Title: Oliver Wood and Puddlemere United On Tour

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Original characters

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: JKR, Scholastic, WB, and the lot own the rights to Harry Potter and his friends. John, Alice, Shawn, and Wilson are mine.

Summary: Oliver Wood is on tour with his team and comes down with a cold while on the road.

Sneezefic Annual Challenge Bunny: 7

Notes: Though I might have been inspired to write this because of a few real WRockers, this is a fictional story about a completely fictional WRocker. All similarities to real people or real stage personas are not intended. The other groups mentioned in the story are completely real, however, and deserve your love and attention and respect.



Oliver Wood and Puddlemere United On Tour




            Oliver Wood strummed his guitar for a beautiful-sounding chord. “I want to thank ye all fer comin' out tonight,” he said to the crowd which numbered in just under a hundred. Everyone in attendance, mostly fangirls, cheered, clapped, and wooed.  “Since this is my last song of the night.” The cheers turned to disappointed awwwwws. “But we've had a blast here in San Francisco so far on my very first tour. After the concert I'll be over at the merch table with the rest o' my team.” He gestured over to the table to his right, house left, where t-shirts, buttons, and CDs were spread out. “So come over and say hey. My chaser, April, and my beater, Shawn, would be happy tae sell ye whatever ye like and I'll sign somethin' fer ye. Actually, I'd like to ask Shawn to join me on drums fer this one too. Aye?”


            Shawn raised his hands in sort of a 'well, all right, twist my arm' expression. He maneuvered past a large speaker and seated himself behind the drum set. It took him only a few seconds to get acclimated.


            “So… this is my last song. And I want tae make this the best last song ever. But I canna do it wi'out yer help. Can I count on ye?” There was an insane amount of cheers, and Oliver smiled. “Thought that might be the case. Puddlemere United's gaeing tae be about a hundred strong.”


            He strummed the guitar again and adjusted the clip at the top. “Okay, so for those of ye who dinna ken it, I'll teach ye the chorus right quick. This is a song about the happiest experience in my Quidditch career. Which—”


            Unprepared for the sudden cheer at the notice of what song was coming now, Oliver's eyes widened and took a step back in surprise at his words into the fuzzy microphone were actually drowned out. He laughed. “Sounds like ye know the chorus already. So I'll just start, shall I?” More applause confirmed his decision.


            He waited for the clapping to die down a little then began.


In my first year at Hogwarts,

I could only dream.

Of being a star keeper

On my house Quidditch team.


I practiced and practice,

In rain and in snow.

So I would be the very best

In hopes of getting… ohhhhhhh…


He held that note as half the crowd tried to go on early to the chorus with timing instinctually learned from the track on his very first CD. He added a few, teasing “Ohhh”s until laughter rang out everywhere in the room. Then he sped up his beat, tapping it out with his foot and broke into the chorus. Shawn, on the drums, was right with him, flawlessly.


Oh House Cup, House Cup,

So pretty and so old.

With two handles, a little plaque,

You're shiny and gold.


I'll do my best to win you,

I'll try and compete.

Until I bring you to Gryffindor

My life won't be complete.


            Everyone seemed to have been right with him on the chorus, which had been absolutely amazing. He paused slightly and then broke out into the second verse. The chorus seemed to get faster and faster each time he did it, as if he and the audience were competing against each other to see which would mess it up first. It was a race and Oliver was nothing if not competitive. Plus, this was his song. How would it look for Oliver Wood, star keeper, to mess it up?


            Oliver got all the way to the last chorus before he made a mistake. So used to the chorus he'd done six times already, he tripped up on a word in the very last bit.


Oh House Cup, House Cup,

So pretty and so old.

With two handles, a little plaque,

You're shiny and gold.


Now that I have won you

My life won't be complete—



            Everyone, including Oliver, laughed. He shook his head, took a deep breath, and tried again.


Oh House Cup, House Cup,

So pretty and so old.

With two handles, a little plaque,

You're shiny and gold.


Now that I have won you

My life is complete.

Seven years of struggle

And now I have my treat.


            He finished with a flourishing hand movement as he repeated the last two notes and Shawn crashed the symbols repeatedly behind him. The applause was tumultuous, almost as if he had just won the House Cup for real and the entire stadium were cheering for him. It was the most amazing high in the world to be doing something he loved, something he had so much fun at, and getting so many people to join in on that fun and enjoy themselves just as much. This road trip had been a dream for so long, just like the cup, and he was so thrilled to finally be making his way up the west coast.


            Oliver gulped down a quarter of a bottle of water, leaning against the wall to catch his breath.


            “Oy, Oliver!” Alice called over her shoulder. “Get your sharpie out and start signing.”


            “Yeah, Captain,” Shawn put in, “if you don't start we'll never make it out of here. Do you see this line?”


            Oliver laughed. He took a few more gulps of water. His throat was feeling raw from singing for an hour straight. But he took a deep breath and headed to the side of the table with the black marker in hand.


            Half the crowd was wearing Harry Potter paraphernalia of some sort. There were house robes and t-shirts from Hot Topic or fanmade on Café Press. There were costumes from the official WB store and others pieced together, though some of the homemade ones looked really great. There were even a few people already sporting some of his t-shirts. There was a brown Wood WRocks! shirt with a graphic of a Quidditch player riding a guitar instead of a broom. There was also a blue Honorary Member of Puddlemere United shirt featuring a team logo with crossed guitars where there should have been two crossed bulrushes, which J.K. Rowling had described in Quidditch Through the Ages. Alice had done the art for both shirts and Oliver thought they were amazing. But even more amazing was how so many people were showing up to buy them. People actually wanted to wear them!


            “Could you sign this?” asked one of the giggly fangirls, holding out a CD she had just purchased and torn the plastic wrappings off of.


            “Of course, love. What's your name?”


            “Tracy,” she said shyly.


            He nodded and scribbled a personalization, followed by his real signature and his stage name in parentheses. He handed it back and she left, giggling excitedly to show several of her friends.


            Next up was a woman with her daughter in tow. Her daughter looked a bit embarrassed to be there, despite the fact that she was wearing a matching Puddlemere United shirt. And when he asked who to make the inscription out to, the little girl rolled her eyes and pointed towards her beaming mother. He laughed and signed that CD as well.


            The majority of the crowd were girls, though there were a few guys in the mix, most of which seemed to have been dragged there by their girlfriends. The crowd had mostly dissipated when a man came up to him with a CD to sign.


            “Hey,” said the guy.


            “Hey,” Oliver replied, taking the CD and opening the case. “What's your name?”


            “Roger,” the guy replied. “What happened to your accent?”


            Oliver smiled. “I only use it on stage, when I'm in character. Otherwise I'm just plain, old John.”


            “Oh.” Roger looked rather disappointed. “So that's the only time you use it?” he asked leadingly.


            Oliver looked up from his signing and looked into the man's eyes. “I have been known to be persuaded otherwise.”






            “So,” said Shawn, throwing the last duffle bag into the back of the SUV. He smiled, his cheeks plump and ruddy on his round face, offset by his dark hair and flashing eyes. By most people's definitions, especially most of the fangirls', Shawn Tuckerman wasn't nearly as hot as John Kassemi, but his girlfriend, Alice Rivers, didn't seem to think so.


            “So what?” she asked, digging the keys out of Shawn's pocket while kissing his cheek.


            “So after two days it's goodbye San Francisco. Did we have fun here?”


            John left the motel, tucking his wallet and the folded up room receipt into his back pocket. He had snagged a plain donut from the free continental buffet on the way out and swallowed his penultimate mouthful. “Fun doesn't begin to describe it,” he said, grinning. He ate his last bite then turned to his friends. “And I know you two had fun because I heard you last night. In the other bed. When I was trying to sleep.”


            Shawn and Alice both wore the same guilty expression. “We thought you were asleep,” Alice said. “I'm so sorry.”


            John shook his head dismissively. “Look, the only way that this tour is going to work is if we're comfortable with each other.”


            Shawn poked his girlfriend in the side. “Did you hear that?”


            “Mmm.” She agreed. Her blue eyes twinkled against her pale white face. “Loud and clear. Next time we make sure he's asleep before we have sex.”


            John laughed. “Just for that, I'm calling shotgun.”


            “Hey! No fair!” Shawn exclaimed. They locked eyes for one brief moment then both men raced for the front, passenger side door. John made it there first, fair and square, hand on the handle. Shawn grunted in defeat, resigning himself to the backseat for the next leg of the trip.


            “Goodbye San Francisco,” Shawn said. He climbed into the back.


            John buckled up as Alice slid behind the wheel. He looked out the window as they left the city, remembering the fun and excitement and the people he'd met. Suddenly he wanted to stay. They could manage to squeeze in another show somewhere. San Francisco was huge; there had to be at least one other club or library that would have them, even on short notice. Maybe someone's basement, even. Or maybe…


            Shawn finished, “And hello road to Seattle!”


            John smiled and nodded, determined to make Seattle as much fun as San Francisco had been. They put in the Ministry of Magic's new CD, which was a great way to get pumped up for travel in the morning, but John found himself tuning out. He got out his cell phone and posted a tweet to his Twitter page via text message.


            San Fran was amazing. Ye WRock! Heading north now for a show tomorrow night in Seattle.


