Chapter 4 : Fighting with the Finnigans
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My alarm started beeping madly at half past seven and I dragged myself out of bed with a groan. If it had been any other day, I’d already be leaping about the room in order to get ahead of the game and into the bathroom the fastest, but today… today was the first day back at school, and I was reluctant to go back.
“Morning, Lils,” Mum said as I ambled into the room, t-shirt and shorts in place. She looked up from the pancakes she was making and frowned at my attire. I sighed.
“Mum, I look fine like this. I’m a year six now! And I’ll have the stupid jumper, so don’t worry.” I rolled my eyes as she sighed again and looked back to the sizzling batter.
At our school, there was no uniform except an annoying purple jumper with the emblem on it (the Phoenix). Originally, it had been green, but parents had complained about showing a preference to Slytherin, despite the fact that we lived in Godric’s Hollow, and it was mostly run by Weasleys. That was, in fact, the reason that green had originally been picked; it went well with the red hair when nobody could think of a better reason to have another colour.
But now, we were forced to wear purple. Blegh.
“Morning all,” Dad commented, rushing into the room. Mum appeared and placed a stack of pancakes in front of him as he hurriedly pulled on his tie, glanced over the front page of the Daily Prophet, and ate. However, I was distracted from this amazing act of simultaneous action when my own pancakes were placed in front of me, and we ate in silence for several minutes.
I wasn’t kidding about the large stomach warning, you know.
I’d only just finished my pancakes when Dad rushed out the door, shouting a goodbye on the way. Mum sighed, watching the door slam and Dad’s distant figure disappear as he turned on the spot. I knew she was sad that he had to go into work on such stupid shifts; surely being both Head Auror and The Man Who Saved/The Chosen One/The Boy Who Lived would mean he could arrange easier times?
“He likes to do things the hard way. The normal way,” Mum commented distantly, as if she could read my thoughts. I looked up at her, but she just kept staring into the distance, so I jumped up and cleared away our plates myself.
It’s times like these that I know better than to disturb her. Only a few people can talk her out of it, and even fewer even understand the world she’s in.
I hearda shout from upstairs. “MERLIN’S PANTS! Um… down in a sec, Lily!”
I cackled evilly as I helped myself to his eggs, cooked by Aunt Hermione. She doesn’t mind, and in fact sees it as an incentive for him to get down. I’m a bit like his alarm clock, actually.
“Shoot, shoot… did I miss them?” Hughie skidded into the kitchen, pulling on his jumper, and cursed at the sight of me sitting in his place with a basically-empty plate in front of me. I cackled at the sight of his frustrated annoyed face before leaping up and punching him lightly on the shoulder.
"C'mon, we’re gonna be late if we don’t leave now.” At least, our version of late. I grinned and chucked him a couple of slices of toast from the toaster, ducking behind a chair as he threw them right back at me.
Aunt Hermione just laughed as I ran around him and out the front door, before circling back inside to ask her one last question.“Are you working with us today?”
Hugo rolled his eyes as he yanked his lunch out the fridge but Aunt Hermione just said, “Not today. No trouble, ok?”
…and we were out the door, running down the lanes to our primary school for magical children; The Fawkes Learning Centre, run ‘voluntarily’ by the kids’ parents, for the all the magical children in Godric’s Hollow (like us Weasleys.) Some of the Weasleys had to floo in, but they were granted automatic entrance, since it was Aunt Hermione, Mum, Aunt Angelina and Aunt Fleur (neither of whom did much, but their kids were involved) and Auntie Audrey (organising freak) who set it up for their new children, and all the new Baby Boom kids.
After the War, you see, there were a lot less magical people around, because of the fighting. But then there was a baby boom, and the numbers all went up, and it seemed silly for everyone to have to struggle to cope with homeschooling their kids at the same time. It was Mum who had the problem most, with James, and she suggested the idea to get my other aunts in on it. They had the toddling James, Molly, Freddy and Dommy to start trying to educate, and Victoire and Teddy were already a bit of a handful… so The Pheonix came about.
Unfortunately now, it was just Hugo and I whilst it was overrun by the mangy Finnigans! Of course, there used to be some of our other friends too, but now, they had all gone and left us. For Hogwarts.
“Record time!” Hugo ran smack into the broom shed with his hand out in front of him, and I reached down, grinning, to grab the chalk off the ground and put a mark under the clumsy ‘Weasleys (and Potters)’. Hugo stuck his tongue out at the ‘Finnigans’ sign, and I scowled, before picking the lock fast and stepping inside the tiny shed to check all of the battered school-use brooms (of assorted size) were still inside and as we left them.
Most were; all the XS, S , M and XL (which is standard full-size; these were kids’ sizes) were still looking as dirty and unuseful as ever for when the next flying lesson came around.
However, the two shinier brooms that were mine and Hugo’s had mysteriously disappeared.
