A/N: Four words: Hey. Don't read ahead. :grins:

Oliver's POV

Chapter Twenty-Two: Chocolate And Quidditch

Growing up on the emerald isle of Scotland, boys were raised to be men. We learned to cook our own meals. We worked hard for our daily allowances. We were taught good manners and the correct way to woo the opposite sex. We even washed our own kilts.

Somehow, we were never taught how to scrub a stinking pile of vomit out of our school robes.

This shall be one of the first things my future sons shall learn. It must be one of the most important life lessons ever. I don't know how How-To-Be-A-Strapping-Scottish-Man School missed out on it.

"Merlin's beard," Katie whimpered again, wringing the front of her unsoiled robes into a crushed-up mess. "I'm so sorry...I really am...are you sure you don't want me to -"

"Katie," I interrupted, "I'm fine." No I'm not. "I'll wash it myself." No I bloody well will not! "Really." Dammit.

Curse you and your Scottish gentlemanliness, Oliver Fransisco Wood. (Esquire!) Curse you.

"Isn't this one of those times you wish the school hadn't spelled all our uniforms to be magic-resistant?" Angelina said wistfully. "Well, you can't really blame them, after that stunt Fred and George played with those Vanishing Spells of theirs," Adelene said, screwing up her face in disgust at the memory of a group of Slytherin third-years striding into the Great Hall appearing to be butt-naked. Katie made a face - how cute - no, wait, I wasn't supposed to be thinking that - but immediately resumed her fretting over my robes.

"Look, Katie," I quickly said, if only to get her to smile again. "It's fine, really - I'll just go change and get it washed later. All it needs is a good soak and a prayer for the house-elves to get back to Hogwarts fast," I grinned.

"Well -" Katie hesitated. "I'll go with you - no, really, I insist-"

"Oliver!" a very familiar voice suddenly said in slight surprise, and I looked up to see Lindsay walking in our little group's direction. Her hair was tied back in a neat ponytail - impeccable, as always - and her robes looked as if they had been ironed six times this morning alone. Impeccable, as always. I stole a glance at Katie, with strands of hair falling into her eyes and looking as if she had just rolled out of bed (which, I was guessing, she probably had) and had to resist the urge to giggle.

In a manly way, of course.

I'm a Scotsman!

"I saved you your favourite cereal...and since you didn't show up I came looking for you...what...?"

"Oh." I gestured to my robes and grinned ruefully at her. "Well, er, this...I kind of got, well, held up..."

I quickly looked over at Katie to reassure her that it really was nothing before she started having a panic attack again - and noticed that she was staring at Lindsay with one of the strangest expressions I had ever seen on a human visage.

It was sort of...a cross between a cat during labour and a giant squid suffering from diarrhoea. (This last expression I recognize because the giant squid had suffered from a particularly nasty bout of diarrhoea during my first year at Hogwarts, after which my sense of smell was never the same.)

Even for Katie, who, you know, was normally quite abnormal, this was really pushing it for her standards.

Before I could ask her what was wrong, though, Lindsay walked right up to me and pulled at the sleeve of my robes. "Here, take it off and go change into another one, I'll go work on this for you -"

"NO!"

There was silence. I thought I heard a bird lay an egg in the distance.

"Katie!" Alicia exclaimed as quietly as she could, but seeing as no one else seemed to even be breathing, all of us heard her loud and clear.

Katie looked mortified. She seemed to be searching for something to say, then finally burst out, "Oliver - no, it's okay, Lindsay, I'll get his robes for him -"

And she pointed her wand at me and muttered something under her breath...which caused the Magic-Resistant Charm on my robes to immediately react, turning my robes hot pink and letting out a high, shrill whistle before bursting into flames.

"GAH - MERLIN'S - GAH!" I yelled, immediately undoing the clasp on my robes and flinging them onto the floor. With a quick point of her wand , Lindsay put the fire out, leaving my robes seemingly untouched - barf stains and all.

"...What kind of fire was that?" Angelina asked in awe. "It didn't hurt you, did it?"

"No," I scowled, brushing myself off. "It itched."

And I didn't think I needed to tell her where.

Lindsay sighed and picked my robes up gingerly. "Go on, Oliver, I'll take care of this..."

