Chapter 8 : Fireworks
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I had just toweled off my hair after getting dressed from my shower when Oliver’s voice rang through the changing rooms.
“Lucie, d’you mind if you stay and help me for a bit? I’m having trouble working out the kinks in a few of the Chaser plays.”
It was only nearing ten o’ clock in the morning, but I was absolutely exhausted from the two and a half hours of Chaser drills Oliver had made Alicia, Angelina, and I fly. I felt as if the mere mention of Quidditch would turn my muscles to jelly. With that thought in mind, I opened my mouth to decline Oliver’s request, an excuse already on the tip of my tongue—I hadn’t used “It’s my time of the month!” in a while and blokes never seemed to question that one—but before I could even formulate the words, he had already taken my millisecond of silence as acquiescence and marched back into the Captain’s office, his door slam ringing of finality.
I heard Alicia snicker and turned to her to make a face, but when I did I only caught her backside leaving the changing rooms. I sighed. Why was no one giving me a chance to react today?
After responding to Harry’s sympathetic smile as he left the changing rooms with an unpleasant grimace, I stuffed my Quidditch gear hastily back into my locker, making sure to lock it so as to not get my gloves nicked by Oliver once again—how he managed to forget his own set whenever he went down to the pitch escaped me—and made my way toward the Captain’s office. Knocking hesitantly on the door, I waited for Oliver to say, “Come in” before pushing it open.
Before Wood was appointed Captain, his predecessor—an extremely handsome bloke named Edmund Wainwright who ended up playing Chaser for the Wimbourne Wasps and now had a poster of him winking roguishly published in almost every issue of Witch Weekly—had always left the door wide open, allowing the team to come and go as they pleased. When it was his office, the walls had been almost bare, his desk had held nothing more than a few random scraps of parchment that probably weren’t even Quidditch related, and we only ever really entered the office for the enchanted water cooler in the corner that self-refilled. The second Oliver arrived at Hogwarts fifth year, however, his Captain’s badge gleaming on his puffed-out chest, he dragged the water cooler out to the changing rooms and shut himself into the Captain’s office. Since then, no one had ever been able to catch so much as a glimpse of the interior—not even the Weasley twins, who had made many humorous but unsuccessful attempts at trying. Oliver claimed it was his quiet place to plan away from “you cantankerous lot—I can actually bloody concentrate in there!” We tended to refer to it as his evil lair, where he plotted ways in which to torture us and passed them off as “Quidditch plays”.
After two years of wondering what in Merlin’s name the bloke could be hiding in there, all my speculation was finally put to rest. The sight that greeted me was one that made me gasp in awe.
Posters of every professional Quidditch team known to wizardkind lined the walls, covering each centimeter of space so that the chipping puce-colored paint that had been so prominent during Edmund’s Captaincy could no longer be detected. Alasdair Maddock was waving at me from his broom in a poster of the Montrose Magpies, the two beaters from the Sumbawanga Sunrays whose names I couldn’t remember were swinging their bats menacingly in another, Milie Gunabie was executing a perfect Wronski Feint in a picture of the Thundelarra Thunderers, and Gwenog Jones was flying in circles in a glossy dark green poster of the Harpies. The largest poster was one of Puddlemere United—Oliver’s favorite team—positioned above his desk, with “Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here”, the team’s anthem, etched in gold script at the bottom.
In the one spot that a professional team wasn’t featured on the walls, a corkscrew board was positioned, covered in newspaper clippings. As I took a step into the room, I was able to recognize them as being from the Hogwarts Herald. Headlines like “Gryffindor on Its First Winning Streak in Years” and “Could Wood Be the New Charlie Weasley?” screamed from the board, highlighting every win Gryffindor had accomplished since Oliver had become Captain. My eyes trailed over his desk, which was piled high with parchment that no doubt held plays upon plays, tactics and tips for what it takes to win a match. But my favorite part of the office was the litter of picture frames taking up the remaining space on the desk. I recognized a photograph taken after his memorable first match as Captain, when Harry had caught the Snitch in his mouth. Harry was sitting atop the twins’ shoulders, the rest of the team beaming around them. Oliver’s grin was easily the widest. Another picture held a one-year-old Oliver clapping his hands with glee as he zoomed in and out of the frame atop a toy broomstick, and still another boasted the Falmouth Falcons posing with a group of preteens, Oliver among them, and I gathered that it had been taken when Oliver had attended the Quidditch camp the Falcons offered the summer before second year. There was even one of the two of us, clutching our broomsticks and smiling happily at the camera. Every once in a while, Oliver would nudge me and I would turn to him and stick out my tongue. I smiled fondly as I remembered that photo; we had taken it after defeating Hufflepuff the year I joined the team.
