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Chapter 40 : Why don't you stay?
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For dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap, as I always love reviews with caps! They make me giggle. Also, for the people who will inevitably be dealing with my angst and sadness once this story is over. Lastly, for everyone who reads this. I love you.
“Do we really have to buy books again?” George pressed his cheek to the window, staring inside. “I think this year we should boycott. Who needs the written word anyway?”
“Life is all about interpretive dance,” Fred agreed, moving next to his brother and pressing his nose to the surface. “Isn’t that the way everything is going?”
George nodded, his cheek smushing up and down. “They should really open a store for dance mats and spandex shorts then.”
Fred shot me a look. “Hear that, Janey? Spandex shorts.”
Angelina shoved him. “Come on,” she said, grabbing his shirt and tugging him into Flourish and Blotts. The rest of us followed, each wearing the same expression of discontent.
I checked the list a couple times, books getting heavier in the basket I hung off the crook of my elbow. Charms. Transfiguration. History of Magic. Potions. How I managed to get into Potions still baffles me as I regularly melted my cauldron. I suspected Alicia’s quick thinking and spellwork helped me on more than one occasion. That and how she poured her solution into two vials and put my name on one. Thanks, Leesh.
“Can we get ice cream?” Lee asked, coming up behind me and swatting at my hair. “I’m going to need some ice cream for agreeing to go shopping with a bunch of women.”
I jerked my head toward the twins. “What about them?”
“Like I said. Bunch of women.” He shot me a wink and grabbed a dark blue book off the shelf and tossed it into my basket before brushing past me to find the others. The stifled shriek in the next aisle told me he’d found Alicia.
I paid for the books, unsure of how many I would actually use. The week before I’d shown it to Oliver in the hopes that I could use his books instead of buying my own, but they were all new editions. I assumed they changed all of one word in each edition to make more money. Then they’d buy them back at a quarter of the price. Maybe an eighth for the Charms book.
It was the week before returning to Hogwarts and the late August heat was bearing down on Diagon Alley. Most people were wandering about in hiked up skirts and tanks. I settled on something similar, though a Harpies t-shirt. Oliver accused me of treason, but I informed him I played for Gryffindor and I didn’t know what he was talking about.
Did I still play for Gryffindor? Ang was kidding, right?
I had a huge To Do list to complete before school started and the faster I crossed each item off, the more time I could spend at Oliver’s lounging around and doing nothing. That morning he was at practice, as he was several days a week. Unfortunately, he was kept late during most of them because of the press often waiting outside of the locker rooms hoping for an interview. Ever since his first game he’d been a person of interest. He told me his father had apologized for being so brazen about Puddlemere and had agreed to give the club a chance.
His parents didn’t tell him they were at the game. I sort of liked it that way.
“Have everything?” Fred grabbed the corner of my bag, pulling it open and looking inside. “These are all school books.”
“Isn’t that what we were getting?”
He wrinkled his nose so all his freckles clustered together before releasing. “Well, I guess. But I mixed that with this wicked graphic novel of Dumbledore and Grindelwald.” He held up a thick book with a terribly illustrated version of Dumbledore with a crooked sword on the front. “See? That’s blood.” He tapped it a few times.
“Right.” I nodded. “New robes?”
All of us were laden down with shopping bags, but thankful we were now of age so we could charm them into not breaking our backs. We tossed them in an empty chair at the ice cream parlor and each ordered a cone. Lee’s head was tilted the entire time to keep his from melting down his fingers.
We sat around an umbrella’d table, fighting over the shade.
“You already have a practice schedule worked out?” I teased Angelina, biting down into my cone. Vanilla was dripping onto the table and my forehead was caked in sweat.
“Try-outs are the third day,” she noted. Five dumbfounded stares (and Lee munching away absently). “What? We have to replace Oliver and I’m not waiting a sodding month to do it.”
“People might be out of practice,” Katie said.
“If they’re out of practice for the summer they don’t deserve to be on my team.”
