Chapter Nine: Back to the Beginning
It actually took Dean a few days to come to terms with the fact that his girlfriend was a better Quidditch player than he was, but things soon went back to normal between him and Ginny, although she avoided mentioning anything about Quidditch or the Gryffindor team.
However, Ginny thought it was not fair. She was still very excited about making the team and also about their upcoming first team practice. It annoyed her not being able to talk about it with her boyfriend. But at least she could talk about it with Colin and Demelza, who, by the way, were spending more and more time together.
Colin and Hermione were polite enough not to mention their idiotic theory again, but just in case, Ginny avoided even mentioning Harry in front of them. She had ordered herself not to mull over it, convinced that they were both mistaken in their assumptions. She was also making a conscious effort to stay away from Harry whenever she could. In fact, they hadn’t spoken one word during the whole week. She would have to talk to him that evening during practice, but her mind would be so full of Quidditch then that there was little chance that it would wander off.
That evening Ginny was rushing through her dinner to get to the Quidditch pitch on time for practice. Dean looked at her quizzically and she smiled apologetically.
“I have to go,” she told him, pushing her plate away and giving him a swift kiss on the cheek.
“Where are you going?” he asked, and Ginny remembered she didn’t mention anything about having Quidditch practice tonight.
“Practice,” she said, avoiding giving any details.
“Oh!” his smiled faltered for a moment. “Okay,” he added hurriedly. “Have fun.”
Ginny smiled at him and left. On the entrance hall she saw Demelza, Peakes and Coote, who were also on their way to the Quidditch pitch, and joined them. They got to the stadium and went to the changing rooms, where they found Katie putting on her Quidditch robes. They followed suit and by the time Ron and Harry arrived the rest of the team was ready for practice.
“Hello,” said Harry cheerfully. “Looks like we’re all here,” he added as he started getting his Quidditch gear on. Everyone was still looking at him, so he went on. “I was thinking that since this is our first practice we should take it easy and just see how we all play together as a team.”
“Don’t let Oliver find out about that, Harry” said Katie snickering. “If he hears you haven’t prepared a detailed and completely dictatorial training plan, he’s going to think he failed as a role model.”
Oliver Wood had been the Quidditch captain back when Harry joined the team five years ago. Ginny had heard many stories about his obsession with winning the Quidditch Cup and his strenuous and demanding practices, but she always thought Fred and George were exaggerating. Now with Katie’s words and Harry’s knowing smile, she was not so sure about that.
“Well,” said Harry, looking a bit abashed. “I’m afraid I don’t have anything prepared. I think we’ll going to figure this out as we go.”
“You’ll do just fine,” said Ginny, patting Harry on the arm. When he turned around to look at her with a grateful smile on his lips, she suddenly realized what she had just done and took a step away from him, looking away. “We all will,” she added awkwardly, but no one seemed to notice her discomfort, as everyone was already filing out of the changing room.
Harry instructed Ron to go up to the goal posts to try to catch the goals Katie, Ginny and Demelza would try to score. He then let one of the Bludgers out so Coote and Peakes could practice as well. After giving instructions to everyone, Harry mounted his broom and started flying around, making comments to everyone.
“Great shot, Ginny,” he said from behind her at one point and Ginny almost fell off her broom. She had been so concentrated in the play that she didn’t see him beside her until he had talked. She rapidly steadied herself, but she was about to fall down again when a Bludger zoomed right between her and Harry. They both turned around to find Peakes, looking at them repentantly.
“Sorry,” he said sheepishly.
“Let’s try not to knock our Chasers off their brooms, okay?” Harry told him and Peakes gave him a thumbs up. “Are you okay?” Harry asked turning back to Ginny.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Katie, Demelza,” Harry called the other Chasers. “Let’s repeat that play, okay?” he said when the two girls had joined him and Ginny. They all nodded and flied up to perform the play Harry had told them.
Two hours later a very satisfied Harry decided to put an end to the training session.
“I think that would be enough for today,” he said once everyone was on the ground. “You did pretty well.”
“But you didn’t get to train at all,” said Demelza.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said shrugging. “I’ll do it next time.”
“Ginny can help you practice,” Katie told Harry when they were already on their way to the changing rooms. “She did very well last year when she was covering for you.”
