Chapter 19 : The Prize Fool of Gryffindor
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Oliver turned around, one foot in the portrait hole, as Professor McGonagall shoved his clipboard back in his hand, "I know it was you, Wood. I know you punched Mr Davies and for that you should be punished. However," she said, disapproval ringing through every syllable, "not a single person in that Hall can recall any memory of a fight and so, sadly, the only words we can go on is that of Mr Davies' and yourself. Do you have anything to say?"
She pierced him with such a stern look that there was no doubt in his mind that McGonagall knew he had punched Roger, but if every single witness in the Hall was going to say that they didnít fight, then he wasn't going to rile the majority.
"I still maintain that he punched himself in the guts." He said simply, composing his face into what he thought was an innocent expression.
Professor McGonagall surveyed him for a moment longer and let go of the clipboard. "Next time, Wood, take your anger out on the Quidditch pitch, not in the Great Hall."
"And I have attached the time and location of your detention with Mr Filch to your clipboard. Good day." She turned and left, not without giving him one last look, and he climbed the rest of the way into the portrait, keen just to try and forget what had happened in the Hall.
He knew that Penelope wasn't there, and he didnít mind that she didnít see, but Oliver thought that she would at least have heard from others what he had done. And that maybe she would have realised that he was telling her the truth when he said that he loved her, that maybe she would realise that she felt the same too.
But she hadn't even spoken to him. Not that there weren't plenty of opportunities that arose within the last few days; just that every time there was one, dear Percy always managed to turn up and give her the perfect excuse not to even look at him.
But what hurt Oliver most of all was the fact that he still loved her, and there was nothing else he could do to get her back without some kind of equal effort from Penelope.
And, sadly, she didn't seem to be trying at all.
"Penelope, are you not even going to talk to him?" Kathy asked as they passed Oliver in the corridor, Penelope's head held haughtily up so as to pretend that she didn't see him.
"After what he did to Davies?" She snorted.
"Are you feeling sorry for Roger?" Kathy asked testily, glancing across at her best friend and seeing the look of utter disgust at such a question - and at such a boy - being said.
"Look," Kathy stopped her and took her over to one side to allow the crowd to walk past, "I know you miss him - don't give me that face - I know you do. You're hardly yourself anymore and every time we pass him in the corridor, you either conveniently forget something and turn around to fetch it, or you act as though he's just a piece of the tapestry. You're only hurting yourself, Penelope," she said after a pause and squeezed her hand. "Just think about it. Please."
Kathy let go of her hand and walked away, leaving Penelope in the middle of the corridor to think about what she had said.
It was true, every word of it. She missed Oliver more than she could say, and every moment she had to spend in that buffoon Percy's company reminded her of just how much fun she could be having if Roger hadn't spoilt things.
Not that she had totally forgiven Oliver for what he had done, mind; but he did seemed to be taking his punishment without many complaints and he still hadn't given up on her. Didn't that tell her something about what he had been telling her at every opportunity.
That he actually did love-
The bell rang and Penelope glanced around to find the corridor totally deserted. Grabbing her bag and running as fast as she could, she tried to clear her mind of Oliver before she got to Potions.
Derek sat next to Audrey on the common room sofa and watched as Penelope came through the door and stalked straight off to her dormitory. "Is she okay?"
"I don't know," Audrey watched the back of Penelope recede up the staircase, "I mean, she seems better than she was when...you know," she inclined her head and Derek understood that she meant that weekend when hardly anyone saw her surface from her dorm, "but she's not herself anymore."
"I think I know what you mean." He said flatly.
":ike you would think that she would have gotten better in the past three weeks, and maybe she would have done with her new 'boyfriend'," Audrey practically retched over the word now associated with Percy Weasley, "but if anything, she shuts herself up in her room more now than when she did before she was with him. Like she's always avoiding him."
"I think I would if I was her," Derek muttered and Audrey permitted herself to smile at this completely serious comment.
"But wouldn't Oliver have said something to Percy?" Derek said after a moment, staring into the fire, "I mean, since they share a dorm, wouldn't Oliver have said something to him about Penelope?"