Fred whined loudly and sank down against the table. “Great,” he grumbled. “Just let me know about the four in the morning practices and team meetings in Hogsmeade that are going to last four hours. Go on, I’m ready.”
“Probably only three hours!” Angelina said.
“I’m knocking you up,” Fred threatened bitterly.
“Do it,” she shot back, narrowing her eyes. “Good luck dealing with the pregnancy hormones, twat.”
Fred whined again and took a giant bite out of his ice cream, only to suffer brain freeze and start whimpering shortly after.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Angelina continued. “We need a Keeper. We relied too much on how good Oliver was.”
“Can’t we just rely on how good Ellis is?” Alicia asked. Ang shot her a look. “What? I’m all for relying on him. He’s arrogant enough. We can just coast to the final and I’ll actually play. Until then I’ll spend most of the game on the sidelines signing autographs and feeding Lee funny things to say during the match.”
“I vote that one,” Lee said with a mouth full of mango ice cream.
“Oliver’s already given me the Keeper drills I need to use.” Ang was clearly ignoring the rest of us. “It’ll be simple.”
“Unless everyone sucks at Keeper.” I pulled out the Transfiguration book and opened it on the table. “Then you’re out of luck.”
“You can play Keeper, right, Janey?” Fred asked. “Kick all the Quaffles out of the way?”
“In the Spandex!” chimed George.
I stared between the two of them. “Do I really have to put up with the two of you all year again?”
Lee dipped his finger in his ice cream and smeared it across my face.
“How could I forget you?” I grumbled, glancing at him.
“You can’t. Since you love me and all.” He shot me a wink. “Romantically,” he added in a whisper.
He got my entire cone in his face.
“Dinner, pumpkin!” Dad called from the kitchen. Pots and pans were crashing around, which made me wonder if he was actually cooking or if he just liked the noise.
I tied up my hair and turned the corner, raising a brow. Chinese food was on the counter with chopsticks still in the packaging. “What were you just banging around?”
“Did you think I was cooking? I was going for that.” He grinned.
In the last couple weeks Dad seemed to come back into his own. He was yelling at the televised Quidditch matches, giving me hell for liking the Harpies, and even found a tote that belonged to Lou and calmly asked me if he should return it. I took it from him and stuffed it under my bed until he left, then promptly threw it down the trash shoot. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a cute tote, but Dad didn’t need the reminder of a failed relationship over his head. And I didn’t want to be reminded of clothes-snatcher Amanda.
I knew he was considering marrying Lou. He wouldn’t have told her about him being a wizard if he wasn’t considering it. I couldn’t imagine being that close to something and having it ripped away. Oliver and I were still young. Though it was on George and Katie’s minds, it wasn’t on mine. I was seventeen. Anything that ended in teen definitely shouldn’t accompany “getting married” in a sentence unless it is something like “her teen friend is going to Chelsea’s wedding because she is getting married and in her twenties at the very least.” Or something like that.
The idea of me in a white dress was petrifying.
I pulled out a chair and helped myself to noodles and chicken while expertly operating the chopsticks. Dad and I had perfected it with all our years of takeout.
“How was shopping?” he asked, tossing a piece of pork up and catching it between his teeth.
“Got everything. Books, robes, Potions stuff I wish I didn’t need.”
“I thought you failed out last year.”
“Alicia bail you out again?”
“She loves me,” I said with a cheeky grin. “Oh, got some new gloves for Quidditch.”
“Did Angelina say if you’re going to play this season?” Dad asked, obviously looking interested. “Is Ellis out this year too? Say yes. Please say yes. I spoke with him for all of ten minutes at the Final and he made me want to drive that wheelchair into the lake.”
I laughed, almost choking on a noodle, but shook my head. “I’m the reserve,” I said. “And I hope to Godric I won’t come anywhere near what I did last year. I’m going to concentrate on writing about the matches and not playing in them. I’m pretty sure Oliver could have punished me for half of the moves I attempted to make during the final. Some of those barrel-rolls were not at all legal.”
