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Game by justonemorefic
Chapter 13 : O Captain, Not My Captain
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 25

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As students poured out of the Hogwarts Express, Rona stared at the prefect compartment's door, waiting for the only person who mattered at the moment and cursing the fact that prefects were always the last ones out. She stood wrapped in her scarf and new coat sent from home, but it was still too cold for her liking.

When Rona caught sight of Jason and Randolph exiting from the adjoining carriage, the former boy began flailing his arms about obnoxiously in greeting, while the latter was trying to disassociate himself as much as possible.

Jason charged through the crowd, backpack swinging behind him and jumped to the spot in front of Rona with all the enthusiasm of the world. "Ready to beat Slytherin?"

Her sour expression deepened. Roger had picked the perfect time to kick her out of the team — two weeks before the Slytherin game, right as they were about to pick up practices again. The two boys were clearly unaware still, and she did not feel charitably informative that morning. "Can you two be headaches somewhere else? I'm waiting for Penny."

Jason elbowed Randolph. "She must've forgot her Cheering Charm this morning."

Certainly her patience. "Go annoy Roger. I'm sure he'll love to inform you why I'm like this. And I warn you now: if you so much as say a single inappropriate remark to me later, you will find out how fun gravity is from the Astronomy Tower."

"That touchy, eh?"

Randolph had long been inching away. "Come on, leave her be. I don't want to die."

"Fine," Jason sighed exasperatedly and resumed swinging his arms as he strode down the platform with the rest of the returning students.

Randolph gave a quick wave to Rona before leaving. "See you at practice."

She scowled, nostrils flaring.

He crumpled, backing away. "Did... did I say something I shouldn't have?" he said, leaning over to Jason.

Jason patted his back. "You just can't help it."

Their voices faded away as they blended into the crowd and Rona resumed tapping her feet in impatience. Penny's blond hair flashed in sight through the glass windows every few seconds, but she was still checking through the compartments.

Finally, Rona heard her voice call, "Percy, darling! I'm going to go. I'll see you after dinner!" Penny emerged from the carriage, stepping down onto the platform, pulling her luggage behind her.

"Penny, finally — "

"You little twat." Penny greeted her with her most withering gaze. "You fancy Oliver and didn't even tell me —"

Rona flushed. "Ah, er, about that — "

" — and then you end up in his bed —"

"Percy's bed actually — "

" — and you two kissed. Kissed! I know you hate letters, but honestly, you can't put that aside just once to tell me these things? I had to hear this all from Edie's single letter a week ago — "

Rona didn't even try to interrupt this time.

" — and what's this about Jeremy asking Hannah out? You actually let him go through with it?" Penny laid a hand on her heart. "May Merlin have mercy on that poor boy's soul — "

"Roger fired me."

Penny mouth froze mid-sentence and morphed into a frown. "What?"

"Long story short, he found out about me and Oliver, and I'm now a 'liability' and he's banned me from all future practices."

"'re kidding me."

"I wish."

Penny grit her teeth together and sighed. "All right, back up. Tell me everything."

Rona had repeated the convoluted story of her courtship so many times to Edie and Jeremy that she could recite it like a speech. "Well, Oliver found out I fancied him the day you left — "

"Dear Merlin, this is a long story."

As they walked back to Hogwarts castle, Rona described the pitfalls of the past two weeks in all its nitty gritty, from how she first lied to Roger to her unfortunate interrupted Hogsmeade date two days ago.

"Tch, the day boys finally become a crisis for Miss Switt," Penny said with a smile and shake of her finger.

She glared pointedly back. "Oi, I'm having an actual crisis here."

Penny waved her off dismissively. "Roger's not stubborn enough to risk a match over this. He'll see how much he needs you by the end of practice tomorrow. Playing angry? The boys' morale? It's going to be an utter broom wreck."

Rona sighed. Everything was fixable to Penny. "You just don't know how bad it's really been," she muttered.

There was only the click of their steps to fill the silence as they went up the stairs. Penny gave her few sidelong glances before rolling her eyes. "Fine, fine, I'll humor you. How bad?"

Rona opened her mouth to reply, but didn't know how to describe her weekend except that there was a lot of hair pulling, door slamming, and entire arguments battled out in silence.

Meanwhile, Penny addressed the bronze knocker, which awoke from its sleep.

"What can be dropped in an unending crevice to find its end?"

"A sound to echo back," Penny answered.

