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Chapter 1: Dementors, Candies and Predictions
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A/N: This is already the editted version. Thanks to Margot for being such a wonderful beta. :) Go check out her stories as well, football_girl is her penname. *wink*
Chapter One: Dementors, Candies and Predictions.
“Max, wake up!” I hear Jill say while shaking me like me mad.
“What? Are we there already?” I ask, as I shove her arm away. I look outside to see the train still moving. A grunt of irritation escapes my lips. Why do they have to wake me up anyway? They know for a fact that I always sleep during the train ride to school. I’ve been doing that for the past seven years!
I turn to look at my friends, Jill and Brooke. I want to give them the best scowl I can manage, but change my mind as soon as I see the frightened looks on their faces. Very frightened looks, actually.
“What’s wrong with you two?” I ask, rubbing my eyes and yawning.
“Didn’t you feel them come?” Brooke whispers. She is looking very pale and twitchy.
“Feel who?” I ask, looking around the compartment.
“The Dementors… They were here,” Jill says in a shaky voice.
“Dementors? They’re here?” I ask, bewildered, as I start to get frightened myself. They are just the foulest creatures in existence, what can they be doing aboard the Hogwarts Express?
“They were. I think they are checking everything out, you know, for security purposes. I heard that since Sirius Black escaped, they’ve been dispersed everywhere,” Jill replies.
Oh yeah, Sirius Black. That no good murderer. I shake my head as I wrap my jacket around me tighter.
“Didn’t you feel them, Max?” Brooke asks.
Did I feel them? I guess not… I was, after all, sleeping when they came in.
“No… I guess not,” I say in an unsure voice.
“You’re lucky. Mum had described to me the feeling of being in the presence of Dementors, but I never thought it was really that scary. I felt—”
“Like you’ll be sad forever,” I finish for her absent-mindedly.
“How do you know? Have you been in the presence of one?” Jill asks.
“No, I’ve read about them,” I answer. Great, now they’re going to think I’m a bookworm again.
“Oh,” Brooke sighs, her eyes still hazy and unfocused. We are all sitting in silence when out compartment door slides open. All of us jump in horror when our houses’ Quidditch Team Captain, Oliver Wood, peeps in.
“It’s just me, don’t worry…” he says, as he enters and closes the door.
“Oliver, you scared us,” Jill declares, though she isn’t looking scared anymore. She looks rather happy. Amazing, really, how cute guys can change her mood in an instant.
“I’m sorry.” Oliver smiles. “So, are you girls okay?”
“We are, thanks for checking. Now, you can go back to your compartment,” I say, standing up and sliding the door open for him. Brooke and Jill shoot me a glare, but I don’t care. I know Oliver just wants to take advantage of ‘frightened’ girls and offer them comfort so he can hug them and cuddle up with them. Jerk.
“Oh,” Oliver says innocently, “okay… I just thought I’d check up on you, since I heard Harry passed out because of the Dementors. I thought maybe one of you passed out too…”
“Potter passed out?” I snort. Famous Harry Potter passed out because of Dementors? Poor kid. Jill shoots me another glare.
“Oh my, is he alright?” asks Brooke, who isn’t looking as stressed out as before as well. I must admit, Oliver has some effect on my friends.
“He’s fine. Good thing the new professor is in his compartment; drove the Dementor away with the Patronus charm,” Oliver answers, as he stands up and makes his way to the door that I am leaning against with my arms crossed. “I’ll go check on the others, good thing you’re okay,” he adds, looking at me with a smile on his face which I return with a scowl. I slam the door shut as soon as he walks out.
“You are so anti-social, you know that?” Jill scowls. Anti-social? Me? How could she? I just saved them from being taken advantage of!
“I’m not anti-social. That guy obviously wanted to take advantage of you!” I retort. Both of them roll their eyes at me.
“He was just checking up on us. He checks up on everybody. He doesn’t want to take advantage of anyone!” Brooke debates. It’s my turn to roll my eyes at them as I take my seat again but do not answer.
“See? That’s why people think you’re a tomboy. If I wasn’t your cousin, they would’ve thought I’m your girlfriend,” Jill rants. Yes, she’s my cousin… unfortunately.
“That doesn’t apply to me, unfortunately. A really cute Ravenclaw in seventh year asked me if I was going out with you before summer started. Eww!” complains Brooke. Why am I friends with her again? Oh yeah, she’s Jill’s best friend. Lucky me.
“Yuck. How could anyone think of such a thing?” I say, screwing up my face in disgust. They both roll their eyes yet again. I wish some spell would hit them so their eyes would be stuck like that forever.
“Oh my, I don’t know…” Brooke replies sarcastically, with a look of mock confusion. “Maybe because you’re such a man-hater that you don’t even allow us to be around guys. Please, Max, keep your issues to yourself.”
“I don’t have issues.”
“Yeah, right, Maxine Sophia.”
I scowl. Great, now they have resorted into calling me by my whole name. They know just how I loath it when they do that. But I’ll try to keep my cool this time. I won’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me ticked off.
We fall silent. I don’t want to talk to them, and I’m sure they don’t want to talk to me either. I love it when we don’t talk. At least I won’t be included in their constant jabber about cute guys, fashion, make-up and that stuff. I’m actually doing myself a huge favor by not talking to them.
Argh. Why do I even put up them with them again? Oh, right - Jill. Too bad for me, we are related and Brooke comes with her. They’re like a package deal. You can’t get one without getting the other as well. Why can’t they be the ones who are cousins just so I don’t need to hang out with them? I know I can choose to ditch them, but Jill always finds me. She always does, especially when there is a mound of homework we have to finish. What are cousins for, right? she always says in a tone she uses to speak to boys.
Jill and Brooke and I are the like north and south, black and white, heaven and hell. They are the typical girly girls, and I’m just not. People think that I’m a tomboy, but I’m not. I’ve never had a boyfriend, though I’ve been asked by guys to go out a couple of times before. Unfortunately for them, I don’t date. I just don’t trust guys. Just one look at them, and I know they’re up to no good. How do I know? I just do.
“I’m going to the restroom,” I say as I stand up and walk to the door. They do not give the slightest acknowledgement of hearing me. Oh well, I don’t care. They’ll beg me to talk to them after Snape gives us a two feet essay on Monday, anyway.
I walk out without a backward glance and slide the door closed behind me. I look at my right - deserted; look at my left and wow, the candy trolley is coming. My last train ride to Hogwarts won’t be so bad after all. I feel a smile curl on my lips.
“Two Cauldron Cakes and a Drooble, please,” I say as soon as I reach the woman. I love cauldron cakes and gum. They keep my mouth busy.
“Here you go, dear,” the woman says kindly, as she hands me the goods. I place my hand inside my pocket for my coin purse – only it isn’t there. Blimey! I left it in my school bag. Argh, how stupid of me!
“Uhm, hang on. I forgot my money at my compartment; I’ll just run and get it…” I say. The woman nods understandingly.
“How much is it?” says a familiar voice from behind me. I turn to find none other than Oliver Wood standing there, with his usual smile plastered on his face. Why is this guy always smiling anyway? I roll my eyes at him.
“Three sickles and five knuts,” answers the old woman.
“No, my compartment is just here. I can grab my purse and pay the woman myself,” I say in a firm voice. It is like he didn’t hear me as he rummages his pockets and hands the lady the money. “What are you doing? I said I can pay for it myself,” I add irritably. He looks at me and smiles as he takes the candies from the old woman and hands them to me.
“Here,” he says. I scowl.
“Keep it. You paid for it anyway,” I say and start to walk away. Never mind the candies; I’ll just go to the restroom. As I walk past him, I feel his hand grabbing my arm. What the…
“What?!” I bellow, as I turn to face him. He’s starting to get to my nerves.
He doesn’t answer. He takes my hand and places the candies in it.
“You can just pay me back whenever you want. The trolley lady won’t be back again until much later, so you won’t be able to buy yourself anything till then,” he says calmly. He takes my other hand and places it on top of the candies to keep them from falling on the floor. He smiles at me again, then turns and starts walking.
Stupid Wood. Maybe he is thinking he is charming and sweet and cute, always with that smile on his face. What’s with him? He’s never been known to smile like that before. In fact, he was always frowning, especially when Potter or any person on the team is injured. For the first time in my Hogwarts life, I wish Gryffindor losses a Quidditch match. That’s sure to wipe that irritating smile off Wood’s face.
If there is anything I know about Wood, it’s his love – well, obsession – for Quidditch. Come on, everyone knows about that! It’s like he’s married to it or something. No wonder he doesn’t have a girlfriend. It’s like there is nothing he can love more than Quidditch.
I walk back into the compartment a couple of minutes later, fresh from my restroom session, to find Brooke and Jill chatting animatedly. I ignore them as I sit down and stare out the window.
“We know your secret, Max.” I hear Brooke say. Huh? Secret?
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“We saw you, Max. So I guess that’s the trick to get guys, huh? Pretend to hate them first?” Jill asks. These two girls have lost their puny brains. Poor things. I stare at them but don’t reply. I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
“Come on, Max. We saw you holding hands with Oliver in the corridor.” My eyes get wide as my jaw drops.
“I absolutely did not do any such thing!” I retort. What the bloody…
“Don’t bother lying to us. We saw it with our own eyes. He grabbed your arm and then held your hand. You even stood staring at him as he walked away. We saw the whole thing,” Brooke says proudly. Fool.
“You didn’t see the whole thing, if that’s what you are thinking,” I say.
“Then why was Oliver holding your hands?” Jill asks.
I roll my eyes and tell them what happened. They listen intently, which surprises me. They usually don’t listen to anything I say. Maybe it’s because I’m talking about a guy that they’re listening.
“Oh, Merlin! Oliver bought these Cauldron Cakes and Drooble?” Brooke asks after I tell my story, her hazel eyes wide. I nod. “These Cauldron Cakes and Drooble are sacred. Don’t eat them, please.” What? Did she just say that the Cauldron Cakes and Drooble are sacred? Her screws really need tightening.
“Uh, Brooke, these are called food and they are made for eating, so I’ll eat them,” I say as I open my mouth to stuff it with a Cauldron Cake, but Brooke grabs my arm and takes the cake from my hands. “Hey! That’s mine!”
“This isn’t just a Cauldron Cake, Max. This Cauldron Cake was bought by Oliver Wood,” she says. She has really lost her mind. I look at Jill for some help. If Jill is good for something, it’s for saving me from her own best friend. I am surprised to see that she isn’t even looking at me. It looks as if she is in deep thought.
“Brooke, give her the cake. I think you are over-reacting,” she finally speaks up. One thing I like about Jill is she knows when things are overboard. Brooke tries to open her mouth to argue. “Give her the cake, Brooke,” Jill says firmly. Brooke pouts and then hands the cake back to me.
“Thanks,” I growl, then take a bite of my scrumptious cake. Hmmm, delish… I tilt my head back and look outside again. Thank goodness Jill knows how to make her sissy friend shut up, now I can enjoy my Cauldron Cake in peace.
“You know what, Max, I think Oliver likes you,”
I choke on my cake.
“What?!” Brooke and I say in unison. Jill smiles. What’s with her?
“Oliver. I think he likes you,” Jill repeats. I blink at her.
“Jill, dear, what are you saying?” Brooke asks. I can’t even react on what Jill has just said. I can’t even believe she said it.
“Well, uhm… I often caught him looking at you during classes last year. I have been having these hunches and theories about you and him, and I just confirmed them with what just happened between the two of you in the corridor. He definitely has a thing for you,” she says, looking at me intently.
It’s official. Jill has lost it.
“I think you got it all wrong, Jilly. As Max said, she didn’t have her purse with her, so Oliver paid for her. I’m sure he would’ve done the same for you and me,” Brooke says. I never thought that I will ever say this but I agree with her one hundred percent.
“Believe me, Max,” Jill says, ignoring Brooke completely. “You know me and my instincts. I don’t usually feel things, but when I do, they come true.”
Now I’m scared.
There is one thing I admit Jill is better than me at – Divination. She’s really freaky when it comes to predictions and fortune-telling. She always scares the hell out of me when she says something and it ends up coming true. Once, when we were seven years old, she told me that my pet rabbit, Mary Gold, would die before I turn eight and indeed, just a day before my eighth birthday, Mary Gold died because she got ran over on a Muggle street. Freaky.
And now, she’s claiming that Oliver Wood has a thing for me… NO!
“Jill, you’re scaring me already,” I say.
“I’m not kidding, Max. Oliver likes you. Don’t you get it? He came here to check up on you, not us. Just remember the way he smiled at you when he was about to go out. Think about it, Max,” she says with a smile on her face.
I cover my ears and start humming. I don’t want to hear another word from her.
“Fine, you know I’m telling the truth.” I can still hear her so I hum louder.
She is ridiculous. Oliver Wood doesn’t have a thing for me. Who is Jill playing at? He can’t like me! He is in love with Quidditch!
Why am I even bothered? I turned guys down a lot of times before. I don’t care who they are, I just turn them down. Why worry about Oliver Wood? I can just turn him down as well, just as I did everyone else. He’s just another boy, and if Jill is telling the truth, which I’m afraid she is, then poor him.
I take a deep breath, stop humming and put my hands down. I pick up the Drooble, unwrap it, and then shoot it into my mouth. I shouldn’t be caring about Oliver Wood. He’s just another guy. I’ll just sit back and enjoy my last train ride to Hogwarts and forget about anything that happened today and what Jill said.
It’s. No. Big. Deal.
A/N: Uh, hi. It’s been my plan to write an Oliver fic for the longest time and finally I have it here. I’m not really confident about it since it involves an OC and it’s written in 1st person so I would really like to hear how I did. So if you have time, let me know what you think please.
A/N: Just want to make it clear that this chapter occurred September 2nd, 1993, a Thursday and a day after the train to Hogwarts. :) Enjoy!
This chapter is for you, hun. We are all going to miss you.
Chapter 2: Ladies First
“So what do you think of this color?”
“I think it’s too red, use the other one. Then, use this blush…”
I turn in my bed and pull my pillow over my head, wishing that it will somehow muffle the sounds of Brooke and Jill’s chat about ‘beauty’. It’s so early in the morning and they’re talking about it already. There aren’t even classes yet.
“Should I wear my hair down?” I hear Brooke say.
“Hmm… Yeah, let it down. You can curl the ends if you like, just so it won’t be too simple,” Jill suggests. Geez, it sounds like they’re going to a party. Oh well, why am I even surprised? They ask each other the same old questions every single day.
“Do you think this top goes well with these jeans? Or should I just wear a skirt?” asks Jill.
“Wear the pink top you bought this summer. I think it would be perfect. What do you think of this—”
“Can you please keep it down? I’m still trying to sleep here!” I snap, shouting at them through my bed hangings. They turn to me with identical frowns on their faces.
“Just about time you wake up,” replies Jill.
“It’s so freaking early, Jill. We won’t have classes till Monday. I can sleep for as long as I want,” I retort.
“Max, it’s nearly noon. Not so freaking early,” Brooke implies. I glance at our dorm clock and see that it is indeed a quarter past eleven in the morning. Okay, so not very early, but I want to sleep more, what do they care?
“What time did you go to sleep last night? I checked your bed at around one in the morning and you were not in it…” Jill asks, while applying lip gloss.
Finally getting out of bed, I stifle a yawn while stretching my arms. “I turned in half an hour after you checked…” I lie and I don’t feel bad about lying to them. If they knew the truth – that I turned in at almost 3 am last night because of reading, they’d just make fun of me again.
“Whatever you say,” Jill says, smacking her lips and whirling around to face me. “Your mum sent you this, by the way.” She tosses a green pouch to me. “It came with the morning post that you missed, since you wanted to have your beauty sleep,” she adds. I scowl.
As I open the bag, I can’t help but smile. My mum never forgets to send me my sweets and here they are! I turn the bag over to let its contents spill over my bed. Licorice Wands, Ice Mice, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Blott’s, Sugar Quills, Drooble, Toffees… I love my mum! I grab a toffee, unwrapping it carelessly and shooting it quickly in my mouth. Yum!
“Eww, how can you have that as your first meal of the day?” Brooke asks with an irked look on her face. Ha! Who cares what she says? I have my sweets right here. I don’t have a care for any of her dumb comments at the moment. I ignore her as place my loves back in the bag.
“You’re such a kid, Max. You’re seventeen years old and you still haven’t gotten over your immense love for… unhealthy food,” Jill says, combing her long, brown hair as she tosses it around. “Aren’t you even going to get ready?”
“Ready for what?” I ask, playing with the toffee inside my mouth. Jill rolls her eyes and whirls around to face me.
“Oh yeah, I forgot you haven’t left this room yet, how stupid of me,” she admits, walking towards me and sitting down on her bed, which is beside mine. “All seventh years are allowed to go to Hogsmeade from now until classes start on Monday. It was posted on the notice board this morning.”
“Isn’t it fantastic?” Brooke butts in, settling herself beside Jill. “Four days till Monday… I can’t even decide what to do at Hogsmeade first…” she finishes with a dreamy look on her eyes.
These two are really out of their minds. Maybe they have forgotten the fact that Dementors are all around the place? I thought they’d be scared to go out ever since their unfortunate encounter with some of those creatures on the train. Perhaps I’m wrong.
“Dumbledore allowed that? With Sirius Black on the loose?” I inquire.
Oh well, Dumbledore seems to be off his rocker sometimes. He’s a great wizard, I know, there’s no doubt about that, but sometimes the things he does are just out of this world; like letting that Gamekeeper Hagrid take over Professor Kettleburn’s post as Care of Magical Creatures Teacher. Thank God I dropped that subject last year. Not to mention that nightmare Lockhart last year! My goodness, if I wasn’t trying to get good grades in DADA, I would’ve snapped at him the very first day I met him! God, I couldn’t think of anyone worse!
“Well, I suppose he allowed it if it’s posted on the board,” Brooke cites, shooting me out of my contemplation. “Maybe he thinks that we seventh years deserve a break, since it’s our N.E.W.T.’s year and all. He knows that we’ll be working our butts off this year. Much more than we did during fifth year,” she finishes, Jill nodding in agreement.
“So are you coming?” she asks.
“No,” I answer without even thinking twice, turning my back to them and starting to make my bed.
“Why not?” Jill asks, pulling on my sleeve.
“What am I supposed to do there? If mum didn’t deliver my sweets, I would’ve come just to buy some at Honeydukes. But she did so and I have nothing more to do there. I have much more important things to do than hang-out with you two while you’re doing your shopping and boy-watching.”
“Suit yourself. You’ll be the only seventh year staying here, you know. Even Lucy and Hera are coming,” Brooke adds, gesturing to the two other empty beds in our dorm room.
