The Fall Out
Summary: Written for the prompt the seven deadly sins: wrath and envy. Ginny is forced to look at some memories that she thought she had suppressed.
She tightened her grip around her Firebolt 360 broomstick's handle, as she threw it in between her legs and kicked off the ground, the adrenaline pumping through her body. She had been waiting for this moment for months, ever since she had signed her contract.
Wind gusts blew in her face as she sped above the pitch. The free strands that had escaped the knot of bright red hair fluttered wildly across her face. Her green and scarlet robes billowed as she reached the centre of the pitch, fifty feet in the air. She felt at home in the centre of the Quidditch pitch, and her nerves slowly starting to ease.
She suddenly became aware of the large crowd. On the ground, she had hardly paid any attention to the screaming fans. Cheers were rising from the crowd as they followed the commentator's introductions as he tried to gee up the Caerphilly Catapults supporters.
"Making her professional debut for the Catapults today, heroine from the war and the leading scorer and captain of last year's Hogwarts' Gryffindor team, please raise your voices and put your hands together for Ginny Weasley."
Her heart leaped with the calling of her name.
It was the first time she had heard it as its own identity. Today, she was not just the Weasley girl or Harry Potter's girlfriend but Ginny Weasley, professional Quidditch player. As much as she loved being those mentioned things, there was something very special about being recognised in her own right and getting so much support from so many people due to her ability and not to her association.
There were few moments that had topped this before in her life. Putting the blissful experiences with Harry and wartime successes aside, this was right up near the top. She'd made it. There was something unbelievably exhilarating about hearing sixty thousand people chanting your name, believing that every move could improve their lives and light up their smiles; knowing any goals scored meant everything, even if it was just for a few hours before they returned to their mundane lives.
Her body started to shake as nerves took over. She tightened her grip on her broomstick as she bobbed up and down in the air, letting out a couple of slow, deep breaths. She had no reason to be nervous after everything she had faced in her life. It was only a Quidditch match. She let out a small scoff at her reasoning, She had been very young when she had first heard the words: 'Quidditch is not a matter of life and death, it is much more important than that,.' and in her opinion, there had never been a truer word spoken.
"WEASLEY!" Agnus MacLean, the Scotland and Catapults' captain and chaser broke through her thoughts as he yelled at her. "Formation!"
A sense of exhilaration filled her body as she heard the referee's shrill whistle and watched as he threw the bright red Quaffle into the air to start the game. Her nerves didn't have time to settle down again as within seconds, she found the Quaffle in her hands. Instead she felt relieved as she gained possession of the ball. She had been playing Quidditch for most of her life; she knew instinctively what to do. A quick one-two with Emily Lunt found herself closing in on the goal. Feinting, she shot in the opposite direction of the Falmouth Falcons keeper.
The crowd erupted in cheers as the Quaffle hit the rim of the centre goalpost and fell through. Her first professional goal. She absorbed the buzz of energy that was coming from the crowd as she looked briefly into the stands. People clad in green and scarlet were dancing and hugging, sure that they had just unearthed a potential young star.
Her eyes narrowed on her family, their movements stopping. The crowd noise had come to a sudden hush as she felt a thud on the back of her head. She blinked, and she felt her grip loosen on her broomstick, her body slipping. Images started to blur, green and scarlet blending into each other in a swirl of colours, before everything went black.
"Mum, Mum, MUM," Ginny Potter looked up from her newspaper and memories of her short-lived Quidditch career to see her eighteen year old daughter approach the table. "Have you thought about it?"
Resting the newspaper on top of a letter from Hogwarts, she studied her daughter's face. With five children and three of them still at Hogwarts, there was rarely a week when they did not received a letter from Professor McGonagall regarding at least one of their children's acts of misbehaviour. The girl who had precipitated most of those letters from school was standing in front of her. The other four may have inherited their father's black hair, but Alexandra Potter was the spitting image of her mother from her vibrant red hair, freckles, and bright brown eyes to her petite figure and her quick temper.
As Harry often said, if the other children got into trouble, he would accept responsibility, but there was no doubt that Alex Potter was her mother's daughter.
Alex stood in front of her, her bright red hair in a loose ponytail and her brown eyes blazing as she gripped a broom in her hand. Dressed in a Chudley Cannons t-shirt and a pair of Muggle football shorts, she had clearly stopped to question her mother before she left for her daily Quidditch practice in the field behind the Potter family home where a miniature pitch had been built over twenty years ago.
"Mum, Pride of Portree?"
There was no doubting for a second her daughter's desire to reach her goal and become a Chaser for one of Britain's professional Quidditch teams.
