|SIYE Time:5:43 on 22nd February 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: 84122; Chapter Total: 3811
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sorry for the long wait between chapters, but I'm doing better now and hope to be writing more regularly. For those of you looking for the next chapter of 'Perilous Journey' - please put your pitchforks down - it should be done soon. Thank you for everyone who's been emailing and messaging me. The support is wonderful! Thanks as always to my wonderful betas - StephanieO and seekers_destiny.
Harry was rather tired, but very happy as he Apparated to the gates of Hogwarts the next morning. Professor McGonagall had told him the night before that he was welcome to come up to the castle for breakfast if he wanted. He felt a bit guilty for staying so late last night, but he couldn’t resist spending time with Ginny.
After being let onto the grounds by Hagrid, Harry hurried up to the castle. He found Ginny sitting with her parents, Hermione with her parents, and Luna. Luna’s father was in Egypt and had been unable to return. Harry was a bit surprised she wasn’t sitting with Dean and his family, but he wasn’t going to complain. Luna was a good friend and she was always loyal to Ginny.
He greeted everyone and dropped a kiss on Ginny’s cheek before taking the seat she was saving for him.
“Good morning,” he said to the table in general. Turning to Ginny, he caught his breath a bit. “Good morning, beautiful.”
Beaming she leaned over and kissed him. “Good morning.”
Today she was dressed much more casually, wearing a Hogwarts t-shirt with jeans. She was wearing her hair in a plait and little golden lion earrings. She and Harry had found the earrings the day before and Harry had purchased them for her. Smiling he reached out and touched the lion with one finger.
“You’re wearing them. They look cute.”
“Thank you, sweetie,” she said with a smile. “I figured they would be appropriate to wear today during our Quidditch match.”
“They are very nice,” Luna spoke up as she peered at Ginny’s earrings. “Do they roar?”
“Roar?” Ginny seemed a bit startled at the suggestion. “No, they don’t roar. I don’t think they do anything magical.”
“No, they are just normal earrings,” Harry confirmed.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Luna mused. “That would be fun if they roared periodically.”
Ginny started laughing. “It might be, but it could also be rather disconcerting if they roared when I was trying to throw the Quaffle.”
Hermione started laughing as well. “Can you imagine roaring earrings in one of Professor Snape’s Potion’s class?”
Everyone burst out laughing at that image. Hermione had obviously shared enough stories of Professor Snape’s classes with her parents for them to understand how that would not have been received well.
Ron woke fairly early on Sunday morning. Stumbling down the stairs, he decided to stop in the little courtyard and have a smoke before heading into breakfast. He could hear a group of Aurors talking over their breakfast. He planned to step away, but he heard Harry’s name and couldn’t help but listen in.
“Potter never mentioned his fiancée was so hot,” one of the guys said with a laugh in his voice. “Did you see those boots?”
Ron felt his anger rise at the men talking about his sister like that, but he kept quiet. He wanted to hear what they had to say.
“He’s certainly not going to tell us how hot his fiancée is,” another man said as the group broke out into laughter.
“He looked happy enough when he headed back here the other night at midnight,” the first man said. “Makes me a bit jealous, they were all over each other yesterday.”
“That’s enough,” a new voice spoke up. “Potter deserves some happiness.”
“That’s true enough,” one of the first speakers said. “I was rather upset when I heard that Potter and a bunch of his friends were being let in without their NEWTs based on their alleged experience, but those kids are good.”
“I know, did you see them in York with the Dementors? Those kids really know what they are doing.”
Another voice joined the conversation. “I heard Potter testify in front of the Wizengamot. I’d always kind of thought he was a lot of hype, but listening to him talk that day…he’s the real deal.”
“I saw Potter and his girl wandering through town yesterday, they are very happy together.”
“I know I’m glad my girl didn’t see how he treats his girl, I’d be in a world of trouble.”
“Potter’s a lady’s man?” One of the voices asked laughing. Ron had to smile at that thought. Harry was certainly clueless around girls.
“No,” came a female voice. “He’s just obviously in love with his girl. He waited patiently at the station for her to finish her work and held her hand all through town. The way he watched her…let’s just say she’s a lucky girl. At least she knows it, I watched the way she watched him and they are adorable.”
“Adorable,” the first man scoffed.
“They are,” the girl protested.
The voiced moved away as the Aurors left their table. Ron finished his cigarette and as he did so he thought about his best mate and his sister. While he’d been in favour of them dating and he was glad that Harry was serious about her, he wasn’t sure he liked hearing how much Harry loved his sister. What was that about him getting in at midnight? Ron had tried Harry’s door last night, but he didn’t answer. At the time Ron thought Harry must be sleeping, but what if he’d still been up at the castle with Ginny?
That wasn’t fair. Ron had enjoyed his day with Hermione and her parents, but he didn’t have much alone time with her. Harry got to see Ginny every week. Before he entered the pub, he cast a spell that got rid of the smoke smell. He knew that Hermione wouldn’t be happy at the habit he’d picked up, but he didn’t want to quit yet. He would quit before she came home for the summer. As he entered the pub, Ron frowned he was going to have to keep an eye on his best mate and sister.
Jane Granger watched the Quidditch match in amazement. She’d seen Harry and Ginny fly at the Burrow, but this was something else entirely.
She turned to her daughter. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“I know,” Hermione replied with a smile. “I wish you could’ve seen Harry play. He’s amazing. He made the team in our first year — he was the youngest player in a century. When he flies he’s completely fearless. I’ve watched him make dives that he shouldn’t have been able to pull out of and he has the biggest smile on his face.”
