For everyone who has ever left me a review. I got on the Best of HPFF list this week and I am humbled and grateful and pretty damn giddy about it. I love your words of encouragement and inspiration. And favorite quotes, of course. I appreciate and save every one of them.
After a lot of back-and-forth and Oliver making a slew of disgusted faces as I named places, we finally decided to have our double date at a small pub on the outskirts of London. It had one of those dark exteriors with cherry wood walls and granite counters, but the photographs lining the walls were dusty and the place was filled with regulars. We picked a booth close to the window.
The first twenty minutes were spent mulling over the menu and Oliver making quippy comments about the Magpies. Roger fired back about Puddlemere’s chances being dim. Oliver commented that Roger wasn’t even on the real team so his thoughts didn’t matter. I told them both to shut up several times while deciding between fish and chips and a hearty sandwich. Madeline was quiet.
I had to hand it to her, though. She was beautiful. Long, dark blond hair. A pretty yellow summer dress. A hint of mascara. That was all she needed. I put on more makeup than that when going to the loo.
“I don’t know why you don’t like the Magpies,” Roger said simply. He ordered a round of drinks for us. Firewhiskey. Welcome to my downfall. “They’re a perfectly respectable team.”
“Who didn’t win the Cup,” Oliver noted. He hadn’t made eye contact with Roger the entire night, despite my obvious jabs on his thigh.
“Neither did Puddlemere.”
“I wasn’t on Puddlemere during the playoffs last year.”
“Wouldn’t have mattered,” Roger commented. “They didn’t make the playoffs.”
“So, Madeline,” I interjected cheerfully, shoving a piece of hair behind my ear, “How has practice been?”
She looked up, meeting my eyes with hers. “Well,” she said. “Very well. We got to practice with Roger’s team the other day, which was an adventure.”
“He’s a dirty player,” I teased.
Madeline laughed. “Is he?” she said. “I guess I didn’t really notice. He’s wonderful on a broom though.”
I nodded, taking a long sip of the firewhiskey. I was going to need it.
I did need it.
The food was long gone, but the drinks kept coming. For ages, it seemed like.
“No, no, way,” Madeline said with a giggle, leaning on the table. “There’s no way I’m admitting to something like that.”
“You did it!” Roger boomed, looking at her with his jaw hanging open. “You walked into my room and told me you wanted to shag. That’s what you said.”
“I did not!”
Roger roared with laughter. “And, by the way,” he noted to me, “This was on a road trip. So my roommate was in the hotel room with me.”
I groaned. “Did you know?”
“Of course not!” Madeline said, her face flushed red. “If I would have seen him there I wouldn’t have taken off my top.”
I gasped. Oliver choked loudly. I elbowed him.
“I’m sorry, did you tell me this girl was shy?” I asked Roger, laughing hard. “Seems to me she’s not all that shy.”
Madeline flushed scarlet at that. “Roger thinks I’m adorable and innocent,” she said.
“What do you think he is?” I took a long sip of my drink, finishing it off just as another tray came out. I helped myself. Oliver did as well. To three.
“He’s a gentleman,” Madeline said with a smirky smile. “He’s sweet and nice a great Quidditch player, even if he does play fair.”
“Yeah, right,” Oliver said, chuckling. “Fair? What did those Magpies do to him? Davies does anything it takes to win, including giving out information on my Seekers.”
“Oh, shut it, Wood,” Roger said, slamming his glass down on the table and grabbing another. “You’re just sour because I would have beaten you if my Seeker wasn’t a fucking idiot.”
“He’d sell out anyone if he could win,” Oliver said, ruffling his hair. His cheeks were very rosy and Roger and he were clearly having a contest over who could drink themselves the stupidest. I couldn’t figure out who was winning, but it was entertaining to watch. “He’d even sell out his girlfriend.”
“You wouldn’t do that,” Madeline said with a laugh. “He hasn’t done that and our teams played against each other last week.”
“Oh.” Oliver nodded. “Well, good. Did it to Jane.”
“Well, Jane’s not his girlfriend.” Madeline smiled.
“She was,” Oliver said. “Twice.”
Blink. Blink. Shit.
“We’re on a double date with your ex girlfriend?” Madeline said, her eyes moving over to Roger’s. He was gaping at her. “That’s lovely. Feel free to sell me out so you can leap over the table and give her the snog you’ve been thinking about all night. I thought I was crazy for thinking you look at her like that…”
“Maddie, stop,” Roger said, shaking his head. “Jane and I are mates. We ended on good terms. She went with Wood. Actually, she’s the one that cheated, if we’re being technical…”
I smirked at that. Worth it.
Oliver squeezed my thigh. Clearly, he thought so too.
Except not because he got up to get another drink.
“Really, Roger?” Madeline said. She shuffled around for her purse. “You took me on a date with your ex. Your pretty ex. And her Quidditch star boyfriend. What part of you thought that was a good idea?”
