|SIYE Time:17:26 on 23rd October 2018|
Bikini Girls on Brooms
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Category: Quidditch Challemge (2014-4)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fluff, General, Humor, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: *** Winner of Most Humorous in the Quidditch Challenge ***
Harry and Ginny visit Portugal for sun, sea, sand, and something else. Bikini Girls on Brooms! Surely the title is enough?
Hitcount: Story Total: 6451
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Real life has been crazy for the past couple of months, and this story was written in some haste in order to meet the Challenge deadline.
No 1950's b-movie titles were harmed during the writing of this story. Although a few tropes were bashed around a bit. I blame the Beaters.
Bikini Girls on Brooms
‘Hi, Ginny,’ Harry called cheerfully, closing her front door behind him.
‘Ola!’ Ginny’s bright and breezy response rang out from the kitchen.
Harry hesitated in the hallway. His nose twitched as he attempted to determine what Ginny was cooking. ‘Fish for dinner?’ he asked as he headed down the hall towards the aroma.
‘Caldeirada,’ Ginny called.
When he entered her small and neat kitchen, she turned from the hob and looked at him hopefully. ‘Well?’ she asked.
‘Robards wasn’t happy,’ Harry told her, shaking his head and trying to look despondent. ‘Short notice! If I want time off work I’m supposed to ask him one month in advance, not one week.’
Ginny’s face fell. ‘But...’
‘But I still managed to persuade him to sign my leave card,’ he said, as her expression forced him to take pity on her.
‘You sod,’ she said, smiling. ‘You shouldn’t lie to me like that.’
‘You lie to me like that all the time,’ he reminded her. ‘At Easter you managed to convince me that you wouldn’t be able to get me a ticket to your first England match. And you kept it going longer.’
Ginny’s eyes widened as she attempted to look both hurt and innocent. ‘That wasn’t lying, I was teasing you!’ she explained.
‘So, when I do it to you, it’s lying, but when you do it to me, it’s teasing?’ he asked, trying not to smile. ‘Is that how it works?’
‘Of course!’ Ginny nodded. Her expression was serious, but her eyes were laughing.
‘I’m glad we’ve straightened that out,’ said Harry, smiling. ‘This is obviously related to Ginny’s First Law: Ginny is always right.’
‘Now you are teasing,’ Ginny told him.
‘Possibly,’ he told her.
Noticing a recipe book open on the table, Harry headed over towards it, but Ginny moved to intercept him. Harry stepped right up to her, and looked down into her bright brown eyes.
‘So, apart from to be with you, why am I taking eight days off work?’ he asked. ‘And no teasing!’
She smiled playfully, put on a thoughtful expression, thrust her chin outwards and upwards, and scratched it.
‘Impersonating Percy preparing to pontificate–and that’s not easy to say–counts as teasing!’ he told her.
He put on a pantomime frown and wagged his forefinger at her. She chuckled.
‘Of course, if I’m spending the time with you, I don’t really need to know why,’ he added thoughtfully as he reached forwards and eased several wayward strands of her shining hair back over her shoulder. ‘Unless, of course, we’re spending the time with your Aunt Muriel, in which case I can guarantee that there will be a major emergency and I’ll be urgently recalled to the office.’
Ginny laughed. ‘You might be taking time off work, Harry,’ she told him, her face sparkling with mischief. ‘But for the first three days I’ll be working, so I probably won’t see much of you. Don’t worry, because you’ll see a lot of me.’ She arched an eyebrow, and prepared herself for his next question.
Harry looked down into her eyes, noticed the puckish wrinkles in their corners and furrowed his brow. ‘What on earth is caldeirada?’ he asked, startling her.
‘Is that how you interrogate your suspects, by asking them a question they aren’t expecting?’
‘Yes, but most of them don’t figure it out as quickly as you just did,’ he admitted. ‘Surprise often works. It knocks them off-guard. I’ll have to try something else with you!’ He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into a hug. When he bent forwards, she puckered for a kiss, but he bypassed her face and instead kissed her neck. She pulled him close.
‘That was certainly surprising,’ she said, purring. ‘And rather romantic.’
‘Caldeirada is a Portuguese fish stew, and you said “Ola” when I got here. Why are we going to Portugal?’ he asked.
She released him, and took a small step backwards. ‘You said you didn’t know what caldeirada is!’ she said, surprised.
‘I didn’t,’ he admitted grinning wickedly. ‘But I can read, and the recipe book is still open on the table behind you. l wasn’t only being surprising and romantic. I also kissed you on the neck so that I could take a peek at the book.’
‘I suppose you think that’s clever,’ she told him, as she tried, and failed, to look cross. ‘Wipe that smug smirk off your face and stop being so sneaky, or there won’t be any dessert for you tonight.’
‘No dessert? That would never do,’ he said. ‘What about deduction? If I promise not to be sneaky can I deduce you?’
‘Is deduce the word you mean?’
‘Possibly,’ he said, grinning. ‘I’m hoping you’ll be attracted by my cleverness.’
