Disclaimer: I do not own anything other than the story line . All rights belong to J.K. Rowling
Chapter Forty: Quidditch Cubed
As the last month went by at school, things settled into a rhythm for Harry. He went to class, not really taking in anything that was being said, but rather using the time for introspection. He really didn't care anymore if he passed his N.E.W.T.s or not. Much like Fred and George before him, he felt that they were really overrated anyway.
He was independently wealthy, so he didn't need to work, and he had seen more and done more than any other wizard currently alive. He had seen altogether too much death and chaos, and quite frankly, he was tired of it.
Thus was his class time spent. It concerned his friends greatly, but they had come to know Harry by now. Closing himself off and becoming introspective was how he dealt with things. The only one he would open up to was Ginny. She had become his world once again now that his task was done. Once classes were finished for the day, they would immediately seek each other out.
Sometimes they would spend time with their friends, for these four were Harry's closest friends besides Ginny. Ron and Hermione had always been there for him, and the bonds of their friendship were strong indeed. Neville and Luna had proven themselves as fast friends time and again over the last two years, and Harry counted himself very fortunate that they had been included in his life.
At other times Harry and Ginny would go for long walks by the lake, or simply spend time in their room, talking until the wee hours of the morning. Often times they would simply be there to comfort each other when the horrors of the war became too much for either of them to handle alone. Through it all, Harry got to enjoy his favorite pastime: waking up in Ginny's arms and watching her sleep, for he always woke before she did.
Thus, the final month passed by quickly for Harry and the others, and, just before the N.E.W.T.s came up, Ginny and Luna were summoned into Professor McGonagall's office.
When they came out, they were both grinning, though Luna characteristically did so with such a dreamy expression, that it may not have been for the same reason as Ginny.
"What's going on Gin?" Harry asked, unwilling to probe for the answer himself.
"Professor McGonagall has just given Luna and I permission to test with the seventh years." Ginny said excitedly.
"You're taking your N.E.W.T.s a year early?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Yeah, neither one of us could bear taking our final year without the rest of you around, so we petitioned McGonagall to allow us to go a year early. She reviewed our histories, and approved it this morning. So we'll be sitting the exams with the rest of you."
"So that means…"
"I'll be free to be with you, if you'll have me that is," Ginny replied with a nervous smile.
He picked her up and spun her around, giving her the first really unforced smile he had had since the war ended. He pulled her down into a passionate kiss, ending it only when a slight cough interrupted them. They separated to see Professor McGonagall standing there with her hands placed upon her hips.
"Mr. Potter, may I see you in private please?" she said sternly.
"Of course, Professor," he answered, "wait for me?" he asked Ginny.
"Sure, silly," said Ginny, a large smile plastered on her face. Harry followed the Headmistress up the stairs to her office. After a few minutes he came back down, looking mildly amused.
"Well? What did she want?"
"Oh, she wanted to talk to me about the testing and stuff," he said a little stiffly. He could feel Ginny's delicate probe, but he blocked it with a mental shield of his own. "I'll tell you about it later, after I've had a while to contemplate what she said, okay?"
"Okay, Harry, whenever you're ready to talk about it, I'll be there," she said, conceding the point for now.
"Thanks, Gin," he said with another unforced smile. The look he gave her communicated such utter love and genuine affection that she couldn't possibly stay mad at him.
They sat the exams the next week, and although his heart really wasn't in it, Harry felt that he probably had scraped by with a few N.E.W.T.s. From the looks on his friend's faces though, they had done very well. Both Ginny and Luna came out of it with extremely satisfied looks, and Hermione looked like the cat that had just caught that impossible to catch canary. Even Ron and Neville seemed happy to be through with the testing.
As they settled down to dinner after the last test, Harry sat there with an unreadable face. He seemed to be waiting for something. He was watching the staff table as they came out. As Professor McGonagall came out, she was accompanied to the table by Victor Krum and short, stocky wizard in a long hooded cloak. The mysterious wizard took a seat to one side of McGonagall, with Krum to her other side. McGonagall stood to address the Hall.
"As you know, another year at Hogwarts is almost over. It has been a year of both triumph and tragedy, with the fall of Voldemort, and the subsequent losses of friends and loved ones in the war. As we move forward with our lives and pick up the pieces that have fallen, we must remember to enjoy what we have. With that in mind, two of our number have agreed to sponsor a little bit of entertainment for tomorrow morning. Mr. Potter, would you please come up here and stand with us?"
Harry stood and made the long walk up to the staff table. He took a spot next to the mysterious wizard, and shook both his hand and Victor's. He nodded to the wizard, who pulled off his hood, revealing Charlie Weasley. They all took seats as McGonagall continued. An excited buzz filled the hall.
Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Professor Krum have consented to hold a special exhibition Quidditch match tomorrow. It will feature three teams, hand picked by each captain. Mr. Potter, would you announce your team?"
Harry stood up and approached the podium. "My team shall consist of the current house team with one exception. To free up my best mate Ron, our keeper duties will be performed by none other than Puddlemere United's new keeper, Oliver Wood." With that Oliver came striding out from the small room off the hall where the Tri-Wizard Champions had gone years earlier. He came out to immense applause around the hall, and sat down at the Gryffindor table, getting hi-fives and slaps on the back all around.
Professor McGonagall stood once again. "Mr. Weasley, would you please introduce your team?"
Charlie stepped up now. "Team Weasley will feature myself at seeker, with my brothers Ron, Fred, and George as the keeper and beaters. Our chasers will be Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, and Katie Bell." The returning players received every bit as loud and raucous an applause as Oliver had.
"Professor Krum? Your team please."
