Quotations in this chapter are taken directly from "Quidditch through the Ages" by Kennilworthy Whisp. Other things belong to JKR, apart from Harry's thoughts, which are my fault.
Harry's Quidditch Book
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"Though there is no limit imposed on the height to which a player may rise during the game, he or she must not stray over the boundary lines of the pitch. Should a player fly over the boundary, his or her team must surrender the Quaffle to the opposing team."
It's hard to believe that I'm actually here after awful the summer I've just had. I actually need to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. No more Dursleys for another year. A whole year. Imagine it… Dudley can scream all he wants now about not having the latest Playstation game, and Aunt Petunia is, no doubt, fussing all over him and making sure he gets whatever it is he's after now. It'll all be forgotten in a day or two, and he'll want something different. No more Uncle Vernon, turning purple and raging about my 'unnaturalness' whatever I do, whatever I say. Nothing's ever good enough for them, but I suppose, deep down, I gave up on them a long time ago, just like they did with me. There's no more pretending not to exist in my room either. It's wonderful out here, feeling the sun for a change. After spending six weeks trapped inside Privet Drive, this is virtually paradise. Here I'm free. I don't have to keep up the appearance of being something I'm not. I can be myself…especially with Ginny… Especially with her.
She said this was her favourite spot at home, and I can see why. It's peaceful here; no noise really, apart from the river gurgling away, splashing over those boulders down by our feet. There's no tension, no fear. Feeling the sunshine, beating down on my shoulders, warming every inch of me, makes me feel so alive. Somehow it makes me think that everything's going to be all right. It's a good feeling. Maybe it's all to do with being back with the Weasleys? They're the closest thing to a real family I'm ever going to get, I suppose. They don't care about the stupid stuff, and it's so…so…oh, I don't know…they just want me as me. And that makes all the difference in the world.
"The Captain of a team may call for 'time out' by signalling to the referee. This is the only time players' feet are allowed to touch the ground during a match."
How could I spend five years virtually ignoring Ginny? I should have called for this sort of 'time out' a long while before I finally got round to it. I love the way she just knows what I'm thinking, the way she understands before I even try to tell her what's going on in my head. She's so funny with that. It's strange sometimes having someone there who knows me so well, but it's amazing too. I can see her over there now, curled up with her book under the shady part of the tree, that ridiculous hat just abandoned by her feet. She's so close. I could just reach out and touch her and she'd look up at me, her eyes sparkling like they always do, and I could tell her I love her.
The first thing I always see when I glance up is her hair. The wonderful wildness of that hair is so much part of her personality. It gets angry right along with her, and flies so tempestuously, spitting every shade of blistering red fire that it can. Yet it can be calmed so easily to sparkle in the sunlight like it is now. The gentle copper shining, so contented, happy and at peace with her and the world. It's nice seeing her like this; so still, enjoying that ever-present book of Muggle poems. I'll not complain. I owe that book a lot... I owe her even more.
I can see tiny freckles springing into life across her nose, one by one from the sunshine. Her mum will know for a certainty she's not been wearing the hat, but Ginny won't care. That part of her always makes me smile; that refusal to be contained, confined… she's got a certain irrepressibility that makes her do things. A bit like Fred and George, I suppose, but a whole lot cuter! She's incredible. It's that little mischievous twinkle she gets in her eyes sometimes that makes me laugh. You never know quite what she's going to be up to next.
"The referee may award penalties against a team. The Chaser taking the penalty will fly from the central circle towards the scoring area. All players other than the Chaser and opposing Keeper must keep well back whilst the penalty is taken."
The rat! I can't believe she just did that! Lying there, all sweetly and innocently reading one minute, and attacking my feet the next. How could she? She knows how ticklish I am. Oh, revenge is going to have to happen here. She can't get away with that. No way! It's bad enough stealing my socks, but this… this is war!
Suddenly, and I'm not sure how, I've got her pinned down on the rug, giggling madly from where I've been tickling her. Her hair is sprawled madly all over the place, and her brown eyes are full of hysterical laughter, looking up and me and shining with such warmth. It makes me feel an almost hollow ache inside, until another of those kisses fills every sense I seem to have and sets my pulse racing. Then only Ginny exists; I want nothing more.
"The Quaffle may be taken from another player's grasp but under no circumstances must one player seize hold of any part of another player's anatomy."
What did I do? This isn't how it was last term, and I don't want things to change. Not yet. Not for a long time. I've only just got her back and I'm slowly beginning to believe that she's going to be fine after everything that's happened to her. I didn't mean to kiss her like that. I don't even know where that came from, or what to do. I…I…want, but I don't…
Why does everything have to be so complicated? If only real life were as simple as Quidditch.
"In the case of injury, no substitution of players will take place."
I think, if I'm honest, I'm still terrified of what Voldemort might do to her. He came so close to killing her last time, and I couldn't bear it. I'm putting her in danger simply by loving her, and I know I should tell her to keep away from me, but I can't do it. It's not just that she'd kill me, and I know she'd have no hesitation in that if I dared, but I don't want to be without her. Not now, not ever.
I suppose we both knew how this would be, right from the very beginning, but I'm not sure that makes it a whole lot easier to deal with. Even now, the memory of that flash of green light makes me shake, brings back those haunting nightmares where I'm constantly trying to reach her, but I fail in ghastly slow motion over and over again. The sight of her crumpling to the floor like that. Her piercing scream.
Skimming stones across the water gets rid of some of the panic, makes it a bit easier to deal with. I daren't even think about what the future holds; Ginny's right, we've just got to take each day as it comes, step by step just as the stone bounces along the surface of the river, and if we're lucky we might not even sink from sight at the end of it. Ginny's been incredible about it all. I'll never forget that fierce look of determination on her face when she stood up to Voldemort, refusing to buckle beneath his curses because she loves me. That charm. She's given me so much. Every day I'm amazed she's there beside me, that she loves me. What I've done to deserve someone as wonderful her, I have no idea. I want to give her the world, but how can I with Voldemort's threats hanging over us? Whatever it takes I'm going to make sure she's protected from him in the future. I'm never going to let him get near her again.
"Wands may be taken onto the pitch but must under no circumstances be used against opposing team members…"
We've got to make the rest of the summer a good one, for all our sakes. We need to laugh, to get things back to some sort of normality, to stop jumping at shadows in every corner, or waiting for the axe to fall. It's time to live. It's time to have some fun. She deserves it. Ginny always makes me laugh, with the things she does, and what she says. I don't think I'm ever going to have any socks ever again. How does she steal them anyway? I always thought it was a Summoning Charm, but she's not allowed to use magic in the holidays. And now she's started on my t-shirts. I can't help but smile. Only Ginny…
I wonder if I could persuade her up onto a broom later when I'm playing Quidditch with Ron. She's always giggled about the fact that her brothers never let her fly, as she was far too much of a liability on the ground without being let loose in the air as well. I'm sure she'd rise to the challenge, and knowing her she'll be brilliant at it.
"A game of Quidditch ends only when the Golden Snitch has been caught, or by mutual consent of the two team Captains."
Peace is here, with her. Feeling her securely in my arms, gently breathing and relaxing beside me. I've missed her so much. This is exactly how it should be. The wayward strands of her red hair tickling my ear, and the gentle breeze drifting over us makes it perfect. The soft sounds of chaffinches chatter somewhere in the leafy canopy above us, and the warmth causes such a pleasant sleepy sensation. Why move? This is right where I want to be.