The room falls eerily silent for a couple moments. So silent that the voices of the people still awake in the common room echoed around the dorm.
“He did what?” Trina asks disbelievingly, getting up and crossing the room to look at the paper in Katie’s hand.
“He banned inner-team dating. Meaning Quidditch players on the Gryffindor team can’t date each other,” Alicia says, sitting down on the edge of her bed as her eyes shoot between Angie and I.
“Seriously?” I ask, holding my hand out for the paper.
Katie hands the paper to Trina who finishes reading it and hands it to me. I take a deep breath and then start reading.
A new team rule, regarding section D of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Manual, has been added. It will come into effect immediately, upon approval of the Head of House, as signed below. Please be informed that all members must hereby abide by the given rule.
Section D-8: Romantic relationships to any degree between members on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team are hereby prohibited, as they interfere with cooperative game play in practice and game settings. (Effective 11/27/1994)
Any players who have questions or concerns with the rule addition should either speak with the present Quidditch Captain or Head of House.
“I’m….I’m not even sure I have words for his new low,” I say, having difficulties stringing my words together as I take in his signature along with Professor McGonagall’s. “I hate him. He’s an arse, and I sure as hell hope he knows it.”
“If not, we can be sure he figures it out quickly,” Angie says, her anger coming out again.
“Yeah, I’m sure I can come up with some questions or concerns to ‘speak’ about with our captain,” I say, crumpling the notice and throwing it towards the space heater in the center of our room.
“Why the hell did he have to put it in place to begin with?” Katie asks, crossing her arms.
“He thinks he has reason, obviously,” Alicia says, falling back onto her bed.
“And he does, doesn’t he?” Trina asks.
All four of us turn to look at her. “What do you mean?” I ask, glancing at the other three before resting my eyes on Trina again.
“Well, think about it. Wood’s captaining a team where one of his Beaters almost killed a reserve Beater for hitting the Seeker, AND the Beater missed an additional practice for skipping detention to do something for the Seeker whose he’s dating for. He also ends up kicking that Seeker from the vary practice the Beater misses because theSseeker finds it fun to toy with him,” Trina explains, and I can tell she’s trying not to offend me.
I open my mouth to tell her she’s crazy, but freeze before the words make it out my mouth. The Beater in question also started ‘questioning the authority’ of the captain as soon as the relationship blossomed. On top of that, the Beater is also more protective over the Seeker during games, so he may let other bludgers get to some of the other players…which is bad…
I close my mouth and run a hand through my hair, hating Trina for making me understand Wood’s point of making the rule. I glance at Katie, Alicia and Angie, realizing that I pretty much ruined any of their opportunities of inner-team dating (Angie mostly).
My stomach clenches as the guilt washes over me. I didn’t just ruin inner-team dating for me. Angie is breaking the rules by dating Fred and I know two of the reserves were dating, at least from what I observed during practice, and neither of them have the opportunity to prove it to Wood that they can handle relationships while still allowing the team to function. All because of me.
“I hate it,” I say, not sure if I’m talking about what I did, or what Wood did in response. “Did he tell anyone else on the team?”
“Not that I know of, no. He just pinned a couple sheets of the rule addition on the notice board, next to the Hogsmeade bulletin. Though I know your little sister knows of the rule and so does Fred, and probably George,” Angie says, and I can tell that she’s trying to read how I’m feeling.
I try to keep my face neutral, instead of letting the guilt show as I know she’ll say it’s no big deal even though she secretly hates me for getting the rule put in place. “What do you mean probably George knows?”
“He was up in his dorm when Fred, Angie, and I came in,” Alicia explains. “Apparently he said something about turning in early to Fred before we found Fred in the library.”
“I wonder if he saw that,” I wonder out loud, falling back onto my bed.
“Is there a rule about ‘fraternizing with the enemy’?” Trina asks.
“No,” Katie laughs coldly. “But we all know how he feels about that.”
“Wait, are you still dating Diggory?” Angie asks.
“Yup,” Katie says. “You probably haven’t noticed since you’ve been trying to seduce Fred.”
I hear Katie squeal a couple seconds later, meaning Angie probably launched a pillow at her.
“So why wasn’t it in the rule?” Trina asks, as I roll to my feet and dig through the clothes on the floor next to my bed before pulling out a pair of Pajamas.
