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Chapter 9 : I Am On A Fitness Kick
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(It'll make sense after you read the chapter...)
People who decide to get fit can be divided into two categories.
The first group applies to people who spend mountains upon mountains of galleons on various mechanical contraptions and devices strapped all over their bodies, designer trainers and disturbingly tight jogging clothes. They are seasoned joggers and they jog for two hours straight without breaking a sweat. They speed by you so fast you could swear they were flying.
The second group gasp and stumble and are generally pathetic runners with no discernible athletic talent. The sort you zip past, shaking your head at them. They usually wear ratty shirts and old shorts. Never mind flying, these runners are often outstripped by passing butterflies.
Guess which group I’m in?
I was about halfway around the lake now. There were plenty other people jogging, I saw Nury Radjadhan in a brand-new skin tight green and silver aerodynamic suit, galloping about like some Hippogriff. Though there were considerably more male joggers than female. I’m drenched in sweat, my legs feel like they’ve been chopped off at my knee and I have this agonizingly painful stitch in both my sides. It feels like someone drove two torturously sharp swords through me.
I’ve made several revelations while I was jogging (more like crawling) around the Black Lake to distract myself from the torment and suffering I was going through—three principles of male jogging.
First, the appearance of any female joggers instantly caused all male joggers to speed up, including those in the middle of seizures. Particularly Keith Bagpipes from Hufflepuff—he practically soared around the lake once Gina Jostling showed up in all her big-chested glory.
Second, any male who overtook a female would instantly speed up. The pressure of a girl’s gaze on their backs seemed to act like a catapult.
Third, blokes perform much, much better when they’re in groups or large clusters. The first runner—let’s call him Vincent—spends ninety percent of the time thinking, ‘I really, really need to stop but my friend Benjamin seems to be having no trouble so I’d better keep going or it’ll mean I’m weak/frail/bollock-less’. At the same time his mate Benjamin is thinking, ‘I really, really need to stop but my friend Vincent seems to be having no trouble so I’d better keep going or it’ll mean I’m weak/frail/bollock-less’. At the end of the run, both end up setting world records. The downside is the both of them are now at St. Mungo’s intensive care units.
If there are more than five males in one group, the process is drastically intensified. If there are more than ten males, they will all soon be running at the speed of light. Little known fact—it’s actually illegal for a group of more than twenty blokes to run together as their absurd competitiveness will cause them to curve space-time. This would inevitably destroy the universe.
Ah well, boys will be boys.
Fuck, this hurts. Why did I ever agree to this, again?
Keith Bagpipes came rushing past, running so fast his was blue in the face. He was wearing a pair of disconcertingly tight lycra pants. Ew! I don’t usually go around staring at crotches, but Keith Bagpipes looked as though he had a lot going on downstairs, if you know what I mean.
I huffed and I puffed, reaching the end of my lap. Where’s Malfoy—there he is. Sitting there on that bloody rock a little ways from the Black Lake, all calm and relaxed.
I collapsed in front of him, heaving and hacking like someone at their deathbed. ‘How—long—’ I rasped.
‘Twenty three minutes and nine seconds.’ Malfoy snapped his brass stopwatch shut, snorting with laughter. ‘I nearly fell asleep waiting for you here.’
‘Shut—up—’ I panted, rolling over.
‘Sweet Circe, you took almost half-an-hour to finish one lap around the Black Lake.’ Malfoy sighed and helped me up. Malfoy, having finished his five laps earlier while I was struggling with my half-lap, looked as though he’d just stepped off the pages of CosmoWitch.
Malfoy handed me a bottle of water and I gulped it down greedily, almost choking myself. I coughed, and a little water dribbled disgustingly down my front.
‘I see we’re going to have to work more on your stamina.’ He mused, pulling me up to my feet. ‘Jogging again on Thursday.’
Malfoy’s been a little distant ever since James confronted him. I feel a little uncomfortable mentioning it, but this must be said.
‘I’m sorry about James.’ I blurted, catching my breath. I must look a right sight—stringy, sweaty hair, perspiration all over my face, dripping of the end of my nose, face bright red with exertion. Waking up at the crack of dawn today probably didn’t do anything for my pasty complexion, either. Gah. I wouldn’t be surprised if passing joggers took one look at me and ran away screaming bloody murder.
