Chapter 31 : Running and Hypocrites
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George leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes. “I don’t think either could or even should be considered better.”
“Okay,” I say, laying back on the icy wood of the bleachers. “I’ll let you win there.”
“Teizon! Weasley! Get to the ground now. I want to close practice before it gets any darker and colder out,” Wood shouts from somewhere above us.
I groan and put my right arm over my eyes, still waiting for my breathing to return to normal. After spending almost 2 solid hours running the bleachers—along with slipping once or twice on the icy spots—the idea of having to go down all kinds of stairs just to listen to Wood criticize people isn’t fun.
I close my eyes as I hear George push away from the wall. The snow crunches under his shoe as he walks around me but I don’t move. I don’t really care to move as I can feel the muscles in my calves tightening into knots already.
“Alright Hail,” he says and I can tell he’s now standing next to me. I move my arm a little and open my eyes to see him standing with his hands held out, an offer to help me up. “Let’s go.”
“Just go without me…maybe if I’m lucky I’ll freeze before Wood comes to find me,” I reply, again not even attempting to move.
“Hailey,” he sighs. “You know I’m not just gonna leave you up here. But I also don’t feel like gaining a couple more practices of running and I’m sure you don’t either. So let’s go.”
“I don’t think I’ll have legs for another practice of running on this icy death trap,” I reply, motioning with my left hand towards the bleachers we’ve spent the past 4 practices on.
“My point exactly,” George says, grabbing my left hand easily in his. “Now give me your other hand.”
I give in and take his right hand. “Do I actually have to stand up though? I’m not sure I’ll be able to.”
He shakes his head and pulls me to my feet, which feel much like Jell-O rather than legs that are supposed to support my weight. George seems to sense that as he pauses at this point, keeping both of my hands in his. He looks at me until I look him in the eyes.
“Of course you have to stand up. It’s hard to do this otherwise,” He says, moving his lips over mine long enough to make me feel dizzy before he starts towards the stairwell, keeping one of my hands in his.
I make it to the point where there are only two sets of the stair left before the calf muscle in my right leg tightens painfully, to the point where it can barely hold my weight on it. Due to this, I decide to stop on the landing and lean back against the wall, while George looks at me questioningly.
“We’re still not at the bottom,” He says, tilting his head a little in confusion.
“I’ve realized that, actually,” I reply, letting go of his hand to massage the muscle that refuses to function properly. “But I don’t think this muscle cares too much.”
“You shouldn’t have laid down after you finished the last bleacher. Not only does the lack of pressure let muscles cramp form but the cold definitely doesn’t help,” George says, concern fluttering in his eyes as he comes to lean on the wall next to me.
“Little late for that now,” I reply, sticking my leg out in front of me and slowly rotating my ankle around. I try to hide the grimace when I turn my ankle and stretch the muscle a little too far but I know I’m not doing so great of a job of it as I catch George wincing with me out of the corner of my eye.
After a couple more moments of that, I put my foot back on the ground and attempt to take a step away from the wall. The first one doesn’t go so bad, but the second one almost causes me leg to collapse underneath me. I grab onto the railing of the staircase at the same time George gets an arm around me to keep me upright.
“Walk towards the stairs, really?” George asks, keeping his arm around me.
I look back at him as I straighten out and lightly rest my right leg on the ground. “Just wanted to make sure you were awake still.”
“More like scare the hell outta me,” George replies, shaking his head a little.
“Okay, there’s that too,” I say as the door down below us opens.
“Wood says he’ll give you approximately 30 seconds to get out here before you’ll have another practice of bleachers,” Angie says.
“That’s fantastic, Angie,” I reply.
“Just passing on the message,” Angie says and a moment later the door swings shut.
“Okay, let’s go. We don’t need another practice of sprints,” I say, turning towards the stairs.
George quickly moves around me so he’s standing in front of me. “Yeah, we also don’t need the seeker to die walking down the stairs.”
I roll my eyes at him as I grab onto the railing. “I’m perfectly capable of walking down the stairs, leg cramp or not.”
George narrows his eyes a little bit and steps backwards down two steps, keeping himself in front of me. I glare at him but he just signals for me to go ahead and go down the stairs. I roll my eyes and slowly take the first step down.
