The former Slytherin Seeker and current lead Chaser of the Death Valley Dragons fell onto the bench with a quiet grunt, ignoring the similar sounds of pain from the other men in the locker room. No matter how much he practiced during the off-season, the first game always left him feeling as if he’d received ten too many hexes. He nearly shuddered at the thought of how his newest teammate felt, having never gone through what he referred to as start of season readjustment.
Being the one responsible for getting her onto the team, he should probably check on her, if for no other reason than to make sure she wasn’t too tired or sore to safely apparate home. Even with such noble intentions, it was several minutes before he was able to haul himself back to his feet, out of the locker room, and to the door of the room the sole female Dragon had been given to change in. It took another couple seconds for him to raise the stiff muscles of his arm in order to knock. She called out for him to enter, but as soon as he did his stilted movements halted. The laugh he gave at the sight before him didn’t sound nearly as exhausted as he felt.
“We won,” she intoned with a comical grin on her weary face.
Draco nodded slowly, the slightest grimace passing over his face at the way the motion pulled on over-used muscles. “Yes we did.”
“I’ve never won a professional game before. Hell, I’ve never played a professional game before.” Fatigue and excitement laced her voice in equal measure and the blond was too tired to even try and fight the smile covering his face in response.
“A win is a good way to start a career, that’s for sure.” If possible, her grin grew even larger. “But getting some sleep tonight would probably be a good start at prolonging that career.”
The exhaustion that tinged the edges of her grin took that moment to pull a jaw-popping yawn from the rookie. “I know I know. I just can’t stop thinking about the game. We were really great out there, weren’t we?”
The blond gave another smile as he stared down at the still grinning redhead, his voice coming out a little softer than even his tiredness could account for as he answered. “Yeah, we really were.”
She smiled back at him, the two simply remaining like that for several moments before he let out his own yawn. “And we both really need to get some sleep if we want to be that good again on Friday.”
The youngest Weasley nodded resignedly in agreement, but didn’t move from her chair, prompting the other Chaser to force his own aching limbs to help pull her to her feet. They both let out weary groans as he led them back into the hallway. He hadn’t made it far, however, before Ginny stopped, head falling forward with a whimper.
Her reminder drew a large sigh from the elder chaser. “We could always pick them up in the morning, when our arms are working,” he suggested in an almost pathetically hopeful voice.
The idea was tempting, but neither moved to continue walking. Instead, as if in unspoken agreement, they pulled out their wands and halfheartedly accio’d their gear from their respective looker rooms. Due to the weakness of the spell, the bags were slow in their arrivals, but that worked out fine as it took a little while for them to lower their arms back to their sides, having both thrown the Quaffle harder, faster, and more often, than would facilitate anything but screaming muscles.
Eventually they made it to the Dragons’ broom closet with their gear floating behind them and were able to get their Firebolts in the same manner as they had their bags. Once that task had been completed Draco and Ginny gratefully trudged outside the concealment charms surrounding the pitch and prepared to apparate to their welcoming beds in Death Drop. Before they left, one more smile for a game well played passed between them and they said goodnight.
They might as well have said good afternoon too, and saved themselves the trouble the next day when the younger Dragon’s head appeared in the blond’s fireplace less than two hours after he’d dragged himself out of bed.
“I don’t think I can move it all by myself,” she said for the third time in nearly as many minutes.
Draco repressed the urge to roll his eyes at his friend and teammate. “I thought the movers came yesterday?”
She sighed with a touch too much drama. “They did, everything’s already there, it just hasn’t been unpacked or arranged yet.”
“Really?” asked the former Slytherin. “And let me guess, you need some help to get it all done before practice tomorrow?”
The redhead nodded innocently, a slight pout causing her lower lip to stick out a tiny bit.
“You really are quite helpless, aren’t you, Gin?” What would have, in his youth, been a caustic statement was lightened by the friendly tone and teasing smirk that shone through the fake annoyance on his features.
“Completely,” she answered with a triumphant grin.
“Oh, all right, I’ll help, but I expect adequate compensation.”
“Really?” The way she raised one scarlet brow would have looked familiar to any of Draco’s old Slytherin classmates. “And what exactly would you consider adequate compensation?”
“Dinner. Specifically your five cheese lasagna.”
Ginny shook her head with a laugh. Ever since she’d made him lunch one day after practice about a month and a half before, he’d taken every possible opportunity to get her to cook for him again. “All right. It’s a deal.”
He nodded sharply just before she pulled her head from the green flames, already anticipating the culinary talents of Molly Weasley’s only daughter and sole cooking student. Moving a few boxes and a piece or two of furniture would be more than worth the reward. At least he thought it would until he’d arrived at her new apartment and moved the first piece of furniture, at which point he was reminded of just how hard he’d played the night before.
Ginny was in no better shape, and it took the both of them casting simultaneously to move the larger items. By the time they’d arranged the few pieces of furniture she’d acquired to her satisfaction, and moved on to unpacking the boxes of kitchen supplies, clothes, food, and assorted nick-knacks, their spells had done more harm than good, leaving them to resort to doing things the muggle way. This of course, left the two extremely glad that she had been unable to amass all that many possessions since arriving in America. It also left them very much in need of a rest.
And so, with one last look around the now completed, if not sparse, apartment, both fell onto her somewhat ratty couch. Owing as much to their soreness and lack of sleep the night before, as to everything they’d done that afternoon, neither judged all that accurately as to exactly where on the couch they were falling so bonelessly. The resulting pile of limbs was equal parts bruised and tangled.
Ginny, who had ended up mostly on the bottom of their pile, groaned at the blond weight on top of her, then laughed as she caught a look at his disgruntled expression. She received a silver glare in response as he attempted to get up. She simply laughed harder, causing him to roll his eyes while carefully forcing still stiff arms to raise at least the upper portion of his body from its position digging into his teammate’s rather boney shoulder. The redhead chose that moment to smile up at him through her giggles, and any progress he might have otherwise made suddenly came to a halt.
Her mirth froze on her lips as she became caught in the realization that was swiftly flooding Draco’s senses. The blonde found himself all too aware of the soft body beneath him. For her part, Ginny was equally conscious of the muscular weight pressing against her. Having been so comfortably, and solidly ensconced within each other’s mind as friend and teammate, and even old schoolyard enemies, it took a few long, lingering minutes for grey and brown to lock and exchange an understanding of just what was happening between them.
Then, one or the other shifted just enough and they were pressed fully together, mouths exploring the same new territory their minds had so suddenly begun to contemplate. However long it lasted, the kiss left both shaken, in more ways than one and his voice held the slightest tremble as he stared down at her.
“Gin? You all right?”
She nodded silently for several seconds, then, as her eyes finally focused, the redhead began to smile. “Definitely.”
In the time it took for that single word to penetrate his mind, preoccupied as it was on her possible reactions, the youngest Weasley rolled them away from the couch, and onto the rug they’d so recently spread over her living room floor. Silver eyes widened at the action, then began to close as he moved to capture her lips once more with his own.
“What about dinner?” Ginny asked slyly, just before his mouth touched hers. He drew back, rapidly darkening steel orbs catching her gaze.
“We’ll get to it later.”
Her grin grew larger at the soft snarl in his voice, her own tone becoming more than a little teasing. “How much later?”
Draco just smirked and lowered his head.
End Part Five
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