Part Six:

Having been interested in Quidditch since she was little, she’d long dreamed of becoming a professional player and winning trophies and awards for her outstanding skill in the sport. She’d thought about what team she would play for and what she would tell all the reporters when they interviewed her for the Daily Prophet. It was hard to believe that she had finally done exactly that.

Well, she hadn’t been interviewed by the Daily Prophet, and she wasn’t on the Chudley Cannons, or any of the other teams she’d originally dreamed of, but National American Magical Sport had ran a copy of the story California Quidditch had written about the Death Valley Dragons the month before. And she had won most valuable rookie her first year on the team, not to mention the two trophies she had at home from their previous American League titles.

There would be another trophy on that shelf by the end of the night, too, if she or any of the other Dragons had anything to say about it, the redhead though with a determined grin. They were heavily favored for the title again this year, and nothing would keep them from getting it. Before she had a chance to mentally list all the reasons that was, including a review of every tactic and play they’d learned and perfected for the all-important game, she was interrupted by a knock on the door of her locker room.

Calling out for the person to enter, she finished tying her dragon skin boots, her determined expression turning soft around the edges as she stood to greet her unexpected but welcome guest. “Hey you.”

“Hey yourself,” Draco returned, wrapping his arms around his fellow Chaser’s waist and drawing her to him for a kiss. Despite the vast number of times he had done exactly that over the three years of their relationship, she still had to catch her breath when he pulled away.

“What was that for?” she asked with a smile, absently tucking a wayward strand back into its messy ponytail. He shrugged a little too innocently as he turned her around and began redoing her hair in a tight braid that would keep it out of her face during the game.

“Do I need a reason to kiss my girlfriend?”

She sighed at the pout in his voice, but he went on before she had a chance to call him on it.

“Well, what about my fiancÚ, do I need a reason to kiss her?”

She froze at his words, barely feeling the slight tug he gave her braid as he tied off the end of it, too focused was she on the sudden fluttering in her stomach. “What-” she started to ask, only to choke on her own voice as she turned around to face him and saw instead the top of his white-blond head as he kneeled in front of her, one hand extending a small velvet box.

Both hands flew to her throat, as if trying to force out the voice that had fled her. He sent up a smirk at the action, but it wasn’t any smirk she had ever seen on him before. The expression held as much hope and love as she felt ricocheting through her chest, and a lot more nervousness. The raw emotion, so different even from the honest tenderness she had seen in him since they had become friends almost four years before, freed her voice as she reached shakily for the ring box.

“I imagine you could kiss your fiancÚ whenever you wanted, regardless of a reason.” He seemed to hold his breath as she opened the box, and she smiled even wider through the tears that blurred her vision of the small diamonds that shaped a little Quaffle on the white-gold band. “What about me, do I need a reason to kiss my fiancÚ?”

At her use of the word fiancÚ, he finally released his breath and stood, taking the box from her nerveless fingers, taking out the ring and gently slipping it onto her finger. “Not a single one,” he said rather seriously as a grin split across his tanned features.

“Glad to hear it.”

She grinned almost goofily back at him, the two staring at the ring on her finger for a moment before leaning forward and capturing each other’s lips, exchanging a kiss. The hallmark moment was interrupted by a knock on the door and the sound of their fellow Chaser, Nilo Helgat calling out to them.

“Hey, Drake, Gin, we’re meeting for last minute strategy in, like, two minutes.”

The teammates smiled at one another, silently agreeing to continue this later. Then, knowing that the sandy-haired man would only keep bugging them, they stepped apart, picked up their gear, and joined the rest of the Dragons in the hallway outside the two locker rooms. Something of what had just happened between them lingered in their silly grins, though, causing the other players to regard them curiously.

“Somethin’ up guys?” asked Bredan Smeeth, their shaggy-haired captain and Seeker, sounding the slightest bit annoyed that his best players looked off their stride.

The couple looked at each other, then back at their team. For his part, Draco couldn’t contain the smug expression as Ginny wordlessly held up her left hand and displayed its new glittering decoration.