"I don't know, maybe he has." Audrey shrugged, knowing that he couldnít have done that. She would have heard from the Gryffindor girls if he had, "Or maybe he's avoiding Percy too."
They both sat deep in thought for a moment, staring into the fire and wondering why Penelope would put up with such a boy if it was so obvious to everyone that she really only wanted to be with Oliver, and that he wanted to be with her too.
"Well, then," Audrey finally said and laid her head on Derek's shoulder, whose heart still reacted in the same way even after all this time and skipped a beat, "it looks like we're going to have to stage an intervention. Again."
"To do what?"
"To make Penelope realise that she wants nothing better than to be kissing those fantastic lips of Oliver's," she sat up and winked at Derek, "and to allow Oliver to let everything off his chest to Percy."
"And how exactly are we meant to do that?"
The answer was ready for when he asked, "With a little help from darling Percy's little brothers."
"Percy!" Fred called down the corridor, Audrey and Derek quickly whipping out of sight, "Percy, I need to talk to you!"
Percy stopped, straightened his glasses and turned around, wondering why the twins would ever talk to him in the corridors when he knew full-well that they had been denying for years that he was even distantly related to them.
They grinned and jogged up to him. "We need a Weasley family meeting," George said, "and since you seem to bear a striking resemblance to us, I think that means that you almost have to be invited."
"Oh yes," he said pompously, "and what do we need a meeting about?"
Fred glanced quickly across at George and then sighed theatrically, "About your new girlfriend-"
"-and about the Yule Ball." George winked surreptitiously at Fred, "We know you're well-connected and we'd like to help you make it run a little...smoother."
Percy mumbled pompously to himself and straightened his glasses again. "And how exactly will you help-"
"Ah," Fred grinned, "all in good time, big bro."
"Just meet us in the Charms classroom at, say, eight o'clock?" George said.
Percy nodded and then suddenly thought, "Why can't we have this meeting in the Gryffindor common room?"
"We don't want to be overheard," Fred said, clapping him across the back and making his newly-straightened glasses fall down his nose, "unless you want everyone to find out about your private life and then I guess we can do it in the-"
"No, the Charms classroom will be fine," Percy said quickly. "And Professor Flitwick is okay with this?"
After assuring Percy several times over that Flitwick was fine about using his classroom, knew exactly what they were using it for and trusted them completely, the twins left.
"Now it's just up to Audrey and Derek to make sure that Flitwick stays in the staff room from eight ' clock onwards."
"You mean," George said, feigning shock, "that Flitwick doesnít know we're using his classroom tonight?"
They laughed and walked off down the corridor, stopping Oliver on his way up the stairs. "Mate!" George called and Oliver turned around.
"Mind meeting us in the Charms classroom at around eight ' clock tonight?"
"Why?" Oliver asked, taking a step towards them.
"We need to discuss...last minute changes in our tactics against the Ravenclaw Quidditch team for our match against them and we thought we should tell you."
Oliver raised his eyebrows but the twins stood their ground. Maybe they did care about Quidditch after all. "Fine, I'll see you there."
"And don't bring your clipboard!" They called after him and he waved his hand to show that he understood.
"Come for a walk with us, Penelope." Kathy said, holding the common room door open for her.
"No, I'd rather stay here," she said, concentrating on her homework and thinking how if she went out tonight, she might bump into Percy doing his bloody prefect duties, and she didn't want to be running into him in a deserted corridor late at night.
"No, come on!" Kathy said, dragging Penelope off the sofa and out of the door before she could retort. Audrey and Derek stood just ahead, holding hands and smiling.
"What are you two grinning at?"
"Oh nothing," Audrey grinned even wider, "Look, you two go on ahead of us. I need to talk to Flitwick about our latest Charms homework. See you later." She gripped Derek's hand and pulled him down the corridor, ready to take up their positions that she, Fred and George had agreed on earlier.
"Shall we?" Kathy said, holding her arm out, and Penelope laughed.
"So," she said after a pause, "where are we walking to?"
"Oh, I donít know, I was thinking perhaps...the Charms corridor?" Kathy glanced quickly across at Penelope. She didn't suspect a thing.
They reached the corridor and started to walk down it when they heard a door slam not far in front of them and then some talking in the classroom. "Who...?"
