Author's Note: Wow, I definitely wasn't expecting this chapter to get written so quickly. First off, I'd like to thank all of you for continuing to read and review. I love reading your comments, they make me laugh so hard!! Second, I'd like to apologize for the less-funny nature of this chapter. It's more of a dramatic one, I suppose but hopefully, the humor will return in the next chapter!! Oh, and I wasn't kidding about the probable slowness of my updates. This just happens to be an aberration, and I wouldn't expect another chapter out before next weekend at the earliest. But who knows, I say that a lot, and I'm mostly wrong!! Anyways, here's some lovely Quidditch, an Oliver/Kenna deep discussion, and just the merest HINT of the grandmaster Ollie/Al/Angie plan. Read and enjoy, not to mention review!!!
I haven’t spoken to Oliver outside of Quidditch practice or lessons in two weeks now. In fact, I haven’t really seen him all that much since his disastrous attempt to seduce me or whatever. I guess I have to accept the fact that he’s moved on, and be glad about it. But part of me keeps thinking that he didn’t decide to move on until after he’d gotten what he so obviously wanted all along, and it makes me furious. If I were speaking to him, I would definitely be yelling at him, but since I’m not, it really does present a dilemma.
I feel like such a girl, though. I mean, how rational is it for me to be pissed at Oliver because he seems to be doing as I asked and leaving me the hell alone? Then again, rationality has never really been my strong point. But still. I’ve been on Wood’s case for over a month to just get over his little obsession and let me be, and when he finally does, I’m miffed about it??
In his defense, today’s the first Quidditch match of the season, and I suppose he’s too busy with his captaining to bother screwing around with his Seeker, who should by all rights be freaking concentrating on the match instead of worrying about a sarcastic, entirely too good-looking arse.
I can’t believe that I just defended Oliver. The world must be coming to an end.
Alright. Now I know the world is ending.
How do I know this? Oh, it’s simple. Percy Weasley just spoke to me. I thought he’d gotten the message after the last two weeks. You know, the whole “Come near me and I’ll hex your face on backwards.” vibe I’ve been shooting for since he threatened to take points away from Oliver and I. Now that I think about it, Percy would probably look better if his face was on backwards.
But that’s not the point. I could handle him making numerous bets about me. I could handle him telling me to work on my Seeking skills (mostly because I had the upper hand). And I could handle him just being a snotty prat, because Percy doesn’t know any better. But this? This takes the cake.
“Kenna.” At breakfast this morning, I was concentrating on getting food in my stomach and not throwing it all up again. The first match of the year was always murder for me, and it hadn’t helped that I’d lost us the Quidditch Cup last year. So I suppose I was being a bit less sociable than is my wont. Angelina, Alicia, and Katie, who had all dealt with my craziness for seven years running, not to mention Fred and George, were unfazed. Oliver hadn’t appeared yet. Riley had actually foregone sitting with Brennan to come be my personal cheerleader, but I was trying to ignore her. The Gryffindors, being a truly supportive lot, were talking in great buzzes around us, all wearing scarlet and gold and holding banners and flags, but they left us mostly alone. Today, we were the untouchables, and they respected that.
Except for Percy. I turned around to see him glaring at me in a way which would be considered sheepish for anyone else. I glared right back at him. “What do you want, Weasley?” I asked coldly.
To my great surprise, Percy flushed and began clearing his throat. “Erm...well.” he started, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. “I just wanted to....apologize...for my behavior this term. I was out of line, and...good luck today.”
I just sat there, dumbfounded, as Percy walked off, speaking sharply to a couple of third years for being too ‘rambunctious.’
“Did that really just happen?” I asked Riley, who was sitting to my left. She nodded, looking like her happy, cheerful self.
“I always told you that Percy wasn’t as big of a git as you thought he was.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I responded absently as I returned to picking at my food. I caught a glimpse of Oliver heading down the staircase out of the corner of my eye, and in spite of myself, my body tensed. I found myself swivelling in my seat in order to keep an eye on him. To my great surprise, I saw him voluntarily approach Percy. Now, maybe I’m just crazy, but the last I heard, Oliver and Percy got on about as well as I did with Paul. So I was understandably concerned that Ollie was approaching his arch-nemesis. Actually, I thought he might be suffering from a brain tumor or something.
Apparently not. The moment he spotted Wood, Percy tried to sneak off. When it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen, Percy shrunk visibly. Oliver got in his face a bit, looking murderously angry. Percy looked terrified. And part of me knew immediately that whatever had caused Percy to apologize, it was most definitely Wood’s doing. I would have thanked him, except, you know, I’m not speaking to him at the moment, and he’s pretending not to notice. If he had just done what I bloody asked and sodding left me alone from the beginning of the year, I’d be able to concentrate on Quidditch right now instead of being such a bleeding girl and wondering why Ollie doesn’t fancy me any longer.
