Ultimately Patrick can’t come up with any logical reason why he was here. Two years ago—hell—two days ago, Pat wouldn’t have picked himself to be crouching in a small, hollowed out space beneath the bramble, freezing his ass off in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, Canada, chasing rare and elusive pregnant dragons with a red-headed companion.
Unfortunately, his general confusion on how he came to be here was the tip of the iceberg; the rest of it was composed of his general confusion on life.
A V I S
Pat had always been a goal-oriented kind of guy. When he was younger, his life revolved around hockey games and hockey practices and hockey tournaments. Getting his letter had thrown a wrench into that, and seven years later, he still wasn’t sure if he’d ever fully recovered. Sure, he was a pretty driven guy in Hogwarts… well, in some things more than others.
Well actually, he was man enough to admit to himself that he was rarely, if ever, all that driven. It was kind of like life threw things at him, and he did his fucking best with it. Aside from hockey, there had never been anything that he strived for, nothing that he obsessed with so much that he’d stay up late into the night, shooting goals into the net in the garage even when the temperature dipped below freezing. Nothing inspired him like that.
And that was probably the issue.
Because now that he’d graduated, now that there were no quizzes and tests and essays and quidditch matches and red-heads causing mischief—
He didn’t know what to do with himself anymore.
Because hockey wasn’t an option any more. It hadn’t been, since he’d decided he wanted to jet off to boarding school in Scotland, and open his eyes to the magical world.
And for a while, a long while, magic was all he needed. Everything was so new and absolutely unreal, mind-boggling and beautiful and so magical that he sort of got caught up in it for a few years, so excited to learn all these new spells and see these creatures and be magical, be a part of that world.
He didn’t want to say that it had lost its luster—no, perhaps he’d just grown accustomed to it, learned to expect it, even. Had become more of a wizard and less of a muggle, until eventually he’d dropped his bags off in the living room of his house, not just for summer vacation but for forever, and was hit in the gut with an intense feeling of estrangement.
He’d felt so foreign in his childhood bedroom, so out of place and restless in his house, even surrounded by the people he loved, that he’d left a month or so later to find a job in London.
He ended up in a two bedroom flat above the Quidditch store that his roommate and fellow graduate Oliver Wood worked at. Wood was passing the time until Puddlemere United’s practices started, working for Broomstix because it was absolutely implausible for Wood to be away from Quidditch, ever , while Kaner busied himself at the apothecary. He was no great fan of potions—Snape had seen to that—but he was fairly decent at it, and quite frankly, had no idea what else to do with himself.
He had no inclination to be an Auror, or to work for the Ministry, and while he had entertained the idea of professional Quidditch—and certainly they had entertained the idea of him—he was no great fan of the Falmouth Falcons, and wasn’t about to wait around until another team made an offer. Nothing else remotely appealed to him, and though he’d been assured time after time that it was incredibly normal to be at a loss after graduation, it seemed that everyone he knew was doing something. Even if that something was questionable spell creations like Fulton Magby or corrupting the world with pureblood supremacy like Marcus Flint (or maybe he was repeating the year? Pat couldn’t remember) his fellow graduates were all moving on, while Pat felt like he hadn’t moved at all.
It seemed like fate, or maybe even just incredibly good timing, when Charlie Weasley walked into the Apothecary in late November, covered in soot and looking like he’d spent the better part of the last few years since graduation taming lions.
Or dragons, as it were.
Now Pat could appreciate the tall, toned and fortunately not too red-headed Weasley (and had, judiciously, for the better part of fifth year) but he’d never been so relieved to see him. Maybe because he was a reminder of days when the Wizarding World still held so much mystical wonder that Pat could completely overlook its many, overrun faults, or maybe just because he was really hot and was asking Pat out for lunch. Either way he ended up spending his break catching up with Charlie, and it went… remarkably well.
Better than anything else he’d done in the last couple months, anyway.
And when Charlie had invited him to come out to the Whiteshell reserve, no pressure, just try it out and see if you like it, Pat wasn’t about to say no.
Wood was permanently moving to Puddlemere soon anyway, and their lease only had a month left. Old man Jiggs looked somewhat sad at his parting, but mostly he just looked senile and confused.
So he took the chance on a whim, and that was how he ended up in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, Whiteshell, Manitoba, hunting for the nest of an American Ridgeback with Charlie Weasley.
Winnipeg was cold.
Winnipeg was cold and Patrick had grown up in fucking Buffalo, New York, and had spent the last seven years in the icy forests of northern Scotland. But Canada gave a whole new meaning to cold. It was bitter and bone-chilling, seeping right through his layers and layers of thermal kneazle-fur and no matter how many times he applied a warming charm it wore off in a matter of minutes.
That, and he lived in an oversized tent-house with poor heating and a fireplace or two with a bunch of rugged dragon tamers.
Charlie explained that he’d met most of them at the Romanian reserve, and had come out to the Great White North with a few of them to see the extraordinary sight that was a flight of American Ridgebacks migrating from one side of Canada to the other. The great migration wasn’t to take place until after February, which apparently was when southern Canada got too warm and they flew up to the desolate north. How in the fuck that was possible Kaner didn’t know, it was only November and he already had trouble feeling his thumbs.
Anyway, even Charlie and his ragtag team of tamers weren’t crazy enough to chase them all the way up there, which was why they were camped out around lower Manitoba, biding time until the great migration by observing the mating and breeding habits of the Ridgeback.
Kaner was definitely not going to be a dragon tamer.
He’d learned a lot in the few weeks he’d been with them, though. Everything from the best way to leap onto a dragon to subdue it—which was a terrifying thought if he ever heard one—to how to cook his eggs on a skillet in the snow. Also, he learned a lot in the applicable uses of the warming charm. He also learned a lot about Dragon tamers.
These guys were absolutely fucking crazy.
Blessed with a strange, rugged sort of handsomeness that Patrick had enough sense to realize he fell for every time, but still inevitably batshit crazy.
After spending an unnecessary amount of time that morning crouched in a bush in Whiteshell reserve, Pat wanted nothing more than a hot shower, a bed that wasn’t in the tent-house, and some actual food that wasn’t just magicked out of someone’s food storage and reheated.
“Guys,” He called, only to be met with stunning silence from his bush mates. “ Guys.”
Kaner made a noise of frustration, pulling out his wand and flicking a stinging hex right on Charlie’s ass.
“ Merlin—“ The redhead cursed, turning around to seethe in a low whisper, “Kaner. What.”
Kaner pouted. “It’s cold as Morgana’s tits here—also, we’ve been here for about three hours. Wait no, make that the better part of the morning. It’s lunchtime already, I’m getting something to eat. You coming?”
His companions made vague noises of discontent at the thought of leaving their watching perch. Charlie only gave him a shrug. “Not really up to food right now. Bring me back something though?”
Kaner gave him a scathing look. “Watch it Weasley, I’m not your bitch.”
The redhead waggled his brows. Pat didn’t have to know legillimency to know what Charlie was thinking, for it was clearly centered around last night.
He stomped off at that, getting into a truly unfair fight with the brambles as he attempted to exit, upon which he finally just threw a detangling spell at them to make his way out. He was in such a foul mood—cold to his very bones, no matter how many warming charms he threw at himself, at the fact that he’d been woken up at ass o’clock in the morning to sit around in a bush all day, at his terrible and incorrigible hunger —that he completely missed where he was going and by the time he looked up all he saw was a disorienting pattern of icy tundra.
That was the problem with being in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere Canada, Kaner groused, everything looked the same.
He wasn’t sure how far he wandered, but the snow drifted down over everything, diffusing the world in a hazy, dream-like glow. There was an iced over lake in front of him, its surface glistening like one giant polished diamond, gleaming against the white washed world. He squinted out into it, where an amorphous black shape had taken root.
He walked towards it, breath catching once he could make out what it was.
A goal post.
A hockey goal post.
And there, in the ice were tell tale lines, skating lines, places where someone cut quick, maneuvering around, places where the puck skidded against its surface and dented it. There was a hockey bag thrown haphazardly next to it, opened to reveal gear and a few sticks, another sack of pucks to go with the ones scattered around the ice, peppered lightly with the snowfall.
He looked around, but couldn’t make out anyone else in the gloomy effusion of snow, and the temptation had already called out to him.
He grabbed one before he could think twice about it, hands moving of their own accord as he dribbled one of the pucks, stepping back to give him some room away from the goal, careful of the traction.
He shot it quickly, a top-left shelf so fast that even Jonathan Quick would have had a hard time catching it. He drew another puck closer to him, pretended a fake before wristing it bottom right. It felt a little off somehow, and he deliberated for another moment before ultimately whipping his wand out for a little bit of transfiguration—hell, whoever’s stick this was, he had an entire bag full of other ones.
It went smoother this time, the puck sailing from his stick like he could control gravity itself.
Kaner forgot all about dragons and Charlie Weasley and how fucking cold Winterpeg was in winter, forgot about everything but the whoosh the wind made when he netted a puck, the way the stick felt in his hands.
He didn’t stop until all the pucks around him were collected into the bottom of the goal, breath a little labored as it misted in front of his face. So caught up in this, in hockey, a wrenching in his gut that reminded him of coming home.
“You’ve got a great shot.”
So caught up he hadn’t even realized he was being watched.
He whirled around, surprised to see a tall boy around his age standing with his hands in his pockets, a really offensive Blackhawks beanie on his head. His smile was small, and a little awkward, like it wasn’t used often.
Patrick eyed him guardedly.
He didn’t look mad.
“Sorry,” He said quickly, anyway. “I just…” He rubbed at the back of his hair. “Saw a goal and a stick and some pucks and kind of moved on my own.”
The other boy shook his head. “Nah, it’s fine. Probably would’ve done the same.”
And then, with a certain amount of awkwardness that made even Kaner cringe in embarrassment, he gave him what could only be perceived as a hopeful look. “Wanna shoot around with me?”
For the better part of the next two hours, his hunger had disappeared. So had the cold, apparently, because even without a warming charm Pat could feel the blood warm in his veins, could feel his toes and his fingers. All he knew was that he was playing hockey and having a good time. Playing great hockey, actually, even if they were just fooling around, just shooting the puck and neither of them even had skates, because this guy was good. No, he was better than good.
He was amazing—this Jon character, as he had introduced himself stiffly.
And Pat felt compelled to ask, “So, why are you even out here?”
The other boy startled at that, looking up from where he was about to take a slapshot. “Huh?”
“Well I just mean,” Kaner gestured broadly to their surroundings, blanketed heavily in snow. “I’m sure there’s an indoor rink around here somewhere—hell, even an outdoor one.”
At this Jonny, straightened, shrugging. “Dunno. Back when my brother and I were kids my dad used to take us out here just to skate and play around. I never really grew out of it, I guess.”
Kaner nodded approvingly. “It’s a nice lake for hockey.” Big and open, and the ice was smooth and thick.
Jonny grinned up at him. “Yeah, it is.”
Pat wondered at that smile for a moment, why it felt so strange in his stomach. It wasn’t even all that much of a good one—it looked more real than the one Jonny had shot at him earlier, but still just as goofy—but it did something to Pat either way.
“You play?” Pat asked casually, passing quickly to Jonny. Instead of going for the shot he tossed it back, and Pat took a step before netting it top right.
Jonny blinked at him, looking a mix of surprised and relieved. “Yeah.” He answered at length. “I do. Do you?”
It was Pat’s turn to shrug. “Sometimes. I haven’t seriously in… a really long time.”
Jonny looked approvingly at him. “You play incredibly well.” He pointed out, looking a little awed. It made Pat kind of uncomfortable.
“You haven’t even seen me play.” The blonde protested. “We’re just messing around.”
“I can see it just from the way you handle the puck. And the way you shoot—you’ve got a feel for the game that’s really rare. Hell, you’re better than half the guys on—“ At this, he cut himself off. “That I play with.” He ended abruptly.
“What, on your school team?” Pat snorted.
Jonny looked like he wanted to say something else, a flash in his eyes that had Pat intrigued. He didn’t say anything else though, and they descended into a companionable silence, the rhythmic sounds of pucks and sticks all that filled the air.
“You should play.” Jonny said, seriously, once all the pucks at their feet were either in the goal or flung way out on the ice. “With me, sometime. A couple guys and I practice around here—you’d fit right in.”
Pat gave him a dubious look.
“I’m being serious!” Jonny replied to his look, certainly looking the part. He had this crazy kind of stare, like he could see right through you.
It was really nice of him to offer, and Pat was truly flattered he was that impressed with his skills, but even in this snow-basked world, where it seemed like everything else in his life had fallen away to reveal this little island of a moment, just him, Jonny, and the ice, he remembered his other life.
His actual life.
He shook his head. “Thanks, but no thanks.” He walked past the goal to where the pucks had scattered about.
Jonny followed him. “Why not?” He was clearly a man unused to the idea of not getting his way. Or at least, a very determined man. “If it’s a money thing that’s really not a problem—
“It’s not.” He cut him off, bending down to grab a stray puck.
Jonny watched him with those crazy eyes. “You live around here?”
“For now, yeah.”
“So it’s not like it’s far for you.”
“Jonny.” Kaner digressed, figuring he might be taken a little more seriously if he referred to him by name. He hadn’t expected the shuttered look that crossed the man’s face at the name.
“You don’t have to come to all the practices if it’s a scheduling issue, we only have games on the weekends and even then they’re pretty light,” He rambled on, following Kaner as he retrieved all the pucks. “I can give you a ride if that’s a problem too—
Kaner looked up at him, somewhat amused. “People don’t say no to you very often, do they?” He smiled, interrupting the brunette mid rant.
Jonny paused, he looked somewhat sheepish for a moment before that steely-eyed look came back. “Have I changed your mind?”
“What’s the problem?” He pressed on.
“There is no problem.” Kaner retorted, careful not to drop any pucks as he made his way back to Jonny’s gear bag.
“Then why?” He asked, sounding genuinely confused.
Pat dropped the pucks in the puck-bag, whirling around quickly to be met face to face with Jonny. Their faces were so close that Pat could make out the flecks of gold in Jonny’s eyes—they’d looked so dark from far away, but from here he could see all the colors that were in them. He was a ways taller than Pat, but he looked down to stare him in the eye.
Pat didn’t back down.
“I… can’t.” He hissed, feeling a strange compulsion to both turn around and bolt and to grab Jonny by the hand and pull him closer.
A frustrated look passed his face and this close Pat could make out the rest of it—the genuine confusion, the helplessness, like he truly wanted Pat to play and couldn’t fathom an existence in which Pat didn’t want to. It was almost a little… touching.
He pulled away.
“I’m sorry, I can’t.” He shoved his stick into Jonny’s limp hands, already feeling the loss the moment his fingers stopped touching the wood. “I should really get going now.”
Jonny looked torn. “Wait… what?”
