Chapter 7 : (Un)settled
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“Oi, Oliver! Where are my Quidditch gloves?”
I barged into the boys’ dormitory and scowled, crossing my arms over my chest. “I don’t know why I even bother letting you borrow...” I surveyed the scene in front of me and stopped. “Why so glum, chum?”
Percy was once again venomously reading on his bed, and Oliver was doing a horrid job of trying to abate him by standing in the corner of the room, whimpering and mouthing at me, Help!
I cocked an eyebrow at him and shook my head before returning my attention to Percy. “Perce?” I said gently, coming slowly towards him. I didn’t want to make any sudden movements; he was known to snap in tense situations. “What’s wrong?”
All I got in response was a huff and a page turn.
“Dumbledore is making prefects double up for rounds,” Oliver piped up, still situated in his corner. “You know, because of the whole Sirius Black thing.”
I bit my lip in confusion. That still didn’t account for Percy vehemently muttering the paragraphs of the tome perched on his lap under his breath. “And so...?”
“The Head Boy and Head Girl are partnered together.”
The angry reading and the cowering Quidditch captain made sense now. This was terrible. Beyond terrible, actually. Because the Head Girl was none other than Penelope Clearwater.
“Um, well, maybe it won’t be so bad, Perce?” I asked hopefully. But my reassurance was fruitless, and I knew it.
He shut his book, set it carefully down in front of him, and looked up at me pointedly. “She started begging to be paired up with anyone but me as soon as the words left Dumbledore’s mouth.”
“Oh,” I said again.
Percy’s break-up with Penelope had been bad, but the aftermath was ten times as worse. Penelope had dumped Percy for Roger Davies, the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. During the last few weeks of the previous term, we had managed to steer Percy clear of any chance encounters with the new couple, but they had become rather hard to avoid come the start of seventh year, as they had taken to snogging in rather public places. I had knocked into them once during a rush to Potions as they stood in the center of the crowded courtyard, tongues shoved down each other’s throats—much to the delight of a group of once-innocent Hufflepuff first years who were staring fixatedly at them, their expressions utterly abhorred but at the same time sickeningly fascinated, unable to pry their eyes away from the lurid showcase—and Davies had mistakenly groped me on his hand’s quest to Clearwater’s arse. Percy developed a rather violent eye twitch whenever the happy couple was in the vicinity. And he had taken to lugging even more books around with him, even on the weekends, so he would never be in short supply when he felt the sudden urge to read in fury.
Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed Oliver trying to tiptoe his way out of the room. “Oh no you don’t!” I shouted and darted over to him, grabbing him by the ear and dragging him to Percy’s bedside before he could escape. He started whimpering again, and I rolled my eyes. Weren’t Quidditch captains—especially those of the Gryffindor house team—supposed to be brave?
“Oliver here—” I tugged on his ear. More whimpering “—will keep you company in your time of need. You know, because he’s your best mate and all,” I added to guilt Oliver as he opened his mouth to protest. He stuck his tongue out at me instead.
“Where are you going off to, then?” he whined after realizing there was no way to get out of dealing with Percy. He was pouting, and I had to chuckle a bit. He did look rather adorable when he acted like a five year old.
I began to dig through the junk around Oliver’s bed. Merlin, could this bloke be anymore messy? “I need to speak with Madame Pomfrey before dinner,” I said, my voice muffled as I dropped to my hands and knees to feel around under the four-poster. “She told me to come round if I wanted information about St. Mungo’s internships for after we gradu—Ack! Gross!”
I retracted my hand as quick as a Snitch when my fingers brushed against something slimy and fuzzy, two words I never thought I’d use to describe the same object. Utterly repulsed, I turned to glare at Oliver. “What sort of nasty shit do you keep under there?”
As Oliver shrugged helplessly, Percy merely sighed, lifted his wand and calmly said, ”Accio Lucie’s Quidditch gloves.” They came zooming out from the toilet—how did they get in there?—and landed neatly in front of him.
“Or I could’ve just done that,” I grumbled, annoyed at my stupidity. “Thanks.”
