Chapter 16 : Intervention Convention
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She counted the days she had been stuck in such a state, always wondering how long it took for the emotional lows to go away. Two weeks? A month? She was so certain that once she set foot in the spectator booth, the prickling anticipation of the impending match would quash her depression.
Apparently, pretending that everything was okay in front of her friends meant holing herself in the third floor loo whenever she did want to cry. In the past week, she wallowed more than anything else. A healthy dose of catharsis was one thing, but the amount of her water intake wasted on tears was ridiculous.
She was not supposed to be in such a fit over a bloke.
Fine, he was special. She wished it didn't take breaking up for her to realize that. What's worse was that not two hours after their breakup, she realized she did trust him. She just hadn't known what it felt like. How to describe it. He was the only one who she was okay with showing the embarrassingly loony self who made mistakes by the dozens.
Still. He was just her former vaguely-defined boyfriend.
He was just a bloke.
It wasn't supposed to hurt like this.
Rona heard a whisper, distinct from the chatter of other nearby fans. "Do you suppose it'd be horribly insensitive of me to tell her she's blocking the view?"
Hannah and Edie were sitting on the benches behind her, occasionally whispering about her. They had yet to realize she was within earshot.
"Yes and the match hasn't started yet," Edie murmured in reply. "'sides, most people stand up to watch."
"Right. People come to watch the match."
"And not snog boys behind the stands."
"And not snog boys behind the stands," Hannah repeated, sounding quite pleased with herself. "Because snogging boys do not make the world go 'round."
"I'm proud of you, dear."
The day before, Hannah had jabbered on excitedly about how she had an epiphany that she and Jeremy could just be friends. She hadn't missed the wildly inappropriate make-out sessions as much as his company.
"Blokes are girls, too!" Hannah had declared as she clung to a confused Jeremy's arm.
"I think she means human," Rona had tried to explain, smirking at what a novel idea it seemed for Hannah. Truthfully, she couldn't help but be a bit jealous at how her relationship-trainwreck friend resolved her problems so quickly and simply.
Rona drummed her fingers against her thigh. The wait for the match to begin was dragging to an unbearable length. She arrived early to the pitch as a matter of habit but usually spent it in the locker room with the team, not turning into a lolly fifty meters up in gale-force winds.
One bloke avoiding her and one bloke to be avoided. Makings of a brilliant day.
She heard Hannah's hissing whisper again. "How long do you think she'll be mopey like that?"
Rona broke her silent eavesdropping to send a glare back. "I am not mopey!"
Edie pulled at Hannah's scarf. "I told you she could hear us." She smiled apologetically. "We're just concerned and hoping that today's match will cheer you up."
Rona sighed, knowing how much she had been worrying her friends as of late. "I'm fine, really. You know I would never let myself get in a fit over a bloke."
"Now, now. Feeling down after a breakup is nothing to be ashamed about."
"I am —"
"Not fine," Edie interjected, her lips now stern. She leaned forward, arm resting on her tucked-in knees. "I know you don't want to talk about it, but I can't help but think you're making things worse. It's been a week. Any reason why you haven't spoken to him yet?"
Rona still hadn't explained to them what happened. If they had seen the expression on his face from that day, they would understand why she didn't want to confront him again. She couldn't bear to see that hurt for a second time. Pushing down on the pockets of her coat, she scrabbled for a generic excuse. "It's not a big deal... we're both better off this way. I'm fine."
Hannah nudged Edie. "Probably thinks that she says that enough, it'll really be true," she said, voice still a loud whisper.
Rona narrowed her eyes. "Oh go snog someone behind the stands, why don't you?"
"Oi, cheap shot!" Hannah pouted and crossed her arms. "I am making a difference in my life right now. You, on the other hand, are getting very good at denial."
Rona would have retorted, but denying that she was in denial seemed a bit too contradicting. Instead, she sulkily sunk deeper into her scarf for warmth and tried not to think about how Oliver always offered his coat.
Edie clucked her tongue, but her attention quickly switched elsewhere as her mittened hands shot up, waving frantically in the direction of the booth's entrance. "Penny!"
Penny stood at the top of the stairs looking exceedingly confused as her head darted in all directions. She continued to peer around as she stalked over them, the displeasure in her frown intensifying.
