Chapter 6 : Wizards and Football
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“Ed?” she asked, closing the door behind her. He jumped, looked up, and tried to cram the book in between two of the cushions.
“Hi,” he said. His voice was several octaves higher than it usually was.
Lily briefly considered letting it go – after all, it was possible that she really didn’t want to know – but in the end, curiosity overwhelmed her.
She plopped down on the couch next to him and reached for the book. After a moment of wrestling for it, he sighed and gave up.
“What the hell, Edwin.” She shoved him playfully before looking down at the cover. The first thing that caught her eye was a very realistic-looking dragon flying around the cover.
Lily had only a moment to marvel at muggle technology before she noticed the title.
“The Great Dragon-Pox Epidemic of 1934,” she read, and looked back up at him incredulously. “Are you seriously reading this?”
His face coloured slightly. “Yes,” he said, reaching for it. “Now give it back.”
Lily held it out of his reach and scrutinised it closely. “Where did you even get this?”
Her cousin refused to meet her eyes. “Your friend Scorpius dropped it off,” he mumbled. “He said you might find it interesting.”
Lily turned the book over. “Why would I care about a dragon pox epidemic that happened years before I was born?” she asked in consternation.
Now it was Edwin’s turn to be surprised. “Well, there’s a whole chapter about a woman named Diana Potter in it,” he said. “I assumed she was some relative of yours.”
Lily flopped back onto the couch as she thought about it. “Maybe,” she said slowly. She’d certainly heard the name somewhere before, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember where. “I think she might be some distant cousin a few times removed or something.”
Edwin reached for the book, and this time, she relinquished it. “Is she still alive?” he asked curiously. “It says that she was born in 1920, but it doesn’t give a death date.”
“Dunno. Probably.” Lily grabbed a pillow and hugged it to her chest. “Since when are you interested in magic?” she asked curiously. “You always stay away from that stuff.”
He shrugged and opened the book again. “I didn’t know that there were magical diseases,” he said, flipping through it. “That’s interesting.” He handed the book back to her. “Here,” he said, tapping the left page.
Lily took the book. Sure enough, in bold letters along the edge of the page were the words, “Chapter 4: Diana Potter.” Next to them was a black and white picture of a dark-haired young woman looking very studious next to a pile of old and dusty looking books.
Lily looked up at Edwin, momentarily thrown. Her muggle second cousin educating her on the magical world was not something she had ever expected to happen.
“Read it,” he urged, and she glanced back down at the page.
One of the most well-known and influential researchers in the modern day is surely Diana Potter. Potter, who lost her mother to dragon-pox in 1928 and her sister during the great epidemic of 1934--
Lily looked back up. “Now I remember,” she said. “My cousin Dominique works in Dragon Research. She’s mentioned Diana and her daughter Jenna before. It just never clicked that I was actually related to her.” She handed him the book. “You can finish it. Just give it to me when you’re done.”
She was beginning to really miss the magical world. She didn’t miss the monsters and the near-death experiences all her loved ones seemed to enjoy courting, of course - she couldn’t get far enough away from them - but she missed being able to use magic openly, and she missed the thrill of Quidditch.
Her heart swelled a little as she realised that Scorpius had probably guessed that, and dropped the book off for that reason as much as the reference to the distant cousin.
She was lucky to have a friend like him.
For the first time since she’d sat down, she noticed two glasses on the table, and two plates stacked on top of each other. The top one had the remnants of pizza crust.
She looked at Edwin curiously. “Who’d you have over? Anthony?”
He looked up from the book and grinned. “Your friend Scorpius stayed for a couple hours. He stole my pizza and played FIFA with me.”
Lily stared at him. “You’re joking,” she said flatly. Edwin didn’t look like he was joking, but at the same time, Lily found it very difficult to imagine Scorpius Malfoy sitting in a muggle’s flat playing a football game on her cousin’s playstation.
To say nothing of his eating pizza. Lily was fairly sure that Scorpius was still so far removed from the muggle world that he only vaguely knew what pizza was. She remembered him eyeing it with a good deal of suspicion when Rose and Albus had ordered some at the beginning of the summer and refusing to eat any.
Edwin shook his head. “He’s rubbish, Lily,” he said.
“Well, what do you expect?” Lily asked, a smile spreading across her face. “Ed, I doubt he even knew where the buttons were.”
“Well, yeah,” Edwin acknowledged, “but I let him play Athletic Bilbao, and I played a segunda team, and I still crushed him.” At Lily’s blank stare, he added quickly, “Segunda are the second division. And it wasn’t even a really good team like Barcelona B, it was--”
“Okay,” Lily said quickly. “I get it.” That wasn’t quite true - she only had a vague idea of what he was talking about - but she knew that she didn’t care enough about football to try to understand it. “And I know about Athletic,” Lily added when he opened his mouth again. “I’ve watched a couple of their matches with Annie.”
