‘Witches and wizards, it’s Saturday night and it’s seven o’clock. So here on the Wizarding Wireless Network, it’s time for The Lee Jordan Show.’
The warm-up act left the stage to cheers and clapping from the studio audience. As the applause reached its peak, Lee Jordan walked out, gave a cheery wave, and created even more noise. He sat down in his comfortable black leather chair, adjusted his microphone, watched the clock and waited for the red light to turn green. It flashed into life at exactly one minute after seven, as always.
‘Hello, witches and wizards everywhere! Welcome to the Lee Jordan Show!’ he began. He watched the clock as he waited for the renewed applause to die down—fourteen seconds—his best was thirty-one. Lee wondered whether, after almost three years hosting the show, he needed to change his traditional opening lines. He made a mental note to discuss the opening with Alicia and the rest of the production team.
‘Thank you. We pride ourselves on finding the finest guests for this show, and tonight I have a real treat for you. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I am talking to not one, but two stars from the world of Quidditch.
‘My first guest is the man who helped rebuild Puddlemere United. The man who transformed them into the team they are today. The man who not only captains and plays Keeper for Puddlemere, a team which came from nowhere to finish second, behind Holyhead Harpies, in this season’s British and Irish League, but who only last month was made captain of the Scottish team. In addition to these remarkable achievements, last week this man won Witch Weekly’s “Most Attractive Male Quidditch Player” award. I’m sure he’ll have plenty to discuss with the winner of the “Most Attractive Female Quidditch Player” category, the long-time girlfriend of Harry Potter—three years together and still no ring, I’ve checked—Miss Ginny Weasley. Ginny will join us later in the show, and you’ll be able to hear her murder me on live radio for that comment about the ring.’
Lee waited for the laughter to die down before continuing.
‘But now, witches and wizards, please welcome my first guest this evening, Captain of Puddlemere and Scotland, the handsome Oliver Wood.’
As the applause rose Lee stood, and the famous wireless show host shook hands with the famous Quidditch Keeper. He motioned Oliver to sit on the guest sofa.
‘Oliver, welcome to the show.’
‘Before we start on your current career and on the other things I’ve mentioned, I’d like to ask you about something else. The third anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts is now less than three weeks away, and I want to discuss your part in that battle. In particular, I’d like to ask you about a statement you made to Quidditch Today just days after the Battle. I have the article right here.’ Lee waved the magazine with a flourish.
‘The story is about the deaths of three Puddlemere players and several fans at Hogwarts, I’ll read the opening line of the article.’ Lee ostentatiously cleared his throat and used the stilted and formal Wizarding Wireless Network announcer’s voice he always affected when reading a news article.
‘When asked about the reasons for his and his team’s involvement in the Battle of Hogwarts, Puddlemere’s reserve Keeper, Oliver Wood, replied, “Voldemort doesn’t play Quidditch”. Would you care to expand on that remarkable comment, Oliver?’
‘I’m a little uncertain as to what I actually said that day, Lee. Things were very confused in the days after the battle, as I’m sure you remember. I thought that I’d said, “Voldemort doesn’t like Quidditch”, but that report may well be correct.’
‘Nevertheless, Puddlemere United are now renowned as, “the team who fought at Hogwarts!” and it started, like many of these stories do, with a girl, correct?’
‘Katie Bell, yes,’ Oliver said quietly. He then lapsed back into silence.
Lee pursed his lips and thought quickly. Oliver was never an easy man to interview. There were two reasons for this: first, they knew each other too well; and second, Oliver never, ever, talked about personal matters, especially not about Katie. When Ginny came on, halfway through the show, Lee knew that things would be no better. She had made it abundantly clear that she would talk about Quidditch, but not about her relationship with Harry. Unfortunately, Lee knew that the story of Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter was the only thing his audience really wanted to hear about.
Oliver’s silence stretched out into several seconds and, as his audience became restless, Lee had no option but to fill the void.
‘So, Oliver, why do you think that Voldemort didn’t play Quidditch?’
Oliver sat forwards in his chair.
‘He had no respect for the game, its players, or its teams. Surely that’s obvious.’
‘Is it?’ Lee asked. ‘How can you be so sure?’
‘Quidditch is the sport of wizards, the noble game. There isn’t a witch or wizard in the country who if you asked them, “which team do you support?” wouldn’t tell you instantly.’
‘Unless they’re Cannons fans, they like to keep the fact quiet,’ observed Lee. His audience laughed appreciatively.
