Realizations by potterfan2008

Summary: The year after the war was a confusing time for the teen warriors. They had fought against the greatest evil - what was next? Follow them as they try to find out. Canon pairings.
Rating: R starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Post-Hogwarts
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2012.02.26
Updated: 2017.07.10


Chapter 1: Chapter 1 - Ron's Realizations
Chapter 2: Chapter 2 - Memories and Surprises
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Paris
Chapter 4: Chapter 4 Visiting Hermione
Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Reactions
Chapter 6: Chapter 6 An Evening in London
Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Summerbee's
Chapter 8: Chapter 8 Birthday Celebrations
Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Birthday Celebrations part 2
Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Coming of Age
Chapter 11: Chapter 11 Revelations
Chapter 12: Chapter 12 Relationships
Chapter 13: Chapter 13 The End of the Summer
Chapter 14: Chapter 14 Hogwarts Express
Chapter 15: Chapter 15 Adjusting to Hogwarts
Chapter 16: Chapter 16 Fun in London
Chapter 17: Chapter 17 Parent's Weekend
Chapter 18: Chapter 18 Repercussions
Chapter 19: Chapter 19 Angry Birds
Chapter 20: Chapter 20 Brothers
Chapter 21: Chapter 21 Happy Christmas
Chapter 22: Chapter 22 New Year's Eve
Chapter 23: Chapter 23 The Grand Opening
Chapter 24: Chapter 24 Valentine's Day
Chapter 25: Chapter 25 Happy Easter!

Chapter 1: Chapter 1 - Ron's Realizations

Author's Notes: I originally thought of this as a one-shot, but decided to make a multi-chapter fic out of this. I hope you enjoy my version of the immediate aftermath of the war. Thanks to my beta StephanieO .

“Ginny, you need to talk some sense into your boyfriend!” Ron called as Ginny walked into the kitchen at the Burrow.

Her boyfriend, Harry, was sitting across from Ron and they were eating cold toast left over from breakfast. Ron was looking quite angry; the tips of his ears were red.

Ignoring her brother for the moment, Ginny walked over and kissed Harry hello. She grabbed a cold butterbeer from the cold cupboard before joining the two boys at the table.

“What’s wrong?” Ginny asked her brother.

“Did you know he’s planning to testify for Malfoy?” Ron demanded, his anger surging forward.

“Ron, I’ve told you, I’m just telling the truth. He didn’t identify us at his parent’s house and his mother saved my life by telling Voldemort I was dead.”

“He’s a Death Eater!” Ron bellowed. “Why would you stick up for him? He’s been a git every year we’ve been in school, always trying to get us in trouble. His stupid schemes put Katie in St. Mungo’s for months and almost killed me.”

“I know that Ron!” Harry replied angrily. “I’m not saying he’s a good guy or anything, I’m just telling the truth. He didn’t turn us in to Voldemort when he had the chance.”

“So that makes up for everything!”

“No, it doesn’t,” Harry said. “I think he’s rather a coward who got in over his head and didn’t know what to do. He’s not a good guy; he is just looking out for his own best interests.”

Ron looked at his sister, “Talk some sense into him.”

She shrugged, “I happen to agree with him. Malfoy is a small minded, cowardly, little ferret, but he’s not the source of all evil.”

“How can you say that?” Ron demanded. “He is the reason Harry and the twins were kicked off the Quidditch team. He’s always insulting our family. He is a Death Eater, did you miss that part?”

“I was telling you he was a Death Eater for an entire year and you ignored me.” Harry pointed out.

“He’s a git,” Ginny said. “He calls people names and insults them. That is not the worst thing he could do, trust me.”

Ron glared at his sister unable to believe she wasn’t siding with him. “He just stood there while his aunt tortured Hermione! She was tortured, Ginny. Bellatrix threatened her with a knife and used the Cruciatus on her. He did nothing!”

“I’m sorry Hermione was tortured,” Ginny said after a moment.

“Then why are you acting like it’s no big deal? He should pay for that!”

“But he didn’t torture her,” Ginny pointed out. “Harry’s right. Malfoy is a coward. No, listen to me,” she said when Ron looked like he was going to interrupt her. “He was Head Boy last year and yes he took every opportunity to take points and insult me and Neville and everyone else he thinks is a blood-traitor. He didn’t use the Cruciatus on us for punishment like the other junior Death Eaters did, he did the same thing he’s done for the last six years.”

“You don’t understand!” Ron shouted his face almost purple. “Hermione was tortured and I had to listen to her scream. I couldn’t do anything about it. You wouldn’t know anything about that! You never had to listen to your friend being tortured and feeling totally helpless. You were safe at Hogwarts.”

Ginny’s demeanour changed immediately. “Don’t you dare tell me what I know and what I don’t know. You weren’t at Hogwarts this past year. I had to go and rescue Michael Corner from the dungeons after he’d been chained to the wall and tortured for hours. Malfoy may not have used the Cruciatus, but Nott, Goyle, Crabbe, Zabini, Parkinson, Harper — none of them had a problem using it. At first they would use it on us and then they started using it on our friends to try to force us to do what they wanted.

“I don’t like Malfoy, but trust me there are people much more evil than him. He didn’t offer the girls a choice between performing oral sex or getting tortured. That was one of Zabini’s favourite tricks. Crabbe and Goyle just liked to torture, they didn’t care who or why.”

Ginny’s face was red by this point and angry tears were filling her eyes. “I am very sorry that Hermione was tortured, but she wasn’t the only one. I think it’s more important to make sure the right person is in prison.”

She jumped up and ran outside. Harry stood and glared at his best mate, “Do you ever think before you talk? You heard Neville, you knew they were tortured. You have no idea what they went through last year.”

“And you do?”

“I listen to her,” Harry said, “instead of telling her she was safe at school and she doesn’t know what it’s like to see her friends tortured. You really have no idea.”

He hurried outside and quickly made his way to the pond. He found her where he thought he would, leaning against her favourite tree with her feet dangling in the water.

She had her head buried in her arms and didn’t react when Harry sat down next to her. Reaching out, he wrapped his arm around her. Slowly, she leaned into him.

“He is so frustrating! He, Mum and Percy have been the worst. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about’ and ‘At least you were safe at Hogwarts.’ Please, they don’t even ask what it was like for me. Mum is going on and on about how poor Ron was starving while you guys were on the run. He’s not the only one. The Carrows loved to withhold food or only serve the Slytherins. Some weekends they would lock us up in our common rooms, if they were in a good mood they’d send up water and bread.”

Harry swallowed hard at the thought of Ginny being starved and tortured. He hated the fact that she’d been through so much. She was so good and so pure; she really didn’t deserve any of it. He kissed her on top of her head. He’d learned over the course of the summer not to try to fix anything or make her feel better, but just to listen and be there for her.

She lifted her head and wiped her eyes, “Did you know he tried to get me to refuse the Head Girl status for next year? He kept going on and on about how Hermione deserved it because of all she’d been through. Professor McGonagall chose me. She picked me because I know what everyone went through last year. Hermione is trying to pretend it never happened.”

“I know,” Harry said. “We almost came to blows over that. I finally convinced him he was being a huge prat and he needed to be supportive of you. I mean being chosen as Head Girl is a huge honour.”

Ginny smiled at him before leaning closer and kissing him on the cheek, “Thank you, love.”

He blushed slightly, “You’re welcome.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Ginny said softly, “Can I tell you something?”

“Of course,” Harry said promptly.

Ginny looked down at the pond, watching the fish swim for a moment. With her eyes still locked on the fish she said, “I don’t want to go back to Hogwarts.”

“I don’t blame you,” Harry replied softly. Reaching over he gently turned her face so she was facing him. “Whatever you decide to do I will support you. If you want to go back, I’ll come visit every Hogsmeade visit and every Quidditch game and any excuse I can find to see you. If you don’t want to go back, just say the word and tell me what you want to do. Do you want to try-out for a Quidditch team? Do you want to work on Diagon Alley? Do you want to stay home? Whatever you want to do I will support you.”

Ginny searched his eyes and found the love and acceptance she was searching for. “Thank you, love.”

Running one hand through her hair, Harry leaned over and gently kissed her. “I love you, Ginny. I am here for you no matter what.”

Ginny decided that needed a non-verbal thank you. Unlike Harry’s gentle kiss of a few moments before, Ginny quickly deepened the kiss. Harry pulled her close and slid one hand through her hair, the other hand slid up the soft silky skin of her lower back. Ginny responded in kind, sliding her hand under his t-shirt and quickly pulling it over his head.

She pushed him down onto the grass and quickly followed. Passion quickly sparked between them and he was lost in exploring her body as she was exploring his. Her shirt soon joined his on the grass. Harry rolled her over so she was lying on her back. He cradled her head in his hand as he kissed her.

As she slid her hands down to his jeans, Harry pulled back slightly. “Baby, we need to stop.”

She whimpered slightly at the loss of the pressure of his body against her. He smiled as he rested his forehead against hers, “It’s not that I want to stop, but I really don’t want our first time to be out here where anyone can find us.”

Looking up into his intense green eyes, Ginny had to smile. “You’re right. You just feel so good.”

Harry laughed, enchanted by her boldness. “You do too, my love.”

She grabbed his arm, “Soon, right?”

He nodded fervently, “Soon.”

Pulling his shirt back on, Harry reluctantly handed her shirt back.

Ginny lay down on her stomach facing him, she loved just watching him. After a year of not being able to see him, just looking at him made her feel better.

“Do you suppose Ron has calmed down yet?” She asked.

“I don’t know. His temper is so close to the surface these days, especially with Hermione spending most of her time with her parents.”

“I understand that,” Ginny said. “Everything is different. George is like a wraith just floating around the house, he’s not laughing or pranking or planning. Mum isn’t much better, but that doesn’t mean Ron has to take it out on me. He has no idea what happened at Hogwarts last year and he’s not interested in listening.”

“I know,” Harry said sadly. “He’s so angry that Fred d-died and combined with Hermione’s parents wanting her to spend time with them it’s making him angry all the time. He won’t let go of this Malfoy thing. I keep trying to tell him I’m just telling the truth, but that’s not good enough for him.”

“He wants to punish someone for what happened to Hermione, but Bellatrix is dead.” Ginny shot a glance over at her boyfriend. “I think he just feels so badly that he couldn’t help her.”

“I hate that you had to go through everything you had to go through,” Harry said. “I’m not yelling at him. I know I’ve never lost a brother, but I’ve lost a lot of people to this war. I want to help him, but I don’t know how.”

She nodded, “I know.” She lay her head back down on her hands for a moment.

“Why don’t we head into town?” Harry said after a few minutes. “We can go shopping and find something for dinner.”


Harry stood and pulled his girlfriend to her feet. The two headed off to town walking hand-in-hand. It was a beautiful warm summer day. The sun was shining and it seemed ludicrous that the world was so off kilter.

“How’s Teddy?” Ginny asked.

Harry beamed, “He’s great. I love spending time with him. He’s getting so big.” He glanced over at his girlfriend, “Do you want to come with me next time I go over? Andromeda asked me to come over tomorrow. She has some appointments or something to go to and she asked me to watch him.”

“That would be great.”

He squeezed her hand, happy to be able to share this with her. “Kingsley is being really great about letting me work part-time for the summer. I’m really enjoying learning more about the Ministry and the training is amazing.”

“I know you love the physical training,” Ginny said with a smile.

He laughed, “I do. It’s funny, I’ve always been rather skinny, but now I just feel like my endurance has improved so much. Seamus has been a great training partner whether it’s running or working out in the gym. I wish Ron would come with me. It’s a great way to get rid of pent up energy and work out hostility.”

“Do you think I could come with you?” Ginny asked.

“Really?” Harry asked. “You would want to do that?”

“Of course,” Ginny replied. “I mean I do want to be professional Quidditch player so I’d love to get into better shape, but honestly I want to spend time with you.”

Harry stared at her for a minute - he still wasn’t used to her wanting to be with him. “That would be great. We can start by jogging in the morning.”


Soon they were nearing the outskirts of Ottery St. Catchpole. It was a small, sleepy Muggle town. As they crossed the bridge over the Otter River, they waved to the few cars that passed. They waved to a father and son standing on the banks of the river fishing.

“It’s so nice here,” Harry said. “Surrey is so much more crowded and unfriendly.” He glanced over at her. “Where do you want to live?”

She looked ahead to the village, “I’m not sure. I like the idea of having a place out in the country.” She laughed, “I don’t think I want to be too close to my parents. My Mum can be a bit overbearing.”

“Godric’s Hollow was really nice,” Harry said softly. “It’s not that far from here, I mean relatively speaking. It’s a bit closer to Wales. We were there last Christmas. The town is really nice.”

“Would you want to live there?” Ginny asked.

“I think so,” Harry said. “I’d like to rebuild my parent’s house. I don’t know how much work that would be or if I should just tear it down and start all over again. I talked to Bill about it a bit when I was working in Gringotts. He said that I should hire an engineering firm to evaluate the building first and then decide.”

“That would be nice,” Ginny said.

He was silent for a few minutes as they crossed the street and headed towards the grocers. As they neared the store, Harry reached out to touch her arm, “Would you like to come to Godric’s Hollow with me and see my parent’s house?”

She looked up at him and she could tell how important it was to him. “I would love to come with you, Harry.”

“Really?” He looked pleased at her answer. “I was thinking we could go look around the town and see what’s there.”

She laced her fingers through his, “That sounds like fun.”

He leaned down and kissed her quickly. They headed down High Street and Ginny pointed out the highlights of the town — the Stationery shop, the post office, the pub, the bakery.

“Do many magical families live around here?” Harry asked curiously.

“A few,” Ginny replied a she waved to an older woman working in her yard. “The Diggorys, the Lovegoods, the Fawcetts, but it is mostly Muggles. Some of them are really nice, that lady used to work at the bakery. She would always fuss over me when I was little.”

Ginny led the way into the Butcher’s shop and greeted the older man behind the counter. “Hello, Julian.”

“Hello, Miss Ginny. How are you today?”

She smiled, “Good, I’m looking for something for dinner tonight.”


After some discussion, Harry and Ginny decided to get a pork roast and they picked up some extra bacon and sausage as well as some ham and turkey for sandwiches. They left the shop with several bags.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked as they left the shop.

Ginny shrugged, “When I started ordering, I suddenly realized that no one’s been shopping in a while. Mum has always kept so much food in the house that no one has to worry. It just surprised me.”

“Do we need to get more stuff?”

Ginny thought about it for a few minutes, “Yeah, we should go to the grocers as well.”

The two headed across the town square for the grocers and picked up some other needed food and supplies for the house. Before they left the town, Harry pulled her over to the outdoor produce stand.

“Come on, let’s get some fresh vegetables.” Harry said. “My Aunt has many faults, but she’s a great cook and she taught me a lot. One of her big things was getting fresh vegetables.” He laughed, “Too bad she didn’t make my cousin eat more of them.”

“Isn’t this costing a lot of money?” Ginny asked anxiously. She’d brought a bit of money with her, but Harry had paid for most of it.

He shrugged, “Not too much. Besides, I’ve been staying there rent free for how long?”

“I don’t know. Mum wouldn’t be too happy about you buying so much.”

“Ginny, I have the money; let me do this for you.”

She looked up into his eyes. She knew her Mum wouldn’t like it, but on the other hand her Mum wasn’t around much this summer. “Are you sure?”

He leaned down and kissed her, “I’m sure.”

“Okay,” Ginny agreed. They picked up some summer vegetables. As they walked around looking at the
produce, Harry said, “The berries look really good. Do you want to get some berries and make a trifle?”

Ginny blushed slightly, “I don’t know how to make a trifle.”

Harry smiled over at her, “I do.”

“Okay.” Ginny laughed. She couldn’t wait to see him cooking. None of her brothers had bothered to learn how to cook except Bill. She knew Percy usually ate out, a few times he’d brought home take out from the Leaky Cauldron for everyone. Her dad would make sandwiches and Ron’s repertoire was limited to toast and beans.

After completing their purchases, they headed back to the Burrow in good spirits. They talked not of the emotionally laden topics of the morning, but about the town. Harry had to explain what exactly a mobile phone was and how it was used. She talked about trips to town when she was a child.

Upon reaching the Burrow, Ginny was glad that Ron was not around. She could tell her mother had been out at some point, there were now clothes on the line. For a few moments she was hopeful that maybe her mother was working in the kitchen as she was normally, but unfortunately she was nowhere to be found. Harry put the groceries away while Ginny started another round of clothes.

While Harry started cooking, she headed out to the garden to take the clothes off the line and fold them. She’d just finished folding the clothes when Harry brought out another basketful of clothes fresh from the wash tub. Together the two of them hung the clothes on the line before returning to the house.
Ginny was thrilled, she’d never had so much fun doing chores or cooking dinner with her mother. Harry somehow made everything more fun. She brought her books down to the kitchen so she could be with Harry while she was getting in some studying.

He was scrubbing the vegetables when she came back down. “When do your exams start?”

“Professor McGonagall said that we could contact her and set up a time, so I’m going to take my exams the beginning of next week.”

He smiled, “I bet you’ll be glad to get them out of the way.”

“I will, Luna is taking a bit more time. She’s taking her tests in the beginning of August.” Ginny shook her head, “She missed so much, but she’s really caught up well.”

“I’m sorry I missed seeing her the other day,” Harry remarked as he started cutting up the vegetables.

“She’s been coming over almost every morning,” Ginny said. “Sometimes Dean and Neville have come over as well.”

“Dean and Neville?”

“Yeah, Luna and Dean have been seeing each other.” She laughed. “I never would have put those two together, but they seem to be having fun. Neville’s getting ready to take his NEWTS, but Dean is coming back to school next year.”

“I kind of wondered about them. They got pretty close at Shell Cottage.” Harry remarked. “So what is Neville doing next year? I know he turned down a spot in the Auror training class.”

“He’s going to be working for a nursery that supplies different apothecaries.”

“He’ll like that,” Harry smiled. “He’s always liked working with plants. I mean he’d make a good Auror, but he wouldn’t like it very much.”

Ginny nodded, glad her shy friend was getting the credit he deserved. “I agree. Last year, he talked a lot about his plans for trying to raise certain kinds of plants and going on expeditions to the Amazon or India to find hard to find plants.” She laughed, “I’d love to travel, but I don’t really want to spend my time finding plants.”

“The Amazon would be cool,” Harry said. “I want to travel, I’ve never really been anywhere. Even this past year when we were changing spots every couple of days, we never really were able to look around. I want to go to France and Egypt and Ireland and all kinds of places.”

The afternoon passed quickly as Ginny read up on her Charms and Harry worked on dinner. He would quiz her or explain things from time to time, but they mostly just enjoyed being in each other’s company.
Arthur Weasley approached his home a bit wearily. He never knew what he was going to come home to these days. Poor Molly was beside herself with grief and Arthur knew from watching her go through her brothers’ deaths that she would be fragile for quite some time.

Entering the house, he smelled a delicious dinner. He hopefully turned to the kitchen, but instead of his wife he found his daughter and her boyfriend. They had apparently made a lovely roast for dinner. While he was disappointed not to see his wife, he was quite relieved to see what was for dinner. Harry was a surprisingly good cook and when he and Ginny teamed up they could put out an excellent meal.

“Hello, dear.” He said as he greeted his daughter. “It smells great.”

“Thanks, Mr Weasley,” Harry said shyly.

“Harry made it all,” Ginny said proudly. “I was just keeping him company.”

Arthur smiled at the love flowing between the two teens. He thought they were very good together and really anyone who could make his daughter so happy was good in his book. Molly thought she was a bit too young to be dating, but Arthur was a bit more realistic about the situation.

“Well, thank you Harry.” Arthur wandered over to the stove. “This all looks wonderful.” He spied the trifle sitting on the counter under a glass cover. “You’ve even made a pudding.”

“We walked into town and stopped at the produce stand,” Harry explained. “Everything looked so good, so I decided to get some berries and make a trifle.”

Arthur smiled, thankful for Harry and his daughter for stepping into the void his wife was leaving behind. “I noticed there were some clothes on the line. Has your mother been down?”

Ginny’s smile fell, “I haven’t seen her. She started some clothes, but she wasn’t around when we got back from town. She’s up in your room.”

Arthur sighed, “Well, thank you for all of your help.”

“Can we do anything to help Mum?”

“Just what you are doing, love.” Arthur replied kissing his daughter on the top of her head. “L-losing one of you was our biggest fear and I think it being one of the twins makes it even harder. She’s grieving for both of them and she just gets so lost. When she lost her brothers…that was awful. She took to her bed for months. I think it was only the fact that you kids needed her that helped her get through it.”

Ginny nodded and wiped away the tears that had filled her eyes. She missed her big brothers every day, George would come out occasionally and Percy was spending quite a bit of time with him. Harry made it a point to spend at least a bit of time with George every day and Ginny knew he appreciated it.

“What about you Dad?” she whispered.

He sighed as he sank down next to her and reached for her hand. “I miss your brother and believe me I’ve shed more than my fair share of tears, but for me getting back to work and helping reshape our world has helped immensely. My son died a hero and I want to honour that by ensuring what he died for is done properly. We’re getting rid of the horrible laws that have been passed over the past few years and breaking the pureblood monopoly on the Wizengamot.”

Harry had joined them at the table. Reaching out he took Ginny’s other hand and gently kissed the back of it before handing her his handkerchief. She smiled at him before wiping her eyes.

“I know when S-sirus died,” Harry began his voice still cracking with emotion two years later. “I did nothing for the first fortnight after I got back to the Dursleys. I just lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling.” Ginny reached out and squeeze his hand. “I decided that I was going to honour his sacrifice and that of my parents by taking down Voldemort. It seems kind of weird to think that I have actually done that.”

Arthur smiled at the teen fondly, he was so modest. “That you have my boy.”

Feet pounding down the steps caused the three to look up. Arthur greeted his sons, pleased to see George and come down as well. George drifted over to talk to Harry while Percy and Ginny started setting the table. He frowned a bit to see Ron ignoring both his sister and Harry.

Soon they were eating the delicious meal Harry had prepared. Arthur had planned to take a plate up to Molly, but to his surprise Harry beat him to it. The dinner was quieter than many dinners they’d had in the past, but Ginny and George were talking quietly with Harry adding a word now and then.

After dinner, Arthur leaned over to Percy. “Would you mind taking care of the dishes?”

“Of course, Father.”

George drifted back upstairs and Harry stood to help clear the table. Arthur stopped him, “Harry, you’ve done enough already. Why don’t you take Ginny out for a walk?”

He didn’t need to tell them twice. He watched with a fond smile as Harry and Ginny headed out to the garden hand-in-hand.

Turning back, he saw his youngest son still sitting at the table. “Ron, would you like to help me in my shed?”

He saw Ron rolling his eyes, but he did get up and follow his father. Arthur led the way into his shed and sat on one of the stools he’d put out there.

Ron leaned against the wall. Arthur looked critically at his son. He’d lost quite a bit of weight over the past year while he still managed to grow another inch. It still amazed Arthur how much his youngest son towered over him.

“What’s wrong, Ron?”

“What do you mean? Nothing’s wrong?”

Arthur bit back a smile as he watched the tips of Ron’s ears glow. Ron had never been good at hiding his feelings. “Your best mate makes the best dinner we’ve had in weeks and you don’t say a word to him. What’s wrong, did you have a fight?”

He watched for minute as Ron seemed to be fighting with whether to talk to him or not. Finally Ron burst out, “Those two…they don’t care about Malfoy’s trial. Harry’s even testifying for the prat. Ginny doesn’t care. How can they forget so quickly? Hermione was tortured and they don’t care.”

Arthur’s heart went out to his son. He was obviously still suffering from nightmares about their time at Malfoy Manor. “What did they say?”

Ron rolled his eyes, “Ginny got all upset and said that Hermione wasn’t the only one tortured and Hogwarts was horrible.”

“You don’t believe her?” Arthur was surprised. “I thought I saw you and Neville talking.”

“They used the Cruciatus as punishment and no one stepped in? Malfoy didn’t take advantage of his position? No, I don’t believe her.”

“Would you like to read Professor McGonagall’s testimony?” Arthur asked.

“What?” Ron looked at him in confusion.

“She was quite clear about the punishments that were used. Apparently, Filch was quite diligent in documenting the punishments that were used and the detentions given out. If anything, I think your sister has understated what happened last year.”

“B-but she was at Hogwarts,” Ron protested.

“Ron,” Arthur said with a touch of impatience in his voice, “she was at Hogwarts run by Death Eaters. What did you think, it was truly safe? Do you think I would have sent my daughter there if I had a choice? I worried about her every night. All of the letters were censored so we really didn’t know what was going on and we weren’t allowed to send her anything. I know they had more than one weekend when the Carrows didn’t allow them to eat anything but toast and water.”

Ron looked shocked. Arthur picked up his newest acquisition while Ron processed everything he’d said. He fiddled with the remote that Harry had given him, but still watched Ron out of the corner of his eye.

“Does Harry know?”

“I imagine he does,” Arthur said. “Not only have he and Ginny talked quite a bit, but he’s been helping get ready for the trials. He’s read a lot of the testimony and seen Filch’s records.”

“She’s really been put under the Cruciatus?”

“More times than I’d like to think about,” Arthur replied.

“So how come she doesn’t care about Hermione?” Ron demanded.

Arthur sighed. “Ron, Hermione went through an awful ordeal and it was horrible that you and Harry had to listen to it.”

“It was,” Ron replied immediately. “It was awful. She was screaming and there was nothing I could do for her. If Harry hadn’t broken the Taboo…why did they have to pick her? Why not him?”

“Ron!” Arthur said sternly. “I know you are not saying you wish your best friend had been tortured.”

“Better him than her! She didn’t do anything to deserve it. She was just trying to keep us alive.”

“What did Harry do to deserve it?”

Ron at least had the grace to look a bit ashamed of himself. “I know he didn’t deserve it either, but he was the one they were after.”

“You and Hermione are the two who insisted on joining him. That is the choice both of you made,” Arthur said gently. “You must have known it would be dangerous.”

“But I didn’t think she’d get hurt,” Ron protested. “I thought we would be able to protect her.”

“It is horrible, not being able to protect those you love is a horrible thing,” Arthur said. “After Bill’s wedding…they took your sister into another room and all I heard was her screaming.” He faltered for a moment before continuing, “It turned out they were threatening her with a knife, she was cut a bit, but not truly injured. She was scared more than anything else. For me it was awful, I could just hear my daughter screaming and I couldn’t do a damn thing to help her.”

He looked up at Ron, “What could you have done differently to help Hermione?”

“Well…we…I…I don’t know.”

“Exactly, Ron she was tortured by Death Eaters.” Arthur said gently. “I don’t believe she blames you, I think it is you blaming yourself. Don’t you think I wish my daughter wasn’t tortured or my son was still alive?”

“So what, I just ignore it?”

“No, son. You need to learn to deal with the feelings. You need to forgive yourself for not being able to help her. No one else blames you, you are the only one who does that.”

Ron sighed and Arthur looked away as Ron wiped his eyes. “Dad, they are forgetting.”

“Trust me, they haven’t forgotten. Just look at Harry, he is working so hard to make certain that none of the Death Eaters fade back into society like they did before.”

“So why is he helping Malfoy?” Ron sounded honestly confused this time, his anger spent.

“I don’t think he sees it as helping Malfoy,” Arthur explained gently. “He is trying to make sure the right person is punished for the right crime. Malfoy is a cowardly bully, but is he really as evil as his father? I don’t think so. I think he was caught up in his father’s expectations and didn’t know any way out. He didn’t kill Professor Dumbledore, he didn’t identify the three of you when he had the chance, and he didn’t abuse the other students at Hogwarts when he could have easily gotten away with it. I think he just doesn’t have the stomach for violence. He’s a punk who as long as he thinks he’d on the more powerful side is posturing and posing, otherwise he’s just a scared kid.”

“He could have done something.”

“What?” Arthur asked. “Do you think if Bellatrix thought he was on your side she would have spared him the same treatment?”

Ron looked shocked at that thought. “I guess not. He didn’t identify us, Harry is right about that.”

“Exactly,” Arthur said. “No one is saying he’s a good kid or anything like that. Harry just wants to make certain he is punished for what he did not what his father did or his aunt did.”

After giving Ron a moment to digest that thought, Arthur continued. “Ron, I know you feel horribly about what happened to Hermione, but you keep throwing it in everyone’s face.” He raised his hand when Ron looked like he was going to talk. “You have thrown it up to both Harry and Ginny several times. They were both tortured as well; Ginny here at Hogwarts and Harry the night of the final battle. Did you know he was hit with ten to twenty Cruciatus curses that night? Ron, your best friend walked out of the castle fully prepared to die for all of us — he willing took a Killing Curse and you’ve been telling him he can’t complain because Hermione was tortured.”

“I didn’t mean that,” Ron mumbled.

“You might not have meant it, but that’s what you’ve been saying.” Arthur said. “She suffered, but so did many other people. For you her suffering is more important, but you can’t dismiss everyone else’s suffering.”

Ron stared down at the scuffed floor of the shed. “So what do I do?”

“I think you owe Harry and Ginny an apology,” Arthur replied promptly. “Other than that I think you need to listen to everyone else. You’ve been blocking out everyone else’s story because you’ve been so concentrated on Hermione and your experiences. Listen and empathize. You had a totally different experience from many, but there were others on the run, there were others who listened to their loved ones tortured. Talk to your friends and actually listen to them this time.”

Ron nodded, “I’m sorry, Dad. I promise I will try harder.”

“Good.” Arthur embraced his son. “Let’s go see if there’s a bit more of that trifle.”

As they walked into the kitchen, they found Harry and Ginny laughing and sharing a serving of trifle. Arthur patted his son on the shoulder.

Ron stopped and looked at the couple in front of him. “Harry, Ginny, I’m really sorry about this morning.”

Harry looked up at him as if assessing his sincerity. “Are you ready to stop being a git? Stop giving Ginny such a hard time? She went through a lot and you keep acting like it’s nothing.”

Ron stared at his best friend in shock, was he really doing the very thing he’d accused Harry of doing? He looked between Harry and Ginny and belatedly realized that Harry felt for Ginny what he did for Hermione. He looked down and he could feel his ears heating up. “I am really sorry, Ginny. I…I guess I was so wrapped up in what happened to me and Hermione and…I didn’t realize that Hogwarts was so bad.”

“Didn’t want to,” Harry muttered.

Ron looked at his best mate in surprise. Harry hadn’t been that mad at him when he’d come back during the Horcrux hunt. It suddenly hit him, Harry was more upset about him hurting Ginny’s feelings.

“You’re right,” Ron admitted. “I didn’t want to. I was mad about what Hermione went through and didn’t want to admit anyone else got hurt. I really am sorry. Mate, you forgot to mention you were hit with so many Cruciatus curses that night.”

Ginny lay her hand on Harry’s arm. He smiled at her before turning back to Ron. “After the Killing Curse, it didn’t hurt as much. They tossed me around the clearing, but I didn’t really feel it.”

“Until you tried taking a shower,” Ginny said.

Harry laughed, “Yeah that was pretty bad. I had sticks and twigs stuck everywhere and all these cuts and bruises. The only one that really hurt was where the Killing Curse hit.”

Sitting down across from Harry and Ginny, Ron helped himself to some more trifle. Harry smiled at him,
“If you’re going to stop being a git, we’re good.”

Ginny nodded in agreement.

“I’m going to try.” Ron said. He took a few bites of trifle. “This is really good, mate.”

“Thanks,” Harry said.

“So did you hear they are starting the Quidditch season on time?” Ron asked.

Back to index

Chapter 2: Chapter 2 - Memories and Surprises

Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta StephanieO for her hard work. I am really bad at writing French accents so I have chosen to write Fleur without an accent. Please feel free to imagine her speaking with an accent.

Ginny smiled as she finished up her shower. She was quite proud of herself for keeping up with Harry as well as she’d been able to. While he had completed two circuits around the Burrow to her one, she was confident that soon she would be able to keep up with him.

As she stepped out of the shower and headed to the sink, she heard noises below her in kitchen. She wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad sign. After drying off and brushing her teeth, she brushed out her hair and pulled on her dressing gown. Once in her room, she opened her drawers. To her dismay, the only clean bra in the drawer was the patched and raggedy bra that had been remade from one of Molly’s old bras.

It wasn’t just the fact it was second hand that upset her. That bra was the one she’d been wearing that awful day in Dark Arts. She hand shook slightly as she slammed the drawer shut. Unfortunately, slamming the drawer on the bra didn’t slam the door on the memories of that day.

She took a deep breath before heading into Dark Arts. Professor Carrow had dispensed with the ‘Defence Against’ portion of the class after the first week. Luckily Carrow wasn’t very bright, just rather enthusiastic. He spent most of the class time describing awful Dark Magic spells and demonstrating some of them. Ginny cringed to think of what Hermione would think about him using house elves to demonstrate some of the spells.

Walking into class she smiled at Demelza as she slid into the desk next to her. Setting her bag down, she pulled out her book, parchment, quills, and her homework. She nervously checked her homework once again. The essay was supposed to be on the best way to torture Muggles, but Ginny had written it on the best ways to help Muggles using defensive spells.

Professor Carrow entered the classroom staring down at the students. He summoned their homework and returned the previous essay they’d been set. Ginny glanced at the top. A ‘D’ was scrawled on the top. She didn’t let it upset her, she hadn’t received a passing grade on anything in Dark Arts this whole term.

After giving them the chapter they were to read, Professor Carrow started flipping through the scrolls of homework.


Ginny looked up as Professor Carrow looked up from her homework. She swallowed heavily. She hadn’t really thought he’d look at them during class.

“Yes.” Ginny looked back at the Death Eater steadily. She wasn’t going to allow him to intimidate her.

“What is this supposed to be?” He held up her essay.

She shrugged, “It is an essay on how to help Muggles using defensive spells.”

“Is that what you were supposed to write about?”

She didn’t answer, just stared back at him.

“Harper! Use Weasley to practice the Cruciatus.”

Ginny glared at Harper as he eagerly jumped out of his chair. Standing as gracefully as she could, she walked up to the platform at the front of the room. She wasn’t going to let them get to her.


The stabs of pain were worse than the last time he’d used it on her, but it still wasn’t anywhere close to the level of the Carrow’s curses. She bit her lip in an effort not to scream.

Professor Carrow glared at her when she stood tall even after Harper was done with her. Before she could return to her desk, he pulled out his wand. She froze in her spot in front of the class.

With an evil smile, Carrow vanished her school robes. “Miss Weasley, I believe you are out of uniform. Detention tonight.”
As she started to her desk once again, Carrow waved his wand again and vanished her shirt and trousers. The Slytherins in the class started laughing and cheering. Carrow shook his head in mock disappointment. “Miss Weasley, if I’d know you were so eager to entertain us, I would have accommodated you.”

She could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but she quickly blinked them back determined not to let them make her cry. The Slytherins were laughing hysterically while commenting on the condition of her underclothes. Her bra had been patched several times as it was made over from one of her mother’s. She was relieved that at least her knickers were clean and in one piece. Glaring at the class, she started back over to her desk.

Carrow’s cruel voice stopped her once again, “No, Miss Weasley. You wanted to entertain us, you need to stand in the front of the class where we can all see you.”

Ginny turned and walked back up to the platform upon which Carrow’s desk sat. She stood as far away from Carrow as she possibly could. He forced her to stand in front of the room for the entire double class period. She stood straight and tall determined not to back down in front of them.

Once class was over, Demelza hurried over to her pulling her own robes over her head and wrapping them around her friend. “Here, Ginny.”


Ginny turned with a start. Her brother, Bill, was standing in the doorway of her room watching her in concern.

“Are you okay?”

She valiantly tried to reassure him, but her heart was racing and tears were already pouring down her face. He stepped into the room and she launched herself at him. He wrapped his arms around her and she buried her face in his chest, trying to calm herself down. Once Carrow had vanished her clothes that first time, it became his favourite punishments for her. She was glad he’d never gone further than that. It had been her biggest fear that he would decide to vanish all of her clothes.

This punishment had been the hardest to share with Harry. He’d been so upset, but he had tried so hard to be comforting. Seeing that he didn’t think less of her had lessened a lot of her fears, but the memory still had the ability to upset her.

Bill ran his hand down her hair and cuddled her in his arms. She felt him drop a kiss on top of her head. Memories of running to him as a child flooded back to her, it amazed her that even now when she was grown up he could provide so much comfort. Other than Harry, Bill could make her feel safer than anyone. He was the one who had been able to make her feel the safest and the most loved after the Chamber of Secrets.

She calmed down and pulled away from him slightly to wipe her eyes on the sleeve of her dressing gown.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Bill asked in concern. He hadn’t seen her that upset since Fred’s funeral.

Ginny sighed and walked over to her bed. She threw herself down on her bed while Bill sat down in her desk chair that he pulled close to the bed. Staring at the picture of Harry she had on her nightstand, Ginny told her brother about her punishment.

When she finished, Bill didn’t say anything at first. Ginny looked up at him in concern and was shocked to see him crying. Reaching out her hand she took one of his hands in both of hers.

“They didn’t…they didn’t do anything…else, did they?” Bill asked hesitantly.

She immediately shook her head. “No, I was afraid they would, but they never did.” She blushed, “I…I was going to get dressed and the bra that I was wearing that first day is the only clean bra I have left. I hate it. I would throw it away or burn it if I could, but Mum won’t let me get anymore. She says we don’t have the money to waste on such luxuries.”

Bill managed to chuckle, “I think she might be more concerned about who might see them if she bought you fancy lingerie.”

Ginny laughed, blushing as she did so. She threw a look at her brother before she said, “I don’t honestly think Harry cares one way or the other.”

He shook his head, “That’s not what an older brother wants to hear.”

Reaching out he pulled her onto his lap. Ginny laughed and snuggled up against him for a moment, glad to be the little sister for once.

“Are you better?”

She nodded. He smiled down at her, “Why don’t you get dressed? I have an idea I want to run by Mum first.”

“Okay.” Ginny stood and once her brother left, she quickly shed her dressing gown and pulled on the hated bra and a clean pair of knickers before deciding on a pair of denim shorts and a green t-shirt.

When she arrived downstairs, Bill was by the stove talking to their mother. Ron was at the table eating what looked to be his second helping of sausage and eggs.

Ginny accepted the plate of sausage and eggs and waited until her mother and Bill joined them at the table.

As she started eating, Ron asked, “Were you up running with Harry this morning?”

She nodded and swallowed her eggs. “Yeah, it was great. I couldn’t quite keep up with him, but I did pretty well.”

Ron shook his head, “I don’t get it. He seems to love all of the physical activity, working out in the gym and all that. I went with him once; that was enough. He and Seamus seem to love it, though.”

“I don’t understand it, I’ve never heard of such things.” Mrs. Weasley said. “Kingsley suggested this?”

Ron nodded, “Yes, he wants all of the Aurors to exercise — even the girls.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Ginny snapped. “It makes perfect sense. If they have to chase after suspects or whatever, they need to have increased stamina. Tonks used to work out.”

“It certainly doesn’t seem very lady-like,” Molly asserted.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Bill intervened before his sister could explode. “It would be much better to be in shape and healthy than not. Harry was telling me about some of the machines they use to work out. They are similar to machines found in Muggle gyms, but they force you to use magic as well exercising both the body and your magic at the same time. He invited me to come with him some time, I think I might take him up on that offer.”

“If you say so,” Mrs. Weasley said dubiously. She shook her head, but she didn’t argue with Bill. If he thought it was okay, maybe it was.

Ron rolled his eyes, but didn’t comment on the conversation. Instead he said, “Mum, I’m going to head down to the shop and help Percy with the inventory.”

“You’re such a good boy,” Mrs. Weasley beamed. “Are you sure you got enough to eat?” She patted her son’s hand. “You boys lost so much weight.”

“I’m good, Mum. Thanks.”

Ginny had to resist the urge to roll her eyes. “I’m going over to Mrs. Tonks’s in a little while, Mum. She has an appointment so I am going to help watch Teddy.”

“Okay, dear. That sounds lovely.”

“What time do you think you’ll be done?” Bill asked.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Ginny said.

“I’ll be back later,” Bill said. Standing he kissed both his mother and sister on the cheek for leaving.
Hermione winced as her father slammed down the phone. He glared at her before turning away and shaking his head.

“I’m sorry, Dad.” Hermione said softly. “I don’t know how many times I can tell you that.”

Hugh Granger sighed, “Hermione, if I really thought you were sorry it might help, but honestly I don’t know how we will re-establish our practice.”

“I am sorry.” Hermione said clearly stung by her father’s words. “Why don’t you believe me?”

Gesturing to his wife, Hugh sat down on the couch closest to his daughter. “Hermione, you keep telling us you had no choice but to erase our memories and send us to Australia. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.” He held up his hands to ward off her reply. “No, let me talk. Did all of your other friends do this to their parents?”

“No,” Hermione said. “But they didn’t have to, Ron’s parents were part of the fight and Harry’s parents are dead.”

“What about his aunt and uncle?” Jane Granger asked.

“His relatives were put under protection.”

“We couldn’t have gone ‘under protection’?” Hugh asked.

Hermione looked a bit discomfited for the first time. “I’m not sure. There was so much going on and with Professor Dumbledore being gone; I wasn’t sure who to ask.”

“So you didn’t even ask, you just decided that it would be best for us to lose our memories and move to Australia,” Hugh burst out.

“I was trying to keep you safe,” Hermione yelled back. “Why can’t you understand that?”

“Why couldn’t you have told us what was going on?” Jane asked trying to restore a bit of calm. “Did it not occur to you? That way we could have prepared to leave and we might not be in the mess we are now — a house that sat empty for a year, burst pipes, our offices foreclosed on, and our practice has long since moved on to other dentists.”

“I didn’t think of that,” Hermione said crestfallen. She’d been quite upset to discover her parents had not only lost their offices, but the burst pipes had flooded the basement and caused considerable damage.

“Hermione, I think we may have done you a disservice for many years now. Everyone tells you how bright you are and how smart you are…and you are, but you don’t know everything. You need to learn to ask for help. Why didn’t you ask the Weasleys or one of your professors for advice?” Jane asked earnestly.

“I thought I could do it on my own,” Hermione said stiffly. “It is a difficult charm and I managed on the first try. I don’t see how I did anything so wrong.”

“You didn’t ask us our opinion or ask for our advice.” Hugh said a bit angrily.

“You would have wanted me to come with you,” Hermione replied forcefully. “I promised Harry I would help him and I knew you wouldn’t like it.”

“Now we get to the root of the problem,” Jane said softly. “It wasn’t the easiest solution, or the best, but it was the one that allowed you to do as you wished with us out of the way.”

Hermione stared at her mother, “No, that’s not it.”

“Isn’t it, Hermione? For months now you’ve been telling us how you are sorry and how it had to be done, but none of your other friends resorted to such extreme measures and most of the other Muggleborn students either stayed with their parents or went to another magical school. You didn’t want to do either and you knew we wouldn’t agree to you going off with those two boys.” Jane said willing her daughter to really listen to her this time. Jane hated the divide that had sprung up between them and their daughter. Hugh was angry and didn’t know how to handle it.

Tears sprang to Hermione’s eyes. Is that really how her parents saw what happened? She reviewed her actions once again and this time she could see how she might have handled it a little differently.

Sensing her daughter’s softening, Jane smiled gently at her daughter. “Hermione, you are our brave, wonderful girl and we are very proud of everything that you have accomplished. We just don’t want you using magic on us just because it makes it easier to get your way.”

“Mum, Dad, I…didn’t mean to…I promise I won’t use magic on you,” Hermione sobbed. “I was just trying to do what I thought was best. I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you first. I didn’t realize that…I didn’t know how to handle everything. I was just thinking that if the Death Eaters caught you, you would die.”

Hugh softened watching his little girl. Standing, he walked over to her and wrapped her in his arms. “I know, sweetie. I’m sorry I’ve been so angry. I guess I just didn’t like that you felt you had to protect us instead of talking to us. A few little arrangements would have saved us so much trouble and I think that’s what I’ve been focusing on. If I could have made arrangements to continue payments, if I could have prepared the house, if I could have put out the word we were going on sabbatical. I haven’t thought about it from your point of view.” He kissed her on the top of the head. “You must have been so scared, love. I am so sorry.”

Pulling away he reached for his wife’s hand and pulled her into their embrace. “Can we make a pact? We will promise to listen with an open mind to your thoughts and suggestions if you promise not to use magic on us without our consent.”

Hermione nodded and the three of them held each other, each beginning the process of letting go of their hurt and anger.
Ginny smiled as she watched her normally serious boyfriend lying on the floor playing with the baby. Teddy had been thrilled to see his godfather; he had immediately changed his hair to black once Harry had arrived.

After Andromeda had showed them where everything was and given them all of the emergency contact information at least twice, she left the two teens with her grandson. Harry had immediately picked up the baby and carried him into the sitting room. Spreading a blanket on the floor, he gently set the baby on his stomach before stretching out next to him.

“He’s so sweet.” Ginny exclaimed.

“I know,” Harry smiled. “He’s rolling over now and Andromeda says in the next month or two he should be sitting up.”

Ginny moved over to sit on the other side of Teddy. She reached out her hand to touch his soft black hair.

“Isn’t he soft?” Harry asked. “I think that’s the thing that surprised me the most. He’s so soft and smells so good.” He laughed, “Well, most of the time he smells good.”

“I’ve never really been around a baby before,” Ginny admitted. “I was always one of the youngest myself and by the time my older cousins started having babies I was much more interested in running around outside.”

“I know what you mean,” Harry said. “I’d never held a baby before. Andromeda had to teach me to feed him and change him. The first time I held him I was so scared. He was so little and I was positive I was going to break him or something.”

He flashed her a crooked smile. “So far, I’ve been lucky and I haven’t broken him.”

Ginny giggled and Harry smiled, glad he’d been able to make her laugh. He looked over at her, “You look pretty today. I mean you look pretty all the time, but you look extra nice today.”

She blushed, “Thank you.”

Teddy started fussing and Harry picked him up and carried him to the kitchen. Ginny followed, watching them. Harry was talking softly to the baby as he grabbed a bottle from the cold cupboard. With a wave of his wand, he warmed it and after testing it, he sat down at the kitchen table and started feeding the baby.

Ginny sat down across from him, “You’re so good at that.”

Harry laughed, “Trust me, he’s being so good today.” He dropped a kiss on Teddy’s soft head. “I told him you were coming over and he had to make me look good.”

Shaking her head, Ginny laughed. “I’m sure it’s that easy and he just listened to you.”

As she watched Harry gently lifted the baby so he was sitting on Harry’s knee and started rubbing his back. After a few minutes, Teddy gave a loud burp causing both teens to start laughing. Harry gently wiped the baby’s mouth before cuddling him close again.

“Do you want to take Teddy for a walk?” Harry asked. “There is a nice park down the street. I usually take him for a walk when I’m here.”

“Sure,” Ginny agreed with a smile. She watched as Harry quickly changed his godson’s nappy and set him in the pram. Teddy’s face lit up with a grin.

“He’s just started smiling,” Harry said as they left the house. “I like the smiling over the crying.”

“You talk to him a lot,” Ginny commented.

Harry blushed, “When I was little, my aunt and uncle never really talked to me.” He shrugged with a smile, “I think I’m just trying to make up for that.”

“I think you are very sweet with him,” Ginny said. “He won’t be like you. He knows he’s loved.”

They walked down towards the park, enjoying the warm day. Harry kept looking over at Ginny; he could tell something
was bothering her. “What’s wrong, love?”

Ginny sighed, “I just had a bad moment this morning.” She explained what had happened as they entered the park.

Starting down one of the paths in the park, Harry said, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.” He glanced over at her. “I’m glad that Bill was there for you.”

She smiled, “Bill is the best. He said something about having an idea to run by Mum so I’m hoping he has something fun in mind. When I was little, Bill always came up the best ideas. He would have tea parties with me without complaining, he taught me how to swim, and he even taught me how to dance.”

“He’s your favourite brother, isn’t he?” Harry asked with a smile.

Blushing, Ginny nodded. “I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but he was always there for me. The summer after my first year when everyone was walking on eggshells around me, he wouldn’t make me talk. He told me stories about the Ancient Egyptians and just spent time with me.”

“I’m glad,” Harry said. “I still feel badly that I just ignored you after your first year. I mean I did ask Ron in a letter how you were doing, but he said you were fine.”

Ginny laughed softly, “Love, you were only twelve or thirteen and I couldn’t stop blushing long enough to talk to you.”

Stopping the pram momentarily, Harry leaned over and kissed her. “I’m glad that’s changed.”

The couple walked the baby around the park twice before heading back to Andromeda’s house. They arrived back at the house a few minutes before she returned. Harry easily transferred the sleeping infant to his cot before he and Ginny headed back to the Burrow.

Harry side-apparated Ginny back to the Burrow, due to the protective enchantments they still had to walk a ways.
Reaching out, Harry took Ginny’s hand.

“I’m going to be sad when you take your apparition test. I like travelling with you.”

Ginny laughed, “I know, but I don’t think my mum would accept that as an excuse. ‘Sorry, Mum, I’d rather just apparate with Harry.’”

“Sounds good to me.”

Shaking her head, Ginny looked around and pulled him over to the large oak on the edge of the front garden. Pushing him up against the tree, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him deeply.

Harry responded immediately, tangling his hand in her hair while his other hand slid up the smooth skin of her back. Her
hands were not still either, sliding up under his shirt. Tearing his mouth from hers, he started raining kisses down her neck even as he pulled her closer. It was quite a bit of time before they made their way into the Burrow.
Bill looked up and smiled as the slightly disheveled couple entered the kitchen just before noon. “Ginny, Harry, I was looking for you two.”

He was sitting at the table with a cup of tea and a plate of still warm biscuits. To Ginny’s delight, her mother was puttering around the kitchen cleaning and straightening. At the couple’s arrival she looked up and smiled, “Hello, dears. Thank you for doing the shopping yesterday. Arthur told me what the two of you did.”

Ginny smiled at her mother and squeezed Harry’s hand under the table. “Thanks, Mum. We were glad to help. Harry did all of the cooking.”

Turning her gaze on the young wizard, Mrs. Weasley smiled at him. “Thank you, Harry. I had some of your food, it was delicious. I didn’t realize you could cook.”

Blushing, Harry smiled. “You’re welcome, Mrs. Weasley. I’m glad I could help. I used to do a lot of the cooking at my relatives’ house so I’m used to it.”

Mrs. Weasley nodded. “I’m going to gather some laundry, is there anything you need washed?”

“No, I finished our laundry yesterday,” Ginny replied.

Kissing her daughter on the top of the head, Mrs. Weasley headed upstairs. After she left the kitchen, Bill turned to his sister with a smile. “Do you have plans for the next day or so?”

“Not really,” Ginny shrugged. “I was going to do a bit more revising, but nothing else.”

“What about you, Harry?”

Looking startled, Harry thought about it. “Um, I don’t really have any plans.”

“Great!” Bill replied with a smile. “Fleur and I would like to take the two of you on a short trip.”

“Really?” Ginny’s eyes lit up briefly before they shut down. “Bill, Mum would never let me go.”

“She already agreed,” Bill explained. “I talked to her and Dad and they agreed that you and Harry could come visit me and Fleur.” Looking around he lowered his voice, “I might have forgotten to mention that we’re not staying at Shell Cottage.”

“Where are we going?”

Bill laughed and shook his head, “Nope, not telling. Hurry up you two, go back a bag for a couple of days. Nothing fancy, but bring a swimming costume.”
A little less than an hour later, Bill was gesturing his sister and her boyfriend into seats across from him and his wife. Ginny was looking around in amazement.

“This is so different from the Hogwarts’ Express,” she said in an awed voice. She settled back into the seat and automatically reached for Harry’s hand. Looking over at her brother she asked, “So can you tell me now where we are going?”

He smiled over at her, “We are going to Paris.”

Ginny’s eyes lit up, “Really?”

Bill laughed, “Yes, really. I thought we could all use a break and I figured that people wouldn’t recognize Harry as readily if we were both in France and in the Muggle part of town.”

“Wow,” Ginny suddenly turned to her brother. “Wait, if this is a Muggle train, how are we getting to Paris?”

Harry spoke up for the first time, “This train travels under the English Channel in something called the Chunnel. It’s a tunnel that travels under the water and connects us to France.”

She looked at him for a minute trying to decide if he was joking or not. “Is it safe?” she asked cautiously.

He nodded, “It is, we’ll be fine.”

“Okay,” Ginny said as she laid her head on his shoulder.

The four of them passed the afternoon talking and enjoying both the trip and the company.

Once they arrived in Paris, Fleur took charge and led them out of the station. She quickly arranged a cab for them to take them to the hotel.

As they exited the cab and entered the hotel, Fleur touched Ginny’s arm. “I arranged for a room for each couple, is that okay?”

Blushing, Ginny nodded. “Yes, that’s fine.”

The two women waited while Bill and Harry took care of checking them into the hotel. Fleur turned to her sister-in-law, “Ginny, I don’t want to presume anything, but here.” She pushed a vial of potion into Ginny’s hand.

Ginny could feel her face heating up again; she recognized the potion as the contraception potion. “Thank you.”

The couples had rooms across the hall from each other. Ginny gasped as she took in the opulence of the room. She almost didn’t want to put her tattered bag down on the bench — it certainly didn’t match the room.

She tried to avoid looking at the huge richly dressed bed and instead she walked across the room and opened the doors that lead onto the balcony. The view was spectacular. She could see the Eiffel Tower across the river and she hoped that they would be able to do a little sightseeing while they were here.

She jumped slightly as a pair of arms wrapped around her waist. Leaning back, she reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “Isn’t this amazing?”

He nodded. “Are you okay with us sharing a room?”

Turning in his arms, Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’m more than okay with it, love.”

Harry blushed and buried his head in her neck. “I just wanted to make sure. I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything.”

Lifting his head, he whispered, “I love you.”

She smiled up at him, “I love you, too.”

A knock at the door caused them both to jump. Harry drew his wand and to Ginny’s amazement, he put his eye to the door. “It’s Bill and Fleur.”

He opened the door and invited in the other couple. They walked over to the sitting area that Ginny hadn’t even noticed yet.

Bill smiled over at his sister, “Ginny, I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your story from this morning with Fleur.”
Ginny shook her head and Fleur smiled at her. Bill continued, “I wanted to bring you here so we could go shopping. You shouldn’t be reminded of everything just by getting dressed. Fleur and I wanted this to be our birthday present to you.”

Blinking back tears, Ginny looked from her brother to her sister-in-law. “Really? That would be amazing.”

“Excellent,” Bill said. He stood, “Let’s get going.”

Once again, Fleur took the lead and in a short period of time they found themselves in a rather exclusive boutique.
Ginny followed her sister-in-law in a bit of a daze. She’d seen advertisements for this type of store in her Witch Weekly magazine, but she never imagined she would actually shop in one. The shimmering array of satiny colours was as far from her mother’s made over bras as possible.

She docilely followed Fleur and the sales clerk into a back room. Glancing over her shoulder she saw that her boyfriend was blushing. Biting back a giggle, Ginny turned her attention to the other two women.

The clerk first measured Ginny, a process she found a bit embarrassing. She was used to magical tape measures, not someone actually touching her. Once her size was established, Fleur and the clerk brought in an overwhelming selection of satin and lace. While it was overwhelming, it was also fun.

Her mother would never have let her buy a turquoise or fuchsia bra. Ginny loved the colours and the luxurious feel of the fabric. To her shock, the knickers seemed to be rather small and missing most of the material in the back. However once she got used to the feel, she had to admit she liked them.

She looked up at Fleur, “Thank you.”

“You are welcome, ma belle-soeur.” Fleur replied with a gentle smile. “When Bill told me about this morning…you should never have had to endure such a thing. Some sexy new things will help, right?”

Ginny laughed, “I think so. I’ve never seen such beautiful things. Even my roommate, Cindy, doesn’t have such nice stuff and she’s always going on about how wealthy her family is.”

For the first time Fleur’s tinkling laughter made her want to join in, not feel envious. Ginny peered out into the shop. “Do you think I could get some of the nightgowns?”

“Of course,” Fleur replied. “Which kind do you like?”

Blushing slightly, Ginny pointed to the short satin garment with a lacy bodice. “I like that.”

Fleur nodded and headed out onto the floor to retrieve it. She laughed as Bill directed her to the black lace garment he liked. Looking over at Harry, she could tell that while he was embarrassed, he was doing his best to hide it. Nodding at the boys, she headed back to Ginny.

Once they had finished with their selections, the two girls headed to the counter. Ginny didn’t understand how many Galleons the total translated into, but it seemed like it was expensive. She chanced a glance over at Bill.

He smiled at her reassuring, “Its fine, sweetie.”

Reaching over, she hugged her brother and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you.”

Turning to her sister-in-law, she embraced her as well, initiating a hug with Fleur for the first time. She kissed her on both cheeks and whispered, “Thank you so much.”

Fleur smiled, “You are more than welcome.”
Harry blushed as they walked into the store. It was full of scraps of fabric and lace. The thought of Ginny in any of this was mind blowing. Bill gestured to spot by the door where they could watch and wait.

Fleur led Ginny up to one of the sales clerks and stared speaking in French. As Harry watched, the sales clerk led Ginny and Fleur into one of the back rooms. He chanced a look over at Bill.

“Thank you for doing this for her,” Harry said sincerely. His face darkened as the thought about what his girlfriend had endured. “She really deserves this.”

With a sigh, Bill nodded. “She does. I still can’t believe everything that happened to her last year. When I was a Hogwarts the biggest thing I had to worry about was grades and House points, certainly nothing like you lot.”

Looking over at the younger wizard, he said. “Look, Harry, this is a bit awkward for me, but I know you love my sister…” He shook his head, “If it was one of my brothers I’d be happy for them, so I am trying to be happy for Ginny. You make her happy and you have been so good for her.”

“I do love her,” Harry affirmed when Bill stopped talking. “I would never…I wouldn’t force her to do anything she didn’t want to do.”

Bill laughed, “I think I’m more worried about her taking advantage of you, but anyhow I just wanted you to know I think you two are made for each other.”

Blushing, Harry laughed, “I think so too.”

The two watched as Fleur came out into the shop and started picking out bras. Harry was desperately trying not to imagine Ginny in any of them while Bill was calling out to his wife the ones he thought she should buy. Bill laughed at Harry’s embarrassment. “Don’t worry the next shop won’t be so embarrassing.”

“The next shop?” Harry questioned.
Several hours later, Harry and Ginny were back in their hotel room. Ginny was almost giddy with delight as she pulled all of her new belongings out of their bags. In addition to the beautiful lingerie from Bill and Fleur, Harry had purchased both Ginny and himself some new clothes. It amazed Harry how excited both Ginny and Fleur had become over shopping. He had never had much fun shopping, but he was happy with the clothes he’d bought. They were of good quality and fit well.

Ginny flashed a smile at him, “I’m going to take a shower before we head out to dinner.”

“Okay,” Harry said a bit dazed by her smile.

She walked by him and kissed him quickly before heading into the bathroom. Harry stared at the closed door for a minute, but the thought of Ginny getting undressed was a bit much for him. Shaking his head to try to clear his thoughts, he headed out onto the balcony and sat down on one of the chairs. He leaned back into the chair and enjoyed the view of Paris.

After a time, Harry heard the bathroom door open. He turned to see Ginny dressed in a deceptively simple silver sheath. It hugged her figure, highlighting her lithe curves. Harry forgot to breathe for a moment.

“Wow, Ginny, you look…amazing.”

She smiled, “Thank you.”

He stared at her for another minute before he swallowed heavily. “Wow. I’m going to get ready. You really look great.”

She giggled as he headed into the bathroom. After he showered quickly, he dressed in some of his new clothes. Ginny was waiting for him; he noticed that she had added a pair of heels to her ensemble.

He could have just stared at her all night. She looked so grown up and sophisticated, he still couldn’t believe that she wanted to be with him. But he wasn’t about to question his incredible luck.

Clearing his throat, he asked, “Are you ready to go?”

She nodded. As he headed over to her, a knock sounded at the door. Harry opened it to find Bill and Fleur on the other side. Fleur was also dressed up and while Harry thought she was pretty, he still thought Ginny looked better.

Fleur squealed, “Ginny, you look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Ginny replied with a smile. “So do you.”

“Merci,” Fleur replied. She beamed at the young couple. “I have arranged for us to have dinner at one of my favourite restaurants.”
Harry looked around the restaurant in amazement; he’d never seen such an elegant place in his life. Ginny squeezed his hand and he saw the same emotion reflected in her eyes.

A tuxedoed maître de led them across a regal looking room with mosaic tiled floors, damask curtains, and ornate crystal chandeliers. Harry watched as the maître de pulled back a chair for Fleur.

Biting back a laugh at the dazed look on the man’s face, Harry did the same for Ginny. He sat down next to her and smiled at her. Leaning over he whispered, “I never imagined I’d be eating in such a posh place.”

“I know,” she replied matching his whisper. “I’ve only been to places like the Three Broomsticks or the pub in town.”

“You look like you belong in a room like this,” Harry said with a smile.

She blushed, “Thank you.”

While Harry and Ginny were talking, a waiter arrived at the table and started conversing with Fleur. Bill broke into the conversation and to Harry’s surprise, Bill was also speaking French. Fleur turned and smiled proudly at her husband, watching him adoringly as he ordered a bottle of wine for the table and some starters.

Harry looked down at the menu for the first time and exchanged an alarmed look with his girlfriend. Fleur caught the exchange, “If I may, shall I order dinner for the two of you?”

Ginny laughed, “I think that would be a great idea.”

Turning back to the waiter, Fleur rattled off an order. He bowed and hurried off.

“Did you grow up in Paris?” Ginny asked.

“Non, we are from the south, near Marseille,” Fleur explained. “My father works for the Ministry and my maman is a party planner. She likes to throw huge parties at our home. She used to bring me and Gabrielle up Paris several times a year when she came up here on buying trips.”

Bill smiled, “We were hoping to take the two of you sightseeing tomorrow. A walking tour of Paris, see the cathedrals and Eiffel Tower, does that sound good?”

The younger couple nodded and Fleur beamed as she explained her plans for the next day. Talk flowed easily around the table as courses were brought to the table. Harry was pleased to get to know the two of them better without the pall of the war hanging over them. He had always admired Ginny’s oldest brother and enjoyed getting to know him better.

After dinner, the two couple walked back to the hotel taking advantage of the cool Paris night. Saying good night to the other couple, Harry and Ginny headed back into their room.

Ginny reached out for Harry, pulling him close. She kissed him softly at first with increasing passion. Harry responded eagerly pulling her close and running his hands through her hair. Wrapping one hand in her silky hair, his other hand roamed over her curves.

Pulling away slightly, Ginny took Harry by the hand and led him towards the bed. Turning her back to him, Ginny looked over her shoulder and smiled at her boyfriend. “Unzip me?”

He stepped closer to her, running an appreciative eye over him. He slowly unzipped her dress, enjoying the view that was uncovered. Ginny held her arms across her chest as he unzipped her dress.

Once he was done, she turned back to face him with a beautiful smile on her face. As he watched, she uncrossed her arms and the dress fell. Harry watched the dress fall and licked his suddenly dry lips unconsciously. He vaguely recognized the satiny scraps of fabric she wore as something new from today’s shopping, but his mind was more focused her.

“You are so beautiful,” he said reverently.

She blushed as she kicked off her heels. “You are a bit overdressed.”

Staring at her barely covered chest, he hurriedly shed his clothes leaving him in only his boxers. It was her turn to stare as she took in his toned chest and arms, she took a step towards him and reaching out she slid one of her hands down his flat stomach. She reached the waistband of his boxers and ran one finger under the edge.

Swallowing heavily, Harry asked, “Are you sure?”

She smiled up at him, “Yes.”

He pulled her closer and lifted her into his arms. Walking over to the bed, he gently laid her down in the centre of the bed. He climbed up onto the bed next to her. She reached out for him and kissed him deeply, he settled himself between her thighs, groaning at the delicious pressure that created.

“Merlin, Gin,” Harry whispered. “You are so…incredible.”

Running one hand up his chest, she placed open-mouthed kisses on his chest. As his hands reached her chest, she reached around and opened the bra for him.

Staring down at her, he asked huskily, “Do we need to do the charm?”

She shook her head, “No, I took the potion.”

Pulling him down to her, the two became more heated and passionate. The pleasure soared between the two of them as they became one for the first time.

Back to index

Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Paris

Author's Notes: Thank to my beta StephanieO for her hard work! I want to say thanks for the Silver Trinket nominations - I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoy the story :)

Harry woke slowly the next morning. As he opened his eyes, the events of the night before flooded over him. He was sure there was a huge smile on his face, but he found that he really didn’t care.

Rolling over on his side, he gazed down at his still sleeping girlfriend. She was so beautiful. He couldn’t help himself, he leaned down and kissed her softly. After a few moments, her eyes fluttered open.

She smiled up at him, “Good morning, love.”

“Good morning,” Harry replied kissing her again.

She giggled and pulled him closer, “Let’s make this a really good morning.”

After they made love, they cuddled together. Harry wrapped his arms around her so she was lying with her head on his chest and one arm and leg wrapped around him. He sighed, he would be perfectly happy to never leave this room.

“We should get married.”

Ginny sat up a bit and looked down at him, “What?”

Harry blushed, “I didn’t say that right, did I?”

Disappointment crossed her face, “So you didn’t mean it.”

“No, baby, no. I did mean it. I love you and I want to marry you. I mean you are smart and strong and sexy and beautiful and we are so good together. I know we are really young, so maybe this isn’t the right time to ask, but I want to marry you.”

Ginny looked at him as though trying to read his thoughts. “Is it because we made love?”

“Not exactly,” Harry said squirming a bit. “I mean that’s part of it. I can’t imagine doing that with anyone else or feeling that way about anyone else. You’re it for me. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I mean I know you have another year of school left if you choose to go and you have plans and all of that…I just want to be there with you no matter what comes — as your husband.”

She continued looking at him for a few minutes and he got a sinking feeling that he had stuffed everything up. Finally he had to break the silence, “Did I ruin everything?”

Suddenly she smiled, “No, Harry. You didn’t ruin anything. Yes, I will marry you. I don’t know when, but I love you and I want to experience everything as your wife.”

Harry’s smile lit up his face, “Really?”

He jumped out of bed and lifted her into his arms, swinging her around. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Ginny giggled as she wrapped her arms around his neck, “You are so silly. Did you really think I would say no?”

Setting her back on the bed, Harry shrugged. “It took you long enough to answer. I just keep thinking that one day you’re going to realize you can do so much better than me.”

She shook her head, “No, I think we were made for each other.”

Turning his back on her, Harry walked over to his bag and started rummaging around in it. He returned to the bed with two boxes in his hand. Sitting on the bed next to her, he set one of the boxes down on the bed and opened the other. In the box was a beautiful square cut emerald with two smaller diamonds on either side.

He held the box out to her, “This was my mother’s ring. I…I hoped you would want to wear her ring, it would kind of include my parents in our wedding.”

Ginny gasped and covered her mouth with her hand, “Harry, that is beautiful.”

He nodded, “It is, I found it in my vault and thought it would be perfect for you.”

She held out her left hand and with a slightly shaking hand, Harry slid the ring on her finger. The ring automatically sized to her hand and she gazed down at it with a smile.

Leaning over, she kissed him. “It is perfect.”

He picked up the other box and opened it. Inside lay two plain gold wedding bands, one larger than the other. “These are my parent’s wedding rings…I had a thought…I don’t know maybe it’s stupid, but…” He picked up his father’s wedding band. “I want to get this made into an earring and wear it. I thought maybe you would do the same with my mother’s ring.”

“Harry, that’s a great idea,” Ginny said with a smile. “Maybe we could get that done today.”

Glancing over at the clock, she was surprised to realize that it was almost nine in the morning. She was kind of surprised that her brother hadn’t come knocking on their door yet.

“I expect my brother will be knocking on the door soon,” Ginny said a bit regretfully. “I would like to take a shower.”

“Oh, sure,” Harry said as he closed the box that held his parents’ wedding rings. He watched as she got up to head towards the bathroom.

“You’re okay, aren’t you?”

She flashed him a smile, “I’m fine, just a bit sore. Nothing I didn’t expect.”

A short time later, Ginny was getting dressed while Harry showered. A knock sounded at the door. Ginny smiled as she let Bill into the room. To her delight he was carrying a tray with a large basket of pastries and a pot of tea.

“Fleur is still getting ready,” Bill said as he placed the tray on the low table in the sitting area. “I hope you don’t mind. I ordered breakfast.”

“Not a problem,” Ginny said as she hugged her brother. “Harry’s in the shower, I expect he’ll be out soon.”

Bill nodded as he helped himself to a pastry. “So was this a good idea?”

“The absolute best,” Ginny said sincerely. “Thank you so much for arranging this.”

“You’re welcome.”

Ginny giggled, “Guess what?”

Bill raised his eyebrow and Ginny held out her left hand.

“Merlin, I didn’t expect that,” Bill said as he took her hand. Pulling her into a hug, he said, “I am so happy for you.”

“Thank you,” She beamed. “I didn’t really expect it either. He just asked me this morning. I don’t know when we’ll get married, next year or the year after, but it just seems so right.”

“Good,” Bill said.

“Well, that’s one worry off my mind.”

The siblings turned to see Harry standing behind them. Bill laughed, “A bit worried about the family’s reaction?”

“A little,” Harry admitted as he joined the siblings. “Where’s Fleur?”

Before Bill could respond, there was a knock at the door. “I bet that’s her.”

Fleur was thrilled to discover that Harry and Ginny were engaged. Ginny explained what Harry wanted to do with the wedding bands and Bill and Fleur were eager to help.

With a few spells, Bill was able to transfigure the rings into earrings. Fleur pierced Harry’s ear first.

Turning to look in the mirror, Harry was thrilled with how well it turned out. He looked at Ginny. She grinned, “I think it looks sexy.”

He blushed, but returned the grin.

“You don’t have your ears pierced at all,” Fleur remarked.

“I always wanted to have my ears pierced, but my Mum isn’t a huge fan of earrings,” Ginny explained with a laugh. “I think that was part of the reason she was upset at Bill’s earring.”

Fleur laughed, “I think it looks sexy.”

Turning back to her sister-in-law she said, “I can either just do one piercing for this ring or I can pierce your ears and add this as a second piercing in one ear.”

Ginny looked at her reflection in the mirror, she had always imagined having pierced ears. She looked over at Harry, “What do you think?”

“I think you would look great with the double piercing,” Harry replied promptly.

“I don’t have any earrings,” Ginny said.

Fleur smiled, “Don’t worry, ma soeur. I’ll be right back.”

She hurried over to her room and returned a few minutes later with a small pair of diamond earrings in her hand. “These will be perfect. We can find something you like later, but you should leave these in for a few weeks.”

“Okay,” Ginny said with a smile.

She secured her hair back in a ponytail and waited for her sister-in-law to cast the spells. She felt the warmth of the spells hit her ears, but to her surprise there was no pain. “Wow, that didn’t hurt at all.”

“Bon! That means I did it correctly.”

Ginny turned to Harry, “What do you think?”

He smiled as he loosened her hair, “I think it looks beautiful.” Leaning in he placed a gentle kiss on her lips. “Thank you for agreeing to do this.”

“Thank you for asking,” Ginny whispered. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a heartfelt embrace.
Soon after, the two young couples were walking down Rue des Bernardins towards the Seine River. Ginny looked at all of the shops and hotels in amazement, she’d really never seen anything like it. While she’d been to London before, most of it was spent in the magical section, not the Muggle areas.

“It is so beautiful here,” she remarked as they came within view of the Pont de l'Archevêché that would take them across the Seine to Île de la Cité. “Is that a cathedral?” Ginny asked, wishing not for the first time she had learned a bit more Muggle history.

“That’s Notre-Dame, isn’t it?” Harry asked.

“Oui,” Fleur replied. “I thought you two might like to see Notre-Dame and La Sainte-Chapelle. They are two truly beautiful churches and then I thought we could walk down the Seine towards the Tuileries garden. Does that meet with your approval?”

Everyone agreed and as they headed across the bridge, Harry said Fleur, “I remember learning about Notre-Dame in primary school, but I don’t remember much.” He laughed, “The main thing I remember is the Flying Buttresses because everyone thought that was such a funny phrase.”

Fleur smiled, “Notre-Dame is one of our most famous landmarks. I used to love to come here as a child and stare at the stained glass.”

Looking around Harry asked, “This is going to sound like a stupid question, but do wizards go to church?”

“That’s not a stupid question,” Bill replied as they started walking toward the entrance to the cathedral. “The short answer is some do. I think that the magical community in general is a bit distrustful of the religious community, but there are still those who attend church. There are probably witches and wizards in just about every religion in the world. My family has never been overly religious, but we learned the basics and Mum used to have a Children’s Bible for us to read when we were little.”

“My parents attend church regularly,” Fleur said as they reached the entered the cathedral. “I enjoy going to church services, but I haven’t gone lately.”

As they entered, Harry was amazed at the sheer size and majesty of it. Reaching out for Ginny’s hand, the two of them peered at statues and goggled at the stained glass.

“I will get us tapes so we can take the audio tour.” Fleur stated after they’d looked around for a few moments. Bill and Harry nodded.

“What does she mean?” Ginny whispered.

Harry smiled, “Do you see those people over there with the ear buds?”

Ginny looked around and nodded, “Yes, aren’t those like those phones you were telling me about?”

“The ear buds can be used for more than just phones,” Harry explained. “You can listen to music or in this case they have information about the cathedral. A lot of historical sites have them so you don’t have to wait for a guided tour, you can wander around on your own, but still learn about the place you are visiting.”

Fleur returned with audio players for everyone and soon they were walking around the cathedral listening to history and learning about its architecture, statues, and windows.

Upon leaving Notre Dame, Fleur led them over to La Sainte-Chapelle. “I think you will really like this. This chapel was built by King Louis IX to house all of his relics. He had obtained the Crown of Thorns, the Holy Lance, and a fragment of the True Cross. What most people don’t know is that he also collected magical relics, I will show you when we enter. There is a separate section for that collection.”

“So did Louis IX know about magic?” Harry asked in surprise.

“Oui, the magical and Muggle community lived in harmony for many centuries here in France. It wasn’t until after the Revolution that the Ministry of Magic was founded. Several Dark Wizards participated in the Reign of Terror that followed the Revolution, and after they were brought to justice, the families left withdrew from society.

“Vercingetorix was a powerful wizard who helped unite Gaul and fight the Romans. His wand is one of the relics housed here, as well as the sword that brought down Benoit Roux, one of the participants in the Reign of Terror. There is even a cauldron that is reputed to have been used by Merlin.”

After exploring La Sainte-Chapelle, the two couples crossed the river and headed towards the Tuilleries gardens. They walked past the Louvre and entered the gardens. The garden with its board walkways and beautiful statues was beautiful. Harry thought they were a bit too regimented, but they were still pretty.

By mid-afternoon, they were eating at a café located between the Louvre and the gardens. Talk flowed easily between the four of them. Once the sandwiches had been dispensed with, they watched the tourists rushing by.

Ginny looked around the table and she was filled with contentment and warmth. She wished the rest of her summer could be like this. As she listened to the others talk she realized that she had some decisions to make and she needed to make them quickly.

“What’s wrong, love?”

Ginny smiled at her fiancé, “I’m just thinking about what I need to do.”

“What do you mean?” Bill asked curiously.

“I’m not sure I want to go back to Hogwarts,” Ginny said. “I really hate it there.” She glanced over at her older brother, “It’s really not fair. I listened to all of the stories you guys told and it seemed like the most magical place in the world. Magic, pranks, Quidditch, I mean what’s not to like. Then I started Hogwarts — the only good year I had was my fifth year.

“Part of me wants to say screw it, I want to play Quidditch and I don’t need my NEWTs, but another part of me wants to have a good year at Hogwarts.” Ginny lapsed into silence playing with the straw in her drink.

“So what do you think you will do?” Bill asked curiously.

Ginny groaned, “I don’t know.”

“Okay, if you don’t go back, what will you do?” Bill asked reasonably.

“Play Quidditch,” she replied promptly. She sent a sideways looks at Harry, “And get married.”

Harry smiled at her, “If that’s what you want, love.”

“But then I start thinking about everything we fought for and it seems like giving up not to go back,” Ginny said. “I’ve been thinking about things we could do to make things better.”

“Like what?” Bill asked.

Ginny leaned forward and explained her ideas. To her delight, her three companions not only all liked her ideas, they added ideas of their own. She ended up jotting down some of their ideas on a serviette. If she had to go back to school, she was going to make it the best year yet.
He smiled as he thought about his holiday with Ginny in Paris. It had been an amazing trip in more ways than one. In the end he and Ginny had decided not to announce their engagement until after her birthday. While it was not a perfect solution, Harry had deferred to Ginny when she decided she didn’t want to upset her mother more than necessary. Fleur had taught them the charms to hide her engagement ring until they were ready to share their news.

He finished his third circuit around the Burrow before starting on his sit ups. As he exercised, he looked up at the still dark house. He had been a bit surprised that Ginny hadn’t joined him this morning as she had been joining him most mornings to exercise.

As he finished his last push up, a light came on in the kitchen. Standing, he wiped his face on the towel he’d left on the porch before entering the kitchen. Instead of Mrs. Weasley, he found a much younger female Weasley putting on the kettle for tea.

“Good morning, beautiful.”

Ginny turned and smiled, “Good morning.”

As she neared him to hug him, he warned, “I’m all sweaty.”

“I don’t care,” Ginny replied as she fit snugly in his arms. He held her tightly and ran one of his hands down her hair. He dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

“Nightmare, baby?”

She nodded into his chest, “I had that same stupid dream about Carrow torturing me in the dungeon. “

Harry nodded and held her tightly. In the two months since the battle, both of their nightmares had lessened, but they both still had them.

After a moment she pulled away and looked up into his face, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, love.” Harry replied. He was truly glad that he was able to provide comfort to her. “Do you think…do you think it’s because you’re headed to Hogwarts today?”

She sighed, “I think maybe so.” She pulled out of his arms and headed over to the cupboard. “You will be there, right?”

He nodded, “I will. Kingsley asked us to help with the rebuilding effort. We’re hoping we can finish clearing the rubble from around the Astronomy tower today. If you need anything, come get me.”

She smiled, “I will, I promise.”

“Good.” Harry replied. “I’m going to run upstairs and take a shower, I’ll be back.”

Twenty minutes later Harry rejoined Ginny in the kitchen. He poured himself some cereal and helped himself to some toast. The two talked quietly until they heard steps on the stairs. After a moment, Ginny sighed, “It’s Dad.”

She got up to get a cup of tea and prepare some toast for her father. If her father came down first, that meant her mother was having a ‘bad day.’ Unfortunately, her bad days were outnumbering her good days.

“Hi, Daddy.” Ginny said as her father entered the kitchen. He looked a bit worn and tired. She kissed her father on his cheek and set his tea and toast down in front of him.

“Hello, love.” Mr. Weasley replied before greeting Harry. He turned back to his daughter, “I talked to Bill last night. He should be over soon and he’ll take you over to Hogwarts.”

“I’m a big girl, Dad.” Ginny said a touch sulkily. “I can get to school by myself.”

“I thought Ron was coming with us today,” Harry commented.

“He is, but Molly felt it more appropriate for Bill to take her over.”

“Mum is acting like I’m still a little girl,” Ginny burst out.

“She’s scared,” Mr. Weasley explained with a sigh. “Please, just indulge her.”

The Floo flared up and Bill emerged. He greeted everyone with a smile and he clapped his father on the shoulder as he joined them at the table.

Looking over at his sister, he smiled, “Are you about ready to go?”

She nodded, “Let me just go grab my cloak. I’ll be right back.”
Ginny took a shaky breath as she looked out over the once pristine grounds. Now there were holes in the grounds, some small and some large almost crater-like black holes. The grass was torn and brown and there were holes in the landscaping where bushes and trees had been upended and torn out. The edge of the Forbidden Forest was raggedy with large swaths of trees missing.

The castle itself was a hive of activity. Workers were clearing away broken stone, glass, and furniture. She could see a crew of workers on scaffolding working on the Astronomy tower.

“Are you okay?”

Ginny turned to her boyfriend, “I’ll be fine. It’s just a bit…shocking to see everything like this.”

“I know,” Harry sighed, “I thought the repairs would be happening much more quickly.”

She nodded, “I know.”

Glancing at her watch, she said, “I’d better get going.”

Bill looked at the others, “I’m going to head to work.” He kissed his sister on the cheek, “Good luck, sweetie.”

“Thanks, Bill.”

With that he headed back to the gates to Apparate to London. Ron cleared his throat, “I’m going to check in over there.” He gestured to the tent set up near the Astronomy tower.

Harry nodded, “I’ll join you in a few minutes.”

Ron headed towards the Astronomy Tower while Harry and Ginny headed towards the castle hand-in-hand. Ginny took a ragged breath as she passed the spot where Hagrid had laid down Harry’s lifeless body. She looked over at him and managed a wan smile. He squeezed her hand. “Are you okay?”

She nodded, “Yes, just bad memories.”

Entering the Great Hall, they were greeted by a witch in Ministry robes. “Good morning, are you here to work or take exams?”

“I’m here to work,” Harry said.

“I’m here to take my sixth year exams,” Ginny said.

“Excellent,” the witch said with a smile. Her eyes widened as she realized who was in front of her. “Mr Potter, it is an honour to meet you.”

“Thank you,” Harry said blushing.

“All workers are to check in at the tent near the Astronomy Tower.”

“Okay,” Harry said. He turned to Ginny and kissed her quickly, “Good luck. I’ll be here if you need me.”

After watching Harry head outside, Ginny turned back to the witch who smiled at her, “What is your name, dear?”

“Ginny Weasley.”

“Miss Weasley, Professor McGonagall would like to see you once your exams are complete.” The witch announced as she examined the clipboard in front of her.

Ginny nodded her understanding, she had asked for a meeting so she was glad the Professor was able to meet with her. She headed into the room where exams were being conducted, clearing everything else from her mind.

Several hours later, Ginny headed up to the seventh floor entrance to the Headmistress’ office. The gargoyle had been repaired and was sitting back upright; for some reason that comforted her. Something was getting back to normal. Giving the gargoyle the password she’d been given, Ginny headed up to the office.

She paused a moment before knocking on the door to gather her thoughts. This was a meeting that she had requested, but one that she felt was very important. She had dressed carefully for this meeting. Instead of her usual casual summer clothes, she was wearing black trousers and a pretty dark green blouse. It was important that she look her best for this meeting.

Knocking on the door, she entered when bidden. She smiled at the sight of her Head-of-House.

“Good morning, Professor.”

“Good morning, Miss Weasley,” Professor McGonagall greeted her student. “Please have a seat.”

Ginny sat in one of the chairs in front of the desk while Professor McGonagall settled behind the desk. The large portrait of Professor Dumbledore was displayed prominently on the wall while a much smaller portrait of Professor Snape was placed among the other portraits of former Headmasters.

After offering Ginny a biscuit from the plaid tin on her desk, the older witch said, “How were your exams, Miss Weasley?”

“I think I did well,” Ginny said with a smile. “I’m glad I got them over with.”

“Good,” Professor McGonagall replied. “I received your letter. What can I do for you, Miss Weasley?”

“I wanted to talk to you about the upcoming school year,” Ginny said.

Professor McGonagall nodded and Ginny continued.

“I have to be honest with you, ma’am, I don’t really want to return to school this year. This past year was so horrible and after watching so many people die here, I really don’t want to be here,” Ginny stated. “But I realized that I don’t want to let the Death Eaters deprive me of my education.”

“I do understand and I am pleased to hear that you plan to return,” Professor McGonagall replied.

Ginny smiled, “The reason I asked for this meeting is to let you know what I believe would help the returning students. I have spoken with many of the students both last year and over the summer, and we wanted to let you know our thoughts.”

“Of course,” Professor McGonagall said. “The faculty and I realize that this past year was awful and whatever we can do to help we will be happy to consider.”

“First and foremost,” Ginny began, “is security. None of us felt very safe over the past year. We had Death Eaters teaching us and Death Eaters attending class with us. Unforgivables were being used as punishment. I’ve heard rumours of certain students taking advantage of others, especially the girls. I know that Carrows’ helpers would routinely offer to skip punishment for any of the girls if the girls would ‘perform’ for them. That pig, Zabini, told me he would not use the Cruciatus if I would…” Ginny blushed but continued, “perform oral sex on him. He was shocked that I chose the Cruciatus.”

Professor McGonagall paled and Ginny was happy to see her pull out a sheet of parchment and begin making notes. Looking up at the young girl, the older witch said, “I am truly sorry for what you endured last year. We tried to protect you as much as possible, but I know we could not protect everyone. I will tell you that we have the workers placing new charms in the castle. Any use of an Unforgivable will alert the staff, and a system is being put in place that any student just need to call for help and again the staff will be alerted. All of the protections on the girls’ dorms have been reinstated so no boys or men will be allowed in the girls’ dorms.”

Ginny smiled, “Thank you. That is great to hear.”

“We also have a new zero tolerance policy towards those with the Dark Mark,” Professor McGonagall explained. “Any student found having the Dark Mark will be expelled and any staff member found having the Dark Mark will be asked to leave.” She looked up at Professor Dumbledore’s portrait, where he sat on his large chair, sleeping. “Professor Dumbledore always saw the best in everyone and never stopped trying to offer a different path, but I don’t feel I have that option. This school has been terrorized by those with the Dark Mark long enough and I will not allow them in the school.”

“Thank you,” Ginny breathed.

Professor McGonagall handed Ginny a sheet of parchment, “Is this a complete list of the Carrows’ helpers?”

Ginny read over the list carefully, “I believe so, but please ask Neville or Seamus to look over the list. I’d hate for someone who joined at the end of the war escape because I didn’t know who they were.”

The professor nodded and set the parchment down on her desk. Ginny stole a look up at Professor Dumbledore’s portrait. She relaxed slightly when she saw he was sleeping; her feelings about him were rather mixed.

“I know what I am going to say might sound a bit disrespectful, but I feel it needs to be said,” Ginny began.

“Go ahead, dear.”

“Professor Dumbledore kept professors who really had no business teaching because he was trying to keep them safe. Professor Tralawney predicts a student’s death every year; do you know how distressing that is? Professor Snape, no matter how much he may have done for our cause, was a horrible teacher. He bullied and insulted anyone who wasn’t a Slytherin. He was especially awful to Harry. Professor Binns — he needs to go. He is horribly boring and doesn’t teach us anything that is useful. If I had been taught Tom Riddle’s name, my first year would have turned out much differently. How is it I didn’t recognize the name of the worst Dark Wizard in recent history? Our students need to know about our recent history and how it affects all of us.” Ginny blushed. “I know it can’t be easy being Headmaster of Hogwarts, but I think the students need to be the first priority.”

“I agree that the students need to be our first priority,” Professor McGonagall agreed. “I hadn’t even thought about Professor Binns, he’s just been here so long. I will make a new history professor a priority. I have had several talks with Professor Tralawney and she has decided to go into private practice.”

Ginny smiled, “Good. Harry never really complained, but I know he hated being told he was going to die all the time.”

“What else can we do?” Professor McGonagall asked.

“I think we need to make sure the students can communicate with their parents.”

“What do you mean? We encourage them to write to their parents,” Professor McGonagall replied.

Ginny nodded, “I know you do. Colin told me that in Muggle schools they have something called a parents’ weekend. I was thinking we could combine a parents’ weekend and Hogsmeade weekend. If we have the parents meet in Hogsmeade, the Muggle parents could be taken to the school if they would like to see it. Maybe we could have some of the older students give tours of the castle. It would give the students a chance to show their parents what they can do and it will give the parents the chance to see the school and meet all of the teachers.”

“That is a very interesting idea,” Professor McGonagall said as she took notes. “I have missed that interaction with the parents. Parents who attended Hogwarts I know, but other parents don’t feel as comfortable answering owls or corresponding with someone they have never met.”

Ginny smiled, happy that her idea was so well received. “In the DA we talked about that, and as I said Colin gave me the idea. That also gave me the idea of having more of a common area for the different houses to mix. It’s hard right now to meet your friends in other houses; we can meet in the library or outside, but it would be great to have a room were we could meet and talk.”

“To encourage unity among the houses,” Professor McGonagall nodded. “In the past, we have had a common room accessible to all of the houses, but during the first war the animosity between the houses became too much to handle. We can certainly look into restarting that.”

She smiled at her student, “I am very pleased with your suggestions. I think that for this coming year we need to provide that feeling of home and safety. That will be our biggest priority this year. I really like the idea of the parents’ weekend. I will talk to Professor Flitwick and see what we can arrange.”

“Thank you,” Ginny replied sincerely. “My last suggestion is actually one given to me by my brother. He suggested we have both a Muggle Studies and a Wizarding Studies for the first year students. It would expose the wizarding children to Muggles and help the Muggleborn students understand our world better. Harry still runs into things he doesn’t understand or just has never heard of, even after seven years in our world.”

Professor McGonagall nodded, “We have discussed that among ourselves. Once I have a Muggle Studies professor I will discuss that with them.” She looked down at her desk, “I really like the idea of the Wizarding Studies. I will have to think about that, see how it would work.” She wrote a few more notes on her parchment.

“Miss Weasley, You have given me a lot to think about and I appreciate that not all of this was easy to tell me. Thank you for coming to me. I have to say I am thrilled that you have chosen to take the position of Head Girl for the upcoming year,” Professor McGonagall said. “I know you were not a prefect, but in talking to the other students you have truly been a leader. The way you looked after the other students last year, I think you will make a wonderful Head Girl.”

“Really?” Ginny asked in surprise. She had accepted the position of Head Girl, but to hear other students thought of her as a leader was encouraging.

“Yes,” Professor McGonagall. “The other professors have commented on it as well.”

Ginny smiled, “Thank you.”

“I am hoping you will continue in the role of Quidditch captain as well. I know you didn’t get to play last year with the season being cancelled, but you were who I had chosen to replace Mr Potter as captain.” Professor McGonagall said with a smile. “As headmistress, I am supposed to be impartial, but I am still a bit biased towards my lions.”

Ginny laughed, “I would be thrilled to be both the Head Girl and Quidditch Captain.”

“Excellent,” Professor McGonagall replied. She softened a bit, “How is your mother?”

Ginny shrugged, “I don’t know. Some days she doesn’t even come out of her room and other days…she is acting like we are little kids. I don’t know how to explain it. Ron and I will go swimming and she fusses over us to make sure we have the Sunscreen Charm and tells him to watch out for me. I can’t even imagine how hard this all must be for her, so I am trying to just get along with everyone.”
Professor McGonagall nodded, “I also can only imagine how difficult it must be for her. I am glad she had you and your brothers at home to provide her comfort. I understand that Percy and George are both staying at the Burrow.”

“Yes, my mum is thrilled to have so many of us at home.”

A knock at the door caused both women to look up. “Come in!” Professor McGonagall called.

Harry and Professor Flitwick entered.

“Hello, Professor.” Harry said with a smile.

“Harry, it is good to see you. Please sit down.”

Harry grinned at Ginny and shyly kissed her on the cheek. He sat next to her while Professor Flitwick sat on her other side.

“How has your summer been, Harry?”

He smiled, “It’s been really good actually. I’ve been working with Kingsley, helping to prosecute the Death Eaters. Mr Robards has me doing physical training every morning and I have a lot of books to read. Seamus and I will officially start Auror training in September.”

“I heard the Goblins had you working at Gringotts,” Professor Flitwick said with interest.

He nodded, “As part of the reparations, I worked with a Goblin warding crew in the lower levels repairing some of the damage we caused. I also had to pay a small fee, but now I can use Gringotts without any difficulty.”

“That is good,” Professor Flitwick replied, his eyes sparkling. “I’ve heard that many of the Goblins were well very impressed with your work ethic.”

Harry blushed while Ginny smiled proudly.

“Minerva, young Mr Potter had an excellent idea we wanted to share with you.”

Professor McGonagall looked over at Harry. “Yes, Mr Potter.”

Harry squirmed a bit, “I was reading about some advanced charms and it seems there is a charm that can mark where those who died in battle fell. We can modify the charm and mark those who died on our side with a white star. It would have the person’s name and dates. For those who died fighting for the other side, they would be marked with a black circle.”

“What is your reason for including both sides?” Professor McGonagall asked.

“I think people need to see that those who died on both sides came from the same place. Not to honour them exactly, but to show that our choices in life really do matter.” Harry explained earnestly.

Professor McGonagall nodded, “I think it’s an excellent idea.”

Turning to Harry, Professor Flitwick asked, “Would you like to cast the charm?”

“Me?” Harry looked surprised.

“Yes,” both professors said firmly. Professor Flitwick reviewed the charm with the young wizard.

“Does it matter where I am when I cast the charm?” Harry asked a bit nervously.

“No,” Professor Flitwick replied. “As long as you are on the grounds you can cast the charm. Why don’t you do it here?”

