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The New Pride of Portree by momotwins
Chapter 4 : Flight and Family
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 14


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After staying up long into the night Friday and spending most of Saturday in a series of increasingly boring and uncomfortable meetings with the team owners, Fitz's shoulder was protesting strongly. McCormack had been at his side all day, doing most of the talking to the owners. She was far better at fast-talking them into believing in the new lineup, but it was unclear whether this was because of natural ability, actual confidence in the motley lot of them, or self-preservation because she was the one who'd chosen them. In any case, it left Fitz mostly along for back-up.

Occasionally someone asked him a question, but mostly they were all focused on Meghan McCormack and her smooth words. She had them all snowed into believing a winning season was imminent when it was far from a certainty that they'd win even one game. She was a born politician, Fitz decided. It was not something anyone had ever accused him of.

By the time the last meeting finally let out, he was desperate for some pain potion and remedial therapy spells. The League kept a small battalion of Healers on retainer for just this purpose, and Fitz managed to dig one up who was actually on call on a Saturday during the off-season.

His shoulder was burning with pain, the ache sliding in waves down his arm to the elbow, following the trail of rope-like scars left by the spell damage. The scars formed a starburst pattern that a Healer shortly after the attack had tried to convince him looked like some sort of cool body mod. Fitz had not found this encouraging and had avoided that particular Healer ever since.

The on-call Healer was already in the Pride of Portree therapy room when Fitz got there. He was a tall young man with bright red hair, dressed casually in a white t-shirt with the crossed wands of his profession blazoned on the front. Fitz didn't recognize him.

“Thought I knew every Healer and medi-wizard in the League by now,” he remarked as he strolled in, trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder. “I don't think we've met, though. I'm Riordan Fitzroy, I'm the new coach here at the Prides.”

It still sounded strange to him to introduce himself that way. Coach instead of Chaser. He didn't quite know how to interact with the League's Healers as a coach, only as an injured player.

The Healer stuck a hand out, and Fitz shook it. “Nice to meet you, Coach Fitzroy. I'm Hugo Weasley. What can I help you with today?”

“Weasley?” Fitz repeated, startled. “Any relation to our Keeper?”

Healer Weasley smiled. “She's my cousin, actually.”

Good God. Every time he turned around, there was a Weasley. There must be hundreds of them. Fitz wasn't keen on the idea of a relative of Molly's treating him. Usually Healers kept their mouths shut about injuries they saw, but this was her cousin. He wasn't sure he ought to trust the man. And he definitely did not want Molly or any of the rest of the team knowing exactly how bad his shoulder was. “I see. I trust you can keep this appointment in confidence, then? Even from your cousin?”

He smiled easily, not offended at all. “Oh, believe me, I take my professional duties seriously, particularly the in-confidence ones.”

“All right.” Fitz looked him over and decided the pressing needs of his shoulder outweighed any concerns for privacy for now. It was throbbing insistently. “It's this damn shoulder. You've probably heard about what happened?”

Healer Weasley nodded. “Let's have a look, then.”

Fitz slid out of his shirt, wincing and trying not to move his bad arm any more than he had to. He'd become something of an expert at taking off his clothes without use of his left shoulder. Taking a seat on the purple leather-padded table that the team used for both exams and massages, he turned to show the scars to the Healer. “It's been bothering me more than usual the last few days, and today it's absolute hell.”

“When was the last time you came in for some spell therapy?” Healer Weasley asked, leaning in to examine the ropes of scar tissue trailing from Fitz's shoulder down his back and arm.

“A few months ago, I think.”

“Too long, I reckon. Tell me when it hurts.” And the Healer grasped Fitz's elbow in one hand and his shoulder in the other and pushed his elbow first down and then up.

Fitz gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out, but he couldn't stop a hiss of pain when his elbow was level with his shoulder. Fortunately, Weasley seemed to take the hint and stopped before raising Fitz's arm any higher. Above the shoulder was excruciating.