‘No,’ Oliver protested. ‘Even Cannons fans aren’t afraid to show their support, no matter how misguided it may be. But Voldemort, or Tom Riddle, as Harry likes us to call him, showed no interest at all in the game.’
‘We now know that he was brought up in a Muggle orphanage and that he knew nothing about our ways,’ Lee pointed out.
‘That has nothing to do with it,’ Oliver said dismissively. Lee watched his friend happily; Oliver was getting passionate about Quidditch, and that always made for a good interview.
‘It doesn’t?’ Lee goaded.
‘Two of the finest young players I ever saw were brought up by Muggles. Everyone knows Harry’s story, but fewer know the story of Katie Bell. I hold Tom Riddle personally responsible for the fact that these two remarkable players were lost to the world of Quidditch. As captain of my national team, Scotland, I’m really rather pleased that the England selectors are unable to pick the finest Seeker, and one of the finest Chasers of their generation.’
‘I’m certain that another England Chaser, Ginny Weasley, may have something to say about that comment,’ Lee remarked, getting another appreciative laugh from the crowd. Oliver was not distracted.
‘Ginny’s not bad either, but Harry Potter climbed onto a broom for the first time when he was eleven and he proved to be a brilliant flyer. Katie Bell was exactly the same; she was Muggle-born, but she was a natural on a broom. When I left school, I told the Puddlemere scout to keep an eye on both Harry and Katie, and he did. Harry, of course, kept getting himself injured, not always during the game!’
‘Katie was in the year above Harry,’ Lee interjected before Oliver took off on an angry tangent about Harry Potter’s dangerous non-Quidditch related activities.
‘That’s right, Lee. As you know, within weeks of leaving school, Katie was on Puddlemere’s books and she was training with the squad. She fitted in really well and, just like Ginny at the Harpies, she was put straight into the first team. Then, just before the season started, she was summoned in front of the Muggle-born Registration Commission.’ Oliver spat the words contemptuously.
‘The nonsense that the Quidditch League has always had to put up with from the Department of Magical Sports and Games is bad enough, but having the Minister’s Office, this “Muggle-born Registration Commission” interfering too! It was ridiculous. Besides: Pureblood, Muggle-born, who cares?’ Oliver turned and addressed the audience directly. Lee smiled; this was going to be a good show.
‘To a true Quidditch fan, it doesn’t matter. Werewolf, half-veela, house-elf, whatever you care to name; to a fan, there is only one important question, isn’t there? Are … they … any … good?’ The audience cheered as Oliver forcefully emphasised every word.
‘So you believe that Quidditch helps to reduce prejudice? Is it really that significant?’ Lee asked.
‘We all know that Quidditch isn’t a matter of life and death. It’s much more important than that!’ Oliver continued to cheers and laughter.
‘Our manager, Phil Deverill, tore up the summons and went to see Umbridge himself. It didn’t work. According to Phil, the stupid old bat didn’t even know the difference between a Seeker and a Chaser! So, reluctantly, Puddlemere United had to let Katie go. She didn’t go to the Commission, of course. She went into hiding and joined the Resistance. It was a huge loss to our team and whose fault was that?’
‘Umbridge,’ the audience roared angrily.
‘Yes. But only because Tom “Voldemort” Riddle was allowing the Ministry to interfere in team selection!’ Oliver said angrily. Even after three years, an uneasy hush fell across the audience when Oliver said the name.
‘To be honest, Lee, I had never been interested in politics. Quidditch was my life and I didn’t pay much attention to anything else. That, I suddenly realised, was wrong of me; politics was interfering with the game. It wasn’t until we lost Katie that I realised how serious this whole Voldemort thing was. Voldemort didn’t care about Quidditch! So I found myself getting more and more involved, I’m not a hero, not like the Resistance, but I did my best to help them whenever I could. I kept in touch with Katie and I took an interest.’ Oliver paused for breath. This time Lee did not fill the silence but, sensing the audience expectation, simply waited for Oliver to continue.
‘We finished seventh in the league that season; I’ve no doubt that it would have been higher, had we had Katie on the team. We didn’t and, sadly, we still don’t. We weren’t the only team affected by the loss of players of course, but it didn’t take me long to realise that Voldemort was bad for the game.’
‘So how exactly did your team end up at Hogwarts?’ Lee asked.
‘I’d like to be able to tell you that Puddlemere got involved in the Battle because of a sense of duty, but we didn’t. It was an accident. The night the battle started was the night of the retirement presentation for the brilliant Gordon Slopes, my predecessor as first team Keeper. I’ll be forever indebted to Gordon. He taught me a lot, and he saved my life during the battle.
