Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the amazingly talented J.K Rowling. I'm only borrowing the characters and world that she has so brilliantly created.
A/N: Hello and welcome to my newest project! I've been reading some Next Generation stories lately, and was inspired to write my own. I'm really enjoying thinking of plot ideas and exploring an original character as the main character. It's been great fun to write, so I hope you enjoy "Game On."
Chapter One: The New Gryffindor Quidditch Captain
You might say that I was born to play Quidditch. My father was Oliver Wood, Keeper and captain of the Gryffindor House team for three years, the most decorated Keeper in Puddlemere United history, and now the Puddlemere coach. My mother was Pippa Wood, staff writer and eventual senior editor for the premier Quidditch publication, Quidditch Weekly.
I'd been watching, analyzing, and playing the game for so long now, that I didn't remember not knowing what Quidditch was. My parents joked that I could fly before I could walk. This was a slight exaggeration certainly, but it just showed the extent to which my family lived and breathed all things Quidditch. Of course, we did have other interests, but when your parents' careers and hobbies involve Quidditch, that's the predominant theme of the household.
As the only girl in a family of three brothers, you might expect me to have been spoiled and treated like a little princess, but you would be wrong. I was encouraged to be outside with my brothers playing Quidditch, playing in the dirt, climbing trees, learning to do stunts and tricks on my broom.
Half the time I was instigating whatever mess we got ourselves into. I might have been responsible for our attempt at switching brooms while also passing the Quaffle between us as we flew at a low speed. Granted, we were about three feet off the ground, but taking a swan dive and landing on your nose is not a good plan. A girl couldn't ask for better brothers than Tristan, Richard, and Gareth, my accomplices in mischief and the ones who helped me break six different bones before I was eleven.
That wasn't to say that I hated pink or never wore dresses or something. I was most comfortable in my Quidditch robes or workout gear, but I liked skirts and dresses just fine for the right occasion. I even wore mascara and lip gloss on a daily basis. It was just that I don't mind getting dirty and sweaty the way that a lot of other girls do. I didn't see what the problem was considering it all comes off in the shower anyway, yeah?
Quidditch had given me a lot. It taught me to be analytical, to reserve judgment, to be patient, to value and to have a good work ethic, to be a team player. I'd also had some very exciting experiences attending Dad's matches, and having the chance to meet players, coaches, trainers, and writers. It had also given me all of my friends from the Gryffindor team at Hogwarts, whom I wouldn't trade for anything.
However, Quidditch had given me one thing that I would gladly trade any day: James Potter. Potter was a fellow sixth year Gryffindor who was also on the team, much to my chagrin. He was the sort that liked to wind people up and liked to be the center of attention.
That's probably why he enjoyed being a Seeker. Once the chase for the Golden Snitch was on, all eyes were fixed on him and when he caught the Snitch (as he almost always did) the spotlight of the win rested on his shoulders. People remember the other highlights of the match as well, but he was remembered as the one who brought the match to a breathtaking climax.
Potter and I both made the reserves in our second year, which was a considerable feat for twelve year olds. Potter wasn't as pleased as I was, considering his dad, Harry Potter, had been on the Gryffindor team since his first year. I reckoned he thought he would follow exactly in his dad's footsteps. Of course, I would be lying if I said I hadn't been a bit disappointed at not making the team that year, but I knew that the next year there would be an open chaser position after Penman graduated. I just had to practice even harder, that was all.
For reasons that I didn't remember, and I wasn't sure even exist, Potter and I had developed an intense Quidditch rivalry. We played different positions and we were on the same team, but it was a rivalry nonetheless. He was forever trying to out-do me – to know more about the game, the players, the tactics, the strategy, the history.
So, naturally, I had to fight back and show him that I'm actually the one who knows more. He really should have just given up.
Things between us had only escalated over our years on the team together. Certainly, we had been able to work together for the sake of teamwork and winning the cup for Gryffindor, but it didn't mean that we liked it. We didn't hate each other. At least, I didn't hate him. I couldn't speak for Potter, but I was pretty certain that he didn't hate me either.
Well, at least he didn't up until this morning. I sensed that when he realized that his Hogwarts letter arrived without the Quidditch captain badge inside, he was going to be furious, and I knew that his anger was going to be aimed directly at me.
Why? Because I happened to be the new Gryffindor Quidditch Captain.
