“Leave off, he looks like he’s going to chunder on the floor as it is.”
“Rookies.” Jenkins said with a sarcastic snort as he returned to polishing his Beater’s Bat.
Sure, I might feel like a raging herd of Nifflers are digging around in my stomach for something shiny, but it could be worse. I actually could be sick. And, well…best not to think like that right now.
I look over at Joey Jenkins, Beater; what’s he thinking? Yeah, I’m a rookie, so what of it? What was it the Prophet said, The Boy Who Lived, The Man Who Saved, and The Player in His First Match. Who the heck makes this stuff up? I guess there was already a line on He Who Lost His Breakfast On His Broom Before His First Match.
Actually, that really doesn’t sound all that glamorous even if it is true. Luna would have been able to come up with something interesting. No one would have really understood it, mind you. But it certainly would have been more interesting. I should have asked her back on…wow. It’s been months since I have seen anyone, ever since Tommy-Boy went boom and his black little heart stopped beating for good. Training has been my life. I’ve actually seen people, they just have all been my teammates.
I knew I wanted a break after the Horcrux hunt and defeat of Voldemort. I was pretty sick of fighting, so being an Auror was out. Teaching could have been fun, but there were a few too many memories at Hogwarts, and well… a certain…female, that kept me from wanting to return there.
Oh. boy. She is going to be here today. Actually, I think… well, lots of people are going to be here today. Dorkins told me that this game had been sold out for… well, almost as soon as we announced my signing. No pressure there, I guess. Oh! Wow, I didn’t know my stomach could do that. Why for all that is magical in the world did I decide to play Quidditch?
“Oi, listen up you apes. I could make a pretty speech if I wanted, but you all know I can’t. So instead, I just want you to go out, play smart, keep your heads up and let’s win us a match. I want you to forget about the fact that we are playing in front of a full house. Forget about the fact that we are playing against Puddlemere or that we are breaking in a new Seeker. Today the professional leagues kick off the first post-war season. Potter!”
“Sir?!” Blast it, did my voice have to croak right then? Bugger, this is not going well. I think I might be sick. But if I am sick, I might miss the start of the match. I might miss…seeing her.
“Yeah, I mean, yes.” Hermione would be rather miffed at me for lying to my nice manager with a ‘somewhat’ strait face. Strangely enough, I am not sure he actually believes me. Sigh. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had just spent several months post-Voldie training like an animal, I might give some serious thought to taking the Snorkacks in my stomach out for a walk in the bathroom.
I tuned out Ragmar Dorkins as I continue to ponder what possessed me to play professional Quidditch. Well, if the choice was between Ministry service, teaching, or playing professional Quidditch, I mean, what do you think a young guy would do if he had a choice? Granted, it all seemed so fun and exciting when I signed the contract, only to spend the next several months in training. Training more then ten hours a day, more then twelve hours lots of days, and, heck, even training some more just for fun.
The end result of all this is that I’m skinny as a rail, but I have all these brilliant muscles, or so this one witch said when she walked into the shower the other day. Thankfully, she was here to visit her “friend” but honestly, she scared me a little the way she was looking at me. It was similar to the look of longing I saw on Hagrid’s face when he saw the dragons before the first task in the Triwizard Tournament. A comment I heard said to Dudley once when he spent too long staring at an attractive young woman ripped through my head, “I am not some piece of meat.” Actually it’s probably a good thing she wasn’t a piece of meat or Dudley might have eaten her right then and there.
Seriously, you never know about Dudley! I mean, I’ve never actually seen him eat human before. But put something in front of him at dinner, really…you never know what could have happened!
You know, now that I have actually thought about it some, I might have had a similar look on my face the last time I visited the Burrow and I saw her… erm… Ginny heading to the family pond in her bathing costume. She didn’t see me, fortunately. I’d Apparated into the grove far enough away to not set off any wards, when I saw her come out of the house. By the time she left my view, I think it took me five minutes to get my head working again.
I never would have been able to talk to her again if we had run into each other. When sensibility finally returned to my brain, and my body could function, sort of, I convinced myself to go and watch over her in the pond. Out of her sight, but not mine. She clearly wanted some alone time, but really she shouldn’t have been out there outside of my view, I mean, alone. Really, even with Voldemort gone, times are dangerous. She needed to be watched. Over. Watched over, by me, I mean, you know, by someone – for her own safety.
“Uh?” Oh, Dorkins looks… angry, well, actually, more like raging-hippogriff-furious and unfortunately he’s looking at me. “Um, sir?”
“Potter! Are you sure you’re okay? No! Don’t answer that, I just don’t want to know, you are flying today even if you hurl on the Snitch. Just catch it first!” He glanced around, coldly furious now. “And you, Jenkins, why did you have to haze Potter today of all days?” He waved his hands at us in futility before glancing at the clock on the wall. “Alright, it’s time, get on your game robes and grab your brooms. Be in the tunnel in five minutes.”
