Chapter 9 : Break
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Percy and Oliver were friends before Alicia and I ever gave them more than a passing glance.
They were sorted one right after the other. First came “Weasley, Percy” then “Wood, Oliver”. The Sorting Hat called out “Gryffindor!” twice in a row, and Oliver sat down next to Percy at the end of the cheering table.
Percy had been the first one to talk. When was he not? “I’m Percy Weasley,” he piped up, holding out his hand for Oliver to shake. “I’m going to be Head Boy one day.”
Oliver grasped it firmly and said, “Oliver Wood. I’ll be Quidditch captain.”
To everyone else, they were as different as two eleven year old boys could be. Alicia and I certainly thought so, when we would giggle about how cute we found Oliver and wonder why Percy was always hanging around him. When Oliver made the Quidditch team our second year, we were downright puzzled. The Quidditch players were popular. What was a popular bloke like Oliver doing being best mates with a snotty, pretentious stick-in-the-mud like Percy?
One day, in our third year, I worked up the courage to ask Oliver about it. We had become friends after I was made a Chaser that year, and although the question had been burning in the back of my mind since first year, I had always been too scared to ask him about the dynamics of his and Percy’s friendship. What if he got offended? I didn’t want to insult Percy, especially to his best mate; I was just genuinely curious. Still, there were only so many ways the question could be worded, and the majority of them sounded rather mean.
Finally, after one Quidditch practice, Oliver and I were walking back up to the castle together and I saw my opportunity. After he told me about the twins’ latest prank on their “favorite brother” (their favorite brother to rile up, more like), I posed my query. “You and Percy are so different. How did you two become friends?”
Oliver shrugged. “I dunno. He just gets me, I guess. He’s my best mate.”
And that was that. We spent the rest of our trek to the castle arguing about the latest match between the Harpies and Puddlemere (which the Harpies had won, by the way).
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. Percy did get Oliver. And Oliver got Percy. Because although they may have been on two opposite spectrums when it came to interests—Oliver with his obsession over Quidditch and Percy with his obsession over the rules—they had one important quality in common that could not, no matter how different the two might have been, be ignored: they were both driven. Ambitious. Almost Slytherin, even. Percy understood why Oliver put so much effort into Quidditch, why he held practices at seven o’ clock in the morning and locked himself up in the Captain’s office for hours at a time to perfect his Quidditch tactics for the upcoming match because he did the same when it came to his Prefect (and now Head Boy) duties. Oliver understood why Percy took his rounds so seriously, why he willingly patrolled the corridors until midnight and adhered so strictly to the school rules because he had the same attitude with Quidditch training. Each owed a lot to the other for being able to accomplish the goals they had proclaimed long ago, when they were two tiny first years sitting side by side at the Gryffindor table.
Their friendship was as strong as—maybe even stronger than, actually—Alicia’s and mine.
They were best mates, through and through.
Two weeks. That’s how long it had been since Percy and I last snogged.
It felt like a lifetime.
It was my fault, really, that the most physical contact we made for days was when I accidentally bumped into him at the top of Entrance Hall steps on our way to lunch and sent him tumbling down, knocking over first year after first year until Fred and George oh-so-kindly cushioned his fall by conjuring up of a pool of mud. Earned themselves a week of detentions (Flitwick, the faculty bystander, had originally made it only one but Percy argued that was hardly enough time for them to learn their lesson) and a Howler from Mrs. Weasley for that one, but the twins—and half the school—had themselves a right laugh so they didn’t much care.
When Percy insisted on sneaking off to our classroom during tutoring, I insisted that I still couldn’t transfigure my hair pink without leaving behind streaks of my natural brown. When he shot me suggestive looks from across the common room, I feigned not to notice. I asked Oliver for extra help with my Chaser throws and prompted many girls’ night ins with Alicia, spent hours writing and rewriting my Charms essays and perfecting my drawings of runes, all to distract myself from the one thought that kept forcing its way to the front of my mind: I fancied Percy Weasley.
When he kissed me, my mind went blank. When we were alone, I found myself cursing how quickly time went. When he said my name or laughed at my jokes or so much as looked at me, I felt as if nothing could make me happier. It took me months of denial and fooling around and convincing myself that I didn’t want to be in a relationship, but when Percy and I spent time together after watching the twins’ fireworks, I finally realized what I had known all along but was too afraid to admit to myself: I was falling for my freckle-faced, four-eyed, snooty best friend.