Standing, Harry drew his familiar holly wand and cast the charm as he had been shown. A bright light shone around him before branching off and leaving the room in many brightly lit strings.

“Excellent,” Professor McGonagall said. “Shall we go see the results of your spell?”

Standing, Harry held out his hand for Ginny. The two of them headed downstairs hand-in-hand trailing after the professors. Ginny gasped when they came across the first white star. It read — Elizabeth Allen born 4 Jan 1955 died 2 May 1998. There was a small badger engraved above her name.

“Can we go see w-where F-fred…?” Ginny trailed off unable to put her request into words.

“Why doesn’t Mr Potter take you while I review your excellent suggestions with Professor Flitwick.?” Professor McGonagall asked almost tenderly.

Harry smiled his thanks as he and Ginny headed back up towards the seventh floor corridor where Fred lost his life. The young couple didn’t feel the need to talk as they walked, just taking comfort in the other’s presence.

They passed another white star and two black circles before they found Fred’s star. Ginny knelt down and read her brother’s star.
Fred Weasley born 1 April 1978 died 2 May 1998.

There was a lion above his name. She traced the words, barely aware of the tears making their way down her face. Harry sat down on the cool stone floor next to her, his knees drawn up with his arms hanging limply off his knees.

“I’m glad that he will be here for others to remember,” Ginny said after a while. “I wasn’t so sure about this when you first mentioned it, but I like the idea of a little memorial to each of those who died.”

“Good,” Harry said. “I just…I think it’s so important that we don’t forget all of those who died.”

Ginny wiped her tears away, “I should get back home.”

“Your mum will be so proud of you — Head Girl and Quidditch Captain. That’s brilliant.” Harry enthused as he helped her to her feet.

She smiled and hugged him tight, “Thank you.”

“I’d better head back out to work. Ron and I should be home in time for tea.”
“There you are, dear.” Mrs. Weasley said as her daughter tumbled out of the Floo. “How were your exams?”

“I think they went well,” Ginny replied. “I had a meeting with Professor McGonagall while I was there.”

“What about, dear? You weren’t bothering her, were you? She’s a very busy woman right now.”

Biting back her annoyance, Ginny said, “No, we were meeting about our plans for next year. Professor McGonagall really does want me to be both the Head Girl and Quidditch Captain! I mean she offered the Head Girl position a few weeks ago, but today she was telling me how she and the other professors were impressed with my leadership ability.”

Mrs. Weasley stared at her daughter for a moment. “That’s nice, dear, but that’s a lot of responsibility. Are you certain you are up for it?”

Ginny felt tears sting her eyes, before she blinked them away. Ron had been angry when she’d first been named Head Girl, thinking that Hermione deserved it more, but she never expected the same attitude from her mother. She wasn’t going to let her mother know how much she’d hurt her. “I am certain, Mother. Professor McGonagall was certain that I would be able to do both.”

After a moment, Mrs. Weasley looked up, “I’m sorry, dear. Congratulations! I will let your father know. He will be thrilled. Charlie will be excited to hear that you are Quidditch captain.”

She smiled at her daughter, “Why don’t we have a nice roast beef for dinner? I’ll make one of those strawberry tarts that you like so well.”

Ginny smiled, “That would be great, Mum. Do you need any help?”

“No, I’m fine.” Mrs. Weasley replied with a tired smile. “Why don’t you go fly in the orchard for a while? I’ll call if I need any help.”
“Minerva, are you okay?” Professor Flitwick asked his long-time colleague as they returned to the Headmistress’ office.

She smiled shakily. “I am, I think it is just hitting me how horrible last year was for all of the students. I keep thinking of things I could have done differently or other ways I could have helped the children.”

“I know,” Professor Flitwick replied sadly. “The horrors these children saw is awful. We are going to need to work hard to counteract all of the bigoted information they were fed last year.”

The Headmistress nodded, “Miss Weasley actually had an excellent idea that might help with some of that.” She related Ginny’s ideas to her colleague.

He smiled, “We definitely chose well for our Head Girl.”

“We did,” Professor McGonagall replied. She sighed as she gazed up at Professor Dumbledore’s portrait. “I need new teachers for Muggle Studies, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, and Transfiguration. I have letters out for potential Defence and Transfigurations teachers. I have reviewed Charity’s records and am meeting with two of her top students — Mr Handel, if you recall he was in Hufflepuff, he graduated almost ten years ago and Miss Rossi, she was one of your Ravenclaws.”

He nodded, “Either of them would make an excellent addition to our faculty. Did I understand you to say you are replacing Binns?”

“Miss Weasley pointed out the deficiencies of some of our former staff. She mentioned that if she had known who Tom Riddle was her first year, it may have turned out quite differently.”

“That is true,” he said sadly. He looked up suddenly, “I think I might have a candidate for that position. I’ve kept in touch with one of our old students, Michael Carter. Do you remember him?”

Professor McGonagall’s brow furrowed for a moment as she tried to place him. “Yes, I remember him. He was an excellent student and not a bad Quidditch player.”

“Yes, he’s been studying in Rome for the past several years and he wrote to me after the battle. His uncle was killed and he came home to stay with his mother for a while; she was widowed during the first war. I could write and see if he would be willing to meet with us.”

“That would be very welcome,” Professor McGonagall replied gratefully.

As Professor Flitwick left, she relaxed into her chair for a moment. Running the school was much more difficult than Albus had ever let on.

Back to index

Chapter 4: Chapter 4 Visiting Hermione

Author's Notes: Thanks to my wonder beta StephanieO! Thank you for the Trinket nominations as well - I really appreciated them :)

Harry returned to the Astronomy Tower feeling as though he'd accomplished something. As he neared the spot where he'd been working, he caught sight of two white stars next to each other. He dropped to his knees beside the stars, his good feelings evaporating. One star read — Remus John Lupin born 10 March 1960 died 2 May 1998 and the other read Nymphadora Tonks Lupin born 12 February 1973 died 2 May 1998.

Reaching out he traced the letters with his finger. In preparing for the upcoming trials, Harry had learned that Remus and Tonks had died out on the grounds, but to actually see it was something else. He felt his eyes well up, but determinedly blinked any tears away. He smiled at the sight of the badger under Tonks' name. He had only found out recently that she had been in Hufflepuff. It seemed to suit the big hearted Auror.


Turning, Harry saw Ron coming towards him. "Ron, sorry I took so long."

"No worries, mate." Ron gestured to the stars that littered the grounds. "Is this the charm you were talking about?"

Harry nodded, "Yeah, I wanted to find a way to honour those who fought and died here."

"I like that," Ron said firmly. "I like the thought that future generations will know my brother g-gave his life for a good cause."

"I hope that Teddy will be able to appreciate it," Harry said as he got to his feet. "I didn't know really how or where my parents died until my third year. I hope having the stones here doesn't cause too much pain."

"Nah," Ron replied. "I think it's a great idea."

The two friends started walking towards the tent that had been set up for meals. "So is Ginny finished with her exams?"

"She will be coming back tomorrow to finish the practical portions," Harry explained. "She took the written exams today."

"I'm glad I'm done with that," Ron said.

Harry laughed, "I agree."

Sitting down at one of the long tables, Harry grabbed a few sandwiches while Ron loaded up his plate.

"Do you have any plans this weekend?" Ron asked.

"Not that I know of," Harry replied.

"Do you think you'd like to come to Hermione's house with me? Her parents invited us for lunch on Saturday."

"Do you want me to go?" Harry asked. "I'd have thought you would want some time with Hermione."

Ron's ears reddened. "I would like some time with Hermione, but I don't think that is likely to happen. I'm a bit nervous about going to a Muggle house, I've never been in one before. I'm likely to make a fool of myself."

Harry laughed, "Knowing how much your house amazed me when I first visited, I imagine you'll be surprised by all sorts of things."

"Probably," Ron said gloomily. "So will you come? Hermione specifically said she wants to see you."

"Let me check with Ginny, but I think we'll be able to come."

Ron frowned slightly, he hadn't meant to invite Ginny. Looking over at his best mate, he decided he probably shouldn't say anything. Hermione had said he could bring anyone he wanted.

"How's she doing?" Harry asked.

Ron shrugged, "It's hard to tell. Her parents found a place to reopen their practice — I'm still not sure what that means — and Hermione is helping them clean and get the place ready to open."

After lunch, the two returned to the pile of rubble upon which they'd been working. They had developed a rhythm for the painstaking process of checking each stone. Each stone was checked for curses, reversing or removing the curses, and then sending the stones to either be used in the rebuilding or destroyed if it had been saturated with Dark Magic.

Many former Hogwarts students had volunteered for the rebuilding effort. Neville, Susan Bones, and Hannah Abbott were working in the Greenhouses with Professor Sprout to salvage the plants they could. Seamus and Dean were working on the other side of the tower while Oliver Wood, Alicia Spinnet, and Cho Chang were working on the Quidditch pitch. Madam Pince had recruited a group that included Ernie MacMillan, Katie Bell, and Lisa Turpin to help put the library to rights.

By late afternoon, the pile of rubble was gone and the tower was looking much sturdier than it had in the morning. The team working on the Quidditch pitch reported that the pitch was intact and the stands had been rebuilt. The charms to protect the stands would be recast the next morning.

Harry and Ron were tired, but happy with the progress they'd made that day. Waving to the others, they Apparated back to the Burrow.
After dinner, Harry and Ginny walked out to the garden while Ron was telling his father about his day at Hogwarts.

"How was your afternoon?" Harry asked as they headed towards the orchard.

"It was actually really good," Ginny replied with a smile. "Mum was doing really well this afternoon. She was talking and cooking dinner. I went out to fly for a while and then I helped her finish dinner." Leaning up she kissed Harry on the cheek, "It wasn't quite as much fun as cooking with you, but it wasn't bad."

"Good," Harry said as they arrived at Ginny's favourite tree. It was a tall sturdy oak with a platform, not too high off the ground. He sat down on the ground and Ginny curled up on his lap with her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her, just enjoying the feel of her in his arms.

He listened as she told him about her meeting with Professor McGonagall. "I am so proud of you, baby. It sounds like she really listened."

Ginny nodded, "I think she did, she was taking notes and seemed really receptive to my ideas. I actually can't wait for our first prefects' meeting, now."

"Who is Head Boy?" Harry asked curiously.

"Bruce Miller," Ginny replied. "He's in Ravenclaw, he was in the D.A. He's about your height with brown hair and is in the Charms club."

Harry thought back to the D.A. for a moment. "Is he the one who helped with the Easter decorations my sixth year?"

Ginny giggled, "Yes, he's the one who charmed the bunnies to change colours and hop around the enclosure if that's what you mean."

"He seems like a nice guy," Harry said. "Have you talked to him about your plans? He might have some ideas."

"That's actually a great idea," Ginny said sitting up a bit. "I want to do something for Halloween, but I'm not sure what. I should see what he thinks."

Harry smiled as Ginny flowed with ideas for the upcoming school year. He was so proud of her, she was really going to make a difference for the next school year.

"Oh, I almost forgot," Harry said as Ginny grew silent. "We are invited to Hermione's house this weekend for lunch. You could talk to her about your ideas. She's still going to be prefect, right?"

"That sounds like fun," Ginny said with a smile. "I've missed her; I didn't really get to see her much before she left to stay with her parents. I'm assuming she will still want to be a prefect. Professor McGonagall appointed Hermione and Justin as 'eighth year' prefects."

"Harry! Ginny!"

Ron entered the clearing and spotted his sister. "Mum is looking for you. I think she's a bit upset about you being out when it's getting dark."

Rolling her eyes, Ginny stood and held out her hand for Harry's. "There's still plenty of light. I'm not going to get lost on the way back to the house."

"I know," Ron said. "She's a bit much these days, but it's better than her crying all of the time."

"I guess," Ginny said.
Harry entered his room later that night, surprised to find George sitting on the edge of his bed. He was holding a picture of Harry and Sirius that Harry had on his bedside table.

George looked up as Harry entered. "Oh, hi mate. Sorry…I was just…"

"That's okay," Harry said as George trailed off in confusion.

"How long does it take before it doesn't hurt every time you look at his picture?"

Harry sighed and sat on the end of his bed, "A while. I don't think I could look at a picture of Sirius until after that first Christmas. It would just hurt so badly or…I would get angry at him."

"You got angry at him?"

Blushing, Harry nodded. He had only ever admitted that to Ginny. "I got mad because he shouldn't have even been there and then he shouldn't have been taunting his stupid cousin. He wanted me to live with him and we could have been a family. I was angry at him for ruining that chance and then I'd get upset with myself for being angry at him."

George looked up for a minute and whispered, "I thought I was just horrible for being angry at him."

"No, mate." Harry said. "I think it's kind of normal."

"I just keep thinking what if I had been there, could I have done anything? Would it have made a difference?"

"I don't think so," Harry replied after a moment. "It happened so fast."

The two wizards sat in silence for a few minutes. George looked up, "Lee came and visited me today. He was asking about the shop and what I plan on doing. Part of me wants to say forget it, I don't want to do it. One the other hand, it was our dream for such a long time.

"Lee said Fred wouldn't want me to close the shop and he wouldn't want me being so sad, but…"

"It doesn't help, does it?" Harry asked.

George shook his head and wiped his eyes, "No." He sighed and flopped backwards on the bed. "I almost yelled at Ginny today for laughing. I was thinking what right does she have to be happy and laugh when Fred won't ever be able to laugh again. How sick is that? Me, yelling at someone for being happy, that's so wrong."

He glanced over at Harry and was relieved to see that Harry didn't seem upset with him. "I heard what you did at Hogwarts today. Ron was telling my parents. I think I like that idea, future generations knowing what happened."

Harry nodded, "That's why I did it. At the end of the last war, everyone just seemed to want to forget what had happened and look where that got us. I've heard people talk about the parties and the celebrations after…well after that Halloween. My parents were dead and everyone was celebrating. It just didn't seem right."

"Do you miss them?"

"Yes. I mean it's hard to miss them exactly because I never knew them, but I miss having parents. I used to hate Mothering Sunday — all the kids in class would make cards for their mums and I didn't have anyone to make a card for. I made one for Aunt Petunia once and she crumpled it up and threw it away." Harry looked away; he hadn't really meant to share that part.

"I wish they could be here," he whispered. "I wish they could have met Ginny."

He blinked back the tears, "Did I tell you about what happened before I died?"

George shook his head. It still astonished him that Harry had actually walked out into the Forest with the intention of letting that monster kill him.

"I had the Resurrection Stone," Harry said simply.

George blinked at him, "What? That's real?"

"Yeah, pretty unbelievable, right? Professor Dumbledore had hidden it inside of the snitch he left for me. He charmed it so I couldn't open it until I was walking to my death. I used it to summon my parents, Sirius, and Remus," Harry stopped as his voice cracked. He swallowed the lump that had developed in his throat. "It was an amazing gift. My parents told me how proud they were of me. Sirius and Remus didn't blame me for their deaths…it was brilliant. They…" He wiped tears from his eyes, looking over at George. "Sorry, I get a bit emotional thinking about them. It was like they were all together again watching over me and waiting for me whenever I join them. I kind of thought that F-fred would join them, you know? He'd get along great with my parents and Sirius and Remus. I bet they would look after him."

Harry trailed off thinking he probably sounded pretty stupid, but he hoped he had made sense to his friend.

George looked at him, a small smile spreading across his face. "I kind of like that, Fred hanging out with the Marauders waiting for me. That does actually help a lot, mate. Thanks."
Harry followed the other Auror recruits into a classroom. After helping at Hogwarts for the past two days, Kingsley had asked them to come into the Ministry for the last two days of the week. Head Auror Dawlish was waiting for them.

"Come in, everyone. Take a seat, one person per table."

Harry took a seat at the small table in the centre, front row. Seamus and Susan were on either side of him while Terry Boot, Katie Bell, and Michael Corner sat at the tables in the back row.

Once they were all seated, Dawlish explained the plan for the next two days. "This is the first Auror trainee class we've had in over five years. All of you are operating on different levels and have different backgrounds. Over the next two days, we plan on testing you to see what areas on which we need to concentrate our instructions. We may recommend further instruction or even one-on-one tutoring for you in different areas."

He looked around the room at each of them. "The first portion of each day will be written testing while the second part of the day will be practical testing. Everyone take out your quills and put away everything else."

After they complied, each student received several scrolls of parchment and the exam. Harry looked down at the exam and breathed a bit easier. The first question was about Dementors and how to get rid of them. As the morning wore on, Harry noticed the different sections of the exam. Defence had been the easiest for him, but to his surprise the Transfiguration was fairly easy for him as well. He had the hardest time with the History section of the exam. He had never done well in history, but he tried his hardest.

He set his quill down just as Dawlish called time. To his surprise, he felt pretty good as he watched the scrolls of parchment fly up to the front of the room.

"Why don't the six of you head down to get something to eat?" Dawlish said as he collected the scrolls. "After lunch, we will meet in this room and testing will be conducted in the next room. Once you have completed your Defence and Transfiguration practicals you are free for the rest of the day. I know it is tempting to go home and revise, but I would ask that you don't do that. Understood?"

The six slightly shell shocked students headed down to the Ministry canteen for lunch. Harry looked over at Seamus who looked just as dazed as he did, he smiled. "Not what I expected."

"Me neither, mate." Seamus replied. "Still I think I did pretty well."

"Except for the history part," Harry groaned. "I've never been good at history."

"Aye, that's true," Seamus said. "With Binns teaching, it was really nothing more than a time to nap."

"Did I tell you about Ginny?" Harry asked. "She had a meeting with McGonagall."

Over a lunch of burgers and chips, Harry told Seamus about Ginny's meeting with McGonagall.

"That does not surprise me," Seamus said. "Ginny has always been a ball of fire. Last year she was incredible, she looked after everyone. Me dad would have loved to visit Hogwarts, he was always curious about it from me and my mam's descriptions. I think that will really help with the Muggleborn families."

"I hope so," Harry said as he finished off his chips. "Ginny has really put a lot of thought and effort into her plans for next year."

Seamus nodded, "Is Ron getting better?"

"Yeah, it's been slow, but at least he's stopped going on about how Hermione earned the Head Girl spot." Harry said shaking his head. "Don't get me wrong, if we'd gone to school last year like normal I would have said Hermione for sure, but we didn't. Ginny has so many really good ideas, I think she's really earned it."

"I agree," Seamus said. "Ginny really came into her own as a leader last year. She's smart and compassionate and I think the younger students really respond well to her. Nothing against Hermione, but for as smart as she is, she isn't really good at helping others. She tends to get upset if you don't understand what she's said, but Ginny can explain things in a different way that makes sense."

Harry agreed, "Hermione does tend to expect us to understand things as well as she does."

Glancing at his watch, Harry said a bit louder, "We need to head back upstairs."

The afternoon was a blur to Harry. He felt he did well on both of his practical exams. He was especially proud of his Defence practical where he dueled and defeated Dawlish. The next day was much the same with written exams in the morning on Potions, Charms, and Herbology and practical exams in the afternoon. By Friday afternoon, Harry was worn out.
He arrived at the Burrow in the late afternoon to find Ginny in the kitchen. She was chopping vegetables.

"Hello, love." Harry said as he leaned over and kissed her. Reading the upset look on her face, he quickly washed his hands and asked, "What can I do?"

Sniffing, Ginny said, "Do you know how to make bread?"

Nodding Harry began gathering the ingredients. As he mixed up of the dough, he told her about his exams.

"What potion did you have to make?" Ginny asked curiously.

"I had to make a Blood Replenishing Potion," Harry said. "I've never made it before, but I think I did okay. Madam Kelley is the Potions Master who has been working with us and she is a great teacher. She explains annoying things like why it makes a difference if you stir clockwise or anti-clockwise. I never really thought about how the ingredients interact with each other or not."

Looking over, he could see that Ginny was lost in her own thoughts. He finished kneading the bread and set it to rise. Walking over to his fiancée, he wrapped his arms around her.

"What's wrong, baby?"

Ginny leaned back against him. "I am so tired of being upset and I hate crying."

With a sigh, Ginny turned around in his arms and buried her face in his chest. "Mum was down here earlier and we were talking about Quidditch. I made the mistake of telling her that George gave me Fred's broom to use for next year. I was pretty excited because it's a nice broom and neither George nor I broke down when he gave it to me. He said that he thought Fred would want me to have it and he would have been so proud of me for being named Quidditch captain. It was really nice because we were talking about Fred in a positive way. Mum lost it, she started crying and just headed up to her room in the middle of making dinner and I don't even know if I'm doing it right and I'm going to ruin dinner."

Harry pulled her close and just ran his hand down her hair, "I think that's great that you and George were able to talk about Fred. I'll help with dinner, it won't be ruined."

She relaxed into his arms, just letting the beat of his heart lull her into a calmer state of mind. After a few minutes, she looked up and smiled at him. Reaching up, she kissed him. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Looking around the kitchen, he asked. "What else needs to be done?"

Stepping out of his arms, she said, "I'm not sure. I added the vegetables to the stew. I'm not sure what else to do."

He walked over to the large cauldron and stirred the stew. He tasted it and started added spices and seasoning before tasting it again. "I think now we just need to let it simmer for a while. The bread can go in the oven in maybe a half an hour."

Ginny smiled up at him, "So you are saying that we are basically alone in the house and we have nothing to do for at least thirty minutes?"

He didn't bother to respond verbally as he leaned down and kissed her. She laughed and pulled him up to her room. "Can you set the Silencing Charms?"
Ginny woke a little while later in a panic, she hadn't really meant to fall asleep. Harry wasn't there, so she pulled her clothes back on and hurried downstairs. As she neared the kitchen she heard Harry and George talking. George was setting the table while Harry was cutting the bread.

Harry looked up and smiled at her as she walked in the kitchen. "Hi, beautiful."

She kissed him softly and whispered, "Why didn't you wake me?"

He shrugged, "You were tired." He smiled, "And you looked so peaceful I didn't want to wake you."

"Thank you."

"If you're done mauling my sister, do you need anything else done?" George asked with a slight smile.

Harry laughed as he handed George a slice of bread, "You can test my bread."

"This is really good," George said slightly surprised.

Before Harry could reply, Ginny called out. "Dad's on his way."

Harry glanced over at the Weasley family clock. Fred's hand had fallen off after his funeral and Mrs. Weasley had actually tried to break the clock. Mr. Weasley had saved the clock and hidden it for a while. He had only rehung the clock a week earlier.

"Here come Ron and Percy, as well," Ginny said watching their hands. She looked over at the other two, "I'm going to get some flowers for the table."
The next morning, Harry and Ginny returned from their run to find Ron already awake and in the kitchen. He was eating a large bowl of cereal.

"Morning, mate." Harry said as they entered the kitchen. "I'm surprised to find you up so early."

Ron shrugged, but the tips of his ears gave him away. "I'm a bit nervous about meeting Hermione's parents."

"I'm sure you'll be fine," Harry said as he got some water.

"I've never been to a Muggle house before," Ron said nervously. "I mean unless you count the few minutes I was in your aunt and uncle's house. What if I mess up? What if they don't like me?"

"I'm going to take a shower," Ginny said. She looked at her brother, "You'll be fine. They already know you're a wizard, they know you've never lived in a Muggle house. I'm sure they don't expect you to know everything."

An hour later, the three of them Flooed to Grimmauld Place. Kreacher hurried to greet them.

"Master Harry, I didn't expect you this morning."

"No, it's okay, Kreacher. We're just heading out to meet Hermione." He looked around the kitchen, "How's the redecorating coming?"

Kreacher drew himself up to his full height. "Would you like to see, Master?"

"Sure, we have a few minutes." Harry replied easily.

The three friends followed Kreacher up the stairs to the ground floor. The change was dramatic. Kreacher had removed the portrait of Mrs. Black and had replaced it with a picture of Harry and Sirius laughing together. It had been taken during the Christmas that they had spent together here at Grimmauld Place. Harry gasped.

"Did Kreacher do the wrong thing, Master?"

Harry shook his head, "No, Kreacher. That is perfect."

Ginny reached over and squeezed his hand, knowing that Harry still got emotional thinking about his godfather. "Thank you, Kreacher. Where did you get the picture?"

Turning to face her for the first time, Kreacher's eyes widened and he gasped. "Kreacher is sorry, Mistress. I did not greet you properly."

Ginny glanced over at Harry and he shrugged, house elves still confused him. "That's okay, Kreacher. I just wanted to know where you got the picture of Harry and Sirius."

By this time, Ron had started walking down the front hall looking at the other portraits that had been hung.

"Master Sirius had this picture in his room, Mistress. I thought the new Master would like the picture." Kreacher explained anxiously looking between the two of them.

"It's great," Harry said. He glanced at Ron who was at the far end of the hall. "Why are you calling Ginny, Mistress?"

"Because you have chosen her as your mate," Kreacher replied eyeing his master in confusion.

Harry smiled, "Can you keep that information to yourself for a while? No one knows yet."

"Of course, Master. Kreacher is loyal to Master Harry. I will not give away your secrets."

"Thanks." Harry said. He turned to Ginny, "What do you think?"

"I think it looks great," Ginny said. "The hall is so clean and bright. I don't really like all of the snakes, though."

Harry agreed, "Can you replace the snakes? Maybe with lions or phoenixes or whatever makes sense."

"Yes, Master."

Ron had rejoined them and the three of them headed out for King's Cross Station. The two Weasleys let Harry handle the purchase of tickets and docilely followed him to the appropriate track to wait for the train.
Hermione pulled up to the station and parked her parents' Volvo. Getting her drivers' license had been one of her goals this summer and she found that she really enjoyed driving.

As she entered the station and looked around, she squealed as she saw Ron looking around. Running over to him, she threw her arms around him. He picked her up, swinging her around before he set her down and kissed her. Hermione found herself lost in his kiss. She had missed him so much.

They broke apart a few minutes later and found Harry and Ginny standing a short distance away. Hermione blushed a bit; she had never really been one for public displays of affection.

"Harry! Ginny!"

She hugged the other two and gasped when she got a good look at Harry.

"Harry, oh my goodness." Hermione pulled back and looked at him. He looked so different to her. He had obviously filled out a bit and she could tell he'd been working out from the fit of his white t-shirt. The biggest surprise for her was the gold earring he was wearing.

She reached up to touch his earring, "When did you get this done?"

Harry laughed easily, "Last weekend actually. Fleur did it for me. It's my father's wedding band."

"Wow," she shook her head. "I never really pictured you with an earring before."

Ginny laughed, "I think it looks sexy."

Ron rolled his eyes while Hermione looked at her in a bit of confusion. She noticed the earring that Ginny was wearing as well. Reaching over she pushed Ginny's hair back a bit, "You got your ears pierced, too? I thought your Mum didn't want you to get your ears pierced."

Ginny shrugged, "Well, my Mum hasn't even noticed. Fleur did mine as well."

Looking between the younger couple, Hermione asked, "Is that your Mum's wedding band?"

Harry nodded as he put his arm around his fiancée, "Yeah, doesn't it look great?"

Nodding, Hermione started leading them out to the car park. "So you've been spending time with Bill and Fleur?"

"We went on holiday with them last weekend," Ginny explained.

Hermione enjoyed the drive back to the house. She pointed out her parents' new office as they passed by.

"I never realized you lived so close to Cambridge," Harry remarked as Hermione drove them through a beautiful neighborhood with well-established homes.

"Yes, I love it here," Hermione replied. "We're only a short walk from the village, but it's just a short drive to Cambridge. My parents have lived here for years."

"I was sorry to hear about their practice," Ginny said.

Hermione shrugged, but it was still a bit of a sore topic with her. "It's actually worked out. Their old practice was on the far side of Cambridge. They managed to find this new location right here in the village."

"That's good," Harry said.

Conversation was cut short as Hermione pulled off the road in front of a beautiful two story, detached brick home. Hermione skillfully pulled the car into the two car garage and led the way into the house.

She reached out for Ron's hand as she noticed Harry and Ginny walking hand-in-hand. Looking over she smiled, glad to see him after so long away. To her dismay, she noticed signs that he was very nervous and something else she couldn't quite identify. Instantly she was glad that Harry and Ginny were there, she hoped they would help keep Ron calm.

They entered the house and Hermione could smell her mother's leg of lamb roasting in the oven. The scent of the rhubarb tart her mother had made earlier combined with the lamb was mouth wateringly delicious. This was the first time she'd ever really had friends over for a meal and she was thrilled to be able to share her mother's cooking.

"Dad," Hermione smiled as her father stepped out of the kitchen to greet their guests.

Ron smiled tentatively at Hermione's father. He was tall, slender gentleman with silver hair and brown eyes. To Ron's relief, he smiled back and held out his hand.

"Hugh Granger."

"Hi, Mr. Granger, I am Ron Weasley."

Hermione beamed up at him before turning to her father, "Dad, this is Ron's sister, Ginny and my friend, Harry Potter."

She noticed her father gave her an odd look before he greeted the other two. By this time, her mother had come out of the kitchen and Hermione repeated the introductions.
Jane Granger smiled at her daughter's friends. When Hermione was in primary school, she hadn't really made many friends, so Jane had been thrilled when Hermione had made such good friends at Hogwarts.

"Welcome to our home," Jane said with a smile. "I thought we could have some drinks out in the garden."

She led the way out to her pride and joy, the garden. They had a multi-level stone patio around a beautiful water feature. Jane had just gotten the garden back to where she wanted it and the fish had been in the pond for almost a fortnight.

"Merlin, Mrs. Granger, this is beautiful," Ginny said as they sat down at the new table and chairs that was arranged just outside the kitchen.

"Thank you, dear." Jane poured glasses of lemonade for everyone from the large pitcher on the table.

Harry looked around at the flowers arranged in the planters that lined the upper patio. Once the patio ended, there were several large trees that led the way to a beautiful view of unbroken countryside. He nudged Ginny and whispered, "Look at all the lavender they have growing over there."

She giggled, "I love the butterflies. It makes the garden look alive."

Jane smiled at the girl, glad to have someone appreciate her garden. Looking around, she noticed that Hermione had taken Ron over to the other side of the garden. Deciding she wanted to get to know Hermione's other friends, she said. "I was so sorry to hear about your brother. How are your parents doing?"

Ginny's smile faltered a bit, but she replied. "My father is doing as well as can be expected. He said that working to undo the damage the Death Eaters have done to our world is his way of honouring my brother. My mum isn't doing so well, she has good days and bad and you never know what is going to happen."

She looked over at Harry, "Harry has spent a lot of time talking to George and he's in a much better place than he was a few weeks ago."

Harry blushed slightly, "I think he is doing better. He was talking about heading into the shop this week. I think it would be really good for him."

"What are your plans for next year?" Jane asked as Hermione and Ron joined them.

"I'm heading back to Hogwarts," Ginny said. "I wasn't really sure, but I had a meeting with Professor McGonagall this past week and she really liked my ideas. You might be interested, we are planning to have a parents' weekend this fall."

"Really?" Jane and Hugh looked thrilled at the idea. Hermione was a bit more undecided.

"But my parents are Muggles," Hermione pointed out.

"I know," Ginny replied. "I've talked to Professor McGonagall and we are going to have the Hogwarts Express pick up the parents Saturday morning and bring them back Sunday night."

Jane frowned, "I thought it took all day for the train to get to Hogwarts."

Ginny laughed, "It does because that's how the school set it up. The train is a magical train, so the trip will take about an hour."

"That sounds wonderful," Hugh said. "I've always wanted to see Hogwarts."

He looked over at Ron, "Are you planning to return to Hogwarts next year?"

Ron flushed, "No, sir. I am going to be helping my brother get his shop back together."

"Ron," Hermione looked shocked at that revelation.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I just can't go back. George really needs me," Ron said uncomfortably.

Hermione glared at him and he knew this wasn't the last he was going to hear about it. After a moment she glared over at Harry, "I suppose you aren't going back either?"

Harry calmly met her glare, "No, I'm not. I'm already working at the Ministry. Kingsley is letting us work part time this summer and in the autumn we will start full time. We spent the last two days in testing so they know where we are and what we will need to work on."

"I guess that makes sense," Hermione grudgingly admitted.

"You can't expect your friends to make all of the same decisions you have made, sweetie," Hugh said softly.

"I know," Hermione sighed. "I was just hoping that we would all have a nice peaceful year together."

"I was too," Ginny said, "but it will just be the two of us."

"We'll be in the same dorm," Hermione said, her eyes lighting up for the first time since the conversation began. "Parvati and Lavender won't be there."

"Nope," Ginny replied with a grin. "I think it will be you, me, Julia, Demelza, and Sarah."

"Oh, that will be nice," Hermione smiled. "I don't know Demelza as well, but Julia and Sarah are both really nice."

"Demelza's great," Ginny enthused, "I think you'll really like her."

Happy that his daughter seemed happier, Hugh turned back to Ron. "So what type of shop does your brother have?"

"He runs a joke shop," Ron explained. "They started with what they call Skiving Snackboxes, which are really brilliant sweets that can help you skive off classes. They have Fever Fudge and Fainting Fancies, for example. This last year they've really added a lot of defence items as well, such as shield hats and Peruvian Darkness Powder. They are really brilliant and have made loads of money from their shop. George was telling me last night about some new ideas he has. I'm actually really looking forward to working with him."

"That sounds wonderful," Jane said. "Is the shop on Diagon Alley?"

"Yes, ma'am." Ron replied a bit bashfully. "It's a great spot and George and I have talked about moving into the flat above the shop. George still isn't sure about going back there; he lived there with F-fred."

Jane nodded sympathetically. Harry piped up, "The two of you can always move into Grimmauld Place, mate. Right now it's only going to be me and Seamus in the place. I mean, you saw how Kreacher is working on cleaning it up."

Ron shrugged, "I'll talk to George and see what he thinks."
The meal went well. Ron tried his hardest to watch his table manners, but he really wasn't certain if he managed. Hermione glared at him a few times and shook her head when he would have had another helping of lamb, but overall he thought he did well.

After eating, he and Hermione strolled around the garden talking. He knew she wasn't happy about him not going back to Hogwarts, but to his delight she wasn't harping on it.

"Hermione, I'm sorry I didn't say anything to you about not going back to Hogwarts. I thought about it, but…really I think that George needs my help." Ron said softly.

She sighed, "I know and I think it's wonderful that you want to help him." She smiled up at him. "I just worry about you not finishing school. You will come visit me, won't you?"

"Of course," Ron blushed. "I can finally take you to Hogsmeade."

Hermione looked across the garden where Harry and Ginny were talking to her father about the pond. "I didn't realize that Ginny had any meetings with Professor McGonagall."

Ron nodded, "Yeah, when she went to take her sixth year exams. She had all kinds of ideas that she talked to McGonagall about. I'm sure she will talk to you about it. I mean, you have been a prefect for two years and she's never been one. She'll need your help."

"I hope so," Hermione said sadly. "It seems like she doesn't need me for anything."

"That's not true," Ron said stoutly. "She'll need your help."

Hermione nodded, "What's up with the earrings?"

"I don't know," Ron admitted. "I asked Harry and he told me it was his father's wedding band, but I didn't know about Ginny. She's been wearing her hair down so I never saw it."

"It's really sweet," Hermione said. "But what happens when they break up? Is he going to ask for the earring back? That doesn't seem very well thought out."

Ron shrugged again, "They are together all of the time. I don't know what they are going to do spending the whole next year apart."

She smiled up at him, "I'm glad we've been friends for so long, I think that really helps our relationship."

Looking up at him, she asked, "Would you be interesting in going to the cinema with me next weekend?"


"You remember when Harry and I were talking about movies we've seen?"

Ron nodded a bit uncertainly, he vaguely recalled the conversation. He shrugged; he'd ask Harry what it was all about once they were home. "That sounds like fun."

To Ron's delight, Hermione gave him a private tour of the house that included a bit of snogging time. She told him all about the discussion she and her parents had and their new understanding. He had a bit of a hard time understanding what the big deal was, but he knew enough not to say that to Hermione.

Although he was still a bit leery around all of the electrical things in the house, he didn't think he'd made a fool out of himself. He was a bit nervous around Mr. Granger and he really couldn't help but compare their house to his parents' house. He really didn't feel he belonged in such an elegant house and it did bother him. He could only hope that he would be able to make good money working with George.

It was late in the afternoon by the time Harry, Ginny, and Ron were on the train headed back to London. Ron was in his own little world, giving Harry and Ginny time together.

"Did you have fun?" Harry asked.

Ginny shrugged. "I liked Hermione's parents and I can't wait to tell Dad all about their house. Hermione just seemed…I don't know, a bit off today. Did you notice she introduced me as Ron's sister? Is that all I am to her?"

"I don't know, baby. I mean, I know she thinks of you as a friend. Maybe she was nervous or something." Harry said as he leaned in a kissed her lightly.

"Do you have to do that in front of me?" Ron grumbled.

"Don't look," Harry and Ginny said in unison.

Harry smiled at Ginny before he turned to Ron, "I think it went pretty well today. Hermione's parents seemed to like you."

Ron beamed, "I think so. I was really nervous." He looked over at his sister, "You're lucky his parents are dead. You don't have to impress anyone."

"What?" Ginny hissed at him grabbing his arm. "You are so lucky we are surrounded by Muggles right now. How can you say that?"

"What?" Ron looked at his sister like she was crazy.

"I should be glad Harry's parents are dead?" Ginny chanced a glance over at her boyfriend and she could see he had shut down. "I would have loved to have had the chance to meet Harry's parents."

"Well, I didn't mean it like that," Ron said. "It's just…" He looked at his sister and realized he was never going to dig himself out of the hole he'd made. "Harry, I'm sorry, mate. I didn't mean anything by that. You know that, right?"

To Ron's dismay, Harry didn't immediately say it was okay. Harry pulled Ginny a bit closer so she was almost on his lap. He looked up at Ron, "Why don't you go wander around? We're getting off at Kings' Cross Station."

Ron got up and wandered down the train. Looking back he could see his sister was talking to Harry and to Ron's disgust she kept kissing him, but by the time they arrived at Kings' Cross Harry seemed like he was in a better mood.

After they got off the train, Harry looked over at his best mate. "I really wish you wouldn't say things like that."

"Sorry, mate."

Harry nodded. "I'm going to Apparate Ginny back to the Burrow."

"I'll follow," Ron replied.
They entered the Burrow to find Arthur putting the finishing touches on several large stacks of sandwiches.

"Hello, kids. How was the visit?"

"It was great, Dad." Ron said.

Percy and George joined them for a light dinner. Harry and Ginny didn't eat much, but Ron was up to his usual standards. Arthur was delighted to hear all about the Grangers' home and all of the Muggle technology his children had seen. He bombarded them with questions that Ginny seemed happy to answer. After everyone was finished, Arthur turned to Ginny.

"Love, would you mind taking a plate up to your mother?"

"Of course, Dad."

Ginny fixed a plate and carried it upstairs. She knocked on her parents' door, but she didn't receive an answer. That wasn't entirely unusual these days.

"I'm coming in, Mum. I have some sandwiches." Ginny called as she entered the room. She sighed at the darkness within the room. "Mum, I'm lighting some of the candles."


Ginny set the plate down and turned to her mother. Her mouth opened in horror. He mother lay slumped back on the bed, her head at an odd angle. A trail of vomit lay across the bed. Ginny reached to shake her mother, but Ginny froze when she noticed how shallow her mother's breaths were. When she couldn't wake her mother, she looked around the bed. To her horror, she saw an empty bottle of Calming Draught roll off the bed. Ginny knew the bottle had been full last night.

Looking back at her mother, she screamed as loud as she could.

Back to index

Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Reactions

Author's Notes: Thanks so much to my wonderful beta StephanieO! The jam making portion is dedicated to my grandmother who loved to make jams and jellys. Tayberries are real they grow near Devon.

Arthur shifted in the rather uncomfortable chair at his wife's bedside. He stared at her unconscious form trying to figure out how he missed the warning signs. Had he really been ignoring her so badly? He'd known she was grieving, but he hadn't seen anything that had worried him. Had he been working too much? She had seemed like she was doing better lately. She'd come downstairs more and spent time with them. Certainly, she was nowhere near her normal personality, but he honestly thought she was getting better. More to give himself something to do than any real thirst, Arthur sipped his rather cool cup of tea.

It had been a long four hours since Ginny had found her mother unconscious in their bed. He silently gave thanks to his oldest son. Bill had taken charge of his brothers and sister and had persuaded them to stay calmly in the waiting room down the hall from their mother's room. He would have rather they had gone home, but he knew they were waiting for news of her condition. The Healers weren't certain if Molly had purposely taken an overdose of the Calming Draught or if she had simply forgotten when she'd taken a dose and had accidently taken an overdose. She had not yet regained consciousness to talk to anyone.

She was going to stay at St. Mungo's until they were certain she had no physical effects from the potion. After that, Arthur had agreed with the Healer that she needed some professional help to come to grips with the death of their son. He planned to have her admitted to the Summerbee Institute for Mind Healing. Summerbee's was located in Brighton and was one of the few wizarding institutes for Mind Healing. It was the only British institute for Mind Healing.

Molly started shivering again, so Arthur cast another Warming Charm on the blankets. A young, friendly medi-witch popped her head in the room. "Is everything alright, Mr. Weasley?"

"She's just started shivering again," Arthur explained.

The witch nodded, "That's rather common as the potion makes its way out of her system. Has the healer been in with the test results?"

He shook his head, "Not yet."

"I'll have Healer Bridgerton come in and talk to you," she said sympathetically.

A few moments later, Healer Bridgerton, a young and energetic healer entered the room. She looked over Molly, casting a few spells, before she turned to Arthur.

"Mr. Weasley, I have the results of the tests we conducted earlier. Your wife has taken nearly ten times the dose she should have taken. In addition to the Calming Draught, we also found traces of Sleeping Draught and some Draught of Peace. The combination of the three of these potions can be deadly. Whether she intended take such a large dose of the Calming Draught or not, she should have known not to combine the three doses. Have you thought about the options I talked about earlier?"

Arthur nodded, "I think a stay at Summerbee's will be very beneficial for my wife. Losing one of our children was always her worst fears…I don't know what to do for her anymore. Her brothers died in the last war and only the children managed to pull her through. Now that the children are older, I know she feels they don't need her as much. One of the few things she has told me is she feels lost. I never know what I'm going to come home to — she has always loved to cook and feed our family and she has only cooked once in the past three weeks. I've tried to help out, but a lot of the responsibility has fallen on our daughter and her boyfriend. I hate that they have to do so much after everything they've already done."

Healer Bridgerton nodded her eyes warm and compassionate. "I saw all of the red heads in the waiting room. They are all your children?"

Arthur nodded, "Yes, I'm waiting for my second oldest to arrive. He's in Romania now. My oldest son, Bill, and his wife are watching over the others. My poor daughter is the one who found her mother." He shook his head, "My poor baby girl."

"Have you considered counseling for you and your children?" the Healer asked. "It might help them to have someone impartial to talk to about everything that has happened. I understand that all of your children took part in the Battle of Hogwarts, is that correct?"

"Yes, all of us were there," Arthur said sadly.

Sensing he was rather overwhelmed, Healer Bridgerton said, "I am going to have to administer an emetic to help your wife throw up the potions. We have been trying to flush them through her system with the fluid we have been giving her, but she's not getting rid of them fast enough. I feel it would be too distressful for your children. Why don't you have them all come in and say good bye and we can get started on her treatment."

Arthur nodded with tears shining in his eyes. He hated the thought of what Molly was going to have to go through, but he knew the healer was right. He didn't want any of the children to see that.

He stood wearily and pulled Molly's blanket up around her. Dropping a kiss on the top of her head, he turned to head out to the waiting room.
Bill woke slowly the next morning. As he cuddled up closer to his wife, he realized that the bed felt wrong. Slowly opening his eyes, he saw his room from childhood. The events of the previous evening came rushing back to him. An almost overwhelming urge to pull up the covers and hide in his room welled up in him, but with a sigh he pushed that urge aside.

The previous evening had been extremely grim. After saying goodbye to their parents, the children had returned to the Burrow. George and Percy had stayed up a while and talked to Bill and Fleur. Harry had taken Ginny up to bed almost immediately.

While Bill was worried about his sister, he knew she was in good hands. It was Ron who worried him the most. Ron and Bill had never been as close as Ron and Charlie, but Bill knew that Ron had been having trouble with everything that had happened in past few months. Lately, he had been spending more time with their father talking about things and he seemed better. Last night, however, Ron had seemed incredibly shocked.

Ron had always been very close to their mother. While he might complain about her fussing, he had always rather depended on her. The thought that the mother he had always counted on to be there was falling apart seemed to devastate him.

With a slight groan, Bill reluctantly got out of his warm bed to check on his siblings. He peered in Charlie's room; it was empty and clean, ready for Charlie's arrival.

Knocking softly on Ginny's door, he waited for a moment waiting for an answer. None was forthcoming, so Bill opened the door. His sister's room was empty. It was not totally surprising. Closing her door, he headed upstairs.

Percy and George were sharing Percy's room. They were both sleeping quietly. He knocked on the door of the twins' room. Pushing open the door, he saw Harry and Ginny sleeping. The scrape of the door opening caused Harry to open his eyes. Bill padded softly across the room.

"She okay?" Bill whispered.

"She didn't sleep very well," Harry replied softly as he tightened his arms around her. "Had quite a few nightmares."

Bill nodded, "Go back to sleep. I just wanted to check on everyone."

"Thanks, Bill."

He hesitated before stopping in his parents' room. It was dark and empty, not the warm and cozy room he remembered from his childhood. He knew his father was at the hospital so he lit the wall sconces with a flick of his wand.

The bed was a mess. Another flick of the wand stripped the bed and banished the soiled linens to the laundry room. At the linen closet in the hall, he pulled out a clean set of sheets and remade the bed. On his mother's bedside table sat several bottles of potions. With a frown, Bill gathered the potions and poured them down the sink in the bathroom and banished the bottles to the rubbish bin outside.

Feeling a bit guilty, he rummaged through the room to ensure there were no more bottles of potions hidden anywhere in the room. To his relief, there were none. With a few waves of his wand, he tidied up the room and sent the remaining dirty laundry downstairs. He opened the windows, letting the fresh summer air flow into the room.

He left their room feeling a bit better. At least his father would have a clean room to come home to.

Heading up to the attic, he knocked softly on Ron's door. He smiled at the sound of snoring that reverberated through the room. Ron was sound asleep. Bill looked around the room, shaking his head. While he had certainly seen the room looking worse, there were piles of dirty clothes all over the room.

He banished the clothes down to the laundry room and tidied up a bit before leaving his brother sleeping. He maneuvered easily through the darkened house, automatically skipping the squeaky floorboards and jumping over the third step with an ease born of long practice. Lighting the kitchen fire, he started the laundry he'd gathered.

The Floo flared to life just as he sat down at the table with a cup of tea and some toast.

"Dad!" Bill hurried to hug his father. Guiding him to the table, he poured a cup of tea and brought a stack of toast to the table.

"How's Mum?" He asked after he watched his father prepare his tea.

Arthur sighed, "I never really want to see anything like that again in my life. She is much better now. She woke up, I mean really woke up a few hours ago." He rubbed his eyes, "She is so humiliated and embarrassed by this. The Healers believe that rather than intentionally overdosing, she simply took too much. She would take some Calming Draught not realizing she'd taken it only an hour before. It all caught up with her last night."

Bill blew out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Arthur put his hand on his son's arm as he leaned forward, resting both arms on the table.

"I know, son." Arthur said, regret evident in his voice. "I honestly thought she was doing better. She was up more this past week and she was a bit more cheerful. I can't believe I didn't see any signs of this. I mean, I knew she was using Calming Draught, but I thought it was only occasionally. I didn't know about the other potions."

"What can we do, Dad?"

Arthur smiled briefly, "Just what you are doing, Bill. Look after the younger kids." His smiled faded. "I sent an owl to the Minister and explained the situation. I asked for some time off which he readily granted. Tomorrow she'll be transferred to Summerbee's for further treatment of depression. The Healer has suggested all of us attend counseling and I think it is an excellent idea. Obviously pretending nothing is wrong is not working for us."

Bill nodded, "I think that's a good idea. I've been talking to Fleur and I know Ginny and George have been talking to Harry, but I think having someone impartial to talk to might help."

Finishing his tea, Arthur stood up. "I'm going to get some sleep before heading back to the hospital this afternoon."

Hugging his son, he headed up the stairs.
The next time Harry awoke, he could hear the comforting sound of rain hitting the roof. Opening his eyes, he noted it was dark and cozy inside the room. He turned and looked over at his fiancée.

She was still sleeping and was turned to face him. Her hair was fanned over the pillow, a picture that Harry found entrancing. She was wearing one of his old Quidditch jerseys. He really liked how his name looked on her. Leaning forward, he brushed a kiss across her forehead. To his delight, she smiled.

He wasn't sure how long he stayed in the dark cocoon created by the dark room and rain just watching his love sleep. It was some time later that her eyes fluttered open. She smiled at finding him lying next to her.

Reaching out her hand, she cupped her hand around his cheek. "Good morning, love."

He couldn't help himself; he leaned over and kissed her softly. It quickly turned much more passionate. Ginny sat up and grabbed her wand off of the nightstand. She cast a Silencing and Locking Charm on the door and looking over her shoulder at Harry, she smiled before stripping off her shirt.

With a smile, he stripped off his pajamas before rejoining her under the covers. He took his time exploring and worshiping her body before making them one.

As their breathing slowed down, Ginny pulled him down so his weight rested on her. She slipped her arms around him.

"I'm going to squish you, love." Harry said in protest.

"No you're not," She replied. "It just feels good."

He laughed and leaned down to kiss her. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Ginny sighed as she looked towards the window. "It looks awful out. Do you think anyone would notice if we just stayed in here all day?"

"I think so, baby."

Squeezing him tight for a moment, Ginny pushed gently against him and he rolled off of her. "Have you heard anything?"

Harry shook his head, "Bill came and checked on us this morning. I fell back to sleep after that."

"I guess we should go downstairs." Ginny said reluctantly. She slid out of bed and looking around the room, grabbed Harry's dressing gown. "I'm going to take a quick shower. I don't know if it's just sitting around hospital or not, but I need a shower."

"Go ahead, love. I'll head downstairs and see what I can find out."

She leaned over and kissed him before heading out of the room.
Ron lay in his dark room and listened to the rain pounding down on the roof, even the bright orange of his walls couldn't lighten his mood any. He knew he should probably get up, it was almost noon, but he really didn't want to face anyone.

The events of yesterday had left him stunned, hurt, and angry. When Ginny had screamed from their parents' room, all of them had jumped up and raced to see what was wrong. Seeing his mother looking like she was dead was horrible. He'd never thought about his mother dying. When they realized it was a potions' overdose, Ron was angry. He knew his mother was upset about Fred, but what about him? Wasn't he enough of a reason to keep going? Why hadn't she thought about her six other children?

It probably didn't make any sense, but Ron had never thought of any of his family dying or even being seriously injured during the war. He had assumed that he was the one at the most risk and Harry would end it before it got too dangerous. In his mind, he and Hermione would accompany Harry while he destroyed the Horcruxes and they would watch his back while he killed You-Know-Who and go home being rewarded as heroes. He and Hermione would be together and it would just be brilliant.

Looking back, Ron realized how naive he had been. While Harry had destroyed You-Know-Who, the cost of that victory was almost unimaginable. Hermione had been tortured and Fred, Remus, Tonks, and many others had been killed. Ron had just never imagined that one of his family members would actually die.

Now everything was messed up and he couldn't imagine what it would take to put everything back together. He wished with all of his heart that Hermione was here. Somehow, Hermione always made him feel better. She could always help him sort out his feelings. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. He was a bit upset that her parents wouldn't let her come and stay at the Burrow, but he could understand that they missed her and wanted to spend time with her.

Turning his thoughts away from Hermione, his mother popped up in his thoughts again. He'd known his mother wasn't quite right, but he figured that she would snap out of it soon. Could he have done something to prevent this? He knew he could have done more about the house and helped out like Harry and Ginny were doing, but he hadn't — he'd let his mum fuss and do his laundry. There was an irrational part of him that wondered if maybe this was his fault.

Rationally he knew it wasn't, but a small part of him wondered if maybe this was a punishment for his insensitive comment about Harry's parents. He really hadn't meant it the way Harry and Ginny had taken it. Now he realized how it sounded, he had just been thinking about how nervous he'd been going to the Grangers' house and Ginny would never have to do that.

Ron rolled over and punched his pillow underneath him, but no matter what he did he couldn't stop his thoughts from racing around his head. For once, he wasn't really that hungry and he didn't want to face the rest of his family. He did want to find out about his mother, but only if it was good news.

He heard the sound of footsteps on the landing outside of his door. There was a short knock on the door and the door opened. He broke into a smile when he saw his brother, Charlie. He sat up and pushed his blankets aside as Charlie entered his room and dropped his bag next to the camp bed Harry always used to use.


Wrapping his arms around his youngest brother, Charlie embraced him. When they separated, Charlie tactfully looked away as Ron wiped his eyes.

"I'm going to be bunking up here with you," Charlie said as he walked over to the window.

"Okay," Ron said slowly. He was glad to see his brother, but he had to ask. "Not that I'm not glad you're up here, but what about your room?"

Charlie smiled, "We are apparently having guests who will be using my room."

Ron groaned, "Please tell me that Aunt Muriel isn't coming to stay or- oh Merlin, not Uncle Gary."

"No, I think you will like these guests a lot more," Charlie smirked. "Bill went over to the Grangers."

It felt like a huge weight was lifted off of him. Hermione was coming. "Wait, if Hermione's coming why isn't she sleeping in Ginny's room?"

"She is," Charlie explained. "Bill sent a message that her mother was coming as well. I think she didn't think there was enough adult supervision here, so she is coming as well."

"Really?" Ron wasn't really sure how he felt about that. "When will they be here?"

Charlie shrugged, "Bill said they'd be here around tea time."

"What time is it now?"

"Just gone on noon," Charlie said. "Mrs. Granger wants to drive so she'll have some transportation while she's here."

He smiled at his confused little brother, "Come on, let's get some food. Ginny was making some bacon and eggs."

"Okay," Ron smiled for the first time that day. Together the two brothers headed downstairs.
Hermione was reading in the sitting room when she heard a knock at the door. Her mother was closer to the hall and went to answer the door. Assuming it was for her parents, Hermione returned to her book. She was surprised, therefore, when her mother entered the sitting room followed by Bill Weasley.

"Bill! What are you doing here? Is everyone okay? Is Ron okay?"

He smiled as he sat down in the chair her mother indicated. "Ron is fine, but something did happen." He quickly outlined the events of the previous evening to Hermione and her parents. "I came to see if you could come stay at the Burrow for a few days. I think it would really help Ron, especially. He's very lost and confused by all of this."

As Hermione tried to process this, she turned to her parents who appeared to be having a silent conversation. She really hoped her parents would let her go. What on Earth could have happened? How could she help her friends? She wasn't certain what she should do and that made her a bit unsettled. One thing she really disliked was being uncertain.

While Hermione was mulling over everything, her mother turned to Bill.

"Who will be there with them?"

"My wife and I are staying there at night and my brother Charlie just arrived." Bill explained. "Obviously my father will be spending a lot of his time with my mother."

After glancing at her husband again, Jane asked. "Would I be allowed to stay with her? I agree she needs to be with her friends right now, but I'm not comfortable with the lack of adult supervision. No insult intended to you and your wife and brother, but you are all rather young and with the trauma…"

"Mum," Hermione whispered, her face heating up.

"No, its okay, Hermione. Actually Mrs. Granger, you would be more than welcome to stay at the Burrow with Hermione. I think it would make my father feel a lot better as well. He's worried about the lot of us."
By seven in the evening, Jane found herself sitting down to dinner in the oddest house she'd ever seen in her life. It was six or seven stories tall, she wasn't exactly certain as the house was oddly stacked. She had almost screamed when the mirror in the small loo spoke to her. Ginny had told her that this mirror wasn't nearly as opinionated at the mirror in the main bathroom on the third floor.

While she had known the Weasleys for many years, the only two she had ever spent any amount of time with were Ron and Ginny. She had now been introduced to the rest of the Weasley brothers and Bill's breathtakingly beautiful wife, Fleur.

She and Hermione had arrived shortly before Mr. Weasley returned home from St. Mungo's. While Hermione had stayed in the front garden with Ron, Jane had kept Harry and Ginny company in the kitchen. She had watched in amazement as Harry used a combination of magic and non-magical means to prepare dinner.

As they sat down at the table, Ron looked suspiciously at the bowls of food being sent down the table. "What is this?"

"Chicken curry and rice," Harry replied.

Ron scooped a huge pile of food onto his plate, but still poked at it in confusion. "What's in it?"

"Chicken, spices, yogurt, raisins, and some apricots," Harry said as he served himself and passed the bowl onto Ginny.

"This is amazing," Hermione said after she tasted the meal.

Harry blushed, "Thank you."

"Wait, if you can cook like this, why was I the one trying to transform mushrooms into something edible?" Hermione demanded.

He shrugged a bit uncomfortably, "I can cook, but I can't magically improve mushrooms and berries."

Jane enjoyed the dinner and enjoyed the company of the Weasleys. Arthur was obviously concerned for his wife, but he was excellent company and a very pleasant man. Fleur, she found to be rather exotic, but friendly. Bill's scars had taken her by surprise at first, but he was still a remarkably good looking man. Charlie was a bit rowdy, but nice. George and Percy were both rather quiet and Jane was charmed to see how well Percy was looking after his younger brother.

She could see how Hermione was so taken with this nice and down to earth family. Ginny was very supportive of both her father and her boyfriend. The young couple was very sweet together; subtly flirting and fussing over each other. Jane smiled when Ginny sneaked another helping of food onto Harry's plate. She was fairly certain Harry knew what she was doing, but he let her fuss nonetheless.

Hermione and Ron were much less demonstrative than the younger couple. After his initial hesitance, Ron had dug into his meal with gusto. He listened as Hermione spoke, but didn't really respond much.

Once everyone had finished eating, Jane was amazed to watch Bill and Charlie magically send the dishes to the sink. As she watched, they started washing themselves. Arthur was watching her expression, "It's got to be very different for you."

She nodded, "It is, I find your house very fascinating."

"Thank you," he replied with a weary smile. He looked around the table at his children. "I've spoken at length to both your mother and her healers. As I told Bill this morning, they think this was an accidental overdose, however due to your mother's depression she will be treated at Summerbee's for some period of time. Tuesday afternoon, we have arranged for a family therapy session that I would like all of you to attend."

He locked eyes with all of his children and one by one they nodded. Once he was satisfied, he continued, "Bill and I have gotten rid of all of the Calming Draught and Draught of Peace in the house. The remaining vials of Sleeping Potion have been locked up. If you feel you need a dose, please let me know and I will get one for you."

He gestured to Jane, "Mrs. Granger has graciously agreed to stay with us for a few days; I expect all of you to be helpful and explain things she does not understand. She is not here to cook and clean for you, so please don't expect it." He glanced over at his daughter, "Without your mother here, I expect that at least one of you will be home at all times. Ginny is underage and legally not allowed to perform magic," Recognizing that Ginny was about to protest, he quickly said, "Please let me finish. You all know this family has in the past been a target of Death Eaters and I am concerned that they may take advantage of our current situation."

"I can fight, Dad," Ginny said a bit sulkily.

"Of course you can, Gin," Harry spoke up. "But you know as well as I do that it's easy to be caught off guard." He squeezed her hand under the table, and she reluctantly nodded. While she hated being treated like a baby, she remembered all too well the feeling of being surrounded by Zabini and his pals.

At Ginny's nod, Arthur relaxed slightly. "Bill has strengthened the wards and I don't believe we will have any problems."

He handed both Jane and Ginny a small gold bangle type bracelet. "These are Portkeys. That means that if you are in a position where you believe you are in danger, just press that button and you will immediately be sent to the Ministry of Magic. You will land in the Atrium and both Kingsley and I will be notified you have arrived."

"Thank you," Jane said sincerely.

Arthur looked at Jane, "I truly believe that these arrangements will be unnecessary, but I would rather be safe than sorry."

"Constant vigilance!" Harry said with a hint of laughter in his voice.

"Quite so," Arthur said with a smile.
Harry could see the Burrow looming up ahead and sped up his pace a bit. Looking over he could see Ginny was a bit behind him, but not too far. They had decided to run their usual circuit and then run down the lane to the road. He reached the front yard and ran around to the back garden.

He was already doing sit-ups when Ginny jogged her way into the garden and dropped onto the wall edging the lower garden. She watched him as he completed his sit-ups and push-ups before they headed into the house together.

"Good morning," Mrs. Granger smiled as the two of them entered the house. "I didn't realize anyone was already up."

"We try to go running most mornings," Harry explained as he grabbed a pitcher of apple juice from the cold cupboard. He poured a glass for both him and Ginny.

"Thanks, love," She said gratefully. She looked at Mrs. Granger, "He's been doing this for several months, but I've just started so I'm not quite up to his level."

"I used to walk quite a bit," Mrs. Granger said, "but I've never really been into running."

"I like it," Harry said. "It's a good time for me to let my mind wander. It's not as great as flying of course, but it's still fun."

Ginny laughed, "Harry, there aren't many things that you think are more fun than flying."

She had gotten up to get some cereal out of the cupboard and was glad her back was to the others as colour flooded her face. She could think of one activity Harry thought was more fun than flying, but she certainly wasn't going to say that in front of Mrs. Granger.

The two busied themselves with getting breakfast. Mrs. Granger had some toast while the other two had cereal.

"Do you know what everyone's plans are for today?" Mrs. Granger asked. "I know your father and Bill and Fleur have already headed into work."

"I need to head into the Ministry for a while," Harry replied.

"Percy and George might be going to George's shop today," Ginny said. "I'm not sure. I was thinking that it would be a good day to pick some berries, my Mum and I usually make jam around this time of year and…" She paused for a minute, a bit overcome by emotion. Harry reached across the table for her hand which she took, grateful for his comfort. "I think we need to get back into some of our normal routines."

"I think that's a lovely idea," Mrs. Granger said softly. "I would love to help, I used to make jam with my grandmother."

Ginny sniffed a bit, but smiled, "That sounds like fun."

"What sounds like fun?" Hermione asked as she entered the kitchen.

Ginny quickly repeated her idea for the day. Hermione nodded as she helped herself to some cereal, "That does sound like fun."

While the three women discussed their plans for the day, Harry head up to shower and get ready for the day. As he left his room, he ran into Charlie who was on his way downstairs.

"Good morning," Harry said. "Will you be here today? I need to head into work and I think George and Percy are going to Diagon Alley."

"I'll be here," Charlie confirmed.

Continuing downstairs, Harry said goodbye to the others and Ginny walked him out to the Apparition point.

"Have fun today," Harry said as he smiled down at her. She laughed, "I'll have fun. I'm not sure you will."

"Probably not," Harry said. "Wish me luck."

"Good luck," Ginny said. "You look very handsome and I'm sure you will do well."

Leaning down, he kissed her deeply. "I love you."

"I love you, too."
Once Ginny watched him leave, she headed back inside. By the time she arrived back in the kitchen, Charlie had already pulled out some pans and had eggs and bacon frying on the stove.

"I didn't know you could cook," she remarked with surprise.

He laughed, "I'm not anything on Mum, but I can get by, especially this kind of food. Nothing like the food I hear your boyfriend's been putting out. That chicken curry last night was amazing."

Ginny beamed with pride in her fiancé. "He is good, his awful aunt saw to that."

"What do you mean?" Mrs. Granger asked in concern.

The younger girl shrugged, "His aunt would always make him cook and clean and do all sorts of horrid chores. He told me once that he would be punished if it wasn't cooked correctly."

"That's awful," Hermione said. "He never told me that."

Ginny chose not to comment, "I'm going to take a shower. Once everyone is ready we can head out."

"You going to make me some raspberry tarts, little sister?" Charlie teased as he sat down at the table.

She laughed, "You never know, big brother, I just might."
As Harry entered the area set aside for Auror trainees, Gawain Robards hailed him. "Potter, glad you're here." He looked Harry over, "You'll do. The Ministry wants you down in the courtroom today."

"Today?" Harry blanched.

"I know, sorry for the short notice. The Wizengamot wanted to speed things up."

"Do you know whose trials will be today?"

Robards shook his head, "No."

With a sigh, Harry turned and headed to the courtrooms. He would have liked a bit more notice, but on the other hand at least he was getting it over with. Waiting by the elevators, he could see his reflection in the shiny metal. He was glad that Ginny had helped him picked out some new clothes; he would have hated to testify before the Wizengamot in Dudley's old rags.

One of the Minister's secretaries Rick Wooten was waiting for him outside the courtroom. He looked very frazzled and was pacing in the corridor anxiously.

"Mr. Potter, very good. The Wizengamot has decided to hear your general testimony first. They will first ask you about the events in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, then the events at the Department of Mysteries, the Battle at the Tower, and the Battle of Hogwarts. They may then ask you questions about specific Death Eaters based on what you have seen and what you may have gleaned from your connection to V-voldemort."

Harry bit back a smile as Mr. Wooten's voice lost all of its authority on the last word. At least he said the name, since that was more than many people tried to do. Nodding his understanding, Harry followed the man into the courtroom.

To his relief, it was much more welcoming than either of his two previous trips to the courtroom. There were no Dementors waiting to take away hapless Muggle-borns. Another change was the rows of chairs for the defendants in place of the single, rather sinister looking chair that had occupied the centre of the room previously. The rows of chairs were placed on the right hand side of the room, facing the rows of benches that rose in a semi-circle in the back of the room. On the left hand side of the room was a single chair; Harry realized that was for the witnesses to sit while they were testifying.

Kingsley Shacklebolt was already in place in the centre of the first row of benches. Rick Wooten took his spot at the end of the row and Harry imagined that Rick would transcribe the events rather as Percy had at his trial. The benches were filled. From conversations with the Minster, Harry knew the top benches were reserved for the public and victims' family members. There were two rows packed with the press. To his dismay, Harry saw Rita Skeeter already nudging her photographer to take pictures of him.

The members of the Wizengamot were resplendent in their dark plum robes. To Harry's surprise, he recognized quite a few members. Amos Diggory, Augusta Longbottom, Griselda Marchbanks, and Tiberius Ogden all had a seat on the Wizengamot. In the past two months, several new members had been appointed to the high court including Andromeda Tonks and Minerva McGonagall, both of whom smiled in greeting.

"Mr. Potter."

Harry turned to see Kingsley gesturing for him. Harry approached the bench and Kingsley leaned over to whisper, "Sorry for the lack of notice. I knew you were busy over the weekend and I didn't want to add more stress."

Harry shrugged, "It's okay, less time for me to worry about it."

Kingsley smiled, "Excellent. Take a seat at the end of the bench; we will be getting started in just a few moments."

Looking at the end of bench Harry was happy to see Neville and Seamus already sitting there. Just after Harry took his seat, the doors closed and a door on the other side of the chamber opened. The Aurors in their black robes surrounded the defendants. Harry caught sight of his fellow Auror trainees in the group. The accused Death Eaters were guided to a seat where they were all chained. Auror Dawlish cast a charm that Harry recognized as a containment charm as well as a magical suppression charm. Thankfully, Kingsley had banned the use of Dementors so now Aurors accompanied the accused into the Ministry.

Kingsley stood, "This hearing is taking place to investigate the offenses of the so called Death Eaters, followers of Tom Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort. The accused Death Eaters are: Roger Avery, Alecto Carrow, Amycus Carrow, Vincent Crabbe, Sr., Rodolphus Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Edward Nott, Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, Paul Parkinson, Albert Runcorn, Charles Selwyn, Pius Thicknesse, Herbert Yaxley, and Blaise Zabini. Being tried in absentia are: Anton Dolohov and Fenrir Greyback. Being tried posthumously are: Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Severus Snape. There may be more charges forthcoming based on the information gathered during this hearing. Separate trials may be indicated for some defendants."

Harry tried not to become angry when his godfather was mentioned in the same breath as all of the other Death Eaters, but he still thought it was unfair. Kingsley had explained to him that it was the best way to clear both Sirius and Snape.

Kingsley continued, "Interrogators: Kingsley Levon Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic; Gawain Brice Robards, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Hestia Louise Jones, Undersecretary to the Minister; Richard Oliver Wooten, Court Scribe."

Once the formalities were out of the way, Kingsley called Harry to the stand. "You are Harry James Potter of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, London, correct?"

"Yes sir," Harry replied.

"Can you please tell the ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot about your connection to Tom Riddle?"

Taking a deep breath, Harry explained. "Tom Riddle killed my parents and tried to kill me when I was a baby."

"You refer to the events of 31 October, 1981?" Kingsley interjected.

"Yes, sir. When Riddle tried to kill me, something went wrong and the Killing Curse rebounded upon him, separating him from his body. Because of the precautions he had taken, Riddle was not actually killed at that time. Somehow when I was hit with the Killing Curse, a connection to Riddle was established. I would get headaches and I could feel his emotions. When he felt things very strongly I would see things through his eyes."

Harry could feel the eyes of everyone in the room upon him. It was rather disconcerting, but over the next three hours, he slowly told his story. Kingsley, Robards, and Hestia were all very gentle in their questioning. To Harry's relief, they broke for lunch just after discussing the events at the Ministry of Magic in September.

Neville, Seamus, and the other Auror trainees formed a ring around Harry as they headed out of the courtroom.

"This way," Rick called and he led the teens out of the courtroom and toward the elevators. Harry was hardly aware of the trip to level one. Rick led them to a conference room that had been set up with lunch.

Looking over at Harry, Rick said, "The Minister wanted you to have a place to unwind and relax before the afternoon session."
Amidst much laughter and teasing, Ginny, Hermione, Mrs. Granger, and Charlie headed out to pick berries.

"What sort of berries grow around here?" Mrs. Granger asked as they set out to the orchard where they usually played Quidditch.

"There are all kinds," Ginny replied. "We usually pick blackberries, raspberries, tayberries, and some currants."

Ginny led the way across the paddock and through a small grove of trees. Once they were on the other side of the trees, it opened up to large field with a creek running through it. Lining the banks of the creek on both sides were berry bushes.

"This is beautiful," Hermione remarked. "How is it I've never seen this?"

Ginny shrugged, "I don't know. Ron doesn't come out here much. He got stung by bees when he was little and another time he was chased by pixies, so now he doesn't like coming out here."

"Pixies?" Mrs. Granger asked cautiously. She had been introduced to the garden gnomes and the ghoul in the attic.

"Pixies are little bright blue flying creatures, kind of like fairies," Charlie explained. "They are rather rude, but they won't hurt you."

"The magical world is truly amazing," Mrs. Granger said. "I can't wait to see Hogwarts."

"You'll also get to see Hogsmeade," Ginny commented. "It's the only all-wizarding village in Britain. I think you'll really like it."

"That's a really good idea," Hermione said. "What do you have planned for that weekend?"

Ginny glanced over at her friend as she started pulling berries off the bushes; she wasn't entirely certain that Hermione was sincere, but she answered anyway. "I wanted to talk about it at the first prefects' meeting. I think we can have each child meet up with their parents and show them around Hogsmeade. We can have some of the upper level students giving tours of the school. Professor McGonagall said that we can have a feast the first night."

"Maybe we could ask some of the shopkeepers to run specials that weekend," Hermione said after a moment. "Maybe Madam Rosmerta would run a lunch special or something."

"That's a good idea," Ginny said with a smile. The two girls started talking about ideas for the Parents' Weekend while they picked berries. By noon, they had decided they had enough berries and headed back to the Burrow.
Hermione followed Ron into the sitting room. She could hear her mother asking Ginny questions about the recipe she followed for making jam.

"How are you doing?" She asked tentatively.

Ron sighed and sank into the couch. For a few minutes Hermione didn't think he was going to answer her. Finally her turned and looked at her, "Did you ever think that winning the war was going to feel so bad?"

Hermione exhaled sharply, "No. I really didn't think so many people would get involved. I know it's stupid to think about it now, but…we really had no idea what we were getting into." She shook her head ruefully, "I used to get so upset with Harry for asking us over and over again if we were sure we wanted to go. I was sure I knew."

"I know," Ron nodded. "I figured that we fought at the Department of Mysteries and at the Battle of the Tower and we knew what we were doing."

"I thought being clever and supportive would be all we needed to do," Hermione said. "He tried to tell us, but we didn't believe him. He told us about what happened to him in the graveyard and even in the Chamber of Secrets and I thought surely I could have handled that." She sighed, "I really underestimated him."

Ron nodded, "I expected that we would help him find the Horcruxes and he would destroy You-Know-Who. Then we would come back home and be hailed as heroes and get wonderful jobs."

Hermione smiled, "I was thinking the same way." She stared into the fire for a minute, "I was really angry at Harry for a while."

"For saying You-Know-Who's name?"

She nodded, "He knew the name was Taboo. Then I realized how lucky we were not to get caught before. The Taboo was designed to catch powerful wizards who weren't afraid to say his name. If that doesn't describe Harry I don't know who it does."

"That's true," Ron said slowly. "I never really thought about it that way before."

Hermione slowly reached out and touched Ron's hand, "Would you like to go for a walk?"

Ron nodded and shyly took her hand as they headed out to the back garden.
Ginny and Mrs. Granger had finished washing all of the berries and pulling off all of the stems and leaves by the time Charlie had finished sterilizing all of the jars and lids. Charlie sped up the process of crushing the berries and soon they were boiling the mixture of berries, pectin, sugar, and honey.

By mid-afternoon, they had more than a dozen jars of jam cooling on the shelf in the scullery.

"It smells amazing in here, Ginny," Charlie said. He cast a cooling charm on the kitchen while he set the pots to clean.

Mrs. Granger shook her head in astonishment, "I've never cleaned up that easily after canning jam."

The three of them sat down at the table and enjoyed some berries and cream. Suddenly the fire flared up green and they heard, "Ginny?"

Hurrying over to the fireplace, Ginny dropped to her knees. "Seamus? Is something wrong?"

"Harry has been testifying before the Wizengamot all day," Seamus explained. "He's had a really rough day of it. I think he really needs to see you."

"I'll be right there," Ginny said instantly.

She turned to Charlie, "I'm going to the Ministry."

As much as Charlie wanted to stop her, he knew it was useless. "Be careful. Floo me and let me know what you are going to do."

Ginny nodded and stepped in the fireplace. "Ministry of Magic."

Back to index

Chapter 6: Chapter 6 An Evening in London

Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta, StephanieO! Thanks for the Silver Trinket nominations! I really appreciate it :)

Ginny made her way through the crowded halls of the Ministry of Magic, following Seamus as he led the way to the lifts. As she walked, she could hear pieces of conversations. Everyone was talking about Harry and his testimony.

They got out on the first floor. Ginny looked around; it was much nicer than the floor where her father's office was. There was thick, plush carpet on the floors and thick, shiny, wooden doors to each office. There was a sign next to each door to indicate whose office they were about to enter.

Seamus led her past the long corridor of offices and the corridor opened out onto a large open area. It looked like a waiting room, but much more posh. There were comfortable looking chairs arranged in little groupings with small tables near the chairs. Against the far wall was another gleaming door, the plaque next to this door read 'Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic.' A very efficient looking witch sat at a desk outside his door.

Adjacent to the secretary's desk was a wall of more doors. Ginny saw a plaque with Hestia's name before Seamus pushed open a door to a conference room. She saw Harry immediately. He was slumped in a chair with his head in his hands facing away from the door. Neville and Susan seemed to be standing guard over him.

She hurried across the room and dropped to her knees in front of him. "Harry."

He looked up, startled at the sound of her voice, "Ginny?"

His voice was very husky and Ginny got the impression that he'd been talking all day. "Hi, baby." She gently reached out for his hands. "Are you okay love?"

While the room was rather crowded, Ginny felt it was just the two of them in the room when he looked into her eyes. Misery was apparent in his expressive green gaze.

"I want to get out of here," Harry said softly. Ginny looked up over his shoulder to meet Neville's gaze. He nodded, so Ginny said, "Okay, sweetie."

Neville leaned over and put his hand on Harry's shoulder, "You're done for today, mate. Why don't you let Ginny take you home?"

Harry nodded, "Thanks, Neville."

Ginny got to her feet and helped Harry stand. He swayed briefly and Neville and Seamus were there immediately to steady him. A look passed between Neville and Seamus.

"I'll walk the two of you to the Floo," Seamus said.

Once again Ginny followed Seamus, but this time she was clinging to Harry's hand. Instead of heading to the fireplaces in the Atrium, Seamus was heading to the opposite side of the floor. Ginny could see an Auror standing guard in front of an archway. Seamus flashed his badge, but by that time the badge was unnecessary — the Auror had recognized Harry.

With a wave of her wand, she cancelled the charms to allow the four of them through the archway. Ginny discovered a large floo station awaiting them. On the wall across from the floo station was a beautiful water feature and over the fountain were the words — All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Below the quote were rows and rows of names engraved on the walls.

Ginny gasped as she looked at the wall. She saw the names of Sirius Black, Colin Creevey in the first column. Seeing where her attention had wandered, Seamus said, "This is the private floo for the Minister and his staff. Minister Shacklebolt specifically asked for this to be installed so none of the senior staff will be able to come into work without seeing this and hopefully remembering what happened. All of the victims of the past two wars have been listed on there. They are working on something for the Atrium."

"It's amazing," Ginny said. She looked at the last row and her heart twisted a bit at the sight of her brother's name. Quickly tearing her eyes away, she saw the names of Lily and James Potter and her own uncles Fabian and Gideon Prewett. It was a powerfully emotional sight.

"Aye," Seamus agreed. "I think it is a great way to honour them."

Turning her attention back to her boyfriend, Ginny asked, "Where do you want to go, sweetie?"

"My house," Harry said softly. "I'm not up to heading back to the Burrow right now."

He looked at his friends, "Thank you for everything."

"No problem, mate," Seamus said easily.

"You'll be okay?" Neville asked.

Harry nodded, "Ginny will be with me."

The couple flooed to Grimmauld Place.


Kreacher popped into the kitchen. "Mistress Ginny, Master Harry."

"Hello Kreacher," Ginny said with a smile. "Harry's had kind of a rough day. Could we get some tea?"

"Of course, Mistress. The drawing room has been cleaned. Shall I bring it there?"

"That would be great," Harry said softly.

Harry stood, looking a bit steadier now that he'd left the Ministry. He led the way upstairs. The grand staircase was once more looking grand and Ginny was happy to see the progress Kreacher had made. The drawing room was on its way back to its previous state of elegance. The tapestry was gone and the two frosted glass cabinets were now empty. To counteract the dark of the furniture, Kreacher had replaced the tapestry with a cream and gold wallpaper.

Harry and Ginny sank down on the sofa. He immediately wrapped his arms around her. Ginny scooted over so she was sitting on his lap. He pulled her close and buried his head in her neck. She ran her fingers through his hair, letting him take comfort from her presence.

After a few minutes, he pulled away and Ginny was shocked to see tears glittering in his eyes. She shifted a bit so they could talk more comfortably. She was surprised to see a tea tray sitting on the table next to them.

"I didn't even hear him," she remarked.

Harry smiled, "He's changed a lot."

Pouring each of them a cup of tea, Ginny stayed on his lap, but leaned back into the arm of the sofa. Taking a sip of his tea, Harry looked over at her. "You smell like fruit. What have you been doing today?"

She smiled, allowing him to lead the conversation. "We went berry picking this morning. We found some raspberries, blackberries, and tayberries. It was great. When we got home, Mrs Granger, Charlie, and I made some jam. We still have tons of berries; I think I'm going to make some berry syrup. I've always liked fresh berry syrup and thick cream on my scones."

"That sounds good," Harry said as he reached out and helped himself to a small cake. "Hermione didn't help you make jam?"

Ginny shook her head, "No she was off with Ron. I think she was taking advantage of the fact that her mum was otherwise occupied. Hermione seemed fine this morning, though. We talked about Hogwarts and the plans for the parents' weekend and she didn't seem weird like she did the other day."

"Good," Harry said.

He sighed and put his tea cup down. Ginny followed suit and Harry reached out for her hands.

"It was awful," he said simply. "I didn't know they had moved up the trial."

Ginny leaned her head against his shoulder and he wrapped one arm around her shoulder. With his other hand, he played with her engagement ring. To her surprise, he pulled out his wand and cancelled the charms concealing her ring.

"I hope you don't mind," Harry said quietly. "I really just want to see this on your hand tonight."

"Of course, love." Ginny kissed him softly.

Taking her hand, he continued, "The morning was bad enough. I had to explain my connection with Tom and about the graveyard." He took a ragged breath, "I had to explain about S-sirius. The one good thing is they are going to clear him. I told them how Peter had framed him and Kingsley added his testimony that Sirius was helping to defeat Tom and Sirius didn't have a Dark Mark."

Leaning in, Ginny pressed a kiss on his cheek. He gave her a sad smile. "The afternoon was worse. I told them about sixth year and the attempts on Dumbledore's life. Maybe I'm really slow, but I just realized that he knew Draco was trying to kill him. If he had done something maybe Ron wouldn't have been poisoned. It still makes me a bit angry that I tried to tell everyone all year that Draco was behind it and no one would believe me."

"I never thought of that either," Ginny admitted. "He knew?"

"That's what he said on top of the tower," Harry shook his head. "Anyhow, I had to explain about Dumbledore's death. I had to explain about Snape — how he was in love with my mother and changed sides because of her. I still have a hard time with it and I had to testify in court."

"You decided to tell them?" Ginny asked gently. She knew he had been agonizing how much to share with the Wizengamot. He wanted to protect Snape's privacy, but he was tired of all of the secrets. He didn't want to be like Dumbledore and just assure people he was certain Snape had been on their side.

He shrugged a bit, "I'd already said a bit in the Great Hall when I was fighting with Tom, so I figured it was time to just come out with everything." He brushed a kiss on top of her head.

"I told them about Malfoy Manor," he shuddered a bit when he said that. "I feel so guilty for saying his name. I was so used to saying it and I just got carried away with making my point. I don't know that I can ever tell Hermione how sorry I am."

Ginny wrapped her arms around him. "I know, love."

When he pulled away, the tears had started coursing down his face. "It was so hard talking about Bellatrix torturing her. I told them how Malfoy seemed reluctant to identify us, but in the end he did identify Hermione. I explained how we escaped and how Bellatrix killed Dobby for helping us."

"I tried to recall all of the murders I saw Voldemort commit," Harry admitted. "I know there's nothing that can be done, but I wanted to make sure those people were honoured. I told them about the battle and everything I saw. I told them how Narcissa saved my life."

He trailed off. "It was so hard recalling it all. They would ask about what each person did or didn't do."

"Are you done testifying?" Ginny asked.

"For now," he replied. "I will probably be called to clarify things. Neville, Michael, and Seamus are all going to testify against the Carrows and the junior Death Eaters. Kingsley said he wants to avoid calling anyone who is underage so he's not going to call you. Luna, Dean, and Mr Ollivander are going to testify about what happened at Malfoy Manor. Unfortunately because I was there for parts of everything and saw so much, I'll probably have to testify again. Kingsley wanted to get the bulk of my testimony out of the way today."

"I'm sorry it's so hard for you baby," Ginny said softly. "At least he is making an effort to ensure that the Death Eaters pay for what they've done."

"I know," Harry replied. "I just don't want Ron to get mad at me again. I'm tired of fighting and…I don't think Draco is going to get any prison time. Katie told me that she talked to Kingsley and they are leaning towards a suspended sentence and probation for five years. He won't be totally free; he'll be restricted as to whom he associates with and where he goes. Lucius will probably get life in prison and the Malfoys will have to pay fines. The Lestranges' estate was given to Andromeda as next of kin. That seems only fair."

"Ron better not give you a hard time again," Ginny growled. "You just told the truth and you have nothing to do with the sentencing."

Harry smiled as he kissed her on the cheek, "That's my beautiful girl sticking up for me."

"That's right," Ginny said.

They stayed cuddled up on the sofa for a while, trading kisses and talking softly. After a time, Harry said, "I'm hungry. Do you want to go out to dinner? I really don't feel like cooking tonight or eating sandwiches."

"That sounds good," Ginny smiled. "I love going out with you."

Harry kissed her softly.

A pop heralded Kreacher's arrival in the room. "Master, Mistress, there is an owl for you."

Kreacher handed Harry a scroll of parchment and popped out of the room. Harry stared at the scroll, he didn't recognize the writing on the outside, but he knew that Kreacher wouldn't hand him something that was dangerous.

Hoping it wasn't bad news, Harry opened the scroll.

Dear Harry,

I hope this finds you well, I know that today was a really difficult day. I thought you did an amazing job and you were very thorough. What really impressed me was your dedication to ensuring that you didn't just blame them for being evil. Each instance you had specific examples and it was obvious that you were trying to be as impartial as possible. Sirius would have been so proud of you. There was nothing he hated more than Death Eaters, but he was also very passionate about not falsely accusing people for obvious reasons.

My sister-in-law, Meredith Wells, is watching Teddy while I am in the Wizengamot. I have left instructions with her that you may visit any time and you can take him with you if you would like. I would just ask that you let her know where you will be going and when you will be back.

Andromeda Tonks

Ginny read the letter over Harry's shoulder. She smiled, thankful that the older witch was taking the time to let Harry know what a good job he'd done. She peeked up at his face and was gratified to see a smile on his face.

"That was really nice," he said softly. "I think I'd like to see Teddy tomorrow. He's so sweet and he always puts me in a good mood."

"I'll go with you if you would like."

Harry smiled, "You are always welcome to join me."

He stood up and helped her up, "Come on, let's go."

The couple left Grimmauld Place behind and were soon strolling hand-in-hand among the shops and restaurants of Islington. "What kind of food are you in the mood for?" Harry asked.

"I have no idea," Ginny said as she looked around a bit overwhelmed by the exotic scents and looks of the street. "My mum has always made great food, but she's never made a lot of spicy, exotic food. I've never had Indian food or African food. I don't know if I'd like it."

Harry laughed, "Don't worry about it. My relatives were never much for ethnic food either. We'll explore some African food some other time. For tonight, why don't we have some pizza?"

She looked up at him with a little bit of doubt in her eyes, "Will I like pizza?"

"You'll love it."

Ten minutes later, Ginny was taking her first bite of pizza. Harry had ordered a relatively plain pepperoni pizza for Ginny's first pizza. Her eyes lit up, "This is amazing."

"Good," Harry smiled. "I knew you would like it." He laughed, "It's a good thing your brothers aren't here. Merlin only knows how many pizzas we would have needed to order. My uncle and cousin would each eat a whole pizza themselves, so I'm sure Ron could put away a whole pizza."

Ginny giggled, "I'm sure he could."

After a fun and rather low key dinner, Harry and Ginny decided to walk around looking at the shops. Ginny was fascinated by the electronics stores and Harry had fun trying to explain exactly what a computer and a DVD player did.

Harry was enchanted by her enthusiasm and curiosity. She had all of her father's enthusiasm about Muggles, but in what he thought was a much cuter package.

"I wish we could make these work," Ginny sighed. "They just look like so much fun."

Harry laughed, "I bet that we could somehow make something that would work the same. I don't know how to do it, but there have got to be some sort of charms that would do something similar."

"I bet some brilliant Muggle-born will figure it out someday," Ginny laughed.

They headed down the street and Harry revelled in the ability to walk down the street with his fiancée and no one looked twice at them. He had his arm around her shoulders and she had looped her arm around his waist. Leaning down he kissed her quickly. She laughed up at him, obviously enjoying their evening.

They stopped at a bookshop and Ginny surprised Harry by heading straight for the romance novels. Shrugging, he wandered around the shop. He'd never been much for reading for fun, but he thought he might like a mystery. He was certain he didn't want any book that had to do with war.

A few minutes later, he spotted Ginny with a few books in her hand looking at a rack of magazines. He grabbed the mystery novel he'd been looking at off the shelf and headed over to see what had caught Ginny's attention.

"What are you looking at?" he asked as he walked up behind her.

To his surprise, she blushed and held up the magazine so he could see the title. It was a Brides magazine. He smiled, "That's a good idea."

"Really?" Ginny looked up at him a bit hesitantly. "We don't know when we are getting married and we haven't even told anyone we're getting married. You don't think I'm being a bit foolish for buying a Brides magazine?"

Harry shook his head as he wrapped his arms around her, "No, I don't. I can't wait to marry you and I think it's wonderful that you want to read these magazines." He lowered his voice a bit, "Do witches wear wedding dresses?"

Ginny nodded, "Usually. Some wear robes, but I love the wedding dresses. Didn't you see Fleur's gown last year?"

He blushed a bit, "I really was just watching you."

Smiling, she kissed him on the cheek. "That was a good answer."

"So what are you looking at?"

Ginny opened the magazine to the page she had been looking at, "Isn't this dress beautiful?"

Harry listened as Ginny explained about cap sleeves and lace over satin. He thought the dress was nice and honestly, Ginny would look beautiful in anything. As long as she married him, she could wear whatever she wanted. Eventually he talked her into purchasing the magazine as well as the romance novels.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course," Harry laughed as he pulled out his wallet.

It was getting dark as the two of them returned to Grimmauld Place. Ginny sighed as they returned to the kitchen, "I guess we need to head back to the Burrow."

Harry smiled as he pulled her into his arms. "We do. I don't want to, though. I wish we could just stay here."

"I know," Ginny snuggled closer into his arms. "I wish we could just get married now."

"If that's what you want to do, we can go right now," Harry said half seriously.

Ginny seemed to consider it before she shook her head, "I want my family there. As annoying and crazy as they are, I want them there."

"Okay," Harry said. "I guess that means we need to head back."

A small frown crossed his face as he recast the spells to hide Ginny's ring. Lifting her hand, he kissed it gently. Together the two headed back to the Burrow.
Arthur smiled as his daughter and her boyfriend walked into the sitting room. While Arthur had spent most of the day with his wife, he'd heard enough about what happened at the Ministry to know it must have been a rough day for Harry. Ron and Charlie looked up from their chess game by the fire and greeted the couple. Hermione and her mother were both sitting on the couch reading, although Arthur had noticed Hermione seemed to be paying more attention to the chess game than her book.

Standing, he walked over to the couple. He clasped Harry on the back, "Did you have a good evening, son?"

Harry nodded as he smiled adoringly at Ginny. "I did. Ginny and I went out to eat and then we went walking."

The couple sat on the sofa near his favourite chair across from Hermione and her mother.

"Daddy, you need to come with us one time." With her eyes sparkling, Ginny told her father about her foray into the Muggle world. "We even bought you something."

Ginny handed her a plastic bag which he quickly reached into. He pulled out something long, black, and sleek inside a hard plastic package. He looked over at his daughter.

"It's called a remote control," Ginny said. "They use it with the televisions." She turned to Harry. "What does it do again?"

He smiled at the father and daughter, "It changes channels on the telly. So you can switch between different programing."

Arthur was delighted. He did love Muggle technology. Harry opened the package for him and handed Arthur the remote. "It's battery operated."

"So why is it that you don't use electronics?" Jane asked curiously as she watched Arthur delightedly push the buttons on the remote.

"Our magic interferes with the electronics," Hermione explained promptly. "In a house with only one witch or wizard, electronics might work, but the more magic there is the less likely the electronics are to work."

"Last summer, I made my aunt's microwave explode just by walking in front of it," Harry added. "It started sparking and looked like it was shorting out. Luckily they didn't realize it was me who caused it. My uncle was going on about poor craftsmanship."

"Really?" Jane was fascinated. "Hermione has never had that effect on electronics."

"It depends on the witch or wizard, their emotions, as well as their use of magic." Arthur explained. "Someplace like here where everyone is magical and all of our belongings are magical, Muggle technology would never work. Harry's relatives' house is Muggle, but had some very powerful enchantments placed on it to keep him safe. It's not surprising that as he grew in his magical powers he would affect the technology. Your house is Muggle with mostly Muggle belongings. The addition of one witch not using much magic shouldn't affect the technology."

Bill, who had joined them in the sitting room, added, "I've heard that the magical governments in America and Japan are looking into integrating technology or creating magical devices to do the same things."

"That would be brilliant," Harry said. "I don't know much about computers, but if we could do some of the same things with magic that would be great."

"It would be great to have some sort of phone," Jane put in. "I'm so used to being able to get a hold of people quickly that having to write a letter and wait for a response seems so old fashioned."

"I was saying to Harry it's going to take some brilliant Muggle-born who's really interested in technology to replicate some of these things," Ginny said. "We manage with magic for a lot of things, but we don't really have anything like the telly-vision and the computer ."

"I heard there is a company interested in creating an accompaniment to the WWN that will be similar to the television." Bill said. "Wouldn't that be brilliant to be able to watch the Quidditch matches from home?"

Ron perked up at that, "I'd never have to miss another Cannons' game."

"There isn't much to miss in a Cannons' game," Ginny teased her brother. "Now Harpies games — they would be amazing to watch."

