At breakfast in the Great Hall, a tiny reddish-coloured Scops owl appeared, bringing two letters from the official Wizarding post office. The letters were so heavy that the poor owl collapsed in a heap on the table. Ginny absentmindedly fed the poor thing a sausage and looked at the letters. One was in an envelope with Harry’s tell-tale scratching of her name and Hogwarts Castle. The other was in a large scroll with an official Golden Talon seal on green wax.
Golden Talon seal? Green wax? Ginny’s heart raced like mad as she stuffed Harry’s letter, which she was anxious to read, in her rucksack and then opened the scroll. Thinking that her entire future rested on what was within the letter, to her surprise the parchment rolled all the way down to the floor.
Miss Ginevra Weasley, we are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to play for the Holyhead Harpies in the 1999-2000 season.
Ginny squealed and jumped up, giggling, barely breathing and doing a happy dance on her toes. I’m a Harpy, I’m a Harpy! she thought and then another small squeal escaped her and she jumped up and down again, grasping the parchment in both hands.
“Good news?” Jack Edgewater grinned at her from the other side of the toast rack and pumpkin juice flagons.
“What’s the parchment for, Ginny?” Meredith asked. She and Jack were sitting together cosily across the bench, sharing the Daily Prophet.
“I made it! I’ve been accepted to play for the Harpies!” she exclaimed happily, holding the parchment above her head. A shower of clapping and congratulations followed from her classmates sitting nearby.
“Ginny, that’s amazing!” Meredith beamed. Jack gave her a high five across the table. He was still waiting for a letter but, obviously, from the look on his face, his had not come yet.
“It’s all right, Jack, you’ll get yours soon,” Jeremy, the Seeker, said as he plunked onto the bench next to Ginny. “They’re probably all coming in this morning. I can’t wait to be able to try out for the league.” And just then an owl swooped down and tossed a letter into Jack’s lap.
“It’s…It’s from Wimbourne.” Jack looked up with awe.
“Wimbourne!” Meredith shrieked and kissed him on the cheek. Judging by the size of his parchment scroll, he had been accepted, too.
Jack confirmed his acceptance onto the Wasps (Keeper, rookie squad) and Ginny read her position aloud (Chaser, second string). After the celebratory cheers and pumpkin juice toasts at the Gryffindor table, she looked up to see Professor McGonagall walking towards them. She smiled and asked to see Ginny’s parchment roll. Ginny tossed her pigtails, one over each shoulder.
“Congratulations, Miss Weasley.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
McGonagall handed back the parchment. “I trust that this won’t get in the way of your motivation to revise for NEWTs. You may still need your good marks one day.” She winked and strode out of the Great Hall.
Ginny thought about McGonagall’s comments for a moment, but the thoughts disappeared as she rolled up the parchment scroll, eager to go and write to Harry and her mum. She had almost forgotten she had a letter from Harry! She was happy to see a letter from him just two days after she had arrived back at school from the hols. Their dinner at The Burrow last Friday night had gone exceptionally well, and Ginny mused on the time they had spent together. They hadn’t talked about the status of their relationship or trust or rules, and she hadn’t wanted to. She just wanted to talk to him, laugh with him, and enjoy the time they had together, and they had a great time. He had brought over a few of the latest fireworks from the joke shop, her favourite of which had created a series of spinning lights in the sky. Otherwise, they had dinner with her parents. They had gone for the fly they had spoken about and they were back to talking about anything and everything. At the end, to her surprise, he kissed her on the cheek before he Apparated away.
She thought that their newly improved communication via letters would be good for them and their rekindled relationship. She wasn’t sure when they would see each other again, because they hadn’t made plans or talked about it. She did think that he would be at her last Quidditch match of the year, which was coming up in the last weekend of April, and she found herself looking forward to seeing him again very much.
Ginny rolled up the parchment and made her way to the dormitories for her free period to read Harry’s letter and to write to her mum about the Harpies. With a giant smile on her face, she glided through the portrait hole and flung herself onto the sofa in front of the fireplace.
11 April, 1999
Hope your first day back to school isn’t so bad. I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of revising and homework now that you’re only two months away from NEWTs. I hope you find time to focus on other, more pleasant activities like practicing for your last match of the year.
It was good to see you last weekend and on Friday. I may not have mentioned it again after Sunday, but I can’t stop thinking about your Patronus. It’s really good. Very strong and fast and really very beautiful. I’m glad I was able to help you remember how to harness your power into the spell. You’re very good at it and you didn’t really need me at all, but I liked playing along.
Also, flying with you was ace. I couldn’t remember the last time I was up on a broom for fun, and it was that same thrill I had as a kid. I felt eleven all over again. Thank you for reminding me that I can loosen up and have some fun, and do everything I used to enjoy before the war. From now on, I’ll be flying with Ron at least once a week at The Burrow, even if just to toss some Quaffles through the rings. George even said that, next time, he would come and have a two-a-side match with us. Ron said he would invite Bill, too, so it can be evenly matched and should be fun if we can get that going. The only thing that would make it more fun is to have you on my team. It will be summer before we know it, hopefully.
