Author's Notes: I must warn you: this story is a bit odd, a bit cliched, and a bit long. I've got Writer's Block at the moment, so this story did not, by any means, write itself. Just bear that in mind. I'm going to read it over and edit the grammar later.
The girls' dormitory was quiet when Leanne awoke, and it was so dark that, for a moment, she wondered if she had opened her eyes at all. Then, slowly, her vision began to adjust, molding itself to coexist with the new lighting, and she could discern the glowing face of the small clock which was set upon her bedside table. Leanne squinted; the hour hand was pointing to an ornate number four, and the minute hand seemed to be somewhere near an equally as intricate number six. She put her hand to her forehead and groaned, shifting onto her side. Surely it could not be four-thirty in the morning…
Determined to discover what time it truly was—perhaps she had mistaken which hand was which—she blindly prodded about for her wand. She shivered as the cool air turned her skin to gooseflesh, and her own breaths, just as chilled, ran in soft currents down the length of her arm. At length, her grasp found its mark, and her fingers closed around the handle of her wand.
"Lumos," she whispered, her voice hoarse with sleep. As she spoke, a feeble patch of light burst forth into the room—she was terrible at Charms—and further illuminated the clock. Leanne drew herself near to it, and then released a soft sound of dismay: it was now four-thirty-one.
"This is ridiculous," she muttered to herself, more than a bit upset. After all, she had fallen asleep only a short time ago, as she had agreed to keep Katie company whilst she studied for Transfiguration—an event which only occurred so late because Quidditch practice had taken a higher priority. Yet now Leanne, wonderful friend that she was, was wide awake, staring into slightly fractured blackness, while Katie was deeply immersed in slumber. At least…
She flicked her wand in the direction of Katie's bed; the hangings were not drawn, and Leanne could easily see—most disappointingly—that Katie was, in fact, comfortably asleep. Almost too comfortably, really: her blankets were drawn up closely to engulf her shoulders, and the ghost of a smile had shaped itself upon her lips. Leanne watched in mild fascination as the smile broadened into a grin. It appeared that she was also in the midst of a good dream—something Leanne couldn't remember experiencing herself in quite some time.
With an irritated scowl—brought on by exhaustion—she made to roll over in her bed. Yet as she did so, her hand twitched, and her wandlight migrated to the right. Leanne froze for a beat and stared at the nearest post of Katie's bed, which was now quite easy to examine. Not, of course, that she habitually examined such things in her spare time; indeed, this was the first time that she had ever given it so much as a second glance. But this was only because, somewhere near the middle, carved into the wood, was a set of four-word phrases. Phrases which, at first, Leanne was almost certain that she had misread. She rubbed her eyes, and then proceeded to stare once more.
I fancy Oliver Wood. I fancy Oliver Wood. I fancy Oliver Wood. I fancy Oli
The fourth sentence was abruptly cut short, as if the inscriber had been called away or had realized the silliness in completing it. Nevertheless, its meaning was not lost. Not at all. Suddenly, Leanne did not feel quite as tired as before. She sat up, a smile creeping onto her face at last, and silently she leapt onto the floor. Taking care not to create the slightest of sounds, she pulled open the dormitory door and stole into the common room.
From there, her path was simple, not to mention more brightly lit—the fire had yet to completely die out. Leanne ignored the cold now, feeling that her discovery was sufficient enough to create its own warmth.
Soon, she reached yet another door and, biting her lip to keep herself from smiling too much, she pushed inside.
"Alicia!" she called in a loud whisper. "Angelina!"
Leanne padded her way further into the room, wary of any objects that might have happened to be littering the floor. After a pause, she repeated the call.
At first, there was no response. But then, after several more tries, each progressively louder, there came two simultaneous groans from one corner of the room.
"Angelina?" Leanne questioned hopefully.
"'Course. Takes more to wake up Al—Ali—Alicia." The last word was broken as Angelina yawned.
"Where is she?" Leanne stepped closer to the place where the elder girl's voice seemed to originate from. All at once, her toe collided with something hard, and she swore loudly.
"Well, good morning to you, too." This voice was unmistakably Alicia's, though it was less groggy than Leanne had assumed it would be.
"You're already awake," Angelina accused.