“The part that wanted you to meet my mate,” Roger said in disbelief. “Even though her boyfriend is a sodding git.”
“You still fancy her!” Madeline cried. A few people looked over.
“In my own defense,” I piped up, though I probably shouldn’t have, “I don’t fancy him. We’re just friends. I have the…Quidditch star boyfriend. You should know Roger well enough to know he fancies you.”
“I don’t know him well enough to know he’s a dirty Quidditch player.” The chair scraped against the floor as Madeline stood. “Or to know he was cheated on or that he’s kind of a jerk, to be honest. And he doesn’t know me well enough to know I’m not just this shy, adorable thing or whatever he said I was.” She looked down at him.
Roger was dumbstruck. His fingers were still around his empty glass.
Oliver ruffled my hair when he sat back down. “Where’re you going, Madeline?” he asked gruffly. “I was just going to give you the dirt on Dodger here. You know he likes leather-bound journals? And hates red wine. Seriously. Who could hate red wine?”
“No,” Madeline said. “I don’t know much at all.” She flipped her hair and walked out of the pub, slamming the door behind her. The conversations resumed a few seconds later, but there was a long silence at our table.
“She’s right, you know,” Roger said, frowning. He took one of Oliver’s three drinks and threw a lot of it back. “We didn’t exactly share our life history.”
“Not even enough to give her a head’s up that we dated?” I asked.
“Wasn’t this the problem you and I had?” I leaned back in the chair. Oliver was trying to wiggle all ten of his fingers at the same time.
“Lack of communication? Yeah. I’m starting to think maybe it’s me.”
“Or maybe you haven’t found the girl you want to open up with.” I shrugged. “I bet you can still catch her.”
“Do I want to?”
Roger ran his fingers through his shiny hair and downed the rest of his drink. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, I want to.” He leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before bolting.
This was probably good since Oliver swatted at him.
“Git,” he grumbled, putting an arm around me. “You’re mine. He doesn’t get to snog you.”
“That wasn’t a snog,” I insisted, leaning my head onto his shoulder. “It was a kiss on the cheek. You jealous?”
“I’m Oliver Wood. ‘Course I’m not jealous.”
“Horribly jealous then.”
I laughed. The pub was starting to thin with people putting on jackets and paying their tabs. We stayed in the booth for a few more minutes, staring at the array of empty glasses before us. “How drunk are you?”
“Drunk, Oliver. How drunk are you?” I moved my head to look into his eyes. He was leaning heavily against me, shirt wrinkled now.
“You wanna shag?”
I snorted with laughter and pulled him into a kiss. He smelled like firewhiskey, but then again, so did I. “I’m pretty sure that would be a poor life decision right now,” I teased, rubbing his nose with mine. “Let’s get you home, yeah?”
“I can’t apparate,” he said. “You wanna try being splinched? I heard it’s cool. Seriously.” He laughed. Loud.
“I’d rather not.” I scooted out of the booth and helped him to his feet. That was saying something considering being on his feet meant leaning almost entirely on me. I wrapped an arm around his middle, fingers gripping his striped shirt, and made for the exit.
“Seriously.” Oliver shoved the door open with his foot. “Let’s just shag. Right here. On the street.”
“On the street?” I asked. “You want that guy to see?” I pointed to a bloke with a long scratchy beard and four layered shirts.
“He’s just jealous.”
“Yes, clearly we are the most attractive people right now.” I rolled my eyes. Leave it to Oliver to get piss drunk and stumble down a London street. “All right, Oliver, let’s shag.”
“Janey, come on.” Oliver let out a loud whine, something I had never before witnessed. “Come on, let’s go crash Fred’s place. And George’s. They live in the same place. Two for one!”
“We’re not crashing anyone’s place,” I said, laughing. “We can’t apparate.”
“How’re we getting home?”
It was pitch dark by now and the streets were covered in a shiny glow thanks to the mixture of rain-soaked cement and various round street lamps. A few people were wandering home from the pubs or a gala (were there galas around here? I wanted to think so). Yet Oliver and I were on a street corner, me propping him on, quite a ways from his flat and mine. I frowned.
He cleared his throat. “So we gunna shag now?”
Eventually we did get home, though it was hours later. I dragged Oliver into a late night diner to get some water and coffee and we took the underground. I was never a big fan of it, especially some of the dodgy people on it, but all in all it was a good time with Oliver attempting to surf while the train moved and an older woman knitting a scarf she let me try on.
In hindsight, she could have strangled me with it and Oliver would have still been laughing like an idiot and grabbing onto people to keep surfing.
I woke up the next morning to the smell of bacon. So did Oliver, because he sat up beside me and groaned very loud, rubbing his back. “Why does everything hurt?” he grumbled.