"Sodding unreasonable Quidditch captains," Rona muttered.

The door swung away and revealed a common room in a riotous state normally reserved for locker rooms. Luggage was strewn across the stairway to the boys' dorm. Jason shook a tired-looking Jeremy by the shoulders while wailing nonsensically. The only way Jeremy was still standing was due to the sheer friction of the ultra-plush carpet. Atop the boys' staircase, Roger yelled over the din about 'responsibility' and 'necessary precautions'. Randolph was sheet white, frozen in place as his eyes darted between Rona and the chaos.

Rona glanced over at Penny whose left eye twitched ever so attractively.

"I leave for two weeks, two weeks, and everything goes to bits!"

The boys' attention snapped to the doorway.

"Oh, welcome back, Penny." Jeremy gave a little wave as Jason held him at arms length.

Penny flashed a curt smile. "Thanks, Jeremy."

"I'm supposin' Rona told you everything."

"As best as she could manage in a fifteen-minute walk."

Jason's attention darted between them. "How can you two be so calm about this?!" he cried.

"Excuse my inability to overreact." She strode into the room, hands on hips, aura of intimidation at full force. Rona was good at instilling fear in the boys on the team, but Penny was good at instilling fear in everyone. "Round up the gang. I do not want to repeat myself."

A derisive laugh came from the stairway. "And what authority do you have over my team?" sneered Roger.

"Part of my role as a prefect is mediation," said Penny with a fake sweetness. "Do you have a problem with that?"

He turned about like a drunkard, throwing his hands in the air. "Everything's bleeding brilliant! I've got two games to plan for, and my team's gone nuts." He spun back around, slamming down on the railing. "Oh, and you know, your friend here is shagging our competition."

"Well that's not exaggerating at all," grumbled Rona. The past weekend had worn her out so much that she didn't even bother fighting back — not that it mattered; Roger wouldn't even look at her, let alone listen to her.

Penny took a step toward him. "Roger — "

"I'm not sticking around to hear another person try to defend her." He stormed up the stairs, giving a kick to the luggage.

Jason scrambled toward the retreating captain. "Ach! Roger!" he called, catching the falling chest.

There was no reply except the receding sound of his stomps. Everyone stood in silence until Jeremy broke it with a low whistle and fell back onto the sofa. "The captain has abandoned ship."

Penny snapped back to action and gestured to the fourth years — Duncan, Grant, and Cho — who all witnessed the entire scene on the other side of the room. They crowded into place by the side table, nearly knocking over a lamp in the process, exchanging glances along the way.

Penny raised a brow. "Is there something someone would like to say?"

Grant elbowed Cho, who was squished between him and Duncan. "You're a girl," he said. "She'll go easy on you."

Cho wrinkled her nose and turned to Duncan pleadingly.

"Bugger you two," Duncan grumbled under his breath. He glanced up at Rona, and she could already tell how much she would dread whatever was about to come out of his mouth.

"So..." He cleared his throat. "...we were wondering if Roger got his knickers in such a twist so much 'cause of... of... your history with him."

Penny pressed her forehead into her palm. Jeremy barked out a laugh. Rona stared long and hard. "What history?"

Awkward shuffling commenced again. "I told you so," hissed Grant.

"I do not have a history with Roger," she repeated with extra emphasis this time.

"We know, we know!" Duncan held his hands up. ""

"How could you even think...?" Rona shut her eyes and sighed. They probably wanted to justify why she stuck by someone so intolerable for so long. It was only a testament to how much she loved the game.

Penny herded her and everyone else to the sofas. Rona took a seat next to Jeremy, who gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

"Could be worse."

"It's my fault that you and Roger stopped speaking to each other — "

"Nah," he said, smiling weakly. "Edie and I should have been more careful. It's our fault he found out about you two in the first place."

"Might as well go back further. I just shouldn't have kissed Oliver." Or fancied him. Or talked to him. Or let him know she existed.

Rona sunk deeper into the sofa crevice. She could have been a very satisfied archivist, but she had to get her hopes up, and now she would just be another grumbling worker who didn't get a dream Quidditch job because of some bleedin' last minute row with Roger —

Penny rapped on the table. "Are you listening, Rona? I was saying that if Roger doesn't come to his senses soon enough, you'll watch the practices from somewhere hidden and you'll meet with the team in Flitwick's classroom in the evenings for strategy. I'll clear it up with the Professor myself." She returned to addressing the others. "These meetings will be mandatory and you'll all listen to Rona and forget whatever Roger tells you to do."

