To Become A Harpy

Ginny Weasley spun her broom around and went pelting after the Quaffle. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the other side's Chaser angling in, also in hot pursuit of the coveted red ball.

Ginny winced, she could tell they were going to reach the Quaffle at almost the same time, though she'd probably get there half a second sooner.

The problem was the opposing Chaser out weighed her by at least a couple stone and the impact was going to hurt, probably quite a lot at the speeds they were flying.

Ginny didn't let that deter her at all, in fact she lowered her head and tried to get another erg of speed from her broom.

She smiled, marvelling at the fact that while she was playing Quidditch there were times, just like the one at the moment, when time seemed to slow down and she had all the time she needed to assess the situation.

Though both her and the other chaser were slightly less than ten feet and seconds from the speeding Quaffle, Ginny had time to glance back and forth from the Quaffle to the other Chaser several times.

She knew she had two options, take the hit and probably get the Quaffle a fraction of a second before impact, or bail out and let the other girl have a free shot.

To Ginny, there was only one choice and she turned all of her attention on the Quaffle, hoping she didn't get anything broken in the process.

Just like she figured, she was able to grab the Quaffle and tuck it into her body on the side away from the other Chaser, when the girl slammed hard into her unprotected side.

She grunted painfully as she rolled her broom, desperately trying to regain control. From the feeling in her side she knew she had at minimum bruised her ribs if not had at least one or two fractured.

Grimacing, she steadied her broom and aimed herself toward the opposing goal, leaving the other Chaser behind.

She saw the Keeper coming out to cut down the angle and she knew as fast as she was going and how close she was, she'd never be able to swerve around her.

She saw the triumphant look on the Keeper's face and she cursed softly. Then out of the corner of her eye she spotted one of her team's other chasers cutting in from the far side.

It would be a difficult pass at the speed and angle she was flying but it was the only opportunity they had to score.

Ginny waited until the last possible second before firing off her pass, threading the Quaffle just out of reach of the Keeper who was closing fast.

She smiled as she felt her broom get hit in the bristles by the passing Keeper and she raised her arms joyously as she watched her teammate grab the Quaffle and without hesitating, fire it through the unprotected goal.

She heard the whistle blow and glancing back, she noticed the coaches calling the players down to the surface of the pitch. She slowed and spiralled down, landing with a grimace as her ribs protested as her feet hit the ground.

Just as she dismounted one of the coaches came running over to her, her face contorted in anger.

"Didn't you see the other Chaser?" she yelled.

"Yes, Coach," Ginny replied, scowling because she didn't understand the angry look she was receiving, after all she had set up her teammate for an easy goal.

"So you thought it was more important to get the Quaffle rather than protect yourself?" the coach asked angrily.

"Yes," Ginny snapped back. "We were in range for a scoring opportunity and I wasn't going to waste it."

"So you'd risk injury just to get a scoring opportunity?" the coached asked, sounding slightly calmer.

"Yes ma'am," Ginny replied, eyeing the coach darkly.

"Good job," the coach said, breaking out in a smile. "That's the kind of hustle we love to see."

Though gobsmacked, Ginny couldn't help but smile. "Thanks Coach," she replied happily.

The coach noticed her grimace as she shifted her broom from hand to hand. She gave Ginny a small smile. "Go have those ribs looked at," she said warmly before turning back to the group of other recruits.

Ginny gave a small huff and grimaced as she felt a pain shoot through her chest. "Damn, I bet they're broken, not bruised," she muttered softly to herself.

With a sigh she began to make her way over to the medical tent to have her ribs checked out.

Harry and Ginny

Ginny was sitting the next morning having her ribs taped by one of the trainers. She had broken two ribs and while the Team Healer had mended them the previous day, they were still sore and would be vulnerable for a day or two.

She noticed one of the assistant coaches headed her way and she wondered what she wanted.

"How are your ribs," the assistant coach asked once she was close enough.

"They're a little sore but nothing I can't handle," Ginny replied confidently.

The girl looked at her hesitantly. "Maybe you shouldn't fly today," she said with concern.

Ginny looked up and met her eyes. She took a quick glance at her name on her staff shirt before speaking. "Kim, are you telling me I can't fly today?" she asked intensely.

"No, nothing like that, I don't have that authority, I'm just suggesting that with your ribs, it might be best to rest today," she replied.

"You know as well as I do that if I sit out I've as good as cut myself from the team," Ginny responded angrily.

Kim shrugged apologetically. "I was only trying to help. It's your body and ribs that you're risking."

"You need to understand, Kim, that playing professional Quidditch for the Harpies has been my dream since I was a young girl, before I could fly even. I just can't throw that away because I'm hurt a little," Ginny explained passionately.

"I understand, but in case you haven't noticed you're the smallest one here. Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing, it's just that some of the other potential recruits will do just about anything to limit their competition, even if it means seriously injuring someone. I've seen it happen before," Kim explained worriedly.

Ginny just shrugged. "Yeah I'm the smallest, someone has to be, just like someone is the slowest or the fastest, the one who's most careful or reckless. No matter what criteria you look at, there is always going to be someone who will fill that category. If I let that dissuade me, I don't belong here," Ginny replied, her eyes burning with her passion.

Kim smiled wanly at her. "Well, I wish you luck," she said before heading off.

The trainer finished taping Ginny's ribs and gave her a critical look. "I should probably put some padding on you too," the young woman said.

Ginny stood and began to move around, twisting and bending to see how much being taped restricted her movement. She winced a couple of times and debated about the padding.

"How thick is the padding?" she asked with a frown.

The trainer went over to a cabinet and pulled out a big piece of material. It was at least four inches thick.

Ginny took one look at it and knew it would restrict her movements too much.

"How come you just can't apply a cushioning charm?" she asked with a frown.

"They wouldn't last long enough and the danger of it failing just when you needed it is too great," the trainer replied.

"Do you have to put that on?" Ginny asked, gesturing at the padding.

"No, but I should," the girl replied.

"Then I'd rather go without. It would restrict my movement too much," Ginny replied firmly.

The trainer sighed. "I hope you know what you're doing."

"Me too," Ginny whispered so softly no one else could hear.

As Ginny turned to leave to finish getting dressed in her gear, the trainer called to her. "Remember, no unauthorised cushioning or numbing charms."

Ginny nodded, she hadn't even considered doing so.

Unseen by Ginny, Gwenog Jones stood off to the side in the shadows, having listened carefully to Ginny in her dealings with the trainer and Kim. She sighed and shook her head, filing what she had heard away.

She was slightly concerned about the young red head. They rarely let someone so young try out for the Team but the scouting reports had been next to unbelievable and the staff had wanted to see for themselves if they were true. She just hoped she didn't come to regret it.

The excitement of getting back into the air banished any lingering pain that Ginny felt. She gazed around the stadium, taking in its grandeur. The Sun was just beginning to rise, there was a heavy dew on the grass of the pitch that glistened like a million diamonds as the light began to hit it.

The sky was crystal clear and just the hint of a breeze blew. It was a perfect day for Quidditch or at least training for Quidditch.

The sky above the stadium was abuzz with all the hopeful players taking their warm-ups, with Ginny right in the midst of them.

She noticed someone pull up near her and she glanced over. It was the girl who had hit her the previous day.

"How are the ribs?" she asked.

"They're fine," Ginny replied. There was just something about the way she had asked and the look in her eyes that Ginny didn't like.

Her instincts were reinforced when she noticed the girl eyeing her ribs with a slightly predatory look.

Ginny decided she'd had enough and took off, laying flat out on her broom, putting on a burst of speed that left the other girl far behind, gaping at Ginny as she tore away.

Ginny began to do a series of increasingly difficult manoeuvrers, testing her ribs to see how much they'd restrict her.

To her delight, they hardly bothered her at all, at least for the moment, Ginny reminded herself. The day was young and they'd just taken to the air.

The morning was taken up with running drills. For the Chasers it started out with passing drills. All of them lined up at one end of the pitch in three rows and they took off at intervals, passing the Quaffle back and forth as quickly as they could. As they returned, the coaches directed them into one of the three lines so that got to play each position, left, centre and right.

Ginny loved the drill, it was a mad dash from one end of the pitch to the other, catching and passing the Quaffle as fast and as many times as possible. It certainly made one pay attention and got the blood pumping in one's veins.

Next came a series of drills that had different combinations of Chasers attacking different numbers of defenders. One on one, two on one, three on one, three on two, two on three and any other combination you could think of.

Again Ginny revelled in running the drills. Not only for the flying involved but for the other intricacies required. She thanked Merlin for the hours she had spent studying the playbook as she had to react instantly when the lead Chaser barked out the various attack formations that they were to use.

She was exceedingly pleased with herself because she didn't miss one single formation that was called out, even a couple of the obscure ones that were rarely used.

The drill she probably loved the most was shooting on the Keeper. Like the passing drill it involved various numbers of Chasers attacking the goal, sometimes with an added defender but mostly without.

While the two on one and three on one were fun, Ginny far preferred the one on one. It reminded her so much of playing one on one or two on two Quidditch while growing up and playing with her brothers.

And here at Holyhead it was even better. Going one on one against a professional level Keeper was beyond exhilarating. It was nothing but you against the Keeper with only your skills and guile to outwit the other.

There was nothing like the feeling of when she had scored in that situation. Though she didn't think she was doing half bad, she didn't know that she was the one with the most goals scored. Something the coaches were keenly keeping track of.

It was five hours of almost non-stop action with barely a moment to catch one's breath before they had to preform again.

Finally at a couple of minutes before noon, the coaches called everyone down onto the pitch where they gave out the pinnies and handed out the assignments for the afternoon's mock games.

Though Ginny was feeling a little tired, she also felt energized by what she had done that morning. She loved Quidditch and yes, even the "boring" drills that went along with playing the game.

She just felt so alive and exhilarated and she had a small smile on her face as she thought back on everything she had done that morning.

She was startled out of her musing by the sharp bark of one of the coaches.

"Enjoying yourself, Weasley?" the coach growled loudly.

"Yes I am, Coach" Ginny replied truthfully.

From the coach's reaction, it probably wasn't the right thing to say.

"Well, maybe we aren't working you hard enough. Maybe tomorrow we'll have to step things up several notches," the coach snarled, much to the displeasure of the other hopefuls.

Ginny stared into the coach's eyes. "I'm ready for the challenge," she replied unabashedly.

She couldn't help but be pleased with herself when she saw the faintest of smiles on the coach's face.

As they headed inside for lunch a rather tall blonde girl fell in step beside Ginny. "You certainly didn't make many friends with that reply," she said humorously, her eyes dancing.

"I'm not here to make friends but to make the team, though if I make a few friends that's all the better," Ginny replied guardedly.

"Sarah Peters," the blonde said, holding out her hand as she introduced herself.

"Ginny Weasley," Ginny replied, shaking the blonde's hand and thus a warm friendship was born.