I sighed; right then I was so hungry I just didn't care any more. "Fine, fine...I'll see you later, Linds...ladies..." I mumbled half-heartedly, and turned around to face the Fat Lady's portrait.

I had just opened my mouth to tell her the password when someone tapped my shoulder. I turned around to see Katie, her face now bright red, standing right behind me.

"Merlin, Oliver, I'm sorry -" she quickly said before I could get any words out, "I just wanted to help and I just - I just ended up - turning your robes pink and making you itch in the nether regions and I just - I'm just - I'm really, really sorry!"

Well, HELL YES, you ought to be. I don't know if you've ever experienced itching in your nether regions, or even if you have any nether regions to speak of, but it is not by any means a pleasant sensation! Not at all! So I don't appreciate your magic, and my nether regions don't, either! In fact - why the QUIDDITCH am I referring to my nether regions as my..nether regions?

This is bloody what bloody Katie bloody Bell does to you. She bloody gives you bloody speech bloody impediments. Bloody.

"Oh, Katie, I'm sure it's alright...In fact, you know what, I think you can help!" Lindsay suddenly exclaimed, with a huge beam on her face.

She can?

"Oh, this is just fantastic!" Lindsay beamed radiantly at each of us in turn.

Does this help involve Katie using magic?

"Katie, you'll love this," Lindsay continued, still grinning.

Magic of any sort at all?

"Oliver, so will you!" Lindsay added...still grinning her head off.

This is not looking good.

"Katie, why don't you take over my tutoring session with Oliver this evening? Today was supposed to be our first lesson, but since the two of you never really got to have a final class together, why don't you just take the opportunity to...you know. Bond!"

What!

It was only after I thought this that I realized I had said this out loud as well - in unison with Katie, Angelina, Adelene and Alicia. We all stared at Lindsay as if she was crazy, and quite honestly I had no idea how any of the three As were involved in any of this, but apparently they considered themselves personally attached to my personal life somehow.

"Oh, I know, it's such a great idea, isn't it?" Lindsay went on happily, apparently oblivious to the stares we were all giving her. "I'll use the time to soak Oliver's robes in something very non-magical, and since you two never really had the time to say goodbye properly, this would be your perfect opportunity! Katie, I'm sure Oliver would prefer you tutoring him to me, you know," she added with a wink.

"I - er -" I stammered, at a loss for words.

Katie's friends could only stand and stare at what I'm sure they considered the source of their next forty-nine girl talk sessions.

Girl talk.

Shudder.

"Oh, Lindsay...that's very generous of you, but -" Katie began, but was cut off by a beaming Lindsay: "I know!"

And with a cheery wave, she set off on her way to wherever it is permanently happy witches like her go to when they feel like being righteous, trailing my dirty robes behind her.

There was silence once again, and this time I could have sworn I heard an ant burp.

Finally, Angelina spoke up.

"What drugs is that girl on and where can I get some!"

.:22:.22:.22:.

I stared at the floor. I stared at my fingernails (darn, one was broken. How utterly unmetrosexual). I stared at the foot of a nearby table. I stared at Neville Longbottom's retreating back as he attempted to hop up the stairs leading to his dormitory - if I wasn't mistaken, he had just managed to step on his own foot somehow - Merlin knows how that happened - and he was now wincing in pain with every hop he took. I attempted to lick my nose.

Opposite me, Katie was staring at a paper clip as if it contained the secrets to the universe.

Since Neville had gone, we were now the only people left in the Gryffindor common room. Which meant that our little class was about to begin. Or at least, it was supposed to, but my tutor looked far too preoccupied with a paper clip at that given moment...

"Er...Katie?" I ventured tentatively. Her head jerked up to look at me like she had only just noticed I was there. "Er...I guess we should start now."

She muttered something about a "look" to herself, whatever that was supposed to mean, but then I must have misheard her. Maybe she said...book. Yeah, that makes far more sense.

So I pushed my copy of A Hideously Boring Unending History of Some Crap Wizarding Blokes over to her, and cleared my throat expectantly. (Okay, so that's not what the book was called, but I like to name my books. It gives them a personal touch, you know. And I find my title so much more close to the truth. Scotsmen are honest!)

