Bulgarian National Quidditch Team players: Chasers- Vasily Dimitrov, Clara Ivanova, Alexi Levski. Beaters: Harry Potter, Ivan Volkov. Keeper: Lev Zograf. Seeker: Viktor Krum
Summary: Our young hero, battle weary and fed up, has a run in with his old quidditch captain that opens a door to a whole new world. Deviates from HBP and DH.
AN: I know I'm horrible at updating my stories, but this is going to be short, only three chapters. I plan to have it finished by Christmas, and if I don't I give you all leave to lynch me. Enjoy.
He knew he shouldn't get as drunk as he was fast becoming in such a public place. He knew news and gossip about "drinking problem" would likely be somewhere on the cover of the' Daily Profit' or the weekly gossip magazine 'By the Hour.' But hell, he thought as he tossed back another fire whisky, he stunt today was no doubt going to appear anyways- might as well give them their desert.
"Well I'll be damned." A thick Scottish brogue rumbled next to him. "If it isn't little Harry Potter, all grown up." The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but the spike of annoyance at the man was fast overcome by the bartender setting down a newly refilled glass.
"Cheers." he mumbled, knocking back that glass too. It was odd, after about four of them the taste started to diminish. He probably couldn't tell whiskey from water at that point. He frowned at the bartender. Was the man watering down his drinks? He sniffed the glass. It didn't smell watered down, but you could never really tell. Water was scentless after all. He narrowed his eyes, gesturing for another.
"You might want to slow down a bit mate." The man spoke, amusement tainting his words.
Harry shoved the glass towards the stranger without much thought. "Does that taste watered down to you?" he demanded, unaware of just how slurred his words were becoming. He watched closely as the man picked it up and took a sip with laughing eyes. The man was scruffy- with ruffled short brownish red hair and an unshaven face. He was handsome in a strong cave man sort of way. Harry turned more fully on his bar stool and balanced himself on an elbow resting on the wood. He defiantly wouldn't mind getting to know the rugged stranger better that night.
"Tastes fine to me." The laughter was still there, clear on his face. Brown eyes met green… Familiar brown eyes. Harry frowned again, his slightly blurry vision not helping. The man took another sip, lips quirked. He was probably a few years older then him. Maybe he went to Hogwarts?
The younger of the two was getting ready to ask when a voice yelled down over the music. "Hey Wood- you coming or what?" As a wadded up napkin flew at the mans head with dangerous precision. Harry batted it away without much thought- reflexes sharp, despite his inebriated state.
"Oliver Wood!" He exclaimed with drunken delight. "I'd apologize for not recognizing you off the bat, but you look quite a mite different!" He was oblivious to the stumped Chaser leaning over the balcony, but Oliver wasn't.
"Start without me. I'll be up in a bit." He hollered back, the bar busy enough that no one else really paid attention. "So Harry. How have you been? You're looking a bit different yourself, by the way."
"I've been… ehh. You know, same old. Life is what it is what it is…" He trailed off, brows furrowed. "You stole my drink. Well, that's not very polite." He sat their seriously for a couple more moments before a chuckle escaped and he flagged down the weary bartender yet again. "Two rounds, if you please." He stated, dropping a hand to slap against the bar. "And how have you been? Still playing for Puddlemere and all that?"
"Aye. Going on seven years now. If you don't mind me asking, what's got you in such a tizzy? You're going to black out, if you're not careful. Strong stuff, fire whiskey."
"Tizzy? I'm not in a tizzy." He stated firmly. "I'm celebrating."
"Oh? What are we celebrating?" Oliver asked, holding up his glass to toast.
"My… resignation… from the auror program."
Oliver choked on his drink. "You quit the auror program?" He asked, incredulously. "Why? I heard you were the next Mad Eye Moody or some such rot."
"I quit," He said, trying to keep his body serious and stable. He held his glass closer to Oliver's face, one finger free and pointing at the man. "For exactly that reason. I'm no Moody… I'm much better looking." He finished with a crooked smirk.
Brown eyes studied him for a long minute as they finished their drinks in silence. "Why don't you join my friends and I? I'll introduce you." He rose and started leading the way through the crowd before Harry could protest. They navigated around the bar and up one of three stair cases that led to private balconies. They passed a guard wearing black slacks and a tight black short sleeve shirt with dual wand holsters strapped to each arm.
