DISCLAIMER: This is JKR’s universe. All characters belong to her. I’m only visiting.
Chapter Two: Trying to Forget
By Mademoiselle LaCroix
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on.
And it makes me wonder.
Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know,
The piper's calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.
-- Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven"
When the sunlight streaming in
through the gap in the curtains finally hit the head of the bed, Ron groaned
and rolled over, putting his face into his pillow. His head was throbbing and
the light only intensified the pain. He turned over; trying to fall back to
sleep, but his body gave a sudden and violent jerk. It was in one instant, as
his mind regained consciousness, that the memory of the previous night's occurrences
came crashing back to him. He quickly opened his eyes, gritting his teeth
against the pain that the light caused when it hit his eyes.
But his headache was nothing to the scene that began replaying itself in his mind. The pale face, the warm breath in his ear…
I own you, Weasley.
Ron shuddered. Those four foul words would torment him until his dying day. Being in close proximity to a Dementor hadn’t ever made Ron feel as ill as having Draco Malfoy stare him down as he uttered that phrase.
Ron stayed in bed for several minutes before deciding that sleep was no longer an option, and then finally lifted himself out of the bed and forced his aching muscles to walk him into the bathroom.
You have no idea," Ron replied to the mirror as he splashed cool water on his face.
It had to be a joke. A sick, disgusting, horrible, vile joke. Ron looked back in the mirror. He looked like bloody hell. His eyes were bloodshot with dark circles underneath and his face was so pale that his freckles stood out even more than usual. Maybe a shower would wipe it all away. At the very least it would wash away the trace of Malfoy’s cologne that seemed to be hanging around in the air surrounding him. You could choke a troll with that stuff.
Turning on the water as hot as he could stand it, Ron stepped into the shower. However, the hot water did little to relieve the tension in his body. His muscles, already sore from the Quidditch match were in knots. And he just couldn't stop his mind from replaying the bloody awful scene over and over again. The pale, pointed face just inches from his, the warm breath on his cheek as the horrible words were spoken in his ear, the hand on his arm holding him back…
Ron grabbed the soap and began washing himself as hard as he could. As he scrubbed, he closed his eyes and repeated his new mantra over and over again: “It did not happen. It did not happen. It did not happen.” As if sheer willpower could make everything disappear. But it didn’t matter. Open or closed, clean or dirty, all Ron could think about was Malfoy. He couldn't stand it. He needed to do something. Anything.
After twenty minutes in the shower he still didn’t feel any better. He knew he had to do something. Anything. So, wrapping a towel around his wet body, Ron walked back into his bedroom, picked up his wand from the dresser, and pointed it at his forehead. Forgetting was obviously impossible - without massive amounts of alcohol anyway. And unfortunately he couldn't spend all his time drunk. This called for something even stronger than Ogden’s. What he needed was a memory charm. He’d do it to himself. He had cast them before on other people; casting one on himself so that he would forget just one night should be simple. Anything.
But Ron sighed and dropped his wand arm. He knew that it would only give him short term relief, and if Malfoy really had bought the Chudley Cannons, then this was a long-term problem. Ron threw his wand on the bed and unwrapped the towel from his waist, drying his hair. Then, remembering something else Malfoy had said, he stood up straight, flexed his muscles, and turned to look at his naked body in the mirror that hung on back of his bedroom door. Quidditch had done a lot toward filling out his once skinny frame. And of course, he was a Weasley. Of course he was the player with the broadest appeal - farthest reaching, more like. Who couldn’t see that? Those Chudley Quidditch robes were far from baggy.
Throwing on a t-shirt and jeans, Ron decided to get to the bottom of the whole debacle and there was one person he knew that could give him some answers. So with little hope that this could all be blamed on too much alcohol, Ron grabbed his wand and with a pop! he Apparated away.
“Oi! Oliver! Open up!” Ron pounded on the door of Oliver’s flat, shouting as loud as he could. No one was answering and there weren’t any sounds coming from behind the door to indicate that someone was coming, but Ron knew he was in there. Probably nursing a hangover ten times what Ron had.
“Wood! I know you’re in there! Open the door!” Ron continued to pound for several minutes until he finally heard footsteps approaching. The door opened to reveal a disheveled and very hung over-looking Oliver Wood. Oliver immediately turned around and walked over to the sofa where he collapsed in a heap of pajamas and skin with his hands over his face. Ron was afraid to say anything. From the way Oliver’s chest was heaving up and down, he was almost positive that his team captain was starting to cry.