“You surfed on a subway, tackled a bloke for a burrito, and decided you wanted to climb the stairs to the flat on all fours,” I noted, rolling over and stealing the pillow away from him.
We were in my room, both of us squeezed into my bed. Our shoes were across the room (I vaguely remembered flinging them) and the door was cracked. Dad probably looked in here and assumed we shagged. I glanced down. Fully clothed.
Oliver noticed this too. “I really don’t want you to tell me what else happened,” he said quietly. “I don’t think I want to know.”
“You don’t.” I rubbed my temples as I scooted out of the bed and slipped on some socks.
“Your dad is going to think we shagged.”
“We’re still dressed,” I said with a yawn, walking over to the mirror to attempt to flatten my hair. It wasn’t working. Another attempt. Another fail.
“You’re wearing a dress.” Oliver shrugged.
I glanced over suddenly and had to lean on the desk for support. “You think he thinks that?”
“He’s going to poison the bacon!” Oliver cried loudly.
I threw a book at him. Another bruise would probably appear soon. “My father is not going to poison the bacon.”
“Well, if he’s not going to poison it then you should get over here so we can do it,” Oliver noted with a nod. “At least if I get a dark look through breakfast I want it to be worth it.”
He got another book to the chest. “Shut up and come on. I’m hungry.”
Dad glanced over his shoulder when I shuffled into the room. He was looking cheerful. And slamming things down loudly. I wasn’t hungover, but I still had a headache. I knew Oliver must have been in a lot of pain. He made a grumbly noise and slid down at the table, placing his head on the wood.
“Morning,” I said, hugging Dad before walking over to the finished bacon and plucking a piece from the paper towel. “What’s all this?”
“I noticed you had company so I figured a decent breakfast was in order.”
“You went to the store?” I raised my brows.
“Actually, the neighbors had a pig they wanted to get rid of.”
“Not funny.” I grabbed another piece and took it to Oliver. “Sorry about not asking if it was okay.”
“I knew he was here anyway.” Dad shrugged, shaking his hair away from his face. “Ever think about being a little quieter at five in the morning? You’d think you were the worst burglars in London for chrissake. You knocked over my magazine stand, you know.”
“Sorry,” I said, face flushing. Oliver had hit his toe on the stand and yelped.
“It’s okay, I fixed it.” Dad shrugged and tossed another pile of bacon on the towel. “What did you two get up to last night anyway? Didn’t you say something about Roger? How is he, anyway?”
“In a fight with his girlfriend,” I said, moving to sit next to Oliver. He wasn’t moving. Perhaps he thought the bacon really was poison. “We had a few drinks. Couldn’t apparate back. So we took the underground.”
“In the middle of the night?” Dad wheeled around. “Jane, that’s dangerous.”
“More of a danger to everyone else that Oliver learned about train surfing,” I mumbled.
“I’m serious, Jane,” Dad said. He looked serious, which was a rarity for him. “Next time something like that happens get a hotel. I’ll reimburse you for the money. I don’t want you riding around on the underground at four in the morning.”
“Speaking of being out all night,” Dad said, going back to the pan and tossing more strips on, “He doesn’t look very well for his game this weekend. Better eat up.”
“I don’t want poison,” Oliver grumbled.
“Oliver, if I wanted to poison you it would have been done while you were in my daughter’s bed snoring so loud I had to put a charm on my door,” Dad said without turning around. “Excited for the game?”
“Nervous.” Oliver forced himself to sit up, clearly in pain. “Everything else has been for a fundraiser or an exhibition game or something stupid. It hasn’t been real. This is real, you know? The real first game. This is where everyone tries.”
“You think they weren’t trying during the exhibition game?” I asked.
“This is serious.”
“And that wasn’t?”
“More serious,” Oliver corrected. “I’m freaked out. If I suck, they’ll stop paying me.”
“Will your parents be there?” Dad asked. He flipped the pieces. “I’d like to eventually meet them.”
I snorted. “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” Not since I told them off in their own dining room. Which Oliver still didn’t know about. And didn’t need to know about. Ever. Forever.
“They hate me,” I said simply with a shrug. I grabbed an apple out of the basket in the middle of the table.
“They do not,” Dad said. “Who could hate you? That’s impossible.”
Libby. Bridget. Probably Ellis at times. Madeline now.
“She’s right.” Oliver frowned. There were bags under his eyes I’d just noticed. “They really aren’t fond of her. But it’s not her fault. They’re just upset I don’t want to marry some rich daughter of the chunky owner of the Arrows or something. Honestly, who would? That’s probably why they’re in abundance.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me.” Dad shrugged. “Jane’s a brilliant person. I raised her to be brilliant.”
“Trust me, I know that.” His hand found mine. “And she makes it known no one else is to be making eyes at me.”