Percy nodded and returned to reading, a minute scowl still etched upon his face. I flicked his cheek, swatted the back of Oliver’s head with my gloves, and waved goodbye, leaving the room. As I made my way to the staircase, I caught Oliver’s next words: “So, Perce...How about those Cannons?”
I sighed. The bloke was hopeless. He really was.
I tucked the handful of brochures Madame Pomfrey had proffered me into my bookbag as I left the Hospital Wing. My stomach grumbled noisily, and I took that as my cue to set off in the direction of the Great Hall.
I meandered through the corridors, enjoying the peace and quiet. Dinner had started ten minutes ago, so the majority of Hogwarts was already stuffing their faces and chatting over a warm meal. My mind wandered as I walked, switching from the latest Defense lesson to Quidditch practice to wondering whom I would be spending Christmas with before finally settling on Percy.
“Percy, will you please just tell me why you’re mad?”
“I’m not mad,” he said stiffly. I sighed in exasperation.
“Really?” I started sarcastically. “Oh, so have I just been imagining you avoiding me for the past week then?”
I was seated across from him, fuming as he remained placid before me, giving me barely a fraction of his attention. Throwing my hands up in frustration, I asked with all too much fervor for a silent library, “Why must you be so bloody difficult?”
In my frenzied exasperation, my right hand knocked into a glass of water situated at the edge of the table. It sailed spectacularly through the air, showering Percy’s Charms textbook, his half-finished essay, and myself before landing perfectly atop his head. It wobbled a bit, tilting this way and that until it finally fell onto the soft carpet with a dull thud.
“Oops,” I whispered.
I cringed as I watched Percy’s face take on a range of emotions, from shock to confusion to anger to disbelief. I waited for him to settle on one—fury, most likely—and braced myself for what would inevitably be a long and scolding lecture.
Instead, he burst out laughing.
I watched him for a moment, flabbergasted, my mouth hanging open in complete bewilderment. Then I started to laugh, too.
We clutched the stitches in our sides as we guffawed together, tears leaking out of our eyes, our faces travelling through different splotchy shades of red. At one point, Percy was even rolling on the floor with laughter, and I may have snorted boorishly once or twice. We stayed like that for much longer than we should have considering the accident wasn’t actually all that funny, our giggles unceasing, until eventually we calmed down enough to dignify ourselves and resume our seats.
“I’m sorry, Luce,” Percy said honestly after letting out a last chuckle. “I know I’ve been acting like a right git lately, and I’m sorry.”
I scoffed. “Yeah, you have. Why though? I don’t understand why you’ve been so cross with me.”
He shrugged. “I honestly don’t know.”
“I mean, it’s not as if I’m your girlfriend,” I pointed out. “And Nolan’s a nice bloke. He even made us a picnic when we went out.”
“I know you’re not my girlfriend,” he said, choosing to ignore my comment about Nolan, “but I just...I don’t know. Dating hasn’t been an option for either one of us since we started...you know.” He gestured at the air. “Doing whatever it is that we’re doing.”
I nodded my head in understanding. “We probably should’ve talked about it beforehand. But better late than never, right?” I pondered for a minute. “How about this: when we want to date other people, we let each other know. And this...whatever stops. It has to, or we’d be cheating. And we’re allowed to butt into each other’s relationships as a friend normally would. Like if one of us wanted to date someone dreadful, we’d tell them.”
“Abbey’s dreadful,” Percy replied automatically. I shot him a look.
“Percy...” I said warningly. He sighed.
“So are we stopping this...whatever then? Now that you’ve got Abbey?”
Strangely flattered by the disgusted look on his face, I shook my head. “No. He’s fit, but he’s not...” I gestured randomly at the air. “You know. I don’t know. Enough, I suppose. Enough to end this...whatever.”
A large grin spread across Percy’s face, lighting up his eyes. “Good,” he said, his voice giddy and a tad smug.
“We’re okay now?”
“Yes, I think we are.”
Percy chuckled. “Too proper for you, Luce?” he teased.
“Makes you sound like one of Uncle Wyatt’s stuffy business partners,” I grumbled.
