Chapter 16 : Dumpster Dives and Dances
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Kenzie managed to make it through the date relatively unscathed, although notably not without embarrassment. She had resolved not to wear anymore short skirts or stilettos around Oliver so she wouldn’t have to worry about falling onto or exposing her arse. That’s not to say she wouldn’t go for another piggy-back ride, he did say she could have one anytime. Of course that was working under the assumption that she actually did get to hang out with him again. She wasn't sure if it was acceptable yet to owl him or if the only interaction they were allowed was the incidental run in while accompanied by mutual friends or if they were in dire need of a good listener. Maybe that was her just being overly cautious, but she didn’t want to read into how they left things. Even so, she was considerably happier than she had been with her previous situation, or at least in her situation concerning Oliver. The realm of work was another story.
Things were moving along with the project at Lazarus, but she was beginning to worry about the apparent disappearance of Decimus, and she wasn't the only one. Everyone was beginning to speculate about his whereabouts now that it was well known he’d called off another engagement. She hoped he was coping as well as he was able and consoled herself knowing he’d be happy with the progress they were making on all aspects of the project.
They were almost ready to move into the production phase now that interviews had been conducted and qualified and promising individuals selected. She and Daphne had begun to train the new recruits on the proper techniques and spells required to charm and enchant both the Seeker and Keeper brooms. She had yet to test the brooms resulting from their first efforts, but she expected production would be up and running by the end of the month. Still, there was much to be done all around.
The Beaters brooms had finally been sorted, and a model that Kenzie was extremely excited and proud of was ready to go to trials, but the trials themselves had to be organized and the invitations to players sent out. She also hadn’t even glanced at the Chaser model that was being developed, and she was pretty anxious that it wouldn’t be up to standard if she were being honest about it. That was for next week though, more immediate was her long awaited interview with Quidditch Weekly this coming Saturday.
The editors had contacted her expressing their concern and had decided it was imperative to push up the interview in hopes to stage the photo shoot before she began ‘showing her pregnancy’. She of course had scoffed at that, but didn’t argue. She figured that in a couple months if she weren’t as big as a balloon they might actually catch on. It had become too fatiguing to deny the rumor, and as it stood now Kenzie still hadn’t sorted things with her mother though she had spoken with Frederick and explained everything. It was all just too much to think about at once.
She was just trying to deal with her obligations in the order they approached, and in between find any reprieve she could. Today that meant heading to the Quidditch gym near her new flat to get some much needed exercise, and rid herself of any surplus pounds, as well as get her mind off things. She was thankful and pleasantly surprised to have discovered a good place to do so, and so close to her new home. Especially considering she was reluctant to take up her usual running regiment less she be spotted and the media begin to triangulate her new abode. She couldn’t get evicted again; secrecy was of the upmost importance now that she had a roommate.
Even though she was happy enough to change her usual workout schedule, she didn’t enjoy the looks she received from the other gym members. More often than not she found people following her around, trying their best to watch her while being not so stealthy in their efforts. You’d think they’d at least feign push-ups or something, but no, they would just stand around staring and then suddenly become very interested in the turf or the wall whenever she would glance their way. Nevertheless, she was determined to exercise, particularly bearing in mind the photo shoot she had coming up.
She was hanging upside down from her broom, using the crooks of her knees to secure herself there as she kept track of the number of sit-ups she had done in her head. She was working very hard to ignore the small crowd that had gathered to commence staring, and had just brought her head to her knees for the eighty third time when she noticed the handsome face of Oliver wood smirking down at her amused.
The shock of finding a person so close and directly in front of her after being positive there was no one there the instant beforehand, caused her to flail in such a manner that her legs no longer had hold on her broom. She unceremoniously fell head first the short way to the ground, and her position hanging upside down meant that her baggy sleeveless top was tangled about her face as she attempted to get to her feet. She fumbled around a bit, but managed to right her shirt so she wasn't just seen in her sports bra as she faced Oliver. There was a healthy blush on her face as she did and she was feeling rather clumsy.
