Ready for Take-off by Gin110881
Summary: ***Winner of the People's Choice Award in the First Time for Everything Challenge*** The story of Ginny's very first broom ride.
Categories: Pre-OotP, First Time for Everything Challenge (2019-2), First Time For Everything Challenge (2019-2)
Ready for Take-off by Gin110881
Chapter 1: Chapter 1Author's Notes:
The Burrow near Ottery St. Catchpole, sometime in October 1987
Ginny Weasley lay on her bed, listening into the silence of the Burrow. Besides the steady creaking of the roof and the reverberant noise when the ghoul in the attic occasionally banged on the pipes, it had been quiet in the house since the squeaking steps in the stairwell had announced that her parents had gone to bed.
Staring at a bright spot the moonlight painted on the wall, Ginny pondered her plan. The longer she pondered, the more her determination seemed to wane.
Should she really do it?
Doubt was gnawing on her nerves, and the pounding of her heart became louder every passing minute. Frustrated, she slipped out of her bed and walked over to the chair she'd pushed in front of the window earlier in the evening. She climbed on the chair, knelt down and pressed her forehead against the windowpane. Not for the first time this evening, she glanced longingly over to the Quidditch goal post, reaching for the sky in the distance — but out of reach for her.
She would give anything to fly up there once.
Tearing herself away from the sight, she turned and looked about her room as if to look for answers.
In the pale moonlight, she recognized the image of the unicorn her brother Bill had conjured on the door of her wardrobe for her sixth birthday. It shook its mane and stamped impatiently with the front hoof as if urging her to get started.
Her eyes lit up as her gaze paused on the poster of the Holyhead Harpies zooming in a circle around a goalpost, waving to Ginny. She’d fought hard to get this poster. When she'd spotted it in one of Charlies Quidditch magazines, she had to beg for days until her brother finally rolled his eyes, cut the poster out, and gave it to her.
A small smile spread across Ginny's face as her eyes fell on her Harry Potter doll, sitting on the bedside table next to her pillow, giving her a lopsided grin. Two bright spots sparkled in his emerald green glass eyes as if to say, "What's up Weasley? What are you waiting for?"
Yeah, what was she waiting for?
What was she afraid of?
She wasn't afraid of flying. That's for sure. She wasn't even afraid of the wrath of her mum. Of course, her mum would be furious, but shedding a few tears had always helped to gain her forgiveness. Her dad? Well, her dad would scold her for her recklessness - with a proud smile on his face.
The truth was, Ginny sighed, it was her brothers she was worried about. They would laugh their heads off and mercilessly tease her for being so stupid to get caught. She wouldn't hear the end of it for weeks. Maybe forever.
Her brother Ron had been whinging all summer because his brothers didn't let him fly. When Ginny's oldest brothers had returned to Hogwarts, Fred and George had finally given in and let Ron join them. After all, they needed a keeper to play Quidditch.
Ginny was still fuming with anger. She'd been begging for a whole year, but her brothers had flatly refused to let her even near a broom. Oh, how she hated that smug grin on Ron's face as he looked down at her from his broom and lectured how flying a broom was far too dangerous for a girl.
That was laughable. Ginny had spent all afternoon watching her brothers play Quidditch. Those prats could barely keep the Quaffle in the air but thought their sister was just good enough to pick it up for them and throw it in the air every couple of minutes so her lazy brothers wouldn't have to get off their brooms. But Ginny had enough of it. She'd decided there and then that she didn't need her useless brothers to learn how to fly. She'd been begging long enough, now she'd learn it all by herself.
Looking Harry in the eye, she squared her chin. The decision was made. There was no way she'd chicken out. It was now or never.
Determined, she got up and tiptoed to the door. Opening it a crack, she listened for noises in the stairwell.
Slowly she sneaked back to the wardrobe, tied her hair to a ponytail and took out her robe. She put it on and tied a scarf around her neck. It was autumn and probably cold outside. In the hope of being dressed warm enough, Ginny crept down the stairs, expertly avoiding the creaking steps.
She scurried across the kitchen, carefully paying attention to where she set her feet. Listening one last time if there were any suspicious noises in the house, she slipped out of the back door.
Immediately, the cold wind hit her face, forcing her to inhale sharply. She paused briefly to get used to the cold air in her lungs. Tightening the scarf around her neck and mouth, she checked if the door was closed properly.
When she found everything in order, she turned to the backyard and made her way to the broom shed. Relieved she noticed that the wind hid the crunch of her footsteps on gravel.