"Can she even do that?" Randolph whispered to Grant.

"I'm not going to question her."

"As for the issue that began this problem in the first place," Penny continued, "it's no one's business but hers — "

"I object!" shouted Jason, raising a finger.

"This isn't a wedding — "

"Oi, hear me out!" He took center stage despite a dirty look from Penny. "Look, as a team, we're like the father of the bride."

Everyone stared blankly at him.

"The bride being Rona."

"Metaphors... are not your forte," said Jeremy.

Jason huffed and stuck out his hands. "We've got to see that Oliver — being the groom — isn't marrying for money, er secrets... or any of that before we give her away!" He scanned around, before grunting frustratedly and marching up to Rona. "What I'm trying to say is, why should I take your side? What if I think Roger's right? That Oliver shouldn't be trusted? Convince me. Convince us." He swept an arm over to Randolph, Duncan, Grant, and Cho. "We're a team. We deserve more than this."

Rona sighed. Of all the days for Jason to make a legitimate point.

Jason seemed to take her pause as an affirmation. His arm shot up in the air. "BRING IN THE BOY!" he bellowed.

She placed two fingers on her forehead. Nice things. This was why she couldn't have them. Just as she was about to protest, the door to the common room swung open, revealing Hannah and Edie.

"Bring in the boy? What's all this then? Ritual sacrifice?" said Hannah.

Rona lifted her arm in a half-hearted wave. "Close enough, it's a wedding."

"We came to say some sixth years asked us what all the kerfuffle up here was about and I told them that Roger broke a nail. I know it doesn't matter 'cause your secret's already out, but really, indoor voices." The mischievous glint in Hannah's eye was worse than usual.

Rona saw movement behind the two newcomers and raised a brow. "What are you hiding?"

"Hiding?" she blinked, not at all able to pull off a look of innocence. "Whoops, that's right! I nearly forgot — guess who we found!"

Even though the stairway was shrouded in darkness Rona could already recognize the stance, the shirt, and familiar scruffy hair before Hannah shoved Oliver to the front. He glanced around sheepishly, smiling slightly at Rona.

A lump rose in her throat. She wasn't prepared to let Oliver face the team this early. They were going to judge everything he did and say he wasn't good enough for her or some other hogwash. It was like introducing him to — she groaned at Jason's now appropriate metaphor — her parents.

Hannah patted his shoulder. "Couldn't figure out the riddle, poor bloke."

"I was close," he muttered.

"It's all right. Jason never goes out alone or else he'd never be able to open the door again."

Rona noticed that Jason was rubbing his hands together. She immediately sprang up from her seat with a furious glare. "No. We are not doing this now."

"Doing what now?" said Oliver, raising an eyebrow.

"They want proof that you can be trusted," she said with a grimace and circled around the couch, feeling the jitters creep down her knee — and not just because her leg was asleep.

There was every reason to be nervous. Oliver was still, for all intents and purposes, the enemy. Just last year, she had told the Beaters to Bludger him when his back was turned. She was still likely to tell them the same this year — he had damned good reflexes otherwise — but she had to figure out how to throw in a caveat to not kill him off the pitch.

Plus, it was also the first time anyone saw them together without yelling being the main component of their interaction. Rona didn't know how to act. Showing any sort of affection was weird. She was still self-conscious at how taken with his charm after being so adamantly against it less than a month ago. But she also needed to prove that she fancied him well enough to be worth the trouble he brought.

When she approached him, her smile only half-forced, Hannah and Edie skipped away, the latter whispering a hasty apology over her shoulder. As soon as they were on the couch, it was as if an invisible line was drawn across the room dividing stage and audience. Unfortunately for Rona, the spotlight was on her side.

Looking for some sort of aid, Rona glanced over at Penny who shrugged and folded her hands together. "Best to get this done early," she said with a smirk.

Rona scowled, doubting that Penny's thoughts were on her well-being rather than wanting to watch her embarrass herself. Meanwhile, Jason instigated a circle of furtive whispering that she could only infer as their plan of attack.

Oliver took a step closer to her, leaning to occupy the space beside her left ear. "Not a particularly good morning to interrupt, I take it?" he murmured. "Can't say I didn't expect this to happen."

Rona glanced up at him, trying not to pay attention to Hannah and Edie's gleefully knowing smiles at the corner of her eye. "Why'd you let them drag you up here?"

