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Game by justonemorefic
Chapter 12 : Fortune Takes a Holiday
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 30


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Rona's smile hadn't left her face for hours. The afternoon light was fading, but they remained in the empty hallway, foreheads resting against each other.

She had never thought much of romance before — she always considered herself above the frivolity — but for the moment, it wasn't so bad. There was something particularly comfortable about a bloke. Maybe it was his aura of warmth or the well-worn softness of his clothes. All she knew was that even in the absence of the 'sexy competition' that caused her crush in the first place, there was still something pulling her toward him.

And yet the little voice inside her kept jabbering on about how it all fit together too easily.

Rona expected the whole relationship scene to be complicated. She could deal with complicated — last minute three-man plays, Acrumantula-sized web of lies, or even runes that translated to Latin backwards. But instead, effortless bliss was handed to her on a gold and scarlet platter, and she had no idea what to do.

So she did nothing. It was working fairly well so far.

"Same place tomorrow?" said Oliver, reaching up to brush away a strand of her hair.

"Mmhmm." When he spoke, Rona's mind dampened every thought that didn't involve his tilted smile or his oddly shaped nose that she was beginning to find cute or something else equally inane. If someone placed a plate of scrambled eggs nearby, she would've gladly placed an elbow in it. "You know, with my luck, we're going to get caught."

"You're paranoid," he said and leaned down to kiss her.

She backed away at the last moment to correct him, leaving his lips to hang in midair. "I am cautious."


His mouth twitched upwards. Rona had an inkling that he liked when she played hard to get. "Today was not very cautious," he said.

"It was a lapse in judgement."

"Lovely. First, I'm a dent. Now I'm a lapse."

She fiddled with the back of his collar. "Take what you can get, Oliver. I am a very difficult lady."

"You don't have to tell me that. I was thinking we'd keep it low-key anyway. Don't want to make the gossip worse, and Davies'll get suspicious anyway if he sees too much of me. So don't worry."

Rona smiled. This sort of concern was different than what she was accustomed to. There was a lot she liked that she hadn't ever considered before.

She ran a hand down his shirt, smoothing away the rumples. "Tomorrow, then." She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a peck. He pulled her in for another kiss immediately after, which she weakly protested.

After a few more minutes of stalling, they parted in opposite directions. Rona managed to keep herself composed for most of the way back to the Ravenclaw tower, but she had to bite down on her lip a few times to stop herself from smiling like a lunatic when she recalled the snippets of the day.

When Rona reached the staircase to the tower, she stopped, smile dropping. She was in no state to divulge the activities of her afternoon in a reasonably rational manner to her friends, and it didn't help that the situation was exceedingly vague.

They kissed. A lot. Did that mean she was dating him? Should she call him her boyfriend? Was there even a different? What if there was some unspoken rule she didn't know about, like first twenty kisses don't count toward a relationship, just send in a rebate?

Then sense suddenly lurched back into her mind, giving her a swift mental slap. She went seventeen years without jumping a boy, but she chose now of all times to not wait another month. She could see the inevitable worrying about Roger this, secrets that. It was a thestral wreck waiting to happen.

Rona observed how tightly she gripped the banister and pried her hand off. She needed to stop worrying. Oliver was right. She was paranoid. Just para —

"Rona?"

She jolted up at Edie's voice. Edie was paused mid-step on the staircase with one hand on the opposite railing and the other clutching her brother Nick's ear. The scowl from disciplining the flailing boy beside her was still frozen on her face, but it quickly dropped for a smile that reached her dimples.

"I am going to take a wild guess here," said Edie. "Congratulations?"

Rona's hands flew to her flushed cheeks. "Is it that noticeable?"

"Oh, you always blush. But add that to your that stupid look on your face and how you've been rocking back and forth on your heels for the past minute, I'd guess either Roger's finally kicked the bucket and you've inherited his captainship... or you are completely in love." Her eyes were alight with anticipation. "And Roger was perfectly healthy last I saw him, so that only leaves one option..."

Rona's internal cringe reflex went haywire. Brilliant. She got to brag about how she became a blooming ditz.

Edie must have noticed, because her smile immediately dropped. "Oh right... I guess this is sort of private... It's okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Disappointment from the sweet, wide-eyed Edie who just wanted a reprieve from dealing with her unfortunate kin was much like that of a bedraggled long-lost puppy limping home in the thundering rain only to find the dog door boarded up in its absence. Even Rona's stony heart broke a little.

As Edie turned to leave, the words rushed out of Rona's mouth. "We sort of kissed."