“Oh Merlin…” Hugo breathed as he saw the non-dusty space I was staring at grimly. We quickly searched the entire shed, but it only confirmed what we knew; the Finnigans had been here recently and removed our brooms. I felt like screaming.
“What can we do?!” I whisper-screamed at Hugo. He was looking around the shed glumly, but then a determined look came over his face.
“I got a plan. But your acting’s gotta be perfect, Lily. No giving it away. No vengeful fights or comments. You gotta pretend you don’t know, and take your mark off that chalkboard outside and our revenge will be cold-blooded for this.”
I considered. “Will it be a part of the War?”
Hugo grinned, and evil glint in his eye. “If we pull it off successfully, it’ll be the perfect first move.”
“Well then… I’m in.”
One week. One whole week of being all limp and weak and flipping stupid in front of twins Sean and Reagan, and Fergal too, in front of their four other siblings who were all younger and not much of a threat like these three were. I had played my part well; I had made my usual snide remarks, I had beaten them in all our mish-mash subjects except the small bit of geography that we got from their parents, and I had pretended to be bummed out about the fact that they had a mark ‘before us’ every day.
We had been pretending that we were actually obeying the banned-from-flying-until-your-brooms-are-checked-at-school rule, which of course normally we would have been flauntingly disobeying. Now, however, Hugo and I had to pretend that we had no idea our brooms were not in the broomshed and that they were actually behind the drainpipe on the school roof (it had only taken us two days to find them).
Our plan would be perfect.
Today was the second Monday back; it was time for Coach Wood’s flying lesson that he dropped in to give when he had time.
All week, I had been bored senseless, but now, I was jumpy with anticipation of this evil revenge that would (hopefully) ignite the war I so longed for – at last, a chance to show the Finnigans that we were, and always had been, the best. Not them, with their arrogance and gobbiness, and tendencies to act gormless and stupidly. But they had always squashed us like bugs when they could, and we had never fought dirty.
The one rule we had been waiting for was that they call the shots on when it started. Leaving them with the feeling that they were supposedly in control, it would give us an edge.
I stood on the edge of the grassy field with the haphazard, small goalposts at each end only thirteen feet in the air, the already-bitter wind biting through my cardigan, and smiled. It felt so good to be doing something.
Looking down the line to Hugo, who was standing in his usual position of Keeper while I stood tall and proud as Chaser (like James, but not Al, who was really more of a Seeker, but we’re kickass as a Chaser team when push comes to shove), I saw him raise an eyebrow mischievously at me with that funny crinkle around his eyes that he always got when he had a funny secret he couldn’t tell.
I smirked in response, and stood tall as Coach Wood came out of the school’s back doors, pushing several tiddly kids in front of him. I recognised his long-suffering expression even from here.
We all fell silent as he strode to stand in front of us and inspect the lot he had this year. Eventually, he started to speak, in his thick Scottish brogue that most of us were fairly used to by now, but some of the tiddlers still found too strong. They’d soon learn.
“Alright, most of you know the drill by now. Those of you eight years plus, you’ll be flying today. Probably. It all depends on how well you fly. We’ll have the team I’ll put together play dry-” this meant without the brooms “-first, and I can explain the basics to you. Then we’ll get a match going in the air for you to watch. Anyone not involved can fly around outside the pitch. Alright?”
We nodded, and he looked down the line thoughtfully. “Right. Chasers; Lily, Violet, and Harry. Beaters; Sean and Reagan. Seeker; Fergal, and Keeper; Hugo.”
Basically what everyone wanted, except for Reagan. She preferred to play Chaser, but worked well with her lump-of-meat twin, Sean. Reagan herself was a lot more mean (while still working the beefcake look), and Fergal the seeker was a whole lot of slime, creep and sneak… bleugh.
Together, we were the new Top Seven; when playing quidditch in ‘everyone for themselves’ mode, where we were pitted against each other, the best seven players were used. When it was proper quidditch, which was more rare because of our school’s size, it was Top Fourteen.
The two chasers were Violet Grey (eight and an awesome chaser) and Harry Greengrass (nine, ok-ish chaser, vaguely related to the Malfoys somehow, but his Dad had run away from his parents to marry a muggle and now they were here; he was also awkwardly named after Uncle Harry like so many people nowadays).
Vi hadn’t technically been allowed to play in the actual school games until halfway through last year, and even then had had to wait for the older kids to move on to Hogwarts, despite the fact that she was actually better than them. I had been on the Top Seven team for a year already, but had been in the Top Fourteen for three, and this was Harry’s second year in Top Fourteen and first in Top Seven.
Here at The Pheonix, we took our sport very seriously. Coach Wood had even taught us the basics of Quodpot, so that we could at least put up a decent fight against any Americans we crossed paths with. I had been breaking into our house’s broom shed for years, and practicing on my brothers’ brooms away from the lessons, for years – and had consequently become awesome in a very short space of time. They couldn’t believe it when they had finally deigned to let me play quidditch with them, and I could help Al kick James’ ass each time.
