|SIYE Time:9:56 on 21st June 2018|
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: 86648; Chapter Total: 4088
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you to my betas StephanieO and seekers_destiny for their hard work! The summary of 'The Fair Fortune' and the story about this first time it was used as a Christmas Pantomime were taken from The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. A special thank you to Mark for his suggestion of the Christmas Pantomime.
Harry and Ron made quite the contrast as they made their way to their seats at the Quidditch stadium. Harry was wearing a blue and gold Puddlemere shirt while Ron was decked out in head to toe with Cannons’ orange. Harry had to resist the urge to shade his eyes every time he looked over at his best mate, but when he saw the awed look on Ron’s face he couldn’t help but smile.
Harry was rather excited himself as this was the first regular season professional Quidditch match he had ever attended. A majority of the crowd were wearing the blue and gold of Puddlemere, but Ron was not alone in his loyalty to the worst team in professional Quidditch. Sprinkled in among all of the blue and gold were pockets of shocking orange.
The pair was loaded down with souvenirs purchases from the many kiosks and carts around the arena. Harry had purchased a programme, a new Puddlemere jersey, and one of the new Harpies’ jerseys for Ginny. To his surprise, Ron had managed to find some Cannons memorabilia he didn’t already own.
“I can’t believe you’re rooting against the Cannons,” Ron griped as they took their seats.
Harry shook his head. “I’ve never really liked the Cannons and I’m not going to root against Oliver. He was my first Quidditch captain.”
“But it’s the Cannons,” Ron argued weakly. He had never really spoken to Oliver. Oliver was Percy’s age and quite frankly he rather intimidated Ron. He couldn’t imagine being on Oliver’s Quidditch team. Angelina had been terrifying enough as a Quidditch captain and Oliver was rumoured to have been much worse.
Ron sat down and looked out at the crowd. While it was not as impressive as the World Cup had been, it was still amazing. The advertisement boards across the pitch were advertising everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans to Gladrags Wizardwear.
“Do you think we could advertise here?” Ron asked Harry. He flipped through the programme that he’d purchased as they’d walked through the gates. The Cannons’ portion of the programme was a bit light on advertising. “I bet we could make some sort of deal to help sponsor the programme and advertise during the games.”
“That’s a good idea,” Harry said. He started laughing. “I bet you could get a great deal, I mean who wants to sponsor the Cannons?”
The announcement of the teams prevented Ron from retaliating. Ron jumped up and down whistling and screaming with the rest of the Cannons’ fans as the team was announced. Harry was much more restrained. He clapped for all of the team members, but he did get a bit loud when they announced Oliver. It was amazing to him that a friend of his was playing professional Quidditch. As he listened to the crowd cheering for Oliver, he did have to admit he was rather envious.
The speed of the game was exhilarating and made Harry itch to get into the air. He’d bought himself a new Firebolt, but hadn’t had much time to fly. Watching the match made him determined to find some time in the next week to get out and fly. Oliver was doing well, but Harry could tell his former captain was not really being challenged. He didn’t let any Quaffles through. At the end of a mercifully quick twenty-two minutes, the Puddlemere Seeker caught the Snitch. Harry had seen the Snitch a good minute before either of the Seekers had seen it.
“Oliver, you were great!” Harry said as he greeted the man at the local pub after the match.
Oliver shrugged as he shook Harry’s hand. “Thanks, but it’s the Cannons.”
Harry snickered as Ron tried to fade into the background, rather an impossibility while wearing all orange. “It made me want get out and fly.”
“If you ever get tired of saving the world let me know,” Oliver laughed. “I will be more than happy to get you a try-out with any team you want. Any team would be thrilled to have you. I know our Seeker isn’t nearly as good as you are and I think you could give any Seeker a challenge.” Harry blushed, pleased with the compliments while Oliver gestured towards Ron. “I hope you aren’t a huge fan of the Cannons.”
Rolling his eyes, Harry said, “No, Ron is a huge Cannon’s fan, but not me.” Looking over at his best mate he teased, “I like teams that actually win.”
Ron made a face back at him, but didn’t say anything. He was still rather intimidated by Oliver and marvelled at Harry’s easy friendship with the man. Ron knew that Harry really appreciated the fact that Oliver wasn’t fazed by the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense, what counted with Oliver was Quidditch talent — something Harry had in spades.
As Oliver headed back to join his teammates, Ron asked Harry, “Do you ever regret not going for a Quidditch career?”
“Sometimes,” Harry admitted. “I love flying and I love playing Quidditch, but I don’t think I’d feel right playing Quidditch while there are still Death Eaters out there.” He slanted a look over at Ron. “What about you?”
“No,” Ron shook his head. “Don’t get me wrong, I would love to play professional Quidditch, but I was watching them out there today. I don’t think I could play at that level and I don’t think I would like all of the travel that comes with it.” He laughed. “You know how nervous I would get before games. I just don’t think I’m cut out for professional Quidditch.” He shrugged, “That’s okay, I’m happy working for George.”
Their conversation was interrupted as a flirtatious blonde approached. “Hi, I couldn’t help but notice the two of you were standing here by yourselves. Why don’t you come join me and my friends? We can show you how to celebrate a good Quidditch victory.”