Men. I have come to the conclusion that they are the root of all evil.
Okay, that bloody tears it. Today was perhaps the worst day of my life, including that time I went into one of Filch’s cupboards to get detention supplies (of course, it was Oliver’s fault, naturally. He tried to tell me that riding a broomstick isn’t difficult while PMSing. Hmph. I’d like to see him try.) and my eyes were assaulted by the lovely image of Alicia and Roger Davies shagging shamelessly against a wall.
Yes. I was traumatized, probably for life.
But today was worse. No, really it was.
After I pushed my food around on my plate for another fifteen minutes, Oliver shouted at us to get a move on. As one, the entire team made its way down to the Quidditch Pitch. I’ve always wondered if the rest of them feel quite so nervous before the first match, but I don’t ever want to ask. If Oliver knew, he’d either ridicule me to no end, or he’d find some other way to make my life miserable. And trust me, I’m miserable enough without him adding some extra torment. So, as is my way, I was rather silent on the walk down to the stadium. Fred and George were holding hands with Angelina and Alicia, and the four of them were bickering good-naturedly. Katie and Oliver were talking quietly, and if Riley hadn’t been there, I probably would have felt left out. But she was there, and she did her best to make me feel cheerful. She told me that she’d convinced Brennan to wear Gryffindor colors to the match, and I wondered why I should care. When we reached the locker rooms, she waved goodbye to the whole team and went to go find a seat in the stands.
“Okay, everyone.” Oliver’s voice boomed inside the tiny little locker room. As the rest of us pulled on our Quidditch robes, he started giving us his typical lecture. “It’s finally here. Now, I know I don’t have to tell you how important this match is--“
“But hey, you’ll tell us anyways, right?” Fred muttered darkly. His twin snorted, and received an elbow in the ribs from Alicia, who was valiantly trying not to laugh. Oliver ignored us all.
“We have to win.” Oliver said seriously. “Fred, George, you two are the only ones who’ll be left next year. Gryffindor hasn’t won the Cup since Charlie’s first year.” Charlie, of course, was another of the twins’ brothers. He was an outstanding Seeker and Captain, and more than a bit of a legend among Hogwarts students. If he’d wanted, he could have played for England, but supposedly he’s studying dragons or something. “You two’ll have another chance at the Cup. Hell, I suppose one of you will be made Captain next year.” Everyone shared a look of horror at this. “But the point is, the rest of us, it’s our last year. We should have won last year. We were the better team. And by Merlin, we will win this year. It’s time to give Gryffindor back the Cup.” Normally, he’d have finished there, but I guess today was just too important, so he felt the need to go on. “Not to mention there will be more than one professional scout here today, and it’s important that we Gryffindors make a good impression.”
No one wanted to mention that Wood was the only one on the team with dreams of playing professionally.
After several more long, boring minutes of Oliver’s speech, Madame Hooch’s voice came through the door. “Gryffindors! Time to begin!” We all filed out methodically. Oliver pulled me aside for a moment.
“Hey.” he said quietly. “You going to be okay?”
I stared at him strangely. Did he know how nervous I was?? “Why shouldn’t I be okay?” I scoffed. He took my hand, and I didn’t even think to pull away.
“No reason.” Ollie admitted. “But I know you, and I know that you’re thinking of last season.” Great. Thanks for reminding me, Captain. “You’re a good flier, Kenna. Those two matches were just flukes. And the Slytherins deliberately knocked you off your broom. It’s not your fault Madame Hooch didn’t call a time out. If she had, they wouldn’t have caught the Snitch, now would they?”
I have come to the decision that I hate it when Oliver is nice to me, if only because it actually makes me feel better. “No. They wouldn’t have. Thanks, Captain.” I smiled at him with what passed for gratitude. He gave my hand a quick squeeze before shoving me out the door.
“No problem.” I swear I heard him chuckling.
As the last two players (namely, the two of us) finally came onto the field, Madame Hooch nodded. “Captains? Are you ready?” Oliver and the Hufflepuff Captain, namely Cedric Diggory, both nodded. “Alright then. Captains, shake hands.” The boys both did as asked. “Players, mount your brooms.” When all of us had complied, she blew her whistle once sharply, and the balls flew out of their box. The game had officially begun.
Like a shot, I was off in the air, circling the pitch for any hint of the sparkly gold ball that was my domain. I barely even noticed the highly amusing commentary Lee Jordan was giving.