“Unless they want you to sign something and then talk about how adorable I am,” I noted. “Let’s not forget the exceptions to the rule.”
The box was, once again, decked out in a feast in comparison to the contents of my fridge at home (even including the bacon). A mountain of food was propped on the white linens and everyone made a bee-line for it the second we walked in. It was a warm summer day, the kind where boys without shirts weren’t uncommon, and George was a perfect display of that.
“You look like a twat,” Katie mumbled, helping herself to a slice of orange. She paused to squeeze his arm muscle. “An attractive twat.”
“Just the kind I’d like to be.” George kissed her on the cheek.
We were there a little late so most of the crowd had already found their seats. An anxious hum was echoing through the stadium and the typical advertisements were seen on the jumbo screen. Typical Quidditch match. But this was different. This was my boyfriend’s first professional match. And he was petrified.
“Jane,” Oliver whispered, his hands tight around mine. He had asked us to visit him before heading up to the box and we met him in the hall next to the locker rooms. Thank you, VIP passes. Though they could have dressed them up a little more with a bow or something. “If I don’t do well, please don’t hate me.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “Have you seen you play?”
“Not like this.”
I rolled my eyes. “Take a breath, Oliver. You’re going to be fine.”
There was sweat on his brow. He kept trying to wipe it away with the back of his hand. “What if I’m not?”
“You will be.”
“And if I’m not?”
“If you’re not,” I said, placing my palm on his cheek, “Then I’ll still love you. I’ll still snog you. And I’ll probably still shag you tonight.” I shot him a playful wink.
I kissed him and Fred made a gagging noise from a few meters away where he was trying to feel up Angelina. “Don’t worry,” I said softly. “You’re an amazing Quidditch player. And if all else fails, try bossing around the other team like you’re the captain. It’ll confuse them.”
“I’m good at that,” Oliver noted, leaning down to press his forehead against mine. “I love you.”
I smirked. “Love you too.” I kissed him again and patted him on the cheek. “Now go win a Quidditch match so we can have celebratory sex.”
He beamed at that, waved good-bye to the rest of the group, and disappeared into the locker rooms.
I wasn’t nervous for him. Oliver had a way of performing under pressure. He was a great Quidditch star and he was great at Hogwarts, great at practice, and great in both the exhibition game and the fundraiser game. He was going to be fine.
I took a seat at the front of the box with Fred and Ang, balancing my plate of fattening food on my knee. The refs were taking a practice lap around the pitch and fans were booing. It was just what you did. Boo the refs. One collective effort for fans of both teams.
And then the chants started. Puddlemere was playing the Arrows, which Katie was uncomfortable with since her mum worked for the Arrows. But she said she was there to support Oliver. And snog George’s face off, which she was doing a great job of thus far. They were tucked in a corner exchanging saliva.
“I mean, I know Arrows are like…tough…but unless someone is shooting it, it’s kind of weak, isn’t it?”
Fred asked. “Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to go up against an arrow in a fight. But if it’s just sort of laying there…I’m good, right? You think I’d be good?”
Ang chuckled. “Knowing you? You’d trip.”
“Brilliant.” Fred wrinkled his nose. “Then I’d break it in half and it would multiply and there would be little baby arrows everywhere.”
Ang coughed loudly. “Yeah. Baby arrows.”
I snorted with laughter and tried to turn it into a cough. Didn’t work. Rarely did, actually. I glanced over my shoulder. Alicia was helping herself to more food. Lee was poking George repeatedly in the bum. George was swatting at him, but not breaking the kiss. Skillful.
“What?” Fred said, looking back and forth between us. “What’s funny?” He looked out at the pitch. “No one fell…”
The players soared into the air and the crowd went crazy with chants and horn blasts and jeers.
“What’s funny?” Fred repeated.
“Look at that woman’s hair!” I said, pointing at a woman. Unfortunately, she had regular brown hair and it was straight. Not at all extravagant.
“It looks like hair.” Fred stood up, leaning against the rail to face both of us. “Do I have something in my teeth?” He raised a ginger brow, staring us down.
Oliver held up his hand as the crowd started screaming for him. He was on the jumbo screen with a giant grin. But he was nervous. His eyes gave it away. I liked that about him. That his big, brown eyes were so telling. I let out a whoop.
“I thought I was pregnant,” Angelina blurted.
Fred choked loudly. “Say what?”
“At the spa,” she said, her face flushed like she’d run a kilometer. “I was throwing up and I thought I was pregnant. I took a test.”
“Godric,” Fred breathed, clutching his chest. “Are you? Are you pregnant? Oh my god, I’m going to be a father.” He slid down onto the floor, eyes wide. His chest was heaving. “I’m going to be a dad. I’m so young. I’m only seventeen. I had so much going for me.” He paused. “We should name it Fred.”
“I knew you would say that!” Ang cried. “And no, I’m not. That’s why I said I thought I was.”