With that, our manager left and the team sprang into action. Well, most of the team sprang into action. I sat on the bench with leaden feet, seriously starting to wonder if I could even bring myself to leave the locker room. As the rest of the team scrabbled around tossing on their robes, I sat rigidly in my seat, my focus firmly on my feet. As I could hear the team banging out through the door into the tunnel, I realized that it would almost be worse if I didn’t do something. I forced my wooden body into moving, grabbing and pulling on the robes that hit my hand. Slowly I stumbled out into the tunnel and stood behind the broad backs of my Beaters. Can it get any hotter? I wonder to myself.
“Potter, you cheeky prat, is there any particular reason why you’re wearing your winter robes as opposed to the summer set?” Dorkins simply shook his head and glanced over to my mentor, Galvin Gudgeon. “Gudgeon, take Potter back into the dressing room and help him get sorted.”
“Come on, let’s go, Potter.” In an instant, all the tension in my body left as I idly wondered if my professional debut could somehow go any worse. I limply allowed myself be led back into the dressing room. Gudgeon reached into my locker and pulled out the right set of robes. “Come on, Harry, shuck out of those robes, let’s get you all sorted out here.” He handed me the proper robe then stepped back a few feet and leaned against a locker will keeping me under a constant gaze.
“I remember my first professional match, Harry. I actually put on the away robes for our home opener. Look, mate, first off, I’m actually kind of glad to be handing over the reigns to you. I have played enough and fought off too many Bludgers to want to keep playing competitively. You know, especially not when my kids are growing like they have an Expansion Charm on them. I only have one season left on my contract, and then I’m going to retire. I was actually ready to retire this year, but Dorky Dorkins asked me to stay on to bring you up to speed.”
“I have seen you fly, Harry, and the last thing you should be worrying about is the match. In fact, all of our scouting reports pointed out that nerves were not much of a problem for you, not like your friend Ron. What really has got you all worked up?”
An image of brown eyes and glorious red hair appeared before me. I quickly shook it off, or… well, tried to. “I…” It’s not like I have ever been open with my lovelife, or lack of said lovelife, and I am not sure that I want to start with Gudgeon. “Sorry, I’ll be… I mean, I’m fine.”
“So it’s a girl, huh?” I couldn’t resist my quick glance over at him.
Gah! There is no way it’s that obvious, is it?
“Don’t worry, Harry, it’s not that obvious.”
“Ok, now I know I am being really obvious. Or is Gudgeon using Legilimency against me?”
“I’m not using Legilimency against you, Harry.”
“Alright, hold up there. How did you know about that last part, then?”
“You said it out loud.”
“I did?” Ok, I’m really confused.
Gudgeon laughed. “Harry, relax, alright? I’m not a Legilimens and you are not really that obvious. Look, mate, go out and enjoy yourself, get the Snitch and worry about the lassie when the match is over.”
He glanced over at the corner. “Come on, sounds like the WWN is about to come off of commercial. You really want to fly onto the pitch with your team for your first professional match.”
In my case of nerves, I had failed to even notice that the Wizarding Wireless had been carrying the pre-game show in the corner of our locker room. With a surge of adrenaline, I shot to my feet with my trusty Firebolt in hand. “Let’s do this.”
“Brilliant! That’s the spirit! Let’s go beat these guys so you can find your bonnie lass later.” He gave me a sly look. “You know that witches do love their Quidditch players.” He broke into hearty laughter as we walked up the tunnel.
Laugh it up, big guy, I thought. This is one witch who does love her Quidditch players, but that’s because she loves the sport. And, well, she is one brilliant Chaser, besides.
In no time, I was standing at the head of the tunnel with a wave of sound rolling around me. There was a fussy witch from the WWN holding up her fingers and counting down. At three, she went quiet and finished with her just her fingers before pointing at me. Silence. No one had actually told me what to do at this moment, so the awkward silence probably has something to do with me. And there are lots of people staring at me, too.
“Blimey, Harry, you’re supposed to take off and lead the team onto the pitch!”
Well, there is nothing to it. I kicked off the ground and flew into a raging torrent of sound. I think the P.A. announcer was saying something but I could not hear it through the din. At least being up in the air with the cool wind blowing across my face is soothing some of my worries. Ok, to be honest, having the wind in my face eases the nausea. I mean, it could be worse, like chundering on a bunch of people in the stands? That would be bad.
Speaking of bad, I guess, by the small eruptions of fireworks over in that one section of stands, I will find some Weasleys. Weasley twins to be exact. Yep, there they are in all their glory and some security wizards giving them a dressing down. It wouldn’t be a Quidditch match if Fred and George weren’t causing some kind of ruckus.
I slowed down as I flew over to wave to everyone in the box: Mr. and Mrs. Weasley with Percy, Bill, and – hey, Charlie made it! That’s brilliant! There’s Ron, and he looks like he is going to explode, with Hermione already looking scared, and…Ginny. Wow.
