Hello to any first-time readers! For those who may be confused, this is actually a side story to a series that I've started in an ongoing next generation universe around the children of Oliver Wood. It's actually a gift to folks who became fans of Coach Nilsson in Life & Times (and honestly, I became a fan as I was writing, so it's a labor of love that I'm glad to undertake.)

I would recommend reading my stories Surviving Hogwarts and Life &Times of a Flaming Pixie first. Though you could probably get by with just Life & Times, as this takes place during that one. If you really want to go back, you can start with the very first story, Saving Iris and work up from there.

Anyway, any original characters from the books and the world belong to JK Rowling. Everything else is mine.

The rookie was going to be the death of him, of that Lucas was sure.

It wasn't the death-defying stunts she performed on the pitch. No, those he had full confidence she could perform without chance of getting seriously hurt. But her personal life drama was constantly creating headaches. It wasn't so much that he found them annoying. Moreso he wanted to protect her from such things, but was limited in his capacity as a coach.

He barely held it together in the hospital after they had rushed there from the pitch after the Falcons match, getting flashbacks of that day that changed his life nearly four years ago. After leaving, he went home to his cottage in a small village outside London and had smashed half his plates in anger and frustration. He had picked up a bottle of vodka on the way home in a sort of stupor, even though he hadn't had a drop of alcohol in nearly four years.

She was hurt and there hadn't been a damn thing he could have done to have stopped it or protect her.

He sat at the kitchen table staring at the bottle. Debating back and forth with himself.

"It'll feel better after just one drink…"

"But what if I don't stop…"

"You will stop… You need this…"

"But last time…"

"This isn't last time… It'll help you sleep…"

"I can't be like I was…"

"You know you want to go break his nose… you'll feel better if you do…"

The old demons that he thought he had silenced years ago were rearing their ugly heads, urging him to act on his dark instincts. Go find the fucking Falcons seeker and beat him to a bloody pulp. Drink until all he could feel was dull numbness. He sat at the table staring at the bottle, clenching and unclenching his fists.

It was like this that his old friend Hugo Larssen had found him. As soon as he had heard about the accident, he went to the hospital, only to find that Lucas had left. He then immediately went to Lucas' house, knowing he needed to check on him. He remembered what he had been like after his sister had died.

"Tell me you didn't drink anything," Hugo said as soon as he entered the kitchen. Lucas looked at him and slowly shook his head.

"I didn't even realize I had bought it until I got home," he said softly. Hugo looked around the broken dishes on the floor and sighed. With the wave of his wand, the broken pieces gathered themselves and flew over to the bin. He sat at the table across from Lucas and grabbed the vodka, pulling it out of his friend's reach.

"You can't do this again," he said seriously, studying him.

"I wasn't going to," Lucas replied, this time a bit more forcefully. Hugo watched him a moment then stood, opening the bottle. He walked to the sink and poured the contents down the drain.

"Just in case, I can't leave this here with you," he said. He looked over at Lucas. "You want to talk about it?" Lucas sighed and sat back in his chair.

"I thought I was going to lose her," he said. "Just… when she lost her grip… and then when the bludger hit her. The way she hit the ground…" He shook his head and rubbed his face.

"She is going to get hurt. That's the nature of the game. You know this," Hugo said, walking back to the table and sitting across from him.

"I know… just something about this time…" he murmured. He suddenly clenched his fists as he thought about the Falcons seeker. "I wanted to strangle him. I wanted to run back to the locker room and beat him..." His ice blue eyes flashed with anger as a scowl appeared on his usually composed face.

"But you can't," Hugo said. "You have to control your anger." Lucas looked up at his old friend and sighed, feeling the fight leave him.

"I can't be like I was," he said. "I won't be."

Hugo rushed down the sidewalk. The air was chilly even though fall hadn't completely set in yet. He was supposed to be home, icing an injured knee. But he got word from Basil, a local muggle pub owner, and there he was, walking down the sidewalk to go get Lucas. He was most likely in for another long night.

