The Sugar Quill
Author: St. Margarets (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Slimmest, Wildest Chances  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Ginny, Harry and friends are J.K. Rowling's. I just borrowed them.

Thanks to Jo for the Beta reading! Also, thanks to all the Forum members who contribute to the "Lucky You" thread--you have helped me understand Ginny.

The Slimmest, Wildest Chances

"Ginny! Over here!"

It was Michael, calling from the Ravenclaw lunch table.

She veered from the exit and went to join Michael, who was sitting with Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein. They appeared to be absorbed with several rolls of parchment."

Quidditch stats, Ginny guessed.

"So, did you change your mind about going to the match?" Michael asked.

"No, Michael, I didn't," Ginny said as evenly as she could. "I'm pretty tired from practice this morning-and I'd like to get caught up with a few things."

"You should go, Ginny," Terry Boot interrupted, "it should be a good match. Most people think Slytherin is a sure thing. But Anthony here has been studying the Hufflepuff Chasers and their numbers are impressive. Especially when you align them with the Slytherin Keeper. He's left-handed and favors the second ring. Now look-"

Anthony tapped the parchment with his wand and lines and numbers arced across the page.

Graphs, Ginny thought, I should have known. It hasn't happened on the Hogwarts' Quidditch pitch unless Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein have graphed it!

She glanced at Michael to see if he was amused. He wasn't; he was studying the charts as well.

Ravenclaw boys, she thought fondly.

Ginny started to say good-bye, but Michael pulled his attention back to her.

"No, wait. I wish you'd go to the match with me. It seems I hardly see you now that you're always at Quidditch practice."

"I know," she said, "but Quidditch season doesn't last forever."

"--now, weather conditions? Have you accounted for a clear, calm day like today?" Terry was quizzing Anthony, who evidently had thought of such a thing, since he tapped his chart again and a different set of lines appeared.

"I just wish you never had become Seeker," Michael said, finally. "It's just not the same anymore."

Ginny almost said, "I'm sorry," but stopped herself. Instead she replied, "I'll see you soon, Michael."

"OK, have it your way," he said grudgingly. "I'll see you later."

As she turned to leave, she heard Anthony say, "You know, I've given stats to Lee Jordan every match, but he never seems to use them."

She walked to Gryffindor tower feeling a little guilty . . .and a little angry too. She felt guilty because she didn't like to reject Michael. Yet she wished he could be more understanding about Quidditch. They had never had so much as harsh word between them until she became Seeker.

And, she reflected, as she settled on her bed, she felt guilty because she hadn't told Michael the whole truth about why she wanted to be alone this particular Saturday afternoon. It was the deadline she had set herself to read that damn Quibbler article. She had had a copy since March and it was now the second of May.

Why she had been avoiding it, Ginny couldn't honestly say. For one thing, she knew quite a bit about what happened the night of the Tri-Wizard tournament. It wasn't something she wanted to experience, even vicariously. She didn't want to think of Harry in pain. She didn't want to think of anyone in pain, for that matter.

She sighed.

Especially Harry.

Her mother told her that Harry had cried in her arms at the hospital wing.

She didn't want to think about Harry crying. To get right down to it, Ginny didn't want to think about Harry at all. She had her own life, interests and friends, divorced from his. And she wanted to keep it that way.

She had even convinced herself that she didn't need to read the article; she had thrown it under a pile of spell-books in her room. Once everyone had stopped talking about it, it had been easy to avoid.

Until last Sunday.

When she had taken Harry his belated Easter egg from Mum, she never dreamed he would have any reaction other than casual appreciation for the small gift. Seeing him fight tears had wrung her heart. She began to realize--really realize-- what a difficult year it had been for him.

She was a coward if she avoided his pain. He had had no choice. The least she could do was the read the damn thing.

With a sigh, she opened the magazine and began to read. The quiet Gryffindor tower vanished as she witnessed Cedric's death. She felt the ropes, the cut from the dagger. She saw Voldemort rise out of the cauldron. She heard Voldemort's taunts, the blasts of curses whizzing through the air. She felt the wands connecting, heard the Phoenix song. She saw the terror in the Death Eaters eyes as the shades of the dead spoke and protected Harry, who so desperately wanted to live. She put the magazine down with trembling hands.