The letter was still in my hands, crisp and barely opened while the scarlet and gold badge sat heavily on the parchment surrounded by words in emerald green ink.
"Well?" my mum prompted, her voice laced with curiosity. The other faces around the breakfast table all reflected expressions of hope and anticipation.
"I'm captain!" I crowed triumphantly, grabbing the badge and holding it up high with a fist pump.
There was a small explosion of sound as everyone cheered and offered me congratulations.
"I knew it, there was no contest!" Richard practically yelled in my ear as he gave me a hug that lifted me clear off the ground.
"Way to go, baby sister," Tristan ruffled my hair affectionately before also giving me a hug.
"I'm only a year younger," I grumbled good-naturedly. Because of the small age gap between us, I was closer with Tristan than with Richard and Gareth, who were twins, and two years younger than me.
"Brilliant, Al owes me a galleon!" Gareth crowed in triumph, thumping me on the back so hard I nearly toppled over.
My stomach gave a small twinge at the mention of Al Potter, James's younger brother. Somewhere in the West Country, Potter was opening his letter and realizing that I must have been named Captain, and not him. I wasn't feeling sorry for him on a personal level, mind, but I knew how I would have felt if he had been the one to get the badge and not me. I (probably) wouldn't have cried in front of my family, but I would have been devastated.
"That's wonderful, Eva," Mum said, wrapping her arms around me and giving me a gentle squeeze, which was much welcome after Gareth's near physical assault on my person. "You'll be brilliant, I know it."
Dad looked like he was about to cry out of sheer euphoria. "That's my girl!" he said, hugging me so tightly my spine popped a bit. Ouch. "First female Quidditch captain in the family! This deserves a celebration, don't you think, Pippa?"
Mum clasped her hands together in excitement. "I'll make shepherd's pie for dinner. And treacle tart for dessert."
Even though I just finished breakfast, my stomach practically gurgled at the thought of my mum's shepherd's pie. Seriously, I challenge anyone to find any food, anywhere, that's better. Even the house elves at Hogwarts can't make it like Mum.
After everyone had settled down some, and Dad and Gareth had begun a rather passionate looking discussion on the current League standings, I went outside to take a celebratory fly.
When I was happy, I went flying. When I was upset, I went flying. Or who needed a reason, flying was just plain wonderful. I loved being up in the air, and it often felt more natural to me than walking on the ground.
Tristan joined me, following me out to the backyard broom shed. He had left his broom in the locker rooms at the Puddlemere Stadium, so he would have to use one of our spares. Considering everyone in the family plays and Dad couldn't throw away a broomstick if his life depended on it, we have plenty to spare.
"How's the reserves treating you?" I asked him as I opened the door to the shed and stepped inside.
"All right," he responded, crossing his arms over his broad chest. "I'm good enough to play on the main team and get off the reserves, but they don't want to show any favoritism since I'm the coach's son."
I grabbed my broom, my prized possession, and then searched for something for Tristan to ride for the afternoon.
"Firebolt Deluxe 100 fine with you?" I offered, running my fingertips over the well-worn wood of the handle. It was still a beautiful broom, if no longer the latest model.
Tristan grinned. "Hand it over."
I'm not a person who's overly concerned with money, but I do like that with my Dad's wealth from being a Professional Quidditch star has come our beautiful, large old home in the country. It's certainly a nice house on it's own, but the real attraction for me is the large amount of land we own that allows our family to have our own miniature Quidditch pitch out back. It's more of an open, grassy field, but it has regulation-sized hoops at each end and charms on it so that Muggles can't see it or come too close.
As Tristan and I made our way out to our pitch, picking through the tall grass of the fields, I resumed the conversation that I'd started before.
"You know," I told my older brother, "maybe you're really not ready to be taken off reserves yet. Besides, Rhys is a brilliant Keeper. Why would they replace him?"
Tristan scuffed his shoe in a patch of dirt. "I know. It's just…." He sighed heavily. "It's hard waiting. I'm tired of doing nothing but practicing. I want to play in a real match where it matters whether you win or lose. Isn't that what all players want, Eva - to play the game?"
"It is," I assured him. "But just be patient. You'll get your turn in the spotlight. And until then, just remember that you've got your name stitched on the back of your official Puddlemere kit, which makes you a part of the team."
