Author's Note: The idea for this story came to me in the middle of an extremely busy workday when I read an interview from JKR finally revealing Ginny's career as a professional Qudditch player. Though she has played both Chaser and Seeker in the books, I kept her as a Seeker for this story simply because it wouldn't work any other way.
Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" does not belong to me, but belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while. This story is set post-DH and contains spoilers.
Additional note (1/2013): This story was originally written the week after Deathly Hallows came out, nearly six years ago. Therefore, it does not comply with the additional post-Deathly Hallows interviews that revealed that Ginny was a chaser professionally. It is not a mistake, it was done intentionally with the information provided at the time.
I open at the close.
Breathing fast and hard, he stared down at it. Now that he wanted time to move as slowly as possible, it seemed to have sped up, and understanding was coming so fast it seemed to have bypassed thought. This was the close. This was the moment.
He pressed the golden metal to his lips and whispered, "I am about to die."
- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," page 698 (American edition)
Harry Potter was going to die.
He was quite sure he was going to keel over at that very moment, in that very spot in the family box of England's Quidditch team surrounded by at least a dozen red-haired, freckled Weasleys and their offspring. He could already see the obituary: Harry James Potter, aka the Boy Who Lived and The Chosen One, who'd already died once and had taken down Voldemort with a disarming spell, died at 1:37 p.m. of unknown reasons that may or may not be related to his relationship with Ginevra Weasley, star seeker for the Holyhead Harpies and England's Seeker for this year's Quidditch World Cup.
He was shaken out of his thoughts by a beefy arm slung around his shoulders and the sickly smell of butterbeer coming from his best mate. "Cheer up, mate," Ron shouted and waved his half-empty bottle at the pitch. Harry was quite sure it was his sixth, perhaps his seventh, but he'd lost count. "We can't lose! Gin's the best we've got and we're ahead 240-200. Soon as she spots the Snitch, we've got it made! France just can't score anymore points. Why you look so worried?"
"No reason," Harry managed, alarmed when his voice came out an entire octave higher than normal.
There was really no reason to worry about the Quidditch World Cup. It was the first team England had managed to get into the running for the cup since the summer prior to his fourth year. The last World Cup had been in the summer of 1998, but thanks to the war against Voldemort, England failed to even pull together a team to qualify. Excitement was at a fever pitch, and the star of England's team was clearly its Seeker - the Seeker from the Holyhead Harpies, girlfriend to the Chosen One, Ginny Weasley.
But if England didn't win the cup, Harry knew his problems would be much, much worse than a downtrodden team.
Ron eyed him for a moment, then leaned in close. "Say, you placed a wager on the game, haven't you? Come on, you can tell me! I was tempted to toss a few galleons on the game as well, but..."
Beside him, Hermione snapped her book on the laws governing magical creatures in China close. "Honestly, Ron, you know the rules," she scolded him. "If a family member of a team player is caught engaging in gambling during any sanctioned Quidditch game, the team is disqualified. This goes for established non-married partners like a long-term boyfriend. I'm quite sure Harry wouldn't do anything to endanger Ginny's career." She leaned forward, her brown eyes drilling into Harry. "Am I not right, Harry?"
"You are right, Hermione," he faintly said and she sat back, satisfied.
"Oh now look, Hermione, what's a friendly wager between friends if it's not officially on any ledgers?"
Hermione gave Ron a very dangerous look that he either chose to ignore or was too caught up in the game to care. "Have you been betting on your sister's games?" she said icily.
"I... Aw, geez, Hermione, what do you take me for?"
Harry tuned out his friends' argument as he placed the Omnioculars to his glasses and studied Ginny and the blond-haired French Seeker who'd been trying to flirt with her for the past two hours. His hand ached to go for his wand, to shoot one well-aimed hex at the leering cad. No one would ever be able to trace it back to him. He had all five living Weasley brothers in his corner for that one and what was quite wherever he was that Fred would add in his two knuts. All of them would take the credit.
He zoomed in closer, just in time to make out the Seeker say something to Ginny that was particularly suggestive. Harry's wand was in his hand before he realized it, and from the growl that came from five seats away, he was quite sure that Bill had heard it as well. Before either could make a move, Ginny had flown right up into the Seeker's face. No sound was needed to make out the biting words she was yelling at him. With a snarl, she spun around on her broom and shot across the pitch, leaving the Seeker looking as if he'd been smacked with a Bludger.