So, of course, I did the only logical thing I could think of: I avoided him like he was You-Know-Who.
“How long is the process of becoming an Animagus?”
“What is the official Ministry document called that one must obtain in order to be considered a registered Animagus?”
“The G.N.O.M.E. Generally Needed Order for Magically-Transfigured Elephants (and other animal-like creatures).”
“What percent of Animagi is born as an Animagus?”
“Fifty-three, actually, but close enough. Why don’t we take a break, Luce? We can...blow off some steam.”
Redness filled my cheeks as he caught my gaze with his mischievous eyes, but I couldn’t let myself be tempted. “No! I got the last question wrong; we should keep going.”
“Luce, we’ve been keeping going for more than an hour now. You know more about Animagi than McGonagall does at this point, and she is one.”
“Yes, but—” I began flipping through my Transfiguration textbook almost desperately, searching for something, anything, that we hadn’t yet covered. Due to the amount of actual studying Percy and I had been doing after my one-sided ban of snogging, there actually wasn’t a lot of material left for me to learn.
“Aha!” I cried triumphantly, pointing to a headline in the book and ignoring Percy’s startled flinch and Madame Pince’s disapproving shush. “McGonagall said the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration would be on the next exam, and the only one I can ever remember is food. Can you test me on that?”
Percy sighed wearily. “Fine. Information is the next exception. See, if you read here, it says, ‘Information must be acquired logically rather than magically’—actually, no. You know what, Luce? We need to talk.”
My eyes shifted from the page to him, and I was alarmed at how angry he looked. What was going on?
“You’ve been avoiding me.”
“What? No I haven’t, why—”
“It wasn’t a question, Luce. You’ve been avoiding me, and I want to know why. Why don’t you want to—” he lowered his voice to a whisper “—snog me anymore?”
“I—” I hesitated. What was I supposed to tell him? Fat chance I’d fess up the truth. I may be a Gryffindor, but that sort of bravery was bordering on recklessness.
“You what, Luce?” He had his arms crossed, and I could hear his foot tapping under the table impatiently. Bollocks. What was I going to do?
I bit my lip. Might as well try to make it up as I go along. “Look, Perce—”
“Is it your uncle?” he said suddenly, his voice laced with concern. “That’s it, isn’t it? How he won’t be home for Christmas again. It’s still got you upset.”
“Uh, yeah. Yeah, that’s it. It sucks.” I nodded fervently and tried my best to look sad, even though I wasn’t all that bothered about the Christmas situation anymore. It’s not as if that was the first time Uncle Wyatt let me down. But Percy had given me a way out of having to explain myself, and I had to be mental not to take it.
He scanned the library for any unwelcomed onlookers before pressing his lips to my forehead. My eyes automatically fluttered close. “Luce, I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I reckon it’s tough. But I’m here for you, you know? You don’t have to go on like you’re okay. You can always come to me.”
Well, that’s just bloody great. Now I feel like shit for lying to him. I was ready to up and leave to get away from the guilt, but then I felt his mouth against mine. I opened my eyes and they connected with his, and I smiled. Merlin, had I missed doing this.
The next week passed in a blur of kisses and confusion. Percy and I were making up for lost time, and with each secret meeting I found myself fancying more and more about him. I fancied the way his glasses fogged up when I peppered kisses along his jaw, the way he nuzzled his face into my neck to make me giggle, the way he always asked if I needed to talk. But with my growing feelings for him came doubt, worry, apprehension. Was I only hurting myself by not pushing him away?
It was a Saturday morning, and Alicia and I were rushing down to the pitch for practice. It was thirty seconds to seven, and Oliver was never a pleasant sight when it came to being late.
We burst into the changing rooms at the fifty-ninth second, huffing and puffing but still on time. We were greeted by Harry, Angelina, and the twins’ expectant faces.
“Well then?” Fred asked.
“Where’s the ol’ cap’n?” continued George.
“You mean—” deep gasp “—he’s not—” I clutched at my side “—here yet?” Dear Merlin, are my lungs about to combust?
Harry’s eyes widened. “Blimey, d’you think he died?”
