Chapter 5 : Spare the Guilt, Spoil the Captain
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Rona was ready to maul something — the more, the merrier. Public humiliation from an enemy followed by not having the delicious satisfaction of slapping said enemy was simply not acceptable.
They held their breath as they scurried up the staircase to the girl's dorm. As Edie shut the door behind her, they released a collective exhale.
"I mean, he has ulterior motives — "
"Merlin's saggy left — "
"I cannot believe I just saw that — "
" — and he looked ridiculous — "
" — and… I still can't believe it!"
" — but that was hot."
"That bastard!" Rona's voice shook the room. Heads turned and mouths snapped shut. She stood by the doorway, fists clenched. "I'm going to… hurt him. A lot!" She couldn't withhold the flush coming to her cheeks. "And… and in the most excruciatingly torturous way possible!"
Grins came to all. It meant only one thing: Oliver was certainly a prat, but it was a damned good snog.
"You forget the entire female population of Hogwarts will go after you if you do that," Penny said dryly, putting a hand on Rona's shoulder. "But if you need help on the torture part, you can sell him to George for a full half hour and see what happens."
"It can't have been that bad, even publicly," Hannah piped in. "Apart from, you know, who you were kissing."
"I'm not you, Hannah," Rona grumbled. Admittedly, she was acting angrier than she really was, ashamed of feeling anything but such for the kiss.
It apparently showed on her face because the next words out of Hannah's mouth were, "I knew it!" The redhead nearly jumped off her bed. A bodice-ripping story was already forming on her lips.
"Merlin no! It's…" Rona unclenched her fists, her fingers wandered aimlessly in the air, trying to grasp at an explanation. "I... can't really say because I don't have anything to compare it to."
"You've… never been kissed before?" Penny asked with evident disbelief. "What about Leon during fourth year?"
She remembered that disasterous date in Madam Puddifoot's. "On the cheek. Almost."
Edie offered her guess. "Michael?"
"That one date? I ditched him halfway through. Hannah made that part up." Rona shook her head. "Trust me, I've had a lot of close calls, but never the actual… you know, lips mashing together part."
Hannah smiled sheepishly. "Well…at least your friends didn't think you were a prude. 'Til now."
Rona stuck out her tongue. "But it's worse than that. I haven't even told you about what an utter arse he was this afternoon," she said, anger bubbling again. "Sodding hypocrite, like he doesn't even realize what pig moves he does, and I'm the unreasonable one selling him to the Weasleys? What's next — he's going to accuse me of falling on his face in the middle of the hallway?"
"I wouldn't mind falling on his face — "
"Edie!" A muffled shout came from the door followed by rapid knocking. "Your brother…. explosion… it's everywhere!"
"Oh not again." Edie groaned. Right next to pancake breakfasts and misplacing homework, explosions were a common occurrence in Edie's life. "Tell me if I miss anything important," she said and flew out the door.
Meanwhile, the source of the shout, fourth year Lydia, now stood by the doorway looking quite out of place, twirling a strand of hair. When Rona met her eyes, she beamed. "I just remembered! Congratulations! I heard about you and Oliver."
"Already?" Rona moaned. Lydia's smile dropped instantly.
Penny's brows furrowed. "From who?"
"I… I heard some other girls talking about it," she stuttered, wide-eyed. "Is there something wrong?"
"That git is going down," Rona snarled, fists slamming down onto the bed.
Lydia jumped back, visibly trembling in fear. She muttered something about someone calling her downstairs and fled before finishing her excuse.
Penny gave Rona a pointed glare. "Oliver kissing you is no excuse to give nightmares to children."
Hannah flopped down on Rona's bed, patting her on the knee. "It can't be that bad…" she said, quoting the line every friend said when things were absolutely hopeless.
Rona didn't even bother to glare at her. She glared at the ceiling. At least she knew who to tell Jason and Duncan to aim for at the Gryffindor game.
Bollocks. The team.
"I need to tell Roger before he throws a fit." Rona pulled herself up and trudged toward the door despite the reluctance in her bones. How did her love life turn into a House-wide emergency?
Upon reaching the common room, Rona scanned the room for anyone from the team. Jeremy and Roger were finishing homework while Jason and Randolph had a train wreck attempt to woo in session.
