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Chapter 6: Locked Out
A/N: Beta-ed Version!! I thank God for giving me the BEST BETA there is in the world of fanfiction, Margot (football_girl)!!! I'm not kidding or sucking up or anything, she's really the best! :) And of course, thank you all, my dear readers and/or fellow Oliver fans. This is all for you. ^_^ ~Trish
I pull my coat tighter around me as we go outside to the chilly October night. I gaze up to the sky to see that there are no stars and the moon is just a shadow in the clouds. And it looks like it’s going to rain… I sigh. Filch closes the doors behind us, extinguishing the only source of bright light.
“I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your partner…” Oliver starts, drawing his wand from his cloak then muttering, “Lumos.”
“Oh, yeah, I feel sorry for her too…” I reply, doing the same. But I feel sorry for myself more because I’m stuck here with you… I think to myself. Wait—did he just address Jen as “your partner”?
“Well, you know the Slytherins. It’s their life’s purpose to make things harder for us. That’s why I want nothing more than to beat them at Quidditch. I really want to see them miserable,” he adds, kicking a pebble as we round towards the east.
That’s it? Don’t you want to find the guy who cursed her and beat him to a pulp?
“Err… have you visited her?” I ask, trying to ignore his lack of concern for the girl he’s supposedly dating.
He looks at me with a confused expression and answers, “Uhm, no. Have you?”
Now, this is really weird.
“I just heard, so I haven’t gotten the chance yet. Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow morning. I’m sure she would want to hear how our Mandrake planting went,” I answer. “How about you, when are you planning to visit her?” I add, looking at him intently.
He blinks at me. “Me?” he asks. I nod. “Well, I don’t know her personally, so—”
I stop abruptly.
“Hang on just a moment, Wood!” I say, looking at him crossly. “You don’t know Jen personally?” I ask in a chortle.
Oliver stops too but doesn’t answer immediately; instead he stares at me disbelievingly.
“No…” he mumbles.
I open my mouth in shock. How can he be dating a girl he doesn’t know personally?
Probably because of my shocked reaction, he adds, “Am I s-suppose to know her well?” with his brows furrowed in confusion.
Finally recovering from my surprise, I manage to speak.
“I-I don’t know. Maybe if it is fine for you to date girls you don’t really know then—”
“Wait, what did you say?” he questions, confusion written all over his face. “Who’s dating girls he doesn’t really know?”
“You!” I tell him impatiently. Is he just playing dumb? Because he’s very good at it. Now, it’s his turn to open his mouth in shock.
“And what are you so surprised about?” I ask irritably.
He stares at me a little while longer, still with his mouth ajar. Then, after a few really awkward seconds, he chuckles. Man, this guy has lost it.
“You think I’m dating your partner, don’t you?” he inquires, still chuckling.
“Well, yeah,” I reply confidently.
His chuckle turns into laughter. “Then, no,” he replies, “I’m not dating her.”
“Y-you’re… not…?” I ask, my voice trailing away. He shakes his head, biting his lip probably to prevent himself from cracking up with laughter. Great, now he thinks I’m such a big joke.
I feel my face growing hot with embarrassment, so before it turns into a full force blush, I start walking again. Oh, Jill, just you wait... You seem to have your act all together, huh? With that fake crying about your prediction not coming true and all that? Boy, you got me convinced. I hope you enjoyed your Halloween night because it may well be your last…
“Max, wait up!” shouts Oliver from behind. I don’t stop, instead I walk faster but eventually he catches up with me.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” he asks, panting a bit but looking more cheerful.
“What are you talking about?” I murmur, still thinking of ways to get back at Jill. Oh, I can’t wait to get my hands on her…
“I mean, you thought I was dating your partner. That’s why you try to avoid me and why you hate being with me,” he answers confidently. I stop once again. I think I know where this is going…
“What did you say?” I ask, my lips twitching. Is he implying that I was just avoiding him because I think he’s dating Jen??
“Uh… I have always been wondering why you have such an attitude towards me whenever we’re together. Is it because you thought I was dating your partner?” he inquires, looking at me hopefully.
I stare at him, waiting for him to say “I’m kidding!”, but when he continues to look at me, I let out a snort. A really loud snort. I knew it.
