Harry and Ginny walked into the team room, hand in hand, for the start of the week’s practices. The team had to get ready for the Bulgarians and Coach Jones wasn’t sitting still.
Ginny gripped his arm tightly as they sat. Even though it had been a few days since the blow up at the press conference, Ginny was reluctant to let Harry get far from her sight or her touch.
Although she had forbidden Harry to even consider speaking to the Minister about it again, Harry thought that probably wasn’t a realistic scenario. However, he realized how emotional she was regarding the issue and decided not to bring it up. They would cross whatever bridges appeared before them together, and besides, Harry thought that Ginny trying to protect him was endearing. His entire life most people, including his friends in the Order, had pushed him toward danger and battle. It was a nice change of pace to have someone want to protect him for once.
A warm feeling washed over Harry as he looked down and brushed some of her hair out of her face as they made their way to their seats.
“Sit down, everyone!” Coach Jones yelled as he strode into the room, eyes flashing, and carrying his trusty clipboard.
“As you know, we are facing last year’s Cup Champions and one of the best Quidditch teams of all time. It will take work and dedication for us to beat this team, but I know we can do it!”
Harry glanced at Ginny and she rolled her eyes in response. Coach Jones’s motivational speeches were always a little cheesy.
“I think I’ve found a way for us to get an advantage,” Coach Jones said, smiling wickedly at his team. “I’ve been in discussions with WWN/W3 networks and they’ve managed to record several of the Bulgarian games. We’ll be able to watch them here in the team room and plot out strategies. It’s not against the rules, but this is top secret!” Jones glared at his players.
“Potter!” Jones yelled as Harry was looking at Ginny and not paying attention. “Pay attention! We’re going to start with the Seeker, Viktor Krum.”
Coach Jones pointed his wand at the MirrorVision in the corner of the team room, and it came to life focusing on Viktor Krum as he swooped around the pitch.
“As you can se...POTTER!” Coach Jones screamed in frustration as Harry was again ogling Ginny as she sat next to him. “For Merlin’s sake, pay attention!”
“Sorry, Coach,” Harry shrugged, not taking his eyes off Ginny. “The view is just so much nicer in this direction.”
Ginny blushed furiously at Harry’s comment, but didn’t seem upset.
“Harry,” Ginny said loudly into the silence, reaching out with her hand and turning his face toward the Coach, “pay attention to the nice man now and you’ll get a reward later.”
The entire roam broke out in groans, as Ginny’s meaning was clear.
“Barf!” William Hastings said making a gagging sound.
Ginny stuck her tongue out at him and then turned her attention to Coach Jones, whose face was approaching apocalyptic shades of purple.
Still holding Harry’s face forward with her hand she looked at the Coach primly. “Go ahead, Coach, I’ll make sure he pays attention.”
Coach Jones threw his hands up, mumbling about immature players and hormones. He visibly gathered himself and glared at Harry, then restarted the video.
“As I was saying, you can clearly see what and aggressive flyer Krum is here, Potter. He may be as agile as you on a broom and look at this segment,” the video changed to show Viktor Krum shooting past some defenders. “He looks to be as fast or faster than you.”
Harry leaned forward, actually paying attention now.
“But as you can see from this clip,” Jones continued, pointing to various parts of the Mirror, “he has a tendency to fake right on the inside and it seems like you can tell his fake dives by the way his right shoulder moves. Do you see it?” Jones asked, glancing at Harry. “He doesn’t do that in his real dives for the Snitch. Now about the Chaser play…”
The next few days were interesting for the team. With the detailed video, they were able to prepare for their opponent like never before. The final day before the game, Coach Jones let them off with just a walk through practice early in the morning and not a full scrimmage.
After the walk through was over, Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand and pulled her to the middle of the pitch.
Standing there, he looked around at the stadium, and then shyly smiled at her.
“It’s really hard to believe that I’m here, that we’re here,” Harry said to her softly. “Just over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I was even going to be alive.” Harry pulled her to him and gathered her in his arms. “Most of my friends had been killed and I…” Harry trailed off and kissed her gently.
Ginny buried her head in chest and just let him talk. She instinctively knew that he needed to get his feelings out in the open.
“If you had told me then, that in eighteen months, I would be here, doing this with you in my arms, I would have sent you to St. Mungo’s permanent spell damage ward.”
“It’s just amazing.”