“Of course they were,” Dad noted. “Legal in…Jane terms.”
“Ang, however, would give me a week’s worth of laps even after the Cup was in her hands.”
“Just bring her around. I’ll have a couple words with her.” Dad shot my own smirk right back at me. “You need anything else then? Supplies? Years worth of Quidditch Weekly backorders?”
“You know me so well.” I leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I don’t think I need anything else. Maybe some hugs to last through the year.”
“Oliver going to see you off on the first?”
I wrinkled my nose. “No. No, he’s got a game that night so he’ll be at practice. Unfortunately.”
“That’s not very boyfriendly.”
“Tell that to his coach,” I said. “It’s all right, though. It doesn’t bother me. We’re spending the day before together. And it gives you more time to hug me and ask me if I have everything and if I’m really sure I want to continue supporting the Harpies.”
He tapped my nose with his chopstick. “Go get the mail. You have letters.”
“And you waited until now to tell me, why?” I tossed the container on the table and took off toward the living room, grabbing two large envelopes off the shelf. “THIS IS FROM VALERIE GIG.”
I heard his chuckle from the kitchen.
“You’re a terrible father!”
“Because I wanted you to pay attention to my amazing cooking before you got all caught up in your future career that has you jet-setting around the world?”
I tore open the first envelope and pried out the letter, heart hammering.
I received your write-up of the Puddlemere game and forwarded it onto the editor here. In short, I have to say it was brilliant. You have a great know-how of the game, which is key in a sports writer. So many wanna-bes just like to read books and think they can write about anything. You feel the game. You need a little bit more about the other team, though. You did have a lot, but just a little bit more next time. You did show off your factual knowledge of Puddlemere, though.
Between you and me, this would have been sent through edits once, fact-checked, and probably would have been in the section the next day. Just saying.
Looking forward to you covering the Gryffindor try-outs. Replacing Oliver is going to be quite a task. I don’t envy your new captain. Be sure to put in a couple lines about you. The readers eat that up.
My hands shook. “Dad?” I said, voice strained.
“What happened? Has she told you it was all a practical joke? I’ll off her!” He came skidding into the living room in his socks.
“No.” I handed him the letter.
Silence. Silence. Silence. “Jane,” he said. “Jane, this is absolutely amazing.”
“I KNOW!” I ripped it back out of his hands and leapt on the couch, jumping up and down. “Suck it, Quidditch! I’m going to write!”
“Did you just say suck it, Quidditch?” Dad cocked a brow. “Where do you learn this?”
I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch. I’m a terrible friend. First, please tell Wood congratulations on all three of his wins so far. I watched the replays and he’s been doing brilliant. Peter told me the first game was great. He also told me he saw you, which made me feel even more guilty about not writing you until now.
I’ve been a bit preoccupied. Two of the Magpies got injured last week and I had to practice with the team in case they needed me to play. They didn’t, but it was enough to really set me on edge. Have you been down there with a full stadium? It’s intimidating. A crowd can turn on you in a second.
I digress. I apologize for not writing sooner. I guess I was putting it off.
Madeline won’t speak to me. Not because of the pub, because of my drunken stammering afterward consisting of comparing her bum to the sky or something? I don’t know. Jane, I don’t know a sodding thing about her. Okay, I do, but not much. Can you please bring to my attention exactly what is so wrong with me?
This has happened on more than one occasion. Seriously, how many things did we discuss outside of the normal school and friends? Jane, am I pushing girls away? Help me. I don’t know what to do. Do I even really fancy Madeline or is she a beautiful woman I wanted to fancy? I have been trying to figure it out for the last two weeks while I tried to get her to speak to me. No luck on either account.
I miss you. And the rest of the girls. Sometimes I even miss Wood and his arrogance.
Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
I frowned. I’d taken Valerie Gig’s letter, along with Roger’s, into my room and was sitting on the edge of my bed. There was a blank sheet of parchment along with a quill and ink out on my desk, but I didn’t know words would put Roger’s mind at rest. I also didn’t know if they would be falsehoods or not.
I wanted to tell him it would be fine. That either Madeline would come around or he’d find someone great. Truth was, I didn’t know if that was how it was going to work out. I strummed my fingers against the wood of the side table.
You’re amazing. And attractive and brave (for a Ravenclaw) and you have a huge heart. You just need to open yourself up. You know, we dated for how many months and we’ve been mates for how many more months and I still know very little about your family. I don’t know if you have siblings. I don’t know your parents’ names. I don’t know your favorite color.
Maybe, the next time you meet someone you’re considering calling yours, you start with that stuff instead of Quidditch or rounds of shots or the way her eyes look.
Just a thought.
All my love,
I folded the letter and sent it off, pausing as I glanced in the closet. I’d have to start packing soon. Something I dreaded every year. I wanted to pack up my entire bedroom and take it with me, but I had to leave at least a couple things here for Dad to sniff when he got lonely.
I rifled through a few shirts, pressing my lips together. “Rubbish,” I said, pulling the items out and tossing them into the open trunk. I wasn’t sure how muggleborns packed for school. I always had to have Dad do a shrinking charm before September first. This year, however, I performed my own charm while stuffing in jeans and sweaters and robes and ten of my favorite issues of Quidditch Weekly. I only just remembered my books.
I packed more over the next couple of days. On a couple of occasions Dad came in and got crumbs on my quilt while I sorted through slips of parchment, discarding just as many as I kept. He was no help at all.
“What time are you heading to Oliver’s?” On the last day of August he was lounging on the bed, hands behind his head as he twisted a candycane around between his lips.
“Bout an hour.” I checked my watch. “Why?”
“Going to order a bunch of pizza with all your favorite toppings and not let you have any.” He shrugged.
“Cruel. Can I have it when I get home?”
“Not spending the night?” Dad glanced over, the candycane almost toppling out of his mouth.
“Nah. Oliver and I have had plenty of nights together. I’ll see him in a couple of weeks. I figured I’d get into some jammies, snuggle up on the couch, and eat way too much of that pizza you’re going to order.”
“It’ll make you fat.” He winked.
“At least I’ll be happy, hmm?” I leaned over and tousled his hair. “Going to be okay for the day?”
“Dunno how I’ll manage.” He took a bite out of the candy. “Don’t forget your Charms book.”
“Do I even have to take that class?” I groaned, tossing the book into the trunk and closing it. Well, standing on the top and closing it because it was going to burst open. “I don’t need Charms, do I? While I’m at it, can I drop Potions? How about I just become a Hogwarts drop-out? I’m pretty enough, right?”
He laughed hard. “Don’t think Valerie Gig will appreciate you writing stories about the Quidditch games you don’t go to.”
“What a life I lead.” I stared around my room. Everything was packed for my final year at Hogwarts. Plenty of things still remained, which I would find new ways to miss between now and the winter holidays. Still, it looked empty. Vacant.
Like I really was growing up.
I heard Dad sniffle.
“Not yet,” I told him.
Oliver fixed a dinner of roasted pork, sautéed mushrooms, baked potatoes, and a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. We ate at his dining room table, ivory candles lit in the center, and talked through a lot. His practices that week. His latest game, which Puddlemere also won, and how the media bombarded him afterward. He’d given written commitments to do four interviews that week. He was going to have his own one-page profile in Quidditch Weekly. One of his dreams that had nothing to do with his father.
I told him about Roger’s correspondence, my dad’s words regarding the Harpies, what objects I threw at my father because of these words, and the things I was looking forward to at Hogwarts. Seeing my friends every day, the feasts, and the grounds were up there on top. Nowhere near the top were things like Libby, sharing a room with three other girls, and classes and the homework that accompanied them. Oliver laughed and offered to do my Charms homework. I rolled my eyes.