‘Okay, Auror Clever Clogs, deduce me,’ she challenged, laughing. She removed his arms from her waist, folded her arms, and gave him a challenging look.
‘You just told me you’d be working,’ Harry began, ‘Working means Quidditch. But the International friendlies are over, so you’ve got no England games for five weeks, not until the European Cup qualifier against San Marino on the eighteenth of August. The new league season doesn’t start until the end of September, so the Harpies don’t have any games scheduled, either. There are only a few days of pre-season training to keep you busy, and that’s only two sessions a week, because you’re all supposed to be resting until two weeks before the Internationals. So, you’re working for the Harpies, but you haven’t got any games for them. Am I right so far?’
Ginny nodded. ‘You can be very deductive sometimes, Senior Auror Potter,’ she admitted, her voice low and sultry.
‘According to Quidditch Today, after the success of last year’s “Harpies: Inside the Changing Room” calendar–and we haven’t even reached my favourite month yet–your team are planning to publish another calendar this year,’ Harry continued. ‘Quidditch Today believe you’re going to be travelling abroad for the photo shoot! Shall I tell them that you’re going to Portugal?’
Ginny stared at him in surprise; curiosity overwhelmed her. ‘I’ve read the latest Quidditch Today, and there’s nothing in it about the calendar,’ she protested.
Harry smiled, and nodded his agreement. ‘I know, but I expect that there’ll be something in the next issue. On my way out of the Ministry tonight I was collared by a reporter who was on his way into the Department of Magical Games and Sports. He had a meeting with someone from the British and Irish Quidditch League, but he asked me what I knew about the rumours about the Harpies 2003 calendar, or what I could tell him about the theme of it. I’ve only just put two and two together. Am I right?’
Ginny laughed, stepped forwards, slid her hands around onto his backside, and kissed him. ‘Very clever, Harry,’ she admitted when they parted. ‘I shouldn’t really be surprised. After all, finding stuff out is what you do for a living, isn’t it?’
‘So, I’m off to Portugal with my fiancée, for a calendar photo shoot,’ he said. ‘Are you going to tell me what the theme is?’
Ginny released him, took two steps backwards, clasped her hands in front of her chest pursed her lips and spoke in an excitable and very effeminate whisper. ‘Hello, ladies, I’m Gerald Ian Tremayne, and your club have given me the job of shooting next year’s Holyhead Harpies calendar with you. We’ll be travelling to Portugal, where you’ll be photographed on a wonderful beach, in swimsuits. Isn’t it exciting?’ As she spoke, Ginny flapped her hands in an animated display of enthusiasm.
‘Gerald Ian?’ said Harry, his eyebrows vanishing under his untidy hair. ‘Swimsuits?’
Ginny’s glance silenced him.
‘Swimsuits? Bikini’s I bet. What’re the Club going to call next year’s calendar, Geraldine?’ said Ginny. She spoke using the low, dry, and rather acerbic tone Harry associated with her fellow Chaser, Gillian “Jill-Gill” Gillfillan. “Harpies: Bikini Girls on Brooms”?’
‘Ooh, you know I rather like that,’ Ginny continued, reverting to the effeminate whisper and flapping hand gestures which Harry was already associating with Gerald Ian Tremayne.
‘Did Jill-Gill really call him Geraldine?’ Harry asked.
Ginny nodded. ‘He didn’t say anything. Either he didn’t notice, or he didn’t mind.’
‘And is he really...’ Harry flapped his hands.
Ginny nodded again. ‘It’s only a three day shoot, so I’ve arranged to stay for five days afterwards. We need to take a holiday, Harry. And we’re not going to Venice with Ron and Hermione.’
‘Definitely not, and they aren’t going to be invited on our honeymoon, either.’
‘Of course not! But we can’t arrange a honeymoon until we set a wedding date, and we can’t do that until the league issue next year’s fixture list,’ said Ginny.
Every year since the Battle, Harry and Ginny had holidayed with Ron and Hermione. Those two week long summer breaks, spent in Rhodes, Majorca, and Crete, had been relaxing, educational, and a refuge from the rigours of the Wizarding world. Harry’s memories of those holidays brought a smile to his face as he stepped out from the cool interior of his tent into the heat of the morning sun. It was already in the high twenties, though noon was almost two hours away.
Harry’s feet were bare, he wore white swim shorts and, in deference to the forthcoming events, a Harpies t-shirt. The air was still, and the bright sunshine prickled his flesh as he soaked up his surroundings. The crescent of fine white sand on which Harry stood was surrounded by precipitous cliffs of red limestone. The sheer cliffs, some sixty feet high, were pockmarked by shallow caves and undercuts.
After his previous holiday experiences, Harry had expected the southern coast of Portugal to be similar to the other southern European countries he’d visited. In many ways it was; the houses, mostly white painted boxes, were like those he’d seen elsewhere. The sea, however, was different; the south-facing beaches of the Algarve faced, not the passive and gentle Mediterranean Sea, but the Atlantic Ocean. Harry watched the powerful waves foam and crash as they assaulted the beach. The noise of the waves reminded him of his first foreign holiday, when he, Ron and Ginny had travelled to Brittany to meet Hermione and her parents.
