Ginny tore through the air, her pony tail whipping behind her, her Quidditch robes billowing as she flew at top-notch speeds. The sun beat down on her even as the moisture in the air and the wind cooled her. It was a perfect day for a good match.
Another player came into focus, hurtling several meters above her. Friend, not foe. Two others, enemy Chasers, were on either side of her teammate. She was boxed in, the precious Quaffle clutched desperately to her chest. Ginny followed the figures from below, staying in the others' blind spot. She whistled and outstretched her hand, knowing what would happen the instant before it did. The ball dropped into her awaiting fingers and she streaked across the pitch. The Quaffle was under her arm, secure even as an opposing Chaser, materializing from the right, scrabbled for it. It was a laughable attempt, no one could steal from her when she was in the zone. This was her element. This was her life.
With a burst of speed and a quick swerve she had soared far beyond the meddlesome pest and the way to the Keeper was clear. The girl was watching her approach, nerves evident in the white-knuckled grip she had on her broom handle. Ginny's eyes honed in on the way her body was angled towards the left hoop. She feinted left and was pleased to see the girl rocket far too fast, leaving her ample opportunity to shift for the right goal and —
The Bludger knocked the bristles of her broom, spinning her off-course, but no one, not even the Beater, could stop the Quaffle from soaring through the hoop. A shrill, magically enhanced whistle pierced the air. Ginny grinned to herself as she straightened out her Comet 300 and headed for the ground. The rest of the players were already gathering along the side of the pitch. Dismounting, she moved off to stand with the rest of the reserve team. Gwenog Jones, the Holyhead Harpies' Captain, began her usual play-by-play breakdown of the training session.
"Miller, that was some seriously shoddy keeping up there! You were very obviously favoring one side, not even bothering to hide it! How else would you miss eight of the 20 shots? 80 points, Miller, a game could be lost with 80 points!" The girl shifted uneasily on her feet. "And you, Carmichael, you broke formation with your Chasers numerous times. By my count your blundering cost the team 30 points, easy! Stick to the plays, or for Merlin's sake, at least have the decency to score if you don't!" Carmichael shot Ginny a nasty glare, having been the primary reason for most of her losses. She refused to feel contrite though, and merely met the girl's look with one of her own. Gwenog's eyes seemed to flash but she ignored it. Instead she turned to Helen Giesner and adopted a wounded air. "My Beater, my partner, you've let me down so!" Helen gave a sheepish smile, recognizing their Captain's jocularity as a softening of the blow. "I count on you to watch the others and take down any immediate threats. But you let the enemy chasers have a free ride while I focused on the Seeker! Disappointing my friend, disappointing." She looked over the remaining members of her team, deemed them satisfactory, and ordered them to the showers. As the Harpies and the reserves trudged off the field, it was to everyone's surprise when Gwenog called, "Weasley!" Ginny turned, wondering if she was getting a reprimand too. Or maybe being ordered to fetch the towels. But instead, their Captain's lips were turned up in a rare smile. "Good job today."
Feeling the eyes of her fellow Quidditch players boring holes in her back, she stammered, "Th-thanks, er, Captain." Gwenog waved her off, that strange little smile still playing on her face. Keeping her head down, Ginny practically sprinted off the pitch.
"Cor blimey! I can't believe it! I just can't freakin' believe it!" Ginny grinned at the other girl's enthusiasm. Effie Shaw, a Harpy Chaser and one of Ginny's only friends on the actual team, was quite happily raving about the modest praise the Captain had bestowed upon the redhead.