"Shit," she whispered, pressing her knuckles to her mouth. She hated this, hated the knowing.

"Holy-goddamn-bloody--" She threw the article across the room, "-shit."

Why? She thought. Why did this have to happen? And why to Harry? Why does he have to suffer?

Knowing there was no good answer to this, Ginny buried her face in her hands and began to concentrate on her breathing. Inhale . . .Exhale.

Inhale. Cedric dead. Exhale.

Inhale. Blood running down Harry's arm. Exhale.

Each breath, each image, pierced her heart with pain. Oh hell, Ginny thought, this is not helping me calm down. Think of something else.

She stared at a patch of sunlight on the floor, and then a thought came to her mind. He survived. Using the slimmest, wildest chances, he had survived. Somehow he had summoned something within, something that went beyond courage, and he had survived.

He survived, Ginny thought, as she got off the bed and retrieved the magazine. Suddenly she was so tired. He survived, she repeated to herself as she pulled back the coverings on the bed. He survived, she assured herself as she curled up for sleep. He survived, she thought, cleansing her mind of the graveyard scene. He survived, she thought faintly, as she slipped into sleep.

*

She dreamed of darkness and water gleaming in the distance. She didn't understand . . .

"It's time." It was Harry, dressed in the red Quidditch robes of Gryffindor. "We're Seeker." Then they were flying on Harry's Firebolt through the wind and rain.

Weather conditions, Ginny thought, hoping they would change. But it only began to rain harder. Through sheets of water she saw that they were playing an unfamiliar team on the Hogwarts' pitch. The opposition was all in black, and seemed to have more players than Gryffindor.

That's not fair! She thought. But she didn't have much time to consider this, since she was flying faster than she had ever flown before.

In tandem they began to fly, looking for the Snitch, avoiding Bludgers. She felt his body behind hers, warm and solid. They were so closely merged; it was almost painful.

"Ginny," he breathed into her ear, "you have to catch the Snitch, I'll hold them off."

She didn't understand until she saw one of the opposing team come out of the drenching gloom. He was masked, a Death Eater with his wand raised, ready to curse them. But Harry was faster, he shot a jet of red light and the Death Eater disappeared.

Ginny saw that the Quidditch match was not a game, but combat. The red Gryffindor team was being eliminated, one by one, by the overwhelming number of Death Eaters. But Quidditch rules still applied.

"Ginny, you can end this if you can catch the Snitch," Harry whispered.

Then she saw it, golden in the distance, leading them away from Hogwarts. With no hesitation, they both turned to follow the Snitch. The Death Eaters followed as well, for many miles, in the driving rain. They were the only Gryffindors left, so Harry had to keep them at bay while she searched for the Snitch.

They were over a graveyard when the Snitch slowed, and began to swoop toward the earth. Ginny and Harry followed in a steep dive that Ginny felt to the core of her being. The Death Eaters were closing in. They were only a few feet above the cemetery, skimming over stone angels, and crosses, and urns. Jets of green and red light lit up the shadowy markers. Ginny felt the fire of the curses narrowly missing her.

"Now," Harry said. Next to a small tombstone, shaped like a lamb, Ginny caught the Snitch with both hands. All went quiet as they slowly descended. The Death Eaters had disappeared. The rain had stopped. Ginny suddenly felt very cold and alone, even though she knew Harry was still with her. Their tight connection had dissolved. She could hear him breathing rapidly.

Her hands were bleeding and raw. The Snitch must have cut her with its' wings. Yet, it was no longer struggling. Ginny opened her hands to look at it. It seemed so vulnerable, so alive, like a real bird, not a Quidditch Snitch. She instinctively put the Snitch close to her heart, as if to warm it.

"Harry, there's something special about this Snitch," Ginny said.

"That's why they wanted it so badly," he answered wearily as he leaned closer to her. "You were wonderful. I never could have done this alone." She felt him put his forehead on her shoulder. She brushed her cheek against his hair.

Ginny noticed a roaring sound. Next to the graveyard was a river. It appeared that the heavy rain upstream had caused it to jump its' banks. It began to flood the cemetery, quickly covering the markers.

"Let's go," he said, turning to find a safer place to rest

.

Ginny leaned against him for this part of the journey. She was tired and her hands ached. She felt the Snitch against her breast, beating its wings feebly.

