Chapter Two - The Poker FaceMature

Four days and one detention later, Jimmy was descending the immaculate lawns of Hogwarts with a wide smile across his face and his Nimbus Two-Thousand over his shoulder without a worry in the world. Over his other shoulder, his friend Ritchie followed with his less expensive Cleensweep under his arm pit - together they breathed in the cool, calm air - it was great conditions for flying, no wind, no rain, visibility was high and there was no doubt it would be the perfect start to their year.

Jimmy had insisted they get to the locker rooms early and change, he might have said his reason was to look keen and professional, but Ritchie knew his intensions lay elsewhere. And sure enough, as the rest of the team began to arrive well after they had, Jimmy sat up more pronounced when he saw Ginny, and he gave her the most eager "hello" than he had the rest of them.

But it was very subtle of him - only Ritchie, who knew how Jimmy felt about Ginny and how he had acted thus far, spotted the difference in him.

'Look Ritchie,' Jimmy hissed under his breath as Ginny, Demelza Robbins and Katie Bell all lined up at the lockers opposite them. 'No walls.'

Christmas had come early for Jimmy.

It did indeed seem like the common courtesy clause was in effect, and that they were expected to look away out of respect. But at no time was there ever anything said or done about privacy, and all three of them changed into their Quidditch robes without hesitation, Jimmy watching out of the corner of his eye the whole time.

Though there had been a brief moment, when Ginny had finally sat down in her full gear - with her face a little more pink than usual - she had pushed a strain of hair behind her ear and given Jimmy a certain look, almost as if to say "I know you watched". But whether he was just imagining it or not, Jimmy didn't have time to ponder very long, Harry Potter arrived and instantly captured everyone's immediate attention.

'Alright, folks,' Harry said, as his best friend Ron and keeper came slouching past him and sat the other side of Jimmy and Ritchie, 'conditions are perfect for our first hit out, no need for any instructions this evening, let's just find out how we all work as a team.'

Everyone started nodding and chattering at their approval of this, but Harry grabbed their attention once again by waving his arms.

'Katie, Ginny, Demelza - you three worked really well together in tryouts,' Harry continued, 'after a few weeks of practice, you'll be an unrelenting force. Try not to completely embarrass Ron though, please-'

Everyone but Harry and Ron laughed.

'No, seriously,' Harry went on, 'he needs all the confidence he can get. Jim, Ritchie, I want you two to get the full workout in practice too, but I don't want any injuries - so practice aiming, rather than power, you can go all out once we play Slytherin.'

'Right you are, Captain,' said Jimmy with real enthusiasm, standing up and saluting him.

Everyone laughed again, and Jimmy looked around expectantly to see even Ginny smiling at his antics.

'That's the enthusiasm I've come to love and expect from the Gryffindor Beaters,' Harry said pointedly, 'come on, let's go!'

And they all poured out of the locker room to begin training.


'I've seen Ginny Weasley in her underwear!'

'A little louder mate. I don't think London quite heard you.'

It was late, very late. Quidditch practice was over hours ago, yet Jimmy and Ritchie had somehow been unable thus far to tear themselves away from the middle of the pitch, where they now lay next to each other, staring up into the abyss. Their only source of light was from the castle up the hill, which lit up only a quarter of the pitch, and so they were pretty much invisible to anyone that might happen to look out the window towards them.

Their blood was still pumping from the excellent session of Quidditch they had had, and despite the fact they knew that they would be paying for it in the morning, they stay laying there, discussing potential tactics for the first game of the year which was approaching fast, and would be against Slytherin. But most of Jimmy's input had been about the fact that he had seen Ginny undress in front of him, and that nothing, not even another detention, could possibly spoil his mood.

But Ritchie was beginning to grow tired of his interjections at this point and suggested that they should really be making their way back to the castle.

'You don't seem to have grasped the magnitude of the occasion, have you Rich?' Jimmy said pointedly, he had been unable to take the grin off his face for a few hours now.

'So you saw her getting change, so what?' Ritchie really didn't see what the big deal was.

'So what?' Jimmy said frustratingly, 'this is the holy grail, mate! Sharing a locker room with the girl of my dreams-'

'You didn't even know she existed a month ago,' Ritchie pointed out quietly.

'Yeah, well, what a month,' Jimmy breathed out deeply, 'did you see the way she looked at me?'

Ritchie didn't answer, he had started fiddling again with the Chocolate Frog card he had found in the pocket of his spare pants he'd put on after training.

'Did you know Merlin was in Slytherin?' Ritchie asked, referring to the card in his hand.

'Yes, you've told me like a thousand times,' Jimmy spat back, lying back down against the cool grass and staring up into the sky.