“Come on, Max. Oliver’s coming!” Jill pleads, eyeing me.
“Oh really?” I say, mimicking their high pitched voice when they’re talking about guys. “Wait, let me think about it… Okay, sure I’ll go… NOT!” I chuckle. “Honestly, Jill. You didn’t think that would make me want to come, did you?”
“Laugh all you want now, Max. I stick by what I told you yesterday on the train. Oliver Wood likes you. As a matter of fact, he was actually looking for you this morning at breakfast,” she insists, checking her nails.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe you, Jill,” I reply in a resigned tone. I’m getting sick of this Oliver topic. “I’m just saying that I don’t care. If he asks me out, I’ll just turn him down like I did with the rest. And he was probably looking for me so I can pay him back for the sweets yesterday.”
Standing up, I make my way to my trunk, getting my purse from it. “Here. Give him these when you see him,” I say calmly, handing a couple of coins to Jill, who just looks at the coins in my hand and remains motionless.
“Give it to him yourself. Come on, Brooke,” Jill replies, walking past me with Brooke closely on her tail.
“Oh, come on, Jill!” I whine as I watch them make their way to the door.
“See you later, Maxie. Don’t worry, I’ll buy you a pretty good book from Hogsmeade,” Jill coos, blowing a kiss in my direction before Brooke closes the door shut.
This is just one of those times when I hate being related to Jill. She’s not as bad as Brooke – Brooke is the worst, I tell you – but she’s not really that good to me either. Lucy and Hera are cool, but I find them far too boring and geeky for my liking. Plus, they’re obsessed with Herbology and a wizard band called Weird Sisters. Herbology is a nice subject, but I am not born with a “green thumb”, so I don’t fancy it that much. As for the Weird Sisters… well, it’s a boy band, do I really have to explain myself?
A sigh escapes my lips as I slump back on my bed, tossing the coins carelessly on my bedside table. It’s actually good that I’ll be the only seventh year left. No Brooke and Jill; no egoistic boys walking around like they’re the boss of the place; peace and quiet. I think I’ll do some studying – continue the reading I’ve started last night. What better place to go than the library, right?
The Patronus Charm, pronounced pa-TROH-nus, invented by Frenchman Louis Clèmence in the 14th century, is a powerful spell used to protect oneself from Dementors.
Wow, this is indeed a handy charm.
Dementors are perhaps one of the foulest creatures on this earth, as they feed on human emotions…
Blah blah blah, I think I’ve read enough about Dementors to last me a lifetime.
The only known defense against Dementors is the Patronus Charm. This charm is quite beyond what the Ministry of Magic deemed “Ordinary Wizarding Level” and is excused from the O.W.L. exams Hogwarts students take in their fifth year. It has been known to appear on the N.E.W.T. exam Hogwarts students take in their seventh year of schooling.
Okay, so a good decision that I’m reading this book… So, now, how do I conjure it?
To perform a Patronus Charm, one must sum up an extremely happy memory and say the incantation “Expecto Patronum.” This is pronounced ex-PEK-toh pa-TROH-num. In the presence of Dementors, happy memories are hard to come by (see: above “drain wizards of … happy memories”), making it all the more difficult. The result is a silvery shadow or, with more practice, a silvery shadow of an animal form called a Patronus. This shadow personifies the happy thoughts of the spell-caster and uses it as a weapon against the Dementor.
Happy thoughts, eh? Hmmm. I hope I can think of one. Brooke and Jill pretty much spoiled my entire school life, and I can barely remember anything before Hogwarts anymore.
I let out a sigh as I close Advanced Defensive Charms by Celestina Applegate shut.
“I think I’ll practice it in one of the empty classrooms one of these days…” I whisper to myself. Good thing the library is almost empty, or people might think I’m barmy for talking to myself.
I survey the room with a glance – just a couple of Ravenclaws two tables away from me and Madam Pince quietly scribbling something. Oh, I see Hermione Granger is here too, no surprise there—
“Are you sure it will work?”
I hear a whisper from behind the bookshelf to my right. It sounds like a male’s voice, but I’m not sure.
“Well, we should just try it, right?” whispers another male voice, which sounds oddly similar to the first speaker. Can it be another person talking to himself?
“On ourselves again?” Okay, so it’s not just one person.
“Are you going to give up on me now, George? Come on, we’re doing so well!” George? Hmmm…
I slowly stand up from my seat, making as little noise as possible. Peeping through a space between the shelves, I see two heads of very red hair. Aha! I knew it – it’s the Weasley Twins.
“All right, but can’t we just pay some first years to test it for us?” George suggests. Well, I think it is George. I can’t tell them apart for the life of me.
“Insufficient funds. I’m pretty sure we have the right potion right here already, so I think it won’t hurt like before,” explains the other.
These two are always up to something. Aren’t they even worried? As far as I know, they’re in fifth year. They should be studying for their O.W.L.’s right now.
I pull a random book from the shelf, clearing my throat to let my presence known. Both their heads jerk nervously in my direction and immediately letting out a sigh of relief as they see me.
“What are you two up to?” I ask casually, opening the book and pretending to skim through it.
“Oh, it’s only you, Sullivan,” Fred replies. Only me?! Yeah, only me…
“Yeah, it’s me. So what are you two doing? Aren’t you supposed to be studying for your O.W.L.’s?” I inquire, arching a brow at them.
“Spare us the sermon, Sullivan; we had enough of that at home already from mum, not to mention from perfect Head Boy Percy. What are you doing here anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be at Hogsmeade?” George answers back.
“I chose to study. I have nothing to do there anyway…” I say as I close the book and return it to the shelf. Hey wait— I asked first! “You didn’t answer my question, what are you two doing? I heard you talking about a potion and something about testing it—”
“Ah… Keep your nose where it should be, Sullivan,” Fred says as he walks around the bookshelf separating us, George in his wake. They stop in front of me with identical giddy smiles on their faces.
“We’re sorry, Sullivan. Though we know that you won’t rat on us, I think it’s too early to let anyone know what we are up to,” George adds with a wink. Wait—or is it Fred? I’m confused. I don’t know which one is on my right or my left.
Well, they are right. Among all the boys at Hogwarts, the Weasley Twins are the only ones I get along with just fine. I don’t know why, really. Maybe because they piss Brooke and Jill off a lot and they piss them real good. Plus, I figured they’re not only a hazard to girls, they are actually a hazard to anyone – boys and girls alike... Even teachers… Even Filch! Man, these guys are cool. They have certainly earned my respect.
“Don’t worry, Sullivan. We’re not up to anything dangerous,” one of them says. “We’ll even give you a discount when we have it perfected.”
“Discount?” Are these two going to sell something?
“Yeah, a very special discount,” affirms the other, giving me another wink.
“What are you selling?” My curiosity gets the better of me again. I’m sure I won’t get these two to spill, though. The two of them exchange pleased looks. I think they’re happy that they got me all curious.
“Ask us no questions and we’ll tell you no lies,” they chorus. I knew it. Why do I even try?
“Fine,” I snap. I gather my books up to have them checked out by Madam Pince. “See you around,” I say, giving them a curt nod.
“You’re not mad at us, are you, Sullivan?”
“Of course not,” I assure them. “Just promise me this – whatever it is that you are doing, make sure to use them on Brooke and Jill. Deal?” Haha, I’m a genius.
“You got yourself a good deal.” Ah, it’s always nice doing business with Fred and George.
Books tucked in my chest, I turn on my heels and start walking, when one of them calls out to me again.
“Oh, Sullivan!” Stopping abruptly, I whirl around to face them.
“When Wood looks for us, you didn’t see us, okay?”
Wood? He’s here? “Well… he’s at Hogsmeade too, right?” Please say he is, please say he is.
Both of them exchange sniggers—not a good sign. “We wish. Unfortunately, we ran into him this morning. He said he won’t be going to Hogsmeade because he wanted to spend – note this, he said this himself – every free time thinking up strategies for Quidditch. We’re telling you, if you thought Wood was obsessed with Quidditch before, I think his obsession just multiplied a hundred thousand more folds. He wants to win the cup so bad.”
I can’t help but roll my eyes and shake my head. Somehow, I can’t help but feel pity for Oliver. I mean, look at him, his life dependent on a sport. How miserable can his life get? I think he’ll die if his – well, our – team doesn’t win the cup this year. It is, after all, his last chance to get it.
“Okay, I won’t tell.” I doubt I’ll see that guy anyway. Well, I just hope I don’t. I give the twins another nod and start walking again, getting my books checked out by Madam Pince then making my way out of the library.
I open my copy of Advanced Defensive Charms again as I pave the corridors on my way back to Gryffindor Tower; reading and re-reading things about the Patronus charm. I scavenge my pocket for another toffee, not taking my eyes off the book. Finally getting hold of one, I unwrap the sweet with my right hand and my teeth, balancing my book with my left. I am about to shoot the sweet thing to my mouth when…
“Oh shoot!” I swear aloud. Something – or someone – bumps into me as I turn a corner on the third floor, causing my book and my toffee to fall on the floor.
“I’m really sorry. I guess I wasn’t looking where I was going,” says a very familiar voice. So familiar that I think I know exactly who it is without even looking. I slowly turn my gaze from the floor to confirm my suspicion and darn it. Oliver.
I let out an irritated huff and I bend down to get my book and my now dirty, wasted, used-to-be clean and yummy toffee from the floor.
“Oh, I see you didn’t go to Hogsmeade too. I thought it was only me and Percy,” he declares as he crouches down as well to help me, something I immediately prevent him from doing by slapping his hand away from picking up my book. And wait—did he just say that Head Boy Percy is here too?! Now I wish I went to Hogsmeade too, rather than being stuck here with the worst guys in my year!
I straighten up after picking up my dirt-filled toffee, looking at it regretfully. My wasted toffee… Now, I only have five left…
“Er—are you still going to eat that?” Oliver asks, looking at me with an expression of utter confusion… or is it concern? Maybe he’s concerned about my sanity of having to eat a toffee that just fell on the floor.
“No,” I reply firmly, throwing the toffee out the window. Then, without another glance in his direction, I start walking again. I have to get away from this guy as fast as I can… To my surprise, I hear his footsteps following me. What the heck does he want? I turn around and face him, making him stop instantly.
“Why are you following me?” I ask, irritated, his passive expression almost immediately turning to a baffled one.
“I’m not… I’m going back to the common room,” he answers. Oh, yeah, right, I’m going back to the Gryffindor Tower, which is his house too. Merlin, I’m an idiot… I try my best not to curse myself aloud.
“You go first,” I blurt out. Why I said that, I don’t know!
He looks at me questioningly, then eventually starts walking, shooting me backward glances as he does. I stare determinedly on the floor, avoiding his glimpses at all cost.
We reach the fat lady with neither of us speaking again. He says the password and the fat lady swings open. I am waiting for him to go in. But to my surprise, he remains still. He is looking at me as if expecting me to do something. What?! Is he expecting me to make a complete dolt out of myself again?
“What are you still doing standing there? Go in,” I question in an almost commanding tone.
“After you. Ladies First,” he answers casually. I have to fight the urge to open my mouth in shock. Did I hear him right?? Ladies first?! You have got to be kidding me…
I blink at him, but remain unmoved. Is he serious?? I am absolutely sure that ninety nine percent of the school population thinks that I’m a tomboy, and he thinks I’m a lady?! Goodness, Oliver’s more screwed than I thought!
He smiles, as if sensing the debate about his sanity inside my head. I still do not move.
“Are you two going in, or am I just going to stay open all day?” vents the fat lady from her frame. She isn’t friendly at times.
My legs feel like they’re a hundred times heavier than they used to be. Somehow, I manage to regain my skill to walk and make my way inside, Oliver closely following my lead. Very closely – I feel his warmth on my back.
I stop as I reach the nearest armchair, still dumfounded of what has just happened. He passes by me, giving me a grin as he does. He is already at the foot of the staircase to the boy’s dormitory when I call out to him.
“Oliver!” He stops, then turns to face me. I make my way to him, my hand perusing my pockets for coins. Yes, I am that dumb to forget about the money I owe him. “Here,” I add, as I hand it to him.
“Oh. Don’t mind it, it’s just a few sickles anyway…” he insists.
“It’s okay, Maxine. Keep it—”
Without letting him finish, I take his hand and place the coins on it, just as he did to me on the train the day before. I immediately turn away from him and start ascending the girl’s dormitory staircase and then stop and look back. I am kind of surprised that he is still right where I left him.
“And Oliver,” I start, “don’t ever call me Maxine again, because it’s Max.”
A/N: Sorry that it took me long to update. I seriously considered deleting this story because I had a hard time writing it. Thank God for my fabulous beta Margot(football_girl) for helping me. Without her, I would’ve given up on this.
"Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no lies" - Not Mine! Famous Twins' line from the book.
Thank you so much to Precious_Rin for writing the excerpt about the Patronus Charm. She's good, right? =)
A/N: First of All, I want to thank the HPFF staff who have, just now(!), moved me to the Trusted Status! Now, no more validation to undergo!! I owe it all to them that I am being able to update now. This chapter has waited enough. So here it is... Enjoy!!
A Bitter Toffee to Swallow
After you. Ladies First…
“Urgh!” I grunt, slamming my Transfigurations book shut. God! It happened yesterday! Get over it! I scold myself. I hate to keep thinking about something so stupid. It’s just four words for crying out loud! Thank Merlin my roommates aren’t here, they are sure to think that I’ve gone mad. I think I just swore out loud about five times since I woke at nine today, and it’s already noon. Not normal, indeed.
Jumping out of my bed, I rummage my trunk for another book to read. Transfiguration is not enough to keep my mind empty of pointless – not to mention silly, idiotic, and doltish – thoughts.
After you. Ladies First…
I shut my trunk closed with a loud thud. “For Pete’s sake!” I swear again, grasping my hair, very much tempted to pull it out. I straighten up hastily, giving my trunk a good kick. Ouch! Which I shouldn’t have done, considering that now I have a throbbing toe and a messed up brain. Great. Just Great.
Another grunt of sheer irritation escapes my lips as I sit down on my bed again.
“Midday Tantrum?” someone says from the door. I look up to see Jill with a mock expression of concern on her face.
“Get out of here…” I reply, without even thinking. Her mock concerned look is almost immediately replaced by a puzzled one – which is also teasing.
“Tut-tut” she says as she enters and sits on her bed, looking at me. “What’s wrong, Maxie? Come on, you can tell me…”
Just when I think things can’t possibly become worse, they do. I snigger. As if I’m going to tell Jill that it is Oliver bugging me—Wait, did I just admit that it is Oliver bugging me? Good God, no!
I close my eyes tightly shut, covering them with my hands as I start to shake my head from left to right. No no no no no no no no… No!
“Max!” cries Jill, grabbing my head to stop me from shaking. “For goodness sake, what’s wrong with you?!” This time, I know she is really concerned. Should I tell her? NO!
“Nothing…” I answer in tone that almost screams ‘I’m lying!’. Merlin, why can’t I lie about this so easily as before?!
“So you expect me to believe that?” Jill asks, arching an eyebrow at me and crossing her arms. “I was by the door for about ten minutes before I came in, talking to Louisa about something. I swear I heard you huff angrily about three times already. Then I come in and see you shaking your head like mad. Duh, Max? Even a fool can see that something’s wrong with you.”
Okay, so perhaps I can tell her… but she will think that I like Oliver! But I don’t! I DON’T! Then stop thinking about what he said! I have been trying to! Then you’re not trying hard enough! Bloody hell, I can’t believe I’m debating with myself. Why are you even fussing about what he said anyway? I don’t know! Wait—
Because Oliver thinks I am a lady…he thinks that I am a lady…
“Uh, Max? You’re starting to scare me…” Jill says, looking at me dubiously. I am instantly pulled out from my own thoughts.
“I think I’m okay now.” I’m telling the truth. That good battle with my own brain brings me this instant calm. Jill still looks slightly unconvinced.
“You’re maybe okay now, but what were those mad head shaking and angry huffing all about?” she asks. “And don’t tell me they were nothing. I swear to God, Maxine Sophia, I’ll send you to Madame Pomfrey if you don’t tell me the truth,” she adds when I try to open my mouth to speak. I have been planning to tell her it is nothing, but clearly she knew what I am about to say.
“Okay…” I answer with a sigh of resignation, “I was…” Am I really going to tell her? “…I was…” thinking about Oliver. Hey! I have NOT been thinking about Oliver. I have been thinking of what Oliver said, but not Oliver himself!
“You were…?” Oh, right.
“I was looking for my book.” Good one, Max!
“You were looking for a book?” Jill poses, sounding doubtful.
“Yes. My… uhm… Standard Book of Spells Grade Seven. Er— have you seen it?” I ask, starting to sound more convincing… I think.
Jill’s brow arches even higher as she shifts her gaze to something beside me. She reaches out and picks up something. I follow her gaze and see that she’s getting… my Standard Book of Spells Grade Seven! Max, you bloody prat! How could you forget that the Standard Book of Spells is the same as your Transfiguration book, which you have just been reading about 10 minutes ago? You dolt!
I’m dead now.
“What do you know? Looks like I’ve found the book that you supposedly lost. Oh, and right beside you, too!” Jill says in a mock amused tone. She gives me a frivolous smile as she drops the book on my lap, then her expression turns into a serious one. “Okay, so you don’t want to tell me. It’s fine. I’m not really expecting you would, so I’ll leave you be,” she says, heaving a sigh. See, I told you Jill isn’t so bad.
I can’t help but look apologetic. Maybe I should’ve told her? No. I have made the right decision.
Jill stands up and faces the mirror, checking her make-up.
“Why are you here, by the way? Shouldn’t you be in Hogsmeade? And where is Brooke?” I barrage her with questions.
She smacks her lips, then whirls to face me. “I have already been to Hogsmeade this morning. Brooke stayed behind because she has a date with that Carmichael from Hufflepuff. I’m dateless, so I just decided to go back and accompany you, dear cousin.”
Pfft. As if she really means that…
“How about you? Why aren’t you studying in the library?” she wonders, sitting back on her bed and crossing her legs.
“I’m feeling lazy to go down. I already got all the books I need yesterday, anyway,” I lie. Since what happened yesterday, I’m staying put here in the dorms until classes start on Monday. I will just go down for meals, nothing else. I don’t want any more awkward encounters with anyone again.
“I see…” Jill nods with a little smile curled on her lips. She looks like she knows something that I don’t. Bah. I’m being paranoid. “Have you eaten lunch?” she asks.
“No. Have you?”
“Not yet. So do you want to come down with me?”
Should I come down with you?