"Caught me on my way down for breakfast. I asked how you were doing, and they insisted that I see for myself."

"Sorry I disappeared yesterday. Just... a lot going on." She had spent almost the entirely of the previous day in her dorm, avoiding Roger, cluing Hannah in, and trying to stop Edie from guilting herself for accidentally spilling the beans. She tried to think of a less depressing topic and recalled a question on her mind earlier. "You really couldn't figure out the password?"

"It made absolutely no sense," he said with a distinct tone of annoyance. "'How does one find a lost hippogriff?'"

The answer popped into her mind instantly. "By it's tail, of course."

His jaw dropped. "How'd you know that so quick? That's what Edie said, too."

"'Cause... its the right answer?" she said, raising a brow. Second-years could figure out the password. It wasn't that tricky.

"But it makes no sense," he insisted. He was halfway into his speech pose normally reserved for Quidditch. "If you can find the tail of a hippogriff, you've obviously already found the hippogriff."

She cracked a smile at his attempt to justify himself. "It's a matter of semantics."

"Well, I think semantics is bollocks."

He was getting so defensive that she barely suppressed a laugh. "Semantics opens the door. But if it makes you feel better..."

"It does."

"All right then." She grinned at him unrelentingly, to which he responded with a narrow-eyed glower.

They fell into silence as Rona tried to figure out what everyone was planning on the other side of the room. Oliver lifted her spirits somewhat, especially seeing him unconcerned about what her friends had in store for him.

He nudged her. "So why can't you find a hippogriff by its head?"

She couldn't hold in the laugh this time. "Are you still on that? And you say I'm the one who needs to get the last word."

His eyes were alight with a mischievous mirth. "I never said that I didn't do it, too."

"You're doing it right now."

"And so are you."

She crossed her arms. "This is going nowhere."

"Then stop," he smirked.

Her eyes narrowed. "No. You stop."

He shrugged. "Why?"

'Because." By then, Rona forgot what they were talking about anymore.

He learned in close and drawled, "Stub-born."

She pushed him away by enclosing his face with her palm.

"And mature," he laughed. He ruffled her hair and she stuck out her tongue.

Rona heard Penny clear her throat loudly and she turned to see everyone staring at them with either an expression of amusement, perplexity, or both.

Hannah lifted a hand to the side of her mouth in a faux whisper. "Merlin, their foreplay is so cute."

Heat flooded Rona's face, and she quickly blew her hair back into place.

Oliver took the initiative and stepped forward. "Look, I just wanted to apologize for the mess I caused," he said, holding up his hands. "This was never about taking secrets. I've a bit of a vendetta against your captain is all, and I've already put that aside."

Jason swaggered around the couch with his hands behind his back like an inspector on an investigation and a lone toothpick in his mouth acting as his pseudo-pipe. "A likely story. Then why would you go after Rona if your problem's with Roger? She happens to be our strategist. How convenient."

Oliver seemed somewhat disinclined to respond to the strange sixth year peering into his face. Rona let out an exasperated grunt and snatched the toothpick out of Jason's mouth and snapped it between her fingers. Jason let out a strangled cry as he clawed for the pieces.

"He figured it out a long time ago," she said, thrusting the splintered wood into his face. "He was going to get revenge through me 'cause he thought I was Roger's girl."

Duncan punched Grant in the side. "Oi, see! Even Wood thought she was dating Roger."

"It doesn't matter, because you're wrong anyway," Rona gritted.

He promptly snapped his mouth shut.

Jason shook a finger in the air as he paced about, broken toothpick dangling from his lips. "If I know Rona — and I like to pretend that I do — she wouldn't be okay with being just used like that. I call shenanigans. What've you bribed her with?" He squinted at Oliver with one eye. "Let her feel up your muscles? Shirtless photos? Locker peepshow?"

"Oi," snarled Rona. She advanced toward Jason with claws out.

"Okay, okay, Jason you've had your fun," said Penny, clapping her hands for attention. "Let's not get you killed just yet."

Jason raised a finger to protest, but Jeremy reached over the sofa and yanked him by the collar, causing him to choke and gracelessly flail his arms. After he released him, Jason staggered backwards and doubled over. "I think I inhaled a splinter," he gasped.

Penny completely disregarded him in favor of sighing heavily at Rona. "I'll be honest. I was going to bring it up with you later, but I might as well do it now. Even I think it's all a bit shifty still."