She tried to blow a stray strand of hair out of her face unsuccessfully as she forced a strained smile onto her face. “Wothcher Oliver.” She tried to manage a dignified smile while greeting him. “What’re you doing here?”
Oliver looked to be holding back laughter, his eyes glittering as he took in her ungainly but typical behavior with a raised brow. “I’m here to train.” He leaned in patronizingly, acting as if he was about to let her in on a secret “Correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe this is a gym.”
Of course that’s why he was there! Merlin she felt like a git. “Right.” She scratched the back of her neck feeling the fool. “So…” She tried awkwardly to find words.
He helped her out. “Your interview coming up soon?” He asked curiously, still a smile on his face and outwardly enjoying her discomfort.
She narrowed her eyes a bit and looked at him suspiciously. “Yeah actually, this Saturday. How’d you know?”
He grinned impishly, “I didn’t know. I just hoped it was soon considering you look like your wasting away. Seriously though D’masi, who told you waifs were attractive?” He teased lightheartedly.
She bristled slightly at the comment, feeling her stomach drop. He didn’t find her appealing anymore? Had she lost that much weight? She frowned uneasily, “Do I really look that bad?” She shifted trying to cover herself up self-consciously.
Oliver realized his mistake quickly. “Merlin, no! That’s not at all what I meant. Godric you’d never look bad.” He fumbled around looking for the right words. “It’s just—you’re already thin. That’s not to say you don’t have nice curves. You do, just the right amount. I—oh bollocks, I’m really bungling this up aren’t I?” He asked abashed yet somehow comical.
Kenzie smiled slightly. It was nice to see he could be just as much of a prat as she could. “Yeah you kind of are.” She told him truthfully. “But I appreciate your honesty. I’ve kind of been stressing about it a lot. I don’t know why though, they’ll probably just have me in my Beauxbutons kit and all. I guess I’m just worried they’ll try to make me look like some kind of out of shape has-been.”
Oliver looked at her levelly. “They’d have to work really hard to make you look out of shape Kenz.” He deadpanned before his expression turned a bit concerned. “They’re not going to try to though…” He looked like he was considering not saying his next words but he did anyways. “When Wadcock went in for her interview, they tried to squeeze her into the tiniest get up they could find. Apparently they were quite forceful. Every time the team wants to take the piss out of her, they bring in issue with the centerfold they made her do.”
Kenzie stared at him dumbfounded, “You’re not serious are you?”
Oliver grimaced. “I’m sorry to say I am.”
Kenzie felt a bit lightheaded. She looked to Oliver with a look of dread, “What am I going to do?” When he chuckled she felt the urge to punch him, but instead she frowned at him petulantly.
“Don’t look at me like that D’masi,” He chortled at her. “There’s nothing you can do now that you’ve agreed to it. Except of course look damn good in the magazine and send me a signed copy.”
Kenzie stared at him for a moment blankly. Coming to her senses, she felt a wave of panic as she realized how ill equipped she was for this. “I need more exercise.” She said dumbly, turning to go and ready to wear herself ragged in preparation for the interview.
Oliver caught her by the wrist. “More exercise is the last thing you need.” He took her Comet from her grasp and rested it on his shoulder. “You’re coming with me.”
She shook her head, “What do you mean?” She asked. “Where are you going? Didn’t you just get here?” She objected.
Oliver shrugged, “Yeah but I can skip out on one workout. I did just come from drills. You need carbs and a pint more than I need the extra training.” He nudged her chummily.
Was he asking her out on a date or trying to fatten her up for slaughter? Either way she would take what time she could get. This was Oliver Wood after all. “Can I get a shower first? I’ve been at this for ages and I’m pretty sure I smell horrible.” She tried.
He just smirked, his eyes sparkling with enjoyment. “Oh come off it D’masi, you know I’ve got a thing for sweaty Quidditch birds.”
Kenzie smiled slightly at the familiar line and couldn’t hold back a bit of laughter. She shook her head fondly at the memory. “Just let me grab my bag then.” She turned towards the locker room and then quickly back to Oliver. “Don’t go anywhere.” She told him, seeming as if she expected him to run at the first chance he got. It was only after she uttered the words that she realized how they could come across. She frowned at herself, looking at nothing in particular as her face contorted unattractively for a moment.