Bredan practically dropped the scroll of parchment he was holding, completely forgetting his annoyance. “Hot damn, you finally did it.”

The Malfoy heir was still too happy to conjure up a proper glare in response, so he settled for rolling his eyes and turning to the other young men who had left their seats to congratulate them.

“You lucky bastard,” Evag Nillen, the Keeper, said, clapping the Englishman on the back. “Now I really hate you, you know.”

Draco smirked with self-satisfaction, unable to keep from glancing over at his wife-to-be. “Don’t blame ya, mate.”

Harrvis Chasen and Ozbore Roseberg, the Dragons’ Beaters, took turns shaking his hand. “Only you would pop the question right before the big game,” Harrvis stated with a smile and a shake of his nearly shaved head. “Pretty gutsy if you ask me,” intoned Ozbore.

The blond shrugged. “I didn’t feel like going for the overly dramatic proposal in the middle of the victory celebration. Besides,” he admitted, “I couldn’t wait, damn ring’s been burning a hole in my pocket since I picked it up yesterday.”

Bredan laughed as the four of them made their way to Ginny’s side, where Draco slipped an arm around her waist and the others shook her hand and admired the ring. After all had gotten a chance to express their good wishes to the happy couple, the team started to settle back down, even Draco and Ginny all too aware of the important game looming over them. Soon enough, they were all immersed in strategies and tactics and their pursuit of a third League title.

Before they knew it, however, it was time to head to the pitch and as they did before every match, the team rose as one, adjusted their brown and tan robes, picked up their brooms, and marched silently down the hallway to the pitch entrance. With scarcely a second’s pause the Death Valley Dragons mounted and took to the air, fanning out as they flew above their home pitch in an impressive series of twists and flips that had the crowd roaring its approval.

The roaring had only seemed to increase in volume nine hours later as Draco and Ginny dipped and weaved over, under, and around one another, exchanging the Quaffle at random intervals so that even if the opposing team’s chasers could break through the complicated pattern and intercept one of them, the player wouldn’t be sure which of them to go after at any given time. Not even the other beaters could follow them closely enough to land a shot, making it less than surprising when the blond and redhead managed to reach the opposing goal unmolested and land the Quaffle squarely within the tallest hoop.

Over the years, it had become their signature maneuver, even being called by some the Dragon Run. Both Chasers were especially proud of their creation, often tweaking it from time to time, adding ever more impressive tricks to its patterns, constantly keeping their opposition from developing a counter to it. The tactic proved as effective as ever that day, earning the home team four goals over the course of the game. Many other goals were made and prevented by the sheer talent and cohesiveness of the Dragons, however, as every member of its ranks sped through the air with the kind of precision only gained through years of playing and practicing together.

That experience made itself known yet again as Evag blocked yet another shot from the visiting Florida Flying Flamingos, knocking the Quaffle right into Nilo’s hands. The Chaser sped off with the ball, instinctively feeling Ginny behind him and tossing it back blindly as Ozbore darted in front of him and deflected a Bludger directly into Harrvis’s bat. The second beater sent it barreling into the Flamingos’ approaching Chaser line, giving the red-haired Dragon the chance to flip over the entire group of players and dive towards the ground at full speed.

Draco raced straight across the field, bisecting her intended path and taking the Quaffle from her as he did so, reaching the opposite goal and scoring while everyone was still busy watching his fiancÚ pull up at the absolute last second and skim along the grass for several feet before climbing into the air once more. Immediately, the witch joined her fellow Chasers in a defensive line that crossed and re-crossed the paths of Florida’s faltering offense. Just as Ginny and Nilo teamed up to put the other team in exactly the right position for Draco to snatch the Quaffle, the Snitch finally made an appearance.

Without even a glance in the direction of the Seekers currently racing each other past the VIP stands, the three closed their trap, leaving the former Slytherin Seeker with possession of the ball, and a clear shot. Before they could set up for yet another goal, however, Bredan swooped under his adversary and plucked the tiny gold ball from the air, sealing another championship for the Dragons.

End Part Six
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