Alicia snorted. "Still awake, you mean. I can't sleep. Don't know why. I'm bloody exhausted."
"You ought to be, after all that Oliver put us through today. I can hardly move…"
Leanne cleared her throat. "Speaking of Oliver Wood," she interrupted, and trailed off for want of a somewhat dramatic effect—even if it was too early in the morning for dramatics.
"What now?" Angelina inquired. Her tone had steadily become more and more coherent, and so these two words were punctuated by her usual sharpness.
"I think you should have a look," Leanne told her. Alicia's protests of being required to move fell upon deaf ears as Leanne led an eager Angelina—who only winced twice as she extricated herself from her bed—to her own dormitory.
"There it is," Leanne whispered, and with a flourish, she illuminated Katie's bedpost. Beside her, there was a sharp sound as Alicia—she had reluctantly followed—gasped with a hint of glee. Skeptical, Angelina reached forward and touched the engraved letters; once she was reassured of their authenticity, she beamed. In the sparse lighting, this motion seemed almost eerie as awkward shadows danced across the pajama-clad trio.
"I knew it," Angelina exclaimed quietly, and she tapped the first 'Oliver.'
"She might not have written it," Alicia pointed out.
"You're right. I'm certain it must have been Nearly Headless Nick," Angelina said somberly. "I reckon I caught him staring at Oliver once during breakfast last year—"
"Don't be daft, I'm serious!"
"It has to have been Katie who wrote it," Leanne interrupted for the second time that night. "Look…" She brushed her fingertips across the words. As she did so, minute shavings of wood fell away and out of sight. "I think these are still fresh…"
The girls were silent for several moments as they regarded the inscription and Katie's sleeping form, until at last Alicia spoke.
"What should we do?" she asked.
"We should show it to Fred and George. Then that's nearly everyone on the team. Except for Harry, but he's too young for this sort of thing."
"What about Oliver?" Leanne inquired, and Angelina gripped her arm.
"What about him?" Alicia questioned.
"What do you mean, 'What about—'? This is perfect! We've got to show this to Oliver!" Angelina said excitedly.
"But Fred and George…"
"Actually, I don't know if we should tell Oliver," Leanne admitted uneasily. "Katie might be upset if we do, come to think of it…"
"And besides," Angelina added, "it's safer to tell him than it is to tell the twins. There's no knowing what they'd do with that sort of information."
"What sort of information is that?"
In unison, Angelina, Alicia, and Leanne turned their heads and gaped at the doorway, which was now gaping itself. A yellow light shone around the edges of two identical forms, and though their faces were shadowed, their expressions were exceptionally apparent. Upon recovering from her shock, Leanne brought her face to her palm and suppressed a groan.
"Speak of the devil," Angelina murmured, though she still seemed more amused than upset.
"This can't be coincidental."
Alicia, however, was less concerned with the irony of the present circumstance. Instead, she placed her hands upon her hips and adopted a stern tone. "How did you get up here?"
"Quite simple, my dear Alicia," the first of the twins proclaimed. To further his response, he reached beyond the doorway from whence he had come and revealed what was unmistakably a broomstick. Beside him, his twin produced an irritated noise and cuffed him lightly on the shoulder.
"A magician never reveals his secrets."
"Blimey Fred, it's just Alicia…"
"Precisely why we're supposed to be on form!"
"George. Fred," Alicia hissed, interrupting their banter. She supposed that they were blinking at her blankly, as no remarks escaped them in the quiet that followed. "We've got something we want to show you."
"Is it shiny?" Fred inquired with interest.
"Or prickly?" added George.
"Disgusting perhaps?" they chorused together, though their glee was quickly hushed as Leanne pressed a finger against her lips.
"Why are you to here, anyway?" Angelina grumbled.
"We happen to possess the innate ability to detect when our presence is desired."
"Especially by the womenfolk," finished the other twin. "We have a keen sense of hearing when it comes to the hustling and bustling of our females…"
Alicia quirked an eyebrow. "You couldn't sleep, could you?"
"Well, if you must spoil the fun…"
But precisely what Leanne had meant to insist upon doing was lost from thought as Katie stirred in her bed, the blankets rustling just loud enough to startle the slowly-expanding group. Each member held his or her breath—as if such a thing would efface the noise they had created—and watched as she turned in her sleep, lethargically sliding her arms along the mattress until her flattened hands were obscured beneath her pillow.