The two chatted amicably as they headed inside.

The first thing Ginny did was shed her jersey and shoulder pads and immediately head toward the trainers to have her taped ribs looked after. She as surprised when Sarah came with her.

The trainer vanished the tape and inspected Ginny's ribs, poking and prodding her side.

Ginny couldn't help but wince but otherwise took it stoically.

Sarah whistled lowly as she stared at the huge bruise on Ginny's side. "Doesn't that hurt?" she asked softly.

"A little," Ginny replied with a shrug.

Their conversation was interrupted by the trainer. "I'm going to leave it unwrapped for now but make sure you come back before heading out this afternoon," she said as she grabbed a pot of salve.

She applied a liberal amount of the noxious paste. Ginny wrinkled her nose while Sarah giggled. Once the trainer was done slathering her side, Ginny and Sarah headed off to get something for lunch.

Ginny was slightly annoyed, knowing she'd have to eat in a rush so she could get back and have her ribs taped for the afternoon's session.

They hurried to the cafeteria and grabbed something to eat. Once seated they began to devour their lunches. Though they were eating hurriedly, they still found time to chat.

"Six brothers?" Sarah asked wide-eyed with a giggle. "I don't know how you stood it. I only have a sister and a brother to contend with and that was more than enough for me."

Ginny smiled warmly, reminiscing about growing up at the Burrow. "I'll admit it was a trial at times but for the most part, I wouldn't have given it up for all the gold in Gringotts," she replied with a contented sigh.

"Actually it sounds like you had a wonderful time growing up," Sarah admitted sounding a little envious.

"Like I said, most of the time it was, though with seven kids money was always tight but we managed. Most of us didn't get a lot of new store bought things and most of our gifts were handmade, though I wouldn't have traded it for anything," Ginny sighed sheepishly, hoping Sarah didn't look down on her because she came from a poor family.

Sarah smiled dreamily. "The gifts I remember most and appreciated more were the handmade ones from my mother and siblings. While we did get some that they had bought, I just really liked the ones that they made so much better," she explained to Ginny, blushing slightly herself.

"I think it's because they're infused with the love and thought the person put into them," Ginny replied warmly.

"That's what I was thinking but felt to embarrassed to say," Sarah giggled lowly, earning her a warm look from Ginny.

Ginny wolfed down the last of her sandwich and gulped her juice, glancing at the clock.

"Damn, I hate to break this up but I need to go get my ribs taped," she complained as she rose quickly.

Sarah looked hesitantly at her plate, she hadn't been eating as fast as Ginny and wasn't quite done.

Ginny saw her look and smiled. "Finish your lunch and I'll see you on the pitch," she grinned.

"If you're sure? I could come with you now," Sarah replied worriedly.

"Eat!" Ginny ordered with a smile and then she hurried off.

Sarah watched her go and she found herself smiling. If she wasn't mistaken, she had just made a lifelong friend.

Ginny hurried out onto the pitch, relieved to see that everyone was just beginning to gather for the afternoon's session. While the mornings were for drills, the afternoons were for trial games.

She spotted Sarah who noticed her and they exchanged waves.

Since it was only the third day, they hadn't begun to cut anyone yet so that there were enough players for four teams.

Ginny was on the Yellow team while she noticed that Sarah was on the green team.

Ginny groaned to herself when the initial matches were set. The yellow team was slated to play the blue team. Not that was a problem unto itself, the problem was that the girl who had broken her ribs was on the blue team and Ginny noticed her looking at her with an evil smirk on her face.

Ginny put on her game face and stared back at the girl, her eyes hard and unyielding and it was the other girl who broke eye contact, looking uneasy.

Ginny sighed unhappily when the green and red teams were called into the air, wanting to get into the air as soon as possible.

Not that the teams that weren't playing didn't have anything to do. They were expected to watch the teams playing and study the action looking for both good and bad things that happened.

To make sure they were paying attention, several of the coaches were wandering up and down, asking players what they had seen and what they might have done differently if appropriate.

Ginny smiled when she saw Sarah make a great save, musing briefly that she hadn't noticed she played Keeper before.

But then she winced and gave a small shrug. While Sarah had made a spectacular save, she took the safe close pass to one of the chasers.

She jumped a little when she heard barked behind her. "Weasley, what's your problem?"

Ginny turned and faced the coach. "While the keeper made a great save, she took the easy pass, missing the opportunity of creating a two on one if she had just looked to the other side and made that pass instead," Ginny replied evenly, not letting the scowl on the coach's face intimidate her at all.

"Don't you think that pass would be rather risky?" the coach pressed.

"Perhaps but by taking the risk she could have created a great scoring opportunity. Plus, I've been watching that Keeper and she has a strong arm and could have completed that pass rather easily," Ginny replied confidently.

Ginny heard the murmurs of the other hopefuls, most disagreeing with her sentiment.

"Well thought out," the coach replied with a curt nod and Ginny swore she saw a ghost of a smile on the woman's face, but then it was gone so quickly that Ginny wasn't sure she had really seen it.

"Listen up?" the coach cried loudly, so all the other players could hear. "Did you listen to what Weasley said? While the Keeper did take the safe route, she missed a prime opportunity for her team. Sometimes it's better to take the risk. Teams that don't, rarely go far into the finals. Weasley studied the Keeper and knew she had the arm strength to pull off the pass, something that all good Chasers should be doing," the woman instructed.

While Ginny was pleased by the praise, which was rarely handed out, she wished she hadn't kept saying her name because while many of the other players were nodding their heads as they processed what the coach had said, there were a fair number glaring at her and her "friend" on the blue team was one of them.

Ginny pushed it from her mind and returned her attention back to the play in front of her.

After about ten minutes, the whistle was blown and the coach motioned for the teams to switch places.

Ginny eagerly took her spot on the pitch, though she groaned softly when she saw her "friend" line up opposite of her.

At the ref's signal, everyone floated up to take their positions. As they hovered waiting for the toss of the Quaffle, the girl began to talk lowly to Ginny, keeping her face staring intently at the ref.

"You think your ribs hurt before, you just wait till I hit you again," she said lowly, only loud enough for Ginny to hear. "A little girl like you doesn't belong out here with us big girls," she sneered.

Then she took a quick glance at Ginny to see her reaction. Right at that moment the ref tossed the Quaffle and Ginny shot forward and snagged it out of the air, leaving her "friend" gawking and trying to catch her.

Ginny angled up and across the pitch, switching places with the other outside Chaser on her team.

Ginny smirked when she saw the opposing Chaser on that side switch coverage and begin to come at her. What she was smirking about was that her "friend" ignored her teammate's move and continued to chase after Ginny.

This freed up Ginny's teammate who was charging down the now open side.

Ginny's smile grew when she spotted a Bludger heading her way. At the last possible moment, she rolled up and over the Bludger and while she was upside down, she fired a hard pass to her open teammate.

As she finished her roll she heard the satisfying sound of the Bludger striking her pursuer hard.

Ginny ignored it and shot toward the opponent's goal, arriving just in time to take a return pass and fire it through the now open Hoops, the Keeper having gone across to cover the Chaser Ginny had passed to.

As she circled behind the Hoops her teammate swung by. "Great Pass," she shouted with a smile.

"You too," Ginny replied as they headed back up the pitch to take their defensive positions.

Ginny's smile grew when she spotted the medical personnel working on her "friend" down on the pitch and she couldn't but feel happy as she heard the coach berating the girl for being out of position.

Unfortunately, to Ginny's thinking, the girl was soon back up on her broom and was glaring daggers at her.

Ginny pushed it from her mind as play resumed.

The next ten minutes were some of the most intense Ginny ever had on a Quidditch Pitch. Her "friend" proved she was without a doubt, not her friend, attempting almost every possible violation of the rules to get back at her.

While Ginny wasn't particularly pleased, it did allow her team to take a great lead due to all the penalty shots that were awarded, not that they actually took them. Any time a coach or the ref spotted a blatant violation, they stopped play and awarded the offended team a goal as a lesson to the offending player and her team.

Needless to say Ginny's "friend" wasn't earning any friends among her teammates or the coaching staff.

In one respect, Ginny wanted to thank the girl. It had forced Ginny into a higher level of play, raising her awareness to a hyper-sensitive point, placing her in the "Zone".

Ginny just instinctually knew where the woman was and was able to concentrate on playing and because of that hyper awareness, she was doing so superbly.

She had scored five goals of her own and set up another four with brilliant passes.

That's not to say she wasn't paying a price either. Though her "friend" hadn't gotten a clean shot in on Ginny, there were a lot of close calls and minor to middling injuries from various hits, kicks, elbows and other various body parts thrown at her.

Her shoulder was aching from blocking an elbow aimed at her head that she was able to thwart at the last moment. She was sure her calf was deeply bruised from a kick to it as they had battled for the Quaffle.

Ginny's only consolation was that she had won that battle and set up another goal for her team.

She was just thankful that she'd been able to protect her ribs from being hit again.

Then, late in their time slot, it happened, or almost. Ginny had just intercepted the Quaffle from the other team by anticipating a risky pass from the opposing Keeper and she saw one of her teammates in a better position than herself. She fired off the pass as she saw, who else, but the proverbial thorn in her side, charging hard at her.

She had a fraction of a second more that the first time and was able to swerve and roll just before impact. Instead of taking another blow to her already damaged ribs, she got clipped a little higher. It still hurt like hell but it wasn't anywhere near what it could be.

That goal turned out to be the end of their session and the whistle blew. A tired and sore but elated Ginny slowly spiralled down and landed.

Her teammates all congratulated her, something she appreciated but wished that they hadn't been so exuberant in clapping her on her back and sore shoulder.

She had just sat down when Gwenog Jones walked past. Ginny was gobsmacked when the Quidditch Star gave her a small smile.

The girl sitting next it her leaned over. "Did . . . did I re-really just s-see Gwenog Jones smile?" she stammered. "She never smiles and I mean never."

Ginny just gave her a small smug shrug and reached for a bottle of water.

She had just gulped down about half of it when she heard the sound of a Bludger hitting someone hard, really hard. It was accompanied by the sick crunching sound of bones breaking.

Ginny turned her attention to the pitch and watched in horror as the Seeker on the green team spiralled down and crashed onto the pitch.

Immediately the medical personnel swarmed over her. She was quickly stabilized, loaded on a stretcher and hauled away.

Watching worriedly, feeling bad for the injured girl, she was startled when one of the coaches snapped, "Damn, where are we going to get another Seeker for the moment?"

Ginny scanned the benches and noticed the two other Seekers were missing.

She overheard several of the coaches talking.

"The Yellow Team Seeker is in getting an equipment problem sorted," one coach said in frustration.

"The Blue Team Seeker is at the medical tent having a minor serious problem looked at," another coach explained.