“No. You go ahead. I’ll be right down.” Nah…
“All right.” She uncrosses her legs, stands up and makes her way to the door. Just when she is about to step out and close the door, she peeps in again and says, “Oh, and Max, someone wanted me to give you this.” She tosses an unopened pack of toffees to me. “He told me to tell you that… wait, what was that again? Oh! He told me to tell you that he is sorry for bumping into you yesterday, causing your toffee to fall on the floor. He also said that don’t you even think about returning that pack to him, because he will not accept it. Hmm, was that all? Yup. That was it. See you at lunch!”
She blows me a kiss - she should really stop doing that – and then closes the door behind her, leaving me sitting on my bed, with a fresh pack of Toffees, completely speechless and in utter shock.
Thank Merlin, Monday’s here. I almost thought time stopped for the last two days. At least now I have more pressing things to worry about other than Jill and Brooke’s constant jeers about my toffee incident with Oliver three days ago. Now I can focus my attention on the N.E.W.T.’s that Professor Snape is reminding us about again. I will find it to be an interesting lecture if this wasn’t the fifth time today that we are told about ‘How important these tests are’. Come on, we get the idea!
“…so I expect all of you to be more responsible and keen in my subject this year. I wouldn’t think twice to give you a failing mark if I know you deserve it. I may have gone a little easy on you during your O.W.L.’s and I accepted you in my class even with just pathetic E’s, but that wouldn’t be the case now, so I expect you all to make my class your top priority. I wouldn’t accept any excuses for late or undone homework. And I mean any excuses…” Snape finishes, his eyes resting on Oliver, staring at him differently.
“Now, for you to be able to pass my class by the end of the year, you will not only need to perform well here in my classroom and with the homework that I will assign you. By the end of the year, there is another requirement that I want you to submit to me. I would want you all to be able to brew… A Mandrake Restorative Draft.”
What the hell? Is he bloody serious?!
Judging by the number of gasps and huffs that reverberate through the room, I am not the only one who thinks that Snape is out of his mind. Mandrake Restorative Draft?! I’ve read about it and it is far more complicated than any other potion I have read about, and I have read a lot. He can’t possibly ask us to brew him that!
“Silence!” Snape shouts, causing us all to fall silent at once. “I am not yet done. I can see from your reactions that you have all read about this particular potion. The Mandrake Restorative Draft is a very complicated potion indeed. Perhaps you have heard about that because of the unfortunate events of last year. The draught not only requires a mature Mandrake to make but also other astronomical interventions in the addiction of other ingredients. It took Professor Sprout almost a whole year to brew one last year so I advice that you start early for I will not accept late potions. I know you cannot accomplish this task on your own, so I am grouping you into pairs.”
Now I need to socialize. This is going to be one hell of a year. I look around the room and see some students whispering to each other, probably discussing the pairings. The two Hufflepuff girls on my right are holding hands. Sheesh, this isn’t a beauty pageant, Missies, and Snape isn’t going to announce the winner. The two Hufflepuff boys are staring absent-mindedly at the ceiling. The seven Ravenclaws are waiting patiently for Snape to speak again. The four Slytherins are slouching in their seats, all of them looking uninterested. Snape’s not going to help them out on this, is he? Lastly, my fellow Gryffindors, Landon Hidgens, Percy Weasley, Hera Burwick and Oliver Wood are all sitting quietly. Brooke and Jill? They failed the O.W.L.’s, that’s why I love Potions, though I have Snape for a teacher.
“No point asking your friends to be your partners. for I have already paired you up,” Snape says, holding a piece of parchment in his hands. “As I call out your name, I want you to stand up and sit with your partner. This will be your permanent seating arrangement for the rest of the year, and I will not change it, so whether you like your partner or not, you have no choice. There is no need to talk as you do this, so I don’t want to hear any unnecessary noise.”
Yeah, yeah. Get to it, Snape.
“Hidgens and McCormick,” he calls the first pair. Landon and one of the Hufflepuff boys stand up and make their way to the desk closest to Snape.
“Williamson and Eckerly … Greenroot and Burwick … Clearwater and Duhn …”
Poor Weasley, his girlfriend’s stuck with a Slytherin bloke… I can’t help but think as I see Penelope Clearwater walk over to where Adrian Duhn is sitting. She gives Weasley an unsure smile, which he returns with a curt nod that I guess says ‘It’s okay’.
I look around at the remaining students and find that there are only four of us left. Whoa, and I thought I was paying attention… I see two other Ravenclaws and… oh shoot—Oliver! Don’t pair me up with him, Snape! I beg you! If only I can say that out loud.
Oliver gives me a small grin, which I completely and absolutely ignore. I have been spending the last three days avoiding him as much as I can, but since classes started, I can’t ignore him any longer. He is in most classes I am taking, and that really puzzles me, since all he ever wants to be is a Quidditch star. Weird. Oh, and the toffees he have given me - locked in my trunk. I’m never going to eat them, not unless I am very, very, very – and I mean, very! – desperate.
“All right, four people left. This will be interesting. We have Wood, Donovan, Gracey and Sullivan…” Snape says, his thin lips curling into a smile. “Okay, Wood, you go with Donovan, and Gracey with Sullivan.”
Did I hear him right? I-I-I am not paired with Wood?!
“Yes, Ms. Sullivan, you heard that right. Now, get a move on and sit with Gracey before I change my mind,” Snape remarks. Er… How did he do that? He didn’t just read my thoughts, did he?
I stand up, more enthusiastically than ever, and start prancing to join Jen Gracey at the last desk. I give Gracey a sincere smile as I sit down beside her.
“Jen, Maxine right?” she says, offering her hand for me to shake.
“Just Max, actually,” I reply, shaking her hand.
So this year won’t be so crappy after all. In fact, this may just be an interesting year. I know that the last few days were by far the worse. I mean, Dementors circling the place, Jill’s prediction (that I don’t care about!), bumping into Oliver (which I got over already!) and N.E.W.T.’s pressure. What else can happen that can possibly be worse, right? At least I’m not stuck with Oliver as a partner for one whole year. That will somehow shut Jill and Brooke up, and there shall be peace.
“You seem to be happy?” asks Jen, interrupting my thoughts. I must be smiling unconsciously…
“Oh,” I say. “Well, kind of… I’m happy I’m not paired with Oliver,” I declare honestly. They don’t talk anyway, and I don’t care if she tells him about it, too.
“Ah…” She nods in comprehension. “Why’s that?”
“Well, he’s Quidditch obsessed. I bet he won’t have time for the project, since he will be very busy fussing himself about getting the cup. That Donovan will be working alone.” I admire my excuses. Oh, I mean my reasons – not – excuses.
“Oh,” she replies, her expression suddenly looking sad. I see her looking sideward to where Donovan and Oliver are sitting.
I can’t help but notice Jen watching them all throughout the class. She seems to be throwing them glances every chance she can. Donovan and Oliver seem to be getting along fine, they are talking and Donovan seems to be charmed by Oliver, like most other girls – no surprise there. I wonder why Jen is suddenly looking gloomy. Hmm… I wonder.
A/N: This chapter was shorter, but I hope it still suits your taste. There're not much Oliver/Max interaction in this because I want to clear up the situation for you. I hope you like it, nevertheless, then if you have time, kindly review. Thanks!!
Oh, another huge thanks to my Beta, Margot!!
Face to Face
Finally, it’s the weekend! Oh My God, I can’t think of a busier first week. After that Mandrake Restorative Draft for Potions last Monday, we have also received end-of-term projects for Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, and even DADA. Aside from all those really hard assignments, we have also received a truck-load of homework! So now, on this beautiful Saturday morning, I’m stuck here in the common room doing homework… with Brooke and Jill trying to copy my Transfiguration essay. Argh.
“Please, please Maxie… We’re not really going to copy it. We’ll just read it to get an idea, you know, like a guide…” Jill pleads for what I think is the tenth time today. I don’t even look up at her. Instead, I pull my bag over to my side and take my copy of Guide to Advanced Transfiguration from it, slamming it on the table.
“Here, this is the best guide I can give you,” I say, turning back to my Charms essay.
“Okay,” I heave a collective sigh, “try doing the essay by yourselves for a change. Then, when you’re done, give them to me and I’ll check them. I’ll tell you your mistakes and I’ll make corrections. That’s all I can do for you.”
Brooke and Jill exchange unsure looks. “But what about our Charms and Herbology essays?” asks Brooke.
“I’ll do the same with them. Give them to me when you’re done.”
“But that would be too much work for you! Look at you; you’re not even done with your Charms homework…” Jill points. I close my eyes, praying for patience. Merlin, please… Make these two leave me alone!
“I don’t mind the extra work, as long as you two learn to do things by yourselves,” I reply as I start to gather my things. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, Ms. Flaherty and Ms. Bailey, I’ll go to the library for some moments of peace.” I stand up, raising a hand at both of them when they open their mouths to try and protest.
I make my way out of the Fat Lady, looking to my left and right before I go out. Got to make sure I don’t bump into anyone… When I am sure the coast is clear, I start paving the familiar route to the Library.
I reach the library – without any unwanted encounters - and find it not very crowded. No surprise, really. Who would want to stay in the library on a beautiful Saturday? I survey the room for an empty table when I notice someone waving at me from a distance. I squint my eyes and realize that it is Jen. She stands up and makes her way towards me.
“I thought I’ll see you here…” she begins in a low voice. “I got the seeds…”
Seeds? What seeds? She must’ve noticed the puzzled look on my face, because she continues.
“The Mandrake seeds. I asked my mum to get me some and here they are!” she whispers, reaching into her pocket and pulling out what look like human embryos turned to stone. They are about the size of a bezoar and are dark in color. They look like tiny black fetuses. They’re… hideous.
“Those are Mandrake seeds?” I ask.
“Yes,” she nods. “Now, we need to plant them before winter, because the book says that they will mature faster if we do. It also says that it’s best that we plant them a few nights before the full moon. I checked the lunar cycle for this month and found out that the full moon would most likely be around the fifth of November, which will fall on a Friday,” Jen explains. Wow, am I lucky to have her as a partner or what?
“Uh… okay,” is all I can say. I think she have this all worked out.
“So since the fifth of November is Friday, I think the best day we should plant our Mandrakes would be on Halloween night. What do you think?” she inquires.
I stare at her in awe as I start walking to the nearest empty desk, Jen following me closely. “Yeah, sure. If Halloween night is the perfect day to plant them, then Halloween night it shall be,” I agree, setting my things on the table.
“Uhm… If you want, I’ll be the one to plant it on that night. I guess you would want to attend the Halloween feast,” she assumes, though looking unsure.
Returning the questioning look, I answer, “I don’t mind missing the feast. I can help you out with it. It won’t be a problem.”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll do it alone. I don’t think Professor Snape would give us more than one permission note for that night…” she insists. Why does she want to go alone?
“Well, he should, shouldn’t he? I mean, there’s a murderer running loose and Dementors are all over the place. Obviously, he shouldn’t allow anyone alone outside the castle, most especially…” I explain. Am I right or am I right?
Jen looks defeated, but she continues to insist. “Really, Max. I can do it on my own. You can go to the feast and I’ll plant the Mandrakes…”
I continue to look suspiciously at her. It’s kind of weird that someone would want to go outside all alone on Halloween night. The Halloween feast is a really good event and I’m not happy about missing it, but if it’s for this, I really don’t mind.
“Fine, if you insist,” I finally give in. Almost instantly, a smile spreads across her face. “But if you want me to go with you, just say so…” I add.
“I will. I just don’t want to bother you with this…” I try to open my mouth to speak, but she beats me to it, “Okay, I got to go back to my friends. See you on Monday…”
Oh—kay… That girl’s really weird. Don’t get me wrong, she’s really cool to work with. I can’t ask for a better partner. We have the same classes, since we are both aspiring healers, plus, she is really responsible and not as boy-crazy as most other girls. I still do catch her staring at Oliver at times, though. Oh well, as long as she’s nothing like Brooke and Jill, I can live with her.
I check my watch and am shocked to see that it is already half pass five in the afternoon. I have been sitting here in the library for more than four hours. I stand up and start fixing my things. I’m happy, since I have finished all my homework. Now, I have all Sunday to relax.
Feeling happier than when I came in, I walk out of the library, when someone calls out to me.
“Hey, Max!” calls a familiar voice. Uh-oh, I know who that voice belongs to… Oliver!
Without even looking back, I quicken my pace, pretending not to hear him.
“Max, wait!” he shouts again. I hear his footsteps become faster behind. I accelerate again. He must not catch up with me! What does he want, anyway?!
He must’ve switched to a slow run, for I hear him gaining on me. Oh no! I continue to speed up… He must not catch me! I start on a slow run myself when…
Ow! I fall flat on my face.
“Merlin! Max, are you okay?” Oliver frets from behind me. “Here, I’ll help you up…” I feel his hands on my arms, trying to lift me up, but I shove them away almost instantly.
“No. I can do it myself,” I growl, pushing myself up with my arms. I don’t remember being this heavy… When I am up, I see Oliver picking up my things from the floor. And without another thought… “This is your fault,” I say, dusting off my robes.
To my surprise, his expression isn’t shocked by my tactless statement. Instead, he lets out a resigned sigh and straightens up to face me. “Yes, I know. I’m sorry…” he says. His words are matched with an apologetic look.
I am about to retort back when I taste blood in mouth. I lift my hand to touch the spot and wince as I feel a sharp pain. Looking at my finger, I indeed see blood. Darn it. Now my lip is bleeding.
“I can fix that, hang on…” Oliver says, taking out his wand from his pocket.
“I can do this myself, Oliver. I don’t need your help,” I reply stubbornly, pulling out my own wand from my robes.
“But you can’t even see the part that’s bleeding. I’ll do it,” he debates, abruptly taking the wand – my wand – from my hand.
“Shh! Stand still…”
How dare he shush me!! I try to take my wand from him, but he pockets it, and then lifts his left hand to hold my face still. “Be still, Max! This won’t take long…” I make an attempt to free myself, but then he pins me to the wall. Bloody hell! He pulls my face closer to his. His face is so close I can see the stubbles on his upper lip.
Before I can protest, he points his wand at my lips and mutters the spell, “Episkey.” Instantly, the stinging feeling on my lips vanishes. “There…” he coos as he smiles. Instead of pulling away, it seems as if he is examining my face and for an unknown reason, I find myself looking back at his.
I haven’t been this close to anyone before, not even with my own mother. We’re so close that I feel his warm breath on my nose. Our height difference causes me to look up at him and him to look down at me. It is interesting how being in close proximity with Oliver makes me realize the little things about his face that I haven’t noticed before. I can see the thin lashes above his honey brown eyes and a few freckles on his cheek, and his oddly curved eye brows and…
Merlin’s Beard! What the hell am I thinking?!?
I push him away as soon as I come to my senses, gasping as I shake my head a little to rid of those ridiculous thoughts I just had. Avoiding his gaze as much as I can, I start picking up my things from the floor.
“I-I’m…” he tries to say.
“Leave it,” I shut him up, hastily placing my bag back in my books. I mean my books bag in my back. Oh shoot, this guy just twisted up my thoughts!
Slowly, I feel my face growing hot in embarrassment. Thank goodness my hair’s covering it up! The worse that can happen is for Oliver to see that I’m blushing! Oh my God, what did just happen there, Max?? What?!
“Er—are you mad?” he asks tentatively.
I grunt, “You know what? This is entirely your fault! If you haven’t been running after me, then I wouldn’t have fallen down, then my lip wouldn’t have bled and… and…” I trail off.
“I was just going to ask you something when you started to run away,” he says in defense. This guy is unbelievable!
“So it’s my fault now, huh?” I bellow.
“No, it’s not. I’m sorry,” he answers in a defeated tone.
My heavy breathing starts to slow down as I feel myself calm down. “Why are you even following me, anyway?” I inquire, raising a brow at him.
Oliver clears his throat and says, “Oh, I was just wondering if you and your partner already have Mandrake seeds for potions…”
He chased me down the hall just to ask that? Yes, it’s not actually Oliver’s fault why you fell flat on your face and why your lip bled. It’s your fault, Max! You ran like a lunatic on the loose because you are stupid, paranoid, s—
“Uh… I didn’t say anything…” Oliver mutters, looking puzzled.
Oops, I just said that out loud, didn’t I?
My jaw drops. “I mean, yes. We have the seeds.” I button my bag close and turn on my heels when Oliver speaks again.
“When are you planting them?” he inquires.
“Halloween night,” I answer, walking away from him. I hear his footsteps following me. God, what does this guy want again?
“Are you planting them?” he asks, trying to catch up to my quick steps.
“Urgh,” I grunt, stopping abruptly. “It’s Jen who is going to plant them for us, not me.”
“Oh,” he sighs as he stops right in front of me. He looks like he still has things to tell me, but, for some reason, he isn’t able to express them in words. I tap my foot in impatience.
“Are we done here? Can I leave in peace?” I growl, crossing my arms. This seems to snap him from his quiet state.
“Er… yeah,” he mumbles, “sorry for keeping you and uh… for what happened to your lip…”
I feel myself flushing again. Darn it, Max!
“None of this ever happened,” I say dismissively, as I look down on the floor to prevent him from seeing my probably beet red face. Without waiting for any response, I move past him and leave him there, continuously cursing myself for what has just happened.
A/N: Okay, this chapter isn't beta-ed yet so please forgive me for any typos or grammar errors, etc. I just can't wait to post this chapter up since I haven't updated any of my stories for so long. Please let me know what you think! :) Thanks! ~Trishie
Good News. Bad News.
Sigh. It’s been a month and I can’t believe we are still receiving projects. So I have homework in Charms again, Transfiguration again, Potions again and well… absolutely all subjects again. Not to mention I still have to practice the Permanent Sticking Charm for practical tests tomorrow. I don’t even know how in the world I can practice that without having something permanently stick to something else. Maybe I can practice something with the lettuce at lunch tomorrow…make it stick permanently onto Brooke’s front teeth.
“Here. I’m done.”
Speaking of the devil. I grab the essay from Brooke’s hand and survey it.
“This isn’t even a foot long yet, Brooke. Professor McGonagall requested for a foot and half,” I tell her, hastily giving the essay back to her. She’s wasting my precious time again.
“Well, I was thinking you can add things to it so it would be longer?” she asks tentatively. God, she’s unbelievable!
“Brooke,” I start, trying my best not to scream at her, “I’m sure that you are aware that when I check your work, I always end up deleting things from it, making it shorter. You tend to write irrelevant things in your essay that only Merlin knows where you get!” I finish, turning back to my own homework.
“If you would just let us borrow your essay then—”
“No,” I say flatly, not even looking at her. I hear a humph, and then she stomps away. I shake my head as I roll my eyes. And she has the nerve to be mad at me? I’m doing them a big favor! And not once did I receive a “thank you”!