“Yeah,” agreed Harry. “That’s a good idea.” Harry then turned to Ginny, who was walking behind him with Demelza. She had heard what Katie said, but was pretending to be very interested in what Demelza was telling her.
“What do you say, Ginny?” Harry asked her.
“About what?” Ginny asked him.
“About helping me with Seeker practice,” he said.
“I’m sure you don’t need me,” she said avoiding his eyes. “But sure. Anything I can do for the team.”
Without waiting for his response she scurried away into the changing rooms. She changed quickly and left before anyone else was ready.
That night she lay awake on her bed for a long time thinking about Harry’s request. She let out a grunt of frustration and punched her pillow into a more comfortable position.
“Anything I can do for the team,” she repeated bitterly. “Even spend more time with Harry when I desperately need to stay away from him.”
She wanted to scream her frustration, but instead, she covered her face with her pillow and ordered herself to stop thinking about it.
She didn’t sleep very well that night and the next morning she was not in a particularly good mood, but she soon decided that she was not going to let anything spoil a nice Friday. Today she had all the classes she liked: Charms, Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Well, she didn’t really like Care of Magical Creatures and she probably wouldn’t keep taking it after her OWLs, but she was so fond of Hagrid that she was always determined to enjoy it.
After lunch she had Divination, but if she could go unnoticed and spend the whole class without catching Professor Trelawney’s attention, it wouldn’t be so bad. Also, Professor Slughorn had invited her to another Slug Club meeting, but she didn’t have to worry about it just now.
That afternoon Ginny and Colin were on their way to the North Tower for Divination, talking about the dream journal they were supposed to be keeping.
“You haven’t written anything in it, Ginny?” Colin asked as he flipped through the empty pages of Ginny’s journal. “What are you going to tell Professor Trelawney if she asks you?”
“I don’t know,” Ginny shrugged. That was really of no importance to her. “I’ll tell her I dreamed I was buying a new pair of shoes. She can’t make anything weird out of that, can she?”
“Don’t be so sure,” said Colin. “To dream about buying shoes probably means that you’ll drown in a tea cup after doing the limbo under the full moon.”
Ginny rolled her eyes, thinking that Colin was probably right. Her only hope was that Professor Trelawney was already over the sudden interest she had developed in her. But even before they entered the Divination classroom, Ginny knew she wouldn’t have such luck. As soon as Professor Trelawney made her usual dramatic entrance into the misty, suffocating room, she peered down at Ginny through her hugely magnifying lenses.
“Let’s start with you, my dear,” she said walking over to the table where Ginny and Colin were sitting. “Tell me what you dreamed last night.”
Ginny cursed inwardly and took a big breath before responding in a barely audible voice. “I dreamed I was buying some shoes.”
Colin snickered and Ginny really wanted to hex him, thinking that with his help Professor Trelawney would surely find out she was making it up. But to her surprise, the teacher sat down on an empty chair next to her looking at her with even wider eyes.
“What kind of shoes?” she asked urgently.
What did she mean what kind of shoes? Ginny thought annoyed. Any kind. Who cares? She was definitely not ready for that question.
“Well,” she stalled, her mind racing, “I was looking at these… er… golden sandals… very beautiful,” she rolled her eyes. Golden sandals? How lame was that? “But then I decided to buy a pair of black shoes.”
“Black shoes?” Professor Trelawney insisted.
“Yes,” said Ginny annoyed. “I thought that would be more practical.”
“Oh my dear!” said Professor Trelawney in a tone that implied that she knew something Ginny didn’t “You settled for practical black shoes when your heart’s desire was to get the beautiful golden sandals,” she shook her head dramatically. “You are trying to justify your choice. But I already told you it was the wrong choice, therefore I won’t repeat it,” and with that, she moved to the next table and started reading somebody else’s dream journal.
“It’s a good thing she won’t keep mentioning your wrong choice,” muttered Colin flipping the pages of his journal distractedly but Ginny had the impression that he was actually paying attention to her reaction.
“Don’t start,” she hissed.
“Start with what?” said Colin innocently and Ginny narrowed her eyes.
“You also think this class is rubbish,” she started, lowering her voice even more. “You can’t wait until next year when we’ll be able to drop it once and for all,” she went on accusingly. “So don’t pretend now she’s a true seer just because she talks about a wrong choice I made and you believe it has to do with Dean.”
“Well, Ginny,” said Colin impassible, “she’s bound to get something right every once in a while, don’t you think?”