We looked around at each other, legitimate fear reflected in all our faces. Oliver Wood never showed up late to practice. Once, in fifth year, he snuck out of the Hospital Wing after receiving a concussion from a Bludger to the head during the previous day’s match because he “had to go over notes from the match with the team. Merlin, Luce, is Quidditch just a game to you?”
“We need to gather up a—”
We all nodded solemnly at the twins’ words, and Fred and George were the first ones out the door. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that they had come to a halt right outside the changing rooms, and I crashed straight into them in my pursuit, followed shortly by Alicia, Harry, and Angelina. The team sans Captain lay in a heap on the ground.
Spitting Angelina’s hair out of my mouth, I looked up and saw Oliver and Percy coming over the hill.
The two seemed to be deep in discussion, not even noticing our tangled state. As we picked ourselves up (“George, mate, that’s my foot, not yours” “Alicia, your knee’s in my, um, area”), they came upon us.
“Right, team. Ready to start?”
We all blinked at Oliver. We were terrified that the bloke had gotten himself killed, and that’s all he had to say?
“Wood, we thought you got yourself killed! That’s all you have to say?”
Hey, that’s what I was thinking. Maybe Alicia and I spend too much time together.
“Percy and I had, er, important things to discuss. Now stop dilly-dallying; we’re wasting precious training time.”
“What does our brother have to say that could be considered even remotely important?” Fred wondered aloud, blatantly ignoring Oliver’s order. Percy looked as if he was about to dish out some discipline, so Oliver spoke in his most authoritative voice.
“It’s nothing that concerns you lot. Pitch. Now.”
He marched into the changing rooms and, despite their grumbling, the twins followed suit. Alicia and Angelina exchanged glances before heading in, and Harry just shrugged and went along.
“I have to talk to you later, okay?”
My smile at Percy dropped off my face at his harsh tone. “Is there something wrong, Perce?”
“No. We just need to talk.”
And before I could reply, he turned on his heel and walked away.
“Luce, what’s wrong with you today? Your flying’s shit!” Oliver shouted at me from across the pitch.
I winced and bit back a retort, knowing he was right. I had already crashed into Harry twice since practice began.
I took a deep breath before speeding in the direction of Oliver and the goalposts. As I neared his waiting form, Angelina appeared alongside me and tossed me the Quaffle, and it grazed my fingertips before slipping from my grasp and falling towards the ground. For the fourth time.
I heard Oliver sigh heavily before yelling, “Alright, everyone. Let’s take five.”
My feet barely touched the ground before Oliver was pulling me to the side. “Luce, what is going on with you today?”
Percy, I wanted to say. Percy is what’s going on! I kept repeating our conversation from earlier over and over again in my head, unable to block out his sharp tone and trying to figure out what he wanted to discuss with me. What had I done wrong?
“Luce!” I blinked and realized Oliver was waving his hand in front of my face. “Merlin, are you okay?”
“I’m just tired,” came my automatic lie. I ignored the skepticism in his eyes and continued, “I couldn’t sleep last night. Sorry, Oliver.”
I began to walk away when Oliver grabbed my hand. “Luce, you know you can talk to me, right? You don’t have to pretend like everything’s alright.”
”But I’m here for you, you know? You don’t have to go on like you’re okay. You can always come to me.” Percy’s words in the library last week echoed in my mind. What had changed?
“I’m fine, Oliver,” I said, trying to make my smile look as authentic as I could. “But thanks.”
I gently pulled away from him and went over to where the rest of the team was congregated. Oliver’s heavy footsteps followed me, and then he did something I never would have believed if I hadn’t been there to witness it.
“Look, team. It’s been a rough morning, so why don’t we just call it a day?”
Six incredulous faces stared back at him. What?
“But...but there’s still fifteen minutes left of practice. Last week you didn’t let Angelina leave only a minute early when she had an appointment with Pomfrey.” The flabbergasted look on Harry’s face was almost comical.
“Don’t question the man, Harry!” The twins had gathered their senses and were already halfway off the pitch. “He knows what he’s doing!”
Oliver merely shrugged and began walking towards the changing rooms. Not knowing what else to do, the rest of us followed. After grabbing my rucksack from inside my locker and tossing my Quidditch gloves in its place, I made a quick decision to just shower back at the dormitory, left Alicia behind, and was the first out the door.
