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Chapter 4 : Chapter 4
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Ginny only had one day of training left before try outs- a fact that she doubted would ever give her a minute’s peace and was the reason for the abandonment of her bed at four o’clock in the morning. She had been on the pitch from then until the rest of the Burrow had woken up and Harry had come outside to talk her off her broom.
She knew he was right; training too hard now would only cause her to be sore and worn down tomorrow. But she couldn’t stand just sitting there, not doing anything to prepare.
Experiencing a fleeting moment of determination to sneak back outside, she glance up to plan her escape route, only to remember that Harry was still watching her concernedly from his seat across the table. Under different circumstances, Ginny was sure she would find his concerns endearing, but at that moment all she could think about was making a snide comment about not needing a babysitter.
Her musings were interrupted by a sudden burst of yelling from upstairs. Startled, her attention shifted to the door where she could hear footsteps and raised voices approaching.
“Ronald, you know perfectly well that there is no point in arguing with me about this,” Ginny recognised Hermione’s voice, which was clearly struggling to maintain a reasonable tone.
“Yes there bloody well is! There’s no way I’m letting you go out there by yourself. It could be dangerous! It’s just too soon, Hermione.”
“Too soon?!” Ginny winced at the sound of Hermione’s screeching. The footsteps stopped and she could just imagine Hermione wheeling about to face Ron. Ginny exchanged a nervous glance with Harry, who looked just as perplexed as she felt. “It’s been nearly a month! My parents are out there, not knowing who they really are or that I even exist, and you want me to just sit around here? I’ve waited long enough. I’ve gone to the funerals and I’ve given it time to be sure we’re truly safe, but it’s time for me to find my parents, Ron.”
The footsteps resumed and it wasn’t very long before the pair burst through the door. Spotting her, Hermione made her way over to where Ginny was sitting.
“I’m so sorry, Ginny. I wanted to stay for your trials, but I’ve just got to go.” There was a determined look on her face, but years of friendship had given Ginny the ability to see the desperation hidden in her eyes.
“Of course. Really, it’s fine. Go find your parents, and be safe.” Ginny replied, doing her best to convey as much sincerity through her eyes as she could. She thought she succeeded because, after a moment, Hermione gave a small smile and hugged Ginny before letting her go and making her way around the table to where Harry sat.
Harry stood as Hermione approached, and she hugged him tightly. Ginny could see Hermione’s lips moving, but couldn’t quite tell what she was whispering to him. After a minute, however, she had pulled away.
“And take care of that stubborn git, as well,” Hermione said, nodding her head to the corner where Ron was sulking, arms crossed and leaning against the wall as he glared over at the three of them.
She slowly made her way towards him and with every step she took, Ginny could see the fight leaving his eyes, replaced with something much more heart-breaking.
“Hermione,” Ron choked out, his voice slightly strangled. Ginny looked away from the pair, focusing again on her sandwich but this time fully aware of the room. “Please just don’t go. Please. Or at least let me come with you.”
“Don’t be silly,” Hermione said softly, raising herself on her tiptoes to give him a rare kiss, “you have to stay here with your family. I’ll be fine. I just want my parents back.” She hugged him tightly, not letting go for several moments, but then she backed away and, with what Ginny was sure were tears in her eyes, left through the front door without looking back. They heard a loud crack from the front garden and Ron slumped into a chair, looking absolutely defeated.
Ginny exchanged another nervous glance with Harry, who gestured towards the door, clearly as eager as she was to give Ron some time alone and evacuate the scene as soon as possible. She nodded and allowed herself to be pulled up by his outstretched hands and led to the door.
“Merlin, that was just uncomfortable,” Ginny said, letting out a sigh of relief after the door had closed behind them.
“Yeah, well… He really should have seen that coming. I get that he’s worried, we all are, but she needed to go.”
“Mmmm,” she agreed, taking his hand and pulling him towards the path they usually walked. “I think the real issue was that he just didn’t want her to leave him. I love my brother, but sometimes he just needs to grow up.”