“Do you have everything packed?” he asked, pouring two glasses of chardonnay after dinner. We abandoned our traditional red wine in favor of it. “Clothes, no lingerie, books, nothing remotely attractive to the opposite sex, robes, long pants?”
I smirked. “Quite correct,” I said. “And also all of my skirts, v-neck tops, and everything black and lacy I could find on sale.”
“So when am I moving into the dormitory?”
I shoved him playfully with my foot and stood. “You’d hate it. Living with four girls.”
“Sounds just terrible.” Oliver grabbed the bottle and took my hand, leading me into his bedroom. He set the bottle on the nightstand after topping off his own glass and then plopped on the edge of the bed. “Four women getting dressed around me. Skimpy clothing. Pillow fights.” He glanced at me. “There are pillow fights, right?”
“Well, yes,” I replied matter-of-factly. “But those are only naked.” I placed my glass on the table and crawled into bed after kicking off my shoes. I pulled the covers up to my chest. “I’m sure you’ll love the discussion of bodily functions, gossip about the soon-to-be-sixth-years, angry screaming over boys, and sobbing because of nothing. Ang is a sobber.”
Oliver looked over his shoulder and with every word his brow raised a little higher. “Sobbing?” he said. “Do you sob?”
“About once a month everything just builds up and it comes out randomly,” I replied. “I’ve been known to break glass and then clean it up repeatedly with magic. It’s safer that way, but I make the girls put up shields.”
“How kind of you.” He continued to stare. “Should I be concerned about this?”
“Oliver, I am not even going to begin to start in on your issues.” I shot him a smirk, grabbing his arm and tugging him down on the bed with me. “I have to go back home tonight.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I’m spending the night with Dad,” I said. “Don’t act all haughty and jealous. I’ll see you in a couple weeks. I’ll see him at Christmas.”
Oliver shot me a pout, which was rare for him. He widened his brown eyes and moved close to me, pulling an arm around my shoulders. He kissed the top of my head. “Fine,” he said. He was quiet for a while and I could feel his breath in my hair. “You think we can do this?”
“I’m confident,” Oliver replied. He kissed my head a second time. “I think we’ve done a good enough job planning it out, don’t you? Seeing each other certain weekends. Me stealing you some of those weekends to take you to some of my games. Some box seats. Sometimes screaming in the crowd because I know how much you love that.” I could hear the grin in his voice. “We can stay at the inn in Hogsmeade for a night. Or just go out to dinner. Owl often. Floo sometimes in the common room fire. All the other girls can be good and jealous a Quidditch superstar will be Flooing you.”
“Sure you can fit that big head in the fire?”
“Same way you can fit through most doors,” Oliver commented.
I smacked his chest.
“You sure you’re not going to go fall in love with a Slytherin or something?”
“At the very least a Ravenclaw.”
He tugged on my hair playfully. “Not. Amused.” Then he tugged against so I looked up and he kissed me. “Promise not to get bored with me.”
I pressed my lips against his again, lingering for a moment before I stared into his eyes. That same brown I’d been familiar with over the years. Associating it with indifference, then with hatred, then with respect, then infatuation, and finally with love. I only recently realized how much emotion he gave away in his eyes. Too much, probably, for a media-swarmed athlete.
“Promise not to get boring,” I whispered, brushing my thumb against the stubble on his cheek.
“I’m never boring. Do you know who I am?” He stole another quick kiss. “I just don’t want to lose you. Not when it took me this long to realize how much I love you.”
“And how much is that?”
“Too much, probably.”
“Is there such a thing?”
“Apparently.” He kissed the tip of my nose in a very un-Oliver-like fashion. There was a moment of silence, after which Oliver said, “You can start arguing with me now. We’ve gotten along the entire night, which I think is a record. Go on.”
I bit down on the corner on my lip, narrowing my eyes as I fought to think of something to say. Nothing came to mind. “This chardonnay isn’t as good as red,” I said.