Weasley stepped back then, and pulled his wand from his pocket. “I'm going to cast something for the inflammation, and see if we can't do something for your pain as well, all right? I'll send along a series of potions for you. Please make sure you read thoroughly the list of side effects. You're to take all of them exactly as directed. No skipping doses, eh?”

“Yeah, I know.” Fitz hadn't skipped a potions regimen since a month after the injury, when he'd thought he could tough it out. He'd been wrong. Asking for help put him in a bad mood, but it was better than living in agony.

Half an hour later, his shoulder was much improved but his mood was not. Lying on the table having spells and potions and a Healer looming over him made him feel helpless, childish. Chronic illness didn't sit well with him. At least Healer Weasley had maintained a very professional detachment in his bedside manner. Too much sympathy always left Fitz feeling angry and wanting to lash out. He knew he had a reputation among the League Healers for his attitude about the injury and treatments, and wondered if Weasley was reacting to that or if he was always this way.

He sat up and slid back into his shirt while Weasley scribbled some notes into a file, then tucked it into a folder labelled with Fitz's name.

“Thanks,” Fitz said grudgingly. “Feels a lot better now.”

“The potions will help keep it that way. I'll arrange to have more sent along when these run out, but you'll need to schedule another therapy to keep your range of motion.” Weasley tucked the folder into a black dragonskin satchel.

Fitz nodded. As much as he hated them, the therapy sessions did help. They hurt worse at first, but afterward he always noticed the improvement. It never lasted, though, and even the improvement didn't take him back to full strength.

“I'd like to look into your injury further, if you don't mind,” Weasley said then, looking down his long nose at Fitz.

He immediately tensed up. “What the hell for?”

Weasley blinked at the sharp tone. “I think there might be better ways of managing the residual effects. It might help your quality of life.”

Whenever a Healer talked about quality of life, Fitz wanted to sock someone in the jaw. “They know what curse was used on me. It isn't going to kill me, and the effects have been removed. It's just the damage that can't be healed. I've been through this a hundred times with a hundred Healers.”

“I know,” Weasley said, to Fitz's surprise. “I looked over the medical records of everyone in the League when I took the job, including yours. I still think further research is warranted.”

“Fine. Do whatever the hell you want.”

Healer Weasley gave him a long look that reminded him uncomfortably of Molly's soul-searching stare. Fitz knew he ought to feel bad for snapping at the man, but he was tired of the pain and the constant reminder of the attack. It had ruined his life and kept ruining it every day. The last thing he wanted was to look into it further than he already had.

Eventually Weasley said in his quiet, calm voice, “I'll send the potions this evening. Please feel free to call on the British and Irish League Healing Service at any time should you require further medical care. If my aid today has been satisfactory, please indicate so on the comment card and return it to our offices via owl at your convenience.”

Fitz took the small, lime green card from him, feeling rather as if he ought to apologize but damned if he would. He managed a brusque nod, and watched Molly's cousin leave with his dragonskin satchel and his Weasley-red hair.

It was the same shade as Molly's, the same curls.

The room was silent but for the ticking of the purple clock on the gold-painted walls. It seemed too oppressive to stay in and think, too full of the ghosts of injured players and the echoes of their screams of pain. Fitz slid off the table and left quickly, heading home to collapse in his bed, finally free of pain, if only for now.

*

Fitz woke early the next morning. The batch of potions from Healer Weasley had arrived last evening as instructed, with a lengthy list of instructions and side effects. Fitz skimmed these and then crumpled the parchment into a ball and tossed it aside. The first two potions were red and tasted of lingonberries, and the third had a very sour taste and smelled of dirty socks. He finished them off with two cups of strong tea to get the taste out of his mouth.

Thus far Sundays were a dead zone for the team, with everyone off doing their own thing, living their personal lives separate from each other and the team. None of them were in the habit of coming in on a Sunday, so Fitz had the day entirely to himself. He headed into the Pride of Portree home pitch, first to his office to check if any paperwork had arrived, but it appeared McCormack had all that under control. Fitz looked over his desk and decided he wasn't going to work on any training schedules today. Today he was going to fly.