Of course Ginny and several of the other hopefuls smiled or chuckled at the description "minor serious problem".

One of the Senior coaches turned to the players sitting on the benches. "Has any one ever player Seeker before?" she asked, her eyes scanning the players.

Ginny took a quick glance up and down the bench and saw that no one was raising their hand or saying anything, other than to whisper to their neighbours.

Taking a deep breath, Ginny raised her hand, calling out, "I have."

The coach just looked at her stoically. "Get in there," she stated evenly.

The Green Team was huddled under their goal hoops, talking furiously. As Ginny slowly flew over and landed nearby, she heard them discussing their injured Seeker and what would they do now.

Sarah noticed Ginny approaching and she gave the red head a questioning smile.

"What are you doing here?" she asked looking confused. Not that she was alone in that as the rest of her teammates had the same look on their faces.

"I'm your new temporary Seeker," Ginny announced with a shrug.

"You play Seeker too?" Sarah asked in surprise.

"It's been a while, but yeah, I've played Seeker before," Ginny replied.

"Is there anything you can't do?" one of the Chasers asked.

"I haven't player Keeper," Ginny replied dryly.

It took Sarah a moment and then she burst out laughing. "I guess that's good for me then," she grinned.

Ginny smiled but before she could say anything the ref came over and told them to get into the air.

It didn't take long for her to realize her yellow pinnie made her stand out against the other players for both sides. At first it garnered quite a bit of attention from the red team's beaters but as she easily out manoeuvred and avoided their Bludgers, it died down and she was able to concentrate on searching for the Snitch.

She briefly wondered why they insisted on a second Seeker as they virtually never found the damn elusive thing during these short scrimmages.

It wasn't like finding it ended the scrimmage, it was done more to give the Seekers practice under game conditions. Not that it really mattered to her, it did give her more air time and let the coaches see another facet of her abilities.

Ginny shook her head as she got a glimpse of the other Seeker. The girl seemed to have a weird searching technique. Sometimes she trailed behind Ginny and then other times she go off on her own looking for the Snitch.

A couple of times she had feinted but for the most part they were half-hearted attempts and Ginny had no problem determining that she hadn't seen the Snitch.

The red team Seeker had just broken off from trailing Ginny once more when Ginny spotted the flash of the elusive golden orb.

She took a quick glance at the other Seeker and saw she was headed for the other side of the pitch, concentrating on her own search.

Ginny started a shallow dive, well short of the angle she really needed, in a copy of the half-hearted feints the other girl had done.

She saw the girl look at her, scan ahead of her trajectory and decide Ginny was feinting. As soon as the girl glanced away, Ginny steepened her dive and poured on the coals, accelerating to top speed in a matter of moments.

Just when she thought she was going to have an easy catch, the damn Snitch curved around and headed back the other way.

As fast as Ginny was going, she knew there was no way a normal turn would work and keep her behind the Snitch. Instead she nosed down vertically, corkscrewed and pulled up, directly behind the Snitch, cutting the distance in half.

The only problem was now the Snitch was headed back toward the other Seeker and it also gained the attention of the other teams Beaters.

She dodged one Bludger and then had to roll away from the second, doing so let the other Seeker close the distance.

Undeterred, Ginny flattened herself against her broom to get the last erg of speed she could.

The Snitch cut to her right with Ginny right behind, her arm out stretched as she slowly cut the distance from the golden winged ball.

The unfortunate result of the Snitch's cut was that it allowed the other Seeker to catch up. She came along side Ginny and began to veer into her, trying to bump her out of the way.

Ginny refused to yield and veered back, knocking the girl to the side causing her to have to struggle for a moment to regain full control of her broom.

That was just the moment Ginny needed to inch out in front and reach for the elusive Snitch. Just as her fingers wrapped around the little golden ball, a Bludger slammed into her forearm.

Ginny grimaced as she heard the sound of snapping bone but she kept her fingers firmly around the Snitch.

She heard the whistle blow and was taken by surprise when the other Seeker pulled up next to her. "Are you all right?" she asked worriedly.

Ginny shrugged. "I think my arm's broken," she replied.

"Come on, let's get you to the medical tent," the girl said with a small smile.

As they landed the other girl helped Ginny with her broom and she giggled when she saw that Ginny still had her hand wrapped around the Golden Snitch.

Ginny gave another little shrug as she blushed lightly. "With my arm broke it hurts if I try to relax my hand," she said apologetically.

The other girl smiled and nodded. "The same thing happened to me once. The coach complimented me on never letting go of the Snitch," she giggled. "Oh, and my name is Amanda Smythe-Weaton but all my friends call me Mandy," she added as she started to hold out her hand to shake Ginny's.

She stopped half way, looking embarrassed. "Oops, maybe I should wait before doing that," she commented sheepishly.

Ginny smiled and giggled herself. "Well, It's nice to meet you anyway. I'm Ginny Weasley," she introduced herself.

Just then Sarah came running up. "Are you all right?" she asked worriedly.

"I'm fine," Ginny replied reassuringly. "Just a broken forearm."

Sarah gave her a shocked look but before she could say anything someone called out "Next."

Ginny took a quick glance around. "Looks like that's me," she smiled.

She entered the tent where one of the trainers pointed her to a person across the tent. When Ginny arrived, her jaw dropped. "Madam Pomfrey?" she asked in surprise.

The woman looked up and smiled. "Miss Weasley, I'd say it's nice to see you but I wish it was under better circumstances," the matron said with a small smile.

"All right, let's get you sorted out," she continued, drawing her wand.

"Not that it's not nice to see you but what are you doing here?" Ginny asked.

"When the Healer had to accompany someone who was injured rather severely to St Mungo's, I was called in as a back up," Poppy explained.

She finished casting her diagnostic spells and frowned. "Tut, tut," she clucked. "A complete fracture of the Ulna and a hairline fracture of the Radius. Well, I'll have you fixed up in a jiffy," she reassured Ginny.

With a twirl and wave of her wand, Ginny's arm briefly glowed a pale blue.

"Ahh," Ginny sighed. "That feels so much better."

"I'm glad it was you and not Lockhart," she giggled.

"Yes, quite," Poppy replied with a small smirk. "I still remember poor Mr Potter having to take Skele-Gro," she sighed with a shake of her head.

"Speaking of Mr Potter, how is he doing?" she asked, her eyes gleaming with delight.

"Harry's doing fine," Ginny giggled in surprise. She hadn't known that Poppy was aware that they were dating.

"Well, give him my best when you see him," Poppy laughed.

"I'll do that," Ginny replied happily. Wondering what Harry's reaction would be to Pomfrey sending her greetings.

"Right. Try to keep your arm protected for the next day or so and you should be right as rain," Poppy stated, getting back to the matter at hand.

"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," Ginny smiled.

"You're welcome, and since we're not at Hogwarts, Poppy is fine," the matron said with a grin.

"Poppy it is then," Ginny replied with a smile before she headed off, seeing that there were others waiting for treatment.

As she exited the Healer's tent she saw Sarah and Mandy off to the side chatting amicably and she turned to head over to them.

Her journey was interrupted by one of the coaches. "Weasley!" she called out, catching Ginny's attention.

"Yes, Coach?" Ginny asked, wondering what the woman wanted.

"What the hell were you doing? Why did you risk yourself going after the Snitch when you're not even trying out to be a Seeker?" the woman asked with a scowl.

"I, ah," Ginny stammered, starting to feel quite anxious. Then her hackles raised. "I didn't even think about it. Once in the air, I concentrated on being the best Seeker I could be and as far as I remember, the Seeker's job is to catch the Snitch," she snapped, feeling quite annoyed.

Far from being intimidated by Ginny's sharp rebuke, the coach glared at her. "So you'd risk your chance at gaining a Chaser's spot by your actions as a Seeker?" the woman growled.

Ginny refused to back down. "The other coach asked if anyone had any Seeker experience and I did so she sent me in. I wasn't going to refuse a valid request by one of the coaches. She sent me in as a Seeker and that's what I did," she retorted hotly.

Ginny was surprised when the coach didn't say anything else, she just gave Ginny a curt nod and left.

She watched the coach as she walked away, feeling gobsmacked by the whole encounter.

She was startled out of her thoughts by Sarah and Mandy coming over to her.

"Wow, you sure didn't let Coach intimidate you," Mandy quipped with a grin.

"Yeah, I mean I can kind of see her point, but like you said, the other coach put you in as a Seeker, where does she come off getting on your case when that's what you did," Sarah added.

Then Sarah gave her a sheepish look. "Though if you don't mind my asking, why did you try so hard? You looked pretty knackered from just coming off your own scrimmage but you went out there full tilt. Not that I think that's a bad thing," she said apologetically.

Ginny shrugged her shoulders. "It's just the way I am. I love flying and Quidditch. Put me in a scrimmage or game and I just do the best I can. I don't even think about it. Hell, if they asked me to play Keeper I'd do my damnedest to keep the other team from scoring," Ginny explained whole-heartedly.

"I think coach was only upset because you got injured," Mandy remarked thoughtfully.

Ginny just shrugged again. "Injuries are part of the game. Any time you're flying either in practice or in a game you risk getting injured. If you're not willing to take the risk, you shouldn't be here," she replied passionately.

Neither Sarah nor Mandy could argue with her on that point.

The next couple of days passed much the same as the first three. Ginny added a few more bumps and bruises though she didn't break any more bones.

Though her "friend" wasn't quite as aggressive and thankfully Ginny didn't fly against her the one afternoon, the other Chasers weren't above trying to use their bigger size against her. Though physical, it wasn't malicious, even so, Ginny was taking a beating, not that she was going to let that dissuade her.

The biggest change was in the evenings. She, Sarah and Mandy began to hang out together in the lounge area attached to where the dorms were.

They studied the playbook together and then had some fun, chatting, playing Exploding Snap, just getting to know one another better.

Ginny got a huge surprise when they headed off to bed that first night. Sarah and Mandy followed her into her room.

Every room was set up for two or three and Ginny was in one for three. She looked at her friends in confusion, causing them to giggle.

"We asked the other girls in here if they wouldn't mind switching," Sarah explained.

"And they didn't," Mandy added with her own giggle.

"When?" Ginny asked bewilderedly.

"When you went to get your ribs checked and the tape removed," Sarah replied with a grin.

Ginny couldn't help but smile widely. She realized that she had made two really good friends, ones she knew she'd keep in touch with even if none of them made the team.

They had such a good time chatting after light's out that one of the assistant coaches had to yell at them to get them to go to sleep. It reminded Ginny of her days in the dorms at Hogwarts when she and her dorm-mates had laid in bed and talked quietly, late into the night.

Unfortunately that made her think of Harry because he had been a frequent subject of those late night gab feasts.

She sighed, really missing him. He'd been the only one that totally supported her when she had found out she had the try out with the Harpies.

