Chapter 5 : The TARDIS
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Despite making it his day job to defeat gravity, it seemed combined alcohol and the oddly distracting Penelope Clearwater was making it easier for gravity to win the war.
It had been this bloody Hogwarts reunion type thing that he’d ended up attending. He suspected it was Katie who’d mentioned it to him a disproportionate number of times compared to what it qualified (given she hadn’t even turned up, after all), and the Quidditch card didn’t work very well when she knew full well when every match and training sessions were thanks to her new internship at some Quidditch magazine that he’d barely heard of (and given he was Oliver bloody Wood, that was quite impressive for a magazine to be so low key that even he hadn’t heard of it). Someone’s birthday, apparently.
Then, thanks to his rather pompous ex-roommate, he’d been pushed at the said roommates ex-girlfriend (bit bloody awkward, that) because she seemed to be just as disinclined to socialise with anyone as he did. Then again, she’d seemed pretty damn chatty when they started talking and, three hours later, he’d realised that she’d actually driven him to feeling sociable. It hadn’t been his exact intention to start flirting with her, but there was nothing unusual in that – really, he wasn’t bad at flirting when he was so inclined, it was just that most of the time he wasn’t. There were other things to consider. Quidditch, for example.
And now he was falling off his broomstick and beginning to realise that he didn’t want to be there: not wanting to be falling from a great height was a given, but he didn’t want to be flying either. For once, he wanted to shove the broom back in the broom cupboard and buy Penelope Clearwater another drink. Ask her out for dinner, or something (Percy permitting; should Oliver ask permission? Was that the social etiquette for these things?).
Then Oliver Wood hit the floor and it hurt quite a lot. Too much for him to think any more about Penelope, Penny as she’d suggested, until… of course, he woke up in St Mungo’s and realised he’d accidentally stood her up. She wouldn’t like that.
He’d just about worked out that girls didn’t like being stood up or standing around outside Quidditch practice for hours as Oliver tried to just perfect his left-armed save. He gave it up as a nice idea: a lost cause, a bit annoying but not exactly unsurprising, not quite as important as the rant exploding from his Captain’s lips as he prattled on, quite correctly, about how Oliver was an idiot and how you should never drink and fly.
Briefly, perhaps for a split second, Oliver considered Penelope’s pretty, round face and thought right on, captain.
Penelope Clearwater was itching for her shift to be over. This wasn’t a particularly foreign feeling, because she worked in a Quill shop. As much as Penelope actually quite like quills and stationary in general (in fact, she had a growing collection of different types of ink which she found rather exciting that Percy had informed her was so boring he’d stopped listening… and coming from Percy she’d had to take a step back and re-evaluate her life), spending eight hours trying to sell expensive quills to people who just wanted to write shopping lists had this tendency to get a bit dry.
“Excited for your holiday?” Mr Frobisher asked her; he was some great-great-nephew of the original Mr Scrivenshaft who seemed to be okay with working in the same shop he’d worked in when he was fourteen.
Penny thought that Mr Scrivenshaft must have been quite the productive fellow, because every day there seemed to be a different member of the extensive Scrivenshaft bloodline working. In the summer a whole host of younger relatives had helped out with the so-called ‘busy season’ (Penny thought that was rubbish, hot weather did not equate to a mad dash on quills but still…). Sometimes Penny thought she was the only one not distantly related to the pen-loving-fellow who worked there and, if Oliver had his way, it would come soon return to being an entirely exclusive environment.
“Hmmm.” Penelope agreed, because she found Mr A Frobisher one of the least agreeable to spend the day with, particularly because he had this annoying habit of continually enquiring into her life and silently judging her when she had nothing further to add.
“Will I be meeting the infamous Oliver Wood?”
“Suppose.” Penelope conceded.
“Lost his last match.”