“Dream on, Oliver,” I say. “One, I hate being with you because something unlucky just happens whenever you’re around! Two, I have an attitude towards you because I have an attitude towards any other guy. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust anyone. So, yeah, I’m a man-hater and there’s nothing you can do about it. And three, I don’t give a damn who you date. Really, I couldn’t care less. You can go out with the Giant Squid for all I care! Now, if you’re done with these silly speculations of yours, can we just get to the freaking greenhouse and get this planting over with? Because if we don’t hurry, I’m afraid I might break a bone because I’m with you again.” I catch my breath. I hope that clears it up. Hmph.
I see his face fall before I start walking again. I hope he doesn’t think that I’ll feel sorry for him. Goodness, I can’t believe he actually thought I like him. Oliver remains quiet throughout the remainder of the walk, which is good because I don’t want to talk to him either.
We reach the back of the castle where the greenhouses are, and since there are so many of them, I stop to look at him, waiting for him to say which greenhouse it is. He has this sort of crest-fallen look on his face and he seems to be avoiding my gaze. Since he isn’t talking and the night is getting darker and colder by the minute, I am the one to break the silence.
Okay, so maybe I was too harsh with him earlier… But it’s his fault! He provoked me into saying those things. But still I could’ve said it in a nice way… Alright, fine! I’ll apologize. I heave a deep breath and turn to him.
“Listen, Oliver…” I start, my voice quivering a little. He looks up and I feel my face grow hot again as his eyes meets mine so I quickly look away. “I-I was harsh earlier and…” I bite my lip. Come on, say it! “… and I know I said things that are kind of mean and…” Oh, please, just say “sorry” already! “and…” Go on, Max! “…I’m sorry,” I mumble almost inaudibly.
“What was that?” Oliver asks, leaning closer to me.
“I said I’m sorry, okay?” I finally say aloud. “I’m sorry for being a jerk. I shouldn’t have said those things. It was rude and cruel, though I was just telling the truth! Still, I know I should’ve said it in a nicer way.” I really could be a jerk sometimes… When he doesn’t reply, I start to worry. Oh no, looks like he’s really mad at me… I close my eyes, preparing myself for whatever.
“It’s nothing. I’m the one who should be sorry,” he finally answers. Whew… “I was assuming and conclusive. I shouldn’t have assumed those things. It’s really stupid of me.”
Well, he’s right. He was indeed assuming and arrogant, thinking I like him…wait— hey, I’m apologizing here! I shake my head, both to rid my brain of rude thoughts and to tell Oliver it’s not like that.
“Anyway, let’s just forget about it,” I dismiss. “So where’s our greenhouse?” I ask, trying to smile to lighten up the mood.
He smiles back and points towards greenhouse five. “There. Oh, and you might want to do a masking spell, there are quite a lot of herbs in it that aren’t pleasant for the nose,” he suggests, wrinkling his nose.
“Okay, let’s go,” I utter, feeling a lot lighter than I have in… years. Which is weird. Oh, well…
It takes us about an hour to finish planting the seeds. The stench inside the greenhouse is indeed so powerful that even with masking spells, Oliver and I have to go out every 10 minutes to have a breath of fresh air. Then we have to go back in again and continue the planting.
The planting of the Mandrake itself is so meticulous. It is only to be planted into soil that has not too much amount of dragon dung and water. It has to be planted deep enough for it to be properly nourished by the soil, but not too deep that it won’t be able to breathe. Even its position in the greenhouse is critical. It has to receive enough sunlight by day and moonlight by night. Darn, I hate this project!
“Urgh, the stench has already stuck on our cloaks,” I declare in disgust as we exit the greenhouse one last time. “I can’t wait to get back to the castle and have a nice, warm bath. Hurry up there, please,” I continue as I look back at Oliver, who is locking the door of the greenhouse.
“I told you those herbs are nasty,” he tells me as he catches up. My reply is beaten by a loud roar of thunder. “Let’s hurry, it won’t be long till it starts raining,” he adds, drawing his wand out again for light. Without hesitation, I follow his lead back to the castle.
We make the last turn towards the entrance when it starts to rain.
“Hurry!” Oliver shouts in front of me, immediately taking my hand and pulling me to walk faster. The rain pours harder by the second that I am not able to react to the contact, so I just leave it be. It’s raining. I’ll just yell at him later.
