Ginny's stomach fluttered as she stepped through the Floo into the Harpies Training Centre, broom in one hand, bag of Quidditch gear in the other. Today was her first day as reserve Chaser on the renowned all-girls Quidditch team and despite her usual Gryffindor bravery, her body was alight with nervous jitters. Playing for the Harpies was a literal dream come true, and she desperately wanted to be brilliant. She wanted to prove to them, to all the arseholes out there that thought she played all right for a girl, and most importantly to herself, that the Harpies made the right choice when they'd signed her.
There was one other girl in the room when Ginny arrived, a petite Asian girl with with straight black hair that was pulled up into two high and perky pigtails. She looked to be about Ginny's age and she flashed Ginny a sunny smile as Ginny moved to join her. Like Ginny, she was carrying a broom, though the model was much smaller and sleeker than Ginny's own, and she didn't recognise the make or model. That was unusual, considering how much Ginny knew about brooms.
She looked down at her own brand-new Firebolt, the golden registration number gleaming boldly along the polished ebony handle. Ginny had protested when Harry first presented her with the beautiful broom—just because they were dating and living together, it didn't mean that he could start treating her like some kept woman. But he'd been so crestfallen at her refusal to accept his generous gift, a congratulatory present for signing with the Harpies, and Ginny had quickly realised how unreasonable she was being. She needed a broom, and Harry's gift was hardly meant as a handout. He'd eventually convinced her to take it as an investment into her soon-to-be illustrious career, with the promise that he would be more than happy to let her start paying for everything once the Galleons began to roll in—professional Quidditch players did tend to make more money than Aurors, after all. Besides, the broom was a beauty, and she couldn't deny the importance of a good broom at the professional level. Here, everybody was going to be talented, which meant she should take advantage of any edge she was given.
"Hi! I'm Shoko," the girl said with a frankly alarming amount of enthusiasm.
"Hello," Ginny said, cheerful but much more subdued than her companion. "I'm Ginny."
"Nice to meet you, Ginny. Aren't you so excited? I am so excited I could burst!" Shoko spoke quickly, her excitement obvious as she practically bounced on her toes. Her English was perfect, but she spoke with an accent that led Ginny to believe she hadn't spent her whole life in England. Ginny smiled weakly at the reminder as to why they were there that day, the thousands of Snitches in her belly making her stomach cramp.
"What position do you play?" Shoko continued, without waiting for Ginny to respond. "I play Seeker, but I bet you could tell that from my size. Even back home I am considered small, very good for catching the Snitch. I am just a reserve Seeker for now, but I do not think that will be the case for long. I hope not. My parents are already very unhappy that I am not going back to Japan to be a Healer. But I could not give up my dream!"
She looked at Ginny with big, earnest eyes, clearly expecting Ginny to understand—they were both here to chase their dreams, after all. Ginny did understand, in a way, though her parents had never been anything other than supportive of her desire to play professionally. Shoko seemed nice enough, but her enthusiastic chatter was doing nothing to sooth Ginny's frayed nerves. If anything, it just set her more on edge, her insides coiling tighter and tighter as they waited.
"Hello, ladies," a booming voice called out from the other side of the room. Ginny and Shoko both spun to greet Audra Allaway, current manager of the Harpies. She'd been a Beater back in her day, and though she'd been out of the game for years, her large, muscled body still told the story of her success. Her dark brown hair was cropped close to her head, and her large features could look brutish on a different person. Luckily Audra was always quick to laugh and smile, and it transformed her entirely. She was known to be tough as nails on her girls, but she had a heart of gold, and it was obvious the Harpies loved her. "How are you two doing this morning?"
"Great," Ginny said, flushing at the squeak in her voice. She cleared her throat and continued in a much lower tone, "Excited to be here."
Audra grinned, an amused glint in her eye. "Well, we're happy to have you. Training starts in thirty, but I wanted to get you here a little early so I could show you around the centre."
She turned and walked out of the room, clearly expecting them to follow. Ginny shared an excited glance with Shoko before following down the hall.
Audra walked them through the training centre, showing them the offices where the managers worked, the sports medicine centre, a small owl post room, a large gym for cardio and strength training, and even a modest café where they could grab protein bars, smoothies, and snacks. The tour ended at the changing room, where Ginny could already hear the sound of clanging doors and laughter. Ginny's stomach lurched.
"Listen up, ladies," Audra boomed as she led the way into the changing room. A dozen bodies slowed their movements and quieted down. "We've got our newest recruits here with us today. Shoko Kazehaya comes to us from Japan, and she's replacing Hale as reserve Seeker." Several people shot grins at Hale, a whip-thin blonde who'd been promoted to starting Seeker after the previous starter had been traded to one of Welsh teams. "And this here is Ginerva Weasley."
"Ginny," she corrected quickly. She suppressed a wince and bit her lip, hoping Audra wouldn't mind the interruption. Ginny really didn't want everybody to be calling her Ginevra and thought it best to nip that in the bud early.
"Ginny Weasley," Audra continued with a quirk of her lips. "She's just left Hogwarts and will be joining Morgan and Butler as a reserve Chaser."
A tall black woman with high cheekbones and full lips made her way over to them both. Her short hair was plaited into tight cornrows, and a jagged scar cut through her right eyebrow. Ginny thought she might faint. She was in the same room as Gwenog Jones. And more than that, Gwenog Jones was looking right at her, taking Ginny in with those sharp brown eyes, as if she could tell Ginny's flying ability from just a glance.
"Welcome to the team, girls. Training starts in ten. Go ahead and find your lockers and get changed."
Ginny tried not to bristle at being referred to as a girl. She was eighteen and a bloody woman, for fuck's sake! But she supposed to somebody as experienced as Gwenog Jones, Ginny probably looked like a prepubescent teen.
"Over here, Ginny," a vaguely familiar voice called out from across the room. She made her way over to the woman already dressed in Quidditch leathers that clung to her muscled legs and tattooed arms. She was surprisingly busty, and Ginny felt a flash of heat—or rather, envy—Ginny's own chest was far more modest than she'd prefer, though she'd never had any complaints from any of the boys she'd gone out with. Something about the woman pulled at a thread in Ginny's brain, but she was certain she'd remember somebody as striking as the woman in front of her. Not to mention the distinguishing tattoos on her arm, the stud piercing below her lip and the hoop threaded through her eyebrow, and the streaks of red in her dark brown hair.
She quirked a half-smile when Ginny reached the locker next to her, her cheeks dimpling and her brown eyes warm. "You might not remember me," she said. "I was a couple of years ahead of you, but my name's Alicia. Alicia Spinnet."
Ginny's eyes widened. Now she remembered. She was one of the Gryffindor Chasers when Ginny had first started at Hogwarts. Alicia had looked a lot different then. Without the tattoos and piercings and form-fitting clothing she had blended much more easily into the tapestry of cloaked students at Hogwarts. Ginny looked Alicia over, her heart beating with excitement as she absorbed Alicia's new look. She wasn't blending in now. She looked fucking wicked.
"Yeah, of course I remember you! We played together my first year on the team. Or, well, my first sort-of-year on the team."
"Yeah, you replaced Harry as Seeker when Umbridge banned him, didn’t you? Shit, that was a barmy year."
"Weren't they all?"
Alicia snorted. "You can say that again. Anyway, I'm one of the Chasers here, so I expect we'll be working together quite a bit."
"Sounds good." Ginny smiled over at Alicia as she changed, feeling giddy and self-conscious. Alicia seemed so cool and confident, all of the woman here did, and Ginny couldn't wait to get to know them for real, instead of memorising their stats and the tidbits posted about them in various magazines—not that she'd ever admit she'd done that. She couldn't believe that she was really on the team, that she would get to be a part of something so amazing.
Alicia grinned before grabbing her broom and heading towards the door. "See you out there."
"Yeah," Ginny murmured breathlessly. "See you out there."
Ginny's heart wouldn't stop racing, adrenaline flooding her system in a constant dizzying loop as she staggered towards the changing rooms with the rest of the team. Merlin, it was only the first training session, and already Ginny felt dazed and awed and overwhelmed. Her team kicked some serious arse, even if it was only in practise.
If Ginny were being honest with herself, she could admit that, despite her nerves, she had been a little overconfident coming into her first day with the Harpies. She'd been the best Chaser on her team back at Hogwarts, though considering how depleted all of the Houses had been last year, the first year after the war… well, maybe that wasn't really saying much. Ginny shuddered, trying to shake off the sudden bleakness that thinking of the war and all that had been lost never failed to inspire. She was here now, she was moving on with her life, living it to the best and the fullest of her ability. Fred would have wanted that.
The point was that Ginny could admit she'd been a little cocky, confident in her ability to fly and handle the Quaffle, but after today….
It had been humbling, watching the Harpies play together, the easy synchronicity in which they dodged and spun and passed. Every one of them was so breathtakingly talented and in-shape and passionate about the game. Ginny had needed to pinch herself on more than one occasion to prove that she was actually here, that this was really her life.
When she'd first been signed, she'd been a little disappointed that she was only drafted to the reserves. It had been irrational, of course—she knew that it was standard practise for the vast majority of recruits. Watching the Harpies train today, Ginny felt grateful to even be on the reserves. Ginny was a damn good Chaser, but she knew that she wasn't quite at their level—at least not yet. She was confident she'd get there, and soon if she had anything to say about it, but she planned on taking full advantage of her time on the reserve team to learn as much as she could to earn a starting position.
"Not bad out there today," Alicia told her as she dried herself off next to Ginny in the changing room. Ginny flushed at the compliment. Alicia had been amazing out on the pitch, and Ginny couldn't believe she'd never really noticed her or her talent at Hogwarts.
"Yeah? I mean, it's pretty obvious I still have a long way to go. You guys are all so brill."
Alicia flashed her a cocky smile as she tugged on a pair of tight-fitting jeans. "You are too, or Audra never would have signed you. You're one of us now." She winked. "Get used to greatness."
Ginny laughed, her insides expanding at the camaraderie and the joy of being included, at being a part of something that she'd admired ever since she was a little girl. She loved Alicia's confident attitude, her easy acknowledgement of her superior skills. Despite the Harpies' success, Quidditch was still very much a boy's club. There were plenty of sexist opponents and misogynistic fans who were more than willing to tear the Harpies—or any woman in Quidditch, regardless of team—down. People liked to claim it was getting better, and maybe it was, but they still had a long way to go. There'd been a disgusting amount of backlash three years ago when the Harpies had traded for Andréa Bisset, a transgender witch who'd been playing Beater for one of the French teams. According to an interview Ginny had read in Seeker Weekly, Andréa had almost moved back home after being on the receiving end of vitriol and hate from people claiming she wasn't woman enough to play for the all-witch team. But the Harpies had rallied around her, staunchly defending her rightful place on the team, and generally being a fierce and powerful force to be reckoned with. In an industry steeped in misogynistic tradition, Ginny thought if you were going to have an all-women team, it helped when you kicked some serious arse and had complete and total faith in your abilities and the skills of your teammates. Yet another reason for Ginny to love the Harpies.
"I was born for greatness," Ginny said solemnly. Alicia began to laugh, a full, happy sound that made Ginny feel absurdly pleased and proud. Ginny's lips twitched into a broad grin.
"I think you're gonna fit in just fine, Red."
"Red?" Ginny asked, her stomach suddenly filled with fluttering Snitches.
Alicia reached out and tugged on a shower-damp lock of Ginny's red hair. Ginny flushed. "Seemed like an obvious choice. You're not officially part of the team until you have a nickname, after all."
"And what's your nickname?"
Alicia wagged her finger at her. "Nu-uh. You've got to earn that knowledge."
Ginny pretended to pout, but she was too giddy to make it convincing. Red. Alicia chuckled and smiled at her fondly. "Fucking newbies. God, you're adorable."
Ginny ignored the way her heart seemed to skip a beat at Alicia's statement. All the excitement was clearly getting to her. "You're not that much older than me, you know."
"I'm going to remind you of that next year when we get another batch of rookies." Alicia threw her gear into a sleek black training bag before tugging her damp hair bag into a tight plait. Ginny let the comfortable silence and the background din of chattering teammates wash over her as she pulled her own hair into a messy bun.
"Oi, Spinner, you coming or what?" one of the players—Ginny couldn't tell who—called from the other side of the room.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming!" Alicia shouted back.
"Spinner, eh?" Ginny said when Alicia bent to grab her bag. "Looks like I didn't have to do much to earn your nickname after all."
Alicia rolled her eyes and flashed her an amused look. "Doesn't mean you get to use it yet, Rookie. I'll let you know when you've earned that right."
Ginny's heart stuttered at that as she replied with a breathless, "Sounds good."
Alicia winked at her and shouldered her bag, turning away before pausing and looking back at her. "By the way, there's a party this weekend at Gwen's place to kick off the season. Harpies only, no friends or partners allowed. You should come."
Ginny's heart leapt up into her throat. "Yeah?"
Alicia rolled her eyes fondly before flashing Ginny a genuine smile. "Yes. It'll be fun. Gwen should have properly invited you newbies but she's been in a bit of a mood." Alicia rolled her eyes again and Ginny could tell there was a story there, but she knew better to press it now. "Anyway, it'll be a good chance to get to know everybody outside of training gear."
"Okay," Ginny breathed. "Yeah, I'll be there."
"Cool. I'll tell Audra to give you the details. See you around, Red."
Ginny blinked after Alicia as she exited the changing room, feeling dizzy and lightheaded as she murmured, belatedly, "See you around."
Ginny's stomach was in knots by the time she Apparated outside of the address Audra had given her. Gwenog's address. Where there was a Harpies party. That Ginny had been invited to. Ginny steadied herself against a tree, feeling suddenly lightheaded.
After she'd taken a few deep breaths to calm herself, Ginny started down the long path towards the elaborate estate that must've belonged to her captain. No surprise there—Quidditch was quite lucrative, especially for star players like Gwenog who had a list of sponsorship deals a mile long. Even from the edge of the property, Ginny could hear the sound of music and laughter as lights flickered from somewhere behind the house. Well, at least she wasn't embarrassingly early. She supposed she had Harry to thank for that.
With his increasingly erratic Auror training schedule, Harry had been disappointed to learn that one of the only nights they'd both had off in weeks would be spent apart. But no way in hell was Ginny going to miss out on the first Harpies event she'd been invited to, and Alicia had been clear when she'd said that the event was Harpies only—no friends or significant others allowed.
Harry had pouted for a bit, and then had distracted her with some fooling around before Ginny finally pulled herself away. She'd been a little annoyed by the distraction at the time, but the orgasm had managed to take some of the edge off, and it was better to arrive fashionably late than to be awkwardly early.
Ginny pressed her wand against the front door to set off the door-charm and shifted her weight from one foot to another as she waited. She was beginning to regret not taking Shoko up on her offer arrive together, if only so she wouldn't have to suffer the suspense alone. Several seconds passed, and Ginny was debating the merits of ringing again, when the door swung open to reveal a small, smartly dressed house-elf.
The elf stared at her silently, and Ginny hastened to introduce herself. "Hello, my name is Ginny. I'm here for the, err, party? I'm on the team with Gwenog."
The house-elf nodded. "This way, miss."
"What's your name?" Ginny asked as she followed the elf through the dimly lit floor, no doubt towards the back garden where Ginny had seen earlier signs of the party.
"You may call me Kilty."
Ginny didn't have much experience with house-elves, but Kilty seemed even more taciturn than most. Then again, Dobby probably wasn't the best baseline. A pang went through her at the thought of Dobby and his endless enthusiasm and desire to help, but before she was dragged too far into memories of the past, they arrived at the back door where large, glass panels overlooked the brightly lit gathering of Harpies.
She watched them laughing and joking, taking time to savour the moment and the knowledge that these were her teammates, that partying at Gwenog Jones's actual bloody mansion was a thing that Ginny did now. When she felt ready, she turned to thank Kilty for the escort, but the house-elf had disappeared. Her nerves came rumbling back as she stared at the latch for the door, but she was a damn Gryffindor! She'd certainly faced worse in the past few years. Still, it had been a long time since Ginny had been the new kid, and she found it a little disconcerting. She was used to being surrounded by close friends and family, but almost everybody on her team was completely unknown to her, save for what she'd read about them in the Prophet. Ginny wanted them to like her. She wanted to belong.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door and stepped outside into the warm summer air, making her way towards where most of the women had gathered. She wasn't sure if she should announce herself, or say hi to Gwenog as the hostess, or what exactly the protocol was. Thankfully, she didn't have long to feel awkward. Ginny had barely reached the first circle of chairs when Alicia came bounding up to her, pulling her into a bear hug.