We sat in comfortable silence for a while, Percy siphoning off the water from his parchment and textbook and me gazing out the window, listening to the soothing sound of the rain tapping against the windowpane and smiling at the thought of how easy it was for Percy and me to forgive each other.
“Hey, Luce?” he said after a while.
“Hmm?” I turned away from the drizzly scenery.
“You want to..?” He tipped his head towards the exit and waggled his brows.
I rolled my eyes at Percy’s hopeful expression but couldn’t help a smile from crossing my face. As I nodded yes, his cerulean eyes widened and he grappled on the table for his things, stuffing quills and textbooks and his inkwell into his bookbag with haste.
He hurried through the library, slinging his bag onto his shoulder as he went. He was already at the doors before he noticed I wasn’t beside him.
“Well c’mon then, Luce!” he called out impatiently. Madame Pince glanced up from behind her desk and shot him an annoyed look but, as we were the only ones in the library and Percy was Head Boy, said nothing.
I laughed and ran to meet him, allowing him to tug me along. We reached our classroom in record time.
I was inside for all but two seconds before Percy had me against the door, snogging me senseless. He was everywhere—his taste, his touch, the smell of fresh parchment and newly inked quills—flooding my senses and hazing my mind until all I could remember knowing was Percy, Percy, Percy. His lips trailed a teasing path down my neck; his hands roamed my back, my chest, my bum. I was floating, flying, anchored only by the shaking grip I had on his jumper. All I could hear were my gasps; all I could see were his calculating blue eyes. All that I cared about, all that existed, was Percy, Percy, Percy. His harsh breaths set fire to my skin; his spindly arms wrapped around me until I felt safe. His long fingers fumbled along the waistband of my bottoms as they skimmed along the small gap of bare skin separating my top from my jeans. His cool hand roamed underneath my shirt, and I shivered at his touch. I tangled my fingers in his hair, fiddling with the soft tendrils and tugging his head gently back up to my lips, kissing him as his hand inched ever higher—
I startled out of my, er, graphic reverie to find myself face-to-face with Nolan Abbey peering at me curiously. “Lucie?” he said again.
“Hullo Nolan,” I responded and shot him a smile, trying to hide my blushing cheeks as I stored away the memory of my latest snog with Percy.
“I thought I lost you there,” he said with a chuckle. “You were just staring off into space. Had to call your name five times.”
“Sorry,” I murmured, embarrassed.
“Heading down to dinner?” he asked me. I nodded, and we began to walk in the direction of the Great Hall.
“Hey Lucie?” he said after a moment’s hesitation.
“What’s up, Nolan?”
“Well, I was wondering,” he started, rubbing the back of his neck nervously, just as he had done when he first asked me on a date. Oh, bugger. He was going to do it once more, wasn’t he? “Would you like to hang out again sometime?” Bugger. I hated being right.
“Er...” I liked the bloke, I really did—or, I thought he was a fine specimen of human being, at least—but I had told Percy only yesterday that I didn’t want to start anything with Nolan, and I meant it. If I were going to sacrifice whatever I had with Percy for a relationship, it wouldn’t be one with Nolan. So, properly regretful, I said, “Sorry Nolan, but now’s not the best time. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment.”
His face fell, but he nodded. “Don’t worry, I understand,” he said. We had reached the Entrance Hall by then, and as we neared the doors that would lead us to dinner, I bade him a friendly goodbye and started off before him towards the Gryffindor table.
“Oi, Lucie!” he called behind me as I was about to walk down the aisle towards where I saw Percy sitting, Oliver and Alicia across from him. I turned around and was surprised to find myself face-to-face with Nolan once again.
“I’m not giving up, you know,” he whispered. He smirked at the surprised disbelief that spread across my face and went to go sit with his mates, leaving me standing at the end of the Gryffindor table and gaping like an idiot.
The sound of Oliver’s call jerked me out of my stunned silence, and I started towards the top of the table and plopped myself down beside Alicia.
“What were you talking to Abbey for?” I didn’t have to look up from pouring myself a glass of pumpkin juice to know that it was Percy who had asked the question. His voice remained casual but I noted a slight stiffness, and in my line of vision I saw his fork stab forcefully into his shepherd’s pie.
