Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"It's been like... like living someone else's life, these last few weeks with you."
- Harry to Ginny, during one of the most heartbreaking moments in the HP series.
Part 1: Quidditch and Everything After
The cold October wind whipped his hair backwards as Harry sped along the Quidditch pitch, testing the top speed of his Firebolt. The speedometer of the clip-on gauge was reading past 150 miles an hour as he got to one end of the field. Performing the trick he'd been practicing that evening, Harry dipped sharply downwards and sped towards the ground, his acceleration aided by gravity. The wind whistled in his ears as he screwed up his face in concentration and, at the last instant, he pulled the nose of his broom and spiraled upwards. He continued on flying skyward, wanting to test the maximum controllable altitude of his Firebolt. It didn't disappoint. The altimeter's needle had gone past the numbered lines and he was already having trouble breathing by the time the Firebolt started wobbling.
Satisfied, Harry started to fly down towards the ground. He was level with the goal posts and near the center of the pitch when he pulled to a stop. Someone else had started flying while he was high up in the sky testing his Firebolt. Like him, they too had been speeding along the pitch and he was now blocking their previously clear way.
That someone was Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister. She had only just managed to brake on her broom, preventing a what-might-have-been-fatal collision, and was looking at him like she had just seen a ghost. Harry wondered briefly if it was because he had seemingly come from nowhere, having just flown down from a part of the pitch that the lights didn't reach. Whatever its cause may be, Harry was sure that her shocked expression perfectly mirrored his. He had never seen Ginny Weasley on a broom before, let alone going at the speed she'd been going.
Presently, Ginny broke into a huge grin. Harry barely had time to wonder why she was grinning when she passed the Quaffle she'd been holding at him. He caught it deftly and looked at Ginny, then, catching her drift, he returned her grin with his own. One hand on the Quaffle and another on his broom, he flew past her and sped towards the goal posts. He looked behind and saw her tailing him with a look of intense concentration on her face. He had the advantage of a head start and his Firebolt though, and she was still more than ten feet away by the time he reached the scoring area. He aimed and shot the Quaffle easily through one of the goals.
The charmed ball fell slowly downwards and Harry caught it before it hit the ground. He threw the ball at Ginny, who caught and shot it through a goal in one smooth movement. They played that way for a while, the silence only broken by laughter as Harry tried to block Ginny's goals but she made them anyway or when Ginny tried to imitate one of Harry's flying tricks and she almost collided with one of the goal posts.
Harry observed Ginny intently. He prided himself in knowing a good flier when he saw one and she was definitely one. She was riding a Comet 180, neither the fastest nor the easiest broom to handle, but she made it look like she was flying on a Nimbus. He realized that she only screwed up his trick because it was her first try. It was a particularly hard trick and it had taken him a month to master it. Her form was perfect too. She would suddenly pull on the nose of her broom then twist her body quickly, making her turns sharp and snappy. She would use this snappy turn every time she tried to make a goal and she would flick her wrists at the last instant, putting a sharp spin on the Quaffle and causing it to always go in even if it hit the sides of the hoops. The first time he saw her use this technique, he couldn't help but let go of his Firebolt and clap appreciatively with both hands.
"Hey, stop that," she called to him as she shot another goal, finally breaking their silence.
"What?" he asked innocently.
"Staring," she said in a stating-the-obvious sort of way and rolled her eyes at him.
"Oh, sorry," he said sincerely, he hadn't realized that he'd been staring. "I was just checking to see if you're any good." As soon as he said it, Harry vaguely realized that it sounded somewhat insulting and arrogant, but Ginny didn't seem to notice it.
"Well?" she asked as she flew one-handed towards him with the Quaffle clipped under her free arm.
"Ten over ten," Harry replied surely.
"Ahh… I always knew you had a good eye, Harry," she said airily.
Ginny flew towards the ground then settled herself at the very center of the pitch. Harry followed and sat beside her.
"Didn't know you could fly," he told her honestly, and that was probably just the tip of the ice berg. He wondered how much he didn't know about Ginny Weasley. She had always been just Ron's little sister. He was close with her brothers and she was close with Hermione, but they weren't close. Thinking about it now puzzled him. He and Ginny had known each other for about three years, they'd even hung out together, but somehow they never really got to know each other. Sure he knew little things about her—things that were obvious and things that Ron and Hermione told him—like how she never shuts up, or how she can cast a mean Bat-Bogey Hex, or how she hates doing her homework too, but none of them were as big as this flying thing. His knowledge of Ginny was like one huge trunk with only a few disarranged trinkets in it and he was now presented with this big ball and he had to rearrange the stuff in the trunk to make room for the ball. In short, he knew nothing about Ginny Weasley.
