Well, I don't know what to do about the word count, except to promise the judges that minus this author's note and the line breaks (which inexplicably added about 50 words to the count), this piece is exactly 1,825 words. Judges, if this is a problem, let me know what I can do about it.
WELCOME everyone to my first entry in the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. I'm the first Chaser on the Caerphilly Catapults, hoping to earn some points for my team against the Wimbourne Wasps. The prompt this round was to write a fellow teammate's favorite pairing; second Chaser graciously gave me Harry and Ginny. I also chose three random prompts from the available list.
1. No question marks.
2. 1,825 word count.
3. The poem Hour by Carol Anne Duffy, which I'll paste here because it's lovely and I think sets the mood.
Love's time's beggar, but even a single hour,
bright as a dropped coin, makes love rich.
We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers
or wine, but the whole of the summer sky and a grass ditch.
For thousands of seconds we kiss; your hair
like treasure on the ground; the Midas light
turning your limbs to gold. Time slows, for here
we are millionaires, backhanding the night
so nothing dark will end our shining hour,
no jewel hold a candle to the cuckoo spit
hung from the blade of grass at your ear,
no chandelier or spotlight see you better lit
than here. Now. Time hates love, wants love poor,
but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw.
And I think this is just lucky happenstance, but it's super fun that I'm posting a favorite ship of keeptheotherone's on HER BIRTHDAY! Happy birthday babe!
Ginny, still in her Quidditch robes, stood halfway up the spiral staircase to the girls' dormitory, gripping her butterbeer bottle tightly in one hand and hanging onto the nearest hand railing with the other. Her whole body was still coursing with adrenaline.
She smiled widely and watched as the Quidditch Cup was hoisted onto many shoulders and borne around Gryffindor Tower. The entire House was crammed into the common room, howling and whooping with joy. Ginny felt like she was still perched on her broom, hovering over the celebrations.
Someone began a loud chorus of the improved "Weasley Is Our King" and the Quidditch Cup was passed to Ron, who had been cheering with Hermione and Demelza Robins. He seized the Cup and began a bizarre sort of victory dance across the room.
Ginny laughed out loud. She hadn't been able to stop grinning since the end of the match, and her heart hadn't stopped racing since the moment she had caught the Snitch from directly beneath Cho Chang's pretty, pointed nose.
She was feeling breathless, excited, ready to say or do anything, and feeling like she was about to take off into flight. Then, as if Gryffindor Tower itself knew what she had been thinking, the portrait hole opened, and there was a roar of excitement.
Harry appeared under the many-armed monster of Gryffindors, his glasses lopsided as he shoved his messy black hair from his eyes, laughing in astonishment as Ron waved the Quidditch Cup at his head.
"WE WON! WE WON! FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY TO A HUNDRED AND FORTY!"
It was like a giant, invisible hand had shoved her in the small of her back. Ginny was propelled forward through the crowd, between the shouts of joy and the flying streaks of crimson and gold that swirled through the common room, by a force beyond her control, practically tripping over her own feet as she found herself ten feet away from Harry… five… two…
His green eyes met hers at exactly the right moment and widened in shock, and then, in a single, flying bound, a tangle of arms, and a momentary stagger as they collided, their lips met… but whether it was for a minute or for an hour, she would never quite be able to tell.
It was a beautiful day under the sprawling tree by banks of the lake; the glimmering, early summer sunlight was only just starting to fade, despite the lateness of the hour. Harry and Ginny had been lying side by side under the tree for almost an hour, enjoying this brief respite as much as they could.
Lately, it seemed as though a few spare hours were all they could have, dotted here and there like the little flashes of light that reflected off the surface of the lake, but Harry was determined to make the most of every second they could steal.
He turned onto his side in the grass and opened his eyes, straightening his glasses. Ginny was basking in the sun on the ground beside him, one arm bent behind her head, the other draped lazily over her stomach. The golden light of the setting sun lit her whole body with a kind of gilded, gleaming aura. Not for the first time, Harry felt the absence of the envious creature that had taken up residence behind his breastbone sometime in the last few months.
Harry was somewhat hypnotized by the way the sun was lighting up Ginny's flame-colored hair, the outline of her nose, her freckled cheeks, her bare arms in her rolled-up shirtsleeves… he smiled and reached over, brushing his fingertips against the back of her long hand.
Ginny twitched her fingers, catching his, and gave a sleepy sigh. "M'awake. Time," she mumbled, not opening her eyes.
"Almost dinner," he said, sitting up on his elbow and looking around. He pushed a hand through his hair and yawned. "How long d'you suppose we can stay out here before…"
"About five minutes," she smirked, still lying on her back. "Ron and Hermione'll be out here, fighting about something and looking for us. I'm surprised Luna hasn't tracked us down yet." Harry grinned as Ginny opened her eyes and sat up, heaving another enormous sigh. "We ought to go in, I suppose."
"Going inside means you have to study," Harry said reasonably.
"You have an appointment with Dumbledore," she replied, smiling. "You won't even miss me."
Harry hesitated, but Ginny wasn't prying. "No appointment. Dumbledore's traveling, I think."
Ginny shrugged. "Either way. You can do homework with me, if you want to. I'll just be doing practice O.W.L. papers for Charms in the library."