He took a few more steps back, giving him enough distance away from Jonny, like maybe he could breathe better, think better, with a few meters parting them. It didn’t seem to be working.
“I’m sorry.” He repeated again, and then, with a slight, wan smile, “It was nice meeting you, Jonny.”
He turned around at that, making his way to the tree line, very keenly aware of Jonny’s searching, overwrought gaze.
It seemed like an eternity until he crossed the ice, feet crunching loudly against the snow in the ominous silence. He was almost waiting for Jonny to call him back, to say something else—to convince this stranger he’d never met before to come back. It seemed silly, when he thought of it that way. He had no idea who Jonny was, and Jonny had no idea who he was. There shouldn’t be any reason to want him to come back.
Jonny’s voice jilted him out of his thoughts.
“You could at least tell me your name!” He yelled, words echoing against the snowy mountains.
Kaner paused at the tree line, turning around. Jonny stood at the center of the lake, drifts of snow picking up around him and dusting across his feet, grand and luminous mountains rose above his head.
“Pat.” He said, just loud enough to make out across the distance but not quite a yell. “It’s Pat.”
He didn’t turn around after that, marching steadily into the tree line, ducking behind a large pine before apparating away. He very consciously didn’t think about Jonny for the rest of the day, about the cold ice beneath his feet and the way Jonny looked in the snow, about missed opportunities and the boy he left on the ice.
Instead he tucked the memory away, to be looked at again at another part of his life where he wasn’t chasing dragons down the icy tundra.
To say Pat was blindsided would be an understatement.
When he agreed to tag along with Charlie Weasley, he had expected pretty much what he got. A rugged vacation from life, sharing a tent-house with half a dozen other guys, scouring the icy planes of Canada for elusive dragons. It was an exciting life, at least with the novelty of it, and Kaner could almost lose himself in it. Being a Dragon Tamer wouldn’t be the worst job in the world—dragons were fucking awesome, and even though Pat didn’t actually care about them the way the other tamers obsessively did, he wouldn’t mind being stationed at a Reserve, looking after them.
This, though, he hadn’t expected.
On a rare off day, he and the other Tamer’s squared off for some light Quidditch, flying around in the almost burning cold, fooling around, mostly just chasing each other. Or at least, the other guys were doing that, Kaner was just relishing the feel of his broom beneath him again. He took off into the air, vaulting and feinting and cutting dangerous angles, doing flipping tricks and feeling the whipping wind in his hair. It was so cold he could feel it in his bones, even beneath all the dragon hide and fur.
He probably would have stayed like that all afternoon if Charlie hadn’t called him down.
“Kaner!” He yelled from the ground.
Pat paused, looking around the empty sky—all the other tamers were on the ground now, looking up at him bemusedly.
He dropped back to a reasonable height, moving forward curiously. There was a man he’d never seen before standing next to Charlie, dirty dishwater blonde hair with freckles dotting his wide face.
“This is Wilks.” Charlie introduced, smiling. “Wilks Burrows.”
Pat looked between the two of them confusingly, but held out his hand regardless. “Pat Kane. Nice to meet you.
Wilks looked approvingly to the sky. “Got some nice moves there.” He noted.
Patrick eyed him warily. “Thanks.”
“Did you play in school?” Wilks asked, lowering his eyes to surmise Pat coolly.
He opened his mouth, but Charlie cut him off. “ Did he ?” The redhead guffawed. He heartily clapped Pat on the back. “This guy right here won the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup—been on the team since his second year! One of the best chasers Hogwarts has ever seen!”
Wilks’ brows raised at that.
Now that was a truly heinous exaggeration, but Wilks seemed to believe it, looking more and more impressed. “That explains where you learned to fly like that. I didn’t mean to be rude—I just saw a couple guys flying from the highway and thought I’d stop and take a look—but I’m glad I did.” He gave another appraising look to Pat. “What do you think of playing Quidditch?”
“It’s a lot of fun.”
“Professionally.” He added.
Pat swallowed, shocked. He hesitated, “I…”
“Don’t give me an answer now.” Wilks cut him off with a smile. “Think on it. Take as long as you need. I’m the Captain here of the Stonewall Stormers. We’re from Stonewall, Manitoba—about a forty minute drive from here.”
He looked around the group thoughtfully. “We have a game this Saturday against the Calgary Crushers, you’re all welcome to watch.”
Charlie leapt eagerly at the idea of a Quidditch match. He and Wilks exchanged floo addresses and a handful of jokes, Pat standing numbly next to them. He caught a bit of the conversation—the Stonewall Stormers played in the American league, against teams from all over the Americas. He already knew about the Quidditch World Cup, and was surprised to hear that Wilks had participated for the American National team. Hell, he was just surprised that Wilks was American at all. He certainly didn’t sound it.
He left soon after that, bidding the guys a fond farewell, shaking Pat’s hadn’t once again.
Predictably, the tamers were on him the second he left.
“What are you gonna say, Kaner?”
“Go for it man, professional Quidditch is ace—
“Let’s leave Kaner alone for now, eh?” Charlie cut them all off with an easy smile. Kaner had never felt so relieved for the Weasley.
Jonny tried not to dwell on it too. Occasionally he thought on it, on this boy who had showed up like a ghost on a snowy day during Christmas break, wondered if he’d made the whole thing up. Maybe he had hallucinated it—it had been terrifyingly cold that day, snow drifting lazily onto the ice, making everything look like a dream.
But he hadn’t, because there was a stick in his gear back that wasn’t his, that lingered still, propped up in his living room like a constant reminder of a boy with unruly blonde curls, with a smile that made the rest of the world glow. He could almost mistake it for his own—the lie and toe were the same, but had a mid curve instead of his usual toe curve—and almost had, until he had picked it up and really studied it.
It wasn’t his stick.
So it was Pat’s.
From it he could tell that Pat emphasized on controlled puck handling, which he could see from the way he played. And god, how he played… Pat was just messing around, shooting lazy slapshots into the net and looking like he was just enjoying the feel of a stick in his hands. But Jonny had been taking it seriously, as serious as he did with everything about hockey. And even then, Pat had beaten him—the boy hadn’t even known that Jonny had made it into a competition, had been trying to beat him, and Pat had won. Effortlessly.
There was no point thinking too much on it, though. He hadn’t chased him. He could’ve. Could’ve ran off the ice and into the trees and pulled Pat back, insisted on him playing. But he didn’t.
He lingered around Winnipeg for the rest of the break, half-heartedly wondering if he’d run into Pat around the city. And, if he volunteered to go grocery shopping more often than usual, no one commented on it.
When he left, he deliberated briefly on whether to keep Pat’s stick with him or leave it at home. It wasn’t like he was ever going to use it; it was similar enough to his own that he could’ve if he wanted to, but something compelled him not to leave it behind. In the end, he lugged it onto the plane with the rest of his gear, and headed back to Chicago.
A L O H O M O R A
Patrick scrubs a hand over his face, eying the sky warily. Winnipeg weather, in general, has two modes: brutal cold or total shitshow. As it is, game day appears to have a combination of both.
Not for the first time since he accepted Wilkes offer to try out for the Stormers he debates whether he made the right decision.
He’d never thought of professional Quidditch in anything but a passing neutrality—and even now, as a professional Quidditch player, he couldn’t summon up much else aside from a vague reluctance.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like Quidditch: wrong. He loved Quidditch. He’s not sure why the idea of being a professional Quidditch play had never compelled him the way it did his friends. The fame, perhaps. He didn’t like the idea of Wizards around the world constantly picking apart his game. Granted, he’d never be as famous as the unfortunate Harry Potter, but still; the idea of any fame at all was alarming.
He could hear the ref over the cold numbness rising in his head, and he readied himself in the circle.
Wilks gave him a light slap to the back. “Doing okay?”
“Yeah.” Kaner breathed out harshly through his nose. This certainly wasn’t his first Quidditch game—hell, not even his first professional Quidditch game—so he wasn’t sure why he felt so uneasy.
“You’re gonna do fine.” Wilks smiled winningly at him.
Kaner shook his head. He didn’t know what he’d done to preserve such unwavering faith, but it was somewhat touching.
Then the whistle blew, and there was no thinking after that.
Singleton—The Winnipeg seeker, and reigning all-American—plunged skyward, leaving the Calgary Cheetah’s seeker to rocket on after her, and the game was on.
Kaner supposed he played well enough. He was still getting used to Green and Fedele, who played completely opposite games than he did. Green was aggressive and often times flew without any sort of strategy at all. Fedele, the more reserved of the two, at least appeared to have some working chemistry with Pat.
About halfway through the game the Winnipeg sky erupted in torrents of hail. Predictably, the Quidditch game went on. Quite frankly Kaner was still boggling over the crowd; that and the fact they were completely okay to stand there with hail the size of golf balls reigning down. He hadn’t expected to see so many witches and wizards out in a place like Calgary—but then, he’d forgotten that it wasn’t too difficult to apparate or portkey from all over Canada to watch. That, and both the Stonewall Stormers and the Calgary Cheetahs had Quidditch World Cup players on their teams.
An hour or two later and Kaner had well and truly frozen his fingers off, but Singleton had managed to catch the snitch.
She came barreling out of the clouds in a fiery descent of red hair, righting herself before she hit the stands, holding the snitch up high for the fans to go crazy over.
“Good game, good game I say!” Wilks cheered as they entered the locker room, looking as if he’d never heard of a warming charm in his life; half his face blue. “Kane—excellent job!”
“Thanks.” Pat smiled bashfully, moving to peel off his now freezing—and wet —outfit.
“Good job, rookie.” Singleton commended, tapping his head as she passed.
He shook his head, but grinned wider.
The team themselves were certainly an alright group. The lads were always a rioting time, and they made Kaner feel as if he actually had some semblance of a social life out here in the wilds of Canada. Adding in Charlie and the dragon tamers—he practically had a whole network!
There weren’t any wizarding establishments in this part of Canada—or at least, none that served alcohol—so the team packed it up to a small muggle pub right outside Winnipeg, still in high spirits from the win.
Kaner thought, for the first time in months, that he was really content.
It wasn’t long before four months had passed, and Kaner found himself staring down the beginning of spring. Well, that was debatable. It didn’t appear that Winnipeg had a spring; not until late April, at least. Still, it effectively blindsided Kaner to find that he’d spent such a vast amount of time in Winnipeg—and had even begun to enjoy it.
It seemed like just yesterday he was curled on the floor of his family’s house having an existential crisis on what to do with the rest of his life; and now here he was, owning (well, renting) property and everything, with a steady income and a solid group of friends, making it all on his own.
The thought was warming, and he felt satisfied and content all through practice, even with the wind howling in his ears and a wintry mix pouring down on them.
Or that was, until Wilks pulled him aside after practice.
“Kaner, mind if we chat for a bit?” He smiled in greeting, pulling him over to one of the benches.
“Uh, yeah. Sure.” Pat said, following him over.
Wilks smile looked like it was physically paining him to maintain it. “How are you liking it here?” He began, deceptively calm.
Pat pondered thoughtfully. “It’s alright.” He hedged. “I think I’m really starting to sort of… settle, you know?”
“Yeah.” If possible, he looked even more pained.
At this point, even an oblivious human like Kaner could see something was blatantly wrong. “Wilks…” He started, slowly. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
He rubbed the back of his head, looking away. “Yeah, uh, sort of. Y’see—remember that match we had with the Wyoming Wolverines?”
“Well, it was sort of a big deal.” Wilks replied. “There were quite a few scouts for it.”
Kaner clenched his fists, not liking where this was going at all. Trepidation rose in his throat. “Oh.” Was all that came out. His mind raced back to that day; had he done anything particularly foolish?
“Yeah, and—well, there was a guy out there from the Chanticleers, real great team, they make Internationals every year… Anyway, he was wondering how you’d feel about a trade.”
For a moment, all Kaner could feel was relief. He thought Wilks was about to boot him off the team for doing something foolish during a big game.
Then the words really sunk in, and then Pat just didn’t know what to feel at all.
“That’s…” He hesitated. “I mean, that’s… great?”
“It would be, for you.” Wilks agreed. “Coach and the GMs were talking about it, and I mean, we’d all hate to see you go… but as a player, this would be an amazing opportunity.”
To be quite candid, Kane didn’t even know who the Chanticleers were. Still, if a guy like Wilks—who lived and breathed Quidditch—was making a big deal out of it, the idea must have some merit.
He nodded slowly. “Yeah, yeah.” He heard himself say, though it sounded as if it was coming from another person. “Would you mind if I thought on this?”
Wilks shook his head, empathetic. “No, of course not! Take all the time you need. Trades are a bit wonky here in comparison to Muggle sports—they happen whenever. There’s no deadline or anything; and no one’s gonna kick you off. It’s totally up to you.”
Kaner breathed a sigh of relief. At least there was that, then.
“Right.” He said, mostly to himself as he stood. “Well, nice chat, yeah? And thanks for the heads up.”
Kaner spent most of the following week moping listlessly about his flat in Winnipeg, much to the ire of his neighbors/teammates. They had commandeered an entire floor in an apartment building and warded it off from the muggles; in consequence the entire thing happily reminded him of his dorm at Hogwarts, full of moving pictures, moving stairs, moving books… actually, that might not be a good thing. With all the magical artifacts lying around it was often difficult to find things. Especially when those things liked to move around on their own.
That was anything thing he’d have to give up, Kaner thought morosely. There was no way he’d be able to get a whole floor to himself in a place like Chicago.
It sounded so far away.
Actually, it was about a two-hour flight—or alternatively a quick hop in the floo. Charlie had made that point when he’d trudged his way to the lair of the Dragon tamers, bemoaning how far he’d be from this little part of magic he’d found in Canada. The Weasley had a point; with magic, you were never too far away. Hell, just last week Wood had floo’d in for a match against the North Dakota Doxies. Kaner hadn’t thought much of it at the time, considering all the brunette did was rail on his game the entire duration of their night out, but he did see the merits in the floo network.
Maybe it was him. Maybe he was just… scared.
But he’d made a lot of moves in his life, and he didn’t quite know why this one was so terrifying.
He’d moved all the way to London as a child, to attend a magical school he’d never heard of. He’d moved to London again to live with Wood; had to find a job and a way to pay for the flat, the food, and half the TV. Hell, he’d even moved to Winnipeg—the grand middle of nowhere —with Charlie to hunt dragons!
Chicago should be nothing in comparison.
But when he thought back on all his escapades, he realized he’d never really done any of them alone. Perhaps his first trip to Hogwarts, but he’d been too enamored with the idea of learning magic for that to truly dampen his spirits.
He flopped down onto his bed, eying the winter storm outside.
He liked his life here, he thought. His eyes drifted around his room; the Weird Sisters posters (of which there were many); his small collection of Gryffindor related scarves and hats; the vast amount of Quidditch gear strewn about the place—not to mention the amount of expensive brooms he happened to own.