Before she could call them, a jar of golden-yellow liquid was immediately shoved into her line of vision. Edie was behind it, her brother's ear in her other hand. "Can you do me a favor and get rid of this?" she asked.
"Your brother or the jar?"
"Just the jar, unfortunately. Now come on, Nick," Edie said, sugary sweet, jerking him toward the reading corner. She was the nicest girl Rona knew, and yet she could always instill fear in her brother with the most threatening brand of sisterly love ever found in Hogwarts.
Rona tapped the glass curiously and twisted the lid one turn, fearing the questionable liquid. Thankfully, the aroma that wafted out was definitely butterbeer. She set it down on a table and then remembered what she was down there for.
Turning back to the boys, she signaled to them discreetly to follow her outside — though from her experience that day, discreet was perhaps too much to ask for.
The tower's stairway landing was deserted, at least until the four boys squeezed into the space beside her. They had walked over to her composed, but as soon as the door swung closed, Jason tackled her.
"I thought you said this game of yours had nothing to do with snogging!"
"It. Does. Not," Rona hissed, shoving him off. "Will you shush?"
Meanwhile, Roger began with his reproachful tsk-tsk. "Associating with the enemy…"
"Just let me explain." She back against the railing, "I have enough frustration to fill out the entire Quidditch season right now. To make things brief, he kissed me, and he did it for revenge."
She was met with skeptical looks.
"I have no idea how that connects, or how his brain works, but that's the reason."
Randolph averted his eyes. "If you fancy him, Rona, we could understand…" It was a hit-or-miss statement, and it was clear he struck out. The other boys groaned.
Jason placed a hand on Randolph's shoulder. "Have you got a death wish or something?"
Jeremy snorted. "I don't think it matters. Now it's only a matter of how she's going to kill him."
Jason rubbed his chin. "I've always marked her as a torture sort of person."
"Really?" Roger joined in. "I know she always talks about torture, but I'd think she'd like to get things done quick. Shove 'em out a tower."
"Can't be messy though."
Rona cleared her throat. Three heads turned. "I'd love to stay and watch you all discuss me murdering Randolph, but I'm knackered. I've said all I wanted to say, so people like Roger — " He glanced away. " — don't make a big fuss about it in the morning."
Jason offered the only support he could. "Don't worry. I'm sure no one cares by tomorrow."
"Clearly, you have no idea how the female mind works," she scoffed.
No one argued.
She paced around. "Gossip will spread. I don't even want to think about Oliver Wood ever again. Honestly, how can he cause so many problems?" She sighed and turned to the bronze knocker, which promptly shot her a query.
"Hard of heart, cut from life. Of the hearth, I hold the light. What am I?"
This was going to be a long week. "Wood."
The door swung open.
As they filtered back into the common room, Jeremy tapped Rona on the shoulder. "Want to talk about it?"
In her years growing up, Jeremy had been her occasional confidante whenever she needed a male point of view. She waited until the others were out of earshot. "It was my first kiss, you know," she said absently.
"Eh, those things are overrated." He shrugged. "Maybe he did it 'cause he knows it matters to a girl."
"Well I don't care that much, and it's not like he'd know it was my first anyway. But still..." she sighed.
He nudged her. "Did you like it at least?"
Rona hesitated, which was an answer enough. "Only in a completely technical sense," she said, turning red as she saw his amusement. "Ugh, Merlin, I feel like I just betrayed myself or something. Why are the cute ones such tossers?"
"I take offense to that," he smirked.
She laughed and shook her head. "Whatever. I don't know what his intentions are, but by the time I'm through with him, his boggart will be me."
They exchanged goodbyes, and Rona resumed a night of studying Runes and as little Oliver as possible.
"…can't…get…stain…out…" Edie tapped her wand furiously at the splotchy stain on her blouse.
It was the morning rush in the seventh year dorm, when they scrambled to brush their teeth, fill up their schoolbags, and collectively make the room look as if hippogriff charged through it. Rona jumped around trying to put on socks while nudging Hannah to the side, fighting for a look in the mirror. She wasn't one to try much in making herself look nice, but like every other girl who denied caring about their appearance, she had something they were self-conscious about. For her, it was her hair, which Hannah once stated as her "last claim to femininity".
