Ginny was on her way to the changing rooms after the final Quidditch match of the season. They’d hammered the Slytherin team, the final score being 280 to 60. She was ecstatic, but exhausted, and her aching muscles were screaming for a shower, hopefully followed by a shoulder rub from Harry. He had been invited to visit as a guest of Professor McGonagall in exchange for speaking to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes about the Battle of Hogwarts. The professor had given him permission to stay for the weekend to attend the match as well as the after-game party in the Gryffindor common room, and Ginny had been looking forward to spending time with him all week. With a sigh, she stopped and turned find an attractive, athletically built young woman with dusky skin and lively eyes striding toward her purposefully. Ginny nearly dropped her broomstick in surprise.
“You’re Gwenog Jones!” The words came out in a faint squeak.
“Didn’t quite catch that,” the captain of the Holyhead Harpies said with a grin.
“Y-you’re Gwenog Jones,” Ginny repeated, this time dropping her broomstick for real as she offered her hand to the older woman to shake.
“Yes, and you’re Ginny Weasley,” Gwenog said, smiling wider and nodding slowly, as if she were afraid Ginny might be daft.
“How do you know my name?” Ginny asked stupidly. Then, realizing her rudeness, she winced. “I’m sorry, I mean, it’s an honor to meet you. I’ve been a fan of the Harpies ever since I got my first toy broom.”
“Glad to hear it. Horace has told me quite a bit about you,” Gwenog said kindly, overlooking Ginny’s lapse in manners. “He invited me up for the match, said it would be a good one, and it was. Congratulations.”
“Oh, thanks!” Ginny said. “It was great, best match we’ve ever played against Slytherin. Ugh. I mean, well, it’s the only match this team has played against Slytherin, seeing as how Quidditch was cancelled last year, and I was the only returning player. But it was the best match I’ve ever played against Slytherin,” she tried to explain, thinking back to her fourth and fifth years. “And I’m babbling. You must think I’m an idiot.”
“Not at all,” Gwenog said with a laugh. “I thought you were brilliant out there.”
Ginny’s face warmed with the praise. For once, she was at a loss for words.
“Do you have any plans after leaving Hogwarts?” Gwenog continued.
That was the question, wasn’t it? Ginny had spent most of the year focusing on getting through her N.E.W.T.’s, playing Quidditch, and Harry, and not necessarily in that order. She hadn’t wanted to think about the future; she’d been too busy enjoying the present, especially after the nightmare of her sixth year. But there were only a few short weeks until the end of the term, and she knew she needed to start planning, or Mum would have her married off to Harry before she could blink an eye. Not that she didn’t want to marry him, someday. But she wasn’t ready to take that step; neither, for that matter, was Harry. Mum, however, didn’t see it that way. Just the other day Ginny had received a large parcel from home filled with swatches of fabric suitable for a wedding gown. Pigwidgeon had struggled mightily under the load; Ginny had made him stay in the school Owlery for a week, until she felt he was strong enough to fly back home to the Burrow.
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” Ginny admitted. “After last year… well, you know,” she finished lamely.
Gwenog nodded in understanding.
“Have you thought about Quidditch?” she asked.
“Of course, that’s part of the problem," Ginny replied. "Between Quidditch and my N.E.W.T.’s, I haven't had time for…”
Gwenog stopped her with a hand held up. “No, I mean, have you thought about playing Quidditch after you leave school, professionally?”
Ginny stopped short. Of course she’d thought about playing Quidditch professionally. What Hogwarts Quidditch player hadn’t thought of playing Quidditch professionally? A fluttery sort of queasy feeling started to take hold in her stomach. She’d dreamed of playing for the Harpies since she was a little girl. But Gwenog couldn’t possibly be getting at what Ginny thought she might be getting at.
“You aren’t asking me…” she began, afraid to finish the thought for fear she had assumed too much.
But Gwenog nodded. The grin she’d worn earlier had faded; she was now watching Ginny seriously, as if gauging her commitment to the sport.
