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Hide and Seek by Mistress

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 43
Word Count: 224,645
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Slash (Same-Sex Pairing), Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Fred, George, Oliver, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 02/05/2009
Last Chapter: 09/19/2014
Last Updated: 09/19/2014

Summary:


Sequel to Keep Away
Enter: Oliver's training. Alicia's confusion. Fred's threats. Katie's stupidity. George's hot head. Angelina's snogging. Lee's future. Mrs. Wood's vegetables. (Oliver/OC) COMPLETE.
 


Chapter 1: Janet or Juniper or JoJo
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Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoy the first chapter of H&S!
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My room was exactly how I left it. In fact, I didn’t think Dad touched a thing. Oh, except my old schoolbooks from my first few years at Hogwarts. He sold them so I could have extra spending money since it was pretty obvious I’d never take a look at Standard Book of Spells Grade Three again. Unless I was going to use it as a means of boredom torture.

It took me a few hours to unpack all of my school things—robes in the closet, shoes next to the door, books in the bottom of my trunk, and Nimbus beside the window. I stared around in the silence.

My room was small since Dad and I lived in a London flat, but it was comfortable to me, especially coming from living with three other girls. It was a soft gold color, matching my Gryffindor hangings and the quilt Dad made me. It was sewn wrong and the patches weren’t lined up, but he was jealous of the other parents making their kids things so he wanted to give it a go as well. At least it was warm.

I had Harpies posters on my wall and told Dad on the way home that he would have to pick up a Puddlmere one once Oliver had his face on it. Though it would probably be sold out since he was so good-looking. I didn’t tell Dad that. I actually didn’t tell Dad that Oliver and I were dating either.

I’d break that news to him later. I didn’t want to be given the lecture again about how I wasn’t allowed to date until I was thirty-five that would somehow turn into how the Harpies were a horrible team.

Once my stomach started disagreeing with my cleaning process, I made my way into the living room to find Dad reading The Daily Prophet with his feet up on an ottoman. I flopped down on the sofa and stared over at him with the big puppy dog eyes I had perfected over the years. “Daddy, I’m hungry.”

“You’re back from Hogwarts a couple hours and you’re already expecting me to do all the work?” He raised a brow with a smile playing at his lips. “Well, if you’re hungry then you can wobble your butt in the kitchen and make me something too.”

“Pfft,” I muttered, rolling onto my back and looking at the ceiling. “I’m not that hungry.”

“Good. I ordered pizza and it will be here in a few minutes.” He straightened the paper.

I beamed and launched myself off of the sofa. “So the Tornadoes are still in it, huh?” I said, reading the back of the paper.

“Yeah, they play the Finches tomorrow in the second round,” he replied quickly. “You’ll be home to watch the game?”

I raised a brow and flipped on the television. Dad and I loved our Muggle things and any wizard that didn’t know about things like televisions were simply daft. “Of course I’ll be home. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I didn’t know if you’d be off with Oliver Wood or something,” he said slyly and I blushed immediately.

“Why would I be off with Oliver?”

“Do I have stupid inked across my forehead?” He lowered the paper and looked at me, giving me that all-too-careful Dad stare. “When were you going to tell me that you fancied the boy?”

“I—what’d’you—you couldn’t possibly,” I said quickly, averting my eyes and blushing even more. I couldn’t deny it, of course, but I was thinking about giving Dad a few firewhiskeys before I told him his little girl was dating an International Quidditch Player that already had a groupie following before he even played his first game for Puddlemere.

“Pumpkin, I saw you try and hide that kiss before we left the platform.” He raised two amused brows at me and I wanted to curse him for knowing me so well. “So when did it happen? Or should I say, how long have you been hiding it from me?”

“After the Quidditch Final. Only like a week,” I mumbled, hiding my face in a nearby pillow.

“And so that means you didn’t listen to me about not being able to date until after you were thirty.” I could hear the smile in his voice.

“Right.”

“Well, at least he isn’t a Harpies fan,” he said and my head flew up.

“That’s all you’re going to say?” I said, mouth hanging open. “No lecture about dating a Quidditch star? That I will probably never get to see him because of practice and games? That I’m your little pumpkin and no boy will ever be good enough for me?”

Dad shrugged lightly and ruffled his hair. “Do you want the lecture? Because I can still give it to you about how I’m a bit skeptical about these big star types and that you’ll have to really make plans to see each other this summer since training camps start soon. I can also talk about how you’re not allowed to date boys because their minds are stuck in the gutter and they don’t care about your personality or what your Charms grade is like, they care about your features and how you look on their arm.”

“Yeah, but Oliver isn’t like that!”

“Oh, so you want the lecture?”

I frowned. “No, of course I don’t, but Oliver isn’t like that. He’s not even a star. Well, yet. And he’s getting a flat in London so we can spend more time together. Oh, and I’ll have you know that I’ve dated other guys before and none of them have been like what you just described.” I folded my arms triumphantly.

“Who have you dated?” He folded the paper and stared at me.

“I dated Roger Davies last year!”

“That Ravenclaw bloke?” Dad asked. “You dated a guy from the opposing team? That couldn’t’ have ended well.”

“Considering I’m dating Oliver now I think that’s obvious,” I muttered through gritted teeth. “But he wasn’t like that.”

Dad smirked dangerously and unfolded the paper. “All right. But he better watch out. As your father I’m required to look after you and threaten any bloke that so much as looks at you.”

“Yes, Dad.”

“And have him around for dinner. I need to talk to him again now that you two are dating or whatever it is you call it.” He shook the paper and started to read again.

“Yes, Dad.”

He chuckled for a moment and then became silent again.

Suddenly a thought struck me and I lunged myself at the paper, tearing it out of my father’s hands. “You’re not going to ask him what his intentions are, are you?”

“What do you think he’ll say?”

“DAD!” I cried, throwing the paper onto the carpet behind me. “I swear I’m not bringing him to dinner if you’re going to ask him about his intentions.”

“Oh, hush up or I’ll tell him to have you home by nine and maybe I’ll accompany you on dates.” He smiled warmly and reached for the paper. I pushed it further out of the way. “You know I can just go to a Puddlemere game and see him then.”

I groaned.

“So let me know ahead of time when he’s coming and I’ll expect it’ll be soon because you probably don’t want to be away from him for a while.” He laughed and I gagged. “I just want to have something good cooked instead of my usual take out and tacos.”

“I’m sure he’d like tacos.” I leaned against Dad’s legs and set my head on his knee. “I know I could go for some tacos.”

“Quit whining, the pizza will be here soon.” He messed up my hair for a moment and then tried to grab the paper again. It didn’t work. I kicked it further. “Apparently not soon enough.”

I chuckled and sat for a while, just listening to the silence surrounding our little London flat. Well, as silent as it could get with the traffic outside and Mr. Wright upstairs with his vacuum. It was nice being home for the summer—not that it didn’t break my heart being away from the castle and my best friends and the huge amount of space I had. The four-poster wasn’t bad either. But here it was just my dad and I with our ugly floral wallpaper and the Quidditch station I had on mute.

Well, that and the pizza guy that knocked on the door. Life was good. I didn’t even have to walk down more than seven floors to get some food.



The weirdest thing about the next three days was that I slept in my own room in silence each night. I went in there, turned off the lights, and curled up under my wonky quilt. I didn’t wake up to find Angelina gone with Fred or Katie snoring with her arm halfway off her bed (wait till George found out about that). Whenever I woke up it was because of Mr. Wright and one of his cats that was scratching at the floor. I was glad Dad wasn't babysitting them anymore. Even though I should have been used to it during the summer, I still felt sort of alone at home.

It was like a piece of me was missing if I didn’t get harassed by Fred at breakfast for not letting him see my Transfiguration notes. Plus, I hadn’t heard from Oliver in three days either.

Not that I was fretting about it. He probably had more things to worry about—his father, finding a flat in a hectic place like London, and going to Puddlmere to meet with all of the administrators for the team. So I couldn’t be selfish and whine about three days.

It would still be nice to get a letter or something.

Not that I was getting my hopes up.

On a bright Wednesday morning I stayed in bed for several hours before even getting up. I thought about the previous few weeks—about the Quidditch Cup game where I took Ellis’s place and caught the Snitch, falling into Oliver Wood’s arms and into the craziest relationship filled with being thrown in the lake, running out on a fancy restaurant with ugly forks, and snogging in his dormitory.

Was it a dream? A stupid, Shrieker-inspired dream?

I might have thought so until I spotted a familiar owl tapping at my window around noon. I leapt out of bed, tripping over my trunk and various articles of clothing, and threw open the window to let the bird inside. It dropped a letter into my open hands and flew over to take a breather on top of my dresser. I wouldn’t have cared if it would have pooped all over my bed.

I had my letter from Oliver.

I ripped it open as fast as possible and grinned widely.


Perry-

Just left my dad’s place. Him and I got in a row about me turning down Brazil because apparently he thinks they’re better than Puddlemere but I don’t care. Just got my place in London. Directions on the bottom. Come whenever you want.

Miss you,

Oliver

P.S. By “whenever you want”, I mean now.



It was short, but it was still a letter. I never pictured Oliver to be much of a writer anyway. I reread it a few times and then stopped myself because suddenly I felt like Libby, worshiping every word Oliver Wood wrote.

It was because of his smile.

After getting dressed and sliding on a cute skirt, I made my way out into the kitchen where Dad was fixing a salad and dumping on a bowl full of bacon bits. He smiled.

“Slept long enough?” he asked, topping the meal with a bunch of Italian dressing. “I thought you might not get up—and then here you are dressed up with nowhere to go.” He paused and stuck a fork in the creation of unhealthiness. “Or am I wrong?”

“Oliver sent me the address to his new flat,” I said confidently, helping myself to an apple out of the fridge.

“What area of London is it in?”

“The shady area with all of the rogue blokes with knives,” I said casually and smiled with the puppy dog eyes.

He groaned and tossed a cherry tomato at me. “All right, I get it. So when is he coming around for dinner? I’ve got my intentions speech all set. I even wrote it out and practiced it in front of the mirror last night.”

“Right,” I said, taking a bite out of the apple and plopping down at the wood table.

The kitchen was like the rest of the flat—small with ugly wallpaper and mismatched cabinets. Some of the handles were even missing off the doors, but Dad replaced them with things like mini screwdrivers so we were all set.

He took a seat across from me and dove into his salad. “So what time will you be home?”

“I’m not sure,” I said quietly. “Do I have to be sure now? Since I’m nearly seventeen?”

“You always have to be sure.”

“Yes, Dad.” I sat there for a moment and stared around the kitchen and out the window at another nearby building. One of the windows had hideous mustard curtains and I prayed Oliver didn’t have disgusting curtains.

Yep.

Just sitting in the kitchen having a nutritious breakfast with my father.

The father that was going to ask my boyfriend about his intentions.

The father that was holding me hostage in the kitchen.

Against my will.

Eating an apple.

“Oh, just go already,” he said suddenly, dropping his fork and raising his brows at me.

I beamed. “Thanks, Daddy!” I jumped up, tossed the rest of the apple in the bin, and rushed out the door and down the stairs out onto the streets of London. It was busy and loads of people in various shades of brown rushed past me, but I didn’t care. I hurried around corners and up streets and even bumped into a poodle (more than once).

It didn’t take me as long as I thought it would, though that was probably because I was half-running down the sidewalk and shoving people out of the way so I could stop outside of the building the directions led me to and press the button to Oliver’s flat.

“Yeah?” It was that same Scottish drawl that I had been used to for years.

“It’s Jane.” I didn’t sound too nervous. Or too anxious. I even tried to keep the “flirty” in my voice, but I think it sounded a little excited.

“Jane—c’mon up!”

I pulled open the door and rushed up the stairs but then paused on the landing to the eighth floor so I could catch my breath before knocking.

“Not thrilled are you?”

My eyes whipped up and I saw Oliver peeking his head out the doorway of number 812. He was smiling.

“No. I just…needed to get a bit of a workout since I’ve just been hanging around my place for three days with no contact from any of my friends.” I beamed and ran at him, falling into his arms as we fell backward into his flat.

I didn’t even care that the door wasn’t closed. My lips found his and suddenly he was on his back against the hideous brown carpet and we were snogging in the center of his living room.

It felt amazing—three days seemed like forever and the horrible part is I knew I had been spoiled, being able to see him every day at school. Some couples rarely saw their significant other.

Ha. Oliver was significant. And he was my other. I never thought I would think that.

Maybe that he was a significant prat.

But in my own defense we didn’t see eye to eye for most of the year, so we needed to make up for it by snogging with the door open.

And we did.

“Don’t you want to look around and insult my lack of décor?” Oliver asked, finally breaking the kiss and pulling me to his chest.

I kicked the door closed and smiled, taking a deep breath so I could remember what Oliver smelled like.

God, I was a twit.

“All right, are you going to give me the grand tour?” I hoisted myself up and stared around the flat.

No tour was needed. His living room was to the right and there was a large suede sofa with a few mismatched throw pillows and a television. The rest of the room was filled to the ceiling with boxes. The kitchen was the same way, though a few plates were already used and sitting out on the counter and there was a quart of milk on the table. After explaining that the boxes were full of more decorations, Oliver led me down the hallway and showed me his bedroom with large closet full of nothing except one collared shirt on a hanger, and the bathroom that had lime green subway tile in it. I gagged.

“Perfect,” I said simply, hugging him.

“It’s not bad, huh?” he said, putting the milk back in the fridge.

“It’s cozy!” I chuckled and dived onto his sofa, grabbing the remote and flipping on the Quidditch station. “Daddy wants you over for dinner soon by the way.”

“Did you tell him we’re together?”

“He figured it out, crazy man,” I muttered darkly. “Just called me out on it the first day I was home.”

“So he wants to ask me my intentions?” Oliver slid down next to me and grabbed the remote, switching it from the Tornadoes warm-up drills to the highlights of Brazil beating the Irish.

“Yep,” I replied lightheartedly, kicking my legs up onto his lap as I leaned back against a plaid throw pillow. “So what are your intentions?” I asked.

Oliver raised a brow. “My intentions, huh?” He looked deep in thought for a moment and flipped to a few different stations. “I think I’ve made my intentions quite clear.”

“With me?” I snorted. “I think you’ve made it clear you want to snog my face off, get me drunk off red wine, and watch me catch a Snitch, but other than that I’m not so sure.”

He smiled warmly at me and ran his fingers up and down my legs. “That and I’d like you to fix me some toast but that’s about it.”

I rolled my eyes. “You would.”

“I do. I’m sort of hungry.”

“Toast your own bread,” I muttered, closing my eyes and listening to the announcers talk about how the Irish defense simply folded under the pressure of Brazil. “You’re of age. You can toast it with your wand.” I motioned to his wand sitting stationary on the coffee table in front of him.

“I never learned those spells.” Oliver frowned.

“You mean while you were calling Quidditch practices at all hours of the day you never bothered to learn how to toast bread?” I smiled mockingly and he shot me a dark look. “Maybe you should practice now.”

“I have to head off to a team meeting in a little bit.” He checked his watch and smiled sideways at me.

“Then why in blazes am I here?” I hoisted myself up onto my elbows and glared at him. “I walked all the way over here and now you’re about to leave?”

“You walk slow.”

I rolled my eyes. “Can I at least have a kiss before I go?”

“Where are you going?”

“Why would I stay if you’re not going to be here?”

“How about when I get back we can both eat some toast and rewatch the Tornadoes stomping on Bulgaria?” Oliver shot me a sideways smile, looking hopeful.

“So you want me to hang around your flat while you’re at a team thing?”

“Do you have anywhere better to be?”

I made a face. Of course I didn’t have anywhere better to be. I had my own flat—Dad was probably done with his Godzilla-salad by now and we would watch television and maybe poke fun at the clothes some wizards wore when it was raining. Then I could go write an “I’m all alone, entertain me” letter to one of my friends that had siblings and a real life, then to go to sleep and dream about how the flowers on the wallpaper had the ability to detach themselves and laugh at me for how pathetic I was.

I yeah, I basically could do that.

“So you’re staying?” Oliver was beaming.

Jerk.

“Yeah, I’m staying. But I’m not making your sodding toast.” I folded my arms and he stood up.

“Glad to hear.” Oliver threw his cloak over his shoulders and smiled warmly at me. He pulled open the door and shot me another one of his obnoxious, stupid, wonderfully adorable grins. “Bye, love. I’ll be back in a while.” He shut the door with a snap and suddenly I was alone in Oliver Wood’s flat.

It was quiet in there besides the commentators ripping Ireland a new one for flying under the Brazilian Chasers while their Seeker was too caught up in a pretty girl watching instead of tailing Bastian for the Snitch. I watched for a moment, laughing at the careless attitude of the Irish Seeker, and then glanced around the room.

There were boxes everywhere. It was like a brown maze in the room and a few of them were labeled “kitchen” and “figures”. What the hell were figures?

I wandered over to it quietly even though I knew Oliver would be gone for a while and pulled open the box. Snickering, I took out Quidditch player figurines that moved in the palm of my hands. Jackson Beier from the Finches. Troy from the Irish. The old legend Gordie Lydrond of the Tornadoes. And ha—he even had Molly Pearsin from the Harpies. I would have to taunt him about that.

I took the figures and placed them on an empty shelf beside the television, but had to separate Beier and Lydrond after a while because they kept poking each other with their brooms.

I couldn’t just stop there. I opened the next box and put all of the pots and pans in the cupboards. It was obvious they hadn’t been used before so I stacked them up high since they probably wouldn’t be used in the future either. The next box had picture frames. One was a photo of Oliver flying in what I assumed to be his back garden as a kid. He was wearing tiny red robes and was smiling. The next was who I assumed to be his father showing Oliver a stack of Quidditch magazines. Oliver was wearing a little set of Tornadoes robes. The last few were not moving photos, but professional shots of Oliver, his father, and his mother all with fancy clothes on.

His father looked proud and had the same sandy brown hair except his was very short and whispy. He also had the same deep brown eyes and confident smile. It matched his dark suit. Oliver’s mother was a slender woman with flowing blond hair and bright blue eyes. She stood out in a silk green dress and had her freckled arms wrapped around Oliver, who could have only been nine or ten at the time. He was adorable in each shot—his little tousled hair falling into his eyes and a frown playing at his lips.

I paused for a moment before placing the photos on one of the end tables. Part of me really wanted to know about the situation between Oliver and his father and why I hadn’t heard anything yet about the relationship between him and his mother. But our relationship was young. It hadn’t even been two weeks. We had plenty of time to get to know each other more and as soon as his father calmed down about him not taking up Brazil and instead going to Puddlemere, I was certain I would get an invite over to the Wood house to have a meal that consisted of ham and pretty forks.

Hopefully.

It took a while for me to finish unpacking all the boxes in the living room. I found places for the books Oliver would never use again since I was pretty certain he didn’t care about the Standard Book of Spells Grade Four just as much as I didn’t care about it. I took down his hideous window treatments and put a few scarlet and gold tablecloths up just to be festive and remind him that Gryffindor is where he got his start. After that I cleaned off the counters in the kitchen and hung up a few things I was certain his mother had stuffed in a box just to make him feel more comfortable, like pictures of the beach and a few strawberry candles.

After putting a blue and gold Puddlemere tablecloth on the wood table, I noticed something on the windowsill. It was a large white owl. With a letter.

Raising a brow, I opened the latch and let the bird in. It dropped the letter into my hands immediately and flew back out the window. It was addressed to Oliver, of course, but what would it hurt to have a read? After all, he left me in charge. Well, not in charge, but in charge enough. I was watching his flat. What if the letter was an emergency letter that something horrible had happened to Alicia and he needed to get to the hospital immediately?

Not that anything horrible was going to happen to Alicia.

Or maybe it did.

I stared at the letter and flipped it over in my hands. It could have. Something could be wrong.

But it could be personal.

I was his girlfriend though.

Pfft. Of two weeks. Big accomplishment, Jane.

Oh, screw it. If Alicia was dead I needed to know about it.


Oliver,

We didn’t finish our talk. I expect you back here before the day is over for dinner. Your mother is fixing it. I’m sick of you walking out on important talks. Puddlemere is not for you. We’re owling Brazil to ask them to reconsider your stupidity. I expect you around six. Bring that girl if you want. Janet or Juniper or JoJo or whatever you said her name was.

Atticus Wood



Great. I was Juniper or JoJo. I was certainly off to a great start with his family. I should just introduce myself as Juliet and really throw them off. Then I could tell them that Oliver was my Romeo and he recited Shakespeare in the common room and performed a monologue from Hamlet while on the Quidditch pitch.

And owling Brazil? Are they daft? Puddlemere may not have won a Cup in years and maybe they’re not an amazing team, but a player like Oliver could very well turn them around. He was so good. And apparently they didn’t see that.

It was nearly four and they expected him in two hours with Jessica or whatever.

“Whoa, you transformed the place!” Oliver tossed his cloak on the ground as he closed the door behind him and beamed. “Look at that—you found my collection of Quidditch players. I hope you don’t think less of me because of it. I’m a sucker for them since they all pick on each other and throw things at the Canons players. Had to put them in a different box—ahh, I see you put them over by the window.” He beamed. “And the pictures—I guess my mum put in those candles because the place smells great. But no toast. Jane, what am I going to do with a great flat but an empty stomach?”

I smiled. “Starve?”

He was about to reply but noticed the open window and the piece of parchment in my hand. “What’s that?”

“Letter that just came for you.” I pushed it into his hands.

“And you opened it.”

I blushed. “It was already open,” I said quickly.

“Magically sealed letters aren’t already open,” Oliver muttered, staring at me.

“Okay!” I cried, throwing up my hands. “It wasn’t open. I just thought Alicia was dying in the hospital and that she had a disease and I had to go save her or something.”

“So is she?”

“No,” I muttered darkly. “It’s a letter from your dad.”

Oliver skimmed it and then sighed deeply. He was silent for a moment and then sank down onto the sofa.

“So,” he said after a while, tossing the letter onto the coffee table. “Do you want to go, JoJo?”

I smiled. Yeah, great start to the summer.









A/N: So even though there wasn't a huge deal of excitement and Quidditch and flying limbs, I hope you enjoyed the first chapter...especially since in the next few stuff starts to hit the fan. Please let me know what you think, especially since I already have a lot of this written already.

Favorite quotes? Itching to hear from Fred and George?

Thanks again to everyone! 


Chapter 2: Riffraff Reserves
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It was lucky my skirt was family appropriate because Oliver came out of his bedroom a few minutes later wearing a nice collared shirt and pressed pants. He smiled sideways at me.

“So this is how I’m going to be introduced to your parents?” I said nervously, pulling my skirt down as far as it would go. “You’re going to yell at your dad about Quidditch and I’m going to stuff my face pretending that we’ve been together for longer than two weeks?”

Oliver made a face. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it. You don’t have to go if you want to wait until the end of the summer to meet them, but it’s a good possibility I will have disowned them by that time so I thought this would be easier.”

I rolled my eyes. “I wish I could bring the girls.”

“Reinforcements?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Just be yourself, they’ll love you, Jane.” He wrapped me in a hug and I finally managed a smile.



I wasn’t quite sure what constituted as “myself”. I had my same features and I decided against the thick sarcasm as Oliver’s mum opened the door. She was wearing a fancy blue cocktail dress and her hair was tied up, showing diamond earrings the size of my fist.

“Hey, Mum,” Oliver said, kissing his mum on the cheek as we entered the enormous white foyer complete with a mahogany desk and a painting in a gold frame.

“Good to see you, dear,” his mum replied and took our coats.

“Mum, this is Jane Perry.”

“Erm, hi, Mrs. Wood.” I sounded like an idiot and it didn’t help that those words sounded so strange coming out of my mouth.

I could be a Mrs. Wood one day.

Don’t—Oliver Wood was a stupid sodding prat.

Whoa. Reflex from the last few years. I had to really watch that.

“Oh, please,” she said with a smile. Oh, blimey. That was where Oliver got his smile. She looked beautiful. “Call me Diane.” Thank God she said that because Oliver never told me her name and that could have been potentially awkward.

“It’s lovely to meet you,” I said stupidly and smiled. I hoped my smile worked as well as it did on my dad. But probably not because she turned and hurried us into a hallway that was nearly as tall as the Entrance Hall in Hogwarts and into a dining room that could have fit most of the Gryffindors comfortably. I recognized Oliver’s father right away as he sat behind an empty china plate.

“Dad,” muttered Oliver, taking a seat on one side of the table. I hurried to sit across from him.

It was silent. Atticus Wood nodded to his son. I breathed in the awkwardness.

Why the hell did I decide to come?

“Dad, this is Jane Perry,” he said forcefully as if to deny the rumors that my name was JoJo or JayJay or whatever.

“Charmed,” his father muttered and I had to stop myself from making a bitter face.

I felt like I was worth more than a “charmed” and then I wondered how many other girls Oliver had invited around the house to see his father. Sure, it could have been the fact that Oliver was probably about to get reemed about his choice of Quidditch teams, but I was a pretty girl with a knowledge of sports…that had to get me some points, right?

“Dad, can we just get on with this?” Oliver said suddenly and I jumped.

“Get on with what?” Mr. Wood set one of the forks down and smiled at his son.

“You haven’t owled Brazil, have you?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, I went to a meeting today with Puddlemere and everything is set for me to start practicing with them and be their new Keeper. Brazil already has a Keeper. It’s a done deal. There’s no use arguing.” I could tell Oliver wanted nothing more than to throw the entire table (expensive china and all) at his father, but was restraining either for my sake or his own.

“You can be on Brazil’s reserve team then,” his father replied.

“I don’t—I already told you I don’t want to be on a reserve team. I want to go to the big leagues now. I can be traded later if I hate it but the team is really nice and I like them a lot.”

“Oh, who gives a damn if the team is nice?” his father cried. “They haven’t won a Cup in decades! No one is going to take you seriously playing for them—might as well go play for the Canons and get it over with! Or just go play for the Harpies, Oliver.”

Ouch.

It wasn’t over apparently.

“You told me you got four offers. Why don’t you go to the Tornadoes—they’re still in the playoffs and if their Keeper gets hurt you could still be called up. That’s quite the spotlight.”

“I’m not playing for the Tornadoes,” Oliver said forcefully.

“Who else did you get? The Finches? Play for them. Ah, who am I kidding?” Mr. Wood said, laughing loudly. It was a malicious laugh. “You don’t have the gut to play for the Finches. You need real stamina to play for a club like that. You’d fit nicely on the Harpies. I’ll contact Brylls Myers, he’s the General Manager. I’ll get you a try-out.”

“Mum, is dinner ready?” Oliver shouted toward a door I could only assume went to the kitchen.

“Almost, Oliver dear!” she shouted back.

I was counting down the seconds. The milli-seconds. Oliver was shooting his father a look of daggers and then suddenly I knew why he was the way he was. Why he told me those things in the Astronomy tower (should have snogged him right then…) and in the tent at the Quidditch retreat. I was now not very fond of Mr. Atticus Wood.

He was a bit of a jerk.

“So Janet,” Mr. Wood said suddenly and I nearly fell out of my chair. “Do you play Quidditch?”

“No,” I said quickly and then realized that probably docked my points so I continued. “Well, I’m a Seeker reserve for the Gryffindor team, but Dan Ellis is the best there is so I don’t play much.”

“Are you going pro after you graduate?” he asked, folding his arms in his lap.

I was being drilled. This was twenty questions about Jane Perry and he didn’t even get my name right. Oliver was looking at the grains in the table.

“Um, no, probably not,” I said quietly. “I have a real passion for Transfiguration so I’ll probably do something with that or maybe work on the administration part of Quidditch because I really love the game.”

“Oh.”

That was all he said. Just that. No more questions.

He hated me. Shit shitty shit. I was off to a really fab start.

“Dinner’s finished!” The door opened and Diane Wood appeared with a large silver tray and plenty of plates of food.

Thank Merlin. Thank Dumbledore for that matter. Thank everyone within a mile radius.

She placed a plate in front of me and I stared at it for a minute before I realized what it was. Vegetables. Lots of them. Broccoli and potatoes and carrots and lettuce. I tried not to make a face.

“I hope you’re a vegetarian, Jane,” Mrs. Wood said lightly, taking her seat as she finished handing out plates. “We live by it here. There won’t be any little ducklings killed on my watch.”

I stared at the food. It looked good enough, so I took a bite.

Nevermind.

I watched Mr. Wood eat a whole three carrots in one bite. Mrs. Wood cut her potatoes into thin slices before eating them. Oliver just crammed the food into his mouth.

Where could I hide this?

I took another bite.

Eugh. I usually loved vegetables of all sorts, but I think she drugged mine.

Blimey. What if Mrs. Wood drugged my food?

“So, Jane,” Mrs. Wood said, pausing between slices of potato. “What is it that your parents do?”

“Uh, my dad works in the Department of Magical Games and Sports in the Ministry and my mum died when I was around five,” I said quietly, trying to analyze my response before I gave it, but there was no tiptoeing around my dad’s lack of a cool job. He just did paperwork.

“Ministry, huh? No Quidditch players in the family?” she asked soothingly.

“No, afraid not,” I said. Was that what this entire family was about? Judging by the look on Oliver’s face I was right in thinking that.

“I see.”

There was another one of those answers. Apparently I was zero for two.

“And did you get to play as the reserve this year?” Mr. Wood asked.

“Yes,” I replied. Finally, a question I could answer with a Quidditch-appropriate response. “I played in the Quidditch Final and we won.” I beamed and I saw Oliver smile.

“How long did it take you?” Mr. Wood asked.

“I’m sorry—how long did what take me?”

“You said you were the Seeker. How long did it take you to catch the Snitch?”

I gaped at him. “Erm, I really don’t remember. It’s hard to keep a concept of time up there I think.”

Mrs. Wood took a sip of her wine. “I read about it in the Prophet, dear,” she said. “It lasted about an hour.”

“An hour, huh?” He nodded and took another bite. “Interesting.”

Shit. Zero for three.

Psssst. Oliver? Could you just be a doll and jump in here and SAVE ME? You know, just talk for a minute. Take the heat off of how I don’t plan on playing Quidditch, no people in my family play Quidditch, and it took me a stupid hour to find the Snitch, nevermind that I had JUST LEARNED TO FLY.

“Is there anything else we needed to talk about?” Oliver asked quickly.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

“How about that you’re making a stupid choice and you can’t expect us to support you on it?” Mr. Wood said, putting down his fork and knife to stare darkly at his son.

“That’s fine with me.” Oliver finished his broccoli and shrugged.

How did he eat that? I looked down at my own food and it was barely touched. I took another bite of the carrots and nearly puked.

“So you’re all right with us cutting you off?”

“Cutting me—what?” Oliver’s face went lopsided.

“Yes,” Mr. Wood said, taking a sip of his wine. “Your mother and I agreed that it’s for the best until you can realize what a fool you’re being by signing with Puddlmere.”

“Okay, look,” Oliver countered. “You said you’d think I was a failure until I signed with a team, and now I signed with a team and you’re just cutting me off?”

“I never said that,” his dad said, “but now that you mention it, if I ever said something like that I would have meant a team worth signing with—like the Finches.”

“I’m not going to sign with the Finches so you can live vicariously through me!” Oliver shouted. The table shook a bit.

I pushed some of my potatoes into my napkin. Why didn’t Oliver’s family have a dog or something?

“You’re being cut off, Oliver,” Mrs. Wood said finally. She sighed. “You’re being cut off until you can sign to a decent team with a decent reputation and find a decent girl with a Quidditch background. You need to quit running around with riffraff reserves, dear.”

Wait—what?

“All right, I’m leaving.” Oliver stood up and tossed his napkin down on the table. “C’mon, Jane.”

I leapt up and followed him toward the hallway. I glanced behind me. “Erm, nice to meet you I suppose.” I tried to smile, but it was too forced so I stopped.

“Oliver, get back here right now.” Mr. Wood didn’t even raise his voice.

“Go to hell!” Oliver yelled right back. “I don’t need your damn money and I don’t need your insults. And I hope the Tornadoes destroy the Finches in the second round.” He opened the door, waited for me to leave first, and then followed, slamming it as hard as he could behind him.

Oliver didn’t speak the entire way home. We Apparated near his flat and he unlocked the door in silence. I didn’t know what to say. He looked devastated, but in such a way that he knew what was coming.

He tossed his cloak in the corner and put the kettle on the stove.

“Erm, Oliver?”

“Yeah?” He didn’t look over.

“I’m glad Alicia wasn’t dead,” I said and he turned and smiled.

“I’m sorry, Jane,” he said softly and I walked into the small kitchen, wrapping my arms around his waist. “They’re terrible. I didn’t think—I thought for sure they’d just have a go at me and just ignore you.”

“I’m impossible to ignore. You know that from experience,” I muttered.

He smirked again. “Well, that settles that then. I’m cut off from their money and I’m playing for Puddlemere.”

“Well, good for you,” I said, still unsure of what to think about the entire thing.

“Sorry again.”

I hugged him tighter. “Hey, my dad is going to ask you about your intentions so don’t worry about it.”

“So I should tell him it is my intention to completely wing it, have no intentions, and if we have a drunken night under the mistletoe then I’ll just let it happen?”

I punched him in the side.



I spent most of the next day contemplating the dinner at Oliver’s parents’ house. I knew it didn’t matter and that Oliver had already let it fly into the back of his mind, but it freaked me out. I thought I was good. I thought I was in the clear—I looked cute and innocent in that skirt and I played Quidditch! Sure, my dad didn’t and maybe I was just the reserve, but at least I knew about the sport.

At least I wasn’t Libby.

No. At least I wasn’t her. She would have probably liked those wonky vegetables though.

Stupid Libby. This was all her fault.

“Jane? Are you still in bed?”

I groaned. “No. I’m up. I just don’t want to get out of the bed.”

“Just because you’re on summer vacation doesn’t mean you can sleep until past two.”

“I’m not sleeping!” I whined.

“Get up and do something with your life.”

“Like what?”

“Something.”

“Something like what?” I cried.

“Something like scrub out the toilet.”

“You do it! You’re the one with the wand!”

“That’s it,” he said through the door. “Once you turn seventeen you’re doing seventeen years worth of chores you haven’t done because of that excuse.”

“Daddy, nooooo!” I cried, rolling over again. “I’ll get up later.”

“What happened yesterday, Pumpkin?”

I heard the door crack open.

“Oliver’s parents hate me.”

“I’m sure they don’t hate you, love.” The end of my bed lowered as Dad sat down.

“No, they really hate me. So much that they called Oliver out on running around with riffraff.” I sighed loudly. “I’m riffraff.”

“That’s ludicrous—you? How could they think that? Did you tell one of your jokes, because Jane, sometimes they get a little racy…”

I groaned into my pillow. “No, Dad, I didn’t tell a joke. I did, however, tell them that I have no intention of playing professional Quidditch, none of my family members are famous Quidditch players, and it took me an hour to catch the Snitch.”

“And that’s why they hate you?” He placed a hand on my arm.

“That’s pretty much it. I’m such riffraff.”

“So they’ve got high expectations for Oliver then?”

I nodded. “They tore him a new one for signing with Puddlmere.”

“Why? That club has great potential.”

“That’s why. Because they wanted him to sign with the reserve team for the Finches or the Tornadoes.” I rolled over and made a face. “Oliver’s dad played for the Finches a long time back and got hurt so he couldn’t play anymore. Now he has some ritzy job and he’s cutting Oliver off because he thinks Oliver is making a stupid choice. And running around with riffraff.” I smiled.

“Well, I happen to know that riffraff usually clean out toilets so you certainly aren’t riffraff.” He bent down and hugged my tight. “And if Oliver doesn’t think so, I suppose that’s all that matters. But it doesn’t—considering you can’t date a Quidditch player.”

“According to you I can’t date anyone,” I muttered, stuffing my face back into the pillow.

“Too right you are.” He ruffled my hair and stood up. “I’m going out tonight so are you all right for dinner?”

“Where are you going?”

“What? Dad’s can’t go have fun?”

I gaped at him. “Not that I’m aware of.”

Dad smiled warmly. “I’ll be back later on. You know how to get a hold of me if you need anything. There are leftovers in the fridge and some money on the table—Muggle and wizard money. And I’m sure if you beg enough Oliver will cook you something.”

“Oliver is at training camp,” I muttered.

“Well, then it doesn’t matter how much whining you do.” Dad beamed and closed my door as he left.

So much for looking forward to summer. It was stupid. I was bored.

Oliver was off at training camp and I couldn’t even pick a fight with him. Lee was in Russia somewhere contemplating whether or not to actually write a letter or just send a postcard. Alicia was probably playing Quidditch with her siblings in her stupidly enormous yard and I was sure George was having Katie over to his parents’ house for dinner so she could show off the engagement ring and Mrs. Weasley could fall over with shock. Fred was probably being Fred and throwing Angelina into some pool or water or just trying to snog her face off and take back his own record.

And here I was. Sitting in my room under my quilt while my dad went and had fun doing adult stuff, my friends did fun friend things, and my boyfriend practiced with a professional Quidditch team.

No bleeding fair.

I rolled over and snatched a roll of parchment and quill off of my bedside stand.

Alicia,

Quit having more fun than me.

Summer is horrible.

Miss you,

Jane



Was that desperate enough?

Angelina,

Stop snogging Fred so you can write to me.

Love,

Jane


Well, it was the truth.

Katie,

After you’ve taken Mrs. Weasley to St. Mungos for shock, write me back.

I’m horribly bored with Oliver training with Puddlmere.

Not that you’re a second resort.

Only you are.

With love,

Jane


That should just about do it. All of my friends would be forced to feel bad for me and at least write me a letter detailing how much they adore me and how much they miss me and that they will gladly cut their fun short just to spend loads of time with me.

Until then, though, I had the flat to myself. I forced myself out of bed and put on some decent clothes so in case some mysterious person showed up at the door I would be prepared. I tied my hair up and wandered out into the living room, flipping on the Quidditch network and shuffling into the kitchen to try and find something to eat.

Summer was too boring.



The rest of the day was equally as mind-numbing. After I sent the girls’ letters out with Dad’s owl, Kiwi, I planted myself on the sofa with a plate of leftover pizza and watched some first round playoff games. The day dragged on and on and I knew I was really pathetic once the duplicate commercials started coming on and there was an advertisement for Natural Wizard Enhancement which is when I knew it was late.

I placed the pizza plate in the sink and yawned, having worked hard to do nothing all day while my friends probably had exciting things happen to them like winning awards and kicking gnomes or something. Just as I was about to shut off the television, a knock at the door scared the bollocks out of me and I fell over the coffee table with a loud crash.

“Shit!” I cried, rubbing my shin as I limped over to the door. I glanced through the peep hole and—what in the world—how?

I ripped the door open. “Why are you here?”

“I have no idea.” Oliver looked out of breath. He was completely soaked and his Puddlemere Quidditch robes were sticking to his skin. Breathing heavily, he leaned against the door frame, getting the entire surface wet. “I wanted to see you.”

“You romantic sod,” I said lightly, pushing the door open further so he could come in.

He walked past me and tried to shuffle his shoes on the welcome mat.

“Why are you all wet?” I asked, forcing the robes off of him so he stood in my living room wearing a wet t-shirt and shorts. I hung the robes over the tub in the bathroom and raised a brow.

“It’s raining,” he said. He was blushing.

“What’s going on, Oliver?” I asked, pushing him into the bathroom and giving him a towel and blanket.

“Nothing!” he said through the door.

“Oliver Wood,” I said through gritted teeth.

He didn’t answer. Instead, the door opened and he came out without a shirt on and with the blanket wrapped tightly around his waist.

Insert: me melting.

“Don’t gawk,” he said, but Oliver smiled warmly. “Or do. It’s fine with me.”

“So tell me what you’re doing here.” I grabbed a glass of milk and returned to the living room to find Oliver on the sofa watching Quidditch. I snuggled up next to him and pulled another blanket over us. His chest was warm.

“I told you already. I wanted to see you.”

“Why? It’s nearly midnight. You couldn’t wait until tomorrow when you don’t have training?”

He made a face and smiled. “No. I told you already, I just got you. I don’t want to go back to an empty flat—and by the way I realized last night that I don’t have any photos of you so we’ll have to change that.”

I grinned. “I’m sure my dad will give you some humiliating baby pictures of me in the bath, so don’t worry about it.” I yawned loudly and turned the television down a bit. The Magpies were winning.

“I look forward to it.” He wrapped an arm around me and stared at the game. “Where is your dad anyway? Shouldn’t I be getting kicked out right around now?”

I shrugged. “He’s out doing dad things apparently.” I yawned again and closed my eyes.

“Exciting.” Oliver yawned as well and ran a few fingers up and down my arm.

I was silent for a while, listening to his breathing the same way I did during the retreat so many months ago. It was steady now that he wasn’t out of breath and I nearly fell asleep before the Bulgarian cheering jerked me away from my thoughts.

“Oliver?” I whispered, yawning again.

“Hmm?”

“I’m glad you came.”

He kissed my forehead. “I’m glad too. Go to sleep, love.”

“Kay.” I let myself drift off against him and didn’t wake until several hours later when I heard the door open. Oliver was asleep by then and his mouth was a little lopsided as he snored softly. I didn’t move but kept my left eye open slightly so I could see whether or not Dad would pull Oliver out by his collar (shit shit shit, he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Or pants. Well, he was wearing boxers and a blanket, but I don’t think Dad would take that as a good thing) and throw him into the rain or punch him in the head.

“Jane?” he whispered.

I didn’t move. I just watched out of the corner of my eye.

I saw him smile, pull the blankets further up to my collar bone, and flip off the television. Then I heard his bedroom door shut and we were in silence again.

With a grin, I kissed Oliver lightly and let myself drift back to sleep on the sofa.




There's chapter 2! And yeah, I posted a few days early. I was just excited so you guys got a present :) So...I bet you all love Oliver's parents, right?

I have a quick little thing to say: I just started a new story and I put the first chapter up. It's called Breaking the Quidditch Code and it's a James II/OC. I was wondering if some of you would go check it out since it's new and hasn't been circulating as much as Keep Away. And it has to do with Quidditch. So if you like my writing style have a look if you wanna. If not, that's fine :)

But more importantly, what do you think about chapter 2?


Chapter 3: An Awkward, Sexy Conversation
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Breakfast wafted into my nose early the following morning and I squinted slightly, unable to recall where I was and why my neck hurt so damn bad. It took me a while to realize I was still on the sofa with a blanket pulled up to my neck and Oliver was on the other side of me with a bit of drool leaking out of the corner of his mouth. And no shirt on.

I could never get tired of that.

But I smelled breakfast.

Quietly, I stood up and adjusted my shirt and flattened my hair. I wandered into the kitchen to see Dad standing over the stove with eggs in a pan in front of him and bacon spread out on the counter.

“What’re you doing?” I said, rubbing my eyes and making a face that clearly signaled being awake early in the morning was not for me.

“Making breakfast. What’re you doing?”

I wrinkled my nose. “Being awake. What time is it?”

“Nine.”

I groaned. “Why are you up? You got in late.”

“How do you know?”

“Because you weren’t here when I went to bed,” I snapped, folding my arms. “What’s the deal with this breakfast? Why isn’t it leftover tacos or cold pizza?”

“I thought I’d make a decent breakfast since Quidditch Superstar is sleeping on my sofa with no clothes on.”

“He has clothes!” I cried, nearly forgetting that Oliver was still asleep. “It was raining when he got here and his Quidditch robes were soaked!”

Dad smiled. “I know, I saw them drying in the bathroom. Nice quality robes.” He moved around the eggs with a spatula.

“So you don’t care?” I pulled out a chair and plopped down on it.

“Why should I? I told you I had my intentions speech memorized.”

Dad!

He smiled again. “No, I don’t care. I was out late anyway—who am I to tell you that you have to sit alone in a boring man-flat and watch TV?”

“Good.” I folded my arms again.

“Are you going to wake him up for food or eat all of it yourself?”

“Just when I thought you were nice,” I muttered and shuffled back into the living room. Oliver was still there, now with the blanket pulled onto his chest. “Oliver?” I whispered and he groaned. “Erm, you have to wake up now. My dad already saw you with no clothes on.”

“I have clothes,” he muttered, not opening his eyes.

“Yeah, I know. He made breakfast. Do you know how to answer the intentions question?”

“No,” he groaned. “Do I have to?”

I smiled and kissed his forehead. “That and you have to answer if we’re having sex out by the lake at Hogwarts.”

His eyes snapped open as he choked. “I have to—what?

“Nothing, I’m kidding.” I rushed into the bathroom and found his dry clothes and then returned them to him. “I’ll be in the kitchen.” Chuckling, I returned to the breakfast-smelling area and flopped back down at the table. “There. Is the food ready yet?”

Dad scooped some eggs onto a plate and nodded. “Now I know why I don’t wake you up early in the morning. You annoy me.”

“I always annoy you.”

“I wouldn’t wake you up at all if I didn’t have to.”

I tossed a piece of fruit at him and stood up to get my own plate. Oliver walked in with tossed hair and I handed him a china plate as well.

“Good morning,” Dad said with a cocky smile. I knew where I got my horrible sense of humor.

“Morning, Mr. Perry.” Oliver’s voice was stiff and terrified. Clearly he thought either Dad wouldn’t be home in the morning or he simply ignored the concept of it at all.

I shoveled some food onto both of our plates and we sat across from each other at the table, each equally as nervous even though I knew my dad posed no threat and was not about to call Oliver “riffraff” or cut me off of money. Not that he gave me any to begin with.

“So, Oliver,” Dad started and I concentrated hard on picking up each individual piece of scrambled egg with a prong on my fork. “Tell me, what are your intentions with my daughter? Arm candy? Whole body candy? Sex candy? Quidditch assistant? Girl you can use and throw away once you get all of your groupies drunk at your flat one Saturday night?”

Oliver’s face was redder than it was in his dormitory after the match. “Um…erm,” he stammered, not even bothering to push his food around with his fork. He was on the spot and obviously petrified since neither of us thought those specific phrases would ever come out of my father’s mouth. “I can assure you, sir, erm, that I…” God, it was breakfast and he was getting questions.

I, on the other hand, found this entire situation particularly hilarious. I almost kept a straight face, but when Oliver’s voice reached a pitch only dog could hear, I started laughing loudly and my fork fell into my ketchup.

Oliver’s head wheeled around to look at me.

“Dad, come on,” I said loudly, laughing. “Leave the poor guy alone. He just woke up.”

Dad smirked devilishly at me. “All right, Pumpkin, but I’m going to show him some embarrassing pictures of you later to make up for it.”

“But—wait,” Oliver said suddenly, completely abandoning the very thought of food. “That was a joke?”

Dad nodded. “A good one, I think, considering the look on your face.”

“So you don’t want to know my intentions with your daughter?”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Dad said offhandedly, now munching on his bacon, “if you so much as hurt one hair on her head, I’ll make sure you can’t get on a broom for the rest of your life, but for now my little girl is happy with you and I don’t want to get her mad at me for drilling her new boyfriend.”

Oliver breathed easier for the rest of the meal, especially since Dad then asked him all about Puddlemere and how the program as going through an overhaul.

After breakfast Dad left for work and Oliver and I spent the morning watching the beginning of the second round of the Quidditch Cup playoffs. The Finches and the Tornadoes were on and I could see Oliver twitch every time the Finches scored.

“Do we have any plans for the rest of the day?” I asked around noon, stretching and smoothing out the wrinkles in my pajama pants.

“I have to go to practice at three.” He yawned.

“Today? Aww, don’t they ever let you off the hook?”

“Never. I’m a star now, love.” Oliver smiled warmly and stood up, making his way to the bathroom to get his dry robes. “I have to go show them that I’m the best damn Keeper they’ve ever seen so I can stay up in the major leagues and maybe visit Bastian next season.”

“Do you think that would be weird? Seeing Bastian again after what happened with Alicia?”

“I don’t think it will,” he said thoughtfully, slipping on the robes. “I think he’ll be level-headed about it. He’s a good bloke. Good Seeker. I’m pulling for them in the playoffs.” Oliver flipped off the television and sat down beside me. “So will you be okay once I leave?”

“You’re spoiling me with all of this extra time,” I muttered, thinking of how alone and bored I was the previous day. “Now you’re going to go off to practice and I won’t see you for the longest time. What am I supposed to do?”

“Go have tea with my mum?”

I snorted. “Nice try. I’ll try owling the girls again I think.”

He kissed me lightly and ran a finger down my cheek. “See you later, then.”

“Show them who’s boss,” I said with a smile. “And try not to act too much like a captain.”

He raised a brow. “No promises,” he replied and left.

I was alone again.



Ten minutes later I was still alone, though the kiss from Oliver had since faded and I was now bored again. I paced around the living room and turned the Finches/Tornadoes game back on. The Finches were winning by twenty. I went into the kitchen and cleaned out the pot Dad cooked eggs in that morning.

Then I returned to my room and fell onto my bed in anguish. “Eugh!” I cried, desperately clinging to the hope that Kiki had delivered my letters by then and was on her way back with long, juicy replies from the girls.

My hopes were deemed true when I saw the owl tap against the window. I rushed across the room, tripping once again over my trunk that seemed almost strategically placed there so my shin could be injured, and threw open the window.

It was from Angelina.


Jane,

Get a life.

Only joking. I’m at home with the fam for a bit and they’re driving me nuts. I can’t have a moment’s peace without my baby sister rushing in here asking me if I want to play Quidditch in the back garden or help her collect rocks. I don’t want to collect rocks. Please don’t make me.

As for Fred, I haven’t seen him since break started because he’s been with his family and Katie at the Burrow. Yes, she told me she’s staying there for a week just to get to know the family more than she already does. She hasn’t decided on a Maid of Honor yet, but that choice will come later.

I hope we can all see each other soon. I’m sure we can go stay with Katie for a while after she spends time getting chubby because of Mrs. Weasley’s cooking.

How is dear Oliver? Did you two fight and hex each other to bits yet?

Hopefully see you soon,

Angelina



I made a face. Though she gave me a few bits of information to cling to in my sad lack of a social life, this was still nothing. I wanted a baby sister to rush in here and ask me to collect rocks. I would gladly go to some park and collect rocks.

Perhaps that was what I should start. Rock collecting. Maybe there was a gallery or something in London that would display really wicked-looking rocks. Probably the museum.

As for Fred, my gut felt a sudden pang of guilt. I had already seen Oliver a couple times since break started and I was being a horrible whiner about not seeing him every hour of every day like when we were lounging outside of Hogwarts in the sun. Poor Angelina hadn’t even gotten to snog her boyfriend’s face off in nearly a week! The shame.

And the Maid of Honor—I hadn’t even thought of that. Who would she pick? Katie had three best friends. Angelina would love it—she’d be a fantastic pick for going shopping for dresses and making invitations. As for Alicia, she would be a lovely Maid of Honor too considering she knew how to plan the best parties and her speech would be one to remember. And then me—well, if Ang or Alicia wanted it really bad, I would concede, but I figure I would be good too because I wasn’t crazy like either of them.

Well, on my good days.

Great. I spent all of two minutes going through the details of the letter and thinking them over. Then nothing. No more news. I rushed back into the living room and checked the score. The Finches were still up by twenty. What kind of game was this?!

My entire life was dull and lifeless and boring.

This was simply absurd. Where was Dan Ellis? What about Libby—why wasn’t she just popping out of the woodwork to stab me in the eyeball or tell me that Oliver was too good for me? And Mandy—what a twit! She could just knock on the door and come inside and watch the Finches/Tornadoes game with me and shoot insults at me for dating Roger and ruining her chances with him.

Pfft—Hell, I’d welcome Roger Davies through the door right now. That was desperation. Not because I hated him, because I didn’t, just because I figured that would be ridiculously awkward and might pain my physically.

Luckily, before I could go too stir crazy, Dad walked through the door with a bag of groceries and a smile.

“Bored?” he asked, noticing me standing less than a meter from the television.

“A bit,” I muttered, grabbing the back and walking into the kitchen. I took out the apples and oranges, placing them in the wicker basket on our table. “I thought summer was going to be different this year.”

“Different from what? All the other years you’ve spent weeks away from your friends and whined about it every day?” Dad made a face. “The only difference is now you have a boyfriend you’re going to whine about. I need ear plugs.”

“Do you want to watch the replay of the game later tonight? The announcers said it would be on.” I closed the fridge and smiled.

“Actually, I won’t be here later on. Do you want some money to go out and do something fun?”

“What’re you doing? It’s not a weekend. What do you have to do?”

“Do you want some money or not?”

“I want to watch Quidditch with my dad,” I muttered, releasing a bit of my teenage angst that had been building up over the past few days. Usually, I wasn’t one to give in to all that rubbish about teens lashing out at their parents, but at that particular moment I wanted to throw an orange at the wall and shout about how I needed the Finches to lose so Oliver could be happy and I needed to spend time with the only person that wasn’t far away from me—my dad.

“I understand, Pumpkin,” Dad said slowly, as if carefully considering every word that came out of his mouth. “I have plans tonight. Why don’t you go see a movie?”

“The Muggle movies all sound stupid.”

“How about you wait up for Oliver and the two of you can chat and write mean letters to the girls?”

“I can’t see Oliver until tomorrow.”

“What about that letter thing?”

I frowned even more than I already was. “Did that already.”

“Well, you can just clean out the toilet then.” Dad tossed the bag in the garbage impatiently and walked out of the room. I heard the television flip on in the other room.

Annoyed, I left the kitchen and isolated myself in my own room. There was no use trying to talk to him now. He was irritated. I was mad.

I suppose I just wanted to spend time with someone other than the wallpaper and my wonky quilt.

Pulling said wonky quilt up over my chest, I sighed in aggravation. This was a disaster. This summer was a disaster.

The worst part was my dad was right.



Though I never got around to scrubbing the toilet, I did get a good night’s sleep. The following morning I dressed quietly and pulled my hair back into a pony tail. I left my room with a new sense of self and of rest. That, and my neck didn’t hurt at last so I was less swallowed by irritation than I was the day before.

Dad was sitting at the kitchen table reading The Daily Prophet with the paper propped in with one hand and an apple in the other. He shuffled it and glanced at me. “Good morning,” he said cheerfully.

“Morning,” I said, just as joyful. I tossed a piece of bread in the toaster and flopped down next to him. “How was your night out?”

“Fine, thanks,” he said, going back to reading the paper.

“Going to work soon?”

“Yeah.” He straightened the paper again. “What are your plans for the day?”

“I’m headed to Oliver’s for a while I think.” This put a smile on my pathetic, summer-hating face. “He might starve if he is relying on cooking meals to get him by.”

“Can’t he just cook things by magic?”

I made a face. “He never bothered to learn any spell that would do him good in life.” I chuckled and grabbed my toast as it flew into the air. “Though he did learn several hexes to use in the Entrance Hall…”

“All right. Be home early.” Dad smiled widely and flipped to the next section of the paper.

“What has you in such a good mood?”

“The weather is nice today.”

“You’re a bad liar.”

“At least I know you got that trait from me.” He smiled again, this time a little more maliciously.

“Are you going to send me off to finishing school to learn how to curtsey and hold forks properly, because I’m going to have to protest.”

“Am I going to—what?

“That look in your eye. I see it.” I shoved the toast in my mouth and narrowed my eyes, walking out of the room and back into my bedroom.

That look was trouble. I had seen it before. Before he sent me off to the Magical Creatures Camp instead of anywhere cool when I was younger. Before he brought the interior designer to repaint the walls I had so skillfully painted a puke green. When he had just received tickets for the Quidditch World Cup through his office. That was a face I knew all too well. It was something I needed to know, but something he wouldn’t tell me until the last possible second.

Sodding jerk.



“You’re early.” Oliver pulled open the door. He was still in his pajamas since it was his day off and he had a glass of orange juice in his right hand.

“My dad has a secret,” I muttered, tossing my bag of oddities on the sofa and following it absentmindedly. “He has a secret and he won’t tell me and it’s not just an I-didn’t-floss-today secret, it’s something big. Jerk.”

He smiled and sat down beside me. “That’s a good thing then.”

“Excuse me?”

“It got you here early.” Oliver kissed me lightly and I suddenly remembered that I had a devilishly good-looking Quidditch star boyfriend that I could snog all I wanted. Who cared about my dad’s silly dad-weirdness secret? I didn’t. I cared about snogging my boyfriend.

And so I did.

We were on the couch for a while, my back against the mismatched throw pillows and my arms tangled around Oliver’s neck. His arms were on either side of me, his chest pressing against mine as we kissed. It was nice—wonderfully clichéd fireworks every time his lips touched mine and sooner than I expected my breathing was ragged and we were pressed together so forcefully that I was sure there was a plaid imprint in my back from one of the pillows.

Oliver pulled away for a second, letting his eyes slip open lazily so I could see the light reflecting off of their brown surface. He stared at me for a moment before whispering, “How did we fight all sodding year instead of doing that?”

“It seemed easier,” I muttered, smiling. “Why bother exposing feelings and going through red tape when you can just hex someone in the Entrance Hall?”

“Too right you are,” he said and kissed me again. “Do I have to get up?”

“Did I say you had to get up?” I pulled him back closer to me and he scooted next to me on the couch so his arm was draped across my stomach. We lay there for a moment, each completely silent. “What’re you thinking about?” I said finally, unable to bear the awkwardness that surrounded that sofa.

“Nothing.” He blushed. When I say he blushed, I mean he was the color of the Gryffindor hangings behind us.

“If you were thinking about Quidditch or the texture of the carpet, you wouldn’t be that shade of red. Oliver, what were you thinking about?”

“Nothing. I was—the orange juice on the table.”

I spun around to face him. Our faces were so close my lips almost brushed his neck. I could feel the heat off of his skin and that made me smile. “Oliver Wood. What in Merlin’s name are you thinking about? Is it about another woman because so help me God if the word Libby comes out of your mouth—”

He took a moment to make a horrifying gagging noise at the very thought. “Don’t worry, Jane, it’s about you.”

“What is it? My devilish good looks? How I’m like an angel falling from the sky and I make your life so much better every day I grace you with my presence?” I beamed girlishly and he chuckled. “I bet you were thinking that I should become a professional Quidditch player and play for Puddlemere so we can travel the world together forever and get married on a Quidditch pitch—oh, Hell.”

“What? Realized that talking about marriage is the last thing we should be doing?”

I shook my head. “I realized I can’t be a Quidditch player.”

“Well, besides the obvious reasons, why not?” He seemed to be humoring me so I would continue to change the subject. Stupid boy.

“Because I’ve sworn to make your parents continue to think of me as riffraff,” I said and Oliver laughed loudly. “I can’t very well do something they would like, could I?”

He shook his head. “Of course not. No Quidditch for you.”

“Tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“Don’t make me break out the red wine and get you drunk enough to tell me.”

Oliver raised a brow. “You might get more than you bargained for.”

“Oliver Wood, what do you mean by that?” I gaped at him. What a perv.

“Nothing.”

“I’M SICK OF YOUR CRAP.”

He nearly fell on top of me laughing as hard as he was. “All right, all right! Don’t hurt me!” He tried to catch his breath and his face was redder than ever. “Earlier I was thinking about you…well, I was thinking about you and me and…well, you get the picture.”

“What?” I made a face. What was he getting at?

“You know.”

“No, I don’t know.”

“Seriously…you know, it.

“It what? Who’s it?”

Oliver’s expression was strained. “Erm, it.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“SEX, JANE. I WAS THINKING ABOUT SEX.”

My face went pale. “Oh.” I cleared my throat. “And you were talking about the same thing a second ago?”

“I was actually talking about copping a feel, but same thing.” Oliver seemed to regain his confidence once mine went missing.

“Oh.”

He started laughing again.

“Shut up.” I turned over and he pulled me hard against his chest. “Jerk.”

“Oh, come on, Jane. Don’t be like that.” He was snickering.

“I’ll be like whatever I want.”

“Do you want to have sex?”

If I would have been drinking something, it would have been spit all over the coffee table and probably over onto the television as well. Instead, I choked loudly and had to sit up, still choking, before fixing him with a completely horrified expression.

Once again, I had been thwarted. Oliver doubled over laughing, using the pillow to muffle the sound since it got so loud.

“Oh really sodding funny!” I shouted, smacking him on the back of the head. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Why? Because it’s so completely out of the question? Should I tell Fred I’m not getting any?”

Where was this coming from?!

“Because we’ve been together for two weeks, that’s why!” I shouted in reply, my face now bordering the color of the red window hangings. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore—and tell Fred anything you want. Just don’t include me in it.”

“Who should I include? Libby?”

I threw a pillow at him. “I loathe you.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” With that, Oliver sat up, lunged himself at me, and we were back to snogging on the sofa.



A while later our clothing was wrinkled against our skin and we were both staring up at the ceiling, breathing hard. Making out was a hard task. Surely Angelina knew all about it. My lips felt tingly and my fingers were intertwined with Oliver’s.

“Is this what we’re going to do all day?” I asked quietly into the dead air.

“Is that a bad thing?”

“I didn’t say that.”

Oliver smiled and kissed my cheek. “It’s all I had planned. I don’t get to kiss you often enough.”

“You’re such a cheese,” I muttered. “What happened to the Oliver that made me run laps?”

“Let’s just say you’re lucky we’re not on a Quidditch pitch.”

I groaned. “You’d probably make me run a lap and then snog you…run a lap, snog you…and so on.”

“Yeah, probably.” His voice faded off and once again we were left to our own thoughts.

I couldn’t help but let mine wander off to where his had been earlier in the day. Not because I wanted it to go there, but because he mentioned it. Obviously neither of us was ready for a step like that. Well, he was a bloke so he was probably ready at the drop of a hat, but it was something I hadn’t even considered. He was Oliver Wood, after all. I was pretty sure he’d get all sorts of offers from pretty girls in bikinis or something while on the Quidditch trail.

Was he expecting that from me?

No, Oliver wasn’t stupid. If he hadn’t expected it from Libby…

Shit. Had he expected it from Libby?

GROSS.

The thought hadn’t even come up in my relationship with Roger. Even after Angelina told me about her and Fred I hadn’t given it a second thought in relation to myself. I should really have been thinking about that. Now Oliver was next to me letting his mind wander to my sexiness and other things highly inappropriate to anyone under thirteen.

I made a face. This was weird.

And awkward.

“Are you thinking about something different now?” I asked suddenly and he laughed.

“I’m thinking about Quidditch training. Why?”

“No reason. Just wanted to know.” My lips were pressed together hard.

“You look good naked in my head.”

“OLIVER WOOD!” I smacked him again. “Cut that out!”

“Relax, Jane, I’m only kidding with you.” He ran his fingers down my arm calmly and smiled. “It’s freaking you out and I take great pleasure in freaking you out.”

“Apparently,” I muttered darkly, but didn’t move because it felt so good just lounging beside him. “Did you have sex with Libby?”

This time, Oliver choked. He had to sit up and I patted him on the back for a moment before he responded.

“Did I—are you serious? Bleeding NO, I didn’t have sex with Libby.” He choked again. “Jane, you have to warn me when you’re about to say something like that.”

I smiled triumphantly. Not only did he not, but I also got a good response from him.

He calmly slid back down next to me and caught his breath.

“Sex with Libby,” I whispered quickly.

He coughed again, his eyes growing wide and my smile even wider.

Jane!

I giggled. There was a small tapping noise as I kissed Oliver on the cheek and I looked around. Kiki was at the window.

Rushing over to the other side of the room, I opened the window and let her fly through. I recognized the handwriting on the envelope immediately as Alicia’s. “Finally,” I said bitterly. “I thought I’d have to wait until the end of the summer to hear back from her, the sod.”

Oliver sat up on the sofa and smiled. “Alicia then?”

I nodded and tore it open. Flopping back down next to him, I unfolded the parchment. The writing was scratchy and hurried.


Jane,

Please get here immediately.

I’m staying at my uncle’s in the country.

Lee is still in Russia.

Bastian is here.

Alicia





A/N: Sorry, no chapter image this time because I thought you'd want the chapter now instead of in a few days. So...what do you think? I'm sorry that most of it was a filler, but I had to get to that ending. Speaking of which...how about that?

Don't you just adore the crap I put my characters through?

Also, quickly, I wanted to thank EVERYONE that checked out my James II story, Breaking the Quidditch Code and those who reviewed. Thanks so much and the story is turning into greatness so far--so thanks! And I put the second chapter up of that one!

So major love to all of you! Favorite quotes? What do you think Alicia is going to do?

...most importantly...what the heck is LEE going to do?!


Chapter 4: To Spinnet Cottage
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Another early present...enjoy! Happy Spring!



I shoved a few pairs of clothes in my bag—a bathing suit since Alicia’s uncle lived in the middle of nowhere and had a pond in his back yard, sweatshirt for the cool English evenings, and several other oddities that would come in handy in the country. Oliver was sitting on my bed, watching me with an irritated expression.

“I still don’t see why you have to go right now,” he muttered, handing me a few hair bands.

“I let you read the letter,” I said, out of breath. I grabbed a few rolls of parchment. “It said immediately. As in right now. She needs me.”

“She has two other best friends!” he countered. “I bet Angelina isn’t doing anything. You told me she isn’t. I bet she’s there already convincing Bastian he should be back in Brazil.”

I rolled my eyes. “That isn’t the point.”

“It’s my day off, Jane.”

“And Alicia needs me,” I repeated, grabbing a novel to read outside and a few sugar quills.

He sighed dramatically. “What am I supposed to do then?”

“Go visit the twins or something.” I tied up the bag and surveyed my room to make sure I didn’t miss anything else. I was completely out of breath by then and my legs felt like jelly since I ran back from Oliver’s flat. “I’m sure they would be more than glad to see a Quidditch star.”

He narrowed his eyes. “I guess that makes them the only ones.” Oliver stood up next to be, obviously sulking, but I didn’t care. “When are you getting back?”

“Not sure. Depends on how long this takes. But I’m sure when it blows over if I’m still there you can come and stay with us when you’re off of work. I’ll owl you, okay?”

“All right. Send me an owl and update me.” Despite being completely peeved at me for leaving, he managed a smile and kissed me lightly. “How are you getting there? You don’t have a fireplace.”

I smirked devilishly. “Dad makes me one every time I want to travel. He’s gotten quite good at it. But I can’t get right into Alicia’s so we use the outdoor fireplace off of the back deck behind her cottage. I hope it’s not raining out there, I hate using that thing when it’s raining.”

We walked into the living room to find Dad watching the Tornadoes/Finches game.

“If the Finches win tonight it’s all over,” he said, not taking his eyes away from the screen. “They’re headed for the Cup. They’re leading the series three to two.”

Oliver’s jaw twitched in irritation.

“Apparently their Keeper just got injured,” he continued. “They just called someone up from their reserve team. He’s not very good so I’m betting the Tornadoes have a shot to even the playing field and go for a game seven.”

“Daddy, can you make me a fireplace?”

“Where are you headed?”

“Alicia’s.”

“Is she okay? I didn’t know you were going.” He glanced at my bag. “For a couple of days.”

“She’s fine—just girl stuff.” I tried to smile, thinking about what she must have been going through sitting in her living room with dishy Bastian Richi.

Dad grabbed his wand off the end table and muttered a few things toward the wall. In place of our photo table was now a grand marble fireplace with a mantle and stones lining the outside.

“Show off,” I said and smiled. I turned and kissed Oliver. “I’ll let you know what’s going on as soon as I can.”

Oliver blushed.

“What?” I whispered.

He nodded to my dad.

“Oh, should we not snog in front of my dad?”

Dad cleared his throat. “You should get going instead of snogging, Jane.”

“Yes, Dad.” I smiled widely as Oliver colored further. “I’ll be back in a few days, Dad. I’ll send word if I have to stay longer.” Turning toward the flames, I threw in some Floo powder and shouted, “Spinnet Cottage” as I stepped inside.



Luckily, it wasn’t raining when I arrived and I smiled as Alicia’s uncle’s cottage came into view. After her dad died when she was young she didn’t tell us about it. Instead, she came back from the holiday break in our second year with tears in her eyes and her lips nearly sewn shut. It took us a week and a pound of Honeydukes chocolate to coax it out of her and after we did Fred and George had to do a skit where they dressed in drag in order to cheer her up again.

During the summers Alicia lived with her uncle in England and, from what I saw each time I visited, he was as much of a father figure as my own dad was to me.

Nowadays, Alicia’s mum lived in France with her two younger siblings that went to Beaubatons. They didn’t see much of each other since her mum was a society woman that didn’t want anything to do with Quidditch, but I knew as well as Alicia did that the entire family cared deeply for each other.

The Spinnet Cottage was larger than most, set out in the middle of the country with meadows surrounding it and a thicket of trees starting in the back yard. There was a pond just over a nearby hill that we used for swimming during the summer weeks and a large garden her uncle tended to and tried to force us into taking care of during many lectures about responsibility.

I knocked lightly on the back door, adjusting the strap of my bag on my shoulder. “Alicia?”

She ripped open the door before I finished her name. “Jane, thank god you’re here! I figured you’d be the first to get the letter since Katie’s at the Burrow and Ang is all the way in Wales.” Alicia stepped out onto the back patio and closed the door behind her. “He’s here.”

“So I saw in your letter,” I said with a smile.

She looked completely out of breath. “I don’t know what to do—he’s just sitting in my living room chatting with my uncle about Brazil and how they just got swept in the playoffs in the second round so they’re out.”

“How did—okay, please explain to me what’s going on.”

“That’s what happened. They got swept because he sodding sucked as a Seeker the entire series and then the day after he just showed up here at the door demanding I take him back. I told him about Lee—my voice shaking mind you—and he said he’d show me that he was way better for me instead of Lee and that he was going to win me back. I tried to kick him out but then Uncle Randy invited him for tea and Jane, I don’t know what to do! Randy loves him!”

“Well, do you want him gone? Or do you still fancy him?”

Alicia blushed. “I don’t—well, I didn’t. Not when I was writing him before. But I hadn’t seen him—the crushed look on his face—the desperation in his eyes. I just don’t know anymore.”

“Alicia…”

“Spare the lecture,” she snapped, leaning against the door. “I just need help.”

“Help with what?”

“Help with finding out who I effin’ fancy!” she cried. “You know the worst part? Randy loves him. He hasn’t even met Lee since every time I see him over the summer it’s at the Burrow or in London and he’s always out of town when you lot come and stay here for a few days. And now I’ve got this Quidditch Superstar in my living room with all of these good looks—Uncle Randy said we’d have cute babies—and all this damn talent and then Lee will come back and I’ll introduce him to a Quidditch commentator with bad grades and that is going to work for the twins one day.” She made a face.

“Do I even have to tell you that you sound ridiculous?” I asked, dumbfounded. “Because if you’re judging who you date based on what your uncle will think about his future, I think that’s pretty horrible.”

She frowned. “Yeah, you’re right. But still. It’s dishy, delicious Bastian.”

“Let’s just go inside so I can put down my bag and assess the situation.” Pushing past her, I opened the door and we walked into the kitchen. “This situation better be dire too, because it’s Oliver’s day off and he was peeved at me for coming.”

“Good old Oliver Wood,” she muttered. “Always willing to help a friend.”

I smiled and kept going into the living room. It was dark in there since the curtains were drawn and the Finches/Tornadoes game was still on. Sure enough, Bastian was sitting on the sofa in front of the window and Mr. Spinnet was multitasking between The Daily Prophet and the game. Since he was Alicia’s dad’s brother it was easier for everyone to call him Mr. Spinnet instead of Randy—he still bugged us about it but it was a hard habit to break after all those years.

“Jane!” Bastian leapt to his feet. I had completely forgotten about his wonderful Portuguese accent. “It’s so good to see you again—‘Licia didn’t tell me you were coming!”

I smiled warmly. “It’s great to see you too,” I replied, giving him a small hug. “Yeah, the girls and I decided to surprise her for a few days. I was getting bored in London.”

“I thought it would be so exciting,” he said, still beaming. “I’ve only been there a few times, though.”

“I’ve lived there too long.” I tossed my bag into the corner and plopped down next to him so Alicia didn’t have to. “But I didn’t know you’d be here—what brings you to this part of the world instead of the jungles of Brazil?”

He smiled that wonderfully dishy smile. “A lot of things actually, but we can talk about that later. You said Angelina and—Katie right?—are coming?”

I nodded. “Yeah, they should be here sometime soon.” I sighed and turned to the game. The Tornadoes were up.

“’Licia told me you and your Captain ended up together.”

I blushed. “Yep. Just after the Quidditch Final.”

“Oh, so you got to play?” Bastian smiled. “Dan didn’t get too upset I hope.”

“He was hexed, so yeah, I played.” Why was this more about me than it was him? He was the Brazilian bloke sitting in his ex’s uncle’s cottage, not me.

“So you did well then? Caught the Snitch in record time and all that?”

I snorted. “I’m no Ellis.”

Alicia’s uncle looked up and nearly dropped the paper. “Wait—hold on. Jane played Seeker in the Final? I thought you had motion sickness.”

I blushed again. “Yeah…about that…”

“Jane confided in us, thanks to an outburst by Oliver, that she never learned to fly.” Alicia smiled elatedly and I narrowed my eyes.

“No!” cried Bastian, turning to face me with a dumbfounded expression on his face. “From your confidence I thought you could fly so well.”

“She’s wobbly,” Alicia continued, “but she has talent. Once again, thanks to Oliver. But she caught the Snitch and won the game—against her boyfriend of the time no less.”

“That Davies fellow, right?” Bastian asked and I nodded. “He has a lot of talent. I wonder if he got any offers to play after school. I would have given him a few good reviews.”

“Probably,” I muttered, thinking about the way Roger and Bastian hit it off during dinner and the way they talked about Quidditch. He was so lovely—to me, to my friends, to their Quidditch superstar boyfriends. Roger would have shoved me out the door if Alicia sent a letter begging for help.

But I had Oliver now. It wasn’t in his blood to let anyone do anything that didn’t directly affect him in a positive way.

Still, though. It would be nice.

“Oliver got four,” I added about the offers, trying to keep my mind off of the genuine romantic personality Roger had.

“Wow,” said Bastian. “That’s outstanding—though I would have rather seen him in Brazil, now I know why he didn’t take us up on that.” He motioned to me. “Where did he end up deciding to go?”

“Puddlemere offered him a spot on their actual team instead of their reserve team so he went there. Plus, it’s in England so that makes it easy to see each other.” I smiled at the thought, trying to get our previous bickering off of my mine. “He got offers from the Tornadoes, Finches, and the Irish International team.”

“And did you get one after that Snitch catch?”

I blushed again. It seemed like a growing trend. “Actually, yes. From the Tornadoes for their reserve team.”

Mr. Spinnet gasped. “You only played one game and you got a scouting offer?”

Bastian nodded. “You must be amazing.”

“I’m really not—it was a lucky catch and I was wobbling all over the pitch,” I said, the temperature under my skin beginning to rise as more and more attention was focused on me. Alicia looked as if she was happy to be out of the limelight for a while and part of me wondered why she was. She was the reason I was here. She was the one with the ex boyfriend sitting beside me. She had the dad that loved the ex boyfriend. “Alicia got one too!”

They both rounded on her and quickly Alicia’s expression went from amused to horrified.

“You did? Where?” Mr. Spinnet cried.

“Finches—but it doesn’t matter. I’m going back to Hogwarts for another year anyway.” She made a face and flipped me off when the guys weren’t looking. “The league’s probably just desperate considering everyone on the team got at least one.” She shot me another look. “But anyway—Jane plays Quidditch! Surprise, right? Oh, and she’s dating Oliver now. Dishy. Drama. Katie’s engaged. Quit talking about me!

I chuckled and checked the score. The Tornadoes were still up, this time by thirty. I felt a bit guilty for not watching the game with Oliver.

Oh well. I had to stop thinking about him and start thinking about helping Alicia.

With…whatever she needed help with.

“So Jane,” Mr. Spinnet said offhandedly, “have you met Mr. and Mrs. Wood yet? I know you said you had only just started dating Oliver, but I met them last year at a fundraiser and they have…erm…high hopes for him.”

“I did meet them,” I replied with a grin. “Apparently I’m riffraff.” I would never get tired of using that word. It was like a new piece of my Oliver-dating personality. It made me feel strangely dangerous. Like I was going to walk down a dark alley in London and stab someone all while not flossing my teeth.

Danger. Jane Perry the riffraff.

“They—did they even talk to you?” Mr. Spinnet asked, his jaw nearly hitting the floor in disbelief. He ruffled his dark hair. “Out of all of the girls I’d call you riffraff last.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Alicia hazardously and Bastian chuckled. She went red.

“You’re number one.” Mr. Spinnet laughed and turned back to me. “But you play Quidditch. Last summer you told me you wanted to be on the admin board in the Ministry.” He folded the paper in his lap and thoroughly gaped at me.

I made a face, adjusting my positioning on the sofa. “That’s not how they saw it,” I muttered. “I’m the reserve. I played in one game. I took almost an hour to catch the Snitch. My dad works for the Ministry. I have no Quidditch in my family. Therefore, I’m riffraff.”

“That’s rubbish.”

“They sound horrible,” said Bastian thoughtfully and he gave me shoulder a bit of a squeeze. “My parents would never say things like that to Alicia.”

I saw her expression drop instantly. “Well,” I said quickly, “She’s a fantastic Quidditch player that wants to go pro—so she’s off the hook.”

“How did Oliver take that?” asked Mr. Spinnet, leaning forward in his chair. “Not good I assume.”

“Not so much. So unwell, actually, that he stormed out and his parents cut him off of their money—not that I complained about leaving. That food was dreadful.”

Bastian smiled as the Finches scored.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Oliver, even when Alicia tried to push everyone’s attention to the new coat of paint on the porch out front. He was probably sitting in his flat with that same glass of orange juice and his pajama pants watching the game.

Damn, I was a bad girlfriend.

No! I was helping my friends. Chicks before bros or whatever that saying was.

“Alicia?”

I flew out of my seat and rushed behind Alicia into the kitchen. Angelina was standing there with a bag over each shoulder and a curious expression on her face. “What’s going on?” she asked. “I got your letter but—are you serious or did you just want me to get here fast? You don’t have Jane’s sarcasm so I couldn’t tell.”

“He’s in there.” Alicia pointed toward the living room and I heard Bastian laugh loudly at something Mr. Spinnet was saying.

Angelina gasped. “Holy—oh my gosh, what are we going to do?”

I frowned. “Convince Alicia she doesn’t fancy the bloke.”

Alicia narrowed her eyes at me and Angelina gasped again. “You—wait, you what?

“I never said I did—I just. Well. I don’t know right now, okay?”

I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, glad you’re here. They all just found out I can fly and was offered a position with the Tornadoes even though someone here didn’t bother telling her UNCLE that she got an offer from an international Quidditch team.”

“It never came up!”

“Oh, yeah, because nothing could transition into Oh Holy Hell, I got an offer to play Quidditch professionally!” I said roughly.

“Anyway,” Alicia snapped, shoving Angelina’s bags on a chair at the table, “let’s just go back in the living room and wait for—”

“Okay, is he seriously here or were you just trying to get me here because I swear to MERLIN, Alicia,” said Katie, storming through the back door with four bags and a scowl.

“Oh, he’s here,” said Angelina, helping with the bags and dusting a bit of Floo powder off Katie’s shoulder. “He’s in the living room watching the game.”

“How did he—why?

Alicia sighed.

“You tell them,” I said, “and I’m going to put the bags in the sunroom.” I gathered up Katie and Angelina’s bags and lugged them down the hall and into a small sunroom facing the side yard. I could still hear the game going on and while I was alone I took out a small slip of parchment and addressed a letter to Oliver.

Oliver,

I’m sorry. I’m not really sure why I feel bad considering I shouldn’t, but I do. I wanted to watch the game with you. I wanted to spend the day with you since it was your day off, but duty calls. You know, girl stuff. Bastian is here. And Alicia’s uncle loves him. He’s convinced he’s going to win Alicia back and the worst part is I think she still fancies him. Which is obviously pretty easy. You were mentioned a few times. It may sound as cheesy as you, but I miss you already.

Jane


I nearly scribbled out the last part, but instead I folded it up and before I returned to the kitchen I tied the note to the Spinnet family owl, Lemon, and watched her fly off toward London.

“Jane? What’re you doing? Not helping me with this situation, that’s for sure.” Alicia’s voice echoed through the small hallway and I poked my head out of the sunroom, scowling heavily at her.

“If you’re not careful I’m going to ask him to Hogwarts for Hogsmeade weekends,” I muttered and she looked scandalized.

“What were you doing?” she asked, dropping the annoyed tone and running a few fingers through her hair.

“Sending a letter,” I said, arriving back into the kitchen. Angelina and Katie were both entertaining Bastian by then.

“To Oliver?”

“Yeah. He’s at home alone on his day off.”

She frowned. “I should send another letter to Lee.”

“Probably.”

Alicia sighed. “This is a disaster, Jane.”



That night the group of us spent hours playing Exploding Snap in the sunroom. The Tornadoes won the game, forcing a pivotal game seven, and I knew at least Oliver would be happy about something that night (and my dad, for that matter). Bastian told plenty of jokes and explained to everyone about losing in four games at the hand of the Magpies, which no one was shocked about considering they had won the European league so many sodding times.

He was wonderful company, much to the displeasure of Alicia who seemed to be internally weighing her situation the entire time.

All while Lee was hundreds of miles away speaking bad Russian and looking at heavily-painted Cathedrals.

When everyone was far too tired to lose another eyebrow (which Angelina and Katie had to patch up since I wasn’t seventeen yet), Bastian retired to the guest room and we girls set up our sleeping bags. Alicia turned out the lights and sighed heavily into the darkness.

“So,” she said finally, “what am I supposed to do?”

“Like we can really tell you,” said Katie. “What do you think?”

“I can’t even begin to get through all of my thoughts,” she replied slowly. “My head feels so clogged.”

“Try and sleep on it I guess,” said Angelina. “We’re here for you, but you have to make the choice.”

“When is Lee going to be back?” I asked quietly.

“Not sure—a couple days he said.”

“Not good.”



“What kind of eggs do you want, Jane?”

“Scrambled please, Mr. Spinnet.” I let my chin fall onto my hands as I sat at breakfast the next morning. The other girls looked equally as exhausted, but Bastian was bright and awake with a glass of milk and an orange.

“Are the boys coming to visit soon?” he asked.

Katie shrugged. “I know the twins aren’t busy. George said his mum was already fussing over wedding stuff even though we won’t even think about getting married until after we graduate. But you know Mrs. Weasley—she always has to fuss over something. And I know Fred doesn’t have anything to do since Angelina is here.” She paused quickly. “And Lee is in Russia, as you know.”

“Yeah—what about your Captain?”

“Angelina’s the Captain now,” Alicia said happily, patting Ang on the shoulder and she groaned. “But Oliver is doing training stuff I’m sure. Right, Jane?”

I nodded. “He has early morning stuff today but is free tonight and all day tomorrow.”

“Why don’t you invite them over for the night so poor Bastian isn’t outnumbered?” He mixed eggs in a saucepan with his back to us.

Angelina looked overjoyed at the thought and Katie beamed, but I wasn’t sure how the twins would react to being there while Alicia fought to figure out if she fancied her ex Quidditch-star beau or their best friend. Not to mention Oliver being new to the league and spending time with a youthful superstar.

Bollocks.

“That sounds fine. I’ll owl them,” said Ang and she became significantly more awake once she did that.

I, however, ate my breakfast in silence, thinking of all the things that could go wrong with the combination of the twins’ protectiveness and Oliver’s irritation level—especially with me at the moment once he found out it wasn’t an emergency where Bastian was holding a wand to Alicia’s throat.

They arrived around three, thanks to the speediness of the Spinnet family owl, and the girls and I were in the back garden discussing a pro-con list involving Bastian and Lee. Bastian had gone inside to get glasses of water for all of us.

“FRED!” Angelina leapt to her feet, knocking over at least two potted plants, and rushed to her boyfriend who had just stepped out of the backyard fireplace. He dusted a bit of powder off of his shoulders and gave her that Weasley twin beam in return.

“Ang!” he said, obviously not trying to be too eager, but giving that up completely when she nearly tackled him in a hug. They were snogging in under ten seconds.

Katie greeted George in a more dignified way. They were engaged, after all. They hugged and he kissed her on the cheek (probably since they had been together the entire break anyway) and held her hand as they made their way back over to Alicia and me.

“How goes it, Janey?” asked Fred, flopping down on the garden wall, trying to wipe the lip gloss prints off his cheeks.

“Not bad,” I said nonchalantly, my eyes pressed to the fireplace.

Everyone else seemed to notice that too.

“You owled Oliver, right?” asked Alicia softly.

Angelina nodded.

“I’m sure training is running late or something,” I added quickly. “He can Apparate if he wants to anyway. I’m sure he’ll be along sometime.”

I sent him that letter. That…please don’t be mad at me letter. It was very big of me to say I was sorry about anything, especially something I felt I shouldn’t be sorry for in the first place. So he should be there right then. Should have walked right through that fireplace with his cute Puddlemere robes and that cocky grin I had grown so accustomed to seeing.

Instead, the twins melted into conversation about how they were going to gain a ridiculous amount of weight over the summer thanks to Mrs. Weasley’s cooking and Fred explained how he would have to work out to keep his “sexy body” that apparently Angelina loved so much.

She rolled her eyes, but there was a rosy tint on her cheeks.

“So Bastian is here then?” George said offhandedly. He was very good at playing it.

“Yes, he’s inside getting us drinks,” I explained, giving him a warning look.

He ignored it.

“What’s he playing at?” George continued. “Alicia, didn’t you write him to tell him you were with Lee? And maybe throw in how great of a bloke Lee is and how he doesn’t shove girls to the side because he’s so bleeding famous?”

“Erm, yeah. I don’t exactly remember what it said.”

“Then what is he doin’ here?” Fred said, still wiping as he found more traces of cherry staining his cheeks.

“He’s trying to win her back,” said Katie quickly.

“And why haven’t you kicked him out already?” snapped Fred.

“Because,” Alicia said finally, louder than before, “my uncle adores him and asked him if he wanted to stay a few days since he’s this stupid Quidditch star and Uncle Randy wants to talk sports with him. It doesn’t help that he’s ridiculously charming either.”

The twins’ narrowed their eyes. “Yeah, okay,” muttered Fred.

“Shh,” I snapped, watching the back door open and Bastian walk out with water glasses on a tray.

“I brought two more!” he said loudly, shutting the door with a snap. “I saw you two had gotten here—finally, some men to talk to!” Bastian chuckled heavily and the twins tried to laugh through gritted teeth.

Where was Oliver? This wasn’t going to be good.

“Does everyone want to go out by the pond and relax?” asked Alicia suddenly. “It’s really warm and we could put our feet in.”

“I’m in!” shouted Angelina, dragging Fred to his feet and toward the hill not too far away.

“Coming, Jane?” asked Katie as she let Bastian in front of her with the waters.

“Erm, yeah,” I said, still looking at the fireplace. “I’ll be right there. I’m going to go to the bathroom quick.” Smiling, I watched them disappear over the tiny hill toward the pond. For a moment I just stood there, watching the small flames disappear behind logs, but after a while my temper rose and I marched over to the fireplace, threw a handful of Floo Powder in, and made my way to Oliver’s flat.

I needed to know the reason he wasn’t there.

And if it wasn’t death or projectile vomit, it wasn’t acceptable.




A/N: Hey everyone! Another quick update for you all! I hope you enjoyed it.

Poor confused Alicia :)

Thanks to everyone that has left me love so far :) I appreciate it. Which is why I update so darn fast for everyone! I get so inspired, haha. So...favorite quotes?

And most of all...are you glad you get your characters back? Finally some Ang, Katie, Alicia, Fred, and George! I made you wait long enough...


Chapter 5: Hook, Line, and Sinker
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Oliver was spread out on his sofa when I arrived, kicked back and watching the replays of the Quidditch game. He glanced up at me curiously as I entered through a fireplace that materialized on his wall next to the Quidditch star figurines.

“I thought you were staying at Alicia’s for more than a day,” he said thoughtfully.

I narrowed my eyes. “And I thought you received an invite to join us.”

“Right,” Oliver replied, making a disgruntled face. “I didn’t think it was a good idea.”

“Yeah, it was a much better idea making me look like an arse in front of my friends,” I muttered, taking a seat on the sofa beside him. “Fred and George got there and there I was, watching the fireplace so I could give you a big I’m-sorry hug when you jumped out of it—probably still in your Puddlemere robes—and show everyone that I had the dishiest boyfriend of them all. But you didn’t. And then they found out I had the most ridiculous boyfriend of them all.”

“Now that isn’t fair,” he said suddenly. “You haven’t heard my take.”

“Do tell because I’ve officially taken back my apology,” I said sternly.

“I knew it couldn’t last forever.” Oliver flipped the television off with a tiny smile. “Look, Jane, I just…I think it’ll be a bit weird.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean there are loads of reasons it would be weird,” he continued. “First of all, I got all the way to Brazil before completely bailing on their team. I even said I would commit to a contract and I still bailed. I’m sure Bastian won’t forget that. Their new Keeper is horrible. Did you see what the score was on their playoff games? Not good.” He sighed as I took a moment to roll my eyes. “I mean, the Finches minor-league goalie was just called up for the playoffs and that could have been me. My dad was right.”

Irritation temporarily forgotten, I placed a hand on his thigh. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t belong to a team that just needs you for a bit and then throws you back down into the gutter. You belong to a team that is being remade. Around you. That’s amazing.” I beamed. “And as for Bastian—that’s rubbish. He has nearly forgotten about the entire thing and seemed very excited about us being together.”

He made a face. “Maybe. Why is he still there anyway?”

It was my turn to groan and make a face. “Well, the thing is…Alicia isn’t quite sure what to do.”

“Don’t tell me she started fancying him again. That’s what your letter sounded like but I didn’t want to buy it.”

“He is rather persuasive, you know.”

“No, I don’t. I’m a bloke.”

I smiled. “Well, she doesn’t know right now which is what we’re trying to help with. And if you’re there it’ll make things easier.”

“Why? So she can fancy me instead?”

I choked. “No, prat, so you can get her mind off of it. I think the twins will take care of convincing her she likes Lee.” I stood up and folded my arms. “Do you want to come then?”

Oliver made a face. “But I’m hungry.”

I frowned. “So eat something and then we can go.”

“Will you fix me some toast while I get dressed?” He smiled. “Seriously, Jane, you’re an angel.” Oliver jumped up and headed into his bedroom without so much as getting a nod in reply from me.

I wrinkled my nose. That was absurd—why did he expect me to make him toast when he was perfectly capable of putting the bread in the toaster himself? Was it because I was a girl? Girls could do other things too. Like kick people really hard that made them mad.

Or get even.

I walked into the kitchen, annoyed, and popped two pieces of soft bread into the toaster. I tapped my foot for a moment, standing in the center of the lackluster room and surveyed it. Dirty dishes in the sink. Empty orange juice container on the counter. A stray Cannons figurine trying to balance between a wine glass and a china plate.

“Seriously, Jane, you’re the best!” Oliver called, opening his bedroom door. He straightened his khaki pants and beamed, throwing himself back onto the sofa.

I watched this with narrowed eyes. “I know,” I muttered.

“Butter too?”

“Die.”

He chuckled.

The toaster beeped and sent the bread flying onto the crumb-filled counter where I grabbed it and tossed it onto a clean plate. The butter was one of the few things in the fridge and I spread it angrily across the toast.

“Do you think the twins killed him by now?” Oliver asked. “There will be a lot of ticked off Quidditch fans.”

I carried the plate into the living room and stood in front of him, my weight balanced onto one foot.

“Thanks, love.”

“You’re welcome,” I replied delicately and then chucked both pieces of buttered toast at his face.

“What in the—Jane!” He quickly brushed them off, his face now a delicious shade of pale yellow. “Why in Merlin’s name would you do something like that?”

I shrugged. “You wanted toast,” I said tactfully.

Oliver groaned and pulled out his wand. “All right, I get it. Move over. We’re leaving.”

Smiling, I watched him create a prosaic fireplace with chipped bricks and mismatched colors. He folded his arms.

“There.”

“Good. Let’s go save poor Bastian.”

“Save Bastian? I thought we were saving Alicia.” Oliver slid on his shoes and laced them slowly, his eyes focused on the flames in front of him.

“That too. We’re saving Bastian from Fred and George.”



Bastian didn’t seem to need any help when we arrived since he was lounging on the beach reciting James Wright poems to Alicia. She was smiling. Angelina and Katie had scowls on their faces and the twins were red.

