Oliver was spread out on his sofa when I arrived, kicked back and watching the replays of the Quidditch game. He glanced up at me curiously as I entered through a fireplace that materialized on his wall next to the Quidditch star figurines.
“I thought you were staying at Alicia’s for more than a day,” he said thoughtfully.
I narrowed my eyes. “And I thought you received an invite to join us.”
“Right,” Oliver replied, making a disgruntled face. “I didn’t think it was a good idea.”
“Yeah, it was a much better idea making me look like an arse in front of my friends,” I muttered, taking a seat on the sofa beside him. “Fred and George got there and there I was, watching the fireplace so I could give you a big I’m-sorry hug when you jumped out of it—probably still in your Puddlemere robes—and show everyone that I had the dishiest boyfriend of them all. But you didn’t. And then they found out I had the most ridiculous boyfriend of them all.”
“Now that isn’t fair,” he said suddenly. “You haven’t heard my take.”
“Do tell because I’ve officially taken back my apology,” I said sternly.
“I knew it couldn’t last forever.” Oliver flipped the television off with a tiny smile. “Look, Jane, I just…I think it’ll be a bit weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean there are loads of reasons it would be weird,” he continued. “First of all, I got all the way to Brazil before completely bailing on their team. I even said I would commit to a contract and I still bailed. I’m sure Bastian won’t forget that. Their new Keeper is horrible. Did you see what the score was on their playoff games? Not good.” He sighed as I took a moment to roll my eyes. “I mean, the Finches minor-league goalie was just called up for the playoffs and that could have been me. My dad was right.”
Irritation temporarily forgotten, I placed a hand on his thigh. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t belong to a team that just needs you for a bit and then throws you back down into the gutter. You belong to a team that is being remade. Around you. That’s amazing.” I beamed. “And as for Bastian—that’s rubbish. He has nearly forgotten about the entire thing and seemed very excited about us being together.”
He made a face. “Maybe. Why is he still there anyway?”
It was my turn to groan and make a face. “Well, the thing is…Alicia isn’t quite sure what to do.”
“Don’t tell me she started fancying him again. That’s what your letter sounded like but I didn’t want to buy it.”
“He is rather persuasive, you know.”
“No, I don’t. I’m a bloke.”
I smiled. “Well, she doesn’t know right now which is what we’re trying to help with. And if you’re there it’ll make things easier.”
“Why? So she can fancy me instead?”
I choked. “No, prat, so you can get her mind off of it. I think the twins will take care of convincing her she likes Lee.” I stood up and folded my arms. “Do you want to come then?”
Oliver made a face. “But I’m hungry.”
I frowned. “So eat something and then we can go.”
“Will you fix me some toast while I get dressed?” He smiled. “Seriously, Jane, you’re an angel.” Oliver jumped up and headed into his bedroom without so much as getting a nod in reply from me.
I wrinkled my nose. That was absurd—why did he expect me to make him toast when he was perfectly capable of putting the bread in the toaster himself? Was it because I was a girl? Girls could do other things too. Like kick people really hard that made them mad.
Or get even.
I walked into the kitchen, annoyed, and popped two pieces of soft bread into the toaster. I tapped my foot for a moment, standing in the center of the lackluster room and surveyed it. Dirty dishes in the sink. Empty orange juice container on the counter. A stray Cannons figurine trying to balance between a wine glass and a china plate.
“Seriously, Jane, you’re the best!” Oliver called, opening his bedroom door. He straightened his khaki pants and beamed, throwing himself back onto the sofa.
I watched this with narrowed eyes. “I know,” I muttered.
The toaster beeped and sent the bread flying onto the crumb-filled counter where I grabbed it and tossed it onto a clean plate. The butter was one of the few things in the fridge and I spread it angrily across the toast.
“Do you think the twins killed him by now?” Oliver asked. “There will be a lot of ticked off Quidditch fans.”
I carried the plate into the living room and stood in front of him, my weight balanced onto one foot.
“You’re welcome,” I replied delicately and then chucked both pieces of buttered toast at his face.
“What in the—Jane!” He quickly brushed them off, his face now a delicious shade of pale yellow. “Why in Merlin’s name would you do something like that?”
I shrugged. “You wanted toast,” I said tactfully.
Oliver groaned and pulled out his wand. “All right, I get it. Move over. We’re leaving.”
Smiling, I watched him create a prosaic fireplace with chipped bricks and mismatched colors. He folded his arms.
“Good. Let’s go save poor Bastian.”
“Save Bastian? I thought we were saving Alicia.” Oliver slid on his shoes and laced them slowly, his eyes focused on the flames in front of him.
“That too. We’re saving Bastian from Fred and George.”
Bastian didn’t seem to need any help when we arrived since he was lounging on the beach reciting James Wright poems to Alicia. She was smiling. Angelina and Katie had scowls on their faces and the twins were red.
