Chapter 1 : The Secret Has a Temper
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Canon discrepancy alert: Roger and Penny are seventh years. Calendar is fairly accurate. Lots of finagling with the holidays.
Warning: this fic contains plucky heroines, bad puns, snarky banter, and oh yes, lies. Lots and lots of lies.
It was exactly thirty-eight minutes into the Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff game, and Rona had already shouted enough profanities to make a dementor blush.
She craned her head out of the booth, as black swathes of hair whipped into her face at gale speeds. Her hands clenched the railing until they were white at the knuckles. She was but one of the dozen other riotous Quidditch fans a hundred feet in the air.
"Randolph Burrow, you better not be doing what I think you're doing!"
The fifth year Chaser who was the recipient of her threat sped across the pitch, Quaffle in hand, but his flight didn't last for long before a Bludger struck him in the side.
"Ohhhh! And Burrow takes a hit! Possession goes to Hufflepuff — "
Rona slammed her fists down, fury silencing her ears to the rest of the commentary. She promptly jabbed Penny to her right. "Did you see that? He — "
"Yes, yes," Penny dismissed, waving a hand at her. Her eyes didn't stray from the game.
"But you know what I told him! Charging through the beaters is as far from what I told him — "
"Just watch the game."
"But it cost us the goal — " A tussle by their goalposts diverted Rona's attention. She opened her mouth wide to yell again, "ROGER, FOCUS — "
"Rona, if you don't shut up now" — Penny whirled around, eyes narrowing — "I will go Silencio on you." She turned back with a huff. "Always like this at our first game... Jordan's already one too many commentators..."
Penny would follow through with her threat; never doubt the prefect. Rona's attention flicked back to the game, mouth drawn into a pout and twitching every few seconds with each intolerable mistake.
As the one who voluntarily spent her time and effort on the team as their spy, tactician, and coach, Rona did not appreciate when the team failed to follow her plays. They were carefully planned and expounded, taking all possibilities into account with all possible back-ups and precautions. But expecting them to stick to the plan was out of the question, especially since the team was full of twits who always thought that their own ideas were good ideas.
Three years and they still haven't learned.
When she first entered Hogwarts, she didn't pay much attention to Quidditch at all until Penny, the biggest Quidditch fan to ever grace the Ravenclaw House, filled her in on the fuss. Thwacking each other with lead balls seemed, well, rather barbaric. Then Rona found out that barbaric was deliciously competitive.
It was soon after that Penny noticed Rona's knack for anticipating moves. Well, more accurately, it was difficult to ignore Rona's babbling about how the team's plays were obvious and in dire need of a few brain cells. Penny dragged her to then-Captain Cornelius "Corny" Quint (really to shut her friend up), demanding that Rona be put to use.
And so she was. Over time, it became more than a few tips — full-fledged plays, attending every practice, intel on other teams.
Her help didn't matter, however, if they kept ignoring it.
Rona managed to keep her mouth shut for a full three minutes past Randolph's glaring error, enduring multiple atrocities committed against her play.
But when Randolph attempted to muscle past the Beaters again, it was too much.
"THAT DAFT LITTLE mmmphh — "
Rona's eyes flew to Penny. Penny was tucking her wand back under her robes. "Much better."
The boys' locker room was in a state of chaos not unlike the second circle of Hell. Rona figured there was no harm in adding a little more.
"Why didn't you stick to the plan?" she growled at Randolph, jabbing him in the chest.
She had snuck in the back entrance after the match. Locker infiltration was typical, certainly done enough so that she hardly bat an eye at the six boys in various states of undress. She liked to think of her presence as a moral booster.
Randolph winced, trying to hide behind his locker door. "Look, I know I should've, but it was just such an opportunity. Maybe you didn't see from the stands, but from my point of view, I mean it's just something you need to have seen and well... and.." He stopped babbling upon a single look at her. "C'mon we won, didn't we?"