He grunted noncommittally. “Let’s not talk about them, let’s talk about you! How excited are you to be a Harpy?”
“Did you really have to bring that up?” she groaned as the nerves in her stomach made a comeback stronger than ever. “And I told you, I still have to try out! If they have any sense at all, they’ll send me off the pitch straight away.”
“Don’t give me that rubbish, you know you’re brilliant. If you don’t get on the team, the Harpies will have officially made the worst mistake in the team’s history, and that includes letting on Glynnis Griffiths.”
Ginny was so preoccupied, she didn’t even smile at the reference to the Harpies’ Seeker that had taken seven days to catch the snitch. Harry noticed.
He stopped walking and, with the resultant gentle tug on her arm, Ginny reluctantly turned to face him. She kept her eyes to the ground, determined not to let him see how worried she really was.
“Ginny, look at me,” he said. When she made no response but to bite her quavering bottom lip and blink back unbidden tears, he raised his hand so that it rested underneath her chin. Gently, he lifted her head so she was forced to look into his deep green eyes. “Ginny, please.” He sounded almost desperate. “I’m sorry I brought it up, but I had no idea you were this worried. I swear, you really shouldn’t be.”
“I know, I just –” Her voice began to quaver. Am I actually crying right now? I don’t cry! Trust Harry to be the one to always bring me to tears. She coughed before starting again. “I just can’t believe this is actually happening. I’ve dreamed about it for so long, not actually thinking for a second that I would even try out someday. Now that I actually am, I just… I just feel like I’m gonna screw it all up.”
“Ginny….” The look in his eyes was almost unreadable and for a moment he seemed lost for words.
“It’s fine, I’m fine,” she said, breaking her eyes away from the impossibly green depths of his own. “It’s just – even if I do get on the team – I’m just so scared of… of everything else that would mean….” Merlin, Ginny. Why’s it so hard for you to just say you’re scared of leaving him?
“Ginny,” he said softly, pulling her own eyes to his once again. “I promise everything will be alright. If you make it or if you don’t, what matters is that we’re safe now and I will do everything in my power to make sure you’re happy.” There was a hard, intense look in his eyes, and he paused for a moment before he continued, “Ginny, I… I love you.”
She was shocked into silence.
Harry Potter loves me? Harry Potter loves me?
In all her years of waiting and hoping, she had always known that he was her perfect dream, the one she would never be able to live without, and after all those years, she couldn’t believe he finally felt the same way.
“Blimey, Harry. I love you, too.” His face, so etched with nerves just a moment ago, broke into a grin.
And then she was kissing him, more fiercely than she ever had before. They hadn’t been this close since his seventeenth birthday and she couldn’t believe how much she missed him. So much had happened since then, so much had changed, but this – them – hadn’t.
He only took a moment to recover from the surprise of her sudden embrace, but then his lips parted and he responded with full force. Thrown off balance, she giggled and he smiled before wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her as closely to himself as he could. Entangling her fingers in his hair and probably messing it up even further than it naturally was, she smiled against his lips, because he was right: whatever may come later, at least in that moment, everything was perfect.
Have you ever dreaded something so much, you would give anything for a little more time before you had to face it? Did you beg the universe to heed your wishes, only to become convinced that the world was actually fighting against you? Did the time you were grasping onto like a lifeline seem to escape from between the clutches of your desperate fingers?
The Weasleys and Harry were standing in an uneven circle around a rusty old kettle. Ginny was glaring at the thing like it had committed a serious personal offense against her, but the rest of the group seemed to have eyes only for the youngest of its members.
Though her hand was clutching her new Firebolt like her life depended on it and her knuckles were shining a brilliant shade of white, Ginny maintained the rather even facial expression she was so practised at displaying. She was a strong girl and, as nervous as she might be, her moment of weakness from before was all she was allowing herself. Even then, she had made sure only Harry was there to witness it. Still, if she had to stand here any longer with everyone’s eyes on her and a taunting rusty kettle to haunt her, she wasn’t sure how long her resolve would hold.