Sure her father and George had been happy for her but they had problems of their own they were dealing with. George was still a bit lost without Fred and struggling to get Weasley Wizard Wheezes back up and running, so the fact he hadn't paid that much attention to what she was doing wasn't all that unexpected.

As for her father, well, he was still trying to handle her mother. She was still over reacting to just about everything and her coming to the try out was just one example. In her opinion, he deserved a sainthood.

That had only made her all that much more aware of Harry's loving support. He had been there every step of the way to urge her on, listen when she needed to vent about her mother or sometimes just hold her till she could calm down and think clearly once again. She didn't know what she would have done without him.

Ginny was finally able to fall asleep, but her dreams were filled with a certain raven haired, green eyed young man and what they'd do when they ended up living together or better yet, when they got married.

Ginny awoke on Friday morning feeling a bit anxious, along with every other hopeful. Today was the day the firsts cuts were going to be announced and even the cocky, knew they were going to make the team, attitude girls knew that no one's spot was guaranteed.

Everyone had been informed the first day during orientation that ability wasn't enough and someone needed those elusive intangibles if they were going to make the Harpies.

The cafeteria was jammed packed as every hopeful knew that they needed to be there as the list of who needed to see the coaches would be posted sometime during breakfast.

Ginny, Sarah and Mandy sat together like they had always done since they became friends. They found it interesting as how the noise level began to rise to begin with until it reached its peak about halfway through the meal and then slowly declined until you could hear the proverbial wand drop.

The three noticed as several girls got up and headed back toward the lounge and it was about a minute later when they heard a long drawn out screaming "Nooooooooooo!"

A moment later a couple of the assistant coaches and trainers along with one or two of the assistant Healers hurried from the room.

Ginny, Mandy and Sarah all exchanged glances.

"I guess that means the list has been posted," Sarah said calmly as she sipped her tea. Though Ginny did notice her tea cup rattle slightly when she set it down.

Ginny was surprised she was acting pretty much the same, calm on the outside and a little nervous on the inside.

She smiled and almost giggled when she noticed Mandy staring at the remains of her breakfast and then toward the door as if she was unsure if she wanted to finish eating or hurry to check the list.

"Relax, the list is posted and you can't change what's on it. Finish eating and we'll check it together on the way back to the dorm," Ginny said calmly, giving her friend an encouraging smile.

She did end up giggling when she saw Sarah sigh at the same time Mandy did.

"How can you be so calm?" Sarah asked nervously.

"Like I said, the list is posted and isn't going to change whether we rush over there now or if we sit here and enjoy the rest of our breakfast," Ginny replied with a smile.

Her smile increased when she saw her two friends relax and begin eating again.

By the time they were finished hardly anyone else remained in the cafeteria. There had been a few more cases of hysterics but not that many, it seemed most of those who were cut handled it well.

"Well Ladies, shall we go check on our fates?" Ginny asked with a grin.

She received nods from her two friends and without further ado, they rose and headed for the bulletin board and the dreaded "List".

As one, they huddled shoulder to shoulder and began to scan the list.

Slowly smiles broke out on all their faces, none of them were listed.

"That's a relief," Sarah sighed.

"Oh, Please," Ginny chided her playfully. "You're without a doubt the best Keeper hopeful here. I never doubted that you'd make the first cut and I'm certain that you'll make the team when all's said and done."

Sarah had the temerity to grin sheepishly. "Well I didn't want to presume anything, even if I agree with you," she laughed while blushing deeply.

Ginny and Mandy laughed along with her.

They were still teasing one another when they entered the lounge on their way to their room to get ready for that morning's session.

Ginny was slightly in front of Mandy and Sarah, with her head turned back over her shoulder, listening to something Mandy was saying to Sarah.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed movement and she was just able to spin out of the way as someone came barrelling at her, missing getting hit by mere inches.

Ginny continued her spin until she was facing back the way she had come, her feet spreading apart slightly as she bent her knees and she fisted her hands as she settled into one of the martial arts stances Harry had taught the DA, ready to confront the person who had tried to run her down.

Somehow she wasn't all that surprised to find herself facing her "friend" from the Quidditch pitch.

The girl was scowling at her, but Ginny could see the surprised look on her face as she wondered how she hadn't managed to hit her intended target.

Ginny prepared to defend herself because it was obvious by the look on the other girl's face that she was going to try again.

"Smithers, take one step toward her and I'll have you banned from Quidditch for life!" Gwenog Jones barked fiercely.

Ginny stared at Smithers intensely, never blinking, as she saw the conflicting emotions in the girl's eyes. For a brief moment it appeared that the girl was going to ignore Gwenog's warning but then she snarled as she spun away, stalking out of the door to the lounge.

It was then that Ginny noticed that she had her duffel slung over her shoulder. She didn't relax until Smithers disappeared from sight.

Ginny felt her limbs begin to shake slightly as her muscles began to burn up the excess adrenalin that had flooded her bloodstream.

She noticed Sarah and Mandy staring at her in awe but it was the curt nod and hint of a smile from Gwenog that really caught her attention.

Though the iconic superstar didn't say anything, Ginny could feel her sense of approval.

Just as Gwenog disappeared, Ginny began to feel light-headed and she flopped down into a nearby chair. Sarah and Mandy came running over to her looking all concerned.

"Are you all right?" Mandy asked in fright, seeing how pale Ginny had become.

"Yeah, I'll be fine in a moment," Ginny replied, already beginning to feel better.

"What happened?" Sarah asked sitting down next to Ginny, still watching her with concern.

"After a Fight or Flight episode the body reacts to get rid of the excess adrenalin and sometimes over does it. It can leave you feeling weak and light-headed for a moment," Ginny sighed in explanation.

She took a couple of deep breaths, then leaned over until her torso was almost flat. She stayed that way for a couple of seconds before she sat back up and her friends were happy to see the colour returning to her cheeks.

"How do you know all this stuff?" Mandy asked with a puzzled look.

"What?" Ginny asked, sounding somewhat irritated.

"The stuff about that Fight or Flight thing and what was that stance you fell into?" Mandy clarified, somewhat hesitantly because of the way Ginny had snapped at her.

Ginny realized how she had sounded and gave Mandy an apologetic smile as she squeezed her arm lightly. "Sorry, the irritability is another effect of the adrenalin," she explained softly. "As for the other stuff, I learned it during the war. Harry taught us during the DA meetings," she continued with a shrug.

"Harry?" Sarah asked questioningly.

"The DA?" Mandy asked at the same time.

"Harry Potter. You must of heard of him," Ginny replied smugly with a huge smile, looking at Sarah.

She then turned her head to Mandy. "The DA stands for Dumbledore's Army. A group formed to teach us DADA and other techniques so we knew how to defend ourselves and fight back," she explained. "Harry was the one who taught us."

"You went to school with The Harry Potter?" Sarah squealed.

"Shhh," Ginny scolded her friend. Glancing around and noticing several of the other hopefuls looking their way. "I don't want any one to know I know him," she growled softly.

"You know him?" Mandy asked softly but intently, her eyes bugging out slightly.

Ginny sighed in frustration. She really hadn't meant to let that Kneazle out of the bag. "We'll talk later," she stalled. "We need to get changed and I still need to get my ribs taped."

Mollified for the moment, they hurried to their room and got ready, Sarah and Mandy heading directly for the locker room and Ginny hurrying off to get her ribs taped for what hopefully was the last time.

She was under strict orders to have them taped until the end of the week and be re-evaluated over the weekend.

Ginny was really hopeful that she'd be freed from having her ribs taped as she didn't like the confining feeling of the binding of her torso, plus the weekend wouldn't be nearly as dangerous as on Saturday they only had light drills and Sunday just a couple of team meetings and strategy sessions.

By the time she'd had her ribs taken care of and donned her Quidditch gear Ginny was running late and was the last one out on the pitch.

She winced when she saw one of the coaches watching her as she entered the stadium, expecting to get a dressing down for being late.

Instead she was gobsmacked when the coach smiled at her. "Take you time. We heard about this morning and everything's fine," the woman said softly, not wanting to bring any undue attention to Ginny.

"Thanks Coach," Ginny replied as she hurried to join the other players already in the air doing their warm ups.

As soon as she hit the edge of the Pitch, Ginny rocketed into the air, a huge smile on her face. She wasn't surprised when Sarah and Mandy joined her and after her friends made sure she was okay, they finished their warm ups.

Since the cuts had been made there were only enough players for two teams with a couple of subs for most positions. The Keepers and Seekers being the exception.

Like before, the morning was given over to drills but they were even more intense than they had been.

Ginny revelled in it, loving the added challenge it posed. Everything was done much faster and the expectations of the coaches were higher.

Though Ginny missed a few passes and shots, she knew she had done as well as any of the others, everybody having to get used to the greater speed.

By the time lunch rolled around, everyone was showing the effects of the increased work. There had been much less time to get back in line and everyone took many more turns through the rotation.

As before, Ginny had to see the trainer before she could eat lunch but she was surprised when she got to the cafeteria and found Sarah and Mandy had gotten her lunch for her and had it waiting at the table.

She smiled at the thoughtfulness of her friends as she sat down and tucked in. It did save her some time but she still had to hurry so she could get her ribs retaped for the afternoon session.

With the added time she was able to get her ribs taken care of and joined the others in the locker room and wasn't late for the afternoon session.

As the assignments were handed out Ginny, Sarah and Mandy were pleased when they ended up on the same team.

As with that morning's drills the afternoon scrimmages were much more intense. While Ginny did add a few new bumps and bruises it wasn't because anyone was trying to hurt her. It was just hard play, doing the best one could.

Since there were only two teams, the scrimmages lasted longer and there were breaks in between where they discussed the play and went over strategies. Things becoming more intense and detailed as the selection process progressed.

Ginny found herself revelling in it. She'd never had more fun playing Quidditch, well, except for when she played against Harry but that was for totally different reasons and she found herself blushing when Mandy elbowed her lightly and asked what she had been thinking about.

From the looks she received from Mandy and Sarah she knew she'd be hearing about it later. That made her think about the impending conversation she had promised to have and she shook her head, wondering how she got herself into these situations.

As the afternoon wore on the coaches started to switch players around, pairing different groups of players to see how well they did and how they handled playing with different combinations.

So it was that Ginny ended up playing against Sarah. During the break they both had told the other not to take it easy on the other.

Over all it turned out well with Ginny scoring a number of goals and Sarah making some stellar saves against the red head. Though Ginny found it amusing that when after she had scored, Sarah would glare at her, but Ginny could see the humour in her eyes and the way the corners of her mouth would quirk up.

By the time practice was over everyone was dragging and groaning from the workout they'd been through.

Even Ginny was grateful when the coaches called it a day, though she still felt happy about how she had done. She was really ecstatic when the Healer was there when the trainer removed the tape and after a perfunctory check, deemed Ginny's ribs well enough so she didn't have to have them taped up any more.

