Harry wasn't worried about the annual Quidditch weigh in. Why should he be? Sure, he needed to be light and fast as the Seeker but he was constantly being told he was too skinny by Mrs Weasley and Hermione. Then again…
Frowning, Harry thought back to the last time either of them accused him of being underweight. His memories took him all the way back to the night that Dumbledore had brought him to the Burrow after his visit to Slughorn. Molly had declared him shockingly thin and forced a large amount of food upon him during the first few days of his visit. However, she had not readdressed the issue for the rest of his stay.
Did that mean he had put on a significant amount of weight since then? No. Of course not. He was worrying over nothing. In a matter of minutes, the scales would reassure him that he weighed exactly the same as he had last year and he could put the whole matter to rest.
Almost subconsciously he hunched over the magical display on the top of the scales in a futile attempt to keep them hidden from the keen eyes of Madame Hooch. Instead of her usual spiel where she berated him and demanded that he increase his food intake lest he waste away to nothingness, Madame Hooch simply smiled and nodded with approval.
Taking his courage in hand, Harry risked a glance at the numbers on the screen. At which point he nearly toppled off the scales in shock.
"Better show a bit more balance on your broom mate or we haven't got a promising practice ahead!" Ron was smiling fondly at his best friend but Harry had lost his sense of humour.
He had somehow gained half a stone in the space of a year. How had that happened? Looking at Madame Hooch with desperation in his eyes, he felt his entire face turning red with embarrassment. This couldn't really be happening, could it?
Seeing and correctly interpreting his concern, Madame Hooch squeezed his shoulder gently, "No need to worry, Potter. Your BMI is well within the healthy zone. In fact, every year previous to this one, it has been in the underweight zone so you should actually be pleased. I know I am." And with that, she led him off the scales so she could take Ginny's weight.
Ginny smiled at him also, "Don't worry, Harry. We'll tell you if you're turning Dudley on us!" The words were said kindly but Harry felt every word punch him in his overgrown stomach like a fist. Suddenly, the world felt as if it was spiralling out of his control. How had this happened without him even realising it? Would he be able to undo the damage in time? What if the consequences affected the entire Quidditch team?
Feeling horribly queasy, Harry focused on breathing. In. Out. In Out. Having finished with Ginny, Madame Hooch was once more examining Harry. This time with worried eyes. "Potter, I think you had better go and lie down. You're looking very pale."
Even though he knew the captain of a team couldn't be seen as weak and even though this was supposed to be their first Quidditch practice of the season, he knew that it would be even worse for team morale if he proceeded to fall off his broom mid-practice. So with a hurried apology, he rescheduled the practice and raced away from the site of his utter humiliation.
The following morning, Ron and Hermione pounced on him at breakfast. They were wearing twin expressions of relief and frustration. Hermione caught him in a tight embrace, "Harry, where have you been? We were so worried!"
Harry looked at them blankly. Following the disastrous events of the day before, he had realised that he had some research to do. He'd created a calorie counter, meal plans and an exercise regime. All of which were designed to help him lose that despicable half a stone before the first Quidditch match of the season.
In order to avoid detection in the midst of this crucial but embarrassing task, he had carried out his research in the Room of Requirement. However, he had no intention of telling his friends this version of events.
Instead, he dropped his head until it was just above his plate and lowered his voice until it was barely above a whisper, "Dumbledore took me on a sort of field trip. I can't tell you much at the moment but it was a long journey and I was so knackered afterwards that I pretty much collapsed into bed."
His friends looked disappointed but nodded conspiratorially. Of course they believed him. His story made perfect sense. But although the lie may have been absolutely necessary for the preservation of his pride, Harry still felt a twinge of guilt. His new weight may have been humiliating and repulsive but this was the first secret he had kept from his friends and that made him slightly sad.
Still, it wasn't forever. He would stick to his meal plans, lose the half a stone and then everything would return to normal. That was the thought which consoled him as he helped himself to a small portion of plain porridge and a slice of dry toast. It wasn't going to be easy but it would have to be endured if he was to regain control over his life.
Ok, that's it for chapter 1 – let me know what you think! All reviews will be much appreciated.