“Wood doesn’t know. The only indication he had Cedric and I were dating was that one Hogsmeade trip. Since then, we’ve tried to keep it low-key,” Katie continued talking, but I don’t really listen to the rest of it as I walked into the bathroom to get ready for bed.
After changing and brushing my teeth, I returned to my bed, the other four still talking.
“Hey guys,” I say, interrupting Angie. “I’m going to sleep. Night.”
I hear each one of them say goodnight, concern evident in Trina’s voice, but I ignore it as I pull the curtains closed around my bed and slide under the covers. I feel my heart seem to pump harder against the guilt that has settled over me once again as Wood’s rule swarms my mind.
All of the examples Trina gave, and the ones I added…each and every single one of them screams that this rule is my fault. And I can’t blame Wood in the least bit for putting it in place. I hate him for it, but I would have done the same thing, had I been in his position.
I roll over and sigh heavily. The only worry I have left is what this does for George and I. I mean, we obviously aren’t going to be able to keep our relationship a secret around him. We’ve already proven that much. With that the case though…where does that leave us?
* * *
I launch my clothes for the day into my locker, not caring that they were on top of my towel, ensuring they’d be wet after practice when I was changing. I press two fingers into my temple, which just barely relieves the throbbing headache I obtained by not sleeping much more than 2 hours last night. Which is quite horrid as I was the first one in my dorm to say I was going to bed.
I run a hand through my hair, which feels really ratty. I sigh, pulling a pony tail and my hairbrush out of my locker before going over to the mirror. I very quickly brush through it before pulling it up into a messy bun, not really caring how bad it looks as I’ll shower after practice and I don’t care if my teammates see how disastrous it looks now.
“You ready?” I ask Angie, as I walk past her and launch my brush into the back of my locker, slamming it closed to prevent the brush from falling back out. I flinch as the sound of the slamming metal door of the locker echoes in my head.
“Yeah….umm, are you alright?” She asks, sending me a concerned look as she grabs her broom and hands me mine.
“I’m peachy,” I say semi-sarcastically, slinging my broom over my shoulder, glancing around to see Angie and I are the last ones in the locker room.
I can tell she knows I flat out lied and I can’t blame her. I know I have dark bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, and I know she knows that I’ve been hiding something since last night. I never go to sleep first and I know that was part of the giveaway.
The other part was she probably knew I felt guilty. She probably hadn’t yet drawn to the conclusion I had about the whole ‘no inner-team dating’ thing, but I knew she wouldn’t be far behind. I mean, if secretly dating was out of the question, that left two options, one more likely than the other.
I sigh as we head out of the locker room to find the team in a semi-circle around Wood. Angie and I glance at each other, knowing Wood usually has us start out by flying. I shrug nervously and Angie and I join Katie an Alicia in the circle. I make sure I’m standing on the other side of the group from George and turn my attention to Wood.
“Is this everyone then?” He asks, glancing around. “Good. Now, I just want to make sure you’ve all heard of the new rule.”
“What new rule?” asks one of the reserves, that I know I should recognize but don’t.
“Inner-team dating is officially prohibited on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, as of yesterday,” Wood says.
I feel George’s eyes on the side of my head, but make sure to avoid his eyes. A fresh stab of guilt runs through my veins as I hear the shocked gasps from the reserves who didn’t know of the rule until he said it.
“What do you mean by inner-team dating?” Skylar asks, her eyes flashing to mine momentarily.
I drop my eyes to the ground, not wanting to see the shock and anger on anyone else’s face.
“I mean I do not want, and it is not allowed, for a member of this team to be dating another member on this team. For that matter, I’d prefer if no one on this team dated anyone on any of the Quidditch teams,” Wood says.
“But that’s not in the rule,” Katie says. I send a glance at her to see a determined look on her face.
“I realize that,” Wood says. “But I’m just putting that out there. I figure I may as well.”
“What about those people who don’t follow your rule?” The same reserve who questioned the rule earlier asks.
“Well, Roberts,” Wood starts, reminding me that her name is Lyn. How I forgot is beyond me, but this whole two hours of sleep thing really isn’t helping me at all. “If anyone is found not be following that rule, they’re given a couple options. They can either quit the team, one or both members, or they can break up. If no action is taken, I can and will kick them both off the team.”