Since the attack and his removal from Montrose, he hadn't liked to let anyone see him fly. Compared to his former ability, he was awkward and clumsy, unable to steer with his old precision. It was downright humiliating. He flew like his grandmother, for God's sake. He hadn't been on a broom since the new players had arrived a fortnight ago. It would probably do to coach from the air, as he remembered his coach at Montrose doing, but he didn't want to see the looks of sympathy from them when they saw how he flew now.

The pitch would be empty at this hour on a Sunday, so he'd be able to feel the wind on his face without anyone seeing. Fitz liked when the pitch was empty. It felt welcoming at all times, a home away from home, but when it was empty it seemed to belong entirely to him, awaiting his visits with open arms. Even the pitch where he'd been injured felt warm and welcoming, as if it wanted to make up for the attack.

The morning was clear and cool, the sky frosted with grey clouds and pale sunlight as Fitz jogged out onto the pitch with his broom slung over his good shoulder. He stopped short halfway onto the field.

For crying out bloody loud. He could not get a moment's peace from her.

Molly Weasley was up in the air on her own broom, soaring high above the goals in a graceful arc, turning barrels in the air. She was too far away to see her face, but her movements were as elegant as ever in the tricks and turns. She wasn't wearing her Quidditch robes, just a pair of skin-tight black trousers and an equally skin-tight black t-shirt. Her broom spiralled and she held on effortlessly, then made a sweeping loop completely upside down.

Hell, she could be a world-class stunt flier. She was almost wasted as Keeper, the position least requiring of difficult flying, good as she was at it. Keepers didn't get the opportunity to fly in formation the way Chasers and Beaters did, or to do the difficult and dangerous stunts that Seekers so often pulled. Protecting the hoops didn't generally call for trick flying, just short bursts of speed and an almost preternatural ability to tell where a Quaffle was going to come from.

But there she was, flying with her red hair streaming behind her and an ease of movement that came as much from years of practice as it did from natural talent. He'd had that once, and someone had taken it from him.

Swamped with jealousy that she could do what he no longer could – and then some – Fitz turned to stomp away.

A shrill whistle and far-off yell of “Oi!” made him turn back. Molly was headed his way.

Trying not to feel angry with her, since he was well aware she hadn't done anything wrong, Fitz stood his broom on its tail twigs and leaned into it, trying to be casual despite the roiling emotions.

She alighted gently, stepping off her broom just as it landed in one smooth motion that made him feel even more bad-tempered. The fact that her tight clothes showed off every line of her body made it worse. He simultaneously wanted to swing his broom into the ground until it broke into satisfying smithereens, and to kiss Molly breathless.

She swept her windblown hair to one side, where it curled around her cheekbone, and smiled at him. Her face was open and cheerful. “I didn't think anyone would be here today. Thought I'd get a bit of practice in. And, well, a bit of recreational flying as well. Are you here for the same?”

“I thought I'd have some privacy at seven on a Sunday morning. Didn't intend to find anyone on my bloody pitch,” he said grumpily, and immediately regretted it when her smile vanished.

“Well, I'll leave you to it, then.” Her voice was brittle now. “I'll be back at ten. Please clear the pitch before then if you don't care to share it.”

And with that, she stalked off, leaving him angrier than before.

He thought about calling her back and apologizing, but he couldn't do it. It wasn't her fault, but seeing her fly like that had made him want to tear his bad shoulder out altogether. He was angry with himself for taking it out on her, and angry with his shoulder, angry at the faceless attacker who'd stolen his ability to do what he loved.

When Molly was out of sight and he was alone in the damp morning air, he vented some of his rage by kicking his broom away, cussing a blue streak at it.

Fitz stared at it as it landed a few feet away, breathing heavily. His shoulder gave a twinge. Bloody shoulder had ruined his life. He'd been a good Chaser, enjoyed his life, and then that damn attack. It wasn't fair.