"Red! You made it."
Ginny grinned, her skin heating at the affectionate nickname and the warmth of Alicia's hug as they broke apart. "'Course I did. Wouldn't miss it."
Alicia smiled, the stud below her lip flashing in the flickering light from the tiki-torches dotting the lawn. "Excellent. I was just getting a refill myself. The keg's this way."
"Keg?" Ginny asked as she dutifully followed Alicia through various bits of garden furniture towards a bar area on the other side of the lawn. It looked like most of the team had come, including the managers and administrative staff—all women, of course. Several were dancing to the music filtering from inside the house and others were sitting together laughing and gesticulating wildly.
"Yeah. Audra's wife manages a brewery, so there's never any shortage of beer at Harpies events. Though Gwen keeps other stuff around too if you'd prefer something harder."
"Beer's fine for me," Ginny said as they reached the keg. She watched as Alicia grabbed the spout and pressed down, tilting her cup as she filled it.
"I can get yours too if you hand me a cup."
Ginny passed her a plastic cup with gold and green stripes—Harpies colours, of course—pleased that she wasn't going to have to operate the tap herself. She'd never actually seen a proper barrel of beer before—most of the parties Ginny went to had the usual cans of lager, plastic bottles of cider and cheap, sweet wine. The last thing Ginny wanted to do was make a fool of herself in front of Alicia and the rest of her teammates.
"So, Red, tell me all about yourself," Alicia said as she handed her a full cup. "I mean, I know you can fly, obviously, and that you were in the best of the Hogwarts houses, but I don't know much else about you."
"You must not read the Prophet then," Ginny said before wincing. "God, I didn't mean to sound so up myself, but Harry—"
Alicia laughed and waved her off. "Nah, I get it. Anybody who hangs around Harry's bound to be dragged into the spotlight. You guys still together then? I don't really read anything other than the sports section, to be honest."
"S'the only part that's not rubbish," Ginny agreed as Alicia plopped down on a surprisingly comfortable looking wicker sofa. She patted the spot next to her and Ginny joined her. Ginny felt warm all over, but that was probably just from the large gulp of beer she'd just taken. "And yeah, Harry and I are still going out. We, uh, broke up for a bit, during the war, but we got back together during my last year at Hogwarts. We just started renting a flat together, actually."
It was a tiny little place in London, barely big enough for two people, but Ginny loved it. She knew Harry felt cramped there, and she couldn't blame him for not loving small spaces after his childhood, but they couldn't afford much bigger, and Ginny was adamant that they split everything down the middle 50/50. Growing up poor, Ginny never had many things that were all her own, and it was important to her that she contribute equally to this new place that was just theirs and nobody else's.
"Oh, that's pretty fast, isn't it?"
Alicia shrugged. "It's been what? Just a couple months since you got out of Hogwarts? If you two have only been together since school, it seems pretty fast to move in together, that’s all."
Ginny frowned. Was it too fast? She supposed she'd been a little surprised when Harry asked her to move in with him as soon as she left Hogwarts, but their relationship had hardly been standard. She'd been half in love with him since she was eleven, after all. Even when she'd been going out with Dean and Michael, she'd never really given up on Harry. When he'd suggested they find their own place a few months ago, she'd been so grateful for an excuse to not have to stay at the Burrow that she'd jumped at the chance. She and Harry had a bit of a row when she realised he wanted her to move in to Grimmauld Place instead of finding somewhere new together, but eventually she'd convinced him that they needed somewhere just for them, at least to start. They'd only been living together for a few weeks now, and it was taking some time to adjust, but Ginny thought they were doing okay.
"Sorry, sorry," Alicia said before Ginny had a chance to respond. "That was a bit rude, wasn't it? I'm sure it's fine. My girlfriend and I just broke up last week, and I think I'm feeling down on relationships right now. Ignore me, please."
Something jumped in Ginny's chest at the mention of a girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend more accurately. She didn't know why the knowledge that Alicia liked women struck her so suddenly—it wasn't like Ginny had a problem with it or anything. Half the team seemed to lean that way, and Ginny had never been overly fussed about what other people chose to do with their personal lives.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, suppressing a wince at her awkwardness. "Are you okay?"
Alicia snorted before taking a long drag of her beer. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine. It wasn't really serious—we didn't really have all that much in common, really. I just get a bit pissy when I'm not getting shagged on the regular. It's such a bitch to pull during training season, which means I'm probably looking at a dry couple of months."
Ginny choked on her beer as images of Alicia kissing some faceless woman, her fingers tangled up in long hair, flashed through Ginny's mind. She felt dizzy, from the beer, surely—it must be stronger than she thought to be affecting her so quickly. Alicia slanted a sly look her way, her mouth tilting into a smile. "All right there, Red?"
"Yeah, fine," Ginny squeaked.
"Good. Because it's your responsibility to make sure I don't snog any of our teammates tonight."
Ginny's eyes widened. "Is that likely to happen?"
Alicia shrugged. "I'm an affectionate drunk, and like I said, I'm looking at some sexless months ahead, which can definitely lead to bad decisions. Taking up with somebody during training season is a bad idea—all the long hours and exhausting practices don't really leave time to invest in a new relationship. And starting something with a teammate is a doubly bad idea."
"Wouldn't they be more understanding of the training stuff though?"
"Yeah, but then there's all this added pressure on the relationship because of the team. What happens if things implode?"
"That seems a bit pessimistic," Ginny said before taking a long pull of her drink, letting the rich liquid roll over her tongue. "I mean, thinking of the ending before things even begin."
Alicia downed half her beer in a long swallow. Ginny found herself strangely mesmerised by the flickering torch-light glinting across the skin of her throat. "Yeah, well tell that to Gwen and Edrie," she said when she'd finished swallowing.
"Edrie. Like, Edrie Lamb, our Keeper?"
"Yup," Alicia confirmed with a subtle glance towards the bonfire across the way, where Edrie was deep in conversation with one of their Beaters. "Have you noticed they can't even look at each other? They can barely even stand to be in the same room together."
"I hadn't really noticed." Being so new to the team, Ginny had plenty to keep her occupied the past week beyond noticing the subtleties of team politics. Though she supposed she better start paying attention so she didn't inadvertently put her foot in her mouth.
"Don't worry," Alicia snorted. "You will. They had a thing… two years ago now? Really intense. And then… well, it depends on who you ask what happened next. Gwen claims that Edrie became too clingy and she had to end things. Edrie claims that she walked in on Gwen with some pretty blonde thing between her legs. Either way, they had a vicious break-up. They used to get into these mega screaming matches during training. Eventually, Audra had to threaten to boot them both off the team if they didn't get their shit together. Gwen almost lost her captaincy over it. It's been years and they still can't stand each other. Apparently they got into it right before training started, hence Gwen's pissy mood."
"Yikes," Ginny said, feeling suddenly apprehensive. She distracted herself by drinking the rest of her beer.
"You can say that again," Alicia said with a grin. "It's pretty good, isn't it?"
Alicia laughed. "Sorry! My mind tends to jump around a lot and sometimes I forget that not everyone is in my head. I was talking about the beer. You seem to like it." She gestured towards Ginny's empty cup.
"Oh, yeah," Ginny said, her cheeks flooding with inexplicable heat. "I suppose I was thirsty."
"Don't tell me you're drunk already, Red?"
Ginny shook her head. She could feel the pleasant hum of alcohol buzzing through her veins, but she definitely wasn't drunk. Yet.
"Good," Alicia said with a wicked grin, before draining the rest of her cup. "In that case, let me get us a refill," she said before plucking Ginny's cup from her hand. "No, no, stay here, I'll get it," she continued as Ginny moved to get up. She gave Ginny a wink. "Be back in a flash."
Ginny watched silently as Alicia picked her way back towards the booze, waving and chatting casually with teammates as she passed. She was just so cool and confident, clearly completely at ease with herself. Ginny had always done her best to come across that way, but it was becoming increasingly clear to her that part of her confidence had been a façade. It had served her well enough so far, but being surrounded by so many women who were unabashedly themselves set fire to something deep in Ginny's soul. She wanted that for herself, wanted to come into her own, and somehow she knew that she was in exactly the right place to do just that.
Alicia wasn't gone for long, but every moment Ginny was alone on the wicker sofa—her arms wrapped around her knees as she looked out at the party—felt like an eternity. Everybody had been lovely and welcoming, but Ginny couldn't help feel like a bit of an outsider, sure that at any moment they'd all realise they had an imposter in their midst and chuck her out. She knew she was being ridiculous, but that didn't stop the intrusive thoughts from attempting to creep in, having her question if she really belonged.
Across the lawn, Shoko caught Ginny's eye and waved merrily, indicating that Ginny should come over and join in on the conversation she appeared to be having with some of the other girls on the reserves. Any other time and Ginny would have been glad of the offer, but all she wanted to do right then was spend more time with Alicia. Ginny waved back and gestured towards Alicia in excuse, who was thankfully making her way back over to Ginny, a trail of bobbing cups following in her wake.
Ginny took a moment to appreciate how good Alicia looked in her cutoff denim shorts and skin-tight black tank top that dipped low down her sides. It was such a simple outfit, but on Alicia it looked put together and sexy, showing off her curves and tattooed arms. Her dark hair fell in waves past her shoulders, the streaks of red barely visible in the low light. It was still pleasantly warm outside, but the air had begun to cool as night settled more firmly around them, and parts of Alicia had most definitely noticed the slight chill. Ginny's stomach and chest felt tight as she noticed the firm outline of Alicia's nipples pressing against her tight shirt. She wasn't sure why the sight made it feel like there suddenly wasn't enough air to breath, even though they were outside. Maybe it was because the fabric left very little to the imagination, and Ginny could very clearly make out the imprint of small rings threaded through Alicia's perky nipples.
Apparently she was staring, because Alicia cleared her throat rather pointedly. Ginny's face probably looked like a tomato by the time she sheepishly met Alicia's amused gaze.
"See something you like, Red?"
Ginny ignored the flirtatious tone as Alicia handed her a beer, though it made Ginny's stomach flutter uncomfortably. "No. Uh, I mean… it's just… are those… piercings?"
Alicia's grin was positively sinful. "They are indeed. Got them done after I left Hogwarts."
"But didn't it hurt?" Ginny felt a sick fascination take root in her brain, unsure if she was more intrigued or horrified at the thought of putting a needle through such a sensitive place.
"Sure did. Hurt like a bitch." Alicia shrugged. "But then again, I've found all the best things do."
"That sounds a little… masochistic."
"Ha, maybe. I clearly don't have a problem with needles." She gestured towards her pierced lip and eyebrow and the tattoos decorating her arm.
"Aren't the piercings a liability when we play? What if somebody tried to rip them out?"
"I'd knock them off their fucking broom," Alicia said simply. Ginny raised an eyebrow and Alicia chuckled. "There're charms you can cast to make it so people can't grab them. I'm pretty diligent about casting them before we play."
It still seemed a little risky to Ginny—what if you forgot to cast the spell?—but she couldn't deny the piercings looked good on Alicia. Whereas on Ginny, she'd probably look like some teenager trying to impress her friends.
"You got any ink, Red? Or maybe some naughty piercings?" Alicia flicked a teasingly lascivious look at Ginny's breasts and groin that simultaneously made Ginny want to cross her legs and spread them wider.
"Nope. Neither. I had my ears pierced when I was younger, but I hated wearing earrings and they eventually closed up. I've always kind of wanted a tattoo though." She looked appreciatively at the ink trailing down Alicia's left bicep.
"You should definitely get one," Alicia encouraged. "I'd totally go with you if you want."
Ginny grinned and took a swallow of beer, unsure if it was the alcohol or Alicia's words that were warming her up. "Thanks. I might take you up on that."
They spent the rest of the night hanging out and talking, getting steadily drunk off good beer beneath the stars. Other teammates drifted in and out, joining them on the wicker sofa for short bursts before wandering off again to mingle. Ginny knew she should probably do the same, but she was too damn content where she was to bother. Alicia was more than fascinating enough to capture Ginny's attention. They gossiped more about the team and their old housemates and the rest of the Quidditch league. Ginny complimented Alicia's outfit, lamenting her own poor fashion sense, and Alicia promised to take her shopping in the next few weeks to help her find a few pieces with a bit more flare. All in all it was a perfect night, and Ginny couldn't remember the last time she had so much fun or felt so completely at ease.
Alicia gave her another hug when it was finally time to head home, before smacking a noisy kiss to her cheek.
"No snogging teammates, remember," Ginny teased breathlessly, her heart racing.
Alicia laughed far more loudly than the joke deserved. "I warned you I was an affectionate drunk."
"Yeah, I guess you did."
"I'm glad you're here, Red," Alicia said as she reached clumsily for the Floo powder. "I have a good feeling about this year."
Ginny watched as she disappeared in a puff of green flame, her eyes burning with the after-image. The room spun, and she steadied herself against the mantle, blinking at the space Alicia had just vacated.
"Yeah," she whispered to the empty room. "Me, too."
Training passed in a blur, every day more exhausting and amazing than the last. Despite the truly brutal training regimen and the undeniable intensity involved in getting her skill level up to a professional calibre, Ginny couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so happy and content. She'd always enjoyed Quidditch, but now her feelings were deeper somehow, more, growing into a bone-deep passion that fueled and sustained her. She was unbelievably in love with the game, with her team, with all the amazing women she was surrounded with and supported by. The ones who called her out when she made a shitty pass and praised her when she nailed the Finbourgh Flick. They held her to a high standard, forcing to train harder, push herself to her very limit, to live up to the impossibly high standards the Harpies demanded of her. Despite how aware she was becoming of how very much she still had to learn, her confidence was at an all time high. In order to live up to her teammates expectations, she had to believe in her own abilities, had to have complete and utter faith in the fact that she unequivocally deserved to be here. It was amazing and mad how quickly her profession had taken over her life, and how very little she minded it. This was what she was meant to do, and with each day that passed she felt more and more certain that she'd found her calling. It was a brilliant feeling, heady and addictive.
Unfortunately, for all that Quidditch had become something that drove and motivated Ginny, things at home weren't quite so rosy. After hours and hours putting her body through the wringer most days of the week, Ginny barely had the energy to go home, eat dinner, and collapse into bed before waking up early and doing it all over again. Harry's own training to become an Auror was just as demanding, and the two of them had become like ships in the night.
Sometimes they could go days without exchanging more than a handful of words, and the quality time that they did manage to spend together had become stilted and awkward, as if they were strangers. It felt like they'd forgot how to be together, how to relate to one another. Ginny found herself annoyed by little things that shouldn't have bothered her, like how frequently Harry felt the need to talk about Malfoy—who he'd been partnered with for training—and how his rants about the blond git had become steadily less angry and suspicious as time passed. It wasn't a secret how little Ginny cared for Malfoy, and she didn't see the need to think about him any more than necessary.
"You certainly seemed to have warmed up to your partner," Ginny had sniped after Harry had responded to her story of that day's brutal training session with what Malfoy would have thought of Gwenog's demands, as if he was relevant to Ginny's life at all. She knew she had probably been a bit irrational, that Harry had likely just been trying to relate her life to what was happening in his, but it had grated all the same.
Harry's jaw had tensed. "I know he was a bastard back at Hogwarts, but I really do think he's changed, even if he's still a bit of a dick. I mean, he is my partner after all. We spend a lot of time together."
He'd not taken that well, his own temper flaring in response to Ginny's clear aggravation. Harry was frustrated that all of Ginny's stories involved people he'd never met and apparently had no reason to care about—save Alicia, who he knew from Hogwarts but hadn't really been all that friendly with—and he'd snapped back that Ginny was one to talk considering all the time she'd been spending with her new teammates. The row had quickly developed from there—something that had unfortunately been occurring with increasing regularity.