Penny beckoned to Edie. "Give it here." She took the blouse in her hands and examined the stain. "Butterbeer?"
"All over the broom closet. I would've been happier if I found Nick snogging some girl there, you know, at least have a healthy social life, but no — " She shook her head. " — he was making butterbeer."
"Making it? Why? It's not that hard to come by at school if you know the right people." Penny tapped her wand at the stain with one quick swipe. "Tergio!" She handed the stain-free blouse back to Edie, ignoring Rona and Hannah's sudden interest in the conversation.
"You will be, uh, sharing this information right?" said Hannah, with all the subtlety of an eager five-year-old.
"Nice try." Penny slipped in the last few clips into her hair and headed for the doorway. "Now I've got to go. I told Percy I'd be downstairs ten minutes ago. Someone save me a muffin or toast or something."
"Oh! Wait up!" Edie ran after her, still trying to stuff her feet into her shoes. "I've got to go check on my brother again. Heard another little plot cooking up this morning…"
"Such a rush, Penny," Hannah said as she strode out of the bathroom. "I'm making Howie wait as long as I want."
"Howie?" Penny raised an eyebrow at the mention of Hannah's newest arm candy.
"As in Hot Howie."
"That boy doesn't deserve any sort of alliteration."
Hannah rolled her eyes, continuing to take her time to pack up her things. "He's not so bad. 'sides, he asked me out for a Hogsmeade date next weekend. Even if he's a nutter, I still get one free meal." She was a girl with her priorities in order.
"Fine." Penny tapped her foot impatiently. "Can we just go now?"
Rona swung her bag over her shoulder, running her hand through her books to make sure she had the ones she needed. A lot of books for a lot of stress.
And then it hit her. All of her friends had some place to go.
"None of you are going to breakfast?" she said, the panic already slipping into her voice.
The response consisted of blank stares.
"You're leaving me alone to a ruthless crowd of girls?" The stares remained woefully apathetic. Her voice rose to a near-shrill. "What if Oliver tries to make another scene again?!"
"Enjoy it while it lasts?" Hannah grinned.
And so, Rona soon found herself walking down the hallway to the Great Hall alone. There were promises of "It'll only take me fifteen minutes tops," but she knew fifteen minutes never meant fifteen minutes.
At first, Rona thought that maybe she overreacted, but then she hit throngs of Gryffindor girls, whose penchant for rumors was right there next to being courageous and daring.
"You heard? Well 'course, everyone has. A girl like her…"
"And fitty Oliver Wood! I know! And right after that whole bit with Fred and George."
"Absolutely bonkers, pigeons and all. Think he lost a bet?"
"Makes sense. Oliver and that quiet thing? Complete opposites. It's not going to happen otherwise. Oh... that's her."
Rona continued to walk as if she heard nothing, but she couldn't help tabulate the school's impression of her. She couldn't believe she was actually hearing that she wasn't good enough for Oliver. But there was nothing she could do; the tide of rumors didn't stop for one girl, and each piece of gossip slammed the words "You're a nobody" in her face.
Oliver's revenge arrived at last.
As if it were a test of her sanity, the Gryffindor Quidditch captain waltzed through archway to the Great Hall. When their eyes met, it was like as if the winter outside gusted into the hallway and every person's lips froze in anticipation.
Rona kept her head held high and walked without a glance toward him. Let me go by. Leave me be, she thought furiously.
Just as she nearly got all the way past him and his smirk, he tugged her arm, swinging her around to face him. "Where do you think you're going?" The twinkle in his eye used to enamor mocked her. A silent 'Ooooh' pulsed through the crowd.
"In case you haven't noticed, I do eat, Oliver. You're in my way," she uttered frostily.
He stepped closer. She stepped back. "I can be in your way more often if you like."
"You know what? Never mind. I don't need to eat." Rona turned but she found a hand on her shoulder. This time, she wasn't going to play soft. Want to play with rumors, Ollie? She whirled around, drawing her wand, and pointed it at his throat. "If you can't figure out when a girl's not interested then you deserve to be at the end of this wand."
The twinkle disappeared instantly. Rona huffed and resumed her flight, hoping she had settled the situation once and for all, but she knew that someone as stubborn as Oliver was sure to follow her. Her steps clattered back to the hallway she came from, quickening, and no matter how curious she was, she didn't turn her head to see if he was following. She just needed to be away.