“Yeah.” Penelope said, vaguely remembering how awful he’d been for the following week. In fact, he’d been solidly absent for the first three days post-failure until Penelope had turned up at his flat, broken in (well, she’d used alohomora charm) and demanded that they went out for dinner. He’d then barely eaten whilst Penelope continually chatted about the customers they’d had at the shop until Oliver had gotten so fed up of her talking he’d told her to shut up. Apparently, his usual default mode post-failure was to lock himself away from society for a period of time until he was ‘fit for humanity’ again, when it was less likely for him to start yelling Quidditch related expletives at random passers-by… and they’d had to have a rather stiff conversation where Penelope had tried to convince him that she could definitely cope with being more of an idiot than usual and Oliver had declared that he wasn’t worth her effort.
Then she’d had to tell him to stop acting like a melodramatic teenager.
“When’s the next?”
“Saturday after next.”
“You got tickets?”
“Yeah.” Penelope returned. Apparently, she had become a WAG. She wasn’t sure when she had become a WAG, but… last time she hadn’t attended a game (she’d been in a very bad mood and had refused to get up at stupid O’Clock) it had been printed in several Quidditch magazines that they’d had a vicious breakup involving a case of minor assault – from her, actually, apparently she’d thrown a carrot at him and it had ruined his left-armed save.
Oliver had gotten very angry about the article. He said there was nothing wrong with his left-armed save.
“Got any spares?”
“No,” Penelope said, leaning over the counter, “they don’t do that.”
They did that. She wasn’t wasting free tickets on her irritating work colleague. It was bad enough that Percy was nagging her about getting him and Audrey tickets, when he finally dropped the I’m a magician bombshell. About time, too. It would be nice to use magic to cook pasta again. Boiling water via a kettle required much more patience than Penelope naturally possessed.
“Where is you’re going again?”
“Spain.” Penelope sighed, pressing her fingernails into her forehead and thinking this was enough reason for anyone to resign themselves to being a social recluse for the rest of eternity. “Oliver has been invited to meet a member of the international team, so we’re going to Spain.”
Really, that was stretching the truth. A Spanish international player had written him a letter saying he’d like to meet, apparently this thing happened all the time, but Penelope had been in a particularly carpe diem mood and had declared that he should definitely go. This had sparked an increasingly more ridiculous conversation which had concluded in them planning a round-the-world-trip… which, after the initial planning excitement, had been diluted to a week in Spain.
“Bet you’re excited.”
“Hmm.” Penelope said, feeling like the conversation had just turned circular and that definitely wasn’t a good thing. Penelope glanced at her watch again, resisting the sigh as she shifted her position and started reorganising the range of pencils they’d just ordered in for the sake of looking busy. Five minutes, if Oliver was on time. Which… might happen.
“Oh, hey,” Penelope said, looking up to see her Oliver Wood pushing open the door of the shop and walking across the floor, “early?”
“Wanted to see your new supply of pencils,” Oliver commented, “couldn’t resist.”
“I’ll bet,” Penny said, stepping forwards to greet him with a kiss, “they’ve been quite the focal point.”
“Point?” Oliver said. “How sharp of you.”
“Funny,” Penelope said approvingly, letting him wrap his arms around her and grinning, “good day?”
“Percy was at the flat this morning.”
“I walked into him when I was coming out the shower,” Oliver said, looking distinctly amused, “he was a bit flustered; I don’t think he was expecting me to be there.”
“I certainly wasn’t expecting him to be there,” Penelope grinned, “crap, Percy stayed the night. Anyway, Oliver, my shift hasn’t finished yet; can I interest you in a quill?”
“Always,” Oliver said, “got any feather quills with particularly fine nibs and a finely balanced core?”
“No,” Penelope said flatly, “they’re not brooms, they don’t have balanced cores.”
“I guess I could let you off early,” Mr A Frobisher said as if he was offering her a great treat, “as you’re going on holiday.”
“Thanks for letting me take her.” Oliver said, offering him one of his best attempts at a smile. Penny rolled her eyes and grabbed her bag from the back room, swinging it over her shoulder and taking her boyfriend’s hand. Oliver suited being surly much more than he did his fake smiles.
“I think you just saved my life,” Penelope said dryly, “he wouldn’t stop talking.”
“I know that feeling.”
“Oi, I’m antisocial remember.”
“Right,” Oliver said, “so why was it you wanted to delay our holiday to show up to this… school reunion thing?”