“I wish I’d been able to see that,” Jane said as she turned to gaze at Harry. His attention was focused on Ginny.
Following her mother’s gaze, Hermione giggled. “He got so many bruises his 6th year from watching her. He’d get so caught up in watching her that he would forget to dodge the Bludgers.”
Jane laughed. “I can imagine that. He’s quite in love with her.”
Hugh leaned over his wife to ask his daughter, “Do you like flying?”
“No,” Hermione shook her head. “I hated flying lessons. You know I’ve never been good at sports and this combined magic, sports, and heights. I can stay on a broom if I have to, but I’m not comfortable on them.”
“That’s too bad,” Hugh replied. “I want to give it a try.”
Hermione smiled. “Somehow I knew you would want to do that.”
Her eyes lit up as Ron clambered up the steps to join them. He greeted everyone and smiled at her before taking her hand. She felt a bit of disappointment that he didn’t kiss her, but she thought perhaps he might be a bit intimidated by her parents sitting next to them.
“Do you play Quidditch?” Hugh asked Ron once he’d settled into his seat.
“Yes,” Ron said with a smile. “I play Keeper.” He pointed to the Gryffindor Keeper. “I was on the team my last two years at school.”
“That’s rather like a goalie, right? Preventing the other team from scoring,” Hugh commented.
Ron nodded. He’d heard Dean comparing a Keeper to a goalie so he was fairly sure they were comparable. “It’s a lot harder than it looks.” He winced as Eric, the Gryffindor Keeper, let in a goal. “I’d played with my brothers in our orchard for years, but I had a hard time my first couple of games remembering to cover all three goals. After my first game I wanted to resign, but I got better with time. Our Keeper, Eric, is new. His cousin, Angelina, was my first Quidditch captain, so he’s been playing for years, but this is his first year on the team. They didn’t play last year.”
Jane frowned. “It sounds like it was pretty horrible here last year.”
“Death Eaters were running the school,” Hermione spoke up. “Professor Snape does seem to have tried to protect the students from the Death Eaters worst impulses, but I’ve heard enough stories that…” she broke off shuddering. “It sounds horrid. Madam Florence, the counsellor has been quite busy.”
Ron looked over at her in concern. “How do you know that? Have you seen her?”
“Yes, all of us have,” she replied. She shrugged. “I still sometimes have nightmares about Malfoy Manor and sometimes about the final battle. Ginny gets called out several nights a week to deal with one of the girls having a nightmare and I know she has them herself.”
“I’m glad they have someone here to help you kids deal with all of this,” Hugh said with a frown. He hated to think of what must have gone on here the previous year. He felt rather lucky that his daughter hadn’t been here, what she had gone through sounded bad enough.
As he watched the kids flying around on broomsticks at incredible speeds, he wondered if he’d seen this before Hermione started at Hogwarts if he would have agreed so readily that she should attend. Hermione had always been a bit different from other children. She was so smart and truly enjoyed learning, he’d agonized during her primary school years when she would come home from school in tears or waited in vain for an invite to a schoolmate’s party.
Her accidental magic had been difficult to understand. Strange things tended to happen when other children picked on her and he and his wife had been at a loss to explain the things that had happened. When Professor McGonagall had come and explained that Hermione was actually a witch, it seemed that everything had been explained. He’d rather expected that Hermione would want to go away to school, but Hogwarts was so different than anything he could have ever imagined.
Hermione had written home regularly and at first he and Jane had worried when she reported only on her classes and nothing about friends. Slowly stories about both Ron and Harry had started coming home and Hugh had breathed a sigh of relief. Over the years Hermione’s letters had come to include stories about other friends, though none replaced Ron and Harry. He had wondered which of her friends would eventually turn into something more and he had honestly been surprised when she chose the boy who seemed to aggravate her the most, but Jane hadn’t been surprised in the least.
Hugh honestly enjoyed talking to Ron and his family, but he still wasn’t sure the boy was the right one for his little girl. To his mind, Harry seemed a better match for his princess. Harry had also been raised in what Hugh thought of as the ‘normal’ world, he was considerate of Hermione and had not caused the tears and drama that Ron had caused over the years. Not to mention the fact that the boy was a bona fide hero and apparently quite wealthy as well. However, Harry was engaged to Ron’s sister, Ginny, and seemed very happy about the fact. Hugh had to accept the fact that Harry was not the one for Hermione. He was glad that the boy seemed to think of Hermione as his sister. She could certainly do worse for a best friend.
Watching Ron, Hugh decided he would try to get to know the boy better. Hermione seemed quite fond of him, but Hugh was very glad that Hermione didn’t feel the need to pair off and get married right away. He’d been concerned when he’d heard about Harry and Ginny’s engagement, but Jane had reassured him that Hermione still planned to attend University and discover who she was as a person before settling down.
Hermione reached over and squeezed Ron’s hand. He was exceptionally quiet today. “Are you okay?”
He smiled at her in the way that always made her melt a bit. “I’m fine. I miss being here with you.”
Hermione flushed with pleasure, Ron wasn’t always so expressive with his sentiments. “I miss you as well. It seems a bit unfair that I get to see Harry every week, but not you.”
He grinned at her. “I’m sure Harry and Seamus would tell you I can be a bit of a grouchy git when they start talking about Hogwarts. As much as I wish I was with you, I think I’m doing the right thing. George is teaching me how to make the different wheezes and he really listens to me. We’re hoping to start making some new wheezes.”
Hermione listened to Ron talking about his life in London and she was happy he was sharing so much. He seemed to be more confident that he’d been over the summer and he was definitely enjoying himself.