Malfoy sighed, leaning down further on his elbows. ‘S’okay, I’ve been dealing with them since first-year.’
‘I know he’s an unbearable git.’ I panted.
‘All the more reason why this has to be a secret, yeah?’ he didn’t look very happy with this. Malfoy’s in a funny mood today. The expression in his face clearly said I’M ANNOYED. With whom, though?
‘How much more longer can we keep it a secret, though?’ I asked pensively. ‘I mean, my cousins are already getting rather suspicious.’
‘Me, too. My mates, I mean.’ Malfoy didn’t elaborate further.
I thought about all those big, oafish trolls Slytherin seemed to be so abundant in. Good grief, even the girls are scarily masculine. All of them could easily take me out with one solid punch.
‘Don’t worry about them,’ Malfoy said, staring in the distance. The sun was just beginning to rise.
‘Right!’ Malfoy hefted himself upright, stretching. ‘It’s about six-thirty now… I reckon we’ve got about one hour left till breakfast.’ He turned around and grinned at me, teeth gleaming. I noticed with some surprise that the sunlight behind him made his golden hair look rather like a halo. ‘Come on.’
‘Where’re we going?’
‘Eh? I thought we were done jogging? Please don’t make me run any more laps!’ I was terrified at the very thought.
‘No. Quidditch practice.’ He grabbed my hand, trying to make me move.
‘What? Now?’ I squeaked, trying to wriggle out of Malfoy’s insistent grasp. He rolled his gray eyes expressively, cocking perfectly shaped eyebrow.
‘Yes, now. You’ve got nothing on now, yeah?’ Malfoy doesn’t even wait for my answer. He dragged me all the way to Quidditch pitch, not fazed in the slightest when I kicked him in the shin hard.
‘Piss.’ He suddenly stopped in his tracks. I looked, too. We were about fifteen yards away from the Quidditch pitch but I could still see flashes of red and gold robes as seven Quidditch players whizzed around on their brooms. I could faintly make out James clonking someone on the head with a Quaffle, presumably in rage. ‘The Gryffindor team are practicing already?’
I collapsed in relief, heart juddering. I’d honestly thought Malfoy was going to shove a broomstick under me and launch me into the air. I do want to learn Quidditch but I don’t think I’m quite ready for a broomstick yet. ‘Well, how unlucky.’ I said unconvincingly, a grin breaking over my face.
‘This means we won’t be able to use the Quidditch pitch anymore.’ He looked crestfallen, turning us around and walking towards the castle.
‘Highly unlikely we’ll keep these Quidditch lessons a secret if we keep practicing at the Quidditch pitch during Quidditch season.’ Malfoy pursed his lips, thinking.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll get us another spot.’ Malfoy reassured me, clapping me on the back. ‘I’ll tell you when the next practice is.’
And then he trotted off, hands in his pockets and whistling.
‘Galloping Gorgons, Vic’s gone mad.’ Was the first thing Dom told me when I slithered in next to her for breakfast. The rest of the table was still empty. She had her hair up in chopsticks. Chopsticks? I’d look utterly ridiculous if I had chopsticks in my hair, but Dom looked glamorous. Sigh. That’s Veela blood for you, I guess.
‘What?’ I asked dutifully, grabbing a glass of pumpkin juice and downing it hungrily.
There was an expression of horror and repulsion on her pretty face. She wordlessly shoved a letter in my face. I took it and read, munching on a slice of apple.
‘This paragraph right here.’ She leaned over and pointed.
…and you won’t bloody believe how many times I’m pissing every day. My bladder fecking hurts, Dom. It’s like it someone put a Shrinking Charm on it. I pissed seventy-three times yesterday. I’m terrified of going out now. I almost wet my pants holding it in when I was out doing some grocery shopping. I hate everyone at the moment. They keep staring at my stomach as though they’ve never seen a pregnant woman in their life. Oh, and my nipples hurt. There’s some seriously disgusting stuff coming out of them, too—
I dropped the letter, jaw slack. ‘Ew. Ew ew ew…’
‘I know!’ Dom picked up the letter with her thumb and forefinger, as though it might be contaminated. ‘She’s six months pregnant and an emotional wreck. So she comes writing to me. Listen to this.’ She peered closely at Vic’s unusually messy script. ‘Teddy absolutely refuses to have sex with me now. Bloody hell, now it’s me pouncing on him instead of the other way around. He says it’ll “damage the baby”. Sweet Merlin, it’s killing me. I just wish he would push me up on a wall and attack my lips and put his hand underneath my dress and—’
‘Stop! No more!’ I shrieked, covering my poor ears. What in the world?