Rona raised a brow. "Looking for Percy?"
Her frown dropped another notch. "Why does everyone think I'm looking for Percy?" Penny leaned over the edge, squinting at the nearby booths. "I'm just... surprised at the lack of attendance today. No one appreciates Quidditch anymore."
"Uh huh." Rona let her be only because when Penny had something to say, she would say it eventually.
Suddenly the stands erupted in thunderous applause, finally signaling the start of the match. Rona turned back to the pitch, half-heartedly contributing to the noise. The players appeared from the shadows, walking out on the grass from opposite ends — Ravenclaw on one side and Slytherin on the other.
Beside her, a constant muttering courtesy of Penny was audible above the din. "I will not meddle, I will not meddle, I will not meddle..."
Rona stared at her. Penny stopped her mantra to glare at her from the side. "I will not meddle!" she affirmed sharply, her nostrils flaring in a huff. "You... difficult... people! I am this close to Silencio-ing myself and I am not spoiling this. No, I am not..." Her rant degenerated into another string of mutterings.
Part of Rona wanted to press Penny for elaboration but her mind was elsewhere, namely Oliver. She seriously considered consulting Madam Pomfrey after the match for some potion to get him out of there. There had to be an easier way for people to deal with post-break up tumults and she doubted the power of gorging on a tub of a triple chocolate butterbeer ice cream.
The train of thought continued as the beginning ritual of the Quidditch match sped by — the captains' handshake, the release of the Snitch, the opening whistle and the flight of the brooms. She tried to pay attention and pump herself up to middling results.
"And another goal for Slytherin!" boomed Lee's commentary. "Already forty up, and we haven't even got to the meat of the game!"
The sprinkles to her bowl of joy.
Amongst the blur of blue and green cloaks, Rona was finally able to concentrate enough to zero in on the problem: Roger. Just like she feared, his mind wasn't on the game, brows ever creased as he tailed the Quaffle. The term 'blinded by fury' was no joke; there were far more stumbles and missed shots than usual. Her plays didn't work with a lacking captain.
Rona's grip on the railing tightened, damp from the melted frost, as she continued to watch the game in a bitter silence.
Suddenly a voice blared out, Rona Switt! What the hell do you think you're doing?
A mental image of herself walked to the stage of her mind, staring her down.
Look at yourself. Woe, woe, woe. Bloody ashamed to be your imaginary construct.
Merlin, she was even insensitive to herself.
Mental Rona rolled her eyes. Oh, get a grip, woman. Since when do you stand idly by when your team is losing? I know what you're thinking — I'm your subconscious, after all. You think nothing you do can make a difference anymore. That all you've worked for is now gone. Quidditch. Oliver.
Well, it was true.
Oh for the love of Rowena, NO! That is NOT the right answer! You're supposed to be inspired to fight for what you lost, idiot. You risked your position on the team for Oliver, and you risked Oliver for your team.
Her eyes fluttered down. She had. And she would do it all over again.
Then why are you scared to risk anything now? Yeah yeah, you'll get by without Quidditch or Oliver. Strong, independent Rona. All she needs is her books and herself. Or is she too stubborn to drop the act and admit how much they mean to her?
Rona bit her lip, knowing full well what the answer was. Perhaps the more troubling question was, why was she having a mid-teen crisis in the middle of a Quidditch match?
Oi, you thought me up. Ask yourself.
"Aaaaand Flint scores another one for Slytherin!" bellowed Lee's magnified voice.
Her mental self paced around in the fog of her mind. Do you hear that?
"Burrow catches the Quaffle, but Flint and Montague are on his tail. Doesn't look like he'll keep it for long!"
You're just going to let that go?
Rona winced as a Bludger barreled straight toward Randolph. He barely outflew it, the Bludger clipping his leg at the last moment.
Staying in your pity party?
She saw the problem immediately. Randolph was trying to do the Five-Headed Hydra, but it was a two-man maneuver and Roger was straggling behind.
Scared little —
"ROGER DAVIES, MOVE YOUR ARSE BEFORE RANDOLPH GETS KILLED!"
Roger suddenly faltered in his dive, glancing in her direction for the briefest of moments before resuming his flight toward Randolph with a renewed vigor. With Slytherin Chasers seconds away from cornering the other Chaser, Roger was finally close enough for Randolph to complete the maneuver by making a sharp turn and throwing the Quaffle underneath him.