Arthur laughed as he watched the conversation degenerate into a debate over the merits of their favourite Quidditch teams. Harry, he noted, was supporting Ginny in her support of the Harpies, Ron was arguing in favour of the Cannons, while Charlie and Bill were both in favour of Puddlemere.
Harry woke with a start, his heart racing. Laying his head back on the pillow he wiped his eyes with a shaking hand. It had been a while since he'd had a nightmare about the graveyard in Little Hangleton.

Even though most of those who had taken part in Voldemort's resurrection were dead, the horror of that night remained. He could still feel the bite of the ropes into his arms and the cool stone against his back. He wondered what Cedric would have done if he'd survived. Would he have joined in the fight against Voldemort? Harry imagined that he would have. Would he have stayed with Cho? Harry reflected that might have saved him from the worst date of his life.

Looking around the room, he groaned when he saw the time was 2:45. He wasn't sure he would get back to sleep. He closed his eyes, but all he could see were red eyes. After tossing and turning for another thirty minutes,he got up and pulling on his dressing gown, headed downstairs.

He resolutely passed by Ginny's door and headed to the kitchen. To his surprise, Mr Weasley was sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of ice cream.

When he stepped into the kitchen, Mr Weasley looked up. "Harry." Looking more closely at the younger wizard he asked gently, "Nightmare?"

Harry nodded as he helped himself to a bowl of strawberry ice cream. "The graveyard."

After taking a bite of his ice cream, he looked over at his future father-in-law. "How is Mrs Weasley?"

Mr Weasley sighed, "She's a little better. I think now that she's not taking any potions everything is crashing down on her. She's so torn up about Fred and wondering if she could have done anything differently to prevent his d-death."

"I'm so sorry," Harry said softly. "I know after S-sirius I did the same thing. I kept beating myself up and thinking of all of the ways I could have done things differently. I was so angry with Snape and Dumbledore, I was even a little angry at Hermione because she had been right about it being a trap."

Mr Weasley chuckled softly, "I can imagine." He swirled around the last of his pumpkin ice cream around his bowl. Looking up, he said, "I have to say I'm a bit nervous about the meeting tonight."

"Why?" Harry asked.

"You might have noticed that most of my children have a bit of a temper." He smiled as Harry laughed. Mr Weasley continued, "I'm just afraid that a fight will start. Molly, Ron, and Charlie all have a tendency to speak first and think later. Percy tends to be a bit judgemental which doesn't go down well with the others. I have no idea what George will do."

"What about Ginny?" Harry asked after a moment.

Mr Weasley smiled, "Yes, my princess. She has a bit of a temper as well." He shook his head, "I'm honestly not sure about her either. While she is very sweet and nurturing, she tends to get upset when she is being babied and, as I'm sure you know, her mother tends to do that quite a bit."

"She knows how important it is for her mother to get better," Harry said earnestly. "I don't think she would do anything to get in the way of that."

"That's true," Mr Weasley replied. "I think I'm just thinking of all of the worst reactions everyone might have and then maybe I'll be happily surprised tomorrow."

Sending his now empty ice cream bowl to the sink, Mr Weasley eyed Harry. "What are you planning to do tomorrow? Do you have to testify?"

"Not tomorrow," Harry said with a touch of relief in his voice. "Neville, Seamus, and Michael will be testifying about the Carrows. I'm going to see Teddy tomorrow. Do you think it would be alright if I brought him here? I thought Ginny and I could have a picnic with him."

"That would be lovely," Mr Weasley said. "Ginny said that you are very good with the baby."

Harry blushed a little, "I think she might be exaggerating a bit, but I do really like being around him. He's so sweet. I hate that he lost his parents, but I want to make certain that he doesn't ever feel unwanted like I did as a kid."

The two sat quietly while Harry finished his ice cream. He sent his bowl to the sink and washed it.

"I have a question for you, Harry," Mr Weasley said before the younger wizard could leave.

"Of course," Harry said.

"I noticed something on my daughter's hand tonight."

Harry could feel the blood draining from his face. Mr Weasley smiled at him, "Don't look so scared, I'm not going to hurt you or anything."

"I'm sorry, Mr Weasley," Harry said softly. "I…I really love your daughter and…she…well she's it for me. When we went on holiday with Bill and Fleur I asked her to marry me."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Mr Weasley asked.

Taking heart that Mr Weasley hadn't kicked him out of the house or anything, Harry looked up. "Ginny wanted to wait until after her birthday to announce it. She didn't know how her mum would respond and didn't want to cause a scene."

He locked eyes with the older man, willing him to realize how important this was to them and how serious he was about Ginny. Mr Weasley seemed to be taking stock of his intentions and sincerity.

"When do you plan to get married?"

"I'm not sure yet," Harry admitted. "We probably won't get married for another year or two, but…I just…I want to be with her. She's not sure what she wants to do yet; she thinks she wants to play professional Quidditch and that would involve travel. I don't want to stop her from doing anything she wants to do; I just want to marry her."

Slowly Mr Weasley nodded. "I won't deny that I wish you were older, but I also know how happy you make her." He sighed, "She is also correct that her mother won't respond well to the announcement."

"I'm sorry," Harry said. He immediately clarified, "I'm sorry that she'll be upset. I'm not sorry that I asked Ginny to marry me. She really is the best thing that has ever happened to me. If you want to wait to tell Mrs Weasley, that's fine with me. We don't want to make anything worse."

Mr Weasley sighed as he rubbed his eyes under his glasses, "I think it would be in everyone's best interests to announce it at a later point in time. Who else knows right now?"

"Just Bill and Fleur," Harry explained. He looked curiously at Mr Weasley, "How did you know? I thought I recast the glamours on her ring correctly."

"You did," Mr Weasley assured him. "I felt something on her hand when she handed me the remote control. I didn't think much of it at first, but as I watched the two of you I realized what it must be. You can break through a glamour charm, especially if you have an idea of what you are looking for." He looked at the younger wizard over his glasses. "I will be talking to Ginny in the morning."

As the two men rose, Mr Weasley pulled Harry into an embrace. "I am very happy for the two of you and I certainly give you my blessing. As long as my daughter is happy, I am happy."

They headed upstairs together and this time Harry was able to fall back asleep much more easily.
As Harry and Ginny jogged into the back garden, Mr Weasley called out to his daughter. While Harry finished his work out, Ginny headed into her father's shed. It had always been one her most favourite places in the whole world.

The shed was crammed with pieces of all sorts of mysterious Muggle items. When she was little, she used to come out and sit on her own little stool and play with whatever her father felt was safe for her to fiddle with. The shed was also the site of any dressing downs her father felt necessary to dole out. While that didn't happen often, all of her brothers had been pulled out here at one time or another. Ginny had never been called into her father's shed before, so she was a bit nervous.

"Good morning, Dad."

"Good morning, love." Mr Weasley hugged his daughter before gesturing her into his shed. As she sat down on one of the stools, he said, "I'm guessing that Harry talked to you."

She nodded, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Dad."

"I understand, love." He looked over at his baby girl.

After so many boys, his daughter had literally taken his breath away when she arrived. He hadn't been able to spoil her as he would have liked, but he tried to spend as much time with her as possible. He'd played tea party with her and would take her into work with him from time to time. He hated the fact that she was old enough to look to someone else, but he was truly happy that she'd found her true love.

Still he had to make sure. "You are happy, right?"

"I'm very happy," she confirmed. "When we were out last night I even bought a Brides magazine. I know we aren't getting married for a while, but…"

Mr Weasley started laughing, "I remember when your mother and I first became engaged. She had every bridal magazine she could get her hands on."

"I thought you eloped?" Ginny asked.

"We did," he replied. "But we didn't start out that way. We were planning on having a traditional wedding, but your mother and grandmother couldn't agree on anything. Finally we just had enough and eloped."

Ginny giggled, "I can understand that after seeing Bill and Fleur's wedding. We don't want a big wedding. I hope Mum will understand that."

"You might have a few arguments on your hands." Mr Weasley laughed. "I will try to help keep her calm, but there may be an argument or two in your future."

Ginny laughed. "So you're okay with Harry and me getting married?"

"I am," Mr Weasley affirmed. "I want to make certain you at least finish Hogwarts first, but I am very happy for you."

"I can't decide if I want a summer wedding or a Christmas wedding," Ginny said. She was glad to have someone to talk to about wedding ideas. "A summer wedding would be great because we could get married once I finish at Hogwarts and before I start working, but I've always liked the idea of a Christmas wedding. We could have a tent like Bill and Fleur did, but have it heated. We could have holly and ivy and mistletoe and we could have Christmas trees around the edge of the tent. Wouldn't that be brilliant?"

Mr Weasley smiled indulgently at his daughter. "That does sound lovely."

A knock on the open doorway caused them to look up. Harry was standing there, obviously having finished his work out. "Is everything okay?"

Ginny nodded, "Yes, Daddy and I were just talking. I think I've decided I want a Christmas wedding. Would you mind waiting until next December?"

Harry shook his head with a smile. "No, love. I told you, whenever you want to get married is fine with me. Christmas sounds great."

Ginny beamed, "Yeah!"

"Are we still waiting to tell everyone?" Harry asked.

Exchanging a glance with her father, Ginny nodded. "At least until my birthday; once I'm seventeen no one can say I'm too young or don't know what I'm doing."

Hugging her father, Ginny followed Harry into the house.

Close to noon, Harry arrived back at the Burrow with Teddy in his arms.

"Teddy!" Ginny swooped in and lifted him out of Harry's arms. Teddy giggled and his hair changed to a bright red.

Harry smiled as he set the baby bag down. "He seems happy to see you."

The back door opened and Ron and Hermione entered. Hermione gasped when she saw the baby. "My goodness, is that Professor Lupin's baby?"

Harry nodded proudly, "Yes, this is Teddy."

"He's gotten so big," Hermione said as she walked over to Ginny.

"How old is he now?" Ron asked.

"He's four months old," Harry said as he rubbed his hand over the baby's head. "Isn't he sweet?"

"He is," Hermione cooed.

Ron looked a little scared to get too close to the baby. "What is he doing here?"

"I'm taking him and Ginny on a picnic this afternoon," Harry explained.

Ginny handed the baby back to Harry and started packing up the lunch she'd made while he was getting Teddy. "So what was his aunt like?"

"She seemed really nice," Harry replied. "She reminded me of Mr Tonks — she's blond and a little plump, very friendly. She's moved in with Andromeda and Teddy for a while. Her husband is away in Belgium on some kind of consulting job for a few months, so she's helping Andromeda out."

"Is she a witch?" Hermione asked.

"She is, but her husband is a Muggle and I get the idea that she doesn't use much magic in her daily life," Harry said. "She works as a primary school teacher."

Ginny looked up from her packing, "Would you two like to come on our picnic?"

"Sure," Ron answered immediately.

"Are you sure?" Hermione asked. "We don't want to intrude."

"No, that's fine," Harry said. "We haven't had much opportunity to hang out this summer."

After applying the sunscreen charm to the baby, the four teens headed out to the pond. While Ginny and Ron spread out the blankets, Harry cast the charms Bill had taught him on the pond so Teddy couldn't fall in. Hermione watched with interest.

"Why are you casting the charms if Teddy doesn't even crawl yet?"

Harry looked over his shoulder at his friend, "Bill said it was a good idea to get used to casting the charms even before he can move so it becomes like second nature. That way I won't have to develop new habits when he gets older."

As they sat down on the blankets, Hermione remarked, "You seem like you have been spending quite a bit of time with Bill."

Harry nodded as he handed Teddy his favourite wolf rattle. "He helped me approach the goblins and work out the arrangement for me to work with them. He's great."

Ron had already piled his plate high with sandwiches and was settling in to eat as the other three grabbed their food. Hermione grabbed a turkey sandwich before asking, "What did you do with the goblins?"

"They were angry after the break-in so Kingsley and Bill helped broker a deal with Gringott's management. I released a statement that the goblins had helped in Voldemort's defeat — which they did in a way — and I helped repair the damage we caused in our escape. I had to pay a fine and I worked with a team of curse breakers and warders to repair the damage."

"Charlie is happy because you three inadvertently brought the plight of the dragons to public attention," Ginny put in. "Some of the experts from the Hebrides Dragon Preserve have been down in the tunnels helping to create better working conditions for the dragons."

The afternoon passed quickly for the teens. Harry felt relaxed and happy as he played with Teddy or just chatted with his friends. They stayed away from the emotionally laden topics of his testimony or Mrs Weasley, but Hermione and Ginny were talking about the upcoming school year and Ron and Harry were talking about their plans for the autumn.

"You should move into Grimmauld place," Harry was insisting. "It will be fun. Seamus will be staying there too."

"That does sound like fun," Ron admitted. "George is going to be staying with Percy and I certainly don't want to stay with Percy."

"Can you imagine what he would be like as a roommate?" Harry laughed. "I'm sure he'd fuss at you to clean your room and be quiet. I promise I won't do that. You can have your pick of rooms. Kreacher is redoing all of the rooms so you can have him paint one orange if you want."

"I'll talk to Dad," Ron promised. "If he thinks it's a good idea, I'll do it."

"Good," Harry smiled.

As the teens and Teddy returned to the house, Harry turned to Hermione. "What do you want to do this evening?"

"My mum wanted to call my dad so we were going to head into town," Hermione explained. "How about the three of us get some dinner while we're there?"

"What are you talking about?" Ron demanded. "We have to go see my mum this evening."

Hermione looked at Harry who seemed a bit taken aback. "It's a family meeting, mate. We aren't going."

"What?" Ron looked at his sister who seemed a bit uncomfortable.

"Dad said it was a family meeting," she said. "I think Mum might feel a bit uncomfortable with other people there."

"But it's Harry and Hermione, not some strangers," Ron argued.

"Ron, we'll be here when you get home," Hermione said softly.

Glaring at the others, Ron slammed out of the kitchen. Hermione sighed as she sank into one of the kitchen chairs. Charlie and Mrs Granger, who had been in the sitting room, came into the kitchen.

"What happened?" Charlie asked.

"Ron," Ginny explained what happened.

"I'll talk to him in a bit," Charlie said. "I'll give him some time to calm down.

Nodding, Harry said, "I need to take Teddy home. I'll be back soon.."

At five in the afternoon, the Weasley family was ready to head to Brighton. Charlie, as promised, had talked to Ron so he was a bit calmer. Harry kissed Ginny goodbye and watched as they all stepped into the floo one by one.

Hermione sighed, "I really hope everything goes well."

"Me too," Harry replied.

Back to index

Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Summerbee's

Author's Notes: Thank you so much to my beta StephanieO for all of her hard work!

Molly took extra care when dressing and preparing for the family meeting. She wanted to at least look as good as she could. As she was adjusting her robes, she noticed for the first time that she had lost quite a bit of late. She quelled a nervous laugh — she had tried to lose weight for how long and now she lost weight without even noticing.

A sigh escaped her lips, not noticing was what got her into so much trouble. Try as she may, she couldn’t for the life of her recall the last few days before her overdose. Honestly her memories of the whole summer were rather blurry. What she did know beyond any doubt was she had not been there for her family. In talking to Arthur over the past few days, she learned how much Ginny and Harry had done to help out around the house. Bill and Fleur had been keeping an eye on everyone.

The sound of voices made her turn from the mirror. A knock on the door heralded the arrival of Healer Sinclair. “Your family is here, Mrs Weasley. Are you ready for this?”

Molly smiled shakily, “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

Standing, she accompanied the young healer to the family conference room where she knew the meeting was to take place. Her heart beat a little faster as they approached the room. She could hear the voices of her family.

Healer Sinclair pushed the door open and Molly could see her loved ones. She focused almost immediately on her daughter. “Ginny.”

She opened her arms and Ginny ran into them. For a moment it was just the two of them, but then another pair of arms encircled them and another and another. Soon all of the Weasleys stood wrapped around the two Weasley women. They stood like that for some time before Healer Sinclair cleared her throat.

The Weasleys unwrapped themselves and Molly saw her big, strong, boys all wiping their eyes. She sank into the chair Healer Sinclair indicated for her and Arthur sat next to her. The children all arranged themselves around them in a circle.

Molly cleared her throat, “I want to say that I am very, very sorry for what happened. I am especially sorry to you, Ginny. That must have been an awful thing to witness.”

“What happened, Mum?” Ron asked plaintively.

She sighed, “I’m honestly not certain, Ron. I am ashamed to say I don’t remember too much of this summer. I was taking Calming Draught and at times I would take it even when I couldn’t remember the last time I had taken it.” Tears sprang to her eyes, but she forced herself to continue. “I liked the numb feeling; when I took the potions I didn’t feel the pain of losing my son and I didn’t feel so useless that I couldn’t protect my children. Ginny getting tortured at Hogwarts, George…I would think of George and try to imagine his pain and I couldn’t even breathe.”

Forcing herself to look up at her children, she sobbed, “I am so sorry. I know I was very, very selfish and I wasn’t there for you when you needed me.”

Arthur wrapped an arm around her and she allowed herself to draw comfort from him as she had for so many years.

She straightened up when she saw George lean forward. He looked at her intently before he said, “I won’t deny that I’ve been upset with you, Mum. This has been the absolute worst period of my life and suddenly you weren’t there.” He reached over and took his sister’s hand. “Ginny and Harry have been brilliant. They’ve been taking care of us and talking to me. Harry really made me…he told me that he thinks F-fred was with his parents and Sirius. For some reason, that really made me feel better. Fred is waiting for me with the Marauders.”

Molly felt tears streaming down her face, but when she started to say something George shook his head. “It’s okay, Mum. I love you and I really just want you to come home with us.”

“Thank you, Georgie,” Molly whispered.

“I agree, Mum,” Ginny said. “I want you to come home, but I want you to really be there. I don’t mind helping out, but I hate that I have to. I had a horrible year last year, I was tortured and starved and you have ignored that and ignored me. If I say something about last year, I don’t want to hear ‘It wasn’t that bad’ or some other stupid thing. Can’t you just listen and believe me?”

“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Molly sighed. “I didn’t want to hear about how badly I’d let you down.”

“But it did happen, Mum,” Ginny said a bit more forcefully. “It isn’t about you. There isn’t anything you could have done. I had to go to school. It would have been nice to be able to talk to you about things that happened, but instead you minimized everything I went through.”

“I’m sorry,” Molly repeated. She hadn’t realized the extent to which she’d let her family down.

“I just want the Burrow to be a home again,” Ron put it. “I miss you, Mum. I wouldn’t even fuss if you yelled at me to clean up my room. Well at least not too much.”

Molly managed a watery smile for her youngest son.

She next looked at her oldest son. “Bill, your father’s been telling me how wonderful you and Fleur have been with your brothers and sister. Thank you so much.”

“It’s okay, Mum. I love them all and I’ve been glad to help out.” Bill smiled at his sister. “I’ve loved spending time with Ginny.”

George spoke up again, “Mum, you couldn’t have stopped Fred from fighting. We knew what we were doing and we knew there was the possibility one of us might not return. He believed in fighting for all of us to be free from….from Voldemort. We didn’t go in blindly.”

Molly nodded as she listened to him; she did know well how stubborn her twins were. Ginny added, “You did save me, Mum. I haven’t forgotten how you stepped in front of me to battle Bellatrix Lestrange.”

Arthur watched proudly as his wonderful children provided their mother with the support and love she needed. He didn’t fool himself that it was always going to be this easy, but he was glad that tonight was good.
Harry slid into the booth across the table from Hermione and her mother. He looked around the pub, “This is a nice place.”

Hermione nodded, “It is.” She looked at her mother, “It reminds me of the place near Grandma’s house.”

Mrs Granger nodded, “It does.”

“Ginny said that Bill used to bring her down here sometimes,” Harry commented as he perused the menu.

“Really?” Hermione asked. “I never had the impression that the Weasleys were down here much.”

“Ginny says they used to come down here to go shopping,” Harry said. “When we went to the butcher’s he knew her by name.”

Hermione shrugged, “Maybe Ron didn’t come down here as much. He always seems a bit more nervous around Muggles than Ginny does. I think Mrs Weasley used to keep Ginny with her more than she did with the boys. Witches and wizards can be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to gender roles.”

“I had noticed that as well,” Mrs Granger put in. She looked at Harry. “Arthur was amazed not just that you could cook, but that you are proficient at cleaning and willing to help around the house.”

“That’s something you’ll have to change,” Harry teased Hermione.

She blushed, but didn’t respond as the waitress had come to take their orders. Conversation flowed easily during dinner and Harry enjoyed getting to know Mrs Granger better. He found the interactions between his friend and her mother to be fascinating. They seemed to get along very well and in some ways seemed more like friends than anything else. Mrs Granger seemed to know a lot more about Hermione’s feelings for Ron and their relationship than he was certain Mrs Weasley knew about his and Ginny’s relationship. It was nice — it made him wonder what kind of relationship he would have had with his mother.

After dinner the three of them headed out to the town square. Harry wandered around the square while the other two spoke to Mr Granger on their mobile. His thoughts turned to the Weasleys. He wondered how their counselling session was going. He hoped everyone would keep their tempers in check, but he knew all too well how easily their tempers could flare.

The three returned to the Burrow as the sun was setting. It was a beautifully cool summer evening and Mrs Granger left the windows down as they drove back from town. Lights were on at the Burrow so they knew the Weasleys had returned.

As they walked towards the front door, Harry could hear laughter spilling out from the kitchen and felt a wave of relief sweep over him. He opened the door and found George, Charlie, Bill, and Ginny laughing at the kitchen table.

Ginny looked up when he walked in and smiled. “Hi, did you have a good time in town?”

Nodding, Harry dropped a kiss on her cheek as he sat down next to her. “Yeah, we went to the pub and then walked around the town square for a while.”

“They have surprisingly good food there,” George put in. He made a face, “We stopped at a diner near the hospital and the food wasn’t very good.”

“How’d the meeting go?” Harry asked hesitantly.

The siblings looked at each other and shrugged. Bill answered, “It seemed to go okay. Mum looks a lot better than she has in a while. She was clear and coherent. Dad seemed happy.”

“No fighting,” George put in. “I don’t know, in some ways it didn’t feel totally real.”

Charlie chuckled, “Yeah, everyone was too nice.”
Ginny looked up with a smile as Hermione entered her room. “Hi, Hermione how was dinner?”

“It was really nice,” Hermione replied with a smile. “My mum was glad to talk to my dad.”

“What did Ron have to say about the meeting?”

“Not much,” Hermione said with a sigh as she sank down on her bed. “I think he’s a bit upset with your mum, but he’s afraid to say so. He just wants everything to go back to how it was before. You know Ron — he doesn’t like to talk about his feelings.”

Ginny rolled her eyes, but didn’t comment. She sat up on her bed and set her book on the nightstand.

A knock on the door caused both girls to look up. Fleur was in the doorway with a stack of laundry. “Here you go, Ginny. I was doing some of my laundry so I thought I would do yours as well.”

“Thank you,” Ginny said as she got up and took the clothes from her sister-in-law. “Did you get some work done tonight?”

Fleur nodded. She had chosen not to attend the family meeting so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. Instead, she’d returned to Shell Cottage for the evening to do some laundry and get some work done. “Oui, I did laundry and wrote a letter to my parents. Bill and I had planned to go visit them, but with everything happening we didn’t feel right in going. Perhaps in a few weeks, if things have settled down we might go.”

Hermione watched the two girls talking and was struck by how comfortable and friendly they were with each other. It was a marked difference from their previous relationship — no more Phlegm. Even so she was shocked when Fleur leaned over and kissed Ginny on the cheek before leaving the room.

“What?” Ginny asked defensively as she started to put her clothes away.

“Nothing,” Hermione replied somewhat unconvincingly. When Ginny continued to look at her, Hermione added, “Well, the two of you are getting along so well. It just surprised me.”

Ginny laughed, “Trust me, it surprised me too.” She shrugged, “I think I grew up a little bit and actually got to know her. She’s actually really nice and she’s very smart. She helped me revise for my exams.”

“Really?” Hermione asked with a hint of disbelief.

“Really,” Ginny said firmly. She put the shirt away and as she started to put her lingerie away, she heard Hermione gasp.

“Ginny!” Hermione said shrilly as she got up to walk across the room. She picked up the bra on top of the stack in Ginny’s hand. “This is French lingerie.”

Ginny smiled and nodded, “I know.”

“It’s expensive,” Hermione said accusingly. “Do you have any idea how much all of this cost? This must have been hundreds of pounds.”

Ginny’s smile faltered, “He said it wasn’t that expensive.”

“Ginny, you can’t take advantage of him like that.” Hermione said reprovingly.

“I didn’t take advantage of anyone,” Ginny said defensively. “Bill and Fleur bought it for me. He said it wasn’t that much money.”

Hermione looked at her friend sceptically. She had recognized the tags on the lingerie, it was very expensive. She knew the Weasleys didn’t have a lot of money — how could they justify spending so much money on lingerie of all things. It just didn’t make sense.

On the other hand, she could tell Ginny was telling the truth. While Ginny could lie easily at times, the truth was shining in her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Hermione said. “I…I just…it surprised me. That’s a lot of money to spend on lingerie.”

“Really?” Ginny looked a bit worried. “Bill said it was okay. He said it wasn’t a lot of money. I didn’t really understand how much it was.”

Hermione sighed, “I am so sorry, Ginny. I’m a horrible person. I shouldn’t have been so judgemental. It was very nice of your brother to do that for you.”

Ginny eyed her friend and judging her friend sincere, she decided to share the whole story with her friend. Both girls were in tears by the end of Ginny’s story. Hermione got up and walked over to Ginny’s bed and wrapped her arms around the younger girl.

“I am so, so sorry. That was very nice of Bill and Fleur,” Hermione said.

“I should have just told you,” Ginny said. “I know you were just looking out for Harry. It is something he would do.” She laughed, “No, I take that back. I don’t think he would have stepped foot in a lingerie shop on his own.”

“Did he really go with you?” Hermione asked.

Ginny giggled, “He did. He was so red, it was really cute. Bill was pointing out things for Fleur to try, but poor Harry he couldn’t figure out what was safe to look at.”

Hermione laughed, “I can see that. When we were travelling, he picked up one of my bras and he turned so red. I don’t know if he’d ever seen one before.”

The two girls started laughed together. Hermione smiled over at her friend, glad for the easing of tensions. “I’m sorry if I’ve been…a bit grouchy lately. I feel like I don’t know where I belong. I love spending more time with my parents and helping them set up their new practice has been great. We’ve been talking a lot and getting along so well. But, then I miss all of you and I miss Ron. It seems we’ve finally admitted our feelings to each other and we don’t get to see each other. I’m a little jealous of you and Harry.”

“Trust me, I understand,” Ginny said. “I was rather jealous of you last year. I know you weren’t having fun or anything, but at least you and Ron were together.” She grinned at her friend, “The fact that the two of you weren’t together is your own damn fault. You’re just both so stubborn.”

Hermione laughed, “I know.” She leaned back so she was sitting against the wall, while Ginny was sitting against the headboard of her bed.

“I didn’t want to be the one to admit my feelings first,” Hermione said. “I’ve had a crush on your brother for what…almost five years. I think I first noticed him like that at the beginning of our third year, but he never seemed to look at me that way. It really hurt me when he went after Lavender of all people. It just seemed to confirm that he’d never look twice at someone like me. I’m not as pretty as Lavender and Ron and I fight all the time.”

“He likes fighting with you,” Ginny pointed out gently. “He told me once that you are so beautiful when you get fired up and start yelling back at him.”

“Really?” Hermione looked pleased.

Ginny nodded. Hermione smiled as she continued, “I thought that after he broke up with Lavender he might ask me out, but he seemed content to let things go back to how they had been at the beginning of the school year. We kind of edged towards things, but I really wanted him to be the one to make the first move. He would be so sweet and he asked me to dance at the wedding — we would hold hands sometimes, but he never pushed anything. It was very frustrating.”

She looked over at her friend, “Did Harry tell you that…”

“That Ron left you?” Ginny finished for her softly. “Yes, he did.”

“I was so angry with him,” Hermione said. “I was angry at both of them actually. Harry didn’t really have a plan and Ron wasn’t helping at all. The locket just intensified everything. It was truly awful. I hate not having a plan and part of me really wanted to go with Ron. I was tired of being tired and I was tired of being hungry, but we’d promised Harry.”

Ginny smiled at Hermione’s loyalty. “What happened when Ron came back?”

“He just came back with such a different attitude. He was helpful and kind. After Malfoy Manor, he was amazing. He was so solicitous; he really was everything I could have hoped for. After the battle, he finally admitted that he likes me and asked me to be his girlfriend.”

“I’m so glad the two of you worked it out,” Ginny said. “I wish they were coming back to school with us next year — I’m going to miss Harry so much. I think I like just being able to look at him now. I had no idea where he was for so long.”

“Just look at him?” Hermione teased.

Ginny blushed, “Okay, I like doing other things as well.”

The girls started laughing.
By the time Hermione woke the next morning, Ginny’s bed was already empty. She made her way downstairs and found her mother and Ginny making strawberry scones.

“That smells really good,” she remarked.

Ginny flashed her a smile, “Thanks.”

After pouring cereal, Hermione settled at the table. “Where is everyone?”

“Dad went to see Mum before heading into work. Harry went in early to work out at the gym with Seamus. Bill and Fleur went into work and Percy and George headed over to Percy’s flat. He didn’t know if there was any damage, there had been fighting in the area so he and George went to check it out. Charlie and Ron are still sleeping.” Ginny ran through the family members.

She laughed, “I have a feeling once they smell the scones, they’ll come quickly enough.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” Hermione agreed.

After putting another batch of scones in the oven, Ginny joined Hermione at the table. “I was thinking. Usually Mum has a vegetable garden, but because they went to Aunt Muriel’s she never got to plant one.”

“So you want to plant one for her,” Hermione guessed.

“Exactly,” Ginny said. “I was looking through my Mum’s gardening supplies and found that we can still plant peas, beans, and lettuce. Do you want to help?”

“That sounds great,” Hermione said. She looked at her mother, “Mum?”

“Sure, I love gardening.”

Charlie and Ron joined the ladies and within a few hours, a respectable vegetable garden was taking shape.
Harry was listening to Seamus describe his testimony in court the day before when Auror Dawlish joined them. The students quieted down immediately.

“Good morning. I want to start by saying - I am pleased with how well all of you performed testifying in court. All of you did well and performed a great service to our country.”

Harry exchanged smiles with his fellow students. One of the things he really liked about Dawlish is he never called extra attention to Harry — unless he could contribute something unique to the class.

Drawing a packet of letters from his pocket, he announced, “I have the results of your testing.” He smiled at them, “I have to confess we did not administer these tests entirely to place you in classes, although that was part of our reasoning. Except for Miss Bell, the rest of you actually took your NEWTs.”

“What?” Harry could see Michael Corner panicking a bit.

“Not to worry,” Dawlish said. With a wave of his wand, he sent the envelopes to each student.

Taking his with a slightly shaking hand, Harry ripped open the envelope.
Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O)
Exceeds Expectations (E)
Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P)
Dreadful (D)
Troll (T)

Harry James Potter had achieved:

Charms E
Defence Against the Dark Arts O
Herbology A
History of Magic D
Potions E
Transfiguration O

Harry stared at his results in astonishment. How on Earth had he done so well? He looked over at the other student and they all looked rather pleased.

Clearing his throat, Dawlish recalled all of their attention. “Congratulations to everyone. We are very pleased with the overall results. I am so pleased to say that all of you received an ‘O’ in Defence.” He paused while they all cheered. “However, all of you did rather poorly in History of Magic.”

Harry didn’t think that was all that difficult to understand. With Professor Binns teaching, no one really learned anything.

“I have spoken to Professor McGonagall about the situation and we have come up with a rather unique solution. This year will be a rebuilding year for the entire wizarding world. Hogwarts will have new teachers in many subjects for the first time in years. Professor Michael Carter has agreed to take the History of Magic position. When I explained to him the problems all of you had with the test, he came up with a rather unique solution. He will teach seventh year History of Magic once a week. Because everyone will be taking History of Magic this year, there will be two classes. One in the morning and one in the afternoon; you will be taking classes with your former house.”

Harry broke out in a huge grin. He was going to have a class with Ginny once a week. He couldn’t wait to tell her.

Dawlish smiled, “I thought that would make some of you happy.”

Harry could feel himself blushing as Seamus immediately turned to look at him, but honestly he was too thrilled to care.
The next morning, Harry was surprised to see so many people up and awake early in the morning. Ron and Charlie were the only two still in bed.

“Good morning,” he said as he kissed Ginny on the cheek. Of course this was not first time he had greeted her this morning, but he didn’t want to advertise that she had spent the night in his bed.

“Good morning,” she smiled back a bit sleepily.

“I made some eggs and bacon this morning,” Mrs Granger said. “Arthur put a warming charm on them, so please help yourself.”

“Thank you,” Harry said as he piled eggs and some bacon onto his plate.

“What are you doing today?” Hermione asked.

He smiled, “We are working on Potions this morning. I’m not sure what we are doing this afternoon.”

“Stepping out on my sister again?” George asked from behind the paper.

Harry groaned. “Now who?”

“Katie Bell,” George said with a laugh as he set the paper down on the table.

“Well, at least I know her,” Harry said looking at the picture. “Last week they had that picture of me standing next to some witch in the elevator — I didn’t even know who she was.”

“Is that in the Canteen?” Ginny asked peering over his arm.

Harry nodded, “They managed to cut out Neville and Seamus who were sitting with us.”

“You are awfully calm about it,” Hermione observed. She was rather surprised her friend wasn’t yelling.

He shrugged, “It’s annoying, but as long as Ginny knows she’s the only one for me — I couldn’t care less what other people think.”

“You know,” Ginny said with a mischievous smile on her face. “I’m not sure I do know that. I think you should take me out to dinner tonight to remind me.”

He grinned at her. “I think I can do that.”

Leaning over, he kissed her a bit more passionately than he normally did in front of her family. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Enough, enough,” George cried. The grin on his face, however said he was very happy for the two of them.
Harry handed in his potion feeling very good about it. He glanced over Seamus who seemed to be doing well. Harry was glad as Seamus and Susan hadn’t taken Potions past their OWLs. Madam Kelley seemed able to teach everyone. Seamus had confided that he’d been studying Potions since he’d decided to apply for the program.

The door opened suddenly. Dawlish appeared in the doorway, “Dementors have been spotted near York. Anyone who can produce a Patronus is needed.”

All of the students stepped forward. Dawlish smiled, “Excellent.” He pulled a piece of rope from his robe. “Everyone, ready?”

They all nodded and they were all pulled away in a nauseating swirl. As they landed, Harry already pulled his wand out.

The street was chaotic. Groups of people were huddled in the street or in doorways. To Harry’s dismay, he saw two still bodies he thought had already been kissed.

“Expecto Patronum!”

The cry was echoed down the street and Harry saw Seamus’s fox and Michael’s wolf join Prongs in running down the Dementors. He could see other flashes of silvery Patronuses, but he was too busy to look and see to whom they belonged. As they started directing the Patronuses, the Dementors started leaving.

Within a few moments, all of the Dementors were gone. Unfortunately, they left a lot of scared people behind.

“Aurors!” Dawlish called gathering them around. He handed each of them a large bag of chocolate. “Give everyone some chocolate. If you find someone who has been kissed, send up red sparks. The Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes will be on site soon.”

Nodding, the Auror students fanned out. Harry found himself kneeling in front of a little blonde girl and her mother. The little girl was crying, but her mother appeared to be going into shock.

“Here, sweetie,” Harry said gently as he gave the child a piece of chocolate. He watched as she started to chew before he looked at her mother. Unsure of exactly what he should do, he slipped a piece between her lips. He could tell when it started to work as her cheeks started to pink up.

With a smile for the little girl, Harry hurried on to the next group. By the time he was out of chocolate, he was rather exhausted. Looking around, he saw that workers from the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes were already on scene. He absently ate a piece of chocolate that he’d saved for himself as he watched them work.

They swiftly weeded out the Muggles and Harry could see the flashing of spells as they modified the memories of the Muggles. A muffled sob took him by surprise. Turning, he saw Susan Bones next to him. Tears were pouring down her face.

“Susan, are you okay?” Harry asked looking around nervously. Crying girls, unless it was Ginny, were a mystery to him.

“The little boy was right in front of me,” she sobbed. “I couldn’t get my Patronus there fast enough.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said sincerely. He almost jumped as she almost fell into his arms. Gingerly, he wrapped an arm around her and tried to be comforting. He knew he was rather rubbish at it, but he gave it a try.

To his relief, she stopped crying soon and he offered her his handkerchief. He kept his hand on her back as she wiped her eyes. In the background, he heard the click of a camera. Looking around he noticed a photographer moving away. Inwardly he groaned, he was sure this meant another picture in the paper.
Ginny stepped out of the fireplace at Summerbee’s. Her mother had been here a week now and things were slowly returning to normal.

“Good morning, Ginny.”

Turning, she saw Healer Sinclair, “Good morning. How’s my mum this morning?”

“She seems to be doing well,” the healer replied with a smile. “What do you have there?”

“Her knitting,” Ginny explained. “She makes Christmas jumpers for us all each year and she asked me to bring in her bag.”

“That’s excellent,” the healer said. “She must be feeling more like her old self.”

By this time they’d reached her mother’s room. Bidding goodbye to the healer, Ginny knocked on the partially opened door. “Good morning, Mum.”

“Good morning, dear,” Mrs Weasley replied.

Ginny leaned over and kissed her mother on the cheek. She set the knitting bag down on the bed before sitting in the chair next to the bed.

“Thank you so much for bringing the bag with you,” Mrs Weasley said as she started digging through the bag. “So how is everyone?”

“Good,” Ginny replied. “Ron, George, and Percy have been going into the shop the last few days. They’ve finished with the cleaning and now they’re restocking everything. I think it’s really helped Ron decide that he really does want to work with George. Percy has been really helping them with the books and identifying what are their most profitable items. Lee and Angelina are going to be helping them with the owl order part of the business.”

“That’s wonderful,” Mrs Weasley enthused. “My boys working together instead of arguing — that’s how it should be.”

She frowned slightly, “I wish Ron would finish school, but I do understand him wanting to help his brother out. I was hoping that Hermione might influence him a bit. Your father told me that Hermione and her mother left.”

Ginny nodded, “Yes, a few days ago. Ron’s been moping, but we’re going over to Hermione’s house this weekend and going to the cinema.”

“That’s lovely, dear.” A frown crossed Mrs Weasley’s face. “You are letting them have their space, aren’t you? They are a couple now.”

“Of course, Mum,” Ginny said rather shocked at her mother’s suggestion. “They invited me and Harry to go with them.”

“You’ve mentioned Harry quite a bit,” Mrs Weasley said. “What happened to Neville?”

“Neville? What are you talking about?” Ginny spluttered.

“Ginny, you can’t fool me. You talked about Neville a lot last year. I guessed you had a bit of a crush on him. Then this summer he’s been visiting you quite a bit.” Mrs Weasley smiled at her daughter. “I know you’ve always had a bit of a crush on Harry, but it’s not fair to Neville if you lead him on. Neville’s been there for you and he’s a solid, dependable young man. You would be hard pressed to do better than him.

“I love Harry, but honestly he’s never really noticed you dear. He may be turning to you more now that Ron and Hermione are dating, but you shouldn’t read anything into that. He’s a nice boy, but he’s going to be in London all year while you are at Hogwarts. I saw his picture in the paper with that blond girl, from the Quidditch team and another picture with Amelia’s niece.”

“Katie and Susan?” Ginny questioned, somewhat stunned at her mother’s thoughts. “Mum, they are both in the Auror program with Harry. I have never, ever dated or ‘crushed on’ Neville. I talked about him a lot last year because he and I were running the DA together. I have been dating Harry for over a year. Hell, we’ve been dating longer than Ron and Hermione.”

“Language, Ginevra!” Mrs Weasley said sharply. She looked at her daughter in confusion. “You’re dating Harry?”

Ginny wanted to tell her mother that she wasn’t just dating Harry, she was engaged to him. However, she knew that would not go over well. “Yes, Mother.”

“Does your father know about this?”

“Yes, Mother.” Ginny sat back in her chair and pushed her hair back.

“Ginevra Molly Weasley! Did you get your ears pierced?” Mrs Weasley yelled.

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mother. Fleur pierced them for me.”

Mrs Weasley’s nostrils flared. “How dare she? I will be having words with her and Bill. I have specifically told you I don’t want you getting your ears pierced. It looks cheap. What will people think of you?”

“I like it,” Ginny said defiantly. She glared at her mother. This visit wasn’t going at all as she had planned it. “Harry likes it too.”

“I will be having words with your father about this,” Mrs Weasley said angrily.

Ginny barely bit back a sarcastic comment. She wanted to rail at her mother that if she’d been paying any attention she would have known not only who Ginny was dating, but also that she’d gotten her ears pierced as well.

She looked down at the floor, trying to calm her temper. After all, she didn’t want to be responsible for her mother having some sort of relapse.

“Dad knows,” Ginny said evenly. “He knows about me and Harry and he told both of us he approves of our relationship. He also knows about the earrings.”

Defiantly, she pushed her hair behind her ears and showed her mother the earrings. “Harry asked me to wear his mother’s wedding ring as an earring. He is wearing his father’s ring as an earring. Bill made the rings into earrings for us and Fleur pierced our ears.”

Mrs Weasley shook her head, “He is letting you get away with too much, Ginny. As much as you want to think you are an adult, you are not. You are only sixteen years old.”

“I will be seventeen in just a few weeks, Mother.” Ginny replied hotly.


The two Weasley women turned to see Healer Sinclair entering the room. Mrs Weasley plastered a smile on her face, but Ginny didn’t bother. The healer pulled up a chair near Ginny and sat down.

She looked between mother and daughter. “It sounds like you are starting to talk out your differences.”

“No,” Ginny replied angrily. “She is just telling me that she has no idea who I’ve been dating and she thinks I look cheap.”

“That’s not exactly what I said, Ginevra.”

“You told me my boyfriend couldn’t be trusted, that I should date one of his closest friends instead and basically I’m too young to know who I want to date.”

Mrs Weasley glared at her daughter, “If I didn’t notice you were dating, maybe you weren’t too serious.”

“You didn’t notice anything!” Ginny raged. “I’ve spent all summer with him. When you were pretending that nothing bad happened to me, he was listening to me. When you were staying in your room, Harry and I were shopping, cooking, and doing laundry.”

Mrs Weasley paled at Ginny’s accusations. Healer Sinclair looked between the two women, “I sense you are rather angry at your mother.”

“I am!” Ginny replied. “She’s always been there and now when I really could have used her she wasn’t there.” Without even realizing it, Ginny was tearing up. “I told you I wanted new bras because the Death Eaters running the school liked vanishing my clothes and mocking me and you didn’t even say anything. Nothing! You just vaguely nodded at me and headed up to your room. Bill took me to France and bought me new bras.”

Mrs Weasley looked down at her hands, tears running down her face. “I didn’t know what to say.”

“You could have said anything,” Ginny replied. “Even if you just say ‘That really sucks.’” Ginny laughed a bit. “That’s what Harry always says when he doesn’t know what else to say. He’s so awkward and he doesn’t know what to say, but he doesn’t leave me. He listens and he loves me. So don’t you dare tell me I’m not old enough to be dating him.”

Mrs Weasley seemed to stop and think about it, “Is that what he does for you?”

Wiping her eyes, Ginny nodded. “He does. He listens to me, Mum. I don’t know what I would have done this summer if it weren’t for him. He listens and he doesn’t judge me. He’s never told me what I’m worrying about is stupid. He and Bill and Fleur listened to my ideas for this school year and helped me refine them. You thought I wasn’t responsible enough to be both Head Girl and Quidditch Captain.

“Do you know how that made me feel, Mum? You and Ron both thought I should let Hermione be Head Girl. Did you say that when Bill or Percy got their Head Boy badges? That you didn’t know if they were responsible enough?”

“What made you say that?” Healer Sinclair asked gently.

Mrs Weasley sighed, “Part of me was so proud of her and I really am very, very proud of her. Both Quidditch Captain and Head Girl — what an honour! Another part of me started thinking how much work that would be and I didn’t want you to bite off more than you can chew.”

“You don’t trust me, do you Mum?” Ginny asked quietly.

“It’s not that simple, Ginny.”

“Is it because of my first year?”

Mrs Weasley caught her breath. She wanted instinctively to deny Ginny’s accusation, but she started to actually think about it. “Maybe it is.”

Ginny looked up in surprise.

Smiling sadly at her daughter, Mrs Weasley said, “Maybe it’s to make up for the fact that I didn’t worry about you before your first year. I knew that you had four older brothers right there for you to turn to if you needed anything. It never occurred to me they wouldn’t have time for you. I saw you writing in that horrible diary and I didn’t know it was dangerous. I don’t know if I ever told you how sorry I was for not protecting you better. I am very sorry, Ginny.”

“It’s okay, Mum,” Ginny said as she hugged her mother. “It’s not something you could have known.” She shrugged, “The boys were prats, but I didn’t try very hard either. But, Mum, I have grown up since then.”

“I know,” Mrs Weasley said with a weak smile. She gently smoothed Ginny’s hair back from her face. “Minerva was so proud of you last year. She kept me as informed as she could. I couldn’t decide if I should be more worried or proud. My baby girl standing up to Death Eaters.”

She shook her head, “I know you are grown up. I really do, but sometimes I just…I’m afraid you won’t need me anymore.”

“Of course I need you, Mum.” Ginny replied in a much gentler voice. “All of us do. That’s what’s been so hard for us. We count on you to be there for us and support us when we need you to do so. We might not need you in the same way, but we still need you.”

She laughed, “You never know, you might be having grandchildren soon. Not from me,” she hastened to add, “but Bill and Fleur — who knows.”

Healer Sinclair smiled at them, “I don’t think you need me here.”

“Thank you,” the two of them replied.

As the healer left, she heard Mrs Weasley ask her daughter, “So tell me about your trip to France.”
That night, Ginny recounted her visit to Harry and George as they worked out in the back garden on Sirius’s old motorbike.

“That’s great!” Harry enthused. “It sounds like maybe she’s ready to start listening.”

George shook his head, “I still can’t believe she didn’t know about you and boy wonder here. I mean, come on you’ve been all over each other all summer.”

Not bothering to respond verbally, Harry threw one of the cleaning cloths at him.

Ginny shrugged. “At least I have someone to be all over.”

Harry laughed as George stuck out his tongue as his sister. He looked over at his fiancée, who nodded.

“George,” Harry began. “Ginny and I are hoping to have some friends over next week, in between our birthdays. Neither of us feels it’s really appropriate to have a huge party, but we want to have our friends over.” He looked earnestly at his friend, “We don’t want to offend you. If you don’t want us to have people over, we won’t.”

Looking between Harry and his sister, George appeared to be thinking it over. “Actually, that is a good idea. Who were you thinking of inviting?”

“Hermione, Seamus, Neville, Luna and Dean,” Harry replied promptly. He looked over at Ginny. “Who else?”

“Demelza and we should really invite all of people in Harry’s Auror class,” Ginny replied.

“Can we invite Lee, Angelina, and Alicia?” George asked. “It would be nice to see people for a reason that’s not sad.”

“That would be great,” Ginny said. She leaned over and kissed George on the cheek.

She watched Harry working with her brother and the thought crossed her mind that maybe they were starting to heal.

Back to index

Chapter 8: Chapter 8 Birthday Celebrations

Author's Notes: Thank you so much for all of the reviews and the Silver Trinket nominations. I so appreciate it :) Thank you to my beta StephanieO for all of her hard work !

Harry woke on the morning of his birthday to the warm caresses of his fiancée. He kept his eyes closed for a few moments enjoying the feel of her soft hands against his chest. By the time he opened his eyes, Ginny was leaning over him, her hair creating a crimson curtain. He smiled up at her, thinking that this was his idea of a perfect morning. Pulling her down gently, he kissed her deeply.

The morning was spent making love and generally enjoying each other’s company. Harry was cuddling with his girl when he heard the sound of feet pounding down the stairs. Looking over, he realized that it was 9:30 in the morning.

“I guess we should get up,” he said without much conviction in his voice.

“I don’t want to,” she replied. “I wish we were already married with our own house. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“Soon, baby,” Harry replied. He sat up and stretched before getting out of bed. Moving around the room he pulled on some clothes.

Ginny reluctantly got up and pulled on her dressing gown. “I’m going to take a shower. I’ll be downstairs soon.”

He kissed her before headed down. He found Ron, George, and Charlie watching Fleur working at the stove.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Happy Birthday!” the brothers all called out.

Fleur turned around and smiled at him, “Happy birthday, Harry. I hope you don’t mind I am making you breakfast.”

He smiled easily and returned her hug. “Thank you, Fleur. What are you making?”

“I am making some fruit crepes with some of the syrup Ginny made,” Fleur replied. She looked over at her brothers-in-law. “Don’t worry I am also making eggs and bacon.”

Harry bit back a laugh at the look of relief on Ron’s face. He knew that Ron liked his food, but he was surprisingly hesitant to try new foods. “Thanks, Fleur. That sounds great.”

By the time Ginny joined them, Fleur had just set a platter of crepes on the table.

“Oh, these look lovely,” Ginny said as she helped herself to one of them.

After seeing his siblings enjoy them, Ron decided to try them as well. Harry bit back a laugh as Ron’s face lit up.

Harry took a bite of his own crepes. “These are brilliant, Fleur.”

“Merci,” Fleur smiled. “I enjoy cooking. I thought you might enjoy a bit of my country.”

“These are great and a great use of the berries,” Ginny said.

Once everyone had eaten their fill, Ron pushed a pile of presents over to his best friend. “Presents, Harry!”

“Thank you,” Harry said with a shy smile as he opened the first present. He found some clothes from Mr and Mrs Weasley; George, Charlie, Bill, and Fleur had bought him a motorcycle jacket; Percy gave him a nice quill; Ron gave him a selection of chocolate; and Hermione sent him a book on the history of magic.

“I’ll give you your present later,” Ginny whispered and she kissed him quickly.

Ignoring the by-play, George turned to Harry. “So what is the plan for the day?”

“I don’t know,” Harry shrugged.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “None of that, we are doing something fun. I know your dreadful relatives never did anything fun for your birthday. What was something your horrid cousin got to do for his birthday that you wanted to do?”

Harry looked down at the table for a minute thinking about all of Dudley’s extravagant birthday outings. While Harry hadn’t gone with them, Dudley would always brag about how much fun they’d had. His eyes lit up. “I know, let’s go miniature golfing.”

“What’s that?” Charlie asked. “I’ve heard of golf, but can’t remember exactly what it is.”

“Well, real golf is hitting a little ball into a hole, but mini golf is supposed to be really fun. They have all kinds of fun things you have to hit the ball around. Dudley went to one that was dinosaur themed.”

“That sounds like fun,” Ginny said after she finished up her crepe. She turned to her brother. “Is Hermione joining us?”

“She should be here soon,” Ron said.

“So where do you find these golf places?” George asked.

Harry seemed momentarily stymied. “I know where they are in Surrey, but I don’t know where they are around here.”

“Do you want to go to Surrey?” Ginny asked.

Harry thought it over. He knew where the mini golf place was in Surrey and it had always sounded so cool. “Sure, why not?” He looked over at Fleur who had joined them at the table. “Are you coming with us?”

“Me?” she looked a bit surprised. She looked around the table. “Is it okay if I come with you?”

“Of course,” Ginny said promptly. “You’re a Weasley now.”

Fleur smiled, “Well, thank you. I would like to come with you. Let me go home and change, I will be back soon.”

As Fleur left, Harry said, “I’m going to shower and change. I’ll be back.”

It was just after eleven when everyone was ready to go. They’d decided to Apparate to Mrs Figg’s back garden and walk to the train station. Harry Apparated Ginny while the others Apparated on their own. Harry felt badly that he was actually relieved Mrs Figg wasn’t home. He liked her, but he did get tired of looking at cat pictures.

He led the way down the alley to Magnolia Crescent and out towards Magnolia Road. The train station was down at the end of Magnolia Rd, past the park towards the edge of town.

“Where is your relatives’ house?” Ginny asked softly as they walked.

“Back that way,” Harry shrugged. He gestured to the park. “This is where I would come to get away from my cousin.”

Accepting the change in topic, Ginny let Harry give them an abbreviated tour of Little Whinging. They didn’t have to wait long for the train and within thirty minutes they were standing outside the Jurassic Encounter Miniature Golf. Harry smiled as he looked up at the signs. It looked even more fun than he remembered. If the expressions on the faces of the Weasleys were anything to go by, they all thought it looked fun as well.

Harry paid for everyone and helped them all pick out the appropriate clubs. He handed Hermione the ticket and a pencil to keep track of their scores.

“I trust you the most,” he said with a smile. He gestured towards the Weasleys with a smile. “They are a little bit competitive and I don’t trust them not to cheat a little.”

“I heard that, Potter!” Charlie called. “I’m going to remember that.”

Hermione just laughed and took the proffered items. She gestured to the practice area. “Does anyone want to practice?”

“How hard can it be to hit a little ball?” Ron scoffed.

The other Weasleys shrugged and headed off to the first hole. Ron soon found out how hard it could be to hit the little ball as everyone took at least four swings to get the ball in the first hole. Ron’s ears reddened at first, but when everyone else did as badly as he did, he relaxed a bit.

The golf course had waterfalls, fun traps, caves, and of course dinosaurs. Charlie was a bit disparaging of the dinosaurs, insisting that any of his dragons could take even the T-Rex, but they were all enthralled by the large animatronic dinosaurs spread throughout the course.

“These are so cool!” Ginny enthused as they walked past a trio of Velociraptors.

“They are,” Harry agreed. “I don’t think they were here when Dudley came here. He wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to tell me how they’d eat me or something.”

Ginny tamped down her anger at his cousin’s casual cruelty and kissed him. “I think he would make for a more substantial meal.”

Harry laughed and draped his arm around her shoulder as he watched Ron take his shot. It took him three tries to get the ball into the hole and his brothers were heckling the entire time. To Harry’s relief, Ron took the teasing in stride and gave as good as he got.

“George, you cheated!” Hermione said in astonishment. “You can’t just pick up the ball and drop it in the hole.”

“Why not?” George asked as his siblings dissolved into laughter. “I obviously wasn’t going to get very far. I’d already hit the ball like seven or eight times.”

“Seven or eight? Didn’t you read the rules posted at the beginning of the course?” Hermione scolded. “You only have six attempts per hole.” She turned to glare at Charlie who’d started laughing even harder. “Do not make any crude comments!”

George finally broke and started laughing. “Why would I read the rules when you’re here?”

Hermione shook her head, but she had a smile on her face. “Honestly, if you lot would bother to read the rules it would make life so much easier.”

“But you just interpret the rules so much better than we do,” Harry teased. Hermione rolled her eyes as the group moved on the next hole.

They were standing next to a large waterfall when Ron shoved Harry through the water. Harry of course retaliated and soon the two boys were tussling in the waterfall like a pair of children. Not to be left out, Charlie and George joined in.

Hermione shook her head as she watched them. “We’ve come with a bunch of toddlers.”

Ginny laughed, “Yes, but we are the ones that chose to come with them so what does that say about us? Besides, I haven’t heard George laugh like this in a long time.”

“Oui,” Fleur said. “Besides, how often do you see Harry playing like this?”

“That’s true,” Hermione admitted with a fond smile.

Once the boys were properly soaked, they re-joined the girls with huge smiles on their faces. Harry went to put his arm back around Ginny and she backed away.

“No, I would like to stay dry,” she said.

Charlie grabbed her from behind, getting as close to her as possible. “What was that, sis? You are feeling a little hot?”

“No, Charlie!” Ginny shrieked playfully.

Charlie laughed and pushed her towards Harry who wrapped his arms around her, effectively soaking her as well. She laughed as she tried to push him away. He simply laughed as refused to let go.

“I would probably let you go for a kiss,” he teased.

Leaning up Ginny kissed him deeply, earning groans from all of her brothers. Harry on the other hand was too busy returning her kiss to pay attention to the others. It wasn’t until Charlie lightly cuffed him on the back of the head that he broke the kiss.

“Enough already,” he groused. “We don’t really want to see that.”

“Don’t look,” the couple said laughingly, but they did stop.

By the time they’d reached the end of the eighteenth hole, they were all laughing and having a great time. Charlie had won with Harry coming in second. To everyone’s surprise, Fleur came in third, just a few points behind Harry.

They left the golf course, after Harry purchased Ginny a t-shirt with a raptor on it.

“Where to now?” she asked.

His eyes lit up, “How about some pizza?”

“That’s a great idea,” she said. They trouped back to the train station and decided to ride into London.

As Harry had predicted, all of the Weasleys loved pizza. Ron and Charlie easily demolished their sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom pizza and ordered a new one. Harry and Ginny shared a pepperoni pizza while Hermione and Fleur shared a ham and pineapple pizza. George sampled a slice of each kind of pizza.

“This stuff is really good,” he said. He looked over at Ron. “We should talk to Percy about opening a pizza place on Diagon Alley.”

“But we can’t cook,” Ron said through a slice of pizza.

“We don’t have to cook,” George explained. “If we find someone who has the interest in cooking, we can be their financial backer like Harry was to us.”

“That’s a great idea,” Harry said. “I’d go in on that with you. I actually own one of the buildings on Diagon Alley. The tenants left and aren’t planning on coming back, that’s how I found out about it. The goblins want to know what to do with it.”

“So how do we find people who want to build a restaurant?” Ron asked sceptically.

“I know,” Harry said. “We can put an ad in the Daily Prophet.”

Hermione watched in astonishment as they started putting an ad together with Harry jotting down ideas on his serviette. “So you’re just going to open a restaurant? Just like that?”

“Why not?” Harry asked. “It could be a lot of fun.”

“I would like to be involved,” Fleur said. “I could help with the design of the restaurant — the layout and décor.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said as he added another note. “It should be someplace fun and kid friendly.”

By the time they’d finished eating they had decided a dragon themed pizza parlour was just what Diagon Alley needed. Charlie helped them come up with names for the different pizzas based on different dragons.

“I have an idea,” Ginny said suddenly. “We should talk to Dean. I bet he could draw some dragon murals on the walls. Charlie can supply the pictures so they can be accurate and Dean could paint them. He was complaining about not having any pocket money.”

Fleur stood up gracefully. “I want to go see Bill. I will see you at home later?”

Everyone agreed and Fleur leaned over to kiss Harry on the cheek. “Happy birthday, mon frère.”

“Thanks, Fleur,” he replied with a smile.

“Should we stop by the house and see Kreacher’s progress?” Ginny asked as they left the pizza parlour.

“Sure,” Harry said. “I haven’t seen him in a while.”

Hermione, George and Charlie, who hadn’t seen Grimmauld Place since Kreacher had started remodelling, were amazed at the difference.

“Harry, this is wonderful,” Hermione said as she stared at the picture of Harry and Sirius in the entryway.

“Isn’t it?” he smiled.

The front hall and staircase gleamed. Kreacher had replaced the dark and dated light fixture with a beautiful sparkling chandelier.

“Kreacher,” Ginny said as the old elf joined them. “It looks wonderful. I love the chandelier.”

“Thank you, Mistress,” Kreacher replied. “Kreacher found this in the attic. Would Master like to see the dining room?”

“Sure,” Harry said easily.

“Harry,” Hermione whispered, “you shouldn’t encourage him to call you Master.”

Harry shrugged. “He’s used to it and he gets upset if he forgets and wants to punish himself.”

Kreacher, ignoring the by play between Harry and Hermione, threw open the doors to the dining room. The dark wooden table gleamed and the glass doors to the china cabinet shone. The walls were painted a light yellow with a cream coloured chair rail. Against one wall, there was now a beautiful tapestry depicting a family of unicorns.

“Did you find this in the attic as well?” Ginny asked as she watched the baby unicorns play.

“Yes, Mistress.” Kreacher replied. “It has been packed away for centuries.”

“Excellent,” Ginny said. “You’ve done a really good job.”

“Thank you, Mistress.”

Harry grinned at the elf. “You’ve made an amazing difference, Kreacher. Did you get my note?”

“Yes, Master,” Kreacher replied. “Your bedroom is complete and the others will be ready by the end of August.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. “We’re going to just look around a bit.”

“As you wish,” Kreacher bowed before gliding out of the room.

George spoke up, “Mate, I didn’t really believe you about Kreacher, but that’s amazing. It’s like he’s a different elf.”

“It’s thanks to Hermione,” Harry said as Hermione blushed.

“It is,” Ron said proudly.

Harry showed the others the newly decorated drawing room before they headed up to his room. He paused outside the door before pushing it open.

Kreacher had removed all of the bikini clad posters from the ceiling, but he’d left the picture of the Marauders on the wall. The walls were painted a rich, deep green with a cream trim. A large gleaming sleigh bed sat against one of the walls with green and gold bed linens.

“Wow,” Harry said as he looked around the room. The cream and gold curtains framed large windows that overlooked Grimmauld Square. He walked around the room, stopping to open the rather bare wardrobe — he only kept a few changes of clothes and one of his Auror robes here.

Next to the bed, Harry noticed a framed picture of Ginny. He smiled as he picked up the frame. It had been taken during the Christmas they spent at Grimmauld Place and was a candid shot of her laughing at someone.

She looked over his arm at the picture. “Oh Merlin, where did he find that?”

“I think it’s cute,” Harry said defending the picture.

Ginny rolled her eyes, but kissed him on the cheek. “It looks wonderful in here.”

“Come on,” Harry said. “I want to check out the third floor. Those are the next rooms he’s cleaning up.”

“Are you sure it’s not too much for him?” Hermione asked as they headed downstairs.

“I don’t think so,” Harry said. “He’s not doing anything else right now and he seems to like restoring the Black house to its former glory.”

“I take it that’s a direct quote,” Ron remarked.

Harry nodded. He opened the door to the room he and Ron had shared. “I was thinking that you could have this room back.”

Ron nodded and Harry continued, “The room next door will be for Seamus.” He looked over at George, “That room there is yours if you want. Kreacher will be getting it ready and even if you decide you don’t want to live here full time, you can at least visit.”

George opened the door to the room Harry gestured towards. It was a decent sized room decorated in rather dark red at the moment. The other room of the floor was a bathroom. Ginny pushed the door open and made a face. “More snakes. Is Kreacher replacing those?”

“Yes,” Harry said. “I asked him to get rid of all of the snakes.”

“I think I’d like to stay here,” George said as he came out of the room Harry had indicated to him. “It’s certainly better than Percy’s flat.”

“Great!” Harry smiled. “I’ll let Kreacher know. If you two want anything in particular in your rooms, let me know and I’ll ask him to find it. Seamus already asked for a green room.”

“I want orange,” Ron said as the others groaned.

“Sure,” Harry said with a smile. “I thought that’s what you’d pick.”

“I want red and gold,” George said, “might as well go with a Gryffindor theme.”

“Excellent,” Harry said.

“I’ll go and tell Kreacher,” Ginny said. Harry and the others headed to the drawing room while Ginny went downstairs.

“It really looks like a home now,” Hermione said. “Oh, he got the tapestry off the wall. It really does look great here.”

“Kreacher found the notes or whatever from the elf who lived here when the house was built and he’s trying to find some what he calls ‘period pieces.’” Harry explained. “I don’t know exactly what that means, but Ginny says it’s good.”

At that moment, Ginny returned from the kitchen. “Okay, I talked to Kreacher.” She smiled over at Harry. “Do you want to head back to the Burrow? I thought we could go swimming this afternoon.”

“Sure,” Harry replied with a smile.

Harry enjoyed the afternoon with Hermione and the Weasleys. They swam in the Otter River and goofed around. Harry thought there was going to be a moment when Ron first saw Ginny in her new bikini, but thankfully Hermione was around to distract him.

Harry more than enjoyed Ginny’s new green bikini. It wasn’t as skimpy as some of those they’d seen in France, but he thought it looked brilliant on her. He managed to steal a few kisses from her throughout the afternoon.

By early evening, they were back inside for the dinner Fleur had prepared for them. They were joined by Mr Weasley, Percy, and Bill.

“Thanks, Fleur,” Harry said as he helped himself to some shepherd’s pie. “This is great.”

“Merci,” Fleur replied. “I have been practicing from Mrs Weasley’s recipes.”

“And doing a wonderful job,” Bill added as he kissed his wife on the cheek.

Mr Weasley listened intently to his children talk about the miniature golfing.

“It was so much fun, Dad,” Ginny said. “You should come with us next time, you’d love it. They had replicas of dinosaurs and they moved and everything.”

“Well, that just sounds fascinating,” Mr Weasley said with a fond smile. He looked over at Harry. “It sounds like you had a great birthday.”

“I did,” Harry said with a smile. “It’s been so much fun.”

“They didn’t tell you the best part,” George said. He enthusiastically told his father about the pizza parlour idea. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“That is actually a good idea,” Percy said sounding slightly surprised. “You would hire people to work and manage the restaurant?”

George nodded, “We would be the owners/investors. I’m sure there’s someone out there who would like to run that kind of restaurant.”

Percy nodded thoughtfully. “I will help you put together an ad for the paper.”

Once everyone was finished eating, Bill sent all of the dishes to the sink to be washed. Fleur pulled out a cake. “I didn’t know what kind you liked best, so I made a carrot cake. I hope that is okay. It is one of my father’s favourites so I have made it a lot.”

“No, this is great,” Harry said. “I’ve really only had a few birthday cakes ever made for me so I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.”

After cake, Harry and Ginny went for a walk in the garden. He smiled over at her as they headed for her favourite tree. “Thank you for today. This has been my best birthday, ever.”

She leaned over and kissed him. “Good. That’s what I was hoping for.”

He laughed, “You know anything with you is the best ever so you didn’t need to go to so much trouble.”

Ignoring that comment, Ginny reached into her pocket and handed Harry a beautifully wrapped present. “Happy birthday, my love.”

He smiled happily at her as he carefully opened the present. It was a double picture frame with the words ‘true love’ engraved on it. The pictures Ginny had chosen were both from their trip to Paris. One was of Ginny standing on the platform of the Eiffel Tower. It had been taken at night and the city was lit up behind her. The second picture was of the two of them. Fleur had taken it in the Tuilleries gardens.

“Oh, baby, this is beautiful,” Harry said. His hand shook a little as he traced the engraved words. “Thank you, so much.”

Back to index

Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Birthday Celebrations part 2

Author's Notes: Sorry, as I was reading over Chapter 8, I realized that I had only posted half of the chapter. Oops here is the rest.

Harry gripped Ginny's hand tightly as they headed for Mrs Weasley's room. She smiled over at him, "It will be okay, love."

"I know," Harry replied. "I think I'm just a little nervous after…"

"After she tried to make someone else my boyfriend?" Ginny teased gently.

He nodded. She stopped short in the hall, pulling him to a stop as well. "I love you and she loves you, she just needs time to adjust to new ideas."

"Good morning, Ginny."

Turning around, Ginny saw Healer Sinclair. "Good morning."

"Is this your boyfriend?"

"Yes, this is my boyfriend, Harry. Harry, this is Healer Sinclair, she's been taking care of my mum."

Harry noticed Healer Sinclair's eyes flick up to his forehead, but she didn't comment on that. "It is nice to meet you, Harry. Mrs Weasley has been looking forward to talking to you."

The healer said goodbye as they reached Mrs Weasley's room. Ginny knocked on the door.

"Come in, dears." Mrs Weasley smiled at the young couple as they entered. She hugged her daughter and held out her arms to Harry. He hugged her briefly before sitting in the chair next to Ginny.

"Harry, I would like to thank you for all of your help over this whole summer. Ginny, Bill, and Arthur have all been singing your praises."

Harry blushed as his girlfriend smiled at him proudly. "I was glad I could help. You and your family have done so much for me."

Mrs Weasley beamed. "We have always been happy to have you. So tell me how is Auror training going?"

"I really like it so far," Harry replied. "I'm working part time. We've done a little of everything — helped at Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, we've taken classes and helped with the trials. There are six people in my class and we all get along well."

Mrs Weasley nodded. "I've seen your picture in the paper with several different witches so far this summer."


"No Ginny, I would like to hear what he has to say."

Harry squeezed Ginny's hand. "I can't help them taking my picture, Mrs Weasley. I love your daughter and I would never do anything to hurt her. She knows that and the pictures are really more of a nuisance than anything else. They crop the pictures to show what they want."

Mrs Weasley nodded, but Harry couldn't tell if she was satisfied with his answer or not. She continued. "You will be in London for most of the next year, how do you plan on maintaining a relationship?"

Glancing over at his fiancée, Harry could see she was getting angrier. "We will write back and forth and I plan on visiting her whenever possible. Plus I will be taking History of Magic at Hogwarts — I will see her at least once a week. This isn't just a fling or some summer romance."

To his relief, Mrs Weasley seemed satisfied with his answer. "Please just be careful. I don't want you rushing into anything."

She turned to her daughter. "So tell me what you have planned for your birthday."

While Harry could tell she was still a bit upset with her mother, Ginny started talking and Harry mostly listened. He was happy that Mrs Weasley seemed to at least accept their relationship. She wasn't as happy for them as Bill and Fleur or Mr Weasley, but she didn't come out and say she didn't think they should date.

Harry finished his third circuit around the Burrow and smiled at his fiancée as she finished next to him. In the garden, Ginny cooled down while Harry finished his work out with a series of push ups and sit ups.

As Harry sat up for the last time, he grinned over at Ginny. "You kept up really well."

"I did," Ginny said proudly. She leaned over and kissed him. "Come on, I'm hungry."

Laughingly he got up and followed her. "I certainly wouldn't want to get between a Weasley and their food."

She playfully shoved him. "Behave."

He opened the cold cupboard and pulled out some bacon. "No eggs."

Ginny made a face, "Okay. You have to come with me. I hate getting eggs by myself."

"Okay," Harry said with a bit of confusion. He grabbed a basket and followed her. "I've seen you get eggs plenty of times."

"I know, my mum always used to send me to gather eggs while the boys had to de-gnome the garden. I think it was her idea of gender appropriate jobs, but I've always hated it. Once when I was little, the rooster chased me out of the yard. I must have been pretty little because it seemed to me that he was half as big as me."

Harry smiled at the thought of a little Ginny being chased by a rooster. His smile was wiped away by her next statement.

"After my first year, it got worse. Every time I saw the rooster I could see me strangling Hagrid's roosters. I felt so incredibly guilty. I know a few times I just sat out in the yard and cried. It's gotten much better, but I still don't like coming out here by myself."

Ginny reached out to push open the gate to the chicken coop and Harry put his hand down over hers. He lifted her hand and kissed her palm. "You don't have to come out here by yourself anymore."

She smiled up at him. "Thank you."

Together they gathered eggs and by the end, Ginny was laughing as Harry pretended to be attacked by the chickens. They feed and watered the chickens together. Ginny talked Harry through the spell to clean the floor and he cleaned the floor while she spread a new layer of pine shavings.

"There," she said looking around in satisfaction. "That looks so much better. It's needed to be done for a while, but I didn't want to come out here by myself."

They picked up their baskets and headed back to the house. Ginny said, "When we were little, Mum would make us clean up out there without any magic. That was awful."

Harry laughed as he washed up. "I am so glad the Dursleys never thought to keep chickens. I am sure my aunt would have had me sleeping out there with them. Aunt Marge's bloody dog was bad enough. Luckily Aunt Petunia hated animals so I never had to take care of any animals."

Within a short period of time Harry had eggs and bacon frying while Ginny was making toast. Mr Weasley soon joined the young couple in the kitchen.

"Good morning."

"Good morning, Dad." Ginny leaned over and kissed her father on the cheek. She automatically began making a plate for him.

"Thank you, dear." Mr Weasley smiled at his daughter. Picking up a slice of bacon, he asked, "What time do you expect people to start arriving?"

"Four," Ginny said. "We're going to go visit Teddy this morning, then start getting ready. The house is pretty clean and Charlie promised he'd finish picking up the sitting room. George and Ron are going to de-gnome the garden."

"Very good," Mr Weasley said. "I'll plan to be back before four. I'm going to visit your mother this morning and I'll be going into the Ministry for a short time. If you need anything, please let me know."

"Can you bring some ice cream home?" Ginny asked.

"Of course," he replied. "What else are you having to eat?" He looked over at Harry. "I understand you are cooking on that…what did you call it? Barbe?"

Harry laughed, "A Bar-be-que, yes. I thought I'd cook some burgers and sausages. Fleur is going to make some potato salad and Hermione is bringing some scotch eggs. It should be fun."

"Excellent," Mr Weasley looked pleased. "You two have fun today and I'll see you this afternoon. If you think of anything else you need, leave me a message at the Ministry."

After spending the morning with Teddy, Harry and Ginny returned to the Burrow to find her brothers already cleaning. Hermione arrived soon after Harry and Ginny returned.

She handed Harry a large tray. "These are the scotch eggs from my Mum. What can I do?"

Harry looked around the garden. "Do you want to help decorate a bit? Ginny thought maybe some ribbons and balloons would be nice."

"Sure," Hermione said. She headed off to confer with Ginny. Soon they had the back garden draped in multi-coloured streamers and balloons. Bill conjured up a pergola and strung fairy lights around the structure. Charlie set up tables and chairs while Fleur set the tables. She had small vases of flowers, brightly coloured tablecloths and serviettes for each table.

"It looks great," Ginny enthused to her sister-in-law.

"Merci," Fleur replied with a smile. "This is the part of parties that I always enjoy — the decorating and menu planning. I asked my mother to send some things across for this dinner. My mother is a party planner," she explained to Hermione.

They set up the food on one of the long tables with cooling or warming charms — which ever was appropriate. Fleur showed the two younger girls how to set charms to keep any insects out of the food.

George wandered over to the area where Harry had set up the grill. "So how does this thing work?"

Harry grinned as he showed George how to pile up the charcoal and apply the lighter fluid. "You need to be careful with this as it will cause anything to light up more quickly. I think they have some charcoal now that has the lighter fluid somehow in the charcoal, but I've never used that kind."

"You've cooked on one of these before?" George asked curiously.

"Yes," Harry said. "My uncle had one and he would cook on it sometimes. It's a popular way for Muggles to cook during the summertime. My uncle used to do the cooking himself, but in the last few years he would just light the fire and have me do the cooking." He shrugged. "I didn't mind, if I was cooking I didn't have do to as many other chores."

"Dad is going to go nuts for this," George warned.

Harry laughed, "I know. That's okay."

By four in the afternoon, the guests started arriving. Neville arrived first, quickly followed by Luna and Dean. Susan arrived soon afterwards accompanied by Hannah Abbott.

"You don't mind, do you?" she asked Harry. "Hannah's been staying with me for a while."

"No, of course not," Harry said. "She's more than welcome."

Alicia, Angelina, Katie, and Lee all arrived together. George immediately brightened up when they arrived. Demelza and another of Ginny's roommates, Julia, arrived together. Seamus was the last to arrive.

As early evening rolled around, everyone had eaten and everyone was mingling and having a good time. Bill had piped some music out and a few people were dancing and enjoying the music.

Charlie made his way over to where Harry and Ginny were talking to Ron and Hermione. "This is really nice. I'm glad you did this."

"Percy didn't seem to enjoy it much," Ginny said sounding a bit disappointed. "He disappeared into the house as soon as he finished eating."

"He's a prat," Ron said. "What do you expect? He doesn't like having fun."

"Ron!" Hermione scolded.

"He's right," Charlie said. "Percy doesn't like having fun."

Hermione shook her head, but didn't comment. Instead she asked, "How is Teddy?"

Harry brightened up. "He's great. He's so cute and playful. Andromeda says he's sleeping through the night now."

"I just realized who Teddy's mum was," Charlie said.

"Did you know her?" Harry asked eagerly.

"She was in my year at Hogwarts," Charlie said. "She was in Hufflepuff so we had some classes together. I didn't really know her well, just kind of to say hi — that sort of thing. She was into Defence and I was into Quidditch and dragons. We only had a few classes together our last few years. One of my friends had a huge crush on her though. He was going to take Defence just to be near her, but he changed his mind."

Harry looked at Charlie strangely. "Wait, does that mean you didn't take Defence?"

"Not after my OWLs," Charlie said.

Ginny started laughing at the look on her boyfriend's face. "I think you broke him, Charlie."

"I just can't imagine not taking Defence," Harry said.

Charlie shrugged. "It was a different time. It was after the first war and before the second war, so didn't really seem that important. Plus we never really had a good teacher so I didn't bother."

Shaking his head, Harry said, "That just seems so strange. I think everyone in our year took Defence."

"Most of them did," Hermione agreed. "I think there were a few people in Hufflepuff and a few in Slytherin who didn't continue with Defence, but all of the Gryffindors and all of the Ravenclaws continued on with it."

"I had to brush up on a lot of skills when I joined the Order," Charlie said. "I should have kept up with Defence, but when I was in school I just wasn't interested."

Seamus ambled over to join the group, butterbeer in hand. "It's too bad Terry and Michael couldn't make it."

"They already had plans," Harry said, "some family thing or something."

"They both had a family thing?" Hermione asked.

"It's Michael's family," Harry explained. "I guess Terry is seeing Michael's sister."

"Really?" Ginny asked. "Charlotte? Terry's had a crush on her forever."

"I think so," Harry said glancing at Seamus. Seamus nodded, "Charlotte, yes."

"I don't remember her," Hermione said. She asked Ginny "Is she in your year?"

"No," Ginny said. "She's not magical. Michael's dad was killed before Michael was born and when his mum remarried, his step-father was a Muggle. None of Michael's siblings are magical."

Ron who had wandered over to the refreshment table came back with a tray of drinks. "Here, try the punch."

Harry took a sip and felt a burn as he swallowed. Hermione started sputtering as soon as she took a drink.

"Ronald, is this spiked?"

Ron shrugged unconcernedly. "I don't know, maybe. George just added something."

"And you just drank it?" Hermione practically shrieked. "He can't do that."

"Calm down," Ginny said. "It's just a little Firewhiskey. Everyone here is over age."

"You're not," Hermione said.

Ginny rolled her eyes, "I will be in three days."

"I don't know," Hermione said as she looked over at the table.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the punch. Ron said, "Don't worry about it Hermione. It will be fine."

Harry pulled Ginny away, "I don't particularly want to hear them bickering."

Ginny's eyes lit up as she pulled him to a more secluded part of the garden. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him down for a heated kiss. They lost themselves in the sensation of being in each other's arms. A loud bang caused them to stop and look around. Ginny lay her head against Harry's chest as she watched her brother shoot off fireworks for the first time in over a year.

Harry pulled her over to one of the benches and wandered over to the table to grab some more punch. He laughed when he saw Hermione. She seemed to have overcome her aversion to the Firewhiskey because he could tell how much she'd had by the way she was laughing and hanging all over Ron. He also seemed to have been drinking quite steadily as he was laughing and talking quite loudly. Harry laughed when he saw Bill point a wand at his brother and quiet him down.

"How did you do that?" Harry asked.

Bill shrugged. "It's a partial silencing charm. Mum used to use it if one of us was really fussy. It lets you still hear the baby crying, but it doesn't wake up the other kids. I thought it was appropriate for him right now."

He looked around. "Fleur and I are heading home. Dad and Percy are inside if anyone gets out of control." He laughed as he watched Charlie dancing a bit too enthusiastically with Alicia. "He won't be of much help."

"This was a great idea, though," Bill said. "I haven't seen George having this much fun since last summer."

The two fell silent for a moment as they watched him talking to Lee and Angelina.

"I'm glad," Harry said. "I can't imagine how he feels, but if there's anything we can do to help him…Did you hear he's going to be moving into Grimmauld Place with us?"

"Brilliant," Bill replied. "He needs to be around you guys. He really looks up to you, you know."

"What?" Harry looked thunderstruck.

Bill laughed. "You've handled everything that's been thrown at you with a grace that most of us couldn't hope to achieve."

Blushing, Harry mumbled, "I don't know about that."

Shaking his head, Bill drew Harry into a hug. "Go back to my sister and have fun tonight. Let her know I'm taking Demelza and Julia home for her."

Harry went back to Ginny with the punch and listened to Luna explaining her father's plans for the autumn. "The Healers have recommended he go to a warmer climate for his health. He's been…listless after Azkaban. He's going to go to Egypt and search for the Speckled Fire Scorpion."

By this time, Ron and Hermione had joined the group. Hermione rolled her eyes. "The Speckled Fire Scorpion? I've never heard of those before."

Luna shrugged, "I imagine they've never heard of you either."

As the rest of the group burst out laughing, Luna continued. "I was telling Bill about my father's plans. He gave me the names of some guides my father can contact once he gets to Egypt."

Luna stood and drifted over to the dessert table with Dean following her. Hermione shook her head. "Why would Bill encourage her?"

"Bill always had a bit of a soft spot for Luna," Ginny spoke up. "Luna's Mum, Selene, used to babysit for Bill and Charlie when they were little. If Mum felt like she needed to concentrate on the younger kids, Selene would watch Bill and Charlie. That's how I first met Luna. Even once they started at Hogwarts, they would go over and help her out doing chores that kind of thing."

"Really?" Hermione looked surprised.

"Selene was a lot of fun," George spoke up. "She would play games with us and teach us all kinds of silly things. We'd hunt for dust bunnies and search for all sorts of invisible animals. In the evening we'd hunt for fairies and put them in glass jars. If you're nice to them, they will light up the jar all night. I guess that's where Luna gets it."

"A fairy hunt!" Ginny exclaimed. "We should have a fairy hunt."

"I don't know," Hermione started. But everyone else thought it was a great idea. Charlie unearthed some glass jars from the shed and soon everyone was spread out over the garden searching for fairies. Harry and Ginny managed to catch two pixies. Harry laughed as they posed and postured in the jar. Ginny found some honey for them to eat.

As they headed back closer to the house, Harry could see Charlie had lit a bonfire and someone had arranged the benches around it. By this time more of the guests had left including Neville, Susan, and Hannah. Dean and Luna had decided to walk back to her house. Harry could tell by the look on Dean's face, he was looking forward to a bit of private time with his girlfriend.

He bumped Ginny's arm. "Seamus sure is putting the moves on Katie."

"He's had a crush on her forever," Ginny said.

"How do you know all this stuff?" Harry asked as he finished another cup of punch.

She laughed, "I don't know. I hear a lot of things."

Harry handed her another cup of punch. "You look so beautiful tonight."

When she laughed, he asked, "What don't you believe me?"

"I think you might be a bit pissed."

Harry shrugged, "Maybe a little, but you're still beautiful."

Giggling, Ginny rewarded him with a kiss. She looked around at the group still left by the fire. Katie and Seamus were flirting outrageously on one bench while George, Charlie, Lee, Angelina, and Alicia were talking and laughing on two other benches. Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be seen.

"I don't think they'd notice if we slipped away," Ginny whispered. Harry quickly agreed and the two made their way up to Harry's room.

Back to index

Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Coming of Age

Author's Notes: Thanks to my beta StephanieO!

Sitting down in the sand, Harry pulled Teddy in front of him so the baby was sitting up against him. He steadied the boy with a hand to his stomach. Teddy squealed as the water swirled up around them.

"You like the water, Teddy?" Harry smiled down at the baby.

Teddy reached into the wet sand and squished the sand between his fingers, holding a sloppy hand up to his godfather.

"That's sand," Harry said as he wiped the sand off the baby's hand.

Harry lifted the little boy and turned him around so he was facing Harry. Setting him on his feet, Harry held the boy around the middle and let him move his feet in the sand.

"He looks like he's having fun," Ginny remarked as she joined them in the sand.

"I think he is," Harry said as he passed the baby over to his fiancée. Ginny lifted the baby high over her head and brought him down blowing raspberries on his stomach. Teddy shrieked in laughter. Harry smiled as he watched the two of them play.

"Do you want to go out into the water?" Harry asked.

Ginny nodded as she stood up and handed him the baby. Harry held Teddy up high in his arms and discreetly cast a shield charm that would prevent the water from splashing the baby in the face.

The three of them walked out into the water until Harry was waist deep in the water. Teddy's feet were dangling in the water and he kept making faces as water lapped around his feet. Harry and Ginny were laughing at Teddy's expressions.

Looking around, Harry couldn't help but smile. The three of them were spending the day at Carbis Bay on the north western side of Cornwall. The beach was rather secluded and very beautiful with beautiful blue-green water.

"Teddy, look," Harry said pointing to the horizon, "boats."

Teddy babbled at him and Harry laughed, "That's right boats. Aren't they pretty?"

When the baby babbled again, Harry couldn't help but smile at his adorable godson. "Well, of course, Ginny is much prettier, but Ginny is prettier than everybody, right?"

"Harry," Ginny protested laughing. He shrugged. "Well that's what he would be saying if he could talk."

She shook her head as Harry lifted the baby over his head and lowered him so they were at eye level. Teddy laughed and patted his godfather's cheeks. He tried to change his eyes to match his godfather's, but they ended up more of a hazel than truly green. Harry kissed the boy on the cheek.

After playing in the water for a while, the three headed back to the beach. They sat down on the blue polka dotted beach towels they'd left on the sand. Harry quickly changed Teddy's nappy and discretely vanished it.

He lay down on his side with Teddy lying down next to him. Handing Teddy his bottle, he let the baby hold his own bottle. Ginny lay down on Teddy's other side so they were on either side of him. The teens just watched him as he drank his bottle and fell asleep.

"He is so sweet," Ginny said as Harry put the bottle away and covered him up with a small blue blanket.

"I know," Harry replied as he stared at the boy. "I just love spending time around him."

Ginny smiled as she watched her boyfriend watch the sleeping baby. She pulled two bottles of water from her bag and handed one to Harry. He smiled over at her. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." She stretched and closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun. "It is so nice here."

He nodded a bit dumbly as he watched her. At times it still took his breath away how beautiful she was. He'd watched her on the beach earlier. Several guys had tried hitting on her, but she didn't pay any attention to them. It kind of surprised him that he wasn't really jealous of the other guys that talked to her and flirted with her. He didn't know how to describe it exactly, but he knew she loved him and somehow that made all the difference.

She opened her eyes and smiled at him. "So did you have fun at our party?"

He nodded. "It was great. I still keep seeing everyone moaning at breakfast the next morning. Seamus was so funny — complaining how much he hadn't missed listening to Ron snore."

Ginny giggled, "I don't think Hermione and Katie even realized they were sharing a room."

"What about Alicia and Angelina sleeping on the sitting room floor?" Harry laughed. "Your poor dad was so embarrassed when he found them. I heard him yelling at Charlie. No one even slept in Charlie's room. He slept in Ron's room thinking the girls would sleep in his room."

"Except no one told them," Ginny laughed. "Lee and George ended up in Bill's room, but at least George found a camp bed for Lee to sleep on."

She rolled over on her side and propped herself up on one elbow. "Did Hermione say anything to you?"

He shook his head. "No, why?"

"I don't know," Ginny said. "She and Ron were just acting strange. I don't know."

Harry shrugged. "I thought they'd get along better once they started dating, but they still tend to argue quite a bit."

"I think they like arguing," Ginny said. She leaned over and kissed him. "I don't."

"Good," Harry laughed, "because I don't either."

It was early afternoon when the three left the beach. Harry and Ginny dropped the baby off with his grandmother and great-aunt before heading back to the Burrow.

"I think I'll go up and take a shower," Ginny said after she emptied her bag and put the towels in the laundry basket.

Harry moved up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tightly back against him. He started raining open mouthed kisses down her neck. Ginny moaned slightly and leaned back against him, enjoying the feel of his body against hers.

She reached back with her left arm threaded her hand through his hair. When he lifted his head, she turned hers to capture his lips in a rather passionate kiss. The warmth of his body and the feel of his lips on her were rather intoxicating.

After pulling away slightly, Harry said, "I think you'll probably need some help in the shower."

Ginny's eyes widened as she looked up at him. They were alone in the Burrow and it was something she'd thought about before, but it wasn't something they'd ever tried. A vision of him soaping her up flashed through her head and she nodded. "I think you're right."

His eyes took on a look she found hard to identify, but it was rather exciting. He didn't say anything, but Apparated them to the bathroom. Ginny turned on the shower, adjusting the water before turning back to her fiancé. He'd already undressed and was obviously waiting for her.

A bit shyly she shimmied out of her bikini and stepped into the shower. He quickly followed. Leaning down he kissed her deeply and at the same time he backed her up slightly so the water was hitting her body. He broke the kiss and for a moment he simply looked down at her. "You are so beautiful."

She smiled up at him. "Thank you." She ran her hands up his arms. "I think you are incredibly gorgeous."

He blushed. "I don't think so, but I'm not going to argue with you."

Laughing, she picked up her shampoo bottle. She suddenly felt a bit awkward, not exactly sure what to do. He took the bottle away from her and poured a small amount in his hand.

She laughed a bit nervously. "If you're washing my hair, you'll need a bit more shampoo than that."

He blushed a bit. "I guess it would make sense you would use more than me."

She got her hair wet and turned her back to him. He dropped another quick kiss on her neck before turning his attention to her hair. With much laughter and a bit of instruction, he was able to wash her hair for her. Running his fingers through her hands reverently, he made sure the soap was out of her hair.

"I love your hair," he said. "There are so many colours in it."

She smiled over her shoulder at him and turned around a bit shyly. Harry had already picked up the soap and was lathering up his hands. Very gently, he cleaned and teased her. She delighted in returning the favour, teasing and touching him. As their teasing became more passionate, Harry's foot slipped and he almost fell.

He laughed a little and said, "I think we should move this to my room."

Reaching over, he turned off the water and he quickly dried off and took a bit more time in drying her off. He kissed her deeply before lifting her up and carrying her to his room.

It was almost three in the afternoon before Harry roused again. He lifted his head and glanced at the clock. Glancing down at his sleeping girlfriend, he hated to wake her, but he knew it wouldn't be good if they were caught.

"Sweetie," he said, shaking her shoulder gently.

Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at him. He smiled down at her. "I think it's time to get up."

She momentarily snuggled in closer to him. "I don't want to get up."

"That makes it a bit difficult to celebrate your birthday," Harry said with a smile.

He knew she was excited about her birthday dinner. They planned to have dinner out at a rather new restaurant in London with the whole family. Molly had received permission to leave the hospital for the evening and was looking forward to seeing everyone.

"I've been having a great time celebrating my birthday," Ginny said as she planted a kiss on his chest. Turning her head, she rested her head against his chest. She ran her left hand down his arm before lacing her fingers through his.

He smiled and lifted their intertwined hands, kissing hers. "I love you."

"I love you too."

Harry stood in the door of the kitchen enjoying the scene playing out before him. Ginny had climbed up on the kitchen counter and was stretching up to put away a rather large platter.

"I don't think your mother would approve," he remarked with a laugh as she clambered down.

"Probably not," she agreed. "I think it's Ron's fault"

Harry raised an eyebrow. "It was Ron's fault you were climbing on the counter. He's not even here."

She nodded. "He's older than me and you might have noticed he is way too tall and I am not. I think he stole all the height and didn't leave any left over for me."

He started laughing. "I don't think that's really how it works, love."

"Do you have a better explanation?" she demanded as she walked past him and kissed him quickly.

"Genetics? Luck?" he offered. At her pout, he laughed. "I'm sorry what was I thinking, of course your explanation makes so much more sense."

He was rewarded with another kiss for his capitulation.

"That's what I said," she said with satisfaction.

"Is now a good time to point out that you are seventeen and you can do magic?" he asked.

He almost laughed at the look on her face. "That's right," she said with a smile. "I can do magic."

Pulling out her wand, she conjured up new kitchen towels and then proceeded to change their colour several times before banishing the lot. "I can't believe I didn't think about that."

Harry laughed. "I still forget sometimes." He shrugged. "Besides, some things are just easier to do the Muggle way."

The sound of the Floo startled both of them. They turned towards the fireplace and Ginny was pleased to see her sister-in-law.

"Hello, Ginny. Happy Birthday!" Fleur said as she made her way over to the couple. She was carrying a white and gold make up case as well as a dress sheathed in plastic. She kissed Ginny on both cheeks before drawing her into a big hug.

"Thanks, Fleur." Ginny returned.

"I was thinking that maybe I could help you get ready," Fleur said with a touch of uncharacteristic nervousness. "I would always help my sister before we went out somewhere."

Ginny smiled up at her sister-in-law, while playing with hair and makeup wasn't exactly her favourite thing to do she thought she and Fleur might have fun. She looked over at Harry who smiled at her.

"You go ahead, love. I'll read the new book I bought."

"Okay." Ginny smiled as she stood to follow the other witch. "Don't forget to get ready yourself."

"I won't," he promised.

When the two witches entered Ginny's bedroom, Fleur said, "Thank you for this. I think you might have some fun as well."

The older witch quickly took charge, seating Ginny in front of the mirror in her room. After carefully hanging her dress up in Ginny's closet, she opened the make-up case on Ginny's desk. Ginny didn't think she'd ever seen so much make up in one place before, she wasn't even entirely sure what all of it was. She shrugged, that's why Fleur was here, right?

Fleur must have seen Ginny's uncertain look for she said, "Don't worry. It won't be all that bad."

