Oliver loves his Curling...or he might, if he knew what it was.
Chapter 4: The Spirit of Curling
Alhazred - ssjDOTAlhazredATgmailDOTcom
Not For Profit work. Harry Potter and related materials © J.K. Rowling.
"Let's see," Oliver flipped a page in the book, and started reading aloud. "'Place the parchment over the intended embroidery spot, and then perform the charm. It's that simple!' I certainly hope so..."
Shoving his copy of "101 Useful Spells for the Modern Homemaker" further down his small table, Oliver made sure his jacket was laid out perfectly straight. He'd taken a thick quill and carefully wrote out "WOOD" on a little slip of parchment the same size as the empty name patch on the right side, a slip of parchment that he carefully placed over it. Painstakingly making sure that it was lined up perfectly, he stood up, glanced back at the book to make sure he knew the incantation, and picked up his wand.
"Plumaria!" At first, he was worried it hadn't worked. Slowly, though, the ink on the parchment faded, drained downward as if it was too thin to be held. When Oliver plucked it off, he found his last name expertly embroidered on the jacket in black thread. It was perfect. "Alright!"
Scarcely was he celebrating the accomplishment when a medium-size grey owl flew in through the open window. At first, he assumed it had to have been from his parents. They were sending an obsessive number of owls, he'd already gotten four of them earlier in the morning. He'd heard of empty nest syndrome, but this was ridiculous.
And then Oliver noticed that the owl had a small, owl-sized navy-blue scarf wrapped around it, the color almost a dead match for his jacket. One end of the scarf was topped off with a Puddlemere united patch.
Wondering why he was getting team-related mail at the moment, Oliver plucked the letter off of the Owl's leg and sent the bird on its way. He unrolled it, but a knock on the door stopped him before he could start reading. "Uh...one second!"
Tucking the letter into his pocket, he moved back to the table and slammed the book closed, set his wand down next to it, and threw the jacket on top. He wouldn't admit to owning that book even if a wizard happened to be knocking anyway.
If there were other wizards around, Oliver didn't know about them. Still, he was slightly surprised at finding his waitress from the diner greeting him. "Oh...hey! I totally forgot you said we live in the same building..."
With a shrug, Jessica answered, "No worries. Just thought I'd come by and give you a proper welcome...no one else in the building ever seems to notice anything going on." She walked in when he gestured for her to do so, "I was going to drag my roommate down too, but he he's at work." Pulling her hands out from behind her back, she revealed a good-sized plate with several good-sized chocolate-chip cookies on it, snugly sealed with saran wrap. "Anyway...welcome to the building."
"Oh, well, thanks you!" Oliver found himself. He couldn't help but notice that Jessica had Katie's hair color. He knew it was stupid to think of something like that, and it flustered him to think that such a thing could set him off, but he still had her wand in his pocket. Shoving his hand in, he wrapped his fingers around the end of it. "Hey, my name's Oliver, by the way."
Jessica had become wrapped up in looking around at the still-bare apartment. "Jessica...but you probably noticed that yesterday?"
"Well," Oliver answered, setting the plate down and working at unwrapping the plastic. It seemed only polite to try one now, and besides, he hadn't had a lot of home cooked food lately, not since he and Katie had set off on the run. "Pleased to meet you...and these are very good, by the way."
"Well, they better be," she chuckled. "Two years into culinary school, I'd be in trouble if I couldn't make cookies yet." Taking another glance around the room, she eyed the jacket on the table. "Oh, hey. You must've gotten that at the surplus store?"
"Yeah," Oliver nodded. "I'd already put it on yesterday, actually."
His intention hadn't been to make her feel stupid, but she didn't seem to care much. With an eye roll, she said, "Sorry, I stop noticing simple things after I've been at work for a few hours." Glancing around, she added, "So, settled in already?"
She'd said it with such a straight face that Oliver couldn't help but make sure that his boxes were still in their neat little pile. "Not even a little. I was going to get started, just...don't know where to start getting started."
"Well," she said, "I'll give you a hand if you like...not like I'm doing anything better, and you...don't seem to have all that much anyway. Something against furniture?"
"Huh?" Taking his own look around the nearly empty living room, Oliver was reminded of the fact that his boxes contained literally everything he owned, save for his bed and the few things he'd grown up with in his bedroom at home. The small desk tucked nicely against one wall was really the most interesting thing. "Oh, I, uh...just don't have a lot in the way of money right now...I'll get some when work starts up again in a month or so."