Effie was quite possibly the most effervescent person she had ever met. Blonde cropped hair, green-eyed, and stocky, she gave an air of cheerfulness that drew people to her like moths to a flame. Muggle-born, she proclaimed herself to be uncouth, but somehow she managed to be liked by nearly everyone. The two had become fast friends during her tryouts (she had already held the Chaser position for a year when Ginny signed on), bonding easily over their same broom model and love of pumpkin pie. She was a rare member of the Harpies for the sole reason that she was not intimidated by the reservist's skill. Despite never speaking during their time at Hogwarts, seeing as Effie was three years above her and in Hufflepuff, she had grown to be one of her best friends. It was rather amazing how she had inserted herself into her life, becoming good mates with Luna and Hermione and the rest. But then, that was simply the sort of affable person she was.
"Dear old Jonesie never comments on the reserves, never!" Effie continued, never seeming to stop for breath and all while changing out of her uniform. Ginny imagined she had the lung capacity of a whale, realizing she would be entirely offended by the analogy. She suppressed a snigger. "What a blinder! You, Ginge," She announced with an air of great importance, using her nickname ceremoniously, "Must be incredibly exceptional."
"Yes, well, we already knew that." Ginny commented with a sly wink as she unlaced the padding around her calves. A snort came from the other side of the bench.
"And modest too." The reserve Keeper, Paige Lloyd, remarked, tossing her long mousy-brown hair to showcase the teasing smile splitting her olive-skinned face. Two years older than her and home schooled, they had never met before tryouts, but by virtue of being pure-blood they were no doubt related. While not entirely close off the pitch, Paige was always a nice ally in the somewhat catty world of the Harpies. Ginny stuck her tongue out at her mate, making the Keeper roll her chestnut eyes. "Mature as well, you're the whole package aren't you, Weasley?" Before she could answer, a not-quite-under-her-breath retort came from behind her.
"She's something alright." The three turned their head as one as Carmichael passed clad only in a towel. The friends had often marveled at the speed at which the other girl shed her clothes, concluding that she must get a lot of practice. Inès was her first name, and though she had already held the Chaser position for two years when Ginny signed on, she was intensely threatened by the younger girl's skill. From Beauxbatons Academy like her French mother (as she so often liked to mention), they had never had the misfortune of meeting until the Harpies. She was hands down the nastiest player on the team. Ginny had given her the nickname 'Carbuncle' which had quickly spread, though thankfully the diva was oblivious to it. No need to give her more reason to loathe her. The ebony-haired witch gave them a scathing — yet somehow indifferent, how did she manage that? — once over before she pushed through into the showers.
"Don't mind her," Effie said, though she couldn't keep the scorn out of her voice, "She's still in a strop after the way Gwenog laced into her."
"Yeah, she's just jealous." Paige agreed. "It's obvious you're going to get her job one of these days.
"Who cares," Ginny said, "Serves her right for not sticking to the plays. And anyway, I'm not going to let her ruin my one weekend off." It was true, the Harpies trained so rigorously that the players were only allotted one weekend of leave a month. Ginny would have said they were worked like house elves but, thanks to Hermione, that wasn't the case anymore.
"What are your plans?" They looked up to see Helen join them, another friendly face. With a willowy build, wispy blonde hair framing her round face, and sun weathered skin, she was not what you'd expect from a Beater. She looked like a strong gale might blow her away. Opposing teams often underestimated her only to be trounced by her wicked backswing.
"A proper lie in for starters." She said, making the other girls moan in agreement. Sleep had become a precious commodity to all of them. "Then I expect it'll just be some down time with the family. Might visit my niece, Vicky's almost two now." There was the usual 'aw's that all females seem to make upon mention of an infant.
"No boyfriend to cuddle up with then?" Helen inquired not unkindly. While not a particularly nosy girl, she was the only member of the team to be married, and as such was an incurable romantic and wished nothing more than for each of them to follow in her lovesick footsteps. Ginny gave a wry little grin.
Ginny apparated to her flat around seven o'clock and promptly collapsed onto the sofa. She was positively exhausted. Gwenog had them flying drill after drill, and even after they'd washed up she'd insisted on a three hour long meeting to go over strategy so they wouldn't 'get rusty' over the two day break.