“What about the pizza parlour?” she asked.
A look she couldn’t identify crossed his face. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “George was really excited about it, but he’s lost some of that enthusiasm lately. Percy and Fleur have been doing more with that idea than me and George.”
“How is George? He seemed like he was doing well yesterday.”
“He has his good days and bad,” Ron hedged. “He was really excited about being here this weekend and supporting Ginny. She writes to him at least once a week and he loves hearing about what she’s doing.”
“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said. “I assumed every time she sent Athena out it was with a letter for Harry.”
Ron laughed. “She writes to him almost every day. He’s rather pathetic about it.”
Ron had to dodge as Harry smacked him on the arm without ever taking his eyes off the game. “It’s true and you know it.”
“I’m not pathetic,” Harry defended himself. “I just love getting letters from Ginny.”
“And you carry them around with you and re-read them,” Ron teased.
“Whatever,” Harry muttered sending a glare at his best mate before the crowd roared drawing his attention back to the pitch. Ginny scored another goal before Amber caught the Snitch for Gryffindor.
Harry jumped to his feet cheering as did Ron. Once the players cleared off the pitch, Professor Flitwick and Madam Hooch set up stations for the Muggle parents to try flying for themselves.
Hugh was one of the first in line and he gingerly climbed onto the broomstick and followed Madam Hooch’s instructions. He wasn’t able to fly very high, but he was able to fly. It was an exhilarating experience. Before he landed, he waved to Jane who took a picture of him. Hermione had a look of extreme pride and embarrassment on her face.
“That was amazing,” Hugh gushed as he re-joined his daughter and her friends. “I wish I could have gone higher or done some tricks, but that was great.”
“Mr Granger, if you want, I can take you up the next time we are at the Burrow,” Harry offered.
Hugh’s eyes lit up. “That would be brilliant! I will definitely take you up on that offer young man.”
As they headed into the castle for lunch, Hugh found himself talking to the rather imposing Professor McGonagall.
“What do you think of the school?” she asked as they walked up from the Quidditch pitch.
“Overall, I’m very impressed,” he said earnestly. “I quite enjoyed learning about each of the classes and what the students are taught.”
She nodded. “Why do I get the feeling something is bothering you?”
Hugh sighed and stopped walking. The Headmistress did the same and the two moved out of the way of the crowd. “I am rather concerned that so many topics are skipped. There is no literature, no maths, no geography, or science. I hate to think that the children stop learning these things at age eleven. I’m glad to see that there is a wide array of extra-curricular offerings, but I have to admit that Hermione has never mentioned any of them to me. I’ve heard of Quidditch and flying, but nothing else. You have educated these students well, but they cannot function well in the Muggle world anymore. Even Hermione who is very clever is well behind her peers in Muggle electronics and the use of computers. We Muggles are doing incredible things and I fear that your students know nothing of such things.”
Professor McGonagall listened impassively. While her first instinct was to defend her beloved school, she did want her school to be the best so perhaps listening was needed. “I can understand some of your concerns. We do not have anything that is equivalent to literature or geography and perhaps that should be remedied. We do teach Arithmancy which is how we use maths and as for science — we teach magic which I dare say is our version of science. We are a magical school and we have seven short years to prepare our students to become fully qualified witches and wizards. There are some who might say we could cut Herbology or Astronomy, but both of those classes influence other classes.”
She thought it over for a few minutes. “I can certainly appreciate that our students will not be equipped to live in the Muggle world or familiar with Muggle technology. I am not familiar with computers, I’ve heard of them, but I am not certain what they do. I don’t wish our students to turn their backs on their heritage or the world they came from, but we must prepare them to live in the magical world. Technology such as you are talking about doesn’t work here at Hogwarts. The magic in the air renders the technology useless.”
“I do understand that electronics won’t work here. Perhaps a summer offering,” Hugh suggested. “A class in Muggle technology or literature could be offered over the summer.”
Professor McGonagall nodded slowly. “I could talk to my colleagues and we might be able to prevail on some of our more technologically savvy graduates to teach a class in a Muggle University. We used to have an arrangement with Oxford several hundred years ago, perhaps that can be revived. We have just this year overhauled our classes and curriculum in light of recent events. Our history and Muggle Studies curriculums are brand new and will hopefully help bridge the gap between our two worlds.”
The pair resumed their walk towards the castle. “I wonder, Mr Granger, if you wouldn’t mind setting up a meeting in a week or two. I’ve been thinking about setting up a Muggle parent’s group and would like to hear your input.”
“That would be brilliant,” he replied. “My wife and I have met several families this weekend and commented how we wished we’d met some others in our situation years ago. Perhaps we could set up a mentoring program so new Muggle parents don’t feel so isolated and unsure.”
“What a wonderful idea,” she said. “I am glad we had a chance to speak and I look forward to hearing from you. I will send an owl next week to arrange a meeting.”
Ron was in a much better mood after he and Hermione had snuck away for some private time after the Quidditch exhibition. He was actually surprised at how well the Parents’ Weekend had gone. His parents had gone home after the Quidditch exhibition. Ron wondered if it had all been a bit much for his mother.
Overall, he thought she was doing much better, but she still had her moments when she got upset. He was glad she’d made it here at all.
Hermione had surprised him with a framed picture of herself. Apparently Dennis had taken pictures of all of the students and Ron thought Hermione’s were wonderful. There was one picture of her in her Hogwarts robes standing in front of a book stack at the library and another was a more relaxed picture of her by the lake. He thought she looked beautiful.