“You sure?” Fred glanced up at her. He was sweating.
“Of course I’m sure.”
“Because you’re getting a little chunky lately…”
Angelina kicked him hard on the shin. “I am not!” she cried. He rubbed his leg. “And yes, I’m quite sure I’m not pregnant. I took a test.” She ran her fingers through her hair. The crowd was still screaming for each of the players as their names were announced. “Do you do the charm?”
Fred nodded. “Oh, that charm,” he said. “Yeah, ‘course I do. First thing they teach you growin’ up, isn’t it? Always use the charm.”
“Oh.” Ang’s blush was back. “Well, good.”
“Did you really take a test?” Fred asked, moving up to his knees. He scooted over so he was in front of Angelina, resting between her legs as he put his hands on her hips. “You really thought you were pregnant?”
“I threw up during a massage.”
“You should get your money back.”
She smirked. “Did you want to run?” she asked.
Fred shook his head. “No,” he said quietly. “I wanted to name it Fred.”
“What if it was a girl?” Ang teased, kissing the tip of his nose.
“You two know each other too well,” I grumbled, sitting back in the chair and looking out at Oliver. He had taken his position by the hoops and was tightening his Keeper gloves.
Godric, he looked handsome.
Every other girl seemed to think so too. Sure, there were signs for all of the Puddlemere players. But Oliver, by far, had the most glittery signs proposing to him or wanting to have his baby (“He could name his Fred then,” Ang noted) or just wanting a good snog.
Too bad, ladies. Oliver Wood was a taken man. And he would remain that way until he fucked things up or I fucked things up or one of us lost our memory. Or got bored. I didn’t like the thought of any of those options, so I just thought about Oliver without a shirt. That worked.
He really wasn’t someone I expected to want to be with. I spent my first five years of school contemplating sweet boys without temper problems. Hell, I had a crush on Lee at one point. But mostly celebrities in magazines, ripping out pictures and asking Katie for her spellotape to stick them to the wall above my bed. We all did it. We lived in this fantasy world where boys wore white ties and tossed their cloaks over puddles so we didn’t have to walk through them. Growing up in a hormone-filled dormitory would do that to any girl.
Oliver had traits that were never on that list we gushed about during late nights with ice cream and the faint odor of nail polish surrounding us. Stubborness. Temper. Sarcasm. Selfishness.
Though his body was pretty much spot on.
But it was through that ruthless process of being with Roger and falling for Oliver that I realized I didn’t want that fairy tale. A scarlet and gold tie was just fine. I probably would have made fun of Oliver had he put his cloak over a puddle. The umbrella was just fine.
So when the game started and Oliver made his first glorious save, arms outstretched, I screamed with the rest of the fan girls. The difference was, I got to go home with him. And they got to spellotape his picture above their beds.
“How’s the game?” George plopped down on my other side a little while later, his plate full of crab cakes.
“You’d know if you didn’t have Katie’s lipstick all over you,” I noted. Katie turned pink. “I would have at least picked a gloss.”
“Shut it.” Katie moved her long hair away from her face and tried to concentrate on the game. She was fiddling with her thumbs. “I quite like lipstick.”
“You quite like snogging George,” Ang said, laughing.
“So what?” Fred said impatiently. “What are you two, anyway? Obsessive snoggers? Perpetual saliva-exchangers? Something else cleverly thought up be me that I can’t think of?”
George shrugged. “She’s my girlfriend.”
“What?” That came from me, Fred, Angelina, Lee and Alicia by the food table, and, of course, Katie.
George shrugged again. “What?” he said. “I mean, if she’ll have me.”
We looked at Katie. Her face was now the color of the hangings in Gryffindor’s common room.
“Will you have him?” Fred said, moving to sit on his knees on the chair.
“I—” Katie’s eyes were wide as she looked back and forth between us (Alicia and Lee had joined us by now since this was a more interesting development than the food) and George. “I mean…look how it ended…” She twisted a finger into her hair.
“Katie.” George reached over and took her hands in his. He squeezed them. “This isn’t about what we did over the summer. It’s not about being people we weren’t or fighting over stupid things or a lack of communication between us. It’s about just us.” He cleared his throat. “It’s about all the amazing times we had last year. Playing Quidditch. Sneaking off to the back of the library where those poofy chairs are and having a snog. Staying up way too late talking in the Gryffindor common room because our roommates were asleep.” He leaned in, moving the rogue hair back behind her ear since it was a little windy. “I love you, Katie. I will always love you, whether there’s a title on it or not.”
“Why don’t you say things like that?” whispered Ang.
“We have a title. I’ve got you and almost knocked you up.” Fred snickered. He got elbowed.
Katie stared into his eyes, her brows creasing. She bit down on her bottom lip gently. “All right then,” she said in a timid voice. “Yeah. Yeah, all right.”