"And Davies takes the Quaffle in a spectacular pass from Burrow! He's nearing the goals... Bletchley's geared to block and — what's this? Burrow comes out of nowhere! He gets the Quaffle! He — he scores!"
Her heart thudded in her ears, drowning out the cheers of the spectators around her. He listened. Roger listened to her.
The subconscious figure faded away, leaving only a Cheshire smirk. Took you long enough.
Rona swung forward, adrenaline pumping through her veins, and drew in a breath for her next shout. "GRANT, HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING I'VE TOLD YOU?"
The Keeper in question shrugged at her while trying to keep his attention on the Quaffle, which was on the other side of the pitch.
"THE SLYTHERIN WEAKNESS!"
After a few moments of staring blankly, his face lit up. For all their short tempers and short attention spans, Rona really did love her team. She grinned back, glad to be in the thick of the game again.
But there was still more to fix. Shouting at her team was easy — a matter of breaking through her stubbornness — but talking to Oliver was going to take courage she wasn't even sure she had. She buried her head in her hands, trying to keep all the pessimistic hypothetical outcomes out.
She had to do this. She needed it. And he needed to hear it.
Rona shut her eyes when the vertigo of staring straight down became too much. "Penny," she said finally, "you're going to think I'm going bonkers. But I've got to find Oliver now."
As an affirmation of her lunacy, she heard his voice tickling her ear. "To do what, love?"
First, it was her subconscious. Now she was imagining Oliver. She hit her forehead against her palm, thrice for good measure. "Get all the sodding voices out of my head."
A pair of arms wrapped around her waist. "For such a clever girl, you're awful slow."
Her eyes snapped open. Mental manifestations weren't warm. Still disbelieving, she reached for the hand by her middle, but she felt the scarred Keeper knuckles.
"Oliver," she breathed.
As soon as the clasp around her loosened, she spun around — and there he was, scruffier than she had ever seen him before and eyes twinkling as bright as ever.
"I —" she began, halting as all her practiced apologies slipped out of her mind. He hadn't spoken to her in a week. He should have been angry. She had not accounted for this. The past week had definitely worn him though. Tired lines outlined his countenance and his hair lay limp in clumps, pushed up in the back by a scarf with one end pulled too long.
Oliver tugged her by the elbows, drawing her in until her chin rested against his chest. "I never said I broke up with you, silly."
Her lips parted in question. What was he talking about? The memories of their fight were clear as ever.
"It was a huge row," he continued, pulling a strand of hair back behind her ear. "But not a break-up. I would tell you if we broke up. And I hope don't ever have to do that, because I really, really missed you this past week."
"Oh." They were still together. And he wanted to stay together. Rona broke into a grin as the thought repeated over and over. The sudden reversal of her mood was so great that she couldn't stop tears from pricking her eyes and she quickly reached up to rub them out. "I — I'm not — I'm just happy." She crushed herself against him, burying her face in his scarf. "I'm sorry," she mumbled. "About everything."
Oliver laid his head on top of hers. "It's okay. I... was stubborn. When I'm angry, I just... yell like that sometimes. Usually sounds a lot worse than it really is. If it happens again."
She gulped. She didn't doubt they would have many future quarrels, especially with how stubborn both of them were. The ache of the silent week throbbed again. But a week was better than a month, better than a year, better than forever, and if he could put up with all her messes, so could she.
She looked up, blinking blearily. "Hmm?"
"Don't you want to watch the match?"
She blushed. She had forgotten they were still standing the middle of a spectator booth. Her gaze traveled to the people around her and found a few more preoccupied with spectating them. At the very edge of her vision were three gleefully smug roommates. She scowled and stuck her tongue at them, even as she remained clinging to Oliver.
He chuckled. "You know, without them threatening to hex my hair off, I might not have stopped hiding behind the benches in the back."
"You've been here the whole time?" She blinked, imagining someone as burly as Oliver trying to look inconspicuous behind first-year heads.
A touch of sheepishness lit his smile. "Had a bit of cold feet." He turned her around to face the pitch again.
"I'll have you know," she said, giddiness distracting her from putting her full attention on the game, "I hate you for being responsible for this ridiculous grin while we're still down by fifty points and RANDOLPH WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT SHOWING OFF?"