Harry started backing up as soon as she started talking. Rolling his eyes he had to wonder why these girls kept approaching him. He looked over at Ron who seemed to be fixated on the assets the girl was flaunting.
Frowning he said rather sharply, “Ron!”
Blushing, Ron turned to look at him before turning back to the girl. “Sorry, we can’t join you.”
The girl seemed encouraged by the fact that he’d spoken to her and sidled up closer, placing her hand on Ron’s arm. “Are you sure? We could just have a drink. I saw the two of you at the game and we recognized both of you.” The girl blushed prettily. “You are such heroes and so amazing. We just wanted to thank you.”
“No,” Harry said firmly. “We both have girlfriends.”
“Harry, you don’t have to be so rude,” Ron said glaring at him. He turned to the girl with a smile. “I’m Ron Weasley.”
The girl giggled annoyingly. “I’m Emily Phillips.”
Harry watched in disbelief as Ron walked with Emily over to her table and greeted the other girls sitting there. After a few minutes, Ron strutted back over to where Harry was still sitting at the bar. Ron seemed very pleased with himself.
Glaring at his best mate, Harry asked, “Why the hell did you encourage her? If you talk to them they just follow you all night.”
“Sorry,” Ron said sarcastically, not sounding at all like he meant it. “She was just being friendly. Why do you have to be so rude?”
“Rude? These girls are only talking to us because they think we’re famous or something,” Harry said angrily. “I don’t want girls fawning over me because they want to be seen with me or something stupid like that. Plus I don’t want Ginny seeing pictures of me with another girl and getting the wrong idea.”
Ron shook his head. “You can still be friendly. So these girls wouldn’t have given us the time of day a few years ago, they are now. It’s fun. You can at least talk to them.”
“Somehow I don’t think it was talking that they had in mind,” Harry replied.
Ron shrugged, “So what?” Looking over at the bartender, Ron signalled for another round. “Harry, mate, you need to learn to relax and have fun. Not everything needs to be so serious. Spending time talking to a few pretty girls isn’t the end of the world.”
To Harry’s relief, Ron ignored most of the girls after that. Harry hated the attention that he received and he really didn’t understand why Ron enjoyed it so much.
“This microwave thingy sounds really handy,” Ginny remarked, pronouncing the unfamiliar word carefully.
Hermione shrugged, obviously not nearly as impressed with the gadget as Ginny was. “My mum loves to cook so she usually uses it to heat up left overs and of course for popcorn.”
“So you freeze foods and keep them in the freezer then use the microwave to heat them up later, right?”
Hermione nodded. Ginny sighed; Hermione had been like this all weekend. “Hermione, please, just go talk to him. Professor Irving seems like a reasonable man.”
“Of course you would say so,” Hermione snapped. “He gives you Os.”
“I earned an O with a well written essay that followed his rules,” Ginny countered. “You are just getting angrier and angrier and not getting anything done.”
“Fine,” Hermione snapped. “Fine, I will go talk to Professor Irving, but I still think the man is unprofessional and I don’t think he is qualified to teach this class. After all, he didn’t live here during the war so he doesn’t know what it was like.”
Rolling her eyes, Ginny watched as Hermione stomped out of the common room. She really hoped that Hermione would just talk to the professor. While she could understand Hermione being upset at her grade, Professor Irving had given them plenty of warning. Hermione and several of the Ravenclaws had failed to heed his warnings about editing the information they were providing.
Ginny really didn’t understand why. Hermione tried to explain, but what it sounded like to Ginny was Hermione had decided that the rules were for others. Obviously you wouldn’t want to read through a long poorly written essay, but if it was well written it was okay if it was longer. That honestly didn’t make a lot of sense to Ginny, but she kept her opinion to herself.
Instead, she pulled out Harry’s latest letter. She was rather jealous. He’d gone to a professional Quidditch match with Ron and it sounded amazing. He promised to take her to a match over the Easter holiday. The day after the match, there had been pictures in the paper of Harry and Alicia Spinnet as well as one of Harry talking to a pretty blonde. Ginny thought it was rather funny how Hermione still reacted to the pictures by reassuring Ginny she had nothing to worry about.
She didn’t know how to explain to Hermione that she didn’t worry about Harry talking to girls. She trusted him and knew he would never do anything to hurt her. She just really missed him and wished she was the one who was with him. She would have loved to have gone with Harry to his first professional Quidditch match, but she couldn’t begrudge him the happiness he had sharing that experience with Ron.
Hermione on the other hand was still rather angry by the time she reached Professor Irving’s office. Before she could think the better of it, she knocked loudly on the door.
She entered the room and even though she was still angry, she found herself looking around the room curiously. Unlike Harry, she didn’t have a lot of experience in getting called into a professor’s office so she was rather curious, but for once she reigned in her curiosity.
“Miss Granger, please come in and sit down,” Professor Irving said from his spot behind his desk.
Hermione hurried over and did as she was bid. “Thank you, sir.”
“I am assuming you wanted to speak to me about your essay.”
“Yes, sir,” Hermione said.
To her frustration, before she could start explaining he held up his hand. “Please, Miss Granger, let me explain my rationale first.”
Nodding rather unwillingly, Hermione listened.
