Penelope spent the first few minutes of the next morning searching for the spider that had been in her bathroom for the past week. She strictly abode by a live and let live policy (and she thought the Doctor would be proud) and she was more than happy to let the spider share her living space, providing it wasn’t in her shower in which case she snuck into her flatmates bathroom and showered there. Last she’d seen the spider had been by the sink and as she couldn’t currently locate it, she thought it was best to be safe than sorry and made the mad dash towards the other bathroom.
When Penelope finally emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in one of Audrey’s nice towels and feeing the edge of her slight hangover slipping away slightly, she was rather taken aback to find that Percy Weasley was casually having breakfast with her flatmate, both of whom seemed to be rather enjoying themselves making fun of her slight dislike of spiders.
“Percy?” Penelope questioned, stepping into the kitchen and watching as his ears turned slightly pink – whether that was because he’d just turned up where she lived or because she was clad in only a towel Penelope couldn’t quite be sure, either way she’d always found Percy’s blushing amusing.
“Ah,” Percy said, deliberately looking at his toast, “I just wanted to ask how it worked out with Wood? I left before either of you and...”
Penelope was torn between finding his dedication to her social life endearing and very annoying, which was a position she’d been in many a time before as far as Percy was concerned.
“Wood?” Audrey asked, a frown line forming on her forehead.
“He’s this guy who we used to go to school with,” Penelope said distractedly, placing a few slices of toast in the toaster before turning back to where Percy and Audrey sat at the table, “Oliver Wood. Big on sports. And he left, actually.”
“You sound disappointed.” Audrey said, glancing at Percy out of the corner of her eye.
“Rude more than anything,” Penelope muttered under her breath, “taking off like that...”
“Well, okay,” Percy said, setting down his cup of tea and nodding distractedly, “just thought I’d check. Well, no use disturbing you anymore. Thanks for the tea, Audrey.” Then he bustled out of the room in that usual fashion of his. Penelope watched his retreating back feeling slightly amused, not least because his muggle attire always looked plain odd, but mostly at the idea that Percy Weasley seemed to vaguely be attempting to play matchmaker in her life.
“There’s always the next reunion,” Audrey said brightly, her gaze fixed on the seat Percy had vacated before shaking her head slightly, “so, what actually happened to worry Percy so much?”
“Oh,” Penelope said, buttering her toast and taking a seat, “nothing really. We just talked for a bit. Nothing to get excited about. Then Oliver took off and... that was that.”
“I’m late.” Audrey said suddenly, tipping her plate and the mugs into the sink before grabbing her coat.
“You didn’t have to babysit Percy, you know,” Penelope said thoughtfully, “you should have just left him to his own devices – stupid git.”
“Oh no,” Audrey said, looking slightly pink, “it’s fine. Are we still meeting for lunch?”
Penelope nodded and watched as Audrey took off too, the lock clicking in her wake.
She’d found living with a muggle was quite a strange experience. Audrey was a student whose intended flatmate had failed to get into the following year of the course and had been desperate to find anyone to split the rent with, as she most definitely couldn’t afford the London rent on her own. The fact that she was doing some difficult science course thankfully meant that she usually left before Penelope and arrived afterwards, which meant that Penelope could slip on her robes and apparate to the shop rather than endure the dreaded muggle commute.
It was good of Percy not to turn up in his robes.
Penelope made herself a coffee and glanced at the oven clock. She was late too, but she never functioned particularly well when she was tired and usually there weren’t that many people falling over themselves to buy quills on a Friday morning.
Then again, stranger things had happened. Yesterday she’d been sort-of-chatted-up by Oliver Wood so she couldn’t exactly trust any of her preconceptions about the world. She was half tempted to start a mental mantra of ‘don’t blink’ just in case.
“How was work?” Audrey asked, taking a chip from her plate and popping it in her mouth.
“Nearly brought another fancy pen.” Penelope returned, looking at her mildly unappetising bacon sandwich and forcing herself to push onwards. She could never decided whether she was the hungry sort of hung over or the don’t-eat-you’ll-vom sort of hung over.
“Is that... is that Percy outside?” Audrey asked, glancing over Penelope’s shoulder and squinting towards the door.
Penelope was slightly surprised that Audrey recognised him due to the few times they’d actually met, but upon turning around in her chair was forced to admit that, yes, Percy was actually stood outside the door of the mostly-student-populated cafe in another slightly strange muggle outfit beckoning at her.
“Wow,” Penelope muttered, “he needs to take his job more seriously.”