The room they entered was fairly large, with a private bar and an array of couches positioned around the room. There was a large roaring fireplace on the far wall- a welcome addition to the dreary rain that filled the city. Harry followed silently over to a circle of couches positioned around a large, regal looking round table. A cheery group of men ranging from about twenty to about forty sat around it, various bottle of liquor and glasses strewn across.
"'Bout bleedin' time Wood. Whose this?" The man that spoke was large and muscular, with dark skin and sharp blue eyes. He had short brown hair, cut through with a bald path that curved around his ear and the crooked tilt of a nose that had been broken too many times.
"This is Harry, he's an old friend of mine from Hogwarts. Harry, this is Brent McGill, Mikel Rouche and Kaiden Riley- our chasers. That's Ryan Smith and William Blake- our beaters and that's Warren Brown, our seeker."
They all greeted Harry willingly enough, some more enthusiastically then others, but all friendly. He found himself squished between Oliver and Warren before he knew what was happening, a full glass pressed into his hands and his new friends talking a mile a minute on all sides. Apparently they had won a game earlier that day, having beat the Falmouth Falcons 470 to 390, and were celebrating.
His plan to slow down on his drinking did not happen.
Harry woke slowly the next morning in a strange bed, with a fuzzy head, and without a warm body beside him. It was hardly a first for him- a habit that his well meaning friends had been trying to rid him of as of late. He sat up, royal blue comforter pooling around his waste and took in the rest of the room. It was very plain, with off white walls, blue drapes blocking out the sun, a bare desk and equally bare dresser. There were three doors- one across from the window and the other two side by side on the side wall.
He stood cautiously, head throbbing and mouth disgusting. He was a bit surprised to find himself wearing comfortable too big black pajama pants and lacking the ache in his neither regions that he was expecting. The first door he opened was a large walk in closet, a good amount of cloths hanging and a small pile on the floor in the corner. The door next to it led to a bathroom- also done in off white. The only color was an ugly navy blue shower curtain and a pile of muddy blue and gold quidditch gear kicked carelessly next to the shower. He took a minute to relieved himself and spent a couple more washing his face and freshening his mouth with a conjured toothbrush.
He found Oliver as soon as he exited the short hallway leading from the bedroom. The man was crouched down in front of a set of drawers, tanned skin dotted with freckles was stretched taunt over muscular back and arms. He was riffling around for something, closing one drawer and opening another. "Hey." Harry said, voice scratchy.
Oliver turned and looked over his shoulder. "Hey yourself." He looked as bad as Harry felt. His stubble had grown, standing out against his pale face, which was highlighted by the bruises smudged under his eyes and the large bruise that had purpled over his jaw- complements of a bludger- he vaguely remembered being told the night before. He turned back to the chest before he stood with a triumphant sound. He tossed a vial of brownish sludge to his visitor before he downed his own.
Harry looked at it wearily. He recognized the hangover elixir- he had taken it enough- but he really disliked the jittery feeling it left for hours after words. "Trust me" Oliver stated, already looking better. "You don't want a hangover for what I have planned today."
"What you have planned today?" He swallowed the goop with a grimace. A smirk was his answer.
"You know your problem?" Oliver asked a while later. They were sitting in a small café having breakfast and rehydrating themselves from the abuse they laid on their bodies the night before. He continued at Harry's cautiously amused look. "You hide from your fame. You allow them to hound you and use you because you refuse to step up and take control of it."
"I don't want fame, Oliver, or anything that comes with it. I just want piece and quiet."
"And that's what's funny. Use that power of yours! Use that fame to get your piece and quiet. People will do whatever you tell them to do. If you make them leave you alone they will. And the reporters? Tell them to leave you be and if they don't you've got an arsenal of things you can threaten them with- libel, stalking, trespassing." He shrugged with a shake of his head. "You don't have to put up with any of it. You choose to by refusing to do anything about it."