My eyes start burning with tears as Wood confirms the part I was most worried about for George and I’s sake. I mean, I knew the options last night, as I was up most of the night playing out the different possibilities in my head, but that doesn’t mean hearing it from Wood makes it any easier, especially since I can still feel George’s eyes on me.
“Can you actually tell us who we can and can’t date?” Angie asks, her stance shifting, telling me that she’s now crossing her arms.
I freeze as I hear someone move close by through the silence following Angie’s question. My heart clenches tightly and I feel like I can barely breathe. I see George move out of the corner of my eye and my heart feels like a ten ton brick has dropped down on top of it.
I know how it’s going to end already, as he moves towards me, seemingly in slow motion. The first option is out of the question. I would hate not being able to play Quidditch but still have to watch the Gryffindor team go on. It would be crushing to watch as George goes to practice if I couldn’t. And I’m pretty sure it’d be painful to go to practice knowing that George can only sit on the sidelines. The option of both of us quitting is also out. I think we’d go mental without Quidditch. It’s so much a part of us, and has been for so long, that I think it’d just cause us to break up anyways.
Which leads to the only option we have. Breaking up. It’s not exactly what I want to do, but I know George would agree with my logic. We’d both be miserable for a little while, but once we went back to being just friends, we’d still have Quidditch. That is, if we’re able to take our relationship backwards like that.
I jump when a hand touches my shoulder and brings me back to reality. Angie and Wood are steadily throwing back and forth questions and answer, with Lyn and Skylar throwing in their own two cents worth while sending me worried looks at me for not saying anything against Wood.
“We’ll talk,” George murmurs, his breath hot on my ear as he stops only a couple inches behind me.
A tear streaks down my face as the wall of strength I put around me breaks. I can’t handle knowing that he thinks we should break up too, even though I have the same idea. Him putting words to the idea makes it unbearable. And his close proximity at this moment is not helping in the least bit.
I pull my shoulder away from George’s hand. The loss of connection of his skin on mine is agonizing, but I don’t stop moving. I turn and half run to the locker room, dropping my broom as soon as I enter the door. I keep walking and turn the corner, going into the nearest bathroom stall and closing the door behind me. I lock the door before slowly sinking down to the ground, tears blurring my vision as the pain hits me full on.
He hadn’t said anything to stop me. He didn’t come after me. He just let me go. He watched me go. I should have known. This morning he didn’t wait for me in commons to go down to practice. He was avoiding me, and only told me he wanted to talk so he could find me and break up with me.
My breathing hitches and I pull my knees to my chest. I wrap my arms around them and put my face in my arms, willing myself to regain control, which is a lost cause as the sobs rack through my body.
“Hailey?” I hear my name echo softly around the locker room and instantly freeze.
I draw in a breath and hold it for a while, hoping maybe, just maybe, George won’t come into the locker room any further. And hoping that I can stop crying just long enough to get rid of him.
The echoing footsteps crush my hope, so I just curl tighter into myself as I see his feet under the bathroom door.
“Hailey, can you please open the door. We need to talk,” George says softly, and I can tell he put one of his hands on the stall door.
I bit my lip and wipe at my eyes with the sleeves of my cloak. I don’t make a move to open the door though, because I know the second I see his face, I’ll just be crying all over again.
“Please Hail?” he asks, and I can hear the hurt in his voice.
I wipe my eyes again, and slowly stand up, using the wall as support. I reach my hand out and realize it’s shaking. I hate a deep breath, and focus my eyes on the ground. I unlock the door and slowly let it fall open.
I don’t look up at George, but when he reaches out his hand, I take it. He pulls me out of the stall and leads me to one of the benches in the main area of the locker room. He sits down and I hesitate for only a second before I sit down next to him. I shake my head a little bit, which frees my bangs from behind my ear so they hang in my face, blocking it from his view.
“What’s up Hailey?” He asks after a couple seconds, his tone guarded.
I close my eyes. “How’s this going to end?” I murmur in a barely audible voice.
“How’s what going to end?” He asks, but I can tell from his shift in tone that he knows exactly what it is I’m talking about.
“This…Quidditch…..us?” My voice breaks on the last word, but I manage to hold back my tears.
George takes in a deep breath and releases it slowly. I open my eyes, and think about chancing a glance at him, but decide against it. He sounds like he’s falling apart, and I know I’ve already fallen apart. So I just let us sit in silence, forcing him to break it.
“Hailey,” he says softly, brushing my bangs out of my face and behind my ear. “Look at me…please?”