For lunch, they ended up at a table with Mr and Mrs Granger, Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione. It started halfway through the meal or at least that’s when Ron noticed it.
Ginny loaded something on her fork and offered it to Harry. “Here, sweetie, try this.”
Obediently Harry opened his mouth and tried it. “That’s good.”
Ginny said something, but Ron didn’t hear what it was. She was just chattering away as usual and Harry was just listening. It was rather annoying the way she kept offering him food and it was even worse when he started doing the same. Ron looked over at Hermione who thankfully was way too sensible for that sort of nonsense.
“Ginny, he can feed himself,” Ron finally pointed out.
“I’m not feeding him,” Ginny said blushing. “I was just letting him taste some different dishes.”
Harry glared at him, but Ron didn’t care. He shouldn’t allow his girlfriend to embarrass him like that.
When the main course disappeared, an array of desserts arrived at their table. Harry of course immediately helped himself to a large slice of treacle tart while Ginny took small portions of a number of items. Every once in a while, Ginny would reach over and take a bite off of Harry’s plate.
There was nothing that annoyed Ron more than people trying to eat off his plate and he couldn’t understand how Harry just let Ginny steal a bite of his food. It was at times like these that he wished his best mate wasn’t dating his sister. How could Harry not see that the way she was behaving was making him look bad?
As the meal came to an end, Professor McGonagall stood to get everyone’s attention. “I would like to thank all of the parents and students for making the first annual Parents’ Weekend a huge success.”
A wave of applause rocked the Great Hall and Professor McGonagall waited patiently for the applause to wane. Once everyone had quieted down Professor McGonagall continued, “The students have worked very hard on making this weekend the best it could possibly be. Many of the students have participated in numerous ways, from being guides, explaining clubs, participating in the Quidditch match, and of course the planning and preparing for the weekend. There is one student in particular whom I would like to honour today. Our head girl, Ginny Weasley, is the one who first mentioned to possibility of a Parents’ Weekend to me and she took a leading role in planning and preparing for this weekend.”
Again the Great Hall broke out in applause. Ginny blushed prettily while Harry was clapping proudly.
Professor McGonagall waved Ginny up to the head table and when she arrived, the older witch said, “Congratulations Miss Weasley! You are being awarded a special award for the school. This plaque is for you and there will be one placed in the trophy room here at the school. You have done much to revitalise and reunite this school after a truly tragic and horrifying year. Last year your leadership helped lead a rebellion against the Death Eaters who had taken over the school and this year your leadership is helping us to heal.”
She handed Ginny a plaque inscribed with her name and a picture of the banner reading ‘First Annual Parents’ Weekend’. The students stood and cheered much louder than they had before. Harry whistled and cheered on his fiancée happily.
Ginny took her plaque and shook Professor McGonagall’s hand before deciding to dispense with formality and hugged the rather stern professor who returned the embrace. Wiping her eyes, Ginny turned to the students. “Thank you so much! I really appreciate the honour. I would like to mention one of my fallen classmates who gave me the idea for the Parents’ Weekend. Colin Creevey, who was sadly killed in the battle, told me about the Parents’ Weekends held at Muggle schools and after the awfulness of last year I thought we needed to not only see our parents, but also reassure them that we are safe.”
Ginny walked back to her seat amidst more cheers. Several friends stopped her and hugged her or shook her hand. It took her awhile to make it back to Harry’s side. He hugged her and kissed her deeply.
“Congrats Gin!” he said huskily when he pulled away. “I am so proud of you.”
Hermione smiled and congratulated her as well and hugged her. Ginny felt a bit of relief as she had been concerned that Hermione might be upset with the attention she was receiving. Ron didn’t seem overly happy for her, but his emotions seemed all over the place these days so she didn’t take it personally.
Professor McGonagall reclaimed everyone’s attention one last time. “Again, I would like to thank everyone for participating in this weekend. The staff and I have enjoyed the chance to speak with so many parents. Upon consultation with our Muggle Studies Professor and our colleagues at the Ministry we have set up a phone number that parents can call to get in touch with us quickly.
“The number is, I’m told, in an unusual configuration for a phone number, but the number is 46492787 724665. The number is included in your welcome packets. It will ring to a switchboard that will relay the message to us in a timely manner. This is not intended for you to speak to your students, but it is for you to speak to the staff.
“I have spoken to several parents and asked to set up meetings. I hope this new and open communication will be maintained over the school year. The train will be leaving in thirty minutes and the trip to London should take no more than three hours. Thank you.”
Looking up Harry was happy to see Bill entering the newest deli on Diagon Alley. “Bill! Can you join me?”
“Sure,” Bill replied glancing at his watch. “I have plenty of time.”
Once Bill had his lunch, he joined Harry at one of the tables. “It’s great to see you,” Bill said as he sat down. “It sounds like Ginny had a wonderful time on Parents’ Weekend. She sent me and Fleur and letter and she sounded over the moon.”
Harry smiled. “She had a great time. Did she tell you about her award for special services to the school?”
Bill had to hide a smile at the way Harry’s face lit up at just the mention of Ginny’s name. It was funny he’d always thought he’d be over protective of his only sister, but he could tell how much Harry loved his sister and somehow Bill couldn’t help but want to support the young couple.
“Mum did,” Bill explained as he opened his paper wrapped sandwich. “She was so proud of Ginny.”
“That’s great,” Harry said with a smile. “Ginny worked so hard and it is nice to see her get the recognition she deserves. Everyone seemed to have a great time.”
Bill nodded. “The stories I’ve heard from those I work with are wonderful. I’m so proud of her. She seemed to be working so hard this year. It’s great that she can have such a brilliant last year.” He shot a teasing glance at his future brother-in-law. “I think it helps that she gets to see you every week.”
