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The Art of Small Talk by patronus_charm
Chapter 5 : Quidditch Confrotations
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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Chapter 5 - Quidditch Confrontations

‘So, Audrey, would you please care to tell your bestest friends in the world what on earth is going on with you and Oliver bloody Wood? Why weren’t we informed about this earlier? I had to hear it from George who heard it through Angelina who heard it from Ginny who said she saw you two together at a restaurant last week.’

‘Verity, bestest isn’t a word.’

‘Shh, Audrey, I don’t care. It conveys my point across perfectly, so, erm, yeah. Now, stop trying to distract me, and tell me and Jemima what’s happening between you and Wood. We want the gossip. Now.’

‘Yes,’ Jemima adds on, her eyebrows rising rapidly upwards. ‘You did disappear to get some drinks for us at the party and never remerged after that. I thought you were just tired so left, but this bit of info does make it a lot more interesting.’

Both of them turn to me, heads leaning in, hands rubbing together. It’s as if they’ve planned for this to happen. If they have, it means I’m screwed with no chance of escaping their questioning.

‘Ok, but keep your voices down, we are in a public place.’

A quick glance around the interior of the Crescent Moon reveals that my fears aren’t really necessary. The café’s pretty much empty on this Wednesday morning with the only other occupants being a mother and toddler, and a waitress who’s waving her wand around, unstacking the chairs piled up by the window ready for the day. I suppose that’s what you get when you decide to meet up at eight in the morning before heading off to work.

Both comply with my orders with a quick nod of their heads, so I give a little cough to show I’m going to comply with their own.

‘Well, we started talking once we went to get you all your drinks, and it was going really well. Then Oliver said the party was a little boring and that there was a pub nearby which was much livelier and did I want to go to it. Of course I wasn’t going to refuse him! I mean, who would?’ The two give eager nods which gives me some sort of courage for the next bit. ‘So we went there and, as usual, I drank too much, so I can’t remember much else of that night other than bad dancing with Oliver. In the morning, though, I woke up to find myself in his bed.’

‘You didn’t?’ Jemima gasps, her hand shooting up to her mouth. Ha, like she can criticise me for sleeping around (even though I haven’t). If I went and told her mother all what Jemima’s been up to, it will be a wonder if she ever recovers.

‘I didn’t.’ Both of their faces suddenly drop as the story loses its excitement. ‘We just slept in the same bed, nothing else. Then Oliver said he really enjoyed it and did I fancy meeting up for lunch as he really liked me and I agreed. He even picked me up from work for it. Then we went to the Ivory Cauldron for lunch and bumped into Ginny and Harry while we were there and that was about it.’

‘So he just left you, with no plans for a future meet up?’ Verity inquires, eyes beady, hands clasped together. I can almost hear the mechanics of her brain ticking away, rearranging her plans for my love life. I guess if she started trying to force Oliver and I together I wouldn't complain too much.

‘Well, he did refer to it as a date and said he would like to do it again.’

‘Has he owled you at all?’ Jemima asks, the expert on dating etiquette.

‘Yes, this morning just asking how I was.’

My response triggers squealing from the girls, and they wave their arms around in excitement.

‘This is an amazing sign,’ Jemima yells, arms practically flapping around as if she’s a bird in flight. ‘This means that something serious is going on, and that he is actually interested in you.’

‘What’s with the tone of surprise though?’ I smirk at her.

‘Nothing, just the fact you managed to snag Oliver bloody Wood the it Quidditch player of the moment.’

Verity looks down at the table, her eyes not looking too happy. She gives a little cough before speaking.

‘Well, you could have warned me of this beforehand. There I was implementing the strategy of making you look good in front of Percy. I spent ages talking to George about you being a fan of equality because he is too but I could have concentrated my efforts on something more appropriate for Oliver instead.’

Jemima gives her a scathing look. ‘Verity, you can’t always take control of people’s love lives, sometimes they have to go with the flow and things.’

Verity’s about to say something, I can sense her body tensing up beside me, when I remember a sort of important event. Well, I remembered it before but anything to quell an argument between Verity and Jemima is needed now. ‘Yes, that reminds me. When I was visiting Dad at the Ministry last week I bumped into Percy. He was trying to warn me off Oliver, saying he wasn’t all that he seems but of course I told him where to shove his advice.’