I waved as we walked over the hill and Angelina leapt to her feet.

“Oh, thank god I thought you’d never get here,” she breathed, grabbing my hand and tugging me toward the water. “Hi, Oliver.” Her eyes flew back to me. “Do something about this. Fred’s plotting something and Alicia just keeps getting deeper and deeper.”

I made a face. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Isn’t that why we invited him?” Angelina jabbed her finger in Oliver’s direction. “Oliver, do something.”

“You’re quick to take charge since I’ve graduated,” Oliver said, a smile curling up his lips. His eyes focused on everyone and then he walked ahead of us toward the goggling Alicia. “Hey,” he said cheerfully and she smiled. “Nice to see you, Bastian. Sorry about the team.”

“Don’t think on it—I would have come back too.” Bastian nodded to me.

Oliver colored a bit. I could see it on his ears from where I stood with Angelina. “I see you heard about the Quidditch Final.”

“I did. Congratulations on the win.”

“Thanks,” said Oliver, turning toward Alicia. “Look, I’m here for a reason, Spinnet. That reason is as follows.” She cocked a brow at him, but Oliver revealed nothing as he bent down, scooped her up, and even though she was kicking and screaming to prevent it, he chuckled her into the murky pond.

Angelina and Katie, along with the twins, erupted in laughter and I rushed over to the pond to help her out, only managing to get my feet sunk a few inches into the sand. Bastian was silent for a few seconds as he watched on.

“Who wants to join her?” Oliver said with a giant smile on his face. “Ang?”

Instead, I was the next to find my clothes sticking to my skin as Oliver launched me into the pond. I surfaced, spitting water onto Alicia, and glowered at him.

“You turned on me!” I shouted as Fred helped his twin throw Katie in and then rounded on Angelina. She tried to make a break for it but failed miserably when Fred caught her around the waist and threw her over his shoulder.

At least she managed to take him down when she went in, splashing me.

I grabbed Oliver around the middle and he jumped, trying to rush toward the shore but I kicked out his legs and he came down nearly on top of me, sputtering water and cursing something about crazy women. His clothes were soaked and when he stood up I could see his leg muscles through his khaki pants.

“Coming, Bastian?” Angelina asked as George shed his shirt to jump in after them.

“I’m all right up here,” Bastian said, sending a little smile our way. He shifted so he was leaning back onto his elbows while Fred tossed Angelina further into the pond.

“Whassamatter?” asked George with a hint of a sneer. “Designer shirt?”

“Actually, yes,” he replied solemnly. He looked like he was trying to bite his tongue, but anyone in their right mind wouldn’t snap at the close friends of the girl they wanted back.

George made a disgusted face and then grabbed for Alicia. I saw what he was doing, hoisting her up in the air so that her clothes clung to her body. He watched Bastian’s expression with a look of satisfaction on his own face and tossed her back into the water, but not before holding her over his head by the thigh and stomach.

A muscle in Bastian’s jaw twitched.

I swam around for a bit, irritated that I was being bogged down by my clothes, and watched the activities around me. For a while Fred tried to follow in George’s footsteps and monopolize Alicia, but then he somehow got reattached to Angelina’s lips and they didn’t surface for air.

Instead, Oliver took charge of entertaining Alicia by splashing her repeatedly, causing her hair to fall into her frustrated face so she couldn’t see. He took these opportunities to splash more and then to finally dunk her. She came up choking and laughing and then tackled him while he tried to announce his superiority. Leave it to Oliver to let his guard down to be pompous.

As Alicia stood up and flexed her muscles, giggling at Bastian, I snuck up behind the coughing Oliver and tackled him again. I made sure to get a nice feel on his stomach which was harder since he started training with Puddlemere. He raised a brow at me when we surfaced, reaching under the water and grabbing my rear end.

I squeaked. Katie looked over and raised an amused brow.

I blushed.

Oliver chuckled and kissed my wet nose.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this,” Alicia said, groaning at Oliver’s gesture. “I just can’t get the image of them at each other’s throats out of my head. Fight or something, this is getting weird.”

“Perry, laps,” Oliver said and I splashed him.




After about an hour of lugging my clothes around the pond, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time for dinner. Angelina’s stomach was rumbling and nearly shaking the water and Fred needed to clean the girl off of his face. His lips were red and puffy since they hardly detached the entire time they were in the pond. Once Alicia climbed out, Bastian took her hand and led the way back up to the cottage.

I saw the red tint on her cheeks.

“This is rubbish,” muttered Fred, ringing out his striped shirt. “We aren’t doing our job if we let this happen.”

“It’s not your business,” said Angelina.

“I thought that’s why you brought us here,” he replied.

“That’s why we wanted Oliver here, not you.” She put her hands on her hips and started to make her way up the hill, Fred at her heels. “I wanted you here so I could snog your face off. You’re too biased in the subject.”

“Because I’m best friends with Lee?”

She nodded. “So you don’t get a say.”

“What do I get a say in?” he asked and hopped over one of the benches.

“You know.” Angelina winked.

I gagged a bit and wondered why. What was so gag-worthy about sex? I pondered about how many times they had done it. Had it been often, out by the lake? The Quidditch pitch? Fred’s dormitory? I wondered about the impact of it on their relationship, and all I noticed was that it seemed to bring them closer. They were nearly inseparable and though they bickered they looked as close as they had ever been.

Katie lagged behind a bit because her hair was still wet and she was using her dry sweater to try and counter that. George helped her up the hill and they caught up to where Oliver and I were walking hand-in-hand.

“It’s not like I’m meddling,” he muttered. They were apparently having the same conversation Angelina and Fred had.

“You are,” she said flatly. “And so help me Merlin if I see your hand on Alicia’s thigh again I’m going to give my engagement ring to her instead.” She was smiling, but George knew she was telling the truth.

I watched a grin play on Oliver lips and he squeezed my hand. We held back for a moment by the fireplace and he moved a strand of my hair behind my ear, brushing my cheek with his fingertips.

“So that’s why they wanted me here?” he asked softly.

I shrugged. “Must be. So what are you going to do about it?”

“Watch,” he said with a cocky smile. “What do you want me to do? Knock Bastian in the face and tell him what he’s doing is wrong? I can’t do that. He’s a bloke in love. I don’t have any business telling him who he can’t love just because I’m mates with the girl’s boyfriend.”

I narrowed my eyes. “That’s the stupidest argument ever.”

“To you,” he said. “It’s a bloke code, if anything. I can help bring out his qualities, but that’s it.”

“Is that what you did there?” I pointed in the direction of the pond. “You threw Alicia in because you knew Bastian wouldn’t go?”

“I’ve seen that shirt before,” Oliver said, looking toward the darkening sky. “He wore it in the last issue of Quidditch Weekly when he had that article run about his new lifestyle now that he’s a star. Said it cost a hell of a lot of money. I knew he wasn’t going in with that on.”

“But why not just take it off?”

“He’d lose status, that’s why.” He pulled me close and kissed me and I wondered what that had to do with the conversation. I figured he just wanted to kiss me. What a sod. “I wanted to show Alicia that Bastian wouldn’t do those fun things with her like go swimming randomly. He’s a good bloke, though, and if that’s what she wants then that is who she’ll pick.”

I groaned.

“Just admit I’m right.” Oliver pulled open the door and I heard the scrapes of cutlery on ceramic plates.

“I won’t,” I replied.

He was blocking the doorway, his big Keeper body keeping me away from the food.

My stomach rumbled. “Oliver, get away from the bleeding door.”

“Tell me I’m right.”

“No.”

“Then start munching on grass.” He chuckled and folded his arms arrogantly. I wanted to punch him in the chest. “Go on, tell me.”

I paused for a moment and sized him up. I bet I could take him.

Right. In my dreams. Maybe not even then.

“Mr. Spinnet! Oliver won’t let me inside!”

He looked scandalized. “Tattle-tale!” he whispered, horrified.

“Why?” Mr. Spinnet called with an obvious mouthful of food.

“She won’t admit I’m right!” Oliver said loudly and my jaw dropped.

“Jane, he probably is. Just say it and get in here and eat. The corn is getting cold.”

If he wouldn’t have looked ridiculous, Oliver would have done a happy dance right there. He smirked again, that same one I was oh-so-familiar with, and leaned against the door frame just to get in a better position to hear me admit he was a right stupid sod.

“You’re right,” I muttered, my eyes downcast.

“Thank you.” He leaned to the right and let me pass.

I walked into the kitchen and Alicia had her mouth lopsided. Then I turned. “You’re a right sod, that’s what you are. And you aren’t right.” It was my turn to smirk.

Then George threw a piece of broccoli at me. “Mean woman, Jane Perry.”

“Thank you,” said Oliver, taking a seat and elbowing me in the side. “Blast your treachery.” He chuckled and helped himself to a plate full of various vegetables and a piece of pork as everyone launched back into conversation.

“When’s the big game seven?” asked George hungrily. The guys looked at him like he was insane. “I’ve been around a bunch of women talking about lace and frills for the last couple weeks, don’t look at me like that.” Katie grinned.

“It’s tomorrow at noon,” Mr. Spinnet said. “Will you lot be here?”

“I don’t see why not,” said Fred, “especially if you’re offering to feed us.”

Mr. Spinnet smiled. “Speaking of that—what’re you doing after school? Alicia told me about wanting to go pro, but I don’t know about the rest of you. And if you say you want to go into the Ministry I’ll send you all out of here.”

I smiled. Mr. Spinnet had never been a fan of the Ministry since they ruled in favor of his sister-in-law after his brother’s death and she got complete custody of the kids even though she was never there for them.

“You know us,” said Fred, shoveled a spoonful of potatoes into his mouth. “Joke shop. We’re getting the forms together now. It’s going to be brilliant.”

“I think I’m looking to go pro as well,” said Angelina, making a face while she thought. “I don’t know which team—I guess it depends on how well I play next season, right?”

“Have you decided yet?” Mr. Spinnet asked Katie.

“Not really,” she said and Alicia raised a brow. “I might want to play Quidditch but I might want to do something a bit closer to home with less travel. Especially since I’ll get to see George more often.” She was glowing. I was a bit disgusted, really.

“That’s a valid point,” he said. “Jane?”

I shrugged. That was it. Already I had been shot down about my ideas for a future by Oliver’s parents and I wouldn’t have anyone else do it. I thought for a moment about telling them of my ideas to be in the administration part of Quidditch—scheduling matches or editing columns in Quidditch Weekly. Obviously I wouldn’t mention my slight interest in the Ministry, even though it would be nowhere near the business sections and instead be in Magical Games and Sports, but it was still unsafe.

“No prospects?” Mr. Spinnet asked.

I shook my head. “Nope.”

Oliver cast me a sideways glance but said nothing.

“I really like the idea of the future,” Bastian said and Fred rolled his eyes. “It’s like you’re always trying to get there, but you never quite make it. I have a plan, of course, but I’m not sure if it will play out perfectly. I think that’s part of the fun in it.”

“What is it?” Alicia asked anxiously, putting her fork back on the table for a moment.

“I want to keep playing Quidditch of course, until I’m too old to fly straight—but within the next few years I want to get married and settle down. Maybe in Brazil. Maybe here, in England.”

Mr. Spinnet’s eyes lit up at this comment.

“My wife can work if she wants, but she wouldn’t have to,” Bastian continued, staring directly at Alicia and her shimmering eyes. “I’d have enough money for the both of us and we could take holidays in the Alps and swim in the Caribbean any time we wanted. And then I want to have children—two at least I think and one has to be named Alexander like I told Alicia—and get a large dog. I’ve always liked larger dogs.” He paused and Alicia didn’t move. I saw Fred pretend to gag. Angelina elbowed him. “We’d come to visit during the holidays and sometimes let the kids have too much sugar, but we’d spend our nights looking up at the stars and lying in bed reading poetry.”

“Bastian, that’s beautiful,” breathed Alicia.

“Not as beautiful as you,” he whispered.

To be honest, I thought she was a bit of a sucker for all of it, but it was delivered with a heavy Portuguese accent so I almost fell for it. Then Oliver squeezed my knee and I snapped out of it. He should have gone over and squeezed her because she fell.

Hook, line, and sinker.

“That’s quite a plan, young man,” said Mr. Spinnet and Alicia’s eyes snapped up. “It’s a lofty goal but I think having something like that is very important. I wish you luck. Any girl would be lucky to be on the receiving end of that goal.” He smiled and I knew he meant he wanted Alicia to be that girl.

Hook, line, and sinker.

“Maybe I’ll be a Quidditch writer,” I said suddenly and the group turned to gaze at me. “For Quidditch Weekly or something. I could interview the players. I don’t know, maybe.” Without warning my face was hot and my palms were sweaty with attention.

“That’s not a bad idea,” said Angelina, catching on to where I was going. “I’ve always thought you were a good writer, Jane. I copied your Transfiguration notes for years.”

Katie nodded. “Great idea. I bet you would get it in a heartbeat!”

I tried to regain control by adding a few things about how those magazines tend to work, but I had already lost Alicia. She was back to staring into Bastian’s large brown Brazilian eyes as he smiled warmly at her with his characteristic Quidditch-player grin. He was dishy, all right, and her eyes fell from his Quidditch star lips, down to the muscles poking out of his sleeve and the way his shirt stretched over his chest.

Hell, I almost fell for Bastian sitting there.

Luckily, I snapped out of it thanks to a loud knock on the back door behind us.

Oliver stood up, tossing his napkin on the table as Alicia continued to be mesmerized and Angelina changed the subject to the suspected outcome of the Tornadoes/Finches game. He pulled it open hurriedly and took a step back, nearly choking.

I spun around and coughed loudly.

Lee Jordan stood at the back door with a darker tan, a bouquet of flowers, and a whole list of problems waiting for him.



A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. I don't really have much to say about it... just what do you think it going to happen?

And favorite quotes?

Leave me love, thanks to everyone who has been reading this! You're all amazing!

P.S. How hot is Bastian in that chapter image? 


Chapter 6: Flash of a Firefly
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I wanted to use Lee for this chap, but Bellazon was down...
I'm sure you love the twins as well, right?







I could feel the heat off of Alicia’s cheeks when Oliver shut the door behind Lee. She was completely frozen, her jaw lopsided and nearly resting on the table and her eyes the size of saucers. My eyes followed along the table to Bastian, who had the clear expression of fury on his tan face. His palms were against the wood table, ready to stand up if necessary.

Lee!” shouted Fred, leaping to his feet to hug his best mate. “Are these flowers for me? You silly sod, I like daisies like Jane—not roses!”

Lee did not reply and allowed himself to be hugged without moving. His eyes were on Bastian.

“How was Russia?” asked Katie quickly.

Still, Lee said nothing.

“Did you wear one of those fur hats?” said George. “I would have brought some back for us. Hogwarts get cold in the winter. I remember Durmstrang having those hats.”

“What’s he doing here?” Lee said in a whisper. He lowered the flowers to his side and motioned toward Bastian. “I thought he was in the playoffs. I thought you wrote to him and told him you weren’t going to see him again. Ever.”

Alicia cleared her throat, carefully preparing for her next move. I mentally wished her luck. “Bastian came to visit after Brazil lost in the second round of the playoffs,” she explained calmly. “He came to see me.”

“Why? What’s the point?”

“Can we talk in the living room?” she asked.

I could tell Bastian wanted to jump in and give Lee a few choice words in the situation.

“Am I missing something?” Mr. Spinnet asked loudly. “What’s going on, Alicia?”

“Erm,” she said, obviously forgetting her uncle was even sitting there. “Randy, this is Lee Jordan. He’s in Gryffindor with me, but you haven’t met him yet.”

“And?” Lee said impatiently.

“Let’s go talk in the other room.” Her eyes were settled on the table and I could see them start to reflect the surroundings.

Lee made a move toward the other room, but first paused and looked at Mr. Spinnet. “It’s nice to meet you, sir. I’m Lee Jordan—Alicia’s boyfriend.” He led the way and Alicia followed him, closing the door behind her.

The room was silent for a moment.

“Did everyone else know this?” asked Mr. Spinnet.

We nodded slowly.

“He’s been in Russia for the last week or so,” said Angelina. “They’ve been dating since just after the Easter Holidays.”

“So where did you come into the picture?” he asked Bastian.

“Bastian dated Alicia over the Holidays and for the week after while he visited,” Angelina continued, trying not to let anyone say anything that might get someone in trouble. “They agreed to call it off when he went back to Brazil to play again.”

“But that we’d see each other over the summer,” Bastian said finally. “I wanted her to stay in Brazil with me.”

“If things worked out,” George cut in. “And things worked out between her and Lee.”

“That’s crazy,” Bastian said heavily. “She can’t be happy with him. The whole time I was at Hogwarts he was mad and isolated.”

“Because he wanted Alicia!” Fred shouted and Angelina silenced him with a look.

I stood up and leaned against the door. For a moment it all I heard were whispers, but soon I didn’t need to be anywhere near the door to hear what the pair were talking about on the other side.

“How can you say that?” Alicia’s voice was loud, something I didn’t think I could ever be used to. Usually when she was mad she threw things or threatened people, but yelling was something of a rarity from her. That was usually reserved for Ang. “How can you say that he’s going to use me when he came all the way to the boring countryside of England just to try and win me back?”

“And you’re letting him!” Lee shouted. I heard him slam the flowers onto the coffee table. “You’re letting him woo you with that stupid crap—he’s probably read you poetry by now. Taken you on one of those midnight dinners. Lounged on the beach. All the rubbish I told you we were going to do this summer once I got back—and here you are doing it with another bloke.”

“It’s not even like that. Don’t be so dramatic.”

“Don’t be—what in blazes do you want me to be?” Lee said. “Oh, okay, let’s just have a nice dinner where I eat with the famous ex of my girlfriend who conveniently forgot to tell me in her letter that the ladies-man Bastian Richi is staying in the cottage with her and everyone else—you didn’t even tell me the girls were here.”

“I was busy! I was trying to figure things out!”

“I thought you had everything figured out!”

“So did I!” Alicia cried. Fred made a face from the table. “I thought so too but now I’m not sure…He…he has plans, you know?”

“And I don’t have plans?” Lee asked dangerously. “Or is it because his involve loads of money and fame and mine involves doing what I love and being in love?”

The silence was deafening and I stepped back from the door quickly just in case it flew open. The entire situation was horrible. Bastian clenching his fists at the table. Lee’s bitter voice. Alicia’s confusion. The twins’ irritation.

“Don’t be like this,” Alicia said, a little quieter. “My uncle hasn’t even met you properly yet.”

“This makes it a lot easier,” he said roughly, “you not even introducing me as your boyfriend. He looked shocked—did you even tell him about me?”

“I was going to!” she cried. I twisted my hands around in front of me. “I was going to while we were watching Quidditch and then all of a sudden Bastian just showed up and I had to owl the girls to get them here and—oh, Lee, this is a mess.”

“What am I supposed to do? Walk back out there and pretend I don’t want to kick him in the face?” he asked. “What a pompous git, coming in here when he knew you were happy. He’s made you miserable.”

“I’m not miserable.”

“He’s made you into someone that isn’t Alicia.” Lee said this comment a little quieter than his others and I could tell he was saddened by it. The truth was, I quietly agreed. The past day or so Alicia had been high-strung and panicked and even though her situation was weird and complicated, that wasn’t her. At Hogwarts it was her style to sit back and take life and make choices based on her heart.

Her heart didn’t seem to want to cooperate. She was partly Angelina in her irrational choices, partly Katie in her willingness to make everyone happy, and partly me in her ability to fall for the things she should avoid. But she was not Alicia.

“I’m me,” she whispered. I could barely hear anymore. “I want you to stay for dinner, Lee.”

“Why?”

“Because I want you to. Please.”

I heard a loud sigh come out of him. “All right. For dinner. We’ll decide from there. But it’s mostly because I want to see my mates since I’m still royally peeved at you.”

“Yeah,” she said sadly and I jumped further out of the way as the door opened.

“Like I said,” said George loudly, “the Tornadoes are going to take it and go to the Cup game.”

“You always predict a team for the Cup when you’re making up a conversation,” Lee muttered and slid into an empty seat between the twins. “You’re such a bad liar.”

“Katie tells me that too,” George replied soberly.

“If you wouldn’t lie about things like color preferences for the wedding, I wouldn’t have to call you a liar,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him, but I could tell she was irritated about it.

“So,” Mr. Spinnet said loudly. “It’s nice to meet you, Lee.”

“You as well,” Lee said, trying his best to be polite but his eyes were focused on Alicia’s reddening face from her seat beside Bastian.

“Tell me,” Mr. Spinnet said, “you go to school with Alicia then? Why haven’t I seen you around?”

“My family goes on a lot of summer holidays,” Lee replied, temporarily letting Alicia drift from his mind as he smiled. “After that everyone is usually at Katie’s for a few weeks and I meet up there. But this year I wanted to come home a few weeks earlier for a couple special things and to see Alicia since I had a reason to come back.”

“Good thing,” muttered Fred. Angelina elbowed him in the side.

“Well, I’m glad to meet you. So you lot are in the same year?”

Lee nodded heavily. “Yeah, finally going to be seventh years next year. I can’t believe it.”

“We were just talking about futures before you got here,” Mr. Spinnet said lightly, motioning to me. “Jane said she might want to be an editor for a Quidditch magazine.”

“Did you, Janey?” Lee asked, cocking a brow in my direction. “I never knew that. I guess after finding out you never learned to fly nothing can come as much of a shock anymore.”

“Do you have any plans for after you graduate?” Mr. Spinnet put some vegetables on his plate.

I felt bad for Lee at that point. He had no idea what he was getting into—the act he had to follow. I wanted to do something to avert the attention—quick, I could do jumping-jacks on top of the table and shower Angelina in broccoli. Anything to keep Lee from answering. Anything to keep him from getting looking down upon like I had been during dinner with Oliver’s parents.

“Oh yeah,” he said excitedly. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to go into business with Fred and George. They’re right geniuses, but I’m sure you know that. They’ve offered me a good job in their shop—well, maybe shops depending on how popular they are.”

“No Quidditch then?”

Lee shook his head. “I’m the commentator right now for Hogwarts, but I don’t play. I’m not terrible with a pick-up game, but I just don’t have the talent these people have. Especially Alicia, she crushed most of the Ravenclaw team during our last match.”

“It’s true,” Oliver cut in and I sighed happily. “After Angelina got injured and I had Katie tailing her, Alicia stepped up and scored most of the goals.”

“That’s great to hear,” Mr. Spinnet said. He looked happy, but anyone could see the disappointment in his eyes for having his neice’s boyfriend express the desire to work in a joke shop while the suitor there for her heart wanted to take her to the highest peaks and spend money on diamonds and ice sculptures and other absurd things that no doubt Bastian would think of.

A little part of me wondered why Oliver hadn’t given me anything from the heart like flowers or diamonds or things that Quidditch superstars could afford. Or at least a piece of bubblegum. Did he think now that he had me I wasn’t going away? What if I met someone better? He would have to hold on tight.

Oliver didn’t seem to be thinking the same thing as he finished off his plate and placed it in the sink. “So what now?” he asked to the quiet table, regaining his captain authority as if we were sitting in front of our lockers with scarlet robes pressed against our skin.

“Should we go catch fireflies?” Angelina suggested.

“Are they out?” Fred asked.

She placed her plate in the sink and peered out the window. “There are a few out there. Grab some jars!”

“Alicia,” Mr. Spinnet said, “would you mind cleaning up?”

The twins grabbed a handful of jars and the rest of us left Alicia to the dishes and walked out onto the deck. It was chilly but I wrapped my sweatshirt around my arms and turned to Angelina.

“Let’s do this girls against guys,” she said loudly. “That’ll make it fun. That, and the girls can prove yet again that we’re better.” Angelina beamed and Fred rolled his eyes.

Though it sounded silly to me, the appeal was beating Oliver. It was rare that Oliver had anyone beat him in anything and to have the opportunity sitting right in front of me was tempting. I grabbed a jar for Alicia and me to share when she returned and I let my Seeker-wanna-be eyes adjust to the darkness.

“Think you have a chance?” Oliver whispered.

“Pompous git,” I muttered, prodding him in the side. “If I win you have to agree with me on everything for a week.”

He raised a brow and I knew the stakes had been raised. I almost regretted it just by the devilish smirk that embraced his lips. “All right, Perry. If I win you have to meet me behind the tool shed just after midnight.”

“Why?”

“Because you do.” He opened the lid on his jar.

I was a sucker for the look on his face, so I stopped myself from blushing by turning my attention to Angelina.

“All right. We’re going to catch them for, let’s say, ten minutes and then count them up. Ready?”

“Is Alicia here yet?” Katie asked. “I don’t want to be one girl down—there is already one guy too many!” She laughed.

“You’re telling me,” I muttered George.

“I’m here!” Alicia said, rolling the sleeves down on her shirt. “Did you start without me?”

“No,” I replied, handing her the jar. “We’re sharing.”

“Ready everyone?” Angelina said cheerfully. The twins were sharing a jar. So were Angelina and Katie. Oliver held his own. That left Lee and Bastian next to the fireplace glowering at each other.

Not good.

“Go!”

I tore off toward the hillside grabbing for the glowing bugs that I so rarely saw. My fingers closed in around nothing for a few minutes as I let the wind whistle through my hair. Alicia was nearby and I saw our jar already had two in it so at least she was doing her job.

Though more than likely she just wanted to get the boys out of her mind.

Oliver seemed determined to win. He rushed over to the nearest patch of trees and I hadn’t seen him so serious about a game since Quidditch. Then I remembered the comment about the tool shed. Did I really want to win? That tool shed sounded a lot more interesting.

But what if he wanted…what if he was thinking about…?

I grabbed two fireflies at once. Oh, hell no. I wasn’t losing. Not now. I couldn’t. Not tonight.

“How many do you have there?” Alicia said, gaping at me as I shoved four into the jar. “You’re catching them like it’s a competition for a country’s happiness or something.”

“Happiness is an interesting word,” I said, out of breath as I tore off toward the pond.

Lee was over there grabbing a few near the water and Bastian was a few feet away. The twins were not too far to their left, catching fireflies by making weird noises and jumping out from behind trees. I doubted it was very effective, but it made me giggle nonetheless.

“I have a few more,” Lee said dully and Bastian handed him the jar. I saw two fly out. “Whoops,” he said.

“Watch it, man,” said Bastian, screwing the lid on tight.

“I could tell you the same thing,” snapped Lee, turning his back and going for another one.

Who had the idea to have them share a jar?

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bastian stood there in the sand, one hand on his left hip and the other hand holding the glowing jar. “I don’t have to watch anything—I have everything I need.”

“Not yet you don’t,” Lee muttered in return, grabbing another bug. He grabbed it so hard it was squished in his hand and his skin was a pasty yellow for a moment.

I grabbed another firefly and held it in my palm.

“What’s standing in my way?” Bastian asked quietly. “A formality? An over-tempered boyfriend back from Russia? I’ve competed in Quidditch against more than that.”

“I could take you,” Lee said, a bit louder this time. He still didn’t turn around, but I noticed the twins were listening now.

“Oh right, and where are you going in life?” Bastian asked. I could tell this was a side of him even he rarely saw as his face filled with so much color that I could openly tell in the darkness. I felt Alicia as she walked up beside me in silence with the jar. “The back room of a joke shop?” Bastian sneered a bit.

“Hey!” cried Fred suddenly and both boys turned. “That’s our joke shop you’re ragging on!”

“I want to give Alicia what she deserves,” said Bastian, ignoring Fred, “and that is a life of luxury. She’s special and it’s obvious you have no idea.”

“I want to give her what she deserves too,” Lee said. His voice was quiet and I could barely hear him over the sound of Angelina laughing from the cottage. “She deserves better than just money and trips and jewelry. She deserves to be taken care of—and not in the way you want to do it.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“You want to pamper her and show her off while everyone pays attention to you!” Lee shouted. “Alicia doesn’t need that. She has never needed that. She’s the one that deserves the attention. She’s special enough for an entire group of people and I won’t have her following someone around when it should be the other way around.”

Bastian gaped at him for a moment. “You’re out of your mind. I want to give Alicia everything and you’re going to give her a sappy speech.”

I took Alicia’s hand in my own and squeezed it.

“I want to love her,” Lee said, barely above a whisper.

Alicia shook beside me. I reached over and hugged her tight, smoothing out her hair as she trembled against my shoulder.

“Time’s up!” Angelina shouted from the cottage. “Fred, you better have a lot because I have so many!”

I quickly steered Alicia away before the boys saw we were standing there and I let her stand behind the fireplace so no one would see she was sobbing. I handed Angelina the jar and put my arm around Alicia again.

“All right—Oliver got fifteen.” Angelina paused. “That’s ridiculous. Was that jar all yours?” Oliver nodded. “Okay then. Lee and Bastian got four. Fred and George got eight. What happened? I thought you lot went over by the woods?”

Fred shrugged, looking at the ground in a very un-Fred-ish way.

“Fine then.” Angelina let the fireflies go from the boys’ jars and went to ours. “Jane and Alicia managed twelve. Jane, I saw you running all over the place, that’s horrible.” I tried to smile but it didn’t come. Oliver’s eyes were searching me. Angelina’s finger pointed to the little glowing bugs in her own jar. “And Katie and I ended up with fifteen like Oliver.” It took her a moment to do the math, but when a smile erupted on her lips I couldn’t help but let one onto mine as well. “The girls win by one. How’s that feel, Fred?”

He shrugged.

Angelina looked horribly put out. Lee was sulking on the other side of the fireplace. Bastian looked murderous. The twins had identical looks of irritation. Though I smiled, Alicia clung to me, still shaking a bit. Oliver allowed a smile because he had no idea what had happened, but otherwise the game had lost all appeal even though Oliver would be agreeing with me for a week.

I didn’t seem to care at all.

“I think I’m going to go to bed,” whispered Alicia, trying to wipe her eyes on her sleeve.

“Good idea,” I said, walking with her toward the door. I didn’t let anyone in after her and I turned back to the group. “Alicia’s going to bed.”

Angelina nodded slowly.

“Could I go in and talk to her?” asked Bastian.

I shook my head. “She’s not feeling well. I think she needs to be alone.”

He nodded politely. “With that being said, I think I’ll go down by the beach and watch the stars for a bit.” He walked off in the other direction and disappeared on the other side of the hill.

“This is just getting ridiculous,” said Angelina, tossing the last jar into the grass. “What are we supposed to do?”

“I’m going to take a leaf out of Alicia’s book and turn in for the night,” said George.

“Oh yeah, you’re nice and worn out after picking on Bastian the whole day,” said Katie in irritation. She folded her arms and George shrugged in return.

“I’m with him,” said Fred and the twins retreated inside followed slowly by their girlfriends. Katie picked up the jars before returning to the cottage and closed the door with a snap behind her.

“I think I’m going to take off,” Lee said from beside the fireplace. “I don’t think this is going to work.”

Oliver sighed loudly and took a seat on a chair under one of the umbrellas.

That was his way of stepping back and letting me have my way. Of agreeing with me.

“Don’t,” I said suddenly and Lee raised a brow. “Don’t go, Lee. I know it doesn’t look like it now, but this will be over soon.”

“How do you figure?”

“Alicia and I heard you and Bastian down by the lake.”

His ears went red. “I didn’t mean for her to hear that.”

“She started crying,” I explained slowly. “She loves you, Lee. I promise you that. But if you leave I think she might forget it.”

“Why should I have to stick around for her to remember she fancies me?”

I frowned. “Because you’re a stupid boy and stupid boys don’t understand conflicting emotions. She’s stuck between two people that really care about her. But she heard you. She heard you and she needs time.”

He didn’t seem entirely convinced.

“Look,” I said impatiently, “if she doesn’t pick by tomorrow you can go on home and sulk in peace.”

“Fine.” Lee folded his arms. “I guess I’ll turn in too then. No point in being out here with the Brazilian prat-bag.” He pulled open the door and went inside.

I turned to Oliver. “That went all right,” I said quietly, plopping down on his lap and smoothing the hair away from his face. It hadn’t been cut for a while and it was spilling over his ears. “Maybe he’ll do the smart thing and sneak into the sunporch and talk to her tonight.”

“Lee? The smart thing?” Oliver cocked a brow at me and kissed me. “We’ll see how it turns out. It’s in Alicia’s hands now. No more meddling.”

“Tell that to Fred and George,” I muttered, leaning my head onto his shoulder. I was silent for a moment, watching the fire burn beside us, and then I thought of something. “Why did you want me to meet you behind the tool shed?”

Oliver smirked.

My stomach jolted.

“Because I wanted to snog you senseless since you’ve been worrying about Alicia and haven’t had enough time for me.” Oliver tucked a piece of hair behind my ear.

“That’s quite a good reason,” I said, nodding. “But I won. So now you have to agree with me for a week.”

“A whole week?”

“Okay, we’ll cut it to a few days.” I smiled warmly. “But I think I should get to bed since I don’t want to wake up the girls when I go inside.”

He groaned. “All right, but you torture me, woman.”

I beamed and kissed him right below the earlobe to drive him wild. He scowled at me and I turned, walking back into the cottage and looking back for a second before I closed the door behind me.

It was quiet when I got to the sunroom and I could hear Katie snoring from her place on the floor. I slid into my blanket and stared at the ceiling. I could still see around the room since the moon was shining through one of the windows and I tried to close my eyes but failed. It must have been late by then and I found myself drifting in and out of sleep for a while, tossing and turning and listening to Angelina mumble things about freckles from the other side of the room.

My watch read a little after eleven-thirty when the door opened slightly and I watched Lee Jordan wander into the room. Everyone was asleep and I saw him tiptoe over Katie, stifling a laugh, and step around Angelina. He slid in next to Alicia and put an arm around her.

I sat up. Lee jumped. “Don’t worry,” I whispered and Alicia yawned, stirring. “I’m going for a walk.” I gave him a thumbs-up and left the room, closing the door quietly behind me. I leaned up against it and pressed my ear to the wood.

“Alicia?” Lee’s voice was quiet and urgent.

“Lee? What’re you doing in here?”

“I just…I wanted to see you. I’m sorry.”

“What in Merlin’s name are you sorry about?” She yawned again. Angelina mumbled something. “I am the sorry one. I’ve screwed everything up.”

“I’m sorry for not being what you wanted.”

I pressed the tears out of my own eyes.

“You are what I want,” she whispered. “It was all so unexpected. I just got caught so off guard. I didn’t know what to do and then you were gone and he was here and…bollocks, I always screw things up.”

“I’m not giving up. I’m staying. Maybe I thought I would, but I’m not. You have some pretty loyal friends.”

I could almost hear the smile in her voice. “They’re something else,” she whispered.

“I love you, Alicia,” Lee said quietly and desperately. “I always have. And even if you want to spend the rest of your life with diamonds and a Quidditch star husband, I’ll always love you.”

Alicia was crying on the other side of the door. I heard her choke back sobs and I held back my own. “I love you, Lee.”

With that, I stood up and left the cottage for a few minutes, walking out toward the hill. Bastian wasn’t there anymore and I stared at the reflection of the moon, beaming to myself. Alicia wasn’t stupid. She knew Lee was right for her, but there was something about a gorgeous Brazilian Quidditch star that she couldn’t resist. But love outplayed that.

It just took her a little longer to figure out.

“Fancy that tool shed snog?”

I whipped around and found myself in the arms of Oliver Wood. He was wearing soft shorts and a cotton shirt and his hair was ruffled from trying to sleep.

“What’re you doing out here?” I asked quickly.

“Couldn’t sleep with George rolling all over the bleeding place. What about you?”

“Lee came to visit Alicia.” I beamed.

“So you called it,” Oliver said with a smile.

“Things are as good as settled,” I replied and wrapped my arms around him. I could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand as I kissed his cheek.

“And what about with us?” He pulled me close and his left hand found its way to my lower back.

“As for us,” I replied slowly, “we can go behind the tool shed for that snog.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear.”





A/N: I hope everyoned liked that one. It's actually one of my favorites just because of the emotion driven into it. Please let me know what you think :) I love to hear it, especially on the Lee/Alicia situation. I do love them...

Thanks again to everyone who has been giving their feedback on both this story and Breaking the Quidditch Code. I have this one planned up until 15 right now and Breaking the Quidditch Code planned up until 28 so things are going really well. You guys are so amazing which is why I love updating for you all!

So anyone else want to meet Oliver behind a tool shed?


Chapter 7: Birthday Blues
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So...I got bored and posted the next chapter early :)
Hope you all don't mind :)






Bastian left early the following morning without saying good-bye to the rest of us. I heard him talking to Alicia in the hall and I opened and eye to see that Angelina and Katie were already awake. He didn’t give a reason. He didn’t seem mad. He just said that it was his time to leave and he wished her luck.

It was weird and I didn’t buy it.

I dressed quietly and joined everyone at the breakfast table early since game seven of the Finches/Tornadoes series would be televised at noon. It was quiet in the room but I could tell Lee was happy since he was joking with the twins and Alicia didn’t look like crying so that made me happier.

Oliver’s hair was messy again and I had the strange urge to run my fingers through it, but I felt like running my fingers through a Quidditch player’s hair and then eating breakfast might be gross, shower or not. That, and the girls might have teased me and I simply wouldn’t have that.

“Morning,” he said gruffly, yawning with his mouth open wide.

I plopped down in a chair and looked around at everyone. Fred already had his face painted in support of the Tornadoes. It seemed peaceful as Mr. Spinnet walked in, dumping some eggs onto his plate and picking up the paper. He didn’t say anything about Bastian not being there.

“So are you all sticking around for the game?”

I nodded. “I don’t really want to watch it at home,” I said.

Everyone else nodded and Oliver shrugged.

“Actually, I have to be getting back soon. I have practice in a couple of hours.”

“I thought you were off today,” I said, my face whipping around. “You told me you didn’t have practice today.”

“They wanted to have practice so I said all right.” He shrugged again.

I narrowed my eyes. “That’s ridiculous. They can’t practice you all the damn time.”

“They’re paying me.”

“So what?” I spat, ignoring the eyes on me. “Can’t they just give you a couple of days to enjoy the summer?”

“Jane, let’s just eat breakfast.” He turned his head back toward his food.

The table was quiet.

I barely touched my eggs and munched a bit on my toast, but all I could think about was how irritated I was with Puddlmere. How could they do that to a player? That was overworking. Oliver was overworked. He was so overworked that the only thing we got to do together was snog.

Not that I was complaining, but Lee came back from Russia with roses.

Oliver came back from practice with a bad attitude and a funky smell.

Fred turned the game on in the living room and cranked up the volume. Everyone gathered in there, stealing couch seats and pieces of the floor to cheer for the Tornadoes. Even though the girls had been offered positions for the Finches, they all went for the Tornadoes since I told them what Oliver’s parents had been like.

I placed the dishes in the sink and ran some water over them, watching the liquid make weird shapes out of the blue painted patterns. I didn’t want to watch the game suddenly. Part of me felt like it was the rock between Oliver and me. The other part of me thought it was a strange betrayal of my dad—watching Quidditch without him during the summer.

I shouldn’t have been mean before I left even though things seemed fine. If he wanted to go out and do fun dad things, who was I to stop him? I went out and did fun sixteen-year-old things. He didn’t snap at me for it and yell at me for not watching a Quidditch replay.

I wrinkled my nose and put one of the plates in the drainer.

“I think I’m going to head out, Jane,” Oliver said from behind me. He had a bag slung over his shoulder and his khakis were a bit wrinkled.

“When will I see you again?”

He shrugged and my temper flared up a bit. “I’m not sure. I have weird hours for the next week, but I’ll see you soon.”

“Oh,” I said quietly. “All right.” I wasn’t used to wanting to see anyone that much. It was an unfamiliar emptiness in my stomach that I did not approve of and even though I wanted to yell at him for leaving me with a cottage full of eccentric couples, all I could do was cling to his t-shirt as he pulled me in for a hug.

“I wish you didn’t have to go,” I whispered.

“I have to pay the bills somehow,” he muttered, pulling away and resting his eyes on the floor.

“You’re a Quidditch star, don’t you get paid more?”

“I’m not a Quidditch star yet, Jane. I haven’t even played professionally. This is just practice. Haven’t we been through this?” He was growing impatient but I didn’t care.

“Then they should bleeding pay you more.” I folded my arms and stepped back, irritated. I wasn’t sure why I was letting it get the best of me, but I was sick of it. I wanted to spend time with Oliver like Katie got to spend time with George. Like Alicia got to flirt with Lee. We had only start dating—Fred and Angelina had been together for eons. They already had sex for Merlin’s sake. I wanted to almost do something too. To get flowers or presents or worry about what my friends would think about Oliver and I doing…it.

“Jane, do you have any idea how much a flat in London costs?” Oliver asked quietly. “It’s not cheap. My parents were paying for it before they decided to cut me off. And I’m going to remind you I did that for you.”

I gaped at him. “You did what—excuse me? You did that for you, Oliver. Your pride. Your independence. Don’t you drag me into this just because they don’t like me.”

He frowned. “I’m not doing this right now. I’m going to be late.”

“See you then.” I leaned against the counter.

“See you.” Oliver walked out the door, closed it hard, and vanished into the fireplace outside.

I turned back to the dishes and I was surprised to feel a few tears well up in my eyes.



I didn’t get to see the Tornadoes win the game because it was over seconds after I finished the dishes. I heard the screams from the living room and rushed inside only to see Angelina hugging Fred and Lee chanting about how the Tornadoes were going to the World Cup. Apparently the Snitch catch was epic and I was staring at dirty dishes.

The boys left soon after since Lee promised his folks he’d help them unpack everything they bought in Russia and the twins volunteered to help. Angelina also left, explaining about her little sister’s rock collection, and Katie was the next to go red and leave but she promised they would see each other soon.

Alicia and I sat on the back porch after Katie disappeared through the fireplace and I took a bite of the miniature carrot I was holding.

“Do you think they forgot?” I asked carefully, swinging my legs a bit.

“How could they?” Alicia asked sadly. “We always celebrate our birthdays together.”

“This year has been relatively crazy though,” I replied, finishing the carrot. “They could have other things on their minds. I know I have for a while.”

She paused for a while and we watched the fire burn even though it was warm outside. The paint Fred used on her face for the Quidditch match was peeling. “I’m sure we’ll find something to do anyway.”

I shrugged. “Yeah. I’m not sure if I’ll see Oliver or not.”

“I heard the two of you having a row.”

“Yeah. I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like.”

She frowned. “I hate how that happens during the summer.”

I stared at my toes and moved them back and forth. I should have painted them. “I think it would be easier if we had been together longer. It’s just so new—and then we can’t see each other and his parents hate me and I’m sitting alone in London being a rubbish girlfriend.” I groaned. “And now I’m whining about it.”

“And now they’ve forgotten our birthdays,” she said slowly.

I breathed out roughly. “At least we’ll be seventeen so we can just hex them for it.”

Alicia smiled. “I’m glad we’re friends, Jane.”

I put an arm around her and grabbed for another carrot.




It was frustrating being alone in a flat with nothing to do. It had been two days since I left Alicia’s and Dad was doing extra hours at work because of the Quidditch World Cup coming up in a week. Even though it wasn’t in England he had to get people to cover it and all sorts of ridiculous things set up. The only thing he couldn’t do was get me tickets, which put me in an even worse mood because I thought a trip to southern France would do me good since my friends forgot my birthday.

This year, the Saturday Alicia and I were going to celebrate our birthday’s together fell on my actual birthday. Hers was two days before so she would be seventeen to share in my joy. Except this year she probably wouldn’t share in my joy.

At least I could sit around and watch the Tornadoes take on the Magpies.

Oliver hadn’t owled me since our row three days before. I knew he was working hard on becoming the league’s best Keeper, but that wouldn’t tire him enough to keep him from writing. He was mad.

I didn’t blame him. I had been horribly cross with him, but I still felt like it was well-deserved. Relationships were hard. He had to work hard to see me.

What happened to showing up in the middle of the night completely soaked because he had to see me?

What about sitting out by the lake at Hogwarts lounging and listening to the twins pick on Katie and Angelina? Or eating on the Quidditch pitch? Couldn’t we do that now? We would just do less of it.

Now we were doing none of it. We weren’t doing anything and that included communicating.

I stayed in bed late on Thursday and sent a quick owl to Alicia wishing her a happy birthday. I didn’t want to move. Oliver was probably at practice again kicking around Quaffles and bossing people around even though he was not the Captain. That was just his personality.

Bollocks.

I didn’t even get the time to have him agree with me. I wished I had remembered while we were having that row in the kitchen so he could agree with me about Puddlemere being stupid and not paying him enough. He was clearly the most talented player they had.

Well, probably. I hadn’t met the rest of them.

I rolled over angrily and stared at the wall. Then I pulled my wonky quilt up over my head and groaned.

“Pumpkin?”

“Yeah?”

“Is there something you want to do today?” Dad asked, pushing the door open slightly.

“Die,” I said dramatically.

“Try again.”

“No, there isn’t anything.”

“No Oliver today?”

“Nope.” I closed my eyes.

“All right. I’m headed to the library for a few hours to get my mind off of work.” He paused. “Is there something special you want for breakfast on Saturday? You can have whatever you want.”

“Cold pizza,” I muttered. “With pineapples.”

“You got it. I’ll order it tomorrow night.” The door snapped shut and I willed myself back into dreams.



Friday passed in a lonely blur and I hoped Alicia had a good birthday because it didn’t seem as if mine the following day would be any better than the previous day. I lounged on the sofa and watched reruns of old television shows while Dad worked and it annoyed me that every time there was the slightest noise in the hall way I jumped up and searched the peek hole for Oliver’s grin.

It was not there. He did not come.

I sank further into the sofa and did not surface for air until I lugged myself to sleep later that night with bags under my eyes even though I had slept through most of the week. Part of me wanted to write to Katie and pester her about being a bad friend, but I knew she had things like wedding plans and Mrs. Weasley to worry about. Then I wanted to write Angelina and just be mad. I wanted to send a Howler to the twins since they never missed anyone’s birthday but I figured things were crazy at the Burrow and I wanted to knock down Oliver’s door and punch him in the mouth.

Just for being himself.




Saturday morning was cloudy and rainy and it looked just like I felt. Dismal. I dressed quickly in the Tornadoes shirt my dad got me a few years ago when I argued that the Harpies were my favorite team and walked out into the kitchen where a large plate of cold pineapple and ham pizza was waiting for me on the table.

I beamed, my stomach lifting slightly as I tore into the first piece.

“Happy birthday!” Dad said loudly, grabbing a pink frosted cupcake from the fridge. He lit the single candle on top of it and I was glad he didn’t sing the song because he was always horribly off key. I blew it out and took another bite of pizza, smiling.

At least I had my dad.

At the moment.

“You finally decided to wear the shirt,” he said, ruffling the paper. “I’m glad. That cost me a pretty penny at one of the games.”

“Good,” I said. “I’m glad since you did it to spite me.” Grinning, I reached for another slice of pizza. “I figured I should support them since Oliver does, even though right now that makes me want to support the Magpies.”

“Did you have a fight?” He peeked over the top of the paper.

“He’s just busy,” I replied slowly. Dad would rearrange Oliver’s face if he knew we had fought. “We just had a bit of a row about not being able to see each other. It was stupid.”

It was the truth. The argument itself was stupider and stupider the more I thought about it.

Dad nodded and grabbed a slice of pizza for himself. “Do you think you’ll see him soon?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know anymore. He hasn’t been in contact all week. I’m just not sure why—I feel like that isn’t something to throw away a relationship over, you know?”

He raised a brow and chuckled. “You’re right. It’s not.” Dad crinkled the paper again. “So that’s why you’re up so early?”

“I’ve been sleeping so much I wasn’t tired anymore.”

“What are you going to do until the game tonight?”

“I wish I knew,” I said quietly. “Maybe I’ll go play with magic since I’m seventeen now.”

“How about that toilet situation?”

I groaned. “Not on my birthday.”

“That excuse won’t work tomorrow.”

“I was hoping you would conveniently forget about it tomorrow.” I smiled wide.

“We’ll see,” he muttered.

After my third piece of pizza and the entire cupcake (it was my birthday after all), I watched a bit of the pregame for the World Cup, got bored since it was still hours and hours away, and retreated to my room.

I held my wand up. I could do magic now. I was seventeen.

“Lumos,” I said. It was light in my room, but now it was brighter. I smiled.

I made the flowers on my sill blue. I fixed a stitch in my pillow. I thought about fixing the quilt, but stopped and forced my spellbooks to fly in a weird oval-shape around the room and then accidentally into a vase, sending it flying to the floor and spreading glass everywhere.

Then I cleaned it up with my wand.

“Are you causing an earthquake?” Dad peeked his head in the door with a cocked brow.

“I’m being magical,” I said. I used to say the same thing as a kid with a fake wand. I’d wave it around and pretend to make truth potions and change mirrors into bears and my blankets into expensive satin comforters.

“Glad to hear,” he said. “Just don’t take down the building, okay? I was just starting to like the paint color.” He left and I went back to making things fly.

I cleaned the scrapes off of the wall when an ink bottle smashed there. I giggled as my trunk went back against the wall so I would stop tripping over it on my way to the window. I opened the blinds. Then I shut them. Then I opened them again.

I had the power.

“Jane!”

I’m not even hurting anyone!” I shouted back. I heard a laugh.

“Come out here!”

Groaning, I grabbed my wand, opening the door magically, and walked out into the living room. Dad was lounging on the sofa and, strangely enough, Angelina was standing behind him with a mischievous smirk on her face.

Was Fred and George’s smirk rubbing off on everyone all of a sudden?

“Hey,” I said slowly, raising a brow at her. “What’re you doing here? Did someone die?”

She rolled her eyes. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” I muttered, my eyes falling to the floor. I gripped my wand tightly and thought about hexing her for not being in contact with me. “So what are you doing here?”

“I can’t tell you that,” she said and the smirk was back. It was annoying. “I’m here to take you with me.”

“Where? To really-sodding-vague land? Because I’m already there.” I narrowed my eyes.

Angelina shrugged and I wanted to kick her. “I have to put a blind-fold on you, though.”

“Where are we going?”

“Did you think that by asking twice I was going to tell you?” she said and I groaned. She handed me a black piece of fabric and I placed it over my eyes. At first I could see out of the bottom like back when we were first years and used to cheat at blind-fold games, but she caught on quick and charmed it so I couldn’t see at all.

Prat.

Angelina grabbed me hand. “See you later, Mr. Perry. Enjoy your weekend.”

“You too, Ang,” he said happily. “Just bring her back in one piece.”

“No promises,” she said and pulled me through the door.




A/N: Yeah, so I got bored and wanted to treat you all, I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Yes, it was a bit of a filler, but I did have to get you to that point and Happy Birthday, Jane! And Alicia of course. Now she can finally clean up and make toast.

Unless Oliver is too ticked off at her to want toast I suppose.

So what do you think Ang is up to? Leave me some love! :)


Chapter 8: Bridget Lilion
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This chap is for Erin & Lou. For their videos.







Being unable to see did not sit well with me. I was skeptical, letting Angelina lead me through London as my ears tuned in to the cars around me and people shouting about different things like designer handbags and how they were late for four different appointments. It was still raining but I wasn’t wet, keying me in that I had been charmed by my captor.

“If I get killed you’re going to answer to Oliver,” I said loudly and then I frowned. Maybe she wouldn’t have to answer to him. He probably wouldn’t find out until two days after the funeral when he was perusing through the paper. Oliver would shrug and turn on the replay of the World Cup. Which I was going to miss because I would be dead soon.

Angelina did not reply to my comment. “I was going to take you to take your Apparition test, but there isn’t time for that. We can just do side-along for now.”

“That makes me feel wonderful,” I muttered and felt us go behind the building so shade engulfed by body.

“Quit being a complainer,” she said loudly.

“Yeah, because there’s no reason for me to complain at all.”

“There isn’t.”

I rolled my eyes, but then remembered she couldn’t see them. “Have you seen Oliver?” I said suddenly and her grip tightened around my hand.

“I might have.”

Another eye-roll. I had to remember to do it twice after the blindfold was pulled off. Angelina was the best at not answering questions. She gave nothing away and it drove me mad.

“Ready?” she asked.

I shrugged. “If I have to be.”



The air was far warmer when we appeared wherever it was that we were going and there were voices everywhere. I couldn’t make out what a lot of them were saying since they were far off and Angelina said hello to someone a few meters away. She tugged me along and I could feel the grass beneath my feet.

I had a wand. I could just hex the crap out of her.

The voices were coming near and part of me just wanted to sit down on the grass and enjoy the hot temperatures and rainless sky.

“Where are we, twit?” I asked loudly.

“Somewhere.”

“I hate you so much.”

“I would hate me too,” she replied, laughing and tugging me along. I heard some more voices and then the distinct dialect of Russian. Did she take me to Russia? I didn’t speak Russian. Did she? Was it this hot in Russia? I would have to ask Lee.

Bollocks on Lee. He didn’t remember my birthday.

“You put a blindfold on her? You’re cruel, Ang.”

My heart stopped.

Angelina chuckled. “Katie, you’re too nice. I wasn’t going to but she was being a right git so I thought she deserved it.” I felt the fabric loosen around my eyes and I reached up to peel it off.

Not only did my heart not have enough time to start up again, my stomach also dropped as I took in my surroundings.

I was in southern France.

I was at the Quidditch World Cup in southern France.

“Happy birthday!” cried Katie, looking up at me with a wide grin.

I let my eyes take in the entire scene. There was a fire pit a few feet from me, not lit yet, and two beige tents on the other side of that. Katie was trying to get the fire started and George was helping her. Fred sat on the outside of the tent on the left and Lee grinned from the grass nearby. Angelina took a seat beside him and I watched Alicia rush out of the other tent.

“Jane!” she cried, hugging me tight. “Isn’t it crazy? Katie came and got me this morning—I was ready to disown everyone except you after no one said happy birthday to me on Thursday.” She narrowed her eyes in the other direction. “But this—I can’t believe it.”

“But how?” I said breathlessly, taking in the thousands of other tents around us. “How could we possibly get these tickets? Dad couldn’t even get any and he works in the ruddy department.”

“Oliver.”

I raised a brow. “What?”

“Oliver’s team has a whole private box in the stadium and they told him to invite as many people as he wanted,” she explained. “I’m not sure where he got off to but I saw him when I first got here.”

My body felt numb and I wanted to sink onto the ground and reevaluate everything that went through my mind the previous few days. Oliver had organized the entire thing. Was that why he hadn’t been to visit me? Or was he still irritated but I was his girlfriend so he had to do something for me? What a jerk he was.

“We got you a cake too,” said George. “But we’re saving it until after the match tonight.”

“What if the match goes on for days?” I asked, raising an amused brow.

“Then I’ll send Fred to go get it and we’ll put candles in a mushy cake.”

“Good answer.” I took a moment to peek into the tents, one filled with seafoam green blankets and pillows and a tiny kitchenette and the other with navy blue. “Are we doing the girls and guys thing?”

“Yeah,” said Katie, “we can’t have Ang and Fred waking everyone up in the middle of the night.”

“Sick,” I muttered. “I didn’t want that image.” I looked away from the winking Fred and took a seat next to Lee. “I really thought you lot forgot about me.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Angelina. “I felt the worst for Oliver, though. We had to literally watch his door to make sure he didn’t go and see you.”

“Why?” I gaped at her. I had suffered for a week thinking he loathed me and they were standing guard to make sure?

“Because he would have given it away,” she explained. “He’s no good at keeping secrets. We had to make sure this was a surprise.”

“So he took it well then?”

She snorted. “If by well you mean he got George with a pretty good hex on the back and almost threw the coffee table through the door, then yeah. But we didn’t let him. He said something about wanting to make things right, but things are always right with you two anyway so I didn’t think it mattered.”

Alicia rolled her eyes. “So basically they had no idea the two of you had a fight before he left my place.”

Angelina gasped. “What? Oh, shit!”

I nodded. “Yeah, so I spent the whole week thinking he hated me.”

“How could I ever hate you?”

I spun around and Oliver was leaning against a nearby tree with his arms folded. His Tornadoes t-shirt was clinging to his chest and he had that Quidditch player smirk plastered to his face. I could hardly imagine him almost throwing a coffee table through a door. But it made me happy.

I stood up and faced him, my hands squarely on my hips and his eyebrow raised skillfully. Then I hit him hard on the chest and he staggered a bit, gaping at me.

“What was that for?” he cried, rubbing the spot.

“I just spent an entire week sulking around my flat because of you,” I said, irritated. Then I kissed him hard and pushed him back against the tree.

“What a weird couple,” I heard Fred say from the fire pit.

Oliver smiled into the kiss and broke it a few seconds later. “You heard them. They wouldn’t let me leave. Apparently they thought I wouldn’t be able to keep a secret. I don’t know what gave them that idea.” He blinked a bit and I lost myself in his eyes.

Katie snorted from behind us. “One kiss from you, Jane, and an inquiry about your birthday and he would have handed you everything about today. You’d make him feel guilty.”

“Do you feel guilty?” I asked him.

He nodded a bit. “I wanted to see you.”

“I waited for you,” I said quietly. “It was stupid, but I waited for you to come in the middle of the night like you did before.”

“I tried,” he said. “Fred was watching those nights though and he set traps. Stupid git.”

I chuckled and hugged him, burying my face in his chest to sooth where I hit him. “I thought you were so angry you didn’t want to talk to me.”

“I was for a couple days,” he said slowly. “But then I realized how crazy the whole situation was. I wanted to say sorry. So. I’m sorry.”

I smiled. “I’m sorry too. It’s your job even if I don’t like being away from you for so long.”

“Did anyone see this coming last fall?” George asked in amusement. “Somewhere between the screaming at team meetings and hexing in the hallway I missed this coming.”

“At one point I was convinced they’d kill each other off,” said Katie with a grin.

“Don’t give up on that,” Oliver said slyly and led me over to the unsuccessful fire. “What’s going on with this anyway? I thought you lot would have it up and running like at the retreat.”

“Can you not conjure up those memories please?” asked Angelina.

“So it went well?” said Lee.

I rolled my eyes. “You’d better watch it or Ang will force you to go to our retreat as a reserve.”

“So you’ll have one?” Oliver asked her.

“If my team falls apart,” Angelina replied, smiling. “Or maybe just to torture them. I can pair up Jane and Ellis again. That will be quite the sight.”

“I told you I won’t be the reserve next year,” I said definitely, kicking a rock closer to the pit. “I’m not going to have someone go after Ellis so I have to get up on a broom again.”

“Afraid you’ll get another offer?” asked Fred.

“Shut it, Jane,” Angelina said quickly. “You’re already on the list as a reserve. We’re not holding Seeker trials at all to get one so you’ll just have to hope Ellis stays nice and healthy.”

I narrowed my eyes at her and a little hiss might have come out.

I watched Fred poke the fire with his wand. It erupted slightly and everyone’s eyes focused on the flames while Oliver put an arm around me.

“I can’t believe we’re here,” I whispered as the sky darkened around us. “The Quidditch World Cup.” I released the breath I had been holding and smiled. “This is insane.”

“You know how insane it is?” said Katie with a smile on her face. “So insane that you have to wear birthday sashes during the game.”

Alicia shook her head heavily. “Oh, no. Nope. That isn’t going to happen.” She looked to Lee for support but then saw him pull two bright pink sashes from behind his back that each had silver glittery letters spelling out the words, Birthday Girl.
I groaned. “I don’t do sashes.”

“That’s good,” said Angelina, “because we brought tiaras too.” They were large and plastic with fake jewels lining them. She stuck one on my head. It was itchy and annoying and I frowned, trying to think up a hex to use on her for revenge.

But for now, I was at the Quidditch World Cup. In southern France.

Because of my boyfriend and rubbish friends.

Lee draped the sash over me and Fred put a pot over the growing fire to make something to eat. I let my mind wander for a bit and buried my head in Oliver’s shoulder.

It was perfect, just being in the warm, dry air with my friends. In a way, it reminded me of the June air at Hogwarts, all of us sitting out by the lake with smiles and sand making its way onto our clothes. The only thing different is that we were surrounded by people we didn’t know.

That was a good thing. It meant no Libby.

Or Mandy. Or Dan Ellis. Or Roger.

“Want anything, Jane?” Fred asked.

I shook my head. “Dad fixed me cold pizza for breakfast.”

“That sounds horrible,” said Katie.

“I requested it.” I beamed.

“You would.” Oliver smoothed out my hair and reached for an apple.



We relaxed next to the tents for a while, talking about the odds of the teams and Oliver strategically mentioned that the Harpies were not in the Cup final. I punched him. After the sky began to darken we zipped everything into the tents and made our way up the grassy hill toward the stadium. It wasn’t too far away, shielded in a large forest on the other side of the camp site, but my feet still hurt by the time we entered the trees. Uncomfortable shoes were a bad idea.

Not that I knew what I needed when Ang captured me.

The stadium was enormous. I couldn’t see the top from where we went in and there were thousands of people crowding to get into a door. I brushed my fingers along the metal outside out of the stadium and beamed. Even though I was still in the stupid sash and tiara, it was worth it. I could rock them for a while and then set them on fire when no one was looking.

Hopefully.

The Puddlemere box was higher up in the center of the stadium. I could tell right away it probably cost a lot since there was a long white table filled with food there was no way I could pronounce and silk-covered chairs near the large opening to the game. It was crowded, but the space was big so I followed Oliver through the people and we set our things on a grouping of chairs to the left side.

“Wood!”

I turned and saw a large man with dark hair and blue eyes walking toward us. He had on a Magpies shirt and a “C” taped there awkwardly.

“Vanter. Good to see you, mate,” Oliver said, shaking the man’s hand. “This is my girlfriend, Jane, and most of my old Quidditch team from school.” He introduced everyone with a smile. “Everyone, this is James Vanter, Captain and Seeker or Puddlemere United.”

Vanter grinned and shook everyone’s hands. “I’ll have you lot know he hasn’t stopped acting like a Captain.”

“No surprise,” said Angelina.

“Sometimes I have to remind him who’s the boss, but he has great input so sometimes it doesn’t matter.” Vanter chuckled. “Johnson and Maxwell just got here a bit ago and there’s Denters walking through the door so I’ll talk to you later, Wood. Nice meeting you all.”

After that we met the three Chasers for Puddlmere, Johnson, Maxwell, and Hauer. Hauer was the only woman on the team, but she made her presence known laughing loudly and picking on Maxwell. Johnson was also new to the team, called up from the reserves, as were both Beaters Denters and Stewart.

The thing I loved about them is they seemed so much like our own Gryffindor team. Well, their Gryffindor team. I wasn’t going to be a part of that anymore. They joked and called each other out, laughing loudly and grabbing drinks from the well-stocked bar. I spent a while chatting with Liam Denters about his time at Hogwarts so many years ago. Apparently he was kicked off the Quidditch team in Hufflepuff because he got in a fight with Madam Hooch about the out-of-bounds rule and he told me to owl him if I ever wanted to chat about the industry or get into a game for free.

Before the game we took our seats in the front, food on plates and drinks in our hands. I had water, but the rest of the group had firewhiskey and various other beverages that would turn this night into a giggle-fest.

I watched Angelina take a big drink of her firewhiskey and I took the moment to look around at the stadium. There were faces everywhere and half of the stands filled with black and white while the other half with sky blue. I got slowly to my feet as a few announcements were being made and crept into the box bathroom.

I took off the sash and set it on the fake marble counter and then put the tiara down next to it. Then I tried to set it on fire.

Then it didn’t work.

I groaned. Leave it to my friends to cast anti-flame jinxes on a silly birthday sash. Apparently they knew what I was going to try. Irritated, I made my way back into the box and took my seat next to Oliver. He was on his second drink and I wasn’t surprised.

The teams were out on the field and the crowd went wild. I could hardly hear myself think, watching the Tornadoes slap each other’s hands and one of the refs dragging the trunk of Quidditch balls out onto the pitch. The buzz of excitement leaked into my ears and Alicia squeezed my shoulder.

Happy birthday indeed.

It was not questionable these teams deserved to be in the World Cup. From the moment they kicked off and the Magpies took the Quaffle, I could hardly tell where the action was. There was a serious of motion blurs and every once in a while someone would fall sideways, clutching their broom, because they were hit by a Bludger. The Keepers were ridiculously fast, making dive saves and kicking things out of the way while the Seekers swerved all over the pitch.

I should have kept my eye on them for next year.

What rubbish was that? I wasn’t going to be the Seeker next year.

If Ellis got hurt so help me Merlin I would hurt him all over again.

I watched the Tornadoes score yet another goal and Oliver clutched my hand tight. I thought about it for a moment—the fact that I had gotten and refused an offer to play for the reserve team of the Tutshill Tornadoes. Was I daft? The team had such a long history of winning and I could have been a part of it. The only problem was I didn’t like playing Quidditch and I still had a hard time flying. I wondered why I was offered a contract. It wasn’t as if that catch was something spectacular. I fell too.

They shouldn’t want a Seeker that fell after a Snitch catch.

Even though Oliver did.

I squeezed his hand in return, trying to keep my concentration on the game. From the front of the box I could see into the boxes to the left and right of the Puddlmere one. To the left there was a group of people in suits with black ties. No one was talking, which was an extreme difference to our box where everyone was chattering away about Beater positioning and sponsor names. I couldn’t see the left box too well since it was far away, but it was decorated in a lush green with the Brazilian flag draped over the side of the box.

Uh oh.

“Alicia,” I said, trying to draw her attention to me. “What’s your favorite color?”

She raised a brow at me and rolled her eyes. Her sash looked a little singed.

That plan was a failure.

“I can’t believe how many people are here,” said Katie, rocking back and forth in her seat. “And teams—do all of the teams have boxes, Oliver?”

He nodded. “Usually they do to show support, though I heard the Finches might boycott because they thought they had an unfair penalty call during that final game with the Tornadoes.” Oliver shrugged. “But usually, yeah.”

“It sure seems like it,” said Angelina, “especially since Brazil is right next to us.”

Stupid, stupid Ang.

Alicia’s face went a delicate shade of red and I watched Lee’s fists tighten. I was sure this was a subject that would always wield those results.

I glanced toward the other box to see Bastian leaning out with a pair of high-tech binoculars, watching the action. He was smiling, looking dishy and Brazilian. Alicia tensed up. Lee put an arm around her. I chuckled to myself.

Angelina leaned over to me. “Do we know why he left yet?” she whispered.

I shrugged. “I don’t think we’ll ever know.”

“I just told him it was his time to leave.”

My head whipped around. Oliver smiled. “Wait, you did it?”

“Yeah,” he said half-heartedly, still facing the game. I watched his eyes dart back and forth between the Chasers and I couldn’t believe he could follow it. “That’s why I was outside when you came out. I just told him it wasn’t worth it. That she fancied Lee too much. I told him what sort of girl she was. He understood, took it a bit hard, but I don’t blame him. He had no chance. Which is weird considering what he had to offer.” He smiled again and let out a “whoop” as the Tornadoes scored.

I gaped at him, my mind going back to meeting him outside after I overheard Lee and Alicia. “I think I like you more and more every day.”

“I think you should.” He smirked. I hit him playfully.

“Oliver, I’m so glad you made it!”

Oliver turned and so did I. My jaw nearly hit the floor as I saw a tall blond woman with red heels and a matching smile. She couldn’t have been much older than Oliver and she leaned down to give him an enormous hug. I scowled.

“How are you, Bridget?” He smiled and offered her the empty seat on the other side of him.

“I’m doing great—not too happy about this game so far though since the Magpies are down, but what can you do?” She beamed and her teeth were very straight and white and for some reason I wanted to punch them all out.

Who was I kidding? I knew exactly why I wanted to punch them all out.

Oliver chuckled. “Oh, Bridget, this is my girlfriend, Jane. Jane, this is Bridget. She’s the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lilion, the owners of Puddlemere United.”

I nodded. “Nice to meet you,” I said, my mouth forcing it out.

Surprisingly, she gave me the same unfriendly glare and nodded. “Pleasure.”

What a twit! I watched her immediately turn her attention back to Oliver, gushing over his every word. What was she playing at? Did she think she could just move in for the kill?

“Who’s that?” whispered Ang curiously.

“Owner’s daughter. Little slut,” I replied quietly, irritated. Angelina chuckled.

“Who knew Jane Perry could be so jealous?”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “You’re done talking. I’m not jealous. I don’t get jealous. I have Oliver. She doesn’t. There isn’t anything to be jealous about.” I folded my arms and tried to focus my attention on the game. Instead, all I could hear was the blond girl.

“I can’t believe I missed practice the other day,” she said exasperatedly. “I was getting my hair done and simply lost track of time. I bet you did wonderfully though.”

“I usually do.” Oliver smiled.

“You’re never modest at all, Oliver Wood.” She giggled.

I thought about throwing up.

“No reason to be.” Oliver rested his chin on his hands and continued to watch.

Part of me wished I was wearing a fancy dress just to prove that I was better than her. Not that a fancy dress would have proved anything, but most of the male eyes on the box were on her. Oliver’s probably would have been too if it wasn’t for me.

I had great legs you know!

“Oh, Oliver, you’re so silly.”

Silly. What a twit. Did anyone even use that word anymore?

I was letting her get the better of me. I needed to ignore her. Oliver was talking to her again about Puddlemere practice times and I tried to ignore them without clenching my fists but it was harder than I thought. She was so upbeat and excited. Oliver was smiling at her. I was sulking. I shouldn’t have sulked. That wasn’t me.

Instead, I stood up as a time-out was called and walked into the hallway outside of the box. It was pretty empty except for a few people carrying food trays to different boxes and the door to the Brazilian box was propped open. I decided to stay far away from it. Instead, I sunk against the wall.

I was being dramatic. I wasn’t even mad at Oliver. He hadn’t done anything wrong. I just didn’t want to see Bridget in her red heels and her red lipstick. I wasn’t sure he saw me left. That didn’t matter. It was a Quidditch game. It was my birthday. It was—

“Jane?”

It was Roger Davies.






A/N: How does everyone like the Bridget chappie image? She's a keeper, huh?

Anyway, this chapter was fun to write simply because everyone was hanging out at the Quidditch World Cup. What's cooler than that? What's that? Oliver shirtless? Ohhh, well you have a point. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and the disgusting cliffie I just left it on (sorry for that, I'm a cliffie addict).

So please let me know what you think, mostly becuase I'm eager to hear what you lot think about Roger showing up out of the blue.

Surprise.


Chapter 9: A Crusting of Cake
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To Allie, for her previous review telling Roger, "No. Get out. No one invited you." haha







My eyes were roughly the size of tea saucers. I stared at Roger for a moment, mouth totally lopsided, and took in his features. He was as tall as I remembered him from a few weeks back, brown shiny hair that fell delicately around his tan face and eyes that could suck anyone in for a fair amount of time. He had a Magpies shirt on that clung to his skin and looked as if it had been washed one too many times and if matters couldn’t have been worse, he was smiling.

“Oh my—Roger!” I said, leaping to my feet, frustration temporarily erased. “My God, how are you?”

His beam widened. “I’m doing great actually—this summer has been fantastic so far.”

The hallway was quiet around us and our voices echoed off the walls.

“Yeah, mine too. It’s been really busy.”

Roger eyed my birthday sash and itchy tiara. “I knew your birthday was right around this time. Finally seventeen, huh? I bet you’re glad you can hex anyone you want now.”

I smirked. “You don’t even know,” I replied with a chuckle, leaning against the wall. “I made things fly around my room this morning and then broke half of them—then fixed them.”

He laughed. I remembered that laugh. “That sounds like a very Jane thing to do. So how are the girls?” I liked that things weren’t awkward. It wasn’t a bad break up. I didn’t hate Roger Davies because he didn’t do anything that warranted hatred and though I never opened up to him, he didn’t hate me either it seemed.

I shrugged. “They’re the girls, you know. Ang is doing just the same, George asked Katie to marry him, and Alicia just spent a few days having to decide between Lee and Bastian…again. So they’re pretty much the same.”

“I just saw Bastian—he looked a bit put out to be honest but now I see why.”

I ran my fingers through my hair and looked down at the floor. What if Oliver walked out that door and saw me talking to Roger Davies in the hallway? That wouldn’t be good. But he was in there chatting with Bridget Dung-head so I lifted my head and continued the conversation.

“Yeah, he was convinced he’d win her back.” I shrugged. “Too bad, though.”

“Poor bloke.” Roger stuck his hands in his pockets. “Good to hear about George and Katie. They really deserve each other. But how has your birthday been so far? Enjoying the Cup? What’re you doing out here in the hallway anyway?”

I chuckled. “Had to get away for a few minutes. It was getting crazy in there and the game is so hard to follow.”

“I went to find some painkillers for a headache since I can hardly follow the Chasers.”

“I had a question to ask you,” I said suddenly, remembering what Bastian said before. Roger raised a brow. “Did you end up getting an offer to play professionally? I know you did wonderfully at the Final until I stole the spotlight.”

He chuckled and ruffled his hair for a second. “Actually, yeah. I got picked up by the Magpies; I’m playing for their reserve team now.”

“Wow, congratulations! That’s so exciting!” Even though it was awkward, I reached over and hugged him. Roger smelled like grass and daisies.

He smiled. “Yeah, it’s nice. Our box is a few down and there’s way too much food. Did any of your team get picked up? I know most of them are sixth years but I’d be surprised if Wood didn’t after half of those saves—especially the ones he made on me.” Laughing, Roger shifted his weight to the other leg.

“Actually, yeah. Everyone got at least one offer. The girls all got the Finches, which would have been good for them to play together, but we’re all going back next year.”

“When you say everyone, you mean…”

“Yeah. Me too. I got an offer to play for the Tornadoes reserve team.”

“Jane, that’s crazy! That’s amazing!” Roger placed his hands on my shoulders. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks.” I blushed. “Obviously I’m going back to school and have no desire to go pro since I can hardly stay on a broom, but it was a nice confidence booster of course. And Oliver got an offer from Puddlemere to play on their actual team so that’s why we’re in this box watching the game.”

His lip twitched a bit. “How is Wood then?”

“I’m fine.”

I flipped around. Oliver was standing just outside the door to the Puddlemere box, closing it behind him with a snap. His eyes were on fire and I could see his fingers tightening.

“Good to hear it,” said Roger. “I heard about you getting picked up by Puddlmere. Great team.”

Oliver rolled his eyes and I wanted to hit him. “Thanks. Jane, what’re you doing out here? The time-out has been over for ages.”

I shrugged. “Just wanted to get out of there for a bit.”

“Ang said you were threatened by Bridget.”

My face instantly colored. “I am most certainly not—how could I be? She has less brains than Libby does.”

“Bridget?” Roger asked. “New woman, Wood?”

“She seems to fancy him enough,” I muttered, averting my eyes again.

“No. Not a new woman. I already have a woman and she’s being stupid.” Oliver crossed his arms. “The girls are asking where you are and another round of drinks is being served.”

I shrugged. “I’ll be there in a second.”

He leaned against the door. He wasn’t leaving without me.

Fantastic.

What a git.

I turned to Roger, rolling my eyes at the entire situation. “It was nice talking to you, Roger.”

He nodded. “Likewise. Erm, good luck in there.” He made a face.

I snorted. “Like I need it.” I smiled and turned away from him with a brief wave.

“Owl me if you want to catch up sometime, Jane. All I’m doing is training all summer so I have plenty of time.” When I turned back I saw Roger’s bright grin.

“Maybe I’ll do that. Enjoy the game.” Pausing, I pushed the door open to reenter the box. “Oh, and Roger?”

“Yeah?”

“Go Tornadoes.” With a smile, I disappeared into the box with Oliver purely livid beside me. It was a nice feeling. Now I didn’t have to be jealous or angry or whatever at Bridget. I could just bask in the glow of him being furious at me for conversing with Roger.

Which is all it was. A conversation. With an old friend.

Well, ex boyfriend.

Which could potentially be the same thing.

“What was that about?” Oliver whispered, grabbing my arm and forcing me back toward the bar. I wondered how many drinks he had and settled on at least four.

“What was what about?” I knew I shouldn’t play mind games when he was intoxicated, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. “I went into the hall for a few minutes and Roger showed up.”

“Happy coincidence.”

“How else do you think it happened, Oliver?” I asked quietly. “Though I’m sure it was hard to notice anything with Bridget’s head so far up your—”

“I just can’t believe you were out there with him. Him. Of all people.”

“We were talking about our summers!” I countered, louder this time. “I told him about mine. He told me he was picked up by the Magpies. End of story.”

“Conveniently forgot to mention being with me then.”

I rolled my eyes. “We were only talking for a minute or two. Relationship status didn’t come up yet, but I’m sure that was next on the list.” Placing my hands on my hips, I thought about rolling my eyes again. There didn’t seem to be a limit on eye-rolling referring to the stupidity of the conversation.

“Do you think that if Libby was here I’d talk to her?” he snapped.

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t either,” I said with a lofty chuckle. “She’s a prat.”

“That’s not my point!”

“What is your point, Oliver, because I’m having a hard time seeing it behind the jealousy and suspicion.” Narrowing my eyes, I turned and went back to my seat.

Luckily, Bridget was now nowhere to be found, which I felt meant she went to powder her nose or do something Libby-like and adjust her butt in her dress or something. I flopped down, scowling, and Ang looked over.

“Okay, Jane,” she said in irritation. “It’s your birthday. You’re at the Quidditch World Cup. In a private box. What the hell are you sulking about?”

I tried to turn my attention back to the game. “They shouldn’t serve alcohol here.”

“Why not?” said Fred with a giggle, kissing Angelina on the ear quickly. “It’s brilliant—get us all liquored up so we can celebrate properly and we don’t have to down a bunch of drinks right when the Tornadoes take it!”

“Because people get stupid and irrational when they drink,” I muttered.

“What happened?” whispered Alicia, poking her head over my shoulder.

“I talked to Roger in the hallway.”

I could tell Fred, Angelina, and Alicia almost spit their drinks all over themselves. Fred actually choked for a moment.

“You—what? Why is Dodger here?” Alicia asked.

“He got picked up by the Magpies so he’s in their box I suppose.”

“Did you have a fight? Did he call you a horrible person or something?” Ang asked.

I shook my head. “No, he was lovely actually. We just talked about how our summers had been up until now and I told him about everyone getting offers and he told me about getting an offer to the Magpies. That was it.”

“So why the mood?” said Fred.

“Because Oliver walked out there.”

Angelina made a face. “And that wasn’t good of course.”

“Nope.” I kicked my feet up onto the bar in front of us. “He’s good at getting jealous and snapping my face off.”

“And the alcohol didn’t help I bet.”

“Not one bit,” I replied. Oliver sunk back into the chair beside me with another drink in his hand. The Magpies scored and the box got a bit quieter.




As the game went on things only got worse for me. Everyone around me kept drinking since the Seekers were no nearer to catching the Snitch and I leaned back and watched the blurs on the field. Fred was whispering things into Angelina’s ear and she kept giggling. Katie’s legs were rocking back and forth under her chair and Alicia made up a song about broomsticks and it was rather inappropriate. Lee kept blushing.

Oliver stayed quiet. I stayed quiet.

Bridget, however, did not stay quiet.

After returning from powdering herself or applying eyeliner or whatever it was that red-dressed girls did, she plopped down on the bar directly in front of Oliver. Which meant she was in the way of the game. He didn’t move or speak, just stared where he was looking before. Which was now directly at her chest.

Boobs.

Looking at them.

I wanted to gape at him and throw a quill at his face, but instead I tried to ignore it. He was jealous of Roger for no reason. I wasn’t going to be jealous of Bridget (dung-for-brains-Bridget nonetheless) just because she was throwing herself at him.

And he was looking.

“Oliver, I missed the last goal, who scored it?” she asked in a delicate tone.

“The Tornadoes scored but I’m going to miss the next one if you don’t move.”

There was my boyfriend. Found him.

Bridget made a face. “But Oliver, I thought we could talk.”

“We talk enough—this is the World Cup.” He reached out and pushed her to the side a bit as the Magpies went streaking up the pitch passing the Quaffle at speeds that made our team look like jelly. I wasn’t watching the Chasers, though, my eyes were focused on the hand he put on her waist to move her.

“So, Jane!” Bridget said, changing tactics and I immediately hated her for it. “How long have you and Oliver been together? We don’t get to talk about significant others very often so it’s quite lovely to meet you.”

I groaned. “A few weeks,” I said.

“Only a few weeks? How tragic.”

Angelina coughed from beside me.

“Yes, how tragic indeed,” I said. “But isn’t it unbelievable that as time goes on we end up being together longer? I thought it was purely magical.”

She raised a brow. “What do you like best about him? I think it’s his muscles.” She giggled and put a hand on Oliver’s arm.

That was the arm I touched. The arm muscle I liked. What was she playing at?

“I think it’s his ability to tune out the truly repulsive,” I said slyly.

Alicia snorted and tried to disguise it as a cough as Angelina did. Unfortunately hers failed and she started giggling. Lee covered her mouth.

“I’m not really sure what you mean by that,” Bridget said and I thought I could set an eye-rolling record that day. “I really think it’s his muscles though. And those pretty brown eyes. I’ve been trying to get him to go get drinks with me—as friends of course—for days now but he just won’t listen. Silly, Ollie.”

Yeah. It was Libby. Well, it wasn’t Libby, but it was at the same time. Why did Oliver attract these sort of women?

I glanced down at myself quickly. No red dress. No cleavage. No stupidity. No urge to call Oliver “Ollie”. I wasn’t a Libby, was I? Certainly not.

I thought back to running at him in the hallway of his flat and tackling him to the ground to snog his face off. Did that make me a Libby? Was I going to be a bunny for Halloween next year and not even realize it?

Fred would have a field day with that.

“Why do you think he won’t get drinks with you, Bridget?” I asked and Lee covered Alicia’s mouth again.

“Probably because of you I’m guessing…being you’re his girlfriend and all that.” She folded her arms and looked a bit put out. “But I think that’s silly. We’d just be going as friends. If something ever happened between us it would be a decision because your relationship wasn’t strong enough to compete with our chemistry.”

She looked completely serious. It was apparent she had given it a great deal of thought and I wanted to puke. Oliver didn’t move and Angelina had a look of horror on her face.

With that, I stood up and walked over to the bar. I ordered three shots, downed all three, and then ordered another drink with lemon in it. When I walked back to my seat I realized Bridget had taken it and was now trying to coerce Oliver into getting her a drink. He continued to watch the game as the Tornadoes scored.

What was he playing at? All right, so Bridget was an idiot, but he didn’t set her straight. He didn’t explain to her what was going on like he did to Libby and I knew it was because I had just talked to Roger. Roger wasn’t trying to get me to have drinks with him! He wasn’t telling Oliver that if things happened between us it was because my relationship with Oliver wasn’t strong enough.

Rubbish!

I stared at Bridget, wondering if I could fling the lemon at her eyeball and not get thrown out of the box. This was my birthday. She was a twit.

“C’mere, Janey,” said Fred and I glanced up. Angelina chuckled. He waved me over to his seat and I followed, standing in front of him and blocking his view of the game. He patted his lap and dragged me down so I was sitting on him.

Though we were friends I had only sat on Fred’s lap a few times because of death threats from Angelina. She looked as if she was enjoying herself. I glanced at Fred. He was smiling and put an arm around me.

“There,” he said gently, “now you’re getting the birthday treatment. What kind of drink is that?”

I beamed and put an arm around his neck, hugging the freckle-faced git. “It’s a good one, Fred.” Laughing at the wonder of my friends, I turned my attention back to the game in enough time to see the Seekers streaking across the pitch. Everyone leapt up, including Fred, so I was leaning against the bar and watching the Keepers stop in front of their hoops to observe and one Chaser actually dropped the Quaffle.

There was an eruption of cheers through the stadium and on the mega screen the score was updated to 320-200 in favor of the Tornadoes.

I threw my arms into the air, almost spilling my drink, and started screaming, thinking of my dad at home in our flat watching the game on TV. I ordered another drink and downed mine, vowing to enjoy the fact that I was at the Quidditch World Cup even though my boyfriend was a git and I was standing near Bridget.

For the following half hour drinks were passed around the box without stopping. I tried ones with cranberry and something with a chopped strawberry and plenty of straight shots and by the time Oliver’s teammates said good night to celebrate in the tents and Liam kissed my hand I was stumbling with my arm caught in my birthday sash. I chose to ignore Bridget as she leaned against the granite bar and told Oliver about how his eyes shined and I also chose to ignore Oliver as he big headedly told her he knew.




The entire field was in an uproar when we made it back to our tents. Celebrations were going on everywhere and I was handed a drink from someone two tents over. Of course I dumped it out because he told me my hair smelled like lilacs, but it was nice all the same. Fred started a fire and soon we were passing bottles of firewhiskey around and enjoying the sound of Katie singing a song she didn’t know half the lyrics to.

“Janey! Alicia! Here’s your present!”

I looked up and Lee was carrying a box out from one of the tents. He opened it next to me and I gasped, staring at the beautiful cake inside. It was scarlet and gold and covered in an enormous amount of frosting, topped with a wonky looking lion and letters that spelled out, Happy Birthday Jane and Alicia.

“Blimey, this is brilliant!” I cried, reaching over and putting my index finger right into the lettering of my name. I stuck it in my mouth. “And delicious!”

“Jane, you’re horrible,” said Angelina. “Share with everyone.”

I made a face. “I’ll share with Alicia.”

She beamed and stuck her finger in it as well.

Though Oliver laughed with everyone over the win, he didn’t speak to me as the night wore on. I didn’t mind since he had plenty to think about since Bridget asked him numerous times to have dinner with her, but I still noticed it and that irritated me. Things were supposed to be fine between us since we argued at Alicia’s cottage and made up. He arranged a trip to the World Cup for my birthday.

That sort of a gift was so much better than roses from Russia.

Yet I sat around the fire, slightly put out, singing the Tornadoes’ song.

“Janey, are you all right?” Fred asked, sinking down beside me. He put an arm around my shoulders and squeezed.

I stared off toward the others surrounding the fire. Alicia had half her face covered in cake and Angelina helped. George was passing the mostly-empty bottle to Katie as he yelled something about diving techniques and Lee tossed another log onto the pile in the middle. Oliver was sulking silently across from me.

I frowned. “I’ve been better.” I paused, heaving a deep sigh. “You know what’s rubbish about that? It’s my birthday and I’m telling you I’ve been better. I feel like such a whiner.”

He smirked. “If I had people grumpy with me for stupid reasons I’d be whining too I reckon.”

“I just don’t understand it,” I said loudly and the girls looked over. I swayed a bit on my seat and Fred caught me before I swayed too far. “I don’t get why when I don’t do anything wrong I get a shitty birthday. Do you know what the deal is with that, Fred?”

“Karma?” he asked, smiling again. “Maybe it’s because you’re just so beautiful karma wants you to have a craptastic birthday.”

“Good try,” I mumbled.

Suddenly I was angry, the different drinks welling up inside of me. This was ridiculous. Oliver was across from me sulking about what? About nothing. About me talking to Roger for a little bit? Or about Bridget? I hated Bridget. I wasn’t threatened by her.

Yet part of me was.

“Try not to think about it, okay?”

“That’s rubbish!” I said, louder than before. Fred jumped back a bit. Alicia stopped eating her cake. “I’m not going to sit here in a sash and tiara and smile like everything is fine! It’s not. I was having a good time. I even tried not to think about this crazy woman hitting on my boyfriend—I walked away! I’m not threatened by that—eugh! Peanuts have more brains than she does!” I was on my feet, pacing back and forth. Oliver’s eyes were on me. “No. No way. This is my birthday. I wore a blindfold to get here.” I swayed again. “You know what I did? I talked to Roger Davies in the hallway. Shocker, right? I know. Shocker. Guess what we talked about, Fred? We talked about the summer. We talked about Quidditch and teams and the fact that I got an offer from a sodding team. We talked about that.”
Fred looked like he didn’t want to be in the conversation anymore. Poor, Fred.

“He didn’t flirt with me. He didn’t make any attempt to ask me to take him back like Bastian did—we just ran into each other and talked. And what does Oliver do? Yeah, yeah, I’m talking about you—what did you do? You blew this whole situation out of proportion because you’re a cheap bleeding drunk and you don’t trust me as far as you can kick me!” I kicked some sand at him. “I can’t stand this—how could you? I’m going to sulk now, you see this?” I plopped back down beside Fred. “I’m sulking because of Bridget. Even though I know better. Here I am sulking. Watch me sulk, Oliver.”

I pouted, trying to be convincing, even though Fred was laughing into his hand.

“Is that all?” Oliver said, not letting an expression come through on his face.

“Do you have anything to say?” I asked.

“I think you’re being a right git,” he said.

That was when I stood, walked around the fire, and punched Oliver in the arm. I would have hexed him if I remembered where I put my wand, but punching was good for the moment and he flinched, grabbing his muscle.

“What was that for?” Oliver yelled, grabbing my arm and pulling me closer.

“That was for being a good-for-nothing prat on my birthday!” I cried, punching him in the arm again.

To my surprise, Oliver laughed. He pulled me again and I landed with a thump on his thigh. “C’mon, let’s talk,” he said.

“Talk?” I asked angrily. “I just told you everything you need to know—you’re being a prat. I talked to Roger. You let Bridget throw herself at you. You yelled at me stupidly. So I yelled at you. You’re ruining my birthday!”

He wrapped his arms around me and pressed his chin into my shoulder. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I just—you know what I think about him.”

“I do,” I said, my anger sliding down. The others looked away. “But just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean I can’t talk to them. And just because I dated someone doesn’t mean we’re going to find a closet and snog while you’re watching the game.”

Oliver let out a sigh. “Don’t hate poor Bridget.”

“And why not?”

“Because she’s dumber than a box of Bludgers and likes my pretty face.” He smiled.

“I’m not sure why, you’re quite the jerk, Oliver Wood.”

Part of me wanted to keep yelling at him, but I was exhausted. I knew it wasn’t over, especially since he swayed under me and the fire swam back and forth to my eyes, but since we were both still a bit intoxicated I figured letting it go would be the best option. He seemed to think so as well since he rested his cheek on my back and drew hearts with his fingers on my arm.

I should have seen what was coming when I talked to Roger, but I did nothing wrong.

Right?

Looking at the tents, I knew immediately I wanted instead the comfort of my four-poster where I could close the hangings and trap myself away from arguing. I should have known it wouldn’t be easy being with Oliver. I knew his attitude since I had a similar stubborn one and both of us conflicted on so many things.

But he wanted what was best for me.

I shivered as he trailed his fingers down my spine.

“About ready for bed?” Angelina asked as the noise died down around us. There were still several parties going on, but for the most part it looked as if four in the morning was the party limit for the Cup.

“I know I am,” said George, stretching lazily. “I’m exhausted. Katie, just pick a color and go to bed. It’s too late to be talking about wedding rubbish. We have too much time.”

She narrowed her eyes from her seat beside Alicia where they were comparing color swatches of pink and green. Alicia still had cake on her face.

“I should be off too then,” I said, standing up. Oliver nearly fell off his chair. “I’m pretty tired. Night then.” I smiled weakly and left toward the tent, spotting a disgruntled Oliver before I closed the flaps behind me.

Okay, so maybe I should have given him a good-night kiss and told him how glad I was we weren’t fighting anymore, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. That image of Oliver leaning toward Bridget over the bar was sinking deeper into my brain (stupidly) and I couldn’t shake it. Sleeping on it sounded like a better plan.

I’d see him alone in the next week anyway in London. We could talk then. We could snog then as well and everyone knew snogging made things better.

I pulled the blankets up over me as Katie threw her pillows around in frustration. Alicia passed out before taking her shoes off. I wondered if writing on her was appropriate, but decided against if after Angelina drew a pair of snitches on her forehead.

“What a day,” muttered Katie, climbing under her own blankets.

“Is that in a good sense or bad sense?” I asked.

“Both.”

“Then I completely agree.” I rolled over and stared at the tent material. I listened to them fall asleep, Katie snoring angrily, and then I heard the pitter of rain drops against the ceiling. Rain could only complete the night.

I turned toward the door and nearly jumped out of my skin.

Oliver pressed his hand to my mouth so I wouldn’t scream. His hair was soaked and I could see the drops on his blue shirt. I glanced around to see none of the girls had woken.

“Are we okay?” he whispered roughly, the Scottish coming through as I smelled alcohol on his breath. “I can’t sleep.”