She joined Sarah and Mandy in the locker room, and they were both happy to hear that Ginny didn't have to have her ribs taped any more though both teased her lightly, but with serious intent, about watching out for herself in the coming week.

Ginny felt a small lump form in her throat because of how much it meant to her that they cared so much for her.

They all lingered in the showers, letting to hot water ease their aching muscles and it was a much refreshed and happier trio that exited the locker room to head back to their dorm to get ready for dinner.

Even though the cafeteria wasn't as crowded because of the departure of many of the hopefuls, several other girls came over and sat down with them.

Ginny, Mandy and Sarah recognized many by name but everyone introduced themselves anyway.

Everyone began to chat as they ate, they were all relaxed and had a wonderful time talking, mainly about the training and the scrimmages but after that was mostly exhausted, it branched out into other things.

Ginny couldn't help but notice some of the other players watching or glaring at the small group. She recognized that the ones who were glaring were the ones who kept mainly to themselves, rarely interacting with anyone else after practice.

There were also a fair number who were looking at them that appeared more curious than anything else.

Ginny shrugged and turned her attention to Sarah and one of the new girls, Randi if her memory served her, they asked her opinion on the new Weird Sisters' album and Ginny smiled, delving right into the conversation as the Weird Sisters were her favourite group.

Later that evening when Ginny looked back on it, her impression was of laughter and giggling, how everyone in their group was enjoying themselves and growing closer. Sarah and Mandy both commented that they had similar impressions.

Finally when they all headed off to their room for the night, Ginny wasn't surprised that as soon as they'd all crawled into bed, Sarah and Mandy turned and looked at her expectantly.

"Okay, spill Weasley," Sarah said excitedly, with Mandy nodding her head vigorously in agreement.

Ginny sighed and explained about her and Harry. She ended up telling them almost everything, only leaving out the intimate details of what she and Harry got up to.

When she wound down, Mandy looked at her wide-eyed. "He actually killed a Basilisk and saved your life?" she asked in a hushed tone.

"Yes," Ginny reassured her with a sigh.

"Wow," Sarah said softly, right before she giggled. "Your own Knight in Shining Armour," she added, her eyes sparkling mischievously.

"Yeah," Ginny replied thoughtfully, "though Harry doesn't see it that way. To him, it was just doing what he thought was right."

"Brave and humble," Mandy sighed wistfully.

"Yeah, brave, humble, noble to a fault, but lets not forget pig-headedly stubborn, has a nasty temper, and he can be a real prat at times too," Ginny replied with a smile.

"Ah, so he's not just your boyfriend," Sarah said knowingly, her eyes shining brightly.

"What's that?" Ginny asked, slightly apprehensively

"You're in love with him," Sarah replied with a warm look.

Ginny couldn't help herself and blushed deeply. "Yeah I am," she replied sheepishly.

"I take it from your look, he loves you too," Sarah sighed, not really needing the redhead's answer.

"Yeah," Ginny whispered, sounding awed by her revelation. She still found it hard to believe sometimes that Harry had chosen her. Plain, poor Ginny Weasley.

"You'd better invite me to the wedding," Sarah and Mandy squealed at the same time.

"We're not even engaged yet," Ginny replied, rolling her eyes, though she did have a huge grin on her face.

When her friends gave her questioning looks, she explained how she wanted to establish herself first so that she got whatever position she did on her own merit and not because she was Harry's fiancée.

Ginny was pleased when her friends understood, but still insisted they wanted to be invited to the wedding, whenever it took place.

The next morning all three were surprised to see that their little group had grown by several more members and they ended up pushing a couple of tables together to accommodate everyone.

Since it was Saturday they didn't need to rush off and get ready to head to the pitch. There would be a team meeting and strategy session before light drills that afternoon.

Because of that, most of the growing group hung around after breakfast, chatting and having a good time.

Ginny grew slightly concerned when she noticed Gwenog glancing at the group but it disappeared when she saw the usually stoic woman give her a curt nod and small smile.

She glanced quickly to Sarah and Mandy to see if they had seen the same thing but both were involved in conversations and were oblivious to it.

Ginny was further surprised when at the team meeting everyone from their morning's group all sat together and a couple more girls joined them.

Right before the meeting got under way, Sarah leaned over and whispered, "This is getting a little creepy. I mean I've never been popular."

Ginny rolled her eyes at her friend. She was one of the most out going, easy to get to know people she'd ever met.

When Sarah saw her look, she blushed slightly. "I wasn't always like this. Believe it or not I used to be painfully shy and had a hard time being in other people's presence let alone talking to them," she explained softly.

Ginny smiled at her, remembering how she was when she was young and just starting at Hogwarts. She had been almost as bad, worse if she was anywhere near Harry.

After the meeting, they headed off to lunch and they ended up having to get three tables to accommodate everyone as a few more had joined them. They ended up forming a large U so no one was too far away from anyone else.

Ginny couldn't help but notice that now well over half of those remaining in camp were now sitting with her, Mandy and Sarah. And it was those three that seemed the centre of attention, something that astounded the three of them.

Sure they'd all been fairly popular where they had come from, but none of them had been what you'd consider the centre of attention before.

The good thing was that they all had shared looks, shrugged and giggled, not really caring one iota if they were the centre of attention or not. They all were just enjoying the camaraderie they were feeling with the other Harpies hopefuls.

During the afternoon "light" drills, Ginny couldn't hide how wonderful it felt to be flying without having her ribs taped. Even when a couple of the coaches had scowled at her, she couldn't wipe the smile from her face.

Unencumbered she flew with incredible ease, excelling at the drills, especially the one on one with the Keeper.

Fortunately she ended up going against the other Keeper and not Sarah as she scored eighteen out of twenty attempts, totally unaware that no one else had come even close to her total.

It wasn't until the drills were over and Sarah come over to her that she became aware of her achievement.

Sarah gave her such a look, one half awe and half relief. "Damn, I'm glad you weren't going against me," she gulped, half in jest.

Ginny gave her a small glare. "What are you going on about?" she asked in irritation.

Mandy shook her head, giving a small laugh. "She doesn't even know," she teased.

"What?" Ginny demanded, not feeling comfortable with the way things were going.

"Oh Ginny, you're not realizing what you did just proves what an exceptional player and person you are," Sarah giggled lightly as she hugged Ginny.

Ginny just looked at her in confusion, still not understanding what was going on.

Sarah chuckled and explained what she and Mandy were talking about.

Ginny's brow furrowed as she tried to think back on the drill. Yeah she could remember missing the two shots but they had been particularly difficult ones and she was sure there had to be several more that she had failed to score on.

Sarah and Mandy just giggled and told her no she hadn't missed any others.

Ginny tried unsuccessfully to convince them they were wrong but they wouldn't be dissuaded.

"Godric Ginny. Trust me, I was watching closely, as were most of the coaches," she teased with a wink.

Ginny still refused to believe them, shaking her head and repeating that they must be mistaken.

"Merlin's Balls Ginny. I swear watching you fly is unbelievable. You look like you belong there right along with the Quaffle, Bludgers and the Snitch," Mandy cried in frustration, though she was still smiling widely.

Ginny blushed to the roots of her hair and mumbled something that sounded vaguely appreciative, causing Sarah and Mandy to chuckle softly, their eyes conveying just how much they really cared.

That night at dinner the dynamics continued to change with several more girls joining their group. All told not quite three quarters of the remaining hopefuls were now seated together.

It was obvious that there were two distinct camps among the remaining players. The group sitting together with Ginny, Sarah and Mandy and the others, the ones that mainly sat by themselves and didn't appear to want to be part of the group.

It wasn't until later, when they were sitting in their dorm room that Ginny was able to identify the two groups completely.

The one's that sat by themselves and didn't interact with the rest were the ones that saw themselves in direct competition with every one else who was there.

They didn't want to become close or become friends with anyone in case they beat them out or were beaten out by them for a spot on the team. They weren't willing to risk hurt feelings in either direction.

In contrast the group that hung around with her, Sarah and Mandy realized they weren't really in direct competition with the others. In reality their job was to impress the coaches, learn as much as they could and if they were in competition with anyone it was themselves.

It was all about playing to the best of your ability, pushing yourself harder each and every moment you were out there flying and prove to yourself and the coaches that you belonged there.

Plus showing that you were willing to help the team any way you could didn't hurt either.

Ginny found herself feeling sorry for the ones who wouldn't join them. They were missing an opportunity to make life-long friends or even if they didn't do that, they were missing out on one of the prime purposes of a team. The feeling of belonging with people who had just as much passion about the game as you did. A chance to kick back, relax and have fun.

Training camp was hard enough and to go the whole two weeks without laughing and relaxing sure sounded like a horrible way to be for the two weeks of the training camp.

Sunday was a blissful day that gave the women a chance to really unwind. Yes they had a couple of team meetings, one right after lunch was a one and a half hour strategy session where they went over all the plays again and discussed how well the players had done in executing the formations during their practice games.

Though pretty laid back, no one escaped unscathed as the coaches picked at every error, no matter how small.

It wasn't until they were leaving and heading for a break before the next meeting would take place at three when Mandy's forehead had furrowed in thought and she glanced at Ginny.

"What"?" Ginny asked, seeing the look her friend was giving her.

"I'm trying to remember how many times I heard your name called," Mandy replied with a shrug.

Ginny halted in her tracks, her eyes widening as she thought furiously. She glanced at Sarah and Mandy, both who were looking back at her, still looking thoughtful.

"I can't think of more than once," Sarah said slowly, her eyes still darting around as she thought furiously.

"I think you're right," agreed Mandy.

Ginny tried not to look at her friends, her own mind combing through the last hour and a half, trying to remember anything more than that one time when she had been taken to task for being a little late in forming up when the temporary lead Chaser had called out the Garnier – Barrel – Arrow formation.

It was because it had taken Ginny a moment to remember the damn thing. Even in their playbooks it was listed as out of date and useless. It was an overly complicated, ridiculous formation that had been developed by "The Flying Frenchman", Jean Claude Garnier back in 1477 for the second Quidditch World Cup.

With his insistence of using the horrible thing, France had lost to Luxenbourg by the appalling score of 750 to 10, even though Luxenbourg had been flying clearly inferior brooms. The worst loss in World Cup history. No one had ever used it in a game since.

Even Gwenog couldn't explain why it was still in the Harpies' playbook.

Ginny just shrugged it off, though Sarah, Mandy and several of the more recent additions to their group couldn't help but comment on how unusual that was.

Their half hour break was quickly eaten up by trips to the loo and grabbing a quick snack and something to drink before they needed to be back for the three o'clock meeting that had more to do with what was expected of anyone who made the Harpies, the team's history, publicity and the like.

Fortunately the meeting was only for an hour and after that, they had the rest of the afternoon off.

With an hour before dinner, almost everyone headed back to the lounge to relax.

