“So what’s your plan?” Alicia bounced onto my bed, practically oozing energy.
I grunted. In a ladylike way, of course.
“I know you, Katie Elizabeth Bell. You have a plan.”
I heaved the covers up over my head, a tricky feat with Alicia sitting on them, then stuck and arm out to retrieve my watch from my bedside table.
“Six thirty? Are you kidding me?” I wrestled to get more of the covers. Not happening. “Alicia. What do you want from me at six thirty in the morning?”
“I have training. You know. Quidditch. Oliv -”
“I suggest you go then.”
“It’s ridiculous.” Angelina joined the congregation on my bed. Would have been just dandy if it was an acceptable hour. But it was not. “I don’t know what he expects us to accomplish without a third chaser.”
“Well can you go accomplish it away from my bed? Some of us don’t have to be up for another couple of hours…”
“Katie Eliz -”
“You already full-named me this morning. Don’t overdo it.”
“Tell me what your plan is!” Alicia complained, yanking the covers away from me. It was cold. Because it was early. Ridiculously early.
“What do I need a plan for?”
Alicia’s eyes narrowed. “Come on. It’s been four days since you cruelly rejected him. You must have some sort of a motive for it.”
“I did not reject him. I rejected the offer. I don’t want to play Quidditch.”
“It’s the same thing, in his head. He can’t separate himself from it.”
“Go to training, please.”
“Look, Kate. You’ve made your point. You’re not joining without making a statement, etcetera. But you’ve done that. The poor boy’s practically pulling his hair out. And you did used to be friends.”
“I’m not making a point. I don’t want to play.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was the truth, or a lie, or somewhere in between. “And yes. We did used to be friends. Emphasis on the past tense.”
“Best friends.” Ange added, always a fan of the emotional blackmail.
“A long time ago.” I said, rolling over onto my stomach and nestling into my pillow.
“A year ago.” Alicia corrected, “I suppose things change in a year. This time last year you had a slightly warped and dysfunctional friendship. And this time last year you wanted to play Quidditch. Now, neither. Could it be that the two are inextricably linked?”
“Aren’t the two of you going to be late?” I asked, my voice muffled by my pillow, “You know how forgiving and considerate Ollie can be when it comes to punctuality.”
“Oh, forgiving and considerate? And you’re such a noble example of both, aren’t you?” Alicia asked, not missing a beat.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” It was a lie. But they couldn’t see my face, so it didn’t count.
"Oh no?" Alicia sounded slightly dangerous. I sensed that some home truths were about to be whacked out on me. "Want a little reminder, do we, Katie dear? Now, where to begin -"
“He will kill us, ‘Licia.” Ange picked up my watch from where I’d thrown it in disgust and checked the time, saving me from death by blunt truths in the mean time. “We’re supposed to be there right now.”
“Not if we bring this one with us.” Alicia nodded her head at me as if I couldn’t hear her.
I opened my mouth to object but Ange beat me to it. “She’s not coming. You heard her. She’s going to make him sweat for a bit longer.”
“I’m not making him sweat.” I gave up on saying things in a defensive tone, it clearly wasn’t getting the desired point across. However I wasn't above throwing myself over onto my pillows dramatically.
“Nonsense.” Alicia stood up, and I took the opportunity to reclaim the bed covers. “Something’s going on. One of you has a plan. This is weird. I don’t like this new game.”
“It’s not a game.”
"Honey, it's always a game with Oliver."
Well, I couldn't argue with that. He was the definition of competition.
"And I always stay out of it." I reminded her.
There was a slight pause.
"I don't trust her." Licia stated, matter-of-factly. As if I weren't present. As if she hadn't just leapt on me, stolen my covers and threatened me all in the space of ten minutes.
To my indignance, Ange agreed with her. "No, you're right." Bloody hell. Mrs. Rational was agreeing with Mrs. Irrational. This was a rare occurance. "Something's different this time."
"It's not." I announced, feebly, from my position underneath the covers.
"Then why haven't you just put the tosser in his place like you always do?" Licia demanded.
"Always did." I corrected. "Ollie and I just don't really talk any more. We're past all that. I guess we've just grown up."