“Our Seeker is retiring. The announcement will run in tomorrow’s edition of the Prophet.”
Ginny’s mouth rounded into an “o” of surprise. Gelsey Wallace had been playing Seeker for the Harpies for fourteen years, as long as Ginny could remember. She couldn’t imagine the team without her. She couldn’t imagine they were even considering her as a replacement. She felt a little dizzy and shook her head to clear it, trying to focus on the words Gwenog was speaking.
“You’d have to try out, of course,” she clarified. “And I won’t lie to you; it’s a long-shot. You’re younger than the rest of the candidates we’re looking at. But you’ve got some good moves, and you’re tough; it may be a long shot, but it is a shot. Even if you don’t make first string, we need a reserve.”
“What happened to Gail?” Ginny asked. Gail Maddox had been selected as reserve Seeker two years ago; Ginny couldn’t believe she wasn’t ready to take up Gelsey’s position in the first string.
“She got an offer from the Bats to be their Seeker for the upcoming season and signed a contract with them two months ago. She’s just been finishing out her contract with us.”
Ginny nodded, stunned into an uncustomary silence. Gwenog took her lack of response in stride; Ginny imagined hers wasn’t an unusual reaction.
“The tryout will be in Holyhead at the beginning of July,” she said, handing Ginny a thick envelope sealed with dark green wax imprinted with a gold talon. “You don’t have to commit to anything now. But if you show up, bring your best game. You’ll need it.”
Ginny nodded again, still dazed with disbelief, and managed to mumble, “Thanks.”
Nonplussed, Gwenog turned to leave, but after a few steps, she turned back to Ginny.
“You know, you reminded me of your brother out there.”
Ginny’s brow wrinkled in confusion, but then her expression cleared. “You mean Charlie?”
“That’s the one that plays with dragons, right?"
Ginny laughed, imagining her brother's response to the less than flattering description. “Yes, that’s Charlie. Did you know him at Hogwarts?”
"Yeah, sort of. He was a few years behind me." Gwenog tilted her head thoughtfully before she continued. "I always thought it was too bad he didn’t go pro. During my seventh year, the Gryffindor seeker, Lachlan, I think his name was, came down with Spattergroit two weeks before the last match. Charlie was their reserve; he played Seeker in the match against Slytherin. You move a lot like him.”
“He taught me to fly,” Ginny said with a fond smile, silently blessing her older brother and vowing to send him a lifetime supply of burn-healing paste.
“Thought that might be the case," Gwenog said with a smile. "I remember thinking he should have been first string that year, but Lachlan was the captain, and he wasn’t about to give up being Seeker to a second-year.”
“What happened during the game?” Ginny asked.
Gwenog smirked. “I knocked Charlie out."
"Oh no, really?"
"Yeah. The Bludger hit him just after he closed his hand around the Snitch, the little bugger.” She gave Ginny a wink and a wave before sauntering off toward the castle, where Professor Slughorn waited impatiently.
Ginny stared at the heavy, cream-colored envelope in her hands, which were shaking slightly. Her name was written across the front in an elegant green script. She was almost afraid to open it, for fear that it was empty and that she had imagined the entire conversation. She didn’t know how long she stood there holding it before Harry spoke over her shoulder.
“Ginny? Did I just see you talking to Gwenog Jones?”
Startled, she spun around, losing her footing in the process. Harry, his reflexes honed by nearly a year spent in training as an Auror, dropped into a crouch and caught her deftly before her bum hit the ground. Ginny's arms wrapped around his shoulders for balance, and she hung there for a moment, her back supported by his left arm, his right hand at her waist. Gazing up into his bright, green eyes, she began to feel the same fluttery, nervous feeling she’d felt earlier.
“Hi,” he said, giving her a bashful smile.
“Hi, yourself,” she returned.