She looked around at the modest apartment. Luna, her roommate, would be arriving soon. She generally stayed at the Owl Post Office until eight or so. She had a part time job working there afternoons while helping her dad compile the Quibbler in the mornings. She had originally gotten a job at the Magical Menagerie, but had been fired after getting into a heated argument over their supposed discrimination against several of Luna's favorite creatures. Living with her mate was always good for a laugh.
Ginny could have easily slept for 12 hours right there, but she forced herself to sit up after only a few minutes. She did need to Floo her mum and finalize her plans.
"Mum!" She called into the emerald flames, her face following soon after. Looking into the sitting room she soon found her mother's ankles directly in front of her. Trying not to look up, she shouted, "Mum! Down here!" Mrs. Weasley gave a startled little trill and her familiar face appeared as she knelt on the rug.
"Oh hello, Ginny dear." Her mother greeted her pleasantly, "I was just dusting the mantle." She stowed her wand (complete with feathers protruding from the tip) and gave a lovely smile.
"I did tell you I'd be free this weekend, right?" Ginny asked, simply because she could never be sure. Her schedule was so hectic there was little certainty she'd brushed her teeth that morning.
"Yes, dear, and we're all looking forward to it." Her mother's brown eyes, the same one's she'd inherited, seemed to twinkle. "It'll be so nice having the family all together for once."
"Really?" She racked her brain, trying to recall if it was a holiday. "Who else is coming?"
"Well, Charlie's still off relocating that Peruvian Vipertooth." Molly frowned as she often did when bringing up her son's dangerous lifestyle. "But Percy's made arrangements for lunch on Saturday, and you know how George always mooches off my meals, so they'll be there. Bill and Fleur are dropping off little Victoire, so they can have a quiet night in." Ginny must have grimaced because her mother scolded, "Now sweetie, don't be like that. Alone time is a wonderful thing after dealing with a child, and with another on the way… Well, you'll understand when you're older." At this, she appeared to have remembered something. "Oh yes, and Ron and Hermione will be stopping by for dinner!" Ginny made an impressed hum.
"Ickle Ronnie bringing his bird to dinner, eh? Things are getting serious." Her mother tutted disapprovingly but could not hide her grin. "That should be nauseating, how will I ever get through dinner?" Here there was definite mischief in Mrs. Weasley's expression.
"Well, you won't be alone. Harry will be there." Ginny choked on ash. She smoothed her expression, trying to look as dignified as possible after hacking up coal.
"Oh? I thought he was busy at the Auror department." Her mother's gaze was far too knowing for her liking.
"Since he's no longer a trainee he has far more downtime. Those higher-ups have stopped dumping the menial work on him, as well they should." Right, he'd had an accelerated training period. Being Harry-freakin'-Potter and all.
"So, what, he has weekends off now?" She asked casually.
"Not quite, but he doesn't have stake outs at night. He gets out at a reasonable hour. Such a nice change." Mrs. Weasley watched her daughter in silence as she searched for something to say.
"Er… Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yes, I simply can't wait." She still had that unreadable look and Ginny felt increasingly awkward.
"Okay… Bye." Pulling her head from the Floo, she settled back on her knees. That was a baffling conversation, though it was obvious why. Mum never had given up on making Harry a real member of the family.
Things with Harry were… complicated was too strong a word; more like non-existent. After the war they had just never seemed to find a moment. He was always surrounded by fans or her family, and she had been grieving intensely. The memories of Colin, one of her best friends, Tonks and Remus, the sweetest nicest people she had ever met, and Fred… it still brought tears to her eyes, even after three years of dealing with the pain.
Sighing her sadness away, she turned back to thoughts of Harry. He had almost immediately accepted Kingsley's offer of a fast track to the Auror department, which she could understand. There had been a desperate need of Aurors in the wake of the Ministry's collapse, and in the confusing period after Tom's death there had been several Death Eaters going underground. It made sense he would want to finish what he started. Ginny could not begrudge him that.