"Just barely!" Her voice rose as Randolph shrank. "And you know why we won? Because Cho was following the plan. Jeremy was following the plan. Even Jason, who never listens to what I say, even he was following the plan! If he hadn't bludgered the hell out of Hufflepuff's Chasers, it would've been hell to regain the Quaffle after your little opportunity, not to mention — "
"There isn't anything else to mention," Jason interrupted in a gleefully arrogant voice. Rona spun around to find the scrawny sixth year, lashing Randolph in the face with her hair.
Jason beamed, striking a pose, "I bludgered those Chasers damn well and that's all anyone will talk about."
Rona rolled her eyes but couldn't help but smile. Glancing back at Randolph, he was closed-eye and reciting a mantra of 'please-don't-kill-me-have-mercy'.
She huffed. "I can't let him off that easily though, can I?"
One of Randolph's eyes flicked open. "Of course you can."
Jeremy, who had been standing by, finally came to his aid. "Come off it," said the sandy-haired seventh year, ambling over to place a hand on her shoulder. "He was stupid, but he made up for it by those last-minute goals. And we did win, you know."
Rona grumbled, "Yeah, yeah, we won. Good job guys." Then with a smirk and audacious lift of the chin, she added, "Told you the Finking Filch maneuver works."
"Aaaaand she's back, Davies and gentlemen!" Jason bellowed in a mock-announcer voice as he walked down the aisle toward her, holding an imaginary microphone. "How does it feel to be returning from a round of Randolph-level idiocy?"
Before she could say, 'Not as bad as your level of idiocy', Roger popped up from behind the back row, raising a brow. "Did you just call me a lady, Samuels?" Before Jason could reply, Roger turned to Rona, schematics of the next game on mind. "It was a great plan you cooked up for us this time, but next up are the Slytherins, and they've been training hard this year. Can you think up something by next week? I was thinking we use the Slay the Snake strategy that nearly won us the game last year."
Rona snorted. Roger was always business, which meant that he always had a broomstick up his arse. "Nearly. We'll need something better than that. Besides, I heard this winter's going to be rough and that strategy won't work nearly as well in bad weather."
She was already thinking up a play, positioning imaginary chasers and beaters on the Quidditch pitch of her mind. Roger at his goalposts. Grant and Jason to the right. Slytherins would likely fly here, here, and —
"Rona?" Jeremy snapped his fingers.
She was about to say, 'Jeremy, what are you doing over there? You're supposed to be over here or else the beaters can aim at you!' and two of her hands hung in the air, plucking players from position to position. Snickering filled the room and a deep blush tinted her cheeks as she shot everyone a glare.
Hiding his amusement behind a hand, Jeremy held out her Musings of a Half-Breed book. "Shouldn't you get going?" he said. "To meet Penny?"
Rona winced. "Oh right." She imagined Penny was currently tapping her foot in the same disapproving manner Rona had directed to Randolph earlier.
Grabbing her book, she spun around toward the entrance, muttering her goodbyes.
Penny was indeed waiting outside, never one to enter the dreaded mess of the locker rooms willingly. She had an unusually wide-eyed smile on her face.
Rona trudged up to her and said flatly, "Spill it."
The smile grew a little wider. "Well," she said, taking the first stride back to the castle, "I've overheard that Oliver Wood is looking for you."
She blinked. "Why? Something bludger him?" They were acquaintances at best, and what she knew of him was strictly Quidditch-related.
"Not you you," Penny said, rolling her eyes. "He's on the hunt for whoever has been making our team so bloody spectacular."
Rona's brows raised. "He's found me out?"
Her aid to the team had still gone unknown to most of Hogwarts, despite her propensity for yelling at games. It was never meant to be a secret, but a mere consequence of her unassuming appearance, allowing perks such as conveniently 'reading' at the pitch while other teams were practicing without any suspicion arising. While she did not terribly care if anyone found out since it was her last year helping the team, she was particularly bothered it was Oliver Wood who was searching for her. They still had a game left with Gryffindor.
