"Ready," she replied, throwing an old Gryffindor scarf around her shoulders. They twisted away from each other, away from the cosy kitchen, into the pressing darkness and emerged seconds later on the bustling main street of Hogsmeade. Ginny seized Harry's hand and pulled him up the street.
They walked on in silence for a few minutes, bypassing busy shops and returning greetings to parents who said hello. Outside Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, the bumped into Neville.
"Neville!" exclaimed Ginny in surprise, "Hi! How are you?"
"Fine," he beamed at them both. "How are you? Come to see the Quidditch Final?"
"Yes," said Harry, "How do you think they'll do?"
"Excellently, of course! They'll win, don't you worry about it!"
"I'm not," Harry told him. "I'm just happy to come and see the kids play Quidditch. Ginny, however," he lowered his voice, mocking his wife, "is getting very competitive. I think she'll decapitate the kids if we lose!"
"Oi!" she half-heartedly hit him on the arm, peering over Neville's shoulder distractedly, up the street. "I am here you know! Anyway, shouldn't we get going? It's twenty to eleven."
"Oh – yes. Are you coming Neville?"
"Just going to pick up some new quills – all mine have been buried in the greenhouses, thanks to my delightful first years! I'll be up in time for the match, though," he assured them.
"Ok," said Harry cheerfully, "See you later!"
Ginny then promptly dragged Harry away from Neville, past Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.
"Wait," Harry tugged on her hand. "What about George? I thought he was coming with us."
"Oh yes, of course!"
"I'll be quick," he told her as he dropped her hand and dashed inside the cramped shop. "George! George!" he called over the heads of excited parents, pushing his way through the crowds.
"I'm here – I'm coming!" said a voice, and George emerged from nowhere, clutching a stack of boxes.
"Ginny's getting stressed," Harry told him.
"K. Thanks, Verity!" George yelled over his shoulder, dropping the boxes into an empty barrel and following Harry out of the shop.
"C'mon, c'mon! Let's go!" Ginny was hopping from one foot to the other. She darted away through the crowds as soon as she saw Harry and George, who hurried after her.
It was only by keeping his eyes on the occasional glimpse of bright red that Harry was able to track her. After a few minutes, the three of them found their way off the main street, to the road that led to the Hogwarts gate, and Harry was able to run on without any impediments.
"Whoa, slow up, Ginny!" Harry called, running to catch her hand.
"But we're going to be late!"
"Of course we're not, don't be stupid, it's only quarter to. George is struggling to keep up!" The two turned to see George come to a halt beside them, panting.
"Oh, sorry," said Ginny, her eyes suddenly softer.
"S'all right," George gasped. "Don't wanna be late!" and with that he straightened up. "C'mon, then!" He strode off.
Rolling her eyes at Harry, Ginny followed her older brother.
"'Spect James is gutted not to be playing, isn't he?" George asked as they approached the gates.
"You could say that," muttered Harry.
"He sent us about four owls when he got told he was banned," Ginny explained to George, "asking us to appeal to Neville!"
George grinned. "Well, I have to say I'd have done the same if it was me – parents like you two, it'd be silly not to ask, wouldn't it? So what did you do?"
"Didn't reply," said Harry. "Oh, look, there he is!" he said catching sight of his eldest son standing moodily by the gates.
"Took your time," James muttered moodily, slouching towards them.
"Well, hello, James! How lovely to see you! We're fine, thanks for asking!" exclaimed Ginny sarcastically, hugging her son. "Merlin, I do feel small next to you!" she said as James towered over her, and then, peering up into his face, declared, "You need a haircut. It's getting ridiculous - I can't actually see you eyes!"
"God forbid!" said James in an undertone, twitching his sweep of dark red hair out of his face, so Harry could just see his brown eyes. "Mum, you're turning into Grandma! All right, Dad?"
"Never better!" Harry beamed at him as they walked towards the Quidditch stadium together.
"Why didn't you reply to my letters, Dad?" moaned James, as soon as they were out of earshot of George and Ginny.
"Because you were rightly punished!" Harry told him.
"Rightly punished?" squawked James, coming to an abrupt halt.
"Yes," Harry told him patiently.
"But – he – he –!" James stuttered. "I can't believe – I mean, I knew Mum wasn't going to go and ask Neville to let me off, but you, Dad, you! You were banned from Quidditch – you know how it feels!"
"Yes," said Harry, "but the difference was, I was banned for a lifetime, you've been banned from two matches!"
"Yeah, but you weren't really banned for a lifetime, were you? And do you know all of Gryffindor hates me now?"
"Well, it's your own fault, James! If you hadn't punched him-"
"Beat him to a pulp, more like," James muttered proudly.
"And rightly so!" put in George cheerfully. "You heard what that git said to Rose, didn't you, Ginny?"
She glared at him. "Yes, I did, thank you, George," she said through gritted teeth.
"And did he even get detention? Did he heck, the stupid little Malfoy bast–"
"Thank you, James!" said Ginny loudly, cutting off his rant.
"Hugo got banned, too, didn't he?" Harry asked, to anyone who was listening.