The opportunity proved too much for even Harry, who had yet to overcome his natural shyness, to pass up. He pulled her up towards him and tentatively touched his lips to hers. Ginny responded enthusiastically, tightening her arms around his shoulders and losing herself in the kiss, paying no mind to the faint catcalls and whistles in the background. The last time she’d seen him had been Easter break; she’d missed him terribly. Without breaking the kiss, Harry stood upright and pulled her with him, sliding his arms around her waist with a hum of satisfaction as she stepped fully into his embrace. So caught up were they in each other that they failed to hear the Headmistress’s approach and discreet cough.
“Mr. Potter, I’ll thank you to unhand Miss Weasley,” Professor McGonagall said dryly.
Ginny quickly separated herself from Harry, relieved to see that the professor didn’t look angry, merely amused.
“Sorry, Professor,” she said, feeling sheepish.
Harry’s face was aflame, but he looked oddly pleased. Professor McGonagall failed to hide the smile that crept across her face as she looked at the two of them standing hand-in-hand.
“I believe you have a party waiting, Miss Weasley. You wouldn’t want to be late, would you?” she said gently before leaving them alone.
They began to walk toward the castle together in a companionable silence. Ginny was too overcome by the day's events to chat with him about the finer points of the match as she usually did. Harry seemed to notice. He gave her hand a light tug, pulling her close enough that he could wrap his arm around her waist as they walked.
“Why so quiet?” he asked finally.
“It’s just… everything,” she said. “The match, you, and this.”
She offered him the envelope, and he took it without a word, flipping it over to note the imprinted sealing wax on the back. He gave a low whistle.
“Then that really was…”
“Yes, Harry. That really was Gwenog Jones.”
Harry was silent for a moment. Then he grinned slyly.
“You know, scuttlebutt has it the Harpies are looking for a Seeker.”
Ginny’s jaw dropped.
“How did you know?” she demanded. “Gwenog said they haven’t even released it to the press yet!”
“I have my sources,” Harry said mysteriously. “So why haven’t you opened it?” he asked, indicating the envelope with a nod.
“Honestly, I was afraid to,” Ginny said shakily. “I was a little worried I might have imagined the whole thing.”
“May I?” Harry asked.
Ginny nodded. They stopped walking, and she faced him as he broke the seal on the envelope. It immediately reshaped itself into the form of a large bird and began to speak.
Miss Ginevra Weasley,
It is our pleasure to invite you to the Holyhead Harpies’ tryouts for the position of Seeker beginning Monday, 5 July, 1999, at 8 a.m., for a period of five days. All necessary accommodations and equipment will be provided, including a world-class racing broom, in order to ensure that all candidates begin on equal footing. If selected, you will be asked to sign a contract for a period of no less than one year. The try out is closed to the public; however, you may bring one guest. We hope to see you there.
Gwenog Jones for The Holyhead Harpies
Ginny breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn’t imagined it; the Harpies really were looking at her for Seeker. The Harpies.
She looked over at Harry, who was smiling widely.
“It’s just an invitation to try out,” she said weakly. “Gwenog said I’m the youngest of the candidates. The rest of them have probably played professionally before. They’re probably already reserves for some of the other teams; they’ll have experience and be loads better than me. And I’ve never flown on a world-class racing broom. What if I fall off? It’s not like I really have a shot--” she broke off as Harry pressed his finger to her lips to shush her.
“Of course you do,” he admonished gently, “Gwenog wouldn’t have delivered it herself if you hadn’t. And I believe in you,” he added, smiling warmly.
Ginny’s breath caught.
“Really?” she said. She could have died at the sappy hitch in her voice, but the way Harry was looking at her made her want to hurl herself at him all over again. Unfortunately, Professor McGonagall was watching them from the castle doors.
“Yep,” Harry said, nodding. His eyes shifted towards the castle, then he gave her a wicked grin and kissed her quickly anyway. He tucked the note into his back pocket and slipped his arm around her waist once more, giving the professor a wave as they began walking together toward the castle.
“Besides, you’re pretty much a shoo-in,” he said casually, after they had been walking for a few moments.
“Why’s that?” Ginny asked.
“Simple,” he said with a smirk. “You’re the only candidate whose name begins with a G.”