“Oh, did he ask you on a second date?” Alicia squealed excitedly, completely unaware of Percy’s sourness.
I nodded my head but grabbed hold of her wrist before she started jumping up and down in her seat with delight. “I said no.”
Her face fell. “What in Merlin’s name did you do that for?” she moaned dejectedly. Honestly, one would think it had been her who had rejected Nolan Abbey. I saw Percy brighten up considerably at my answer though, and he began to treat his dinner with much more kindness. I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes. Subtle, that one.
“Just want to focus on my N.E.W.T.s,” I said, shrugging. I knew it was a lame excuse, and I also knew that Alicia wouldn’t buy it, but before she could open her mouth to protest a voice cut across.
“Well, I’m glad you shot down the bloke.” I cocked an eyebrow at Oliver’s words, fully having expected them to come out of Percy’s mouth instead. Oliver had never been one to give a jarvey’s arse about the boys I dated before. Percy was usually the one to do so, complete with statistics on how many misdemeanors any particular boy had acquired during their time at Hogwarts and what their detention tasks had been as consequence. “He’s a right twat and a half,” Oliver finished, brandishing his spoon in the air as if to emphasize his point. He then discarded it onto the table and picked up his bowl of stew, opting to slurp it instead of eat like a normal human being. Percy nodded approvingly from his side—whether at Oliver’s statement or his dining habits I wasn’t entirely sure, but I didn’t care enough to find out.
I sighed and exchanged looks with Alicia. Why are we friends with them again? we silently asked each other.
The rest of dinner was a rather uneventful affair, with only Oliver spilling the rest of his stew into his lap and jumping around screaming bloody murder at how it burned to serve as mildly humorous entertainment. After the boy managed to pull himself together enough to allow Percy to Tergeo the front of his pants, we made our way back up to the common room.
“Oh, bloody...” Percy let out a string of curses when we reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“Blimey,” Alicia said gingerly, her tone slightly fearful at Percy’s vulgarity. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say anything even remotely profane before, Perce.” I nodded my head in agreement. What had him all worked up?
“He’s got patrol duties now,” Oliver explained, clapping Percy on the back comfortingly as the redhead continued to spew out foul language, “with Clearwater.”
“Oh,” Alicia and I said in unison.
“Yeah,” Percy spat out bitterly.
We all shot him sympathetic glances as he trudged down the corridor to meet Penelope by Dumbledore’s office.
“Poor bloke,” Oliver commented as we climbed through the portrait hole.
Oliver scared away a group of first years sitting by the fire and plopped down into the cushy armchair nearest the warming flames, propping his feet up on the table before him. Alicia and I settled onto the adjacent couch.
“Oh!” Alicia exclaimed the moment her bum hit the seat. She sprang back up again. “I almost forgot. My sister needs extra help with her spellwork in Transfiguration; I’ve got to go meet her in the library.”
“Merlin Alicia, does your sister not do any work on her own?” I joked. She rolled her eyes and then waved Oliver and me goodbye before climbing back through the portrait hole, almost knocking over Harry in the process, who was entering the common room.
“Oi, Alicia!” he called out, disgruntled. I heard her yelled apology as she sped down the corridor.
Harry caught sight of us and headed in our direction. “Hullo, you two,” he greeted us pleasantly. I waved and Oliver grunted in response.
“Shouldn’t you be with someone at all times, Harry?” Oliver asked suspiciously. “What were you doing, out in the castle by yourself? You know we’re not allowed to do that anymore; it’s too dangerous. You’ve got to be more vigilant.”
Harry grimaced, clearly annoyed by Oliver’s reprimand. “Relax,” he said. “I was walking with Dean and Seamus. They just went to go to the Owlery.”
“Yeah, Dad,” I teased Oliver. “Who made you Percy Prefect, hm? Sounded like you were about to give him a detention.”
“Hey,” he said indignantly, shoving my shoulder, “I’m just watching out for my Seeker. Don’t want him offed before our next match, do I?”
“His concern for you is really so touching,” I deadpanned to Harry. He snorted.