Ginny nodded with a slight hesitation as she took in her daughter's words. She had done nothing but think about the offer that her little girl had received from Pride of Portree the day after she had finished her NEWTs. Alex had inherited several Quidditch abilities from her family and with her hard work, she had excelled as a Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. For the six years she played, she broke all of the house records for most goals scored in both a game and a season.
The other Potter kids had shown adequate talent on the field, but even the most unbiased observer could not deny that there was something very special about her oldest daughter's talents on a broomstick. Now the feisty teenager was determined to follow both her parents' footsteps in becoming a professional Quidditch player. With a contract from Pride of Portree already offered, The Wizarding press had little doubt that it would only be a matter of time until she took flight in the British National League.
Yet there was a great deal of doubt in the Potter household concerning Alex Potter's future as a professional Quidditch star. Even if her daughter called her selfish and jealous, she was not sure that she could witness even the possibility of her daughter's life in danger.
"We need some more time to think about it."
"What do you need to think about?" Alex said in a tone which suggested that she was clearly struggling to control her temper. Alex's hand twitched towards her pocket that contained her wand, before she appeared to think better of her actions. "I've been offered a contract, and I know that you and dad both think I'm good enough to play for a team."
"It's not about whether you're good enough or not," Ginny explained to her daughter in the calmest voice she could muster, taking a long, deep breath to retain her composure. "There is a world of difference between Quidditch at Hogwarts and in the National League. Professional Quidditch is a very dangerous sport."
"You never let danger or violence stop you or Dad. You both not only played professional Quidditch but fought in the war too." Alex's hands found their way to her hips and two sets of brown eyes interlocked as she glared at her mother. "And you let Aiden train as an Auror, which is not exactly a safe career either. Its not fair if you don't give me a chance to achieve my dreams."
Ginny took another long, deep breath. Both she and Harry had always encouraged all five of their children to follow their dreams. To deliberately block her daughter from following her dreams felt far from right. They had fought for so long against people who had tried to oppress other's rights; yet now, she was the one who was trying to stop her daughter from doing something she had always wanted. It felt wrong.
Things had been so much easier last year when Alex had been offered a professional contract at the tender age of seventeen. It had been simple enough to deter her from thinking about a Quidditch career and instead, encourage her to focus on her NEWTs. Perhaps that had been Ginny's mistake; maybe she had hoped too much that Alex would change her mind in that year and choose to pursue another career. However, it had not worked. She had finished school hungrier and more ambitious than ever to be a Quidditch player. Now, with all her NEWTs achieved, Ginny had no sufficient reason to stop her daughter from following her dreams except her irrational fears.
Slowly she got to her feet, "We'll talk about it when your dad gets back from Uncle Ron's."
"What's there to talk about?" Alex's voice was rising and her temper finally snapped. "There's no good reason for you to oppose the path to my dreams. I met all the requirements you placed on me. I turned my back on a career last year so that I could complete my NEWTs but that was only meant to be a fallback just in case nothing else worked out. It can't be a fallback now, if I end up running away from my dreams," she said, pausing briefly before continuing.
"It's not my fault that you're still angry at that Falmouth Falcons Beater who ended your career. And it's definitely not my fault that you're jealous that I have the chance to make something out of my career like Dad did; the same career that was snatched away from you," Alex said spitefully as she tightened her grip on her broom. "I'm signing the contract with or without your support. Besides, it's not like Dad's going to say "No", so I'll just go and speak to him if anything arises."
Alex strode over, turned her hand back at her mother, hair flicking against her face and spat her final words of defiance. "And since I'm 'of age', you don't actually have much of a say in what I do."
Ginny gripped the back of the chair that she had been sitting on earlier in shock. She had watched her two daughters returning all types of retorts in arguments, but never once had she heard her daughter use that spiteful tone with her, even though she was sure that Alex had not meant those words.
She blinked before she looked at her daughter's retreating back as she headed for the door, her hair dancing behind her. As the kitchen door slammed, Ginny felt her heart flutter.
Ginny's eyes slowly fluttered open as she felt a throbbing pain pound her head. Pain was coursing through her entire body, particularly on her right side from head to toe. She reached for the back of her head and carefully ran her fingers through her hair, trying to find any signs of blood. Unable to find any signs of injury, she looked around the room.
She took a long deep breath, trying to ease the pounding in her skull while attempting to focus on what was going on around her. Her vision was slightly blurred but she could make out the white uniforms of the three mediwizards in front of her, who watched over her with increasingly worried looks on their faces. She closed her eyes and tried to remember what she had been doing, but the throbbing pain in her head only seemed to increase.