"Weird, that one is," Fred remarked, unable to restrain himself from doing so. And then… "Oi, what's this here?" He turned to Angelina and held out his palm to her. She regarded it blankly.
"If she had her wand, she'd be using it, you prat," George muttered, pushing his hand away.
"I'll spare you the trouble of locating one," Leanne said, disregarding her own thin wand which she still clutched. "It says, 'I fancy Oliver Wood'."
"You do not!" George exclaimed, disbelieving.
"Of course I don't," she retorted. "But Katie does."
"She does not!" This was Fred.
"Does too." Alicia wrenched the wand away from Leanne—who did not care to truly notice or protest—and shook it violently. After a moment, a thin ray of light exploded from the tip.
"Blimey! How did you do that?"
"Not important. Have a look at this." She redirected the light to the bedpost, upon which was still written Katie's alleged confession.
"Well I'll be. Katie's got it for old Ollie." The twins crouched beside the post and inspected it, commenting in hushed tones to each other about things that only they seemed to know. Intrigued, the girls exchanged curious glances behind them, wondering at the fascinating elements of the discovery that the boys were unearthing before their very eyes.
It was precisely two and one-half minutes later that Fred announced the conception of a plan.
"Oliver. Oliver. Oliver. Oliver. Oliver? Oliver! Oliver. Oliver. Oliv—"
George straightened, pleased at receiving a response, as he had been bent uncomfortably to Oliver's ear in hopes of meriting one. Oliver, who had been very much asleep until that particular point, exhaustedly made to swat George away; the latter, being more awake, dodged this feeble attack with ease.
"Get your broom," the twin told him.
"Get your broom, I said."
"I don't keep it in here. It's in the lockers, stowed away… safely…"
"Tucked beneath your bed, more like."
The boy looked sheepish. "Well, perhaps it is. Can't be too careful, after all."
"Well, come on. Get it, then," George urged.
Oliver pressed against his bed and attempted to sit up. Then he stopped and stared. "What for? As much as I admire your commitment to the team, I don't think—"
"Get your bloody broom, Oliver."
"Right then." He rolled to the edge of his mattress and reached beneath his bed, searching with outstretched fingers until they found the broom. As he struggled to release it from whatever protective enchantments he had placed upon it, George allowed his eyes to trace about the room. Askance lay Percy, snoring open-mouthed in an undignified manner that seemed strange on such a person as he—though frankly, George thought it suited him. He crossed his arms and drummed his fingers pensively upon the surrounding air.
"There it—ouch!" As Oliver attempted to right himself, his elbow jabbed against something hard.
"What do you keep in your pillow?" George found himself asking incredulously, for indeed that appeared where the object was located. He stepped closer and peered into the small nest of cushions; half-buried at its center was a Quaffle with frayed stitching. "Er… never mind."
"And what is it that I'm meant to do with—?"
When Oliver awoke, it was silent—too silent—save for the nearly audible sound of his head as it throbbed lightly. The room which, when he had drifted off to sleep the night before, had been riddled with the resonating sounds of Percy Weasley's snores, no longer bore the awful sound. Perhaps, Oliver thought, he had overslept, and his dorm mates had already made the trek down to the Great Hall for breakfast. It was peculiar, though, that he had not heard them leave; they were usually quite noisy about it.
Suddenly, he sat up. He was not in his bed, nor did it appear that he was in his own dormitory at all.
"Smells funny," he muttered to himself as he wrinkled his nose. Inhaling tentatively, he brought his hand to his forehead and rested it there as though that very action was holding it together.
The smell, as soon became apparent, was not a smell at all; rather, it was the absence of scents that he detected. Oliver froze; something was more amiss than he had first thought.
He steadied himself as he stood and then he glanced around. This dormitory was immaculate in comparison to the one which he had always known; nearly immaculate as Percy's room was rumored to be. And the beds were empty, most in slight disarray—as was to be expected.
Yet then something caught his eye: movement. Bracing himself, he turned quickly, his hands molded in such a way that, should he be required to defend himself, he would be prepared.