“And they’re off.” he was saying into his magically enhanced microphone. “The speculation on this match is outrageous. As we all know, Gryffindor’s superb Seeker, Kenna Appleby –you might know her better as that blazing fast blur near the top of the Pitch— has had a run of very bad luck since the last season. First she was deliberately thrown off her broom by those sodding bas—“
“JORDAN!” McGonagall’s voice erupted.
“Sorry, Professor.” Lee apologized. “Right, so she was forced to the ground from a height of fifty feet by the unscrupulous Slytherins. And then she again fell when the Ravenclaw Seeker accidentally ran into her. So today’s match should be highly interesting. And there’s Johnson with the Quaffle! Merlin, look at the pins on that girl!”
“Jordan! The game!”
“Oh, right. Gryffindor in possession of the Quaffle. Johnson passes to Bell, who looks to be in fine form this morning. Smith of Hufflepuff attempts an interception, but—oh, wait! Bell has passed to Spinnet, Spinnet back to Johnson, who’s now approaching the opposing Keeper. Michaels makes his block and—GRYFFINDOR SCORES! 10-0, in favor of the mighty lions! Keep it up, Gryffies!”
The pitch was a blur around me. Cedric and I were both searching diligently for the Snitch, but it was nowhere to be found.
“And is that—bloody hell, Dobbs and Lewis of Hufflepuff have sent both Bludgers careening for the Gryffindor Seeker! Oi, Kenna, look out!” I’m lucky I heard the warning, or rather, that Fred and George did. I barely missed being smashed in the face by the angry balls. I resolved to pay more attention to the game around me.
Almost an hour into the match, the score was overwhelmingly in favor of Gryffindor. There had been a few short glimpses of gold, but nothing too serious, and none of them long enough to make a move to catch the Snitch. The Chasers were playing an outstanding game, and Oliver, though he was doing particularly well, looked quite frustrated. Yes, Gryffindor was up 130-80, but I guess he thought he should be letting fewer Quaffles in, what with the team scouts there. All we needed was to keep the score at that level, and even if Diggory caught the Snitch (and there was no sodding way in hell that I’d let him), we’d still win the match.
“Weasley and Weasley of Gryffindor lob the Bludger at the Hufflepuff team Captain. It seems those Gryffindors are going to do anything to win this match.”
Lee could bet his arse we would. There was no way in hell that I’d let the Snitch elude me for three matches in a row. I wanted to keep my position on the team, and I couldn’t realistically do so if I didn’t get the Snitch today.
“Nice pass by Johnson, who heads towards the Hufflepuff goal. Spinnet takes position, and prepares to receive the Quaffle, and it’s intercepted by Smith of Hufflepuff, who tosses it to his team mate, Samuel Becker. Becker heads off in the direction of the Gryffindor Keeper. Wood looks particularly determined today, ladies and gentleman. He’s not just playing around at this. Bell tries to intercept, but Becker drops the ball down to Smith, waiting below. Smith lines up, he shoots, he—dammit, Wood, block the bloody rings!” Lee started yelling his head off. McGonagall began chastising him again. “Oh, right. Hufflepuff scores. 130-90, with Gryffindor still in the lead. There’s still no sign of the Golden—no, wait. Fans, it appears Cedric Diggory has spotted the Snitch!”
Sodding hell. Diggory was clear on the other side of the field. I didn’t have any time to lose. I sped off in his direction, praying that my Nimbus wouldn’t fail me. And then I saw it. The Snitch was floating directly above Katie’s head. “And Appleby is giving chase! The two Seekers are neck-and-neck, and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll reach the ball first. It looks like Diggory will—no, wait, it’s changed directions. And the Seekers are off!”
The rest of the game play faded into the background. There was only me, Cedric, and the Snitch we were both bound and determined to catch. I dimly heard Lee announcing several more scores by both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, but I wouldn’t be able to say who was in the lead. My team mates had ceased to matter, except for Fred and George. As long as they kept the Bludgers away, I was in business.
The crowds were roaring dully. I could barely hear any of it. The Snitch was giving us a really good chase. Every few minutes or so, it would change directions, and there were a few moments I was legitimately afraid Cedric was going to get there first.
“And Oliver Wood of Gryffindor beats the Quaffle out of the range of the goal hoop with the tail of his broom. The score still stands at—“
And then I saw it. It was glittering just out of my reach. Cedric must have seen the look on my face, because he sped up. I reached out, hanging precariously off the end of my broomstick. Almost there, almost there. Just a few more inches, and I would have it. I was going to fall off my Nimbus any second, but as long as I still had the Snitch, I’d be okay with a few broken bones.