I waved as we walked over the hill and Angelina leapt to her feet.
“Oh, thank god I thought you’d never get here,” she breathed, grabbing my hand and tugging me toward the water. “Hi, Oliver.” Her eyes flew back to me. “Do something about this. Fred’s plotting something and Alicia just keeps getting deeper and deeper.”
I made a face. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Isn’t that why we invited him?” Angelina jabbed her finger in Oliver’s direction. “Oliver, do something.”
“You’re quick to take charge since I’ve graduated,” Oliver said, a smile curling up his lips. His eyes focused on everyone and then he walked ahead of us toward the goggling Alicia. “Hey,” he said cheerfully and she smiled. “Nice to see you, Bastian. Sorry about the team.”
“Don’t think on it—I would have come back too.” Bastian nodded to me.
Oliver colored a bit. I could see it on his ears from where I stood with Angelina. “I see you heard about the Quidditch Final.”
“I did. Congratulations on the win.”
“Thanks,” said Oliver, turning toward Alicia. “Look, I’m here for a reason, Spinnet. That reason is as follows.” She cocked a brow at him, but Oliver revealed nothing as he bent down, scooped her up, and even though she was kicking and screaming to prevent it, he chuckled her into the murky pond.
Angelina and Katie, along with the twins, erupted in laughter and I rushed over to the pond to help her out, only managing to get my feet sunk a few inches into the sand. Bastian was silent for a few seconds as he watched on.
“Who wants to join her?” Oliver said with a giant smile on his face. “Ang?”
Instead, I was the next to find my clothes sticking to my skin as Oliver launched me into the pond. I surfaced, spitting water onto Alicia, and glowered at him.
“You turned on me!” I shouted as Fred helped his twin throw Katie in and then rounded on Angelina. She tried to make a break for it but failed miserably when Fred caught her around the waist and threw her over his shoulder.
At least she managed to take him down when she went in, splashing me.
I grabbed Oliver around the middle and he jumped, trying to rush toward the shore but I kicked out his legs and he came down nearly on top of me, sputtering water and cursing something about crazy women. His clothes were soaked and when he stood up I could see his leg muscles through his khaki pants.
“Coming, Bastian?” Angelina asked as George shed his shirt to jump in after them.
“I’m all right up here,” Bastian said, sending a little smile our way. He shifted so he was leaning back onto his elbows while Fred tossed Angelina further into the pond.
“Whassamatter?” asked George with a hint of a sneer. “Designer shirt?”
“Actually, yes,” he replied solemnly. He looked like he was trying to bite his tongue, but anyone in their right mind wouldn’t snap at the close friends of the girl they wanted back.
George made a disgusted face and then grabbed for Alicia. I saw what he was doing, hoisting her up in the air so that her clothes clung to her body. He watched Bastian’s expression with a look of satisfaction on his own face and tossed her back into the water, but not before holding her over his head by the thigh and stomach.
A muscle in Bastian’s jaw twitched.
I swam around for a bit, irritated that I was being bogged down by my clothes, and watched the activities around me. For a while Fred tried to follow in George’s footsteps and monopolize Alicia, but then he somehow got reattached to Angelina’s lips and they didn’t surface for air.
Instead, Oliver took charge of entertaining Alicia by splashing her repeatedly, causing her hair to fall into her frustrated face so she couldn’t see. He took these opportunities to splash more and then to finally dunk her. She came up choking and laughing and then tackled him while he tried to announce his superiority. Leave it to Oliver to let his guard down to be pompous.
As Alicia stood up and flexed her muscles, giggling at Bastian, I snuck up behind the coughing Oliver and tackled him again. I made sure to get a nice feel on his stomach which was harder since he started training with Puddlemere. He raised a brow at me when we surfaced, reaching under the water and grabbing my rear end.
I squeaked. Katie looked over and raised an amused brow.
Oliver chuckled and kissed my wet nose.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this,” Alicia said, groaning at Oliver’s gesture. “I just can’t get the image of them at each other’s throats out of my head. Fight or something, this is getting weird.”
“Perry, laps,” Oliver said and I splashed him.
After about an hour of lugging my clothes around the pond, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time for dinner. Angelina’s stomach was rumbling and nearly shaking the water and Fred needed to clean the girl off of his face. His lips were red and puffy since they hardly detached the entire time they were in the pond. Once Alicia climbed out, Bastian took her hand and led the way back up to the cottage.
I saw the red tint on her cheeks.
“This is rubbish,” muttered Fred, ringing out his striped shirt. “We aren’t doing our job if we let this happen.”
“It’s not your business,” said Angelina.
“I thought that’s why you brought us here,” he replied.