He sucked in a breath, rubbed his shoulder resentfully, and walked over to pick up the broom. He knew he anthropomorphized the broom, as many players did, attributing it with feelings and thoughts of its own, and told himself it was stupid to do so, but he muttered a small apology to the broom nevertheless.

Getting in the air wasn't as easy as it had been before, but he could manage it without more than a small protest from his shoulder. He ignored the pain and flew on, hoping to let out some of his boiling anger in the wind.

Bloody shoulder.

Bloody team.

Bloody ex-wife.

Bloody Molly in her tight trousers.

Fitz couldn't make the same trick flights she'd done. His shoulder didn't have the strength. But he could fly fast and high, and that would have to do for now.

Molly stood hidden in the shadowed recess of the corridor that led out of the pitch, her broom held loosely by her side, watching Fitz.

He'd kicked his broom away as if it had personally insulted him, and she'd wondered what had set him off. Perhaps yesterday's early meetings with the team owners hadn't gone well. But then his wince of pain had changed her mind, and she saw him take flight and knew why he was angry.

Before the injury, he'd been athletic and almost ferociously elegant on his broom. He was still ferocious now, but he was rough. The ease was gone, and he sat stiffly and banked slowly. She reckoned he'd lost at least half of his ability.

A more sensitive steering charm might help, now he didn't need to fly competitively, but he wouldn't want to hear that from her. He would probably never be back where he had been before the injury, and it was obvious to Molly that was at least part of why he always seemed so angry.

She tried not to take it personally that he'd been such an ass. But really, being frustrated with his injury was no excuse for taking it out on her. She hadn't done anything to him.

Except show him everything he'd lost.

Molly pursed her lips as she watched him soaring past the hoops, and wondered if he would even accept her help if she offered it. He didn't want her help with the team, and she couldn't imagine he did with his flying. He didn't even want anyone to see him fly, obviously, since he hadn't once got on his broom during a team practice. She'd thought it odd that he never did, since coaches normally flew round shouting instructions at everyone, but she'd assumed his shoulder was too damaged to fly.

He could still fly well enough to coach. He'd have to swallow his pride and let the team see him do it.

*

Sunday evening, Molly had a standing dinner date with her parents. She hadn't been to see them in a fortnight, what with the move to Scotland and her time commitment to her new team. Her father had sent her two owls this week asking when she'd come to see them next, and she'd finally agreed to Apparate down there for dinner.

Her parents lived in the same house they'd lived in since before Molly had been born, in Devon not far from her father's childhood home. It was small and cosy, with three bedrooms and a single small bathroom. This had been a huge problem when she and her sister had been teenagers, but it seemed perfect for her parents now that both girls were living on their own.

Molly didn't bother going inside her parents' house first thing on arrival. She headed straight for the backyard, to the hill that her father always hated to mow. It had been a magical fairyland of tall grasses and wildflowers when she'd been a girl, and a refuge of solitude since reaching adulthood.

Her sister Lucy was already there, stretched out in the unmown grass and staring up at the clouds with her hands stacked on the gentle swell of her belly. Molly smiled as she hiked up to her little sister, and laid down beside her.

They stared at the sky for a while, and Molly listened to the sound of Lucy's breathing. It was peaceful, the quiet inhale and exhale against the faint sounds of nature. She almost wished she could just lie here and take a nap, if only her head didn't feel full to bursting with thoughts churning about the team and feelings she wasn't sure she should examine closely about the coach.

Then Lucy said, without turning her head, “You first.”

“My new team is a damn mess, and the coach hasn't a clue what he's doing, but he's so nice to look at. I think I fancy him a bit.” Molly sighed, her gaze still on the clouds. “Now you.”

“I can't seem to drop this baby weight. I think I've got Gran's bad genes.” Lucy blew out a breath. “I'll turn into Victoire if I have any more.”

