I am utterly amazing! Kyna McPherson thought in triumph. Maybe I should forego a career in the Diplomatic Corp and become a matchmaker. She really had every reason to be proud of herself as evident by the rather muscular redhead grinning like a complete dolt beside her. George Weasley looked completely oblivious to the world outside of his head. If he manages to botch this again I’ll kill him.
Kyna had spent the last three months trying to plan a way to get George and her friend Marilla Nenar in the same room. The situation had to be just right. They needed some alone time to finally talk about what had happened. Then they’d both figure out just how melodramatic they were acting and finally snog as they were destined to do. When Kyna had discovered that she needed new dress robes for a wedding he mind had started to formulate her plan of action.
It was perfect. There had been no means of escape, both of them were stuck there, in Madame Malkin’s, with only each other for company. One of them had to cave to the pressure and in the end Kyna was immensely glad it was George. She would be in enough trouble when she got back to the flat she shared with Marilla to add anything else on top of it. Looking again at the bloke next to her, she came to the conclusion that it would be worth the wrath of her roommate. As soon as the two of them got their heads on straight again they’d figure out what she had known for over a year now. They were actually pretty perfect for each other. Well as perfect as two people could be at any rate, she admonished herself.
It wasn’t that Kyna didn’t believe in love. (Her parents and grandparents—and great-grandparents for that matter—were very much in love.) It just never seemed very logical to her, and being a Ravenclaw she prided herself on being logical. She hated how so many other witches her age let their mood be completely dependant upon someone else. Loving someone gave them quite a lot of power over you. Alec Kerr had always said that was the Slytherin in her; never wanting to be out of control. He, being a one himself, would probably know. That would also explain why their relationship had never evolved into something more.
So lost was she in her pride that she didn’t notice the filthy man walking down the street staring at her and George. “Oy, Weasley!” George looked about in confusion until his eyes finally rested upon the hulk of mud and brown hair that was Oliver Wood. “And her I always thought my Kyna was too smart to still hang around the likes of you.”
“Good to see you, Wood” George raised an eyebrow. “I thought you’d still be at practice. You were never one to come off the pitch willingly.”
“Coach sent me home for lunch today.” Wood looked sheepish when he continued, “Said he hoped the rest would improve my playing a bit.”
Kyna had been eyeing the man in front of her quizzically since he’d approached her and George. He had grown-up a lot from the boy she’d known as a child. It was more than that though. His complexion was pale and his skin, what she could see around the chunks of mud, was clammy. He looked utterly exhausted.
“I always knew your life revolved around quidditch, but I never thought that would prevent you from being even remotely self-sufficient.” Both men glanced at Kyna with something bordering on surprise. Did they forget I was here so quickly as that? “Well, you look like something Keeper caught and dragged around the flat all day.”
“Ah how I’ve missed your abrasive honesty half-pint,” Wood chuckled. She got the impression that if he wasn’t sweaty and covered in dirt he would have tried to tousle her hair. “I had forgotten about that loving feline you insist on keeping around. I can’t believe you of all people named her after a quidditch position.”
“HE isn’t named after a quidditch position. I just knew how valuable he was from the start so called him Keeper.” It was her turn to laugh now as her eyes were almost level with Oliver’s, “and I haven’t been a half-pint in years now.”
“Quite right Wood, McPherson here is most definitely a full-pint.”
Oliver glanced over at George but addressed both of them, “Since I have to take a break anyway how’s about nipping some lunch with me?”
“Wish I could mate, but as it is Fred’s going to throttle me when I get back.” George gave Kyna a leering look and added, “McPherson here kept me way past my lunch break, not that I didn’t enjoy every second.”
“And yet you fought me the entire time…” now it was Kyna’s turn to give George a leering look. His ears tinted slightly but her gaze had already shifted back to the Quidditch player in front of her. “I’ll take you up on that lunch Oliver. Da gave me the afternoon off and I’m sure he and Lach would skin me if I didn’t find out how training is going.”
She gave George a quick peck on the cheek, causing his ears to glow, and shooed him off. “I wouldn’t want Fred to blame me for the failure of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.” Kyna faced Oliver and smiled, “right then, shall we be off?” They’d taken all of three steps when she abruptly stopped. Oliver looked over at her as if to ask her a question but he never got the chance to make a sound. “OY WEASLEY!” She shouted as she searched the crowded street for George’s retreating form.