"No, no. He just knows someone like you exists," said Penny. "It's funny. I always expected that if anyone found out, it'd be him. Only person more utterly obsessive than you are, really."
"Obsessed, I'm not obsessed..." Rona trailed off, choosing to stick out her tongue instead. "Oliver would marry his broomstick if it were legal. And you're one to talk, Miss Never-missed-a-game-in-six-years."
Penny held a hand up. "I love Quidditch, but I will never voluntarily endure Roger that much to improve our team."
"True fan, my arse."
"No, it's called minimizing my desire to strangle him."
They entered the castle and Rona's face fell as her eyes rested upon the Gryffindor captain walking out from the Great Hall. He was definitely looking for something — or someone — the way his eyes were roving.
And just her luck, they stopped on her.
The pit of her stomach sank. Maybe Penny was wrong. Maybe he already found her out. There was no other reason for him to be looking at her right then. They never talked, but once something Quidditch-related popped up, Oliver was sure to be there.
He headed in their direction. He waved, calling out, "I've been looking for you!"
She scrambled to think of an escape route. Her problem with Oliver was that he was quite fit, and fit Quidditch blokes meant trouble. There were stories about how they weaseled information out of girls with a smile and a wink. Even Roger had done it before. While Rona was well-equipped to repel such advances — all one needs is a brain — she cringed at the thought of being on the receiving end of anyone's attempted charms.
Penny, who was always poised, tilted her head as if she were oh-so-pleasantly surprised to find him. "Oliver."
Oliver held out a hand. "I was wondering if you wanted to talk Quidditch — "
"I'm busy," Rona interrupted suddenly, spouting the first vague excuse that came to mind.
It was only then that she noticed he had been addressing Penny. He hadn't even been facing Rona — until now. She mentally slapped herself. You daft girl. Other than the coincidence that she saw him right as they were discussing him, there was no reason to think he was looking for specifically her. Rona's gaze flicked to Penny's, pleading for help.
Penny placed a hand to her own forehead, mouthing, 'You're so stupid.'
Thankfully, when Rona glanced back at Oliver, he just smiled, if awkwardly. "Oh sorry," he said, "I'm talking to Penny."
"Whoops! Silly me," Rona exclaimed, as if it had not already been obvious. She cleared her throat. "Well, you two... talk. I'm going to have fun with Musings of a Half-Breed. Thrilling night and everything. Mintin's about to discover his biological father, and I need to know what happens." She patted the cover of her book in the most purposeful way possible.
Oliver stared at her as if she sounded like a complete loon, which she did, but she didn't care much at the moment. She just hoped he would let her go without question.
"O...kay then," he finally said, giving her a wave.
Rona spun around as quickly as she could, leaving for the Ravenclaw tower, breathing easy only when they were out of sight.
Close calls were not to be taken for granted.
As soon as she arrived in the common room, she curled up on her a seat to finish the last chapter of her book. Though she fumbled through her excuse to Oliver, it didn't make it any less true. She couldn't wait to find out the Mintin's ancestry after three hundred pages of suspense and plot twists.
Roger passed by a few times, attempting to talk about the game, as was Randolph, though he veered more toward groveling. But both failed in attracting much attention from her. Perhaps it was due to her place in Ravenclaw, but she was bookish even compared to the House's standards (such was the consequence of growing up next to a library). She loved reading as much as Quidditch. On occasion, her interests collided, like when she used books to shut Jason up during a practice session, projectile-style.
She did not look up until she finished the chapter, which revealed how Mintin's father died tragically in a freak baking accident. Penny sat across from her, hands folded in her lap.
Rona shut her book uneasily. Penny had that odd smile on her face again.
"Oliver's looking for you," said the blonde, grinning as she tapped her fingers against her knee. "He hasn't been bludgered. He really is looking for you. You you."
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