Her cousin snorted. “Of course you have.” He reached over to pick up the dishes and carried them into the kitchen. “How was practice?” he called as he rinsed the plates and loaded them into the dishwasher.
Initially, Lily had just tried to make the dishes wash themselves - her grandmother was great at it, as was her godbrother Teddy - but after a few broken plates that she hadn’t been able to properly fix, Edwin had banned her from using magic in the kitchen.
Lily groaned. “Terrible,” she admitted. “I keep forgetting that I’m not allowed to use my hands.”
Edwin glanced at the clock as he reentered the room. “I didn’t realise it was that late,” he said, looking very surprised. “How long did Annie keep you for?”
“Not so long. We hung out for a bit afterward.” Lily stifled a yawn. It was a lot later than she’d expected - after her breakdown in the park, Annie had offered to take her out to eat.
Lily was not one to turn down free food or Annie’s company, particularly since the latter could be quite hard to come by.
“Annie carved out a few hours to spend time with you?” Edwin nudged her. “She must like you. There something you’re not telling me?”
Lily felt her face get hot. “No,” she said defensively. “She’s just my friend.”
“Joking.” Edwin picked up the book and opened it. “God, Lily. Calm down.”
He began to read again, and Lily bit her lip. “Is that uncommon?” she asked casually after a minute or two.
He looked up. “What, Annie spending time with people?” She nodded, and he shrugged. “Well, a little. Annie’s social, but she’s busy, you know? She coaches that team she’s roped you into joining, and she also plays at a pretty high level.”
“How high?” Annie had always spoken a fair bit about the team she coached, and quite a lot about the teams she supported, but she’d never really talked in much detail about the team she played on. Lily had even tried to ask, and Annie had seemed to intentionally sidestep the question and change the subject.
Edwin frowned at her. “What, you don’t know?” Lily shook her head. “Annie’s really good, Lily. She’s been on the U-21 squad, and she’s getting a lot of attention from the coach of the national team at the moment.”
She blinked several time as she tried to process what he was saying. “What, like, of the country?”
“Yes, Lily, like of the country,” he said patiently. “She’s 19, and I bet she’ll be part of the squad next world cup. Not a starter, probably, but there’s time for that.”
Lily slouched back, momentarily flummoxed despite herself. “She never said anything,” she managed after a minute.
Edwin shrugged, and looked back at the book again. “Well, that’s how she is,” he said.
She could take a hint. She rose and made her way toward her room, calling, “Good night!” over her shoulder before she went inside. He was already so absorbed in the book that he didn’t seem to notice.
Lily pulled on her pyjamas and crawled into bed. It took her awhile to fall asleep, however; she was too busy mulling over what Annie hadn’t told her, and why.
Lily slept in the next morning, largely because she could. She woke up at 7:30am, looked at the clock, and promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. She repeated the process at 9:30, and when she finally decided she was ready to wake up just after 11, she grabbed one of her favourite books off her bedstand and spent over an hour absorbed in it.
She finally stumbled out of her room and into the kitchen well after noon. Edwin and Anthony were sitting at the table.
“Good morning,” she said cheerfully, making her way toward the fridge and pouring herself some juice.
They both gave her similar looks of disgusted and didn’t respond. Lily took that to mean that they’d had early morning classes that day. It was something that she supposed she probably should have known about Edwin, at least, but she was a bad cousin that way.
She slid into the seat next to Anthony. “How are you guys today?”
“I was up half the night writing a paper that apparently isn’t due until next week,” Anthony said irritably. “I hate my life.” She giggled - that was one thing about Hogwarts that she definitely didn’t miss - and he asked belatedly, “How are you?”
Lily shrugged. “Fine,” she said. “Though I’m still rubbish at football.”
“Well, we can’t all be national team material,” Anthony said off-handedly.
Lily swiveled her head to stare at Edwin. “Was I the only one who didn’t know?”
“It’s not a secret, Lily,” he said patiently, taking a long sip of iced tea. “It’s just not something she really talks about.”
“Wait, you didn’t?” Anthony asked in surprise. “I’d have thought she’d tell you. She seems to like you well enough.”
Until last night, that’s what Lily would have thought, too, and she couldn’t help but feel a little put out - even hurt - that Annie hadn’t mentioned anything. As far as Lily had known before the conversation with Edwin, Annie was a big football fan who was reasonably good as far as the general population went, but certainly wasn’t of a high enough caliber to play in the World Cup.
Even Lily knew what the World Cup was - though that was mostly because of Quidditch.
If Annie was really that good, Lily could not for the life of her understand why her family wasn’t fully backing her ambitions - or, for that matter, why she was spending time running a tea shop.