I continue to scribble words into my Potions essay. Snape has asked for a three feet long essay on The Wolfsbane Potion. Three feet! Urgh…would I ever finish this? And my eyes are starting to droop…
“Oh my, what’s wrong, Jilly?” Brooke frets behind me. I turn to see Jill almost close to tears. She has a childish frown on her face and her eyes are watery.
“What’s the problem?” I ask. Well, Jill is my cousin… I do care for her though she frequently annoys me…
She slowly turns to look at me as she rubs away small tears from her eyes. “Rejoice, Max,” she says.
Huh? What was that about??
Brooke raises an eyebrow at her. “W-what’s happening? Does it have anything to do with your date with that Ravenclaw?”
Jill sobs, “No, well… kind of. Rupert is amazing. It was something he said that made me feel this way.”
What does that got to do with me? I don’t even know that Rupert guy!
“What’s that got to do with Max?” Brooke asks, voicing my thoughts.
“Well,” Jill starts, grabbing Brooke’s handkerchief and wiping her eyes with it, “we had a walk in the grounds, beside the lake. He picked this really pretty flower from the bushes and placed it on my ear then we continued to walk, hand-in-hand…”
Oh please, can’t she just get to the point?!
“…and then we passed by some Ravenclaw friends of his. He greeted them – he is kind of popular in his house, you know. He introduced me to them, which I think is really sweet—”
“For goodness sakes, Jill, can you just tell me how I got included in this?” I snap. I mean, come on! I don’t have time to listen to her stupid love life.
“Fine, I’m there!” she spat back, pretending to sob again. “So there was this Matthew guy, and two girls named Althea and Jen…”
“Yes, Max, Jen. Your Potions partner…” Jill says when she sees the puzzled look on my face.
“What about her?” I ask. What about Jen that could possibly make Jill like this? Sure Jen is weird but she’s kind of cool, too.
“Well, Rupert said…” Jill sobs, louder than ever, “He said… he said…”
“He likes that Jen girl?!” an assuming Brooke completes for her. “How could he?!”
“No, silly!” Jill cries. “Of course he doesn’t like that girl. I’m prettier than her…”
Oh, please… “What is it then? Come on, you’re wasting my time,” I say as calmly as I can.
“Well, Rupert said,” she starts again, “he said that Jen girl is dating Oliver!”
. . .
Neither Brooke nor I make a comment. It’s not like there is something to say… is there?
“Hello? Am I talking to anyone here?” Jill remarks sarcastically. It is Brooke who speaks first.
“What’s the big deal?” she asks, her face looking as baffled as mine.
“Don’t you get it?” Jill asks, her eyeliner starting to run.
I really don’t understand what the deal is. Alright, so Jen is dating Oliver. I’ve been suspecting she likes the guy for a long time anyway. I mean, she can’t even concentrate on her studies just because she always stares at that Quidditch-loving git. Though, not once have I seen hints of Oliver liking her too. Not that I’m looking for some… I don’t even look at the guy. Okay, sometimes I look at him but—
“No, I don’t get it,” Brooke declares, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Do you like Oliver or something?” she adds.
“Of course not, Brooke. Don’t you two remember?” Jill asks us. When both of us stay quiet, she takes the hint. “My prediction…” she finishes, looking at me intently.
Oh, right…“Yeah, so you’re wrong,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“That’s the point, Max. I’m never wrong!” Jill stresses. “I was right when I told you your pet would die. Also that time last year when I told you something bad will happen to Percy’s girlfriend. I have predicted storms and they come. I even predicted that Brooke and I won’t be able to pass O.W.L.’s in Potions!”
Well, even I could have predicted the last one…
“It’s alright, Jill. It’s just the first one anyway,” Brooke assures her, stroking her hair.
“No, you don’t understand. Oliver likes Max. It’s so obvious! Even you agree with me, right?” Jill asks Brooke. “And aren’t you even bothered by this news, Max?” She turns to me.
“Me? No!” I deny instantly. “Why would I? I have always suspected Jen fancies Oliver. She can’t even take her eyes off him. Sheesh.”
“Come on, Max! I know you like Oliver too!”
This girl is out of her mind. I shake my head as I stand up to go back to my homework. What a waste of time… I DON’T like Oliver.
“You like him. I saw you glancing his way a couple of times during the classes that we’re in together…”
I do? Nah…she’s bluffing.
“I even saw you looking at him from your book when he’s here in the common room…”
I can’t hear anything… blah blah blah…
“And… you say his name in your sleep!”
What?! “Now, that is a lie. I do not say his name in my sleep!” I say in defense.
“But everything else is true then?” Jill says with a mischievous smile on her face.
“What—? No!” I say. Damn it, Jill! “I don’t like him, I don’t stare at him during classes or here in the common room, and I absolutely don’t say his name in my sleep!”
“You do,” Jill spits back.
Do I really?
“How do you know when you’re asleep?” she asks.
“Tell her, Brooke. Tell her you heard her once or twice too,” Jill chuckles, asking Brooke for backup.
Brooke looks up to me and nods. “I actually heard you two nights ago. You were saying something like—”
“I don’t want to hear it,” I say, raising a hand to stop her. I start gathering my things as quickly as possible. Damn these two…they think they got me all figured out?! They don’t.
“Where are you going? Running away from the truth?” Jill asks with a satisfied grin on her face. She’s torturing me and she’s enjoying it.
“From now on, you do your homework alone with absolutely no help from me,” I say through gritted teeth.
“What? That’s unfair!” Brooke retorts. I knew she would be first to complain.
I can still hear Brooke whining as I make my way up the stairs to the Girls’ Dorms. It’s their fault. They can both fail N.E.W.T.’s for all I care! I slam the door shut as soon I come inside my room, tossing my things carelessly on the floor and letting out a angry huff as I sit down on the bed.
“Something wrong, Max?” says a voice from behind me. I turn around to see Hera and Lucy both with quizzical looks on their faces.
“Nothing,” I answer. They still look unconvinced. “Just Brooke and Jill…” I add.
“Oh…” they both say, nodding in comprehension. They both know how it is with the three of us. They know that I don’t really enjoy being around Jill and Brooke and that I often get annoyed by something they do.
“What is it about this time?” questions Hera, taking her glasses off and wiping it with her robes.
“I… really don’t want to talk about it,” I dismiss, removing my shoes as I lay down on my bed.
“Oh, alright,” replies Lucy, “but if you need anyone to talk to, we’re here,” she finishes, beaming at me with her braced teeth. Another thing I don’t understand about Muggles - braces. I mean, why put metal on your teeth? Food can get stuck to it and all that stuff…urgh. Oh, yeah, Lucy is muggle-born.
“Err…thanks,” I answer uncertainly, pulling the covers over my head. I hear them resume their conversation about the new Weird Sisters’ song when I butt in, “Lucy, Hera… can I ask you something?”
They exchange unsure looks and then nod.
“Have you… uhm… did you ever… well, hear me sleep-talking?” I ask, playing with a hem of my blanket, avoiding their gazes. My question is met by silence at first. It is Lucy who speaks first.
“Sleep talking?” she repeats. I give her a small nod.
“I haven’t,” answers Hera. Phew! “Have you, Lucy?” she adds.
Lucy starts shaking her head, “Well, you’re not really talking when I heard you once. It’s more like a grunt or something, nothing really clear…”
Slowly, I feel a smile curve on my lips. Ha! Brooke and Jill were indeed lying! “Thank you very much, you two. Good night and sweet dreams…” I tell them, much happier than usual.
Okay, so I admit that I sometimes dream of him, but I’m sure that I absolutely don’t sleep-talk! Plus those dreams are no big deal. Sometimes he just walks by in my dream and stuff like that, nothing really meaningful.
I pull the sheets tighter as the thought of Jen dating Oliver comes to my mind. So they’re dating… Good for them. I should congratulate Jen the next time I see her…
“Max, wait up!” Jen shouts out from behind me in the hall. I hastily stop and turn to her. It is the first time I see her since I heard of the news from Jill.
“Hey, long time no see…” I greet her as she stops in front of me, slightly out of breath.
“I’m sorry. I had a bad cold last Monday so I wasn’t able to attend Potions. I believe Althea told you the reason?” she asks.
“Oh yeah, she told me. No problem,” I assure her. “So, how are you feeling now?”
“Better,” she answers with a wide smile.
“Good,” I reply with a similar smile. For a while, we are just smiling at each other. Err…right… “Is there something you need to tell me?” I ask as soon as things turn more awkward by the minute.
“Oh, right,” she says. “Well, tomorrow is Halloween night, so I want to ask how is it going for our Potion…”
Right. I’ve been so busy with homework I didn’t even notice that it’ll be the end of October. “The potion is doing well, I think. I checked it last night before I went to bed and it all seemed in order,” I tell her, remembering my trip to the dungeons last night to check on our brewing potion.
“That’s great. Alright, so I’ll just go plant the Mandrake seeds tomorrow night, wait for it to mature and we’ll add it in,” she states with a big, bright smile on her face.
“Yes, I just hope everything goes well.”
“Of course everything will go well. I’m sure of that,” she says reassuringly. “Okay, well… It was nice seeing you again. I’ll catch you at Hogsmeade tomorrow?”
Oh, right, Hogsmeade visit tomorrow… “I’m not sure if I’ll go yet, so I’ll just see you around,” I tell her.
“Ah, alright. Well, see you around.” She gives me a small wave, then turns to leave. Wait, I haven’t asked her about Oliver yet… well, should I? Hmm… Why am I going to ask anyway? What do I care? It’s none of my business who Oliver dates. I mean, who Jen dates. Not Oliver, I don’t care about him entirely.
Before I do something stupid like calling after Jen and actually asking her if she’s dating Oliver, which I absolutely couldn’t care less about, I start walking to my next class.
My eyes flutter open to see the sun slowly setting from my room’s window. I turn to look at my watch and see that it is already a quarter past five in the afternoon. Whoa, I’ve slept for almost 3 hours.
I am rubbing my eyes when the door slams open and the squealing Jill and Brooke and the whispering Hera and Lucy march in.
“Oh, Brooke, you should totally go out with him again. He’s so sweet!” Jill raves as she sits down her bed.
“Yeah, I know…” a dazed-looking Brooke replies, “he’s a dream, isn’t he?”
Oh, brother… I push the covers away and sit up slowly, trying not to make any noise so they won’t notice me.
“Hello, Max. I didn’t know you were here…” greets Hera. Oops, spotted.
“Didn’t you go to Hogsmeade today?” asks Lucy.
“No,” I croak.
“Have you just been sleeping all this time?” Jill butts in.
“No,” I deny.
“The bulgy eyes and croaky voice tell otherwise,” concludes Brooke. Since when is she the know-it-all?
“Oh, you noticed,” I murmur sarcastically.
“Don’t mind her,” Jill tells Brooke. “Come on; let’s get ready for the feast.”
I have been the last to use the shower and yet I am the first to be ready to go down to the Great Hall. It seems Jill and Brooke has influenced Hera and Lucy when it comes to make-up.
I come down to the common room to hear the excited murmurs of students about the Halloween Feast. Not a bad idea letting Jen do all the planting after all. I squeeze my way through a crowd of students filing out of the portrait, stepping over a few small feet, but finally being able to pass through.
The site of the Great Hall leaves me breathless. The majestic ceiling reflects the clear night sky outside. Where there used to be floating candles, there are floating pumpkin lanterns. The lights are dim, setting the perfect ambience for Halloween. You just got to love Hogwarts Halloween.
“Excuse me,” whispers a female voice from behind me.
“Oh, I’m sorry…” I say, thinking I am blocking the way. Taking a better look at the decorations, I start making my way to the Gryffindor table.
“No, Max Sullivan, wait!” calls the voice from behind me. I stop and turn, as soon as I hear my name. A girl with wavy brown hair approaches me from the crowd. Up close, I recognize her as Jen’s friend and Oliver’s partner, Althea Donovan.
What could be the matter?“Hi, Althea, is there something wrong?” I ask.
“Yes, actually,” she answers flatly. “Max, I’m sorry to tell you this, but something happened to Jen at Hogsmeade earlier today that she can't plant your seeds tonight.”
“Oh my, what happened to her?” I ask again, suddenly feeling concern for Jen.
“Well, a Slytherin boy hit her with a hair-growing curse on the face when she accidentally bumped into him in the streets. She’s at the hospital wing right now…” she explains quite timidly.
Those blasted Slytherins. “Is she going to be alright?”
“She is fine. Madam Pomfrey already gave her the necessary potions. She just needs to rest and, well… wait for the hair to go away.”
“She wanted me to give you this,” she says as she hands me the bag where Jen kept the Mandrake seeds, “and this, your permission note to go outside,” she finishes, handing me a piece of parchment with curly writing.
I take the bag and parchment from her hand and give her a smile. “Tell Jen not to worry, I’ll get this done. Tell her to get well soon, too.”
“I will,” she answers.
“By the way, do you happen to know where I should plant this? Should I just plant it at any greenhouse?” I ask hesitantly. It’s Jen’s fault I don’t know a thing. She always says not to worry about it and that she got it all figured out. Well, look at her now, she’s at the hospital wing all hairy.
“Actually, I don’t know anything about it too…” she answers shyly.
What?! “Aren’t you planting yours?”
“I’m not planting it. But, Wood will. He w—”
“Wood?!” I say louder than I should, cutting her off. No, you got to be kidding me… Not Oliver.
“Uh… yeah,” she assures. “He’s waiting for you at the Entrance Hall now, actually.”
My grip on the bag and the parchment tightens as I shut my eyes, praying hard that this is all a bad dream and that I am still asleep. When I open my eyes and Althea is still standing in front of me with a puzzled look on her face, this is it. It’s not a dream.
“Go. Then maybe you can still have time to catch up with the feast,” Althea suggests, gesturing me to the door.
“A-a-aren’t you coming?” I ask, feeling hopeless.
“Me? Oh no. Snape only issued two permission notes,” she answers reassuringly.
“But other people from other pairs are there too, right? They’re going to plant their seeds tonight with us, am I right?” I inquire again, hoping she’ll say yes. My hopes are shattered when she starts shaking her head.
“I’m afraid not. It was Jen who discovered it’s best to plant the seeds before the full moon and she told me. I don’t think other pairs know about it,” Althea states knowingly.
What?! “Maybe I should tell them then…” I dismiss the thought, eyeing the Gryffindor table.
“Don’t. This is an edge. It’s a good thing that we are the only ones who knew about this. Don’t you want to have a better potion than others?” she asks, holding on to my robes as I attempt on going after Percy as he passes by.
Groaning, I give in and let Althea carefully push me out the doors. “Don’t worry, Wood will be there,” she says, beaming at me.
That is actually what I don’t like about this whole thing. It’s better if I’m alone. With one last wave, Althea vanishes through the thick crowd of students and in no time, I find myself alone outside the Great Hall.
What would I give to be in Jen’s shoes now? It’s better to have a hairy face than to spend a Halloween night with…
“There you are. I’ve been waiting for you at the Entrance Hall,” Oliver declares his presence. I turn to him and find him all smiles. It’s that smile again… At that moment, I want nothing more than to wipe that freaky smile off his face.
“Come on,” he says.
When I finally realize there’s no way out of this and that I am – unfortunately – really going out with him, I say in a groan, “I’ll just go grab my coat…”
A/N: I’m very sorry that it took me two months to update. I just love this story so much that I really tried to find time to write this little by little. For those of you who read my other stories, I’m also trying to write updates for those, so don’t worry. :)
I still appreciate reviews, so if you have time, kindly leave one. :) I may not be able to reply to them all anymore, but if you have any questions or clarifications, I’ll be glad to answer them.
Something to think about for the next chapter : Do you remember what happened on Halloween during Harry’s Third Year (Prisoner of Azkaban)? The next chapter will revolve around that concept. *winkwink*
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…
A/N: Beta-ed Version. Courtesy of the BBWF (Best Beta in the World of Fanfiction), Margot~ =)
“Ow!” he complains, rubbing the spot. He still seems to be really sleepy and tired to respond to my sudden outburst. He slowly stands up, picking up the bunched up Quidditch robe that he used as his pillow.
“I-I said yes, you perverted bastard!”
“Well... a little,” he starts. My mouth falls open once again, but before I start to scream he quickly adds, “But of course, that goes without saying, right? I mean, how could I possibly change your clothes if I had my eyes closed? Plus, I didn’t look on purpose, b-but, but…” He gulps. “Yeah, I saw a little,” he finishes, wiping a little sweat from his forehead.
Oh, what won’t I give just to be struck by lightning now and just DIE. I bury my face in my palms and quickly turn away from Oliver. Please, let me die. Kill me, just kill me now. Better yet, suck my soul out. Where are the Dementors when you need them?
WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER ABOUT WHAT OLIVER THINKS ABOUT MY KNEES?!
“I’m sorry for… you know, earlier. For kicking you in the… well… sorry,” I apologize sincerely.
He tries to smile. “It’s alright. I just never thought your knees would be that strong. I mean, they were kind of small and…”
“Oliver,” I interrupt, “let’s not talk about my knees please.” Anything but my knees, I beg you!
“You shouldn’t have done that! You should’ve just pulled me across the mud! Really, I wouldn’t mind at all!” I tell him. Although, honestly, if he actually did that, I would’ve cursed him to oblivion. He laughs out loud. It’s the first time I actually hear him laugh. His laughter is cute— I mean, nice— I mean, loud. His laughter is loud.
I swear to Merlin, I may be as red as a ripe tomato now, after all that has just burst out of my big mouth. I dare not look at Oliver, but I know he can see that my ears have turned scarlet as well.
“Wow.” I hear him say. “Thanks…”
My eyes may be playing games with me, but I think I see a twinkle in his eyes. Well, of course your eyes are playing games, Max. Those twinkle-in-the-eye things are so cliché. Uh… right.
Oliver slowly lifts an arm and pats my shoulders gently. I am surprised at the contact at first, but eventually welcome it.
“Thanks,” he mutters softly. “But let me tell you this. I am not and won’t be like him.”
WHOA. Uhm... I mean, we’re just sitting there. That’s all. Erase all those cheesy-sounding stuff in the end. Erase! Erase! Erase!
A/N: Sorry for the long wait! But oh well, I hope you like this chapter. Anyway, I want to thank HermioneG for making this update possible. It was after reading her wonderful story that I realize how much I miss writing my own. This chapter is for her. :)
So there, let me know what you think! I have already started writing the next chapter so the wait won't be that long. ~Trish
Too Much in Too Little Time
“So you and Oliver were together the whole night?”
