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Chapter 17 : The Last Match
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Rona's eyes snapped open at the sound of Oliver's voice, but they did not want to stay open. She mumbled a sentence so incoherent with sleep that even she wasn't sure what she was saying and promptly burrowed deeper into Oliver's shoulder.
"Rona, wake up."
She squirmed around as the vibration from his chest tickled her side and foiled her attempts to ignore him. She had promised to keep him company that morning as he prepped for the match but hadn't realized he meant at the crack of dawn.
"Oi, dead weight!"
Her stomach lurched as the surface underneath her gave way, and she fanned her arms out wildly in an ineffective attempt to find the closest handhold — but it was unnecessary; Oliver caught her before she plunged more than a wand's length.
Rona had been sitting in his lap. Currently, however, she was wedged in the gap between his legs, her feet stuck up on one end and inches from kicking him in the face. The arms that caught her around her shoulders and knees lifted her out of this predicament, unceremoniously depositing her to a seat next to him on the bench.
With the last of her sleep knocked out of her system, she sent him a glower to which he responded with a peck on the cheek. "Sorry love, but I lost all feeling my legs ten minutes ago, and I need functional limbs for today's match."
"Excuses," Rona muttered, reaching down to pick up the textbook that had fallen off the bench during the tussle. She had brought it with the intention of studying, but according to Oliver, he had found her snoring face first between pages ninety and ninety-one within five minutes of arriving on the pitch. He had carried her into the locker at some point, and she had been dozing on and off since then.
Not expecting a second attempt to study to be any more successful, she slumped against his shoulder to glance at the clipboard he held instead. It held typical captain fare: reminders, observations from practice, tips from the latest Quaffle Quoter.
They had been looser with keeping their team secrets close during the past weeks. The first time she had forgotten her notebook at Oliver's dorm, she had retrieved it from him the next day with some hesitancy. Oliver promised her that he didn't open it and from the way he looked at her and how he grasped her hand she knew that he was telling the truth. She had forgotten it a few more times — he had a way of making her careless around him — but she stopped worrying by then.
Oliver even invited her to his practices. Roger then grudgingly muttered Oliver wasn't such a troll after all, though it was followed by a suggestion to remember any details just in case the relationship went sour. Everyone else cooed over how sweet the gesture was. To Rona, it was just a testament to how absurdly Quidditch-filled her romance had been.
Besides, she knew that the real reason Oliver wanted her at practices was so he could show off.
Rona was in the middle of deciphering the second half of his scrawled notes — the more she stared at it, the more it looked like an avant-garde art piece rather than a paragraph — when it suddenly snapped out of view.
"No peeking!" Oliver challenged her with a smirk as he held it an arms-length away.
Her eyes narrowed. She had left a very comfortable bed for him and now he had broke the golden rule: interrupting her reading. Granted, it wasn't hers to read, but that was a secondary concern — he had interrupted her reading.
Rona planted a kiss on the side of his chin and another one slightly below, keeping her eyes trained on his all the while. She had more than just Quidditch strategies up her sleeve.
Oliver swallowed nervously and his arm slackened as she continued her slow assault up his jaw. "I know what you're trying to do..." he murmured, though he didn't resist.
Now she knew why he liked to tease her; this was fun. Her fingers crawled up the front of his shirt and hooked around the collar. "Yeah, but it'll still work won't it, love?"
It was the kiss behind his ear that made Oliver snap. The clipboard hit the bench and before she knew it, his lips caught hers and he pulled her back into his lap, his arms tight around her waist and insistent on her staying there.
Rona let herself get distracted for awhile, tangling her fingers in his hair. Only reluctantly did she loosen a hand to search for the fallen set of notes. At the first rustle of paper underneath her touch, she broke out of Oliver's clutch and shot across the room, looking back only to leave an impish grin.
"Oi!" Oliver bolted after her, still under a a half-distracted daze.
She skidded to the back row of lockers with her prize in a tight hold. She could care less about the information it held. The point was she had it and he did not. Rona recited the first sentence that caught her eye. "Play Twenty Two: loop around opponent's Chasers and — " She ducked away from his lunge. "— have Beater hit Bludger from above. Follow up by — "
Oliver grabbed her by the waist and plucked the board from her grasp. "Forgot I'm a Keeper?" he said as he dangled it in front of her.
Rona pushed at the arms that held her prisoner, but it was futile. Strategizing about Quidditch unfortunately did not improve upper body strength quite like playing Quidditch did. She craned her head upwards, a back-up ploy in mind. "I was just wondering why you're playing with these formations," she said, shrugging. "I suppose if you think your team just isn't skilled enough to perform the real stuff —"
The victorious smirk dropped. He flipped through the pages. "Which plays are you talking about — "
Her suppressed laugh came bubbling out and Oliver froze, the guilt of gullibility unmistakable. "Very funny..." he said, flicking her on the head.
