Chapter Four

The Payoff

Ginny rose the next morning determined to have a serious chat with Gwenog. The only problem was she couldn't find her anywhere. She wasn't at breakfast, but she had left instructions for the starters to complete a light workout in the pool and had scheduled a time for each of them to see the Mediwizard for treatment as well as a rub down. The assistant coach was to run a conditioning session and regular practice for the reserves.

Ginny went by Gwenog's office and the locker room after spending some time in the pool, but Gwenog was nowhere in sight. Ginny had no luck tracking her down after seeing the Mediwizard nor did she show for dinner.

"Still no sign of her then?" Hadley was waiting in Ginny's room when she returned from checking Gwenog's quarters one more time before lights out.

"None," said Ginny. "On the bright side, this is the most sensible day of training we've had since we made the playoffs."

"Right in one on that," said Hadley. "So what's the plan? I know your devious mind has been working on it all day."

"Hopefully I can talk some sense in her tomorrow. I've had myself worked up to confront her all day and she's disappeared. I'm so frustrated."

"And if she doesn't respond to reason?"

"Then the gloves come off." Ginny said firmly. "I'm not going to lose this championship after working my arse off all year just because Gwenog's gone off her nut."

Ginny rumbled around in her trunk and pulled out Harry's invisibility cloak.

"Off to the broomshed to relieve some of that frustration then?" Hadley asked. "Can I borrow that if I can get Ewan here tomorrow?"

"What are teammates for?" Ginny smiled and left the room with the cloak in tow.

Ginny stealthily slipped into the broomshed, removed the invisibility cloak and quietly pulled the door closed behind her. It was barely shut when she felt two strong arms surround her from behind.

"Cashing in a chit for quick and dirty are we, love?" she said as she turned around, lit her wand and found herself gazing into a pair of bright blue eyes.

Wait, blue eyes! Ginny let out a shriek when she realized the raven-hair she thought she was running her fingers through was red instead.

"What are you …," Ginny started as Harry came bursting through the door with his wand drawn.

"Stupefy!" Harry shouted and the man in Ginny's arms slumped to the ground. "Ginny, I heard you scream. Are you all right?"

"I'm fine Harry," she answered breathing heavily. " But you've stunned Charlie."

"I guess the upside is that if I had to find my wife in a broomshed with another man, at least it was one of her brothers," Harry, always the auror, circled the broomshed with his wand still drawn to make sure it was really secure. "What is Charlie doing here?

"I have no idea. It was dark when I got here and I felt arms around me before I lit my wand. I thought it was you!" Ginny shuddered. "Merlin's beard, I almost snogged my brother!"

"Let's wake him up and find out why he's here."

"I hope nothing's wrong at home."

Just as Harry bent down to revive his brother-in-law the door creaked open and Gwenog Jones slid in. If she was surprised to find Harry and Ginny Potter in the Holyhead Harpies broomshed at midnight standing over the prone form of Charlie Weasley, she didn't let on.

"Why am I not surprised to find the two of you out here?" she drawled.

"Er," Harry started but something inside Ginny snapped. The excess training, the miserable showing against Chudley and the sparse time with Harry had combined to whittle away any hesitation she had about confronting her coach. Ginny forgot all about her unconscious brother. It was time to witch up.

"Perhaps you are not surprised to find us out here because we are a young, healthy, not to mention married couple who have been forced to sneak around in a broomshed because my completely mental quidditch captain has the team locked up in the dorms like naughty schoolgirls!" Ginny's temper and color rose as she hit her stride and she showed no signs of slowing down.

Harry felt a familiar twitch in his trousers as Ginny was rapidly approaching full-on warrior mode. Damn, it was sexy especially when it wasn't directed at him. He could not let his thoughts linger in that direction for long as he had a stunned brother-in-law to deal with.

Harry quietly enervated Charlie and offered a hand to help him up from the floor. Charlie rubbed the back of his neck and attempted to get his bearings. It only took a moment for him to assess the situation. He had enough experience with Weasley women in a temper to cut his sister a wide berth, so he watched quietly whilst Ginny took Gwenog to task.

"And you're killing our chances of repeating as league champions. We're working too hard and all the players are worn out. We barely got past the Cannons because we are exhausted and they suck. We won't be that lucky against Puddlemere. All this extra training would be fine and useful if we were in pre-season and needed to get in shape, but we're not in pre-season. We're at the end of a long, grueling season and all this extra work is accomplishing nothing except diminishing our chances of taking the championship. And furthermore, all this team bonding shite would have been well and good at the start of the season, but if we're not a team by now, no mind healer is going to fix it. And the crazy thing is, you know all this. You're bloody Gwenog Jones, one of the best to ever play the game or field a team. So, what are you on about?!"