            Then he flipped his phone closed. He sat, trying to enjoy the great music, but just couldn't get worked up. After a while, John pressed his forehead to the cool window and closed his eyes. The motion of the car was soothing and for just a second, he thought about declaring that he was going to take a nap.


            But then, “You okay, John?”


            He looked over his shoulder to the back seat and shook his head towards Shawn. He cleared his throat and realized he still couldn't talk. He coughed and cleared his throat again. “No, actually, I'm feeling kind of run down.”


            Shawn leaned forward and patted John's upper arm. “Take a nap.”


            John smiled. “Just what I was about to do.” He looked to his right. “Is that okay with you, Alice?”


            She saluted. “Yes, Sir, Captain, Sir.” She gestured towards the GPS suctioncupped to the inside of the Element's windshield. “Harry's got us all taken care of.”


            “He always does,” said John. Then, crossing his arms over his chest, he hunkered down in the passenger seat and fell asleep.




            He slipped in and out of sleep, vaguely aware of Harry telling them to take one exit and go onto a different interstate highway. I-80 to I-505 or something like that. John thought about waking up long enough to figure out where they were, but his head was fuzzy and his nose was ticklish. He raised his arm a little and pressed his nose into the crook. “ahShfffff!


            “Bless you,” said Alice. “You need a Kleenex?”


            John tried to open his eyes but he just couldn't. The concert last night had been all sorts of awesome. He'd played his heart out and the after party had gone on until well after midnight. John had managed about four hours of sleep before they had to pack it up and get back on the road to get to their next tour date on time. And they needed to drive until pretty late. A few more hours napping wouldn't hurt anything. He shook his head and fell back to sleep.






            John felt the car's movement change and he opened his eyes. They were pulling off at another exit and John noticed the fuel gage in the dashboard which showed they only had about an eighth of a tank of gas left. He coughed and rubbed his nose with his sleeve cuff.


            “Hey there, sleepyhead.” Alice glanced over at him, smiling. “We're stopping for gas. You want anything convenient from the convenient store?”


            John tried to speak but it came out as a croak. He coughed and cleared his throat repeatedly until his voice was clear again. “The usual,” he said. “And… maybe cough droh… droh… need-to-sneeze drops? AhKtchoo! Sniff!


            “Gosh, Captain,” said Shawn concernedly from the back seat. He put his hands on both the seats in front of him and used those as leverage to pull himself forward a little more. “Are you getting sick? Cause, I gotta say, it's not really a good time for that.”


            “It's not canon, either,” said John. “Oliver Wood never got sick before a big game, did he?” He coughed again and swallowed just to test things. Pain raced through his throat. “Aw, damnit!” He sniffed into his sleeve. “I think I am. I'm going to turn into a baby pretty soon. And not like that Death Eater in book five.”


            “You become a big baby when you're sick?” asked Alice.


            “The biggest,” he replied. There was a brief pause and then, “Was I dreaming it or did you say something about Kleenex earlier?”


            After a quick search about, a small box was located in one of the compartments in the back. Shawn passed it up and John took two to begin with. “I hate being sick,” Shawn said sympathetically, as if anyone ever actually liked feeling ill.


            John stayed in the car when they got to the gas station. Alice pumped the gas while Shawn went in to buy the goodies. John was just about on his way towards falling asleep again when the other car door opened. The outside air seemed cooler for some reason. Wasn't California always supposed to be warm? They couldn't possibly be in Oregon already, could they?


            It was John's turn to drive, but Shawn took the wheel without discussion or argument, which was odd since Shawn didn't particularly like driving. He was always last in their rotation so that some days he drove less than everyone else. And when Shawn asked Harry the GPS to seek out their destination from their current location, John saw they were definitely still in California.


            “Here you go,” said Alice, hovering outside the car with a bag of stuff. Shawn was already sipping his Mountain Dew and had apparently handed the purchases off to Alice. She now handed John a bottle of root beer, a jelly donut, and a bag of Halls cough drops.


            “Thanks,” John said, eyeing the donut. “Jelly?”


            “It's coming up on lunch time. They've run out of most off of the breakfast foods,” she explained. “If you want something else…”


            John shook his head. “No, this is f-fine.” Then he quickly turned his head and raised his arm to cover his face. “ah-Ihshuhhh! Sniff! Excuse me.” He sniffed a few times and rubbed at his nose. “I wish this would quit tickling.”


            “Well, that's why we also got you…” and out of the bag she pulled a large tissue box. “Would you be more comfortable in the back?” she asked. “You could spread out and stretch out.”


            A few minutes later, John was settled in one of the back seats with a pillow, a proper tissue box, and his snacks. After eating the donut, getting through half the root beer, and using a handful of tissues, John fell drifted back off to sleep.




            He woke to a stuffy head and a headache. He moaned, pressing the butt of his hand against his forehead. The pop song playing on the radio was some light and bouncy Britney Spears crap that irritated John. Plus it was so much louder than it needed to be. “Turn that racket off,” he pleaded. They turned it down.


            “Well look who's up,” said Shawn. “Feeling bright and chipper, are we?”


            “Shut up,” said John, and he cleared his throat. Then, “I'm hungry.”


            “Alice and I were just talking about lunch. We're getting hungry, too. Harry says there's a Denny's a couple exits away. You game for that?”


            Breakfast was one of John's soft spots. He could not possibly turn that down and neither could his stomach. “Hell yes.” They usually didn't seek out specific places to eat; they typically just pulled over when they got hungry and looked for the best place nearby. Had they just gotten lucky with a Denny's or had they looked up that one just because they wanted to find somewhere John would be happy? Either way, his stomach was rumbling hungrily at the idea of eggs, bacon, and French toast.


            And his head didn't hurt quite so much now, for some reason. John blew his nose and cleared his throat, wanting to make it through lunch without an embarrassing incident.


            Denny's seemed cold inside, and John was glad he'd brought a sweater. He was comfortable in his tan corduroys, long-sleeved shirt, and sweater. It was the perfect traveling outfit because it did not wrinkle. They were seated immediately, without having to wait for a table, and put in their drink orders. John wanted an iced tea but they talked him into getting a hot tea, though they didn't have to push very hard.


            “So I figure about three more hours of driving tonight,” Alice said. “We can turn in for the night somewhere in Oregon and get a good rest. Then we'll leave in the morning and get to Seattle in the afternoon. That'll give us plenty of time to meet up with Wilson and set up the equipment in the library. Sound good?”


            “Sounds great,” John agreed.


            Shawn buried his face behind his menu, which was stupid since he didn't need to read the menu; he always got the burger.


            John cleared his throat and kicked Shawn under the table. “If you've got something to say, just say it.”


            Shawn put down the menu. “I don't think you should perform tomorrow if you're sick.”


            Alice sighed. “Sorry, John. We've been arguing about this for the past hour. I told him it wasn't his decision but he won't let it go.”


            “Why should I?” asked Shawn, abrasively. “I'm part of this team, too. He simply can't sing if he's sick.”


            Alice argued, “It's just a little cold. Broadway stars go on stage and perform with the flu and fevers of one hundred and four.”


            “Yeah, but they have understudies. Oliver's just got himself.”


            “All the more reason for him to go on.”


            “To kill himself for a free concert?”


            “Oh, what, you're just in it for the money?”


            “Where do you get off saying that? I'm saying what I'm saying for John's health.”


            “You act like he's dying. It's just a cold.”


            “How do you know that? You're not a doctor.”


            “Neither are you.”


            “I don't have to be in order to know what's best for him.”


            “Are you saying I don't? How long have we been planning this tour? He wants to be here.”


            “I'll put that on his tombstone.”


            “hhhhh-Shffffff!” John sneezed quietly into a tissue. He rubbed it at his nose and sniffed. “Would the two of you please quit fighting?” he pleaded. “I'm not worth it.”


            Alice looked at him sympathetically. “How can you say that? You're Oliver Wood. And… bless you, by the way.”


            John took a deep breath and smiled. “Alice, hand me your phone.”




            He held his hand out with insistence until she handed it over. John went through her address book, working his way back from the end to the beginning until he found Wilson's entry. He pressed the button to call and lifted it to his ear. It rang several times before the man answered.


            “It's, ah, Oliver calling, actually. Hey. I just wanted to let you know I'm a little under the weather. No, no, there's no cause for alarm. I just wanted to let you know what's happening. I won't be one hundred percent by tomorrow night but there's no need to cancel the concert if you don't mind.” John paused, listening. “Thanks so much for understanding, man. I'll see you tomorrow.” Another pause. “Okay, great. Will do.” He turned off the phone and handed it back. “We'll see how I feel tomorrow. No need to worry until then. So I don't want to hear a word about it from you two. Got it?”


            Both Alice and Shawn nodded.


            “Good,” said John. “Now I'm going to duck out to the bathroom because I feel another sneeze coming on.” He pinched his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “If the waitress comes while I'm gone, I want the grand slam with hash browns and toast.”


            When he got back from the bathroom, sniffling into a fresh tissue, he found that Alice and Shawn had made up. They sat there in the booth, snogging.






            “But you just ate.”


            John glared at Alice playfully. “Sweetie, it's a Dunkin Donuts. Since when have you known me to pass up one of those? Besides… I'm sick. And I want a donut.”


