Chapter 29 : Pride, Prejudice, and Pleasantries
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For Pride and Prejudice, which obviously had a lot of say on this chapter. If you haven't seen the 2005 movie, I highly suggest it. Also for Big Bang Theory, which I have watched far too much of while writing this.
I thought moving around in a ball gown would be easier, or at least more graceful, but even though my feet were hidden I still looked like an idiot weaving my way through the crowd. By the time Oliver and I made our way out of the pantry the party was well under way and everyone had been through at least two glasses of champagne.
Six for Fred.
We made our way into the ballroom (Yes, Oliver’s parents’ house had a ballroom) and avoided the eyes of the girls Ellis would have described as Daughters. Their fiery expressions were far too obvious and the way they clutched the stems of their wine glasses told me one thing: Oliver was theirs. In their minds anyway. Oh, yes, in their dreams Oliver Wood hung off their arms and spoke in a voice that suggested he wasn’t just out of Hogwarts, living the dream, and trying not to boss around his own captain.
Oliver chuckled, handing me a glass of red wine and steering me away from Fred and his revival of the Sprinkler.
“Oliver.” Mrs. Wood was perched on the arm of a nearby sofa, her dress long with lace sleeves.
I thought of my mother reading Emma. I thought of so much of that world, picturing Mrs. Wood as the lethal Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice. Obviously different, yet so similar.
“Mother,” he said with tight lips.
Caroline, I thought.
“It is a rather nice turn out, is it not?” Was this seriously the same woman who taught Oliver to make his famous brownies? How could she talk with her teeth barely moving? Part of me was certain it had something to do with Oliver’s guest.
“It is,” he said, glancing around. “A lot of Puddlemere support. I’m certain since we beat the Magpies people are taking us seriously.” Blatant parental stab. Well done, Oliver. He squeezed my hand.
“Yes, I do see that.” Mrs. Wood swirled her drink. “Lovely to see you, Miss Perry.”
“And you.” I tried to smile. Showed a little teeth. Then drank my wine.
“Good that other teams are showing up,” Mrs. Wood said, trying to regain composure since I wasn’t talking about the splendor of the place like Miss Bennett. My name was so ironic in this sense, though Oliver was a bit out of place. I’d call him Charles.
I needed to stop reading before bed.
“I saw Bouchard from the Canadian International team.” Oliver twisted his head. “He’s here with his Quadpot mates even though he plays both. I always thought that was silly.”
“The Harpies are here as well.”
I tried not to choke. Okay, so I was no stranger to famous people. I went out with Liam Denters, I met half of the noted Quidditch writers, as well as danced in the same room as half the players. I had a heart-to-heart with Bastian Ricci and was dating the new rookie Oliver Wood, but I’d never met the Harpies. They were playing an away game in Italy during the fundraiser dinner. I knew because it was the first thing I looked up.
And now they were here. The Hollyhead Harpies. My favorite team.
Twisting my neck to see them hurt so I stopped.
“Are you fond of the Harpies, Miss Perry?”
“I am,” I said quietly. I didn’t want her to tell me that I was unsuited for them so I should just fall off the face of the planet. Not that I wanted to play Quidditch. I didn’t. I was just riffraff.
“They’re Jane’s favorite team.”
Thanks, Oliver. Appreciated.
The songs changed, Fred retreated to the restroom with Angelina giggling in tow, and Alicia forced George onto the floor. She twirled him and Lee pretended to be jealous. All without straight faces. And I was stuck on the sofa with a stiff-backed Oliver and his mother. And the hope of meeting the Harpies. I wondered where they were. If they were being rebels and wearing their robes instead of fancy dresses.
At least she wasn’t calling me riffraff.
Bloody fucking shit.
“Bridget, dear!” Mrs. Wood nearly leapt to her feet to fawn over Bridget, who was making her way over in the most ridiculous dress I’d seen in a while. The top was fitted and lemony yellow, while the bottom was white and looked like a giant wedding cake. It had frills, flowers, and even an assortment of colored feathers. Sick.
“Wonderful to see you—thanks for the invite. Daddy is having a lovely time!” She beamed and kissed Mrs. Wood’s cheek.
I felt like the sneakers of this couture party.
Oliver squeezed my hand again and I remembered the pantry. Beat that, Bridget.
