She’d ridden on Harry’s Nimbus 2000 once. The fact that he’d given her permission had made her eleven-year-old heart flutter in her chest, a veritable admission of caring if not love, making the flight itself float within a cloud of childhood infatuation in her mind. She had no such illusions regarding the blond’s gift, the feeling of flying on the incredible broom sharp and clear and not the least cloudy in her head. That, combined with the superior performance of it, made her every experience of flying on the Firebolt X beyond any dream she’d ever had.
It was by far the best ride she could imagine and even her worst mood seemed to be left behind in the wake of its amazing speed. That was why she was on it now, at barely sunrise on a Saturday morning- the hope that she could outpace her mood, and her memories.
It had been months since the last time she’d found herself with the inescapable urge to run even further from her past than she already had. Before, she’d had to take solace in the fact that she couldn’t go anywhere more different than her childhood home in England, simply having to push away her turbulent thoughts through a surge of physical labor that had left her apartment sparkling. Now though, she had another option, one that allowed her to almost literally out-run the thoughts and memories that had woken her panting and sweat-drenched from a deep sleep less than an hour before.
As the cool morning air whipped past her, sending her long hair streaking behind her, everything seemed to follow the red blur, though every time she’d slowed down and thought about going back home, the feelings had rushed back over her. So she’d kept going, flying as fast as she could over the desert and dunes of Death Valley, carefully skirting any muggle habitation she passed.
She’d been flying around for more than an hour when she realized she was approaching Death Drop and the blond’s words drifted through her mind. He’d said for her to come by the pitch, that the team could use an extra flier for off-season practice. She hadn’t been sure if he’d spoken seriously or not two weeks ago in the bar. Perhaps he’d been drunk; it would certainly help explain why he’d given her the second best broom in the Wizarding World. Even if he’d been serious, however, she doubted he’d meant for her to come at barely after five in the morning.
That was why she ended up steering herself towards the concealment wards she could feel in the distance. Surely neither Draco nor any of his teammates would be at the pitch so early during the off-season, surely she could stop by without fear of running into the former Slytherin. Why that would be a fear, she wasn’t quite sure.
He’d been perfectly nice at the bar, strange as it felt to admit, but a little piece of her was certain that if she were to run into him again there was a chance that he would be the same foul child she’d known from school. It wasn’t just that, though; another large part of the small redhead was afraid that in the two weeks since they’d happened upon one another he would have realized the mistake he’d made in giving her the broom and the minute he saw her, he would demand it be returned to him.
As much as the idea of playing Quidditch again had teased temptingly through her, she didn’t want to give up the best broom she had ever, and would ever, own. So, she’d ignored the suddenly revitalized love of the game that had dulled and deteriorated over the last few years, and forced herself to stay far from Death Drop and its renowned pitch. At least she had until this morning. This morning, she decided as she sped towards her destination, she was going to the Dragons’ pitch and see how many of her old skills were still intact. Whether it was that new determination, the rekindled love of Quidditch within her, or the speed and distance her broom had managed, she felt no encroaching memories as she slowed to a less neck-breaking pace as she reached the pitch.
The expanse of lawn and towering stands were all empty as the sun rose above the horizon behind her. A small smile, the first she’d had cause to make in too long, tugged at her lips and she dropped into a near vertical dive, allowing herself to race headlong towards the field below her before pulling up at almost the last moment. The now grinning redhead barely cut her speed as she flew parallel to the grass for several feet, then began to climb once more. She had a thought of another dive, but the memory of Harry helping her perfect that particular maneuver threatened to rise so she turned sharply mid-climb and went into a few dips and twists instead.
The evasive moves had once been second nature to the former Gryffindor chaser, but after so many years they had become somewhat rusty. Not too much so, however, the youngest Weasley noted with a feeling of pride that only increased as she transitioned from one move to the next, her movements becoming ever-more fluid as her skill and training flooded back into her. With every turn, twist, and flip it came back to her, the hours she’d spent on the pitch back at Hogwarts, the games she’d played at school and at home.