As soon as she reached the shed, she turned to look back at the house - just to be safe. The window to her parents' bedroom was dark. Luckily, the door to the shed was in the shadows so no prying eye would see her from the house.
Carefully, Ginny turned the doorknob.
"Bugger!" she grumbled. The door didn’t open.
Should she come back another time? Now, that she was so close?
That was out of the question.
Pondering her options, she quietly headed back to the house and slipped through the door back into the kitchen. Closing the door behind her, she glanced around the room. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as her gaze fell on the sideboard. She walked over and opened the top drawer. A smile spread over her face as she saw her grandmother's wand, neatly tucked away in the back.
She grabbed the wand, rearranged a few odds and sods to cover its absence, then closed the drawer. The wand in her hand, she headed back to the broom shed.
When she reached the door to the shed, she raised her wand...and paused. Frowning, she hesitated a moment, not sure if it really was a good idea to perform magic.
Her brothers, Fred and George, had used the wand many times. Nothing had ever happened to them. Well, when her mum had once caught them, she'd given them a proper dressing-down. The twins had laughed about it afterwards.
On the other hand, would her mum ever suspect her little, innocent daughter would sneak out to the broom shed at this time of the night, doing magic to open the door to the broom shed?
She'd rather suspect the twins.
Ginny tapped the lock with her wand, causing a soft clicking noise. With a satisfied grin, she turned the knob and pulled the door open.
"Ack," she inhaled and froze in shock as the squeaking of the hinges shrilled through the night.
That damn noise had never been so loud during the daytime. She glanced over at the bedroom window of her parents and breathed a sigh of relief when it remained dark.
Ginny took a step into the shed put her wand on the old Quaffle crate next to the door. She waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. In the shadow of the moonlight, she spotted the silhouettes of the brooms neatly lined up on the back wall. Unlike most of their other possessions, her brothers were very careful with their brooms.
When Ginny stepped into the dimness of the shed, she nearly stumbled over some junk lying on the floor, hissing a curse word her mum would never expect to hear out of her mouth. Tightly clutching the handle of a broom, she stepped back into the open and closed the door behind her.
The odd sensation of someone staring at her back accompanied her on the way to the makeshift Quidditch pitch. When she passed the orchard, she was finally out of sight of the house. Ginny took a deep breath and ran. She couldn’t wait to get up into the air.
When she finally reached the paddock the Weasleys used as their Quidditch playground, Ginny looked about. The moon was hidden behind the clouds, but the slightly overcast sky reflected enough moonlight to illuminate the surroundings. Its pale light transformed the field into a ghostly landscape with oddly shaped shadows, moving in the wind.
Unperturbed by the spectacle, Ginny knew the moment of truth had finally come. Holding the broom thoughtfully, she steeled herself and mounted it.
Sitting astride the broom, she nervously bit her lower lip and pushed the handle upwards.
"Oi!" Ginny yelped, desperately clinging to the broom with both hands to keep upright, as the broom made a huge leap in the air and almost threw her off.
This was the same mistake Ron made on his first broom ride when he broke his arm. Relieved that she was spared this embarrassment, Ginny narrowed her eyes. She needed to concentrate.
Steadying herself for another try, she let her eyes wander until they landed on the goal hoop. She turned slightly in the direction of the hoop and leapt into the air, pulling the nose of the broomstick up.
Immediately, she gained altitude.
As she leaned forward, she felt the broom accelerating swiftly. The sudden headwind tugged at her breath. With narrowed eyes, she looked up at the goal hoop. Realizing the broom was rapidly zooming towards the hoop, an excited grin spread over her face.
A daring glance down to the ground made her cheer. Flying really was quite easy.
A startled cry escaped Ginny's lips as a shadow crossed her vision. Hastily she threw herself to the right, barely avoiding a clash with the goal hoop. Ginny grasped the broom tighter and leaned to the left to regain balance. As she sat straight on the broom again, hovering in the air, she ventured a look down into the depths. Relieved, she giggled about her good luck. Falling off the broom from that height would surely have hurt. A lot.
Her relief lasted only a moment as she suddenly noticed she was rapidly rising into the air. It took her a moment to remember to hold the broom handle straight to stay at the same height. Gently, Ginny pushed the broom down until she was back at the height of the goal hoop.
The world looked quite different from up here.
