The next day, Oliver decided that perhaps, he should go to the library. There were even less distracting factors there, and he needed to focus. Transfiguration wasn't the easiest class in the bunch. As a matter of fact, it might just be the hardest one. A downside of the library was the fact that he couldn't practise, but he could always do that when he came back.
So after having breakfast, he asked Mrs Roberts where he could find the library, and she gladly explained it to him. She even gave him money to buy himself some lunch, and no matter how much Oliver protested, she insisted, saying that he hadn't bought himself a snack after all the day before.
The library, he immediately noticed, was rather empty. There weren't very many people, and he blamed the fact that is was Easter break. No one in their right mind would go to the library if they didn't have to, especially now.
It didn't surprise him at all to see Michelle there as well, but before she could take notice of him, he was gone again. He didn't want to be around her, and she didn't appear to want to be around him. Easy enough. Sitting down in the furthest corner of the library, he took his Transfiguration book out of the bag Mrs Roberts had lent him as well and opened it.
Some time later – Oliver was certain that it was almost lunch time, as his stomach started grumbling – he gathered his stuff again and hastily walked out of the library. He thought that he had seen a pub of sorts on his way to the library, and he hoped that he could buy some food there.
Apart from some boys and girls of around his own age, there was nobody in there. They all eyed him curiously, as if nobody ever came her except for them. As if they had never seen a stranger in their entire lives. Ignoring them, Oliver sought out a spot close to the window and picked up the menu. Or, what he supposed was the menu. There wasn't much on there, and half of what was on there was unknown to him.
Before he had made his choice, the door opened again. Out of habit, he glanced up to see who it was, and immediately looked away again. If he had known that she would come here for lunch, he would have thought twice about walking in.
It appeared that Michelle knew the other people who were there already, and Oliver peeked over the top of his menu to have another look at the group. Were they her friends? That was very likely, as they greeted her happily.
After a few minutes, they suddenly started speaking louder, as if they were excited about something.
"Do you know who that is?" someone asked.
"I've never seen him before."
"Why would he be here?"
Staring out of the window, Oliver didn't need more than one guess to know whom they were talking about. He wondered whether they were speaking so loudly just so he could hear them, or because they thought he was deaf or that they weren't actually so loud.
"God, what are you doing here?" That question was obviously directed at him, and Oliver had noticed a person approaching him in the reflection of the window.
"Having lunch," he replied, facing Michelle. "I wasn't aware that that was forbidden."
"But – why here?" she asked oddly.
"It was the only place I had found around here so far." That was true. It wouldn't surprise him, actually, if this was really the only place to have lunch in the entire town.
She sighed heavily and turned back around. As he hadn't expected anything else, that was just fine for him. He could hear her friends launch all sorts of questions at her as she sat back down.
"Some friend of Lori's who came over for the holiday," he could hear her mutter, and he huffed. A friend of Lori's? Really?
Before he knew it, however, two boys were standing where Michelle just stood, and one of them said, "You can join us, if you want to."
"Oh, no, that's okay," he swiftly declined. The boys were quickly joined by a girl who almost dragged him over to where the group was sitting. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Michelle narrow her eyes.
"So, who are you?" the girl who had dragged him over asked eagerly.
The entire group looked at him with great interest – except for Michelle, of course. She just rolled her eyes, and Oliver shrugged at her. It wasn't his fault he was here.
"I'm Oliver Wood. And I'm not a friend of Lori's." He glared in Michelle's direction, and now she huffed.
"Why are you here, then?" she challenged him.
"Because I didn't know her at all, and I'm supposed to study," he retorted. "Trust me, it wasn't my idea."
"So you're attending the same school Lori and Steven go to?" another girl asked him, and he nodded hesitantly. He hoped that he wouldn't have to come up with a name or something.
"You mean that school for kids with study issues?" a boy asked him. A silence followed in which Oliver tried desperately to catch Michelle's eye, to get her to let him know whether that was correct or not. She, however, evaded his gaze by looking at the table instead.