He’d never felt so at home. Not since Hogwarts.
It felt… nice.
Was he ready to give that up all over again?
Turns out, he would.
Shit, and he’d thought Winnipeg was cold.
But Winterpeg had nothing on Chicago.
It was the wind, Kaner surmised, as he squinted into the distance, looking for their seeker. If it wasn’t so fucking windy, the place would actually be tolerable.
He saw Stark tumble out of the clouds, the Gaithersburg Griffin’s seeker hot on his tail.
The thought jolted him out of his thoughts, and he immediately dove back into the fray. He twisted to catch a pass from Muntz, ducked under the swing of the opposing Beater, and made for the goal posts. He faked the Keeper out to the right, and had a clean shot for the rings that he didn’t pass up.
Muntz flew past him with an ecstatic, “Great fucking job, Kane!”
He smiled slightly at that, before driving in to fly beside Maximus.
He liked the Chanticleers, he supposed. They were definitely a chip above the Stormers, game-wise anyway. As far as players go, they definitely weren’t the worst Quidditch jocks he’d met. In fact, most of them were downright hysterical. Max turned to grin roguishly in his direction, holding out his hand for their elaborate handshake.
Kaner grinned back.
The Gaithersburg Griffin’s in comparison to the Chicago Chanticleers may as well have been a comparison of France to Bulgaria—the teams were simply in two separate leagues.
Wilks hadn’t been joking; the Chanticleers were by far one of the best teams in America.
Kaner shook his head. And he’d thought there were famous people on the Stormers; aside from him there wasn’t a single player who hadn’t made a World cup team on the Chanticleers. If they hadn’t been so ecstatic and impressed with him, he would have felt inadequate.
He touched down when Stark caught the snitch, grin still firmly in place.
His fellow Chasers—Muntz and Maximus—were quick to follow, the latter pulling him in to fuck with his hair. Kaner yelped, fighting out of the grip before his hair was unsalvageable.
“Most points in the game!” Max shouted as he made another attempt to grab at him. “C’mere you stupid fuck!”
“Get away from me!” Patrick laughed, leaping into the air to save himself.
He almost ran into Ralph, who gently pushed him out of his way. “Careful there, Kane.” He said, waving the struggling Bludger in his hands. “Wouldn’t want to damage that pretty face of yours.”
“What pretty face?” Muntz snorted.
Stark pulled in behind him, pinching his cheeks. “ This one!” He cackled, as Kaner fended him off.
“I hate all of you!” Kaner protested in jest, as he dropped back down, deciding his best bet of escape would be by foot.
“Stop giving the new guy a hard time.” Their Keeper and Captain, Troy Duvall chastised as he landed. The Fred to Ralph’s George, Greg Ruczinski, landed just behind him. Frankly, it was weird how much the two beaters reminded him of the Weasley twins,
“This is how we treat everyone!” Stark protested.
Troy’s look quickly shut him up, though.
“Alright, we might be fucking with him a little bit.” Stark allowed, cowed. “But, look at that face!”
“’There’s nothing wrong with my face!” Kaner shouted back, scowling.
“ Everything ’s wrong with your face.” Stark returned, laughing.
He knew the lads were just having a laugh, though. If anything, it made him feel like a part of the team. Aside from Duvall, everyone got heckled over something. It provided a sense of warped camaraderie.
“Want to meet up later downtown?” Ralph propositioned to the team. “Sparky’s having five for two on Ogden’s Firewhiskey.”
“We’re there!” Max raised a hand quickly. Both Greg and Muntz rolled their eyes, but were certainly not protesting the idea.
“You in, Kaner?” Stark jabbed him lightly on the shoulder.
Patrick laughed. “When am I not?”
Unlike Winnipeg, Chicago was large enough to have a fairly sizeable magical community. Kaner liked to liken it to Chinatown; a small strip of the city that was packed with everything from their culture. It also helped that most cities that had a Chinatown also had a Magical sector. He had no idea why that was, though.
That above all else really made him appreciate the move. It was nice living with other wizards and witches. Every night he fell asleep to the smells of the apothecary below, which while relatively soothing also made him constantly dream of Snape. And every morning he’d stop by the Quidditch store to talk to the owner about new broom lines. Not to mention it truly was smack in the middle of Chicago, so getting into the Muggle city was never a problem.
Sparky’s had apparently been here for much longer than the actual city of Chicago. Kaner wasn’t sure how much he believed of that; though it certainly looked the part. The walls were lined with strange creature parts and even stranger paintings, and there was not a single matching cutlery set to be found in the entire bar.
A lot like the Leaky Cauldron, actually.
“So,” Stark directed Kaner’s attention back onto him, and away from a frightening rendition of George Washington on the wall, who sneered down at them imperiously. Who knew George Washington was a pureblood racist? Rather—who knew he was a Wizard at all ? “How are you liking Chicago?”
“It’s nice.” Kaner hedged, tugging his gaze away from the impetuous painting. He thought he was settling in fairly well; or at least, it appeared that way to him.
The bar around them was full of characters that Pat thought should be thrown into some history books. It was fairly safe to say that the majority of the wizarding world of America was still living in the Wild West. All the larger magical cities were in the more deserted mid-west states, making Chicago—one of the largest mid-west cities—a large amalgamation of wizarding America.
Which like, Kaner hadn’t even known wizarding America existed. Aside from Salem Institute, he’d kind of thought it wasn’t there. He was blatantly wrong though. Maybe the British still held a grudge or something, because they’d never said much about the American side of things in his classes (though, in Hogwarts’s defense they might’ve and he had just slept through it).
“Just nice?” Stark mused, taking a swig of his knotgrass mead. Kaner made a face at it—that shit was gross. Another benefit of living in a large muggle/wizarding city: they had real beer. He gave a reassuring pat to his Heineken.
He shrugged. “I mean, I like it as much as anywhere else.” That might be the real issue he was suffering from here. Sure, he liked everywhere. But nowhere really felt like home.
Not the way Hogwarts did.
“I know that feeling.” Stark agreed, smiling wanly. “When you get traded around a lot, it’s hard to really settle, y’know?”
“Where have you been traded around?” Kaner asked curiously. He’d sort of thought Stark was the Chanticleer’s star player. Then again, trades didn’t work the same here as they did in muggle sports.
Stark rubbed his chin. “Oh, everywhere really. I started in Roma, didn’t like the heat that much though. And the fans… Merlin’s balls they were brutal. I tried Norway for a bit—too cold. Your fingers would fall off before you could catch the Snitch! Not to mention it only got colder the higher you flew.” He shook his head. “After that I was traded over to Hong Kong. I really liked it there, actually; ‘course after I came back to play for the American team in Worlds I decided I’d really just like to go home.”
“Huh.” Kaner blinked. “So… there’s really not ‘trades’ in Quidditch, are there?”
“Trades?” Stark cocked his head. “Like, in football and stuff?”
“Yeah.” Kaner nodded, relieved. He’d forgotten Stark was a muggleborn too and was holding to the hope that he’d at least have heard of football.
“Sort of, but not really. For the most part, if you want to go and you have an offer you can go. If you want to stay, then stay. Bit like the rest of the wizarding world, right? Not a lot of rules.”
“I’ll say.” Patrick laughed. The wizarding world really didn’t have that many rules; but the ones they did were often totally backwards.
His eye caught on the screen above Stark’s head; a couple of Sparky’s patrons were avidly watching the Blackhawks matchup with the Bruins.
To be quite frank, Kaner had sort of lost hockey for a bit. After graduation it… it hurt to watch it, so he’d tuned it out. He knew that there was a team in Chicago, but he didn’t let himself know anything more than that. It would be all too easy to get caught up in that world again.
His breath caught when he saw the Blackhawk’s goal on replay. Absolutely beautiful—the center gliding past the d, faking for a top shelf and then sliding it in between Thomas’ legs. Hell.
And then he choked.
The replay ended, and he could hear the crowd roaring from the speakers. A close up moved in onto the Blackhawk who scored, just as he skated past the bench for a line of high-fives. He looked… really, really fucking familiar.
“Captain Jonathan Toews with the Hawks first powerplay goal of the game,” The announcer intoned, “Jonathan Toews is one of the youngest Captain’s in history and has proved himself as an amazing asset for the Hawks.”
“I’ll say.” The other announcer agreed. “The Winnipeg native has a lot to prove to this city, a lot of expectations on him—and he’s been doing a hell of a job living up to them.”
Kane narrowed his eyes at the official NHL photo as it flashed at the bottom, followed by his stats. Did Kaner know him? He thought back on some of the guys he knew back in Buffalo. But, it’d been years since he’d seen them; he wouldn’t be able to recognize them now.
He frowned thoughtfully. But then, where else would he know him? Certainly not from Hogwarts. And the guy definitely wasn’t a dragon tamer—
His eyes widened as he recalled the last time he’d touched a stick.
With some guy he’d never met before, on a blisteringly cold winter day in Winnipeg.
“No fucking way.” He said to himself. That guy was… the Captain of the fucking Blackhawks? Was that a joke? Kaner sat back, marveling. What was his life these days?
“Hey!” One of the patrons in the back yelled. “Bulgaria’s playing Ukraine—can you put that on?”
“Alright, alright.” The bartender scowled, switching the channel. “No need to shout, eh?”
Stark leaned back. “It’s nice, isn’t it?”
But Kaner wasn’t paying much attention, still dismayed at the loss of hockey; and reeling from trying to reconcile the Jonathan Toews on screen to the Jonny he’d met prior. “Huh?”
Stark gestured to the TV, where the only wizarding station was on, showing the start of a Quidditch match. “Watching Quidditch on TV.”
“Oh.” Kaner blinked. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s great.”
“Our games get televised.” Stark leaned over, grinning winsomely. “Did you know that? Only in America though. Still—a lot of witches are watching you, Kane! Might actually find yourself a lady!” He ribbed, still grinning.
Kaner scowled. “Shut up.” He said without heat.
His eyes lingered on the screen still, even though it had long since been changed to Quidditch, and he could see Bulgaria’s renowned Quidditch star Viktor Krum diving for the snitch.
Jonathan Toews, huh?
It was really, really hard not to know who Jonathan Toews was in the following months.
His concussion seemed to be the only thing anyone in Chicago was capable of talking about—which was funny, considering the city hadn’t seemed to care about hockey at all until then. Summer in Chicago was worse than summer in anywhere else he’d ever been. Considering how brutally cold it got in winter, in summer it was ungodly hot.
Fortunately, the Chanticleers spent most of the summer across the pond, where they played in Europe. Kaner was absolutely enamored with everywhere they went—and they went everywhere —even though none of his teammates appeared all that enthused about such exotic locations. He knew subconsciously that Quidditch was international, but he hadn’t realized how much so until coach told them to pack up a few months’ worth of clothes.
Every summer the best ten teams from America and Asia headed over to Europe to duke it out with the top European teams.
Everyone but the British and Irish league Kaner found out, much to his disappointment. He’d owled Wood all the same though, to see if he’d want to meet up while Kaner was actually in his time zone.
The Chanticleers had a history of making it this far every year, and this year it seemed they were going to go even farther, keeping an almost spotless record throughout the summer season and heading in to autumn at the top of the league.
Kaner never thought he’d actually find himself playing in a playoff run ever since he gave up his hockey dreams, but that summer he’d found himself in the midst of one; maybe not in a rink with a stick but certainly in a pitch with a broom.
They lost to the Kyoto Kneazles in the semifinals. In consolation though, the Kneazles got knocked out for the championship win by the Bangkok Billywigs.
All the same, the Chanticleers packed up to Chicago for a few weeks of well needed rest.
Kaner spent the majority of September and October lazing around his flat, getting into drinking games with Stark and Max, and occasionally hopping the pond to devolve into arguments with Wood on the shape of Puddlemere United this year.
He also, unfortunately, watched a lot of hockey.
By October, all he was really doing was watching hockey.
He even had hockey friends. Hockey muggle friends. He’d met them at a bar by the United center and they stuck to him like glue. It’d been a while since he actually acted around muggles, and he was clearly out of practice, but they seemed to overlook his awkwardness in favor of his insightful comments on the structure of the Flyer’s defense. As a bonus, he only saw them during game days, so it was almost like his daily dose of muggle.
Which was actually something he needed these days, weirdly enough.
He’d never thought he’d be saying that as a Muggleborn. His family was muggle, his childhood friends were muggles. Yet somehow, almost everyone he interacted with these days was magical. In the last year, he couldn’t recall a single muggle he sincerely spoke to, aside from his family.
Anyway, more to the point—hockey.
And by extension, Jonathan Toews.
And wow, how Kaner could have lived without ever knowing who that guy was.
Especially when he was about to break at least a dozen and a half wizarding rules for the fucking dude.
“Arrow root, yeah?” He leaned over the counter to point at the far wall when it became clear the apothecary’s assistant wasn’t about to find it.
The nervous witch nodded quickly, moving over towards where the roots were hanging upside down.
“And….” Kaner flipped through his prolific seventh year potion notes. By Merlin it was a miracle he’d held onto them—and one he’d been thanking ever since he’d found out that Jonathan Toews had a concussion that might just wipe out his most important season yet.
“Devil’s shoe string? Five, please, if you have them. Also, a half dozen doxy eggs.”
He dropped a few galleons absent-mindedly, and almost didn’t notice the excited look on her face until he’d moved to pick up all his ingredients.
“Sorry!” She looked down when he caught her staring. “It’s just… you’re Patrick Kane, right? The Chanticleers Chaser?” She addressed to the countertop.
He smiled slightly. “Uh, yeah. That’s me.”
She grabbed a quill from beneath the counter, brandishing a piece of parchment. “Could you sign this for me?”
The novelty of fans still hadn’t quite worn off. For the most part, he thought that wizarding fans were a lot more personable than most sports fans, much to his infinite relief. That might just be because there were so few of them—but he could sit next to them at a pub and talk Quidditch as if he wasn’t actually a professional player. Maybe it had more to do with the already tight-knit Wizarding community, but he never felt like he was someone famous, or someone to be pointed at. That said, had he joined a team like Puddlemere United, which was always in the public eye for good or for ill, that might be a bit different. Or, hell, if he was Harry Potter. Kaner frowned. Well, maybe that was more infamy.
He wondered how it was for Toews.
In a city like Chicago, he sure had a lot of expectations to reach; at the same time, people have sort of given up hockey in this city, so he could probably live in relative anonymity.
Kaner was counting on that, actually. It’d be hard to explain away why a random guy was showing up to his house.
First things first though, he had to find the guy’s house.
He tucked in five vials of his anti-head injury potions and took out his wand as he ducked out of the magical sector. He had to squeeze in out of a decrepit alleyway behind some department stores on Michigan Ave, and then he was back in the muggle world.