Mum found this very funny, the whole broom shed business, but I have no idea why.
Now, us Top Seven stood on the field in the starting positions, and at Coach’s starting whistle, ran off around the field, using softballs as the quaffle and bludgers, just throwing them, and attempting to have them thrown over the end of the field’s line. It was a rather boring on-the-ground ‘dry’ version of quidditch, but while everyone was distracted, Hugo slipped off the field.
I grinned secretly, happy that our plan had started.
Within a few moments, he was back, circling back among us as if we were mad birds and slapping me a high five as we passed each other. We got some weird looks, but the Finnigans were smirking a lot more obviously at each other. They obviously thought that we had no idea our brooms weren’t in their rightful place in the broomshed.
Too bad for them that they now were!
After what felt like a million years of wide-eyed staring from the tiddlers learning the rules of quidditch for the first time, Coach Wood shouted for us to each collect our brooms from the shed, and we all immediately circled off to the edge of the field where the rickety, falling-apart hut stood. It was barely held up, and only stood because of magic; often reminding me of Nana Molly and Grandad Arthur’s home, The Burrow. We always spent a lot of time there, especially when all the family was back together in the summer.
I casually strolled towards the shed as the Finnigans hung back, smirking to each other.
As I had asked, Violet Grey ran on ahead to it eagerly, and flung open the door with Coach’s key that he had given us. We were to bring out the brooms, complete the test he gave us on our brooms, and then we could get on with playing. As instructed, Vi ran in, and after a moment or two, she stuck her head out and shouted in a panicky voice, “Lily! Hugo! I can’t find your brooms!”
I sped up. “Oh Merlin, what can have happened?” Hugo asked from beside me, with just a shade too much sincerity. I hit him on the arm, and stuck my head inside the shed.
“Oh wait… no, they’re right here, Vi. In the normal spot, like nothing’s ever happened to them.”
“Oh, how stupid of me,” she said exaggeratedly. I gave a covert wink and walked back around the side of the hut to where the markings were. I stuck out my tongue at them as Coach came over and called us all to a line in front of him.
“Alright, you scallywags, you most of you know the drill. Do as I say and it’s all fine, ok?”
There was much nodding in unison, and I tried hard to look innocent as Coach Wood looked up and down the line. I don’t think I managed it though, because Hugo whispered, “Lily, you look constipated.” I elbowed him in the ribs hard and he gasped, but apparently Wood thought the same thing, because he bellowed, “LILY POTTER!”
I stepped out of the line, and he beckoned me over. “Right. Your Dad has never had a problem flying, and you’ve never really either. Your Mum had played professionally, and you’re a pretty fine Chaser, so please don’t do anything stupid. You’re leading this set of exercises beside me; let’s see how much you’ve learnt.”
Lovely, I was on show and could get a great view of the Finnigans’ faces!
“Alright, everyone. Drop your broomsticks onto the ground beside your leading hand and say ‘up’… good. Now swing your right leg over like this… not like that, Patrick, like this… yes, great. Make sure you have your leading hand above the other held about a hand apart. Now Kick off from the ground and rise about three feet into the air just off that one kick, on my whistle. One… two… three!”
Everyone rose into the air, with the few stragglers needing help from Coach Wood to do it. I sat aloft, bored except in the knowledge that know the Finnigans were already partway into their comeuppance; they were since they first sat down.
Eventually, everyone was hovering at around the right height. Coach Wood sighed, ran a hand through his hair, and instructed us to fly five feet forward. I smirked and sped forwards ten before the others had gone two, before pulling back to the required distance, narrowly avoiding knocking Sean off his broom (as planned).
Then, our plans came right to the foreground.
There was a problem over with Fergal’s broom; it appeared that he had gone backwards instead of forwards, and however much he leaned forwards, the broom just shot backwards… how curious!
Already, part two section A had come around for us.
As Fergal (lump of meat as he is) shot further and further backwards, his twin and younger brother tried to follow him, only to find that when Reagan tried to go up, she went down, and when Sean tried to turn left, he turned right.
Quickly, a dominoes effect of everyone falling off their brooms created chaos and I couldn’t help laughing at the horrified looks on the three eldest Finnigans’ faces as they twirled around and around, trying their hardest to right themselves, and failing miserably. I flew wonkily over to Hugo, drunk from laughter, and we leaned against each other, howling, as each of the three ended up hitting many objects as they tried to get handles on their brooms’ new directions.
They ended up shooting into the sky, crashing into each other and falling to the ground, and crashing into trees at the edge of the field, where disturbed birds flew startled up and away, only to find great, ugly ‘birds’ in the sky too.