“You bitch,” Oliver teased, laughing as he rolled over, forcing me on top of him. “How dare you.”
“I’m the meanest.” My hair fell into his face when I kissed him.
“Goddamn it, Perry, I love you,” Oliver grumbled into my lips. He wrapped his arms around me tight. “I promise not to get boring. Or at least not that boring.”
“I don’t anticipate that happening.” I kissed him again. And again. And then again for several minutes, breathing hitched in the back of my throat. “If you were considerate at all you would have just failed your seventh year.”
“I think you’ll be fine.” He took a piece of hair and put it behind my ear. “You need this year. You’ll go to Hogwarts, study hard as you always do, and do your own thing.”
“And I don’t need you for any of that.” It sounded harsh, but it was the truth. I loved Oliver. More than I could describe. But I didn’t need him. I didn’t need to constantly be around him like I thought I did. I could love from a distance.
“Not at all.” He smiled.
“Can I send you my write-ups before I send them to Valerie?”
Oliver nodded. “I hope you do,” he said. “Especially the interviews and the ones about the practices. I’ll want to know how Johnson is running my team into the ground.”
“She learned it all from you.” I beamed and he grabbed my sides, causing a squeal to escape as I swatted him away. “I mean, she learned all of her running-into-the-ground abilities from me—bloody STOP that!” I pinched his arm and pulled on his arm hair until he stopped, whining about it hurting. “Get over it,” I told him.
“Why?” He rugged his arm, nose wrinkled in an adorable way. How did his mother say no to him as a child?
“Because love hurts, Wood.” I smirked, leaned up, and kicked him hard on the shin.
Dad didn’t want to let go of my hand the next day on the platform. He went through the wall with me, kept me close as we walked through groupings of third and fourth years, and finally settled on a spot next to a pillar where he stared at me, eyes glossy, and said, “This is your last year at Hogwarts. This is your most important year.”
“Do you read books of speeches before you send me off?” I said in a bored way. “Every year you have something sorting-hat-esque to say.”
“Alicia would appreciate it.” Dad shrugged.
He had been mopey since I returned from Oliver’s the previous night. We spent the evening curled up on the couch with a fleece blanket watching Quidditch on television. We even put in his favorite Quidditch documentary about the Tornadoes. He was quiet for the night, rubbing my feet and watching the players on the screen. He got this way every year. He hated sending me away.
He tucked me into bed a little after midnight and told me Mum would be so proud of me. Whenever he talked about Mum my eyes threatened to tear up. I hated it, but part of me wished he always talked about her. Like she was really there. A part of the family instead of a single picture on my nightstand.
More than the chair no one ever sat in at the dining room table. Neither of us ever spoke it, but it was her chair. It was always her chair.
Dad leaned forward and kissed my forehead. He always brought me early so he could have a bit of time before my mates arrived. “Are you sure you have everything? If not write and I’ll send stuff.”
“Will you send Oliver?”
“Oh, yes, you’d like him but not your amazing father. I’m handsome too, remember?”
“So handsome.” I pinched his cheek. “And yes, I’ll write you if I forget anything. And of course if I’ll write. And tell you how miserable I am without you ordering takeout and bitching about the Harpies every day.”
“That’s my girl.” Dad pulled me into a hug. “And if anyone gives you trouble. You tell them that I work for the Ministry and I’ll have them deported.”
“Yeah, you can’t do that.”
“Do they know that?”
He grimaced. “Well, tell them I got promoted.”
I chuckled and kissed his cheek. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll be at the first game,” Dad said. “Oliver already arranged the tickets and had them sent by. I hope you make the Final because I paid for better seats for that and I don’t want to see stupid Hufflepuff play stupid Ravenclaw.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Ellis.” I grinned just as the wind was almost knocked out of me. Fred slapped my back another two times.
“Hey, Mr. P!” he said, shaking hands with my father. “Missed you this summer, mate. Pickup Quidditch over break?”
“When will you learn you’re just not as good as I am?” Dad asked with a smirk.