“Planning on lending a hand anytime soon, or you reckon you’ll just stand there for another hour?”
My eyes snapped away from the photograph of us to rest on Oliver. He was seated behind his desk, holding a quill aloft and regarding me with a cocked eyebrow and an amused expression. I blushed and sat myself down beside him in the chair he had just conjured for me.
“Why am I in here?” I wondered, gazing around the room again. I couldn’t stop admiring how magnificent it was.
Oliver’s eyebrow continued to remain raised. “Because I asked you for help. Merlin, Luce, you feeling alright?”
I scowled at him. “Oi, I’m not mental if that’s what you’re implying!” I ignored his muttering of “You sure act like it” and went on. “I’m just surprised you let me in, is all. I’m probably the only one who’s so much as set foot inside this office other than you since you got Captain.”
He shrugged. “I trust you, I guess.” His tone was casual, but we both knew the gravity of his statement. This was Oliver’s sanctuary, and I had been allowed in. Because he trusted me. He trusted me more than he trusted anyone else—aside from Percy, of course. He looked back down at the parchment he had been studying before I came in and I watched him, feeling a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth.
We sat in silence for a brief moment before I piped up, “Well, I like it.”
He grinned, looking around the room before saying, “I like it, too.”
We spent the rest of the morning discussing formations and editing plays, making a slight change to Angelina’s position here and a tweak in Alicia’s broomstick angle there. Taking a break, Oliver recanted the tale of how he unknowingly saved his first goal when he shielded his face with his hands because he thought the Quaffle coming at him was a Bludger and it ended up landing perfectly in his grasp, and we roared with laughter over a snack of treacle tart and chocolate frogs as I told him of the time I almost flashed the entire stadium during our match against Slytherin in fifth year.
Before we knew it, the sun was blazing directly overhead, signaling it was time for lunch. Oliver gathered the scraps of parchment containing the ten new plays we had compiled in between trading embarrassing moments and clutching at the stitches in our sides and pushed them into a neat stack in the center of his desk. I waited for him in the changing rooms as he took great care in locking the door of his office and murmuring an incoherent spell that no doubt was the reason why the twins could never breach Oliver’s office. When he was satisfied with his security, he turned to me and offered his arm.
“Shall we, m’lady?” he said in a phony English accent that did nothing to hide his Scottish twang. He bowed clumsily and sent me a goofy grin.
“We shall, good sir,” I replied through a fit of giggles. Linking my arm through his, we set off toward the castle.
He hummed a tune under his breath absentmindedly—I vaguely recognized it as a beautiful Scottish lullaby his mother had once told Percy, Alicia, and me that she sang to Oliver when he was a child (a fact he vehemently denied)—and I listened happily, savoring the sun’s warmth and the company of one of my best mates as we walked along the shore of the Black Lake.
The din emitting from the Great Hall as we entered the castle was a sharp contrast to the peaceful lull that had fallen around us during our brief journey, and I could no longer hear Oliver’s humming. Before I took another step closer to lunch, he unlinked his arm from mine and I turned to face him.
“I had a lot of fun this morning, Luce,” he half-yelled at me, his face earnest. I smiled.
“Same, Oliver.” I leaned in closer so he could hear me above the bedlam and teased, “And to think I wanted to make up an excuse about my lady problems so I wouldn’t have to help you.”
He groaned and shot me a look. Whining, he said, “I hate it when you do that! I never know what to say!”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point, Ollie dear.” I turned away from him and followed my nose to the smell of pheasant, leaving Oliver to catch up with me. Had the house elves made stew?