‘Ooh, I wonder what he means by that,’ Jemima pipes up excitedly. She always is gossip hungry, especially when it comes to men. ‘Maybe he’s doing something illegal like dealing drugs? Or maybe Percy just said it so he can have you for himself?’

‘I somehow doubt that either of those theories are true,’ I reply. ‘Anyhow let’s talk about something else.’ I pause trying to think of something to alter the conversation when an idea hits me. ‘Verity, you wouldn’t mind helping me out with a friend, would you?’

Her eyes light up and her body arches upwards; she can sense my plan already. ‘What would I be helping your friend with?’

‘Well, he’s not in the best state right now. He hasn’t got all that many friends and he's not very happy, so I thought perhaps you could set him up with someone, see what happens.’ I give her a small wink and Verity lets out a giggle.

‘Sounds easy enough.’ She shrugs her shoulders, before narrowing her eyes. ‘You would have to tell me who he is and what he's like, so I can find someone suitable.’

Now, here comes the hard part. Explaining why she should help a former Death Eater. I mean, everyone leaps up and wants to help out straight away when they hear that…

‘His name’s Draco Malfoy,’ I mumble out, hoping the quiet voice will lessen the impact.

‘Who? I couldn’t hear.’

‘Draco Malfoy,’ I say, maybe if I get this over quickly it will be better. Like ripping a plaster off my skin really. Though the analogy isn’t really great because Draco will still be a former Death Eater no matter how fast I say it.

‘You want me to help a former Death Eater!’ Verity exclaims, knocking over her mug of tea in the process. Jemima and I lean back to avoid the splatters, and fortunately most of them land on the floor, soon forgotten as Verity’s voice rises higher and higher. ‘Are you out of your mind?’

‘Yes and no in response to your questions.’ Now, this is where my small height can be an advantage, I can play the small sad child. Well, sort of, apparently I look like a bit demented, but it will work. Hopefully.

‘Look, he really has changed. Do you think I would be asking you if I thought he was still going around killing people? He’s a really nice person, just lonely, and I want to help him. He needs me to help him. Please, Verity.’

Jemima nods in agreement (I'm trying to ignore the thoughts in my head saying perhaps she understands he suffered a lot too, and needs help as much as the rest of us). ‘I did hear from Oscar Greengrass that he is a rather charming fellow, actually.'

Verity's lips purse together, so tight it doesn't look as if an outcome will ever be heard from her. A minute later, a response is given.

‘Fine, I'll have to meet him first and decide for myself whether he has actually changed before arranging anything.’

‘Thanks Verity, you’re the best!’ I wrap my arm around her in a sort of hug and I see a smile appear on her face.

‘I know I am, and this means that you know owe me something, Audrey. Don’t forget that!’

*

I slide into work at twelve o’clock, feeling paranoid that I’m going to get into trouble for being three hours late despite taking the morning off. Hurrying down the corridor, I don’t spot a single person, and it’s only when I walk round the corner, nearing my room that I see Draco heading towards it too. I hope he realised that I wasn’t going to be here this morning.

‘Hi Draco, how are you?’

‘Very good, Potioneer Tinley.’

‘Draco, how many times have I told you not to call me that? I feel as if I’m a forty year old when you say that. Just call me Audrey.’

‘Sorry, er, Audrey, I’ll try and remember in the future.’

He holds the door open to my room for me, and I slip in, dumping my bag in the corner before wandering over to my desk. I still haven’t forgotten about my plans for ridding his mark. If only I knew what was used to brand it, it will make my life much easier. I just have to act on instinct which often isn’t the safest option around.

‘How was Potions school this morning? Are they still holding a vendetta against you?’ I try and say it in a jokey way to lighten the situation, but whenever I attempt to do that it never really seems to translate very well into humour, so fingers crossed for this attempt.

‘Not a verbal vendetta today,’ he says slowly. ‘They refuse to sit next to me, but that’s expected really. I don’t mind, it means I can get on with my work and not have to waste any time bothering to chat to people.’

I highly doubt that’s true. Well, it’s not true for me. I remember on my first day I was so petrified that no one would sit next to me that I deliberately turned up late so that wouldn’t happen. Oh the things I do…

‘Well, don’t worry about them. I hope you don’t mind this, but I told my friends about you. They seemed really interested in you and want to meet you.’