He pushed the door open and looked around, though he didn't need to search for long. Lucas was sitting at a table in the corner holding an ice pack to his face, swaying slightly. Hugo sighed and walked over, sending a silent apology to the barkeep behind the bar. Hugo stepped up to his friend, noting the broken table and splintered stools on the floor, surrounded by shattered glass. He was sure to receive an itemized list of all the damage later. If it had been one of the pubs in the wizarding quarter, he could have fixed everything with the wave of a wand, but Lucas had been banned from most of them already. He had only taken to skulking around muggle pubs in the neighborhood on the off chance that he would run into the man who had been driving the car that killed Mara.

"Lucas… not again," Hugo said, stepping up to him. Lucas looked up at Hugo, blinking slightly as he tried to focus on his face.

"I thought I found him tonight," Lucas said, slurring his words. "I thought it was him…" Hugo sighed and reached down, putting his arm underneath Lucas' arm and hoisting him up. The two slowly made their way out of the pub, Lucas limping as he leaned heavily on Hugo.

"Do you have your wand?" Hugo asked softly.

"Left it home," Lucas said. Hugo nodded, thankful for small miracles. Lucas tended to use magic when he shouldn't while on a drunken tirade. As he mostly drank in muggle pubs now, it was good he had taken to leaving it at home.

Once outside, Hugo dragged them to a nearby alley and apparated the two to Lucas' apartment. He put Lucas on the sofa and walked to the kitchen to get him water. When he came back, Lucas had found his wand and conjured a glass and bottle of whisky.

"Lucas… you've had enough," he said, stopping. Lucas swung his head around and glared at his friend, still weaving. He had a black eye and busted lip.

"No… not nearly enough," he said before taking a large swig.

"You have to stop doing this," Hugo said. "Mara wouldn't want to see you like this."

"DO NOT SAY HER NAME," Lucas bellowed, glaring at Hugo. He pushed himself off the sofa, turning and shakingly making his way towards Hugo. "You don't get it… you don't understand…" He shoved his finger into Hugo's shoulder.

"I know that you're ruining your life!" Hugo shouted.

"I'm ruining my life?! My life is already ruined!" Lucas spat, taking a step back. "I can't play quidditch anymore… and Mara… she's… dead. My sister is DEAD!" Hugo watched him, silent. Lucas took a step forward and pulled his arm back as though he were going to punch him. Instead, he tripped over a stray shoe and fell to the ground, the glass of whisky flying out of his hand and across the floor. Hugo took a deep breath, watching as his friend moaned on the ground.

"It's not fair," he shouted. "IT'S NOT FUCKING FAIR! That bastard is out there… laughing and… whatever… and she's DEAD!" He started sobbing, rolling over onto his knees, his head buried in his hands on the floor.

Hugo stepped over and grabbed Lucas, pulling him up onto the loveseat.

"You need to drink some water," Hugo said, summoning the glass he had left on the coffee table. Lucas took it and took a sip. He sniffed, tears still streaming down his face. He hadn't shaved in days and looked rough. Nothing like the clean-shaven, cocky keeper he once knew.

"My life is over," Lucas moaned softly. "It's over…"

"It's not over…" Hugo said softly. "You can't give up, Lucas." Lucas stared at his best friend, shaking his head.

"No… you're wrong. It is… I can't play anymore… and Mara is gone," he said. He fell over on the loveseat, dropping the glass of water to the floor. "It's over…"

Hugo silently studied his friend as he sat at the table, memories of all those nights he had to go scrap him off the floor of another pub. Or off the sofa or his bedroom floor. The nights he stopped by just to make sure he was still alive. The few times he had to go bail him out of the muggle police station after he got into another fight.

"Are you sure… that you can handle this? Maybe you are getting too close to her," Hugo asked softly. "I don't want to see you return to what you were." Lucas glanced at him and nodded.

"I won't waste my chance to do better. To be better," he said. "Mara wouldn't want that. I can handle this." Hugo nodded.

"I worry about you sometimes," Hugo said as he waved his wand, turning the stove on and filling a kettle there with water. "You could use some tea to calm you," he said. Lucas nodded. A hint of a smile came across his face.

"You remember how Mara would force feed me tea for days when I got sick," he said. Hugo chuckled.