Blushing Harry smiled. “I don’t know if I would be doing so well if I didn’t get to see her so much. She was saying she wanted to move the wedding up, but I think she’s changed her mind again. She really wants a Christmas wedding, but we just want to be married.”
“I understand, it seemed like Fleur and I were engaged forever. It was only a year, but at times it seemed a lot longer,” Bill sympathized. “What about you?” he asked curiously.
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. I’d love to be married now, but it would be hard to be separated so often. Half the time I still can’t believe she agreed to marry me so I’m thrilled to get married whenever she wants — this Christmas, next Christmas, Halloween, whenever.”
The two wizards ate and made casual conversation while they did so. Harry shared some of his tales from training while Bill shared some of his past adventures in Curse Breaking. After he finished his lunch, Harry toyed with the wrapper that had held his sandwich. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to Bill about his concerns, but he was having a good time and he wasn’t sure he wanted to bring up the topic.
Bill however took that decision out of his hands when he asked, “What’s going on with George and Ron? Fleur thought they were really excited about the pizza parlour idea, but now they’ve not done anything. The building has been renovated and decorated, but they keep putting off interviewing managers or hiring anyone. Have they said anything to you?”
Harry sighed. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you actually. I’m worried about them. They’ve become very friendly with a group of other young shop clerks on the alley and lately they’ve been spending a lot of nights out at the pubs. They party a lot and I’ve had to go get them from the Leaky Cauldron several times. Seamus and I have to go and drag them out of the pub and get them home. I don’t know what to do. If I say anything to them, George doesn’t usually say anything, but Ron always gets angry and says I don’t know what it’s like to lose a brother so I can’t criticize them. Ron’s even started smoking. I’ve asked him not to smoke in the house, but Kreacher told me just last night he’s still smoking in his room.”
Bill listened with growing concern. “Damn! I was hoping I was worrying for nothing. I saw them out drinking one night last week and I hoped it was a one-time thing.”
Harry shook his head. “No, it’s becoming more and more frequent. I don’t know what to say to Ron anymore. He’s so angry and moody. He gets angry because I get to see Ginny every week and he doesn’t get to see Hermione so often. I’ve tried not to talk about Ginny around him because it always starts him on a tear about how it isn’t fair and I shouldn’t get preferential treatment.”
“You’re not getting preferential treatment,” Bill objected. “You’re taking classes. I thought Ron was talking about starting Auror training in the spring, isn’t that right?”
“I honestly think he said that to get your mum or Hermione off his back,” Harry said. “He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to be an Auror or should I say he doesn’t want to do the training to be an Auror. He thinks none of us should have to undergo training because of everything that happened while we were in school. I’ve tried to tell him that there’s a lot more to Auror work, but he won’t listen.”
“I’ll have to talk to him,” Bill said shaking his head. “I know they’re torn up about…about losing Fred. We all are, but we can’t use that as an excuse to party and ignore our responsibilities.”
Harry glanced at his watch. “I hate to drop such news on you and leave, but I have to be back at the Ministry.”
“No, I understand,” Bill replied. He stood when Harry did and shook his hand. “Thank you for telling me what is going on. I know that couldn’t have been easy.”
Once Harry left, Bill wavered for a minute and then sent a message to Gringotts saying he had a family emergency to take care of and headed off for the Leaky Cauldron.
Tom, the old bartender, was behind the bar as usual when Bill entered. “Good afternoon, Mr Weasley. Don’t see you this time of day too often.”
“No, I don’t get down here much,” Bill acknowledged. “Can I have a butterbeer?”
Wordlessly Tom pulled a chilled butterbeer from his cold cupboard and poured it skilfully into a cold glass and slid it across the bar to Bill.
“Thank you,” Bill said as he took a long drink. He had to smile. Butterbeer always reminded him of those wonderful afternoons in Hogsmeade when he was a kid. Looking around the bar, he was glad to see it wasn’t too busy. He wasn’t sure if he wanted anyone to overhear this conversation.
“Tom, I wanted to ask you about my brothers.”
Bill could see an immediate reaction and his heart sank. He’d hoped that maybe Harry just had the wrong impression of what was going on with them.
“I figured ye’d get here eventually,” Tom allowed. He shook his head. “They’re good boys, but they’re getting into too much drink. Poor Mr Potter, I don’t think there’s been a week I haven’t bothered him in months. He’s always very patient, he comes and pays their tab and coaxes them out of here. I hate to do it, but they get rowdy and my other customers aren’t too happy.”
Bill frowned, Harry hadn’t mentioned having to pay any tabs. “Harry mentioned something about the company they keep.”
“They’re always here with the shop girls,” came a voice from behind him. Bill turned to see a pleasant looking blonde girl. She blushed slightly. “Sorry, I’m Hannah Abbott. I went to school with Harry and Ron.”
“Nice to meet you, Hannah,” Bill said. “I’m sorry who are the shop girls?”
“That’s what Harry and I both call them,” Hannah explained. “They are all pretty young girls who work in the shops along Diagon Alley. Most of them didn’t go to Hogwarts and none of them fought in the war, but they are all happy to celebrate the end of it. They’re just shallow girls who like to party.”
Hannah blushed at Bill’s raised eyebrow. “Sorry, I don’t like them very much. When I first started working here I tried talking to them, but apparently I’m not pretty enough to hang out with them. They have ‘standards’.”