“To show off my Quidditch Star boyfriend,” Penelope said cheerfully, “he’s a bit annoying, but last time I made a bit of a fool of myself by not talking to anyone, so it’d be nice to have some arm candy.”
“Makes a change, you WAG you.”
“I’m not a WAG.”
“Pen,” Oliver said, smirking, “no one even knew what a WAG was until you freaked out about being one.”
“Audrey did.” Penelope said primly.
“Yes, well, Audrey is a muggle. And she didn’t think you were a WAG… and even if she did, you’ve got to question some of Audrey’s recent decisions.”
“Hey,” Penelope said, raising her eyebrows slightly, “I went there too once, remember?”
“I already had quite severe doubts about your judgement, Pen. Now, no doubt you’re going to spend an obscene amount of time getting ready, so we might as well head back.”
“My dress is at your flat,” Penny said, hooking her arms through Oliver’s, “which means I don’t get to question Audrey about Percy staying over, damnit.”
“A Time Lord?” Oliver said, staring at the screen feeling slightly baffled. “A lord… of time.”
“No,” Penelope said impatiently, “well, yes, but not like a Lord and Lady, Lord… Time Lord is like a species.”
“A species?” Oliver questioned, squinting at his girlfriend slightly and resisting the desire to laugh; Penelope had a tendency towards the ridiculous at times, in particular how adamant she was that she was not afraid of spiders and was in fact simply ‘weary’ – “like vampires?”
“No, Oliver,” Penelope said, “not like that. Because you can become a Vampire. It’s a species like a horse is a species.”
“But with the right spell you can become a horse?”
“I think you’re missing the point.” Penelope said pointedly, leaning forwards and pausing the DVD (although Oliver had learnt about the things in Muggle Studies, he’d never actually watched one and it was all together quite strange).
“What about a species,” Oliver began, “like muggles are a species and wizards and witches are a species?” Oliver suggested, only he whispered the last half off his sentence in Penelope’s ear because Audrey was next door.
“No, they’re alien.”
“Like the green Martians that live on the moon. Oliver, come on, aliens. And the Doctor has two hearts.”
“Right,” Oliver said, squashing up next to Penelope a little more on the sofa, “because that makes a lot of sense.”
Penelope sent him a dirty look – the irritated sort of dirty, rather than anything else – and crossed her arms.
She didn’t quite forgive him until he declared that the Cybermen were positively terrifying creatures. And his approvable of the Darleks meant he was more than in the clear on that front.
Penelope was stood in front of the mirror holding her hair up as she waited for Oliver to hurry up and zip up her dress already. Apparently, she’d put on weight so now the zip wouldn’t come up as easily as it used to and Oliver was calmly suggesting that she just enlarge it slightly and that had, obviously, caused Penelope to feel a bit miffed and make a point about how she didn’t highlight the fact that his left-armed save was slightly lacking and so he shouldn’t essentially call her fat.
“If you won’t enlarge it you’ll have to do the zip up yourself,” Oliver said firmly, sending a slightly offended look to his left arm – as though it had let him down for something very important. “I’m not breaking your dress by forcing it.”
“It doesn’t need forcing!” Penelope said through gritted teeth, stretching one arm behind her back in an attempt to fasten the damnable thing. “You’re just so incompetent with your left arm that you can’t do a zip!”
Oliver rolled his eyes, pulled out his wand and enlarged the dress.
“Now it barely stays up!” Penny exclaimed, whirling round to face her boyfriend, holding the vast material of the dress up with one hand to preserve a degree of dignity – not that it made much difference, given this was Oliver, but there it was.
“Exactly,” Oliver said, “so now you have the satisfaction of shrinking it to size and thinking about how fat you’re really not.”
“Yay.” Penelope commented under her breath. “I’m not fat.” She added.
“I know.” Oliver returned, rolling his eyes slightly.
“Maybe I’m pregnant.”
“You’re not pregnant.”
“I could be.” Penelope said.
“You’re not pregnant; you’re just getting weirdly nervous and obsessive because you’re worried about this reunion thing even though I was all for not going.”