“Don’t try to change the subject, Jill. I’m asking—”
“Just the two of you, in the Quidditch locker rooms?” she interrupts again, for what seems like the tenth time that Monday morning, one night after that uhm… locked-out thing. We sneaked in early Sunday morning to find out that Sirius Black caused such a ruckus that no one even noticed we were missing. I guess it was better that way, or else I’d be hearing rumors about me and Oliver. It’s enough dealing with Jill and Brooke. Like now, when they seem not to be listening to me!
“That’s not what we’re talking about—” I try to say.
“Elaborate! We want to know details!” Now, Brooke butts in. Great. She clutches my arm and starts to shake me.
“What did you talk about? What did you do the whole night?” Jill starts barraging me with questions as she grabs my other arm and begins to shake me as well. Why, oh why did I tell these two about last night? Why?!
“How was he? Was he a gentleman?” Brooke instigates as well, continuously shaking me. Someone save me!
“Did you hold hands?” Jill’s turn again. “Did you kiss?!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I finally spit back, as I release myself from their deadly grasps. “There was absolutely no kissing! You two are disgusting!”
These two are out of the minds!
“And please do not change the subject now. I was asking why you two never even thought to look for me the other night! I mean, you’re supposed to be the only two people bothering about my existence here! I was expecting you to at least wonder where I was!” Now, starts my rant. “Especially you, Jill. Brooke, I kind of understand why she won’t go look for me, but you? You’re supposed to be my cousin! Didn’t you even wonder where I was that night? Did you even notice I was gone?”
Both of them are speechless, although every now and then, they throw each other nervous looks.
“What? Answer me!” I demand, feeling rather disappointed. Am I too harsh with the two of them that they don’t care about me anymore? That they even didn’t go looking for me when I was obviously missing? Am I too hard on them?
Finally, Jill opens her mouth to speak. “I-I’m sorry. There was just too much going on that night, with Sirius Black slashing the Fat Lady’s portrait and all of us ordered to sleep in the Great Hall a-and the castle being searched… I know it’s not much of an excuse and that I, of all people, should’ve really looked for you, so I’m really sorry. We’re sorry, Maxie,” she finishes, extending her arms to give me a hug.
“Yeah, I’m sorry too,” Brooke adds as she hugs me along with Jill. They mumble another apology as they squeeze me so tightly that I can hardly breathe.
“Okay, okay. I forgive you! Just please, release me now… can’t breathe!” I beg.
“You really forgive us?” Jill asks, not letting go and tightening the embrace. My face is now covered with their hairspray-filled hair – that I can’t take the odor of – so I hold my breath.
“Yes, yes! Just please, enough with this…” I plead, gasping for breath. I can barely get the words out of my mouth. Need some air!
“Promise?” Brooke asks, not loosening her hold.
“I promise!” I cry out.
“Okay!” they chorus cheerfully, releasing me finally. I catch my breath as I massage the spots where they tried to squish me alive. That hurt.
“Don’t do that again ever. I mean, the hugging-me-to-death thing,” I say, sounding a little fearful. I seriously never thought they can do that kind of thing to get what they want. They have some grip! Mental Note, never make Jill and Brooke apologize for something ever again. I don’t think I can handle another bone-breaking embrace like that.
“Yeah, sure…” Brooke chuckles, in a very sarcastic way. I roll my eyes.
“Now,” Jill purses her lips, as she sits down an armchair and crosses her legs, “about Oliver…”
“Oh, no, we’re not talking about him,” I snap, immediately backing away to the direction of the portrait hole, hoping for a quick escape.
“Why not?” Brooke and Jill groan, coming closer to me. I quickly turn for a swift run to the portrait hole, not bothering to answer their question. “Hey, where are you going?” I hear one of them ask but I don’t reply. Instead, I hurriedly reach the portrait and run out.
When I am about a good ten feet away from the dormitories, I look back. Seeing that neither of them followed me, I sigh in relief. Whew! That was so close. I can only imagine the squealing and the screaming I will hear if I tell them what really happened. I can also only wonder how Jill will tell me, ‘I told you so’ and how she is right all along. Spare me, please.
Descending the stairs to the Great Hall, I put my hands in my robe pockets when I feel something in there. Oh, of course… I stop walking as I carefully pull out a fresh pack of toffees, the pack of toffees that has been intentionally hidden in depths of my trunk for over a month now. Yes, the toffees from Oliver. Well, I ran out of sweets. Really, I did.
I carefully open it and shove one to my mouth. Hmm… not so bad. A bit sweeter than most toffees I’ve tasted and trust me, I’ve tried almost every kind there is.
I continue walking, absently shooting another toffee in my mouth as I look out the huge windows of Hogwarts. The weather still hasn’t improved; still gloomy and cold. It is the afternoon, but it doesn’t look like it, since it is darker than usual. The Forbidden Forest isn’t even visible through the thick fog, and the surface of the Great Lake isn’t mirror-like and smooth like it usually is.
I hear brisk footsteps from behind me, but I do not turn, and continue to contemplate on how dismal Hogwarts looks in this weather. I wish it would be spring soon.
“Max?” says someone from behind me. I whirl around to see Oliver, smiling, of course, and holding his broom over one shoulder.
“Oh, hi…” I respond, grinning awkwardly. So yeah, we’re on speaking terms. Ever since the other night, he greets me and I greet him whenever we see each other in class or during meal times. We haven’t really talked about anything, just the usual ‘hi’ ‘hello’ ‘hey’ thing. It’s not like there is something to talk about anyway, right?
“What are you doing here?” he asks, taking a step closer.
“Uhm, nothing. Just walking around,” I answer.
“I see.” He nods in understanding. “How are you? You didn’t catch cold because of the other night, did you?” he adds.
“Oh, no. I’m fine,” I assure him, looking anywhere but his face. “You?”
“I’m alright too. Although my arms and shoulders do feel kind of sore from carrying you, you know…” he replies, massaging his shoulder a little. I just blink at him, disbelieving. Please tell me you’re kidding, Oliver. Please. Do you want me to start yelling at you again?
As if reading my thoughts, he immediately takes it back. “I was kidding! I’m okay. Nothing sore whatsoever.”
I try to look amused at his – really – not funny joke, unintentionally scrunching up the pack of toffees I hold in my hands. Oliver’s gaze quickly shifts to it. Realizing what I just did, I hastily try to hide the toffees behind my back, but it’s too late. I’m sure he already saw it. Oh, no.
“Were those…?” he wonders, looking amazed.
“What?” I reply, playing dumb. I’m really no good with this thing.
“You know,” he coos, jerking his head as if telling me ‘It’s obvious. Don’t try to hide it anymore’. I shake my head vaguely, “the toffees I gave you.”
I feel my face flush in embarrassment. Why didn’t I just tell him the truth? It would’ve been much easier. I bow down to hide my blush but don’t reply when I hear him chuckle.
“I think it was over a month ago since I asked your cousin to give that to you for me,” he states thoughtfully, reaching out to grab the toffees from behind me. I am too embarrassed to even prevent him from getting the pack. Geez Max, what’s happening to you? I curse myself inside.
I still don’t look up, but I can see from the corners of my eyes that Oliver’s examining the bag. Regaining my composure, I quickly snatch the bag from him and say, “I just opened it.”
“Oh, that’s why there’s still too many,” he croons. “Can I… maybe have some?” he asks.
I look at him, wondering if he is serious. And it looks like he really is. “Uh, sure…” I reply dumbly, as I take a handful of toffees from the bag and hand it to him.
He pockets the toffees and smiles. “Thanks. I hope it gives me extra energy for Quidditch practice later,” he says, looking at me suggestively.
I feel like I have to say something, since he looks like he’s waiting for me to say something. Weird. I clear my throat as I wrack my mind for a reply. “Uhm… so you have practice? In this weather?”
“Yeah. I mean, we need to get used to these conditions, since it seems like the weather won’t be better for the next couple of days,” he answers quite enthusiastically. Of course, we’re talking about Quidditch here, dummy.
He gives me the look again, waiting for me to say something more. Why is he doing this?! “Oh… uhm… that’s good.” That’s the best I can come up with. I don’t know why, but my mind seems to just wipe itself blank. “So uhm, good luck,” I add, so as to not to sound really stupid.
“Thanks,” he utters shyly, looking down on his feet. And then – awkward silence. Realyl awkward silence. He shifts his weight from foot to foot while I continue to play with the toffees in my hand. Got to say something!
“So—” we both mumble at the same time. Oh, Merlin, just when things can’t get any more awkward, it does.
He sniggers. “Okay, go first…”
“Oh, uhm, I just thought… uh… maybe your team is already waiting for you?” I say, looking unsure.
He nods in understanding. “Oh, yeah, maybe they are. I think I better be off then. So, I guess I’ll just see you around?”
“Yeah, sure.” I guess. He jerks his head once more as he turns to his heels and starts walking. Before he rounds the corner, he whirls around. “Thanks for the toffees,” he says. I respond with a small wave, and then he is gone.
I let out a long breath of relief as I slowly turn around to face the window again, my mouth open. Thank goodness that’s over. But what just happened there, Max?? What just happened there?
“Hmm… Did you witness all that, Brookie?” says a taunting voice behind me.
“Yes, I’ve seen all of that, Jillie. How about you?” Brooke replies, in an equally teasing tone. Oh, no, what are they doing here? They didn’t…?
“Oh, of course I did. That was quite a show,” Jill says loudly as she places an arm around me. “You know, Max. I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but… I told you so.”
If I could just apparate within Hogwarts walls, I’d be in China right now, or anywhere where not even the shadow of Brooke or Jill is visible.
“Please, Jill,” I plead, “save it.”
“Not until you tell us details!” Brooke sings out, crossing her arms and tapping her foot.
“There’s nothing to tell!” I insist. Oliver and I just slept on one bench, then he changed my clothes when I was unconscious, then I told him about my father, what’s there to say? Oh—kay, so there’s a lot to say, but I would rather die than tell all that to Brooke and Jill.
“Stop lying, Max. You were obviously flirting with Oliver a while ago, so please, cut the crap that ‘there’s nothing to tell’”! Jill gloats as she rolls her eyes.
I just stare at her disbelievingly. Did I hear her right? Me? Flirting?? I don’t even get what the hell that word means, for crying out loud! “Oh no, you didn’t just say that I was flirting—”
“She just did and she’s right, so just spill,” Brooke supports.
“I told you, there’s nothing going on and I wasn’t flirting!” I fume, waving a finger at Jill. I shrug Jill’s arm from my shoulder as I begin to walk away.
“Oh no, you’re not escaping again,” Brooke chortles as she stands in my way. She’s testing my patience, huh? I snigger as I reach for my wand.
“Get out of my way if you don’t want to end up shaving your legs and armpits every single day for the rest of your life,” I hiss through gritted teeth, looking straight at her with my wand out. “I’m bloody serious,” I add, when she doesn’t move a muscle. Jill pulls Brooke out of my way immediately, probably seeing that I am really mad. If they were just more careful with their words, I might have actually told them
I stomp away, turning to look at them again before I descend the stairs. “And stop following me around!” I say.
Sighing, I ominously make my way down the stairs. Why are they so good at pissing me off? Merlin, I try my best to understand how their minds work, but I just don’t! Heaven knows how much I try to be good to them, but they’re always pushing me to the limit! Argh!
“What now?” I growl, without even thinking.
“Oh, okay. I’ll just talk to you later,” replies a timid-looking Jen. Whoops.
“Oh, no, wait. I’m sorry,” I quickly apologize, gently clutching her by the arms before she turns. “I just thought you were someone else. What’s the matter? How are you?” I ask, examining her face. Her skin looks kind of dull and pale, but almost hair-free. There are still some obvious stubble on her cheeks and nose.
She blushes as she replies, “I’m fine now. Madame Pomfrey was able to treat it, thankfully. Although I still need to do Shaving Spells for the next couple of days…”
“Oh, that’s good,” I say, feeling rather sorry for her. “So what happened to the person who did that to you? I mean, did he get punishment for it?”
“Yeah, he was given a month’s worth of detention and fifty points was taken from his house.”
“He deserves more,” I huff. Those Slytherins really have to get a life.
“Yeah, I guess…” she says. “So, uhm… how did the planting go?”
Of course, the planting! How could I forget? “It went well. The stench of the Greenhouse can kill you if you stay longer than ten minutes, but thank goodness I survived, and the seeds got planted properly,” I articulate.
“That’s nice to hear,” she replies as she bites her lower lip. It seems like she still has things to say, so I look at her, waiting for her to speak. “Uhm, I’m sorry about leaving you to do it,” she says, looking down at her shoes.
“Come on, Jen. You were sick. It was fine. Don’t worry,” I assure her.
“Well, it’s not just the planting part, actually. Also the part that you have to spend time alone with…” she pauses. “Oliver,” she mumbles almost inaudibly, still not looking at me.
So that’s it. “Oh,” is all I am able to say. Well, how should I reply?
“Yeah,” she says, “I remember you telling me you don’t like him that much, and so I’m sorry if—”
“It’s nothing,” I cut in. “I mean, yeah, going out on Halloween night alone with Wood was a mortifying thought at first, but it’s okay. He isn’t so bad. He was a huge help, actually,” I finish, bobbing my head a little.
Jen lets out a faint snigger, then speaks, “I see… so do you mean to say… uhm… well, I was wondering if you… you know, like him now?”
Alright, time to stop playing dumb. “Not in the way you’re thinking,” I answer casually.
She finally looks at me with a confused look on her face. “W-what? I’m not thinking anything,” she denies, of course.
“Okay, so, yeah, I finally realize that Oliver wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be and yes, I like him now.” I see her eyes widen as I speak, so I quickly add, “But definitely not the same way that you like him.”
She opens her mouth in surprise as she starts shaking her head. “Oh, no, Max, you got it all wrong. I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she insists, though her profuse blushing is already giving her away.
“Come on, Jen. I know you’ve been fancying Oliver for the longest time. It’s not like I don’t see you when we’re in class together. I may be thick sometimes, but I’m not blind,” I tell her. Just please admit it, Jen.
She looks around, probably making sure that no one can overhear and then back at me. She bites her lower lip once more as she shifts her weight from one foot to the other. Then, finally, she asks, “Am I that obvious already?”
I can’t help but chuckle. “I don’t know,” I reply truthfully. I really don’t know how I knew. Maybe because she’s been acting so weird?
She moves closer to me and whispers, “Fine. I like him, but please keep it a secret, Max. I beg you!” See? She’s acting weird again.
“Sure,” I answer, shrugging. She lets out a sigh of relief and is about to speak again when someone interrupts.
“Jen!” calls a female voice. We both turn around and see Althea, waving.
“Yeah, hang on, I’ll be right there,” Jen yells back. She faces me again and mutters a soft ‘Thank you’, then runs of to where Althea is. She looks back one last time to wave goodbye, which I absentmindedly return.
And then, I am alone again. What a day. Now that I look back on what just happened to me during the last hour, I’m surprised I’m still sane. Just imagine, Jill and Brooke, Oliver, Jill and Brooke again, and then Jen. I can’t remember a more eventful hour in my life!
I sigh as I whirl around to make my way back to the common room. I just hope Brooke and Jill have already gone out to dinner so I’ll have peace. I continue to walk, feeling quite… down. I don’t know why, really. I’m sure it’s not because of my fight with Brooke and Jill. Come on. And there wasn’t anything that Oliver said that could’ve made me feel this way. In fact, I’m happy that I talked to him, for some reason. So that leaves Jen, then… Can it be something that Jen said?
But Jen only admitted to fancying Oliver, and I’ve known about that almost from the very first day we met.
But, maybe, hearing it straight from Jen’s mouth is what’s bothering me. But it was me who wanted her to finally admit it. But I never actually thought she would!
But, but, but… Gah!
What’s happening to me?
A/N: Beta-ed version! LOL. I forgot that I haven't posted the beta-ed version yet because I was feeling lazy to add the italics tags since I used the new editor in uploading this. It's done now. Beta-ed, of course, by the amazing Margot :)
Time to Spill
Merlin, my head hurts…
I nearly bump into a little first year girl as I make my way to the Great Hall for breakfast. Yesterday’s events were too much for my brain that it kept me awake till around four! Then the next thing I know, it’s already seven and it’s time to wake up. It’s really weird since I don’t even know why I can’t keep those thoughts out of my mind! Jen’s revelations, Oliver and I talking…
I don’t like being sleep deprived. It’s the worst feeling in the whole world. You are dizzy at first, then you turn hyper around the middle of the day, then in the end, it’s like you don’t even have energy to even speak. This morning’s just the beginning, so I’m dizzy. Gosh, who knows what I can do once I’m hyper. I have to keep away from my sweets today. Urgh… I’ll body-bind myself if I have to.
“You look a little off today.” Jill points out once I reach the Gryffindor table. I carelessly slump myself on an empty space beside her. “Something wrong? Are you sick?”
“I’m fine.” I reply with a yawn, reaching for a piece of toast, spreading quite a good amount of jam on it then absently shove it in my mouth.
“If you say so,” Jill says as she cuts her pancakes. “Herbology class’s cancelled, by the way.” She adds.
“What?” I scowl. I woke up early despite sleeping so late to find out my first class is cancelled?!
“I was half-expecting that would happen,” Brooke answers, “We can’t possibly go out of the castle in this weather.” She looks out the huge Great Hall windows and I follow her gaze. Indeed, it’s raining like it has never rained before. My mind is clouded with thoughts I didn’t even notice the loud roar of thunder outside.
“Is that so?” I ask, dropping my toast on the plate. Brooke and Jill nod. “Alright, see you lot later.” I say, immediately standing up then heading for the door. Good thing I didn’t have coffee yet.
“Where are you going?” Jill shouts from behind me.
“Sleep!” I shout back without turning. I have to hurry while I’m still a bit dizzy. It won’t be long till I’m hyper and by then, I can’t sleep anymore! I turn towards the direction of the stairs when I run into a red-haired, Jen.
“Hey!” she greets in the most joyous way, stopping on the sight of me.
“Hey,” I reply with the best smile I can muster, my pace not slowing down a bit.
“Wait, Max. I want to talk to you about something…” she immediately says, watching me pass by her, “It’s about—”
I really don’t want to have this conversation now. “I’m sorry Jen, but it’s a bad time.” I blurt out in all honestly.
“It is?” she asks, her tone obviously not cheerful anymore.
“Yes. See yah!” I quickly respond, ascending the stairs with not even a second glance on Jen. I still have six sets of stairs to climb. I really have to hurry. But as if fate is playing with me, just before I turn for the next flight of stairs, Oliver arrives with his quidditch things and all.