“Lovely,” Bill said sarcastically. He thought for a moment. “Do you know why my brothers are hanging around with them? I mean Ron has a girlfriend and I don’t think George is really ready for any type of relationship.”
“These girls aren’t exactly relationship material,” Hannah explained dryly. “I think George hooked up with one or two of them, but I think Ron is just flattered by the attention. You know at school he was always in Harry’s shadow and here he’s a hero. I think the attention’s just gone to his head a bit.”
Harry was just sitting down to breakfast when Athena flew in carrying a letter from Ginny. He accepted the letter with a smile and offered Athena some bacon and pumpkin juice, both of which the owl took gratefully before flying off to her perch in Harry’s room.
28 October 1998
I just have time for a quick note this evening. We have a Transfiguration quiz in the morning and Hermione doesn’t think I’m prepared enough so I’ll have to get some revising done tonight.
We are starting to prepare for our Christmas pantomime and it’s a lot of fun. Hermione and I are both working on the sets so we’ve been working with the house elves to create the backdrops we will need. The try-outs were held and Demelza got the part of Athelda, the witch who was robbed of her fortune by an evil wizard. She’s thrilled and having fun with it.
The part of Amata went to a very sweet 5th year from Hufflepuff and Justin got the part of the Knight. I think Sophie, the Hufflepuff, is very excited because she has a huge crush on Justin and hadn’t been able to work up the nerve to talk to him. (I know what that’s like!!)
Hermione is sending me glares, so I guess I better start revising. I love you and I miss you and can’t wait to see you on Friday!
Harry smiled as he read and reread Ginny’s letter. It didn’t really say much, but just the fact that she took time out of her evening to write to him always made him feel special.
“Snap out of it!” Ron said crossly.
Harry looked up from his letter in confusion. Glancing across the table, he was surprised to see Ron glaring at him. “What?”
“What?” Ron repeated mockingly. He shook his head in disgust. “Could you be any more sappy and disgusting? Sighing and smiling over a little note like a schoolgirl.”
Harry looked down blushing. He wasn’t that bad, was he? “I can’t be happy my fiancée wrote me note?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Do you have any idea what kind of reputation you are getting? The girls think you are a bit of a pansy to be honest.”
“What girls?” Harry asked indignantly.
“The girls from the shops,” Ron said. “You won’t come out drinking with us, you act like you are an old codger half the time. ‘Ron, stop drinking! Ron, stop smoking!’ Good Lord, you’re not my father. Even my father isn’t such a stick in the mud.”
“I’m not a stick in the mud!” Harry protested. He was starting to get a bit angry now.
“When was the last time you had fun?” Ron challenged him. “You just sit at home and moon over Ginny’s letters.”
“That’s not true. I had a great time last weekend.”
“Last weekend,” Ron said contemptuously. “Do you have any idea what an idiot you looked like last weekend? Following my sister around like a puppy dog, letting her feed you, it was pathetic. You should have heard the people laughing about how pathetic you were. ‘Yes, Ginny’ or ‘Of course, Ginny’. Don’t you have any self-respect? Don’t let her run all over you!”
“She doesn’t run all over me,” Harry returned angrily. “I love your sister.”
“In less than six months you’ve gone from hero of the wizarding world to laughing stock of the wizarding world all because of my stupid sister!”
“That’s out of line,” Seamus said as he entered the kitchen. He looked between the two mates trying to figure out what’s going on.
“I’m just trying to help him,” Ron defended himself. “He’s making a fool of himself over my sister and there’s no reason for it.”
“No he’s not,” Seamus disagreed.
“Of course you’d be on his side,” Ron said rather meanly. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you becoming all friendly with him. Are you looking for a new best mate? Did you suddenly realize that he’s rich and hope he’ll spread a bit of the wealth? Good luck with that. The only one he spends money on is my sister — not that she deserves it.”
Shaking his head in disgust, Ron said, “I’m out of here. I can’t stand to watch him moon over my sister when she’s not even here!”
After Ron left, Seamus looked over at Harry who looked rather like someone had hit him hard in the stomach. “What the hell was that all about?”
“I have no idea,” Harry said. “I don’t even know if I should be angry or hurt. I got a letter from Ginny and he started banging on about how I’m making a fool of myself over Ginny and people are laughing at me and I’m an idiot — that sort of rot. I’m not that bad, am I?”
“No,” Seamus replied stoutly. “I think he’s a bit upset that he doesn’t get as many notes from Hermione as you do for Ginny. You know Ron — he always reacts by getting angry.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m getting really sick of putting up with his crap. If he doesn’t watch his attitude…” He groaned trailing off. “Damn! I don’t know what to do with him. Part of me wants to kick him out, but I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.”
“You talked to Bill, right?”
Harry nodded as he folded up his letter and tucked it carefully in his pocket.
“Hopefully Bill can talk some sense into him,” Seamus commented as they left the house.
Ron fumed as he stormed down Diagon Alley towards the shop. Last night the girls had been banging on about Harry. Actually, they all thought the pictures of Harry and Ginny in the papers were sweet, but Ron was getting sick of Harry’s attitude.
Harry didn’t know what it was like to lose a brother. What right did he have to criticise Ron and George for going out drinking a bit? They weren’t hurting anyone and George seemed better than he’d been over the summer.
The thing that had really set Ron on edge he couldn’t even talk to Harry about. Chloe and Emma both thought that Harry and Ginny were sleeping together. Chloe said something about the ‘sexual chemistry’ between the two of them. Ron wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but he wasn’t going to ask. Between the girls’ comments, the Aurors’ comments in Hogsmeade, and the fact at Harry hadn’t been in when Ron had checked on him Ron was getting a picture he didn’t like.
