Title: Five Stories about Gwenog Jones
Characters: Gwenog Jones (who?), with cameos by Hooch, Snape, and Hermione
Rating: PG-13, owing to Gwenog's slightly filthy mouth
Summary: Gwenog Jones is a Beater, a woman, a Slytherin, and she loves to fly – not necessarily in that order. She's not afraid of very much in this world, because she's never found very much to be afraid of. And yeah, for the record, she could kick your arse.
Notes: Written for the May Wizard/Witch of the Month challenge at omniocular. My claim was, as you see, for Gwenog Jones, Captain and Beater of only all-female professional Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies. As much information as possible about Gwenog and professional Quidditch was taken from the HP Lexicon and portions of HBP. The rest, I made up. :)
When we first meet Gwenog Jones, she is seventeen years old and Slytherin has just won the House Cup. Her teammates would probably carry her into the Great Hall on their shoulders – she did take out the Hufflepuff Seeker with a Bludger to the kneecap just before he would have caught the Snitch, after all – but she isn't really the kind of girl anyone wants to carry on their shoulders. She's too big, for a start, long-limbed and bulky, and besides, carrying-on-shoulders is pretty much always done by the boys, and let's be honest: they're just after a peek up her knickers or a stray hand on her arse.
And on the fucking House Cup day? She doesn't need shit like that.
So she walks into the Hall on two feet like everyone else, grinning widely at the cheers that erupt from the Slytherin table (and the Ravenclaw table, let's not sugar-coat this; they're just as glad to see those snotty Hufflepuff shits flattened on the pitch) and taking her seat to a great roar of applause.
This is Gwenog Jones: captain of the champion Slytherin team, best Beater of any Hogwarts team in seven years, and a woman (don't even try calling her a girl, thank you very much) destined to play professional Quidditch for one of the best teams in Britain.
Life is pretty fucking good.
The problem, of course, is choosing a team to go with. They all want her; that isn't the issue. At least, she's pretty sure they do. They'd be fucking mad if they didn't. But she has to consider her options carefully. Quidditch is a fully integrated sport between men and women, and has been for centuries, but that doesn't mean the blokes don't like to try and grab a bit of tit in the locker rooms after practice. She has yet to encounter any dickheads at Hogwarts she couldn’t handle – the hands of a Beater can do some serious damage when twisted around a pair of saggy bollocks, after all – but she figures it would be different in the pro leagues.
Hooch isn't much help, of course, even though Gwenog knows she's trying to be.
"All right, you've got four squads that'll give you a try-out," Hooch tells her one afternoon in her office, a few days before her final train leaves Hogwarts. It's a hot day, sunny and fresh, and Gwenog can't help but gaze out the window whenever Hooch's back is turned, clenching her empty fist around her bat and hoping she'll still have time to sneak in a bit of a fly before dinner. Hooch is tapping at several pieces of parchment when Gwenog looks back over at her. "You've got the Bats, up in Ballycastle; the Falcons – now there's a team that needs a Beater, eh? You see their last match with Caerphilly? Honestly! – and, all right, what else…" She shifts her parchment around. "Oh, yeah, Puddlemere United sent this owl back." She holds up the page and reads from it, brow furrowed. "Open try-outs on the sixteenth… can't pay any travel expenses… lodging available above the Peeled Onion on Courier Street…" She flings the parchment aside and rolls her eyes.
"Wait, keep reading," insists Gwenog, grabbing the parchment.
"Girl, forget about Puddlemere. If they couldn't even send a personalised letter, then they don't know what they're missing. Open try-outs! Who do they think they'll get – some hidden treasure from Hufflepuff who was too good to play on the House team? Idiots, all of 'em." She gives Gwenog a pointed look. "You're the best player at Hogwarts, Jones. If they're not breaking down your door, I'm not going to let you beg." She sniffs, yanking the parchment away from Gwenog, who makes a face at her and drops sullenly into a chair.