"What?" Rona paled. "Why?" Penny's opinion was more important than anyone else's and she certainly did not expect her to be on the opposing side.

"I don't understand." Oliver frowned. "You helped me out before."

"I was less concerned before Rona actually fancied you. And before she got kicked out of the team. How do I know you didn't plan for that to happen? If you really fancied her, you could've just waited until after our match. What's a month?"

"No, I didn't plan anything!" he said, furrowing his brows. "I — it just happened."

"It's my fault," said Rona. It was surreal defending him to Penny. "He never pushed for it. I told you."

"Maybe it's because I haven't been here for two weeks, and I haven't seen everything," said Penny. "I know he can be a nice bloke, but he was still using you, and you forgave and forgot so hastily. If you're not worried, I am."

Rona swallowed hard as the fretful thoughts that she kept down bubbled to the surface. She was worried, but she couldn't say that. She had so stubbornly defended her choice that she couldn't admit the occasional second thought leaked into her brain. She saw Edie and Jeremy exchange worried glances and hoped they weren't having the same doubt.

Don't be daft, she scolded herself. You could see his sincerity when he apologized. And you know how he is with you. He can't just fake those feelings so easily.

But she was ever aware of how easily Penny could be correct. Oliver's transformation had been undeniably swift, and his quick discovery of her crush did not help matters. The opportunity had been his for the taking. She often wondered if the night she ended up his dorm was simply the perfect setup to win her over, and if that was the intention, it had worked.


She felt Oliver's hand on her shoulder and glanced up to see an unexpectedly concerned expression affixed on his face. She was suddenly realized how apprehensive she looked after Penny's warning.

"No, you don't understand," Rona said hastily, trying to hide the nature of her thoughts. "He — " She scrambled to find something to vindicate Oliver and settle her capriciousness once and for all.

"I know you all are worried that he's trying to sabotage us, but have you all forgotten what I used to do?" she said, latching onto a runaway train of thought. "You know, spy on other teams? He's taking the same risk I am. I can find out just as much from his team as he can from ours. As for getting me kicked off the team — that's not even his fault. Roger was being bleedin' unreasonable."

Her eyes flew wildly around the room, still tracing doubt on her friends' faces. "And —  and if you think that he never should've come snooping in the first place, this whole 'finding out who the Strategist is' mess only started because he wanted revenge on something Roger — " She faltered. " — something Roger and I did."

Oliver's hand slipped from her shoulder.

"Maybe some of you don't know or forgot," she continued, trying to ignore how stuffy it suddenly felt, "but I told Roger last year to take his reserve chaser out on a date, and the information he coerced out of her was how I made our Stupifying Sideswipe play. Forget about Oliver using me, I already helped toy with another girl's heart — I think he has every right to be angry. Yeah, he could've chosen a nobler route than revenge, but bloody hell, it's not like we don't deserve it. So stop making him a scapegoat for what happened, because that's what it feels like you all are doing. I started this mess. Not him."

Gazes lowered across the room in the ensuing silence. Penny nodded once, and Edie gave her a thumbs up.

"One moment please," Jason said, raising a finger. He bounded over the sofa to initiate another round of huddled whispering.

As the spotlight stopped shining on Rona, the prickly tingles associated with Oliver's presence resurfaced. She finally found the courage to look him in the eye and found with great relief, that the expression he gave was free of anger.

"I'm sorry," she said, tracing a line on the carpet with her foot. "I should've told you earlier."

The corners of his lips twitched upwards. "It's okay," he said.

Rona thought he had more to say, but there was nothing more except a sigh. She sensed something off, but she did not have time to consider it before Jason strode up to them, a hand outstretched to Oliver.

"On behalf of the team, I am reluctantly pleased to say we will tolerate your presence. Don't get too comfortable."

Oliver stared at him a bit, no doubt still unused to Jason, but shook his hand. He glanced back at Rona who shrugged in return. She was just happy her team finally somewhat accepted him.

Edie leaned over the back of the couch and whispered to Rona, "Should Jason always be speaking 'on behalf of the team' like that?"

She shook her head. "He's getting into captainship a tad early, I suppose." Seeing Edie's bewildered reaction, she added, "You realize that he'll be the most qualified after Jeremy and Roger leave, right?"

Edie slunk back onto the sofa as if she had lost the will to hold herself up. "...may Rowena help us all."