Harry gestured to a nearby table, where a patron was reading the Daily Profit, where a picture of him in full Auror gear after a training mission. He had a cut on his cheek, his hair was more windblown then normal, and he was smiling- a full on real smile, talking to some of the other initiates in the background. His eyes were glowing with power, even from the drab ink of the paper. 'HARRY POTTER QUITS AUROR TRAINING PROGRAM.' A smaller picture was visible in the bottom corner. It was of him and Oliver sitting at the bar talking and laughing. 'QUITTING RESPONSIBILITY- WHAT WILL HARRY POTTER DO NOW?'
"I cant stop them from writing. I cant stop people from being interested."
"No, you cant. You can control what they say. Talk to them, give an interview. Tell them some form of the truth instead of letting them use their imagination. It's a lot harder for them to spin ridiculous fable's when they have direct quotes from you. Believe me, I know."
Harry was silent, unsure what to say. It made sense, but did he really want to throw his unwanted fame around to get what he wanted? Wasn't that exactly what he didn't want? "I get what you're saying, really, I do. But using my fame to get what I want is exactly what I don't want to do."
"Why?" The question was simple, but had a hundred answers.
"Because… I just, I'm not…" He sighed harshly. "Growing up I was famous for something I had nothing to do with. When I left Hogwarts I trained and I hid and I fought. It was war and I was one soldier. Greater people then me made a lot more sacrifices and did a lot greater of things. Yea, I killed Voledmort, but I didn't do it alone- I couldn't have done it alone. Nobody cares about them, do you even know the names of the people that were with me when it happened?"
Oliver shook his head sadly, a bit of shame and understanding in his eyes. "Kingsley, Hestia, Bill, Remus and Tonks. Hestia was killed setting up, Tonks was killed during the Ritual. Remus ended up in a coma for 11 days. Bill had to have his arm, leg and three of his ribs regrown. Kingsley, well, Kingsley was a bit worse for wear, but came out better then the rest of us. But nobody cares about any of that. They want a figurehead. I'm not that guy Oliver! I'm not even twenty yet. I don't want to settle down in a big house with spouse and a couple of kids. I know other people want that. You know I read an article guessing what I would name my children? The top picks were Lily, James, Sirius, Albus and Even. Can you believe that?"
"People are thoughtless." He scratched his head, brows furrowed. "Look, have you told anyone else this? I was at Hogwarts for the final showdown, and I didn't know any of this. I don't think anybody knows what actually happened. Why don't you find someone you trust and share the story. Give the people something real to appreciate instead of gossip and hearsay." His voice lowered. "It might help you too, to get it off your chest."
"Yea… I don't know Oliver. I'll think about it."
"That's all I ask. Now, lets get out of here. I have something to show you."
Oliver apparated the two of them to a huge field surrounded by miles of short, even grass. A quidditch stadium dwarfed them a hundred feet ahead, with various flags flapping around the top. "Come on!" Oliver called, a few paces ahead. They didn't head to the main entrance where visitors would line up, but rather went around to the right where a smaller door was almost unnoticeable. A small circular dot was imprinted to the right. Oliver pressed his wand to the imprint and the door opened with a swoosh.
A clean stone hallway curved around out of sight in both directions. Oliver immediately started down the way, obviously more comfortable here then Harry. They bypassed two doors labeled 'Locker Room' and 'Visitors Locker Room' almost immediately. The hall continued another ten feet and widened into the entrance that the players would fly from.
"This is the home entrance. If we had followed the hall the other way, it would have led to the visitors entrance." Oliver explained absently.
Harry had to pause when the exited onto the pitch. It was glorious. It made the Hogwarts pitch seem like a toy. Instead of single stands rising into the air, solid sheets of bleachers spanned the stadium, from ground level clear up past the rings. The glass from private boxes sparkled in a solid circle about half way up and the hoops gleamed in the sunlight. The grass was a deep emerald color and swayed in the breeze coming down from the open roof.
He had been in the stadium at the world cup of course, but viewing a crowded room filled with hundreds of thousands of people jostling and yelling from up in the stands looked entirely different from the vastness of an empty stadium from the ground.
"Wow." He mumbled in appreciation.
Oliver laughed from his side. "Pretty impressive, yea? Took me a while to get use to. And can I just say- the look on your face now doesn't look much different then the look on your face when you were eleven."