"What absolute bollocks." Licia scoffed.
It was worth a try.
"Is that really so hard to believe?" I complained.
"Yes." They both replied in unison. Well, that told me.
"Believe what you want, ladies." I yawned widely. "But you're wrong. It's not all a game, it's not all a conspiracy and it's not all a competition. Ollie and I are right back where we've been for the past year, indifferent to one another."
"Right. So when he put his pride on the line asking you so humbly to rejoin the team, he was talking to the armchair, was he? My mistake."
I grunted in reply.
And, thank God, they gave up.
“She’s precious isn’t she?” I heard their voices drifting behind them as they made their way downstairs.
Sometimes I wished they’d just listen to me when I told them they were wrong.
More than that, I wish they were wrong.
It goes back to First Year, Ollie and me. Well, my first year, his second. My very first morning, even.
I’d been late for breakfast and ran down to the Great Hall in a tearing rush, absolutely terrified. But then I hadn’t dared go in. I didn’t know then, that the teachers didn’t care what time you got to breakfast as long as you got to class on time. I’d been told breakfast at 8, so I thought it was be there at 8 or… well, who knew what punishment to expect in this magical world?
So I’d waited outside, starving hungry but not about to go in late and get told off in front of everybody. But so hungry.
Then this tall kid had strolled up behind me, where I was peering nervously around the huge, heavy doors. I hadn’t noticed him right away, but when his voice made me jump and turn around, it was apparent that he’d been standing behind me for a while.
“What are you waiting for?” He’d asked, in his lazy voice that always seemed like you’d just woken him up, “Going in?”
I hadn’t answered right away, still leaning a little towards petrified. It was my first day in a new school in a new world and here was this really tall boy talking to me. I didn’t know then that he was only twelve, he’d seemed huge to me.
“Ok then,” He’d shrugged when I didn‘t answer, sidestepped me and went into the hall, “Well I’m hungry, anyway.”
I’d scuttled after him, practically hiding in his shadow so that teachers wouldn’t see me. The only places left at the Gryffindor table were at the very end, and Tall Boy took a seat immediately and quickly snatched up the last two slices of toast from a rack in the middle of the table and put them on his plate before the food vanished.
Then he’d looked up and caught my eye. He chucked a slice from his own plate onto the one opposite and said, “I’d get that down you before lessons start, if I were you.”
I’d stared. He was just giving it to me? The way he’d swallowed his own slice in about three bites made it obvious that one slice of toast wasn’t the normal amount he’d have for breakfast, and yet he was willing to sacrifice that for me? There had to be a catch. People didn’t just give things away for free. Not where I was from.
He’d noticed me staring. “I’m serious. You look like any more stress would just about send you over the edge, and I’ll tell you now that if your stomach makes any peculiar noises in class you’re not going to live it down for a while.”
“Thank you.” I was still wary. But people were getting up to go to their lessons, so I sat quickly and bolted down the piece of toast before digging my timetable out of my bag and searching for my first class.
It was Potions, in the dungeons. I’ll always remember. Seeing the word ‘dungeons’ on my timetable was daunting enough, but what was worse was that I had no idea where it was and I couldn’t spot another first year still in the Hall.
I’d just been getting myself sufficiently panicked when the piece of parchment was plucked from my hands.
“Dungeons,” Tall Boy had said, “Out where we came in and take the door past the marble staircase.”
“Thank you,” I’d said again. There were the only words I’d spoken to him thus far. Always a keen conversationalist, even at the age of eleven.
“No problem. You might want to hurry. Snape’s not going to let you off just because it’s your first day.” Ironic, it seems now. Ollie warning me that someone wouldn’t let you off easily.
“I’m Oliver, by the way.” He handed my timetable back.
“Katie.” I’d replied, before dashing off in the direction he’d pointed me.
He was nice to me. That’s why we’d become friends.
But things change. Ollie was no longer nice, and I was no longer timid. I could claim that we just grew apart, that it was inevitable. But that would be a lie, too.
