Ginny Weasley was a blessing.
She had somehow managed to help both Jimmy and Ritchie rewrite their essays for History of Magic and scrape in an Exceed Expectations mark, meaning they avoided inevitable detention, and meaning they would be available to fly out to play for Gryffindor with the rest of the team that coming Saturday.
'And I'll get to watch her change into her Quidditch uniform as well,' Jimmy had added inappropriately.
It appeared not to be a one off, either, for the rest of the week she sat with them, talking about homework, Quidditch tactics and hexes her twin brothers Fred and George had taught her to potentially take out players from the Slytherin team. They had no idea where her sudden interest in them came from - other than perhaps the Saturday in Hogsmeade where they had spent the entirety of it drinking Butterbeer and talking Quidditch, they rarely saw one another - but nevertheless, they went along with it and enjoyed her company all the same, she was intelligent after all and often picked up on their mistakes.
After finally acknowledging that Katie Bell indeed would not be returning to Hogwarts before their first game of the season, Harry, entrusted with the Captaincy, had decided to skip another tryout fiasco and picked Dean Thomas as temporary replacement (he did fly the best out of the rest at tryouts the start of the year). This meant that he only had one week to train with the team, but surprisingly it went well, despite the fact that they had split at the start of the year, there appeared to be no lingering hate between he and Ginny.
Jimmy hadn't been too pleased at all with the idea, despite having to acknowledge also that Dean worked pretty well with them.
'I'm not happy about this, Rich,' Jimmy hissed through gritted teeth, glaring at Ginny, Dean and Demelza ascending the lawns of Hogwarts a little bit in front of them, their last practice before Saturday's game had just ended. 'Look at him, laughing at everything Ginny says, like he still thinks he can get her back-'
'You sound like she's your girlfriend,' Ritchie pointed out, it had all been quite the chuckle for him.
Jimmy hesitated. 'I just don't want to see her get hurt again,' he said clearly.
'So you're more like a brother to her then, are you?' Ritchie said in amusement. 'Speaking of her brother, I'm more unhappy with him being on our team at the moment than Dean-'
'Why?' Jimmy asked, not taking his gaze off of the three figures in front of them.
'He's useless,' said Ritchie, 'he didn't save a single thing tonight, weren't you watching?'
Jimmy didn't respond; instead he quickened his pace when the three figures up ahead became silhouettes and they disappeared into the Entrance Hall.
'Of course you weren't,' Ritchie answered for him, putting in longer strides to keep up. 'It's because he's the Captain's best friend, it doesn't matter that he couldn't catch a beach ball, or that he snaps at other team mates when things are going wrong. He's Potter's mate, and that's the end of it-'
The both stumbled up the steps in their haste, causing Ritchie to stop mid-sentence. When they got into the Entrance hall, Jimmy quickly looked up the main staircase, it was empty.
'Where did they go?' Jimmy snapped, looking from the staircase, to the doors of the Great Hall, to a broom cupboard in the corner.
'Common room, I expect,' Ritchie said casually, walking past his mate who stood still and beginning to ascend the staircase, 'let's just go.'
'They had better not be getting back together,' Jimmy told Ritchie unhappily, following him up the staircase, 'it would be just like my luck, to finally have her within my grasp, only for her to be taken swiftly away from me.'
'Well let's hope that your luck is a bit better on Saturday,' Ritchie said, 'and that we all get a little lucky, because we're going to need everything we can get to beat Slytherin.'
The day of the first Quidditch match of the year finally arrived and the school was abuzz with excitement in the early parts of the morning. Both Jimmy and Ritchie woke very early, unable to sleep, and instead they lay quietly talking to each other so as to not to wake their fellow dorm mates; they discussed patterns and tactics that they would put into place for the day and hopefully help them get that victory.
Eventually, when their dormitories became much lighter, they made their way down to breakfast, determined to get at least some food down for their strength.
Though they had seen it happen to others in the years previous, it was still a hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck feeling walking into the Great Hall and receiving a round applause (and an occasional "boo" from the Slytheirns) from those who were up as early as them and at the Gryffindor table. Jimmy at first had thought someone more important than them from the team was behind them and when he realised it was indeed for them, he felt a little weird.
He had the same feeling of sensation in his stomach as he did when Ginny smiled at him, and could only nervously acknowledge their applause with a wave as he took a seat with Ritchie at the table.
After receiving a few jibes of "good luck" from surrounding students that were not just Gryffindor's, they ate what they could muster and then joined in when the much louder and much longer applause rang out for Harry Potter's arrival, his mate Ron in his wake. He acknowledged them slightly, before stopping at Jimmy and Ritchie to pat them on the back and ask them how they were going and were they ready.
There was one more murmur of applause when the rest of the team arrived, including Ginny, but the biggest cheer yet was at the end of breakfast, as Harry stood, beckoned his team loudly to follow, and the Great Hall erupted. Jimmy and Ritchie were the last to leave the Great Hall and they both had huge smiles spread across their faces as the large doors closed behind them.
'I don't know what it is,' Ritchie said to Jimmy, as they walked behind their team mates across the Entrance Hall, 'but I have this feeling inside my gut, there's something about today, I don't know what it is, but it's a good feeling more than a bad one.'