I tried to smile. “I think so,” I replied, placing his hand in my own. “I feel like I need to sleep on it. I’m just so worked up.”

“What can I do? I feel like a prat for ruining your birthday…not that you’re not entirely innocent…but what can I do?” He looked desperate and sincere, something Oliver hid for the most part in his day-to-day activities.

I scooted over on the bed. “Lay with me.”

“Angelina might hex me.”

“Then you’ll get hexed.” I opened the blankets. “Seriously, come lay with me.”

Smiling, Oliver curled next to me, his arms holding my waist and his breath on my neck. “All right. Let’s fix this tomorrow, okay? I can’t stand being upset with you.”

“Then don’t,” I said, grinning. “I’ll be upset with you.”

He snorted quietly.





A/N: Oh, Roger Davies. What a character he is. And a dishy one at that. I hope everyone enjoyed the chap. I had to take a minor break in studying like insanity to post this and it looks like the break between will be a little longer for the next just since Finals week is next week--but I have about half of the chapter done!

Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful reviews so far! You are all so amazing and it makes me want to write all the time. The weather is perfect today, but alas, I shall write about Wrock and Web Comics for papers instead.

Thanks again, feel free to let me know favorite quotes, scenes, etc. That always helps for the way I continue writing my characters! Happy Almost-May!


Chapter 10: He'd die, Lou Beckett
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For Lou, whose name I stole so recklessly.





Angelina didn’t hex Oliver in the morning, but she did yell loudly and force Alicia to throw pillows.

“Hangover!” Alicia whispered, throwing a book. “I need a pill—what did you say worked well, Katie? Gimme one. Gimme. Gimme before I kill Ang.”

Katie threw her a bottle and I rolled over, my face pressed against Oliver’s chest.

“Didn’t I say girls and guys tents? Didn’t I say that?” Angelina asked.

Oliver groaned. “Someone shut her up,” he said, eyes closed.

“Alicia’s trying but she doesn’t have much aim in the morning,” I muttered. “Try harder, ‘Licia.”

“Shut it, Ang,” Katie said, throwing on a sweatshirt. “At least they’re not fighting.”

I blushed, the events of the previous evening sinking back into my head. They sounded stupid—trivial even. Did I really throw a fit over Bridget? Over how Oliver reacted to Roger? I was quite the character.

“You ladies up?” Fred asked from outside the tent.

“Ladies and Oliver,” said Angelina in irritation, throwing open the flap and stomping out onto the dewed grass.

“What’s she so sour about?” Katie asked. “It’s not like they kept anyone up.”

This time I watched Oliver color as he opened his eyes.

“We getting out of here soon then?” I asked, swinging my legs over Oliver. I made him close his eyes before I dressed and glanced at the other two girls.

“I think someone’s making breakfast, but we only have this site until noon,” Alicia said, feeling her head.

“Back to the real world it is,” Oliver muttered, following me outside into the sunlight.

“Don’t say that,” I grumbled. “I don’t want to go back home and be bored while you’re in practice.”

“I don’t want to go to practice and be bored without you either, but I guess that’s summer.” He took a seat beside me and we watched Fred make eggs on a brown pan.

I wanted to tell him it was hell being home. I practiced cooking without magic (even though I could now cook with magic) and watched the Quidditch Network. Unfortunately the season was now over and the only games on television would be repeats from the year or the Cup game.

Cleaning the toilet would probably be next on my to-do list. Voluntarily.

The eggs were great and more than one person commented on if the joke shop failed Fred could go into the culinary arts. And then George would be out on the streets because he apparently couldn’t do anything other than be a prat.

“The Ministry might hire you then,” said Lee and I chuckled.

Packing went quick and Oliver lazily took down the tents with his wand. I eventually found my own nestled next to my seat from the previous night, but I still watched since I didn’t like cleaning via magic quite yet.

Or ever.

“Oliver, are you okay taking Jane home so she can take her Apparition test?” said Angelina. “I’d take her but she was a flighty mess on the way here and I’m afraid of her angst right now.”

I tossed an unpacked pillow at her. She was ridiculous.

“That’s fine. I’ll see her home since I have practice so much this week I’ll hardly see her.”

“How romantic,” I muttered.




I was lucky to pass my Apparition test with my mind flying all over the place. I had to stop a few times and take a breath to do it correctly. Oliver stood outside the room and I could almost hear his tapping feet from where I was. He was too impatient. Apparition was a difficult art and if I didn’t do it perfectly he wouldn’t have a girlfriend to snog.

Luckily I did and I shook the hand of my tester-bloke before skipping outside and throwing my arms around Oliver. “Passed!” I cried, kissing his cheek.

He beamed. “Good, that means I don’t have to see you down here again.” He chuckled and took my hand, steering me out into the sunny streets of London. “Do you want to walk? We could Apparate but I’m afraid it would be pointless seeing that you live two blocks away—or are you one of those people that do it just to do it?”

I made a face. “We can walk, Oliver.”

I liked the sounds of passing Muggle cars and children yelling about lollipops and various other obnoxious sweets they could stick in their mouths. It was comforting in a sense, but at the same time I wanted to hear the breeze in my ear of a spell nearly missing my head or the sound of McGonagall going ape-shit on Fred for spilling something all over the Great Hall…or the Slytherins.

“What are you going to do next year without me there?” Oliver said as if he could sense where my thoughts drifted.

“Who says we’re going to make it that far, rowing like we do?”

He raised a brow. “It was your fault.”

“It’s never my fault!” I countered, pulling my hand from his own and poking him in the side with it. “You’re the one that makes the bad choices and lets blond girls flirt with you.”

Oliver smirked. “Stop being jealous, Jane.”

“I’m not—bleeding tosser!” I jabbed him again.

“I don’t know why you get so worked up,” he continued. “You look amazing when you get jealous. It’s a whole different complexion I think, very good for your skin.” He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and grabbed me around my waist.

I could feel his hands pull me closer and it reminded me of when Roger broke up with me and Oliver shook me to my senses in front of the spiral staircase. He had a firm grip on my hips and then he kissed me hard.

“Random,” I sputtered, unsure exactly of what to say. My mind swam with ideas, none of which were appropriate for the sidewalk where passers giggled at our spectacle.

How could my boyfriend be so hot?

Was there even another word to describe it?

He narrowed his brown eyes and pulled me even closer. “It’s not random if we’re dating.” Then he kissed me again and my whole body seized up like I was going to melt into a puddle and flow down the nearest drain.

It would have been worth it.




Unfortunately, our good-bye was less than stellar. I knew it would be, especially since we never really talked about our row from the previous night, but after we snogged for a minute or two in front of my door he left with a sly smile and I returned home with a bittersweet scowl.

“Jane! Is that you?”

I closed the door gently behind me and tossed my bag onto the floor. “Where are you?”

“Kitchen!”

I found him going through the fridge and pulling out tomatoes and lettuce while pieces of chicken thawed on the counter. “Of course it’s me, who else would it be? The owl?”

“A burglar?” he said cheerfully, grabbing a knife so he could start to cut the tomatoes.

“I would definitely announce myself if I happened to be a burglar,” I muttered. “What’re you doing anyway? I thought we’d order out tonight. Maybe some pizza or pasta or something. What do you think?”

“I’m fixing dinner tonight, Pumpkin,” he said, tossing the diced tomatoes into a bowl.

I was perplexed.

Dad never cooked dinner. Well, he did, but he never used tomatoes and fresh lettuce. That was a real chicken too. I didn’t see a microwave box anywhere. He was good with breakfast foods and salads, but I didn’t remember chicken being part of the package.

“I see that,” I said slowly. “But why?”

“I’ve invited a guest to have supper over here tonight since I knew you’d be home.” He shredded some of the lettuce.

“A guest?” I asked. “Oliver has practice tonight so he can’t come.”

“I wouldn’t be making chicken and salad for Oliver,” Dad said. “No, I’ve invited Lou Beckett over for dinner tonight.”

“Who’s Lou Beckett?” I propped myself up on the counter and stared at the raw chicken. It looked gross.

“I’ll introduce the two of you tonight. She’s a good friend of mine—would you mind cleaning up a bit before she gets here?”

“Around the house?” I groaned. I knew he would make me do magic to clean once I was seventeen. I could always pretend I lost my wand.

“No, yourself. You look a bit peaky. Put on a nice dress or something and brush that mop on top of your head.”

I gaped at him.

“Don’t give me that look—she’ll be here in an hour or so.” He went back to chopping.

The nerve.

I shoved clothes around my wardrobe and stared into it in irritation. These dresses were reserved for Oliver. And the ugly ones were for when I wanted people not to notice me. What would I wear for Lou Beckett, friend of my father?

Blue strapless? Ridiculous. Green sun-dress? Never. Professional brown skirt? No.

I should have just worn sandals and a t-shirt. I didn’t know who this Lou Beckett was anyway. It she was such a good friend I should have met her sooner.

Groaning, I pulled out a lavender dress with sheer sleeves and matching shoes.

It was only because Dad was making something worth eating.

I brushed out my mop and kicked aside my trunk so I wouldn’t run into it.

Aha!

I pushed it back, using my leg muscles a bit, and then pulled out my wand. I moved it away again.

Perfect.

“Jane?” Dad peeked his head in the door and smiled at my dress. “Could I ask you another tiny favor?”

“This is what I get for going to the Quidditch World Cup and not inviting you, isn’t it?”

“Could you put your magical things away?”

“Are you kidding—what? Why?”

“Lou is a Muggle.”

I swore loudly. “How good of a friend is she then? Dad, come on, I always keep my wand on me. What if she tries coming at me?”

He rolled his eyes. “Thanks, Pumpkin.” Then he shut the door behind him.

Stupid sodding good for nothing dinner guests forcing me to put my things away. I tossed my wand into my bedside table’s drawer, shoved my trunk under my bed and picked up the books that had found their way into deep corners.

“Pfft, Muggle,” I muttered to myself. “I can’t even tell Dad how the Quidditch Cup went—oh no, can’t do that. Lou Beckett can’t hear. She’d probably be better off hearing about Quidditch than watching that football rubbish the Muggles do.”

Why bother with a sport when you can’t fly?

Like I could even fly.

Oliver’s parents loved me for that piece of trivia.

“Pumpkin, are you almost ready?”

I threw a pillow at the door and then picked it back up. “Yeah, almost. Why? Is Lou Beckett here? Should I curtsey?”

“Stop being a snob,” he said through the door. “She’s on her way up. You’d better be nice.”

Why wouldn’t I be nice? I was Jane Perry. Nice was pretty much my middle name unless I was dealing with Libby. Or Mandy. Or any Slytherin really, especially Flint. Other than that, though, I was a generally nice individual.

Straightening my dress and feeling awkward without a wand, I wandered into the living room where Dad was straightening photo frames. He smiled.

There was a knock at the door and I jumped back a bit.

For a split second I wished it was Oliver, but when Dad opened the door I knew I hoped falsely.

Lou Beckett was a tall brunette with big eyes and a bright smile. Her shoulders were tense and she carried a beaded bag that looked very interesting. I wondered if she made it. Dad took her jacket and tossed it over the rocking chair next to the door and they both turned to me.

“Lou, this is my daughter, Jane,” Dad said nervously, rubbing his hands together. I could smell chicken coming from behind me.

I took Lou in with my eyes. She was taller than Dad, but that wasn’t bad. Her dress was stitched strangely, but in an “I did it myself” sort of way. She looked lovely.

“Jane, this is Lou Beckett. My girlfriend.”

I choked on nothing at all.

Of course they were dating—Lou Beckett was who Dad was off with while I was alone waiting for Oliver to owl or watching the Quidditch Network. She stole the crap out of my Dad-time. What was with the beads on her purse anyway?

“Nice to meet you,” said Lou. She beamed.

Fuck.

What if those beads just conveniently fell off her purse and onto the floor? What then, huh, Lou Beckett? I would trip and fall to my death, that’s what. And then Dad would fall and crack his skull open and I couldn’t save him since my sodding wand was stashed in my room and then he would die.

He’d die, Lou Beckett. What do you think about that?

“Well,” Dad said, breaking the obvious tension in the room, “why don’t we make our way into the kitchen? The chicken is about done I think.”

I sat at the head of the table and stared down at my plate. This was just ridiculous—springing this on me like that. It wasn’t like I was jealous—I had so many years with him he deserved to get out and about.

Right?

I figured he wouldn’t stay a single bachelor cool-dad forever. He had to branch out and meet ladies.

But Lou Beckett? I watched her perched at the other side of the table with that smile plastered to her bright face. She looked radiant and her beaded bag was on the back of the chair hanging there like a dead rodent. A smelly one and whatnot.

Fine, Lou Beckett. If this is how things would be, I wasn’t going to help you along.

“So, Jane,” she said, trying desperately to be cheerful, “you’re going into your last year of school, huh? That must be exciting.”

“Yeah,” I said as Dad served the food. I scooped salad and chicken onto my plate. “It’ll be fun.”

Dad gave me a look.

What? Was I supposed to find out what we had in common and what her favorite flavor lollipop was? Rubbish.

“I hear you just got back from a pretty exciting sporting event.” Lou, why must you try again? “That must have been so exciting, especially for your birthday.”

“It was,” I replied. Silence ensued and I got another scathing look as Dad joined us at the table. “I do love my sports.”

“What is your favorite? Football?”

Blimey, now I was supposed to think like a Muggle. What did Muggles like? I lived in London after all, all around Muggles. I tried to remember things I overheard while getting a sundae or ordering Chinese. Nothing came to mind. I knew a few of the Gryffindors mentioned football at one point and there was a round ball with black spots on it in the common room at one point. It went through the window because of George.

That was the most I knew about football.

“Yeah, good ol’ football.” I almost narrowed my eyes at Dad. How could he fancy her? She didn’t know about Quidditch.

He cleared his throat and cut a few pieces of chicken. “Jane, Lou owns the craft store around the corner. She makes her own things and gets to sell them—how fun does that sound?”

Was he trying to bait me? I never made crafts. Pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks were not my thing. The feeling of glue on my fingers made me cringe and the thought of putting together felt triangles was enough to make me want to join Libby’s league of bunnies.

“Wow,” I managed to say. “Crafty.”

“Do you like things like that?” Lou asked me. “I just made a few Christmas ornaments for next season, very pink and sparkly.”

I looked at my dress. There was definitely nothing about me to suggest I had an interest in pink and sparkly. “That sounds nice,” I said. “Do you make a lot of money doing that?”

Dad choked. Lou Beckett blushed.

“I make enough to survive in London, that’s for sure,” she said and regained her cheerful smile. “It’s all about the fun, though, that’s the reason I do it.”

I gave my most convincing fake smile. “Sounds fantastic, just fantastic.” I took a bite of tomato.

I knew I sounded a bit jerky. In fact, more than jerky. I felt a bit bad, sitting there in all my huff-puff watching Lou Beckett and her glowing smile while my dad tried to figure out where my personality change came from, but at the same time I didn’t feel bad. I felt almost betrayed.

Dad was sneaking off to spend time with her and I was in the dark. The complete dark. Pitch dark like there is no moon in the country dark. Not that it was entirely his fault—me being in the light was always a dangerous thing, but still.

There they were. Just eating and having a merry sodding dinner, my father and the woman who knew nothing about Quidditch and magic and Hogwarts. Final year? Of course it was exciting, I’d get to perform magic! Going to a sporting event for my birthday? Obviously it was amazing, it was the World Cup and the Tornadoes won!

“So,” Lou said. Dad looked over at her and I raised a brow. She was pushy, that Lou Beckett. “I hear you have a very charming boyfriend, Jane.”

I dropped my fork and heard the tomato smush back onto the china plate.

And Dad told Lou about Oliver. My boyfriend. My charming boyfriend, oh that was just fantastic.

“I suppose charming really sums him up,” I managed to say.

“What does he do? Does he go to your school?”

What does he do? HE’S A BLEEDING QUIDDITCH PLAYER.

“He graduated this year actually—plays sports now.”

“Oh, football?”

Football is for prats! Huge sodding prats. Oliver would never be associated with it and its silly white and black ball.

“Yeah.”

Lou smiled warmly. “Was position does he play?”

He plays the damn hot position. How was I supposed to answer that?

Think, Jane. Think. Football. There was a net involved, as well as that ball, and a bunch of Muggles running around like crazy after it and why the hell was Lou Beckett giving me twenty questions about Oliver? Probably figured I’d cave if she found something I wanted to talk about.

“Can’t remember, he scores goals though.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” said Lou, finishing off her salad. “Do you see each other often?”

“As often as we can,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure I’m going over there in the next couple of days.”

“Good, don’t want you to stay here all alone while I monopolize your poor father!” She laughed and Dad grinned with a rosy tint forming around his cheeks.

Oh, sick. Sick, sick, ridiculously fucking sick. Monopolizing. Merlin, that image wasn’t going to get out of my head for years. Decades even.

“Wonderful,” I muttered, jabbing my fork back into the tomato.




Lou Beckett stayed for several hours, chatting about this and that and popsicle crafts while I fed her one-word answers. Dad didn’t seem too keen, but he didn’t lecture me either and we watched a Muggle movie until late when Lou yawned and stretched and decided it was time to leave.

I was so excited because the movie was about blowing things up and the effects were all wrong.

Dad and Lou kissed good-night outside the door but I could hear it (sick) and he sighed after closing the door behind him. “Jane.”

I glanced up. “What a night,” I said casually.

“You’re so lucky she’s understanding and nice.” He was frowning.

“I’m also so lucky you gave me a heads up about what the hell I was walking into tonight!” I shot back, probably louder than I should have.

“Watch your mouth, just because you’re seventeen doesn’t mean you can walk around this place like you own it.” He clicked off the television and stood staring at me.

“That still doesn’t explain why you couldn’t tell your own daughter about having a girlfriend.”

“Does it ever occur to you that I don’t have to tell you exactly what goes on between myself and other people? You didn’t tell me about Oliver until I got called you out on it.”

“I shouldn’t have to! I’m the teenager here,” I said, folding my arms impatiently. “I think I should have been given a heads up—hey, Jane, here’s your new mommy!”

“Oh, don’t give me that,” he countered, “you know that’s not the case. And you sound dumb saying it. I wanted to make sure things were serious before you met her.”

“Still—a heads up would have been nice.” I stood and moved toward the hallway.

“Quit being bitter that you can’t spend as much time with Oliver.”

I gaped at him. “Are you—that’s insane! I’m not bitter. You’re changing the subject! This is about you and her and snogging outside the door and—you’re not even yourself around her, you know!”

“Don’t give me that, I was trying to make sure you didn’t offend her—honestly, Jane, how much money does she make? What a question to ask.”

“I wanted to know!” I said. “She could be using you as a sugar daddy or something.”

“A Ministry worker?”

“What does she think you do, anyway?” I said. “She doesn’t know you’re a wizard and you stuck me in a horrible spot. Oh, you have a charming boyfriend, Jane, what does he do? Oh, you went to a sporting event, huh? By the way, you’re going to your final year of school, nevermind that it’s Hogwarts and Oliver plays Quidditch and I went to the World Cup!”

“Keep your voice down!” Dad said, raising a hand. “You’re being dramatic.”

“I’m not!” I shouted. “This is ridiculous! I can’t stand Lou Beckett! Why don’t you find a nice woman that you don’t have to hide Quidditch from, huh?”

“Was that an anti-Muggle remark?”

“No, of course it wasn’t!” My voice was hitting the ceiling at that point as I balled my fists at my sides. “Don’t take this out of context—I can’t believe you did this. It’s rubbish, complete rubbish.”

“Jane, you need to go to your room, now.”

“I’ll do whatever I want to do!” I cried, but turned and stormed into my room regardless. I slammed the door, grabbed my wand from a drawer, and put a charm up around the walls. Then I screamed in frustration, kicking several discarded dress piles scattered on the floor.

This was pure insanity. He brought Lou Beckett in and simply threw her at me with twenty questions and that obnoxiously bright smile. That beaded bag didn’t help either. What was he playing at? Did he expect me to rush up to her and hug her?

Oh, hello, Lou Beckett, I adore you even though you’re the reason I had to watch Quidditch alone at night and eat real food. I came home for the summer to eat rubbish! Pizza! Popcorn! Salads drenched in dressing!

Oliver was supposed to train almost nonstop for the next couple of days. The girls were back in their respected places of residence and the twins were blowing something up somewhere, more than likely with Lee. Now Dad was off frolicking with Lou Beckett and I was in my room staring out onto a barren London street with headlights casting shadows against my wall.

Back to the real world indeed—Muggles and all.




In any other situation, I would have written a letter to Dad explaining how horrible my life was at the moment and whine about whatever made me mad. This circumstance was a little different, so I sat at my desk with the feather of my quill between my teeth and pondered. I could write the girls, but they were probably dealing with more than enough after the World Cup and Katie needed time to sort out wedding nonsense with George. I thought about writing Alicia, but in the end decided against it. I already whined to them once this summer; I needed to wait a bit longer before I lost my head again.

Dad was gone frequently in the following few days and I had my pizza more than once. He barely spoke when he came home, asking about what I wanted him to buy from the market and if I needed anything personal.

I needed a bleeding dad, that’s what I needed.

Lou Beckett sent him letters when he was home and the postman delivered them. It was irritating watching him walk in from the mailboxes with a distinct disgusting grin on his face.

I received no letters from anyone until Friday evening with my feet stretched up against the wall and headphones in while listening to angry music to take my mind off of summer. Oliver’s owl tapped against the window and I flew across the room, knocking things all over, and pulled open the window.


Jane,

Sorry I haven’t been able to see you this week. I’m sure you’re keeping plenty busy with your dad and watching replays of the Cup and exploring London. I’ve been staying down in the Puddlemere facilities the last couple days to do team bonding things, but I’ll be back tomorrow if you want to stop by and spend some of the day with me. Mum has something planned for the morning (she’s talking to me again apparently), but I’ll be back around noon. Lunch at my place?

Love,

Oliver



I grinned stupidly and folded the letter. Immediately, I stared through my closet. Which dress was good for lunch at Oliver’s? I grinned, knowing I wouldn’t have to rush through the sidewalks of London in it since I could simply Apparate there and strike a pose.

I decided on a skirt with a frilly top. It was beige, but there would be no swimming involved so I wasn’t worried.

Finally I had something to do during the day other than sulk in my bedroom. I floated my jewelry over to my bedside table and collapsed back against the pillows.

Take that, Lou Beckett. You may be trying to murder my dad with your beads and snogging him in the hallway, but I was going to lunch at Oliver’s place tomorrow and you could just stick that in your juice box and suck it.




A/N: Sorry for the lengthy 2 week wait for this one, I had to get the next chap of BTQC up and I had to create that chapter image of Lou Beckett. Thanks so Lou for inspiring me with her name! I hope everyone liked this chap, Jane is a little angsty but I feel as if it's realistic...that sure came out of the blue. Oh, Lou Beckett.

Thanks for all the reviews on last chapter, it set me over 300 for this story so far and that is so amazing! All those amazing reviews inspire me to keep writing and writing quickly. Chapter 11 is about halfway done as of right now and I promise there will be more Oliver!

So favorite quotes? Favorite parts? What do you think about Lou Beckett?


Chapter 11: Short Skirt, Long Sigh
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I liked the way my hair looked falling onto my shoulders and I hoped Oliver would as well. He didn’t seem as keen into my outfits as he did when we first started dating so when I put on the frilly top and skirt I made sure it was as perfect as it could be without me looking like a French whore walking around London.

Ah, but I wouldn’t be walking. I could Apparate now and by George, I was going to. By Fred as well.

“I’m going to Oliver’s for lunch!” I shouted out of my bedroom door. I heard the television.

“When will you be back?”

“After lunch.”

“Be home before dinner.”

I closed the door behind me. Things were awful and I didn’t know how to make them right again. This summer was supposed to be all about my dad and me commentating on the poor reffing jobs in Quidditch and eating horribly fattening coney dogs down the street. Instead, we were both so wrapped up with our newfound significant others we barely spoke and when we did it was forced and in irritation.

I did end up cleaning the toilet though.





I knocked on Oliver’s door three times. It was five after noon and no one was answering the door, least of all a burly Keeper with a particularly delicious Scottish drawl. It was an empty hallway and a few residents poked their heads out to see if I was having any luck. One woman offered me a cup of tea which I politely refused because she reminded me of Alicia’s mum, only with a lot more cats.

I knocked again. The hallway was dim and smelled like cabbage. Could he have been in the shower? The visual made me blush a bit and I admitted I hadn’t thought about that for a while—since staying at Alicia’s actually. After that I was wrapped up in such anger and frustration seeing Oliver naked hadn’t made it through my mind.

But now it did and I blushed a bit.

“Blimey, Jane, I’m sorry!” Oliver tore up the steps in a defined sweat. His blue collared shirt stuck to his shoulders and arms. “I only just got away.” He unlocked the door and tossed his keys onto the table.

“What were you doing with your mum?” I asked offhandedly, tossing my purse onto the coffee table and turning to face him. “Did she ask you to move furniture?”

He cocked a brow. “She has a wand, you know.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Actually no.” Oliver flipped on a few lights and opened the fridge, only to groan. “You probably won’t like it if I tell you.”

“Now you have to tell me,” I whined, joining him and wrapping my arms around his waist. He smiled. “I can’t stand when people do that—bring something up and don’t finish it. You’ll have to tell me what you did—did she go off on you for being poor now? Because let’s face it, love, you’re dead poor.”

Oliver smiled a bit and closed the fridge. “Actually, she set me up on a date.”

I choked loudly. “She did what? But I—I am currently filling that position!”

“I know that,” he said with a chuckle. “She seems to think if she forces me to have breakfast with some Quidditch daughter or whatever I’ll fall madly in love and break up with you so I can bask in their fortunes.” He shrugged. “Fortunately for you, however, I have returned without the motivation to break up with you.”

“Good.” I kissed his cheek. “I still can’t believe that. What a woman she is. She’ll probably set you up with Bridget next.”

“She tried that already, apparently Bridget had to attend some sort of Quidditch Bunny function—not sure what the Bunny part is about.”

I made my way back into the living room, falling onto the sofa. I was careful to keep my skirt from flying up as Oliver joined me. “This is rubbish. Why can’t your mum just be like other parents and love me?”

“Because you’re not dating an average boy. You’re dating Oliver Wood, International Quidditch sensation and rather handsome bloke.”

“Don’t forget the pompous prat part of that, you seemed to have missed it.”

Oliver chuckled and ran a few fingers down my arms. “At least I didn’t have to talk to her for a while; Mum was there so things went all right.”

“What did she want to talk about?”

“Eugh,” he said loosely, “money. She has access to view how much money I have in my vault and she seems to have realized I’m ridiculously broke, at least until Quidditch season starts up or until I have some sort of a sponsor. So she wanted to lecture me again on all the stuff they said at dinner before—being a part of Puddlemere, dating you, all that.”

“Yeah, I definitely suck up your funds.” I rolled my eyes.

“She’s peeved I’m living in London instead of at home for free or nearer to the Puddlmere facilities where it’s far cheaper. Apparently that’s your fault, sorry.”

“I’m not entirely surprised.” I leaned my head against his lap and smiled. “So other than money and getting set up with some bimbo, how was your morning?”

“Let’s just say it’s better now.” He moved a hand through my hair. “Is there anything you want to do today?”

I couldn’t help but feel something about the newness of our relationship wearing off. Our talks were now full conversations and the thrill and butterflies were beginning to fade every time I saw him. I didn’t tackle him at the door anymore. He tossed his keys on the sofa and I threw my purse on the coffee table. Now we couldn’t figure out what to do with a perfectly good afternoon besides eat lunch.

“Food?” I offered.

“I have tuna in the cupboard.”

“You’re ridiculous,” I said. The apartment was being illuminated by the little light coming through the cracks in the blinds and I stared at it for a minute and the glow it cast against tiny Quidditch action figures chirping about who scored a better goal. A Canons player was missing a finger.

“I’m sorry, I thought I’d have a chance to run and grab some things from the market before you got here—I’m a rubbish boyfriend, I know.”

“You really are,” I said, smiling. “Shall we go out then?”

“I think we’re going to have to unless you want to start gnawing on carpet.” He helped me up and we made our way down the street, passing all sorts of people I didn’t care to see on my date with Oliver—couples pulling a Public Display of Affection being the start of it all.

I held Oliver’s hand. That was enough, right? I didn’t need to suck his face on the street corner while waiting for the light to change in order to prove we had a working relationship. Right, Jane? Did I even want to snog on the street corner? Was that envy in Oliver’s eyes? Oh, bollocks, I was rubbish at this.

I tried to think back to dating Roger. Oh, that entire thing was rubbish. How could I learn from something that barely existed?

“Sandwiches?” he asked, catching me off guard as we entered a tiny diner with a checkered floor and a woman with an apron behind the counter.

“Anything labeled as food would probably be a good idea,” I replied, taking a seat on a large latex-feeling stool. My thighs stuck to the material and I cringed.

It wasn’t like he wasn’t attractive—God, the muscles I knew that were behind his shirt nearly made me color and his smirk was the first thing I noticed while hating him all those years. He was gorgeous, there was no doubt about it, but where was that spark?

I would fix that later. For now, food.

I rested my hand on his while we talked over turkey and I let my stomach relax a bit and just laugh at the randomness that was Oliver Wood. I liked how pieces of his hair fell onto his brows and how the deep brown of his eyes sank into mine mercilessly. Now this was more like it.

Before I knew it my stomach jolted just as he tightened his grip on my hand.

“Tell me about your week without me,” he said, chuckling. “Was it horrible? Did you pine for me and howl out the windows?”

“I did actually,” I replied softly. “Dad threw a pillow at me to get me to shut up.”

Oliver smiled and swished ice around in his glass. “Sounds like a good week to me.”

“Well, actually,” I said, remembering how awful it had actually been. “Get this. It was pretty awful. Your letter pretty much rescued me from hexing my dad and stupid Lou Beckett. Just listen—Dad’s got himself a girlfriend. But no, don’t smile, not that kind of cute girlfriend that is shy and nice and all that, but one he didn’t tell me about. He just says, Oh, Jane, by the way someone’s coming over. When she gets here—Oh, Jane, this is Lou Beckett, my bleeding GIRLFRIEND!” I paused for dramatic effect. Oliver did not react. “So I stare at this woman, who is a Muggle and knows nothing about Quidditch, and let me tell you she looked like a disaster…crafty purse with beads and upbeat attitude—she doesn’t even know who I am! At least she knew she was coming to meet the daughter or her boyfriend. I had no effing idea! Hey, here’s your new mummy! Merlin, what a disaster.” I took a drink.

“So then she starts asking me a thousand questions about my life and I obviously can’t tell her beans because I’m a witch and she would flip on me—by the way I had to hide my wand in my room so if she would have tried to murder me I would have been squat outa luck—but anyway, she asked about sports, my last year of school—she asked about you! I had to tell her you played football and scored goals. I don’t even know about football, but oh that Lou Beckett just kept prodding and prodding. She’s quite the woman, invading my business like that over salad. Then she starts snogging my dad in the hallway and he yells at me! I might have been a bit short with her, but she was sprung on me! Seriously. What was I supposed to do?”

Oliver took a moment to respond, raising a brow and finishing off his drink. “Was she mean?”

“Well, no.”

“What’s the problem then? Because she’s a Muggle?”

“No, of course not,” I said impatiently. “She was just sprung on me! And then he yells at me because I had a short temper.”

“Why did you have a short temper? I see nothing wrong with it.”

“Are you kidding me? There is everything wrong with it!”

“It sounds like you’re jealous.”

I gaped at him. “How could I—I had my dad to myself for years. I love that he’s dating, but to do that—and Lou Beckett isn’t even right for him. She’s crafty and doesn’t follow sports. She couldn’t possibly…this won’t work. This is rubbish. And now he’s peeved at me.”

“I would be too. I brought you along and my parents were jerks to you and I got mad at them—this is the same thing.”

“Okay, I definitely didn’t call Lou a riffraff.”

Oliver shrugged. “I don’t know, Jane, I just feel like they’re not doing anything wrong. You just want all the attention focused on you and now you aren’t getting it with me being gone and your dad off actually having fun.”

“Oh, so he wouldn’t have fun with me?”

“That’s not what I’m saying.”

“This is ridiculous.” I stabbed my sandwich with a toothpick. “Are you well aware boyfriends are supposed to agree with their distressed girlfriends? I think that is in a rule book somewhere.”

“Not if their girlfriend is just being stubborn,” Oliver replied. “You’re being short-sighted. Your dad isn’t doing anything wrong. Now I’m sure you’ve gone and made him feel guilty. You should say you’re sorry.”

“Me? I should do what? Are you sodding kidding me?”

“Calm down,” Oliver said, lowering his voice. “You’ve got half the place staring at us and the other half trying to pretend they weren’t staring before.”

“I don’t care.” I wheeled around and made eye contact with a few nosy Muggles. “You’re being a right twit about this. So is my dad. So is everyone, really.” I checked my watch. “Listen, I’m just going to get going.”

He stared at me. “Are we still on for tomorrow? We were going to have dinner at my place.”

I nodded. “Yeah. I think I’m going to go talk to my dad. I’ll be by tomorrow night.” Grabbing my purse, I turned and rushed out of the restaurant. I had no idea why there were tears lining my cheeks.




Dad wasn’t home when I got back and I pulled the stupid frilly top over my head and tossed it into the corner. Oliver hadn’t said a word about it. I threw the skirt with it and put on a comfy t-shirt and sweatpants. Of course he sided with them, why wouldn’t he? He was a sodding prat. He had always been a prat and nothing about me dating him would ever change that.

But still, a little sympathy? I was just jealous and should apologize. Yeah right.

Completely absurd. He was so wrong, just plain wrong. This was not my fault. It was sprung on me—I was the victim! That was a huge label and I pinned it to my shirt. Victim. It meant I should not be sorry. I wasn’t sorry. Lou Beckett did this to herself by me not knowing about her ahead of time.

Why couldn’t Oliver have at least noticed my outfit? At Hogwarts he nearly tackled me in the hallway. He used to give me that cocky smirk. When I first got out for the summer he made suggestive comments about sex on the sofa and so help me Merlin there were no sex comments—were had only been together a few weeks! It wasn’t like we were an old married couple withering away with no sex drive. I had plenty of drive. Of course, I was an inexperienced driver with no license, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t handle it.

Oh, I could handle anything, stupid Oliver Wood.

That sounded very dirty.

I flew back onto my bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what went wrong. I knew it happened at the World Cup. I knew we didn’t talk it out and I just let it go. That was stupid. We were distant and the images of Bridget and Roger were just hovering between us like bait.

I wanted to be happy with Oliver, to laugh in the streets of London even though he could barely afford his flat and to have him taunt me about my serious lack of flying skills. I would have even welcomed an insult or a crack about whatever it was we used to insult each other about. I couldn’t remember that long ago. I knew Roger came up quite a bit, which was ridiculously considering where our relationship ended up anyway.

“Jane?” Dad peeked his head through the door cautiously.

“I’m here,” I groaned.

He could probably tell I wasn’t supposed to be home until hours later.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah.”

He paused and the door squeaked. “Do you want to watch the replay of the Cup? I just left Lou’s so I figured I’d get some Quidditch in before the night is over.”

“No thanks,” I replied. I knew I should have done it to make up with Dad in some way or another, but I just didn’t feel like it. Yeah, that was the most mundane excuse in the books.

I had to fix this. Tomorrow when I went to dinner at Oliver’s I would fix this rubbish we were in and I found a short skirt to do it in.




I started early the following morning, rehearsing what was going on. I had a horrible relationship with my father as of late and my relationship with Oliver had to get better to counteract that horribleness. It was like a rainbow just after a thunderstorm or some other cliché image like that.

I put potions in my hair and curled my eyelashes and even put a bit of rouge on my cheeks to make myself look out of breath or a little drunk.

I didn’t speak to Dad through the day even though he sat on the sofa rewatching clips of the Cup match. I saw him rewind and pause every few minutes and then do a play in slow motion. I had probably missed that play by arguing with Oliver or talking with Roger, but I still didn’t want to watch it on TV. I felt like Dad would bring up Lou Beckett and the last thing I wanted to hear was a detailed arrangement of Lou Beckett’s popsicle stick tree ornaments. I would deal with that once Oliver and I were okay. Sure, that probably shouldn’t have been the order, but it had to be.

I stared at myself in the mirror. My face had every sense of being stressed and I poked it with my wand a few times. Nothing. I was simply being too stubborn. I glanced down at my legs. No one said anything about them since the start of summer and I wondered if they shrank—if they weren’t as leggy as previous months at Hogwarts. I stretched one out in front of me. No, definitely still leggy.

So why didn’t anyone care to notice?

Why did I care? I hated those comments.

Sort of.

What was I supposed to do when I got to Oliver’s place? Throw myself in his arms and start snogging him? I wanted to. I wanted to fall back onto his couch and get that imprint in my back again. It was sad I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

This was Bridget’s fault. Of course I couldn’t tell Oliver that, he would call be bonkers for just thinking it, but it was true. That blond should have been blasted in the face when I had the chance. Bam, right to the head.

I shifted and straightened my skirt. This wasn’t the time to get riled up about Bridget. Think, Jane, think. I had no idea what to do. I felt like there were so many options on things to get us back on track, but for some reason not a single one was coming to mind. My breathing was heavy and I forced myself to sit down before I hyperventilated.

It wasn’t like it was my fault. Right? I was right to lean on him, to vent.

I thought.

Oh, this whole thing was bollocks and I was just going to grab a broom and call up the Tornadoes.




He didn’t answer again when I knocked. I knocked a few times, sometimes using my knuckles and other times my knee or the heel of my shoes. They were cute heels too, so I didn’t knock too loud with them. The cat lady returned and asked if I wanted to come in for a biscuit. I declined and knocked again.

“Jane!” There he was, tearing up the stairs again. His face was flushed and he held flowers out in front of him.

“Oh, for me?” I said, trying not to smile because he was stupidly late, but the flowers were lovely.

“Actually, no, but you can have them if you want.” Oliver unlocked the door and I stared. “My mother wanted to talk today and surprise—a few Quidditch daughters were there to surprise me wearing shirts from the teams their fathers’ owned. The daughter of the Finches owner gave these to me. Wanted to throw them in a bin but I figured they would be nice for the bland flat, don’t you think?”

“Oh. Yea, of course. They smell so nice.” I tossed my purse onto the coffee table in a repeat of the previous day.

So Mrs. Wood cornered him again, this time with other girls who had flowers. I could have flowers, stupid Finches girl. Still, I wondered why Oliver got out of there so late. He knew I would be over for dinner. Couldn’t he hurry himself along a bit instead of being late…again?

“So what are we doing for dinner?” I saw my outfit in the reflection from the television and I looked stunning and sexy.

“Actually, I just ate with my mum so I was hoping we could just hang out here. I have a bit of food in the fridge.”

My face fell and I couldn’t help it. I thought about what could potentially be in that fridge. Tuna? Bread? Mold? The arm of the Canons figurine ripped off by the Keeper from Brazil? Who knew?

“Oh. Well, if you’re full we definitely shouldn’t go anywhere.” I sat down on the couch and stared at my skirt. Good for nothing.

“How was your night last night?” Oliver asked cheerfully. “I saw that they replayed the Cup match—it was so exciting seeing it on the screen instead of trying to keep up in person. What did you think of that foul right before the half? I’m convinced it was a scam.”

Finally we were talking Quidditch and I didn’t have anything to say. “I didn’t watch it. I went to bed early.”

“Oh.” Oliver was silent and I mentally slapped myself. So much for making things better.

“So what do you have in your fridge?” I tried to be cheerful, I really did, but the thought of his bachelor fridge made me nearly cringe. “Oh! I know! How about some of your famous brownies?”

He shrugged. “I don’t have any mix or anything. Let me see what’s in there for you.”

I watched him walk into the kitchen and eventually followed when he did not immediately respond. It was weird, him staring into the fridge with a vacant expression on his face.

“Well,” Oliver finally said, “I have some butterbeer, sliced pineapple, frozen waffles, steak sauce, and a bottle of water.” He pulled open a cupboard. “Tuna, a box of white rice, and season salt.”

“Fantastic,” I groaned.

“I’m sorry,” he replied in an irritated tone. “I don’t usually eat here so I don’t have much.”

“We just agreed to meet for dinner. I figured you’d have dinner somewhere in your place.” I tried to shrug it off but for some reason it really irritated me. It was dinner. I was supposed to eat. My stomach grumbled unpleasantly.

“I told you I ate with my Mum.” He narrowed his eyes and slammed the cupboard door shut.

“That would have been nice to know ahead of time,” I muttered. “You know, you eating with your date and all.”

“Don’t make this more than it is,” he snapped. “You’re just hungry. We can go somewhere and you can buy yourself something.”

“I can buy myself something? Isn’t that against some rule or something on a date?” I rolled my eyes and grabbed my purse off the table. “Where do you want to go?”

Ignoring my first question, Oliver said, “I’m so sorry I don’t make all this money fresh out of Hogwarts like Roger bleeding Davies. The season is over. I haven’t even started yet. They don’t even know if I can play like I did at Hogwarts so they don’t pay me a lot. In case you don’t remember my parents don’t support me anymore like your dad does and what do you do? You ignore him because he wants to be happy.”

“This isn’t even what we’re talking about!” I cried. “We’re talking about you being inconsiderate!” I shouldered my bag and shifted my weight to one leg. He stood across the room from me, hands balled into fists at his sides.

“I’m not bloody inconsiderate!” he yelled. “You’re the inconsiderate one—expecting I have all this money just because I got a job out of school. Rubbish! The world doesn’t revolve around you. I don’t even have to see you this much, you know? A lot of the other Quidditch blokes don’t even live in the same city as their girlfriends.”

“Is that what this is?” I said. “Is this because I complain about not seeing you often? Because I’m stuffed at home with a dad that doesn’t take my opinion into consideration—”

“Merlin forbid someone makes their own decisions and doesn’t consult you first.” Oliver rolled his eyes and I wanted to smack him so hard across his stubly face.

“Quit being a sodding jerk!” I cried. “You’re always like this when you get into a bind, you know that? You’re always selfish and blame everything on everyone else.” By that time I forgot about what we were arguing about. Oliver was being an asshole and I was going to make sure he knew. I wasn’t like Libby—I wouldn’t sit around and take his crap.

“I’m the one that blames other people?” He almost laughed. Apparently he wouldn’t take my crap either. “You’re so quick to point at other people I barely see your hand move. Lou Beckett is the reason your dad wasn’t open with you? It’s my fault we don’t see each other? It’s also my fault if we ever have problems. You’re more trouble than you’re worth.” He sighed openly.

That was when I threw a Magpies figurine at him, nailing him square in the shoulder. I followed up with the flowers from Miss Perfect Finches Daughter. They decorated the wall nicely as they slid down. “More trouble than I’m worth? That’s so rich coming from the boy whose parents practically disowned him and now he’s going to be all noble and try to make it in London on his own. Yeah. I’m more trouble? You’re a whole box of trouble, Wood. I should have realized it before now.”

“You should have? I must have been drunk to bring you to my parents’ place in the first place. I should have known you’d start some rubbish.”

“Me? Me start rubbish? Oh, that’s really wonderful of you to say.” I threw a pillow at him and this time he ducked. “You know who’d put up with your shit? Bridget would.”

“You’re still stuck on her!” Oliver yelled, coming closer to me. “Why won’t you let it be? She’s beautiful and single and wants me. Just get over it and stop being so sodding jealous. Must sting to be second in a relationship, eh Perry?”

“I’m not second in a relationship because I don’t even have a relationship!” I snapped, throwing the Quidditch Weekly magazines off his coffee table and storming for the door. “This is just ridiculous. You’re clearly unbalanced and a raving loon just like I always knew you were.”

“And it’s obvious you’re a crazy woman using me for Quidditch.”

I flung around, glancing to my left for something else to throw.

“This is done, Perry. It should have been done before it started.”

Knowing anything out of my mouth would have been a horrible hex, I flung open the door, slammed it behind me (I heard a painting fly off the wall) and took the stairs three at a time to get to the bottom. Then, without hesitation, I Apparated away from there.




I opened my eyes as a warm breeze found its way through my hair.

Bugger.

I was in Southern France, curled up in the grass shaking. Tears soaked my skirt and I could barely see the pretty French trees around me in the field. My stomach ached, but I knew he was right.

We were stupid to even try.




A/N: gahhhh sorry! It had to happen, right? They were so miserable. Everything seemed to be going wrong for them. It just wasn't working. So now it's over.

There really aren't any funny quotes or parts in this chapter...sad.

The next chap should be right on schedule. :) This weekend I got some more fantastical ideas for further along in the story so at least that will keep you happy. Thanks everyone for the amazing reviews! You're all the best!


Chapter 12: Story Worth a Thousand Pictures
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Grab some popcorn or Chinese food. This chap's 6800+. Enjoy!







Pfft. It wasn’t a big deal. I knew by the time I got home we made the right choice. I just had to find something to fill my life with now that I wasn’t spending time with Oliver. I was sure we’d be friends eventually when I felt like seeing his jerk face, but until then I could sulk in peace and convince myself I was better off without the overconfident pompous Quidditch Captain.

My room was clean by the end of the day the following day. My schoolbooks were organized alphabetically and I dusted my trunk by hand. Then I cleaned the muck off my blinds, read a chapter on Charming magical creatures, and made my bed so there were absolutely no wrinkles in the wonky quilt.

Now that I didn’t have to worry about Oliver, I had plenty of free time to do other more important things. My life would be cleaner and more productive.

I slid out into the vacant living room and made my way into the kitchen. That place was a mess. There were crumbs on the counters and some sort of sticky yellow substance on the stove that I was a bit skeptical of. I grabbed a rag and went to work, humming a tune while I went.

It was enlightening, really, doing work. Why hadn’t I done it before? There was sweat on my brow and a smile on my face and I was busy. I wasn’t moping around my bedroom waiting for one of my friends to rescue me. Why should they have to? I was perfectly capable of rescuing myself.

I pulled open the fridge. Now this was a fridge! There were carrots (which I wasn’t a big fan of) and salad (which was sort of crunchy when eaten with certain dressing) and thawing meat products (which I couldn’t cook). But it was filled with real food from the half gallon of two percent milk to the nearly-empty bottle of syrup on the door. This wasn’t bachelor food. This was real food. I took out the eggs and tossed a skillet onto the stove, successfully avoiding where the sticky used to be.

“Pumpkin?”

I wheeled around, almost cracking an egg on my face, and spotted my dad in the archway to the kitchen. I smiled. “I’m making eggs. Do you want a few? I saw some peppers and mushrooms in there. Maybe I’ll make an omelet. What’s your fancy?”

He stared. “Jane, do you have a fever?”

I felt my head quickly between egg cracks. “Nope. Not warm. I sneezed twice while dusting my bookshelf earlier but I think that was just the dust particles up my nose.” I threw in some milk and pepper and began to whisk.

“I think I’ve seen you make eggs all of twice in your life.” He inspected the eggs and made a face. “What’s the deal? Why didn’t you just order out?”

“I can’t believe we have actual food,” I said breathlessly, pouring the eggs into the pan. “I’m just in a new stage in my life and by rubbish, Dad, if you want to snog Lou Beckett you go right ahead and do it.”

“Can we sit down and talk about this?”

“Can’t—eggs will burn up!” I stirred them around with a spatula and threw in the mushrooms my wand chopped. “I’m okay with it though. I thought I wasn’t, but then I realized it was because of the way you did it—which was a sour way, by the by. But now it’s fine, you know? It’s spiffy really.” I tossed in the peppers and some cheese.

“Jane sit down, will you?”

I shook my head. “Seriously, the eggs are almost done.” I used my hip to adjust the temperature and started humming again. This was so easy. Eggs were my thing—my calling perhaps. Maybe I’d go into egg making for a living and start inventing different ways to cook eggs and serve them to people like the Minister or The Weird Sisters or something wicked like that. Scooping the eggs from the pan onto a plate, I made sure none of them fell to the unsanitary depths of the counter.

Should I make toast? I eyed the toaster and bread intently.

“Sit.”

No toast. I sat down with my plate, a paper towel, and a cold glass of ice milk and began to chow down. It was fantastic. I had a serious gift with eggs. I had to make more and pass on my legacy to all of my cute non Quidditch playing children. “This is effin’ ‘mazing,” I said, barely able to fit more in my mouth.

“You’re disgusting,” Dad said, a smile playing at his lips. “But we need to talk—whether or not you’re suffering from a personality disorder. I wanted to apologize about the Lou situation.”

I glanced up.

“I went about it wrong. I just—well, ever since your mum died I sort of haven’t done that serious dating bit. Sure, I went out with a few women here and there but no one I’d ever introduce you to. I didn’t really know how to—well, you know. I panicked. I just got so excited and figured the pair of you would get on so well I just forgot.” He frowned, twisting his fingers in front of him. “Apparently I was wrong. I was wrong to spring it on you and I don’t think the pair of you saw eye to eye at all. If you want I won’t bring her around here anymore and I’ll just go to her place instead.”

I stopped eating the eggs. Bollocks. What was I even doing? “No, no. Bring her around. I feel stupid. Was I ticked you sprung it on me? Yes. But I don’t hate her. I hate that I had to answer questions about Hogwarts and Quidditch when she can’t know about it, but I don’t hate her. She was actually all right for a bit there.”

I saw another smile. “I think you’d really get along with her if you gave her a chance. Maybe you could make ornaments together.”

“Don’t push it.” I chuckled and placed my plate in the sink. “As long as I don’t have to squirm around the conversation I think I could go for a second chance. Just warn me ahead of time, won’t you?”

Dad nodded. “You’ve got yourself a deal.” Obviously sensing my tense demeanor, he added, “Do you want to head down to Quality Quidditch Supplies? I hear they have a sale on Tornadoes stuff since they won the World Cup.”

I made a face. “Actually, I think I’m going to take a break from Quidditch. Long season, you know?”

“Is everything all right, Pumpkin?” He looked at me with those dad eyes. He knew something was up with me. He always did. It was a dad sense I supposed. I wondered if Oliver’s dad could sense—no. I didn’t wonder. I didn’t sodding care.

“Yeah. Everything’s fine. I just have so much energy today.” I grinned and escaped to my room as soon as humanly possible.

I had no idea why I didn’t tell him Oliver and I broke up. Maybe he would go out for Oliver’s blood or maybe he would give me fatherly advice, but I didn’t want any of it. I shut the door quietly and sat down on the quilt.

It was still obnoxious thinking about me Apparating into southern France. Sure, it was the place our riff started—there, at the Quidditch World Cup on my birthday. I must have been thinking stupid. I couldn’t concentrate. I should have seen it coming, though.

At least I only cried for a minute or two. Crying was rubbish and I would have no part of it. I used up all my tears after that breakup with Roger and I was done. No bloke was worth it. I didn’t need him. I needed myself. I needed—bloody hell, I needed to stop thinking about it. Rubbish. I was home and busy and that was all I needed. I certainly didn’t need stupid Quidditch or Seeking or Quality Quidditch Supplies to make me feel better.

I had friends of course.

But then again Katie told me she was busy until the get-together at her house. Angelina wrote me explaining she would be unreachable until we met up at Katie’s because she was camping with her family. What was so exciting about lying on the ground and eating bugs, I had no idea, but I was irritated with the thought. Alicia was also busy maybe with Lee somewhere doing something I forgot already.

But I still had friends, right?

I made a face. The twins were at the Burrow with their family and George was being increasingly stressed with wedding rubbish. Did I even have any other friends I was in contact with over the summer? At this point an encounter with Libby sounded promising. Or even a pompous jab by Ellis.

Oh, bugger. This summer was garbage and everyone knew it. Okay, only I knew it because everyone else was off swimming with leeches and looking at china patterns.

That was when it struck me. I did have a friend—one friend—somewhere out there in the world. I grabbed my quill, opened my ink, and wrote a quick letter to Roger Davies.




I was surprised how quick he wrote me back. It was only a day or so later and I heard the owl scratch before I was finished dusting the shelves in the living room. Dad wasn’t there and I ripped open the letter in silence to see Roger wanted to meet me for lunch that afternoon. Thank Merlin, I’d have to get to the vacuuming later.

It was nice of him to answer my call of desperation considering I had no friends and I just wanted to keep myself busy since I had no reason to laze about. In honor of the occasion, I put on a pink dress with a silver necklace and left a note for Dad explaining I finally had a life and I was out to lunch with the sworn enemy Ravenclaw who was no longer an enemy since graduation. I phrased it a bit differently, but it got the point across.

Roger met me a few blocks away in my favorite ice cream place. It served horribly fattening food and the best ice cream in London and he was already perusing the menu when I arrived.

“Find anything interesting?” I asked, sitting down across from him at a table by the window. I grabbed my own menu.

“Too many things,” he said, barely glancing up. “Have you had everything here? I’m thinking about this chili dog special situation, but a regular burger sounds delicious. What do you think?”

“Neither,” I said. “Get the deluxe fry with everything. Trust me. You won’t be sorry.”

He slapped the menu down on the table. “Well, that’s that. I won’t have to look anymore now that Jane Perry knows what I’m ordering.” Chuckling, Roger took a few moments to glance around the restaurant. “You look lovely today. Something about summer makes your skin radiant.”

“What a twit you are,” I replied with a smile. “But thank you. And thanks for having lunch with me. Being holed up in my flat for days isn’t agreeing with me.”

“That’s strange; by the looks of you it seems it’s agreeing very well.” Roger smirked. “But why have you been holed up? Where are the girls and Wood and all that? Surely someone is around besides me to have lunch with.”

I groaned. In my letter I conveniently left out why I was so bored and alone.

“Well,” I started, glancing up to see if he randomly went ADD and forgot that I was talking. He stared back. “The girls are all off doing girl things—summers are always horribly busy for them which I don’t understand. Wood, well, Wood and I broke up so I don’t think I’ll be talking Quidditch with him anytime soon.” I attempted to smile but my mouth was broken.

“Oh.” Roger pressed his lips together and made a disgruntled noise. “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, Jane.”

I shrugged. “It’s better off this way. I’ve gotten so many things done—I’ve learned how to cook a bunch of things too.”

“Ah, a productive breakup.”

“What do you mean? I’m glad we broke up. It has given me all this time, you know? I can’t believe I keep forgetting to do so many things. My room is spotless. Why did you say it in that tone?”

I could see the edges of Roger’s mouth twitch. “You still haven’t broken, have you?”

“Broken? I’m Jane Perry. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t break.” Nevermind the complete meltdown after you broke up with me, Roger. Other than that, I was unbreakable. Diamond-hard even!

“Jane, you’ll break. Right now you’re trying to keep your mind off of it. Just give it time. Have you rewatched the Cup match?”

“Why would I? I’m taking a break from Quidditch.”

He nearly rolled his eyes. “Of course you’re taking a break from Quidditch. How silly of me.”

I couldn’t respond since the waitress arrived at our table with a grin and a pencil so we ordered and I narrowed my eyes at Roger as she walked away. “I’m over him, you know. I’m quite all right. Maybe I’ll go on a date or something.”

This time he laughed. “Go on a date with whom? You owled me out of desperation and I’m your bleeding ex. Who else do you have around to snog?”

I put on a pout. “Okay, maybe I won’t go on a date yet. But maybe soon I’ll meet someone while going down the street for a cheeseburger and then you’ll see. And then we’ll snog and not talk about Quidditch and it’ll be perfectly lovely, I’ll have you know.”

“Of course, Jane. Be sure to owl me updates on what fantasy bloke wears and how he walks because I’ll have to approve of course.”

“You’re approving of no one,” I snapped playfully. “He has to approve of you as a friend. Which he will of course since you’re wonderful.”

“I’m glad you think so.” Roger pretended to dust off his jacket and laughed. “I’m glad we’re doing this, you know.”

“Me too.” I smiled as the food came and dug in. “I didn’t think I’d speak to you again, to be honest, but I’m glad I did. It’s not like we ended in some huge disaster fight like Oliver and I did. We can still be friends and chat about life and problems and the color of draperies.”

“Do you think we’ll ever talk about draperies?”

“Probably not, but the possibility is there.” I shrugged.

There was a pause while Roger tossed a fry in his mouth. “What did you guys fight about anyway? Not that it’s my business, but if you’d like someone to talk to I’m sitting across the table.”

“Everything just sort of blew up.” I went for my second shrug and stopped. “It was just everything. He’s rubbish, that’s all. I mean, I said some horrible things but he was just ruthless. He’s never on my side, you know? He’s always out for himself. So wrapped up in his bleeding Quidditch practices and the women just fawning over him—complete ridiculousness. And then his mum sets him up with these Quidditch daughters and he’s so lax about it. Why don’t we just put up the flowers around the flat to brighten things up, never mind they’re from another woman!” I put on a false high-pitched voice that sounded nothing like Oliver but I wanted it to anyway.

“Wait, other women? I’m completely lost.”

“His mum hates me.” I took another bite for dramatic effect. “When I say hates me, I really mean it. Called me riffraff to my face. So now, in order to get Oliver to realize we were horrible together, she set him up on lunch dates with all these other broads. One gave him flowers. He brought them back to the flat to brighten it up, like I said. Oh, they brightened it up all right. Should have thrown them.”

Roger chuckled. “Sounds like a bad fight. Lots of yelling?”

I nodded. “Too much.”

“Why didn’t we yell?”

“We didn’t have anything to yell about,” I replied solemnly.

“Are you going to be okay?” He looked sincere and I was glad I owled him.

“I already am. Honestly, I’m great. I’ve never felt better.”

He smirked. “All right, but when you actually break and realize you’re horrible and shit without someone, you know you can owl me and we can hang out, right? Because it’ll happen and if you’re alone I don’t want you to be.”

“You’re a good friend, Dodger.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

I tossed a fry at him. “Thanks.”





We stayed for a few hours, chatting over melting ice cream and strawberry shakes. I sensed the waitress probably wanted us gone far sooner since there was a line at the door for tables, but I didn’t care. I finally got to catch up with Roger about his summer and how there were a few ladies catching his attention working in the Magpies’ office. I told him all about Dad and Lou Beckett and how stubborn I was but how unfair it was to begin with—told him all about Alicia and Bastian and then Lee and the ridiculously romantic moment they had in the sunroom after everyone was asleep and the fireflies and my birthday and Bridget.

“You’ll owl again?” He asked, helping me with my jacket outside.

“Sure I will.” I smiled and a few people passed.

“Even if you don’t want to meet up, at least keep me posted about Mr. Imaginary and how things go with the girls when you see them.”

“You know I will.” I hugged him tight. “Thanks, Roger. You’re the greatest, really. I’m glad we could stay friends now that we don’t have to play Quidditch against each other.”

He chuckled. “I’m glad too.” He paused after we broke apart. “Do you think you and Wood will get back together?”

Though taken aback, I wasn’t entirely surprised. “No,” I said. “I don’t think we will. We’re just too different. Oh well, though, right? Time to move on. It’s not like he’ll be back at Hogwarts next year so I don’t have to see his ugly gob.”

“Pfft.” Roger began to walk backward the other way. “You don’t think he’s ugly and you know it.”

“I can pretend!” I cried, turning. “See you, Roger!”

“Later, Jane.”

It wasn’t dark yet but a chill was in the air as I walked back to the flat. The female in me noticed an absurd amount of overly giddy couples oogling all over each other walking down the sidewalk. Perhaps that was the sexist categorizing part of me.

I thought about Lou Beckett and how happy and excited she was to meet me. I really miffed it up big time. She just wanted to be liked and I treated her like Professor McGonagall treated me when I forgot to finish essays and ended it in the middle of a sentence. At least she would be around in the future so I would have a chance to fix it and not be smacked in the head with surprise. She might be all right. I had to reanalyze that bead bag situation.

I paused on the steps to my building for a few minutes and watched people walk by. People in London were so diverse and often in a hurry. I enjoyed seeing them attempt to hail cabs and check their watches as their strides became longer. My eyes fixed on a very bourgeoisie mother pushing a posh pink stroller. The baby inside was playing with a large stuffed bear.

The mother nodded to people as she walked by. A few elderly women stopped to ooh and ahh over how adorable the baby was with the one pink bow in her barely-there hair. An older man caught up to the woman and kissed her gently on the cheek. He held the hand of a little boy, probably no older than six.

“Mum!” he cried, tugging on the sleeves of her tailored jacket. “Mum, Dad’s said I can have a lolli when we get to the market—I can, can’t I?”

She smiled down at him as the elderly women continued on their way. “Certainly, dear. You’ve been wonderful today and deserve a bit of sweets.”

He cheered and grabbed his father’s hand to lug him faster toward their destination. His mother checked on the baby briefly, smiled, and followed them around the corner and out of sight.

I paused, biting my lip hard, and went into the flat. Dad wasn’t there so I retreated to my room and closed the door. With my wand I lit a few candles and let the dying light set a somber mood in my room. Suddenly I wasn’t excited like I was when Roger and I laughed over ice cream. I felt empty.

It was a familiar feeling and I was surprised it took me this long to find it this summer. The delay was probably Oliver’s doing and this angered me more than anything.

In typical Jane fashion, I leaned over to my bed and into my nightstand drawer, grabbing a dusty brown frame. I felt so overdramatic and cliché—as if I should have grown out of this already. It seemed as if since I was a girl this was what I did. I pulled out the drawer, candles lit, and stared at the only picture I had of my mum.

She was beautiful. I supposed everyone figured their mum was beautiful, but mine truly was. In the picture she was reading a Jane Austen novel, but I couldn’t tell which one. I always tried when my picture-mum held it up over her mouth and laughed, probably at something Mr. Darcy did or how daft Marianne was, but I never figured it out. Her long brown hair was the same as mine—shiny and a bit unruly how it fell around her shoulders and refused to stay behind her ears. I watched her eyes, the same brown eyes as mine, and how they danced with laughter. She wore a blue cardigan she let me wear one Christmas when I was little. I can barely remember swimming in it while opening gifts.

I had more pictures right after she died, of course, but after our house in the country burned down because Dad wired our first toaster wrong, that was the only photo I had left. I was lucky to have it in my bag since he let me walk to the village park for the first time alone (I won’t mention how foolish that was considering I was six, but I didn’t end up kidnapped or killed). Dad was completely devastated. He owled all her friends from school, but none of them had any pictures.

That was the first time I put the picture in my bedside drawer instead of out on the dresser. I didn’t even take it to Hogwarts because I didn’t want questions.

Leaning back, I stared at the picture. Blimey, she really was beautiful. If I looked anything like her I’d be lucky. She seemed to stare back at me and I wanted to say something. I wanted to tell her about Oliver and about Roger, but something told me she already knew.

“Pumpkin? You in here?” Dad stuck his head in the door and smiled. “You are. Good. What are you—oh.” The smile faltered a bit as he ambled over, taking a seat on the bed beside me. I handed him the frame. “God, she’s beautiful, isn’t she?” he whispered, staring at it thoughtfully. “And you look just like her. Blimey, almost identical. I wish I had a picture of her when we were at Hogwarts, you’d see. Same face shape and everything. I really don’t think you got any features from me.”

“Just your sense of humor.”

“No, that was hers too.” Dad laughed lightly. “I hope she knows we miss her.”

“Dad, she knows.” I put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure she knows.” I paused and watched his eyes follow Mum in the picture. She waved and he smiled. “Tell me again how you met.”

“You’ve heard the story a million times, Pumpkin. I remember when you used to request it before bed instead of Beedle. Apparently the Fountain wasn’t good enough for you.”

“Just tell me again or I’ll reorganize your closet and hide your collared shirts.”

He smirked. “Okay, but the brief version, eh? I’m getting hungry.”

“Brief it is.” I leaned back on my elbows and curled my feet on top of his legs.

“You know we were in different houses,” he began, clearly excited to tell the tale even though this was the seemingly millionth time. “She was a crazy git Gryffindor and I was a civil, sane Hufflepuff. We were in a few classes together but we didn’t have any of the same friends. I had to hate her considering she was on the Gryffindor Quidditch team—”

“Bleeding wait.”

“What?”

“You—you never told me that. Did you leave that out before?” I hoisted myself up, breathing heavily.

He made a face, ears reddening slightly. “Erm, yes actually. I sort of left that part out when you were younger. I knew after this year I’d have to tell you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“I didn’t want to make you feel like I was guilting you into playing Quidditch,” he replied soberly. “I felt like if I told you she played you might play too just to make me happy. I always wanted you to play, just like her, but I wanted you to make that choice for yourself.” He made an embarrassed face and continued. “She was a Seeker, actually, and I wanted her to fall off her bleeding broom so bad so Hufflepuff could actually win a Quidditch Cup. It was our seventh year and we were in the Cup Final and our players kept trying to off her before the match—send her up to the hospital wing wrapped up, you know the drill. So me and my mates from the team were walking down the hall and she came out of Care of Magical Creatures late and she was alone.” He paused here to chuckle. “Dev, one of the Beaters on the team, asked what he should do to her and they cornered her back by classroom sixteen. Jeering, they were. She looked scared out of her knickers and I told them to knock it off—it was only a match and she wasn’t that good anyway.

“Well, she was that good because she whipped out her wand right there and offed all three of them with one hex. Sent them to the hospital wing till we left on the train. She didn’t hex me, though. I asked her why and I remember her dusting off her robes and picking up the one book that had fallen while she hexed my mates to smithereens. What a class act she was, eh? She told me she didn’t hex me because I wasn’t on the team and she cheated off me on a Charms essay once when she didn’t remember a few steps.” Dad paused again, smiling with tiny tears in his eyes. “So I got off with dragging my mates down to the hospital wing—got an earful from Madam Pomfrey. She was new that year and the Quidditch injuries were driving her mad. Then your mum, pretty as could bleeding be, stopped in to see how the boys were doing at about eleven that night. I think she knew I would be there since I felt bad. Blimey, I remember everything—that too-big sweatshirt and her slippers scraping the floor. She had a Transfiguration book with her and a quill behind her ear and she looked cocky. Merlin, she was cocky.

“So she told me she wanted to make sure no one else from her team got to me while I was carting them to the hospital. What an excuse, that woman was full of them. She said she hoped I would still root for Gryffindor and I told her I’d rather eat my toenails but that didn’t change her expression. She smiled at me and it was right then—it was right when I saw her smile in her baggy pajamas I knew I loved her. The only inconvenience was the fact that I loathed her team and wanted them to lose so bad it hurt. She told me she’d see me at the game, you know the drill, and I just sat there, totally in love with the enemy.” Dad chuckled and looked back at the picture.

“At the game I volunteered to help Madam Pomfrey down on the field in case anything happened. The view was horrible but my mates kept giving colorful commentary and ripping the reserves new ones. Your mum flew great. She always did, which is why I hated her. There was a Bludger just going insane—almost targeting her but we all knew it wasn’t. The Hufflepuff reserve Beaters were just ridiculously good.” Another pause to look like an arrogant sod. “And then it happened. She caught the Snitch—I heard the Gryffindors just go crazy—but there was a late hit and the Bludger nailed her in the side of the head and she—I saw her fly off her broom and I was running faster than I ever had…well, since I hated running and all that. You got that from me. I caught her, right in the Hufflepuff end and her broom landed a few meters away. She was out cold and I took her back to the castle, Gryffindors singing that annoying chant they had back then, and she came to. I asked her for tea on the last Hogsmeade weekend, she said yes, and the rest is history.”

I tried to ignore the fact that Dad had a few tears dripping down his face. He told the story so well; he always had, though I suspected he threw in a few details now that he knew I could feel less guilted into playing Quidditch. I hadn’t heard a good half of the story before that point, but I didn’t care. I knew why he did it. In a way, it felt fresh, my parents falling in love after being so different.

“You were so happy, weren’t you?” I asked lightly as he handed the frame back to me.

“Happy can’t even begin to describe it.” Dad let out an exhausted sigh. “But that was hardly a story. It was the brief version and that’s all you’re getting out of me. I’m starved.”

I had high respect for him covering up his emotions and continuing the manly aspect of his personality. “Of course. Go on, then. I think I’m going to get to bed early.”

He smiled warmly. “Night, Pumpkin.” He walked out and before he closed the door said, “You’re just like her, you know. Just as stubborn and cocky and beautiful and wonderful.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“I just want you to know.” He paused again. “Because sometimes I think you don’t realize how amazing you really are.” The door closed with a quiet snap and I was left in the semidarkness again.

The lonely feeling was back again and I propped the frame up beside me. Mum laughed again and turned the page of her Jane Austen book. To think I was like her was more than a compliment. It was a goal. She looked smart like a Quidditch Seeker who fell from her broom into the arms of her future husband.

I choked.

Nope. No, it was a complete coincidence and had absolutely nothing to do with my situation. I rolled over and faced the wall. There was no way. Loads of Seekers probably fell from their brooms and were caught. I mean, I was sure people were charmed to fall slower or something, so maybe not all of them were caught, but I bet I was in a large majority. I was sure of it. It wasn’t like he even kissed her after she fell anyway. She was unconscious, so there.

I wouldn’t be with Oliver again. We were too different. We fought. We hated each other—that whole ordeal just proved it. Perhaps one day I could owl him for lunch and we could meet as indifferent acquaintances and discuss a potential love interest working in the Puddlemere office.

My face flushed with temporary anger before I realized jealousy was not the proper emotion anymore. I was over him. I couldn’t stand him.

It was over. I was happy. Well, I wasn’t happy I was alone and empty, but I was happier without him nagging on me about this and that. Pfft, like I needed that.

I leapt to my feet and immediately grabbed for a roll of paper towels and my multi-surface cleaner. Spraying it, I breathed heavily and began to clean off my desk. Sure, it was already clean but I didn’t care. It wasn’t clean enough. I scrubbed and my forearm hurt.

I scrubbed to a tapping nose, back and forth and back and forth and then I realized it was a strangely tiny owl attempting to bite its way through the window. I opened it quickly and the gray owl buzzed in, dropping a slip of parchment at my feet before flopping onto my nightstand to drink out of a glass of warm water.


Janey!

It’s that time of summer again!

Girls night (well, nights) at my place—the boys will survive a bit without our pretty faces. Tonight—bring games, candy, nail polish, and every other cliché bunch of rubbish you can find around your messy rooms. This is going to be absolutely epic.

All my Love,

Katie



I looked around at my once messy room. It was spotless and thank Merlin for friends because if I cleaned any more my limbs would fall off. This was exactly what I needed to get away from the empty feeling building up in my stomach. A holiday! A holiday away from my disastrous holiday.




I packed everything. Cute outfits to flaunt just in case we went somewhere exciting, cliché girl sleepover things, sweets, real food in case there were too many sweets—even a book. The weeks spent at Katie’s were some of my favorite each summer and I wouldn’t let them go to waste this year. Especially since I was now a single woman.

And everyone else wasn’t. How strange.

“Dad!” I cried, rushing into the kitchen to see him finishing up a salad with ham on the side. “Going to Katie’s—just got her letter!”

“You look cheerier than before.” He smiled. “Well, saner than before. Not cheerier.”

“I am a bit saner. I’ll owl you from there, shall I?”

Dad beamed and hugged me tight. “Give the girls my love—and tell Fred to keep his hands to himself. Love you, Pumpkin. Have a good time.”

I waved, rushed back into my room for my bag, and Apparated off to Katie’s house in the country.




We always gathered at Katie’s in the summer because it was enormous and she was an only child. I had no idea how her family did it, but her dad worked in broomstick manufacturing and her mother was an administrator for the Appleby Arrows. I stared from the steps, much like I did every time I came to Katie’s, and was no less impressed than I usually was.

There was a sweeping stone staircase up the front and perfectly manicured plants to contrast the overgrown hedges at Alicia’s cottage. There was even a fountain behind me in the drive and stained glass windows upstairs.

We always had our own bedrooms there, the same ones each time, and I rushed inside to see if Katie was anywhere near the front door. “Katie!” I cried, closing the door behind me. “Did you start without me?” I stood in the center of the foyer, a grand room with enormous paintings and a marble staircase curling to higher floors.

“I can’t start without you,” Katie said from somewhere off to the left which I assumed was the kitchen. I followed her voice. “The girls only just got here anyway. We’ve invaded the sweets. Care for anything?”

I found them surrounding a large island in the kitchen, leaning over the granite with chocolate stuck to their faces. “Actually no, thanks. How are you lot? Your parents take off then?”

“Yeah,” Katie replied, grabbing another cookie. “Dad went up to the warehouse in Ireland to secure some things for the week and Mum’s in Appleby for a couple days but she’ll be back. I’m great though! Things are wonderful.”

“How’s dear George?” Alicia asked, leaning over to prop her suitcase up against the cupboard. “Have you two done it yet?”

Katie flushed. “What a question to start out with!” she said. “No, we haven’t done it yet. We’ve been at the Burrow, do you expect us to? I’ve been sleeping in Percy’s old room because Molly thinks it’s inappropriate for me to stay in the twins’ room.”

“I do too,” said Angelina with a laugh. “I also think it’s inappropriate you’re calling her Molly. That’s ridiculous!”

“It is not,” she said. “She told me to call her Molly. What could I do?”

“You could call her Molly to her face and revert back to Mrs. Weasley when in company of those who are not engaged to one of her sons,” Angelina pointed out. She snatched the cookie out of Katie’s hand. “Seen Lee recently, Alicia?”

She shook her head. “Nope. I’m assuming Katie’s seen him more than I have actually. I met him for lunch in Edinburgh last week but there was no snogging involved considering he had a meeting and I had to meet my mum.”

“You had to—what?” I said, giving in to temptation and grabbing a cookie. “Your mum? You haven’t seen her for ages.”

“Yeah, she shot me an owl and wanted to go shopping.” Alicia shrugged. “It was a disaster anyway. She wanted me to buy a pink frilly number to wear for Lee, who she thought was Bastian because apparently my picture was in some magazine about Bastian—nightmare, I know—and I refused and we had a row. I know she loves me and all but I really can’t stand her.” She tried to smile but couldn’t manage it.

“Blimey,” said Angelina. “I just went camping. It flooded and I had to practically paddle my air mattress to safety, but other than that it was rather uneventful.”

“What about you, Janey?” said Katie, pouring milk into wine glasses for everyone. “You’ve been uncommonly quiet. What have you gotten up to lately? Shagged dear Oliver yet?”

I paused, unsure of exactly what to say. Should I put it delicately? Should I bash on him because of what he said during our row? He wasn’t their Captain anymore so they did not have to see him in meetings next year. He did get them into a box for the World Cup and he was their friend, but it was obviously me who mattered more because I was a closer friend, right?

In the end, I just sort of blurted it out (cookie crumbs and all).

“Oliver and I broke up.”

There were blank stares around the kitchen and Katie spilled a bit of milk onto the granite. I took my eyes away from them, concentrating on the gray fridge and the copper pots and pans above us. The back door had an interesting lace curtain on it I hadn’t noticed before. I had the sudden urge to just rush out of there and keep myself busy. I couldn’t, though, as their stares held me still.

“Are you serious?” whispered Angelina. “Like—for real, break up? Like, it’s over?”

“It’s done,” I replied.

“No, it can’t just be done.” Alicia dipped her cookie into milk. “You’ll fix it. It’ll pass. The two of you are perfect together.”

“Apparently not,” I said, my face growing hot. “We had a huge row. He’s an arse and we just don’t fit together and I want to knock him off his snooty Puddlemere broom.” I shrugged.

“Jane, I think you shouldn’t—”

“It’s over, ‘Licia. It’s done. I don’t want to be with him. I’m over him and I’m fine. Can we change the subject? Dad’s got himself a crafty Muggle girlfriend who sells ornaments and whatnot. She came around for dinner not too long ago.”

“Mr. Perry has a lady!” cheered Angelina, but I could tell it was fake. I didn’t care. I needed the fake.

I needed the fake to steer me away from the reality emptying out my insides.






A/N: Phew, take a deep breath after that! Long chapter!

First of all, I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone leaving reviews. I can't believe it. You just got me to over 400 reviews for this story and I am so appreciative and thankful I can't even begin to describe it. I was stuck on the middle of this chapter for a while but after reading a few reviews I just churned the whole rest of it out last night. So THANK YOU ALL! You're so amazing.

I really enjoyed this chapter. I'm not entirely sure why. Jane pulling a total 180 after her breakup was an interesting thing to write simply because it's so realistic for some people. Between that, Jane's new platonic relationship with Roger, learning more about Jane's mum, and confessing the breakup to her besties, this chap was filled to the brim with plottiness.

So I really hope you all enjoyed it! It was fun to write and I'll be onto the next chapter very soon. Favorite quotes? Predictions? What do you think of Jane's mum?


Chapter 13: A Bouquet of Break
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I knew they wanted to prod and figure out what happened between Oliver and me, but when I shoved my things into a bedroom and returned to the second floor lounge with the girls they said nothing. I sank into a large poufy gray sofa and stared around at the familiar space.

It was the largest lounge on that floor with three sofas and a TV even Fred and George couldn’t ignore. We spent most of our time in there when we were at Katie’s, something that was obvious once the hostess herself tossed our usual blankets over and spread out the sweets. Angelina leaned over the coffee table and scooped out some ice cream while Alicia bent upside down over another sofa.

“So shall the overused dramatic slumber party commence?” Katie said, laughing and casting a bit of a sideways glare in my direction. She was holding a box of nail polish. “What colors do you think, ladies? I’ll play spa owner today.”

“We really should go to a spa sometime,” Alicia said offhandedly, staring at the various colors. “Really, I have extra money this summer. Hmm, I think this pink looks nice.” It was a carnation pink with a shiny silver top. She unscrewed it and stuck her left hand out toward the table.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Katie replied as Angelina stared into the box. “I’ve wanted to go to a spa for the longest time. I’m sure George would recommend it since we’ve both been so stressed lately.”

Angelina bit her lip and picked a white to paint her tips. “I would be on board for that. What do you think, Jane? Spa sometime?”

“That sounds nice,” I said, not really involved in the conversation. “We all could use a spa day sometime.” Katie leaned over with the box and I stared at the pinks and blues and grays before me. I usually painted my nails a pristine pink, but I wasn’t feeling very pink at the moment. I felt more, pessimistic. I grabbed a dark purple, something not very Jane-esque, and opened it. Katie stared for a minute and then retreated to her spot across the room with her own bottle of shimmery red.

“So,” the hostess said in an obvious attempt to keep the mood light and upbeat, “I’ve been through at least thirty wedding magazines this week.”

“Find anything?” Angelina blew on her nails quickly. “I know you said something about a halter dress…are you going to go out looking soon?”

“I probably will after you lot leave in a week or so,” she replied tactfully. “I know what cut I want so I’ll probably go down to London with Mum. She’s been looking forward to this day forever…mother/daughter shopping for the wedding.”

I stopped painting my nails the dark purple for a few minutes to watch the grin on Katie’s face. I didn’t say anything, but it tugged at my stomach muscles so much it nearly made me nauseous. The thought of shopping for a wedding dress without my mother was something—well, I’d never thought of it before. Now I was.

So Katie was not only in a healthy, loving relationship where they didn’t scream and throw things at each other, but she also had the pleasure of going wedding dress shopping with her mother.

Well, la dee sodding da. Wasn’t she just the luckiest bleeding girl on the face of the planet?

I sighed. This was not Katie’s fault. Katie was happy and I should have been happy for her. Yes, I was very happy indeed for her perfect fucking life. Another sigh. Calm down. She didn’t kill my mum and she didn’t break Oliver and me up. What really did? Who knew?

I stared down at my nails. They looked horrible so I put another coat on. The dark purple clashed horrible with my outfit and skin tone, but not with my mood so I continued. I saw Alicia watching me out of the corner of her eye.

“We’d like to get married here of course,” Katie went on, the smile now transformed into a full-fledged beam. “We have such a large garden with all those flowers—pity for it to go to waste since I don’t have any siblings. I was thinking white chairs and white linens with punches of pink and green everywhere. I saw it in some pictures. What do you lot think?”

“Beautiful,” Angelina said. “Pink and green go so well together. It would look beautiful anywhere, but let’s face it, Kait, we’ve all been in your garden and it’s enormous. It’s perfect.”

Katie squealed. “I know it is! I’ve asked George about it and he tells me he’s indifferent so I suppose I’ll call the shot on that as well.”

“What does George want then?” Alicia asked, taking her eyes off me and focusing on her nail painting.

“Not really sure actually.” Katie wrinkled her nose and blotted off some paint. “He wants a wedding. He wants to marry me. I think he likes white for the linens. I’m not really sure. Oh, he said something about the men weren’t wearing pink ties. I remember that.”

“Is that really all?”

She nodded. “He just must not be a wedding sort of person.”

“He should still contribute so you don’t have to do everything,” Angelina added. “But he loves you and you can communicate well so it doesn’t matter at this point. Just mention it or something.”

Katie nodded again. “Good idea. I’ll mention it and see if he really does have any preferences. I think Molly does, but I don’t think she’s said anything because my parents have offered to pay for it.”

The girls shrugged. I said nothing. I watched Katie with envy and tried not to think about what Oliver would look like in a tux. I shouldn’t have cared what Oliver looked like, but he looked handsome and cheerful in my mind. That infuriated me. He was such a jerk, how dare he look dishy in my mind!




There was one candle lit in the room a few hours later and I managed not to talk about anything for that entire period of time. My nails were a shiny purple to contrast the other girls. We curled up on our respective couches and I used my arm as a pillow, staring at the flickering flame of the candle.

“So what now?” asked Alicia. “Any other slumber party details we can accomplish before I fall asleep?” She yawned.

“Yes, there is.” Angelina sat up in the darkness, a scowl on her pretty face. “Girl talk.”

“What sort?” Katie asked. “We can gossip about someone—you know, I just saw Mandy Brocklehurst the other day. She lives in London. I had no idea.”

“I’m not going to gossip,” said Ang. She stared at me and I knew where she was going. I was actually surprised it took her that long. “Jane, what happened?

The other two were silent. I licked my lips because they were chapped and I wanted to avoid it. I wanted to slip out of the room quietly and hide in the bathroom so I didn’t have to go over what happened. It was silly, of course. These girls were my best friends. I just felt unrelatable. They were all in such amazing relationships. I had been in a rubbish relationship.

“Just out with it,” said Alicia. “You’ve been keeping it in too long and whether or not you want to tell us we’re going to get it out of you. At least tell us what it was about.”

“He’s a bleeding jerk, that’s what it’s about,” I muttered, eyes cast down at the floor. I wanted to get up and walk around. To pace—do anything but sit there with their own eyes on me. “It’s not a big deal. We just had a big row about everything—I don’t even remember how it started. A bunch of shit was said. How I’m inconsiderate and selfish or something and, well, all that stuff from the Cup was never really resolved, you know?” I paused, waiting for them to cut me off but they didn’t. “It just didn’t work. He said some mean things. I said some mean things. I think I may have thrown something. Should have thrown the flowers.”

“Flowers?” Katie said.

I explained about the dates with other women and they gaped at me, thunderstruck. “Yeah. It’s just a big mess. We’re too different. Maybe someday we can be friends like Roger and me are.”

“You’re friends with Dodger again?” Alicia raised a brow.

“Yeah. We had lunch the other day. He cares about me, which is nice. He’s worried though, which I have no idea why. I’m obviously fine. I’m so fine I even cleaned my room and made eggs the other day.” I grinned.

Angelina snorted. “We all deal with breakups different ways,” she said. “You can be friends with Dodger because you didn’t have deep feelings for him.”

“And as for the cleaning,” Alicia cut in. “Jane, that doesn’t mean you’re fine. That means you’re so far from fine.”

“Look,” I said a little aggressively, “I’m okay. I’m here. I’m painting my nails. I’m listening to Katie talk about wedding stuff. I’m fine.” I stood up. “I have to use the loo quick—I’ll be right back.”

After I walked out of the door I didn’t go to the bathroom. Instead, I sank down beside it and pressed the back of my head to the wood. I didn’t want to be in there, hounded by them like prey. I just didn’t want to talk about it. I hadn’t even told Dad, but that might have been to protect Oliver’s blood. Why did I even want to protect his blood? I should have just told.

I suppose I just wanted the girls to understand I was not some broken female being tormented by a silly breakup. It was hardly a real relationship anyway. We just snogged and saw each other every so often.

“I have to,” I heard Angelina say through the door. “Obviously she’s not telling us everything that happened. I’m going to do it tomorrow.”

Raising a brow, I pressed my ear against the keyhole.

“Are you sure?” Katie asked quietly. “You might get more than you bargained for.”

“What, do you think Oliver won’t tell me? I know him better than that.” She paused. “Something bad happened. I’m going to figure out what it is. It’s obvious she’s in fits of denial about being okay. She’s so far from okay—purple nail polish? Jane hates purple. This is bad.”

I rolled my eyes. Angelina was always so overdramatic.




“I can’t believe it.”

“I know. It was just everything piling up from what I get out of it. Jane’s dad, that whole Dodger/Bridget mess, money, everything. God, those two must be impossible at communicating.”

“It can’t be over, can it?”

“From the looks of it, it seems over. Can’t be sure, though, especially with those two. They seem…I don’t know…perfect together.”

“How was he?”

“Cant’ tell. He has that poker face no one can call. His eyes were puffy though.”

“Should we wake her then?”

I was already awake since they chose outside of my bedroom to have the highly personal conversation about me. I rolled over and put a pillow over my head to make it seem as if I was sleeping soundly.

“Jane?” Katie stuck her head through the door and I heard it creek. “Are you awake?”

“Mmm?” I mumbled, lifting the pillow off and staring at the three girls. Angelina was fully dressed and even had shoes on. I did not question it.

“You awake?”

I shrugged into the sheets. “I suppose I should be considering you lot are making so much noise this early, eh?”

They didn’t reply.

“I’m bleeding up. Can I get dressed and meet you downstairs for breakfast?”

“We’ll be in the living room on the first floor,” said Katie. “I’m expecting a letter from George in the mail today.” She smiled and closed the door behind her.

I lugged myself out of bed, completely exhausted because I barely slept. I wasn’t even thinking about Oliver, I was just thinking. My body ached as I pulled on a pair of shorts and a tank. It was like a chore. Suddenly I wasn’t moving a thousand miles per hour, I was moving negative two thousand. I felt lethargic.

I pulled my hair up (something I hadn’t done in a while) and stared in the mirror. Blimey, I looked horrible. Like I hadn’t slept in weeks. I felt fine, though, besides the minor aches and fatigue. I was ready to move back out into the world and kick its arse.

The girls were exactly where Katie said. They had a spread of breakfast goods out on the living room table—bread and jam, croissants, eggs, bacon, and even pancakes. I grabbed some bread and spread strawberry jam over it before sinking into a plush chair by the television set. There were only a few in Katie’s massive house and this one was by far the biggest. She used to have none at all until she went to Alicia’s years ago and became addicted to the Quidditch Network. That was my kind of network.

But not for now. I was done with Quidditch for a while.

At the moment a cheesy soap opera was on with overacting and plots that went for days. I smiled, took a bite of my breakfast, and concentrated on who slept with whom and why someone had a baby without sleeping with anyone.

“You should invite Quidditch players to your wedding,” Alicia said offhandedly, cutting up pancakes. “They’re always so dishy.”

“I wouldn’t date anyone other than a Quidditch player,” said Ang. “No offense, of course, ‘Licia. I just fancy them.”

“None taken. As long as my boy knows about the game I’m satisfied.”

“No Henrik, then?” Katie smiled, brushing her sandy brown hair from her face.

“No Henrik,” she replied confidently. “I’m quite content with Lee. I wonder what he’s up to anyway.”

“Yeah, when are we inviting the boys, Katie?” Angelina asked.

My gut exploded again. The boys. Plural. There would be boys and those three would be sucking face with the three boys and holy Merlin I knew how it was to be Alicia. I stared hard at the television, trying to drown them out. It was no good. Not even Mrs. Sleeps-With-Her-Daughter’s-Fiance could keep my attention.

“I’m thinking for tomorrow. We keep the rest of the day for relaxation because they just muck everything up, you know?” Katie grinned.

Okay, she slept with her daughter’s fiancé. He tried to cover it up by pretending he had a baby pre-engagement—who was that lady? I had no idea. It was too complicated to hold my attention.

“I’m glad. I can’t wait to see Fred.” Angelina did a little cheer from her seat and I wanted to hit her.

But I was fine anyway. I could deal with it. I’d just get a new bloke—like bleeding who? Even Roger pointed out I knew no one else. Maybe I’d owl Flint and ask for a date.

There was a pecking at the window and Katie squealed before getting up and rushing over to pull open the window. “Here it is!” she cried, taking a stack of envelopes. “Got my letter from George.” She walked back toward her seat. “Eugh, also got a bill. I hate them, I’ll just give it to Mum. Here’s another wedding magazine I ordered. Oh! Quidditch Weekly came today! I love this—oh my god.”

“Is it the half-naked issue because that’s my favorite,” said Alicia. “Mind you if Bastian’s in there I don’t care to look at that page. But by all means give me the others.”

Katie stood, something obviously metaphorically lodged in her throat, and flipped a few pages in the magazine. I turned and raised a brow at her insanity. “I—well, okay.” Then she turned on heel and walked out of the room and into the kitchen. The door slammed.

“How strange,” I mumbled. “Are there naked men in Quidditch Weekly?” I chuckled at this.

“Ang!” Katie cried from the kitchen.

Angelina, visibly confused, stood slowly and walked into the kitchen. I heard her utter a loud “shit” over the commercials.

“Erm, Alicia can you come see this stain in here?” Ang called.

Alicia shot me a strange look before joining them and her expression of choice was a gasp.

Frustrated, I stood, tossed my bread onto the coffee table, and marched into the kitchen. I found the three of them huddled over the Quidditch Weekly with petrified expressions on their faces. None of them moved as I ripped the magazine from their hands, turned, and marched back into the living room.

“Jane, wait!” Alicia said, nearly tripping over herself to follow me. “Why don’t you just—well, don’t read it, okay?”

“No.” I smiled cheerfully and read the subtitles on the cover. I knew right when my eyes scanned the “Quidditch’s Most Eligible Bachelors” what the magazine held. Groaning, I flipped to the center of the book to see the list of the most eligible bachelors in Quidditch. There was a whole section of Quidditch Superstars like Bastian (Alicia looked away) and various dishy members of the Magpies, Tornadoes, Finches, etc. I stared for a few minutes because it was only right. After there was a section of moderately starred players and I flipped through them to get to the rookies. Oh, I knew what was coming, which was why my jaw was clenched tight and the girls hovered around me like flies.


Rookie Number Two: Oliver Wood (Puddlemere Keeper)

(there was a shirtless picture of Oliver under this, posing next to a broom with his abdomen flexed and dirt rubbed on his chest)

(This bloke is only second because he hasn’t played a game)

Thanks to his recent breakup, Puddlemere’s Oliver Wood is now on the market for any girl that thinks she is worthy to deal with this feisty masculine Keeper. Mr. Wood attended Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and graduated only last June. He secured the spot with Puddlemere after the Quidditch Final, where he Captained his team to not only a Cup but also offers from scouts for every single player.

Mr. Wood is the son of another Quidditch sensation out of the Finches and is very aggressive with what he believes in. He is the obvious desire of many women throughout the Quidditch world and has been seen on at least one date since his breakup. He has been highly sought after on the pitch with nearly thirty ladies showing up to ask him on dates the last couple days of practice. It has not been confirmed whether he accepted any offers.

Oliver Wood has a stomach a woman could eat off of and a thick Scottish drawl. He plays his opening game for Puddlemere in about a month and is expected to be one of the next stars of the game. Newly single has not proved to be a challenge for Mr. Wood and he is expected to do several more photoshoots in the next few weeks.

When asked what the most appealing thing is about Oliver Wood, close personal friend Bridget Lilion said, “Definitely his ability to see through people. It took him a little longer with that ex-girlfriend of his, but he is finally all right and has moved on.” Responding to a question about whether she would pursue Mr. Wood, Bridget added, “I have to hint things could go there between us. We have a certain chemistry when together.”

So watch out ladies—if you want to snatch up rookie star Oliver Wood strike fast! That and his cocky smile and ridiculous flying moves are why he is the number two rookie most eligible bachelor in Quidditch!

I stared at the article for a full minute. I glanced at the picture with his trademark smirk and at the words about our breakup and then Bridget. I stared at those words the longest, my cheeks heating up. I could feel my entire body shake and could no longer read the words.

“Jane, look, those tabloids are bollocks,” Alicia said quickly.