The brown of his brows arched upward in surprise and his eyes began to focus upon the mound of bedcovers that was slowly coming to life—speaking to him. Dark blonde tendrils sculpted from beneath them and, after a moment—in which the mound seemed to be struggling—a face appeared beneath it.
"Er… Katie?" he inquired carefully, for it did resemble his Chaser slightly.
Katie sat up as if she had just been trod upon and she cleared her hair from before her eyes. Upon doing this, she promptly pulled the blankets up to her chin and she stared at him. "What are you doing here?"
Oliver glanced behind him toward the doorway and scratched his head. "That's a fair question," he admitted pensively.
Katie blinked at him. "You can't have just appeared him."
Oliver blinked back, unable to conceive a proper response.
"Do you have a history of sleepwalking?" she pressed.
"But you can't have walked, awake or otherwise," she said hurriedly, answering herself before he had the chance to attempt assistance with this. "This staircase would have rejected you, and you haven't any signs of bruising…"
"Bruising?" Oliver inquired, slightly alarmed.
"Yes. If you had fallen, you'd shown signs of it."
"But why would I have fallen?" He felt quite befuddled. Perhaps he had fallen, as his Chaser claimed; that would certainly account for his headache. Although, in truth, the poor boy knew not at all how Katie would be aware of his collisions with the ground during the previous night. Unless she was a Seer, she had linked his presence in her dormitory with taking a tumble—one that he could not remember the faintest bit of—by uncompromised and astonishing luck.
"Haven't you ever attempted to get up here before?" she questioned. Her grip upon the bedcovers relaxed as she looked at him, as though she was genuinely curious to hear his response.
"Well… no," Oliver told her truthfully. "Ah… should I have?"
Katie laughed, and suddenly, his headache subsided into a light sort of feeling. He winced, his left eye narrowing into a slight squint—the sort that cast the appearance that it was about to twitch, but, in the end, would not—and he glanced at her as though the glance was being stolen. Katie had a nice laugh, he decided. It reminded him of Quidditch—probably because she was always giggling during practices. Chasers seemed to be fond of that. Laughing. Not practicing…
"It's just a little odd," the aforementioned Chaser continued, jarring him from his uncharacteristically serious reflections. "Fred and George worked it out ages ago. How to get up here, I mean. They simply hop onto their brooms and—bollocks!"
There came a clatter as Katie's wand rolled to the edge of her mattress and dropped to the floor. Quickly—like a Chaser ought to be, Oliver thought with a hint of pride—she scrambled to lay flat upon her bed and peer onto the ground to the place to which she had heard to object drop. Her legs kicked back and forth thrice, and she drummed her fingers beside her once.
Instinctively—Oliver had dropped many things when he was younger, though gladly the habit had since been overcome—he bent and scanned the vicinity for her wand.
"Do you see it?" she asked. "I don't even know what it was doing here, as I was sure to leave it just there, on the—" Abruptly, her speech came to a halt, and she propped herself up so that she now held semblance to a seal. "This is all very peculiar, don't you think?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, first you appear in the girls' dormitory—mine, specifically—without any recollection of coming here yourself. We happen to be the only two occupants of the room. And," she added, emphasizing the word sharply so that Oliver nearly started, "my want wasn't where I left it."
The girl leapt from beneath her blankets as though they had caught fire—and her hair appeared as if it had suffered much the same fate, so bizarrely had it shaped itself overnight—and rushed to the door. Her steps were pronounced and determined. Feeling, for once, very timid, Oliver followed her, remaining a short distance away. Clearly, her psychic abilities were prevailing, and he was not about to put a stop to them—even if she was a bit frightening.
And then she stood completely still with her ear pressed against the door.
One moment. Two moments. Another beat. Oliver held his breath.
Suddenly, she grasped the knob and thrust open the door, revealing the remainder of his Quidditch team. The Weasley twins had their hands cupped about their ears, listening for something that was clearly no longer there; Alicia, Angelina, and someone Oliver had never before seen had their mouths agape in shock; and Harry Potter simply looked guilty at being caught, though Oliver expected that he might have happened across the wrong place at an inopportune time.
"Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!" one of the ginger-headed culprits exclaimed, glancing at Oliver for a brief second before attempting to scamper away. Katie, however, caught the sleeve of his robe, which sent him back to the ground from whence he had just come. (Was this the falling of which she had spoken, Oliver wondered.)
"There will be no going anywhere until you explain why you've been buggering things up," Katie declared crossly.
"Katie darling," began the other twin, but he was made to stagger backward when Katie irately snatched out at his collar.
"No need to be so harsh," added he who was already captive.
"There wouldn't be if someone would just explain!" Katie cried, looking from one teammate to the next.
"Perhaps if you loosen up a bit," Alicia advised. Katie glanced downward, and a slight flush was brought to her cheeks as she saw the pleading look of the unfortunate Weasley twin.
"Sorry," she muttered, and, embarrassed, she released him.
"Right then," Angelina sighed. "I suppose we ought to come clean."
"We were trying to set you up," the other girl—the one whom Oliver didn't know—admitted.
"Leanne saw what you'd written on your bedpost," Alicia explained.
"But… oh." The color of Katie's cheeks deepened to a shade of crimson that rivaled a substance saturated with tomatoes. "That."
"What?" Oliver asked. He felt as though he had missed something important.
Seven heads at once turned toward him.
"Might as well show you," Leanne shrugged. "Now we've been caught."
The girl slid past Katie and into the room in which Oliver still lingered. Without further words, she crossed the space separating them, passed him, and came to stand beside the four-poster bed whose coverings seemed to have only just settled. He looked from it to Leanne without comprehension.
"Here," she directed after a moment. She tapped one of the posts with her fingertips.
The boy leaned forward, directing his eyes toward where she was pointing. "I fancy…" He stopped. He blinked. And then he looked up at Katie. The only trouble was that she was gone.
"Aren't you going to go after her?" Leanne inquired.
He scratched his head. "Er…"
"Don't you like her?" Alicia demanded.
"I—well," he sputtered. "Of course I like her."
"But do you fancy her?" Angelina insisted. Her eyes were glinting.
Did he fancy Katie? He had never thought much of fancying anyone, much less anything apart from Quidditch. Which was pathetic, he realized, as one wasn't supposed to fancy an inanimate object, much less a sport. A fantastic sport, but all the same…
"This is why you'll never have a girlfriend," Alicia sighed, as if guessing his thoughts with precision.
Oliver sighed, feeling perplexed, somewhat insulted, and wishing that girls were as easy to deal with as Quidditch plays. Perhaps he did fancy Katie. She instilled a sense of happiness within him, and he found her rather attractive—quite attractive, especially when she was flying. And, after all, she loved Quidditch nearly as much as he did. So there was really nothing to say that he didn't… and that they couldn't… except for the fact that he didn't know where she had run off to.
"Right. Which way did she go?" he asked, surfacing from his thoughts. His brow was furrowed slightly, curving in a determined manner. Leanne gaped at him.
"Are you really going to go after her?"
"I expect so," Oliver replied. This was what he was supposed to do, wasn't it? Chase heroically after the girl, confess his feelings for her—feelings which he had only now discovered that he might possess—and console her with… Was he supposed to kiss her? Or was that what he wasn't supposed to do? He had never kissed anyone before.
"Oliver, you're thinking too much," said one of the twins.
"It's a bit frightening," added the other.
"Your face," explained the first.
"Because it's really not that difficult!"
At this, Oliver began to panic, which he was certain would contort his facial features even more frighteningly. Was the solution truly so simple, and was he the only one who couldn't see it?" The entirety of his body stiffened and he fell still. Over the course of the past few minutes, he had been entirely removed from his comfort zone and thrust into the new and the unknown, a dark tunnel that was quickly transforming into a bottomless abyss that was swallowing—
"Really, Oliver," Angelina snorted, and she snatched up his hand. He gave a yelp of surprise as she tugged him forward, though soon, he was trotting behind her as she marched into the Gryffindor common room. He didn't even have time to wonder if all Chasers behaved as such before she had yanked him through the portrait hole and into the outside corridor. There, it was suddenly quiet once more. Angelina paused—Oliver nearly stumbled into her—and peered in all conceivable directions. Then—
"There we are," she murmured, sounding pleased. Oliver followed the line of her gaze, expecting to see Katie, or at least something, yet all he could see was a vast stretch of stone: the wall before them.