“WHAT NOW McPHERSON?” He wasn’t really all that far away she realized, maybe 5 meters. She decided to shout anyway.
“I REALLY DON’T THINK PINK IS YOUR COLOR!”
Confusion was evident on his scowling face as he marched back toward the spot where she and Oliver stood. “What the bloody hell are you talking about now, brat?”
“I was just saying that, although they are rather beautiful robes, pink really isn’t your color—so maybe I could have them back?” He only smirked as he tossed the parcel at her. “I mean, if you really had your heart set on them I guess I could just get another set…” she gave up when she realized she was talking to a retreating back.
She turned back to Oliver, who appeared quite entertained by the spectacle she had caused. “Aren’t you impressed with my ability to make men speechless?”
“So how long has that been going on?” He commented, not answering her. “Lach never mentioned Weasley in any of his letters.” Kyna was confused for all of two seconds before she had to wipe the tears of laughter from her cheek.
“Date. A. Weasley.” She was having trouble breathing she was laughing so hard. After several seconds her laughter died down and she was able to add, “Are you completely nutters? I value my life too much to ever do something that stupid. They’re dangerous, that whole lot is.”
“Good, I would hate to have to pound him in a few weeks when you finally got tired of him.” At this she rolled her eyes. “Plus I don’t relish telling your brother that you were dating anyone, let alone one of the Weasley twins.”
“Lach was never as over-protective of Vina and me as you were. I swear three-quarters of the boys at school wouldn’t look at me for fear that you’d have a ‘talk’ with them later.” She could laugh now about the experience, but at the time she’d been livid. Who knew that Oliver would talk her brother so seriously when he’d asked his friend to watch out for his younger sisters? “Besides, as much as I enjoy men fighting over me you wouldn’t stand a chance.” He appeared to be highly offended by this comment so she quickly added, “well you are tired right? Just having had practice and all, right?”
He grunted and Kyna knew that he was dropping the subject. Still, she couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty over this little lie. Oliver really wouldn’t stand much of a chance in a battle with George Weasley, even if he Oliver in the best of health. While a couple years younger, there was still a reason that the bulky Weasley twins had been beaters. Besides you never knew what one of those tricksters had stuffed up his sleeve.
He really does look horrible, she thought. “Now don’t take this the wrong way Wood, but I don’t particularly want to be seen eating with you in the state you’re in. How’s about we go to your flat and I’ll try and whip something up for lunch while you catch a few winks?”
“I wonder why anyone would take that the wrong way?” he replied in feigned disbelief.
“Oh shut it you. I was only trying to be helpful, you really look like you need some sleep.” She had taken a step closer and was about to link her arm with his as she had done before with George when she thought better of it, “And a shower, Good Goddesses you smell.”
Oliver shrugged and then began to walk down Diagon Alley without her. She had to move quickly and weave between several wizards and witches before she caught up to his brisk stride, making sure not to get too close. She followed his lead to a side street and waited while he shuffled around in his bag for the key. He held the door and waited for her to enter first.
It was rather roomy Kyna was surprised to find out. There was a good size living room, with an adjoining kitchen, and a hallway that she could only guess lead to Oliver’s room. It was also a complete disaster. Along the mantle there were framed pictures, several of which had residents glaring at articles of clothing draped from a corner of their frame or the flies that were circling dirty dishes that seemed to have been long forgotten.
The rest of the room was decorated along the same lines. Dirty clothes, smelly boots, and several empty boxes along with used utensils were spread though out. Looking down, Kyna noticed that they had lovely wood floors, just like in her own apartment. Unlike her place though these had streaks of dirt and a fresh trail of mud, most of which lead to the hallway, but also seemed to align with a darker spot on the bright blue couch. Oliver walked over to a spot on the wall and hung his broom next to two other brackets. It was the cleanest section of the flat as far as Kyna could see.
“Right then, the kitchen’s over there,” Oliver said gesturing to area Kyna had already identified as such. “Not sure how much is in the icebox, but your welcome to whatever you can find. I’ll be just down the hall; my room is the second on the left. Bathroom is straight down. Wake me by 13:30 though right? Hafta get in food and a shower before practice at 15:00.”
“Um, Oliver…” she touched his shoulder before he had finished turning to head down the hallway. “Where exactly is your table? Where are we supposed to eat once it’s all cooked?”
He gave her a look as though she were daft and pointed to a large stack of clothes in the corner. “It’s right there.” With that he left and she heard a door close as he entered his room.
