Chapter 3 : First Name Basis
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“Thank you very much,” the man, Trent Bergeson, squeaked appreciatively. He was a scrawny guy – definitely not an athlete – and had these crooked glasses that made him look kind of quirky. The hair that sat on his head was thin and neatly groomed. When you add all of that to the way his store uniform seemed to sit perfectly straight and tidy on him, it was clear he wanted to make a good impression. “You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I’ve tried carrying those boxes up the steps before, and its hard work. I’m too old to do it myself. I tried to last year, and I ended up throwing out my back.”
I gave him a wide, humble smile, “Really, it was no problem. We’re just glad to help.”
That’s what I said. What I wanted to say was something along the lines of, “Well yeah, I think I’ve lost all the feeling in my arms. No dip you worked yourself crippled.” That would’ve been rude though, and I wanted this guy to like me.
Then the bell rang as Mason entered the room, carrying the final box. Beads of sweat rolled down his face as the air conditioning blew his hair out of his eyes. He was wearing the same blank, serious expression he had on all day. Other than the sweat, nothing suggested that he was tired and for all I knew he might not have been. I mean, he did look considerably stronger than me. I’m rambling now.
Anyway, he strode in and placed the heavy box on the counter with a thud. Trent went on and gave him the same overzealous thank you that he gave me. The difference was that Mason just skipped the friendly ‘oh, it’s no problem’ part, and just gave him a grunt.
“I guess you two should be headed to lunch then,” Trent said, putting his hands into his pockets and rocking onto his toes.
I looked over at Mason to see if he could confirm that, but of course I couldn’t get a read on his face. “Er, I guess so,” I answered.
Trent glanced over at the clock. He seemed to be used to instructing the new guys on the first day. “My bet would be that most of everyone is done by now. That’s to be expected though; interns have a lot of work to do on their first day,” he told us, the corners of his eyes crinkling slightly as he tried to look friendly. “Anyway, come on, I’ll show you to the picnic area.”
We followed Trent out the door of his little shop, which was located on the south side of the stadium on the eleventh floor. That’s why it had been such a haul to get the boxes up there, as they had been delivered on ground level. Then we learned we couldn’t just levitate them up the stairs because the boxes would wobble and the fragile merchandise inside would be subject to break. I feel terribly sorry for Muggles. It must stink to have to do all of this stuff manually.
We turned a corner, and made our way back over to the steps. I must say that I was rather proud of myself. I was starting to get to know my way around the stadium already. Give it another week and I would know the place like a book. No more getting lost like we did earlier.
Climbing the steps to the thirteenth floor was painful. I mean, after going back and forth from the main level carrying fifty pounds worth of merchandise countless times made my muscles feel like rubber. Now, those two floors we had to climb to lunch made my muscles protest vehemently.
As we walked, Trent talked about what was coming up with our internships. “The work load won’t keep up like this,” he was saying, “By the end of the summer you’ll just be hanging around the scouts and such. This is all prep for opening day, once prep is done your job will basically be done.”
It was nice to hear a bit about what was in store for us. I mean, no one had cared to tell us diddly-squat about anything yet. I had just been rolling with the punches, taking things one task at a time. Of course, it was also good to hear that the manual labor wouldn’t persist. As much as I loved carrying heavy boxes, I didn’t exactly feel like doing such an overload on the physical exertion all summer.
The picnic area wasn’t too far away from the opening of the stairs. Like Trent’s store, it was on the south side of the stadium. Basically, it was a relatively small grassy area with ten picnic benches scattered around. Several pots filled with pretty red flowers with black leaves were placed as a center piece on each table, and they decorated the ground along the edges of the iron railing that wrapped around the space. Other than a few other shop-keepers, like Trent, it was relatively empty.
My heart sank. I had been hoping that Teddy would stick around for lunch. That way I could hang out with him, and get to know some of his friends at the same time. Suck up to them, that is. Now, without Teddy there, I would be alone with Mason, and lord knows that was going to be awkward.
“I’m going to leave you two here then, your lunch is in the coolers,” Trent said. Suddenly, I had a strong desire for him to stay.
“You’re sure that you can’t join us?” I tried out of sheer desperation.
“No can do,” he said, shaking his head solemnly, “I’ve got to start unloading all those boxes you two just brought up.” I repressed a grimace.
“All right, well, see you around,” I said, waving him a half-hearted goodbye. He disappeared around the corner all too quickly, leaving me alone with Mason.
“After you,” he said, holding out his arm towards one of the tables. I couldn’t tell if he was being genuine, or if this was just his way of being obnoxiously sarcastic. Thus, I just sort of went with it, walking toward one of the tables and taking a seat.
There was a cooler sitting on the ground by the end of the table, and I scooted towards it. It looked like a normal cooler, but obviously it couldn’t be. I mean, I didn’t put my lunch in there. I lifted the lid open. It was empty. Suddenly, a voice spoke from it.
“Name?” it asked. I can say for certain that it was a woman speaking to me, but that’s about it. Something about it seemed very mechanical.
“Lily Potter,” I answered. There was a sound similar to a vacuum running, and my lunch appeared suddenly with a pop quite similar to one that you would hear when apparating. I grabbed it and started pulling the paper bag open. Mason followed close behind me, telling the mechanized woman his name, then sitting across from me with his lunch.