“Point me,” He whispered to his wand, and it began to spin in riotous circles.
He fingered the vials in his pocket. Five was standard for Quidditch concussions—and he’d had enough of those from Bludgers to know what standard was. One was for minor head pain, two for migraines… actually, he couldn’t quite remember any of the other doses; Snape would have had his head if he was still mangling his way through the professor’s Potions class. At any rate, he figured it’d be easiest to brew them than to wrangle them out of the Chanticleer’s mediwizard. They were notoriously expensive, and he wasn’t sure how he’d explain away giving them to a muggle he didn’t know.
His wand finally stopped, pointing northwest.
“Here we go.” He whispered to himself, and for the nth time that hour he asked himself why he was doing this.
He didn’t owe Toews anything.
Kaner didn’t even really know the guy—he had one brief moment of a lake in Winnipeg, a handful of goals and a few trick shots. That wasn’t much. It didn’t matter if the guy had been so adamant about Kaner playing hockey with him—if it felt like he genuinely cared. Or that he was so nice.
Or that he had such a stupidly good looking awkward smile.
Kaner cursed himself, recalling a terrible conversation he’d had involving Fred, George and Angelina about his ‘type’. Tall dark and handsome, they said.
They were pretty fucking right.
It wasn’t long before Kaner was bouncing his way up the stairs of a fairly fancy apartment building, opening the door cautiously. Ugh. There was a receptionist. Of course. He spared a glance for cameras. Only one at the door.
“Hi.” She chirped. “Can I call someone down for you?”
He smiled, waving his hand. “You didn’t see me.”
She blinked slowly at him. “I didn’t see you.”
“You’re going to go back to your computer, now.”
“I’m going to go back to my computer, now.”
Jedi mind tricks, Kaner thought gleefully. Learning them was more than enough reason to go to Magical school for seven years. Well, it was just a wandless confondous charm, but still.
He took the stairs, eying his wand warily as it spun around.
He finally found his way to a rather nondescript looking apartment a few floors up, eying the hallway around him for mingling people.
When it became clear there were no muggles, he whipped out his wand again, pointed to the lock and whispered, “Alohomora.”
It opened without complaint, and he quietly stepped inside.
For a terrifying moment he thought Toews might not actually be in his house, and then mentally berated himself. The ‘Point Me’ charm wouldn’t have led him here then, now would it?
He crept in as quietly as possible, hoping his search wouldn’t have him on a goose chase around the house. Luckily, he found the person he was looking for not too far away, lounging on the couch. The TV was turned down low, and it appeared the brightness had been put to its lowest setting.
Kaner cast a sleeping charm before Toews turned around and he had to go about obliviating him. He’d really prefer not to. He was terrible at the memory charm, and he really didn’t want to ruin the guy’s life like that.
He rounded the couch, and was struck by how familiar the boy in front of him was.
He looked… really different on TV. Seeing him up close and in person reminded him of that day in Winnipeg; he couldn’t reconcile the boy he saw on TV to the boy in front of him.
Kaner blinked out of his reverie, suddenly feeling like a total creep. He just broke into this guy’s house and was now staring at him, sleeping.
For a good cause! Kaner consoled himself, feeling irrationally angry. He was doing the guy a favor, for Merlin’s sake. He didn’t have to feel guilty or anything.
He popped the cap on the first vial. “Alright,” He crawled over Toews, who was starting to snore. “This can’t be too hard, right?”
Half an hour and one wasted vial later, he withdrew that statement.
Toews had the unimaginable talent of spitting out everything Kaner tried to get down his throat. And he didn’t want to injure an already injured guy, so he was being seriously careful with his head. At this point, he was honestly about to just Imperio the guy and be done with it.
“Fuck this.” Kaner hissed, plopping himself next to Toews’ sleeping form.
He whipped out his iPhone, and decided to just Google this shit.
About fifteen minutes later, every Yahoo answer appeared to come to the same conclusion; mouth to mouth.
Kaner stared apprehensively at Toews.
Alright, so breaking and entering and then essentially drugging a dude for his own wellbeing was one thing, but he sort of thought going as far as mouth to mouth was totally going down the creepy scale. Aren’t you supposed to get patient consent for this kind of shit? Should he be signing an NDA? Fuck it, Kaner shook his head. He came all this way, there was no way it’d be all for nothing.
Not to mention the sleep spell was going to wear off soon.
“Alright, Kane.” He said to himself, bracingly. “You’ve done a lot of worse shit in your life.”
“This doesn’t even make top ten.”
He eyed Toews appraisingly. “And, let’s be honest, you could do a lot worse.”
He took out another vial and popped the cap. He made a face as he tasted it—possibly worse than skelegrow—and then dove for Toews’ mouth.
The whole process (minus talking himself into it) took about ten seconds.
“Shit, I should’ve just done that in the first place!” Kaner shook his head, moving to stand.
All his talking coupled with the medicine was starting to wake Toews up, the hockey player groaning slightly, pawing at his eyes. Kaner leapt back, looking around the room hysterically for a place to hide.
Then he rolled his eyes at himself, took one last look at Toews, and apparated away.
Tazer woke up a few seconds later to an outrageously loud pop, startling upright.
He looked around wildly for the source of the noise—did he leave something on in the kitchen?
The moment he sat up he sat back down.
He felt funny.
His tongue felt funny.
He rubbed his tongue over the roof of his mouth, where it sort of felt like something crawled up there and died. He grimaced, before he slapped around for the glass of water he’d left on the coffee table.
It took a few moments, but after he’d regained some of himself he looked around and found the world… clearer? He looked down incredulously at his hands, as if they might hold the explanation. His head still felt—well, bad. But significantly less bad.
He looked around, studying the way the light filtered over the room, like a blanket of silk.
His eyes caught on a phone on his couch.
It… didn’t look like his.
He patted the side of his jeans. Nope, not his phone.
But then… whose was it?
E V A N E S C O
Kaner scowled down at his cauldron, waving his wand to alleviate the foul smell of the doxy eggs.
Why the hell did Toews have to spit out that vial? Now he had to go and make another one—which was a pain in his ass the first time around. His entire flat smelt like doxy eggs and devil’s shoe string; the two by themselves were foul, but combined they became so repulsive he thought the very walls themselves shuddered in despair. Actually, that might just be the smell making him hallucinate.
Merlin, he had to get out of here.
The blonde rubbed a wary hand over his face, moving into his living room and then onwards into the kitchen. A wayward pan almost smacked him in the face on its way to clean itself in the sink; Pat grumbled and shoved it aside, letting it float merrily on by.
With a wave of his hand one of the dried glasses on the countertop flew into his hand, and he groggily filled it with water.
“Huh,” Came an appraising voice. “Never quite got the hand of that—wandless magic and all. Nonverbal too?”
Kaner whirled around.
Stark was leaning against the breakfast counter, eating pie. “You must be pretty powerful.” He said, around his bite.
“Wh—“ Kaner looked around. “Where the hell did you come from?” And then, brandishing his glass like a wand, “And where the hell did you get that ?” He gestured to the pie.
Stark made a vague motion towards his fireplace. “Dunno. It was on your table.”
Kaner looked across the room to his dining table; true enough, there was a vast variety of boxes stacked atop each other.
He blinked. “Where the hell did those come from?”
“House elf?” Stark hazarded.
“I don’t have a house elf.” Kaner retorted.
“Well, sure. But the team does. Maybe it’s fanmail? They probably just dropped that off.”
Kaner made a distressed noise. “How do they keep finding me?” He shook his head. “If more owls keep showing up outside, my neighbors are really going to start to question me.”
“You don’t want it?” Stark looked down at his plate, then back at the blonde.
He shrugged dismissively. “Have at it.”
The dark-haired Seeker looked gleeful at the prospect.
“Seriously though,” Kaner began anew. “Why are you here?”
“Coming to check on you.” Stark shoveled in another slice. “You missed the team meeting—thought you might have died or something.”
“I… what?” Kaner gaped.
“Yeah.” Stark whipped out his phone, presumably to check the calendar. “Nine this morning. Didn’t you know?”
“No!” Kaner protested. “I thought it was always at lunch!” He set down his glass, rummaging in his back pockets. When it became clear his phone wasn’t there, he frowned and turned towards his bedroom. It wasn’t on his charger, either. He rounded back to check the living room; not there either.
“Accio phone.” He said, waiting for the telltale whoosh.
It didn’t happen.
Stark blinked. Pat blinked back.
“Maybe you lost it?” The brunette blinked.
Fortunately for Kaner, his phone was too far for an Accio. This was probably for the best, else the phone go flying out of Jonny’s hand for no apparent reason at all.
Tazer eyed it warily, for perhaps the umpteenth time since he’d found it.
It looked like… a regular phone.
He’d attempted multiple times to get into it, but without a passcode—or even a hint of what it could be—it was a lesson in futility. He thought maybe it was one of his teammates’ phones, that perhaps somehow made its way onto his person or was left from a visit, but none could claim ownership.
And anyway, if it was one of theirs, that wouldn’t explain who the boy in the picture was,
Definitely not someone he knew—or at least, he didn’t think he knew. The middle boy, the blonde, looked somewhat familiar, but Tazer had no idea where he would have seen the face. He was smushed between two larger boys, one tall, tan and lanky with spiky brown hair, the other was of significantly larger bulk than the other two with his hair gelled into a blonde Mohawk. He’d never seen any of them in his life.
But then where the hell did he get this phone?
The first suspects on the list were invariably his teammates. If this was some kind of elaborate joke by Sharpy, for once in his life Jon will actually have to applaud him. But Sharpy looked confused and irritable when Tazer had cornered him after practice, moodily remarking on the fact that he had a teething one year old at home, and he had no time for such poorly executed pranks. In fact, he looked almost offended that Jon even suggested he might be behind it. Duncs and Seabs were just just as unhelpful and irritable. Though that may have more to do with Tazer being at the rink than a teething baby.
“Go home.” Duncs commanded loftily, shoving him out of the locker room.
“I am!” Tazer protested. “I just—I thought it might be one of yours. Or, might be a prank!”
Duncs gave him a nonplussed look. “You sure you just weren’t trying to get on the ice again?”
“No!” Tazer swore, vehemently.
Duncs only eyed him warily, before continuing to shove him out the door. “Likely story. Listen Tazer, you’re not going to get any better standing around and pining for the ice. You need to go home. You need to go home and sleep.”
Tazer pouted, but conceded his point.
Still, he was just as confused as he had been earlier that morning.
Jonny sighed, holding the phone out in front of him; Duncs was right, he may as well head back. Problem was, his house was as sad and lonely as his equally sad and lonely life. Life without hockey was like a death procession—he had no idea what to do with himself. He’d never even thought he could watch too much Parks and Rec, but that was quickly becoming a plausible future.
He’d only just stepped in the door when he suddenly felt himself grow drowsy.
He groped his way over to his couch, diving into it face first.
When he’d wake the next morning, it’d be with a miraculously cured concussion and a very vivid memory of a familiar blonde boy that he convinced himself was a dream.
Kaner sighed, rubbing that back of his head as he watched Jonathan Toews succumb to his potent sleep spell. He’d had to finagle how to do it properly out of Fred and George, which was not a conversation he’d like to repeat. That said, the twins were the only ones he knew who could knock out Molly Weasley long enough to prank the whole family; a laudable achievement if he ever knew one. However, they seemed to be under the impression he was attempting to prank his whole Quidditch team: Kaner didn’t have the heart to deny this claim. That, and he had no idea how he’d explain the actual situation.
He pointed a finger at Toews, as if he could hear him. “Don’t you dare wake up this time.” He commanded. “Otherwise I’ll have to actually drug you.”
Toews had nothing in response to this.
Kaner whipped out his potions notes, as well as the vials he’d made earlier that morning.
“Let’s see…” He said to himself, “Five vials, one a day… administer the regimen over a course of no longer than two weeks... ”
He looked back at the sleeping hockey player. “Sounds about right.” He nodded, returning to his notes. “Repeat the process as needed, depending on the seriousness of the concussion, and the size and classification of the creature. Wait, creature?”
Kaner blinked, and then looked back down. “Oh, shit.”
How was he supposed to know how serious the guy’s concussion was?
First things first, Kaner held out his wand and nonverbally casted the Accio spell. His phone came flying out of Jonathan Toews’ pocket, as he suspected. After taking a moment to praise Merlin that he’d actually found it, he called Stark.
“ Hey, found your phone then ?” The Seeker greeted.
“Yes, finally.” Kaner sighed. “Listen, how’s your obliviate?”
“ Passable at best .” Came the flat answer. “ Why ?”
Kaner rubbed his temples. Maybe he should have paid attention in Lockhart’s class—he may not have learned anything of significance in the defense against the dark arts, but he could have picked up a think or two on the memory charm from the man.
He grumbled in response. “Nevermind. Forget I asked.”
But of course, telling that to Stark was like telling that to a brick wall. “ What? Why? What are you doing? Who are you obliviating ?”
Kaner hung up before he could really get going in the interrogation.
He sighed again, and glanced back at the boy he’d laid horizontal on the couch. Okay, well, the boy he’d levitated onto the couch. That wasn’t his fault though—who would have thought a guy his size would be so heavy?
He’d have no idea how serious of a concussion it was unless he knew the symptoms. In a last ditch attempt, Kaner googled everything he could about Jonathan Toews and his concussion. Aside from some stupid rumors and a handful of vague press releases, no one had any concrete evidence.
He looked back at Toews again.
Well, he’d just have to do this the hard way.
Kaner could have cried in relief when the other boy came too, looking far from lucid, eyes half-lidded and unfocused. As it was, he clapped his hands together and gazed into the ceiling in silent prayer. He’d forgotten the residual after-effects of a sleeping charm—mainly disorientation, confusion and forgetfulness. That, combined with how strong of a spell he’d shot him with, would hopefully have Kaner in the clear without any use of an obliviate.
“Hey,” He said, with more cheer than he’d meant to. “How are you feeling?”
It was a testimony to how out of it Toews was that he didn’t even seem bothered that there was a complete stranger in his house.
He grumbled in response, pawing sleepily at his eyes. Kaner batted him away, leaning over him. “How’s the head?”
“I dunno.” He replied, sluggish.
He threw up three fingers. “How many am I holding up?”
Toews gave him a flat look in response. “Three.”
Alright, so not that bad. Still, it was good to get that out of the way. “Alright. Do you have headaches?”
But he wasn’t listening to Kaner; no, he was eying everything as if he had no attention span at all. There was one question solved. He waved a hand in front of the boy’s face to draw his gaze back to him. Maybe he should have come with a bottle of verisaterum.
“Sometimes.” He admitted finally, closing his eyes.
“Sensitive to light and sound.”
“Ringing in your ears?”
Kaner moved down his mental checklist. “How’s your vision?”
