A/N: Um, does anyone have any freaking idea why FF keeps repeating the first sentence of chapter 10 at the beginning of all of these things?! Argh!
Disclaimer: In band, my friends and I always had crushes on the upperclassmen. I do mean always. This year, we all discussed how bummed we were because all of our eye candy had graduated, and we were alone. Then we overheard a conversation between two freshmen girls.
Freshman One: "Oh my god, you know who's a total god? That Will Dalley!"
Freshman Two: "I know! Every time he takes his shirt off, I can't keep my mind on marching!"
We were beyond mortified. A) Will is one of my good friends, who I've known forever. B) I dated Will. C) …We realized that our class is the new band eye candy…
Quote: Connor: "Well, I sort of wanted to make a freshman drink a gallon of milk and then run until he puked, but I thought it might be a little too much like hazing."
Daniel: "No, it's only hazing if you rub his nose in it afterwards."
Connor: "Bad puppy!"
A/N: Okay, here's the lineup:
Big Mac Jones/Jag Brick—Beaters
Dace Mentose/Elvin Founder—Chasers
Have I ever mentioned how poorly I deal with stress? Now please flash back to my neurotic sugar quill eating before the Quidditch Final. Also remember my vomiting before my first professional game. And my various mental breakdowns. Oh, and who could forget my constant stripping problem?
Yeah, this is worse than any of that. Oliver's just as bad as I am. Here we are, sitting in a ridiculously nice restaurant with his parents, my parents, and Blake and Amelia, of course. Late lunch had turned into early dinner, which had turned into normal dinner, which had turned into "we have reservations for seven thirty, oh Katie dear, you brought a dress, didn't you?" I mean, it's a really nice place—I sort of feel bad about the fact that they're going to have to repaint it when Mum explodes.
But I'm still glad it won't be my job.
Oliver's mother is on my right, Oliver on my left, and my dad is on his other side, which means we're nicely squished in between parental authorities. I've been absolutely nauseous this whole meal, looking for an appropriate opening in the conversation. And somehow, there are just absolutely no appropriate moments.
"Excuse me, I'll be right back," Amelia said quietly, and left for the restroom. Because the conversation was forced to pause, I immediately saw opportunity. Just as I opened my mouth, Blake cut me off.
My brother leaned forward conspiratorially, gesturing for us all to do the same. A crazy grin split his face wide open. "I'm going to ask her to marry me when I take her home tonight."
Naturally, our mothers squealed and our dads reached across the table to shake his hand. For my part, I set my head down on the table and mentally abused myself. Why? Why me? First, Angelina's pregnant when I try to tell her I'm going out with Oliver. Now Blake's getting married. Why must this be so difficult? I'm half-contemplating just throwing Oliver to the floor in a crazy snog session and letting the chips fall where they may.
"Katie?" I picked my head up to look at my brother.
I felt the blood drain out of my face as I registered his wicked expression. "What?" I asked warily.
"Is there something you and Oliver would like to share with the family?" his voice dripped with personal amusement. I could tell that this was a lifetime of payback right here. Oh, he was so going to enjoy this.
Instantly, Oliver and I were in the spotlight. "Katie?" Mum asked, confused. "What's going on?"
"Blake, I'm going to kill you," I said cheerfully. I looked at the adults. At this point, I realized that I had no freaking clue what to say. "Um…"
Oliver loosened his tie nervously. "Well, Mum… Mum Bell… we haven't been precisely honest with all of you."
My mother blinked, wide-eyed. I wanted to vomit. "What do you mean?"
He swallowed and looked between the two women. "Before I say anything, please take into consideration that Katie and I have known each other for a long time. In fact, you all might have even seen this coming." He folded my hand in his, there on the table where everyone could see, and we both looked for any reaction. No one leapt across the table in an attempt to separate us, and he squeezed my fingers tightly. Instead, they all looked supremely confused. "We, uh—"
"God Oliver, Katie's pregnant, isn't she?" Elaine exclaimed. We both stared at her in shock.
