A/N: I love my readers, I love my readers, I really love those that review! Here's chapter 15, and a little glimpse of Oliver and Katie being, well, Oliver and Katie.
Disclaimer: If I owned anything useful, I could live where I wanted.
Those Beyond Help
Oliver smiled easily. He tucked the red ball under one arm and picked up the flowers that had been so rudely relocated to the floor. The delicate flowers had begun to disintegrate into a shower of soft purple petals, leaving a fluttering trail in his wake. By the time he had laid them in Katie's arms, several of the flowers looked truly pathetic.
Katie looked down at the flowers in the crumpled paper wrapper. "Oliver," she started with a mixture of sadness and apology, "I didn't mean to make you drop your flowers. I'm sure they were lovely before."
Oliver chuckled in his baritone voice. "These," he started, picking up the bouquet, "are your flowers Kate. You may destroy them at will." For effect he gently shook them over her head, dislodging any loose petals to rain down.
Katie reached up and snatched them before Oliver could cause them any more damage. Shooting him a cross look she stated, "That was NOT intentional you prat." She untied the paper and started separating the flowers into 'okay' and 'those beyond help.' She concentrated wholly on this task, using it to ignore the two men, hiding her embarrassment and annoyance at her own behavior. When she had finished, 'those beyond help' had only claimed one-third of the bouquet.
Oliver was filling Bennett in on the Hollyhead game, and explaining how even though the scoreboard says one thing, the real game looked more like a Puddlemere skill exhibition. Katie stuck her hand out sharply in front of Oliver and wiggled her fingers. Both men chuckled as Katie gave Oliver the you-know-what-I'm-asking-so-do-it look. He then vanished the contents of the bedside vase and placed it gently in the demanding hand. Katie set to work arranging the 'okay' flowers in the vase, doing her best to hide any damaged sides.
"Well son, I didn't expect you to be fluent in 'Katie' as well" Bennett managed to get out in a level voice. He had refrained from his first impulse was to make a remark about how well trained her daughter kept her pets.
"Aye." Both men broke in to slightly muffled laughter, as to not incur the wrath of the invalid with flowers. Katie didn't know who she was more frustrated with so she glared in the general direction of the laughter before working on the flowers with intense and unnecessary concentration. This act only resulted in breaking any restraint of the men in the room, dissolving them into hearty guffaws.
A beautiful vase of flowers shot into Oliver's field of vision. "Fix it!"
Oliver pulled out his wand and whispered "Augamenti." From the tip of his wand, a gentle stream of water flowed into the vase. When he finished, he put the vase in it's space on Katie's bedside table.
"There you go Kate. You did a nice job, you can barely tell you tried to kill them!"
Katie made a noise that was more similar to a growl than anything a human would say and begun to hurl the 'beyond all help' flowers one-by-one at Oliver's face, while he swatted them down playfully.
Deciding that he'd better leave before he became a target, Bennett began edging toward the door. "Alright children, I have a wife and in-laws to get back to. I will leave you both to act like adults in my absence and not kill each other."
The flowery onslaught paused. "Bye Dad, tell Mama I miss her" with the obvious insinuation no one currently in the room would be missed.
"Goodbye Mr. Bell, I don't think our darling Kate has it in her to murder me this evening. Maybe next week."
As this statement had reminded Katie what she was about, Oliver begun defending against Katie and the onslaught of the remainder of flowers. She finally ran out of ammunition and settled for glaring at Oliver in a way that should have set his robes aflame from her annoyance. Never knowing when to quit, Oliver picked up a battered flower from the floor.
Picking a single petal that was bravely clinging to the rest of the flower, "She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves..." Whump! Oliver was blindsided by a pillow to the temple.
"Stop being a child and give me back my pillow you daft Scot!"
"Awww Kate. Don't be that way. Don't ya want to know if you love me?" Oliver teased with a huge goofy grin on his face, making a flamboyant hand gesture to remove the next petal.
"If I was pondering my love for you, I could make up my mind without consulting a FLOWER!" Katie spat back angrily.
"Kate, what's going on? You're not acting like yourself." Oliver accused.
"Well neither are you! You LOST a Quidditch match and are all cheerful and disgusting. I think you've gone mad, even for you!"
Oliver sat down on the edge of the bed, so he could look Katie in the eyes. "When you shot that Quaffle at me, I thought about the first time I met you. Back at those tryouts. Remember that?"
"Yeah." Katie grudgingly agreed. She was reluctant to allow the happiness that surrounded that memory destroy the foul mood she had been cultivating.
"You were impressive. I was so worried I wouldn't have a team. After you, the only thing I had to panic over was a Seeker; and McGonagall provided me that. I remember being surprised that something so small could hurl a quaffle that hard." Katie allowed herself to giggle a bit. Capitalizing on her good mood, he took a jab at himself, "I also remember I may have had a tiny discussion about 'pulling the wool' over your captain's eyes in tryouts."
"I think that would qualify as complete explosion, at the first official Gryffindor team practice I might add. My first introduction to your Quidditch-induced madness. You yelled at us for a good quarter hour. I should've run then." Katie poked Oliver in the chest for emphasis.
"Ah, but then you'd be without me now, and how would that leave you? And in my own defense, how was I to know that Angelina and Alicia had adopted you and been training you to subvert my attempt at an honest, open try-out?"
Katie smiled. "Hey! I was a lost first year that they found wandering on some fifth-floor corridor looking for Charms. Then Alicia decided I needed 'mentoring' and then they both discovered, as did I, that being on a broomstick was as natural as breathing for me, and voila I was officially adopted. It only made sense to practice with them, to try out with Alicia, they were my friends."
"I suppose I shouldn't complain. I couldn't have asked for more solid girls. It was good to watch you three, I felt like less of a failure. The seekers were all horrible, and I thought 'at least I have that right' when I looked at you three and the twins in the early days. Although I remember thinking I needed to do something about your attitude." Katie wrinkled her nose in distaste. "What did you think then?"
"I was relieved. Everything was going alright then. I was going to play for my house with my two best friends." Katie got a wicked gleam. "I even fancied you a bit then. It was a nice bonus on making the team. But then every girl from Second to Fifth fancied you. Of course, then you and I became me and you." Katie smiled a little and gave a shrug to say "and that's that."
"That was a good idea on our part." Oliver returned her grin. "Now what was going on?"
The smile fell from Katie's face. She sighed heavily, "Tossing the quaffle reminds me of what I have to lose. If I don't get better, I can't fly anymore Oliver. I might not walk. For a while, I could feel the strength returning, I felt like it was getting better. Not today."
Oliver ran a hand comfortingly over her lower leg. "I'm sure it just takes longer for the legs. You do magic with your arms, not them. The inner Kate magic is charting into unfamiliar territory." Oliver tried making light of the situation. Katie looked back at him skeptically. Taking a serious tone "Kate, whatever happens, you're not stuck on the ground. You can always fly with me."
Katie relaxed. "Tell me about Hollyhead."