“Oh, hey Max…” he says, sounding a bit surprised. Then upon catching a glimpse of his smiling face – and for a really unknown reason! – I stop dead right in front of him.
“Where are you going?” he asks, stepping down so as to be in the same level as I am. I open my mouth and am about to reply when I remember something… or someone!
I slowly tilt my head towards the bottom of the stairs to find Jen, standing quietly and but obviously listening and looking intently at Oliver and I. Great. Now she’s probably thinking ‘look at Max, she didn’t even stop to talk to me then she stops automatically for Oliver’. Great. Just Great. What do I do now?
“Max?” Oliver repeats.
“Sleep.” I answer, looking at him again and saying the first thing on my mind.
“What?” he asks.
“I’m going back to sleep. Bye!” I add, resuming my pace towards the Gryffindor tower, not waiting for him to reply. Merlin, I must’ve sounded really stupid!
“Hang on, Max.” Oliver says, quickly grabbing on my arm, pulling me back. Good Lord, Oliver! What the hell are you doing?
“What now?” I bellow, losing my patience. Jen’s watching, I’ll be hyper soon! I have to reach the dorms as fast as I can!
“You have a…” he starts, pointing his finger to something on his lips, gesturing something that my sleep deprived mind cannot grasp at the moment.
“I have a what?” I ask, trying to sound irritated as I see Jen still watching in the corner of my eye.
Oliver snickers, “Never mind.” he says. He puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out a handkerchief. “Here, I’ll take care of it.” He adds, slowly raising his hand towards my face. My eyes grow wide as I turn towards where Jen is watching and saw her mouth agape.
What do I do? Oliver’s hand is getting nearer and nearer and I think Jen’s jaws are hurting because of how wide her mouth is open. Then, with absolutely no thinking at all, I scream.
“STOP!” I quickly slap Oliver’s hand away. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You have some red stuff on your lip.” Oliver responds, obviously caught off guard. “I was just…” he trails off, looking at the handkerchief on his hand.
I have a what? I reach for my lips and feel something sticky on it. I lick my lips and recognize the taste right away, the jam. Damn. I knew I put to much on that toast.
“Oh,” I reply, feeling my cheeks grow hot. I avoid Oliver’s gaze at all cost and whisper, “I’m sorry.” Then without another word, I turn to my heel and start walking away, silently cursing myself.
“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!” I scold myself as I jump on my bed, burying my head on my pillow. I heave a deep sigh as I stare out the dark clouds outside. I can’t possibly sleep now. Aside from the fact that I’m way pass the dizzy stage, I have just bumped into the two persons that kept me awake last night.
The scene with Oliver flash on my mind once again and I can’t help but cover my face with my pillow and start wailing and squirming uncontrollably on my bed. “Why does Jen have to be there? Why didn’t she just walk away when I ignored her?” I think aloud. “And why do I have to stop when I saw Oliver? What has come over me? Why didn’t I just ignore him just like what I did with Jen? Why, Max, Why?” I know I really sound crazy talking to myself right now, but I’m far too angry with myself to even care.
I stare out the window again, thinking about the other possible things that I could’ve up done to save myself from what happened earlier. I don’t know what’s happening to me lately. It has just been three days since Oliver and I were locked up and ever since then it’s like everything’s been happening in fast forward. Even I am finding a hard time to keep up!
I roll over my bed and find myself staring at my own reflection on Brooke’s wall mirror on the wall. I look like a mess. My light brown hair is sporting a just-got-out-of-bed look and I have dark circles around my eyes. My complexion has always been pale and I have virgin eyebrows, never been touched since birth. They’re not really bushy but Jill has always told me that I will look much better if I just pluck them. Or if I let her pluck them. I can still remember how she tried to pluck my eyebrows while I’m asleep back in second year. Good thing I was a light sleeper. Ha!
“Who would want a girl like you?” I ask myself. I snigger as I remembered that earlier, this ugly face I’m staring at right now in the mirror also has jam on her lip. “A guy would be out of his mind to date you.”
Damn it. What the hell am I saying?! I pull the hangings close around my bed to block Brooke’s mirror from view. I crawl towards the edge of my bed nearest the window and pull my pillow closer to my chest.
“I think…” I say in whisper and a deep breath, “I like Oliver.”
“I thought having classes would be fun.” Jill declares as she noisily enters the room. I have been staring out the window all this time that I am unaware of how much time has already passed.
“I know,” Brooke agrees. I hear her bed creak as she sits on it. “It’s so boring. Having no classes is no fun at all.”
“I agree one-hundred percent.” I butt in with a hoarse voice, making my presence known.
“Max, you scared us!” Jill says as she pulls my hangings open to see me sprawled on my bed. “I thought you’re going back to sleep.”
I roll over my bed so they finally see my face. The anterior part of my body feels numb because of the long time I have been laying face down. “Tried. Can’t.” I simply answer.
Jill shrugs as she sits herself beside Brooke. They start to talk in hushed but obviously excited voices. Of what? I don’t really know or care. It’s probably about boys again. I mean it’s like ALL they talk about anyway. It’s really a wonder why they never ran out of boy topics to talk about. I think they’ve already talked about every single guy here in Hogwarts. I actually suspect they have been keeping a record of all those they dated somewhere here in the dormitory.
Watching Brooke and Jill now giggling like mad, a thought comes to my mind. No, wait. Forget it. It’s ridiculous. Is it really? Come on, of all people, why them? They can help. Jill can, but Brooke? Do you really want to tell her? Right, not Brooke. Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?!
I clear my throat and catch both their attention. “Uhm, Jill… can I… uhm… talk to you about… uhm… something?” Here goes nothing.
“Sure, what is it?” Jill replies, obviously not getting the idea that is sort of personal. I do not reply as I focus my gaze on Brooke, hoping she can catch my drift.
“What is it, Max?” Brooke asks, clearly unaware that I intend to talk to Jill alone.
“Actually, it’s kind of a… personal…ah… family thing that I want to talk about.” I lie. Now please, Brooke, go!
“Oh,” Jill understands. She turns to Brooke and says, “Uhm, Brookie, can you please give Max and me a moment?”
Brooke still seems lost and confuse. But after a few moments, she nods and slowly makes her way out of the room. Alright, Max. Now, let’s do this.
Jill stands up from Brooke’s bed and sits down on my bed. “So what’s the problem?”
I stare at her, wondering how she will react on what I will be confiding with her. She will squeal. That’s a given. I’m sure she will also say ‘I knew it!’ and start her rave of how she has the makings of great seer. Please, Jill. I just hope you hear me out first. I silently pray.
I inhale and exhale deeply and start, “I think…” Jill is obviously hanging on every word coming out of my mouth. I close my eyes and just blurt it out, “I like Oliver.” Now, she’ll squeal so loud that the whole dorm will hear and people will think that a howler has been opened.
But to my surprise, I hear nothing but the hard pounding of the rain and the whistling of the strong winds outside. What, no squealing? I open one of my tightly shut eyes and found Jill with a knowing smile.
“And…?” she asks, as she scoots closer to me, excitement evident in her tone.
I must admit I’m relieved that Jill didn’t squeal. I know she’s just containing it and she’s like a time bomb ready to explode at any moment so I really have to choose my words really carefully.
I take another deep breath as I start to tell Jill everything, from the events of Halloween night, to Jen admitting her feelings about Oliver, to what happened earlier today. Once I started, it seems like it’s hard to stop. The words just spill out of my mouth like vomit. Okay, that’s an icky way to put it, but yes, it’s like that.
Jill stays quiet as I tell her the story. She nods and says ‘then?’ every once in a while but she hasn’t commented about anything I’ve disclosed so far. It is like she is absorbing everything and is just listening intently.
When I finally finish, I just wait for her to speak. Jill’s expression was unreadable. It looks like she is deep in thought while being excited at the same time. And then finally, she smiles as she nods in understanding.
“So now,” she speaks, “You don’t know what to do because you like Oliver and Jen likes Oliver too?”
I nod. Yeah, I think that is what’s keeping me up last night.
“And you don’t want to show interest in Oliver in fear of hurting Jen’s feelings?”
I nod again. Jill’s really an expert.
“Hmm…” she wonders, putting a finger on her chin, “I bet you’re thinking of just avoiding Oliver completely, am I right?”
Hey, how did she know that? I hesitate at first but eventually nod in affirmation.
Jill rolls her eyes then she shakes her head, “Listen to me, Max…” she says, “Don’t do that! Are you silly?”
“But why?” I ask, “It’s the only solution I can think of right now.”
Jill straightens up and puts both of her hands on my shoulder. “Max, you don’t need a solution to this because it is definitely not your problem. If you do that you’ll just be hurting yourself and Oliver!”
“Whoa, Jill, hang on. We don’t know if Oliver likes me or not so don’t go jumping into conclusions that he does, okay?” I interject.
Jill rolls her eyes and replies, “I knew it. I can’t believe we’re back in this discussion again.” She lets go of my shoulders and flips her hair back. “Oliver likes you, Max! Why don’t you just believe that?”
“Let it go. I’m not going to believe what you’re saying just because you predicted it.” I dismiss.
“So are you saying that Oliver likes that Jen girl? Is Oliver showing any interest at all?” she asks then purses her lips. I think about it; then shake my head. “So who, in your honest and unbiased opinion, do you think Oliver is interested in between the two of you?”
“I said enough of it, Jill. That’s not the issue here. All I’m saying is that I don’t want Jen to get hurt. I know she already got jealous when she heard the news of Oliver and I locked out last Halloween night. It got worse when she saw us talking earlier today!” I explain, hoping she gets the picture and stop all her claims of ‘Oliver likes you’.
“Then that’s her problem, not yours, Max.” she answers all-knowingly, crossing her arms. “You’re troubling yourself over nothing. It’s not your fault Oliver likes you instead of her.”
I roll my eyes and shake my head. It is very clear. Jill won’t shut up about this. I think I would rather hear her squealing loudly than all of this.
“Fine. Fine.” I say in defeat. “Now, I’ve told you this not so you can make fun of me, okay? You know I’m new to these… stuff and I just can’t think of anyone else to tell this to.”
“Aww, Maxie!” she coos as she reaches out for an embrace. “That’s so sweet. Don’t worry, I won’t make fun of you or anything. I am really excited! You have already come out of your shell!”
Shell? That’s a funny way to put it.
“Oh wait,” Jill adds instantly as she holds me in arm’s length and suddenly looking serious, “you told Oliver about your father?”
“Uh, yes.” I reply.
She thinks for a while then says, “Wow, that’s huge. Brooke doesn’t even know about your father and yet you told Oliver about it. You must really li—”
“Brooke!” a sudden realization comes to me, “Don’t tell her. Please, Jill. I beg you. I know she’s your best friend and all that but please, don’t tell her!”
Jill laughs, “Of course, silly. I won’t tell her. Blood is thicker than water. Your secret’s safe with me.” she assures.
At that moment, I suddenly felt guilt for all the things I’ve done and said to Jill these past years. She really isn’t so bad. She may have a bad taste in friends but she has always been there when I need her. Like now, I can’t imagine anyone else to whom I can share this kind of thing with. My mom and I are really close but she’s much more of a man-hater than I am.
“Thanks, Jill.” I say sincerely. “Thanks a lot.”
“You’re very much welcome.” she replies as she embraces me again. “So, want to have a game of exploding snap?”
A/N: Not beta-ed yet again. Lol. My beta hasn’t replied yet and I got the new banner so I thought I’d post it already. I’ll try to write more since it’s vacation. I can’t promise anything since I have a 200-hour internship to fulfill plus, I have summer classes. Bad, I know.
Oh! Just want to let you know that I have written another Oliver story called “His Best Girl” it’s a one-shot and it has a different girl OC. I would appreciate to hear feedback about that too since it’s my very first one-shot.
So there, lemme know what you think, ‘kay? :)
Those Invisible Strings
“Have you heard? They’re playing Hufflepuff tomorrow!” Hera broadcasts as she enters the common room closely followed by her fellow Weird Sisters-fanatic friend, Lucy, who is looking equally ecstatic. What’s the big deal? I wonder. Jill, Brooke and I are sitting around the warmth of the fire as the storm continues to rage outside.
“I thought they’ll be playing Slytherin?” Brooke asks curiously.
“Yeah, we thought so too,” Lucy replies, taking a sit at the arm of Brooke’s armchair, “but we heard the twins talking about it over dinner. They’re thinking that Snape doesn’t want his team to play in this condition.” she finishes, pointing out the heavy rains outside.
“Darn that Snape. They just know they don’t stand a chance against Gryffindor.” Jill butts in, shaking her head.
“Oh, oh!” Brooke says, her eyes suddenly shining, “do you girls know what this means?” she asks, looking from Hera, Lucy, Jill to me. What she looking at me for? I look around to see identical grins on each of the girls faces and then…
“Cedric Diggory!” they squeal in unison.
I roll my eyes and let out a sigh. Of course, Diggory, the dark-blonde Hufflepuff sixth year… Whoa, did I just say he’s dark blonde?! How I knew of his hair color is beyond me…
It takes a while before the – very loud – squealing subsides. Hera and Lucy are clapping while Brooke and Jill stand up from their seats, hold hands and start hopping. Oh brother…
“Gosh, I wonder how he would look like with his perfect hair blown by the winds…” Hera sighs dreamily. Jill and Brooke’s boy-crazy attitude is really contagious. I can’t believe I’m hearing Hera saying all these!
“I wonder how he looks like wet!” Brooke adds.
“No.” Jill objects, “What you should wonder is how he looks like with his quidditch robes hugging his perfectly toned body…”
That’s it. I do not want to be in this conversation. I lazily rise from my chair and make my way to the girls’ dorms. It is a good thing that my roommates are very busy wondering about how that guy would look like in Merlin-knows-what circumstances to even notice I am making a quick escape. I am about to ascend the stairs when the common room clock rings the familiar tune. Eight o’clock.
Eight o’clock! How can I forget?!
I quickly turn to my heels and make a run for the portrait hole. It’s Friday, check-the-potion-in-the-dungeons day! Oh no, Jen’s going to kill me… Running down the stairs, I try to think of a valid excuse to justify my tardiness, but none of them sound convincing even to me. I am actually apprehensive of seeing her tonight. Ever since that day when she caught me and Oliver talking by the stairs, we haven’t seen or talked to each other.
She might be mad. The thought of it makes me stop dead on my tracks, halfway down the stairs to the second floor. She’ll be angrier if you’re going to be late! A voice screams in my head causing me to resume walking, but in a much slower pace.
I don’t even know why I feel guilty. Jill was right. I didn’t do anything wrong. But, I don’t know… Maybe I’m feeling like this because Jen’s really been good to me and he likes this boy and I like the same boy and she liked him first and…
“So we’re both late.” someone from behind me declares, disrupting the rambles inside my head. Jen.
“Uh… yeah.” I say, slowly turning around to face her. She doesn’t look angry, but she doesn’t look not angry either. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain. Her expression is very hard to read.
“Well, let’s hurry up. We only have an hour till curfew.” she suggests. Even the tone of her voice doesn’t reveal anything. I’m sure that the usual warmth and jolly tone are gone though. Should I take that as a sign that she is mad?
Jen overtakes me and continues to descend the stairs without looking back. I follow her in trepidation. We reach the dungeons without another word said. I think I’m making things worse by actually thinking she’s mad. Maybe if I act like there’s nothing wrong, then it’ll be okay?
“So… you have the instructions?” I ask, trying to strike up a casual conversation.
“Of course.” she answers, not even looking at me. She opens the door to our potions classroom, then she reaches for her wand and mutters, “Lumos.”
Yeah, I figured that’s a dumb question. I curse myself. I take my wand out and do the same as I follow Jen towards the darker side of the classroom where our class’ bubbling cauldrons are.
“Oh, this is Weasley’s cauldron, right?” I ask again, pointing at the cauldron with the murky green liquid inside just as Jen stops in front of ours.
“I suppose.” She responds with an impatient sigh. Okay… so she’s mad. Fine, I give up with this ‘casual talk’.
“Listen, Jen,” I start, taking in a deep breath, hoping beyond hope that I will not say anything wrong, “about the other day with… you know…”
“Oliver.” she finishes for me with a sharp tone, still not looking at me. She takes a folded piece of parchment from her pocket and examines it.
“Yeah, well…” I mumble, walking towards her slowly, “what you saw, it was nothing.”
To my surprise, she snorts. “Nothing, huh? Surely didn’t look like nothing to me…” she says bitterly, casting me a glare that makes me back up a little. Scary… but no, I shouldn’t let her intimidate me. Mustering up courage again, I continue.
“Nothing happened. You know it. You were there. We just talked and—”
“Yes, and you didn’t even stop to talk to me or listen to what I had to say, but funnily, when it was Oliver, you stop dead.” she retorts sarcastically. “I am not blind, Max.”
“I was surprised when Oliver suddenly appeared in front of me. P-plus, he was on my way. Of course, I had to stop!” I try to explain, stuttering a little. She’s making me nervous! Jen takes the wooden spatula from a nearby table and I have to back up a few more steps. Oh no, she’s going to hit me.
“Then he touched your face and you just had to let him do that, am I right?” she sniggers, using the spatula to stir our potion, making me sigh with relief.
I close my eyes, praying for patience as I advance towards her again. She is stirring our potion violently; some of the contents are spilling over the sides. “I had jam on my face, Jen. If you have jam on your face right then, I would’ve stopped to remove it just for you!” I say in the calmest way I can manage.
“Oh, of course.” she replies, sarcasm oozing in her tone.
“Look, if you’re not even going to listen to my explanations then I don’t see the point of explaining it to you in the first place.” I resign, slumping myself in a nearby chair.
“I wasn’t asking you to explain anything, Max.” she spats.
“You made me feel like I need to. You were being cold to me since we met up this evening. I don’t even see you around the school anymore. You are clearly avoiding me and I just want things to be okay between us because we’re working on this project for the rest of the year. I don’t want us not talking just because of a boy! That’s just stupid, Jen.” I elucidate, hoping she will just lighten up.
Jen doesn’t answer. It actually seems like she doesn’t hear me at all. She continues stirring the potion, the expression on her face not revealing anything. This is hopeless.
“Fine, be like that.” I dismiss, standing up from the chair and turning away to leave. I’m done explaining. She doesn’t have to talk to me ever, if that’s what she wants. To hell with Snape’s project.
“Do you like Oliver?” she suddenly asks, the sound of voice seemingly calm.
I stand there with my back to her. It is like I’m glued to the spot and I can’t move; her question ringing in my head like an ever-repeating echo… Do I like Oliver?
“Tell me, Max. Do you like Oliver?” she repeats in a more demanding tone.
