She's a Liability
"So," Coach Fleal said, leaning back against his desk. He folded his arms over the Puddlmere polo he was wearing and surveyed the two of us, Oliver and me, seated in the two chairs in front of him, like two school kids caught smoking under the bleachers. I crossed and uncrossed my legs, trying to play it cool. It wasn't working, not even a little bit. I glanced at Oliver next to me. He was sitting rather stiffly, and his ears were still pink around the rim. His hands were claws against the arm rests. To be fair, it is a bit difficult to play it cool when your coach has just found you snogging the absolute shit out of your teammate in a ball cupboard.
Fleal cleared him throat and straightened a pen on his precious clipboard. "So," he said again, focusing all of his attention on the pen. "This uh-" he took a breath, "Explains a lot."
Despite knowing that we were about to be reamed out and given the lecture of the century and maybe fired, I had to fight not to burst out laughing. That's what he decides to say? "This explains a lot"? He's just found two of his professional quidditch players throwing each other against the walls of a supply cupboard, snogging like there's no tomorrow, and that's his opening line? I bit the inside of my cheek, hard, trying to arrange my features in an appropriately ashamed expression.
"Explains a lot, sir?" Oliver asked weakly. Fleal snorted.
"Red's been skipping and singing constantly and you two haven't had a blow out in weeks," he said. "Now, I figured either you'd both been given lobotomies and personality transplants, or there was a little something going on." He paused, and adjusted the pen again, even though it hadn't moved. I picked at the grain of the wood of my chair. My nail paint was robin's egg blue, and chipped. "now, there's nothing in your contracts explicitly banning intra-team relationships," He said slowly. "However. We're typically opposed to such relationships because they inevitably end badly." he turned to Oliver. "Do you remember the Matchell/Varney fight a few years ago?"
Oliver nodded grimly. "It nearly tore the Arrows apart," He said quietly.
"Exactly," Fleal said. "With the two of you, it'd be World War II," he shook his head. "I mean, you two fought when you were just friends. I shudder to think what'd happen if, god forbid-"
"We get it," Oliver said, a bit sharply. I was startled. He never talked back to Coach. The dissension and rebellion was generally my area of expertise. He raised his chin to look Fleal in the eye.
"That being said," Coach continued, " I can't officially forbid you two from seeing each other." He raised his eyebrows. "Not like either of you would listen to me if I did." I tried not to wonder, if given the choice, if Oliver would pick me or quidditch. I had a feeling I might be finding out soon enough. "All I'm asking is that you keep it off the pitch. Do your jobs, don't let your hormones interfere." He fiddled with the pen again. "And for godsake, stop snogging in my broom cupboards." Oliver gave a soft, guilty snort. Admittedly this one was kinda my idea.
There was an awkward silence as Fleal busied himself with pouring a glass of water from a pitcher on his desk. He offered us each a glass, but neither of us accepted. He took a swig. "I don't know what you want to do publicly. It's not really any of my business, and I don't really give a damn unless it affects your playing. The media circus that would follow the announcement of a relationship between you two would be monumental" Oliver and I gave each other a look. Fleal continued. "Not my department. Talk to the publicity department, if you want. I don't really care. Keep it off the field, and I'm happy." he took another sip, and then nodded to himself, satisfied. "Alright?"
"Yes sir," Oliver said.
"Definitely," I answered.
"Okay, good. You're free to go then. I'll see you guys tomorrow." He stood up, brushing his palms on his pants, and retreated behind his desk to look at the numbers on his beloved clipboard. Oliver and I shuffled out. The door shut behind us with a soft click, and we were alone in the hall.
"Well," I said, letting out a huge breath I hadn't realized I was holding. "That was awkward." He laughed, running a hand over his hair, messing it up even worse than I had. His ears were still red, and he was a bit pink across the bridge of his nose. He bit his lip in a way that made me want to throw him up against a wall all over again. So I figured I should just get it over with, like a bandaid.