She brushed out Ginny's beautiful hair until it shown and with a few waves of her wand had Ginny's hair piled on top of her head in an intricate pattern. Carefully examining her hair, the two decided it was a bit too formal. Ginny found herself having much more fun than she could have imagined trying out different hair styles. The two laughed and talked about the upcoming dinner. Both of them were nervous, but for different reasons.

"I just want your mother to approve of me," Fleur admitted as she curled Ginny's hair. "She's been much more…cordial since Bill and I have been married, but I always sense that I wasn't her first choice of daughter-in-law."

"I've long since given up on understanding my mother," Ginny said. "I know I misjudged you. I thought you were too beautiful and too…I don't know, too girly for Bill, but obviously I was wrong. You are beautiful and girly, but you're also very strong and smart and a lot of fun. I think Mum can see how much you love Bill and that counts for a lot with her. She just needs to see that the two of you do have things in common."

Fleur smiled at the younger girl's image in the mirror. "Merci, I just always feel like she likes Hermione better than she likes me. She's always telling me how smart Hermione is and what a good influence she is on Ron. It always seems to mean that she doesn't think I am a good influence on Bill."

"She's always like that," Ginny dismissed the thought. "Remember during the Tri-Wizard Tournament when Skeeter was going on about how Hermione broke Harry's heart?"

Fleur nodded and Ginny continued, "That Easter Mum sent Hermione a tiny little egg in comparison to all of the rest of ours. It was her way of telling Hermione she didn't approve of her actions. Mum just…she's always very conscious of what other people think and she seems to think others are judging her by our actions." Ginny shrugged. "It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but that's the way she is."

"Is it because I'm part Veela?" Fleur asked.

"I don't know," Ginny said honestly. "She's never said anything bad about Veela or anything."

Fleur smiled. "That's something at least."

"She is upset about the earrings, though," Ginny warned. "She might say something about that."

"That does not bother me," Fleur said. "You are old enough to decide if you want your ears pierced. She doesn't approve of Bill's hair or earring, either."

"I don't think she approves of Harry's either," Ginny said with a conspiratorial grin. Her grin faded as she thought about the upcoming night. She looked up at her sister-in-law. "I'm just afraid that she doesn't really approve of me and Harry. I don't know why."

"Why do you think so?" Fleur asked gently.

Ginny sighed. "When I was little, I had such a crush on Harry. I just fell in love with his story and I made up all kinds of stories about him in my mind - how wonderful he would be and he would always have time for me and he would play what I wanted to play — that kind of thing. It was silly, but at the time, that was what was important to me."

Fleur nodded understandingly and Ginny continued. "My mum…I wouldn't say she encouraged me necessarily, but she never made fun of me like the boys would. Once we all actually met Harry, she still didn't really encourage me, but again she wouldn't let the boys make fun of me. I would talk to her about how wonderful Harry was and she would just smile and tell me that I was young."

Ginny laughed, "I guess she's doing the same thing now."

"Does she realize your feelings are different?" Fleur asked gently.

"What?" Ginny looked up at her.

"Does she realize that you are no longer that little girl with a crush on an almost mythical Harry Potter?" Fleur clarified.

"She should," Ginny said indignantly. "I got over my crush after my first year. I realized that he wasn't the perfect boy I had imagined. He was shy and funny and brave and totally a boy." Ginny laughed. "I was so distressed when I realized he could be a prat just like my brothers, but he never dismissed me like they did. He might smile shyly or kind of wave awkwardly, but he didn't ignore me."

"He is very nice," Fleur agreed.

Ginny nodded. "My mum knew that I still liked him, but it was in a different way. I liked him — the real him. She encouraged me to just be friends with him. I think at first she was afraid that Harry and Hermione would start dating and break my heart and Ron's. Now that Ron and Hermione have started dating…I don't know, she's accepted them and has them practically married in her mind. They aren't anywhere near that, but Harry and I are and she doesn't believe me."

"I wish I knew what to tell you," Fleur said. "My mother was so happy when I told her about Bill. She wasn't as happy that I was leaving France, but she was happy for me and encouraged me to follow my heart."

"That is what I wish my mother was like," Ginny said sadly. "She just wants to keep me that little girl."

"Well you are not," Fleur said with a smile. "You are a beautiful, grown up woman and she will have to learn to like it."

"I like the sound of that," Ginny said happily.

"I heard a rumour that you have decided on a Christmas wedding," Fleur said. "Is that so?"

"Yes," Ginny said with a smile. The two spent the rest of the afternoon talking about weddings and relationships. Fleur even taught Ginny some simple hair styling spells.

Harry read for a while before heading up to his room to change for the dinner. As he passed Ginny's door, he smiled when he heard laughter coming from the room. He was glad that Fleur had become such a good friend to Ginny.

After taking a much shorter and much less fun shower than before, Harry changed into a pair of nice trousers and a green and white shirt that Ginny had picked out for him. He returned downstairs to wait for the girls to come down. Bill joined him shortly before six and the two men waited together.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs caused the two of them to look up. Harry caught his breath as he saw his fiancée. Her hair was pulled back with a pair of decorative combs while her curls fell loose down her back. She was wearing a pretty yellow and cream coloured sundress that was fitted at the waist with a tiered skirt and a pair of cream coloured high heeled sandals.

Harry stared for a minute, unable to say a word. A nudge from Bill caused him to finally say, "You look amazing."

Ginny blushed slightly under his admiring gaze. Harry stepped up next to her and kissed her gently. Keeping his arm around her, he turned to see Bill and Fleur watching them. Bill stepped forward and kissed his sister on the cheek. "Happy Birthday, Ginny."

"Thank you," she said as she hugged him.

"You look very beautiful," he said sincerely. He shook his head. "Where did your braids and scabby knees go?"

She laughed. "Don't start; I can only imagine Mum tonight."

"That's true," he agreed. He looked over at the other two. "I've made arrangements for us to Floo to the…George's shop. We'll walk to the restaurant from there."

Harry and Ginny followed the other couple through the Floo. The work of the other Weasley siblings was evident in the cleanliness of the shop. Some of the shelves had been destroyed, but much of the contents of those destroyed shelves had been salvaged and were boxed up on the floor.

Bill led the way down Diagon Alley past Gringotts. Their destination was a short walk down one of the side alleys to a new restaurant named Merlin's Wand. Mr Weasley had requested a private room for their party. As they entered, Ginny was happy to see that her brothers and Hermione were already there waiting for them.

Mr and Mrs Weasley arrived a few minutes later. Ginny had to grit her teeth when her mother started fussing almost immediately.

"Arthur, this has to be rather expensive. Why don't we just go home and have a nice dinner?"

"No, dear. This is fine," Mr Weasley replied soothingly.

"Are you sure?" Mrs Weasley asked.

"Of course," he replied.

Looking around, he spotted his daughter. "Ginny, don't you look lovely? Happy Birthday, love."

He held out his arms to his daughter who hugged him before turning and hugging her mother. "Hello, Mum."

"Hello, darling. Happy Birthday." Mrs Weasley. She hugged her daughter. "You look…nice."

"Fleur helped me with my hair and makeup this afternoon," Ginny said, correctly interpreting her mother's meaning that she didn't like it.

"You're a bit young to be wearing so much make up," Mrs Weasley declared. Ginny stepped back in fear that her mother was going to produce a handkerchief and start wiping her face.

She glared at her mother, but responding to the pleading in her father's eyes she simply said, "I like it."

As Mrs Weasley greeted each of her other children, Ginny hugged Hermione.

"You look great," Hermione said sincerely.

"Thanks," Ginny replied. She gestured vaguely to her mother. "She's a bit much sometimes."

"She's looking good though," Hermione said as they all sat down at a large round table.

"She does," Ginny said. "It looks like she's gotten a lot of rest. Earlier in the summer she just looked so tired all the time."

Hermione nodded. "So did the two of you have fun at the beach this morning?"

"The three of us, yes," Ginny replied. "Teddy came with us."

"Harry is so good with him," Hermione said in a bit of amazement.

"He is," Ginny said proudly as she smiled at her fiancé.

Conversation swirled around the table. George and Percy were telling their mother about the progress they'd made at the shop. Harry, Ron and Charlie were talking about the prospects for the Quidditch season.

"Ginny," Hermione turned to her friend. "I was thinking of coming into London to go school shopping next Monday. Can you go then?"

Ginny looked over at her father who nodded, so she said, "Sure, that sounds good."

Hermione smiled, "It will be nice to do something normal like school shopping."

"I guess, but you've always liked school shopping more than most of us," Ginny teased gently.

Hermione laughed. "I guess you're right."

"Did your parents get their practice open?"

Hermione nodded. "They did and I've been working in the office — answering phones and making appointments. It's been fun and I really have liked spending time with them. I even saw Justin, did I tell you?"

"No," Ginny said as she looked over the menu. "When did you see him?"

"He came in with his sister who was getting her teeth done," Hermione explained. "He's coming back to Hogwarts as well."

"He's going to be a prefect with you," Ginny said.

"Who is?" Ron interrupted.

"Justin," Hermione replied.

"He's going back to Hogwarts?" Ron asked sounding a bit nettled.

Hermione nodded. "Yes, there are five of us going back. Justin, Dean, Lisa Turpin, Mandy Brocklehurst, and I will comprise what they are calling the eighth years."

"And we'll be in class together too," Harry said with a smile.

"That's true," Hermione said with a smile. "Do you know how that will work?"

Harry nodded, "Dawlish said that Hufflepuff and Slytherin will have the morning class and Gryffindor and Ravenclaw will have the afternoon class. We'll travel via Floo to the Headmaster's office."

"Will you be able to stay or come early?" Ginny asked.

"We'll be allowed to stay to use the library if we wish," Harry explained. "Professor McGonagall told us we can also stay for dinner and the morning class can stay for lunch, so you will probably see all of us at some point in time."

"I still can't believe you took your NEWTs," Hermione complained.

"Not to mention the fact that you did so well," Ginny said admiringly.

"Dawlish said that all of you did well on your Defence NEWTS," Mr Weasley interjected. "He was quite impressed with how all of you did overall."

Harry coloured slightly. "Thanks, it was quite a surprise to all of us. We thought they were some sort of placement tests."

"They didn't want to put too much pressure on you," Mr Weasley explained. "They weren't certain how well any of you would do after the last year and they were very pleasantly surprised."

"That is wonderful," Mrs Weasley said. "How many of you are in your class?"

"There are six of us," Harry replied. "This is the largest Auror class they've had in years. Dawlish said they might be enrolling more students in January, depending on the interest. They've had quite a bit of inquiries from people a few years out of Hogwarts who are interested."

"Shouldn't there be less of a need now?" Mrs Weasley asked in a bit of concern.

"Not really," Harry said. "The Auror corps was heavily depleted in the war and Dawlish said they want to have a higher number of Aurors to prevent any Death Eater wannabes from trying to take over."

Conversation continued to flow throughout dinner. Ginny was enjoying her birthday dinner very much. She was very happy to see her mother looking well rested and interested in what was going on in everyone's lives. George and Percy were telling her mother about their plans for the pizza parlour.

"We already have the building and Perce here has been interviewing managers," George said. "Dean Thomas is coming in next week and he's going to be drawing several murals for us on the walls."

Percy frowned at the sound of his hated nickname, but he didn't object.

"That sounds wonderful," Mrs Weasley said. "How did you find a place in such a short period of time?"

"Harry owns it," George said. "He's renting it to us. We're lucky it was fairly easy to convert to a restaurant."

"That was very nice," Mrs Weasley said with a smile for Harry.

Harry smiled back at her. "I was glad to help. I think it's a great idea and it will really take off. Plus I think it will help bring back Diagon Alley. So many of the businesses had to close or were just abandoned, it's nice to walk by and see new places opening up."

"Very true, lad," Mr Weasley said. "I heard that a Muggle clothing store is opening up in the next week or so. They want to be open for the school shopping crowd."

"Muggle clothing?" Mrs Weasley asked a bit disapprovingly. "Is that really necessary?"

"Mum," Ginny groaned. "Muggle clothing is fun and a lot of kids like wearing it."

"It is more geared towards the children," Mr Weasley hurried to interject.

Mrs Weasley pursed her lips in disapproval, but to Ginny's relief she didn't pursue the topic. The waitress came in to clear their dinner plates and replaced them with clean plates for dessert.

Fleur produced a lovely berry filled sponge cake. Ginny's eyes lit up at the sight of the cake. "Fleur, this is beautiful!"

"Merci," Fleur blushed prettily. "I asked Bill what types of cake he thought you would like and I thought it would be a great way to use some of the berries."

"That's great," Ginny smiled.

Her smile dimmed a bit at her mother's expression. Anger rose up in her; if her mother wanted to make her birthday cake then she shouldn't have been taking so many potions. It wasn't fair to Fleur who had worked hard on her cake. As she watched, her father leaned over and spoke rapidly to her mother. Deciding to ignore them, she smiled at her sister-in-law. The cake was cut and distributed.

"Fleur, this is really good," Harry said after his first bite.

"It really is," Hermione said sounding a bit surprised. "Don't tell my mum I said this, but this is better than hers."

Fleur blushed and smiled her thanks.

Arthur wanted to groan when everyone started complimenting Fleur on the cake. He could see his wife getting more and more upset. Molly had been quite upset at the plan to have Ginny's birthday dinner at a restaurant. Originally she'd wanted to come home and cook a large birthday dinner and cake for her daughter, but Arthur and the healers thought she wasn't ready for that. Ginny had come up with the plan to eat out at the restaurant and Arthur thought it was a good compromise. He didn't want Harry or Fleur making his daughter's birthday dinner because he knew Ginny would end up helping.

Molly had fussed about the cost, but Arthur had finally assured her it would be fine. He wasn't sure she believed him.

When Ginny had excused herself to the loo, Molly had commented on how short her dress was and it wasn't appropriate. He only hoped that she would be able to control her temper until it was just the two of them.

"Mum, do you want some cake?" Ginny asked, her eyes shining.

Molly shrugged. "I guess. It's rather different from the type of cake I normally make."

"I know," Ginny said. "It is different, but it's good. Fleur made a great carrot cake for Harry's birthday."

Arthur quietly ate his cake, wishing there was a way to support his wife without insulting his daughter-in-law. Fleur did make an excellent cake. Arthur thought there was room enough for both types of cakes, but he didn't think Molly would think so.

Once the cake was cleared away, everyone slid a present in front of Ginny. Molly glanced at him. He knew she was surprised that Ginny hadn't already opened her presents.

"We decided she should open her presents tonight with everyone around her rather than by herself this morning," Arthur explained.

"I wanted to open my presents with you," Ginny piped up. Molly softened at that and nodded.

Ginny ripped into her presents. She was delighted to receive a box of Quidditch supplies from her brothers, including a broom servicing kit and a practice Quaffle. Hermione gave her a set of new quills and ink. Bill and Fleur gave her a new dark green winter cloak.

As she fingered the silky inside lining, Bill said, "It has warming charms that will activate once it gets below a certain temperature outside."

"That will be great for Hogwarts," Ginny said with a smile. "Thanks."

Arthur smiled as he watched his daughter open her gifts. He handed her a brightly wrapped gift. She opened the box and found a beautiful women's watch with a mother of pearl face and diamond accents around the edge.

"Daddy," she said with gasp. "It's beautiful! Thank you."

She hugged both of the parents before fastening the watch around her wrist. Hermione and Fleur admired her watch before showing it to Harry. He also admired the watch, dropping a kiss on her cheek.

Arthur watched, concerned as Harry handed Ginny another box. Ginny smiled up at her boyfriend and opened the box to find a pair of purple moonstone and diamond earrings. She squealed in delight. Immediately she took out the diamonds that had been in her ears since they had been pierced and gave them back to Fleur before putting in the new earrings. Bill conjured up a mirror so she could see how they looked.

"Thank you, sweetie!" Ginny said as she admired her gift. She leaned up and kissed him briefly.

"You are welcome," Harry replied with a smile.

The party broke up soon afterwards. Ron left to accompany Hermione home and Bill and Fleur left after saying good night to everyone. Charlie took his other two brothers out to investigate the bar in the front of the restaurant.

Before Harry or Ginny could say anything, Molly interrupted them.

"Harry, Ginny, I would like to talk to the two of you."

The couple exchanged a nervous look, but sat down across the table from the older couple.

Molly's lips tightened. "Harry, dear. I'm sure you meant well with your gift, but I don't think it is appropriate. I don't approve of earrings for proper young ladies in the first place, but the pair you gave her are way too expensive."

"Molly," Arthur began.

"Don't try to shush me, Arthur," she retorted. "I know I've made mistakes, but that doesn't mean I've given up my right to have opinions."

Harry looked between the older couple uncertainly. "I'm not sure why they are not appropriate."

"Because they are too expensive," Molly snapped. "It is not proper for a boy to give a girl such an expensive gift."

"Why not?" Harry looked puzzled. He looked at Ginny for help. She shrugged.

"Because it might make her feel obligated to you and might lead to inappropriate actions," Molly said. "If you give her expensive gifts, people will talk."

"I'm sorry," Harry said after a moment. "I still really don't understand."

"She's afraid I'll feel obligated to sleep with you because you bought me expensive gifts," Ginny said in a hard tone.

"What?!" Harry exclaimed. "I would never…I wanted to give them to her because I thought she would like them, not because I expected something from her."

"That may be," Molly said, "but it looks bad."

"How does it look bad that I give the girl I love a pair of earrings?" Harry demanded.

"Love?" Molly shook her head. "I'm sorry, but you are a bit too young to know if you are in love." She looked at Harry. "You will be in London and she will be at Hogwarts. You can't know what will happen in the future. It might be better if you went ahead and moved into Grimmauld Place now. The two of you are getting way too serious too fast."

"Molly!" "Mum!" Arthur and Ginny both yelled at the same time.

Molly turned to her husband. "What? Am I wrong? She is just seventeen — way too young to know her own heart. She's had a crush on him for a long time and is probably flattered that he is paying attention to her."

Ginny flushed both with anger and embarrassment. "Mum! I am old enough to know my own mind. He isn't just paying attention to me. He loves me and I love him."

"It is a summer romance!" Molly yelled. "You will be back at school in a few weeks and find another boy. He will be at the Ministry with all sorts of women throwing themselves at him. How long do you think your romance will last?"

"For the rest of our lives!" Ginny yelled back. She pulled her wand and cancelled the charms that hid her ring. Brandishing her left hand at her mother, she said, "Harry asked me to marry him and I said yes."

Molly looked from one to the other in horror. She turned to her husband. "Did you know about this?"

"Yes," Arthur said. "They told me about it a few weeks ago."

"You knew and you did nothing?"

"What would you have me do? They are in love and planning to get married. Have you not listened when I told you how much they've been relying on each other and how good they are together? I know they are young, but they are both of age."

"Barely," she snarled. Standing, she glared at Harry. "I want you out of my house."

"Fine," he said. He also stood. "I love your daughter and I will marry her."

He looked down at Ginny who was still glaring at her mother. "Do you-"

"Yes, I'm coming with you," Ginny interrupted him.

She gathered up her birthday presents.

"Don't you dare, young lady!" Molly yelled, affronted.

Arthur rounded the table and was saddened to note that Harry automatically stepped between Ginny and her parents. He raised his hands as if in surrender. "Ginny."

"No, Dad, I think we need to leave now."

Arthur nodded sadly as he looked between his daughter and his wife. "Go, be safe."

Darting around from behind Harry, she hugged her father and kissed him on the cheek. She then stepped back to Harry who wrapped his arm around her and Apparated with her to Grimmauld Place.

When they arrived at Grimmauld Place, Ginny seemed to sag against him. Harry took the presents from her and called for Kreacher.

"Master," the elf intoned when he popped into the room. His eyes widened when his saw the state his mistress was in.

"Kreacher, can you please take these upstairs to my room and then go to the Burrow and gather up all of my belongings?"

"Of course, Master," the little elf nodded. "What about my Mistress?"

Ginny lifted her head from Harry's chest. "Can you just bring some clothes?"

"Of course, Mistress," Kreacher replied before leaving.

Harry guided his fiancée to the couch before sitting next to her. She immediately climbed onto his lap and rested her head against his shoulder drawing comfort from his closeness.

"You ok, love?"

Ginny made a noise that was half a laugh and half a sob. "I don't know. I had such a great day earlier and…I didn't expect her reaction to be quite so violent."

She sighed. "She'll calm down in a few days, but I wish she wouldn't over react like that."

"You're sure -"

"Yes, I'm sure I made the right choice," Ginny said. "Dad gave us his blessing and he will talk to Mum. As angry as I am with her, I know it must have been a shock to her."

Sitting up straight, she smiled. "I'm not worried about her tonight. It is my seventeenth birthday and I am alone with my fiancé in his house."

Harry smiled. "Well, when you put it that way."

He leaned over and kissed her. She laughed and darted away up the stairs. He took off after her and found her in their room. They continued their celebration of her birthday long into the night.

Back to index

Chapter 11: Chapter 11 Revelations

Author's Notes: First, I'd like to thank my beta StephanieO for her work - it is much appreciated. Second, I would like to thank everyone for their kind emails asking after me. I had major surgery two months ago and unfortunately had several set backs, so it has taken me a while to get back to writing. I'm still not quite 100% so please be patient. For those who have asked about the next chapter of Perilous Journey - that is in the works.

"How in Merlin's name could you allow that to happen?" Molly screeched when they arrived back at Summerbee's. "She is just barely seventeen years old and you allowed her to become engaged?! Did you see her? Short skirts, makeup, earrings — she looked like a cheap tart. Not to mention the fact that she is acting like one. Leaving with her boyfriend -"

"Molly!" Arthur said sternly. "First of all, you must calm down. Do you really want to alienate your daughter?"

"No, I want her back home where I can keep an eye on her," Molly raged. "I need to get out of here."

Arthur was shoved back in a corner as she stormed around the room throwing her belongings haphazardly in her battered trunk. "Molly, you aren't doing anyone any good in this condition."

"I thought I could leave you at home to watch over the children, but you couldn't even manage that simple task. Obviously their physical relationship has progressed much further than it should have. You allowed our daughter to become…"

"Stop right there!" Arthur yelled, surprising Molly with his anger. "I know you were taken by surprise, but I will not allow you to keep denigrating our daughter and her relationship. Do I wish she was older? Yes, of course I do, but they are in love — a true and deep love. I wish you would have actually seen them this summer. They have leaned on each other and nurtured each other. He isn't going to forget about her and you know it isn't in his nature to stray."

Molly sank down on her bed still holding some of her robes. "But she is too young and she might get hurt and then where will she be?"

"She is young," Arthur agreed. "Yes, she might get hurt, but you know Harry would never hurt her on purpose. We can't fix everything for her anymore, Molly. We haven't been able to for years."

When he realized his wife was actually listening, he pressed the advantage. "Molly, she may have only just turned seventeen, but she is much more mature than that. She's had to grow up fast. The events of her first year saw to that, not to mention the past year. She had to learn to stand up for herself and others. Did you listen to everything Minerva had to say? How Ginny helped everyone?"

Molly nodded a bit uncertainly. "I heard Minerva, but I still have a hard time believing everything could have gone so wrong."

"It is hard to believe," Arthur agreed watching his wife compassionately. He knew she was having a hard time processing everything, but he felt she was calm enough that he could pull up a chair and sit down across from her. He was forcibly reminded of his discussion with Ron so many weeks earlier.

"Unfortunately, it really did happen. By pretending that it didn't we are minimizing her experience. Harry has listened to her and helped her deal with everything that happened to her over the past year," Arthur said earnestly.

Molly sighed, "I'm scared to listen to her. I don't think I want to know what happened to her." Tears welled up in her eyes. "She told me about them vanishing her robes and clothes during class and…I was so afraid they had taken advantage of her. I didn't want to hear anymore."

"I don't blame you," Arthur said gently. "Unfortunately, it isn't really about us, it's about Ginny. She needs to be heard and listened to. Fussing over Percy or Ron tells her that what she went through isn't important to you."

"I never meant to give her that impression," Molly said tearfully. "I just don't know what to say to her or G-Georgie."

"But we can't ignore them," Arthur said. "This is hard. Harder than anything I've ever done in my life, but I can't focus on my fears of having failed my children. I need to be there for them and comfort them as best I can. We can't fall apart on them now. Crying doesn't help them and that is what we need to do now — help them. I…I would love to have you there to help me and so we can comfort each other."

"So how does this help us with Ginny?" Molly asked after a few minutes.

"What do you want to do?" Arthur asked. "We fell in love when we were at Hogwarts. Why do you have such a hard time believing they have fallen in love as well?"

Molly fell silent pondering that question. "You really think they are in love? It just seems like they are too young. How can she be certain when she's been so sheltered? I am afraid she is dazzled by his reputation and not by him. This coming year he will be tempted in ways that most boys his age are not. He is wealthy and famous and…all those pictures in the papers…he can have any woman he wants or any number of women he wants. I'm just afraid that Ginny will be hurt in the end."

Arthur sighed. "You might be right. Harry might run wild with drinking and women and all sorts of unsavoury things. Do I think he will? No. We can't punish him for things that might happen. He loves Ginny and he wants a family."

"He does because he's never had a real family," Molly agreed. "What happens in ten years when he's still a young man tied down by a family? Will he end up cheating on her, feeling like he missed out on something? Bill, our Bill, dated for years before settling down. None of the other boys are that serious about a girl — why would Harry be so different?"

"He is different," Arthur said gently. "Like Ginny, he's had to grow up so fast. He's had to face death on more than one occasion — he doesn't feel like a kid anymore. Do I know what will happen in ten years? No, I don't. But I don't think he will cheat on Ginny or run around with fast women. That's just not the type of person he is. He's good and steady and noble."

Looking steadily at his wife, he said, "I trust that he will love and care for her." When he saw she was actually listening to him, he said, "If the worst happens and he breaks her heart and leaves her alone and heartbroken…" He shrugged, "If that happens, we will be there for her."

He fell silent as he watched his wife, he could easily understand how she felt. As much as he wanted to protect his daughter, he knew he could not. It was the same as he'd felt when they'd let Bill go to Egypt and Charlie go to Romania. He had to trust he had raised them right and just be there for them.

"Come on, love," he said. "Let's get you into bed and we will deal with this tomorrow."

Slowly, Molly agreed. He stayed and talked to her quietly about his day while she went about her night-time routine, much as he would have done if they'd been at home. It was almost another hour before he left.

Once Molly had finally fallen asleep, Arthur wearily Apparated back to the Burrow. He was quite thankful to find that none of his sons were still awake. He didn't feel up to more discussions tonight.

Ginny woke rather late the next morning. It took her a few moments after she opened her eyes to remember where she was and what had happened the night before. She looked around for Harry before she vaguely recalled him kissing her goodbye when he left for work.

Sitting up, she noticed a folded note and a rose on Harry's pillow. Smiling, she picked up the rose and smelled it before opening the note.


I hate to leave you here — you look so beautiful (and so right) sleeping in my bed. As much as I wish I could stay with you, I have to go into work today. I would really have loved to stay with you. I'll see you tonight.

I love you


Carrying the rose with her, she stood and dressed before heading down to the kitchen. She found Kreacher making some bread.

"Good morning, Mistress."

"Good morning, Kreacher," Ginny replied. "I was hoping to have some cereal this morning."

"Certainly, Mistress." Kreacher snapped his fingers and the table was set for eating cereal complete with three different types of cereal, as well as milk and fruits for toppings.

"Thanks, this is great." Ginny ate her breakfast and wondered what she should do for the day. She really didn't want to deal with either of her parents today and by extension decided she should probably avoid her brothers as well. She thought about visiting Luna, but in the end she decided to read her bridal magazines and do some tentative wedding planning.

As she stood to leave the kitchen, Kreacher said to her, "At the back of the house on the ground floor is the Mistress' study. If you would like to use it, I can open the room for you."

"Okay," Ginny said as she followed the elf up the stairs. He led her to the back of the house.

Ginny had to say she was honestly nervous about what the room might look like. She was amazed when Kreacher opened the door to a beautiful room that overlooked the back garden. It was bright and light and airy, in many ways the opposite of the rest of the house. It was decorated in gold and cream with shiny crystal accents. There was a large desk that faced the large picture window. Ginny's favourite part of the room was a beautiful water feature that flowed over prancing unicorns.

"Kreacher, this is amazing." Ginny turned slowly around the room again. "Why have I never seen this before?"

"There was no Mistress before," Kreacher replied simply. He gestured towards the desk. "There is a menu on the desk. If you fill it out, it will appear in the kitchen and I will prepare the meal you request. If you will be out for a meal, simply strike through it."

"Thank you." Ginny walked over to the desk to look at the menu.

The stiff, cream coloured parchment was beautiful with elegant calligraphy. She'd never seen anything like it before it her life. The thought that her mother would love something like this hit her with a force she didn't expect. She was angry at her mother for her attitude and actions, but she missed her more than she would have thought.

Pushing that thought out of her mind she sat down at the desk. There was an elegant quill and rather expensive looking ink next to the parchment. Ginny giggled to herself. She felt a bit like a heroine in one of her novels. She ordered sandwiches for lunch and chose a roast chicken with potatoes and green beans for dinner with a treacle tart for afters.

She settled onto the gold brocade sofa with her bridal magazines. For today, she was going to do what she wanted to do. In some ways, she felt almost like she was playing house, but she was going to enjoy it.

"Damn, mate!" Seamus exclaimed. "That's rough."

Harry nodded ruefully. The two of them were reviewing case files of Death Eater attacks to ensure that all of the Death Eaters had been indicted. He had just finished telling Seamus about Mrs Weasley's reaction to his gift for Ginny.

"Ginny says her mum will come around, but she was so angry," Harry said. "I just didn't expect that."

Seamus shrugged, "Me mam is like that. She'll blow a fuse over something small and blow it all out of proportion. She usually calms down and everything is fine, but it's not fun when she's yelling at you."

"I guess that's what got me," Harry said. "Mrs Weasley has always been so nice to me."

"She's treating you more like family," Seamus offered. "Have you talked to Ginny this morning?"

Harry blushed. "Actually she came home with me."

"What?" Seamus looked shocked. "And you haven't had a mob of angry red-heads hunting you down?"

"I don't think any of them know except Mr and Mrs Weasley," Harry explained. "Mrs Weasley was upset, but Mr Weasley told us to go."

"He gave his daughter permission to spend the night with her boyfriend?" Seamus asked in amazement.

Harry grinned. "He gave his daughter permission to spend the night with her fiancé."

"What?!" Seamus laughed. He reached out and pulled his friend into a hug. "Congrats, mate. When did you propose?"

As they worked, Harry told Seamus about the trip he and Ginny took to Paris. He couldn't believe how good it felt to share his happiness with someone.

"That's great," Seamus said with a smile. "I'm happy for both of you. So when are you getting married?"

"Ginny wants a Christmas wedding," Harry explained.

Michael knocked on the open door of the office Harry and Seamus were sharing. "It's lunch time, do you two want to join us in the Canteen?"

"We should celebrate," Seamus said. He turned to Harry. "How about we go out to that restaurant Terry was talking about in Covent Garden?"

"That sounds great," Harry said standing.

"Okay," Michael said a bit bemused. "What are we celebrating?"

"We'll tell you at the restaurant," Seamus said as he followed the others out of the office.

Arthur was relieved that all of his sons had decided to head into the shop today. He wanted to put off any confrontations until later in the day. After eating a bowl of corn flakes, he headed into the Ministry.

His staff in the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects had been cut in the aftermath of the war as fewer and fewer counterfeit items were being introduced. Kingsley planned to combine the department with Arthur's old department, Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, and place both departments under Arthur's control. He would have a larger staff and also oversee the department of Muggle Relations. Arthur was quite excited about the plans for the future.

Since the end of the war, Arthur had been working on Kingsley's special council set up to review the laws and regulations that had been implemented in the last few years. It was necessary work and Arthur was glad to help, but he had to admit he did miss his contact with Muggle inventions.

The morning was spent reviewing more of the files from the Muggle-born Registration Commission. While anyone who had been unfairly imprisoned in Azkaban had long since been released, they wanted to ensure that those who had managed to escape the Commission's reach knew it was safe to return.

As he returned from lunch, his thoughts returned to his daughter. Something would have to be done. He didn't want his family to be divided.

"So what are we celebrating?" Michael asked as they all sat down.

Harry blushed slightly, but he said, "Ginny and I are getting married."

"Congratulations!" Katie said with a smile. She went over and hugged her former team mate. "I am so happy for you."

Everyone added their congratulations. Harry once again recounted an abbreviated version of the trip to Paris and his proposal.

"So what did Ron say?" Susan asked.

"I haven't told him yet," Harry said. "We planned to announce it last night, but...well let's just say things didn't go as planned. I'm going to tell him." A thought crossed his mind. "Please keep this quiet for now. I want to make sure that Ginny's whole family knows before most people — certainly before it turns up in the papers."

"No problem," Seamus promised.

The six of them enjoyed their lunch before returning to the Ministry. As Harry neared the Auror department, he slowed a bit when he saw Mr Weasley waiting outside the department. He was trying to decide if he should come back or not when Mr Weasley looked up and spotted him.


"Mr Weasley," Harry greeted him cautiously. Figuring he should get this out of the way, he said, "I'm sorry I upset Mrs Weasley last night. I didn't mean to."

"I know, lad," Mr Weasley said reassuringly. "I'm just sorry Ginny's birthday dinner ended so poorly."

"Do you know why she's so against me and Ginny?" Harry asked a bit plaintively. "I somehow thought she would be happy for us."

"I can't totally speak for her," Mr Weasley began, "but she hasn't seen the two of you together. She's afraid this is a summer fling and you will break Ginny's heart. I know it is not, but she hasn't seen the two of you. Mrs Weasley sometimes forgets that Ginny isn't the little girl she used to be."

Looking around, Mr Weasley gestured Harry into an empty office. Once Harry had shut the door behind him, Mr Weasley said, "I was hoping you and Ginny would come over to dinner or after dinner tonight. I think you need to tell her brothers about your engagement."

Harry rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "I'd like that; maybe we could come over after dinner. I just have to check with Ginny. I…I want everyone to know, I told my friends in the Auror program today. I'm…I'm just a bit worried about how they'll take it." He raised his eyes to meet his future father-in-law's. "I know Ron can tend to overreact at times and I really don't know how Charlie will react. I don't want anyone upsetting Ginny."

Mr Weasley grimaced slightly. "I am hoping that they will be happy for you as well." He looked at the younger man speculatively. "Does Bill know?"

Harry nodded. "He and Fleur both know."

"I will invite them over as well," Mr Weasley said.

"Thank you," Harry said sincerely.

Mr Weasley smiled at him. "Don't worry. It will all work out."

Ginny was sipping her pumpkin juice as she sat waiting at the bar of the Leaky Cauldron. Mid-morning she had received an owl from Hermione asking her to meet for lunch. So after informing Kreacher, she headed out to the Leaky. Hermione was going to meet her there and they were going to lunch in Muggle London.

After ten minutes or so, a familiar bushy haired witch entered the pub. After scanning the pub, her eyes lit on Ginny. "Ginny!"

Standing, Ginny hugged her friend. "Hermione! I was so glad that you sent me an owl!"

Hermione smiled. "I didn't really get a chance to talk to you last night."

As the two girls stepped out into the bright sunshiny day, Hermione said, "I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to go to my favourite restaurant near Hyde Park."

"No, that sounds like fun," Ginny said as Hermione flagged down a cab.

It didn't take long before the cab was letting them out across the street from the park. On their side of the street were well kept Victorian row houses. Hermione led the way to the pub she had in mind. The pub had outdoor seating and the two decided to sit outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Hermione smiled at her friend. "Thanks for meeting me and coming here with me. My parents always used to bring me here as a treat after we'd been sightseeing and it's one of my favourite places to eat."

Ginny smiled. "I can see why. It's beautiful here." She looked over at her friend and saw she was a bit distracted. "I thought you were working at your parents' office."

"I was," Hermione said," but they hired a regular receptionist so I'll only be filling in now and again. I don't mind, it gives me a chance to review my text books. I'm a bit nervous now that I've been away from school for a year."

Ginny laughed. "Hermione, you'll do fine."

The waitress approached to take their order and Ginny decided on a sandwich and salad. Once they'd ordered, Ginny looked over at her friend. "So what's wrong? And don't tell me you're worried about school. I can tell that's not it."

Hermione sighed. "I'm not sure." She looked out at the park. "I'm so confused and I really don't know what to do. The other night, at your party…Ron and I…we…"

Ginny looked at her in confusion for a moment before a thought occurred to her and she gasped. "Did you sleep with him?"

"Almost," Hermione admitted, her face bright red. "I never planned to and it wasn't until I started drinking that…We started kissing and fooling around. We've done that before, but I guess once we started drinking." She looked up at Ginny. "If he hadn't passed out…we might have. He's perfectly fine with it, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Not to mention I'm not on any kind of potion or anything."

Ginny digested everything Hermione said and cautiously asked, "Are you upset that you almost did or that you didn't?"

"I don't know," Hermione wailed quietly. "I'd be lying if I said I'd never thought about it, but I'm not really comfortable doing that yet. I had always thought I would wait until I was sure that…well, he was the right one. As much as I like Ron, we've only been dating for a few months. Is he really the one for me? I think so, but…"

"Have you told him that?" Ginny asked.

Hermione blushed. "I don't know how to say it or what to say. I think his relationship with Lavender was a lot more physical and I don't want him to lose interest because…"

"Okay, stop right there," Ginny said sternly. "No boy is worth losing your self respect. Dean wanted a lot more from me than I was willing to give and I told him in no uncertain terms. He couldn't touch anything without asking."

"Weren't you afraid he would break up with you if you didn't so what he wanted?"

"No," Ginny replied frankly. "If he would break up with me over that, he wasn't worth my time. The same goes for my brother, but I don't think he's like that. The only relationship he's ever had is that…whatever you want to call it with Lavender and let's face it - she's a bit of a…tart. I don't know what they did or didn't do, but the point is you need to tell him what his limits are. He might not like it, but he won't break up with you."

Hermione sipped her water as she listened to her friend. "Have you had a talk with Harry?"

Ginny blushed a bit. "Trust me, Harry and I have had lots of talks. He had kind of the opposite problem of most guys — he was afraid to touch me." She ducked her head a bit. "I had to be a bit more aggressive with him."

Hermione gasped. "Have you…?"

Blushing, Ginny nodded. "We…we made love for the first time in Paris."

"Were you scared? How did you know it was the right thing to do?"

"One of my regrets last year was that he and I had never made love," Ginny said softly. "I kept thinking that if he died…he's the only person I've ever thought about doing that with. Once we got back together, it was really just a matter of time." She giggled softly. "He is such the gentleman, I thought for a while it would never happen. It always seemed to be the wrong time or wrong place. That first night in Paris was amazing. We'd been shopping most of the afternoon and Bill and Fleur took us out to dinner. When we arrived back at the hotel…well we both knew it was the right time."

Hermione laughed quietly. "I'm happy for you. I have a hard time seeing Harry in a romantic sense, but he is very different with you. I'm a bit jealous — not because it's Harry, but it just seems to work for you."

"It is working," Ginny agreed, "But it's been a long time coming."

"Are you worried about this coming year?" Hermione asked after the waitress dropped off their salads.

"About what?" Ginny asked.

"Being apart from Harry," Hermione clarified.

The younger girl shrugged. "It won't be fun, but at least we'll be able to write back and forth and I'll get to see him once a week in class."

"You seem so sure," Hermione said. "I keep thinking that Ron will be meeting all sorts of new people… and what if he meets someone he likes better?"

"He's been crazy about you forever and the way he looks at you…I don't think you have anything to worry about."

"You've said he's crazy about me and Harry's said Ron's crazy about me, but Ron has never said that. He'll say he likes me or compliment me, but he won't go further than that." Hermione said sadly. "I keep remembering the autumn of my sixth year when I was fairly certain Ron liked me and the next thing I knew he was snogging Lavender all over the place."

"Are you really afraid he'll find someone else?" Ginny asked uncertainly.

Hermione shrugged. "I'm not certain. I don't think so, but every once in a while…he still starts to drool when he sees Fleur. He's not as bad as he was, but he still reacts to her."

"You two need to sit down and talk about your relationship," Ginny said. "You're afraid he'll find someone else and he's jealous of any boy you talk to. I thought the two of you would have calmed down by now."

"It's hard to talk about your feelings," Hermione said defensively.

"It is a bit scary to open yourself up to someone else," Ginny agreed. "But if your relationship is going to progress and last, you need to be able to talk about your feelings. Did you ever ask him about his relationship with Lavender?"

Hermione shook her head. "I heard enough from Lavender's point of view. She kept hinting that the two of them…had slept together."

Ginny made a face. "I don't think so. I mean it's possible, but she knew how you felt about him and I think she was just trying to show you up that she'd gotten him."

"How did she know how I felt about Ron?" Hermione demanded.

Ginny stared in her friend in disbelief. "Seriously? I think the entire tower was waiting for the two of you to stop fighting and start snogging."


"Come on, Hermione. It's been painfully obvious to the rest of us for a long time that the two of you belong together."

Hermione blushed, but looked pleased. She looked over at her lunch companion. "Has Harry ever said he loves you?"

Ginny beamed. "He tells me that all the time."

She had replaced the charm that hid her ring prior to leaving Grimmauld Place, but she was bursting to tell Hermione her exciting news. The waitress refilled their drinks and brought out their sandwiches.

Once the waitress left, Ginny said, "Harry told me that in the forest that night he had a choice to stay with his parents or to come back. He came back for me."

Hermione's eyes widened. "He told you that?"

Ginny nodded. "He's been so much more open with his feelings. He loves me and can't wait to start a family with me."


Ginny discretely removed the charms from her ring and held her hand out for Hermione to see. Hermione gasped as she realized the meaning of the ring on Ginny's finger.

"He asked you to marry him?"

Ginny nodded smiling. "He proposed when we were in Paris."

"Wow," Hermione breathed as she looked at the ring, trying to wrap her head around it all. "The ring is beautiful."

"Thanks," Ginny said as she glanced down at her ring. "It was his mother's ring. It's kind of his way of including his parents in our wedding."

"That's sweet," Hermione said. She took a deep breath before saying, "Don't take this the wrong way, but aren't you a bit too young to be talking about getting married?"

Ginny frowned at her friend. "We may be young, but we are in love. We won't be getting married until next Christmas, so we'll have an extra-long engagement."

Hermione seemed to consider that. "How do you know you love him?"

"He completes me," Ginny said with a dreamy smile. "He's helped me so much this summer and I really can't see spending my life with anyone else. I don't know how to explain it, but he always makes happy. He listens to me and respects me. He always knows how to make me feel better, even it's just to sit and listen."

"My mum commented on how much in love the two of you looked," Hermione admitted. "I thought maybe she was just seeing things, she's rather a romantic at times. Aren't you afraid you're making a mistake? I mean you are so young. How will you play Quidditch if you're married?"

Ginny stiffened a bit at her friend's questions, but realized that part of that was just the way Hermione processed information. "I know I'm not making a mistake. I don't know how to explain it to you, but I love him and I am going to spend the rest of my life with him. As for Quidditch, I can still play while I'm married. Harry said that he will support me with whatever I want to do. If I want to play Quidditch or travel or whatever I want — he just wants to be with me. We aren't planning on having kids right away. We want to wait awhile."

Hermione listened as she finished her lunch. Part of her wanted to scold the two of them. They were obviously too young — how on earth could they be in love? Hermione knew she was nowhere near ready to even think about getting married, how could Ginny who was almost two years younger than her be ready?

"Don't you want to live on your own for a while? Be your own person, have your own things?"

Ginny shrugged. "Not really. I mean I'll still be my own person, but I don't have an overwhelming need to prove I can live on my own."

Hermione shook her head. "I can't even imagine getting married right out of school. There is so much I want to do. I want to travel and have my own place and just enjoy living in London."

"I'm still going to travel," Ginny asserted. "It's just that I'll be traveling with Harry. We'll have our own place that we can pick out together. At first we'll live in Grimmauld Place, but we'll eventually get our own place."

"What did your parents say?" Hermione asked.

Making a face, Ginny replied, "My dad is happy for us and gave Harry his blessing. My mum…well she's not as excited for us." Ginny explained what had happened the night before.

Hermione was shocked. "She asked Harry to leave the Burrow?"

Ginny nodded. "He was rather hurt over that. I just don't get my mum. She acts like she wants all of us to get married, but she hasn't been very welcoming thus far. She treated Fleur horribly and she's not been really nice to Harry either. I know she loves him, she's worried over him and fussed over him — I think that's why this has hurt him so much." She smiled. "Dad and Bill have been great."

"What about Ron?" Hermione asked. "He can't know or he would have said something to me."

"We planned to tell everyone after we told Mum," Ginny said a bit sadly. "I don't know what we are going to do now." She looked over at her friend. "Do you want to come back to Grimmauld Place with me?"

Hermione accepted the invitation and after paying the bill, the two witches headed back to Grimmauld Place. Ginny was happy to show Hermione the Mistress' study.

"This is beautiful," Hermione said as she walked around the room. "I can't believe this was here the whole time."

Ginny shrugged. "Kreacher said that as there was no mistress before, it wouldn't open."

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Kreacher acknowledges you as mistress?"

Ginny nodded. "He has since Harry and I became engaged. He said something about Harry having chosen his mate."

"So that's why Kreacher was doing what you asked? I wondered about that," Hermione admitted. "I thought maybe it was because you're a pureblood and I'm a Muggleborn."

A knock on the open door made the two girls turn. Kreacher was holding a silver tray with a folded piece of parchment on it. "Master sent an owl."

"Thank you, Kreacher," Ginny said with a smile as she removed the note. "Kreacher, Hermione knows that Harry and I are engaged."

"Very good, Mistress." The wizened elf bowed and headed back towards the kitchen.

"Excuse me a minute," Ginny said to her friend as she opened Harry's note.

I hope you are having a good day, love! I told my friends about us and they were all happy for us. I hadn't meant to say anything, but I was talking to Seamus and the next thing you know I'm telling him everything.

I spoke to your Dad and he wants us to come over after dinner tonight and tell everyone. I think it's a good idea.

I love you!


"Oh good," Ginny said as she headed for the desk. "Harry wants to go to the Burrow after dinner and tell everyone." She looked over at her friend. "Do you want to come with us? You could stay for dinner and then come over to the Burrow."

"Sure," Hermione agreed. As she watched her younger friend write a message back to Harry, she thought that it would be a good idea to be there for Ron.

"I'm going to change and freshen up before heading to the Burrow," Ginny announced after they all finished dinner.

Harry had been happy to find that Hermione was there and knew their secret. Thus far the evening had been fun and relaxing, but he had to admit he was a bit concerned about the rest of the night.

"Okay," Harry smiled as her. She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek as she left the room.

He watched his fiancée leave the room before turning his attention to the other woman in the room. He could tell she was bursting to talk to him alone.

"Harry," Hermione looked at him a bit sternly. "What have you done?"

"I'm assuming you're talking about the engagement," Harry said after a moment.

"Yes," Hermione hissed at him. "Harry, don't you think you are too young for this? I mean, married?"

"We aren't getting married until next year," Harry replied. "We'll be eighteen and nineteen. This wasn't a spur of the moment decision, I want to marry her and spend the rest of my life with her."

"You've only dated for a few months," Hermione said. "Why can't you just date and see what happens?"

"Because I don't want to," Harry said patiently. "Hermione, I love her and I want to marry her and we'll face life together."

Hermione groaned. "But you are so young."

"You keep saying that," Harry said when she didn't elaborate. "I don't know what to tell you other than I love Ginny and she loves me. I don't feel too young. I know not everyone wants to get married at my age, but honestly I know that Ginny is my match, she is my mate. It doesn't matter how old we are."

He watched as she digested that. "Why are you having such a hard time with this?"

"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "My parents just always warned me against getting married so young. Both of you are younger than me and I don't feel anywhere near ready to get married."

Harry shrugged. "You don't have to be in the same place as us, but would it be too much for you to be happy for us? Mrs Weasley isn't very happy, but Mr Weasley and Bill and Fleur are all happy for us. Besides, my parents must have been very young when they married — they were only twenty when I was born."

Hermione looked at him for another minute before breaking into a smile. Standing, she headed over and gave him a hug. "I am happy for the two of you. I'm just worried, that's all."

"I know," Harry said as he returned the hug. "It's a bit scary, but I know this is the right thing to do."

She pulled back and searched his eyes. To her surprise, his sincerity and love for Ginny was shining in his eyes. "Just…I don't know - make sure you know what you are doing. I don't want to see either of you hurt."

Harry laughed. "Don't worry, we'll be fine."

Ginny soon re-joined them. Harry raised an eyebrow. She'd changed into a blue sheath and heels.

"You look gorgeous," he said with a smile. He leaned over and kissed her.

"Are you ready, love?"

Ginny made a face, but nodded. The three of them made their way to the front entryway from where they could Apparate to the Burrow.

Hermione hurried ahead of the two of them, while Ginny slowed down; Harry slowed down with her. He looked over at her questioningly. She smiled, "I'm okay. I just…I just wish I knew what was going to happen and how they were going to react."

"I know," Harry admitted. "Your dad and Bill have been great. I hope the rest of your brothers will…well, I hope they'll be happy for us."

"Me too," she said.

Gripping his hand, the two of them headed into the Burrow. Mr Weasley was waiting near the door. He hugged both his daughter and Harry, welcoming them to the house. Ron was talking with Hermione, while Bill and Fleur were talking to Charlie and George. Percy was the only Weasley brother not sitting around the table. Harry stepped forward and set two containers on the table.

"Kreacher made some treacle tart for me to bring over here," he said.

"Thanks, mate," Ron said.

Ginny helped her father put plates and silverware out on the table. In short order, everyone was seated around the table enjoying their treacle tart.

George looked over at his sister. "Where were you today?"

Ginny shot her father a look, but he just gestured for her to answer the question. Taking a deep breath, she said, "I was at Grimmauld Place."

Looking up at her brothers, she could see the confusion on Charlie's face and the darkening of Ron's. She reached out and took Harry's hand. "Last night after dinner, Mum…she became upset at Harry and said his gift to me was inappropriate because it was too expensive."

"The earrings?" Charlie asked.

Ginny nodded. "Yes, she got quite upset. Harry told her that he loves me and that's the only reason he gave me the earrings. She…she kind of lost it. She said we were too young to know that we were in love and she told Harry he had to move out of the Burrow."

"What?!" The brothers were all rather shocked at the events of the night before.

Charlie turned to his father. "Dad, what's going on?"

Sighing, Mr Weasley replied, "Your mother is having a hard time with the fact that Ginny is so grown up and the fact that she and Harry are so serious. Harry and I have spoken and he feels it is only right for him to stay at Grimmauld Place. It is only a few weeks earlier than he would have moved in anyway."

"I don't want to cause Mrs Weasley anymore distress," Harry said softly.

"It's not your fault, mate," George said.

"Thanks," Harry said, happy for the support.

"There's something else, isn't there?" Charlie asked.

Harry looked over at Ginny who nodded at him. "Ginny and I wanted to let everyone know that we are engaged. I asked her to marry me and she agreed."

There was a split second of silence before George jumped up and hugged both of them. "Congrats! I'm very happy for you."

"Thank you," Ginny said with a glowing smile. She turned to look at Charlie who was staring at her a bit bemused. He laughed. "I'm having a hard time believing you're old enough to get married, but I've seen how happy the two of you are."

He pulled his sister into a hug. "If you're happy, I'm happy."

Harry relaxed slightly as Ginny hugged her older brothers and showed off her ring. He looked over to Ron who was standing with Hermione. He raised his eyebrow and Ron approached him.


Harry nodded, wondering what Ron was thinking. "Yes. I love her and want to marry her."

"No more breaking up with her?" Ron asked a bit aggressively.

Harry shook his head. "It about killed me to break up with her, but at the time I felt it was the right decision. Now I know we are better off together."

Ron surveyed his friend for a moment before holding out his hand. "If you want to put up with her…"

Laughing, Harry took Ron's hand and pulled him into a hug. "Thanks, mate."

"I don't believe it."

The two boys turned to see Hermione standing next to them looking from one to the other.

"What?" Ron asked.

"You're okay with this? I would have thought you wouldn't approve."

Ron shrugged. "Now I know he's not messing her around. He loves her and she loves him. It's what she's always wanted and I know he'll take good care of her."

"Thanks, Ron."

Turning, the three of them saw Ginny standing just behind Ron. He reached out and hugged his sister. "Congrats, little sister!"

As the impromptu party wound down, Hermione as well as Bill and Fleur headed home. George drifted upstairs while the others followed Mr Weasley into the sitting room. Ron immediately engaged Charlie in a chess match. Harry followed Ginny to the couch closest to her father's chair.

Once everyone had settled in, Ginny looked over at her father. "Did mum have anything else to say?"

Mr Weasley sighed. "She wasn't very happy, but I think she will come around. She just hasn't been around the two of you and wasn't really ready for it. She's scared that you'll regret it or get hurt."

"She still doesn't trust me, does she?" Harry asked sadly.

Mr Weasley smiled over at the young man, trying to diffuse some of the hurt he knew his wife was causing. "I'm not certain, Harry. Molly and I were married right out of Hogwarts and we have been very happy since then, but we realize how lucky we are. Not everyone who marries so young ends up so happy."

Ginny reached over and laced her fingers through Harry's. "We will be as well, Dad."

"I believe you will be," Mr Weasley said as he placed his hand over Harry and Ginny's.

Back to index

Chapter 12: Chapter 12 Relationships

Author's Notes: Sorry for the extremely long wait between chapters! Thank you so much for the gentle reminders to get back to this story. Thanks to my wonderful beta, StephanieO, for all of her help!

Jane looked up when she heard Hermione come in the front door. She listened for a minute and when she didn’t hear anything further she stood and headed out to the hallway. Hermione was standing in the front hallway looking at something she was holding in her hand.

“Hermione? Is everything okay, love?”

To Jane’s surprise, Hermione looked up with a rather broken hearted look on her face. Jane hurried to her daughter’s side.

“What is it, love?”

“I don’t know, Mum,” Hermione replied. “I just…I don’t know what to do or what to say and I’m starting to feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.”
Jane guided her daughter into the kitchen and soon the two women were sitting at the kitchen table with steaming cups of tea in front of them.

“So why do you feel you don’t fit in?” Jane asked tenderly. Reaching out, she laid her hand on top of her daughter’s.

“You know I went to see Ginny, right?”

Jane nodded and Hermione continued, “I thought I could talk to her about me and Ron. We should be in a similar situation with us both going back to school and both boys living in London. Some of the time I’m fine and I think Ron and I will get through this and other times I’m so worried he’ll find someone new in London. I would think that Ginny would have the same worries, I mean Harry is young and wealthy and famous and girls are forever throwing themselves at him.”

Hermione looked up at her mother with confusion in her eyes. “Mum, she’s not worried at all. She started telling me that she knows Harry loves her and when I told her some of my concerns she said we need to talk to each other. It’s hard to sit down and talk about your feelings. What if I tell him what I feel and he doesn’t feel the same way or he laughs at me or something?”

“Do you really think he would do that?” Jane asked soothingly.

“I don’t know,” Hermione wailed. “Ron tells me he likes me, but I keep remembering him and Lavender all over the common room after he’d agreed to go to Professor Slughorn’s party with me.”

Jane was silent for a moment before she said, “Sweetie, you need to decide if you want to see him or not. If you do want to be his girlfriend then you need to forgive him for his mistakes. Have you talked to him about it?”

“No!” Hermione replied rather shocked that her mother would suggest such a thing. “I don’t want to hear about how wonderful Lavender was as a girlfriend.”

Jane sipped her tea as she watched her daughter. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but if you want to continue a relationship I think Ginny is right. You and Ron need to sit down and clear the air. I know he is still jealous of Viktor and you are jealous of Lavender. If your relationship is to flourish you need to tell him about your relationship with Viktor and make it clear you have no feelings for Viktor at all anymore. I also think you need to hear about his relationship with Lavender. You need to know why he started the relationship so quickly and you need to tell him how much it hurt you.”

Hermione sat quietly as she thought about what her mother had said. It was what Ginny had tried to tell her as well. She sighed. “I guess you’re right, I just…it’s hard to talk about feelings and things. Ron’s never been one for talking about emotions.”

“And you’re afraid he won’t want to talk to you?” Jane asked shrewdly. Blushing Hermione nodded. Jane smiled gently. “I think he might surprise you.”

The two women sat quietly for a minute until Jane said, “Is there something else bothering you?”

“Harry asked Ginny to marry him,” Hermione blurted out. She looked over at her mother, her conflicting emotions and confusion showing in her eyes. “I don’t understand. She’s just turned seventeen, why would she…commit herself like that? I asked her if she didn’t want to establish her own life and live on her own for a while and she said she didn’t. How can she be so sure? I’m almost nineteen and I have no idea what I even want to do in life. I know I don’t want to get married for a while.”

Jane smiled gently at her daughter. “You can’t expect your friends to always want the same as you do, darling. I have to say having spent some time around them, I’m not entirely surprised. They are both very mature for their ages and they’ve been through some incredibly life altering experiences together. Surely they’re not getting married right now, are they? I thought she still had another year of school.”

“She does,” Hermione agreed. “She wants a Christmas wedding so they are planning to get married sometime in December 1999.”

“So they will be eighteen and nineteen when they marry,” Jane mused. “It is young and certainly not for everyone, but I don’t see why it can’t work for them.”

“Then why have you always cautioned me against marrying young?”

Jane stared down at her tea for a moment gathering her thoughts. “When I was young, I had several friends whose whole mission in life seemed to be to get married. Several of them were married just out of school at seventeen or eighteen. Looking back, I think they just really wanted out of their parents’ house and wanted to prove they were adults. Soon they discovered that getting married wasn’t the answer to all of their problems. They had to work hard for not much money and honestly it is quite an adjustment to live with someone else. My friend, Sarah ended up divorced at twenty three with two small children to support. It was very difficult for her. Another friend, Anne is still married, but they have had some rough patches. I saw what they were going through and I didn’t want the same for myself.

“As you know, I met your father in dental school. We dated all through school. Your father wanted to get married before we established our practice, but I was still nervous about making such life changing decisions. We started our practice and then eventually got married. I was thirty when I had you and although we wanted more children it just wasn’t in the cards for us. I don’t regret waiting to get married and have children, I think I was more mature and made better decisions than I would have if I was younger.” She shrugged. “As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that not everyone who marries young is doomed to have a bad marriage, but it is harder to marry at such a young age.”

Hermione listened to what her mother had to say before she said, “I want to go to University and there are so many things I want to do, I can’t imagine tying myself down and getting married. Part of me is frustrated that Ginny can’t see the same thing. She says she still plans to play Quidditch and travel. She just wants to do all of that with Harry. I tried talking to Harry, but he’s just completely besotted and just says he wants to get married.”

“Did he say why?”

“He spouted off some nonsense about how she’s the one for him — she’s his match, whatever that means. He doesn’t want to wait,” Hermione said obviously aggrieved at her friend. “Of course then he brings up that his parents married young. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t really count. They couldn’t have been married long.”

Jane’s face changed. “Hermione, love, please do not ever say that to him. I realize you are trying to win an argument, but his memories of his parents are obviously rather sacred to him.”

Hermione blushed somewhat abashedly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to slip out.” She sighed. “I know people tend to marry earlier in the Wizarding world, but I figured with Harry being raised by Muggles he wouldn’t think that way.”

“When I was at the Burrow and we were talking about family, Harry mentioned that his aunt was married when she was twenty and she’s a Muggle,” Jane said.

Hermione buried her head in her arms as if trying to block out everything her mother might have to say. “I just want it to be back to normal. Voldemort is dead, Umbridge is gone, Snape is gone - we would have a great school year. I want the boys to go back to school with us and I want to have fun and take our NEWTs.”

Jane smiled gently as she ran her hand over her daughter’s bushy hair. “I know sweetie, but that’s not going to happen. Everyone is growing up. It’s okay to grow up at different times.”

“Why am I so far behind everyone?” Hermione asked her voice muffled. She raised her head. “I just got an owl from one of my old roommates Parvati. She’s excited because she met the man her parents arranged for her to marry. Her parents arranged her marriage! That just…that’s wrong and old fashioned. Why should she be forced to marry the man her parents picked out?”

“I thought you said she was excited,” Jane said slightly puzzled.

“She is.”

“Then how is she being forced?” Jane asked. She picked up the letter Hermione gestured towards and skimmed it quickly.

Hermione looked up at her mother in confusion. “Her parents arranged the marriage.”

“And she’s agreed,” Jane pointed out. “Honey, she was obviously expecting this and she sounds happy. She even said her sister chose not to have an arranged marriage so it doesn’t sound like she is being forced into anything. I know when you hear arranged marriage you envision Victorian parents locking their daughter in her room until she agrees, but that’s not what this sounds like.”

Hermione reached for Parvati’s letter and reread it. “I guess you’re right. It just seems wrong.”

“It’s not what you’re used to,” Jane said gently. “Part of growing up is realizing that not everyone is the same nor does everyone have the same expectations out of life. You want to study and live on your own. I think that’s wonderful and of course it is a reflection of the way I raised you. Ginny wants to get married, but she still wants to play Quidditch and have fun. Your friend, Parvati, is going to be getting to
know her fiancé while she’s working on Diagon Alley. Both of those are different, but ambitious in their own way.”

Hermione considered her mother’s words. She had initially dismissed most of Parvati’s letter, but she recalled how the Indian girl enthused about opening a boutique style clothing store with Lavender and surprisingly her twin, Padma. She had to smile at that. If there was something those girls knew it was fashion. Now that she thought back she had heard Parvati talk about arranged marriages before, but it was so far outside her frame of reference it was difficult to relate to.

Was she really being too closed-minded? She would have to think about it. She really wanted to just yell at them, but she realized that would only alienate them. She would need to take time to think about everything. With a tired smile she kissed her mum on the cheek and headed up to bed.

Ginny looked around the new shop her brothers were turning into a pizza parlour in amazement. She’d always been impressed with Dean’s artistic abilities, but she’d never seen him attempt something on this scale before. Her brothers had decided on a dragon theme for the pizza parlour and Dean was helping them decorate.

“This is brilliant,” she breathed after a moment. Dean had drawn the various dragons in their natural environment, so he’d drawn a variety of mountain ranges and mountain tops. She was amazed that he’d managed to make them so different from each other. Some of the dragons were in flight while others were breathing fire, some protecting eggs, others going after food. She laughed when she saw the Hungarian Horntail flying protectively in front of a clutch of eggs. Dean had painted one of the eggs golden and a Firebolt was resting on the ground in front of the egg.

Dean grinned when he saw where she was looking. “I couldn’t resist paying a bit of homage to Harry. That was amazing, watching him fly like that. Plus I figure it’s not too over the top so people who don’t know the story won’t realize it’s about Harry.”

“I zink it’s wonderful,” Fleur said. Ginny had to stifle a giggle as Dean stared at her sister-in-law.

“Thank you,” Dean said breathlessly. Fleur had already turned to look at the rest of the walls. Dean had sketched what he wanted and had the smaller sketches taped to the walls were they were to go.

“Fleur, here is your old friend the Welsh Green,” Ginny called out.

Fleur shivered prettily as she looked at the bright green dragon who was drawn looking over a beautiful meadow filled with sheep. “Eet looks much nicer ‘ere,” the French woman commented. She slanted a look over at Dean who had regained his composure. “Could you draw zomezing to honour Cedric?”

Nodding, Dean pulled down his sketch of the Swedish Short-Snout and started reworking it. The two women tried to be quiet so as not to disturb him while he worked. It didn’t take long before Dean had a rough sketch of Cedric bravely facing the silvery-blue dragon. Dean had even remembered to add in the dog that Cedric had transfigured in an attempt to distract the dragon.

Ginny felt tears welling up in her eyes as she gazed at the handsome young man who’d died way too young. She hadn’t known Cedric well at all as he was so much older than her, but she’d spoken to him once or twice in the village. Clearing her throat she said, “That’s really nice, Dean.”

“Oui, eet is a fitting tribute,” Fleur said sadly. “’E was a nice boy, ‘e didn’t deserve to die like zat.”

“I felt bad for rooting against him,” Dean said. “Not that I was against him exactly, but I was rooting for Harry.” He gazed at the sketch for another minute before looking over at Ginny. “His parents live near you, don’t they?”

Ginny nodded. “They are actually closer to Luna’s house. Their house is also out in the country, but a bit more formal than the Burrow. We would see each other in the village from time to time.”

“I want to talk to them before I put it up,” Dean said. “I’d hate for them to come in and not know Cedric’s picture would be here.”

“Zat is very zoughtful,” Fleur smiled delightedly at him. Ginny had to hide a smile as Dean lost his composure.

“We’ll let you get back to work,” Ginny said with a smile. She and Fleur headed back out onto Diagon Alley.

Harry laughed and helped Seamus up off the mat. They were practicing apprehending suspects using binding spells. It was difficult at first, but getting easier each time they practiced it.

“I can’t believe me luck,” Seamus groused. “Of course I get paired up with you. Why couldn’t I get paired with Corner over there? He doesn’t hit his partner every time.”

Harry laughed at Seamus’s complaining. “If I didn’t hit you every time you’d be laughing at my poor aim.”

“That’s probably true,” Seamus admitted laughing.

He smiled with satisfaction as he managed to get Harry. The first time he’d cast a spell at Harry and he’d simply stepped aside, Seamus had been shocked. Ducking and dodging spells wasn’t something that had ever been taught. Auror Williamson who was overseeing the class had applauded Harry’s initiative. Since then all of the trainees were trying to dodge spells, but it was hard to remember each time. The Quidditch players, Harry and Katie, had the best luck, but Seamus felt he was coming along well.

Class let out in the late afternoon and as they headed out in the beautiful sunshine, Seamus looked at Harry, “Want to check in at Diagon Alley?”

“Sure,” Harry agreed easily. “I hope Dean didn’t run into any problems at the shop.”

“He’s thrilled to have the job,” Seamus said. “He loves drawing, but he’s never been sure how he would be able to do it for a living.” He slanted a look over at Harry. “I can’t wait for a pizza parlour to open on Diagon Alley.”

“I know,” Harry replied with a laugh. “You should have seen Ron and Charlie the first time we took them out for pizza. I think they each demolished their own pizza.”

Seamus, having watched Ron eat for years, was not at all surprised. When the two arrived at the new place, they were surprised to find all of the Weasley brothers there as well as Dean.

Harry looked around at the walls in amazement. “Damn, Dean this is brilliant.”

“Thanks,” Dean said as he looked around proudly. “I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out.”

When Harry reached the drawing of the Hungarian Horntail, to Dean’s relief, Harry started laughing. “Thanks, mate. At least you didn’t draw me dangling from its mouth or something.”

Harry stared at the tribute to Cedric for a long minute. “That’s really good.”

“It was Fleur’s idea,” Bill said as he came up behind Harry. Harry smiled. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Ginny and Fleur were here earlier,” Dean explained. “Ginny didn’t think you’d mind the additions to the Horntail and Fleur suggested the tribute to Cedric.”

“It looks great in here,” Seamus said. The booths and tables had gone up where Dean had finished painting. “How long will it take you to finish?”

“Another couple of days,” Dean said. “I’ll be done before it’s time to head back to school.”

“Could you draw something for me?” Charlie asked as he finished perusing all of the dragons on the walls. “Your eye for detail is fantastic.”

“Sure,” Dean said, pleased with the compliment. “What do you want?”

Charlie paused for a minute before he said, “I want to get a tattoo to honour Fred.”

There was a momentarily silence before George asked, “What would you get?”

Charlie smiled a touch sadly. “My favourite memories of Fred are playing Quidditch with you guys. I’m not exactly certain, but I’d like to get his name over a broom and the dates underneath.”

Grabbing a sheet of parchment, Dean started sketching. He looked up and asked, “When was he born?”

“1 April 1978,” all of the brothers responded in unison.

Dean smiled, “Should have known.”

“Everyone always says that,” George remarked with a sad smile.

After a few minutes, Dean handed the drawing to Charlie. “Like this?”

Charlie swallowed hard and nodded as he looked at the parchment in his hand. George stared at the parchment for another minute before he said, “Will you draw one for me?”

Looking around at the faces of the Weasley brothers, Dean sat down at one of the tables and pulled a sheaf of parchment in front of him. He knew how important this was to them and he didn’t want to make any mistakes.

“Canary creams were his favourite wheeze,” George said with a sad smile. “I like Charlie’s basic design, but with a Canary Cream in the centre instead of a broom.”

After a few moments, Dean handed the parchment to George. Bill cleared his throat. “I like Charlie’s design, but with a wand and broom crossed.”

Nodding, Dean made the requested changes. When he was done he handed the parchment to Bill and looked expectantly at the other two. Percy and Ron exchanged looks, but neither of them said anything.

Harry cleared his throat. “Dean, can you draw a stag and black dog in front of a full moon?”

Raising an eyebrow, Dean asked, “A stag like your Patronus?”

“Yes, that was my dad’s Animagus form and the dog was my godfather’s form,” Harry explained.

Understanding seemed to light on Dean’s face. “The dog who saw you off at King’s Cross a few years back?”

Harry laughed, “Yes, that was Sirius. Underneath could you write ‘Mischief Managed?’”

“Can you cast your Patronus for me?”

“Expecto Patronum!” Harry smiled as Prongs raced around the shop before stopping in front of Harry. He stood in place for moment before disappearing.

Dean created the scene Harry requested and Harry took it with a smile. He glanced at Ron and could tell he was still on the fence so he asked, “I hate to ask for something else, but I’d like something for my mum. I’m not exactly sure what.”

He looked expectantly at Dean, hoping he had some ideas. Dean started drawing and after a few minutes he handed Harry a picture of a lily with a banner across it that read Mum. To Harry’s surprise, he had to blink back tears. He smiled at his former roommate. “This is great, Dean.”

“Do you want me to add dates?” Dean asked. Harry looked at the two drawings before nodding. “Not on the one for my dad and Sirius, but under my mum’s could you put 1960 — 1981?”

“Of course, mate,” Dean said as he made the requested additions.

“Damn, your mum was only 21?” Charlie asked. “It just always seemed like she was larger than life giving her life for her son. She was younger than me.”

“I think she must have been pretty amazing,” Harry said.

Seamus cleared his throat. “I haven’t lost anyone close to me, but could you draw something to commemorate the battle and put the date — 2 May, 1998 underneath?”

Nodding thoughtfully, Dean stared at the parchment for a few minutes. While Dean started sketching, Charlie had pulled out glasses and was pouring everyone a glass of amber liquid. Harry took his a bit cautiously, he knew it was alcohol, but couldn’t tell what it was. He took a sip and felt the velvety warmth traveling down his throat. It reminded him of the mead Professor Dumbledore had served at the Dursleys’ house.

He absently took another sip as memories of his fallen Headmaster flashed through his head. He sighed, so many had been lost. Thoughts of the Dursleys were always closely linked to thoughts of Hedwig. Harry stared at the dragon nearest him, blinking suddenly. He still hadn’t replaced her although he knew he should as he would need to be able to send Ginny messages during the school year. He took another gulp of the mead to try to rid himself of his melancholy thoughts. He certainly didn’t want to start thinking about being apart from Ginny for the next year.

“What are you thinking about?”

Looking up, Harry saw his best mate standing there. With a wan smile Harry said, “Hedwig. I was just realizing that I need to get a new owl, but I don’t want to replace her.”

“Was that your owl?” Charlie asked as he joined in the conversation. “She was a beautiful bird. Snowy owl, right?”

Harry smiled. “She was amazing. Hagrid gave her to me for my 11th birthday. She’s the only pet I’ve ever had and she was…she was a reminder of the wizarding world while I was stuck at my relatives’ every year.”

Charlie nodded as he added a bit more alcohol to Harry’s glass. “Don’t think of it as replacing her, because obviously you can never replace her. Pets are wonderful, but unfortunately many of them have shorter life spans than we do.”

“Or they take a Killing Curse meant for their owner,” Harry said slightly bitterly.

“Damn, that’s how she died?”

Harry nodded. “It was the night we left my relatives’ house. She was hit by a Killing Curse and then I had to blow up the sidecar she was in so I couldn’t even bury her or anything.”

“That’s rough,” Charlie said sympathetically.

Harry blushed as he looked at the two brothers. “Sorry, I’m going on about an owl when you’ve lost so much more.”

Charlie clapped him on the arm. “Mate, a loss is a loss. It might be an owl or a brother or a parent. They all need to be mourned.”

“Do you think Hedwig would mind if I got another owl?” Harry asked. As soon as he said it, he wished he could have the question back. It sounded rather stupid.

“I don’t think so,” Charlie said seriously. “She seems like a great little owl. I think sometime in the next two weeks you should take your lovely fiancée to the Owl Emporium and together pick out a new owl for the two of you.”

Harry brightened up. “That’s a great idea.”

“I’m full of great ideas,” Charlie laughed as he topped off everyone’s glasses.

By that time, Dean had a drawing for Seamus. It was one of the Hogwarts’ suits of armour holding a shield with the Hogwarts’ crest on it. Above the knight was the date — 2 May, 1998 and below the knight was the Hogwarts’ motto - Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus. He held it out to Seamus.

“Dean, that’s brilliant,” Seamus exclaimed as he looked over the design. “That will be perfect.”

“Thanks,” Dean said a bit bashfully. He looked at the other two Weasley brothers. “Have you two decided if you want anything?”

Ron spoke up a bit hesitantly. “I like the basic design that my brothers have, but with Quidditch rings in the centre. I always played keeper for them so it seems appropriate.”

Bill clapped Ron on the shoulder while Dean started sketching. A few moments later, Ron was holding his own sketch. Percy finally spoke up. “I will keep with the same basic design, but could you put an owl holding a red envelope in the centre? Fred always said I was most likely to send him a howler.”

George started laughing while the other brothers chuckled as well. Dean smiled as he drew the design. When he was finished he looked at the brothers. “So are you going to get them?”

“We should do it now,” Bill said. “We’ll all go together.” He must have seen the uncertainty on Seamus’s and Dean’s faces. “I’d like if the two of you could come with us. We all fought together.”

“I’d like that,” Dean said. “I know a great shop in central London. A friend of my cousin owns it and my cousin works there.”

Harry sent a message off to Ginny and told her they’d be in Muggle London. She responded promptly and said she and Fleur would have dinner at the Burrow. The group was in high spirits as they headed to the tattoo shop. Charlie and Seamus had each filled up a flask and they were being passed around the group.

Dean’s cousin was a bit overwhelmed at the number of people in the group, but he soon recruited several other tattoo artists to help. Charlie, Bill and surprisingly Seamus were the first up and seemed to be doing well. Harry had to laugh at Seamus’s outrageous flirting. He knew he could never be like that and he was glad that he had Ginny in his life.

Harry noticed that Ron was still looking a bit uncertain, so he headed over to talk to his best mate.

“Ron,” he greeted him. The two were sitting closest to Charlie who was busy flirting with the rather pretty Asian girl doing his tattoo. “So you really are going to do this?”

“Of course,” Ron replied a bit roughly. “We’re all doing it. I’m not going to back down.” Turning a speculative eye on his best mate he asked, “Why? You’re not going to chicken out are you?”

“No,” Harry admitted. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Sirius had some tattoos and he said my dad had one as well.” He shrugged. “It just seems like the right thing to do.”

“Your dad had a tattoo?”

Harry nodded, “From the way Sirius described it, it sounds rather like what Dean drew for me except it said ‘Lily’ instead of ‘Mum’.”

“I’ve never really thought of a dad having a tattoo,” Ron said slowly. “I think my mum would kill my dad if he got a tattoo.”

Shrugging, Harry replied, “Well, as Charlie pointed out, they were only 21 when they died.” He glanced over at his friend. “Are you worried what Hermione will think?”

“No,” Ron burst out. His ears were glowing red and Harry just looked at him for a minute. Ron sighed. “Maybe. I don’t know what she’ll think. She’s never really said anything. Aren’t you worried about what Ginny will say?”

Harry shook his head. “No, we’ve talked about it. She actually helped me come up with the design for the one honouring my dad and Sirius.” He smiled. “Why are you so surprised? She was teasing me about getting a Hungarian Horntail for the longest time.”

Ron laughed. “I forgot about that.”

When it was Harry’s turn, he decided the tattoo for his mum would go on his arm while the tattoo for his dad and Sirius went on the right side of his chest. He took off his shirt a bit self-consciously. He hated the way the scar from the locket and the lightning bolt scar from the second Killing Curse scared up his chest. He knew that Ginny didn’t care, but as he saw the unscarred chests of his friends, he felt a bit battered.

Dean had asked his cousin, Derek, to tattoo Harry. The cousins had been very close growing up and Derek was aware of the wizarding world. Derek quickly set Harry at ease as he asked a few questions before he started the tattooing process. Harry was rather surprised to discover that it didn’t hurt nearly as much as he’d been concerned about.

As Derek started tattooing him, he asked, “Can you explain the stag and dog tattoo? I understand the tattoo for your mum, but I’m curious about the other one.”

Looking around, Harry was sure no one could overhear them. “My dad and his best friend learned how to turn into an animal. Those are the forms they took when they became animals.”

“Really?” Derek looked interested. “Dean told me about his professor who could turn into a cat, I thought maybe he was pulling my leg.”

“No,” Harry laughed. “Professor McGonagall really can turn into a cat. It’s a rather uncommon ability, but my dad and my godfather were really good students and learned how to do it while they were in school.”

“That’s amazing,” Derek said sincerely. “Dean’s told me some amazing stories over the years. I have to admit I’m a bit jealous.”

As Harry talked to Derek, he marvelled at how accepting Derek was of magic and the wizarding world. Dean was the only magical person in his family, but they accepted his magical ability just as easily as they accepted his artistic ability. Harry found himself a bit jealous of his friend. He wondered what it would have been like if Dudley had accepted him instead of hating and being scared of him.

The tattoo for his mother was on his right upper arm. Derek had chosen a pinkish-purple colour for the lily and the banner with Mum on it was a cream and golden colour. The tattoo for his dad and Sirius was drawn in more muted colours. Harry was pleased with the results. He admired both of the tattoos before looking around the shop. Percy was finishing with his tattoo, but the rest of their group had finished getting their tattoos. Dean had decided to get the same tattoo he’d designed for Seamus.

Harry noticed him carefully tucking away the drawing of the tattoo. With a smile, Dean said, “I think this might become rather popular, so I thought I’d keep the drawing.”

“I think so too,” George said a bit sadly. “Lee and Oliver both mentioned getting something done to commemorate everything. It’s a good design.”

“Thanks,” Dean said a bit bashfully.

Once everyone had their tattoos, no one wanted to see the night end so abruptly. They ended up at the Leaky Cauldron.

Bill went to the bar and came back with glasses of slightly smoking liquid for everyone. Once everyone had their glass, Bill raised his. “To all of those we lost.”

Harry raised his glass thinking most keenly about his parents and godfather. He could still feel the alcohol he’d drank earlier in the night, but he downed the Firewhiskey. It went down much more smoothly than the night Mad-Eye and Hedwig died.

Amidst much laughter, the brothers took turns telling stories about Fred. Unlike Fred’s funeral when everyone was sad and tearful, this was much more upbeat. Harry shared how he met the twins when they helped him get his trunk on the train before his first year. He took some teasing about Ginny wanting to meet him, but he didn’t mind. Everything somehow seemed a bit funnier and Harry felt nice and relaxed.

Bill approached him with a tray of sandwiches. “Here, Harry, I think you should have one of these.”

Feeling hungry suddenly, he took two sandwiches from the top of the stack. “Thanks, Bill.”

As Harry kept drinking, he was having fun with his friends and enjoying himself. He didn’t notice his friends turning away girl after girl trying to approach him. After a while, Harry excused himself and headed to the loo. He was surprised to find how unsteady he was on his feet.

“Hi, Harry.”

Turning, Harry saw two blonde girls who were dressed in rather tight and low cut dresses. He could see way more of the girls than he wanted to see. Groaning a bit internally, he said, “Hi.”

As he turned to head into the loo, he felt a hand on his arm. Pulling his arm away he turned back to see the girls pressed closer to him. Harry could feel one of the girl’s breasts pressed into his arm. It was obvious what both of them were offering. “Do you want to party with us Harry?” We can show you a really good time.”

“No, thank you,” Harry replied tersely. “I’m having a good time and I have a fiancée.”

Pulling away, Harry pushed into the bathroom waiting for a minute to make sure they weren’t going to burst into the bathroom. As he stood in front of the urinal, the door opened. He quickly finished up and fixed his clothes before turning around. He could only imagine the Prophet getting a hold of a picture of him with his pants down.

Standing in front of him were not the two girls, but two rather rough looking men. They were probably in their late twenties and they looked rather rough. They were just standing there watching him. Harry watched them a bit uneasily and made sure he could reach his wand as he went to wash his hands.

“You’re Potter, aren’t you?”

Harry ignored the comment as he dried his hands, but it didn’t seem to matter. The second man said, “I thought Potter would be older, tougher. You’re nothing but a damn kid. I bet ya didn’t even do nothing to the Dark Lord.”

“Yeah, I bet ya were just a pretty boy to use in the papers,” the first man said eyeing Harry. “A little boy like you couldn’t hurt the greatest wizard of our time.”

“Voldemort was not the greatest wizard of our time,” Harry said angrily.

The two men laughed. One of the men had edged closer to Harry and swung at him from the side. Years of living with the Dursleys had sharpened Harry’s reflexes and even alcohol couldn’t completely dull them. Ducking, Harry went on the offensive and the first man went down. Harry wasn’t quite as lucky in avoiding the second man. A fist caught him unaware and Harry groaned, hoping his nose wasn’t broken.

Harry was able to put enough distance between himself and his attackers. Pulling his wand, he secured the two men and took their wands. Suddenly the door burst open. Harry had to stop himself from attacking Bill and Charlie.

“Shite!” Charlie yelled when he saw the two men on the floor. The hand towels normally stacked near the sink were scattered all over the floor, the soap dispenser had been ripped off the wall, and blood dripping from Harry’s nose created a huge mess.

“Are you okay?” Bill asked as he hurried over to the younger man.

Harry nodded. He gestured towards the two men. “They were looking for a fight. I tried to avoid them, but…”

Clapping Harry on the shoulder, Bill said, “We thought it was taking a long time. Dean mentioned something about girls following you, but we didn’t see these two.”

A combination of the alcohol and the draining of the adrenalin from the fight caused Harry to stumble. Bill quickly wrapped an arm around him and the brothers helped Harry back out to the main bar and into a secluded booth. After filling in the others, Percy talked to Tom, the bartender, and contacted the Ministry.

He returned to the table with a bowl of water and a flannel. Bill, in full oldest brother mode, cleaned the blood off Harry’s face and healed his broken nose.

Dean handed Harry another glass of Firewhiskey. “Damn, I thought you’d gotten trapped by the Greengrass sisters. I didn’t see those yobs sneaking back there.”

“Greengrass sisters?” Harry asked a bit hazily. “Where do I know that name?”

“Old man Greengrass was a crony of Malfoy, but we haven’t found anything to link him to being a Death Eater,” Seamus put in. “Daphne is our year, her sister Astoria is a year or two younger.”

“I don’t remember them,” Harry said after a minute. He sighed. “I wish Ginny was here.”

Seamus laughed. “You always wish Ginny was here.”

Harry had to admit that was true. Ron dropped down into the seat next to him. “All right, mate?”

“Yeah,” Harry sighed. “I hate that I can’t even go out for a drink without some tosser thinking they can take me on.”

“Are you alright, Harry?”

Harry looked up in surprise to see the Minister for Magic standing over him with Gawain Robards hovering in the background. “Kingsley, what did they bother you for? I’m fine. Just some yobs thinking they were tougher than me.” He blushed slightly. “I’m a bit pissed so my reaction time was off a bit. I should have been able to get out of there without pulling my wand.”

“Harry, you are allowed to go out drinking with your mates,” Kingsley chided him gently. “Do you know who they are?”

Harry shook his head. “No, they just started with the whole ‘you don’t look so tough’ or ‘you didn’t really kill the Dark Lord’ - that kind of crap. I’m pretty sure they aren’t real Death Eaters or they joined after Tom lowered his standards.”

Kingsley smiled at the casual way Harry referred to Voldemort and nodded. “Okay, Harry. Why don’t you boys head home? We’ll take care of this.”

Standing a bit shakily, Harry said, “Thanks, Kingsley. Sorry for the trouble.”

“No problem,” Kingsley said with a smile.

Harry wanted to Apparate home, but Bill overrode him and Harry found himself flooing to the Burrow. As he spilled into the darkened kitchen, Harry felt his stomach lurch and the amount of alcohol he’d drank that night made itself known. Groaning, Harry stumbled over to the table, joining his friends who didn’t look much better than him. Harry was glad he’d moved out of the way as Ron vomited as he exited the floo. Charlie helped his youngest brother upstairs after cleaning up the mess.

“Harry, what happened?”

Turning, Harry watched Ginny float into the kitchen. She was dressed for bed in a thin cotton nightdress over which she’d hastily thrown her worn dressing gown. He smiled stupidly at her as she approached him. She looked like an angel.

“Hi Ginny,” he said with a smile. Reaching up he pulled a length of her hair. “You look really pretty.”

Laughter broke out in the kitchen and although he couldn’t quite figure out what was so funny, Harry joined in. Ginny smiled as she shook her head. Leaning down she kissed him gently and stood behind him with her hand on his shoulder.

Bill quickly filled her in on what had happened at the Leaky Cauldron. “I think he had a lot more to drink than I realized.”

“Thanks for looking out for him,” Ginny said. Reaching out her hand, she helped Harry up. “Come on, love. Let’s get you tucked in.”

By the time they reached his room, Harry was not feeling very well. Ginny eyed him sympathetically for a minute. “Sweetie, get dressed for bed. I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Okay,” Harry said. He pulled off his clothes and tossed them on the floor. He suddenly realized that he wasn’t staying here anymore. The thought crossed his mind that he should get back to Grimmauld Place, but that seemed like a lot of work all of a sudden. Shrugging, he climbed into bed in just his boxers.

Ginny re-entered a few minutes later carrying a vial of potion. Before she could say anything, Harry said, “Gin, I’m not supposed to be here. Remember? Your mum didn’t want me to be here.”

“It’s okay, love,” Ginny said soothingly. “Dad won’t mind you spending the night.” She handed him the vial of potion. “Drink this, it will help you feel better.”

“Are you sure?” Harry eyed the vial sceptically. “I don’t feel so good.”

She giggled. “I’m sure.”

Trusting her, Harry swallowed the potion and made a face at the taste. He lay his head down on the pillow and after a moment, he started feeling better. Turning, he looked over at his fiancée. “Thanks for looking out for me.”

“I love you,” Ginny whispered as she kissed him gently. She joined him in the bed and lay on her side up on her elbow looking down at him. She brushed his hair out of his face before letting her eyes wander down his chest. “I really like your tattoos, love.”

Harry smiled opening his eyes. “Thanks, baby.”

Looking up at her, he said, “I wish you were with us. I had fun with your brothers, but I wish you were there.” He yawned and coloured slightly. “I’m tired.”

“Go to sleep, love.”

“I can’t believe they all went out drinking and got tattoos,” Hermione fussed as the two girls walked down Diagon Alley. “How irresponsible!”

“Lighten up,” Ginny laughed. “It’s not like they got drunk and all got naughty tattoos or something. Charlie’s been talking about it for a while and so has Harry.”

“Really?” Hermione was surprised. “I just never thought of Harry as a person who would ever get a tattoo.”

“Since he heard about his dad’s tattoo, I think he wanted to get one,” Ginny said. “Sirius would have taken him to get one once he turned 16, but of course he was gone by Harry’s 16th birthday. Harry told me that he has a lot scars that he didn’t have any choice in so he wants to have something that he decided to put there.”

She giggled, “Besides, I think it’s sexy.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. She glanced over at her friend as they entered the stationery shop. “Have you seen Ron’s?”

Ginny nodded. “My brothers all got theirs on their arm. They all have the same basic design. Fred’s name on top and the dates on the bottom — it’s the centre that changes. Charlie has a broom, Bill a broom and wand crossed, Percy has an owl carrying a howler, George has a Canary Cream, and Ron has Quidditch rings. My dad was really touched that all the boys did that for their brother.”

“Have you thought about getting one?” Hermione asked curiously.

Ginny shrugged. “I’m not against the idea, I just haven’t run into one I want to get. I helped Harry design his tattoo. It is really sweet.”

Hermione couldn’t help but smile. “You really do love him, don’t you?”

“I do.” She laughed. “Poor Harry, he couldn’t even go out with his friends and have fun without finding trouble. Bill told me they kept turning away these girls who were trying to get Harry’s attention. Harry didn’t even notice. The only girls he noticed were those Greengrass slags.”

“Ginny!” Hermione remonstrated.

“What?” Ginny asked unabashed. “They were in tight black dresses with no bras hitting on a guy they know has a girlfriend.”

“No bras?”

“They gave him a bit of a preview,” Ginny said a touch angrily.

“Was Kingsley upset?” Hermione asked. “I can’t believe he was called out over a bar fight.”

“It was a bar fight, but two punks attacked Harry so it caught the attention of Kingsley,” Ginny explained. “Kingsley wasn’t upset, nor was or Mr Robards; they both said Harry did what he had to do and he subdued them with minimal force. Mr Robards was impressed that even pissed Harry was able to get them both down and disarmed.”

“So Harry didn’t get in trouble?”

“Why should he?” Ginny replied. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s of legal age, Hermione. He’s allowed to have a few drinks with friends if he wants to. As long as he doesn’t make a habit of going out drinking, what’s the problem?”

Hermione laughed. “Okay, you have officially argued away all of my complaints. I just heard Ron say he went out drinking and got a tattoo and I thought the worst.”

“I can understand that,” Ginny said as she looked through the different types of parchment. She held up a package of parchment edged with butterflies. “I like this.”

“It is pretty,” Hermione agreed. She picked a parchment edged with chess pieces. “I think Ron will appreciate this better.”

The girls picked up plain parchment for school as well as some new ink. They headed for the counter to pay for their purchases. Hermione looked over at Ginny. “So, I’ve been thinking about what you said and what my mum said as well. I’ve asked Ron out to dinner and I’m going to clear the air about our relationship.”

“That’s a good idea,” Ginny said encouragingly. “Please, please tell him he doesn’t have anything to worry about with Krum. I really don’t understand how the boy can still be so jealous about Krum taking you to one dance almost four years ago.”

“I don’t know,” Hermione sighed. “I used to think it was a good sign that he was so jealous, but now…he even gets jealous of Harry sometimes.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “You really need to talk to him.”

Ron pushed his plate back and smiled at Hermione. “This was a really good idea, Hermione.”

She blushed prettily. “Thank you, my dad recommended the restaurant.”

Before she could say anything else, the waiter approached to ask if they wanted to order dessert. After consulting the menu, Ron ordered a chocolate torte while Hermione chose a slice of apple pie.

Once the waiter left, Hermione seemed to draw up her courage. She looked up at Ron and said, “I need to talk to you about something.”

Studying her, Ron felt a twinge of unease. “Of course.”

“During our sixth year, I’d asked you to go to Professor Slughorn’s party with me,” Hermione began. “I thought everything was going well and suddenly you were snogging Lavender all over the place. What happened?”

Ron blushed and looked down at the table miserably. “I’m so sorry, Hermione. I know I acted like a total prat.”

“Why?” Hermione asked. “Is it because she’s prettier than me?”

“What?” Ron looked up in surprise. “No, no.” He sighed. “I got in a fight with Ginny. I found her snogging Dean and I thought she was acting like a bit of a tart. She got mad at me and said it was only because I had so little experience snogging that I was upset when other people did it. She said that everyone had more experience than me. Harry had snogged Cho and you…you had snogged Krum.”

“What?” Hermione looked at him in shock. That was the last thing she expected to hear.

Ron shrugged as he played with his serviette nervously. “I got so angry and so jealous,” he said miserably. “Why would you even look at me when you had someone rich and famous like Krum? I didn’t know what to do or what to say. Lavender approached me after the first Quidditch game. She…she didn’t push me or challenge me. I never felt like I wasn’t good enough for her. She’s not as pretty as you or as smart as you, I guess I kind of used her.”

“Wait so all of this was because Ginny made some stupid comment?” Hermione fumed.

Ron nodded. He chanced a look at her. “I’m really sorry, Hermione. I know I hurt you and I didn’t mean to. I was just so hurt and angry.”

“No, I understand,” Hermione said. “I should have been…I did kiss Viktor, but I thought that was private. I was…I was shocked and amazed that someone older than me could be interested in me. We didn’t have that much in common, but we had fun. I wasn’t in love with him or anything like that, I was just flattered that an older, worldlier person was interested in me. It never went further than that.”

“So you aren’t interested in him?” Ron asked hopefully.

“No,” Hermione responded firmly. “We’re just friends. We’ve written back and forth, he’s interesting to talk to, but he’s not interested in me like that anymore either.”

Their desserts interrupted the conversation for a few minutes. Hermione turned everything over in her mind.