"Yeah, but maybe some things are worth begging for," she grumbles. "Besides, open try-outs! Once they see me, they'll be off to fire whoever didn't invite me personally in the first place." She grins, already imagining the look on the poor sod's face. You overlooked Jones?! they'd say. Are you mad, man? Best player in a century! We're signing her to a twenty-five year contract! We're going to –
"Not likely," says Hooch, and Gwenog frowns as her daydream evaporates around her. "Besides, I haven't told you the fourth offer yet – the best one, if you ask me."
Gwenog folds her arms over her chest and glares. "All right, then. Let's hear it."
Hooch pauses for dramatic effect, her eyes alight and her usually severe mouth fighting down a grin. "The Harpies," she says at last.
Gwenog stares at her.
"Oh, come on! Isn't that exciting?" She begins to behave very un-Hooch-like at this moment, Gwenog thinks with narrowed eyes, watching her coach fumble on her desk for the proper parchment and waving it frantically in the air, an alarming smile on her face. "The Harpies, Jones! They're very exclusive." She gives Gwenog a knowing look, passing the parchment over.
Gwenog takes it, snapping it out of Hooch's hand and reading quickly, her irritation mounting with each word that sweeps past her eyes. Finally, she thrusts the paper back into Hooch's hands and crosses her arms again. "No," she says.
Hooch stares at her. "What do you mean, no? It's a bit far from home, I know, but you'll be travelling so much that I'm sure it won't be hard to pop in with your family and–"
"I said, no," repeats Gwenog. "I'm not playing for the Harpies."
"Why not?" asks Hooch angrily, and Gwenog rises from her chair.
"Because I'm not a bird Beater, Coach. I'm just a Beater. You play for the Harpies? You're nothing but a bird."
Hooch pauses, eyes wide. "So?" she says at last, drawing the word out to mark her incredulity. "I've got news for you, Jones: you are a bird Beater, so you'd better get used to it. Besides, what's that you always say? Witches make better Quidditch players than wizards." She plants her hands on her hips.
"Well yeah, everyone knows that, Coach! Witches keep their eye on the Snitch, while wizards keep their eye on the witches. It's an easy one. But–"
"Then why not play for a team where everyone's got their eye on the Snitch?"
"It's not the same!" protests Gwenog. "It doesn't look right. It looks like I'm not good enough to play with the blokes, and that's bollocks, so why should I hide out with a team of birds?"
"Oh, for pete's sake, Jones. I've heard you say some stupid shit during your time here, but that just about does it."
Gwenog strides forward and grabs the Puddlemere letter off the desk. "I'm trying for United and that's it, all right?"
Without another word, she heads out the door and catches her train a few days later, leaving Hogwarts forever. She flies several hours a day at home, preparing for try-outs, and when the time comes, she's ready.
Transcript, the Wizarding Wireless Network's Quality Quidditch broadcast for Sunday, July 13, 1986: Chudley Cannons vs the Holyhead Harpies
John Oakley: And the Harpies have taken to the field! I'll tell you, Stuart, those girls are looking sharp today.
Stuart Chambers: Definitely here to play some Quidditch, and they are in fine form, John.
John Oakley: All right, here we go! Referee Colin O'Donough has released the Snitch, and we are off! Victoria Smythwyck of the Harpies is first after the Quaffle, and I'll tell you, Victoria's really one of the better ladies we've seen play this game.
Stuart Chambers: She really is, John. Plays straight from the heart; a lot of emotion right there.
John Oakley: Victoria's got the Quaffle now, and boy, is she on fire today! Straight up the pitch, and she's got her sight on the Cannons' Keeper, that's for sure.
Stuart Chambers: Oh-ho! She's a woman on a mission, John.
John Oakley: Sizing up the Keeper, Darren Fox, like he's an old boyfriend!
Stuart Chambers: [laughs] I sure wouldn't want to get on that girl's bad side! Look at her go.
John Oakley: Oh! And a Bludger from McMurray gets her right in the leg.
Stuart Chambers: Well, that wasn't too hard a hit, John, but look at Vickie, she's no use now, off circling the sidelines and rubbing at that knee.
John Oakley: She'll have to toughen up a bit more than that, Stuart, or the Harpies don't stand a chance out here against the Cannons.