“Sometimes it’s alright. Other times it’s blurry.”
It still sounded fairly serious. Another three would probably do the trick. If not, the only side effects of this particular potion was a brief stint of insomnia, so it wouldn’t be too bad if he had more than he should.
He held out the vial. “Think you can drink this?”
Toews’ eyes slid open slowly. “Are you my doctor?” He redirected.
“Yes.” Kaner lied, rolling his eyes, thrusting it into one of the boy’s hands. “Drink this.”
It was a testimony to his sleep spell that Toews took his words at face value, moving to down the vial. He made a truly heinous face at it, coughing abruptly.
“Yeah, not the prettiest drink in the world.” Kaner said, sympathetic.
After looking as if he would expire from the taste, Toews laid back down, throwing an arm over his face as if to shield himself from his fate.
“I don’t feel any better.” He slurred; it still sounded demanding and petulant. Kaner almost laughed,
‘Yeah, well, it’ll take a while. Give it time, Toews.”
“Jonny.” He said, after such a long period time Kaner thought he’d fallen asleep. “I’m Jonny.”
He smiled. “Alright. Hi, Jonny.”
Jonny slid his arm up until it rested against his forehead, blinking blearily up at Kaner.
He didn’t say anything for some time, just blinked sleepily up at Kaner. Kaner smiled fondly back down at him—Jonny looked impossibly young like that. He closed his eyes then, and his breath started to even out. Kaner was just planning his grand escape when a soft, almost inaudible murmur came from the boy below him.
Kaner gaped: Jonny rolled over, and then proceeded to snore.
He sat there for some time, practically hyperventilating, until it became clear that Jonny had well and truly fallen asleep. But not before taking a few years off of Kaner’s life.
Patrick didn’t have enough time to truly start freaking the fuck out, for his newly found phone erupted into a 2Chainz serenade and he fumbled quickly to turn it off before he awoke the sleeping hockey player. He silenced the alarm and vanished all evidence of his stay here with a flick of his wand. He took one last terrified glance at the boy on the couch, and then got the fuck out of dodge.
Jonny spent most of the next few days convincing everyone he really was, miraculously, magically cured.
Kaner spent most of the next few days convincing himself that he did not have to take Jonathan Toews’ life into his own hands and go about obliviating him. He made sure Toews wasn’t awake for the last three vials, but the paranoia lingered.
He’d heard too many horror stories about the memory charm gone wrong—even lived through it in his sixth year after the terrifying (but hilarious) shitshow that was Professor Lockhart. One particular anecdote stuck out to him, told to him by a theatrical Wood, about how a professional Quidditch player got obliviated and forgot how to play Quidditch. The thought of forgetting how to play a sport, even down to the muscle memory, was too horrifying to think of.
And, considering that Kaner had never properly cast the memory charm in his life, he felt that it would be safer for everyone involved if he didn’t attempt it.
This, of course, did not stop him from worrying himself into hysteria.
Unfortunately, Kaner didn’t know that he had nothing to fear; Tazer had spent a good portion of the following days attempting to explain how he suddenly lost all his symptoms in the span of a few days, but also insisting to himself that he’d dreamed the whole encounter.
(He’d chalked up that moment on the lake as well, even though there was a stick to prove the event had actually occurred. Both encounters—he staunchly made himself believe—were made up hallucinations. One from the brutal Winnipeg cold, and the other from his concussion. The second seemed more plausible, even though everything in him was telling him it had really happened. There was no evidence to prove this, of course, and Tazer had always been a rather pragmatic guy.)
All his worrying and fear didn’t stop Kaner from watching the Blackhawks game a week later, Captain Toews somehow making a miraculous recovery from his sever concussion that had the NHL scratching him out for the rest of the season.
Chicago had, predictably, gone back to basketball as soon as it became clear there was no more drama from camp hockey. Kaner felt marginally relieved at that: at the very least, he didn’t have to hear people constantly talking about Jonny. But all this meant that the bars by the United Center were empty enough to appeal to Kaner on a Thursday night.
He’d just gotten back from a game in Cuba against the Havana Hippogriffs. The wonderful weather had lightened everyone’s spirits but Kaner’s—he’d also played horrendously for the majority of the game. His concentration had been absolutely shot.
Sitting at a bar for the rest of the night did nothing to relieve his nerves; every time it appeared Jonny might get hit or missed a pass made his stomach flip. He’d barely finished half a beer and couldn’t bring himself for anymore, not when every defensive dive in front of the net the Captain felt like a physical illness.
“Captain’s doing pretty well, yeah?” A Canadian patron to his left tipped his beer in the direction of the widescreen.
“He is.” Kaner agreed, from around a mouth that seemed full of lemons.
He whistled low. “Great recovery time on that. This season could have been shot without him.”
“Yeah.” Kaner agreed again, hollow. “No kidding.”
He should be feeling satisfied and smug; he’d pulled it off, and no one was any wiser. Not even Jonathan Toews himself. He’d been asked the question in the post game scrum, and all the Captain could do was shrug, commend his doctors, and preach the benefits of rest and recovery time.
He didn’t feel very satisfied though.
And he knew enough of himself to refuse to acknowledge that.
Months pass in relative disorder.
Kaner attended Christmas, much to the delight of his family and extended family. Everyone wanted him to do magic tricks—meet the only wizard in the family. It was a bit humbling, actually, every time he came home to see everyone. Humbling, and strangely distancing.
He’d hopped over the pond to celebrate the wizarding version—winter solstice—with the Weasley’s a few days prior, and couldn’t help but compare the two.
On the one hand, his family was his family. He and his sisters had an outrageous time watching Disney movies and crying like the pathetic human beings they were at every insignificant moment; they must have watched Frozen at least a half dozen times over the course of the week because Jackie refused to watch anything else. He loved helping his mom out in the kitchen, even though she adamantly refused to have him anywhere near the stove, oven, or even microwave—ever since a time when he was ten and he almost blew up the house. He swore up and down it was accidental magic, but no one believed him.
Still, he could clean up with the best of them, and his mother had put him straight to work in the only place he was allowed to be in the kitchen; the sink.
And he always enjoyed time with his dad and grandfather, especially the quiet moments where they’d sit outside and watch the sun color the speckling snow gold.
They all made a conscious effort to ask him about his life, though Kaner still found himself feeling foreign when he had to explain away certain parts of his life, simply because he couldn’t find an accurate way to describe them to a Muggle.
They just… came from two different worlds now, and it was becoming more and more apparent with each passing day.
In blatant contrast to this was the Weasley’s.
Winter solstice was celebrated much like Christmas—presents, food and family all gathered together.
He heard all about Harry Potter’s terrifying fourth year, that apparently was infinitely more dangerous than the others (how the hell did that happen?) He was also incredibly surprised to know that Quidditch star Viktor Krum was staying in Hogwarts for the duration of the year. On the subject of Quidditch, each and every Weasley had, at some point, cornered him to talk avidly on the subject. Kaner didn’t mind; quite the contrary. He could argue with the best of them on plays and flying regulations.
And, best of all, no one looked twice when Kaner offhandedly mentioned that he would just room with Charlie; no they didn’t need do up a bed in the living room, no, they were totally okay with the small space, Charlie could just sleep on the floor, it’d be fine. The twins quite blatantly looked in the other direction, snickering quietly to themselves as Kaner attempted to stumble through this explanation for a dubious Molly Weasley.
Most of the exchanged gifts had more to do with creative jokes than any sense of significant value. In no particular order, Kaner received: One red jumper, courtesy of Molly Weasley; an entire box full of canary cream from the twins; a miniature dragon that said mean-spirited things to you from Charlie; and perhaps best of all—one of Crookshank’s kittens.
Kaner held up the little thing, which yowled and twisted out of his hand to scamper under the couch.
Hermione shrugged sheepishly. “We didn’t know what to get you… but we thought you might enjoy the company.”
“Oh you three, that’s so thoughtful!” Molly bussed cheerfully. “Morgana knows that Patrick is much too far over there in the middle of nowhere!”
“It’s Chicago.” Patrick cut in meekly, but it appeared no one heard him.
“Yes!” Hermione agreed readily, as did Ron and Harry. “She’s very friendly, I swear, she’s just scared from all the people here.”
Kaner ducked down to examine the kitten for himself. Scared was a rather mild term for it. Seething in rage may have been a more accurate description; also, Kaner was fairly sure that it was at least half Kneazle.
“Thanks guys.” He smiled towards the trio, genuinely grateful. He was actually looking forward to having another lifeform in his lonely apartment. “I love it. Uh, her, I mean. I love her.” He peered down again. “Does she have a name?”
The moment Hermione shook her head, almost everyone erupted into noise and movement with ideas. Percy told him, straight-faced, that he should name the cat after him. Fred and George had quite scandalously told him to name it Charlie. Charlie himself turned red at this, stammering something about naming it after a Hungarian Horntail.
This devolved the conversation into a step-by-step of the TriWizard first task, told by a horrified Harry Potter. Though Charlie was absolutely ecstatic over the dragons, Harry appeared to have been scarred for life by his brief encounter.
Kaner didn’t blame him.
He’d never feel as comfortable in the Weasley’s home as he did his own, among his own family, but it did have its own appeal.
Everyone understood Kaner’s pain when he complained about the Wizarding Wireless, the Chudley Cannons, or a strange and rampant infestation of garden gnomes. He could read the post and argue about how worthless Fudge was as a Minister; play exploding snaps with the twins, throw canary creams at Ron and Percy, and enjoy multiple rounds of butter beer, The house sang with the tinge of magic; from the pots and pans cleaning themselves in the sink to the trio outside throwing a Quaffle, it was almost a tangible smell in the air.
And also, Charlie Weasley and a room to themselves. That always ended well.
He bid them a fond and nostalgic farewell, even as they pulled out many promises from him to visit.
Snape (of which everyone agreed unanimously was the best possible name for a pet, ever ) the kitten came home with Kaner and turned into Snape the giant kneazle in what could have been a matter of hours, The Chicago Chanticleers were on a hot streak with nine wins under ninety minutes in a row. They’d just managed to beat out the Lake Tahoe Trolls for the lead in North America. Not to mention Jonathan Toews, who was lighting this year on fire.
As much as Kaner tried to stay away from it, sort of like gravity, hockey always pulled him back into its galactic orbit.
Chicago, for the first time in years, had a good chance at making the playoffs. The city was rightfully distrustful of this, but by the time February blended into March, people genuinely began to hold out hope for hockey in this city—Kaner included.
It was like an itch under his skin. A breathless anticipation he hadn’t had since…. Well, since his own playoff run, probably.
He’d kept close tabs on Jonny, that was true. Ostensibly for monitoring purposes, just to make sure he didn’t fuck up that potion, but really because Pat just liked watching him play.
He caught a few games when he could—discovering the joy of DVR in the process—and found himself longing for the ice again.
It felt like a lifetime ago since he’d last put on a pair of skates.
There was that itch again, clamoring beneath his skin.
For a few days he tried to fly it out, taking to the skies when he thought his nerves were getting the better of him. It worked like a charm; it was hard to think of anything but how awesome flying was when he was up in the air. The problem was coming back down. It was impossible for Quidditch not to keep him occupied though, which is probably why he held out as long as he had.
But he had to crack eventually, and that was how he found himself standing in front of the UC, craning his neck around to see if anyone was nearby, even though he’d put up a notice me not charm over himself.
When it became clear he wouldn’t be bothered by any wayward security guards, he unlocked the door and slid in.
He spent a few minutes in the visitor’s locker room, gazing around and categorizing all the sights and smells. When he was confident he had enough of a feel for the room to apparate back into it, he moved on forward until he could smell the brittle cold of fresh cut ice.
For a long time he could do nothing but stare up in awe at the vacant stands looming above him. The hollow rink seemed to have a silence completely onto its own, so heavy as it weighed upon him. He couldn’t imagine playing here—the roaring fans, the adrenaline of a hard skate, the sound of the goal horn above the uproarious applause. He wondered what Jonny thought when he stared up into the thousands of seats. The emptiness, probably. Kaner smiled slightly at the thought; undoubtedly Jonny meant to singlehandedly win back hockey for this city.
Considering his talent, that might just come to pass.
Kaner conjured a hockey stick and transfigured himself a pair of skates, the anticipation in his fingers as he stared at the far ice caused his hand to shake. He took a few tentative steps until he glided up onto the blue line, staring in wonder at the open ice in front of him.
In his head he fantasized up a goalie—Fleury, or Quick maybe—conjured up a puck, sucked in a breath and then rocketed it into the net.
He repeated the process a few times, perfecting his shootout and trick shots; all the while laughing breathlessly, staring up into the grand expanse of the UC ceiling and wondering if maybe he was dreaming.
After he’d exhausted himself he flopped down on one of the faceoff circles, covered in flakes of ice. He stared almost listlessly at the quiet arena; the fluttering banners high up on the ceiling, the names of the greats emboldened; the vacant bench and the equally vacant stands.
When he finally found the energy to get back up, he took a few more rounds down to the goal, before eventually packing it up. He transfigured his skates back into trainers with a grand capitulation, vanishing the puck and the stick, and casting an evanesco to clean the mess he’d made of the ice.
The following day he crushed the Portland Pygmy Keeper, to the point the man was almost in tears.
It wasn’t even a Quidditch match as much as it was a total throwdown. He probably should had some semblance of pity somewhere around his hundredth point, but at that point he was beyond stopping. It didn’t even matter that the Pygmy Seeker caught the snitch—the Chanticleers still won by a landslide.
“Merlin’s sagging scrotum, Kaner!” Stark laughed as he hauled Kaner in for a celebratory hug. “No mercy from you, eh?”
Kaner grinned sheepishly; in retrospect, that was rather vindictive of him. He couldn’t help it though—that ice time had put him in such a good mood it spilled out into his game.
Max tumbled out of the sky, launching himself at Kaner in a running leap, roaring loudly as he did so. Stark was already making outlandish plans for a night out—possibly in more than one country, even though the idea of drunkenly using the Floo for that distance was mildly concerning—everyone yelling their agreement at the idea.
Kaner smiled roguishly as they led him on a merry bar crawl through what was turning out to be at least a dozen countries.
He was definitely going back to the rink.
E P I S K Y
It was only a matter of time until he ran into someone at the rink.
He’d been very careful about apparating in at times when he knew no one would be in the visitor’s locker room, once or twice even apparating into a janitor’s closet when he thought the room might be occupied. He was also very attentive on keeping the notice-me-not charm up at all times.
The only times he didn’t keep much watch on either was when he was flying down the ice.
This was, of course, how Jonathan Toews found him, reenacting a hilarious trick shot he’d seen Ovechkin do the night before,
He almost skidded into the boards from his momentum, stopping himself in a flurry of ice just before he collided with the glass. He looked up in that moment, and caught sight of Jonny, staring open mouthed at him.