Still, I said nothing. Bridget had some nerve. We only broke up a couple of days ago, but Oliver had plenty of time to pose shirtless for Quidditch Bleeding Weekly to attract even more screaming girls for a rebound fuck or someone to dump his money problems onto. I tried to take a deep breath but it wouldn’t come. I just kept looking at the dirt they probably rubbed on his body before the shoot and the “…ability to see through people” and “a certain chemistry between us”. I didn’t care who Oliver was with. I didn’t want to know, but there was no way it could be Bridget.

I hoped.

Why did I even hope? I didn’t sodding care. If he wanted to sink that stupidly low and be with an obnoxious Quidditch daughter like her, who was I to stop him? Or care for that matter?

I became aware the pages were wrinkling in my hands. My knuckles were white just thinking about it—just thinking about him.

In one motion I stood and threw the book as hard as I could. It hit the window and collapsed to the floor in a mangled heap. I turned, managed one deep breath, and left the room, slamming the front door behind me and rushing out to the fountain.

The water was cold so I stuck my head in, holding my breath and letting myself cool down before whipping back and soaking my shirt. I took another breath. I needed to calm down. He could do what he wanted now. It wasn’t my business if Bridget was a bitch and felt the need to tell all of Quidditch Weekly readership that Oliver had to see through me in order to break up with me. Oh, what a stupid little—I had to calm down.
I let my fingers glide over the surface of the water and stared up at the house. Angelina was watching me from the living room window not even trying to be discreet. I was sure she was making sure I didn’t drown myself. Where was my carefree attitude from before? Just go on with my life and make eggs and keep busy and oh my Merlin it was all rubbish.

The whole thing was rubbish. I was just pushing it back, wasn’t I? I just took all the shit I felt and shoved it onto the backburner with the other stuff I didn’t care about. Bollocks, Roger was right. I wouldn’t break, though. I was too strong for that and I didn’t care enough about Oliver for that. No, he wouldn’t get me to surrender. No way.

“Jane?” Katie poked her head out the door. “Are you all right? Do you want me to burn the magazine because I will.”

I almost smiled. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be inside in a minute.”

Katie nodded her head and closed the door with a soft snap. I stared at it.

I had to get him out of my head. It was eating away at me—I could just picture stupid Bridget blushing and applying red lipstick as she told the report about her and Oliver’s so-called chemistry. If they had chemistry I was the Minister of Magic. Which I wasn’t, by the way. God, I could just fucking see the way she twirled her hair on one finger, probably watching Oliver doing his photoshoot. There were probably gaggles of girls all over the place, fawning over him. My god, it wasn’t like he was sent from heaven or anything. He wasn’t even that amazing. Well, his stomach was nice and his hair was really soft and his brown eyes were—BUT HE WASN’T SOME HOT MODEL OR ANYTHING.

I shook my head quickly, shooting water from my hair over the rest of my body. Quickly, I went back into the house, grabbed my wand, and dried myself. I breathed heavily and the girls watched me closely.

“What?” I said. “Should we talk about more wedding stuff? Who’s the Maid of Honor going to be anyway?”

Katie nearly choked. “The—well, I haven’t made that choice yet actually. I was thinking, well, I’m not really sure.”

I shrugged and sat back down. The magazine was gone from its crumpled place on the floor. “Just go with your gut, Katie. What do you girls think?”

Angelina made a face. “Well, all three of us have qualities that can be used for it.”

“Except it depends on whether you want it to be organized or fun or whatever,” Alicia said.

“What do you mean by that?” Ang cut in. “Am I supposed to be organized and you’re fun?”

“Well, Jane’s fun too.” Alicia smiled.

Angelina did not. “I’m fun too.”

“Yeah, okay.” She shrugged.

“Just because things are organized doesn’t mean they aren’t fun.”

Alicia nodded. “Yeah, of course. Planned croquet activities are a blast.”

“Oh, like I would plan croquet for a bachelorette party!” Ang snapped.

“Okay!” Katie cried, throwing her hands into the air. “Not now, okay? Can we just—can we not talk about that?”

“Seems like we’re not talking about a lot lately,” Angelina muttered.

“I just want to get things straight with George first, all right?” Katie looked flustered and her hair was sticking up a bit. “I’m going to owl the boys and invite them now. They’ll be here tomorrow and George and I can talk more wedding stuff.”

“Will he even want to?” Alicia said carefully.

“Hell if I know.” Katie turned and left the room and we all stared after her since it was rare to hear Katie said anything remotely offensive.

“That was productive,” Angelina said. “Jane, will you just please spit out what’s sodding wrong with you already? How are we supposed to be supportive if we don’t even know what happened?”

“Don’t know what the fuck happened?” I had no idea how my voice got that loud. “What do you mean you don’t know? Wood told you nothing when you knocked on his door this morning, eh? I find that hard to believe. Why should I believe anything, really? I should just go be best mates with Bridget and ask her all about their fucking chemistry!” I was angry again, the blood rising to my temples and out of the corner of my eye I saw Katie re-enter the room. “Why wouldn’t they have chemistry? She’s tall and leggy with her red dress and her boobs—oh, he got a big ol’ eyeful of those at the Cup, didn’t he? Well he gets to look some more—leggy, she is. And what the fuck happened to me?” I was standing again, pacing back and forth in front of the window.

“I used to be leggy, you know?” I stared down at the legs poking out of my shorts. They looked long to me. “All those comments—short skirts, dresses. I was the one with the attention. It was me. But not anymore—not like I want it, not from him. He can give all his googly-eyed attention to that blond piece of work. Clearly she’s a prostitute, I mean seriously.” They looked at me like they thought Bridget was probably not a prostitute. “I tried to be a decent girlfriend—that’s all I wanted to do. You lot are lucky! You got to see your boyfriends during the school year even for a bit. You got to see them daily and have lunch out by the lake or snog or whatever you were doing—I didn’t. So finally we’re launched into this summer, right? I’m in this relationship with this bloke I’ve hated for years and then I can’t even see him—then his parents think I’m riffraff and he doesn’t have money but he takes it out on me and I make him toast and bloody FUCK!” My chest was rising and falling so rapidly I could barely breathe and I grabbed onto the windowsill. “Did you know I unpacked his flat when he went to practice? He showed up at my door one night soaked and we slept on the sofa and guess what? Dad actually liked him, stupid prat. Dad should have seen right through him—I’m inconsiderate, am I?”

“Who’s the one going on dates with Quidditch daughters with all this money and fame that mummy just fucking LOVES to death? Not me! I wasn’t late to any dates and—oh, sorry, Jane, I forgot we were supposed to have dinner. Why don’t I just round you up some tuna? Do you even like tuna? NO? Oh, all right—why don’t you just eat the dustbunnies under the sofa?” My grip on the sill grew tighter and my arm started to shake. “He took me on a date, did you know that? We went on a date to Hogsmeade and it was stupid and formal (talking about forks and all that) and then we left and went to the Quidditch pitch.” I choked a bit. “Went to the Quidditch pitch and sat and ate our food and talked. He snogged me under the mistletoe after Roger broke up with me. We got drunk in the Astronomy Tower with red wine and he made me brownies and my fucking GOD I thought I was falling in love with him!” My back fell against the sill and I sank down to the hardwood, tears falling from my eyes and my head stung.

Someone sat down beside me. “You know what? I thought he loved me. I think he almost said it once—that he loved me. On the train. And the way he looked at me—that pompous fucking smirk and the way he looked at me. I think I might have loved him.” I choked out a loud sob, pulling my knees to my chest and closing my eyes so tight they hurt. “I think I loved Oliver. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I’ve been living in this stupid dream world for the last few days—good riddance, that’s what I said. He’s a jerk and I know it and I might have loved him and—fuck. What do I do? Make eggs.”

I realized it was Alicia when she wiped a few tears from my cheeks.

“And now he’s moved on, just stripping off his clothes and dating and being a sodding PRAT! It’s so good to know I really meant that much to him. It’s very good to know. I hope he CHOKES on all the WINE he has.” I wiped some more tears and realized I was nearly hyperventilating. Alicia grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

When the tears stopped clouding my vision as much I saw Katie at my feet and Angelina on my other side. Alicia squeezed again.

I cried for a long time and Katie lit a candle in the living room and painted my toenails a fresh spring pink.






A/N: I do love being a TA during the queue closure. So you all get your fix of H&S! I finished this chapter really fast after the other one but the edits took me a while and I'm sure you can tell why, haha. Jane finally broke. It is about time. Really sorry for the downer chapter. There weren't really fun, exciting moments in this one but Jane is going through a hard time.

But the boys are back in the next chapter so look forward to that!

So please let me know what you think of what Jane finally managed to spill to her besties. She does keep a lot bottled up. Do any of you do that? I do it frequently. Only-child syndrom haha. Also, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been reviewing. With this chapter I could be to 500 reviews and I can't BELIEVE it. You guys are completely amazing and your reviews make me want to write this story all the time!

Thank you! The next chap will be out in around a week, promise!

ps. What do you think about Katie in the chap image?

EDIT: If you leave a review please keep it 12+. I have recently had a few get deleted and it breaks my heart because you all work so hard on them and they really inspire me. 


Chapter 14: Measuring Tape Needed
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For Kristina: Read, Review, go to Hawaii!





I was exhausted the next morning, but my head felt lighter and my body was a little more energized than it was before. We stayed up horribly late with me sobbing needlessly onto Alicia’s shoulder, but I did feel like myself again. I stretched and got dressed, staring out over Katie’s ridiculously huge garden. She was out there under a gazebo having tea with Angelina.

Ah, I thought as I pulled a sweatshirt over my head to combat the cool morning air, this was what it was supposed to be like. I could relax in the country and not have to worry about anything. I felt refreshed and in the mood to move on with my life and forget all about Oliver Wood. He was a good chapter for a bit and we had our fun, but now it was over and he graduated and I didn’t have to see him again unless I wanted to.

Which, right now, I did not.

I needed to have fun with my friends and their boyfriends (also my friends) and start a new chapter with my life, starting with flicking my wand to clean up my dirty clothes and letting my hair down around my shoulders. Looking cute was something I hadn’t done in the past couple days. It was time to move on and if I met a cute boy in the process it was a bonus. If not, I had my friends and my Dad and hell, even Lou Beckett.

“Jane!” Angelina said, waving me over from the gazebo. “Did you sleep okay?”

“Yeah. Great actually.” I slid down beside her and helped myself to some tea and a croissant. “I still don’t know where you got that bed, Katie. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m sleeping on air.”

“Sure you’re not just hovering yourself in your sleep?” Ang asked. “It’s like sleep walking but with a hover charm.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure I’m sleeping on the bed,” I replied, taking a bit of my breakfast. “Where’s Alicia anyway?”

“She went in to grab the mail a few minutes ago. The boys will be here in a little bit. That’s okay with you, isn’t it, Jane?”

“Don’t be stupid, of course it’s okay,” I said roughly. “We’re all friends no matter who is snogging whom.”

Katie beamed. “Good. I can’t wait. We can’t let one little mishap get in the way of a great time here, right?”

“Too right you are!” I cheered, finally feeling as cheery as I looked. It was nice to be elated and to be free of the annoying burden. I knew it was still in there, just a sliver of it, but that was how it was supposed to be. “So they’re getting here soon? I can’t wait to tell Fred my dad got a girlfriend. He’s been saying he needed one for the longest time.”

Angelina smiled and turned as Alicia rushed through the garden and out to where we sat. “He’ll be happy to hear about that I’m sure. You’ll have to tell him later since I plan to have my lips stuck to his when he gets here.”

“No surprises there,” muttered Alicia. “You stole my seat, Janey.” She chuckled and sat on the other side of Katie. “No good mail. Just a note from Lee saying they’d be here around three—whoa, didn’t see this.” She flipped a gold envelope over in her hands. “It’s to me, Katie, and Ang.”

“And I’m left out again,” I said, laughing. “What is it? Notice of my eviction from the country?”

“It’s a letter,” Alicia said tactfully, opening it and scanning the script. “Wow. It’s from Dodger.”

“No way!” I cried, jumping up and lunging for it. Alicia held it away. “What does it say? Does it call me a nut case because I wouldn’t be surprised it if did. Actually, I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”

“No mention of nut cases,” Angelina said, reading over Alicia’s shoulder. “Ha, there it is.”

“There what is?” I pleaded, trying to squint my eyes to see the looping letters. “What’s it say?”

“It’s just a letter telling us to look after you until you lost it,” Alicia said. “Which you did last night so everything is fine. Do you want us to write him back telling him you sobbed for hours straight or would you rather do it?”

“Bugger off,” I muttered. “I’ll write the nosy sod back.”

“He cares about you,” Katie said.

“I know, which is why I won’t stay mad at him. I’ll just call him a few names in the letter and get on with my life.” I grinned and helped myself to Angelina’s croissant. “What is the plan until the boys get here?”

Katie looked at herself and groaned in a whiny sort of way. “I’m so pale.”

“So you want to lay out?” Alicia said, rolling her eyes strategically. “You can just say that, you know?”

“I want to lay out.” Katie beamed and finished her cup of tea. “I have some organic towels in the back foyer we can get. The pond was just cleaned two days ago so it should be nice in case we want to swim.”

“Why does everyone have a pond?” I wondered out loud. “Alicia does, you do. I don’t have a pond.”

“You live in London, Jane,” Angelina said. “You get to live in all the excitement and craziness.”

“With Wood,” I muttered.

“With everyone!” she countered. “I get to have that house in Wales without a pond. Maybe I could phone Mum about putting in a pond.”

“Do that,” I replied, watching Katie rush back to her house for the towels. “I’ll ask Dad for a large fishbowl and put a miniature kayak in there or something.”

“You’re a good sport, Jane.” Alicia chuckled and placed her empty cup onto a tray just as the cook came out to collect the breakfast things. “Hi there, Thelma.”

Thelma nodded toward us. She was a tall quiet woman with graying hair and lines on her face. Usually she refrained from conversation, but last summer we managed to slip her a few drinks and she spilled all about her previous love affairs and happy vacations on the Mediterranean.

“Good morning, girls. Did you sleep well?” she asked.

“Not too shabby,” Alicia replied. “I’m a bit sick of the country, though. I think we should all go bunk at Jane’s in London.”

“And sleep on my floor?” I asked, gaping at her. “Sure, that would be fun and you’d wake up with back problems and a fish bowl on your head.”

“Let me know if you need anything. Kait’s told me you’re going to lie out. Lemonade then?”

Angelina cheered. “With ice, please. That sounds lovely.”

“Thanks, Thelma,” I said, placing my napkin on the very top of the pile and she made her way back down the garden path toward the house. “I need a cook. Dad’s good but we never really cook. Well, he did when Lou came around for dinner.”

“How are they anyway? Do you hate her?”

“I did at first,” I said slowly. “But I think I was more mad at the situation. It’s hard since she’s a Muggle though. I’m sorry to say I know very little about her. I’ll find out more when I go home. I’ll write back about it.”

“You’d better. I want to know what kind of woman Mr. Perry snagged,” Angelina said. “She better be nice. Blimey, what if she’s some crazy step mother that wants to send you off to America like Lindsey Winters’ step mum did?”

I made a face. Lindsey was our fifth roommate our first year. By the time we were in our third year she left half-way through because her father remarried and they wanted her to go to an American boarding school for magic instead of Hogwarts. Apparently tuition was thousands of Galleons a year and we never heard from her again though she sent us a Christmas card a year later of her dressed in a wonky uniform with a beret.

“Since I’m graduating this year I reckon I’ll be okay,” I said, though I wasn’t entirely convinced. I spotted Katie coming and she stopped briefly to smell a lily. “I get the orange one.” It reminded me of the Chudley Canons figurines. I shook my head. No, it would remind me of the center of a lovely flower.





I felt like the sun was cooking my skin, which was nice compared to the silly glum mood I was in the last few days. I opened one eye and saw the other girls peacefully basking in the sun beside Katie’s large pond and I scooted down a bit on my towel. I wore my practically new red polka-dot swimsuit (the one I bought for Oliver a while ago that he would never see but I figured I might as well get some use out of the thing, it was cute) and stretched my toes toward the water.

“I like this,” Alicia said suddenly, stifling a yawn. “It’s just peaceful.”

“I agree,” Katie added. “With our lives things are rarely peaceful.” She paused for a moment and took in a deep breath. “So Jane, how are you?”

“I’m really good actually.” I said this with a confident smile against the sun. “I think I’m ready to move on with my life, you know?”

“I think that’s a great idea.”

“And who knows? Maybe I’ll just hex Elizabeth and date Ellis already.”

“What a wonderful couple,” Alicia said and the girls laughed. “Some serious Seeker on Seeker action. You’ll find someone else, Jane, and if you don’t you’ll be one of the hottest singles at Hogwarts, especially with those legs of yours.”

I allowed myself a smile. “I think I’m cooking. Like a roast. Eff, I’m roasting myself.”

“You’d taste lovely, Jane,” Ang said offhandedly. “Just a bit longer, though, I’m afraid there will still be blood.”

“Angelina bleeding Johnson!”

My head jerked up and the blood rush made me a little dizzy.

“Put some clothes on, I can’t have my engaged brother seeing you looking like you do! C’mere and gimme a snog, woman, you look sodding amazing!” Fred stretched out his arms from the path. He stood there in shorts showing off his pale legs and his hair was a little longer and lighter than before.

George was beside him, laughing, and Lee was bringing up the rear with a few flowers for Alicia (I assumed he picked them from Katie’s garden).

Angelina leapt up and nearly flew off her towel to Fred. They collided and Fred’s hand made contact with her rear end a few times before she slapped it away. He seemed a big fan of her white bikini.

“Hey there,” George said, all smiles, and he took a seat beside Katie on her towel. “Is this what we’re doing today? Honestly, I was thinking something relatively fun.”

“If I can sit here and just stare I’ll be okay,” Lee said with a chuckle, handing Alicia her flowers. He sat on a nearby tree stump and chuckled. “Blimey, I love summer.”

“Keep your eyes in your head,” Alicia said.

“I’m going to throw you in the pond if you tell me not to stare.” Lee chuckled and pushed her lightly with his foot. She swatted at him. “Janey, how ya been? You look—well, blimey, you look good, don’t ya?”

Fred poked at me with his fingers and I opened my eyes again. “When did you get that bathing suit, Janey? I’m in a relationship, you know. You can’t just expect me to hit on you. I might, though, get a few drinks in me.”

I smiled. “Thanks, boys, but you don’t have to say that.”

“Who’s saying what? If you looked like shit we’d tell you that too,” Fred replied.

It was true. After I failed my first Hogwarts test I cried for two days and they were keen to point out how puffy my eyes were and how shitty I really did look.

“True,” I mumbled. “Thank you then. I feel a lot better today.”

“Bugger about Wood,” Lee said. “We saw him yesterday.”

“Lee,” hissed Fred. “Shut your bleeding yap.”

I leaned up on my elbows. “You saw him? Why?”

“Ran into his arse in London,” he said, throwing an apologizing look to Fred. “Told us what happened. Sorry, love. You look a lot better than he did, that’s for sure.”

“Good,” I muttered. “Did he say anything else?”

“He was on his way to some interview. He was peeved about it, wasn’t he, Fred? Kept saying how much he hated all this publicity. That’s what he gets for being a good-looking Quidditch player, isn’t it? Alicia will probably be getting lots of attention when she’s a professional player, won’t you?”

Alicia beamed. “Of course I will. I’ll be so good looking I’ll be the most eligible bachelorette and bachelor.”

“Sure, love,” Lee said with a laugh. He continued about his likeliness to be in a magazine, posing nude or something, and Fred joined in, acting posing now.

I stretched out on the towel and smiled, listening to my friends. Now, this was life. No troubles unless I created them and a perfect amount of fun. I missed Hogwarts for this, but I had it for the time being and that was all I needed. I needed my friends and some humor and another chapter of my life.

Chapter one: join Fred and throw Angelina into the pond.

In that chapter: Angelina screamed like a first year and threw water lilies at him.

Later that chapter: Fred ended up waterlogged because of his shorts but caught Angelina and snogged her anyway.

End of the chapter: I did a cannonball off the dock just to splash Katie, who was intent on not getting wet.

I lugged myself out of the pond a few hours after the boys arrived, soaked and laughing. Fred was doing impressions of Professor McGonagall chewing him out for something and George tackled him by the legs back into the water. Grabbing the towel, I peered back over my shoulder at my friends.

“I reckon we should just cut them off,” Lee was saying as he shook his head hard to get the water off.

“I think so too. If I can’t have them no one can,” Fred agreed, stealing Angelina’s towel to dry off. She shoved him and took it back.

“Have what?” Alicia asked. “Did you not have any lemonade when Thelma brought it out? I thought there were enough glasses.”

“I don’t care about lemonade,” said Fred, clearly scandalized. “I was taking about Jane’s legs. Blimey, have they gotten longer. I think they have. Katie, do you have measuring tape up at the house?” He leaned down and stared at my newly tan legs.

Angelina grabbed him by the collar. “Jane, could you wear pants the rest of the week please?”

“Did you say a skirt and heels?” I asked, chuckling. “Of course, Ang.”

Drool could have been coming out of Fred’s mouth.

“Dressed for dinner then, Katie?” Alicia asked, grabbing Lee by the ear.

“Yeah. I think we’ll have dinner out under the gazebo. I think the dining room is much too fancy for us and our food-throwing tendencies.” She pulled open the screen door to the kitchen and waved to Thelma. “Smells lovely! What is it?”

“It’s a surprise, dear. Go on and get cleaned up. Dinner will be on in about an hour.”

I always loved Katie’s house because it made me seem proper and wealthy. Sure, I wasn’t poor thanks to Dad and his ability to afford a London flat, but I would never have an enormous country home with a gazebo and a cook and a dining room with twelve-foot ceilings. We even had to get dressed up for dinner, something I hadn’t done in years unless I was still in my pajamas from that morning.

I closed the door to my present bedroom and flipped on a light with my wand. I ruffled through the wardrobe and found a pretty green dress with embroidered beige flowers which matched my shoes. It was nice, feeling pretty again. I knew even though the boys were taken they would notice. I enjoyed that.

I raided my makeup bag and brushed a bit of blush over my cheeks and added mascara and glittery gold to my eyes. I felt fresh, messing up my hair a bit in the mirror.

With plenty of time to spare, I snatched a quill and some parchment and positioned myself at the desk so conveniently in the bedroom. What a room this was!


Daddy,

I hope you’re well. The weather is beautiful here and I feel much better than I did when I left. I have a few things to tell you when I get back. Sorry I’ve been acting so crap lately. I’m good now, though. I hope Lou is enjoying herself. I look forward to getting reacquainted with her as long as she doesn’t want to talk football. I’ll have to do research if she does. I hate research.

Katie’s house is as lovely as ever. The boys just arrived this morning and we spent most of the day tanning and screwing around in the pond. Why can’t we have a pond? I’m thinking at least a fish bowl. You’d have to take care of it though. Let’s name the fish Waffle. What do you think?

Be sure to write back while I’m here!

Love always,

Jane


I bit the quill thoughtfully and then regretted it because it wasn’t a sugar quill. There was time enough for another letter.

Roger,

You’re a prat, you know that? Telling the girls to look after me. For your nosy information I did end up breaking—yesterday morning actually. It was a horribly dramatic affair with tears and a magazine crumpled on the other side of the room. It was very unlike me, but I knew you were right. What was I thinking, making eggs? Thanks, Roger.

It was the article in Quidditch Weekly that did it, if you want to know.

I feel much better today. I’m not sure if I should tell you or not. Are we that good of friends? I’d like to think we are. Anyway, I feel good. We did some swimming and the boys (Fred, George, and Lee) are here and we’re having a great time. It’s like I’m back to being Jane—feisty, gorgeously attractive (don’t you deny it, Dodger) Jane.

Thanks for looking out for me. I’ll definitely keep you posted while I’m here!

With love,

Jane


Perfect. I even felt like a formal, letter-writing girl of the nineteenth century. I should start using ridiculously big words and curtsey and not sit beside my significant other at dinner. What a sight I would be!

I tried to curtsey in front of the mirror. I nearly fell and decided I should leave the nineteenth century alone and live in the present.

I wondered for a few minutes about that Quidditch Weekly. Blake Eviart out of the Wigtown Wanderers definitely shouldn’t have had the number one rookie spot. Even though I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, Oliver Wood was hotter.





The gazebo was lit with little fairy lights around the top and a large candle centerpiece in the shape of a tree. I arrived with Angelina and Fred and watched him squeeze her tush lightly before they sat.

“Nice dress,” he said, laughing as we sat down. I gave him a thumbs-up for noticing. “Where are the—oh, there’s Lee and Leesh. You’d think the hostess would be out here first—look! I love this dip. Artichoke dip. Delicious. Ang, try this.” He dipped several chips into it and stuffed his face. Oh, so like Fred.

Lee and Alicia joined us moments later. Alicia sported a flower tucked into her hair and a smile on her face. Seeing her happy suddenly made me a little more elated. I had such wonderful friends.

“Just drop it,” I heard Katie say, walking outside in a pretty white summer dress. Her hair was slicked back in an elegant bun and George was beside her in a beige blazer and some sort of loafers. “Let’s just have dinner and we’ll talk about it later.”

“Do we have to?” He was grinning, but Katie did not. “Oh, come on, love. We’ll talk about it later then.”

“Ah, lovebirds!” Fred chimed with a mouthful of artichoke dip. “Try this dip, Georgie. This stuff is great.”

“Thanks.” George took a few chips onto his plate, but did not try to dip. He kept casting sideways glances at Katie.

“Everything okay?” I said carefully.

“Just stress is all,” Katie said happily, masking it quite well. “We just have to make some choices is all.”

“About the wedding?”

“Yes. But they’re simple choices and we can wait for my mum to get back anyway so let’s just have a lovely dinner.” She beamed as Thelma came out magicking several platters in front of her.

I stared down at the roasted pork and potatoes and soup with a strange chive arrangement on top and grinned. Real, delicious, probably expensive food. I loved Katie’s house.




My favorite part about Katie’s house was the balcony on the third floor off the landing. It was a large wooden deck with a series of wicker furniture and rails just big enough to slide my legs through and let them dangle down toward the grass. It was only sprinkling so I took a seat under a large golf umbrella, Ang at my side, and we stared out over the enormous garden illuminated by tiny rock lights.

“I had fun today,” she breathed, leaning her head against one of the rails. “It was nice just to let loose and get along again. We’ve had far too many things happening lately with that Bastian business and the Cup and you and Oliver.”

“I agree. I had a great time. I feel like me again, which is always nice.” I adjusted the umbrella in my hand. “I just need to find a new boy to fight with.”

“You will. No Dodger then?”

I snorted. “No Dodger. Ever. We’re friends, but I don’t think I could really fancy him anymore. But he’s a good guy.”

Angelina grinned. “I’m glad.” She paused and we listened to the tiny pats of rain on the fabric above us. “Can I ask you something, Jane?”

“Sure.”

“Did you and Oliver ever have sex?”

I nearly choked. “Did we—what? Why?

“I was just wondering. You know, since I told you when Fred and I did I realized I never asked you. Well, recently anyway. We always hound Katie about her and George.”

I stared out at a patch of dark purple flowers, biting my lip. “No. We didn’t. He talked about it a good deal because he’s a pervy bloke, but we didn’t. Nah. I was kind of scared about it. Glad we never did.” I laughed nervously.

“Do you think that could have saved it?”

“My relationship? Are you mad?” I said, gaping at her. “I don’t think so. I don’t think anything could have saved it.”

“Don’t be daft, of course a few things could have saved it.”

“Like what?” I asked, a little more aggressively than I probably should have.

“Like communication, Jane.”

I didn’t reply. Instead, I stared straight ahead into the flowers for several minutes until Angelina stood up and went inside. I stayed, still listening to the droplets which were now coming down harder, and thought about what she said. I wondered if the lack of physicality in my relationship was a toll on our interaction. I wondered if I was even ready for something like that—of course not. I wondered if he knew that.

I certainly didn’t tell him.



A/N: And another chapter bites the dust. The boys are back! I don't really know what to write in this author note. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed. It means so much to me and I wrote 2 whole chapters in one night because of the amazing reviews. Yay! Just doing edits now and the next should be up in a week or so.

I have now updated 3 times since the queue stopped. Yay TA status!

So what is everyone else doing without the queue? Also, leggie comments returned in this chapter, I hope you all enjoyed them: favorite quotes? Fred lines? Favorite chip dip?

Next Chapter: napkins.


Chapter 15: No Reasons for Restless Napkins
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Present for you, for my 21st birthday :)
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The rain let up early the next morning, something the twins were particularly excited about because that meant the pick-up game of Quidditch they planned could be held. Fred talked about it all through breakfast while the rest of us yawned in the living room and I could tell he was planning on being a team Captain. He could do what he wanted as long as I didn’t have to be a Keeper.

“How do you talk that fast this early?” Angelina whined, leaning over and putting her head against his lap. “Be quiet, I’m sleeping.”

He ruffled her hair. “Wake up, love. I’m going to pick you to be on my team.”

“We’ll flip a coin for first pick,” George said. “You can’t just pick your woman. That’s favoritism. You in, love?”

Katie smiled. “Of course. I love Quidditch; it’s been far too long.” She changed the channel and there was a creaking noise from behind us. “That’s the door. I wonder if Thelma picked up the bacon for tomorrow.” She stood up and peered around the corner toward the foyer. “Oh my—Mummy! You’re home early!”

The rest of us scrambled to our feet (Fred quickly tried to clean up the spilled crumbs from his toast) and rushed into the other room where Mrs. Bell put her umbrella in an iron stand and her coat into the closet. She was just as slender as Katie with the same long brown hair and pretty eyes. She threw her arms around her daughter.

“I thought I’d surprise you,” she said. “Hey girls—Fred, George, Lee. How are you all?”

“Tired,” admitted Alicia. “How was your trip to Appleby? The team getting any better?”

“Actually, yes, thank goodness. After we sacked the coach things got loads better so we are pretty sure we’ll at least make the playoffs with our first round draft pick.” Mrs. Bell smiled. “Have you had breakfast?”

“Yeah, Thelma brought us in the works.” Katie beamed, still attached to her mothers’ side.

Something tugged at my insides and I ignored it.

“Good to hear. What are the plans for the rest of the day then? Swimming? Cooking lessons? Television? Helping frail old Mrs. Bell clean out the attic?”

Katie snorted. “If you’re frail I won the World Cup,” she said with a laugh. “Actually they’re planning on playing some pickup Quidditch on the back lawn. I thought maybe you and I could look through some things.” She beamed.

“Of course, dear. I’m going to go change out of my travel clothes, though, I smell like tourist.” Mrs. Bell smiled and whisked herself up the giant staircase toward the master suite on the third floor.

“So you’re not playing?” George asked.

“Nah, now you lot will have even teams. I’m going to spend some time with Mum since she just got home and go over plans and whatnot.” Katie beamed. “But you’ll only be out there for a bit anyway. Then we can talk.”

George tried a smile. “Yeah. C’mon then, let’s go play some Quidditch!”





George ended up able to pick first and he picked Angelina (which sent Fred over the edge. “She’s the best and she’s mine,” he cried and Alicia punched him because she was convinced she was the best). So then Fred picked Alicia to spite him and I went to George and Lee went to Fred.

I couldn’t believe how much being back on a broom made me feel nauseous. It might have been because I wasn’t used to it, but it also could have been because the last time I was on a broom I fell off into a certain prat’s arms. That had nothing to do with it of course. Though I wobbled I was happy to report I did a lot better. George was the Keeper so Ang and I got to pass the Quaffle.

Alicia grabbed it from me a few times, though I punched her in the head the third time, and I even scored two goals past Fred. We played for so long I even broke a sweat.

“Don’t you even think about it!” Fred cried, saving one of Angelina’s goals. The pair of them were pinned against each other and I think they quite liked it.

“Oh, I’m thinking about it.” She stole the Quaffle from Lee and scored. Fred swore loudly.

“What’s the score now?” Alicia said, panting from her broom. “It has to be in the hundreds.”

“It’s two hundred sixty-five to two hundred eighty,” Lee said. “I’m so used to keeping score. That’s why I can’t play, I’m too busy counting. Oy, give that back!” Angelina stole the Quaffle from him again and passed it to me. I scored on a disgruntled Fred, which allowed me a cheer.

“Are you CRAZY?!”

I nearly fell off my broom. Katie stood down below us with her hands on her hips and her eyes fiery and un-Katie-like. I immediately looked to George (Alicia scored against him in this moment).

“Hi there, love. Want to join?” he asked cheerfully.

“George, you lot have been playing for hours. Now Mum had to leave to go to a meeting and we can’t discuss the stuff we need to and that is so inconsiderate of you.” Her hair was even sticking up a bit.

“Sorry, Kait, I didn’t realize your mum would leave again.”

“I told you to come back in a bit,” she said, obviously frustrated. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you just didn’t even care!” With that she turned on heel and stormed back toward the house.

“Love you, dear!” George called after her.

I floated toward the ground. “Just…just keep playing without me. I think it’s best if you don’t go back up there right away. I’m going to calm her down a bit. She’s…well, she’s on edge.” I placed my broom by a bench and started after her. “And George? Could you please start caring? She’s going to lose it if you don’t.”

He sighed and got hit in the head with the Quaffle from Lee.

“Katie!” I cried, rushing through the screen door and through the kitchen. I found her in the living room violently going through bridal magazines. “Hey, are you okay?”

“I don’t think I am.” She stopped on a page with a poufy princess dress.

“Just don’t think about it for now. Do you like that dress?”

Katie stretched her legs out on the floor and nodded. “I like the ones that make me feel like a huge bleeding princess, you know? Like this is my day and I’m special and everyone needs to know.”

I grinned. “I think it would look gorgeous on you. But wow.” She turned the page and I put my finger there. “This one is stunning.” It was a simple silky gown with no poof and form-fit to the figure. “Katie, that would look amazing on you.”

“I’ll have to try it, though less like a princess.” She managed a smile.

“He loves you, Katie,” I whispered. “He loves you a lot.”

“I know,” she replied. “I guess that’s the first step, isn’t it? Understanding what is important to the other person.”

“It goes both ways.” I raised a brow, but then bit my lip. That sounded oddly familiar.

Katie continued to flip through her magazine, commenting on a few of the dresses and how much she liked them. I pointed out invitation ideas and she told me about how she loved the script in a certain red one.

A little while later Angelina and Alicia joined us, dirty from rolling around in the grass apparently. “The boys are still outside. I think Lee said something about Ang so they decided to throw him in the pond, but who knows?” Alicia commented and grabbed a magazine. “These are all lovely.”

“Let’s stop thinking about weddings for a while,” Angelina said confidently and the rest of us smiled. It sounded like a good idea. She flipped on the television, passing my familiar soap opera and the weather for our part of the country. An in-depth behind the scenes spotlight on the Harpies was on, which obviously overjoyed me so I parked my rear in front of the television just as the boys returned to the living room.

George put an arm around Katie. She put her head on his shoulder.

It was so interesting watching the way an all-female team worked. The lockers were painted a wonderful pink color and the Seeker introduced her children.

“Aw,” I said, watching the credits. “We caught it at the end. I hate doing that with shows.” I leaned back onto my palms and Alicia nodded. I finally felt decent and Katie looked as if she was fine again.

“Next on the Quidditch Network,” the announcer said and the credits began to scroll fast. A pocket picture opened up to the side and my heart stopped. “Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with one of Quidditch Weekly’s most eligible rookies, Puddlemere Keeper Oliver Wood on Puddlmere Weekly.”

I stood up, threw one of Katie’s bridal magazines at the wall, and marched upstairs, slamming my door behind me.






Dear Roger,

I’m still feeling a lot better. I managed to play Quidditch today without thinking about Wood at all (okay, a little bit) but then I saw him on the Quidditch Network and I just lost it. Threw something against the wall and then went upstairs and ruined one of Katie’s poor pillows by chucking it at the bedpost. Feathers went everywhere.

I feel better though. I realize he’s a popular, handsome Quidditch star. I just have to get used to the fact that I might see him more than I want to (which is never actually). It’s night time now and I’ve been up here for ages. I think the girls are wondering whether or not I’ve offed myself in the bathroom. Katie is loving these wedding plans, I’m very excited for her. I’ll probably go down to the lounge and see if anyone is still awake.

Thanks again for listening, Roger.

With love,

Jane

The lounge was wasn’t empty when I arrived and I flopped down on my regular sofa, staring at Angelina, Alicia, and Katie. They glanced over.

“Hey there,” Ang said. “Done killing things and pretending they’re Oliver?”

“I actually wrote a letter to Roger,” I said cheerfully. “I’m just not used to seeing him is all. I had to—well, I didn’t want to think about him and Bridget.”

“I’ll bet my left hand he’s not with Bridget,” muttered Alicia. “The boy is arrogant, but he’s not stupid.”

“Don’t think about it, Jane,” Katie said carefully. She had a spread of wedding magazines all over the coffee table and a smile on her face. “George said he liked beige for the linens by the way. And he agreed on the pink with the punches of green.”

“Good to hear,” I replied, grabbing a blanket. “So what are we doing now?”

“Not much,” Ang said. “We’re just watching Katie talk about which dresses she lovesand which she hates and what invitations are simply too formal.” She put on a high-pitched voice at the end.

“I’m not that bad,” Katie said. “I’m just thinking out loud. Jane, what do you think about this one?”

I stared at a lacy dress with strange trim and a weird neckline. “It’s horrible.”

“Okay. Good. Just making sure you can be trusted with an opinion.” Katie beamed and continued through the magazine. “What about this one?”

“I’m feeling a bit more pressured now,” I said, glancing down at the poufy dress. It had big sleeves. “I hate it. Please don’t wear it.”

“And you passed the test,” she said.

I turned to the others. “Has she been doing this to you?”

“Seven times to me,” Alicia said darkly. “Woman should just pick one and stick with it.”

“I can’t pick!” whined Katie. “That’s why I need your help. I can’t chose between these dresses, they’re all so lovely.”

“How about you start to pick when you go to your first fitting?” I offered. “With your mum and George’s mum and your Maid of Honor.”

The room was quiet.

“Whoever that is at the time,” I added. “Katie, stop stressing so much. It’ll get done.”

“Eugh, you’re right. All right. The only thing I’m going to think about tomorrow to do with weddings is the napkin colors. That’s it. How’s that sound?”

“It sounds wonderful and refreshing,” Alicia muttered, closing her eyes. “I can’t look at another dress, seriously.”

“And look at it this way,” Ang offered. “If that’s the only thing you’re thinking about tomorrow you won’t overwhelm poor George.”

Katie grinned. “I’m so excited. So stupidly, ridiculously, excited. I love him so much, you know?” Her smile nearly stretched her entire face and Alicia threw something at her.

“Quit being so damn happy,” she mumbled. “I’m trying to sleep and your stupidly bright smile is keeping me awake.”

Katie threw it back. I liked ridiculously happy Katie. She did un-Katie-like things.





Mrs. Bell ate breakfast with us early the next morning in a lovely salmon colored dress. She poured tea all around on the gazebo and smiled cheerfully. I, however, yawned in unison with Alicia over bacon and sausages. It was far too early in the morning and the grass was still dewy as I made my way down there in sandals.

Fred could barely keep his eyes open and it reminded me of team meetings.

No, it didn’t.

“What a wonderful morning,” Katie said cheerfully, digging into her sausage. “I got a good amount of sleep too.”

“I’m glad you did,” Alicia muttered. “You snored so I didn’t get enough sleep.”

“Should have went back to your room like Ang and I did,” I replied.

“The sofa was too comfy,” Alicia replied sadly. Lee put his hand on hers.

“So what are the plans for today then? No more Quidditch?” Mrs. Bell asked delicately. “Or are we planning the wedding today?” She cast a small glance at Katie.

“Actually no,” she said and I could tell George breathed easier. “All I want to talk about today is napkin colors, but other than that I’m not sure. What do you lot want to do today?”

“I could use another swim,” said Fred. “It would wake me up I think.”

“That and you want to toss Ang in as well,” George said. “I’m pretty keen on that. After breakfast?”

“Good idea, mate.”

“Okay,” Katie said, cutting off anything that could have been said. She looked refreshed as she put a stack of books onto the breakfast table.

We stared.

She opened the first one and I saw swatches of at least thirty different pinks. “These are all the choices for napkins. Well, the next four pages are the pinks. I like most of them. In the other books they have the greens I like. There is one in this book” she held up a large hardcover white book “that has a lovely sage green I quite fancy. Okay.” She cleared her throat and I glared wide eyed at those books. “George, you need to help me with this one. I quite like most these pinks. Wait, first do you think pink or green? We can really narrow it down then.”

George stared at the book. He was clearly exhausted and he made a face. “Erm, pink I think.”

“Why?” asked Katie.

“Because you asked me to pick,” he replied. Fred chuckled.

“Well, I’d like a reason. I would rather have green, that’s why I ask.”

“Then let’s do green.”

“George, I don’t want to make all the choices. If you have a better reason for having pink I’ll consider pink.” She tried to smile but was forcing it.

“I told you I don’t have a reason so let’s do green.”

Everyone’s eyes went from Katie to George and then back to Katie for the rebuttal. This was probably not the best breakfast conversation and those books were blocking my way to the jam.

“Fine,” she breathed in irritation and flipped the first book to the page with greens and then opened two other books to bookmarked pages with green. “Let’s just pick from the green. Which do you think?”

George stared hard. I did as well because I wanted the jam. “They all look the same.”

“Oh come on,” Katie said. “You know what the centerpieces look like.”

“Yeah. Those at least had different shapes. Can we have a patterned one?” He laughed, obviously amused with himself. Katie, however, frowned. “Apparently not. Well, I like this one here. Oh wait, is that the same as this one?” He pointed into the book. “It looks like it. No, this one has the same name except one letter is different. Blimey, why are there so many colors of green?”

“It’s easy, George. It just has to go with the décor.”

He narrowed his eyes. “It’s rubbish, that’s what it is. Just pick regular bleeding green already.”

“That’s not how this works, for your information!” Katie snapped.

Mrs. Bell bit her lip and poured Angelina more tea.

“How does it work, then? I close my eyes and point to a random shade of green and we order it and it costs thousands of bleeding sickles for one day? What rubbish.”

“Could you seriously care any less about what I love?” Katie yelled. “All you care about is your jokes and your Quidditch and your mates and not what I want.”

“Don’t say that, of course I care about what you want. I care so much to let you make what choices you want.”

“A marriage isn’t about me telling you what to do!” she said, standing up in frustration. “You just sit back and take the easy out. Here, why don’t I just do the whole fucking thing by myself?”

Mrs. Bell gasped. Hell, I even managed a gasp. Katie just dropped the F bomb. That was something I had never heard before. Other than in toe-stubbing context.

“Maybe this isn’t exactly the place,” said George, noticing what was going on around him. “We can talk about this inside if you want.”

“Oh, sod off. We’re talking about it right here. I’m so sick of you right now. You just do something when I get so bleeding mad you’re forced to do it so I don’t flip out on you. I want you to do it because you want to even if it’s just to see me happy, which you obviously don’t care about. I would like you to care about this enough to make a couple stupid choices. I want you to care because it’s what I love.”

“Katie, quit being ridiculous,” George said, his temper rising with the color in his face. “Quit making this all about you. I don’t do anything but what you want. I’m always on time and I’m always polite and respectful and I’ve toned down a horrible amount since I asked you to marry me. Even my mates think so, which has been a bit of a drag lately. The least you could do is cut me some slack because I’m trying, but no, this is all about Katie being the victim and not getting everything she wants!”

“Everything I want?” Katie cried. “I am so not like that.”

“Not like that? Give me a break, Kait. You hide it pretty well, though, I’ll give you that. You act less like a snob at school when you’re just as poor as the rest of us.”

“Me having money has nothing to do with this! You—you’re jealous, that’s what you are, even though it's not like I can help having money.” Katie’s hair was standing up strange again and her fists were balled at her sides. She no longer looked elegant and fresh in her pink dress.

“I’m jealous, am I? Jealous of your huge garden with all your flowers and your pond? Pfft. Get real, Katie. God, you’re a bigger snob than I thought you were. Always want things your way. You practically twisted my arm to get me to pick the centerpiece you wanted yesterday. That’s rubbish, Katie. I don’t care about the wedding stuff. It’s all the same to me. What now?”

She gaped at him. “Of course you don’t care, George. I’m not surprised. You go back and be your usual immature boyish self with your mates because I’m fucking done. I’m so done with you, George Weasley.”

We continued to stare.

“Nice communication right there, Kait. Drop the F bomb and expect people to take you seriously. You never take anyone else seriously.” George puffed out his chest to try and look more masculine.

“Oh, you’re a right piece of work!” She was screaming now. “George, I can’t stand you. You and your stupidity and your joke factory and your lack of care for anything!” That was when she pulled the one carat diamond off her finger and threw it across the gazebo, hitting George square in the chest. “I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last sod on earth. Hell, I’d marry Ellis first.” With that she grabbed a piece of toast (and the jam I wanted) and marched back into the house, slamming the kitchen door behind her.

We sat there for a minute, all of us in complete silence. George was still standing, holding the ring in his outstretched left hand.

“I should go,” he whispered after a few minutes, closing his hand and taking a drink of his tea.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Mrs. Bell said quietly, swirling the contents of her drink with a spoon.

“I’ll come back too,” Fred said, standing up and patting his twin on the back. He gave Angelina a quick kiss (while Lee and Alicia did the same thing) and the boys walked to the back of the garden to apparate back home.

Once they were gone I let out a long awaited sigh. “What the hell was that?”




A/N: Sorry for the large amount of arguing in my updated chapters lately, haha!

I decided that for my 21st birthday (today, the 4th of July) I would give you all a present! So happy Mistress-birthday and chapter 15! Even though it was a bit of a drag, haha. Also, I am on a mini-hiatus until the 12th of July when I get back from my NYC trip. I was contemplating whether or not to post because of the site, but I figired I'd give you all the present!

Also, I plan on responding to every review I get, which I always do, but I can't stand those slashes cropping up in responses so I am going to wait until I get back and respond to all of them, promise!

I can't wait to get back and read the reviews (thank you in advance). I promise Oliver will be back soon! So...favorite parts? Quotes? Kung-fu move to use on one of the characters?

Also, what would you have Oliver do if he just walked into Katie's house?


Chapter 16: Playing Pretend
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For everyone who said Oliver should show up
at Katie's without a shirt on. Always :)






Katie was a puddle of self-pitied tears when we found her in the kitchen hovering over a tub of strawberry ice cream. She had one of those giant spoons used for serving potatoes and was shoveling as fast as her thin arms would allow.

Mrs. Bell reluctantly left us to mop her up and do the “friend thing” as we assured her we would, but Alicia, Ang, and I knew we had our hands full. I hoisted myself up onto the counter with her. “Katie, are you all right?”

“All right?” she said, a mouth full of ice cream. “Of course I’m not all right. I’ve just broken an engagement. I’m single. I’m not engaged. I’m not planning a wedding. Oh, god, what just happened?”

“Just calm down, love,” said Angelina. “You’ve just had a row, that’s all.”

“I threw my fucking ring at him!” Katie cried. “I threw it and I hit him right at the chest—I’m a damn good Chaser, that’s what I am!”

“Yeah, you are,” I added. “But we have to take this one step at a time.”

“Did you take your breakup one step at a time, Jane? I seem to remember you ignoring it.”

“Low blow,” I muttered.

“That was different,” Alicia said in irritation. “They weren’t engaged. Don’t go taking this out on your friends.”

“Could have stepped in!” Katie snarled. I didn’t like the angry, hurt Katie very much, though I didn’t blame her.

“Yeah. Right. Think about what you’re saying for a second, Kait.” Alicia was obviously losing patience very fast. “There was no way the three of us were stepping into anything. You had to handle that for yourself.”

“And I did.”

“You’re right. You did.”

“Do you think I’m a snob?” She began to cry again.

“Of course not,” Angelina said lightly.

Katie jumped up suddenly. “I can’t handle this. I just can’t.” She pushed her way into the living room with her ice cream and giant spoon as we followed and there sat stacks of wedding magazines and color swatch booklets. “This rubbish can just go. I don’t want to see it again.”

“Don’t you think you’ll work it out?” I offered. I couldn’t help but think a napkin fight could be resolved.

“No. No, I hate George Weasley. I’m done with him.” Crying, Katie sat down her ice cream tub on the glass end table where it began to leak and started toward the magazines. “I am no longer engaged. Why would a single person need rubbish magazines? That’s right. They wouldn’t. I don’t want the poufy princess dress or the silky one or the lace one I’m DONE.” She picked up an enormous armful and dumped them into the nearest trash can. Then she took the rest and did the same. A few fell out onto the floor so she kicked them in stubborn frustration.

“Katie, those probably cost a lot of money,” Alicia said.

“What do I care? I’m a rich snob, remember? I don’t care what they cost!” She stormed out of the room and we followed her again into the second floor lounge (not before I left a quick note to Thelma not to throw away the magazines, but to put them up in a closet or something) where she fell against a couch with her ice cream and started to eat again.

We took turns sitting with her, letting her cry and I painted her toenails a soft pink instead of letting her chose the color. Once the ice cream ran out we gave her a glass of water and after a few hours of choking and sniffling Katie eventually fell asleep. Angelina tucked her in and the three of us camped out in the lounge keeping watch.

“What do you think?” Alicia whispered.

“About what?” Ang asked.

“About Katie and George breaking up over napkins.”

“I think they were looking for an excuse to not take the next step because they’re scared,” Ang replied.

“Learned from your mistakes?” I said quietly.

“I suppose I had to. Sad Katie had to make the same one.” She rolled over on the couch. “Do you think they’ll get back together?”

“Hard to say,” Alicia said. “I hope so. I really think they work well together.” She paused. “But then again, I thought Jane and Oliver worked well together too so who am I to make a judgment call?”




I felt exhausted again. There were just too many fights and upsetting moments in the last couple weeks that I made my quota for the year I was fairly certain. Things always had to get worse before they got better, though, right?

Right, Jane?

Blast I had no idea. When I woke Katie wasn’t there and Alicia was snoring instead. It might have been a charm. I dressed quickly in the bedroom and found the single girl in question in the living room doing a workout video (probably to work off the ice cream). She wore a matching sweat suit and a white sweatband around her head. There were kicking motions I was sure I couldn’t attempt.

“Katie, what are you doing? It’s seven in the morning.” I yawned and fell onto a comfy couch.

“I’m working out. Do you want to join? They have a partner work out on this video. It’s really good. Works your abs.”

I made a face. “No, not one bit actually. If you want to put it on I can pretend I’m doing the other part, though. I’m very good at pretend exercise.” I paused. “I’m pretending to run right now. Look.”

“Oh bugger off.” Katie laughed and continued on. Angelina joined us in the living room with a piece of toast in her mouth. “Ang, do you want to work out? Jane’s anti-exercise.”

Angelina nearly snorted. “I think my breakfast will be my workout for the morning. Thanks, love.”

She shrugged. “Suit yourself. It’s a great way to burn off aggression and anger. You should try it, Jane. This is exactly what I need.”

I exchanged worried glances with Angelina, telling her I thought this was exactly what Katie didn’t need.

“I’m happy about what I did,” she said suddenly and I looked up. “I’m happy I broke the engagement. I was frustrated for weeks, you know? I want to eventually marry someone that cares about what I care about, even if they don’t like it.”

“So what about that whole love thing?” Angelina ventured.

Katie’s head whipped around. “Of course I’d like to love him too. George was a lovely guy and I’m sure one day we can be friends when I get over this and get over being a complete snob, but I’m sure right now I just don’t want to see George Weasley’s face. Good thing it’s summer, really.”

“Does that mean we should relocate Fred as well then?” I tried a smile. Ang laughed.

“Might be safe,” said Katie.

The weird part was, I actually liked that Katie had changed through the summer. Yeah, she was currently thinking irrationally in terms of George, but she was sticking up for herself. Katie had always been too quiet and innocent and easy to go along with what other people wanted, but at least now she finally snapped and was able to tell George exactly what she wanted. If he couldn’t fill that void, then she would get rid of him, love be damned.

If only she could realize she was being a complete idiot. She loved George. They belonged together. She loved his indecisiveness and his humor.

That was it, though, wasn’t it? Ever since he proposed he toned things back, George himself admitted it. He wasn’t himself unless he cracked a joke or two with Fred. He wasn’t the same with the rest of us. He barely made a comment about me while Fred was drooling over me. I loved Freddie. So George changed and Katie changed to match it and now she wasn’t thinking clearly and George let out days of frustration about wedding arrangements over breakfast.

Over napkins.

“Jane, dear, are you in here?” Mrs. Bell rounded the corner and raised a brow at Katie’s work out video. “You got a letter this morning.” She handed me a worn envelope with Roger’s scrawl on the front and I opened it quickly.

Jane,

I’m so glad to hear you’re doing better. Don’t blame me for writing to your friends, I know you. You weren’t yourself and you weren’t a “better” version of yourself. So I’m glad you finally broke down. I read that Quidditch Weekly article. Must have been hard to see. I don’t know that Bridget woman but she looks to be completely full of shit. Excuse my language.

I’m excited to hear about Katie and George’s wedding plans. I always knew they were meant for each other. Seems like they jumped the gun a bit, but who am I to judge? If they can make it work then they can make it work. Plus, they have plenty of time to get everything together before next summer.

I have something to tell you, by the way. Professional Quidditch teams have three levels. They have the team themselves, the Magpies in my case, and then the reserve team, and then they have the youngest level in another smaller city. Well, they decided to bring the youngest team (we call them the farm team) up to our reserve practice the other day and we all had dinner.

And Jane, I think I’ve fallen for their Chaser, Madeline Jenur. She’s beautiful, talented, funny, and has absolutely no idea I fancy her.

Thought you should know. Shall I tell her I was quite sought after at Hogwarts?

Love always,

Roger


I smiled to myself. About time Roger found himself a gorgeous Quidditch player. I would have to give him some advice about how us Quidditch women worked. Not that I was a Quidditch woman, because I wasn’t, I just played pick-up games for fun and threw the Quaffle at Fred’s head. I wondered about the lack of pick-up Quidditch I would be playing in the future.

What would the team be like in the fall with two ex’s on the same team? Certainly it couldn’t be as bad as the Fred/Ang mess? Merlin, I could only hope.





It rained most of the evening so after dinner we brightened Katie’s spirits by actually doing the stupid workout video with her. My calves were on fire but she seemed lovely and told me my form was a little off. I told her to jump off the balcony.

After a while she stopped, stretched, cooled down, and announced she needed a serious shower. I fell onto the floor, breathing heavily.

“This is why I’m not an athlete,” I said, groaning.

“Oliver had you run laps every day,” Ang said. “How could you be tired?”

“Because that was laps. This is cardio death.” I groaned again, mostly at her mention of Oliver.

“Do you think she’ll just fall in the shower and break a leg?” Alicia was clutching the side of a chair in desperation, trying to hoist herself up but failing miserably. “I really hope she does. Then I’ll hide her wand so she can’t fix it and you lot get some ropes and we’ll tie her down or something.” She took a deep breath. “Do you think she’ll be like this forever?”

“I don’t think even Katie can keep this up forever,” I said slowly, my heart rate finally slowing. “I eventually broke. I don’t think she’ll break because she’s not stuffing her face with denial, but she’s going to get tired of it eventually.”

Alicia flopped back to the ground. “Eventually better be pretty damn soon or I’m going to lock myself in the closet. Or the kitchen. That sounds more promising. I could have Thelma whip me up some casserole or something.”

“You’re the snob,” said Angelina, chuckling. She leaned back and we were silent for a moment, all probably cooking up ways to get Katie to stop being completely irrational.

For the first time in a while I let my mind wander back to Quidditch Captain Oliver Wood. I didn’t want it to go there. Hell, I wanted it to stay several thousand kilometers from there with a broken down broomstick, but that rogue mind of mine went anyway. I thought about how much we fought during the year and how stupid most of our fights were. I thought about fighting over Libby breaking up with him during the Easter Holidays and me nearly ringing his neck after Roger and I got back together.

Then I thought about the way he smirked at me and the way he kissed me after he caught me during the Quidditch Final.

Eugh, I hated his damn guts.

That still made me wonder—what had we fought over? What broke us up? I hated him, but did we seriously break up over something nearly as stupid as Katie and George did?

I did hate him though. I wanted to jab him in the stomach the next time I saw him.

“What’s that scratching sound?” Alicia muttered, opening her eyes. She motioned toward the window and Angelina pulled back the curtains.

I was glad to rid myself of Oliver-thoughts. Or Wood-Thoughts as they would be known henceforth. We were no longer on a first-name basis no matter what.

“It’s an owl—that’s Fred’s owl.” Ang pushed the window open and Fred’s tiny owl flew inside, sticking out its leg for her to take the parchment. She made a disgruntled face and skimmed it. “Oh geez. It says things are a disaster over at the Burrow. George is drinking himself into a pulp—got kicked out of the pub last night and everything. Apparently they’re trying to get George to realize it was a stupid mistake and they just needed to be more open and be themselves, but George will have none of it. He’s taking it bad.” She paused and let a tiny sigh escape her lips. “This is ridiculous. We have to do something.”

“Something like what? We can’t exactly help George when Katie is being a complete nutter,” Alicia said.

“Of course not,” Ang said. “Fred and Lee can handle it. This is all complete rubbish, I hope they know that. Breaking up over napkins—stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

I wanted to agree, but it wasn’t the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. Breaking up over miscommunication and stubbornness was a bit stupider to me. I frowned.

“Maybe we should take Katie somewhere?” I offered.

“Where? Looney bin?” Alicia chuckled. “I’ll get the brooms.”

“I mean shopping or something. Maybe that will take her mind off of things.”

“Not too shabby.” Angelina folded the letter and tucked it gently into her pocket. “At least we can try and take her mind off it and get our old Katie back.”

“You know what?” Katie was back with a large grin and her dark hair tied in a knot on the back of her head. “I think I do want a dog. A little one that yips instead of barks and I can carry around if it gets sick of walking.”

“Do you want to put it into a bag too?” Alicia said.

“No. Bag-dogs aren’t my thing.” Katie smiled. “What’s in the cards for the rest of the day, girls? Any second thoughts on the ultimate cardio?”

“I second my thought on hating it,” I said. Alicia laughed and seconded my motion.

“Katie, we have an idea,” Angelina said carefully. “I’ve been wanting to find a blue scarf to go with my dress so I was thinking about taking a shopping trip into London. What do you think? Could you use something new and wonderful?”

“You know what?” she said in the same tone she said it previously. “I really could. So many of my outfits remind me of times I spent with George so it’s about time for something new. Muggle shopping? I don’t fancy Diagon Alley this time of day.”

“That’s fine with me,” I said. I watched her grab a pair of shoes and her purse.

What were we going to do with her? Though it seemed through this entire experience Katie learned a few things about herself, this was just a mess. She wanted a dog? Did anyone inform her dogs weren’t on the list of pets for Hogwarts? Couldn’t she just settle with a kneazle?

I frowned. “Should we get our things and Floo out of here then just like we used to?”

“Meet down here in ten.” Angelina led the way up the stairs and I dodged to the left into my current bedroom.

It was dark so I threw open the curtains and leapt back, nearly knocking over an antique beige lamp in the process. Kiwi was outside my window in all of her feathery glory staring at me with wide amber eyes. After catching my breath, I let my father’s owl inside and she landed gracefully on the bed and bounced around for a minute before dropping the letter on my silk pillowcase. She hooted softly.

Ignoring what I was upstairs to do, I ripped open the letter.

Jane,

Hi, Pumpkin! I didn’t want to bother you at Katie’s, but I decided to write you since I know something was wrong when you left. I hope things are better—put your old man out of his misery and keep me posted, okay? I want to make sure my daughter is all right.

There are two other reasons I’m writing. The next is when you get back I really want you to meet Lou’s daughter, Amanda. She’s a sweet girl, a little younger than you, but nice all the same. I think you two will get on great. Write me back and let me know when you’ll be heading back home. I know Katie’s is your favorite summer destination, but just give me a rough idea so I can tell Lou. Thanks, love.

The last reason is I saw Oliver while grocery shopping the other day. He avoided me like the plague and left without buying anything. Is there something you want to tell me? Should I have done some hexing? Let me know.

Love,

Dad


I wrinkled my nose. Bollocks, I couldn’t keep the secret forever. I figured I’d just go back and pretend Oliver never existed and never came into our flat late at night soaked after Quidditch practice and fell asleep on the sofa. I wanted to pretend I never skipped over to his new London flat and I never whined about his obnoxious parents.

I wanted to pretend Oliver Wood was never my boyfriend or my Quidditch Captain, but it looked as if that wasn’t going to happen. Dad was far too quick for my turn-of-the-head antics.

Folding the letter, I crossed the room and grabbed my purse. I quickly changed into a short skirt since we were going to London and gave Kiwi a pat on the head before she flew back home.

The girls were waiting impatiently downstairs when I arrived.

“Did you take a nap?” Katie asked. She was in a pretty lavender dress with heels. Apparently now that she wasn’t with George it meant being gorgeous wherever she went. Pfft.

I looked down at my outfit.

Damn it. I did the same thing.

Stupid Katie.

At least I looked good. “No, I didn’t take a nap. Dad sent me a letter about meeting Lou’s daughter, Amanda, when I got home. I’ll have to write him a quick letter when I get back. Is everyone ready?”

Angelina peeled herself away from the television and we Floo Powdered straight to the Leaky Cauldron, a pub that was all too familiar to us in years past. We used to meet up there at least twice during the summer to catch up and tell stories when we weren’t at Katie’s. Even the boys joined us frequently and we passed time in Diagon Alley eating sweets and annoying kids looking forward to their first year at Hogwarts.

I dusted off my yellow top and straightened up. It was almost strange being there again, the dimly lit place we came to in order to escape parents and chores and well-cooked meals (that was more Fred and George since Dad ordered out a lot). The girls appeared next to me, Alicia coughing from the dust, and I gave them a sideways smile.

“Lot of memories,” Angelina said fondly. “I feel like I should complain about my family now or something. Quick, someone whine.”

“George is a tool,” said Katie.

We shot her a look.

“I meant legitimately whine,” Ang countered back.

“Legit—how is that not legitimate?” Katie hurried to catch up as we made our way to the door. She looked flustered. “We just broke an engagement, I think that’s legit.”

“Over napkins?” I nearly rolled my eyes, but caught myself in time.

“You know it was never just about napkins.”

“What was it about?” I asked, pulling the door open and walking out onto the warm London street. “And don’t tell me it was about him being immature and you being stressed and things not working and him not caring. It was about napkins.”

“How rich of you,” Katie snapped loudly. A few heads turned as we walked. “How rich of you to judge my relationship when you and Oliver broke up over something less than napkins!”

“So do you admit it?”

She shot me a scathing look.

“Okay, this is done.” Angelina moved so she could walk between us. “Both of you are stupid, end of story. Both Oliver and George are stupid, end of story. Can we be finished with this and just go shopping?”

I nodded. Katie nodded. I still wanted to punch her in the head.

We wandered into several Muggle stores. I always enjoyed them because the clerks were less attentive and they were usually teenagers looking to make a few bucks while popping their gum and reading about sex in Cosmo for future reference when they were twenty.

Or when they were seventeen like Angelina was.

I was seventeen.

The only one it ever crossed my mind with was Oli—shut up, Jane. Shut up now. Wood thoughts were over. Clothes. Lots of clothes. Think about that floral frilly top with the horrible jewel tones.

Eww. Reminded me of Libby.





“How does this look?” Alicia twirled in front of me in a black and white cocktail dress complete with beaded stitching and crinoline. “I feel like I should get some really high heels and walk down a bit staircase with a banister.”

“Alicia,” I said, smirking, “you would be sliding down the banister and you know it.”

“And I have a feeling Lee would let me.” She checked out her rear end in the mirror. Satisfied, she turned back to me.

“Lee would be right behind you yelling out bobsled calls,” Angelina added. “It’s a great dress, Leesh.”

“Ooh! It’s on sale. This puppy is mine.” She rushed back into the changing room.

“As long as it barks, get it,” I shouted in after her.

Katie came out in a delicate black dress with lace trim.

“Who died?” Angelina asked. She leaned back in the leather waiting room chair. “You look like you’re going to a funeral.”

“I might need a funeral dress some day,” she said gently.

“Not today,” I said. “Go grab something with color. Here.” I grabbed a bright pink dress off the nearest hanger. “Try this.”

“I would look ghastly in this.” Katie held it limp in her hands. “It’s all the wrong material. I would itch as well. I don’t think I could possibly try this on.”

“Do it,” barked Angelina (she didn’t sound like a puppy though. That was reserved for Alicia’s dress). She cast me a nervous glance once Katie was back in the dressing room. It was a clear expression of, what the hell do we do?
I shrugged. “Another store?” I whispered.

“We might have to. Maybe ten or twenty more.”

Alicia leaned against her dressing room door, overhearing our whispers. “I’d have an entire litter of puppies!”





“I feel…what the heck?” Katie opened the door several minutes later (Ang almost fell asleep) and stood in front of us wearing the pink dress I grabbed. She looked nothing short of absolutely stunning. The material fell around her waist and showed just enough collar bone to be considered very classy. It glittered a bit, making it seem like Katie was glowing, and she beamed. “This is stunning.”

“Wow, Kait, you look great.” Alicia clapped her hands a bit though they made a papery noise from the shopping bags around her arms. “You’re getting that, right? If you don’t get it I’m getting it for you so you probably should since my Muggle money count is going lower and lower. Plus,” she added in a whisper, “the girl working the register is talking to her sugar lump on the phone so if you tell her it was on the sale rack she’ll probably just mark it like that.”

Katie grinned wider. “You know what? I think it will. It’s time for an entirely new chapter in my life. I still want that dog.” She went back into the dressing room leaving me to stand up and stretch.

The store was packed since it was midday so I moved to allow someone’s skeptical looking mother to have my seat while her daughter tried on a very tiny dress. I moved toward the women’s section since I didn’t think Fred would enjoy me shopping for him and wrinkled my nose at a few frilly tops that would make me look either like a grandmother or like someone’s baby.

The clothes were nice there, though. They were trendy and some were high fashion, which was nice. I brushed my hair out of my eyes and continued along the medium rack trying to find something that caught my eye.

“Jane, what would you say to some ice cream?” Alicia put a hand on my shoulder, scaring the daylights out of me. “I’m thinking strawberry. What do you think?” She smiled.

“Katie finished?” I asked, pulling out a cream colored top. “I was thinking I might find something here if we decide to go out or whatnot. Some of these are really cute.” I found a light green dress and smiled.

“Well, no, but I told her we were going to get ice cream. You can find stuff at another shop.”

I knew that gritted Alicia smile.

I wheeled around, heart racing so hard it was painful, and I knew right away what I would find two racks away searching through the green collared shirts in the men’s section. I knew before I met the deep brown eyes of Oliver Wood that I would have to try a lot harder to pretend he didn’t exist.




A/N: First of all, I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone for the amazing birthday wishes in reviews last chapter. I had a fantastic 21st birthday and an even more fantastic trip to NYC. I went to the NYC Half-Blood Prince Premiere on the 9th. Was anyone else there? I also went to the live Mugglecast taping the following day. I got some wonderful pictures of the actors, especially Rupert!

So...finally, after chapters of no Oliver Wood, BAM THERE HE IS...with his annoyingly attractive brown eyes and everything...jerk of a man. Dishy, delicious jerk of a man. I wanted to say thanks for all of the amazing reviews so far--over 600, that's INSANE! We're on schedule to overtake Keep Away soon! (wowza)

So I hope everyone enjoyed reading this one...I really liked writing it...mostly because of the end because I had to get there, but I promise the next one will be a lot more adventurous. Favorite quotes? Parts?

And most of all...what the heck do you think is going to happen in that clothing store?


Chapter 17: Are You Loony, Jane?
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for chrisfack, because she's Amanda. haha.







I froze. I couldn’t figure out any other reaction considering Oliver bleeding Wood was standing across the store staring right back at me. Freezing seemed like the thing to do, especially since Alicia was doing it too. She stiffened even more beside me.

There was so much loathing welling up inside me, but I had no idea why. Usually when I hated someone I had a reason for it. I looked from his tousled hair down to his shirt and to his hands clasping the hanger so hard his knuckles were white. I wanted to hate him so bad—but really, what did I hate him about?

Well, he was a sodding jerk when we fought. He even stuck up for Bridget.

Yes, that was what I was upset about.

Bugger, I sounded like Katie. This was stupid.

No, I hated Oliver Wood. He was as bad as…as bad as broom splinters on the Quidditch pitch—no! No, I was over Quidditch at the moment. We were as broken up as Oliver Wood and me. I couldn’t stand Quidditch either (Well, maybe the Harpies were still okay, but definitely not Puddlemere. Well, their other players were okay but I heard their Keeper was just rubbish).

I couldn’t help myself. I stared. I didn’t know what else to do. My feet were stuck to the floor and my hands were attached to the clothes beside me. Merlin, how stupid was I? I was in a clothing store staring right at my ex. Someone poke me in the eyeball.

Oliver broke the eye contact, turning to the person he was with. It wasn’t (thank the Quidditch Gods) Bridget, but it was a middle aged woman with very good hair and a fancy bow tie. She was biting her lip.

“It won’t work for the shoot, dear,” she said, pointing at the blue shirt beside the green one he was clutching. “Go try on the green one. I think there is a fitting room open.”

Katie and Angelina were standing outside the room, Katie making faces at her dress. How could they not have seen? Or heard?!

“I’ll just try it here,” Oliver muttered, catching sight of them.

My heart sank at his voice—the accent I had once considered so dishy and amazing. Now it made me feel a bit sick. Still I couldn’t move. I wished Alicia would rush me out of here or take me to St. Mungos. At least there I could say something—I could throw something at the pompous git!

He reached down and pulled off his shirt, draping it over the other clothes and I had to stop my jaw from dropping. When I thought Oliver Wood couldn’t possibly work out any more, his body becomes more toned. People could eat off of that. He ruffled his hair and tried on the green collared shirt, leaving it open in the front. Fuck, he was even tan.

I continued to stare like a stupid girl.

“Oh, Oliver Wood!” The clerk popped her gum one last time and came tearing down the aisles. She was lucky we were the only ones left in there or she would have decapitated someone. “Oh my gosh I can’t believe you’re in here!”

“I thought this was a Muggle shop,” mumbled Alicia. “Didn’t know we’d have the Shriekers in here. Blimey.”

I watched her stand on her tiptoes and ask for an autograph.

Oliver glanced over to me. He smirked arrogantly. “Of course. Would you like a hug too?”

She squealed. Alicia covered her ears.

“Jane?” she whispered. “Are you okay? Do you want me to escort you out of here?”

I shook my head furiously. I watched his pompous arse wrap the twit clerk in a hug, sticking his face in her hair and signing three different papers for her.

“My mates won’t believe this!” she shrieked.

“Tell them it wasn’t a dream.” He winked at her.

Fucking prat.

Alicia poked me. “Am I supposed to stand up for you since we’re best mates or are you going it alone?”

I shrugged. “He’s still your friend.”

“Not much of a friend, didn’t go to Katie’s.”

“You didn’t invite him.” I went for another shrug but stopped. “Oh, what am I saying? Hex him if you want! Hell, I do. Bad.” My fists curled tightly around the hanger I held and suddenly I wanted nothing more than to make Oliver Wood feel every ounce of pain I felt while cleaning my entire flat and painting my nails a horrible shade of purple and breaking down completely in front of my best friends. Puffy eyes my sodding ARSE I wanted to hate him more than I hated him my first five years of Hogwarts!

Oliver looked over to me once more and smirked again. “I don’t think the green is going to work for my new spread in Quidditch Weekly promoting the upcoming matches. It might blend too much into the grass. Us famous folk have to stand out, you know.”

I had absolutely no idea how it happened and I (of course) had absolutely nothing to do with my wand appearing in my hand. I would never do something so foolish as send an entire display of mint lipgloss at him, but somehow it happened. He didn’t duck, either.

Most of them broke and Oliver was covered in various shades of mint which were plumpers as well. How exciting.

“Perry!” Oliver roared, gaping at me and trying to unstick his fingers from the gloss. “I thought you were more mature—no, of course you’re not.”

“Safe for you to say after that smirk,” I shot back. “How many fan girls have you been with since? Is it safe to say at least ten because I’ve got a betting pool with Fred and George.”

“You’re so thick headed.” He righted the display with his wand. “So sorry, Lyvine, my ex enjoys making scenes at clothing stores.” The woman nodded and excused herself to the loo to clean up. “You have such a temper. Couldn’t you just go back to doing whatever it was you were doing and ignore me?”

“And miss an opportunity to break the routine of World Famous bachelor Oliver Wood? I couldn’t possibly.”

Alicia laughed from beside me.

“Anyway it’s none of your business who I have been with,” he continued, cleaning the shirts as the clerk watched in horror with new gum. “More than you, I’m certain.”

“Or just box of Bludgers Bridget? Where is she, anyway?”

“She’s up the street in the perfume store—oh, sod off, Perry.”

“Come on, Wood, don’t want to talk about it?” I leaned forward. I wanted him to snap. I wanted him to try and hex me right there in the shop because I could see in his eyes he wanted nothing more than to do so. “Don’t want to talk about how stimulating a conversation is with her? Or I’m sure you’re looking for the other type of stimulating, aren’t you?”

Alicia choked.

“What in the…” Katie appeared beside me with her bag. Angelina was frowning a few feet away. Clearly she did not agree with my lipgloss antics.

“I said sod off, Perry. You’re clearly unbalanced. Your friends should get you out of here before you embarrass yourself further.”

“All calm and put together, aren’t you? You would be though, wouldn’t you?” Why wouldn’t he just snap? How could he be so calm? “You always want people to see something other than reality—you’re a master at covering everything up. Your past, your father, your feelings. What a pro you are, Wood.”

“Don’t bring up my father.”

“Why ever not?” I shot him my best impression of his own pompous smirk. “You brought up my father during a team meeting.”

It worked. “That was different and—why the fuck am I even talking to you? We’re broken up. Go your separate way. Go practice flying or something. Call up Davies and ask him for lessons on how not to fall off your broom.”

I shrugged. “All right then, Wood.” I turned to the girls. “Ready to go?” They nodded in a way to suggest they were both shocked by my turn of emotion and confused as to why we were leaving (Alicia looked in need of popcorn). Leading the way to the door, I chanced one glance back at Oliver. He was fuming, still cleaning up my lipgloss disaster. He looked up.

“Good luck with Bridget,” I said confidently, pushing open the door. “You’ll need it considering you probably have to read the Prophet aloud for her every morning.”

Ang snorted.

I ducked as a display of jeweled bracelets went flying for the door and crashed just to my left. “Bye, Wood!”





“You shouldn’t have done it,” Angelina said as we made our way into Diagon Alley for smoothies and cake. “I don’t care he gave you that pompous attitude and provoked you. Jane, it was stupid.”

“I don’t care,” I muttered. I stared at the order board, wondering if I should get mango or strawberry. “I can’t stand him. He knew it would get to me. He wanted me to do it.”

“So that makes it right?” she said.

“Yes.”

She groaned. “This thing with you and Oliver has to stop.”

“It did. With lipgloss—well, and jewelry. That could have really hurt if I didn’t have amazing Seeker—I mean, if I didn’t move fast.”

I decided on mango. It was a safe bet and I was ready to place the order when I heard a scream from behind me. I flew around.

Angelina laughed since she was being practically mauled by Fred. He had a tight grip around her waist and their lips locked almost immediately. “What are you doing here?” she cried, hugging him again.

“Doing a little Quality Quidditch Supply sale shopping,” he said. “You girls are looking wonderful. New makeup?”

I chuckled. “Good to see you, Fred. How have you been?”

“Fantastic. Okay, well, not so much but it’s always better to tell people you’ve been fantastic.” He glanced at the smoothie sign. “I’ll have a peach.”

“Mango for me!” I said, paying for the pair and letting the girls order.

“Janey, feeling any better lately? You look good.”

“Good now that I just threw a whole display of lipgloss at Wood.” I beamed.

“What? Why?” Fred lowered his voice as the girls fought over which flavor they wanted and how much cake they could fit in their faces. “What happened?”

I told him about the shopping experience (even that obnoxious fangirl) and ended with a huge rack of crystal jewelry flying at my head. “He’s unbalanced.”

“He did that to you?” Fred made a face. “That’s a bit crazy, isn’t it?”

“Well, I did throw the lipgloss.”

Fred frowned. “Are you okay though?”

“Oh yeah. I, unlike him, know how to duck.” I smiled, grabbed my smoothie from the counter, and helped Fred pick a table under a beige umbrella. “It wasn’t bad…I just saw him and everything came back, you know? It’s not the same as seeing him in a stupid magazine or on television. He just—well, he pissed me off.”

Fred draped an arm around me. “Good on you then. He seriously has a lot of nerve though—oh, Ang, do sit next to me. My left side was a bit cold and I was hoping you’d warm it up for me.”

She nestled in beside him and Katie took the seat beside me.

“How’s Lee?” Alicia said, practically drooling on the table to figure it out. “He hasn’t sent me a letter since you boys left. Has be found a new woman?”

“He’s bleeding annoying, that’s what he is,” Fred replied. “Always whining—why can’t we go back? Leesh is gunna murder me! Blah blah blah, I don’t care. He’s a complainer, that Lee. Get him out of that habit, will you?”

“I would if I could see his sorry arse.” Alicia smiled.

Fred rolled his eyes. “Get on your broom and do it then! Am I forever going to be matchmaker? Ang, make them stop.”

She laughed and patted Fred delicately on the head. “Aw, let the poor boy relax. He’s had a tough week I’m sure.”

“How’s George?”

My head wheeled around so fast I was sure my neck snapped. There was Katie, poking at her smoothie with the end of her straw, not making eye contact with the rest of us. She looked coy, staring down at it, and I could barely see her bite the corner of her lip. She needed some of that mint lipgloss; her lips were looking a bit chapped.

Fred gaped at her. “Erm, he’s…well, he’s breathing. Being a right pain in my arse, but he’s breathing.”

“Um. Good then.” She swished the smoothie around more with her straw.

I stared down at my own mango drink. I couldn’t stop thinking about him—something that made me even more furious. I wanted to erase Oliver Wood from my head. That didn’t work the first time, though because he just showed up in a Muggle clothing store (with a witch clerk, damn it) picking out collared shirts for a photo shoot. What right did he have taking off his shirt right there in the store?

He wanted me to think about him. He wanted me to think about him with his sodding shirt off. I wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction even though I couldn’t get the damn image out of my head. It certainly wasn’t my fault he went to practice every bleeding day and worked on all those muscles. I thought his muscles had muscles, but in a sexy Scottish sort of –NO! Not in that way at all.

In an I hate his fucking guts sort of way.

“Janey, you okay?” Fred leaned down while Angelina scolded Alicia for ditching the straw and pouring the smoothie in her mouth.

“Me?” I paused, thinking. “Not really.”

He surveyed me. “Neither am I.”





Katie was silent all the way up until Fred left. He had a fake smile planted on his face as he walked the opposite direction out of The Leaky Cauldron and I was certain there was more baggage on his back than need be. I felt it on my own as well.

“I bet George keeps talking about how horrible I am,” she said and this time her voice was filled with an irritation like mine was while fighting with Oliver.

“Mmmm,” Angelina said, careful not to tread on anything. We turned down another street, looking for shops.

I held my breath as we passed the only perfume shop on that street. I glanced inside. It was closed that day. What in Merlin’s name?

“It’s not like I did anything absurd anyway. Things fell apart. Am I right?”

I rechecked the hours. Definitely wasn’t open at all.

“Sure,” Alicia said. “Shall we check in here?”

“He’s just not the right guy for me. He’s not. I’m over him. I’m ready to get back out in the dating world.”

“I don’t think we should,” I said lightly. I stared through the shop window Alicia was in front of. “I was in here a few weeks ago and the sizes are so strange I couldn’t find anything.”

“Could you lot just listen to me for one bleeding second?” Katie cried, making a few passers stare. “Everyone listens to Jane go on about Oliver but no one listens to me talk about George!”

“Don’t make this about me,” I snapped, continuing on. “You have your own issues and I’m not involved.”

“How can you even say that?” Katie said. “You’re supposed to be my best friend!”

“Not if you’re attacking me every time I turn around!” I stopped and turned back toward her. Ang was looking skeptical and Alicia nearly rolled her eyes. “Why are you on my arse anyway? What did I do to you?”

“This is ridiculous! I break an engagement and you’re throwing lipgloss at your ex boyfriend! What are you even fighting over? You both panicked and got stubborn? That isn’t news to anyone but you.”

I gaped at her. This was not Katie. I knew she was going through a hard time and therefore did not indulge in my sudden urge to push her into a garbage bin. She was all out of wack with this George situation, but that didn’t make me any less angry with her.

“Do not put this on me!” I yelled. Alicia grabbed for my arm. “You’re the one who broke up with George over fucking napkins! Give me a break, Katie. And I thought Ang and Fred broke up over something stupid. Napkins? Yeah, napkins and you were so caught up in having the perfect relationship you never bothered to take the next step and have a real damn relationship since you got engaged! And you know what is so messed up?” I paused, taking a deep breath and Alicia dragged me back a few steps because Katie and I were staring daggers at each other. “It’s so messed up that it took your pointless, ridiculous breakup for me to realize mine and Oliver’s was just as fucking stupid!”

With that I turned and marched back up the street.

“Jane?” Angelina called after me. “Does this mean we’re done shopping because judging by your complexion and Katie’s white knuckles I think it does.”

“Yeah, Ang. It does.” I narrowed my eyes. “I’m going to hit the loo in here and apparate back to Katie’s.”

“Are you talking about me?” Katie screamed. Her hair was sticking up a bit.

Yes! I’m talking about you and your damn—”

Ang put a hand over my mouth. “Let it go, Jane. You know what she’s going through right now. Let it pass.”

I knew she was right. As much as I wanted to scream at Katie and throw lipgloss at her, I knew Angelina was right and I knew if I was in her position I would (unfortunately) be making the same stupid mistakes. I also knew she was doing it because she knew no matter how much she got under my skin, we would still be best mates.

Damn that logic.

I pushed past a few people shopping and comparing bra sizes as I made my way to the loo with the girls following close behind. I could hear the huffs and the moment I was sure no one was peeking through their stall, there was a loud crack and I was gone.





I threw my clothes in a bag, frustrated, and even managed a paper cut on one of the custom décor cards on the bedside stand. Bugger. I didn’t care about wrinkles as I tossed in dresses and sweaters and slippers. I just wanted some time away from being constantly harassed by the engagement-breaker. Okay, that was harsh. By Katie. But still, she was being an annoying sod.

“Leaving?” Ang leaned against the doorway. “I think we’re all heading out in a little bit. Turns out the time at Katie’s was a bit of a recipe for disaster.”

“Agreed,” I said with a brief smile. I grabbed for my underwear. “I think I’m going to go meet Amanda or whatever my dad wants me to do. I’m sure she won’t get on my nerves about Wood.”

“She was just being Katie, you know.”

“I know, which is why I don’t hate her or anything. I just need to get out of the line of fire.” I stuffed them in my bag and turned to her. “I hope she knows I’m not peeved at her or anything, I’m just peeved in general.”

“Did you mean what you said about Oliver? About you realizing your breakup was rubbish?”

I nodded slowly. “Unfortunately, yeah.” Averting my gaze downward, I sighed. “So thanks for that, Kait.”

Ang chuckled. “Things will blow over, Jane. They always do with us. We’ll just take some more time to enjoy summer and you can go spend time with Mr. Perry and try to avoid magical things while talking to his new girlie friend.”

I was about to reply when I saw a familiar red head appear at Angelina’s side. She jumped, falling back against the door frame as she stared up at Fred Weasley.

Only, he didn’t look like Fred Weasley. His hair was tossed like a mop on his head and there were scratches failing to blend in with his litter of freckles. There was also a bruise appearing below his right eye and his robes looked messy and torn.

“What in blazes happened?” Angelina breathed, taking his tattered clothes into her hands. “Oh my god, Fred!”

He made a face. “I just wanted to see you off since I’ll be keeping George from destroying the Burrow for the next couple days.”

“Did George do this?” Ang gasped.

“No, of course not.” He looked down. “So, yeah. Erm, it was good seeing you again, Janey. Ang, well, I love ya, woman.”

“Fred, what the hell happened?” Angelina was on the edge of her rope, not nearly yelling.

“I cornered him, okay?” Fred admitted, backing away and looking ashamed and humiliated. “I got peeved at Wood for being such a dick to Jane and I went and confronted him about it. He was ace cool about it, but that pissed me off more considering what he’s done to her—and I lost my temper a bit.”

“Fred, tell me you didn’t.” I put my face in my hands.

“So I sort of whipped out my wand and hexed the cheeky git, but he got me back. You can tell. He told me I was a loon because you were the one that hurt him, but in the end he gave me some ice because he appreciated how protective I was.” He groaned. “I feel like a right git.”

“You know you don’t have to take sides just because we broke up,” I explained. “I’m still friends with George even though him and Katie broke up.”

Fred sighed. “I know. I just—you can just see it in your eyes how much he hurt you. I can’t stand that.”

“You’re ridiculous, Fred. I threw a display at him. I think he’s injured enough for one photoshoot outing.” Chuckling, I patted him on the back. “Thanks, though. It’s nice to know you care enough to attack your ex Quidditch Captain.”

“I do care. I think it was the shorts that brought it on, really.”

“Oh, don’t you start with my legs, again! Snog your woman so I can get going!” I laughed and stuffed a jacket into my bag so Angelina and Fred could kiss by the door.

Even though I couldn’t believe what Fred did in my behalf, it made me feel much better. After zipping my bag I gave him a huge hug. “Thanks, Freddie, even though you got your arse kicked. You made me feel better about panicking and being stubborn.” Ang shot me a look. “I’m sure I’ll talk to you soon—we’re still on for the Burrow, right?”

“We’re always on for the Burrow, Janey.” Fred grinned. “Tell your pops I said hello. It’s a shame we haven’t been by yet but with George in a right state I don’t think it’s a good idea. He’ll just tell George exactly what I’ve been telling him—he’s a right git.”

I nodded. “Keep telling him. Maybe it’ll sink in.” I hugged Ang. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Alicia and Katie are in the lounge. I saw them disappear in there while you were packing.”

“Do I have to?” I moaned.

She nodded like a mother. Bollocks.

Lugging my bag over my shoulder, I left Ang and Fred to snog in the vacant bedroom while I trudged to the second floor lounge. Alicia was repacking her suitcase, positioning every t-shirt correctly so the bag didn’t bulge. “I’m off then,” I said coyly.

Katie glanced up from her knitting table. “Oh. All right then. Tell your dad I send my love.”

“Will do,” I said awkwardly. Alicia came over for a hug. “I’m sure we’ll meet up again soon before school starts.”

“At the Borrow?” Katie nearly snorted. “I’ll just see you lot after that. I’m sure there will be things—I know my parents are talking about some fundraiser or another.”

I shrugged. “Sounds good. Well, see you.” I hurried out, feeling more awkward with my friends than I ever had. What a horrible day. It was the first time in a long time I was glad to be separated from them for a while.





That feeling didn’t last a terribly long time once I dusted off my clothes outside of the flat door. I pushed it open. “Dad! I’m home!”

“Pumpkin? I’m in the kitchen, come on in!”

I tried to put on a smile, but I felt horrible. I wanted to crawl up in bed and sulk for several hours since my mind was focused on Oliver and Katie and the girls and Fred. What rubbish it was! At least I would get a chance to spend quality time with Dad and tell him all about the breakup and how Katie and George broke their engagement over napkins and—bugger.

Lou Beckett was in the kitchen.

She looked nervous as she helped Dad chop various vegetables by the sink.

“Hi there, honey. I didn’t know you were coming home tonight.” Dad smiled. He was wearing a green apron. “Want me to make you something to eat?”

I shook my head. “I’m not hungry, thanks. Good to see you again…erm…”

“Call me Lou.” She smiled warmly. “Are you sure, though? We’re making pasta salad with all of this.”

“I’m fine. Um.” I had no idea what to say. Dad still didn’t know Oliver and I broke up and I wasn’t about to go through a monologue about Katie and George while Lou was chopping green beans for pasta salad. “Actually I had a pretty rough day so I might just go to sleep early.”

“Oh! Oh, lovely, Amanda’s in your room now.”

“Amanda?”

Lou smiled. “My daughter. She’s a bit younger than you, but I’m sure you’ll get on quite well. Just tell her you’re going to sleep and she’ll rush on out of there.”

I wanted to ask why the hell Lou’s daughter I hadn’t met was hanging around my room, but instead after seeing the laughter in my father’s eyes while chopping, I changed my mind. Instead, I carried my bag down the hall and pushed open my bedroom door.

Amanda was a short girl with mousy brown hair and a plump face. She had on an outfit of blue while poking around in my desk drawers and jumped a few feet when she noticed I walked in.

“Oh!” she cried. “You must be Jane.”

“I am Jane. And everything in this room belongs to me.” I surveyed her and set my bag down gently on my bed. “That includes the items in that desk and the slippers on your feet.”

She blushed. “I was just looking.”

“And trying on apparently.” I rolled my eyes. Even though I liked Lou, that didn’t mean I had to enjoy her daughter (especially when her feet were in my slippers). I took a deep breath. Okay. I could give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps my mind was clouded from being irritated with Katie and fighting with Wood.

“So you like fiction?” Amanda continued her quest about my room and even checked a shelf for dust.

“Fiction? I suppose.”

“I was just wondering about the books in your trunk. If I had a trunk full of strange things I would definitely lock it or Mum would think I was loony. Are you loony, Jane?” She motioned toward my now open trunk which was packed with spell books and potions ingredients.

“What a nice question to ask someone when you first meet them.” I shut the lid of my trunk and locked it manually. It had been a while since I’d done it without use of the wand currently residing in my pocket. It was hard giving Amanda the benefit of the doubt.

She couldn’t be older than fifteen. I knew this because of the way she carried herself. It reminded me of Danny Ellis strutting about the castle.

At least I didn’t have any other objects out she could annoy me with. I sighed, ready to tell her I was going to sleep early and she’d have to snoop around in the living room instead (honestly, did Dad think it was a good idea to let the girl run around in my room?), but she cut me off.

“I really love this skirt.” She held up the clothing item previous stuffed into the back of my wardrobe. “Can I borrow it?”

I glanced to my left. The doors to my wardrobe were open and every article of clothing was sorted into piles based on color and hung based on cut. I groaned. “No, you can’t borrow it. You can, however, scoot your nonfiction-loving arse out of here so I can go to sleep.”





A/N: Holy crap Oliver! Shirtless! Squee moment? I think so.

Thank you all for your amazing reviews, they really help me write and a lot give me random ideas, which is always a good thing with this story. What do you think? Especially about Katie asking about George. I know she wasn't the nicest girlie in this chapter, but like Ang said, she'll get through it. Favorite quotes? Peach or mango?

Next chapter: a guest appearance from a Bludger expert.


Chapter 18: Dancing with Dishy Denters
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For rachm34 because of the CAPSOMGALLCAPS in her review && 
Jellyman, sorry about the spilling tea on yourself. I should give warnings. 
Also, why did so many people pick mango? Does mango know it's that popular? 









I thought for sure being a complete pain in the ass would deter Amanda from socializing with me, but instead ten minutes after I kicked her out she knocked on my bedroom door again. I opened it, thinking it was my dad to tell me Lou and Amanda left. Unfortunately, I stared right into her wide blue eyes.

“I’ve already eaten,” she said. “So I’m going to come hang out with you.”

“Didn’t I tell you I was going to sleep?” I said as she pushed her way into my bedroom. Who was this girl? Blimey, even Libby was a little more considerate of boundaries.

“At home I have a bottle of Jim and a hockey poster. Would you like to see?”

I nearly joked. “Jim—like whiskey? No, I wouldn’t like to see! And who cares about a hockey poster? I have Quid—I mean, no, I don’t.” She reopened the doors to my wardrobe and stared into it.

“I’m not sure this dress would fit me.” She held up one of the dresses I wore for Oliver to drive him wild. “It’s a little suggestive, which I like.”

“Okay, that’s it.” I grabbed it out of her hands and slammed the doors shut. “No more looking through my clothes! You seriously shouldn’t be in here. I’m going to sleep.”

