|SIYE Time:2:14 on 25th September 2017|
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 78809; Chapter Total: 4140
Awards: View Trophy Room
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.
“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.
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.”
“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.
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