That was how she ended up on a fourth floor corridor, forehead on the wall, trying literally to knock Oliver Wood out of her head. It was worth the lost brain cells. By the tenth thwap, she swore the sounds were getting louder.
Except they were footsteps.
She sighed and turned to face his satisfied smile a few meters away. "You've gotten predictable."
"As have you," Oliver returned. He leaned against the wall, reminiscent of their first meeting. "Nice little show back there."
Nice condescending tone. "Thanks," she said, brandishing a fake smile. "You're lucky, of course. You don't need to act to be a prat." She made no sign of her discomfort from his proximity. "I see you still have no perception of personal space."
"You've got nothing but cheap tricks," she spat.
Oliver towered over her with a sickeningly triumph, and she couldn't stand to be shadowed by his arrogance. She tried to brush past, but he blocked the way.
"Having fun? Doesn't feel so brilliant on this end of things, does it?”
There it was again. The accusations. "What the hell have you got against me?"
A low mocking laugh emanated from his throat. "You spy for Roger, don't you?"
"Just because of yesterday? Don't make assumptions. It was a coincidence." She tried to push his arm away, but he wouldn't budge.
"Coincidence, of course," he scoffed.
She narrowed her eyes, grip tightening around his wrist. "Don't pretend like you know anything about me."
"I know more than you think." He moved closer, his sneer as predatory as ever. "You like to play games, don't you? I'll give you one. Fess up some info about your team and I'll call it even."
Rona pushed to escape more desperately than ever as she saw the makings of a trap before her. "Go ask the Strategist," she hissed, remembering that he still didn't know her identity.
He twisted his arm around, swiftly releasing himself, and now her wrist was the one caught in his. "You know plenty."
He thought that he had her cornered. That between the choice of fight or flight, she would choose the latter. But no matter how much he thought he knew, he still underestimated her.
With her other hand, Rona gripped her wand and lifted it to his chest. "Impedimenta!"
She didn't want to hurt him — she dueled with words, not curses — but emotions unleashed, she could not help it. He slammed back against the opposite wall harder than she intended, rattling the nearby portraits.
Rona kept her wand pointed at him as he scrambled up, clutching his bruised shoulder. "Shady deal you can't keep, ruin my first kiss in front of the whole school, blatant extortion — all this without even blinking."
Confusion blanketed his face, features loosening. "Your first kiss?"
"Oh because that's the most important thing on my mind right now." She laughed bitterly, her jaw clenched tight. "Never mind that you're bloody ruining my life right now. I'm sorry how insignificant I am compared to your next Quidditch win!"
"You don't understand — "
"I'm not finished!" Her wand jabbed into his chest, making his eyes fly to hers again. "I thought well of you once. A good captain, if nothing else. I never had a problem with you. I know tons of blokes worse than you. You were just playing around. You thought I wouldn't mind. And for awhile I didn't." She feigned shock. "Oh, the mousy little Ravenclaw has a sense of humor. Surprise, surprise. But you crossed the line."
"I'm sorry! And…" He held his hands up, opening his mouth to wordless breaths. "I'm sorry."
"No, you're not," she spat. "You just want to get rid of me." The anger finally reached its peak, and the fall down drained her of any further retaliation. Tears pricked her eyes and she took her chance to duck away from him and run toward the stairwell.
He called after her but she didn't stop running. She wiped her eyes as soon as she had the chance, calculating the quickest way to her class, hiding in crowds and never looking back.
At last, she found a friendly face in Hannah by Flitwick's door, ready for her morning Charms class. Hannah practically jumped on Rona to inspect her eyes. "Where have you been? I was looking for you and — were you crying?!"
If there was anything Rona hated more, it was being found crying. She scrambled for an excuse, flashing Hannah a sheepish smile. "As far as Oliver is concerned. Amortentia may be the fastest way to a bloke's heart, but tears… fastest way to his conscience."
A/N I'd like to note now that there's a lot of unabashed lying in this fic. The two main characters... you really can't take what they do or say at face value. It's quite easy to get confused with all the lies being thrown around, so I hope it's not too bad!
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