            “Okay, okay.” They pulled out of the Denny's parking lot and drove just half a minute down and across the street to a different shopping center.


            John went in with Alice and Shawn in tow. This Wizard Rocker in a donut store was worse than a kid in a candy store. He perused the selection in the display case, unable to figure out which he wanted.


            “Can I help you?” asked the man behind the counter.


            John shook his head. “Just give me a second. I'm trying to make up…” He looked up and found his speech suddenly gone. The man standing there, in apron, was gorgeous. He had dazzling eyes and a killer smile with a dimple in his right cheek.


            “His mind,” Alice finished for him. “Don't mind John. He's harmless, just indecisive when it comes to donuts.”


            The man behind the counter smiled his killer smile again. “I know how that can be.” He held up one finger to signal them to wait. Then, with tongs, he pulled out an over-sized donut with white icing. “It's got chocolate sprinkles baked into it. I highly recommend it. It's my favorite new donut here. Just started making them last week and only a few places in the country have the recipe at the moment.”


            “I'll take one,” John said in a knee jerk reaction. Then, a bit more shyly, “Thanks.”


            “Sure,” the guy said, placing one in a bag. “Anything else?” He looked from John to Alice and back again.


            It was then that John realized Shawn wasn't there. The shop was not so large that the man could go missing, but John walked to the door and glanced out anyway.


            “That's all we need,” said Alice. Then she walked over to John and said quietly, “He popped next door. We'll meet him at the car. C'mon. Pay the nice gay boy for your donut, try to flirt without sneezing on him, and we'll get going.”


            John's cheeks flushed red but he dug his wallet out and walked back to the counter. He paid and took the donut. He wished he weren't just passing through. He wished he weren't sick. He wished Alice weren't standing there, staring at him. She motioned for him to say something more, but John didn't know what to say. Besides, it was easy for her; she already had a guy.


            Wondering whether or not he should play the pity card or blame the whole thing on his meddlesome fag hag, his nose started tickling. John pressed his wrist to his nose, hoping to push it away before he “heshuh!


            “Bless you!” The man behind the counter immediately passed a Dunkin Donut napkin to him.


            John turned and wiped his nose, then turned back to see the man holding out another napkin. “No, I'm fine, thanks.”


            “Take it… take it,” said the man behind the counter. And for a second, John thought maybe it was a clever Harry Potter book seven reference. Then he remembered they'd been listening to the Ministry of Magic all morning. Still he took the napkin and noticed a name and phone number scribbled on it.




            “Presents for all!” Shawn declared, once they were back in the car. He was in the passenger seat now and Alice was once again set to drive. He pulled several water bottles out of the bag and handed one to John along with some Dayquil pills. “You need some of these right now.” Then he took out a small pack of Airborne. “And this is for us, Alice. So we don't catch whatever in the world he's got.”


            “That's all we need: three sick teammates. Gimmie.”


            John laughed and swallowed a capsule of cold medicine with a gulp of water. He didn't want his friends to catch this, and being stuck with him in a car every day would surely increase the possibility.


            John propped his pillow up against the back of the seat and the window. His head sunk into it and he closed his eyes.


            “You're not going to eat your donut?” Alice asked.


            John shook his head. “Not yet. I'll hold onto it for a little while.”


            Alice smirked. “Someone's got a little crush. You going to tweet about it?”


            With a sigh, “How many openly gay Wizard Rockers do you know, Alice?”


            “Someone's got to be the first.”


            John nodded. “It's not going to be me. And even if it were, it's not going to be me today. Even buzzed on cold medicine you're not going to get me to post about that.” He coughed and took another swig of water. “But nice try.” He coughed again immediately felt like sneezing. He groaned and got a tissue. “hehh-Chshh!” One wasn't enough this time, however. “Chishhh! Ketchhh!” He sucked in another breath, waiting and hoping. When no sneeze came, he exhaled.


            “Get some rest, Captain. You want to listen to anything?”


            After thinking it over a moment, “The Moaning Myrtles?”


            Alice gave a laugh. “Requests the man with the serious crush.”







            John woke, feeling uncomfortable. His neck was stiff. His head throbbed. His throat was dry and sore. His nose was full and drippy. “hehSHIHH!” He covered his nose with his hand for a second, strong “hah-Chishhhhh!” He pried his eyes open and groped about for the tissue box. It had fallen to the floor on the other side of the car and had slid under the seat. John would have asked Shawn for help, but the other man was passed out asleep in the front seat, snoring lightly like he always did.


            So John had no choice but to get the tissues himself. John was careful not to squish his donut as he lunged for them. They were just beyond his reach. “I'b udbuglig,” he announced to the car. “Dod't ged idto ad accidedt.”


            “I'll do my best,” Alice promised.


            John unbuckled his seatbelt, grabbed the tissue box, and then quickly buckled up again. At the click, he said, “All clear.”


            “Great. I can get into an accident now?”


            John blew his nose thoroughly several times, then several times more. He used the empty plastic bag from the drug store as a trash bag. And he celebrated getting his nose in check by devouring his donut. The guy at the Dunkin Donuts had been right; it was spectacular.


            John dug the napkin out of his pocket. Gregory. Nice name. He took his cell phone out and thought about it for a while. He typed in the phone number and stared at it some more until his screen went dark. Then he hit a button to wake the phone back up. For a second, he was scared he had accidentally made the phone dial. But it was still waiting for him to save the number or call it; he chose to save it. Under Gregory-DD.


            After glancing up at the front seat, reluctantly he whipped off another Twitter message:


            Alice thinks I have a new crush. I'm not convinced. I do, however, have a bit of a head cold.


            He hit send then suddenly regretted it. His thumbs moved quickly as he spelled out another tweet:


            The Seattle show is still on, have no fear. I wouldn't dream of letting you all down!


            He closed his phone then turned it off, not wanting to be disturbed. “Hey, Alice?”


            Alice had been listening to some public radio station. She turned it down and looked into the rearview mirror at his reflection. “Yeah, Captain?”


            “Can we make a pit stop somewhere soon?”


            “First rest stop we come to. If you need a bathroom sooner, just let me know and we'll hit a McDonalds.”


            “Thanks. I'm sure I can wait.”


            Shawn gave an especially funny-sounding snore, which made them both laugh a little.


            “He's not getting sick, is he?” John asked.


            Alice looked over at him. “I don't think so.” Shawn snored again. “Nope. He always sounds this irritating.”


            “But you still love him?”


            Alice did not answer right away. She checked the road and then glanced back at Shawn. A small smile appeared on her face. “Yes. I do.”


            “That's really sweet. I'm really glad you two have each other.”


            They drove in near silence for a while. John couldn't quite hear what was on the radio, but he could hear some of the harsher word sounds like a hissing S or an abrasive T. It was somewhat annoying to not be able to hear something that was playing. So he was glad when Alice said, “You're going to find someone some day, John. If not donut boy, then someone else. There's plenty of room in the car and on the team.”


            “Alice? If I weren't sick I'd come up there and kiss you for that.”


            “Hands off. She's mine,” Shawn mumbled sleepily.


            Alice reached over and stroked Shawn's cheek. “How long have you been awake?”


            “Since you woke me up laughing at my snoring. Thanks ever so much.” Pulling at his seatbelt, he leaned over and kissed his girlfriend's cheek. “But I still love you, too.”


            “Aww. Honey,” Alice sounded sugary sweet. Pretty soon they were going to start kissing again and John didn't want a repeat of last night.


            “Hey, guys, cut it out. I'm already sick here. I don't need to be sick to my stomach, too.”


            “Sorry,” said Shawn. He turned in his seat, looking over the back of his seat. “So how're you feeling?”


            John shrugged. “I… I-hah-hahChihh! Sniff! I'll be better once we get to a rest stop.”


            “That's it,” Alice declared. “I'm pulling off at the next exit. I could use a coffee anyway. I'm getting a little tired.”


            John knew that was an innocent enough comment but he still felt guilty. She wouldn't be so tired driving if he had taken his turn behind the wheel. It wasn't fair to make her drive so much more than usual. And it wasn't fair to make Shawn drive more either, especially when he hated driving.




            “Just what do you think you're doing?” Alice asked upon emerging from the fast food place to find John leaning against the driver's side door.


            John tried to look casual. And he tried not to sneeze or even sniffle. “My turn.”


            “You must be joking,” said Shawn. “Do you think we want you to sneeze and crash us into a semi? Besides, you need your rest.”


            “I'm the Captain here, right? And I want to help out by driving.” They stared at him. “Please?” They kept staring.


            Finally, Alice sighed. She walked around the car and got in the passenger side.


            “That's more like it,” said John, nodding… until Alice slid across and into the driver's seat. She buckled up and stuck the keys in the ignition. “Alice?”


            She switched Harry the GPS back on and had him resume their driving plan. Then, with an innocent little shrug, she gestured over her shoulder. “Get in, Captain. Or we won't give you the donut we picked up for you.”