“Touchy, aren’t you? What’s with this dress then, huh? Your attitude wasn’t there with the skirt. Did a bloke buy it for you? How is he? Devine in the looks department? I bet he is.”

“There’s no guy! I just can’t stand having people I don’t know look through my things!”

“But you do know me.” Amanda smiled big. “You know me because my mum is dating your dad so one day we’ll be sisters! Won’t that be lovely?”

“Thank Merlin I’ll be out of the house by then.” I rolled my eyes and pulled the door open for her.

“Merlin? You’re so weird, Jane.” Amanda ran a finger over my windowsill. “What school do you go to again?”

“I go to an American one,” I snapped. “I’m gone from September to June.”

“American, huh? I bet the boys there are wonderful. They’re all about the sex, aren’t they?”

I choked yet again. “How old are you?”

“I’m fourteen.”

“Why do you even talk about sex?”

“My friends told me fifteen was the time to lose my virginity so I figured I should be educated before I do it.” She shrugged. Amanda looked so tiny, so young and naïve compared to my friends and me. She smiled big with one tiny snaggletooth and looked into my eyes. “I hear nearly everyone loses it at fifteen. Did you? Or were you ahead of the game?”

“Amanda,” I said seriously, “don’t listen to everything you hear. You have to be ready. Why am I talking to you about sex? This is rubbish—get out of my room.”

“So have you lost yours?”

“Yes, of course,” I snapped.

“Oh.” She went back to looking out the window.

Amanda was fourteen and impressionable and yet I flat out lied to her to make myself seem edgy and cool. What sort of role model was I? Lou Beckett was expecting me to give her child guidance and—she could give her own annoying child guidance because I just wanted her to stop picking on my phrases and looking through my school books.

“Look,” I said, this time with a serious tone instead of an annoyed one, “you need to be ready, all right? Do not take that step unless you know every since consequence to it. I’m not saying anything else because I’m not your mum and I’m not your sister—”

“You might be!”

I narrowed my eyes. “I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

I was about to order her straight out of my room to eat more food and I didn’t care if she got pudgier, but she pulled open the window fast. “Whoa!” Amanda cried. “What’s that?”

Fuck. I knew what it was before the burly snow owl landed with a soft thump on my quilt. It was an unfamiliar but very well cared for bird with an expensive expression and a piece of parchment tied around its leg.

I grabbed for it and Amanda watched in shock and horror.

“There’s a bird in your room!” she screamed. “Oh! I’ve read about this—Jane, it has rabies! Don’t touch it! You’ll get bird flu for certain. Jane—oh, God! You’ve got bird flu. You’re going to sprout wings in six to eight weeks. You’ll be a laughing stock! Your boyfriends in America won’t want anything to do with you.”

I wasn’t listening. Instead, I carefully peeled open the letter and was shocked to see the contents and signature at the bottom.

Miss Jane Perry,

This might seem a bit forward and completely out of the blue, but we met at the Quidditch World Cup in the Puddlmere box. We talked for a while about my rowdy antics as a Hufflepuff, I’m sure you remember. Anyway, I am terribly sorry to hear about you and Wood. He is a bit thick-headed and clearly was misguided when things ended with you.

From what I saw of you, you seemed completely lovely and wonderful.

That is why I wanted to write you and ask if you wanted to accompany me for drinks and dancing tonight in Diagon Alley. I know a few wonderful places and I never pay because I always give away free Puddlemere tickets when I come.

What do you think? My owl is very speedy so just send a reply back. If you’d honor me with the request, please meet me in The Horse Hoof cocktail bar down by Gringotts under the reservation Denters. If not, I am sorry to have troubled you and I hope the rest of your summer leading into your seventh year is wonderful.

Yours,

Liam Denters

I nearly had a heart attack. Liam Denters, Puddlemere United’s Beater, was owling me asking me to go out dancing. I loved talking to him, though I wasn’t sure dating a teammate of Oliver’s was such a good idea. After all, it might make him crazy. That might work, but his game could fall and therefore Liam would be in trouble as well.

Bollocks. Going out with Liam wasn’t a good idea. I knew that. I bit my lip. I had to say no. I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t that cold-hearted. It would be like Oliver dating someone else on the Gryffindor team—like Alicia! Well, perhaps Liam wasn’t best friends with Oliver, but I couldn’t say yes.

“I can’t believe you’re about to have bird flu.” For a fourteen year old girl obsessed with boys and puberty, she wasn’t very bright. “It’s really disgusting.”

I grabbed a pen to write with instead of a quill and paused before I was to write “no”.

“You said I could borrow that dress, right?”

Yes.

I sent the owl away and Amanda screamed about it coming too near to her face. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but the possibility of spending the entire evening with Amanda while Dad was giggling over salad made me nauseous.

“Amanda, get out of my room quickly. I have to change. I’m leaving.”

“Where are you going? Are you running away?”

“Yes, of course I’m running away. I’ve made plans with the Russian circus. Would you like to be in a side show? No, you twit, I’m going out.” I pulled open the doors to my wardrobe and stared instead. What was I supposed to wear?

“On a date?”

“Yes, on a bleeding date!” I shouted. I shoved her out the door and into the hallway, watching her face fall with each step. “Dad! I’m going out!”

“With who?” Dad’s face came characteristically peeking around the corner. “I thought you were sick of the girls.”

“Liam Denters.”

He nearly dropped the pot holders. “Liam Denters? The Beater for Puddlemere United? Is it safe to say…”

“Oliver and I broke up? Yeah. That’s safe.”

Dad frowned. “Sorry, Pumpkin. I did like him, though, which is strange since you can’t date until you’re thirty-five.” He paused for a moment and Amanda walked past him with an extremely put-out expression on her face. “Unless it’s Liam Denters. You can date Liam Denters. Blimey, my daughter. I can’t believe how popular you are in the Quidditch world.”

I smiled. “I’ll be home early, Dad, don’t worry.”

“Have fun, love!”

I shut the bedroom door and locked that sucker so fast it wasn’t remotely humorous. Then I tore apart my room like I did just before I started dating Oli—who cared? I was going out for drinks and dancing with Liam Denters and Oliver Wood could just snack on that for lunch.





To my surprise, I wasn’t as nervous Apparating into Diagon Alley to meet Liam as I was previous times in situations I would not mention in my internal thoughts. I checked myself one final time in a public loo and smoothed out my hair. I reckoned I looked rather lovely, especially since I was wearing a dress I hadn’t worn before. It was pink with purple abstract floral accents and I loved it.

I confidently pulled open the bar’s door and told the hostess who I was meeting. She smiled warmly and just from her pristinely ironed clothes I knew I was in an expensive cocktail establishment. She led me through a few rooms full of wizards in ties and witches laughing over pink drinks and back into a private room shielded by frosted glass doors. There were plush sofas everywhere and the lighting was dimmed further. I spotted Liam toward the back away from most of the posh people, sipping on something. I still couldn’t identify rubbish with alcohol.

Liam stood immediately when he saw me coming and gave a little bow while kissing the back of my hand. Shivers ran down my spine. “Jane Perry, you look absolutely breathtaking.”

I smiled. “Thanks. You look quite well yourself. Fancy place.” I sat down on the velvet sofa next to him and placed an order for an Amaretto sour.

“I’m glad you like it. I don’t come here often but the service is lovely and the privacy is nice. This seemed like perfect occasion even if the name doesn’t quite scream elegance.” Liam was a very handsome man with light hair and light eyes. He matched most of the other wizards in suits and ties, though his tie was yellow with little white polka dots.

I put my drink on a cloth napkin and turned to him. What was I supposed to say? I dated your teammate, Liam. I dated him and fell in love with him and then I threw a lipgloss display at his head and nearly killed him. And I enjoyed every second of it. No, that didn’t seem like proper drink conversation.

“So tell me more about yourself,” Liam said daringly. “You found out all about my silly Hufflepuff antics at the World Cup. Tell me about you. All I know is that you dated Wood and he wouldn’t tell us a single thing about you because he’s such a protective bloke. Oh, and I know you’ll be a seventh year. End my misery, Jane, tell me what you’re like.”

I very nearly blushed. I had never been so courted in my entire life—he seemed to live on my every word as I told him about my three best mates and our insane Quidditch antics and how I made reserve after falling seemingly to my death, only to have Ellis hexed before the final.

“How horribly ironic,” he said with a laugh. Blimey, the bloke was attractive. I internally demanded to know why Quidditch men were so gorgeous. Was there something in their food? The air? Why didn’t all Quidditch blokes look like that, then? Why were the Slytherin Quidditch players just as ugly as the rest of their mucky house?

“It was terrible,” I breathed. “I threw up several times and even found myself in the hospital wing trying to shake the git awake.”

“And you had to play then?”

“Had to get out there on a broom and catch a Snitch.” I hadn’t laughed like that in a while. “Oh, it was horrible though. The crowd was just too much—most of the Gryffindors didn’t even support us because they didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t really blame them, I didn’t think I could either.”

“That was around the time Wood got the offer from Brazil, right?”

I nodded, my jaw twitching slightly. “Yeah, he got all the way there and then came back for the Final.”

“What a man of his word—I’m sure he came back for you though, am I right? You have quite an impact over the male population.” Liam beamed.

I flushed. “So I’ve heard.” I allowed the waitress to get me another drink. “But somehow I managed to catch the Snitch and lift the Cup all without falling flat on my face—I even managed an offer from the Tornadoes.”

“No way! Jane, that brilliant!” He reached out and put his hand on mine. It was warm and Liam smelled like cocoa and mint.

“Yeah, I mean I turned it down and all that, but it was nice to know I could get offers just like my mates.”

“I bet you deserved it.” His smile was damn near intoxicating. His bright eyes twinkled in the most fairy tale way and it could have been the alcohol but I was smiling as well. “So no pro Quidditch career as of yet, then? What are your plans for after old Hoggy Warts?”

I wondered what he looked like with his shirt off.

“I’m thinking about being a Quidditch writer or go into Quidditch management,” I said, suddenly sheepish as if a star of the game would look down on my sport-less future.

“Oh, that’s wonderful! I know a few of the best writers—heard of Ryan Miller? Man’s a genius. He always gets a different angle and he can down a firewhiskey faster than you can sip on a cocktail, that’s for sure. Great man. Oh, I just had lunch with Valerie Gig too. She’s starting up a magazine column about the Appleby Arrows. Fascinating things going on in the Quidditch World in terms of writing.”

“So am I just another dinner conversation?” I said playfully. Blimey, I was flirting! Look at me go! “Should I take a number and tell you what I’m working on before school. I actually have a bit of a journal…”

Liam chuckled. “There is a big difference between you and my other lunch functions. They seek me out, make appointments for interviews and chats to catch up, and they usually pay. I owled you completely out of the blue, I invited you to a fancy cocktail lounge, I am supplying all of the beverages which I can see you enjoy, and I am the one taking a wee bit of a fancy to you, Jane Perry.” He looked a bit flushed, but I could tell he was completely calm.

“I’m glad to know I’m not just another number in your evening.”

“You’re the only number in my evening,” Liam replied softly. His hair looked soft and his lips were just…well, they were lips anyway. “I don’t understand how Wood could let you get away like that.”

“Let’s not talk about him.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve mucked it up—sorry, Jane. Listen, let’s move on to the next segment of our evening and I can make it completely up to you. And before we leave, don’t let me forget to give you a bunch of names and numbers. Why have connections if they can’t be used, am I right?”

“You are very right.” I smiled and took his arm.

“Good. You’re going to absolutely love this.” Liam sounded so suave and debonair and he looked the part. I silently reminded myself I was out with Liam Denters and I was the luckiest girl in Diagon Alley.

I also took a private moment to mentally sneer at all those silly Quidditch daughters, including red-dress Bridget and even for a brief moment Libby. She just bugged me was all.

“I’m excited,” I said, taking the arm he offered as we left The Horse Hoof and made our way laughing down the cobbled street. I was a little drunk at that point, clutching to him to keep myself from stumbling and he snickered, placing another arm around my waist. It was warm and I did not move it.

I wasn’t even aware of the nightlife in Diagon Alley before that point. Why would I be, I supposed? There were people everywhere laughing and continuing on to their next destination and people perched on benches deep on conversation and a few people snogging up against buildings.

“Here we are!” Liam said cheerfully. Why wasn’t he more drunk? He should be.

He was dishy. I looked up.

“Flourish and Blotts?” I said, staring at the sign.

“No, dunderhead, not Flourish and Blotts.” He chuckled and led me into a door to the right. “It’s a dinner and dancing venue upstairs.”

“Dancing! Oh, lovely!” Usually I would have stuck my nose up at the first mention of dancing (to which Katie would have practically thrown herself on the dance floor in a waltz), but at the moment all I wanted to do was hear Liam’s voice.

“I’m glad you think so,” he said.

The upstairs was enormous and tables were filled everywhere. Most of them were large round tables, but we were seated toward the dance floor at a nice candle-lit table with white napkins (George should have just picked white) and crisp chair covers. There was an enormous crystal chandelier hovering in the center of the room, up toward the exposed wood beams and at the head of the room was a large orchestra.

“This is wonderful,” I whispered as Liam pulled out my chair. I couldn’t stop looking around. “I can’t believe I never knew this place was here.”

“It combines several of the downstairs units to have one second floor. Quite a good investment I think, especially for all the wealthy wizards living in London.”

“Do you live in London?” I asked.

“Actually, no. I live down south by the channel. It’s a bit more peaceful there, but I did live in London for a couple years. I wanted to live closer to Puddlemere. That, and I love the country life.”

“So do you have a little cottage and drink coffee on your back deck in the morning?”

“Throw in a Daily Prophet and you have my routine down to a pin.” Liam laughed warmly as a waiter showed up to my left.

“Mr. Denters, so good to see you! We haven’t seen you in here in quite a while. Ah, not with Nancy I see.”

I watched Liam’s jaw stiffen. “No, thank you, Ed. I’m glad to be back. I think we’ll start with a bottle of champagne. What do you think, Jane?”

“Sounds lovely.” I watched the waiter amble away to help another table and my attention turned back to my date. “Pardon my asking, but who’s Nancy?” I didn’t want to sound like I was sticking my nose too far into his business, but the waiter did seem to know him and he was obviously usually accompanied by this Nancy woman.

“She’s my ex,” he said, visibly pained by the explanation. “We were together for almost five years. She’s the reason I moved down by the channel—she hated the city. I wasn’t too fond either, but she had a passion for the English countryside. We moved there and six months later she was shagging the production manager of some reality television show who was vacationing down there. Caught them in the garden shed.”

I stared for a moment, unsure of quite what to do.

“Don’t feel bad, though. I found out later she never even wanted kids or a family and was on birth potion the entire time we were trying.” He shrugged a bit and fumbled with his napkin. “That’s good, though, I was too young for that. I’m still young, now, mind you. Only twenty-three.”

I reached over and touched his hand. “It’s for the best, then, huh?”

“It’s for the best. And you’re my lovely date now so order anything you want. I promise the champagne will be just as strong as your sour.”

I took a moment to glance over the menu and the choices looked exquisite and fancy, something I was not altogether used to, especially with Oliver taking me to diners and eating tuna in his living room. My eyes scanned down to the drinks since it was there and hovered over the four types of red wine imported from France.

I shook my head. No. I was not going to think about that smarmy git on my date with complete dish Liam Denters. He was a famous Quidditch Star, by the way, Oliver. People recognized him. He could afford things like fancy dinners and dancing and treating a woman to more than just tuna.

Not that I didn’t like tuna, I was just making an example.

“You okay, love?”

My head snapped up. “Oh, yes, of course. There are just so many choices.” While I was in the mysterious land inside my head, the champagne had been poured and the waiter was (strangely enough) waiting for me to place my order. I nearly blushed and looked back to the menu, quickly ordering a kind of risotto.

“The food will take a while—would you care to dance with me?” Liam extended his hand.

I beamed, setting my napkin down and taking a quick sip of champagne. Taking his hand, we made our way onto the dance floor which was littered with couples swaying to the beautiful orchestra music. He took my hand in his and slid another around my waist and I hadn’t danced like that before—so perfect. He led me in twirls around the floor and I could tell immediately Liam knew exactly what he was doing.

I was laughing and enjoying myself—something I hadn’t really done since the summer began and something I nearly forgot how to do. How could I let myself become so swept up in negative emotions? I was Jane Perry for Merlin’s sake. I was all about laughter and fun and taking life as it came.

I was all about winging it. Lately, I hadn’t been winging it at all. I was dwelling and focusing and doing things that were very unlike me.

I let Liam twirl me and dip me and I laughed, letting a bit of the champagne take over my balance. “I would like to see you in your country environment,” I said, chuckling.

“You would love it,” he replied, pulling me a bit closer. I could feel his tie against me. “It’s so peaceful and I’ve taken up painting recently which is a rather nice hobby to have when you have so much countryside to express.”

“Makes perfect sense.” The music slowed for a moment and I pressed my head to his shoulder. It reminded me of dancing in the Gryffindor common room, sweaty from searching for Roger and letting Oliver steer me around the floor. I remember how tight his grip was, how safe it was. I remember how he smelled and the darkness of his eyes I couldn’t figure out.

“Oh, our food was just put out—would you like to eat and soak up some of that alcohol?”

I smiled and we made our way back to the table. I stared down at the risotto, which looked amazing, but it was about a third of my usual serving size and it stared back at my tauntingly. “So is there bread to go with this?”

“Unfortunately not.” Liam made a face. “It’s a rather small portion, but that’s what you always get with these fairly ritzy places. I hope it’s enough—if it’s not we can stop by the pub on the way back and get a few things off the grill.”

“Now you’re talking.” I ate the risotto fairly quickly, feeling less wobbly, and finished off my drink. “I’m having a lovely time, you know.”

“It looks like you are.” Liam’s face was a little flushed and for the first time that night he looked a little nervous. “Can I ask you a question?”

I stretched out my fingers under the table. “Sure.”

“Okay, this might be completely out of the blue and I’ll totally understand if you say no,” Liam said. He was speaking faster now, which I found completely adorable and it reminded me of after the Quidditch Final when—no. No, it didn’t. I turned off my brain to listen. “I’m going to this fundraiser dinner in a couple days and it might just be painfully boring if I don’t have someone beautiful and funny to keep my company. So I was thinking you might be interested.”

“Fundraiser? For what?” I asked, taking another sip of my drink.

“It’s a charity thing to raise money for St. Mungos. A few of the teams in England are donating things and people can bid on them. Oh, there’s dancing and dinner too.” Liam smiled. “What do you say? Sound too boring for you?”

“Oh, it sounds boring but it also sounds lovely. I’d be honored.”

He kissed my hand. “You’re wonderful, thank you. It’ll be fun, I promise. And now.” He checked the tiny watch in his pocket. “Would you care for some real food in the pub?”

“I want something greasy I think.”

Liam paid, left a sizable tip, and we rushed back down the stairs. It was chilly in the alley and I held my dress down with my arms so the snoggers we passed wouldn’t get a free show. He pulled open the door to The Leaky Cauldron for me and ordered a platter while I picked a comfortable booth in the corner. It was warm and cozy behind beige candles and when Liam came back with an entire plate full of appetizer samples I nearly forgot to pick up my fork before digging in.

“I like a girl who can eat,” he said cheerfully, dipping tortilla chips into spinach artichoke dip. “And yet you can’t tell you eat anything—has anyone ever told you your legs are absolutely stunning?”

“A few people might have mentioned it.” I smiled into my food.

“I’m sorry, that must be the alcohol talking. I’m not usually this…well, perverted, during dinner.”

“It’s an appetizer so that makes it all right.” I laughed and he visibly relaxed. It was nice being with someone who appreciated me even though we barely knew each other. It seemed like he cared about what I thought and what I was like, which was a huge change. Okay, it wasn’t that huge of a change but I felt as if it was at that point so that’s what I was sticking with.

For now.





I was all smiles as Liam walked me up to the flat door telling me all about Puddlemere’s season last year and how much they lost but loved playing so they didn’t care. They planed barbeques at each other’s houses and played pranks in the locker rooms, something that sounded oddly like Fred and George.

We paused at my door. “This is me,” I said delicately. I found myself fumbling with the trim on my dress.

“I had a really great time,” Liam said softly. “Thanks for coming out with me.”

“I enjoyed it. Thanks for not judging me based on Wood.” I chanced a laugh. Where were my keys? Stupid bleeding purse.

“Sorry to bring it up, but he was an idiot to let you go. But I’m done talking about it.” His eyes were doing that sparkly thing again and I convinced myself it was just from the wall sconces behind me. No, they were definitely sparkling.

Keys, keys! Where the hell were you? Here keys!

Liam leaned closer.

Effin’ keys! I ruffled around in the purse only to come up with mints and a tampon. I stuffed that quickly back inside.

I was practically pinned against the door.

He smiled warmly. I liked the way he smelled.

Our lips were inches apart and his breath smelled like champagne and mints which was rather intoxicating. He closed his eyes.

My hand closed around my compass keychain.

I shifted my head to the side and made a dive for the door handle. “Can’t wait for the fundraiser dinner! Good night, Liam! Thanks!” I rushed inside and shut it the door before I could get a good look at his puzzled expression.

I sank against the wall and let my breath out. Blimey. Was I completely mad? Dishy delicious Liam Denters was about to plant a snog on me and I ran for it! What sort of girl was I?

After breathing for a few minutes I allowed myself a smile. I went on a fantastic date with Liam. With the Beater of Puddlemere United. I had an amazing time twirling on the dance floor and sampling chips in the pub, all while laughing with someone who enjoyed my company.

All in all, pretty incredible evening. It was an added bonus I would be going on a second date in only a couple days.

I waved a dazed good-night to Dad, who was washing up the empty kitchen, and snuggled into my blankets with a grin lighting up my face. That was until I saw a note taped to my pillow reading I’ll have the skirt back tomorrow afternoon. Thanks, Janey! from Amanda and I threw it across the room.








A/N: First comes first. Liam. Is gorgeous. Anyone agree? Break me off a piece of that.

I want to say thanks again for the truly amazing reviews. You lot make me so happy and give me so many extra completely random ideas, it's awesome. So what does everyone think is going to happen? Favorite quotes? Love Liam? Hate his sodding GUTS?

What do you want to throw Amanda off of? I'm thinking the Empire State Building since she seems so keen on American boys.


Next chapter: time to raise funds!


Chapter 19: Cheese to go with that Wine?
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This chapter is dedicated to every reviewer who helped this sequel
surpass its original story in reviews. You all are so amazing! Enjoy!

Edit: Quickly wanted to mention the overwhelming response on how to
dispose of Amanda Beckett in the reviews from last chapter. I think we're
all rather horrible, haha. Only joking, she'd be deserving...right?










I knew right away I would need reinforcements. There was no way I would be able to pick out the perfect dress for the fundraiser dinner without help. Who cared if I owned several dresses that would fit the part? This was important. It was a dinner for the Quidditch community and I was going with Liam Denters.

That was why I went to the dress store armed with Alicia, Katie, Angelina, and of course Roger Davies. I didn’t intend on originally inviting Roger because I was sure it wasn’t his thing, but after receiving another letter detailing this girl and how she didn’t know he existed, I felt it was necessary.

“I know girls like certain cuts, but Jane, you’ve tried that dress on three times.” Roger smiled at me when I twirled in my fifth dress just outside the fitting room. We were alone in a little boutique Lou told me about (Yes, Lou was telling me about boutiques) and I felt comfortable with the floral wallpaper and lounge chairs.

“That is completely different than the last,” Katie said. Things were (thank Merlin) back to normal between us since she apologized for being a twit. In return I promised to listen to her rant about George. Not that I wanted to. “It has a longer bottom. The last barely went to her knees.”

“Oh, I remember that one,” Roger said with a sly grin. I smacked him on the arm.

“Do we like it?”

“No,” said Angelina. “It’s not better than the second one.”

“The second was rubbish!” cried Alicia, dodging a hit from Ang. “The third was pure sex. You’ll have the boys jumping all over you.”

“Is that what I want at a fundraiser dinner?” I asked.

“That’s what you always want, what are you talking about?”

I smiled. “On to the next dress.” I shut the door behind me and stared at the three I had left. Picking a dress for a fundraiser was harder than I thought it would be.

“I feel like I’m the audience right now,” Angelina said and I heard the ruffle of magazine pages. “I want to go to a fancy dinner to raise money for something. Jane, tell me again how you seemed to woo Liam Denters and none of us did? I quite remember laughing at his jokes and I didn’t get a letter.”

“It wasn’t broadcasted you were single in Quidditch Weekly,” I replied, snickering. It seemed almost so long ago stealing the magazine and ripping it open to the article. Laughable even. I was so ridiculous at times. “Let’s change the subject though, I get nervous when I think about the whole Quidditch World being there.”

“Okay, let’s talk about Dodger and his girl love,” Alicia said loudly and Roger made a disgruntled noise.

“I figured now Hogwarts is over people would stop calling me that,” he said, but I could hear the twinge of a smile in his voice. “And so now I’m not going to tell you about her at all.”

“You’d better!” I said through the door, fighting with the zipper on a pretty brown dress.

“She’s a girl,” he said.

“Oh, good start.”

Roger chuckled. “I don’t know what you want me to tell you. She fancies one of the Magpies players so she’s not into the reserve team.”

“And is this Magpies player dishy?” asked Alicia.

“I don’t—he’s married!”

I stuck my head out of the door. “So she’s going after a married man?”

“She’s not going after him—you’ve got my words all mucked up. She fancies him because he’s a good looking bloke but she’s never made a move or anything. That just means she doesn’t eye anybody else at the moment.”

“Maybe you should step into her line of view,” said Katie slyly.

“It would probably annoy her.”

Katie snorted. “Have you even tried?”

I pushed the door all the way open and modeled the brown dress, but I didn’t think anyone was paying much attention considering Katie was kneeling on her chair to look at Roger and his face was flushed red.

“Well, no,” he said.

“You’re going to have to,” Ang said, leaning over Katie. “She’s never going to think you’re interested if you just sit back and watch.”

“Why is this turning into a counseling center stay?”

I laughed. “Why is this turning into relationship advice instead of Jane-dress-examination?”

Katie’s head flew around. “Jane, I love that one. Makes your figure look great, but it’s graceful. Now Roger, you need to ask her a question first—ask her where the dining area is even if you already know.”

“Won’t I seem like a bit of a git?”

“She’ll notice you and want to help,” Alicia chimed in. “Great dress, Jane. I like how simple and sexy it is.”

“I agree, I love the cut,” said Ang. “Seriously, though, she’ll recognize you when she sees you again at functions. I think she’ll approach you because let’s face it, Roger, you’re quite the handsome guy. I can say that now that you and Jane aren’t together. But if she doesn’t approach you then you can go thank her for the directions or something.”

He made a skeptical face, squirming slightly in the yellow pleather seats. “I don’t know.”

The girls glanced back up at me.

“You’re getting that one, right?” Ang said.

It wasn’t exactly the revelation I wanted over a dress since I expected the stars to align when I tried on the right one, but I had to admit I did fancy it quite a lot. I nodded. “As long as Roger agrees to at least talk to the girl.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to her. It won’t work, but I’ll talk to her.”

I rolled my eyes and shut myself back into the fitting room. Pulling off the dress, I listened to them argue back and forth about different things and about past experiences with approaching people when it truly paid off.

“Didn’t it work for you before?” Alicia said. “When you said something to Jane in the Entrance Hall or whatever?”

He paused. “I guess you’re right. I think it was a different situation considering I’d known her for six years. Has it ever happened to any of you?”

“I always sort of fancied Fred so when he came up to me after a Quidditch match and attached himself to my face…well, I was expecting it.” I could almost feel the heat off Ang’s face from behind the door.

I placed the dress on a hanger and stood back to admire it. Sodding dress was more trouble than it was worth. Expensive bugger too.

“Yeah, it worked for Lee though in a way. I had no idea the boy liked me. Came a little out of nowhere.” Alicia laughed. “I wish I could see him, though. I miss the jerk.”

The room went a little quiet. Katie cleared her throat. “I’m not really sure what that’s like. George and I…it was different.”

Quiet again.

I broke the silence by opening the door with an arm full of dresses to put on the “not getting” pile I was so fond of by that time. I held up the chocolate brown dress. “Are we ready to head out, then? It’s almost noon.”

“It’s your own fault you didn’t pick a dress until the day of the fundraiser,” said Ang.

They stood up and followed me to the register, weaving in and out of interesting shirts and bleach-stained jeans. I parked myself by the window and the smiley cashier started to ring up the dress. She continued to smile. I felt awkward.

I chanced a glance back to see Ang and Alicia both staring out of the corners of their eyes at Katie. I followed, nearly shocked to see the girl partially in silent tears. Then I followed her stare, which led me to a blatantly obvious display in the front window of a very bohemian style wedding dress with white layers and a lace trim.

Well, fuck.

“Katie, come here and look at this,” Roger said, putting his hand on Katie’s shoulder. “Tell me if I would look good in a shirt like this because a few people on the team said I would but they might have been being sarcastic and I just couldn’t decide.” He steered her away toward a display by the door and I let my breath escape.

The girls and I exchanged glances and I paid for the dress. Stupid expensive bugger dress that I was going to look absolutely stunning in.

I felt bad Katie was nearly crying over the wedding dress, but part of me had no idea what to say. There was nothing to say. They were her emotions and she needed to sort through them on her own. I couldn’t tell her to talk to George, especially since she convinced herself she hated his Weasley guts.

Ang coughed a bit and leaned over. “Fred tells me Mrs. Weasley is peeved at Katie.”

“I’m sure she doesn’t have the whole story,” Alicia said.

“I should right hope not—I guess George has been basically insane this whole last week. Fred said now he’s going through anger and denial. What a rollercoaster guy.”

“Who knew George was capable of such emotion?” I said with a laugh, careful to keep my voice down. “Are you sure you can’t head back to my place while I get ready?”

“Sorry. Fred and I are meeting in secret. He’s told George he’s getting gardening supplies because apparently the boy’s taken up gardening.” Angelina rolled her eyes and glanced over her shoulder at Roger and Katie. “And Katie said she’s spending the evening with her mum and dad since he finally got back from his trip. It’ll be good for her. I think.”

“Wish it was good for me to spend time with my ‘rents,” Alicia said thoughtfully. “But maybe it’s good I’m not because I get to help Jane adjust her blush and tell her she looks fat in her dress. And we’ll have Roger there for good company.”

“I wish he was actually on the Magpies so he’d be at the dinner,” I said, recounting the change the cashier handed me back and taking the bag. “I might need familiar faces to help me through this one.”

“Isn’t it exciting, though?” Alicia said, leading the way back over to Katie and Roger. “You’re going to be eating dinner with some of the most famous names in Quidditch. I’ll bet Bastian will be there.”

I surveyed her.

“Not that I care or anything—he’s a right dishy bloke, no matter if I turned him down or not.”

I nodded. “Too right you are. Ready Katie? Roger? I think it’s time to finally start getting ready for this shin dig.”

“I think I should take your place with Liam,” said Alicia, pushing open the door with both hands. “Just because you said the phrase, shin dig.”





I was glad Dad wasn’t there right away when I got home so I had the place to myself with Roger and Alicia and when I changed into the dress and twirled around both were much more taken with it than in the fitting room. At least this time we weren’t discussing Roger’s dating diary. Or Charms journal. No, I wasn’t thinking about that.

“It’s really rather stunning,” Alicia said, taking a walk around me and admiring the detail work.

I stared in the mirror beside my window. I liked the way it swooped below my knees with tight seam stitches mixed in with the dark brown and I kept looking at the top cut showing off my collar bones. Paired with beige heels it seemed almost perfect, but not trying to be perfect. Not like Bridget’s red dress and lipstick from the World Cup. Honestly, who wears that to a Quidditch match?

Not me because Quidditch and I were broken up.

“So,” Roger said, hoisting himself up to sit on my desk. “Katie’s still majorly hung up, huh?”

“Like it’s going out of style,” Alicia said, huffing loudly. “I’m not sure when she’s going to come to her senses. Every time I try to help she gets crazy with me. I think we should devise a plan.”

“A plan? Can we wait until I at least get back from the fundraiser dinner? I think I need to plan for that.”

“Good idea!” Alicia threw her index finger in the air. “We’ll make some sort of plan to get them together for a … shin dig, as Jane would say.” She paused and watched Roger for a minute until he shot her a quizzical stare. “It’s not weird for you to be mates with Jane after snogging her senseless for a few months?”

“Not really,” he said, smiling. “Though the snogging was ace, I have to say.”

“I do try,” I said cheerfully.

“No, though, it’s not. I could tell neither of us were really one hundred percent in anyway. It’s better we can be friends and be one hundred percent invested this way, you know? We do get on quite well outside of the relationship thing. Plus, it was obvious she fancied Wood way more than me.”

I tightened my lips, not wanting to say anything, and Alicia changed the subject back to Katie. He was right, of course I fancied Wood more. But now—no way. Even though I wasn’t really super attracted to Liam, I wasn’t attracted to Oliver much at first anyway because he was a git, so who was to say I couldn’t fall for Liam Denters? I could. I just needed to spend more time with him. I liked that he was a country boy at heart too. Not all dinner and dancing.

So eventually I could start to fancy him.

“Jane!”

I couldn’t stop the groan from escaping as Amanda Beckett came flying into my room with a shit-eating grin on her face and my skirt in hand. Alicia quickly formed her laugh into a cough and Roger stared fairly rudely with his jaw hanging open.

Bugger, I hadn’t told them about dear Amanda. How she came from Lou I’d never know.

“How simply amazing to see you!” she shrieked at the level only dogs could understand. I did too but that wasn’t the point. The point was she was annoying.

“Erm, hi, Amanda,” I said casually yet stiffly. “These are my friends Alicia and Roger.”

“Oh, friends of Jane!” cried Amanda, slamming the door shut. “Ones from your school in America?”

Alicia turned her laugh into a hacking cough this time.

“Actually no, friends from around here,” I replied quickly.

“Why are you wearing that dress? Do you have a whole other stash I don’t know about?” Amanda giggled and I cracked my knuckles in a masculine way.

“Alicia—Roger, this is Amanda. Lou’s daughter.”

“Roger, huh?” Amanda said, nearly stepping on my toes to get to where Roger sat on my desk. “How do you know Jane? She’s quite interesting, don’t you think? I’m going to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Fancy anything?”

“Water is fine,” Roger said, trying to disguise his smile. Amanda rushed from the room, throwing my skirt onto the bed and slamming the door.

“A stiff scotch,” I muttered, letting out a huge sigh. “Cliff notes,” I said quickly. “Amanda is Lou’s daughter, she’s a Muggle so no wand-whipping, She’s bleeding crazy and thinks she needs to be bonking at fourteen and she thinks I go to a school in America so let’s just stick to that, shall we?”

Alicia laughed. “And she’s obviously quite taken with Dodger.”

“I’m going to throw you out the window,” Roger said, laughing. “Quit calling me that.”

“All right, Dodger,” she said cheerfully. “Wish the little git would have gotten me a water. I’m practically parched.”

I rolled my eyes, adjusting the straps to the dress as Amanda flew back into the room with Roger’s drink. “So I’m thinking hair down, what do you think?”

“Where do you go to school, Roger?” Amanda said loudly.

“Yes, Jane,” Alicia said. “You look sexy with your hair down.”

“Are you a lesbian?” Amanda spat out wearing a wide-eyed expression of curiosity.

Alicia choked on her nonexistent water. “What a good conversation piece,” she said darkly. “You really have no manners, you know that?”

“Are you though?”

Roger coughed loudly. “I’ve actually graduated so I’m not longer in school,” he said. “Wear your hair down, Jane. It looks good. I’m thinking natural makeup too.”

“Are you a lesbian?” said Alicia, laughing. Amanda gave her a dark look. “Really, I don’t know what hair opinions have to do with sexuality. Anyway, do you need help with jewelry?”

I nodded and Amanda practically snuggled up next to Roger. He was looking awkward.

After doing all my makeup by hand (usually I at least used my wand for the mascara) and giving me hair volume by shaking the bleeding hell out of it, I stood back and smiled. I looked good. I was even down to not snapping at Amanda every few minutes since Roger obviously felt bad for the poor girl.

I wanted to shove her down the stairs to twitch with Bridget and Libby.

Just as I was about to lead her out to the building staircase, Dad poked his head in the door and I put my plan on hold. Instead, I smiled warmly.

“Pumpkin, you look stunning,” he said, grinning. “What time are you leaving?”

“Liam should be here soon; I’m not sure when.” I shrugged and turned back toward the mirror. I almost wished I was more nervous.

“Liam, who’s Liam?” said Amanda loudly.

“Amanda, why don’t you come out here and watch a movie with your mom and me?” Dad said, using his Dad-dar to figure out how much I wanted to kick her.

“I want to hang out with Jane.”

“That means she wants to hang out with Roger,” Alicia muttered.

“I’ll be back later, Amanda. Thanks for hanging out while I got ready.” I said this through gritted teeth. I convinced myself I was only being polite since my dad was standing in the doorway and he fancied the pants off Lou Beckett (bad mental image associated with that innuendo).

She pouted, shot Roger a look of pure desperation that clearly signaled she wanted him to be her lucky first when she turned fifteen, and huffed out of the room. Dad smiled and followed her out.


“She’s quite the…who am I kidding, that girl is insane,” said Roger, checking himself for signs of scarring. “For a minute there I thought she was going to just going to plant one on me. What a weird girl.”

Alicia nodded. “I felt like I didn’t exist. Which was strange. I’m not used to that. I’ll have to tell Lee about my experiences dealing with being left out.”

I laughed and turned. “Am I done?”

“You are very done,” Alicia said. “You look stunning. Maybe you’ll pick up a few more Quidditch boyfriends while you’re there. I’ll let you share with me. I’d do that. Out of the goodness of my heart.”

“Thanks so much,” I said, laughing. I was about to add something about Alicia being a home wrecker, but right when I opened my mouth Amanda came soaring through the door nearly sweating.

“Tell me that ridiculously dishy boy at the door belongs to you, Jane,” she said, breathing heavily.

Since when did Amanda say dishy?

“If it’s Liam then he doesn’t belong to me because I’m single,” I said.

“So sly, Jane! I’m going to do that too. I just won’t be in relationships—I’ll have them take me out places and spend money on me!”

“That is so not what I meant,” I muttered, nearly pressing my palm to my face. What a disaster this girl was. “Liam is here for me, Amanda. He’s taking me to a fundraiser dinner. End of story.”

“Oh! He’s out there talking to Mum and your dad. Oh, Jane, we’re practically sisters!” She rushed out again and I groaned.

“What a lousy summer,” I said gruffly, grabbing a small clutch and strapping my wand to my leg.

“Lousy summer?” Alicia said. “I don’t know how you can get off saying that. You’re going out with Liam Denters. He’s famous, you know. Like, really famous. Roger, isn’t he famous?”

“You didn’t call me Dodger,” he said shocked.

“Dodger, isn’t he famous?”

“Walked into that,” Roger mumbled, pulling open the door. “Yes, he’s famous. Are you ready, Jane? I’m going to meet this bloke.”

“Like I need your approval,” I said, laughing, but I led the way regardless and was even more taken by Liam’s goodlookingness than I was the first time I saw him.

He wore a finely pressed suit with a flower pinned to his jacket and a little emblem basically explaining he was a player. His hair wasn’t gelled or anything, which was nice, and his smile practically lit up the room. I felt Alicia nearly go rigid next to me.

Thank Merlin Amanda and Lou seemed to have vanished into the kitchen so Liam didn’t have to hold back anything, like Quidditch talk, while wooing my father.

“That’s Liam Denters,” she whispered.

“You met him at the World Cup,” I said.

“Yeah, but he wasn’t dating you at the World Cup,” she whispered back.

“Jane, hi,” said Liam, kissing my hand. I let a bit of blush creep up my cheeks. “I’ve just been talking to your dad about the Puddlemere plans. Our rebuild is coming along fantastic.”

“Liam, this is Alicia. You met her at the World Cup, she was there with me. And this is Roger. We went to school together. He played for the Ravenclaw team and is a Magpies reserve.”

“Aw, Magpies, mate?” Liam said, laughing as he shook Alicia’s and Roger’s hands. “Respectable. They had a good showing at the Cup. I do remember you, Alicia, right? Yeah, I remember arguing with you about Hufflepuff.”

“I am still no closer to understanding that sodding house,” she said.

“Ready then, Jane? I’ve left us a little extra travel time but we’re probably cutting it close.”

“Sure thing.” I smiled and hugged Alicia and turned to Roger.

“Be careful,” he mouthed, giving me a hug.

I hugged Dad too. “Keep her out of my room,” I snapped quietly. “I definitely locked my door before and she took that skirt.”

He made a face. “That would be my fault. She told me you said it was all right.”

“Lying little wench,” I muttered, but regained my smile as I turned back toward Liam. “All right, I’m ready. I’m really excited and hungry too, so I hope we can take care of that. Bye!” He pulled open the door for me and I finally let myself be a bit nervous.

“When we apparate there we’ll end up around the corner of the building because restrictions on the agreement say we can’t apparate right into the lobby. Just so you know.” Liam smiled and let me slide my arm into his as we walked down a few flights of stairs.





The first thing I wasn’t prepared for was the general fanciness of the place. The fundraiser was held in an enormous building somewhere in London with giant pillars and chandeliers in the lobby and a ridiculous amount of shiny decorations. It was gorgeous with tall ceilings and everyone gasped and oohed and ahhed when they walked in. I was a bit guilty of it and Liam smiled.

The second thing I wasn’t prepared for was the media and cameras in my face. Right when we walked in the lobby door there were ropes lining off the media with their bright orange tags and lights. I clung to Liam’s arm at one point.

“Liam, tell me about your donations for this evening,” said one reporter with a large camera.

“I’ve got twelve-hundred galleons and some Puddlemere tickets for tonight,” he said cheerfully, leaning into a magical microphone. Photos were snapping everywhere and my eyes started to hurt.

“Who do you have with you tonight?” asked another reporter.

“This is Jane Perry. She’s the Seeker for Gryffindor,” Liam said, smiling, and I blushed. “Isn’t she stunning?”

“Absolutely beautiful,” said the reporter.

Another one leaned over. “Jane Perry? Aren’t you the girl mentioned in Quidditch Weekly’s elegable bachelor section?”

My head snapped over.

“I helped edit that section. Oliver Wood’s ex, aren’t you?” he said, shoving the microphone in my face.

“I am,” I said, my voice shaking a bit.

“Moving on up in the Quidditch world?” he asked.

“I’m just the date,” I said, trying to smile. My stomach exploded in nerves.

“Tell me about what your plans are for after graduation!”

“How many times have you caught the Snitch?”

“How does Liam Denters compare to Oliver Wood?”

“Have you donated to the cause?”

Cameras were everywhere. I clutched Liam’s arm and felt his muscles flex and he answered a few more questions before steering me inside. There were several long tables under enormous chandeliers and high ceilings and the centerpieces were bouquets of violet orchids.

He led me through a fancy crowd of women laughing with champagne glasses and I felt completely out of my element. I knew I wasn’t the most sophisticated girl with a dad and a flat in London, but I felt as if I could hold my own at a fancy dinner. I spotted several forks surrounding each place setting and felt my stomach fall. Bollocks, I was positive I should use every single one of them for the same course.

There were also place settings behind every china plate with names scrawled on them in black ink. I found Liam’s almost immediately at a large table near the center of the room and mine next to it. My name looked horribly fancy and I sort of liked it.

The third thing I did not expect was to see Oliver Wood’s pompous glare from across the table. He wasn’t down the table, either, he was across it. Directly across it, looking down at his menu card while Bridget Lilion was gabbing away next to him.

Son of a batch of cookies.

“Oliver,” Liam said loudly, extending his hand over the table and Oliver shook it. “How are you? And Bridget, you’re looking lovely tonight.” He motioned to her bright carnation pink dress with frills around the neckline. It made me almost physically sick.

“Thanks, Liam. You look—holy shit.” Bridget nearly dropped her glass as her eyes found mine.

“Bridget,” Oliver said harshly since a few people glanced over at her language. He followed her eyes and proceeded to choke on champagne.

“Would you like a drink, Jane?” Liam asked, seemingly taking no notice of Oliver’s breathing problem.

“Water is fine, thank you.” I pulled out the chair and sat, now alone with Oliver and the bag of douchery herself, Bridget. I didn’t want to start anything, especially with all of the impressionable people around, so I remained silent and examined my name card.

“It’s been a while,” Bridget interjected into my examining.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“I didn’t know you were with Liam.”

“Oh.”

Oliver was staring like he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. I didn’t make eye contact. “How long have you been seeing him?”

“Do you remember that time you threw a display of jewelry at me? I do.” I smiled sweetly and Liam returned soon after with my glass of ice water in a fancy goblet.

He leaned over to talk to the person next to him, which was apparently some huge sponsor representative for the Arrows, and I made a face at the empty seat beside me. I would just have to amuse myself.

“How did you even meet him?” Oliver snapped.

I supposed I could have Oliver help me amuse myself for the time being.

“You introduced us at the World Cup.”

“Are you bleeding insane? That’s my teammate.” He looked visibly angry, which Bridget took no notice of since she was adjusting the powder on her earlobes.

“Then you’ll know all about how lovely he is.” I smiled.

“I can’t believe you.”

“Story of my life,” I muttered, placing a hand on Liam’s shoulder. He leaned over toward me. “So tell me about these people, love.” I emphasized the “love” a little bit more than I usually would and saw Oliver twitch.

He explained all about the sponsors and players’ families and people who donated in order to get a place at a table, though they were usually stuffed near the back as per society rules. I laughed at his jokes, put a hand on his arm playfully, and ordered which food I would like while talking about the Tornadoes’ season.

“Red or white wine, ma’am?” A waiter appeared over me, hovering several bottles of wine and a tray of glasses.

My eyes snapped to Oliver’s accidentally and I found him not leaving my gaze. Instead, I switched back to Liam and said, “white.” When I tasted it I suppressed the urge to spit the mouthful out. It was disgusting, but I drank it anyway.

I watched him make his way around the table, Liam ordering white as well and the sponsor bloke ordering a blackberry wine. Bridget ordered white “because of her complexion”.

“Red or white wine, Mr. Wood?” said the waiter.

He caught my glance again, anger in his eyes. I watched him, unable to tear my eyes away and force myself to pay attention to exactly what Liam was saying. It was something about bartering on pirate ships or something to that nature.

The fourth thing I was not prepared for was for Oliver to pick red wine with a somber expression on his face and deep into his brown eyes.








A/N: First of all I wanted to say a quick sorry for being delayed on this one. Training turned out to be a tad more demanding than I thought it would when I was only coming to my room to sleep and change clothes quick during the day. After two weeks, my room still isn't completely unpacked which should give you an idea of what life has been like for me.

I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to those of you who nominated me for a Dobby. I am so overwhelmed and amazed, so thank you! After reading all of those I knew I had to crank out this chapter before the queue closure since I can't post even though I'm a TA. So thank you again. I really can't believe it :)

Also, about the chapter. Oliver reentered the picture...what do you think? How about Liam? And Roger? All of Jane's leading men in one chapter. I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the hottness in this chapter. And there will be plenty of hotness in the next chapter too. What to do with ourselves?

Lastly, I want to seriously flip out for a moment (in a good way) because there were 80 reviews  (as of now) on the last chapter (18) of this story. Holy CRAP! Thank you SO much. I've only ever had that much when Oliver snogged Jane falling off her broom in Keep Away and the very last chapter...so it really means a lot to me.

Gah, sorry for Godzilla author note! I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Would you rather.... (a) date Liam (b) date Roger (c) throw Amanda off something tall


Chapter 20: Linked Umbrella
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This chapter is for everyone who corresponded with me during my absence.
Thank you for helping me keep it together.
Author note to follow <3 ENJOY!






Even though I had no idea if I was using the right fork, dinner was fantastic. I had to stop myself from shoving the entire prime rib in my mouth and I left the white wine sitting there awkwardly because it was disgusting. Liam talked about the different prizes being auctioned off and asked me if I wanted anything.

Well, since he mentioned it, a free subscription to Quidditch Weekly wasn’t exactly frowned upon. Just saying.

“It’s yours,” he said cheerfully, taking a sip of his wine. “Just for being my lovely date. Thanks again for coming.”

“I’m having a great time,” I said.

“Just wait until after dinner drinks. I have a surprise for you.”

“Is it a pony? A pony would just send this evening over the top.” I playfully jabbed him in the arm and he laughed. Someone struck him up in conversation on his other side.

I poked at my dinner, sitting there in all its leafy goodness on the plate in front of me. Music played gently in the background over the dull rumble of voices. It was nice to eat without the camera flashes.

“You do love Quidditch Weekly, don’t you?” Bridget said from across the table. She barely poked at any of her food. The amount of exposed collar bone I could see was making me ill.

“Since I like Quidditch, I like it by extension.” I forced the white wine down.

“I expect you’ve seen the articles lately—there have been quite a few about Oliver.”

“I’m sure he loves all the press attention.” I picked up a different fork just for the hell of it.

“He loves being famous. Only the truly talented can handle it.”

She baited me. I took it. It was Bridget after all, how could I pass it up? “Too bad you’re a no-name then. Famous by mummy and daddy. It’s a shame. You have my sympathies.”

Her face flushed and I swore I saw Oliver smirk out of the corner of my eye. He was a twat though and I didn’t care about his smirking capabilities. He was probably having a stroke or something.

“I always knew Wood liked the limelight,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “It’s the way he always puts himself first and pushes himself in front of the camera. Oh, and the way he has a flawless life. That makes him perfect, you know?”

“Too perfect for you,” she snapped.

Surprisingly, I felt the jab.

“Bridget, stop talking to Perry. Understand sarcasm before you go up against it,” Oliver muttered.

“Clearly perfect,” I said coolly. I leaned my head on Liam’s shoulder. “I’m going to excuse myself for a moment, okay, love?”

He smiled warmly. “Sure thing. When you get back we’re dancing though. I can’t let your loveliness go to waste without showing it off to everyone in the room. I can already feel the jealousy.”

I laughed, kissing him lightly on the cheek. Oliver’s gaze met mine, but I ignored it and weaved through tables. There were so many people I knew there—so many Quidditch stars I saw in magazines and read about. I saw a few players from the Tornadoes at the table to the left, only recognizing them by the World Cup they placed delicately on the table next to them. How modest.

The bathroom was as elaborately decorated as the rest of the hall. It had a separate powder room with a large sofa and matching chairs facing a wall of mirrors, another room with sinks and baskets filled with patterned cloth and things like safety pins and lotion, and then the actual bathroom itself. I faced a mirror, tugging at my eyes to adjust my mascara.

Another woman came in and excused herself into the sink room. I stared straight ahead. Why were my eyes brown? Who knew? Why was I sitting in the loo contemplating the color of my eyes? Because I was bored eating and shooting lines at Bridget. She was too dumb for her own good sometimes. I should have enrolled her in classes of some sort. She needed them.

I couldn’t believe Oliver was sitting in front of me. What was he playing at? Just sitting there all…Quidditchy and whatnot. He looked so angry at the thought of me coming with Liam. And then somber. I hated that look. He seemed so down. So stretched.

It was his own fault. He was the one who invited Bludgers for Brains Bridget.

The woman came back into the lounge room and positioned herself next to me at the mirror. She took out eyeliner and adjusted her own makeup.

Panicking, I tried to put on more mascara, only to make a line up the side of my cheek. “Bollocks,” I muttered, grabbing a tissue to wipe it off.

“You’re here with Liam Denters, aren’t you?” the woman asked softly. She was older, somewhere in her forties, and smiled with the corners of her green eyes. Her dress was simple and black, but for some reason she looked like she ran the place.

“Yes, I am.” I smiled. I was comfortable, but petrified. The thought of being cornered in the loo hadn’t struck me before.

“I’m so terribly rude—I’m Valerie Gig.” She reached out.

I shook her hand, now visibly numb. “Valerie Gig? As in…Valerie Gig?” I stammered a bit, but I didn’t care.

“The very same. Call me Valerie though, it’s far more pleasant than the two put together.” She chuckled.

Valerie Gig was standing next to me at a mirror. Famous Quidditch writer Valerie Gig. The woman who did so many of the articles I cut out and put into a manila folder. The woman who I wanted to be like after I graduated. She did her eyeliner like me. I felt the need to point that out. I did my eyeliner like a famous person. My stomach exploded.

“I’m sorry—I’m such a huge fan,” I said stupidly.

“Are you really? I’m glad to hear it.” Valerie smiled. “I’ve heard of you of course. Everyone had quite the opinion on you when the news broke about Mr. Wood’s breakup.”

“Oh, yeah.” I paused. “That was probably entertaining to write about. I’m sure Bridget gave everyone spectacular opinions of me.”

“Most of the writers hate her, to be honest,” Valerie said, turning back to the mirror. “She one of those over-privileged Quidditch daughters. Usually we don’t go near them, but she was the only one available for comment in the bachelor article so we went with it.”

“Good to know I’m not the only person who doesn’t like her.”

“Far from it. Most people enjoyed you from what I heard of the World Cup.”

I glanced over. “Really? I had a great time. It’s probably why Liam invited me here.”

“Probably.” Valerie had a twinkle in her eyes. “He tells me you’re the Seeker for Gryffindor. What a title. Do you want to go pro when you’re finished?”

“No, actually, though I had an offer to play for the Tornadoes reserve team.” I had to stick it in there. I was talking to Valerie Gig after all. She had to know I was pretty good at what I did.

Who was I kidding? I fell off my broom. Suddenly I was the actual Seeker getting legitimate offers to play for a professional team. What was I saying?

I cleared my throat. “I want to be a Quidditch writer.”

Her eyes lit up. “A player wanting to be a writer? Practically unheard of!” She looked positively elated. “Have you always wanted to?”

“Well,” I started and Valerie steered me over to the sofa, “I always wanted to do something related to Quidditch. I just love the game. I never thought I was good enough to go pro and I’m not quite sure I want all that attention.”

“Good enough? You had an offer from the Cup team!”

I chuckled. “I just like the thought of writing about it.”

“I think that’s a good thought. I’d like to see some of your stuff once the season starts up again. Will you get into contact with me? We should have lunch or something and discuss the world of publishing. It’s a fun, competitive world, but you already have a leg up.”

“A leg up? I’m still at Hogwarts.”

“You’re already known.”

“Because I dated Oliver Wood and now I’m at a dinner with Liam Denters?”

“Known is known in this world.” Valerie grinned. “I should get back to my husband, but here’s my card. Keep in touch.”

I watched her leave, my voice stuck inconveniently in my throat. I just met Valerie Gig. She gave me her card. She wanted to have lunch with me. My body was rigid even as I walked back into the hall.

I placed the card next to me since Liam was chatting away and stared at the desert before me. It was a creamy chocolate cake and I felt fantastic. Oliver’s eyes were on me since my giant smile was probably distracting. Bridget wasn’t there.

“Please tell me that card says Valerie Gig,” Oliver said quietly.

I nodded. “It does.”

“You have Valerie Gig’s card.”

I nodded again. “I do.”

“Ja—Perry, that’s great.” He couldn’t hide the excitement in his voice. “Did you just meet her?”

“Never underestimate the power of the loo.” I almost chuckled. “She wants to have lunch.”

“What, love?” Liam turned and put an arm around me. “Who wants to have lunch?”

“Valerie Gig,” I replied sweetly and his eyes widened.

“You’ve met her? Well, there goes my surprise.” He laughed. “You’re getting plenty of connections without my help.”

“I just have that sort of personality.” I finished off the cake with one final fork-full (the wrong fork judging by the rest of the table). “She wants to meet up and then see some of my work when the season starts back up.”

“You can write an expose on Puddlemere if you’d like.”

“Do you think you could hold my attention?” Yes, it was sly flirting. Yes, it was to annoy the crap out of Oliver. Yes, it was working.

He was practically fuming.

“I think I could find a few ways to hold your attention,” Liam said under his breath, just loud enough for me (and Oliver) to hear.

“You’d have to prove it.” I giggled and took another sip of the appalling white wine.

“Challenge accepted.” Liam held out his hand. “What do you say to a dance?”

The dance floor was on the far side of another table and there were already several couples tearing it up. Technically, it was slow and melodical so they weren’t really tearing anything up, but if it was faster they would have been. Liam took my hand in his and twirled me gracefully so my dress spun out around my legs. He led perfectly, the same as the night we went out dancing, and I found myself dizzy with affection.

The band was fantastic, flowing from one song to another through the night. More and more people made their way onto the dance floor and Valerie Gig gave me a slight wave as she passed with her husband. I laughed when Liam dipped me, sticking my leg out elegantly.

My mind swam with thoughts about Liam. He really was wonderful and seemed to fancy me quite a bit. I searched the room for things to keep my mind off snogging his face off because he was quite the dish, and found Oliver sitting with Bridget back at the table.

His arms were folded and she was looking at her teeth in a pocket mirror.

I allowed Liam to spin me again. He pulled me back to him and I felt a hand on my lower back. His chest was against mine. Just as quickly Liam’s lips were against mine and my breathing stopped. I went practically stiff, my knees locking and my arms finding their way around his neck.

I pulled away seconds later and my eyes darted over his shoulder.

Oliver was gone.





Finally after dancing I got my hands on something to drink other than white wine. I found some stronger drinks at the bar across the dance floor and found Liam in a group of players mixed with media. He smiled and put an arm around me.

“I see you found a drink,” he said quietly, smiling.

“I did. Now what’s this surprise?”

“It’s sort of ruined now,” Liam replied, “but I want to introduce you to a few other people.” He excused himself from the Arrows player describing a Quaffle save and led me away toward another larger group of people laughing. Most of them had press badges on their jackets.

“Liam Denters! How great to see you!” A man in a corduroy jacket reached out and shook his hand.

“I’m sure you know her already, but this is Jane Perry, everyone.”

I put on my best polite, gorgeous smile.

“Oh, I’ve heard loads about you,” said a woman with straight blond hair. “Liam mentioned you being the Seeker for Gryffindor. Are you thinking about going pro?”

I shook my head.

“Jane wants to be a Quidditch writer,” Liam said proudly.

Their eyes lit up like Valerie Gig’s. I left the circle with a clutch full of business cards and promised lunches. Next we found our way over to the other Puddlemere players, Maxwell in the middle of a loud joke at Johnson’s expense. Their Chasers reminded me of Gryffindor’s and I suddenly wished the girls were here to avert the attention off of me.

Alicia always seemed quite good at that.

“It’s nice to see you again,” Michelle Haur said. She seemed confident and agile, something I always assumed to be true since she was the only female on the team.

“You too.” I let Maxwell finish his joke. “Enjoying yourself?”

“There’s only so much I can enjoy of these things with the Tornadoes blokes flaunting their Cup around the room.” She smiled warmly and there were crinkles in the corners of her eyes from years of laughing. Michelle was young, I guessed barely twenty-seven or so, and the darker streaks in her hair showed a lot of rebellion.

“Where’s Wood?” James Vanter asked, peering around. “If that bugger is bidding on the signed broom I’m going to kick him halfway across the pitch Monday.”

“I think he went outside a few minutes ago,” said Maxwell. “He didn’t look like he was having a good time. It might have been the chicken. Didn’t really sit well with me.”

I glanced at my hands.

“Or maybe it was Bridget,” said Michelle with a snicker. “She’s enough to send anyone outside. Run, Oliver! Escape!”

The rest of the group laughed, all of them checking over their shoulders for pink, frilly Bridget. I felt comforted. Apparently the media weren’t the only people who weren’t particularly fond of Bludgers for Brains.

I enjoyed that silently.





The fundraiser lasted far into the night with people winning random items I would have given several limbs for (broom signed by the current Tornadoes, signed robes, box tickets, etc) and true to his word, Liam presented me with the form for a new subscription to Quidditch Weekly (with bonus posters). I saw Oliver on and off through the evening as he refused Bridget’s pleadings to dance. Most of the time I spent laughing with the rest of the Puddlemere team, talking to Liam at our table, or getting to know Valerie Gig so much I knew her crup’s name was Sharpie and she once had a goldfish called Rouge.

It was raining around one in the morning and I stood just inside the lobby watching the tired media pack up. Liam walked up beside me.

“What did you think?” he asked cheerfully, trying to stifle a yawn.

“I had a wonderful time. Really, it was great.” I kissed him lightly on the cheek. “Thanks for inviting me.”

“Thanks for coming,” he replied. “I can’t believe how late it is. We must have emptied the entire bar.”

“More than likely.” I paused for a moment. “Is it okay with you if I just Apparate home? It’s late and I’m really exhausted. Plus, these heels are killing me if I’m going to be honest.”

Liam chuckled. “I’m not going to keep you any longer. I have to go help clean up the auction table anyway. I’ve promised Michelle I would. She always tries to get everyone to do nice things even though I paid hefty money for these seats.” He put his hand in my own, lacing our fingers together delicately. “Can I owl you?”

I didn’t know what to say at first. I didn’t fancy him a whole lot, but I did like Liam Denters. He wasn’t too shabby. Plus, he was quite the dish that got me connections with every famous Quidditch writer plus all of the Puddlemere United team. I smiled. “I’d suggest it.”

“All right. Good night, Jane Perry.” Liam laid a tiny kiss on my lips and smiled into it. “Tell your friends I say hello.”

I watched him walk back into the dining hall and sighed. It was pouring. Not just raining hard, it was the sort of rain shield charms didn’t do much for because they were just pushed down on top of you. Stupid good for nothing shield charms. I didn’t know it was supposed to rain or I would have brought an umbrella.

There was an overhang in front of the building where a few people were milling and I stood there, wondering when the rain would let up so I could rush around the corner of the building to Apparate home. I was jostled a bit until I found a place near the front-most step, my toes getting wet from the droplets.

Bollocks. It wasn’t letting up. A few girls beside my groaned and their dates draped long coats over them as they got into cars. I pushed my foot out into the rain, soaking it in the heels, and pulled it back, letting out my own disgruntled noise.

Son of a bitch.

The roaring thunder of rain covered the sound of people slipping past me in the darkness. I felt fabric on my arm and glanced over, nearly jumping out of my skin as I saw Oliver there with a disgruntled look on his face.

“Hi,” I said slowly, my voice louder than usual because of the downpour.

He met my eyes and his lips twitched before he spoke. “Hi.” Oliver’s eyes fell to his feet. “Quite the heavy rain.”

I nodded. “I’m trying to see if it might let up before I run through it to Apparate home. I’m not a fan of being soaked.”

“Not that you couldn’t dry yourself with your wand.” He fought back a smirk.

“Sounds like work.” I allowed a brief chuckle. “Are you out here for more air?”

“I’m waiting for Bridget. She’s doing something in there. Probably adjusting something or another. I can never keep up with what she does.” He frowned. “So I’ll just wait.”

“Enjoying her company then?” I said this quietly.

“She’s a fine date for a fundraiser since everyone already knows her,” Oliver said somberly. “I’m sick of the limelight, if you believe that.”

“With all those photoshoots scheduled and dirt rubbed across your body I’m not sure I can.” For a moment I felt playful, glancing over at his flushed face and the droplets falling onto his damp hair.

“Fair.” Oliver chuckled briefly. “Are you cold?”

“A bit.”

He swung a black umbrella back and forth in his hands. “Sometimes cold nights during the summer are nice.”

“Indeed they are,” I whispered.

I felt the umbrella being shoved into my hands. “Take this,” Oliver said gruffly. “Head home and get a few blankets.”

I eyed him curiously. “Don’t you need it?”

“Take it.” His brown eyes were fierce and lit, reflecting carefully off the street lamps and nearby cigarettes.

“Thank you,” I said, my hands gripping the umbrella too tight. “I suppose I’ll…well, have a good night with Bridget.” I tried a smile, but my mouth didn’t quite work. He just seemed so familiar and comfortable. It was inconvenient considering I’d basically sworn to hate him for all eternity. How unfortunate.

I wanted to say something else, but instead I popped open the umbrella and made my way out into the rain, listening to the drops thunder onto the dark fabric. Behind me I heard the sound of Bridget and her niceties, but I kept moving, kept tip-toeing on the sidewalk, over puddles and dodging cracks. I felt cold and numb, thinking of the night I walked away from.

Liam kissed me on the dance floor. We twirled and drank and laughed and kissed right there where Oliver was watching. And I talked to Oliver Wood. It was friendly, almost un-Jane-like. I should have thrown something at him just for good measure or socked him in the arm. It felt strange, but I didn’t regret it as I held the umbrella. It felt enlightening.

I held my breath and Apparated, stumbling backward in the living room. Dad jumped halfway out of the chair, trying to make it obvious he hadn’t fallen asleep while waiting up for me. The Daily Prophet fell off his lap onto the floor.

“You’re home early,” he said, yawning.

“It’s one-thirty.” I laughed a bit, kicking my heels onto the rug.

“Oh. Well then you’re home late.” Another yawn and he stretched. “Did you have fun?”

“Yes, actually. And guess who got the business cards of all the major Quidditch writers? Oh, that’s me. Yeah, Jane Perry.” I pulled the pile of cards out of my clutch and spread them onto the coffee table.

Dad gaped at them. “Oh my—Jane! Jane, this is amazing. How did you do it?”

“Not by telling one of my racy jokes, I’ll tell you that much.” I beamed. “I met Valerie Gig in the bathroom and Liam introduced me to the rest. He has so many connections it’s ridiculous. Oh, and I played I Spy with the Puddlemere Chasers. How ridiculous is that?” I was practically gushing about my night. I fell onto the sofa, spilling the details about how much I danced and what the prime rib tasted like and how I never wanted to drink white wine again because it tasted like cardboard and toothpaste.

“Wow. I’m actually jealous of your night.”

“Did you not have as much fun?” I beamed.

“Lou and Amanda left shortly after you did to see a movie and I’ve been watching television and reading most of the night. It was rather uneventful, especially with most of the Cup replays off.”

“The Cup was at the fundraiser,” I bragged.

He gaped at me. “What a daughter I have. I’ll have to boast to everyone I know. You just give me so much ammo against the neighbors.”

“Oh, you mean the Muggle neighbors that don’t know about Quidditch?”

“The very same.”

“I’m heading to bed and you can think about how to word it so it sounds like I went to a football fundraiser with goal scorers.” A snort followed and I retreated to my room, pulling off the dress.

I stared at myself in the mirror, wondering about the way the dress fit me and what the reporters said about how beautiful I was. I thought about my mum. I thought about Oliver and how I wanted him to see the picture of my mum. It was stupid. I felt stupid.

So stupid.

I took out a quill.

Roger,

Tonight was amazing. I think. I’ll fill you in more later, but I want you to know I now know about Valerie Gig’s crup. I danced with Liam. I kissed Liam. Wood gave me his umbrella. I still hate him.

I think.

With love,

Jane


My stomach grumbled so I threw on a comfy white robe, padding my way into the kitchen so as to not wake my now snoring father. I pulled open the fridge. What the shit? Where was the food for Lou and Amanda? It looked emptier than usual with a head of lettuce in the bottom drawer and an empty container of orange juice on the door. The freezer had ice cubes.

My eyes surveyed the counter and I nearly fell right there. A bottle of opened red wine sat on the windowsill, half-empty glass beside it. Groaning, I tried to ignore it. Water was better anyway. Pulling open the cupboards, I hoped for something—anything. All I got was canned milk and brownie mix.

Brownie mix.

Son of—eugh. I slammed them shut, convinced this was a stupid foiled dream I wanted to wake up from. The pinch hurt so I ran my arm under cold water.

“I’ll go to bed hungry,” I muttered, making my way back into my room. At least I could get cleaning done before bed instead of fattening myself up with wine and brownies. I wasn’t that girl anymore.

I threw my clothes into the wardrobe, kicking aside books and tissues. I moved a few things on my desk, only to find the tiara from my seventeenth birthday at the Quidditch World Cup. Hesitating, I twisted it around my fingers. It glittered like London. Below it was a hidden stack of Quidditch Weekly magazines.

I needed to go to sleep. I left Oliver’s umbrella by the door.





A/N: First of all, I want to apologize for my lengthy absence. I had a few things happen in both my HPFF life and my regular (legit) life and thus I have been gone for a while. So I wanted to give you all some brief updates :) First of all, this story is now coming along again. I had to churn out this chapter, but the rest are right on track. I have good plans for the future, so don't worry. No more extremely long waits unless something MAJOR comes up again.

Those of you who follow BTQC. It is in an editing phase right now, but will be back as soon as possible :) The validators are being a wonderful help! :)

I want to say thank you for all the support. It was a real factor in my choices, so thank you. And for everyone who has been emailing me and checking up on me, thank you as well. I appreaciate it more than you know. And THANK YOU for all the reviews on the last couple chapters. I can't even believe it. You all are so amazing and dedicated, it makes me so happy! It's a breath of fresh air after writing a 45 page thesis. (AHHH!)

So please let me know what you think...especially about the umbrella. :) :)


Chapter 21: Missing You
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For anyone who squees at the end of this chap.
Also, thanks for the thesis love.
It ended up being 54 pages of gloriousness.





By Tuesday the umbrella was still sitting by the door. I stared at it between getting dressed and trying to forget it was there. At one point I covered it up with a skirt I didn’t let Amanda borrow. I had to give it back at one point, but why would I go out of my way to see Oliver Wood? He was a jerk.

Surely it wasn’t some irreplaceable umbrella anyway. He could spare it, the famous Quidditch bachelor. He could spare a hundred—why should I even care?

I kicked my legs back and forth under the kitchen table, willing myself to stop thinking about it. This was my summer vacation. I was free. I wasn’t going to do anything that seemed like work, including exercising my mind. I was going to be a vegetable.

“Jane?” Dad poked his head in the door. “I’m off to work—would you mind picking up owl food? We’ve nearly run out and the blasted bird is pecking holes in my hand when I cook.”

I groaned. So much for vegetable. “Sure. I need a shopping trip anyway.”

“Owl the girls and see if they’ll go with you.” He smiled.

“They’re all stupidly busy—even Katie. Don’t ask what they’re doing with their lives but it’s much more important than spending time with me.”

“That’s the spirit.” He grabbed an apple off the counter and vanished.

Truthfully, it didn’t bother me the girls were so busy. It was strange, especially after seeing them so much during the year, but it happens. I needed some Jane time anyway. There was truly nothing like an alone-shopping day where I could get my head around everything. I really needed to figure out what was happening with everything—however hard it was to think about.

I had to figure out this Liam rubbish.





Diagon Alley was beyond crowded when I arrived. I heard people talking about liquidation sales and I nearly kicked a wall. Why did I need owl food today?

People were pushing past on the streets and my arms ended up scratched from cages and the corners of shopping bags. Finally, I managed to squeeze into Quality Quidditch Supplies for a breath of air. That was a stupid idea since there was less air in there. Sale on game-worn merchandise.

I drooled over the Harpies’ robes.

For nearly five-hundred galleons I sucked my drool back in.

Next it was on to Flourish and Blotts. I thought about the restaurant on the top floor and suddenly wanted to be there—to twirl and get the heck away from these crazy witches in layers of robes trying to get the best deal on toad eyes.

I looked closer. My mistake, newt eyes.

I only bought one book from Blotts, an anthology of short memoirs. It looked good for light reading since the whole vegetable scene got boring after a while. There were only so many times I could watch the same replays on the Quidditch Network.

I shoved my way out of the store, squeezing back against the crowd and trying to make my way somewhere I didn’t have to use my elbows as a weapon.

“Jane?”

I flew around, knocking an owl cage out of someone’s hands. They should have been watching for my reflexes. It was obviously their fault. The woman flipped me off, grabbed her now dented cage, and continued on her way with the crowd. Conforming wench.

George Weasley was behind me on a bench. His legs were up on the seat so people didn’t run into them and his eyes were puffy and red. I joined him, propping my legs up with his.

“Hey, you,” I said softly, not really sure exactly what to say. I touched his leg.

“Hey. You don’t have to give me that look, you know. I’m fine.” He fought for a smile.

“I know. I haven’t seen you. I miss you.”

“I miss all of you,” he mumbled. “Heard you went to the Quidditch fundraiser. Saw it in the paper.”

“Bollocks,” I said. “Yeah, I was there. It was a lot of fun.”

“With Liam Denters? I thought he fancied his other teammate.”

“Michelle?” I paused. “I didn’t get that, but maybe. Liam’s great, though. We had a great time and talking to the press is terrifying. I’m glad I’m going to be a press one day.”

“Something about Valerie Gig, eh?”

I gaped at him. “Why am I not reading the papers? What was said?”

“She just wrote about meeting you in the loo.” George chuckled. “It was tasteful, I promise. I’m happy for you. Bet Wood wasn’t too thrilled.”

“Why do you say that? He was there with Bridget.”

George rolled his eyes obviously. “Sometimes I can be dense, Jane, but you’re just being ridiculous.” He patted me gently on the shoulder. “Anyway, let’s change the subject.”

I stared. I was being ridiculous? Katie and George broke up over napkins. And I was…oh, what the beans, George? I took a deep breath. This was a distraught boy. Yes, my breakup with Oliver was stupid. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did and now I was going to fundraiser dinners with Liam. End of novel-esque story.

“How is Mr. Perry?”

“He’s doing great,” I said.

“And Angelina and Alicia?” His eyes went to the twisting hands in his lap.

“They’re fine too.” I paused, watching George open and close his mouth. “Katie is okay too.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Idiot Weasley.

“What do you have planned for the day?” He jumped on that question quickly.

“Owl food,” I said, disgruntled. “I’m off to get it now and then maybe some ice cream before I get the heck out of this sale heaven.”

He smiled. “Good idea. I’m on my way out right now. Told Fred I’d be back to play chess in a few.”

I pulled George into a hug. “Things are going to be okay. You know that, right?”

He mumbled something inaudible and stood up against the grain of shoving people. “See you later, Jane. Owl me and update me.” Just as soon as he finished, he disappeared into the mass glob of consumers.

I kept my legs up on the bench for a while, thinking about him and Katie and me and Oliver and Liam, and just for shits, Roger too. I hated this. I wanted to go back to Hogwarts where everyone’s business was out in the open and I just had to ask a few people what he said and she said behind so-and-so’s back and I wouldn’t have to gather a hypothesis or anything. It was starting to become work.

After owl food and getting kicked in the leg by a pissy six-year-old with a lollipop stuck in her curls, I made my way back down the cobbled street to the ice cream shop. I ordered a vanilla sundae with cherries and chocolate syrup and managed to snag the only empty table as soon as someone left. The rest were completely full and I left the other seat open at mine in case someone needed a spot to eat.

All right, anthology, let’s see what lives other people have lived.

Bloke watching his friend get eaten by a fish. Pass.

Woman who was a furniture mover and found enlightenment. Pass.

Chef who made food with road kill. Eww, pass.

Famous Quidditch All-Star with a secret. Ooh, page two-hundred thirteen.

The ice cream was delicious and I devoured it along with the life of this old star. Came from poverty to be one of the wealthiest Quidditch players—victim of emotional abuse. Poor bloke. I leafed through more pages, spooning the vanilla into my mouth.

Someone sat across from me. I turned another page. I had to know how his first try-out went. It was so improbable. What a story!

“Nail-biter, Perry?” Oliver said.

I nearly choked. Why did everyone have to sneak up on me like that? Once I finished swallowing the ice cream, I looked up. He was eating a chocolate sundae with sprinkles and nuts and a bright green polo. Nearby people were staring.

Go back to your sales, people!

“It’s a good story,” I said simply. Suddenly, I felt awkward. I didn’t know how to eat my ice cream and of course I couldn’t read any more. My ex was sitting in front of my with that same pompous bleeding look I had grown so used to seeing. I thought about the umbrella in my bedroom. Nothing of Oliver’s should have been in my bedroom.

My face lit up.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Erm, sure. I’m fine actually. How is life?” I said this very fast and was not convincing at all.

“Life is fine,” he said with a chuckle. He picked at his ice cream.

“And Puddlemere?” I searched my head for something to talk about. Why did I need anything? We could sit there in complete silence. We should. I hated him anyway. Well, not really hated, he did give me that umbrella. Was that his ploy? Of course not, that was a stupid idea.

“The team is fine. Liam and ‘Shell had to do about sixty laps today for messing around.” He shrugged casually.

Was that jealousy I felt? No, of course not. I horsed around with Fred all the time and that didn’t mean I fancied him. Who cared if Liam did fancy Michelle? Not me. Not one bit.

My face was on fire. I ate ice cream to cool it down.

I could feel my stomach twisting. “That’s unfortunate,” I managed after a while. “Being subjected to constant laps isn’t a good time.”

“How did you end up at the dinner with him, anyway?” He looked curious, but wouldn’t meet my eyes. Not that I wanted to meet his anyway.

“He owled me for dinner and dancing and while we were out he asked me if I wanted to go with him.” Okay, someone slap me. Why did I just tell that to Oliver Wood? Like it was any of his sodding business. It wasn’t.

But he did look rather put out at the dinner.

Shut up, brain! No one asked you.

“I see,” he said. “I guess that makes sense. Everyone was shocked at the dinner. Caught me off guard.”

“Why?” I asked quickly.

“I didn’t expect to see you there.” He almost laughed. “I expected Liam to come alone like he always does and to be legitimately jealous of the Tornadoes as they flaunted their Cup—I heard the winning team always does it. Expected a good meal, some wine, no dancing because I wouldn’t dance with Bridget to save my life, and to pick up that free subscription to Quidditch Weekly.”

I colored again.

“Which someone else happened to get.” Oliver narrowed his eyes playfully. It annoyed me. “All in all, didn’t expect you there. The wounds are still fresh from the lipgloss incident.”

“Why are you being nice to me?” I said, suddenly angry. “You’re always a pompous git to me and suddenly you’re joking around about the Cup and dancing with Bridget. What gives, Wood?”

He didn’t answer right away, stirring the ice cream around in his dish. I watched his fingers wrap tightly around the spoon. “I wanted to know if everything’s okay.”

“What do you mean, everything? Everything is fine.”

“What about with Katie and George? I heard all about that rubbish.”

“It was napkins,” I mumbled, trying to delay finishing my ice cream off. I noticed the way he seemed genuinely concerned about not only me but the rest of the past Gryffindor team (okay, except Ellis). “I think they’ll be okay. If I can get them in the same bleeding room again.”

“Ah, I see.” Oliver looked nervous. I hadn’t seen him nervous in ages. There were girls eyeing him from the table over but he didn’t notice. I liked that, but I’d never tell. “They’re too good together. We have to fix this.”

He said we. We had to fix Katie and George. Us. Together. My fingers went numb at the tips and suddenly I realized they were in the ice cream. “How?” I managed to say. My throat was nearly clogged.

“Not sure. We’ll figure something out. It worked with Fred and Ang, didn’t it?”

“So you want to plan another retreat in the freezing rain?” To my surprise, I laughed just thinking about the absurdity of team builders and Libby screaming at the pitch door in the morning.

“Not quite, but something they can’t avoid. We’ll talk about it later.” He didn’t give me a moment to gape at him for the wording he used. “So how is that whole Lou Beckett situation going?”

I put my face in my palm. Ah, the conversation which sparked our breakup. “It’s going fine. She’s lovely and my dad is happy and I was a bitter, jealous idiot. Her daughter, though.”

“Let me guess, she’s lovely too and you just don’t want to compete for attention?” He surveyed me, licking the rest of the chocolate off the tip of his spoon. His brown eyes captivated me.

“The opposite in fact,” I replied. “She’s a horrible fourteen-year-old girl with no common sense or morals. Dunno how Lou is her mum, it’s insane. She practically threw herself at Roger.”

His head flew up. “Davies?”

“The very same.”

I saw his jaw twitch. I could nearly see the images going through his mind. But why would they? Why would they consist of Roger snogging me on my bed? It wasn’t like we were together or anything. No, of course we weren’t.

Two ex’s having ice cream in Hogsmeade. Just happened to be sitting at the same table. Coincidence is all it was.

“Oh. I see.”

“He went shopping with us when I needed a dress for the fundraiser.”

“Erm, how is he doing?” Oliver could barely get the phrase out. Apparently the wounds were not closed.

“Great, actually. He’s on the reserve team for the Magpies, helped me through a lot after—you know, we broke up. Put things into perspective. Oh, he has this lady he fancies that we all convinced him to talk to. I’m waiting to hear back about how it went. Very exciting stuff, apparently she’s quite the looker.”

Jane Perry. Earth to Jane Perry. You’re telling Oliver Wood things about your life. Remember when this happened before? About your father? With the team meeting?

But remember when you told him about your mum. Didn’t blab. And you told him all about your past and your dreams and everything else and he didn’t blab about that—didn’t tell the whole team about it.

“Good for him,” Oliver said. “Sorry about Lou’s daughter, though. She sounds like a disaster.”

“The very worst.” I laughed. I couldn’t think of anything else to talk about. Instead, my mind snapped back to Angelina asking me if Oliver and I had sex. I wondered about the lack of intimacy toward the end of our relationship—when things got tense around money and seeing each other.

It was over now, though. It was all speculation.

I couldn’t help but notice his teeth tugging on his lower lip, fighting back words. He blinked several times. The ice cream was gone, but he wasn’t.

I stopped breathing for a moment.

Oliver cleared his throat, knocking me from my temporary spout of insanity. He glanced around, finally noticing the perched girls with wide eyes and drool. His eyes flew back to me. “Okay, this might sound really weird and might be really stupid.”

“What? Those girls?” I said.

“Do you want to stop by the flat for some tea?”

I couldn’t stop my jaw from falling. It hung there for a moment as I stared, unsure. “Um. Sure.” I couldn’t think of a reason not to. Sure, I hated him. Right?

Right, Jane?

But tea couldn’t hurt anyone. Besides, he looked more grown up. More mature.

In a month? Get real.

I found myself gathering my bags while having these thoughts. None of them were powerful enough to get me to stop. Could they have a liquidation sale on common sense because apparently I had none.

I followed Oliver back toward the pub. Walking behind my ex. What would people say? When did I ever care about people? What would the girls say? I cared about them. About Fred and George—though George had probably disappeared into gardening or something by then. They would tell me I was crazy. Alicia would clap and tell me she told me so. She didn’t tell me anything.

It wasn’t like my feelings were back for Oliver. They weren’t. I didn’t have any.

Two people going for tea.

His shirt was tight against his back. I looked down. Bollocks. I looked back up.

“Ready?” he said, regaining my eye as we found an empty spot close to the entrance of Knockturn Alley. “Meet you at the flat.” With a crack, he was gone.

For a second, I debated not going at all. That would teach him. Throw jewelry at me, why don’t you. Break my heart, why don’t you. Not care that I was in love with you, why don’t you. Good thing I’m not anymore. What a load off my back.

Seconds later, I found myself just outside Oliver’s flat with the door ajar. I pushed it open, tossing my bags on the floor beside the entrance.

“How do you like what I’ve done with it?” Oliver was in the kitchen and I could hear the sink water running.

At first I was confused, but I realized quickly what he was talking about. The entire place looked different. It was clean, everything neatly stacked in piles and the Quidditch figures were lined across the top of the television (the Canons player was on a different shelf with a missing arm).

The dining room table was no longer cluttered and had a few thick candles in the center. There was even a white table cloth. Pans were hanging from a rack in the ceiling. I saw a loaf of bread on the counter. No dishes in the sink. I pushed past Oliver and opened the fridge.

It was full. There was no tuna in sight. Lettuce, pears, apple cider, thawing steak, a premade salad, and various other things I could actually stomach. He had more than I did at home. Ridiculous.

“What’s with the smile?” he asked, laughing.

I couldn’t hide it. “You’re practically an adult now,” I said. “Look at all this—it’s lovely.”

“Thanks. Took a while but I…well, I had some time on my hands is all.” He grabbed two wine glasses, ignoring the kettle on the counter.

“It looks great. Wish I could say the same but after I left my super-clean phase it sort of got dirty again.” I chuckled, leaning awkwardly on the fridge.

“You went through a super-clean phase? Who paid you?”

“Erm,” I mumbled. “Sort of how I dealt with….yeah. So yeah.” I flipped a few pieces of hair into my face. It was awkward thinking about scrubbing everything around the apartment clean. I actually hurt myself doing that. Absurdities.

It seemed like ages ago. Now here I was, watching Oliver pour wine into two glasses. The room was silent. It reminded me of the Astronomy Tower on Christmas.

“Shall we go sit?” He motioned toward the living room, handing me one of the glasses and grabbing the bottle.

I found a seat on the far side of the couch. Everything felt weird and strangely comfortable. I shifted, staring at the bottle of red wine. All I could think of is ordering white wine at the fundraiser. I hated it.

“Jane, we need to talk.” Oliver’s voice was gruff and hardened. He stared at his shoes, sipping at the drink in his hands. He didn’t seem to notice he didn’t refer to me as “Perry.”

“About what?” I asked.

“Okay, you know what?” He sounded panicked and hurried. “I’m going to just have my say. Do you remember when we first got together and you made me tell you that long story about how I’d fancied you since the mistletoe incident? Well, I’m going to talk now and you’re going to listen and when I’m done you can just leave if you want or throw something or whatever you think you need to do.” He was sweating.

“Sure thing.” I had no idea what was coming—if he was going to rant about his parents or tell me he was going to propose to Bridget even. Of course in the back of my mind…

“This past month has been miserable for me. There’s not just one reason for it either—all this publicity rubbish is taking its toll on me, though the good news is I made a fortune off those magazines. I knew I had to make the money. I was slowly going broke and, let’s face it, that was a huge reason we broke up. The stress was stupid. My parents were stupid. We’re both too stupidly stubborn for our own good.” He chanced a smile. I returned it. “It was okay not seeing you. I didn’t have to deal with it, you know? I knew you lot were at Katie’s so I could go off and concentrate on my career. Sure, it wasn’t ideal since all of my friends were at Katie’s, but I guess I convinced myself they were just my team from school. Then Ang came—dunno if you knew about that or not. She’s crazy. I told her to bugger off. None of her bleeding business. It was, though.

“Quidditch, fans, Bridget, all of it just made me crazy. I love it, though, but I hate it alone.” He sighed. “No, that sounds stupid. That sounds like I need something else to balance me out without really wanting it—that’s not it at all.”

“Okay,” I said calmly. Truthfully, that was all I could manage to say.

“I wanted to kill Liam at the dinner. I wanted to throw myself over the table and throttle him right there.” His voice was angry again. “I couldn’t believe it—still can’t. He’s my mate and brought my ex to the fundraiser dinner. Okay, not totally his fault. He knew you and he needed a date—needed to make—never mind. Neither here nor there. I just felt like it was the Dodger thing all over again.”

“I’m sorry—what?

“I miss you, Jane.”

This time I really couldn’t speak. Nothing came out. I opened and closed my mouth several times.

Oliver’s wine was gone and I noticed mine was as well. His eyes were sad and wide, fingers clasped tight around the glass stem.

I stood up fast. “I don’t…what? What are you saying?” Sure, I knew there was a possibility he could be talking about us. It was in the back of my mind, but still caught me off guard.

Strangely, I didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. It was Oliver. The boy in the Astronomy Tower, the Quidditch pitch eating to-go orders from The Three Broomsticks, dunking me in the pond. His hair was tossed at the top. The only light came from the kitchen and tiny streaks through the curtains.

“Have lunch with me tomorrow,” he said.

“What makes you think I want to? What makes you think I even want to talk to you after everything?”

“Well, at least return my umbrella.” He chuckled.

The tension dropped. “All right. All right, we can do lunch tomorrow. Are we going out or staying here?”

“I’ll surprise you.” He poured himself another glass of wine.

“I should go then. Have to get the owl food back home.” I stumbled to get to the door. Oliver stood up. “I’ll be around tomorrow then.”

“Tell your dad I say hi.”

I made a face. “I’m not sure I should do that. Then again, maybe Amanda’s there and I can gush to her all about it.” I pulled open the door and stopped, facing the hallway. Oliver hadn’t moved. I turned. “Hey.”

“Yeah?”

I picked up the bags and they cut into my forearms. “I miss you too, Oliver.”




A/N: Any squees? They've been absent lately so I thought I'd ask :)

Thanks everyone for the amazing reviews. I really love to read them and a lot from the previous chapter gave me inspiration for this one and the next. I'm having so much fun writing them (darn semester has been way too demanding). I am now in the process of job hunting for June, which should be a blast, huh?

So tell me what you think! About George, about ice cream, about Oliver Wood.

What the HECK is going to go down at lunch?


Chapter 22: Brownies
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This chapter is for magicalmess.
This is my first story to ever hit 1,000 reviews. Magicalmess was #1000
but it's thanks to all of you that it could happen. THANK YOU!





What in Merlin’s name was I thinking?

I spent the rest of the evening rather numb, but once Wednesday morning dawned I realized what happened. I realized I agreed to meet Oliver Wood for lunch. I told him I missed him. He missed me.

What the hell was I thinking?

I rolled over in bed, quilt pulled tight against my neck in the semi-darkness. What about that giant argument over money and time spent not seeing him and how he was so insensitive and jerk-like? The “break” as Roger and the girls called it. Sobbing over a blasted Quidditch Weekly magazine, spilling all about how I could have been in love with the idiot. Pfft, I went out with Liam Denters.

It took me so long to stop thinking about it. Honestly, I never did. Even when out with Liam I thought about Oliver. I hated it.

And if I went over there for lunch—if something happened again…

Could I handle it?

I rolled again. This was ridiculous. He couldn’t still have feelings for me—he was probably just jealous of Liam because he didn’t expect to see me.

I thought about what George said—about me being just as thick as him.

Was I? It seemed ridiculous. It was over. Sure, we could go on and on about the past and how much fun we had and how much more grown up we were, but it was over.

Done.

Blast, this was too difficult. Frustrated, I pulled open my bedside drawer and grabbed the photo of Mum. She stared back, over her book, and laughed.

“So what am I supposed to do then?” I asked softly, switching so I leaned on my elbows and the frame sat on my pillow. “All I can think about is that Quidditch game—that last game. How he came back for me. The kiss. Why?”

She went back to reading.

“Should I even go over there? Ang said something about his eyes being puffy before. What do you think that means?”

Mum’s eyes stopped scanning and she turned the book toward me. It was Emma. Her slender fingers pointed to the line, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” I stared.

“Oh what in blazes does that mean?” I rolled over again, thinking about it. “I can’t understand Oliver’s pleasures? That sounds dirty. Eugh, this is rubbish.”

“Pumpkin, are you awake in there? It’s nearly ten.” Dad knocked on the door.

“Do you need something?” I asked. It could mean my pleasures were insane, but half the world (like Oliver) could understand them and to the other half it meant I was daft for even considering it. I found myself on my feet, leafing through dresser drawers for something to wear.

Perhaps I was a little daft. No amount of daftness could disguise the twinge in my stomach.

“No, just wondering if you wanted breakfast. I made French toast.”

“Just leave it on the table. I’ll pick at it before I go off for lunch.”

“Lunch date? Liam again?”

I bit my lip. Eff. “Not exactly. Just going out for lunch. Nothing serious. Just hungry.”

“Is that a jab for me to buy more food?”

“Where did the food go anyway?” I asked, pulling open the door. “I thought since you got together with Lou we were supposed to look like we actually ate regular food.”

He made a face. “I got sick of the healthy stuff.” Dad chuckled. “She doesn’t seem to mind ordering out a lot though. Amanda loves it.”

“Can I ask you a question?” I went back to filing through clothes and found a nice tank top with professional ruffles. “Are you ever going to tell Lou you’re a wizard?”

“I don’t think it’s that serious yet, Jane.”

“When will it be? I don’t like this hiding rubbish. I’ll have to pretend I’m going back to America soon to flirt with the Yankee boys.”

“At least you’ll be out of here,” he said. “You won’t have to step around Quidditch all the time.”

“So tell her.”

“I can’t. Not yet.”

“Okay, okay.” I had a pile of skirts lying on my bed. Why was I so stuck about having a skirt?

Half of the world could not understand the pleasure of Oliver’s face when I walked in like that.

But who said he’d even notice? The last few times I wore skirts—nothing.

Why in Merlin’s hash-brown’s was I this bleeding nervous? I dated him already! This was just lunch. Just stupid sodding lunch to discuss why I loathed him with every fiber of my being. Or something like that.

“Can you explain the blush?” Dad was still there.

I covered my cheeks with my palms. “No, I can’t. At all.”