It was true that once the niceness and the shyness were out of the equation, we were most definitely not compatible. Ollie had always been arrogant, it’s just that it had struck me as confidence to begin with, and he was being nice to me - helping me - so I could overlook it. But that arrogance was given the opportunity to develop even more when he started playing Quidditch. Because he was good. Bloody good. I can admit that.
But with his arrogance and me no longer appreciating it, we probably shouldn’t have stayed friends even then.
But we did.
Even though he was growing steadily more egotistical and I was growing steadily more intolerant of it, and both of us hideously stubborn to boot, we were still friends. I’d always called him my best friend, without hesitation.
Because people did ask. A lot. They could never be sure whether the petty sniping and mocking insults were a result of a close friendship or a great dislike. To be honest, I suppose, it could be either.
Then the trivial insults turned into arguments, and the arguments led to hexing and God knows what else.
But even then, we were still friends.
So anyway, I could claim that it was years of growing apart that made us gradually aware of a mutual dislike. Others tend to blame the incident.
I continue to insist that the incident was just an eye-opener to what a complete tool my so-called best friend was. I suppose, in a way, it was the last straw.
But looking back now, I reflected as I took my seat in Charms, I should probably be grateful.
Ange and Alicia entered the room just as Professor Flitwick was about to close the door.
“Settle down, girls, and we’ll get started,” He ushered them to the desk they shared with me and clambered up onto his chair, as was his custom.
“You’re late -” I was about to inform them smugly, when Alicia turned to glare at me full on. A shocked bout of laughter involuntarily left my lips, gaining the attention of the entire room. Professor Flitwick looked over enquiringly.
I smiled in what Ollie used to call my ‘evil’ way. It wasn’t evil. It was just my teacher-smile. He just called most things I did evil.
“Sorry, Professor. I sneezed?” It wasn’t one of my better excuses. But it worked. They always do. He carried on.
My attention could be directed at more important things. Namely, Alicia’s black eye.
“Sweetheart, why and how do you have a black eye, and why have you not got it fixed?” I asked, more meekly, knowing she would be put out by my amusement at it.
“It was my fault,” I noticed for the first time that Angelina looked incredibly guilty. “I’m so sorry, ’Licia.”
“I forgave you the first time, Ange.” Alicia said, with a brief smile before her expression hardened again. “And it’s not your fault at all, it was Git-Captain’s bloody fault…”
“What did he do?” I asked, amused.
“Decided that we should try out the Hawkshead Formation. With two of us. You’d think that after seven years of schooling the prat would know how to count. You need three chasers for the formation and he knows it. Was chatting some nonsense about how we could interchange positions and Merlin only knows what else. Anyway, the short and short of it is Ange elbowed me. And we didn’t have time to go to the hospital wing.”
“You didn’t have time? You were out there for two and half hours?” I was surprised. That was excessive even for Git-Captain.
“Captain dear wasn’t in the chirpiest of moods.” Ange said, darkly.
“Oh,” I flicked a few pages in my book to appear nonchalant. “Why’s that?”
I could feel Alicia’s glare on me. “Yes, I wonder why.” Her voice dripped with sarcastic, fake dumb-girl tone, “It couldn’t be the fact that he’s got three and a half weeks to prepare for the Ravenclaw match, no third chaser and no talent to choose from apart from one extremely pig-headed little toe-rag who is refusing him as some sort of personal punishment. Could it?”
I looked up at her, and there was something in her dark eyes that was more serious that her mocking tone. It made me feel guilty all over again. And I didn’t like feeling guilty. Especially when I was sure that I was right.
“I’ve said I’m sorry,” I said, for what felt like the hundredth time. “I just -”
“Don’t want to play,” Ange recited. “Why do you keep saying that? You used to love Quidditch -”
“For the whole month that I was on the team, you mean?” I was speaking in my so-called ‘evil’ voice again. It came naturally to me.
“Kate.” Alicia said, “We know he was a wanker about that. Really. You think we’ve let him forget it for the past year?”
“That’s not the reason I don’t want to play.” I insisted. It wasn’t. Fully.
“Then what is?”