            “Captain?” John felt himself getting nudged and poked. “Wake up, John.” But John didn't feel like waking up. His whole body hurt with an ache that felt like it would get worse if he moved even a smidgen. “There's a fresh donut in it for you, if you wake up.” John considered this, but he wasn't hungry and even his sweet tooth was overpowered by his fatigue. There was a Whomping Willows CD playing now, and even the upbeat rock songs could not get John in the mood to get up.  “Captain, we're almost in Oregon and we need you.”


            John exhaled loudly in frustration through his mouth, completely unable by now to breathe through his nose. He pulled his eyes open to see Shawn smiling at him over the front seat.


            “Oregon in about thirty seconds,” he said excitedly.


            John sort of nodded and blinked at the same time, hoping that Shawn knew that meant 'Okay, I understand.” He felt like closing his eyes again, but fought to keep them open. He moved his pillow slightly so that he could see out of the window at least partially. John kept his eyes trained on the side of the road, waiting.


            “Here it comes!” Alice announced. “Get ready in five… four… three… two… one!”


            The three of them broke out in a simultaneous yell, “HELLO OREGON!” followed by laughter.


            John discovered that the yell had been a bad idea. The volume had hurt his head, but the shout itself had hurt his throat. He coughed uncontrollably, his whole body shaking. The spasms were so sharp that the seatbelt locked against his body, not giving as his body pressed against it. He hugged his pillow, grimacing at the pain in his throat. After considering taking another cough drop, he decided the tradeoff of having to move was not worth it. He closed his eyes, whimpered, and tried to make himself go back to sleep.


            In the front seat, his teammates were whispering. “He sounds worse, doesn't he?”


            “He definitely looks worse.” Then, Shawn's voice grew louder. “You hanging in there, Captain?”


            John could not answer him. Not only was his throat on fire so talking would be beyond painful and send him into another coughing fit, but he did not actually know what answer to give. He was holding on, sure. Apart from throwing himself from the car, he didn't have much of a choice but to sit there and ride this out. However, he felt so awful at the moment he thought just passing out would be an improvement at this point, which was a very bad sign.


            He breathed out harder than usual, wishing a yes or no sound might come with it as an answer. Instead, it was the last breath he took before he fell back to sleep.




            John hugged his arms around his middle and gritted his teeth, which had been chattering nonstop. He closed his eyes but a fierce shiver went through him, forcing him to stay awake. “Would subody turd the heat ub?”


            He took another tissue and blew his nose, which had begun running from the cold of the car.


            “Sure thing,” Alice said.


            John waited for the heat to get back to him so he would feel warmer. But he waited and waited and still felt just as cold. He seemed to be waiting for ages with no improvement. He opened his eyes, squinting at the brightness. “I'b still cold. Cad you turd it ub just a little bore? Sniff! Blease?”


            “Okay,” Alice said a bit hesitantly. He watched her fiddle with the controls and he actually heard the increase of air from the heater.


            John sighed in relief, glad that this time he would feel some improvement in the temperature. It was stupid to keep it so cold in the car all the time. He waited. And waited. And waited. And still nothing. In fact, he shivered again more violently.


            Feeling utterly miserable and freezing at the same time, he whimpered, “Guys, I'b freezig bag here. Cad you turd ub the heat?” The last part sounded as though he were about to burst into tears.


            He saw his teammates exchange looks. “The heater is on as high and as hot as it'll go,” said Shawn.


            John sat up, his arms still held close to his body. “Thed how cad I be so co… co… heh-Shoo! Snurffffff! cold still?” The second after he had asked, he thought of the answer. He moaned. “I'b ruddig a fever. Sniff! Guys? I thig I have a fever.”


            He did not get the reaction he had hoped for. John had thought there would be panic or arguments about him playing tomorrow night or, at the least, overwhelming concern regarding this latest development. Instead, the two in the front seat were quiet.


            John coughed. “I'b serious.”


            “You're Oliver, actually,” Shawn joked. “Sirius Black's a different WRocker altogether.”


            Irritated and worried and absolutely not in the mood for a joke, John sniffed and tried again. “I feel soooo biserable add feverish. Really. Alice, go ahead add feel by forehead.”


            “I can't feel your forehead right now, Sweetie, I'm driving the car.”


            John whimpered. “Shawd?”


            There was an almost silent, soft sigh after which Alice said, “Shawn, Honey, feel his forehead for fever.”


            Shawn turned in his seat and extended his hand. He couldn't quite reach. Shawn unbuckled and turned, kneeling on his seat. “Sit up so I can get to you, Captain.”


            John whimpered again and leaned forward.


            Shawn touched the back of his hand to John's forehead. He held it there for a few seconds then pressed his hand to his own forehead. He looked confused and tried Alice's head and cheeks. Stretching his arms out, he managed to touch both Alice's and John's heads at the same time. He went on to feel John's cheek and neck, and then shook his head. “I don't think you're running a fever.”


            John sniffed and pulled away. “What do you know?” He rubbed his hands up and down his upper arms. “I dod't feel good. Add I'b cold.” Except that he was feeling warmer now. Rather enraged at his friends, but warmer. He wondered if one had something to do with the other.


            Shawn pulled away, disappearing into the front seat, returning with his coat. “Here. Cover up with this.” He held the coat out, waiting for John to take it. But John felt that he would start really shivering again if he moved his arms. He whimpered, trying to explain. Shawn just sighed. “Okay, Captain. You win.” He exchanged a look with Alice, and then tossed the coat into the back. With both hands free, Shawn maneuvered and squeezed himself over the armrests, between the two front seats, into the back. He very nearly kicked the dashboard and Alice in the process, and his sneaker shoelace caught on a drink holder until Alice freed him. But finally Shawn ended up in the back, with his face pressed into the empty seat until he unfolded and righted his body.


            Then the man picked the coat up again and put it over John. He tucked the sides around John then rubbed the man's arm. “Just give that a second and then you should start feeling warmer.”


            It didn't take even a second, though John didn't say so. As Shawn sat down in the other back seat and buckled in, John felt warmth spreading through him. He shivered again, but it wasn't the same chilling, lasting sort of shiver that went right through him. It was a lighter, tiny shiver, the effects of which disappeared amidst the warmth he was now surrounded by.


            “Better?” Shawn asked.


            John nodded.




            They drove in silence for a little while, though John kept sniffling. He needed to blow his nose but there was absolutely no way he was going to take his arms out from beneath the jacket that had been laid over him in order to get to the tissues. So he just sniffed harder when his nose tried to run.


            Watching the road ahead made John sleepy. He glanced over at his pillow, but it had fallen out of place and, again, John would not risk making a grab for it. So he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep while sitting up. Several times he woke back up with a jolt when his chin hit his chest, head bobbing. The motion made his head and neck throb. And once he woke back up, finding that he had fallen to the side, right against Shawn.


            “So sorry,” he whimpered, sitting back up straight.


            Shawn shook his head. “It's okay. Really. If you want… I couldn't care less if you need to lean on me. And it's not like I'm going anywhere.”


            John hesitated for a moment and then sighed. “Yeah? Thags.” He leaned to the side and found a comfortable way to lean against Shawn's warm body, his head angled and against Shawn's. John closed his eyes and immediately fell asleep.






            Alice parked the car right in front of their motel room, so they would not need to walk far. She had already checked in at the main office to leave a credit card. And now it was time for them all to go. Alice opened up the side doors. “Hey boys. We're at the motel.”


            John squinted and then closed his eyes again. “Dod't wadt to go id.” He snuggled back against Shawn, only vaguely aware of Alice chuckling.


            Shawn patted the top of John's head. “It's going to get pretty cold here in the car. Wouldn't you rather go inside the room?”


            John shook his head. “I'b fide right here, thags.”


            This time, it was Shawn who chuckled. “That's great. But, here's the thing, my arm's been numb for the past thirty miles. I've lost all feeling in my fingers. I promise I'll get you a donut if you go in.”


            Shaking his head again, “I'b dot a dog. You cad't just dadgle a dodut id frodt of be add expegt be to—”


            “It comes with sprinkles, a warm bed, and first crack at the television remote,” Alice promised.


            John opened one eye and looked at her. “Sbridkles?”


            Alice held out both hands. John unbuckled his seatbelt, handed Shawn's jacket back to him, and took hold of Alice's hands. She led him to the motel room, pausing to swipe the keycard, and then deposited him on the first bed. John lay down on his side, curling up with his tissue box and nuzzling into the pillow.


            “Want to get under the covers?”


            John shook his head. “This is heaved, right here. Hehhhhh…” He held a tissue up to his face. “hug-IHShhhhhhh! Sniffffff!” He took a deep breath and blew his nose, sounding clearer afterwards though not really feeling it. “Minus the sneezing, of course.”


            Alice put her hand on John's forehead, not so much feeling for fever as rubbing in a comforting way. Then she vanished. John had his back to the door, which was propped open, letting in cool air. He heard his friends and teammates bringing in the equipment and then the suitcases. John considered changing into pajamas, but there was no way he was getting up for anything less than a box full of donuts. He didn't even care that Alice and Shawn had lied to him about the sprinkles.




            John had just decided on watching a Seinfeld rerun when Alice and Shawn returned. “Tonight, Puddlemere United dines on the best Chinese takeout that Salem, Oregon has to offer. Or at least the closest. Dig in, boys.”