When they'd finally cooled down enough to apologise, they'd both been eager to blame their flashes of temper on their hectic training schedules, lack of sleep, and limited recharge time. Ginny knew she had a naturally short fuse, and Harry's wasn't much longer, which could be an explosive combination under certain circumstances. It was understandable that they'd blow up at one another from time to time, but it was still awful. Harry had looked so miserable and guilty over it, reflecting the discomfort Ginny felt whenever they were at odds. They'd both been quick to forgive and move on, but Ginny couldn't shake the sense that the ground beneath her feet was moving, and Ginny wasn't entirely sure where she'd end up when it stopped.
Alicia had become a bit of a refuge for her, taking Ginny under her wing at practise and showing her the ropes. She was somebody who understood Quidditch and the intensity of training, and though she knew Harry, she wasn't as close to him as the rest of Ginny's friends, and wasn't as keen as the others would have been to talk about him and the general state of his and Ginny's relationship. Alicia was so much fun to hang out with, and she'd even taken Ginny shopping, just like she'd promised. Ginny's face heated as she remembered that first shopping trip, Alicia dragging her to Muggle and wizarding shops alike. She had an uncanny ability to determine the items in each shop that most caught Ginny's eye, gleefully plucking them off racks and piles before piling them into Ginny's arms and shooing her off into the changing rooms. Ginny was helpless to resist, and so she found herself trying on clothes she'd always admired and been drawn to but hadn't ever had the guts to pull off herself.
"I can't wear that!" Ginny had protested when Alicia shoved fistfuls of lacy bralettes, skin-tight bodysuits, and sporty crop tops into Ginny's arms.
"Yes you can," Alicia had said firmly. "Don't think I didn't see you eyeing up those mannequins when we came in. Unless you've got a very unusual kink for plastic models, I'm going to assume it was their outfits that caught your eye." She'd grinned saucily at Ginny before cocking her head. "Go to the changing rooms and I'll grab you some men's shirts to try on with the bralette and maybe some joggers and combat trousers to pair with the rest."
"But…." Ginny's protests had fallen on deaf ears as Alicia had sashayed away, and Ginny hadn't really wanted to protest anyway. Alicia hadn't been wrong about the items Ginny gravitated towards, generally some combination of feminine and masculine, sexy and sporty. Living at home with a mother who had fairly particular ideas about the kinds of things respectable young ladies wore, and being stuck in a Hogwarts school uniform the rest of the time had made Ginny more cautious with her style than she'd realised. Alicia's tacit permission and acceptance to wear whatever the hell made her happy was shockingly intoxicating. It was fun and frightening, dressing in a way that seemed to reflect how she felt inside. There was something both freeing and vulnerable in it, and Ginny still got a little flip in her belly when she left the flat in something much bolder than what she would have worn before. Every day she was growing braver, and she lived for the quiet pride and appreciation in Alicia's gaze whenever Ginny wore one of her new outfits.
She'd never talked about her impromptu shopping trip with Harry, hadn't discussed what it all meant to her. Maybe because she wasn't entirely sure what it meant, and maybe because she wasn't positive he'd understand even if she did.
He hadn't said anything about it, but it was clear he'd noticed, even if their opposite schedules meant it took him longer than it probably should have. Sometimes, he looked at Ginny like she was a puzzle he was trying to work out, as if she were somebody he didn't recognise, entirely different from the girl he fell in love with. The thing was, Ginny felt like a different person. It wasn't even two months since she'd started with the Harpies, and somehow it seemed like everything in Ginny's life, right down to her insides, had been turned on its head. Ginny could feel that she was on the edge of something massive, that something big was coming her way. It thrilled and terrified her in equal measure, and as much as she knew that she should be leaning on and confiding in Harry, her partner, during this tumultuous time, something always held her back. Yet another reason for her to be grateful for the Harpies' presence in her life.
Getting to know them was wonderful and strange, as Ginny had never had a lot of close female friends growing up. It was just Hermione and Luna really, and though she loved them both dearly, she'd didn't really have a lot in common with either of them. They'd all been thrown together in so many intense situations that they'd inevitably formed a close bond, but she'd never clicked with either of them, not the way she did with Alicia and the rest of the Harpies. Though she gravitated the most towards Alicia, she'd made friends with most of the other girls on the team as well, commiserating with Shoko over their newie grunt status, joking with her fellow reserve Chasers, competing with the rest of the team for who had the gnarliest scar. For the first time in her life, Ginny felt like she was surrounded by her people, and she hadn't realised how much she'd wanted that until it was finally within her grasp. It was inspiring, sharing a pitch with such a wide variety of amazing women, women who cursed and got muddy, who worked hard and told filthy jokes and never apologised for who they were.
And Alicia… more than anybody else, Alicia just seemed to get her in a way nobody else ever had. Grabbing lunch with Alicia had quickly become the best part of Ginny's day, and she looked forward to the weekends with a near-painful anticipation, when Alicia would invite her to hang out just the two them. It was nice, having a friend like Alicia, somebody who made Ginny's heart race and her stomach flip whenever they were together. Not only did she understand Ginny's obsession with Quidditch, but she seemed to get that everything in Ginny's life seemed topsy-turvy lately, and she was always willing to lend a sympathetic ear or offer a fun distraction.
Alicia and Quidditch and the Harpies were Ginny's rock through all the inner and outer turmoil, and she never felt more full of joy and life than when she was climbing onto a broom, surrounded by her amazing teammates.
She wasn't sure what to think about the fact that she felt more at home on the pitch with a group of woman she'd known for less than two months, than she did in the flat she shared with the man she was in love with.
"You can look, you know," Alicia said, her voice bouncing off the ceramic tiles in the cavernous communal showers. The room was empty, save Alicia and Ginny, and Ginny's insides squirmed with the strange intimacy of it. Somehow it felt different when it was just the two of them showering together without the rest of the team filling up the room with loud jetting faucets and endless background chatter.
"Look at what?" Ginny asked, hoping the dull rush of water would drown out the embarrassing squeak in her voice. She'd been trying so hard not to look, forcing her gaze pointedly away from Alicia's naked body despite the constant pull she felt to look her fill. She didn't know why she was so fascinated, but she couldn't deny that she was.
Alicia laughed, and the rich, warm sound tingled down Ginny's spine all the way to the tips of her toes. "At my piercings," Alicia teased. "I know you're curious. Go ahead and look. I'm not shy."
No, she certainly wasn't. Ginny had always thought she herself was brave, but she had nothing on Alicia's brazen fearlessness. She ran shampoo through her damp hair and steeled herself, trying to will her skin not to flush red the moment she finally allowed herself to take in Alicia's naked body. Still, Alicia had issued a challenge, and Ginny was hardly the kind of person to shy away from one of those, nervous or not.
Alicia looked even better naked than she did clothed—quite the feat, considering how much Ginny admired her form and her style—and Ginny's body grew hot as she watched Alicia throw her head back under the spray to wash out the shampoo suds. Water cascaded down the curves of her breasts and hips and arse, slicking her warm tan skin. Her nipples were hard, and Ginny stared in hungry fascination at the silver bars threaded through each one, thicker than she'd been expecting. Her own nipples ached as she wondered how it felt for Alicia when somebody played with the bars, if it sent little jolts of pleasure straight to her cunt the way it did whenever Ginny pinched her own. Ginny's gaze lowered, almost against her will, lingering on the gentle swell of Alicia's belly before dropping down to the thick thatch of dark hair between her thighs.
Ginny's stomach flipped and she tore her gaze away quickly, pressing her own thighs together to alleviate the sudden throb in her core. She couldn't deny that Alicia was gorgeous, with the kind of body that Ginny had always wished she had for herself. The feeling flooding through her right now though, the one that made her feel flushed and faint, it didn't feel like envy, no matter how much Ginny told herself that was what it had to be.
"So what do you think?" Alicia asked, pulling Ginny from her confusing thoughts. "Gonna get a pair yourself?"
Ginny laughed weakly as she ran conditioner through her hair. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that just yet. My nipples ache just looking at them." They did, a strange twinging pulse that was a little too close to pleasure to be entirely comfortable.
Alicia tossed her a wicked grin, and the look sent another pulse of something right through Ginny. Suddenly the room was too small and the steamy air from the showers too hot and muggy. Ginny's skin felt too tight and she had the embarrassing urge to cover herself with her hands. She felt open and vulnerable, and she wasn't entirely sure why, but she knew it was time to get out and get changed. With a quick smile at Alicia, she turned off her shower and grabbed her towel, wrapping it quickly around herself before heading back out into the changing room.
She and Alicia had stayed late after training to practise the Dionysus Dive and the changing room was entirely empty, just as the showers had been. It was strange, being here without the rest of the Harpies making as much noise as a herd of Erumpents. As much as she loved the bustle, noise, and camaraderie, there was something peaceful about the quiet. The training centre was quickly becoming her favourite place in the world. She let the tranquil joy of being somewhere she so loved sink in and soothe her, smoothing out the confused tangle of feelings Alicia had inspired.
By the time Alicia finished up showering and joined her in the changing room, Ginny was mostly dressed and feeling much more centred. She sat on a bench to lace up her boots, taking extra care as she did them up, lingering on the laces so as not to be tempted to look over at Alicia as she changed.
"You got any plans for the evening, Red?" Alicia asked as she pulled on a simple black dress that hugged her every curve.
"Not really," Ginny lied. She and Harry had an unofficial date to eat dinner together at the flat that night, but those were just casual plans, easily set aside if Alicia wanted to hang out.
Alicia grinned. "Excellent. A couple of girls on the team are heading to the Venomous Violet for drinks. You should come with."
"The Venomous Violet?"
"Basically the only wizarding lesbian bar in Britain. It's just off one of the Diagon side streets and it's great! They host loads of events, but tonight should be pretty quiet. There's a dancefloor, and darts and pool though, and they've got decent pub food if you're hungry."
Ginny's entire body felt light as a feather. She wasn't sure why she felt like glowing at Alicia's invite, but something about it seemed special, like Ginny was being let in on a secret. She grinned giddily. "Yeah, that sounds brill. Just let me stop by the owl room on our way out so I can send Harry a quick note telling him not to wait up."
"Works for me."
Ginny felt a flicker of guilt as she jotted out a message to Harry before attaching it to the leg of one of the available owls, but she quickly squashed it. It wasn't like dinner together had been set in stone, after all. Besides, the last time they'd planned to spend the evening together, Harry had been the one to cancel so he could study for an exam with Malfoy, so it wasn't as if he'd have a leg to stand on if he got cross. Ginny's insides twisted as she wondered what it meant that she was so eager to skip out on spending time with Harry when they barely saw each other as it was. But just the thought of spending the evening with Alicia and the rest of her teammates had a broad grin plumping her cheeks, and she knew she'd regret it if she stayed in.
"All set?" Alicia asked as Ginny met her in the corridor outside the owl room.
"Yup. How're we getting to this Venomous Tentacula place?"
Alicia snorted as she led them outside. "The Venomous Violet. And it's probably easiest if I Side-Along you, since you've never been before. Morgan said the rest of the crew were planning on getting there around seven and it's gone eight already, so they've probably got a table."
"Brilliant. Should I just…." Ginny bit her lip as she turned to face Alicia. Side-Along obviously would require them to be touching, and the thought made her heart pound.
"Come on, Red, don't be shy," Alicia teased before reaching out and tugging Ginny close. Ginny stumbled, collapsing against Alicia's soft chest and blinking in surprise at her suddenly-near face. This close, Ginny could see that Alicia had a small beauty mark tucked beneath the lower lash line of her right eye. The sight was strangely captivating.
Alicia swallowed and cleared her throat, and Ginny shook away the daze that Alicia's proximity had inspired. "Right," Alicia said, her voice a bit shakier than usual. "Shall we?"
Ginny nodded and a moment later they Disapparated, the world around them dissolving and reforming in the blink of an eye. Flashing a smile that didn't quite seem to reach her eyes, Alicia stepped away, leaving Ginny strangely bereft. But before she had a chance to ruminate on the flash of disappointment, Alicia was reaching for her, grabbing her hand and dragging Ginny towards the pub across the street.
Alicia pulled her confidently inside, scanning the cosy tables until she caught sight of several of their teammates tucked away in the corner. Ginny's cheeks flushed and her palms grew sweaty as Alicia kept her firm hold. She wondered what the other patrons thought of them, if they assumed they were together. The idea shouldn't have felt as pleasant as it did.
"Budge over Morgy," Alicia said to Morgan as they got to the table. Morgan grumbled but obligingly slid further inside, making room for Alicia and Ginny. Their starting Beaters, Jasmine Silassie and Valen Kirkhoff were sat on the other side of Morgan, along with Renee Ward, one of the other starting Chasers.
"I see you brought the rookie," Renee said with a sharp grin. "Didn't think this was her kind of place."
Ginny didn't take her comments personally; she got the feeling Renee liked to test the new recruits. That didn't mean she was going to lie down and take it. "Maybe you shouldn't make assumptions then," Ginny said blandly before turning to the others. "What's good here? Alicia said the food wasn't half-bad and I'm starving."
"I really like their halloumi and chips," Alicia said softly, leaning in close to point to it on the menu. She smelled like the bright citrus shower gel that was provided for them in the team showers, and the scent triggered a strange flash of heat through Ginny's belly.
"Pie and mash is also brill, if you want something a little meatier," Jasmine added with a leer. "You know, if that's what you're into."
"Aww, I think Red here gets plenty enough meat at home, don't you?" Renee teased. Her tone was lighter than before, less pointed, and Ginny grinned at her. She'd grown up with a bunch of brothers who believed taking the mickey out of somebody was a sign of affection, and she could tell by the difference in Renee's tone from her earlier comment that this one was much more friendly. Ginny felt like she'd passed some kind of test, even more so when she snarked right back and Renee gave her an approving grin.
The time seemed to fly by, and before Ginny knew it, hours has passed with only the six of them eating and drinking and joking around. There were women everywhere of all shapes, sizes, and ages, laughing and hugging, a pair were even snogging passionately up against the wall by the loos. It was a surprisingly heady atmosphere, comforting and intoxicating at the same time. It wasn't like Ginny didn't have queer friends—though admittedly not many—but it struck her then how she'd never really been in a queer space before. She'd seen wizards holding hands as they walked down Diagon Alley, had seen witches dancing close at the Yule Ball, but she'd also seen the disapproving glances and uncomfortable stares when Lisa Hu had kissed her girlfriend Sue Lin right before Charms class in fifth year, heard the gossipy, judgemental whispers when Ernie McMillan had come out right after the war.
It was different here.
There was an atmosphere of ease and safety, an effortless kind of comfort that these women clearly felt being surrounded by their people. Ginny knew it didn't really compare, but given how light she'd felt these past few weeks around the Harpies, she thought she maybe had a very small idea as to the importance of community and finding spaces where you could be yourself, utterly and completely.
Several times throughout the night, an enterprising witch would make their way over to their table to make a move on one of the occupants. Ginny seemed to be mostly safe from such advances—the Prophet ensured that all of wizarding Britain was well aware that she was off the market—but Alicia was a crowd favourite. Ginny couldn't blame them—anybody with eyes could see how fit Alicia was, and that was to say nothing of her sharp, dry wit and compassionate soul. Alicia was always polite, but Ginny's insides fairly glowed everytime she brushed off another suitor to keep chatting with Ginny. Ginny told herself that pulse of happiness and relief had nothing to do with the sour feeling that threatened to drag down her mood at the thought of Alicia going off with somebody else. Alicia was her closest friend was all; she didn't want to be ditched for some random hookup.
"When did you know?" Ginny asked, after Alicia turned down the third proposition of the night.
Inexplicably, Ginny's cheeks began to heat. "That you liked women."
Alicia gave her a sidelong glance as she took another pull of her beer. She shrugged. "I guess I've always known, really. Can't remember a time when I didn't."
"But you weren't…. Were you out, at Hogwarts? I don't remember…."
