Chapter 1 : It Happened in August
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A few notes about this story: It is based on my two previous novels, Keep Away and Hide and Seek, but it built to be a stand-alone novel. AKA you do NOT have to read those to read this one. The other two follow Gee's parents, Oliver Wood and Jane Perry (spoilers, they get together) and their relationship. This story is Gee's, but will feature her parents and relatives.
Also. This is AU. When I wrote Keep Away, I did it pushing aside the Voldemort plot (gasp) and making some other choices. Because of the story structure, Fred Weasley is alive in this. A lot of things remain the same, but if you want the cliffnotes version: Fred and Angelina are together, George and Katie Bell are together, and Alicia and Lee Jordan are together. That's really all you need other than Jane, my OC, was the reserve Seeker for Gryffindor.
Otherwise, you're good to tackle this beast without any other information. It is Gee's story after all.
Thanks to those who haven't stopped pestering me to continue the Wood story and those who have also wanted an Albus/OC for a while. Two birds. Or brooms?
My name is Georgiana Wood.
My father is Oliver Wood. Yes, the Puddlemere Keeper. You’ve heard of him or you’ve seen past issues of Quidditch Weekly with his half-naked torso covering the front. Not awkward at all.
My mother is Jane Wood. She’s a freelance journalist who writes for all sorts of Quidditch magazines and sporting newspapers. She knows the sport better than Dad. It was from her I got my patience and unwavering stubbornness. Thanks, Mum.
I have a younger sister called Aurelia who only wants something to do with me when I’m spending time with my mates. She’s gone through humiliating crushes on most of my guy friends, going so far as to sit by me in the Great Hall and tell them stories about my childhood. These include bed-wetting and falling-off-broom stories.
My mates call me Gee. My professors call me Georgiana. My family calls me whatever they can figure out in the moment. Usually for Dad that means “Georelia.”
Why am I going through all this nonsense?
Because you need to know. Everyone knows my parents’ story. It was all over the papers. How they met. How they got together. How they fell in love and got married and blah blah blah.
But no one knows my story.
At Hogwarts, your last name meant something. It wasn’t like pureblood nonsense, but it gave you perks other kids didn’t have. Smiles from professors, looks from boys, and great seats at sporting events being a few. I tried not to cash in on these unless I really needed them, but when second year came around the then-captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team approached me and asked if I would try out.
His name was Joey and he was absolutely gorgeous. I’d grown up playing Quidditch with my parents in the garden, so I tried out. I made Keeper that year and quite a few enemies with the higher years.
I wasn’t nearly the legend my father was, but I was good enough to send us to the Cup Final that year, which was lost while Joey was sobbing, hanging off his broom. Not gracefully. We finally won it my fourth year and the year after, but lost spectacularly my sixth year when three new Chasers joined the team fresh out of diapers. We also got a new captain that year and I started dating the reserve Keeper, Matteo.
None of those things are related. Ish.
Anyway, we regrouped after not making the final and hashed out some plans at a team meeting that made me want to pull out all of my hair and replace it with pasta. Albus Potter (Captain) made a list of goals to accomplish our seventh year in order to win the Cup.
Goal 1: Get better at Quidditch.
Goal 2: Get even better than that at Quidditch.
Goal 3: Do not sass the Captain.
Goal 4: Learn how to talk crap.
Goal 5: Win.
It was a wimpy list at best and I never understood how it took him several hours to get through. It relied heavily on self-control and talent, two things I didn’t have an abundance of.
Pfft. Get better at Quidditch. Sod off, Potter.
I know, I know. This is the part in the story where I tell you that, like my parents, we loathed each other and then got drunk and fell happily in love when he captured me during a Quidditch match after my amazing Snitch catch.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
I never hated Albus Potter. He was a fine Captain who knew the game. I was never Captain material, so I never tried for it (even though Dad encouraged me to do so). Albus was just a regular bloke in my year who bordered on snobby and used a lint roller before class. Every once in a while he would ask me a question off the pitch, but it was rare. Besides, he was too obsessive about Quidditch. Not the good kind of obsessive.
The my-father kind of obsessive.
Also I didn’t play Seeker, so I wouldn’t be catching the Snitch. Albus played Seeker so he could bloody catch himself and fall in love with himself while he was at it.
Matteo was strong, athletic, had a great smile, and was good at Quidditch. A lot of younger girls fancied him.
He was a year my junior and we were properly acquainted when he tried out for the Keeper position the year before. He got a bit lippy with me about my form and I told him not to let the door hit him in the arse on the way out when he didn’t get signed, the jackass. He got signed, we got drunk and snogged at the party, then he asked me out for lemonade.