            She unpacked a dozen small, white takeout containers, spreading them around the table. Along with that were packets of soy sauce and duck sauce, as well as a handful of fortune cookies. “Captain, are you going to come have a bite?”


            John shrugged. “I don't feel so hungry.”


            Shawn cleared his throat. “I don't think that you heard my girlfriend clearly. She said, 'Captain, you are going to come have a bite.'” Under the table, Shawn lifted his leg and pushed out one of the chairs, making it slide back like magic. “Now.”


            Reluctantly, John sat up. His head throbbed and his stuffy nose seemed to clear for a second then stuff up immediately after. He blew his nose, grabbed his tissue box, and trudged over to the table. Alice was already preparing him a plate, spooning out a bit of almost everything onto his Styrofoam plate. “I can't eat all that,” he said softly.


            “You don't have to,” she said, placing it in front of him and handing him a plastic fork and napkin wrapped in plastic. “Just eat what you feel like and don't sneeze on the rest of it.”


            “On my honor as a Quidditch Keeper.” He ripped open the packet and got out the fork. The more he looked at the food, the more appetizing it looked. Maybe his teammates had a good idea this time.


            “So, any changes to the set list for tomorrow night?” Shawn asked. “And by that I obviously mean to ask if you're planning on actually singing anything at all.”


            John laughed. “Nice try, but I'm not deciding that tonight. I…” His face fell and breath caught. “I-I… have to sn-sneeze.” He quickly jumped up, turned, and burried his nose in a bunch of tissues. The tissue box, which had been on his lap, tumbled onto the floor but he didn't go back for it. “hehshoo! Heh-EHShoo! KShoo!” He wiped his nose dry and closed his eyes.


            “Captain? You okay?”


            John nodded. “Ode bore… s-sorry-ehhh-Hershhhhhh!” He blew his nose. “Excuse me. Sorry.”


            When he sat back down, he apologized again. “Don't be stupid,” said Alice. “I think we're a little past that point now, don't you?”


            Shrugging, “I feel awful about getting sick and dragging you all into this with me. You have to listen to me sniff, sniff all the time. And what's the point of being on tour if I can't actually perform?” He sighed quite heavily. “I've really made a mess of this, haven't I?”


            Shawn rolled his eyes. “I thought we weren't supposed to talk about this mess until we decided if it were a mess or not. Right now all it is is a couple of sniffles. Turn up the volume on the television and I won't even notice.”


            “You may feel differently tonight when you're trying to sleep and I can't stop sneezing.”


            Alice shook her head. “We got you some Nyquil. It'll knock you right out until the morning.” She plucked a dumpling from a container and nodded towards John's plate. “Now eat your beef and broccoli.”






            A whole series of overpowering coughs seized John, and he was too busy pressing his sleeve against his mouth to get anything that might stop it. He needed a cool drink of water. He needed to blow his nose. He needed to get a cough drop. But, more importantly, he needed to cover his mouth so he would not wake his teammates. All he could do was lie there and wait for the coughing fit to pass entirely.


            In time, the coughs did die down. By then, his nose and eyes were streaming and he buried his whole face in tissues as he dragged himself to the bathroom to clean up. With the fan whirring and shower running, he did not have to worry about being perfectly quiet if a sudden sneeze crept up on him. So he set up camp on the floor of the bathroom with a stack of motel pillows, a couple blankets, and the now half-depleted tissue box. In grey sweats and two pairs of socks, John curled up on the bathroom floor for the night.


            All the sleeping in the car had clearly done a number on his sleep cycle, because he was not the least bit tired now, though his head was a horribly fuzzy from the Nyquil.


            “hehShooo!” The only drawbacks to this arrangement were that the floor was not as comfortable as a mattress and running water was not as entertaining as a television set. “ehhh-Shihhh! K'shhhh!


            John whimpered to himself, feeling miserable and lonely. He had his phone with him, but no one he knew would be up. So he quickly fired off a tweet. In the vastness of the internet, someone was bound to come join in on his pity party.


            Middle of the night. Can't sleep. Can't stop sneezing. Hiding out in the bathroom. Feeling miserable. Want to be home in bed.


            He felt another sneeze coming on. “hehhh… hehhKIShhhh! Sniff! Ugh! I dod't lige this,” he whined to himself. He started to blow his nose, but it tickled again right away, before he was done. “ehhh... ehhhhh… ehhh-HIHShhh! Hihshehh! Sniff! Sniff!” He hadn't been exaggerating in his post; he really couldn't stop sneezing now. “ehhShihh! hehShehh!


            “Bless you.”


            John looked up, seeing Alice hovering in the bathroom doorway. He wiped his nose over and over again, until he was satisfied. “Sniff! Close the door. Sniff, sniff! I dod't wadt to wake Shawd.”


             Alice settled down on the nest of blankets. Her pink, lacey nightgown looked soft against the loud, floral pattern of the hotel bedspread. “Shawn's awake, Captain, and so am I. We could have heard your sneezes two rooms away.”


            John wore a highly apologetic expression, though he was just a little pleased not to be alone any more. “I dod't feel good,” he whined.


            Alice sighed. “Go back to bed, you silly, big baby. Because if you don't get better soon, you're going to have to apologize to not only me but also the people Wilson says will be attending the concert. Got it?”  She pulled a few tissues out of the box and put them into John's hand as a sort of gesture. “When are you going to understand that this tour isn't about us anymore? It's about the team. And, like those t-shirts say, they're all part of the team, too. Now Shawn and I don't care if we miss out on a couple hours of sleep. That's why God made coffee. What we do care about is you feeling better. Because we can cancel tour date of free shows without any problem. What we can't handle is you getting worse.” Alice leaned forward and ruffled his hair. “Back to bed? I'll tuck you in.”


            John looked her in the eye and nodded. He gave her his hands and she helped him to her feet. She saw him tucked into bed. Then she grabbed her clothes.


            “What are you doing?” John suddenly realized Shawn was already dressed and gathering their coats. John corrected himself. “Where are you going?”


            “We're going out to get you some better medicine and some tea.”


            John shook his head. “You don't need to do that.”


            Shawn yawned. Then he smiled. “Yeah, Captain, we do.”


            They promised to be gone less than an hour. They just had to find something open and Harry would get them there and back without any problem. John tried to reason with them, but there was no changing their minds. In the end, they snuck out while he was busy with another series of coughs and he laughed to find himself alone in a motel room at three in the morning.


            “hihh-ishhhhh! Hehshhhh!” John sneezed freely, now that he had no audience, and then blew his nose as much as it needed. He took a sip of water and set the cup back down on the bedside table.


            A small, white pad also on the table caught his attention. He grabbed it and the nearby pen. Without hesitation, without thinking about it, John used the pen with the motel logo on it and started scribbling lyrics out onto the matching pad with the motel logo on it.




            John heard the slid of the card, then the click and beep of the computerized lock. He quickly slid his pad of paper and pen under a pillow. He was coughing when they came in, and they both laughed. “Have you done anything while we were gone apart from cough?” Shawn asked.


            John just shrugged.


            “The Nyquil should wear off in an hour or so and you can take this extra strength stuff. It should help you,” said Alice. “And in the meantime, we got you some hot tea and…”


            “A donut?” John asked hopefully.


            Alice grinned. “You're so smart.”


            “And predictable.” As soon as Alice and Shawn left him alone so they could crash in bed again, John got his phone out again.


            It's amazing how much better I feel now that I have some tea and a donut. And the sweetest friends in the world.






            John heard someone moving around in the room. He burrowed further under his pillows and blankets, hoping that whoever it was would not notice him enough to wake him up. But the room was dark and the moving person ran into the base of the other bed, resulting in a yelp of pain. It sounded like Alice.


            A few seconds later, it was Alice who spoke. “Boys? It's time to get up.”


            John resumed his tactic of not moving. He was invisible. He was nonexistent. He was asleep and not listening, not hearing, not going to get out of this nice, warm bed no matter what happened.


            “Boys, it's eleven-thirty.”


            John lifted his head, and realized the digital clock between the two beds said the very same thing. He was shocked and forced himself to slowly inch out from beneath the blankets.


            Shawn had more of a reaction. “Jesus Christ! Eleven-thirty? What the fuck happened to the alarm?”


            “Shawn!” Alice exclaimed sharply.


            “What?” Shawn said, hurriedly throwing off his shirt and searching around for his bag.


            Alice made a tisking sound. “What do you mean 'what'? I heard what you said.”


            He sighed heavily. “Sorry.”


            She stared him down. “It isn't me you need to apologize to.”


            Shawn was moving around hurriedly. “Alice, we only have half an hour to get out of this room and on the road!” He tried to push past her to get to the bathroom, but she stood in his way. He sighed in frustration.


            “And you have an eternity to burn in Hell. Now take one second and apologize properly.”


            Shawn closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I'm sorry for taking your name in vain,” he whispered reverently. Before he even opened his eyes, Alice kissed him on the lips.


            “That's my man.” She stepped aside. “I'm going to start taking equipment out to the car,” she announced as Shawn disappeared into the bathroom with a change of clothes. Alice turned to John. “Morning, Captain. How are you feeling?”


            “Why didn't the alarm go off?” he asked, avoiding the question entirely. He got up and rummaged through his duffle bag for his dop kit and a fresh change of clothes.


