Harry kept walking towards Ginny. His build so familiar despite her having only seen him so close once. Flying goggles, pushed up above his eyes, made his hair stick up wildly, but maybe that was just how his hair always behaved. Well used and abused padding covered his body.
She blinked in further surprise, none of the usual garish orange could be seen anywhere. Eventually he came to halt before them. His face betraying nothing, but his green eyes never left Ginny. They were narrowed slightly, not in anger or resentment, rather they were considering.
Gwenog coughed to clear her throat from laughing. “Ginny I’d like you to meet your private coach for the next month, Harry Potter.”
Ginny held out her hand tentatively and Harry took it. The touch felt warm and hard. She could feel the familiar calluses, similar on her own fingers and palms; the result of Quidditch being a passion. Still, her hands felt soft against his.
“A pleasure to meet you, Mr Potter.” Harry’s mouth quirked slightly in seeming amusement.
Gwenog interrupted before he could speak. “Harry, this is our new talent, Ginny Weasley.”
“Nice to meet you, Miss Weasley,” he said and finally let go of her hand. His brief smile waned. “And please, call me Harry.”
“Then I insist on being called Ginny,” she replied with more confidence than the butterflies in her stomach would have indicated.
He grinned slightly again, but made no reply. “I think I’ll leave the two of you to get to know each other.” Gwenog took a single step then stopped. “I hope you remember your contract, Ginny. You may speak to no one about these sessions. Not even family. Do I make myself clear?”
“Of course, Gwenog.” Ginny cringed at using her coaches’ first name before Harry.
The woman smiled as if knowing why Ginny felt distressed. “Good.” Then with a single motion of her wand the woman vanished with a feint pop.
Ginny’s nerves returned fall force. She stood alone in the middle of the Harpies Quidditch pitch, which was bad enough on its own, with none other than the mystical Harry Potter standing behind her. He was an enigma to the wizarding world. And yet she had seen something of him no reporter ever had. She'd seen him with tears in his eyes.
She slowly pivoted round to face him. Her intake of breath had to have been audible. This close she found him even more attractive than on any of his posters. His dishevelled appearance only added to the charm. His hand gripped the broom beside him and his expression was once again contemplative as he studied her. It made her wonder why he'd retired so quickly at the end of last season. Nothing seemed wrong with him. He could walk, and if his broom and padding were any indication then he could still fly.
“So what do you have planned for me today, H… Harry,” she managed with a wince. She really needed to get over the use of first names.
His oddly sad green eyes turned away. “Today?” He talked more to himself. “I just want us to fly,” he added softly.
He dug into his pocket and removed a Golden Snitch. Without looking at her, he let go and the little winged ball fluttered away. “Ready for a few games between Seekers?” He spoke the words with longing. It was the first time she actually saw him give a genuine smile. It wasn’t fake like the one on his poster or as faint as the few he gave earlier. This was honest, even if it didn’t fully reach his eyes.
“I hope you’re ready, Mr Potter,” she laughed before shooting into the air.
“Don’t worry about me, Miss Weasley,” he shouted after her.
Ginny raced into the air and began her tried and tested, unbeaten, methodology of finding the Snitch. Her keen eyes scanned the field for any sign of glittering gold. “I’ll show you what I’ve got, Harry,” she said fiercely to herself.
A few minutes later, a lazy looking Harry floated up beside her. “Seen it yet?” he asked casually. “These professional Snitches can be quite elusive.”
“No,” she said while trying hard not to lose focus. “The thing is rather sneaky.” Never once did she stop her search.
“Ok, well I hope you are more attentive in the second game,” he chuckled apologetically.
“What!” Her broom stopped with a jerk. “Ouch!” she shouted as her head nearly left her shoulders.
“Careful, these professional brooms tend to be rather responsive.”
She rubbed the back of her neck while looking at Harry. He wore a satisfied grin. The worst, however, sat in his hand — the Golden Snitch.
“Cheat!” she roared.
His green eyes darkened. “I don’t cheat. Ever.” There was no anger, nor did he raise his voice, but the words were said with meaning. “Welcome to the world of professional Quidditch, Ginevra Weasley.” She winced at the use of her full name and the talk. “This is not a school game, this is not a local Sunday club bash. This is the toughest league in the country and perhaps in the world.” She nodded, sobering up quickly. “I’ve seen you fly, Ginny,” Harry added. “Gwenog took me to your last game at Hogwarts. I saw then what I’m telling you now. You have the talent, but you’ll need to work hard before you can make it is this league.” He spoke in a firm commanding voice that left her feeling optimistic and not demoralised.
“I think I understand,” Ginny replied. She gripped her broom tightly. Harry knew how to make a point.
He smiled that same half happy, half sad smile again and she wondered what bothered him so much. What had brought him to tears so many years ago? “Ready?” he asked. When she felt up to the next game, he let go of the Snitch.
Ginny only returned home once the sun had set far enough for it to become too dark to see the Snitch. After arriving she ran to her room without wanting to talk to anybody. She would never be able to face her family again, not after today.