Ginny finished up a letter to Harry, that she had been working on for a couple of days, telling him how much she was enjoying herself, how hard everything was and the amount of time they spent training.

Though she didn't sugar coat things, informing him of the injuries she had sustained, not that she really wanted to, but she wouldn't hide anything from him. She loved and respected him too much to lie to him, he deserved to know everything that happened to her, both the good and the bad.

She finished her letter and had enough time to join Sarah and Mandy in a game of Exploding Snap before they headed off to dinner.

Ginny took a slight detour and using one of the post owls that the Harpies had on hand, sent her letter off to Harry.

She took the teasing from her two friends good naturedly though they did get her to blush several times.

"Really you two," she sighed in frustration. "I'm only sixteen and won't be seventeen until August," she replied defensively.

Her two friends gave her sympathetic looks.

"I'm sorry for teasing you so much. The thing is I have a hard time remembering you're only sixteen, you act so much more mature," Sarah said softly with Mandy nodding her head in agreement.

Ginny gave them a small wan smile, unable to stop herself from thinking about why she was more mature than a normal sixteen year old.

By then they had reached the cafeteria and they sat down to eat dinner. Their talk turned to much more pleasant topics and it was a much happier and more relaxed group that headed back to the lounge.

The two groups had become even more entrenched, something that the coaches watched closely and if they noticed Ginny being at the centre of the one group and the one the other girls listened to and looked up to, they didn't make any comments, at least to the hopefuls.

The next week flew by with the training becoming even more intense and tiring. Each progressing evening the hopefuls came off the pitch feeling more tired and stressed out.

It only took a couple of days for Ginny to notice that there were two new subgroups amongst the hopefuls. The first was one, that though thoroughly exhausted at the end of each day of training, found a way to deal with it and tried even harder, relishing the challenge.

Then there was the other group, it was obvious that they were being worn down by the more intense training and were beginning to falter, having a harder time adapting and keeping with with the increased pace.

The other part she noticed when she had figured it out was that the majority of those who did better and rose to the challenge were members of the group that hung together, sat in the evenings in the lounge and laughed and joked. Sure sometimes there was some grumbling about the added work but it was usually good natured and once said, forgotten about as the talk moved on to other things.

The other group was comprised of mainly those who kept to themselves and didn't interact with others.

That's not to say there weren't members of the different groups were strictly from the two different main groups but the ones who weren't were in a distinct majority.

The other thing Ginny has noticed was how often she heard one of the coaches yelling her name.

"Weasley, what were you thinking."

"Weasley, you were a second late."

"Weasley, you were out of position."

"Weasley. . . Weasley. . . Weasley!"

If she heard it once, she swore she heard it a thousand times.

At first it ruffled her feathers a bit, wondering why she seemed to be singled out more than anyone else and more often than not it was Gwenog herself doing the yelling.

It took a little while for Ginny to figure it out but once she had, she couldn't help but smile. It had taken her noticing which other players got yelled at for her to finally think it through.

Wednesday evening came and after dinner Ginny was so sore and tired, she begged off sitting up in the lounge and went in and flopped face first onto her bed.

She couldn't remember a time before in her life where she hurt so much and was so tired. She felt like she could just lay in her bed for a week without moving.

The thing was, even with as tired as she felt, she knew she wouldn't be falling asleep any time soon. It was her body that was tired, not her brain. If anything it was going full bore, thinking about what she had done that day and what she could have done better.

She was jolted out of her thinking by Sarah and Mandy coming onto the room but instead of climbing into their own beds, they came over to Ginny's.

"Ginny, are you okay?" Sarah asked softly with great concern.

Ginny cracked one eye open and glanced blearily up at her two friends. "'M fii," she mumbled tiredly.

"Are you sure?" Mandy asked, sounding just as concerned as Sarah.

"Yeah, jus' ti-rd," Ginny muttered, sounding as if it took all her energy just to reply.

Sarah looked at her apprehensively. "You – you aren't thinking of quitting, are you," she said lowly, as if she were afraid to hear the answer.

She and Mandy jumped when Ginny rolled over and sat up so fast it started them.

"What! Are you crazy?!" Ginny yelled, her eyes blazing. "How can you think I'd do a thing like that?" she asked indignantly.

Sarah and Mandy cringed, looking totally guilty. "I didn't think you would really, it's just that you've never skived off from sitting around with everyone before," she explained softly, her eyes sad and troubled.

"Oh," Ginny replied, flopping back face first on her bed. "Sorry for over reacting but I just never thought someone would think I'd be quitting," she remarked softly.

"So you're not dropping out?" Mandy asked hesitantly, sounding hopeful.

"No, I'm not dropping out," Ginny replied, rolling her eyes.

She sighed heavily. "I mean it's not like I haven't thought about what it would be like to get to sleep in all morning, or not have to get out of bed if I didn't want to and I sure will appreciate not feeling so bloody exhausted all the time but I'm not going to leave when there's only a few days left," she explained tiredly.

Sarah flopped down on her own bed but sitting up against the wall. "Oh Godric, I know what you mean. I ache in places I didn't know I could ache in," she sighed.

Mandy also laid down on her bed. "Me too. And that not getting out of bed if I wouldn't want to? I dream about that all the time," she sighed.

"I think almost everyone in our group has said something similar," Sarah observed quietly. "I know I feel the same way, just the chance to get an extra five, ten or fifteen minutes sleep would be a blessing," she sighed dreamily.

Ginny giggled. "I know, it would be like getting an extra hour at home."

Sarah and Mandy giggled too. "Yeah, wouldn't it?" Mandy sighed amusingly.

"Ummm, and lingering over a second or even third cup of tea in the morning, or whenever you got up," Sarah chuckled.

"Sounds heavenly," Ginny sighed happily.

There was several moments of quiet while each of them thought about what being at home would be like.

"I'm sorry for doubting you," Sarah finally whispered sadly.

"Don't worry about it," Ginny groaned as she shifted, trying to find a more comfortable spot.

"You're a great friend," Sarah whispered sincerely.

"So are you," Ginny replied, moaning a little as she still tried to find a comfortable spot.

"But . . ." Sarah began.

"You were worried enough to come and check on me, something only a real friend would do," Ginny explained, cutting her off.

"Thanks," Sarah murmured.

"Umm," Ginny grunted, too tired to speak any more.

They chatted quietly for a while but then Sarah and Mandy noticed Ginny wasn't talking or answering questions any more and when they looked closely, they saw the young redhead had fallen asleep.

Thursday started just as early and intensely as the previous days and practice hadn't been underway when everyone heard "Weasley, pick up the pace!"

Sarah and Mandy exchanged worried looks. They'd also noticed that Ginny seemed to be singled out more than anyone else.

As Ginny returned to get back in line to continue the drill, Sarah and Mandy caught her eye. They expected her to be upset at being yelled at once again but they were gobsmacked when Ginny gave them a small smile.

Mandy looked at Sarah, her face filled with concern. "You don't think she's finally cracked, do you?" she asked worriedly.

Sarah took a quick glance at Ginny before looking back at Mandy. "Godric I hope not," she sighed. "At least I don't think she has."

The morning drills continued and while Ginny's name wasn't the only one yelled out, it seemed to be heard more than anyone else's.

On the way to lunch, Mandy and Sarah held Ginny back, wanting to talk to her in private.

"Um, Ginny, is there, um, some reason you're not, um, upset at being singled out so much?" Sarah asked hesitantly.

"Yeah there is," Ginny chuckled with a small smile.

Mandy and Sarah exchanged a quick glance, both frowning slightly.

"Are you going to share?" Mandy asked lowly.

"No, I don't think I'm going too, at least not yet," Ginny replied, her eyes dancing mischievously.

When her two friends stared at her in surprise, she said "You two are fairly intelligent, so if you haven't figured it out by tonight, I'll tell you," she laughed.

Sarah and Mandy huffed in annoyance but Ginny wouldn't say anything else, just giving them a smug smirk.

The afternoon scrimmages went much like the morning drills and while Ginny wasn't yelled at quite as much, there were still times that Gwenog could be heard yelling "Weasley! . . ."

Finally training for the day came to an end. Once they were in the locker room, Ginny saw Sarah and Mandy looking to her expectantly.

"Later," was all she said, having to fight from breaking out in laughter when she saw their disappointed faces.

Though not really happy about it, her two friends calmed down, knowing that they'd get their answer soon enough.

After dinner they spent some time relaxing with the others in the lounge before they finally headed off to bed.

As soon as the door shut Sarah and Mandy looked at Ginny expectantly.

Ginny giggled and slowly got changed for bed, paying scant attention to her two friends.

"Ginnyyyyyy!" Mandy finally whinged.

Ginny gave them an amused sigh. "Are you telling me neither of you have figured it out yet?" she asked disappointedly.

Sarah and Mandy shared an apologetic stare and sighed sadly, nodding their heads.

"I guess not," Sarah sighed.

Ginny shook her head and gave a soft chuckle. "I can't believe neither of you figured it out," she commented lowly, her eyes taking on a distant look.

"Are you going to tell us or not?" Mandy asked, sounding rather desperate.

Ginny's focus snapped back to her two friends. "Who's names have you heard the most being called out?" she asked, rather than just tell them.

Sarah and Mandy looked at each other, their foreheads wrinkling in thought.

"Well, of course there's you and . . . Parker," Sarah said slowly.

"And Crothers and Bailey . . ." added Mandy.

"Umm, and Driscoll, " Sarah added, thinking hard.

When they fell silent and looked at each other, Ginny said "And you two."

"But not as often," Sarah protested.

"But you were still mentioned," Ginny corrected with a grin.

Both nodded though it looked like they didn't quite agree.

"So, that's seven that got yelled at the most," Mandy remarked, looking at Ginny hopefully.

"Think about each of the players," Ginny prompted with a smirk.

Sarah and Mandy both concentrated hard, glancing at one another and Ginny occasionally.

It took several minutes but then Sarah groaned and flopped back onto her bed.

"What?" Mandy screeched, looking back and forth from Sarah to Ginny and back.

Figured it have you?" Ginny asked with a grin.

Sarah sat up, shaking her head. "I can't believe it," she whispered lowly.

"What?" Mandy asked again in frustration.

Sarah sighed heavily. "It's all the top prospects," she huffed.

Mandy blinked rapidly several times. "You mean . . ." she muttered.

"Yes, they yell to get even more out of the top players. They expect better, they're trying to make each of us perform better, to make us better," Sarah sighed in acceptance.

"Right in one," Ginny smirked.

"Well I never . . ." Mandy whispered thoughtfully. "Here I thought that they were nit-picking," she added softly.

"Oh, trust me. That's what I thought at first and it really irritated me until I figured it out," Ginny laughed.

"That's why I see you smile when they yell at you now," Sarah giggled in disbelief.