‘The retirement presentation was being held at the Puddlemere Alhambra and Katie knew that. She arrived during the meal, walked up to me, and said, “Harry’s at Hogwarts; this is it. I just came to say goodbye.” She didn’t ask me to go with her, and I don’t really think that she expected me to go. But I realised how important this was, not just for her, but for the game, for everyone.
‘I told her I was coming with her. A couple of the other players tried to talk me out of it. One of them asked me why I wanted to go. I reminded him that Jocelind Wadcock, one of the finest Chasers Puddlemere, or the world, has ever seen had been arrested by the Muggle-born Registration Commission only a week earlier. She was eighty-seven years old, but she still came to every game and sat in the Chairman’s box as our honoured guest. She had watched every home game since she retired and now she couldn’t, because she was Muggle-born.’ Oliver looked beseechingly at the audience, he was reliving the moment.
‘I asked, “How much longer are we prepared to allow this interference?” I said Vol—actually, I can’t remember everything that I said. I know that I said, “You-Know-Who doesn’t play Quidditch. He won’t let us pick the players we want.” I asked, “What next, no half-bloods? That would leave us with four players! They might even try to ban the game, because we all know that the Death Eaters don’t like big crowds.” Well, whatever I said, when I’d finished talking, Gordon Slopes stood and said, “I’m coming, too,” and before we knew what was happening the entire team and the manager, and the head of the supporters club and various wives and husbands were all on their feet. Katie told us that it would be dangerous, but that didn’t put us off. She knew the secret way into Hogwarts. The Aurors had a Floo connection set up at the Leaky Cauldron.’
By now Lee’s audience were cheering and clapping and there were even chants of “Puddlemere forever” ringing out. Lee smiled happily and attempted to calm them down.
‘Let the man finish, please,’ Lee requested. ‘So, when you say it was an accident that Puddlemere fought, what you meant, of course, was that it was a coincidence, you would have gone anyway. You simply took some volunteers with you.’
‘That’s right, Lee. There’s not much more for me to say. We went, and we fought. We did our bit because we knew that it was the right thing to do for the future of Quidditch, and for the wizarding world. So far as I know, our Beaters, Eilish Plunkett and Mick Moralee, are the only people to have tried to fight trolls and giants using Bludgers. They did a bloody good job too. Yes, we won the battle, but it was a terrible time.’ Oliver paused, he was close to tears, and the audience was respectfully silent.
‘We lost four members of our supporters club in that battle, Fred and Alma Witherington, Mike Mackinnon and Andy Andrews. We lost our Seeker, Becky Bunting; a Chaser, Nobby Gates, and we lost poor old Gordon, whose retirement lasted only hours. Gordon pushed me out of the way when a troll attacked us. He took the blow himself. Our Captain, Davey Mabey, lost a hand to a curse and never played again. Half a dozen others were injured. We have the only Beater in the league with a wooden leg, and I still think her three-match ban last season, for using the leg as a second Beater’s bat, was completely unfair.’
Oliver looked out at the audience and lowered his voice even further.
‘I … I was one of those who went out into the grounds to help the wounded. I was with “Snakeslayer” Longbottom when we found the body of the youngest victim of the battle. His name was Colin Creevey and he was sixteen, and he was a Gryffindor student who photographed every Quidditch game. He was Muggle-born, but that doesn’t matter. It never mattered. All that mattered was that Colin was a Quidditch fan.’ Oliver paused and blew his nose noisily; the audience remained raptly silent.
‘Harry Potter would have been a great Seeker, but he decided to become an Auror. Katie Bell would have been a great Chaser, but she never came back to Quidditch. She is still running the Society for the Assistance of Muggle-borns, still helping those made homeless, robbed and crippled during that terrible year. I don’t blame her, or Harry, they are doing what they need to do, helping in the way they want to help. Why? Because Voldemort didn’t care about Quidditch. Never trust anyone who doesn’t like Quidditch.’
‘Well, thanks for that, insight, Oliver.’ Lee’s voice was low and respectful. ‘Thank you for that timely reminder to everyone. Every year, we remember the anniversary of the Battle and we pay our respects to the fallen, to those ordinary people who did something extraordinary. People like the players and fans of Puddlemere United. I think that now would be a good time to bring on my second guest, Holyhead Harpies and England Chaser, and another veteran of the Battle of Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley.’