"Well, it's been fun," I began." His eyebrows wrinkled and he blinked down at me in a confused sort of way, arms still resting atop his head.
"This," I said. "Us," I revised.
"Us," he repeated slowly. His eyelashes swished in the most bloody amazing way as he considered what I was saying. I swallowed. He froze, mouth hanging slightly open. "Are you breaking up with me?"
"I figured I'd save you the trouble," I said glumly, already planning the quart of ice cream I'd be wolfing down later to fill the emptiness I knew wasn't hunger. Maybe I'd stick some French fries in too.
"Why would I want to break up with you?"
"To focus on quidditch," I replied. "You know, that sport you're in love with and play compulsively." I couldn't help a note of bitterness. I was slightly jealous of a sport. Okay, maybe more than slightly. He snorted at shook his head. GHe stared at me for a moment, and his eyes were painfully green.
"You're really stupid sometimes, you know that?"
"Well you don't have to start the bitter ex-boyfriend stage right this second," I replied sourly. It hurt more than I thought it would.
"I'm not breaking up with you," he said, folding his arms as if that was the end of it.
"No! You just tried to break up with me, remember? Not the other way around!"
"I know, but—"
"But!" he rolled those eyes and I almost lost it. "C'mon, I'm hungry." He took a step closer and held out a hand. "You can break up with me after lunch. I'll even let you slap me and throw water if you want." I hesitated, squinted at him as if I expected him to disappear. He didn't. I slipped my hand into his.
"You've been awfully nice lately," I accused as we walked down the hall. "Are you sick?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," he laughed, peering down at me. "Should I be beating you regularly and verbally abusing you?"
"Like the other day with the poptarts. You're Oliver Wood, You don't eat normal people food." I felt a smile on the edges of my face. He'd given me the one with more frosting.
"Everyone loves poptarts," he said simply.
"And the ice cream. How'd you know?"
"One, you were on your—" he paused, looking a bit strangled. "You had your—er—girl problem. I wasn't taking any chances of being a casualty."
"You're usually a twigs and sticks and rocks kinda guy," I informed him.
"I don't eat rocks."
"And this," I continued, holding our clasped hands up. I liked the way out hands looked together. "You're being cute. Since when are you cute?"
"This feels like a trap," he said, narrowing his eyes at me and examining my face. "Am I not allowed to be nice to you?"
"No," I said. "I want you to be horrible to me, all the time."
"First you want to break up with me, and now—"
"I didn't want to break up with you!"
"You just tried, like 5 seconds ago."
"Because I thought you were going to break up with me." He stopped, and made a sound of exasperation. He let my hand go, and turned to face me.
"Have you ever considered," he ran a hand up my arm. "That maybe," he quirked an eyebrow, "just maybe, I'm nice to you because I like you?" My tongue felt too big for my mouth, my feet too big for the rest of me. I swallowed, twice, and then found my voice. This loser shouldn't still have that effect on me.
"You bloody well should," I said, with only a slight falter. "I'm fabulous."
"One of my many charms." There we go. Sassy and classy again. Just the way I like it.
"I'm sure." he took my hand. "Now how about that lunch."
"We could go to mine," I offered
"Or we could go out," he said.
"Someone might see us."
"Damn, does that happen when one goes out in public?" He smirked. "They're going to find out eventually. And I never got that Chinese the other night." My stomach growled in agreement. I looked sheepishly down at my middle with a grin. "That's a yes, then," he said.
"This sounds suspiciously like a real date."
"Blasphemy!" Wood said. "We don't have real clothes on and I didn't buy you flowers, it doesn't count."
"Oh good. God forbid we should go on an actual date. It'd be like we're grownups or something."
"Perish the thought."
"What can I get you tonight?" The waiter was short, stocky and blonde. He flipped open his notebook and set a quick quotes pen on its tip on the surface. He looked between the two of us expectantly. Oliver closed his menu.