Kyna squinted at the mass that he had said was the table. She could see what might have been the back of a chair but she wasn’t positive. Giving up on actually being able to see, let alone find, a table in the heap she decided to start on lunch. Amazingly when opening the icebox she found enough leftovers to make a stew of sorts and spent the next twenty minutes cleaning a pot and throwing in ingredients. Opening cupboards, Kyna was delighted to discover a hidden stack of clean bowls. Things were starting to look up when she heard the front door open. Freezing in mid-reach she just stared.
“Merlin Wood, Coach should send your arse home early more often if it means we’re actually going to get food that smells that good.” Two sets of footsteps approached the kitchen. “Hullo there, you ain’t Wood!” the voice sounded surprised.
Kyna’s grey-green eyes met a pair of inquisitive blue ones. It took her several seconds to recover, “Um…er no, I’m not. He’s taking a kip.” She shook her head to bring everything back into the present and looking up at the young man in front of her she noticed that he had two heads (well, one head and another belonging to someone attempting to see over his shoulder). “Quit blocking the view you git.” she heard the second stranger mutter.
“Sorry ‘bout him,” blue eyes extended his hand toward her. “I’m David Johansen.” Kyna took his hand, shaking it briefly. “I’m one the chasers. This dolt behind me is…” At that second man stepped around David.
“Jakob Winters at your service.” He grasped Kyna’s hand bowing and placed a wet kiss just above her knuckles, “reserve beater for Puddlemere.”
If she hadn’t been so flustered by the two of them entering the flat she might have had a comment on that last maneuver. As it was she merely snatched her hand back quickly. “My name is Kyna McPherson. I’m a friend of Oliver’s.”
“We gathered as much,” commented the one named David, the sarcasm oozing off the words. “The git didn’t tell you he had flat mates I take it?” He looked around, and winced. “I see he didn’t bother to pick-up at all before he brought you back either.”
“I’m not sure he really expected to bring me back. We just sort of ran into each other. Besides I have an older brother, this is nothing.” She smiled at him, “When Lach was still at home he and Oliver would destroy both our houses every summer. Me mum would be finding pieces of their uniforms for months.”
David and Kyna’s laughter was cut short by a gunt from Jakob. “I’m going to hit the showers.” And he stalked down the hallway.
Kyna worried her bottom lip. She didn’t know why, but she was pretty sure that Jakob had taken a disliking to her already. If she caused problems between Oliver and his flat mates she’d never hear the end of it. “Don’t mind him. Jakob is always a little gruff, his parents didn’t properly socialize him as a child.” his voice had risen so much so that by the end he was almost shouting down the hallway. “Right, need any help?”
“Well, it would be nice to have someplace to eat at…” she eyed the mass that was a table and walked into the living room. David followed her and simply shook his head.
“Nope, that’ll hafta wait until Saturday when our mums pick-up the laundry. Anything else?”
Kyna arched a brow, “I suppose they do the dishes when the come too?”
“Um, well as to that. Eventually one of us will break down and cast a Scourgify. Winters is best at those, but we have to practically beat him into submission to get him to do it.”
“Like you could ever beat me into submission.” Jakob was walking back into the living room. He was wearing the same dirty practice quidditch robes he’d left in and was toweling off his hair, which Kyna could now distinguish as dark blonde. “I’d like to see you try Johansen, even with Wood.”
Kyna was glad that she could tell this was just good-natured ribbing, which made her very relieved. As much as she proclaimed to be tough, she wasn’t sure exactly how she would handle to six foot plus males actually attacking one another. “That was rather quick. Could you possibly testify to my flatmate that it isn’t ridiculous to shower in less than half an hour?”
“Anytime. I’ll even show you how it’s done if you like?”
Kyna didn’t like the predatory gleam he was giving her. “I really don’t think that will be necessary. I am perfectly capable of showering alone.”
“Ahh, a thought to dream about. Don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep tonight.”
“How’s about some stew?” She walked back into the kitchen and started opening cupboards again. “I could have sworn that I saw a lot of rolls around here somewhere.” David popped up next to her with bag in hand. “Oh, thanks.” She turned to reach the bowls she had found earlier only to see that Jakob had beaten her to them and was setting four on one of the few clear spaces of the counter top. She gave him her warmest smile, “Are you a diviner?” Jakob gave David a gloating look.