She stared at the cover of my book for a few seconds, blinked, and then looked back at me. "Oh, you mean you want to - ohhh. Yeah, okay, erm, right...I'm helping...yes, I am..." she mumbled distractedly, and quickly began flipping through the book for something or other.

Roiiiiiight.

If I didn't know her so well, I'd probably be backing my chair away from her right about now. But, you know, she's normal.

But juuust in case.

I winced as my chair made a scraping noise on the parquet floor as I pushed it back.

Katie looked back up at me, frowning slightly. "What are you doing? Here - read this bit on Matilda Gripshaw and I'll give you a test on it in ten minutes," she instructed, pushing the book back over to me.

I nodded and my eyes fell onto the subtopic I was supposed to be studying - but somehow found I couldn't concentrate.

Big fat hairy surprise.

If I had to be honest, I really didn't know how I felt about Katie at that moment. We hadn't really spoken since the incident at Christmas...and I could barely remember what I had yelled at her in the pharmacy but I was sure they mustn't have been anything good. Sure, I had been upset, and for good reason, too. Seeing her with her arms wrapped around that ponce like that...

But then, the very next day, I received an owl from Kare, Katie's brother. It was his parents' owl he had obviously stolen, and in the letter he wrote he explained that Tom or Dick or Harry or Bertha or whatever the hell that ponce's name had been was an old family friend who had just fancied Katie for as long as he could remember. Katie didn't fancy him at all, he said. Or at least he guessed.

(I rather thought that might be true, though, because that Bertha had been one ugly piece of work.)

After that letter, I never really had the courage to go up to Katie and...well, apologize. What was I supposed to say? "I'm sorry, I was just in love with you and wanted to knock some sense into your head. Literally. Same goes with Bertha because YOU. ARE. MINE!"

You see my dilemma.

Anyway, it wouldn't have mattered because Katie obviously didn't feel about me the same way I felt about her. This thought alone killed me so badly that I didn't think I would be able to spend any more time alone with her without wanting to propose marriage or something of the sort - so I had asked Professor McGonagall for a switch of tutors.

Ah, yes, speaking of Lindsay...

"Um, so...I guess Lindsay was really nice to let us have this last session together, huh?" I said weakly, knowing as I said it how completely untrue this was, but all I wanted to do was fill the glaring silence between the two of us.

To my surprise, Katie gave me one of the deathiest glares I had ever seen.

"..Right. Lindsay."

I blinked. "What?"

Katie took a deep breath, and pushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. "Yeah. She's...nice, alright." Then she muttered so softly I could barely hear it, "So are root canals."

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?" I interjected a little angrily, feeling annoyed. What right did she have to talk like that about someone she barely knew?

She looked a bit guilty for a second, as if she hadn't been expected to be overheard, but then drew herself up and said clearly, "You heard me. ..Apparently. I don't like her. I don't expect I ever will. I think she's an absolute cow. I don't care if she knows, and I certainly don't care if you know. She's going to die one day of niceness asphyxiation and I can't say I care. And I don't care how close the two of you get, or what you two do when you're together, or how you feel about each other - I don't care at all, and I will not be jealous, and if you two start snogging right in front of me I will simply turn my back on you and walk away because I WILL NOT CARE."

...Que?

"Now read what you're supposed to and stop overhearing things you're not supposed to overhear."

With that, she pulled out her wand and conjured herself a large goblet of pumpkin juice, glaring at me the whole time as if daring me to say something. She looked rather dangerous, so I thought it would be wise not to.

I looked down at my book again to read about how Matilda Gripshaw had attempted to tame a chimaera and merely ended up getting her head bitten off, but my head was swimming with entirely unrelated facts.

Katie thought Lindsay was…what?

Katie thought Lindsay and I were...what?

"Test time!" Katie suddenly snapped, grabbing my book back from me, jerking me out of my thoughts. I was sure not two minutes had passed.

"Question one: When was Matilda Gripshaw born, and what were the unusual circumstances of her birth that led to her campaigning for chimaera rights?"

"Katie, Lindsay and I are -"

"Wrong! Question two: How did the Ministry of Magic react to the Gripshaw Decree of 1552?"