Harry had arrived with the Harpies the previous afternoon. That evening, before their meal, he and Ginny had flown over the surrounding area, and discovered that the Harpy’s haven–Praia Escondida–was typical of the beaches in the area.
Unlike the Muggle beaches dotted along the coast, Praia Escondida could not be reached by any mundane means. While other beaches could be accessed at low tide, and by steps up to the cliff tops, the magical beach was screened by trees and thick undergrowth. In addition, it was protected by dozens of spells.
The sheltered beach was fairly small; a little under two hundred yards in length from cliff to sea-jutting cliff, it was a fraction more than the length of a Quidditch pitch. At its eastern end two enormous rocks thrust themselves up from the sea. The rock closest to the cliffs was a massive grass-topped molar, the sea surged through the gap between it and the jagged incisor which was further out to sea. The two rocks, each almost as tall as the cliffs, created another incomplete segment of the oval. It was a perfect setting for the photo shoot.
Alongside Harry’s tent were two other small tents, both of which had been provided by the Harpies. The two small tents housed the other guests of the Harpies: one husband, four boyfriends, and a girlfriend. Beyond the tents was the marquee where the players, and everyone else, were staying. The marquee, which was fairly large on the outside, was absolutely enormous on the inside. It had to be, in addition to the Harpies and their management, there were dozens of others involved in the calendar shoot.
As he soaked up his surroundings, Harry’s mind drifted back to the previous evening, to when he and Ginny returned from their flight along the coast and entered the marquee.
Outside it was fairly large; inside, it was a small hotel. A foyer led to a restaurant, and stairs led up to dozens of bedrooms.
They’d dined on steak and chips. To Harry and Ginny’s disappointment the menu, like the staff, was resolutely British.
‘It’s good food,’ said Ginny, sensing his disappointment.
‘True, but that restaurant we saw along the coast was selling fresh bream, swordfish, and red snapper,’ said Harry. ‘I don’t even know what red snapper is.’
‘We’ve only got three days of this,’ Ginny reminded him. ‘Then we can go wherever we want, and eat whatever we want.’
The Harpies’ Press Officer, Andorra Pugh, was sitting on the next table. She leaned closer to Harry and Ginny. ‘Is there a problem with the food?’ she asked anxiously.
‘No,’ Ginny assured her. ‘It’s simply that when we go on holiday, we like to sample the local food. These are good steaks, but we could eat this food anywhere.’
‘Some of this lot would riot if you tried to make them eat something “foreign”,’ said Andorra quietly.
‘So would Harry’s Uncle, I think that’s why he’s so keen to try new stuff,’ Ginny said.
Harry sniggered. As he looked around the restaurant, he was struck by how full it was. ‘How many people does it take to produce one calendar?’ he asked Andorra.
Andorra smiled. ‘It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Apart from the players, there are: Gwenog, two trainers and our Healer. And Gerry Tremayne has a staff of four. Then there’s the chef, and his assistants, and the maids, and the equipment staff...’
‘The equipment staff! Five people to look after fourteen brooms,’ Ginny interjected.
‘And the Quaffle, the Bludgers and the Snitch,’ Harry reminded her.
‘Yeah, that’s a lot of work!’ Ginny grinned.
‘And there are four makeup artists, a wardrobe manager and two assistants...’
‘That’s a lot of makeup artists and wardrobe people for fourteen people wearing very small bikinis,’ Ginny interrupted again, winking at Harry.
‘Fifty six bikinis,’ Andorra said. ‘You’ll have a choice of four tops, and four bottoms. That’s sixteen combinations for fourteen players. And you’re not all the same size.’
‘And Myfanwy manages to rip at least one item of clothing every training session,’ Ginny observed, nodding towards the broad-shouldered six-foot tall Beater who was busily tearing into the second steak on her plate. ‘One flex of her pecs wrecks anything.’
‘How long did it take you to come up with that one?’ Harry asked, laughing.
‘And then there’s the guests,’ Andorra said, refusing to be put off. ‘There are forty eight people staying in this marquee, and then there’s you, Harry, and our other six guests in the other tents. So, to answer your question, it takes fifty-five people to produce a calendar.’
‘This marquee is full to capacity, the equipment staff are sharing rooms,’ observed Ginny. ‘But there’s plenty of room in Harry’s tent.’
Andorra shook her head resolutely. ‘Until we’re finished here, the pre-match rules apply, Ginny. You know what Gwenog’s like! If Jill-Gill isn’t allowed to be with her husband, you’ve got no chance.’
Several sun loungers had been set up at the back of the beach; Harry placed a towel and his as yet unopened book on one of them, and then propped up the back, and sat. Touching the side of his glasses to tint them, he looked at the other guests. He wasn’t the only person staring down the beach. A couple of the men were lying on their sun loungers but the others were, like him, sitting up and observing the events unfolding in front of them.
A large and expensive-looking camera was being set up at the edge of the waves by a man whose long, blond-streaked brown hair was tied up in a bun. Although he still hadn’t been introduced, the way the man’s hands were flapping was enough to make Harry certain that this was the photographer, Gerry Tremayne.