"Anybody gossiping about it?" Alicia finished with a wry, slightly bitter smile. "No, I wasn't out. Not that I didn't get accused of it often enough as a girl playing Quidditch, but so did Katie and Angie for that matter. All those fragile little boys whose egos couldn't handle the fact that three women made the team over them." Ginny nodded in commiseration—she'd not been immune to that, either—as Alicia continued, "I thought about it, coming out. Almost did a couple of times."
"Why didn't you?"
Alicia made a face, her expression sheepish and cheeks heating as if she was embarrassed. "Angelina."
Ginny frowned. "Wasn't she your best friend? I don't know her that well, but she just started dating George and she seems cool. She's not homophobic is she?" She'd always seemed nice enough, but if she was some kind of arsehole she wanted to know before George got in too deep.
Alicia shook her head. "Nah, she was great. Is great. We're still good mates, though not as close as we used to be. That's not her fault though. I was…." Her laugh was rueful and self-deprecating. "I went through the standard queer right of passage and started to fancy my straight best friend."
Ginny winced. "Oh." She knew all about the pain of unrequited love. She'd spent years pining after Harry, desperately hoping he'd finally notice her. It had taken ages before he finally did.
Alicia took another draught of beer and sighed. "Yeah. She would have been fine if I'd come out while we were still in school—she was great when I finally did our first year out of Hogwarts—but I was so gone on her… I didn't want to risk that she'd look at me differently, you know? I didn't want her to analyse every touch, every look, wondering if it was gay, if I was in love with her. Because all those touches were totally gay, and I was stupid about her."
Alicia shrugged. "I got over it. We left Hogwarts, I got some space, signed with the Harpies. It was insane, how my world just seemed to explode outward." She quirked a smile. "I know it seems totally cliche, but suddenly there were all these options, clubs and pubs and meet-ups filled with women just like me." Her grin turned a little smug. "Fit as hell women who wanted me the way I wanted them."
Ginny didn't know why the thought of it all made her shiver. She cleared her throat, her mouth suddenly dry. "And Angelina?"
"Like I said, we're still mates," Alicia said, knicking a chip off Renee's plate as she flirted with a witch at the table next to theirs. "I distanced myself at first, needing the space to really move on, but we're all good now. You might know that she works at the Ministry in the Department of Magical Games and Sports, and thankfully she's just as Quidditch-mad as ever." Alicia smiled fondly. "She's great, but I'm not in love with her anymore. Honestly, I'm not sure if I ever really was. I don't really know how much of it was genuine, and how much was just me being a confused and lonely queer kid who latched on to the person closest to me because she was safe." Alicia's brow furrowed and she bit her lip. "I don't know if you remember much about me from Hogwarts but I was… less, than I am now."
"I knew I was different and it terrified me. I spent most of my time at Hogwarts trying to make myself invisible, blending in with the crowd, not standing out. The one exception to that was Quidditch—I loved it too much to give it up, even if it meant I'd sometimes be in the spotlight." The passion in her voice was undeniable, and Ginny recognised that fervour as the same one that lived in her own breast. "I'm so grateful to it now," Alicia continued. "Who knows how things might have played out if I hadn't signed with the Harpies. Seeing them, playing with them, having them take me under their wing… it gave me the confidence I needed to come out of my shell, to accept who I am and what I want." She nodded at Ginny. "As horrible as it sounds, the war actually helped with that too. Life's too short, too precious, to waste time hating yourself."
There was a heavy pause, before Ginny said, breathlessly, "Well, I think you're brilliant." Her cheeks flushed as she registered the embarrassing honesty of her words. She must be more pissed than she'd thought.
Alicia ducked her head, a light flush dusting the apples of her cheeks as she smiled softly, the look so much different from her usual confident grin. It made something stretch awake inside Ginny, a flower of yearning blooming deep inside. Ginny had always thought she knew exactly who she was, but lately she was less and less sure of it. She'd always liked men, had happily dated Dean and Michael, had been in love with Harry for as long as she could remember. Ginny hadn't ever been with a women, hadn't ever really thought of it, but she wondered if there was something she'd missed or overlooked. Because right now as she looked at Alicia, her lips shiny with liquid as she lowered her glass, Ginny was overcome with the urge to lean over and taste her, to find out if her lips would taste like beer or that cherry lip balm she loved so much, or something else entirely.
She was dizzy with it, drunk on cheap beer and Alicia's intoxicating presence.
Ginny woke up with a gasp, nipples hard and knickers damp, her entire body hot and feverish. She lay there panting for several moments before sliding out of bed, careful not to wake Harry as she made her way to the loo.
Once there, she splashed cool water on her face and neck, trying to settle the blazing heat within. She stared at her reflection in the mirror for ages, taking in the high flush of her cheeks, the wildness in her eyes. Her hands shook where she gripped the countertop, and she wanted to cry and scream as the conflicting emotions ran riot in her tummy.
That fucking dream.
It was Alicia, of course. These days, it always seemed to come back to Alicia. Her glossy dark brown hair, that wicked grin, the captivating ink covering the sensual curves of her body. Ginny didn't know what had got into her lately, wasn't sure how to put words to what was happening. All she knew was that sometimes Alicia would smile at her, and Ginny's entire being would light up like Lumos Maxima. Every time Alicia's hand touched Ginny's skin, Ginny felt like she couldn't breath through the sudden tightness in her chest.
Ginny wasn't an idiot, she knew what attraction felt like, but she'd never felt like that around a women before. She'd always admired them, had looked after the girls at Hogwarts with a kind of wistfulness that she'd always put down to wishing she could be more like them, that she fit in better with her female peers. Surely if it was something else, something more, she would have realised it before now? And did it really even matter, considering she was with Harry? Things might be rough between them at the moment, but they'd get through it eventually, right? They loved each other after all, even if sometimes a very small part of Ginny wondered if they were still in love. Just the whisper of the thought was enough to make Ginny's chest feel tight, and she quickly shoved it away, not yet ready to tug on that thread.
As if there wasn't enough confusion in her life, these bloody persistent dreams had been plaguing her nights, making it impossible to get a full night's rest. It was always her and Alicia together, going on the kind of bizarre, illogical adventures that only made sense in dreamland, or sometimes just sitting quietly together atop their brooms, drifting lazily through the air as the dream-sun warmed their faces and leafy treetops swayed in a light breeze.
Tonight's dream had been different though, the two of them sat close together on a large sofa in a dark, unfamiliar room lit only by candlelight. Already, the details had grown fuzzy, but Ginny's stomach still flipped with the memory of how she'd felt, her stomach somersaulting like she'd just done a fifty foot dive on her broom. Blurry images flashed through her head: Alicia's dark eyes and radiant smile, fingertips ghosting across her ribs, a soft weight pressing her back against the cushions. The dream was undeniably sensual… sexual.
That didn't have to mean anything. People dreamed about all kinds of stuff that they didn't necessarily want in real life. Alicia had quickly become one of Ginny's closest friends, somebody she cared for deeply. It wasn't so unusual that her subconscious might mistake that deep friendship for something less than platonic, especially considering that Ginny was well aware Alicia herself fancied women.
And maybe Ginny was starting to wonder if she wasn't a bit curious herself. If she wasn't a bit more than curious. But the time for that had already passed. She was with Harry now, the boy she'd wanted since she was eleven, the man she was supposed to grow old with, her endgame.
She had a job she loved, a new best mate who got her in a way nobody else ever had, and a loving boyfriend she planned to spend the rest of her life with.
Ginny had every single thing she'd ever thought she wanted.
That should be enough.
There was only one more week of training. One more week, and then the official Quidditch season would begin.
It was a little surreal, realising how quickly the time had passed, that soon the Harpies would be testing their mettle against the other teams in the league. She didn't feel entirely ready for it, but Ginny wouldn't really be doing the heavy lifting anyway, not this year at least. Unless the games ran long or there were several unexpected injuries, Ginny wasn't likely to get much pitch time this season. That fact had grated when she'd first been signed, but after weeks of training with the Harpies she now realised just how much room she still had to grow as an athlete. She was happy enough to be part of the team and to have the opportunity to learn from so many amazing and talented players. Ginny couldn't wait to see them all in action in a proper match.
"So what are we doing after this, Red?" Alicia asked with a grin as she ran a towel over her soaked hair, freshly wet from the showers. The team had just finished with their Saturday morning training session, and the two of them had got into the habit of spending the rest of the day together. Ginny was still flying high, her body flush with those gorgeous post-flying endorphins. She felt antsy and reckless, and she knew shopping or hanging about at a pub wasn't going to scratch that itch beneath her skin. And then her gaze fell onto the tattoo on Alicia's hip, an inky black equals sign that was just visible above her low-slung jeans.
"I want to get a tattoo," Ginny said abruptly, a little surprised by her sudden declaration.
Alicia's brows rose as she turned to face Ginny. "A tattoo, huh? I didn't know you'd been thinking about getting one."
Ginny's cheeks warmed and she shrugged. "Yeah, I've been wanting one for ages, but I keep chickening out. I just need to go for it. Today seems as good a time as any." She grinned conspiratorially at Alicia. "Know a good place I could go?"
Alicia laughed, her expression pleased and excited. "Abso-fucking-lutely. I know a great place off Diagon that does both magical and Muggle styles—it's where I got all of mine done. The witch I go to is usually booked for months, but she's a friend and owes me a favour, so I bet we could get you in today if you wanted." She looked at Ginny assessingly. "I'm assuming you have an idea of what you'd like to get?"
"That would be brilliant. And yeah," Ginny said quietly, a strange flutter in her belly. "I think I know what I want."
Alicia gave her a strange look, but it faded quickly, replaced with enthusiasm as she finished getting dressed. "Excellent! This is going to be great. There's nothing like the feeling of getting a tattoo. You're gonna love it, Red." She gave Ginny a once over that made Ginny's toes tingle. "We'll have you covered in ink before long."
Ginny let out a nervous laugh. "Maybe let's just get me the one first and then go from there."
"Fair enough. Let's stop by the owl room on our way out and send my mate a note to find out if she's got room for you. We can grab a bite while we wait."
They went to a new pizza place that Valen had raved about a few weeks back. The food definitely lived up to the hype, and when an owl swooped in from Alicia's friend telling them to stop by in an hour, it was the cherry on top of a perfect lunch. By the time they made their way over to the tattoo shop, Ginny's stomach was aflutter with nerves and exhilaration about what she was about to do.
The shop was warm and bright, but Ginny barely had a second to take in the atmosphere before of blur of black and pink flew at Alicia. Alicia laughed as she hugged a small witch with hot pink hair and a truly impressive collection of tattoos covering nearly every inch of her skin.
"Hiya, Braith," Alicia said with a laugh. "You miss me?"
"It's been ages since you've come in," Braith—who Ginny assumed was the tattoo artist Alicia had mentioned—scolded with a smile. "Finally letting me have another go at this gorgeous skin of yours?"
The apples of Alicia's cheeks flushed a delicate pink as she shook her head before directly her gaze at Ginny. "Nah, I'm here for this one." She nodded towards Ginny with a broad grin as she lowered her voice into a sly whisper. "She's a virgin."
Braith hummed thoughtfully before turning the full force of her gaze onto Ginny. She was all of five foot tall, but she had a forceful presence, and Ginny felt herself heating under her scrutiny. Apparently Braith liked whatever it was she saw in Ginny, because a moment later she was grinning broadly, holding a hand out for her to shake
"She'll do," Braith proclaimed loudly. For such a small woman, she really did manage to take up quite a lot of space. Ginny was impressed. "So, what are we doing today?"
Ginny explained what she wanted—a small talon on her inner arm just below her elbow—and Braith assured her it would be a piece of cake. She led Ginny and Alicia back to her workstation, setting Ginny up on the chair there before bustling about collecting her various instruments.
"Based on the tattoo and your friendship with Alicia here, I'm guessing you play Quidditch?" Braith asked.
"Yes, for the Harpies."
"Best team in the league," Alicia added.
Braith laughed. "Oh, have the Tornados given up their top spot, then?"
"Piss off," Alicia said with a faux glare. "The Tornados are going down this year."
"We'll see," Braith teased before turning back to Ginny. "I was asking because I'm assuming if you're a player that you'll be wanting a non-magical tattoo."
Ginny's brow furrowed. Alicia must have seen her confusion, because she quickly explained. "The League has a bunch of regulations about magical tattoos."
"There are many different uses for them," Braith added. "The magic beyond tattoos can be quite complex, but essentially the tattoos work as a continuous spell. The tattooing process allows them to tap directly into your magical core to sustain whatever magic they've been created to do. Most people stick with the basics—a moving, seemingly sentient, tattoo—but there are endless possibilities. I worked with an Auror once to create a tattoo that would warm up when an enemy was near."
Ginny's eyebrows rose. "Like a Foe-Glass?"
Braith grinned proudly. "Yes, a very similar concept, actually. Obviously there are limitations on what can be done, as a person's magical supply isn't infinite. Something complex like that takes a long time to perfect and would need to be signed off on by a Healer, but the more common charms can be done same day."
"So…." Ginny began thoughtfully. "You could use a magical tattoo to say, improve your aim or agility."
Braith clicked her tongue approvingly. "Exactly. The League monitors that kind of thing very closely, as I'm sure you can imagine. It's why you won't see many players with magical tattoos. Even if they're not designed to help performance, it's a hassle to get them cleared and most prefer not to deal with the hoop-jumping and suspicion."
"All of mine are static," Alicia added. "Though the second I retire I've got plans for some bitchin' new ink." She smirked at Braith. "Assuming you'll still be up for it."
"Just see if you manage not to scar up my canvas, and we'll be just fine," Braith said with a huff. "Now hush and let me see to Ginny here. You ready for this?" she asked as she pulled on a pair of latex gloves with a ominous snap.
Ginny's heart leapt up into her throat, but she nodded. Braith began to disinfect the area, explaining the next steps in a calm, straightforward manner that Ginny found strangely soothing. Briath did all of her work free-hand, but she'd drawn a concept sketch for Ginny to approve, and it had been exactly what she was looking for. She'd been admiring Alicia's tattoos for weeks, and she trusted Braith knew what she was doing, even if Ginny was a little nervous about what would come next. Especially when Braith whipped out a frankly terrifying-looking device and dipped it into a small well of black ink.
"Remember to breathe," Braith instructed as she lowered the tip to Ginny's skin.
She gasped at the first rush of pain, feeling momentarily moorless until a firm, strong hand slid into her own. Ginny turned her head, her heart thudding as she locked eyes with Alicia's steady gaze. Alicia squeezed her hand encouragingly, and Ginny squeezed back, letting Alicia's presence ground her as pain throbbed through her body. She was so glad Alicia was with her—Ginny couldn't think of anybody else she'd rather have by her side.
Ginny wasn't entirely sure how long the tattoo took—time seemed to lose all meaning when she was under the needle. The pain had been a constant pressure, ebbing and flowing like a tide inside her while she held tight to Alicia's hand. Something about it was strangely addictive, an almost soothing kind of catharsis rushing through her. Ginny felt high, a floaty sensation overtaking her body. It was utterly bizarre, but Ginny kind of loved it.
She loved it even more when Braith finally announced she was finished, revealing Ginny's brand new ink. It was perfect, everything she'd wanted and more. She stared, transfixed, as emotion squeezed at her throat and prickled at the corners of her eyes. The Harpies had come to mean so much to her, and it felt so right, having something she loved so fiercely branded on her skin.
"You were amazing, Red," Alicia murmured as Braith cleaned up her station. "I sobbed like a baby the first time I got tatted."
"I feel like I might cry now," Ginny admitted. "It's perfect."
"Yeah, it is," Alicia said quietly. There was something strange in her voice, but she quickly coughed and it was gone. "Tattooing's like that, though. It can leave you crazy emotional afterwards. It's that rush of endorphins from the pain."
"It was intense," Ginny agreed. She bit her lip before continuing. "I'm so glad you were here with me. It really helped."
Alicia smiled softly. "Of course, Red. Anytime."
The air between them was charged, sending the Snitches that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in Ginny's stomach into overdrive. She cleared her throat and looked away, desperate to defuse some of the tension inside that made her feel like she would explode.
"You might come to regret that," Ginny teased, keeping her voice light.
"You were right, I'm totally hooked," Ginny said with a grin. "Braith's definitely not seen the last of me."