Oliver noticed her weird expression and chuckled shaking his head at her in mild wonder. “I’ll just be waiting in the lobby…I’ll do my best not to try and bolt when I see you coming.” He told her with mock seriousness before smirking devilishly.
Kenzie practically swooned at his smile and stumbled over an idle Quaffle in the process of walking backwards to the locker room. She blushed furiously and ducked her head embarrassed before continuing on her way to grab her things. She wasted no time in snatching up her belongings and hurrying out of the locker room. However, she had to do a double take when she noticed several people following her on her way back to the lobby.
She intentional quickened her gait, and to her horror, so did her stalkers. Frowning she turned around and stopped in her tracks. At that moment she couldn’t help but wish for a camera. No less than twenty adult witches and wizards who had been shamelessly following her suddenly stopped their conspicuous speed walking to look around the gym and find interest in the most menial things. Several were just staring off into space while others scuffed their shoes off the turf and still others tried to act as if they had been conversing with one another the whole time. Were they actually going to follow her to the pub? Alarm built up as she realized that was probably exactly what they were going to do. They could all go to hell if they thought they were going to ruin her chance to spend time with Oliver.
Without thinking, Kenzie sprinted for the lobby hoping to catch them off guard. It only worked for a second before they were tearing after her. She should have figured they’d be quick about it, she was in a gym after all.
When Oliver saw her hurtle through the doors, his expression was beyond confused, but he still let her grab him by the hand and roughly yank him towards the door. He had a question on his lips, and thought about halting her to ask what was up, but when he glanced behind him to see the stampede battling each other to get through the door after her, he gripped her hand firmly and used his powerful legs to high tail it out of there alongside of her.
Luckily they were both in shape and relatively fast, Oliver more so than Kenzie she admitted to herself begrudgingly, because they did manage to increase the distance between themselves and the charge of their pursuers. For some reason Kenzie was concentrating ahead of her and not on Oliver who was leading the way, so she only managed to skid left into a nearby alley when she felt a tug on her arm that was hard enough to dislocate her shoulder. She stumbled slightly losing her balance as it happened, and before she had the chance to recover Oliver was hefting her like a ragdoll onto his shoulder. She squawked a bit in surprise, but she didn’t have time to object because it wasn’t long before she felt herself flying into the air and landing unceremoniously in a dumpster. Oliver vaulted in effortlessly after her closing the lid behind him.
Kenzie was too shocked and disgusted by her surroundings to really say anything, and it was a good thing because after a couple seconds she heard the sound of feet thundering past the dumpster in search of their whereabouts. Oliver gave her a sharp look indicating the need for silence, so she swallowed the shrieks she had been about to direct at him for his hasty decision about their current hiding spot.
After it seemed as if everyone was gone, and they were alone in the alley in the bin, Oliver opened the lid and looked about before hefting himself out with ease. Kenzie couldn’t say she was as graceful in her exit considering when she tried to stand she just sank right into the rubbish. She was pouting unhappily as she approached the edge, and was about to hop over the side and out when she felt two strong hands picking her up and out of the dumpster with ease.
She flushed slightly due to the fluttering of her stomach at his touch, but that quickly subsided after she remembered where she had just been. She turned on him glaring, and pounded halfheartedly on his chest. “You stupid twat! You just threw me into a bloody dumpster!” She harangued him waspishly. “You’re a wizard for Merlin’s sake, couldn’t you have just Apparated us away!”
He chortled at her feeble attempts to inflict pain and only shied away slightly. “Bloody quit it woman!” He chuckled at her stepping backward. “I was worried I’d splinch us if I tried. Throwing you into a dumpster was as good an option as any, although admittedly more appealing than some of the others.”
“Ughh!” she stamped her feet stroppily. “Merlin you’re infuriating! I had a banana peel in my hair because of you!” She shuddered in revulsion at the slimy memory.