“No.” I lie, trying my best to keep my voice from quivering. I slowly turn to face her. “No, I don’t like him.” I repeat, sounding a bit firmer than the first time. She stares at my face, clearly examining if I’m telling the truth. “Isn’t that what you wanted to hear?” I ask.
“What I want to hear is the truth.” she replies.
“Then you got it.” I assure her, not breaking our eye contact. For a while, we are just standing there, staring unblinkingly as if we’re trying to out-stare each other. I look back at her, repeating the lie inside my head. Maybe if I keep telling that to myself, I’ll eventually convince myself too. The tension between us thickening by the second and I don’t know how I can keep this staring game up. After a few more agonizing seconds, she looks at the floor and bites her lower lip.
“Read this. I can’t figure out instruction number three-hundred and forty-two.” she breaks the silence, tossing me the parchment.
I am barely able to catch the parchment due to the sudden turn of the events. But, not wanting to let what happened earlier repeat itself, I simply nod and read through the huge inkblots of the tattered parchment.
The rest of the night is uneventful. After the confrontation, it’s like nothing happened at all. Which is really good. I’m glad to be in speaking terms with Jen again. But, I still have one problem to solve if I want to keep this up. How do I deal with Oliver now?
Jen and I part in front of the Great Hall with only five minutes to spare before curfew. She makes her way towards the Ravenclaw Tower at the west end of the castle as I begin my trudge towards the seventh floor.
On my way up, I can’t help but think of how complicated things have become ever since I’ve acknowledge the fact that I do like Oliver. Now, I can’t seem to keep a straight face when I see him. It’s like there are invisible strings pulling the ends of my lips to a smile. I mean, hello?! That’s so not like me. It gives me goosebumps just recalling those instances.
I sigh. This is exactly the reason why mum told me to keep away from boys. I just wished I actually listened to her.
“Bloody hell, my shoulder hurts.” I hear a Weasley twin complain as I enter the common room just as the clock strikes curfew.
“How do you suppose we can play well tomorrow if you worked us like house-elves at practice today?” the other Weasley twin declares.
“It’s a good practice, at least your muscles are very much flexed now.” Oliver answers, a tired but happy smile plastered on his face. The Gryffindor Quidditch team is sitting around the fire, all dripping wet, muddy and evidently very tired.
“Flexed? I’m afraid I can’t even stand up from this seat at all— Why hello there, Sullivan…” Fred Weasley exclaims, seeing me come out of the shadows.
“Hey there, Weasleys, Angelina, Katie, Alicia, Potter...” I pause, “W-Wood.” Damn it, I can’t even say his name. I hope that stutter wasn’t that obvious! Liking someone really sucks!
The team replies with exhausted ‘hi’s’ and ‘hello’s’. I think Katie is actually asleep on her chair already. Poor thing. “Well, nice seeing you all. I’ll go to bed now. Good luck with the game tomorrow.” I say with an awkward smile. I turn towards the direction of the stares when Oliver speaks up.
“You’re watching, right?” he asks, I turn to look at him – well, not really his face, more like the vase behind his head – and bite my lip.
“Maybe?” I lie. I have no plans of watching the game tomorrow whatsoever. I have never really liked Quidditch. I think I’ve only seen three games in my entire stay in Hogwarts. Then watching Quidditch in this weather? Not a good idea, I think.
“So you’re not sure?” Oliver questions again, looking a bit down.
“Er, I’ll try.” I mutter, “It’s just that the weather isn’t so good and…”
“Come on, Sullivan. This is a big game for Gryffindor so what’s a little rain?” George Weasley interrupts.
“That’s right, Max. I know you don’t watch Quidditch no matter what we or others tell you, but this is Oliver’s last year on the team and we really want that cup. If there’s a good time to show house pride, this is definitely it.” Angelina explains.
“The whole house will watch for sure. I’m certain my absence wouldn’t mean that much.” I snigger. They’re all inviting me like it’s the end of the world.
The twins laugh out loud, causing Katie to be startled, “Oh, it would mean so much, Sullivan, trust me.” Fred says, throwing a sideward glance to Oliver. And what the hell was that supposed to mean?
“Yes. Your presence may just change everything.” Oliver says, nodding his head in agreement to Fred while looking at me intently. At that moment, I want nothing more than to slap Oliver and tell him ‘Stop looking at me like that!’
I roll my eyes as a resigned sigh escapes my lips, “Fine, fine. I’ll go.”
The twins and Potter cheer as Angelina, Alicia and Katie are smiling approvingly. And Oliver, well, I try my best not to look at him.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight.” I say again, turning my back at them as I start walking away.
“Goodnight” they chorus.
“Sweet dreams…” I hear Oliver add, and I just have to smile again. Damn those invisible strings!
A/N: Hey guys! I'm sorry for the long gap between updates. I only had three weeks of vacation and I have other duties and stuff. If you all haven't heard, I've been made HPFF validator last February. Justloveron_staff and I are the same person. =P So during my free time, I validate and I can't seem to write. I know it's no excuse, but I hope you all understand.
Also, my beta, Margot, seems to be on vacation now. This chapter isn't beta-ed again. I'm sorry that I have to put you all through a chapter of bad grammar, typos and wrong spellings. Please be so kind to point out the mistakes and I'll edit them as soon as I can.
Oh, and thank you to those who reviewed my other Oliver one-shot. It means so much!
Thank you very much, my readers!!! You are the driving force of this story! I LOVE YOU ALL! :) ~Trish
Something About The Rain
Urgh. Why did I agree to watch this Quidditch game again? I ask myself, holding on to my coat’s hood, the only thing that’s keeping my facial features safe from being blown away by the furious winds of the storm. Aside from the fact that I am soaking wet from head to foot, the fourth years behind me are cheering and jumping like mad as if they’re the only persons in the stands. The game isn’t even viewable beneath the curtain of heavy rains and Lee Jordan’s commentaries are muffled by the sound of thunder so I have no bloody idea what they’re on about. They nearly knocked me off three times already!
“Look!” Brooke shouts from my left, pointing at a yellow blur in front of her, “I think Diggory’s found the snitch! He’s diving for it!”
I turn to where Brooke is pointing, squinting my eyes. “How can you see through all this rain?” I ask.
“What?” Brooke asks, yelling.
“I said how can you see through all this rain?” I repeat in my loudest voice.
“Oh, I—” but the rest of sentence is drowned by yet another roar of thunder.
I roll my eyes. I knew this was a bad idea. I knew it! I swear to God, this will be the last Quidditch game that I will watch in my entire life!
“What happened?” Jill says from my other side, “Why are they all landing?”
This time, I don’t even bother to try and look at what is happening in the game.
“Maybe they’re calling the game off!” I say loudly in a hopeful tone. Jill looks at me and shakes her head.
“It’s just a time-out!” Brooke shouts in reply, crushing all my hopes of this game being cancelled. Damn it. This is going to be a long game. You and your big mouth, Max. You should’ve just flat out said no last night!
The time-out seems to have just lasted a few seconds because soon enough, the players are back in the air. All I can see are blurred scarlet and yellow shapes moving about in front of me. I sigh as I try to find a spot to sit on, then just as I am about to be seated…
“Goal!!” Brooke and Jill cheer at the same time. The fourth years who are behind me are so psyched about the goal that they are jumping like kangaroos while screaming nearly knocking me off my feet again. I reach out for Brooke and Jill’s shoulders so I can help myself up. I glare at them, but I’m sure they’re far to excited to care.
Okay, not a good idea to sit down. Not if I want to be tumbled upon by this pesky fourth years. I straighten up again and am just focusing on keeping myself upright despite the attempt of the strong winds to knock me off balance.
The game wears on despite the storm. I don’t know how much time has already passed since that last goal, but I don’t really care. I just want this match over and done with. If only I can squeeze myself out of this heavily crowded stands then I’ll probably back in the safety and warmth of the common room, but that will be a nearly impossible feat since the stands are so packed. Jill and Brooke wanted a better view of the game so they chose higher seats. And I shouldn’t have agreed with them.
“Merlin, look!” Jill says, pointing on a black figure hovering just a few feet from the Hufflepuffs’ side. Everyone turns their gaze to where Jill is pointing. Indeed, there it is. A huge black figure is flying as if unaffected by the rain and the strong winds just above the goal posts.
“There’s another one there!” an ash-haired boy in front of us says, pointing on the opposite direction. Gasps reverberate from our side of the stands.
“Dementors!” Brooke screeched, looking very pale beneath her scarlet hoodie. I pull my coat tighter around me as the temperature seems to dramatically drop in no time at all.
Before I know it, there are about a dozen Dementors flying around the Quidditch pitch. The crowd has gone instantly silent as if the hooded figures have put everything on mute. I can feel the hairs behind my neck rise as a Dementor swiftly flies above us. It feels like the end of the world and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.
My thoughts are whirling and my eyes seem out of focus as I watch where the Dementors are headed. I shake myself a little as I see all of them fly up to something about a hundred feet from the ground. And then, screams of terror starts to fill the once muted stands.
“Someone’s falling!” A fourth year shouts from behind me, pointing at something scarlet that is indeed falling fast. The scarlet blur is accelerating so fast that everyone watches with mouths open in shock. If it continues in this rate, that someone will definitely not survive the fall. It’s definitely a Gryffindor… I wonder when I realization comes to me. No… it can’t be… please not… Oliver?
I am shaking and I know that it isn’t because of the Dementors anymore. They have been taken cared of by Dumbledore, I think with the use of the Patronus Charm. I am scared - terrified and I don’t even know why. The Gryffindors have been ushered down the stands by McGonagall as soon as Dumbledore have dealt with the Dementors. I am now standing in a clearing beside the Quidditch pitch together with the rest of the house. All of us looking pale and are shocked at what we have just witnessed.
Brooke, being the gossiper that she is, has run off to other people for a possible idea of who was the one who fell.
“W-who do you think it was, Jill?” I ask, trembling.
“I don’t know.” she replies, placing an arm around me as if she knows why I am this nervous, “We have to wait for Brooke. I’m sure she’ll know once she gets back.”
I nod absently as I bite my lip. I am shifting my weight from foot to foot as I tip-toe every now and then to try and see if Brooke is on her way back.
“It’s Potter!” Brooke says, still panting, as she emerged from a crowd of Hufflepuffs. “Potter passed out and he fell.”
I can’t help but close my eyes and breath out a sigh of huge relief. It may sound rather foolish that I feel this way knowing full well that someone got hurt, but I can’t help it. Thank Merlin… thank Merlin.
The others who have heard do not seem all too pleased with the news. Almost all of them become paler upon learning that it’s Harry Potter who has fallen. Well, he’s a popular kid. Soon, the other Gryffindors have round up to where we are and started asking Brooke other questions.
“What happened to Potter?”
“Is he badly hurt?”
“Did we lose?”
“All I know is that it was Potter, nothing else.” Brooke says, raising her arms in surrender from all the questions. “Someone said that someone slowed Potter’s descent so he’s not badly hurt. I didn’t ask anything about the game because really, should we be worrying about that now?”
I am quite taken aback by Brooke’s sudden show of sensitivity. She is usually this girl who cares for nothing but gossip and boys, but now she seems to be really moved by what has just happened.
“Gryffindors,” Percy Weasley calls out, “back to the common room. Everyone follow me please.”
My fellow Gryffindors obediently file towards the path back to the castle. On our way up the slippery path, I see Ginny Weasley looking over her shoulder back at the Pitch. I don’t blame her. She’s probably worried about her brothers and Potter. It seems like her family is really close to Potter since he’s her brother’s, Ron, best friend. I sigh as I look back myself.
“He’ll be all right.” Jill assures with a knowing smile.
“What? I’m not worried for someone.” I deny, puffing my cheeks guiltily as I pay attention to where I am walking.
“Of course you’re not.” Jill sniggers. She knows me too well.
I can never be more grateful that we are back inside the castle as the warm air makes contact with my freezing skin. Everyone looks wet and muddy as they pull out their wands and cast hot-air charms to dry themselves up. Jill and Brooke do the same as my gaze wanders off again.
McGonagall enters the Entrance hall herself closely followed by Angelina Johnson. The professor’s face looks pale and her thin lips are slightly trembling. Angelina is covered with mud and bits of grass and her quidditch robes are torn in some places.
“Miss Johnson, where is the rest of the team?” McGonagall asks.
“Everyone’s gone with Harry to the Hospital wing, Professor.” I hear Angelina say, removing a twig from her cheek. “Everyone except Wood.”
My eyes unconsciously grow wide as I silently move closer, the better to hear.
“Where is he?” McGonagall inquires, looking stern.
“Probably still back in the pitch, Professor. I didn’t see him come out of the showers when the game was called off. I guess he’s still there.” Angelina shrugs, throwing a glance at the almost invisible pitch.
McGonagall looks back at the pitch, probably pondering on whether to go back for Wood or not. “Very well, let’s leave him be for the time being. I’ll go check on Potter.” she says, turning away to climb the stairs.
“I’ll go with you, Professor.” Angelina responds, following McGonagall’s wake.
I lean on the nearest wall, my legs suddenly feeling weak.
“Are you alright, Max?” Jill asks as she holds on to my shoulders.
I take a deep breath and reply, “I-I’m fine.”
Damn it. I inwardly curse. I bite my lips as thoughts run wild inside my head. I’m not even supposed to feel this way. I’m not supposed to bother who fell from that hundred-foot drop and I’m not supposed to worry about that stupid boy! It’s silly! Silly Silly Silly!
“It’s all right to admit you’re worried. It’s perfectly normal.” Jill comments as if reading my thoughts. She helps me up and casts a hot-air charm to dry my soaking robes.
“Come on, Max. You’re not going to lie to me now, are you?” she cuts me off. I look around to try and see if anyone’s listening. The entrance hall is almost empty except for a few first years who are struggling their way up the stairs.
I let out a resigned sigh. There is really no point lying to Jill after that confession a few nights ago.
“I’m just…” I start, trying to find the right words to describe how I am feeling, “I-I’m not used to it.”
Jill stifles a small laugh, “Of course you’re not.” she says, pushing my shoulder so I will turn around and she can dry my back. “You’ve been a man-hater all your life so what do you expect? You don’t think you’ll just grow accustomed to these feelings, do you?”
I merely shrug as she starts drying my hair.
“But, not being used to it isn’t really an excuse to avoid it.” she continues, “You know, it’s like learning a new spell.”
I raise an eyebrow as I turn to look at her, “What do you mean?”
“You practice it.” Jill answers, pushing my head downwards as she ruffles my hair dry. “Do you get my drift?”
“No.” I flat out reply. Really, I don’t understand her analogy. Feelings – Learning a spell? Lost me there.
“It’s simple. For you to get used to it you should expose yourself more to it, right?” she replies, spinning me around to face her again.
“Jen likes Oliver, Jill.” I automatically say. She almost instantly pointed her wand that is blowing hot-air on my face.
“I told you that’s not your problem.” she says, still blowing hot-air on my face I can feel my cheeks flap. I shove her hand away as I speak.
“It is. Jen is my Potion’s partner and I need to work with her for the entire year. My N.E.W.T.s depends on this project and I’ll blow that up if I upset her in anyway.” I defend.
“Does she know you like Oliver?”
“Do you think I’m mad? Of course not!” I bark disbelievingly.
“Then she doesn’t need to find out that you and Oliver are getting closer too, right?” Jill insists. “You know, like a secret.”
I roll my eyes.
“Don’t you want you and Oliver to get closer?” Jill asks with a sharp look.
“I don’t want to complicate things.” I answer as I shake my head.
“You didn’t answer my question. Don’t you want Oliver and you to get closer?” she repeated.
I let out another sigh and bite my lip. I start shifting my weight as I look around the empty hall again.
“I do, but—”
“Then you know what to do.” she says, finishing off the hot-air charm and turning towards the stairs, leaving me to my thoughts.
Everything in the common room is just gloomy as the weather outside. The rains have calmed down a little, but it still doesn’t seem it will stop any time soon. Some have resorted to just doing their homework while others have just gone to bed early.
The rest of the quidditch team showed up about an hour after the match ended; everyone except Wood. The Weasley Twins took the liberty to report to the whole house that Harry Potter was all right, saying that he passed out because of the dementors and that it was a good thing that Dumbledore slowed him down as he fell. All of them almost immediately dodged any question about who won the match by saying they need to shower or eat dinner. I tried chasing after Fred and George to ask about Oliver, but there were gone before I even caught up with them.
And now I sit in my favorite spot in front of the fire, fresh from a long, hot bath, with a book plopped open on my lap. I have never realized just how great this spot is until now. It has a good view of the portrait hole so I can see anyone coming in and out of the room. I look down on my book trying my best to read it, but every time I hear the portrait swing open, I can’t help but look up.
“I’m turning in.” Brooke declares, stifling a yawn and standing up from her seat. I glance up the clock on top of the fireplace to check the time. Eight twenty-four. “You coming, Jill?” she asks.
“In a few minutes.” Jill answers, scribbling a few words on her letter for her mum.
“How about you, Max?” she asks again just as I hear the portrait hole open once more. I quickly turn to see Neville Longbottom enter the common room.
“Uh - probably later.” I mumble absentmindedly, turning the page of the book I am rea—looking at.
“All right. Good night.” she bids.
I resume to looking at the book on my lap. Switching Spells. Think about Switching Spells. I tell myself.
“How long are you planning to wait for him?” Jill asks, interrupting my thoughts. She continues to write on her parchment and doesn’t even look up.
“Oh, uhm…” I stall, “When I feel sleepy I’ll turn in too.”
She nods on her letter as I see her sign her name in beside a heart. “Fine, I won’t ask questions anymore. I don’t want to make things harder for you.” she says, sealing her letter with wax. “I’ll just send this tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be much better that the owls won’t get blown off course anymore. I’ll go ahead.”
I nod, “Good night. I’ll be up soon too.”
Jill flips her hair as she raises a brow at me, “Sure you would.” she says with a knowing smile.
I scan the common room again and just a few people are still up. Ginny Weasley is seating a few armchairs away from me, her gaze fixed on the fire. She’s been kind of weird since the end of the match. I wonder what’s wrong with her. I take a deep breath as I try to start to actually read my Charms book.
The Gryffindor clock rings Nine o’clock and since I still haven’t absorbed a thing aside from the incantation of the Switching spell, I finally give up and toss the book back in my bag. Ginny Weasley is still staring at the fire as she appears to be unmoved. I look apprehensively at her, trying to catch her gaze, but she seems determined not to mind anything or anyone. I try to think of anything to keep myself preoccupied as I wait, but seeing as I have finished my homework a few days ago, I have nothing to do. It isn’t until a few minutes that I found myself staring blankly into the fire as well.