“I am trying to prepare you and your class for the real world. I want you to understand the concepts I am presenting and I highly encourage research. I vary my requirement for essays to show you that under different circumstances, different responses are appropriate.
“You have an in depth research project due in December, but for most of your weekly essays I am looking to see how concisely you can provide information. If you have a job and your employer asks for a summary on a certain topic how do you think they would react if you provided an in depth exploration of that topic?”
“They would be upset,” Hermione conceded.
“Exactly,” Professor Irving replied. “You will be called upon to write reports or summarize information or any variety of tasks. What is it you wish to do when you graduate?”
“I want to work to better the conditions for house elves,” Hermione said firmly.
“Excellent,” Professor Irving replied. “That is also a wonderful example. If you are trying to persuade someone to change a law or change conditions, do you think providing them with a long winded essay would help change their minds?”
“If it showed them the error of their ways, yes,” Hermione defended herself. “Sometimes a topic needs to be explored fully and if you don’t provide the pertinent information it wouldn’t be a complete explanation.”
“You said it yourself — provide pertinent information. If you provide members of the Wizengamot with a long well researched essay on house elves to change their minds I guarantee most of them wouldn’t even look at it. They would open it see how long it is and toss it on their desk.”
“So I should just give up?” Hermione was scandalized at the thought.
“No, you provide a brief summary of your points,” Professor Irving replied. “That is what they will read. Your well researched essay will be used to back up your points. It provides the foundation of your work, but as most people won’t read three scrolls worth of information you need to edit the information you provide.”
Hermione stared at him. “So…wait so you are saying that I can do the research and just give them the short version.”
“When that is called for,” Professor Irving replied. “There are always places for well written research. Journals are always looking for well researched, well written treatises on any number of topics, but for every day most people are looking for the short version. That doesn’t mean incomplete or poorly written, it just means concise.”
As Hermione thought over what the professor said, she started nodding. “That does make sense.”
Professor Irving smiled. “Good, then my point was made. I set the length of my essays for a reason and I expect them to be followed. It might interest you to know that I plan to drop everyone’s lowest grade meaning your lowest grade will be dismissed and will not count in your final grade.”
Hermione sagged against her chair in relief. “Thank you, sir.” She looked at him in confusion. “Why didn’t you just say that in class?”
“Because you weren’t ready to hear it then,” he replied. “I wanted to be certain to talk to everyone who was having trouble with my rules first; otherwise you might just continue to do the same thing over and over again.”
Blushing slightly, Hermione admitted to herself she might have done that in an attempt to prove she was correct. Out loud she said, “Thank you, sir.”
“You are quite welcome, Miss Granger,” he replied. “I expect to see your same excellent work, but in the quantities I request in the future.”
“I will do that,” she said.
She left the room in a much better mood than she’d arrived.
Harry and the other Auror trainees headed into the large training room to find both Dawlish and Williamson talking to a man Harry didn’t recognize. Arrayed against the front of the room were all sorts of guns — rifles, revolvers, automatic weapons as well as explosive devices such as grenades. Harry didn’t even know what most of the weapons were, but he thought they were all Muggle. It reminded Harry of some of the movies Dudley used to watch when they showed rooms full of weapons.
“Dad!” Michael exclaimed as he walked in.
The man Harry didn’t know turned and smiled at Michael, greeting him with a warm handshake. Terry also greeted Michael’s father while the others took their seats. Michael and Terry hurried to do the same.
Auror Dawlish greeted them all and introduced Michael’s father. “Trainees, this is Stewart Hill, Trainee Corner’s stepfather. He is a Muggle and he is a policeman. Today he is going to talk to us about Muggle weapons.”
“Muggle weapons?” Susan Bones spoke up. “Why do we need to know about Muggle weapons?”
Williamson smiled. “I am glad you asked, Miss Bones.” The man walked over to the table displaying some of the smaller handguns and picked one up. “Miss Bones, do you know what this is?”
She shook her head. Williamson replied. “That lack of knowledge can kill you.” He turned to Mr Hill. “Can you show them?”
“Certainly,” Mr Hill replied. He took the gun from Auror Williamson and after aiming the gun at the side wall where targets had been set up, he shot the gun. With the crack of the gunshot all of the class jumped. The bullet hit the target dead on in the centre.
Setting the gun down on the table, Mr Hill turned to the class. “That is a handgun. It can shoot and kill a person in seconds.” Gesturing to the weapons arrayed behind him, he said, “All of these weapons can kill and unfortunately these are not all of the weapons available.”
“But surely a Muggle weapon can’t kill a witch or wizard,” Susan protested.
Mr Hill didn’t answer her directly, but instead turned to his son. “Michael, didn’t you tell me you can form some sort of shield?”
Michael nodded and stood to join his father. After Michael cast a protective shield on the target, Mr Hill fired again. The bullet tore through the shield and hit the target without difficulty. Susan and Katie both gasped as the demonstration.
Into the shocked silence Dawlish said, “Many good Aurors have been lost to the guns and other weapons of Muggles. Usually because they don’t recognize the danger facing them until it is too late. I expect every one of you to take this class very seriously. The knowledge you learn here can save your life out in the field.”
“So if a shield won’t stop it, what can we do?” Katie asked.