It was as if the door swung open, revealing the puppy's loving family waiting with an endless pile of toys and treats. Edie's metaphoric tail began wagging at Mach speed as her eyes boggled out in giant, shining awe. "OH. MY. EEEEEE!"

Rona was torn between joining in her friend's reverie and calming her down for the sake of Nick's ear, which was in the process of being well-stretched as Edie jumped up and down with it in tow. She laughed, "This is the sort of reaction I expected from Hannah!"

"Are you kidding me?" Edie shrieked. "Hannah's going to be ten times worse than this!"

"But you already knew I fancied him!"

"It doesn't matter! I didn't think you'd lose your thick head over this so quickly! I thought it'd take you months or something!" Edie placed her hands on Rona's shoulders, shaking them. "This is big! Don't you know how long we've all been waiting for something like this to happen? We all swore you were going to end up a spinster and spend the rest of her life alphabetizing books in a musty old room — oh who cares? This is big. Big, big, big!" There was a pause as she sucked in a thoughtful-sounding breath. "We're rather loud, aren't we?"

"...a tad."

Edie fanned herself. "Okay, let's do this upstairs. Come on, Nick — oh. Little bugger got away," she said, glancing around. "Oh well. Hurry up!"

With a twirl of her robes, she dashed up the stairs with Rona in tow. As soon as the door swung open, the two made a beeline for their dorm.

Hannah's voice interrupted them. "Didn't see you all afternoon, Rona."

Rona and Edie turned around to see Hannah lounging back on the sofa, waggling her brows. Jeremy and Roger were playing a game of Wizard's Chess next to her and looked up in interest, Roger in particular.

"I was in the library reading," Rona said with all the composure she could muster. She could feel Roger considering her every word.

"Uh huh. Reading. In a snog spot?" Hannah said, sing-song and seemingly unaware of the growing tension in the room. "I've got a two galleon bet with Davies here that you're not faking this thing with Ollie."

Rona gaped for only a second before pulling her mouth back up. 'Discretion' was not in any dictionary within a forty-kilometer radius of Hannah. She had done and said some stupid things before, but this definitely topped it all. Rona should have expected that Hannah wouldn't take the situation with Oliver seriously but regardless, Roger certainly would.

Roger began to stand up. "Rona — "

"Sorry, Hannah. Oliver's nice to look at, but if you have to deal with him, you'll see he's not worth two galleons," Rona said nonchalantly, ignoring Roger. She saw at the corner of her eye that he sat back down.

"Bint!" Hannah said with a playful pout. "Oh come on, can't you at least try? I'll share half the earnings. Don't you want to buy some book or something?"

Did that book shut her mouth faster? Rona wasn't sure how long she could keep up the conversation before cracking. Thankfully, Hannah's attention switched to Jeremy as he leaned forward to whisper something in her ear.

Meanwhile, Edie joined in the diversionary tactics. "Stop blabbering, I need help tonight, please." She tugged at Rona's arm urgently. "Arithmancy isn't going to study itself."

"Oh right... sorry," said Rona, clearing her throat. She looked back once to see Roger furrow his brows before she slipped into the darkness of the staircase. Only when the door to their room shut behind her did she let out a breath. Jittery aftershocks crept down her arm at the close call. "That was the worst acting I've seen from everyone."

"Think she and Roger bought it?" Edie's forehead creased in worry.

Rona leaned back against the wall and sunk to the floor. "I wouldn't be so relieved if they weren't the most gullible people in Hogwarts."

Edie sat down beside her and patted her hand. "You're only stalling the inevitable." After a few more moments of calm, the manic look from earlier reappeared. "So... let's get back on topic. Details. Dreamy eyes, sweet nothings, what have you."

A blush and smile rose. "We aren't like that! I like talking to him." And kissing. And the nice eyes. But that was beside the point.

"Fine, don't dish. Penny will weasel it out of you when she comes back. How'd he react to that Natalie thing?"

Rona drew in a sharp breath. She knew she had been forgetting something.

Edie frowned. "Wait, you didn't — "

She shrunk back. "It's not that big of a deal..."

Edie's eyes grew severe. "You told him. Tell me you told him."

Rona tried to look away, but Edie clenched her arm in a manner that demanded attention.

"Don't you do this to me. Don't you dare slip into denial. This could be your happiness on the line," said Edie, her breath-to-word ratio dropping dangerously with each sentence. She tightened her grip, causing Rona to wince. "Do you know what responsibility is being placed on me right now? Penny isn't here to knock sense into you. Jeremy's downstairs and can't give you advice. It's just me here. And... and... Merlin, I can't do this."