Victor Krum stepped up now. "My team will consist of myself as seeker, with Volkov and Vulcanov from the Bulgarian national team as my beaters, and Moran, Mullet, and Troy from the Irish national team as my chasers."
The applause was even louder as the national team players came out, spreading out among the other three house tables, greeting the students there.
Harry excused himself, and he and Charlie made there way down to the Gryffindor table. Harry sat down with Ginny and smiled at her. She was looking at him with a funny look, but she said nothing.
The next morning as everyone went out to the Quidditch pitch, they were surprised to see that it no longer looked the same. Instead of an oval pitch, it was now perfectly round, with goals set at equidistant points around it. The stands surrounded the pitch completely, with no house sections. The students quickly filled the stands, and then the teams came flying out. Every player was on a firebolt, and the three teams shot up and into position.
Madam Hooch let the balls out of their case, and then tossed the quaffle in the air and blew her whistle, signifying the start of the match. To no-one's surprise, the national team led by Krum jumped out to a quick lead as the superior team work by the chasers took an early toll.
Harry flew around the pitch, looking for the snitch, hoping to put a quick end to the match, when he noticed something. His teammates seemed not only overmatched, but very nervous to be on the same field as these heavyweights.
He stretched out with his mind, placing himself en rapport with each one of them, send wave upon wave of calming thought out to them. Within moments, Ginny had stolen the quaffle from Moran and was speeding toward a goal.
Harry smiled, having been able to help. He resumed his search for the snitch.
On and on the match went, each team riding surges in their scoring. After a couple of hours the score was Krum's Nationals one hundred twenty, Team Weasley one hundred, and Gryffindor ninety. It was still anyone's match.
Then Harry spotted it. It was near the ground at the middle of the pitch. He, Krum, and Charlie had spotted it at the same time. He dove at top speed, weaving in and out of traffic as he approached the snitch. He dodged a bludger from George and wove around Katie Bell. He watched as a bludger almost dislodged Charlie, but he somehow managed to hang on.
With Krum and Charlie both closing in from opposite directions Harry realized something. They were going to collide from three different angles. He thrust his broom down beneath him and landed on it feet first, still zooming towards the snitch. As the other two neared he leapt off his broom, and spinning like an Olympic diver, he pirouetted in midair above them, grabbing the snitch as he was upside down, his feet pointed straight up. He flipped over them and landed on his broom as it sailed underneath the other two. He thrust his hand in the air, revealing the struggling snitch clutched there. Gryffindor had come from behind to win, two hundred forty to one hundred twenty to one hundred!
Krum and Charlie came up and raised Harry's hands in victory, and escorted him in a victory lap around the field, both of them staring at him in disbelief at what he had just accomplished. It had taken all their considerable skills to simply avoid a collision.
The next Friday, as they were getting ready to leave Hogwarts for good, Harry found a note pinned to his pillow. He took it and read.
Could you please meet us in the room of requirements as soon as possible? We'll be waiting for you.
Harry hurried through the common room and down the corridor to the room of requirement. He stepped in and saw Ginny, Hermione, and Luna sitting on one couch while Neville and Ron were in another one facing the girls.
He walked over, taking his place next to Ron. "What's going on?" he asked.
"No idea mate. Your guess is as good as mine," Ron answered. The three of them looked up at the girls.
"First," said Ginny, "Harry has something to tell us, don't you, Harry?"
Harry realized that Ginny was calling him out. He had hoped that she would have been satisfied that the Quidditch match was what he had been hiding, but he should have known better. He nodded to her.
"Well, as you all know, I've kinda lost interest in becoming an auror. It sounded great when I was younger, but now, well, I've seen enough death and horror to fill a lifetime. I don't really need the money, and I want to be there for Ginny to build a life and raise a family. So knowing this, Professor McGonagall asked me to consider something different. She asked me to become the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. I told her today that I would like to take a year off, and then if she still wanted me, I would be glad to fill the post. She talked to Professor Synjin-Smythe, oh sorry, Professor Deerborne about staying on one more year, and he agreed. So, in a year, I'll be teaching here."
This brought hugs all around, and a huge kiss from Ginny.
"Now, what did you want to tell us?" Harry asked.
"Well," began Ginny, "the three of us all felt rather odd this morning, so we all showed up at the Hospital Wing. It seems that the three of us have the same thing to tell each of you."
Harry, Neville, and Ron all exchanged nervous glances. What strange illness would inflict all three of them at some time? Was it something from the war? They all looked back up at the girls, worry etched in their expressions.
The girls exchanged looks and laughed. "We're all pregnant," Hermione whispered.
"What? How? When?" each of the boys stammered.
"Well as to how, if you haven't figured that one out by now…" Ginny said.
"Last night, each of us," said Luna, sounding extremely pleased. "Since Harry and Ginny are already married, and Ron and Hermione are getting married next week, we thought that maybe you and I should make it a double ceremony." She said to a completely stunned Neville.
Slowly, he broke out into a huge grin. "Actually, Ron and I had discussed just that this week, and I was going to pop the question here. He stood and slipped a ring on Luna's finger. They sealed it with a kiss.
The rest of the events of that fateful day should, and shall be left to the reader's imagination. Suffice it to say that each of the three couples were young, very much in love, and very needful of reasons to celebrate, and celebrate they did.
Author's Note: As I said before I am including an epilogue, so there will be one more posting after this. Thank you so much for sticking with this to the end, and a most heartfelt thank you and God bless to all of you who have taken the time to review. I have used each and every review, good, bad and ugly to make myself a better writer, and in some instances it has led to a couple of blossoming friendships. Thank you one and all.