“Don’t worry, Wood,” Harry said, his tone mockingly soothing, “I promise not to get myself murdered before we can pummel Hufflepuff.”
Oliver broke into a grin. “Now, that’s my Seeker!” He ruffled Harry’s already messy hair, and the boy let out a high-pitched squeak of protest. I covered my mouth to try to stifle my laughter, but he still glared at me.
“Anyway,” Harry said pointedly, “I just came over to see when the next practice is.”
“Tomorrow morning,” Oliver told him, grinning wickedly. “Seven sharp!”
This time, it was Oliver’s turn to let out a high-pitched squeak of protest as two cushions hit him square in the face. Harry and I high-fived each other.
“Don’t disrespect your captain,” Oliver ordered from behind the pillows, but his muffled voice lessened the tone of authority.
After Oliver accepted our (insincere) apologies, Harry left to join Hermione and Ron in a corner of the common room. I looked to Oliver and raised an eyebrow at him. “And then there were two.”
He smiled and got up from his armchair, opting to join me on the couch instead. I scooted closer to him and laid my head on his shoulder, snuggling into his side. Despite the fire, the room was cold, and the thin jumper I had changed into after classes was doing nothing to keep me warm.
A small look of surprise crossed his face but he relaxed as I cuddled into him. His arm came to rest on the back of the couch and his fingers began playing idly with the tips of my wavy locks.
We stayed like that in silence, and the crackling of the fire and the beating of Oliver’s heart lulled me to sleep. I let out a yawn and allowed my eyes to flutter closed, glad for the chance to rest after a week of essays and practices and barely any sleep. As I drifted off, I could still feel Oliver’s hand gently stroking my hair.
“Fine,” a voice spat.
Someone snarled, and I peeked one eye open. What in the name of Merlin?
I found that I was still seated on the couch, leaning against Oliver. Standing over us was Percy, looking absolutely murderous. For a second, I entertained the wacky thought of him being jealous of the position Oliver and I were in, but then I heard him mention Clearwater’s name and realized that he was griping over his patrol.
“She didn’t speak a single word to me the entire time!”
I sat up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Oliver shot me a glance, but Percy took no notice as he was still glaring moodily into the fire.
“Did you want her to?”
He whipped around, startled to see I was awake. He eyed me warily but didn’t answer.
“Well, did you?” I asked again.
“I—well—I—no?” he spluttered, confusion etched across his face. The corners of his mouth tugged down in a grimace.
“You still fancy her, mate?” This question came from Oliver.
Percy thought hard for a moment before answering cautiously, “No. I don’t know. I don’t think so?” He paused, frowning hard at the ground. “Regardless, we should be civil to each other if we’re going to have to work together! She’s treating me like I’m scum at the bottom of her cauldron, though.” He turned to face us, his expression miserable. “Oh, bugger it all,” he sighed, “I’m going to bed. Good night, you two.” He kicked a foot at the carpet, shoved his hands into his pockets, and trudged up the staircase towards the boys’ dormitories in a dejected manner reminiscent of the night Clearwater had first broken his heart.
Oliver and I exchanged glances.
“I think I better take this one,” he said after a pause. I nodded my head.
“G’night, Oliver,” I mumbled, already yawning again.
“G’night, Luce,” he said back. He hesitated for a moment, frowning as if he were in a heated debate with himself before taking a step towards me, leaning down, and planting a kiss on the top of my head, his lips lingering for a second too long. Then he turned swiftly around and followed Percy up to their dormitory without so much as a backwards glance.
My hand found the spot on my head where he had kissed me, and I blinked.
What the bloody hell was that?
Author's note: Wow, I'm a horrible person. There was a season change between now and my last update...so, so sorry! College has just been taking over my life. When I'm not in class, I'm doing homework. When I'm not doing homework, I'm out and about. When I'm not out and about, I'm too tired to do anything else. But I finally managed to update! This chapter is my longest one yet, so hopefully that'll slightly make up for my absence. And Percy and Luce made up! I'd love to hear thoughts on this chapter; hopefully I haven't lost my regular reviewers. :/ I'll try to update more quickly next time, I promise!
08/07/13 edits: title, grammatical errors, minor plot changes
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