"I don't see—" he began, but his words were cut short when she shoved him forward, sharply pressing her palms between his shoulder blades. With a cry of surprise, he raised his arms to his head to shield himself from the impact which he was certain would arrive any moment. But strangely, all he felt was a gust of air swooping around him, and he continued to fall forward.
And then he stopped—or rather, landed—upon something that was neither soft nor hard but slightly warm and rather wet.
Cautiously, he opened one eye and then the other; instantly, he realized that what he was now laying sprawled across, what had cushioned his fall, was Katie Bell herself, who seemed to be fighting for breath.
With a flush creeping up his neck—one that matched hers—he rolled to the side and unpinned her.
"Sorry," he muttered, shifting his eyes so that he looked everywhere but where he wanted to—and yet didn't want to, for surely it would be too embarrassing to catch her gaze. "Didn't see you there.
There was a sniff, and then silence.
Without thinking, Oliver glanced at her.
Her hair was matted, just as it had been when he had last seen her, and her pajamas were slightly wrinkled. But her cheeks shone, as did her eyes. It took a moment for him to realize that she was crying.
Katie bit her lip and slid her eyes away from him. "You don't have to say anything," she told him at length. "It was a silly thing for me to write, and—"
"Do you fancy me? He asked bluntly.
Katie frowned. "I thought the answer would be obvious by now."
For a reason he was only just beginning to understand, Oliver grinned. "So you do, then?"
In spite of herself, the corner of Katie's lip twitched, and she nodded slowly.
This came as a relief, not only that she did, in fact, fancy him, but also that he had nearly made her smile. A more romantically adept person than he might have made her laugh again, or put a complete end to her tears, but still, he considered himself to be faring well in such uncharted waters. Until, of course, he realized that he didn't know what next to say to her.
Katie's shadowed smile faltered as Oliver continued to beam at her without speaking or blinking, in a way which suggested he was about to do something strange to her feet—or something else to that effect.
"Um… You can say something now," she told him awkwardly.
Katie took a stray thread from the hem of her pajamas and began to twirl it around her finger. "This is where you're supposed to tell me whether or not you fancy me back."
"Oh!" Oliver flushed. "I…"
"Yes?" she urged eagerly—not too eagerly, though, lest he realize how desperate she was for his answer.
He inhaled deeply and turned to her so that he faced her squarely. "Katie Bell, I fancy you back."
"Really?" Her stomach swooped.
He nodded, and this time, she easily managed to match his grin—a grin which now did not seem half as creepy as it did before.
"So," she said happily.
"So," he echoed. Then, at length, he asked, "Which part is supposed to come next?"
"What?" she asked, taken aback.
"Which… which part? I'm rubbish at this."
Katie heard herself giggling, suddenly shy, as she understood. "Well, you could, ah… ask me to Hogsmeade next weekend, or… We could thank the lot that's listening in just outside the room." She paused and glanced toward where she was certain the remainder of the Quidditch team was standing. "Or," she added with a shrug, "you could kiss me. You see, there are a lot of things that could come next, depending upon—"
But she never quite finished, and Oliver never quite learned what he was supposed to do following a heartfelt confession, because he instead chose that moment to favor the third option. That was, he decided to kiss her. Briefly, as it was still an unfamiliar pastime to him, but it still lasted long enough so that, when he broke away, she still felt breathless.
"I guess it wasn't such a silly thing after all," Katie admitted, with which Oliver could not have agreed more. Relationships, he decided—and this one in particular—were just as serious as Quidditch, and, he expected, just as rewarding.
In the corridor, five ears were pressed against the cool stone of the wall, and five identical, knowing smiles graced the faces of their owners.
"I don't know how much more of this I can take," said George, making a gagging noise.
"Oh, come off it," Alicia said, still straining to hear snatches of the conversation beyond the wall. "You know you love it."
"Careful what you say," Fred advised, "or you'll be the ones we set up next."
Alicia looked stricken, but George smirked and pretended to preen.
"At least we got them snogging," commented Angelina, who was just as satisfied as any of her other teammates. "Though I really do think they ought to thank us."