“Not this time though,” said Ginny before turning her attention to Professor Trelawney as she went on talking about the series of unfortunate events that were going to happen to the frightened girl whose journal she had taken. It seemed like she was going to suffer every imaginable peril -minus a plague of locust- before her life ended dramatically after being dropped from a considerable height by a rampaging hippogriff that had managed to snatch her from the clutches of a quite violent merman who was trying to drown her. Ginny was sure she had missed some of the details though, because most of it didn’t make sense at all.
After class Ginny, Colin and the other Gryffindor fifth-years dashed out of the classroom because they had Care of Magical Creatures next. They had to hurry to get to Hagrid’s hut on time for class, coming all the way from the North Tower. They were already on the courtyard when someone called Ginny’s name. She recognized the voice immediately but she was sure she was wrong. However, she turned around to find Harry walking toward her.
The Gryffindor six-years seemed to be on their way out of Herbology and heading back to the castle. Ginny saw that Ron and Hermione had stayed behind, engaged in what looked like one of their many rows.
Ginny waited for Harry to reach her while the rest of her classmates, with the exception of Colin, went on toward Hagrid’s.
“All right, Harry?” said Colin -not being able to hide his excitement- even before Harry had reached them, which earned him a reproachful look from Ginny.
“Hello, Colin,” said Harry politely before gazing at Ginny. “Hey Ginny!”
“Hi Harry!” she said, wondering what he could want.
“Would you mind if I schedule a Quidditch practice again tonight?” he asked.
“Tonight?” she asked. “But Slughorn’s meeting is tonight.”
“I know,” he said, giving her a meaningful look.
Ginny didn’t need any further explanation. She didn’t particularly enjoy Slughorn’s meetings, and all she had to endure was Zabini’s staring and McLaggen’s scowls. Harry would have to endure much more. He was going to feel like a prize bull that everyone wanted to admire, or worse, like an alien that everyone wanted to probe and prod. She didn’t blame him for preferring to spend the evening playing the game he loved with people who really liked him.
“Unless, of course, you want to go to Slughorn’s meeting,” Harry added, seeing that Ginny was lost in thought.
“Well, it is a tough decision,” Ginny said jokingly. She tapped her temple with her index finger a couple of times, pretending to think. “Quidditch or the Slug Club…” She looked at Harry; he was smiling amused. She smiled too, although her heart had started beating very fast, the way it did every time Harry smiled at her. “Are you kidding, Harry?” she added, commanding her heart to stop its race. “I’d take Quidditch every day.”
“Perfect. I’m telling everyone to go to the Quidditch pitch at seven, but I was wondering if you could get there a bit earlier,” he said, looking at her inquiringly.
“Earlier?” she asked. Dammed! Just when she had managed to control her heart, he went and told her that.
“Yes. To help me practice. Remember we talked about it?”
“Yes, I do.” Of course she remembered. It was only that she didn’t think it would happen so soon. “Does six thirty work for you?” Ginny was well aware of Colin’s satisfied smile and it was with great difficulty that she restrained herself from hexing him.
“Sure. Then I’ll see you tonight,” he replied.
“Yes, you will,” said Ginny in an attempt to sound bright.
“See you, Harry!” piped up Colin.
“Bye Colin,” Harry said, walking away from the two fifth-years. “Say ‘hi’ to Hagrid for me.”
“Will do,” Ginny muttered.
Ginny turned on her heel and started walking toward Hagrid’s. Colin followed her in silence, but he was looking at her through the corner of his eye with a smug little smile on his lips. They were a few steps away from the hut, where the rest of the Gryffindors were standing along with the Hufflepuffs when Ginny stopped and turned to Colin.
“Don’t even say it,” she said sharply. He opened his mouth, but she forestalled him, “don’t even think about it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said with a bemused expression that didn’t fool Ginny for an instant.
“Oh! You know very well what I’m taking about,” she said annoyed. “I’m talking about what just happened,” she went on. “For your information, it had nothing to do with Harry and me; it had to do with the Gryffindor Quidditch team,” she said firmly. “End of story.”
“If you say so,” he mused. “After all, you’re the one who’s going to be spending all that extra time alone with Harry. You should know where the story ends.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” Ginny asked exasperated, wondering how she could be Colin’s friend when she found him so enervating. “This was not even his idea in the first place. Someone else suggested him that I could help him practice.”