“Is that a yes?” George was grinning. Which looked ridiculous considering he was still without a shirt.
Katie nodded, her face still a rosy pink as George pulled her into a sweaty hug. She yelped, but he didn’t let go.
For a long time.
The game was going better than I even expected. By a half hour in, Oliver had saved everything. He had one near miss and a lucky dodge of a Bludger (and then screamed at Liam, who was also looking dishy out there), but he had come out on top. Puddlemere had scored three times, each time erupting cheers so loud they echoed in my ears.
Lee spent the better part of ten minutes doing replays of Oliver’s saves. He was strangely accurate.
I excused myself to the restroom around the forty-five minute mark, walking out into the corridor. It wasn’t like the swanky one at the World Cup. It was built out of cement and had some concessions every few boxes, but it was still nicer than battling the crowds below. Oliver told me about the renovations that were planned to the stadium once Puddlemere started winning. All new floors, comfortable club seats, perks for season ticket holders. And Oliver could be the key to the whole thing.
I walked out of the restroom and glanced around. A few people here or there, but for the most part everyone was glued to the game. Another roar indicated Puddlemere had scored.
I moved past a few of the boxes. Arrows families. Executives for Puddlemere. Other players out having a good time since their games didn’t start for another few days. Random people I didn’t recognize in suits.
I paused, stepping back to stare into that box. The group of people were sipping martinis with their pinkies out. And among them were Mr. and Mrs. Wood. My jaw fell.
Did Oliver know there were here?
I sank back against the wall, out of sight. Why would they come? They didn’t like Puddlemere, didn’t like Oliver playing for Puddlemere, and certainly weren’t on good terms with him. Or me. Me especially. If they knew I was lurking outside the door they would probably hex me. And then the girls wouldn’t know I was dead until they checked the bathroom to see if I’d fallen in. Which I hadn’t. Because Mrs. Wood had offed me without the aid of her precious, terribly cooked vegetables.
“He’s doing quite well,” said a woman in a black blazer. She had a severe hair cut and dark eyes. “He’s saved everything so far. He was trained well.”
“He was.” Mr. Wood offered a gruff nod. “He was the Captain at school for several years. Signed right out of Hogwarts. Almost unheard of.”
“It is,” agreed the woman. “You must be so proud.”
“Mhm.” Mr. Wood cleared his throat. “He does well for himself.”
“I’m sure the ladies enjoy all of the articles about him in Quidditch Weekly,” stated another woman with a giggle. Drunk.
“You mean you do,” said the first woman with a laugh.
Mrs. Wood helped herself to another martini. “Yes, after his showing in the exhibition game, the press has become quite fond of him and the rest of the team. I’ve even been asked a few questions about his childhood, which I have declined to answer.”
“Aw, really?” said the giggly drunk woman. “I would have told them all about him being naked in a bubbly sink.”
“My son’s life is as private as he wants it to be.” Mrs. Wood swirled her drink around. “Besides, Oliver has a girlfriend.”
“They’re still together?” Giggly drunk woman was clearly not my biggest fan. “I thought since they broke up before they’d just break up again.”
“Clearly that’s not the case.”
Did she just stick up for me? One minute she was going to kill me and the next she stuck up for me? Odd.
“Unfortunate. Well, I’m sure my daughter can wait a little longer to snag your son.” Giggly drunk woman, well, giggled. She looked as if she was going to spill the drink and the olive all down her front.
“I don’t think Oliver feels that way about Bridget,” Mrs. Wood said and I almost choked. “But I’m sure they’re wonderful friends.”
“Don’t be stupid. He asked her to the fundraiser dinner.”
“And left alone.” Mrs. Wood’s tone was now short and showed a lack of amusement.
“He would be lucky to have Bridget.”
“Lucky to die early,” Mr. Wood mumbled from beside his wife. “Girl is a bloody terror.”
I stared, completely unsure of what to think.
“Excuse me,” Giggly drunk woman said. “I have to use the restroom.”
Shit! I wheeled around, desperate for a place to hide or to race back to my box, when I ran into someone tall and bulky. With dark hair. And a charming grin.
“Peter!” I cried, grabbing his hand. “Come on!”
Peter laughed, rubbing his chest where I’d run into him, and followed me past the restrooms and into a small hallway between two boxes. He gaped at me. “What’s going on?” he said. “Why are we running?”
I leaned against the wall, catching my breath. “I was eavesdropping,” I said, laughing a little. “And doing poorly at an escape plan.”
“I see that.” He peeked around the corner and then looked back at me. “Fancy meeting you here, Jane Perry.”
“I could say the same.” I glanced over at the large, glass window where the game was going on. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“Some of the Magpies blokes got a box since our first game isn’t for another week,” he replied.
“Is Roger here?”