“That’s why we wanted Oliver here, not you.” She put her hands on her hips and started to make her way up the hill, Fred at her heels. “I wanted you here so I could snog your face off. You’re too biased in the subject.”
“Because I’m best friends with Lee?”
She nodded. “So you don’t get a say.”
“What do I get a say in?” he asked and hopped over one of the benches.
“You know.” Angelina winked.
I gagged a bit and wondered why. What was so gag-worthy about sex? I pondered about how many times they had done it. Had it been often, out by the lake? The Quidditch pitch? Fred’s dormitory? I wondered about the impact of it on their relationship, and all I noticed was that it seemed to bring them closer. They were nearly inseparable and though they bickered they looked as close as they had ever been.
Katie lagged behind a bit because her hair was still wet and she was using her dry sweater to try and counter that. George helped her up the hill and they caught up to where Oliver and I were walking hand-in-hand.
“It’s not like I’m meddling,” he muttered. They were apparently having the same conversation Angelina and Fred had.
“You are,” she said flatly. “And so help me Merlin if I see your hand on Alicia’s thigh again I’m going to give my engagement ring to her instead.” She was smiling, but George knew she was telling the truth.
I watched a grin play on Oliver lips and he squeezed my hand. We held back for a moment by the fireplace and he moved a strand of my hair behind my ear, brushing my cheek with his fingertips.
“So that’s why they wanted me here?” he asked softly.
I shrugged. “Must be. So what are you going to do about it?”
“Watch,” he said with a cocky smile. “What do you want me to do? Knock Bastian in the face and tell him what he’s doing is wrong? I can’t do that. He’s a bloke in love. I don’t have any business telling him who he can’t love just because I’m mates with the girl’s boyfriend.”
I narrowed my eyes. “That’s the stupidest argument ever.”
“To you,” he said. “It’s a bloke code, if anything. I can help bring out his qualities, but that’s it.”
“Is that what you did there?” I pointed in the direction of the pond. “You threw Alicia in because you knew Bastian wouldn’t go?”
“I’ve seen that shirt before,” Oliver said, looking toward the darkening sky. “He wore it in the last issue of Quidditch Weekly when he had that article run about his new lifestyle now that he’s a star. Said it cost a hell of a lot of money. I knew he wasn’t going in with that on.”
“But why not just take it off?”
“He’d lose status, that’s why.” He pulled me close and kissed me and I wondered what that had to do with the conversation. I figured he just wanted to kiss me. What a sod. “I wanted to show Alicia that Bastian wouldn’t do those fun things with her like go swimming randomly. He’s a good bloke, though, and if that’s what she wants then that is who she’ll pick.”
“Just admit I’m right.” Oliver pulled open the door and I heard the scrapes of cutlery on ceramic plates.
“I won’t,” I replied.
He was blocking the doorway, his big Keeper body keeping me away from the food.
My stomach rumbled. “Oliver, get away from the bleeding door.”
“Tell me I’m right.”
“Then start munching on grass.” He chuckled and folded his arms arrogantly. I wanted to punch him in the chest. “Go on, tell me.”
I paused for a moment and sized him up. I bet I could take him.
Right. In my dreams. Maybe not even then.
“Mr. Spinnet! Oliver won’t let me inside!”
He looked scandalized. “Tattle-tale!” he whispered, horrified.
“Why?” Mr. Spinnet called with an obvious mouthful of food.
“She won’t admit I’m right!” Oliver said loudly and my jaw dropped.
“Jane, he probably is. Just say it and get in here and eat. The corn is getting cold.”
If he wouldn’t have looked ridiculous, Oliver would have done a happy dance right there. He smirked again, that same one I was oh-so-familiar with, and leaned against the door frame just to get in a better position to hear me admit he was a right stupid sod.
“You’re right,” I muttered, my eyes downcast.
“Thank you.” He leaned to the right and let me pass.
I walked into the kitchen and Alicia had her mouth lopsided. Then I turned. “You’re a right sod, that’s what you are. And you aren’t right.” It was my turn to smirk.
Then George threw a piece of broccoli at me. “Mean woman, Jane Perry.”
“Thank you,” said Oliver, taking a seat and elbowing me in the side. “Blast your treachery.” He chuckled and helped himself to a plate full of various vegetables and a piece of pork as everyone launched back into conversation.
“When’s the big game seven?” asked George hungrily. The guys looked at him like he was insane. “I’ve been around a bunch of women talking about lace and frills for the last couple weeks, don’t look at me like that.” Katie grinned.
“It’s tomorrow at noon,” Mr. Spinnet said. “Will you lot be here?”
“I don’t see why not,” said Fred, “especially if you’re offering to feed us.”
Mr. Spinnet smiled. “Speaking of that—what’re you doing after school? Alicia told me about wanting to go pro, but I don’t know about the rest of you. And if you say you want to go into the Ministry I’ll send you all out of here.”