For a brief moment he debated the merits of a confondous charm—he was definitely better at those than he was the obliviate, and maybe if it was powerful enough he might just be able to trick him into forgetting it—but the thoughts crumbled apart quickly when he caught sight of Jonny’s expression.
He looked… scared. Scared and confused and—almost disappointed?
Kaner skated over, feeling as if he should at least attempt an explanation.
The moment he got close enough, Jonny beat him to it. “I know you.” He said, immediately, as if he couldn’t stop himself.
Kaner tilted his head. Did Jonny remember him?
“Are you….” He faltered slightly, eyes wide and afflicted. “Are you real?”
Kaner almost laughed. Instead, he chuckled slightly under his breath, smiling. “Yes.”
There was a moment: Jonny’s expression didn’t change at all. “…You’re sure?”
This time, Kaner really did laugh. “Yes, I’m fucking sure.” And then, cheekily, “You didn’t get another concussion, did you?”
Jonny looked horrified at the thought.
“Maybe.” He allowed, after pondering this seriously. “I don’t think you’re real.”
Kaner shook his head. Hell, this may actually work in his favor. “Oh. Well, I’m not sure what to do to change your mind.”
He gestured to the ice instead. “You wanna play?”
The answer was immediate. “ Yes .”
It wasn’t long before Jonny was hopping the divider onto the ice. In the meantime, Kaner had conjured up a couple dozen pucks. It felt as if they’d picked up right where they left off, all those months ago. He was almost vibrating with energy, completely enthralled with Jonny once they started to move on to more elaborate drills. It was incredibly refreshing playing with someone else. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d done so. These past couple weeks had been great, coming out here to bask in the smell and feel of the ice—but it was infinitely better with Jonny by his side.
He wasn’t sure how long they stayed on the ice, skating slow circles around each other and passing the puck back and forth, or practicing some of the Blackhawk’s plays. Jonny had no issues instructing Kaner right where he wanted him; Kaner had no issues with that either, more than content to follow Jonny’s commands. Well, unless he disagreed with them. He learned it was fairly easy to get into a shouting match with the other boy; he also learned that the two of them combined had more stubbornness than a Hippogriff.
He also learned that the two of them made a magic of their own on the ice.
It sang in the air between them as they raced up and down the rink, illuminating the rink with an energy that seemed to smolder in all the spaces between them. It was well into the night by the time they called it quits, Kaner breathless and completely unable to keep the smile off his face.
Jonny was in equally high spirits, grinning winsomely over his shoulder as he moved to collect a puck from the net. Kaner surreptitiously admired the way his arm flexed under his shirt—he was only human, okay? Jonny turned abruptly, and sent a saucer Kaner’s way while he was still preoccupied with wondering how awesome that arm would look, naked.
Kaner didn’t have to even look away to catch the pass; he was already so connected with the other boy. He did though, afterwards, if only to stop acting like a creep.
Jonny seemed to be just as aware of this detail, shaking his head. “You’re sure you’re real?”
Kaner barked out a laugh. Here he was practically eye fucking the guy, and meanwhile Jonny was still concerned over the legitimacy of his existence. “How many times have I answered that question now?”
He shook his head. “I just…” He looked helplessly up at Kaner. “It’s too good to be true.”
Kaner was so floored he couldn’t get the words to work up his throat. He felt heat rise into his cheeks, coloring him with embarrassment. He looked down. “Oh.” He said, in a small voice. “Thank you.”
It was actually… really touching. Especially coming from a guy like Toews.
Jonny didn’t pass the puck back, gliding over to cross the distance himself. “You’re amazing.” He returned, just as serious as he was in the post game scrums. “You really don’t play?”
“I thought we went over this.” Kaner replied wryly, looking upwards as he rolled his eyes.
He could make out Jonny frowning from the corner of his eye. “You won’t even consider it?”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means I can’t.” Kaner snapped, with more heat than he intended. He immediately regretted it when he caught the hurt expression crossing Jonny’s face, sighing wearily. “Look, I can’t, okay? Let’s just….” He looked around. “Let’s just not talk about it, yeah? I just want to play.”
The energy seemed to leave him then; Kaner didn’t think he’d ever seen the guy look so defeated. “Alright.” Jonny agreed, looking incredibly unhappy about this.
Patrick fought back a yawn. “Not tonight though.” He scrubbed a hand over his eyes, wondering what time it was. He almost threw up a tempus charm, before he thought better of it. Instead he fished out his phone, almost gaping when he saw the time.
“Shit.” He cursed, looking apologetically up at Jonny. “I have to go.”
He turned for the visitor’s bench, but Jonny caught his arm before he could stray too far.
“Wait.” When Kaner met his gaze, it was overwhelmed with fear. “You… you promise? You’re real?”
Kaner smiled fondly. “Yes, I promise.”
Jonny didn’t look convinced, but he released the blonde, looking ponderously towards his hand, as if he wasn’t sure whether he could believe the sensation of touch or not.
“I’m real.” Kaner repeated.
“Then you’ll be here tomorrow? Same time?” Jonny called as he skated back onto solid ground.
Kaner threw him a grin over his shoulder, winking. “It’s a date!”
Jonny did not appear capable of answering that. He proved Kaner wrong though, calling out to him. “It’s Pat, right?”
Kaner halted at the door, turning around slowly, grin spreading over his face.
“Yeah.” He agreed. “It is.”
It might not have been an actual ‘date’ but it was certainly a planned event. And it happened again, and again, and again—until it started to become routine. Kaner was somewhat concerned with overtaxing himself, but for the most part he and Jonny didn’t dare to try the more strenuous drills. That was for the best, probably; Jonny would be equally as concerned with his energy as Patrick, what with the both of them being professional athletes. Kaner snorted.
They couldn’t possibly be from to more opposite worlds, and yet they both fell into the profession of sports.
“Where are you from?” Jonny asked one night, completely out of the blue.
He’d gotten back some time ago from a game against the Blue Jackets (not that Kaner had memorized his schedule, or anything) and Patrick had spent the majority of the night skating himself in circles, mind racing a mile a minute. He couldn’t get his head off of Quidditch, which was weird and an ailment that he usually suffered from with hockey—the Chanticleers had a pretty big game coming up, and with his recent streak of flying genius a lot of pressure was coming his way. Jonny showed up about an hour into his sobering thoughts to drag him out of his head and back onto the ice.
Kaner caught his pass, absent-mindedly pulling the puck up his stick to bounce it on the side of it. “Hmm?”
“Like, location.” Jonny reiterated, dry. “You know what that is, right?”
He flipped the puck one more time, before sending it Jonny’s way with a glare. “Yes, I know what it is.” He scowled. “Why do you want to know?”
It was fairly clear that Jonny was starting to realize just how touchy Kaner got about anything personal. Patrick didn’t mean to be—but it was really, really hard to explain himself and completely blanket over his profession, his current living arrangements, his schooling, and yeah, that thing called magic that he did occasionally. And it was so much easier to just shut him down. Even if he started making sad faces whenever Kaner did it.
Jonny, predictably, pulled a face full of sadness. “Just wondering.” He mumbled, looking back down to his stick.
Kaner sighed, feeling inordinately guilty. “I’m from Buffalo.”
“Really?” Jonny looked back up. “Huh.”
Kaner frowned. “What?”
Jonny shook his head. “Nothing it’s just—you kind of have an accent.”
Kaner blinked. Did he, still? “Oh.” He paused. When it became clear Jonny was waiting for an answer, he elaborated, “I—uh—went to a boarding school in Scotland.”
“Really?” He repeated, smiling. “What were you doing in Winnipeg?”
“Oh, um, visiting a friend.”
Jonny nodded. He averted his attention to the net, and then took a beauty of a wrister to the top right. Kaner took this as a cue, and drew a puck from his own pile, and copied the movement. They didn’t talk much after that, content to bask in a brief, silent camaraderie. There was something rhythmic about the whoosh of wind as he released the puck, the sound his stick made when it collided with it.
He thought they were done with the conversation, until it became clear that Jonny was still thinking on it. “Are you still in school?”
Kaner blinked up from his stick. “Huh?” After a beat, “Oh, no.”
Jonny took a slapshot from the blue line—Kaner was not at all surprised when it made a perfect arc into the top right. “Did you ever play?”
Kaner pulled his eyes away from the glorious bend in his shot—“What?” And then, blinking. “Oh, no. Not really.”
Jonny stared at him, incredulously.
Patrick gave a half-hearted shrug. “I moved to Scotland when I was eleven… they didn’t, uh, play much hockey where I went to school.”
Jonny let out a lamentable sigh, shaking his head.
Kaner frowned at the gesture, wondering why it made something horrible churn in his stomach. He averted his attention back to the net, distracting himself with a few more shots.
“You’re really talented.” Jonny offered, after some time had passed.
Kaner pulled another puck towards him, but didn’t fire it in. He met Jonny’s eyes with a clear look of resignation. “Thanks.” He looked back down then, and practically burned a hole in the net with his shot.
He squinted towards the goal. Hell, he hoped he hadn’t. Stark was right—he really did have too much magic for his own good.
“You’re real.” Jonny stated, on an entirely different tangent.
Kaner wasn’t exactly sure who he was trying to convince, but he was fairly sure it wasn’t him.
“Yes.” Kaner agreed, wry. “Shall we go over this again?”
Jonny shook his head. “It’s just—you don’t seem real.” He made a vague gesture with his hand. “I feel like… like you don’t exist out of this rink.”
Kaner had no idea how to respond to that, but he felt vaguely insulted. “ Thanks. ”
Jonny stared him down. Kaner refused to back away from the challenge, meeting his gaze.
“There’s no record of you in Chicago.” He said then, completely straight faced; like that was totally something normal for him to know.
Kaner balked, brows rising. “And… why do you know that?”
He shrugged. “I looked you up.” He said, as if that wasn’t completely weird.
“Oh god.” Kaner raised a hand to his forehead, wondering if he was getting a headache from hysteria. Well yes, Jonny wouldn’t find any record of him; he lived in a wizarding community. He had no muggle residence, muggle driver’s license, muggle credit cards…. For all Jonny could tell, he really was a ghost. He had no paper trail. There was literally no way for him to prove Kaner existed; well, not unless he fished out Patrick’s birth certificate or something crazy like that. “That’s not… Dude. That’s totally not okay?”
“Well, how else was I supposed to know?” Jonny shot back, defensive.
Kaner threw up his hands. “Shit, I dunno. You could’ve asked. ”
Jonny flushed. “If you weren’t actually real, you wouldn’t exactly be telling the truth, would you?”
Some time had passed, and Jonny was still staring him down with crazy, wild eyes. Kaner reluctantly pushed his puck aside. It was fairly clear that there were some deeper issues involved. He belatedly wondered if Jonny was feeling some residual after-effects of the potion—or maybe, residual memories?
“Let’s go out.” He decided, no room for argument.
Jonny blinked. “Huh?”
That was how the two of them ended up squeezed in the back of a dive bar, debating the Bulls chances of going to the playoffs this year. Kaner had immediately directed the subject to sports, figuring that it was a relatively safe topic they’d both have a lot to say on. Jonny’s knowledge on basketball was rudimentary at best, so Kaner spent most of the time breaking down the benefits of the Mavs zone defense.
Kaner studiously avoided the subject of hockey entirely; they moved from basketball to the unfortunate Bears season, and then debated the merits of the Cubs that year.
He was already three beers deep by the time he broached the subject. “Do I seem real yet?”
Jonny flushed, looking down at his drink. “Yes.” He bit out, looking embarrassed.
Kaner grinned. “You believe me now?”
“ Yes .” He glowered.
If possible, Kaner grinned wider.
Jonny took a sip of his beer—some stupidly expensive, imported kind—eyes averting towards the rest of the bar. Well, it was a Wednesday with no specials or deals to be seen, so the place itself was almost deserted. It was nice, though; no one looked their direction, the bartender was quick, efficient, and nice, and each channel had some kind of sport on.
“We should do this again.” Jonny said, returning his gaze to Kaner.
The blonde shifted uneasily. “Sure.”
It’d really depend on his schedule, but he wouldn’t…. mind it, per say. But he had absolutely no idea how he’d manage to keep the fact that he was sort of a wizard under wraps if he spent any significant time with the other boy.
He gazed up at Jonny briefly, when the older boy’s attention had drifted over towards the TV.
How could he be so attracted to a muggle? Kaner mourned his life.
He wanted to curse Fred and George to flames forever exposing his irrevocable love for tall, stupidly hot brunettes. He could have lived his life in a peaceful, ignorant, Charlie Weasley haze. He smiled slightly at the thought of the twins. He couldn’t wait to see them again. He wondered what they’d think of Jonny—no doubt they’d be overjoyed at such a gullible person to prank all the time. Jonny would doubtlessly only incur their amusement further with his incorrigible deadpan and complete inability to be anything but serious.
The thought struck him, suddenly.
What the hell was he doing?
He was sitting here, contemplating Jonny—Jonny and magic. Jonny and his world. He had conjured up an image of Jonny looking not all that different than he did right now, in a soft, worn shirt nursing a bottle of beer, sitting on the Weasley’s couch and laughing as Ron got sprayed in feathers coming down the stairs.
He sat up straight, shaking his thoughts away. Jonny was still staring at the TV.
He suddenly wanted to shove the beer in front of them to the floor. He wanted to shove Jonny out of the booth, flip over the table, and get the fuck out of there. What was he doing? What was he thinking? That was a reality that would never exist… it couldn’t. That kind of wishful thinking was going to get him in trouble—with the way things were going back in England, it was going to get him killed.
Jonny was a muggle.
Kaner was a wizard.
And there wasn’t much else to say.
Kaner jolted out of the reality in his head, and the Weasley couch and Jonny’s bright, easy smile gave way to the back booth at the bar, Jonny’s expression curious.
He shook his head, fingering his glass. “No.” He said at length, as he gathered himself.
He turned to the TV, shaking his head ruefully. “How is it that the Giants always lose to the Cubs?”
Jonny laughed. “Well, you see…”
Suffice to say, Kaner didn’t go back.
He wanted to—oh, how he wanted to—but the idea of a muggle finding out about him was… horrifying, really. It was one thing when it was his family, but entirely another for a certified stranger. How would he even start? He wondered how all those muggle-magical relationships could even happen when there was such a vast difference between the two worlds.
What was even more horrifying was how deeply he’d been contemplating it. Those relationships did happen though, right? They had to have started somewhere. Maybe Jonny would find it as wonderful as Patrick did, maybe he’d think it beautiful, and not alarming. But who was Patrick to say what his reaction would be? He shook his head.
No. Better to distance himself entirely.
This only served to confuse the Blackhawks Captain even more: had he hallucinated all that again?