Mr Hill looked around the class. “Does anyone have a thought?”
Slowly Harry raised his hand. Mr Hill nodded, “Yes, go ahead.”
“You could change the bullets into something else,” Harry offered. “I’m not exactly sure how it would work, but you could transfigure them into something or you could conjure up something that would protect you like that protective gear — I’m not sure what it’s called, the stuff that makes bullet proof vests.”
Mr Hill laughed. “Kevlar, yes you could use Kevlar to stop the bullet. I like the idea of changing the bullet into something, but timing would be critical. I’ve spent some time speaking with Aurors Dawlish and Williamson and they explained some of the magic that could be used. The issue is if you wait until the gun is fired, you will have to block it.”
Seamus raised his hand. “Could you transfigure the gun into something else?”
“Give it a try,” Dawlish suggested.
Nodding Seamus transfigured the gun into a plastic toy. He relaxed when he saw he’d been able to do
“Excellent,” Dawlish praised.
The class that followed was one of the most challenging Harry had taken. They learned about Muggle weapons and how they worked. Mr Hill had all of the trainees learn how to shoot the guns and how to recognize a gun. Harry found he was quite adept at spotting a concealed weapon while Michael was the best at recognizing what type of firearm they were facing.
After learning about guns, they practiced transfiguring them and blocking bullets. Not all of their attempts were successful, but overall the group did well. For Harry, the most entertaining moment came when Susan transfigured a group of grenades into ferrets. The cute furry creatures scampered around the room until Susan Vanished them.
That night Harry was enthusiastically telling Ginny all about their class. “It just makes so much sense to work with Muggle Law Enforcement. I know we need to maintain the Statute of Secrecy, but there is so much good we could do if we worked together.”
“I think you’re right,” Ginny agreed. “We are learning so much in our Muggle studies class. So many witches and wizards think that Muggles are little better than animals and they aren’t. In some ways they are so much further ahead of us. I mean Muggles have all of these amazing machines and they explore so much. In the Wizarding world we don’t try to progress, we try to keep things the same. Muggles are curious and try to invent new technologies while we don’t encourage inventing new spells.”
“That’s a really good point,” Harry said. “I think we'll be working with both Muggle and Wizarding
technologies. We’ll be learning to drive a car and we’ll all be getting our driver’s licenses. I asked and I’ll be able to get my motorcycle license as well. In November we’ll be taking a week long seminar in forensics offered by Scotland Yard. I can’t wait, that sounds so cool. Mr Choudry said after we learn Muggle forensics we will learn Wizarding forensics so we can work both Muggle and Wizarding crime scenes. It will really help with interacting with our Muggle counterparts. Mr Hill is very smart and he’s helping us a lot. He’s helping to revamp our curriculum so we can learn the best parts of both types of investigating.”
Ginny smiled as she listened to Harry talk. She loved listening to him when he was so enthusiastic and happy. “What are forensics? I’ve heard you mention them before, but I don’t know what it means.”
“Oh, sorry,” Harry said with a contrite smile. “It is the scientific tests used in investigating crimes. Muggles use things like fingerprints, pictures of the crime scene and they can find out lots of things from blood. It’s amazing they can tell if a blood drop is made from dripping or splattering or whatever. Wizarding forensics can detect what spells have been cast in an area and there are ways to detect Apparition or the use of Portkeys. It’s really fascinating. Michael’s really good at explaining that sort of stuff to the rest of us who haven’t been around it as much.”
“That’s great,” Ginny said. “I never realized what his dad did for a living. I knew his dad was a Muggle, but I don’t think I knew he was a policeman.” A noise behind her made her turn. She groaned. “The girls are starting to come up to get ready for bed. I guess I should as well.”
Harry didn’t look any happier than she did. “Okay, my love. I miss you.”
She smiled at him. “I miss you too and I really wish I could be there with you. I love you. I’ll see you on Friday.”
“See you Friday, love.”
Ginny shivered as she waited for Professor Irving to open the large chest that was sitting on the raised platform at the front of the room. She hated Dementors and although she knew that what Professor Irving had in the chest wasn’t a Dementor, it provoked the same reactions in people.
As she waited for everyone to fill into the classroom, she thought back to that first horrible time on the train. She’d been scared and nervous about going back to school in the first place. Her memories of her whole first year were rather hazy and she didn’t know how her ‘victims’ were going to react to her.
She could still remember the heart breaking feeling when Ron told her to go away on the train. Over the summer her brothers had assured her they would be there for her, but at the first test Ron had sent her away. Even with his admonishment, when the horrible cold feeling came over the train she hurried to Ron’s compartment.
As the Dementor came into the compartment, she had become lost in the feelings of horror that Tom created in her. While she had not passed out like Harry had, she sat shaking and lost for the rest of the trip.
The sound of the door closing brought her back to the present. Nervously she looked over at Hermione who seemed rather unconcerned at the thought of the Dementor. With a sigh she wished she could be as calm and collected as Hermione appeared.
After Professor Irving reviewed Dementors and how to combat them, he had them queue up to face the faux Dementor. Ginny found herself towards the front of the line. Luna and Demelza didn’t seem to have any trouble with the faux Dementor — their Patronuses chased away it without a problem.
