***Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry***
Oliver Wood frowned as he looked out of one of the windows in the Gryffindor common room, a distinctly uncomfortable feeling descending over him. It had been over an hour since he had left Katie at the door to Professor McGonagall’s office, the young man knowing better than to try and follow Katie and the head of house inside the office, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. Silly, he supposed, but the look on McGonagall’s face when she’d come looking for Katie had certainly been serious. Of course, Oliver sort of figured that most of the school would keel over in shock if the stern Transfiguration professor ever actually smiled, but this look had been a bit more serious than usual.
“Eh, you all right, Oliver?”
The seventh year Gryffindor turned at the sound of the voice, forcing himself to smile and nod slightly at one of the Weasley twins, who had just spoken to him. He was fairly certain that it was George, but he was never quite one hundred percent sure when it came to telling which of the two was which. Considering the fact that their mother had been known to confuse them on occasion, he didn’t feel too badly about that.
“I’m fine. Really, I am.”
George gave him a look, shaking his head slightly. “Oh, perk up, Wood. It’s weeks until the first Quidditch match, and practice has been going quite well. As long as no one tries to kill Harry this year, we should be doing just grand,” the twin said, a slight shadow crossing his face as he registered what it was that he’d just said. The truth was, it seemed rather possible that someone would try to kill Harry again this year, as there was an escaped lunatic on the loose (one Sirius Black, the first wizard or witch to ever escape from Azkaban) that apparently was likely to come to Hogwarts (if he wasn’t then Dumbledore would have never allowed the Dementors to be stationed at the school), and then there were the Dementors themselves, who had apparently taken enough of a liking to Harry on the train to school that the boy had suffered some sort of a fit.
“I’m sure we’ll do just fine,” Oliver said a bit absently, a sure sign to anyone that knew him that something was indeed wrong. Oliver Wood’s mind was never absent from anything to do with Quidditch… But his focus had just been drawn to the grounds below, where a small and distinctly blonde figure wearing Muggle clothes had just run from the castle, headed for the lake. Frowning, Oliver headed for the portrait hole that led out of the common room, grabbing his cloak on the way.
“Not now, Weasley!” the Gryffindor Quidditch captain yelled back as he hurried out of the common room and into the halls of the castle that housed Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The cloudy weather outside led to the halls being even darker than usual, as no patches of sunlight came in through the occasional window. Oliver moved quickly down the halls with an ease borne of slightly more than six years navigating the building, the look on his face enough to keep anyone from trying to stop him for conversation.
The young man shivered slightly as he made it out of the castle, surprised by the chill in the air. It hadn’t been that bad when they’d practiced this morning, but the temperature had apparently decided to drop by several degrees since that point, and the wind and overcast sky weren’t helping. Frowning, Oliver made his way over the grounds until he reached the lake, slowing from his run as he spotted the small figure on the grass. She’d dropped to her knees in front of the lake, her head down as her shoulders shook with what Oliver knew could only be sobs. The seventeen year old wanted to curse McGonagall for causing Katie to cry like this, but Oliver also knew that whatever the news, McGonagall hadn’t appeared to want to tell Katie about it, it was more like it was her duty to.
“Katie?” Oliver spoke softly, carefully, as if the girl in front of him was a deer that would spook easily. She froze for a moment, her back stiff and straight, but then it was almost as if she couldn’t hold herself up under the pressure, and her shoulders slouched again, once more shaking, though Oliver thought now that the shaking was from more than just sobs. Goosebumps stood out on her skin, indicating that while she may not care about the cold, her body was certainly taking notice of it. Oliver looked down at the cloak in his arms, having neglected to actually put it on as he hurried through the castle, and he found himself briefly wondering if perhaps subconsciously he hadn’t meant to put it on at all, that he had brought it for her instead.
Stepping cautiously, Oliver approached her, carefully placing the cloak around her shoulders before kneeling at her side, an expression of concern on his face. His chaser’s face was streaked with tears, her face pale, as if she’d had a great shock. Carefully, Oliver reached up, tucking some of the strands of hair that had been plastered to her damp cheeks behind her ear.
“Katie?” Oliver questioned again, smart enough not to follow her name up with something absurd like ‘are you all right’ because it was glaringly obvious to anyone that she most certainly was not all right.
“Go away,” she finally said, her breath hitching on each word, as if it were painful to get them out.
Oliver shook his head sadly. “No. Can’t do that. You see, I can’t leave you here alone like this. Couldn’t live with myself if I did,” the young man told her, reaching out to cautiously lay an arm across her shoulders, looking as if he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d flung him arm away. For a second, she stiffened, and Oliver thought she really was going to shove him away, but then she suddenly collapsed against him, crying harder than ever now. Stunned by this turn of events, Oliver carefully put his arms around the crying girl, not knowing what to do or say, but that didn’t seem to matter because Katie seemed beyond words at the moment, her grief so deep it was like a physical thing. So they sat there, Katie in his too-big cloak, Oliver’s body shielding her from the wind as the girl cried, Oliver not even aware exactly what it was she was crying over.
He was fairly certain he didn’t want to know.