Ron stood uncomfortably careful not to stare at the crying Wood. He looked around for a place to sit, but Oliver wasn’t much for furniture, opting instead for shelves full of Quidditch trophies and boxes that undoubtedly held Quidditch equipment. Quidditch Weekly and Quidditch Illustrated were strewn across the floor around the sofa which was, besides the small kitchen table and chairs, the only real furniture in the apartment. Ron could only assume that the bedroom contained an actual bed, but knowing Oliver it was probably a bed of nails.
Deciding to bring a chair in from the kitchen, Ron took a seat across from the now recovering Oliver who was now sitting up. For a man that was bawling his eyes out not less than a minute ago, he looked surprisingly composed.
“Oliver-” Ron started, but was cut off.
“No, Ron, listen. I know what you’re going to say,” he began, “but honestly, I wasn’t even certain the deal would go through. Last I heard from the attorneys was that Malfoy’s assets were still frozen by the Ministry.”
“Yeah, well, obviously not.” Ron had come prepared to vent his anger, but he could see that Oliver was already taking this just as hard – if not harder – than he was. Watching a grown main cry was not something he wanted to do again.
“Well I heard he hired Aaronious Taint. If anyone can get around the law without concern over right or wrong, he’s your man.” Oliver continued, “And I swear I didn’t find out that anything was happening until just before the game.”
Ron understood. He knew that Oliver wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize a possible win. Too bad they hadn’t even come close. “So Malfoy owns the Cannons. What now?” Ron asked, hoping Oliver would have some magical solution to the problem.
“Look, Ron,” he started, looking grave, “I don’t like it anymore than you, but we have to continue to play. That’s what it’s all about anyway, right? The Quidditch.” Ron could see that the maniacal look was starting to creep back into Oliver’s eyes. “With any luck Malfoy’s money can get us another Seeker. Someone that’s actually not afraid of his own shadow. And besides, you have nothing to worry about. You’re the star player with a new five-year contract. Malfoy can’t touch you for at least that long.”
“Yeah...” Ron had to agree with him there, but there was something else that was continuing to make him feel uneasy. Malfoy could touch him. He already had. “Yeah,” he repeated, “but he claims that my contract allows for him to sell me out for endorsements.”
Oliver nodded. “It’s a standard clause in most Quidditch contracts. Ballycastle started it. Those guys hate it. Imagine having to spend your day with a giant purple bat.”
“I just don’t know, Oliver. He’s already booked me to do something over at Quality Quidditch Supplies first thing Monday morning.” Ron could only imagine what humiliation he would be subjected to at the hands of Malfoy. “I just don’t know that I can work for him.”
“Look, Ron. I can’t make you stay. And with a few galleons and a good attorney, you can be out of your contract in a second, but think about it, think about what that would mean. You are playing for the Cannons at a crucial time in the team’s history.” Oliver was in full Quidditch mode, standing and fully animated. “They’ve been on a loosing streak for over a century! We can be the two that turn it around!”
That was it. Oliver was playing on Ron’s intense Chudley pride and desire to win. Oliver knew that Ron wouldn’t quit. And Ron knew that he couldn’t stop. Not now. Not when winning was just a Seeker away.
“So what’s it going to be? Are you in?”
Ron sighed, “Yeah, I’m in. But if Malfoy doesn’t put out for a new starting Seeker, I might have to take Ballycastle up on their offer. Barney or no. At least the bat gets you Butterbeer.”
“That’s what I want to hear! You won’t regret it. Chudley is going to be restored to it’s former glory and Weasley and Wood are going to make it happen!” He was practically jumping up and down as he spoke. “Breakfast is on me! I’ll just go throw on some clothes,” he finished, hurrying off to the bedroom. Ron could never get over how fast Oliver’s moods changed. One minute he was incapacitated and crying like a baby, the next he would be running around in a mania.
“I’m going to need more than just Breakfast, Wood,” Ron called after him. “Bloody Marys – a couple of pitchers. With my own bottle on the side.” Oliver walked back out into the room, looking as though he was going to start lecturing.
“Don’t even try it, Wood. If you expect me to work with you and for Malfoy, I intend to be pissed at every possible moment. It’s the only way I’m going to get through it,” he insisted. “Besides, it’s a by-week.”
“Just make sure you keep your nose clean on game days, Weasley,” Oliver said with complete seriousness.
Ron rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah,” he replied, pushing Oliver out the door. The sooner they got to the bar, the sooner he could drink away Malfoy’s voice…
And cologne. Ron sniffed the air. That stuff just did not want to leave. It was like it had burned itself into Ron’s nose.
Ron quickened his step to keep up with Oliver, who was going on and on about a new Quidditch strategy.
Yeah, some Bloody Marys ought to do the trick. At least until Monday.
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