Um Huh," Ginny replied, grinning widely.

"Those sneaky bitches, I mean witches," Mandy smirked.

"You can't let on that you know," Ginny cautioned.

Mandy looked at Ginny in surprise but then smiled and nodded.

Ginny gave a huge yawn. "Well I don't know about you two but I'm completely knackered," she stated tiredly as she laid down.

"I'm with you on that," Sarah remarked softly as she got up and slowly began to change.

Mandy soon followed and a short time later they were all in bed.

"Good night," Ginny called out softly.

Hearing two good nights in return, she closed her eyes and dropped off to sleep.

Friday was almost a carbon copy of Thursday. If anything the drills were harder and the games more intense and all through it the coaches were yelling at the top prospects, including Ginny, Sarah and Mandy.

Whenever it happened the three shared small grins and if the coaches noticed, they didn't say anything.

Saturday dawned bright and early and because it was the last day of real work things were done a little differently.

After a light warm-up and drills, they played another scrimmage game. If anything, it was the worst day of all, with the coaches seeming to yell and scream twice as much as before.

It was a very tired and sweaty group that headed in for lunch.

As chance would have it Ginny and her group were seated by the windows that looked out over the pitch.

Something caught Ginny's eye and she glanced out the window. Her eyes widened at what she saw. She looked thoughtful for a moment and then a small smile crept onto her face.

"What?" Sarah asked.

"Oh, it's nothing," Ginny replied, keeping her thoughts to herself in case she was wrong.

Sarah gave her a somewhat dubious look but brushed it off and went back to eating her lunch and if Ginny seemed a little preoccupied, she didn't mention it.

It wasn't until they returned to the locker room that Ginny got her first inkling that she just might be correct.

In place of their normal practice uniforms, the Harpies away yellow and white uniforms were hanging in their cubicles.

"Ginny?" Sarah asked when she saw Ginny's smile.

Ginny just wagged her eyebrows as she began to suit up.

Everyone was just about ready to head out onto the pitch when they noticed Gwenog and couple of the other coaches enter the locker room. In an instant the usually boisterous room became deathly quiet.

The saw Gwenog's eyes dart around the room and Ginny felt a thrill run through her when the superstar's eyes briefly locked with hers.

After her eyes quit glancing around the room, Gwenog stood still for several moments, her eyes and demeanour giving away nothing.

"We have a little surprise for you this afternoon," she finally said emotionless.

"Peters, Smythe-Weaton, Weasley, Bailey, Parker, Crothers, Driscoll, you're first team," she said stoically. "I'll see you ladies on the pitch," she added before she and the other coaches turned and left.

A buzz immediately went through the locker room, everyone but Ginny looking around in confusion.

Sarah glanced at Ginny and saw her with a small grin on her face. "What's going on?" she asked softly.

"You'll see," Ginny replied, her grin widening as she rose and headed for the exit.

Sarah glanced at Mandy and they hurried to follow Ginny, with the rest of the hopefuls trailing slightly behind.

"Ginny!" Sarah called out loudly as she hurried after the redhead.

Ginny didn't slow down, almost running to the exit to the pitch.

Sarah and Mandy finally caught up to Ginny but only because she had come to a stop at the edge of the pitch.

Sarah almost said something to her but then she saw where Ginny was staring. There on the other side of the pitch stood a small group of women wearing the Harpies home jerseys.

"Sweet fucking Merlin, those are the Harpies," Mandy whispered breathlessly.

"Uh Huh," Ginny replied excitedly.

A couple of the other players gulped but Sarah noticed the look on Ginny's face. While there was a touch of nervousness, there was an excited intensity there as well, along with a wide grin. She could tell the redhead couldn't wait to get into the air and play against the professionals.

Everyone was staring so intensely across the pitch, no one noticed Gwenog come stand in front of them.

"All right," she barked, gaining everyone's attention. "First team onto the pitch, the rest of you go be seated."

As everyone began to move, Gwenog came over to Ginny, tapped her jersey with her wand.

Ginny looked down in shock as a capital C appeared.

Glancing up, Gwenog gave her a nod, before she turned away.

"Holy shite," Mandy whispered. "She made you captain."

Ginny just nodded as she hurried forward to the centre of the pitch. She took her position and her eyes widened in surprise when she found herself staring into the eyes of Valmai Morgan, one of the star Chasers and an idol of hers.

The woman gave her a predatory smile and in an instant Ginny had her game face on, refusing to be intimidated.

At the ref's direction, they shook hands, Ginny squeezing back just as hard as she received from her opponent.

She couldn't help but feel pleased when she got a small smile from Morgan.

Then before she could think about it, the ref blew her whistle and the game was underway.

Ginny rocketed forward fearlessly and snatched the Quaffle right before Valmai could get her hand on it.

Ignoring the woman's soft curse, she tore toward the hoops, climbing sharply to gain altitude.

She had to dodge a Bludger, causing her to angle to the right. Glancing around she saw Bailey cutting in toward the hoops. Pouring on the speed, Ginny charged the hoops, waiting to pass until the Keeper had committed herself.

She fired the Quaffle as hard as she could and was pleased when Bailey deftly received the pass and fired it off without any hesitation, with the ball passing through the unguarded left hand hoop.

As they both circled behind the hoops, Bailey smiled and shouted "Great Pass!"

Ginny nodded in acknowledgement but kept on flying, hurrying to get back in position.

Scoring that first quick goal only infuriated the Harpies and they began to fly with increasing purpose, realizing that they couldn't take anything lightly.

The game was as fast paced and furiously fought as any Ginny had played in or watched.

The Quaffle changed sides so many times, it made Ginny's head spin, though she didn't let that deter her and she played harder than she had ever done before.

Ginny teamed up with Bailey and Parker, the third Chaser for another half dozen goals but they were thwarted on at least twice as many attempts.

As hard as they fought, the hopefuls slowly fell behind as the superior skill of the Harpies began to show. It wasn't because of superior talent as much as the Harpies had played together so much that they knew instinctively where their teammates would be and what they were going to do.

Ginny was having the time of her life, calling out attack and defensive formations as the play ebbed and flowed from one end of the pitch to the other, never once feeling like she didn't belong there.

She had just received a pass and scored her fifth goal when a Bludger slammed into her side, right where she had injured her ribs previously.

She was barely aware of the whistle blowing as Samantha Matthews, the Harpies Seeker caught the Snitch, ending the game.

She tried to lift her arm in celebration of scoring the goal when she felt a sharp pain in her chest and black dots began to dance in her eyes.

She started to spiral slowly toward the ground, hoping she didn't pass out when she felt someone come up along side of her.

"Let me help you," she heard someone say with great concern.

Ginny was surprised to see it was Valmai Morgan, looking at her worriedly.

"Thanks," Ginny was able to gasp out, surprised to see who it was.

Valmai edged up against Ginny and wrapped an arm around her, steadying her and keeping her from falling off her broom.

Ginny was vaguely aware on someone coming up on her other side, pressing in close just like Valmai.

She felt her head drooping and she was surprised to see blood dripping on her bright yellow jersey. She tried to make sense of it all but the black dots were growing larger and then she knew no more.

Ginny slowly became aware of her surroundings, with her eyes closed she could hear the low murmur of voices.

With a groan, she forced her eyes open and she wasn't surprised to find herself in the stadium's infirmary. What did surprise her was seeing the group standing around looking at her worriedly.

"What was the final score?" she whispered with a small smile.

She heard a choked laugh and glancing in its direction, she saw Valmai Morgan shaking her head while she smiled at Ginny.

"I can't fucking believe it. She breaks a couple of ribs, punctures her lung and the first thing she wants to know when she wakes up is what the bloody score was," the Harpies Chaser laughed ruefully.

Ginny just shrug. "Got to keep my priorities straight," she managed to croak out.

Laughter rippled around the room and Ginny smiled tiredly.

"All right, you've seen she's going to recover, so out with you lot," the Healer scolded the assembled group.

Ginny was surprised but touched when everyone there filed past her bed, patting her shoulder or squeezing her hand or arm, every one of them giving her an encouraging smile.

Sarah and Mandy were among the last to pass, giving her small tearful smiles.

Once they were gone, Ginny noticed that one person besides the Healer remained and she was shocked to see Valmai. The woman smiled at Ginny though Ginny was surprised to see her eyes glistening.

Valmai smiled and nodded her head and gave Ginny's hand a tight squeeze before she turned and left too.

Ginny felt her own eyes tearing up. She was taken by the look the Harpies Chaser had given her, it was one acknowledging an equal.

She sighed and closed her eyes, barely paying attention as the Healer hovered over her, poking and prodding.

Ginny ignored the minor pain she felt, thinking "Damn it, no one ever did tell me the score."

It was hours later before she got to head back to her room. The Healer had kept her for observation and made sure she got something to eat as she had missed dinner.

She was just about to the lounge when she was stopped by Gwenog Jones.

"I'd like to talk to you," the venerable Quidditch Star said softly.

Ginny gulped, not liking the look she saw on the usually stoic woman's face.

"Certainly, Coach," she replied.

Gwenog led Ginny to her office and had her sit down, motioning toward a small sitting area instead of the chair by her desk. Ginny was taken by surprise when the Quidditch Star went over to the side and began making a pot of tea.

Ginny chuckled softly and smiled, unable to help herself.

Gwenog turned her head and raised one eyebrow, giving her a questioning look.

"My Mum always makes tea when she wants to delay having a conversation she really doesn't want to have," Ginny explained with a small smile.

Gwenog chuckled softly and gave Ginny a shrug.

Nothing more was said as Gwenog finished preparing the tea. Once it was ready she joined Ginny and served the tea.

Each took a sip, Ginny watching the Quidditch Star closely. She was surprised to see the hesitancy in the woman's look.

Gwenog set her cup down and stared at Ginny.

Ginny was surprised by the conflicting emotions she saw on the woman's face.

"I wanted to talk to you before tomorrow," Gwenog said quietly, sounding reluctant and somewhat sad.

"I didn't make the team," Ginny sighed softly, more in a resigned acceptance than sadness.

"Yes, but not for the reasons you're probably thinking," Gwenog replied with a small smile.

Ginny looked at her in surprise.

"Ginny, and may I call you Ginny?" Gwenog asked, once more surprising the young redhead.

"Certainly," Ginny replied, feeling totally bewildered.

"Ginny, you were without a doubt the best player of all the prospects. You're flying is superb, I can't remember seeing anyone who flies as effortlessly as you do. Your leadership skills and your willingness to do whatever is necessary for the team is also unmatched," Gwenog explained fervently.

Ginny just sat there in stunned silence, finding it hard to believe all the praise that the Quidditch Icon was heaping on her.

Gwenog watched Ginny's surprised look and gave a low chuckle.

"I guess you're wondering if you have done so well, why didn't you make the team?" she asked softly.