Hermione was in front of Ginny and to Ginny’s eye Hermione was calm, cool, and collected. She stepped to the front of the room, her wand held in front of her and her stance perfect. As the chest opened and the faux Dementor flew out, Ginny saw a slight hesitation in Hermione’s actions. After a pause, Hermione called out, “Expecto Patronum!”
Her otter flew out of her wand and the illusion was dispelled. Hermione relaxed slightly and joined her classmates on the other side of the classroom. Madam Florence, the therapist, was waiting with a huge hunk of chocolate. She was chipping off pieces of chocolate for each student.
Ginny focused on the chest and took a deep breath. Taking a moment, she looked down at her ring and thought of Harry. Even the thought of him centred her and helped her calm down. She could do this. Nodding at Professor Irving, she gripped her wand tightly.
The horribly familiar cold settled into her bones and a wave of discontent ran through her. What did Harry even see in her? He was so extraordinary and she was so common. So often she felt like she was holding him back, how long would it be until he felt the same way?
She could see the black, hooded creature coming closer. The sound of Professor McGonagall’s scream when she saw Harry’s limp body in Hagrid’s arms echoed in Ginny’s mind.
With a sense of relief she watched her doe chase the faux Dementor back into the chest. A bit shakily, she walked over to the other side of the class room and gratefully accepted some chocolate from Madam Florence.
At the end of class, Ginny hurried out of the classroom and quickly made her way to Professor McGonagall’s office. To her delight, Harry was already heading down the corridor. She threw herself into his arms.
He held her tightly. “What’s wrong, love?”
“Dementors,” she mumbled.
He wrapped his arms around her and held her as she soaked in the feeling of security he always evoked in her. Cuddling in Harry’s arms worked better then chocolate and after a few minutes she pulled back slightly and smiled up at him.
“Thank you,” she said as she leaned up and kissed him. “I hate Dementors, even if they’re fake.”
Threading his fingers through hers, he followed her down to the Great Hall. He listened as she chattered on about the latest Defence Against the Dark Arts class.
Hermione glanced at all of the excited students swarming the notice board in the common room. She looked over at Ginny who was just returning from reading the notice. “What’s going on?”
“We’re having a Christmas Pantomime,” Ginny replied excitedly. “Professor Flitwick and Professor Carter will be directing it. We’ll be doing ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’ from The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”
Demelza joined them in time to hear the end of the conversation. “A Christmas Pantomime, that sounds great. I always loved them in primary school. I can’t remember the storyline of ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune.’ What is that one about?”
Blushing Hermione admitted she had concentrated on ‘The Tale of Three Brothers’ and didn’t know ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune.’
“It’s actually one of my favourites,” Ginny said as the other two settled in to listen to the story. “Once there was a magical fountain and it was said if you bathed in the fountain, you would have fair fortune for the rest of your days. You could only get to the fountain on the longest day of the year and thousands of people showed up each year to try, but only one was allowed in to try to reach the fountain. One year three witches decided to work together to get in and they did get in pulling along with them a hapless knight.
“The first witch, Asha, was very sick and wanted the fountain to cure her. The second witch, Athelda, had been robbed by an evil wizard and hoped to regain her fortune. The third witch, Amata, had been betrayed by her true love and hoped to heal her broken heart. They had to pass three tests to get to the fountain — each had to use the pain of their experiences to move forward. It was a long and arduous journey that took most of the day.
“When they arrived at the fountain, Asha fell very ill. Athelda found herbs in the nearby garden and was able to cure her. Athelda realized she could make money selling the herbs and potions and no longer needed the fortune of the fountain. Asha was now cured and no longer needed the luck either. Together they urged Amata to bathe in the fountain, but she realized she’d let go of all of the bitterness and was able to see how her lover had not been worthy of her love.
“The hapless knight who had accompanied them on their journey ended up bathing in the fountain. He realized that he loved Amata. He threw himself in her arms and they all lived happily ever after.”
“That’s a great story,” Demelza said with a smile.
“The best part is it was once used as a Christmas Pantomime here at Hogwarts,” Ginny explained her eyes dancing. “It was a long time ago when Professor Dumbledore was still teaching Transfiguration. They had all sorts of ‘special effects’ and everything was going well until the boy playing Sir Luckless broke up with the girl playing Amata for the girl playing Asha. They had a huge duel and ruined the set.”
“What?” Hermione’s eyes were wide.
Ginny giggled. “I know. Professor Carter told us about it. He found some notes Professor Dumbledore left on the topic.”
“So do you want to be in the play?” Hermione asked Ginny curiously.
Ginny shook her head. “No, I don’t want to act. I want to work on the sets. I like the decorating part.”
“I’m going to try out for the play. I think it would be fun,” Demelza said. Looking over at Hermione she asked, “What about you? Do you want to try out?”
“No,” Hermione said. “Acting doesn’t really interest me, but it might be fun to work on the sets.”
“Great,” Ginny beamed. “We can sign up. Try outs for the acting parts will be next week. There will be three performances before we leave for Christmas holidays.”
Turning, Harry could see Padma and Parvati Patil standing across the street waving at him. With a smile, Harry crossed the street.
“Hello, Parvati, Padma.”