"Yes, that's the one," Oliver responded in the end. A school for kids with trouble studying? It was hard to believe that that was what they had come up with to explain the absence of those two kids during the year.
Right then, someone came to ask them what they wanted to eat, and it turned out that almost everyone had already eaten. Oliver decided that it would be safest to pick something he knew, so he ordered some toast, no matter how oddly everyone stared at him.
"Make that two," Michelle piped up all of a sudden, not looking him in the eye again.
"I didn't know you were hungry," the boy sitting next to her said confusedly.
"What does it matter?" she asked, staring at the window, seemingly in thought.
The boy shut up, but upon seeing Oliver looking their way, he narrowed his eyes. "What do you want?" he asked, and Oliver shrugged.
"Stay out of other people's business," the boy muttered. Not knowing what to think of that, Oliver cast Michelle a glance, and she smiled somewhat apologetically at him. Now that was unexpected. "I didn't even know you liked toast," the same boy told her.
"What does it matter?" she repeated, sounding exasperated now. "Why is that so important to you?"
Not answering again, the boy shot Oliver a glare and started a conversation with some of his other friends.
Two minutes later, the toast arrived, and Oliver was glad for the distraction. At least he had something to do now. He was starting to feel rather uncomfortable, listening to the various conversations without knowing any background.
He ate in silence – as did Michelle – and when he was done, he figured that it was probably for the best to go back to the library. After telling the group that he should be off again, and after paying, he quickly left, not ignoring the protests of some of them.
Arriving in the library, he sat down at a table slightly closer to the entrance, as he didn't feel like it mattered where exactly he sat. If he could study, it was good enough for him.
He had been sitting there for less than ten minutes when he heard something. He looked up and saw, to his surprise, Michelle sitting down opposite him, not looking him in the eye again, but definitely there. Certain that this was not the table she had been sitting earlier on, he continued staring at her for another minute. She didn't look up – after all, she was a master at ignoring him – but he just couldn't look away. Not that he was enchanted by her or anything – he was just wondering why she was behaving like this. One moment she acted as if she despised him, though she hardly even knew him, and the next, she almost seemed like a normal human being.
In the end, he turned back to his own books, but he couldn't really focus. It was strange, and incredibly annoying as well. He couldn't help glancing at her every few minutes. She was only concentrating on her book, and it irritated him immensely that she was a much quicker reader than he was, even if he wouldn't look up. Then again, Lori had described her as quite the book lover already, so she must be used to reading a lot and reading quickly.
Merlin, why was he thinking about all this? He had better things to do than overthinking this situation as radically as he did now.
He didn't know how long they sat there, but at some point, he felt something poking his arm. As he looked up, they both blinked, probably at the sudden eye-contact, and she quickly pulled her own arm back.
"Dinner's in half an hour," she whispered quietly, and he had to listen very carefully to make out what she was saying exactly. "I don't know about you, but I'm going home."
He nodded hastily and shoved all his stuff in the bag again. When he stood up, she was still frowning at the spot where he had just been sitting. Odd.
"Why did you sit with me?" he asked as they walked out of the building and onto the street. He really wanted to know the answer to that.
"I don't know," she replied softly. "It would just be weird to… walk past like that, wouldn't it?"
"Didn't you hate me for some reason?" he asked, evading her question. She seemed to notice this.
"No," she responded. "Yes. I – answer my question first, would you?" Now she sounded just like she had the past few days. Oliver was beginning to wonder where that attitude had run off to.
"I thought you wanted nothing to do with me," he informed her, "so I indeed walked straight past you this morning."
"I knew it," she muttered.
"Typical?" he offered, but he shut up as she shot him a dirty look.
"My sister and I don't exactly see eye to eye," she told him somewhat needlessly. He had figured that out by himself already. "So I don't exactly like her friends either."