We had reached the edge of the field, and I swung my leg over my broom and pushed off hard with the balls of my feet. Tristan was right behind me.
Was there anything better than feeling the air rush by your face and whip through your hair? I rose higher and higher and looked down at our house, which now looked quite small from this vantage point. I felt sorry for those people who were afraid of heights. They were missing out on some spectacular views and breathtaking experiences.
We could have gotten out a Quaffle as well, but Tristan and I chose to simply fly around the pitch and enjoy ourselves. The hot August sun beat down on my body, but with the breeze from soaring through the air, I barely felt it.
I, Eva Rebecca Wood was the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain! Nothing could bring me down because right now, I was as perfectly happy as I'd ever been in my entire life. I knew I was grinning uncontrollably, but I couldn't find it in myself to care if I did bare a striking resemblance to an escapee from St. Mungo's.
I had worked exceptionally hard for the last four years to earn this, and all of my time, effort, and struggle had been worth it. Hopefully, everything was beginning to fall into place. I would captain Gryffindor to victory in the race for the House Cup, and then I would be noticed by scouts, and asked to try out for a few professional teams.
Of course, I only wanted to play for Puddlemere, but I didn't mind being on the reserve team for a while if it meant that I got to someday wear the navy robes with the two crossed golden bulrushes. My opportunity would come, I was certain of it.
But first, I needed to focus on training an ace Gryffindor House team. I was nervous about being Captain, but giddily so. I knew that sooner or later I would have to talk to Potter about it, but for now, I could enjoy looking forward to the coming term and Quidditch season.
I looked in the mirror. A mildly pretty girl looked back at me, blinking once or twice. Light, wavy brown hair, bright blue eyes in an oval shaped face with a spot forming on my left cheek. Splendid. I was wearing a pair of jean shorts and a navy Puddlemere United t-shirt from two years ago when they won the League Cup.
We don't cheer for anybody but Puddlemere in this household. To do otherwise is simply inconceivable. First off, what other team can compare? Second, I think Dad would have a seizure. Seriously.
I nodded once at my reflection. I looked presentable enough for the train ride back to Hogwarts. I would be changing into my school robes halfway there anyway.
We made it to King's Cross without any problems, which was something of a feat with Tristan, Richard, Gareth, and me in the car. Dad had taken the day off (with an extra long practice the next day to compensate, of course) to see us off at the train station, which meant that Tristan was there to see us off as well.
It was strange, the fact that Tristan wouldn't be coming with us to Hogwarts this year. What would life on the Quidditch team be like without my older brother? He was the Keeper and I was a Chaser, so we spent a lot of time at practice together with the other two chasers. Seeing as we had played together for practically forever, we knew each other's moves too well for it to really be as an effective practice as it could have been.
I would have to hold try outs for a new Keeper as well as a new Chaser, since our former captain, Sean O'Mara had now graduated. Tryouts were always exciting because you never could be quite sure who would turn up and what unexpected talent you might find.
Of course, Richard had been considered reserve Keeper last year, so his chances of making the team this year were pretty high. He would have to try out just the same as everyone else, but I knew how he played, and I knew that he was good. Very good.
Over the last two weeks, every time I had seen Dad around the house, he would impart upon me some tip or words of advice about being the team captain. After the first ten times, it grew a little old, but I knew he only wanted me to succeed, so I tucked the information away in my brain for later.
On the platform, off to my left, I saw Harry and Ginny Potter with Al and Lily, which meant that James couldn't be very far away.
"Let's go farther down the train," I suggested. "This end looks a wee bit crowded."
It wasn't that I was afraid of James Potter. Psh. I could hold my own against that boy. That was no problem. I just didn't feel like having a row at this time of the morning on a train platform while our families looked on.
After my Dad had helped me stow my luggage on the train, it was time for one last farewell. Despite their protest, Dad pulled Richard and Gareth into man hugs, slapping each on the back a few times while Mum hugged each and stroked their hair and brushed imaginary lint off of their shoulders.
"If you need any advice, let me know," Dad told me in his soft Scottish accent, bending down a bit to look earnestly into my eyes and placing his hands heavily on my shoulders.
"I'll be fine," I assured him (and myself) with a smile. "I was made for this. I'm a Wood aren't I?"