Well I wasn’t going to say that. I wasn’t going to tell them the second reason and confirm all of their knowing little comments about games. Besides, they were only kind of right.
They accepted my silence wearily.
“Fine. We’ll beg.” Alicia said, as if it were a great chore.
“Don’t.” I advised.
“Well what else is going to make you see?”
“See what?” I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
“That we need you.” Ange said, “Look, forget about Oliver for a second -”
I bit back a retort questioning why it would have anything to do with Ollie. They saw right through it every time.
“- This is about the team. The house. You’re not just punishing him, playing this stupid little game you've started, you’re punishing Gryffindor. With you, this could be our chance to win the Cup for Gryffindor for the first time in seven years. Do you want to jeopardise that?”
There was a short silence following her words.
“Quite a speech, Ange. Might have worked better if Git Captain hadn’t tried to pull that crap on me the other night.” I might have sounded pretty blasé but in reality, the more they went on about it, the guiltier I was becoming. I couldn’t look at them.
“Look, I can’t. I can’t, ok?” I rubbed my face agitatedly. I couldn’t listen to it anymore. “I’m really sorry but I can’t do this. It’s not because I want to piss Ollie off, it's not about whatever game or competition you seem to think is going on. Really. I… I just can’t.”
My little outburst seemed to shock them. “Can’t what?” Ange asked, tentatively.
I sighed, “I can’t… I can’t be on the team. I can’t just go back like nothing’s wrong and that I’ve totally forgotten what happened last year, and I can’t have him as my Captain. I can’t.”
“It’s not like that, lovely,” Ange said, gently, “He’s not completely dense. Or heartless. He knows he did wrong. He’s just as stubborn as you when it comes to admitting it.”
“Well it’s not like he’s going to have to do everything I say, is it? He’s the Captain. I’m the one that’s going to have to do everything he says…”
“Going to?” The girls brightened up.
“I mean would have to. If I joined.” I rectified. “I’d have to… listen to him. Let him tell me what to do. I couldn’t -” I pulled a face expressing my disgust.
“Like I said,” Ange had a small smile on her face, “He’s not completely dense. And he knows you. I don’t think he’s quite hoping for an easy ride. He’s never underestimated you.”
I just raised an eyebrow.
“I meant… I meant in terms of stubbornness. He knows what he’d be dealing with.” Ange hurriedly corrected herself. "Or, well. He thought he did. Before you started playing him. It's completely thrown him, you know, this ice-queen facade you've started..."
The guilt was still there. I could feel myself slowly giving in, and hated it.
“But he’s not even trying to fill the spot.” I tried to push my weakening aside and voiced what had been annoying me the most since when he’d tried to talk to me the other night. “He’s just carrying on as normal as if he reckons I’ll just turn up to practice one day, smug little tosser…”
“Believe me,” Alicia rolled her eyes, emphasising the puffy bruising as if to make a point, “He’s anything but smug right now.”
“He may be arrogant, and stubborn, and too bloody proud for his own good,” Ange said, “But he isn’t just doing this for himself. He does really care about winning the Cup for Gryffindor too. You know he’s wanted that since he first joined the team.”
“Yeah, but that professional Quidditch deal wouldn’t go amiss either, would it?” I pointed out.
“And who wouldn’t want that?” Ange pointed out right back, “And he deserves it, you know he does. But he’s going to look a fool in front of the scouts if he can’t even find himself a half-decent chaser. That’s his career you’re talking about. Now, you can hate him all you want, but do you really want to ruin his life?”
“I appreciate the dramatic lectures today, Ange,” I smiled, avoiding the point of her speech. “Can we expect more inspirational titbits throughout the year or is it a one day thing?”
“That all depends if they work,” She grinned, unfazed.
The smile remained on my face as I glanced up at the board to check which page we were meant to be on, and flicked forward a few in my textbook.
“Well?” Alicia wasn’t as patient as Ange, who I knew was letting her influence sink in.
“I’ll let you know.” I replied.
I didn’t want to think about it. Not at all. If I wanted to kid myself I could pretend that I’d just said that to get Ange and Alicia off my back. Because it worked.