Harry wouldn’t be shagging his sister and not say anything, right? Ron didn’t know if he should be angry or jealous. He and Hermione had done some fooling around, but she had very clear boundaries that he couldn’t cross. He assumed it was the same for Harry and Ginny, but now he was questioning that.
He’d been thrilled to hear that Harry and Ginny were engaged. That meant that Harry wasn’t messing his sister around and he was really serious about her. But did Harry think that by getting engaged he was entitled to sleep with her? Would Ginny sleep with him? Dean had made it clear that Ginny had turned him down flat. Surely she would do that to Harry too.
Ron couldn’t imagine getting married now. He really fancied Hermione and had for some time, but they were way too young to make such a commitment. He wanted to have fun not turn into some boring old stick in the mud, but he was afraid Harry had already done that.
His temper was still running high when he arrived at the shop and he knew he needed to calm down. With so many volatile potions, not thinking clearly was a really bad idea.
George waited in line at the Ministry to have his wand checked. He’d heard Ron’s harangue about Harry and he really wasn’t sure what was behind it. Between Ron’s attitude and Bill’s visit this morning, George was honestly feeling a bit sick to his stomach. How had things gotten off track so badly?
Once his wand had been checked, George headed down to level two. He was surprised to see a new memorial on the wall in the hall of magical windows leading away from the lift. He stopped to read the memorial.
It was dedicated to the Aurors lost in the wars against Voldemort. George swallowed heavily to see names he knew — Alistair Moody, Nymphadora Tonks — Lupin, and Rufus Scrimgeour. He was happy to see Alice and Frank Longbottom were commemorated even though they had not been killed in the wars; they were in the long term care wing of St Mungo’s, having been tortured into insanity by a group of Death Eaters including Bellatrix Lestrange. He shook his head to see how many lives had been affected by Voldemort.
For a moment he felt a bit ashamed. His loss was wrenching and at times he didn’t know how he could go on, but he was not the only one who lost someone. He thought about how many times in the past few months he and Ron had thrown into Harry’s face that he hadn’t lost a brother. How could they have done that? Harry had lost so much — his parents, his godfather, Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore. How had he been able to go on in the face of so much loss?
George headed on to the Auror Department and in a few minutes he was standing next to Harry’s cubicle. He had to smile at the pictures on Harry’s desk. There were several pictures of Ginny, a few pictures of Teddy, and even a picture of Harry, Ron, and Hermione taken shortly after the Battle at Hogwarts. George looked around, the girl at the front had directed him here, but Harry wasn’t here.
Looking up George was glad to see Harry approaching. “Hi Harry.”
“Is everything okay?” Harry asked in concern.
“No, everything’s good,” George insisted. “I wondered if you had a minute to talk.”
Harry didn’t look convinced that there wasn’t a major emergency, but he nodded. “Let’s go over to the conference room, there’s no one in there now.”
Once the two wizards were settled in the conference room, Harry looked anxiously at George waiting for him to speak.
“Harry, first I owe you an apology. I know I haven’t been behaving well and I really can’t believe I keep throwing Fred into your face as a justification for my behaviour.”
Harry started to speak, but George held up his hands. “Please, let me finish.” Harry subsided and let George continue.
“When I was up in Hogsmeade this weekend…it was a bit of a shock. I wanted to go to support Ginny, but I will admit I was nervous about going. I’ve never been to Hogsmeade without Fred. I took some time while I was there and…” a mischievous grin lit his face, “I snuck into Hogwarts using the tunnel from Honeydukes.”
His grin faded as he recalled the moment. “I got really angry at Fred. I mean who the hell dies from a wall falling on them? I also laughed because he died in an explosion...that does make sense, right?”
Harry nodded with a faint smile on his face. George sighed. “I also realized that I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing. I miss Fred more than I can say. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed and other days I’m doing okay. I went to St Mungo’s on Monday and I’m going to a support group for those who lost loved ones in the war. I went to the first meeting that night and it really opened my eyes. There was one poor lady who lost her husband and two children in an attack the day before the battle. It made me realize that I’m not the only one who has suffered.”
“That’s great,” Harry said. “I’ve been talking to our counsellor here as well. I didn’t want to at first. I mean I’ve been through the loss of my parents and Sirius and Dumbledore without any counselling, so I thought I could get through this, but you know what I realized? I never really grieved for any of them. Ginny’s been amazing. She’s let me talk about them and that has helped me so much. Our counsellor has helped me work through some of my feelings. It’s really helped.”
“I didn’t realize that,” George said.
Harry shrugged. “I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Ginny knew, but I didn’t tell anyone else. Between the two of them…they’ve really helped me. I think people expect you to get over it or something, but that’s not really the way it works. There will be days when I think of something I want to tell Sirius or something I want to ask Dumbledore and when I remember why I can’t it really crashes over me, but I’m recovering much more quickly.”
“I think that’s what I was expecting,” George said. “I’ve been really lucky. I’ve never really lost anyone. My uncles died when I was a baby, but it didn’t affect me at all. I felt bad when Sirius died and Dumbledore and Moody, but I wasn’t all that close to them. I felt worse for you than any thought about them. When I first saw Fred…I won’t lie, I wanted to die. I thought about it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.
“When I was in Hogsmeade, I realized that I was making plans to move on without Fred. Saturday night I went out and got falling down drunk,” he sighed. “Not the most mature option, but it was the easiest. I have to stop doing that.”
“I am so sorry, Harry. I honestly didn’t think about what our drinking was doing to anyone else. Bill came to visit me this morning and read me the riot act. I never knew that you’ve paid over 100 Galleons in bar bills. It is so embarrassing and I want to pay you back.”