Stuart Chambers: That's for sure, John. The Cannons have had their problems this season, but they've been looking stronger. The Harpies'll need to be careful. And Chudley's got some big blokes out there– Oh, here comes one of them, Jesper Conrad, wearing orange and black for Chudley, and– Look at him go!
John Oakley: He's been solid all season, Stu. I'm not surprised at this at all, how he's– Look, breaking right through the Harpies' defences –
Stuart Chambers: There's Ally McGuinty, the Harpies' star Beater, but she's– Yep, Conrad's flown right past her before she can even get her bat up there.
John Oakley: Not at the top of her game today, Stuart.
Stuart Chambers: No, sir. And you know, Ally's been a bit hit-and-miss all season, John.
John Oakley: Well, you know, she went through a divorce earlier this year, and she hasn't been quite the same –
Stuart Chambers: Right, yeah.
John Oakley: And of course, her husband is Randolph Finney, the Puddlemere Seeker who just signed with Heidelberg last month for a reported two million Galleons a year.
Stuart Chambers: Wow.
John Oakley: [laughs] I guess he's not pining too much over that break-up!
Stuart Chambers: No, indeed! [laughs]
John Oakley: Ally's really got to work on her upper body strength though, Stu. She's looking tired out there.
Stuart Chambers: Well, you know, Beater's a tough position, lots of –
John Oakley: Got to have the –
Stuart Chambers: Right, the big arms really help, and look at these blokes from Chudley, Knot McMurray and Joey Jenkins, now they can hit a Bludger!
John Oakley: Oh-ho! And look at that, Jenkins's aimed one straight at the Harpies' Seeker, and poor Betty, she doesn't seem to know what hit her!
Stuart Chambers: Oh, but Jenkins's in trouble now, here's Maggie Windermere with the Quaffle, moving up the left side, and –
John Oakley: Whoa!
Stuart Chambers: That girl's got a set of bollocks! Look at that – charges straight through the Chudley defensive line and –
John Oakley: She's shooting –
Stuart Chambers: No! Blocked by the Chudley Keeper! You know, he's really been making some brilliant –
John Oakley: It's in!
Stuart Chambers: Oh! Aha!
John Oakley: Maggie's slipped it in the side there! Not a pretty goal, but the Harpies'll take it.
Stuart Chambers: They sure will, John. I thought she'd missed it!
John Oakley: Well, it was a close one –
Stuart Chambers: The Harpies better be careful, relying on luck that way.
John Oakley: You said it, Stuart. They need all the points they can get out there.
Stuart Chambers: Let's take a break, John. That's the Harpies just barely in the lead here, ten to zero against the Chudley Cannons. You're listening to Quality Quidditch on the WWN.
Gwenog switches off the radio and storms over to her fireplace, tossing in a handful of Floo powder and ducking her head in. "Professor Hooch!" she hollers, eyes darting around Hooch's office.
"What is it, Jones?" barks Hooch, striding in from an adjacent room and fixing Gwenog with a surprised stare.
"You still got that try-out lined up with the Harpies?"
"Nope, cancelled it." Hooch folds her arms over her chest and narrows her eyes. "Thought you didn't want to play for a ladies team."
"Like hell I don't," says Gwenog, her jaw set. "Those slags are the best fucking players in the league, and they're the only ones who know it. Get me in there, Coach. If anyone's going to show those stupid bastards at the WWN what a woman can do on the pitch, it'll be me."
But now we've got ahead of ourselves, what with beginning as Gwenog left Hogwarts. Let's back up.
Gwenog Jones is thirteen years old the night the Dark Lord falls. Well, all right. She's supposed to say, He Who Must Not Be Named, or at least, that's what they've always told her to say in school. But her gran used to tell her that a wizard that powerful deserves some damn respect, and Dark Lord was more than appropriate, and why on earth was Gwenog in Slytherin if she didn't understand the power of that name? But gran could sod off, as far as Gwenog was concerned, because what did she know, anyway? She was old as shit and just about as scary. The one time Gwenog tried out the name on Professor Slughorn, he whirled on her so quickly she thought he might have left his moustache across the room.
"What did you say, Ms Jones?" he roared, and Gwenog took a step back.