"Not many people do," she replied with a casual shrug. "So don't take it personally," she added jokingly. "Is this the first time you've come here? Just flying by yourself, I mean…."
It wasn't Harry's first time at the pitch of course, but it was his first time flying by himself. He had always come to the pitch for Quidditch practice but this year, his fourth at Hogwarts, was different. The Triwizard Tournament was being held for the first time in a hundred years or so and the chosen venue was Hogwarts. The decision had been made to not hold Quidditch in order to concentrate on the Tournament. Normally, on a cool Wednesday evening such as that one, he would have been practicing for the first Quidditch match of the year. But, no matches, no practices. He never went too long without taking his Firebolt out for a ride though, so on that cool Wednesday evening he had decided to go flying out on the pitch. He never thought he'd run into Ginny Weasley, of all people, at the pitch that evening.
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"I come here often myself," replied Ginny. She started tossing the Quaffle up and down in the air. "Never saw you around—this year, that is."
"How long have you been coming here?" he wondered. His eyes followed the progress of the Quaffle as it bounced to and from her hand.
"Since first year, but only late at night, since the teams are practicing during the day and early evening," she replied. "I've only started coming early this year. I figured since there are no matches, no one would be out here. Didn't think I'd see you here," she added with a nod towards him.
Harry chuckled. "Me either—see you here, I mean," he said. "Don't you ever get caught? Coming here late at night…."
"Twice," she declared proudly, a glint of mischief twinkling in her eyes. Harry couldn't help but be reminded of Fred and George. "First by Filch, second by Dumbledore. Filch made me clean a quarter of the stands—without magic! Dumbledore conjured a glass of water—for my thirst, he said," she added fondly.
"Seriously?" asked Harry. "He gave you a glass of water?"
"And it kept refilling," she said, and nodded grandly.
Ginny finally stopped tossing the Quaffle up and down and settled it on the ground. Harry noticed that there were black markings on the ball. It obviously wasn't the school's Quaffle. He grabbed it and inspected the writings. The words "Chudley Cannons" were written near a drawing of a speeding cannonball. He could also read the team names "Holyhead Harpies", "Puddlemere", and "Magpies", and one bold statement: "Harpies Rock!"
"I'm guessing that Ron wrote the 'Chudley Cannons' here," Harry said with an amused grin. "Which one's yours?"
"Holyhead Harpies, all the way!" Ginny replied enthusiastically.
"Oh, so you wrote this," said Harry, pointing to the words 'Harpies Rock!' written on the Quaffle. "Very creative," he said sarcastically.
"Shut up, I was seven at the time," Ginny said a little defensively.
"You've supported them since you were seven?" Harry asked with a tone of surprise and bemusement in his voice. He only knew a few people who had supported a team since they were very young, and they were always the hard core Quidditch fans. He was again reminded, not for the first time that night, how much he didn't know about the youngest Weasley.
"Since I was six, actually," she corrected him. "My uncle Fabian, Mum's brother, took me to one of their matches for my birthday. It was my first match too, and well, you know what it's like to see a pro Quidditch game for the first time. It was unreal!"
At that point, a dreamy look came over Ginny's face as she reminisced about the match. "The players looked like they were born riding on brooms," she continued. "Puddlemere was quite good too, they even won the game, but the Harpies' Chasers…they were playing like they had one mind. They had this technique where they would just pass the Quaffle around, really quickly, and whoever happened to have a good shot would just take it. It really confused the opposing Keeper, since he'd never know who was going to take the shot. And the way they shot the ball—amazing. They made it seem like they were catching and shooting it in just one stroke. I've wanted to play Chaser since then."
Harry grinned at Ginny in amusement. Meeting someone who loved Quidditch as much as he did was always an enjoyable experience. It left him with a lighthearted feeling, knowing that he wasn't the only one who was insane about the game. He never thought, in all the years he knew her, that Ginny Weasley would be one of them.
"I guess it's safe to assume that your team is the Wanderers," she went on in the same breath. She eyed his blood-red shirt, which, true enough, had the words 'Wigtown Wanderers' written across the chest.