Harry lowered his wand. "Say, Gin's never casted a Bat-Bogey Hex non-verbally, has she?" he asked George, who was sitting on his right side.
Ron paled when he heard the question. "Merlin, Harry, don't give her any ideas!"
"Ron, we haven't finished our discussion!"
"Come on, Hermione, what's a harmless wager among family and close friends?" George sauntered over to Hermione. He draped his arm over her shoulder and she glowered at him. "After all, Lee Jordan and I have a bet about Ginny and Harry. If we win, Gin Gin jumps him. If we lose, Potter will gift her with pity sex to comfort her."
"You made a bet about our sex life?" Harry yelled as loud as he could while still trying to whisper. He tossed a nervous glance over his shoulder at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, praying that they had suddenly developed a drastic loss of hearing.
"I'm not hearing this! I'm not hearing this!" Ron clasped his hands to his ears and shook his head. "My best mate is not sleeping with my sister!"
Harry, Hermione and George all leveled disbelieving stares at Ron. "Tell me, Ronald, you aren't stupid enough to believe that your sister is still a virgin at 21 after being in a monogamous relationship for the past four - technically five - years," Hermione said.
"Bad mental imagery! Bad mental imagery!" Ron squeezed his eyes shut. "See, if Harry's had sex with Ginny, I'll have to kill him. I don't want to kill my best mate. I've seen him naked, you know. I know what it would be like! I don't want to see any of his bits interacting with my sister!"
"Ron!" Harry yelled. Any question of his sister's chastity had been firmly erased three and a half years earlier, when Ginny had locked the two of them in the attic at the Burrow and proceeded to give Harry the most wonderful Christmas of his life - not that Ron needed to know that in any way, shape or form.
"Oh, do tell, brother mine," George leaned in closer. "I'm sure Hermione, the couple dozen non-Weasleys in this box and the other fans within hearing range would love to know how endowed the Chosen One is. Would you like a Sonorus charm?"
"Oh, honestly," Hermione said exasperatedly while Harry gaped at them, his jaw somewhere around his knees, his dignity flung somewhere in the English Channel. She snatched up Ron's Quidditch magazine and rolled it into a tube. "Ron, do grow up and start being reasonable. George, don't egg Ron on about Harry and Ginny. I swear, I was just getting rid of his caveman tactics regarding those two."
"They can do it!" Ron yelled at her. "I just don't care to know about it!"
"Know about what dear?"
All four of them coloured at Mrs. Weasley's innocent question. "Nothing, Mum," Ron called out.
"Maybe if you don't care for that imagery, perhaps you can try this." George leaned close to Ron's ear and whispered a particularly inventive suggestion involving Hermione that caused Harry's already crimson face to go an even deeper shade of red and for Hermione to start smacking George's ribs with the magazine.
"Would you stop it?" she hissed as Ron's eyes glazed over and drool appeared at the corner of his lips.
"Got him off the subject of the Chosen One and the Sweet Seeker," George pointed out, using Ginny's nickname she'd acquired while doing charity work for the Holyhead Harpies.
"It's about time you found a girlfriend, George Weasley, and stop meddling in our...," Hermione started to say, but was instantly drowned out by Lee Jordan's hyper-enthusiastic voice from the press box.
"She's spotted the Snitch! She's spotted the Snitch! Ginny Weasley is going after the Snitch!"
Pandemonium ensued. Harry was nearly pushed over the side of the box as everyone rushed from their seats to get a good look at the Quidditch pitch. Ginny was zooming across the pitch toward the stands behind the French goals. Harry squinted, then pushed his Omnioculars up to his eyes. He could barely see the Snitch, fluttering madly as if sensing the witch who was coming for it.
Then he spotted flirty French Seeker speeding toward Ginny.
"No!" The word burst out of Harry's mouth before he could check himself. He grabbed hold of the edge of the box and leaned out as far as he could. "You've got to get the Snitch, Ginny! You've got to get the Snitch!"
"Harry!" Hermione risked placing a hand on his shoulder. "It's just a game. If we don't win, everything will be all right."
"No, you don't understand," Harry said, panicking as the French Seeker made a grab for the Snitch only to miss by an inch. He shoved the Omnioculars into Hermione's hands, knowing he was shaking so badly at that point that he would drop them into the wildly cheering crowd below. "She's got to get the Snitch. She's got to be the only person to touch the Snitch."