“No.” Peter shook his head. “He’s doing some training since one of the Chasers has been in and out and he might have to play. But I’m sure he’d send his love.”
I wondered what became of him and Madeline. I hadn’t heard from him since, which worried me. Maybe she forbid him from contacting me? That sounded stupid. Roger wasn’t that stupid. He was too cute for that. I glanced at Peter. “How have you been?” I asked. “Those facials served you well.”
“Very funny.” He smirked and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve been well. Missing the wild company I had at a certain hotel spa, but I’ve been able to get through it with a bottle of firewhiskey and romantic comedy reruns.”
I nudged him. “I missed you too.”
“So you think you’re going to play at all this season?” Peter asked, shoving his hands in his pockets. Why was he so damn attractive?
“Godric, I hope not,” I said before I could think about it. It was the truth, though.
“If you do, will you shoot me an owl? I’d like to be there.”
“You could be there anyway.” I shrugged. “Sit with me in the stands? Roger used to, but all the rest of my mates either play or commentate. So I don’t have much of a group to sit with and make fun of how ugly the Hufflepuff robes are.” I laughed.
“Deal.” Peter grinned at me. He looked out at the game. “I should let you get back to your friends.”
“I probably should go back since I left like twenty minutes ago for the loo.” I wrinkled my nose. Something Peter did not need to know. “Anyway. Yeah. I should go.” I smiled nervously.
“Tell Wood I send my love,” Peter said with a smirky smile, leaning forward and kissing me on the cheek. “It was brilliant seeing you, Jane.” He gave me a nod and left, turning the other way toward wherever his box was.
God, why did they have to be that attractive?
I shrugged it off, willing away the curiosity of seeing Peter without clothes on, and walked back to my own box. Katie and George were back to snogging, but were half-watching while they were occupied. Fred was getting a huge plate of shrimp. Ang was leaning on the railing shouting something profane at the refs. Lee was shaking his fist as she yelled. But he was laughing. Alicia moved next to me, putting her hand on my arm.
“Who did you see?” she asked. “You’ve been gone too long. At the Cup it was Roger. Was Dodger out there? How about Mr. P?”
“No, my father wasn’t out there.” I rolled my eyes. “Unfortunate for you and your hormones.”
“A girl can dream.” Alicia shrugged.
“I saw Peter.”
She gasped. “Peter!” she cried. “I love Peter! Let’s go find Peter! I want him to try out this drink I invented last weekend! He would love it.”
“He’s back in his box,” I said with a laugh, leading her toward the comfy sofas at the front of the box. “But he sends his love.”
“I’m taking all of it,” Alicia said with a nod. “Don’t tell Ang and Katie. They don’t get any of it. It’s mine.”
“You can have it.” I snickered, nudging her with my hip and plopped down. “He’s doing well through. Roger’s not here.” I decided not to tell her about the Woods. I hadn’t told anyone that I’d gone off on them. I probably wouldn’t. That was for Oliver. He deserved their respect.
“I miss Dodger.”
“Me too,” I said. It made me nervous – not hearing from him. “I’m going to miss him at school.”
“Maybe he can come down for a few Hogsmeade weekends,” Alicia suggested. “We can see Roger be a lush again. Remember that time the two of you were dating and Fred and George had that party? Dodger got so drunk he was stumbling over everything and giggling like an idiot? I’d like to do a replay evening of that. With a camera in hand.”
“I’ll ask him if he’d like to be a volunteer lush,” I noted.
“Do that,” Alicia said with a nod. “While you’re at it, ask Mr. P.”
I elbowed her hard.
The game was a brutal showing of four Beaters trying their best to win. It wasn’t high-scoring, though there were a lot of opportunities. Oliver made a lot of amazing saves. He missed a couple, slamming his hand down on the front of his broom as the Arrows celebrated. But the key was the Snitch catch. When the Puddlemere Seeker came out of the dive, Snitch clasped tightly in his hand, the stadium went into an uproar. It was celebrating like I hadn’t heard in a while.
It occurred to me Puddlemere fans had quite little to celebrate in the last several years.
I watched as Oliver threw his hands in the air, triumphant expression of glee on his face. Liam crashed into Michelle, kissing her hard. The rest of the team clumped into a ball of brooms and hugs. The Arrows slumped off the pitch, brooms dragging behind them.
Camera flashes were everywhere.
I could barely get through to the locker rooms. I kept shoving press out of the way and kept my head down. I didn’t want anyone to recognize me. Luckily, I got to the front after falling victim to an array of bruises by camera equipment and elbows.
“Thank you,” the guard said when he saw my pass. The rest of the group opted to stay back in the hallway so they weren’t run over by the media. The guard opened the door for me and I walked down a long hallway covered in the previous greats of Puddlemere. A lot of them had square jaws and charming smiles.