"Guilty," he said with a shrug. "Since I was six too."
"Really? How come?" she said, a look of mild confusion evident on her face. "Your Dad used to play for the Arrows, didn't he?"
"The Arrows, then the Magpies," replied Harry, "He took me to an Arrows game when I was six—he was already playing for the Magpies at the time. Anyway, he took me to cheer for the Arrows, or maybe he just wanted to spy on them. They were playing against the Wanderers, and well," Harry grinned at Ginny, "Let's just say the Wanderers caught my eye. They played better, they had really good teamwork, and they won the game…"
"And of course, blood-red is more eye-catching than pale blue," joked Ginny.
Harry burst into a fit of laughter.
"What? It's true!" she said when he didn't stop. "To the eyes of a six year old, blood-red is more interesting than blue! Blue's boring, and well, red's always better."
"Go Gryffindor," he said with only the slightest hint of sarcasm.
"Yeah," she said with a chuckle. "Go Gryffindor!"
They sat in comfortable silence for a while, basking in their Gryffindor prides. Ginny started tossing the Quaffle up and down again and Harry started pulling on the grass around him. He broke the silence this time.
"Hey, wanna try out the Firebolt?" he offered.
"Seriously?" she asked in a small voice and looked disbelievingly at him.
"Yeah, sure, why not—"
"Oh yes, yes, yes!" she exclaimed excitedly as she jumped up on her feet.
Harry laughed, sharing her excitement. He too stood up and grabbed his Firebolt. "Here you go," he said, handing the broom to her. She took it reverently and ran her free hand along its length.
"It's vibrating," she said in awe, giving him a look of pure bliss.
"Well, go on, try it out," he encouraged, grinning at her.
She returned his grin, then brought one leg over the Firebolt so she was poised and ready to fly. He looked on expectantly, waiting for her to take off. The Firebolt was the best and fastest broom in existence, but it wasn't as easy to handle as the Nimbus series. It took a more than average skill with a broom to be able to fly it smoothly. This was his final indicator of how good she really was.
Ginny suddenly took to the air like a bird, dragging Harry away from his thoughts. The breath caught in his throat. Most people who borrowed his Firebolt encountered a slight turbulence as they took off for the first time, unadjusted to its acceleration. Ginny, however, flew like she'd been riding a Firebolt her whole life. She flew like it was a second nature, riding the winds with a kind of effortless grace. He suddenly felt ashamed of himself for ever doubting her and her skill with a broom.
She took two laps around the pitch, sped skywards, then dipped towards the ground and landed smoothly in front of him.
"That was amazing!" they exclaimed in unison, Ginny talking about the Firebolt and Harry talking about the way she flew.
"The turns were so… I mean, with just a twitch—it's almost like it's reading my mind!" exclaimed Ginny.
Harry grinned and nodded knowingly at her. The Firebolt was harder to handle than the Nimbus, but for those who could master it, the broom became almost a part of their body.
"And the acceleration!" she continued excitedly. "Everything went blurry on my second lap. Amazing altitude threshold too, a Comet wouldn't be able to handle that, or even a Cleansweep. This is definitely the best broom in the world…."
She handed the broom over to Harry. He reached out to take it, but she gripped it tighter instead of letting go. He chuckled, she grinned at him, and a moment later, she finally let go of the Firebolt.
"Sorry, for a second there I wanted to wrestle it from you. Then I realized you're much bigger than I am," she joked. "Hey, maybe we should go back to the castle now," she added in the same breath.
"What time is it?" asked Harry, he had lost track.
Ginny looked at her watch. "Fifteen minutes to curfew," she replied.
"Yeah, we should go," he agreed. "Before Filch makes us clean the stands…."
Harry followed Ginny to the broom shed. The Comet she'd been riding was the school's property and she had to return it. He waited at the shed's door as she went in and put the Comet back in its proper place.
"I should come here more often," Harry said, more to himself than to Ginny. He didn't know why he'd only just thought of coming to the pitch that evening.
Ginny finished putting the Comet on its rack and turned towards him.
"I come here every week," she said. She walked towards the door, where he was standing. He took a step backwards to let her out. "Just join me," she offered, closing the door behind her.
"Yeah, sure," he said fervently. It certainly sounded better than flying by himself.