‘Apparently her hormones are going out of control, too.’ Dom started laughing weakly, clutching at her stomach.
I should explain—although Dom and Vic essentially come from the same gene pool they’re complete polar opposites. Sort of like greasy, buttery chips deep fried in oil and a wheatgrass grain bar. Dom would undoubtedly be the greasy chips, and Vic is the wheatgrass grain bar (ick). I’m not saying that Dom is particularly fatty or unpleasant, it’s just Dom is more crass and vulgar than Vic. Vic is sort of an uptight priss (the sort that looks at you disapprovingly if you happen to drip turkey sauce down your front when eating while she wipes daintily at her mouth with a napkin), while Dom once flashed the entire Great Hall for more than five seconds while standing up on the Gryffindor table for a bet last year.
So, Victoire Weasley writing about wetting her pants in public and her ravenous sexual appetite was kind of like saying Uncle Percy had suddenly deciding to quit his job as Senior Assistant to the Minister of Magic (Kingsley Shacklebolt) to pierce both his nipples and start a heavy metal Goth band. Needless to say, it just didn’t happen.
Yeugh, now I’ve landed myself with a repulsive mental image of Uncle Percy half-naked, wearing disturbingly tight leather pants and two metal hooks poking through his nipples.
‘She went and got this Muggle megasound thing, too—’
‘Whatever.’ She said impatiently, handing me a fuzzy black and white picture. ‘Have a good look.’
I peered at the hazy picture, trying to make out anything vaguely humanoid in the small photo. ‘Is that his head?’ I pointed uncertainly.
‘No, I think that’s the other side of his body…’
‘His? Vic already knows its sex?’
‘Nah, I’m just guessing. I want a nephew! There’s the toes right there…’
‘I think those are fingers.’
‘The fingers are here… and that’s his leg, you idiot.’
‘It looks like a cross between a rabid Crup and a Kappa. Are those fingers webbed? You sure Vic didn’t have some torrid affair with a merman?’
‘What? His fingers aren’t webbed, it’s just the picture quality.’
‘Bloody hell, I can’t see anything.’ I flipped the picture behind. Vic has scrawled OUR BABY on its back in bright, happy lettering. ‘Useless Muggle machines. Vic had better get her money back. It doesn’t look like anything.’
‘Morning.’ James and Albus suddenly appeared, joining us at the table.
‘Quidditch practice?’ I asked innocently, looking at their crumpled robes.
‘Yeah. Good practice. ‘cept Albus needs to work better on his Wronski Feint.’ James glared at Albus, and he squawked in indignation.
What’s a Wronski Feint?
‘I was off by three feet!’ he cried. ‘Cut your own sibling some slack, will you?’
‘Vic’s gone mad.’ Dom shoved the letter towards James, shuddering. I finished up my apple and Vanished the core, observing James’ face slowly turn from mild interest to intense astonishment to massive repugnance in less time than it took for a spark to die in a tornado. ‘Vic wrote this?’ James asked disbelievingly.
‘Give it.’ Albus snatched it from James’ hand and began to read.
‘Look at this.’ Dom showed James the ultrasound. James seemed puzzled. ‘Er. What am I supposed to be looking at?’
‘Vic already gave birth?’ James yelped, jumping up. ‘Why doesn’t anyone tell me anything?’
‘No, you nitwit. It’s an ultrasound. It’s still inside Vic’s womb. Some Muggle camera.’
‘Muggles can take pictures of babies while they’re still inside the stomach?’ James scratched his head, and a tuft of hair popped up triumphantly. He slicked it down, trying to encourage it to join its friends. ‘Weird.’
‘So, where is it?’