And then the miracle happened. I felt my numb fingers close around the Snitch just seconds before Cedric got there.
“AND GRYFFINDOR WINS THE MATCH!” Lee exclaimed loudly. “Final score, Gryffindor 340, Hufflepuff 150. I’ll just bet that Appleby is feeling mighty joyous right now, folks.”
And I was. I flew down towards my team mates, hugging each of the girls in turn. “You were all amazing.” I said honestly, then turned to punch Fred and George in the arm. “Thanks for having my back, boys.”
“Hey, we’re men, not boys.” George huffed. Fred pretended to preen. We were all laughing as we made our way back to the lockers to change.
Everyone except Oliver, that is. He was uncharacteristically silent as we all pulled our clothes from the lockers and headed to the showers. I tried to congratulate him, but he just shrugged me off. Feeling miffed, I entered the shower with the other girls, and we spent the next fifteen minutes luxuriating in the feel of being clean again. Being able to wash off all the dirt, grime, and sweat after a Quidditch match was something we would never forget to be grateful for.
“So what’s up with Wood?” Alicia asked as she towelled off.
“Don’t know.” Katie replied. “He must just be peeved that he let Hufflepuff score on him.”
“Oh, come on, he had to know it would happen.” I retorted crossly. “Granted, they can’t hold a candle to any of you,” All of my friends smiled at this. “but they’ve got some pretty damn good Chasers on the Hufflepuff side. There’s no way he could have kept them all from going in.”
“True.” Angelina pondered as she began pulling her pants on. “But I think he’s just peeved that he let in so many.”
“From what I saw, he blocked a hell of a lot more.” I pointed out.
“Yeah, but Oliver won’t see it that way.” Katie decided. I shrugged, knowing there was no way I could disagree. As soon as we were all dressed, we headed back out to the locker room for Oliver’s traditional end of the match pep talk.
“Right.” he cleared his throat as soon as everyone was there. “Erm...good job, you lot. See you at practice on Monday.” He started to walk back to his locker, and we all stared at him in shock.
“Wait.” I said, highly confused. “That’s it? You’re done already?”
“It would appear so.” Oliver retorted. We all exchanged high fives. Oliver looked highly unamused. While we did our little happy dance, he shoved his robes back into their proper place in that hell-hole he calls a locker. “Right. So. You’re all free to go.”
He didn’t need to tell us twice. Katie stopped for a moment to look oddly at Oliver. “You need me to help?” she asked randomly. Oliver shook his head.
“No, I’ve got a plan covered.” he responded. I had no idea what the exchange was about, and frankly, I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to know. I was half way out the door before he stopped me.
“Kenna.” he said softly, stepping in front of me so I couldn’t just keep on walking. “I need you to stay behind for a minute. We’ve got some things to discuss.” This is where the worst day of my life part comes into action.
I didn’t like the way he wasn’t looking me in the eye, so I was immediately on guard. “Sure.” I said warily, going to sit down on one of the benches.
Oliver looked out the door to make sure everyone else was gone. When he was finally satisfied, he shut it with a click, then began to stalk over to me. I regarded him suspiciously. If he was going to try and ravish me again, we were going to have a serious problem.
I don’t know if I was more shocked or disappointed that he didn’t try to ravish me. Hell, he didn’t even touch me. He made sure there was a space of three feet between us when he sat down next to me. Naturally, I was offended. “Look, if this is about me not catching the Snitch earlier than I did, I did the best I—“ I started. Oliver cut me off with an impatient wave of his hand.
“No. It’s not about you.” he interrupted. “You played great, that’s not the problem. The problem is...the problem is...” He seemed unable to finish his sentence.
“The problem is what, Oliver?” I asked with what I considered heroic patience. I was startled when his dark amber eyes swung around to meet mine head on. I couldn’t even describe the look they held, it was so unusual for him.
“The problem is...” he began before turning away from me once more. “The problem is me.”
“I don’t understand.” Gee, and that couldn’t be any more obvious, Kenna!
“I lost my focus, Kenna.” Oliver admitted, standing up to pace around the tiny locker room. It made me feel more than vaguely uncomfortable. After all, Ollie took up most of the space, and when he was pacing, there was even less room to breathe than normal. “I can’t concentrate on the bloody game, and I let most of those goals in because I wasn’t paying hard enough attention.”
“I still don’t see why this involves me.” I started. “But I’d like to interrupt. We won the game, Oliver. By nearly two hundred points, I might add.”
“And we would have won by more if I hadn’t let so many bloody goals in.” he muttered angrily. I stood up to stalk after him.