“Ginny!” her father called out. She ignored him. The pounding of her feet on the stairs was satisfying. She slammed her door shut and jumped onto the bed. Her face hid itself in a pillow. It was then that she let the scream free that had been stuck in her throat for the past few hours. Tears began to form. She only hoped her pillow would be able to absorb it all.
Thankfully her family left her alone. They knew Ginny and understood she needed time alone. All they’d get out of her now would be a Bat-Bogey hex. She continued to cry, thinking all the while how nice and caring Harry had been. The thought only made the day worse. The vicious cycle continued until she drifted off to sleep.
She woke to the sound of her door opening. It was now completely dark outside. The smell of dinner hung in the air. Either her mother finished it now or Ginny had not noticed it while barging into the house.
“She looks better?” She heard Ron whisper to their mother.
“Ginny, when you feel up to it, dinner is ready.” A single set of feet walked down the stairs. Ron had remained. She could almost feel his presence.
Her bed shifted slightly and a comforting hand rubbed her shoulder. “It’s alright, Ginny. Whatever happened it’s alright.” She pushed her face into the pillow and shouted again as she kicked her legs about. His words were enough to bring out another rush of emotions and frustration. “At least there is some anger in you,” Ron chuckled nervously. “That’s got to count for something.”
Her feet stopped flailing about and she allowed herself to turn over. Ron sat beside her and the low light in the room illuminated a pale and worried face.
“So what did Old Gwenog do to you today?” Ron asked.
“Nothing,” she sighed angrily. She could not be angry at Ron. “The whole day was just bloody humiliating. That’s all.” She scowled at how kind Harry had tried to be about the whole experience. The man had a good heart.
His grip tightened defensively. “If they did anything to…”
“Nothing like that!” she shouted quickly. Harry would never do anything to hurt her. She shook her head wondering where that thought had come from. “We just flew around and I got trounced every single bloody bleeding time.”
“Blimey,” Ron muttered in pure astonishment. The lack of a stronger word emphasised his shock. His eyes were wide “I didn’t think you could lose. I mean even at thirteen when you flew against Charlie you never lost a game.”
Ginny thought for a while. “My contract binds me to secrecy, but I think telling you that I lost all seventeen one-on-one games today doesn’t breech anything.”
“Bloody hell, Ginny,” he said in bewilderment. “You lost seventeen games?”
She nodded in shame. “Seventeen bloody games straight."
“No wonder you’re crying like a girl.”
She hit him on the shoulder. “Prat!”
Ron began to laugh. “You lost a game!” It didn’t seem like he could help himself. He roared with laughter. “Blimey that feels good.”
“Losing is not funny, Ron,” she said trying to sound angry, but his laughing was infectious.
“I know it’s not,” he continued to chuckle. “It’s tragic. But…” He sounded in awe. “It proves you’re human.” He ruffled her hair in a way she hated. “My little sister is human!” he shouted.
“Oi, I take offense to such terms. I’m a Harpy.” She tried her best to keep from laughing, but the grin proved impossible to hide. Then her arms were around her brother’s neck. “Thank you, Ron.” Her voice soft.
“What are irritating brothers for if not to help their little sister?” Ron replied as he pulled her into a brotherly hug. When he let go he kept his hands on her shoulders and stared deeply into her eyes. “Now I want you to go back out there tomorrow and do your best. Whatever Gwenog is doing it’s going to work. Losing is the surest way to learn, Ginny. Absorb as much as you can.”
“When did my little brother become so wise?” she said with a slight hint of admiration in her voice. Ron had always been a blubbering idiot, well most of the time.
He let go of her shoulder and shyly rubbed his where her blow had fallen while unsuccessfully trying to hide a blush.
“It’s Hermione isn’t it,” Ginny squeaked. “You’ve been seeing her, haven’t you?”
“Maybe,” Ron muttered.
She threw her arms around his neck again. “She’s perfect for you.”
“Too bloody perfect that one,” Ron muttered. “But thanks, Ginny.”
They sat in silence each in their own world of thoughts until Ginny broke the spell. “I think we better get down. Dinner smells divine.” As if to prove the point her stomach growled.
They sat down around the dinner table. Her father and mother did not ask anything. “I’m just a little frustrated with myself,” Ginny said hoping to break the awkwardness.
“So nothing bad happened.”
“Nothing that I won’t learn from.” This time she did smile. “My contract has not been burned and I’m still well on my way to playing in the opening game.” She elbowed Ron. “When I’ll trounce all over your beloved Chudley Cannons.”
Ron seemed torn in two. “Only because we lost Harry,” Ron said trying to regain some dignity.
Ginny burst out laughing. Her parents and Ron just stared at her while probably wondering how hard Ginny’d hit her head during the day; if they only knew.
“Merlin, Ron!” she choked out eventually. “I can’t argue with you on that one.”
So ends the first chapter. Some of the chapters will be quite short, sorry.
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of Quidditch 101. Lesson number two will be coming your way soon.
Thanks you again for all the reviews. They are great!