Padma nodded her head while Parvati greeted him with a hug. “Hi, Harry.”
Before Harry could say anything else, Lavender Brown exited behind them and smiled a greeting at Harry before saying, “They turned us down also.”
“Damn!” Padma cursed and then blushed when she realized that Harry was still standing with them.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Parvati sighed. “We’ve been trying to find a space to rent and we’ve haven’t been having any luck. We’re too young or too poor or too something for them to take a risk on us.”
“What do you need a space for?” Harry asked looking at the three girls.
“We are planning to open a boutique style clothing store,” Lavender explained. “We’ve been planning it forever and we thought we had the financing and everything in place, but when we went to meet with the owner of the property he wouldn’t let us rent. He thought we were older and didn’t want to take a chance on us.”
Harry looked at the three girls. He didn’t know them well, but he felt a certain kinship with them. They had truly shown what they were made of over the past year. Ginny was full of praise for all three of them as they had helped the DA protect the younger students from the Death Eaters during the last school year.
“Do you girls have time to get some coffee?” Harry found himself asking and soon he was seated at one of the newer establishments on Diagon Alley with the three girls. On Padma’s recommendation he tried one of the flavoured coffee drinks and a plate of pastries.
“I’m sure this will make me sound really stupid,” Harry said with a self-deprecating smile, “But what is a boutique style clothing store?”
Padma smiled. “It’s a smaller store that sells women’s fashions and accessories. We wouldn’t sell men’s or children’s clothes and it isn’t the type of place to go to find a cheap outfit to work around the house in. It’s a store that sells higher end women’s clothes.”
Her words conjured up the image of one of Aunt Petunia’s favourite stores on High Street in Little Whinging. Uncle Vernon could always be counted on to complain bitterly after Aunt Petunia visited the shop. Looking up and down Diagon Alley, Harry could see Gladrags, Madam Malkin’s, and the newest shop that sold Muggle clothing, but nothing like what Padma was describing.
“We have worked with Madam Malkin,” Parvati explained, “but we want to go further. We have the contacts and we’ve spoken to people in the fashion world who are very excited about the idea of a wizarding boutique, but we can’t get anyone to finance us.”
“What do you need?” Harry asked curiously. To his surprise, it was Lavender who answered. She pulled a folder out of her bag and showed him their business plan. Harry listened carefully as the three witches explained their plans. It wasn’t just a whim, they had done their research and had put together a well thought out plan.
Leaning back in his chair, Harry toyed with the remains of the pumpkin pastry he’d eaten. He thought about what he wanted to do and briefly wondered what Ginny would say. He didn’t really think she’d be upset. Making up his mind, he looked at the three witches and said, “I own several buildings on Diagon Alley and one of them should be perfect for you to open a shop. I can provide the start-up costs so that you could open your shop.”
After a momentary shocked silence, Lavender and Parvati squealed simultaneously. Harry laughed at the shocked look on their faces. It was Padma who asked, “What is in it for you?”
Harry shrugged. “Nothing really. I think you have a great idea and a great plan and I think you should have the opportunity to make it a reality. The wizarding world needs to grow and have new businesses.”
“You financed the Weasley brothers’ joke shop, didn’t you?” Lavender asked.
Blushing, Harry nodded. “I gave them my winnings from the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I have a lot of money that I’ve inherited from my parents and my godfather. More money then I really need to be honest. I don’t want to just give it away, but if I have friends who need money then I will be happy to help.”
He stood up and gesturing towards the restrooms at the back of the shop said, “I’ll be right back.”
When he returned, Parvati stood and hugged him. “Thank you, Harry. We would be very grateful for your help and we will be happy to style Ginny for any event she needs to attend.”
Harry grinned. “I have no idea what that even means, but I will tell her. I’ll have my solicitor contact you with the contract and everything. He’s really good he’ll make sure no one takes advantage of you.” He hesitated a moment before adding, “If you need a model for your adverts, you should talk to Fleur Weasley.”
Lavender’s eyebrow’s raised. “From the Tri-Wizard Tournament?”
Harry nodded. “She’s married to Bill, Ginny’s oldest brother. She’s been great — helping me and Ginny and I bet she’d be happy to help. She’s really good at the fashion stuff.”
“Thank you, Harry,” Padma said earnestly. “For everything.”
As Harry left the shop, he could hear the three of them planning and talking. He was pleased that he was able to help them. Any annoyance he had felt towards them over the years had been wiped out by their staunch support and willingness to fight. Lavender, he knew, had been injured quite badly in the final battle, but she seemed to be doing well now.
Harry and Seamus were finishing up their homework on Muggle weaponry. It was rather late and the two of them were spread out in the study. They were the only ones home as the Weasley brothers had gone out earlier.
“I’ve never been so glad my dad was a Muggle,” Seamus declared. “Poor Katie and Susan have been having a hard time.”
Harry laughed. “I’ll never forget the look on Susan’s face when she saw the damage a gun can do.” He shook his head. “When I first got my Hogwarts’ letter, my uncle got a rifle to prevent ‘them’ from taking me to Hogwarts. He didn’t want any magic in his house and was trying to prevent me from going to school. Hagrid is the one who found us and he just reached over and ripped the rifle from my uncle’s hands and tied it in a knot.”