"Nothing, sir," she said quickly. "Misspoke. The, uh, Gryffindors were saying it in Charms this morning."
Slughorn grumbled, yanking his trousers up and resting his fat fingers in the belt. "Were they, now?" He eyed her. "All right. Better have a chat with Minerva about that. Off you go, Ms Jones."
And that was the end of that.
In her third year, then, after Slughorn has left and the tall, fearsome man who looks like either a vampire or its bat arrives as their new Head of House, Gwenog does not use the name at all, not even when her classmates chatter incessantly about the war. She's not really sure why she's supposed to be so interested in it; there aren't any Death Eaters playing for Puddlemere United now, are there? She's got her mind on her own matters, and if the war must go on around her, she's not much bothered by it. Until, that is, He Who Must Not Be Named disappears, and suddenly the war comes to Gwenog's doorstep when her Head of House shows up in the Slytherin common room one night in early November, pale as a walking corpse, to announce that the school will be undergoing a few changes.
He tacks up a list of new rules, turns to glare at the gathered students so intently that some of the first-years begin to cry, and then he leaves without another word, his robe trailing obediently behind him as though afraid of reprimand if it did not. Gwenog sits with the others for a moment, darting curious looks around the room, before deciding that if no one else is going to sodding do it, she'll go read out the new rules.
"No leaving the castle alone for any reason," she begins when she reaches the notice board, even the older students cocking their heads and listening to her. "Students will be accompanied to the greenhouses and Care of Magical Creatures lessons by a teacher. No exceptions."
"Yeah, yeah," a voice calls out. "What about You-Know-Who, eh? Doesn't it say anything about what happened?"
"Oh, sure," another voice responds, laughing. "It's in the new school rules that You-Know-Who's gone to fucking France."
"Shut the fuck up! I'm just sayin', she should see if–"
But Gwenog isn't listening anymore. Her eyes are glued on Rule #4: All Quidditch matches and practices are hereby suspended until further notice. She stares at the ink staining the parchment with those words and suddenly feels more rage towards He Who Must Not Be Sodding Named than she ever has before. The next morning, she marches down to Professor Snape's office and knocks loudly.
She hears a sigh within. "Yes?" an angry voice calls, and she pushes the door back. He looks up at her expectantly from his desk. "Name?"
"Gwenog Jones, sir," she says, lifting her chin and trying to keep the tremble from her voice. His brow creases.
"Jones, Jones," he mutters, tapping his fingers on the desk, but her name must satisfy him eventually because he stops tapping after a moment and beckons her in. "What is it?"
"Sir, the Quidditch season has been cancelled," she begins.
He looks surprised for a moment, then shakes his head and picks up his quill, resuming his writing without looking at her. "Yes, Ms Jones. It has. If that is all–"
"But why, sir?"
He pauses, glancing up at her again. "There is a war on, Ms Jones. Perhaps you weren't aware?"
"The war's over, sir!" she cries. "Everyone says so. You can't cancel Quidditch!"
"The war is not over, Ms Jones," he snaps, rising from his chair and glowering at her. "No Slytherin should ever think otherwise. It is not safe to be outside the castle at this time, not even to play Quidditch."
Gwenog frowns, folding her arms over her chest and glaring petulantly. "All due respect, sir," she says, "but that's bollocks. I'm a Slytherin and a Quidditch player and I'm damn good at it, too! Never had any trouble, and besides, if there's trouble, I'm more than a fair flyer, so I'll just fly away from it."
He blinks at her, his mouth half open, and does not speak for several seconds. "Ms Jones," he says at last, "I frankly do not care about your Quidditch skills and do not have much faith in your alleged ability to avoid trouble, but if you indeed insist on being a Slytherin, you will watch your mouth around your Head of House." His voice rises with every word, until it is booming around the office by the time he finishes. "Do I make myself clear, or must I deduct points from my own House for this impertinence?"
She squares her jaw. "No, sir," she bites out, turning to the door. 'Thank you, sir."
She skips her first class and heads to the dormitory for her broom, then slips in behind a group on its way to Care of Magical Creatures and sneaks out of the castle. Ten minutes later, she's flying over the pitch with her bat in her right hand, practicing her backhand swing and enjoying the rush of wind against her face.