Before Jimmy could reply, a loud roar made everyone in the Entrance Hall jump, including the Quidditch team. Hurried footsteps could be heard bouncing off the high walls, and everyone looked up to see Luna Lovegood descending the marble staircase, wearing her obnoxious life-sized lion's head hat, and making a beam line for Harry.
She flung her arms around him and kissed him firmly on the mouth, whilst the rest of the Quidditch team filtered around them and out into the grounds. Jimmy noticed that Ginny in particular stared at the two them for a little bit longer than anyone else, and whether there was jealousy in those eyes or not he was not sure, he put it to the back of his mind quickly, intending to think about it later.
Ritchie's comment about having a good feeling in the pit of his stomach appeared to be spreading through everyone like wildfire descending the lawns to the Quidditch stadium - conditions were ideal, the sun was out, and late news had came in that a Slytherin Chaser had not healed from being knocked out at training. It really started to become suspicious when the Captain himself - Draco Malfoy - had deemed himself far too sick to play.
'Who?' Jimmy had asked after Ritchie had told him this, just as Ginny had began to open her locker and pull her Quidditch robes on.
Jimmy and Ritchie both had butterflies in their stomach as they stood with their brooms over their shoulders, waiting to walk out onto the pitch.
'Hey,' came a small voice from behind them, and Ginny squeezed herself between the two. 'Nervous?'
They both nodded without a word.
'You boys will do fine,' she said in a very reassuring way, 'just have fun, and good luck.'
And as Ginny leant up to kiss them both on the cheek in turn, Jimmy was only half-aware that the doors in front of them suddenly flew open and blinded them with bright sunshine. As the rest of the team around them mounted their brooms, Ritchie nudged Jimmy back to reality, and they took off after their team and onto the pitch.
'Smells a bit fishy, doesn't it?' Ritchie said, 'Malfoy deciding not to play and all. I saw him at breakfast, he looked OK to me.'
Jimmy and Ritchie lay in the exact same positions as they had on the night of their first ever practice session. Gryffindor had won the match, quite easily as a matter of fact, after it seemed apparent from the very first whistle that they could do no wrong; Ginny, Demelza and Dean all scored a combined one hundred points to nothing before Harry had caught the Snitch and won the game from right under the opposing Seeker's nose.
Ritchie had been clutching at straws about where all of today's luck had suddenly come from, he talked about the possibility of conspiracy theories, involvements of werewolves and - what was probably the most likely of all his scenarios - it had been the start of a long-winded plan by Lord Voldemort to get to Harry somehow. Truthfully, he was trying to find a way around the fact that Ron, the Keeper, had come good in such a quick turnaround, right after he, Ritchie, had declared him useless not two nights ago.
'It might be luck,' Jimmy debated, 'it might be any one of those things,' he said also, 'but who cares? Just ride the wave mate, victory is awesome.'
Ritchie fell silent - he could at least agree to that.
He shifted his gaze towards the castle, and to one of the higher towers, where the rest of Gryffindor were undoubtedly celebrating said victory without the slightest bit of curiosity on how they'd managed it so easily.
'Do you think they notice we aren't there?' Ritchie asked him after several minutes of silence.
'Who?' Jimmy asked back.
Ritchie pointed to Gryffindor tower - it was easy to spot in the dark, it was the only tower on the castle that had multi-coloured lights pouring from its windows.
'Probably not,' Jimmy shrugged.
'Should we head back then?' Ritchie asked hesitantly. 'I don't think I've ever walked into a room, knowing that you're going to get bombarded-'
'You go,' Jimmy urged to him, 'I'd rather do without the attention, when there's a chance I might find them kissing in a corner somewhere.'
Ritchie's automatic response to this might have been to ask who he meant by "them", but he had a sneaking suspicious he knew what Jimmy meant.
'I'm just going to lie here, and picture her in her skins forever.'
Eventually, after a lot of rambling to one another about what they should do, they finally decided to return to the Gryffindor common room. But it was too late, it seemed, for in the time that it took them to make up their minds, the party had well and truly dispersed - most likely because Professor McGonagall had not wanted the celebrations to go on all night, and had put an end to it.
'To be honest,' Ritchie said as they made their way up the boys staircase to their dormitory, 'I'm quite glad I didn't have to put up with Colin Creevy asking for a blow-by-blow analysis of the match from my point of view.'
'He will no doubt ask still, but in the morning,' Jimmy pointed out, making Ritchie groan.
The other boys in their year had not taken to continuing any sort of parties in their dormitory, as the curtains around all their four-posters were drawn, and heavy breathing filled the otherwise silent air. So Jimmy and Ritchie quietly bid each other a good night and twitched the hangings of their four-poster to block out the ray of moonlight covering the room.
Ritchie fell asleep almost instantly, but Jimmy lay-back against his pillow and stared at the ceiling for quite a while before sleeping. His thoughts were of Ginny, obviously, but they were mixed and unclear - had she and Dean got back together tonight? Could the fact that Dean being put onto the Quidditch team, and them winning their first game so easily, return any sort of spark that might still linger between them?
There was no way of knowing if any of this was true tonight though, but if they had, and he'd lost his chance with her, Jimmy would hate himself for being so reluctant; he and Ritchie had just began to grow a friendship with the redhead, she might even have said "yes" if he'd had the balls to ask her to the next Hogsmeade visit, even if that had meant going as friends, with Ritchie in tow.