I pushed open the door to the main locker room. Everyone was already dressed and champagne corks littered the floor. They were drinking out of tiny plastic cups.
“Jane!” Oliver cried, rushing over to me, pulling me into a hug, and spinning me around. “Did you see that?”
“I did!” I laughed, kissing him as I put my arms around his neck. “You were brilliant!”
“I was!” Oliver laughed, his eyes glassy as he beamed. “I can’t believe it. That was insane. Did you hear that crowd?”
“I was part of that crowd,” I said, feeling my feet find the floor again.
The room was huge, lined with mahogany lockers and displays of equipment. There was a giant Puddlemere rug in the center and doors to two separate showers to the left and right.
“Jane, this is insane.” Oliver was still grinning like an idiot. “I can’t believe this happened. My first professional game. I wiped the pitch with those Arrows.”
“I had nothing to do with it,” Liam chimed, laughing.
“You were brilliant,” Oliver noted with a grin. Clearly now that Liam was snogging Michelle, Oliver didn’t hate him quite as much. “Michelle, you as well.”
She walked up with a grin. “Oh, I know that,” she said. “How’s the press look out there?”
I held up my arm, which was already bruising. “Good luck,” I said.
“I’ll probably just head out the back,” Liam said with a shrug. “I’ve dealt with enough press in my life.” He glanced at me for a moment. “Plus I want to snog my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend?” I raised my brow with a knowing smirk.
“She agreed to date me if we won our first game.” Liam snickered and Michelle flushed scarlet. Clearly that was not supposed to be public information. “I win.”
Michelle grabbed his arm and steered him back toward her locker. She had a few words with him, pointing in a disapproving way, but then Liam pushed her against the locker and kissed her hard. She didn’t fight it.
I looked at Oliver. “What about you then?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Oliver wrinkled his nose in an adorable way. “That sounds a little overwhelming. I don’t want you to have to be out there in that.”
“Oliver,” I said with a bit of a sigh, “You just won your first professional Quidditch match. You deserve every person being out there for you. C’mon. We’ll make it fun.”
How could it not be fun? Dozens of reporters out there waiting to take a picture of him or get a quote. His grinning face on the front page of a sports section. Oliver deserved all of it.
For all of the choices he made as a captain. For knowing how to build a team, how to be a leader, and most of all, how to be a Keeper.
“Your parents are here,” I noted in a quiet voice.
He shrugged on his just-for-show jersey and looked down at me. “Really?”
I nodded. “They were in a box a few down from me,” I said.
“Good.” He raked his fingers through his hair, brown eyes on me. “They say anything to you?”
I shook my head. “But they’re proud of you.”
“How do you know?”
“I just know.” I leaned up on my toes and kissed his cheek. “Come on. Let’s go make you famous.”
Oliver’s talking to the press took ages, but it was amazing. I’d never seen him that happy before. That free from the pressure of getting signed or of the disappointment from his father. He had a great time. He gushed about his saves in a professional way, posed for some pictures, and even spent some time letting one of the reporters down easy as he explained that yes, we were still together and no, he couldn’t possibly go on a date with her, but she was very pretty. She seemed to think that was enough.
I even got to pose in some photos with Oliver, especially after they egged us on for a kiss. We did so and the camera flashes were blinding.
It was an experience I’d never forget.
Later that night, there were no camera flashes or reporters asking personal questions. Instead, it was Oliver and I in his bed, our bodies tangled in the white sheets. He smiled up at me, his eyelids sinking lazily. “I love you,” he said matter-of-factly.
“I know,” I teased, kissing his nose. “And I put up with you.”
He gripped my sides and squeezed, sending me into shrieking giggles. “You do more than tolerate me.”
“It’s because you look good without a shirt.” I smirk, swatting his hands away.
Oliver snickered, pulling me up onto his chest and holding me there tight. He leaned up and kissed me. “We’re going to make this work,” he said with a nod. “The whole year. You’re going to write to me and whine about how annoying Fred is being about your legs. I’m going to write back about how Bridget is being an insufferable git strutting around in a bikini while Michelle pretends to throw up everywhere.”
“And then I will write back giving you detailed instructions on how to get rid of her,” I noted with a cheeky grin. “And you will write back and tell me how you’ve done it.”
“We work so well.”
“I love you too,” I said quietly, kissing him again.
A/N: I would like to say thank you again to everyone who has left a review or read this story. It has been amazing to write and has inspired my other stories as well as gained me a lot of friends. As of right now, Hide & Seek will have 43 chapters, which is 4 more. Yes, that could possibly change, but as of right now that's what it's sitting at.
For anyone curious, I am also working on a Fred II/OC story that will be out very shortly. Please ask if you would like additional information.
Also, feel free to tell me your favorite quotes :) I'm already nostalgic this story is coming to a close. Thoughts on Roger and Madeline? Drunk Oliver?
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