“Oliver, do calm down,” I practically begged. I was lying on my stomach, the bed comforter smooth against my arms, and kicking my feet lazily. “You’re going to knock something over.” But I didn’t know why I was even bothering with trying; there was only one week until the quidditch game, and he was already spilling ideas to me, all about his intricate plays and not-really-but-bending-the-rules ways of “cheating.” It was getting to the point where I nearly understood what he was talking about. After all of these years, I finally follow along, or at least do a better job pretending.
He grinned. “You’re doing it again, Corie.”
“Sounding like my mum.”
That was a common accusation. I rolled my eyes and returned to the small chest before me. It looked like a larger cigar box. Inside were quite a few music records, and I was sifting through them. For the umpteenth time, Oliver called in a faraway voice, “Simon and Garfunkel….”
“I’m trying to find it, hold on,” I tried not to smile. “You’re the one who keeps putting them back in the wrong cases.”
We were in the Seventh Year girls’ dormitories, and other than us, it was vacant. I don’t think the other girls really mind having Oliver in there, though. In fact, I was surprised nobody had come running yet. He and Evan sometimes—though he rarely joined us—came around the window on broomsticks, and we let them in through there. Nobody complained. I don’t think there is a girl in Hogwarts who didn’t want Oliver Wood in their room.
Except maybe Artemis.
An arm suddenly reached over my head and grabbed a Simon and Garfunkel case. It was Oliver, leaning over me.
“I already checked that one,” I said, “besides, that would mean you put it back in the right case.” He gently and playfully hit my head with it, and I looked at him over my shoulder.
He was in a comfortable brown sweater; new, probably. His mum always got one for him every year for school. I could tell he hadn’t bought it himself, because it looked expensive. Usually, he just lolled around in jeans and a simple shirt. But he looked so together, and organized; he hadn’t started forgetting to tie his shoelaces, and his tie wasn’t on crooked. That didn’t usually come until closer to a quidditch game.
That sweater looks nice on him, I thought, and returned to the records.
He suddenly lowered himself rather heavily, laying on me like some sort of gecko. I gasped for air under his crushing weight, and tried to hit him over my shoulder, though I only ended up hitting myself. He laughed.
“Well, while you’re diligently searching, mind if I use the shower?”
“Sure, why not, you use everything else in this dormitory,” I grunted. “And I’m quite certain everyone would love it, if you came back in a towel.”
He sounded intrigued. “You think so?”
“I’m only joking, Corie, relax.” He pinched my cheek and peeled himself off of me. I could finally breathe. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“I await thee with bated breath,” I called sarcastically, and he tossed a smirk over his shoulder. Soon, I heard the door to the restroom creaking shut—we still hadn’t found the charm to get rid of a creaking door—and hot water running.
A few moments later I came upon a Beatles case, with Abbey Road shoved in it, along with The Best of Simon and Garfunkel. I smiled to myself. Oliver had to be one of the messiest people that I knew; another reason that he and Artemis rarely get along. She’s a neat freak, always keeping everything as tidy as she could, while there is a sea of dirty clothes, quidditch magazines, and scrap parchment around Oliver’s bed.
I hoisted myself up and turned to the ancient record player sitting on the coffee table near my bed. Though I’m not Muggle born, my oldest brother Nathaniel is intrigued by them, and as a fifteenth birthday present, gave me a record player. I think it was his old one; he’s in to something now called CDs, I think. I really can’t quite figure them out, but apparently they’re a newer type of records. So he wrapped all of his old stuff up in pretty wrapping paper and gave it to me. But it’s the thought that counts, I suppose. And it certainly keeps the other Gryffindor girls entertained on a rainy day, as well as Oliver.
He had taken quite a liking to the music that most people I knew found boring. The Beethoven albums he hadn’t grown too fond of yet, but I was working on him. I was just glad he liked the ‘old people music’ I thoroughly enjoy.
Setting the needle down, there were crackling noises, and then The Sounds of Silence drifted slowly around the room like a settling fog. Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…. It was one of my favourite songs, but the longer I listened, the heavier my eyelids felt. Outside it was grey and rainy; a dreary, sleepy excuse for a Sunday. I crawled back to my bed and laid down again, muttering about how I’d just shut my eyes.
I woke up to a knock on the door, and Artemis came in. I doubted that anyone minded she had been given the password to Gryffindor house; if they did, it wouldn’t be right for them to complain, because nobody minded when Evan came in. Slowly, I sat up. The Sounds of Silence was still playing, so I assumed I hadn’t been out that long.
I opened my mouth to say something, and then everything sort of happened at once.
The door to the loo creaked open, Artemis turned and covered her mouth with her hands, suppressing a shriek. Quickly, she looked away, and I stared into the bathroom. Blatantly, engrossed, helplessly, stared.