“What are you thinking?” Ron asked a touch nervously.

“I’m rather angry with Ginny,” Hermione replied candidly. “If she’d have kept her mouth shut…that was a horrible time for me. Christmas was awful. To think it could have all been avoided if Ginny had just kept her mouth shut.”

Ron toyed with his fork and now empty plate. “I don’t know that it’s all Ginny’s fault. I mean she shouldn’t have said anything, but I shouldn’t have reacted like I did. I should have talked to you, but I was hurt and I figured if you could snog Krum then I could snog Lavender and you couldn’t complain. It was stupid and immature.”

Hermione sighed as she shared her slice of pie with Ron. “I guess. I just…I didn’t know what I’d done wrong. It seemed like we were getting close and suddenly everything had fallen apart. Why didn’t Harry or Ginny tell me?”

“What would they have told you? That I was being an immature prat?” Ron asked reasonably. “If she hadn’t said anything…I don’t know what would have happened. Once I broke up with Lavender I really wanted to say something to you, but I still was too nervous.” He looked down at the table. “I…Hermione, I know I’m not good enough for you. I’m just a stupid kid you went to school with and I’m from a poor family. Most of what I own is second hand. I look at your parents’ house and know that I could never belong in a place like that.”

“No, no, Ron.” Hermione stared at him in amazement. “You are…you are one of my best friends in the whole world. You are so brave. I still remember how brave you were when we went after the Philosopher’s Stone and you were so brave when you rescued me from the Troll. I don’t care about money or anything like that.”

She was so surprised at what he’d said she knew she had to ask him. “Do you know what my biggest fear is?”

He shook his head. She bit her lip and looked at him with big eyes. “I’m afraid you’re going to decide you don’t like my bossiness and you’ll find someone prettier than me or someone you don’t fight with as much. I hate that you’re going to be in London all year while I’m at school. What if you find some pretty blonde who doesn’t row with you all the time?”

He shook his head frantically. “No, no, Hermione. I promise. I won’t leave you behind again. I…the locket was so horrible for me because I kept hearing how you and Harry would be happier without me. Why would you look at me if Harry was there — that kind of thing. I worry that you’ll find someone smarter than me and someone who makes you happy.”

Hermione laughed. “So we’re both worried about the same kind of thing, right?”

“I guess so,” Ron said after thinking it over. “Hermione, I’m so happy you want to date me that I don’t want to look at other girls.”

Hermione beamed. “I’ve waited for you this long. I’m not going to just throw it all away.”

Ron blushed, but smiled happily. “We’ll be fine. I’ll try to be good about writing to you and I’ll come see you during Hogsmeade weekends.”

The two left the restaurant, happy and newly secure in their relationship.

Back to index

Chapter 13: Chapter 13 The End of the Summer

Author's Notes: Thanks to my betas StephanieO and seekers_destiny! Thanks so much for the reviews and for the Silver Trinket Nominations :)

She could see all the details clearly. She watched Hagrid carrying the clearly dead and bloodied body of the love of her life out of the Forbidden Forest with that monster gloating all the while. Her scream blended in with the screams of the others defending the castle. This time, Harry didn’t come back to life. As Ginny watched in horror, Voldemort cast one Unforgivable after another at her fiancé. Each time he landed on the stone courtyard, the sound of broken bones was audible and the Death Eaters jeered.

She woke stifling a scream. Sitting up, she reached over to Harry’s side of the bed to find it empty. With tears streaming down her face, she remembered that she had stayed at the Burrow tonight at her father’s request. Harry was at Grimmauld Place.

Without even pausing to think about it, Ginny pulled on her dressing gown and hurried down to the kitchen. She quickly lit the fire and threw in a handful of Floo powder and called out, “12 Grimmauld Place!”

She hurried through the dark kitchen and up the stairs, not stopping until she reached Harry’s room. Pausing outside the door, she laid her hand on the warm wooden door catching her breath. She opened the door and her sense of panic left as she saw her fiancé sleeping.
Even though she’d known he was fine, something wouldn’t let her relax until she saw him with her own eyes. She neared the bed and smiled as she watched him sleeping. He was lying on his stomach, facing the door.

As she watched, he raised his head. “Gin?”

Sitting up a bit, he held up the covers so she could climb in. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

Climbing into the bed, she snuggled up close to his warmth. “I had a nightmare and you weren’t there and I kept seeing you dead and…well I just had to see you.”

Wrapping his arms around her tightly he whispered, “I’m fine, baby. Not hurt at all.”

He must have been able to feel the shivers in her body and the tears were hard to disguise. Harry held her tightly and dropped kisses on her head all the while reassuring her that he was fine and in one piece.

Once she had calmed down, she rested quietly in his arms. “I was so scared.”

“I know, baby,” he said. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.”

“I haven’t had a bad nightmare like that in a few weeks,” Ginny said. “What am I going to do when I’m at Hogwarts?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted after a minute. “I’ll see if we can think of something.”

She smiled up at him and kissed him gently. “Thank you, love.”

Together they lay back down on his bed, Ginny with her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes. Normally she wouldn’t be able to sleep after a nightmare, but she was always able to sleep in Harry’s arms.

The next time she woke up, she felt much warmer and much calmer. Turning she looked at her still sleeping fiancé. Running her hand through his hair, she just watched him sleep. It was amazing to her that just looking at him could calm her so much.

The thought of spending the next three months apart was something she didn’t want to spend a lot of time contemplating. She smiled when he leaned into her hand. At least this year they would be able to write and see each other every week.

Reluctantly she got out of bed and headed for the loo. After using the bathroom, she washed her hands and brushed out her hair. As she headed back towards the bed, a rather wicked thought crossed her mind. She took off her dressing gown and stripped off her night shirt.
Climbing back into bed, she snuggled up close to him and started kissing her way down his neck. She liked the fact that he was sleeping in just a pair of sleeping pants. As she ran her hands down his body, his eyes fluttered open.

With a smile she leaned up and kissed him deeply before working her way down his body. She proceeded to give him a very enthusiastic thank you for being there for her.

“You’ll eventually need to wipe that smile off your face,” Ginny teased him.

He shook his head. “I really don’t think so.” Pulling her close he kissed her rather thoroughly. “I love you and that was truly amazing this morning.”

Ginny giggled. “I guess my reading trashy romance novels my mum doesn’t approve of is paying off.”

“Maybe I should start reading them,” Harry said as he linked hands with her.

“Maybe so,” she teased. “You can learn all sorts of interesting things in romance novels.”

The two kept up their teasing banter all the way to the Leaky Cauldron. When they arrived at the entrance, Harry sighed. He really preferred navigating in the Muggle world these days.

“It will be okay,” Ginny said as she kissed him.

Together they headed onto Diagon Alley. Harry slowed as they stood outside of Eeylops Owl Emporium. Ginny squeezed his hand as they stood there for a moment. He smiled down at her. “Are you ready to get an owl?”

The owl emporium was rather crowded. Many owls had either been wounded or abandoned over the past year, the clerk explained. The lights in the shop were kept dim for the owls, so in some ways it was like walking into a cave full of owls. There must have been some sort of magic embedded in the floor because there was no evidence of owl droppings on the floor.

Ginny was entranced by the variety of owls available. Some of the owls were flying around the shop, some were sleeping on perches, and a few were in cages. There were owls of all shapes and sizes from a large, haughty looking eagle owl to a tiny Scops owl that reminded her of Pigwidgeon.

Harry made a gasping sound and Ginny turned to see a tiny white owl with black tipped feathers in front of them. She quickly looked up at Harry and to her surprise, he was smiling.

He reached out to the little owl. “Hi there, little owl.”

The owl seemed to look at him for a minute before hopping closer to him. Harry gently ran his finger down the back of the owl. He looked down at Ginny who smiled. He asked, “What do you think?”

“I think she’s cute,” Ginny said softly.

Harry nodded and gestured to the clerk. The clerk smiled when he saw what had caught their attention. “Oh, the baby snowy. She’s a beauty. We didn’t think she was going to make it. Someone brought her in after the tree her nest was in was destroyed. She was only a few weeks old at the time.”

“She’s perfect,” Harry said with a smile.

The clerk laughed. “She certainly seems taken with you. Another customer was looking at her last week and she wouldn’t hold still for him. He chose another owl.”

Harry laughed and bent down to look at the owl. “Were you waiting for us?”

The little owl gave a hoot and Harry and Ginny started laughing. Harry straightened up. “That seals it; she was just waiting for us to come get her.”

The clerk took the owl up to get the paperwork together and put the bird into a carrier. Harry grabbed some food and treats and went to find Ginny. She had already picked out two perches and was looking for a cage. Harry found her looking at a pretty purple metal cage with a decorative metal flower design on the outside.

“Is that the one you want?”

She jumped slightly. “Oh, no, we can get that one.” Harry followed her gesture and saw a standard white bird cage.

“Don’t be silly,” Harry said. “This one is much nicer, get it.”

“It’s over 12 Galleons,” she said regretfully.

“Ginny, what’s the point in having so much money if I never spend it?” Harry asked teasingly. “It’s only 12 Galleons. Get the purple one, I know you want it.”

Ginny looked between him and the bird cage before she grinned. “Okay, it is pretty.”

They carried everything up to the counter and set it down. The clerk started to ring everything up when he realized who he was waiting on. He gasped, “Harry Potter?”

With a bit of a sigh, Harry said, “Yes, I’m Harry.”

“I’m Wyatt,” the man said. “I…Thank you for all you did. My mum was scheduled to go before the Muggle-born Commission in the middle of May. I can only imagine what would have happened if she had to go before them.”

Wyatt tore up the receipt he’d started writing up. “Please, this is on me.”

“No,” Harry tried to protest.

“Please let me do this,” Wyatt said quietly. “I’m not a fighter and I tried to do what I could to help those fighting, but it wasn’t much. This is my way of saying thank you for saving our way of life.”

Harry glanced down at Ginny before he said, “Thank you, Wyatt. I really appreciate it.”

Reaching out, Harry shook Wyatt’s hand before accepting the carrier with the owl. Wyatt bagged up the rest of the things they were going to purchase. Ginny shrank the packages and the couple left the emporium.

Ginny smiled up at Harry. “I’m very proud of you.”

He blushed. “I hate that people want to do that kind of thing for me, but Kingsley pointed out that it is their way of saying thank you and if I refuse it’s rather churlish behaviour. I just don’t want people to feel they have to give me things or anything like that. I’d be more than happy to pay.”

“I know you would,” Ginny said. “I know it’s hard on you, but you handled that much better than you used to.”

He laughed. “Maybe I’m growing up a bit.”

By this time they’d reached the Leaky Cauldron. Ginny looked around. “I guess we should take the Floo back rather than walk.”

Harry nodded. “I think we might be a bit conspicuous carrying a baby owl through the streets of London.”

The two returned to Grimmauld Place in good spirits. Harry let the baby owl out of the carrier and set up one of the perches in his room. As they watched the owl fly around the room, Harry said, “We need a name for her.”

“How about the name Athena?” Ginny said. “She was always associated with owls.”

“Athena,” Harry said as he tested the name out. He looked over at the bird. “Do you like the name, Athena, girl?”

The baby bird hooted and the young couple laughed. Harry said, “I guess that means she likes it. Athena it is.”

Ginny tightened her hold on Harry’s hand as the two of them headed down to the hall to the small conference room where the Weasley family conference had been held just a few weeks before. The couple had received a letter from Mrs Weasley asking to meet them.

When they reached the door to the conference room, Ginny stopped. She looked up at Harry. “I love you. Just don’t forget that.”

He smiled down at her. “I know, I love you, too.”

Ginny knocked on the door and her father opened it. She smiled as he swept her into a hug. “You look lovely, Ginny girl.”

“Thanks, Daddy.”

Mr Weasley shook Harry’s hand. “Thank you for coming.”

Harry nodded and followed his future father-in-law into the room. Mrs Weasley was sitting in an armchair and Harry nodded to her before taking a seat in one of the two chairs set up opposite of the pair of armchairs in which the older couple were sitting.

“Harry, Ginny, thank you for coming,” Mrs Weasley began. “I’d like to apologize for the way I reacted at your birthday dinner.”

Ginny merely nodded at her mother and reached for Harry’s hand. Mrs Weasley sighed. “I overreacted and for that I apologize. However this was all rather a shock for me, I hadn’t heard anything about you dating and then you were suddenly getting married.”

“I don’t know why it was a shock,” Ginny replied coolly. “I may not have told you about our relationship at the end of my fifth year, but since…since the end of the war I haven’t tried to hide our relationship.”

“I saw the two of you together and honestly I thought you were spending time together because Ron and Hermione were spending so much time together,” Mrs Weasley explained. She smiled. “They are so sweet together.”

Ginny rolled her eyes at that statement. “We aren’t spending time together because Ron finally got a clue and realized Hermione is a girl. Harry and I have been close friends for a while even before we started dating.”

Mrs Weasley looked between the two of them. “I didn’t mean to insult you or your relationship. Your father and Bill have both been telling me only good things.” She sighed. “I’m just worried that you are rushing into a serious relationship. You are both so young and have so much living to do. Ginny, you are headed back to Hogwarts and who knows where you will end up. Harry, you are already in Auror training in London. You will be meeting a lot of new people and having many new experiences. I don’t want the two of you to jump into a serious relationship only to find you’ve made a mistake in a few years.”

“Why do you assume our relationship is a mistake?” Ginny asked more hurt at this point than angry.

Mrs Weasley looked rather surprised at the question. “Ginny, you are young and you’ve had a crush on Harry forever. I’m afraid that a relationship based on an unrealistic view just won’t last.”

“I don’t have a crush on Harry,” Ginny said angrily. “Why can’t you take me seriously? Did I have a crush on him? Yes, I did when I was a kid. I thought he was a storybook hero come to life, but Mum that was years ago. After…after my first year, I realized that while he is a hero he is also just a boy. He’s moody and noble and would rather play Quidditch than do homework. You act like I think he’s perfect.”

Ginny turned to look at her fiancé who squeezed her hand tightly. “I know he’s not perfect and he knows I’m not perfect, but we work together. He’s listened to me talk about my experiences during the war and he’s helped me see there is something beyond all of that.”

“Mrs Weasley, I don’t know why you don’t approve of our relationship, I really don’t,” Harry said. “It hurts to hear that you are so sure I’ll leave her or break her heart. I won’t. I love Ginny and she’s it for me. Are there other women in the world, of course, but Ginny gets me — she loves me. She doesn’t love me because I’m Harry Potter, she loves me — Harry. Why would I want to give that up or ruin that? Yes other women are throwing themselves at me — I can’t help that. I wish they wouldn’t and I honestly can’t wait until someone else comes and takes my place as most sought after wizard or whatever the hell they’re calling me. I don’t enjoy the attention.”

As Ginny watched her parents exchanged a look. Mrs Weasley managed a smile. “I’m sorry if I’ve upset the two of you. I can’t pretend I’m happy with the way you’ve chosen to conduct yourselves, but I do understand I don’t have much choice in the matter. As everyone keeps reminding me, you are adults. I thought I had raised my daughter to act with more decorum.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Enough Mum. I got that, you don’t approve of me and Harry sleeping together. You don’t approve of my earrings or my clothes — I do understand that. I’m sorry to upset you because honestly that is not my intention. Harry and I are very happy together and we are getting married next Christmas.”

“Have you started planning?” Mrs Weasley asked after a moment.

“No,” Ginny replied with a smile. “Not really, I just thought that Christmas is my favourite time of year and it would be cool to have Christmas trees at my wedding. We know we don’t want anything too big.”

This time Mrs Weasley did smile. “I would love to help you.”

Harry sat mostly quietly while Ginny and her mother talked about weddings and colours. He honestly didn’t care as long as he ended up married to Ginny. At the end of the visit, Harry was happy to see Ginny was much more relaxed. He knew she’d been rather upset at the rift between her and her mother.

Mrs Weasley hugged Ginny and Harry before they left. “Harry, I am sorry for how I acted. You don’t need to move to Grimmauld Place you can stay at the Burrow.”

Harry shook his head. “No thank you. I’m in my own house now. I don’t need to stay someplace that I can get kicked out of for no apparent reason.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Mrs Weasley said earnestly.

“I believe you,” Harry said, “but what happens next week when something happens you don’t like. Will you just kick me out again? Sorry, no. I spent years living where I wasn’t wanted. I will not do that again.”

Once the younger couple had left, Mrs Weasley turned to her husband with tears in her eyes. “What have I done?”

“Molly, you cleared the air with Ginny and that was what you wanted to do, right?”

She nodded as she wiped her eyes on a clean handkerchief. “I didn’t realize how much I hurt Harry.”

Mr Weasley sighed. “I know you didn’t mean to, but you know we’ve talked about our suspicions about how he grew up. I don’t believe he was treated well and I know he’s said his uncle wanted to kick him out more than once. By asking him to leave, you’ve told him that he can stay as long as he follows certain rules. Did we ever do that for anyone else?”

When she made to protest he said, “Even Fleur, who you made sure knew that you didn’t approve of her relationship with our son, was never asked to leave our house. Harry knows that. We’ve said he’s like one of ours, but you just put limits on it. Basically we said to him you’re one of ours if you behave in a certain manner, if not you have to leave. He’s always done what was expected of him and asked nothing in return. He saved Ginny, he saved me, he saved Ron and when you come down to it he saved all of us. He walked out to die for all of us and you tell him he’s not welcome in our house because he fell in love with our daughter.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Mrs Weasley protested.

“That’s what he heard,” her husband replied gently. “You’ve always wanted Ginny to be your sweet little girl to teach all of the secrets of making a house a home. You’ve tried to teach her to sew and knit, you’ve taught her to cook and clean, and you taught her to love. Remember your last year at Hogwarts? We spent every moment we could together. I don’t believe your mother would have thought you acted with proper decorum.”

Blushing, Mrs Weasley shook her head with a laugh. “I know my mother wouldn’t have thought I acted with proper decorum.”

She sighed. “I can’t believe I sound like my mother. I always swore when my baby girl fell in love I would be nothing but supportive. I pictured her coming to me and sharing her crushes and me giving her comfort and support.”

“So what happened?” Mr Weasley asked with a smile on his face.

“I ended up with a tough little girl not the girly-girl I dreamed of,” she admitted ruefully. “When she was little and she had such a crush on the Boy-Who-Lived, I scolded the boys for making fun of her, but I tried not to encourage it. I never imagined they would actually meet; I wanted her to focus on someone a bit more realistic. I was so pleased when she told me she had a date with Neville for the Yule Ball. I thought she’d gotten over her crush on Harry and would move on to other boys.”

“She did, right?” Mr Weasley asked thoughtfully. “I thought she told me she dated that boy Michael in Harry’s Auror class and Dean Thomas.”

“She did, but she never came to me,” Mrs Weasley said sadly. “She never really confided in me the way I’d hoped. She told me she broke up with Michael because he was a sore loser, but she didn’t go into any details. I heard more about Dean from Ron than Ginny, she didn’t want to talk about her relationships. I honestly thought she had a crush on Neville. I never heard a word about Harry.”

Mr Weasley smiled at his wife. “She truly loves him. In her little interactions with him and the interest she shows in him. He loves her as well. I don’t think poor Harry has known much love in his life and he has blossomed under her care and love. I can see it in his eyes as he watches her, he can’t believe his luck.”

“I think you ended up with a perfect mix,” Mr Weasley said. “Ginny can be girly and she knows her household charms, but she loves to play Quidditch and fly. She is Harry’s perfect match.”

Harry headed into the classroom at the Ministry. The one downside about living at Grimmauld Place was the fact that Harry didn’t feel comfortable running around the neighbourhood. He’d been going into the Ministry early and working out there.

As he entered the classroom, Seamus whistled loudly. Harry looked at him strangely.

“What’s that for?”

Seamus laughed. “I guess you haven’t seen the morning paper.”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t get the Daily Prophet, they usually only tells lies about me.”

“This time they have pictures, too,” Seamus said as he unfolded the paper.

On the front page there was a picture of him and Ginny kissing at the river. Harry instantly recognized when the picture had been taken. It had been the afternoon of their visit to see Mrs Weasley. After an overly emotional morning, they had wanted to cut loose and have fun.
Harry groaned as he watched his photographic self undo Ginny’s bikini top. Luckily for him, the photo restarted at that point.


“You didn’t see the photographers?”

Harry shot him a look. “Does it look like I was looking for photographers? I never even thought about it. We always go swimming at that spot in the river. I thought we were still on the Weasley’s property and didn’t even think about privacy charms or anything.”

Evan Choudry, the Charms Master, entered the room calling the class to order. Looking out over the room he said, “Today we are going to review privacy charms and proximity alerts. It seems that some people in the class need a review.”

Harry buried his head in his hands as the rest of the class burst out in laughter.

By lunch time, Harry had recovered his composure and discovered that Mr Choudry was actually an excellent teacher. As the class filed out for lunch, Harry approached the instructor.

“Learning something, Mr Potter?” Mr Choudry asked cheerfully. Evan Choudry was a tall, thin, cheerful man of Indian descent. Harry wondered briefly if cheerfulness was a requirement for teaching charms.

“Yes, sir,” Harry said blushing. “Sir, I was wondering if you could help me. When my father and godfather were in school they charmed a pair of mirrors so they could contact each other. If you looked into the mirror and said the person’s name, they would hear.”

Mr Choudry leaned back against the desk as he considered what Harry was saying. “That would be an impressive layering of charms.”

Harry nodded. “My godfather was really good at charms. Unfortunately, I only have one of the mirrors. After my godfather died…well, I broke mine. I was wondering if you might be able to tell me how to make another pair. My fiancée will be at Hogwarts this year and…” He blushed as he tried to figure out how to explain what he wanted.

Mr Choudry smiled at him. “This fiancée would be the beautiful young lady in the pictures?”

“Yes,” Harry said with a smile. “We both tend to get really bad nightmares and talking to each other is the only thing that will help. I hoped maybe I could make a new pair so if she had a really bad nightmare she could call me.”

Mr Choudry raised an eyebrow. “Charmed mirrors. Can you bring in the other one?”

Harry nodded and Mr Choudry said, “Excellent. Bring it in and we’ll see what charms were used to make the mirrors.”

“Okay, thank you.” Harry grabbed his bag and started to head for the door.

“I hope I didn’t embarrass you too much, Mr Potter.”

Harry blushed again. “No, I can only imagine what my future brothers-in-law will have to say. I imagine they won’t be too happy with me.”

“Young love,” Mr Choudry laughed.

Looking around Harry realized that everyone else had already headed down to the canteen. He caught the lift and had a moment of embarrassment when Mr Weasley joined him.

Blushing, Harry said, “Mr Weasley, I’m really sorry about the pictures in the paper.”

Mr Weasley looked at him over his glasses for a moment. “I can’t pretend I wasn’t upset when I first saw the pictures. No one wants to see his little girl plastered all over the paper like that.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry repeated as he looked down.

“I have already spoken to Ginny,” Mr Weasley said. “I know you love my daughter, but I would ask you to remember that you are famous. People are flocking to take your picture to both idolize you and put you in a bad light. I would really rather my daughter’s name not get smeared in the paper.”

Harry’s head jerked up, fear in his eyes. “Please, Mr Weasley. I am really, really sorry. I know I should have looked around and I should have cast privacy spells. I promise I will be much more careful. Please don’t say we can’t see each other.”

Mr Weasley eyed the younger wizard seriously. “Harry, I know I can’t keep the two of you from seeing each other. As my daughter pointed out this morning, you could get married now. I don’t want to break the two of you up, I know how good you are for each other, but I am rather disappointed in you. Please try to guard my daughter’s reputation a little more closely.”

Harry hurried down the familiar path to the Burrow. He was still feeling rather ill, he’d felt nauseated since his confrontation with Mr Weasley. Luckily, his afternoon class hadn’t lasted long.

He’d run into a few reporters at the Ministry, but he’d not seen any at the Burrow. Bill had done a great job with the wards.
As he neared the Burrow, the door opened and he smiled for the first time that afternoon. Ginny was standing in the doorway waiting for him. She was wearing a white and blue sundress and had her hair pulled back in a ponytail.

When he reached the door, Ginny reached out and pulled him into her arms. He lifted her slightly and held her tightly, burying his face in her hair.

“Are you okay?” she asked after a minute.

He nodded and pulled back a bit. Ginny pulled him into the kitchen and pushed him down in a chair. She curled up on his lap.

“I’m sorry, baby,” he said. He looked into her eyes. “I should have made sure there was no one around.”

“Hey,” she said gently, running her hand through his hair. “It’s not your fault. I didn’t look either.”

She leaned up and kissed him softly. “Did everyone give you a hard time?”

He groaned. “Choudry had us working on privacy charms and proximity alerts today. Seamus seems to have an unending supply of the pictures. I can handle that, but I ran into your dad as well.”

“Oh no,” she said. “What did he say?”

“He’s disappointed in me and wishes I wouldn’t drag your name through the papers.”

“I’m sorry, love.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “My mum sent me a howler this morning.”


“Yeah, George at least thought it was hysterical how she went on about me shaming the family name.” Ginny giggled. “It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten a howler from her. The twins used to look at them as badges of honour, but I was always scared at how loud they were. I used to watch her make them. She would get a Floo call or letter from Professor McGonagall and she would storm around the kitchen raging about whatever they’d done. Once she was worked up she would charm the howler. I swore I’d never do anything bad enough to get a howler.”

She looked up at him. “It sounds silly now, but when I was in the hospital wing after the Chamber of Secrets my biggest fear was that my mum was going to send me a howler.”

Harry hugged her a little tighter. “She didn’t do that, did she?”

“No, she was actually very understanding.”

Harry sighed. “The howler she sent Ron was so mortifying. I felt so badly that I’d let your parents down after they let me stay at your house.” He looked down at her. “What did the rest of your brothers say?”

“Percy told me I was behaving in an inappropriate manner. George thought it was funny and Ron just pretended to throw up,” Ginny recounted. “I don’t think they are too upset. I mean honestly, most of the picture is just us snogging and even when you took off my top they cut off the picture so you couldn’t see anything.”

“Thank God,’ Harry murmured. “I felt so guilty that I’d betrayed their trust in me. I was so afraid your dad was going to say we couldn’t see each other. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

She tightened her arms around him. “You will never have to worry about that. I’m never going to leave you.” She kissed him again. “Don’t feel too badly, I know you hate disappointing my parents, but honestly we weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Mrs Weasley walked around her room at the Burrow looking around in satisfaction. “Arthur, it looks wonderful.”

He smiled gently. “The kids all pitched in and repainted the room. Harry and Ginny re-stained the nightstand you were always complaining about.”

“It looks lovely,” she said. “I’m so glad to be back home. I was afraid I wouldn’t be released in time to see Ginny and Hermione off to Hogwarts.”

The room looked bright and clean. She hadn’t even realized how dingy the walls and become, but the kids had repainted the room. The floors had been buffed and shined with a new area rug. On the bed were new sheets from her oldest son and daughter-in-law. The thoughtfulness of her children impressed her.

As she headed back down to the kitchen, she noticed more evidence of cleaning and repainting. The sitting room was clean and she noticed the sofa had been recovered with a new slip cover. Heading into the kitchen, she had to smile. This was really her room. She had spent hours in this kitchen cooking and feeding her family. Like the other rooms in the house, it was also clean and looked newer. Arthur told her she could chose to redo the kitchen however she wanted so they hadn’t really done anything to the kitchen.

While she loved every scratch on the floor, every bit of missing countertop, and every broken drawer pull, maybe a new kitchen would be a good idea. A new kitchen for a new era. Her children were all grown and hopefully grandchildren would be arriving in the next few years. Humming, she wandered around the kitchen trying to imagine how she might change it.

The kitchen door banged open and Mrs Weasley turned to see her daughter.

“Mum!” Ginny hurried over and hugged her mother. “You’re home, why didn’t dad say something?”

“We wanted to surprise you,” Mrs Weasley said as she kissed her daughter on the cheek. “You look lovely.”

Ginny’s eyes were bright and shiny and her hair was in disarray. She gestured outside. “I was flying. Practicing a bit, getting ready for Quidditch. Are you okay, Mum?”

“I’m much better,” Mrs Weasley said. She watched her daughter move around the kitchen easily. “I am so sorry I wasn’t here for you this summer.”

Ginny didn’t look up from where she was putting the kettle on. “Mum, you’ve already apologized like a million times. I get it. I wish it had been different, but it wasn’t.”

She turned to look at her mother. “Can we just start now? A lot of things happened this year that shouldn’t have. Can we just move on? I don’t want to keep reliving and keep talking about what happened.”

Mrs Weasley looked at her daughter. It amazed her that this beautiful and strong young woman was her little girl. “Of course, love.”

Ginny brought two cups of tea over to the table and the two women sat down at the table. Before Mrs Weasley could say anything the door opened again.

“Gin,” Harry broke off when he saw the two sitting at the table. Mrs Weasley smiled.

“Hello, Harry.”

“Mrs Weasley, welcome home.”

“Thank you, dear.”

Mrs Weasley bustled over to the cupboard and retrieved another cup. While Harry and Ginny weren’t talking, she could see that they were having a rather intense, silent conversation. By the time she returned to the table, Harry had sat down next to his fiancée. Mrs Weasley handed him a cup of tea.

“Thank you, Mrs Weasley.”

“You’re welcome, dear.” She took a sip of her tea. “I was just thinking I might like to redo the kitchen.”

“Really?” Ginny asked. “That would be really cool.”

“Going to push for granite countertops?” Harry asked teasingly.

“Granite countertops?” Mrs Weasley looked between the two of them.

“Harry and I went to see a Wizarding architectural firm,” Ginny said excitedly. She smiled over at her fiancé. “He’s looking into rebuilding in Godric’s Hollow so we met at the firm’s office and they had mock kitchens set up. It was amazing. They have so many cool things.”

“Are you thinking of moving into your parent’s old house?” Mrs Weasley asked. “I thought you were living in Grimmauld Place.”

“I am living in London for now,” Harry said. “It just makes sense and Ron, George, and Seamus will all be living there as well. But once Ginny and I get married, we might want someplace out in the country more. Godric’s Hollow is really pretty and a nice town.”

He paused for a moment taking a sip of his tea. “We have to do some structural work, especially in my old nursery so we decided to add onto the house.”

“We are going to add a few more bedrooms and we are going to have an ensuite — a bathroom and small sitting room attached to the master bedroom. Mrs Potter had a really nice garden in the back with flowers and rose bushes. There is even a fountain there. The architect can make it into a courtyard and we will have a small balcony overlooking the garden.” Ginny said enthusiastically.

Mrs Weasley dearly wanted to warn them not to spend all of their money on a house, but she held back. “That sounds lovely, dear.”

“It will be,” Ginny said.

“So the two of you went to Godric’s Hollow?”

“Yes,” Harry replied. “Hermione and I were there last Christmas. That is when we found Bathilda Bagshot. We saw my parents’ graves and went by the house, but we didn’t go in.” He smiled over at his fiancée. “I wanted to wait to go in with Ginny.”

Ginny leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. Harry smiled at her. Mrs Weasley watched the interactions between the two of them intently. She could clearly see the love between the two of them. Harry normally didn’t show his emotions, but every time he looked at her daughter his love for her was obvious. His face lit up when he talked to her and he was constantly touching her. Not in an off-putting way, but he held her hand or brushed back her hair. He refilled her tea and fixed it for her without a word from Ginny.

The affection certainly wasn’t one sided. Ginny glowed when she looked at her fiancé. She had never liked anyone to take care of her, even when she was a child, but with Harry she allowed it. The smiles and kisses and small touches were very sweet to behold.

Unaware that Mrs Weasley was observing them so closely, Harry scooted a bit closer to his fiancée. “Ginny came in the house with me. It was hard, but it was really nice seeing the pictures they had all over the house. Growing up I never knew what my parents looked like, so it was great to see pictures of them.”

“There were a ton of pictures of Harry,” Ginny said tenderly. “His parents obviously loved him very much. There were pictures of Harry and Sirius.”

“Most of the large pieces of furniture were put in their vault, so it was just the pictures and…the nursery,” Harry said. “We are…we are going to turn it into a sitting room. I don’t think I could use it as a bedroom again.” He took a deep breath and Ginny squeezed his hand. He turned to look into her eyes and seemed to take comfort from what he saw there. “We found the toy broomstick that Sirius gave me on my first Christmas. We are going to put it on the wall in my old nursery.”

He laughed. “We definitely need to paint some of the rooms.”

Ginny giggled and Harry smiled at her before continuing. “Some of the colours my parents picked were…a bit 70s.”

Mrs Weasley laughed. “Oh dear, I imagine some of their choices were a rather questionable.”

“The orange shag carpet,” Ginny giggled. “That has got to be the ugliest carpet I’ve ever seen and they put orange and yellow wallpaper on the walls.”

“I don’t know,” Harry said. “The lime green tiles in the bathroom were pretty nasty.”

“It will be fun to pick out new carpets and flooring,” Ginny said.

Mrs Weasley nodded. “I loved setting up our first house together. Are you going to paint it yourself?”

Harry shrugged. “We had a lot of fun painting here. I was hoping when the time comes we can have the family come over and help us paint. We just need to decide the colour schemes.”

“It sounds lovely,” Mrs Weasley said sincerely.

“So you’re home now, right Mum?”

“I am home.”

Standing Ginny hugged her mother tightly. “I’m glad you’re back.”

Harry smiled over at his fiancée as they sat in the Weasley’s back garden and watched George set off fireworks. The smell of honeysuckle wafted through the evening air and Ginny leaned her head against his shoulder. Tonight had really been a perfect night. Her mum seemed like she was back to normal and George was even joking around a bit. While it wasn’t as cheerful as a normal back to Hogwarts night, it was much better than it had been most of the summer.

Across the table Hermione and Ron were either arguing or flirting, Harry still wasn’t sure which it was. As he dropped a kiss on Ginny’s forehead, he wondered if he was doing the right thing in not going back to Hogwarts. In his heart of hearts he knew he was, but he was really going to miss Ginny.

As the last of the fireworks faded from the sky, Mrs Weasley began clearing the tables and putting away the left-over food. Ginny tugged on Harry’s sleeve and he followed her to the edge of the Quidditch paddock. Before he could say anything, she was kissing him passionately.

Harry wrapped his arms around her, losing himself in her embrace. It was some time before the two of them actually started talking. By this time, the couple were laying on a blanket Harry had conjured up. Harry’s shirt was missing and Ginny’s had been hastily replaced.

He looked around and summoned a package from his shirt pocket. “This is for you. Well, it’s for us.”

Ginny took the package and opened it. Lying inside were a matching set of silver mirrors. Ginny looked up at him in confusion.

He laughed as he lifted one of the mirrors out of the package. “When my dad and Sirius were in school, they made a pair of charmed mirrors so they could talk to each other in detention. Sirius…Sirius gave me my Dad’s for Christmas during my 5th year so I could tell him if Snape was giving me a hard time.” He sighed. “I never opened it because I didn’t want to do anything that would get him caught. I opened it after the Ministry and I threw it across the room.”

Ginny lifted her hand to his face. She hated to see him so tortured by his past. He smiled at her and kissed the palm of her hand. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so lost in the past.”

She smiled gently. “That’s okay, love.”

“Anyhow, Mr Choudry helped me figure out what charms they used to make the mirrors and I was able to enchant this pair of mirrors for us.”

“Really?” Ginny picked up the other mirror. “How does it work?”

“Say my name.”

“Harry Potter,” she said as she looked in the mirror. To her delight, he appeared in the mirror. “Harry this is wonderful!”

“I hoped it would work so if you have a really bad nightmare you can call me anytime,” Harry said with a smile. “Did you look at the mirrors?”

She turned it over and smiled. Carved on the other side of the mirror was an owl that looked remarkably like Athena and Ginny’s name was engraved underneath. “Where did you find these?”

He set his mirror down and snuggled in closer to her. “I searched through a bunch of shops until I found these. They have unbreakable charms on them so they shouldn’t break.”

“Thank you, love,” Ginny said. “It’s a wonderful idea.”

Harry looked reluctantly at the Burrow. “I guess it’s time to head inside. I’m not sure where your mum put me tonight.”

“You don’t seriously think you’re not sleeping with me tonight,” Ginny said as she looked up at her fiancé. “Hermione is in my room and we are in George’s room.”

Smiling down at her, Harry said, “That is a great idea.”

The couple spent the night making love, finally dropping off to sleep in the early morning hours. Harry heard the sound of feet pounding down the stairs, lifting his head he groaned when he saw it was a little after nine.

Shaking his still sleeping fiancée, Harry said, “Sweetie, you need to wake up.”

She snuggled closer to him. “No. I’m sleeping.”

“I know you’re sleeping, my love,” Harry said as he rubbed her back, “but you need to get up. It’s after nine and you have a train to catch.”

Grumbling, Ginny raised her head and swore under her breath when she saw the time. Leaning up she kissed Harry and climbed out of bed. Pulling on her clothes, she said, “I’m going to take a quick shower.”

Harry nodded. “I’ll go to Grimmauld Place to take a shower. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Even though he knew it meant he would soon be separated from Ginny, Harry had to smile when they walked through the barrier to Platform 9 ¾. With so many changes in the wizarding world over the past year, it was nice to see the shiny red Hogwarts Express hadn’t changed at all.

The normal cacophony of the train and hundreds of parents, children, and pets was almost overwhelming. Overwhelmed first years and Muggle-borns stared at the engine in awe while older students were calling out to their friends in greeting.

Ginny sighed as she looked at the train. Looking up at her fiancé she asked, “Will you help me get my trunk on board?”

“Of course,” he replied.

Soon enough he’d settled her trunk and the cage containing Athena into a compartment. Hermione’s trunk and Crookshanks were already there and Dean, Luna, and Demelza were sharing the compartment.

“Ginny! We need to go up to the Prefects’ Car,” Hermione said urgently.

“Okay, Hermione,” Ginny grumbled. “Let me say good-bye to Harry first.”

Hermione followed the two of them back out onto the platform where she hugged Mrs Weasley and Ron. Ginny didn’t see anything else as she was swept up in Harry’s arms. Closing her eyes, she wrapped her arms around his neck and inhaled his uniquely Harry scent. He was so warm and strong, she felt like she could stay in his arms forever.

All too soon, he pulled back slightly and kissed her deeply. She threaded one of her hands through his hair, the other rested on his heart and she could feel the rapid beat of his heart beneath her hand. Finally it was Hermione’s scandalized, “Ginny!” That broke them apart.

“I love you,” he whispered.

She managed to smile up at him. “I love you, too. I’ll talk to you tonight and I’ll see you on Friday.”

He smiled at the thought. Leaning he dropped a quick kiss on her lips. “I’ll see you Friday.”

Reluctantly Ginny left his arms and hugged her mother. Mrs Weasley held her daughter tightly. “Good luck this year! Have fun and don’t forget to write.”

“I won’t, Mum,” Ginny replied as she kissed her mother on the cheek. She smiled up at her Mum, happy to have her real mum back. “I love you.”

Her mother smiled broadly, pleased at the affection. “I love you, too. Your father and I will be there for the parents’ weekend. I can’t wait to see what you’ve planned.”

Ginny smiled. “Good! I think you’ll love it.”

Turning, she hugged her brother briefly. “Bye, Ron.”

“Bye, Ginny.” Ron actually hugged her back before returning his attention to Hermione who was currently hugging Harry. Glancing up at the clock, Ginny saw they had less than five minutes before the train left. Tugging at Hermione’s sleeve, she pointed to the clock.

Squeezing in one last hug for Harry, Ginny waved to her mother again before joining Hermione on the train. Resisting Hermione’s efforts to drag her to the Prefects’ compartment, she leaned out of the window and waved until the train pulled out of the station.

Back to index

Chapter 14: Chapter 14 Hogwarts Express

Author's Notes: Thank you to my wonderful betas seekers_destiny and StephanieO! I appreciate their hard work. Thank you for the emails and Silver Trinket Nominations! It is so nice to know that people enjoy your work :)

Following Hermione down the aisle of the train, Ginny soon found herself in the Prefects’ compartment. It was large, the size of two normal compartments. There was a large bench behind a desk in the front of the compartment facing the rest of the benches. She didn’t know how it was normally set up, but there were enough benches for the twenty-six Prefects that had been chosen for this school year. In a semi-circle around the front desks, were three rows of benches with an extra bench in the front row for the two extra Prefects.


Turning, Ginny smiled to see Bruce Miller, the Head Boy. “Bruce, it’s good to see you.”

Ginny hugged him briefly. The two of them headed to the front benches. Bruce had a sheaf of parchment in his hand. He gestured towards it. “You have a lot of really good ideas for this year. My mum is thrilled with the idea of the parents’ weekend.”

“Good,” Ginny said happily. “I’m hoping it will become a yearly event.”

As one of Bruce’s housemates distracted him, Ginny set her notes down on the desk and waved to several of the Prefects. She found that she knew all of the seventh year Prefects and most of the sixth years. Her eyes narrowed as Astoria Greengrass breezed in with the other Slytherin Prefects.

Ginny watched them a bit uneasily. While the known Death Eaters had all been arrested, she was well aware that there were still sympathizers in school. Astoria gestured towards Ginny and said something her friends all found very funny. Ginny blushed even though she didn’t know exactly what they’d said. She imagined it was not at all complementary towards her.

Looking at the list of Prefects that Professor McGonagall had sent her, Ginny read the names of the Slytherin Prefects. The Slytherin Prefects were listed as — Seventh year: Michael Pratt & Renee Flint, Sixth year: Irvin Gamp & Astoria Greengrass, Fifth year: Joshua Herdman & Posey Parkinson.

She nearly groaned out loud. Half of them were associated with known Death Eaters and none of them came from moderate families. Astoria and Posey were busy whispering together and the way they kept gesturing at Ginny, she had no doubt about the topic of conversation. Glancing at the pair from underneath her hair, she wondered if she could get away with a Bat Boogey Hex. She knew she couldn’t, but she spent a minute or two imagining giant bats flapping around the two girls.

Bruce re-joined her and they called the meeting to order. Ginny had actually been a bit nervous about the meeting as she’d never attended a Prefect meeting before, but when she realized that she knew most of the Prefects she relaxed.

“I’d like to welcome everyone back to Hogwarts. This year is going to be a rebuilding year for the school and for all of us. I’ve spoken to Professor McGonagall and the two main emphases for the year are going to be communication and safety. Professor McGonagall will be explaining all of the safety protocols that have been put in place during the welcoming feast.

“Our job as Prefects will be to act as role models to the younger students and support the staff. We plan to have several fun events during the school year. The biggest event that we have planned so far is the Parents’ Weekend that will be held the weekend of October 25 & 26.”

Ginny looked around the room and was pleased to see that everyone was paying attention and seemed happy with the plan. She explained the concept of the Parents’ Weekend and soon had volunteers to help with the event. The rest of the meeting ran smoothly. Bruce discussed the patrolling schedule and the regular meetings that would be held during the year.

Everyone seemed enthusiastic and happy to be back at school. As most of the people in the room had been targeted the previous year, they all agreed that reassuring the students and parents they were safe was paramount. Everyone that is except the Slytherin contingent. Ginny gritted her teeth several times during the meeting as she watched Astoria and Posey pass notes back and forth. She wanted to set fire to the parchment, but she also didn’t want to start hostilities so soon.

As the meeting broke up, Ginny noticed Astoria leaning over to pick up something she’d just dropped on the floor. Ginny almost gasped when she saw the pendent the girl was wearing. It was a golden pendent of the Dark Mark. Looking at the other Slytherin girls, Ginny saw that Posey was wearing the same pendent. She was rather surprised that neither of them bothered to hide the necklaces.

Astoria wandered up to the front of the room. She was a tall, leggy blonde and she towered over Ginny. Smirking down at the smaller girl, she said, “I hear you managed to trap Potter into marrying you.”

“I didn’t trap him,” Ginny said angrily.

Astoria reached down and grabbed Ginny’s left hand, lifting it so she could see the ring. Several people had already done that, but it was all Ginny could do not to wrench her hand out of Astoria’s.

“I hear he couldn’t even be bothered to buy you a new ring,” Astoria laughed. “I certainly wouldn’t settle for a second hand ring, but of course I imagine you’ve never seen anything half as nice.”

She turned to Posey who had joined her friend. “Potter gave her an emerald. These low class blood traitors can’t even pick out proper jewellery.” Turning back to Ginny she said, “I wouldn’t accept something as cheap as this.”

Posey tittered at her friend’s comment. “I wouldn’t accept a used ring. Of course a stupid little blood traitor like you wouldn’t know anything about good jewellery.”

Pulling her hand away, Ginny said angrily. “I don’t notice anyone offering you anything.”

Posey’s face changed. “That’s because your horrible fiancé murdered my Vincent. We were going to be betrothed next year.”

“Draco is negotiating with my father,” Astoria said proudly.

Ginny laughed. “You do realize that Draco spent his time here sleeping with her slag of a sister, don’t you?”

Astoria lifted her head. “I expect my man to come to me with experience. I can’t imagine Saint Potter would know what to do with a girl. He was certainly enthralled by me and my sister.”

“I think the word you were looking for is sickened,” Ginny replied acidly. “I heard you gave him enough of a preview.”

“Draco appreciates a more sophisticated style,” Astoria said smugly.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “I don’t think looking like a cheap tart is a style.”

Posey pulled her friend back when it looked like she might physically attack Ginny. The two girls started gathering their belongings to head back to their own compartment.

“Ginny, you can’t go around picking fights with other prefects,” Hermione scolded as she joined her friend at the front of the room.

“I didn’t start it,” Ginny said. Turning so her back was to the Slytherin group, she said quietly, “Astoria and Posey are both wearing pendants of the Dark Mark.”

Hermione’s eyes flew over to the Slytherin group who were currently leaving the compartment. She shook her head. “I guess they can’t resist showing their allegiances.”

Looking around the room, Ginny assessed the rest of the group. All of the other six and seventh year Prefects had been in the Defence Association the year before, many had sought refuge in the Room of Requirement before the end of the year.

“What are you thinking?” Hermione asked Ginny. “I know it’s upsetting, but there is nothing we can do about it now. You are Head Girl, you need to act accordingly.”

“I know,” Ginny replied. “I’ll report them to Professor McGonagall when we arrive at school. I don’t want to tip them off beforehand.”

“What?” Hermione looked at her in confusion. “Tip them off about what?”

“Hermione, there is a zero tolerance policy for the Dark Mark,” Ginny reminded her friend. “If they are caught with those pendants they will be expelled.”

“That’s not an actual Dark Mark,” Hermione argued. “Surely they can’t be expelled for wearing jewellery.”

“The Dark Mark is a symbol of beliefs that won’t be tolerated any longer,” Ginny replied. “At the World Cup it was simply a symbol shot up into the sky, but that didn’t stop the Ministry from trying to arrest you, did it?”

“I guess that’s true,” Hermione admitted.

“Last year they used to draw that symbol all over the place,” Demelza said as she joined the other two.

“You saw it too?” Ginny asked.

Demelza nodded. “They aren’t trying very hard to keep it hidden. We need to make sure they don’t cause the younger kids to panic.”

“None of them volunteered to patrol the train,” Bruce said as he joined them. “Hopefully they’ll stay in their own compartment until we get to school. We’ll make certain to watch out for them.”

“I have the first patrol,” Luna spoke up for the first time. “I will make sure they don’t scare anyone.”

Hermione watched the other Prefects for a moment. She felt rather out of place and for the first time questioned her decision to return to finish her schooling.

Hermione and Justin stayed behind with Bruce to make sure all of the younger students made it to the boats or carriages while Ginny hurried ahead to speak to Professor McGonagall.

She found the older witch in the Entrance Hall greeting returning students. Ginny had to smile at how right it looked to see her there.


“Miss Weasley, welcome back,” Professor McGonagall said with a small smile.

“Thank you,” Ginny said. Looking around, she leaned closer to the older woman. “I need to talk to you about something I saw on the train.”

Properly reading Ginny’s expression, Professor McGonagall led her to the small anteroom where the first years would soon be gathering. “What happened?”

“Astoria Greengrass and Posey Parkinson are both wearing a golden pendent of the Dark Mark,” Ginny said anxiously. “I saw the necklaces while they were in the Prefects’ meeting. Luckily they didn’t patrol the train and we made sure they stayed in their compartments. They were acting…I don’t know how to explain it, but kind of like the Slytherins did last year. Like they were above the rest of us and didn’t have to follow any rules.”

Professor McGonagall’s lips thinned as she listened to Ginny’s story. “Unfortunately, I know exactly what you mean. I will take care of it.”

Nodding Ginny headed back out into the Entrance Hall to wait for Hermione. She noticed Professor McGonagall head into the Great Hall and returned a few moments later with a man Ginny recognized as an Auror named Proudfoot. He had several other Aurors with him, none Ginny recognized, but she recognized the robes.

As she watched the carriage carrying the Slytherins arrived at the castle. Astoria exited the carriage first and her eyes fell upon the group of Aurors. She laughingly said something to the others who were exiting the carriage. None of them seemed overly concerned.

Auror Proudfoot approached the group and spoke to Astoria. She looked him up and down and attempted to dismiss him as one might a servant. The Aurors quickly surrounded the group and led them off a short distance. Ginny could see the Aurors searching the students. They must have found the pendants because soon Astoria, Posey, and another girl whose name Ginny couldn’t remember stood with their hands bound behind them. One of the boys soon joined them and Ginny could hear them yelling about discrimination and their parents from where she stood.

Professor McGonagall approached the group and spoke briefly to the Auror. After listening to the Auror, she spoke to the students before turning and heading back to the castle.

Auror Proudfoot produced a Portkey from his robes and soon he and the students left the grounds. Ginny noticed that a small contingent of Aurors stayed and re-entered the castle.

“What happened?” Hermione asked as she exited her carriage.

Ginny explained what she’s seen as they headed into the Great Hall. As she headed towards the Gryffindor table, she noticed a few white stars denoting that someone had died. However she stopped when she saw a large golden star in the centre of the room.

She walked over to the star and read: It was on this spot on 2 May, 1998 that Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort. Mr Potter defeated the so-called Dark Lord without the use of Dark Magic, but used his knowledge of wand lore and turned Voldemort’s Killing Curse back upon him.

Across from the golden star was a black circle. It had Slytherin’s snake above the words: Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort. His quest for power and Pureblood supremacy led to his downfall. He was vanquished on this spot by Harry Potter on 2 May 1998.

Ginny had to blink back tears as she read the two markers. She was glad that there was something to mark Harry’s deed. The fact that Riddle’s marker had his real name made her smile — he would hate that.

A touch at her arm made her jump, it was Hermione. “We need to sit down,” the older witch said gently.

Nodding Ginny followed her friend to the Gryffindor table. As they sat down, Hermione asked, “Did you know about the markers?”

“I knew about the markers to honour those who had died,” Ginny explained. “Harry told you about those, right?”

Hermione nodded. “He told me about the charm he found. I think it’s a wonderful idea to honour those who died in the battle. I’m glad they added something to honour Harry, he never would have done that himself.”

The girls quieted down as Professor McGonagall called the students to order. Ginny smiled as she listened to the completely unscathed Sorting Hat extol the beauty of house unity. It also snuck in a few words for the one who saved us all. Ginny had to fight back a giggle as she imagined how red Harry would be if he heard the Sorting Hat’s song.

The diminutive Professor Flitwick stood on a box in front of the stool for the first years. Ginny watched the sorting with interest. There were very few additions to Slytherin House this year. Hufflepuff seemed to have gained the most new students, but aside from Slytherin all of the houses gained a number of new students. Ginny smiled and greeted each of the new Gryffindors as they arrived at the table. It was amazing how young they looked. Sprinkled in among the first years were Muggle-born students who should have started the year before, but because of the ban on educating Muggle-borns had to wait until this year to start.

It was a large class, but eventually they were all sorted. Professor McGonagall stood and looked out over the students proudly.

“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! I am pleased to see so many students here this year and I would like to welcome those who had to put off their education for a year.” Her expression changed as she continued, “This year our priorities for the school term are to increase communication and our number one priority is to make certain the student body is safe. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding the Dark Mark and espousing the values of Tom Riddle otherwise known as Lord Voldemort.”

She had to pause while a few students gasped at the name, but a majority of students did not. “I am saddened to tell you that several senior members of Slytherin House were expelled this evening after they were seen wearing necklaces with an image of the Dark Mark. I will go over the other measures we have taken for your safety after we have eaten.”

The Headmistress sat and food appeared on the tables. Hermione turned to Ginny in amazement. “She expelled them?”

Ginny shrugged as she helped herself to some chicken and roasted potatoes. “I told you she would.”

Hermione helped herself to some roast beef and potatoes. “I…I hadn’t thought she would actually expel them. I thought they would have some sort of warning or something.”

“They had a warning,” Ginny said. “It was quite clear in our letters that there was this zero tolerance policy. They chose to test it and discovered the consequences. She didn’t snap their wands. They can still practice magic.”

“It surprises me,” Hermione admitted. “Professor Dumbledore always gave people so many chances.”

Ginny nodded. “That is one of the things that needed to change. He was more concentrated on the big picture that he didn’t consider that Snape was a horrible teacher and a petty, vindictive man. He left Binns stay even though he was a horrible teacher and no one learned anything. He knew that Draco tried to kill him and he still let him stay at the school.” Ginny’s eyes flashed. “Do you realize my brother could have died because of Dumbledore’s misguided need to try and save everyone?”

Hermione’s eyes grew wide as she thought back over her sixth year. “Merlin, I never thought of it like that! I was angry at Romilda for the stupid love potion stunt and thankful to Harry for being there and remembering the bezoar. Professor Dumbledore knew that Draco was trying to kill him?”

“I might be a bit harsh,” Ginny said. “Professor Dumbledore might not have put it together until after Ron’s attack. I don’t know when he figured it out.” She shrugged. “I guess I’m not feeling too kindly towards him right now. Some of the things Harry has told me…I think he could have helped Harry a lot more than he did and as I said he kept teachers who he had no business keeping because they were important for the war effort.”

“That is true,” Hermione admitted. “I think Professor Dumbledore saw the best in everyone and wanted to give everyone a second chance. I rather admire that about him. Maybe that’s why I was so surprised that Professor McGonagall didn’t give those girls a second chance.”

“Right now we need to reassure everyone that this year won’t be like last year,” Ginny said a bit heatedly. “Zero tolerance means just that. If she gave those girls a second chance would it change their minds or their view points? No, it wouldn’t. It would just show the rest of us that our safety isn’t as important as their second chance.”

Soon enough dinner was over. As the last of the dishes disappeared from the table, Professor McGonagall stood up. “That was a wonderful meal. Thank you to our wonderful house elves for their hard work.”

The students started cheering and Hermione was pleased at the recognition the elves were receiving. Professor McGonagall waited for the cheering to stop before she continued. “As I said earlier, your safety is our number one concern. The use of any Unforgivable will result in notification of both the senior staff and the Aurors who will be present on the grounds of the school. Anyone performing an Unforgivable will be expelled and sent to Azkaban with their wand snapped. All of the charms on the girls’ dorms have been replaced and reinforced, no boys will be allowed in the girls’ dorms. There have been charms placed in all of the corridors. If you feel you are in danger, simply call out 'help' or 'danger' and help will arrive.”

Cheers broke out causing her to stop for a moment. She allowed the students to express their feelings for a moment before continuing. “You may have noticed the markers denoting the spots where those who fought in the battle here in May died. The markers were actually the work of Mr Harry Potter. He wanted to honour those who gave their lives to protect all of us. The markers of those who fought on the other side were also included to show that they came from the same school as those on the side of good. I would ask you to notice that not all of those who fought with Tom Riddle were from Slytherin House. It is our actions, not our house that determines what becomes of us.”

She looked out over the student body. “I have shown there is no tolerance for those supporting the ideals of Tom Riddle. On the other hand, there will also be no tolerance for blaming members of Slytherin House for the war. They are student — students who have been shown to be cunning. Cunning is part of what allowed us to win the war, it is not a bad characteristics. Any reports of punishing Slytherins will be met with severe consequences.”

Looking around the room, she seemed pleased with what she saw on the faces of the student. “We have implemented several changes which we will explain over the coming weeks. One of the most exciting is the Parents' Weekend that was discussed in the letters. Another exciting change is the Friendship Chamber. It is located on the Sixth Floor and will be open during normal school hours and will close thirty minutes before curfew. It is an area for students to meet and relax with their friends in other houses. It will be open for all houses. Rules for proper behaviour while in the room are posted in the room.

“The last item is to introduce our new staff members. We have many new staff members this year and I trust you will make them all welcome. First, I would like to introduce Professor Constance Clark. She will be the new Transfiguration Professor and she will be taking over as Head of Gryffindor.”

An older, thin woman with short brown hair stood up and waved to the students.

“I heard she’s good friends with Professor McGonagall,” Hermione whispered. “I hope she’s a good teacher.”

“I can’t imagine Professor McGonagall bringing in someone to teach Transfiguration who isn’t top notch,” Ginny replied.

Professor McGonagall waited for Professor Clark to sit down before she said, “Second, I would like to introduce Professor Rebecca Rossi, our new Muggle Studies Professor.”

Professor Rossi proved to be a younger woman who Ginny guessed was in her early thirties. She was rather pretty with long blonde hair. Many of the boys seemed to find her attractive if Ginny was reading their reactions correctly.

The next professor received the same attention from the girls. The Headmistress introduced him. “This is Professor Michael Carter. He is going to be our new History of Magic Professor. Professor Binns has decided to move on.”

The cheers were quite loud and Ginny wasn’t sure if it was because Professor Binns was gone or for the younger, cute Professor. Professor McGonagall cut short the cheering and introduced the final new teacher. “The final addition to our teaching staff is Professor Jonathan Irving. He will be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. I will leave it up to all of these new professors to tell you more about themselves during this first week of classes.

“We have two more staff changes. Mr Filch has left his position-”

Professor McGonagall had to stop as the cheering was almost deafening. She allowed the cheering to continue for a few minutes as she was well aware that Filch had aided both Umbridge and the Carrows in their terrorizing of the student body.

Finally she held up her hand and the students quieted down. “I’m certain you will meet our new caretaker, Miss Zumbrowski, in the coming weeks. Our last new staff member is Madam Florence.” Professor McGonagall gestured to a pretty young woman with a sweet face. “Madam Florence is a therapist and she will be available to talk to anyone who feels they would like to talk about the events that have so shaken us all. Madam Florence will be working with our matron Madam Pomfrey and will be seeing all of the students throughout the year. If you would like to talk to her, she has an office adjacent to the Hospital Wing.”

Smiling out at the students, Professor McGonagall concluded her remarks. “It has been a long evening and I’ve just bombarded you with a lot of information. Please stand and follow your Prefects. They will direct you to your common room and help you get settled.”

Ginny made a face when she saw her busy schedule. “Damn, not many free periods.”

“Ginny!” Hermione scolded. “Watch your language.”

“Have you seen our schedules?” Ginny demanded. “With the addition of History of Magic and Muggle Studies our schedules are rather full. I’m taking seven NEWT level classes.”

“We are here to learn,” Hermione returned undisturbed at the amount of work that faced them.

“Miss Weasley?”

Ginny turned to see her new Head-of-House standing behind her. “Good morning, Professor Clark.”

“Good morning,” Professor Clark replied. “I wanted to make certain there were no problems last night.”

“No, ma’am,” Ginny replied. “We checked in on all of the girls and everyone seemed fine. I’m taking some of the younger girls up to the Owlery later to show them how to send a letter home.”

“Excellent,” Professor Clark said with a smile. “I have Professor McGonagall’s old office. If you need anything from me, please let me know.”

“I will,” Ginny promised.

“I understand you are also our Quidditch Captain, is that right?”

“I am,” Ginny said proudly. “I plan to have try-outs the weekend after next.”

“Very good, I am pleased to meet you,” Professor Clark said. “I don’t believe I have you in class today.”

“No, ma’am,” Ginny said as she looked back down at her schedule. “Tomorrow afternoon.”

“I will see you then.”

Standing, Ginny said to Hermione, “Come on, we have Double Defence Against the Dark Arts first thing.”

Leaving the Great Hall, the two girls helped direct several first years on to their classes before heading up to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Because so many students were taking Defence even at the NEWT level, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff had the class together.

Ginny was pleasantly surprised with Professor Irving. He was American and had both worked in their Auror force and taught at the Salem Institute for Witchcraft and Wizardry. He started the class by giving a test to assess the knowledge level of the class and then spent the rest of the first class talking to them about both his experiences and their own experiences. It was rather satisfying to be treated as adults rather than naughty children.

After lunch the two witches headed up to the first floor to the Muggle Studies classroom. As they headed down the corridor, Ginny found she was starting to get increasingly anxious. Last year Muggle Studies had been so horrid, she really never wanted to enter the classroom again.

As they neared the end of the hall, Ginny was surprised to find Professor Rossi standing outside of the former Muggle Studies classroom. She was smiling.

“Welcome, everyone! We have a bit of a surprise for you and we have changed the classroom around a bit.”

Gesturing to the classroom to the left hand side, Professor Rossi said, “This will be our new classroom for the year. I’d like for you to drop off your bags and re-join me out here.”

Ginny entered the new Muggle Studies room and was pleased to see the room was nothing like last year’s room. There were no posters degrading Muggles, but instead Professor Rossi had posters of famous Muggles hung around the room. Picking a desk towards the front of the room, she set down her belongings while Hermione did the same.

The girls re-joined their classmates outside of the classroom. Once everyone was gathered, Professor Rossi said, “I want to welcome you to Muggle Studies. Prior to last year, how many of you had taken Muggle Studies?”

Less than half of the students raised their hands; Ginny and Hermione were in the minority. Professor Rossi nodded. “Okay, that is a bit more than what I expected. This year will be a bit difficult I’m afraid as we will have students at all levels of knowledge. My goal will be for all of you to gain some knowledge of living and working with Muggles. If you wish to take your NEWT in Muggle Studies that is of course a possibility, but it will not be a requirement for this course. It would not be fair to those who have never taken a Muggle Studies class before to be held to a NEWT standard.”

Ginny felt a bit relieved to be honest and she imagined that most of her classmates felt the same way. She smiled when she caught sight of the frown on Hermione’s face. She was certain Hermione would be in the minority of students who took the NEWT.

Professor Rossi looked around at the students gathered in the corridor. “I’ve been working with Professor McGonagall and we have come up with something exciting for all of you.”

With that she turned and opened the door to the old class room. “Please come in everyone.”

Ginny’s eyes widened when she entered the classroom. It looked almost like a sitting room. As she crowded into the room, she could see the sitting room opened into another room that she couldn’t see from where she was standing.

Professor Rossi shot sparks from her wand to gain everyone’s attention. She smiled as she saw the students looking around in amazement. “We have set up a Muggle style flat in this part of the castle.” Walking over to the wall, she flicked some sort of switch on the wall and lamps on the end tables lit up. There was a wall of what looked to be electronic equipment on one wall.

“We have set up light switches and Muggle electronics in this room,” Professor Rossi explained. “Now as I’m sure you all know Muggle electronics cannot work here at Hogwarts and unfortunately these are no different. We have approximated Muggle electronics using magic. They will not work outside of this part of the castle and of course the telly doesn’t really work. Professor Flitwick helped me to ‘program’ so to speak a television programme into our fake telly so you can see what a telly is all about.”

She led the students into the next room which was a kitchen. Ginny gasped at the dazzling array of Muggle appliances found in the kitchen. Professor Rossi smiled. “We have also set up a kitchen and laundry room so you will be able to see how Muggles cook and clean. There is no bedroom or bathroom as those rooms are not much different in a Muggle home. We will be spending part of our time here in the flat and part of our time in the classroom.”

The class returned to the classroom talking excitedly. Ginny grinned at Hermione. “This is amazing.”

“I agree,” Hermione said. “I can’t believe no one has done this before. What a great idea!”

Once in the classroom, Professor Rossi told them about the group project they would be working on for the first term. Each group would be assigned an appliance or device in the flat and they would need to demonstrate it’s use and describe how Muggles used it.

Ginny slipped out of the castle doors wanting to spend a bit of time outside. She’d never realized before how focused Hermione was on studying. She knew that Ron and Harry had complained about Hermione’s studying habits, but being a year younger she hadn’t realized the amount of time Hermione really did spend in the library. Ginny spent time in the library and she did enjoy many of her classes, but she didn’t want to spend so much time there.

She felt a little guilty for slipping away from Hermione. While most of Ginny’s friends had returned to school that year, Hermione’s two best friends hadn’t. Hermione had latched onto Ginny and seemed to assume that Ginny would be taking Ron and Harry’s place.

While Ginny enjoyed Hermione’s company, she had other friends she wanted to spend time with as well. When she tried to introduce Hermione to her other friends, she realized for the first time that for all of her talk Hermione still didn’t have many friends and really didn’t know how to talk to others. That was something she was going to work on this year. Hermione could try to make a scholar out of her, but she would try to make more social person out of Hermione.

Pushing the thought out of her mind, she strolled out onto the grounds. It was a warm autumn day and Ginny was glad to spend some time outside. She would have to make some time to get out and fly later that afternoon. She was sure she would be able to talk Demelza into flying, maybe Dean as well.

After spending some time by the lake, she headed back up towards the castle. As she neared the castle doors, she saw Dennis Creevey kneeling in the grass. He looked up when he heard her footsteps and Ginny slowed down.

“Hi, Dennis.”

“Ginny,” Dennis tried to smile.

“Are you okay?” Ginny asked gently.

Dennis looked down and Ginny could see he was kneeling by his brother’s marker. Without a second thought, she sank down into the grass next to him. “I am so sorry about Colin. He was a good friend of mine.”

Dennis managed a smile that time. “Thanks.” He looked over at the beautiful older girl. “Did you know he had the biggest crush on you?”

“What?” Ginny laughed. “No, not really, did he?”

“He did,” Dennis said. “It was funny when I started going through all of his pictures, easily half of them are of you and Harry. C-Colin hated when you were dating Dean, but he knew how much you loved Harry and he was fine you were with Harry. H-he’d be thrilled that you and Harry are getting married.”

“Thanks,” Ginny said.

Dennis sighed. “I didn’t think it would be so hard to come back to Hogwarts.”

“I know what you mean,” Ginny said. “I didn’t really want to come back, but I thought it would be kind of like giving up or letting them win if I didn’t finish my education.”

Dennis nodded. “I thought about just going to school at the local secondary school. That’s where we were last year and my sister is there; in some ways it would be so much easier.” He looked out over towards the lake. “I miss Colin.” He glanced down at the marker on the ground. “I’m also so angry with him. Why the hell did he sneak back here to fight? We were doing our part and helping the local resistance. As soon as he got the message that Harry was here, he just…he left.”

Sneaking a look at his companion, Dennis said softly, “I hope you don’t hate me, but I’ve been angry with Harry as well. I know it’s not fair, but…”

“Colin admired Harry so much and that was why he came back to fight,” Ginny said quietly.

Blushing Dennis nodded. Ginny said, “I don’t blame you. I’ve been angry at my brother for getting himself killed and angry at Neville for sending out the message and I yelled at Harry too. I understand being angry. So does Harry. He’s suffered so much with all of this.”

“I know,” Dennis said. “I feel badly that I was angry at him, but…I was. I know Harry has done so much and he’s lost so many people.” He sighed. “It just sucks.”

Ginny started laughing. His eyes flew over to her face and she sobered up. “I’m sorry, that’s what Harry says when I’m talking about things that happened here last year.” She watched the younger boy for a few minutes. “Is it getting better?”

“Yes, my parents have been great and they got me and my sister, Elaine, into counselling,” Dennis said. “The Ministry sent a list of counsellors who know about the wizarding world. It’s helped so much. My mum really encouraged me to come back to school here. I was afraid she would blame magic, but she’s been great. She said that Colin was very brave and the best way to honour him is to be the best wizard I can be.”

“That’s great,” Ginny said sincerely.

“How is George?” Dennis asked a bit nervously. “I’ve thought about him. I really, really miss Colin, but to lose a twin…I just can’t imagine.”

“He’s actually doing a lot better,” Ginny said with a smile. “He still has good and bad days, but he’s getting ready to re-open Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes soon.”

“That’s great,” Dennis said. He smiled as he looked over at her. “Thank you, Ginny. I feel better, thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Ginny said as the two stood up. Leaning over she hugged the younger boy. “We are here to help each other get through this.”

Friday morning Harry couldn’t stop looking at his watch. The first official week of full-time Auror training had been challenging, but Harry was enjoying it. The classes were interesting and class time had been interspersed with hands on activities that kept the whole class engaged. All of the instructors were or had been Aurors so they had real life experiences that they were happy to share in their classes.

Today however was the first day of their History of Magic class at Hogwarts and Harry couldn’t wait. Seamus elbowed him and Harry looked up at Madam Kelley, she was smiling patiently at him.

“I was asking about the contraindications in using Veritaserum,” she repeated.

“Sorry,” Harry blushed. “Veritaserum is contraindicated in children, pregnant women, and those allergic to it.”

“Very good,” Madam Kelley said.

Harry raised his hand. Madam Kelley turned towards him. “A question, Mr Potter?”

“Yes, ma’am, can you resist Veritaserum?”

“It is possible, but extraordinarily difficult,” she replied. “It is recommended that all Aurors carry the antidote for Veritaserum with them at all times.” She smiled at the class. “I realize that you are heading to Hogwarts this afternoon so I am letting you go a few minutes early. I would like an essay explaining the Ministry restrictions on Veritaserum as well as the rationale for such restrictions.”

The class broke up and Harry gathered his belongings. Originally the Ministry had planned to break up the class along house lines, but when they started to finalize the plans they realized that Susan would be the only person in the morning class. It had been decided to keep the class together and they were all going in the afternoon.

Taking pity on his friend, Seamus said, “Professor McGonagall said we could come over at 12:30. Let’s see what Kreacher can whip up for lunch.”

“Okay,” Harry said. The two started towards the atrium when Katie caught up with them. She was invited to join them and the three of them headed over to Grimmauld Place.

Soon they were sitting around the large kitchen table with a huge pile of sandwiches. Kreacher cut up some fruit and pulled cold butterbeer out of the cold cupboard.

Katie looked around curiously. She’d heard about Harry’s house, but this was the first time she’d been there. “How are Ron and George doing?”

“Pretty well,” Harry said as he helped himself to a chicken sandwich. “They think they will be able to open in the next two weeks. George had hoped to re-open in time for the back to school rush, but he couldn’t get everything together. They had to not only clean up the mess that had been left, but their entire inventory was destroyed as well. Fortunately, the twins didn’t leave their recipe book at the shop. I guess they were afraid the shop might be targeted, so they had one copy in their vault at Gringotts and one they had at their flat.”

“That was good thinking,” Katie said.

Harry laughed. “I know. Everyone always thinks of them as big pranksters and all, but they were surprisingly good businessmen.”

“George is really good at potions,” Seamus added. “I was very surprised; he was helping me and Harry with our potions the other night. He knows his stuff and he can explain it well.”

Harry agreed. “If they’d ever focused their energies on schoolwork I think they could have been top of their class.”

Katie laughed. “Can you imagine how horrified Snape would have been if Fred and George were his best students?”

The boys started laughing. “I would have loved to have seen that,” Harry said.

“Ron’s been a grouchy git all week,” Seamus said with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I think he’s upset he didn’t go back to school with Hermione.”

“Why didn’t he?” Katie asked.

“He wanted to help George,” Harry explained. “Plus, I think he felt rather like I did that he’s past that point in his life. I was hoping he might join us, but he said he doesn’t think he wants to be an Auror anymore. I think last year when we were on the run it was a huge wakeup call for him. He doesn’t do well when he’s cold and hungry, he wouldn’t do well on a stake-out.”

He shrugged. “I still wish he would have joined our class, I think he’d have fun, but he has to figure out what he wants to do.”

“Plus if he was in our class, he could come to Hogwarts and see Hermione so he wouldn’t be so grumpy,” Seamus said.

Glancing at his watch, Harry said, “I’m going to brush my teeth and then I’ll be ready to go.”

Seamus laughed. “No problem, Harry.”

Harry left Professor McGonagall’s office and hurried down the steps. He broke into a smile as he reached the corridor. There waiting for him was Ginny. It only took two steps before he was in her arms. For a long moment, he just held her tight.

“I missed you so much,” he whispered.

With a slight giggle, she pulled him off to a classroom she’d staked out. “I missed you, too,” she replied before kissing him gently. The kisses grew more passionate and eventually, she pulled away.

He rested his forehead on her while he regained his composure. Sitting down on the desk on the front of the room, he pulled her down next to him. “You look gorgeous.”

She blushed prettily. “Thank you.”

“So how’s it going?” Harry asked with a smile. Even though they spoke nightly and were writing regularly, he missed just sitting and talking with her.

“I talked to Dennis yesterday,” she replied. “He’s talked to Professor Clark about starting a photography club.”

“That’s a great idea,” he said. “Does he like photography as much as his brother?”

She shrugged. “He doesn’t take as many pictures, but he seems to really enjoy it. He told me that at a lot of Muggle schools they take pictures of the students. I guess they sell the pictures to the parents? Is that right?”

Harry nodded. “They have a photographer come in and take pictures and the offer a package to the parents — like difference size pictures. My aunt and uncle would always get the biggest package of Dudley’s pictures. Usually a ridiculously huge picture and a bunch of smaller ones.” He shook his head laughing. “I don’t know who would want that many pictures of Dudley.”

“I’m guessing that means they didn’t get any pictures of you,” Ginny said sadly.

Harry shook his head. “No, I mean they weren’t very good. I had glasses held together with tape and a dorky little haircut.”

“They still should have bought pictures of you, too,” Ginny said kissing him softly. She looked up at him teasingly. “Sounds like they would have made great blackmail material.”

He laughed. “I would certainly pay money so no one would see them.” Dropping a kiss on Ginny’s head, he said, “So Dennis wants to take school pictures?”

Ginny nodded. “Yes, as I said he’s been talking to Professor Clarke, she’s apparently interested in photography and is willing to sponsor a photography club. She’s been talking to a professional photographer and he will come in and take the pictures and also work with the photography club.”

“That’s great,” Harry said. “I could use more pictures of you.”

Leaning down he kissed her again. He meant it to be a brief kiss, but it quickly evolved into something much more passionate. Running his hand up her side, he slid his hand under her robes. Pulling her shirt out from her trousers, he inched his hand up the soft, smooth skin of her back. As he reached her bare skin, he suddenly realized what he was doing.

Reluctantly, he pulled his hand out from under her robes. “I’m sorry, baby. I got a little carried away.”

Taking a deep breath, he turned away from her while she straightened out her clothes. Closing his eyes, he tried to get his unruly body under control. He jumped when he felt her hand on his back. Turning back to her, he almost gasped out loud. She was so incredibly beautiful. Her long glorious hair was down, her lips were a bit puffy, and her eyes were bright.

“I love you,” she said simply. “I’ve really missed you.”

Reaching out for his hand, she pulled him out of the classroom. “I think we need to be out among other people.”

Knowing she was right, he simply followed her. As they walked through the halls, he noticed how she smiled at and greeted many of the other students. As they realized who she was with Harry could hear the buzzing of whispers, but for once it didn’t really bother him.

She led him past the new Muggle Study classroom and excitedly told him all about the Muggle flat that had been set up. He listened, glad that she was excited about school.

“Do you like the new professors?”

“So far they all seem really good,” she replied. “Professor Clarke is our new head of Gryffindor. She’s older and a bit strict, but she definitely knows her Transfiguration. Professor Rossi is the Muggle Studies professor.”

“She’s the one who set up the flat?”

Ginny nodded. “She seems really fun. She told us that her mother was a Muggle and they lived in a Muggle house most of her life. It’s nice because she has a lot of experience with Muggles. Professor Burbage was nice, but I don’t know that she really had a lot of experience living with Muggles.”

“What about Professor Irving?” Harry asked curiously.

“I think he will be good,” Ginny replied. “He’s American. I told you how he tested us all, right?”

Harry nodded. By this time they had reached the stairs and Harry started down the steps. Ginny reached out and stopped him. She was standing above him and they were about even in height. With a smile, she leaned over and kissed him briefly. To her surprise, he wrapped her in his arms and picked her up setting her down on the stair next to him.

She giggled as she threaded her fingers through his. Glancing up at him she said, “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

“You never have to apologize for that,” he said with a grin.

Laughing they continued down the stairs as she told him about Professor Irving and her classes in general. He loved listening to her talk. She was so cheerful and happy and she was very observant. She noticed things about people.

As they neared the new History of Magic classroom, Harry saw the other students had already started arriving. Seamus and Dean were talking and laughing at a table towards the back of the room with Luna and Katie.


He barely had time to brace himself before his vision was obscured by a familiar mop of bushy hair. Laughing, he hugged Hermione. He squeezed her tightly before pulling back and looking down at her.

“How do you like being back at school?”

As the three of them headed to a table towards the front of the classroom, Harry listened to Hermione ramble on about her classes. It was funny having just listened to Ginny talk about the same thing. Ginny focused more on the other students while Hermione was more focused on the actual course work. They were both very enthusiastic.

“Tell Harry about your new project,” Ginny prompted as they sat down.

Hermione’s eyes lit up. “I’ve been working with Professor Rossi and Madam Pince. We are developing a section in the library devoted to Muggle books. We are going to have classics as well as some reference books and best sellers. Madam Pince even took out a subscription to The Times. We’ve started a book club and it’s very exciting.”

“That sound great,” Harry replied. He had to smile at how animated Hermione became talking about books. He thought a book club sounded rather similar to torture, but he knew that Hermione would love it.

Hermione smiled over at Ginny. “When Ginny first told me that she thought we should start different clubs, I wasn’t really very sure about it.”

Ginny snorted. “Weren’t very sure about it? You told me it was a bad idea and took too much time away from studies.”

Blushing Hermione continued. “I was a bit concerned, but people are coming up with all sorts of ideas. It’s a great combination of Muggle and Wizarding interests.”

“Good,” Harry said. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

Before Hermione could reply, Professor Carter entered the classroom. Professor Carter turned out to be a young, good looking wizard. Harry was briefly reminded of Professor Lockhart, but as soon as the Professor started talking that resemblance was erased. Professor Carter was enthusiastic about his subject, not himself.

The professor started the class by taking attendance. He paused briefly when he reached Harry’s name, but he didn’t single Harry out. Like most of the other professors, Professor Carter started out the class with an assessment test. As Harry struggled to answer the questions, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Hermione didn’t seem to be having any difficulty with the test.

When they completed the tests, Professor Carter had them exchange their papers and together they went over the answers to the test. Harry had gotten Hermione’s test and as he thought, she did extremely well on the test. At least according to his standards, he had to laugh when she was upset that she had missed two questions. Ginny had done better than Harry; she missed ten out of the fifty questions. Harry had managed a dismal 65% on the test.

He made a face at her when she giggled as she handed him back his test. Leaning over to him she said, “I can see why you need this class, now.”

Professor Carter started out by reviewing the class and the work that would be expected of them. He explained that they would have two exams over the course of the year as well as several projects. His first lecture covered the early days of magic and the founding of Hogwarts.

When his lecture came to a close Professor Carter said, “That is all for today, thank you for your attention. I would like to see Miss Bell, Miss Bones, Mr Boot, Mr Corner, Mr Finnegan, and Mr Potter.”

“I’ll wait outside,” Ginny said as she headed outside. Harry nodded and joined the other Auror trainees at the front of the room.

As the other students left the classroom Professor Carter smiled at the six students. “Thank you. I wanted to touch base with all of you. Obviously you will not receive a grade for this class, but your progress will be relayed back to the Ministry. I have spoken at length to Mr Robards and Mr Dawlish. You have a strict attendance policy. If you have an assignment that prevents your attendance to class, I will expect to be notified prior to class. As you have already taken your NEWTs, you are not eligible to retake the examination.”

They all voiced their agreement and were dismissed. “Mr Potter, I would like a word if I might.”

Inwardly groaning, Harry waited as the others left the room. Professor Carter smiled. “Mr Potter, I was hoping you might be convinced to talk to the class about your defeat of Voldemort.”

Harry studied the professor while he considered the matter. “Why?”

“Excuse me?” Professor Carter seemed genuinely confused by Harry’s question. “You defeated the greatest dark wizard in hundreds of years.”

Harry squirmed. “I don’t really like the attention and it seems very…I don’t know, boastful. Not to mention there are things about my defeat of Voldemort that the Minister doesn’t want made public.”

Professor Carter looked over the younger wizard. “Mr Potter, have you ever heard the quote that ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.’?”

Harry nodded and the older man continued. “After the first war, the wizarding community were determined to put everything behind them. They didn’t learn anything and ultimately I believe that made it very easy for Voldemort to regain power. Part of the reason I think it would be important to hear the story from you is that you know the absolute truth of what happened. I understand that you cannot tell us everything, but I believe that we need to understand what happened so we can prevent it from happening again.”

Harry thought about it for a few moments. Would it be helpful for others to learn about Tom Riddle’s story? As he did so, he recalled something Ginny had said. When she was talking about the need for a better history of magic professor, she said that if she had known the name Tom Riddle her whole first year would have been different.

“Okay,” Harry agreed. “I will do it. I need to talk to Kingsley to see what he doesn’t want made public.”

“Of course,” Professor Carter agreed. “Thank you, Mr Potter.”

Harry left the classroom and was happy to find his fiancée waiting outside. As they headed down to the Great Hall for dinner, Harry explained why he’d stayed behind.

“I think it will be good for you,” Ginny said.

“I guess,” Harry said. “I don’t really want to do it, but I will. I just don’t want people to think I’m like bragging I’m some big hero or something. I defeated him, but I had a lot of help and I certainly wasn’t alone.”

“I know, baby,” Ginny said. “You can tell the story your way and make sure you give credit to everyone. You can honour everyone who was lost in the fight against Voldemort — your parents, Cedric, Sirius, Hedwig, Dobby — all the people that have been forgotten or swept aside.”

He looked down at her his expression unreadable. He lifted her hair off her shoulder and smoothed it behind her back. He cupped her cheek gently. “Thank you, love. You always know what to say and how to make me feel better.”

Leaning down he kissed her gently. The sound of giggling made them break apart. Looking around Harry saw a group of young girls giggling and watching them. When Harry looked their way they all blushed.

Laughing, he took Ginny’s hand and headed down to dinner. It might only be for a couple of hours, but he was with his fiancée and that always made things good. They joined Hermione and their other friends for dinner.

Back to index

Chapter 15: Chapter 15 Adjusting to Hogwarts

Author's Notes: A special thank you to my betas StephanieO and seekers_destiny! Thank you for the Silver Trinket Nominations! It is so nice to know your work is appreciated.

Harry waved to a rather busy Ron who was working behind the counter at the Grand Re-Opening of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Ron grinned and briefly waved back before helping the next customer.

“Harry, my boy!”

Turning, Harry saw George in his eye-popping chartreuse jacket. Laughing, Harry held his hand up in front of his eyes. “Good Lord, George! Could you make that any brighter?”

George laughed and playfully modelled his jacket. “What, this old thing? It’s just something I found in the back of the cupboard.”

“I don’t think so,” Harry replied. “I cleaned out those cupboards myself and trust me if I’d seen something like that I’d have burned it.”

George simply laughed it off.

“Seriously, it looks great in here,” Harry said.

“Thanks,” George replied. “We still have a limited defence section in the back and we have a few new wheezes.” With a wave of his wand, George summoned two small bags and handed them to Harry. “These are our two newest wheezes. Crying Caramels are self-explanatory. If you need to cry on cue, pop in one of the caramels and boom, you start crying. They were influenced by my sweet baby sister who could argue with the best of us and miraculously cry on cue if it would get me or my brothers in trouble.”

Harry laughed. He could just picture a cute little Ginny with scraggly pony tails and those big brown eyes suddenly bursting into tears when her mum asked what happened. George shook his head in despair.

“Harry, Harry, Harry. You poor sap. You are completely besotted, aren’t you?”

“Yep!” Harry agreed cheerfully. He held up the other bag of sweets. It held something that looked rather like marshmallows. “What are these?”

“Those are Menagerie Marshmallows,” George explained. He reached into the bag and pulled out one of the sweets. Harry could see they had a drawing of an animal on it. George popped one with an elephant on it into his mouth. After a moment, he trumpeted loudly. Harry started laughing.

“These are great, George!”

George bowed dramatically. “Thank you, thank you.”

Shaking his head at his friend’s antics, he asked, “How is business so far?”

“Great,” George replied switching into business owner mode. “Our supply is holding up well and we’ve made buckets of Galleons so far today. I talked to Verity and she will be coming back to work here and Lee’s sister, Laura, will be working here as well. Lee will be helping Ron and me in the back and with product development.”

“That’s great,” Harry said looking around the packed shop.

“Percy and Fleur are working with Angelina on the pizza parlour idea,” George said proudly. “They are actually going to various pizza parlours in different cities to see what works and what doesn’t work.”

“Excellent,” Harry replied. “How is the search for a manager or cook going?”

“None of the people we interviewed seemed the right fit, so we have put off any further interviews until after the re-opening,” George said. “Once we get WWW back up and running we will start interviewing for the positions again.”

“George! Harry!”

The two men turned to see Alicia Spinnet and Oliver Wood standing in front of them. They both hugged Alicia and shook hands with Oliver.

“This place looks great, George,” Oliver said. “I’m glad you were able to re-open.”

“Thank you,” George replied. He looked over his former captain. Oliver was wearing a Puddlemere United t-shirt. “How goes Quidditch?”

“Great!” Oliver enthused. “I’ve been promoted to starter! I’m off the reserves.”

“Congrats!” Harry said. “That’s wonderful. When are your games? Do you have a schedule? I’ve never actually seen professional game aside from the World Cup.”

Alicia reached into her bag and pulled out a handful of schedules with the Puddlemere blue with crossed golden bulrushes embossed on it. Harry and George each took one. As George and Oliver started talking Quidditch, Harry found himself talking to Alicia.

“What are you doing these days?” He asked his former teammate.

“I’ve been kind of bouncing around,” Alicia said blushing a bit. “I had always wanted to work for the Ministry, but I quit last year with all of the craziness. I’ve been working at Quality Quidditch Supplies this summer helping them re-open.”

“I’m a bit jealous,” Harry said teasingly. “I’ve always loved the Quidditch shop. Are you going to stay there? The Ministry has changed quite a bit as well.”

“I’ve actually applied to the Department of International Magical Cooperation,” Alicia replied enthusiastically. “They have an internship that I’ve applied for. I’ve always been interested in working with other countries and this job involves some travel as well.” She glanced over at Oliver who was still involved in his conversation with George. “I’d love to be able to travel to other countries. The only drawback is I might not get to see Oliver as often.”

Harry nodded sympathetically. “I know what you mean. My girlfriend is at Hogwarts this year so I don’t get to see her anywhere near as often as I’d like.”

“I heard a rumour that you’re engaged, is that true?”

Harry blushed but smiled. “Yes, Ginny and I are planning to get married next Christmas.”

“That’s great!” Alicia said as she threw her arms around him. “Congratulations!”

“Thank you.”

As afternoon turned into evening, the crowd in the shop didn’t get smaller. It had actually spilled out into the street where Lee was working the WWW cart they’d created for special events.

Harry even put in some time behind the register to help out. A placard next to the register read: ‘All veterans of the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May 1998 will receive a 10% discount on all purchases. Thank you for your service to our country.’

“Isn’t that cool?” Ron asked when he saw his best mate reading the placard.

Harry nodded and cleared his throat. “That’s really nice.”

Harry groaned when Teddy once again started crying. Getting up, he headed over to the cot and lifted the baby up into his arms. He changed the baby’s nappy and offered him a bottle, but Teddy didn’t seem interested in eating.

Standing up, Harry rocked the baby back and forth which calmed him a bit.

“Everything okay, mate?”

Harry turned to see Seamus standing in the doorway. He shook his head. “Teddy keeps crying and I don’t know what to do to help him. He’s really fussy, but he’s not hungry. He’s not warm. I don’t know what to do. Mrs Tonks isn’t feeling well, that’s why I have him in the first place.”

Seamus wandered in and gently took the baby from him. Looking over the baby he said, “I think he might be teething.”

“Teething? You mean his teeth are coming in?”

Seamus nodded. Holding the baby’s head towards Harry he said, “Just gently run one of your fingers around his gums.”

Harry did as he was instructed. “Those little bumps are teeth coming through.”

The Irish boy nodded. “Me dad always used to advocate the use of a little whiskey to calm the babies, but me mam taught me a spell to use. Does he have a teething ring or anything like that?”

Rummaging through Teddy’s diaper bag, Harry came up with a clear blue ring that he’d noticed Teddy chewing on earlier. “Is this a teething ring?”

Setting Teddy down on the cot for a moment, Seamus took the ring and taught Harry how to cast the spell on the ring. It made the ring cool and also numbed the baby’s gums when they put it in their mouth. Nervously Harry handed the ring to Teddy. The two older boys watched while the baby gnawed on the ring. After a few moment, Teddy’s eyes drifted shut.

Harry let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you, mate. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

He gestured towards the small cold cupboard that had been set up in the corner of the room. “If you want a butterbeer, help yourself.”

“You have a cold cupboard in your bedroom?” Seamus laughed as he helped himself to a butterbeer and tossed one to Harry.

Blushing, Harry shrugged. “We originally had it put in for the baby, so we wouldn’t have to walk down five flights of stairs in the middle of the night if Teddy was hungry. I added the butterbeers last week.”

The two boys settled into the armchairs that were set up in the sitting area of the bedroom. At Harry’s request Kreacher had set up a sitting area with the chairs and low tables. Harry liked to sit and read sometimes in the evenings.

Harry explained, “I still wake up with nightmares and…well I decided I didn’t want to walk down five flights of stairs at night either.”

“That’s brilliant,” Seamus said as he looked around the room. “I don’t think I’ve been up here before.”

“Kreacher did a brilliant job on this room,” Harry laughed. “My godfather had photos of girls in bikinis on the ceiling and Gryffindor colours which aggravated his Slytherin family to no end. Kreacher refurbished the bed and wardrobe and painted the walls. It looks great and Ginny likes it.”

Seamus laughed. “Now we get to what really matters.”

Harry grinned. “Yup!” He took another swig out of his butterbeer before asking, “How do you know so much about babies?”

Seamus laughed. “We have so many children in our family. I have a ton of cousins and there is always some baby around. I have three
older sisters and two of them have kids. I’ve just kind of learned a lot.”

“That must be nice,” Harry said a bit enviously. “It was just me and my cousin growing up.”

“Do you see them at all?”

Harry shook his head. “They got back into their house and my uncle sent me a bill for ‘damages’ the ‘freaks’ had done to his house. I sent them the money and my loving aunt told me to stay away from them.”

“Damn, mate,” Seamus lowered his butterbeer in astonishment. “That’s rough.”

Harry shrugged. “They never wanted me there and made sure I knew it. Professor Dumbledore left me on their doorstep after my parents were killed and when my aunt took me in that’s what set up the blood wards.”

“Professor Dumbledore left you on their doorstep? In November?”

Harry laughed. “You should hear Ginny when she gets started on the topic. She’s not a huge fan of Professor Dumbledore at the moment.”

Seamus caught sight of the clock. “I guess I’d better be headed back downstairs and go to bed.”

Standing Harry agreed. “Thanks, mate I really appreciate the help.”

Ginny blew her whistle and the players came to a halt. She had already decided to keep Demelza and Dean as the other two Chasers. Coote and Peakes made it back as Beaters. As she landed she gestured for the other Chasers to join her.

“You two are back on the team,” Ginny said with a smile. “You need to help me test potential Keepers.”

After watching five players try-out, Ginny decided on a 4th year Eric Johnson, who she discovered was Angelina’s cousin. Seeker try-outs were the hardest for Ginny. While Dean and the Beaters worked with Eric, Demelza and Ginny watched the candidates for Seeker.

“It’s so hard,” Ginny said. “Next to Harry, none of these kids look very good.”

“You need to stop comparing them to Harry. None of them are as good as him, but who is?” Demelza said. “Amber isn’t bad.” She gestured to a small blonde 3rd year. “She’s pretty good. She flies really well, she didn’t catch the Snitch every time, but she was better than Martin.”

“She just seems so cautious in her dives,” Ginny commented.

Demelza laughed. “Next to Harry everyone is cautious in their diving.”

Ginny nodded thoughtfully as she watched the team flying together. She realized that Demelza was right; she was spoiled from the years of watching Harry fly. Amber was pretty good. She also liked the idea of having a 3rd and 4th year on the team. It would help with a bit of continuity as next year she, Demelza, and Dean would all be gone.

Her mind made up she called the team together. “Okay, Amber you are our new Seeker.”

The younger girl squealed and made Ginny smile. “I’ll post times for our practices. Our first game is against Slytherin on the 7th of November. We have a full seven weeks before our first game and I know we will do great.”