"Great," she said with a nod. They started heading for the castle. "I go to the pitch on Saturdays usually. Sometimes weekdays too, when I have nothing to do, but mostly just Saturdays. I'll meet you at the pitch this Saturday then?"
"Well, since there are no practices, we can start early," she said. "I always go at around four this year…."
"Okay… Quidditch pitch, Saturday, four pm," said Harry, ticking them off with his fingers.
Ginny grinned and nodded her confirmation at him. They walked in comfortable silence, into the castle's Entrance Hall, up the staircases and along the hallways to the Gryffindor tower. Harry had a million things he wanted to know about Ginny, but he couldn't form the questions in his head. He looked sideways at her. She looked rather tired, which was probably why she was so quiet. Normally, one could always count on her to talk about something.
"You look tired," he commented. It was only a few minutes before nine after all, not really past anyone's bedtime—anyone in Hogwarts, at least.
"I had two weeks of detention with Snape," she replied grimly. "Yesterday was the last. I haven't had enough sleep since the week before last."
"What did you do?" he asked, not accusatorily.
"I was fighting with this Ravenclaw in my year," she explained. "He kept teasing my friend Luna, and not in a friendly way. I would have just ignored him, but he started talking about her Mum. I know he probably didn't know that her Mum died when she was young, but I got really angry at him then. So I hexed him. And he hexed me back…. Anyway, it turned into some sort of wand fight, but it wasn't really much—he sucked."
A mischievous grin started playing on Ginny's lips. "He was dancing this Hawaiian jig by the time I finished with him," she continued reminiscently. "It was almost worth the detention."
"So Snape caught you," said Harry. He wasn't surprised about Ginny's reaction to the Ravenclaw boy's teasing. She had a temper that could put her mother's to shame. It was one of the things he actually knew about her.
"Yeah," she replied dryly. "Of all the teachers that could have caught us…. I mean, okay, we did fight in the hallway, we deserved a detention. But two weeks! And with that idiot Ravenclaw! Sometimes I can't decide whether he's too strict or he just likes seeing students suffer."
"Probably the second one," Harry said vindictively. "Snape's a git."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," she agreed.
"Did you know that he's friends with my Mum?" he told her.
"Balderdash!" she said loudly.
"What?" he asked, confused.
Ginny chuckled. "The password," she said, pointing at the portrait of the Fat Lady, who had obviously just woken up.
"Oh, I thought you meant—never mind."
The portrait swung forward. Harry let Ginny through first before going in himself.
"So your Mum's friends with Snape?" she asked him as the portrait closed behind them. "Why?"
"I keep asking the same thing myself," he said, shrugging. "Dad said it's just one of those things. I don't know what he means. He obviously doesn't like Snape either, but he puts up with him for Mum. Says I have to do it too…."
"So does Snape go to your house, too?" she asked, a slight look of disgust evident on her face. She was obviously trying to get the idea around her head.
"Sometimes," said Harry. He screwed his face up at the memories of Snape's visits. "I always try to avoid him. Mostly I go to the Quidditch Centre, sometimes I hang out with Sirius, but Mum always insists that we all have dinner together. It was really weird—I've never seen Dad, or Snape, act so formal."
Ginny burst out laughing, probably at the thought of him, his parents, and Snape in the same dinner table. He supposed it was funny, if only he wasn't part of it.
"Damn, I would not want to be you during those times," she said emphatically.
"Tell me 'bout it—"
"Oi, what are you two doing standing there?" someone called.
Harry turned to the direction of the caller and saw Ron sitting with Hermione and Neville on the chairs by the fireplace. Harry and Ginny walked towards them.
"Hi guys," Ginny greeted pleasantly. Hermione and Neville smiled at her while Ron just nodded. "Well, I'm going to bed now," she continued. "See you Saturday, Harry. Good night guys."
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville said their good nights, and then Ginny turned and headed for the girls' dormitories. Harry took a seat beside Hermione and placed his Firebolt carefully on the floor nearby. He took out his bag from under the table, where he had left it, and fished out a quill and a roll of parchment. He wrote his name at the top and, feeling his best friends' eyes on him, looked up to see the astonished expressions on their faces. He chuckled, amused. He understood their surprise. It wasn't like him to do his homework without having to be told, but he had to start with his History of Magic essay now if he wanted to free up his Saturday.
Betaed by: PadfootProngs7