“Okay.” Penelope said, shrugging her shoulders slightly because that seemed like a fair description of her current mental state, given the fact that she was currently wearing mismatching shoes trying to work out which were most event-appropriate and beginning to wonder how she even had enough pairs of shoes to have some packed for holiday and still have three pairs of them at Oliver’s.
“For the record, you looked nice – before the dress became a tent, I mean – and you’re going to be fine. Then, after the bloody things done we can ride off into the sunset and spend a week in Spain recovering from our shame. After we embarrass ourselves utterly, of course.”
“Thank you.” Penelope said, resisting the urge to pick up a nervous habit like biting her nails.
“Were you this bad before the last one?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Is it the WAG thing?”
“Quite possible. You know, Oliver, I think Audrey might show up as Percy’s plus one.”
“Really?” Oliver asked.
“You know what Percy’s like. He likes things to be proper. So, if he stayed then night well… he wouldn’t have done that unless he’d told Audrey about magic. And he wouldn’t have done that unless there was a good reason for it. So, I should think that he’s in love with her and that she’ll be coming to the reunion tonight. In which case, no one will be paying attention to us, right?”
“Right. Pen,” Oliver said, bringing a hand up to his forehead and frowning slightly, “didn’t you have that dress packed for the holiday, anyway?”
“I… rearranged our suitcases.” Penelope admitted, turning to face her reflection and beginning to shrink her dress, deciding that her life had been much much easier when she’d just been a lonely social recluse.
Then again, a nice romantic holiday with her boyfriend provided a fair counterargument.
Olive was quite confused over the excessive interest in the fact that he’d taken Penelope along to a Quidditch match whilst he was deemed unfit to play (not, irritatingly enough, because he was remotely injured but because was currently disgraced), as though if you factored out Quidditch there was a chance for an actual life to come slipping through the void (the chasm, as Penelope called it when Oliver voiced this thought). His teammates had made quite a few comments about this.
The largely male environment (with a side order of two females; one beater who seemed to inadvertently defy all stereotypes by batting around a great bleeding bludger without chipping her manicured nails and a fiery chaser who lived and breathed feminism) was a pressure cooker for brash comments and, as a result, he suspected Penelope Clearwater’s supposed morality and morals had been dug through the metaphorical mud more since they’re date than it had ever been before. Although he would certainly not be repeating any of the comments to Penny, they didn’t exactly bother him as he was used to the familiar talk and almost, well, not flattered… but there was something strangely nice about the fact that he was drawn into these conversations for once, but Rebecca Jacobs had looked shockingly personally and morally offended when he hadn’t immediately told them to shut up about his… girlfriend? (Did three dates, as it had now been, count as dating?).
Still, it wasn’t just inside the locker room. His Mum had, predictably, wanted to meet this infamous Penelope (which was ridiculous, Oliver very much doubted they’d ever get to that point) and then he’d had George on it him about it, and then Katie and the others… and, really, it seemed like Penelope Clearwater had re-sparked up all his social relationships to an absurd degree, as well as being really quite lovely and pleasant and all the other things you might look for in a woman.
Oliver was almost glad about the whole Quidditch incident. Quidditch was a glorious passion and the most important thing in Oliver’s life, but by its very nature it seemed to eat away at everything else in his life: he could train until his muscles were screaming in protest, he could stay up for days on end planning plays and dreaming about just being able to play Quidditch forever and ever. But, there were other things that were good in life. Things that were difficult to arrange about Quidditch, sometimes, and the fact that Oliver was in the middle of a temporary hiatus meant that there was enough time to fall into a nice relationship (if Penny was willing, of course) before she had to deal with the irritation of the ever present training sessions and the continual matches and everything else like that.
In the end, relationships were all about timing. And Oliver wasn’t very good at this timing lark. Before anyone had a chance to become importance enough for him to rejuggle Quidditch, they’d been scared off by Quidditch: thus an ever perpetuating cycle of being a bit single and not quite lonely. And there was this small chance that, this time, the timing might be on his side.
They’d been at the party for about approximately three seconds when Penelope saw a flash of orange moving towards her that she strongly suspected didn’t belong to Percy. Sure enough, within a minute, she was face to face with George Weasley who seemed to find the whole concept of her relationship with Oliver immensely funny.