Ginny had come to learn that the Harpies never turned down a good excuse for a party, and there was no better cause for a Quidditch team to celebrate than kicking off the official season.
This time the party was to be held at their manager Audra's house, and was open to friends and partners. When Ginny had told Harry about it, she'd expected he'd be happy to finally have a chance to actually meet all the people who'd been staring in Ginny's stories about her day for the past several months, but his response had been tepid at best. She knew he hated events where he didn't know most of the people, so she tried to shelve her irritation—it wasn't like he was going to be the star of the show here. Nobody on the Harpies gave a flying Flobberworm about Harry Potter, beyond being generally grateful for what he'd done for wizarding Britain and lamenting that he'd chosen to become an Auror instead of putting his Seeker skills to good professional use on the pitch. Quidditch was what the Harpies lived and breathed for, and they were more likely to fangirl over meeting the Firebolt designer than the Boy Who Lived.
Despite her best efforts to be understanding though, things were still strained between them when they showed up to Audra's house, fashionably late of course. Harry had wanted to go early—and leave early too—but Ginny didn't want to be the first one there like some pathetically over-eager newbie. Harry didn't understand why they couldn't show up at seven if that's when the party was supposedly starting, and if Ginny had to explain it one more time, she might actually explode. It didn't help matters that everything was still a little tense in the aftermath of their huge argument last week when Ginny came home with her impulsive tattoo.
He'd got into a bit of a snit when he'd seen it, and his reaction had promptly triggered Ginny's own temper. It was her body and she'd damn well do whatever she pleased with it! Harry had quickly backtracked, claiming to be more upset about the fact that he hadn't even known she'd been thinking about getting a tattoo in the first place, and he thought that was the kind of thing she should at least be sharing with her boyfriend. Ginny understood his point, to a degree, but it still chafed, the implication that he might have some sort of say in what she did with her body. Deep down, she knew that wasn't at the heart of Harry's frustration, that he was worried about the fact that Ginny was changing before his eyes and that he didn't understand who she was anymore. Ginny knew how he felt, and her own confusion and fear over what was happening between them had caused her to lash out right back at him. It had been a bitter fight, and though they'd since made their apologies and reconciled, Ginny couldn't help but feel like it was only a temporary truce. A part of her knew that there was so much left to address still bubbling beneath the surface, but for now both her and Harry seemed content to ignore it and pretend that everything was fine.
"Ginny, glad you could make it," Audra boomed merrily. She had a large stein of beer in her hand, and Ginny wondered how much of her wife's wares she'd already consumed that evening. Audra was generally good-natured, but she normally wasn't quite so bubbly.
"Wouldn't miss it," Ginny replied. "This is my boyfriend, Harry."
Audra nodded at him and held out a hand for Harry to shake. "Nice to meet you. Please make yourself at home. There's plenty of beer in the kitchen." She gestured towards the room just off the large living space.
"Err, thanks," Harry said with an awkward smile. "I've got Auror training first thing in the morning, so probably best if I don't indulge too much tonight." Audra's brows rose, but she shrugged. Ginny fought to keep her own smile in place. She knew he was trying but it wasn't as if Audra was telling him to get blackout drunk. If he'd ever paid attention to her stories, he'd know that Audra's wife owned the brewery providing said beer, and maybe he should just smile and nod at the offer instead of potentially offending their hostess.
"Well," Ginny said brightly. "Thankfully I have a kind and brilliant manager who had the foresight to give the team tomorrow off, so I'll definitely be helping myself."
Audra snorted, her lips twitching into a smile. "Don't think buttering me up is going to get you playing time a second before you're ready Ms Weasley."
Ginny grinned, not bothered at all by the implication that she wasn't ready now. It was only the truth, and she knew she'd get there eventually. She held up a hand to her chest in mock surprise. "I would never. But really though, I'm going to go grab a cup. And I'm sure once I get Harry to try a taste of Stella's stout he'll be singing a different tune about taking it easy tonight."
With that, she led Harry to the kitchen stopping to chat and introduce Harry to her teammates on the way. Harry practically radiated discomfort, and despite everyone's attempts to include him in conversation, it was quickly clear that he was a lost cause. The only one who managed to stick it out for any length of time was Shoko, and that was because she was the human embodiment of a ray of sunshine and talked enough to carry the conversation for her and Harry both. Ginny tried not to let it put a damper on her night. If he wanted to be difficult and refuse to engage in conversation, then it was his own damn fault if he was bored or uncomfortable. She did manage to convince him to try the stout, which he thankfully enjoyed, and she was glad that nursing his single cup of beer would at least give him something to focus on other than looking out of place at Ginny's side.
It didn't help Ginny's mood that she'd hardly had a chance to talk or hang out with Alicia at all so far. Alicia had come over to say hi to her and Harry, but had drifted away for too soon, likely put-off by Harry's sour demeanour. Alicia was in the corner now, talking intimately with some unfairly gorgeous Australian Broom Racer that was visiting one of the other Harpies and had tagged along to the party. The sight of Alicia leaning in flirtatiously, her smile coy and suggestive, made snakes writhe in Ginny's stomach, and she had to force her gaze away whenever it would wander Alicia's direction.
"I need to use the loo," Harry said quietly, giving Ginny the excuse she needed to stop staring at Alicia and the pretty blonde Broom Racer. "Where is it again?"
"Down the hall there, first door on the right," she said, turning her face to the side to dutifully accept his swift kiss to her cheek before he ambled towards the loo. Ginny hated how irritable she felt, how even a simple question from Harry had her clenching her jaw and forcing a smile.
Absently, she leaned against the wall and watched Hale, their starting Seeker, all but mount her boyfriend right there on the sofa in front of the entire party. They'd been all over each the entire night, and while normally that kind of ostentatious couple-ness would make Ginny roll her eyes, watching them now filled her with an undeniably envy. It wasn't that she wanted Harry to be all over her like that in public, but as she watched Hale attempt to eat her boyfriend's face off, it was impossible to deny that they had a passion that her and Harry no longer seem to possess. It filled her with a wistful kind of sadness as she wondered if they'd ever get that back, or if the cooldown was just an unavoidable part of long-term relationships. Ginny couldn't deny that Hale looked pretty fucking hot, undulating with abandon on top of her boyfriend's lap, and even through the yearning to have that herself, her skin began to flush as she watched. One of the bloke's hands slid into Hale's blonde hair, the other gripping her arse, and Ginny wondered it would feel like to touch soft curves and long, silky locks. Instinctively, her gaze seemed to seek out Alicia, and the squirmy feeling inside only intensified when she finally spotted her pressing that Broom Racer against the wall and leaning close.
Something hot and bitter flared inside her, and before Ginny had a chance to fully untangle the riot of emotions in her gut, she was making her way over to the corner.
"Alicia, hi!" Ginny said, her voice far too loud and enthusiastic. She suppressed a wince as Alicia turned to face her, her expression bemused. At least she was no longer tangled up with the hot Australian.
"Hi Ginny," Alicia said slowly. "What's up?"
Ginny bit her bottom lip, her heart racing when it seemed like Alicia's eyes flicked down to her mouth. "Just wanted to say hello again. We haven't seen much of each other tonight." Hot Broom Racer didn't seem to be going anywhere, so Ginny flicked a dismissive glance her way. "Who's your friend?" A strange expression Ginny couldn't quite decipher crossed Alicia's face.
"I'm Samantha," Hot Broom Racer said in an accent that Ginny reluctantly admitted was sexy as hell. The sly amusement in her voice was less sexy, and had Ginny's hackles rising. "I'm currently visiting Andréa from Australia and she invited me along."
"Ahh," Ginny said blandly. "That's nice."
Alicia gave her a sharp glance—apparently Ginny's tone hadn't been quite bland enough.
"Ginny," Alicia said tightly. "Can I speak to you privately for a moment?"
Ginny's belly flipped—with nerves or excitement she wasn't quite sure—and she nodded. "Yeah, 'course."
"Come and find me when you're done," Samantha called after Alicia suggestively. Ginny clenched her jaw.
"What the hell is up with you?" Alicia asked when they were finally alone. Ginny looked around the room Alicia had dragged them off to—it must have been Audra's study.
"What do you mean?"
Alicia rolled her eyes. "Don't play dumb with me, Red, it's beneath you. You've been acting weird all night and you were pretty fucking rude to Samantha."
"Samantha," Ginny said, her voice scathing. "What the hell is so special about her? Broom racing isn't even a real sport!"
"Is that what this is about?" Alicia said, looking momentarily surprised before her eyes narrowed and her body grew tense. "Oh no you don't. I'm not going through this again. We're mates—"
"Best mates," Ginny interrupted, her skin heating as soon as the words left her mouth.
Alicia huffed but her lips momentarily quirked into a smile. "Best mates," she corrected before her face turned stern again. She pressed a hard finger to Ginny's chest. "But that doesn't mean you own me, and you certainly don't get a say in who I go home with."
Ginny's heart felt like she'd just done a free fall off her broom. "You're going home with her?" she asked, her voice small.
Alicia groaned, rolling her eyes upward as if praying for strength. "I like you, Red. I like you a whole hell of a lot," she let out a self-deprecating chuckle before continuing, "More than I probably should." Ginny felt a little dizzy, her body swaying instinctively towards Alicia. Alicia's eyes widened and she wrapped her hands around Ginny's shoulders, keeping her at arm's length. "But I'm not going through this again," Alicia said firmly. "I've already done the whole fall in love with my straight best friend thing and it fucking sucks. So get it together. I'm not going to be your experiment."
Ginny blinked slowly. Alicia was so close she could smell the intoxicating scent of Alicia's spicy perfume, could see that small beauty mark beneath her right lash line that always drew Ginny's gaze. Ginny's pulse raced faster than a Firebolt at full speed, and her lips tingled with urgent need. Alicia's lips were painted a deep red, and Ginny wondered what the lipstick would feel like against her own mouth, what the waxy slickness would look like smearing against her skin.
"What if I'm not straight?" Ginny whispered, her eyes opening wide when she registered her words. The both of them froze, their eyes locked together, while Ginny's heart attempted to restart itself. She'd never—she hadn't been sure—but then again…. It was the first time she'd ever said it aloud, the first time she'd ever even allowed herself to follow the train of thoughts that had been bouncing around inside her for ages now through to the very end. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and now that the words were out there in the world, Ginny couldn't deny the truth of them.
She wasn't straight.
Honestly, she still wasn't entirely sure what she was, but she knew what the feelings for Alicia that had been blooming insider her meant.
Ginny wanted Alicia.
Ginny wanted Alicia with an intensity she couldn't ever remember feeling. It was new and exciting and so fucking right. Alicia made her feel alive, made her feel known, and all Ginny wanted in this moment was to press herself against the muscled curves of Alicia's body while she found out what her mouth tasted like.
Alicia growled, and then Ginny was pushed back up against the office door, Alicia's hands wrapped around her wrists as she pressed them against the wall by Ginny's head. She stepped in close, her full chest nudging against Ginny's more modest bosom, yielding roundness where Ginny was used to flat muscle. Her face was just inches away, Alicia's eyes boring into her so intensely, Ginny was sure Alicia could see her very soul. Hot breath wafted against her face, burnt sugar and liquor from the Firewhisky and caramel corn that had been on offer all evening. Ginny felt herself arching against the hold, trying to press herself closer, hungry for the press of Alicia's lips. Alicia's eyes went heavy-lidded and dark, and Ginny got hot all over, her body racked with tender shivers at the devouring promise in Alicia's eyes. Had anybody ever looked at her like that before? She'd had several boyfriends, but she wasn't sure if any of them had ever looked at her like she was the hottest fucking thing they'd ever seen, like there was nothing more in the world they wanted to do than throw her against a wall and fuck her until she screamed.
Ginny made a small, wanting sound, and apparently it was enough to break Alicia out of whatever spell had ensnared them both. With a muttered curse she practically threw herself off of Ginny, staring at her with wide, furious eyes as Ginny slowly brought her hands down from the wall.
"I thought you were going to kiss me," Ginny said softly. Her lips tingled with the memory of how close Alicia's mouth had been.
"I almost did." Alicia's voice was low and rough.
"Why didn't you?"
Alicia scoffed, her expression twisting into something sour that didn't suit her at all. "Because you're fucking taken, Red. You've got a boyfriend, and Harry's a good dude. I'm not going to fuck him over because you're feeling a little curious."
"I—" Ginny's chest constricted and her breathing grew laboured. Harry. How had she forgot about Harry? He was out there in the party somewhere, miserable and annoyed, probably wondering where the hell his girlfriend had run off to. Yet even with everything so messed up between them, she knew he'd never for a second suspect this, never think for a moment that Ginny was locked away with somebody else, desperate for them to touch her.
She felt ill.
She still wanted to kiss Alicia.
"Yeah, exactly." Alicia sighed and ran a hand over her face. "I get that you're under a lot of stress right now, and that can make people do some pretty insane things. So why don't you go back to your boyfriend, and we'll pretend this never happened, okay?"
"But—" Ginny didn't know what she wanted, but she did know she didn't want to go back to pretending. Now that her feelings for Alicia had spilled out of her, she wasn't sure she could shove them back in.
Alicia smiled tiredly at her; it didn't reach her eyes. "I'll see you at training on Monday, okay?"
With that, she was gone, leaving Ginny to stare after her helplessly as the fissures in her world grew steadily wider.
"There you are." Ginny blinked. Harry was in the door to the study, frustration and relief swimming in his bright-green gaze. "Alicia said I could find you back here. I've been looking for you for ages."
"Yeah, sorry," Ginny said blankly. "Lost track of time."
"Do you think you might be willing to head out soon?" Harry asked hopefully. "It's just—"
"Yes, let's go," Ginny said, cutting him off. "I'm ready to leave now."
She felt shaky and unsteady and completely unprepared to keep socialising with her rowdy team. What if Samantha was still out there? What if Alicia decided to go home with her after all? Ginny swayed, sickening jealousy cramping her stomach.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked, rushing to her side as she stumbled.
"I'm fine," she lied. "Just tired."
He took her arm, and she followed him to Audra's Floo in a daze, stepping through to their flat in a flare of green flame. She wasn't even sure if they'd said goodbye to the hostesses but she couldn't bring herself to care; she'd give her apologies to Audra on Monday if needed.
As had become habit over the past several months when the both of them were home, her and Harry got ready for bed together silently. They shared space easily, comfortably, but there was still a tension simmering between them, a build-up of all the words left unsaid, of Ginny's most recent revelation. There was a storm on the horizon, Ginny felt it in her bones, but she was finally getting to a point where she felt like maybe she could weather it. Harry met her gaze in the mirror and smiled.
Ginny smiled back and wondered when Harry's grin stopped making her stomach flip.
Harry left early the next morning for Auror training, telling Ginny as he raced out the door not to expect him back until late. He was vague about why, and Ginny had a feeling it was less to do with him having a late session and more to do with him going out afterwards. It wasn't as if Ginny hadn't done the same thing numerous times since her own training had started, but something about it still rankled. Perhaps it was the fact that they'd somehow got to the point where neither of them felt they could be entirely honest with one another. Or perhaps it was because she was certain Harry would be spending the evening with Malfoy, who Ginny thought was on an entirely different level than Ginny's friendships with her teammates. None of the Harpies had been the cause for Bill's disfigurement or Ron's near-death. And even though she knew it wasn't Draco, but his father, who'd given her that diary in first year… well, she didn't think it was entirely unreasonable if some of her resentment fell on his shoulders.
It had been ages since Ginny had a full day to herself, one without training, or Harry, or familial obligations. The couple of times she had had a day free, she'd spent it hanging out with Alicia. Absently, she ran her fingers over the pitch-black talon tattooed along her inner arm, the turmoil and confusion turning sour in her stomach. A part of her wanted to owl Alicia and see if she wanted to meet up, but she'd seemed quite firm about seeing Ginny at Monday's training, and Ginny frankly wasn't sure if she was ready to face Alicia just yet.