Tremayne was obviously flustered and, even with his assistants scampering–ant-like–around him, it took him a long time to set up his equipment. Harry checked his watch. The first day’s shooting was supposed to start at ten o’clock, but it was already half past.
It was almost fifteen minutes later when the Harpies were herded onto the beach. Harry watched as thirteen women were led from the largest tent on the beach and down towards the waves. All wore bikinis in the colours, dark green and gold, of the Harpies. Some were more self-conscious about the fact than others. The bikini-clad women were surrounded by several makeup artists and photographer’s assistants. Ginny, who was leading the way, turned and gave Harry a cheery wave which he returned.
Thirteen women! The Harpies squad was fourteen-strong; Harry did a recount, and confirmed the number. There had been much concern the previous afternoon, when Olivia Aikenhead–the Australian international Quidditch player who was their first team Seeker–had failed to arrive in time for the International Portkey. The Harpies Solicitor, Nicola Macallan had been forced to stay in Holyhead in order to track her down. Olivia’s continued absence was evidence that Nicola had been unsuccessful. Although Harry was at some forty metres from the action, he could tell that everyone was on edge because of the absence of one of the three, International standard players on the Harpies squad.
Harry wanted to move closer but, at the end of the meal the previous evening Gwenog Jones had made it clear that the “guests” could not approach the photographer during the shoot and that under no circumstances could they photograph the action. Thoughts of Olivia fled from his mind as he watched his fiancee standing on the beach and taking instructions from the flamboyant photographer.
Ginny backed away from the camera, raised her arms, lowered her arms, turned sideways, and then turned her back on the camera to look over her shoulder at it. It was only when he saw the back view that Harry realised how much of his girlfriend’s freckled flesh was on display. From the front Ginny’s bikini was three small triangles, from the back it was almost invisible, no more than shoelaces. The photographer gestured again. Ginny sat on the beach. She tucked up her legs, stretched out her legs, lay on her back, rolled over onto her stomach, and finally stood and walked out into the waves. At another gesture from Gerry, she swam back towards the beach, allowing herself to be carried into the shore by a wave. She didn’t stand until the water was knee high.
The photographer ran forward, excitedly waving his arms. He pointed, and after a conversation almost as brief af her costume, Ginny nodded, turned, and once again swam out into the waves. This time, when she turned, she dived under the wave. When she surfaced and stood, she stared up the beach at Harry, a sultry smile on her lips. Flicking her head to bring her sodden hair to the hair to the side, she grabbed the water-darkened strands in both hands, and squeezed the water from them. The action made Harry’s heart beat faster, but it apparently wasn’t good enough, because the photographer made her repeat the maneouvre twice more.
After the third attempt, Ginny walked out from the waves and headed up the beach. Before she had reached the camera, a young woman stepped forwards to hand her a bright yellow Harpies branded towel. Ginny’s fellow Chaser, Tegan Godolphin, then stepped forwards, a parasol in her hand. Harry barely noticed the fact that Tegan was beginning to pose, because Ginny was moving purposefully towards him. He stood to greet her.
‘It’s not even lunchtime, and that’s me finished for the day,’ she said. She was towelling her hair as she approached.
‘Only for the day?’ Harry asked. ‘Wasn’t that good enough for the calendar? What on earth do they want you to do for the next two days? Have they told you?’
‘Yes, Gwenog told us in a secret briefing this morning,’ Ginny confirmed. ‘I can’t tell anyone at all.’
‘So, what are you doing for the next two days?’ Harry asked again.
‘Secret briefing!’ said Ginny firmly as she wrapped the towel around her.
‘No secrets, we agreed,’ Harry reminded her.
Ginny glanced pointedly at the occupants of the other sun loungers. ‘Let’s walk along to the other end of the beach,’ she suggested. ‘But take off that t-shirt first. You need some sun.’
Harry did as he was told. She took the hand he offered her, and they strolled barefoot across the warm sand until they were as far as they could get from the action taking place along the shoreline. Ginny removed the towel from around her waist, laid it on the sand, and sat on it. Shuffling to one side, she patted the spot next to her. Harry dropped onto the damp towel alongside her.
‘Tegan insisted on the parasol,’ Ginny said, staring down to the shoreline. ‘Now we know why.’
Harry followed her gaze. Tegan had removed her bikini top. She had her back to the photographer, so the camera’s view was restricted. From where Harry was sitting, he could see everything. When Tegan turned to face the camera she gave him a cheery wave, and then used the parasol as a screen.
‘You don’t have to watch,’ Ginny observed sharply.
‘You’re the one who brought them to my attention,’ Harry reminded her.
Lying back on the towel, he placed his hands behind his head, turned, and looked up into Ginny’s face. ‘This is a much better view,’ he said contentedly. ‘Now, what top secret things are you doing for the next two days?’
Ginny rolled sideways, stretched out her legs alongside his, and lowered herself down to rest her breasts on his sternum. Their faces were only inches apart. Unable to stop himself, Harry lifted his head and kissed her while, at the same time, sliding a hand down to grab her buttock.