Rona twisted around to face him. "I win this round."
He rolled his eyes. "Why not we let today's match decide that?"
"Why... don't you just admit that I win?"
And because both of them went by the mantra 'two can play it that game', instead of replying, Oliver dipped down to kiss her instead.
The two danced across the room in their embrace, until her back found the side of the locker. As many times as Rona had been averse to being in such a position before, she had no objections then. He broke off their kiss but not a second passed before she seized him close again, and when her lips were about to leave his, he insisted they stay.
The pattern continued until Rona knew they were losing track of time. She shouldn't have been surprised when a light cough interrupted them. She could hear the swear under his breath and her cheeks begin to burn before they even turned to the doorway and saw the six amused members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
"Safe to say you had a good morning, cap'n," said Alicia, raising a brow.
They fumbled out of each other's grasp. Oliver reached up to fix his mussed hair, though his fiddling only made it worse. "I thought I said to meet here at nine-thirty."
Fred tapped the face of the pocket watch he had been swinging around. "It's nine thirty-two."
"Since when do any of you ever arrive on time?"
The irritation in Oliver's voice caused all sorts of tittering amongst the girls. "It's all right," said Alicia with a smirk. "We'll give you a moment to sort out your libido. I mean, Quidditch could only suppress it for so long."
As Oliver floundered with his words, Rona took pity and smoothed past her embarrassment long enough to address the group. "I should probably get going, actually..."
She picked up her book and the clipboard, offering the latter to Oliver, but he took her hand instead. "You don't have to go," he said with a twinge of dejection.
"And risk me undermining your authority every chance I get?" She replaced her hand with the clipboard and kissed his cheek, hovering by his ear to send a last taunt. "You're going down."
His eyes flashed to hers. "Wanna bet?"
"Not money. Loser does anything the winner tells them to." He winked. "Familiar terms?"
Rona hesitated, her overactive imagination providing interesting possibilities for Oliver's potential demands, but she could see 'Scared?' about to leave his lips.
She took her leave, squeezing past the still-grinning team by the doorway with a sheepish smile. Thank Merlin it wasn't her own team; she doubted she could show her face ever again, let alone make a graceful exit.
George nudged his twin. "Let's throw the match so she can sell Oliver again."
Oliver began barking orders like he was trying to make up for his earlier fluster by going into extreme captaining mode. Rona was barely able to stop laughing when she arrived at her own team's lockers. Jeremy and Roger glanced up at her entrance and mumbled their respective good-mornings. Roger resumed shaking out his robes, but Jeremy stared at her with increasing scrutiny and the same smile that the Gryffindor team sported earlier.
"Didn't see you at breakfast this morning."
The departed blush returned again. "Oh shut up."
"If this morning didn't involve some sort of sabotaging," said Roger, swinging around, "please, for the sake of decency, discuss later."
Rona sat down the bench with her open textbook but her mind was still hazy with Oliver. "If we're lucky, I permanently damaged his leg."
She caught the insinuation barely after Jeremy did. He smirked. "Kinky."
"Like how Hannah permanently damaged your brain and how I will permanently damage you." Rona raised a hand to smack him.
He swat her out of the way. "I am ever surprised at his patience in putting up with you."
"Already taking his side?" It hadn't been until earlier that week that she had discovered Jeremy and Oliver's sudden camaraderie, and they still wouldn't say how it came to be, though it was no doubt bonding over Quidditch dreams and silly girls. They made a habit of taking their morning flights at the same time and she was sure by now they were braiding each other friendship bracelets.
"He's for Puddlemere. How can I not? Speaking of Puddlemere, Jonathan Ridley's supposedly coming to see the match today — "
"JONATHAN RIDLEY?" she shrieked, before promptly clapping a hand over her mouth in horror at the squeal that left her mouth.
It was at that moment that Jason and the rest of the fourth years happened to walk through the doorway and now the entire team stood gaping at her. Roger was the first to form words. "What...the hell... was that?"
"...that wasn't... I was..." Rona cleared her throat, trying her best to maintain composure. "It's exciting. That's all. Not every day we have a Quidditch celebrity at Hogwarts." She stood straighter and put her hands on her hips for added authority. "And he's probably here scouting for recruits, so we better all do our best to impress him. I want to look good."
Jeremy cleared his throat. "You mean, we want to look good, right?"