Ginny finally paused to take a breath and Gwenog eyed her appraisingly.

"I'm retiring as a player," Gwenog said quietly. Gwenog's customary ramrod straight posture gave way at this and her shoulders slumped slightly.

Ginny considered this for a moment. She looked her captain in the eye and instead of the fierce, unbending look she was used to, she saw something that looked a lot like vulnerability flicker in her hazel eyes. The light went on and Ginny understood. "So, this is your last championship. That's why you've been acting like such a bi–"

Harry cleared his throat.

"Did I say that out loud?"

"I'll continue on as coach, but you're correct," Gwenog said. "This is my last chance to win the trophy as a player. I realized last night that in my zeal to win one more I had gone a bit mental."

"Only a bit?" Ginny asked.

"I really have you and your cohorts to thank for the revelation," Gwenog ignored the dig and continued. "I've been trying to figure out how you've gone from being barely able to utter a complete sentence in my presence to pranking me for all you're worth over the last couple weeks. Then there was your rather clumsy attempt to entangle me with a willing bloke…or bird. It was obvious you were unhappy with the new living arrangements and that you thought I needed a distraction, but that didn't explain why you would disrupt training. You're a fierce competitor and I know you want to win this title almost as much as I do. You wouldn't disrupt practice this late in the season for a gag, so you must have thought you had a damn good reason. I realized after we flew like the living dead yesterday that my over enthusiastic training schedule was the reason. So, thank you. You may have saved me from self-destructing my last championship run."

Although she could lie like a Slytherin when pressed, Ginny realized there was no point in trying to deny that she was behind the pranks. Gwenog had read her like a book. She would decide how she felt about that later. "Er, thanks?" she responded lamely.

"You know Potter, juvenile pranks and pathetic matchmaking attempts aside, you've shown some real leadership this season, especially while I've been having my little crisis."

Ginny's eyes grew wide at this. Gwenog wasn't one to mince words or offer praise lightly. "Er, thanks," she stumbled out again.

"No, you stepped up during that ridiculous trust exercise and that was one hell of a practice you ran while I was attending to my whistle," Gwenog said. "Even though you're young, the other players respect you. You're very talented and you work harder than anyone except for maybe me. I'd like you to consider taking over as captain next season."

In spite of her newly found boldness with Gwenog, this left Ginny completely mute.

"I can see I've left you speechless," said Gwenog. "Think about it and we can talk tomorrow after training. We'll be reviewing the scouting reports on Puddlemere and perfecting plays that will best exploit their weaknesses."

Ginny just nodded.

"Potter," Gwenog said, gesturing to Harry before looking Charlie up and down and licking her lips. "Everyone knows your wife plays better when she's getting regular sex. Take her home and attend to it won't you? That's an order."

Harry nodded eagerly and moved towards Ginny.

"One quick question first." Ginny finally remembered that she and Gwenog weren't alone in the broomshed. "It's no secret what Harry and I are doing out here, but could someone please explain what you're doing out here with my brother who is too busy tending his dragons to attend his only sister's playoff match?"

Charlie pinkened slightly and stepped forward to wrap an arm around Ginny and kiss her on the top of the head. "Hey Spitfire."

"That's easy," said Gwenog who was now openly leering at Charlie. "Even though I don't take out ads in Witch Weekly about it, it's no secret that I play better when I'm getting regular sex too. I've had some flown in fresh from Romania, so beat it would you?"

"And in case you haven't figured it out, it's blokes, not birds," she added before anyone could respond.

"I'll make a note of that for future reference," Ginny said a bit dumbfounded. She recovered quickly and took her husband's hand. "Harry, I believe you are under orders to take me home and shag me, so let's get after it."

"Awwww, Gin," whined Charlie. "I could have gone my whole life without hearing that. Have a heart. I've already been stunned tonight and traumatized by the quick and dirty remark."

Ginny looked over her shoulder at Charlie and then said in a tone that brooked no argument, "We'll talk tomorrow."

Harry shrugged his shoulders at Charlie and Gwenog before happily following his wife out the door.

The second the door closed, Gwenog pounced on Charlie and laughed. "Just wait until they get home and figure out I put aCaterwauling Charm on Ginny's knickers. They'll screech like a banshee as soon as he comes within an inch of her."

"Brilliant."

"Payback's a bitch," she said drolly.

"I wouldn't expect it will slow them down much though," Charlie said. "Unfortunately, it's common knowledge amongst their family and friends that Ginny's a bit of a howler."

The End