Ok I may have twisted the truth a little here, but no one needs to know that.

‘Really? Why would they want to meet someone like me?’ he spat out. He obviously isn’t fine with the whole situation at Potions school if he replies like that. Or maybe he just needs anger management classes.

‘Usually, you’re a rather nice person but when you grump around like that I can see why you would need to ask the question them wanting to see you.’

‘Sorry. It just hasn’t been a good day.’ Draco raises his head and smiles at me. ‘I think I would like to meet them, it would be nice.’

‘Good, that’s settled then. Now we’re going to go through the processes of making a Blood-Replenishing Potion. As a Potioneer in a hospital, I often make these if another potion isn’t needed right now. They’re able to be used up to three months after production making them ideal for their situation as they're often needed straight away. Do you have any experience with the potion?’

‘No, I’ve studied the theory behind it but nothing else.’

‘Don’t worry, it’s rather easy to grasp,’ I assure him and move over to my pewter cauldron, hoping it’s not too dirty. ‘You just need to make sure the electrical charges are the same and don’t forget to balance out the acids and alkalis. Now, as crocodile toes are an alkaline we need to choose something acidic to make sure that the potion remains neutral. If it doesn’t, the blood isn’t a neutral pH which isn’t great. Do you see?’

I turn to see Draco making copious amounts of notes, ink spluttering up at his face and the parchment already half used up. It’s rather cute seeing Potions students hard at work; they’re all so eager and wanting to please. Then again, that was me a mere two years ago, so I shouldn’t be getting all nostalgic already.

‘Yes, thanks, Audrey.’

He remembered to call me Audrey. I smile at him before wandering over to my shelves and pulling out the next ingredient I need. I never thought I would enjoy this mentoring lark, but it’s surprisingly fun.

*

The rest of the week passes quickly and before I know it, it’s Saturday aka the day of the second date. Well, technically it’s not really a date as I’m just going to watch him play Quidditch against the Holyhead Harpies, but you get the gist of it.

Jemima came round yesterday to advise me on what to wear which was a major help. I mean, how does one look remotely attractive despite being bundled under numerous layers of material to protect oneself from frostbite/pneumonia and all manner of other illnesses?

Now, I’m in a stand with George Weasley and his girlfriend, Angelina Johnson, beside him. They look so couplely – holding hands, occasionally whispering to one another then laughing and then just the looks they give one another. Am I meant to be doing that with Oliver? I doubt it, we’ve known each for a week minusing the time at Hogwarts so it’s perfectly reasonable to just smile and wave.

Ok. I will attempt to be social and strike up a conversation (don’t get too excited, it is known to happen occasionally. What isn’t known to happen occasionally is me striking up conversation and being successful).

‘So, George, do you come and see Oliver play a lot then?’

He breaks away from Angelina and smiles at me. ‘Now and then. He always gives away tickets to the old team, though Perce thinks I shouldn’t accept them on principle. But who on earth would say no to free Quidditch tickets? Plus, I’m still friends with Oliver even if they have their differences.’

So someone else mentions a possible rift between the two (conspiracy theories come running at me right now). I can’t help but wonder what it could be given it angers Percy enough to try and influence his brother over coming to Quidditch matches.

‘Tinley, I never expected to see you up here,’ a voice cries from behind and I want to run on hearing it. ‘Whatever will happen next? You’ll be announcing that you’re dating Oliver Wood.’

I turn to face Penelope Clearwater, and all the courage I managed to muster swiftly disappears once I catch sight of her. Her brown curls are framed with the Puddlemere navy blue of her hat and scarf and when I take a closer look even her eye shadow is in that shade too. What on earth is she doing here? And who invited her to this stand?

‘I never had you pegged as Quidditch fan, Clearwater.’

‘Well, I’m not necessarily here for the Quidditch… What are you doing here? Did you break in because if you haven’t I cannot conceive how else you ended up here.’

She has the audacity to smile at me before shaking back her head so her brown curls tumble free from her hat and down her back. So she is possibly after Oliver then. The first move of war has been drawn. Now, I have to get my war paint on and battle with her.

I let out a high-pitched giggle (see, I can be a girly girl at times) before smirking at her (thank you Draco!).

‘No, I would never resort to illegal things. You must be speaking from personal experience as you’re so knowledgeable on this matter. I was invited here on personal invitation from Oliver Wood.’