“I’m glad, dear.” Mrs. Wood smiled. “Why haven’t you been dancing? You dance so well.”
She looked like a ferret while dancing, that’s why.
“I’m afraid I’ve come without a date.” If she actually talked like that I was a pickled herring. There was even a slight accent. Not even her regular Welsh, it was more Australian. What the hell, Bridget?
“Oliver would love to dance with you, wouldn’t you, Oliver?”
I choked on my wine. Had I disappeared? Seriously. I checked. Nope. My ballgown was still there—still green and black and a little out of place with the muted colors of this party. Hair was still there. Arms. Fingers. Yep. All there. And so was my bleeding date.
He gave me an annoyed look. A look that meant very clearly he would have to dance with the vixen in order to get his mother off his back. A look that meant he wanted us to bond. Fat chance, Oliver Wood.
With that, with a glance and a nod, Oliver and Bridget (obnoxiously holding hands) swayed onto the dance floor to boogie. As Fred would call it. He still hadn’t come back and I knew the pair were off snogging somewhere I was quite certain they’d be caught in a matter of minutes.
“I know you don’t like Bridget,” Mrs. Wood said softly.
Well, no shit.
“I don’t know anyone that does,” I replied. Hell, if she already didn’t like me I wasn’t going to be someone I wasn’t.
“Neither do I.”
I glanced over. Say what.
“Bridget is a very interesting girl who has her hopes on Oliver suddenly falling in love with her.” She took another sip of her wine. “Unfortunately for her, he has absolutely no interest. There are a magnitude of reasons, mostly due to her throwing herself at him and having no social boundaries, but it’s obviously because his heart is somewhere else.” There was a small shrug. “Bridget’s father is one of our closest friends. He’s a lovely man and puts a great deal of money into Puddlemere. Obviously.”
“I’ve never met him.”
“He wants Bridget to be happy.”
Mrs. Wood watched them dance. “The pair would make my husband very proud since, well, nevermind, but it would. But it wouldn’t make Oliver happy. And I know that. And I know you know that.”
I sat, frozen, on the sofa, still extremely confused as to what conversation I was having with Mrs. Wood while my boyfriend swayed on the dance floor with Bludgers for Brains Bridget Lilion.
“I just wanted to let you know I’m happy for him. And you. He’s a wonderful boy.”
“I thought you were cutting him off for going to Puddlemere and for dating riffraff and all that rubbish,” I said, not meaning for it to come out as harsh as it was.
“Can you blame me? I don’t talk to my son for weeks and suddenly all of his plans are going out the window, he’s going to a team we never discussed and dating a girl he’d never told us about.” She looked at me down the end of her nose. “That’s a parent’s nightmare! I thought he was going through some rebellious phase.”
I gaped at her. “So you thought he just wanted to defy you by signing with Puddlemere and dating someone that wasn’t either a Quidditch Daughter or someone fabulously gifted at the sport?”
“So you thought you’d bring him to his senses in front of said person who wasn’t gifted?”
I groaned. “Bugger.”
“Point is I don’t know what to do. I thought this would make it better—sponsoring a segment on the Quidditch network. It seems not to have done much other than gotten Bridget’s hopes up again.”
“The dancing idea didn’t really help,” I said. “Have you tried talking to him about it? He responds well to communication.” Snarky comeback number two complete.
Bridget kept trying to get closer to him while dancing. Made me want to vomit. Multiple times.
“And I know you’re not bad for Oliver, Jane,” Mrs. Wood said tactfully. “I was wrong and I admit it. I’ve heard you had a meeting with Valerie Gig.”
“It was lunch, yes.”
“Valerie and I go way back. I used to be a Quidditch writer before I met Atticus—that’s how we met actually. Her opinion is very important to me and she’s quite fond of you.”
My insides squirmed. “She is?”
“Yes, she is. I can’t speak for Atticus, but I think she’s right. You’re a wonderful girl and I think we need to get to know you more than we do. Especially if you mean this much to Oliver. If you make him happy, that’s what matters.” It looked difficult for her to say.
I didn’t exactly blame her. My eyes were downcast for most of the conversation, but when I looked up and saw tears in her eyes I knew she meant what she said. Even if it was different than the grand Quidditch wedding she was probably planning for her son.