Kyna filled two of the bowls and handed them to Winters and Johansen. “You ain’t going to eat with us?” Winters questioned.
“I think I’ll wait for Oliver, but I’ll sit with you both while you eat if that’s alright.”
She followed them into the living room where they took up the entire couch leaving Kyna to wonder exactly where she was supposed to go. Finally she settled on a heap of robes that looked slightly cleaner than the others.
The trio talked for almost two hours, mainly about quidditch but both men also seemed interested in hearing about how Kyna had come to know Oliver. Neither was overly surprised that it had to do with quidditch. All three laughed as David and Jakob told Kyna about the first time they had been introduced to Oliver. (He’d fallen onto David as Jakob had accidentally clobbered him with a bludger at try-outs). It turned out that David was a year older than Oliver, while Jakob was the same age as Oliver and neither had attended Hogwarts. Their laughter over the Kyna’s last story about Oliver’s early days of quidditch, when he wanted to be a seeker (“Glory hound in those days”), must have been loud because when she looked up Kyna saw a disgruntle looking Wood walking toward them.
“Brat I thought I told you to wake me up, now I won’t have time to shower before practice.” The jumper he was attempting to pull over his head as he walked muffled half of this. Once his head popped out the top everyone could see his cheeks were flushed and his brown eyes had a glazed look to them. He looked confused to see people that weren’t Kyna in the living room.
“I don’t think it’d be a good idea for you to go to practice tonight.” Kyna glared as the pair on the couch started snickering. “Maybe it would be better if you told your coach you were too sick, then took the rest of the night off.” Now the duo on the couch were holding their stomachs they were laughing so hard and talking in what they must have thought were whispers. “She actually thinks she can keep him from going to practice.” “She must be nutters that one.” “That’s how they met, they’re both bloody bonkers.”
Ignoring them both Kyna walked over to Oliver and put her hand on his forehead. “Nope definitely a bad idea to go to practice. You’ve got a fever.” In reality she had no idea whether the quidditch player had a fever or not, but it didn’t hurt to pretend.
“I can’t miss practice. Have you lost it?” Now all three men in the room had called her crazy and Kyna had had just about enough. “What are you two doing home? Come to rub it in?”
“I’m sorry, did I make that sound like an option?” Kyna’s cold voice prevented the two from responding to Oliver’s question. She narrowed her eyes at him. Jakob and David stopped laughing and sat gaping at her. Even Oliver looked taken aback by her tone. “It wasn’t. You are going to walk yourself back down that hallway and take a shower. After which you will sit down and eat. Then you will retire to your room where you will spend the remainder of the evening in bed.” Her arms were crossed and her stance didn’t suggest she was open to compromise.
Oliver returned her glare with a mulish look of his own. “I’m going to practice, McPherson, and now thanks to you I don’t have time to eat before hand. But make no mistake, there is nothing you can do to prevent me from going.”
“Kyna, maybe you should just let him go,” worry was evident in David’s voice. “You know how he gets. We’ll make sure he goes straight to bed when we’re done, won’t we Jakob?”
If Jakob nodded Kyna never saw; her eyes were locked with Oliver’s in a non-verbal battle to the death. She knew she’d win, Oliver never had the patience to really stare down an opponent.
He let out a frustrated grunt and looked down. “Kyna. I. Am. Going. To. Practice.” It was said through gritted teeth, but she didn’t appear at all worried. In fact, she turned her back to him and plopped herself back down on the ‘clean’ stack of robes.
“If you are that determined then I guess I really can’t stop you…” all three boys were looking at her. Clearly her abrupt change in attitude was confusing them.
“Well then, we should be off you lot. Wouldn’t want coach…” the words died on Oliver’s lips. Kyna was getting up and making quite a production of straightening her jumper. “You don’t have to leave right off Brat.”
“Oh, but Oliver,” she sounded like very surprised 13-year-old, “I’m coming with you.”
“YOU’RE WHAT?” shouted three male voices.
“Obviously someone needs to talk to your coach and explain to him that Oliver, while he might infect the entire team, is really just trying to be a good player. If it just happens that none of the starters can play in next week’s season opener, well those are just the risks you run when you have someone as dedicated as Wood on your team—and really, isn’t that a good thing?”