"You're pregnant?" Mum shrieked—gleefully, I should point out. "You and Angelina?"
Blake sat back, smirking and watching. Amelia sat down next to him. "What did I miss?"
At this point, I decided it might be prudent to set the record straight. "I—"
"Oliver Wood!" I would know the sound of a screaming fangirl anywhere. Oh bloody hell. I hate it when they find us in the muggle world. "Oh my god, it's Oliver Wood!"
Six frantic, screaming girls swarmed the table, causing quite the scene.
"OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU!"
"GUYS, IT'S KATIE BELL, TOO!"
"KATIE, YOU'RE MY FREAKING HERO! YOU'RE LIKE THE MOST AMAZING, MOST BEAUTIFUL, MOST PERFECT FEMALE—er, ATHLETE—EVER!" Okay, so the fangirls are good for an ego boost now and then, I'll admit it.
"OLIVER, YOU'RE SO GORGEOUS! I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE WHAT'S RIGHT WITH THIS WORLD!!" But they've got to get their teenybopper asses away from my boyfriend.
"Ladies, if you'll please come with me," a waiter said, smoothly asserting himself into the situation.
One of the girls grabbed his arm. "You don't understand," she said. "That's Oliver Wood and Katie Bell."
"This is, like, epic," one of the others added seriously, her eyes wide.
"Girls, please, or I'll have to have security escort you outside."
"Okay, just—Oliver, can I touch you?"
Oliver stared at her briefly, but quickly recovered. "Er, I can't really let you do that. You know, the whole 'if I let one girl touch me, I'd have to let everyone touch me' thing. And I just don't really have time for that, you know?" Did he really just say that? I can't believe he just said that.
She looked only slightly deflated. "I understand totally and completely. And I want you to know that I don't love you any less for it."
The waiter took hold of two of the girls' arms. "Now, this way—"
"Wait!" a brunette girl shrieked. "Please," she pleaded. "This is like, completely important and possibly life-changing. I can't even impress upon you the importance of this question." The poor man sighed and waved his hand in an if-you-must manner. She approached me, her dark eyes wide and serious. In response to her intensity, I leaned forward a little. "Katie, what do you use to dye your hair?" Why is it always the hair?
I exchanged a world-weary look with the waiter. "I swear to the gods of the game that I don't dye my hair."
The waiter was finally able to escort the girls away, amidst their scandalized chatter (What? Katie Bell doesn't dye her hair? THE FABRIC OF OUR UNIVERSE IS UNRAVELING!) Once it was quiet again, Oliver and I returned our attention to our families, who were looking at us, completely stunned. Blake was bright red from withheld laughter, and Amelia looked rather impressed with us.
Oliver cleared his throat. "So… what were we talking about?"
What were we talking about?
"Oh, gee, I don't know, the fact that you got Katie pregnant!" Elaine burst.
Oh. That's what we were talking about.
My dad gave Oliver a disapproving-uncomfortable stare. "Oliver, son, I think you and I need to have a talk."
Oh sweet lord. This must end.
"Do I bloody look pregnant to any of you?"
There was an extremely awkward silence as everyone paused and looked at me. I could see what they were thinking: "What does that have to do with anything?!" Yeah. I'm related to geniuses.
"I'm not pregnant." I clarified.
My mum trilled with laughter. "Oh honey, of course you are!"
No seriously. She just said that. "No… I'm not."
"She's really not," Oliver added helpfully. Mum and Elaine's faces fell, but both of our fathers visibly relaxed.
"Oh, then what's so bloody important that you had to cause such a fuss?" Mum asked, looking extremely put out.
"You're the one who made the fuss!" he protested.
"You and Elaine! You're both evil little gossips!" I paused. "Actually, Blake's the one who started all of the drama." My brother was leaning back in his chair, his arms folded, watching us like we were a bloody television program.
"Katie, are you going to tell us whatever it was you were going to tell us, or am I going to die of old age?" Mum scolded.