Thanks to the many Ministry connections her family now had, in just a minute, that falsely innocent looking kettle would be transporting Ginny to Holyhead where, if the day played out with any accordance to the visions inside her head, Ginny would make a complete wanker of herself in front of the entire team she had grown up adoring.
Even this sudden lack of self-confidence was alarming to her. Obviously, she knew she was a good flyer - she’d always known that - but the prospect of having to prove it in front of who she considered to be the greatest Quidditch players in the world was enough to shatter even her self-certainty.
Slowly the kettle began to glow and shake, and the butterflies that seemed to be permanently settled in Ginny’s stomach made another bid for freedom. She clutched her broom even tighter, sure that, at any second, it would splinter beneath the pressure of her desperate fingers, and looked up at her family’s faces. They were all smiling encouragingly at her and Mrs. Weasley, who was standing just next to her, gave her shoulder a brief squeeze. Steeling herself, Ginny took a deep breath before reaching out to take hold of the offensive little object.
Ginny gasped as she experienced the uncomfortable wrenching sensation in her abdomen that always accompanied a trip by portkey. Soon – much too soon – she felt herself slowing down and realised she would give anything to be back in transit, uncomfortable sensations or not.
She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the brightness that engulfed her new surroundings. As her vision slowly cleared up, she could just make out a shadowy figure drawing nearer.
“Hello!” she heard the figure greet her cheerily. Squinting, Ginny was finally able to make out the face. It was Jessie Golde: Keeper for the Holyhead Harpies and star of several posters in Ginny’s room. Ginny nearly fell over, though this could have been partly due to the dizziness she already felt from the portkey. Golde was leaning against her broom to support her weight, her long blonde hair was pulled away from her face and into a ponytail, her green Harpies practice robes were dirty but obviously more well-made than the Hogwarts ones Ginny was used to.
Ginny quickly took her bearings. They seemed to be in the changing room. It was much bigger and nicer than the one she was used to at Hogwarts, but even still, she couldn’t help but feel a pang of longing for the familiar smell of mossy wood and old flying trainers. Although, she had to admit to herself as she looked around, she could quite get used to the sight of her name engraved on a locker in a place like this. Looking back at Jessie, she decided it was probably a good idea to respond if she wanted to keep up her appearance as a normal human being.
“Hi,” she replied, trying to seem as calm as possible. Inwardly, she wondered how seeing Jessie was a shock to her. She was in Holyhead, who did she expect to see? The Chudley Cannons? Ginny let out a small laugh. Horror-struck, she realised that Jessie was now eyeing her with a look of mixed amusement and apprehension. Desperate to recover from the moment, she continued, “Er, I’m here for Chaser trials. Gwenog Jones invited me.”
“Of course,” she said with an encouraging smile. “We were expecting you. I just got the lucky job of waiting around in here for your portkey. If you’re all ready, I can take you out to the field to meet the team?”
Ginny nodded and followed Jessie as she lead her through the changing room and out onto the pitch. She blinked furiously again as her eyes adjusted to the sun that was glaring down on her and reflecting against the moist grass. Finally, she looked up and had to actively prevent her jaw from dropping at what she was seeing.
Faster than she could possibly have imagined, players were zooming around the pitch. They were flying with a grace and ease she had only ever seen at the World Cup five years previously and, looking at the players streaking above her now, she had to wonder if they would have given the Cup winners a run for their money.
Somewhere from above - presumably from Captain Jones - Ginny heard the sound of a whistle being blown and she watched as, one by one, the team members made their way to the ground. If it weren’t for the fact that she was growing accustomed to the level of dizziness she had already been experiencing up until that point, the sight of them all standing there impressively would have been enough to land her on her back.
“Miss Weasley, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” said Gwenog, nodding curtly at her. “Everyone, this is Ginevra Weasley. She’ll be flying with us today.”
They all mumbled their hellos and Ginny tried to smile back, but was sure it came off as more of a grimace.
Gwenog then proceeded to introduce each of the members to her, as if she needed it.