Percy was waiting for me outside. My heartbeat quickened. What was going to happen?
“I thought practice didn’t end for another fifteen minutes. Are you ditching?” He laughed, but it sounded hollow.
“Oliver surprisingly grew a heart and decided to spare us,” I joked back, but the most I could manage was a nervous tittering. Was it just me, or was the tension between us really suffocating?
“Did you...did you talk to him?”
“Did I talk to who?”
My eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. “About what?” What’s Oliver got to do with anything?
“Never mind,” Percy said quickly. “Look, we need to talk.”
I bit my lip. “So I’ve heard.”
“Luce, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this anymore.”
This only made me more muddled. “Do what?”
“This.” He gestured to the empty space between us, as if there was some invisible rope tying us together that he wanted to sever. “Whatever this is. I can’t keep sneaking around with you anymore.”
He couldn’t keep sneaking around with me anymore.
He couldn’t do this anymore.
I didn’t mean anything to him anymore.
I didn’t know what to say, what to do—I didn’t even know how to breathe. I wasn’t sure what I had been expecting, but it most certainly wasn’t this. It most certainly wasn’t the boy I couldn’t stop thinking about breaking my heart.
I felt a sudden need to burst into tears, to tell him that I fancied him and I didn’t want to lose him. But that was silly of me. Percy and I weren’t in a relationship; we weren’t even dating. He didn’t have feelings for me; for Merlin’s sake, the boy was still so obviously hung up over Clearwater. What Percy and I were, whatever that was, didn’t mean anything. I knew that. I had no right to cry.
So I swallowed back my tears and said, willing myself to smile, “Oh, okay. That’s fine.”
“Are you—are you sure?” He seemed worried, so I forced myself to come across as genuine. For his sake.
“Yeah. I mean, it had to end sometime.” I shrugged. “We couldn’t go on like this forever. Friends first, right?” Even though I wanted more, so much more.
I must have sounded believable because Percy let out a sigh of relief. “Merlin, I’m glad you’re okay. I was so scared to hurt you.”
“Don’t give yourself too much credit, Perce.” I laughed because I knew if I didn’t, I would start to cry. “You weren’t that good of a snog.”
“Oi!” He pretended to look offended. “I’m bloody brilliant at everything I do, thanks very much!” He chuckled and said, “Ready to head up to the castle? I went to the library instead of breakfast, so I’m famished.”
“You can go ahead. I actually forgot something in my locker so I’ve got to go back.”
He nodded and I turned around because looking at him made my heart feel as heavy as a Bludger. Alicia, Harry, Angelina, and the twins were all heading out of the changing rooms, and once I told them I left something behind they all went on without me.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
I shut the door of the changing rooms and leaned against it, burying my face in my hands.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Luce? Are you alright?” I looked up and saw Oliver standing in front of the Captain’s office.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Oh, yeah. Just nodding off. Told you I was knackered!” I laughed again.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
Oliver smiled. “Listen, Luce, I actually wanted to ask you something...” his voice trailed off and I could see a hint of nervousness in his eyes. I tried to focus on only him and willed myself again:
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Would you like to go on a date with me?”
Author's note: I'm getting better at this updating thing! Unfortunately, I can't guarantee that the next chapter will come out as quickly because I've been working on a James/OC one-shot, and I'll probably send that through the queue before updating TSAP. I'll try to do them immediately after the other though, so the wait won't be too long!
Anyway, this chapter is actually vitally important, not just because of the dramatics but also because it explains the dynamics of Oliver and Percy's friendship. In most fics, Oliver and Percy hate each other, which is a perfectly plausible circumstance. But the beginning of this chapter is my reasoning for why I see them as friends. It's something to keep in mind as the story progresses.
I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter and the story thus far! Are you on Team Percykins or Team Olly-Wobbles? Did you ever think Lucie would be the first to fall? What do you think her response to Oliver will be?! And, most importantly: What do you think are the three other exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration? (Stole information as one of them from Harry Potter Wiki, by the way. That site's brilliant.)
I'll leave you all to ponder and review for now. Watch out for the James/OC one-shot I was talking about!
P.S. If you ever get a chance, go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I went a week ago and I pretty much died of happiness.
P.P.S. Wow this is a long author's note. I'll shut up now. Bye!
08/07/13 edits: title, grammatical errors
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