Alrighty then, enough gawking, I need to get out of there. Ginny looks amazing. It’s not fair, it isn’t! I was just about ready to play and now I am all worried about her again. I will be seeing her after the match.
Bleck. Ew – back wash is just not good. Wait, the teams are lining up. Time to land.
Even as I’m standing here, I still feel my eyes drawn to her brilliant scarlet locks and her flashing brown eyes. Oh. She just smiled at me and I have no more stomach, just a bunch of butterflies. Still positives here, at least I don’t have to worry about landing my breakfast square on the referee’s boots. Wait, why is she putting her leg up on the railing and pulling the leg of her jeans back? She has on some boots…snake-skin boots?
Ah! Nagini boots, to be exact. Well, what did you expect? Ginny went after that snake like no one’s business. I mean. go figure, Voldemort, snake, and Ginny. Well. let’s just say Nagini lost that fight rather spectacularly. Then she went and had some boots made out of her skin. How brilliant is that? She is just the most amazing and wonderful witch in the world. That’s why I love her.
Yes, I do love her! Isn’t that amazing? I guess a dose of honesty with yourself is helpful, because as the teams take to the air, I feel wonderful. I should have just ‘fessed up years ago!
Although that would have been entirely too easy to come out and tell her I love her. It is much easier to hide behind the (not so) tall, silent and moody hero bit. Blimey, it’s a good thing I never used that line around Ginny, I would have seriously been injured for that one. The name is Potter, Harry Potter. See, it even makes me laugh. Or maybe that was some excess good emotion because I just got the Puddlemere Seeker ploughed.
That move definitely warrants a low fly-by the Weasley box so I can smile at Ginny. Breaking up was for the best. If I keep telling myself that, I might even believe it. What an utter prat I was. Still, she is here, still looking amazing and with a rather determined glint in her eyes as she is watching me play.
I really really need to catch this Snitch fast.
Ginny found herself increasing caught up in the excitement of the pre-match festivities. The announcer was going through the starting players for the Cannons and she found herself screaming loudly with the rest of her family and everyone else at the pitch when Harry was introduced.
He had the same shy, hang-dog look he nearly always had in his pictures. It was a look that was both guaranteed to make her smile indulgently and flush in warmth. The final war with Voldemort had been rough. Still, it was a war which Harry managed to win, to no one’s great surprise. Well, maybe not everyone, but it wasn’t to her surprise. He is Harry Potter, after all. For awhile there, he had been her Harry. She could feel the heat in her cheeks and the smile on her face. She really liked the sound of that.
The energy and excitement in the crowd became feverish as they waited for the players to emerge from the tunnel. She had heard from Ron earlier that Harry was in fact going to be starting. There he was! Before she knew it, she was on her feet screaming with everyone else and trying to ignore the racket of the twins’ fireworks going off.
Harry spun around the pitch before making a slow pass near their box. “Is that all that’s left?” Fred asked behind her.
At the same time, she heard Ron squeal like a little girl. “I can’t stand it any longer!”
She fought to ignore George’s response and the teasing Bill and Charlie were giving Ron about his girl-like squeal. Yes, her family was altogether, including the black-haired wizard on a broom, Harry.
As Harry made his slow pass, she noticed something in his eyes…something feral. It was a look she thought she recognized from the common room following that Quidditch match not so long ago. When Harry had burst through the door and given her that look, she was amazed. Harry wanted her. It was still something amazing to her. Ginny had never considered the possibility. Harry wanted her! And judging by the look in his eyes, he wanted her again.
She did not miss the constant looks he threw at her as he lined up with his teammates. Wow. All she could think was, he better catch this Snitch fast.
The shadows changed around the stadium as the game progressed. Unfortunately for Ginny and Harry, he did not make a quick catch, but in the end he did finish up catching the Snitch. As the celebration raged in the players club after the match, Ginny found herself getting more and more wound up. She even snapped at Hermione when she came to ask what was wrong. The knowing smirk she got for her effort from the bushy-haired girlfriend of her nearest brother annoyed her even more.
It’s not like she is showing she is anxious over seeing Harry. Is she? All rational thought flew from her mind when he showed up. He hadn’t seen her yet, so it gave her a chance to see his messy hair, still damp from his shower. She loved him. Really, really earth-moving, Patronus-casting type love. She loved him.
Their eyes met and, like a magnet, they were both together in an instant. Lips locked and bodies merged into one together. Cheers raced around the room, giving the jubilant crowd something beside Harry’s catch to cheer about. Harry caught the Snitch…and the girl, in his first professional match.
Later the press would write that, despite the brilliant and amazing flying of the Cannons’ new Seeker, his skill was not enough to bring home the win. They still are the Chudley Cannons, after all.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Many thanks goes out to Sherry the amazing Beta. If you like the story, please let her know too, because it was, shall we say, not so good before she got her hands on it. Thanks again for taking the time to read.