‘Hands off the merchandise,’ she growled threateningly. He ignored her.
‘Talk,’ he demanded, giving her a squeeze. She laughed.
‘Tomorrow we’re doing the cover photo,’ she told him. ‘It’s going to be a group shot. First, they’re going to photograph us all walking up the beach, that’s the easy shot, just in case the other one doesn’t work out. Gerry has got a great idea for a team shot, but it’s going to be difficult. He wants us all on our brooms, and underwater. We’ll be given a signal and we’ll all fly up, burst out from the waves and then fly low over the beach, either side of his camera. Myfanwy, Rhiannon and titillating Tegan aren’t happy, because none of them can swim. And on top of that the plan relies on us using the Bubble-Head Charm to organise ourselves underwater, but half the girls don’t know how to cast it!’ Ginny shook her head in disbelief. ‘Even if we can get everyone underwater, it’ll probably take all day to get a shot where Gerry is happy with the way every one of us looks.’
‘If it works, it’ll look brilliant,’ said Harry.
‘If it works,’ said Ginny. ‘And the following day, we’re going to play a match. The plan is to mix and match the glamour shots from today with action shots from the match, and have one big image and several smaller ones for each month. I hope they choose an action shot for my main picture because, unlike Tegan, I’m not really keen on being seen as a topless beach babe.’
‘Never mind topless, from where I was sitting, from the back, you looked bottomless.’
That evening, when Harry and the other guests walked into the marquee tent for their evening meal, the atmosphere was tense. Harpies’ manager Gwenog Jones, press officer Andorra Pugh, and solicitor Nicola Macallan were in a huddle, while Ginny and her teammates looked on anxiously. When he noticed Nicola, Harry looked for first-team Seeker Olivia Aikenhead. She was nowhere to be seen. Ginny’s mind was obviously elsewhere, as she hadn’t seen him enter. When Myfanwy nodded in his direction, Ginny broke away from her teammates and dashed towards him. One glance showed him that she was a simmering stew of emotions.
‘What’s...’ Harry began.
Ginny didn’t allow him to say another word. ‘Olivia’s gone! Australia,’ said Ginny. ‘She’s been signed by Thundelarra Thunderers. They spent a fortune to buy her out from her Harpies’ contract. We all knew she was a bit homesick, but no one knew she was leaving! Nicola found the paperwork on her desk; it had been delivered just after we left. Olivia didn’t say anything to me, or any of the other girls. Gwenog is absolutely furious, and not only about the calendar. We only have one Seeker, Harry! Jeannie is supposed to be our new reserve, she only signed her contract last week and she’s never played a professional match! Gwenog needs sign a second, more experienced Seeker before the season starts.’
‘What’s going to happen about the match for the calendar?’ Harry asked. ‘You can’t play with only one Seeker. I suppose you could draft Andorra in as a Chaser, everyone says she was pretty good before she retired, but then you’d have to move one of the Chasers into the second Seeker position. Of the six of you, who is the best...’
Harry stopped and shook his head at his own stupidity. ‘Sometimes I’m an idiot. It’s you, of course, and you don’t want that. You want to be photographed in the action, in your usual position as Chaser.’ He looked across at Gwenog. ‘Is that what they’re discussing?’
‘You need another Seeker right now. I’ll help in any way I can, Ginny,’ he offered. ‘Where is the nearest Portuguese club? Where can we find a professional standard Seeker at such short no...’ he saw the gleam in his girlfriend’s eye. ‘No!’ he protested. ‘One: I’m not good enough. Two, I’m not female!’
‘You’re good enough, Harry,’ she assured him. She grabbed his hand and dragged him across to Gwenog Jones. ‘Harry will play Seeker for us,’ she said.
‘Harry!’ Gwenog shook her head. ‘Impossible.’
‘We could make it work for us, Gwenog,’ said Andorra excitedly. ‘Think of the headlines.’
‘Think of Harry Potter in a bikini,’ Tegan said.
Her teammates cheered and jeered.
‘I’m not wearing a bikini,’ he said. Tegan smirked, and opened her mouth. ‘Or a thong,’ he added.
Harry saw rather less of the cover shoot than he wanted. Instead he spent much of the day on his broom, practicing. He was well aware that the Harpies were all talking about him. It wasn’t a real match, everyone knew that; but according to Andorra this was the first time in the club’s eight hundred year history that a wizard had played for the team, even in a friendly practice match. Harry was in no doubt that the Harpies publicity machine would make much of that fact.
At least he wouldn’t actually appear on the calendar, not even in the background. Gerry Tremayne was confident that he could magically remove Harry from every shot.
As he stood on the beach, his broom in his hand, Harry’s thoughts turned to the future. Thanks to Ginny, the Harpies were his team, he’d never follow another. He wondered how well they would do in the forthcoming season. They had now lost three members from the previous season’s League-winning squad. In addition to the missing Seeker, both the Harpies first team Beaters had hung up their bats at the end of the previous season. The Chasers were all experienced, though some were more experienced than others. Ginny, Jill-Gill and Tegan were the first team regulars, and the three reserves had all played well when they’d been given a place. In addition, the team’s lanky Keeper, Rhiannon Johns, was a Welsh International player and widely regarded as one of the best Keepers in the league.
Harry looked at the other bikini-clad women surrounding him, and tried to assess their potential. Thanks to Olivia’s departure, the Harpies only Seeker was a teenager who was fresh from Hogwarts. He looked at the lean, thin-faced girl and wondered how good she was. At least all four of the Beaters were hungry to make the first team. To do that they would need to impress Gwenog, who had moved from Captain to manager. This was their opportunity, and they knew it.
Gwenog, who would be refereeing, had randomly pulled names from a hat. One team would play in gold, the other in dark green. Once the dark green team was chosen, those remaining were placed in the gold team. After the draw, Harry had been provided with a pair of swimming trunks in dark green. Ginny, however, was in a gold bikini identical in style to the one she’d worn on the first day.
As he looked at the players, Harry tried to assess his team’s chances. The teams were, he thought, fairly evenly matched. His team had Gillian “Jill-Gill” Gillfillan, and Keeper Rhiannon Johns had been made captain. Ginny, however, was on the opposing team with fellow Chaser, and her captain for the game, Tegan. Ginny’s former flatmate, Linny Baker was one of his team’s Beaters, the other was Myfanwy Hughes, a woman who was taller, broader in the shoulder, and much more muscular than him.
‘Why is the Healer here?’ Gerry asked, bringing Harry’s deliberations to an end. The photographer’s voice was soft and feminine, just like Ginny’s impersonation of it.
Gwenog, who was wearing a white two-piece costume, looked at Gerry as if he were mad. ‘To deal with any injuries, of course!’ she replied scornfully.
‘Injuries?’ Gerry’s voice shook with worry. ‘This is only a photoshoot for a calendar. Why on earth would there be injuries?’
‘Ever watched a Quidditch match, pal?’ Linny asked.
‘Yes, but I don’t like them much,’ Gerry said. ‘They’re so violent! I’m grateful that this isn’t a real game.’
‘Not a real game?’ said Jill-Gill acerbically. ‘I don’t know what you mean!’
‘One team will win, and the other will lose,’ Gwenog told the photographer firmly. She turned to address the Harpies. ‘Is there anyone here who doesn’t want to be on the winning team?’
‘No,’ both teams shouted.
Harry found himself joining in with the cry. A hefty hand slapped him on the back.
‘Good for you, Harry,’ Myfanwy told him. His teammates nodded their agreement.
‘You can’t play in that t-shirt, Harry,’ Linny said. ‘It’s white, apart from that weird Muggle logo, and we’re the dark-greens.’
‘Off, off, OFF!’ every player, apart from Ginny, roared.
Harry looked at his girlfriend. She shrugged. He looked at the assembled players, reached for the back of the collar, and pulled off the white Wychwood Breweries t-shirt he was wearing.
‘Is that all you’ve got…’ Tegan began, but then even she lapsed into silence.
‘That’s a lot of scars,’ said Myfanwy quietly.
‘It is,’ said Harry. He folded his arms put on a petulant pout, and tried to sound feminine. ‘But really! Surely you lot know how annoying it is when people stare at your chest, not your face.’
The Harpies all laughed.
‘Rhiannon doesn’t,’ Tegan observed, creating a second wave of mirth as the initial laughter began to fade.
Rhiannon looked ruefully down at her chest. ‘They’re not going to get any bigger now,’ she said.
‘Come on you lot!’ Gwenog ordered. ‘I want less gossip and more Quidditch. Let’s get started. Greens, here!’ she pointed at a spot on the sand. Golds here!’ she gestured to another spot.
The two teams organised themselves in the standard match order: Seeker, Chasers, and then Beaters, with the Keeper bringing up the rear. Harry, at the head of the Green team, looked along the line. Two of his teammates, Rhiannon and Myfanwy, were taller than he was, and Linny was almost his height.
‘Shake hands,’ Gwenog ordered, indicating that Jeannie Pinder should lead her team forward.
The Seeker nodded, and her long ponytail of dark brown hair flicked across her bare back. She stepped up to Harry and shook his hand. ‘May the best woman catch the Snitch,’ she said, grinning.
‘We’ll see about that,’ said Harry.
Tegan was next. ‘Scared?’ she asked smugly as she shook his hand.
‘I’ve faced worse things than seven women wearing bikinis,’ Harry told her. ‘But, thinking about it, not much worse!’
Tegan grinned, and for a moment Harry thought she was going to embrace him. Ginny let out a low growl, and Tegan moved on. Ginny stepped forwards.
‘Warm up,’ Ginny demanded.
‘Don’t,’ Rhiannon called from the other end of Harry’s line. ‘If you don’t snog her it’ll put her off her game.’
‘Sorry Rhiannon, but the warm up works for both of us,’ Harry told the Keeper. He held out his arms, Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck, jumped into his arms, and they kissed.
‘Enough,’ Gwenog ordered almost a minute later.
With some reluctance, Harry and Ginny parted.
