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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.
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?”
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?”
“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.”
“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.
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.
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,
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.”
“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.”
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
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