“Oh, please. Don’t try and blame yourself. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’re an outstanding Keeper. Granted, I wasn’t giving your performance my highest level of attention, seeing as I was a bit busy trying to catch the Snitch, but it seems to me that you let in less than a third of the shots they attempted. That’s pretty damn good, and don’t you deny it.”
“Pretty damn good isn’t enough for me, Kenna.” he grumbled. “Damn it, there were scouts out there today, and I definitely wasn’t playing my best. Because I was distracted. With all the talent out there today, I can’t afford to be just another ‘pretty damn good’ Keeper. I have to be bloody perfection. And I wasn’t today.” It was rare for Oliver to sound so bitter. And his obvious frustration tugged at some small part of me, the part that was willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, a little bit of me still felt something for him. I would never tell him so out loud, but the part of me that was still his friend hurt when he so obviously doubted himself and his abilities. It’s difficult being around cocky people like Oliver, because once they accept that they didn’t do something perfectly, it digs at them and cuts at them until they don’t have anything left.
“Oliver...” I reached out to touch his arm, but he stepped out of my grasp. And my patience and understanding quickly came to an end. “Just what does this have to do with me??”
“You’re the bloody reason I’m so distracted all the time.” Oliver announced angrily, shoving a hand through his dark, windswept hair. His eyes locked on mine, and I felt a chill in the air.
“No I’m not.” I whispered, but neither one of us believed it.
“Aye, you are.” he confirmed, stepping towards me once more. “I can’t get you out of my mind, Kenna, and there’s not room for me to think of Quidditch as well.”
“Well, what do you expect me to do about it?” I asked sarcastically. He frowned and reached out to tug on my hair, but stopped himself before he actually touched it.
“I expect you to tell me once and for all,” he entreated quietly. “whether or not you’re willing to give me a chance.”
I stared at him. “Ollie...” I hesitated, reaching out to touch him once more. This time he didn’t move away, but let me embrace him. With my head nestled up against his chest, I almost believed that something could work out between us. I almost believed that he had changed, or that maybe I’d just been wrong from the beginning. But it wasn’t enough. “I...I want to.” I admitted.
“Then why don’t you?” he murmured.
“I...I want to believe that you’re sincere.” I whispered, looking up at him. “But I just...part of me...I can’t let it go, Oliver. I want to, but...”
He stepped away from me, and I felt suddenly alone. “You don’t trust me.” he said dully, not looking at me.
“No, I think I do.” I avowed. “I’m just...”
“Afraid.” he finished for me. I didn’t answer. “I understand.”
“Yeah.” He shrugged slightly before his eyes connected with mine once more. “But Kenna...I can’t do this anymore.”
“Do what?” I asked, though part of me already knew the answer.
“I can’t keep chasing after you if you’re not willing to give us a try. I can’t, and I won’t.” Oliver sounded completely and utterly serious, and part of me wanted to go off and cry without knowing why. “So if you’re not going to try, I won’t either. I think we’re better off just staying friends.”
“Oh.” I know my voice sounded small, and I turned away, trying to contemplate why his words made me feel empty inside.
“I have to be the best damn player out there, Kenna.” Oliver told me as he came to stand behind me. “I can either do that with you, or without you. But I can’t be the best if I’m constantly worried about how to make you understand.”
And for the first time, I did. It wasn’t Oliver who had needed to grow up; he was already way more mature than I could ever be. I didn’t want him? Fine. He was upset, but he was going to do something about it and move on. And I was just another girl who only wanted what she’d found out she could no longer have. “I agree.” I said shakily. Oliver looked as if he’d been prepared for my answer.
“Do you now?” I could have sworn I heard amusement in that tone, but I had to have been wrong.
“Yeah.” I swallowed deeply. “Friends?”
Oliver stared at the hand I had extended after saying the words. For a moment, I thought he would turn away. And then that inscrutable expression came over his face again, and he stuck his hand out, clasping my own in it. “Friends.” he agreed with a nod.
I felt like crying all over again, and I didn’t even know why.
Author's Note: I know, I know. Not so funny. But hey, this was an important conversation, and I hope Quidditch was a little fun at least. To be honest, the majority of this chapter is somewhat of a filler, because well, Ollie's plan kicks into high gear in the next chapter, and I had to write about the Quidditch match. It's not my forte. Anywho, I hope you guys liked that Kenna actually appears to be less of an idiot in this chapter. After all, she did just admit that she and Ollie could have possibilities, but she's afraid. Please don't come after me with an axe!!! Right. So. I will be hard at work on Chapter 12 until I suck it up and finish it, but until then, indulge me (and yourselves) by leaving me a review or two! Muchas gracias!
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