Speaking of wedded bliss, George was in front of me with an extended hand. “Since Oliver is preoccupied, can I have this dance?” His eyes were glittering.
“Excuse me,” I said to Mrs. Wood, grabbing George’s hand and letting him sweep me onto the dance floor. Part of me was relieved to have a rescuer in the form of a ginger twin, but the other part of me was curious as to where that conversation might have gone.
So Mrs. Wood approved of Oliver and me. She wanted him to be happy and only suggested he dance with Bridget to talk to me alone.
So her vegetables weren’t poison.
George’s smile lit up the room. It always did, but I’d almost forgotten what it looked like. He took my hand, wrapped another around me, and steered me around. He was also the best dancer on the Quidditch team. Fred always described his moves as elegant but the better word was problematic. Oliver could dance however he wanted. His sexy features said so.
“Janey, I had to rescue you from Oliver’s mum,” he said loudly, twirling me around so my dress flared out at the bottom. “Couldn’t let you do that when I could have just asked you to dance!”
“How do I look, George?” I smiled.
“Lovely, as always.” We moved toward the fireplace in a waltz. Something I hadn’t done since I was little. “Jane, is Katie coming to the Burrow?”
“Why? Don’t you hate her guts or something like that? If I tell you no surely then you’ll decide to move out of the Burrow for the summer and hide in some rabbit hole or something?”
He laughed. I missed it. “No, I won’t. I might hide in my bedroom for a while, but not in a rabbit hole. We’re doing tents this year, did Fred tell you?”
“No!” I said, twirling around. “It won’t be like the retreat, will it? No team-builders and laps, right?”
“Unless Angelina decides we need to be a team again.” George ruffled his hair. “It’ll be hot anyway so no freezing rain and locker rooms and no to you wearing Wood’s clothes.”
“Ah, yes, back when denial was a popular option,” I chuckled, remembering the butterflies when I placed my head on Oliver’s stomach. “I hear history is repeating itself.”
“Bugger off.” He was still smiling.
“These tents are going to be large—two tents, I assume.”
“Mum won’t let us have one. She’s too old fashioned. It’s not like Fred and Ang won’t sneak out to have sex anyway. It’s just easier now.”
“Nice topic of conversation at a formal event.” I winked, glancing at Katie out of the corner of my eye. She was swaying to the beat and set of glass of wine delicately on top of a coaster. “George, why don’t you go ask her to dance?”
“Are you joking me? She wants me dead.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re being melodramatic,” I said. “You guys have been friends for years. Sure, you had a fight and broke up or whatever it was that happened, but you’re going to have to deal with each other and you might as well dance it out.”
“Fred didn’t dance it out.”
“Are you Fred?” I narrowed my eyes and he twirled me. “No, Fred came to his senses. You’re a little more stubborn, aren’t you?”
“Jane, you sure know how to talk to a bloke.”
“Don’t make me ask her for you.”
George was about to say something, but his throat made a noise and he stopped. He also stopped dancing, which was a little awkward considering we were in the center of the floor.
“Can I cut in?”
Well, it seemed as if my threat was empty since the small voice of Katie Bell was in my ear. I very nearly leapt away from George. “Oh, yeah, sure.” He was pale and turning a little green. And shaking. It was like he’d only first met my stunningly beautiful friend, Katie Bell.
I chuckled. “And George?”
He looked over as Katie took his hand in hers.
“She’ll be at the Burrow. Start preparing the rabbit hole.”
“So let me get this straight.” Alicia was ticking things off her fingers. We were in the restroom, which I’d drug her into immediately after watching George and Katie meet adoring eyes on the center of the dance floor. Oliver was still occupied with Bridget when we left and his face told me of his misfortunes. I couldn’t even see his lips. That was the way I liked it.
“So Katie and George are dancing…together? On the dance floor? With each other?” She fixed her hair in the mirror.
“That’s what I said. I was dancing with him and threatening to ask Katie to dance with him if he didn’t and then there she was—right there! And she asked to cut in!”
“Do you think she’s seeing the light?’
“That she was an idiot to break up with lovable George over napkins? No shit.” I laughed, tending to my own flyaway hairs. “And I think he has finally realized he overreacted and was being someone that wasn’t our George.”