‘Right here…’ Dom pointed at the very centre of the picture.
‘Eh?’ Albus’ lip curled. ‘Where is it?’
‘I think it’s that weird thing right there.’
‘Is that the head?’
‘That’s his arse.’ Vic indicated edgily. ‘It’s a boy!’
‘How d’you know it’s a boy?’
‘It could be a really ugly girl, though.’ I suggested.
‘It looks more like a sphinx curled up on its side if you turn it this way.’ Albus twiddled the photograph, grinning. ‘But if you look at it this way it closely resembles a chicken laying eggs.’
‘You need new specs, mate.’
‘I still think it’s going to be a boy.’
‘If it’s a boy let’s call it Abernathy!’ Dom said excitedly.
‘That’s a terrible name! You might as well call it Bob or Ernest.’
‘I think it’s more up to Vic to decided what she wants to name her little tyke.’
‘Knowing Vic, it’ll probably be something foul like Gertrude or Wilma or Dolores.’ I shuddered delicately.
‘Well, Albus Severus is not much better.’
‘How much more longer till the baby comes?’ Albus asked, digging into an omelet.
‘She’s six months now. Should be three more months.’ Dom beamed. ‘I’ll be an auntie, then!’ she glanced back at the letter. ‘Oh, Grandma Molly wants us to come back to The Burrow for Christmas.’
‘Yay!’ I cheered. Christmas dinners at The Burrow are always loads of fun. Especially when Uncle George and Uncle Charlie and around.
‘Vic also writes that Grandpa Arthur’s out of St. Mungo’s.’ Dom scanned Vic’s letter. ‘He’s fully recovered from his stroke.’
James, Albus and I whooped, genuinely relieved. Grandpa Arthur’s been a bit worrisome lately, what with his high blood pressure and recent minor stroke.
‘Oh, wait, there’s a letter for you, too, your owl came earlier…’ Dom vaguely handed James a letter, and he ripped it open, reading eagerly.
‘Whassat?’ Albus asked, chewing with his mouth open. Yuck.
‘The usual. It’s from Mum.’ James sighed. ‘Don’t get into trouble, stay out of detention…’
‘Why’re you sweaty?’ Dom abruptly noticed, narrowing her eyes.
‘What?’ I said stupidly, heart sinking.
James and Albus scrutinized me, frowning. ‘You’re soaked.’ Albus observed, wary.
‘You’re covered in grass. Again.’ James said cagily. ‘Rose…’
‘I’ve been running.’ I blurted. ‘Erm, fitness kick. Heh heh.’
‘Rose.’ Dom stared. ‘You are the least sporty person I’ve ever met.’
‘Well, thank you.’
‘And you hate running.’
‘Erm—I’ve decided I wanted to lose weight, that’s all.’ I hurriedly doled out an excuse.
‘Lose weight? But you’re scrawny!’
‘Oy!’ I’d have preferred that James said I had a beautiful, curvaceous body that made blokes go crazy and I shouldn’t diet it away, but one can’t have everything.
‘I just feel really fat, lately.’ I didn’t meet their eyes. ‘Yes.’
‘You’re not turning into those salad-eating, diet-crazy, weight-watching girls, are you?’ Albus was anxious. ‘Look, Rose, you’re perfectly fine.’
‘No, I just feel like running, alright?’
‘Rose… this doesn’t have anything to—to do with Quidditch, right?’ James said, suspicious.
‘No! Look, after that fall from the broomstick, you’re not seriously thinking I’m going to climb up on another one anytime soon!’ the three of them instantly looked guilty and fidgety. ‘Besides, you’ve already told everyone not to train me. No one wants to help me.’ I shot James an accusing look, shaking nervously on the inside.
Albus’ mouth opened, but before he could make a sound, Veronica Imp came barreling in, knocking Albus out of the way and wiggling in between James and Albus. ‘Oof!’ Albus cried, and knocked over his plate of soggy eggs.
‘Hello, Jamesie!’ she cooed, smiling insincerely at us.
‘Are you two dating?’ Dom asked, glowering. Veronica Imp and Dom aren’t on the best of terms. They share the same dorm. ‘What happened to Jordana? Amber? Garnet?’