But Penelope recognised those voices, and she couldn't bring herself to walk any further onwards.
Oliver slammed the door behind him and said, "Look, lads, I don't want much change to the squad, we're already..."
He suddenly stopped. The ginger hair he had seen was not that of the twins, it was in fact the hair of their older brother, and Oliver's fellow seventh-year Gryffindor, Percy.
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?" They said at the same time, each looking the other up and down and waiting for some kind of explanation.
"The twins told me to meet them here for some kind of family meeting." Percy said, pushing his glasses up his nose.
"Yeah, and they told me we were going to talk about Quidditch tactics." Oliver said, perching on the nearest desk. "Looks like we were both hoodwinked."
Oliver wanted to get out of there and pummel the boys, but now that he was here with Percy and totally alone, all the things he'd been wanting to say to him about his and Penelope's relationship came to the forefront of his mind. It was too much of a perfect opportunity to squander.
"Well," Percy said, smoothing down his robes and looking down at Oliver, "I'm not going to stay here any longer. I told Penelope I might meet her later-"
"Oh yeah, that's it," Oliver said bitterly, all the hate he felt for Percy suddenly welling up inside of him and bursting out, "go off and find darling Penelope."
"I will," Percy said, a little unsettled and confused, and started walking towards the door.
"And just tell her when you see her that I hope she has a better time at the Yule Ball with than she would have had with me." He said and turned away, ready for the slamming of the door behind Percy, but it didn't come.
"What?" Percy said quietly and turned around.
"Well, we were meant to be going together, but I guess that doesn't matter to you anymore. As long as you get her, no matter whether or not it hurts me, you don't seem to care."
"I never knew about-"
"Ha!" Oliver laughed bitterly and stood up, glaring at Percy, "You didn't know about Penny and me? Everyone knew about Penelope and me! And you just couldn't handle it could you? You just couldn't face the fact that I was actually happy with a girl for once who I guess you thought was too smart, too good for me?"
"And she is!" Percy shouted back, his glasses falling down his nose.
"I love her!" Oliver shouted, his chest heaving up and down. "Does that not matter anymore?"
Percy didn't seem to hear him, or didn't seem to care. "Don't pretend you two were even together, Oliver. I know Penelope and I know that she wouldn't go for someone like you."
"Someone like me?" Oliver spat out, "What do you mean?"
"A...a..." he hissed the next few words as if they were some kind of taboo, "a Quidditch freak. And I know Penelope hates people like that, so you're obviously deluded if you think she-"
"Oh yeah, hates people like me?" He scoffed, "Well you obviously don't know her at all. Did she tell you that we played Quidditch together when no-one else was around? And did she tell you that she actually quite enjoyed it?" That was a bit of a stretch of the truth, but it was worth it to see the look on Percy's face. He obviously didn't know about this.
"Well, that still doesn't change the fact that Penelope is far better than you in terms of academia." He said haughtily.
"Is that all you care about? Academic success!" Oliver shook his head and pointed his finger at Percy, snarling, "Penelope is so much more than that! You don't see it, do you? You're just so stuck in your stupid, bloody Victorian ways to even see what's there!"
Percy was silent but stared hard at Oliver, who stood, one hand covering his eyes and the other held limply at his side.
Oliver dropped his hand and looked up, speaking thickly but calmly, "And yes, she's better than me. I've known that all along and I know that now more than ever."
He hung his head again, and sat down on one of the desks, turning his back on Percy. He stood there, looking down at Oliver and trying to take in everything that had been said.
Outside the room, Penelope crouched down low, her ear to the keyhole and her eyes streaming. He was telling the truth; Oliver was really telling the truth.
He loved her. He loved her and she loved him back.
And she was stuck with Percy bloody Weasley.
A/N: I am so sorry that it has been this long! Uni life has been crazy but it's finally the holidays, so I get to do loads of writing and updating! I promise I won't abandon you over the next month! I hope you like this chapter, it's getting close to the end now which I am unbelievably sad about. I'm going to miss all of your lovely reviews, but we still have a few chapters left, so you can leave some lovely ones still ;) ♥
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