We spent my sixth year shooting each other glances across the pitch and sticking out our tongues to Al’s retreating back. Who could blame us? We were still sassing our Captain then.
Everything was easier then.
And that’s just what a person looking back would say, wouldn’t they?
It happened in August.
Aurelia and I were staying with Granddad Perry at his house in the country. We were always there for most of the summer since we liked him best and he didn’t give us a bedtime. Mum and Dad were off doing press and a tour of the new stadium in the States.
The house in the country was brilliant. A bedroom downstairs where Granddad stayed and an upstairs with three beds. It overlooked a pond and some rolling hills and sometimes there were ducks. Aurelia had taken to chasing the ducks (even at fourteen) and then slipping on duck droppings and, well, you can guess how that ended.
I loved spending time there. As kids, Granddad would read us stories to fall asleep by. He started reading us Jane Austen when I was eight, said it had been in our family for a while.
In the middle of August, Granddad read us a chapter and turned off the light. He said, “Sleep well. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Then he closed the door with a tiny snap and disappeared. I heard his heavy footfalls on the steps.
“Are there bed bugs?” Aurelia said curiously. She was on the bottom bunk.
“Sure,” I said. “But not here.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I know everything.”
“Then how did you not realize Matteo has been on the other side of the shed since after dinner?”
I sat up so fast my head almost hit the low ceiling. “What?” I climbed down the bed and pressed my face against the cool window glass. “I don’t see anyone.”
“There’s a boot poking out. How daft are you? It’s not anyone coming to see me.”
I squinted. She was right. There was a black boot sticking out from the edge of the shed. It moved. It was either Matteo or a killer waiting for the lamp to be put out to come murder us and then rob Granddad of his Quidditch collector items.
“I’m going out there.”
“No shit,” muttered Aurelia. She rolled over, dark hair spilling over the pillow. “Go on, you’re breathing like a dog.”
She was a gem, my baby sister. About to be a fourth year and already preparing her speeches to my friends all over again.
I made a face. “There is no way I can make it down the side of the house.”
“I did it last summer.”
She groaned. “I’m really glad I don’t have to wait for you to be married before I can date,” she said. “You’re the worst. Just put your foot on the sill and slide down the pipe.”
“This isn’t a rom-com,” I hissed.
“Then sit up here and go to bed instead of getting a snog. I don’t care. Just stop breathing so damn loud.” The bed squeaked as she moved around again. Then she made a disgruntled sigh.
“Fine.” I slid open the window and did exactly what she said.
It didn’t occur to me until my balance slipped and I fell sideways off the sill that my sister was lying and also that the boot was probably not Matteo at all.
I wished those things had occurred to me before I was in a hospital bed in St. Mungos trying to think of colorful phrases to direct at my sister.
“How was I supposed to know she was going to jump?” Aurelia was yelling in the hallway. Mum was screaming at her. Literally, just screaming at her about how stupid she was being and why would you tell your sister something like that and why the hell was there a boot by the shed and how could Granddad not pick that up because it was just laying there pretending to be a boy.
Dad was at my bedside holding a newspaper but not really reading. He still looked the same as when I was growing up. Mum used to say he was “aging well.” That’s what all the magazines said. They still loved him. He had so many Cup Rings he had to store them in a vault at Gringotts.
No, not a dragon vault. But I told my mates it was.
“You look like hell,” Dad said, making a face. He masked his worry like that. Pretended it wasn’t there.
“Feel like it,” I said. I shrugged and winced.
“Did you really almost off yourself for a bloke?”
“You make it sound very Juliet.”
Dad grimaced. “I don’t know that Matteo is worth climbing out of a window, is all.”
I folded my arms. “Not again. We’ve been together months. He’s worth climbing out a window for, trust me.”
“I hope so.” Dad pulled out a copy of Quidditch Weekly and leaned back in the chair just as the Healer walked in. Mum and Aurelia’s voices were magnified. They were now yelling about the state of our room at Granddad’s house and why did we not pick up after ourselves?
Dad and I attempted to ignore this as Healer Zet (yes, attractive) rubbed his lips together while looking at my chart. He wasn’t old, either. Maybe Dad would approve Zet over Matteo. I didn’t hate the idea.
“Physically, you’re not too bad,” Healer Zet said. He wasn’t looking at me. “Some broken bones we’re working on and a lot of pulled muscles and scrapes.”