Rona tried to soothe her. "Will it help if...if — "

"Happy... things. I need happy things," she squeaked as she began hyperventilating.

It meant dreamy eyes and sweet nothings. Rona questioned the wisdom of letting loose her inner girly demon, but Edie was rapidly losing it, and she had no other plan. She conjured up her mental image of Oliver and took a deep breath. "So, I suppose I've got a weakness for that smirk of his..."

Even after Edie regained a healthy level of breathing, Rona continued talking, egged on by her friend's wistful sighs and affirmations. Whatever concerns about Natalie were soon forgotten.

"Quidditch nuts." Edie shook her head after Rona finished talking about Oliver's hopes for Puddlemere. "You know, you two are strangely perfect for each other."

"Hardly." Rona stuck out her tongue, secretly delighting at the thought. "He doesn't even like the Harpies. The nerve."

"Exactly," Edie laughed. "Perfect."

 
*



Rona managed to avoid the questioning of Hannah and Roger while also continuing her brief meetings with Oliver. Despite the sudden intrusion of a relationship upgrade, their main activity continued to be talking. She knew most of her friends since her first years of Hogwarts. Oliver, however, was different. He wasn't in her group of friends. He wasn't even in her House. They shared stories that Rona hadn't heard or told a dozen times already, and she always wanted to hear more.

And when they were done talking there was, of course, more kissing.

Rona mentioned her Hogsmeade date with Oliver offhandedly during breakfast on Friday, stressing that it was for business, not pleasure.

"What have you found out so far?" asked Roger. He sounded at ease, but his eyes didn't leave hers as he waited for an answer.

Rona stiffened at his wary tone. "His..." Her thoughts almost froze up, but managed to snatch the memory of Oliver helping Penny with her luggage. "His right arm," she said quickly. "It's weak. Old injury is my guess. He'll buckle under our more complex plays. I have some things in mind."

Roger nodded slowly. "Good. Keep it up." He then resumed eating his toast.

Rona couldn't quite place what was different about Roger, but he definitely seemed to be restraining something. Before her runaway suspicions could get the better of herself, she chided to herself that he was just finally trying to be less overprotective.

She asked Jeremy later just to be safe.

"Nah, Roger gets like that every once in awhile," he said as they sat in the common room. "Just remember the lessons from the telly and enjoy yourself."

"Follow my heart?" Rona said, rolling her eyes.

"Don't put out on the first date."

She smacked him on the shoulder. "Jeremy!"

"And no means no." He ducked away from her swats and continued, laughing, "You should — ow — be loved for who you are."

"Don't you need to find your girlfriend and corrupt yourself or something?" she scowled, grabbing a book and lifting it over her head threateningly.

"Fine, I'll stop," he said, still smiling cheekily. "And I wouldn't call Hannah my girlfriend. Doesn't sound right. We're dating. That's it."

She cocked her head in interest, book still frozen in the air. "So there is a difference."

"What, girlfriends and dating?" He shrugged. "Not really."

"I miss the days when you still made sense," she said, grimacing. "I suppose anything that sounds so committed will probably freak Hannah out anyway. Shouldn't you, I dunno, talk to her about it? Define things?"

"We're quite happy the way we are. If you are trying to project your underlying dissatisfaction with not knowing exactly where you stand with Oliver, then I suggest you go talk to him."

Rona opened her mouth to retort but didn't find any words to say, because he was mostly right. She tossed her book to the side sulkily. "Damn you, Jeremy."

He grinned and patted her on the shoulder. "You're welcome."


*



The next day, Rona hit a snag in her morning routine. The quandary lay before her in her open wardrobe.

Her date outfit.

She was too proud to admit she cared about how she looked, let alone seek an opinion on an outfit. She was particularly careful to keep her internal dilemma from Hannah, who was milling about the room doing her own preparations for the day. Hannah would no doubt jump at the chance to give advice.

Currently, Rona was debating between a beige knit sweater or a grey coat. Then she needed to decide what color boots she should wear and whether she needed to borrow any clothes to fill out her ensemble. She tapped her foot on the floor as the seconds rolled by.

Should choosing her clothes merit expending this much brainpower?

Since the answer was a definite negative, she threw on whatever was comfortable and somewhat coordinated.

Hannah peeked out of the bathroom, toothbrush still in her mouth. "Arrehn't you groing ohn your date wift Owiver today?" she asked, judgmental eyes squinting.