The team snickered around her and she sent her withering gaze around the room. "Well, we should want to look good anyhow. It's our last game." She smiled wryly. "And if we do well enough, who knows? Maybe I'll sell Oliver to you lot."
After accidentally staying too long in the lockers, Rona rushed up the stairs to the spectator booth just as the players were walking out on the pitch. Her friends were in the usual spot at the front. Percy was there as well, an arm draped around Penny's shoulders.
"We better win," said Rona as she joined them. "I've got a lot at stake here."
"You and everyone else," said Edie absently as she scanned the paper she held. "Okay, who's on... incident at the handshake?"
Percy and Hannah raised a hand. "I'm telling you," Percy said to Penny. "He's prone to violent outbursts. The man throws clocks."
Rona blinked. "You're running bets? ...on whether Oliver and Roger will beat each other up?"
"Rona darling, we've been running bets for ages," said Hannah. "Speaking of which, I called it on the sneaking out for pre-game snogging." She beckoned at Penny, who fished out a bag of sickles from her pockets while muttering something about 'Rona's bloody hormones'.
"How do you even know about that?!"
Hannah handed her a consolatory sickle as she counted the rest. "When there's money on the line, we know everything."
Rona stuck her head over Edie's shoulder to read the paper. "First kiss... the date... whether he's spying... whether I'm spying — you even bet on whether Jason would accept him?"
"Pish posh, that's all just small stuff. Today's match is the most important." Penny tilted her head toward Percy. "He wanted to go big. Ten Galleons for the winning team."
Percy wrung his hands like a man without the money to pay up. "I'm trying to recover my losses."
"The first bet was on whether you would ever fancy him at all. Percy, ever so generous to that dolt of yours, said that Oliver wouldn't be able to seduce a cactus if he wanted to."
"No offense to you, Rona," he added.
Rona searched around for someone who saw this scene as absurdly as she did. Her relationship had instigated an inter-house gambling ring. And she wasn't even getting a cut of the money.
"They're doing the handshake now!"
The seventh years crowded to the front. Rona found herself squished between Percy and Hannah; both of them were muttering under their breaths for someone to lunge at the other. She was more focused on Oliver and his perfectly-tailored robes and barely suppressed her second squeal of the day with a curse directed toward fit Quidditch blokes.
As Oliver and Roger approached each other, everyone drew a collective breath. Roger stuck out a hand. Pause. Oliver took it, shaking it once. Twice. Three times. They stood for another beat; Rona was sure she could see Roger's grip tighten. A second later, their arms returned to their side and no one had died.
"Not even thumb war."
By the time the players shoved off from the pitch, the first exchange of Sickles was complete. Next, they were watching for first possession.
"And they're off! Katie Bell gets the Quaffle — "
"I'd like my Sickles back, Wadsworth."
The expletives continued to fly and coins continued to jingle at the first goal, first foul, and first Bludger hit. Meanwhile, Rona offered some swearing of her own, a hundred decibels loud.
"DUNCAN, STOP FLEXING FOR THE AUDIENCE AND GET YOUR ARSE BACK IN THERE!"
Ravenclaw was only down by a single goal and the Snitch was nowhere in sight. But suddenly, both Seekers shot off in the same direction.
"The Snitch is in sight and look at that Firebolt go! Harry's hot on the chase, but Cho's not far behind!"
"HARRY, THIS IS NO TIME TO BE A GENTLEMAN!" Oliver's voice boomed over the din. "KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!"
Rona threw him a furious glower. "DON'T YOU DARE — THAT'S MY SEEKER! JASON, TEACH HIM A LESSON!"
"Is it just me," Edie whispered, "or do they want to kill each other even more since they've gone official?"
The teams continued neck and neck, the Snitch barely out of both Seekers' grasp. At one point, Ravenclaw was down thirty points, and Hannah suggested that Rona lift her shirt and flash Oliver as distraction tactic. Rona ignored her. Four minutes later, the teams were tied again. Randolph scored three consecutive goals using a scoring technique Rona had taught him a week earlier.
Suddenly, a patch of sky lit up and Harry's Firebolt barreled down toward the pitch followed by Cho's Comet Two Sixty. Her heart sank at the sight of gold in the Gryffindor Seeker's hand.
"HARRY'S GOT IT! HE CAUGHT THE SNITCH! GRYFFINDOR WINS!"
That was it. That was their last match. Ravenclaw lost. The residual adrenaline still tingled at her fingertips with nowhere to go. Rona was used to losing, but it was different this time, knowing it was the last match as the team's strategist. They had been so close to the Cup — just one Snitch away.