Ginny waited, and after several seconds of silence looked up in Harry’s eyes, which were suspiciously shiny.
“But you’re happy, right, Harry?” she asked gently.
“Very,” Harry said softly. “It’s more — you’re more — than I had ever hoped for myself.”
“Just think, Harry,” Ginny said, “Tomorrow we’ll be World Champions. Does it get any better than that?”
Harry smiled, and gazed at her wistfully. “It could.”
“How could it be better than that?” Ginny asked with genuine confusion.
“We could be engaged…” Harry trailed off, turning red.
Ginny froze as she stifled her first instinct, which was to laugh. She knew that Harry would never forgive her for that mistake.
Ginny reached up and caressed his face. “Love, don’t you think it’s a little early for that?”
“I don’t know,” Harry shrugged. “I feel like my life’s always gone fast, probably because I thought I would die young. It doesn’t feel that way to me, but maybe you’re right.”
“Harry,” Ginny said, kissing him, “I love you, don’t doubt that, but there is plenty of time for us. Your danger days are over.”
Around lunch time, Harry and Ginny made their way down the men’s stairs, heading to the lunch area, when Coach Jones appeared in front of them and grabbed Harry by the arm.
“Potter, I need you to come to my office right away, it’s an emergency,” he said, his face pale and drawn.
“Sure, Coach,” Harry said. “Ginny, do you want to go on to lunch and I can meet you later?” Harry asked, turning toward her.
Ginny bit her lip in hesitation, glancing between the two men. “Actually, Harry, I would like to come with you if that’s all right with you.”
“It’s fine with me,” Harry said loudly, overriding the objection that was clearly forming on their Coach’s lips. “Let’s go.”
Harry and Ginny followed Coach Jones into his office and stopped when they recognized several of the people in the room.
Minister Shacklebolt stood facing the window and Ginny’s brother, Ron, sat in one of the chairs in the corner. The head of the Auror division, Gray Gothrin, was also seated in another chair. All three men looked tense.
“No! This is not happening!” Ginny shouted when she realized what the meeting was about, glaring at everyone in the room.
“Ginny,” Harry said to her, gripping her hand tightly. “Let’s just hear them out — we can always make our own decisions after they tell us what brought them here.”
Ginny continued glaring at everyone, causing Ron to turn even paler when she fixed him with a stare, as Harry guided her into one of the remaining chairs. Harry stayed standing, and addressed the Minister directly.
“All right, Kingsley, you’ve got my attention. What’s going on?”
Kingsley turned and looked sadly at Harry.
“Harry, we’ve got a major problem. We’ve discovered that Darby plans to attack the World Cup game here in London as a way to announce herself to the World. She seems to think it will tie memories back to the Death Eaters’ attack three years ago and give her legitimacy.”
Harry sat down heavily next to Ginny and gave her a worried glance.
“What are you planning to do about it?” Harry asked him.
“We’ve still been unable to stop her ourselves,” the Head Auror spoke up. “We’re basically down to two options: try and stop her now, before the game, or cancel the Cup.”
Ron gave a sympathetic look to Ginny. “We can’t allow an attack to occur again so soon after Tom Riddle was killed. The world is just now starting to trust the British Ministry — it would be disastrous.”
“I’m assuming you’re here,” Harry said after a moment of silence, “because you want to take her out before the game and you want me to help.”
At Harry’s words, Ginny gripped his arm so tightly that it began to hurt, but she remained silent.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to face her,” Kingsley said softly. “The longer we wait, the stronger she’ll get.”
Harry looked at the grief-etched lines of the Minister’s face. “There’s more you’re not telling me, isn’t there? Let’s just get it out on the table.”
Kingsley sat down next to Harry and put his hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“We know where her location is,” Kingsley said quietly. “We got one of our Aurors accepted into Darby’s group. She managed to get the location and pass it on to us just before she was discovered and killed.”
Kingsley swallowed sharply. “Harry, I don’t know how to say this other than just right out and tell you: Tonks is dead.”
Harry stared at the Minister for several seconds, the words not making sense in his head. Finally, realization crashed down and Harry almost fell out of his chair as he suddenly became dizzy and weak.
“What? How?” he begged, hanging on to Ginny now for support.
“We don’t know how they found out who she was, but somehow they did. It was over quickly, before we could intervene. Darby did it herself.”