“He’s.... very persistent.” Audrey commented.
“If I ignore him, do you think he’ll go away?” Penelope asked, pushing back her chair and getting to her feet – risking another glance towards the door and feeling utterly perplexed. Yes, Percy and her were on good friendship terms, but showing up twice unannounced was just a little odd really.
“He’s quite dedicated to your cause.” Audrey said.
Penelope grabbed her handbag and slipped out of the cafe, giving Percy a questioning look.
“What are you doing?” Penelope asked. “Does the Ministry employ you to stalk me now?”
“Oliver didn’t just take off,” Percy said, pulling out a copy of the prophet, “he got in an accident.”
“Drunken Quidditch accent? He’s in St Mungos.”
“Why are you telling me things?”
“Penny,” Percy said, “you haven’t talked to anyone but me and Audrey for about a year. I don’t want you to write of socialising because Wood can’t fly properly when he’s smashed. So just, think about it Penny.”
“I wish you’d quit worrying about me,” Penelope said irritably, shoving her hands in the pockets of the jeans she’d changed into before joining Audrey for lunch, “well, I’m going to go visit him.”
“What?” Percy asked, taken aback.
“Yep, I’ll go now,” Penelope said determinedly, “thanks for letting me know, Percy.”
“What about Audrey? You can’t just flake out on her.”
“You go have dinner with her,” Penelope said, “I’m not a social recluse, Percy Weasley, so stop trying to fix my life.”
And her exit would have been quite dramatic if she hadn’t gone in the wrong direction to St Mungo’s out of habit and had to double back, not quite missing the fact that Percy was shaking his head at her, looking quite amused.
Penelope was beginning to realise exactly how crazy it was to turn up at St Mungo’s to talk to someone who, realistically, had only every spoken to her when they were drunk at some awkward school reunion because they were both too antisocial to talk to anyone else. They had been pushed together by a mutual friend – worse for her, an ex-boyfriend – and had struck up conversation to avoid things becoming even more awkward.
In fact, she’d just about talked herself out of visiting Oliver and lying about it to Percy later and was about to stop and do a U turn and exit the ward before she could do her ego anymore damage, when she realised that she’d stop directly in front of Oliver Wood’s bed.
“You were going to leave,” Oliver commented lightly, “and I was just looking forward to a visitor that wasn’t pissed off at me.”
“You say that,” Penelope said, turning left and conjuring up a seat, “but you owe me a drink, Wood.”
“Damn Ravenclaws,” Oliver commented, “always remember stuff.”
“Are you okay?” Penelope asked. “Percy stalked me to tell me you were in here. Still awfully worried about my social life.”
“Hmm,” Oliver said, “broke my leg in a couple of places.”
“Oh,” Penelope said, shifting in her seat slightly, “I should have brought you some grapes or a quill or something.”
“I’m out for the season,” Oliver added irritably, “ruddy Healer said I can’t play, in case I fall off again and do some permanent damage – something about the muscle work, I don’t know. Then I had the Captain round here having ago at me for being an idiot.”
“Crap,” Penelope said, “it’s that bad?”
“No, I’m fine!” Oliver continued. “It’s just bad press to have Quidditch players on broom when they’re drunk. Apparently it sends off a bad image.”
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
“Sorry,” Oliver sighed, “I shouldn’t rant at you. It’s my own fault.”
“It’s okay; I’ll just add it to the list of things you owe me,” Penelope said lightly, “a drink, Quidditch tickets, a rant... So, Oliver, do you normally get drunk and fall off brooms? Because I had been expecting something a little more impressive.”
“No,” Oliver said, his face still set on brooding and moody – Penelope was quite sure that she could strip off and dance around naked and it wouldn’t change his mood, because he always been so very Quidditch obsessed, “so stupid.”
“Who’ll be playing Keeper then?” Penelope asked, resigning herself to a conversation entirely revolving around Quidditch.
“Oh, that’s not too bad,” Penelope said, pausing when Oliver looked up at her sharply, “he’s not terrible, but he’s not half as good as you. So, Puddlemere won’t fail dramatically but it’ll still remind everyone that you’re the better player. Come on, Wood, pull yourself together – it might even be good for your career, in the end. Every player needs a few dark spots on their Quidditch history. Just don’t marry important people from the Ministry and then cheat on them with a reporter from the Prophet.”
“Hmm,” Oliver said, looking up at her with a raise of the eyebrows, “I suppose you might be right.”
“Just get yourself some good press. Take some nice homely girl who, I don’t know, works at a Quill shop or something to the Quidditch match that you owe her anyway.”
“Homely?” Oliver asked, looking distinctly amused and a slightly more cheerful.
“Well,” Penelope said, “I like books. Seriously, it’s not that big a deal. So you fell off a broom when drunk? It’s pretty funny, if anything.”
“Davies beat me,” Oliver admitted, sitting up in his hospital bed, “he must have drunk less, or something but... he was actually beating me.”
“Ah,” Penelope said, “so it wasn’t an accident. I know it’s hard Oliver, but throwing yourself off a broom isn’t the answer – ”
“I thought you had work today,” Oliver interrupted, “or was that just one of those girl excuses?”
“No, I do. I’m on my lunch break. I went to me my flatmate for lunch and then Percy showed up out of the blue throwing a prophet in my face. Sorry if was a bit weird for me to just turn up like this, I was just trying to make a point...”
“That you can be sociable?”
“Yeah,” Penelope said, “and we’re not doing too bad, right?”
“Well it’s certainly nice to have a visitor who hasn’t turned up to yell at me,” Oliver commented dryly, nodding to one of the get well soon cards with a poorly suppressed grimace, “one from my mother saying that she didn’t realise I drank,” Penelope made a sympathetic face, “and another from George, which had to be confiscated because one of the Healers had an allergic reaction.”
“You’re in contact with George?” Penelope asked, feeling her face burning slightly. This was largely why she’d avoided socialising for the most part – because she was absolutely terrible at dealing with grief and the fact that people she’d known fairly well no longer existed made her uncomfortable. It wasn’t so bad with Percy because he knew she was hopeless at that sort of thing and forgave her tongue-tiedness that occurred whenever he mentioned his family, but with other people she simply didn’t know what to say.
“He likes free Quidditch tickets,” Oliver returned, “and he was on my team.”
“What about the others? Katie Bell, was it?”
“I see them occasionally – mostly when they’re trying to score free tickets to watch me play. Not that I mind, really. It’s nice to have friendly faces in the audience when I mess up.”
“I find that,” Penelope said, “in Scrivenshaft’s; If there’s an old friend around when I accidentally sell someone incompatible ink, well, I never feel quite so embarrassed about the whole thing.”
“I’ll bet. Sounds traumatic.”
“Pretty much.” Penelope said, shrugging her shoulders slightly and smiling at him – she had missed conversation and, dare she say it, slight flirting. As much as she was used to existing in her small world where Audrey, Percy, and Mr Scrivenshaft were the only people she had to concern herself with (and her parents, of course) branching out wasn’t as terrible as she’d thought.
“What’s your flatmate like then?”
“Muggle,” Penelope answered, “she’s lovely. Very easy to live with. She’s a muggle student – some sort of engineering, I think. I left her having dinner with Percy, so I hope she’s okay. Percy can be a bit, well, I wouldn’t label him a people-person.”
“And he’s worried about your social life.”
“Says a lot, doesn’t it,” Penelope said with a face, “looks like your Doctor, sorry Muggle born habit, Healer’s coming back. I should head off before he starts laying into you again. I don’t want to witness the abuse.”
Penelope always found Healers slightly disappointing – perhaps it was because, having never been treated by a Muggle doctor, she’d always assumed that they regularly appeared from the Tardis wiping off some strange space-gunk off their fancy suits, tweaking their respective bowties before talking very fast about exactly what was wrong with you. In comparison, Healers were quite a disappointment. Then again, anything was slightly disappointing when you were expecting The Doctor.
“I’ll see you at the match on Saturday, then,” Oliver said, “I guess I might as well take advantage of being out of action. You won’t have to use those free tickets alone after all.”
“Guess not,” Penelope said with a small smile, “I might come visit again, Oliver. I appreciate the free stuff.”
And with that she offered him a smile and then walked out feeling very much like she owed Percy Weasley a great deal. Maybe she’d find him a date and then they’d be even.
Either way, even walking into The Doctor himself couldn’t make this day much better: she was getting free Quidditch tickets and was, providing Oliver was true to his word, going to be accompanied to one of the games by one Oliver Wood.
Social recluse her arse.
Again, the BBC owns Doctor Who, not me... and any Doctor Who references are included for the sake of the Nerd Challenge and because, well, who isn't a big fan of Doctor Who, right? Anyone feeling the beginning of a Audrey/Percy subplot? Reviews would be lovely :)