Kyna couldn’t tell if Oliver’s face was flushed with fever or if his temperature was rising for whole other reasons. Either way, things were not going as well as could have been hoped. She knew she was right, she was always right, and Oliver needed to stay home for his own good. Sitting on the pile of laundry, it occurred to her exactly what she was attempting to do. It was possibly the most dangerous things she had ever undertaken and as she had at times helped Fred and George Weasley with “research” that was saying a lot. Kyna was attempting to stand between Oliver Wood and a quidditch pitch. Divine intervention was needed if she was to have any chance at survival.
“Oy, If Wood won’t stick around and let you force him into bed I’d be willing to offer myself as a replacement.”
The glowering quidditch player’s brown eyes were almost crackling with his anger now. “Winters, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll shut your bloody yap.” While Kyna was glad that his anger was no longer being directed solely onto her, she did feel guilty for pushing him as far as she had. Placing a hand on his arm lightly her mind raced for something to say to lighten the mood.
“I don’t break my promises, even if I was only 13-years old at the time.”
“What is that…” but confusion soon left his features to be replaced by a smirk of triumph. “Still holding to that, even now?”
“What exactly did you happen to promise, if you don’t mind me inquiring?” It was David speaking now.
“That I would never date a quidditch player because they are all a bunch of duffers,” she said gleefully. To the obvious surprise of both David and Jakob, Oliver Wood, the world’s most maniacal quidditch player was laughing.
With the mood sufficiently jovial, Kyna felt justified in bring the conversation back to her original goal. She was nothing if not persistent. “Speaking of duffers, Oliver could you be logical about this for just a few seconds please.” There was still a teasing light to her voice.
“You are going to play like dung because you’re sick. It’s possible that you may even fall off your broom with out Jakob’s loving assistance, if you faint from the fever that you likely have. I don’t see that being very impressive to your coach. I mean honestly, at this point your flat is in better shape than you are.”
“She’s right you know.” Both Kyna and Oliver turned to David, “Coach will understand, Merlin, he sent you home early in hopes you’d pass out here rather than at the pitch. ‘Bloody hassle to transport!’” David ended in a gravelly voice, that Kyna supposed was an impression of their coach.
“I’ll even explain why you aren’t coming,” volunteered Jakob. “That is unless you think a note from your mum here would be better.”
“Why don’t you leave the explaining to David, you’d make a proper mess of it.”
“If it’d make it any easier on your sense of duty I can always threaten to owl mother.”
“Hows about I got for only half…”
“What is it with you Gryffindors? Merlin! It’s a wonder any of you survive to procreate,” at this point Kyna was rolling her eyes. “You might as well just sit down and eat now. By the time you get your gear together, get to the locker rooms, change, you’ll be late. It’d be much better to serve your punishment when you are healthy enough to make it benefit you at least a little. Besides, you are going to make those two late as well if you keep this up.”
David, who had been nervously glancing at the wall every few seconds for the past quarter hour gave Oliver a sheepish grin. Jakob didn’t look the least bit concerned that he’d been so obvious about checking his watch. He did stumble slightly as Kyna heaved a dingy duffle into his arms. A small puff of dust caused both of them to sneeze before, the disgruntle young woman began muttering to herself as she proceeded to bend down to pick up another navy bag, throwing her dark ropes of curl over her should and out of her way. Thinking better of it Kyna straightened up and merely pointed the worn kit bag, “I think you are intelligent enough to lift your own belongings, Mr. Johansen.”
“Here now, you packed out bags?” Jakob hesitated and Kyna could almost hear the war going on in his mind.
“Yes, and you don’t need to concern yourself. I didn’t wash anything. Your putrid lucky socks are just as grimy as they were before.”
“You sure I’m not going to be suitin’ up and discover that I’m short one shin guard?”
Jakob continued to look skeptical about Kyna’s credentials in knowing how to pack a quidditch bag. “I do know what’s required to play the sport. I’ve had it ingrained in me since I could toddle. My father was on the Prides for a number of years and would have viewed himself a failure if I didn’t at least know how Quidditch was played.”
Jakob was attempting to dig his heels into the hardwood floor to prevent Kyna from pushing him out of his own flat. “But how’d you pack up all of it without David and I noticing?”
“Sometimes I managed to amaze even myself with my numerous talents. Now out or you really will be late for practice.”
Kyna turned around only to find her sickly friend chuckling to himself. She would have demanded, politely, for him to let her in on the joke, but didn’t want to push her luck anymore than she already had that afternoon. He was sitting on the recently vacated couch, which she took as her cue to bring him food.
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