George then preceded them to ask them a vast amount of awkward questions which Oliver seemed to handle quite well, but Penelope handled very poorly, before Percy turned up with a very happy but slightly nervous looking Audrey and it seemed they were no longer the most amusing couple and were left alone. At least, until Oliver’s Quidditch mates – Katie, was it? – approached and started teasing Oliver and chumming up with Penelope asking her questions like does he dream about missing Quaffles, Penny? and other slightly more personal slightly more laugh-inducing questions.
They were then pulled away from the direction of the bar, which is where they’d been headed before the first interception, and towards Harry Potter.
“Now Oliver,” Penelope muttered as Angelina dragged them over, “don’t get too star struck, he’s just your old seeker remember.”
And after Oliver had rather abruptly asked Harry whether he’d gotten much chance to ride recently (he was feeling a bit nervous, it seemed), then George had returned and wrapped an arm around Angelina (Penelope would have to gossip to Oliver and or Percy about that later) and then others seemed to appear out of the woodwork: Ron Weasley and Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger and Alicia Spinnet.
“It’s almost like a reunion.” George said, cheerfully, and suddenly Penelope wanted to run away and cry because the whole Gryffindor Quidditch team was here (with a few plus ones), except it wasn’t because they were a beater down and it was the most horrific and poignant moment she’d ever suffered through.
Thirty minutes into the night, Oliver rescued her from where she was drinking red wine alone at the bar.
Oliver Wood had gotten very used to having Penelope Clearwater in his life. In fact, they were teetering on the brink of her absence, should it occur, being utterly miserable – heart break was a bit of a farfetched assessment, maybe, but he’d definitely need quite a few weeks of sulking and would consider quite a few Quidditch-related compromises to cement her presence in his life.
As it stood, both of them had become really quite comfortable with their new relationship status and Oliver couldn’t quite picture the whole thing coming crashing towards ruin any time soon. It was just nice to wake up with a Penelope sized lump next to him in his bed (or, over at her place depending on a multitude of factors which they’d discussed at length) and to be able to eat breakfast with someone. He liked rambling on about Quidditch and not being judged for it. He liked Penelope’s wit and her bluntness about things. He just liked Penelope.
And currently, he was watching her make the walk from his bed to the bathroom waiting for the eventual backlash of his brashness.
“Oliver,” Penelope said, pausing at the entrance to Oliver’s bedroom with her hand on her hip, “why, exactly, is there an application form for the Ministry of Magic spellotaped to your bedroom door?”
“Well,” Oliver said, sitting up in his bed and raising his eyebrows slightly, “you’re reasoning for not reapplying for your old Ministry position was that they weren’t advertising.”
“So you put up your own advertisement?” Penelope said, pulling the application form rather viciously and turning around to face him. “In your bedroom.”
“Look, Pen,” Oliver said, sitting up completely, “if you like your job, then that’s fine but I just don’t buy the oh look how much I love quills lark! Now, I know you probably think I have no right to butt in, but I think I do so… I think you should apply for a job.”
“As a pencil pusher?”
“That’s literally what you do right now, Penny; you push pencils at people.”
“No,” Penny muttered distractedly, “we don’t sell pencils, we’re thinking about getting some in but we haven’t made a decision yet.”
“Okay,” Penelope said, tossing the application on the bed and leaning forwards and giving Oliver a kiss, “I’ll think about it.”
“That,” Oliver said, “was brutal.”
“I feel like I’ve been bludgeoned with a bludger.”
“Been forced backwards through the time vortex.”
“Fallen off a broom.”
“Been poked in the eye with a quill.”
“It really hurts when you do that,” Penelope said with an exhausted sigh, “we should have skipped the party and gone on holiday early.” Oliver shrugged slightly. “You’re glad we went?” Penelope asked, threading her elbow through his.
“I’ve never had a WAG to show off before,” Oliver said, with a short grin, “I suppose I like remembering Hogwarts days. Reminiscing, it’s nice; there was a lot of Quidditch.”
“Lots of studying.”
“For nothing,” Oliver added, “as you’re not even abusing your qualifications.”