Seamus laughed. “I can see Hagrid doing that. Would a rifle hurt Hagrid?”
“I don’t think so,” Harry said after a moment of thought. “Most of the spells during the battle didn’t hurt him, so I don’t think a bullet would, but who knows.”
“I’m glad they’re teaching us about them,” Seamus said. “Robards told me one of his first partners was killed because he didn’t recognize a handgun. He just stood and laughed at the Muggle who fired the gun at him.”
“I don’t know why wizards are so contemptuous towards Muggles,” Harry said. “I mean a sword can kill a wizard so why couldn’t a more advanced Muggle weapon kill?”
Before Seamus could comment, the Floo behind them activated. Harry’s heart sank when he saw Tom’s head in fire. This wasn’t the first time old barman from the Leaky Cauldron had to contact Harry recently.
Harry sighed. “Hi, Tom. Do you need me to come down?”
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter. Both of them have had way too much to drink and are starting to become a little rowdy.”
Seamus swore and Harry agreed with him, but said, “No problem, Tom. Give me a few minutes and I will be there.”
“Thanks, Mr Potter.”
With a sigh, Harry looked up at the clock. To his surprise it was already a quarter after midnight. He hadn’t realized how late it was.
“Damn, this is the second time this week,” Seamus said as he stood and walked over to the door and summoned their cloaks from the cloak cupboard. “I thought they were getting better, but they really seem to be getting worse.”
Harry took his cloak from Seamus and the pair Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. As they entered, Harry immediately saw his best mate and his older brother. They were sitting in a far booth. He could tell even from the door how drunk they were. Their loud laughter and singing was rather discordant and could be clearly heard even over the other bar patrons.
Harry winced as he saw the glares the table was receiving. Tom had reluctantly called Harry the first time when other patrons started complaining about the group. To Harry’s dismay, he’d discovered that Tom was losing some business due to the Weasleys’ antics.
They walked over to the booth where the Weasley brothers were holding court. Harry grimaced slightly when he saw their companions. The Weasley brothers had become friendly with a group of other young shop clerks who worked on Diagon Alley. None of the Weasleys’ new friends had fought in the war, but they were all determined to party to celebrate its end. They were all young and good looking. From what Harry could tell, they all tended to spend most of their checks on drinks and cigarettes. He’d heard rumours about illegal potions, but he hadn’t seen any evidence of them. He didn’t think Ron would try them, but these days he really wasn’t sure.
Ron had recently taken up smoking and Harry was not at all happy about it. He asked Ron not to smoke inside the house, but he thought Ron still did on occasion. He could only imagine what Hermione would have to say on the subject when she found out.
Harry had met Ron’s new friends on several occasions and was not overly impressed with their rather hedonistic life style. Some of the girls tended to flirt with him which always made him feel uneasy. He was also very worried about their influence on Ron and George both. In the month and a half since the girls had gone back to school, their drinking and partying had increased dramatically. Anything Harry said was dismissed as Harry didn’t know what it was like to lose a brother.
Ron spotted him first.
“Harry! You joined us!”
To his relief, Harry was able to separate the Weasleys from their friends without much difficulty.
“Ron, George. It’s getting a bit late, don’t you think?”
“Nah. Come have a drink!” George said. “Tom will bring you a glass.”
“No, George,” Harry said. “You’ve had enough. Tom won’t be serving you anymore.”
“What?!” George stood up to glare at the barkeep, but he swayed uneasily on the spot instead. He sank back down. “But I was still drinking.”
“I know, George,” Harry said. “Why don’t you come back to my house?”
That thought brightened George up and he turned to Ron. “Why don’t we go back to Harry’s place?”
Relief flooded through Harry, it didn’t seem like this was going to be an argumentative night. Turning to Tom he said quietly, “How much do they owe you?”
Looking slightly ashamed Tom said, “Ten Galleons.”
Reaching into his pocket, Harry handed him fifteen Galleons, “Thanks for letting me know.”
By cajoling, ordering, and begging Harry and Seamus managed to get the two brothers back to Grimmauld Place. The sober pair managed to get the brothers settled in their rooms with buckets strategically placed next to their beds before turning in themselves. With a sigh Harry noticed it was now almost half past one in the morning, much later then he had planned to get to bed.
Harry groaned when his alarm sounded at six in the morning. Rising he quickly showered and dressed before heading into the kitchen where he found Seamus cursing the Weasleys.
“Had to set a damn silencing charm,” Seamus explained. “Between Ron’s snoring and the two of them retching, it was not a pleasant place to sleep last night.”
“I wish I knew what to do,” Harry said as he fixed a cup of tea. “I understand they are grieving, but they can’t keep going out drinking like this. Do I go to Mr Weasley or do I go to Bill?”
“Have you told Ginny?” Seamus asked as he poured himself some cereal.
“I mentioned they were going out, but I haven’t told her we have to keep going and rescuing them,” Harry admitted. “I just hate to worry her.”
“I know, but she might have a good idea of what you should do,” Seamus said.
Nodding, Harry agreed. “I’ll talk to her on Friday.”