"Miss Weasley?" She heard the one of the mediwizard's voice. "Miss Weasley?"
"Yes," Ginny said groggily, opening her eyes again.
"How are you feeling?"
She held onto the bed to stop more dizzy spells from taking over her senses, speaking slowly as she tired to come to terms with her surroundings. "Like someone is slamming a sledge hammer into my head."
"Well, that will happen if you get a Bludger to the head, causing you to fall from 50 feet."
Her pain increased as she gained a better awareness of what had happened and where she was. In her dazed, half conscious state, she had barely been aware of the extreme nature of the pain her body was experiencing. But now, the mere thought caused her eyes to water and a desperate need for the pain in every bone in her body to stop at whatever the cost. Things would be much easier if she could just black out again.
When she had broken her leg at the Department of Mysteries, in the disastrous trip just before her fifteenth birthday, she had thought the pain she had felt would never be surpassed. The pain had been so bad; she had lain on the floor, panting while attempting to stop the tears from streaming down her face. She couldn't focus on anything and everything slowly blurred before her eyes as she briefly blacked out. Right now, she would give anything to be on that floor, even with all the other events that had happened that night.
The agony in her head grew as she suddenly became aware of where she was and what must have caused her to be in a bed in the mediwizard's room under the stands at the Caerphilly Catapults ground. Why was it that when all she wanted to do was fade away into a pool of darkness, thoughts were filling every part of her mind instead. Letting out a couple of ragged breaths, she let herself think about the images sprouting up in her mind. Maybe if she thought about them for a little while, she would be able to dismiss them from her mind and black out with the agony or failing that, maybe just the general pain would ease a little.
It had been her debut game for the Catapults. She had been celebrating her first professional league goal when everything had blurred in front of her eyes before her world had gone black.
How had a Bludger hit her?
Beaters weren't allowed to hit Bludgers at players when the Quaffle was not in play.
She shook her head, trying to stop herself from thinking and the increased pain that it was causing. However, that only seemed to make matters worse. As her head settled, the dazed feeling she was experiencing earlier returned as her vision began to blur and the hammering against her brain started once again. Some part of her knew as long as she was left with a unfulfilled desire to work out exactly what had happened before she had fallen off her broomstick, the torture inflicted on her body had no chance of easing. She had to know why she was lying here.
Deciding to accept the pain of thinking, she took a large gulp, willing the pain to settle deep in her stomach instead of her mind, so that she could isolate those feelings. Wiping her eyes, she turned to the mediwizard who seemed to be in charge. Her mind would not settle until she understood what had happened.
"What does all that mean?" She asked, unable to hide the trembling in her voice.
Mediwizards were professionals. They saw Quidditch injuries everyday of the week and they rarely got worried. One thing she had learnt in life was what fear looked like in someone's eyes, even if they were trying to hide it and there was no doubting that the mediwizards' eyes were just as worried as hers.
"You have had a severe concussion. It's taken twenty minutes just to wake you." The mediwizard said in a professional tone that made him appear more than a little bit detached. "The fall caused a few broken ribs and critical damage to your right knee. We are arranging to have a Portkey transport you to St Mungo's as we speak."
Ginny lifted the covers that had been placed on her to keep her warm from the cold December air and glanced down at her leg. Her stomach churned as she felt a wave of nausea overcome her. She quickly turned her head away, her eyes watering with tears as she took several quick, shallow breaths, unable to look at the bone that had pieced her skin. Her stomach turned again as she wretched and emptied the entire content of her stomach onto the floor.
"Ginny," Harry's voice came from the other side of the room as she forced herself to look up. She felt her pain start to ease slightly as she focused on him. Her quick breaths were replaced with slower ones. Giving her something to concentrate on eased some of her pain as Harry provided her a focus. Quickly gathering her hand, Harry gave it a tight squeeze. "It's all going to be okay," he said calmly.
"No," she shook her head and felt pain shoot through the back of her head, which had started to pound again, "No, it's not."
At the moment, things were far away from being okay, and they would not be okay until things had settled down again.
Ginny got to her feet. She wanted to be alone. She didn't want to think about her accident. Without a doubt, it had been the most painful moment of her life, both physically and emotionally and for the last eighteen months since the day the contract had flown into their lives, she had been able to think of nothing except the fact that history was repeating itself. Instead, this time it would be her daughter who fell through the air and she didn't want anyone to suffer what she had been through, least of all her little girl.
After suffering the very lows of a Quidditch career, Ginny was positive that she didn't want her daughter to be subjected to the same. Although at the time she had been angry at her short-lived career, she had been told repeatedly that she had been lucky to escape with her life, even if it had not felt like that in the months after the fall.