After showering and changing she and Demelza headed back to the castle. It was Hermione’s birthday and she wanted to do something fun for her friend. Hermione had skipped Quidditch try-outs this morning in favour of working with Professor Rossi on the book club.
Demelza and Ginny headed down to the kitchen. As the two girls entered the kitchen, they were immediately met by a cheerful elf.

“Miss Ginny, Miss Demelza, good morning.”

“Good morning, Cami,” Ginny replied. She’s gotten to know the head elf quite well last year by sneaking down to the kitchen. Cami and the other elves had been instrumental in helping the students the previous year. They couldn’t ignore the orders of the Carrow and Headmaster, but they found ways around the orders and would leave food and drink for the students.

“How is everything down in the kitchen this year, Cami?”

“Much better, Miss Ginny.”

“Good,” Ginny said with a smile. “Today is my friend, Hermione’s birthday. I was hoping I could get a cake for her.”

“Of course Miss Ginny,” Cami replied as she looked over her shoulder at the other elves. “What kind of cake?”

“Her favourite is chocolate,” Ginny said.

“Cami can have a cake prepared in about thirty minutes,” the little elf said.

“Great,” Ginny said. “We’ll be back to pick it up.”

Together the two girls stopped by Professor Clark’s office so Ginny could give her the official list of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

“Thank you, Miss Weasley,” Professor Clark said as she reviewed the list. She smiled at the girls. “I am not quite as fanatical as our Headmistress, but I do enjoy the game. I understand Gryffindor has won the cup the last three years.”

Ginny nodded. “We have. It wasn’t three years in a row because we didn’t have Quidditch last year and four years ago we had the Tri-Wizard Tournament.”

Professor Clark nodded. “I understand this is your first year as Quidditch captain, is that correct?”

“It is,” Ginny said. “I’m a bit nervous, but I’m very excited. Professor McGonagall said she would have given me the captaincy last year, well after Harry. He was captain two years ago and obviously if the war hadn’t interfered he would have been the captain last year as well. When we came back last year, Professor Snape cancelled the Quidditch season, so all of us are a bit rusty.”

“Of course,” Professor Clark replied. “It sounds like you have everything well in hand. I received your request for practice times and
forwarded them to Madam Hooch. If you need anything else, please let me know.”

Hermione made her way back from the library. She was very pleased with the way the book club was progressing. She and Professor Rossi had chosen A Tale of Two Cities as the first book to be read for the club. Lisa Turpin had volunteered to help with the club and there seemed to be quite a bit of interest not only in the club, but also in having Muggle literature in the library.

When she had seen the set of brand new Encyclopaedias Britannica in the library, Hermione was taken back to her days in primary school. While she hadn’t made many friends her own age, she had always loved to read. During her last two years in primary school, Hermione had volunteered in the library. It was a lot of fun and she had become quite friendly with the two ladies who worked in the library.

As she climbed through the portrait hole, Ginny rushed over to her. “Hermione, come on! We’re going to the Friendship Chamber.”

“But I’m going…” Hermione found her argument was subverted when Ginny grabbed her hand and started dragging her out of the common room. Hermione was a bit put out that the younger girl refused to answer any questions. Soon they were standing at the door to the Friendship Chamber.

Ginny practically pushed Hermione ahead of her into the room. Hermione’s eyes grew wide when she saw a group of her friends standing in one corner of the room. That corner had been decorated with balloons and streamers as well as a sign that read Happy Birthday, Hermione! Hermione gasped as she turned to see Ginny grinning behind her.

“Happy Birthday!” Ginny said as she hugged her friend and kissed her on the cheek.

“Thank you!” Hermione replied as she blinked back tears. She’d never really had anyone throw her a party before. Ron and Harry had always remembered her birthday, but they’d never organized a party for her. All of the seventh year Gryffindors and all of the eighth year students were there.

There was a large chocolate cake as well as juice and biscuits on the table. Hermione was surprised and pleased to see a small pile of gaily wrapped presents. Someone turned on the WWN and soon everyone was talking and laughing.

“Ginny, this is amazing! Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Ginny replied. “I wanted to make sure you had fun today.” She gestured towards the presents. “Harry brought gifts from him, Ron and your parents yesterday.”

“That’s why I didn’t get anything this morning,” Hermione said with a bit of relief.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Ginny said. “I didn’t think about that. You didn’t get anything in the mail this morning.”

“No, I actually received a card from Hagrid,” Hermione said with a smile.

“Hermione, come over here,” Lisa called. “You need to explain the book club to Mandy. You explain it a lot better than I do.”

Ginny watched Hermione drawn into multiple conversations over the course of the afternoon. She was glad that everyone had responded so positively to the idea of having a party for Hermione.

Towards the end of the party, Hermione sat down and opened her presents. She received candy and several bookmarks from the other students. Harry and Ginny had given her a book on the history of magical creatures as well as a set of nice bath products. Her parents had sent her some books as well as a nice jumper and new dress. She had been a little leery of opening Ron’s gift, but she was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful decorative barrette for her hair. It was decorated with little blue gems.

“Wow, that’s really nice,” Ginny said approvingly. “It looks like Ron has improved in his gift giving abilities.”

Hermione laughed. “Yes, that perfume he gave me fifth year…that was interesting.”

“Which translates to horrible,” Ginny teased.

“Yes,” Hermione admitted. “It had a really strong musky scent that was just awful. I ‘accidentally’ dropped it so he would stop asking if I was wearing it.”

The two girls headed back to Gryffindor tower carrying all of Hermione’s birthday gifts. For Hermione it was her best birthday since she’d started at Hogwarts.

Hermione and Ginny settled down at their favourite table in the library to start their homework. They had a 12 inch scroll on how to use and conjure a Patronus due the next day in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Ginny rather liked Professor Irving’s assignments. He asked for a maximum of 12 inches, but would accept less if you could adequately cover the topic.

Ginny started writing her essay using just the textbook and her own experiences for references. Hermione on the other hand immediately hit the shelves looking for more books on Patronuses. Ginny shoved her recently returned Transfiguration essay back into her bag. She was pleased with her E on the essay about Animagi. Hermione, quite predictably, had received an O on her essay.

Ginny found it kind of funny that Hermione would get so nervous before handing in essays. As far as Ginny could tell, Hermione had all Os in her classes so she didn’t understand why Hermione would get so nervous.

By the time Hermione made her way back to the table with several large reference books, Ginny had almost finished her essay.
Looking at her friend in confusion Ginny said, “Hermione, you can cast a Patronus and have cast one many times. Why do you need so many reference books?”

“I still have trouble with the Patronus at times, I want to find out if there is a reason why,” Hermione replied earnestly. “There were times that I couldn’t cast my Patronus. The only time Harry ever had a problem was when he was wearing the locket. I don’t understand why his Patronus is so much stronger than mine.”

“Seriously?” Ginny was surprised. “Hermione, he is very gifted in Defence. He learned to produce a Patronus when he was 13 years old. Why wouldn’t it be stronger than yours?”

“Well…I don’t know,” Hermione admitted a bit flustered. “It’s just…I don’t understand why I can’t do as well as him.”

“Hermione, everyone has different strengths,” Ginny said. “Why do you have to do as well or better than everyone?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Hermione said.

Setting her quill down, Ginny looked at Hermione. “Tell me.”

Hermione looked down at the books on the table. “I never really had any friends in primary school. I read too much and got good grades and I was just a little strange. Now I realize I performed accidental magic, but back then I didn’t realize what was happening. When I found out I was a witch, everything just made so much sense. Then I started here at Hogwarts and found out that I didn’t exactly fit in here either.”

“Harry told me how you had a hard time at the beginning of your first year,” Ginny said softly.

Hermione nodded. “I was so upset that I didn’t fit in here either. Once I became friends with Ron and Harry…I was the smart one. I was the one who figured things out and I figured that was my role to be the researcher and the smart one.”

“Hermione, you can’t think that’s the only reason they’re your friends,” Ginny said astonished. “Even if you could never provide him another answer on anything Harry wouldn’t abandon you. Ron certainly likes you for reasons other than because you are so smart.”

“I know,” Hermione said. “It just…I don’t know how to explain it. I feel almost like I’m back in my first year again. I don’t know that many
people and it seems like people expect me to have the answer.”

“So tell them you don’t know or you have to look it up,” Ginny said. “Hermione, you are a wonderful friend, but you don’t need to know everything. Just relax and make friends. You’re having fun with the book club and the other eighth year students, right?”

“You don’t understand.”

“What don’t I understand?”

“You don’t know what it’s like to have no friends and no one to turn to,” Hermione burst out. “You are pretty, smart, and athletic. You don’t have to worry no one will like you.”

“I don’t know what it’s like?” Ginny repeated in disbelief. “I wrote in an enchanted diary my first year because I didn’t have anyone else to turn to. I had four brothers at this school and they were all too busy to help me or talk to me. None of my roommates wanted to make friends with the girl who had to wear hand-me-down boys’ clothes. Ron told me to go away any time I got near him. Don’t you dare make it out like I don’t know what it’s like to not have friends here! I do, but I got over it. You need to as well. I’m sorry you didn’t have any friends, but that was a long time ago. There are a lot of people who would like to be your friend if you would just relax and have fun.”

Gathering up her books and essay, Ginny hurried out of the library. She was so upset that she didn’t know where to go. She hurried along the corridors until she came to one of the hidden passageways she’d discovered during her very lonely second year. At the end of the passageway was an old classroom that had been long forgotten. Ginny had sought refuge here many times in the past.

She sank down on the floor tears welling up in her eyes. It had been a long time since she’d thought about those awful days. She’d had such high hopes starting at Hogwarts, but the reality was nowhere near what she’d imagined. It started on the train. Fred and George had helped her get her trunk onto the train, but soon deserted her. Percy was in the Prefect compartment and Ron was nowhere to be found.
The girls in her year she’d found were all Purebloods who found her too poor and too plain and wouldn’t talk to her.

Once she’d started writing in the diary, her year went to hell. She couldn’t remember half of the year, but she could remember some of the horrid things Tom had told her. Once she was securely under his thrall, he would tell her about the children he’d tortured at the orphanage or the girls he’d taken advantage of. It was awful.

Her second year didn’t start out much better. She hadn’t made friends with her roommates the previous year and she had to work hard to make up her grades. Professor McGonagall had thrown her a life line when she invited her to tea on Sunday afternoons. At first she was scared of the stern witch, but soon she realized she could confide in the older woman and she wouldn’t judge her.

Between the letters to her oldest brother and tea with Professor McGonagall, Ginny slowly adjusted to life at Hogwarts. She had eventually made friends with her roommates and started to enjoy school, but it had been a lonely first two years. To hear Hermione dismiss her troubles showed how little the older girl knew of her difficulties.

Wiping her eyes, she looked at her watch. It was dinner time, but she didn’t feel up to talking to Hermione. Pulling out her mirror, she said, “Harry Potter.”

When she heard him say her name, she had to blink back tears. She missed him so much.

“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked in concern.

As she looked into his warm, loving green eyes she found herself telling him everything. She told him about her talk with Hermione and started talking about her first two years. He was so warm and caring. She didn’t think she’d ever told anyone everything she told him, but she knew he wouldn’t judge her or think she was weak.

“I’m sorry I’m not there for you, baby,” Harry said once she’d talked herself out. “Where are you?”

She shrugged. “I’m in an unused classroom I found my second year. I used to wander the halls a lot and I found this classroom. I tried to clean it up a bit, but I don’t know that I did a very good job.”

“Hold on,” Harry said. He turned so she could only see his profile. He was talking to someone or looking at something she couldn’t tell which. After a moment he turned back to her, his eyes dancing with excitement. “Hold on, love. We’re going to try something.”

A moment later Ginny heard a pop. She turned to see Harry standing there with Kreacher. With a gasp, she threw herself into his arms. “Harry!”

He held her tightly. For a few minutes they just held each other, enjoying the unexpected opportunity to be together. Reaching up Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a passionate kiss. Harry responded by pulling her closer. As he slid his hand into her hair, his tongue traced her lips and slipped inside her mouth when she gasped. He could feel her moan as he tangled his tongue with hers. The sound and feel of her was incredibly arousing. With one hand he cupped the back of her head and with the other he pulled up her robes so he could caress her more freely.

After what seemed to be both a really long time and definitely not long enough, Harry pulled away and rested his forehead on hers. “You are so incredibly sexy.”

She managed a shaky laugh. “The feeling is mutual, trust me.” Cupping his cheek in her hand, she planted a soft kiss on his lips. “Thank you for coming.”

“I would do anything for you Ginny, you know that,” he said huskily.

Looking around the room Ginny laughed. “Kreacher, this is wonderful. Thank you for cleaning it up so well.”

Kreacher bowed. “You are welcome, Mistress.”

“Kreacher, can you bring dinner for me and Ginny?”

“Certainly, Master.”

With a few spells, the wizened old elf had cleaned up the room getting rid of several decades worth of dust and grime. There was now a couch with a low table in front of it that faced a large picture window looking out onto the Forbidden Forest. Kreacher had provided a small table for two complete with candles and flowers. There was a fireplace against one wall, but it appeared to be blocked. The portrait above the fireplace was a portrait depicting Stonehenge against a setting sun. The sconces on the wall were gleaming and looked like they’d been scrubbed and polished.

“Kreacher will return with your meal in a few moments.”

“Thank you, Kreacher.” Harry said with a smile. When the elf disappeared, Harry smiled at his fiancée and guided her to the couch. “First, my love, I wanted to give you this. I should have given this to you before now.”

He handed her an old looking piece of parchment, one that Ginny recognized instantly. “The Marauders’ Map!”

“If you are looking for a place to get away from it all I want you to be able to find it,” Harry said sincerely. “I should have given it to you at the beginning of the year.” He blushed slightly. “I was being a little selfish. I like watching your dot on the map. That way I know you are safe.”

“Thank you,” Ginny replied. She curled up on Harry’s lap, happy that she was able to draw comfort from him. “I don’t think you’re selfish at all. It was your dad’s map.” She kissed him on the cheek. “I like the thought of you watching out for me.”

He gave her a lopsided smile that never failed to make her melt. “I do what I can. I’m so sorry I was such an oblivious prat your first few years here. I may have saved you, but I didn’t do a whole lot to make sure you were okay. I wanted to write to you, but I was nervous and Ron said you were okay.” He sighed. “I should have checked myself. I really don’t deserve you.”

Ginny snuggled closer to him. “Of course you do. I think we both have been through enough that we deserve each other.”

“You are so sweet, Ginny — love,” he replied. “So McGonagall had tea with you every Sunday? That is amazing. I’m so glad she was here for you.”

“I was a bit nervous at first,” Ginny confided. “She seemed so stern and when she first told me to meet her I was afraid I was in trouble. I was already behind in my classes and I was afraid she was going to tell me they’d decided I was more trouble than I was worth.”

Harry laughed softly. “When I first made the Quidditch team, McGonagall came storming out of the castle yelling at me. I followed her into that building so certain she was going to expel me or beat me or something horrible. Instead she fed me biscuits, put me on the Quidditch team, and bought me a broom.”

“She really is sweet under that gruff exterior,” Ginny said. She sighed. “Do you think she’d just let me move in with you and Floo into school?”

“As wonderful as that sounds,” Harry said with a squeeze for his fiancée, “I don’t see that happening.”

“I just don’t see how Hermione can stand there and tell me she has to be smarter than anyone else so she can have friends,” Ginny said heatedly. “There are lots of people who would like to be her friend who don’t care how bloody smart she is. Then she has the nerve to tell me I don’t know what it’s like to be friendless. You and Ron befriended her on Halloween. Halloween of my first year I was killing roosters for my new pal Tom. My second year while she was racing around trying to take every class known to mankind I was trying to find my place here. She has to be the smartest person in the class. Every time we get back an essay she checks out my grade to make sure I didn’t do better than her.”

“Trust me, I know,” Harry said. “She never really liked the fact that I did better in Defence, but I think she accepted it. She hated when I got better grades in Potions. All sixth year she was going on and on about how I was cheating. I wasn’t cheating, I was using a different set of instructions. It could have blown up in my face, but I lucked out and the instructions worked.”

Ginny sighed. “Well, I don’t think we will figure out how Hermione’s mind works. I just want her to relax and enjoy her last year. Maybe once she realizes she’s still on top in all of her classes she’ll relax and calm down.”

Kreacher returned with a large tray. He had roast chicken, potatoes, and vegetables as well as a large jug of pumpkin juice. Harry had to grin when he saw the plate of treacle tart waiting for afters.

“Thank you, Kreacher,” Harry said. “I’ll call when I’m ready to come home.”

“Very good, Master,” Kreacher said.

Once the elf left, the couple sat down together to eat. Ginny smiled as she took off her robes and laid them across the back of the couch. She smiled at Harry as he held out her chair for her. He sat down across from her, lighting the tall candles in the centrepiece.

Harry handed her a plate of food and helped himself. Ginny sighed as she took the first bite. “I’ve missed this - eating with you.”

“Me too,” Harry replied. “This week it’s just been me and Seamus most nights.”

“What about Ron and George?”

“They’ve been working late and eating at the Leaky before coming home. I’ve told them that Kreacher would be happy to fix them food, but…well I think they’ve been drinking a bit before coming home.”

“Every night?” Ginny asked in dismay.

“I tried to talk to Ron, but he says they’re just blowing off steam,” Harry said a bit unhappily. “Ron, George, Verity, and some of the other employees all go out together. He says they are just having fun together and nothing is wrong. They aren’t coming back drunk or anything, but they’ve definitely been drinking.”

“How’s the shop?”

“Going great,” Harry replied. “Re-opening day was a big hit. I know George has been really energized and in a really good mood. He and Ron have been talking about new products and he and Percy have been talking about the pizza shop.” He sighed. “Maybe I’m just worrying about nothing. It’s strange for me and Ron and Hermione to all be doing different things. I’ve been hanging out with Seamus more than Ron lately. I’ve asked Ron if he wants to join us in jogging, but he thinks we’re crazy for running without someone chasing us.”

Ginny giggled. “That so sounds like something Ron would say. I’ve been keeping up with the running. Demelza and I have been running laps around the pitch. I want to eventually run around the lake, but I don’t think I’m quite up for that yet.”

“That’s great, baby,” Harry said. “I wish…maybe we could go running one Friday evening after class. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

“That would be great,” Ginny replied.

“So what assignment were you working on?” Harry asked.

As they ate, they talked about their respective classes and what they were learning. Harry was happy to hear that overall, Ginny was doing well and enjoying herself. He loved just listening to her, especially when she was happy. When she was happy, she just glowed.

Once they’d finished their dinner, the couple ended up cuddling on the couch. Ginny was sitting on his lap and he had one arm wrapped around her and the other rested on her thigh.

“You are doing so well,” Harry said admiringly after he listened to her latest plans for Parents’ Weekend.

She blushed. “Thank you. It’s been really fun and I think most of the school is looking forward to it.” She looked up at him. “You will be there, right?”

“Of course,” he said promptly. “I have it blocked off on my calendar. Your parents are coming and the Grangers.”

“What about Ron?” Ginny asked.

“I’m assuming he’s coming,” Harry said. “After all it’s still a Hogsmeade weekend, even if it is the parents’ weekend. I’m sure Hermione’s parents would like to spend some time with Ron and get to know him a little better.”

She leaned in a little closer and ran her hand up his chest. “I’ve really missed you and missed this.”

He smiled his sexy smile again. “Really?”

She nodded and pulled him into a deep kiss. Soon she found herself straddling him with both her hands busy, one in his hair and the other caressing his chest. He had one hand on her hip and the other one was busy doing some exploring of his own. He unbuttoned her shirt, his eyes glued on her chest as it was revealed to him. Today she was wearing a shimmering, purple, lace edged bra. He thought she looked amazing.

He maneuvered them so they were both stretched out on the couch. A few flicks of his wand enlarged the couch. Looking around, he applied both silencing and locking charms to the room. As he set his wand down, Ginny pulled his shirt up over his head.

The feel of her soft, silky skin on his bare skin was intoxicating. Kissing his way down her chest, he undid the bra freeing her breasts into his hands. Ginny’s erotic moan spurred him on as he kissed and caressed her breasts. She lifted her hips and rubbed against him.

“Gin,” he moaned against her skin. Lifting his head, he kissed her deeply. When he felt her hands on the buckle to his belt, he helped her rid him of his clothes and reverently pulled off her jeans and knickers. He kissed and caressed her trying to prolong their pleasure, but he wanted her so badly.

After making sure she was ready, he buried himself into her. She urged him on with her hands, her mouth, and her body. As he felt her finish, he let himself go and soon followed her. He lay back against the couch and pulled her to his chest. She rested against him listening to his heart beating.

He drifted off to sleep holding her in his arms. He woke with a start some time later. A look out the window showed it was dark outside. He swore softly, he hadn’t meant to fall asleep.

“Sweetie,” Harry said as he gently shook his fiancée. “Baby, you need to wake up. It’s late.”

Ginny lifted her head. “Shite! What time is it?”

Looking at his watch, he winced. “It’s 11:20.”

She swore as she started pulling her clothes on. He did the same and once they were fully dressed, they looked at each other. Harry held out his arms and Ginny willingly went into them.

“Thank you for coming, love,” she said softly.

“Anytime, my love,” Harry said. He lifted her chin gently with one finger. “I mean that. I will do anything for you and if you need me to come and comfort you I will gladly do so.”

She smiled up at him, her joy almost visible. He couldn’t hold himself back. Leaning down he kissed her gently. Hugging him to her, she said, “I need to get back.”

“Check the map,” Harry urged.

She tapped the map with her wand. “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”

The two of them peered at the map. Luckily the corridors were almost empty. Miss Zumbrowski was making her rounds on the ground floor.

Leaning over, Harry kissed her one last time. “I love you. I’ll see you on Friday. Call me on your mirror when you get back to your room.”
“I love you, too.”

Pulling her robes back over her head and straightening her Head Girl pin, Ginny asked, “Do I look okay?”

He laughed. “You look gorgeous as always.” He smoothed her hair and kissed her one last time. “Everything is straight, but I think it’s kind of obvious what you’ve been doing for the last few hours.”

She shrugged. “Oh well. I’ll hurry. I love you.”

With one last check of the map, she hurried down the winding stairs to the hidden passageway. She double checked the map and upon confirming it was clear, she quickly made her way back to Gryffindor Tower.

The Fat Lady gave her a rather knowing look when she arrived in front of the portrait. Blushing Ginny said, “Astrid.”

“Getting in a bit late,” the Fat Lady observed.

“I am Head Girl,” Ginny said defending herself.

With a rather annoying knowing chuckle, the Fat Lady opened the portrait and Ginny climbed through.

“There you are!” Hermione was waiting by the fireplace. “Where were you? I was so worried about you.”

“Sorry,” Ginny replied shortly. “I went for a walk.”

Hermione eyed her a bit nervously. “I’m sorry I upset you. I didn’t mean to be so thoughtless. Of course you had your share of problems as well, you just handle yourself with such…I don’t know how to describe it…grace? Yeah, you handle yourself with such grace and such poise that I forget what happened.”

“I understand that,” Ginny sighed. “Everyone has wanted to forget what happened as soon as it did. But Hermione, I worked hard to make up my work and to make friends and get over what happened. It didn’t just fall into my lap. If you want to make friends you need to put more of an effort into it.”

Hermione nodded as the two head upstairs. “I will.”

Friday couldn’t come fast enough for Ginny. While she loved Friday because she got to see Harry, it was also one of her busiest days. She had Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts in the morning with double History of Magic in the afternoon.

Charms had always been one of her favourite classes and Professor Flitwick was a fun and informative teacher. They were working on household charms which, while not her favourite type of charms, she had listened to her mother perform them for years so she was somewhat familiar with them.

After Charms they headed for Defence Against the Dark Arts. Ginny really liked the gruff American, he was one of the best professors they’d ever had.

Once they’d settled in, Professor Irving called the class to order. “I’ve finished grading your Patronus essays and I will be handing them back towards the end of class. How many of you can cast a Patronus?”

Out of the twenty-five students in the class, fifteen of the students raised their hands. Professor Irving shook his head sadly. “While it is quite impressive that so many of you can cast a Patronus, it is also rather sad that you have had to learn at such a young age.”

“All of those who can cast a Patronus please come to the front of the room.”

Exchanging a look with Hermione, Ginny joined the other students at the front of the room. Of the ten students who could not produce a Patronus, Ginny was not surprised to see six of them were Slytherin.

“For those who have not been able to produce a Patronus, we will work on them so you can master that skill,” Professor Irving announced. He turned to look at the group arrayed behind him. “Mr Thomas, can you tell me what a Patronus is?”

“It is a magical protection that can protect you from a Dementor,” Dean said a touch nervously. “You use happy thoughts and memories to power a Patronus.”

“Very good,” Professor Irving said. “A Patronus is the embodiment of a positive thought. It is used to fight draining evil creatures such as Dementors and Lethifolds. Five points to Gryffindor, Mr Thomas.”

Looking at Dean he said, “Mr Thomas, would you cast your Patronus?”

Nodding Dean called out, “Expecto Patronum!”

A silvery looking Labrador bounded out of Dean’s wand and ran around the room.

“Excellent,” Professor Irving said. “Another five points for Gryffindor. You may sit down.”

Each student cast the Patronus Charm, one by one. A few students still had a bit of difficulty, they were able to produce a silvery shield, but not a corporeal Patronus. Luna’s hare received a round of laughter as it hopped around the room. Demelza’s dolphin and Hermione’s otter were two other playful animals. Justin’s lion was rather impressive and Mandy’s peacock was very pretty. Soon Ginny was the only one left in front of the classroom.

At a nod from Professor Irving, she closed her eyes for a moment drawing up the precious memories from Monday night when Harry had come to the castle to comfort her. The thought of Harry’s expressive green eyes above her as he made love to her filled her mind. While she was sure she was probably blushing wildly, she couldn’t help but smile. With that memory filling her senses she called out, “Expecto Patronum!”

Opening her eyes, she gasped as she watched her Patronus gallop gracefully around the room. After making a circuit around the room and not detecting any dangers, it stopped in front of Ginny and bowed before disappearing.

“You seem surprised Miss Weasley.”

Ginny nodded. “My Patronus has always been a horse before.”

“It is now a doe,” Professor Irving noted. “Do you know why it may have changed?”

“A Patronus can change after an extremely emotional event like a death or falling in love,” Ginny replied a bit distractedly.

“Are you comfortable in sharing why your Patronus may have changed?”

Ginny blushed, but smiled. “My fiancé’s Patronus is a stag so I guess mine changed to match his. Harry is the one who taught me how to cast a Patronus and…well I use a memory of him to cast the Patronus.”

Professor Irving smiled at her. “Very nice.” He gestured for her to take her seat. Looking around the class he said, “Well done everyone. That will be thirty points for Ravenclaw, ten points for Hufflepuff, and seventy points for Gryffindor. For the rest of the class time, I would like those who can cast a Patronus to help their classmates who cannot cast a Patronus.”

The students all stood and soon everyone was practicing the charm. Ginny found herself working with a very quiet girl, Anne, from Ravenclaw she didn’t know very well. Anne had never joined the DA and had chosen to attend Beauxbatons the previous year so she didn’t have much experience in fighting.

Anne started out unable to cast even a silvery mist, but with encouragement and practice by the end of class she could cast a shield. It was rather feeble looking and Ginny didn’t feel it would stand up to anything, but it was there.

“Excellent!” Professor Irving called out as he had the students all sit down. “I want you to keep practicing. Next week I will be bringing a simulated Dementor into the class. It will not be a real Dementor, but you will feel the effects of one being close to you. It is more difficult to cast a Patronus in the presence of a Dementor so that is why I would like you to have the spell down cold first.”

Ginny sighed a little, she really did hate the effects Dementors had upon her, but she understood his rationale. She brightened up a bit at the thought of telling Harry about her new Patronus. It was rather amazing and she hoped he would think so as well.

Professor Irving stood in front of his desk leaning back against it with a box of scrolls next to him. “I will be returning your essays as promised. I decided to return them at the end of class as I imagine several people will want to talk to me. I have tried to give everyone time to adjust to my expectations and I have given out several warnings that were not heeded. I asked for a maximum of 12 inches on how to use and conjure the Patronus Charm. I did not ask for an exhaustive essay on the Patronus or the history of the Patronus or anything else. Very simply I wanted to know how conjure a Patronus and what are the uses of a Patronus.”

Ginny noticed several of her classmates fidgeting uneasily including Hermione. Remembering the number of books Hermione had pulled on the Patronus Charm, Ginny had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well.

Professor Irving looked around the class before he sent the scrolls flying across the room to their creators. Ginny unrolled her scroll and was happy to see she had received an O.

She heard Hermione gasp and turned to see Hermione lower her paper with a large red D on top. As the class ended, Hermione made a beeline up to Professor Irving.

“How on Earth could I have a gotten a D?” Hermione asked angrily. “This is a well-researched, very thorough essay on Patronuses. I have never received a grade like this in my entire life!”

“Miss Granger, it is quite thorough and very well researched,” Professor Irving agreed. “However it was three scrolls long. I asked for a concise synopsis of the uses of a Patronus. I have warned you on the last two assignments you turned in to mind the assignment given and to stick to the requested length. You received a D instead of a T because you were able to make some points in the allotted length.”

“That is not fair!” Hermione raged.

“Miss Granger, I explained what I expected and you have not complied,” Professor Irving replied calmly.

“You can’t take off points like that,” Hermione said. “It is a good paper.”

“I have already agreed with you,” Professor Irving replied. “It is a good paper, but it is not what I asked for. I realize that you are highly intelligent and have a vast array of knowledge. I am asking that you edit that information instead of providing me with all of the information you have on the topic.”

Professor Irving turned away as Mandy demanded his attention. Ginny tugged on Hermione’s arm and the two of them started walking towards lunch. As she listened to Hermione rage against the unfairness of it all, Ginny knew it was going to be a long afternoon.

Back to index

Chapter 16: Chapter 16 Fun in London

Author's Notes: Thank you to my betas StephanieO and seekers_destiny for their hard work! The summary of 'The Fair Fortune' and the story about this first time it was used as a Christmas Pantomime were taken from The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. A special thank you to Mark for his suggestion of the Christmas Pantomime.

Harry and Ron made quite the contrast as they made their way to their seats at the Quidditch stadium. Harry was wearing a blue and gold Puddlemere shirt while Ron was decked out in head to toe with Cannons’ orange. Harry had to resist the urge to shade his eyes every time he looked over at his best mate, but when he saw the awed look on Ron’s face he couldn’t help but smile.

Harry was rather excited himself as this was the first regular season professional Quidditch match he had ever attended. A majority of the crowd were wearing the blue and gold of Puddlemere, but Ron was not alone in his loyalty to the worst team in professional Quidditch. Sprinkled in among all of the blue and gold were pockets of shocking orange.

The pair was loaded down with souvenirs purchases from the many kiosks and carts around the arena. Harry had purchased a programme, a new Puddlemere jersey, and one of the new Harpies’ jerseys for Ginny. To his surprise, Ron had managed to find some Cannons memorabilia he didn’t already own.

“I can’t believe you’re rooting against the Cannons,” Ron griped as they took their seats.

Harry shook his head. “I’ve never really liked the Cannons and I’m not going to root against Oliver. He was my first Quidditch captain.”

“But it’s the Cannons,” Ron argued weakly. He had never really spoken to Oliver. Oliver was Percy’s age and quite frankly he rather intimidated Ron. He couldn’t imagine being on Oliver’s Quidditch team. Angelina had been terrifying enough as a Quidditch captain and Oliver was rumoured to have been much worse.

Ron sat down and looked out at the crowd. While it was not as impressive as the World Cup had been, it was still amazing. The advertisement boards across the pitch were advertising everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans to Gladrags Wizardwear.

“Do you think we could advertise here?” Ron asked Harry. He flipped through the programme that he’d purchased as they’d walked through the gates. The Cannons’ portion of the programme was a bit light on advertising. “I bet we could make some sort of deal to help sponsor the programme and advertise during the games.”

“That’s a good idea,” Harry said. He started laughing. “I bet you could get a great deal, I mean who wants to sponsor the Cannons?”

The announcement of the teams prevented Ron from retaliating. Ron jumped up and down whistling and screaming with the rest of the Cannons’ fans as the team was announced. Harry was much more restrained. He clapped for all of the team members, but he did get a bit loud when they announced Oliver. It was amazing to him that a friend of his was playing professional Quidditch. As he listened to the crowd cheering for Oliver, he did have to admit he was rather envious.

The speed of the game was exhilarating and made Harry itch to get into the air. He’d bought himself a new Firebolt, but hadn’t had much time to fly. Watching the match made him determined to find some time in the next week to get out and fly. Oliver was doing well, but Harry could tell his former captain was not really being challenged. He didn’t let any Quaffles through. At the end of a mercifully quick twenty-two minutes, the Puddlemere Seeker caught the Snitch. Harry had seen the Snitch a good minute before either of the Seekers had seen it.

“Oliver, you were great!” Harry said as he greeted the man at the local pub after the match.

Oliver shrugged as he shook Harry’s hand. “Thanks, but it’s the Cannons.”

Harry snickered as Ron tried to fade into the background, rather an impossibility while wearing all orange. “It made me want get out and fly.”

“If you ever get tired of saving the world let me know,” Oliver laughed. “I will be more than happy to get you a try-out with any team you want. Any team would be thrilled to have you. I know our Seeker isn’t nearly as good as you are and I think you could give any Seeker a challenge.” Harry blushed, pleased with the compliments while Oliver gestured towards Ron. “I hope you aren’t a huge fan of the Cannons.”

Rolling his eyes, Harry said, “No, Ron is a huge Cannon’s fan, but not me.” Looking over at his best mate he teased, “I like teams that actually win.”

Ron made a face back at him, but didn’t say anything. He was still rather intimidated by Oliver and marvelled at Harry’s easy friendship with the man. Ron knew that Harry really appreciated the fact that Oliver wasn’t fazed by the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense, what counted with Oliver was Quidditch talent — something Harry had in spades.

As Oliver headed back to join his teammates, Ron asked Harry, “Do you ever regret not going for a Quidditch career?”

“Sometimes,” Harry admitted. “I love flying and I love playing Quidditch, but I don’t think I’d feel right playing Quidditch while there are still Death Eaters out there.” He slanted a look over at Ron. “What about you?”

“No,” Ron shook his head. “Don’t get me wrong, I would love to play professional Quidditch, but I was watching them out there today. I don’t think I could play at that level and I don’t think I would like all of the travel that comes with it.” He laughed. “You know how nervous I would get before games. I just don’t think I’m cut out for professional Quidditch.” He shrugged, “That’s okay, I’m happy working for George.”

Their conversation was interrupted as a flirtatious blonde approached. “Hi, I couldn’t help but notice the two of you were standing here by yourselves. Why don’t you come join me and my friends? We can show you how to celebrate a good Quidditch victory.”

Harry started backing up as soon as she started talking. Rolling his eyes he had to wonder why these girls kept approaching him. He looked over at Ron who seemed to be fixated on the assets the girl was flaunting.

Frowning he said rather sharply, “Ron!”

Blushing, Ron turned to look at him before turning back to the girl. “Sorry, we can’t join you.”

The girl seemed encouraged by the fact that he’d spoken to her and sidled up closer, placing her hand on Ron’s arm. “Are you sure? We could just have a drink. I saw the two of you at the game and we recognized both of you.” The girl blushed prettily. “You are such heroes and so amazing. We just wanted to thank you.”

“No,” Harry said firmly. “We both have girlfriends.”

“Harry, you don’t have to be so rude,” Ron said glaring at him. He turned to the girl with a smile. “I’m Ron Weasley.”

The girl giggled annoyingly. “I’m Emily Phillips.”

Harry watched in disbelief as Ron walked with Emily over to her table and greeted the other girls sitting there. After a few minutes, Ron strutted back over to where Harry was still sitting at the bar. Ron seemed very pleased with himself.

Glaring at his best mate, Harry asked, “Why the hell did you encourage her? If you talk to them they just follow you all night.”

“Sorry,” Ron said sarcastically, not sounding at all like he meant it. “She was just being friendly. Why do you have to be so rude?”

“Rude? These girls are only talking to us because they think we’re famous or something,” Harry said angrily. “I don’t want girls fawning over me because they want to be seen with me or something stupid like that. Plus I don’t want Ginny seeing pictures of me with another girl and getting the wrong idea.”

Ron shook his head. “You can still be friendly. So these girls wouldn’t have given us the time of day a few years ago, they are now. It’s fun. You can at least talk to them.”

“Somehow I don’t think it was talking that they had in mind,” Harry replied.

Ron shrugged, “So what?” Looking over at the bartender, Ron signalled for another round. “Harry, mate, you need to learn to relax and have fun. Not everything needs to be so serious. Spending time talking to a few pretty girls isn’t the end of the world.”

To Harry’s relief, Ron ignored most of the girls after that. Harry hated the attention that he received and he really didn’t understand why Ron enjoyed it so much.

“This microwave thingy sounds really handy,” Ginny remarked, pronouncing the unfamiliar word carefully.

Hermione shrugged, obviously not nearly as impressed with the gadget as Ginny was. “My mum loves to cook so she usually uses it to heat up left overs and of course for popcorn.”

“So you freeze foods and keep them in the freezer then use the microwave to heat them up later, right?”
Hermione nodded. Ginny sighed; Hermione had been like this all weekend. “Hermione, please, just go talk to him. Professor Irving seems like a reasonable man.”

“Of course you would say so,” Hermione snapped. “He gives you Os.”

“I earned an O with a well written essay that followed his rules,” Ginny countered. “You are just getting angrier and angrier and not getting anything done.”

“Fine,” Hermione snapped. “Fine, I will go talk to Professor Irving, but I still think the man is unprofessional and I don’t think he is qualified to teach this class. After all, he didn’t live here during the war so he doesn’t know what it was like.”

Rolling her eyes, Ginny watched as Hermione stomped out of the common room. She really hoped that Hermione would just talk to the professor. While she could understand Hermione being upset at her grade, Professor Irving had given them plenty of warning. Hermione and several of the Ravenclaws had failed to heed his warnings about editing the information they were providing.

Ginny really didn’t understand why. Hermione tried to explain, but what it sounded like to Ginny was Hermione had decided that the rules were for others. Obviously you wouldn’t want to read through a long poorly written essay, but if it was well written it was okay if it was longer. That honestly didn’t make a lot of sense to Ginny, but she kept her opinion to herself.

Instead, she pulled out Harry’s latest letter. She was rather jealous. He’d gone to a professional Quidditch match with Ron and it sounded amazing. He promised to take her to a match over the Easter holiday. The day after the match, there had been pictures in the paper of Harry and Alicia Spinnet as well as one of Harry talking to a pretty blonde. Ginny thought it was rather funny how Hermione still reacted to the pictures by reassuring Ginny she had nothing to worry about.

She didn’t know how to explain to Hermione that she didn’t worry about Harry talking to girls. She trusted him and knew he would never do anything to hurt her. She just really missed him and wished she was the one who was with him. She would have loved to have gone with Harry to his first professional Quidditch match, but she couldn’t begrudge him the happiness he had sharing that experience with Ron.

Hermione on the other hand was still rather angry by the time she reached Professor Irving’s office. Before she could think the better of it, she knocked loudly on the door.

“Come in.”

She entered the room and even though she was still angry, she found herself looking around the room curiously. Unlike Harry, she didn’t have a lot of experience in getting called into a professor’s office so she was rather curious, but for once she reigned in her curiosity.

“Miss Granger, please come in and sit down,” Professor Irving said from his spot behind his desk.
Hermione hurried over and did as she was bid. “Thank you, sir.”

“I am assuming you wanted to speak to me about your essay.”

“Yes, sir,” Hermione said.

To her frustration, before she could start explaining he held up his hand. “Please, Miss Granger, let me explain my rationale first.”

Nodding rather unwillingly, Hermione listened.

“I am trying to prepare you and your class for the real world. I want you to understand the concepts I am presenting and I highly encourage research. I vary my requirement for essays to show you that under different circumstances, different responses are appropriate.

“You have an in depth research project due in December, but for most of your weekly essays I am looking to see how concisely you can provide information. If you have a job and your employer asks for a summary on a certain topic how do you think they would react if you provided an in depth exploration of that topic?”

“They would be upset,” Hermione conceded.

“Exactly,” Professor Irving replied. “You will be called upon to write reports or summarize information or any variety of tasks. What is it you wish to do when you graduate?”

“I want to work to better the conditions for house elves,” Hermione said firmly.

“Excellent,” Professor Irving replied. “That is also a wonderful example. If you are trying to persuade someone to change a law or change conditions, do you think providing them with a long winded essay would help change their minds?”

“If it showed them the error of their ways, yes,” Hermione defended herself. “Sometimes a topic needs to be explored fully and if you don’t provide the pertinent information it wouldn’t be a complete explanation.”

“You said it yourself — provide pertinent information. If you provide members of the Wizengamot with a long well researched essay on house elves to change their minds I guarantee most of them wouldn’t even look at it. They would open it see how long it is and toss it on their desk.”

“So I should just give up?” Hermione was scandalized at the thought.

“No, you provide a brief summary of your points,” Professor Irving replied. “That is what they will read. Your well researched essay will be used to back up your points. It provides the foundation of your work, but as most people won’t read three scrolls worth of information you need to edit the information you provide.”

Hermione stared at him. “So…wait so you are saying that I can do the research and just give them the short version.”

“When that is called for,” Professor Irving replied. “There are always places for well written research. Journals are always looking for well researched, well written treatises on any number of topics, but for every day most people are looking for the short version. That doesn’t mean incomplete or poorly written, it just means concise.”

As Hermione thought over what the professor said, she started nodding. “That does make sense.”

Professor Irving smiled. “Good, then my point was made. I set the length of my essays for a reason and I expect them to be followed. It might interest you to know that I plan to drop everyone’s lowest grade meaning your lowest grade will be dismissed and will not count in your final grade.”

Hermione sagged against her chair in relief. “Thank you, sir.” She looked at him in confusion. “Why didn’t you just say that in class?”

“Because you weren’t ready to hear it then,” he replied. “I wanted to be certain to talk to everyone who was having trouble with my rules first; otherwise you might just continue to do the same thing over and over again.”

Blushing slightly, Hermione admitted to herself she might have done that in an attempt to prove she was correct. Out loud she said, “Thank you, sir.”

“You are quite welcome, Miss Granger,” he replied. “I expect to see your same excellent work, but in the quantities I request in the future.”

“I will do that,” she said.

She left the room in a much better mood than she’d arrived.

Harry and the other Auror trainees headed into the large training room to find both Dawlish and Williamson talking to a man Harry didn’t recognize. Arrayed against the front of the room were all sorts of guns — rifles, revolvers, automatic weapons as well as explosive devices such as grenades. Harry didn’t even know what most of the weapons were, but he thought they were all Muggle. It reminded Harry of some of the movies Dudley used to watch when they showed rooms full of weapons.

“Dad!” Michael exclaimed as he walked in.

The man Harry didn’t know turned and smiled at Michael, greeting him with a warm handshake. Terry also greeted Michael’s father while the others took their seats. Michael and Terry hurried to do the same.
Auror Dawlish greeted them all and introduced Michael’s father. “Trainees, this is Stewart Hill, Trainee Corner’s stepfather. He is a Muggle and he is a policeman. Today he is going to talk to us about Muggle weapons.”

“Muggle weapons?” Susan Bones spoke up. “Why do we need to know about Muggle weapons?”

Williamson smiled. “I am glad you asked, Miss Bones.” The man walked over to the table displaying some of the smaller handguns and picked one up. “Miss Bones, do you know what this is?”

She shook her head. Williamson replied. “That lack of knowledge can kill you.” He turned to Mr Hill. “Can you show them?”

“Certainly,” Mr Hill replied. He took the gun from Auror Williamson and after aiming the gun at the side wall where targets had been set up, he shot the gun. With the crack of the gunshot all of the class jumped. The bullet hit the target dead on in the centre.

Setting the gun down on the table, Mr Hill turned to the class. “That is a handgun. It can shoot and kill a person in seconds.” Gesturing to the weapons arrayed behind him, he said, “All of these weapons can kill and unfortunately these are not all of the weapons available.”

“But surely a Muggle weapon can’t kill a witch or wizard,” Susan protested.

Mr Hill didn’t answer her directly, but instead turned to his son. “Michael, didn’t you tell me you can form some sort of shield?”

Michael nodded and stood to join his father. After Michael cast a protective shield on the target, Mr Hill fired again. The bullet tore through the shield and hit the target without difficulty. Susan and Katie both gasped as the demonstration.

Into the shocked silence Dawlish said, “Many good Aurors have been lost to the guns and other weapons of Muggles. Usually because they don’t recognize the danger facing them until it is too late. I expect every one of you to take this class very seriously. The knowledge you learn here can save your life out in the field.”

“So if a shield won’t stop it, what can we do?” Katie asked.

Mr Hill looked around the class. “Does anyone have a thought?”

Slowly Harry raised his hand. Mr Hill nodded, “Yes, go ahead.”

“You could change the bullets into something else,” Harry offered. “I’m not exactly sure how it would work, but you could transfigure them into something or you could conjure up something that would protect you like that protective gear — I’m not sure what it’s called, the stuff that makes bullet proof vests.”

Mr Hill laughed. “Kevlar, yes you could use Kevlar to stop the bullet. I like the idea of changing the bullet into something, but timing would be critical. I’ve spent some time speaking with Aurors Dawlish and Williamson and they explained some of the magic that could be used. The issue is if you wait until the gun is fired, you will have to block it.”

Seamus raised his hand. “Could you transfigure the gun into something else?”

“Give it a try,” Dawlish suggested.

Nodding Seamus transfigured the gun into a plastic toy. He relaxed when he saw he’d been able to do

“Excellent,” Dawlish praised.

The class that followed was one of the most challenging Harry had taken. They learned about Muggle weapons and how they worked. Mr Hill had all of the trainees learn how to shoot the guns and how to recognize a gun. Harry found he was quite adept at spotting a concealed weapon while Michael was the best at recognizing what type of firearm they were facing.

After learning about guns, they practiced transfiguring them and blocking bullets. Not all of their attempts were successful, but overall the group did well. For Harry, the most entertaining moment came when Susan transfigured a group of grenades into ferrets. The cute furry creatures scampered around the room until Susan Vanished them.

That night Harry was enthusiastically telling Ginny all about their class. “It just makes so much sense to work with Muggle Law Enforcement. I know we need to maintain the Statute of Secrecy, but there is so much good we could do if we worked together.”

“I think you’re right,” Ginny agreed. “We are learning so much in our Muggle studies class. So many witches and wizards think that Muggles are little better than animals and they aren’t. In some ways they are so much further ahead of us. I mean Muggles have all of these amazing machines and they explore so much. In the Wizarding world we don’t try to progress, we try to keep things the same. Muggles are curious and try to invent new technologies while we don’t encourage inventing new spells.”

“That’s a really good point,” Harry said. “I think we'll be working with both Muggle and Wizarding
technologies. We’ll be learning to drive a car and we’ll all be getting our driver’s licenses. I asked and I’ll be able to get my motorcycle license as well. In November we’ll be taking a week long seminar in forensics offered by Scotland Yard. I can’t wait, that sounds so cool. Mr Choudry said after we learn Muggle forensics we will learn Wizarding forensics so we can work both Muggle and Wizarding crime scenes. It will really help with interacting with our Muggle counterparts. Mr Hill is very smart and he’s helping us a lot. He’s helping to revamp our curriculum so we can learn the best parts of both types of investigating.”

Ginny smiled as she listened to Harry talk. She loved listening to him when he was so enthusiastic and happy. “What are forensics? I’ve heard you mention them before, but I don’t know what it means.”

“Oh, sorry,” Harry said with a contrite smile. “It is the scientific tests used in investigating crimes. Muggles use things like fingerprints, pictures of the crime scene and they can find out lots of things from blood. It’s amazing they can tell if a blood drop is made from dripping or splattering or whatever. Wizarding forensics can detect what spells have been cast in an area and there are ways to detect Apparition or the use of Portkeys. It’s really fascinating. Michael’s really good at explaining that sort of stuff to the rest of us who haven’t been around it as much.”

“That’s great,” Ginny said. “I never realized what his dad did for a living. I knew his dad was a Muggle, but I don’t think I knew he was a policeman.” A noise behind her made her turn. She groaned. “The girls are starting to come up to get ready for bed. I guess I should as well.”

Harry didn’t look any happier than she did. “Okay, my love. I miss you.”

She smiled at him. “I miss you too and I really wish I could be there with you. I love you. I’ll see you on Friday.”

“See you Friday, love.”

Ginny shivered as she waited for Professor Irving to open the large chest that was sitting on the raised platform at the front of the room. She hated Dementors and although she knew that what Professor Irving had in the chest wasn’t a Dementor, it provoked the same reactions in people.

As she waited for everyone to fill into the classroom, she thought back to that first horrible time on the train. She’d been scared and nervous about going back to school in the first place. Her memories of her whole first year were rather hazy and she didn’t know how her ‘victims’ were going to react to her.
She could still remember the heart breaking feeling when Ron told her to go away on the train. Over the summer her brothers had assured her they would be there for her, but at the first test Ron had sent her away. Even with his admonishment, when the horrible cold feeling came over the train she hurried to Ron’s compartment.

As the Dementor came into the compartment, she had become lost in the feelings of horror that Tom created in her. While she had not passed out like Harry had, she sat shaking and lost for the rest of the trip.

The sound of the door closing brought her back to the present. Nervously she looked over at Hermione who seemed rather unconcerned at the thought of the Dementor. With a sigh she wished she could be as calm and collected as Hermione appeared.

After Professor Irving reviewed Dementors and how to combat them, he had them queue up to face the faux Dementor. Ginny found herself towards the front of the line. Luna and Demelza didn’t seem to have any trouble with the faux Dementor — their Patronuses chased away it without a problem.

Hermione was in front of Ginny and to Ginny’s eye Hermione was calm, cool, and collected. She stepped to the front of the room, her wand held in front of her and her stance perfect. As the chest opened and the faux Dementor flew out, Ginny saw a slight hesitation in Hermione’s actions. After a pause, Hermione called out, “Expecto Patronum!”

Her otter flew out of her wand and the illusion was dispelled. Hermione relaxed slightly and joined her classmates on the other side of the classroom. Madam Florence, the therapist, was waiting with a huge hunk of chocolate. She was chipping off pieces of chocolate for each student.

Ginny focused on the chest and took a deep breath. Taking a moment, she looked down at her ring and thought of Harry. Even the thought of him centred her and helped her calm down. She could do this. Nodding at Professor Irving, she gripped her wand tightly.

The horribly familiar cold settled into her bones and a wave of discontent ran through her. What did Harry even see in her? He was so extraordinary and she was so common. So often she felt like she was holding him back, how long would it be until he felt the same way?

She could see the black, hooded creature coming closer. The sound of Professor McGonagall’s scream when she saw Harry’s limp body in Hagrid’s arms echoed in Ginny’s mind.

“Expecto Patronum!”

With a sense of relief she watched her doe chase the faux Dementor back into the chest. A bit shakily, she walked over to the other side of the class room and gratefully accepted some chocolate from Madam Florence.

At the end of class, Ginny hurried out of the classroom and quickly made her way to Professor McGonagall’s office. To her delight, Harry was already heading down the corridor. She threw herself into his arms.

He held her tightly. “What’s wrong, love?”

“Dementors,” she mumbled.

He wrapped his arms around her and held her as she soaked in the feeling of security he always evoked in her. Cuddling in Harry’s arms worked better then chocolate and after a few minutes she pulled back slightly and smiled up at him.

“Thank you,” she said as she leaned up and kissed him. “I hate Dementors, even if they’re fake.”

Threading his fingers through hers, he followed her down to the Great Hall. He listened as she chattered on about the latest Defence Against the Dark Arts class.

Hermione glanced at all of the excited students swarming the notice board in the common room. She looked over at Ginny who was just returning from reading the notice. “What’s going on?”

“We’re having a Christmas Pantomime,” Ginny replied excitedly. “Professor Flitwick and Professor Carter will be directing it. We’ll be doing ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’ from The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Demelza joined them in time to hear the end of the conversation. “A Christmas Pantomime, that sounds great. I always loved them in primary school. I can’t remember the storyline of ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune.’ What is that one about?”

Blushing Hermione admitted she had concentrated on ‘The Tale of Three Brothers’ and didn’t know ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune.’

“It’s actually one of my favourites,” Ginny said as the other two settled in to listen to the story. “Once there was a magical fountain and it was said if you bathed in the fountain, you would have fair fortune for the rest of your days. You could only get to the fountain on the longest day of the year and thousands of people showed up each year to try, but only one was allowed in to try to reach the fountain. One year three witches decided to work together to get in and they did get in pulling along with them a hapless knight.

“The first witch, Asha, was very sick and wanted the fountain to cure her. The second witch, Athelda, had been robbed by an evil wizard and hoped to regain her fortune. The third witch, Amata, had been betrayed by her true love and hoped to heal her broken heart. They had to pass three tests to get to the fountain — each had to use the pain of their experiences to move forward. It was a long and arduous journey that took most of the day.

“When they arrived at the fountain, Asha fell very ill. Athelda found herbs in the nearby garden and was able to cure her. Athelda realized she could make money selling the herbs and potions and no longer needed the fortune of the fountain. Asha was now cured and no longer needed the luck either. Together they urged Amata to bathe in the fountain, but she realized she’d let go of all of the bitterness and was able to see how her lover had not been worthy of her love.

“The hapless knight who had accompanied them on their journey ended up bathing in the fountain. He realized that he loved Amata. He threw himself in her arms and they all lived happily ever after.”

“That’s a great story,” Demelza said with a smile.

“The best part is it was once used as a Christmas Pantomime here at Hogwarts,” Ginny explained her eyes dancing. “It was a long time ago when Professor Dumbledore was still teaching Transfiguration. They had all sorts of ‘special effects’ and everything was going well until the boy playing Sir Luckless broke up with the girl playing Amata for the girl playing Asha. They had a huge duel and ruined the set.”

“What?” Hermione’s eyes were wide.

Ginny giggled. “I know. Professor Carter told us about it. He found some notes Professor Dumbledore left on the topic.”

“So do you want to be in the play?” Hermione asked Ginny curiously.

Ginny shook her head. “No, I don’t want to act. I want to work on the sets. I like the decorating part.”

“I’m going to try out for the play. I think it would be fun,” Demelza said. Looking over at Hermione she asked, “What about you? Do you want to try out?”

“No,” Hermione said. “Acting doesn’t really interest me, but it might be fun to work on the sets.”

“Great,” Ginny beamed. “We can sign up. Try outs for the acting parts will be next week. There will be three performances before we leave for Christmas holidays.”


Turning, Harry could see Padma and Parvati Patil standing across the street waving at him. With a smile, Harry crossed the street.

“Hello, Parvati, Padma.”

Padma nodded her head while Parvati greeted him with a hug. “Hi, Harry.”

Before Harry could say anything else, Lavender Brown exited behind them and smiled a greeting at Harry before saying, “They turned us down also.”

“Damn!” Padma cursed and then blushed when she realized that Harry was still standing with them.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Parvati sighed. “We’ve been trying to find a space to rent and we’ve haven’t been having any luck. We’re too young or too poor or too something for them to take a risk on us.”

“What do you need a space for?” Harry asked looking at the three girls.

“We are planning to open a boutique style clothing store,” Lavender explained. “We’ve been planning it forever and we thought we had the financing and everything in place, but when we went to meet with the owner of the property he wouldn’t let us rent. He thought we were older and didn’t want to take a chance on us.”

Harry looked at the three girls. He didn’t know them well, but he felt a certain kinship with them. They had truly shown what they were made of over the past year. Ginny was full of praise for all three of them as they had helped the DA protect the younger students from the Death Eaters during the last school year.

“Do you girls have time to get some coffee?” Harry found himself asking and soon he was seated at one of the newer establishments on Diagon Alley with the three girls. On Padma’s recommendation he tried one of the flavoured coffee drinks and a plate of pastries.

“I’m sure this will make me sound really stupid,” Harry said with a self-deprecating smile, “But what is a boutique style clothing store?”

Padma smiled. “It’s a smaller store that sells women’s fashions and accessories. We wouldn’t sell men’s or children’s clothes and it isn’t the type of place to go to find a cheap outfit to work around the house in. It’s a store that sells higher end women’s clothes.”

Her words conjured up the image of one of Aunt Petunia’s favourite stores on High Street in Little Whinging. Uncle Vernon could always be counted on to complain bitterly after Aunt Petunia visited the shop. Looking up and down Diagon Alley, Harry could see Gladrags, Madam Malkin’s, and the newest shop that sold Muggle clothing, but nothing like what Padma was describing.

“We have worked with Madam Malkin,” Parvati explained, “but we want to go further. We have the contacts and we’ve spoken to people in the fashion world who are very excited about the idea of a wizarding boutique, but we can’t get anyone to finance us.”

“What do you need?” Harry asked curiously. To his surprise, it was Lavender who answered. She pulled a folder out of her bag and showed him their business plan. Harry listened carefully as the three witches explained their plans. It wasn’t just a whim, they had done their research and had put together a well thought out plan.

Leaning back in his chair, Harry toyed with the remains of the pumpkin pastry he’d eaten. He thought about what he wanted to do and briefly wondered what Ginny would say. He didn’t really think she’d be upset. Making up his mind, he looked at the three witches and said, “I own several buildings on Diagon Alley and one of them should be perfect for you to open a shop. I can provide the start-up costs so that you could open your shop.”

After a momentary shocked silence, Lavender and Parvati squealed simultaneously. Harry laughed at the shocked look on their faces. It was Padma who asked, “What is in it for you?”

Harry shrugged. “Nothing really. I think you have a great idea and a great plan and I think you should have the opportunity to make it a reality. The wizarding world needs to grow and have new businesses.”

“You financed the Weasley brothers’ joke shop, didn’t you?” Lavender asked.

Blushing, Harry nodded. “I gave them my winnings from the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I have a lot of money that I’ve inherited from my parents and my godfather. More money then I really need to be honest. I don’t want to just give it away, but if I have friends who need money then I will be happy to help.”

He stood up and gesturing towards the restrooms at the back of the shop said, “I’ll be right back.”

When he returned, Parvati stood and hugged him. “Thank you, Harry. We would be very grateful for your help and we will be happy to style Ginny for any event she needs to attend.”

Harry grinned. “I have no idea what that even means, but I will tell her. I’ll have my solicitor contact you with the contract and everything. He’s really good he’ll make sure no one takes advantage of you.” He hesitated a moment before adding, “If you need a model for your adverts, you should talk to Fleur Weasley.”

Lavender’s eyebrow’s raised. “From the Tri-Wizard Tournament?”

Harry nodded. “She’s married to Bill, Ginny’s oldest brother. She’s been great — helping me and Ginny and I bet she’d be happy to help. She’s really good at the fashion stuff.”

“Thank you, Harry,” Padma said earnestly. “For everything.”

As Harry left the shop, he could hear the three of them planning and talking. He was pleased that he was able to help them. Any annoyance he had felt towards them over the years had been wiped out by their staunch support and willingness to fight. Lavender, he knew, had been injured quite badly in the final battle, but she seemed to be doing well now.

Harry and Seamus were finishing up their homework on Muggle weaponry. It was rather late and the two of them were spread out in the study. They were the only ones home as the Weasley brothers had gone out earlier.

“I’ve never been so glad my dad was a Muggle,” Seamus declared. “Poor Katie and Susan have been having a hard time.”

Harry laughed. “I’ll never forget the look on Susan’s face when she saw the damage a gun can do.” He shook his head. “When I first got my Hogwarts’ letter, my uncle got a rifle to prevent ‘them’ from taking me to Hogwarts. He didn’t want any magic in his house and was trying to prevent me from going to school. Hagrid is the one who found us and he just reached over and ripped the rifle from my uncle’s hands and tied it in a knot.”

Seamus laughed. “I can see Hagrid doing that. Would a rifle hurt Hagrid?”

“I don’t think so,” Harry said after a moment of thought. “Most of the spells during the battle didn’t hurt him, so I don’t think a bullet would, but who knows.”

“I’m glad they’re teaching us about them,” Seamus said. “Robards told me one of his first partners was killed because he didn’t recognize a handgun. He just stood and laughed at the Muggle who fired the gun at him.”

“I don’t know why wizards are so contemptuous towards Muggles,” Harry said. “I mean a sword can kill a wizard so why couldn’t a more advanced Muggle weapon kill?”

Before Seamus could comment, the Floo behind them activated. Harry’s heart sank when he saw Tom’s head in fire. This wasn’t the first time old barman from the Leaky Cauldron had to contact Harry recently.

Harry sighed. “Hi, Tom. Do you need me to come down?”

“I’m sorry, Mr Potter. Both of them have had way too much to drink and are starting to become a little rowdy.”

Seamus swore and Harry agreed with him, but said, “No problem, Tom. Give me a few minutes and I will be there.”

“Thanks, Mr Potter.”

With a sigh, Harry looked up at the clock. To his surprise it was already a quarter after midnight. He hadn’t realized how late it was.

“Damn, this is the second time this week,” Seamus said as he stood and walked over to the door and summoned their cloaks from the cloak cupboard. “I thought they were getting better, but they really seem to be getting worse.”

Harry took his cloak from Seamus and the pair Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. As they entered, Harry immediately saw his best mate and his older brother. They were sitting in a far booth. He could tell even from the door how drunk they were. Their loud laughter and singing was rather discordant and could be clearly heard even over the other bar patrons.

Harry winced as he saw the glares the table was receiving. Tom had reluctantly called Harry the first time when other patrons started complaining about the group. To Harry’s dismay, he’d discovered that Tom was losing some business due to the Weasleys’ antics.

They walked over to the booth where the Weasley brothers were holding court. Harry grimaced slightly when he saw their companions. The Weasley brothers had become friendly with a group of other young shop clerks who worked on Diagon Alley. None of the Weasleys’ new friends had fought in the war, but they were all determined to party to celebrate its end. They were all young and good looking. From what Harry could tell, they all tended to spend most of their checks on drinks and cigarettes. He’d heard rumours about illegal potions, but he hadn’t seen any evidence of them. He didn’t think Ron would try them, but these days he really wasn’t sure.

Ron had recently taken up smoking and Harry was not at all happy about it. He asked Ron not to smoke inside the house, but he thought Ron still did on occasion. He could only imagine what Hermione would have to say on the subject when she found out.

Harry had met Ron’s new friends on several occasions and was not overly impressed with their rather hedonistic life style. Some of the girls tended to flirt with him which always made him feel uneasy. He was also very worried about their influence on Ron and George both. In the month and a half since the girls had gone back to school, their drinking and partying had increased dramatically. Anything Harry said was dismissed as Harry didn’t know what it was like to lose a brother.

Ron spotted him first.

“Harry! You joined us!”

To his relief, Harry was able to separate the Weasleys from their friends without much difficulty.

“Ron, George. It’s getting a bit late, don’t you think?”

“Nah. Come have a drink!” George said. “Tom will bring you a glass.”

“No, George,” Harry said. “You’ve had enough. Tom won’t be serving you anymore.”

“What?!” George stood up to glare at the barkeep, but he swayed uneasily on the spot instead. He sank back down. “But I was still drinking.”

“I know, George,” Harry said. “Why don’t you come back to my house?”

That thought brightened George up and he turned to Ron. “Why don’t we go back to Harry’s place?”

Relief flooded through Harry, it didn’t seem like this was going to be an argumentative night. Turning to Tom he said quietly, “How much do they owe you?”

Looking slightly ashamed Tom said, “Ten Galleons.”

Reaching into his pocket, Harry handed him fifteen Galleons, “Thanks for letting me know.”

By cajoling, ordering, and begging Harry and Seamus managed to get the two brothers back to Grimmauld Place. The sober pair managed to get the brothers settled in their rooms with buckets strategically placed next to their beds before turning in themselves. With a sigh Harry noticed it was now almost half past one in the morning, much later then he had planned to get to bed.

Harry groaned when his alarm sounded at six in the morning. Rising he quickly showered and dressed before heading into the kitchen where he found Seamus cursing the Weasleys.

“Had to set a damn silencing charm,” Seamus explained. “Between Ron’s snoring and the two of them retching, it was not a pleasant place to sleep last night.”

“I wish I knew what to do,” Harry said as he fixed a cup of tea. “I understand they are grieving, but they can’t keep going out drinking like this. Do I go to Mr Weasley or do I go to Bill?”

“Have you told Ginny?” Seamus asked as he poured himself some cereal.

“I mentioned they were going out, but I haven’t told her we have to keep going and rescuing them,” Harry admitted. “I just hate to worry her.”

“I know, but she might have a good idea of what you should do,” Seamus said.

Nodding, Harry agreed. “I’ll talk to her on Friday.”

After making sure his friends were both still breathing, he left vials of Hang-Over Potion on the counter and left for work. It was a long day, but Harry made it through somehow. He prayed that Ron and George wouldn’t decide to go out drinking again tonight, he really needed to catch up on his sleep.

Harry cast a Warming Charm as well as a Cushioning Charm as he and Ginny settled down under their favourite tree. It was early evening after their History of Magic class. After settling back against the tree, he drew up his right leg and rested his arm on his knee. Ginny laid her head on his arm with her back against his raised leg. He wrapped his free arm across her stomach.

“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?” Ginny asked as she looked up at him, lacing her
fingers through his hand.

With a sigh, Harry told her about the partying Ron and George had been doing. “I don’t know what to do,” he said miserably. “Every time I try to talk to them they go on about how I’ve never lost a brother and I don’t know what they’re going through. Ron became really angry at me the last time I brought it up. He started yelling about how I was an old worry wart and I was taking all of the fun out of living single in London. He even said he and George might move into the flat above the shop if I didn’t leave them alone.”

Ginny’s eyes had grown big and started to tear up as she listened to how badly her brothers were falling apart. When Harry rambled to a stop, his first feeling was guilt. How could he have just added to her burden?

“Damn! I was afraid of this,” Ginny said after a minute, breaking into Harry’s guilty silence. Correctly interpreting the look on his face, she said, “Don’t start feeling guilty! I’m glad you told me.” She sighed. “I wondered if something wasn’t wrong. Hermione’s worried, but she won’t admit it. Ron’s letters are…well he doesn’t write often and when he does he doesn’t say a whole lot.”

“He does always seem happy to get a letter from Hermione,” Harry offered. “It really cheers him up. I know he misses her. He gets angry that Seamus and I come up here every week. He’s asked about any boys buzzing around Hermione. Seamus and I have reassured him that no one is buzzing around her, but you know how he can get.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “He’s so crazy about her, but I think he still doesn’t feel worthy of her.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked in confusion.

Ginny blushed, but continued. “You know how Ron has always been really touchy about being poor. He’s always hated the fact that we have so many hand-me-downs and we’ve never had a lot of extra pocket money. I know he felt a bit inadequate when we went to Hermione’s house. Her parents obviously have quite a bit of money, they have a beautiful house, and they’ve always gone on expensive holidays. He made a comment to me that he could never provide those things for her.”

“Hermione doesn’t care about all of that,” Harry said. “She’s crazy about him.”

“I know,” Ginny agreed. “I’ve tried to reassure him, but he gets angry.” Her face darkened. “He was a stupid git actually, but…”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked as he ran his hand through her hair.

“He made some stupid comment about how I obviously didn’t care if people thought I was with you for the money,” Ginny said angrily. “He actually got on my case and said I shouldn’t let you buy me expensive things.”

“What?!” Harry exclaimed angrily.

Seeing Harry’s anger on her behalf actually calmed Ginny’s ire. She smiled and cupped his cheek with her hand. “He just needs to work out his feelings. I wish he wouldn’t pull me into it, but he’ll sort it out eventually.”

Enchanted at her easy acceptance, Harry couldn’t help but lean down and kiss her. Ginny responded enthusiastically and wrapped her arms around his neck. It took quite a while for the two of them to pull apart. By that time, Ginny was actually sitting on his lap.

“I love you,” Harry said.

She smiled up at him. “I love you too.”

She sat cuddled in his arms for a few minutes. She really hated being away from him for so long. Her thoughts returned to her older brothers. She didn’t like the sound of their behaviour, but she really didn’t know what to do about it.

After a moment, she looked up at her fiancé. “I think you should talk to Bill. He might be able to talk some sense into them. They can’t pull the ‘you don’t know what it’s like to lose a brother’ crap on him.” She huffed. “They shouldn’t be pulling it on you either.”

Harry smiled at Ginny’s staunch defence of him. “I will talk to Bill. I’d wondered if I should, but I didn’t want to overstep any bounds or anything.”

“Ron will probably be angry at you,” Ginny warned. “He will probably accuse you of tattling or something stupid like that.”

“That’s okay,” Harry said grimly. “Something needs to be done. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

“You’re a good friend,” Ginny said with a smile.

He smiled at her. “So tell me about the latest plans for the Parent’s Weekend. It’s coming up soon.”

Ginny happily caught him up to date with all of the plans for the Parent’s Weekend. To her delight, most of the families had indicated an interest in attending. Professor McGonagall had opened one of the little used wings for accommodations for the families. The Weasleys and Grangers each had a room, but as the rooms were set aside for parents and underage siblings others coming that weekend needed to make their own arrangements.

“You already arranged for your room at the Three Broomsticks, right?” Ginny asked anxiously.

“Yes, baby,” Harry reassured her with a smile. “I talked to Madam Rosmerta the first week in September and spoke to her again last weekend. She said she’s booked solid and some of the families in the village are opening their homes to people who want to stay.”

“Did Ron get a room?”

“Yes, because I got it for him,” Harry said. “He does seem to be looking forward to it.”

“Good, maybe it will be good for him,” Ginny said.

With a sigh she sat up and looked around. It was getting dark and it was time for Harry to be heading home. After a lengthy good bye, Harry headed back to London. He felt much better for having talked to Ginny.

Back to index

Chapter 17: Chapter 17 Parent's Weekend

Author's Notes: Sorry for the long delay. My health issues have not let me keep up with my writing. Hopefully I am on the home stretch. Thank you for sticking with the story! A special thanks to my wonderful betas StephanieO and seekers_destiny!

When Harry and the other Auror trainees arrived at Hogwarts for their weekly History of Magic lesson, they could feel the excitement for the upcoming Parents’ Weekend. The school was cleaner than Harry could remember seeing it in a long time. It rather reminded him of when the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrived for the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

In addition to the school being clean and the suits of armour gleaming in their alcoves, there were now signs labelling the corridors and arrows pointing towards common destinations. The Entrance Hall was being readied for the weekend. There was an itinerary of events and maps of the school for the parents.

“The parents can get a copy of their child’s schedule and meet the teachers,” Ginny explained as she showed Harry and Seamus the maps. “Professor Flitwick did some really complicated charms on the maps and every time a corridor or staircase changes in the castle in will change on the map as well.”

“This is amazing,” Seamus said as the three of them walked into the Great Hall. Each of the house tables were labelled and decorated in their house colours.

“Thanks,” Ginny said with a happy smile. “We’ve all worked really hard to make this a fun weekend. We’re having a Quidditch match on Sunday afternoon before the train leaves. It won’t count for Quidditch Cup standings, but it will show the parents what Quidditch is all about.”

“Is that new?” Harry asked. “I don’t remember you mentioning that before.”

Ginny nodded. “I can’t remember whose idea it was, but someone mentioned it. It will be Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. After the match, we will have broom races and Madam Hooch said she will help any parents fly who are interested. She and Professor Flitwick have been working on Charms that will allow even Muggles to fly briefly.”

“Professor Flitwick seems to be very involved in this weekend,” Harry commented.

“He’s been great,” Ginny said enthusiastically. She looked around to make sure she couldn’t be overheard. Lowering her voice she said, “Tomorrow night when we have the feast, we’ll be giving him and Professor McGonagall plaques from the students. It’s our way of thanking them for everything. We also have something for Madam Pomfrey and we are dedicating a garden to Professor Sprout. We want to thank them for everything they did last year and everything they’ve done this year.”

“That sounds great,” Harry said sincerely. He was so proud of Ginny. Not only for coming up with the Parents’ Weekend idea, but also for all of the hard work she’d put into it.

She blushed slightly. “Thank you. Would you two mind walking the corridors with me tonight? Bruce is taking the lower floors and dungeons and I have the top floors. We just want to make sure that everything is clean and labelled.”

“Of course,” both Harry and Seamus promised immediately.

Several hours later, Seamus headed back to Grimmauld Place leaving Harry alone with his fiancée. Harry looked at her admiringly. “I am so proud of you. You have put so much work into this.”

She blushed. “I didn’t do this by myself. A lot of people helped.”

Laughing, Harry wrapped his arms around her. “Someone, who if I recall correctly looks a lot like you, is always telling me to just accept the compliment, so I think you should take your own excellent advice.”

Leaning back into his arms, Ginny had to laugh. “You are right, love. Thank you. I’m just so nervous and want everything to go well. There are going to be so many Muggles here and I don’t want anything to happen.”

By this time the two of them had reached the abandoned classroom they had claimed for their own. “Kingsley is taking security very seriously,” Harry reassured her. “He’s increased the Auror presence for the weekend and he’s keeping an eye on the Pureblood supporters of Voldemort. Everything is going to go great!”

Sinking down onto the couch, Ginny smiled at him. “Thank you.”

“So both of your parents are coming?” Harry asked a bit too casually.

Knowing he was rather uncomfortable with the idea of her parents coming, Ginny settled on his lap. “They are. I think Mum is coming around. She’s been sending me letters every week and she sent some wedding planning articles last week. I think she’s really sorry for the way everything happened.”

Harry sighed and pulled her closer. “I just…it’s hard to know how to act around her anymore. I always used to think she liked me, but it turns out she likes me as Ron’s friend — not as your boyfriend. She made it perfectly clear she didn’t like Fleur, but she never asked Fleur to leave — only me.”

“I know, sweetie,” Ginny said sadly. She was rather upset with her mother on Harry’s behalf. Her mum just didn’t think things through. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why she’s acting this way.”

Harry shrugged and decided to put it behind him for now. “What sort of wedding planning have you done?”

“I have decided for sure that I want to get married at the Burrow. Mum was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough room, but I think I convinced her that we don’t want a huge wedding. Lee Jordan has a friend who DJs a lot of weddings and parties and such. I think we should check into that. I don’t want a band. One of my cousins had a band at her reception and all I can remember is shouting over the music to be heard.”

Harry smiled as he listened to her ramble on happily about their wedding. She had decided her colours would be red and green. “I’m thinking of having a green ribbon or some sort of green accent on my dress. Hermione thinks it should be all white, but I think it would be cool to have some green.” She held out her hand with her emerald and diamond engagement ring. “It just seems right to have some green. They can sometimes do ribbons or green embellishments. I’ve seen pictures in the bridal magazines.”

“That would be great,” Harry said with a smile. He had no idea what the hell embellishments were, but if Ginny wanted them he wanted her to have them.

“My mum is going on and on about Aunt Muriel’s tiara,” Ginny said making a face. “I’m not sure I want to use that. If I don’t use the tiara, she wants me to use her mother’s veil. I’m not sure if want to use it, either. It’s long and flowing and I can easily see it getting caught up in things.”

“A veil?”

Ginny nodded. “Usually the bride wears a veil over her face up the aisle and once the ceremony is complete the groom unveils the bride.”

“Do you have to wear a veil?” Harry asked with a catch in his voice.

Ginny turned to look at him in confusion. Why on Earth would he care about a veil? The look on his face made her reconsider the sarcastic comment she’d been about to make. Understanding suddenly flashed through her as she recalled Sirius falling through the veil.

“Of course not, love,” Ginny replied tenderly. She kissed him on the cheek. “I saw this one hairstyle that involves threading pearls and diamonds in your hair. It looks like something Fleur would be good at. Maybe I should ask her.”

Harry’s face cleared. “That sounds pretty.” He ran a hand through her hair. “I can only imagine how beautiful your hair would look with diamonds and pearls in it. In my vault there is a chest of jewellery, maybe there is something in there that you could use. You can break them out of their settings or whatever.”

“That sounds expensive,” Ginny said a bit regretfully.

Harry smiled. “Love, I have lots of money sitting around in two or three different vaults. Use whatever you want, I don’t care.” A look crossed his face. “Actually we should visit Gringotts over Christmas and get you added to my vaults. That way you can take out whatever you want. Bill mentioned that I could set up a wedding vault so expenses could be taken right from there. I know your dad wants to pay for your wedding, but I don’t want you to miss out on something because you can’t afford it. Maybe your dad and I could both contribute to the wedding account and that way it’s not a matter of me paying or him paying, but both of us.”

“That’s actually a great idea,” Ginny said.

Harry laughed. “You don’t need to sound so amazed. I have been known to have good ideas before.”

Ginny snuggled into his arms, happy to be able to spend the time with him. She couldn’t believe the Parents’ Weekend was finally here.

It was past midnight by the time Harry headed down to the village. He was thrilled to be able to spend the whole weekend with Ginny. He was so proud of everything that she’d planned. As he headed down the lane, he caught sight of one of the Aurors patrolling the area. Nodding at the man, he continued to the Three Broomsticks.

As he entered the pub, he heard Madam Rosmerta’s voice raised. Turning he saw that she had Draco Malfoy at wandpoint. Drawing his own wand, he headed over to see what was happening.

“I’m not doing anything wrong,” Draco was protesting loudly.

“I don’t care,” Madam Rosmerta replied angrily. “You are not welcome in my establishment. Not now, not ever. After what you did — you should be in Azkaban just for using the Imperius on me! You used me to try to kill the Headmaster. If Katie or Ron would have died, it would have been partly my fault.”

Standing, Draco glared at the older woman who was not intimidated. “Fine, I’ll leave. It’s not like this place is all that good.” Looking past Rosmerta, Draco said, “Don’t worry, Potter. I’m leaving.”

“Trust me, you don’t worry me,” Harry said. “You never do anything unless you are surrounded by others who will back you up.”

Sending a look of pure hatred at Harry, Draco shouldered his way past the older witch and headed out into the night. After making sure that Rosmerta was okay, Harry immediately Flooed the Auror Department. Within a few minutes Williamson, Dawlish, and Robards had arrived at the Three Broomsticks.

Robards approached Harry and Rosmerta who were standing next to the bar. “What happened?”

“That little ponce thought he had the right to be in my bar,” Rosmerta burst out. “My bar! He put me under the Imperius Curse and tried to use me to kill Albus Dumbledore and he has the nerve to show up to my bar and then protest his innocence. That little wanker hasn’t been innocent since he showed up at Hogwarts.”

“How long was he here?”

Rosmerta sighed. “Longer than I realized. I’ve been working so hard on this Parents’ Weekend and I was going over the weekend bookings with my manager so I wasn’t out on the floor.”

“Was he with anyone?”

“That Parkinson chit,” Rosmerta replied bitterly. “I came out the office and saw the two of them all over each other just like every Hogsmeade weekend they were at school. It’s like he doesn’t have that damn tattoo burned in his arm.” She speared Robards with a glare. “I thought things were going to be different this time around, but Malfoys throw their money around and that boy is free to do what he wants.”

Robards shifted uneasily. Harry spoke up, “Can you sue him?”

“For what?” she asked in confusion.

“He used you and put you under the Imperius,” Harry said. “I was working with Kingsley over the summer and he explained that victims of Death Eaters had the right to sue the Death Eaters and their estates.”

“The boy’s right,” Robards said.

“I don’t think he’s a boy anymore,” Rosmerta said with a flash of her normal flirtatiousness.

Harry blushed slightly, but smiled at the woman before turning to Robards. “Do you think he is planning to do something to disrupt the Parents’ Weekend? Ginny’s worked so hard. I’d hate for something to ruin it.”

Williamson approached them and having heard Harry’s question and answered it. “I think he was testing how well protected the town is. Several Aurors have reported running into some of young Malfoy’s crowd tonight. Don’t worry, Potter. The road from the school to the town will be well guarded and there will be a large Auror presence here this weekend. We don’t want anything to happen either.”

Robards nodded his agreement. “The Minister has assigned extra security to Hogsmeade for this weekend. It is quite an important event and a rather historic event. This will be the first times Muggles have been welcomed at Hogsmeade and at Hogwarts.”
Relaxing slightly Harry said, “Good. I’d hate for something to go wrong.”

“You might want to keep an extra close eye on Miss Weasley,” Robards teased him. “Perhaps I should assign you as her bodyguard this weekend.”

“You don’t think anyone would target Ginny, would they?” Harry asked horrified.

“Don’t tease the boy,” came a deep voice from behind them.

Turning Harry was relieved to see Kingsley had arrived. He clapped a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Don’t let Gawain get to you. We have a lot of security here this weekend, but as one of the organizers I don’t think Miss Weasley should be walking to and from town by herself. I’m thinking a strapping young lad like you would be just the person to accompany her.”

Harry blushed again, but agreed. “I would be happy to do that. I’ll let her know.”

Pansy looked up in relief when Draco returned to his London flat. “Draco, are you okay? I was so worried about you!”

She took a slight step back at the anger on his face. He ignored her for a moment, heading straight to his bar and pouring a healthy measure of Firewhiskey. He slammed it down and poured another. He swirled the alcohol in his glass, staring into the sparking liquid.

“That bitch Rosmerta kicked me out!” Draco finally bit out. “She’s taking a restraining order out against me. I’m not welcome in Hogsmeade. Me — a Malfoy! How dare they tell me where I may or may not go?!”

Pansy’s eyes widened. “How could they?”

“Potter! He was right there with his wand on me,” Draco said angrily. “I wanted to curse him right then and there. He was standing there so damn self-righteous. Like he wouldn’t have used that slag Rosmerta if he had the chance.”

Pansy’s eyes narrowed at his choice of words. She’d always had a suspicion that Draco had taken advantage of the compliant barmaid while she was under his control. Like most of the Hogwarts’ boys, Draco had made plenty of complimentary comments about the comely and curvy barmaid. She’d heard rumours about what Draco had done with the woman, but she’d always ignored them before. Realizing that now was not the time to confront him about it, she watched as he paced back and forth in front of the fireplace.

“I’ve talked to Nott and Goyle,” he said at length. “The security at the school and village are very tight. We won’t be able to get anywhere near them this weekend.”

“So they won’t get punished at all?”

“Don’t be foolish,” Draco reprimanded harshly. “We need to be careful. I won’t make the same mistakes my father made. We will get Potter and his whore; it will just take planning and cunning. We are Slytherin — we can do this.”

Ginny put in her earrings and checked the effect in the mirror. Sometimes it was hard to believe that little Ginny Weasley could actually look this good. It had taken her quite some time to decide what to wear for the Parents’ Weekend. In the end she’d decided on an oversized pullover that was dark with shades of violet, rust, silver, and black paired with black leggings. Fleur had sent her a beautiful necklace with large blocks of faceted purple glass and a pair of matching earrings. She finished off the look with a pair of high heeled knee high black boots.

As she surveyed herself in the mirror, Ginny felt quite grown up. She had to stifle a giggle at the thought of what Harry was going to say when he saw her. He’d talked to her last night on their mirrors and said he would meet her at the castle in the morning to walk her into town.
While she was glad that security for the event was being taken seriously, she hoped that it would prove to be unnecessary. She was heading into town early to oversee everything. Professor McGonagall had told her the evening before that the Hogwarts’ Express was scheduled to leave London at 9am and was expected to arrive at Hogsmeade by 11am.

Adjusting her head girl badge, Ginny headed down to the Great Hall. While eating breakfast with Hermione and Bruce, she reviewed the plans with them all once more. Bruce was staying up in the castle and overseeing the events in the castle while Hermione and Dennis were going to be overseeing an event in the afternoon that highlighted all of the clubs available to Hogwarts’ students. All of the clubs had prepared a poster explaining their purpose and what the students did. Many of the clubs had pictures and short presentations to explain their meeting and events.

As Ginny finished her breakfast, she looked up at the enchanted ceiling, glad to see that the sky was clear. She was glad the weather hadn’t turned terrible. They’d had snow before for their first Hogsmeade visit of the year, but this year was clear and cool with no chance of snow. Saying goodbye to Hermione and Bruce, Ginny headed to the Entrance Hall.

Harry was just entering the castle as she came into the hall. She smiled at him and was thrilled with the reaction she received. He stopped and stared at her. As his eyes raked over her, she felt a jolt of desire at the look in his eyes. He obviously liked what he saw. As she approached him, she turned in a circle so he could get the whole effect of the outfit. Her pullover was longer in the back than the front and she liked the feel of it swirling around her.

“You look amazing!” Harry said in a rather husky voice. He let his eyes wander over her once again. “Good Lord, those boots.”

“You like?”

He reached out and pulled her up against him. As she wrapped her arms around his neck, he pulled her close and she could feel his reaction pressed against her. It thrilled her that she could cause that type of reaction in him. Before she could say anything he leaned down and kissed her. She lost track of time as they kissed. Kissing Harry was always wonderful, the feel of his lips against her and the touch of his tongue against hers was intoxicating.

It was only the sound of other voices and giggling that caused her to pull away. Blushing she looked around the hall. Most of the faces were smiling at the pair of them and some of the younger girls seemed quite enthralled with the romance of it all. They received a few dirty looks and sour gazes from those jealous of their relationship, but neither of them really noticed.

“Sorry,” Harry whispered against her hair. “I didn’t mean to get so caught up. You just…let’s just say I really wish we weren’t due in Hogsmeade soon. You are incredibly sexy.”

She giggled and straightened her hair before pulling her cloak out of her bag and putting it on. “I’m glad you like it.”

As they headed down to the gate, Harry couldn’t keep his eyes from her legs. “Those boots make your legs look amazing. They are so tall.”

Ginny giggled. “You will have to make sure you are holding my hand because I’m still not great walking in them. I practiced wearing them in the dorms a bit, but I still stumble from time to time.”

“That won’t be a problem,” Harry said. “I will hold your hand as long as you want me to.”

She couldn’t help but stop and give him a rather thorough kiss. “I love you.”

Laughing she tugged on his hand and led him down to the gates. Unlike Filch who always made it difficult for students to leave, Miss Zumbrowski was happy to wave Ginny and Harry on their way through the gates and soon they were walking hand-in-hand down the road to Hogsmeade.

Squeezing her hand, Harry said, “I’ve wanted to take you to Hogsmeade for quite a while.”

She laughed. “I would have been thrilled to go with you — if you had asked me.”

“I know,” Harry said ruefully. “I was rather a blind prat.” He smiled down at her. “People keep asking me if there is anything I regret or anything I would have done differently and I always tell them no, but there is one thing I wish I had done differently. I wish I’d gotten to know you a lot earlier and woke up to what an amazing person you are. Can you imagine how much more fun the Yule Ball would have been if we’d gone together?”

Ginny smiled up at him. “It would have been wonderful, but I’m just happy that we are together now.”

As they continued towards the village, Ginny noticed several Aurors very conspicuously patrolling the road. Most of them nodded at the couple as they passed.

“I can’t believe Malfoy was here last night,” she said.

“Stupid ferret,” Harry remarked. “Madam Rosmerta was very upset with him.”

“I hope she follows up with your suggestion to sue him,” Ginny said. “It’s not fair that he’s not punished for what he did to her.”

“That hasn’t been totally decided,” Harry said. “The Wizengamot has been debating on the punishment for the Death Eaters. The hard core, long-term Death Eaters like Lucius, Dolohov, Lestrange, and the Carrows are all going to Azkaban, but the sentences for the newer Death Eaters is causing quite a bit of debate. Draco might yet see some jail time.”

“Good,” Ginny replied. “He deserves it. If he gets away with just paying a fine it would be like we didn’t learn anything.”

Harry nodded in agreement. “I can’t believe he was here with Pansy. I thought he was engaged to the Greenglass girl.”

Ginny giggled. “Greengrass, Astoria Greengrass.”

He shrugged. “Greenglass, Greengrass, whatever.”

“I think they have a very different expectation from their marriage than we do,” Ginny said thinking about the conversation she’d had with Astoria on the train. “She knows all about his relationship with Pansy and is just happy that he’s coming to her with ‘experience.’”

Harry made a face. “I’m sorry, but that is just wrong. Not to mention who the hell would want experience with Pansy. She looks like a pug and she’s a rude bitch.”

“You don’t usually say things like that about other people,” Ginny observed.

“Pansy was always one of those making fun of me and during the Tri-Wizard Tournament she was awful to Hermione,” Harry explained. “I can’t stand her.”

“I’m just glad she’s gone,” Ginny said. “She was awful last year. You know she was Head Girl and she just…I don’t know what she did other than keep the Head Boy happy and tell the other Slytherin girls they should be sleeping with the Slytherin boys. Actually she thought all Pureblood girls had a responsibility to ‘offer comfort’ to the boys fighting for their wonderful cause.”

“Stupid slag,” Harry muttered. “I’m glad I didn’t see her yesterday and we won’t have to worry about Malfoy. Madam Rosmerta took out a restraining order against Draco — he’s not allowed in or around her property. There are some sort of magical consequences if he breaks the order.”

“Really?” Ginny giggled. “That serves him right! Good for her.”

“Do you know what the consequences are of breaking a magical restraining order? We haven’t learned about them yet.”

Ginny nodded. “They will usually have some sort of provision for stunning and restraining the person once they cross the line stipulated in the restraining order. They are supposed to be quite effective.”

Harry was impressed. “That’s good. Stupid Malfoy won’t be bothering anyone here this weekend. Aberforth reported that Malfoy tried to get a room with him before he went to the Three Broomsticks, but Aberforth wouldn’t serve him either so Malfoy really isn’t welcome here.”

By this time they had reached the village. Ginny gasped as she caught sight of High Street. The shop owners had really gone all out. The store fronts were gleaming and all of the front windows had signs welcoming parents for the 1st Annual Parent’s Weekend.

Mr Dervish, the owner of Dervish and Banges was setting up a sign outside his shop describing what sort of items the shop sold and offering a 10% discount to all students and parents. He waved at Harry and Ginny as they walked by. A large map was set up at the edge of town showing where all of the shops were located.

“This is new,” Ginny said as she looked around.

Harry smiled at her excitement. “Madam Rosmerta told me that the shopkeepers are all thrilled with your idea of the Parents’ Weekend and wanted to do their part to make sure it succeeds. I mean it is to their benefit as well as they stand to make quite a bit more money with parents as well as students here. Rosmerta told me that there aren’t any rooms available in town at all. Some people rented out extra rooms in their homes for the weekend, so everyone is quite excited about it.”

“That’s wonderful!” Ginny enthused. “I’m so glad they are embracing the idea.” Giggling she pointed to a pink, glittery sign. “Look, love, Madam Puddifoot is having a special tea - do you want to go?”

Muttering a few curses under his breath, he shook his head. “No way.”

Scrivenshafts and Gladrags both had large signs in their front windows welcoming parents and announcing sales for the weekend. Harry grinned. “What do you want to bet this is the first shop Hermione brings her parents to?”

“Only because it comes before the book shop,” Ginny replied with a smile. The small book shop was in one of the alleys off High Street. It too was welcoming parents.

Looking down the street, Ginny suddenly gasped. “George?!”

Harry looked the direction she was looking and sure enough George and Lee Jordan were setting up a cart of WWW merchandise in front of the abandoned Zonko’s building. At Ginny’s call, the two boys looked up and waved.

Running over to her brother, Ginny threw her arms around him. “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you tell me?” She looked over at Harry. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Calm down little Fire Cracker,” George laughed. “I wanted it to be a surprise so I didn’t even tell Harry.”

“So this is why you wouldn’t tell me what you were doing this weekend,” Harry laughed. “This is wonderful!”

Gesturing at the building behind him George said, “I’m still in negotiations to purchase this building, but I got permission from the Hogsmeade Business Association to set up the cart here this weekend. Lee agreed to help me as Ron will be with Hermione all weekend. Verity and Angelina are running the main shop for us.”

Ginny looked up from the cart she’d been inspecting. “This is brilliant! You’re going to make bundles here.”

“It’s not just the money,” George said uncharacteristically serious. “I’m so proud of you for setting this up. I really wanted to support you.”

Throwing her arms around him, Ginny had to blink back tears. “Thank you, George!”

Harry smiled as he watched the siblings. He was so happy that George was so supportive of his sister. Lee was also smiling at the siblings; he turned and caught Harry’s eye.

“George worked really hard to get all the permits for this weekend,” Lee said quietly. “He’s so proud of her.”

“I’m glad,” Harry said. “Her mum hasn’t been as supportive as she could be, so it’s nice that her brothers are there for her.”

Lee nodded a bit uncomfortably. “I’m sorry for the trouble you’ve had. I think you and Ginny make a great couple.”

“Thanks,” Harry said with a smile. He was rather nervous about seeing Mrs Weasley this weekend, but he was pushing that to the back of his mind. He wanted to be there for Ginny, she was much more important that any discomfort he might feel.

Saying good-bye to George and Lee, the couple continued down the street. Mr Flume was setting up a sign outside his shop. The smell of chocolate was wafting into the street.

“Good morning, Mr Flume,” Ginny greeted him.

“Miss Weasley, Mr Potter,” the older wizard bowed slightly.