If asked when her feet stood on solid ground, she would have sworn that such remembrances would only have conjured the pain of her recent past and the losses therein, but high above the grass, with the wind in her eyes, and what she could only describe as pure speed beneath her, no such pain could catch up to her. One particular aspect of her past, however, seemed more than adept at doing just that as a tall, blond-haired form appeared below her on the grass. Having been in the tail-end of another vertical dive, Ginny was forced to pull up even more sharply than before to avoid hitting him as she came to an abrupt stop barely inches in front of him.
She stared at him in abject surprise for several seconds before he raised one pale brow in silent inquiry. The response that prompted from her was less than thoughtful as she blurted the words from a mouth still hanging open the slightest bit.
“What are you doing here?”
The other brow rose to join its twin. “This is my team’s pitch, I’m here to practice.”
His statement was made in a rather bemused tone and she bristled a little almost unconsciously as she pushed aside her surprise. “But, isn’t it a little early to-”
She cut herself off as she suddenly took in their sun soaked surroundings. “Wait, what time is it?”
He looked even more amused by the question, though his expression grew a little curious at the way her eyes widened when he informed her it was about eight o’clock in the morning. “Exactly what time did you get here?”
She stumbled over her words for a second before getting out her answer. “Before six, I didn’t think anyone would be here that early on an off-season Saturday. I would have left if I’d realized it was so late.”
All but his curiosity slowly drained away as he regarded the girl before him. “Why?”
She seemed at a loss for a moment as she shifted her feet and attempted to tuck a few strands of wind tangled hair behind her ears. Finally, she expressed her desire not to intrude on the Dragons’ pitch time. The nervous glances she tossed to the blond and the broom in her hand, however, gave him a good idea of why she’d really wanted to be gone before he or his teammates had arrived. Draco dismissed her worries, both spoken and unspoken, with a wave of his hand.
“Seeing as we managed to place second in the Finals last week, I think it’s safe to say we don’t need the pitch that badly, especially at eight on a Saturday morning. Though it would appear you might.” He cut a quick glance at his unexpected company as he spoke, watching the affronted look steal over her features, then freeze there as she noticed the teasing glint in his eyes. Laughter bubbled out of him as she shook her head at his amusement and attempted to look annoyed with him even as a smile crept across her lips.
“Well, more than four years of not flying will leave a bit of rust on a person,” she stated in a tone that would have been defensive if not for the smile that accompanied it.
His face grew serious and rather contemplative as he regarded the young woman before him. “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”
Ginny didn’t seem to know quite how to take the questioning lilt to his statement, but he took no notice as he continued to look at her. She’d said that she’d gotten there before six, so she’d been flying for about two hours, yet she wasn’t breathing too heavily or acting as if she were all that sore. And of course, there were the moves he’d seen her executing just minutes before to consider.
He vaguely remembered being a little surprised by her ability when he’d played against her at Hogwarts, but what he’d seen today was more than that. Then he pictured her daring plummet in his mind and came up with an image of a dark-haired boy grabbing the snitch from in front of him and suddenly knew where she’d learned the trick, forming some idea of what she and her compatriots must have done to occupy themselves when they weren’t saving the Wizarding world from dark wizards.
Despite that revelation, his conclusions remained the same and grey rose to lock with brown as he finally broke the silence that was starting to grow a little uncomfortable between them. “You played chaser, yeah?”
The redhead started at his sudden words and the eye contact that accompanied them, distantly noting the deepening of his accent that had her noticing for the first time how much it had lightened in the time he’d spent in the States. The observation had her wondering exactly how long he had been here, but she pushed it aside, nodding in answer to his question.
He echoed her action, though his nod was more decisive as he mounted his broom with an almost challenging expression in the eyes still focused on her. “Well then, why don’t we see exactly how much you remember?”
It wasn’t until he’d mounted his broom and was floating there, a few feet away, waiting for her to follow suit that she realized what he’d meant. As soon as she figured it out, however, she was hard-pressed to keep the excited, determined, and competitive grin from overtaking her face as she hopped back onto her broom and kicked off the ground.
End Part Two
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