I manage to keep myself upright by quickly shifting my weight and I look at George, who goes down another step in front of me. I take another step and this time my knee on the right side gives out, which seems to be exactly what George was figuring would happen as I hadn’t even started to fall before he had his arms around me.
“Perfectly capable in some sense of the term maybe,” he says. “And falling doesn’t count as capable.”
“Okay, so I really screwed up the muscle for the moment too,” I reply.
“Yeah, and for that reason, I’m going to carry you down the rest of the stairs,” George ignores my protests as he swings me into his arms and carries me down the remainder of the stairs. He puts me down at the bottom to pull open the door to let us out of the stair well.
He sticks close to my side, his arm under mine and holding my hand to support some of my weight so the limp isn’t quite so prominent. I can tell he’s watching me closely to be sure I can handle at least this much walking and I try hard to keep my face relaxed.
“We have everyone?” Wood asks as George and I finally make it to the back edge of the group. He looks around and sees a few head nods and takes that as his signal to start.
“Okay, I don’t want to hold everyone up for very long. It’s cold out here and I’m sure we all have better things to do than stand here. So. Good practice. We have to get focused better at the beginning of practice because there is too much screwing around. If you all wanna get done with practice and get out in a timely manner, the time wasting has to stop.”
He glares around at everyone as they all nod. “Alright. The only other thing I have to say is, since we get our seeker and other beater back,” Pointed glare towards George and I, “we’re going to jump into drill practice. I have a couple new ones and a couple tweaks with some of the old ones and we’re going to be testing them out, reserves verse players. We may mix up even those teams a little just to get these drills down.”
Skye has her hand in the air the second he finishes.
“Yeah Williams?” Wood looks half confused that she already has a question.
“I was just wondering why we’re jumping into drill practices? We usually only do that before a game?”
The whole team mutters their agreement to her question. Wood holds up his hands to silence us.
“We have a scrimmage verse Ravenclaw in two weeks or so. We have four practices between now and then.”
“And why weren’t we told earlier?” Fred asks.
“Seriously. We only have four practices and we have to play a game?” I add in.
“Why do we have to play a scrimmage verse Ravenclaw anyways?” Lyn asks.
“Hey now,” Wood yells, loud enough to get us all to shut up. “I warned you guys before break that we’d pick up more practice times and there was a likely scrimmage verse Ravenclaw that’s coming up,” Wood says, glaring around at us to keep us from talking. “I wasn’t going to tell you all too far ahead of time because I knew you’d whine about it. But the Scrimmage is going to happen so y’all may as well get over it.”
“But only four practices?” I ask again.
“That’s only the case for you and Weasley. If you hadn’t gotten four practices of sprints, you’d have eight practices before the scrimmage,” Wood says and when he sees my mouth open, he quickly adds, “And there’s no use fighting it now. Whether we’re ready or not, the scrimmage is going to go on. So we need to focus in these next couple of practices and be ready.”
It falls quiet for a couple minutes as Wood looks around at all of us. None of us dare say anything more, no matter how unprepared we feel about this practice because we know it’ll only lead to further trouble for us.
“If that’s it, you’re all free to go.”
We all look around at each other before some of the reserves head to the locker room. Wood stands in front of us for another minute before he too turns and heads for the locker room.
I remain where I am, George next to me and my right leg barely resting on the ground, as Angie, Katie, Alicia, Skye and Fred come over to us.
“It’s going to be a fun two weeks,” Katie says, rubbing a hand over her eyes.
“Yeah, it’ll be just great. Why we need a scrimmage against Ravenclaw before the game between Slytherin and Ravenclaw is beyond me. It’s not like it even means anything either,” I reply.
“Exactly,” Alicia agrees.
“And what exactly is it you did to your leg?” Angie asks, noticing that I’m not balancing weight on it.
“Don’t run sprints and then lay down on ice right afterwards. It’s a bad idea,” I reply, pulling a face.
“And don’t try to walk down a billion stairs after too,” George says, rolling his eyes.
“Hey, I made it down most of them,” I say, glaring at him.
“Exactly…until you tightened the muscle into a knot that barely let you move,” George says.
“Okay, as adorable as you can consider this argument, can we please just go to the locker room? It’s cold,” Fred says, interrupting the conversation.
“Yeah, and we can probably still make it to the great hall before Dinner is halfway done,” Katie adds.