But she saw Oliver as he flew down to the grass, not even landing properly before he was running toward Harry and the rest of his team to celebrate with the widest smile she had ever seen.
Losing wasn't so bad.
"A skirt," Penny repeated for the third time. "He's making you wear a skirt."
Rona stood in front of the mirror as Edie and Hannah fussed over what she should wear. "Wear a skirt and be ready by seven. That's all he said."
Rona was surprised at his demands, too. In a bet that involved anything, she expected much worse. She knew that if Gryffindor had lost, he would have been the one in a skirt.
Edie and Hannah continued to tear through their respective piles of clothes, bickering over what would match Rona's cream blouse. They were at it for so long that Rona stuck her hand in the middle of the mess and drew out the first thing she grabbed.
"This one," she said, not even sure what she was holding beyond the fact that it was red and flimsy. She was beginning to regret her decision.
But when she put the skirt on, she was pleasantly surprised at how well it fit her. It wasn't dangerously short — which was how she knew it was one of Edie's and not Hannah's — and the gauzy layers gave it a modest flair.
Penny then began assaulting her hair, sticking in pins in every which way, while Hannah shoved lipstick and blush in her face. It all happened too quick for her to protest and before she knew it, they were marching her out the dorm.
The team had crashed on the sofas of the common room in their own celebration. They had not won, but that was no reason to withhold a party on that account. As they regaled tales of the past years, the common room continued to ring with laughter.
Roger raised his glass. "Remember that time she tried to use a Beater's Bat and ended up nearly taking out my head instead?"
"You deserved it," Rona muttered, stopping at the bottom of the staircase to adjust her heels. Penny had thrust them upon her, despite being half a size too large.
Jason let out a low whistle. "Dressed up for lover-boy? He's been trying to figure out the riddle for the past five minutes."
"Why didn't you let him in?"
"More fun to let him struggle."
Rona rolled her eyes and hobbled over to the door. When she reached for the knob, the door swung open. She was ready to congratulate Oliver for finally answering the knocker correctly, if not for a short pigtailed second year who walked briskly past her.
She couldn't help but snicker at the scowl on his face. "You weren't the one who figured out the password, were you?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You kids have fun," Jason called as Rona stepped over the threshold. "Bring her back by eleven, or we're coming after you."
When the lock clicked shut behind her, she took Oliver's arm and she felt him relax. "I'm surprised there's no interrogation this time," he said.
Rona never tried too hard to figure out why and when Jason did what he did. "My team is insane... They say idiotic things and do idiotic things but..." She shrugged. "You know."
"They just want to see you happy?"
The smile on her lips grew a little wider. "Something like that." As they walked down the staircase, the light from the sconces gave her a good look at what Oliver was wearing and it was decidedly more casual. "So why'd you tell me to wear a skirt?"
"I figure they'd look good on you. We're just going to the victory party for a bit. Promise not to gloat too much."
He ruffled her hair, causing leftover pins to scatter on the ground. "There are some things you just can't think too hard about."
"It's my job to think too hard." She put up the indignant pout she had been using every time Oliver poked at her habits. "Have you forgot you're dating a strategist? The Strategist?"
"Fine, former strategist. But hopefully I'll be one again. I sent the applications yesterday — "
" — even to Puddlemere — "
Oliver swiveled in front of her and kissed her, just long enough to break her chain of thought, and clapped her cheeks together so she couldn't get another word out. "You think too hard. You should dress girlier. And you talk. Entirely. Too. Much."
"Whish ish why you love me," she mumbled through his fingers.
With a chuckle and a sigh, he twined his fingers with hers. “I’ll never say.”
"HARRY, THIS IS NO TIME TO BE A GENTLEMAN! ... KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!" from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling, page 251 & Quidditch scene on the whole is inspired by the same scene in PoA.
A/N IT'S DONE. My first fan fic ever, is DONE after six wild months of rewriting and new writing. In July I swore that I only came back to write one fic and now I have a bunch! And I'm planning a bunch more. Thank you to everyone who reviewed and gave critique and squeed madly. Extra bonus love to my much-abused beta friend :D You guys totally kept me writing.
The sequel is up! It's called "Play" and it'll cover a few years time after their seventh year. Everyone will be returning, and it'll mostly be about their transition into adulthood and life on their own -- very slice-of-life and all that. Expect explosions of fluffy fluff, Oliver/Jeremy bromance (figuring out toasters and whatnot), meddling in other people's romances, interesting loft situations, a cat that sits on Oliver's head, and rampant snogging.
Okay, I've rambled enough. HOPE YOU ALL ENJOYED THE WILD, FLUFFY RIDE TO THE END! :)
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