“Mr Flume, I wanted to thank you for donating the chocolates for the parent’s welcome bags,” Ginny said.

“You are quite welcome, my dear,” he replied. “This is a wonderful idea and I am glad to be able to participate. I hope you will come by later. We have some new flavours of fudge available this weekend.”

Ginny smiled. “I’m sure we will be back. This is one of our favourite shops.”

As they continued down High Street, Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand as she danced along at his side. “This is going to be great! I’m so excited. I was worried that no one would be excited about this weekend, but it seems like it’s going to be brilliant.”

The Three Broomsticks was decorated in Hogwarts’ colours with balloons and streamers. A large sign outside invited everyone in for a special luncheon special. Tables and chairs were being set up outside for outdoor seating. Madam Rosmerta waved as they walked past.
Harry had to smile at the sign warning people to avoid the most haunted house in Britain. The fact that the hated Professor Snape’s body had been found in the Shrieking Shack and that he was rumoured to have been killed by Voldemort himself had re-established the Shrieking Shack as the most terrifying house in Hogsmeade. Rumours had blood dripping down the walls of the building with ghosts of evil intent haunting the dilapidated house. The Hogwarts’ ghosts seemed to find the rumours entertaining and they embellished the stories, scaring those gullible enough to believe the stories.

Once they arrived at the Hogsmeade station, Harry and Ginny got to work decorating the station to welcome the parents. Madam Florence had volunteered to help with the welcoming committee. Some of the Hogwarts’ elves came down to the station and set up several long tables. They also brought down the boxes that held the welcoming packets for the parents.

The plan was for the parents to be checked in at the station and given a packet with information on the events of the weekend, their child’s or children’s class schedule, and where they were to stay for the weekend. Included in the packets were maps of the town, a map of the castle, and a small bag of chocolates. The Hogwarts elves had been extraordinarily helpful in arranging guest rooms for the parents.
Once the parents arrived and checked in, the parents of first and second year students would be taken to Hogwarts by boat just as the first year students were. Hagrid was thrilled to take part in the Parents’ Weekend and happy to oversee the boats. Students who were in their third year and up would meet their parents in Hogsmeade.

Hermione hurried out of the Hogwarts gates. It had taken longer than she’d planned to get everything set up. She thought she looked nice in a dark blue jumper and black trousers. What would Ron think? As much as she would love it, she didn’t think Ron would have the same reaction to seeing her that Harry did to seeing Ginny that morning.

She had to admit she was a bit jealous as she watched Harry’s reaction to Ginny. She didn’t understand how Ginny could so easily look so glamorous and even sexy. It was hard enough to just put together a nice outfit, much less a sexy one. Hermione didn’t even think she owned anything that was sexy. Of course she hadn’t realized that Ginny owned anything sexy either so it had been a bit shocking to see her friend that morning.

She was about half-way to town when she saw a familiar red head walking towards her. When she got closer, he caught sight of her and smiled. Running to him she threw her arms around him and kissed him. It was some time before she started thinking again.

“Ron! I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”

He smiled down at her and tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow as they continued Hermione’s trek into town. “I’ve missed you, too. I’m glad we have this whole weekend. I thought my sister was cracked in organizing this weekend, but wait until you see the village. Everyone there is very excited about this weekend.”

As the two walked into town, Hermione happily listened to Ron talking about his work and the cart his brother was operating in town this weekend. She had so missed hearing his voice, it wasn’t something she thought of on a regular basis, but listening to him now made her realize how much she’d missed him. She felt a spurt of jealously that Harry and Ginny were able to see each other every week. It really wasn’t fair that she and Ron were finally together and they were separated so much. Pushing that thought aside, she was determined to enjoy her time with him this weekend.

The sound of the train whistle broke into their conversation. Hermione sighed. “I guess we should head to the station.”

Ron looked down at her in confusion. “I thought you would be thrilled to see your parents.”

Blushing slightly Hermione sighed. “I am and I’m not. It feels so strange for them to be here — in the magical world. When I first started at Hogwarts…I would have given anything to have a weekend like this my first year. I was homesick and I missed my parents like crazy. I sent long letters home telling them about everything — the castle, my classes, the people. It helped connect us. As I’ve gotten older, this is my place and it seems a bit strange to be sharing it with them.”

She glanced up at him. “Not to mention I’d rather spend the time with you.”

Ron puffed up proudly at her words. “Maybe we can have my parents distract your parents.”

She laughed. “That might be a possibility.” Tugging on his hand she said, “There’s no sense in putting this off any longer. Might as well go and meet them.”

By the time Ron and Hermione arrived at the station, much of the crowd had dissipated. The parents of the first and second year students had already headed down to the lake and were being transported in groups across the lake. There were still a number of parents checking in. The welcome station was staying open until 4pm for any parents who planned to Apparate or Portkey into the town.

Hugh and Jane Granger were looking around in amazement as they talked to Molly and Arthur. Harry was leaning up against the building trying, rather unsuccessfully Hermione thought, to blend into the background. She could hear people whispering about Harry and some Muggle-borns trying to explain to their parents just who he was. Ginny was still helping to check in parents. Hermione looked between Ginny and her parents, but she couldn’t tell what was happening between them.


With a smile, she hugged both of her parents and in their embrace she felt a bit badly that she’d sort of wished they hadn’t come.

“I can’t believe the train managed the trip so quickly,” Hugh said. “I was looking out the window from time to time and couldn’t tell where we were or anything. One of the other parents said something about charms or something?”

“The train is hidden by charms,” Hermione said with a smile. “It doesn’t always follow what Muggles would call a normal track.”

“It was a lovely trip,” Jane said. “Everyone on the train was so nice. We’ve met ever so many people. We met one lovely couple who live just on the other side of town from us. Their son is in his first year, he’s in Hufflepuff. We’ve made arrangements to have dinner together.”

She smiled happily. “It’s so nice to be able to talk about you and to talk to other parents. I’ve listened to my friends go on about their children at school and have had to lie to change the subject. It’s nice to hear other parents just as bewildered as we were.”

For the first time it struck Hermione how hard it must have been for her parents all these years. Rather chagrined, she realized the Parents’ Weekend was an excellent idea. She shouldn’t have been so dismissive of Ginny’s ideas.

Ron greeted his parents and Hermione hugged both Mr and Mrs Weasley. Hermione thought Mrs Weasley looked ever so much better than she had over the summer. She still didn’t look like her old self, but she looked much, much better.

She froze when she heard her mother say, “I hear you have a wedding to plan, congratulations!”

To her relief, Mrs Weasley simply smiled and said, “Yes, we are planning for a Christmas wedding next year. It is very exciting.”

Mr Weasley smiled at them. “I’m sure you are excited about exploring the town and seeing the castle. We will see you around a bit later.”

Hermione realized with a start that her father was looking towards the town in a rather excited way. Upon reflecting she thought she shouldn’t be surprised. Her father loved travelling and seeing new things.

Saying goodbye to the Weasleys and waving to Harry, Hermione and Ron led her parents out into the streets of Hogsmeade.

Harry leaned back against the station building wishing for his Invisibility Cloak. Wizarding parents recognized him immediately while Muggle-born students had to explain to their parents who he was. It was all rather embarrassing. Only for Ginny would he have stayed there and just waited, but as he was there for Ginny he stayed and smiled at those passing by. From time to time Ginny would look over her shoulder and smile and blow kisses at him. That rather made it worth the aggravation of being talked about.

“Ginny!” Harry winced at the rather exuberant tones of Mrs Weasley. He watched as his fiancée stood and hugged both of her parents.

“Mum! Dad! Did you know George was here?” Ginny asked them excitedly.

“Georgie is here?” Mrs Weasley asked.

Ginny nodded. “He and Lee are here with a WWW cart selling merchandise this weekend.”

“I rather think he wanted to support his sister,” Mr Weasley said with a gentle smile for his daughter. He kissed her on the cheek. “You look lovely this morning.”

“Thank you, Daddy!” Ginny smiled delightedly. “I have to stay here for a bit longer. You can hang around the station or if you want to go explore the town, that’s fine.”

Mr Weasley exchanged a glance with his wife. “Molly, why don’t we head into town and what changes they’ve made?” He gave her a special smile. “After all, I haven’t taken my best girl to Hogsmeade in quite some time.”

“Oh, Arthur,” Mrs Weasley blushed, but looked pleased.

Once Ginny sat down to get back to work, Mr Weasley approached Harry. “Good morning, son.”

Harry happily returned Mr Weasley’s hug. “Good morning. I’m glad you could come.”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Mr Weasley replied. “My beautiful daughter has done a wonderful thing in bringing this idea to life. I’ve heard people talking about it at the Ministry all week. People are so excited about visiting or others wishing they still had children here to see what the fuss is all about. The Aurors and Unspeakables all seem quite happy to be working overtime.”

“Unspeakables?” Harry was surprised, he hadn’t heard about Unspeakables being involved.

Mr Weasley nodded. “They are helping with the warding and repealing enough of the Muggle Repelling Spells to allow the parents here, but still keep other curious Muggles away. It’s been quite tricky. They’ve been quite excited with the challenge.”

“That’s great,” Harry said with a smile. “Everyone here in town seems excited about this weekend as well. I didn’t realize it was going to be such a big deal.”

"Oh my yes,” Mr Weasley said. “There haven’t been Muggles in Hogsmeade for over a millennium. It’s quite an historic event.”

Mrs Weasley was hovering in the background as her husband and Harry were talking. Finally she broke in and greeted Harry.

“Mrs Weasley,” Harry said a touch coolly. “Ginny is thrilled that you could make it.” Glancing over at his fiancée who was currently charming the parents she was checking in, he couldn’t help but smile. “She was telling me last night that you’ve been talking a lot about the wedding plans. Gin has lots of great ideas.”

“Yes she does,” Mrs Weasley agreed. She paused for a moment, but then rushed on. “Harry, I am so sorry that I hurt your feelings. I know I’ve said this before, but…I was feeling rather overcome with emotions and the thought that Ginny was suddenly grown up was a bit too much for me. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did and I am truly sorry.”

Harry wanted to reply angrily, but he knew that if he was to belong to this family he would eventually have to make his peace with its matriarch. Biting back a sigh he said, “Mrs Weasley, it’s okay. I am hurt that you would think I would be using Ginny or hurt Ginny or whatever else, but I know you have her best interests at heart. I love Ginny and I hope you will be able to see that I will never hurt her or leave her.” He gazed at her for a moment before adding. “Please do me the favour of not believing every story you read about me or us. The papers have a rather unhealthy fascination with my love-life and are determined to print something. I might be pictured with another girl or gossiped about with another girl, but I promise you it will be false. I love Ginny and she is the only one I want to be with.”

“I will,” Mrs Weasley promised.

As he watched his future in-laws head into Hogsmeade, the cynical side of him wondered how long it would be before she broke that promise. While she hadn’t said anything to him, he’d heard from Ron how upset she’d been about the pictures of him with the girls at the Quidditch match. It had taken Mr Weasley’s intervention to prevent her from sending him a howler over the whole thing.

By the time Ginny was free to leave the station, it was long past noon. Ginny was thrilled with how well everything had gone so far and was chattering happily as they headed towards the Three Broomsticks.

A tug on his cloak had Harry whirling around quickly. He quickly stowed the wand he’d drawn when he saw a little girl standing in front of him. She couldn’t have been more than four or five he thought, but he wasn’t exactly sure. She had blonde hair pulled into two pony tails and she was very, very cute.

“Are you really Harry Potter?” she asked.

Harry laughed and knelt down so he was level with her. “I am. What’s your name?”

“Sarah,” she said as she looked him over. He had to smile as she reached out and pushed his fringe aside to see his famed scar. Running her finger over it, she looked at him with concern. “Is this where the bad guy hurted you?”

Harry nodded and her eyes grew wide. To Harry’s utter shock, she leaned in and kissed him on the forehead. “That should make it better.”

Harry laughed. “Thank you, Sarah. That was very nice of you.”

The little girl giggled and blushed. “You are nice. Thank you for saving all of us.”

While Harry had been thanked many times over the past months, somehow the little girl’s heartfelt thank you touched him in a way the other more polished thanks had not. Smiling he gently hugged the little girl. “You are very welcome.”

By this time Sarah’s rather mortified parents had shown up. “Sarah! Leave Mr Potter alone.”

Sarah looked up at her mother in confusion. “But mummy, you always say you wish you could thank him. That’s what I did.”

Standing Harry smiled at the woman. “It’s okay. She is very sweet.”

“Thank you,” the woman said. “For being so kind to her and for everything you’ve done.” She gestured behind her to where her husband stood with three other children, two who appeared Hogwarts age. “I have four children and last year…well I wasn’t sure I would ever see something as wonderful and peaceful as this. Thank you.”

Harry watched her as she re-joined her family. Sarah gave him a little wave before taking her older brother’s hand. Ginny reached over and took Harry’s hand. “That was very sweet.” She kissed him gently. “You are getting so much better with dealing with the attention.”

Blushing he ducked his head. “Thanks. I still wish they wouldn’t do that. If they were all cute little kids it wouldn’t be so bad.” He looked around. “I better not say that too loudly or Rita will suddenly employ tons of cute children.”

Ginny started laughing. “It’s sad, but she would do that wouldn’t she?”

To Harry’s relief, he was not approached by many people for the rest of the afternoon. He did greet the people he knew from the DA and he was introduced to Dean’s family, but for the most part he was able to spend the afternoon with Ginny. Together they wandered in and out of shops holding hands and occasionally stealing kisses.

The late lunch they had at the Three Broomsticks with the Grangers and the Weasleys was fun and thankfully everyone got along well. The Grangers were having a wonderful time exploring the town.

It was after curfew when Harry finally was able to follow his beautiful fiancée into their forgotten room at the end of the hidden passageway. As soon as he closed the door he turned and pinned her up against the wall kissing her passionately.

Ginny’s startled gasp soon gave way to an erotic moan that spurred Harry on. Reaching down he cupped her firm bottom in his hands and pulled her against him, his erection pressing into her.

“My God, Ginny,” he murmured as he pulled her jumper off and tossed it on the floor. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me today?” He kissed a hot trail down her neck. “You are so sexy and so beautiful and I’ve had to keep my hands to myself.”

She gave a husky laugh. “You don’t have to keep your hands to yourself anymore.”

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she jumped up slightly and wrapped her legs around his hips. He swore under his breath as she pushed up against him. Holding her up with one arm, he backed her up so she was up against the wall. Pulling his wand, he quickly divested both of them of their clothes.

Leaning down he kissed her deeply even as he shifted both of their bodies. Pulling back slightly, he looked into her eyes. “I love you,” he said as he thrust into her making them one.

Neither of them lasted long and soon he collapsed against her, sweaty and spent, but very happy. Dropping a kiss on her neck, he lifted her fully into his arms bridal style and carried her to the now permanently enlarged couch and laid her down before joining her.

Ginny rested her head on his chest, listening to his still rapidly beating heart. He ran his hand down her hair and dropped kisses on top of her head. “I am so proud of you, baby. You were so impressive today. Everything went so well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”

“I didn’t do it all myself,” Ginny said with a smile. “There was a whole committee and lots of people helping. It wasn’t even my idea. I just took what was originally Colin’s idea to Professor McGonagall.”

Harry laughed. “You are just as bad at taking a compliment as you always say I am. It might not have been your idea originally, but you are the one who made it come to life. You had the conviction to make everything work out and to enlist everyone to help you.”

“I don’t think I did as much as you think I did, but thank you.” She smiled up at him. Leaning up on one elbow she looked down at him. She reached out one hand and ran it through his hair, pushing it away from his face. “You helped me with that. You’ve been so encouraging and so positive that I would be able to work things out. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

Leaning down she kissed him briefly. “It has turned out well, hasn’t it?”

Her hand slid down and absently traced his newer lightning bolt scar on his chest.

“It has,” he said. “How is it that I fall a little more in love with you every single day? Every time I see you I think I can’t possibly love you anymore and the next time I see you or even just think about you — I love you even more.”

He reached up and cupped her cheek with his hand. “When you and your mum were talking earlier it hit me that this will be the last Christmas we will have to spend not married. We will be married in 14 months.”

“I sort of wish it was sooner,” Ginny said as she kissed the palm of his hand. “I know Mum wants us to wait until I finish school and I want to get married at Christmas, but I want to be married now.”

“Baby, I will marry you tonight…” he glanced at his watch. “Okay, I guess it would have to be morning. I will marry you whenever you want, wherever you want. I like the idea of getting married at Christmas, but if you don’t want to wait we can get married in the summer.”

“I’ve thought about asking Mum if we can move it up to this Christmas,” Ginny said. She moved up closer to him and resting arm on his chest and putting her chin on her hand. “I just don’t know if I want to put up with all of the…I don’t know… all of the hysteria that would go with it. Mum would assume I’m pregnant — well a lot of people would assume I’m pregnant. I’d still be at school and I’d miss you so much. It’s strange, but if we were married I think I’d miss you even more.”

Harry ran his hand down her hair and listened to her. He’d discovered that sometimes she just needed to talk everything out.

“I’m having fun looking at the bridal magazines and planning our wedding, but at the same time I want it over with so we can be married. Sometimes it seems like so much emphasis is put on the wedding day when the marriage is really the more important part.” She sighed. “What do you think?”

“I think that we just really miss each other,” Harry said after thinking it over for a minute. “I would love to be married right now, but I also want everyone to celebrate our wedding with us. You’ve been having fun planning and I don’t want you to miss anything. When you think about it, it’s only six weeks until Christmas. We will have a great time and then when you get back to school you’ll be caught up in studying for NEWTs and getting ready for try-outs. Once you finish we’ll be together.”

Twining his fingers with hers he said, “I don’t want to cause more problems with your mother, but I want you with me at Grimmauld Place. I know you’ll probably have training camp and all of that, but we’ll be together.”

Ginny smiled. “We will.”

Turning Harry slowly flipped her over so she was underneath him. “I can’t wait to have you in my bed every single night and just…I don’t want to be apart anymore.”

“We won’t have to be,” she whispered.

Leaning up she kissed him deeply. This time they made love slowly and joyfully. Harry took his time exploring her body and revelled in making her react. He loved watching her face as she orgasmed. It was an amazing feeling and an amazing sight. The two of them didn’t leave their secret room until almost dawn. Harry walked her to the Gryffindor Tower before calling Kreacher to take him back to the Three Broomsticks.

Back to index

Chapter 18: Chapter 18 Repercussions

Author's Notes: Sorry for the long wait between chapters, but I'm doing better now and hope to be writing more regularly. For those of you looking for the next chapter of 'Perilous Journey' - please put your pitchforks down - it should be done soon. Thank you for everyone who's been emailing and messaging me. The support is wonderful! Thanks as always to my wonderful betas - StephanieO and seekers_destiny.

Harry was rather tired, but very happy as he Apparated to the gates of Hogwarts the next morning. Professor McGonagall had told him the night before that he was welcome to come up to the castle for breakfast if he wanted. He felt a bit guilty for staying so late last night, but he couldn’t resist spending time with Ginny.

After being let onto the grounds by Hagrid, Harry hurried up to the castle. He found Ginny sitting with her parents, Hermione with her parents, and Luna. Luna’s father was in Egypt and had been unable to return. Harry was a bit surprised she wasn’t sitting with Dean and his family, but he wasn’t going to complain. Luna was a good friend and she was always loyal to Ginny.

He greeted everyone and dropped a kiss on Ginny’s cheek before taking the seat she was saving for him.

“Good morning,” he said to the table in general. Turning to Ginny, he caught his breath a bit. “Good morning, beautiful.”

Beaming she leaned over and kissed him. “Good morning.”

Today she was dressed much more casually, wearing a Hogwarts t-shirt with jeans. She was wearing her hair in a plait and little golden lion earrings. She and Harry had found the earrings the day before and Harry had purchased them for her. Smiling he reached out and touched the lion with one finger.
“You’re wearing them. They look cute.”

“Thank you, sweetie,” she said with a smile. “I figured they would be appropriate to wear today during our Quidditch match.”

“They are very nice,” Luna spoke up as she peered at Ginny’s earrings. “Do they roar?”

“Roar?” Ginny seemed a bit startled at the suggestion. “No, they don’t roar. I don’t think they do anything magical.”

“No, they are just normal earrings,” Harry confirmed.

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Luna mused. “That would be fun if they roared periodically.”

Ginny started laughing. “It might be, but it could also be rather disconcerting if they roared when I was trying to throw the Quaffle.”

Hermione started laughing as well. “Can you imagine roaring earrings in one of Professor Snape’s Potion’s class?”

Everyone burst out laughing at that image. Hermione had obviously shared enough stories of Professor Snape’s classes with her parents for them to understand how that would not have been received well.

Ron woke fairly early on Sunday morning. Stumbling down the stairs, he decided to stop in the little courtyard and have a smoke before heading into breakfast. He could hear a group of Aurors talking over their breakfast. He planned to step away, but he heard Harry’s name and couldn’t help but listen in.

“Potter never mentioned his fiancée was so hot,” one of the guys said with a laugh in his voice. “Did you see those boots?”

Ron felt his anger rise at the men talking about his sister like that, but he kept quiet. He wanted to hear what they had to say.

“He’s certainly not going to tell us how hot his fiancée is,” another man said as the group broke out into laughter.

“He looked happy enough when he headed back here the other night at midnight,” the first man said. “Makes me a bit jealous, they were all over each other yesterday.”

“That’s enough,” a new voice spoke up. “Potter deserves some happiness.”

“That’s true enough,” one of the first speakers said. “I was rather upset when I heard that Potter and a bunch of his friends were being let in without their NEWTs based on their alleged experience, but those kids are good.”

“I know, did you see them in York with the Dementors? Those kids really know what they are doing.”

Another voice joined the conversation. “I heard Potter testify in front of the Wizengamot. I’d always kind of thought he was a lot of hype, but listening to him talk that day…he’s the real deal.”

“I saw Potter and his girl wandering through town yesterday, they are very happy together.”

“I know I’m glad my girl didn’t see how he treats his girl, I’d be in a world of trouble.”

“Potter’s a lady’s man?” One of the voices asked laughing. Ron had to smile at that thought. Harry was certainly clueless around girls.

“No,” came a female voice. “He’s just obviously in love with his girl. He waited patiently at the station for her to finish her work and held her hand all through town. The way he watched her…let’s just say she’s a lucky girl. At least she knows it, I watched the way she watched him and they are adorable.”

“Adorable,” the first man scoffed.

“They are,” the girl protested.

The voiced moved away as the Aurors left their table. Ron finished his cigarette and as he did so he thought about his best mate and his sister. While he’d been in favour of them dating and he was glad that Harry was serious about her, he wasn’t sure he liked hearing how much Harry loved his sister. What was that about him getting in at midnight? Ron had tried Harry’s door last night, but he didn’t answer. At the time Ron thought Harry must be sleeping, but what if he’d still been up at the castle with Ginny?

That wasn’t fair. Ron had enjoyed his day with Hermione and her parents, but he didn’t have much alone time with her. Harry got to see Ginny every week. Before he entered the pub, he cast a spell that got rid of the smoke smell. He knew that Hermione wouldn’t be happy at the habit he’d picked up, but he didn’t want to quit yet. He would quit before she came home for the summer. As he entered the pub, Ron frowned he was going to have to keep an eye on his best mate and sister.

Jane Granger watched the Quidditch match in amazement. She’d seen Harry and Ginny fly at the Burrow, but this was something else entirely.

She turned to her daughter. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“I know,” Hermione replied with a smile. “I wish you could’ve seen Harry play. He’s amazing. He made the team in our first year — he was the youngest player in a century. When he flies he’s completely fearless. I’ve watched him make dives that he shouldn’t have been able to pull out of and he has the biggest smile on his face.”

“I wish I’d been able to see that,” Jane said as she turned to gaze at Harry. His attention was focused on Ginny.

Following her mother’s gaze, Hermione giggled. “He got so many bruises his 6th year from watching her. He’d get so caught up in watching her that he would forget to dodge the Bludgers.”

Jane laughed. “I can imagine that. He’s quite in love with her.”

Hugh leaned over his wife to ask his daughter, “Do you like flying?”

“No,” Hermione shook her head. “I hated flying lessons. You know I’ve never been good at sports and this combined magic, sports, and heights. I can stay on a broom if I have to, but I’m not comfortable on them.”

“That’s too bad,” Hugh replied. “I want to give it a try.”

Hermione smiled. “Somehow I knew you would want to do that.”

Her eyes lit up as Ron clambered up the steps to join them. He greeted everyone and smiled at her before taking her hand. She felt a bit of disappointment that he didn’t kiss her, but she thought perhaps he might be a bit intimidated by her parents sitting next to them.

“Do you play Quidditch?” Hugh asked Ron once he’d settled into his seat.

“Yes,” Ron said with a smile. “I play Keeper.” He pointed to the Gryffindor Keeper. “I was on the team my last two years at school.”

“That’s rather like a goalie, right? Preventing the other team from scoring,” Hugh commented.

Ron nodded. He’d heard Dean comparing a Keeper to a goalie so he was fairly sure they were comparable. “It’s a lot harder than it looks.” He winced as Eric, the Gryffindor Keeper, let in a goal. “I’d played with my brothers in our orchard for years, but I had a hard time my first couple of games remembering to cover all three goals. After my first game I wanted to resign, but I got better with time. Our Keeper, Eric, is new. His cousin, Angelina, was my first Quidditch captain, so he’s been playing for years, but this is his first year on the team. They didn’t play last year.”

Jane frowned. “It sounds like it was pretty horrible here last year.”

“Death Eaters were running the school,” Hermione spoke up. “Professor Snape does seem to have tried to protect the students from the Death Eaters worst impulses, but I’ve heard enough stories that…” she broke off shuddering. “It sounds horrid. Madam Florence, the counsellor has been quite busy.”

Ron looked over at her in concern. “How do you know that? Have you seen her?”

“Yes, all of us have,” she replied. She shrugged. “I still sometimes have nightmares about Malfoy Manor and sometimes about the final battle. Ginny gets called out several nights a week to deal with one of the girls having a nightmare and I know she has them herself.”

“I’m glad they have someone here to help you kids deal with all of this,” Hugh said with a frown. He hated to think of what must have gone on here the previous year. He felt rather lucky that his daughter hadn’t been here, what she had gone through sounded bad enough.

As he watched the kids flying around on broomsticks at incredible speeds, he wondered if he’d seen this before Hermione started at Hogwarts if he would have agreed so readily that she should attend. Hermione had always been a bit different from other children. She was so smart and truly enjoyed learning, he’d agonized during her primary school years when she would come home from school in tears or waited in vain for an invite to a schoolmate’s party.

Her accidental magic had been difficult to understand. Strange things tended to happen when other children picked on her and he and his wife had been at a loss to explain the things that had happened. When Professor McGonagall had come and explained that Hermione was actually a witch, it seemed that everything had been explained. He’d rather expected that Hermione would want to go away to school, but Hogwarts was so different than anything he could have ever imagined.

Hermione had written home regularly and at first he and Jane had worried when she reported only on her classes and nothing about friends. Slowly stories about both Ron and Harry had started coming home and Hugh had breathed a sigh of relief. Over the years Hermione’s letters had come to include stories about other friends, though none replaced Ron and Harry. He had wondered which of her friends would eventually turn into something more and he had honestly been surprised when she chose the boy who seemed to aggravate her the most, but Jane hadn’t been surprised in the least.

Hugh honestly enjoyed talking to Ron and his family, but he still wasn’t sure the boy was the right one for his little girl. To his mind, Harry seemed a better match for his princess. Harry had also been raised in what Hugh thought of as the ‘normal’ world, he was considerate of Hermione and had not caused the tears and drama that Ron had caused over the years. Not to mention the fact that the boy was a bona fide hero and apparently quite wealthy as well. However, Harry was engaged to Ron’s sister, Ginny, and seemed very happy about the fact. Hugh had to accept the fact that Harry was not the one for Hermione. He was glad that the boy seemed to think of Hermione as his sister. She could certainly do worse for a best friend.

Watching Ron, Hugh decided he would try to get to know the boy better. Hermione seemed quite fond of him, but Hugh was very glad that Hermione didn’t feel the need to pair off and get married right away. He’d been concerned when he’d heard about Harry and Ginny’s engagement, but Jane had reassured him that Hermione still planned to attend University and discover who she was as a person before settling down.

Hermione reached over and squeezed Ron’s hand. He was exceptionally quiet today. “Are you okay?”

He smiled at her in the way that always made her melt a bit. “I’m fine. I miss being here with you.”

Hermione flushed with pleasure, Ron wasn’t always so expressive with his sentiments. “I miss you as well. It seems a bit unfair that I get to see Harry every week, but not you.”

He grinned at her. “I’m sure Harry and Seamus would tell you I can be a bit of a grouchy git when they start talking about Hogwarts. As much as I wish I was with you, I think I’m doing the right thing. George is teaching me how to make the different wheezes and he really listens to me. We’re hoping to start making some new wheezes.”

Hermione listened to Ron talking about his life in London and she was happy he was sharing so much. He seemed to be more confident that he’d been over the summer and he was definitely enjoying himself.

“What about the pizza parlour?” she asked.

A look she couldn’t identify crossed his face. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “George was really excited about it, but he’s lost some of that enthusiasm lately. Percy and Fleur have been doing more with that idea than me and George.”

“How is George? He seemed like he was doing well yesterday.”

“He has his good days and bad,” Ron hedged. “He was really excited about being here this weekend and supporting Ginny. She writes to him at least once a week and he loves hearing about what she’s doing.”

“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said. “I assumed every time she sent Athena out it was with a letter for Harry.”

Ron laughed. “She writes to him almost every day. He’s rather pathetic about it.”

Ron had to dodge as Harry smacked him on the arm without ever taking his eyes off the game. “It’s true and you know it.”

“I’m not pathetic,” Harry defended himself. “I just love getting letters from Ginny.”

“And you carry them around with you and re-read them,” Ron teased.

“Whatever,” Harry muttered sending a glare at his best mate before the crowd roared drawing his attention back to the pitch. Ginny scored another goal before Amber caught the Snitch for Gryffindor.

Harry jumped to his feet cheering as did Ron. Once the players cleared off the pitch, Professor Flitwick and Madam Hooch set up stations for the Muggle parents to try flying for themselves.

Hugh was one of the first in line and he gingerly climbed onto the broomstick and followed Madam Hooch’s instructions. He wasn’t able to fly very high, but he was able to fly. It was an exhilarating experience. Before he landed, he waved to Jane who took a picture of him. Hermione had a look of extreme pride and embarrassment on her face.

“That was amazing,” Hugh gushed as he re-joined his daughter and her friends. “I wish I could have gone higher or done some tricks, but that was great.”

“Mr Granger, if you want, I can take you up the next time we are at the Burrow,” Harry offered.

Hugh’s eyes lit up. “That would be brilliant! I will definitely take you up on that offer young man.”

As they headed into the castle for lunch, Hugh found himself talking to the rather imposing Professor McGonagall.

“What do you think of the school?” she asked as they walked up from the Quidditch pitch.

“Overall, I’m very impressed,” he said earnestly. “I quite enjoyed learning about each of the classes and what the students are taught.”

She nodded. “Why do I get the feeling something is bothering you?”

Hugh sighed and stopped walking. The Headmistress did the same and the two moved out of the way of the crowd. “I am rather concerned that so many topics are skipped. There is no literature, no maths, no geography, or science. I hate to think that the children stop learning these things at age eleven. I’m glad to see that there is a wide array of extra-curricular offerings, but I have to admit that Hermione has never mentioned any of them to me. I’ve heard of Quidditch and flying, but nothing else. You have educated these students well, but they cannot function well in the Muggle world anymore. Even Hermione who is very clever is well behind her peers in Muggle electronics and the use of computers. We Muggles are doing incredible things and I fear that your students know nothing of such things.”

Professor McGonagall listened impassively. While her first instinct was to defend her beloved school, she did want her school to be the best so perhaps listening was needed. “I can understand some of your concerns. We do not have anything that is equivalent to literature or geography and perhaps that should be remedied. We do teach Arithmancy which is how we use maths and as for science — we teach magic which I dare say is our version of science. We are a magical school and we have seven short years to prepare our students to become fully qualified witches and wizards. There are some who might say we could cut Herbology or Astronomy, but both of those classes influence other classes.”

She thought it over for a few minutes. “I can certainly appreciate that our students will not be equipped to live in the Muggle world or familiar with Muggle technology. I am not familiar with computers, I’ve heard of them, but I am not certain what they do. I don’t wish our students to turn their backs on their heritage or the world they came from, but we must prepare them to live in the magical world. Technology such as you are talking about doesn’t work here at Hogwarts. The magic in the air renders the technology useless.”

“I do understand that electronics won’t work here. Perhaps a summer offering,” Hugh suggested. “A class in Muggle technology or literature could be offered over the summer.”

Professor McGonagall nodded slowly. “I could talk to my colleagues and we might be able to prevail on some of our more technologically savvy graduates to teach a class in a Muggle University. We used to have an arrangement with Oxford several hundred years ago, perhaps that can be revived. We have just this year overhauled our classes and curriculum in light of recent events. Our history and Muggle Studies curriculums are brand new and will hopefully help bridge the gap between our two worlds.”

The pair resumed their walk towards the castle. “I wonder, Mr Granger, if you wouldn’t mind setting up a meeting in a week or two. I’ve been thinking about setting up a Muggle parent’s group and would like to hear your input.”

“That would be brilliant,” he replied. “My wife and I have met several families this weekend and commented how we wished we’d met some others in our situation years ago. Perhaps we could set up a mentoring program so new Muggle parents don’t feel so isolated and unsure.”

“What a wonderful idea,” she said. “I am glad we had a chance to speak and I look forward to hearing from you. I will send an owl next week to arrange a meeting.”

Ron was in a much better mood after he and Hermione had snuck away for some private time after the Quidditch exhibition. He was actually surprised at how well the Parents’ Weekend had gone. His parents had gone home after the Quidditch exhibition. Ron wondered if it had all been a bit much for his mother.

Overall, he thought she was doing much better, but she still had her moments when she got upset. He was glad she’d made it here at all.

Hermione had surprised him with a framed picture of herself. Apparently Dennis had taken pictures of all of the students and Ron thought Hermione’s were wonderful. There was one picture of her in her Hogwarts robes standing in front of a book stack at the library and another was a more relaxed picture of her by the lake. He thought she looked beautiful.

For lunch, they ended up at a table with Mr and Mrs Granger, Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione. It started halfway through the meal or at least that’s when Ron noticed it.

Ginny loaded something on her fork and offered it to Harry. “Here, sweetie, try this.”

Obediently Harry opened his mouth and tried it. “That’s good.”

Ginny said something, but Ron didn’t hear what it was. She was just chattering away as usual and Harry was just listening. It was rather annoying the way she kept offering him food and it was even worse when he started doing the same. Ron looked over at Hermione who thankfully was way too sensible for that sort of nonsense.

“Ginny, he can feed himself,” Ron finally pointed out.

“I’m not feeding him,” Ginny said blushing. “I was just letting him taste some different dishes.”

Harry glared at him, but Ron didn’t care. He shouldn’t allow his girlfriend to embarrass him like that.

When the main course disappeared, an array of desserts arrived at their table. Harry of course immediately helped himself to a large slice of treacle tart while Ginny took small portions of a number of items. Every once in a while, Ginny would reach over and take a bite off of Harry’s plate.

There was nothing that annoyed Ron more than people trying to eat off his plate and he couldn’t understand how Harry just let Ginny steal a bite of his food. It was at times like these that he wished his best mate wasn’t dating his sister. How could Harry not see that the way she was behaving was making him look bad?

As the meal came to an end, Professor McGonagall stood to get everyone’s attention. “I would like to thank all of the parents and students for making the first annual Parents’ Weekend a huge success.”

A wave of applause rocked the Great Hall and Professor McGonagall waited patiently for the applause to wane. Once everyone had quieted down Professor McGonagall continued, “The students have worked very hard on making this weekend the best it could possibly be. Many of the students have participated in numerous ways, from being guides, explaining clubs, participating in the Quidditch match, and of course the planning and preparing for the weekend. There is one student in particular whom I would like to honour today. Our head girl, Ginny Weasley, is the one who first mentioned to possibility of a Parents’ Weekend to me and she took a leading role in planning and preparing for this weekend.”

Again the Great Hall broke out in applause. Ginny blushed prettily while Harry was clapping proudly.

Professor McGonagall waved Ginny up to the head table and when she arrived, the older witch said, “Congratulations Miss Weasley! You are being awarded a special award for the school. This plaque is for you and there will be one placed in the trophy room here at the school. You have done much to revitalise and reunite this school after a truly tragic and horrifying year. Last year your leadership helped lead a rebellion against the Death Eaters who had taken over the school and this year your leadership is helping us to heal.”

She handed Ginny a plaque inscribed with her name and a picture of the banner reading ‘First Annual Parents’ Weekend’. The students stood and cheered much louder than they had before. Harry whistled and cheered on his fiancée happily.

Ginny took her plaque and shook Professor McGonagall’s hand before deciding to dispense with formality and hugged the rather stern professor who returned the embrace. Wiping her eyes, Ginny turned to the students. “Thank you so much! I really appreciate the honour. I would like to mention one of my fallen classmates who gave me the idea for the Parents’ Weekend. Colin Creevey, who was sadly killed in the battle, told me about the Parents’ Weekends held at Muggle schools and after the awfulness of last year I thought we needed to not only see our parents, but also reassure them that we are safe.”

Ginny walked back to her seat amidst more cheers. Several friends stopped her and hugged her or shook her hand. It took her awhile to make it back to Harry’s side. He hugged her and kissed her deeply.

“Congrats Gin!” he said huskily when he pulled away. “I am so proud of you.”

Hermione smiled and congratulated her as well and hugged her. Ginny felt a bit of relief as she had been concerned that Hermione might be upset with the attention she was receiving. Ron didn’t seem overly happy for her, but his emotions seemed all over the place these days so she didn’t take it personally.

Professor McGonagall reclaimed everyone’s attention one last time. “Again, I would like to thank everyone for participating in this weekend. The staff and I have enjoyed the chance to speak with so many parents. Upon consultation with our Muggle Studies Professor and our colleagues at the Ministry we have set up a phone number that parents can call to get in touch with us quickly.

“The number is, I’m told, in an unusual configuration for a phone number, but the number is 46492787 724665. The number is included in your welcome packets. It will ring to a switchboard that will relay the message to us in a timely manner. This is not intended for you to speak to your students, but it is for you to speak to the staff.

“I have spoken to several parents and asked to set up meetings. I hope this new and open communication will be maintained over the school year. The train will be leaving in thirty minutes and the trip to London should take no more than three hours. Thank you.”


Looking up Harry was happy to see Bill entering the newest deli on Diagon Alley. “Bill! Can you join me?”

“Sure,” Bill replied glancing at his watch. “I have plenty of time.”

Once Bill had his lunch, he joined Harry at one of the tables. “It’s great to see you,” Bill said as he sat down. “It sounds like Ginny had a wonderful time on Parents’ Weekend. She sent me and Fleur and letter and she sounded over the moon.”

Harry smiled. “She had a great time. Did she tell you about her award for special services to the school?”

Bill had to hide a smile at the way Harry’s face lit up at just the mention of Ginny’s name. It was funny he’d always thought he’d be over protective of his only sister, but he could tell how much Harry loved his sister and somehow Bill couldn’t help but want to support the young couple.

“Mum did,” Bill explained as he opened his paper wrapped sandwich. “She was so proud of Ginny.”

“That’s great,” Harry said with a smile. “Ginny worked so hard and it is nice to see her get the recognition she deserves. Everyone seemed to have a great time.”

Bill nodded. “The stories I’ve heard from those I work with are wonderful. I’m so proud of her. She seemed to be working so hard this year. It’s great that she can have such a brilliant last year.” He shot a teasing glance at his future brother-in-law. “I think it helps that she gets to see you every week.”

Blushing Harry smiled. “I don’t know if I would be doing so well if I didn’t get to see her so much. She was saying she wanted to move the wedding up, but I think she’s changed her mind again. She really wants a Christmas wedding, but we just want to be married.”

“I understand, it seemed like Fleur and I were engaged forever. It was only a year, but at times it seemed a lot longer,” Bill sympathized. “What about you?” he asked curiously.

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. I’d love to be married now, but it would be hard to be separated so often. Half the time I still can’t believe she agreed to marry me so I’m thrilled to get married whenever she wants — this Christmas, next Christmas, Halloween, whenever.”

The two wizards ate and made casual conversation while they did so. Harry shared some of his tales from training while Bill shared some of his past adventures in Curse Breaking. After he finished his lunch, Harry toyed with the wrapper that had held his sandwich. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to Bill about his concerns, but he was having a good time and he wasn’t sure he wanted to bring up the topic.

Bill however took that decision out of his hands when he asked, “What’s going on with George and Ron? Fleur thought they were really excited about the pizza parlour idea, but now they’ve not done anything. The building has been renovated and decorated, but they keep putting off interviewing managers or hiring anyone. Have they said anything to you?”

Harry sighed. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you actually. I’m worried about them. They’ve become very friendly with a group of other young shop clerks on the alley and lately they’ve been spending a lot of nights out at the pubs. They party a lot and I’ve had to go get them from the Leaky Cauldron several times. Seamus and I have to go and drag them out of the pub and get them home. I don’t know what to do. If I say anything to them, George doesn’t usually say anything, but Ron always gets angry and says I don’t know what it’s like to lose a brother so I can’t criticize them. Ron’s even started smoking. I’ve asked him not to smoke in the house, but Kreacher told me just last night he’s still smoking in his room.”

Bill listened with growing concern. “Damn! I was hoping I was worrying for nothing. I saw them out drinking one night last week and I hoped it was a one-time thing.”

Harry shook his head. “No, it’s becoming more and more frequent. I don’t know what to say to Ron anymore. He’s so angry and moody. He gets angry because I get to see Ginny every week and he doesn’t get to see Hermione so often. I’ve tried not to talk about Ginny around him because it always starts him on a tear about how it isn’t fair and I shouldn’t get preferential treatment.”

“You’re not getting preferential treatment,” Bill objected. “You’re taking classes. I thought Ron was talking about starting Auror training in the spring, isn’t that right?”

“I honestly think he said that to get your mum or Hermione off his back,” Harry said. “He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to be an Auror or should I say he doesn’t want to do the training to be an Auror. He thinks none of us should have to undergo training because of everything that happened while we were in school. I’ve tried to tell him that there’s a lot more to Auror work, but he won’t listen.”

“I’ll have to talk to him,” Bill said shaking his head. “I know they’re torn up about…about losing Fred. We all are, but we can’t use that as an excuse to party and ignore our responsibilities.”

Harry glanced at his watch. “I hate to drop such news on you and leave, but I have to be back at the Ministry.”

“No, I understand,” Bill replied. He stood when Harry did and shook his hand. “Thank you for telling me what is going on. I know that couldn’t have been easy.”

Once Harry left, Bill wavered for a minute and then sent a message to Gringotts saying he had a family emergency to take care of and headed off for the Leaky Cauldron.

Tom, the old bartender, was behind the bar as usual when Bill entered. “Good afternoon, Mr Weasley. Don’t see you this time of day too often.”

“No, I don’t get down here much,” Bill acknowledged. “Can I have a butterbeer?”

Wordlessly Tom pulled a chilled butterbeer from his cold cupboard and poured it skilfully into a cold glass and slid it across the bar to Bill.

“Thank you,” Bill said as he took a long drink. He had to smile. Butterbeer always reminded him of those wonderful afternoons in Hogsmeade when he was a kid. Looking around the bar, he was glad to see it wasn’t too busy. He wasn’t sure if he wanted anyone to overhear this conversation.

“Tom, I wanted to ask you about my brothers.”

Bill could see an immediate reaction and his heart sank. He’d hoped that maybe Harry just had the wrong impression of what was going on with them.

“I figured ye’d get here eventually,” Tom allowed. He shook his head. “They’re good boys, but they’re getting into too much drink. Poor Mr Potter, I don’t think there’s been a week I haven’t bothered him in months. He’s always very patient, he comes and pays their tab and coaxes them out of here. I hate to do it, but they get rowdy and my other customers aren’t too happy.”

Bill frowned, Harry hadn’t mentioned having to pay any tabs. “Harry mentioned something about the company they keep.”

“They’re always here with the shop girls,” came a voice from behind him. Bill turned to see a pleasant looking blonde girl. She blushed slightly. “Sorry, I’m Hannah Abbott. I went to school with Harry and Ron.”

“Nice to meet you, Hannah,” Bill said. “I’m sorry who are the shop girls?”

“That’s what Harry and I both call them,” Hannah explained. “They are all pretty young girls who work in the shops along Diagon Alley. Most of them didn’t go to Hogwarts and none of them fought in the war, but they are all happy to celebrate the end of it. They’re just shallow girls who like to party.”

Hannah blushed at Bill’s raised eyebrow. “Sorry, I don’t like them very much. When I first started working here I tried talking to them, but apparently I’m not pretty enough to hang out with them. They have ‘standards’.”

“Lovely,” Bill said sarcastically. He thought for a moment. “Do you know why my brothers are hanging around with them? I mean Ron has a girlfriend and I don’t think George is really ready for any type of relationship.”

“These girls aren’t exactly relationship material,” Hannah explained dryly. “I think George hooked up with one or two of them, but I think Ron is just flattered by the attention. You know at school he was always in Harry’s shadow and here he’s a hero. I think the attention’s just gone to his head a bit.”

Harry was just sitting down to breakfast when Athena flew in carrying a letter from Ginny. He accepted the letter with a smile and offered Athena some bacon and pumpkin juice, both of which the owl took gratefully before flying off to her perch in Harry’s room.

28 October 1998

Hello love!

I just have time for a quick note this evening. We have a Transfiguration quiz in the morning and Hermione doesn’t think I’m prepared enough so I’ll have to get some revising done tonight.

We are starting to prepare for our Christmas pantomime and it’s a lot of fun. Hermione and I are both working on the sets so we’ve been working with the house elves to create the backdrops we will need. The try-outs were held and Demelza got the part of Athelda, the witch who was robbed of her fortune by an evil wizard. She’s thrilled and having fun with it.

The part of Amata went to a very sweet 5th year from Hufflepuff and Justin got the part of the Knight. I think Sophie, the Hufflepuff, is very excited because she has a huge crush on Justin and hadn’t been able to work up the nerve to talk to him. (I know what that’s like!!)

Hermione is sending me glares, so I guess I better start revising. I love you and I miss you and can’t wait to see you on Friday!

Love forever,

Harry smiled as he read and reread Ginny’s letter. It didn’t really say much, but just the fact that she took time out of her evening to write to him always made him feel special.

“Snap out of it!” Ron said crossly.

Harry looked up from his letter in confusion. Glancing across the table, he was surprised to see Ron glaring at him. “What?”

“What?” Ron repeated mockingly. He shook his head in disgust. “Could you be any more sappy and disgusting? Sighing and smiling over a little note like a schoolgirl.”

Harry looked down blushing. He wasn’t that bad, was he? “I can’t be happy my fiancée wrote me note?”

Ron rolled his eyes. “Do you have any idea what kind of reputation you are getting? The girls think you are a bit of a pansy to be honest.”

“What girls?” Harry asked indignantly.

“The girls from the shops,” Ron said. “You won’t come out drinking with us, you act like you are an old codger half the time. ‘Ron, stop drinking! Ron, stop smoking!’ Good Lord, you’re not my father. Even my father isn’t such a stick in the mud.”

“I’m not a stick in the mud!” Harry protested. He was starting to get a bit angry now.

“When was the last time you had fun?” Ron challenged him. “You just sit at home and moon over Ginny’s letters.”

“That’s not true. I had a great time last weekend.”

“Last weekend,” Ron said contemptuously. “Do you have any idea what an idiot you looked like last weekend? Following my sister around like a puppy dog, letting her feed you, it was pathetic. You should have heard the people laughing about how pathetic you were. ‘Yes, Ginny’ or ‘Of course, Ginny’. Don’t you have any self-respect? Don’t let her run all over you!”

“She doesn’t run all over me,” Harry returned angrily. “I love your sister.”

“In less than six months you’ve gone from hero of the wizarding world to laughing stock of the wizarding world all because of my stupid sister!”

“That’s out of line,” Seamus said as he entered the kitchen. He looked between the two mates trying to figure out what’s going on.

“I’m just trying to help him,” Ron defended himself. “He’s making a fool of himself over my sister and there’s no reason for it.”

“No he’s not,” Seamus disagreed.

“Of course you’d be on his side,” Ron said rather meanly. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you becoming all friendly with him. Are you looking for a new best mate? Did you suddenly realize that he’s rich and hope he’ll spread a bit of the wealth? Good luck with that. The only one he spends money on is my sister — not that she deserves it.”

Shaking his head in disgust, Ron said, “I’m out of here. I can’t stand to watch him moon over my sister when she’s not even here!”

After Ron left, Seamus looked over at Harry who looked rather like someone had hit him hard in the stomach. “What the hell was that all about?”

“I have no idea,” Harry said. “I don’t even know if I should be angry or hurt. I got a letter from Ginny and he started banging on about how I’m making a fool of myself over Ginny and people are laughing at me and I’m an idiot — that sort of rot. I’m not that bad, am I?”

“No,” Seamus replied stoutly. “I think he’s a bit upset that he doesn’t get as many notes from Hermione as you do for Ginny. You know Ron — he always reacts by getting angry.”

Harry shook his head. “I’m getting really sick of putting up with his crap. If he doesn’t watch his attitude…” He groaned trailing off. “Damn! I don’t know what to do with him. Part of me wants to kick him out, but I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.”

“You talked to Bill, right?”

Harry nodded as he folded up his letter and tucked it carefully in his pocket.

“Hopefully Bill can talk some sense into him,” Seamus commented as they left the house.

Ron fumed as he stormed down Diagon Alley towards the shop. Last night the girls had been banging on about Harry. Actually, they all thought the pictures of Harry and Ginny in the papers were sweet, but Ron was getting sick of Harry’s attitude.

Harry didn’t know what it was like to lose a brother. What right did he have to criticise Ron and George for going out drinking a bit? They weren’t hurting anyone and George seemed better than he’d been over the summer.

The thing that had really set Ron on edge he couldn’t even talk to Harry about. Chloe and Emma both thought that Harry and Ginny were sleeping together. Chloe said something about the ‘sexual chemistry’ between the two of them. Ron wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but he wasn’t going to ask. Between the girls’ comments, the Aurors’ comments in Hogsmeade, and the fact at Harry hadn’t been in when Ron had checked on him Ron was getting a picture he didn’t like.

Harry wouldn’t be shagging his sister and not say anything, right? Ron didn’t know if he should be angry or jealous. He and Hermione had done some fooling around, but she had very clear boundaries that he couldn’t cross. He assumed it was the same for Harry and Ginny, but now he was questioning that.

He’d been thrilled to hear that Harry and Ginny were engaged. That meant that Harry wasn’t messing his sister around and he was really serious about her. But did Harry think that by getting engaged he was entitled to sleep with her? Would Ginny sleep with him? Dean had made it clear that Ginny had turned him down flat. Surely she would do that to Harry too.

Ron couldn’t imagine getting married now. He really fancied Hermione and had for some time, but they were way too young to make such a commitment. He wanted to have fun not turn into some boring old stick in the mud, but he was afraid Harry had already done that.

His temper was still running high when he arrived at the shop and he knew he needed to calm down. With so many volatile potions, not thinking clearly was a really bad idea.

George waited in line at the Ministry to have his wand checked. He’d heard Ron’s harangue about Harry and he really wasn’t sure what was behind it. Between Ron’s attitude and Bill’s visit this morning, George was honestly feeling a bit sick to his stomach. How had things gotten off track so badly?

Once his wand had been checked, George headed down to level two. He was surprised to see a new memorial on the wall in the hall of magical windows leading away from the lift. He stopped to read the memorial.

It was dedicated to the Aurors lost in the wars against Voldemort. George swallowed heavily to see names he knew — Alistair Moody, Nymphadora Tonks — Lupin, and Rufus Scrimgeour. He was happy to see Alice and Frank Longbottom were commemorated even though they had not been killed in the wars; they were in the long term care wing of St Mungo’s, having been tortured into insanity by a group of Death Eaters including Bellatrix Lestrange. He shook his head to see how many lives had been affected by Voldemort.

For a moment he felt a bit ashamed. His loss was wrenching and at times he didn’t know how he could go on, but he was not the only one who lost someone. He thought about how many times in the past few months he and Ron had thrown into Harry’s face that he hadn’t lost a brother. How could they have done that? Harry had lost so much — his parents, his godfather, Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore. How had he been able to go on in the face of so much loss?

George headed on to the Auror Department and in a few minutes he was standing next to Harry’s cubicle. He had to smile at the pictures on Harry’s desk. There were several pictures of Ginny, a few pictures of Teddy, and even a picture of Harry, Ron, and Hermione taken shortly after the Battle at Hogwarts. George looked around, the girl at the front had directed him here, but Harry wasn’t here.


Looking up George was glad to see Harry approaching. “Hi Harry.”

“Is everything okay?” Harry asked in concern.

“No, everything’s good,” George insisted. “I wondered if you had a minute to talk.”

Harry didn’t look convinced that there wasn’t a major emergency, but he nodded. “Let’s go over to the conference room, there’s no one in there now.”

Once the two wizards were settled in the conference room, Harry looked anxiously at George waiting for him to speak.

“Harry, first I owe you an apology. I know I haven’t been behaving well and I really can’t believe I keep throwing Fred into your face as a justification for my behaviour.”

Harry started to speak, but George held up his hands. “Please, let me finish.” Harry subsided and let George continue.

“When I was up in Hogsmeade this weekend…it was a bit of a shock. I wanted to go to support Ginny, but I will admit I was nervous about going. I’ve never been to Hogsmeade without Fred. I took some time while I was there and…” a mischievous grin lit his face, “I snuck into Hogwarts using the tunnel from Honeydukes.”

His grin faded as he recalled the moment. “I got really angry at Fred. I mean who the hell dies from a wall falling on them? I also laughed because he died in an explosion...that does make sense, right?”

Harry nodded with a faint smile on his face. George sighed. “I also realized that I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing. I miss Fred more than I can say. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed and other days I’m doing okay. I went to St Mungo’s on Monday and I’m going to a support group for those who lost loved ones in the war. I went to the first meeting that night and it really opened my eyes. There was one poor lady who lost her husband and two children in an attack the day before the battle. It made me realize that I’m not the only one who has suffered.”

“That’s great,” Harry said. “I’ve been talking to our counsellor here as well. I didn’t want to at first. I mean I’ve been through the loss of my parents and Sirius and Dumbledore without any counselling, so I thought I could get through this, but you know what I realized? I never really grieved for any of them. Ginny’s been amazing. She’s let me talk about them and that has helped me so much. Our counsellor has helped me work through some of my feelings. It’s really helped.”

“I didn’t realize that,” George said.

Harry shrugged. “I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Ginny knew, but I didn’t tell anyone else. Between the two of them…they’ve really helped me. I think people expect you to get over it or something, but that’s not really the way it works. There will be days when I think of something I want to tell Sirius or something I want to ask Dumbledore and when I remember why I can’t it really crashes over me, but I’m recovering much more quickly.”

“I think that’s what I was expecting,” George said. “I’ve been really lucky. I’ve never really lost anyone. My uncles died when I was a baby, but it didn’t affect me at all. I felt bad when Sirius died and Dumbledore and Moody, but I wasn’t all that close to them. I felt worse for you than any thought about them. When I first saw Fred…I won’t lie, I wanted to die. I thought about it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.

“When I was in Hogsmeade, I realized that I was making plans to move on without Fred. Saturday night I went out and got falling down drunk,” he sighed. “Not the most mature option, but it was the easiest. I have to stop doing that.”

“I am so sorry, Harry. I honestly didn’t think about what our drinking was doing to anyone else. Bill came to visit me this morning and read me the riot act. I never knew that you’ve paid over 100 Galleons in bar bills. It is so embarrassing and I want to pay you back.”

“No,” Harry broke in. “I don’t want your money. I just…it’s not good for you to be drinking so much. Ron…I don’t know what to do about him.”

“I’m sorry for what he said this morning,” George said shamefaced.

Harry blushed and dropped his eyes. George hurried to continue, “He’s totally wrong. I don’t know what is wrong with him. No one is talking about you and I personally think that you and Ginny are perfect for each other.”

“Why did he explode like that?” Harry asked in confusion. “I’ve been trying to figure that out.”

George shrugged. “I don’t know exactly. He’s angry that Hermione is at Hogwarts and he’s here. He’s upset that he doesn’t get to see Hermione.” He shot a look over at Harry. “I think he’s upset that you and Ginny may be doing things that he and Hermione haven’t been able to do.”

Harry coloured slightly, but said, “I don’t see why he needs to take that out on me. Ginny and I have been dating for longer than him and Hermione and we have made more of a commitment to each other.”

George raised his hands. “Harry, mate, I think you are perfect for my sister and I’m glad you’re getting married. I don’t particularly want to know what you and she are getting up to when you’re alone.”

Harry laughed. “Okay, no problem.”

Standing George said, “I just wanted to come and apologize and let you know I’ll try to do better. I’m going to a support group meeting tonight so I will be home late, but I won’t be out drinking.”

Harry smiled and shook George’s hand. “You don’t owe me any explanations, but I’m glad you are getting help. If you need anything from me at all, please let me know.”

“I’m so glad,” Ginny said after she listened to Harry recount his conversation with George several days later. “He needs some help.”

“He’s been doing great,” Harry said. “I think he even met one of the people for coffee or something. He’s connecting to people again.”

“What about Ron?”

“He’s angry and upset,” Harry said sadly. “I don’t know how to help him. I’d hoped that with George not going out Ron would stop, but he hasn’t. He’s angry that Bill came down on him and he’s angry that I talked to Bill.”

“He’s going to have to realize that he can’t keep acting this way,” Ginny said softly. She glanced around the library where she and Harry were talking. “Hermione is losing patience with him as well. He hardly ever replies to her letters. She is worried about him. She’s not sure what is wrong, but she said even when he was here that there was something off. They had a good weekend , but she gets nervous when all he talks about in his brief letters is going out with the shop girls.”

“I don’t think she has anything to worry about with them,” Harry said. “I wonder what his issue is with us.”

“Who knows,” Ginny replied. She was rather upset at the way her brother was acting. She was especially upset at what he’d said to Harry. Glancing at her watch, she realized that Harry would have to leave soon. “Let’s go for a walk, sweetie.”

They spent the rest of the evening cuddling and trading kisses. Harry decided he wasn’t going to worry about Ron any more. He hoped his friend would come around and he wanted to be there for him, but if Ron was going to continue to be angry and self-destructive there wasn’t much he could do.

Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and found it empty. Seamus had gone home for the weekend and George was spending the weekend at the Burrow. Harry was glad that George was making such an effort to reconnect with his parents. According to both George and Ginny, Mrs Weasley was doing much better and seemed much more like her old self.

It was past two in the morning when Kreacher woke him. “Sorry to wake you Master, but there is a Floo call for you.”

Blearily, Harry stumbled down the stairs. He’d have to talk to Kreacher about installing a smaller communication Floo on one of the upper levels. Having the only Floo in the basement was rather annoying. He hoped it wasn’t a call out. Teddy was coming over in the morning and he didn’t want anything to interfere with that visit. He’d not been able to see Teddy for a few weeks so he was really looking forward to this weekend.

His heart sank when he saw Tom in the Floo. When Tom saw him, he said, “Sorry to bother you Mr Potter. Young Mr Weasley is causing a huge disturbance. He’s very drunk and getting quite loud and belligerent. I’ve already broken up one fight and I’m afraid he’s going to start another one.”

Harry nodded as he considered his options. “What would happen if I didn’t come?”

“I’ll have to call the authorities,” Tom said. “He’d be arrested and at the least there would be a fine.”

Groaning Harry said, “Give me a few minutes.”

He got dressed and was going to Apparate to the Leaky Cauldron, but instead found himself outside the Burrow. He was able to wake Mr Weasley and explain what was happening. “I was going to just go, but if he’s angry and belligerent I don’t think I should go by myself.”

Mr Weasley nodded in a distracted way as he thought over what Harry had told him. Bill and George had both mentioned that Ron was having problems, but this was more than he’d anticipated.

Walking over to the Floo, Mr Weasley threw some Floo powder into the fireplace. “Leaky Cauldron!”

When Tom answered, Mr Weasley said, “Tom, I believe you need to call the authorities.”

Tom nodded. “I thought it was getting to that point. Sorry for the trouble this will cause.”

“I think it needs to be done,” Mr Weasley replied. He turned from the fireplace to a stunned Harry. “I know you want to help Ron, but he has to want the help. I’m hoping this will serve as a wakeup call for him.”

“But he’ll have to pay a fine and might have charges levied against him,” Harry protested.

“If he does, he will have earned them,” Mr Weasley said firmly. “Trust me, son, I don’t like this any more than you do, but I also don’t like what I’m hearing from my other boys. It sounds as though you have covered quite a bit of money in bar tabs for him and you’ve rescued him and George quite enough. He needs to face the consequences of his actions.”

Reluctantly Harry agreed and returned back to Grimmauld Place. To his surprise, he fell back asleep easily. He would deal with Ron in the morning.

Back to index

Chapter 19: Chapter 19 Angry Birds

Author's Notes: Thank you so much to StephanieO and seekers_destiny for their beta work! I am sorry it took so long between updates, thank you for sticking with me. I know that Hermione might come across as a bit ooc, but please keep in mind the stress she is under and she has some lingering unresolved issues from her experiences during the war.

Ginny sleepily followed Hermione to the Great Hall for breakfast. Even though it was a weekend, she had Quidditch practice in preparation for their first game next weekend. She glanced over at Hermione and was disgruntled to notice how alert and well put together her friend was so early in the morning.

“Miss Weasley, Miss Granger!”

The girls turned to see Professor McGonagall approaching them. “Good morning Professor.”

“Good morning, ladies,” the headmistress replied. “I wondered if you could join me in my office for a few minutes.”

“Of course,” Hermione replied promptly. Ginny agreed and they followed her up to her office.

When they entered the office, Ginny was shocked to see her father. “Dad! Is everything okay? Is it Mum?”

“Your mother’s fine,” Mr Weasley said reassuringly. “Please sit down.”

The girls sat down on the chairs he indicated. Professor McGonagall sat down on the other side of her desk.

“Dad, what is it?”

“I understand that Harry spoke to you about your brothers,” he began.

Ginny nodded. “He told me he was concerned that they’d been drinking. Ron’s been acting like a right prat.”

“It’s not his fault,” Hermione defended her boyfriend. “He’s been going through a lot.”

“That may be,” Mr Weasley said, “but I feel it’s gone on long enough. I believe Harry very much understated the problem. Bill did some investigating this week and discovered that Ron and George have been running up bar bills and drinking way too much. Tom at the Leaky Cauldron has had to call Harry to come and retrieve them at least once a week, sometimes more often because they’d become either to rowdy or a bit too belligerent. Additionally Harry has covered over 100 Galleons in bar bills run up by the boys.”

Both girls paled as they listened to Mr Weasley, they hadn’t realized how out of hand the problem had gotten. Ginny looked over at Hermione and saw tears sparkling in her eyes. Reaching out she took Hermione’s hand. The older girl tried to smile, but she couldn’t really manage to do so.

“It gets worse I’m afraid,” Mr Weasley said gently. “Last night Harry came to me and asked for me help. Tom had called him. Ron was at the bar and had started one fight that they’d broken up and was on the verge of starting another. Harry didn’t want to go without back up so he came to the house. I told him not to bail Ron out of his problems. Ron was arrested early this morning for fighting, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct.”

“What?” Hermione was appalled. “Harry just let him get arrested?”

“It was my decision,” Mr Weasley replied a slight shake in his voice belied his calm demeanour. “Bailing Ron out every few weeks wasn’t doing him any good, he needs help.”

“So you had him arrested? What kind of parent are you? You should have helped him! You should have gone to get him. Even if Harry decided not to help him, you are his father!” Hermione was outraged. “He needs help! He is hurting so badly.”

“I understand,” Mr Weasley replied. “I know he needs help, but he wasn’t ready to accept it. When Bill approached him, Ron yelled at him that he was fine and Harry was just being a prat.”

“Did you think that was maybe the truth?” Hermione challenged him.

“Do I think that drinking to the point you don’t remember what happened several times a week is a good coping mechanism? No, I don’t. I don’t deny that Ron has gone through a rough patch, but he needs help. Harry shouldn’t be dragged out late at night to pull him out of bars on a regular basis.”

“Harry can damn well back him up, Merlin knows we did it often enough for him,” Hermione fired back.

“Don’t blame Harry,” Ginny spoke up angrily.

“Of course, we wouldn’t want to blame Harry. He’s perfect,” Hermione said mockingly. “Harry breaks all kinds of rules and he never gets in trouble. He went out drinking, caused a bar fight and the Minister of Magic had to come out to check on him. He didn’t get into trouble.”

“He didn’t cause a bar brawl, those men attacked him,” Ginny defended him. “You know that. My brothers told us that those men followed him into the bathroom to cause trouble.”

“Nothing’s ever Harry’s fault, is it? I get tortured and ‘oops, he’s sorry.’ He breaks the rules and someone looks the other way!”

“Miss Granger!” Professor McGonagall’s voice cut through Hermione’s rising hysteria.

Hermione dropped her head and Ginny could see the tears on her face. Ginny was torn between anger at both Ron and Hermione and pity for them.

“What is being done now?” Professor McGonagall asked Mr Weasley.

“I’ve gone to the Ministry, paid his fees, and brought him home to the Burrow at least for the weekend. He’s angry and hurt and I think we need to keep a closer eye on him. Luckily for him, Tom declined to press charges, but he has asked that Ron not patronize his pub for a period of a month. I’ve spoken to Kingsley and Gawain Robards, they don’t want to punish him, but feel he needs a bit of a wakeup call. He will have to pay a fine and he will have to perform some community service hours.”

Hermione stood. “Harry should have to perform some community service hours!”

Ginny watched in shock as her normally unflappable friend stormed out of the headmistresses’ office.

“She’s angry and upset,” Mr Weasley said sadly. “I can’t really blame her. It’s frustrating to love someone so much and not be able to help them. I’ve been going through something similar with your mother. Unfortunately I don’t think Ron is ready to admit he has a problem.”

“Can I do anything?” Ginny asked quietly.

Mr Weasley smiled as he hugged his daughter. “Not right now, my sweet girl. Ron needs to work out his problems for himself and Hermione needs to work through her feelings as well. Just be there for them.”

“I will,” Ginny promised her father.

After hugging her father again, Ginny watched him leave feeling not a little lost. She jumped when Professor McGonagall addressed her. “Miss Weasley, I’m afraid you are in for a bit of a rough patch. I have no doubt the newspapers will be delighted to report your brother’s issues. I don’t know if I can assist you in any way, but if I can please let me know.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny said softly.

She left the Headmistress’ office, stroking the top of the gargoyle’s head as she walked past. Whilst Harry had spoken to her about her brothers’ problems, she honestly hadn’t thought it would be so bad. Hermione’s reaction had been a bit of shock as well. Hermione was usually so calm and rational; to have her reacting so emotionally was distressing.

Reaching the main stairs, Ginny paused for a minute trying to figure out what she should do. All she wanted right now was to see Harry and make sure he was handling things well.

Making up her mind, she hurried up to the common room. Thankfully Demelza was sitting in front of the fire.

“Demelza, can you do me a favour?” Ginny asked. “I’ve had a bit of a family emergency. Do you think you can run practice for me today?”

“Of course,” Demelza replied eager for increased responsibility. “What’s going on?”

Ginny briefly explained what had happened. Demelza was shocked. “Blimey, Ginny that’s horrid. Can I do anything?”

“Run practice for me,” Ginny said with a slight smile.

After reviewing her plan for the practice with Demelza, Ginny hurried to the abandoned room that was so special to her and Harry. Taking a deep breath she called softly, “Kreacher!”

The elf arrived quickly and at Ginny’s request transported her to Grimmauld Place. “Master is playing with Baby Teddy in the drawing room,” Kreacher announced grandly.

Biting back a giggle at the old elf’s formality, Ginny hurried up to the drawing room. The door of the room was open and Ginny could see most of the furniture had been pushed back towards the walls. A large blanket was spread out on the floor and Harry was laying down on the blanket with Teddy. The pair were surrounded by soft blocks, stuffed animals, and a baby bag. Harry was currently entertaining the
laughing baby with a stuffed black dog that Harry had charmed to run around the boy.

“Hi!” Ginny said as she stepped into the room.

Harry’s eyes widened and he dropped the charm on the dog. “Ginny! I am so glad to see you.”

Jumping up he pulled her into a tight embrace. Ginny held him tightly until he broke the hug. He cupped her cheek with one hand and leaning down kissed her gently.

A noise behind them broke them apart and they turned to see Teddy gnawing on the stuffed dog. Smiling, Harry pulled Ginny over to the blanket and she sat down next to him.

“Hi, Teddy!”

Teddy gave her a one toothed, rather drooling grin. She started laughing and leaning over planted a kiss on the baby’s head. “You are so sweet, Teddy!”

Harry was staring at Ginny. He was so glad to see her, he was having trouble believing she was really there. “Ginny, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but should you be here?”

“Yes,” Ginny said a touch defiantly. “Dad came to visit us this morning.”

She briefly outlined what had happened during the meeting. His face fell at the reaction of his best friend. “Damn, I kind of wish I’d just gone to get him last night.”

“You did the right thing,” Ginny reassured him. “I love my brother and I want him to get help, not keep drinking himself stupid.”

“Thank you,” Harry said grateful for her support. “How did you get permission to leave?”

Ginny giggled. “I didn’t exactly. Demelza is running practice and Hermione is off freaking out somewhere
so I decided my place was with you.”

Harry smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”

The couple spent the day playing with Teddy. He was sitting up on his own now and laughing quite a bit. Harry loved the unexpected time with his two favourite people. It was the perfect antidote to his awful early morning. He knew he’d have to deal with Ron at some point in time, but he was grateful for the reprieve.

They were in the dining room eating lunch when footsteps sounded on the stairs. Harry stood and walked to the door, his wand was held loosely by his side. Ginny hurried to Teddy’s side. She didn’t really think Ron would do anything, but you never really know.

She was relieved when George was the one who came ambling down the hall. Harry quickly put his wand away.

After greeting Harry, George raised his eyebrow to see his sister. “That can’t be my sister. She’s Head Girl and she wouldn’t be out of school without permission.”

Rolling her eyes, Ginny hugged her brother and impulsively kissed him on the cheek. “As you’ve always said, it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

“True, very true,” George said.

“How’s he doing?” Ginny asked as the three of them moved back into the dining room. Kreacher had
already popped into the room and added a plate for George.

They sat down and George helped himself to a thick piece of steak and kidney pie before answering the question. “Mum and Dad went down this morning and paid his fine — it was almost 500 Galleons.”

Harry winced. “I am so sorry. I didn’t realize it would be so expensive — if your dad needs any help with it

“Harry! No, first it’s not your fault and secondly my dad said he had the money. He’s going to have Ron pay him back from his wages,” George said. He could read the hurt and confusion on Harry’s face. “He needs to face up to the consequences of his actions. You’ve spoken to him, I talked to him, and Bill talked to him, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.”

“Did I overreact?” Harry asked.

“No, sweetie,” Ginny tried to reassure him, but Harry wasn’t exactly listening.

“All he was doing was going out drinking after work with his friends,” Harry said morosely. “Maybe I was being a stick in the mud.”

“No, you weren’t,” George said. “No there’s nothing wrong with going out for a drink with friends, but when you’re going out every night and drinking yourself into oblivion. We weren’t in a good place and Ron isn’t making a move to get out of there. It’s not normal to run up over 100 Galleons in bar bills and not even think about paying back the person who paid the bills for you. It’s not normal to have to be pulled out of the bar by your friends at least once a week. His drinking wasn’t just affecting him, it was affecting all of us. Do you have any idea how many days we opened our shop late? We’re just lucky that most of our customers are fairly laid back and aren’t too picky about that sort of thing.

“Ron’s out of control right now. He’s always late to work and he’s taking long lunches. Some afternoon he doesn’t even come back. He’s smoking in the house and at work even though both of us have asked him not to. There is nothing you can do, Harry. Ron needs to realize that he needs help.”

Harry nodded distractedly as he fed Teddy his last few bites of carrots and started feeding him some applesauce. Teddy seemed oblivious to the turmoil around him and grinned up at his godfather as he spooned more food into his mouth. Harry couldn’t help but smile at the innocent joy of a baby.

“I know you’re right,” Harry said after a few minutes, “but I just hate that it’s come to this. I’ve just kept thinking that surely Ron would come to his senses or realize what was happening. I hate that this happened.”

“Me too,” George replied. “But as it has I don’t know what is going to happen. I think dad told you that Ron will be living at the Burrow for a while and I’m pretty sure they are going to keep him on a short leash.” He looked over at his younger friend, his demeanour usually serious. “Harry, this is not your fault! You tried to help him, but until he’s ready to accept help we can’t do anything.”

Harry nodded. “I know. I just feel awful. I feel like I deserted him or something.”

“You didn’t,” Ginny said firmly. “This is his issue to work through, not yours.”

Harry smiled at his fiancée, he was certainly glad he had her in his life.

In the late afternoon, Ginny kissed both Harry and Teddy goodbye and had Kreacher take her back to Hogwarts. She arrived back at the common room and found Demelza working on her Potions’ essay.

“Hi, how was practice?” Ginny asked as she sat down across from Demelza.

“Great! I think everyone is playing well,” Demelza replied. Looking around the common room she
lowered her voice and added, “Hermione’s been storming around like a thundercloud — I think she reduced two first years to tears, but she didn’t mention you. I told the team you had a family emergency. I think most of them saw the headlines this morning.”

“It made it to the papers already?” Ginny asked in amazement.

Demelza nodded. “It must have happened close to their deadline because they had a picture of Ron fighting in the Leaky and his mug shot, but not a lot of details. They made a lot of Ron Weasley, veteran of the Battle of Hogwarts and best mate of Harry Potter starting a bar brawl. They had a few quotes from people about Ron’s drinking and they speculated about why Harry wasn’t there. Of course they speculated that either Ron disapproved of you and Harry dating and they fought or the popular Harry and Hermione were carrying on an affair and Ron found out.”

Ginny cursed some of the phrases she’d heard eavesdropping on her oldest brothers. “Why must they always do that?”

Demelza shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s completely ridiculous, but the rumours always seem to make their way around. No one who knows you believes it, but there are always people who want to believe the worst of you.”

Ginny groaned. “Great, this will make Hermione even more upset. She gets so angry because she’s never dated Harry and people are always making her out to be either his cast off or a home wrecker.”

Demelza giggled. “I’m sorry, I can’t really see her in either of those ways.”

“I know,” Ginny said. “She’s been such a good friend to Harry and the papers are always happy to think the worst.”

Sobering up Demelza asked, “How’s your brother?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny sighed. “George came by and picked up some of Ron’s belongings and it honestly didn’t sound good.”

Harry was surprised at how quickly the week had passed. He hadn’t seen or spoken to Ron all week, but he really felt that was for the best. He’d had short notes from both Mr and Mrs Weasley letting him know how Ron was doing and reiterating that this was not his fault. While Harry still didn’t feel entirely comfortable with his role in Ron’s troubles, he did feel better than he had over the weekend.

Friday was truly his favourite day of the week — he didn’t know how he would make it through the week if he couldn’t see Ginny. After his morning classes, he hurriedly showered and changed before heading over to Hogwarts. He couldn’t wait to see Ginny.

Grabbing his bag from his room, he headed for the Floo. Professor McGonagall wasn’t in her office, Harry was a bit disappointed — he rather enjoyed talking to Professor McGonagall. She wasn’t nearly as scary as he’d thought her to be when he first started at Hogwarts. It has taken him almost eight years, but he found the tender heart she hid under the gruff exterior.

Glancing at his watch, he realized he was a bit early. He’d probably pushed it a bit on the time. None of his other classmates were here yet and Professor McGonagall was probably still at lunch. He grimaced slightly, he hoped he wouldn’t get into trouble for getting there early.

As he reached the Entrance Hall, he ran into Professor McGonagall. She nodded at him. “Good afternoon, Mr Potter.”

“Good afternoon, Professor.”

As slight smile ghosted around her face. “Perhaps you should check your watch, Mr Potter. It seems to be running a bit fast.”

He blushed. “Yes, Professor. I will.”

She nodded. “See that you do. However, you are here so you might wish to join your fiancée for lunch.”

“Thank you, Professor,” he said gratefully. “Sorry, I just…it’s been a long week.”

“I imagine it has,” she replied softly. “I would not expect this to be a weekly occurrence, but if you wished to stay this evening and spend some time with Miss Weasley, I would have no objections. It is times like these we need our friends.”

He stammered out his thanks and watched in astonishment as she headed up to her office. While he would have expected such actions from Professor Dumbledore, he hadn’t expected it from Professor McGonagall.

As he turned to head into the Great Hall, he saw Ginny heading towards him. He had to smile. She was so beautiful. Today she was hearing her long hair pulled back, but loose falling down her back. She was wearing the earrings he’d given her for her birthday.

Ignoring the talking and laughing students around her, Hermione pulled out Ron’s letter to re-read it. She still couldn’t believe everything that had happened. It had been a very long week. As much as she’d tried to avoid it, she’d still heard the whispers and rumours.

It was so frustrating! She had never dated Harry, but she was always cast in the role of his ex-girlfriend. Why couldn’t people accept that she and Ron were in a serious relationship? Honestly, Ron was the only boy for whom she’d ever had strong feelings. Sure she’d had been flattered when Viktor had shown an interest in her, but she’d never developed feelings for him as she had for Ron.

Poor Ron, she could tell how much he was hurting from his letter. He was upset and hurt by Harry’s actions. Not only that, but his parents and brothers weren’t being very understanding.

For the first time, she felt so isolated from the other students. She was the oldest student at school and she really felt so separated from them. Not matter how well she thought she’d prepared, she really underestimated how much she relied on Ron and Harry. Ginny was a good friend, but they didn’t have the same relationship as she had with the boys.

The boys, it all came back to ‘how could he’? How could Harry have forgotten everything they’d gone through and all they’d done together? He was just leaving Ron behind when Ron needed him the most.
Putting her letter away, she finished her lunch in silence. She didn’t feel like talking to any of the other students. She glared at Ginny who was talking to Demelza. Ron’s sister wasn’t being very supportive of her brother. Wanting a few minutes to herself before class, she headed out to the Entrance Hall.

“What did you do?!”

Harry had been so enthralled in watching Ginny, he hadn’t even noticed Hermione approaching.

He automatically took a step back from her, she was furious. Her hair was flying wildly around her and she didn’t look as though she’d been sleeping well.

“Hermione, I’m sorry-”

“You’re sorry? He has been your best mate since first year and you couldn’t help him out.”


“We have risked our lives for you over and over. We’ve stood by you when everyone else thought you were an attention seeking lunatic. We’ve defended you — even when you’ve done incredibly stupid things like when you almost killed Malfoy. I sent my parents away with no memories of me so I could be there for you!” Hermione was enraged and Harry was at a loss as to what he should do. Her voice was becoming more and more shrill.

“Hermione,” Ginny said tentatively.

“Shut up, Ginny!” Hermione yelled. “This isn’t about you.”

Turning back to Harry she said, “Ron and I gave everything to you! We didn’t even consider dating until everything was over because we needed to be there for you. We almost gave up on you when you caused us to get captured, but we didn’t. It was your fault I was tortured! Yours, not anyone else’s. You wouldn’t listen — Ron told you not to use You-Know-Who’s name, but no you’re Harry Potter, the normal rules don’t apply to you!”

Harry stared at Hermione feeling totally lost. By this time a crowd had gathered around them and he could see Ginny standing at the front of the crowd with tears streaming down her face. He could tell she was feeling as lost as he was.

“I appreciate everything you’ve done,” Harry began, but Hermione wasn’t in a listening mood.

“Of course you do!” she raged. “We’ve done everything for you and when it comes time for you to do one little thing for Ron, you won’t help him.”

“I’ve tried,” Harry yelled back, feeling rather ill-used. “I’ve paid his bar bills, I’ve picked him up over and over and he doesn’t learn.”

“Please,” Hermione replied drawing out the word. “You can afford a few bar bills and you’ve woken us up with your ‘nightmares’ plenty of times. You owe us! After everything we’ve done for you and you can’t be bothered to help your best mate because you are too busy sleeping with his sister.”


“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said not sounded at all sorry. “Was that supposed to be a secret? Poor Ron is probably the only one who doesn’t know. He believes you are too honourable to take advantage of his sister like that. Even after all of that you won’t help him! How long did you even take to think about it?”

“Hermione, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry how everything has happened,” Harry replied anxiously.

“Oh, I’m sure you are! You’re always sorry about everything,” Hermione raged. “How could you do this to him? You should have stood by him and helped him! We helped you after You-Know-Who’s rebirth! We stood by you when everyone else thought you were crazy! We stood by you when you led us into a trap and almost got us all killed. We stood by you when Sirius died! Ron’s brother is dead and you weren’t there for him!”

Harry watched helplessly as she paced angrily in front of him. Guilt washed over him as he listened to her. Was there something else he could have done for Ron?

Hermione stopped pacing in front of him and glared at him. “I am so angry at you!”

He didn’t even move when she pulled back her fist and punched him in the face. He staggered back a step. When he didn’t seem overly affected by her physical attack, she pulled her wand and cast several spells wordlessly in quick succession.

He felt several curses hit him before a flock of angry birds dove at him, pecking and scratching him. He was so stunned by her anger he didn’t even try to defend himself. He heard screaming in the background, but he didn’t register who was screaming.

“Miss Granger!” Harry dimly heard Professor McGonagall’s angry voice in the background. Hermione was beyond words, she simply screamed as she rained her rage and hurt down on Harry.

He staggered back under the onslaught of the attacking birds and occasional curse that was hurled his way. Luckily for him, Hermione was so outraged by this point she wasn’t very accurate, but enough made it through that he’d fallen back against the wall. Suddenly the birds and noise disappeared. Harry slid down the wall feeling rather dazed.

“Harry,” Ginny rushed up to him with tears streaming down her face. She knelt down next to him.
“Sweetie, are you okay? Can you stand?”

Harry looked at her in confusion. Could he stand? He felt thick and heavy, the wounds from the birds were painful. Ginny tried to pull him to his feet, but she was unable to do so. Seamus suddenly appeared at her side. “Merlin, Ginny, what the hell happened?”

Seamus gently helped his friend to his feet and draped Harry’s arm around his shoulder. Ginny was at his other side with his arm around her. Together the pair helped him up to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey was waiting for them.

“Over here,” she gestured to them.

A private bed had been set up, it was surrounded by curtained, privacy walls. Seamus and Ginny laid him down carefully and stepped back as Madam Pomfrey got to work. The older witch quickly and efficiently stripped Harry of his Hogwarts robes, shirt and trousers leaving him with a bit of modesty preserved. Ginny bit back a gasp at the number of wounds on his head, neck, and chest. He also had several cuts, some of which looked rather deep. Madam Pomfrey was bustling around casting spells and summoning potions.

Ginny stood trembling slightly as she watched the medi-witch work over her fiancé. She still couldn’t take in everything that had happened. Had Hermione really attacked Harry? She watched and waited with Seamus. After several long minutes, Professor McGonagall, Mr Robards, Mr Dawlish, and Kingsley Shacklebolt strode into the room.

“What the hell is going on?” Kingsley asked.

Professor McGonagall looked over at Ginny who looked between the Minister and Harry blankly before answering. “I don’t really know. Hermione’s been upset all week about what happened to Ron. She’s been angry and most people have been staying away from her. She doesn’t even want to talk to me. I never even thought that she’d been angry at Harry. When she saw him today, she just…she just attacked him. I’ve never, ever seen her like that before. I’ve seen her angry and I know she attacked my brother with those birds before, but she didn’t put him in the hospital.”

“Miss Granger is with Madam Florence right now,” Professor McGonagall explained. “She’s been given a Calming Draught.”

“I trust she’s been disarmed,” Robards said.

Professor McGonagall nodded. “Professors Clarke and Flitwick are with her as well. I believe she’s overwrought by what has been happening with Ron Weasley. When Arthur Weasley was here over the weekend, Miss Granger became overwrought, but I didn’t think she would become violent. I advised that she speak to Madam Florence, but I didn’t impose any punishment as I believed she was simply upset.”

“She didn’t threaten Mr Potter at all?” Robards asked

Ginny shook her head. “No, but she hasn’t really said much since my dad came to visit. She threw herself into her studies and pretty much made herself unapproachable.”

Looking over at Professor McGonagall, Kingsley asked, “Do you know if she made use of Madam Florence’s therapy?”

Raising an eyebrow at the minister, she replied, “I am not certain, but I’m sure you know such things are confidential.”

“What she discusses with a therapist is confidential,” Kingsley countered. “Whether or not she’s been attending therapy session is not confidential in this setting.”

“That is accurate,” a new voice spoke up.

Professor McGonagall spoke up, “Gentlemen, this is Madam Emma Florence. Emma, I’m not sure if you’ve met Minister Shacklebolt, Gawain Robards, and John Dawlish.” Gesturing towards Seamus, she included him in the introduction as well.

Once all of the introductions were complete, Kingsley said, “Madam Florence, did you have any idea that this might happen?”

The woman sighed. “Not this in particular, but with all that these students have gone through over the past few years it is not completely unexpected. Miss Granger has been coping well, maybe a bit too well.”

Ginny spoke up, “Do you think that when Ron was arrested, it was too much for her?”

“It might be,” Madam Florence replied. “I’m not betraying any confidences, I haven’t spoken about this with Miss Granger, but I do know that she has been under an incredible amount of stress. Her experiences over the past few years have been very different from most of the students and I believe she feels a bit isolated from a majority of the students. I think she underestimated just how different it would be for her and I believe she is concerned about her relationships with her parents and of course her boyfriend.”

“Has she expressed anger towards Mr Potter in the past?” Kingsley asked Ginny.

Ginny shook her head. “No, Hermione and Harry have always been good friends.”

“Witnesses reported that she was yelling that he owed her and Mr Weasley for everything they’d done for him,” Mr Robards said.

“Miss Granger did not agree with Harry and Arthur allowing Ron to be arrested,” Professor McGonagall said. “If she has been stewing about this all week, perhaps she just unleashed all of her anger and hurt feeling upon Harry. I can’t imagine that she meant to hurt him.”

“Yet she did,” Kingsley sighed. “Damn this is a mess. I hate that so many of those affected by this damn war are just kids.” Looking over at Professor McGonagall he said, “I don’t want you to take this as interfering, but a suggestion. Why don’t you send Miss Granger to the Burrow for a week and allow her to spend time with Mr Weasley? It might allay some of her fears.”

“I would be amenable to visiting her during the week. I believe therapy might do both of them some good,” Madam Florence said. She looked over at Ginny. “Do you think your parents would mind?”

Ginny shook her head. “No, I know my dad is really worried about Ron and he would do whatever he could to help both of them.”

Madam Pomfrey emerged from the curtained off area. She didn’t seem surprised to see so many people waiting. “Mr Potter will be fine. Most of the injuries were from the conjured birds, some of them were rather deep. I’ve closed his injuries, given him some blood replenishing potion, a mild pain potion, and a Calming Draught.” Her face softened. “I believe he was rather shocked to be attacked in such a way by Miss Granger.” Turning to Ginny, she said, “If you wish to go in, you may, but please keep him calm.”

Ginny nodded and slipped past the curtains. Harry was lying with his eyes closed and his glasses were on the bedside table. His bare chest was covered with healing wounds. Ginny felt a surge of anger at both her brother and Hermione, but pushed away her anger for now. She didn’t want to upset Harry, she could only imagine how he must be feeling. He always depended on Hermione and for her to turn on him like that must have been devastating. Ginny was certain that Harry could have defended himself, but he was either so shocked at Hermione’s attack or more worrisome he felt he deserved Hermione’s attack.

Sitting on the chair next to Harry’s bed, Ginny reached out for his hand. He opened his eyes at her touch. “It’s just me, sweetie. Go back to sleep.”

Hermione looked at Professor McGonagall with tears in her eyes. “Professor, I am so sorry. I…I don’t know what happened to me. I was just so upset and angry and…is Harry okay?”

“Harry will be fine,” Professor McGonagall reassured the girl. “Hermione, I am very concerned about you and I don’t wish to simply punish you. I believe it would do you some good to spend the next week at the Burrow with Mr Weasley. Actually, I believe it would do both of you some good to spend some time together. Madam Florence has already spoken to Arthur and she will be coming out to speak to both you and Ron.”

“I can’t miss a whole week’s worth of classes,” Hermione said scandalized.

“Miss Granger, this is not optional,” Professor McGonagall said firmly. “I will ensure that you receive notes and assignments from all of your classes. I believe that right now, your emotional and mental health are more important than your educational needs.”

Hermione dropped her head. “I can’t believe I lost it like that. Harry must be so upset with me. Do you think I can see him before I go?”

“Do you promise not to attack him in any way?”
Hermione nodded earnestly. Professor McGonagall sighed. “I will ask him, but I can’t promise anything.”

Almost an hour later, Hermione had her bags packed. It had been awful walking into the common room and having everyone glare at her. Luckily Ginny hadn’t been in either the common room or their dorm. Hermione was dreading her next conversation with Ginny, she didn’t imagine it would be at all pleasant.
After letting Madam Pomfrey know she was there, Hermione set down her bags and headed to the curtained off area. She was interrupted before she reached Harry.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Hermione jumped at both the hostility in Ginny’s voice as well as her presence. “I need to talk to Harry.”


Hermione glared at the younger girl. “Yes, I need to talk to Harry.”

“No, you don’t,” Ginny replied firmly. When it looked as though Hermione was going to say something, Ginny stopped her. “No, Hermione. You had your chance and I’ll not let you upset him again. He owes you? What the hell does he owe you?”

Ginny glared at her friend. “He gave you every opportunity to back out and you didn’t take it. You laughed at him actually when he told you not to come with him. Not to mention the fact that he has apologized over and over. He’s apologized to Ron for his injuries during your first year. He apologized to you for everything you’ve endured. Did you ever apologize to him for not listening to him? Did you apologize for not believing him about Draco? No, you were too busy crowing about how you were right about the Half-Blood Prince. Do you really think he needed an ‘I told you so’ after losing his mentor? Don’t think I don’t know that you threw an ‘I told you so’ at him after the Department of Mysteries as well.”

“I’m not going to talk to you about this,” Hermione said stiffly.

“No, you want to talk to Harry because you think he’ll absolve you of your guilt,” Ginny returned angrily.

“Ron and I have been his friend for eight years,” Hermione said. “I think that demands a bit of loyalty from him.”

“He died for you,” Ginny growled. “He walked out into that forest by himself to die so that all of us could live. He doesn’t owe you anything!”

“You’re twisting everything I say,” Hermione said angrily. “I know what he’s done — probably much better than you. I’m not talking about that — I’m talking about friendship. We’ve offered him friendship and given so much to our friendship that we didn’t even start dating until May.”

“No,” Ginny interrupted. “You don’t get to blame him because you two are idiots.”

“Ron has been his best mate for eight years,” Hermione continued ignoring Ginny’s interruption. “Harry should have tried harder to help him. We were there for him.”

“When?” Ginny demanded. “When he was sent to his horrible relatives and you two didn’t write to him? Did you even try to understand what he was going through?”

“Well…we were there,” Hermione repeated.

“Yes, you were there telling him that he was imagining things about Draco,” Ginny said mockingly. “I’m not letting you talk to him and get him all upset. He tried to help Ron, but Ron wasn’t willing to be helped. Not to mention the 100 Galleon bar bill that Harry paid. Harry also paid Gringotts’ entire fine — it was supposed to be the three of you not just him.”

“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said in surprise. She sighed. “I don’t want to argue. I just want to
apologize to Harry. I didn’t mean to hurt him and I feel badly that I injured him. I was angry that he didn’t do more to help Ron and I took out all of my frustration on him.”

“I will relay your apology,” Ginny said.

Hermione made to push past Ginny when Seamus emerged from the curtained area. “Hermione, I believe Ginny made her wishes clear.”

“I have been Harry’s best friend for years,” Hermione said in frustration.

“I am his fiancée,” Ginny replied. “I don’t want you to see him right now. When you get back you can talk.”

Hermione weighed her options. She could probably get past Ginny and Seamus, but did she really want to cause more hard feelings. Surely if Harry was awake, he’d have said something by now. Hermione gave in with ill grace. “Fine, I will talk to him when I get back.”

Seamus stayed to make sure she left while Ginny headed back into Harry’s bedside.

Early the next morning, Harry woke and looked around in confusion. He easily recognized the Hogwarts’s infirmary and after a moment the memory of the day before flooded back. He closed his eyes, he didn’t really want to recall what had happened. He’d seen Hermione in a temper, but it had never been directed at him before.