They don't catch her that time, nor the two times after that when she sneaks out to practice alone on the pitch, but the fourth time, when someone finally sees her, they confiscate her broom and give her detention for two weeks. But in her mind, Slytherin will still win the House Cup that year, because she is the only one willing to get out there and fly when the other Houses are too busy following rules and cowering in their dorms from the Dark Lord who, in Gwenog's opinion, can't really be too dark or powerful if he can't even catch a lone girl playing Quidditch on a couple of cloudy mornings at Hogwarts.
If, indeed, that was ever his plan to begin with – but Gwenog is quite sure that Professor Snape was wrong about that. He had a bug up his arse about that Dark Lord, no question, but she didn't really think it had much to do with the Quidditch.
"So, how was Slughorn's latest party?" Harry asked.
"Oh, it was quite fun, really," said Hermione. "He introduced us to Gwenog Jones. Personally, I thought she was a bit full of herself."
-- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, UK edition, pp 261-2.
Gwenog Jones is sipping a glass of punch and surveying the room, one hand around the glass and one planted firmly on her hip. She takes up a fair bit of space in a room that doesn't have much of it; she is broad to start with, and her pose isn't really helping, but she always enjoys coming back to Hogwarts and intimidating the kids like this with her celebrity.
"Gwenog, my girl!" Slughorn barrels up to her and embraces her in a sticky hug, pulling back to shake her shoulders and laugh deep from his belly. "Glad you could come, glad you could come."
She twists out of his grasp and smiles, knocking back a bit more punch and wishing she'd thought to bring a flask. "Not at all, Horace," she says. She's not sure she's ever forgiven him for retiring and leaving her House with Snape, but his Slug Club was always a bit of a laugh, and coming here tonight gets her out of an interview with that oily new sports reporter for the Prophet, so she can't be too bothered by it.
He gathers the students and postures among them, all belly laughs and moustache twirling and comradely slaps on the back. It's not unlike a Quidditch team, Gwenog reflects, although what this ragtag group has ever done together to earn such solidarity in this club is beyond her. Good old Slughorn: never did matter what you did, only who you did it with and whether or not you included him in it.
"And this here is Gwenog Jones," he announces, sweeping aside with an arm outstretched to give her centre stage amidst the students, and she has to hand it to them, a good majority of them have the sense to look impressed. "Captain of the Holyhead Harpies," he adds, grinning widely at her. "Go on, then. Ask her for an autograph! She's very famous."
The children approach her tentatively, bits of parchment outstretched and nervous smiles on their lips. She signs her name a few times, asking them what position they play and pretending to be interested in the answers, and when the crowd thins a bit, she notices a bushy-haired girl on the outskirts, looking as though she could care less about a Quidditch player.
"Go on, then," she calls, lifting a spare bit of parchment in her hand. "What's your name? Got an autograph for you to take home, pin up on the wall."
The girl turns and appraises her. "Hermione Granger," she says, adding, "Thank you, but I don't really follow professional Quidditch."
To Gwenog, the girl might as well have said she doesn't really follow the rise of the sun in the mornings, or the way air moves in and out of her nostrils every second. "What do you mean?" she asks, but quickly corrects herself. "Well, give it to your boyfriend, then, or offer it to the highest bidder when you get back to your dorm. It's worth quite a bit, that is." She scribbles her name on the page and hands it to the girl, who raises an eyebrow but politely takes it.
"Is it?" she asks, and Gwenog smiles, suddenly impressed with this girl's naiveté.
"You really don't know the Harpies?" she asks. "I thought all little girls dreamed of playing with us when they grow up."
"Well," Hermione clips, "I'm not a little girl, and I've got quite enough on my mind without worrying about Quidditch statistics."
"Oh, I see!" Gwenog grins, settling her thick arms across her chest and peering down at the girl. "What else have you got on your mind, then?"
Hermione bristles. "There's a war starting, in case you haven't noticed," she says, her voice hushed and her eyes darting from side to side. "I don't mean to be impolite, but the Quidditch season isn't really something the Wizarding world needs to be concerned with right now!"