"The both of us are-"

"WRONG! Question three: What was the public's misinformed opinion of Matilda Gripshaw's work in Greece?"

"Katie! You don't -"

"Wrong again question four when will you learn to leave it!"

Katie and I stared at each other for a few breathless moments, our chests heaving with the exertion of our screaming match.

"I've had enough," Katie finally said evenly, getting up and turning to go, throwing my book back to me with some difficulty since it was so heavy and nearly hitting my head with it. I wasn't sure if she had bad aim or a very good one.

"Katie."

"You're going to fecking fail History of Magic."

"Katie! Lindsay - and - I - are - just - friends."

"Yeah, I'm sure you are," Katie retorted, giving me a withering look. "You bloody liar."

"Okay, you know what?" I replied, and stood up to remind her who was taller than who. I was getting pissed now, and she wasn't doing anything to help matters. "You're right. I am lying."

Katie looked like she was about to yell something back in reply, but paused in shock when she registered what I had just said.

"..What?"

"I am lying. We're not just friends. We're a lot more than that," I told her.

The look on her face would have broken a few hearts, and I felt a small sense of triumph, that I had finally gotten to her after seventeen years. And then I realized what I had just thought, and felt guilty beyond belief.

What was I doing?

"I'm - I'm g- I don't care. I don't care. Goodnight, Oliver," she finally said in a choked sort of voice. She looked like she was going to cry.

She had reached the foot of the stairs that led to the girls' dormitories by the time I said something.

"Katie."

She paused, her head bowed, her right foot on the first step.

"Katie...we are more than friends. Lindsay's my sister."

There was dead silence.

I expected her to say something, do something, so anything - but she just stood there, seemingly frozen to the spot.

I had the sudden urge to tell her everything...just everything. I thought I might owe it to her.

I cleared my throat nervously and said, "My parents were really upset when they found out about what happened during Christmas. They'd already been thinking of transferring Lindsay over to Hogwarts for the longest time, because it was so much more convenient for them. Lindsay didn't really mind, either, and told them on her birthday - the second of November, I think I've told you before - that she'd like to go ahead and transfer. So when...it happened, they decided to do it and transfer Lindsay, at the very least so she could keep an eye on me. So...that's how she ended up here. She's my sister, and I love her to death and all, but, well... I'm not a big fan of snogging my own sister."

Unlike someone I know, I thought, thinking of Xander.

A few more moments of silence passed, then Katie slowly turned around to face me. Her eyes were rimmed with red and she looked as confused as I felt. Our eyes met and I felt something very much like an electric current flow through my body.

And judging by the look on her face...maybe she felt the same way about me too...?

"I'm sorry," we suddenly blurted out in unison.

And without really thinking about what I was doing, with my head spinning and feeling slightly dizzy, I walked right up to Katie, took her in my arms and kissed her.

It felt as if my world had just turned upside down; stars were exploding in my head and entire universes were being born. I could taste chocolate and Quidditch and everything else good about the world on her, and best of all...she was just Katie. She was just the Katie I knew and loved and at times hated, but these times were few and far between and I somehow just thought while we were standing there with our arms around each other...that she was the one.

Nobody else for me.

I'll just have me some Katie, please.

.:22:.22:.22:.

A/N::huge gigantic grin: Awww! Yes! They finally got it together! Haha...consider this my gift to you all for being so, so kindto me during my long absence. Make no mistake, every single one of your reviews and e-mails was read and appreciated. I'm really sorry for how long it took me to get this to you...and trust me when I say it would have taken even longer if it hadn't been for all your, erm, words of encouragement. And threats of ass-kicking. I have to admit I realized things were going a bit overboard when someone thought my last chapter had really been that, the last chapter of the story (I don't blame you for being annoyed at all, I'd have been pissed at myself too if that had been the ending). So I guess I have to thank all of you for still reading my story after all this time - :hugs muchly: (: I've started a blog in the meantime, which I have to say I update a lot more - I'd love to be able to link you here but FFN is SUCH a bitch about HTML. Check my profile for the link, anyway. Tag me! Let me know what you thought of the chapter (of course, reviews work just as well)! And I think you'll see from my blog where Katie/Oliver get their insanity from. So that's all for now - review, review! Thanks for reading! Love you all! (: