decency to try and lower his voice, but saw it was futile as everyone leaned in to try and listen. He gave everyone an exasperated look before just going ahead and speaking. “You left, your umm….undergarments at my house.” Kenzie could feel the blush rising in her cheeks and hear everyone else trying to suppress chuckles. When she didn’t say anything he spoke again “You want to drop by real quick and grab them? I won’t be in for the rest of the day.”
Kenize looked to Daphne pleadingly but the girl just stuck her hands up, “Hell no Kenz, you can go get your own knickers.”
Kenz pouted, “Please Daph, you know I can’t go back there! Not today!”
Oliver looked puzzled momentarily, “Why can’t you go back there?” he asked curiously.
Kenz frowned, glaring at her friend but not wanting to explain about Decimus. “Fine, I’ll come get my knickers, but we have to be quick about it!”
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