Her fingertips made their way up to her lips and the heat inside her flared as she thought about the kiss that almost was. Embarrassment and shame battled with longing and desire in her gut, a chaotic cacophony of emotion that made Ginny's head spin. She found herself suddenly grateful for the empty expanse of the day ahead, just her and a flat that had been neglected for far too long between her and Harry's hectic schedules. She'd never particularly enjoyed cleaning, but she found that it often helped settle her, and right that moment, Ginny could definitely use some soothing. There were decisions that needed to be made, ones that Ginny had been putting off for far too long now.
It was time for her to start acting like an adult and confront her problems.
Several hours later their flat was spotless. Metal fixtures sparkled in the lamplight, wooden tables reflected a fresh glossy shine, and even the air smelled crisp and clean. Exhausted, Ginny poured herself a generous glass of white wine and collapsed on the dark sofa Harry had brought over from Grimmauld Place. She'd always hated the ugly thing, but she'd been the one to insist on them getting a flat if they were going to move in together, and with both of them being on trainee salaries, they hadn't had much money leftover for furniture. The sofa worked well enough, especially considering neither of them were home all that often. Her heart clenched, and she took a gulp of wine.
She was fairly certain one of them was about to be around even less.
The clock on the wall read eight twenty-two, and she wondered how much longer Harry would be. He'd said he'd be back late, but how late? Would she be doing this tonight, or would it have to wait until morning? Her stomach frothed unpleasantly at the thought, and she set down her glass of wine. Drinking on a mostly empty stomach probably hadn't been her smartest move, but the thought of eating right now sent a bolt of nausea right through her. It had her questioning all the decisions she'd just made, had her wondering if she was about to make a huge mistake. She'd always thought she'd end up with Harry, that they'd grow old together in a little cottage in the country surrounded by children and perhaps a Crup or two. But that was an old dream, so old that Ginny hadn't even realised she'd outgrown it, that she no longer wanted the same things her eleven-year-old self had fantasised about. She much preferred the city to the country, wasn't even sure she wanted children at all, and though she still liked the idea of growing old with somebody… Harry was no longer the person she saw at her side.
How long had it been since her and Harry had truly spent time together, just the two of them, perfectly content in one another's company? Long enough that she couldn't remember it, that she couldn't even remember the feeling of being hopelessly smitten with Harry, the way she was certain she must have felt around him, at least at the beginning. Sitting here alone with only her half-drunk glass of wine for company, Ginny's body and soul yearned for Alicia, an almost physical ache that made her want to know where Alicia was right that moment, what she was doing, if she was thinking of Ginny.
Ginny didn't miss Harry at all.
Or, well, she did miss Harry, just not the way she probably should, not as a lover and a life partner. She missed having him as one of her best friends, missed his wry humour and compassion. Lately their relationship was all too-long silences and suppressed feelings, making it all too easy for Ginny to forget all the wonderful things about Harry that had her falling for him in the first place. The sad truth of the matter was that somehow they'd grown apart, that they no longer fit together they way they used to.
Ginny knew that she loved Harry. He'd been such a big part of her life for so long, and he was always going to be a part of her. No matter what, she'd always want him in her life, and she'd never regret their time together and the things she'd learned about life and herself while she was with him. But sitting alone in the flat they shared together, the place where they'd planned on really starting their new life as a couple, she had to face the stark truth.
She was no longer in love with him.
Harry was safety and security, and with him she could live an easy, comfortable life, the kind of life that was expected. But the last few months had opened Ginny's eyes, had shown her that she didn't want that kind of future for herself. She wanted action and adventure, wanted every moment to feel the way she felt when she was up on her broom in the air about to make the perfect pass. Ginny wanted her stomach to flip when the person she loved smiled at her, wanted to be with somebody who understood her on that fundamental level that she didn't think Harry ever would.
It wasn't just about her, either. She didn't know what to expect from the conversation she was dreading, but her confidence in her decision grew with the knowledge that deep down, she was certain Harry was having his own doubts. Maybe not about the same things, but she hadn't been the only one snapping and pulling away, wasn't the only person who was keeping secrets, who perhaps felt misunderstood. He'd been growing closer to Malfoy ever since their trainee partnership had been announced, and despite Ginny's best efforts, she just couldn't understand it. Malfoy had done more terrible shit to Harry than just about anybody else, and she didn't get how he could just forgive it all, how he could call him Draco with a fond, wry smile, how he could grabs beers with him after training and tell Ginny that he's not so much of a git these days, really. She knew she hadn't been able to hide her disapproval, just like he hadn't been able to hide his lack of interest in her teammates, and she was perfectly aware that the fact that their conversations of late had been Malfoy-free didn't mean that Harry had changed his mind about him. Like Ginny, Harry was keeping bits of himself locked away from her, unwilling to push an issue they couldn't seem to agree on. Both of them deserved better. They deserved to find people who loved and accepted every part of them. Ginny loved Harry so bloody much, but she no longer thought he was the person she was meant to be with. It hurt, it really fucking hurt, but there was a catharsis in finally admitting it. Their relationship had been a gaping wound for awhile now, slowly hemorrhaging as they grew weaker and tried to ignore the bloodloss. Now that she'd finally acknowledging the problem, she could work on healing.
They both could.
The Floo flared green, and Harry's familiar form tumbled through. He was still smiling as he straightened, and a pang went through her when the smile faltered and become tentative and brittle when his gaze landed on Ginny.
"Ginny?" His tone was wary, as if something in her expression told him that he wasn't going to like what was about to happen.
"Hi, Harry." She took a deep breath, and gave him a smile smile. "I think we need to talk."
Yes, it was time to start healing.
But first, she had a boyfriend to break up with.
It was the first match of the season, and Ginny felt ready for it—these days, Quidditch was pretty much the only thing she felt truly prepared to handle. It had been nearly two weeks since her and Harry had split up, and she wasn't too proud to say that she'd been a bit of a mess. Harry had been ultimately understanding, and she knew he'd fully come around eventually, but in the meantime, he hadn't been able to hide his hurt, and between that and her own sense of loss over their relationship, Ginny had felt more than a bit shit. She'd offered to move back to the Burrow since she was the one who'd initiated the break-up but Harry, ever the gentleman, had claimed that was unnecessary seeing as how he had a perfectly livable house to move into with Grimmauld Place. She felt guilty about that too, about the fact that she'd broken up with him and essentially kicked him out, but she was grateful that she didn't have to move back in with her parents. She loved them, but the last thing she needed right now was them smothering her with concern and questions. They were almost more upset over the break-up than she was, mourning the loss of the chance to officially welcome their honorary son into the family.
What made matters even worse was that she'd barely spoken to Alicia in all that time either. Sure, they talked at training, and Alicia seemed friendly enough, but Ginny didn't think she was imagining the new distance between them. All Ginny wanted to do was knock it down and pull Alicia close, tell her everything that had happened since Audra's party, but for some reason every time she tried to say the words they got caught in her throat. There was something brewing between them, something big, and Ginny was aware that she'd only get one chance at it, that she needed to be sure. Alicia had become her closest friend, and Ginny knew that if she decided that was all they should be, that they would be able to slip back into those familiar roles, that she could keep her best mate. The problem was that Ginny was fairly certain that she wanted more, and she wasn't entirely sure that Alicia felt the same. There had been that moment in Audra's study, but that didn't mean that, when it came down to it, Alicia wanted Ginny for real. The thought of putting herself out there only to be rejected made her feel ill, and after Alicia's accusations of Ginny being confused, Ginny didn't know if Alicia would even take her seriously. She was just coming out of a serious relationship after all, was just realising that she wasn't as straight as she'd always assumed. The last thing Ginny wanted was for Alicia to think she was just some kind of rebound. Alicia was so much more than that. What if Ginny made a move and their friendship never recovered? Was it better having Alicia as a best mate, even if it meant they never had more?
Want and indecision battled in her gut as she pulled on her Quidditch leathers, trying hard not to stare at Alicia who was suiting up next to her. The atmosphere in the changing room was anticipatory and intense as over two dozen women prepared themselves for the match against the Bats. That was what was important right now, not the hurt confusion on Harry's face when she'd confessed she'd started falling for somebody else, not the army of Snitches that had taken up permanent residence in her stomach, always ready to flutter whenever Alicia so much as looked her way. She just had to take things one day at a time, starting with that afternoon's match.
"Are you nervous?" Alicia whispered to her as they prepared to line up and go out onto the pitch. Ginny's stomach clenched and she gave Alicia a weak smile.
"That obvious?" It was ridiculous, really. Ginny would be lucky if she got any playing time at all as a reserve in the first match of the season.
Alicia flashed her a warm smile and rubbed a comforting hand along Ginny's shoulder, raising gooseflesh over Ginny's exposed arms. "It's your first game. It'd be strange if you weren't nervous."
"Right, yeah," Ginny breathed, half-giddy from the fact that Alicia had said more to her just now than she had in the past two weeks combined. "Good luck out there," she added. Unlike Ginny, Alicia would be starting in the game. "You're going to be amazing."
Alicia hesitated. She opened her mouth as if to say something before closing it again and shaking her head. She gave Ginny another smile, this one a little more strained. "Thanks, Red."
With that, she slipped away towards her place at the front of the line-up, before the doors to the changing rooms opened and the roar of the crowd rushed in, welcoming them out onto the pitch.
The Bats had a reputation for foul-play and they'd apparently decided to start the season by going for the Harpies hard. The Harpies were never ones to back down from a challenge, and the resulting game was brutal and bloody—literally; a Bludger smashed into Renee's left hand an hour into the game just as she grabbed the Quaffle, mangling her fingers in a way that made Ginny feel faint. Thankfully the Healers would be able to completely restore it, but it would take several hours for the Skele-Gro to kick in, which meant the Harpies needed to call in one of the reserves. Ginny figured they'd go with Morgan or Butler, seeing as they both had seniority, but to Ginny's shock and jubilation, Audra gruffly ordered her onto the pitch instead. Her stomach did its level best to twist itself into a pretzel as she walked to the centre of the field, but the second she straddled her broom and kicked up into the sky, that familiar sense of calm she always felt in the air stole over her. Grinning, she locked eyes with Alicia who was staring at her with a fierce mixture of pride, satisfaction, and something hotter that made Ginny clench the broom between her thighs a bit tighter. Alicia raised a brow and mouthed, "You ready?" Ginny laughed.
Her and Alicia played together beautifully, reaching the kind of synchronicity they'd perfected in their one-on-one training sessions. Honestly, all the Harpies out on the field melded together like a perfectly brewed potion, every ingredient exact and precise to create something magical and greater than the sum of its parts.
Alicia had just executed a perfect Reverse Pass to Ginny when Hale finally caught the Snitch. Ginny blinked, still holding the Quaffle, as the fact that they had won, they had won, finally sunk in. She joined the rest of the team on the ground as they slapped Hale on the back and exchanged congratulations. Her gaze caught Alicia's, and she was aware she was new at this, but she didn't think she was imagining the want sparkling in Alicia's eyes as Alicia pulled her in for a hug. Alicia pulled away far too soon, leaving Ginny bereft and aching as she watched Alicia throw her arm around Hale's shoulders.
Merlin, Ginny wanted to kiss her.
Before she had a chance to linger too long in that thought, Shoko was bouncing up to Ginny and crushing her into an enthusiastic and surprisingly strong hug, debriefing the game at her unusual mile-a-minute pace. Ginny had just managed to untangle herself from Shoko's excitement, when the crowds from the stands began spilling onto the field. She was quickly surrounded by a sea of ginger, her mum chattering on about how proud she was of Ginny while George spun her around in his arms. Even Harry was there, lingering awkwardly along the edge of the crowd.
"It was a great game, Gin. You were brilliant out there," he said quietly, his tone rough, but genuine. It made her chest ache that even though things weren't great between them right now, he'd still come to support her in her first game. She couldn't speak through the sudden tightness in her throat, so she drew him into a fierce hug instead, giving herself a moment to ground herself in his familiar scent. He hugged her back just as tightly, pressing a kiss against her temple as they pulled away, both their eyes a little damp while their family pretended not to notice.
She looked up then, her gaze locking on Alicia's, who was staring at her with dark, inscrutable eyes. There was something in that look, something that made Ginny want to know what Alicia thought she'd just witnessed between her and Harry. Ginny still hadn't had a chance to tell her about the break-up and the papers hadn't yet caught wind, so for all Alicia knew, they were still together. She wondered if it would make a difference to Alicia if she knew that they weren't. Ginny was always wondering about Alicia, always thinking about her, dreaming about her, wishing she were near. Did Alicia feel the same way about her?
They'd been so in sync during the game. It was as if they were operating on the exact same frequency, and Alicia always seemed to know precisely where Ginny would be a second before she got there. It only reinforced how much Alicia clearly understood Ginny, how well she knew her. It wasn't one sided. Ginny knew Alicia in turn, as if they'd been friends for Ginny's entire life instead of only a couple of months. Meeting Alicia had turned Ginny's entire world upside down, causing Ginny to reevaluate everything she thought she knew: what she wanted to do with her life, who she wanted to be with, her budding attraction to a woman, to Alicia. Ginny was tired of turning a blind eye to her desire, tired of pretending she didn't know exactly what, exactly who she wanted by her side. Maybe it would all go horribly, spectacularly wrong, but nothing good in life ever happened by playing it safe, and Ginny thought it could be brilliant, thought they could be brilliant. Together.
Ginny squared off her shoulders as resolve swept through her.
It was time to stop wondering and start acting.
Ginny's pulse raced as she made her way down the dimly-lit hallway to Alicia's flat. She didn't even know if Alicia would be home or, more likely, out celebrating today's win with the rest of the Harpies. Ginny probably should have waited until tomorrow to be safe, but she was sick and tired of putting things off, and part of her was worried if she didn't do it now while she was still riding high on post-win adrenaline and euphoria, she'd lose her nerve entirely.
She was barely holding on to her determination as it was, and she wiped her sweaty palms on her combat trousers as she paused in front of Alicia's door. Her fingertips caught on one of the many pockets and she looked down at herself in sudden dismay. Perhaps she should just pop back home and change into something a little nicer, first. Combat trousers and a plain black T-shirt were hardly the sexiest of clothing choices. Merlin, she was an idiot. Alicia would take one look at her and run for the hills, if she was even home in the first place. Or, what if she was home, but she wasn't alone? Ginny's stomach roiled and she wrapped her arms around her middle in an attempt to stave off the incoming panic. What the hell was Ginny thinking? This was mad, insanity, Alicia would never—
The door to Alicia's flat swung open.
Alicia was there, dressed in a pair of black running shorts and a sports bra, miles of tanned skin on proud display. Ginny swallowed audibly as she took her in, the gorgeous tattoos running up her arms, the soft waves of her rich brown hair—now edged with Harpy green—falling about her shoulders. The tight sports bra clung to her ample chest, the rings through her nipples slightly distending the fabric. Alicia cleared her throat, and Ginny tore her gaze away, her cheeks hot.
"You're home," Ginny said, cursing herself for her stupidity as soon as the obvious words left her mouth.
Alicia's eyebrows rose. "Did you think I wouldn't be?"
Ginny shrugged. "Thought you might be out celebrating. How'd you know I was out here?"
"Wasn't feeling up for it," Alicia said softly. "And my wards extend out a bit past my door. I started to wonder what was going on when they kept pinging but nobody knocked."
Ginny's eyes began to wander once again as Alicia spoke, down to Alicia's hips where her shorts hung low, revealing the edge of her equals sign tattoo. Ginny wanted to pull the fabric away entirely, wanted to run her lips along the sharp edge of the black ink.
"Stop staring," Alicia snapped, pulling Ginny's gaze guiltily away. She met Alicia's stare, wincing at the ferocity there. "Nothing's changed, Red, which means you don't get to look at me like that."
"About that…." Ginny trailed off and cleared her throat. "Can I—can I come in?" She really didn't want to do this out in the hallway.
Alicia stared at her impassively for several long moments before stepping aside and swinging her door fully open. Ginny gratefully scurried inside, jumping slightly at the sudden slam of the door behind her. Fantastic. This was already going so well.
They stood there in the entryway staring at each other, Ginny's heart galloping like a herd of runaway Abraxans. She wondered if Alicia could hear it. How couldn't she, when the sound of it reverberated in Ginny's ears, audible even over the dizzying rush of blood to her head? Alicia was the one to finally break the silence, her expression creased with weariness.