"Oh," he said, suddenly understanding it all. Still, it wasn't very nice. "So as long as you thought I was actually Lori's friend, you hated me. When you figured out that I'm not her friend, you no longer hate me? That's just weird."
"No," she corrected him. "When I thought you were Lori's friend, I… may have acted a bit… immature. Now that you're not her friend, that's no longer necessary."
Hardly seeing any difference between the two, Oliver just shrugged. "What a sudden change of attitude," he commented, and she rolled her eyes.
"It's not as if you're entirely innocent in this matter," she reminded him, and he had to admit that she might be right. Only a little bit, though.
"But your parents didn't tell you why I was coming, then?" he asked curiously. He thought that Lori had told her parents why he was coming around for Easter, and it would be odd if they, in turn, hadn't told their oldest daughter about this.
"No, not that I remember," she replied. Oliver nodded slowly, not sure if she was speaking the truth or not.
"Charming boyfriend you've got," he changed the subject, and she looked up at him in alarm.
"Who, Jacob? He's not my boyfriend. Definitely not." She looked positively disturbed as this comment, and for some reason, Oliver decided that he wasn't quite done yet.
"He seemed to think so, though."
"Jake's an idiot," she informed him. "A very possessive idiot. He's nice as a friend, but… that's all. Besides, he's creepy."
"Sounds like a great friend," he muttered, feeling glad that he didn't have friends like that, be they male or female.
"Yeah, well…" she mumbled in reply. In a slightly louder voice, she continued, "You were quite a hit."
"What?" he asked, not fully understanding her at first. Then – "Seriously?"
"Didn't you notice?" she asked, snorting a bit, but then she seemed to realise whom she was talking to. "Yes, you were," she added sourly. Oliver wondered why. "You're really oblivious."
He shrugged. He'd been told the same thing numerous times already by his friends, but he didn't know if it was necessarily a bad trait.
"Thank you," he therefore replied, and she rolled her eyes again. By now, they had reached their destination. Mrs Roberts looked rather surprised at seeing the two of them come in together, but she didn't comment on it, and neither did Michelle. She just ran towards her room, and Oliver followed at a much slower pace to retrieve his books from the bag, so he could give it back.
It really turned out to be dinner time – they were called back downstairs less than five minutes later, and Mr Roberts seemed to have come home as well all of a sudden.
While they ate, Mrs Roberts kept looking from Michelle to Oliver and back, as if trying to figure out what had happened. Lori and Steven, noticing their mother's not very well hidden glances, seemed curious as well. Michelle, however, had returned to her moody demeanour (probably because she was in the same room as Lori at the moment), so she just snapped at whoever tried to ask her something.
She really was a ray of sunshine.
After dinner, Michelle bolted up the stairs again, clearly happy to be out of there and away from all of them. Both Mr and Mrs Roberts shot Oliver knowing looks, but what they knew, he wasn't so sure of.
When he walked upstairs as well, he bumped into Michelle, who just exited the bathroom at that moment. Instinctively, he grabbed her arm to prevent her from falling, and he was surprised to feel some sort of… jolt shoot through his entire body. Blinking confusedly, he looked down at her, and he wasn't surprised when he saw that she wasn't looking back at him.
"Sorry about that," he said hastily, and now, she did meet his gaze. Only for a split-second, though. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," she mumbled in reply. She should really work on speaking a little more clearly. "I'm sorry too. I should've just watched out. Well… uh – bye."
Frowning slightly as he stared after her, Oliver tried to make sense of what had just happened. Where did that weird feeling come from? Sure, he was glad that she didn't snap or shout or hiss at him for bumping into her, but this was entirely new to him.
That evening, he practised the spells and hexes he had read all about in the library, but he couldn't stop his thoughts from drifting off every now and then. This would really be a night full of wonderfully incomprehensible dreams. He was sure of it.
A/N: So... what do you think? :) Let me know, please review!