In Simplest Terms
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter in any way, shape, or form. No infringement is intended by this work. Oh, and I don't own the nickname "Mouse" either. I borrowed it from a wonderful Oliver x Hermione fic entitled "Consequentially Yours."
Although most of Hogwarts saw him as nothing more than a rabid quidditch fanatic, Oliver Wood was in fact a bloke who put his friends first.
Which was why Oliver was rather perturbed when one of his dearest friends, Hermione Granger, began avoiding him like the plage. By virtue of their close friendship, Oliver knew about a rather perverse little habit Hermione had: when confronted with a problem that books couldn't solve, she purposely avoided anyone she knew could help her and dug through the library anyways.
He wasn't surprised to see her holed up in the back of the stacks, surrounded by a mountain of tomes.
"Hm. Must be a real toughie if you've discarded textbooks for muggle romance novels!"
Hermione jerked surprised eyes up to meet his, cheeks flaming at being caught reading "A Hazard of Hearts."
"Ah, O-Oliver!" she stuttered.
"In the flesh, love." he replied, waggling his eyebrows roguishly in hopes of earning a laugh.
Cheeks flushing positively maroon, Hermione dropped her eyes back to her book, and muttered, "Go away. I'm busy researching something."
Sighing as he knelt down in front of her, Oliver fixed Hermione with his most sincere gaze and asked, "Now then, lass. Aren't ye going to tell me what's wrong?"
She steadfastly ignored him, calmly turning a page.
While Oliver was known for being a rather impatient fellow, he was still very persistent. "Alright then, we'll play twenty questions. I'll start."
"Obviously ye haven't got school troubles, since you're at least two weeks ahead on the assignments." Oliver observed, pointing to the neatly stacked parchment next to her mountain of books. "So...have Potter and Weasley been giving ye grief?"
Although she was sorely tempted to let him continue talking to himself, Hermione knew full well that Oliver would keep pestering her until either (A) she hexed him into next week or (B) she told him what was bothering her. Not willing to divulge her secret all at once, she favored him with an exasperated, "No, they're too busy sucking face with Ginny and Lavendar, respectively."
Oliver pulled a face. "Gee thanks, Hermione. I really needed those mental images!" She giggled, momentarily forgetting that she was supposed to be brooding.
Encouraged, Oliver pressed on. "Right then. Have ye been squabbling with your powderpuff roomies?"
Rolling her eyes, Hermione responded, "No. Ever since I drew up a bathroom timetable, everything's been just peachy."
"Should I clean Malfoy's clock for ye?"
"No. You can't assault a teacher anyways."
"Fred and George go a bit too far with a prank?"
"Don't they always?"
"Look Oliver, I..."
A rather unpleasant thought suddenly occurred to Oliver.
"I haven't done anything to upset ye, have I?"
"No, Oliver! Don't be daft."
This questioning continued for some time, until Oliver happened upon territory that most males dare not approach. Gryffindor bravery (or stupidity, as Slytherins were wont to say) urged him on.
"Hermione...don't slap me...but have ye got...erm...womanly ails?"
Hermione was torn between laughing at Oliver's red-faced discomfort, or hitting her head against the nearest hard object at his typical male denseness. As the latter would likely have resulted in brain cell loss, she opted for the former.
"Oh honestly! No, Oliver, I haven't got 'womanly ails,' as you call them. Quite the opposite, really..."
"Aha! So ickle Hermione has boy troubles!" crowed Oliver triumphantly.
"Shut up! It's not something the entire school needs to know!" Hermione hissed.
Brown eyes still twinkling with mirth, Oliver cleared a space and settled down next to Hermione.
"Sorry, Mouse. It's certainly nothing to be ashamed of, though."
Feathers no longer ruffled, Hermione sighed. "I know, but...it is a bit absurd, really. I mean, I hear what people say. 'Granger's in love with her books! She's far too sensible to get distracted by some guy!'" she mimicked. "Yet here I am, practically pining for some boy."
Oliver thought for a minute. "Well Hermione, why dontcha just go for the bloke if ye like him so much?"
"But I'm not..."
"Stop right there." he said sternly. "Don't ye dare put yourself down, Hermione Granger! Ye already know you're brilliant, but you're also brave, funny, loyal, and bloody beautiful to boot! Any guy would be lucky to be your friend, let alone your boyfriend."
Hermione blushed prettily at his praise. "Thanks for the ego boost, Oliver, but that wasn't quite what I was going to say."
"Oh." Oliver felt his own flush creeping up his neck. Bollocks. Did I say too much? he wondered. "Well, what were ye going to say then?"
She gave him a cheeky grin. "I'll put it in terms you can understand...simplest terms."
"Touched, I'm sure."
As she began speaking, Hermione gazed straight in front of her, seeming suddenly interested in "Life at the Bottom: A Flobberworm's Story."
"You see, Oliver, when it comes to romance of any sort, I'm a quaffle--not a chaser. I'm a snitch, not a seeker. That's just the way I am. Frankly, the thought of 'going for the bloke' isn't really an option!"
The image of a golden snitch Hermione being pursued by Potter, Malfoy, and Diggory leapt unbidden into Oliver's mind. To his surprise, the fanciful image tied his stomach in unnatural knots, deeply unsettling him.
Covering his discomfort with humor, he quipped, "What, no keeper analogies?"
Hermione cast him a sidelong glance under lowered lashes. "The thing is, Oliver, we're both keepers."
As the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw keepers were both girls, that only left...
"Merlin's beard." Oliver breathed.
"Now you know." She seemed resigned, yet relieved.
"You're in love with FLINT?!?"
Hermione leapt to her feet. "What?! No, you great pillock! I'm practically in love with YOU!"
Feeling extraordinarily stupid (yet elated), Oliver could only manage a weak "Oh."
Hermione began pacing agitatedly. "I wanted to tell you sooner, but...I just didn't know how! I mean..."
"A simple 'I like you' would have sufficed."
"Uh, no. Oliver, you know I'm an overachiever! I wanted my declaration to sweep you off your feet in all its epic, scintillating glory! So I started reading these romance novels and..." She paused, brain analyzing the undertones of Oliver's interjection. "Wait just a tic. You wanted me to just come out and say, 'I like you'?"
Oliver grinned up at her.
"Let me put it in simplest terms for ye, Mouse. I know people think I'm forward with the lasses and all, but...like ye said, I'm a keeper. I kinda like the quaffle to come to me, y'know?"
Hermione gave him a brilliant smile.
"That, my dear Mr. Wood, can be arranged."