But then she had started school again, and their only communication was in letters. And, as he was often abroad or working nights, these letters came maybe once every few months. And bear in mind they mostly consisted of 'Yes, I'm still alive, how are you?' Declarations of undying love, they were not.
Ginny had resigned herself to this, and thought she was doing relatively well at getting on with her life. She was beginning her career as a professional Quidditch player, had stable relationships with family and friends, and she even managed to go out on a date or two. When was the last time she'd seen him in person? It had to be getting on years. Not that she didn't want to. It wasn't as if she was uncomfortable or angry with Harry. They did still owl, and of course they had mutual friends who kept them aware of the other's happenings.
But no one really enjoys seeing their exes, do they?
"Hello Ginny." The etherial voice of her flatmate broke through her musings. Looking up, she saw Luna placing her Butterbeer cork key chain on the peg and heading for the fridge. As muggle property was generally cheaper than space in an all wizarding community, their home was outfitted with electricity (which fascinated her dad to no end) and a working Floo (their landlady was a Squib, which met the Floo Regulation's requirements). It could be handy at times, like when mingling with the neighbors, but it also was damn complicated. They generally had to replace appliances every six months. Though they did have a television, which baffled and enthralled Ginny to no end.
"Hi Luna, how was your day?"
"Boring, though I did have a lovely conversation with a masked owl." She replied, taking out and biting into what appeared to be toast with a heavy helping of mould. Ginny had to smile.
"That's nice, I just got off the Floo with my mum." The blonde shot her a surprisingly sharp look.
"I do hope you used protection. I have told you about the Flingering Flame Motes, haven't I?" Ginny nodded solemnly.
"I'm clean." Luna returned instantly to her usually airy affect.
"Good." She said, taking another bite. This was a routine they went through nearly every other night. In addition to making her adhere to several strange precautions, her ditzy friend often used the flat like a laboratory. Thankfully, those times were generally few and far between, and Ginny had long since learned to humor her friend's eccentricities. "What did Molly want?"
"Oh, we were just ironing out tomorrow's plans. I still can't believe I finally get time off." At her reminder of the upcoming weekend, Luna appeared uncharacteristically hesitant.
"Yes, I'll have the opportunity to visit Neville." The redhead grinned slyly at her.
Neville and Luna had had a strange sort of tension during those first few months in the DA. She had been puzzled by her friends odd behavior, but had brushed it off as the usual craziness of wartime. When Luna disappeared during winter hols, Neville had obviously been furious and distraught, but understandably so. Once the war was over however, things resolved themselves during a particularly spectacular snog in the Great Hall (Luna claimed to have seen a Blibbering Humdinger on Neville's lip). They had been dating ever since.
"Don't worry, I'll be staying the night at the Burrow. You can have the flat to yourself."
"Oh… no, I don't think that will work out." She still had that suspicious indecision that seemed so out of place on her.
Becoming concerned, she inquired, "What's wrong?" Luna merely shook her head.
"We are still having that girls only dinner on Sunday, right?" She asked instead. Ginny blinked at the subject change.
"Yeah, you, me, Hermione, and Effie."
"Good." The blonde nodded to herself and stuffed the rest of her meal into her mouth. Turning towards her room, she announced, "Well, I'm off to bed. Sweet dreams, don't let the nargles bite." She scurried off, leaving Ginny alone to wonder when the entire world had gone barmy.
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing. The only things of my own creation are: Effie Shaw, Inès Carmichael, Paige and Helen and the rest of the players, Victoire's stuffed dragon, the League Ball, Penthesilea Woodward, Baz the waiter, and 'My Heart Soared Away On A Hippogriff' sung by Euterpe.
As I have had stuggles in the past with infinate WIPs, I wrote all of this out before hand. You don't have to worry about an incomplete story, as I will be posting all 11 chapters every Saturday. And I want to assure you, I think it's one of my best works.
I hope the above spoilers are enough to keep you interested.