            “We must have set it wrong,” she said. “And we needed the sleep after last night. I know I did.” But then she brought it up again. “And what about you? How are you feeling?” She felt his forehead and rubbed his cheek.


            John shrugged. “I feel a little better, honestly. But I want to take it easy just in case.”


            “Of course you do!” Alice said. She kissed his forehead.


            John got changed then stretched out in the back seat of the Element while the others loaded the bags and equipment. “Wait,” he said, just before they closed the back. “I want my guitar.” They handed over the case and he settled down with it. Alice took the first leg of the drive and started up the car. “WAIT!” John called. He unbuckled his seatbelt. “Do you still have a card to the room?” Alice had left hers inside, but luckily Shawn had forgotten to do the same with his. John grabbed it, carefully set his guitar down on his seat then dashed back inside.


            He returned, coughing but smiling, less than a minute later. A scrap of paper was clutched in his hand. “Sorry. I forgot something. But I'm good now. Thanks.”


            “No problem,” Shawn said. “We're on the road with two minutes to spare. Who'd have thought it?”


            “Breakfast?” John asked hopefully.


            “You betcha!” Shawn replied. “We passed a good place last night when we were out to get your meds. And I'm a hundred percent sure they have donuts.” He began programming the information into their seeker.






            “HELLO WASHINGTON!” they yelled in unison as they passed over the boarder.


            John strummed the guitar again, pleased it was in tune now. He sort of felt like taking a little nap, probably due to the gentle movement of the car, but the music rushing through his head was too insistent. Sometimes when a song got hold of him like this, the only thing he could do was get it out.


            He started plucking out a melody, but only got as far as a few bars. He quickly traded his pick for a tissue. “huh-IHShhh! hihhShihh! Excuse me. Sniff!


            “You doing all right, Captain?” Shawn asked, turning in his seat.


            John shrugged. “Guess so.”


            Shawn lifted the box of donuts they'd picked up that morning. There were still quite a few left over. “Want any more?”


            “Maybe a little later,” John said. He picked the tune in his head out on the guitar, well aware that Shawn was still watching him. After a few minutes, John said, “You're going to get carsick sitting backwards like that.”


            Shawn made a face. “Is that your way of saying you want some privacy?”


            “You're brilliant, you know that?”


            Shawn made another face, this one including a stuck-out tongue. “The second we started this road trip, you gave up your privacy. Now is that a new song or what?”


            John smiled back at him. “Wouldn't you like to know?”


            Chuckling, “Sneaky, secretive, planning something good… I'd expect nothing less from you, Oliver Wood.”


            “When I've got something, I promise you'll know. Sniff! Heh… heh-Ihshhh!


            “Oh, I know.” Shawn turned back around, still chuckling. “Yellow punch buggy,” he said lazily.


            “That's the same one we passed twenty minutes ago,” Alice whispered to him.


            And when John laughed, Shawn turned back around. “Hey now! I'm still in the lead. Don't forget that.”


            John paused in his playing to scribble down some notes on the pad of lined music paper he kept in his guitar case. Then he lifted his hand and gestured to Shawn to turn back around.


            Shawn sighed and obeyed his Captain.







            “Almost there. We should be at the library within an hour,” Alice announced as they passed a road sign with Seattle 45 on it. “Harry says we're right on schedule. How about you?”


            Shawn was passed out asleep in the passenger seat and John sort of wished he could be doing the same. He sniffled through the task. He had almost nodded off a few times, but the music in his head wouldn't let him stay asleep. It insisted he give it attention. He was glad he had listened to it, actually, because the song was finished. Oh, it could use a bit of tweaking and it wasn't polished the way the ones he'd played a hundred times were, but it was good. And he was proud of it. “I'm okay,” John said to her. “I guess. I mean, I'm still feeling kinda…”


            “Sick?” she suggested.


            John nodded. “Leave it to me to come down with a cold at the exact wrong time.” He punctuated that with a blowing of his nose. Instead of clearing his nose, the action actually tickled it. Luckily, he had a tissue right there. “hehhSHUH! HehShihh-KShhhhh!” He sniffled, not wanting to blow his nose and go down the same path all over again. “Alice,” he whined. “I don't feel good at all. Maybe we should call ahead and… and… hehh-IHShhhh!


            “Don't be silly, Captain. You're sounding better.”


            John looked incredulously at her. “What car are you in? Sniff! Sniff! I, ah, I hate to say it but I don't know if I can go on tonight.”


            “Of course you can,” she said without a single second of hesitation.


            Shaking his head, “These sneezes… and I'm so tired…”


            “Then blow your nose and then take a nap, you idiot,” Alice laughed. “Either that or back out of the concert. But I'm not making the call and I won't let Shawn, either. You're going to have to talk to Wilson and explain why you're letting him down after he went to so much trouble to find us a good place to play and to put us up for a night or two.”


            John sniffled and whimpered, “I don't want to back out.”


            Alice laughed. “So put that guitar away, grab a few more tissues, cover yourself with the blanket, and get some sleep.”


            “But what if—”


            “John!” she interrupted. “Just do it.”


            “And if I can't sleep? I can't go on yawning into the microphone.”


            “If you can't fall asleep, then just rest. That'll help. You'll feel better by the time we get there, I promise.”


            John coughed. “You promise? Really?”


            Alice reached back blindly and found his knee. Her hand was at a strange angle by she managed to pat him. “I bet you the next driving shift and a whole box of donuts.”


            That was good enough for John. He tucked the new song into the guitar case pocket then put the guitar away. He snuggled up in his seat with the blanket and closed his eyes. His nose tried to keep him awake by tickling and running, but soon sleep overtook his sniffles. He fell asleep and stayed asleep for nearly an hour.







            A strange, strangled cry woke John. He resisted opening his eyes but he did lift a tissue to his nose. With just a bit of a rub and some constant pressure, he could keep from sneezing for quite some time, with luck. Curious, he stayed awake, wanting to know what that noise had been about.


            “Turn left in twenty feet.


            “Harry says turn left.”


            “I can't fucking turn left, Shawn. It's a one-way street!”


            “Turn left.


            “We can't!”


            “You're sure we can't, Alice?”


            “I'm sure! There's the sign.”


            “There goes the sign.”


            “Missed turn. Recalculating.


            “Damn right you'd better recalculate.”


            “At the next intersection, make a U-turn.


            “Oh no. You're not getting off that easy, Harry. Give us a proper route.”


            After a bit of searching and recalculating, Harry the seeker used his satellites and finally found them a more suitable route to the library. John pulled on eye open in order to check the ETA. It looked like they were supposed to get there within ten minutes, traffic lights and stop signs not included.


            “Turn right.


            They turned right. John opened both his eyes now, interested to see where they were. Seattle seemed like a lovely place. Busy, quite busy, but quite diverse and artsy as well. He couldn't remember seeing so many statues by buildings and art pieces in window displays.


            A yawn shook John, and he decided to properly wake up. He stretched and blew his nose. Shawn looked back at him. “Almost there, Captain.”


            “That's what Alice said an hour ago,” John pointed out.


            “Well, this time it's true.”


            John wasn't so sure he was ready, but it really was too late to turn back now. He coughed and cleared his throat. “Water?”


            “Pepsi?” Shawn suggested.


            “Turn right,” Harry suggested.


            John looked right, half expecting to see a water bottle sitting in the holder there instead of the empty space that was actually there. “No. I need water.”


            “I think there's some in the back. We'll get it when we stop,” Alice said.


            “Arriving at your destination. On right.


            This time, Alice had no problem turning left. They pulled up to the building and snagged a parking space right in front. Alice idled for a second, put the Element in park, and then turned the key. The car went silent, and nothingness rang in John's ears. The three friends leaned back in their seats and all stared up at the massive library through the sunroof.


            Shawn was the one to say what they were all thinking. “Holy shit.”


            “Shawn!” Alice tore her gaze from the mountain of glass and steel and slapped Shawn on the arm.


            He took a beat and uttered an appropriate “Sorry.” Then he gestured out the window. “But this sure beats playing in our basement for a half dozen friends and relations, I'm telling you.”


            “This place is, what, ten stories tall? It's probably got escalators and conveyor belts and a whole floor for an information desk.” John's mouth had gone dry. He loved performing, really he did, but he'd never been in a place like this. And he wasn't exactly going to be at his best.  He started coughing. And didn't stop.


            Alice jumped out of the car and went around the back for a bottle of water. She tossed one over the equipment and it landed on the seat beside John. It bounced off and fell on the floor, rolling to the side. John, still coughing, made a dive for it. He had some gulps and then decided it was much safer to stay in the car. Oliver Wood wasn't ready for this. He knelt and then curled up on the floor, hidden from the front and the back.


            Until Shawn pulled open the side doors and stared down at him.


            John blinked up at him. “What was Wilson thinking? This isn't a library, it's a museum.” He pointed to a sign in one of the far off windows. “Look. They give tours! This isn't for me.”


            “Hey, I recognize those voices!” came a call from down the block.


            Before John could maneuver himself into a less embarrassing position, Wilson appeared beside Shawn. “Oliver Wood!” he exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear. And in his ears he had small gauges. He was a handsome man, with baby blue eyes and short but spiky blond hair that had been died a whole rainbow of colors.