“Ginevra, this is our Seeker, Grace Obee.” Obee, who Ginny would have recognized in a second, smiled at her, and Ginny attempted a nervous greeting in return before Jones continued, “My fellow Beater, Antoinette Gallagher -”
“It’s Toni!” the girl interrupted before shaking Ginny’s hand. She could feel the calluses and blisters on her fingers that had undoubtedly developed from years of gripping a Beaters bat.
Gwenog rolled her eyes exasperatedly before continuing, “Anna Greene and Ginger Reese, Chasers.” The two girls greeted her friendlily. “And I think you’ve met our Keeper, Jessie Golde.” Ginny nodded her confirmation and Jessie smiled at her again. “Well Miss Weasley, you’ll just be practising with us today. Feel free to stretch quickly and join us when you’re ready.”
Ginny affirmed that she understood and made her way to the side-lines where she was determined to loosen up. Admittedly, it took a few minutes, especially considering the fact that she seized right back up again every time she glanced at the expertise Quidditch playing that was occurring above her.
There were several moments when she seriously considered leaving right then and there. It’s very possible they would never realise I had gone, she told herself, I could just slip away and forget the whole thing had ever happened.
But just as she began eyeing the entrance to the changing rooms, she saw a notice board just by the entrance. A red flier was flapping that advertised, in gold shiny writing, a sale for witches fan jerseys and souvenirs at Quality Quidditch Supplies. Something about the sight of that flier triggered something deep inside her and she embraced the inner bravery she knew she possessed somewhere. Taking a deep breath and hoping that – at the very least – she managed to stay on her broom, she mounted her new Firebolt and kicked off.
A countless number of feelings swarmed Ginny’s mind as she trooped with the rest of the team back into the changing rooms. They had stayed out all day and well into the darkness before Captain Jones had called it quits. After about an hour in the air, Ginny had almost forgotten that she was trying out and was therefore probably being watched very closely by the other members of the team. On the whole, she now realised that was probably a good thing. In the absence of nerves, Ginny thought she had done fairly well. Of course, that small part of her mind questioned her as small parts of the mind always do, but she suppressed her misgivings and allowed herself to feel relieved that she had at least made it through trials without doing something blatantly stupid.
When they walked into the changing room, she experienced a moment’s hesitation as she realised that, while the members of the team made their way to their lockers, she had no locker to walk towards. Suddenly, she became very self-conscious as she made her way to the corner of the room, doing her best not to be noticed or get in anyone’s way. She sat down on an unoccupied stretch of benches and waited for somebody to tell her what to do. She watched as the other girls gathered their things, chatting animatedly as a few of them headed off towards the showers. She was just feeling even more out of place when her salvation came in the form of Jessie.
“Hey, it’s Ginevra, isn’t it?” she said kindly from the locker next to where Ginny was sitting.
“Er, well, it’s Ginny, actually,” she replied, blushing.
“Ginny,” she repeated. “How’d you feel about practice?”
“Blimey, well in comparison to you lot…”
Jessie chuckled understandingly. “I felt the same way the first time I flew with the Harpies, but don’t worry; you did fine. I hit Anna in the face during my trials. I got a little eager and, instead of blocking the Quaffle, I got her head. You didn’t do anything nearly as bad as that.”
Ginny laughed and felt some of the pressure release. Whatever happened next, Jessie was right; she hadn’t done anything nearly that bad. But as Gwenog Jones entered the changing room from the door that Ginny presumed must lead to her office, she felt her laughter catch in her throat. Jessie gave her a quick thumbs up before grabbing her things and heading for the showers. Ginny tried to give a smile back, but just couldn’t manage it.
Slowly, she turned back to see Captain Jones finally approaching her bench. Ginny quickly stood up and swallowed, opening her mouth to say something – though she couldn’t for the life of her think what. Before she had the chance to make something up, she heard Gwenog address her.
“Practice starts on Monday.” Ginny felt something soft being tossed into her arms. “Mind you’re not late.”
Looking down at the green Harpies’ robes she had dreamed about wearing nearly all her life, Ginny felt as though she could cast a Patronus to fight off all the dementors in Britain.
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