There was silence to which Dad interrupted by saying, “Rubbish way to start a diagnosis. Physically. So what’s the bloody damage then?”
Zet breathed out through his nose. “It appears you hit your head on the way down and are showing signs of neurological trauma. We’re not sure what it is yet – have to run some tests – but it’s looking like you’ll have to do a lot of therapy. We’ll give you medication for the pain.”
“Wait,” I said. “What?”
“What does that mean? Can she play Quidditch?” Oh, Dad. You’re a peach.
Zet looked over, startled. “No, of course she can’t play Quidditch. She has neurological damage and we aren’t sure how bad. We’ll run some tests, but the way it’s looking right now she’ll have to stay away from high-energy activities for at least six months. She can do her therapy sessions at Hogwarts, though. We’ll have one of our Healers come in once a week for it.”
“Six months?” Dad said, mouth hanging lopsided.
I was so busy soaking in the information I forgot to react.
I was in a bed with all white bedding and prints of ugly paintings on the walls. It was a private room. Vertical plastic blinds were over the windows.
And I couldn’t play Quidditch.
Not that Quidditch was my entire life – I didn’t have the talent for it to be – but it sure as hell was a big part of it. My friends were either on the team or deeply rooted in painting their faces for the games. Aurelia was rubbish at it.
I could do other things, sure. Matteo was a fine replacement.
Oh, who was I kidding? Seeing WOOD on the back of my robes was something I’d never willingly give up.
But now, in the white bed, I was being forced to give it up.
“I can give you more definitive timelines once the results come back,” Healer Zet was saying to Dad. “Otherwise, it’ll take her about a week to recover from the physical damage.”
“You said medication for the pain,” I added, sitting up. My ribs ached. “What did you mean?”
“From the stats it’s looking like you’ll be prone to headaches at least until the therapy is complete,” Zet replied. “I’ll give you medication to lessen the pain so you can function at a normal level.”
What a choice phrase. Function at a normal level.
Yesterday I was normal. Just turned seventeen. Quidditch Keeper. About to go into my last year of school with friends, a boyfriend, and somewhat of a future. Today I will be given pills to function normally.
Son of a bitch.
Dad lay with me in the bed for a while after we told Mum and Aurelia what the Healer had said. They left to get frozen yogurt for the family. We had a few owls already from relatives asking if everything was okay. Dad scribbled quick responses from beside me and sent them off again.
He was being very quiet.
“It’s only six months,” I said casually.
“Maybe the pills taste like lemon drops.”
“The sweet or the alcoholic beverage?” Dad asked.
“The sweet, who do you think I am?”
“I’ve seen you throw back a glass of chardonnay, missy.” He cracked a smile. “Don’t think I wasn’t watching.” He was referring to the Christmas party last year where I decided chardonnay tasted like sweets and then regretted it the following morning.
I smiled. He smiled back at me.
We both watched the sun start to sink between the vertical blinds.
“Are you disappointed?” I asked.
“A little,” Dad said honestly. “Not in you, though. Just in the situation. Strange how life works, isn’t it? Some things work out. Some things don’t.”
“What if I never play Quidditch again?” It was something I hadn’t thought until that very moment. What if I didn’t? What would I do?
Did I have any actual talents? Of course I did. Just couldn’t think of them right then.
“Then you don’t,” Dad said matter-of-factly. “You don’t need a sport to be extraordinary. I did, but you don’t, Gee.”
Mum and Aurelia came back after a while. We ate frozen yogurt and didn’t talk about my brain or Quidditch or the hospital.
We also didn’t talk about whether or not Matteo was worth falling off a house for.
That was it, then.
It happened and one day I was normal and the next I wasn’t. That’s just how life is, isn’t it? One day you’re one thing and the next you’re someone completely different.
I went with Mum and Aurelia to get our things from Diagon Alley. I had to sit down after a while and take a pill for the headache. I had some ice cream and avoided eye contact with anyone from Hogwarts.
“Sure you’re going to be all right?” Mum asked, placing several shopping bags on the empty seat beside me.
“Really. I’m fine.” I motioned to the ice cream place and outdoor seating. “I think I’ll survive this. If I don’t, give Dad my love.”
She rolled her eyes. “Anything else you want? Light reading? Romance novel?”
“I’d rather not,” I said and she and Aurelia left to get our school books.
I was to keep watch over the shopping bags and the delicious bowl of vanilla ice cream. I had that one down and probably looked like a heathen just shoving it in my face.
I couldn’t play Quidditch anymore. I’d eat all the sodding ice cream I wanted.