"Ah," says Gwenog, nodding. "That's how it is then, eh? Well, Hermione Granger, I'm not sure there's a world worth fighting for that ain't got Quidditch in it." She winks. "Think of the world you're saving. What's it got?"
Hermione stares at her. "It's… got the Ministry," she stammers, "and… Hogwarts! Safe places for children to go to school, and…"
Gwenog leans forward, suddenly enjoying the party much more than she thought she would. "Got to fight for Quidditch," she repeats, laughing at the scandalised look on Hermione's face. "Listen. I've been playing for twenty-five years, and in that time I've seen You-Know-Who rise, and fall, and now maybe rise again." She lets out a low whistle. "I do what I can, see, if I need to fight, but here's the thing: until he comes for my broomstick, I'm going to keep on playing. And I'm all right with that." She gives the girl a firm nod, and then glances around for a new glass of punch.
Hermione Granger scurries away, brow furrowed, and Gwenog is fairly certain that the girl will never, in fact, end up fighting for Quidditch. Pity, that.
Gwenog Jones loves to fly.
It seems silly to belabour that point when one is speaking of a professional Quidditch player, but it is a point worth belabouring, in Gwenog's case. She can still remember taking off that first time from the pitch at Hogwarts, her too-long legs curling around the broom and her eyes widening in fear and exhilaration as she rose from the ground.
"Jones!" she remembers Hooch screaming as she took off. "Get down here this minute! Did I say you could start? JONES!"
But it wasn't any use, as Hooch would later realise. There's no stopping Gwenog when she puts her mind to something, and more often than not in her life, that something has involved a broomstick, a bat, and all the speed she can muster. Most people don't realise that Beater is really the toughest position out there. Sure, the Seekers have their time of it, and the Keepers, too, what with three hoops to mind, and the Chasers need decent aim, she'll give them that, but only the Beaters have to aim at moving targets. She makes this case to the Harpies coach early on in seeking the captaincy, but it's a few years before management relents and agrees with her, slapping the 'C' on her shoulder with a collective shake of their heads.
Sod the lot of them. She's a damn good player and she loves that team and that town more than anything, and if she isn't exactly the sport's most reliable public relations liaison, so be it. Advertisers are mostly arseholes anyway, and interviewers always want to talk about the only all-female professional Quidditch team, not about her own fucking talent, so it's really not her fault when she hexes their quills or refuses to show up for swimsuit shoots.
"Come on, Gwenog!" little Stacie Morgan whines when Gwenog announces she's not going to pose for any sodding calendar. "You're the captain! They'll put you on the cover, get us some money to expand the stadium, and it's good publicity! Why are you being such a slag about it?"
The thing about swimsuits, Gwenog has discovered, is that they just aren't made for Quidditch bodies. A Quidditch body is not just any body, and for women, the difference is even more pronounced. Quidditch bodies are all thigh and arse, see – try curling your legs up around a piece of wood in mid-air for hours at a time and see how your thighs and arse feel afterwards. For a Beater like Gwenog, there is also the issue of the biceps and triceps and any other manner of arm muscles that are not precisely the most feminine attributes, at least according to swimsuit fashion. But that's not really the problem. Hell, Gwenog would go out and play naked if required, so long as she got to play. But posing for a fucking swimsuit calendar doesn't have much to do with playing Quidditch, last time she checked, so Stacie Morgan can put herself on the damn cover for all Gwenog cares.
She wants to fly; it's really just that simple. She doesn't want any of the politics or the restrictions or advertising revenue. She'll give the interviews and do the photo shoots if it means more fans in the stadium, but that's it. She's one of the best damn Quidditch players in Europe, and yeah, she plays for an all-female team, so what? Any one of them would drive a Bludger through a man's bollocks and not think twice about it, so it doesn't even fucking matter if the team is all women or not. The team is just a team – a really good fucking team.
And Gwenog Jones is the captain. She's a Beater, a woman, a Slytherin, and she loves to fly – not necessarily in that order. She's not afraid of very much in this world, because she's never found very much to be afraid of. And yeah, for the record, she could kick your arse.
Anyone got a problem with that?