They didn’t say a word that could be construed as a means of persuading me to join the team for the next three days. It would have been peaceful. If there wasn’t a raging conflict in my head.
It wasn't a game. Not like they were assuming. Sure, playing games was Ollie's thing, but I never joined in. I never let myself get involved. Because playing games with Ollie would be both outright stupid and dangerous. It would. Because if there was one thing he did badly it was lose. And I didn't want to be on the recieving end of that.
But, as I pointed out, it must have killed him to have to come up and ask me, straight off like that. I hadn’t expected that. I’d thought he would have gone indirectly through the girls or the twins first, at least.
But he hadn’t. He’d been unusually straight-forward and even uncertain, which was something I’d rarely seen in him ever. A little endearing, even. Well, it would have been. If he wasn’t such an inherent jerk.
But still, there was a essence of truth to what the girls had been saying. It was selfish of me to do this to the team, and the house (I internally rolled my eyes at Ange’s dramatic ‘house spirit’ rant). I hadn’t watched try-outs but from what the girls had reported, the level had been abysmal. When they’d told me I’d been half guiltily pleased about what Ollie would have to resort to, and half dismayed that it meant that I didn’t have an excuse. If there’d been someone half decent I might’ve been able to avoid this whole thing without the guilt.
What it ultimately came down to was whether I could actually do it. I wasn’t just being difficult when I’d told the girls I couldn’t. Obeying Ollie’s orders was not something that came naturally to me. Even if I wanted to. Which I most certainly didn’t. In the short month that I’d had to… well, there were a few (hundred) minor disagreements. But, as I said then and will stand by now, they weren’t that bad. Only a few ended up in the hospital wing.
When I actually made my decision, it was an accident. But they way the words just slipped out made me wonder if at some level I’d known all along.
I saw him as I was making my way up to the dormitories. I always noticed him if we were in the same room. An instinct, I suppose, for being friends with someone for so long. Even now.
His dark head was bent over a coffee table by the fire, the flames casting patterns of light and shadow on his face. The table was littered with scrolls of parchment, one of which he was muttering under his breath and poking with his wand. When I got close enough I could see that it wasn’t school work, it was some kind of annotated diagram. Quidditch. Obviously.
I was planning on going straight up the stairs, honestly. He was so absorbed in his… whatever the hell it was… he probably wouldn’t have noticed. And even if he did, we weren’t talking these days anyway. The request the other night had been a one off.
But, for whatever reason, I didn’t. Maybe, like I said, I’d been considering the idea without realising. Maybe the obsessive way he was hunched over his notes made me notice how much he cared. Maybe I didn’t like seeing that harassed crease between his eyebrows.
Whatever the reason, it happened.
His eyes were still glued to his notes for a second as he looked up, but after a second he focused. But that crease didn’t go away. Nothing about his face changed.
“You want something?” He asked, after a second, echoing the reply I‘d given him a week ago, word for word. Although his face didn’t change something seemed to sparkle in his eyes, challengingly. It annoyed the hell out of me but I had to keep the smile from my face.
“It was you who wanted something.” I told him.
He looked at me for a moment, moving only to blink once. “And?”
I had to go. I had to move past him towards the stairs so that he didn’t see my smile. I replied over my shoulder.
“I’ll think about it.”
A.N. Hi, Chapter Two. What do we think of Katie from her own POV? And Oliver from her side as well. You might be wondering about 'the incident' between the two of them. I'll just say that yes, she had been on the team for a month and now mysteriously not. But being asked to join again. You will find out why... later!
Oh, and I'd just like to apologise for recreating the ages. I always dislike it when people do that but to be honest it's just so much easier! So many more places for the girls to have their chats and suchlike! So anyway, Katie, Alicia and Angelina are 6th, Oliver is 7th... the Weasleys are wherever they need to be when it comes to it, haven't decided yet :) that may make me a bad writer but mehh, I'm sorry.
Anyway, please let me know what you think about it so far, I'd love some feedback! And also whether you like the whole alternating between Katie and Oliver POV thing or whether there was one you liked better?
So thanks for reading, and please leave a review! Rx.
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