He just smirked. “Well it must have migrated from your hair to your arse because now it’s suck to your shorts.” He laughed heartily when he saw her begin to jump around swatting the garbage off her bum. When she was done inspecting herself and had turned to glower at him, his expression turned a bit serious. “Does this happen to you often? Crowds stalking you I mean.” He clarified.
She shook her head. “No, that was a first.” She confessed with a sigh. “I mean people stare and gawk and make comments but nothing like that. I think it was because it was the both of us honestly. Apparently we’re just too appealing of a show to pass up.”
He frowned and scratched he back of his neck guiltily. “Bugger.” He cursed. “That’s a shame.” All of a sudden he was fidgeting uncomfortably and a guarded look came over his eyes. “Listen, maybe the pub was a bad idea.”
Kenzie realized what he was on about instantly and suddenly found herself furious. “Oh no you don’t Wood!” She began crossly. “Don’t you go and try to be the hero and save me from the bollocks you’ve just created. We’ve just begun talking again and I won’t have it! Ignoring me didn’t work last time and it sure as hell isn’t going to work now that they think you’ve gone and knocked me up!”
He glowered at her unhappily and rolled his eyes thinking she hadn’t properly digested what had just occurred and why. “Were you not just in a dumpster?” He questioned her sarcastically, trying to get her to see where he was coming from. “I imagine you don’t want thrown in another!” He exclaimed in exasperation. “It’s impossible for us to be normal so its probably better if I keep my distance. I should’ve known better.” He finished stubbornly.
She shook her head in disbelief. “So you’re just going to leave me to handle the stalkers by myself again then? They are stalkers Oliver, they aren’t going away.” She seethed. “Especially after we’ve gone and riled them up just now! They’ll probably stake out all the pubs in the area looking for us!” She scowled at him, angry he was going to desert her once more. “Don’t act like our situation suddenly escaped you, you know what being seen with me means! You couldn’t possibly have forgotten what happened at St. Mungo’s already. I can’t take this back and forth!” She wanted to pull her hair out. “If you inevitably keep coming to the conclusion that we can’t be friends, why can’t you just leave me be instead of going on like somehow the situation has changed, like you’re surprised when things go cockeyed! I keep getting my hopes up only to have you dash them away when you come back down to reality!”
He stiffened at her words, his expression turning dark. “You think I like how everything has turned out between us? That I keep coming back and won’t leave you alone because I want to torture you and myself? I’m not a fucking masochist Kenzie! I bloody well can’t help it!” A look of pure aggravation came over him. “It’s near impossible for me to separate what I want, from what’s best when it comes to you! And it doesn’t help that when I see you my mind goes blank and I forget about the situation. I can’t help that every bloody prat in England wants to know what new fucked up thing is going on between us, and I can’t bloody well blame them because so do I! You’re like some sort of bad drug, my will power disintegrates and it’s as if I have to talk to you.”
She wasn't buying it. She just scoffed at him, “That’s it then, is it? You broke up with me because you can’t keep a clear head, because you have this insatiable need to be around me?” She threw her hands up in the air trying to show her incredulity.
He took a step towards her clearly incensed but then turned to walk away thinking better of it. Kenzie felt a pang in her stomach staring at his back, desperately trying to find a way to get him to stay. “Coward!” She bellowed after him trying to find words, any words. “You helped create this fake baby and now you can’t even face the consequences like a man! Are you really going to let all this rubbish come between any relationship we might’ve had?” She knew she sounded like a crazy bint but at least it got him to face her.
He whirled around a look of revolted bewilderment on his features. “Consequences of a creating a fake baby?” He repeated her words with venom. “Do you even realize how stark raving mad you sound? Just look at how ridiculous this whole thing has become!” He thundered stalking back towards her. “I’m doing this for you! For both of us! I’m walking away so you don’t have to deal with even more crazy bollocks!”