The small jean skirt with the tank top looked good. I shut the door on Dad so I could change, twirling about in front of the mirror as I finished. A comb through my hair made it wave on my shoulders and I wondered why I wanted to look so good—to show you what you missed out on, eh Oliver Wood?

I grabbed a matching bag, draped a necklace onto my collar bone, and headed out into the living room where Dad was flipping through the comics section of the paper. “Toast is on the table,” he said, eyeing me. “You’re definitely not going out just because you’re hungry.”

“Starved,” I said, skipping (why was I skipping?) into the kitchen and plopping down in front of the lukewarm toast.

He popped his head in the room. “Okay, I deserve to have secrets kept from me after that whole Lou fiasco, but I’m genuinely curious about this. What has you looking so dapper this early? Is it a professional lunch—no, skirt is a bit too short for that.”

I raised a brow, digging in to breakfast. “Just going over to a friend’s.”

“Roger?” he asked.

“No, though I’m wondering about the lack of mail from him.”

“A letter came this morning from him—that’s why I wondered if it was him.”

“A letter came and you didn’t tell me!” I leapt up, racing for the foyer table we kept mail on after owl delivery. Sure enough, the sealed letter was there with Roger’s scrawling handwriting across the middle.

Jane,

First of all, to get this out of the way, I took your advice. I don’t know how well it’s going to pan out but I asked her a very stupid question (where the kitchens were) and she looked at me like I was insane, but then I thanked her later and she looked at me like I was less than insane. That’s a start, right? I’m going to see her at a Magpies fundraiser this coming weekend so maybe I’ll ask her to dance. Unless her date is a burly bloke, then no can do.

Second of all, Valerie Gig’s crup? How do you know anything about her at all? Did you read an article? Why so ambiguous? I hate that. I’m going to march over there and tell you where to stick your ambiguity—especially about snogging Liam Denters. Atta girl! You need a good snog in your life. I’m guessing you had fun then? I hope so. We should talk about it soon. I have something I need to tell you.

And Wood? He gave you his umbrella? And you think you hate him? Jane, cut to the chase here, what’s going on? You must have been on a sugar high when you wrote that letter. I got nothing out of it. Owl me back soon and tell me what in Dumbledore’s name is going on.

And I’ll owl you more about my lady!

With love,

Roger


I smiled. Leave it to him to crave as much information as possible. I folded it, glancing back at my father’s puzzled face, and stuck it in the pocket of the skirt. “He is such a gossip. Always wants to know everything.” What was I going to tell him?

Haha, like I had anything to tell.

Oi, Roger, Oliver and I are having lunch and I’m dressed in a tiny skirt because he’ll think it’s sexy. Oh, by the way I still have feelings for him and I’m going over there with the hopes that he’ll return them.

Bugger.

My face fell. Was that why I was doing this? I was going through all this trouble because I wanted things to go back to what they used to be? Fat chance, Jane Perry. Things have changed. You’re a different person now.

“Are you okay?” Dad raised a brow.

“Actually, no. But I will be. I’m going to take care of this. I will not be hurt again.” I pushed past him, downing a glass of orange juice, and returned to my room. I set Roger’s letter on my bedside stand for later.

“So you’ll be back in a few hours?”

I nodded. “I’ll be back. Just some lunch. Some conversation. Some frustration.” I slammed the door behind me, realizing I could have easily just apparated but a part of me wanted a nice brisk walk on a warm August morning. I pushed through the crowd causing several people to jump out of the way when they saw me coming. I even spilled a coffee.

Why was I going so fast? Why did my feet hurt after three blocks?

I was frustrated, that was why. I was so angry I got hurt—so bitter I was subjecting myself to stupidity again.

I knocked hard on his door. Oh, was I going to tell him off for even trying. Did he even realize how much I cried my eyes out on Katie’s floor? That was humiliating. I dealt with all the girls having their boyfriends there. I saw him in the Quidditch Weekly magazine as one of the most eligible bachelors and at the fundraiser with his bleeding red wine. Oh, no. Not this time.

Oliver opened the door and I stepped back. He was grinning wide, something I had forgotten about, and he wore a green striped collared shirt and corduroy pants. “Jane, you look amazing.”

I looked down. I had forgotten about the skirt/tank ensemble. I did look pretty good.

“I didn’t remember those legs. Blimey.” He opened the door wider so I could come in. “Sorry, don’t mean to sound like a twat. You just look great.” He bit his lip.

I made Oliver Wood bite his lip. Take that, Quidditch daughters.

No, no. That wasn’t why I was here.

“Now my mind is all over the place.” Oliver looked happy. “I was just pouring some tea—fancy a cup?”

“Sure.” I couldn’t exactly go off on him when he looked that happy, could I? No. Of course not. I hung my bag and took a seat on the sofa. A few scattered candles were lit, but didn’t need to be since the curtains were open and I could see the Londoners below. Most of them were hurrying from shop to shop.

I needed a new pair of shoes.

Oliver handed me a cup with a tea bag dangling inside and I swished it around, watching him sit awkwardly beside me. His brow was sweaty. It was adorable.

“Can we just talk?” he said suddenly, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table. “Can we just talk about random stuff for now. Catch up?”

“Catch up?” I asked, swishing the bag around some more. “Sure, we can do that.” Suddenly I was feeling strange in my own body again. This was the couch Oliver and I made out on. There was the pillow that made the plaid indent in my back. Shivers went up my spine. His lips looked wet and his hair was tossed again. For a second I saw that Quidditch player pompous smirk I was altogether too familiar with.

My stomach jolted.

“Tell me more about this Katie and George situation. Something isn’t right.”

I sat back and did exactly that. I told him all about going to Katie’s and the build-up of George not taking anything seriously and Katie taking everything too seriously—how both of them completely lost their own personalities. I went into detail about the breakup, the ring-throwing, and Katie’s absurd way of dealing with it. Cardio my arse.

“You got into a fight with her?” he asked after I told him about our row after I threw lipgloss at him.

“Yeah. I got so peeved about her ranting and raving—she was pissed at me because I got all the attention after we broke up.” I shrugged. “Her stupid bleeding breakup made me realize…well, yeah. And then we got into a row.”

“Made you realize what?” he said quietly.

“That our breakup was just as stupid. Might as well have been over napkins.”

He was silent for a moment. Then he cleared his throat. “So they still haven’t spoken?”

“Nope. George is going through mood swings and both of them obviously still love each other. Just have to get them into the same place at the same time—forcefully.” I shrugged. “I’ll figure something out I’m sure.”

“I might have an idea,” he said. “I’ll have to see how it pans out, though. I’ll keep you posted.” Oliver drained the rest of his tea. Mine was barely touched.

“So tell me about you,” I said, surprised at myself. “I don’t really want to know about all the Quidditch Weekly stuff because I’ve had enough of that to last me until I’m thirty, but what else has been going on?”

“I’m talking to my parents again,” he said somberly. “They were pretty thrilled after we broke up, but I told them to sod off anyway. Mum agreed to stop trying to fix me up. I made brownies with her last week. It was actually nice. Dad’s still a jerk, though. He always mentions the Tornadoes and the Finches and whichever other team I’m not playing for. Apparently he wants to call the Harpies again.”

“They’d give you a look,” I said playfully. He returned the smile.

“Puddlemere is going good, though. We’re practicing hard now. Really functioning just like the Gryffindor team was. We might scrape home-pitch advantage for the playoffs this year. Maybe. Not for sure, but it’s a goal.”

“I hope you do better.” I paused. “I’d definitely love to tag along to a couple games.” Was I out of my bleeding mind? I came to tell him off.

That was it, Jane. Take a deep breath and just do it.

Oliver set his cup down. “I can’t believe how far we’ve come in just a year, you know?”

Okay, well, you can wait a minute or two.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We hated each other. The ammo, the fights, the throwing of things.” He chuckled. “The mistletoe, red wine, brownies, the retreat, kissing you.”

I flushed. “Money, fighting, break up,” I added.

Oliver shrugged. “Technicalities.”

“I do miss Hogwarts, though,” I said. “I can’t wait to go back. Not too long now. I’m excited.”

“We had some fun on those grounds. The Quidditch pitch, out by the lake.” Suddenly, Oliver leapt to his feet. He was laughing.

“What? Did you forget to take something off the stove?”

“Haven’t started cooking yet,” he said. He was staring off into space. “I think I put it…no, I couldn’t possibly. Maybe…” He thrust his index finger into the air. “I have to go for a minute. Excuse me.” With that, Oliver rushed into the back bedroom and slammed the door shut.

What in blazes? I finished off my tea and placed the cup beside his on the table. It was quiet now except for one or two laughs coming from the bedroom. I shifted uncomfortably.

So much for coming to tell him off. What an overrated and difficult idea. Easier thought than done, that was for sure. He was being charming, though. That smirk. That hair. The stomach that was under that shirt. Bollocks on that. I had to stay strong.

He hurt me. He said hurtful things to me.

I couldn’t remember what they were, but they were hurtful. I apparated wrong for Merlin’s sake. I didn’t exactly have to go off on him—I could just forcefully tell him that I couldn’t go any further today—couldn’t even think about feelings—because of how hurt I was. Because he wasn’t going to do that to me again.

“Okay. Are you ready?” The door shut.

“I guess,” I said, chuckling. “I really have no idea what I’m ready for, but I’m ready.”

Oliver leapt out from the hallway, standing in the light from the window, and I gasped. Literally, I nearly choked on nothing at all.

He stood there, flexing his muscles, in the gladiator costume from last Halloween. His stomach wasn’t dirty, like before, but I could have eaten off of it. My eyes fell down his neck to his collar bone and the line of hairs trickling down his stomach. There was a plastic sword on his belt.

I couldn’t help it, I stared. My jaw fell lopsided again. A conversation on the Quidditch pitch came briefly back to me. The things I would do to him if I saw him in that costume. There was a bit of drool. I could feel it. My face was hot.

So. Never mind about that whole telling him off situation.

“What are you thinking?” Oliver asked, doing a little dance in front of me. That smirk. Cocky, sexy smirk.

I shook my head fast. Bugger! “I have no idea. I don’t even have thoughts right now. You’re ridiculous.”

“I thought you’d get a kick out of it. Found it the other day when I was cleaning.”

“Kick out of it. Yes, that’s what I’m getting.” I looked over again and my stomach jolted. I felt almost nauseated.

“So how about that lunch? You game to cook? I was thinking we could cook it together and then eat. More of a charm, I think.”

I nodded. I had to have something to do, especially if he was going to traipse around the kitchen in that. I kept staring. Oh, this was absurd. Still, I stared. Oliver Wood without a shirt was…well, he was even more muscular before and I wondered how he felt.

No! I couldn’t wonder that.

But I did anyway.

“I was thinking pork with a mushroom sauce and potatoes. Want green beans? I’m feeling them tonight. What to drink?”

I looked at the counter, finally tearing my eyes from his torso. “Wine.”

“Red, I’m assuming.” He smiled.

I managed a nod.

“You’ve got it.” He put pans on the burners and I took over the task of boiling the fresh green beans. He flicked a mushroom at me half-way through and we laughed, talking about the right way to prepare pork and how Alicia would probably kick Lee in the shins one of these days for telling her what to do.

I hadn’t laughed so much in what felt like ages. Sure, with Liam I laughed. It was what I needed. But with Oliver I had stitches in my sides as he danced around the kitchen making faces at the plates and pouring more glasses of wine. Liam would have probably prepared the whole meal while I sat in the other room waiting to be served. The situation reminded me oddly of the situation with Alicia and Bastian.

Fame, fortune, being waited on. Is that what I wanted? I didn’t know Liam that well. Who was to say he was like Bastian? The moment he talked about sailing the Mediterranean I’d have to stop speaking to him.

My fingers were tingling by the time we finished and balanced our plates and glasses into the living room. Oliver made a spread on the coffee table, setting thick, white candles in the center and closing the curtains. He broke out red silk napkins and I placed on in my lap, making a joke about how if I spilled the red wine it wouldn’t matter.

Then I did spill it and I was right. It didn’t matter. My lap was wet though.

The pork was beyond amazing. I knew Oliver could cook brownies, but I never knew about real food. I devoured it, careful to keep my eyes on my plate and not his stomach. He was watching me. The green beans were pretty lovely as well, if I do say so myself.

“This is amazing,” I whispered, eyes still downcast. I took another bite. My left hand was being subjected to carpet burn since I was leaning on it. “I miss the brownies, though.”

“They’re on the dining table covered in foil.”

“Tell me you didn’t make brownies.”

“Can’t tell you that if I did,” he said. “Made them last night.”

“Why?”

“Because I hadn’t made brownies in a while. Hadn’t even had the mix for a while.”

I paused, thinking back. Those brownies were something else. “Why can’t you let me hate you in peace?” I said, smiling.

“Did you?”

“Tell me if that stuff about you getting all those dating offers is true,” I said quickly. “Did you go on millions of dates with rich girls with jewelry worth more than Puddlmere’s stadium?”

Oliver was caught off guard. His fork dropped with a clang and fell onto his lap. “I got a lot of offers when word got out,” he said softly.

Suddenly I wanted to throw something.

“I went on one date with Bridget because I was so peeved about the whole situation—that was only a day or two after. Then it really hit me and I didn’t go on any more dates.” He paused. “Unless you count this.”

I ignored him and thought about when it hit me—that elaborate “break”.

“Why do you care so much, Jane Perry? What the hell does Liam Denters have that I don’t have?”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about that article.” I brought myself back to reality, anger subsiding. “I just couldn’t help but think it was just a good riddance to me. I guess it was. To Bridget.”

“She’s a tosser,” Oliver said. “You have to know, I’m sure you do, that I could never be interested in her. She thinks I have a pretty face. She wants the status she can’t get by being a Quidditch daughter.”

“I must sound ridiculous,” I mumbled. “Questioning you about some article when it’s none of my business. What right do I have? Then again, what am I doing sitting in your flat eating pork and thinking about those brownies on the table? I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

“What do you think I’ve been thinking about?” he said, his voice suddenly irritated and gruff. “Like I’ve been on the pitch thinking about kick saves and broom techniques.” He threw down his spoon. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here. I should have moved down by Puddlmere with the rest of the guys. Up until recently I couldn’t afford this place—I stayed here. Why? Why am I even here, Jane?” He took a breath. “Do you fancy Liam? What the hell does he even have?”

I choked. “What?”

“Do you bloody fancy him?” He was loud and I saw his fists ball the napkin into submission.

I was only just aware my jaw was lopsided staring at him in the semidarkness. I threw my own napkin at him. “No, I bleeding don’t! What business is it of yours who I fancy and who I don’t?”

“And Dodger?”

That was when I threw my spoon and hit him on the collar bone. He gaped at me. “You never stop, do you? I told you yesterday Roger is interested in the Magpies girl but you can’t stop being paranoid. You’ve always been paranoid.”

“Rightfully so! He fancies you.”

“Does not!” I shouted. “He’s my friend now. If you don’t like it, well I don’t care what you like and what you don’t. I’m done taking your rubbish.” I folded my arms. “Why do you care so damn much?”

“I’m sorry, I thought it was obvious,” he said angrily. “Maybe you should make it a bit more obvious you don’t fancy Denters—I don’t think the whole fundraiser was convinced by your bleeding snog!”

“Fuck off, like you didn’t know that was to make you jealous!” I clasped my hands over my mouth. “Why do you care?”

Oliver stared. “Maybe you should fall off a broom and I could show you.”

“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “We’ve been done for nearly a month.”

“I know. And for nearly a month I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”

“Why?” I said. Breathing hurt.

“Because I regret it. I regret the whole thing, right through the World Cup, getting hammered and Bridget and Dodger and I regret the whole bleeding thing.”

I just stared. My throat was clogged.

“Do I have to spell it out? I didn’t leave because I couldn’t go—I just didn’t want to think that was the end. You make me crazy and sometimes I want to hex you into next week, but…oh, blimey, I don’t know.” He took a deep, calming breath, which allowed me to compose myself. “I don’t want to you kissing other blokes. Not my famous teammate. Not good-for-nothing Dodger. Not some bloke you met while on holiday to wherever.”

“Oh. Well, that’s nice. Aren’t you protective?”

“Jane, you’re trying to cover it up but I know.”

“You know what?” My face was hot. I wasn’t hiding anything.

That he didn’t already know.

“Tell me how you feel,” he said.

“I feel….how do you know this isn’t going to happen again?” I said loudly. “Do you have any idea what I went through? I cleaned my house for who knows how many days. Everything was spotless. I made eggs. I went crazy! Then I saw—and the magazine—and the crying like an idiot! I said—never mind what I said.” My lungs hurt and breathing was in short, rapid bursts. “I even quit Quidditch! Do you even know what you did to me? I am not going through that again.”

“Who says you even have to?” Oliver said. “Who says it will happen again?”

“But what if it does? What if it’s just as stupid—what if it’s napkins?”

“It’s not going to be napkins. It’s not. We’ve learned. I’ve grown up. I thought you’d be impressed with this place. I learned how stupid I was before. We can fix this.” He put his hand on mine across the coffee table. “Together.”

My stomach jolted again and I was surprised to feel pricks in my eyes. “How do you know it won’t happen again?”

“Because I let you go once,” he said, squeezing my fingers. “I’m not letting you go again.”

Oliver pulled my hand, knocking his wine to the floor and my plate went sailing after it. He grabbed my shoulders and our lips met over the candles, my jaw hot and my breathing gone. I remembered. Short bursts of air and my stomach knotted. Hands were in something squishy. Smelled like mint and mushrooms. Breathing. Warmth on my cheeks and ears.

His eyes were dark when I saw them at last and he smiled at the wine on the carpet. Then he looked at me. “What do you say?” he whispered.

I probably looked vulnerable and shocked. I was both. “I couldn’t give up Quidditch.”

“Should we make it official?”

I flushed. “What do you mean?”

“Brownies.” He cocked a brow.

Great, we were together for a minute and I was thinking about sex. I watched him jump to his feet, still in the Gladiator costume with back muscles exposed in the light. I heard foil crinkle in the dining room. When he returned I could smell the chocolate as he set the tray between us.

“I’m so excited. It’s been too long since I’ve had these.” I allowed myself a giggle.

“Wait.” He swatted my hand away and then grabbed it, kissing each knuckle. He pulled me closer and then kissed me again. I forgot all about brownies until he broke it and stared at me, pompous smirk playing at his lips. “I haven’t been able to do that for a month. I have to make up for lost time.”




This requires no author note.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK!?!

(ps. thanks again for the reviews. They really mean so much to be and inspire me to get chapters out before the queue closure haha. I appreciate everything.

pss. Yes, I managed to get him shirtless as per request.

psss. Happy Holidays!)


Chapter 23: Slytherin Sweater and the Sixties
[View Online]  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


I'm going to dedicate this one to rachm34. I laughed through the whole
review of ALL CAPS REVIEWER. I refer to book 5 Harry as "All Caps Harry"
so that amused me.
Also, everyone is so skeptical about poor Jane and Oliver.
I guess I really screw with everyone's minds, huh? Enjoy!





My insides exploded every time he kissed me and suddenly it was familiar again—that feeling of snuggling up watching Fred and George and Katie swimming. His hands ran down my arms and I felt comfortable. The same. Back to a sense of normality. I loved it. Oliver’s hair smelled like peppermint. He conjured daisies out of a brownie and I smelled them until the wine started to go to my head.

We spent the evening laughing and kissing and talking about everything else we missed out on the past month. I learned about how Bridget kept twenty-nine stuffed rabbits in her room. Oliver convinced Vanter to run the practices similar to Gryffindor’s and in return Oliver would shut his mouth about the lack of effort coming from Stewart and Liam. Mrs. Wood asked about me while they were cooking. After Oliver told her about seeing me recently (he left out the part about the sticky lip gloss) she hurried to change the subject. Oliver saw me a couple other times in the city, but didn’t say anything.

I wished he had.

It was late when I yawned, sprawled out on his sofa with my legs across his lap. We were watching a documentary about the start of Quidditch in Europe and how traditions stayed in various cities. My hair was all over the pillow and I rolled over onto my side. “I don’t wanna,” I mumbled, shoving another pillow into my face.

“So don’t.”

“Oh, yeah, let me just stay here when my dad has no idea where I am. I told him I’d be back in a few hours. It has been ages. He’s probably looking for my dead body on the streets by now.”

“Send him an owl.”

“He’s going to murder me. I can’t stay over a bloke’s place.”

“Why not?” Oliver asked. “It’s just me.”

“Yeah, you that broke my heart and sent me into a mad cleaning frenzy. That would go over really well.” I chuckled.

“You can sleep on my couch and I’ll go into the bedroom and you can send your dad pictures. I don’t want you apparating home you look exhausted. And walking is out of the question. It’s dark. You’ll be killed.”

“Like my dad already thinks I am.” I smiled warmly. The protectiveness was welcome. “All right, get me a quill and I’ll write this thing. I hope all this saving me from death doesn’t result in my dad killing me.” I took a piece of parchment and started scribbling about how exhausted I was and how I was at Oliver’s and how I promised I would sleep on the sofa. Yes, I was of age and yes, I could take care of myself(ish), but Dad still worried about me and after knowing Oliver and I broke up, he probably thought I was barking mad.

Oliver kissed me sweetly on the cheek. “I’ll send this off. Good night, Jane.”

I reached up in a very un-Jane-like way and grabbed him around the neck. I kissed him. “Night, Oliver.” I snuggled into his flannel blanket and closed my eyes.

I could still smell the brownies.




There were loud clinks in the kitchen and I opened my eyes, taking in the light from outside and realizing I was still on Oliver’s sofa. It was comfy and I tried to fall back asleep, but the running water from the sink and various other noises made that impossible. I groaned. “Not a morning person,” I grumbled.

“It’s almost eleven. Quit your whining. Eggs?” He stuck his head from around the hall and smiled.

“Two.” I rolled again. “Wake me when they’re done. Be a little quieter with the cooking.”

Pans slammed against the counter and I leapt up. “Quiet enough?” Oliver asked.

“Hate your face,” I mumbled.

“I’ll never believe that.”

I heard the sizzle of butter and egg yolk. There was no way I’d be able to sleep so I sat up, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and focusing on the fact that I still had my skirt on. I pulled it down further onto my thighs since sleeping had pulled it up and went in the kitchen to pester Oliver.

My boyfriend.

Stick that in your juice box and suck it, Bridget.

And Libby, just for good measure.

He wrapped an arm around me and pulled me close, a spatula in his other hand. To my dismay, there was no gladiator costume, but instead cotton pajama pants and a white t-shirt. I smoothed my hands along his stomach.

What? I had to make up for lost time.

“Scrambled?” he asked.

“Fine to me.” I adjusted the skirt again.

“I really can’t be trusted like this,” Oliver said suddenly. “You have to go back into the living room. Turn on the television or something.”

“Excuse me?” I put my hands on my hips, moving away from him and leaning onto one leg.

“I’m going to burn the food if I keep looking over at your legs.”

I gaped at him. My face was warm. I thought about Hogwarts, about the costume I wore for Halloween and about Oliver reacting to what I wore after the kiss. “Well, I just don’t blame you at all.” Laughing, I swayed my hips as I returned to the living room, kicking up my legs and lounging back. “They are quite remarkable.”

“Fred would be jealous if he were here.”

“I miss Fred. I hope I see him again soon.”

“You will. We’re going to get Katie and George back together and we’ll see the lot all the time.”

“I will. You’ll play Quidditch.” I pulled the blanket back over my legs. “It’s safe to come in here. You won’t burn anything.”

Oliver stuck his head in again.

“Now you’re just going to burn the eggs by not watching them.” I tossed a spare piece of parchment at him. “Hey Oliver?” I asked once he went back to the food.

“Yeah?”

“You have a cute butt.”

I heard a snort. “Yeah, yeah, I know.”




Dad gave me an interesting look when I walked through the door, Oliver closing it behind us. Lou was on the sofa with him, knitting a really interesting scarf with gold and orange and red all mixed in. She smiled warmly.

“Hey, Dad,” I said casually. I knew he probably wanted to give me a wonderful lecture about staying out last night and not informing him until late (with an owl none the less), but he resisted because of Oliver and Lou. “Lou, I want you to meet my boyfriend. This is Oliver Wood.”

She beamed. “It’s nice to meet you. Jane has told me a good deal about you—how you’re such a wonderful football player.”

Oliver visibly cringed but changed it into some sort of itch on his neck. He grinned and shook her hand. “I do try. It’s really nice to meet you.” He was charming and lovable and the perfect bloke to bring home. Well, then again so was Roger. And Liam. I just had wonderful luck with men.

Pfft, yeah right.

Lou smiled widely. “Amanda is in the kitchen, Jane. She’d love to see you.” She was about to go back to knitting when she added, “Oliver, are you staying for dinner? We’re having steak and the dessert is cheesecake—‘Manda’s in there making it now.”

His eyes lit up at the thought of cheesecake. “I’d love to, thank you.”

As I steered him into the kitchen I heard a “charming boy” from Lou and I could feel Dad’s eyes on the back of my head. At least the lecture could wait. Poor Dad. He was so in the dark about my social life.

True to Lou’s word, Amanda was making (or trying to make) cheesecake on the far side of the kitchen. There was mix all over her blue dress and graham cracker crust in her mousy hair. She glanced over, mouth twisted from mixing it in a bowl, and then she coughed, catching sight of Oliver.

“You must be Amanda,” he said cheerful. Luckily, I warned him ahead of time about what happened with her and Roger so he knew what he was getting into. He still wanted to come so I told him to go it alone.

“Oh, wowee!” Amanda flattened her hair. “Who are you? You’re not Jane’s boyfriend, are you?” Leave it to her to not wait for an answer. “Because I think you’re super dishified and you need a real woman that can satisfy your needs.”

I couldn’t stop laughing so I hid behind the refrigerator door pretending to search for a soft drink.

Oliver chuckled. “Dishified, huh? You get your lingo from dear Jane. Yes, sorry, Amanda, she does have me on a rather short leash. I just can’t do anything about it.”

“Well.” She looked put out, smoothing the mix into the crust. “When you can, call me, okay? She goes through them like the plague.”

If I pushed her just right, she’d make it through the window.

“Drink, Oliver? I have to write a few letters to the girls and Roger.”

Amanda whipped around. “Told you she’s a cheater.”

“Drop dead,” I said, grabbing his hand and tugging him toward my bedroom. I shut the door (how did Dad feel about that?) and grabbed some parchment. Oliver flopped down on my bed and started shuffling through my stuff to curb his boredom.

What was I supposed to write to the girls? I shot Roger a quick letter summarizing the fundraiser and meeting Valerie gig—gave him some advice on Magpies girl—and then added a quick P.S. Oliver and I are back together. More to follow.

I held the quill feather against my lips and pondered the letters I was supposed to write to Alicia, Katie, and Angelina.

“Is this your mum?”

I whipped around. Oliver was holding Mum’s picture and she was smiling. “Yes, it is.”

“You look just like her.”

“So Dad says.” I tried to smile but I felt slightly sick. It wasn’t like Oliver was judging me. I just felt as if my secret was out in the open, being oogled on my bed.

“She looks wonderful.”

“She was,” I said lightly, feeling a smile well up. “She really was.” I cleared my throat, turning back to the blank pieces of parchment. “What in blazes am I supposed to tell the girls?”

“Make it short and sweet and get changed for dinner. You look like an innocent walk of shame.” He smirked.


Dear Leesh,

So yeah. Hope you’re doing okay. I hope Lee is doing okay.

Oliver and I are back together.

Surprise.

Love,

Jane


Katie,

How are you? How are your parents? I miss shopping.

Oliver and I are back together.

Love,

Jane


Angelina,

Remember how you asked if communication could have saved Oliver and I’s relationship? Well, yes. It did. We communicated. We’re back together.

Love,

Jane


I could smell the steak a while later, lounging around in my locked bedroom with Oliver. We were just talking and laughing, but the locking precaution was to keep Amanda’s prying skirt-thieving hands out. “Jane!” Dad cried, knocking a few times. “Dinner’s almost done and you have a letter out here you might want to read.”

I cocked a brow and rushed out there, expecting an all-caps letter from Alicia begging for details. However, it was an envelope with a green wax stamp on the back. I turned it over in my hands and looked at Oliver once or twice before ripping it open.


Jane,

I hope you had fun at the fundraiser. I can’t think you enough for going with me. It was more than I could have asked for—plus you ended up with a pocket full of writers’ cards when you left. I had an absolutely fabulous time.

I’d love to see each other again some time.

Take care,

Liam Denters



I read it over several times. He’d love to see me again some time. Take care? Was I just rejected by Liam Denters? How was that possible? I mentally retraced my steps. We went out to drinks. We had a date and did dancing and he asked me to a fancy fundraiser dinner as his date. We danced. He got me amazing connections. We kissed on the dance floor. And I should “take care”.

One less thing I had to take care of I supposed, but I could still feel my blood get hot.

Whatever. Like I even cared.

I didn’t, but still. I couldn’t remember the last time I was rejected. Well, once maybe in my second year by a Ravenclaw sixth year but that was legit. Rejection did not sit well with me (except it would have sat well had I not made Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Thank you, Oliver Wood).

“Ouch,” Oliver said, peering over my shoulder. “Take care. I guess he took a hint.”

“Hint? What hint?” I looked at him as we made our way into the kitchen. “You didn’t do anything, did you?”

“Why does it have to be me?” He chuckled. “Why couldn’t it just be you having eyes for me at the fundraiser and him noticing it?”

“You did do something.”

“I might have hex—erm, punched him at practice and said rather loudly this morning I was going to see you yesterday but nothing more than that.”

“Ridiculous,” I mumbled. “I can’t believe you would do that.” I pulled out the chair and sat beside him with Amanda in front of me. The little vixen was making eyes at him.

“Yes, you can believe it. I’m selfish.” Oliver beamed and turned his attention to Lou, who was trying to balance the potatoes in one hand and grab the steak plate with another. He leapt up. “Let me help you with that—here.” With a charming smile, he took the plate and set it gently on the center of the table. Amanda was practically drooling.

Once everyone was seated I let the awkwardness begin as we all dug in. There was silence for a bit while forks scraped and I struggled to cut my steak because my hand was asleep and the tingles were like little needles. Amanda kept missing the meat with her fork, the little shit.

In a matter of weeks I went from giving her the benefit of the doubt to having thoughts of dumping her off Big Ben.

“So tell me, Oliver,” Lou said lightly, “how did you and Jane end up together? You are together, right? I shouldn’t assume.”

“Yes, we are.” Oliver smiled and squeezed my hand. “The first time we were together it was after several years of wanting each other dead.” Lou chuckled. “But then after everyone else knew we were perfect together I fell in love with her and caught her during—erm—a football match. Of course we split recently.”

“And my flat never looked so clean,” Dad said. He winked. I narrowed my eyes.

“But you’re back together,” Lou said.

Oliver laughed. “Yea, I guess we are. It took a bit of stupidity and wine, but we made it.”

Amanda prodded her steak around the plate with a scowl on her face.




“I should get going soon,” Oliver said. We had been in my bedroom for a while cleaning up and going through old photos and letters. He hoisted himself up off my bed (Where he used the squashed quilt as a pillow) and grabbed his shoes. “I don’t want to, but I have practice early and Vanters will murder me if I’m not in top form.”

“All right. I know Dad will want to chat anyway. I’m prepared to look innocent and cute.”

Oliver smiled. “Do you think you can get away for the weekend?”

“What do you mean? Like away from here?”

“Like do you think your dad would let you stay at my place for the weekend?”

I wrinkled my nose. “I’m not sure. I can ask, though. I’d…like to. I think.”

He chuckled. “Let me know, okay, love? I have the weekend off from practice and I’d like to make some more brownies and stay up late watching Quidditch documentaries again.” He kissed my cheek. “Bye, love.”

My cheeks were hot. “Bye, Oliver.”




Dad poked his head in my door and I shut my book. I knew it was coming. I was actually surprised it took him until later that evening to come in and talk. He had one of those “dad-faces” on and closed the door softly behind him. “Lou and Amanda just took off.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Did I hear her telling Oliver to call her?”

I nodded. “That’s her. She fancies everyone.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about all of this?”

“I didn’t know.”

Dad sat down on the end of my bed. “You didn’t know you were going to see Oliver yesterday?”

“I mean I didn’t know what was going to happen—I could have left there the same way I left there after we broke up—pissed off and apparating to southern France. How was I supposed to know we’d end up back together?” I said this softly.

“Are you—are you happy? Is this what you want? I mean…is it going to happen again?”

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t say anything. I just shrugged because it was honest. I didn’t think it would happen again—Oliver and I were one of those were couples that just seemed to fit together. Until we started yelling.

“I wish you would have at least let me know earlier you weren’t coming back.”

“I’m sorry,” I said honestly. “We were up watching the Quidditch documentary and then I sort of realized what time it was and he didn’t want me to apparate home since I was so tired and walking was out of the question and—I’m sorry.”

Dad cracked a brief smile. “It’s okay, Jane. You know I’m not one of those dads that gives you a lecture about being with a boy. You live in a tower with a hundred boys. I just want you to be careful and smart.”

“I’d like to think I’m both of those things.”

“You’re your mother’s daughter. Of course you are.”

I shifted on the bed, staring over at the picture of Mum on my bedside stand. “Can I stay at Oliver’s this weekend?”

He choked a bit. “One thing at a time—are all the kids doing this? Scaring the devil out of their fathers and making them imagine things that aren’t good?”

“Like what? The other stuff that never possibly goes on at Hogwarts?” I rolled my eyes.

“I’m not going to stop you from staying at Oliver’s, but I want you to be completely comfortable with the idea. Are you?”

I thought about it—spending a couple of days at Oliver’s flat with his newly full kitchen and interesting figurines. I’d been there quite a few times—lounging around and watching Quidditch and going to strange diners around the corner. I was so comfortable. It was Oliver. My odd gladiator in shining muscles. Well, they were probably covered in sweat. I realized I hadn’t responded for a while.

“Yes, actually. I’m weirdly comfortable with it. Yeah, I am.”

Dad placed a hand on my shoulder. “As long as you’re comfortable with it I’m not going to say no. It’s not really my place. I want you to have fun and not resent me for holding you back.” He laughed at it. “Your grandparents did that to me. They wouldn’t let me go see your mum like this—kept us separate during the holidays and for some time after. Chaperoned us on dates. It was humiliating.”

I pictured Mrs. Wood complaining about the sticky tiles of the diner while Oliver and I were a few tables over trying to hide our conversation. Ouch.

“Thanks, Dad.” I tried to smile. “I appreciate it. Trust is a good thing to have.” That sounded lame and kind of un-me, but the look on his face showed me it was the right thing to say. I was really lucky to have a dad like him. I could have been chaperoned.

He left and the door shut quietly. I was left to my own thoughts, staring up at the ceiling and thinking about my future weekend with Oliver (after I owled him and told him yes of course). We’d watch more Quidditch documentaries and snuggle up on the sofa even though it was hot as blazes in there. The couch was comfortable, but after sleeping on it I wasn’t sure I could do that again.

But then again, where would I sleep?

My eyes grew wide. There was the sofa and his bed. Oliver’s bed. With him. In it. He probably wouldn’t have a shirt on. Maybe not pants—oh, fuck, what if Oliver didn’t have pants on in his bed?

What if Oliver wanted to have sex with me?

Son of a bucket!

I leapt up in bed and nearly flew across the room, knocking down frames and books on the way. I grabbed for parchment and sent three identical letters before I could catch my breath. If anyone could help me through this moment of panic, it was Angelina.

Ang,

Oliver invited me for the weekend. I think he wants to have sex. WHAT DO I DO?!

Jane


Seriously, though, what was I supposed to do? I ripped open my closet. Nothing sexy other than some low cut tops and a cute sweater. But nothing really sexy. Like real sex. No lingerie. Shit. Should I buy something? Should I not and be innocent and cute? What if I wasn’t experienced enough for him? Fuck, he dated Libby and she was a bit of a whore.

Boo, you whore.

But maybe she knew “the moves”. What were the moves? It’s not like I was educated. Hogwarts didn’t have a sex ed class and Dad just told me about condoms and other magical ways to protect yourself (which was by far THE most awkward conversation I had ever had up to that point, counting the uses of crup poo). I thought about those racy magazines—I couldn’t read one of those. Shit!

My whole body felt as if it was covered in sweat. This couldn’t be happening to me. It was like no warning. Oliver just expected me to jump into bed with him after we started dating again—I couldn’t blame him, I was quite the catch, but seriously? This soon? I wasn’t educated on sexy stuff yet. I knew how to make his jaw drop with a skirt but not like this. Did I need a pick-up line? Did my knickers need to match my bra?

THIS WAS TOO HARD.

“Jane?”

I ripped open the door. “How did you get here that fast?”

Angelina pushed her way into the room and closed the door hard behind her. “I was in London picking out something for Fred. He’s taken to wearing disguises to get away from George. Tell me everything. I got your owl about you and Oliver being back together too—what the hell? I feel so out of the loop. Spill.”

She sat across from me at my desk while I twisted my fingers and retold the story of yesterday—of wine and brownies and snogging and sleeping on the sofa. She said “aww” at exactly the right moments and hugged me when I told her about the romantic things he said. She vowed to off Amanda for me and even asked questions about dinner. Then I told her about the weekend and Dad saying I could go.

“Did he ever actually hint at having sex?” Angelina asked.

“Well, no, but it’s Oliver. He’s that sort of guy, isn’t he? All suave and mysterious. He wouldn’t mention it, but there was definitely a glint in his eye—a very sexual glint.”

She laughed. “So you’re going to have sex this weekend. Maybe tomorrow. Can you handle it?”

“You’ve had sex—can I handle it?” I twisted my fingers so many times they were red and coarse.

“How am I supposed to know?” Angelina was nearly beside herself with my nerves. “I think you’ll be fine, Jane. You’re too nervous. Are you…you know, ready? Like do you think your relationship is ready?”

“I don’t know, we just got back together! Before that we were together for like a month. That’s not very long, is it? Don’t people usually wait longer than that? What’s the average time?”

“Am I suddenly a relationship expert? You’ve known Oliver for ages, so that might be different than two people that just randomly meet and hook up a month later.”

“But I hated him.”

“You don’t hate him now.”

“Just tell me what to do.”

Angelina cocked a brow at me and it looked strangely Fred-like. “I’m not telling you what to do, you do that for yourself. It’s exciting, though, isn’t it? Your first time. It might be this weekend. Do you have something to wear?”

“Fuck, I knew I needed something! I have a sweater! It’s not even sexy—it’s green. I’ll roll up there looking like a Slytherin and he’ll feed me to his figurines.”

“You’ve fallen off your rocker completely.” She placed both hands on my shoulders. “Get a grip. I wish for a second I knew what you were talking about, but instead I’m going to ignore it and tell you to go wing it. You might have sex. You might not. But don’t do it unless you’re ready to take that step in your relationship. You can’t just press ‘undo’ and it’ll go away and things will go back to the way they were.”

“I think I’m ready. Maybe. I think I am.”

Ang shrugged. “That’s for you to decide—but just in case, we need to get you something other than a Slytherin sweater.”

“Well, it’s not actually Slyherin…”

“Good enough to be.” She pointed toward the sweater in my closet. “Let’s go shopping.”




The following morning we found several good deals at a boutique up the street. One was a lacy red situation with a corset front and another was just a cute black and white polka dotted matching set and for good measure I found a few other things to go with them. Angelina helped me figure out how they worked and we laughed about my lack of expertise with lingerie later over sundaes. I felt like I was out shopping for liquor with Oliver.

Angelina even helped me pack for the weekend—cute outfits, skirts, something nice in case we went out for dinner, mini toiletries because he had a bachelor pad, and even a few things to occupy my time (“In case you wake up before him and you’re bored. Fred always slept in and it bored me to tears before I thought to bring a book along,” Ang said).

I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was on my shoulders, spilling over my arms and onto my not-green shirt. I didn’t think it was very sexy. Maybe Oliver did. At least my legs were sticking out of plaid shorts. He enjoyed those.

“Are you ready?” Angelina said this quietly, zipping the rest of my suitcase closed.

“Ready for this? No. Ready to take the next step in my relationship? I might be. I think I’ll figure it out when I get there. How can I really tell?”

She made a face. “Just don’t jump the gun. Just the Keeper.” She laughed. “Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.”

I gave her a quick hug, told Dad good-bye, and left for Oliver’s (I did all of this while my stomach was on the verge of exploding and my hands were shaking).





“Hey, love!” Oliver pulled the door wide and took my suitcase. “You look wonderful.”
I smiled nervously and surveyed him. Puddlemere polo shirt. Dark brown pants. Cocky grin. Ruffled hair. Was I ready to have sex with him? It seemed like such a huge step. I was only seventeen. That was young, right?

He was so dishy, though. I could see the muscles under his shirt. Yum.
Because I found him sexy, did that mean I wanted to have sex?

Being a teen was the most complex thing in the world.

“Jane, are you all there?” Oliver waved a hand in front of my face. “I asked if you wanted something to drink. I have juice and soda and water.”

“Water is fine, thanks.” I lowered myself onto the sofa.

“Sure thing—oh, I was in the middle of this excellent replay game. It’s a throw-back from the sixties for the Cup. Look at the hair!” He chuckled while pouring the water and handed it to me. I could barely watch the game. I didn’t even know who was playing for the Cup. I didn’t care. Oliver kept yelling things about penalties and mascots and all I could do was let the haze in front of my eyes take over as I thought about the lacy number in my suitcase.

“Did you see that? Blasted cheater—can’t believe you support the Harpies. That club is insane. Stick to the head, that was.” Oliver took another drink and spoke with his hands. “Get her—I said get her! Get a better bleeding broom! The sixties was a difficult time for Quidditch, blimey.”

Was Oliver into lace? Did Libby wear things like that just for kicks? I could see her modeling lingerie and heels in Oliver’s dorm room. I hated her a little more.

I was starting to shake again, heart pounding loudly in my ear. I couldn’t hear the television anymore. When was he going to make his move? Was he going to wait until it was time to go to sleep, slipping a sneaky hand around my waist and pulling me into a provocative kiss? Would he sneak up behind me in the kitchen as I refilled my water? Catch me off guard while watching the game? My head snapped over. He didn’t look in the right mind set to catch me off guard. My hands were twisting in my lap again.

Would Oliver still find me attractive with my clothes off?

If I wasn’t any good, would he tell me? Would we break up eventually?

When was he going to do it? Why was stupid Quidditch on when my mind was going a zillion meters per minute? I couldn’t stand it. My feet felt numb and my body was cold and I was on the verge of simply freaking out and screaming and Oliver yelled something about a Seeker diving and what the hell was I going to do if he just reached over and asked me to have sex with him?!

I leapt to my feet. “So are we going to have sex or what?

Mid-drink, Oliver spit his water all over the coffee table and television. Then he started coughing and choking, his eyes the size of china tea saucers.




A/N: Sorry about the delay in posting, everyone. I think this might actually have been the longest time I've gone. Winter Writing Rut struck and I was under its spell for a couple weeks. But I finished off this chapter today and into the queue it went! I hope you all enjoyed it...especially the Jane freaking out stuff. She hasn't had nearly enough stuff to freak out about.

Another note, I started a blog. It's called Project 2010 and it's covering a lot of things I hope to accomplish this year, like being healthy in a college environment, writing (yeah, a few story things are on there), and other oddities about my life. The link is on my author page at the top so feel free to drop by and check it out.

What do you think about this chapter? Favorite parts? Theories for what the HECK is going to happen once Oliver stops dying?

Thanks again for everyone's wonderful insight and reviews. You're all amazing! I appreciate it SO much, especially while I was going through my rut.


Chapter 24: Malicious
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For lokita95hp for teaching me some Spanish, holunder for updating myspace
about me updating, MagicallyClumsie for reading everything I have, and
everyone who is following me on Twitter and my blog now. Thanks!




PREVIOUSLY on HIDE & SEEK
(cue dramatic soap opera music)

When was he going to do it? Why was stupid Quidditch on when my mind was going a zillion meters per minute? I couldn’t stand it. My feet felt numb and my body was cold and I was on the verge of simply freaking out and screaming and Oliver yelled something about a Seeker diving and what the hell was I going to do if he just reached over and asked me to have sex with him?!

I leapt to my feet. “So are we going to have sex or
what?

Mid-drink, Oliver spit his water all over the coffee table and television. Then he started coughing and choking, his eyes the size of china tea saucers.






“I’m sorry—what?

I became vaguely aware of the situation. Cheers were erupting out of the television because one of the teams won the Cup. I was standing awkwardly, chest rising and falling quickly, and my legs shook under me. Water was in puddles on the coffee table and seeping into a magazine from June. It was dripping down the television screen. Oliver took another drink to stop the choking. His face was lit up like a bleeding firework.

“Uh.” What did I just say?

Jane. WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!

I stepped back. Fuck. Shit. I stuck my figurative foot right in my mouth and asked Oliver Wood if we were going to have sex—or what? Real smooth, Casanova. And I was frozen, arms stuck at my sides like they were glued and lungs nearing capacity.

“What are you talking about, love?” Oliver tugged at my arm, but I didn’t budge.

“Uh.” I coughed a bit. My vocal cords had failed me. Way to go, vocal cords.

“Jane, sit down.” He tugged at my arm again.

I could feel my face—hot and damn near sweaty. The lacy thing was still in my suitcase. Along with a couple other things. Fucking shit.

Essentially, I just asked him to have sex with me. I wondered what Ang would think of my sly moves. Did I even want to have sex? Certainly not right at this moment, though the crowd cheering was encouraging. It wasn’t intimate or special or anything. It was us sitting on the sofa watching Quidditch. Well, it was him watching a Cup replay and me spazzing out.

Shit.

That was exactly what it was. Oliver wasn’t going to put the moves on me (what were these moves I kept thinking about?) while we watched the replay. I looked at his face. He was grinning.

Fuckin’ grinner.

“Jane.” This time he stood up, grabbed both my shoulders, and forced me to sit back down on the sofa. He tilted my head and kissed me gently on the mouth. I could feel his stubble on my cheeks. It made me itchy. “Snap out of it, love. What’s this all about? Have you been reading those racy magazines again?”

Damn him for finding my Witch’s Cosmo in my bedroom drawer when he was over.

“No. Well. Holy crap.” I forced the muscles in my thighs and arms to relax. “I just thought…I mean, I didn’t think before, but then I started to think…”

“Overboard?”

“Heavily,” I whined. “I don’t know, I was just thinking about you inviting me over and where I was going to sleep and then it just sort of…yeah, spiraled out of control.” I still couldn’t feel my fingertips and I kept my gaze fixed determinedly at the fans rushing the pitch on television. Lucky buggers. “Ang even came over to calm me down.”

“Oh? And I see that didn’t work.” Oliver’s voice suggested he was amused by the whole situation. I bet he was smiling. Sodding jerk.

“Something like that.”

“So where do you want to sleep?”

“I don’t know!”

Oliver laughed loudly and put an arm around my shoulder, bringing me in so my cheek was pressed firmly against his chest. “Well, here’s what I was thinking.” He paused long enough to clear his throat and mute the television. The silence gave me chills. “I was thinking we could sleep in the same bed. I’m a little nervous about it, of course, but the thought of you being here all weekend and not being able to…I don’t know, I just thought it would be nice.”

“Be able to what, Oliver?” Did I now have cards to play in this humiliating conversation?

“I just wanted to wake up next to you. Sod off, Jane.” He tapped my cheek playfully. “I thought it would be nice. But if it makes you uncomfortable, we can nix that plan and I’ll take the couch and you can have my bed.”

The choice was up to me. I sat there, feeling his fingers absentmindedly running across my back. “No, I’d like to wake up next to you. It would be nice.”

“Good. And I promise not to try anything so you won’t be super paranoid.” He chuckled and I smacked him on the stomach. The sexy stomach.

I had a sudden flash of me wearing something increasingly lacy with heels standing in the hallway while Oliver watched Quidditch. He flipped it off without looking back at the television and tripped over himself to get to me.

Whoa.

Calm it down, Jane.

“What are you thinking about?”

“You seem so in control,” I said, looking up at him. “What happened to the Oliver Wood who blushed when thinking about sex earlier this summer? I seem to remember a conversation that went around in several circles.”

“I’m in control because I wasn’t the one thinking it this time.” He laughed. “Okay, I can’t say I wasn’t thinking it because pretty much every time you walk into a room I’m thinking it, but I wasn’t going to say anything—like usual.”

“Pretty much every time I walk into a room? Horn dog.”

“You can’t do that—I’m a man!”

I pushed against him, but he wouldn’t let me sit up. His arm was forcing me to be plastered against his chest muscles. “Yeah right. You’re just a pervy boy with an agenda.”

Oliver shifted and kissed me hard. He opened his eyes minutes later, which were spinning to me, and issued a warm smile. “Maybe you’re right about me. We should just do it right now. Right here. On this couch.”

I blushed. “Shut up.” I kissed him again and I considered that topic closed for the time being.





It wasn’t, however, closed for the rest of the night. Sure, we snuggled up on the sofa and watched more documentaries. Then we made food and had a bit of alcohol. Followed by snogging. I even arranged the various hair products on his bathroom shelf because they annoyed me. Yeah, Oliver used four different hair products. Not all at once, I was certain, but the boy did have good hair. I couldn’t deny that. After that we took a walk down by some jewelry stores where I proceeded to whine about my lack of jewelry (to which Oliver shoved me into the door), but he bought me vanilla ice cream so it was a successful trip in the end.

He kissed me before we crossed the street. Just put his arms around me and snogged me right on the corner. Little kid watched. I saw his ugly nose wrinkle. Bugger off, kid.

He held my hand on the way upstairs and refused to let go in order to unlock the door. He took out his wand (I checked for Muggles) and unlocked it. He squeezed my hand.

The subject of sex came up later.

I was in the bathroom changing into my pajamas and my bag’s contents had fallen onto the green mat. I shuffled through them. Jeans, skirts, and cute dresses came flying out at me. I saw one regular t-shirt. I laughed at the lacy things. They almost taunted me, and a weird part of me wanted to put them on. I checked the side pouches, my heart racing. What the heck?

My pajamas weren’t there and unless I wanted to wear my undies and a short t-shirt, I was out of luck in the pj department.

My head reluctantly poked out of the door, hair finding its way into my eyes. Son of a bitch. “Oliver?”

“Yeah?” I could hear the channels flipping. Was that a belch?

“Um. Can I borrow a t-shirt or something?”

“For what?”

“To sleep in.”

I saw him fall over the side of the couch and into the hallway. “What? To sleep in?”

“I forgot my pajamas, perv.” I laughed, making sure the door was covering my clothesless body. I made a face. “Just give me one of your Puddlemere t-shirts or something. I’ll sleep in that.”

“That is going to kill me.”

“I won’t get it bleeding dirty!”

Oliver shook his head and paced back and forth in the hall. “No, I can just picture it. Gah. Jane, why couldn’t you just bring something overly baggy so I couldn’t see your body? No, that wouldn’t even work.”

“Get the visual of the retreat?”

“With you wearing my damn clothes? Yeah.” He placed his head against the wall, groaning. “Okay, you can wear a sodding t-shirt.”

“It’s either be turned on by that or by the lace. Up to you.”

He marched into the bedroom and slammed the door.

“I know what you’re doing in there!” I let out a laugh and waited for him to return with what turned out to be a soft cotton Puddlemere tee with lettering on the front. I slipped it on, added some boyshorts to the combo, and walked out into the living room with my bag in tow. “Don’t look,” I said.

Oliver covered his eyes. “Don’t worry, I don’t need to look. The visual I’m getting is enough. Thanks.”

“Okay, I could go home and get pajamas you know. Or just wear some of your pajama pants.” I flopped down on the sofa and put the blanket over my legs. I poked him to get him to uncover his eyes. They were a deep, lusting brown. I had no idea brown eyes could look lusty, but his did it. Maybe it was the pupils. Or just the color in general. His were a darker brown than mine, maybe that was it. Did my eyes lust? I wondered.

Oliver stared at me, his eyes falling from my own down my torso until I was covered by his blanket. He let out a cough. Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to the television.

“So what’s the sleeping arrangement for tonight?” I asked this casually, careful not to infer anything or make him look at me again.

“Are you tired?”

I shrugged. “I’m getting there. Eyes are a little droopy.”

“Jane Perry, queen of the weird words.”

“I’m not forgetting your use of the word ‘pang,’ Oliver.”

“Well played.” He laughed and switched to another station. “I was thinking we could crash in my bed tonight. That okay with you?”

“Fine by me.” I fidgeted with a few magazines.

Oliver turned to me again. The lustiness was back. His lips were wet. Bugger. “Let’s be off then.” He grabbed my hand and tugged me up (how he managed to do that and turn off the television was beyond me) and down the hallway. His bedroom was dark except for the small lit lamp in the corner propped up on an unused desk (That’s not entirely true, he had an arrangement of wrinkled clothes on top). He turned around as I was shutting the door and made an odd choking noise.

“Huh?”

Oliver lifted his shirt off, barely breaking eye contact with my lower body. “Can’t even handle it. You look amazing. Maybe you should just wear that everywhere.”

“I’m sure the boys would love it.”

“Damn, those legs.” He wrapped his arms around me and we fell backward onto the bed, my hair spewed over the comforter and his lips on mine. I sank into the kiss, tangling my legs in his and let my emotions take over.

No, we didn’t do it. Wow, though, it was hot. At one point he bit at my collar bone and…oh, never mind.





Oliver’s breath was on my neck when I opened my eyes. It was hot in his room and I wanted to kick off the covers, but I was too comfortable. His arm was draped lazily over my stomach and I could feel the hair on his legs against mine. It was bright—light was streaming in through the white shades.

I grumbled. Oliver made a noise that suggested he wanted nothing to do with waking up.

“Morning,” I said.

“No. Sleep.”

“I recall you waking me up last time making eggs. Where’s the toast?”

Oliver buried his face in my neck. “Nope. I’ve got you here now.”

I tried to get up, but his grip tightened on my waist. He kissed my collar bone and my body went limp. A chill went to my toes. I descended into the sheets as he shifted to kiss me again, softer.

“You’re beautiful,” Oliver whispered, lips grazing mine.

“You’re a romantic sod.”

“You love it.”

I smiled and kissed him. His hair was messy and tickled my forehead. “Why do we ever fight?”

“Because you’re impossible.”

I laughed and smacked his bare shoulder. Then I kissed his neck, just below the ear.

“Bad idea, Perry.”

“Tell me why.” Why was I suddenly Frisk McFriskerson? Rather confident? I felt exhilarated.

“Do you want me to be plain?”

“I want you to be you.” I kissed his earlobe. I knew what I was doing. The smell of his shampoo was intoxicating.

“I want you.”

I let out a laugh. “That’s normal.”

“More than usual.” He groaned, shutting his eyes. “Something about waking up next to you and your current, rather odd, behavior…”

“What’s the matter? Didn’t wake up next to Libby too often?” I released a pompous smile.

“Aw, hell, Perry. Well, that’s done now. Want eggs?” He hoisted himself up and threw his legs over the side of the bed.

I squealed with laughter, wrapping him in a hug. “Go take a cold shower and I’ll make breakfast.” I reached back to fluff my pillow.

“Good girl, get in the kitchen.” Oliver stood, chuckling, and pulled plaid pajama pants up over his boxers.

I stared.

His torso was red and flushed and my eyes were glued to the tiny patch of hair stretching below his navel. I recognized his smirk from seeing my expression.

Then I realized what he said.

“Hey!” I shouted, leaping up on the bed. I jumped onto him, wrapping my legs around his back and engulfing him in a kiss. “You’re making breakfast now, tosser.”

“Oh no, I’m not.” He stepped forward and down back onto the bed, kissing me hard and I forgot all about eggs for a while.





“Quidditch Weekly came this morning,” said Oliver. He tossed it over to me on the sofa and leafed through envelopes with a frown.

I smiled, opening and skipping articles on the Tornadoes and how they were spending the summer with the Cup—apparently the Keeper Dillans took it back to America with him. Didn’t care.

Harpies called up a Seeker to practice with. Pfft, I could do that. Didn’t much care though.

New logo for the Arrows.

Tons of ads for fan robes and posters and t-shirts.

Aha!

“Bastian’s in here,” I said, staring at the photo of Bastian Ricci next to a tall woman with black hair. “She’s snagged another woman. Finally over Alicia I see.”

“Rebound?”

“She does resemble Bridget.”

“Not amused.” Oliver was scratching away with a quill at the dining room table. “Happy for him though. Damn.”

“What?” I glanced up.

“I’ll have to owl them and tell them I’m not on the eligible bachelor list anymore.”

“I guess the fan mail will end.” I laughed.

“I hope not!”

I threw an old copy of Quidditch Weekly at him, though I missed horribly. “You’re ridiculous.” I was about to finish calling him names, but the owl at the window distracted me.

The letter it held was in a familiar script.

Jane-

WHAT?!

-Alicia.


I laughed. “I miss everyone,” I said softly, wondering what Katie’s reaction would be to the letter I sent her about Oliver and I being back together. “I love summer, but I hate that I don’t get to see everyone as often. It’ll be even weirder after we all leave.”

“I’d like to see Fred soon.” Oliver put the end of the quill in his mouth, deep in thought. “I feel a bit bad for roughing him up before. What a loyal bloke.” He tossed the quill, crinkled the parchment, and came over to sit with me. “I miss yelling at those incompetent sods during practice.”

“Just yell at Liam. Clearly he is the same way.” I smiled at the sudden look of jealousy. “Oh, don’t give me that look. You rebounded with Bridget.”

“Why do so many guys fancy you?” Oliver snaked his arms around me.

“I’m just awesome. Obviously.”

He kissed me. “Yeah. Obviously.”





Several hours later we were back on the sofa, empty plates on the coffee table in front of us and blanket draped over our legs. The channels were being flipped and I was drifting off listlessly, eyelids becoming heavier and heavier even though it was still early.

“I hate that we fought over not seeing each other enough,” Oliver said. It was sudden and I jerked awake. “I know I’m here in London, but what if that is a problem again? Quidditch season is starting and I’ll be away for road games and then you’ll be going back to Hogwarts before we know it. What are we supposed to do?”

“Work around it?” I mumbled.

“How though? How am I supposed to see you?” Oliver fell silent, flipping onto the weather station. It was supposed to rain that night.

I snuggled into his chest and closed my eyes.

“I’ve got it!”

“Loudness? Yeah, you’ve got that.” I groaned dramatically and pulled the blanket to my ears.

“No, I’ve got how we’re going to see each other more often. You’re going to come to some of my practices!”

I opened an eye. “What?”

“Yeah! Yeah!” He sounded like a school boy who was presented his first broom. “You can come and watch like people used to do for the Gryffindor practices, except these won’t be before dawn.”

“Only because you’re not the captain,” I said.

“That way you can see me right before and right after—and I can show you how good I am.”

“I’ve seen you play for six years.”

“I’m so good, aren’t I?” Oliver laughed and ruffled my hair. “What do you think? Good idea or shit idea?”

“I like it actually. I’ll be able to see a closed practice and scope out the talent. I’ll report back to Valerie Gig.” I stared up at him and was surprised to see the glint in his eyes. My whole body went numb and I stopped breathing. It was like every inch of my body was being kissed at that second and my throat closed up. His eyes were a painful brown, amber near the center with an agenda.

He kissed me, grabbing my shoulders and propping me up. It hurt, but not bad enough. My legs tingled below me.

For once, I felt perfectly serious.

Oh, no. That had to change. I wasn’t serious. I wasn’t even passionate very often.

He was just so intense, so sincere. I could feel it on his body, on his lips.

But was that me? Obviously not, considering I was thinking about the seriousness of my own attention span while I was snogging my boyfriend. Ah, boyfriend. What a dish he was. Way dishier than Roger or Liam.

Yep. Just totally thought about Roger and Liam while making out. Sick girl, Jane. Sick Sick!

Okay, focus on the kiss.

Great kiss. Really, this boy could knock it out of the park. Made my stomach feel like a weird consistency of pudding and grape jam. That did not sound tasty though.

I was trying to make myself laugh while snogging. I needed to do something—this moment didn’t need to be this serious!

I thought about my bag. About the lacy things I had in it. My legs tingled again. My stomach jolted at the very thought and I felt electric. What else was in there? Some outfits. Dresses.

And then there was the thing I packed just in case. I mean, he did it, so why shouldn’t I? I paid good money.

I yanked myself away from the kiss. Oliver’s eyes widened, perplexed. I saw him open and clothes his mouth, trying to put together any sort of puzzle piece that might link him to why in blazes I broke a perfectly sexy kiss. He’d never know.

I jumped up, backing away slowly.

“Jane, what on earth are you doing?”

I smiled maliciously. I even felt a little malicious. That sounded like a good name for a kitten. Little Malicious, walking around causing trouble and whatnot. I wanted a kitten. Mental note.

“Be right back.” I leapt back as his arms tried to grab for me and rushed into his bedroom where I found my discarded bag with clothes coming out of every hole. Why did I pack that much?

A little bit of snooping around led me to what I was looking for. I smirked devilishly.

No, maliciously.




“Close your eyes.” I was in the hallway trying hard not to smile.

Oliver groaned. “What’s this about? You’re acting weird.”

“Story of my life,” I said. “Seriously. Close your eyes.”

“They’re bloody closed, woman! What is this about?”

I walked forward, careful to watch my step, and stood directly in front of him. I placed a hand delicately on my hip and bit my lip for effect (milk it for all it was worth). “All right, Wood, what do you think?”

He opened his eyes and at first I thought he was in a bit of a shock. He coughed a little, though I assumed it was a manlier version of a choke. Oliver took his eyes from the tips of my stiletto heels, up onto my bare calves and thighs to the very costume I wore on Halloween: the sexy nurse. And yeah, I may have hiked up the skirt a bit, but I didn’t need to. His tongue might as well have been hanging out of his mouth with drool dripping onto the carpet. He looked at the v-cut top. Stared at it. Then up to my face and the little nurse’s perched on top of my head.

“Jane.” He could barely get the word out and I barely heard it. It was more like a noise in the back of his throat. Oliver’s eyes were drinking me in and if they were hands the entire situation would have been severely inappropriate. Not that I didn’t want it to be.

I did, didn’t I?

That was my entire goal. Captivated by it, really. The whole time since Oliver and I had started dating to begin with I had been engulfed in this sense of lust surrounding him. I adjusted the placement of my leg, balancing on the other and letting my hip fall out. What was it about Oliver would that made me want to tear all of his clothes off?

Um. Everything.

Even his malicious nature.

Bugger off, kitten.

Then it was like something inside him snapped. I didn’t even see it coming, but within split seconds I was off the floor and into the bedroom and I heard the door slam shut and my back against the bed and we were kissing again, him groaning into my mouth and me lifting the shirt over his head so his chest was pressed against me. It was warm and flushed, which I assumed I was as well.

My nurse hat was crumpled on the bed beside me, my arm jabbing into it painfully, but my lips were locked and heart was thumping up into my throat. It almost hurt and I grabbed the back of Oliver’s hair. His body was rigid on top of mine, fingers finding their way to my collar bone and stomach.

His pants were abandoned on the floor. The room was dark. Stilettos were cutting into the bedspread. I bit his ear. He bit my lower lip. Went for my collar bone. I wrapped a leg around his back.

My fluffing of the pillows didn’t do a damn good.




Outside was loud. Loud as in thundering. Rain pelting the windows and wind howling. The room was dim and my stomach jolted as I heard another rumble of thunder outside. Was it morning? What day was it? Year?

I rolled over and felt the soft sheets against my skin. It was a few seconds before I realized I was curled up naked in the sheets, white cotton outlining my body silhouette, shadows falling on the bed beside me. I was alone too, so I brought the fabric up to my chest and tucked it around me. I rubbed my eyes.

Whoa.

I was naked, lounging in the sheets of Oliver Wood’s bed.

Three guesses on what I did last night.

The first two don’t count.

My face went a painful, burning red. Lightning lit up the room.

“No need to blush.” Oliver pushed the door open with his rear. He had the plaid pajama pants on, but no shirt and was carrying a wooden tray of what smelled like heaven in a bowl. Scrambled eggs. And no, my freak egg spree when we broke up did not turn me away from eggs. In fact, I loved them. Not quite as much as waffles, but I can’t fault Oliver for not making waffles when he had perfectly delicious eggs.

Speaking of perfectly delicious, he slid down beside me and placed the tray on my lap. I clutched at the sheets.

“Not really a need to be shy, but I don’t blame you.” He smiled warmly, his eyes playful and sparkly. He took a bite of my eggs since I wasn’t touching them. Rain was streaking down the window. I could see the shadows through the shades.

I continued to stare at his chest, at his arms and the tiny marks left as a souvenir from the night before. My face burned.

Oh, Jane, what did you do?

And why don’t you feel horrible for it?

I thought about Angelina, coming in late at night with her face bright red and flushed, admitting to me she’d had sex with Fred. Did I feel like that? Giddy? My fingers felt numb and my stomach shook, but not in a sick way. In an exhilarated way.

I reached for the fork. Food would be a good thing. I was wiped out. I tried to ignore Oliver’s smirk.

Instead of talking, he placed his head on my shoulder, hair tickling my neck and arm. He kissed my bare skin. The eggs were fantastic, just a hint of pepper. I looked down, kissing the top of his head with a smile. Closed my eyes. Felt like bliss.

“Jane?” Oliver’s voice was just above a whisper. Tickled my arm.

“Mmm?”

“I love you.”

My eyes went wide.

“Just thought you should know.” He nestled in closer to my neck, something a child would do out of love. Out of love. Something Oliver would do out of love.

And wow, an L bomb and the S bomb all in one day.

“Love you too,” I said, letting a huge grin escape my lips. I pulled his head up and kissed him, eggs forgotten as thunder shook the flat.




A/N: Did you lot make it out of that snogging alive? I almost feel inappropriate after all that. Wash yourselves! Or not.

So yeah, sorry about the long gap of absence. I usually hate having this much time between updates. I thought about it a lot actually, but there were a few things I got stuck on in this chapter. Plus, if some of you don't know, I'm graduating in a month from college. Whoohoo (you guys have been with me for a long time, huh?). That means apartment hunting, job hunting, school, current job, internship, etc. Wowza. But don't worry, I haven't forgotten and I promise not to. It just might take a little longer between updates. So sorry all! But if you are curious about things, feel free to ask in a review, MTA post, or even on my blog or Twitter. Feel free!

So anyway, to that chapter. Lots of stuff happened. But not really. Jane made the choice. She decided she was ready. Like a toxin took over her pretty little brain. And Oliver dropped the L bomb (finally, boy, after the almost-L-bomb on the train ride and him saying he'd fallen in love with her in front of Lou). So what did you think of this chapter, of what happened?

And most importantly, what do you think is coming for Oliver and Jane?
(fave quotes, scenes, and boys welcome. Yes, Ali, I know you want me to put in a good word for you to Liam. I'm on it!)


Chapter 25: Ginger Wits and Brute Muscle
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This chapter is for all of you wonderful people :) xoxo
Now Amanda is going to call me a lesbian.







Oliver was in southern England for the next few days practicing for the preseason (did Quidditch even have an off season?) so I spent it at home with Dad. It was peaceful, just lounging around with a shit-eating grin on my face because of the weekend with my boyfriend. Yeah, boyfriend. Legitimately awesome. More awesome than laps, less awesome than the Cup.

Monday passed in a haze of emotion. I organized my closet and put all of the skirts together in a pile. They would be useful later. I still couldn’t believe where I was as opposed to where I had been, throwing lip gloss and jewelry across stores at this man I supposedly hated. Loathed. I remembered screaming at him in team meetings and wanting to throw him off the Astronomy Tower. There was also a drunken night of brownie-mix throwing, but that wasn’t the point.

Last weekend we had sex.

I blushed at the thought, face heating up faster than a griddle. It was early morning on Tuesday and I hadn’t moved out of bed. Dad was still sleeping after a late night of dancing with Lou (seriously, Dad?) and I was warm and cozy. Moving was a bad idea.

“JANE PERRY!”

Moving did not include jumping so high I fell off the side of the bed in all of my teacup pajama glory.

Alicia Spinnet damn near kicked open my door. She had on jean shorts, a button up top and a giant smile. “What’re you doing down there? Get up, Janey! Lee’s away for the week and you have to entertain me. What do you want to do? Why is it so dark? Were you sleeping?” She switched on the light and I was instantly blind. “Nice pajamas. I especially like the baby blue. You’re so grown up.” Alicia plopped down on the bed, bouncing lightly up and down. She surveyed me.

“Good morning,” I mumbled, trying to flatten my hair. I opened my closet, fighting to decide what to wear to hang out with a spontaneous Alicia for the day.

She stared at me.

To go with a flirty tank or a casual tee?

Alicia blinked a couple times. She tilted her head.

I looked over.

“Oh my god,” she said quietly, walking in circles around me. Her eyes were doe-wide. “You and Oliver had sex.”

I choked. “Leesh—what?”

“You don’t deny it.” She was still walking in circles. “Oh, yes, you definitely did.”

“Did you talk to Ang?”

“ANG KNOWS?!”

I put up a hand. “No, no.” I made sure the door was completely closed and put up a silencing charm just in case. “I just sent her a quick message before the weekend because I thought that’s why Oliver asked me over, but turns out I was wrong.”

“But you still did it?”

I flushed.

“Jane Perry!” Alicia shrieked. It was worthy of Libby and the entire gang of Shriekers. “Holy shit! How was it? What does Oliver look like naked? Sorry, is that inappropriate? Ah, who cares, is he super hot?”

I laughed and sat down, outfit forgotten. My face was a hot shade of bright red that I was sure did not go with my eyes at all. She was practically on the edge of the bed. “Are you seriously talking about my boyfriend naked?”

“Jane, don’t do this. Spill the beans.”

I laughed. I laughed and then I admitted it. “Yes, we had sex. Oliver and I did. This weekend. In his bed. And yes,” I said, burying my head in my hands, “he looks amazing naked.”

She shrieked again. I was surprised Dad hadn’t walked in to see what the fuss was about, but then I remembered I was awesome at silencing charms. He would probably think it had to do with girlie things like nail polish anyway. “I can’t believe this,” Alicia said. “One day you’re threatening his life and the next you’re shagging! Tell me everything. How did you get back together? Did he grovel? He better have groveled. Ah! What an exciting day!”

I guess that was how I pictured things to be, but part of me felt a longing as I told Alicia everything that had happened, everything I told Angelina before and everything since. I was sweating and exhilarated and even though I got shy talking about my nurse outfit, I felt electric. I could talk about it—this was my best friend. One of my best friends. I needed to tell Angelina. I needed to talk to Katie.

There it was. Katie. I hadn’t spoken to her in ages and suddenly I could feel it welling up inside me. I stopped the story when finished and turned away. There was a picture on my bedside stand. It was the four of us girls two years ago in front of the lake. It was the last day of school and Katie had just gotten done, once again, explaining that her house was too big and that we needed to stay for part of the summer. I was wearing a wonky purple top I had all too recently discarded. Ew. It totally had a flower on it. I was seriously fifteen; why did I wear that?

“Katie’s doing horribly, you know,” Alicia said suddenly, her eyes matching where mine had gone. Her voice was stiff. “She owled me the other day—after she got your letter—and asked if I’d talked to you. I think she feels left out.”

I didn’t shrug it off. I wanted to, but I knew Alicia and I felt the same way. So I didn’t say anything, I just looked at the gorgeous girl I called one of my best mates in a buttery yellow top because for some blasted reason she was always well dressed and looking cute.

“I’m not sure when we’ll see her again,” Alicia continued. She looked worried. “What if she finds new friends?”

“Shut up, she’s probably holed up with her yoga workouts toning up for Quidditch next year.”

“Or worse! What if she starts hating Quidditch because of George? People on the same team really shouldn’t date.”

“That worked out well,” I said with a sly smile. “You and Ellis are the only ones that made it out alive. Lee is the commentator, though, I’m not sure if that counts.”

“It counts because I don’t have to worry about him getting his head beaten in,” Alicia said. She stood up and walked over to my wardrobe.

“Yes, you do. I have come close to doing it several times.”

She gave me a look. “All right, you bum, we’re going to get you into something glamorous and then we’re going to go do something because I’m frightfully bored.”

“Like what?”

“If I knew, wouldn’t I tell you? That’s your job. Entertain me or I’ll be forced to tell Lee to make more jokes about your legs. Ang will be peeved, but it’ll amuse me.”

I groaned and grabbed for a tank.




While Alicia raided the fridge and Dad helped her pick out what leftovers were still good, I finished off my outfit. It wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I didn’t have any sequined dresses or feathered hats. Instead, I opted for a causal tank complete with a seahorse and cropped pants. I looked very summery and festive. As opposed to teacup pajamas.

I hated summer.

Not because of the awesome warm weather, but because of my lack of social interaction. Okay, usually I liked my own Jane time where I went off to the library and buried my head in some fluff book or ran around the Quidditch pitch, but being alone in a flat for days on end did little for my motivation. I wanted to share a room with three insane girls again and go down to the common room and see some idiot with a smirk waiting for my by the portrait hole.

Only, I wouldn’t anymore.

I tried to shrink myself away from that, to think about the perfect—okay, misunderstood—weekend we’d shared together. I went over there with panic and a serious lack of poise, only to be swept off my nurse heels and into something far beyond what I thought it would be. I also dropped an L bomb. The L word. The word featured in so many cheeseball songs and romcoms that people hate. And I dropped it. On Oliver. After he said it to me first.

I replayed the moment in my head. The lounging on his bed under white sheets. It felt so perfect, what people talked about. Not quite what Ang talked about—dirty girl. But Oliver and I took the next step and why in Merlin’s name was I brushing my hair and thinking about having sex with Oliver? It was like a record replaying itself because of the perfection of the notes. God, that sounded lame as hell. I needed to spend less time in romance world and more time with my mates if I was going to start thinking like that.

I did miss them, though. I missed all of them. Hell, I’d only been away from Oliver for a couple days and I missed the git already—Roger and Danny-Boy (what a weirdo) and Katie and Ang and the boys. My team. Did I actually miss Quidditch itself? I daresay I missed the sport as well. Oh, what a shit summer will do to a person’s mental process.

“Jane, your hair is straight. It’s not getting any straighter and I think you’ve frizzed it up.” Alicia was standing in the doorway.

“I miss everyone,” I said suddenly.

“Me too, but we’ll see them soon. And you’ll see Oliver in a few days. Didn’t you say something about a game coming up?”

“Yeah, he mentioned a preseason game soon. I don’t know anything else about it though.”

“See? You’ll see him soon. And as for everyone else. Well, soonish. At least George has stopped being a pest. Apparently Mrs. Weasley made him de-gnome the garden alone until he stopped being a jerk. Worked for a bit Fred told me. I guess he’s still doing it daily.”

I chuckled. “I want to see George. I’ve only seen him once and they don’t even know Oliver and I are back together. See what summer does? I hate it.” I placed the brush back in the drawer and grabbed a pair of sunglasses off the shelf. “I feel like when I walk back into my room you and Ang and Katie will be in there and I’ll just say something like, oy! I don’t hate Oliver anymore. We snogged and then did it and he looks bloody sexy with his clothes off. And then insanity will ensue.”

Alicia laughed and flipped off the light as we left. “Of course then Ang would let it slip during one of her many snog sessions with dear Fred and he would feel an overwhelming sense of protective older-brother-ness that he would hunt down Oliver and lose horribly in an epic battle of ginger wits and brute muscle.”

“Something like that at the very least.” I found Dad puttering around in the kitchen with a salad fork and leftover pork chops. He smiled.

“What are you two lovely ladies up to today?” He eyed me which I knew meant, What did you do with Oliver this weekend? I assumed that anyway. I hadn’t told him anything other than Oliver and I were back together, to which he responded with a quizzical brow. Teens were too confusing for him. Adults were too confusing for me.

“Traipsing around London, Mr. P!” Alicia said and sat down at the table beside him. She was eyeing the pork.

“Be careful, okay?” He moved the plate further away from her glazed eyes. “There are weirdos out there.”

“How many times have I been traipsing when at a far younger age?” I raised a brow and grabbed Alicia by the arm. She had a sick urge to flirt with my father every time they were in the same room, though this time it seemed more like she was flirting with the pork chops. I was surprised she had been so tame for the start of the summer. Ah, what to tell Lee. And Lou.

Sorry, Lee and Lou, your significant others fell madly in love over meat chops. Or at least Alicia did.

“Lou’s shop is right around the corner. I know she’d love it if you stopped in. You don’t have to talk about football, I promise.” He beamed and finished off the meat, much to Alicia’s distaste. Unfortunately, she then caught sight of Dad’s gleaming features, or so she describes them, and batted her eyelashes.

“We’ll do that.” I yanked her sleeve.

“Oh! And Jane, you got a letter a little bit ago. You sounded like you were having a nice chat so I didn’t bother you.” He held up a crisp, white envelope with unfamiliar purple ink on it.

I grabbed for it and tore it open, perplexed. Alicia leaned forward.

“It looks like you’ve been working out, Mr. P. Is that right?” She smiled.

“It is, thanks for noticing, Alicia.”

Miss Jane Perry,

It was a delight meeting you at the fundraiser. You have just the attitude and passion we look for in sports entertainment. The fact that you play the game also gives you a leg up. If you are interested in networking, I would love to have lunch with you at your earliest convenience. I have enclosed times I am available and not bogged down with articles about the Tornadoes winning the Cup.


Yours,


Valerie Gig


I let out a squeal worthy of several people I never wanted to associate myself with. Valerie Gig just wrote me a letter invited me to lunch! A meal with a professional Quidditch writer! I had the attitude and passion. Darn right I did! I was all over Quidditch. Well, except when Oliver and I broke up, but that was because he was a twat and Quidditch was too close to his memory. But now that we’re back together I love it again and Valerie Gig can teach me the ropes of the industry.

“What is it?” Dad pushed his pork chops away from Alicia.

“Valerie Gig wants to have lunch!” I shoved the letter at him.

“Wait—the Valerie Gig? Wants to have lunch with you? I read all of her articles.” He scanned it several times and looked over the times. “Jane, this is amazing. Are you going to do it?”

“Are you daft! I need to pick out an outfit!”

“Oh, London time!” Alicia said loudly. “We can get you a professional one there. But not too much like an interview, because then you just look silly. How about casual, but cute. Similar to my current outfit, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. P.?”

He made a face. “Erm, yes, similar to that one. Definitely with buttons or something.”

Dad wasn’t good at fashion. Or responding to my friends coming on to him.

“Bugger! See you later, Dad!” I grabbed Alicia’s collar and pulled her into the living room and out the door. “Stop bleeding flirting with my father, crazy woman!” I made sure the door was shut tight and wrinkled my nose. “It’s gross. And you have Lee.”

“Yeah but your dad is such a dish for an older bloke. Seriously, Jane. You’ve seen my uncle. You’ve seen Katie’s dad. Legit don’t look good like yours. He has these eyes—why didn’t you get those eyes, Jane? I’m writing a petition to get you a pair of those peepers.”

“Shut it and let’s go. Maybe crafty crap and pipe cleaners will shut you up about my dad.”




I practically skipped to Lou’s shop because of my excitement. Valerie Gig. Though in a way I had Liam to thank (to thank for rejecting me, tool box), I had to personally take credit for meeting her in the bathroom while I tried not to vomit from nerves. I was getting better at controlling that since the Quidditch Final. I had also gotten better at not playing and bloody Quidditch.

Lou’s store was called Loulouberry, which I thought was a pretty silly name for a store on the streets of the hip city of London, but the place was crowded so who was I to judge? It had a main store area once we walked in and it was packed full of handmade purses, clothes, and accessories. Immediately I discovered two wristlets that I could not live without and Alicia was opening and closing a pocket mirror while puckering her lips.

There was a splash of cherry paint on the walls and the room was a hard rectangle that extended far past the scarves and beaded necklaces. To the right was a smaller archway leading to the area packed with picture frames and memory holders. I wanted everything. I checked my wallet. Bugger. Wizard money.

I found six ankle bracelets. One display full of wire cut rings. Even a hand-stuffed polar bear I would snuggle with every night.

Alicia eyed me with watery eyes when she realized she only carried wizard money as well. The pocket mirror with blue and green gems was put back on the shelf and she made a noise.

“Jane! Oh, my gosh!” Lou came bustling around the corner wearing a yellow apron with Loulou painted on it in a scribbling font and a blueberry behind it. She was grinning. “What a pleasant surprise! What are you doing here?”

“I figured I’d finally come by and check out the place.” I put the ankle bracelets back. “Wish I would have thought to bring money. I’ll have to come back by.”

“Nonsense. Pick something out. Alicia—you’re Alicia, right? Good, sorry, I’m horrible with names.” Lou beamed again. I felt the contagiousness creep up in the corners of my lips. “Alicia, be sure to pick out something. I saw you eyeing that mirror. It’s wonderful, you know.”

I saw her nearly squeal as she snatched it up. “It’s perfect. Matches everything I own.”

“That’s really nice of you, Lou. You don’t have to do that,” I said, to which Alicia shot me a look that said very well that Lou needed to do it. I knew she was trying to buy my affection in the smallest of ways, but I also knew Lou was a good person that cared about my dad, even if she had the spawn of something uncomfortable as a daughter.

“Yes, I do. Might I suggest that anklet? It would go great with your eyes.”

I laughed. The eyes that did not match my father’s hot eyes apparently. “Thanks, that’s great.” I grabbed it and wound my way through several customers chatting away. “Business looks really great.”

“It has been booming for the last two weeks now!” She looked out of breath and found an empty register to grab a pair of small bags. They were cloth and had blueberries on them. “I can’t believe it. It’s really caught on. Your father helped, of course. He’s so good with marketing.”

I didn’t know that. Hmm.

“Thanks again, Ms. Beckett!” Alicia said, waving as we left the shop and the chaos that went with it. The sidewalk in London was actually quieter than that shop. “Wow, I can’t believe she gave us free stuff. Don’t have money my arse—you probably have more than I do. Just not the right kind.” Alicia opened her pocket mirror again. “This is fantastic. Do you think she did that to get you to like her?”

“I already like her,” I said slowly. “Maybe she just wants me to like her more. Or to like Amanda. Pfft, like that will ever happen.” We took off down the road, cloth bags dangling at our sides and the contagious smiles lingering on our faces.




After shopping the crap out of the blocks around my flat, Alicia and I dodged into the Leaky Cauldron and headed into Diagon Alley. It wasn’t nearly as packed as the surrounding stores, so that made for a nice leisurely stroll down the cobbled road chatting about what we could throw Amanda off of in order for her to not survive on pure spite alone.

There was a dress boutique tucked into a corner not many people went into because it was expensive. We went in. Then came out.

It was really expensive. We’re talking hundreds of galleons for a purse. Alicia’s eyes were bigger than saucers looking around the place.

“I think Katie has this bag,” she whispered. “Seriously. I think she does.”

“She probably does,” I said. The sales woman eyed us suspiciously. My cropped pants were not welcome in her pencil skirt establishment. “I don’t care what she has, I wish she’d write me back.”

“Janey, Janey, not quite so plain-y!”

Fred Weasley was in front of me with a familiar Angelina Johnson on his arm. She shrieked and he did a dance number worthy of his red hair. He pulled me into a spine-crushing hug. “What’re you lot doing here? And not inviting me. What kind of mates are you? Forgotten about me already I see.”

“So, Jane?” Ang yanked me over to the side as Fred held Alicia out of reach and then messed up her hair with his wand. “Did you? Did he want to?”

I flushed. “That wasn’t his aim in inviting me for the weekend.”

“Then why are you all red?” Her eyes widened as my color darkened. My face was hotter than Dad’s chili peppers. “Oh my god. You did. You seriously did it, didn’t you?”

“Shut it.” I pushed her lightly away.

“JANE PERRY!” Ang wrapped me in a hug. Very different from the Alicia response of screaming and asking about my boyfriend naked. “This is awesome! Well, it’s great anyway. Does Katie know? Have you talked to her?”

I frowned. “I wrote her saying Oliver and I were back together. Which,” I paused, looking over at Fred, who was now on the ground because Alicia had her wand pointed at his throat, “I forgot to tell you. Oliver and I are back together.”

“I wish I could react to that but I have a sudden fear I may be without a limb or two.”

“What have I told you about my hair, Weasley?” Alicia snapped.

“Jane, this is great. Fred is happy for you, I’m sure. He doesn’t have to get beaten up by Oliver anymore.”

“I did not get beaten up! I resent that.”

I chuckled. “Of course not, Freddie. Never. Anyway let’s stop talking about me and Oliver. So what are you two doing in Diagon Alley?”

“Doing some shopping. Getting away from the de-gnoming that always seems to be going on this time of day.”

Alicia joined us on a bench while Fred straightened his own (now a disaster) hair. “How is he, anyway?”

“A bleeding disaster,” said Fred. “I can’t wait to get back to Hogwarts. Then he’ll have to see her instead of constantly thinking about her. He’s convinced himself he shouldn’t have asked her to marry him, you know.”

“But that’s not the case at all. They would have been fine if they just would have stayed…them.” I frowned. Bugger on that.

“Oh, I know that. George is a dimwit though, and doesn’t realize it.” Fred shrugged. “He’s going through a phase now where he took down all of her pictures—yes, he had pictures of just her in the room. Dunno how thick he was to not realize he fancied her because the only pictures he had of the rest of you were group shots. One leg shot of you, Janey, but that’s because I took it and hung it up.”

I looked at Angelina for the retort and smack.

She shrugged. “He really does have one, Jane.”

I loved my friends.





Roger responded promptly to the letter I wrote him in response to his inquisitive letter. Well, as prompt as it could have been given I assumed he was using his efforts to try and snog the Magpies’ farm team girl. His handwriting was messier than usual.

Jane-

You and Wood are back together? You are the most confusing girl I know. Seriously. We have to talk soon. I guess I’ll tell you my news now—I get to play a few preseason games with the Magpies since one of their Chasers is out with a broken hamstring. Apparently the hospital says to let them rest for a while. I’m okay with that!


My lucky lady has talked to me several times since the encounter of asking her where the kitchens were. She seems sweet. Blimey, Jane, she seems more than sweet. I think I’m going to ask her to coffee soon. What do you think? Too forward? I was a bit forward with you and look where that got me. Bleeding nowhere. Only kidding of course, love.


Hope to see you soon,


Roger


p.s. If Alicia calls me Dodger one more time I’m going to think of a highly inappropriate nickname for her.


p.s.s. It won’t be pretty.


I smiled while reading it. Leave it to Roger to threaten with an inappropriate nickname. Sometimes he’s too nice for his own good. I took out a quill and scribbled down a quick response that included the words TAKE HER OUT FOR COFFEE NOW and sent it off. Boys were so dense sometimes. I would always have a soft spot for Roger Davies, though. No matter how false our relationship really was, he was a great, genuine guy who sometimes had his priorities mixed up. And so did I. A lot actually.

“You can’t call him Dodger anymore,” I told Alicia, who I was entertaining for the second day in a row. “He says he’ll come up with an inappropriate nickname for you.”

“Bring it on, Dodger. Write that down. Aw, Jane, you sent it off! Bugger, I’ll have to write him a letter with the word ‘Dodger’ repeating over and over.” Alicia laughed, pulling out a piece of parchment. “I’d like to see him think of something good enough. Dodger isn’t that creative. He’s ace at Quidditch, but needs the painter skills.”

“I’d love to see you paint something.”

“Shut up. I’d get Katie to paint it and then give it to me.”

“Jane!” Dad shouted from the sitting room. I barely heard it over our embarrassingly loud 90s Wizard Rock playing. “Visitor!”

“Please let it not be Amanda,” I said, stuffing Roger’s letter away and walking to the door.

“I haven’t forgotten her lesbian question. I swear.”

I chuckled and walked out into the front room. Lou was there with her legs draped over Dad on the sofa and I wanted to vomit. Except I didn’t. Apparently those actions were only reserved for the moments before a Quidditch final in the bushes, barely missing George’s shoes, and in the women’s locker room in the garbage can with some burly Keeper holding back my hair. Speaking of burly Keepers, Oliver Wood was waiting for me in the sitting room.

Blimey, he looked good. Well, he always looked good, but if I was used to this why were my palms sweaty and why was my stomach exploding with jolts of nerves? Maybe it was because I had seen him naked and my Dad was right there in the room as I blushed furiously. Oliver was smirking devilishly and I saw him eye me with that glint—that glint in his expression that said quite plainly he wanted a good snog.

“We’ll be in my room,” I said, grabbing his hand and tugging him into the hallway. “With Alicia.”

“Bloody fuck,” he muttered. “I never see you anymore.”

“It has been two days.”

“Exactly.” He kissed me hard while I opened the door.

“Get a damn room, you two.” Alicia smiled. “This one is taken, though. I’m writing Dodger back.”

“Why are you writing that creep?” Oliver said, sitting on my bed and kicking off his shoes.

“Threatened me with an inappropriate nickname. Psh, we’ll see about that Dodger. And he does it through Jane. Yeah right. Get a life, Magpie.” She kept muttering to herself, but I tuned it out.

“Davies is writing you?” Oliver kept his tone as casual as possible to hide the jealousy.

“Yes, we’re writing each other. I am telling him about us getting back together, well, that and the stuff before it, and he is telling me about how he gets to play a couple preseason games with the Magpies and this wonderful girl he fancies.” I narrowed my eyes.

“Does she…” He pointed toward Alicia and wiggled his eyebrows.

Alicia didn’t look up from her letter, which clearly said ‘Dodger’ over and over again in cursive. “Yes, Oliver, I know you and Jane had sex.”

He choked and ended up coughing for several seconds until I handed him a glass of water. “Why did you—how does she? Ah, Jane, can’t things be kept quiet?”

“I don’t blame you,” Alicia said, cutting me off completely. “But you don’t really have best mates. Girls have best mates. We know everything about each other’s lives. You’ll just have to live with that being with Jane. You’ll also have to deal with other people hitting on her and George having a picture of her legs in his room. That Fred took.” She chuckled. “But seriously, Oliver, it’s not a big deal. She speaks so highly of the weekend but refuses to tell me what you look like naked.” She looked up at that point. “But I can imagine.” Alicia finished with a trademark wink.

He grabbed the quilt and pulled it up to his neck. “Blimey, woman! Cut that out or I’m going to owl Lee right now.”

“He’d laugh at you.”

“Point.” Oliver sighed. “Anyway,” he said after a long pause during which he did not lower the quilt, “I came over here for a reason.”

“Other than to snog me?” I said. “I’m disappointed.”

“Yes, but that was definitely involved.” Oliver put his hand on mine. “Remember when we talked about you being about to see me more by going to some of the practices?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Well tomorrow we’re having an all-day open practice. That means a bunch of hopefuls can come and practice with the team and see how they do. It also means fans can come and watch. There are some raffles and stuff, but I thought you’d be interested.”

There was a loud cough.

“You too, Spinnet.”

“I have a first name.”

“How unique,” he said with a smile. “Is that something you’re interested in?”

“That sounds awesome, Oliver. Seriously, I can’t wait.” I crawled onto his lap and kissed him softly. Alicia made a gagging noise.

“I really wish I could still give her laps.”

I snorted. “Trust me, because of you I’ve had enough for the both of us.”




Oliver definitely made the open practice seem like less than it was. From the moment we got there, Alicia and I knew it was a big deal. The Puddlemere stadium was packed with supporters wearing the signature navy with two crossed Bulrushes. They were packed into the seats, but Oliver instructed us to head onto the pitch before the practice started since he wanted to give me a snog. I suspected it was because he wanted to show off our relationship, but hey, I was fine with that. I wore my short shorts that day and the photographers could take whatever pictures they wanted.

“Do I smell muffins? Jane, they have muffins—look! There’s a cart right there!” Alicia poked me in the ribs.

“Seriously?” I shot her a look. “You’re excited about muffins? Weirdest friend ever. You’re at an open practice for a legitimate Quidditch team and you want muffins.”

Alicia made a small noise I assumed was her mocking my tone. “They smell good.”

We made it to the pitch as several people were shuffling by with brooms to practice with the best of the best. Oliver was busy talking to way too many people at once, a few I recognized as journalists from the fundraiser dinner. He caught sight of me and beamed. “Excuse me,” he told them, “my girlfriend is here.”