“You teach me every time.” Fred laughed and draped an arm over my shoulder. “Ready, Janey? We’ve got the back compartment. Seventh year style. How’s that sound?”
“Like royalty,” I said, rolling my eyes. I glanced back at Dad. “I’ll write you?”
“I should hope.” Dad kissed my cheek. “Bye, pumpkin. Take care of her, Fred.”
“Aye aye!” Fred saluted Dad and steered me off toward the train. “I do have to tell you, Janey, you’ve become quite the sensation.”
“Excuse me?” I glanced up at him, grabbing my trunk and hauling it toward the train.
“I guess you’ll see for yourself.” He pulled open the door, taking my trunk for me and taking it inside. “Personally, I’d wear those huge sunglasses if I was you. And a hood. And a hat. One of those hats people wear when they’re stealing. Cover up your nose and such.”
I raised a brow, completely confused. I followed him onto the train and back toward the compartment.
I turned, but the corridor was crowded. “You say my name, Fred?”
He shook his head. “Everyone else did though.” He ruffled his red hair and opened the compartment door.
“Someone got popular over the summer.” Fred shot me a wink and walked inside. Everyone else was there: the girls, George, and Lee. Katie was sitting on George’s lap and they were snogging. Making up for lost time I assumed.
“Fred,” I said, hurrying to slide the door shut behind us. “What are you talking about?”
“Got asked three times about you since I got here,” he said, sliding my trunk up in the overhead with the rest of them. “Everyone wants to know if you and Wood are still together. Your photo has been in quite a few papers since he got big, you know.”
I groaned. I’d seen several of them accompanied by headlines of ‘will it last?’
“Do they all hate me?” I asked. I sat down next to Alicia.
“I’m pretty sure they want to be you,” Angelina cut in, grabbing Fred’s hand and tugging him down beside her.
“Thank Godric,” Alicia said with an exaggerated sigh. “I was getting sick of them wanting to be me.”
“What are they saying then?” I asked, a little nervous. I hadn’t anticipated going back to school after the crazy summer. Hadn’t thought about everyone else who followed Quidditch, which was essentially the entire body of students. I knew my name had been thrown around toward the beginning of the summer, getting back together with Oliver only amplifying things as he soared to fame. Soon my picture was appearing in articles about him when it wasn’t associated with the fundraiser dinner I went to with Liam. What a mess. I wasn’t, by any means, a household name. But I was the name on the lips of most Hogwarts students.
Alicia was about to respond when someone knocked on the door.
Not just someone.
“Hey, Jane.” Libby grinned. I had spent a summer willing myself not to think about her. Her snarky smile and superficial attitude. Tight pencil skirt and fake curls.
“Libby,” I said with a short nod.
“So,” she said, not acknowledging anyone else in the compartment, “How’s Oliver?”
“Haven’t you read all the papers?”
“Me and everyone else on the train,” she said in an exasperated tone. “So are you two staying together? How are you dealing with the distance? Has he proposed?”
I blinked, unsure of it was a sick joke or Libby had joined the swarms of killer bee media that had been attacking Oliver. The paranoid part of me wondered if she was reporting back to someone other than the giggling girls in the corridor behind her.
“Oliver and I are together,” I replied.
“I heard you broke up.”
“We did over the summer.” More common knowledge. Bust out the encyclopedia.
“Oh my god please leave,” Alicia said loudly, clearly having held it in for at least a minute. “I cannot handle your high-pitched voice and that skirt is so hideous it is literally making my ripped rock concert t-shirt look couture.”
Libby stared, aghast. “I wasn’t speaking to you, Alicia Spinnet.”
“I am just going to kick her ass, okay?” Alicia stood up and rolled up the sleeves on her blazer. “Everyone okay with that?” She tied her hair back.
I nodded. Well, I was.
Libby backed up into the wall. “So Jane,” she said, voice squeaky. “What was Liam Denters like?”
“A boy,” I replied dryly.