After making sure his friends were both still breathing, he left vials of Hang-Over Potion on the counter and left for work. It was a long day, but Harry made it through somehow. He prayed that Ron and George wouldn’t decide to go out drinking again tonight, he really needed to catch up on his sleep.
Harry cast a Warming Charm as well as a Cushioning Charm as he and Ginny settled down under their favourite tree. It was early evening after their History of Magic class. After settling back against the tree, he drew up his right leg and rested his arm on his knee. Ginny laid her head on his arm with her back against his raised leg. He wrapped his free arm across her stomach.
“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?” Ginny asked as she looked up at him, lacing her
fingers through his hand.
With a sigh, Harry told her about the partying Ron and George had been doing. “I don’t know what to do,” he said miserably. “Every time I try to talk to them they go on about how I’ve never lost a brother and I don’t know what they’re going through. Ron became really angry at me the last time I brought it up. He started yelling about how I was an old worry wart and I was taking all of the fun out of living single in London. He even said he and George might move into the flat above the shop if I didn’t leave them alone.”
Ginny’s eyes had grown big and started to tear up as she listened to how badly her brothers were falling apart. When Harry rambled to a stop, his first feeling was guilt. How could he have just added to her burden?
“Damn! I was afraid of this,” Ginny said after a minute, breaking into Harry’s guilty silence. Correctly interpreting the look on his face, she said, “Don’t start feeling guilty! I’m glad you told me.” She sighed. “I wondered if something wasn’t wrong. Hermione’s worried, but she won’t admit it. Ron’s letters are…well he doesn’t write often and when he does he doesn’t say a whole lot.”
“He does always seem happy to get a letter from Hermione,” Harry offered. “It really cheers him up. I know he misses her. He gets angry that Seamus and I come up here every week. He’s asked about any boys buzzing around Hermione. Seamus and I have reassured him that no one is buzzing around her, but you know how he can get.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “He’s so crazy about her, but I think he still doesn’t feel worthy of her.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked in confusion.
Ginny blushed, but continued. “You know how Ron has always been really touchy about being poor. He’s always hated the fact that we have so many hand-me-downs and we’ve never had a lot of extra pocket money. I know he felt a bit inadequate when we went to Hermione’s house. Her parents obviously have quite a bit of money, they have a beautiful house, and they’ve always gone on expensive holidays. He made a comment to me that he could never provide those things for her.”
“Hermione doesn’t care about all of that,” Harry said. “She’s crazy about him.”
“I know,” Ginny agreed. “I’ve tried to reassure him, but he gets angry.” Her face darkened. “He was a stupid git actually, but…”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked as he ran his hand through her hair.
“He made some stupid comment about how I obviously didn’t care if people thought I was with you for the money,” Ginny said angrily. “He actually got on my case and said I shouldn’t let you buy me expensive things.”
“What?!” Harry exclaimed angrily.
Seeing Harry’s anger on her behalf actually calmed Ginny’s ire. She smiled and cupped his cheek with her hand. “He just needs to work out his feelings. I wish he wouldn’t pull me into it, but he’ll sort it out eventually.”
Enchanted at her easy acceptance, Harry couldn’t help but lean down and kiss her. Ginny responded enthusiastically and wrapped her arms around his neck. It took quite a while for the two of them to pull apart. By that time, Ginny was actually sitting on his lap.
“I love you,” Harry said.
She smiled up at him. “I love you too.”
She sat cuddled in his arms for a few minutes. She really hated being away from him for so long. Her thoughts returned to her older brothers. She didn’t like the sound of their behaviour, but she really didn’t know what to do about it.
After a moment, she looked up at her fiancé. “I think you should talk to Bill. He might be able to talk some sense into them. They can’t pull the ‘you don’t know what it’s like to lose a brother’ crap on him.” She huffed. “They shouldn’t be pulling it on you either.”
Harry smiled at Ginny’s staunch defence of him. “I will talk to Bill. I’d wondered if I should, but I didn’t want to overstep any bounds or anything.”
“Ron will probably be angry at you,” Ginny warned. “He will probably accuse you of tattling or something stupid like that.”
“That’s okay,” Harry said grimly. “Something needs to be done. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
“You’re a good friend,” Ginny said with a smile.
He smiled at her. “So tell me about the latest plans for the Parent’s Weekend. It’s coming up soon.”
Ginny happily caught him up to date with all of the plans for the Parent’s Weekend. To her delight, most of the families had indicated an interest in attending. Professor McGonagall had opened one of the little used wings for accommodations for the families. The Weasleys and Grangers each had a room, but as the rooms were set aside for parents and underage siblings others coming that weekend needed to make their own arrangements.
“You already arranged for your room at the Three Broomsticks, right?” Ginny asked anxiously.
“Yes, baby,” Harry reassured her with a smile. “I talked to Madam Rosmerta the first week in September and spoke to her again last weekend. She said she’s booked solid and some of the families in the village are opening their homes to people who want to stay.”
“Did Ron get a room?”
“Yes, because I got it for him,” Harry said. “He does seem to be looking forward to it.”
“Good, maybe it will be good for him,” Ginny said.
With a sigh she sat up and looked around. It was getting dark and it was time for Harry to be heading home. After a lengthy good bye, Harry headed back to London. He felt much better for having talked to Ginny.
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