“Unfathomable.” Alicia laughed, sticking her pinky out.
I thought about my linking Mrs. Wood to Caroline Bingley. To Oliver being Charles. Was Katie my Elizabeth?
If she was, Alicia could by Lydia. Except she didn’t run off with Bastian. Or should I say, Mr. Dishy Wickham.
I was throwing that book under the bed when I got home.
“Jealousy really isn’t good for you, Jane.” Bridget was leaning against the wall nearest to the door. How much she’d heard, I wasn’t sure.
“Bleeding hell,” Alicia blurted out. “I feel like she goes everywhere we go. Follows you to the loo and everything.”
“On the contrary,” Bridget said, smirking, “I was here first. This is my world, my surroundings. It’s you who don’t belong here.”
“On the contrary,” Alicia said, temper flaring already, “Get a bleeding life. Leave Jane alone and go pine in your room for Oliver. It’s pathetic.”
I put up a hand before Bridget could respond. “What do you want?”
“I want to let you know his parents approve of us. This is destined to happen and you’re just getting in the way.”
“Oh, shocker, something you’ve never said before.” I rolled my eyes. “If that’s it I’m going to finish my makeup and rejoin the party.”
“Didn’t you hear me, scum? I said you’re not welcome here.”
Alicia tensed next to me, but said nothing. I knew her fingers were around her wand already.
So were mine.
Which is why I was ready when a burst of red light went flying at my face. I ducked, leapt behind a sofa, and fired back. “Stupify!” I cried, missing by inches.
“Son of a bitch!” Alicia shouted, hiding around the corner where the toilets were. “What a crazy bitch—Expelliarmus!”
“He has been mine since as long as I can remember!” Bridget shouted, sending another jet of light toward me, this time blue. I head the couch singe.
Now I was Elizabeth Bennett feeling the wrath of—shit! That bitch got my hair.
Confrontation wasn’t my favorite thing in the world. Though I managed to shut down Libby, I let Alicia take on Mandy Brocklehurst. And Bridget was a girl I didn’t want to mess with from day one. From the first day at the Quidditch Cup where she stuck her uncommonly upturned nose into my business by flirting with my boyfriend and starting a downward spiral of our previous relationship.
I thought of that silly red dress, of her treatment of me like I was less important than her because my dad didn’t own a Quidditch team.
Well, I’ll tell you right now, Bridget Lilion, I may have less than you financially, but I’ll always have more than you.
“Jane!” Alicia dove out from behind the wall. “You knocked her out. Holy shit, nice one.”
Chest heaving, I emerged from the close-to-destroyed sofa. Bridget was sprawled out on the ground, hair all over the ground and dress torn.
I glanced down. My own dress, which had stuck out from behind my sanctuary, was also torn. It created a small slip with jagged edges.
“I’ll fix it,” Alicia said, following my gaze. She waved her wand and then snorted. “Oh, seriously, Bridget?”
“Hmm?” I fixed my hair again.
“She cursed it torn. I’m sure she was trying to curse you, but really? Over a boy? Blimey, Quidditch people have more problems than I thought. Well, we can leave it like that or cut it. Your choice.”
“I’m sure everyone would love that.” I made a disgruntled face. “Eugh, really, dress tragedy right after I have a heart-to-heart with Mrs. Wood, Katie and George are looking at each other, and then I have an epic bathroom battle with Bridget bleeding Lilion. What a night.”
“Here.” Alicia waved her wand again and the dress was to my knees. Now I looked less formal, but more me.
Eh. I liked it. If no one else did, well, I had just taken out Bridget. I’d take them out too.
Alicia kicked her in the side for good measure. “That’s what you get for attacking Gryffindors, bitch.” She smirked and we left, arm in arm, to find the rest of our group.
Oliver’s kiss caught me by surprise as I wove in and out of the crowd trying to find him. “I thought someone had offed you by now.”
“It wasn’t without trying,” I said with a smile. “How was dancing?”
“Miserable, but I’m sure you knew that.” Oliver kissed me again and steered me in the direction of the refreshments. “I saw you dancing with George. He was smiling. That’s a nice change.”
“Did you see who cut in?”
“Bridget was discussing the names of our future children, so no.”
His eyes widened. “Really?”