"Huh," she nodded. It didn't quite make sense, why someone would move into their own place without the funds to pay for furnishings, but she didn't ask him to explain what she was missing. "Don't know what I'd do without the telly, myself. I suppose there's not much point in unpacking if you've got nowhere to put it, still seems a little depressing, though."
"Yeah," Oliver admitted. "I'll get over it...truth be told I won't be around all that much once practice starts anyway?"
Her eyebrows raised, Jessica asked, "Practice? You play sports then?"
"Yeah," Oliver nodded. Remembering the owl he'd gotten he picked the letter back up from the table. "Well, I'm only on the reserve, but it pays the bills, you know?" He hadn't planned on doing more than skimming the letter right that second, but when his eyes caught sight of the word 'killed,' his eyes grew a little wider and he started over from the beginning. "Hang on a minute..."
Sorry to drop this on you less than a month before practice starts, but we've had a hell of a time getting all re-organized now that You-Know-Who's gone and Quidditch can go normally.
I'll not beat around the bush. It turns out we didn't get out of the whole thing without a loss; Pickman is gone. When everyone went on the lamb I didn't hear much at all so I didn't think anything of it, but I know it was foolish to keep being optimistic when I never heard from him after the end. I've just gotten a letter from his family myself, who apparently just now heard from the Aurors. They just recently identified his body, and it seems he was killed during the Diagon Alley Massacre. If half the reports of that nuttery are true, it's safe to say he went down fighting the bloody Death Eaters with everything he had.
From a gaming standpoint (naturally I don't intent to sound heartless, but this is my job after all, and he'd certainly want us to move on instead of crying) we could count ourselves lucky compared to some of the other teams, I don't think the Tornados will even make the league this year. That aside, we obviously need a replacement Chaser.
You're it. I know you're more comfortable as Keeper, but you're the best at everything of all the reserves. As well as you should be, since you've had the patience to stick around since you finished at Hogwarts. Just show up for practice like normal, only difference is you'll be practicing with the main team. Send me letter if you have any questions.
P. S.: Apologies for the owl regarding your current residence in a Muggle neighborhood, I'm in a rush. Will endeavor to use the Muggle post next time.
"Merlin's beard," Oliver muttered. "I...I'm on the team." Reading over the last paragraph again, he could scarcely believe it. "I'm...someone...someone died and they're pulling me off the reserves to replace him."
Fortunately, Jessica wasn't oblivious to the conflicting emotions the news had brought. "Well, that's the world for you, isn't any good news that can't come along with something bad, is there?"
"Yeah," Oliver rolled the parchment back up. He was happy, he really was, but he would celebrate later when he'd mourned for his teammate. Not that he and Pickman had ever played a game together, but that didn't matter much. "I...still. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember. Maybe instead of bad news, I'll look at it like motivation to make sure I don't screw it up."
He grabbed another one of Jessica's cookies, barely noticing when she pulled one of the chairs out and sat down, legs crossed. "What sport do you play, anyway? I confess I'm a bit of a football fan...Conner, my roommate, he's sort-of dragged me into it lately."
"Huh?" Oliver blinked, his voice muffled since his mouth was full. Instantly, his mind shot back to a single page in the "Wizard's Guide to Muggle Living," the one that mentioned what a Quidditch player should say if a Muggle ever asked them this very question. He suddenly regretted not reading the rest of the section, as he imagined it would've told him about the sport he was going to fake being a part of in case he was ever pried for details.
Swallowing hard, he realized he must've looked nervous, but he couldn't help himself. "Uh...Curling?"
Much to his surprise, Jessica tilted her head ever so slightly and blinked once. She looked like she'd suffered a terrible let-down. "That's...interesting...so you'll be at the Winter Olympics, then?"
"I only hope," he smiled. He knew the word 'Olympics' meant to a Muggle the same thing 'Quidditch World Cup' meant to a Quidditch player, but he wondered what Curling must've been like, for someone to assume that "being on the team" was synonymous with 'being at the Olympics.' "Just gotta do what I always do, give it my all and hope for the best."
Looking back over his boxes yet again, Jessica stood back up. "Let's celebrate. I'll buy you a drink. Better than moping over your boxes, right? We can drag Conner out, too, he should be getting out of work soon. You must've met him when you bought your jacket."
Hearing her roommate's name again, Oliver felt the little revelation sink in, remembering the clerk's nametag. "Oh, right! Yeah...yeah! Why not?"
He could tell from her tone of voice that when she said 'moping over your boxes,' she really meant 'moping over your teammate's death,' but he didn't say anything. He had something to do besides sit in an empty flat, and he was making friends in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
All in all, things could've been worse.