I smiled. Mr. Spinnet had never been a fan of the Ministry since they ruled in favor of his sister-in-law after his brother’s death and she got complete custody of the kids even though she was never there for them.
“You know us,” said Fred, shoveled a spoonful of potatoes into his mouth. “Joke shop. We’re getting the forms together now. It’s going to be brilliant.”
“I think I’m looking to go pro as well,” said Angelina, making a face while she thought. “I don’t know which team—I guess it depends on how well I play next season, right?”
“Have you decided yet?” Mr. Spinnet asked Katie.
“Not really,” she said and Alicia raised a brow. “I might want to play Quidditch but I might want to do something a bit closer to home with less travel. Especially since I’ll get to see George more often.” She was glowing. I was a bit disgusted, really.
“That’s a valid point,” he said. “Jane?”
I shrugged. That was it. Already I had been shot down about my ideas for a future by Oliver’s parents and I wouldn’t have anyone else do it. I thought for a moment about telling them of my ideas to be in the administration part of Quidditch—scheduling matches or editing columns in Quidditch Weekly. Obviously I wouldn’t mention my slight interest in the Ministry, even though it would be nowhere near the business sections and instead be in Magical Games and Sports, but it was still unsafe.
“No prospects?” Mr. Spinnet asked.
I shook my head. “Nope.”
Oliver cast me a sideways glance but said nothing.
“I really like the idea of the future,” Bastian said and Fred rolled his eyes. “It’s like you’re always trying to get there, but you never quite make it. I have a plan, of course, but I’m not sure if it will play out perfectly. I think that’s part of the fun in it.”
“What is it?” Alicia asked anxiously, putting her fork back on the table for a moment.
“I want to keep playing Quidditch of course, until I’m too old to fly straight—but within the next few years I want to get married and settle down. Maybe in Brazil. Maybe here, in England.”
Mr. Spinnet’s eyes lit up at this comment.
“My wife can work if she wants, but she wouldn’t have to,” Bastian continued, staring directly at Alicia and her shimmering eyes. “I’d have enough money for the both of us and we could take holidays in the Alps and swim in the Caribbean any time we wanted. And then I want to have children—two at least I think and one has to be named Alexander like I told Alicia—and get a large dog. I’ve always liked larger dogs.” He paused and Alicia didn’t move. I saw Fred pretend to gag. Angelina elbowed him. “We’d come to visit during the holidays and sometimes let the kids have too much sugar, but we’d spend our nights looking up at the stars and lying in bed reading poetry.”
“Bastian, that’s beautiful,” breathed Alicia.
“Not as beautiful as you,” he whispered.
To be honest, I thought she was a bit of a sucker for all of it, but it was delivered with a heavy Portuguese accent so I almost fell for it. Then Oliver squeezed my knee and I snapped out of it. He should have gone over and squeezed her because she fell.
Hook, line, and sinker.
“That’s quite a plan, young man,” said Mr. Spinnet and Alicia’s eyes snapped up. “It’s a lofty goal but I think having something like that is very important. I wish you luck. Any girl would be lucky to be on the receiving end of that goal.” He smiled and I knew he meant he wanted Alicia to be that girl.
Hook, line, and sinker.
“Maybe I’ll be a Quidditch writer,” I said suddenly and the group turned to gaze at me. “For Quidditch Weekly or something. I could interview the players. I don’t know, maybe.” Without warning my face was hot and my palms were sweaty with attention.
“That’s not a bad idea,” said Angelina, catching on to where I was going. “I’ve always thought you were a good writer, Jane. I copied your Transfiguration notes for years.”
Katie nodded. “Great idea. I bet you would get it in a heartbeat!”
I tried to regain control by adding a few things about how those magazines tend to work, but I had already lost Alicia. She was back to staring into Bastian’s large brown Brazilian eyes as he smiled warmly at her with his characteristic Quidditch-player grin. He was dishy, all right, and her eyes fell from his Quidditch star lips, down to the muscles poking out of his sleeve and the way his shirt stretched over his chest.
Hell, I almost fell for Bastian sitting there.
Luckily, I snapped out of it thanks to a loud knock on the back door behind us.
Oliver stood up, tossing his napkin on the table as Alicia continued to be mesmerized and Angelina changed the subject to the suspected outcome of the Tornadoes/Finches game. He pulled it open hurriedly and took a step back, nearly choking.
I spun around and coughed loudly.
Lee Jordan stood at the back door with a darker tan, a bouquet of flowers, and a whole list of problems waiting for him.
A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. I don't really have much to say about it... just what do you think it going to happen?
And favorite quotes?
Leave me love, thanks to everyone who has been reading this! You're all amazing!
P.S. How hot is Bastian in that chapter image?
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