"Yep," George replied. "Only for one game, though."
"And they let him do the commentary – "
"Even though I asked first! Two matches!"
"Stop being so childish, James, just get over it!"
"Well, it's fair enough. You should be setting an example!"
"You sound exactly like Arwin!"
"Professor Arwin!" Ginny called after him, as he stomped off.
"Do you have to be so hard on him?" Harry asked.
"Well, he –"
"I know what he did, and he's being punished, isn't he? So just let it go!"
Suddenly all of the anger drained out of Ginny.
"I'm sorry," she said, leaning against him.
"Hey, it's all right!" he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Let's just go and make the peace, ok? Then we can watch the game."
"K," she nodded, resting her head on his shoulder as he steered them through the excitable students.
They found James seated mid row, staring out onto the empty pitch.
"I'm sorry, James," Ginny said softly, sitting down beside him. "I know you're having a hard time, and I'm sorry I was so insensitive. Forgive me?"
James stared ahead for a few seconds longer then he turned to Ginny and nodded stiffly.
"Thanks," she pulled him in for a hug and he responded, closing his eyes peacefully over her shoulder, like he did when he was little. Harry grinned and squeezed past them, to sit on James' other side.
"So what's your prediction, son?"
"210-50," he said tensely.
"Hmm… are you saying Slytherin are going to get goals past our wonderful Keeper?"
"Well, you see," James suddenly came to life, "Bulstrode's a really weak Keeper, but the Chaser's are good at defending, so I reckon they'll be so busy trying to stop Fred, Chandra and… Lindsay scoring, that they'll not have much time for goal-scoring themselves! But then," he added as an afterthought, "Selwyn's pretty good at slipping past while nobody's watching, so he might get a few in, and Blaise's got a good aim, so who knows?" He finished on a shrug.
"And what about our goals?"
"I reckon… Chandra and Fred'll get most of them."
"None for Lindsay?" Harry laughed.
"No," replied James shortly.
"And Rose'll get the Snitch?"
"Definitely," said James confidently.
Suddenly, a distraction arrived in the form of Ron and Hermione.
"Sorry, we're late," said Hermione, squeezing past them.
"Had to get Hugo sorted out –"
"And I thought Rosie might need a bit of reassurance –"
"But she was fine. So what do we think – "
Suddenly, Professor Crosse flew out on to the pitch and Hugo's magnified voice echoed around the stadium.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we're here today to watch the Quidditch Final – Gryffindor versus Slytherin! Here they come!"
Harry, Ginny, James, George, Ron and Hermione broke into applause as seven red and gold clad teenagers strode proudly onto the pitch, and seven green and silver figures appeared from the opposite changing rooms.
Chandra Rai, who was standing in for James as Captain, and Scorpius Malfoy shook hands, then Professor Crosse blew her whistle and the fourteen Quidditch players rose into the air.
"So, today we've got Courtney Bulstrode, Zanna Blaise, Roy Selwyn, Gordon Greer, Scorpius Malfoy, Selena Goyle and Cecil Nott for Slytherin," Hugo reeled off. "And for Gryffindor it's Al – bus Potter, Fred, Chan – Fred Weasley, Chandra Rai, Lily Potter and Rose Weasley. Lindsay Grey and Colin Taylor are standing in for James and, er… me."
Harry laughed and watched intently as his two youngest sped off to their positions, Al in front of the hoops and Lily already belting a Bludger in Scorpius Malfoy's direction.
"And it's Grey – Lindsay Grey with the Quaffle, speeding up the pitch, is she going to sc – no, she's not. Selwyn's got the Quaffle off her now, and he's speeding down – yes! Nice Bludger work from Miss Lily Potter there, so it's Griffindor in possession again, this time Fred's got the Quaffle, passed to Rai, back to Fred and… YES! HE SCORES! TEN NIL TO GRIFFINDOR, TEN NIL TO GRIFFINDOR!!! Wooo!"
The Potters, George, Ron and Hermione rose as one to clap and yell as Fred did a victory lap of the pitch.
"Good one, son!" roared George, deafening Harry.
"Sorry, sorry!" People along the row were grumbling as someone squeezed past. It was Angelina.
"Hi! How's it going? Who scored?" She sat down between George and Ron, and squeezed her husband's hand.
"Us!" George told her excitedly, "It was Fred!"
"Ok, so it's Slytherin in possession, Greer with the Quaffle – intercepted by Rai and she's – she's – dropped it. Stupid Bludger – who hit that? Someone knock Goyle off her broom –"
"Weasley!" came Professor Arwin's voice down the microphone.
"Sorr-ee. Right, c'mon Gryffindor, you can do this! Let's hear it for Griffindor!"
The crowds yelled and screamed in response and Harry could hear Hugo's smile as he went on,
"Gryffindor in possession, Grey with the Quaffle, Bludger makes her drop it – oh! Caught by Fred! Nice one! Oh, no, Bludger makes him drop it, too. Now Blaise has got the Quaffle. Yes! Brilliant Colin! Taylor makes her drop it and it's Gryffindor back in possession – c'mon Chandra!" yelled Hugo excitedly, as Chandra Rai went haring up the pitch, Quaffle tucked neatly under her arm. "YES! SHE SCORES! Twenty-zero to Gryffindor, as Chandra puts an excellent goal past Courtney Bulstrode! Yes, yes!"