The idea was terrifying. Was the whole thing some fucked up residual concussion issues? He almost wanted to call up Sidney Crosby, if only to get some confirmation. He had no idea how that conversation would go, though—hey Sid, yeah, did you ever like conjure up fake people while you had a concussion? Really? Yeah me too! Was he perhaps blonde, with an adorable smile, possibly from Buffalo?
Jon shook his head. He was going crazy, is what it was.
And if he could acknowledge this—then why the hell was he still here, in the middle of the night, staring up into the bowels of the UC, forlornly wishing for his poltergeist to return?
Patrick Kane did not show up.
Nor did he show up the next week, or the week after that.
All Jon had—once more—was a stick that wasn’t his and a handful of memories of a boy who didn’t quite make sense.
It was the end of April, the cusp of playoff season, and instead of getting a night’s rest as he should be Jonathan Toews was skating slow and listless circles on the ice of the UC center.
He checked his watch—midnight. He should really be getting back. He was doing nothing productive right now, for anyone; the Zamboni guys were going to kill him when they got in next morning, coach was going to kill him for not sleeping, his team was going to kill him for sucking tomorrow at practice, and management was going to kill him for sucking in the playoffs.
Okay, so there were some exaggerations in there, but this didn’t negate the fact that everyone would be angry tomorrow if he showed up and sucked. The very idea of the Blackhawks going to the playoffs had the entire team in a frenzy. Then again, a cup drought of half a century was nothing to scoff at.
The idea that everyone was also looking at Jonny to solve that problem was horrifying. His stomach tied itself in knots at the very idea of letting them down.
He skated back to the bench, resting his head against the divider.
He could do this. He knew he could. He was more than talented enough, his team was more than talented enough—this was their year.
He had to believe that.
A scuffling noise from behind him had him leaping back, scrabbling for purchase against the glass.
It was Patrick.
“Hey.” He said, softly, watching Jon with indeterminable eyes.
“Hey.” He returned, for lack of anything useful to say. He could ask; where have you been? Why did you leave? Where did you go—are you even real ?
He didn’t, though. He leaned back against the side of the rink and watched him back, refusing to give anything away.
Patrick was wearing what he always did, a nondescript gray hoodie and a pair of jeans; in his hands was a stick strikingly similar to the one propped against the wall of Jon’s apartment. On his feet were a pair of skates he’d never seen before. He’d say they were custom made, but they didn’t have the professional look of most skates. They looked as if Patrick had made them himself.
For a moment, he thought Patrick might just remark upon his weeks of silence. Instead, he tilted his head to the goal post still up. “Wanna play?”
They didn’t speak, only skated circles around each other and the goal. Jon knew instinctively when they were playing against each other, and when Patrick wanted to play with him. They’d go from keepaways to breakaways in the space of a moment, and Jon kept up with him as if they’d been playing with each other their whole lives.
He felt… more at peace than he had for some time.
Patrick looped back around the opposite end to gather up a stray puck, and threw a saucer his way. Jon caught it, and pretended to deke around a defender and fake out the goalie.
Or, he tried anyway. Halfway through he lost his footing in a sharp cut in the ice, threw the puck in the net and then toppled straight over.
He could hear Patrick’s laughter across the ice; would have joined in too, even, had a bolt of pain not shot through his leg.
When he didn’t get up, Patrick’s laughter died, and he could hear the blonde worriedly calling his name.
“Fuck.” He cursed, wide-eyed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck. ”
Patrick dropped his stick, skating over fervently. “What?” He asked as he approached. “Are you okay?”
Jonny hissed. “No.” He replied, forlorn. It wasn’t as if it hurt badly—he’d certainly suffered significantly worse injuries—but he wasn’t stupid enough to think he could play on it.
“What happened?” Kaner skidded onto his knees, looking him over.
“My ankle.” He gasped out, practically in hysterics. Oh god. If he got injured right now, days away from the playoffs…
Patrick seemed to understand his dilemma, eyes widening. “… How bad?” He asked, faintly.
Jonny shook his head. “I don’t know.” But I can’t play on it, went unheard. It was clear that Patrick heard it anyway.
He bit down on his lip, tentatively reaching for Jon’s skates. When the brunette didn’t protest, he tugged it into his lap, slowly unraveling the laces. He tossed off the skate, running light fingers down the side of his calf. Jon flinched when his coasting fingers brushed against his swollen ankle.
Kaner’s expression didn’t bode well. He doubted his did either.
“I…” Kaner paused. “Fuck.” He said, eloquent.
“Yeah.” Jon agreed, solemn. He didn’t know how to feel right now. A part of him wanted to scream and trash the entire place; the other half wanted to curl up into a ball and die. How could he be so stupid? His team—his whole city—was counting on him, and he had let them down.
Patrick was watching him with wide, luminous eyes. He was biting his lip so hard Jon thought he might bite right through it—Jon also thought he really wanted to bite it, too, which was so inappropriate right now. What.
“I’m so sorry.” He said, brows creased and looking like he might just cry. Which, hey, if anyone was going to cry right now, it should be Jonny.
“It’s not your fault.” He replied, numb. How could this have happened to him? Fuck, he thought again. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Patrick’s eyes were imploring and sympathetic, and Jon didn’t want to look at them. “I’m sorry.” He repeated.
Jon sighed. “Yeah.” And then, shifting slightly, “We should probably get off the ice.”
Patrick nodded mutely.
“And I’m gonna need to call my trainer—
He made a move to stand, but Patrick clamped his hand tightly on his other leg.
Jon sunk back down, questioning. If possible, Patrick managed to bite his lip harder.
“I don’t want to ruin your life.” He blurted out, suddenly.
“So—so just don’t ask questions? Actually, just look away for a second. Trust me, I would be taking your life in my hands if I have to obliviate you.”
“Oblivi—what?” Jon began, but then Patrick forcefully turned his head the other way.
“Promise me.” He demanded, equally sullen and determined. “You won’t ask.”
“Ask what?” Jon sputtered, thoroughly confused. The blonde’s hand tightened against his hair, making him avert his eyes into the stand.
“Ok—sure!” Jon yelled back, almost on instinct.
There was a quiet moment, then Patrick took a deep breath. He felt something sharp and small pointed into his ankle, and he hissed, opening his mouth to tell him off—
And then an agonizing blaze of pain shot through his leg and he shouted, wrenching it out of Patrick’s grip.
“What the fuck?” He cursed, scooting away.
Patrick was looking at him expressionlessly, tucking something back into the sleeve of his hoodie.
“Dude!” Jon shouted again, moving to stand. All his attention was then diverted to the pain in his leg… or lack thereof.
He touched it, slightly, mindblown when the searing pain of a broken ankle didn’t meet his fingers. “What did you do?” He balked.
Patrick’s eyes narrowed. “You promised you wouldn’t ask.”
Something in his tone told Jon not to press his luck.
“Right.” He agreed, slowly. “I guess I did.” He looked back down at his leg. He dodged a bullet on that one, surely. He looked back at Patrick. But how much of that was luck?
Patrick stood, and held out his hand.
Jon took it with no small amount of curiosity, gingerly stepping back into his skate. Nothing. Not even a twinge. An injury like that should have raised hell getting better. He’d had enough of them to remember; less painful agony and more impatient agony. But he couldn’t feel anything but the soft interior lining of his skates against his bare skin.
He looked back up at Patrick, something close to wonder making his mouth drop open. “How…”
Patrick gave him a look, and Jon immediately stopped. Right. No questions.
Patrick tightened his hand, briefly, and it was then that Jon realized he was still clasping Patrick’s hand in his. The blonde pulled it away, averting his eyes.
“I should go.”
“What?” Jon asked, stupidly.
Patrick skated backwards, out of his reach. He shook his head. Jon didn’t want to see the expression there. It was something too much like sorrow. “I’m going to go.”
“What—no!” He yelled, reaching for him. Like a ghost, Patrick maneuvered out of his hands.
“Don’t come after me.” He said,
“Don’t make me come after you.” Jon countered.
He bit his lip again, rolling it beneath his teeth as he looked up at Jon with wide eyes. It made Jon want to fuck him cross-eyed. It also made him want to cuddle him forever. All these emotions did not bode well for him, especially when the object of his thoughts seemed hell bent in constantly disappearing from his life.
He made another grab for the blonde, catching his hand.
Jon swallowed. “Please.” He begged, quiet. “Don’t go.”
Patrick searched his eyes. “I…”
“Please.” He said again.
Patrick shook his head, letting go.
L U M O S
Jon didn’t go looking for him.
Not that he had the time, really.
He played—and played. And played some more. He played as hard as he could, forcing himself into the next shift, the next play—refusing to take the gift of his healed ankle for granted. Because if he did, that meant it was meaningless. And if it was meaningless… then Patrick ran away for no reason at all. And he was glad Patrick hadn’t given him the choice, because if he could choose today whether to have a bum ankle or Patrick by his side—he wasn’t sure which choice he’d make. And that was terrifying.
He wanted to look up and search the stands, holding onto a fraying string of hope that perhaps Patrick was in the tides of people who had come out to see the Blackhawks make a legitimate playoff run. Maybe he was looking down on him, enigmatic smile an endearing fixture on his face.
Jonny didn’t know.
He couldn’t know—because nothing about Patrick appeared to make any kind of logical sense. What was he? There was as much empirical evidence proving that he was real as there was proving he was a symptom of Jonny’s concussion.
Maybe Patrick was right though; maybe he shouldn’t go looking for him Maybe he should finally learn to just let sleeping dogs lie. Whoever Patrick was, whatever Patrick was, it was clear he didn’t ever want Jonny to know. And though this only served to stimulate Jonny’s under-reactive imagination into overdrive, it was probably for the best.
Patrick could suck him in if he wasn’t careful; utterly ruin him.
But he felt he was already ruined.
Patrick, much to his own good fortune, simply did not have the time to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Chanticleers had been out of town since he had successfully upended both his and Jon’s lives, and that was probably for the best. Patrick could mope away his hours listlessly without the temptation of having Jon nearby. He wanted—he didn’t know what he wanted. Reconciliation, somehow. Which was stupid. He had nothing to reconcile. They had no relationship at all to speak of. They were practically strangers.
He was having a hard time convincing himself of that.
Still, touring Asia was doing wonders as a distraction; the Asian teams were some of the toughest in the world, and the Americas were looking at the Chanticleers to do them proud. The very idea of one day competing in the Quidditch World Cup sent shivers down his spine—perhaps he really had found his calling in Quidditch. He couldn’t imagine trying to go for a Master in Potions, at any rate. Just the idea of somehow even approaching similarity with Snape disturbed him greatly. On the subject of Snape, he really hoped Snape the kneazle was doing okay. He’d left him food, and he was a kneazle (a mean one, at that) so he could probably fend for himself.
He was easily distracted by the tough competition, the sight seeing and the food. He had a pocket universe in his stomach and he intended to use it to its fullest.
However, Kaner’s good spirits were not meant to last.
The moment they stepped out of the international floo network, he felt the sudden and indomitable weight on his shoulders once more. With just a breath of the Chicago air, he was already thinking about Jonny.
He managed to get at least three hours in before he finally gave in and searched the stats. He cleaned his house—with his actual hands, not just a half-hearted evanesco—took a shower, shucked all the clothes out of his trunk and into his washer, waited around to put in the dryer, fixed his bed, and fed Snape the kneazle. He sat around stupidly staring at an empty TV, practically twitching with the effort of stopping himself from turning it on. But Patrick was never known for his self restraint, and he gave in after a useless five minutes.
He wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
Even as he sprawled out on his couch, studiously avoiding ESPN by forcing himself to watch old reruns of Criminal Minds, he couldn’t stop thinking about him. Was he doing okay? How was he taking the loss? From what little he knew of Jonathan Toews, he assumed not very well. And that was the real problem at hand, wasn’t it? He didn’t know much at all about Jonathan Toews.
He didn’t—but he wanted to.
Well, they hadn’t lost forever. It wasn’t the end of the world. Being two down in the series wasn’t all that great either, but that was recoverable. The Blackhawks were a strong team—they could pull out the W. He had faith.
Or he did, anyway, until he finally ended up dragging himself to watch the reruns of the last game.
It was… atrocious, to say the least.
Jonny looked both crazed and half-way to pieces, as if he’d been running himself ragged this whole play-off run and might have taken ten years off his life in the process. This shouldn’t mean anything to Kaner. Jonny shouldn’t mean anything to Kaner.
But it was getting pretty hard to lie to himself.
Jonny meant a lot more to Kaner than he was comfortable admitting; which was so stupid, there was no reason for him to, they didn’t even know each other. This didn’t stop Kaner from thinking about him all the time—how he was doing, if he was alright, if he was pushing himself too hard. He wanted to know everything, which was equally as stupid. Jonny wasn’t all that interesting of a person. This did nothing to stop his incessant urge to know, or his incessant worry, or his—anything, really. He was still thinking about Jonny all the time, at Quidditch practice, at home, at random intervals during the day.
This also didn’t stop him from inevitably seeing him once again.
He grabbed a pepper-up potion as an added incentive to actually do something useful while he was visiting—the other boy clearly looked like he could use one—and came to his decision about Jonathan Toews.
At the very least, the other boy deserved an explanation. And, Kaner consoled himself, if it truly turned out so heinous an affair he could always drag Toews off to a wizarding hospital and have them obliviate him. Pat didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of that earlier; he could just use the mobilicorpus and drag the boy over, and then pay an actual professional to use the memory charm.
The Canadian hockey player was, predictably, in his house when Kaner quietly used an alohomora on the front door. In his house, and struggling with a truly incredible amount of gauze and wrappings, wrestling around on the floor.
Tazer cursed again, trying to slip his foot back into the strange bandage contraption he’d made for himself. He’d seen the trainer do this a thousand times, it couldn’t be that hard, right? And he didn’t want to go to them to get it wrapped; they’d tell coach, and then coach would start asking questions. Questions Jonny didn’t want to answer right now. He didn’t really need it—his foot held no evidence of injury. But it had broke, right? Even if it had been miraculously healed, anyone with any sense knew to take great care with a recently healed injury. He wasn’t sure if his case was really all that similar, but better safe than sorry. Either way, attempting to explain to the trainers why he was trying to wrap his ankle for what ultimately amounted to a lot of superstition and unwarranted worry wasn’t what he wanted to do with his time.
“If you keep this up you’re going to put yourself in the hospital,” a voice muses from behind him.
Jonny leaps into the air, startled, and the gauze goes flying out of his hand. He gapes for a moment, uncomprehending, and unwilling to believe his own eyes. How could he, when it was clear they were deceptive bastards? Because there was a very familiar blonde standing in the middle of his living room, wearing an unfortunate looking beanie slung low over his curls, an unremarkable knit sweater and really fresh nike’s. A very, very familiar blonde indeed.
“Patrick,” he murmurs, still held in a maundering disbelief.