"I broke up with Harry!" Ginny blurted out, cutting off whatever it was that Alicia had been about to say.
Alicia froze, her eyes going wide as she stared at Ginny in shock. Whatever she'd thought Ginny had come over to say, it clearly hadn't been that. "You what?"
"I, erm—" Ginny looked down at the worn carpet and scratched the back of her head. "I broke up with Harry. A couple of weeks ago—not long after that party, actually." She looked up at Alicia, reaching for her bravery. "The one where you almost kissed me."
"I didn't kiss you though," Alicia said faintly.
"No." She paused. "But I really fucking wanted you to." I still want you to.
Alicia sucked in a breath, shifting her weight from one foot to another the way she did when she was unsure or nervous. The sight of it made hope bloom in Ginny's stomach.
"Ginny, that's… that's massive. I—are you okay?"
Ginny shook her head impatiently. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." She sighed, running a hand through her long hair, thinking absently that she really ought to finally cut it short like she'd always wanted. "I mean, I won't pretend it wasn't hard and that I don't miss him, but it was the right decision. Neither of us were really happy with each other anymore. He wasn't it for me. I want something different."
"Ginny… why did you come here?" That same warning tone again, the one that made Ginny's stomach cramp with anxiety. She knew what Alicia was going to say, something about being smart and cautious, about not being too hasty. Ginny had already heard it all before, had been using the same arguments on herself ever since the break-up. She was perfectly aware it hadn't been long since her and Harry had split, that she'd only just started processing her attraction to women in general and Alicia more specifically. But what the hell good was waiting going to do? Ginny knew her own mind, she knew what she wanted, and she'd already wasted weeks, months, pretending otherwise. She didn't want to waste any more time.
"I want you," Ginny said simply. "I want you so badly I can barely stand it. My heart races whenever you brush against me, my stomach flips whenever you smile." Ginny took a step closer, gratified when Alicia didn't back away. "I think about you all the time, I dream about you. Everything seems so much fucking better whenever you're around." Another step, bringing them close enough to touch, and oh how badly Ginny wanted to touch. "I know I'm new at this, that it took me awhile to figure it out, but you've awoken something inside me, and I bloody like it. I like who I am with you, I like that you understand me, that you support me. I just—" She sighed and broke off, her cheeks heating at how earnest she was being, at the vulnerability of laying it all out on the line. "I think you're awesome, Alicia. And maybe… maybe we could be awesome together. If you—" She cleared her throat, hands trembling at her sides as her voice caught. "If you want me too?"
"Fuck," Alicia whispered. "Fuck."
"I'd like to," Ginny said with far more bravado than she felt.
That brought a grin to Alicia's face, and she was still smiling when she pulled Ginny in for a kiss.
Ginny's entire being lit up as their lips met, technicolour flashes going off behind her eyelids as she sank into the blissful feeling of Alicia's body pressed to hers. The entire world could catch fire around her and Ginny wouldn't even notice, too wrapped up in the way Alicia smelled, the way she tasted, the skillful flick of her tongue as it prised open Ginny's lips. Soft, strong hands slid into Ginny's hair, around her hip, and Ginny's stomach rolled over and over and over in an infinite loop of exhilaration. It took several seconds for it to sink in that Ginny was allowed to touch as well, and she reached out greedily, running her palms over muscled biceps and a soft waist, tangled fingertips in hair that was long and silky-smooth. It was different than with Harry, the way their bodies slotted together, but Ginny liked it, liked swell of Alicia's breasts and the width of Alicia's hips lined up against her own. There was a sturdy, compact strength about her, all wrapped up in sensual curves that made Ginny's mouth water. Her body was so much different from Ginny's own lean frame and Ginny felt a flash of self-consciousness as Alicia's fingertips slid teasingly beneath the hem of her shirt. She did her best to shake it off. Ginny knew men had always found her attractive enough, and Alicia certainly seemed keen. Besides, it wasn't as if she hadn't already seen Ginny naked plenty in the changing room—Alicia knew exactly what she was getting and, incredibly, seemed to want it just as much as Ginny did.
"Bedroom?" Ginny asked, briefly tearing herself away from Alicia's mouth before diving right back in again. Now that she'd started, she wasn't sure she'd ever want to stop.
Alicia slid her hands firmly to Ginny's hips as she leaned her face back, keeping their lower bodies in contact as she broke their kiss. Ginny pouted and Alicia grinned. "You sure? I know this is all new to you. Maybe we should… talk first."
Thankfully, Alicia seemed just as enthused about the idea of tabling their activities for talking as Ginny was.
"Fuck that," Ginny growled. "We're Gryffindors. Leap first, talk later."
Alicia laughed. "Works for me. I've been dreaming of getting your kit off for months."
Ginny flushed as Alicia pulled her to the bedroom, belly flipping over the fact that she hadn't been the only one who'd felt it, this connection between them that shone brighter than a Golden Snitch fresh out of the shop. She watched with eager, bated breath as Alicia turned and flashed her a coy smile as she backed up slowly towards her bed. Eyes smouldering, Alicia crossed her arms and slid her fingertips beneath her sports bra, before tugging it up and off with a flourish. Her breasts bounced, full and heavy, piercings glinting in the lamplight. Ginny's mouth went dry as all the moisture in her body apparently headed south.
"Fuck, Alicia. You look…."
"I definitely need to keep you around, Red," Alicia said, grinning. "You're good for my ego."
"You don't need me for that," Ginny murmured as she moved closer. "But you should keep me around anyway."
"I like the sound of that," Alicia whispered against Ginny's lips, pulling her in for another toe-curling kiss. Nimble fingers tugged at the hem of Ginny's shirt as Alicia made an inquiring noise into the kiss. Ginny nodded her ascent, raising up her arms and pulling away from Alicia's lips just long enough for Alicia to tug her T-shirt off. Given her more modest assets and her utter loathing for underwire, Ginny often went without a bra entirely, and it was well worth it for the flash of hungry appreciation in Alicia's eyes as she looked her over. Ginny liked it, but she liked kissing Alicia more, so she didn't give her long to admire before pulling her in for another snog.
It turned out, kissing Alicia was even better with both their shirts off. Alicia's skin was soft as a Pygmy Puff and fire-hot as it rubbed against her, a stark contrast to the cool metal of Alicia's piercings. Ginny's nipples rubbed and caught against Alicia's own, sending little zings of pleasure straight to her groin. Fuck, it felt brilliant, felt even better when a confident hand reached up to fondle her, a calloused thumb circling one of the raised nubs. Ginny's moan was almost pornographic and she had to clench her thighs together against the sudden tide of lust that flooded out from her core. She wanted to throw Alicia down against the bed and rub up against her, wanted to beg Alicia to show her all the ways they could get each other off. Alicia had barely touched her and Ginny could feel her knickers were already half-soaked with her arousal. She wondered if Alicia's were as well.
She wanted to find out.
"Come on, come on," Ginny panted. "Bed."
Alicia pulled back, looking similarly wrecked. She shook her head as if to clear it and ran her thumb along the swell of Ginny's bottom lip. Ginny reached out to lick at it, the salt of Alicia's skin blooming on her tongue. Alicia groaned. "Like I said. Really good for my ego."
With that she collapsed against the bed, scooting back until she was splayed out against her golden coverlet. She crooked a finger, beckoning Ginny closer, and Ginny eagerly complied, scrambling onto the bed like an over-eager Crup desperate to please its master. Her cunt throbbed at the thought and Ginny blinked, filing the surprisingly enticing image away for later. Best to focus on one thing at a time.
Every time they did something new it was even more amazing than before, and getting horizontal together was no different. Ginny straddled Alicia's broad thighs and took a moment to drink her in, her body thrilling at the pure heat of Alicia's body radiating through their still-clothed lower halves. Alicia was just so fucking gorgeous, all luminous tanned skin and bedroom eyes and wicked grin. Her tits were fantastic, made more sensual with the knowledge that Ginny was allowed to reach out and touch, that she could drag her fingertips over the metal hoops threaded through dark mauve nipples. That was exactly was she did, tracing over Alicia's stomach and rib cage, up over the swell of her breasts to caress the wrinkled nubs. Alicia's gaze darkened as Ginny tugged lightly at the rings, and she moaned when Ginny leaned down to run her tongue over them instead.
"You really don't do anything by halves, do you?" Alicia gasped, her fingers sliding through Ginny's hair as she arched up into the press of Ginny's eager mouth. Ginny hummed against Alicia's nipple, sliding a tongue through the hoop and pulling, delighting in Alicia's pleased moan. The fingers in her hair tightened, not hard enough to hurt, but just enough to ease her off of Alicia's tit and up towards her mouth. She went with only a small pang of regret—there'd be plenty of time for Ginny to worship Alicia's magnificent chest later.
They kissed for what felt like ages, until Ginny's lips got tender and swollen and there was nothing left in Ginny's mind but Alicia and want. Desire was a steady pulse within her as she undulated on top of Alicia. The seam of her trousers provided a firm line of friction up against her clit as she ground down against Alicia, but it was an inconsistent pressure, not enough to send her over the edge. She made a frustrated, whining sound against Alicia's lips as she lost the angle, and Alicia let out a throaty laugh as she pulled away.
Her hands slipped down Ginny's bare back and beneath her combat trousers and knickers, her fingers kneading at Ginny's arse in a way that had her cunt throbbing. "I want to taste you," Alicia murmured. She thrust up against Ginny, leaving no doubt as to what exactly she wanted to be tasting. "Can I?"
Ginny hesitated for just a second before nodding, her skin flushing as Alicia flipped their positions so that Ginny was the one on her back. Most of her fantasies about Alicia had been fuzzy and insubstantial past the kissing and groping. She was familiar enough with sex, and it wasn't as if she didn't have an idea of the kinds of things her and Alicia could get up to together, but she'd never really lingered on the particulars. Now, It all felt so real as Alicia encouraged her to lift her hips so she could ease off Ginny's trousers and knickers, stripping her bare. They were doing this, they were having sex, were hopefully going to be having quite a lot of it for quite a while with only each other. The thought sent pleasant shivers across her skin, even as her stomach cramped with nerves and anticipation as Alicia slowly parted her legs.
"Anybody ever go down on you before?" Alicia asked, her eyes almost glowing in the low light of the room as she ran her fingers up and down Ginny's inner thighs.
Ginny shivered, both at the intoxicating touch and from Alicia's hot stare. She nodded. "Yeah, Harry did, a couple of times."
Alicia raised a thick brow. "Only a couple?"
Ginny blushed and wrinkled her nose. "I didn't really… I felt kind of awkward. Uncomfortable with him…." She trailed off and shrugged. "It was like he was only doing it because he felt like it was fair play for me sucking him off. I mean, he was fine about it, but it just made me self-conscious. I liked it better when he used his fingers."
Alicia nodded thoughtfully, an appraising look in her eyes. "Would you rather I use mine?" She wriggled her fingers playfully. "I'd really fucking love to get my mouth on you, but I am rather good with my hands. Not everybody likes getting head."
Ginny licked her lips, her body alight with the knowledge of how much Alicia wanted her. She'd never felt more desirable than she did right that moment, splayed out naked on Alicia's bed with Alicia's ravenous gaze upon her. "No," she croaked, before clearing her throat. "No, I… I want you to. I think it'd be different, with you."
Alicia grinned, all Kneazle-that-caught-the-Golden-Snidget. "Oh, I guarantee it. When it comes to licking pussy, women just do it better." She smirked. "Well, when it comes to everything, women do it better, but especially this." She ran her thumb along Ginny's slit, gathering her slick before circling her clit. Ginny gasped, her muscles twitching with the sudden spark of pleasure.
"Fuck, you're sweet," Alicia said thickly. She raised her damp thumb to her lips, sucking the tang of Ginny off her fingertips. "Taste sweet, too." She smiled, and Ginny went up in flames.
Alicia leaned down to give Ginny a kiss, and Ginny's belly squirmed when she realised the salty taste on Alicia's tongue was her. She moaned into the kiss, reaching up with greedy hands to tug Alicia down against her, wanting to feel her skin on skin. Alicia laughed into the kiss, and that rough, amused sound got Ginny just as hot as the shocking rub of Alicia's bare thigh against her cunt. She could feel her slickness smearing against Alicia's skin, and the thought had her squirming and flushing with embarrassed arousal. Ginny was so fucking keen, so eager, and though a part of her felt flustered by how painfully obvious she was being, she felt secure in the knowledge that Alicia wasn't judging her, that she clearly found Ginny's desire to be a turn-on. There was still an element of self-consciousness and uncertainty lurking in Ginny's breast, but it was honestly a little shocking how comfortable she already felt with Alicia, given it was their first time touching like this, the first time a woman had ever touched her like this.She wondered if it would always be like this, if it was a woman thing, or an Alicia thing. After all this wasn't just any woman, it was Alicia, the person she'd found herself steadily falling for every since that first day of Harpies training. She knew Alicia, trusted her, and this was just one more thing to bring them closer together, another way for Ginny to know her utterly, completely. Ginny couldn't imagine it possibly feeling any better than this, and she was struck with the thought that she would be okay never finding out, as long as she got to do this with Alicia forever.
Alicia slid away from Ginny's mouth, her lips trailing over Ginny's jaw, her throat, tongue licking at the dip of her clavicle. Warm fingertips caressed down her ribs to rest along her hips as Alicia settled herself more firmly between Ginny's thighs, her mouth kissing slowly down. Ginny's entire body grew tense as Alicia made her way lower, her muscles twitching when Alicia's chin grazed against her public hair. Alicia paused for a moment before pressing her mouth against Ginny's sensitive lower belly and blowing a loud raspberry. Ginny shrieked with surprise, the sound trailing into laughter as she glanced down at Alicia's mischievous grin. The move had done its job, easing some of Ginny's rigidity and lightening the moment. This was going to fine. It was going to be better than fine. She just needed to get out of her head and let herself feel.
"Ready?" Alicia asked her, the words a hot exhale against Ginny's cunt that had her fingers grasping for the coverlet.
"Yeah," she breathed, throwing her head back against Alicia's pillow and taking a deep breath as she stared up at the ceiling. "Have at me."
Alicia snorted indelicately before edging Ginny's legs a little wider and licking a broad stripe right over her cunt. Ginny gasped, her legs twitching as if wanting to close, though with Alicia's broad shoulders between them, there was nothing to do but for them stay splayed open. Pleasure coursed through Ginny as Alicia licked at her, alternating between sucking at Ginny's clit and flicking her tongue in tight little circles around it. She ate Ginny out with clear skill and even clearer enthusiasm, moaning as she held Ginny open. The pure bliss of it was overwhelming and intense, sparks of pleasure lighting up every nerve-ending in her body. When Alicia brought her clever fingers into play, sliding an index finger deep inside Ginny's cunt and stroking in counterpoint to her wicked tongue, Ginny just about lost her goddamn mind.
"Oh, oh, oh," Ginny moaned, her voice a high, breathy whine as Alicia slid a second finger inside. Ginny's entire body tensed as her orgasm built, her inner walls clenching tight around Alicia's thrusting fingers as she hurtled towards the peak. She had to keep reminding herself to breathe, so caught up in the earth-shattering pleasure that even the basic function had apparently Apparated away. Alicia seemed to sense she was close, because the seductive motions of her fingers and tongue grew faster and more purposeful. In between Ginny's great, gasping breaths, Ginny could hear the slick sound of sex filling the room as Alicia licked and fingered her. With Harry, those raw, indelicate sex noises had always made Ginny feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and she'd almost always insisted on making love with the wireless on to cover the inevitable squelching. The thought to do so hadn't even occurred to her now though, and for some reason she couldn't quite understand, hearing Alicia eagerly eat her out didn't have Ginny cringing with uneasy inhibition. Instead, it just made Ginny hotter, hearing how much Alicia wanted her, knowing that there was nowhere Alicia would rather be at that moment then right there between Ginny's legs with her face buried in Ginny's cunt.