The warmth and the dancing motion of the flames makes my eyes feel tired all of the sudden. I steal another glance at Ginny Weasley and she’s still resolutely staring at the fire, the reflection of the flames visible in her eyes. How does she do it? It’s like she’s hit with a freezing charm or something. I shift in my seat to find a comfortable position and close my eyes to rest them.
“Max?” a hollow, seemingly distant voice calls. “Max?”
I feel someone shake my shoulder and my eyes snap open, “I’m awake.” I say as I realize that it is so dark I can’t see who I am talking to. I blink my eyes repeatedly to let my eyes adjust to the darkness. It seems that the flames of the fireplace have long been extinguished since not even a faint glow of orange is visible from it.
“Who’s there?” I ask feeling a bit scared. I feel for my wand down my robe pockets and grip it.
“It’s me, Oliver.” says the voice, “Lumos.” The faint light from the tip of the wand immediately shows the outline of Oliver Wood’s face. “What are you doing down here?”
“Oh,” I reply, not sure what to say, “I was… reading. I guess I just fell asleep—Uhm, what time is it?”
Oliver checks the watch on his left wrist and answers, “It’s nearly one in the morning.”
“Ah…” I mutter. I was here for nearly four hours?! Oh Merlin… “And you just came in?” I add, remembering the reason why I am out here.
“Uhm, yeah.” he answers as he takes a seat in the armchair next to mine and places his face in his palms.
“Are you… feeling all right?” I ask, trying not to sound too concerned. He doesn’t remove his face from his hands as he nods. I bite my lip thinking if I should continue with the conversation. By the looks of him, it might not be a good time seeing as he still appears stressed and quiet.
“I watched the match.” I declare. The words are out even before I can stop myself. He looks up at me, but his expression is passive. I knew it. I should’ve just shut up! I need to get out of here. “I’m sorry. I’m shutting up and going up now. Good night.” I quickly add, hastily standing up from my seat and walking away.
“I’m sorry that it had to be like that.” he speaks up, “I mean, I know you really didn’t want to watch, but then you did and it had to be like that. I’m… I’m sorry.”
I slowly turn around to face him with only the faint light from outside the window to light us. I must admit I’m not used to seeing Oliver like this. He’s usually this guy who has this smile on his face that has always annoyed me before. But now, he looks… crestfallen.
Somehow, I find myself sitting beside Oliver again, chewing on my tongue to say something encouraging. “Uh…” I start. Where’s my brain when I need it?! “It’s not your fault.” I manage to say. “I-I agreed to watch it. It was a… g-great game.” Great game?! Merlin, do I have a way with words or what?
Oliver is looking at me with a baffled expression, probably wondering if I have gone mad or something.
“But that was until the Dementors arrived, of course!” I try to make up, “Even though it was raining hard, it seemed to be an exciting game – although almost all I saw were yellow and scarlet blurs really – it looked like everything was good. We scored a goal, right? I couldn’t even hear the commentary but everyone cheered so I assumed. Then those blasted black things arrived and everyone was holding their breath and pointing at them and then someone fell and I got worried because I thought—” I finally catch myself, realizing that I am talking too fast, and with too much information. I have never known I can talk that fast! I bite my lip. “I-I’m sorry.”
There is no reaction from Oliver at first and I dare not look at him. I will completely understand if he just walks away from me right now. I can’t blame him if he’s thinking I’ve gone loony. There must be something in the rain that messes up my brain.
“You thought what?” Oliver finally speaks up, a hint of a smile on his face. I chew on my lower lip as I look down on my twiddling fingers.
“I-I thought,” I start. Then, taking a really deep breath I continue, “it was you.” I steal a glance his way and see the hint of a smile turn full-fledge.
“And you got worried?” he asks, the crestfallen Oliver seems a hundred miles away.
“Yeah,” I nod as I find myself looking him eye-to-eye. For quite a while, we are just sitting there, a smile still plastered on his face and me? Well, I don’t know what I look like, really. I'm probably smiling from ear-to-ear too.
“I hope you get rained on more often.” he mutters, breaking the silence – which is surprisingly not awkward! – that has come over us.
“Huh? Why?” I ask, confused. He gazes out the window to the storm.
“It just seems like you’re different when you get rained on.” he answers with a cheerful smile.
I still don’t get what he means as I recall the last time I got wet. “The last time I got rained on was the time we were planting the seeds.” I say in realization.
“Exactly.” he replies, looking at me with a wide grin. I grin back as I finally get what he has been trying to say. And somehow, I can’t help but agree.
A/N: T'was long, I know! I'm sorry. I never thought it would be this long. This was 95% done before DH was released and DH postponed me from finishing this for quite a while. =P Sorry.
This isn't beta-ed again. My beta still hasn't replied. I don't want to get a new beta not until my beta now tells me that she can't beta for me anymore. She's done so much for me and I can't just drop her like that. Just please point out mistakes so I can correct them. :)
Anyway, hope you all liked it. ^_^ ~Trish
A/N: Same same. Not beta-ed. Beta is still MIA. Point out mistakes please. ^_^
Oh, noticed my new banner? *squee* I love it! I changed my OC to Kristen Stewart because well, Evan Rachel Wood is dating Marilyn Manson and his face never fails to flash on my mind whenever I see Evan Rachel so... well, it should be Oliver's image flashing, you know? =P
Sorry for the rambling. Don't worry, no more A/Ns in the end of the chapter because of a very good reason. *wink* Enjoy! ~Trish
Letting the Good Times Roll
Things between Oliver and I have surprisingly improved since the Quidditch game two weeks ago. We talk now and I don’t usually wear a frown on my face whenever we do. I really don’t know why, but he has grown on me. But No – he’s not my boyfriend. We’re just, like I tell Brooke and Jill, ‘have gone past the civil stage’. In other and plainer words, we’re friends. Yup, friends.
I guess I’m just lucky that Jen seem to not notice anything about my new found friendship with Oliver. I think it may be because now that the N.E.W.T’s are drawing closer, things for seventh years have definitely become tougher and busier. Plus, Potions is the only subject Oliver, Jen and I have in common, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but God bless Snape. He’s giving us so much work every meeting that Oliver and I haven’t gotten the chance to interact at all during Potions. At least I haven’t had the need to make an excuse to ignore Oliver during Potions.
“So, how are you and your secret lover?” Jill teases as she wipes her face clean of make-up, getting ready for bed. I roll my eyes at her, but cannot sustain a laugh.
“We are not secret lovers, Jill.” I reply as I fluff my pillow.
“Oh, so you’ve gone out in the open? Everyone knows?” she says with an expression of mock surprise.
“Stop it…” I tell her, but still with a grin on my face. I know I’ve been spending far too much time with Oliver because I can’t seem to wipe the smile off my face anymore!
Jill sniggers as she picks up her brush and starts brushing her hair. She is still watching me from her mirror when she asks, “How about you and your potions partner?”
And with that, I feel the smile on my face vanish as I let out a sigh.
“She still doesn’t know. Or at least I think she doesn’t know.” I reply as I turn around and carelessly let myself fall on my bed. “I mean, nothing’s really change between us… yet.”
“That’s good. She doesn’t need to know anything anyway.” Jill replies, shrugging.
“It’s not that I’m not planning to tell her.” I continue, looking up at the ceiling of my four-poster, “I’d tell her if she asks.”
“Right. Don’t volunteer the information.” Jill agrees again.
“Mmhmm,” I hum as I bite my lip in thought. It seems to me that Jen still hasn’t noticed anything yet, but I can’t help but feel like I’m being unfair to her or something. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. Oliver and I are just friends. It’s not like I’m lying to her, I’m just not saying anything. And it’s not like I have no plans of telling her, if she asks if there’s anything going on then I’ll tell her that Oliver and I are friends, nothing more. I’m also not making any effort to hide what I have with Oliver now. I guess luck is just usually on my side that Jen doesn’t see it when Oliver and I talk in class or when we sit together during lunch. Not to mention, she’s not Gryffindor and most of my ‘interaction time’ with Oliver happens in the common room.
“What about Oliver?” Jill asks again as I hear her pull the hangings of her own bed. “Doesn’t he notice that you are avoiding something?”
“No.” I hear myself say, “We don’t really talk that much outside the common room. Even if we do, it’s mostly just about homework and nothing’s really suspicious about that, right?”
“Doesn’t Jen notice that you’re… warmer… towards Oliver now?”
I roll over my bed to lie down on my tummy. Jill is lying on her bed with her plopped up arm supporting her head as she is looking at me. Her expression looks like a mix of curiosity and concern.
“I don’t think I’m warm towards Oliver in class.” I contemplate, trying to remember how I act when he tries to talk to me. “I don’t know. I guess if Jen’s not noticing anything then I think I’m not acting funny.”
Jill nods as she drops her head on her pillow. Her lips curve into as smile as she shifts her gaze back at me again.
“I have to congratulate Oliver one of these days.” she states.
I raise an eyebrow at her as I reply, “Why?”
“For making you a human – oh wait – for making you a human girl.” she says pointedly with a laugh. I throw a pillow at her at this, but can’t help to laugh myself. “What? You know it’s true!” she insists, throwing the pillow back at me.
“Yeah, yeah. Go to sleep!” I tell her, still giggling a little.
“All right, all right. Good night.” she says, shifting in her bed to find a comfortable spot.
Oliver heaves a heavy sigh as he slumps himself beside me in the couch one night. I am browsing through my Transfiguration notes for a test so I try my best not to be distracted. When he sees that I remained unmoved, he scoots closer and starts fidgeting on his seat.
“Want me to petrify you so you’d remain still?” I say sternly. He immediately stops then clears his throat.
“Sorry,” he apologizes, ruffling his hair. I turn my attention back on my notes.
Oliver is silent, but I can feel his stare boring a hole on the side of my face as I am reciting the stages of Human Transformation in my head. I close my eyes and pray for patience as I slowly put my notes down on my lap and look at him.
“Alright,” I resign, “What’s the problem?”
He looks a bit surprised as he stutters on his reply, “Uh… n-nothing. I’ll just wait for you to finish with that.”
“Oh come on, I can’t possibly finish studying if you’re sitting there staring at me, you know.” I proclaim, “What is it?”
“Nah, it’s non-sense. Let’s just forget about it.” he persists. I roll my eyes.
“It’s about quidditch, isn’t it?” I assume, raising an eyebrow. His mouth opens in shock as if I have said something really offensive.
“Quidditch is not non-sense!” he protests.
“That’s not what I meant!” I quickly comment. Although for me, quidditch is non-sense. “I just mean that you’re saying it’s non-sense so that I won’t ask anymore, but what you really want to tell me is about quidditch. Then you realize that if you do tell me what it’s about then I’ll get mad because you are disturbing me because of something I don’t like. Am I right?” I finish my monologue with a pursed lip as I wait for him to answer. He has a confounded look on his face as if struggling for words.
“Err…” he mutters, “I… uhm… think… err… what was that?”
“Urgh,” I grunt in irritation as I pick up my notes again and try to read it. Human Transformation Stage One: Mentis Iudicium or Mind Decision…
“Alright, I’m sorry.” Oliver speaks up, “Please don’t be mad.” he adds in a sort of childish tone.
“Ooh, what do we have here, Fred?” I hear a mischievous voice say from behind us. Oliver and I quickly turn to look and find Fred and George Weasley looking at us teasingly.
“I think a little…what’s that term again?” Fred replies with a mock thinking expression his face.
“Lovers’ quarrel.” they say in chorus after which they both laugh oute loud, catching almost everyone’s attention in the room.
“Wanna go for a walk?” Oliver asks in the middle of the twins’ hooting.
“Yes.” I respond immediately. Anything to get away from the teasing Weasleys! Oliver nods as he takes my left hand and drags me out of the common room as fast as he can. We are halfway when the twins notice our escape attempt.
“Look, look! There they go!” one of the twins shouts out.
“I think they want to keep things private, George.” the other one replies, voice still shaky because of laughter. “You know, kiss and make up.”
“A lot of luck for you then, Wood! We’ll be here to take you to the Hospital wing when you get back unsuccessful!”
We finally reach the other side of the portrait and Oliver quickly shuts it close, completely muting the noises from behind it. I lean against the banister of the stairs as I catch my breath. I know I said I like the Weasley Twins, but definitely not all the time. I guess I’ll be starting to hate them from now on.
“Sorry about that,” Oliver says.
“It’s fine. It’s not your fault. They’re the Weasley Twins. They make fun of everyone.” I tell him.
“I just thought you’d be upset when they said…” he trails off, biting his lip.
“The ‘lovers’ quarrel’?” I inquire and he nods uncertainly, “Well, we both know it’s not true so let’s just forget about it.” I dismiss as I lead the way down the stairs.
“So we didn’t have a quarrel?” Oliver asks from behind me, sounding positive.
“We didn’t have a lovers’ quarrel. We did have a quarrel because you were disturbing me while I was memorizing.” I point out as we reach the sixth floor landing.
“Oh. Not lover’s quarrel. Got it. Right. I’ll take note of that.” he says in a low voice.
The rest of our walk down the flights of stairs is uneventful. I have been able to grab my notes quickly before we got out of the common room so I have been reading through it again as we make our way down.
“Human Transformation Stage One: Mentis Iudicium or Mind Decision. Stage Two—”
“Virga Opus or Wand Work.” Oliver completes for me with a satisfied grin.
I shoot him a glare. “Damn it, Wood.”
“I was only playing with you since you looked very serious!” he defends, “Besides, the test won’t be until Thursday. Loosen up a little, Max.”
He’s right. I still have about four more days to study for Human Transfiguration. I’m just thinking ahead because I know the professors will be giving us a lot of homework again and I might not have time to study! But, hang on…
“How come you seemed to have mastered it already?” I ask, remembering how he has just completed the sentence for me a few seconds ago.
“I have quidditch practice almost everyday of the week so I had to start early.” he answers simply with a proud grin.
“Oh, right…” Of course, quidditch.
“It isn’t really hard to study. It only took me around two hours last night and for you, I’m estimating thirty minutes? Oh wait, fifteen minutes and you’ll master it I bet.” he says cheerfully. I can’t help but smile.
“Alright,” I sigh in resignation, rolling the long piece of parchment and pocketing it. “It’ll probably take me about an hour, but what the heck it’s still four days till Thursday. So… what do you want to do?”
Oliver checks his watch and looks around the hall. It is almost empty except for a few who are having late dinner.
“Well, it’s still pretty early and I have asked you for a walk so… why don’t we do just that?” he suggests with a sheepish grin. I gaze out at the open front doors of the Entrance Hall and the grounds do seem very inviting. But, there is one problem.
“It’ll be freezing out. It’s almost December, Oliver.” I reply sadly. I would’ve enjoyed a walk.
“Oh, right…” Oliver realizes, biting his lip in thought. I am just watching him as his eyeballs move around in deep contemplation. After a few seconds, his eyes focus on me and a smile spreads on his face. I raise a brow at him. “I know a place we can go to.” he declares.
“Uhm, where?” I inquire. The grin on his face only grows wider as he takes my hand and starts on a quick walk. He paves the path towards the northern part of the school, somewhere I don’t really frequently go and so I have no idea where he’s taking me.
He takes a left and another left, then a right and soon, we find ourselves in a corridor that isn’t as well-lit as the others and I start to get worried.
“Are you sure you know where we’re going?” I ask in trepidation as Oliver continues forward. There seems to be a hint of white light at the end of the corridor, but I can’t really make it out.
“Yes. Trust me, Max.” he says in assurance.
“We’re not going somewhere restricted, right?” I question again. Well, I can’t help it! In my seven years here in Hogwarts, I’ve never been in this place ever. I’ve never been in trouble for doing something against the rules or going somewhere out-of-bounds before, and I don’t like to experience it in my final year. So yeah, I’m boring.
Oliver lets out a chuckle as he stops for a moment to face me. “No, we’re not.” he says with a knowing smile. Only the flickering light from a few torches allows me to see distinctive features of his face. I feel his grip tighten around my hand and with that, I am already assured. “Any more questions?”
I am suddenly thankful that it is dark or else Oliver might’ve seen me blush. I shake my head as he turns around and walks again, much slower this time. I follow without any hesitation. As we walk further down the corridor, I start to feel a soft chilly breeze against my skin. The sudden sensation makes me shiver a little, but it feels really good at the same time. With the breeze is a miff of something I know I have smelled quite a few times before…
“It’s the lake.” I blurt out suddenly, coming into the conclusion that I am sniffing the sandy, slightly fishy reek of the lake. I also realize that the light at the end of the corridor is actually the moon’s reflection on the wavy surface of the Black Lake. My gaze is fixed forward, my mouth slightly open in awe.
“Yes,” Oliver says, looking quite pleased with my reaction, “it is.”
I overtake Oliver and found myself in a semi-circular room with wide open windows overlooking the lake. It looks somewhat blue because only the moon is lighting it. The scene is just breathtaking.
“Oh my God…” I whisper as I lean against the window.
“Yeah, brilliant, isn’t it?” Oliver says. I am suddenly aware that he is just a few inches behind me.
“What is this place?” I ask, not taking my eyes off the view.
“I don’t know what it’s called.” he answers, “I found it when I was in second year. I forgot how exactly really, but I guess it’s not really a secret place. I know Fred and George know about this too since I’ve seen them a few times here.”
“Well, the twins seem to know Hogwarts better than everyone else.” I reply with a small chuckle.
“Yeah, they do…” Oliver trails off.
My gaze is still fixed on the black lake as I admire how the reflection of the moon seems to form a trail of curvy white light across it. The lake looks a bit wavy, probably because of the winds brought by the approaching winter. This is the first time I’ve seen the lake like this and I never have thought something housing such a creature as a giant squid will look this beautiful.
“Listen, Max…” Oliver softly speaks, interrupting my thoughts. He is standing right beside me, a bit too close in my opinion. He also seems to be watching me for quite some time. He has his hands on his pockets and he is shifting his weight. He looks nervous for some reason.
“Hmm?” I ask as I turn a bit to face him. His eyes, though, seem to be avoiding mine. “Something wrong?”
He licks his lips as he finally looks into my eyes. Is it just me, or is Oliver looking really pale?
“Are you feeling alright?” I question, starting to get worried. He looks like he’ll just drop unconscious any second now.
“No, I’m okay,” he says with a quivering voice. He clears his throat as he shakes himself slightly probably to regain composure. “I… I just want to ask you… something.”
I just look at him, waiting for him to continue.
“Max…” he starts, looking at me determinedly.
It feels like it’s taking forever for him to finally let out what he wants to say and I am holding my breath. And for some unknown reason, I don’t have a good feeling about this. I swallow as I wait for him to speak again.
“Will you be my girlfriend?”