“No,” Harry broke in. “I don’t want your money. I just…it’s not good for you to be drinking so much. Ron…I don’t know what to do about him.”
“I’m sorry for what he said this morning,” George said shamefaced.
Harry blushed and dropped his eyes. George hurried to continue, “He’s totally wrong. I don’t know what is wrong with him. No one is talking about you and I personally think that you and Ginny are perfect for each other.”
“Why did he explode like that?” Harry asked in confusion. “I’ve been trying to figure that out.”
George shrugged. “I don’t know exactly. He’s angry that Hermione is at Hogwarts and he’s here. He’s upset that he doesn’t get to see Hermione.” He shot a look over at Harry. “I think he’s upset that you and Ginny may be doing things that he and Hermione haven’t been able to do.”
Harry coloured slightly, but said, “I don’t see why he needs to take that out on me. Ginny and I have been dating for longer than him and Hermione and we have made more of a commitment to each other.”
George raised his hands. “Harry, mate, I think you are perfect for my sister and I’m glad you’re getting married. I don’t particularly want to know what you and she are getting up to when you’re alone.”
Harry laughed. “Okay, no problem.”
Standing George said, “I just wanted to come and apologize and let you know I’ll try to do better. I’m going to a support group meeting tonight so I will be home late, but I won’t be out drinking.”
Harry smiled and shook George’s hand. “You don’t owe me any explanations, but I’m glad you are getting help. If you need anything from me at all, please let me know.”
“I’m so glad,” Ginny said after she listened to Harry recount his conversation with George several days later. “He needs some help.”
“He’s been doing great,” Harry said. “I think he even met one of the people for coffee or something. He’s connecting to people again.”
“What about Ron?”
“He’s angry and upset,” Harry said sadly. “I don’t know how to help him. I’d hoped that with George not going out Ron would stop, but he hasn’t. He’s angry that Bill came down on him and he’s angry that I talked to Bill.”
“He’s going to have to realize that he can’t keep acting this way,” Ginny said softly. She glanced around the library where she and Harry were talking. “Hermione is losing patience with him as well. He hardly ever replies to her letters. She is worried about him. She’s not sure what is wrong, but she said even when he was here that there was something off. They had a good weekend , but she gets nervous when all he talks about in his brief letters is going out with the shop girls.”
“I don’t think she has anything to worry about with them,” Harry said. “I wonder what his issue is with us.”
“Who knows,” Ginny replied. She was rather upset at the way her brother was acting. She was especially upset at what he’d said to Harry. Glancing at her watch, she realized that Harry would have to leave soon. “Let’s go for a walk, sweetie.”
They spent the rest of the evening cuddling and trading kisses. Harry decided he wasn’t going to worry about Ron any more. He hoped his friend would come around and he wanted to be there for him, but if Ron was going to continue to be angry and self-destructive there wasn’t much he could do.
Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and found it empty. Seamus had gone home for the weekend and George was spending the weekend at the Burrow. Harry was glad that George was making such an effort to reconnect with his parents. According to both George and Ginny, Mrs Weasley was doing much better and seemed much more like her old self.
It was past two in the morning when Kreacher woke him. “Sorry to wake you Master, but there is a Floo call for you.”
Blearily, Harry stumbled down the stairs. He’d have to talk to Kreacher about installing a smaller communication Floo on one of the upper levels. Having the only Floo in the basement was rather annoying. He hoped it wasn’t a call out. Teddy was coming over in the morning and he didn’t want anything to interfere with that visit. He’d not been able to see Teddy for a few weeks so he was really looking forward to this weekend.
His heart sank when he saw Tom in the Floo. When Tom saw him, he said, “Sorry to bother you Mr Potter. Young Mr Weasley is causing a huge disturbance. He’s very drunk and getting quite loud and belligerent. I’ve already broken up one fight and I’m afraid he’s going to start another one.”
Harry nodded as he considered his options. “What would happen if I didn’t come?”
“I’ll have to call the authorities,” Tom said. “He’d be arrested and at the least there would be a fine.”
Groaning Harry said, “Give me a few minutes.”
He got dressed and was going to Apparate to the Leaky Cauldron, but instead found himself outside the Burrow. He was able to wake Mr Weasley and explain what was happening. “I was going to just go, but if he’s angry and belligerent I don’t think I should go by myself.”
Mr Weasley nodded in a distracted way as he thought over what Harry had told him. Bill and George had both mentioned that Ron was having problems, but this was more than he’d anticipated.
Walking over to the Floo, Mr Weasley threw some Floo powder into the fireplace. “Leaky Cauldron!”
When Tom answered, Mr Weasley said, “Tom, I believe you need to call the authorities.”
Tom nodded. “I thought it was getting to that point. Sorry for the trouble this will cause.”
“I think it needs to be done,” Mr Weasley replied. He turned from the fireplace to a stunned Harry. “I know you want to help Ron, but he has to want the help. I’m hoping this will serve as a wakeup call for him.”
“But he’ll have to pay a fine and might have charges levied against him,” Harry protested.
“If he does, he will have earned them,” Mr Weasley said firmly. “Trust me, son, I don’t like this any more than you do, but I also don’t like what I’m hearing from my other boys. It sounds as though you have covered quite a bit of money in bar tabs for him and you’ve rescued him and George quite enough. He needs to face the consequences of his actions.”
Reluctantly Harry agreed and returned back to Grimmauld Place. To his surprise, he fell back asleep easily. He would deal with Ron in the morning.
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