I was jerked backward as Oliver grabbed hold of my elbow, causing me to trip on a first year and send him flying towards the floor. Luckily, Oliver’s Keeper reflexes kept me from the same fate, his arm shooting out to wrap around my waist and heave me back upright.
“Merlin, Oliver!” I glared up at him after apologizing to the little tyke, shaking off the hand still gripping my side. “I could have died!”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Luce.” The arm that had been around my waist hung limply at his side, as if he no longer knew what to do with it.
I folded my arms over my chest. “Well?” I coaxed.
His face suddenly rearranged, looking not unlike when he had stepped onto the pitch in second year for his first match. Why was he so nervous?
“Er, so, Luce, I was just, uh, I was just wondering if maybe, um—” he gulped and shut his eyes for a brief moment, as if hoping to be put out of his self-inflicted misery, and I just looked on quizzically “—maybe you want to, you know, if you’d like to, er, maybe we could, um—”
“Oi, you two!” Both Oliver and I turned at the sound of Alicia’s voice. I shot him a quick glance and saw relief and disappointment battling for dominance in his expression.
“No, not you! I don’t even know you!” Alicia snarled at a first year who had looked at her peculiarly. I winced in sympathy as he yelped in fright and scurried up the grand staircase; it was the same first year who had been acquainted with the ground because of me—well, Oliver, technically—not five minutes ago. Poor bloke. He’ll probably have nightmares about psychotic seventh years after this.
“I’ve just dragged this one—” she gestured her thumb over her shoulder at Percy, who was clutching an armful of heavy textbooks and sulking “—from the library. Practically trapped himself in there, even had a fort of books built around him. No wonder he can’t get any girls.” She ignored Percy’s indignant “Hey!” and I struggled to keep the flush from rising to my cheeks.
“Ready to eat, then?” Alicia asked, looking around at us. We nodded and she led the way into the Great Hall toward our usual seats at the top of the table. We passed Nolan on our way up and he waved at me, and I smiled shyly back. I felt the edge of a book dig into my shoulder blades and I whipped around to glare at Percy. He blinked innocently.
We sat and I immediately dragged the pot of pheasant stew towards me, ladling generous servings into my bowl. Oliver was already stuffing a roast beef sandwich into his mouth, Alicia was pouring herself a glass of pumpkin juice, and Percy was turning his nose up at Oliver and me, taking his napkin and smoothing it onto his lap before daintily slicing his chicken into bite-sized pieces. I rolled my eyes at him. He treated every meal as if he was dining with the bloody queen.
“Let’s go down to the lake when we’re done,” Alicia suggested midway through the meal.
“Can’t. I’ve got to revise my Potions essay.”
She dismissed Percy’s comment with a wave of her hand.
“Fred and George told me they’re going to test some fireworks they’ve been working on,” she continued as if Percy hadn’t spoken. “I want to watch.”
Percy looked affronted. “What are my brothers doing? How irresponsible of them! That’s dangerous, not to mention it’s against school rules. This cannot happen, I must report this to Professor McGonagall immediately, and you lot should not be condoning this type of behavior—Fred! George! You two are in big trouble!”
Percy made to stand after catching sight of his twin brothers further down the table but I grabbed hold of his shoulder and pushed him back into his seat. Fred and George waved at us cheerily.
“Lucie, they can’t just get away with this. It’s against school rules! It is my duty as Head Boy—” he pointed to the obnoxiously gleaming badge on his chest “—to keep those hooligans from wreaking havoc in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts—”
“Perce, listen to me. We will go down to the lake. We will watch your brothers’ fireworks. We will enjoy ourselves. And you will not let the wand up your arse tempt you into giving them detention. Do you understand me?” I ignored his scathing glare and grabbed hold of his chin, maneuvering his head to nod.
Once Oliver was done wolfing down two servings of pudding, we dragged a scowling Percy to the lake and plopped him down beside a tree. Alicia sat beside him, keeping a hold of his arm should he decide to stop grumbling under his breath and exercise his power of authority, and Oliver and I lounged a little ways away, closer to the shoreline.