I’m pretty sure Dom just made those up but it had the desired effect. Veronica stiffened slightly and turned so that her back was to Dom. Albus resurfaced, wiping away bits of yellow egg from his glasses and scowling. ‘I’ll be going now.’ He said. No one except me noticed this. He went off in a huff, shirt spotted with egg.
James shot Dom a desperate look, trying to squirm out of Veronica’s death-grasp. ‘Gone.’ He puffed.
Veronica ignored us. ‘They’ve announced the next Hogsmeade trip, Jamesie.’ She rubbed his upper arm in a very disturbing way.
‘Yes. Erm. I saw the notice.’ James plucked his arm away, smiling uncomfortably. I’d known him long enough the know that he was probably screaming internally GET THIS TART OFF ME NOW.
‘It’s on Halloween.’ Veronica hinted.
‘Subtle.’ I muttered under my breath.
‘I need some new robes.’ Veronica pressed, her garishly lipstick-ed mouth smiling sickeningly. ‘Madam Malkin’s opened her new branch in Hogsmeade last week.’
‘Good God, could you be more obvious?’ Dom snapped. ‘Can’t you take a hint? James doesn’t want to go with you.’
Veronica acted as though we hadn’t spoken, though her left eye twitched the tiniest bit. ‘Let’s go to Hogsmeade, Jamesie.’ She whined, eyes all doe-like and beseeching.
‘I—well—’ James hesitated. Then his expression hardened. ‘Veronica, could you please get off me?’
Veronica grumbled but let go anyway. ‘Please…?’ she pleaded, clamping her palms together in a very little-girl way. Whoa. I’ve only just noticed that she has really nice hair. It’s all shiny and silky and blonde. Nicer than Dom’s Veela hair, even. I unconsciously reached up to touch my own crazy mop, slightly put out.
‘Er—well—’ James faltered. ‘Okay, then.’
‘Yay!’ Veronica reached up to give James a huge smacker and she rushed off, giggling.
‘You’re not serious!’ Dom said, outraged. ‘You’re going out with her?’
‘I couldn’t exactly say no, could I?’ James protested, throwing his arms in the air. ‘I mean—she was begging and—I couldn’t humiliate her—’
‘I would’ve!’ Dom argued. She certainly would’ve, if she was James. James is an old softie at heart but Dom is relentless. She goes through blokes the way one would go through tissues during a particularly bad cold. What gets me is that even though every single person in Hogwarts knows what Dom is like there’s always another one after Dom dumps her latest boy-toy, ready to take his place.
‘Augh. Well, it was just a one-nighter and she just wouldn’t let go!’
‘A one nighter—you mean you had sex with her?’ I repeated in horror.
‘Well, she wasn’t my first—’
‘Sweet Merlin.’ Dom grunted, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder and stalking off with Vic’s letter in hand.
‘Don’t mind her, you know she hates Veronica.’ I told him, shrugging. Dom has a rather explosive temper, so this recent tiff wasn’t any special.
James was miserable. ‘Well, what was I supposed to do? Reject her outright on the spot? Dom would never had let her forget it.’
‘When exactly was the one-nighter?’
‘Quidditch victory party.’ James said shortly. What? Oh. Yes. I remember James grabbing Veronica and consuming her face.
‘Well then, you brought this on yourself.’ I said cheerfully. ‘Ditch her after the Hogsmeade thing.’
‘It probably won’t be that terrible. Just as long as she doesn’t go near Madam Puddifoot’s.’ James shuddered, finishing up his glass of orange juice noisily. ‘You going with anyone?’
I sighed. ‘Probably not. You know, since no one wants me.’
‘That’s not true!’ James immediately objected.
‘Then how do you explain the fact that I’ve never snogged anyone before?’ I griped. It’s not that no one has ever had any romantic feelings towards me, it’s just that I always seem to get the weird ones. Like third-year, when this creepy Hufflepuff fourth-year named Kiwi Hartington sent me erotic poems that Elisha and I giggled over at night. Though he had this serious case of acne and was about as tall as my kneecaps so there was nada chance of that blossoming into some passionate, amorous relationship.
Sigh. There’s my love life in a nutshell for you.
‘Well, there must be someone in Hogwarts that fancies you.’ James insisted, brows furrowed.