At the edge of the forest, right next to the orchard, Ginny spotted her tree house, one of her favourite places she'd often retire to find some peace away from her brothers. Down at the bottom of the goal post, clouds of dried-up leaves were whirling across the meadow. At the far end of the paddock, a group of pines cast long shadows in the moonlight. Behind the pines, rows of tall spruces guarded the Burrow against prying eyes from the village of Ottery.
Ginny sighed. Being up here in the air felt even better than she'd ever dreamed.
She cautiously released one hand from the handle to straighten her scarf when a movement near the edge of the forest caught her eye.
Without even thinking, she pushed the nose of the broom downwards and dove in this direction. Her eyes scanned the path ahead, looking for any hint of something unusual. Regretting that she'd forgotten to dig through Charlie's sideboard to search for his old Quidditch glasses, she narrowed her eyes even further to protect them from the wind.
Zooming around the first of the pine trees, Ginny stopped in mid-air as she suddenly spotted a herd of roe deer grazing near the edge of the forest. Mesmerized, she manoeuvred her broom to just the right angle and held it in place, always keeping an eye on the game. Her breath caught as she watched the deer grazing, while the roebuck carefully observed the surroundings, steadily turning its nose into the wind, scenting.
To get a better view, Ginny leaned slightly forward to let the broom drift closer to the herd. She held her breath when the roebuck froze briefly, spun around and dashed away toward the near forest, closely followed by the rest of the herd.
Instinctively Ginny leaned flat on the broom, trying to chase after the animals. Startled, she grasped the handle tighter as the sudden acceleration almost made her slip off the broom. Tugging the handle to the right, she managed to curve around a tree that suddenly emerged in front of her only to watch the herd disappear between the trees of the forest.
Enthralled by the encounter with the deer, Ginny turned off and flew along the edge of the forest in search of other exciting things. When her eyes didn’t catch anything of interest, she returned to her lookout post next to the goal hoop.
Floating in mid-air, she noticed to her astonishment that she'd been flying around in the last minutes as if she'd done it all her life, her earlier almost-crash already buried deep in her six-year-old memory.
Was flying really that easy?
Maybe she could try a real Quidditch manoeuvre.
Remembering a stunt her brother Charlie had pulled last summer, Ginny pushed the nose of the broomstick down and leaned forward. Instantly the broom shot downwards, causing an uneasy sensation in her stomach. With mixed feelings, Ginny watched the ground come closer.
Merlin, when was she supposed to stop the dive to avoid crashing to the ground?
Biting her lower lip, Ginny pulled the broom up with all her strength as the momentum nearly threw her. Wide-eyed, she clung tightly to the handle until the ground ahead gave way to the distant sight of a row of orchard trees, as...
"Aaah," Ginny screamed as a sharp pain shot through her left knee. The broom was ripped from her hands as she hit the ground and rolled across the meadow.
"Bloody hell!" Ginny cursed.
Gritting her teeth, she pressed her eyes shut in pain. "Bugger, bugger, bugger!"
Shaking her head over her own silliness, Ginny held her injured knee with both hands and waited for the pain to subside, softly muttering curse words.
When the pain finally faded, Ginny cautiously tried to move her leg. Although it still hurt, the knee wasn't seriously damaged.
Maybe she ought to take some time to get used to the broom before trying one of Charlie's manoeuvres.
As far as she knew, neither Ron nor the twins had ever tried it.
On the other hand - why not?
Well, maybe not right away, Ginny mused, rubbing her aching kneecap. Maybe she should practice landing first. The thought almost made her laugh.
Ginny took a deep breath and got back on her feet. She hobbled a few steps around to get her leg working before she turned to find her broom a few yards away in the grass - fortunately not broken. It would have been difficult to find an explanation, and she was determined to get through this adventure without having to explain anything to anyone.
Ginny picked up the broom and lifted her injured leg over the handle. Flying wasn't as painful as walking at the moment, she noticed.
Slowly, she leaned forward to gain speed, her heart still heavily pounding after the crash. Once she reached the orchard, Ginny began zigzagging through the rows of the trees. As the space between the trees became narrower, she pulled the broom upwards. Briefly hovering over the treetops, she threw a glance back at the Burrow. When she didn't see anything suspicious, she turned and raced back to the Quidditch field.
Increasing the speed, Ginny flew a complete lap around the paddock. More confident again, she leaned forward and shot along the trees of the orchard towards the edge of the forest, tightly holding the handle of the broom with both hands.