It had felt like her whole life had fallen apart that year. She closed herself off and refused to speak to anyone, holding on to a bitter resentment of her friends and family. They had walked on egg shells around her, refusing to let her do anything for herself. Every second, she was reminded of what she had lost and the invalid that she had become. She hated feeling useless and with the constant reminders, her angry tirade against anyone and everyone had become more and more frequent. Deeply rooted within her frustrations, she had spat catty remarks to anyone who questioned her and blew up and hexed too many things to count.
Her relationship with Harry had almost fallen apart had it not been for his patience. He was a saint, putting up with all her moods. There had been days where all she had wanted to do was hex anything that moved. One thing had remained consistent throughout her rehabilitation: Harry never left her side.
She didn't want anyone else to go through that.
Slowly she weaved her way through the house and went up to the bedroom she and Harry shared. She crossed the room and stood before a large oak wardrobe. Standing on her tiptoes, she pulled down a large cardboard box and placed it on her bed.
Laying her right leg out, she crossed her left leg underneath it as she slowly lifted the lid of the box. It had been years before she had been able to look at this. She had originally wanted to bin it all until Harry had created this box without her knowledge.
Ginny pulled out a vertically striped green and scarlet Quidditch top with a black number 4 and 'WEASLEY' printed on the back. Softly she laid it on their bed and placed her hand back in the box. Tears fell down her face as she lifted out an old Daily Prophet article entitled 'Warnock escapes with a one game ban.'
She scanned through the article and the old memories came flooding back, the feeling of frustration and boiling anger raging through her body.
Ginny stared around the room. She was lying in a white bed with her leg elevated above her head. She had spent three days taking potions as Healers performed various spells on her knee. However, the Healers still said it would be another seven days before she was even allowed out of bed and several more months before she could walk without support, let alone run. With the lack of mobility in her damaged knee, it would make holding onto her broomstick with her hands free at a professional level impossible. At the highest levels, a player needed to react in a split second and the slight delay in fixing her knee while they had focused on her head injuries had caused permanent damage to her leg and resulted in just those few moments of hesitation in her movement.
She spent her time reflecting on the variety of get well soon cards she had received and the large assortment of flowers that had filled her private suite.
Scowling and unable to look at the forced cheeriness by the dozen or so vases of flowers which lined the room, and the thousands of cards that seemed to have come from every family in the Wizarding world, she grabbed the morning's paper. She flipped over the front of the paper to the back page. After confirming from the manager of the Catapults as well as several of the St Mungo's Healers that her career was probably over, she wanted to see justice done against the Falcons' Beater.
Anger filled her insides as she scanned the article; Colin Warnock had only been given a one match ban for ending her career. Crunching up the paper in her fists, she aimed it at the bin in the corner. It glided through the air and landed just short of it.
Reaching for her wand on the side table, she focused her pent up anger on a set of tulips and took aim. A jolt of red light shot out of her wand and hit a vase in the centre. She watched as the vase shattered into tiny pieces as she heard a knock on the door.
At least her aim with her wand hadn't suffered, even if her throw was as pathetic as her right leg.
"Ginny?" Harry said as he pushed the door open. "Are you okay?" He made his way over to her. "What happened?"
She stared at the broken vase, unable to look at her boyfriend. "The coach and the Healers agree that my career is pretty much over. They came in to tell me around an hour ago." She aimed her wand at another vase. "It hadn't even started and it's now over." Tears started to flow in frustration. "And it's just a joke to that Falcons player! He got me out the game and that's all he wanted. I mean he got a one match ban for Merlin's sake." A shot of red blasted from her wand again. "And why do people keep insisting on bringing me these bloody flowers. As if they make any difference to my leg!"
"Ginny," he said, watching her movements warily, "life has been cruel to you. I know it and so do a lot of people, but its not going to be the end all of things."
Her heart was pounding hard against her chest. It was taking all of her self- control to stop her anger from bubbling over and unleashing her temper on her boyfriend. "What else do I know but Quidditch and fighting? The war's over and so is my career." Her eyes welled with tears as she dropped her wand. "And how can I even talk about this with England's rising star. I want revenge. I want to play. I want him to suffer."
She felt Harry's strong arms wrap round her. She let her head fall on his shoulder and let her tears fall, "Its not fair, Harry."
He tipped her chin up and looked deep into her tear stained eyes. Using his free hand, he moved the vibrant red hair out her eyes. "Whatever happens, I'm going to be there for you, no matter what."
"Ginny," Harry's soft voice called out.