            John started to smile back, but a tickle in his nose intervened. “huhh-IHShhhh!


            Slowly, Wilson's smile faded. “Are you all right?” The look of elation gave way to concern. “You're not all right. You're too ill to perform tonight, aren't you?” He put his hand to his forehead. “Oh, I knew it! Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck me!” He sounded as though he might break down in tears. And when he spoke, it was a mile a minute. “We'll have to send out an e-mail blast to everyone who reserved a spot and I'll put together a notice to post online and in the library. It'll be okay. It'll all be okay. The people will forgive us. It's out of our control.” He turned on his toes and took a deep breath, body rising, and let it out slowly. When he turned back around, he was calm. “It's all right. No big deal.”


            “Whoa, man.” Shawn said, watching the display like a car accident you couldn't look away from.


            Alice handed John a bottle of water and then put her hand on Wilson's back. “First off, it's good to finally meet you in person.” Wilson turned and immediately hugged her. “Ooof! Second, the team was just talking and I think the captain's feeling well enough to go on tonight after all.”


            Wilson broke out of the hug and practically leapt forward. “Really, Oliver? You're going to go on tonight?”


            John took a sip of water and nodded timidly, not quite sure what he was getting into this time.


            Wilson reached out and took hold of John's hand, pulling him out of the Element. John stumbled but found himself caught in a tight, grateful embrace. It was awkward at first, being hugged by someone he'd only just met. But he'd known the guy online for almost a year and the podcast and phone calls had revealed his personality well enough. John really shouldn't have been the least bit surprised. He found himself hugging back. “Careful, Wilson. I am sick, you know.”


            “Right!” Wilson recoiled, laughing. “But you're going to perform anyway?”


            “The show must go on,” John replied, shrugging. “Oliver Wood wouldn't miss a Quidditch game just because he's got a little head cold, right?”


            Wilson's grin was back. “Let me show you around. Alice? And Shawn, right?” He took their hands as he said their names. “Welcome to my town, my friends.”


            The library was everything they had thought it might be and much more. Computerized check outs and conveyor belt check ins. Ten floors of books accessible by escalator. Circular stacks of fiction. One children's section that was magical. A top floor with a spectacular view. Even its own coffee shop, complete with donuts, and gift shop. John couldn't help but feel drawn to the computers. “Hey, are those public computers? Think I could check my e-mail later? I'm kind of going through withdrawal.”


            “Of course!” Wilson said. “I'll set you up with one after I show you the venue. But I have a computer and a laptop at home you can use, too.”


            John was so excited about the prospect of catching up on his e-mails he didn't pay attention to where they were being led. Suddenly he found himself in a ginormous auditorium. Like everywhere else, John was impressed. He nodded and started to leave.


            Wilson grabbed his arm to keep him there. “This is the Microsoft Auditorium,” he said.


            John nodded. All of the meeting rooms had names as well, but he wasn't surprised in the least that Microsoft had sponsored this place. It was huge and flashy, just like them.


            “This is where you're going to be performing.”


            After seeing the size of the library, John really shouldn't have been more overwhelmed or surprised. But the shock hit him so hard he had to sit down. The size of the room was staggering. It stretched from the first to the third floors, with row after row of seats and plenty of room for more people as well. “Not… not one of the meeting rooms? I'm kind of used to meeting rooms.”


            “Then think of this as one giant meeting room,” said Wilson, shrugging. “Besides, we have more than three hundred people on the list who've reserved spots tonight. We've got two of the meeting rooms reserved for the overflow. They can watch on screens.”


            John passed out.






            “heh-Shoo! hihhShihhh!” John wiped his nose and lifted his head out of Alice's lap as he sat up.


            “Welcome back,” Shawn said, looking a bit amused.


            “How long was I out?” John whispered.


            “Just a few seconds,” Alice told him. “How's your head?” She rubbed his head gently.


            He replaced her hand with his own. Nothing tender. Nothing hurt. Except maybe his pride. He looked around and didn't see Wilson anywhere. John sighed, slightly relieved. “Guys, this is too much. I can't possibly do this.”


            Alice smiled. “Sure you can.”


            John was just about the protest for the hundredth time when Wilson appeared in the doorway with a cup of ice water and a donut. Shawn had told him the fainting was due to low blood sugar. John wasn't sure Wilson bought that as an excuse, but ate the donut anyway.


            “I'll get Oliver set up on one of the computers and then help you two with any equipment you need to bring in,” Wilson said. He squatted down next to the WRocker. “Are you feeling any better?” he asked quietly.


            John nodded. “Yeah, thanks.” He smiled. “I like your hair.”


            Wilson ran his hand through his hair, his peach skin against the wide variety of colors. “Thanks,” he said, blushing a little. “Now lets go get you a computer.”


            John sat sniffling at one of the computers. He checked his e-mail, skimming through the messages. His mother wrote, in all capitals, not because she was yelling but because that was the best she could manage with her computer. A few of his friends had seen his twitter posts and wrote to wish him well, but most of his e-mails were from friends telling him what was going on back home. He missed them, but this tour had definitely been worth leaving so far. Plus, he got to do it with his best friends. He smiled and even as he felt another sneeze coming on, he didn't really mind so much.


            “hehhh-Ehshhhhh!” He directed into his sleeve as discretely as possible. 


            He closed the browser and with it his webmail. Then, before he left, he had the idea to check twitter. He thought he would just update his status, letting everyone know he was getting ready for his performance. But when he logged in and looked at the feed on his page, he was dumbstruck with amazement. Every entry on the page was an @ reply to him. Some reassured him that they would understand if he was too sick to go on tonight. Some said they were really looking forward to the concert. And most just said they were sorry he was sick and to get better soon. When he reached the bottom of the page, he hit the 'Older' button and that page, too, was filled with kind, reassuring replies to him. The third page back was the same. And the fourth page was as well. Fifth page. Sixth. Seventh. Eighth. “Oh my God!”


            John had spoken too loudly, and he clapped his hand over his mouth. “Sorry!” he whispered.


            But he'd been noticed now. Three tweens at the end of his row of computers but opposite him had spotted him. They giggled and whispered excitedly to each other. Finally, one leaned forward and waved to get his attention, as if they weren't already making a scene the entire ten floors of the library would have noticed. “You're Oliver Wood aren't you?”


            John nodded.


            Most of the girls in the small group giggled. One actually shrieked. A squee, John thought it was called. It was as if she couldn't contain all her excitement and had to let some out. And suddenly they were around the row of computers, bouncing and giggling. John quickly logged out and then logged off. He turned, feeling overwhelmed again. The group of five girls had inexplicably multiplied to twenty-something.


            Suddenly, Wilson was at his side, holding onto his shoulders. “Pardon me, ladies, but I need to borrow Oliver. He's got a sound check and needs to change before the performance tonight. You wouldn't want to keep him from that, right?”


            Reluctantly, the girls settled for squealing and squeaking as he walked past them. There was a small room near the front stage that they were using for prestraging. Once there, in private, John sighed deeply. “You saved my ass. I would have been there signing autographs and shirts and maybe worse for who knows how long.”


            Wilson laughed. “Any time. Consider me your bodyguard if you like. I'll even run interference if you need to use the restroom.”


            “Lets hope it never comes to that!” John exclaimed, chuckling. Though he really wouldn't have minded much if Wilson wanted to accompany him into the bathroom…


            Alice appeared in the doorway, looking relieved to see the two of them there. “We're setting up now, Captain. Should be ready for a sound check in about half an hour.” She walked over and forced a small tissue box, a donut, and a box of medicine on John. “You should get changed.”


            John found his bag and took it and his guitar to the bathroom. Wilson didn't follow him in, but insisted on standing guard outside and instructed John to lock the bathroom from the inside so he would have as much privacy as needed.


            Quickly, John changed into his Quidditch uniform—navy blue robes with the gold logo. He washed his face in the sink, but his nose still looked a bit red and he looked a bit tired. He blew his nose and cleared his throat. Then he took a good, long look at himself in the mirror. Even without his nose flaring, he thought he looked sick. He wondered if he would have been able to see it if he didn't know it. He wondered if he'd know it if he didn't feel it.


            “hehShoo! HihhKshhhhh!” Yes, he probably would have. Sneezing was a pretty damn good indication.


            But he was really more concerned with how he sounded instead of how he looked. So he settled down on the floor of the bathroom— which had to be the cleanest bathroom he had ever seen in his entire life— and blew his nose for about ten minutes straight. He cleared his throat in-between each blow. Then he took a deep breath, picked up his guitar, and started practicing.


            John played the song right through, from start to finish. And then he played it again, this time singing. His voice cracked a few times, which was unfortunately not at all due to his cold.






            “I call that song 'Bludger to the Head' fer obvious reasons. It's on my brand new album but tonight I'm will be playing songs from both my albums. And it gets a little boring singin' the same thing night after night. Usually I ask for the audience tae shout out requests, but I… I have a feelin' that I amna going to be able to hear a thing if ye call something out.” He strummed his guitar and put on a pensive expression. “Shall we try? Let's try. On the count of three, everyone shout out the song ye want me tae play next. Ready?” Oliver stepped back from the mic for a moment and quietly cleared his throat. He held up one finger. Then put up a second. And finally a third. Then he pointed to the audience.