Kenzie shook her head rolling her eyes. “Oh thank you so very much Saint Oliver for taking my best interest to heart! It must really be hard for you to look out for me by ignoring my feelings and what I want in spite of the ridiculousness!” She jibed him mockingly, before turning serious. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m already dealing with everyone’s crazy bollocks with or without you!” She roared hands flailing about for impact. “I’m tired of your sodding bullshit! If you cared about me at all you wouldn’t repeatedly walk away citing lame excuses and giving them more to speculate about! You really must hate me to toy with my emotions so callously! Just stop the charade alright, stop pretending you harbor any feelings for me at all!” She practically shrieked losing her wits for a moment.
“I’m not bloody pretending anything!” He snarled, similarly losing his composure and getting uncomfortably close. He took a step back quickly and began pacing as he ran a hand repeatedly through his hair. “I care about you a lot, hell I might bloody well love you!” Kenzie in-took a sharp breath but he didn’t notice. He was too busy pacing and muttering. It was as if he were trying to puzzle out what to do, as if she weren’t even there. “It’s just, ever since that red carpet I’ve felt so horrible. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for me, your life would be a lot less complicated. I’ve managed to bugger up everything for you and I don’t want to stay around and be the cause of more grief.”
She shook her head trying to deny the truth of his words, or at least let him know she didn’t care. “Things may have changed,” She whispered softly, “But it wasn’t bad. You weren’t bad.”
He didn’t seem to really be listening to her words. He was lost in thought. “Even if I put that aside, those are just my qualms, you have your own as well! I mean, what about the break down after Africa? I knew I should expect trust issues, but I told you I wasn't in it for sex and then you go and start to think it again anyways! You let yourself believe that. What else are you going to convince yourself of? How long can I try and convince you we should be together before I am only saying the words rather than meaning them and just trying to convince the both of us to stick it out. Hell I already sound like I’m trying to convince myself!” He paused in his pacing and faced her looking pained. “There are too many things working against us Kenz, too many things to overcome. As much as I care about you, we’re just going to keep sabotaging this because we’re trying to saveourselves the pain. Even just trying to remain friends is bloody exhausting.” He swallowed thickly. “I—I can’t keep doing this.” He stumbled out.
Kenzie wasn’t sure what he was trying to get at, and even though she was pretty sure she didn’t want clarification, she needed it. “So what are you trying to say?” She asked breathless and despondent. “Am I supposed to just act like I don’t know you? That I can’t be arsed about you?” She asked incredulous. “I thought we left things off amazingly after dinner the other night. What’s just happened?” She questioned in wounded disbelief.
Oliver only looked at her sadly. “Reality just happened.” He told her seeming sorely resolute. “I’m sorry Kenz. I have to go.”
Suddenly Kenzie felt like crawling back into that dumpster. She watched him go unable to believe how they had once again resolved to no longer be apart of each other’s lives. She felt like someone had just punched right through her stomach, like there was a gaping hole in her abdomen. She staggered and only just managed to catch herself on a nearby wall.
She didn’t really recall walking home, but abruptly found herself standing in front of her apartment door, just lingering on the landing. She blinked and tried to exhale a calming breath but it came out as one gigantic sob and was followed quickly by tears. She fumbled in her bag for her keys and eventually found them and began struggling with the lock. Even so, upon entering she immediately wished she stayed in the hallway as she walked into her living room to the sight of Daphne topless and astride Darren, snogging as if their life depended upon it.
The sound of the door opening did however have them moving for their clothes, though Kenzie couldn’t see it because she had immediately turned her back to them feeling scarred for life.
“Sorry!” Daphne exclaimed quickly. “I thought you’d be at the gym for at least another hour.”
Kenzie could still hear scrambling so she didn’t move though she was struggling to control her tears and could feel herself quaking.
“Almost clo—wait are you alright?” She heard Daphne coming towards her, her voice gentle. “Kenz? Are you crying?”
There was a hand on her shoulder and then Kenzie was flinging herself at her best friend, finding that she didn’t even care Daphne hadn’t managed to find her top and was only sporting bra, Darren seemed to be lacking a shirt as well. She felt terrible for having barged in on what she was sure was going to escalate quickly but she needed a hug.
Daphne wrapped her arms around her friend and soothed her back. “What’s wrong love? Tell us what happened.”