They touched down in a small glade of evergreens, which hugged a silver pond. It was quiet and dim; the ground was soft underfoot.

They found a fallen oak on which to rest. Sitting next to her, Harry took the Snitch from her bloody hands and wrapped it in his red and gold Gryffindor scarf, creating a little nest.

Then he went to the pond and shattered the mirrored surface with his cupped hands. He brought the water to Ginny and rinsed the blood away. Kneeling in front of her, he took her hands and studied the cuts, running his fingers along them with a feather touch. She was amazed to find they instantly healed.

Suddenly the Snitch caught fire. Golden light flooded their small clearing. Out of the fire emerged . . .a Phoenix.

"Harry, it's a Phoenix, but it's not Fawkes," Ginny whispered.

"It's a new Phoenix, very rare, and it's yours, Ginny, you caught it, and then your blood nourished it," Harry replied.

"It's ours, Harry. We did this together, we were one Seeker," Ginny said fiercely.

"Yes," Harry said.

At that, the Phoenix began to sing and golden arcs of light began to trace against the sky, forming a dome.

"What's happening?" Ginny asked.

"It's our shelter."

"Shelter from what?"

"The Darkness," Harry replied.

*

A door slammed and Ginny awoke with a start, her heart hammering. The match must be over. She could hear chattering, excited voices below in the common room. She rolled over and pulled the pillow over her head.

What was that? That dream? It was so vivid, so real.

Ginny impatiently threw the pillow off of her head and sat up. No wonder she had been avoiding the Quibbler article. She could give up on Harry from now until next Tuesday, but she could never be indifferent towards him.

Ginny slid off of the bed and wandered to the window. Still, she thought in her defense, I'd have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by that article. Then she thought in dismay, what am I supposed to do with this dream?

She pressed her forehead against the glass. It was cool and smooth.

Maybe I'll ask the Ravenclaw boys-hey Terry, hey Anthony, how should I make sense of this dream? Ginny thought with some amusement. She could see them now, producing a chart with the lines of her life and of Harry's coming together and falling away, with no rhyme or reason. What would they call that? Then she remembered--no correlation, no conclusions.

She sighed. As she turned on her heel to make the bed, she caught sight of her Divination textbook. Oh, wouldn't it be funny to analyze that dream for class? Ginny smiled as she thought of what a field day Harry and Ron would have with death predictions. She could hear them now:

Ron: Ginny, you're going to drown in, let's see . . . a flash flood, a pond, or torrential rain.

Harry: Nah, a broom accident. Who was steering? You'd go right into the ground . . .

Ron: What about, for the first time in history, bleeding to death from Snitch wounds?

Harry: That Phoenix could set the whole forest on fire.

Ron: It was raining.

Harry: Oh, yeah.

Ginny giggled to herself as smoothed the covers on the bed. The emotional impact of the dream was starting to fade.

She thought of what Hermione would say: Ginny, you just took part of that article, and part of your Quidditch practice and mixed them in your mind. That dream means nothing.

The noise from below suddenly permeated her consciousness. She heard a high-pitched exclamation.

"Can you believe Slytherin lost? They were absolutely flattened! Go Gryffindor! We still have a shot at the cup!"

Someone else answered back, equally excited, "Shut it! Do you want to jinx our chances?"

"Don't care! We're going to win!"

Ginny listened in astonishment. The Ravenclaw boys were right about Hufflepuff! She felt a mounting sense of excitement. After all their dismal games, after all their rancorous practices, they still had a chance. It wasn't logical, it wasn't predictable; it just was.

Ginny stood up. Now she knew what to do with that dream. She would catch the Snitch in the Ravenclaw match. Slytherin had given Gryffindor the slimmest of chances. She was going to take that chance-just like Harry would.

She could never be as brave as Harry, but she could be as hopeful. Catching that Snitch would be her tribute. Here's to the slimmest, wildest chances life can send . . . here's to hope.

As Ginny walked down the stairs to the common room she wondered, fleetingly, how the Ravenclaw boys would ever factor in that contingency for the Gryffindor Seeker.

Author's note: "faintest, slimmest, wildest chance" is the phrase Harry used when he decided to seek Ginny in the Chamber.

Ginny did shy away from many aspects of her dream. That is to be expected; she's worked hard to get over him!

//
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