‘I intend to be on the winning team,’ Ginny told him as they shook hands.
‘Of course you do,’ said Harry, grinning. ‘So do I, and that means one of us is going to be disappointed.’
They shook hands. ‘It’ll be you!’ she assured him. He fought the urge to kiss her again.
The remaining members of the gold team simply wished him good luck, and hurried on to shake the hands of their teammates.
‘Okay Harpies,’ Gwenog bellowed.
‘And Harry,’ Ginny added.
‘Let’s fly!’ Gwenog ignored Ginny’s interruption.
Harry kicked himself into the still air. It was late morning, and it was already the hottest day they’d had. He was still climbing when balls were released. The whistle sounded, and the match began.
Harry soared high above the action and began his search for the Snitch. Below him, the action was fast and furious. All four Beaters were fighting hard to gain control of the Bludgers. The Chasers were rapidly passing and occasionally intercepting the Quaffle in an attempt to get close to the hoops. When Ginny’s first attempt at a goal was saved by Rhiannon, Harry groaned on disappointment. A snigger alongside him brought him to his senses.
‘Thanks,’ he told Jeannie Pinder ruefully.
He wasn’t a spectator, he reminded himself. He wasn’t there to watch Ginny play, and will her to score. This was a real match, and she was on the opposing team.
Since leaving school, Harry’s Quidditch career had been restricted to friendly pick-up games at The Burrow with the Weasleys and the Ministry’s Inter-departmental Quidditch League. The previous year, Harry’s Auror Office team had finished second. First place inevitably went to the British and Irish Quidditch League team from the Department for Magical Sports and Games. This was hardly surprising, The skill of their office Quidditch team and the appalling state of their filing system were both a direct consequence of their clerical appointments all being retired players.
The game unfolding below him was faster than any he’d ever played in. Jill-Gill intercepted a pass from Ginny and sped headlong towards the other end of the pitch before anyone, even her teammates, could turn and give chase. She thought she had only the Keeper to beat, and seemed unaware of the Bludger which had been battered towards her. Harry dived, and interposed himself between Jill-Gill and the Bludger. When the Bludger changed direction to follow him, Harry sped towards the hoops and at the last minute pulled his broom up into a tight loop. The Bludger failed to keep up with his manoeuvre and instead sped towards the Keeper, who panicked and left Jill-Gill with an open goal.
‘Goal, and the first ten points of the game to the Greens,’ Gwenog shouted.
Jill-Gill turned, embraced Harry, and kissed him. Within seconds the pair were surrounded by their teammates and Harry found himself unable to see, or feel, anything other than female flesh. He felt himself blushing, and when someone squeezed his backside, he hastily dropped out from the mob.
‘Wassamatter, did we embarrass you?’ Myfanwy yelled as Gwenog warned his teammates that she was about to restart the match.
Rhiannon Johns was having a tremendous game, and Harry could see that Ginny was becoming frustrated by the number of saves his team’s Keeper was making. After almost forty minutes in the air, and with no sign of the Snitch, Harry’s team were winning, eighty points to thirty.
The sun was high, the sky was cloudless, and finding the Snitch seemed to be an impossible task. Jeannie Pinder looped and soared as she searched, Harry moved more slowly. Then he saw it.
He had to look twice. Playing above golden sand and glittering water made the search difficult. What he’d first though was merely sun glistening on the sea was, in fact, the Snitch. He pushed the nose of his broom down, and dropped rapidly from the sky. Jeannie spotted his move, and Harry instantly knew that the speed of his move had given away the location of the Snitch. The gold team Seeker followed him into a dive, but she was some distance behind him.
Almost immediately, Harry became aware that both Bludgers had been hit towards him. His team’s Beaters weren’t much help. Although Myfanwy had a strike which could probably knock a Bludger into orbit, she was slow in the sky. As she was at the other end of the pitch, she wouldn’t intercept the Bludgers in time. Linny was much faster, and his only hope, but the Bludger closest to her was coming straight out of the sun. She miss hit it, and he heard the crack as it bounced off her ribs and continued on its way.
He had no choice. Ignoring the rapidly approaching Bludgers he concentrated on the tiny golden ball, which was darting inches above the water like a demented dragonfly. He was only a few feet from it when it plunged into the waves and out of sight. In desperation Harry reached down after it, only to be caught by a huge breaker. As he shook the seawater from his eyes, he realised that Bludgers were almost on him.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed his broom down and dived into the sea. The Bludgers followed, but the impact with the water slowed them considerably. Even so, they were faster through the water than he was. His breath running out, Harry looked up, there were four indistinct figures above him. He pulled his broom up and shot out of the water between four Beaters. Despite the rapidly purpling bruise on her side, Linny was still trying to do her job. The Bludgers emerged seconds later, and Linny angrily bashed the one which had hit her into the sand. Harry heard the photographer squeal.
The Snitch lost, Harry again climbed up above the action. As he did so, Jill-Gill scored another spectacular goal, and Harry reassessed the capabilities of the Harpies reserve Keeper. After this goal, however, there were no celebrations. Linny took the opportunity to land in front of the Harpies’ Healer while Rhiannon yelled instructions to the rest of her team.