George looks at me, concern reflecting in his eyes until Skye steps to stand on my other side. “I’ve got her.”
George looks to Skye and nods, releasing my hand. I glare between the two of them and then roll my eyes. “I’m perfectly capable.”
“Humour me,” George says, kissing my cheek before him and Fred head to the guy’s locker room.
I shake my head. “I so wish I could’ve smacked him.”
“He’s just looking out for you,” Skye says.
“Being over protective now that Wood can’t do anything is the corrective term,” I grumble as I limp towards the locker room. Skye doesn’t say anything but follows behind me.
* * *
“I vote we just don’t show up to practice,” I say laying back on my bed, already in my Quidditch gear and waiting for my dorm mates to catch changes.
“That’d probably be a bad idea,” Trina says, glancing up from her book. “You do have a scrimmage in a few days.”
“Besides, I thought your goal was not to piss off Wood?” Angie half asks as she emerges from the bathroom.
“Eh, he’s pissed off at me all the time anyways,” I say, closing my eyes.
Katie laughs as she pulls on her Quidditch boots. “Yeah, and with good reason. You and George totally used his own rules against him.”
“I take offense to that,” I say, opening my eyes and sitting up. “George is the one who used his own rules against him. I had no idea there was a loophole.”
Trina puts her bookmark in and closes the book she’s been reading for the past two hours. “Yeah, but by association, you were also using the rule against him. You are the reason George found the loophole.”
“Eh, whatever,” I say as Alicia comes out of the bathroom, also in her Quidditch gear. “Are we ready to go?”
“May as well be,” Angie says, pulling on a pair of gloves.
I get to my feet before pulling my hat on and shoving my gloves into my pocket. “Good, then let’s go get this practice over with.”
We all grab our brooms, as we’ve had this tendency to be keeping them in our rooms so we don’t have to walk through all the snow to get to the Quidditch pitch. We say goodbye to Trina after she walks down to the common room with us to sit with Mark by the fire.
We make our way silently through the corridors, all of us tired and dreading the cold that will inevitably soak into us by the end of practice. It’s made even worse by the fact that we know Wood will hold practice a little longer just to make us go through extra drills and running, just like he did through the last three practices.
We make it out the oak front doors and I take a moment to pull my gloves on before mounting my broom. Together in our group of four, we take off towards the pitch. We take this time to screw around, diving in front of each other and looping around each other just to get out some of our spare energy as Wood would kill us if we did it during practice instead.
We make it to the locker rooms where we land and walk into the warm locker room. We each feel the heat burning our faces as its bitter cold and windy outside today.
“What if we just hang out in here throughout practice? Then we’re technically here, aren’t we?” Katie asks as we lean against the wall just inside the door leading to the pitch.
“Well, I’m sure it’d work if Wood wouldn’t come in to yell at us to get out there and get moving,” Angie says, rubbing her gloved hands together.
We fall silent again as we glance at the clock, waiting until the last possible moment before leaving the warmth behind us. And of course, we’re not the only ones with the idea as the Reserves join us in the hall leading to the pitch.
“We have, like, thirty seconds. We may want to go out,” Skye says after a couple minutes.
All of the girls turn their heads towards the clock, including me. Almost 7 o’clock even.
We all mutter and groan but Angie takes the lead and pushes the door open. We stream out of the locker room and group start towards our usual meeting spot, not more than 20 meters from the locker rooms.
“If he holds us after, I will just walk out of practice,” I say, as I fall into step next to Skye as Katie and Alicia are up by Angie who is leading us all.
“We should all walk out. It’ll be hard for him to be pissed at the entire team,” Skye agrees as I glance over to see the boys exiting the boy’s locker room.
I smile when I see Fred and George acting out some weird thing they did over break that makes the entirety of the group they’re in laugh. I continue to watch until I run into someone in front of me, who has stopped short.
“Sorry,” I say, turning to see Lyn, who doesn’t even flinch.
I tilt my head a little and look over at Skye, whose attention is also set in the same direction as Lyn’s. I go up onto my tip toes and look above the heads of the girls in front of me. I almost fall over in shock at the sight in front of me.
Oliver Wood, Quidditch captain and supreme maker of rules to ruin things for people, is snogging. And he’s not snogging just anyone…he’s snogging the Ravenclaw Reserve Keeper, Reagan Plitt.
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