            The sound was virtually deafening, just as he had expected. He laughed and coughed again. “That was great. Got it,” he said seriously, and then he gave them a wink. “Now, as some of you might know, I'm not feeling one hundred percent tonight. But I'm going tae do my best tonight. I'd appreciate if you cut me a little slack. All right?” The applause could not have been louder if he had been playing in an actual stadium. He'd thought the crowd in Frisco had been amazing; this was spectacular.


            Oliver cleared his throat away from the microphone. “Just one other thing I wanted tae mention. Up front here's the Puddlemere United fan shop. We're no Quality Quidditch Supplies but if you're lookin' for merch, that's where tae find it. Proceeds of CD sales go tae charity, and sales of everything else go tae keeping the team touring.” There was something tantamount to a stampede in the works, so Oliver held up his hands. “They'll be there all night, so there's no need to rush. And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the music. Now, what was it you wanted me to play next?” He cupped his hand to his ear and once again heard the noise of indistinguishable shouts. He laughed. “That's what I thought.”


            He smiled and began playing what he'd always planned to play for his second song anyway.


            He was actually quite amazed at how easy this was. It wasn't remotely like playing a small room, but the people were still here to see him… and he loved that.


            His cold was behaving itself for the most part, too. “ehh-Chihh!” He had a few slip-ups, and was glad for the box of tissues Alice had at hand, able to pass them up to him from her station at the swamped merch table. “Sorry,” he told everyone as he rubbed his nose with a tissue. “Anyone have the other half of one of Fred and George's Sneezing Sweets?” Laughter ensued. “You all ken my friends, Fred and George Weasley, aye?” Cheers of agreement and recognition of what song was coming next. “But ye probably dinna ken the story o' how the twins made the Gryffindor House team.”


            The Weasley twins song was one of his favorites on his newest album, and he played it with gusto. He favorite part was how he repeated the chorus twice in a row each time, once for Fred and again for George. That wasn't the way it was on the CD, and it usually caught the audience unawares but once they heard the words and figured out what he was doing, they always loved it. Besides, everyone likes a catchy chorus more than the verses.


            When Oliver had played just about every song of his, he had worked up his courage sufficiently. He rubbed at his nose again and cleared his throat. “I've got tae be honest here. I've never played to such a big audience before. But I canna think of anywhere else I'd rather do this.” He fiddled with his guitar a little as he spoke, and his hand trembled slightly from nerves. He hoped no one else noticed. “I've got a special song I havena shared with anyone before. Want tae hear it?”


            Of course they did. He looked down at Alice and Shawn, who were both staring up at him with curious expressions. He'd never done this before, and they knew it. He'd always run everything by them before hand, scrutinizing over the order of his set list and everything. He smiled at them. “This is a song about my friends. And it's dedicated tae my teammates from Puddlemere United. Alice, Shawn, raise your hands so they can see you.” Alice raised hers shyly, but Shawn grabbed her hand, squeezing reassuringly, and raised both into the air. “You guys are the best. This is for you.”


            Oliver breathed deeply and began the simple, acoustic performance.


There's nothing dearer in my heart

Than playing a Quidditch game.

The sport and plays, honing your skills,

Are sure to bring fortune and fame.

But sometimes things don't go your way…


(Like losing the most important match of your life!)


Though your teammates are around

And if you're lucky then you've found

That when you've lost the match, frowning

And in the shower you feel like you're drowning

Your teammates get you back into pants

And remind you there's always another chance.



Grabbing your guitar and going on tour

Is thrilling, I'm telling you.

Playing my songs, meeting the fans,

Seeing places that are new.

But sometimes there are things you can't avoid…


(Like coming down with something awful!)


Though when your friends are around

You'll be lucky when you've found

That when you're miserable and ill

With fever and cold and a chill

Your friends will take good care of you

And help you get through the flu.



Life brings joys and happiness,

It can be all kinds of fun.

With a career, a spot on a team,

And a band—I thought I'd won.

But sometimes evil rises up…


(Like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his damn death eaters!)


Though when everyone's around

You'll be lucky 'cause you've found

That even when you're done with your courses

You return to school to fight evil forces

You'll all rise up, it's the only way

And that's how you help save the day.


            Oliver knew how cheesy and shmoopy, not to mention unpolished, the song was, and he expected a smattering of applause for the brave attempt. What he got was such overwhelming enthusiasm that he was, once again, overwhelmed. And then his best friends had hopped up on the stage with him. He threw one arm around each one's neck and pulled them close. “Did you like it?” he asked, worriedly. “I wanted to put in a line about donuts, but do you know how hard it is to find a decent rhyme for that?” His eyes prickled with tears and he heard Alice sniffle as she held back her own flood of tears. He hugged her, and then he hugged Shawn. Then he looked around and motioned for Wilson, who was standing on the side, to come up. Oliver hugged him, too.


            Remembering that this private moment had about four hundred spectators, Oliver cleared his throat and blinked back his tears. He motioned to his friends to introduce them properly. “Alice and Shawn, my teammates and friends who were crazy enough tae go on this tour with me.” Alice hopped back down off the stage and went straight for the box of tissues to dry her eyes. Shawn clapped Oliver on the back and then took a seat at the drum set, knowing what song was next.


            Oliver put his arm around Wilson's shoulders now. “And ye may or mayna ken Wilson here, who organized this entire event with the help of the Seattle branch of The Harry Potter Alliance. Everyone please give Wilson a hand.” Everyone clapped, including Oliver.


            Wilson took the microphone from him. “Thank you all. As you know, it costs a lot of money to rent out the rooms here in the library. But since we're a not for profit and a literary organization, the library waved the fee and helped sponsor the event. So everyone needs to thank the Seattle Public Library and the staff here at this branch, okay?” More applause. “I'd also like to announce that thanks to your donations on the way in, we've raised more than a one thousand, seven hundred dollars which will be donated to the Genocide Intervention Network! If you want to donate more or find out more about our local chapter, there will be members stationed outside the auditorium after the show. Remember, the weapon we have is love!”


            Oliver was on such a high that he managed to make it all the way through the House Cup song without messing up once. It was the best performance of his life, even with the occasional sniffles, sneezes and coughs. He considered doing an encore, but was glad he didn't considering the line of people who wanted to meet him and have him sign things for him was almost longer than the number of people who had attended the concert. He spent hours signing, glad Wilson had brought a chair for him. They ran out of shirts and CDs and buttons and had to advise people to go to his MySpace page or iTunes for his CD.


            He was beaming, absolutely beaming. His mood wasn't even spoiled when the library event organizers came over and announced that they would have to clear out soon because the library would be closing in half an hour. Members of the Seattle HPA helped cart things to the Element, though without the merch, there was not as much to cart out.


            Oliver stood in the nearly empty auditorium, looking it over one more time before he left. “You all right, Captain?” Shawn asked as Oliver's eyes misted over again.  


            He nodded and sniffled. “Yeah,” he whispered. “I'm fantastic.” He took his phone out again.


            Alice came over with the last bag from the prestaging room. “We're all ready and Wilson's pulling his car around so we can follow him to his place.”


            “Great,” he said. He followed his friends out while sending another text message to Twitter:


            Performance in Seattle… best ever thanks to great friends here and everyone who me sent support. *hugs*








            “Come back to bed,” Alice whispered into the darkness of the hallway. It was so late at night that it was early in the morning. Her voice sounded tired and stuffy.


            Shawn replied with a similar-sounding, “I just needed a glad of water. My throat's killing me.”


            John groaned and rolled out of his nice warm bad. He walked over to the door, which was open a crack already, and cleared his throat to get their attention.


            Alice looked apologetic, “We were trying not to wake…” She looked past him, seeing the mass of brightly-colored hair on the pillow of the bed John had just left. “Trying not to wake you,” she finished, making it clear she knew there was more than one 'you' in that sentence.


            “Are you…?” John asked, without having to say it.


            Nodding, Shawn nodded and rubbed his nose. “A bit under the weather, yeah. But we'll be… fine… ihhKIHShhhh!” Shawn sneezed.


            “So we're officially all sick,” John said. “You two want to stay here tomorrow instead of sight-seeing?”


            Shrugging, Alice answered, “We'll see how we feel tomorrow, but maybe we'll skip the morning. We could all use some sleep, I think. It's been a rough couple of days.” She coughed.


            John put his arms around both of them and escorted them back to the living room, where they were sleeping on the pullout futon. He tucked them in and made sure there was a nice, full tissue box for each of them. In his experience, they were going to need that. He kissed them both on the forehead and smiled as they snuggled up to each other for warmth. “Good night,” he whispered.


            He was almost out of the room and in the hallway when Alice called out to him, “Hey, John, do you think you and Wilson could keep it down? Shawn and I could really use our sleep.”


            John looked utterly mortified. “I thought you were asleep.”


            “Would have been, if we hadn't caught your cold and have the sneezes sneak up on us,” Shawn said.


            “I'm so sorry,” uttered John. “So, so sorry!”


            “It's okay,” Alice smiled. “Turnabout's fair play, especially in Quidditch.”


            John nodded.


            “Just… don't write a song about this part of the tour, all right?”


            John couldn't help but laughing.