“Honestly.” I smiled and kissed his cheek. “This is lovely! With that, your mother approving of me and Bridget unconscious in the bathroom, this day is nearly complete.”
He opened his mouth and then closed it again. A small pause. “I don’t even think I want to know, do I?”
“Not at all.”
“Say.” Oliver was smirking. I knew that smirk. It was the secretive, sexy smirk I fell in love with. “Say, I think there’s someone you should meet.”
“Who might that be?”
“Follow me.” He grabbed my hand and we were sliding through couples and wine glasses toward the ballroom. “By the way, I like the alterations. Less like a ball gown, but it works.” Oliver winked.
Sodding chump. And I loved every second of it.
And then suddenly there she was—chatting it up with a few members of the Falmouth Falcons. The woman in the posters I had at Hogwarts. The woman I looked up to—that I strived to be. I wouldn’t admit it, of course, but following the Harpies really got me into Quidditch. That, Quidditch Weekly, and the hatred of Oliver Wood.
Strike that last part now.
Valmai Morgan was the only one there at the moment, to which Oliver nodded at the bar and I saw several other ladies laughing with drinks in their hands.
My hands were sweating. Valmai was a wicked good Chaser. Even Angelina admired her.
“Ms. Morgan.” Oliver beamed.
“Oliver sodding Wood!” she cried, almost tossing her drink on a Falcon, and threw her arms around him. “I haven’t seen you in ages, mate. Why haven’t you been around to practice? Is it because you’re a big shot now you’ve shut down the shit Magpies?”
“I won’t be a big shot until I’m showing up to fundraisers with a shiny silver cup.” He chuckled. “How’ve you been? Saw the Harpies are undefeated in exhibition games so far.”
“We’re quite a force this year. Called up a new Seeker and she’s a bleeding beast.” Valmai smiled. “Speaking of beastly Seekers.” She nodded to me. “You must be Jane.”
“I dunno if beastly is quite the word for my Snitch catch, but I’ll certainly take credit.” I smiled. Well, I tried to. Nerves always threatened a perfect smile. “Nice to meet you.”
Her hair was a bright near-white blond and her eyes were as green as the Holyhead logo. And as the dress she wore. Coincidence? I think not.
“Oliver told me you want to be a writer and not a player. I’ll be the first one to tell you,” she said with a pause, “that playing is much more fun. The parties are just better. But then again, if you’re still with my favorite Keeper here, you’ll be invited all the same.” Valmai winked, laughing. “You’ll be coming out to some Harpies games this year, right? They’ll be fun since we’re so damn good. Yes, Oliver, that good.”
He narrowed his eyes playfully. “We’ll see when Puddlemere plays the Harpies this year. When I shut down your Quaffle throw. I know your style, Morgan.”
I allowed myself to laugh.
“Oh bugger!” She waved to a player I didn’t recognize and I figured it was the new Seeker. “I’ve got to run. Lovely to meet you, Jane! I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon. I’ll be your first interview when you start to write. I’ll answer the question, how did it feel to wipe the floor with Oliver Wood?” Valmai winked, kissed Oliver’s cheek, and made her way to the bar.
“And today keeps getting better and better.” I beamed, fingers still shaking. I had just met a member of the Holyhead Harpies. My favorite Quidditch team since I defied my father’s love of the Tornadoes as a wee little Hogwarts girl.
“It’s about to get better.”
Our hands were together again and Oliver was dragging me through the crowd (was that Fred with another glass of wine?) until we each had an intake of fresh air on the balcony. There were only two lights out there and one other person who looked to be ill in the corner.
The stars and moon were lighting Oliver’s eyes and I beamed, kissing him lightly on the nose. “It’s beautiful,” I said.
“One day,” he said quietly, leaning over the edge of the balcony, “One day I’m going to marry you, Perry. Plan your life accordingly.”
At first my breath was caught in my throat, but then, smiling like an idiot, I said, “You keep making those brownies, Wood, and we’ll see.”
I glanced over. “Hmm?”
His eyes were practically dancing. “I have something.”
For a split second I was about to have a panic attack, until out of his jacket he pulled a rectangular box. I couldn’t breathe. He opened it and in the center sat a wonderful silver chain with a glittering red jewel on the end.