Through a few dropped questions over breakfast and MarioKart that she hoped sounded casual, she gathered from her cousin and Anthony that Annie had been playing football with her older brothers almost from when she’d learned to walk. Her brothers had grown out of it eventually, other than occasionally kicking a ball around on a nice day.
“You know,” Edwin said after one of the races, “if you want to know, you should ask her yourself.”
So she did.
A few days later, she and Annie were the last two left in the shop and were cleaning up for the day. Lily had declined Annie’s offer to leave once they’d closed, sensing her chance to ask about the whole thing without having to deal with interruptions or eavesdroppers.
“Edwin and I were talking the other day,” she called from across the room as she wiped down tables.
Annie glanced over at her. “Oh?”
“He said that you were going to be on the national team in the next World Cup.”
Annie didn’t react for a moment, and then she tossed the rag she was using down on the counter and made a face. “Edwin has a big mouth.”
Lily hesitated. She didn’t want to come off as overbearing and clingy, but at the same time, she really wanted to know why Annie hadn’t ever even mentioned it to her. Once she’d thought about it, Lily was even fairly certain that Annie had intentionally said things to mislead her.
Eventually, however, her desire to know overwhelmed her. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she blurted out.
Annie scrutinised her for a moment. “Because I didn’t really want you to know,” she said at last.
Lily winced and turned away. She was beginning to wish that she hadn’t said anything, that she’d just left when Annie had told her to. The purpose of coming to the muggle world in the first place had been to get away from stress - while perhaps this wasn’t quite the same thing as her family landing themselves in St. Mungo's all the time, it still left her feeling more than a little awful.
“Oh, god,” she heard Annie say, and her friend’s footsteps echoed through the empty shop as she made her way across the room to where Lily standing, wiping down the same spot on the same table over and over again. “Lily, it’s not...” She sighed, yanked out one of the chairs, and collapsed into it. “Look, it’s not about you,” she said, massaging her temples.
“Then what is it about?” Lily asked, sinking into the other seat.
“A few things,” Annie said, forcing a smile. “For one thing, it’s a little awkward to work ‘I’ll probably be a famous athlete in five years’ into a conversation, especially if you don’t want to sound arrogant - which I don’t.”
“And...” Annie sighed again. “People have a tendency to treat you differently. Nobody’s actually heard of me - top tier women’s football has become pretty popular, but most people haven’t even heard of second tier teams, let alone the players on them. But they hear ‘national team,’ and all of a sudden they’re nervous and awkward. That’s not something I need to deal with right now.”
“I wouldn’t have been,” Lily said. She’d had more than enough practice dealing with famous athletes - her mother was one, after all, and she still had a lot of friends from her days playing Quidditch.
And that was minor compared to her father, who was probably the most famous wizard in all of England.
Annie looked at her skeptically. “No?”
“My mum’s a pretty famous athlete,” Lily said without thinking. “So I’m used to that whole thing. Mostly it means really great seats.”
Annie let out a loud laugh. “Well, unfortunately, I don’t even have that yet. I just have scouts hovering by the sidelines during all of my games.” She cocked her head to the side. “What’s her name?”
Lily had gotten herself into trouble again. “I-- er--”
Annie rolled her eyes. “What, another secret?” Lily winced, and Annie flashed another smile. This one was easy and effortless, and Lily felt herself relax a little. “One day I want you to explain all these secrets to me.”
“All right,” Lily agreed without thinking. “How about when you win the world cup?”
Annie snorted. “Too far away, and it might not even happen. I’ll die of curiosity before that.”
Lily considered that. “How about when you get signed to a top team?”
Annie grabbed the rag, rose, and moved on to the next table. “Count on it.”
A/N: A quick disclaimer - as you’ve probably guess, the Dragon pox book is completely fictional. I made it up, and I made up the excerpt that Lily read.
Some context and credit: FIFA is a video game series developed by EA Sports that’s been around since the 90s. It’s released every year, and basically allows you to play existing football teams or even make your own. “Segunda Division” is what the second tier in Spanish football is called. “Barcelona B” is FC Barcelona’s reserve team - they’re quite good right now and probably will continue to be, but they can never be promoted to the first division because the main team plays in it.
Women's football gets less attention than men's, but it's growing in popularity and the quality is amazing. The Women’s World Cup last summer was super exciting - England’s quarter-final with France was easily one of the top ten most intense matches I've ever seen in my life. In 2015 (I know, it’s a ways off, but still), you should absolutely tune into it. You won’t regret it.
Wow. Long context. Sorry! Hopefully it was at least vaguely interesting.
I hope everyone else is as amused at the idea of Scorpius playing FIFA as I am, and I hope you enjoyed the chapter even if you’re not a big football fan. It was as much about Annie and Lily’s friendship as anything, there was just football talk thrown in.
Thanks for reading, and as always, I would greatly appreciate a review. :)
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