He gave her a skeptical look. "I don't much fancy Madam Pince magicking your things to chase us out of the library again, personally."
"To be fair, she had a pretty good reason," Ginny laughed, leaning over and linking their fingers together. She kissed him gently. "Fine. You do homework—or—well, play chess with Ron, more like. I'll come back as early as I can."
Harry sighed and looked up at the castle, silhouetted against the pinks and purples of the late afternoon sky. "I don't know how much more of this I can do. An hour here, an hour there." Ginny stared at him, and suddenly, he heard his own words. "Wait, wait, that's not what I meant," he said quickly, horrified.
She laughed. "I know. I hate that we don't seem to have very much time together now. But… well, even with all that's going on, we'll have more chances soon. We will, Harry. You're coming to the Burrow the second you're done with the Dursleys, obviously, and we can have your birthday there, and you'll be around for Bill and Fleur's wedding… it'll be great, Harry." Ginny trailed off, watching him closely. "Even if all my brothers are stuffed in the house… I promise, we'll make time." Her large brown eyes were wide with something a bit like worry, but she gave him a smile.
He half-returned it. "Yeah. Yeah, we'll make time," he said, leaning forward and kissing her lips.
Ginny scrubbed the frying pan, her tired, burning eyes gazing unfocusedly out the kitchen window at the Burrow's garden. She could see the edge of the flowers that marked the spot where they had buried Fred, barely a week ago. Some of them looked rather wilted; she ought to clear them away.
Her elbows, back and all her muscles ached, but she was much more comfortable burying herself in labor. The distraction that dishes, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the house was welcome. In the month since Voldemort's death, many wonderful things had happened, and there were certainly many things to be grateful for.
However, today had been Mum's tenth straight day of being unable to get out of bed, leaving Ginny feeling lost and vaguely adrift, and she was therefore having a difficult time being particularly grateful for anything. She sighed and dried her hands on a dishtowel, going to look through the doorway to the living room; apparently, Dad was still upstairs, probably trying to convince Mum to eat something of the dinner Ginny had made. The Burrow was quiet, but not in a peaceful way. In fact, Ginny was growing more and more anxious by the second, the quiet pressing painfully on her ears. She closed her eyes against tears that threatened to spill over.
Ginny took a breath and straightened her shoulders, turning to face the kitchen door, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione were coming in, looking exhausted and disheveled.
"Hi," she smiled, greeting Hermione with a hug. "You look tired."
Hermione sighed and nodded. "We were repairing Ravenclaw Tower today, it was a lot of work."
"You cooked," Ron groaned happily, giving Ginny half a pat on the shoulder before hurrying to the sideboard and picking up one of the plates she'd prepared for their arrival. "Thanks, Gin, you're the greatest."
"My pleasure," she said quietly, smiling slightly as Hermione left her side and picked up her plate as well.
"You look upset," Harry said in a low voice, directly in her ear. He put a hand around her waist, and she shifted slightly, shaking her head.
"You should eat," she told him. "It's roast, it's going to dry out if you don't have it soon."
"Come on," he said, as Ron and Hermione took their plates to the table, bickering amiably about something or another. He grabbed Ginny's hand. "Let's go outside for a minute."
"I haven't finished the dishes," she protested. "Seriously, have your dinner. I'm fine."
Harry gave her a meaningful look; they were each still very careful around Ron, but he was so distracted with Hermione lately, they really needn't have bothered. "Come on," he insisted. "You need a break."
Ginny looked out at the garden, all lit up as the last rays of the sun brushed the hedges and trees with yellow light. Suddenly, with Harry holding her hand, the quiet it offered looked much more inviting.
Harry squeezed her fingers. "Just for an hour."
"Just remember to breathe," Hermione advised. "That's the hardest part. Just half an hour, and you'll be all done. You'll be married." She smiled widely as Fleur bustled past, carrying Victoire in her arms and dragging Teddy by the hand.
"Married," repeated Ginny, feeling breathless. She clutched her seashell-bedecked bouquet and took a deep breath of the salty ocean air. A little ways down the beach from the porch of Shell Cottage stood the oversized canopy where Harry and about a hundred wedding guests were waiting for her.
"'Ere zey are, 'Ermione, and 'ere are ze rings," said Fleur was saying, setting Victoire and Teddy side by side in their garb for the wedding. "Now, you both be'ave yourselves. Good." She kissed the tops of both of their heads and straightened up. "You look beautiful," she said kindly to Hermione, smoothing the shoulders of her powder blue dress. Then she approached Ginny, who suddenly felt fifteen years old again as Fleur sized her up with a scrutinizing gaze.
"Perfect," she said softly, after almost a full minute. "You are perfect."
Ginny smiled and hugged her.
"We shouldn't keep 'Arry waiting much longer," Fleur murmured, pulling back as she brushed a tear from her eye and drew a section of Ginny's long red hair over the white lace that covered her shoulder. "Enjoy zis moment, petite."
Somewhere far away, inside the canopy, the music started, and time suddenly took on the strangest, floating quality. Ginny felt as though her feet had left the floor. She hovered outside of herself for a moment, taking in the sunlight, the crashing waves, the enormous clouds…
And then, suddenly, Harry was before her, his face coming nearer and nearer, and Ginny beamed back at him, feeling, if only for this moment, like they had all the time in the world.