“They don’t make red and gold.” He smirked.
“I’m strangely okay with it.” I kissed him, the night air sending chills down my back.
Oliver tossed the box aside and draped the necklace across my collar bone, clasping it in the back. “I am the luckiest guy in the world,” he whispered, kissing me again. “How did I ever land someone beautiful, snarky, and capable of making me so happy and so furious at the same time?”
“Pure luck of course.” I ran my fingers across the thin chain. The wind blew some of Oliver’s hair into his face.
“I love you, Jane.” He wrapped an arm around me and brought my close.
He thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. I was standing on a balcony with a guy who thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. I had friends (although delusional ones) that I loved more than anything, a father that let me get away with anything, and another year at Hogwarts to look forward to. Even for a pessimist, life was looking rather radiant from where I stood on that grand marble balcony, face snuggled into Oliver’s shoulder.
“I have an idea,” I said, remembering the box of chocolates I saw inside.
“What? Snogging out here? I’m in.”
“No, weirdo, it’s a surprise.” I smiled, forced his eyes closed, and retreated inside to grab the box of assorted chocolates. I glanced around, my eyes finding Fred and Angelina busting a move on the dance floor. Katie and George weren’t around and Alicia was reenacting her kicking Bridget in the loo.
The box of chocolates were unattended on the refreshments table. Of course there wasn’t a label telling me which ones would be awful and which ones were good, but Oliver was a guy so I assumed he loved chocolate just like I did. Alicia took it to a whole other level, so I wouldn’t let her see where I was going with her soon-to-be prey.
I was almost out the door when my wrist was snatched by none other than dishy Liam Denters himself. I beamed.
“Liam! I’ve been looking for you tonight, you know.”
He wasn’t smiling. “Jane, I need your help.”
“With what?” I raised a brow. “I’m sort of on a chocolate mission at the moment.”
“How do I ask Michelle to dance with me?”
“Is this a trick question?”
Liam let go and pushed his hair back. “I’m nervous.”
“You’re ridiculous. She fancies you. Just go ask her.”
He shrunk back against the curtains. Oliver was tapping his foot, eyes still closed. “So you’re saying I should just go…ask? Like say, Do you want to dance? That sounds foolish.”
“I bet it won’t seem foolish when she says yes.” I smiled. “I’ll follow up with you soon. I have to go surprise the luckiest bloke in the world.”
Liam glanced behind me and finally smiled. “Have fun. I’ll let you know how it goes. If it goes.”
I kissed his cheek. “She likes you, Liam. Don’t give up. You’re just on a seriously misguided case of hard to get.” I let him go and watched him casually approach Michelle, who was in conversation with Stewart.
“I’m back,” I said cheerfully. “And I have a surprise.”
“Is it that costume again? I could go for that right about now.”
“Perv.” I punched him in the arm. “No, it isn’t. Stop guessing. I want you to open your mouth.”
He made a noise. “This sounds either really hot or really weird.”
“Shut up and open your mouth.” I stared down at the chocolates. Heart-shaped ones, triangles, peculiar squares with lumps. I grabbed for a smooth chocolate in the center, popped it into Oliver’s mouth and hoped it wasn’t those sick cherry ones I hated so much.
“Chocolate!” he exclaimed, a smile instantly forming. He hugged me. “I love chocolate. Where’d you get them?” He looked at the package. “Ah, Mother always buys these. She gives me the ones she doesn’t like. Which did you give me?”
“I dunno. I picked one. Why don’t you tell me?” I said this playfully, but my expression was quickly changed when Oliver knit his brows together.
Then Oliver was choking and I was screaming and the balcony was filled with so many people it hurt to move. Mrs. Wood was yelling and Mr. Wood was grabbing his son and Liam caught me as I fell to my knees, panic finally taking over my body.
A/N: Dun dun dunnn. Sorry for the cliffie, but Jane's attention to detail doesn't really do well under pressure. Or panic. Whatever :) I hope you enjoyed it, especially Oliver's wonderful suave and romantic self. I always love him.
What the heck happened to Oliver? And did Katie and George's dance end in smiles or hexes? Most importantly, did anyone go back and kick Bridget again? Hmm.
Up Next: Panic, late-nights, sleep, and someone carries someone else.
Share your thoughts. xoxo
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