The blonde smiles, quietly. “Hey,” he greets, totally casual, as if it’s not completely and utterly impossible for him to be here right now.
“What—how…” Jonny trails off, throat working. No sounds manage to make their way through all the rocks in his throat. Is this real?
He stands, shakily, approaching the other boy very slowly. Patrick doesn’t move, simply regarding him with unreadable, cesious eyes. He draws a trembling hand into the space in air between them, lightly brushing against the blonde’s shoulder. It feels… real. Solid, and warm.
“Patrick,” he breathes, again, this time something like wonder coloring his voice.
“Yeah,” the blonde’s smile turns genuine, laughter setting into his eyes. “I thought we established that.”
Jonny sputters, shaking his head with wide eyes. “How are you here?”
Patrick doesn’t answer, tilting his head, appraising Jonny with an air of neutrality.
“What are you?” Jonny challenged, abruptly, searching the blonde in front of him with scrutinizing eyes.
“You’re fairy godmother, obviously.” Pat rolls his eyes. “Be careful, you’re running out of wishes.”
Jonny flushes. “I—“ He pauses. “Are you serious?”
Patrick really laughs at that. “No of course not, what the fuck, do I have wings and a sparkling wand?
“Well how am I supposed to know?” Jonny shoots back, hotly. “You—you make absolutely no sense! You could be anything!”
“That’s true,” Patrick agrees, solemn. “I get told that pretty often.”
“You also have a way of getting out never answering questions,” he accuses.
“Astute observation.” Patrick smirks.
Jonny glowers at him.
For a moment the blonde says nothing, staring at him expressionlessly. Finally he sighs, and kicks over the couch to sprawl himself comfortably atop of it. He looks far too relaxed in Jonny’s house, the brunette notices. Far too relaxed and far too comfortable—as if he belongs here, among all of Jonny’s things. He tries not to think too deeply on that.
“Well,” Patrick tilts his head, curious. “What do you want to ask me?”
Jon spares him a baleful glance. “Will you actually answer?” He snarks back.
Patrick shrugs. “I guess you’ll just have to ask and see, huh?”
Jon scowls, crossing his arms and looking away from the obnoxious boy. After a long moment of silence, he directs his gaze once more to the mysterious blonde on his couch. “You’ve been here before,” he says, less of a question and more of a confirmation.
Patrick scrutinizes him, expression giving nothing away. “Yes,” he says at length.
Jonny closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. An answer that only leads to thousands of more questions.
“You cured my concussion.” Another statement.
And another answer that only leads to more confusion
Jon swallows. “But…” he falters. “How?”
Patrick simply stares at him with a deadpan expression. Ah. Probably not getting an answer on that one.
He shakes his head, trying again. “You healed my ankle.”
“I’m glad your memory seems to be working appropriately,” is the drawl response.
He narrows his eyes. “Is it, though?” He challenges. “Because I think it’s been fucking with me this whole time.”
Patrick laughs at that, hands tucked leisurely behind his head as he peers up at him. “Trust me—your memory is perfectly fine. Let’s try to keep it that way.”
What the hell is that supposed to mean? Tazer blinks rapidly. Keep it that way—as if they could somehow make it not fine. He searches the blonde enigma in front of him; maybe he could. He can heal ankles in the blink of an eye, and has made disappearing into thin air into a minor art form. Maybe he’s capable of that too.
Jonny decides to ask.
“What do you mean by that?” He returns, quiet. “What can happen to my memories?”
This gives the blonde pause, as if he is thoughtfully debating the answer. Jon is about to give it up as a lost cause when the blonde answers; “A lot of things. They can get taken away.”
His eyes widen in horror. “They can?”
“Sure.” Patrick nods. And then, sternly, “But that’s some serious shit, you know. You do not want me to do that to you—I’ll probably fuck it up, and then who knows what’ll happen to you.”
The horror triples.
“I don’t want to do that, obviously,” Patrick adds, drily. “Which is why I told you not to ask any questions... and why I’m not going to answer a lot of them right now.”
Jon debates this. Put like that, the deal doesn’t sound too bad. He’d prefer to forever live with his curiosity than forever live as a comatose heap convinced he’s a vegetable. Still, Tazer has never been particularly good at withholding his curiosity, whenever it decides to rear its ugly head—now is no different. Even knowing it’s for his own good.
Thought swim through his head, questions at every turn, and he tosses most of them out as no-go’s as he picks his way through them. There is one, though…
“Why did you do it?”
“Why did you fix my ankle?” He elaborates. “You didn’t have to do it,” he notes. And then, darkly, “It probably would have been better for you if you hadn’t.”
“That’s true,” Patrick agrees, solemn. His expression drifts into something wan and regretful. “But I couldn’t do that to you. I know how much this playoff run means to you… I didn’t want you to have to sit and watch it from the sidelines. I didn’t want you to have to go through that kind of pain.”
That’s… not really what he was expecting. It says a lot about Patrick though—about Patrick, and what Patrick feels for him. Because right now, it seems like the blonde actually cares deeply about him, and his happiness, his hockey, and his general wellbeing. Otherwise, why would he have even tipped his hand? Why would he have mysteriously cured his concussion?
He sits up abruptly, then. “Okay, I think that’s enough for Q and A.”
Jon blinks, startled. “What—wait, I wasn’t done—
But Patrick only spares him an amused glance, as if he finds it cute that Jon could possibly think he has any say in the proceedings. Jon shuts his mouth at that, flushing.
The blonde ferrets about his pocket, before pulling out an innocuous glass vial. Jon looks at it warily; when was the last time he saw one of those? And also, who the hell carries little glass vials around in their pockets? A mad scientist? The prospect actually has some merit; it would at least explain how Patrick managed to cure both a broken bone and broken brain tissue.
Patrick thrusts it out to him, much to his trepidation.
“What is it?” He asks at length, greatly alarmed.
Patrick rolls his eyes. “Do you really think I would tell you?”
“It could be poison or something!” Jon protests.
Patrick blinks, looking totally blindsided. Then he tosses Jon a very unimpressed look. “Why the hell would I have spent so much time and effort keeping you healthy only to poison you?”
“Good point,” Jon commiserates, sheepishly. He takes the vial held out to him, cautiously bringing it up to eye-length. It looks… like a liquid. Well no shit.
He pulls the stopper, taking a whiff. Smells like mint ice cream. He refrains from trying to ask any more questions, and instead pinches his nose and downs the thing in one go. It definitely didn’t taste like mint ice cream.
He squints as his eyes water. “That was disgusting,” he comments, grimacing.
Patrick shrugs, totally unapologetic. “You’ll feel better in an hour or so,” are his sage words of advice. He breezes past the brunette while Jonny is distracted, looking for all intent purposes as if he is about to waltz right back out of Jonny’s life as abruptly as he had come into it.
“You’re leaving?” He finds himself asking, before he can think better of it.
The blonde pauses, back turned to him. “Yeah,” he answers, without turning around.
“That’s—that’s it? What? You’re just going to disappear again off the face of the earth?” He challenges.
He doesn’t respond to this.
“That’s really all you’re going to say,” Jon says with disbelief.
“Oh, yeah,” Patrick replies. “Try to get some sleep, yeah? You’re not going to do you or your team any good running yourself into the ground.”
And then he opens Jonny’s front door, lets himself out, and closes the door behind him.
Jonny has a brief moment where he simply stares incredulously at the spot the blonde vacated, and then he is tearing after him, wrenching the door open with half a mind to berate the blonde into submission, only to find that he isn’t there. He pauses, taken aback as he darts his head down both ends of the hall. Nothing. Not even a shadow turning the corner, or the sound of footsteps hurtling down the stairs. But that was impossible—the elevators were at the end of the hall, and so were the stairs.
He sighed, leaning against the door frame with a look of resignation. Then again, why the hell did he assume anything about Patrick would make logical sense? The blonde seemed to kip around the laws of physics as if they were surgeon’s general warnings.
After a beat, he scowled, and retreated back into his house.
If that’s how the blonde wanted to play, than he could just fuck off.
What a bastard, Jon thinks, irritably. Never mind the fact that he was the sole reason why Jon even participated in this season at all—let alone the post season—and without him Jon would be watching all of this from his sullen spot on the bench. All of this was conveniently easy to forget in the face of Patrick’s evasiveness.
Also: never mind the fact that this did nothing to stop him from thinking about Patrick all the time.
He knew the blonde was right; he needed to be in top shape for the playoffs, and there was no way he was going to get there tossing and turning in his bed and clocking in less that two hours of sleep. True to form, he did feel a lot better after taking that voodoo drink of Patrick’s. He had thought himself in circles on the matter, and had come up empty every time. Maybe he just had to accept that he was never going to know anything about Patrick—who he is, what he’s doing, if he’s think about Jon right now…
He bolts out of bed, turning into the bathroom to splash water onto his face. When he flicks the light on the person staring back at him looks gaunt and ill-kept, and also like his hair got mauled by a ferret. He looks horrible, to say the least. He consoles himself; who does he have to look good for, anyway?
He stumbles out of the bathroom, turning the lights off and trudging blindly to his bed. Jon flops bonelessly onto it, surprised with such resistance from his pillow.
Okay. That’s definitely not his pillow.
He curses liberally, reaching for the lamp. He practically knocks it over before he finally gets the thing to work. He sputters inelegantly for some time, simply gaping at the blonde. He looks nonplussed, and kind of pissy at the fact Jon just belly flopped onto him.
“Was that necessary?” He bitches.
Jon flounders uselessly. “Wh—how the hell was I supposed to know you were there?” He retorts, hysterical.
Patrick blinks, as if this logic was new to him. “Oh.” He says, before shrugging. “Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. Why the hell are you not doing what I told you?”
“What did you tell me?”
“Sleep.” He harrumphs, patting the bed in a most un-encouraging manner. “It’s good for you, you know. Especially when your physical performance is really important right now. That potion can’t cure everything, you know.”
“No, I don’t know.” He croaks out, after a beat. “Because I have no idea what the fuck it was.”
“Oh.” Patrick says again. Jon would groan in exasperation if he wasn’t so wide-eyed and brain dead right now.
Without further ado, Patrick tosses him onto the bed with more strength than he thought possible. The blonde leans over him, and he feels his heart stutter to a halt as he gazes up into that beautiful gaze, tossed in the waning lamp light. For a moment his expression is indiscernible. Then it breaks into something that looks almost… fond.
He puts a warm hand over Jon’s forehead. “Go to sleep, Jon.”
They win the next game.
He refuses to acknowledge that Patrick had anything to do with that.
He also refuses to acknowledge the fact that he now seems incapable of sleeping on his own. It’s just… his bed is uncomfortable, that’s all. Or maybe his pillows are too stiff. Or maybe it’s the traffic outside. The moonlight, the shadows—oh, fuck it all. It’s definitely because of Patrick. Even the overwhelming gratification of winning the game earlier tonight could stop him from thinking on him. Coach had finally stopped looking like he was half a step away from telling Jon to go home, and had actually looked approving when Jon had shown up that morning, as if congratulating for finally remembering what REM sleep was.
Unfortunately, he seemed to have forgotten again.
What was he supposed to do, though? Patrick was a puzzle, and there was nothing Jon loved more than picking things apart. Except this was a puzzle he didn’t think he could finish; he was at a loss as to where to even start. Honestly he was genuinely starting to think Patrick might actually be his fairy godmother. That would make the most sense—which was saying something, because that was utterly insensible.
It says a lot that Jon doesn’t even jump when he opens the door to his bedroom after grabbing water from the kitchen. There is definitely someone in his bed, that hadn’t been there a moment ago, and Jon isn’t running to call the cops. He doesn’t do anything, actually, aside from wander over to his side of the bed, plopping the bottle onto the table.
“You want any?” He asks, as if he’s lost his mind at some point during the night, and this is all perfectly acceptable and perfectly normal.
“No thanks,” Patrick replies, just as easily.
Jon nods, slipping back into bed. He doesn’t say anything. Neither does Patrick. He just… he just lays there, with the blonde by his side.
“I’m not really helping you, am I?” Patrick addresses to the ceiling, after a long moment of the both of them just staring up into it.
Jon frowns. That’s not true. “You have. You are .” He amends. And then, bitterly; “You’re just… confusing.”
“Confusing you.” Patrick agrees. “Distracting you.”
“You are pretty distracting.” He admits, after a beat. “But that doesn’t mean I want you to leave.” He adds quickly.
He can practically see the confused crease in the blonde’s brow. “You don’t?”
“No,” he replies, exasperated. “I feel like I’ve spent the entire time I’ve known you asking you to stay.”
“Oh.” The blonde swallows.
There is a long beat of silence.
Then Patrick turns over, watching him closely. For a moment Jon doesn’t return the gaze, until it gets too much for him, and he has to turn his head to look. Patrick purses his lips, looking conflicted. “Would it help if I stayed?”
Jon blinks once, slowly. “Yes.” He doesn’t hesitate to say.
He’s there in the morning when Jon opens his eyes. He marvels at the light sparkling against his features, like little diamonds caught in his hair. He looks so small and soft like that, listless in his dreams. Jon swallows thickly—why is he not concerned over the fact he just let a stranger sleep in his bed? Why is he looking at him and thinking that it feels good to have him there? Jon looks away quickly, running a wary hand through his hair. At the very least, he’s gotten what feels like the best sleep he’s had in years. He didn’t even wake up once. He can’t remember the last time he’d slept so deeply.
Patrick mumbles discontentedly when he rises from the bed. He looks back down at the boy, who squints into the sunlight, frowning adorably.
“What time is it?” He groans, burying his head into the sheets.
Jon looks at the clock. “Eight.” It’s surprising how chipper he feels, considering the hour.
Patrick makes an unhappy noise, curling into a ball. “That’s so early.” He whines.
Jon rolls his eyes. “Well, some of us have shit to do today.”
With that he gets up, intent on getting a good start on the day. They’ve got an away game next, so he bustles into his closet to start throwing some clothes together. When he emerges Patrick is already up, legs thrown over the bed in a way that makes a ridiculous thrill of fear shoot up his spine. He looks like he’s leaving.
He shuffles back into the room, hovering by the bed as the blonde yawns and shakes out his hair, rubbing his face.
“What…” He pauses, uncomfortable. “What are you doing today?”
“Boring errands.” The blonde gripes.
That sounds… normal. This whole thing has seemed so normal, which is really making him uneasy. It shouldn’t feel like this. Like this is an everyday occurrence, like Patrick sleeping in his bed is a given. He doesn’t want to ask, but he finds himself doing it anyway.
“Are you coming back?”
Patrick lowers his hands at that, blinking at Jon. “Um,” he stops. “Do you want me to?”
Jon scowls, feeling ridiculous. This doesn’t stop him from answering truthfully. “Yes.” He admits.
Patrick smiles quietly at him. “Okay then.”