Cameras were out immediately. Oliver may not have played a game, but he was already famous. He grabbed me and in one fluid motion kissed my ruddy brains out. It was one of those kisses where your knees buckle, but he was holding onto me so I didn’t melt into a puddle. My heart hurt it was pounding so hard and I could see small pinpricks of light behind my eyes.

When I opened my eyes I felt disoriented and blind. “Oh.”

He smirked pompously. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”

“You’re very un-Oliver today,” I said quietly.

“I like to gloat, is that so horrible?” He grinned. “Alicia, how are you?”

“Great, thanks. You think any of these duds have a candle to your team?”

Oliver looked around at the gathering crowd complete with different brooms and postures. “Probably not, but maybe. We’ll see, right? Hopefully we can find a few people for the reserve team before the other scouts get a hold of them. If not, just some fun practice time, huh?”

She nodded. “I’m going to get a muffin before we hit the stands.”

“They’re the best muffins I’ve ever had.”

Alicia’s eyes lit up and I had no idea what the big deal was with muffins. “Fantastic. Jane, you ready to go sit down and watch this?”

“Let’s go. Bye, love.” I went to turn, but Oliver grabbed my hand and twirled me around. More cameras clicked around us. He kissed me and then looked at me for a moment. His brown eyes were dancing.

“I love you,” he whispered.

I grinned. Sometimes things felt so perfect a pinch was necessary.





That pinch came in the form of someone very familiar, very arrogant, and a person I was not accustomed to seeing during the summer months away from his lair of Hogwarts. “Perry, what in blazes are you doing here? Surely you’re not going to practice? I mean, you caught the thing, but you can’t really be serious?”

Dan Ellis was standing before me, about eight centimeters shorter than me and several yards more narcissistic than me. He wore his Gryffindor robes with the big fat ELLIS on the back and a cocky grin. He also carried his broom and elbow pads.

“Great to see you too, Dan. Stop calling me Perry.”

“Are you seriously practicing though? I’m going to wipe the pitch with you.”

“I’m not here to practice, but thank you for being so supportive of my Seeking skills,” I said dully. Apparently the joyful Cup-winning Ellis was gone. If we won the Cup he wouldn’t even think about passing the sucker to me. Probably’d pass it to Elizabeth, bloody wanker.

“Oh, you’re just a fan then.” Another smirk. Who trained him in that?

“I’m here to support Oliver.”

“You’re still together! Wait, I saw in Weekly you two split it up and that Lilion girl was all over him? Granted, she’s all over everyone. The Daughters always are.”

“Daughters?”

“Yeah, that’s what we call them in the Quidditch World.”

“Since when are you in the Quidditch World?” Alicia seethed.

“That’s what we call the Quidditch Daugthers. Stay away from them unless you want zero brains and some amazing sex. But that’s about it. I have Lizzy, though. I don’t need any of that. If you’ll excuse me, though, I have to get into position. I’m going to show these worthless reserves what Quidditch is really like.” With that, Ellis disappeared into the crowd, heading in the direction of the Seekers.

I didn’t doubt him, though, he was the best Hogwarts had seen in years. I hardly expected him not to catch the Snitch.

“Can’t believe that git is actually here.”

“Can’t believe you have to play on the same team as him next season,” I said.

“You’re reserving. Better hope he doesn’t get ‘Claw-hexed again.”

I groaned, the memory found of Angelina revealing I was playing reserve Seeker again. Something about winning a Quidditch Cup. Damn. Did I have to?

“All right, let’s go get my muffin and get seats. Looks like a few of the team members are already out there.”

I instinctively looked for someone familiar. I saw Michelle, though I wasn’t sure what she thought of me. Ever since I found out she fancied Liam and Liam fancied her, or whatever, I sort of strayed from the subject of either of them. The rejection thing still burned, even though I knew it was Oliver’s doing and part because he fancied Michelle. I fancied the hell out of Oliver anyway, that shit would have blown right up.

“Looking for someone?”

At least it wasn’t Ellis this time, I noted, as Liam walked up beside me. More pictures were being taken and I hoped Liam wouldn’t snog me. It would be bad for my already horrific reputation in the Quidditch world. The same Quidditch world Ellis was apparently apart of, even speaking the lingo of having code names for groups of girls. I should introduce him to the Shriekers.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Ah, the formality. Jane, I’m sorry. How was I supposed to know you guys still had it for each other?” Liam was a damn hot man.

I mentally told Alicia to wipe the drool off her lip.

“I’m sorry.” I shook my head. “I know. It’s my fault. I wasn’t ready for anything and I still—unknowingly—had feelings for Oliver. I don’t mean to be awkward.”

“Mates?” Liam extended his hand.

I remembered snogging him at the fundraiser. Aw, bollocks.

I shook it. “Mates. So tell me, how is Michelle?”

“Heard about that, did you? I guess I can’t really blame you when I fancied her the whole time. She started it though, flirting with Wood in front of me. He was clearly the opposite of interested but she kept at it. Only when I was there. I had to do something.”

“So that’s why you picked me?”

“Well, yes and no.” Liam made a face, but I knew he was being genuine. “I guess it was my first thought, but my first actual thought was Bridget because she was clinging so much to Wood. But then I remembered how much fun you were at the World Cup and I thought—what would it hurt? And if we hit it off then Michelle would really feel like a salt basket because I was happy. And I was, you know. I really did like you.”

“I liked you too.” I smiled warmly. Alicia had her muffin. Complete with drool. “Just not enough, you know?”

“I got that picture right when Wood came to practice the day after he saw you in Diagon Alley. He told me about it a bit, then told me, in the scariest voice I’ve ever heard, mind you, to back off or he would stick his broom—well, anyway, I was told not to see you anymore.”

“Did it work out with Michelle then?” I asked. I could see her watching from a few meters away.

“Eh, not so far. She’s stopped having eyes at Wood, but we haven’t exactly had it out, have we? I don’t know what’s going on. I never understand women.” Liam shifted his weight onto his other leg and I saw a bit of chest where his robes untied. Cameras snapped. “I’m sure it’ll work itself out at some point.”

“Or you could talk to her, who knows?”

He smirked. Ah, he was delicious. “Maybe. We’ll see. Are you here for the practice or are you just watching? I know you play well.”

“Just watching, but thanks. I’ll see you soon, Liam.” Then I added in a whisper, “Talk to her!”

What in blazes was up with me giving relationship advice to the people I had previous snogged? First Roger and then Liam? Shouldn’t I want to hoard them all for myself? Alicia, however, was not the same.

“Want,” she said. “Seriously, Jane, how did you let that bum go? Look at that. Bounce a Sickle off that one.”

“Oh, shut up and let’s find our seats.”




The practice was way more exciting than I thought it was going to be. There were people flying every which way and halfway through Alicia and I abandoned our seats to head down to pitch level (Thank you, Oliver, for your V.I.P. passes). We sat with a couple photographers and then moved closer to the bench where I took the liberty of drinking Oliver’s water.

Ellis played stupidly well, just as I thought he would. Caught the damn snitch one too many times. I figured that’s what he had to do since he didn’t play during the final. Had to get his slimy name out there. Not that Ellis was that bad, he was just a twit.

Big sodding talented twit.

“Oy! Jane!” Liam hovered a little above me with the Beater’s bat hanging limp in one hand. “You playing or not?”

“Do I look equipped to play?” I pointed at my Puddlemere shirt and shorts. And lack of a broom.

“Grab a broom and get up here! We’re a Seeker short! Oy—Ellis! Put the fucking Snitch down and give someone else a shot!” He flew away, beating a Bludger in the direction of some sandy-haired kid with glasses.

“Yeah, they can stay one Seeker short,” I mumbled.

“Stop being dramatic and get your sorry arse up there!” Alicia said, shoving my arm.

I gaped at her. “Are you kidding me? I fell like a thousand feet the last time I was on a broom!”

“You played at Katie’s.”

“Totally different.”

She stood up, marched over to the brooms, and grabbed two. “Like I’d let you go it alone anyway. Clearly Puddlemere needs another Chaser that has skills like me.”

“Clearly,” I said, laughing. I took the broom. It vibrated in my hands.

Oliver toppled down for a quick drink. “My bloody water is all gone—Jane, what’re you doing?” He stared at me, to the broom, and back to me. Then to his replacement Keeper to make sure the bugger wasn’t letting him down.

“Liam said they’re a Seeker too short. And Leesh handed me the broom.” I looked at the ground.

“You won’t do it.”

“What?” I said loudly, raising a brow. “What do you mean I won’t do it?”

“It took Ellis getting hexed to get you in the air for the damn Cup. Like you’d do it in front of a huge crowd with a professional team.”

I swung one leg over the broom.

“Pfft, I’ll believe it when I see it.” He grabbed another bottle of water. “Denters won’t miss his. Bloody weirdo wanting my girlfriend to play. Who does he think he is? I thought I made it quite clear…”

I didn’t catch the rest of the speech because I bent my knees and kicked off, wind scraping at my face and Liam’s cheers echoing through the air.



A/N: What a long chapter! The truth is, a little got cut from the end of it as well, so you'll see a cameo appearance in the next chapter by someone who I love to write but also love to hate. Any guesses? What did you think about the appearance of dear Ellis? Didn't think he'd stay away forever, did you? I like him too much.

I wanted to say thanks for being so patient with me! Those of you who read BTQC know that I have been VERY busy lately with an engagement, getting my first apartment, getting a job...well, two, and opening a shop on Etsy. I also graduated college! You have been SO amazing and patient and don't you worry! Updates will definitely be more frequent now! I'm not saying they'll go back to my weekly ones of awesomeness, but I'll be rereading all of Keep Away and H&S soon so hopefully that will inspire me to crank away. Actually, I wrote this whole chapter today after I read "O Captain! My Captain!" from Keep Away before work. What an inspiring chapter.

Anyway, trying to cut this ramble short. What did you think of the chapter? Favorite quotes? Thanking Merlin Fred and the gang are back in the picture? And what about the colorful Alicia?

Lastly, I asked and was asked by other people what they thought about a Mistress Twitter account? Where I update you on the progress of my stories, chapter snippets, and even posts by the characters? Would you be interested? Let me know! I think it would be FUN!

Thank you again. It's obvious I have the best fans on HPFF. xoxo


Chapter 26: Who Knew it was a Girl?
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To everyone already following my new twitter account.
It's a hit!




LAST TIME:
I swung one leg over the broom.

“Pfft, I’ll believe it when I see it.” He grabbed another bottle of water. “Denters won’t miss his. Bloody weirdo wanting my girlfriend to play. Who does he think he is? I thought I made it quite clear…”

I didn’t catch the rest of the speech because I bent my knees and kicked off, wind scraping at my face and Liam’s cheers echoing through the air.







The problem with being in the air, however, was the fact that I was in the air. It was warm enough and all, but I was sitting on a broom, zooming high up onto the pitch, in a Puddlemere t-shirt and shorts with an entire stadium of people watching me. This was nothing like the Quidditch Cup at Hogwarts where people donned scarlet and gold or blue and gray. They were strangers. And oh, bleeding hell, there were the clicks of the cameras.

At least Oliver looked dumbstruck.

“Jane, we’re playing double on teams! You’re on mine!” Liam shouted. “Alicia, good to have you—head over to the other side. You’re on Wood’s team!”

The broom vibrated under me and though I felt steadier than I had at the Cup match, I still wasn’t an expert or anything. My team all wore the same red decal on the front of their brooms, so, after hitting a Bludger, Liam stuck one to mine. My palms were soaked with sweat.

The crowd was a loud buzzing in my ears mixed with clicks and shouting.

Ellis was on my team as well, though Liam had made it quite clear he was to give someone else a shot. He was hovering near the goal hoops, obviously completely aware of where the Snitch was. There was a scowl on his face that made him look even more arrogant.

“All right, Jane, go catch us a Snitch!” Liam said, laughing and beating away another Bludger.

How the game had been working as I was watching, is that catching the Snitch earned a team fifty points instead of ending the game (since it would have ended a little fast with dear Ellis up in the air). So my team was up by a couple hundred and Oliver was looking beyond peeved from the other side. But we weren’t teammates this time.

Psh, like I wouldn’t get up and fly in front of hundreds of people.

I looked over at the crowd. Why the hell was I up here and not down there with the bloke selling lemon ice? Damn you, Alicia. Speaking of which, she was flying quite well. She was flying up the pitch with the Quaffle tucked neat under her arm (apparently she kicked out one of the other Chasers so she could play. Leave it up to her.) and a determined look stretched across her wind-blown face.

So I started my search for the Snitch.

This seemed vaguely familiar.

I squinted and began to search but it was so strange considering there were double the people on the pitch and getting nailed by a rogue Bludger was definitely a concern. The two Seekers on the other team were obviously good, as they had their own stance on their brooms and I was just sort of holding on so I didn’t topple over and fall who knew how many meters to my death. One of them was a girl with black hair tied back in a pony tail. Her expression told me everything: she thought she had it in the bag now that Ellis had fallen back.

Oh, is that right?

I felt a swoosh of wind as several Chasers flew by, having snagged the Quaffle from Alicia. She was yelling in a rage. The air was hot. I wished the sun would go behind the clouds. While I was at it, I wished I could find the damn Snitch since, as I was seeing on the score board, the time was beginning to wind down.

“Jane, move forward on the damn broom!”

I looked over. Oliver had just thrown the Quaffle back to Alicia and the Chasers were streaking back up the pitch toward the Keeper on my team, whoever that was. He looked stern.

“Why are you helping me?” I cried, instantly moving forward and feeling the broom cease in vibrating.

“I don’t want you falling when I don’t know I can catch you.” Oliver winked at me. Bloody wanked, winking at me in the middle of a Quidditch game.

I turned and continued my search for the golden ball.

Here, Snitchie, Snitchie, Snitchie.

Damn it. This was so not working.

C’mere, Snitchie, I had to show Miss Black Hair Pony Tail that she could wipe that Ellis-worthy smirk off her face. Where was it? Ellis looked enraged. Was that because I was so far off? He cocked his head to the left.

Here, Snitchie! C’mere, damn it. Son of a batch of cookies, all I could see were players and brooms and Bludgers.

Ellis must have had a neck ache. Another jerk to the left.

Here, Snitchie. I have a present for you! Yeah right, like that worked last time.

I wondered if the Snitch last time was a girl, and thus did not want to be wooed by another girl Snitch I lied about.

Shit. Was Ellis growling at me?

I looked to his left.

Oh.

Hey, Snitchie.

I tore up the pitch, hurrying to reach the Snitch, when I was thrown sideways off my broom by someone else. My side was in excruciating pain (was that an elbow?) and the only thing keeping me in the air was my right hand curled around the broom, which had stopped. I saw the Snitch. It was hovering close to Ellis and his lips were turning into a thin line.

My fingers felt like they were blistering and black-haired-pony-tail girl was streaking back along the pitch laughing. Seriously? This was an open practice. No one was going to win a Cup out of this. What a jerk.

Okay, I told myself, I had to get back up on this broom. Or fall.

I looked down.

Yes, getting back on the broom was a much better option. By swinging, I managed to get my left hand attached to the broom and I started to kick my legs in an attempt to swing back up. Why wasn’t I taught this in practice? Running laps now seemed useless. Unless I was wearing a skirt. That made me miss Fred and George.

“Perry, what are you doing?!” Ellis cried, obviously unable to contain his fury when the Snitch was a few meters from him.

“Thought I’d put on a little show,” I mumbled. My arms burning, I managed to get an elbow up onto it and then another, followed by a leg over and I was finally back on the broom. Where was that girl? I was going to punch her right in the mouth.

To my surprise, there were cheers from the crowd. Real ones. For me.

Not too shabby, though my arms felt numb.

Now! The Snitch!

Was gone.





It took me another minute to regain my sense of direction as players continued to fly all around me. The seconds were ticking down and I could barely think straight with the crowd making so much bleeding noise. I couldn’t get Ellis’s pompous face out of my mind. He was such a jerk, expecting me to just zoom over there and get it when that girl had elbowed me. Speaking of that girl, where did she come off elbowing players? Wasn’t that a foul?

Should have been at least.

Should have been a red card, as Lou would say. Quidditch should have had red cards. Or at least scarlet and gold ones because they would look nice.

Bollocks!

The Snitch was on the other side of the pitch, very near to the black-haired-pony-tailed-monster of a Quidditch player. She was completely oblivious, which was strangely convenient for me, but I took my time pretending to look here and there in case she was to see where my eyes went and grabbed for it.

I was closing in. Oliver was near and since the Quaffle was in someone’s hands on the other side of the pitch, he picked that moment to laugh at me. “I still can’t believe you’re up here,” he said.

“Why?” I shouted back, inching my way closer to the hovering Snitch.

Black-haired-psycho-elbower had her eyes bugging out in an attempt to find it.

“Because you said you hate playing Quidditch.”

“I do.”


“Doesn’t look like it.” He moved closer to the left hoop. “It looks like you’re enjoying yourself.”

I flipped him off. Then I remembered there were cameras everywhere and that would probably end up in Quidditch Weekly knowing my luck. “Shut it.”

The Snitch was only a few meters away now and black-haired-crazy-hippogriff-esque girl was drifting closer now. The back of her broom was dangerously near. If the tiny ball just fluttered a bit, the girl would feel something hit her broom.

Don’t do it, Snitchie.

Look, I messed up last time. I might have been a little insensitive. I realize that.

But we don’t have to end things on negative terms.

Why don’t you come here and we’ll fix it?

Oliver was laughing again, probably about the stupid look on my face, and the Snitch was still hovering. It was taunting me, the rogue beast.

Here, Snitchie, Snitchie, Snitchie.

Let’s be best mates.

I know this…I know a boy Snitch. I do. Really. He’s a hunk.

And there it was. That crazy apparently hormone-crazed female Snitched, hovered it’s ass toward me, making a delicate humming noise that sounded a lot like victory. Or maybe it wasn’t making a noise at all. Maybe it was the crowd, but so help me Merlin I could pretend it was making any noise I wanted it to make!

It wasn’t seconds after I had the Snitch tight in my grip that the whistle blew and the time ran off on the clock. Horns sounded. People cheered.

I lifted my hand.

“She’s got it!” Liam cried. “She’s got the Snitch! Tack on another fifty—would you look at that! Jane’s got the Snitch!” He hugged me tight around the middle, still in the air. “Are you sure you aren’t interested in going pro?”

I was happy to see black-haired-Medusa-of-the-Quidditch-pitch was scowling from nearby.

“I think I’ll just write about it. But thanks.” I beamed and saw Michelle in the distance. Since she was on our team, she looked elated as well. Probably not with me, considering Liam hugged me around the middle, but she had to know Oliver and I were dating again.

And having sex.

Just saying.

“Celebration time?” I said to Liam as I watched Oliver slap hands with some of his teammates. The losing team.

“I think so.”

“I think maybe you should try celebrating with Michelle.” I wiggled my eyebrows at him.

“Yeah, I guess it’s about time I say something, isn’t it?” Blimey, Liam was a hot man. The sweat made him even hotter. Was that crazy? He frowned. “I’ll see you around?”

“See you, Liam.” I wouldn’t have been able to say much more, since I got side-tackled by Alicia Spinnet. We floated to the ground.

“I can’t believe you caught it! Good job, Jane! Wait till I tell everyone else and totally gloat, saying I was there and they weren’t. Oh, the envy!” Alicia said, laughing. “Did you see the score? You guys won by over two hundred! Damn that Ellis! Who did we have on our team? Dumb and Dumber looking for the Snitch—see that girls hair? Like a damn mess.”

I couldn’t help but just laugh. Of course my Snitch catch wasn’t needed to win. But I caught it, and I wiped that girl’s smirk right off her face. I really should have found out her name instead of making up my own, but what was the fun in that?

After my feet were planted firmly on the grass, I had a chance to look around again. The crowd were filing out of their seats, probably going toward the refreshment tents on the grounds where a band was scheduled to play as a part of the Open Practice day. Nice marketing right there.

“Jane!”

Though I wanted it to be Oliver, I wasn’t entirely shocked when I saw a few reporters crossing the pitch going toward me. Bugger. Wondered if they captured my friendly finger gesture up on the broom.

“Jane, is it true you and Oliver Wood are together again?”

“Yea,” I said, laughing. “That’s true. That’s why I have the V.I.P. passes that say, from Oliver Wood.”

“What made you get up there today, Miss Perry?” That one had mousy dark hair.

Oliver’s hand draped lazily around my shoulders. “She’s a natural, folks,” he said. “She was born to be a superstar. Better than the greats. Seriously. Watch for her at Hogwarts next year.” He winked at a camera. Seriously. He winked at it.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” That would be Dan Ellis, passing behind us in a huff. “I caught it five times. Five times!”

“You’re not dating a Quidditch superstar, are you?” Alicia said.

“If he’s a superstar, I’ve never caught a Snitch in my life,” Ellis said. “No matter. They can watch for Perry all they want next year. They’ll see her hanging out on the bench.”

To be honest, I understood why Ellis was peeved. I had gotten a lot of spotlight simply because I was Oliver’s girlfriend. He had so much more talent than I did (obviously) and was barely getting recognized. I sort of felt bad for him. I smiled at the reporters.

“You’ll be seeing Dan Ellis before you see me,” I said, in that moment repaying the twit for saving my arse twice the past year. “He might be worth watching.”

Alicia’s dumbstruck look made me laugh all the way to the refreshments tent.





“Thanks for the support,” I muttered to Oliver, digging my elbow into his side. “Now they’re going to be knocking at my door asking for my favorite technique for a Snitch dive.”

“And rightly so! I know you saw it when it was by Ellis.”

“How do you know it was by Ellis? You were across the pitch.”

Oliver smirked. “I could see the expression on his face. I knew exactly where it was. Too bad the Seekers on my team were worthless.” He shrugged and helped himself to a glass of champagne. “I was thinking we’d stay here and chat for a bit and then take off. What do you think, ladies?”

Alicia was practically drooling at the amount of gorgeous men around. Why weren’t they available back at Hogwarts when she was whining about being single? Now poor Lee had to compare to the abs of Liam and the rear or Stewart. Not to mention Oliver Wood.

“Sounds good to me. I’m going to head off to the restroom and I’ll find you two at a table.” With a smile, I made my way through the thick crowd of Quidditch lovers and players and toward the ladies room. It was packed in there as well, women crowded against the mirror dabbing oil blotters or reapplying lipstick. I felt like a stereotype while I was in there and had almost managed to get out unscathed when I felt a sharp jab in my side. Recoiling backward, I noticed the jab had come from a long finger, fresh with a manicure.

Bridget Lilion was standing above me in the crowd as women passed on either side of us.

“I want you to know, Perry, that you’ve started a war,” she hissed. It was so quiet I was certain no one else could hear her. Piece of blond hair streamed down her face. “I’m going to take you down to where you belong.” With that, as I was clutching my side, Bridget stomped on my foot.

I let out a muffled scream, wanting to punch her right in the face, but there was no way I could get away with it. Not here. Not when the room was filled with Quidditch families, supporters, administrators, and even the stray reporter. I would get myself on the front of the Sports section of the Prophet for sure. Not something I wanted.

Eugh, but still. I really needed to just pop Bridget Lilion right in the face. What did she mean by take me down? This was probably about Oliver and his total and complete rejection of her for me. Obviously, since she was a git and all.

Bridget would get what was coming to her, even if it wasn’t that exact moment in the women’s restroom.

Alicia eyed me strangely when I came back holding my side and limping a bit. “Toilet take you down?” she asked, sipping her drink. She pushed another toward me.

“Something like that. I’ll tell you later.” I slid in next to Oliver, who was happily chatting with someone with signatures all over his Puddlemere shirt and let myself relax.

Alicia shrugged as Oliver signed the guy’s shirt and he disappeared into the crowd.

“So here’s what I’m thinking,” he said suddenly and Alicia jerked her eyes away from the bum of a passing boy. Look but don’t touch was her motto, and I couldn’t have agreed more. “Puddlemere is having a preseason benefit game. It doesn’t count toward the regular season, but it’s my first actual start with the team.” He beamed proudly. “We’re playing the bleeding Magpies because they want to generate a lot of money and what better way to do that then have the team who just competed for the Cup? Anyway, the Magpies are expected to win, so I’m guessing that’s what is going to get people out to the game.”

“Will the Magpies win?” I cocked a brow.

“I sure hope not, but it’s my first professional game, so I don’t think anyone is expecting some grand performance.” Oliver took another drink. “But I want all of you to be there. You, Jane, and Spinnet, and everyone else.” He had a twinkle in his eye.

This man was absolutely brilliant. Why bother having another retreat when you have a preseason benefit game?

“You mean Katie and George!” I cried.

“I mean Katie and George.”

I could have kissed him right there. Well, I did, but that wasn’t the point. It was Oliver’s first professional Quidditch game. There was no way either Katie or George would miss it, especially since it was such a special moment for him.

“They’re getting on my nerves,” said Oliver. “I thought you and I had a stupid break up. Theirs is far stupider than ours.”

I chuckled and Alicia raised her glass. “To stupid breakups and Quidditch bums!”

I smirked and winked at her. “To Keepers.”





The following day was my lunch with Valerie Gig. I was lucky not to think about it much during the Open Practice or while I was with Oliver, but once it was next on my agenda, I felt the nerves explode in my stomach. I hoped the night I met her wasn’t a fluke. I was still awesome, right? I had to be. I was Jane Perry.

That was what I told myself while standing half naked in my bedroom, lights on and toast half-eaten on the dresser. I couldn’t decide between necklaces. Shirts. Skirts. It was a disaster.

I wanted to look classy and timeless, but I also wanted to look modern and show that I could dress at a Quidditch event. Well, Valerie saw me at the fundraiser. I looked pretty hot in my dress. Liam thought so. I wondered if he talked to Michelle.

I tried on a few outfits that Alicia and I had decided on days before. Each looked really good. In the end, after twirling in front of the mirror so many times I was actually dizzy, I decided on a professional pencil skirt and a fresh, yellow and white top. It was summer after all and this wasn’t an interview.

I stared at the toast. Yeah, no way I was eating that.

“Jane, are you about ready?” Dad said through the door. I figured he was more anxious than I was.

“Yeah,” I grumbled.

“Let’s see you then!”

I pulled open the door and immediately regretted it from a rebellious teenager point of view. Dad’s eyes were already welled up with tears. Oh, geez!

“You look wonderful,” he said.

“Thanks.” My cheeks felt red. He didn’t have to say it, but I knew he was proud of me. He always would be, no matter what I did, but because I was going to lunch with a well-known Quidditch writer put me at the top of the standings. I think the only thing that would have gotten me higher was being on a professional team. I’d owl the Harpies later.

Hah.

“All right, well, you’d better get there a little early and peruse the menu so you can order what you really want.” He reached out and straightened the wrinkles on my shoulders. “Good luck, love. I know you’ll be wonderful. All you have to do is be yourself.”

I smiled. There were so many jokes I could make at that point, but instead I just hugged my father, grabbed my purse, and left, trying desperately to will away the tears that had snuck up so suddenly. Dad always had a way of making me feel special.

And now I sounded like a sod. Game face on, Jane Perry. Game face.




The café we decided on was a small place in Diagon Alley that I had been to on several occasions. Since it was a weekday, not many people were there, which I was happy for because having a conversation in a crowded café was difficult in itself, never mind thinking up answers to tough questions. Was Valerie going to ask me tough questions? I hoped not. I hadn’t studied.

There were chocolate brown booths lining both walls and small round tables in the center. At the end of the café was the counter, complete with menu board and old fashioned register. It made a soft ding every time it was opened.

My heels clicked as I walked up to the counter, unsure of what I wanted. Every time I had been there before it was a cup of tea or a small cake. This time, however, I was interested in lunch.

Loads of sandwiches and treats graced the board. I was unsure of what to pick that would make me look professional. I had to make sure it wouldn’t drip down my face either. Ah, what a choice.

“Jane?”

I knew that voice. Oh, I knew it. A smile erupted on my face as I turned to see Roger Davies behind me (did he recognize my hair or my arse?) wearing a collared shirt and sporting his usual shiny hair. I hugged him tight.

“Roger! Oh my gosh, I feel like it’s been forever. I missed you!”

He looked really happy and incredibly dishy. And he was blushing. Roger Davies, what on earth were you doing blushing?

Then I spotted it. The reason, not a person I referred to as ‘it.’ Though it was a person. A very pretty person behind him with light hair and eyes. At first she looked a little disgruntled (probably at our uncharacteristic hug), but then her face settled and she narrowed her eyes.

“I know you!” she said suddenly. Her voice was very sweet.

“Have we met?” I said.

“No, but I know who you are. You’re Oliver Wood’s girlfriend!”

I was going to take Oliver to quit Quidditch because this recognition game was getting old fast. “Yeah, I am,” I said with a smile.

Suddenly it was okay I was hugging her beau (or maybe just date? I hadn’t heard from Roger what they had been up to) because I was Oliver Wood’s flame. Well, I could handle that. I couldn’t not hug Roger. He was a fabulous guy. Great snogger too. Wondered if she knew that.

“And you’re,” I said, biting my lip. “Madeline, right?”

“Yes!”

Photo memory came in handy. Too bad that was pretty much the only time it ever would. Roger was right in his letters, though, she was stunning. I practically felt like a troll just standing by her. She had that fair skin people talked about. I didn’t know what people, but people definitely talked about it. At some point.

“Jane’s an old friend of mine from Hogwarts,” Roger said cheerfully, obviously giddy we were getting on so well.

“Oh, that’s wonderful.” Madeline shook my hand. Hers was warm. “How did you meet? Classes?”

“Something like that,” I said with a smile, not wanting to go in depth about our midnight stroll around the castle. Not that we hadn’t met before that, just never really talked since he was a year ahead of me and a Ravenclaw.

“Won’t you join us?” Oh, Roger, stop being polite. It was apparent he wanted nothing more than for me to turn him down since he had finally gotten Madeline out of the building where he was asking for the kitchens and onto a date. But he was polite and debonair, that Roger.

“I’m so sorry, I can’t,” I said lightly. “I’m actually here waiting for Valerie Gig. We’re having lunch today.”

“That’s why you look so,” Roger’s eyes got wide as it became obvious he was still standing next to Madeline, “dressed up today.”

“Yes, that’s right.” I smiled.

Madeline didn’t seem to notice. In fact, she was still looking at Roger.

“It was great meeting you, Madeline,” I said at last, trying hard to keep myself from laughing as Roger’s color went up in his cheeks. She really was a lucky girl.

“You too! Good luck with Valerie. She’s such a nice reporter.” Her smile was infectious as the two of them made their way to the counter to order (I gave Roger an extra hug and told him to owl me as soon as possible).

I stepped back and checked my watch. Two minutes until our lunch was to begin and I stared at the menu. Why was it suddenly so daunting? Probably because my stomach was all of empty and making weird noises. Nothing sounded good. Well, other than the deserts. Seriously, why was that cheesecake even there when I needed to eat lunch?

Sandwich? Soup? Salad? Ick.

“Nice to see you again, Miss Perry.” Valerie Gig appeared at my side. She was just as beautiful as I remembered (there were a strangely large amount of beautiful women in my life) and today her hair was back in a messy bun. She wore a tailored gray skirt suit with a vibrant pink top underneath.

“Hi!” I said. Hi? Really. I was such an idiot sometimes.

“How are you? Had a look at this menu? What are we thinking?” Valerie was instantly personable. She shifted her weight onto one leg and acted as if this lunch was the most important choice of her day.

“Erm,” I mumbled. Drat! “I’m not really sure, Mrs…”

“Call me Valerie, love,” she said, smiling. “Prefixes are for newlyweds and nineteenth century England.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the truth of it.

“I’m thinking cake. Look at that chocolate cake—could shove it right down. Might have some milk to go with it and a cup of tea.”

Wait, what?

“I was actually eyeing the cheesecake,” I said in a small voice, twisting my fingers together.

“Get it, then! Don’t make me feel like the only whale here!” Valerie laughed and I saw small crow’s feet lining her eyes. I wondered how old she was. I knew she wasn’t that old, but she looked so young. I instantly felt warm and at home with her, which would make this lunch less about nerves and more about me as a potential Quidditch writer.





The cheesecake was even better than I imagined. We picked a round table flanked by windows in the front and for a few I saw Roger and Madeline talking in a booth on the other side of the shop. They ate quickly and left though. They were holding hands.

Yes, there was a tiny stab of jealousy there, but I think that was the Alicia part of me that just wanted all the boys for myself. Roger and I were close friends now, and I’d never think of him as more than a handsome brother, but Alicia had the right mindset: we knew some dishy blokes.

As for Valerie Gig, she was far more than I could have expected. Before even bringing up the fact that she was an internationally known Quidditch writer, we talked about regular stuff. We talked about the cake (it was amazing) and the sales going on throughout Diagon Alley (mental note to buy a zebra purse up the street for half price) and then she asked about Oliver. Obviously she knew we were back together, so I told her a bit of the story and she loved it.

“I thought you and Liam looked fantastic together,” she said, finishing off her glass of milk, “but the spark wasn’t there. Now when you so much as looked across the table at Oliver, I saw it.”

I blushed several times during the conversation.

When we got around to talking about my experiences and goals, I got nervous again. I didn’t have anything to occupy my hands (never-ending cheesecake needed to be invented) so I clutched at my skirt and tried to smile as much as possible.

It went quicker than I thought it would, the tough questions (okay, they weren’t really tough, she was just asking about me playing Quidditch and how much I knew about the game. Turns out, I know a lot) and sooner than expected we were off talking about the World Cup match.

“You’ll be at the Puddlemere benefit game I’m guessing, right?” Her tea was finished and small pieces of hair were falling out of her bun.

“I will. I’ll be there with most of the Gryffindor House team from Hogwarts actually,” I said with a smile, thinking of George and Katie. Then I thought of them screaming at each other in the stands while people looked on with wary expressions. I was willing to take that risk.

Both of them were far too stubborn for their own good. I didn’t know anyone that stubborn. Well, me, but that was beside the point.

“I’ll be there covering it, actually. I look forward to seeing you.” She set down her napkin. “You should send me some samples of your work. Maybe read through some Quidditch Weekly—you read it, don’t you?”

“I’ve subscribed for several years now,” I said, face feeling hot with embarrassment. “So I’ve read pretty much every article.”

“Good to hear!” Valerie looked pleased and gathered up her purse. “Send me some samples, then, and I’d definitely like to keep in touch. I’ll see you at the game! I will be rooting for Puddlemere. I’m so sick of hearing about the Tornadoes and the Magpies. Hopefully Oliver Wood will be Puddlemere’s ticket out of the gutter.” She winked.

I reached out my hand and she shook it. “It was so nice of you to meet me for lunch.”

“The pleasure was mine, Jane. If there’s one thing I love about my job it’s finding new talent to take over. And I think I’ve found it. I’ll see you soon.” With a wave and a smile, Valerie Gig was off, back on the streets of Diagon Alley probably finding another amazing sale on handbags. I still wanted that zebra bag.

Before I went home, though, there was one thing I needed to take care of.





Katie clearly wasn’t expecting me. I didn’t blame her, it wasn’t like I owled ahead of time. She was in her pajamas with fuzzy pink slippers and hair tossed to one side. A magazine was dangling limp in her right hand.

“Can I come in?” I asked.

She nodded and opened the door. We walked into the living room, the same place that was so familiar to me since I had cried on the floor about breaking up with Oliver.

“What’s up? Is everything okay?” Katie asked, tossing the magazine onto the chair.

I nodded. “I wanted to come and say sorry.”

“Sorry? For what?”

“I know when we went dress shopping things were normal between us, but I should have been back here and hung out since then.”

Katie laughed. She actually laughed. Her face always looked so bright when she laughed. “Jane, don’t be stupid. You got back together with Oliver. That’s wonderful! You’ve definitely had your plate full.”

“I should have invited you over.”

“I was busy anyway.”

I cocked a brow at her outfit. “Really?”

“Well, here and there I was.”

“Anyway, I’m sorry. But I’ve come to tell you that you’re invited to Oliver’s benefit game for Puddlemere. It’s his first professional start!”

Katie squealed. “Are you serious? That’s so amazing! Is he super nervous?”

It was like having the old Katie back. No more tears. No more Weasley-bashing. Just Katie. Sweet, affectionate Katie.

“He won’t admit it, but I know he’s feeling the pressure.” I adjusted my skirt and fell into a chair. She sank into one beside me.

“About the game.” Katie looked at her slippers. “George won’t be there, will he?”

“I was told to invite you,” I said. “I don’t know who else Oliver invited, but I haven’t heard anything about George getting an invite. He wants you, Alicia, and Ang there though.” Yeah right, like George wouldn’t get an invite. But let’s face it, if Katie knew George would be there, she wouldn’t go. She would fake sick and she wasn’t good at faking anything.

“Okay.” Her ears were reddening.

“How are you holding up?”

“Oh, I’ve been fine.” She paused. “Seriously, Jane, I’m fine. I’ve actually gotten to spend a lot of time with my parents and read all the books I shoved in the back of my wardrobe. I’m excited to see you guys again. How is Roger? Did he ever talk to that girl?”

“Saw them at a café only a few hours ago. Holding hands!”

She squealed. “What are you so dolled up for? You look amazing. Fred would love that skirt.”

I smiled. “I actually had lunch with Valerie Gig today.”

“Wait—the Valerie Gig?”

“Famous Quidditch writer? Yeah, that one. I’ve heard there’s one that does palm reading, not that one.”

Katie leapt to her feet. “Seriously? Jane, holy hell, how did it go?” Did Katie Bell just swear? I missed her so much.

I kicked up my feet and told her all about it.




A/N: Lovely people! I hope you enjoyed that chapter! Sorry the quality isn't as up to par, I had to hurry & get it out before the queue closes! :) I wanted all of you to have some Oliver/Jane lovin'!

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NEXT TIME:
Katie and George come face to face.


Chapter 27: Luxe Bevington and Shrimp
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For Gaiapet. Even though she's not on board with GeoKat.





Oliver and I had sex again. This time on the sofa. I didn’t mind the plaid pillow this time. My back was getting used to it.

Afterward, we watched a couple movies and made salad for dinner.

Sure, we bickered about how much dressing was involved, but it was perfect.

Now, if only someone else’s relationship could be as stubbornly perfect as ours.

While Oliver went to practices for the benefit game, I returned home to spend time with Dad. Lou and Amanda were there a decent amount of the time, especially when I didn’t want them to be, but who was I to pick and chose when Dad wanted to see his girlfriend? That still sounded weird.

Though every evening after they left so Amanda could watch her television show at home after supper, I spent quality Jane/Dad time with him on the sofa, chatting and just being us. It was nice since we spent every summer doing that up to this point. We talked about everything—about my friends, about Katie and George and how Fred was doing on the new gum that was thinner and emitted smoke. We discussed Quidditch and Valerie Gig and the slew of business cards I had stacked up in my bedroom promising lunches.

I couldn’t help it, though, my mind was on Katie and George. I hadn’t heard from Oliver yet about what George said in reply. Later at Katie’s I had seen a small unfamiliar shoe box in the corner of her second floor lounge, which upon further investigation when she was in the loo, told me she still had all of the George pictures she treasured while they were dating.

Stupid napkins.

 

 

The plan was for everyone (except Katie and George) to meet at Oliver’s before. I was thankful considering I had far too little time with Fred and Lee the past several weeks. I got there early so I could snog Oliver in peace, but unfortunately so did Alicia (not to snog, obviously) so I poked her in the ribs.

It was only around eight and there was still fog on the street.

“I brought supplies,” Alicia said, whipping out a bag as Oliver watched the coverage of a Finches open practice on television. “Let’s see. I have makeup in case Katie looks like a slob. Napkins in case I have to slap both of them with one. A Puddlemere shirt I made myself.” She held it up and it looked like she made it herself. Alicia needed to paint inside the lines. “Oh, and I have a horn to cheer on the team.”

I snickered just as someone knocked on the door. “I think Katie might go nuts if she sees another green napkin. At least she’s back to normal. Not thinking clearly, but back to being Katie.”

“Oy,” said Oliver, pulling open the door, “rest of the lot are here.”

Fred walked in, pulling Angelina by her arm, and Lee followed up with flowers for Alicia. I recognized the flowers from the curb garden outside. Romantic sod.

“Nice flat, mate,” said Fred, immediately walking around to examine the place. “Love the big screen. Nice magazine collection—are those figurines?”

I snorted.

“Shut your hole, Weasley,” Oliver said. “They’re collectables.”

“Not worth much with the arm torn of that Canons bloke, eh?”

“I’m going to throw you out the window,” he said, sounding a lot like me. “All right, we need to hash out this plan before we meet them there.”

“George said he would be a couple minutes late. He promised to paint Mum’s fence this morning,” said Fred. “Thankfully, too, or I’d have to help.”

“All right, so you lot will get there—I’ve gotten you one of Puddlemere’s boxes around the stadium—and Katie either should already be there or almost be there. She’s always early though so I’m going to assume she’ll be tapping her foot waiting for you.” He laughed at his own cleverness. “So you will all get along and George will get there and I’m sure there will be some sort of dumbstruck moment. We know what that’s like, don’t we, Jane?”

“All too well, I’m afraid.”

“They don’t have to sit next to each other. In the same room is fine. Just don’t let them leave.” Oliver was now leafing through his play book. “There are plenty of reasons for them not to leave.” He pointed at himself. “So that shouldn’t be too difficult.”

“So the plan is we don’t have much of a plan other than to keep them in the same room?” Lee raised a brow.

“Think of it as improv,” Alicia said cheerfully. “We can all play characters! I’ll be mysterious, yet light and airy since no one knows I really hold lots of secrets in my full, luxurious head of shiny hair.”

We all stared.

“Or you can just be Alicia,” Angelina said. “I think we’d like that a lot more.”

“Suit yourself. I already had a name for my character. Luxe Bevington. How does that sound?”

We then ignored her.

“Everyone ready to get a bite to eat and then do this?” Oliver said, grabbing his play book and stuffing it into his already packed bag.

“So ready for all of this rubbish to be over,” Lee said.

“Janey, where’s your skirt?” Fred said. Angelina punched him. “Just wondering, just wondering.”

 

 

The Puddlemere stadium was located in southern England, where it was actually rather sunny with cloudless skies. That might have an effect on Oliver’s ability to see the Quaffle, but he was wonderful so I didn’t doubt him.

It was absolutely enormous, but I knew that since we’d been to the Open Practice, though hearing Ang and the others talk about it was fun. Alicia walked around like she owned the place.

“Yeah, I was over here already. This is where we did lunch after the practice,” she said arrogantly and I laughed.

“You’re in box two forty-three,” said Oliver as we shifted through people. Since it was a benefit game most people were dressed nice with the exception of heels. Unless they were in a box, people weren’t trekking up to the second tier with stilettos on. “I have to head to the locker rooms, but you all have your passes.” He checked his watch. “Yeah, Katie should be there already. There’s food and booze there too, but there’s an after party at a bar down the street. To celebrate the new season.”

“Not a win?” I asked.

“I’m not getting my hopes up. You’ve seen the Magpies play.” Oliver kissed me and even though I was jostled by a few passing people, I melted into his arms.

“You’ll be great,” I said.

“See you lot afterward! Good luck!” With that, he was off in the other direction to start in his first professional Quidditch game ever.

I watched him go, mostly his rear end, and smiled. He was amazing.

“All right, gang!” said Alicia. “Let’s play matchmaker! We got them together once. And for Merlin’s sake, we’re going to do it again.”

 

 

Oliver was right. Katie was waiting in the box alone when we arrived. There was food laid out on banquet tables near the back and a small bar in the corner. Both were manned by blokes in black ties with funny mustaches. She whipped around upon hearing the door open.

“Hey!” Katie said cheerfully. “About time! I’ve been watching people file into their seats—look at that lady over there. Big sky-scraper heels.” She looked stunning—Katie, not Empire State Heels—so Alicia’s prepared makeup bag wasn’t necessary. Katie always seemed to look good, but today especially in a yellow sundress and sandals.

“Hey there, yourself,” said Lee, forcing Katie to her feet and wrapping her in a hug. “You look beautiful. Did you do that on purpose? Because I’m dating Alicia, you know, and she won’t be fond of me cheating with you.” He winked in that silly Lee-way and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Oh, hush,” Katie said. “I wanted to look good for Oliver’s big day. Is he prepared?”

“As prepared as he’s going to get. He doesn’t have false hope, but I think his skills are going to surprise him.” I took a seat next to her and Fred sat on my other side, still disappointed in my Capri pants.

“Who wants liquor?” Lee asked, laughing. “Let’s get this party started!”

That was short-lived, considering George walked in right when we all turned to see what he bar menu was. He looked great too in a collared blue shirt that made his eyes look fiery. His hair was a little messy, but he would have looked weird too put together anyway.

Cue dramatic pause.

“What is he doing here?!” Katie said, leaping to her feet.

Maybe this wasn’t the best idea Oliver ever had.

“He’s here to support Oliver,” Angelina said in that tone she always had. That shut the heck up and pay attention tone. I was incapable of making that noise, but she was good enough for the both of us. “Speaking of which—look, it’s him!”

The teams were flying onto the pitch and I saw my beau waving to the waves of supporters. He looked fantastic, but I could see his muscles were tense.

George was almost back out the door when Fred stopped him. “I didn’t know she was going to be here,” he hissed. Katie was back to talking to Angelina. Well, yelling, but who could tell? “Conveniently left that out, did you?”

“Shut up. You weren’t going to skip Wood’s first game over not wanting to see your ex.” Fred grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to a seat a few away from Katie.

“I can’t believe you,” said Katie to the three of us girls. “This is so underhanded.”

“You’re being dramatic,” Alicia said. Funny, coming from her. “This is about Oliver and we’re all here for him.”

“I would have appreciated a head’s up! I would have still come!”

I cocked a brow. “Seriously? Because I don’t think you would have.”

“Well, no. I mean, I would have sat in a different section…”

“You’re hopeless,” said Ang. “I need a drink.”

“By all means,” muttered Katie. “Just get me one while you’re up.”

 

 

It didn’t get easier through the pregame announcements. While they were announcing the sponsors, Katie kept shooting dark glances past me, Fred, and Angelina to George, who returned them in a very un-George-like manner. While telling the audience who was who for the Magpies (was Roger here?) Katie left to get another drink and some snacks. George muttered a few things to Ang, who slapped him on the back of the head.

I didn’t care what they did during the announcement of the Puddlemere players, simply because I was screaming so loud for Oliver. He really did look great out there. It was so different from seeing him on the Hogwarts pitch, but not different in the sense that he looked plain hot. Like, hair flying in the wind hot. I narrowed my eyes at the screaming girls. Jerks.

Oliver was right about the Magpies supporters. It was clear they were the favorites judging by the shirts in the crowd and giant cheers when they were announced. I felt for him since it was home pitch advantage. Bugger on the Magpies (‘cept Roger).

The Quaffle was up and the Chasers were flying and I suddenly wondered how the heck I got up there at the open practice with how fast and good they were. I mean, the girls could have (and Alicia did) held their own, but I was probably so out of place. I spotted Liam streak up the pitch with the Quaffle and settled back into my seat.

“Can’t believe he’s here,” Katie whispered into my ear.

“Really?” I said. “You thought Oliver would exclude him from his special day?”

She mumbled something.

“I do like that shirt he’s wearing, though,” I said, practically thinking out loud. “Brings out his pretty Weasley eyes.”

“What about my eyes?” Fred asked, batting his eyelashes playfully.

“I do love them,” I replied with a smile.

“Yeah, whatever,” Katie said in a grumpy voice.

I turned away from Fred and put a hand on Katie’s shoulder. “Look, there’s no point in being a jerk about it. You’re going to support Oliver so just let it go, okay? Besides, isn’t it kind of nice to see him again after all the time you’ve spent doing cardio? By the way, your bod looks fantastic.”

She smirked. “Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?” She paused. “I don’t want to see him, though. I’m glad he can clean up nice and he’s doing okay, but I still don’t want to see him. It just…it brings back everything, you know?”

“Oh, trust me, out of everyone here, I know.”

Katie reached over and hugged me. “Sorry I’ve been such a git.”

After that, though she didn’t run up and hug George, she did get back to being Katie (sans Weasley love). During the game we drank, ate, and were pretty darn merry. Puddlemere was doing far better than I (or they) thought they would, scoring multiple times. Oliver was a beast in front of the hoops. The Magpies, as everyone thought, were amazing. They were clearly bitter about not winning the Cup and it showed on every face as they stole the Quaffle and swung bats at Bludgers.

The party inside the box was heating up with Fred doing impressions and Lee swinging Alicia around. We were joined by some people from another box (per Fred’s drunken invite) and most of them were quite nice, though they ate all of my shrimp. There were a few cute boys and some skinny girls, but luckily no sighting of Bridget, girl who planned to take me down. Still had no idea what she meant.

As the game wore on and there was still no sign of the Snitch, more drinks were consumed and the cheers got louder. Fred stood on the banquet table pretending to be a Keeper. George, who hadn’t taken in as much alcohol as he was used to (probably still recovering from his post-breakup drinking binge), was trying to get him down while saving the snacks, and Lee was making out with Alicia by the bar. Angelina and I were hovering at the edge of the box trying to see if Liam was as gorgeous far away as he was up close.

He was.

I saw Katie chatting with some of the remaining people from the box next door. One of which was a tall handsome boy with dark hair and a pretty Swedish accent. He was leaning in a way that suggested he was holding up the wall. Oliver had already mastered that technique.

“Do you think he’s talked to Michelle yet?” Angelina asked, bringing me back to Quidditch-land.

“I have no idea. You couldn’t tell at all by the way they play. I wonder.” I paused. “That’s what we need. The lack of ability to tell who is snogging who on the Gryffindor team.”

“Yeah right, Fred and I blow kisses to each other on the pitch,” Ang replied.

“I remember one game where it was bats instead of kisses…”

“Sod off.”

I glanced back to see Katie looking slightly uncomfortable now that the Swedish boy was the only one there. He was obviously plastered, though still realistically suave, and kept pushing pieces of her hair behind her ears. She blushed, but kept stepping back.

“Think we should intervene?” I asked Angelina.

“Let it go for a minute,” she said. “Katie can take care of herself. I mean, sometimes she’s too nice, like right now, but she’ll make it obvious when she needs us.”

The boy then grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. Katie pushed against his torso, but he wasn’t let up. I could barely see her scrunched up face.

Ding ding ding.

I nearly leapt over a chair to get to them and show that Swedish bloke what I’d learned in Hogwarts, but George beat me there. He, apparently, had no desire to show the guy any sort of painful hexes or jinxes. His fist met the jaw bone of Swedish Meatball and the bloke went flying right into the wall. Katie lost her balance for a moment and George grabbed her arm, steadying her.

I stopped, leg still draped over a chair. So did everyone else.

Katie and George looked into each other’s eyes.

“Sorry,” George said quickly. “I just reacted. That guy looked—looks—like a bleeding tool.” He looked down at Swedish Meatball. “Get out.”

“No, that’s fine,” Katie said, taking her arm away and flattening her hair. “Yeah, I guess I needed a little help there, huh? Thanks. I appreciate it.” With the weirdest, awkwardest smile she could muster, Katie returned to her seat in the front of the box and sat, back straight, to watch the game. I could tell by her glazed eyes that she wasn’t thinking about the Quaffle, Bludgers, or even Oliver in his hoop glory.


“Well, that was awkward,” Alicia said to me a little later after she had ripped her lips from Lee’s. “Think that’s the last time they speak?”

“Nope,” I said. “Not one bit.” I was thinking like Oliver. This was a retreat and they were forced to be in the same room together. “I have an idea.”

Ang went to find the people that would bring us more shrimp, so I told Alicia to dance with Lee (so what there was no music?) and I asked a very intoxicated Fred to dance. We twirled around the box as the bartender watched and laughed and I noted Fred was a surprisingly good dancer while he was drunk.

That left Katie and George. Obviously they didn’t jump up and tango, but George did go over and sit one seat away from Katie. He commented about something. She nodded. She said something. He laughed. It was silent for a while until he pointed out something on the pitch. I heard her say, “Oh, yeah! Yeah, I see that!”

The Magpies were winning, but not by much at that point.

“Excuse you?” Angelina said, laughing, as she grabbed Fred’s arm. “Keeping my ginger busy while I was away—there’s more shrimp by the way.”

“Yep. Just doing a little plotting.” I smiled. “Hold his left side, though, he keeps veering left.”

Fred giggled.

With that, and while laughing since Ang almost dropped Fred, I returned to the front of the box to watch the rest of the game. Katie and George were still talking every once in a while in calm voices, which was a small victory for Team GeoKat.

It was clear everyone on the pitch was exhausted. It was the middle of the afternoon and the game had been going for hours. I could see the front of Liam’s robes were soaked in sweat and some of the Magpies players were flying slower than usual. Oliver, however, looked completely solid. He had let in several Quaffles, there was no doubt in that, but for the amount of hours they had been playing, it was minuscule. Clearly the Magpies were not seeing this as a positive thing.

I turned for a minute, making sure my friends were still alive. Alicia and Lee were back to snogging, Fred was gorging himself on shrimp while leaning heavily on the table. Angelina had taken to getting another drink. Katie was sitting with both her arms and legs crossed. George’s expression told me he wasn’t the least bit clued in on the game.

That became obvious when he had no reaction to the huge crowd erupting around me when Puddlemere caught the Snitch.

I threw my hands in the air, turning fast enough to see Oliver join his teammates in a bone-crunching hug. “We won!” I cried. “Take that, Magpies! You didn’t get a Cup and you didn’t get the benefit win!” I knew it didn’t count toward the regular season, but it put Oliver on the map. He played amazing, though I wasn’t watching every single moment.

He would understand. The Katie/George nonsense was his idea after all.

“Oh, did we win?” said Fred. “You know what else won? This bleeding shrimp. So good. Like, succulent and stuff. Fucking mouth-watering except when you have it in your mouth then it’s just saliva.”

Angelina covered his mouth and steered him out so we could meet Oliver.

 


“What a wild game!” Oliver said, not fazed by the fact the game was hours upon hours long. He wrapped me in a hug and ordered a round of drinks for everyone.

The pub was packed with Puddlemere supporters, most of them the friends and family of players. The last thing some of them needed was more alcohol, but I wasn’t bothered. Ang could mop up Fred later.

“How do you feel?” I asked Oliver when we had a chance to finally talk.

“Exhilarated!” he cried over the music. “Bleeding fantastic—can’t believe we won! Did you see my one save on that git Michaels? Like he was getting past me—boom! Boom! Save!”

“I saw a lot of them,” I replied with an impressed smile. “I was also working on some other things.” I jerked my head in the direction of Katie and George, who were chatting at the next table.

“Wonder what they’re saying.”

“Probably how much they want to kick each other.”

Oliver shrugged. “I wouldn’t put it past them.”

I stopped to look, craning my neck a little. Katie’s eyes were narrowed. George rolled his own. That wasn’t a good sign. In fact, it was far from good. I heard her raise her voice. He threw his hands in the air. Shit.

“Not good,” Oliver mumbled, leaning across the table to place a delicate kiss on my cheek.

“Oh, you’re so ridiculous!” Katie cried, getting up from the table so fast her chair almost fell over. “How could you say I overreacted? Maybe I did a little, but you never take any responsibility for your actions!”

“What?” George said. “That’s not true! I took responsibility for you being such a git!”

Katie gasped. She slammed back her drink, gave him her meanest, least feminine face, and turned on heel. Then she was suddenly at our table huffing and puffing and just plain livid.

“I think I’m going to go,” Katie said.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I replied slyly, even though I knew my plan was hopeless at this point. “This is about Oliver’s night, not you. Don’t pull an Ang and make it that way.”

“Shut up!” Ang cried from the bar. Fred was dancing the sprinkler.

Katie huffed again and stomped over to the bar, ordering something with a lot of liquor.

“At least you got her to stay,” Oliver said, placing his hand on mine. “I’m starting to think this might be hopeless.”

“It’s not,” I said. “I think we’re getting somewhere with them. Even if George just threw back four shots. Someone should watch him—oh, there’s Lee, heading over.”

The bar was getting louder and darker. There were empty glasses all over the bar, where we joined Fred, Ang, Leesh, and Katie. I wasn’t hammered like the others, but I couldn’t pretend I didn’t have to stabilize myself before moving to my next destination. George and Lee were dancing in the middle of the bar to cheers.

“Here’s to Puddlemere!” Katie cried, giggling. I hadn’t seen her drink that much in a long time. She raised two glasses and tried to drink from both.

“To Puddlemere!” People I didn’t even know chanted this. I was trying to find my drink. Fred was kissing the cheeks of guys with Puddlemere numbers painted on them. Everything was blurry.

Music was thumping in my ears and Alicia yelled something about Lee’s bum. Katie was moving back and forth with the beat. She was laughing. Then she caught sight of George. I should have rethought the letting-her-drink thing.

“Oy!” she cried, marching up to George, who had stopped dancing. Lee was left waving his arms around stupidly between tables, but a few people got up to join him.

“Oy, what, woman?” George said, his hands clumsily on his hips.

“Oy, you’re a right git, you know that?” she shouted, jabbing him with her index finger. Ang made to get her away from the situation, but she fell part-way there and Fred grabbed her for some dancing time.

“Yeah, I bleeding know that!” George shouted back. “What do you expect?” He grabbed someone else’s shot and took it.

“I expected you to come talk to me about it!”

“Like you came and talked to me about it?”

She raised a brow. “What did you do anyway?”

“I did a lot!” George said defensively. “Drank myself into idiocy, cleaned out the gardens, made Fred do everything for me.”

To my surprise (and the surprise of everyone else paying attention), Katie smirked. “I did cardio.”

George choked. “Alone?”

“Made the other girls do it too.”

He motioned to me. “Jane did cardio?”

“Jane attempted cardio.”

I took offense to that.

George laughed.

“Oy!” Lee grabbed his arm and dragged him back into dancing.

“That invite still stands, you know!” George shouted back to Katie as he started dancing again. Angelina and Fred joined them and the conversation was no more.

“Sod off!” Katie said, but she was smiling and laughing.

I looked over to Oliver and he had several more eyes than before. “What invite?” I said.

“You got me,” he said, finishing his drink. “What do you say we put a few more back and get out of here?”

“Read my mind.”


Lips locked, completely unaware of where I was going, Oliver and I finally managed to find his flat. I threw him against the door, which he unlocked with his wand, and we fell inside, snogging until I didn’t know when in the morning.




A/N: I hope you all enjoyed the latest chapter! Finally we got Katie and George in the same room. For an extended period of time too! And more Jane Oliver snog time! Gotta love it. Anyway, let me know what you think :) Is there still hope for Katie and George? Or, as Jane would say, Team GeoKat?


Favorite quotes? Favorite...Fred quotes? haha. Hope everyone's soon-to-be-autumn is going fabulous. I'm in the mood for some apple cider and a corn maze! xoxo

UP NEXT: Money, that invitation, shopping with someone unexpected, and some formality.


Chapter 28: Raising the Drama
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The coming days were much less eventful than snogging Oliver and going to Quidditch parties. I spent most of the time with Dad watching exhibition games and learning the art of the perfect apple turnover. Dad was a pro.

Roger owled me on Tuesday morning to tell me more about Madeline. Apparently she was Swiss but had been studying and playing Quidditch in England for quite some time. He emphasized the quality of her hair and how sweet she was. She looked sweet and I was happy for him. I couldn’t wait to see his shiny haired-head again.

I meandered out into the living room after stashing Roger’s letter in my desk drawer to find Dad lounging on the sofa. His feet were kicked up. “Working hard?”

“Like usual,” he said with a smile. “I don’t have to go into the office for another couple of hours so I figured I’d catch up on that new show.”

“Which new show?”

“The one with the silly family.”

I shrugged, having no idea what he was talking about. Dad loved TV, both wizarding and Muggle, something I’m sure gave him props while trying to carry on non-magical conversations with Lou.

“Letter just came for you,” he said, motioning over to the table by the kitchen. “I think it’s from Oliver. Should I read it over to make sure it’s appropriate?”

I chuckled and tossed a pillow at him. “Take a shower, you’re a mess.”

Jane,

I wanted to tell you in person, but I’m running drills today so I can’t escape the team. Everything is going great here and I’ve been keeping tabs on the Denters and Michelle stuff because you told me to. They’re talking right now actually. She’s laughing, which is a start I guess. As long as she isn’t trying to make him jealous by flirting with me, I’m okay. Practice is great; the team is great. We’re all much more confident after we beat the Magpies. Maybe Puddlemere will be a contender this year!

They have a lot of confidence in me too. It was proven when the General Manager walked up to me in the locker room this morning and told me about the huge raise they were giving me. They said it was to instill confidence and show me that I could do this. Plus, being in Quidditch Weekly’s Rookie section didn’t hurt. So now I can more than afford that flat in London and a few pretty presents for you as well.

I’ll try to stop by tomorrow or Thursday.

I love you.

O. Wood


I nearly dropped the letter. I reread it several times. Oliver got a raise. Not just a Sickle an hour raise, no, he was talking a hefty chunk of change for being so damn good. He was good and he deserved it! I wished I could see him that day, though.

“Any news?” Dad asked, ruffling his hair.

“Oliver got a raise.” I handed him the letter. “And Liam and Michelle are talking.”

“He’s dropping the L bomb now?” He raised a brow. “I don’t know how I feel about that. Maybe I’ll have to give him a stern talking-to.”

I snatched it back. “Should I give Lou a stern-talking to?”

“You always have the best come-backs.” He wrinkled his nose and stretched. “Okay, okay. I’ll go take a shower and head into work. You’re such a demanding child.” With a kiss on the cheek, Dad disappeared into the other room and I was left to ponder what kinds of gifts Oliver would get me.

 

 

“So let me get this straight,” Alicia said. Her arms were folded and she was sitting on the edge of my bed. “Oliver got a raise and he’s not sharing any of it with me?”

“That’s pretty much it,” I said.

The girls were over the following day, sprawled out over my room, all equally upset their boyfriends weren’t getting raises to share with them. Except Katie because she was still delusional.

“He did do really well at the game,” she said. “We all figured he’d do well but the Magpies would still win. I’m impressed.” She was flipping through old photo albums. That one was from the first few years at Hogwarts. My hair looked like it was out of a horror film. Who let me run around like that?

“He deserves it,” Angelina said. “He’s been putting up with Hogwarts Quidditch so long. And not going to Brazil when he could have played there. Because of Jane.”

I groaned. “Well, because of me he’s the star of the Puddlemere team. And he doesn’t have to put up with Bastian on a daily basis.”

Alicia shot me a look.

“How are things with Mr. Perry and Lou?” asked Katie. “She’s not around today.”

“Yeah, Dad’s at the office today. Lou has been here off and on,” I said. “Amanda has been here less, which is a blessing for my clothes, the damn thief.” I shrugged. “Not sure, though. I’m guessing things are going well. It’s still weird.”

“Because your dad is dating?”

“Not really,” I said. “It’s just that he’s dating a Muggle. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s so hard for me not to talk about Quidditch exhibition scores and I know it’s hard for him. Hell, he works at the Ministry. He’s obsessive about Quidditch. I’m wondering if they have anything at all in common.”

“They must if they’ve been together this long.” Angelina was looking through my closet. “What is this pink shirt? I’ve never seen you wear this.”

I made a noise. “There’s a reason.”

“Obviously.”

“Do you think Mr. P is going to tell Lou about him being a wizard?” Alicia asked.

Another shrug. “No idea. I feel like he’s heading in that direction, but it’s really intense. What if she freaks out? But then again, what if she thinks it’s awesome, they get married, and Amanda is my sister forever? Maybe we’ll move into a different flat. I like this flat.”

Ang threw the pink shirt at me. “Calm down. You have no idea what’s going to happen and you can’t control it. If Amanda ends up being your sister, you can just treat her like a younger sister.”

“Meaning?”

“Ruin her life.” Angelina laughed. “Only joking, but you’re going to be at Hogwarts all year, and afterward you’ll probably be moving out.”

She was right. I hadn’t thought about life after Hogwarts. Much at all, actually. Oliver just went off and played professional Quidditch, but what was I supposed to do? I wasn’t going to play, I wanted to write. Could I just get a writing job right out of Hogwarts? I’d already met with Valerie Gig and I had the business cards of countless of other writers. I had no idea what that meant. Bugger on uncertainties.

“Will you lot be moving out?” I asked.

“Depends if I get a job,” said Alicia. “If I get signed I’ll be out of here. Hopefully instead of a reserve offer I’ll get a real one.”

“Same,” said Angelina.

“Maybe,” said Katie. I didn’t blame her. She lived in an enormous house with a cook. She might need some adjustment time.

I thought about being in my own flat with the limited things from my bedroom. I’d have to do serious shopping before I could fill a whole flat. But I’d have to get a serious writing job before I could afford furniture. I’d just swipe some of Hogwarts’ desks or the four-poster. They wouldn’t miss it.

“You all thinking about flats?” Angelina asked.

“Mine will be bright colors,” said Alicia. “It’ll be weird not being in the country. With Hogwarts and with my uncle’s house I’ve been out in the middle of nowhere with nature.”

“Weirdly,” I said, “since you have more of a city personality.”

“What do you think the boys will do?” said Angelina. “Do you think they’ll really go for that joke shop? And Lee with them?”

“I don’t think they have their hearts set on anything else.” Alicia put down another photo album. “Jane, you needed so many hair charms. Anyway, even if they got contracts I don’t think they’d take them. And Lee just wants to be with them. One day they’ll get sick of each other.”

“Doubtful,” said Katie with a smile. “They have so much man love for each other. It’s borderline scary, really.” She paused, staring at her red nails. “George invited me to the Burrow, you know.”

“I wasn’t sure if we were still doing that,” Alicia said.

“Well, we go every year,” I pressed.

“Just with the explosion at Katie’s I didn’t know if everyone would show up.” Alicia jerked her head toward Katie.

“I mean, I don’t have to go, it’s just an invite,” Katie said. “But I hate the thought of all of you being there without me. Even if George is there and we don’t see eye to eye and don’t get along, the rest of you are my friends.”

I caught Angelina rolling her eyes.

“So are you going or not?” Alicia wasn’t known for her patience.

“Should I?” Katie was twisting her fingers. “What if it’s awkward?”

“You were just in a Quidditch box with him and carried on a conversation.”

“Then fought,” she pointed out.

“You two are so stupid,” Alicia said. “I swear, I feel like it’s back at the retreat and you’re Ang and I’m me telling you you’re stupid.”

“I resent that,” said Ang.

“You would.” Alicia pushed her hair back. “Look, Katie, do what you want, but know all three of us will continuously think you’re ridiculous for not going and not spending the week with us. Just a head’s up.”

“She needs a filter,” Ang said, laughing.

“Then she wouldn’t be Alicia,” I replied. “So what’s the verdict, Katie? Come and deal with George while hanging out with the people you adore, or stay at home with Thelma and learn how to make a burrito?”

She groaned. “I’ll be there.” Then she jumped because there was a knock at the front door.

We rushed out of the bedroom since Dad wasn’t there to open it, each of us wondering if it was someone famous and lost at the door. Also hoping it was not Amanda.

“I got out early,” said Oliver, who was leaning against the frame when I opened the door. “Good afternoon, ladies.”

“Ah, my ex-Captain,” Alicia said. “Still the suave Scotsman.”

I threw my arms around him. “I got your letter. Bring me anything?”

“It’s not tangible.” He laughed. “I thought I would be enough.”

“So you thought,” I said, smiling, kissing him. “We were just talking about the week at the Burrow. Will you be there?”

“I have most of the week off before the season starts, but I’ll be in and out.”

“Can’t ask for more than that,” I said, steering him back toward the bedroom. “Katie will be there.”

He raised a brow, looking over his shoulder at his previous Chaser. “Ah, will she?”

“Yes,” Katie muttered.

“And she’ll love it!” Alicia chimed in, closing the door as all of us piled in my bedroom. “How’s the Quidditch world, Captain?”

Ang coughed.

“Erm, ex-Captain,” said Alicia, rolling her eyes.

“It’s not bad. Jane might have told you I got a sizable raise so things are getting easier in that department. Harder in training, but I think it’ll be worth it. We’re really working together well.” Oliver leaned back onto his elbows on my bed. “Lots of exciting things happening.”

“I saw the schedule,” Angelina said. “It looks intense. You’re playing a lot of higher ranked teams multiple times this season. Do you think your team has it in them not to burn out?”

“We can’t get any worse,” he said. “Well, we weren’t in last place last year, but we were close.”

“I guess that’s one way to look at it.”
“What I mean is we can only go up and if we burn out and don’t finish at the top, hey, we did our best, right?” Oliver smiled. “The beginning of the season is going to get interesting, though.”

I pulled my knees close to my chest. Each of the other girls moved forward.

“Oh?” I said.

“That’s sort of why I’m here.” He smirked. I loved that look. It meant he had a secret. Oliver always had a secret, but he had a good one. “Well, my parents are trying their best to be supportive.”

I hoped that meant no more surprise dinner dates with Quidditch Daughters. Or “The Daughters,” as Ellis called them.

“They decided to sponsor a Puddlemere showing on the Quidditch Network in a couple weeks. It includes the airing of the game, plus a one-hour segment before about the team and a two-hour segment afterward wrapping up the game and talking more about the team, players, and fandom. It’ll really get us on the map in terms of a legitimate, competitive team.” He drew a deep breath, sitting up again. “And I can’t say no because it’s Puddlemere, but they wanted to throw a dinner party at their house in celebration of it. And all of you are invited.” He beamed.

A dinner party at the Wood household. Complete with riffraff references.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to your house,” Alicia said. “Not that we were really mates before this year. Is your house awesome?”

“My parents’ house is rather large,” Oliver said, putting an emphasis on the fact that it wasn’t his house. “It’s fancy I guess.”

“Did you have a pony growing up?” she said. “I know Katie did.”

“Shut it.” Katie threw one of my pillows.

“I demand ponies at this party,” said Alicia, throwing the pillow back.

“You can wear a fancy dress,” Oliver said. “That’s all I’m giving you. Oh, and free food.”

“Ah, can’t say no to that.”

“Oh, and tell Fred, George, and Lee they’re invited as well. I was going to stop over there but Fred said before he’d see you in a few days, Ang. So you can be the messenger that they have to wear suit jackets and ties.”

She groaned. “They won’t take that well.”

“But you’ll tell them?”

“I’ll take the hit.” Angelina laughed, trying for a bit of a wink.

Oliver tightened his arm around my shoulders. “I really do have to go, though. I promised Mum I’d help her put together a menu, which requires me to make silly faces when she mentions food I don’t understand.”

“You’ve only been here a minute!” I whined, not really caring about the look Ang was giving me. “Can’t your mum wait?”

He smiled. “I’ll see you soon, love.” Oliver kissed me on the cheek. “Can’t wait to see what dress you wear to the dinner. It’ll definitely be a place to see and be seen.”

“So we’ll be in the nineteenth century?” Alicia groaned.

He got to his feet. “All right, ladies. I’m off. Jane, I’ll see you soon. Ang, Katie, Alicia, I’ll see you this weekend.” With a kiss that was probably more inappropriate than it wasn’t, Oliver left and I heard the door snap shut. Well, bugger.

“Aw, sorry, Jane,” Alicia said, stretching. “A mum just got picked over you.”

“I’m over it,” I said, laughing. “We have some shopping to do after all.”

“Today?” said Ang.

“What better day than today?”

“Never,” she said. “It’s going to take us forever to settle on dresses.”

“Who else can we invite to help?”

Alicia tapped her foot on the floor. “What about Dodger?”

“He has practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday,” I said.

She leapt to her feet. “I know!”

Katie glanced over from opening the window. “Enlighten us. Thinking about inviting Professor McGonagall?”

“Let’s invite Lou!”

I nearly choked. “Lou—Lou as in my dad’s girlfriend? That Lou?”

Alicia nodded. “Sure! What’s she doing today other than running her shop? She should come give an opinion on our fabulous see and be seen dresses.”

We were silent for a moment.

“Do you think that means formal?” I wondered aloud. I could barely picture myself in anything more formal than a cocktail dress.

“If it’s being thrown by the Wood clan you can bet it will be,” said Angelina. “How do you feel about inviting Lou, Jane? I mean, she seems really brilliant. Maybe she has a stellar fashion sense.”

I didn’t know how I felt. I liked Lou. She was good for Dad and made him smile and buy healthy food for the flat. Her shop was nice and she was a lovely woman with a strange daughter. But shopping buddy? That was something I hadn’t considered, mostly because of the potential awkwardness.

“I don’t see a problem with it,” Alicia chimed in. “I’m sure she’ll be fun. Let’s go get her.”

Ang shot me a worried look.

“No, no, let’s do it,” I said, grabbing my purse from the bedside stand. “Lou’s a lovely woman and I’m sure it’ll be fun. I’ll leave Dad a note saying where we’ve gone.” I snatched up a slip of parchment and scribbled a bit on it as the girls finished leafing through books and messing everything up. Alicia even ruffled my hair before leading the way out the door.

Lou’s shop was the same as last time. Still quirky, fun, and adorable. My eyes found some new products and I marveled at the interesting pocket watches and tea-bag holders. One was in a fun rainbow print.

“Jane!” Lou cried, bustling to the front as the cashiers helped more people. It was strangely full, just like last time. “How are you?”

I smiled, still a little uncomfortable with the situation. “Great, actually. Listen, I was wondering if you were busy.”

She looked around and cocked a brow. “What do you mean? My life is one big bowl of busy.”

“Well, Oliver’s parents are hosting this fundraising dinner this weekend,” I said, picking words carefully. “We all needed dresses to impress the boys.” Katie made a noise. “So we were wondering if maybe you’d like to accompany us to a couple stores and give some opinions?”

Lou beamed. “I can put Charlotte in charge for a few hours. I’d love to, girls.” She shed a pink apron, swung it over the counter, and retreated to the back to grab her purse.

“See?” said Alicia. “It wasn’t that hard.”

“Let’s hope this doesn’t get painful,” I said.

“I promise not to mention snogging your Dad,” she said. “Because I don’t want to picture her snogging Mr. P. That would be treason.”

“Since you dream about it all the time,” Angelina said with an eye roll. She pretended to be talking about hand-painted plates when Lou returned. “The kittens are precious.”

“I have the perfect place,” Lou said, pulling her hair back into a soft bun. “It’s a little ways away, but we can take the underground. Trust me. This place is worth it.”

I couldn’t remember the last time I had been on the London underground and there was a reason. It was disgusting. There were people everywhere and some of them smelled worse than the boys’ locker rooms at Hogwarts. Some even worse than Flint. Not many could earn that title though.

Katie kept clutched tight to us.

We emerged somewhere I’d never been, a place full of dark brick and colorful windows. “The rent here is astronomical,” Lou said, ushering us past boutiques and art galleries. “But it’s still my favorite place to shop. Right over here—see that tea shop with the lion painting in the window? That’s where your father and I met, Jane.”

Cue the snogging, touching, and general awkwardness.

Ang put a hand on my shoulder while Alicia stifled her laughter.

“Oh, is it? Didn’t know Dad came down here.” I tightened my jaw.

Lou smiled gently. “Sure, all the time. I saw him in there quite a bit before he came up to me while I was reading over a cup of tea. I remember I was reading some horrible novel and I tried to hide the cover as quickly as possible.” She giggled. Really, giggled.

I internally reminded myself that I liked Lou.

“Here it is!” she cried, pointing to a shop to our right that had stunning dresses on display in the window. “They’re all reasonably priced because she sells so many. And the sewing is perfect. So are the colors.” Lou practically ripped open the door, but I could tell what she meant. Everything had such a nice flow to it.

Inside were about a dozen large racks with various dresses, hung by size, on display. There were also mannequins wearing an assortment of dresses in navies, greens, and violets.

Katie ran right for the jewel tones, filling a selected dressing room with taffeta, crinoline, and all the satin she could carry.

Angelina ran her fingers down all the dresses before delicately picking out one or two to try on.

Alicia just grabbed the nearest dresses to her and then made fun of one in a mustard color.

I went up and down the racks wrinkling my nose at some dresses and wondering about others. Would they make my shoulders look too broad? How about the cut? Where was it landing on my midsection? I realized I was making indents in my lips from biting so much.

“I have my first on!” Katie cried. Apparently she was now excited about the fundraiser since it had to do with shopping. She emerged from the dressing room in a stunning floor-length dress in deep blue satin. “I can already tell this is going to be a difficult choice.”

“Holy shit, Katie,” Ang said. “That looks amazing on you.” She dove into a dressing room, Alicia taking the third.

I was suddenly overwhelmed. Not in a way that suggested I couldn’t pick a dress, but it felt like everything was happening so soon. Oliver got a raise and I had to show my face back at his parents’ house, which I was certain would be full of people like Bridget and the Woods’. Not to mention shopping with Lou and the need to settle on four dresses.

Angelina was out next and Katie poked her head out to see what it looked like.

“Done,” she said. She twirled around the tri-fold mirror in a shiny dress that hugged her body. It was in some creamy orange-salmon color and made her skin look radiant. Ang pulled her hair back and held it there with one hand. “What do you girls think? I think this is the one.”

“You should like you’re wedding dress shopping,” Lou said with a laugh and Katie pulled her head back inside the dressing room. “I think it looks beautiful. You said you had a boyfriend? Fred, right? I think he’ll love it. Won’t be able to keep his hands off of you.”

“That’s not new,” Alicia said after she had returned to getting her dress on.

“I’m getting it,” Angelina said in a voice that suggested even if we hated it she would be wearing it this weekend. “It’s perfect. Fred is going to lose his mind.”

“Once again,” Alicia piped up, “that’s nothing new.”

“Jane, you can have my room,” Ang said as she reentered. “I just have to put these other dresses back and change.” She did a double-take and her head appeared to the right of the curtain. “Where are your choices?”

“Oh, I’m watching you lot first.” I smiled. Secretly, my heart was hammering. I wanted a dress that would make Oliver lose his mind. Unfortunately, there were racks and racks and I had a feeling I wouldn’t emerge from a dressing room telling the girls I’d made my choice.

Ang rolled her eyes and went back in to change.

Katie emerged again with a fushia dress made from silk. It also hugged her body.

Alicia’s face appeared. “I could hear the loudness of that dress from in here,” she said. “Put it back.”

“What? Why?”

I made a face. “I think Puddlemere should be the talk of the party. Not that color.”

Katie huffed and stomped back into the room.

“I was glad you lot said it,” Lou whispered with a sideways smile.

For a moment all three girls were moving fabric and I could hear frustrated noises make their way out from behind the velvet curtains. The shop clerk was dancing around to the music playing on speakers placed around the shop. I liked this place.

Alicia came out in a dress that screamed cow print to me. She took one look at it, laughed, and then went back into the room. This happened several times and we weren’t able to get a word in about the print, fabric, or how it looked on her.

Ang, however, had already paid for her dress and placed the others back on the rack in the correct places (much to the clerk’s approval). That dressing room was now empty, staring back at me like a bad dream. I had no dresses in my hands.

Katie let out a yell of frustration. “I don’t like any of them!” she said.

“Let me help,” said Lou, rushing out onto the sales floor. I expected her to come back with a zillion choices in different colors and styles, but she returned with a soft gray tone, something I didn’t think Katie would like at all. “Just try it,” she said, handing it in to Katie.

“What is it?” called Alicia. I could tell by the strain in her voice she was forcing a zipper up.

“It’s gray,” was all Katie said.

“Huh,” said Alicia.

Angelina leaned down. “If you don’t start picking dresses I’m going to make you try on that mustard one.”

I groaned. “Fine.”

“Lou, will you help Jane out? She is under some weird dilusion that dress shopping is hard or scary even though she found beautiful ones for other events.”

“Those weren’t formal!” I said, trying to save myself from humiliation. Didn’t work.

“What colors do you like, Jane?” Lou asked.

“Uh, any? That dress I wore to the other event was a brown cocktail dress. It was really simple.” I shrugged.

“You need something more noticeable,” Alicia shouted. “Lou, find her something dramatic!”

“I think everyone noticed me just fine,” I mumbled.

“Find her drama!” Katie agreed, laughing. “Okay, are you all ready for this one?”

Lou hung back for a minute and Alicia poked her head out, clearly out of breath from the zipper.

Katie emerged and I knew right away. It was obvious she felt like a million Galleons walking toward the mirror. With beading on the top and a drop waist, it was the ritzy she loved with the classy she was. It was perfect and it wasn’t in some bright color. I smiled.

I saw the rest of the girls were wearing the same expression.

“Katie,” Alicia said, awestruck. “That is…wow.”

“I think so too,” she said weakly, turning to see the back of the dress in the mirror. “I haven’t felt like this in so long. Exhilarated, you know?”

Ang hugged her, shopping bag flopping all over the place. “Good. Now buy the damn thing and let’s get Jane into something. She’s being difficult.”

“Wait!” Alicia cried. “Wait, this is so me.”

I glanced over and Alicia was nothing but right. She was in a black dress with a pink waist, extra sewn fabric making patterns all down the dress. It was her.

“So that just leaves Jane?” Ang said.

“You think I should get it?” Alicia’s eyes were wide.

“That just leaves Jane,” Ang repeated, nearly ignoring her. “Everyone spread out! This could get interesting.”

I immediately regretted not picking out random dresses throughout the process of watching them.

 

 

Angelina was right. It did get interesting, considering I was stuffed in the middle dressing room surrounded by wacky colors, ball gowns, and even some patterns. I figured they wanted to break me before they built me up again. Either that or they were completely fashion-challenged.

I thought about Katie with the gray dress. I thought she’d hate it, but it fit her well. She loved it. Maybe I’d find a dress like that. That Oliver would be speechless over. That the Mrs. Wood would approve of. Pfft, yeah right. She wouldn’t approve of me unless I caught the Snitch in record time and was signed to a professional team right out of Hogwarts.

“Try on the black and white one first! Do it.” Alicia sounded impatient.

I grabbed it. I didn’t even make it out of the dressing room. “Why did you pick this waist? I look preggo.”

“I wanted to see what you would look like with a bun in the oven,” Alicia replied. “I could take a picture and show Wood so he’d get freaked out.”

“You’re a horrible person,” I said, tossing the dress over the top of the curtain and going for something in a navy blue.

I walked out, the dress twirling around me. “This is nice,” I said.

“Take it off,” Lou said. “If your response is ‘nice’ then onto the next one.”

This happened several times. They all fit well. They were all pretty dresses, even the ones in bold colors. I just didn’t love them. Did I love any dress in this shop like the other girls loved theirs?

“Who the hell picked out this one?” I was staring at a dress on the bench, very nearly rolling my eyes at it. It had a green bodice with jewels and a black, partially sparkly crinoline bottom, poofing out. “The green and black mess.”

“It’s dramatic!” Alicia cried. “Just try it on and we’ll go find you more simple options.” I heard the disappointment in her voice.

“Whatever,” I mumbled, hoisting the dress up and zipping the back much to my muscles’ disapproval. Without glancing in the room mirror I walked out, expecting laughter. What I got was quite different. Jaws sitting lazily on the floor.

“Jane,” said Lou. “Jane, look at yourself.”

I peeked at the mirror to my right.

Well, holy hell.

I looked like a weird version of a princess. A dramatic, kind of dark princess that looked damn good. It fit me perfectly and the bottom wasn’t too overpowering for the event.

“I…” I mumbled, looking from the girls back to the mirror.

“Bingo,” said Alicia with a giggle. “Ah, I’m so good at this game.”

“Nice pick,” Ang said.

“I think we’re done here,” Katie said cheerfully.

I wanted to stay in that dress forever. I wanted to walk around in it and pretend to do the dishes in it (because I don’t actually do the dishes now that I can do magic outside of school) and watch movies in it. Maybe I’d even play Quidditch in it.

Dramatic, beautiful, and it made me feel amazing. Oliver was going to like this dress.

 

 


We got ready at Katie’s on Saturday since Apparition was our new favorite way to see each other. Mr. and Mrs. Bell were away again doing promotions so we had the place to ourselves with plenty of appetizers to tie us over until the event. We set up camp in the second floor lounge, a place that was overly familiar to all of us, and spread out.

Makeup on the far table, mirrors with lights over them to complete the vanity look. Dresses in garment bags. Undergarments strewn across the sofas. Magical curling irons and straighteners too hot to touch by the door. And music blaring from Sienna Bay. She was at Hogwarts several years before I got there and was a Hufflepuff. Other than that she had a fun, rocky voice.

“Do you lot really think Lee is going to like this?” Alicia asked, motioning to her dress, which was the only one of the four out of the bag. She liked it too much to stop looking at it. “It’s not as sexy as Ang’s or as dramatic as Jane’s.”

“But it’s unique like Leesh,” I said, smiling between globs of lip gloss.

“Who else do you think will be there?” Katie said nonchalantly.

“People,” Ang muttered.

Katie practically growled. “I meant like whom. Oliver wasn’t exactly specific.”

“Well, it’s the Woods’, so I’m guessing very important people in the Quidditch world. Definitely the whole Puddlemere team, maybe people from other teams, and execs from the team. Maybe people from the Puddlemere reserve team.” I layered on the mascara. “Probably other higher-ups that Mr. Wood knows.”

“Do you think idiot stick will be there?” Alicia asked.

“Bridget? Probably.” I dreaded that thought. I could handle Amanda borrowing my clothes or even Bridget running her mouth about the made-up relationship she and Oliver had, but for her to be there made me a little nervous. She had power. Sure, I had the press on my side, as well as several Quidditch stars, but she was sneaky. I hated that. Bleeding wretch.

“I can’t wait to see her,” Alicia said, no doubt remembering what I told her about Bridget cornering me in the ladies room. “She doesn’t want to see me.”

“I feel like I have a body guard,” I said, laughing, checking out my made-up face. It was me, but perfected. I didn’t want to look too different. Then Oliver wouldn’t recognize me. Nah, just perfect.

Onto the hair. I waited for Angelina to finish fighting with the straigtener. She swore it hated her. I swore it didn’t have emotions.

Alicia was the first in her dress and I wasn’t surprised. She was in love with it, Lee be damned. I was fairly certain Lee would love it just as much, if not more. She twirled around the lounge, knocking over a vase of flowers and fixing it lazily with her wand. “Worth it,” she mumbled at Katie’s annoyed face.

Angelina was second to be ready, waving her purse around like a weapon.

Katie kept adjusting her hair, worried it made her face look thicker than it was. “Seriously,” she added. “Does it? It looks different.”

I resisted the urge to mess up her hair. Alicia didn’t.

“Argh!” Katie shrieked, grabbing for the curling iron again.

I had Angelina zip up my dress in front of the mirror. I felt strangely girly. Not that I wasn’t girly before, but whenever I wore something fancy (even that cocktail dress) I felt feminine and strangely powerful.

Bridget didn’t stand a damn chance.

 

 

Whatever I prepared myself for, it wasn’t enough. I even heard Katie let out a gasp beside me as we strolled up to the Wood household. The front was as I remembered it—overwhelming. Now there were people taking jackets at the entrance (it was summer so we went without) and classical music echoing through the home. People were everywhere and I wondered if there were really this many Quidditch execs.

Was this a little much for sponsoring a spot on the Quidditch network? I wasn’t sure. I needed to know more about the Quidditch world.

Ang grabbed my hand and pulled me to the sitting room on the left. “Aha!” she cried, pointing at three familiar faces looking particularly awkward on the white sofa.

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Fred cried, leaping up and throwing himself into Angelina’s arms. Suddenly he stopped and backed away, tongue visible. “Angelina bleeding Johnson,” he breathed.

“You’re a mess,” she replied, poking his tongue back into his mouth.

“I’m supposed to keep my hands off you for this whole thing? How will that even work?” Fred kissed her. “Ah, vanilla! You know how to please your man.”

“Keep it tame, will you?” she said, but smiled all the same, a hint of color on her cheeks.

Lee was already circling Alicia. “I love it,” he said. “Can you wear this every day?”

“Told you he’d like it!” Katie said cheerfully, clearly forgetting George was still awkwardly on the sofa. Then she saw him. And stuffed a piece of hair behind her ear. Just as awkwardly.

George kicked at his feet.

“Jane!” Fred said, kissing Ang and walking over to me. “This dress is so…holy hell…Ang, pull me away, I’ll cheat! I’ll do it!”

I laughed. “You clean up nice too, Freddie.” I winked at him and moved closer to his twin, plopping down on the sofa. “Hey, beautiful,” I said with another wink.

He chuckled. “You look great, Jane.” He wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were on a girl with a gray dress.

“Thanks, dear. You too.” I ruffled his ginger hair. “Hey.” I lowered my voice. “Have fun tonight, okay? Even if it looks like I want to murder Oliver’s parents or Bridget.”

“She’s going to be here?” He glanced over, worried look on his face.

“I’m sure she will be. We just got here so I haven’t seen her yet.”

He made a face. “I’ve got your back, Janey.”

I grinned and went for another ruffle, but he got there first. He pinched my cheeks.

“I should go find my boyfriend,” I said lightly. “Are you lot staying here?”

“Nah,” said Fred. “I’ve been waiting for Ang to get here so I can take her for a spin on the dance floor.”

“To piano music?” Ang asked, taken aback.

“It’ll have a beat once we get a few drinks in us.”

“Oliver is going to have to do so much damage control,” I said with a laugh and set out through the house to try and find the Scotsman. I passed numerous people I’d seen at the fundraiser dinner, most of them moving out of the way for my stellar ball gown, though I did see quite a few others with full dresses. I ducked when I saw Oliver’s mum having a mini toast with who I knew to be the owner of Puddlemere United.

“There you are,” Oliver said, catching me right as I passed the kitchens. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Got here a few minutes ago,” I said, letting out a breath I’d been holding. “Found the boys in the sitting room right off the foyer. Yes, they’re all wearing ties and yes, Fred might go for the rum.”

He laughed. “At least dinner will sober them up.” He winked at me, then moved back, as if finally realizing what I was wearing. Then, without another word, Oliver was dragging me into the large pantry, shoving me back against a wall, and kissing me.
 




A/N: Happy November! Who is getting snow? I think we're nearly there. This chapter fought with me for nearly a month and then I sat down tonight and suddenly it all came together so sorry about the delay! The next chapter should be shorter in terms of wait.


Favorite part? Fave dress (mine is probably Alicia's)? And what do you think is going to go down in the next chapter? 


Up Next: A fashion emergency, there is a balcony, and someone gets kicked.


Chapter 29: Pride, Prejudice, and Pleasantries
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For Pride and Prejudice, which obviously had a lot of say on this chapter. If you haven't seen the 2005 movie, I highly suggest it. Also for Big Bang Theory, which I have watched far too much of while writing this.




I thought moving around in a ball gown would be easier, or at least more graceful, but even though my feet were hidden I still looked like an idiot weaving my way through the crowd. By the time Oliver and I made our way out of the pantry the party was well under way and everyone had been through at least two glasses of champagne.

Six for Fred.

We made our way into the ballroom (Yes, Oliver’s parents’ house had a ballroom) and avoided the eyes of the girls Ellis would have described as Daughters. Their fiery expressions were far too obvious and the way they clutched the stems of their wine glasses told me one thing: Oliver was theirs. In their minds anyway. Oh, yes, in their dreams Oliver Wood hung off their arms and spoke in a voice that suggested he wasn’t just out of Hogwarts, living the dream, and trying not to boss around his own captain.

Oliver chuckled, handing me a glass of red wine and steering me away from Fred and his revival of the Sprinkler.

“Oliver.” Mrs. Wood was perched on the arm of a nearby sofa, her dress long with lace sleeves.

I thought of my mother reading Emma. I thought of so much of that world, picturing Mrs. Wood as the lethal Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice. Obviously different, yet so similar.

“Mother,” he said with tight lips.

Caroline, I thought.

“It is a rather nice turn out, is it not?” Was this seriously the same woman who taught Oliver to make his famous brownies? How could she talk with her teeth barely moving? Part of me was certain it had something to do with Oliver’s guest.

“It is,” he said, glancing around. “A lot of Puddlemere support. I’m certain since we beat the Magpies people are taking us seriously.” Blatant parental stab. Well done, Oliver. He squeezed my hand.

“Yes, I do see that.” Mrs. Wood swirled her drink. “Lovely to see you, Miss Perry.”

“And you.” I tried to smile. Showed a little teeth. Then drank my wine.

“Good that other teams are showing up,” Mrs. Wood said, trying to regain composure since I wasn’t talking about the splendor of the place like Miss Bennett. My name was so ironic in this sense, though Oliver was a bit out of place. I’d call him Charles.