"You are not slagging me up," said Rona, her feet already moving toward the door.

Hannah spat out the toothpaste. "Oh come on, not even a cute non-slaggy scarf? I have galleons on the line here — "

"I'm not and won't be in love with him," Rona said, a pitch too high as she ducked out the door before Hannah could protest. Thankfully, she wouldn't have to worry about Hannah for the rest of the day; Jeremy had promised to keep an eye on her.

Rona had agreed to meet Oliver by Dervish & Banges at ten-thirty. She arrived early and passed the time wandering inside the shop. She was still in possession of the galleons from selling Oliver to the twins and thought it appropriate to at least spend some of it toward a late Christmas gift for him.

Oliver was leaning against the building's pillar when she exited the shop. Whatever thought that was running through her mind was forgotten as soon as he smiled at her.

It wasn't as if she didn't find him fit before, but now she couldn't ignore it. She was a sucker for a scruffy-looking bloke, especially one who always looked a bit smug. Hormones had been her all-purpose excuse for her behavior as of late, but it was hardly any comfort that microscopic chemicals were dictating her every move.

He was moving toward her now, and she thought it wise to stop letting the drool collect and say something. "Hey," she said, her usual wash of confidence finally returning. After remembering her new purchase in her hands, she tossed to him. "Merry belated Christmas."

The trajectory went awry, but like a true Keeper, Oliver caught it anyway. He smiled as he turned it over in his hand. "I don't recall us planning a gift exchange," he said, brandishing a paper bag from behind him.

She smiled at the coincidence. "Well, great minds, right?" she said, taking the bag and peeking inside. Shiny wrapped yellow candies winked back at her. She laughed, inwardly groaning at the memory of her drunken night.

Oliver ripped away the last pieces of parchment. "A clock," he said, grin spreading across his face.

She bit her lip sheepishly. "To replace any old ones that might have suffered because of me." She lifted the bag. "Honeybugs?"

"Real ones. And definitely not butterbeer flavored." He took her hand, pulling her to the pavement. "Now come on."

Rona put the candies in her pocket and followed. "Where to?" she asked. The area they were heading toward had a few shops, but at the moment, she could only recall Madam Puddifoot's. She shuddered. If she told someone to go to hell, that was where she was cursing them to. The perfume always choked her lungs, the adjacent couples brought plenty of secondhand embarrassment, and the decor was the sole reason for her intense dislike of the color fuchsia.

Oliver pointed right across the street from Rona's feared destination. "Hagglestrom's & Co., of course. They've got the latest brooms out on display. We can get a pint after."

The relieved expression on Rona's face was nothing short of awe. "Quidditch obsessed, a morbid sense of humor in gift-giving, and a date that isn't at Puddifoot's. Merlin, why didn't I fancy you earlier?"

"I do believe you violently opposed my charms. You do like the Honeybugs though, right? I was thinking of giving you flowers, but I didn't know what you'd want."

"Flowers," she declared with a prideful air, "are what I'd find myself guiltily dumping in the wastebasket when it becomes a wilting mess."

The corners of his mouth twitched upwards. "I bet you'd like them if I gave them to you."

Of course, he would phrase it like a challenge. "Disclaimer, I'm not like a lot of girls you've dated," she said, shaking her head.

Oliver's steps slowed momentarily as a smirk crept across his face. "How many girls do you think I've dated?"

There was that one girl — no, wait... what about... Her mind went blank again, but this time it wasn't because of hormones.

He winked. "Think about that, love."

The sudden influx of teasing, flirting, and unanswered questions caught Rona off guard, and her newly calm heart started racing again. She could fancy Oliver without the 'sexy competition' but it certainly upped the excitement with it. She crossed her arms in pretend irritation, though the expression on her face belied her. "How many girls have you dated?"

He swung an arm over her shoulder. "I've got to keep up this aura of mystery somehow. I'll tell you one day." He couldn't keep his laughter under wraps.

Rona grumbled under her breath, but she acquiesced because throwing around the word 'dating' made her remember a more important question. "So what does that make us, Oliver?" she said, trying to sound casual. "Do I call you my boyfriend? Are we just dating?"

He shrugged. "Does it matter?"

"I suppose not." She was still a little disappointed. It was a mere detail, but she wanted a tag for the this between them. It didn't feel as real without definitions, and after jumping in headfirst and risking so much, she needed that bit of reassurance.

He tugged her closer as if he sensed her thoughts. "Don't worry about it."