Hermione stared at him for a moment, shocked. Then a knowing glint appeared in her eyes, one that she got when she figured something out. She leaned close to Harry's ear. "Harry Potter, what did you do to that Snitch?"
He didn't answer her. His eyes tracked Ginny and the French Seeker as they moved across the pitch, dodging Bludgers and coming within inches of England's speeding Chasers.
"Shut up, Hermione!" Harry yelled, amazed he could hear his own voice over the roar of the crowd and the impressively loud beating of his heart.
What he had done was to utilize his influence as the Chosen One to persuade the World Cup officials to allow Harry to place an object inside the official Snitch to be used for the World Cup. The Snitch was charmed not to open until a human hand touched it. When it did, it would open to reveal the contents inside - contents that Harry fervently hoped would wind up in Ginny's hand and not the other Seeker's. He had a fifty-fifty chance of getting it into the right hands. His money was on Ginny.
"And that wonderful Weasley has dived toward the ground! Is she? Yes, it looks like she's pulling off a Wronski Feint, people! Those of you lucky to see her boyfriend play at Hogwarts knows he can pull this one off, and so can she! The ground's getting closer people! Twenty feet! Ten feet! Five..."
For a moment, Harry's worries suddenly switched from the right Seeker getting the Snitch to the fear that Ginny was going to slam into the ground. With just inches to spare, she yanked up hard on the broom handle, reversing her direction. The bottom of her ponytail brushed the dirt as she zoomed past the crashing French Seeker into the sky. Harry found it hard to work up any sympathy for the man when he careened into the ground. His focus immediately switched back to Ginny as she reached out and neatly plucked the Snitch out of the air.
The already loud cheers immediately escalated into an enormous roar. Around Harry, the Weasleys began screaming and crying, grabbing onto each other and yelling until their voices were hoarse.
"Weasley is our Queen! Weasley is our Queen!" George and Ron sang at the top of their voices. "She never lets the Snitch escape! Weasley is our Queen!"
Hermione had tears running down her face as she clapped as hard as she could, yelling out Ginny's name along with the rest of the crowd.
Harry remained silent, his eyes still on Ginny - or rather the Snitch in Ginny's hand.
Ginny pumped both her fists in the air and immediately spun her broom around until she faced the family box. Her eyes locked on Harry's and the excitement and joy radiating from her caused him to grin giddily and for the nerves in his stomach to ease somewhat. Ignoring her team, she started for the box when she suddenly stared down at her hand.
"What is it, Arthur?" Mrs. Weasley asked, grabbing her husband's arm as he adjusted his Omnioculars. "Is she hurt? I knew she was going to get injured, pulling a crazy stunt like that."
Hermione shoved on the Omnioculars that Harry had abandoned, zooming in on Ginny in time to see the Snitch crack open and something sparkly fall out of the ball into Ginny's hand. Hermione yelped and yanked off the Omnioculars, staring at Harry incrediously. "Is that...?"
A few seats down, Mr. Weasley set down his own pair of Omnioculars and patted his wife's hand. "I have a feeling our baby's going to be just fine."
Ginny's excited scream echoed across the pitch.
Lee laughed in the press box. "It seems that the moment of victory has finally hit Weasley! She's zooming across the pitch...but wait, she's not heading for her team. She's going to the family box! A celebratory kiss from her boyfriend, perhaps? Be sure to catch tomorrow's Prophet for those hot pictures!"
Ginny jerked her broom to a stop inches from her family, her eyes solely focused on Harry. Trembling, she held up the item that had fallen out of the Snitch - a diamond solitaire that she had glimpsed only once before when she and Harry had explored the Potter family heirlooms in the vault Harry inherited from his parents. "Is this what I think it is?" she asked Harry shakily, ignoring the well-wishes and questions being rained on her.
Emotion overwhelming him, Harry could only nod. He wanted to drag Ginny into his arms, snog her senseless, then smack himself over the head repeatedly with the rolled-up Quidditch magazine for not doing this in another manner.
She flashed a grin at him. "Well? Aren't you going to ask me properly?"
Harry's eyes widened with shock, his command of the English language suddenly and completely failing him. For the first time, he was suddenly very aware of the extremely public setting they were in, of the dozens of people who'd caught a glimpse at the ring, knowing it for what it was, and waiting for him to make the next move.