I close my eyes again; the pain in his voice makes my heart beat faster, louder in my ears. I take a deep breath and hold it until I feel his finger on my chin. He slowly pulls it up and I hesitate a second before opening my eyes.
“Hailey, I’m not going to lose you,” he says, his voice raw, his eyes determined.
“We have no way around this George. I wish it would just…just go away and not come back. But it’s not going to work that way. I’m not about to quit the team, and I’m not about to let you quit the team. It just…neither of us will be happy and it just won’t work. We can’t just keep it a secret either. You protect me as a Beater,” I say quickly, only pausing long enough to take a breath. “And that’s not about to change. It would be too obvious. Wood would know. So that only leaves us with one last option…breaking up.”
“I’m not going to,” he says, his eyes blazing.
“I know you’re not. That’s why I am. How else is it going to work?” I say, a tear streaking down my face. “This is our last option to let us both stay on the team. It bloody sucks that we’re forced to do this, but I brought this rule on. It’s my fault, and I should face the consequences of getting this rule put in-”
George interrupts me by kissing me possessively on the lips. He holds that kiss just long enough to make me feel breathless and dizzy before pulling away.
“Hailey, I love you. I don’t care about Wood, his rule, or who thinks we should and shouldn’t be dating. All I care about is you. And if you still love me, I’m not going to allow you to break up with me,” George says, his voice husky as he wipes a tear from my face with his thumb. My head feels like it’s still spinning from the kiss. It pounds as the rule floats through my head, followed by Wood’s threat of kicking us off the team.
“Doesn’t matter,” George says firmly, resting a hand on my cheek, his touch having a calming effect on my spinning head and churning insides. “You matter. We matter. And I’m not about to make Wood change that.”
“Hailey,” he cuts me off again. His stare is intense enough to silence me for good. “You’re dating George Weasley, prankster and the guy in detention almost every other week. I’ve never abided by the rules well, and I’m not about to start for Wood’s sake. I love you, and that’s the only rule I care about.”
His eyes are almost smoldering and the effect leaves me gasping for air. I reach up and rest one of my hands on his cheek. I slide my hand down it slowly, making sure he’s really there, really telling me that he doesn’t care about the rules. Really telling me that he loves me and that’s all this decision is going to be made on.
“Still going to break up with me?” the indecision and pain flashes in his eyes for mere moments before my lips come crashing down on his.
He kisses me back, pulling me close to him, holding onto me like he’ll never let go. A small smile flickers across my lips before he pulls back.
“I love you Hailey. And I promise, we’ll work this out,” He murmurs, resting his forehead on mine.
“I love you too,” I say, gently running my fingers up and down on the back of his neck.
We sit close and just stare at each other. I don’t pay attention to how long, and I don’t particularly care to know how long we sat, just getting the understanding we both needed, and the assurance of being with each other.
* * *
“I. Hate. Scrimmages,” I mutter darkly as I walk up between Angie and George.
The scrimmage game has been going for at least two in a half, if not three hours. And it’s been excruciating. I have seen the Snitch three times, and have either gotten cut off by Diggory or a Bludger has been launched my way. Making me lose track of the Snitch. Which, in turn, gives Wood a reason to shout and lecture me. Fun right?
Ha, I think not.
“You’re doing a good job,” George tries to assure me, running a hand up my arm encouragingly.
“Yeah, maybe if I was actually doing something,” I say, crossing my arms moodily.
“Hailey,” George starts but is quickly cut off by Wood joining us in the huddle we formed on the ground when Wood called time out.
“Teizon, what the hell is going on?” Wood asks his tone harsh.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe Hufflepuff beat Ravenclaw last week with good reason,” I say, glaring at him.
“Well, if you could not lose track of the Snitch-”
“What the hell do you think I’m doing? Losing track of it on purpose? If it wasn’t for Diggory cutting me off twice and the Bludger almost taking my head off, maybe I could accomplish something,” I bite out.
“Start some of the maneuvers we worked on during practice,” Wood says, his tone cold as ice.
“No, maybe I’ll-”
“Teizon, just get it done, okay?” Wood cuts me off with a cold glare, not in the mood to deal with my attitude.
I open my mouth, but Wood has already moved on. And Angie elbows me really hard in the side, earning her a glare.
