Romance, Mud, and the Flu


"Yeah, Wood?"

"What do you mean, 'yeah?' Get down here!"

Fred Weasley gave an exaggerated sigh and turned his broom towards the ground. Oliver Wood as standing there, broom planted firmly in the mud. His hair was plastered to his head from the rain pouring down, and water was dripping off his sopping clothes. Fred assumed he looked much the same as he pulled his Cleansweep Seven parallel with the ground. "Yeah, Wood?" he repeated with a wide grin.

Oliver glared. "What are you doing up there?"

"Well, I thought I was practicing Quidditch."

"Do you realize we have a match on Saturday?!"

"Yes, Wood. I thought that's why we were practicing."

"It is!" Oliver yelled. "So what are you doing? That bludger almost hit Angelina in the face!"

Fred stopped grinning and looked up into the gray, misty sky. There were vague forms circling, and he yelled, "Sorry, Angelina!"

"S'okay, Fred!" a girl's voice floated down.

Turning back to Oliver, Fred said, "See, no harm done."

"A mistake like that could cost us the match," Wood retorted through gritted teeth.

A flash of lightning briefly illuminated the other five members of the team flying above. Fred shook his head. "Wood, they wouldn't let us play in this weather. You shouldn't be letting us practice in it."

Another form swooped down. Wiping his dripping hair out of his face, George Weasley yelled over a crack of thunder, "Fred's right! We're not getting anything out of this—except maybe pneumonia!"

Oliver glanced upwards at the team's Chasers, who were now hovering directly above them. "Where's Harry?" he questioned.

"Off trying to find the snitch," George said. "He never will. Let's go in!"

Chewing his lip, Oliver finally conceded, "Fine. But that means I want you out here at five tomorrow morning."

"Sure. Anything."

George yelled up the good news and the remaining team members landed gratefully.

As Angelina Johnson put her feet on the ground, Fred asked, "Did I really almost hit you?"

She lifted her robes out of the mud. "Yeah. Almost broke my nose, Weasley." At his unamused expression, she laughed and playfully punched his shoulder. "Oh, c'mon, Fred, I'm only joking."

"I know. I must be in a bad mood. You breaking your nose just doesn't seem as funny as it usually would." They grinned at each other and started across the field, slightly behind everyone else. The rain seemed to be getting heavier, not to mention colder and even more wet. Fred pushed his hair out of his eyes for the hundredth time and grumbled, "At this rate, we'll all be hallucinating with fever during Saturday's match."

"I'm sure your immune system can handle it."

"No, I'm weak, Angelina, I'm weak."

"Oh, right."

Fred plopped his foot into a puddle, which was deeper than he'd thought. Quite suddenly, he lost his balance and slipped, landing with a splash of water and mud on the ground. Not that it mattered—he was soaked to the bone already. The disgusting black mud would be hard to get off, though…

Peering up through the rain pounding on his face, Fred sighed dramatically, "Surely I have died, for you could be naught but an angel."

"Ha ha," Angelina said by way of reply. She held out her hand to help him up, but when he grasped it, instead of standing, he pulled her into the puddle with him. She yelled in surprise, and when she tried to get to her feet, she only slipped again and landed back in the water. "You prat!" she shouted at Fred, who was near asphyxiation he was laughing so hard. For a moment, she glowered at him, but then a smile began twitching at her lips.

Fred put his arm around her shoulders and leaned against her. "You think I'm an idiot."

"I thought you already knew that."

He stared at her goofily for a minute, then sighed and moved a string of her hair to the side of her face. "I wasn't kidding, you know. You look like an angel. I could call you that."

"You wouldn't."

"I just might."

Angelina smiled slightly. "Should we get up?"

"I don't know. I kind of like this."

"You aren't your usual boisterous self."

"Maybe you bring out my softer, gentler side."

With a laugh, Angelina replied, "You don't have one."

"Do too!" Fred retorted defensively. Abruptly, he leaned over and kissed her forehead. "See? Now, I would only do that to you, I assure you. So it must be you that has given this new Fred a chance to surface."

Angelina looked at him questioningly. "This is uncharacteristic."

"I've been doing some soul-searching."

"Shutup. Be serious."

He smiled. "You're the neatest person I know, Angelina. And I've been trying to work up the nerve to say that for years."

"You saved me the trouble of having to say it to you."

"That's because I always try to look out for you."

"Gosh, thanks, Weasley."

"No problem."

They blinked at each other for a moment before Fred asked, "Can I kiss you?"

"Please do."

He pulled her closer and the two of them shyly shared their first kiss, with the cold rain pounding all around and the black mud soaking into their robes.

"Hey, Weasley, Johnson!"

They broke apart and looked up at the top of the hill. Oliver was standing there, staring down at them. It was hard to tell, but he appeared to be smiling. "Like I said, five o'clock in the morning! Better get inside!"

Fred helped Angelina to her feet, and they trudged back to the castle with water sloshing in their shoes and their fingers entwined.

Two days later, they were both in bed with the flu.