He gripped the side of the box, hands shaking violently, and forced out the question he'd been burning to ask for years only to be cut off by Lee's announcement of a post-victory celebration behind the stadium, free butterbeer to all. Harry swore and took a deep breath.
"Honestly, Harry, she's never going to hear you at this rate," Hermione said and pointed her wand at Harry's throat. She cast the charm just as he began to speak.
"GINNY WEASLEY, WILL YOU MARRY ME?"
Harry's amplified voice, thanks to Hermione's perfectly timed Sonorus charm, echoed loudly across the Quidditch pitch. The thousands of cheering fans fell into a quivering silence as the last of the echo faded across the countryside.
Ron elbowed Harry's ribs. "You know, mate, you might want to repeat that. I don't think they heard you in Egypt."
"Ron," a mortified Hermione hissed and quickly cast a Finite on Harry's throat.
He wasn't paying attention to them, to George and Bill giving each other a high-five, or to Mrs. Weasley's muffled sobs of pleasure in the background. He didn't notice the pop of camera flashes, the scratching of Quick-Quotes Quills or the whispering that broke out among the fans. Instead, his focus was on the unusually quiet Seeker for England's National Team. His heart started to tumble toward his stomach and he began to panic. Maybe Ginny didn't want this. Maybe it was too soon. Too public. Maybe...
"Harry, are you listening?"
He startled at seeing a half-mischievous, half-irritated look in Ginny's eyes. "I swear, you better pay closer attention at our wedding," she teased, "because I just told you I would marry you." Then she launched herself at him.
It was a completely dangerous move, to leap from a broom several dozen feet off the ground and through the open window of the family box. But Ginny didn't quite care, because she knew that Harry would catch her. And he did. He caught her by the waist and spun her around, both laughing and crying a little as the world suddenly diminished from thousands of cheering fans to just the two of them. He kissed her deeply, forgetting about the fact that they were in public and that public displays of affection of this intimate nature made him somewhat uncomfortable.
The feel of her was simply amazing. Her small, glove-covered hands smoothed over his back and into his hair, rumpling the already untidy mess. One of his hands found the tie holding her hair back and started to work his fingers beneath it so he could tear it apart and feel her long, beautiful hair flow over his hands. The kiss grew more passionate and more desperate as he backed her against one of the box supports.
"Five galleons say clothes start coming off," Harry dimly heard George say.
They broke apart just as they heard the smack of the Quidditch magazine against George's head. Ginny peered over Harry's shoulder and burst into peals of delighted laughter. Flushed and deeply affected by their snogging, Harry turned around in time to see Mrs. Weasley whacking George with Ron's abandoned magazine.
"You will not ruin the moment your sister gets engaged by debauchery," she yelled at him. She whirled around, flung the magazine at Ron and enveloped Harry and Ginny in a bear hug. "My babies! Oh, my babies!" Then she burst into tears again.
The rest of the daze passed in a very happy fog until the exhausted, yet exhilarated couple finally made it to their shared hotel room to continue the snogging where they left off, enjoying a private celebration of their future life together that Ron flatly denied ever took place.
Harry knew that this was the best day of his life.
Several days later, Ginny Apparated to the flat Harry shared with Ron. Without acknowledging her fiancé or brother, she sailed into Harry's room and started rummaging through his trunk.
"See, mate," Ron said as they stood in the doorway watching her, "she's already going through your stuff and claiming it for herself."
"Ginny's been nicking my socks for years," Harry pointed out. "And my shirts. And my..."
"Stop!" Ron slapped a hand over his eyes. "Bad mental imagery! I don't want to have to kill you before the wedding. Ow!" He rubbed the eye where Ginny had lobbed a rolled up pair of socks at him.
"Found it!" Ginny pulled out an old cigar box and opened it. Inside lay a simple old Snitch that had been cracked open. With a smile, she placed the Snitch from the Qudditch game into the box and tucked into her robes. "I'm keeping this until we get our own home," she said and kissed Harry's cheek.
"Wasn't that the snitch Dumbledore gave you with the Resurrection Stone?" Ron asked Harry and he nodded. "Why'd you want that, Gin?"
Ginny grinned at them. "Well, Dumbledore gave Harry the Snitch when he was facing Voldemort, knowing he was going to die. It marked the end of things, and it really did. But this Snitch, the one with my ring? It marks the start of something new. So it's kind of fitting to have them together."
Neither Ron or Harry could argue with that.