|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: 78810; Chapter Total: 4211
Awards: View Trophy Room
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.”
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!”
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?”
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.
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