The fireworks were nothing short of spectacular. They cartwheeled and catapulted over the lake, filling the sky with neon colors and rockets of fire. One even took the shape of a dragon and started to speed towards Percy before Oliver and I warned George to redirect it unless the twins wanted to land themselves in the Headmaster’s office.
After the last spark died out and the twins took a bow as we gave them a standing ovation—sans Percy, of course—Oliver and I laid back on the grass and stared up at the startlingly blue sky. I heard Percy and Alicia laugh from their place behind us and I closed my eyes, sighing contentedly.
I peeked one eye open, training it on Oliver.
“Remember what I was trying to ask you earlier?”
“Not really. You were stuttering like a madman.”
Oliver blushed, and I giggled as his face flushed pink.
“So what was it you were going to ask, Ollie?”
He frowned. “Don’t call me Ollie, Luce.”
“Fine then, how about Olliekins?” I teased.
He cocked an eyebrow. “Would you like me to start referring to you as Gertrude?”
I gasped and sat up, shooting him a glare. “You wouldn’t. Not the dreaded middle name.”
“What’s so bad about calling you Gertrude, Gertrude?”
We got caught up in a staring match, my eyes leveling with his, each daring the other to blink first. I felt my left eye begin to twitch, and Oliver’s smirk told me he noticed it, too. My eyelids drooped down lower, lower, and I struggled in vain to keep them from sinking all the way down. But I blinked, and Oliver whooped in triumph.
I flopped back down onto the ground in defeat. “You’re an awful human being, Ollie,” I said flatly.
“Stop calling me Ollie, Gertrude!”
“Then stop calling me Gertrude!”
“I almost forgot how unfortunate your middle name is, Luce.”
I squinted up at the shadow that fell over me, making out Percy’s amused face. I scowled up at him.
“Not everyone can have a cool middle name, Ignatius,” I spat, sticking my tongue out at him. He laughed.
“C’mon, Luce. We’ve got tutoring now, remember?”
“Huh?” I stared blankly up at him.
“Tu-tor-ing,” he said again, emphasizing each syllable and giving me a pointed look.
Realization dawned on me and I shot up. “Oh, yeah! Right,” I said hastily. Percy rolled his eyes at me and I gave him a sheepish grin.
“Do you two really have to go?” Alicia asked, sidling over to take my place beside Oliver. “It’s Saturday! Honestly, Perce, you’re tougher than McGonagall.”
Percy shrugged. “Lucie needs all the help she can get if she’s going to get the ‘O’ she needs on her Transfiguration N.E.W.T.”
“Hey!” I protested, swatting at Percy’s arm. “You make me sound like I’m daft or something!”
“Well, you are pretty rotten at Transfiguration, Luce,” Oliver said, Percy nodding in agreement. I scowled at the both of them.
“Pricks,” I muttered under my breath.
Percy and I waved goodbye to the other two and started in the direction of the castle.
“Oh, Oliver!” I called back, turning around. “What was it you were going to ask me again?”
He tugged at the collar of his shirt and gave an almost imperceptible gulp. “Er—nothing important really. I’ll just tell you later.”
I shrugged. “Alright then.”
As Percy and I headed back to the castle, I said, “You know, Perce, I got a Troll on my last Transfiguration essay. Maybe you should start actually tutoring me again.”
“But that would cut our snogging time in half!” he whined, and I rolled my eyes at the pout on his face. Prat.
I giggled as he kissed up my neck, his glasses brushing against my chin. Every time he touched my skin, I felt a tingle run down my spine.
He brought his lips up to mine and snogged me with so much passion, so much fervor, so much I-don’t-even-know-what that my knees buckled and he had to place his hand to the small of my back to steady me. Breaking the kiss, he placed his forehead against mine. I looked into his eyes, his calculating blue eyes, and I couldn’t help but smile.
This was the Percy I loved to spend time with. This was the Percy who only I got to see. This was the Percy who was my best friend.
And as I kissed him again, and again, and again, I knew in that moment that I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else.
And that thought scared me shitless.
Author's note: Yay, a quick update! This is for poor_old_snuffles, who has been such a loyal reader and reviewer. I don't have much to say in this note, other than please review! I make a point to respond to each on as quickly as possible. :)
Till next update!
08/07/13 edits: grammatical errors
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