They lay there in silence a moment, then Lucy added, “Don't tell Victoire.”

“I won't.”

“She's adorable,” Lucy went on swiftly. “It's just, well...”

“She's not married to the handsomest player in the British and Irish League and in the public eye,” Molly finished for her.

Lucy let out a tiny gasp. “Oh thanks very much, that helps loads. I was just going to say it's just I don't want to exactly weigh what Victoire weighs. Now I'll be thinking about the public eye and people saying I'm too fat for such a handsome husband.”

“Sorry.” The newspapers were bound to say it eventually. Journalists weren't known for their kindness where celebrity gossip was concerned, and now Lucy had married a celebrity, she counted for gossip. They would bring up Uncle Harry, because they always did, when they said who she was, and then they'd talk about Hilarion Winston-Fisher's wife getting chubby. Of course, you only had to be around Hilarion for thirty seconds to see he had eyes for no one but his wife. Personally, Molly thought her sister looked just fine, though it was true she was a stone heavier than she had been before the baby. “You know Dad would go round to the papers and shout at them if they said anything like that.”

Lucy smiled a bit. “True.”

“Besides, Victoire's had four children and you've only had one. It may not be too late.”

“Easy for you to say, you got Granddad's tall and thin gene.” Lucy tilted her head so it rested on her sister's shoulder. “Who's your coach?”

“Riordan Fitzroy. He used to play for the Montrose Magpies before someone hexed him and messed up his shoulder.”

“Oh, I remember him,” Lucy said thoughtfully. “He is good-looking. Hmm.”

“Don't get any ideas,” Molly warned her. “He's the coach, and he can't seem to bang two thoughts together in his head when it comes to planning. We're running drills randomly right now with no plan in place.”

“I have no idea what you're talking about with your drills. If you want to talk about Quidditch, go talk to Hilarion. I was just thinking of how Fitzroy looked, that's all. I wasn't going to suggest anything. I know how you hate stupid people.”

“He's not stupid, he's just... disorganized.”

An infant's cry made them both sit up, and Lucy's husband waved to her from the back door, their five month old daughter in his arms and a helpless expression on his face.

“Oh dear,” said Lucy as she rolled over and got to her feet.

“He looks a bit scared to be alone with her. I can't blame him,” Molly added. “I would be too. She might turn out like Rose.”

“Oh, stop. He's not scared. He just jumps to attention at her first cry. She's already got him wrapped around her tiny little fingers.” Lucy led the way down the hill.

“Time to go in anyway. Dad will be eager to get us all to the table.” Their dad, like every Weasley, loved his food and hated for dinner to be delayed.

“He can't wait to talk about your new job,” Lucy told her.

“And about Hilarion's job. The only thing Dad likes as well as having a professional Quidditch-playing daughter is having a professional Quidditch-playing son-in-law,” Molly quipped.

“Flora's hungry,” Hilarion said as soon as they reached him.

Flora let out a gurgling cry and reached for her mother. No wonder Hilarion had looked so helpless, Molly reflected as her sister carried the baby off to nurse. Until the baby was on solids, her doting father was rather useless when it came to food.

Hilarion was smiling faintly now, relieved and happy that his daughter was no longer crying. He was a simple bloke, really. So long as Lucy and Flora were content, he was happy. He wasn't the sharpest crayon in the box, but Lucy loved him, and he was nice enough. He was also extraordinarily handsome, but Molly had got used to him as a brother by now. When she thought of handsome Quidditch players now, Fitz's face immediately popped into her mind's eye, and she tried to shake it off.

“How's the new team?” he asked, breaking into Molly's reverie.

“Oh, it's...” She'd been about to say fine, but it wasn't really, and out of everyone she could talk to in confidence, Hilarion was nearly the only one who might understand and help. “Actually, could I talk to you about it for a moment? Off the record. Don't tell anyone in the League, all right?”

He pretended to zip his lips shut, and Molly smiled.