They soon arrived at Hagglestrom's & Co. which distracted her from any lingering dissatisfaction. If Madam Puddifoot's was hell, then Hagglestrom's was the opposite. It sold everything Quidditch, from the practical to the novelty. When Rona saw the Firebolt in the window, she bolted out of Oliver's grip to press her nose against the glass and marvel.

"She's a beaut, isn't she?" he said. "Can't believe McGonagall's stripping one of those down."

"Should be a bloody crime," Rona breathed, echoing his words from days before. She continued fogging up the glass until a jingle caught her attention.

Oliver was holding open the door, chuckling. "You know, you can look at it inside the shop, too."

If he didn't share the same sentiment about Quidditch, she might have been embarrassed at her fanaticism over what was essentially an enchanted piece of wood. Indeed, as soon as they were inside, he shot past her to the display in the middle of the floor before the door had time to close behind them. "Vintage Puddlemere jerseys!" he exclaimed, sifting through the pile. "I hope they've got Dachin's... best Keeper in the last century."

"You're forgetting Wesley Ingerlot."

"Eh, he's a close second."

Rona rolled her eyes at his fervent devotion to a team, but his unabashed enthusiasm was rather endearing. While Oliver continued searching, she wandered deeper into the store, prodding at the trinkets for sale. He soon joined her and they delved through the shelves, swapping anecdotes with every new-found item.

Oliver held up a toy Snitch. "I dared my cousin to swallow one of these when we were kids. Mum came through the door just as he was about to do it. Snatched it out of his hand so quickly, I would've thought she was a Seeker in a past life."

Rona shook her head and laughed, "Boys." She took one, wound it up, and let it go. It fluttered out of her palm and whirled around in circles between them. "Do you usually take girls here?' she asked.

"Hmm?"

"This is just a bit unconventional for a date, you know." She shrugged. "Not that it's bad; I like it. A lot, actually. It's just I don't know if other girls usually go for this stuff."

Oliver rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as he preoccupied himself with watching the Snitch. "I've... only brought one girl out."

"Who?" A stampede of possibilities rumbled through her thoughts, attempting to fill in the characteristics of the mystery girl. Did she love Quidditch? Was she nice? Pretty? Violent?

His eyes swung to hers. "Take a guess."

He was staring at her like the answer's obvious and she didn't want to say that she hadn't a clue what it was and her thoughts were going nowhere and —

Her eyes widened. She lifted a finger and pointed to herself. "Me?"

He smiled a little wider.

"I can't be the only one!" she gaped, incredulous.

"I don't think I know how to respond to that," he said, laughing. "Certainly didn't think you'd be so adamant against being my first date."

"I'm not against it," she said, thoroughly confused that he wasn't joking. "Just, worldview shattering before my eyes. You had that whole put-on-the-charms ladykiller act — "

"Emphasis on act. Honestly, I was surprised a reputation preceded me."

"So let me get this straight," she said slowly, grasping at the air as she attempted to sort out her thoughts. "It was all in my head? I guess Roger was always the one who insisted that you were full of debauchery, but I still can't believe — I mean, I've gone out more than you have. Not that I've ever gone on a second date with anyone, but at least I've gone to some." Her eyes snapped up at the memory of her first kiss. "Wait... was that your first kiss, too?"

"I don't think it matters as much to blokes as it does to girls, but no, it wasn't." Oliver put his hands in his pockets, feet fidgeting. "I suppose my love life can be summarized like this: I've fancied girls who fancied me back. I've even stolen a kiss or two. But I've always been too thick to make it past that."

"Until me."

"Until you."

"Why me?"

He snickered, took her hands and pulled her closer to him. "You ask too many questions, love. Blokes don't really think much about these things. We just go along with them."

Rona accepted his non-response grudgingly, only because the thought of being Oliver's first date did make her feel a little special. Plus, Oliver's arms were snaking around her waist, and her thoughts became precariously blank again.

But their moment didn't last long. At the sound of the door's jingle, heat flooded her face. She was fine with snogging away an afternoon, but any little bit of a public display of affection was a big no-no. She pulled away from Oliver, who let her go reluctantly.

Rona didn't think much of the person who just entered the shop, but a quick glance told her the figure had yet to move from the doorway. She did a double take.

It was Roger.

Oliver noticed him as soon as she did and he visibly tensed. Rona grasped his wrist as a precaution; the last thing she wanted was a Great Hall showdown, part two. She puzzled through what the scene would look through Roger's eyes. Supposedly, she was spying on Oliver, who was still none the wiser. She had told Roger to stay out of her way and act indifferent if he ever ran into them.