Kenzie pulled away and ran hands through her hair, plopping herself down on the couch and not caring they’d been mauling each other there only moments before. “Merlin what did happen?” She laughed bitterly. It was all one huge blur.
Daphne sat down beside her and Darren went to the kitchen and began fussing about making tea.
“Did something go on at the gym?” The brunette probed softly.
The bustling in the kitchen stopped suddenly. “Wait.” Said Darren. “You don’t go to the Quidditch one near here do you? The same one as Oliver?”
“Apparently I do.” Kenzie told them unhappily. “I thought everything was fine after he walked me home the other night!” She burst out in a pathetic sob.
Darren hurried over and offered her tea while Daphne continued rubbing comforting circles on her back. Somehow it wasn't even awkward that they were both still shirtless.
“What happened to change that?” Daphne prodded gently.
“What didn’t happen!” She cried putting her head in her hands. “One minute we’re talking and he’s asking me to the pub and then the next we’re being chased out of the gym by a sodding mob of stalkers.”
Daphne and Darren shared a look and then they were both grimacing. It was Darren who spoke next. “Did you guys manage to get away and make it to the pub?” He asked with a bit of a sarcastic grunt. He knew there was a reason she was upset.
Kenzie snorted. “Like that would ever happen! We didn’t make it to the pub but he did throw me in a dumpster.” She laughed mordantly.
Daphne’s hand on her back stopped its motion and she sat back suddenly. “A fucking dumpster?” She spat out disgustingly.
Kenzie didn’t even pay attention to her friends obvious question, she was up and pacing, trying to wrap her mind around exactly what happened, holding a hand to her forehead. “Why does he continually do this to me?” She lamented shaking her head to herself. “He wants to go to the pub and then after we’re followed, he suddenly realizes its us and we’re going to be followed, and then he has to act the bloody martyr!”
“Uhh Not following.” Interrupted Daphne a bit abruptly.
Kenzie blinked realizing she wasn’t talking to her herself. “He thinks he’s doing me a favor by staying away from me.” She explained feeling the tears well up.
“Oh.” Daphne said comprehending.
“How bloody pathetic is that?” Kenzie burst out spastically feeling enraged and starting again with the pacing. “Why does he care about what the press writes? I’m the one who has to deal with all the blowback! Not him! And its not like they’re going to stop just because he makes himself scarce! How big of a wanker do you have to be not to realize that? I can and have been dealing with it fine! He’s the one who makes it all unbearable with his self-loathing and blaming himself and leaving me alone to deal with all the shite we’ve gotten into together.” She stopped suddenly and then exploded. “And then that stupid fucker just has to go and open his mouth and make it worse! Just ughhh!”
“What’d you mean?” Darren asked apprehensively. “What’d he say?”
Kenzie finally met their eyes. “He went on a whole rant about how we would never work together and that’s reality, but only after the tosser told me not only did he like me, he might sodding love me.”
Darren and Daphne were both wide-eyed and just as shocked as she had been at the revelation. After a moment Daphne looked up. “What’re you going to do? You have to talk to him!”
Kenzie snorted and shook her head vehemently at that particularly idiotic idea. She was just about as done with this nonsense as he was. All the emotional back and forth was driving her mad, literally. Sod Oliver Wood! Suddenly she knew what she wanted to do.
A resolute, albeit slightly unhinged look came over her face. “I know what I’m going to do.” She said smiling ludicrously. “I’m going fucking dancing.” She nodded to herself and then stomped off to her room without an explanation leaving her two shirtless friends staring after her.
Darren and Daphne shared a bewildered look before Darren finally blinked and shook his head. “Wait what?” He asked the brunette. “Did she just say she’s going fucking dancing? Now?”
Daphne shrugged. “I’m still waiting on an explanation as to why he threw her in the dumpster.”
A/N So I totally forgot about the staff break thing what with finals and all. Sorry for the wait and I hope you guys enjoyed this one becuase it will probably be the last one for awhile. Leave me a review and maybe I'll get on it faster wink wink!
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