I start work again tomorrow, and I’m nervous and thrilled by it, too. I suspect the other blokes in my unit may be wary of me for running off. I hope they aren’t, and I hope they understand, but I’m not expecting this to be easy. I know it might seem soon to others, but I couldn’t sit at home anymore. I plan to work twice as hard to prove myself now that I’m back and I know I belong at the Academy. Being an Auror is what I’ve always wanted, and I’m determined. I know I’ll enjoy the busyness of the day-to-day, and having something to get up for. I realized weeks ago that I missed having something productive to do with my time, but… can I be honest? It may sound stupid but, in some ways, I’m glad I had the break I did. Sometimes you need to step away from your life to realize how lucky you are to have what you have going for you. And I think it’s partially like taking the hard days you have as a sort of blessing, you know? That at least I’m alive now, fit, and able to work hard and accomplish my goals.
Let me know how you are. —Harry
Ginny folded the letter and put it down. She didn’t know what to write back, but his letter had made her miss him so damn much.
“What are you doing, Ginny?” Hermione sat next to her on the sofa. Her book bag made a loud, dull sound as it dropped to the floor.
”Nothing. Guess what! I’m a Harpy, Hermione! Read!” She dug in her book bag and shoved the parchment scroll she had received that morning into her friend’s hands.
Hermione read the letter, and Ginny tucked her feet under her and mused on Harry’s letter until she was interrupted.
“Erm… Ginny, did you read this carefully?”
Ginny shook her head. “No. Why?”
Hermione pointed to a line somewhere in the fine print. Ginny looked down at the scroll of parchment, zeroing in on paragraph fifty-two of the contract she was supposed to sign and send back within two weeks.
Harpies players are not allowed to have romantic relationships during the season that are not within the bounds of matrimony.
Ginny snatched the parchment back from her friend, and read paragraph fifty-two aloud. Therefore, if she wanted to be in a relationship with Harry, they had to be married or they couldn’t date in season. How ridiculous! This last month waiting for Quidditch team tryouts and then waiting to hear back had left her so exhausted. And now she had this to worry about? Did it ever end?
“What would Harry say if I showed him this?” Ginny wondered out loud, unable to stop staring at paragraph fifty-two of the parchment. Of course, she and Harry weren’t together now, not really, but that didn’t make any difference. They would be closer to working out their issues by this summer for certain and it wasn’t difficult to believe that they would reconcile sooner than that. She wanted to play for the Harpies, but she wanted the option of having a boyfriend, her boyfriend, too. Why oh why did this need to be so complicated? Ginny looked at her friend for answers.
Hermione smiled. “He would be happy that you were even considering him and he would say in that noble way of his that he would wait for you as long as you needed.”
Ginny giggled. “That’s Harry, isn’t it?”
“That’s Harry. Ron would probably take the parchment and tear it into a million bits.” Hermione’s lips turned a smile, and she started giggling also. “I’m sorry, Ginny, I know this can’t be an easy decision for you.”
“Bloody hell! Can’t anything be easy? Am I the only one who thinks the rule is so ridiculously stupid? Harry and I are light years from being married, and besides, I have no desire to marry him right out of Hogwarts! At least, not anymore.”
“You did think it would happen that way?” Hermione asked.
“Once. I did want it to…” she admitted, looking at the fire grate. “I quickly realized that wouldn’t be the case sometime around last September. And now, after everything we’ve been through, I think it was a ridiculous idea to begin with. Harry’s just starting out his life after the war, and I’m trying to build a Quidditch career, and I know from experience that we both have a lot of growing up to do before we’re ready to be married!” She buried her face in her hands. “Please tell me you and Ron aren’t planning an August wedding.”
“No, Ginny. I know I eventually plan to marry Ron, but I don’t want to get married until I’m in my twenties!”
“Ahem.” Ginny did her best impression of Umbridge. “Are you not going to be twenty this September?”
“Yes, but I mean, later in my twenties. At least three or four years from now! After NEWTs, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I would like to work for the Ministry, and I know Ron has a long way to go before he figures out what he wants to do with his life. All I’m saying is… we’re young. We have time. Ginny, might I remind you of something?”
“You — and Harry — share a certain quality that Professor McGonagall might call ‘complete disregard for the rules’. Since when have rules mattered to you?”
A light went off in Ginny’s head at that moment. “Rules? Sod rules!” She jumped up on the sofa in her socked feet. “I’m Fred and George’s sister, am I not?”
Hermione shook her head, laughing.
“And silly rules are meant to be broken.” Of course, except if they’r