Oliver Wood was completely naked. It was only a fragment of a moment before he made a gasping noise and darted back inside.
But he had been….
I’ll be completely honest. I’ve never even been kissed, aside from a little boy whose name I could barely remember, in his mothers’ sunflower garden. Our parents had been close friends, and as far as I knew, he had gone to Beauxbatons. So, I’ve obviously never even seen anyone…unclothed. Especially not Oliver Wood.
After he had been inside for a moment, I realized I was still staring at the doorway, and quickly averted my eyes. My face was on fire; I felt like I had a terrible sunburn, and I pursed my lips. The image was burned in my mind, and honestly, I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted it to go away or not.
Artemis frowned, interrupting the silence. “I can’t believe he did that!”
I tried to say, “I don’t think he meant to,” but I’m not sure if it came out. I was busying myself with organizing and reorganizing my record collection. Anything to keep my mind off of what had just happened. Simon and Garfunkel switched to I Am a Rock, and I tried to play very close attention to the music. But it wasn’t working.
Before I could stop myself: Well, now we know why they call him Wood.
A blush that could’ve lit the room consumed my face, and I gave a shrieking gasp, covering my mouth with one hand. Artemis quickly pivoted away from the bathroom door.
“Did he do it again?!” she cried, covering her eyes.
“N-no…,” I managed.
I can not believe I just thought that. I can not believe I just thought that!
The door to the loo squeaked open again, and Oliver slowly poked his head out. I couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t even begin to face him.
After a minute, he quietly called, “Corie, I thought you were asleep.”
“Um, no,” my voice cracked. “I…woke up.”
There was an unbelievably awkward silence, and Oliver looked to Artemis, who could not meet his eyes. “And where did you come from?”
Frowning, she said acidly, “Well, I came here to see Corie, as I didn’t plan on running in to any….”
Naked Oliver Wood? I finished for her.
She didn’t say anything for a minute. “What were you doing, walking around… naked?” she fired, stumbling over the last word, and folded her arms self-consciously.
“I didn’t bring a towel,” he said quietly. “I’d have to stand outside the bathroom to be able to point my wand—”
I made a hiccupping noise at the mention of his ‘wand,’ and feverishly went back to the records.
Oliver paused. “…in the right direction. To use the summoning spell,” he finished slowly, making the connection as well.
“Well…,” Artemis tried to think of something to say, probably ‘be more careful next time,’ but nothing would come out. The clock on the wall ticked loudly.
He cleared his throat. “Ah.” There was a pause, and he quickly stuck his head back inside and shut the door. There was a loud click, and we knew he locked it.
I slowly turned to Artemis, and saw that there was a pink twinge in her porcelain cheeks. Trying to find the right way to say it, I asked in a whisper, “Did you…see…?”
“No,” she said quickly. “No. I did not. I wasn’t looking.”
It sounded like she was trying to convince herself. The door opened again and we were quickly silenced, looking away once more. Timidly, Oliver asked, “Can one of you please go get my towel for me…?”
Artemis didn’t say anything. She was vigilantly looking at the ends of her hair, like she actually cared what they looked like. After a moment, I cleared my throat. “I’ll. Go get your towel, Oliver.”
Artemis gave me a stony glare, like I was trying to leave her all alone in there, with ‘that pervert.’ Once I was outside the room, I felt a smile creeping to my face, and quickly wiped it away. “Accio… Oliver’s towel, ” I tried. After a moment, a fluffy Gryffindor-red towel came hovering around the corner, and over the stairs.
His naked body has been against that, something in my mind said, and I nearly didn’t catch the hovering cloth. Sucking in a breath, I gripped it firmly, and marched back in to the dormitory.
Artemis was on the other side of the room, in the corner. I quietly rapped on the bathroom door, and when it opened, Oliver gave me a grin. It suddenly occurred to me that he was probably not that embarrassed by this whole situation. In fact, the longer I thought on it, the more I realized that he probably had no problem with being seen naked. From what I’d heard about the stupid things the boys did, like daring each other to run naked about the castle, he most likely didn’t mind. In fact, if I knew Oliver, he probably volunteered for those boyish things. It was probably just Artemis that was worrying him, and how she might castrate him for doing that to her.
He has no reason to be self-conscious about it, I thought, remembering his long torso and muscled just-enough-to-be-noticed skin. And then, reminding myself that I was not going to turn in to another swooning fan of Oliver, I wordlessly shoved the towel at him.
A long arm, shoulders dusted with freckles, reached out and grabbed the towel. My eyes went inside the bathroom before I could help it; I knew that the mirror was there, directly behind him, but I looked before I could think not to. Luckily—or maybe not so—only his lower back and up was visible.