“Fred, George, next time she gets the Snitch in sight, get the Bludgers on Diggory, but DO NOT let Hufflepuff get them at her. We need to end this game before nightfall,” Wood says, looking to the setting sun. “It doesn’t give us much time, and if we don’t get the Snitch, we’ll lose by over 50 points.”
“This won’t go into the final count anyways,” Angie says.
“Winner gets 10 points for their house,” Wood glares at Angie.
“Oooo, wow, 10 whole points,” I mutter under my breath.
“Is that all?” Alicia asks, shooting a glare at me telling me to shut up.
“Yeah. Let’s get this game finished,” Wood says, before mounting his broom and taking off.
“Hailey, what’s up?” George turns to me the minute Wood is in the air. He keeps his voice low, concern lacing in it.
“What do you mean?” I ask, trying not to snap at him.
“You know what I’m talking about,” George says.
I sigh heavily. “I don’t know. I hate all the tension, between us and between that sod head and me,” I motion vaguely towards Wood.
“Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Don’t let the tension get to you. Just focus on the Snitch and let’s end this game,” George says, brushing his fingers down my jaw line, trying to make his tone soothing.
I take in a deep breath and close my eyes before releasing it. It’s been an entire two days since the practice where Wood formally introduced the rule. And George and I made an agreement not to break up. To work it out. And I’ve been in a foul mood since then.
First of all, because I have this odd feeling that Wood knows. He knows that George and I aren’t about to follow his shitty rule. Second, the tension. It runs high on and off the pitch. On the pitch, the tension between Wood, George, and I is huge. It’s so thick I could probably cut it in half with a knife. A very sharp one. Which could slip and end up…Okay, I’ll not finish that thought…
Off the pitch, the tension between George and I is beyond belief. We both know we need to talk about it, yet neither of us brings it. Though, I must admit, it was only two nights ago we had made our decision to still stay together. So we only really had one night to talk, and that was filled with homework, as suddenly all the teachers think it’s fun to load us up on readings and essays.
Add on top of the tension, the guilt that still courses through me when I see Angie, Fred, Lyn, and Marcus Smith [Reserve Beater]. I have no idea what any of them have decided, though I’m pretty sure Lyn and Smith broke up, as they haven’t exactly been on the best of terms….not that they’re playing tonight. Well, that’s a lie. Smith was in for Fred for a little bit at the start. Just to get him some experience.
“In the air,” Wood shouts from a distance, and I shake my head clear of my thoughts. The only thing I need to focus on right now is getting the Snitch before Diggory. Especially because it’s Diggory and Diggory is going out with Katie.
“We’ll have time to talk. We’ll make time,” George murmurs, reading my thoughts.
“I know,” I sigh. George presses his lips to mine for a couple seconds before we both take to the air again. I make loops to climb 20 feet above the goal posts and start circling, my eyes first intent on the Hufflepuff side of the pitch and then they sweep the field to the Gryffindor side.
I have no luck with finding the Snitch, so with a sigh, I drop 20 feet below the goal hoops. For the most part, I’m out of the way of players, other than the Beaters. And Hufflepuff’s Beaters seem pretty intent and having a Bludger coming in my direction at almost all times now that I’ve dropped below the goal hoops.
I dodge a Bludger for a fourth time, while making a loop around the Hufflepuff’s goal hoops. The Bludger is followed quickly by Fred, who goes wizzing past me without a word. A couple second later, the Bludger goes flying off to the left of me and hits one of the Hufflepuff Beaters in the gut. I can’t help but smirk as I turn and shoot off towards the Gryffindor side of the pitch again.
As I make it to the Gryffindor goal posts once again, I catch the glint of gold out of the corner of my eye. I turn and almost collide with the goal post. I dodge around it and shoot off towards the Snitch.
I’m not more than 10 feet behind the Snitch when Diggory rams into me from the side. I struggle to keep myself balanced on the broom, and drop 4 feet when he tries to ram me again. He goes shooting off course, and I continue after the Snitch. It starts going higher, and I follow, Diggory not far behind. Then the Snitch takes another nose dive for the ground.
Diggory turns which easily allows him to be within 5 feet of the Snitch as he dives after it. I take off and all but flatten myself against the broom to try and catch up with Diggory. I do manage to draw even with him when the Snitch evens out to just about 10 feet above the ground.
At that point, I release my broom with one hand and both Diggory and I reach out for the Snitch.
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