“So?” Colin asked. “Ginny, I know that the fact that we’re friends is something that sort of happened,” he continued in a much more serious tone. “And I also know you really don’t trust my judgment, especially when it comes to Harry, but I am a guy, you know?” Ginny was about to make a smarty-pants remark, but decided not to as Colin was uncharacteristically grave. “And trust me, there’s something different about the way Harry looks at you now. If you don’t want me to mention this again, I won’t, but that doesn’t change anything.”
Ginny looked at Colin for a long moment without saying a word. She really couldn’t say anything at all. She wanted to scream, to cry, to hex somebody, and there was a tiny part of her that wanted to jump up and down with happiness. But she couldn’t think of a single word she could tell her friend. As it turns out, she didn’t have to.
“Hey yeh two!” Hagrid called them. “Are yeh commin’?”
Ginny and Colin hurriedly joined their classmates and the class began, although Ginny did not pay attention to one single thing that was said during the next couple of hours. In fact, all she could think about during the rest of the afternoon was her Seeker training session that evening. She would be alone with Harry. And come to think of it, with the exception of that time in the Chamber of Secrets, she had never been alone with Harry. And even then it had been just for a couple of minutes and she had been too embarrassed and mortified to think about it.
During dinner, however, a thought entered Ginny’s mind: she wouldn’t be alone with Harry anyway. There was no way he was going to show up at the Quidditch pitch without Ron. Even if he wanted to go alone –which Ginny knew was not the case- Ron would tag along anyway. She let out a sigh, not sure if it was of relief or disappointment.
After dinner, Ginny sat with Dean in the Gryffindor common room. He was talking about something they were learning in Charms, but Ginny found it very hard to concentrate on his voice. Her mind kept drifting away, which made it quite impossible to understand what Dean was telling her. She soon gave up trying to look interested and remained silent, looking through Dean, rather than at him.
“Why so quiet?” Dean asked suddenly, putting his hand on Ginny’s arm, and bringing her back to reality. It seemed sudden to Ginny, but he had actually spent the last couple of minutes staring at her inquiringly after asking her a question that never got an answer.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered. “I have a lot on my mind.”
“Do you want to share?” he asked.
Ginny looked at her watch; it was not even six o’clock yet, but she didn’t feel like staying making small talk with Dean, let alone telling him about what she was really thinking.
“Actually,” she said, “I have to go.”
“I have practice tonight,” she said, getting to her feet.
“Again?” he asked in a whiny voice.
“Yes, again,” she said, a bit annoyed. The last thing she needed was a boyfriend who didn’t understand the importance of Quidditch.
“But Demelza is still here, and so are Katie, Peakes and Coote,” he said pointing at Ginny’s teammates that were sitting comfortably in the common room with no apparent intention of leaving anytime soon.
“I need to get there earlier. Harry didn’t get to train last night because he was busy doing his Captain job, telling us what to do and supervising everyone,” she said. “He asked me to help him and we’ll meet before the whole team gets there.”
“You and Harry?” Dean said shrewdly.
“Yes,” Ginny said impatiently. “You may recall I covered for him last year.”
“I know,” said Dean “But that means that you two will be alone at the Quidditch pitch…”
“First of all,” Ginny interrupted her boyfriend, giving him such an intense glare that it was actually surprising that he didn’t run for cover, “I’m pretty sure we won’t be alone. Ron and maybe even Hermione will probably be there. Second, I’ll have you know that I’m willing to do anything for the team, and helping Harry train happens to be very important.” She took a big breath before continuing, placing her hands on her hips. Had any of her brothers been there they would have said she looked frighteningly like her mother. “And third, are you going to be one of those boyfriends?”
“What do you mean ‘one of those boyfriends’?” Dean asked, standing up next to her.
“I mean one of those jealous, neurotic boyfriends that can’t stand that his girlfriend spends time with other guys,” she replied.
“But Harry is hardly just any other guy,” he said, peering intently at her. “ Wouldn’t you say?”
For the third time in the last twenty-four hours Ginny was about to scream of frustration. Moreover, for the third time this day as well, she wished she could simply raise her wand and hex the person standing in front of her to oblivion. Instead, she took a couple of calming breaths before responding.
