Chapter 1 : First Date
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“Thank you,” Katie said as he held open the door for her, smiling politely. She always disliked when boys held the door for her – she had hands... and probably more upper body strength than they did! – but she was still raised to be polite, and so she was. Her mother would be proud. In fact, politeness was the reason for the date. She didn’t like him at all, really. He was an arrogant sod, to say the least, but Katie’s best girl friend was dating his best mate, and the other girl had begged Katie to give him a chance, for her sake. Katie, being the best friend a girl could ask for, had agreed.
She’d never broken a promise to Leanne before, and this conceited fool wasn’t going to be the reason for her to start. So she’d gotten dressed up (or as dressed up as Katie Bell ever got) in a dark washed, well fitted pair of jeans and a modestly cut but figure flattering white shirt that showed off both her lovely shoulders and her sun kissed tan. Having known (thanks to Leanne warning her not to wear heels) that her date was a good three centimetres shorter than her, Katie even did the unthinkable and slipped on a pair of high heeled shoes. She regretted the decision the moment they were on, but the dissatisfaction on her date’s face upon realizing he was nearly a decimetre shorter than her was worth the blisters and pain.
In fact, his displeasure was evident the moment Katie had opened the door – he apparently was used to dating short, stupid and slaggy girls who wore little other than knickers on their first dates.
He was an idiot if he thought that Katie was that sort of girl. Oh wait, he was an idiot.
Leanne definitely owed her for this one. In fact, the other girl owed Katie anyway! As far as she was concerned, she’d been the one to introduce Blaise to Leanne, after all, and now she was suffering for making her friend happy!
Katie had met Blaise on a trip to Italy, in which she was hoping to learn to cook. Since the death of her parents in the year after she graduated, Katie had decided that she was going to experience life – as it was so short, and so precious. Her third trip of her adventure had been to Italy; a country she’d always wanted to see and live in, but never had the adventurous mindset to venture to. Her first few days had been uneventful. She was staying in a small wizarding community, mostly so she was able to keep in contact with Angelina, Leanne, and Alicia.
When she hired a guide, Katie was shocked to end up with none other than Blaise Zabini. Immediately, she had reminded herself that grudges for silly reasons never helped anyone; the war was over and rifts had started mending, and she really had no reason to hate him specifically in the first place. Over the two months she lived in Italy, Blaise was her best friend; he taught her to cook, to taste wine, to live the Italian way – and she loved every minute of it. So much so, in fact, that she knew she needed to take something back to England with her – Blaise.
She wasn’t romantically interested in him – despite his very attractive visage and his uncanny ability to make her melt when he spoke Italian – but rather wanted to keep him as a friend. So Katie, cunning and clever as she was, thought up a plan – she would get Blaise home and to stay.
Enter Leanne. The only of her friends that was single, since Alicia had gotten with Lee Jordan earlier that very summer and Angelina was with George, was Leanne, and Blaise wasn’t going to run around Europe for anyone – unless she was gorgeous and he was likely to get something out of it. Katie convinced him to come back with her for a visit– which was a joyous accomplishment in itself – and set the two up upon arrival. From there, the relationship blossomed and resulted in Blaise moving back to England.
What Katie hadn’t realized was how far Blaise’s social circle spanned. She’d assumed that he was friends with Malfoy and Pug-face Parkinson, but hadn’t found out until later on that his best friend from school – they’d met late in their careers at Hogwarts, as Leanne and Katie had – was none other than Cormac McLaggen.
Cormac McLaggen the idiotic and outrageously large headed reserve keeper for the Chudley Cannons who she was now on a date with. She hated everything about him (Okay, except that he was mildly attractive) and yet there he was, looking very smart in a button down muggle shirt and a fitted pair of trousers. She, apparently, had underdressed – not that Katie cared.
McLaggen pulled her chair out, for her to take, and she simply stared at him until he gave up and moved to his own chair.
“I’ve been waiting for a date with you since we were fourteen,” He informed as the wine they’d ordered arrived at the table minutes later. It made her sick, the fact that he was blatantly lying that way; he wasn’t interested in Katie at Hogwarts, else he’d have tried to talk to her other than to ask for her course work.
She smiled in a saccharine sweet way, opening the bottle in a decidedly unladylike way and pouring a glass that was fuller than was generally customary, not that she cared. If she was going to get through tonight, she needed to be entertained or very drunk – and the former didn’t seem likely. As he took the bottle to pour his own wine (a much more reasonable amount) there was a sullen frown on McLaggen’s face, and for a moment, Katie felt bad for him. But the moment quickly passed, and she was back to her logical, albeit a tad closed minded, self. After all, it wasn’t as though she would be falling for McLaggen any time soon – he was a complete sod.
That was when it happened. Just as Katie was drinking deeply from her glass, she saw him enter the restaurant out of the corner of her eye. It wasn’t surprising, she mused, that someone like him would be at a place like this – but that didn’t mean she had to like it. There, with a blonde beauty on his arm stood the impeccably chiselled and drop dead gorgeous Oliver Wood – and his mere presence made Katie’s heart pound hard in her chest. Suddenly, she was feeling the things that a date should evoke – hot, bothered, wanton – instead of what she’d been feeling just moments before – annoyed, bored, disinterested.
She was always hyper aware of Oliver’s presence. It started the moment she saw him in her first year. There he was, sat on the train looking decidedly windswept and still outrageously handsome, and she, gawky and eleven years old, could do nothing but stutter out an apology for entering his compartment uninvited. He’d been so sweet, inviting her to stay – “I’m just doing some last minute reading, feel free to sit down,” he’d said – and then making absent conversation, since it was obvious that she was so nervous she might bite her lip in half.