“I heard it was a bit of a mess up there,” Hilarion remarked. “The Arrows have been talking about it since Meghan McCormack offered Lizzie Keen a spot on the Prides reserve team and she turned it down.”

“It's a lot of a mess,” Molly confirmed. “The lineup is almost all former reserve players from four different teams, so you can imagine how well they're meshing so far. They need help but the coach hasn't a clue what he's about. I have a lot of ideas but he won't listen to me. You know Riordan Fitzroy is our coach now?”

He nodded.

“I offered to help arrange the training schedule and he refused point blank to even consider my suggestions. He accused me of micromanaging the team, can you believe that?” Molly could feel her cheeks growing red with her rising temper and wished for the millionth time that she didn't flush whenever she got angry. Stupid ginger complexion.

Hilarion made a sympathetic face, which Molly knew he often did when he didn't have anything useful to contribute. She tried to stifle a pang of irritation. It wasn't his fault he wasn't a strategic genius. He had a gift for Seeking but no head for dealing with people. He and Lucy were both loners.

“Fitz went drinking with me once after a game, a few years ago,” Hilarion offered. “He seemed like a decent bloke.”

“Well, he's not a decent coach. And that was before his injury. He's different now.” She remembered the feel of his hand holding hers and the look in his eyes, but it didn't entirely erase memories of him brushing off her help as if she were useless, kicking her off the pitch this morning, or his inability to arrange a competent practice schedule. His drills might have been fine for a team running at top form, but they were far from top form.

He didn't even want anyone to see him fly a broom. Molly sighed. The old Fitz might have been fun at the pub, and he might still be a decent bloke, but the new Fitz was prickly, sensitive, and angry. And not a very good coach. That was the Fitz she had to deal with.

“Dinner!” called her mother's voice, and Hilarion perked up.

“Thanks, Hilarion,” Molly said, because he obviously wanted to leave. He was no help anyway, except as someone to listen and not spread rumours.

“Yeah. Sorry, I'm not very good at this,” he said disarmingly, and Molly immediately felt bad for being uncharitable.

“That's okay. I appreciate the sympathy.”

Their family table had been expanded to fit the new addition to their small group when Lucy had married. Before, the four of them had each had their own side, but now the square was extended, sitting Lucy and her husband on one side and Molly by herself across from them. It made Molly feel very aware of being single and nearly thirty. It was not a particularly enjoyable feeling.

Her father sat at the head of the table, as always, and smiled fondly at the lot of them. Percy Weasley was a doting (if rather pushy) father, and had recently discovered a propensity to utterly spoil his first grandchild. Molly liked to joke that this was the Weasley brother competitiveness - after all, he couldn't very well let Uncle Bill and Uncle Ron spoil their grandchildren more than he did. Her mother, Audrey, looked on this with the long-suffering patience of a saint, as she had done with virtually everything her husband did so long as Molly could remember.

Audrey was slender and had thin, greying brown hair and kind brown eyes. She had produced two daughters with extremely red curls and blue eyes, who looked far more like their father than they did her. Molly often wondered what it must be like to marry into a family with such dominant genes. You could always tell a Weasley. At fifty paces, usually.

Percy watched his wife and Lucy setting the food on the table. "Is Flora asleep already? I didn't get to hold her but a minute or two."

"She passes right out after a feed, Dad, sorry," Lucy told him cheerfully. "I put her down in the travel cot in the living room."

"Oh." Their dad looked disappointed but rallied quickly, picking up a serving spoon and heaping mashed parsnip onto his plate. "Well, plenty of time later, I suppose. Molly, how's your new job going?"

Molly managed a pleasant smile. "Just fine, Dad, thanks."

Hilarion frowned, pausing in mid-helping of pot roast. "I thought you said-"

Molly kicked him under the table, and he shut up, but it was too late. Percy zeroed in on her, looking down his long nose over the rims of his glasses.

"Now, Molly. Is something wrong? You've not even been there a month yet. Are they not appreciating your talent properly?"