“Okay, Dean, this is what we’re going to do: I’m gonna leave now for practice and we’ll talk again tomorrow,” he opened his mouth to protest, but Ginny held up a hand and he stopped. “I’m serious,” she said resolutely. “If you really want us to have this conversation, we’ll do it tomorrow. Right now I have to go.”
Ginny was still fuming when she climbed out through the portrait hole and even as she walked down the second floor corridor on her way to the stairs. It was a good thing that she would get to the Quidditch pitch even earlier than she was supposed to, that way she would have time to fly for a while and regain her composure before Harry got there. However, she instantly forgot all about her conversation with Dean and her plans to cool off when she turned on a corner and found herself right in front of Harry himself. He was standing in the middle of the corridor, looking around and… wait a minute, was he sniffing the air?
“What are you doing?” Ginny asked him somewhat amused.
“Nothing,” he said looking startled. He looked around as though making sure no one was listening. “Do you smell that?”
Ginny took a big breath but didn’t pick up any smell other than the flowery scent of her own shampoo. She was sure Harry didn’t refer to that.
“Not really,” she said shaking her head.
“Never mind,” Harry said waving his hand.
“Well, then I’ll leave you to find your mysterious smell.” She made to leave but he talked again.
“Where are you going?” he asked her.
“To the Quidditch pitch,” she replied.
“Already?” he asked and she nodded. “But we agreed on six thirty.”
“Yes. But I don’t have anything particularly important to do in the meantime, so I decided my time would be better spent down there.”
“Funny,” said Harry. “I was on my way there too.” Ginny looked at him wide-eyed. This changed things a bit. Instead of spending a half hour with Harry, she would now spend a whole hour with him. “Should we get going?”
“Sure,” she managed to say, and they set off together.
“I was thinking that we could do this at least once a week,” Harry was telling her. “That is, of course, until Christmas. I suppose that after January you will need all available time to get ready for your OWLs.”
“Can one really get ready for the OWLs?” Ginny asked rolling her eyes and Harry laughed. She really enjoyed spending time with Harry; talking to him. She usually felt awkward when she bumped into him unexpectedly, but now, as they walked side by side, she had already started to feel more comfortable.
“Well, either way Hermione would freak out if she suspects I’m keeping you from your studying,” he said.
“Where is Hermione, anyway,” Ginny asked. “I didn’t see her in the common room. And where is my witless brother,” she looked around as though she expected to see Ron materialize out of thin air. “Why were you going down to the Quidditch pitch all by yourself?”
“They’re both at the library,” he answered. “Hermione is finishing an essay for Transfiguration and Ron is trying to convince her of letting him copy it.” Ginny rolled her eyes again. “But he will come down for practice.”
“Oh!” she said, comprehension dawning across her freckled face. After all, they were going to be alone at the Quidditch pitch. “So it’s just you and me then.”
“Yeah. Is there a problem?”
“Of course not,” she swallowed hard and waved her hand dismissively, but she didn’t managed to say anything else.
They got to the stadium in silence and went into the changing rooms to put their Quidditch gear on and grab their brooms. When they were ready, Harry let out the Snitch and they started flying around the pitch looking for it. Once they were in the air, Ginny could feel her anxiety evaporate. She was definitely in her element now and soon enough she and Harry were talking and laughing and having a great time.
By the time the rest of the team made it to the pitch, Harry had been able to catch the little golden ball five times. Ginny had tried to make it as difficult as possible for him, but she had to admit it hadn’t made much difference. He was in great shape and his broom was way better than hers.
When Harry went down to greet the other members of the team, and tell them what he wanted them to do, Ginny stayed in the air, staring at him. He seemed happy. If only she could do something to help him stay this happy forever. As she gazed at Harry, down on the ground laughing with Ron, Katie, Peakes and Coote, Ginny realized she was still in love with him. She was and probably would always be helplessly and hopelessly in love with Harry. She had gone around in circles only to end up in the same place she had started. Everything she had done… Michael Corner… Dean Thomas… It all had been pointless. She now knew that no matter how hard she fought against her feelings she would always love Harry Potter.
“Are you okay?” asked Demelza, who had flied up toward Ginny and was now looking at her somewhat worried.
“No,” said Ginny simply. “And now I know I’ll never be.” Demelza gave her a quizzical look and opened her mouth to ask her what she meant, but before she could start Ginny was talking again. “Never mind. I really don’t want to talk about it.”
You can read the next chapter here.