With the tentative peace treaty in place, everyone finally began going their separate ways. Rona was about to apprehend Penny to ask for her real opinion, knowing that she might not explain some things in front of everyone, but she felt Oliver's hand slip into hers.

"I think I should go now," he murmured.

"I don't blame you. Morning's been too eventful already." Rona ambled backwards, pushing the door open, and leading him out. She noticed a couple curious stares at them and their joined hands and she flushed. Adjusting to the public eye was going to take some time. 

Oliver didn't quite meet her gaze. She frowned. "Is something wrong?"

He opened his mouth a few times to speak before finally saying, "It's nothing."

As if Rona needed any more evidence that Oliver was not okay, he threw out the line that only ever meant 'It's everything'. "Really?" she said with an unsure wince.

Oliver's smile was lilted strangely. "Really. Er, I'll see you later?" He took back his hand and gave a short wave.

It was the first time that week he had given her such a terse goodbye with no attempts to keep her longer. Rona refrained from pressing further, hoping he just needed some time to himself. "Yeah, okay. ...bye."

She leaned against the door and watched him descend the staircase without a glance back, and sighed as this new set of worries replaced her old ones. She hoped her confession of guilt wasn't responsible for his sudden shift in behavior, though she knew there could be no other reason. The great weight on her shoulders came crashing down again.

Only the fourth years were still milling about the common room when Rona turned around and went up the steps to her dorm. The chatter of her friends magnified as she reached the open door.

" — broke up? Why? What happened?"

"Nothing happened. Just... it was fun for the moment, you know? And the moment's passed."

Rona's only respite from all the fuss over herself had been Hannah and Jeremy's sudden split the day before. It seemed amicable enough, but both refused to give details. It was peculiar to see Jeremy ruffled up or Hannah not want to talk about something. They both insisted, however, that nothing was amiss.

"You two did look nice together when Jeremy was coherent," said Edie, swinging her legs on the side of her bed.

"Bah, don't pretend you aren't happy I'm not 'corrupting' him anymore," Hannah said with a harrumph. Her eyes lit up when she caught sight of Rona. "And how's our little vixen doing?"

Rona deflected Hannah's deflection with a question to Penny, who was unpacking. "So what do you think of him now?"

"Oliver? I've always thought he was a good bloke, Rona," Penny said absently as she inspected a skirt. "But just remember that Quidditch means everything to him." She tapped her wand thoughtfully on her chin. "It was really only the note that bothered me."

Rona blinked. "What?"

"The note. You said you found a note, right? Had a mess of names, yours was circled, and had 'revenge' or something?"

"Well... yeah, but we already figured out that he wanted revenge from Roger." After her initial interpretation of the paper, Rona had hardly given it a second thought. It was currently lost somewhere in the Imaginary Numbers: Fact or Fantasy? chapter of her Arithmancy book.

"I had thought, because he knew you were the team's strategist long ago, that he really did intend to take revenge against you, not Roger. You spied on his practices, after all." Penny resumed folding the rest of her clothes with a flick of her wand. "But between that and thinking this all was his master plan, I figured I was stretching it a bit far."

Implausible or not, the great weight on Rona's shoulder pushed her a little deeper into the earth. It might have been the stress of that morning creating her sudden spike in pessimism, but Penny's theory seemed just as sound as hers.

What if Oliver was acting strange because he was afraid being exposed? But she had just defended him! How could she be even thinking this? Or did Penny just finally put some sense into the situation?

Edie and Jeremy had been her cheering section for the better part of the holidays, without any real dissenting opinions. She only then fully realized just how short a time she had known Oliver.

"Tell Penny those stories of you and Oliver — that'll convince her for good," piped in Hannah. "'sides, I didn't get to hear all of them either with you keeping mum."

Rona wished she could convince herself that easily. She obliged if only in another attempt to remind herself of all the good memories.

Penny smiled, though it seemed out of obligation. "It is quite refreshing to see you interacting with something other than a book."

"So you think he's all right, then?" Rona tried not to sound too pleading.

She was already ignoring her in favor of her Charms textbook. "How many times do I have to say it? Good bloke, just telling you to watch yourself."

Rona tried her best to study, especially with classes beginning again, and told herself that all would be resolved after a good night's sleep. But in the back of her mind, the memories of Oliver continued to crumble one by one under the burden of doubt, and she had to wonder if Penny warning worked a little too well.

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