But Roger wasn't doing either as he stood in the doorway with his fists clenched and anger clear in his taut expression. "Rona," he said, voice straining to keep level. "I need to talk to you. Privately."

Her anger flared, but panic quickly took over. There was no good ending to this. She told herself to keep calm. Before she moved to leave, she squeezed Oliver's wrist. "Don't follow," she whispered.

Oliver, eyes still trained on Roger's, didn't respond.

Rona quickly moved out the door, not wanting to get stay in the crossfire of a staring duel again. She never understood the natural animosity between Quidditch captains.

When Roger shut the door behind her, he led her a few paces away from the building, just far enough to be out of sight from Hagglestrom's windows. He spun around to face her with a simmering anger, only slightly calmer than before. "Why'd you lie to me?" he snapped.

Rona resisted showing any nervous tics as best as she could. She tread carefully. "Lie about what?" she asked, hoping for more context.

"Don't play dumb!" he hissed, "You really think I haven't noticed you falling head over heels for Wood? That this was never about spying on him?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I suspected it for a long time, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Because you were right, Switt — I was being too hard on you." The muscles on his face twitched as a disgusted sneer painted his expression. "But this morning, I overhear some conversation from our friends, and lo and behold, I was right. You never deserved that trust after all."

Cornered, her instincts told her to fight back. Rona had put up with him for too long to be sympathetic now. "You didn't give me much of a choice," she retorted. "You don't care what I think. What's the point?"

"It's not just about me. This is about the team — "

"Do not start on this team crap," she said, raising a protesting hand. "You were the only one ever to have a serious problem with this. You just riled the others up to follow your lead."

"Because I know what's best," he spat, his heavy breaths more audible every second. "So when'd you tell him?"

"For your information, he already knew that I'm the team's strategist. Seven months ago, in fact. There's a lot more to him than you think. You ever consider that we're the ones who started it first? It's not like you haven't gone charming his reserves before."

Roger seemed less than convinced. "Gee, you've known him for a few weeks, he's lied to you every step of the way, and you already believe everything he says." He laughed bitterly. "I never thought you'd be this easy. Tell me then, since you're such a fine judge of character, what you think of Mr. Wood."

"He's better than you! At least he admitted he did wrong."

"And you trust him?"

Rona stiffened. Doubts never stopped haunting her. She didn't like them, but she couldn't ignore them either. "Yes," she answered, but she had hesitated.

"You're lying. But at least that means you have some sense left."

"My sense says sod off," she gritted. "Just angry that you lost your two galleons to Hannah?"

"You think this is a joke, do you?" Roger stepped closer, eyes narrowing. "I came here to say that you're kicked off my team."

Her eyes widened. "What?"

"What's done is done. Whatever you've told him — "

"I haven't told him anything!" she sputtered. Roger had to be lying. He was just trying to intimidate her. He wouldn't go through with it.

"Whatever you've told him, it's already lost. But I've got a game against Gryffindor in a month's time, and I'm not keeping a liability on my pitch."

Rona couldn't believe was she was hearing. A liability. After years of helping him, she was just a liability to him. "You know what, Roger? It doesn't matter," she said, steely. "I quit. I've put up with you and all this crap long enough."

He shook his head as he brushed past her. "Enjoy your date."

"You're going to regret this," she called after him.

Roger stopped, glancing at her from the side. "Not as much as you. You'll see when you get your heart broken." He continued walking without turning back again.

Rona's thoughts continued to fume until the silence sunk in and she noticed that she had been trembling. As she made her way back to Hagglestrom's, Oliver exited the shop, brows stitched together in concern.

"Roger... fired me," she uttered, voice small and steps slowing as the implications finally crashed down on her. She couldn't bear losing a match because of some stupid row with Roger. And it was more than the Cup; scouters were coming. If the team wasn't at the top of their game, it was going to hurt her and Jeremy's chances to enter the professional leagues. It was a big mess, her fault, and she had no idea what to do.

Rona felt Oliver take her in his arms wordlessly. She buried her face into his chest as her strength failed her and tears pricked her eyes. "Damn it."
 




A/N WOOHOO, PLOT. And the fun isn't over yet. And by fun, I mean fallout. Yes, readers. It gets worse. But don't worry, there's lots of happy!times, too. Penny and the rest of the Quidditch boys are returning from the holidays, so there will be badassery and fail all around.


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