Taking his eyes off the central game for a moment, Harry scouted around for the players he knew and saw Fred flying directly alongside Slytherin's Selwyn. Even as Harry watched, Lily belted another Bludger past Fred, causing Selwyn to drop the Quaffle. Al was hovering anxiously in front of the hoops, watching the game keenly, and Rose was flying just above all the action, roughly following the trail of Cecil Nott below her but glancing around constantly for the Golden Snitch.
The game went on and all too soon it was 60-60. Fred, Chandra and Lindsay were getting some good goals but unfortunately Slytherin seemed to be following their lead. Lily and Colin Taylor were working flat out just to stop them getting more and luck just wasn't on Al's side today – he would dive the wrong way or miss by a few inches of the Quaffle would simply slip through his fingers.
Harry watched closely as Chandra and Lindsay passed the Quaffle back and forth quickly, too quickly for the Slytherin Chasers to snatch the big red ball from them.
But suddenly, a red blur shot between the two Griffindor Chasers, knocking the Quaffle out of the air. Harry leapt to his feet as soon as he realised it was Rose, Griffindor robes rippling and her long red, Weasley hair streaming behind her as she chased after what he knew to be the Golden Snitch.
"Rose has seen the Snitch! The Gryffindor Chaser's going after the Snitch!" screamed Hugo, alerting the Slytherin Seeker to what was happening. Rose shot down the pitch, swept around the hoops, and darted back towards the Slytherin end, tailed closely by Nott.
Harry squinted through his glasses and could just see the Snitch, mere metres ahead of Rose…
"Come on!" Ron screamed, leaning over the seats in front and clutching his hair. Hermione, too, was on her feet, hands shielding her face, she peered through her fingers to see what was happening.
James was shouting, too, but Harry couldn't hear what he was saying, for Hugo's commentary drowned every other sound –
"Go Rose! Go Rose! You can do it – just a little further –"
Suddenly Ginny shrieked loudly and pointed out to the pitch, not to Rose, but to a green blur streaking right towards her.
Rose suddenly realised she was about to be knocked off her broom and wrenched the broom handle around, just as Scorpius Malfoy skidded to a halt. But the damage had already been done. Rose had veered off to the right, leaving Nott free to take the Snitch.
The Slytherins screamed and applauded delightfully as Nott raised his fist, still clutching the struggling Snitch, into the air. The Gryffindor crowds were a mess of confusion as they tried to decipher what had happened.
"So Slytherin win," came a dull, flat voice from the commentator's podium. "Supposedly. Although that was a blatant foul from that scumbag Scorpius Malfoy - I'm tempted to beat him up again…"
"But Professor, it was a foul! It was… it was… what's it called? I know! Blatching! Flying with intent to collide! That's what he was doing, Professor, he was…"
Harry watched in horror and even Hugo fell silent as Professor Crosse brought out the huge, silver Quidditch Cup and handed it to Cecil Nott, who roared with the crowd and raised it above his head.
"That's not winning!" screeched Hugo, suddenly finding his voice. "You cheated! Cheats! All of you are cheats – bastard Slytherins!"
"That's enough! Detention!"
"Professor!" howled Hugo and Ron together as Hermione tutted loudly.
"Too right, Hugo, cheats, the lot of them!" muttered Ron. "I'm going to have words with that so-called referee!" and he marched off.
"Oh dear," Hermione sighed deeply and hurried after him, leaving Harry, Ginny, James, George and Angelina in depressed silence.
They watched as Rose, red in the face and furious, landed too hard and staggered slightly, then dismounted with difficulty and strode towards Scorpius Malfoy. Drawing her wand, she bore a striking resemblance to Hermione the time she had set birds on Ron when she was the same age as Rose.
"Oh, no," murmured George. Harry was thinking exactly the same thing but none of the four moved, just watched as the Gryffindor Seeker confronted Scorpius.
"Let him get what he deserves," muttered James mutinously, "the little brat."
Rose said something to Scorpius, he face flushed with anger, her wand pointing directly into his face. He replied calmly, an all too familiar smirk playing about his face and this enraged Rose further, as Harry knew it would. She shouted at him, though they could not make out her words, and raised her wand a few inches higher, and Harry was forcefully reminded of his mother confronting James and Sirius.
He half-heartedly rose from his seat.
Scorpius was beginning to lose his calm. He scraped his hands through his hair, a gesture Harry associated with stress, and replied to Rose, staring past her right shoulder.
She opened her mouth, but suddenly Scorpius snapped out of his reverie, seized her wand and pulled it out of her grasp. Rose stared at him in shock and he stared right back before roughly grabbing her shoulders and kissing her on the mouth.
Harry's legs gave way and he dropped back into his seat.
She was kissing him back.
A/N: For Grandad, because, let's face it, Quidditch is the wizarding world's cricket! As ever, thanks to Arnel for help and support with it all!