As Harry continued to watch for the Snitch, his team slowly increased their lead. On three occasions Ginny managed to get the Quaffle past Rhiannon and through the hoops, and Tegan scored once, but over the same period Harry’s team scored seven times.
The score had been stuck at one-hundred-and-fifty to seventy for some time when, Jeannie accelerated past him, her foot only inches from his left ear. Harry turned, and saw the Snitch in the distance. By the time he’d pulled his broom round, Jeannie was well ahead of him. She was much closer to the Snitch than he was, and he knew he’d never catch her. There was a thunderclap as Myfanwy hammered a Bludger towards the opposing Seeker. Ginny was racing towards it in a desperate attempt to divert it, but it was obvious to Harry that she wouldn’t make it.
The cheer which accompanied another goal for his team didn’t divert him. Jeannie tried to roll under the Bludger, but it caught her solidly on the shoulder. She lost control and tumbled downwards. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw her fighting frantically with her rapidly revolving broom. Harry saw his chance. He dived for the Snitch, but before he could close, Ginny deliberately collided with him.
It was a substantial collision. Harry’s face bounced off flesh, and he was brought to an abrupt halt. In his attempt to stay on his broom his arm flailed, he grabbed a handful of flesh and steadied himself. Trying to focus, he realised that he’d lost his glasses in the crash. He had his girlfriend, not the Snitch, in his hands. Ignoring his swearing, and the whistle, Ginny coolly removed his hand from her thigh and grinned at him.
‘Foul, blatching!’ Gwenog shouted. ‘Deliberate block on the green team’s Seeker.’
‘Better a penalty, and the possible loss of ten points, than losing the game,’ said Ginny. ‘You’ve watched enough professional games to know that, Harry.’
‘You deliberately fouled me,’ said Harry, still unable to believe it.
‘And I’d do it again,’ she told him. She gave him the briefest of kisses, unhooked his glasses from the strap of her bikini top, and handed them to him. ‘That might have been enjoyable if we’d both been going a little slower,’ she told him as she flew away.
Jill-Gill took the penalty and scored, giving Harry’s team a lead of one hundred points. Harry, still astonished by what had happened, joined in the cheers. When the game restarted Jeannie Pinder climbed slowly skyward to rejoin him. Her arm was badly grazed from elbow to shoulder, and it was already beginning to bruise.
‘Not like Hogwarts, is it?’ she asked. ‘Of course the complete lack of any protective equipment coupled with a wet, sand-covered, Bludger doesn’t help, either.’
‘How is it?’ Harry asked.
‘Hurts like hell,’ she told him, moving her arm cautiously as she once again began her search.
They both saw the Snitch skimming low over the sand and they dived simultaneously. They flew down through a knot of players, twisted past a poorly hit Bludger which could have been aimed at either of them, and pulled out from their dives almost side by side as the second Bludger unable to turn so quickly, thumped into the sand behind them. Harry was focussed on the Snitch, and was surprised when Jeannie swerved. He looked into the distance and realised that the tiny golden ball was about to pass between the legs of the photographer.
Harry tried to pull himself upwards, but the tail of his broom brushed the sand, scattering grains and preventing him from lifting the broom skywards. Leaning sideways, his elbow grazed the sand. Although he’d avoided the photographer, he’d lost a lot of ground.
Jeannie was closing on the Snitch, but both Bludgers were now hurtling towards her, and there was no one to intercept them. Once again, the Snitch was skimming above the sea. As Harry sped towards the Snitch, it dropped into the sea. Jeannie Pinder threw herself from her broom and dived into the water after it.
The Bludgers cannoned into each other, impacting just above Jeannie’s hastily abandoned broom. There was silence, and everyone stared at the point where the teenage Seeker had vanished beneath the waves. Half a minute passed, and every player sped towards the place where Jeannie had last been seen. Several feet away from the hovering Harpies, an arm reached up from the water. Harry’s relief at seeing it was tempered by the fact that the Snitch was in the waving hand.
Coughing, retching, and smiling in triumph, Jeannie Pinder struggled through the waves. Within seconds, her teammates had leapt from their brooms and joined her in the water.
‘The gold team wins, two hundred and twenty points to one hundred and seventy,’ Gwenog announced. ‘Well played everyone.’
Jill-Gill landed next to Harry put her arm around him, and gave him a consoling hug. ‘You’d have got it, if that bloody stupid photographer wasn’t in the way,’ she said. ‘It was a good game.’
‘Would’ve been better if we’d won,’ he said.
‘Then you should’ve simply flown straight through Gerry,’ she said dryly. ‘Sod everything else, just catch the bloody Snitch.’ She stared across at the young Seeker. ‘I reckon we’ve found a good ‘un.’
‘Hey,’ Tegan shouted. ‘Jill-Gill’s got her arm around Harry. It must be “everyone hug Harry” time.’
He tried to pick up his broom and flee, but Myfanwy grabbed him from behind, and she was bigger, and a lot stronger than he was.
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