Alicia's fingers curled and stroked, rubbing against that sensitive place inside her just as Alicia sealed her mouth around Ginny's clit and began vibrating her tongue at what surely had to be inhuman speed. The dual stimulation was enough to finally push Ginny over the edge, and she twisted her hands in the sheets as her orgasm shook through her like an earthquake. She wasn't sure if it was actually the most intense climax of her life, but it sure as hell felt like it, leaving her sweaty and sated and dazed. Alicia continued licking and stroking her through it, albeit at a gentler pace, and every delicate swipe of her tongue over Ginny's swollen clit had her muscles spasming. Each twitch sent a wave of aching pleasure through her abs and biceps, still sore from their exertion in the game that afternoon. It brought a giddy grin to Ginny's face—she played in her first ever professional Quidditch match and got the girl.
Today was pretty fucking awesome.
Eventually Alicia's tongue against her brought more pain than pleasure, and she reached down and tugged at Alicia's arms, urging her up for a kiss. Her mouth was slick and salty, and Ginny wasn't sure if it was weird that the taste of herself on Alicia's lips turned her on so much, but since Alicia didn't seem to mind, Ginny wouldn't either. The kissing was nice, but Ginny was hyper-aware of the fact that Alicia hadn't yet come, and all she could think about was bringing Alicia just as much pleasure as she'd just brought Ginny.
"Your turn," Ginny breathed into the kiss, sliding her hands down to play with the hem of Alicia's shorts.
"You sure?" Alicia asked, a small worry line forming in the crease of her forehead as she pulled back from the kiss. "You don't—"
Ginny huffed, rolling her eyes as she grabbed hold of Alicia's waist and deftly flipped them over so that Alicia was the one pressed back against the bed.
"Gryffindor, remember?" Ginny said as she settled between Alicia's legs. Alicia looked so fucking hot half-naked against her sheets; it drove Ginny mad. "I want to get you off. Show me how you like it?"
Alicia smiled, a soft vulnerable thing that quickly turned wicked. "Yeah, yeah I can do that." She braced her feet against the bed and arched her hips, shimmying off her shorts and knickers in one fell swoop. Setting back against the bed, she pointedly spread her legs, perfectly confident and at ease in her body. She lay there like that for several long moments, seemingly letting Ginny take her fill, a fact for which Ginny was immensely grateful, seeing as how this was the first twat she was seeing up close and personal. It wasn't as if she had no frame of reference—she'd seen plenty of bush in the changing rooms, and she had a decent familiarity with her own—but other than that one time just after puberty when curiosity had struck and she'd laid back, levitated a mirror between her legs, and done some investigating, she'd never had an opportunity to see one so up-close and personal. That time with the mirror she'd been sickly fascinated by this alien body part, but she certainly hadn't felt any form of arousal. If anything, she'd thought all the pink shiny skin had been a bit weird looking, and had felt nothing but relief that she didn't have to look at it on a regular basis. So she hadn't really known what to expect, seeing Alicia spread out in front of her, and it was both surprising and not that all she felt was hunger. There was none of the aversion or discomfort she'd been secretly worried she might feel when faced with Alicia's cunt. Instead, it made her pulse race and her skin heat, looking at the thick, dark brown thatch of curls at the apex of Alicia's thighs. Her gaze moved even lower, taking in the red lips shining with arousal. Ginny's body tingled, her mouth watered.
Yeah, this definitely wasn't going to be a problem.
"Doing okay there, Red?" Alicia asked. Her tone was teasing, but Ginny knew her well enough by now that she could hear the faint worry beneath. Ginny was keen to reassure her.
"Yeah," Ginny breathed. "I'm fucking great. You're just so…." She trailed off, reaching out to cup Alicia's knees, rubbing her thumbs against the insides before slowly sliding her hands up, her heart pounding. A little tremor racked Alicia's frame as Ginny reach the crease of her hips, her thumbs brushing against Alicia's pubic hair. The knowledge that Ginny was the one affecting Alicia like this had her exhaling a shuddering breath and, steeling her nerves, she ran her thumb against Alicia's outer folds, smearing wetness against her skin. "Merlin," Ginny said reverently. "You're so wet."
Alicia's laugh was high and breathy. "That's what you do to me, Red."
"Fuck, that's hot," Ginny said emphatically, pressing more purposefully with her thumb. She slid it down to tease at Alicia's opening before moving back up to rub over Alicia's clit. Alicia gasped, and Ginny swore she could feel that hot little sound in her own aching cunt. She did it again, tentative, curious, and Alicia groaned. When Ginny moved to slide away again, Alicia grabbed her wrist.
"Not that I'm not on board with giving you time to explore, but I've been dreaming of this for months, and if you don't get me off in the next two minutes, I might actually explode. How about we table Pussy 101 until round two and I give you the Quik Quotes version now?"
Ginny laughed, her body warming at the confirmation that there would definitely be a round two. She'd been pretty sure, but it was nice to hear all the same. "All right, then," Ginny agreed. "I'm in your hands. How do you want it?"
Alicia moved Ginny's fingers up over her clit, guiding them in tight, fast circles over the slick nub. Her hips arched up against the pressure, undulating in time to the movements, and when Ginny seemed to get the hang of the tempo and force, Alicia's hand fell away, leaving Ginny on her own. She watched in aroused fascination as Alicia's hips seemed to relax and open as Ginny's fingers worked her over. Her body seemed to be in constant, sinuous movement, undulating in synchronicity with Ginny's fingers. Alicia's chest heaved as she panted and moaned, her full breasts jiggling in a way that had Ginny desperate to suck at them. But she wasn't sure if she could manage without throwing off her pace, and she seemed to have hit a sweet spot for Alicia, her moans growing louder as she seemed to edge closer and closer to release.
Suddenly, Alicia's hand flew back down to cover Ginny's fingers, pressing them hard and tight against her clit as she thrust and shuddered against them, letting out a loud moan as she came. Alicia's body quickly went lax in the aftermath of her orgasm, her hand falling away once more as she all but melted against the bed. Ginny ran her thumb slowly over Alicia's clit, just to see the delightful twitch and shudder. Alicia opened her eyes lazily, self-satisfaction visible in every line of her body as she smiled, slow and pleased.
"So how did I do?" Ginny asked, wondering if the bravado was enough to cover up the genuine anxiety beneath. Alicia's smile widened.
"Not bad, Red," she said, her voice low and smokey-sweet. "Not bad at all."
Alicia reached up and tugged her down for a snog, still tasting faintly of Ginny. It was gentler than their previous kisses, now that the sharp edge of lust had been temporarily dulled, but it still made Ginny's heart flip and her insides glow with a happy warmth. It was still a little surreal to her, realising that she'd really told Alicia how she felt, that Alicia felt the same way, that they'd had spectacular amazing sex and connected in a way Ginny hadn't felt in a very long time, if ever. A part of her might have worried that it was all a beautiful, impossible dream, but there was no way she could have imagined the things they'd just done together and the way they made her feel, bold and sexy and fearless. Being with Alicia this way felt right, the way her friendship had felt right from the very start, as if this was where they were always meant to end up. Ginny didn't mind that one bit.
"How do you feel about sleeping naked?" Alicia asked her when they finally broke apart.
"Um… I'm more of a T-shirt and trackies kind of girl. Though if you want to sleep naked, I certainly won't mind."
Alicia laughed. "Good, because I was going to whether you liked it or not." She reached for her wand, first cleaning the both of them off before Summoning an old Harpies shirt and a pair of grey jogging bottoms. "Here," she said, pressing them into Ginny's hands. "Since you didn't bring anything with you."
Ginny smiled at her broadly, probably looking like she was on potions, but she couldn't make herself stop. She was just so damn happy, those freaking Snitches in her stomach fluttering about at the casual assumption that Ginny would be staying over. She wanted this to be a thing, wanted them to be a thing, and screw all the potential complications.
And she knew there were complications. There was the fact that they were teammates, which Alicia had once said she generally considered off-limits, the fact that Ginny was just recognising her attraction to women, the fact that Ginny had just recently come out of a serious relationship. The Prophet still hadn't yet caught wind of the split, but when they did it was bound to be brutal, and Ginny moving on so quickly, and with a woman at that, was bound to cause a stir. There were going to be questions and concerns and a whole other host of things that Ginny knew were legitimate, but she still wanted to say fuck it to every last one. She was mad about Alicia, and she didn't plan on giving this up, not without a fight.
"Stop thinking so hard," Alicia said into her pillow. She was clearly ready to get some sleep, snuggled up beneath her sheets with her dark hair fanned out attractively against her pillowcase.
Alicia sighed, turning over to look at Ginny and smile softly. "I know," she said. "It's a lot to process, and there's some stuff we need to talk about if we want to make this work." She pulled Ginny close and pressed a kiss to her lips. "But I do want to make this work. We're two fit, clever, cool as fuck witches. We'll figure it out."
Ginny nodded, comforted by Alicia's words and the knowledge that she wasn't in this alone, that she wasn't the only one who wanted to see where they could go. "You're right. We've got this." She got comfortable beneath the sheets, hesitating a moment before pressing up against Alicia's side, sighing in satisfaction when Alicia reached back to grab her arm and wrap it up against her stomach. "Talk shit out tomorrow over pancakes?" Ginny asked as she settled in.
"Only if you're making them," Alicia mumbled sleepily. "Trust me, you wouldn't want to eat anything I tried to make." A pause. "I'll do the coffee. I make a mean dark roast."
Ginny pressed a smile against Alicia's hair.
"Sounds like a plan."
Three Months Later
"Can you believe we've only got two more games left in the competition season?" Alicia said against Ginny's ear. Even with her so close, it was hard to hear—the Venomous Violet was loud tonight, packed with the entire Harpies team, various friends and significant others, and, of course, the ever-present broom bunnies that followed all the Quidditch teams around, hoping to land themselves a professional player. They were out celebrating their defeat of the Cannons earlier that afternoon, who'd put up a surprisingly decent fight much to Ron's obvious pride. Still, the Harpies had emerged triumphant in the end, just as Ginny knew they would.
"It's surreal," Ginny replied. "It feels like just yesterday I was starting my first day of training, and now I've nearly got a full season under my belt, and we've got a real shot at taking the top slot in the league."
"Fuck real shot," Alicia said confidently. "That top spot is ours."
"Okay, Gwen," Ginny teased. Their fearless captain had grown increasingly zealous as they continued with their winning streak and grew closer and closer to taking the Champion title from the Tornados. She'd taken to giving them rousing motivational speeches several times a day, and it appeared Alicia had taken them all to heart. Not that Ginny was much different. The both of them bled green and gold—all the Harpies did. It was part of what made them such a force to be reckoned with.
Alicia grinned. "Speaking of our dear leader…." She trailed off and nodded her head towards a shadowy corner of the pub where Ginny could just make out Gwenog's tall muscled frame pressing a woman up against the wall and snogging the living daylights out of her.
"Oh my god," Ginny breathed. "Is that Edrie?"
"That it is," said Renee, who was sat next to them and had apparently been listening in. Her face was a complicated cross between amused and resigned. "Bloody Gwen can't keep it in her pants."
"But didn't they… I mean… I thought they hated each other?"
"Fine line and all of that," Alicia said with a shrug.
"Merlin, this is going to be a bloody train wreck, isn't it?"
Alicia snorted. "That's an understatement if I ever heard one. Though hopefully they wait until after the season is over to implode."
"Audra's going to lose her shit," Renee added, looking far too gleeful about the prospect.
Ginny smiled and relaxed back against the seat, snuggling into Alicia's arm wrapped tight around her shoulders. Not even the apprehension she felt at the impending broom-wreck their captain was about to steer straight into them could dappen her spirits. She was still flying high after their earlier win; Alicia's warm presence and being surrounded by her teammates, her people, sustained her pleasant buzz. It really was surreal to think about how much had changed, how much she had changed in half a year, but she couldn't remember ever being so happy, ever feeling so right in her skin. This wasn't exactly the life she'd pictured for herself when she was younger, but it was so, so much better.
"You ready for tomorrow?" she asked Alicia when Jasmine and Valen pulled Renee into a discussion of the new release of the Nimbus 3000.
Alicia scoffed. "Of course I am. It's just lunch, and it's not like I've not already met most of your siblings before." Ginny knew Alicia well enough to hear the insecurity buried beneath her bluster. Ginny had been pants-shittingly nervous meeting Alicia's mum and dad for the first time, and that was only two people. Alicia was about to be exposed to the full Weasley family experience.
"They're going to love you," Ginny said, doing her best to sound confident and reassuring. She knew she was lucky that everybody, even Harry, had been incredibly supportive about her coming out and announcing her relationship with Alicia. Frankly, it helped having a gay older brother who had done the bulk of the work in paving the way. Her parents were amazing, but she knew they'd had a hard time really understanding things when Charlie had first came out. Luckily Charlie had the patience of a saint and had taken a lot of time to help educate them on what it all meant and how they could best be allies to him and LGBTQ witches and wizards like him. Then again, he did fuck off to Romania the first chance he got, so maybe he wasn't so patient after all. Regardless, their parents had been great about Ginny's coming out, her mum switching track with deft ease. Instead of grilling her about what went wrong with Harry every Sunday lunch, she'd started with the 'When are you finally going to bring your young lady around?' Ginny had put it off as long as she could—the Weasleys could be a lot to handle, and she really didn't want to scare Alicia off—but three months of dating was long enough. It was time. "I just hope you love them too."
Alicia smiled at her, only a little strained. "I'm sure they're going to be great. I already get on with Ron and George, and your parents sound amazing. Plus Angie promised she'd come along with George for support." She paused, gnawing on her lip before continuing, "You're sure Harry's okay with everything? I mean, we did get together pretty quickly after you broke up. I don't want him thinking I'm some homewrecker who stole his girl."
Ginny pulled away, giving Alicia a sharp look. "I'm not a thing that can be owned or stolen. I didn't belong to Harry, and I don't belong to you either. Even if you hadn't come along, Harry and I would have split up eventually. We didn't belong together, and I think we're both glad we figured that out now instead after marriage and kids."
"Sorry, you're right," Alicia said, clearly chastened. "I know you're not an object; I didn't mean it like that. I'm just nervous. I like Harry."
"I know," Ginny said, smiling to show Alicia she was forgiven. "But you don't have to worry. Harry's just fine. I don't think I'm the one he's pining after."
Alicia's brows rose, clearly intrigued, but Ginny kept her lips sealed. Harry and her had met up a couple of times since the break-up to talk things over and clear the air. It had been awkward at first, but each time had been a little easier and Ginny was relieved, confident that eventually they'd get to the point where she could have one of her best friends back. With the additional distance of no longer being his girlfriend, she'd picked up on several things in their conversations that she'd not seen before. In particular, she'd noticed the way his face softened when he talked about his training partner, the way his eyes seemed to light up and his cheeks would grow a bit rosy. She wasn't absolutely certain she was correct in her inklings, but if she was, she didn't want to out Harry before he was ready. Still, she couldn't help but find it amusing that the both of them had ended up playing for the same team. She just hoped, for Harry's sake, that Draco Malfoy did, too.
"Hey, Red," a high-pitched voice shouted from across the bar. Ginny looked up to see Shoko bouncing on her toes by the dart boards. "Stop making eyes at your girlfriend and come help me kick some arse at darts. It's Rookies vs Veterans."
Ginny laughed. Shoko's enthusiasm was infectious. "Yeah, all right," she called back. "Give me a minute." She reached for her beer and drained the last few gulps before turning to Alicia.
"Buy me another?" Ginny asked. "I'll need it to celebrate my victory."
"Sure thing," Alicia said with a laugh. Then she reached out and dragged Ginny in for a deep, messy kiss, the kind that made Ginny want to forget the pub and the game of darts and get Alicia somewhere a little more private. The sound of whistles and catcalls brought her back to reality, and she pulled back, and Alicia grinned, amused. "Easy there, Red. Go have fun. There's plenty of time for that later."
Ginny pouted but slid out of the booth before turning back to Alicia. "Promise?"
Alicia smouldered up at her. "Would I lie about that? Now turn around and go play darts. I want to check out your arse as you walk away."
Renee made a gagging sound, and Ginny flipped her off before obligingly turning around and heading towards Shoko, who was waving her over impatiently.
If she put a little extra sway in her hips as she walked away, well, that was between her and Alicia.