Should he have given Ron another chance? Could he have done something differently? He wished more than anything that he hadn’t just gone and picked Ron up last Saturday.

“Good morning.” Harry started as Ginny entered his curtained off area and leaned over and kissed him. She sat down next to him. “You’re second guessing yourself, aren’t you?”

He shrugged. “I hate that they are both mad at me. I could have picked Ron up again. I’ve done it so many times before, why couldn’t I have done it again?”

“Because you were being a good friend and thinking of what was best for Ron in the long run and not what would make him happy right at that moment,” Ginny said patiently.

He sighed. “I was okay with everything until Hermione started in on me. She’s never been that angry at me before — I didn’t expect that.”

“She’s sorry,” Ginny offered. “She stopped by last night on her way to the Burrow, but I didn’t want her to wake you.”

“That was a good call,” Harry said. “I wasn’t really up for another confrontation.”

Reaching out he laced his fingers through her’s and brought her hand up to kiss the back of her hand. “Thank you for looking out for me.”

Her smile lit up her face. “Of course, love. That’s my job.”

“So what happened yesterday? I know Hermione’s going to the Burrow, but did I hear Kingsley’s voice?”

Ginny told him everything he’d missed from the previous evening. “Don’t worry, Professor Carter was very understanding. Susan took notes for both of us. Seamus missed most of the class as well. He helped me bring you up here and he stayed with me.”

“He’s a good friend,” Harry said with a smile.

Madam Pomfrey bustled in and smiled at the young couple. “Good morning. How are you feeling, Mr Potter?”

“Good,” Harry replied.

“Very good,” she replied absently as she ran her wand over him. “You are recovering quite nicely. I’d like to give you one more round of potions, but after breakfast you are released. Please let your Matron know if you have any pain during the week. I’d like to see you briefly next week when you return for your class.”

“Thank you,” Harry said sincerely. His eyes widened. “Ginny, you have a match today.”

She nodded. “You are coming. I spoke to Professor McGonagall and she said that you can stay until after the match.”

Harry spent a pleasant morning with Ginny and her teammates before watching the match with Dean and Luna.

“You miss it, don’t you?” Dean asked as he watched Harry watching the Quidditch team.

“I do,” Harry replied. “I’ve played a few pickup games with some of the Aurors, but it’s not the same.”

“Did you think about going for a professional team? I’m sure you’d have been signed right away,” Dean said.

“I thought about it, but I didn’t feel right playing Quidditch when there’s so much work to be done at the Ministry,” Harry explained. He shrugged. “I’m sure Ginny will make it onto the Harpies next year and I couldn’t imagine competing against her. I’ll just live vicariously through her.”

Watching Ginny lead her team to victory was the perfect ending to the week for Harry. He wished he could have stayed a bit longer, but he was grateful for the time he’d been able to spend with her.

Hermione made her way down to the kitchen. Mrs Weasley was sitting at the table reading the paper.

“Good morning, dear,” Mrs Weasley smiled. She bustled over to the stove and prepared Hermione a plate of bacon and eggs. Hermione helped herself to some toast from the rack and a cup of tea.

“Thank you, Mrs Weasley.” Hermione smiled as she dug into the food. It was her third morning at the Burrow and she was glad she was here.

“What are you plans for today?” the older witch asked.

“Ron and I are going Exeter to do some sightseeing,” Hermione said. “They have a walking tour of the cathedral that I want to do. I’ve never really seen much of this part of the country and I thought it would be a nice relaxing day.”

Mrs Weasley nodded. “It sounds lovely.”

Clomping footsteps were heard making their way downstairs. Mrs Weasley headed to the stove and prepared a large plate for her youngest son. She gave the couple a bit of privacy as they greeted each other before bringing Ron over his plate.

“Thanks, Mum.”

As the young couple ate, Mrs Weasley watched them covertly over her paper. She felt so badly for everything that was happening to them and felt a bit of guilt as well. She thought that if she had handled her grief better than perhaps she would have been there to help her children. In theory she agreed with her husband’s decision to make Ron face the consequences of his actions, but she was rather glad that she had not had to make that decision because she didn’t think she would have been able to be so firm.

George had agreed to give Ron the week off, but Ron still had to perform his community service hours. An agreement had been reached with the Ministry and Ron was to perform eight to ten hours a week for fifteen weeks. Ron was going to be working with the Diagon Alley rebuilding committee and one of the refugee camps that had sprung up in the wake of the war. Several of the camps had closed, but there were still some camps and they were full of people in need.

Mrs Weasley thought Ron was looking a bit better since Hermione arrived. He looked more rested, he didn’t have dark circles under his eyes, and even his skin was clearer. She knew that he was thrilled to have the time to spend with Hermione, even it if was something he would never admit out loud. As she watched them, she was ashamed to admit there was a world of difference between the couple in front of her and her daughter and Harry.

It was hard to admit that she had been so wrong. From the first time she’d met Hermione, it seemed that the girl was perfect for Ron. She was smart and clever and she was very organized. Mrs Weasley had always thought it was only a matter of time for the pair to get together, but watching them now she realized that while they were obviously attracted to each other and happy together, they still weren’t comfortable with each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. She was certain it would come, but Ron was still rather uncomfortable with expressing his emotions and she suspected that Hermione was waiting for Ron to take the lead.

Several hours later, Ron was watching Hermione with a smile on his face. She was so enthralled with the cathedral and it’s history. They’d taken a walking tour around the cathedral and also walked along the city walls. Hermione was so interested in so many things. It amazed him how she was so smart and she had chosen to be with him.

When he’d first heard about her attack on Harry, he didn’t really know what to think. He was a bit upset at Harry himself, but to have Hermione stand up for him like that was amazing. It was wonderful to have Hermione on his side. She didn’t think he had huge problems like his parents and brothers. He wasn’t smoking around her because he didn’t think she would appreciate it.

As he watched, Hermione pulled her cloak more snuggly around her. It was a rather cold, crisp day with a bit of wind, but it was a clear day without clouds. There weren’t a lot of people around which suited Ron just fine. He still wasn’t overly comfortable around Muggles and he was happy to let Hermione handle the money.

Hand-in-hand they walked through the town. He squeezed her hand and she looked up at him. He smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Her face glowed at his statement. “I’m glad I’m here, too. I was a bit upset when Professor McGonagall told me I had to take the week off, but I’m glad to have the time to spend with you.”

He was sure he had a goofy grin on his face, but he couldn’t help it. “It helps, having you here.” As they walked along, he said, “I’ve been thinking about everything and I probably have been drinking too much. It…it was fun at first. George and I would go out after work and go drinking with some of the shop clerks from the other shops on the Alley.”

He fell silent for a moment. “It’s so hard working with George. I mean I love the work, it’s fun, but it just reminds me every single day that F-fred is not here. I think I need to do well, but it is hard to fill his shoes. I’m not as creative as he was and I know sometimes George gets a little frustrated with me. He’s not used to having to explain things — he and Fred just knew what the other was thinking — so to slow down and have to tell me what to do is frustrating to him.”

“But you are smart,” Hermione defended him. “George can’t expect you to just take Fred’s place.”

“No, that’s not it,” Ron protested. He sighed. “I’m probably not explaining things right. George knows there is no way I could ever take Fred’s place. He doesn’t expect me to, but if I’m to work with him I need to be able to contribute and sometimes I just feel like I can’t even do that. I didn’t do well in potions and I am not good at coming up with new ideas. I need to find out how I can contribute to the shop.”

“You will be able to,” Hermione said stoutly.

“I guess,” Ron replied. “I-I’m just afraid that everyone expects so much of me and I don’t want to let anyone down. I know I’ve been acting like a bit of a prat, but Harry — he just has everything together. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to have so much pressure to make your family proud.”

Hermione nodding understandingly and it made him feel better. He continued, “We started just going out at night and drinking and when I was drinking I…I just felt better and didn’t feel the pressure. I realize that I shouldn’t be drinking so much, but…I don’t like Harry telling what I should be doing. He doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a brother. He doesn’t have to live up to the expectations of his family. It’s not fair — he suddenly seems to have everything figured out and I feel left behind.”

“He shouldn’t be telling you what to do,” Hermione agreed. She smiled up at her boyfriend. “You’ll do this — I know you can.”

Potter Caught Cheating!

Harry Potter was spotted out and about with fellow Auror trainee, Susan Bones, yesterday. The couple
has been spotted in London hot spots since the early summer. While Potter is reportedly engaged to his Hogwarts’ sweetheart, Ginny Weasley, he has not been seen with her in months.

Rumour has reached London of a fight between Potter and his long-time friend, Hermione Granger. Could Miss Granger have been defending Miss Weasley’s honour? The reasons behind a recent rift between Potter and his close friend, Ron Weasley, become much clearer. It has been suggested that Weasley was enraged that his supposed friend would treat his sister so badly.

A juicy new rumour reached this reporter from Hogwarts. It appears that Miss Weasley may have been pregnant with Mr Potter’s child. Could this be the reason for her seclusion? The rumoured fight between Mr Potter and Miss Granger hinted at Mr Potter having taken advantage of Miss Weasley and stealing her innocence. It might be that Miss Granger didn’t want to accuse Mr Potter of fathering Miss Weasley’s child in public.

Our thoughts are with Miss Weasley! We hope that she chooses more wisely in her next relationship.

Ron’s face turned steadily redder as he read the article. He threw the paper down. “Stupid reporters!”

Hermione blushed as she read the article. “I shouldn’t have confronted Harry in front of the Great Hall. So many people must have heard our fight.” She looked over at Mrs Weasley. “I am so sorry. I never meant to infer anything about Ginny.”

“I know, dear,” Mrs Weasley reassured her. “I wish that Ginny had listened to reason. She is too young to be engaged. This is what the third or fourth article about Harry and that girl.”

“Mum, you know it isn’t true,” Ron spoke up. “I might be upset with him, but I know Harry would never cheat on Ginny. He’s crazy about her.”

“That may be, but he’s damaged her reputation beyond repair,” Mrs Weasley protested.

“Not with people who count, Mum,” Ron reassured her.

Madam Florence arrived at the Burrow shortly after lunchtime. After reassuring Mrs Weasley that no one took the Daily Prophet article seriously, she headed for the sitting room to meet with Hermione.

“Good afternoon,” she greeted the younger witch.

“Good afternoon,” Hermione replied as she sat on the sofa facing the older woman.

Smiling gently at the younger witch, Madam Florence said, “I think that both of you have made amazing strides this past week. I’m very proud of you.”

“Thank you,” Hermione said looking pleased.

“I think we need to talk about Harry,” Madam Florence said. “As I’m sure you know, I’ve spoken to Ron quite extensively about his relationship with Harry. I think he can see a bit more clearly how his actions affected Harry.”

Hermione nodded, she and Ron had spoken at length about Ron’s meetings with Madam Florence. “I still think Harry should have had Ron’s back a little better. We’ve had his back for a long time and he didn’t give Ron the same courtesy.”

“So you think he should have allowed Ron to keep going out drinking and getting into fights?”

“No, but he could have given Ron some space. He didn’t need to go to Bill or Mr Weasley,” Hermione protested. “We’ve always honoured his requests in the past. We didn’t tell anyone about Professor Umbridge because he didn’t want us to.”

“Do you think that was the best decision?” Madam Florence probed.

Hermione flushed. “Maybe not, but we did as he asked.”

“So you think he should have done as Ron wanted?”

Hermione looked uncertain. Madam Florence pressed on. “I understand that Harry was getting called to retrieve Ron in the early morning hours once or twice a week for months now. Ron told me that Harry tried to talk to him about his drinking and Ron wouldn’t listen.”

When Hermione still didn’t seem convinced, Madam Florence said, “Hermione, I know you place a lot of importance on schooling. Imagine it was you who was in training for your dream job and at least once a week you were awakened after midnight sometimes closer to two in the morning. Once you were awake, you had to get dressed and go down to the pub to retrieve your friend — convince them to return home with you and put them to bed. Often this would include having to make arrangements in case they vomit during the night and making Hang Over Potion for them. The whole process could take up to two hours before you could return to sleep.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she thought through what Madam Florence was saying. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about what it meant for Harry to help Ron. I would have been upset if that happened every week.”

“Harry tried to talk to Ron first, but Ron just told him he’d never lost a brother. While he may not have lost a brother, but he’s lost many people in his life and I believe he knows quite well what it feels like to lose someone you love.”

Hermione nodded. “That is true.” She dropped her gaze. “I really do owe him an apology. I wish Ginny had just let me talk to him. It wasn’t right of her to keep me from him. I hate that it’s going to be almost two weeks before I can talk to him. Professor McGonagall said I could talk to him, Ginny shouldn’t have kept me from talking to him.”

“Tell me about Ginny,” Madam Florence said. “How do the two of you get along?”

Hermione shrugged. “We get along fine. I’ve stayed in her room during the summer for several years now. We were the only girls in a house of boys. She always wanted advice on Harry and it was nice to have a friend who was a girl.”

“So she looked up to you,” Madam Florence commented.

“Yes, I’m almost two years older than her,” Hermione said. “We come from very different backgrounds. I’m an only child and she’s the youngest of seven. She was very shy and uncertain of herself when we first met. It was the summer after the Chamber of Secrets and Ginny was very scared that I would hate her. I think she was also scared that I liked Harry. Once she realized that I wasn’t interested in Harry, she started turning to me for advice.”

“And now she no longer needs that advice,” Madam Florence pointed out gently.

Hermione flushed and nodded. She started worrying the edge of the pillow next to her. “In some ways she’s surpassed me. She’s much more socially adept than I am. I don’t make friends as easily as she does.”

“But you always had that inside information on Harry.”

“She doesn’t need that now,” Hermione said. “She had the nerve to tell me that Ron and I weren’t there
for Harry as much as I think we were. I know what happened, much better than she does. She was never around us, she doesn’t know all that we went through. What right does she have to tell me I can’t see my own best friend?”

“She’s his fiancée,” Madam Florence reminded her. She watched the young girl sitting across from her as she seemed to struggle with something. “Does it bother you that you aren’t the most important girl in Harry’s life anymore? That he turns to her now and not you?”

Hermione’s flushed face and averted eyes told the therapist all she needed to know. “Hermione it is only natural that Harry would turn to her. She is going to be his wife. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a place for your friendship. I understand he still writes to you and he’s still your friend.”

“He is, but it’s different,” Hermione complained. “That might be why I overreacted a bit. In the past, Harry never would have gone to someone else. He would have solved the problem himself and then Ron never would have gotten into trouble. I expected him to do that this time, but Ginny suggested he talk to Bill so that’s what he did.”

“So he took her advice over yours.”

“He never even told me his concerns,” Hermione replied a touch angrily. “I’m Ron’s girlfriend. If he was worried about Ron he should have talked to me, not her.”

“What would your advice have been? If Harry came to you and told you that he was concerned that Ron was drinking too much, what would you have said?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione admitted uncertainly. She thought about it for a few minutes, honestly she’d thought about it quite a bit over the past few weeks and she hated to admit that she didn’t know the best answer. “I guess Harry was right in looking for help when he couldn’t do anything. I just wish Ron could have avoided being arrested. It doesn’t seem fair that Ron has to deal with that now on top of everything else.”

“That isn’t fair,” Madam Florence agreed, “but as I’m sure you are well aware life often isn’t fair.”

Hermione nodded unhappily. Madam Florence said, “I realize this must be difficult for you, but relationships change as people get older. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your relationship with Ron has changed, right?”

Hermione’s blush was answer enough. Madam Florence smiled. “I’m sure that you have found that when you are with Ron you spend less time with Harry, right? So it only makes sense that Harry would spend less time with you when Ginny is around.”

“I do understand what you’re saying,” Hermione admitted. She sighed. “Harry is okay, right?”

“He is fine,” Madam Florence reassured her. “He spent the night in the hospital wing, but he’s back at work.”

Hermione was reading in the back garden of the Burrow when a shadow fell across her book. Looking up she almost dropped the book. “Harry!”

“Hello, Hermione.”

“Harry, I am so sorry,” Hermione said in a rush. “I was just so upset about everything with Ron and-”

He held up his hands. “I know, Hermione. I understand you being upset, but I don’t understand you attacking me in front of most of the school.”

She flushed. “I hadn’t planned to, but I’d just read a letter from Ron and he was very upset. I couldn’t believe that you and Mr Weasley had just let him be arrested.”

“What was I supposed to do?” Harry demanded. “That was the first weekend I had time with Teddy in several weeks and I didn’t want to drag Ron out of the pub especially if he’d been fighting. I didn’t want to get caught in a bar brawl because he was drunk and in a mood to fight! Do you have any idea how much sleep I’ve lost dragging him out of bars? I’ve gotten really good at brewing Hang Over Potion and I don’t even drink that much. For my efforts, Ron tells me I’m pathetic, I’m a laughing stock, and my favourite because I’ve never lost a brother I can’t tell him what to do. I’m not allowed to say anything, but he can vomit all over my house, smoke after I’ve asked him repeatedly not to, and make fun of me.”

“Smoking? Making fun of you? What are you talking about?” Hermione asked in confusion.

“He’s taken up smoking because the shop girls smoke,” Harry explained. “He’s been making fun of me because I’m in love with Ginny or some such crap — I don’t really know. I’m pathetic and people are laughing at me.”

“I didn’t know anything about that,” Hermione said, her mind racing. Ron had complained about Ginny feeding Harry or something, but she hadn’t really paid that much attention. Ron tended to complain about things just to complain — look how he always complained about Scabbers and Pig.

“Did you mean what you said?” Harry asked. When she didn’t answer right away, he pressed her. “Did you mean it that I owe you? I’ve apologized over and over for Malfoy Manor. I’ve apologized for my attitude my whole fifth year. I don’t know what else I can do.”

Hermione coloured as she recalled the angry words she’d thrown at her best friend. “I am really sorry about that. I know you don’t owe us anything. Ginny yelled at me for saying that. I…I don’t know what I can say except I’m really sorry.”

Harry watched her for a minute assessing her sincerity. “Okay, I accept your apology.” He grinned at her. “Merlin knows I’ve lost my temper enough times.”

Jumping up Hermione threw her arms around Harry. “Thank you. I’ve been so worried all week. I really value our friendship I was really afraid I’d wrecked it.”

“No, you didn’t wreck our friendship,” Harry reassured her. He spent some time with Hermione repairing the cracks that had appeared in their friendship.

“Do you want to come into dinner?” she asked as the sky darkened.

He shook his head. “I don’t get the impression that Ron is ready to talk to me yet and to be honest I’m not sure what I would say to him. I’m glad that we are back on track and I’m sure that Ron and I will eventually as well, but I’m tired of making all of the gestures. He needs to show me that he is ready to be my friend again and he needs to accept that I am in love with his sister. Until he can do that…” Harry shrugged. “I hope he’ll come around. I miss my best mate.”

Back to index

Chapter 20: Chapter 20 Brothers

Author's Notes: Special thanks to StephanieO and seekers_destiny for their great beta work!

Hermione stepped gracefully out of the Floo into Professor McGonagall’s office. Professors Clarke and McGonagall were waiting for her.

“I trust you are feeling better,” Professor McGonagall said as she gestured for Hermione to sit across from her desk. Professor Clarke took the chair next to Hermione’s on the opposite side from the Headmistress.

Blushing, Hermione sat down. “I am feeling much better, thank you.”

“I am glad to hear that,” Professor McGonagall said. Her expression was stern. “Miss Granger, Professor Clarke and I have had several discussions over the past week as to what your punishment should entail. We’ve spoken several times about your appointment as school prefect.”

Hermione’s eyes widen and she gasped. “But…I thought that missing class for a week was my punishment.”

Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “You thought being sent to spend a week with your boyfriend was punishment? No, that was done because we were concerned for your emotional and mental health.”

Falling back in her chair, Hermione blinked back tears, her face red with embarrassment. “I understand. I just…I guess I didn’t really think about it. Please, don’t take away my prefect status.”

Surveying the young woman in front of her, Professor McGonagall said, “Miss Granger, I want you to understand the seriousness of your actions, because I don’t believe you understand the import of your actions. You attacked another student verbally, physically, and magically in front of the entire school and without apparent provocation. Not just any student, you attacked a young man who has literally saved our entire world and way of life. Harry is a hero to the whole wizarding world and the entire school saw you attacking him.”

Holding up her hand to hold off Hermione’s explanation, she said, “I know you were upset and you were angry, however that does not excuse your actions. Especially after I discovered that this was not the first time you have unleashed magic upon a classmate after your feelings were hurt. Do you honestly think a younger student would feel comfortable approaching you with any issues after seeing that display?”

Hermione’s face fell as she considered what Professor McGonagall said. She hoped that the younger years saw her as a role model, not someone to be feared.

Seeing the understanding in Hermione’s face, Professor McGonagall continued, “I am putting you on probation. If at the end of the term, there have been no further incidents and you have completed your detention we will review the situation.

“You are to serve detention with Professor Clarke every Saturday until the end of the term. She will describe what the detention will entail. You are hereby withdrawn from all extracurricular activities until further notice. Miss Granger, I will not lie to you, you have done a lot of damage to your reputation and your friendships. Miss Weasley is most distressed at the turn of events. Initially, she requested that you be moved into a different dorm room, but she has reconsidered and wishes to speak with you before making such a decision.”

“Why does she get to decide?” Hermione asked wounded at the implications. “I’m sorry I attacked Harry, but what is that to do with her?”

Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “You put her fiancé in the hospital wing and you turned your wand on her.”

“I did?” Hermione tried to review what had happened, but honestly she didn’t recall many details of the fight.

“Yes, you did,” Professor McGonagall confirmed. “I am taking all of the student’s concerns about safety seriously. I believe they are owed that after the year they endured. It is not a matter of Miss Weasley being allowed to decide in which dorm you are placed, it is a matter of whether Miss Weasley feels safe sleeping in the same room with you.”

Hermione blushed and dropped her eyes, unable to meet Professor McGonagall’s gaze. She couldn’t ever remember being in a position like this before. Teachers had always liked and approved of her, she hadn’t been reprimanded for her behaviour like this since the Norbert incident in her first year. At least then her actions had been defensible.

“Professor, I am truly sorry for my actions,” Hermione said miserably. “I would never hurt Ginny or attack her.”

The headmistress cast a Patronus and a few moments later, there was a knock at the office door. Ginny opened the door and entered
the office. Hermione imagined she must have been waiting out in the corridor as she arrived so quickly.

Professor McGonagall stood up. “If the two of you wish to speak, I would ask that you speak here.” She gestured to a small sitting area.

Hermione looked over at Ginny once they’d settled into the sitting area. “I am really sorry, Ginny.”

“I understand you were upset about Ron, but why didn’t you talk to me? You yelled at my dad and then threw yourself into your studies.”

“You just abandoned Ron,” Hermione defended herself. “He’s been going through a lot.”

“Gee, he lost a brother, I wonder what that would be like,” Ginny said sarcastically.

Hermione winced at Ginny’s tone. “I know, but…”

“I know how hard it is,” Ginny said coolly. “You don’t need to explain it to me. Ron is being a complete prat about everything. He needed a wake-up call. Harry tried to talk to him, George tried to talk to him, and Bill tried to talk to him. Nothing worked. Do you realize on the night he was arrested, Ron had already started one bar brawl and was on his way to starting another. Is that the behaviour you’re condoning?”

“No, I don’t condone his behaviour, but I don’t think he should have been arrested,” Hermione explained.

“I don’t think Harry should have had to carry around a portion of Tom’s soul for most of his life,” Ginny returned evenly. “There is nothing fair about this situation. It sucks! I spent the last year being tortured by Death Eaters, the three of you had to go on the run, my brother died, and my mother couldn’t deal with everything and had a potions overdose. Instead of leaning on his family, Ron decided the best way to deal was to go out drinking, partying, and pretending that none of this happened.”

Hermione didn’t respond so Ginny continued, “This isn’t about Ron’s behaviour; this is about your behaviour. All of us have had horrid experiences in this war, all of us, but you seem to be keeping score. How many times does Harry have to apologize? You decided that you were going to go with Harry. You insisted upon it. Did it not occur to you that it might be dangerous? Or did you assume Harry was going to be the only one in danger? He’s had nightmares about you being tortured — they’d mostly disappeared until last week. You equated Ron’s selfishly going out drinking and relying on Harry to rescue him with Harry being tormented by Voldemort and accidentally waking you up.”

Tears glittered in Hermione’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you want from me.”

“I want you to understand that friends don’t keep track of past wrongs. You’ve accepted Harry’s apology, but as soon as you get angry you throw Malfoy Manor back in his face. You made sure he understands how much he ‘owes’ you because of your friendship. If he was truly your friend, he wouldn’t owe you anything.”

“I don’t mean it like that,” Hermione defended herself. “It just seemed like Harry was forgetting everything that we’ve gone through together.”

“He remembers,” Ginny said firmly. “He remembers and he loves both of you. Both of you have hurt him so deeply, but he still loves you and wants to be your friends. But knowing what you’ve gone through, why do you trust him so little?”

“I trust Harry!” Hermione was stung by that implication.

“You trust Harry in a crisis, you trust Harry to be brave, you trust Harry with your life, but you also need to trust his decisions. He loves Ron and he didn’t do this because he was angry at Ron or wanted to get back at him. He did it because he wants Ron to get some help. Not once did you ask Harry why he’d done what he did — well I supposed you did screech it at him before you started attacking him. But you didn’t ask him in a way that indicated you would be willing to listen.”

Tears did start falling as Hermione listened to Ginny. Could Ginny be right?

“Hermione, I don’t want to fight. I’m sick of the drama and I’m tired of the sick feeling in my stomach every day. You can stay in our dorm, but please think about what I’ve said.”

Hermione quickly wiped her face. “I will, I promise.”

Ginny surveyed her for a moment before reaching out and pulling Hermione into a hug. Hermione gratefully returned the embrace.

Professor McGonagall smiled at the two girls. “It seems an accord has been reached. Thank you, Miss Weasley. I need to speak to Miss Granger for a few more minutes.”

“Of course, Professor,” Ginny said.

Once Ginny left, Professor Clarke made arrangements to meet with Hermione for her first detention. Hermione left the Headmistress’ office in a pensive mood. She resolved to attempt to repair any relationships she may have damaged with her tirade. She certainly didn’t want that disgraceful fight to be her legacy here at Hogwarts.

Harry grinned over at Seamus as they climbed the steps to enter the Metropolitan Police Crime Academy. The Auror trainees were taking their first Muggle class today — it was ‘Forensic Awareness for First Responders’. Susan and Katie were the most nervous for the class today. As Purebloods, neither of them had much experience in dressing like Muggles.

Michael’s mother had come down to London the previous day and had taken them all shopping. She’d taken the time to show them how to match clothes appropriately and what clothes were not appropriate. Recalling some of the outfits worn by wizards at the World Cup, Harry thought that was probably a good idea.

In the end they had decided on a ‘uniform’ of sorts. The wizards all wore dark trousers with a white shirt and tie. Katie also chose to wear dark trousers with a pink jumper. Susan felt more comfortable in a skirt so she wore a dark pencil skirt with a grey blouse. Auror Dawlish had given all of them ballpoint pens and legal pads with which to take notes. Harry found he was actually relieved to be using a pen rather than a quill. It had taken him years to get used to writing with a quill and he really preferred using a pen.

Entering the building, the group followed signs to a classroom where they joined other law enforcement personnel. The group all sat together in a row. Harry looked around curiously.

“I’m glad we’re able to attend some of the courses here,” Harry said quietly to Seamus.

Seamus nodded as he looked around the room.

He grinned as he noticed Katie and Susan trying to work their pens. Katie seemed rather afraid of the pen. She tried pushing on the clip without any success.

“Seamus, how does this thing work?” Katie hissed as she held out a ballpoint pen.

Taking the pen, Seamus showed her how to click it open... After closing the pen, he handed it back to her. Dubiously she took the pen back and cautiously she clicked the pen. She promptly screamed and dropped the pen.

Harry, Seamus, and Michael started laughing at her surprise. Glowering at them, she picked up the pen and made a mark on her paper. She looked over at them in astonishment. “That was easy.”

Susan was trying to write without clicking the pen. Somehow she managed to unscrew the pen and it fell apart on her. Michael took pity on her and re-screwed the cap and showed her how to use the pen.

Harry and Seamus smiled as the two girls practiced writing.

“They have it so much easier,” Harry whispered. “I hated learning to use a quill.”

“I know,” Seamus agreed. “My mum always had a quill, but all of us kids just used pens.”

Once the instructor strode up to the podium, Harry was enthralled. His pen flew across the paper as he took notes on cross contamination, types of evidence and how to preserve the various types of evidence.

During the lunch break, the group took the opportunity to meet some of the other law enforcement officers. Harry was happy to see all of them interacting with their Muggle counterparts. This is really what he hoped for in the future — more Muggle and wizarding cooperation.

The next night when Harry was talking to Ginny over their mirrors, he was still quite enthusiastic about his class. “Michael and Terry were talking about developing some spells that would help with collecting and preserving evidence. It’s really interesting. I wish we’d learned more about developing spells in school. Michael said that he was recruited by the Ministry to work in spell development, but he wanted to be an Auror.”

“Spell development is supposed to be really hard,” Ginny commented.

“It sounds like it is,” Harry admitted. “I really wish I’d paid a bit more attention to the classes I picked in my third year. I got completely lost listening to Michael and Terry talking about Arithmancy. Ancient Runes sounds really interesting as well.”

“I like Ancient Runes,” Ginny said. “Bill always made it sound so interesting. I considered taking Arithmancy, but I was worried about taking on too much.”

“I don’t know that I would have liked Arithmancy after listening to them talking today, but I’m thinking about picking up Ancient Runes. They offer it as an adult class at the Ministry.”

“That would be great,” Ginny said. “I bet it would help you a lot in your work.”

“Don’t tell Hermione yet,” Harry cautioned. “She can be…a little too enthusiastic sometimes.”

Ginny laughed. “Don’t worry, I understand.”

“How are things going with Hermione?”

Glancing around her dorm room, Ginny instinctively lowered her voice even though she’d already cast privacy spells. “Things are okay. I think she was surprised to discover that she’d upset so many people. I think she’s still really embarrassed that she lost control like that. She apologized, but things are still a bit tense. Some of the younger students are a bit scared of her, but many of the older students are a bit more forgiving. We’ve been through a lot and we’ve all reached our own breaking points. It’s really brought home to a lot of people that we all need some help dealing with everything that’s happened. Madam Florence has been around talking to all of the houses, but she’s spent a lot of time in Gryffindor Tower this past week. It’s been nice having her around.”

“That’s good,” Harry replied.

“Have you heard anything from Ron?”

He shook his head. “No, he’s still going to work and his community service. George is continuing with his support group and I think it’s really helping him. When I came down to breakfast the other day, he was laughing at something in the paper. I haven’t heard him laugh like that in a long time. He just seems brighter and more content.”

Ginny blinked away tears. “Really? I hope he’s getting better. I worry about him so. He did sound good in his last letter. He’s had tea several times with a girl from the support group.”

“Yes, Ruby,” Harry smiled. “I met her the other day when they were having lunch together. Ruby’s brother was killed in a Death Eater raid last summer. I think it’s done him a lot of good to see that there are other people who’ve gone through something similar and come out on the other side of it.”

“I wonder what Angelina thinks of that,” Ginny mused.

Harry shrugged. “I have no idea. I really can’t figure out their relationship at all.”

“It’s complicated. Angelina and Fred dated briefly whilst they were in school,” Ginny explained. “They went to the Yule Ball together and dated for most of their last year at Hogwarts. They broke up before the twins made their epic escape, but they all remained friends. George has had a crush on her for a while and I heard Fred encouraging him to ask her out last spring when we were at Aunt Muriel’s, but he’s afraid she either won’t want to date him or will see him as a fill in for Fred.”

“How do you know all this stuff?” He asked in admiration. “You’re even better at this than Hermione.”

Ginny laughed. “I listen to people. It’s not that difficult.”

“I did wonder why I hadn’t seen Angelina around lately.”

“George mentioned in his last letter that Angelina was going to Canada. She has a cousin over there who is pregnant and is supposed to be on bed rest, but she has two little kids so it’s kind of hard to be on bed rest. Angelina is going to go out and help her cousin. I think she also needs a break from everything going on here.”

“I can’t blame her,” Harry said. “It would be nice to be able to get away from everything for a while.”

“Thinking of doing a runner on me?” Ginny asked teasingly.

“On you, never,” Harry reassured her. “With you - now that I might be able to do.”

She laughed. “Good answer, my love.”

He grinned. “You never know, sometimes a bit of distance provides the clarity you need. Being apart from you made me realize how much I love you and need you in my life.”

She blew him a kiss. “Maybe it will bring Angelina and George similar clarity.”

“Happy birthday,” Ron said as he hugged his oldest brother.

“Thanks,” Bill said with a wicked grin. He handed his brother a bottle of beer and gestured towards the kitchen. “There’s food in the kitchen and plenty of drinks to be found. Most of us are out in the back garden.”

Taking a sip of his beer, Ron made his way through Shell Cottage. As promised, the kitchen counter was covered with food. There were platters of sandwiches, salads, crisps, and plenty of cakes and crumbles. Unlike his parents’ house, here the food was mostly brought prepared not homemade, but there was also no one pushing food on them as there would be at the Burrow.

That would come tomorrow with Bill’s official birthday party at the Burrow. Tonight was just the younger crowd — some of Bill’s friends from work and of course all of his brothers. After loading up a plate, Ron stepped out into the back garden. There were fairy lights strung all around the garden and plenty of seating as well. A roaring fire was blazing in the fire pit.

Making his way around the fire pit, Ron spied George and Percy. He watched them for a minute trying to figure out what was different. A moment later it hit him, George was laughing. He certainly wasn’t like his old manic self, but he was much better than Ron had seen him in a long time.

Percy looked up as he walked over. “Ron! You made it.”

Nodding to his brothers, Ron settled in to demolish the plate of food he’d prepared. Listening to the talking, he was surprised to hear that George was still going to his group meetings. He’d even met someone who he thought would be perfect for head chef of his pizza restaurant.

“Evan’s a great bloke,” George said. “He trained in both Muggle and wizarding kitchens. I think he’ll be great.”

“I have to admit, I was impressed with him,” Percy said. “I believe Robert will make an excellent manager. It seems like things are finally moving forward on this idea. Evan and Robert will make an excellent addition to the team.”

“When do you think it will open?” Ron asked curiously.

“We’re hoping after the holidays,” George said. “I don’t want to try and open during the Christmas season. That’s the busiest time of year at the shop and I don’t want to be split between the two places. That will give Evan and Robert some time to meet and develop the recipes. They liked the dragon theme and Evan had some great menu ideas. Fleur has been working with Robert to develop the look of the restaurant.”

As Ron listened to George and Percy, he realized that he’d been so wrapped up in everything happening to him, that he hadn’t paid
attention to what was happening with the rest of the family. George really seemed to be benefiting from the group he was attending. Suddenly Ron felt rather left behind. How could George be moving forward when he still felt so lost?

Moodily, he stood and walked over towards the edge of the cliff feeling very discontented for reasons he really didn’t want to examine. He paused and turned and walked towards Dobby’s grave. Someone had been tending to the gravesite, the grass was neatly clipped and there were no weeds. Instead there was a small flowering plant that wound around the base of the grave stone.


Turning, Ron hugged Charlie. “Charlie, it’s good to see you. When did you get in?”

“Thanks,” Charlie replied. “I got in this afternoon. I’ll be here for a week.” The two brothers gazed down at the grave for a moment. “What is the story with this grave?” Charlie asked curiously. “I’ve meant to ask Bill, but it never seemed to be the right time.”

Ron sighed. “Dobby was a house elf who used to work for the Malfoys; he tried to warn Harry about bad things happening before our second year. Harry ended up freeing him and Dobby has always kept track of Harry and helped him out. It was Dobby who rescued us from Malfoy Manor. He transported groups of us here to Shell Cottage. Harry was the last person he pulled out and Bellatrix had thrown her knife at Harry, but Dobby jumped in front of it. He died in Harry’s arms right down on the beach.

“It really shook Harry up. He dug the grave himself that night without any magic. Something…I don’t know how to explain it, but after that night Harry was so focused. It was like he suddenly knew what to do and how to do it. He’d been so fixated on the stupid Deathly Hallows before that, but after that night he stopped all that nonsense and concentrated on the important stuff.”

Charlie raised an eyebrow at Ron’s half resentful tone. “Didn’t his knowledge of the Deathly Hallows help him win?”

“I guess,” Ron allowed.

“Why are you so angry?” Charlie asked in an almost soothing tone of voice.

Ron stiffened, if it had been anyone else he would have yelled at them, but it didn’t feel right yelling at Charlie. “Harry is just going on with his life and I can’t seem to get there. Why isn’t he angry? Why isn’t he stuck?”

“Do you feel he’s left you behind?” Charlie asked.

Shrugging, Ron didn’t answer verbally. Charlie tugged his brother over to the small bench that Fleur had placed near the gravesite. The brothers sat quietly for a minute until Ron burst out, “He’s just going on with life! Fred d-died and mum overdosed on potions, Hermione’s relationship with her parents has been really rough, but Harry’s just fine. He’s working as an Auror and getting engaged. It’s just not fair!”

“After the year of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, what did you do that summer?”

Ron looked over at his brother in confusion. “I went home to the Burrow. We didn’t get to stay for long, but we spent the first week at the Burrow before heading to Grimmauld Place.”

“The week you were at the Burrow, what did you do?”

Shrugging, Ron thought for a moment. “The usual stuff - went swimming, played some Quidditch.”

“Mum and Dad were there with the twins and Ginny,” Charlie.

Ron nodded. Charlie said, “How did you feel?”

“What are you getting at?” Ron demanded. “I was fine. It was great to be home after such a horrid year.”

“How do you think Harry was?”

“Well…he was Harry. He was angry and…I don’t know.”

“He’d just seen Voldemort rise again. He’d been forced to watch Cedric die. He’d fought against Voldemort and been tortured by him, right?”

“Yeah,” Ron said. He was still confused by the change in subject. “It must have been rough for him.”

“His relatives weren’t really there for him, were they?”

Ron shook his head. “No, he and his relatives never really got along well.”

“So after probably the worst experience of his life up to that point, he was dumped on his relatives while you returned to the Burrow and your normal life.”

Charlie held Ron’s confused gaze. “Ron, he’s already gone through his worst experiences - Voldemort’s re-birth, Cedric’s death, his godfather’s death, and Dumbledore’s death. He made it through all of those and managed to kill Voldemort. Now, he probably feels he’s entitled to live his life. I’m not saying you don’t have a reason to be angry with him or anything like that, but you need to talk to him. Ask him why he wasn’t there for you.”

“So Fred’s death didn’t mean anything to him?”

“Of course it did,” Charlie replied. “I saw him at the funeral and the other funerals as well. He was grieving with us, but you can’t expect Fred’s death to affect him as much as it did us. How much did Sirius’ death affect you?”

Ron flushed slightly. “Not much. I was more upset for Harry than I was about Sirius. I mean, he was a nice bloke, but I didn’t really know him.”

“Exactly, so why would Fred’s death affect him the same you?”

Ron gazed out over the sea as he thought about what his brother was saying. “I guess that makes sense. I just…I wish. He’s pulling away. He’s with Ginny and doesn’t want to go out with me and George.”

“I thought the two of you went to a Quidditch match together,” Charlie commented.

“We did,” Ron confirmed. “We started out having fun, but then he never wanted to do anything. We kept inviting him to come out with us, but he’d say he had to study or something.”

“He did just start in the Auror program,” Charlie pointed out.

Ron shrugged that off. He really didn’t want to let go of his anger that quickly.

“Do you have a problem with him being with Ginny?”

“Not exactly,” Ron said. “He’s crazy about her and he’ll treat her right, but…” He hesitated a minute before he burst out, “Do you think they’re sleeping together?”

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know. I don’t really know Potter and Ginny doesn’t talk to me about things like that. Why do you ask?”

Ron explained what he’d overheard. Charlie frowned. “Merlin, I hope not! She’s only seventeen. I don’t like the way they went around announcing their engagement. Poor Mum, she really didn’t expect that and you can’t blame her for being so shocked.”

At this point Bill joined his brothers. “What’s going on over here? You two are looking entirely too serious for a party.”

Charlie quickly explained to his brother what they’d been talking about. Bill frowned slightly as he listened to them.

“You would have a problem with them sleeping together?” he asked looking between the two of them.

“Of course!” they both yelled. Ron continued, “She’s too young.”

“What about you?” Bill asked looking at his youngest brother.

“What do you mean?” Ron asked in confusion.

“What about you and Hermione?” Bill clarified.

The tips of Ron’s ears were fiery red and the redness was creeping up his face. “We haven’t…I mean she wasn’t ready.”

“But you wanted to,” Bill said.

“Of course,” Ron glared at his brother. He didn’t see how this had suddenly been turned around onto him.

“So you aren’t too young, but Ginny is?”

“That’s different,” Ron said. “Me and Hermione are both older and we have a really solid relationship.”

“Harry and Ginny are engaged,” Bill pointed out. “They’ve been dating for a year and a half.”

“But she’s too young!” Ron retorted.

“I don’t think you’re seeing her too clearly,” Bill said. “Yes, I’m not thrilled at the thought of my little sister having sex with her fiancé, but if it was one of you boys I would be happy for you.”

“But…she’ll get a bad reputation,” Ron pointed out. “There were already rumours of her being pregnant.”

“Started by your girlfriend,” Bill said sharply. “He loves her and he’s going to marry her. I have to admit, he’s the only person I’ve ever thought was good enough for her. For Merlin’s sake, he saved the whole world for her. I don’t think they need to prove anything to us. They may be young, but I know that you lost your virginity long before seventh year, Charlie. So did I and so did the twins.”

Ron blushed and looked down. Bill clapped him on the shoulder. “Ron, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I wish I’d waited a bit longer
and that Fleur was the only girl I’ve ever been with. Honestly, you and Hermione haven’t been dating all that long. It makes sense that she would want to wait.”

“Why didn’t Ginny?”

Bill shrugged. “I don’t know exactly, but she told Fleur that she thought she’d missed her chance to be with him. She was afraid that one of them would die before they could be together. They are ready to get married and start their family. Can you say the same?”

“No,” Ron admitted. He looked away.

“Can I ask Harry to come over?” Bill asked.

“Why?” Ron asked angrily. “He doesn’t need to be here.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Bill agreed, “but it will be Christmas soon and if the two of you aren’t talking it will make an already awkward situation worse. At least talk to him.”

“I guess,” Ron sighed.

Charlie summoned two more beers while they waited. It was probably ten minutes later when Bill and Harry walked over to Dobby’s grave. Ron watched uneasily as Harry approached. It was easier to maintain his anger and not face what he may have done so he didn’t really want to face his best mate.

All too soon, Harry and Bill were standing in front of Charlie and Ron. Harry gazed steadily at Ron.

“Why did you do that?” Ron burst out after a moment of silence.

Harry raised his eyebrow. “Why did I do what?”

“Get me in trouble like that,” Ron said. “I’ve had to do community service hours and my father had to pay a huge fine. Why didn’t you come get me?”

“I didn’t get you into trouble,” Harry contradicted him. “You did that yourself. You went out drinking and you started a fight. I went to your father because it seemed like there might be trouble. He made the decision not to help you.”

“And you just went along with it,” Ron said.

“What was I supposed to do?” Harry said angrily. “You’d been going out every week, sometimes more than once a week. I think I’ve bailed you out often enough. Do you know how much sleep I’ve lost getting you? Not to mention, you were making fun of me and telling me that I was being a pansy and everyone was laughing at me.”

“Are you sleeping with my sister?” Ron demanded.

“That’s none of your business,” Harry returned evenly. “I’ve never asked you about your relationship with Hermione.” He regarded his friend for a minute. “Is that why you got so angry with me? You seemed to become angrier after the Parents Weekend.”

“You were staying up at the school until midnight and following my sister around like a little puppy dog. You let her feed you. It was pathetic.”

Harry shrugged. “Yes, I stayed with her as long as possible. I miss her, I’m not going to apologize for that. I don’t know what you mean about following her around. I went there to see her. I don’t know why you are making such a big deal out of her asking me to taste something and offering me a bite. I’ve seen Fleur do that to Bill before and I’ve seen other couples do it. You act like she was feeding me the whole meal. She offered me a few bites. Why are you so angry? It’s like nothing I do is right.”

“Why did you stop coming over to the shop? It’s like you didn’t want to be friends anymore once the girls went back to school. You never wanted to go out with me and George.”

“You never invited me to go out with you and George.”

“What the hell are you talking about? I asked you all the time!”

“You asked me to go out with those shop girls,” Harry clarified. “I have no interest in hanging out with girls like that.”

“What’s wrong with the girls? They are fun.”

Harry shook his head. “They are party girls who are only hanging around because you are famous and keep paying for their drinks. I don’t need those types of friends and neither do you. Hell, I don’t want Ginny to worry about the type of girls I’m hanging around like Hermione does.”

“What does that mean? What the hell have you told her?” Ron demanded angrily.

“I haven’t told her anything,” Harry replied. “She’s seen the pictures in the paper and she’s noticed that you don’t write her as often. She’s asked about them and I’ve never really answered.”

“What?” Ron was somewhat derailed from his anger by this revelation. Hermione was doubting him?

“Ron, I tried to tell you when those girls approached us at the Quidditch game. Those girls just want to brag they know someone famous or they want to sleep with someone famous. The shop girls are the same way. I hate the way they all would come on to me if I stopped by when they were at the shop or the one time I did go out with all of you. I caught two of them trying to slip something into my drink so I didn’t drink anything for the rest of the night. I don’t need girls like that in my life and neither do you, but you wouldn’t listen to me so I had to not go out with you either. If you had asked me to go out with just you and George or me and Seamus, I would have gone in a heartbeat. But I don’t want to end up in the papers or wake up to find out that some girl slipped me a love potion and I slept with her or something.”

Ron stared at him in shock. This wasn’t at all what he’d expected Harry to say. “So you weren’t avoiding me.”

“Of course not,” Harry returned impatiently. “Why the hell would I do that? You’ve been my best mate since first year. I wouldn’t have asked you to move into Grimmauld Place if I was trying to avoid you. You decided you were angry at me and laughed at just about everything I did. I was ridiculous for running and going to the gym, I looked stupid with my ear pierced, I was studying too much. For Merlin’s sake, how old are you? I’m studying too much? I’m in Auror training. There is a lot to learn and I can’t afford to not pay attention. I didn’t finish my last year of school and there’s some stuff that is really hard for me.”

Bill and Charlie pulled away to leave the younger boys to work out their differences. George, who had been watching from a distance, gave his older brother a nod. He was glad someone had finally taken the initiative to make Ron talk to Harry.

“Working at the shop is hard for me,” Ron replied less angrily. “That’s why I started going out with the girls in the first place. There is so much pressure on me to be there for George and not mess up what they started.”

“There are other ways to deal with it than going out and getting drunk every night.”

Ron flushed. “I know, but I felt like…you wouldn’t understand.”

“What wouldn’t I understand?”

“What it’s like to have so much pressure on you to succeed and have your family counting on you,” Ron finally managed to say.

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” Harry said after a minute. “Ron, what the hell do you think it was like for me my whole time at Hogwarts? No, I didn’t have five older brothers to live up to - I had two dead parents to honour. I was constantly being measured by my parents and their willingness to give up their lives for me. Was I worth them dying? I still don’t think so, but yes I know about pressure to succeed. Did you hear them the summer before we left? Kingsley saying I was the last best chance to succeed and Diggle saying the hopes of the wizarding world rested on my shoulders — yeah I know about pressure.”

Ron looked away. He’d heard people saying things like that about Harry, but he’d never even stopped to think about what Harry might feel about that. Harry was supposed to save the world, right? As he glanced over at his best mate, Ron suddenly realized that he’d never even questioned that Harry would do what he had to do.

Instead he’d complained that it had taken too long or that Harry had gotten side tracked with the Deathly Hallows. He was still a bit upset that Harry had gotten them captured and Hermione tortured, but it wasn’t as though Harry had come through it in one piece. Harry had been hit with all three Unforgivables cast by You-Know-Who.

“It’s-” Ron stopped as his voice cracked embarrassingly. He started again. “It’s hard to think that Fred is dead. I hate seeing George so messed up and my Mum…she fell apart. It’s hard seeing my family in trouble.”

“I know that,” Harry said honestly. He stepped towards Ron. “I’m not part of your family and it’s torn me apart. I’ve gone over everything that happened millions of times to see what I could have done differently. I hate that so many people got involved and so many people died. I’ve been talking to George and spending time with Teddy. I tried talking to you, but anytime I did you just told me I didn’t know what it’s like to lose a brother.

“You’re right, I don’t know what it’s like to lose a brother, but I’ve lost a lot of people in my life — my parents, Sirius, Remus. Cedric and Professor Dumbledore were killed right in front of me and there was nothing I could do about it. So while I don’t know exactly what you’re going through, I do know a lot about losing people.”

Ron nodded, but didn’t say anything out loud. Harry sighed. “Look, Ron, I get that you are going through a lot and Merlin knows I didn’t handle things during our 5th year. I took things out on you and Hermione. I’m sorry, mate, I yelled at you and I wasn’t very fun to be around, but it’s thanks to you and Hermione I got through that year. You just want to push me away. You’re acting like I’m…some sort of authority to rebel against rather than your best mate. You laugh at me for studying, you make fun of me for how I act with your sister, and you smoke in my house even though I’ve asked you repeatedly not to do it. I feel like I don’t even know you anymore.”

Ron shifted uneasily. “It felt like all you were doing is getting on my case about things.”

“Ron, I understand that things were bad,” Harry said a touch impatiently. “What are you going to do?”

“Do? What do I need to do?”

Harry looked past Ron to Bill who was standing not too far away watching them. “Bill, I hope you have a great birthday. I hope I’ll see you sometime around the holidays.”

Coming over to the two younger boys, Bill looked at Harry anxiously. “Are you sure you don’t want to come over tomorrow?”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t think I’d be very welcome.”

“I’m sorry,” Bill said. “I hoped…”

“I know,” Harry replied. “Don’t worry about it.”

After saying goodbye to the other brothers, Harry left. Bill looked back at Ron and glared at him. “I wanted to invite him here tonight. He’s a good friend and he’s going to be our brother someday soon, but I couldn’t because I knew you’d act like this.”

“So you’re choosing him over me?”

“No you idiot,” Bill replied heatedly. “I chose you, obviously. I’m just angry that I have to choose. I’d rather have both of you.”

Bill stalked off towards the house leaving Ron staring down at the grave. Suddenly feeling he didn’t want to be there, he headed off closer to the cliff. Staring out at the sea he tried to wrangle in his thoughts. He knew if Hermione were there she’d be expecting him to apologize, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do that.

Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned to see Charlie approaching with two more bottles of beer. He handed his brother one and sat down on the grass.

“Are you mad at me too?”

Charlie shook his head. “Of course not, you’re going through a rough time just like the rest of us. Bill…he’s always been close to Ginny and it’s not surprising that he’s become close to Harry, but you know he’s not choosing Harry above you, right? He’s your brother and he’ll back you. He might be upset at you, but he’ll still back you.”

“I know,” Ron admitted after a minute. He took a swig out of his bottle. “I don’t mean to make him choose, but I’m still…I don’t know.”

“It’s okay,” Charlie cut across Ron’s stumbling. “You don’t need to explain it to me. Just think about it. We don’t need any more divisions in this family, but if you truly feel it is necessary I will be there for you.”

“Even after all that, he still didn’t apologize?” Ginny asked incredulously.

Harry shook his head. “I’m not surprised, he never does.” He shrugged. “The only good thing is that George tells me Ron has been going to counselling now. He didn’t want to go to the group meetings like George is, but he’s going to private counselling.”

“Prat,” Ginny grumbled.

Harry watched her with a smile tugging at his lips. Leaning forward, he kissed her gently. “You are so beautiful.”

She rolled her eyes, but her cheeks flushed a delicate red. He laughed and kissed her again. “Come on, let’s go for a run.”

The pair started for a run around the Black Lake. It was the third week they’d gone for a run after dinner. While Ginny would have preferred to run in the morning, if she was given a choice between running in the morning or running with Harry, she’d chose Harry every time. During the week, she and Demelza ran together, but Friday evenings were just for her and Harry and she guarded their time together jealously.

After running around the lake, they finished their workout with press ups and sit ups. Ginny collapsed back on the grass after her last sit up.

“You’ve been practicing,” Harry said admiringly.

She blushed at the admiration in his voice. “I have. I’m not up to your standards yet, but I’m trying. When I talked to Gwenog Jones at Slughorn’s last party, I asked her about what kind of work outs they do. She was impressed that I asked, she said most witches don’t know anything about working out. One thing she suggested was that I take a dance class.”

“A dance class?” Harry asked curiously.

Ginny nodded. “It helps with flexibility and it is supposed to be a good workout. There’s a studio in London that she recommended that is run by a witch. I owled her and she said I could take a class or two over the Christmas holidays.”

“That’s great,” Harry smiled

She smiled. One of the things she loved about talking to Harry was his whole-hearted support of whatever she wanted to do. Glancing over at him, she said, “Do you want to get cleaned up? I can get us into the Quidditch changing rooms.”

He grinned with a mischievous look on his face. “The Quidditch changing rooms? I’ve had many fantasies about you and the Quidditch changing rooms.”

Leaning close to him, she whispered, “Me too.”

His eyes darkened as he swept his eyes over her. Her heart skipped a beat before it started racing at the look in his eyes. He made her feel so sexy. Closing the distance between the two of them, he kissed her. When his tongue traced her lips, she opened her mouth allowing him entrance. She moaned as his tongue tangled with hers. A thrill ran through her as he pulled her close.

After several long minutes she pulled away and rolled her to feet. “Come on!”

“See if you can catch me,” she laughed as she took off for the changing rooms. He quickly followed and with his longer legs, he soon overtook her. They reached the door at the same time. Harry pinned her up against the wall and kissed her passionately. Ginny returned the kiss just as fiercely.

After a moment, Harry pushed open the changing room door and with a few waves of his wand it was warm and well lit inside. He smiled down at the beautiful woman in his arms.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Ginny kissed him briefly. “After the Slytherin match my fifth year when I was trying to pretend I was over you, I came over to talk to you. It wasn’t anything important, but I was going to say something — I can’t even remember what. You were talking to Ron and laughing and then you took your shirt off.” She shivered as she thought back. “I can’t even tell you how that affected me.”

“I wish I’d known,” Harry said as he pulled her hips firmly to his. She could feel his arousal pressed up against her. “I’d have been more than happy to repeat that anytime you wanted.”

“How about now?”

With a quick movement, Harry pulled off his shirt. As Ginny watched he stripped off the rest of his clothes. The thought that now she could touch him whenever she wanted was intoxicating. The mood in the changing room went from teasing to passionate instantly. Harry transfigured one of the locker room benches into a more substantial surface and pulled her down on top of him.

Their lovemaking was intense as they quickly became lost in each other. The look of love and desire in Harry’s eyes as he watched her move above him was too much. Ginny found herself crying out and felt him flood into her. She collapsed on top of him and he wrapped his arms around her. Ginny could hear his heart racing and closed her eyes, secure in his arms.

“Baby, we need to get back,” Harry murmured regretfully into her hair.

“I don’t want to,” she replied.

He laughed softly and she could feel the vibrations of his chest. “I don’t either, but I don’t think Professor McGonagall would be too thrilled to find us here.”

“You’re right,” Ginny said as she leaned down to kiss him gently. She climbed out of his arms and started hunting for her clothes.

Soon they were both dressed once again. Harry wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “I wish you were coming home with me.”

“Two weeks, love,” Ginny said. “You’re coming to see the pantomime, right?”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Harry reassured her. “I was hoping you would come home with me, but if you want to ride the train…”

“No, I’d rather spend the time with you,” Ginny said. “We can spend the afternoon in London before heading to the Burrow.”

Harry nodded. “I was thinking of inviting your family to my house for dinner on Christmas Eve. That way if Ron wants to be a prat, he doesn’t have to come. Maybe he and Hermione can go to her parents’ for dinner or something.”

“Are you going to spend Christmas at the Burrow?” Ginny was surprised to realize she hadn’t even questioned what might happen.

He shook his head. “When I was a kid, every Christmas was spent with people who didn’t want me around and didn’t bother to hide it. I’m not going to willingly put myself in the same situation. Your family needs to be together. Christmas will be hard and you don’t need to be arguing over me. I’ve already been invited for Christmas dinner at Andromeda’s house.”

Ginny felt tears welling up in her eyes. She wanted to scream at her brother and mother for making Harry feel so unwelcome. “I’m coming over on Boxing Day.”

“You can come over whenever you want, love,” Harry said. “By next Christmas we will be married and we can do whatever we want.”

“That sounds amazing,” Ginny agreed. “I’m not going to spend the whole holidays at the Burrow while you are in London. I’ll spend Christmas Day with my family, but plan on seeing me a lot.”

“I am looking forward to it,” Harry replied with a smile. With one last kiss; he called out, “Kreacher!”

When the elf appeared, Harry stepped away from Ginny. “Can you please take Ginny to the Prefect’s bathroom?”

“Of course, Master,” Kreacher did as he was asked and returned for Harry. With a sigh, Harry said, “Take me home.”

Back to index

Chapter 21: Chapter 21 Happy Christmas

Author's Notes: Sorry it took so long to finish this chapter. I had planned to have it up much earlier, but life interfered. I'm posting this chapter unbetaed so any errors are entirely my own. Thanks to Mark for his encouragement and Brit picking skills! I hope you enjoy my version of a British Christmas - the part about the Christmas tree from Norway in Trafalgar Square is true.


Turning Harry saw Mr Weasley behind him in the festively decorated corridor. “Hello, Mr Weasley.”

“Hello, Harry. I was hoping to catch up to you. Do you have a minute?”

“Of course,” Harry replied as he guided the older wizard into one of the conference rooms. “Is something wrong?”

“Wrong? Not exactly,” Mr Weasley replied. “I’m afraid that Mrs Weasley and I will be unable to have dinner with you on Christmas Eve.
We’ve already accepted an invitation from Mr and Mrs Granger.”

“Oh,” Harry tried to suppress a feeling of rejection.

“I’m so sorry,” Mr Weasley said earnestly. “We’d already made arrangements for Molly, Ron, Ginny, and myself to have dinner there.”

“Ginny? But she didn’t say anything,” Harry protested.

“We hadn’t had a chance to tell her,” Mr Weasley replied a bit uneasily. “We didn’t want to leave her home alone on Christmas Eve.”

“She won’t be home alone,” Harry countered. “Bill and Fleur have already sent me their acceptance. George will be there as well.”

“I guess it would be okay for her to go to your house,” Mr Weasley agreed. “I’ll speak to her mother. Are you coming over on Christmas?”

Harry shook his head. “I haven’t been invited and I don’t think Ron would very much welcome me. I’ve spent many Christmases with people who didn’t want me around. I won’t willingly put myself in that same situation. Mrs Tonks invited me to spend Christmas with her and Teddy.”

“I can understand that,” Mr Weasley said, “although you will be missed.”

Harry shrugged. “Ron seems to have gotten it into his head that I’m the enemy. I don’t know why. I feel like he sees me as an authority figure to rebel against. He even told me I didn’t know anything about family pressures. I miss my best mate and wish he would realize that I’m on his side, but I can’t force him. That’s two Christmases in a row that we’ve not been together.”

“I am sorry,” Mr Weasley reiterated.

A pensive Harry returned to work.

Harry smiled as Ginny walked down the main stairs towards him. She looked beautiful in her new dark green dress. She twirled as she neared him.

“How do you like it?” she asked with a smile.

“You look amazing,” he said as he leaned over to kiss her.

She slipped her hand into his and led him into the Great Hall. It was set up for the final performance of the Christmas Pantomime, ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’. There were rows of chairs set up in front of the stage that sat where the head table was usually placed.
Harry grinned at first year student who was dressed up as an elf handing out programmes. At realizing who she was facing, the little girl promptly blushed bright red, but did remember to hand him the programme. Ginny laughed as she led the way over to the refreshment stand that was set up against the far wall.

Students from the newly formed drama club were staffing the refreshment stand. Harry didn’t personally know any of them, but Ginny greeted them all by name.

Turning to Harry, she said, “What do you want, love?”

“I’ll have a hot chocolate and strawberry ice cream,” Harry decided after looking over the list.

“That sounds good,” Ginny said thoughtfully. “I’ll have a hot chocolate and peach ice cream.”

The couple made their way to the second row of chairs and sat down. Harry was happy to be able to relax with his fiancée. “How did the first two performances go?”

“Really well,” Ginny said with a smile. “Demelza did an excellent job. Everyone did really. Professor Carter and Professor Flitwick are both thrilled with the way everything has gone. There hasn’t been any drama like the last time they attempted to put on the play.”
Laughing Harry asked, “Justin didn’t run off the wrong witch or anything?”

“No,” Ginny smiled. “Actually, he and Sophie went to Hogsmeade together so she was thrilled.”

Harry smiled contentedly as he listened to Ginny chatter about getting ready for the shows and working on the scenery. He loved listening to her, especially when she was happy. Harry nodded to a few friends as they sat down. Luna, Dean, Seamus, and Katie were all sitting together. He wasn’t exactly sure if Katie and Seamus were dating or not, but they all seemed to be getting along well. Hermione was sitting across the aisle from him and Ginny. She was sitting with Mandy and Lisa, two of the other returning eight year students.

The performance went really well. Harry enjoyed the story of the three witches making their way to the fountain and having to face their fears on the way. He thought all of the actors did well. All in all it was a very enjoyable night.

As the lights went up, Harry blinked as he’d become accustomed to the darkness. Ginny slipped her hand through the crook of his arm and steered him into the open courtyard. It was lit with fairy lights and decorated with greenery.

“What did you think?” Ginny asked curiously.

“It was really good,” Harry replied enthusiastically. “I wish they’d done something like that in the other years.”

Ginny nodded. “Professor Carter was talking about making it an annual event.” She glanced up at him. “What would you choose?”

“Choose?” he asked in confusion.

“What would you ask the fountain for?” Ginny clarified. The topic had been discussed several times by the students in the common room and at meal time. Ginny had been asked several times what her wish would be and she was curious to discover what Harry would wish for.

Harry smiled down at her. “I don’t really know. When I was younger, it was easy. I would ask for a family. Whenever I threw coins in
fountains or pretended I was blowing out birthday candles, that is what I wished for — a family of my own.”

He covered her hand with his and squeezed it. Lifting her left hand with his engagement ring shining in the moon light, he pressed a kiss onto her hand. “You’ve given me that. With you, I have a family now. Someday we will formally become a family, but when you accepted my proposal it was like I wasn’t so alone in the world.”

She smiled up at him, thrilled that he felt that way. “We are a family.” Standing on her tiptoes, she reached up and kissed him gently. “I’m glad I was able to make your wish come true.”

He held her to him for a moment before looking into her eyes. “I can’t really think of anything else I want. I mean I would love to have children eventually, but not right now. I guess the only thing I’d wish for right now is to be talking to Ron and Hermione again, but I figure that will happen eventually.”

He shrugged and planted another kiss on the palm of her hand. “I’m happy. What about you, love?”

Blushing, she smiled up at him. “Like you, I think that I’ve gotten what I wanted. When I was little, I always wished for a friend who wasn’t one of my brothers. Once I was older, I wanted you to notice me and fall in love with me. Last year I prayed that you would survive.” She looked up at him. “I felt so guilty when Fred died. I never prayed for the safety of my family or friends, just for you.”
She dropped her gaze from his. “I wondered what would have happened if I’d included my brothers in those wishes.”

“I’m sorry, Baby,” Harry said softly.

She shook her head. “I’m okay; logically I know that I couldn’t have changed the outcome, but…”

“Grief isn’t always logical,” Harry said with a tender smile.

Nodding she leaned against him. “Sorry for turning so serious, I didn’t expect it to hit me like that.”

“Trust me,” Harry murmured into her hair, “I understand.”

Quickly wiping her eyes, Ginny looked up at him again. “So what would I wish for now?”

He nodded.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” she said. “People have been talking about it all week. I think I just want my family whole again. I know that it will never be exactly the same, but I want everyone happy and together. I hope that by next Christmas, we will have a real family Christmas. We’ll be spending our first Christmas as man and wife and hopefully everyone will be getting along and healing.”

“That is a perfect wish,” Harry said as he pulled her close.

“What do you think?” Harry asked anxiously as Ginny walked around the house. Kreacher was hovering in the background also eager to hear her opinion. Kreacher had gone all out with the Christmas decorating. The house was festooned with greenery and ribbons and lots of fairy lights. There were several sprigs of mistletoe sprinkled amongst the rest of the greenery. Harry hoped that he and Ginny would be able to find them all.

“It looks wonderful!” She exclaimed. She gasped as she entered further into the drawing room. It was dominated by a large, long needled pine tree that was set up in one corner.

In the opposite corner of the room, set up on a raised platform was a train set winding its way among a ceramic Victorian village. Ginny watched in delight as the train stopped at the train station and little witches exited the train and headed towards one of the houses. Snow covered the tiny gardens behind the houses and there were a variety of cats and dogs in habiting the village. A miniature horse drawn carriage cantered down the main street.

“This is brilliant! Where did this come from?”

“It has been in the attic for many years,” Kreacher explained. “Old Mistress didn’t like the village, but Kreacher thought that Master and Mistress would enjoy it.”

“It’s lovely,” Ginny said as she watched the village.

Reaching back for Harry’s hand, she smiled up at him. “This is perfect!”

Looking over at the tree, she asked, “Why is the tree not decorated?”

“I hoped we could do that together this afternoon,” Harry said a touch nervously. “Kreacher found only a handful of ornaments and we have lots of fairy lights, but I thought we could go shopping and get more ornaments.”

Ginny’s eyes lit up at the thought. “That sounds lovely!”

Soon the pair were walking hand-in-hand down Upper Street, looking in the shop windows. Laughing, Ginny pulled Harry into an antique shop.

It was fun looking at the shop’s inventory. Harry looked longingly at an intricately carved Edwardian display cabinet. “This is beautiful, isn’t it?”

“It would fit in really well in the library,” Ginny said. Glancing up a Harry, she could tell he really liked it. While she wished she had enough money to buy it on her own, she knew she didn’t. She remembered that Bill mentioned he hadn’t gotten Harry’s Christmas present yet. Maybe he would be willing to go in with her on the cabinet. She made a face. She hated not having money.

“Ginny-love, look at these.”

She joined him next to a display of Christmas decorations. Harry pointed out the hand blown glass ornaments. “Those are pretty, aren’t they?”

In the end they chose three ornaments: an angel, a Christmas tree, and a Father Christmas ornament. Satisfied with their purchases, they walked further into Muggle London. After several stops, they had a large assortment of ornaments. They’d bought several boxes of modern glass ornaments at Marks & Spenser and some handmade ornaments at a crafts store. All in all they had acquired an eclectic mix of ornaments. As evening drew near, they ended up at Trafalgar Square. Ginny was entranced by the large Christmas tree adorned with white lights that dominated the square.

“This is beautiful!” Ginny exclaimed as she looked up at the tree. “It’s so different from the trees at Hogwarts.” Looking around she lowered her voice. “How do they get lights so high up on the tree without magic?”

Harry laughed. “I think they use a big crane and lifts. I saw pictures in the paper one year. Remember when we saw the people fixing the
telephone wires? The men were lifted up on a platform or in a bucket. I think that’s what they do for the Christmas tree.”

Ginny nodded as they slowly made their way around the massive Norwegian pine. The square was filled with people admiring the square and there was a choir preparing to sing to the gathering crowd. She read the inscription at the base of the tree.

It read: This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45. A tree has been given annually since 1947.

“What does this mean?” she asked quietly. “What did we do to help the Norwegians?”

“During the Second World War,” Harry replied as he tried to recall the details he vaguely remembered learning in school. “Remember what I told you about the Second World War?”

Ginny nodded. “It was the Muggle war fought at the same time as Grindelwald’s war. It sounds like it was pretty horrific.”

“Yes,” Harry said. “It does. Norway is one of the countries that Hitler invaded and I think their government came to London when they had to leave Norway. In gratitude the city of Oslo sends a giant Christmas tree to London each year. We learned about it in school one year, but I don’t remember all the details.”

“That’s brilliant,” Ginny said as she surveyed the tree. “What a nice tradition.”

As they wandered throughout the square admiring the statues, the choir started singing Christmas carols. Harry and Ginny joined the crowds in listening to the carols. Wrapping his arms around Ginny, Harry thought that it was pretty much a perfect afternoon.

After stopping for dinner in London, they returned to Grimmauld Place. Instead of the dark and dreary place he remembered from his fifth year, the house was now warm and inviting. There were no Santa hats on severed elf heads anymore. Instead the house was tastefully decorated.

The couple made their way to the drawing room and found that Kreacher had anticipated them. A large bowl of mulled wine was on the sideboard with an assortment of small sandwiches, biscuits and cakes.

“This is lovely,” Ginny said with a smile. Harry looked over at her. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were shining. He couldn’t help himself; he leaned over and kissed her. “I love you.”

She smiled up at him. “I love you, too.” She laughed and pulled him closer to the low set table. “I want to decorate our tree.”

“Our tree,” Harry said with satisfaction. “I like the sound of that.”

Sitting down on the floor, they started sorting through the ornaments they’d purchased. Harry untangled the fairy lights. Touching them with his wand, the lights lit up. Together they levitated the fairy lights to wrap around the tree. It took a bit of adjustment and quite a bit of laughter, but eventually the lights were wrapped around the tree.

Harry was astonished to discover there was a spell to affix the ornaments to the trees instead of using the hooks he recalled his relatives using. Ginny also taught him spells to keep the tree upright and fireproof.

“My granny insisted on real candles in the Christmas tree,” Ginny laughed. “She said that’s how they did it when she was young.”

“I can’t even imagine,” Harry said shaking his head.

“I know,” she smiled. “That’s why Mum made sure all of us knew the spell for fireproofing the tree.”

When the grandfather clock in the foyer rang nine times, the mulled wine was gone, the food was seriously depleted, and the tree looked amazing. Harry looked over at his fiancée. “I think this has been the most perfect day I can remember.”

Ginny smiled as she leaned over and kissed him. “I agree.” Glancing at the door, she slid one hand up his chest and the other around his neck. “I hear that making love under a Christmas tree is the best way to celebrate Christmas.”

“Really?” Harry murmured as he pulled her close. After kissing her deeply, he used his wand to seal, lock, and sound proof the room. “You are always full of the best ideas.”

Ron checked his appearance in the mirror once again. His mother had cut his hair and he thought it was a bit too short, but it was too late to do anything about it now. Overall he felt he looked good. He’d used some of his earnings to buy some nice new clothes. He was happy to finally be able to purchase clothes that were of his choosing and bought for him, not one of his older brothers.

He was wearing a light blue shirt under a darker blue jumper and dark trousers. Hermione had commented once that she liked him in blue, so he tried to wear blue when he was going to see her. After brushing his hair one last time, he sat down on his bed to wait.
When the invitation to the Grangers’ house had first arrived, Ron was thrilled. Hermione’s parents were taking their relationship seriously, but he was also very nervous. What if he made a fool of himself? What if his parents did something embarrassing?

Shaking his head, he tried to reassure himself that everything would go well, but he couldn’t deny that he was nervous. He knew his table manners weren’t up to Hermione’s expectations. Silently he promised himself that he’d carefully watch his table manners and not shovel food in quickly and not talk with his mouthful. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just his manners he was worried about. His father tended to get overly excited about anything Muggle and the thought of spending an entire evening in a Muggle house had him very excited. As much as he loved his parents, he couldn’t deny that they weren’t as…sophisticated as Hermione’s parents were. He groaned. He really hoped everything would go well.

When his mum called, he headed downstairs. His heart sank when he saw his parents wearing their best robes. “Mum, we’re going to a Muggle house. Shouldn’t you be wearing Muggle clothes?”

“I’m not a Muggle,” she declared. “The Grangers know we are magical so there is no need to hide who and what we are. We were invited to a dinner party; I’m not going dressed as though I’m going to work in the garden.”

He watched as she added the witch’s hat the twins had given her a few Christmases ago. Mr Weasley spoke up, “I think your mother looks lovely.”

“Thank you, dear,” Mrs Weasley replied blushing in pleasure.

Realizing that continuing to argue would be churlish, he relented and said, “You do look nice, Mum.”

“Thank you,” she said. Seeing his expression, she added, “Don’t worry, Ron. I think it will be a fun evening.”

Hermione had given them coordinates so they could Apparate to the back garden of her parents’ house. Ron was happy he didn’t fall over as Harry had done when they first started Apparating. For the first time in weeks, he smiled at the thought of his best mate. He did miss hanging out with Harry.

Pushing that thought aside, he greeted Hermione with a hug and brief kiss before greeting her parents.

Hermione smiled proudly as her father explained the electric fairy lights to Mr Weasley. The two men were really a lot alike. Her father was as interested in the wizarding world as Mr Weasley was in the Muggle world. Her mother and Mrs Weasley had bonded over a love of cooking. She was happy to see her parents and Ron’s getting along so well.

She had to admit she was slightly concerned when they walked into the dining room for dinner. Her mother had gone all out in decorating what she called an appropriate holiday table. The table had a dark green table cloth with a gold runner. In the centre of the table was decorated with greenery and bows. There were two columns containing gold, red, and green ornaments as well as two tapered candles. Mrs Granger had set the table with holiday china.

Hermione could see Ron’s eyes widened in panic when he caught sight of the elegant table. She squeezed his hand in comfort. As they sat down, she heard him whisper softly, “Blimey.”

“What a beautiful table,” Mrs Weasley declared. Hermione had to admit she was a little surprised to see Mr and Mrs Weasley so at ease. Conversation flowed easily over dinner. Hermione told them about the Christmas Pantomime and how well it had been received by the students.

“That’s such a lovely idea,” Mr Weasley said. “Ginny said she had a wonderful time helping with the scenery.”

“It is fairly common for Muggle schools to have a Christmas Pantomime. Some schools have concerts and other entertainments put on by the students during the year,” Mrs Granger explained. “I was in band when I was in school. I played the flute.”

“I took music lessons when I was younger as well,” Mrs Weasley said in a pleased voice. “I played the violin and piano. I tried to teach my children, but I wasn’t very successful in that endeavour. Bill and Percy both learned to play violin and all of the children learned to dance, but most of my boys have been so active. Most of them would have loved to spend the time outside.”

“I didn’t know you could play the piano,” Ron said in amazement.

Mrs Weasley smiled. “I guess you were too young to remember when we used to go to my mother’s house. She had a lovely piano.”

“We still have the piano in storage,” Mr Weasley reminded her. “Maybe it is time to bring it back to the Burrow.”

Mrs Weasley’s smiled faltered for a minute. “I guess it wouldn’t be in danger of being destroyed now. Ginny always wanted to learn to play the piano when she was little. She loves music.”

“I was actually surprised she didn’t want to go out for the play,” Hermione said. “She’s so pretty and so confident.”

“Thank you, dear,” Mrs Weasley said, “that is very nice. She is very confident, but except for Quidditch she seems to like staying the background.”

“She and Harry have that in common,” Hermione commented quietly.

After their very enjoyable dinner, she and Ron helped her mother clear the table. To Hermione’s surprise, her mother was thrilled to allow Mrs Weasley to use magic to clean the dishes. It was both strange and rather wonderful to have her two worlds merging together so well. Taking advantage of the adults talking, she led Ron into the sitting room. It wasn’t truly private, but at least they could talk freely and they did manage to sneak in some kissing. It made for a memorable and amazing evening.

"No, Mum, you relax,” Bill insisted. “You prepared this amazing meal for us, the least we can do is clean up. You and Dad go relax.”

Mrs Weasley smiled up at her oldest son. “Thank you, dear.”

Leaning down, Bill kissed her on the cheek. “You’re welcome.”

Once Mr and Mrs Weasley left the kitchen, Bill organized his brothers, Fleur, and Hermione. Soon the food was being put away and the dishes were being washed.

“Where did Ginny go?” Hermione asked curiously. She knew Ginny hadn’t been thrilled that her fiancé wasn’t there for Christmas.

“She and George were talking,” Bill said. “I think they were going to the gravesite.”

“George seems to be doing better,” Hermione noted as she conjured up a dish towel.

“He is,” Bill agreed. “He’s been going to his support group regularly and I think meeting other people who have suffered similar losses has really helped him.”

“Indeed, he’s been much more focused and more like himself,” Percy observed. “We’re going to be opening our pizza parlour after the first of the year and he’s surprisingly good with the details.” Colouring slightly he added, “I think I’ve always underestimated them because of their tendency to pull pranks, but I’ve discovered that George is quite gifted in Potions and has quite a good business mind.”

Hermione looked a bit sceptical at Percy’s pronouncement, but she didn’t comment. It was Ron who spoke up. “George is really good with Potions and Charms. He’s pretty decent at explaining things too.”

Bill looked at his youngest brother. “We missed you last night. Harry, Ginny, and Kreacher had the house looking beautiful. We had a great dinner.”

“So did we,” Ron said a touch defiantly.

“’Arry was telling us about his first Christmas at ‘ogwarts,” Fleur said with a smile. “’e sounded zo ‘appy to get presents.”

Ron nodded. “I remember writing to Mum and telling her that he wasn’t expecting any Christmas presents. I didn’t know what she would do, but I was fairly sure she would send him something.” Ron smiled a touch nostalgically. “I will never forget the look on his face when he realized he had presents at the foot of his bed. He was thrilled with all of his presents — even Hagrid’s presents. He got his father’s Invisibility Cloak that year. I guess Professor Dumbledore had borrowed it for some reason. Harry was beyond thrilled to have something from his parents. His horrid relatives never talked about Harry’s mum and dad. Before Hagrid made Harry the photo album of his parents, Harry had never even seen a picture of his parents before.”

Bill laughed. “Professor Dumbledore gave an eleven year old an Invisibility Cloak. What mischief did you get up to with that?”

“That year not much,” Ron laughed. “We were trying to figure out who Flammel was that Christmas. Harry explored quite a bit, he invited me some as well, but I think he liked having something that was just his.”

“Isn’t that when you found the Mirror of Erised?” Hermione asked.

Ron nodded and told to his brothers about the mirror and his and Harry’s experiences with it. Blushing he recalled how he’d seen himself as Head Boy and Quidditch Captain. “Poor Harry,” Ron sighed. “I didn’t realize how much he really wanted a family. I never thought about it having so much family as we do. I couldn’t really comprehend not having anyone. Harry kept going back to the mirror. I couldn’t really say why, but I was glad when he stopped going back there.”

“It sounds like you had fun,” Percy commented.

“We had a great time that Christmas,” Ron agreed. “Remember there weren’t very many people staying that year — I think the five of us were the only ones in the tower. We sat around the fire.” He laughed. “We loved sitting in front of the fire — as first years we didn’t get to sit in front of the fire much. We toasted all sorts of things over the flames — toast, sausages, marshmallows. We were so lazy; we would eat until we couldn’t move. It was a great holiday.”

“I remember coming back from Christmas at my parents’ house thinking I’d missed out on all sorts of fun,” Hermione said with a smile. “The next year I insisted that I be allowed to spend Christmas at Hogwarts.”

“So to celebrate, we snuck into the Slytherin common room using illegally brewed Polyjuice Potion,” Ron teased.


Ron looked around in surprise at his brothers who were staring at him and Hermione in shock. Bill spoke up. “You snuck into the Slytherin common room using Polyjuice Potion — in your second year?” At Ron’s nod, Bill asked, “Why?”

“We were certain that Draco Malfoy had something to do with the Chamber of Secrets,” Hermione explained. “Our plan was to trick Malfoy into telling us what was happening — obviously that didn’t work. It was still a fun Christmas.”

“I thought ‘ogwarts was lovely at Christmas time,” Fleur said. “It was much colder zan I was used to, but eet was beautiful. Zat was actually my first Christmas away from home. At Beauxbatons we went home for Christmas.”

“We only spent one Christmas here at the Burrow,” Ron said. “I kept forgetting to tell Harry that he was invited for Christmas. He was a bit upset thinking he was going to have to stay at Hogwarts by himself.”

He frowned for a moment. “This is the second Christmas in a row I’ve not spent with Harry. It seems a bit odd.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Bill said. “I know he would love to see you.”

“He’s probably mad at me,” Ron said. He looked down at the now empty kitchen sink. “I really messed up.”

Abruptly Ron left the room. Hermione started to go after him, but Bill stopped her. “Let me go.”

As much as she wanted to argue that she knew what Ron needed, she reluctantly agreed. Grabbing two cloaks from the wall, Bill headed outside. He found Ron in the back garden. After casting a warming charm on the cloak, he handed it to his brother before putting on the other one himself.

“Thanks,” Ron muttered.

“He’s not mad so much as confused,” Bill said quietly.

There was a long silence and just when Bill was about to give up hope, Ron spoke up. “I want to fix this, but I don’t know how. I’ve been so angry at him and it’s taken me a while to realize that it wasn’t really him I was angry at — I was just taking it out on him. What kind of person does that make me?”

“A human one,” Bill said gently. “Ron, Harry knows you’ve been grieving and trying to deal with everything that’s happened. Have you thought more about what we talked about at my party?”

Ron nodded and Bill could see the tips of his ears darken. “Charlie was right. I never really thought about how all of Harry’s losses affected him. I was caught up in the adventure of it all and I didn’t stop and think about him. The summer we went to Grimmauld Place…I was actually still jealous that Harry had this great adventure and fought off You-Know-Who again. He was a hero while I was stuck in the stands.”

He shook his head in disgust. “How shallow and immature could I be? I never thought about what it cost him. I knew about the nightmares and his seeing into You-Know-Who’s mind, but he seemed to handle everything.”

“Ron, you were just a kid and a rather sheltered one at that,” Bill said.

“I know,” Ron sighed. Glancing at the Burrow to make sure no one was looking out the windows; Ron pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he blew out the smoke.

Wrinkling his nose, Bill took a step backwards, but didn’t comment on the smoking. Ron looked over at his oldest brother. “I miss my best mate. Some many times over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reminded of him or I’ll think of something I want to tell him. I just don’t know how to tell him that I’m sorry I’ve been a stupid prat.”

“Just saying that would be a good start.”

The two Weasley boys wheeled around at the quiet voice behind them. There stood Harry. He was dressed in warm Muggle clothing and his cheeks were pink as though he’d been outside for a while.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop or anything,” Harry said quietly. “I was coming over to say goodnight to Ginny.”

Bill nodded and drifted back to the house. When he walked in without Ron, Hermione asked anxiously, “Where is he? Is he alright?”

Nodding, Bill gestured to the kitchen window. The two best mates could be seen deep in conversation near the large oak tree. Hermione gasped, “Is that Harry?”

“Yes, he came to say goodnight to Ginny,” Bill explained.

Hermione bit her lip nervously as she watched the two friends talking. “I should go out there.”

“No!” Bill, Charlie, and Percy all yelled.

“But…but Ron might say something he doesn’t mean or…I should be out there,” Hermione said trying to persuade the brothers.

Bill put his hand on her arm. “Hermione, they need to work this out for themselves.”


“Hermione, they have been friends and best mates since they were eleven. Ron needs to be able to do this himself.”

Reluctantly Hermione agreed. She hovered near the window watching them for a few minutes before Arthur called her away to ask her a question about her parents’ house. She ended up having an enjoyable conversation with Mr Weasley until a red faced, but somehow more content Ron came back into the house.

“How did it go?” Ginny asked the next afternoon when she joined Harry for lunch.

He shrugged. “We talked. I think that was good. I think he finally realizes that I’m not against him. He’s working through everything. I was surprised to hear he was going to counselling. Merlin knows he hates talking about his feelings.”

“Bill said he practically had to restrain Hermione to keep her from going out to join the two of you,” Ginny said as she sipped her juice.

“I’m glad he did,” Harry said. “Ron would have stopped talking if she’d joined us. I know she means well, but she tends to take over conversations and if she’d done that it would have stopped ours. I’m going to stop by the shop and go out to lunch with Ron and George next week.”

“What’s wrong, love?” Ginny asked gently.

Harry turned a troubled face her direction. “Am I being too hard on him? I’ve never required an apology from him before.”

“I think he needs to apologize,” Ginny replied honestly. “I know this is hard for you, but you aren’t doing him any favours by letting him treat you the way he has been and just accepting him back into your life. Yes, he was grieving and should be allowed a bit of leeway, but he went way beyond what he should have. Yes it is fine to go out drinking with your friends, but he thought nothing of pulling you out of bed night after night and having you pay his bar tabs. He didn’t respect your no smoking rule even though he was staying rent free in your house. I think you are perfectly justified in requiring an apology.”

Harry sighed. “I hate being at odds with him and to a lesser extent Hermione.”

“I know,” Ginny said as she reached out and laid her hand on his arm. “I know this has been hard on all of you. I think he’s finally starting to come around.”

“Has he said anything to you?”

“I think he wants to, but he’s not said anything,” she replied. Changing the subject, she asked, “How was Teddy’s first Christmas?”

Harry’s face lit up as he thought about his godson. “It was brilliant!”

Over lunch, Harry told her all about Teddy’s first Christmas. “I think poor Mrs Tonks had a few crying episodes, but she tried her best to make sure Teddy had an amazing Christmas. He loved the Christmas tree with all of the lights. He’s crawling around really well now and he kept crawling around the tree. He’s babbling quite a bit as well, it’s really cute. Mrs Tonks sent pictures over this morning. I’ll show you after lunch. Kreacher has already labelled them and put them in an album for me.”

He blushed slightly. “I wanted to buy him the whole toy shop, but then I remembered how spoiled my cousin is and I don’t want that for Teddy. After talking to Mrs Tonks, I got him a rocking horse and a dragon pull toy that makes noises and lights up when you push the buttons. It’s really cool, the dragon will breath different coloured flames every once in a while.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Ginny smiled. “I’m really proud of you for not buying him everything just because you can.”

“Thank you,” he replied a bit bashfully. “I had fun playing with him with his new toys. If I’d bought him a ton of toys, he’d have been like my cousin and broken or ignored most of them.” He grinned at her. “I liked the stuffed fire-crab you sent over for him. He tried to change his hair into the different colours he saw on the shell.”

“Thanks,” Ginny said with satisfaction. “Tonks once told me that she used to look around the house and try to change colours to match various things in the house. I thought the fire-crab would be a good challenge for him. I imagine he won’t be able to change most of the colours for years, but it seemed like fun.”

“I wish I’d known Tonks better,” Harry said. “It sounds like you got to know fairly well.”

“That summer we were at Grimmauld Place,” Ginny explained. “The twins were busy with their plans for their shop and Ron and Hermione were too busy arguing with each other to talk to me. Sirius and Tonks were great. They talked to me and listened to me. Tonks and I became really close. She was so great to talk to and I think she appreciated having another girl to talk to. She and Hermione were cordial enough, but they weren’t really friendly like Tonks and I were.”

“That’s wonderful,” Harry smiled. “You will have to tell Teddy stories about his mum as he gets older. I know some stories about Remus and about the Marauders, but not much about Tonks. Of course Mrs Tonks has stories about her daughter, but having stories from a friend would be nice as well.”

“I would be happy to tell Teddy stories,” Ginny reassured him.

Hermione finished cleaning the cauldron she’d been used and after drying it, she put it away. Looking around the kitchen counters, she could see the racks of potion vials that she and Mrs Weasley had spent the morning brewing. She’d been thrilled and a bit honoured that Mrs Weasley asked for her help. The pair had spent a lovely morning brewing potions and talking about Ron.

It was a unique opportunity for Hermione. When she’d been younger, she’d spent many an hour discussing Ron and Harry with Ginny, but it was very different talking to Mrs Weasley. Unlike Ginny, Mrs Weasley was a bit more tolerant of Ron's shortcomings and more positive that Ron would continue to grow and mature. Hermione had been afraid that once she and Ron announced their relationship, Mrs Weasley would be pushing them to marry, but to her surprise Mrs Weasley was very supportive of them taking their time.

“Do you need me to do anything else, Mrs Weasley?” Hermione asked.

“No, dear,” Mrs Weasley replied cheerfully. “Thank you so much for all of your help. None of my boys have ever enjoyed making potions, so this way rather a treat for me.”

“You’re welcome,” Hermione said in a pleased tone of voice.

“I think Ronnie was headed out to the Quidditch paddock if you were looking for him.”

“Thanks,” Hermione said as she pulled on her cloak and headed outside. It was a crisp sunny day with very little wind so it wasn’t as cold as it might have been. She made her way through the garden and on to the paddock. As she approached the paddock, she smelled a faint odour of tobacco. Wrinkling her nose, she looked around.

To her shock, Ron was leaning up against the fence lighting a cigarette. While she’d heard Harry mention Ron was smoking, she thought he’d been exaggerating.


He started guiltily when he heard his name. Upon seeing her, his eyes widened and he dropped the cigarette crushing it under the heel of his boot. “Her-Hermione, I wasn’t expecting you out here.”

“What are you doing smoking?” Hermione demanded ignoring his comment.

“It’s just a habit I picked up,” Ron protested. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Not a big deal?” Hermione couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Ron, smoking is not only a disgusting habit, it can kill you!”

He rolled his eyes. “Give me a break, Hermione. How can smoking kill you?”

“How can smoking kill you?” Hermione asked shrilly. “It causes cancer — lung cancer, throat cancer, and I know there are other types of cancer caused by smoking.”

“Cancer? I’ve never heard of it,” Ron retorted. “It’s probably just a Muggle thing.”

“How do you know?” Hermione asked. “Smoking is a horrible habit to start and I really think you need to quit.”

“Why? Because you don’t like it? Are you going to start getting on my case all the time, too?”

“Ron, please, I’m very worried about you. Smoking is dangerous. Why did you even start smoking? I’ve never seen anyone smoking in the wizarding world.”

Ron shrugged, but wouldn’t meet her eyes. “It’s just a habit I picked up.”

“With the drinking?”

“Hermione, come on, I don’t need to be hassled by you too. Yes, I started drinking probably more than I should and I started smoking. It’s not a big deal. All of the girls smoke.”

“What girls?” Hermione asked suspiciously.

Ron winced, he hadn’t meant to bring up the girls. “They are just girls who work in the shops on Diagon Alley. They are very friendly and have been going out with me and George. Please, Hermione, I don’t want to fight about this.”

“I just hate to think of you smoking,” Hermione said stubbornly. “It’s a filthy habit.”

Ron sighed. He rather knew this was coming. “Okay, Hermione. I will stop smoking.”

“Just like that?” she asked in surprise.

“Yes, I know Harry and my brothers have complained about it. I figured I would need to quit eventually.” He pulled a half empty crumpled pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and vanished it. Reaching into his pocket he found a package of peppermint creams in special Christmas shapes. After popping one in the mouth, he offered one to Hermione who refused.

“Thank you,” Hermione said softly.

“I’m sorry for upsetting you,” Ron replied as he hugged her gently. “You are my rock. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Back to index

Chapter 22: Chapter 22 New Year's Eve

Author's Notes: Sorry for the very long wait. I hope you enjoy this update. Harry's family information as related by Silverblade is his actual family history per JKR. Nigel Potter is my invention. I remember reading somewhere that a British PM was the fifth cousin once removed to the Queen. I thought it was funny that such a tenuous relationship would even be remarked on. Thanks to my betas Arnel and Steph and my Brit picker Mark!

Narcissa stormed into the breakfast room the day after Boxing Day and was relieved to find her son alone. “What the hell are you doing?”

Reaching out for another piece of toast, Draco replied, “What are you talking about?”

To most people, his bored drawl would indicate boredom, but Narcissa detected a touch of fear in his voice. “I visited Irma Parkinson yesterday. She was telling me that ‘the children’ will be getting revenge against Potter on the Dark Lord’s birthday.”

Draco smiled. “We will.”

A crack sounded loud in the quiet room as Narcissa smacked her son across the face. Before he could react, she pulled her wand and Disarmed him. “You foolish, foolish boy! Did you learn nothing?”

“But…what are you talking about?”

“Your father and the Dark Lord were always going on about getting Potter. Where did it get them? Your father is in prison. The Dark Lord is dead. My sister is dead.”

“Exactly! We must avenge them!”

Rolling her eyes, Narcissa dropped into the chair across from her son. “What is your brilliant plan? You are going to kidnap or kill Potter or his whore and what?”

Draco frowned at his mother. “What do you mean?”

“What is your plan for after this revenge? Is Potter going to forget about you and let you live here? Are you going on the run? Is this a suicide mission?”

“Potter will be so broken up he won’t know what to do,” Draco said scornfully. “He’ll never know it was us.”

“Please tell me you’re joking. Did he fall apart after Sirius died? Did he fall apart after Dumbledore died? No! He’s not going to fall apart now. If you kill him, you will be hunted for the rest of your life. If you kill his who