“Lots of people,” Penny added, pointedly ignoring his comment, “you forget how many people there were. Still, there were good bits. Silence in the library, for example.”
“Right,” Oliver grinned, “now, what’s say we get the hell out of this country, away from all this reminiscing, and go on a really bloody nice holiday to Spain?”
“You know you’ve just cursed it.” Penny smiled, reaching up and kissing Oliver’s cheek.
“You okay?” Oliver asked gruffly, facing her with the serious determined expression that Penny usually associated with Quidditch.
They’d just had possibly the most hyper-emotional conversation that Penelope had ever blagged her way through and now she was feeling oddly like throwing her arms around her boyfriend’s neck or chucking him out of her bed so she could bury her face in her pillow and cry like a teenage girl. She couldn’t even pin down how it had gotten so emotional and intense: she’d just been talking about her parents and it wasn’t like there was anything scarring or horrible that had happen to her parents, they were lovely and she visited them at least four times a year and they were always pleasant and loving, but one second she’d mentioned how worried she was when she scarpered during the war and the next she’d been crying.
Then there’d been this bizarre thirteen minutes when she’d been pressed against Oliver’s bare chest (this whole thing had occurred when neither of them could sleep, after all) whimpering and muttering incomprehensible things that even she couldn’t understand. Then, as quickly as the emotional insanity had occurred it was gone and Penelope was blinking her dry eyes and wondering what the hell was happening to her.
“Uhh, maybe,” Penelope eventually replied, sitting up in bed and pulling the cover around her, “I don’t know where that came from.”
Oliver shrugged in his easy not a problem sort of way, Penelope scrunched her shoulders up and they were both silent for quite a few minutes.
“If you had a TARDIS,” Oliver said, shifting himself so that he was sat upright with his back against the headboard, “where would you go?”
“Are you trying to distract me?” Penelope asked as she turned and sent a pleased smile towards her boyfriend.
“I believe I am,” Oliver said, “so, you’ve got a TARDIS. Anywhere, anytime, anyplace; where, Penelope Clearwater, are you taking me.”
“Are you the companion?” Penny grinned. “My brains too frazzled, but, the creation of the earth would be nice. No, the founders – I’d like to see how Hogwarts was built. But, what about you, Oliver? Where am I taking you?”
Oliver thought about this for quite a few moments. Overall, he thought he was pretty damn content right where he was: Penelope would no doubt say that he lacked imagination and ambition (both of which were definitely fair and true), but as much as Oliver found the episodes of Doctor Who he’d sat through interesting, he’d never hold much in stall for wishing for fanciful things that wouldn’t happen, nor did he particularly find history or travelling particularly interesting.
“I’d travel back along our timeline a bit,” Oliver said finally, “watch a couple of things over, jump around and see what happens before and after. See what you were doing and things.”
“That’s a very Gryffindor answer,” Penelope said, resting her head on his shoulder for a second, “entirely well meaning, but utterly ludicrous – do you know nothing about time travel? It’s not like you’re in a pensive.”
“I’m talking about an internal mind TARDIS of memories and perspective.”
“Now it’s beginning to sound like the narrative structure of a novel.” Penelope said, the exhaustion of her wild emotional outburst beginning to weigh down her eyelids.
“Hardly a novel,” Oliver said, watching feeling slightly amused as Penelope’s head rolled to the side as she drifted off for a second, before she jerked her head back upwards again, “more like a short story.”
Still, there was plenty of time to change that.
Hey there everyone! So, this the end and I finished another story! I actually can’t believe it. It feels like a couple of months ago I was convinced I was never going to finish anything (and it was only a couple of months ago that I was starting this, if we’re honest) and… well, I know it’s not much of an achievement given its lack of length but I had a lot of fun writing this. As always, I don’t own Doctor Who, or TARDIS’s (although if I owned one I’d be soooo happy) or any of the other Doctor Who reference. They’re the BBCs. Also, I didn’t expect the end to turn out quite so cheesy. AND this was originally written for Ariellem’s birthday because, well, she got me shipping Penny/Oliver through her wonderful stories – so this story is entirely written for her and my own sense of funsies, really. Thanks for reviewing, guys! Reviews are always appreciated :)