"Two spring rolls, two egg rolls, an order of house friend rice, Mushu pork, orange chicken, dumplings and a water, please," he replied. The quill sped across the page, as he tried to look like it was completely normal he pretty much ordered the entire restaurant. He closed his menu and handed it to the waiter with a wide, winning smile.
"And for you, miss?"
"Just a diet water, please." I closed the menu with a snap, and handed it to the waiter with an identical grin.
"Water, yes," I insisted.
"Miss, I don't think we have-" I raised my eyebrows in the most innocent way I could manage. "Actually, you know what, I think we just got a shipment in. I'll be right out with that for you. "
"Thank you," I told him sweetly. When he left, Oliver was laughing.
"A diet water?"
"I'm watching my figure," I informed him, sticking my tongue out. "Gotta stay hot, you know." I picked up my chopsticks as he shook his head, still chuckling.
"Because you're such a cow," Oliver said.
"I know. I'll have to start starving myself tomorrow. After I finish all this food."I broke my chopsticks apart with a swift crack, and then proceeded to stick them in my mouth like walrus tusks. I fluttered my eyelashes and arched an eyebrow seductively.
"I can't take you anywhere," he sighed in mock exasperation. But he was smiling, and his hair was still ruffled and my toes were tracing a line up his shin.
"This was your idea, sunshine," I grinned. He managed to look as though he was seriously reconsidering his actions. I grinned at him, chopsticks still in my lips. I nodded to his pair, still in their paper wrapper. "I think you should put yours in."
"I think not." A smile twisted his lips.
"No balls!" I declared. "Oliver Wood has noooo balls!"
"You are a child."
"You have no balls."
"That's a damn shame for you, isn't it?"
"Nah, I can just shag Red if I feel like it."
"But he would."
"I know he would, he's a dog."
"He's a puppy dog. Cute and cuddly."
"A dog that shits on your floor and chews on your shoes," Oliver grumbled. I snorted. The waiter returned with our waters. I tried to keep a straight face, as the chopsticks were still in my lips. To his credit, he merely twitched an eyebrow, set our drinks down and left us alone. Which is the appropriate response when dealing with a crazy person with chopsticks jammed in her mouth.
"People are staring," I informed Oliver proudly.
"I can't imagine why."
"I think it's because I'm so pretty."
"That must be it."
"I am quite the foxy momma, you know."
"The foxiest," he agreed.
"OLIVER WOOD?" A voice cut in. A group of girls in a booth were staring over at our table.
You know that other awkward moment where you're pretending to be a walrus while you're out with your professional quidditch player boyfriend and you get spotted?
"KATIE BELL?" I gulped, and for the life of me, I can't remember why I didn't just take the chopsticks out right then. I just sort of stared at them, wide eyed, walrus tusks and all. Like the idiot I am.
God, I don't know what he sees in me.
"I knew it! You're on a date, aren't you?" A black haired girl demanded. One girl protested, lightly smacking the girl who'd asked. I would have liked to smack her too. Maybe with a lamp. The rest of them pretended to look embarrassed, but more people in the restaurant were turning around and I was quickly wishing I could just melt into a puddle of water and trickle away.
"Yeah, kinda." Oliver said simply. And then he did the most amazing thing. He broke apart his own chopsticks and fit them neatly into his own grin. I gaped at him. "And we're having a lovely time, aren't we, Kate?" He smirked, looking for all the world like a ridiculous loon. My ridiculous loon.
"The loveliest," I managed, even though what my mouth really wanted to be doing involved being plastered on his. He beamed at me with the chopsticks still in place, and I swear, only my sore muscles saved me from jumping on him across the table and just kissing the shit out of him.
Who'd have thought chopsticks could be such a bloody turn on?
The girls didn't really know what to say, so we each signed a napkin for them, and continued on with our lives. Miraculously. And miraculously, my head didn't catch on fire from all the blushing I was doing. Because we looked like total, complete prats.
I kinda only half cared.