‘See if you can think of any.’ I said gloomily, tapping my fingers.
‘I’ll get you a blind date!’ James suddenly declared, grinning as though this was a good idea. ‘It’s simple! There’s plenty of available guys in Gryffindor.’
‘Er—no.’ A blind date? James is mad.
‘Come on! Don’t be such an old lady! A blind date’s not going to hurt anyone.’
‘James, don’t. Please just—don’t.’
James visibly deflated. ‘Please?’ he wheedled.
‘Fine.’ James sulked. Then he perked up again. ‘Not even one of my friends? John Whitaker just broke up with his girlfriend yesterday.’
Who the feck is John Whitaker?
‘No! No no no no no no.’
Unless, of course, John Whitaker is six-feet-tall, unbearably sexy and has had a crush on me since forever. Then maybe I'll reconsider. Though the chances of that happening are somewhere in the negatives. Knowing my luck, John Whitaker is probably either overweight, has a unibrow, or has thick, coarse body hair all over. Maybe even all of the above.
‘You’re no fun.’
‘You wouldn’t say yes, either, if I wanted to pair you up with some girl you’ve never spoken to in your entire life.’ I told him, irritable.
‘Ah, but the thing is I don’t need blind dates. I’ve already got a plethora of women at my beck and call.’ James leaned back, smiling in an annoying, knowing way.
‘Yeah, Veronica Imp.’ I snorted. ‘She’s hardly your dream woman.’
‘Well, at least she’s a Quaffle.’ James said absent-mindedly. Then he clapped a hand to his mouth, horrified. ‘No—wait—pretend you didn’t hear that!’
‘A Quaffle?’ I repeated, confuzzled. ‘What does that mean?’
‘Nothing! It means nothing!’
Silly James. Doesn’t he know the more flustered he gets, I’ll want to know even more?
‘Tell me.’ I fixed James with my best glare. The sort that sends first and second years into inconsolable, teary hysterics when I catch them wandering about corridors late at night. James visibly recoiled. ‘It’s nothing!’ he insisted, paling.
‘Is there a Bludger and Snitch, too?’ I questioned, the cogs in my intellectual and bright brain working furiously.
‘No! Girls aren’t supposed to know about that!’ he squeaked, and rushed off.
‘Oy! James!’ I screamed, standing up. I’d wanted to follow him but I ended up catching my leg on the Gryffindor table. I fell spectacularly, somehow spinning around when I tumbled so that both my elbows collided painfully with the ground.
‘I’ll get you later!’ I shook my fist, and slumped back down on the hard floor, exhausted.
Hogsmeade. October thirty-first. Sigh. I pictured myself walking around Hogsmeade, wretchedly on my own and partner-less, while I passed by happy couples. James and Veronica, Dom and Thomas-something (I can hardly be expected to remember Dom’s flavor of the week, can I?), Elisha and her long-time boyfriend since fourth-year—Dave Warbeck…
‘I’m all alone.’ I wailed woefully, ignoring all the curious stares I was getting. I glanced around, depressed. This peculiar and frankly very creepy Gryffindor was staring at me from his seat. His name was Jerome Poshcar and he’s been wearing a black, woollen balaclava over his head for as long as I can remember. He generally keeps to himself and there’s rumors going around that he has a third eye on his forehead, hence the need for a balaclava. He stared at me mistrustfully, his eyes the only part of him I could see. Goodness, Hogwarts certainly has a lot of freaks. Myself included, probably.
‘Will you go to Hogsmeade with me?’ I asked tragically.
Jerome Poshcar’s eyes never left mine as he slowly got up from his seat and backed away slowly. Then, when he was nearing the Great Hall’s doors, he turned back and ran for his life.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Author’s Note: Filler chapter! *cringes* hope it wasn’t too much to slog through. *glances back up again* Had to do it, though. Just clearing a few things up. Next chapter things will pick up! More Quidditch lessons + Malfoy sexiness! As always, remember to leave a review.
Oh, and I'm terribly sorry I took so long to update D: Was in the middle of exams. And the three principles of male jogging thing was partly inspired/taken from this awesome column I read a while back. Can't remember where it was from, though :)
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