Randolph broke off his flamboyant dive reluctantly, peering behind at her, and went on his way following the other two Chasers.
"Burrow gets a lashing from Ravenclaw's very own Rona Switt," announced Lee. "You may not see her on the pitch, but her yells keep that team in check!"
Her cheeks reddened even more as people nearby began staring at her.
"You might know her better as our brilliant Gryffindor captain, future Quidditch cup winner Oliver Wood's girlfriend —"
They had made a tremendous comeback in the latter half of the match, but the Snitch clinched the victory for Slytherin, though by only by thirty points. It was no fault of Cho, who had tried her best and then some, not to mention the Slytherins had made off with more than a few fouls.
Rona stomped around after the match, but she couldn't stay bitter. Oliver and endorphins came hand in hand. Plus, Ravenclaw remained second overall, and with one match left, the Cup remained very possible.
Throngs of students dotted the green as the booths emptied. Rona and Oliver descended the last steps leading down. She was about to follow the rest of her friends, who were walking ahead of her back to the castle, when he stopped her. "Not going to visit your team in the lockers?"
She was still avoiding Roger. He might have listened to her when she yelled at him, but she was now convinced it had been a fluke. "Roger won't want to see me," she said with a shrug.
Oliver rubbed the back of his neck, something she noticed he did if he was fiddling with a thought. "Maybe you should go talk to him."
She arched a brow. "But you hate him."
"Oi, I didn't say I didn't hate Roger. I said you should talk to him," he said, throwing an arm around her to steer her in a u-turn back to the pitch. "You've got to start listening. Last time we had this problem, you thought we broke up."
"So you still hate Roger," she said, obediently walking only because she knew he was right.
"Trust me, Quidditch captains hating each other is a fact of life. Like... the sky is blue. Dumbledore is old. Gryffindor will win the Cup this year."
Rona rolled her eyes. "You're down by three hundred points."
"Which will only make our comeback that much sweeter. Now go make amends. I know you miss your team."
While Oliver waited a ways outside, she walked down to the lockers. It was less rowdy than their last game, typical after a loss. Everyone had already finished showering and was in the middle of changing and packing up. One by one, they noticed her entrance and gave a wave. Roger had yet to look up.
"You lot did good today," she said. It was strange to sound so calm after yelling the entire match.
Jason scrunched up his brows, reeling back from his locker with a squinted eye. "That's it? You're worse when we win games."
Randolph kicked at him. "She's happy right now," he said as he pulled a shirt over his head. "Don't ruin it."
"No, I mean it," Rona insisted, though Randolph was correct. She couldn't remember the last time she said anything to him without trying to kill him. "We've got a good chance at the Cup still. We just have to make up for it in the next match."
Roger shut his locker and finally glanced up at her. A long quiet followed as the others hushed their conversations. "Still choosing Wood, are you?"
Her shoulders prickled. "I wouldn't need to choose if you just — "
"You were always trouble, Switt," he interrupted, strangely nonchalant. "You better not be late to practice on Monday on account of him."
She blinked, her finger that she raised in protest frozen in midair.
He held out a hand, mustering an awkward smile. "We couldn't have done it without you. I know what you've been doing in the evenings with the team."
Rona took his hand, not quite believing the lack of yelling that was happening at the moment. "Not even minding Oliver now?"
"Well don't expect me to invite him over for tea."
"At least you both agree on one thing." Her conscience prodded her to give, with great reluctance, the second necessary apology of the day. "I... should've told you the truth."
He shook his head, sighing in his captain way. "Apology accepted."
He smiled and she grinned back, for she knew that as much as they would disagree now and in the future, they both loved the team more than anything else, and that was all that mattered.
Jason whispered to Jeremy, "Do you think I'd be ruining this poignant moment with a group hug?"
"Not at all."
Rona then found herself tackled by the five other somewhat dressed blokes of her team. Just another day on the job for her.
"It's good to be back," she grinned.
A/N OMG GUYS. OMG. ONE MORE CHAPTER. I'm excited. ARE YOU EXCITED? The story's pretty much wrapped up from this chapter, and the last chapter shall be a happy epilogue-esque frolic through the Ravenclaw - Gryffindor game! :D
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