I think he noticed I was staring, and I quickly averted my attention to the towel again.
His hand was on mine. It wasn’t like what you hear in romance stories, where boy and girl brush fingertips and pause, and their eyes lock, before jerking their hands away. Oliver blatantly grabbed my hand, nearly around the wrist, like he wanted to tell me something or stop me from walking away. Though it was most likely only to get my attention, I found it hard to slowly raise my eyes to his.
He was giving a grimacing sort of smile. “Thanks, Corie,” He said, and I could tell he was only half embarrassed. He cast a worried look at Artemis, and then shut the door.
Somehow, I felt dejected, standing so closely to the door that had just been clicked shut. Fighting the urge to stay, I turned to Artemis. “We’d better leave. He’ll be coming out in a towel soon.”
“Oh, Merlin!” Grabbing my wrist, she almost literally dragged me out of the dormitory.
That smile was creeping back on me again.
Aside from Oliver dropping the occasional subliminal message—“Yeah, that’s the naked truth,” or tossing his towel at me—the level of awkwardness over the incident dissipated. It seemed he liked waving it in front of my face, though. All of this joking around did not mean that Artemis forgave him, by any means. She was still sceptical as we walked to the quidditch pitch for the first game of the year, an excited Oliver blabbing away in front of us. We usually went down early, even before Gryffindor’s last minute practice. Oliver thought our trip was good luck. Evan was supposed to be there too, but had another detention for tardiness to class. He promised to be there before the game.
We showed up at the empty pitch, and Oliver couldn’t fight the huge smile spreading across his face.
I smiled back. “Excited?”
He could only nod vigorously. Exhaling loudly, he shook his hands out and bounced on the balls of his feet. He looked to me.
“Yeah,” I said, looking back to Artemis. She gave a short nod. I always felt like we were leaving her out, but she swears she likes standing and watching instead, so we just had to take her word for it.
Oliver mounted his broom, leaving a space before him. I clambered on, gripping the handle tightly, and trying to fight the usual river of nerves coursing through my core. My muscles tensed. He bounced a few times, fake take-offs, and I nearly squealed, squeezing my eyes shut. “Oliver, please!”
He laughed richly, and then we were up in the air.
I’m afraid of heights. I used to not even be able to look at a broom or the towers of Hogwarts without getting dizzy. In our Fifth Year, Oliver promised to give me a sort of therapy lesson for getting over my phobia. Since then, he’s been taking me around the pitch on his broom, before games, going higher each time. It took us nearly a year to get a fourth of the way up one of the goal posts. He promises that some day I’ll be completely unafraid.
I suppose it would be a sweet thing for him to do, had he not made it in to such a joke, with trying to scare me and all.
Last time he threatened to do a barrel roll, and I nearly clawed his eyes out.
The day was bright; windy, but bright. My silly hair was pulled back into a poor excuse for a bun, only so it wouldn’t hit Oliver in the face. I heard him breathe in deeply from behind, and I knew he was smiling in that goofy way.
A low voice in my ear said teasingly, “Corie, I can’t contain myself.” Scottish dialect rolled off his tongue like a lazy rain pattering on rolling green hills.
But that didn’t stop me from panicking.
I gripped the handle even tighter. “I really think you can, Oliver!” My voice jumped several octaves. I knew that he wanted to do some sort of trick; he was excited over the upcoming match. “Please don’t, please don’t…,” I begged.
“You won’t fall,” he said defensively. “I swear you’re not going to fall.”
I opened one eye. “What are you going to do?”
“Just go up higher. Above the stands.”
Before I could say anything else, he was already circling higher and higher. I just sat with my jaw open, a half-smile on my face. Soon, the wind was so loud in my ears I could barely hear, but it felt good on my face. Cold. This wasn’t so bad. The sun was brighter, but it was almost a good feeling. I looked back at him over my shoulder and laughed, he smiled back. Then I looked down and nearly screamed.
He grabbed me around the waist, laughing like a madman. “Relax, come on!”
“I’m fine.” I gripped the broom so tightly that I could practically hear a blister forming.
Suddenly, his hand tightened around my waist, and my heart pounded against my ribcage. For a second I forgot that I was practically trembling. But when I looked back, he was staring down towards the ground, with the most horrified-shocked-speechless look I had ever seen.
Following his gaze, I saw what he was gawking at, and let out a pitiful, “Oh….”
Harry Potter was making his way over to the pitch, and his arm was in a sling.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed. It means a lot to me. :) I don’t know how quickly this fic is going to turn out; I expected only to have the first chapter up, as a break from Winter Allium, but I’m getting addicted!
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