More than that, even.
I glanced up, the spoon sticking lopsided out of my mouth. “Hey, Potter.”
Captain Albus Potter slowed as he walked by. He had a Quality Quidditch Supplies bag in his hand, new pads sticking out the top. “Here for your books or some new gear?”
Right in the heart.
“Books this time,” I said, hoping he would go away.
“Fancy that.” Albus shrugged a little. He looked like his dad, just like everyone said he did. Same mop-top hair, same green eyes, though he didn’t usually wear glasses unless he was in the common room. Slender build. Typical Seeker, at any rate.
“Right.” I went back to my ice cream.
“See you at first practice then,” he said.
Albus stopped a meter from the table. “You okay, Wood?”
The spoon was sticking out of my mouth again and I could feel my eyes narrow. “Do I look okay to you?”
“No. That’s why I asked.”
“Then why would you ask if you know the answer?”
I groaned. “I’m alive. That’s better than dead.”
“Anything I can do?” Albus asked.
I considered this for a moment. “Do you think Matteo is a good Keeper?”
There was a brief pause in which I’m certain Albus was pondering the likeliness of me throwing the bowl of ice cream at him if he answered incorrectly. “He’s all right,” he said eventually. “Decent reserve. We could probably find someone better for reserve.”
I was hoping he would say Matteo was brilliant but because of my last name I was still the starting Keeper but if I didn’t get my act together he’d bench me.
But he didn’t.
“Would you hold tryouts?” I asked.
“Why?” Albus’s hands were on the back of the chair opposite my own. “What’s happened, Wood?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” I grumbled.
“I should probably find out now, don’t you think?”
“Not really, as I’d rather not talk about it now.” I was feeling midly angst-ridden that day. You could hardly blame me.
“Wood.” Albus slid into the empty chair. The only empty chair, given Mum’s shopping. “What’s going on?” I had to hand it to him. He played a very convincing concerned captain.
He’d always been nice enough, but concern wasn’t something he had unless it had to do with Quidditch. And bingo, here it was.
I dropped the spoon into the melting ice cream and looked up, planting a fake smile on my face. “Did you get all the books?” I asked.
“You didn’t tell my Albus Potter Quidditch Captain was stopping by,” she said in her fluttery, flirty voice. She leaned her hip against his chair and curled her fingers around her dark hair. That’s what she called him. Albus Potter Quidditch Captain.
One of the few people she hadn’t yet humiliated me in front of, as we didn’t hang out outside of the pitch. This was as perfect a time as any.
“I wasn’t informed,” I replied. Dryly.
“I was just saying hi to your sister,” Albus said, clearly caught off guard by the fourth year now at his elbow. Staring down at him. With lust in her goddamn eyes.
“Were you?” Aurelia said. “She probably needs it. She’s been eating loads lately.”
Albus shot me a puzzled look. I shrugged and motioned to the ice cream.
“I mean, with her brain problems and all, she needs all the friends she can get.”
“You’re charming,” I snapped.
Aurelia ignored me. “Did she tell you then?” she whispered.
“Aurelia,” I interjected. “This isn’t your business.”
“Tell me what?” Albus pressed.
In that moment, I wanted to leave. Or throw the ice cream at both of them. Or throw Bludgers at both of them. Yes, the last.
“Tell you that vanilla is my favorite flavor of ice cream and that Aurelia fancies a Slytherin?” I said.
“What?” Albus said.
“I HATE EVERYTHING.” Aurelia was going through that all-caps point in her life. Everything was either ruining her life or making it wonderful. Mostly the first, though, when it came to family.
“Who?” Albus said, interested. I had no idea why.
“Nevermind,” Aurelia snapped. “MUM.” She marched off toward Flourish and Blotts were I could see Mum paying through the window.
“What’s she on about?” Albus asked, turning back to me. He looked concerned again. “And why would she fancy a Slytherin?”
“Marches to her own beat,” I said, gathering up the bags. “See you at King’s Cross, Potter.” I smiled and left him there.
To his own credit, Albus Potter did not follow me. Perhaps he knew the bags were heavy and would cause severe bruising to his face if he did so.
There was one person I needed to talk to before I went back to school. Before I had to face my mates and tell them what happened. Before I had to tell Matteo he would be the starter. Before I had to admit to Albus I was no longer able to function normally.
The one person who always understood.
