This is for the "twelve chapter story" challenge, which means it will be one chapter per month for this year. This means updates will only come once a month. This is because prompts come only once a month. I apologize for the infrequency – it's in order to accommodate more challengers.
Prompt for January: cheating.
"Oh, come on, ref! Foul! FOUL! That was obvious cheating! Seriously? This game is under protest! Rigged, I tell you! Rigged!"
"Oh, please," Percy mutters under his breath. "It's just Quidditch."
The boy in front of him whirls around, eyes blazing with intensity. "Just Quidditch?" he yelps. "Just Quidditch?" He seems utterly appalled.
"Honestly," Percy says. "It's just a game."
Something unrecognizable flashes in the boy's eyes. "Just a game? How can you say that? It's Quidditch!"
"I'm aware," Percy says flatly. He'd told his father that he'd much prefer staying home with his books than going to a Quidditch game, but, given Dad won tickets for the whole family, he insisted. Most everyone else was ecstatic. Charlie – who played for Gryffindor – especially, and Ron because it was the Cannons, but everyone else, too. The Weasleys so rarely got chances like this.
So Percy finds himself an unwilling spectator at the Chudley Cannons versus Puddlemere United game, because it's a "family bonding experience." Though, honestly, sitting at the very end of the long row, he's hardly interacting with his family at all. He's interacting more with the Quidditch-obsessed boy in front of him.
Speaking of the Quidditch-obsessed boy in front of him – the boy speaks up. "So you honestly don't like Quidditch?" The boy speaks with an incredulous tone that conveys that fact that this seems completely unfathomable to him.
"I don't particularly care for it, no," Percy says. "It's a largely pointless game, frankly."
The boy gapes at him. "Pointless? What is-"
"PUDDLEMERE SCORES!" sounds over the roaring crowd.
"What?" the boy exclaims, whirling back around to face the pitch. "How did that happen?"
The man sitting next to him reprimands the boy. "You ought to pay attention, Oliver." The boy – Oliver – nods.
Percy glances at George, who's next to him. George is staring raptly at the pitch, and Percy figures he won't much care – if he even notices – so Percy slips down a row into the empty seat next to Oliver, so that Oliver won't have to turn around. Percy finds that he's actually mildly interested in this conversation – perhaps this boy can explain to him the draw of the sport he just doesn't understand.
"Sorry," he says lightly. Oliver jumps, not expecting the voice from the direction it comes. "I didn't mean to get you in trouble."
Oliver shakes his head, keeping his eyes on the pitch this time. "Da's not angry," he says. "Not really."
"Good," Percy says, but then he's not really sure how to continue. This turns out not to matter, because Oliver speaks.
"So you honestly don't like Quidditch?" he asks. He can't seem to get the idea to sink in.
Percy shrugs. "I've honestly never much seen the point."
Oliver shakes his head again. "That just doesn't make sense to me. I mean… It's Quidditch, for Merlin's sake! It's not about having a point, it's about the thrill of it!"
Percy raises his eyebrows briefly. "Excuse me if I don't exactly see the thrill of watching people soar about on broomsticks."
Oliver glances at him quickly before returning his eyes to the field, where the Keeper for Puddlemere United has just made a spectacular save.
"THAT'S IT, RICHARDS!" Oliver roars, springing out of his seat. Percy winces, covering his ears. Sitting down, Oliver grins sheepishly. "Sorry. I get a bit excited."
"Really?" Percy drawls. "I hadn't noticed." He's not usually much for sarcasm, but there's something about the mischievous glimmer in Oliver's eyes that draws it out of him.
Oliver chuckles lightly. He glances at Percy again, then he sticks out a hand. "Oliver Wood," he says.
"Percy Weasley," Percy says, taking the hand.
Oliver turns back to the pitch, and he's shaking his head once more. "I don't get you. You don't see the thrill of Quidditch…"
"Explain it to me, then," Percy invites.
Oliver laughs. "I'm not really sure I can."
"All right. Well, watching it's different, of course. Watching Quidditch is all about the competition – it pits people against each other in sheer physical ability. It's like… It strips everything else away and just leaves, well, survival of the fittest, y'know?
"But playing Quidditch… Nothing beats that feeling. Nothing. It's just you and your skill, because if you fall, there's nothing between you and the ground. It's… exhilarating. It's not safe, not by any means, so you've got to really trust yourself, because up in the air, no one's going to save you. It's just… you. And 'everybody else' becomes your teammates, who you have to trust explicitly, and the other team, who you have to distrust on principle, and their goal is to stretch you to your limits, to see how far you can go."
Percy purses his lips, considering this. "And you like that?"
Oliver turns to look at him, hazel eyes glowing. "Definitely." An impish, gleeful smile flits across his face. "That's why I love being Keeper – you become the one thing really standing, or, well, sitting, between them and a goal."
Percy tips his head, accepting this. "All right then."
Oliver glances at him curiously before turning his gaze back to the field. "Does that- GO, MARKS, GO! HONESTLY! STOP GOING EASY ON HER BECAUSE SHE'S A GIRL AND CATCH THE SNITCH!"
Percy puts his hand over his mouth to muffle his laughter. Oliver doesn't seem to notice.
"C'mon, c'mon! Almost, almost- YES! YES! HE DID IT!"
Over the intercom, Percy hears what he's already figured out; "And that's Adam Marks with the snitch! PUDDLEMERE WINS!"
Oliver is jumping up and down in he seat. From a row up, Percy hears Ron loudly voicing his disappointment. Percy himself is just rather amused.
Oliver turns to him, grinning broadly. "PuddlemerePuddlemere won!"
"So I heard," Percy says wryly.
Oliver shakes his head at Percy's disappointing level of enthusiasm. He can't seem to keep the grin of his face and Percy smiles in return; Oliver has an infectious grin.
"I'll show you sometime," Oliver promises, and Percy ducks his head shyly.
"I'd like that."