'I can't stop seeing that smile,' Jimmy went on, putting his hands up behind his head, 'it was right after she played with a little strand of her hair, too, maybe that's one of her tell-tales? I should look out for it-'

'She was probably just realising how much of a creep you are,' Ritchie pointed out to him, 'with you staring at her and everything, I'm surprised she didn't hex you.'

 Jimmy wasn't really listening.

'Tuesday feels like ages away from now,' he said, talking about their next training session.

'You should be more careful about how much you stare at this girl,' Ritchie said, finally grasping Jimmy's attention, 'it's quite unlikely that she shares the same feelings you have for her-'

'But she might?' Jimmy debated.

'But more likely not, don't you think?' Ritchie retorted.

Jimmy contemplated this for a moment. 'You never know,' he shrugged.

'And remember she's a Weasley,' Ritchie went on, 'they have quite the reputation of being feisty characters and can be intimidating if they need to be - so you don't want to be giving her reasons to hex you.'

'I might like feisty,' Jimmy said with a smirk that Ritchie did not see.

'Would you like a trip to the Hospital wing as well?' Ritchie asked him seriously, 'because that's what happened to Draco Malfoy last year when he tried to cross her, do you remember?'

Jimmy swallowed nervously. 'That's different though,' he pointed out, 'I'm not Malfoy, and I'm definitely not trying to cross her-'

'I think staring at her whilst she takes her clothes off is theoretically the same thing,' Ritchie explained, 'whether you're in the same room as her or not, the difference is you're trying to look when you should be trying not to.'

'OK I get your point,' Jimmy snapped after finally having enough. 'I'm going to agree that I shouldn't be staring at her, that I shouldn't be goggling after her, that nothing is going to ever happen between us-'

'I never said-' Ritchie started to say, but Jimmy put a hand up.

'But it's not going to stop me from liking her, alright?'

They both fell silent at the sudden tension between them. Jimmy could feel his anger flowing out of him and Ritchie could sense it - usually if things became this unstable between them, they would resort back to talking about Quidditch and return the peace.

'Besides,' Jimmy said finally as Ritchie looked around at him. 'She wouldn't date a worthless Beater like me anyway-'

'You're not worthless.'

Jimmy didn't really want to reply - he picked up his broomstick and put it over her shoulder and began to trudge back to the castle, with Ritchie stumbling in his wake. He tried not to engage in conversation again - he hated acknowledging it when it happened, but his friend was right - counting the hours until he got to see Ginny in her underwear again sounded much worse out-loud that it had in his head - and anyway, amidst all of his staring and admiring, he had forgotten about the fact that there might be consequences for his actions.

Could the same be in store for him, as there had been for Malfoy, if he kept staring at her? Offering no explanation as to why he was doing it? He wondered what he might do if it ever came to that, whether he had the ability in him to tell her how he felt, or whether he'd simply just roll over like a spider with no legs and allow her to hex him.


Over the next few weeks, Jimmy tried his hardest to put the young redhead out of his mind - he would focus instead on his growing pile of homework during the evenings in the Gryffindor common room, and he would keep both eyes on the Bludger during training, instead of one eye on Ginny as well. Though he managed not to stare at her too much, he could not stop looking at her completely, she was far too pretty - and other than for perhaps a handful of times, he had taken to pointedly look away when the girls arrived for practice on Tuesday's and Thursday's.

Though in his infinite wisdom, he dared to wonder if his sudden disinterest in watching them change out of their clothes would only heighten the chance that Ginny would become suspicious of him.

Ritchie though was quite satisfied that their conversations were no longer consisted up of the day in the life of Ginny Weasley - instead they returned to their former glorious conversations about such things as the abnormality of Professor Snape's nose and racing broom prices in Which Broomstick?

Though he felt a little responsibly for Jimmy's sudden detachment from her, he felt as if heartbreak would have been on the horizon for him anyway; the first Hogsmeade weekend was approaching fast and speculative rumours were going around that Harry Potter was plucking up the courage to ask Ginny to go with him.

All speculative of course, and when Pansy Parkinson was involved, such rumours weren't to be trusted. But it definitely made sense, Harry and Ginny had been seen in heavy proximity of one another in all parts of the castle recently - most likely they were discussing Quidditch tactics, but Ritchie could not help feel as though there was more going on behind the scenes than not.

He did not share these thoughts with Jimmy, instead they spent their time talking about strategies of their own, taking to stalking Slytherin Chasers in the hallways now instead of Gryffindor ones - they would discuss their body shape, their weak points, and how many bludger hits it would take to immobilise them. This sort of dedication even got to the point where Jimmy did not even notice Ginny go pass them one day, as he was so busy studying a Slytherin going in the other direction.

Though curiously, Ginny noticed them and she half-smiled at them for their dedication in learning about the opposition before she continued on her way.

The End

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