He began to go at his lunch, picking at a ham sandwich. Judging by the way he wasn’t exactly looking at me, it didn’t look like he planned on talking. Well, I had other plans. Eating lunch in silence is one of the worst buzz kills.
“So how’s your day been going, Mason?” I asked with a small hint of sarcasm. He blinked at me with a look of incomprehension on his face. I know that, technically, we’ve been having the same day, but I don’t think that my question was all that complicated.
“Well my day has been great,” I said with vigor, ignoring the look. “I mean, look at this place, it’s amazing.”
“Really?” Mason asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. The poor boy looked like he sort of wanted to be left alone at the moment. I was probably bothering him. Oh well.
“Yup, this is like living the dream, right?” I told him as I opened a bag of potato chips. “We’re working for The Falmouth Falcons, and in a few months we’re going to try-out and become full-time professional players.” Really, this should’ve been obvious to him. I didn’t understand why he could look so down. This was like the smart track to the big time. Who wouldn’t be excited? Oh that’s right, Mason wouldn’t be.
“No, we are interns,” Mason corrected me. “We have a chance to make a team, but that doesn’t mean we will.”
“Way to be optimistic,” I muttered sarcastically.
“I’m being realistic,” Mason countered. “No one can just expect that they’re going to make it. That’s how you lose.”
“I disagree,” I told him seriously as I moved on from my chips to a baggie of grapes. “If you expect that you aren’t going to make it then you’re setting yourself up for failure, too. I mean, if you don’t think you can do it then you start thinking along the lines of ‘why try’. Then you’re doomed.”
“I didn’t say to assume you’re not going to make it. I just said to keep in mind that you’re not there yet,” Mason pointed out. “No one is a shoe-in. Once you assume you’ve made it you slack. When you slack you lose.”
I considered what he was saying for a moment. He did have a point, but at the same time I thought that his words were still flawed. “I never said anything about slacking. See, it doesn’t end when you’ve made the team. You haven’t really made it until you’re holding the World Cup over your head. I’m talking like I’ve made the team, but I know that I’m not at World Cup level yet, not by a long shot.”
Mason nodded, eating his peanuts in silence for a moment. I could see the team captain in him coming out. Back when we were at school, he was a legend for not only his skills on the pitch, but also for his coaching. There wasn’t a Hufflepuff in the school who didn’t look at him as a role model. Personally, I never understood it. I mean, I might have heard him talk once or twice in the entire seven years we were at school. How a guy that never talks becomes the most liked person in his house beats me. I guess that's what happens when you win five out of the six house cups you competed for.
“Still, nothing’s set in stone,” Mason said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to act like you’ve already made the team.”
“Are you trying to tell me something here, Mason?” I asked, feigning offense. I was just kidding, I knew that he was generalizing; however, he took my words literally.
“No,” he said simply. “I’m talking about me too, and anyone who thinks they’re going to make a professional team.”
“I don’t think you have much to worry about,” I told him honestly. He leaned back, his eyes studying my face carefully.
“How so?” he inquired as he chewed on a stick of celery.
“Dude, you were like the best Keeper to ever step foot in Hogwarts,” I said. “I doubt there is a team out there that wouldn’t take you if you walked onto their field for try-outs.”
“I don’t think so,” he mumbled.
“Seriously? Didn’t you have like seven or so scouts talking to you after that game?” I asked. He couldn’t seriously think that he wasn’t any good. I swear I hate people like that. If you’re good just admit it. Don’t boast or anything, but don’t tell people that you suck. It’s just stupid.
“I had one scout come up to me after the game actually, and he told me I needed work,” Mason said. My jaw could’ve hit the floor, I was so shocked. The thought that anyone could’ve possibly missed his plethora of talent was unfathomable.
Suddenly, his lips twisted into a wry smile. “They said that you had to be flawless to get into the big leagues off of pure talent. I wasn’t flawless; I was scored on three times by you.”
“You’re here because of me,” I mumbled more to myself than him. I even put down my cookie because I was so deep in thought. It might sound terrible, but something about that made me happy. The only thought that went through my head was that the scouts had noticed me. They had taken note of my whopping three goals.
“Yup,” Mason said, stretching his arms out. “Not that I could complain. You’re here because of me, too.”
That struck me. I was here because of him, and he was here because of me. It was all one, rather big, circular mess.
“We should get going, Potter,” Mason said, crumpling up his paper baggie that his lunch was in and tossing it into the dust bin.
I nodded, throwing away my own rubbish away, and standing up. We had been told that when we were free we were supposed to head over to the sixth floor, and wait on the scouts while they worked over the stats for returning players and possible recruits.
Then I paused, it didn’t seem right for Mason to keep calling me Potter all summer. Especially now that it looked like we were being friendly. “Hey, Mason,” I said, stopping him.
“Hmm?” he asked as he rotated on his heels so that he was facing me.
“Call me Lily.”
“Well then we should go, Lily,” he said, emphasizing my name. I smiled. That sounded better.
“OK, Parker,” I responded, not even bothering to ask permission to call him by his first name. We were a team now, as we would be working side by side doing menial labor for the rest of the summer. He would just have to deal with the fact that we were going to be on a first name basis.
A/N Big thanks to JustBrilliant for being my amazing beta :)