"Actually I hadn't gotten there yet, but I'm sure I would have eventually," Ginny replied, blushing deeply.

"The thing is we rarely invite women so young to these try-outs. Most aren't ready and even with the rare exception like yourself, we can't sign you because of league rules and unfortunately your birthday comes after the cut-off date for this year," Gwenog explained ruefully.

Ginny sat there, quietly contemplating what Gwenog had said.

"The thing is, Ginny, we'd heard such good things about you, we wanted to see for ourselves just how good you really were," Gwenog added, looking at Ginny, silently asking for her understanding.

"Oh," Ginny replied in surprise.

"That's not to say you don't have things you need to improve on," Gwenog added with a small smile.

Ginny sighed, sagging a little as her ego deflated.

"You're biggest problem right now, not that its huge, is your lack of upper body strength. While not terrible, it could use some improving," Gwenog continued, wanting to take some of the sting out of her assessment.

Ginny nodded thoughtfully. She knew is was one of her weaknesses.

"What I'm hoping is that you'll take this next year and work hard on improving it and come back next year," Gwenog stated fervently.

Ginny nodded with a smile, appreciating Gwenog's candour.

"Plus you'll have had another year playing at Hogwarts, Gryffindor, if I remember correctly," Gwenog said with a smile.

"I won't be returning to Hogwarts," Ginny sighed sadly.

"Do you mind me asking why not?" Gwenog asked in surprise.

Ginny gave the woman a sad smile. "Too many bad memories. Not only was the past year horrible because of the Death Eaters teaching there but I lost too many people close to me. My brother Fred, and many close friends and students," she explained, her eyes taking on a far away look filled with pain.

"I can understand that," Gwenog replied softly, her heart going out to the young woman.

Ginny gave her a warm smile, appreciating her understanding.

Gwenog looked thoughtful for a moment. "All I can say is that you need to train and work as hard as you can," she suggested.

Then she smiled mischievously and pulling her wand she summoned a big binder. "I know this isn't usually done, but I want you to take this with you," she said conspiratorially.

Ginny eyes widened in shock. What Gwenog handed her was the Harpies playbook. They'd turned them in that morning before drills.

"I'll guard it with my life," Ginny whispered in awe.

"Please don't take things that far," Gwenog replied, rolling her eyes. "While we like to keep it secret it isn't worth taking things that far."

"Okay," Ginny giggled.

"Thank you for being so understanding," Gwenog stated in relief. Then with a warm smile, she added "I want you to know you really impressed the rest of the team, Valmai was particularly very vocal in her praise."

Ginny could help the huge smile that broke out on her face, even if she was blushing heavily.

"I'll see you in the morning," Gwenog stated in dismissal.

Ginny nodded as she rose. "Thank you for everything," she said sincerely.

"You're welcome and I expect to see you back here next year," Gwenog smiled in return.

Ginny slowly made her way back to her room, thinking about all Gwenog had said. Yeah, she couldn't help but feel a little sad that she hadn't made the team but knowing why took almost all of the sting out of it.

She found herself thinking about how she'd have to work on her game and though she didn't come up with anything concrete, she vowed to do whatever was necessary to make the team next year.

Ginny wasn't surprised when she got to the lounge and found it almost deserted. There were just a few of the other hopefuls, looking anxious about the next day and whether they'd made the cut or not.

She smiled ruefully, knowing she didn't have to worry about that.

Entering her room, she found Sarah and Mandy already in bed, asleep from all appearances. She carefully stuffed the playbook into her rucksack, not wanting to have to explain why she had it.

She was just getting changed when she heard, "Where have you been?"

Ginny took a deep breath to calm her racing heart as she finished slipping on her Holyhead Harpies t-shirt she slept in before turning around.

"Godric, why not scare the hell out of me," she replied quietly with a small grin.

"Well, where have you been?" Sarah asked again, giving Ginny a concerned look.

Ginny noticed Mandy turning over and giving her a look that asked the same question.

She sat down on the edge of her bed. "Well, Healer Paine kept me for quite a while," she started.

Sarah and Mandy chuckled at hearing the healer's name. It was something of a joke among all the players.

"She poked and prodded me for what seemed like forever and then she wouldn't let me go until I had something to eat," Ginny continued, garnering sympathetic comments and looks from her two friends.

Sarah looked at her closely. "There's more to it, isn't there?" she asked knowingly.

Ginny sighed deeply, knowing she couldn't keep anything from her two friends. They had stood by her through the whole training camp and deserved to know the truth.

"Yes, there's more. Gwenog asked to speak with me," she said softly.

"You didn't make the team," Sarah cried, looking devastated for her friend, with Mandy also gasping in shock.

"No I didn't, but like Gwenog said, it's not because of the reasons you'd think," Ginny replied wistfully.

"Then why?" Mandy asked.

"My age," Ginny replied simply.

"What?" Sarah cried in outrage.

"Shhh," Ginny scolded lightly.

"But that's . . . but that's . . ." Sarah stuttered angrily.

"League rules," Ginny finished for her.

"Well that sucks," Mandy interjected unhappily.

"It is what it is," Ginny replied stoically.

"Then why did they even invite you to camp?" Sarah asked bewilderedly.

Ginny patiently explained what Gwenog had told her, calming down her two friends.

"Wow, you must have really impressed them for them to invite you this year when they knew they couldn't sign you," Sarah sighed.

"And they want you to come back next year," Mandy added encouragingly.

Ginny nodded, feeling the warmth from her friends.

She yawned and climbed into bed. "Well, I don't know about you two but I'm completely knackered," she sighed softly.

Morning came much to quickly and Ginny rolled out of bed. She sighed, though it was somewhat sad, she knew she didn't have to worry about whether she'd made the team or not, taking the anxiety out of things.

As she, Sarah and Mandy made their way to breakfast, she saw how nervous her friends were.

"Relax, remember they've already made their selections and worrying about it now won't change anything," she lightly admonished her friends.

After a couple of small glares, Sarah and Mandy sighed and calmed down, knowing what Ginny said was true.

As breakfast was finishing up the coaches came in and began to call in each of the hopefuls one by one.

Ginny watched them go, trying to figure out which ones made it and which ones didn't.

She noticed Sarah's and Mandy's nervousness return but she didn't say anything, knowing that she'd have been feeling the same if she didn't already know that she hadn't made the team.

Slowly some of the hopefuls began to return, some smiling widely in excitement of having made the team, others looking crestfallen and some just with a melancholy acceptance. A few others didn't return at all and Ginny figured they were ones who hadn't made the cut and wanted to be alone.

Sarah's turn finally came and with an apprehensive look she rose and headed out to learn her fate.

Ginny and Mandy wished her luck as she left. She gave them a wan smile in thanks before she disappeared.

"I hate having my name begin with a W," Mandy complained with a frown.

"Tell me about it," Ginny teased dryly, hoping to cheer her friend up even if it was just a little.

She was happy when Mandy gave her a small smile, letting her know she appreciated it.

They were sipping on their cups of tea, chatting softly, when they noticed someone come charging into the room. Looking up they saw Sarah coming at them, a huge smile on her face.

"I made it," she cried happily. "It's only as the second reserve Keeper but I made it!"

"That's wonderful," Ginny and Mandy cried, getting up and hugging their friend.

Ginny was happy to see how happy Mandy was was for Sarah, even though she didn't know if she'd made the team yet. It spoke highly of the young woman.

Mandy's turn came, one of the last ones to be called. Ginny and Sarah both gave her hugs and wished her luck.

Once she was gone, Sarah looked at Ginny. "I hope she makes it," she said softly, her eyes full of concern.

"She will," Ginny replied confidently.

She smiled when she saw Sarah give her a questioning look, silently asking if she had any inside information because of her talk with Gwenog.

"No, I don't know for sure, but I've been doing pretty good at guessing as the others went in," Ginny replied. " Near ninety percent, as near as I can guess."

"Ninety percent?" Sarah asked incredulously.

Ginny just smiled and shrugged.

"Merlin, they should hire you as a coach or scout," Sarah declared with a smile.

Whatever Ginny was going to say died on her lips as a beaming Mandy came back into the room.

"Told you," Ginny smirked.

Sarah smiled widely, accepting Ginny's teasing but then it slowly changed until it was filled with sadness.

"It doesn't seem right that you won't be with us," she whispered sadly.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Ginny replied softly, giving her friend a small smile as she hugged her.

Mandy stopped just short, and she gazed at Ginny and Sarah sadly.

"None of that," Ginny stated firmly, letting go of Sarah and hugging Mandy hard.

"I'm sor . . ." Mandy began to say, but Ginny stopped her by placing a finger on her friends mouth.

"You have nothing to be sorry about. I'm happy for you and Sarah, really," Ginny said fervently, staring into Mandy's eyes, trying to impress upon her just how happy she really was.

Slowly a smile crept onto the young woman's face. She could see how much Ginny meant it and she knew she'd made a good friend for life. Someone who she was sure was a better woman than she would ever be.

They all briefly celebrated the good fortune of the two friends and then said their tearful goodbyes. Sarah and Mandy having to attend a meeting and sign their contracts.

Sarah and Mandy tried to convince Ginny to hang around so that they could go out and celebrate but Ginny politely declined. She didn't want to hang around for who knew how long and she really wanted to get home, not to the Burrow, but to where she now considered home, Harry.

Her friends nodded in understand and after they all promised to write, they headed off to their meeting while Ginny made her way to their room to finish packing. Not that there was a lot to pack.

She made her way down through the stadium, pausing to glance out on the pitch, memories of the last two weeks flashing through her mind.

Taking a deep breath, she smiled softly. "I'll be back," she whispered to herself. And with her head held high, she turned and headed out of the stadium.

As she turned to head to the Apparation point she was surprised to see a lone figure standing in the shadows of the stadium. It took a moment for her to recognize the unruly locks on top of the man's head.

"Harry!" she cried as she charged him.

She flung herself into his open arms and she sighed contentedly as she felt his warmth fill her.

Her eyes shut as she felt his hand caress her cheek and she leaned into it, taking great comfort from his gentle, tender touch.

She gave a low moan when she felt his lips capture hers and while she was still disappointed that she hadn't made the team, being in Harry's arms and receiving his loving kiss, did a lot to dispel her melancholy.

All too soon for her liking, Harry broke off the kiss and she found herself staring into his startling emerald eyes. Eyes that held such love and understanding, it took her breath away.

"I have so much to tell you," she whispered.

"I can't wait to hear it," he replied, his voice filled with his love.

Ginny smiled and knew that Harry would understand and help her as much as he could.

"Take me home," she whispered, smiling at being in his arms once again.

Harry and Ginny

A/N: This story is based on an idea I had and ended up writing as a chapter in Bits and Bobs, chapter 199, if you're interested.

It kept on calling out to be fleshed out and made a story in its own right, so here it is.

As always, your reviews are greatly appreciated.