Okay, so she wasn’t actually my aunt by any blood, but Mum and Dad were both only children so I ended up with their friends as relatives. It worked out fine for me since they were brilliant. And I got enormous discounts at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
Aunt Alicia and Uncle Lee didn’t have any kids. They weren’t the ‘kid having’ sort of people and I didn’t blame them. I didn’t think I was either. They had a great big bulldog that snored and recently got a kitten that bounced all over it and the rest of the flat.
When I was growing up, Aunt Alicia quickly assumed the role of ‘cool aunt.’ She gave us sweets and advice years too mature for our age. She told us the truth, which I admired. I listened to her radio show all the time.
“Gee!” Alicia cried, throwing open the door so hard it hit the wall. She seemed unfazed. “What’re you doing here?” She pulled me into a massive hug. “Aren’t you supposed to be packing? Is it Matteo? Did you two shag because I’m telling you, you should have waited.”
“What?” I said, closing the door. “No, we didn’t shag. I haven’t seen him in two weeks.”
“What’s he off doing then?” She led me into the kitchen and put a kettle on.
“Quidditch practice,” I said. I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.
“Dull.” Alicia grimaced and hopped onto the kitchen counter. “To what do I owe this pleasure? I heard you were in the hospital the other day, hmm? You doing okay? I didn’t want to pester Jane if it was serious…”
Serious. Define serious.
“I need to tell you something because I need your advice.” I sank into one of the torn kitchen chairs. Bugs (the bulldog) liked to gnaw on things when no one was petting him.
“Listening,” Alicia said. She was swinging her legs. Hadn’t aged a day for as long as I could remember. Still beautiful and tall and thin and sassy.
“I can’t play Quidditch.”
“How do you mean? Like you got kicked off the team or you’re protesting the use on certain leathers they use to make Quaffles?”
“What? No. I have…well, I have sodding brain damage and I can’t do anything high-energy for at least six months.”
“Does sex count as high energy?”
I ignored her. “At least six months. So I have to quit the team. I need your advice on how to do that and how to figure out what I’m supposed to do now.”
Her mouth opened and closed a few times.
“Ah. Yes. Um.” She pulled the kettle off and fixed us each a cup of tea. “Brain damage? What did you do?”
“Fell off the side of a house trying to get a snog,” I muttered.
“Addagirl,” she said. “Don’t look so serious. You’re going to be fine. Just do something else instead. You’re stupidly talented. Hell, you have too much talent. I’ll take some if you’re just handing it over. You make the rest of your school look like tarts.”
“You’re laying it on thick.”
She smirked. “If you can’t play, do something else. Focus on your studies.” We both laughed. “Do entertainment. Write. Read. Go find a boy from Brazil and I’ll live vicariously through you. Sing. Dance. Start a club. Start a revolution. Just because you’re good at this one thing doesn’t mean it’s the rest of your life. Look at me. I played all through Hogwarts and I’m not playing now. Neither are Fred and George. And Katie.” The rest of the long list of aunts and uncles, except Aunt Angelina, of course, who was actually still playing Quidditch.
“What would you do?” I asked, sipping at the tea. I suddenly found myself nervous.
“I’d remember that I could do anything and no one could stop me,” she said.
“You think Dad’s disappointed?”
“I think he’s probably shocked,” Alicia replied honestly. “Give him time. He is probably disappointed for you, not at you. I’m not, though.”
“Because you were too limited. Now you’re not. Go do everything.”
I leaned back against the cool metal of the chair. “And how do I tell Albus?”
“Oh yeah, Albus Potter’s your captain, isn’t he?” Aunt Alicia said, biting her lip. “You could always tell him at the Weasley picnic they have before the runts go back to school.”
“I’d rather not,” I said.
“Yeah, Matteo wouldn’t like you having that chardonnay and snogging some other bloke, would he?” She snickered.
“I am never going to live that down.”
“It’s better that you just accept it.” She shrugged. “Just tell him the first day back then. ‘Oy, Potter, I fell off a house and I can’t play Quidditch. Thanks for a fun few years and some Cups. It’s been real.’ Then smile really pretty and walk away. Also sway your hips. You have to make an exit.”
“You’re a woman. Don’t ask questions.”
I laughed and nodded. “Whatever you say.”
“The quicker you accept that, the better.”
A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed the introduction to Gee's life. Please feel free to share your thoughts in a review - it really helps me plan out the stories!
Admitedly, it's nice to get into the head of a Wood again. Gee has Jane's wit, humor, and stubbornness while getting Oliver's Quidditch abilities/tact and temper.
UP NEXT: Back to Hogwarts. Gee as a hard time both holding onto a not spilling her secret. Tries to hold onto 'normal' as long as possible.
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