He smiled, one side of his mouth a bit higher than the other. "Of course you will. But there's nothing wrong with asking for a little help. Remember to polish your broom more often as it gets colder; you don't want the wood cracking or splintering. And make sure that you make the team do endurance workouts. Morning practices are best because other teams are less likely to be able to spy on you."
I'm pretty sure that he would have gone on without end, but Mum laid her hand on his arm and cleared her throat. She gave him a pointed look that very clearly said he needed to stop rambling on about things I already knew.
Sometimes words weren't necessary between my parents.
"Got it, Dad," I reached up to hug him goodbye. I loved hugs from my dad. Except for flying, there was nothing better than being wrapped in his strong, safe arms.
Mum smoothed my hair down on top and straightened my shirt before giving me a tight hug. "Write often," she instructed me. "And make sure your brothers do the same." She paused, then said. "I bought you some new broom polish; I packed it in your trunk for you."
Waving one last goodbye, I boarded the train, following Richard and Gareth.
"Eva!" Dad called, his voice urgent.
I turned around giving Dad an exasperated look, but he didn't even seem to notice. The man had a very singular focus.
"Remember to keep your elbows firmly tucked in when you're in possession of the Quaffle!"
"Oliver, stop it," I heard my mum say forcefully yet fondly as I turned back around and climbed on board the train. "She'll be all right."
The twins went off to find their own friends that they hadn't seen for a while since as their older sister, I was old news.
I peered to the right, then the left down the corridor. It was packed with students still trying to locate their friends or a place to sit, but I didn't see Potter's unruly black hair anywhere in the crowd. I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Avoiding me?" A masculine voice said in my ear.
"Aaahhh!" I shrieked, simultaneously jumping a metre in the air and twisting around to see who was behind me. I hadn't even heard anyone behind me on the train's stairs.
I really shouldn't have been surprised to see James Potter standing right behind me, I really shouldn't have. And yet I was.
Like me, he had obviously spent his summer outdoors on his broom and as a result his skin was rather tanned. His ebony hair was going every which way as usual, and even as I watched, he ran a hand through it, making it even untidier than it had been the moment before.
Potter smirked, brown eyes dancing with mirth. "Judging by that reaction, I'd say you were."
"Contrary to belief, not everything is about you Potter," I sniffed, cross with myself for having been caught in stealth mode by the prat himself.
"Who else would you be trying to avoid?" he asked, though it really wasn't a question.
I bristled at the thought that James Potter thought he knew me in any sort of capacity outside of Quidditch. Because he most certainly did not.
"Since when do you know all about my life, hm?" I countered. "Maybe I was looking for someone. Did that ever occur to you?"
"Looking for someone?" he scoffed, clearly not buying my lie. "Who?"
"None of your business," I informed him loftily.
Potter's tanned face took on a curious expression. "A bloke, then."
"None of your business."
Potter shoved his hands in his trouser pockets and gave me a piercing stare. "Admit it: You were hiding from me because you know I should have been named captain and you're afraid to face me."
Oh, he did not just say what I think he just said. I was going to try to be nicer to Potter, I really was, considering I knew how much he had wanted the captaincy. But this changed everything.
"How dare you!" I practically screeched in his face. Not my most attractive moment to be sure, but the plank deserved it. "I've worked hard for four years to become captain, Potter. McGonagall and Sean knew that I would take this job seriously, unlike you someone who has never taken a thing seriously in his life."
Potter leaned towards me in a slightly menacing manner, brown eyes flashing with anger. "I take winning seriously, and I get results. Everyone in Gryffindor knows that I should have been named captain, and pretty soon everyone else in Hogwarts is going to know it too."
Before I could deliver the cutting reply that was forming in my mind, he turned on his heal and strode off down the train corridor without so much as a glance backwards. That insufferable prat never did fight fair when it came to verbal sparring.
Well, guess what, James Potter? I'd never backed down from a challenge yet and I didn't intend to start now. I was named captain fair and square and I was going to lead the best team that Gryffindor had ever seen to win the House Cup.
I know that James came across as a real jerk in this first chapter, but remember that he's more than a little angry and bitter about not being named captain. He and Eva don't hate each other, and they don't always act with such hostility towards each other. I think if you stick with me, you'll see a very different side to James!
Thanks for reading! Reviews, thoughts, comments, and constructive criticism welcome!