Harry glared at the taller mans laughter. "Come on." He said, slapping him on the shoulder, still chuckling. Two top of the line brooms were waiting propped against the stands. They were bulkier then his firebolt, with thicker handles and more sturdy looking foot rests. 'Thunderbolt' was inscribed in thick scrawl along the handle.
Oliver grabbed both of them and tossed one to Harry. Green eyes looked questioningly at the older man. "What are we doing here anyways?" he asked, rubbing his hand along smooth wood.
"Getting your mind off things?" Oliver asked more then stated.
"You're lying, but I'll go along with it."
"Then get your ass in the air!" He commanded jokingly.
"Aye Aye Captain."
The thunderbolt wasn't as fast as the firebolt, but it was a lot more steady. His firebolt was a lot more touchy and would respond to the subtlest of touches- even those he hadn't meant to make. The thunderbolt was still responsive, but required a clear shift or pull to move. Though no words were spoken they ended up in an unofficial race around the pitch- with a fair bit of jolting and pushing.
"You always were the fastest on the pitch!" Oliver joked breathlessly as the came to a stop a few minutes later.
Harry laughed, eyes clear and gleaming. "Gods, it's been way to long since I've been on a broom!"
"You ready to step it up a bit?" He landed near the quidditch chest. Harry hovered above him and caught the beaters bat as it was tossed to him. He pulled back wearily as Oliver moved to unchain the vicious black balls.
"Bludgers? Neither of us are beaters Oliver."
"Ahh, but you could have been. Could have been pretty damn good too. If we hadn't needed a seeker and if we hadn't had the twins- you would have been one."
Harry tossed the bat up in the air, refamiliarizing himself with the weight and shape. He was ready when the first bludger sped towards his head. He swung his arm and sent it flying away with a resounding 'CRACK.' He felt the echo of it down his arm and relished in the shock. His smile grew bigger.
He looked around to see a couple of dozen various targets had popped up in the air. Half were colored blue and the other half were red. "This is a game our beaters practice with." He shouted over the wind and gestured to the scoreboard that had changed to 'Red' and 'Blue' instead of 'home' and 'guest.' "It's simple. You're blue. I'm red. You are supposed to hit as many red targets as you can, without letting me hit any of the blue ones. We go for ten minutes. Clear?"
"Easy enough." He shot back, voice cocky as he swung at the bludger that was pelting back towards him. Oliver blocked it and sent it spinning towards on of the blue targets on the other side of him. Harry accelerated faster then he thought the Thunderbolt would handle and managed to keep the ball from colliding. A moment later a '1' popped up on the scoreboard. Harry didn't have time to appreciate it as he dove to catch Oliver's rebuttal.
Five minutes in the second bludger was released, though Harry wasn't sure how. By the end of the ten minutes Harry had used every part of his broom and bat to hit the balls, and had taken quite a few hits himself. He was panting and aching, but was calm and happy. He was able to look at the scoreboard for the second time. 'Blue' had 75 points, and 'Red' had 8.
Oliver landed next to him, his own share of bruises and blood visible. "Ahh, guess that's why I'm a keeper." He joked as he whipped blood off his lip.
"Aye, I'd stick with that if I were you."
"I admit, I was half expecting you to bring me a joke Wood." A thick brogue hollered from the sidelines. Two men were walking towards them. The one that Harry assumed spoke was a big man, nearly six and a half feet in he had to guess, and thicker then most. His hair was dark and cropped close to his head and dark eyes were narrowed at the two. The second wasn't nearly as tall- likely about six foot even. He was clean shaven, with his equally dark hair neatly styled. He wore neatly pressed robes and his leather shoes were polished to gleaming.
"Harry, this is Grigor and Mihail. This is Grigor, the Bulgarian national quidditch coach, and Mihail- the owner of the team."
"Bulgarian?" Harry asked in confusion. "We're in Bulgaria?"
"Aye." Grigor rumbled. "And this was a job interview. You passed. Welcome to the team."
Harry stared from one man to the other, blank face hiding his confusion. He finally turned to Oliver for an answer.
"Well, you did say you wanted to try something new." The man shrugged innocently.
To be continued…