Harry let the warm water flow all over his aching body. Closing his eyes, he sighed. “Muscles…ache…can’t function…”
“I hear ya, mate.” Came Ron’s voice from the next stall over. “Even my toenails hurt.”
“Wood’s never worked us this hard before…even when he was captain.”
“And this was just Beater practice! I wonder how he’s going to handle Seeker practice. What are we gonna do? Chase after remembralls for six hours?”
Harry sighed, not moving from his comfort spot. “I hope not. I just can’t wait until it’s all over with. They must be really serious about Quidditch this year.”
“Well, the better people are, the less injuries, I suppose.” Ron suggested.
“This is true…”
Harry and Ron were the last ones to leave the showers.
“You coming, mate?” Ron asked, when Harry fell back a few steps.
“Yeah, in a minute. I’ll be right there.”
Ron shrugged and left, leaving Harry to do a quick scan for another Sirius sighting.
“I know I saw him…. I know I did.”
Despite Harry’s aches and pains, and the fact that he was exhausted, he couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned as images of Sirius filled his head.
Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan were sound asleep in the beds across of him, but Ron was aware of his restlessness.
“Harry?” he grumbled, still in a state of half-sleep.
“Yeah?” Harry whispered back.
“I can’t sleep.”
“Then don’t sleep a little quieter. Some of us actually want to practice that wonderful art form before morning comes.”
Ron fell asleep shortly after, but Harry continued to stare up at the ceiling.
The next morning, it was very clear to everyone around him, that Harry didn’t get any sleep.
“What’s the matter, Potter? Up all night worrying you won’t make the team?”
Harry rolled his eyes at Malfoy’s comment, and again when Crabbe and Goyle sniggered. “I have neither the energy nor the interest to deal with you this morning, Malfoy.”
“That’s probably because you have nothing to say.” He spat in return.
“I might. I might not. I might even mention that you insulting me might be your way of letting off steam to get your mind off the fact that your father is in Azkaban.”
Malfoy’s impish grin faded in an instant.
“But,” Harry continued, “you insult me anyway, so nothing’s new.”
“Besides,” Hermione added. “He doesn’t want to waste his breath on a snake.”
“Better a snake than a worthless mudblood.” He shot back, regaining some confidence.
“I wouldn’t say worthless…” Malfoy zipped his entire body around at the sound of Azura’s voice behind him. She stood, arms folded and looking smug. “I’d mind my tongue if I were you, Mr. Malfoy,” she continued as whatever color was left drained from his cheeks. “Such words shouldn’t come out of someone whose family is regarded in class…or rather, was .”
He narrowed his eyes. I definitely like the other sister better .
“Besides, I believe Miss Granger here made higher marks in her fifth year alone than all of yours combined. Not bad for a mudblood, don’t you agree?”
Malfoy’s pale complexion began to change into a furious purple, reminding Harry of Uncle Vernon when he was about to lose his temper. He and Hermione were positively beaming.
Azura wasn’t finished yet. “I’m muggle born, graduated a year early, and play for a professional Quidditch team. Do you have anything to say to me?”
“No.” he replied, through gritted teeth.
“I thought so. And as for you two,” she continued, turning her attention to Malfoy’s henchmen. “I suggest you find something better to do than encourage his rudeness all day, or you’re going to find yourselves fifty years from now cleaning out his bed pans.”
Crabbe and Goyle stared in disbelief and confused shock.
All six bodies turned to the sound of Season’s frantic scream. “Ethan knotted all my players’ broom bristles together! Help me!”
Malfoy, Goyle and Crabbe lost all color completely at the thought of their brooms being damaged.
“One second!” Azura gave one last warning glance to the Slytherin boys then trotted off to help her sister.
“She won’t be here during the year to protect you.” Malfoy warned, and then jogged to the Slytherin side to help Season unknot the broom bristles.
Ron trotted up moments later, with fruit in both his hands and mouth. Harry and Hermione were still smiling. “What’d I miss?”
“You all look worn out.” Wood told them as twenty-five Gryffindor hopefuls stood before him. “Good.”
Ron rose a disgusted eyebrow.
“Today you will work even harder. We’ll be doing Chaser practice today. Yesterday, you learned how to hit the bludgers away; today, you will learn how to avoid them, and try to score points at the same time."
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do.” Ginny whispered to Hermione. She just giggled, and then she turned to Ron.
“It’s amazing how your eyeballs don’t get stuck in the back of your head from rolling them so much.”
Before he could retort, Wood continued. “Go ahead and line up. I’ll be throwing bludgers at each and every one of you. They’re bewitched to boomerang back to me, so don’t worry about them chasing after you.” Wood winked at Harry, recalling his second year when Dobby the house elf bewitched a bludger to injure him.
Hermione strayed behind the others as everyone mounted their brooms and soared into the sky.
“Are you sure you don’t want to play Quidditch, Hermione?” he asked her.
“Positive. I’d much rather play with you.”
He grinned at her, shaking his head.
“It’s, erm, going to be sad when this week is over.”