Her earlier crash forgotten, Ginny leaned flat on the broom to gain even more speed. She headed straight for a narrow gap between two pine trees and let out a cry of joy as she slipped through. She took a tight turn and dashed back to the goal hoop, circled it and shot back toward the edge of the forest. With every round, Ginny reduced the altitude to enjoy the thrill of flying almost at ground level.
The flutter of her scarf, which had somehow loosened, distracted her for a split of a second. Her eyes widened in horror as she noticed the scrubs ahead of her.
At the last moment, she tore the tip of her broom up, trying to gain altitude. It didn't help. When suddenly a pine materialized behind the scrubs directly in front of her, she crashed into the branches of the tree at full speed.
Ginny hissed in pain as she threw her arms up to protect herself from the stinging pine needles.
As the momentum of the crash abated, the branch beneath her buckled under her weight and she began to slide. Desperately clinging to the twigs of the tree with both of her hands, she ventured a brief glance down to the ground. A sigh of relief escaped her lips when she saw the soil not that far below.
Slowly loosening her grasp on the twigs, she slid down the branch. Finally surrendering her hold, she dropped and hit the ground with a dull thud.
"Aah," she screamed as the pain shot through her coccyx. "Bloody scrubs! Bloody…aah!"
When she heard a rustling noise from above, Ginny wrapped her arms over her head as pine cones crashed down around her. Rolling aside, she scrambled out from the tree, a split second before her broom broke loose from the branches and thudded down where she'd just been sitting.
In a huff, she grabbed a pine cone and threw it angrily at the trunk. The lack of any reaction earned the tree a deadly glare from Ginny.
Grudgingly accepting the silliness of her behaviour, she rolled her eyes and looked about. In the midst of a heap of cones, she spotted her broom. Fortunately, still in one piece.
An itching on her neck made her aware of a twig caught in her scarf. As she carefully removed the twig, she noticed the burning stings left by the pine needles in her hands. Annoyed, she removed two needles that still stung in her palm.
She'd better come up with an excuse for her bruised hands for her mum.
Frowning, she considered her situation. Her hands were burning like fire, the dull pain in her knee was still throbbing with the rhythm of her pulse. Although the stinging pain in her bottom was slowly subsiding, it still bothered her.
She snorted as she remembered how her oh-so-brave brothers always ran to her mum whenever they got hurt.
She squared her chin. No, she wouldn't make a fuss over a few minor aches and pains. The last thing she needed now was her mum keeping a close eye on her. It certainly wouldn't help her to become a better flyer than her brothers.
She cocked her head. Was that what she really wanted? To become a better flyer than her brothers?
Of course, she wanted to prove to her brothers that she wasn't just their fragile little sister.
But most of all she wanted to fly.
The hoot of an owl startled Ginny from her thoughts. She looked about but couldn’t see the bird anywhere. Suddenly aware of her surroundings, she felt the cold sneaking up her limbs. Maybe she'd better quit her nightly adventure for today.
She scrambled to her feet and grabbed the broom. Ignoring the jabbing pain in her bottom, she mounted the broom and took off.
Quickly gaining height, she headed for the goal hoop. There she paused and let her eyes wander, trying to memorize every detail.
Hovering high in the air, Ginny looked down at her familiar home with admiration, but also with pride. She felt like a conqueror looking at a new world laying in front of her, ready to be explored.
Down there, everything was small and crowded.
Up here in the air, she was free to do whatever she wanted. A small smile crossed her face. The next time she would take Harry up here. He would like it. And as wonderful as it was being up here alone, she liked the idea of having company.
Behind the orchard, the Burrow peered out over the treetops, the smoke of the chimney was blown away by the wind, immediately dissolving into nothing. She could even see the window to her room, standing out as a dark spot from the moonlit wall of the house.
With a mischievous smile, she waved to the Ginny hidden behind the windowpane.
She’d done it!
Flying was simply fantastic. Even her aching scratches and bruises seemed to magically heal in the air.
Feeling at one with the world, she turned and let the broom carry her homeward.
Back at the shed, she put the broom back in its place and fumbled for the wand she'd left on the Quaffle crate. She closed the door and tapped the lock with the wand. A clicking noise indicated the door was locked.
With a satisfied grin on her face, Ginny slowly limped back to the Burrow. Tomorrow, she'd hide her bruises under her trousers. Fortunately, it was autumn, and she wouldn't wear a dress. Everything would be fine.
Now, all she had to do was to put her grandmother's wand back in the drawer. After all, she'd need it tomorrow night to open the shed.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
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