‘Really.’ She arches her eyebrows, her face taught. ‘What a lovely little story you’ve created, Tinley. Oh how I do admire your creativity at times. It’s wonderful to see those young at heart.’

She glares at me before turning on her heels and marching up to tier of seats three rows back. Phew, thank Merlin I don’t have to deal with her anymore (and Oliver didn’t invite her to sit in the stand). I turn back round to face George and Angelina and see them smiling at me. Oh. I may have forgotten about them being here when talking to her.

‘Talking to Penelope Clearwater is never a pleasant experience, is it?’ George asks.

‘No, I’m afraid she isn’t. I didn’t realise that you knew her.’

‘Sometimes I wish I didn’t. She dated Percy for about a year in Hogwarts, and it was getting serious so I knew her from that. Then she went and cheated on him and made me actually feel sorry for Percy. No wonder he got so interested in cauldron bottom thickness! He obviously needed to be distracted and all I did was take the piss out of him for it. I feel rather bad about it now.’

‘Was that the report on standardising the size of cauldron bottoms?’ I ask, my interest caught.

‘Yes. Don’t tell me you actually read it?’

I can feel blood seep to my cheeks, and I avert his gaze. Well, the positive thing about that this is that I know blood is flowing round my body because before that it was questionable.

George and Angelina give me a slow nod to pretend that they were listening to me. They needn’t bother, I’m rather used to people tuning out when I start talking about Potions. I mean, Snape did put a bit of dampener on it at Hogwarts, but if you did show him you actually liked the subject he could be rather nice.

I turn my eyes to the pitch, having not really paid much attention for the duration of the match, and watch the dark green of the Holyhead Harpies whack a big round ball (a Bludger I think it’s called) at a navy blue Puddlemere who manages to swerve out of the way just in time. The large red ball is being tossed to and fro between the players, slowly making its way to the end opposite to Oliver. It’s thrown through the hoops and a loud cheer emerges. I know I should be cheering too, but when you don’t really understand the game itself it’s rather hard to get into it.

Angelina lets out a small whoop beside me, but George reminds passive. He catches me looking at him before speaking. ‘I always have to remain like this when Puddlemere are playing the Harpies. If I cheer for one and not the other either Ginny or Oliver will have a go at me, so staying quiet is the best for me.’

The commentating suddenly soars through the noise of the crowd, as something supposedly dramatic is about to occur (don’t ask, I don’t have a clue what). ‘And Britton has seen the Snitch, Puddlemere’s Seeker has seen the Snitch. Nice swerve though, avoiding the well hit Bludger. Ooh, and Harpy Seeker, Brooke, has also seen the Snitch. It’s a fierce battle between the two, and ooh, ooh, and yes! Britton has caught the Snitch. Puddlemere United win the match 300-160.’

The crowds manage to regain the title of being the loudest around, and I feel as if my eardrums are going to explode from the impact of it. Understanding that this is a good thing for Oliver, I join Angelina in standing and cheering on Puddlemere as they do their lap of honour while George manages to remain passive despite the chaos occurring around. I can just spot his sister, Ginny, out of the corner of my eye flying down to the ground not looking all that happy.

Oliver flies towards our box, grinning madly, arms waving. I would have warned him about the dangers of flying free handed, and the amount of potions needed for re-growing bones I’ve had to make because of it, but it would have ruined the moment. Lecturing can come later.

As he approaches the box he does yet another reckless thing, jumping off his broomstick and into the box (seriously, flying is dangerous enough and as he came out of the match alive he now has to do this?). He slowly approaches me, face grinning, arms out and I can sort of guess what may happen. Though I doubt it. We’ve known and sort of dated one another for a week so why would it?

Oliver envelopes me in a hug, and I can’t help but return it. I re-position my face so I’m looking at him and that’s when it happens. His lips press against mine, and I’m about to return it when a flash of white burns into the sockets of my eyes.
Author's Note: So yay chapter 5 is now up and I hope you liked it! Hmm, who do you think Jemima may set up Draco with, and what do you make of him towards the end? I hope the Quidditch match was fine, I don't particularly like writing them, hence the focus at the end :P Anyhow, thank you for reading and if you have some time I would love it if you left a review, even if it's only a line! ♥


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