He was the reason she learned to play quidditch. In her first year, she’d paid some Hufflepuff a couple years above her to teach her how to play chaser, and she’d never looked back. She’d only ever had eyes for Oliver – she’d tried out for the team in an attempt to impress him, and she’d worked damn hard for the same reason. It’d won her everyone but his respect, it seemed, and by the time he was in his sixth year, she realized that being demure, playing well and hoping he’d notice her wasn’t going to work. That was when she started talking back – showing her stubborn nature and arguing with his ridiculous decisions and ideas. Not that it helped her much, as he still didn’t notice her as Katie, or even as a female. She would always just be Bell, the chaser, to him, and she’d long ago come to terms with that.
In her attempt to prove to herself that she was over Oliver, she tried not to look at him, in favour of focusing on Cormac. If only she was interested in him at all, which she wasn’t, the task would be easier. Maybe, she reasoned, she should just pretend.
It wasn’t hard. Suddenly, now that she was paying attention to him, Cormac seemed almost nervous. He was fiddling with his fork though they’d not yet ordered, and Katie realized that all his bluster earlier – all his stories from his practices and about his hilarious friends – was all a cover. Cormac wasn’t arrogant, Cormac was nervous. It was likely, from Katie’s perspective, that he actually was interested in her, and had been begging their mutual friend for an opportunity. Cormac, bless him, was just trying to be what he thought she wanted him to be.
... Er, hopefully.
Katie, in hopes of stopping him from fiddling and babbling, leaned across the table, placing her hand on top of his with a gentle and warm smile. “Cormac, just... relax,” She said softly, meeting his eyes for the first time that evening. That was when Katie noticed that they were the loveliest shade of brown.
She was babbling on and on. Oliver wasn’t even listening to his blonde companion anymore, he’d stopped hours ago, and he had a feeling she knew it, and was talking for her own benefit. In fact, Oliver was relatively sure that she enjoyed the sound of her own voice so much that if she didn’t have to breathe, she would never stop talking.
In hopes of a distraction, Oliver glanced around the restaurant she’d dragged him to. He was glad he wasn’t taking a sip of his drink when he spotted it – quite nearly the worst thing he’d seen all day, save for his companion – Katie Bell holding Cormac McLaggen’s hand. He knew that, had he been drinking, he’d have choked. Is it was, he felt his whole body tense defensively.
How [i]dare[/i] she go out with McLaggen, of all people! Sure, he was a former Gryffindor, but... but... that was where the positive qualities ended! As far as Oliver was concerned, McLaggen was a no good, dirty, arrog-Why was he leaning in? What did he think this was; a nightclub? He wasn’t going to kiss her right in front of everyone, was he?
Thankfully, he didn’t, because Katie withdrew her hand and lifted her menu – to what looked like McLaggen’s chagrin.
Oliver was pulled out of the staring contest he was having with Katie’s menu by a shrill voice from beside him – one he wasn’t able to tune out as well as he’d been doing thus far.
“Ollie-” He loathed being called Ollie- “You’re nearly squeezing my hand right off!” She whined. What was he name again? Mary? Marisa? Marsha? He didn’t know, nor did he care.
“Right, yeah, sorry.” Oliver managed, releasing her hand in favour of his glass, as he frowned at Katie’s menu once more. He didn’t understand it. Why was Katie out with McLaggen? Surely, they weren’t dating. Right...? Oliver became even less sure as she laughed softly (Katie never giggled, he noticed, at least not since her second year) at something McLaggen was saying. She lowered her menu and he thought she might be glancing in his general direction, causing him to turn, trying to pay attention to his company once more.
But there was no way he was going to forget that genuine smile on Katie Bell’s face.
She ordered her meal, for once not even considering the amount of calories she’d be eating because instead she was too focused on Cormac. She no longer played quidditch – outside of ‘for fun’ – having instead decided to pursue another of her passions; writing. Shortly after returning from Italy, she’d submitted a freelance article to the Daily Prophet, and she’d been working there, on and off, ever since. Everyone thought she would continue to play quidditch after Hogwarts, but she found it too tedious. Her calorie counting had less to do with staying in top condition and more to do with remaining healthy. Katie’s priorities had changed since school, and she was happier for it. But never before, that Katie could remember, had she ordered so carelessly, in terms of caloric intake.
She couldn’t help it. Cormac was actually funny – actually interesting – now that he’d toned down some. Then, of course, there was the fact that she was trying to seem unaffected by the chocolate brown eyes she could feel boring into her from across the room – Oliver’s eyes, she was sure.
But still, Katie didn’t look. Her eyes were on Cormac as they waited for their food and she listened to his story. Finally, when she’d laughed softly and politely at his anecdote, and their food arrived, Katie stole a glance in Oliver’s direction – and when she saw that he was staring, she could only think one thing:
Eat your heart out.
It was odd; she’d wanted him forever. She’d never before, though, thought that he might also want her. This was the first time he’d shown even mild interest, and that was why Katie was adamant about ignoring him as best she could. Cutting into her medium-well steak (which was the equivalent of Cormac’s, though she generally too hers medium-rare) she smiled at her date. When he smiled back, and she could tell he was genuinely interested, Katie knew that she would be dating Cormac again, though she wasn’t yet sure whether it was because she liked him, or because it was obvious that Oliver didn’t.