"Oh, well, we're dating," Oliver said quickly.
Everyone stared at us. "That's it?"
"What do you mean, 'it'?" I squeaked. "This is, like epic!" Yes, I was stooping to using fangirl phrases. But, really, it fit the situation. "Your children, you know, dating!"
"I don't know if I like you living with your boyfriend," Dad grumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. Blake burst into a fit of 'coughing'.
"Dad! It's Oliver!"
He shrugged. "Still, you're young…"
"Dear Merlin, you looked happier when you thought I was pregnant!" I leaned against Oliver, who brushed my hair away from my neck. "Isn't anyone going to say anything nice?"
"I'm very happy for you," Blake managed to choke out.
"Oh, thank you so much," I snapped.
"Honey, calm down," Mum said, fluttering her hands. "It's just, we always suspected that this would happen, and—"
"You did?" Oliver interrupted, looking completely startled.
"Of course," his Mum said, raising her eyebrows. "It was only a matter of time."
"Like, all of you?" he asked. Even our dads nodded. Apparently Oliver had never even considered the fact that our parents might have predicted this. I had only briefly entertained the idea. "Wow, I feel oddly betrayed by that fact…"
And things moved on from there. No more life-altering moments. No more screaming fangirls. Just relative normalcy.
I felt strangely cheated of a proper response. I had really expected… well, I don't know what I'd expected, but everyone had so easily accepted Oliver's and my relationship, like it was no big deal. It was such a huge deal to me—I guess I felt like it should be a huge deal to everyone.
Oliver went home with his parents, and mine went to sleep, but I stayed awake. I sat alone downstairs, digging my way through a gallon of fudge brownie ice cream while I waited for Blake to come home. When he did, he walked straight into the kitchen, grabbed a spoon, and sat down across from me, taking a huge bite of ice cream.
He thoughtfully licked his spoon. "She said yes."
I grinned. "Of course she did. God, she's so perfect for you. It's like you two were made for each other."
"I love her."
"Blake, you're head over your damn heels for her," I corrected. "As soon as I met her, I knew."
He rolled his eyes. "You did not."
"Did too! You can ask Oliver. When we came inside to put our bags away, I told him you were planning on marrying Amelia. It was just so obvious."
He didn't respond, now stabbing at the ice cream pointlessly. I waited, knowing exactly what he was thinking about. I suppose it's unavoidable. "Katie, I'm your big brother." I just nodded. How perceptive of him. "I've spent your entire life protecting you, telling guys that if they broke your heart, I'd break their face." He and Oliver both had—Vex being the one exception. And breaking his face myself had turned out rather satisfying, thank you. "And you went and fell in love with the only one I never had to tell."
"Yes," I agreed. He was right.
He shook his head. "Part of me wants to tear him limb from limb, you know. I've always trusted Oliver with you. I've always known that, aside from me, he's the last male on this planet who would possibly hurt you. I've always been able to trust him to protect you with the same vigilance that I would. Now, he's tampered with that trust, because he's the enemy. Suddenly, he's the guy we've always protected you against."
Blake looked out the dark window, across to the Woods' house. "At the same time, I'm entirely grateful to him, because I know that he has your best interests in mind. I know, without a doubt, that he would die before hurting you. You couldn't be in safer, more loving hands, Katie." He rubbed his forehead tiredly and grinned. "Try to hold onto him, won't you? I'm pretty sure you won't find a better man."
I smiled and reached out to ruffle my brother's hair gently. "Thank you." Blake, at least, was giving us his blessing. I put the lid on the ice cream and put it back in the fridge, then turned to head up to my room.
I turned to look at him. "Please stay in your room tonight. I think Pash Rash two mornings in a row will tip Mum off."
I made a face. "Karma's a bitch, you know. Night, Blake."
"Love you, sis."
"Love you, too."
I trotted up to my room and shut the door behind me. I briefly contemplated Apparating over to Oliver's, but decided against it. Blake did have an annoying habit of being right.
Which, suddenly, was extremely encouraging.