Bless him for not thinking it was her fault. She smiled, this time a real one. "Not that, Dad. It's just a bit chaotic right now, with an almost entirely new team and a new coach. We're not very organized yet."

"Well, that shouldn't be a problem for you," Percy said briskly, forking up some stewed greens. "You've always been perfectly organized. Time to show off those leadership skills that made you prefect and Head Girl, I should think."

"I'm trying to." Despite much opposition from the bloody coach, who didn't seem to want anyone to lead, himself included.

"Take a more active role. If they haven't made you team captain by the time the season starts, I'll be very surprised."

"Thanks, Dad."

"I'm serious," Percy insisted. "You've always been under-appreciated in the league. I always said that when you were with the Harpies. Putting you as a reserve player. You're at least as good as my sister was, and she wasn't on the reserves."

"I'm not married to Harry Potter, though," Molly joked dryly. Saying she was as good or better than Aunt Ginny was a bit difficult to argue. Aunt Ginny had been very good in her day, but she'd played a different position. It was apples to oranges, really.

Lucy chuckled. "Maybe you should've found a famous bloke to marry, and then they would've made you a starter."

"At least you'd be married," their mother muttered.

"That didn't work for Mariah Waldman," Hilarion pointed out. "She married Riordan Fitzroy when he was a star Chaser and she was only on the reserves. She never made it off the bench. Still hasn't."

"Isn't he your coach now? Fitzroy?" asked Percy.

Molly nodded. "I don't think he had any coaching experience, though."

"Well, if he's not pulling his weight, you can show him how it's done." Percy winked at her. "Maybe he can have a few lessons, eh? Show him the Weasley way. We're good at Quidditch and good at leadership. Just look at your uncles. And your old dad."

Molly wondered how the conversation had got so out of control. She hadn't meant to talk about it this much with them. Bloody Hilarion. At least Lucy could keep her trap shut about Molly's admission that she fancied Fitz. Lucy was an excellent secret keeper. Shame her husband didn't always think ahead.

"Must we talk about sports at the dinner table?" Audrey said then, sounding more resigned than irritated. She was not a Quidditch enthusiast and often complained about discussing it nonstop. Molly privately thought this was a losing battle. They'd been discussing Quidditch in some way at every family meal since she'd made the Gryffindor team at fourteen.

"We're not talking about sport, we're talking about Molly's job," Percy objected.

Audrey rolled her eyes and diverted the conversation. "Lucy, how's your shop coming along?"

Molly ate in silence for a bit as her sister discussed the finer points of running a small bookstore with an infant daughter in tow. As much as she appreciated her father's confidence that she could get the team in shape - and she rather thought she could, at that - it wasn't possible without overriding the coach. Not that he was doing terribly well with coaching. She wanted to alter his drills every time he presented them. He wasn't bad with the Chasers, but he seemed to have no idea what to do with the Seeker or Keeper and only a rough idea that the Beaters ought to be able to aim. Having been a Chaser himself, she wasn't entirely surprised by this. A lot of them felt their position was the most valuable and therefore most worthy of focus.

Maybe she would just ignore him for her own drills and see what happened. Then maybe she'd set some new drills for Jinks, who mostly floated on his broom and napped out of eyesight in training. He needed a good swift kick in the arse. And Preece and Gittins, they both needed more direction to prop them out of their beer-swilling evenings. They'd been to six practices now with hangovers. Molly had been keeping track.

It might not be such a bad idea, actually. It was sure to royally piss off Fitz, but weighed against the possibility of winning some games, perhaps that wasn't so important. Besides, he might come around. He wouldn't sack her, because they didn't have a reserve Keeper. She doubted McCormack would let him even if he tried. Really, short of annoying a man she was attracted to, there wasn't much wrong with the plan.

And besides, she rationalized, it wasn't as if she planned to do anything about the attraction. He might make her skin tingle when he touched her, but he was pricklier than a knarl and she did not have time right now for a high-maintenance man.


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