She looked up from the article and stared straight at him. Brown eyes met green ones, and without saying a word, they seemed to understand each others thoughts. Looking into each other's eyes, they were able to share all their hopes and fears. They knew each other inside out as if they were almost two sides of the same coin. It was almost as if they had some type of psychic ability that provided a link between their minds. They had been able to interact without words since her fifth year at Hogwarts. Sometimes silence could say more than a million words.
"Ginny," Harry said as he slowly made his way over to her.
Harry stood at the edge of the bed. He carefully picked up newspaper articles that had been scattered over the bed. He offered his hand to her, giving the articles back to her.
"What if it happens to her? What if my beautiful little girl has all her dreams crushed? What if her career ends like mine did?" she said as she looked at her husband. "I'm so selfish, Harry," she whispered, looking down at her fingers. "There are parts of me which are still angry and resentful about that day. There are still parts of me which envy you: the career you had, the life you had as a Quidditch player. You were successful at so many things. You became so much more than a war hero or the man who defeated Voldemort while I stayed just "Harry Potter's wife.""
"You were never just my wife," he told her earnestly, "You are remarkable in your own right."
"Maybe, maybe not," she said with a slight shrug, "but one fall changed my life. It changed how people saw me, how I saw myself. I just can't help feeling that history will be repeated."
He reached out for her hand. "What if she doesn't fall?"
She pulled her hand away and shrugged a little. "What if she did?"
"We'd be there for her, she'd have our support."
Ginny let out a deep sigh. Harry had never understood everything that she had been through in the last twenty five years. She let both hands fall through her hair. It was about time she stopped keeping Harry away from all her feelings.
"You don't get what it's like. Do you know how hard it has been to sit on the sidelines all this time?"
She got up and headed for the window, watching Alex swooping around the goals in the paddock. "As much as I love my life, I've always felt like there's something missing. I can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy every time I watch a match. I wish…I wish that it was me who was up there. If only it hadn't been for that Beater. I've spent the last twenty-five years with What-Ifs running through my mind.
"How can you commentate on the Quidditch World Cup final or write articles for Quidditch Weekly without wishing you were still involved?" Turning round, she looked straight at Harry. "I know you miss playing but you had a career for fifteen years, not fifteen minutes. Do you seriously think I want others, especially my little girl, to have bitterness reside within her for the rest of her life? "
Silence filled the room for a couple of minutes, as they both appeared to be mulling over the discussion. She felt relieved at having had the opportunity to finally speak about her fears. Her worries had started to ease a little, instead of bouncing around her mind, increasing her fears and adding to her insecurities.
"But if we stop her from doing what she wants, won't she feel the same bitterness towards us?" Harry said taking her hand.
"Imagine if it was your mum stopping you from playing. We fought a war, Ginny, so that people could live their lives however they wanted, without fear of persecution. We raised our children telling them they could do anything they wanted; that they should live their dreams like we have."
A small, reluctant smile formed on her lips. She could just imagine the argument that would have taken place in the kitchen at The Burrow. To say that angry comments and acts of defiance would have been exchanged was the understatement of the century.
Harry noticed her smile and returned it as he gave her hand a small squeeze.
"They're not babies; we can't wrap them up in cotton wool anymore. We have to trust that we have done a good job as parents and let them live their lives, knowing that we will be there for them if they ever need us. Whether she has the type of career you did, the one I did, or something in between, it doesn't matter as long as she knows that we support her."
Ginny let out a soft sigh. Harry was right, and she knew it. If only she had ignored all her bitter anger and resentment, her sense of jealously and her fears would probably have come to that conclusion a lot sooner. It may not be easy to let go of a twenty five year old grudge, but if she was going to move on, that had to happen now.
There was no reasoning in life. No reason why some things happened and others didn't. No reason why the likes of Neville had lost all his family in war and all hers had escaped uninjured. No reason why when Harry fell from his broom in his third year at school, he had been okay but her fall had been almost fatal, but then she hadn't had Dumbledore in the crowd for her.
Life was full of Ifs and Buts. Stories were always filled with What-Ifs and Could- Have-Beens but it was important not to dwell upon them for too long, lest those feelings manifest themselves into bitter resentment--just as she had done.
Harry was studying her face; he waited patiently as he let her have time to think. However, when their eyes met, he offered her a gentle smile. "What are you thinking?" he asked softly.
"I'm thinking….," she paused briefly to glance over to the window before returning her gaze to Harry. "I'm thinking that I guess I better get used to the fact that my daughter is going to become a professional Quidditch player." She let her lips form a small smile. "And when she faces the Falcons, she better give them a right royal hammering."