"She was every bit a mother hen even though she was the youngest," he said. "She nearly tied you to your bed a few times to keep you from playing until you were well." Lucas shook his head.

"I sometimes think she was more protective of me than I was of her," he said.

"LUCAS! YOU IDIOT! I TOLD YOU TO STAY IN BED!" the young woman yelled as she stomped into the flat. Lucas was seated on the couch, pulling his boots off. He froze, glancing at his team bag on the floor next to him. Mara glared at him and walked over, placing her hand to his forehead.

"You're not going to get better if you go into practice with a flippin' cold!" she shouted. "You still have a fever."

"But… I don't feel that bad. And I need to stay in shape for the World Cup qualifiers," he replied before sneezing. Mara rolled her eyes as she started pulling off her heavy coat and scarf.

"It's the midseason break. You don't even need to go into practice right now," she said, moving to the kitchen where she started the kettle for tea. "I'm owling your coach and telling him to send you home if you try to show up at practice tomorrow." Lucas sighed and sat back on the couch.

"You've got to stop owling my coach, Mar," he said before coughing. "I'm perfectly capable of caring for myself. I am an adult."

"Obviously not if you're going to practice in sub-zero weather with a cold," she said, returning to the living room with a steaming mug of lemon and ginger tea.

"Shouldn't you be practicing?" he asked, as he accepted it from her.

"We're off for the next week. Blizzard blew through the other day and buried the pitch," she said, flopping down on the loveseat. "How are things with Olivia?" Lucas grimaced slightly.

"She broke up with me," he said, cautiously sipping at the hot tea. Mara huffed.

"Seriously, Lucas, what did you do this time?" she asked. Lucas glared at his younger sister.

"Why do you assume I did something?" he asked.

"Because you always do something. The only thing in life you get right is quidditch," she said with a laugh. "One of these days being a player will come back and bite you in the ass. You'll meet someone you want to settle down with and she'll refuse you because of that." Lucas chuckled.

"There are too many beautiful women out there to settle down with just one right now, sis," he said with a cheeky grin. Mara rolled her eyes again and shook her head.

"Luke… Stockholm is not that big. And the wizarding community here is even smaller. Watch it or you'll have to leave the country to find a date," she said. Lucas winced.

"Surely I'm not that bad," he said, his eyes twinkling.

"Drink your tea. I'm going to make you some stew for dinner," Mara snapped as she pushed herself off the loveseat, granted a smile was firmly planted on her face. "But while I'm cooking, what happened with Olivia?"

"She didn't like how I cleaned," he shouted. He heard a distinctive snort from the kitchen along with pots and pans being moved about.

"Yea right," Mara yelled back.

"She said I wasn't focused on her," he said. "But with the World Cup coming, I don't know how she couldn't understand." Mara popped her head into the living room.

"You forgot her birthday, didn't you?" she asked.

"I remembered… eventually," Lucas said with a slight frown.

"Did you get her a present?" she asked, walking back into the kitchen.

"No…" he admitted.

"LUCAS YOU IDIOT!" Mara shouted. Lucas chuckled. "I EVEN WROTE IT DOWN FOR YOU!" He continued to sip his tea.

"We had doubles last week," he shouted back.

"Not an excuse when it's your girlfriend's birthday!" Mara replied.

"Ex-girlfriend," Lucas corrected. Mara popped her head out of the kitchen again.

"Someday you're going to fall madly in love with some girl and I'm going to laugh my ass off over how mad she drives you," she said before popping back into the kitchen. Lucas chuckled to himself.

"Yea right," he muttered.

So, I've finished planning out the entire story and have about 3 chapters scattered throughout to completely write and about 4 more that need finishing or refining. As I managed to get a fair amount done with that - as well as my other various projects - I decided to go ahead and post the first chapter. I'm going to try and post every 2-3 days as I can. In total, this will be 14 chapters, unless I end up adding more in as I finish it, but I doubt it. This is the most fore planning I think I've done for any story. I might try to do apply this technique to all my following stories...

Hope all you Nilsson fans enjoy! ^_^