Alicia cracked her knuckles. Even Katie came up for breath.
“Fine!” Libby spat. “If you would just sodding tell people what they want to know, this would be MUCH easier, Perry.” She turned and stormed out of the compartment, shoving past the other plastic blond girls and vanishing.
While she was up, Alicia shut the door behind her and leaned against it. “They all want to know about snarky Jane Perry and her Quidditch superstar boyfriend,” she said. “But what I want to know more about, is what he’s like in bed.”
“Oy!” Lee said. “Can you not?”
“Fine,” she mumbled, sliding back beside me. “But seriously. We’re having a discussion later.”
“I’ll be sure to prepare the adequate adjectives.”
“You know, you’re spoiling me.” It was after midnight and I was on a plush rug in the common room. I had pajamas on and was only about a meter from the fireplace. Oliver’s head was sticking out of it.
“I couldn’t resist,” he said, smirking. “I’m sore with myself for not being able to see you off this morning. I wanted to kiss you.”
“And then sneak on the train with me?”
“Hey, you said it, I didn’t.”
I chuckled. The day hadn’t been terrible. The feast was good. The sorting hat song was good. Being back in my four-poster was good. It was all good. Just not great.
“Tell me about everything,” Oliver said, watching me intently. There was something about his brown eyes in the fire that seemed to melt my heart.
I scrunched my mouth to the side for a moment. “I was asked if I was cheating with Liam three times,” I replied. “They think we shag before every game for good luck. Someone also asked if you were putting out a nude calendar anytime soon. They’ve been hounding me about you, asking me all of your Quidditch superstitions and beliefs. About your parents. Your childhood. I have half a mind that the media put them up to this.”
“I’m sure they did,” Oliver replied, nodding. “You look like you’re handling it in true Jane fashion. Must be nice to be back there, though.” His eyes moved around the common room. “Hasn’t changed, of course.”
“Will it ever?” I asked. I grinned and grabbed a blanket off the nearby sofa, pulling it around my shoulders. “I just wish you were here.”
“I have a feeling I’m going to hear that a lot this year.”
“You think we can do it? The whole year?”
“It’s just until June.” Oliver grinned. “We can do it. I have no idea how. Probably a lot of screaming and makeup sex and laughing at the unfortunate circumstances of others.”
Oliver groaned. “Remind me again why I dated her?”
“To get your mind off me.” I winked.
“You’ll never have any idea how true that really is.”
I arched a brow.
“Or maybe you will know.” Oliver’s cheeks were pink. “Listen, I should go to sleep. I’ve got another practice tomorrow and the reserve team is practicing with us so I’ll have to show them how talented I am.”
“Like you don’t do that at the actual games.” I grinned.
His expression softened. “Quit looking like you do. All…cute. I’m going to want to stay up all night and I have practice and you have class in the morning.”
“I wouldn’t mind. I have it on good authority that Katie and George are upstairs with the curtains drawn.”
He grimaced. “Just throw some napkins in there. It’ll break them up.”
I pulled the blanket tighter around me, eyes trained on Oliver’s. “Love you,” I said.
“I love you too, Perry,” he replied in the gruff voice I recognized. “And don’t let Ellis show off too much at practice. You’re twice the Seeker he is, you just don’t know it.”
I rolled my eyes. “G’night, Wood.” I stood and turned, walking away. I pulled up the blanket so he could see my legs as I went, hearing a disgruntled groan from the fire.
A/N: Another chapter down. 3 left. SAD SAD SAD.
Thank you to everyone who has been leaving favorite quotes / thoughts on the chapters. Reading them definitely picks up my day since they've been so stressful as of late.
I liked getting, for the most part, everyone back together in this chapter. Then, of course Libby. Ah, did you guys miss her? I know Amanda could never quite replace her. And she finally got a chapter image!
UP NEXT: Articles, tryouts, Puddlemere keeps playing, Hogwarts being Hogwarts. You know the drill.
Leave some love if you liked it.
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