Coach Wood ran after Fergal at first, then stood in the centre of the field tearing his hair out and attempting to fire spells after them. Eventually, he started screaming instructions after the Finnigans as they flew around, and even stomped his foot. I thought people only did that in muggle movies or if their name was Malfoy, but there you have it.
Unfortunately, Reagan was the first to get a handle on the new way her broom worked, and she started slowly and clumsily trying to follow her siblings, screaming profanities at Hugo and I from her lofty perch. Did it honestly have our names written over it quite that much?
Although now I think about it, there was never really any other answer, was there?
But we were in for a head-bashing from Coach.
About twenty minutes later, we were stood in front of Reagan, Sean and Fergal, and Hugo and I wore identical expressions of stubbornness. We refused to apologise to these twits, and Coach wasn’t happy.
“Just do it already!” someone with a distinctly Irish accent shouted and I shot two fingers in their general direction without taking my eyes off Reagan’s piggy ones, which were currently narrowed at me.
Everyone wanted us to apologise, and I sighed. “You know what? I apologise. I’m sorry that I didn’t play this trick on you earlier, you fat cow!”
“You - ”I didn’t wait around to hear the end of the sentence. Instead, I legged it. Already it was way past home time, and Hugo ran only a split second after me, in a different direction. Neither of us would go to our homes – they would look there – but we were both headed in different directions for our treehouse. It was the only way.
By the time I had sprinted all the winding route through Godric’s Hollow, through the field and the woods, I was less a speed demon than a jogging dog. But hey ho.
Hugo rolled his eyes as I pulled myself through the entrance. “Took you long enough, didn’t it?”
I scowled in return. “Next time you can outrun Reagan and barely keep your head on when she attempted to perform her off-broom-cartwheel!” Reagan always shows off as she dismounts her broom by doing a cartwheel off. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing on a broom she can do better than us… but considering that all the Finningans’ brooms had had Wheezes’ best Super-Strength Glue spread on them, it was rather painful just to watch.
Haha… I betted that they would have denim stuck to their bums for the next ten days.
“So, Hughie, when’s the next flying lesson? I mean, the - ”
“Next Monday,” Hugo said, cutting me short. “Honestly, Lilian, we’ve only been flying every Monday for the past six years.”
“Hey! I just wanted to check! …and don’t call me Lilian.”
“Well, by next Monday, I say we have them drenched with all our watery antics - ”
“What watery antics?”
“The ones I have no idea about as of yet, but will create all through this week. You dig?
“Sure; sounds great!” I said enthusiastically.
“Ok. And then next Monday, we’ll repeat the trick, but with different directions.”
And we slapped high-fives before reversing down the step ladder to run to the stream, me taking just a moment on my way out to wonder, again, exactly whose treehouse this really was.
By next Monday, we had the Finnigans in a spitting rage. We had well and truly doused them with our ‘water antics’; through water balloons, hosepipes, well-placed buckets of water, muggle water-firing rings, water guns, and more water balloons, they had had a lovely shower at least once a day.
And before the flying lesson, Hugo managed to fix the tail twigs again and swap the brooms end-to-end, so that when urged the broom forward, the tail twigs thought he meant the other way around, and sped off that way. The only reason we could do this was because of a fashion for enchanting the sweepy-bit of the broom to be the director about ten years ago; ‘for smoother circles!’, they said, and now those old brooms had filtered down to us. Well, the Finnigans, anyway – mine and Hugo’s were six or seven years old, because as Mum had said, “You’ll most likely trash them doing some mad thing or other. You’re not having racing brooms until there are teachers around to teach you how to mend them.”
So once again, the three Finnigans spent the lesson attempting to get used to the newer adjustments to their brooms, because all the directions had changed again. Coach Wood didn’t even try this time, just Summoned a butterbeer and drank deeply.
And when, at the end of the little circus show, Reagan stormed off her broom that had soaked her when she changed directions, and marched up to me and spat at my feet, it felt like I had already won.
“This. Is. War…freak,” she spat, before turning on her heel and marching away. The effect was marred by her brothers crashing headlong behind her, but I just smiled. She would get the slightly more good-natured-joke feel later on.
But for now, I had exactly what I wanted.
The Grand Plan was well on its’ way… and I had more plans for furthering our progress, too.
*A/N: Hey guys! So this was originally written a few weeks back when I was working my butt off to get chapters out to you guys in the 1-hour queue time. So I've had to rewrite this AN because otherwise it would be all "this is the third chapter I've written and have 16 minutes of laptop power left" or something.
So yeah. This is a lame AN. But I just got back from Barcelona, and this was waiting the whole time to be uploaded... And yeah, I'm back!
PS. Please review. It honestly speeds up my writing like a Pepper-Up Potion. Plus I've just been told I can't go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando when I visit America next year... *cries* so have some sympathy!*
23/3/2012 - minor edits
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