“Why? Going to miss me?”
“Well, of coarse there’s that…” she giggled. “It’s just that, well, you’ve all been such a great help. Azura especially.”
He stared at her, color rising in his cheeks, and then tried to nonchalantly brush it aside. “Really? How come?”
“She told Malfoy off for us today. She, erm, stuck up for me.”
“What? Is she always that nice?”
“She’s a mind fucker.”
Hermione was taken aback, shocked at his sudden use of vulgarity.
“I mean, yes. She, erm, she is always that nice.”
Hermione rose an eyebrow.
“I have practice to tend to, Miss Granger, so if you’ll excuse me…”
She stepped aside as he began to yell things to his players.
Madam Hooch called it a day six hours later. As everyone was dismissed, Hermione pulled Harry aside.
“Ask Wood about Azura.”
“Something’s going on between the two of them.”
“Whatever it is, it’s none of our business.” He went to walk away, but she grabbed him again.
“Look.” She ordered, pointing to Wood. He was taking his time putting the balls away in their chest, staring at Azura.
Harry was quiet for a moment, and then began to laugh.
“I don’t see what’s so funny.”
“ You look.” He took her head in his hands and moved it towards the Slytherin direction.
Season stood, arms crossed, trying her hardest not to laugh. A bewitched snitch was chasing Ethan Knox, trying to bite him.
Hermione gasped. “How’d she get it to have teeth?” The Slytherins were laughing, Ethan was screaming.
“You heard Wood. The Julius sisters are advanced.”
“That’s what you get!” Season screamed at Ethan. “Draco isn’t the brightest crayon in the box but that gives you no right to turn his broom into a porcupine in mid air!”
Hermione and Harry burst out laughing. “I really like the Julius sisters.”
Harry waited until the showers were deserted before approaching Wood, who was in the middle of tying his shoes. Ethan was next to him.
“Erm, Wood, may I speak with you?”
“Sure, what’s on your mind, Potter?” He put down the finished shoe and began tying the next one.
“Well, you and I know each other only because of Quidditch, right?”
“Right…” Even Ethan was eyeing him suspiciously.
“Well, I was thinking, even though we don’t know each other too well, if I can still ask you a personal question; man to man.”
“Man to man…sure.”
“Okay…so tell me about Azura.”
Ethan let out a low whistle as Wood sighed deeply. “I’ll catch up with you later, man, this one’s all yours.” He pat him on the back and walked out of the showers.
Wood sat next to Harry and sighed again. “Granger sent you here, didn’t she?”
“Hermione has a bad habit of sticking her nose in other people’s problems, so if you don’t want to tell me, it’s perfectly fi-"
“No, no, it’s all right. I’d feel more comfortable talking to you anyway since you’re a bloke. Argh, where to begin?” He put his hands on his face, and rubbed his temples, then dropped his arms to his side, preparing for a long schpeal.
Harry’s ears perked up, suddenly very interested in what he had to say.
“There are a lot of things first years miss out on when they come to Hogwarts. Mainly because everything is so different and exciting, you don’t really pay attention to anything else. One of those things is the opposite sex. I sure as hell didn’t pay attention to girls at eleven. Especially an up-an-coming-athlete such as myself.”
Harry grinned, trying to picture the tall, muscular man as a short and skinny Quidditch playing wannabe.
“Anyway, when I did notice, I noticed Azura. Not only were she and her sister sickeningly talented and intelligent, they were popular. All the blokes in the school wanted those two and I admit, fancying Azura was not the best of ideas. Competition, you know.”
“So you… had a crush on Azura?”
Wood ignored him. “Harry, there are things you don’t understand about those two. The most annoying had to be that they never dated.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “I highly doubt that.”
“It’s true. Season dated a few here and there, but her relationships never lasted too long and she was picky. Azura, on the other hand, didn’t date a single person throughout her six years at Hogwarts.”
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t anyone ask her out?”
“No. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I just didn’t want to be another one of her rejections. Besides, I have a hard time finding words when I’m around her. They just sort of…get stuck in my throat.
“I honestly thought that when she and her sister left, I would eventually get over her. But when I see her play at matches and when I saw her again this year…” he shrugged. “I haven’t really talked to her.”
“Not full on conversations. Just your typical, ‘Hello’ and ‘yeah, perfect Quidditch weather’ and other pathetic statements of the like. Then I’d go and bang my head against a wall for saying those pathetic lines.”
“That’s funny. I’ve always pictured you as a ‘ladies’ man’”
Wood shook his head and chuckled. “No, not with someone as intangible as Azura."
“Alright, then, so basically Hermione is all worried about some little nothing of a fancy.”
Wood grinned. “Yeah. Trust me, nothing has or ever will happen between me and Azura Julius.”
“This is unusual, you nearly beaming with negativity. Things could happen.”
He snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“No, really, I mean, I kissed Cho-"
“You what ?”
“Oh yeah, you didn’t know about that…”
“Harry, my boy, we have a long evening ahead of us.”
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