We finally reach the stairs to the entrance and quickly climb them to the giant doors. Oliver reaches for the huge, bronze knockers.
DUG DUG DUG. Oliver knocks the first three times. No answer.
DUG DUG DUG DUG. He knocks again, still no answer.
“Where is Filch?” I say loudly through the rustling winds and pouring rain.
DUG DUG DUG DUG DUG DUG DUG. Oliver knocks impatiently.
“It seems that he’s not at the other side,” Oliver yells to me.
“What?!” I yell back. He shrugs.
Pulling my stinky coat tighter around me, I walk down a few steps to gaze at the Great Hall. It’s kind of late, the feast must be over. And I am right, the lights in the Great Hall are dim and there are no signs of a celebration anymore. Then where is Filch? He can’t have forgotten we’re still out here!
DUG DUG DUG DUG DUG. “Mr. Filch! Open up!” Oliver hollers. I immediately walk back to him and start slamming the door with my fists.
“Mr. Filch! Anyone! Open up!!” I start screaming with Oliver. The wind and rain grow stronger. We can hardly hear our own knocks on the doors. We continue banging on the doors for another ten minutes, but there is no still no one answering.
“It’s no use. They can’t hear us.” Oliver gives up, wiping a mixture of sweat and rain water from his face.
“No. I can’t be stuck here all night! I have a nice bath waiting for me inside!” I bellow as I keep on banging the door with all my might. My legs and fists are already numb with the cold, but I can’t give up. I can’t be stuck here all night!!
“Max, come on. We’ve got to find shelter. The storm’s getting worse,” Oliver suggests, grabbing my arms to stop me from breaking the door.
“What do you mean find shelter?! We don’t need to find shelter. What we need is to wait for someone intelligent enough to remember that we’re here outside and to open this blasted door for us!” I bark furiously. Please, Jill, Brooke, anyone! Open. This. Stupid. Door!
Oliver pulls on my shoulders to face him. “We need to go, Max. If we don’t go now we’ll freeze to death!” he explains. “Look at you, you’re already shaking,” he adds, rubbing his hands up and down my arms.
I’m shaking in frustration, Oliver. I shrug his hands away and look back at the door. I barely feel my legs and it seems like I have no power left to knock. Oliver’s right. We’ve got to find somewhere we can dry off.
“Where can we stay?” I ask loudly through the howling wind.
“I don’t know yet!” Oliver replies, his voice equally loud.
Oh God, oh God, oh God! When would this day ever end?!? I walk back and forth the landing of the entrance, brushing away a leaf that has been blown to my face, thinking of anywhere we can stay.
“We can go back to the greenhouses!” Oliver suggests.
I look at him incredulously. Has he gone nuts?! “Do you want both of us to suffocate to death?!” I bellow. I’d rather stay here all night than go back to that disgusting greenhouse! “Do you have keys to other greenhouses?” I ask. Oh please, say you have them!
“No,” he answers, sounding defeated. “Professor Sprout only gave me the one for greenhouse five…”
“Drat!” I curse, stomping my numb foot hard. I continue pacing back and forth, thinking of somewhere, anywhere where we can wait for the storm to stop. Think, Max, think!
Suddenly, Oliver’s face lights up. “Of course!” he says, delighted. He grabs my hand and pulls me down the stairs.
“Where are we going?” I ask, trying my best to keep up with him. The soil is already so soft that my feet get stuck deep in the mud, slowing me down.
“The Quidditch locker rooms!” he replies, looking back at me. “Come on!”
The rain pounds on my back, making me feel as if I am carrying something really heavy. “How far is it?” I yell back at him, gasping for breath.
“We have to go around the pitch. The Gryffindor Locker room is at the far side,” he states, holding on to my hand tighter.
That far? Goodness, it is a five minute walk to get to the pitch in a normal day, how long could it take us in this weather?? Just the thought of it makes more tired and dizzy.
Oliver keeps a tight grip on my hand. But the farther we go, the more effort it takes for me to pull my feet from the mud. The rain is so hard I can barely see where we are going. The wind is so strong that it nearly blows me to the ground a couple of times. I’m so tired… I heave a deep breath as I lift my right foot from a mud puddle once again. It’s as if it has taken all my strength to get it out. My vision begins to swirl…
Max? Max? And then, there is darkness…