I needed to stop reading before bed.

“I saw Bouchard from the Canadian International team.” Oliver twisted his head. “He’s here with his Quadpot mates even though he plays both. I always thought that was silly.”

“The Harpies are here as well.”

I tried not to choke. Okay, so I was no stranger to famous people. I went out with Liam Denters, I met half of the noted Quidditch writers, as well as danced in the same room as half the players. I had a heart-to-heart with Bastian Ricci and was dating the new rookie Oliver Wood, but I’d never met the Harpies. They were playing an away game in Italy during the fundraiser dinner. I knew because it was the first thing I looked up.

And now they were here. The Hollyhead Harpies. My favorite team.

Twisting my neck to see them hurt so I stopped.

“Are you fond of the Harpies, Miss Perry?”

“I am,” I said quietly. I didn’t want her to tell me that I was unsuited for them so I should just fall off the face of the planet. Not that I wanted to play Quidditch. I didn’t. I was just riffraff.

“They’re Jane’s favorite team.”

Thanks, Oliver. Appreciated.

The songs changed, Fred retreated to the restroom with Angelina giggling in tow, and Alicia forced George onto the floor. She twirled him and Lee pretended to be jealous. All without straight faces. And I was stuck on the sofa with a stiff-backed Oliver and his mother. And the hope of meeting the Harpies. I wondered where they were. If they were being rebels and wearing their robes instead of fancy dresses.

At least she wasn’t calling me riffraff.

“Mrs. Wood!”

Bloody fucking shit.

“Bridget, dear!” Mrs. Wood nearly leapt to her feet to fawn over Bridget, who was making her way over in the most ridiculous dress I’d seen in a while. The top was fitted and lemony yellow, while the bottom was white and looked like a giant wedding cake. It had frills, flowers, and even an assortment of colored feathers. Sick.

“Wonderful to see you—thanks for the invite. Daddy is having a lovely time!” She beamed and kissed Mrs. Wood’s cheek.

I felt like the sneakers of this couture party.

Oliver squeezed my hand again and I remembered the pantry. Beat that, Bridget.

“I’m glad, dear.” Mrs. Wood smiled. “Why haven’t you been dancing? You dance so well.”

She looked like a ferret while dancing, that’s why.

“I’m afraid I’ve come without a date.” If she actually talked like that I was a pickled herring. There was even a slight accent. Not even her regular Welsh, it was more Australian. What the hell, Bridget?

“Oliver would love to dance with you, wouldn’t you, Oliver?”

I choked on my wine. Had I disappeared? Seriously. I checked. Nope. My ballgown was still there—still green and black and a little out of place with the muted colors of this party. Hair was still there. Arms. Fingers. Yep. All there. And so was my bleeding date.

He gave me an annoyed look. A look that meant very clearly he would have to dance with the vixen in order to get his mother off his back. A look that meant he wanted us to bond. Fat chance, Oliver Wood.

With that, with a glance and a nod, Oliver and Bridget (obnoxiously holding hands) swayed onto the dance floor to boogie. As Fred would call it. He still hadn’t come back and I knew the pair were off snogging somewhere I was quite certain they’d be caught in a matter of minutes.

“I know you don’t like Bridget,” Mrs. Wood said softly.

Well, no shit.

“I don’t know anyone that does,” I replied. Hell, if she already didn’t like me I wasn’t going to be someone I wasn’t.

“Neither do I.”

I glanced over. Say what.

“Bridget is a very interesting girl who has her hopes on Oliver suddenly falling in love with her.” She took another sip of her wine. “Unfortunately for her, he has absolutely no interest. There are a magnitude of reasons, mostly due to her throwing herself at him and having no social boundaries, but it’s obviously because his heart is somewhere else.” There was a small shrug. “Bridget’s father is one of our closest friends. He’s a lovely man and puts a great deal of money into Puddlemere. Obviously.”

“I’ve never met him.”

“He wants Bridget to be happy.”

“Okay.”

Mrs. Wood watched them dance. “The pair would make my husband very proud since, well, nevermind, but it would. But it wouldn’t make Oliver happy. And I know that. And I know you know that.”

I sat, frozen, on the sofa, still extremely confused as to what conversation I was having with Mrs. Wood while my boyfriend swayed on the dance floor with Bludgers for Brains Bridget Lilion.

“I just wanted to let you know I’m happy for him. And you. He’s a wonderful boy.”

“I thought you were cutting him off for going to Puddlemere and for dating riffraff and all that rubbish,” I said, not meaning for it to come out as harsh as it was.

“Can you blame me? I don’t talk to my son for weeks and suddenly all of his plans are going out the window, he’s going to a team we never discussed and dating a girl he’d never told us about.” She looked at me down the end of her nose. “That’s a parent’s nightmare! I thought he was going through some rebellious phase.”

I gaped at her. “So you thought he just wanted to defy you by signing with Puddlemere and dating someone that wasn’t either a Quidditch Daughter or someone fabulously gifted at the sport?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“So you thought you’d bring him to his senses in front of said person who wasn’t gifted?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

I groaned. “Bugger.”

“Point is I don’t know what to do. I thought this would make it better—sponsoring a segment on the Quidditch network. It seems not to have done much other than gotten Bridget’s hopes up again.”

“The dancing idea didn’t really help,” I said. “Have you tried talking to him about it? He responds well to communication.” Snarky comeback number two complete.

Bridget kept trying to get closer to him while dancing. Made me want to vomit. Multiple times.

“And I know you’re not bad for Oliver, Jane,” Mrs. Wood said tactfully. “I was wrong and I admit it. I’ve heard you had a meeting with Valerie Gig.”

“It was lunch, yes.”

“Valerie and I go way back. I used to be a Quidditch writer before I met Atticus—that’s how we met actually. Her opinion is very important to me and she’s quite fond of you.”

My insides squirmed. “She is?”

“Yes, she is. I can’t speak for Atticus, but I think she’s right. You’re a wonderful girl and I think we need to get to know you more than we do. Especially if you mean this much to Oliver. If you make him happy, that’s what matters.” It looked difficult for her to say.

I didn’t exactly blame her. My eyes were downcast for most of the conversation, but when I looked up and saw tears in her eyes I knew she meant what she said. Even if it was different than the grand Quidditch wedding she was probably planning for her son.

Speaking of wedded bliss, George was in front of me with an extended hand. “Since Oliver is preoccupied, can I have this dance?” His eyes were glittering.

“Excuse me,” I said to Mrs. Wood, grabbing George’s hand and letting him sweep me onto the dance floor. Part of me was relieved to have a rescuer in the form of a ginger twin, but the other part of me was curious as to where that conversation might have gone.

So Mrs. Wood approved of Oliver and me. She wanted him to be happy and only suggested he dance with Bridget to talk to me alone.

So her vegetables weren’t poison.

George’s smile lit up the room. It always did, but I’d almost forgotten what it looked like. He took my hand, wrapped another around me, and steered me around. He was also the best dancer on the Quidditch team. Fred always described his moves as elegant but the better word was problematic. Oliver could dance however he wanted. His sexy features said so.

“Janey, I had to rescue you from Oliver’s mum,” he said loudly, twirling me around so my dress flared out at the bottom. “Couldn’t let you do that when I could have just asked you to dance!”

“How do I look, George?” I smiled.

“Lovely, as always.” We moved toward the fireplace in a waltz. Something I hadn’t done since I was little. “Jane, is Katie coming to the Burrow?”

“Why? Don’t you hate her guts or something like that? If I tell you no surely then you’ll decide to move out of the Burrow for the summer and hide in some rabbit hole or something?”

He laughed. I missed it. “No, I won’t. I might hide in my bedroom for a while, but not in a rabbit hole. We’re doing tents this year, did Fred tell you?”

“No!” I said, twirling around. “It won’t be like the retreat, will it? No team-builders and laps, right?”

“Unless Angelina decides we need to be a team again.” George ruffled his hair. “It’ll be hot anyway so no freezing rain and locker rooms and no to you wearing Wood’s clothes.”

“Ah, yes, back when denial was a popular option,” I chuckled, remembering the butterflies when I placed my head on Oliver’s stomach. “I hear history is repeating itself.”

“Bugger off.” He was still smiling.

“These tents are going to be large—two tents, I assume.”

“Mum won’t let us have one. She’s too old fashioned. It’s not like Fred and Ang won’t sneak out to have sex anyway. It’s just easier now.”

“Nice topic of conversation at a formal event.” I winked, glancing at Katie out of the corner of my eye. She was swaying to the beat and set of glass of wine delicately on top of a coaster. “George, why don’t you go ask her to dance?”

“Are you joking me? She wants me dead.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re being melodramatic,” I said. “You guys have been friends for years. Sure, you had a fight and broke up or whatever it was that happened, but you’re going to have to deal with each other and you might as well dance it out.”

“Fred didn’t dance it out.”

“Are you Fred?” I narrowed my eyes and he twirled me. “No, Fred came to his senses. You’re a little more stubborn, aren’t you?”

“Jane, you sure know how to talk to a bloke.”

“Don’t make me ask her for you.”

George was about to say something, but his throat made a noise and he stopped. He also stopped dancing, which was a little awkward considering we were in the center of the floor.

“Can I cut in?”

Well, it seemed as if my threat was empty since the small voice of Katie Bell was in my ear. I very nearly leapt away from George. “Oh, yeah, sure.” He was pale and turning a little green. And shaking. It was like he’d only first met my stunningly beautiful friend, Katie Bell.

I chuckled. “And George?”

He looked over as Katie took his hand in hers.

“She’ll be at the Burrow. Start preparing the rabbit hole.”

 

 

 

 

 

“So let me get this straight.” Alicia was ticking things off her fingers. We were in the restroom, which I’d drug her into immediately after watching George and Katie meet adoring eyes on the center of the dance floor. Oliver was still occupied with Bridget when we left and his face told me of his misfortunes. I couldn’t even see his lips. That was the way I liked it.

“So Katie and George are dancing…together? On the dance floor? With each other?” She fixed her hair in the mirror.

“That’s what I said. I was dancing with him and threatening to ask Katie to dance with him if he didn’t and then there she was—right there! And she asked to cut in!”

“Do you think she’s seeing the light?’

“That she was an idiot to break up with lovable George over napkins? No shit.” I laughed, tending to my own flyaway hairs. “And I think he has finally realized he overreacted and was being someone that wasn’t our George.”

“Unfathomable.” Alicia laughed, sticking her pinky out.

I thought about my linking Mrs. Wood to Caroline Bingley. To Oliver being Charles. Was Katie my Elizabeth?

If she was, Alicia could by Lydia. Except she didn’t run off with Bastian. Or should I say, Mr. Dishy Wickham.

I was throwing that book under the bed when I got home.

“Jealousy really isn’t good for you, Jane.” Bridget was leaning against the wall nearest to the door. How much she’d heard, I wasn’t sure.

“Bleeding hell,” Alicia blurted out. “I feel like she goes everywhere we go. Follows you to the loo and everything.”

“On the contrary,” Bridget said, smirking, “I was here first. This is my world, my surroundings. It’s you who don’t belong here.”

“On the contrary,” Alicia said, temper flaring already, “Get a bleeding life. Leave Jane alone and go pine in your room for Oliver. It’s pathetic.”

I put up a hand before Bridget could respond. “What do you want?”

“I want to let you know his parents approve of us. This is destined to happen and you’re just getting in the way.”

“Oh, shocker, something you’ve never said before.” I rolled my eyes. “If that’s it I’m going to finish my makeup and rejoin the party.”

“Didn’t you hear me, scum? I said you’re not welcome here.”

Alicia tensed next to me, but said nothing. I knew her fingers were around her wand already.

So were mine.

Which is why I was ready when a burst of red light went flying at my face. I ducked, leapt behind a sofa, and fired back. “Stupify!” I cried, missing by inches.

“Son of a bitch!” Alicia shouted, hiding around the corner where the toilets were. “What a crazy bitch—Expelliarmus!”

“He has been mine since as long as I can remember!” Bridget shouted, sending another jet of light toward me, this time blue. I head the couch singe.

Now I was Elizabeth Bennett feeling the wrath of—shit! That bitch got my hair.

Confrontation wasn’t my favorite thing in the world. Though I managed to shut down Libby, I let Alicia take on Mandy Brocklehurst. And Bridget was a girl I didn’t want to mess with from day one. From the first day at the Quidditch Cup where she stuck her uncommonly upturned nose into my business by flirting with my boyfriend and starting a downward spiral of our previous relationship.

I thought of that silly red dress, of her treatment of me like I was less important than her because my dad didn’t own a Quidditch team.

Well, I’ll tell you right now, Bridget Lilion, I may have less than you financially, but I’ll always have more than you.

“Jane!” Alicia dove out from behind the wall. “You knocked her out. Holy shit, nice one.”

Chest heaving, I emerged from the close-to-destroyed sofa. Bridget was sprawled out on the ground, hair all over the ground and dress torn.

I glanced down. My own dress, which had stuck out from behind my sanctuary, was also torn. It created a small slip with jagged edges.

“I’ll fix it,” Alicia said, following my gaze. She waved her wand and then snorted. “Oh, seriously, Bridget?”

“Hmm?” I fixed my hair again.

“She cursed it torn. I’m sure she was trying to curse you, but really? Over a boy? Blimey, Quidditch people have more problems than I thought. Well, we can leave it like that or cut it. Your choice.”

“I’m sure everyone would love that.” I made a disgruntled face. “Eugh, really, dress tragedy right after I have a heart-to-heart with Mrs. Wood, Katie and George are looking at each other, and then I have an epic bathroom battle with Bridget bleeding Lilion. What a night.”

“Here.” Alicia waved her wand again and the dress was to my knees. Now I looked less formal, but more me.

Eh. I liked it. If no one else did, well, I had just taken out Bridget. I’d take them out too.

Alicia kicked her in the side for good measure. “That’s what you get for attacking Gryffindors, bitch.” She smirked and we left, arm in arm, to find the rest of our group.

 

 

 

 

 


Oliver’s kiss caught me by surprise as I wove in and out of the crowd trying to find him. “I thought someone had offed you by now.”

“It wasn’t without trying,” I said with a smile. “How was dancing?”

“Miserable, but I’m sure you knew that.” Oliver kissed me again and steered me in the direction of the refreshments. “I saw you dancing with George. He was smiling. That’s a nice change.”

“Did you see who cut in?”

“Bridget was discussing the names of our future children, so no.”

“Katie.”

His eyes widened. “Really?”

“Honestly.” I smiled and kissed his cheek. “This is lovely! With that, your mother approving of me and Bridget unconscious in the bathroom, this day is nearly complete.”

He opened his mouth and then closed it again. A small pause. “I don’t even think I want to know, do I?”

“Not at all.”

“Say.” Oliver was smirking. I knew that smirk. It was the secretive, sexy smirk I fell in love with. “Say, I think there’s someone you should meet.”

“Who might that be?”

“Follow me.” He grabbed my hand and we were sliding through couples and wine glasses toward the ballroom. “By the way, I like the alterations. Less like a ball gown, but it works.” Oliver winked.

Sodding chump. And I loved every second of it.

And then suddenly there she was—chatting it up with a few members of the Falmouth Falcons. The woman in the posters I had at Hogwarts. The woman I looked up to—that I strived to be. I wouldn’t admit it, of course, but following the Harpies really got me into Quidditch. That, Quidditch Weekly, and the hatred of Oliver Wood.

Strike that last part now.

Valmai Morgan was the only one there at the moment, to which Oliver nodded at the bar and I saw several other ladies laughing with drinks in their hands.

My hands were sweating. Valmai was a wicked good Chaser. Even Angelina admired her.

“Ms. Morgan.” Oliver beamed.

“Oliver sodding Wood!” she cried, almost tossing her drink on a Falcon, and threw her arms around him. “I haven’t seen you in ages, mate. Why haven’t you been around to practice? Is it because you’re a big shot now you’ve shut down the shit Magpies?”

“I won’t be a big shot until I’m showing up to fundraisers with a shiny silver cup.” He chuckled. “How’ve you been? Saw the Harpies are undefeated in exhibition games so far.”

“We’re quite a force this year. Called up a new Seeker and she’s a bleeding beast.” Valmai smiled. “Speaking of beastly Seekers.” She nodded to me. “You must be Jane.”

“I dunno if beastly is quite the word for my Snitch catch, but I’ll certainly take credit.” I smiled. Well, I tried to. Nerves always threatened a perfect smile. “Nice to meet you.”

Her hair was a bright near-white blond and her eyes were as green as the Holyhead logo. And as the dress she wore. Coincidence? I think not.

“Oliver told me you want to be a writer and not a player. I’ll be the first one to tell you,” she said with a pause, “that playing is much more fun. The parties are just better. But then again, if you’re still with my favorite Keeper here, you’ll be invited all the same.” Valmai winked, laughing. “You’ll be coming out to some Harpies games this year, right? They’ll be fun since we’re so damn good. Yes, Oliver, that good.”

He narrowed his eyes playfully. “We’ll see when Puddlemere plays the Harpies this year. When I shut down your Quaffle throw. I know your style, Morgan.”

I allowed myself to laugh.

“Oh bugger!” She waved to a player I didn’t recognize and I figured it was the new Seeker. “I’ve got to run. Lovely to meet you, Jane! I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon. I’ll be your first interview when you start to write. I’ll answer the question, how did it feel to wipe the floor with Oliver Wood?” Valmai winked, kissed Oliver’s cheek, and made her way to the bar.

“And today keeps getting better and better.” I beamed, fingers still shaking. I had just met a member of the Holyhead Harpies. My favorite Quidditch team since I defied my father’s love of the Tornadoes as a wee little Hogwarts girl.

“It’s about to get better.”

Our hands were together again and Oliver was dragging me through the crowd (was that Fred with another glass of wine?) until we each had an intake of fresh air on the balcony. There were only two lights out there and one other person who looked to be ill in the corner.

The stars and moon were lighting Oliver’s eyes and I beamed, kissing him lightly on the nose. “It’s beautiful,” I said.

“One day,” he said quietly, leaning over the edge of the balcony, “One day I’m going to marry you, Perry. Plan your life accordingly.”

At first my breath was caught in my throat, but then, smiling like an idiot, I said, “You keep making those brownies, Wood, and we’ll see.”

“Jane.”

I glanced over. “Hmm?”

His eyes were practically dancing. “I have something.”

For a split second I was about to have a panic attack, until out of his jacket he pulled a rectangular box. I couldn’t breathe. He opened it and in the center sat a wonderful silver chain with a glittering red jewel on the end.

“They don’t make red and gold.” He smirked.

“I’m strangely okay with it.” I kissed him, the night air sending chills down my back.

Oliver tossed the box aside and draped the necklace across my collar bone, clasping it in the back. “I am the luckiest guy in the world,” he whispered, kissing me again. “How did I ever land someone beautiful, snarky, and capable of making me so happy and so furious at the same time?”

“Pure luck of course.” I ran my fingers across the thin chain. The wind blew some of Oliver’s hair into his face.

“I love you, Jane.” He wrapped an arm around me and brought my close.

He thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. I was standing on a balcony with a guy who thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. I had friends (although delusional ones) that I loved more than anything, a father that let me get away with anything, and another year at Hogwarts to look forward to. Even for a pessimist, life was looking rather radiant from where I stood on that grand marble balcony, face snuggled into Oliver’s shoulder.

“I have an idea,” I said, remembering the box of chocolates I saw inside.

“What? Snogging out here? I’m in.”

“No, weirdo, it’s a surprise.” I smiled, forced his eyes closed, and retreated inside to grab the box of assorted chocolates. I glanced around, my eyes finding Fred and Angelina busting a move on the dance floor. Katie and George weren’t around and Alicia was reenacting her kicking Bridget in the loo.

The box of chocolates were unattended on the refreshments table. Of course there wasn’t a label telling me which ones would be awful and which ones were good, but Oliver was a guy so I assumed he loved chocolate just like I did. Alicia took it to a whole other level, so I wouldn’t let her see where I was going with her soon-to-be prey.

I was almost out the door when my wrist was snatched by none other than dishy Liam Denters himself. I beamed.

“Liam! I’ve been looking for you tonight, you know.”

He wasn’t smiling. “Jane, I need your help.”

“With what?” I raised a brow. “I’m sort of on a chocolate mission at the moment.”

“How do I ask Michelle to dance with me?”

“Is this a trick question?”

Liam let go and pushed his hair back. “I’m nervous.”

“You’re ridiculous. She fancies you. Just go ask her.”

He shrunk back against the curtains. Oliver was tapping his foot, eyes still closed. “So you’re saying I should just go…ask? Like say, Do you want to dance? That sounds foolish.”

“I bet it won’t seem foolish when she says yes.” I smiled. “I’ll follow up with you soon. I have to go surprise the luckiest bloke in the world.”

Liam glanced behind me and finally smiled. “Have fun. I’ll let you know how it goes. If it goes.”

I kissed his cheek. “She likes you, Liam. Don’t give up. You’re just on a seriously misguided case of hard to get.” I let him go and watched him casually approach Michelle, who was in conversation with Stewart.

“I’m back,” I said cheerfully. “And I have a surprise.”

“Is it that costume again? I could go for that right about now.”

“Perv.” I punched him in the arm. “No, it isn’t. Stop guessing. I want you to open your mouth.”

He made a noise. “This sounds either really hot or really weird.”

“Shut up and open your mouth.” I stared down at the chocolates. Heart-shaped ones, triangles, peculiar squares with lumps. I grabbed for a smooth chocolate in the center, popped it into Oliver’s mouth and hoped it wasn’t those sick cherry ones I hated so much.

“Chocolate!” he exclaimed, a smile instantly forming. He hugged me. “I love chocolate. Where’d you get them?” He looked at the package. “Ah, Mother always buys these. She gives me the ones she doesn’t like. Which did you give me?”

“I dunno. I picked one. Why don’t you tell me?” I said this playfully, but my expression was quickly changed when Oliver knit his brows together.

Then Oliver was choking and I was screaming and the balcony was filled with so many people it hurt to move. Mrs. Wood was yelling and Mr. Wood was grabbing his son and Liam caught me as I fell to my knees, panic finally taking over my body.

 




A/N: Dun dun dunnn. Sorry for the cliffie, but Jane's attention to detail doesn't really do well under pressure. Or panic. Whatever :) I hope you enjoyed it, especially Oliver's wonderful suave and romantic self. I always love him.


What the heck happened to Oliver? And did Katie and George's dance end in smiles or hexes? Most importantly, did anyone go back and kick Bridget again? Hmm. 


Up Next: Panic, late-nights, sleep, and someone carries someone else.

Share your thoughts. xoxo


Chapter 30: Threatened.
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For twilightgirl941 who was my 4,000th review as an author. You are all the most amazing people ever. Thank you all, and thank you, twilightgirl941.






I woke up in St. Mungos. Room four three three. It was white, like all the other hospital rooms I had seen before. I wondered if maybe they would start painting them a soft neutral green or tan one of those days just to ease my mind and give me something else to think about other than healing instruments on two steel tables and Oliver lying motionless on the bed with crisp paper-thin sheets and a hard pillow.

It wasn’t enough that I felt like an idiot. Nope, I also kept getting curiously angry glances from Oliver’s parents. They were on two hard plastic chairs by the door. Mr. Wood was reading The Daily Prophet while he tapped his foot against the leg of the chair. Mrs. Wood was shuffling through her purse like there were things yet to be discovered at the bottom. There weren’t. She put lip stick on four times.

The Healer said it was potion that had Oliver stunned. “Must’ve been inside the chocolate,” he explained, checking his chart. “Any idea why?”

I told them, my face red with embarrassment, that I had rushed over to the chocolates to give him a surprise. Since he gave me the necklace (Mrs. Wood scoffed. Apparently she was no longer on my side). At that point, in silence, I peeled the small box out of my bag and showed them to the Healer. The lid fell off.

It said, To Jane on the cover, written in a tiny scrawl.

“What are you trying to pull?” Mr. Wood said suddenly.

My eyes were wider than his as I looked down at it. Finally I grabbed it. I didn’t recognize the handwriting and it certainly wasn’t Oliver’s. But had I seen the cover—had I looked at it—I would have assumed they were from Oliver. I would have eaten one.

That was last night. The chocolates were in the lab now being tested and Oliver was still unconscious. They were for me. I was supposed to be the one in that bed. Oliver would have been where I was. The girls, Fred, George, and Lee would have been right outside. Oliver’s parents would be tucked in snug in their large house.

Instead I had to stay quiet so I wouldn’t get a sideways glance of accusation that I poisoned by boyfriend. I fought the urge to roll my eyes at the thought.

The only questioned remained was who had done it? My mind went straight to Bridget. But even she wouldn’t be that painfully obvious, would she? I couldn’t think of anyone else there that would have a grudge against me. Or at least a grudge so bad that they would make poisonous chocolates for me to taste test. And set them up like that. Like they were from Oliver.

I had sent everyone else home early that morning, somewhere around two when Katie was snuggled up in a chair snoring softly. George lifted her into his arms and carried her out. I wanted her to wake up, but I figured Angelina would owl me if she did. Or George would be bloody in St. Mungos with Oliver. I hadn’t heard from any of them, but I figured they were probably safely in bed dreaming about Fred’s outrageous drunken antics of the previous night or bubble gum. Or something else.

I also sent Dad a message right after they left to tell him I was safe at St. Mungos clawing my eyes out every time I heard Mr. Wood mutter under his breath about the chocolates.

Hopefully he wasn’t as worried as I was. Oliver hadn’t moved in hours. Well, he could have moved while I was asleep, but probably not. He didn’t look any different. Eyes still closed delicately. Breathing softly in and out, chest rising and falling against the scratchy sheets. Not noticing how my fingers shook just thinking about whether or not he was going to wake up.

What if he woke up and didn’t recognize me?

I shook the idea from my head. The Healer already said he was going to be okay after a while. He wasn’t dead. I wasn’t dead. And Mr. and Mrs. Wood couldn’t blame me for the death of their gorgeous Quidditch player son.

The problem? He was going to miss practice for a few days.

I guessed it would be a bigger problem if he had to miss a game or something, so I tried to be positive. Sort of difficult being positive when one had an unconscious boyfriend in the hospital in front of her, but hey, I tried.

“Jane?” A Healer stuck her head in the door. “Letter for you, dear.” She held out a thick envelope and I grabbed it from her. Mrs. Wood raised a brow suggesting that this was not the time for letters. I thought it wasn’t the time for her expensive designer purse, but hey.

Jane-

Is Oliver ok? I know you said it was hexed chocolates, but do you know who would have done it? Seems weird to me. Fishy. I can’t wait to have you home where I know you’re ok. Keep me posted.

Love, Dad

I sighed, but my lips curled into a natural smile. Dad was worried about me, as he always was. But his guess was as good as mine unless Libby sent the chocolates over to kill me off. I grabbed the second slip of parchment. My eyes widened.

Jane-

I’m writing again because I want to know what’s going on in your life. Heard about all the fundraiser stuff. You’ve been quoted in a couple magazines, did you know? I smiled. Madeline and I are official even though we don’t get to see each other as much as I would like. Maybe someone on my team will get hurt and she’ll get called up. What’s it like seeing a teammate? Hard work? Or too much sexual tension?

I hope I’ve made you blush. It was my intention.

Are you preparing for another year at Hogwarts? I’m happy to say I don’t have to go back, but it’ll be strange not being on the Hogwarts Express on September first. I guess I won’t be able to find you wandering the halls at some strange time of night and sweet talk you into tea. I’m glad that happened, you know. All of it. Because now we’re friends and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Okay, maybe there are a few things I would, but don’t take it personally. I’m a sucker for a chocolate frog.

That one was supposed to make you laugh.

I hate not hanging out with you and seeing your reactions. Lunch soon?

Update me on your life, Jane Perry. I miss it.

Roger.

I laughed loudly and both of Oliver’s parents looked up. Roger had gotten his blush and his laugh. I was certain he’d be content with that. And I did hope we could have lunch soon so I could explain all about the dinner party, the chocolates, and how Katie was in danger of having George fall more in love with her than ever.

Soon. I hoped.

Oliver still wasn’t moving and I was quickly running out of things to do. I glanced down and there was one more slip of parchment in the envelope. I raised a brow.

Jane-

Hey. Is Oliver okay? I can’t sleep so I’m writing to you in hopes that you’ll write me back and tell me you’ve already gotten married and are currently living happily ever after. If not, just let me know what’s going on. After we left we all decided to go to Katie’s because it was the easiest to get to with the most space. I think Ang wanted everyone to be together. Don’t blame her since she’s still trying to get Katie and George to snog each other’s faces off. It didn’t happen, by the way. George put Katie in her bed, where she started snoring loudly (we made fun of her for around fifteen minutes and Fred’s impressions are spot on). After that we all sat in the lounge talking about … well, the whole evening. I’m sure you know what we were talking about. The only person we can think of is Bridget. Did you want me to take her out again? I am totally up for it.

So anyway tell me about Oliver. We’re all worried for him and we’re staying at Katie’s today. I’m fairly certain poor George is going to have a panic attack one of these days.

Alicia

I stood up, dusting nothing off my dress. I needed something to do with my hands. I grabbed the three letters and walked out of the room. The hallway was just as bright with a few Healers passing. More than when we entered. A few of them nodded to me. I looked like a fucking walk of shame in a shortened ball gown, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Dad could have owled me some clothes.

I made my way down the hall, heels clicking softly as I walked. The portraits were staring at me. I found the refreshments area where there were hot muffins and tea. I paid for a cup of tea and a slice of cinnamon cake. My stomach felt like it couldn’t handle food, but I knew Oliver would give me a lecture if he knew I hadn’t eaten. I should have given him a lecture about the lack of food in his flat for all that time, git.

I sat down and pulled a self-inking quill out of my bag along with some slips of parchment.

I told Dad what the Healers had said about Oliver. That he was going to be okay. That I had no bleeding idea who had hexed the chocolate. That I would be home safe soon. There was no need for him to worry more than he would be already.

Roger’s letter was shorter. I explained why I was in the hospital and that I wanted to see him for lunch as soon as possible, at his earliest convenience. Truth was, I missed Roger dearly. I had taken for granted all the times he made me laugh and helped me realize things on my own—even things about Oliver. Hopefully I could give him a hug soon and tell him to just propose to Madeline. Just to watch his eyes bug out of course.

Alicia-

Oliver still hasn’t woken up. His parents are making me crazy. Like it’s my fault. Apparently it is because the box said for Jane. That’s me. It’s rubbish, by the way. I just got a pseudo-blessing from Mrs. Wood and now she thinks I’ve gone and killed her son. Very inconvenient, by the way.

I’m waiting for him to wake up, so I’m wonderfully comfortable in my ball gown and heels. Maybe I should have just worn a different dress. I’ll plan ahead for unspeakable events in the future.

I’m glad you’re all together. That way I don’t have to worry about you lot. Not that there is someone around the corner ready to off you, but I feel nervous about those chocolates. Burrow soon, though! Hopefully Oliver makes it out okay so he can join us. But I might have to pass if he needs attention. He did almost die. Well, he was almost paralyzed. He wouldn’t have died. I hope.

Alicia, I’m going fucking crazy in this place. I hope he wakes up soon.

In the mean time, please find mistletoe to use on Katie and George. It worked for me.

All my heart, Jane

I stuffed all three letters into the outgoing box and sauntered with my untouched cake and tea back down to the room. I knew immediately something had happened because the newspaper was strewn about the ground and Oliver’s parents were standing on either side of the bed.

“Jane.”

It was Oliver. His eyes were lazily half-opened and his face was drained of color, but he had said it. I almost burst into very un-Jane-like tears. I practically chucked the cake at the chair, set the tea down and rushed over there. Mrs. Wood’s look be damned.

“Oliver!” I cried. “Oliver, how do you feel?” Don’t look at me like that, Atticus. Mean.

“I’ve been better,” he mumbled, words a little slurred. He looked like he was trying to lift his hand but couldn’t quite manage it. “What happened?”

“You’re awake!” A Healer appeared at the door just in time to ruin my moment and motioned a few more in as well. I was shoved to the side, back to my wonderfully comfortable white plastic chair. I took a bitter bite of the cake.

They did a bunch of motion tests on him. Following fingers. Wiggling toes. I was bored, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. He met my gaze a few times, brown eyes twinkling. I was terribly worried and here he was practically laughing at me. One of the Healers explained my tale of the events, as well as what happened when he got there. Then one added the part about my name being on the box. Oliver’s jaw very nearly scraped the floor.

“Jane’s?” he said quietly. “That’s impossible.” Oliver looked around one of the Healers to me, obviously regaining enough strength to be annoyingly curious. “Where’d you get them?”

“The table with all the other food,” I explained quietly. I felt ashamed. It should have been me that ate them. Since when did I become so self-sacrificing?

Since I fell in love, I reminded myself.

Oliver thought for a moment, leaning back into the pillows. “There weren’t any other Jane’s at the party,” he said thoughtfully. “I should know. I approved the guest list, even if it was reluctantly done.”

Mr. Wood scoffed.

“We’ll figure it out,” Oliver mumbled. “So when can I get out of here?”

“Technically,” one of the Healers said with raised brows, “we can release you today since it should be out of your system. Lucky we got you here in time. It could have been much worse. But we’d like you to stay overnight just in case.”

“No,” Oliver said stubbornly. “I’m going home.”

“Oliver,” Mrs. Wood said airily. “Don’t you think you should stay just to be sure?”

“I’m going home.”

“Who’s going to look after you?” she said in a worried tone.

“Jane,” Oliver replied. “Unless she poisoned me and then it’s probably not a good idea. I can’t see her poisoning me after getting that necklace though. It fits her well. Maybe if I gave her a bracelet…bracelets are horrible for relationships.” He smirked at me.

“This is not a joking matter,” Mrs. Wood said sternly.

“I’m going home,” Oliver said simply. “Jane’s going to help me and then I’m going to be fine. After that we’re going to find out who did this and I’m going to play my opening night game. And win.” He stretched. “Can I leave now? I’m a little impatient.”

I couldn’t hide my smile. The Healers exchanged nervous glances.

“If that’s what you want,” one of them said. She had blond hair tucked into a hat. “But if you feel even the least bit poorly we want you back here immediately. You should be fine from our tests, but you never know.”

“I’ll be back if I start to feel poisoned,” Oliver said, swinging his legs over the bed. He was still wearing his dress pants, but his button-up shirt was on the table beside him. He grabbed it, pulling it on as I watched. He may have just been poisoned but that didn’t make him any less delicious.

“We’ll be at home,” Mrs. Wood said, getting to her feet and gathering up the purse she knew the entire contents of. “Owl us if you need anything. Company. Help.” She looked at me, but not in a harsh way.

“Thanks, Mum,” Oliver mumbled, finishing buttoning his shirt and grabbing his cloak. “I’ll let you know if I need anything.”

She walked over and gave Oliver a hug. Mr. Wood nodded from the door. They left in silence.

The Healers followed.

“What? You think I’m still poisoned? It’s not contagious, why are you all the way over there?”

I beamed, throwing the cake and rushing over to him, throwing my arms around his neck. He winced a little. “Sorry!” I said. “Couldn’t help it.”

Oliver brushed his lips against my cheek. “Don’t say you’re sorry. I liked it.” He squeezed me around the middle and let out a light sigh. “Okay, so I don’t exactly feel a hundred percent, but I wanted to get the hell out of here. This place is already creepy. What time is it?”

“Around ten,” I said quietly, glancing around.

“Where did you sleep?” he asked, concerned.

I pointed to the chair sheepishly.

Oliver frowned at me. “You didn’t need to stay.”

“Are you trying to say you wouldn’t?” I raised an amused brow. “Because I know you would have slept on the floor if I was in here. Which I should have been.”

Oliver stood up shakily and snaked an arm around my waist. “Why would you say that?”

“My name was on the chocolates,” I replied simply, bending down to get my bag and cloak. I left the cake on the floor. It wasn’t very good. “Clearly they were meant for me to find and eat.”

“Thank Merlin you didn’t eat them then,” Oliver breathed, pushing the door open. I still hated that hallway. “I would have been worried sick.”

“Similar to how I was,” I mumbled. People were almost pushing past at that moment and it was clear the weekend was a busy time for St. Mungos. “It’s still such a blur to me. I had seen them just lying there. I thought you’d like one. It was like a flash and suddenly everything was different.”

Oliver squeezed his fingers on my hip. “Hey. Stop thinking about it. I’m completely fine. Look.” He raised a brow and patted his chest with his free hand. “See? Just fine.”

“Everyone went to Katie’s,” I explained, happy to change the subject away from the guilt I felt.

“Everyone?” Oliver’s tone rose, a smirk playfully appearing on his lips.

“George too,” I said quietly.

“Well then let’s go.”

My brows knit together. “Oliver, you shouldn’t be traveling. Let alone to Katie’s. We should get you into bed with some hot soup.”

“I’m not sick, Jane, I’ve been poisoned.”

I groaned. “Shut up. I’m in charge of you, git.” I shoved him playfully as we left through the front entrance, appearing on the less than crowded street.

“Don’t you think the girls would like a reason to fuss over me?” he asked in amusement.

“I mean, they would, but Oliver, do you really think it’s a good idea? Aren’t we supposed to go to the Burrow soon? And I have to go home and see Dad before that. And I’ve told Roger we can have lunch since he’s official with Madeline now.” I added the last part just to ease his thoughts.

“You have quite the to-do list,” Oliver said with a slight smile. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s go to Katie’s. You leave me there with them for the day and you head home, change your damn clothes, and see Davies. How does that sound?”

I couldn’t decide how it sounded. I wanted to spend the day with him since he was sick. Or poisoned. Whatever. But at the same time I did want to change my clothes, take a hot shower, and assure Dad that I wasn’t going to be offed walking down the streets of London.

“Okay,” I said lightly. “But only after I make sure you’re totally fine at Katie’s and they’re not going to abandon you for a game of Quidditch.”

Oliver rolled his eyes, but kissed me all the same.

 


Katie shrieked when she opened the door, pulling us inside with such force I reminded myself how she had quite the left arm. She was a Chaser for a reason. “They’re here!” she cried and Fred’s face appeared into the hallway. “Come on—come sit down. How are you, Oliver? Do you need something? Tea? Muffin?”

Oliver followed her into the living room where Katie forced him to lay down on the sofa. He gave me an I-told-you-so look as he smirked. “A glass of water with lemon would be wonderful. Thanks, Katie.”

She shuffled off into the kitchen and the questions began.

“I just got your express letter,” Alicia said as Fred and George asked what it was like to be poisoned. “I’m glad everything is okay. And I’m glad you got out of there before there was a murder.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

“You and me both,” I mumbled, kicking off my heels. “So much for Mrs. Wood’s blessing.”

“Apparently,” Alicia said lightly. Ang appeared at her shoulder. They were both wearing Katie’s clothes. “How long are you staying? I wasn’t sure if I should stay for the day or leave, but now since Oliver’s here…”

“Actually I think he wants to stay for the day while I run home,” I explained, feeling a little guilty.

“Katie would love that,” Angelina said. “She’s been trying to take care of everyone all day. There are only so many times I can wash my face with this new organic crap or put my feet up. She wants to play den mother apparently.”

“Good. Oliver loves being the center of attention,” I said with a chuckle. “Any more developments?” I nodded toward George.

“Couldn’t find the mistletoe,” Alicia said with a smirk. “It’ll happen though. With the way he was carrying her last night. It’ll happen.”

“I hope so. I’m getting impatient.” I held my cloak tighter around me. “I’m going to rush off then, okay? Take care of him. I have to go see Dad and have lunch with Roger.”

“Dodger?” Alicia asked. “What’s he up to? Does he want to go dress shopping again?”

“He’s official with Madeline,” I offered. “That’s about as much as I know. And he misses me.”

“Ooh!” Angelina said with a wink.

“Shut up. You know it’s not like that.”

“I just love getting a rise out of you,” she said and wandered over to Fred, slapping him hard on the ass.

I rolled my eyes. “Make sure he doesn’t milk up the attention too much. He is known to do that,” I said to Alicia and wandered over to Oliver, interrupting him explaining how the chocolate obstructed his air and all that. I kissed him.

“Just like Jane obstructs his air,” Fred mumbled.

“Shut it,” I said against Oliver’s lips. “Be good.”

His eyes twinkled. “Go have fun. Tell your dad I say hello. And tell Amanda to stay away from your skirts. I like them far too much.”

I ruffled his hair and turned to walk away, bouncing my hips in a way that suggested I enjoyed all of his reactions to my skirts.

 

 

“Is he okay?” That was the first thing my dad said when I opened the door, hair messy and still in my silly ball gown. He looked like he hadn’t slept, sitting on the sofa was a paper and the Quidditch Network replaying a few exhibition games. There was takeout Chinese on the table beside him.

“As far as I know,” I explained, throwing my bag on the table and sinking into the cushions. “He’s at Katie’s right now and she’s spoiling him rotten.”

“Good to know,” he said thoughtfully, letting out a refreshing burst of air it had been clearly holding in. “So that’s it then? He was poisoned by an unknown someone and he’s okay?”

“As far as I know,” I repeated. “We’re going to try and figure out who did it and I know since he’s a Quidditch big-shot the Ministry is working on tracking the chocolates so hopefully they come up with something. Otherwise I’ll just be thankful it wasn’t me.”

“I wouldn’t let you out of the house ever again.”

“Yeah right,” I said with a smile. “I’d just give you the big brown eyes and you’d cave.”

Dad groaned. “Every bleeding time.”

“Where’s Lou today?” I asked quietly, hoisting myself up off the couch. The shower was calling.

“At home with Amanda,” he replied. “I think she knew I was worried about you and wanted to give me space. I’m happy the shopping trip went well.”

“Yes, well, I can definitely tolerate her,” I said with a warm smile. I was about to disappear down the hallway, when I turned back. “This is pretty serious.”

“I know. I was worried.”

“Not me!” I argued. “You. And Lou.”

He raised a brow. “I guess it’s serious. Sort of.”

“Dad, when are you going to tell her?”

For being dense and emotional, he knew exactly what I was talking about. “I dunno,” he mumbled nervously, scratching behind his ears. “I’m scared to. It’s going too perfectly, you know?”

“Exactly,” I said, moving toward him again. “Too perfectly because she doesn’t know everything about you. About us. She doesn’t even know about your biggest hobby! You can’t have a relationship based on lies, Dad. Tell her soon.”

He groaned, kicking his feet up on the couch. “Bugger on you,” he said. “Take a shower. You smell.”

I tossed a pillow at him, laughing, and left to the bathroom.

 


Roger agreed to meet me down the street at a small café. I had been there once for coffee, but hadn’t eaten there and it sounded perfect. He was waiting outside in the sun wearing a collared polo shirt, his hands stuffed anxiously in his pockets.

“Dodger!” I cried, laughing, hugging him from behind to surprise him.

“Scare the bleeding shit out of me why don’t you,” he said with a chuckle, turning around and hugging me properly. “How’s Wood? Is he okay? I was worried after your letter today.”

“He’s all right,” I said, explaining about his God-like status at Katie’s.

“I’m glad,” Roger said, laughing as he opened the door for me. “I knew his parents were hosting a dinner party but I had no idea it was last night. Madeline mentioned something about seeing it in Quidditch Weekly. Which your picture has been in a couple times.”

“Yeah, Dad cuts them out,” I murmured in humiliation. “I’d like to get in there for talent, though, and not because I’m Oliver’s daring girlfriend, Jane Perry, girl who caught the Snitch at the Cup game.”

“You give yourself less credit than you deserve,” Roger said as a waitress sat us. He ordered a water and I opted for tea. “I think you’re ridiculously talented. I wish you’d consider signing onto a team.”

“It’s not for me,” I repeated. “I want to write about it. And I am going to.”

“Especially with Valerie Gig in your pocket,” Roger said with a smirk. “Still can’t believe that. You might be the luckiest girl in Quidditch.”

“I like to count my stars,” I said with a matching smile. “Tell me about Madeline, though. Let’s shut up about me. I hear enough about myself from Dad.”

“What do you want to know?” Roger was blushing like crazy.

“Everything. Dish it, Dodger.”

And so he did. Roger told me all about Madeline’s background, her wealthy upbringing, even her need to not cut her hair until she was in school. She was soft spoken in public and a charmer, getting raises from the team and getting the best brooms. But she was fierce and had a crazy temper to match Roger’s calmness. They were a match made in heaven according to the redness on his cheeks and ears. He couldn’t even meet my eyes when he talked about first kissing her in his locker room when she came to visit on his invitation.

“Fell back into my locker,” Roger muttered, “but we didn’t stop.”

He explained all about her fascination with national teams and how she was shocked to know he hadn’t gotten along with Oliver Wood. “He seems so lovely she said to me,” Roger said with a laugh. “Told her about you too.”

I raised a brow.

“Don’t worry, none of the raunchy details.”

“Did we even have raunchy details?”

Roger cocked a brow.

“Nevermind,” I said blushing, remembering some of those humiliating details. “Go on.”

“I told her about our past, how it didn’t work out, but how amazing of a person you are. And guess what, Jane? She didn’t seem to mind. She actually wanted to see you again. Said you sounded lovely. Just like she said about Wood. Maybe I should have said some negative things about you so she’d at least feel a little threatened.” He laughed loudly.

My small sandwich came with chips on the side and a pickle. “Any woman should feel threatened when I’m around,” I said, thinking.

Was Bridget threatened? Of course she was, but was that why she did it? Did she even do it? Was I really that big of a threat—did someone want Oliver that bad?

“I’m sure they do,” Roger replied with a chuckle, taking a bite of his grilled chicken salad with croutons. “Well, you remember both Mandy and that annoying Libby girl.”

I wondered if Libby poisoned the chocolates from a distance.

“You’re being quiet,” Roger ventured. “I’ve been talking about Madeline too much. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, no! No, honestly. I want to hear even more. I just got lost in thought about the chocolates is all. Wondering if that might play a part.”

“What?” he asked. “Libby?”

“A woman,” I replied somberly. “Someone threatened by me.”

He placed a finger to his lips, thinking. “Was there anyone there you’d think wanted Oliver?”

“Well, Bridget,” I mumbled. “Other than that there were tons of people there. Any one of them could have hated me for being with Oliver.”

Roger frowned and put a hand on mind, squeezing it. “You’ll figure it out. And if you don’t, the Ministry will. They get paid to do all that nonsense.” He took another bite of his salad, removing his hand and tilting his head. “Don’t let it bother you too much, Jane.”

“I’m trying. It’s just a scary thought.”

Roger offered me a homey smile. “Let’s talk about Oliver.” I couldn’t remember the last time Roger called him Oliver. “Tell me about how all that is going. What happened at the party before he got poisoned?”

I fingered the necklace over my t-shirt. Then I allowed a smirk to crawl up my lips, releasing the information I have craved telling someone before all the drama started.

 


Oliver’s brief owl told me everyone had left Katie’s around seven that night. Fred and George went to make the Burrow half-way livable before the rest of us got there. Ang and Alicia left to pack, Lee following. Katie was trying to take care of Oliver and even asked his opinion on clothes.

My wrinkled expression said it all, Oliver wrote.

He left shortly after nine, promising Katie that he would be just fine and returned to his own flat to pack.

I opened my bedroom door and stared around. The Burrow was an annual tradition, the same for Katie’s. We always did the same things, and always different things. We always went swimming, so I tossed my bathing suit in. Always stayed up late by the fire, so I tossed in a sweater and jeans. Before this summer, there had been little to no romance at the Burrow. Oliver was never there since he was just the captain and I still loathed him. Fred and Angelina were the only ones almost-dating at that point, the sexual tension between them absurd and that was an understatement.

Now with the pair of them barely unattaching themselves from each other’s faces and Lee and Alica not far behind, it will be an entirely different experience. Then there are Oliver and I and I’d like to think we don’t flirt to the point of PDA, but I can’t hold myself back when he takes his shirt off. It’s something I’m sure the girls would understand.

But Katie and George. It’ll be awkward.

Hopefully awkward enough to push them into a conversation, quick snog, and a shotgun wedding. Okay, maybe not that, but it could be amusing.

I grabbed an extra bathing suit just in case. Last summer Fred got a hold of Alicia’s string top and ripped it clear off, exposing her to the entire shoreline which included Lee, but also Fred’s brothers and now scarred younger sister. At least most of them wouldn’t be there. Fred mentioned some of them would be abroad on a trip with their father.

Good. They didn’t need any more wide-eyes at Alicia’s breasts.

I stuffed in another sweater in case George pushed me in the water at midnight again. A set of closed-toed shoes for random forest hikes.

“You almost packed?” Dad peeked his head through the door. “Amanda and Lou are here.”

I stuffed by wand in my back pocket and threw my Potions book I was using for a plate under the bed. “Here for what?”

“To visit,” Dad explained. He raised a brow. “Looks like you’re going back to Hogwarts. You really need to pack that much?”

“Thanks for the concern, but I learned the hard way to pack more than is necessary because Fred and George will make sure some of your clothes don’t make it out alive.” I chuckled and followed him out to say hello, though my jaw was clenched at the thought of Amanda.

“Jane!” Lou said, drawing me into a very affectionate hug. “How did the dress go over? Did Oliver like it?”

“Everyone really loved it—and all the other dresses.” I smiled. “Thanks for helping us out, Lou. I really appreciate it.”

“It was my pleasure,” she replied, her face a little flushed. “I was glad to help and even gladder you invited me.” She moved her fingers nervously along the threads poking out of her shirt sleeves.

“I had a great time.” I disappeared into the kitchen for a moment for a glass of water and Amanda tailed me in there.

“You’re still with Oliver then?” she asked innocently.

I narrowed my eyes. “Yes. He’s my boyfriend.”

“So Roger is available?” she ventured.

“No. He has a girlfriend. Her name is Madeline.”

“Like that little French girl?”

I groaned. “Back off, Amanda. Those are my friends.”

She huffed. “Well, Jane, you’re going to have to share some time. You can’t keep them all to yourself.” Amanda folded her stubby arms. “And I don’t appreciate your selfishness.”

“You make me crazy,” I said, pushing past her and walking back into the living room with my water. I put on a smile. How could someone like Lou come with a package like Amanda?

“Your friends, though, I don’t care for them as much,” Amanda said, following me. “Not as cool as you are.”

“First I’m selfish, then I’m cool.” I rolled my eyes. “I have to finish packing.”

“Need help?” Amanda said excitedly. Lou glanced over and had a warm smile.

Fuck. I was stuck.

“If you want to come in there, fine, but I’m almost finished so I won’t need any help actually packing.” I tried to be as nice as possible. I even smiled. When I wanted to punch her in the fake tan face.

She followed me in silence.

“Where are you going?” she asked, hopping up onto my bed.

“To a friend’s,” I replied, trying to decide between the jean skirt or the soft suede one.

“Which friend?”

“Fred and George. They’re twins.”

“Are they cute?”

“They have girlfriends.”

“You could teach me how to break people up,” Amanda said hopefully.

“Their girlfriends happen to be two of my best friends so that won’t happen.” I stopped looking in my wardrobe and glanced over. “Why are you so obsessed with having a boyfriend?”

“I’m bored,” Amanda said with a shrug. “All of my friends have boyfriends that they spend time with. I don’t.”

“So get a hobby,” I said. “You don’t need a guy to take up your time. Why don’t you do something productive?”

“Like what, write a bestselling novel?” It was Amanda’s turn to roll her eyes.

“Something other than letting a guy define your time.” I narrowed my eyes.

“Sounds nice from the girl spending all her time with Oliver.”

I threw my hands in the air. “You guess way too much, Amanda. Oliver and I do not spend much time together and I cherish the time we do have. Why am I telling you this? You can think what you want. I’m not helping you get a boyfriend so you can use him for his time and make him some trophy on your shelf of fucked-up-ness.”

Amanda’s jaw went a little lopsided. Maybe I had gotten through to her.

“I’m going to visit you in America,” she said. “I know there are boys just looking for sex there.”

I threw a pillow at her.
 





A/N: Hey everyone! Happy 2011! I hope you all enjoyed that Oliver is not, in fact, dead. It was a close call. Well, not really I couldn't kill off my favorite Quidditch Captain.


Thoughts about who poisoned Oliver? About Katie and George? About Amanda? And most importantly, what the heck is going to happen at the Burrow? 


Up Next: The Burrow. Some serious talking. And GeoKat is forced to talk.


Chapter 31: Matchy-Matchy Mismatches
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For all of you who thought outside of the box. And for Valerian, for the Bridget Jones review.




I wasn’t the first one to arrive at the Burrow. Though I finished packing before I thought I would and even skipped breakfast, Angelina was stuffing her face with cereal before I arrived. I shouldn’t have been surprised since she was making eyes at Fred across the table, but I did frown.

“Janey!” George cried, pulling me inside and grabbing my bag. “How was your date with Dodger?”

I rolled my eyes, smacking him lightly on the shoulder. “Shut up.”

“Did he tell you all about Madeline?” Angelina asked, snaking her head around the corner to see me in the hall. “What’s up with the pair of them? Did they do it yet?”

“Now why would he tell me that?” I muttered, meandering into the kitchen and taking a seat in a small wooden chair next to her. It was a small room, but there were books, utensils, and family photos everywhere. “But yes, he did tell me all about her. Her past, her Quidditch skills. Apparently Roger is just falling in love, though he didn’t admit it to me.”

“Good,” she said. “He deserves it. After losing you what was he supposed to do?”

I grabbed her spoon and hit her nose with it. “If you guys are already this annoying I might as well bail now.”

“And not wait until Oliver gets here?” Angelina stole her spoon back and continued eating. “You said something about practice, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. It’s his first day back today since he was in the hospital.” I leaned back a little in the chair. “I hope it goes well, though he seems fine now.”

“Especially after Katie waiting on him hand and foot,” Fred added. “Wish she did that for me. I could have used a foot massage.”

My eyes snapped up. “She gave Oliver a foot massage?”

“And a back rub!” he noted.

“Blimey,” I murmured. “She needs to get a pet or something.” I thought about George, but he didn’t reply. He was busying himself with the dishes, putting them away in cupboards, something I was fairly certain he didn’t usually do. “So where’s Mrs. Weasley?” I asked, happy to change the subject from my boyfriend getting spoiled foot massages from my best mate.

“She’s out shopping,” Fred replied lightly. “Apparently we need new shutters for the upstairs windows and seeds for the back garden. Sounds like work to me.”

“For you,” Angelina corrected tartly.

Fred took her cereal bowl and started eating from it bitterly, but with a smile planted on his freckled face. “When’s everyone else getting here? I’m bored.” He took another bite. “It’s warm today. We can swim.”

“You’re addicted to swimming,” I pointed out. “But I’m in. I brought two bathing suits.”

“Because of last year?” Ang said. “Yeah, me too.”

“Then let’s go,” Fred whined. “I’ll leave a note on the door and they can meet us out back.”

I stood up and stretched wildly. “You’re so impatient. Fine.” I grabbed my bag from the floor. “I guess we can go change.”

Fred beamed, leaping up and spilling milk all down his front. “Cheers!” he cried.

__

 


The girls were staying in a spare shed outside, which was transformed every summer into a cozy cottage. Mrs. Weasley even put in plumbing for us, which was a blessing from the rain. It was toward the back of the garden at the edge of the nearby forest. Inside were four twin beds, bunked on either side of the room. In the middle was a small sofa with a few extra blankets and a warm fireplace in the back, flanked by windows.

The only bad part now, was that it separated us from the delicious guys our lips were so frequently glued to. Well, except Katie. But she would realize that soon enough.

“How do you like the new one?” Angelina asked, modeling in front of a full length mirror. She wore a sunshine yellow bikini with small white polka dots. Her bags were on the bottom bunk across the room. We were partial to the bottom bunks, mostly because I was terrified of falling off in the middle of the night and she regularly snuck out to snog Fred by the pond.

“I’m a fan,” I said, tilting my head to the side. It really did look fantastic on her. I put on a solid black bikini top and boyshort bottoms. I liked the way they made my hips look.

“Swimming without me!” Alicia Spinnet threw the door to the small cottage open, a red striped bag in her hands, large sunglasses surrounding her hidden eyes.

“Should have shown up early,” Angelina said, switching her weight to her other leg to extend her hips in the mirror.

“To watch you and Fred suck face? Pass.” Alicia tossed her stuff on the sofa, throwing an extra pillow on the bunk above mine. She unzipped her bright bag and pulled out a purple top. “I think this year I’ll finally beat George in laps. He’s looking weaker. Perfect time to strike.”

Angelina snorted. “You’re ridiculous. George beats you by a mile every time.”

“Not this year,” argued Alicia, stripping off her top and tying on the bathing suit. “Nope. I’ve been doing strength training and George Weasley is mine.”

“Won’t Lee mind?” I questioned playfully.

“He’ll have to live,” she replied, cocky grin on her face. “I’m ready.” She paused and wiggled off her bottoms. “Where’s Katie? She not here yet?”

“Not a reason to show up early this year, is there?” Angelina said. “She doesn’t have a denial about fancying George. Well, she does, but she doesn’t want us to know it.” She shrugged, wrapping a towel around her waist. “Did Lee come with you?”

“Yeah, he’s giving Fred a hard time for his yellow shorts.”

Angelina blushed.

“You match?” I said loudly, laughing. “I can’t believe that. You’re such a couple.”

She stuck her tongue out at me. “Shut up. I think it’s adorable. He loves it.”

“He just loves you in a bikini,” Alicia offered. “No matter. I’m ready to get out there and have some fun, matchy-matchy couple or not.” She tossed her bag up on the bunk once she grabbed a towel out of it. “I’m just glad they have a pond too. I mean, what’s the point of visiting someone overnight if they don’t have a body of water we can wear bikinis around?”

I pulled open the door and heard voices in the distance, signaling the boys had already found their way to the water and Lee had already been thrown in. I glanced up to the house, but Katie was nowhere to be found.

Alicia rushed past me and into the forest. “Last one there is matchy-matchy!” she cried, racing to the trees.

Angelina huffed and followed. I shut the door and walked as well. A small scream told me Alicia had been the next victim into the chilly water.

The Burrow’s pond wasn’t large, but it was my favorite. Surrounded by a thicket of trees, it had a sandy shore put there by the twins’ parents (probably to get them out of the house) and a large dock and diving board they built themselves that had a history of falling off or thwacking George on the bum. There were three towels already bunched up on the shore, Alicia’s fourth almost falling off the dock. Fred was standing on it triumphantly.

Lee was out near the middle of the pond and George was building a sandcastle, placing a few shells in as windows.

“King of the dock!” Fred cried, throwing his fists in the air. That is, until Alicia grabbed his ankle and tugged him in.

“Not so royal anymore,” Angelina murmured, moving toward George and plopping down in the sand. She grabbed a twig and made a flag out of it.

I kicked through the sand over to where it turned to mud, letting my feet sink into it and then into the water. I walked out so it lapped at my shins. Then submerged my knees, which created tiny bumps along my legs and torso. Lee and Alicia had ganged up on Fred and were now trying to dunk him. He kept screaming out for twin help, but George was busy adding on extra apartments to his castle for the pretty ladies of the sand town.

Suddenly I glanced up, seeing Alicia and Lee glance toward the path behind me. Fred splashed both of them but turned as well.

Once I followed their stares, I realized Katie was standing in the break in the trees. She wore a large sunhat, covering her face in shade, and a pink sundress. I could see tan bathing suit halter straps under it. Her fingers twisted in front of her, around a white towel.

My gaze flew to George’s face. His jaw was a little lopsided before he caught himself, turning immediately back to his castle, but not working on it. Angelina leapt up and rushed over to Katie.

“Hey! That dress is amazing,” she said, beaming. “When did you get it?” By asking Katie about shopping, it got her mind off of her ex-fiance sitting a few meters away.

“Couple weeks ago,” she said shyly, tossing her towel in the sand. Katie bunched up the material of her dress in her hands. “What’s going on? Sorry I’m late. Mum was on my case.”

Angelina shrugged. “You’re here now. Oliver’s at practice until this evening but the rest of us are here. And Fred has lost his royalty of king of the dock so you haven’t missed much.”

“You know,” Fred said, swimming closer to shore on his stomach. “I almost bought that same hat. That could have been awkward.”

“Oh, I’ll let you borrow it,” Katie replied with a sly smile. “Don’t you worry.” She peeled off the hat and set it beside her towel, ignoring the skeptical glances of those around her and pulled off her dress. The bikini had white stripes on the tan material. Then Katie ran at the water, leaping in and submerging her head.

George glanced up.

I let my eyes roll. They were so frustrating. But then again, wasn’t I at one point? I hoped Oliver was doing well at practice.

 

__


After swimming, Alicia losing to George again, and a tour of the luxury sand castle, we waded into the shallows, my eyes closed as I took in the warm sun. The only sounds were the leaves on the trees and the water pushing against the shoreline.

“Hungry,” mumbled Fred, splashing water at Angelina.

“So eat,” she replied, splashing him back.

He leaned over and bit her bare arm. She smacked him.

“I’m hungry too,” Alicia added, sitting up and leaning back so her arms were still in the water. “I wonder if your mum is home yet. There was a recipe card in the kitchen that very clearly said muffins and I’m interested.”

“I can make muffins,” Lee noted.

“Yeah like they’re made out of dirt,” she replied in a huff. “What’re the dinner plans tonight, twinsies?”

“Mum said we’d be eating in the garden,” George said, pushing his hair back into the water. “Something about chicken and roasted potatoes. I’ve gotta get the extra silverware out of the cabinets, just remembered that.” He groaned loudly. “I know she wants to wait for Wood to get here so she can question him all about the reporters and his new Quidditch glory.”

“Jealous?” Alicia said with a snicker.

“Hey, I’ll be far more famous than Wood,” he said with a smirk. “We’re going to have the joke shop of all joke shops.”

“I’d rather sleep with a Quidditch player,” Angelina said, laughing, and Fred bit her again.

“C’mon,” Katie said, getting to her feet. We stared up at her. “I need a snack, I don’t know about you guys. If I have to sneak it, I’m going to.” She smirked devilishly. I recognized that smirk from the Katie I adored at Hogwarts. The risky Chaser that did what she could to get what she wanted. And now she wanted a snack.

Fred was the first one to leap to his feet. “To the kitchen!” He threw his hand in the air and grabbed his towel, wrapping it around himself like a cape. Then he took off into the trees, Katie not far behind, wagging her towel in her hand as she grabbed her clothes.

“I missed her,” Alicia whispered, watching them go.

George busied himself with moving his fingers in and out of the water.

“Good to see her calming down finally,” Lee noted, now standing with his girlfriend. “I’m sure it was my dancing skills at the party the other night.”

“I didn’t know you danced with Katie,” I said with a smile. Lee was such a charmer.

“Don’t be jealous, Janey, you were busy getting a fancy new necklace.”

I smirked and squeezed out my dark hair. “I’m always jealous, Lee. I just can’t keep my eyes off of you. I’ll have to tell Oliver it’s over. Unless you’d like to join us.” I raised an amused brow.

“How’d you know about my crush on Wood?” Lee splashed me, forcing me to wring out my hair again.

Alicia dunked him.

When we caught up with Katie and Fred, they already had full stomachs. Mrs. Weasley’s muffins were spread out on the counter and when I asked how many they had, they blushed and each put up three fingers. Bleeding pigs.

“Where’s Mrs. Weasley?” Angelina wondered, grabbing a muffin before Fred could get his greedy paws on it. I figured she found it just as weird that Fred’s mother wasn’t in the room harassing all of us about our health, bathing habits, and the state of our hair.

“Living room,” mumbled Fred. “Knitting something.”

The color in Katie’s cheeks rose. Silence fell.

A knock at the door jilted me, almost causing me to drop my muffin. I wanted it to be Oliver, preferably sweaty from Quidditch practice, hair sticking to the back of his neck. Maybe some dirt on his shirt. Not that there would be a reason for it since they showered after practice, but a girl could dream, right?

“Oliver!” Mrs. Weasley squealed. “You’re skin and bone! Look at you, famous man about town.” She giggled. Mrs. Weasley always giggled over Oliver, even though up until this year she rarely saw him.

Everyone hurried toward the hall. Including me, since he was, well, my boyfriend.

Apparently he was my completely delicious boyfriend with wet hair, chiseled cheek-bones and a lopsided smirk. Blimey, he looked good enough to jump right there in the living room. Only that wouldn’t be appropriate. I didn’t want Mrs. Weasley to think I was a harlot. Until she saw us snogging in the garden, which was certain to happen at some point that week. We were pro snoggers.

Oliver met my eyes, even from across the room and with a whole crowd of not-Oliver’s-girlfriends standing in front of me. And with Mrs. Weasley straightening his collar. His brown eyes made me freeze, unaware of the muffin dropping with a soft thud onto the tile floor.

“Gunna eat that?” Fred asked, grabbing the muffin off the ground and taking a bite.

Angelina nudged him. “You’re gross.” He bit her in response.

Mrs. Weasley shoved past all of us into the kitchen. “What’ll you have, dear?” she asked Oliver. “Spot of tea? Muffin—where’d all the muffins go?”

Fred moved behind Angelina.

“I’m fine, but thank you kindly,” Oliver said with charm. I felt an arm slid around my waist, goosebumps trailing my arms. “I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone.”

“You just let me know if you need anything,” she said fondly, looking around at us. “Jane, Alicia, Ang. You too. Don’t be shy, girls.”

I noticed she didn’t say Katie’s name. In fact, she didn’t even look at Katie. And Katie kept her gaze focused intently on a spot on the floor. Awkward.

“Sure,” Angelina said, trying to diffuse the tension. “Of course we will. Thanks, Mrs. Weasley.” She made a move toward the back door. I followed.

“Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” Mrs. Weasley said cheerfully. She grabbed a few pans from under the stove. “I’ll have you lot set up the table in the garden. It should be a clear night.”

Fred groaned and we followed him outside, the door shutting with a soft snap behind him. We didn’t dare say a word until we got to the girls’ cottage and that door was closed.

“She hates me,” Katie said loudly. To be honest, I was shocked it was her who said it. She threw her arms in the air, climbed onto her bunk above Angelina’s, and threw her face into the pillow. “I knew I shouldn’t have come! She hates me and wants me to leave. Get my towel. I’m going to go home.”

“Shut up.” I expected that to come from Alicia, but instead it was Fred’s voice. “Mum doesn’t hate you. She’s just upset she won’t be getting grandbabies any time soon.”

“Like she would have been anyway,” George said. He didn’t have a bitter tone. It was actually thoughtful. “I’m seventeen.”

“And in your prime.” Fred laughed loudly. The rest of us laughed and Katie took her teary face off the pillow to stare at him. “Katie, stop worrying so much. She’ll like you again. She’s just bitter. Mum takes disappointment rather hard. And she can’t blame George for being a prat since he’s her bay-bay.”

“I wasn’t a prat!”

“Shut up, prat.”

George punched him in the shoulder. “Shut up. Don’t talk about my relationship when I’m right here.”

I watched Katie’s eyes widen, but I was the only one who saw.

“Your ex relationship,” Fred noted and dodged another punch. He fell down onto the sofa and pulled Ang down after him. “So Oliver fucking Wood! How was practice today, mate? Save all the Quaffles?”

He chuckled and drew his arms around me again. His bare arms were warm. “I saved as many as I could,” Oliver replied. “I’m feeling ace though. A little tired, but I’m assuming that will go away after a few days. I don’t feel poisoned anymore.”

“Was everyone curious?” George asked, finally getting in a punch to Fred’s shoulder. “I mean, you sort of went down right at the party and had to be lugged out of there.”

Oliver nodded. “Yeah, I got a lot of questions. Especially when I told them it was poison. There was a gaggle of girls on the sidelines trying to hear everything. They’ve been coming to practice every time and they get louder and louder. One girl keeps bringing the same sign asking me to marry her.” He laughed.

“The life of a playboy,” I said wickedly and he kissed my cheek.

“I still don’t get it,” Angelina said from Fred’s lap. “Do you think it was Bridget?”

“Could have been,” Alicia said. “After we took her out in the bathroom. Hope she’s got a brilliant bruise. Or it could be the thousand other gaggling girls that somehow got invites to that high caliber party.”

Oliver didn’t reply right away, his eyes focused far away. “I have no idea. I feel like Bridget wouldn’t resort to poison to off Jane. I mean, there are loads of other eligible Quidditch blokes she could seduce and be the trophy wife of.” He glanced down at me. “You’re wearing my necklace.”

“Are you surprised?”

“Not surprised,” he said roughly. “Happy.”

Lee cleared his throat. “As touching as this moment is,” he said with a cocked brow, “I think we should do something.”

Alicia threw a pillow at him. “We’re trying to find out who wanted to off Jane and almost offed Oliver instead! It’s like a murder mystery novel in here!”

“Where’s the resolution?” Lee whined.

“That you shut your bleeding mouth.” She threw another pillow at him.

 

__


Though we were late setting up the table because of Alicia chasing the boys around with lampshades (trying to make them into hats to look like Katie), it got done and once dinner was on the table we all shut up, listening to the painful growls of our stomachs.

The sun was going down behind us and floating lights kept the table glowing as we served up the chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, and chocolate cake. Fred had more than his share, which caused his mother to slap him with a wooden spoon, but other than that we all had just enough and we passed around sighs of contentment.

“Amazing,” Lee said, leaning back and patting his stomach.

Both twins mimicked his gesture.

“You outdid yourself, Mrs. Weasley,” Oliver said with a polite and charming smile. Apparently he was not only the guy every girl wanted to bag, but also the one the parents wanted their daughters to marry. Dad seemed to entertain the idea of Oliver. I wondered how Mum would like him. If she would approve of his need to showboat or his insufferable arrogance. I was sure she would like him. Or at least want to pinch his damn adorable cheeks.

“Thank you,” Mrs. Weasley replied, her face flushing pink as she dabbed her lips with the red cloth napkin. “I think it turned out well. It’s nice to have enough faces around here to eat it all. With everyone else gone it’s been lonely waiting for you all to show up. And with Fred disappearing all the time…”

Fred and Angelina went the color of the napkins around the table. I wondered if George and Katie would start debating whether they were an apple red or a crimson. I decided they were more of a brick red, so I could settle that argument if it started.

“I’m taking painting lessons,” Fred mumbled, grabbing another roll from the center of the table and stuffing it into his mouth.

“I really thought you were taking painting lessons,” George said thoughtfully. “Your oils are getting so much better.”

“Natural talent,” Fred said, but there was a sparkle in his eye that hinted that his oils were getting better from practice. And there was a heavy blush on Ang’s cheeks that suggested she might be the subject of said oil paintings. Who knew?

“So what are you kids going to get up to this evening?” Mrs. Weasley asked, absentmindedly stacking plates as she scanned the table.

“Bonfire?” Lee offered, shrugging as he placed his napkin (totally brick red) on top of his empty plate. “I seem to remember last year George nearly set himself on fire because he was pretending to be a marshmallow.”

“I don’t remember that,” said Mrs. Weasley in a lofty tone, glaring at George.

“It’s an inside joke!” the Weasley twin said, his face now glowing. “It was pretend. And we were joking. I’ve never even been near a fire. In fact, I don’t know what fire is. Is it hot? What does it MEAN?!”

I rolled my eyes and cast a sideways glance at Oliver. He returned the glance that clearly suggested, who the heck do we associate ourselves with?

 

__


After George was done lecturing Lee on keeping his mouth shut in front of Mrs. Weasley, the boys constructed the bonfire in one of the large clearings in the forest while me and the girls stayed in the cottage, ruffling through our bags to find some hooded sweatshirts and actual shoes.

“Hate bug bites,” mumbled Alicia, grabbing her fuchsia shirt and pulling it on over her head. The tiny cottage was quiet and warm and we could hear the boys screaming about one thing or another.

“I just hope they’re not planning another abduction,” said Angelina, glancing up from where she was trying to get her jeans over her hips. “I can’t believe Fred slipped last time and we both ended up in the pond.”

“He deserved it for throwing ice on my bed!” Alicia shot back, narrowing her eyes. “Wow. Thinking back to last year it seems ages ago. All I did with Lee was kiss him once when we played that silly spin the bottle game. Maybe that’s when he started fancying me. Obviously knew I’d be a good snogger after that.”

Angelina rolled her eyes. “I’m sure that was the moment he fell for you.” She chuckled darkly and tied her hair up in a knot.

“Weird,” I said absently, thinking about the previous year. It had only been us and Fred, George, and Lee. No Oliver Wood, mostly because I loathed him and to the others he was just their Captain. Just their superior that had them get up before the sun to run laps. Not their friend. Or my boyfriend. I actually remembered making jokes about him falling off his broom last year. Similar to Alicia calling Lee her big brother.

Even Katie and George hadn’t realized they were perfect for each other.

Hmm. Perhaps it’s something about summer that made those two become idiots.

Or napkins.

“Last year was so different,” Alicia said at last, tightening the laces on her shoes. “I mean, just last year Katie had that infatuation with the Muggle cashier up the street. Perhaps he still works there. Shall we go down tomorrow and bat our eyelashes at him?”

“No,” Katie said, a heavy blush on her cheeks. “He probably doesn’t remember me.”

Yeah, I thought, that’s why you don’t want to go.

I hoisted the hoot on my gray sweatshirt over my head. “Ready?” I asked, glancing around at the girls.

They nodded and we walked out of the cottage, greeted by the eerie sound of silence.

“Weren’t they just screaming mating calls or something?” whispered Angelina, placing her hands on her hips in irritation.

It was pitch dark outside other than the area surrounding the door, which was lit up by a small lamp beside the window. We could barely see the light above the back door of the Burrow. I could hear the crackling of a fire within the forest.

“Lumos,” we whispered in unison, lighting our wands.

It didn’t do much to help considering we just had four beams of light and the forest was the kind of dark where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. The overcast night didn’t help.

“I hate this silence,” Alicia finally said as our footsteps gave away our position, twigs snapping under our feet. “I mean, they could just be sitting there swapping war stories.”

“But they could be behind us,” Katie said, her voice nervous. “They wouldn’t, though. Not this year. Not with…everything…”

“George might not,” Alicia replied shortly. “But I know if the idea struck them Fred and Lee would most certainly go for it.”

So would Oliver, I thought. I knew.

“They’re going to know where we are,” Angelina said impatiently. “Our only shot is outsmarting them.”

“What if they already know?” I asked, glancing over at her as I put out the light from my wand. The wind flew through my hair, sending it in leafs over my face. “They’ve been quiet for a few. What if they know where we are and they’re just waiting to scare the shit out of us?”

I listened to the night noises. Crackling twigs. A few birds. The wind through the trees. The fire some distance away. Branches creaking. It was terrifying and a little chilling.

Alicia was the last to put out her wand. “Game plan.”

I looked over, barely able to see the outline of her profile in the darkness now that we had entered into the thicket of trees.

“We make for the fire,” Alicia whispered, her face darting back and forth. “It’s just due east from here, with a little veer to the left. I can see the orange glow. If someone is captured, continue.”

“What happened to leave no one behind?” Angelina asked impatiently.

“What am I, a military woman? If you go down I’m leaving your slow ass.”

Angelina shoved her, but said nothing. I could tell she was looking around too.

I wasn’t sure what they were looking at considering I could see the outlines of a few trees, the orange fire quite a distance away, and my body. That was pretty much it. I tried not to breathe too loudly, but my footsteps were horrid.

“There,” hissed Katie, grabbing me by the shoulder and pulling me to the forest floor. The other girls followed suit. “They’re coming from the fire. I can see the outlines of their bodies—get behind there!”

We crawled through the leaves and dirt behind a large fallen tree, each of us peeking over it. I could barely see them, but Katie was right. I did see two people who looked very much like Lee and Oliver walking toward the path from the trees. Every couple meters they paused to dodge behind a tree. I kept my gaze fixed on them. Especially Oliver because, to me, he was the dangerous person. I remembered what Fred did to Angelina last time and I wasn’t getting thrown in the pond.

It took them ages to even get near to us, but I could tell from Katie’s body language that we weren’t taking chances. She was stoic, staring out at them.

“They’re looking for us,” she whispered, glancing over at me with a quirky smile. Then she glanced at her other side and jumped. “Shit!”

“What?” I glanced over on the other side of Katie and they were gone—both Angelina and Alicia had vanished. I had no idea if they had just gone to the other side of the log or had been taken. If they had been taken it had been a stealthy job. I glanced around the tree, seeing no sign of them or the twins. “Shit,” I said, echoing Katie. I glanced over the tree again. They were still walking toward us.

“We have to get to the fire,” Katie said firmly. Her fist was clenched, patting the bark quietly.

It was then that we heard a scream and a splash. Then an angry shriek and another splash.

“Casualties,” Katie whispered, closing her eyes for one moment. “C’mon, Jane, let’s show these boys that they can, and will, be beaten.”
 




A/N: Ahh, the Burrow. One of my favorite places to write. Finally I get to! I'm glad I finally finished this chapter. I had another serious case of can't-write-it's-cold-and-February. Does anyone else get that? It seems every Jan/Feb/March I go into some odd funk where I want to write and I have tons of ideas but nothing comes out of the keyboard. But I did finish it!


What did you think? I KNOW what you're going to say. Not enough GeoKat. Or Jane/Oliver. Don't worry. I wanted everyone to get their fill of the eight of them back together before I start splitting people up and letting the dramatics ensue.


Up next: Dramatics. More Burrow antics. Maybe an argument. Maybe Lee will wear Katie's big sunhat. Or Alicia's large sunglasses. I'm fairly certain sunglasses will be a a part of the next chapter.


Chapter 32: Hostages
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For all of the people asking about my stories and commenting on the forums about them during the April Fool's prank. I love you all. <3




The night was black around me. Not just the sort of black from the inside of a hat. No, this was an eerie black that engulfed you. The kind that swallowed you whole and forced you to retreat inside yourself for warmth and sanctuary. But ducked behind a rotting carcass of a tree was hardly the place to be finding my inner Jane Perry. Instead, I scratched my nails against the bark, peering from a fierce Katie to the two bodies making their way through the trees.

“You ready?” whispered Katie, moving her hair from in front of her eyes.

I nodded a little, my stomach exploding in nerves. Of course it was nothing compared to the vomit episode of sixth year beside the Quidditch pitch, but it wasn’t every day you found out you were playing in the Final after the Seeker gets hexed and you fall for your git of a Quidditch captain. Those are special, vomit-worthy circumstances.

My eyes focused on who I assumed to still be Oliver and Lee judging by their body language. Lee was peering behind trees. Fingernails scraped in front of me. Nervous habit. Not to be confused with the depressed habit of becoming an egg chef. One time deal.

“Sure,” I said, glancing over. Katie was gone. I looked up. Lee and Oliver were gone. My heart exploded, eyes searching the surrounding forest. Nothing. No crunching leaves. No giggles. The only sounds were more splashes and angry swear words from Alicia’s squeaky clean mouth.

Fuck. Fuckity fuck. I was alone, crouched behind a damn tree, while two blokes were on the loose trying to capture me and throw me in a pond. Katie had been captured. Or she sank in quicksand. Either was highly likely with the kind of night I was having.

Feeling tiny droplets of sweat caused by summer humidity and humiliation, I moved to the end of the tree, knees cringing against the sharp edges of twigs. There were still no arms around me. No scarves covering my mouth so I couldn’t scream. But I still saw no one creeping in the darkness. Propping myself up, I flew to the next tree, pressing my upright body into it, wishfully hoping no one had heard the snapping leaves on the forest floor.

If they didn’t hear that, they probably heard my breathing. Sounded like a dinosaur.

A dinosaur in labor. With a boulder.

I shoved my fist in my mouth, peered around the tree, and skipped to the next one. My legs were burning already just from crouching and leaping. I should have trained for Quidditch over the summer.

Not that I was going to play.

Because I wasn’t.

But if I was, I should have trained over the summer. If not just for the random game of Keep Away that was happening between the girls and the guys. Keeping myself away from Oliver in this messed up game of Hide and Seek. That I was currently winning.

Seek if you dare, Oliver Wood, I thought, my fingers curled around my wand tight as I inched closer to making another run for it.

The fire was four trees away. Four trees, each separated by a patch of unguarded land. Splashes echoed from the pond. Angelina was shrieking angrily. I whipped around, hearing a few noises to my left. Far off the path was one figure. It looked like Oliver’s build, though him and Lee were relatively similar, Oliver only a few inches taller with different hair. I squinted. In the dark it was difficult to tell. Still. Where was the other? Had he been the one to get Katie? And now I was last?

I focused on the fire. All I had to do was get to the sanctuary that was the fickle bonfire flames. I wasn’t altogether sure who decided that was base. Or the safe place. For all I knew, I could still be thrown over a shoulder and carted off spewing off curse words.

At least I had to try. My name was Jane Perry after all. I did things simply to spite people. Mostly people like Libby, who I was trying not to think about spending yet another year with. At least she couldn’t try to steal Oliver away from me. I imagined that being something like her sauntering up batting her eyelashes and fixing her bra while explaining to about Oliver a new bunny costume she purchased over the summer holiday. And then I would throw up. Because Quidditch nerves are about the same as being disgusted at Libby for breathing. Or blinking, really.

I skipped to the next tree. Still, nothing came out of anywhere and grabbed me. My fingers gripped my wand, heart hammering. I pushed my good-for-nothing hair away from my eyes. That was the last thing I needed. Three trees to go.

I heard muffled screams. I didn’t like that they were muffled.

I could feel the branches cutting into my ankles. There would either be blood or large scrapes when I managed to get to the fire. I stuck my toe out from behind the tree and then ran to the next one, placing my body behind it and catching a glimpse of the roaring fire. I couldn’t see much over there, but I did see a few chairs.

“Jane! Jane, RUN!”

I didn’t need to be told twice by whomever it was that told me. My legs took over, almost sending me to the ground as they carried me around the remaining trees, body jerking against the bark. Calloused fingers gripped my shoulder before I shrugged them off, a loud grunt behind me signaling the attacker had gone head-first into a tree.

I dove into the clearing, stomach finding the ground in a remarkably painful experience. I was certain I looked like a complete twat spread out on the grass, arms wide, with my face half in the soot surrounding the fire.

“She runs like that from all the laps,” Katie said, peering to her right. She was propped up on one of the chairs, long legs extending in front of her, one crossed over the other. She had a pompous smirk on her face, wand dangling from her lean fingers. Her eyes flickered to her left side. Mine followed.

Lee Jordan’s hands were bound, matching his legs, and there was a large piece of tape across his mouth. I could still see his scowl.

“Bad luck, Lee,” I said him, hoisting myself upright with a smirk to match Katie’s. “No leg comments? Or should I leave that to the twins?” I turned to his captor. “It’s good to have you back.”

“Good to be back,” she said with a devilish glint in her bright eyes.

I took a moment to pinch Lee’s cheek before looking over my shoulder, hearing the frustrated breathing of a pained Quidditch star.

Katie leapt up. “Stand back, Oliver,” she said, her wand raised and pointed over my shoulder. “I have a hostage. You will have to trade for him. Or give me a foot massage.”

I heard Oliver’s delicate laugh behind me resonating from the back of his throat. “I’ll give you a hamster for Jordan. Fair trade.”

Lee yelled against his tape.

I peered around, my eyes finding Oliver’s chocolate brown ones in the dim light. The side of his face has scratches on it and his shirt was torn. There was dirt on his cheeks I could only mistake for war-paint if I was half-blind. He seemed to notice where I was looking.

“You gave me a run for my money,” he said quietly, cocking a brow.

“Shush or I’ll turn you into a hostage,” I said with a confident nod. Then I prodded him with my wand.

“Oh, just take him hostage, Jane,” Katie said impatiently, plopping back down in her seat and giving Lee a little shove with her foot. “Just in case Fred and George come back and want to barter.”

“You two play dirty,” he noted in a low growl, motioning to his shirt again.

“Considering we didn’t even know it was a game,” I said, reaching down and pulling my finger against my pants, “I think we played quite fair. You’re the one playing dirty, Wood.” I wiped the dirt on his stomach.

Half to prove a point. Half to touch his stomach.

Delicious.

I glanced up at Oliver. He shot me a look that clearly suggested after my touch he didn’t mind being a hostage. He raised his hands in surrender.

“Tie me up?” he asked in a rough undertone. I blushed.

Damn Oliver Wood. I tried to forget it, forcing myself to remember the days I hated him. Like when he was the reason Roger and I broke up. And then I got drunk with him. And then we fought all the time. And he snogged me to get me to shut up. And then he forced me onto his stupid Quidditch team, where I fell into his arms catching the Snitch and he kissed me. Right. Hated him the whole time.

I flicked my wand out of irritation and bound his hands. “Sit down before you fall down,” I mumbled with narrowed slits for eyes, taking up a spot beside Katie. “Do you think they survived?”

“Hardly,” Katie whispered. “I could hear their screams the whole time.”

“I am here,” Fred Weasley said, stepping into the clearing, “To negotiate the return of—what the fuck, Lee? How did you get caught?” He had Angelina strung over his shoulder, hitting his ass hard with each step.

Oliver held up his hands with a smirkish smile.

“Fucking WOOD!” Fred snapped. “Come on. I’ve got a girl here and one back there. And you have two guys here. But I have George too.”

“And I have Jane,” Katie said, rolling her eyes. “Looks like we’re at a stand-still.” She kept her wand on Lee. Not that he could move anyway. His head started lolling to the side out of boredom.

“I will give you Ang for Oliver,” offered Fred weakly.

“She getting on your nerves?” I asked. I winked at Angelina and she slapped him hard again.

Fred narrowed his eyes at me, rubbing his bum for a moment. “Yes. She almost got me in the water and I don’t want a slip up like that again. So what do you say?”

“No.” I didn’t say it. Alicia walked up, smacked Fred on the back of the head, and took a seat next to me. “I can’t believe he was going to give Ang up. Someone’s sleeping on the metaphorical couch tonight.” Her body was still dripping wet, hair stuck on her neck and back. She paused for a moment to wring it out as she watched. “I need a damn snog after all that.”

Fred’s jaw fell lopsided, clearly stunned by the fact that she was not being carted around by George. “Um.”

Alicia ignored his sound, pushed past everyone and sauntered over to Lee, sitting down in front of him. She ripped the tape off his mouth and he would have yelped had her lips not been on his.

“So what are the demands for the return?” Fred said like a true commander. He even puffed up his chest a little. Which didn’t make him taller.

“You have Ang,” Katie pointed out, still letting her wand loll in her fingers. “We have Lee, Oliver, and George. Give yourself up, Freddo.”

“Never!” Fred cried. “Where have you hidden George?”

“In the furthest bedroom of the tallest tower,” Alicia said, detaching herself from Lee’s lips for a moment to giggle. “I even added a dragon and some swords. And I gave him a frilly nighty.” She kissed her beau again.

“I’m going to find him,” he said, narrowing his eyes and slapping Ang’s ass. “We have twin-connect. It’s like mind power.” He paused dramatically and turned around, peering at the forest. “For twins.”

Oliver stood up and yawned. “I’ll come with you,” he said.

I motioned to the ropes around his arms like it was obvious. Which it was, by the way.

He rolled his eyes at me defiantly, stretched his muscles, and tore the bonds. Then he ruffled his hair and followed Fred into the forest with laughter.

“You going to do that?” I asked Lee. He flipped me off with a still-wrapped up finger.

Once Fred, Oliver, and a disgruntled Angelina had vanished into the trees I turned back to Alicia, who was replacing the tape on Lee’s mouth and looking satisfied. “Hmm?” she said lightly, using her wand to dry herself.

“So where is this tower?” I asked with a grin. “I’m dying to see George in something frilly.”

--


We found George Weasley quite a ways away next to a small creek and down a hill. He was bound to a tree with a piece of tape over his mouth. His scowl was more defined, though I think it was more because his shoes were covered in mud. He struggled against the bonds as we approached, Alicia leading Lee with her wand. Power struggle.

“Hey, Georgie!” I said cheerfully, pinching his cheek casually. “Comfy?”

He said something I couldn’t quite make out into the tape. I counted at least four swear words.

“Fred is on his way to finding you with twin-connect,” Alicia explained with a laugh. “With that wit, I’d expect him sometime next week. Don’t worry, I’ll bring you pancakes or something.”

Another stream of mutter-anger.

That was when I jumped, nearly tripping over a log as I heard Angelina’s shriek through the forest. I took off running , glancing over my shoulder as her voice lit up the night.

“Katie—stay here! I’ve got Lee as leverage!” Alicia cried, forcing Lee on with her wand at a run.

They were further ahead of me as I tore through the trees, leaping over fallen trees and around stranded boulders. Why there were boulders in the Weasley thicket of forest was beyond me, but they made for nice obstacles. I stubbed my toe on a smaller stone, pausing only to hold it in irritation.

Fuck, that hurt. I bit my lip hard, tasting the bitterness of blood.

“Fred, you’re ridiculous!” Alicia cried loudly. “You’re full of so much shit.”

She was several meters ahead and I couldn’t see the group, but I did hear Fred’s laughter. I mentally hated him for being the reason my toe was throbbing with pain, but turned, heading back toward Katie and George. I didn’t want her to kill him while they were alone together. Oliver was laughing now. Gits, the whole lot of them.

I limped through the darkness, twigs under my feet cracking in the semi-silence. It wasn’t a long journey back, just enough to start hearing voices in the trees.

“Oh, that’s rich of you!”

“How so? I couldn’t pick a fucking napkin color!”

Oh, fuck.

I picked up my pace.

“Maybe if you had CARED enough like you did when we first started dating!”

“Bullshit! That’s bullshit!”

“Don’t you tell me what it is!”

I spotted them just down the hill. George was untied and his finger was pointing at her. Even in the darkness I could see the scarlet blotches on his face. Katie was only a couple feet from him, her hair disheveled and her hands shaking. This was not good. Yet, I couldn’t move. I stayed behind a large fallen tree, watching them.

“Maybe if you wouldn’t have fucking picked a bunch of shit that looked the same!”

“You never loved me!” Katie shrieked, shoving him hard on the chest.

“I ALWAYS LOVED YOU!” George cried, throwing his hands in the air. “Typical Katie Bell, bloody fucking DRAMA QUEEN!”

“I am not!” she said. “You’re arrogant and insufferable and a big fucking git!”

“You’re a fucking git!

“You’re a git who can’t think of insults because he’s such a fucking git!” She shoved him again.

“I can’t believe you just dropped an f bomb at me!” George roared, kicking a few twigs at her, but they fell short.

“What the hell,” whispered Alicia, sinking into the dirt beside me. Everyone else was with her, all of them staring at Katie and George with their jaws lopsided. “Get down,” she whispered to them.

“Need some popcorn,” Oliver mumbled, kneeling down on my other side.

“Fuck!” Katie cried, kicking sticks at him and hitting his legs. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What are you going to do about it, George? Go cry to your twin?”

“DON’T YOU BRING FRED INTO THIS!”

“I’ll bring whoever I want into this!” she snapped. “Hell, I’ll bring in Jane! You like her legs anyway, don’t you? Want to break up her and Oliver, hmm?”

Oh, great. Now I was in the stupidest fight of the century.

“Don’t be STUPID!” George said, running his fingers angrily through his hair. “Jane’s one of my best mates and she knows how I feel about you!”

“How the hell do you feel about me, George?” Katie said, rolling her eyes. “Like you want to off me? Like you don’t want to play on a Quidditch team with me next year because you’re going to have to GET THE HELL OVER IT BECAUSE I’M A BETTER PLAYER THAN YOU ARE!”

“I FEEL LIKE YOU ARE SO FRUSTRATING!” George said wildly, moving closer to her to yell. “I can’t stand you, Katie! You’re such a diva and a princess and you need to just back the fuck off and deal with shit!”

“I’ll deal with YOU!” she shrieked, inching closer.

“And what the fuck are you going to do to me?” George said, this time quieter as he rolled his eyes arrogantly. I wanted to know if Oliver taught him that.

Katie stared at him for a moment. Her fists were shaking, balled at her sides. They were only about a foot apart, him staring down at her with daggers in his eyes, her looking up in equal hatred.

And then Katie grabbed his face and kissed him hard.

“What,” whispered Alicia and we all made noises that seemed to agree with her word. I couldn’t get a word out, let alone a thought.

George threw his arms around her waist, pulling her to him and she jumped, wrapping her legs around him. He held her tight, kissing her aggressively and she tangled her fingers in his hair.

Damn.

I even saw her bite his bottom lip gent