|SIYE Time:23:00 on 27th May 2017|
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: The year after the war was a confusing time for the teen warriors. They had fought against the greatest evil - what was next? Follow them as they try to find out. Canon pairings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 71099; Chapter Total: 1701
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sorry for the very long wait. I hope you enjoy this update. Harry's family information as related by Silverblade is his actual family history per JKR. Nigel Potter is my invention. I remember reading somewhere that a British PM was the fifth cousin once removed to the Queen. I thought it was funny that such a tenuous relationship would even be remarked on. Thanks to my betas Arnel and Steph and my Brit picker Mark!
Narcissa stormed into the breakfast room the day after Boxing Day and was relieved to find her son alone. “What the hell are you doing?”
Reaching out for another piece of toast, Draco replied, “What are you talking about?”
To most people, his bored drawl would indicate boredom, but Narcissa detected a touch of fear in his voice. “I visited Irma Parkinson yesterday. She was telling me that ‘the children’ will be getting revenge against Potter on the Dark Lord’s birthday.”
Draco smiled. “We will.”
A crack sounded loud in the quiet room as Narcissa smacked her son across the face. Before he could react, she pulled her wand and Disarmed him. “You foolish, foolish boy! Did you learn nothing?”
“But…what are you talking about?”
“Your father and the Dark Lord were always going on about getting Potter. Where did it get them? Your father is in prison. The Dark Lord is dead. My sister is dead.”
“Exactly! We must avenge them!”
Rolling her eyes, Narcissa dropped into the chair across from her son. “What is your brilliant plan? You are going to kidnap or kill Potter or his whore and what?”
Draco frowned at his mother. “What do you mean?”
“What is your plan for after this revenge? Is Potter going to forget about you and let you live here? Are you going on the run? Is this a suicide mission?”
“Potter will be so broken up he won’t know what to do,” Draco said scornfully. “He’ll never know it was us.”
“Please tell me you’re joking. Did he fall apart after Sirius died? Did he fall apart after Dumbledore died? No! He’s not going to fall apart now. If you kill him, you will be hunted for the rest of your life. If you kill his whore he will kill you. Please don’t kid yourself that he won’t immediately suspect you.”
“So I should just ignore everything he’s done to ruin our lives?”
“Ruin our lives?” Narcissa looked at him in amazement. “If it weren’t for him, we would all be in jail. Draco, I know you. You aren’t like your father and my sister. You don’t enjoy injuring and torturing like he did. How are you going to do what the Dark Lord and his loyal Death Eaters, who revelled in the killing and torturing, couldn’t do?”
“Ted thinks we have a great plan,” Draco said defensively.
“To kill Potter’s whore and assume no one will ever catch you.” Narcissa shook her head. “Draco, you need to grow up and start looking at the long term. What do you want to be doing in five years?”
Draco frowned. “What do you mean?”
“What do you want to be doing in five years?
Draco shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t exactly been able to make plans the past few years. When I was younger I wanted to be a Potions Master.” He toyed with his toast as he thought about it. “In five years I’ll be twenty-three and I’d like to be married and getting ready to start a family.”
“How will you do that if you end up in jail or on the run like the last of the Death Eaters?”
“Draco, you have an amazing opportunity to start over with a minimal record. Why are you endangering your future? Use your cunning, use your ambition. Show Potter and his friends that you can make something of your life.”
“But Pansy and Ted think we need to get revenge against Weasley. She was one of the leaders of the stupid rebellion last year.”
“Pansy and Ted? Neither of them have your opportunities. You need to start looking to the future. Have you spoken to Mr Greengrass? It is time you started spending time with your betrothed and not with people who will pull you down. I’m not sure if Astoria is the appropriate person for you as she was expelled from Hogwarts for wearing a pendant of the Dark Mark, but she is your betrothed. Both of you need to start blending back into society.”
“Am I supposed to go out and start befriending Mudbloods and Blood Traitors?”
“Of course not! We are Purebloods and members of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. I don’t hold with Mudbloods anymore than you do, but I’m not going to sacrifice what little money and influence we have left on a lost cause. Don’t get thrown in prison. Perform your community service hours and we will regroup and regain our influence. Did you enjoy living under the Dark Lord?”
Draco shuddered involuntarily. “No.”
“Neither did I, but I don’t want to live beholden to Potter and Shacklebolt. We need to lay low for a while. I’ve heard from your father. It is possible his sentence may be commuted because he’s helped track down some of the escaped Death Eaters. He is trying to restore some honour to our family name and retain some of our influence. Are you going to destroy all of his hard work?
“While I don’t agree with all of your father’s choices over the years, he has always committed to his decisions and done what he thought was best for our family. He followed the Dark Lord and when it appeared the Dark Lord was gone, Lucius made himself indispensable to that fool Fudge. When the Dark Lord reappeared, your father gladly re-joined the ranks of his faithful followers. You know how badly that turned out. We were prisoners in our own home. Your father didn’t raise his wand in the final battle because his sole concern was you. He defied the Dark Lord to ensure your safety — both of us did. Don’t throw that away.”
Silence reigned in the breakfast room for a few minutes. Narcissa watched her son and cursed the fact that her husband had so much influence over him. She wasn’t blind. She knew her son had his faults. He had picked up his father’s bullying, but didn’t have the cruelty to follow through. He was a bit of a coward, but Narcissa didn’t mind. She could work with him and she could work with Astoria if she was removed from her current circle of friends.
“What should I do? Ted and Pansy are counting on me.”
“Simply tell them you can’t help. If they chose to go ahead on their own, so be it.”
Narcissa rose and left behind a pensive son. She prayed he would make the right choice.
Harry hurried out of the Ministry and headed for Gringotts. As he approached the formidable old building, he was happy to see both Bill and Ginny waiting for him. Ginny’s face lit up when she caught sight of him and she hurried down the steps and threw her arms around him.
He leaned down and kissed her. “Hello, beautiful.”
She grinned back up at him. “Hi.”
Linking her hand in his, he led the way up the steps to where Bill was patiently waiting. “Have the two of you been waiting long?”
She shrugged. “Not really. Bill and I went to lunch and I spent some time with George and Ron. They are really excited about the New Year’s Eve celebration.”
“I saw the flyers at the Ministry. It looks brilliant. Food, friends, and fireworks — what’s not to love?”
Ginny nodded excitedly. “Hermione said it was like a street party. There will be tables set up and all of the restaurants on the Alley will be providing some food. Percy even said they will have a stall for the pizza parlour. The chef, Evan, has hired some people to work in the kitchen with him and they have the shop ready to open in the New Year. They’ve been working on the recipes and Evan was very confident that they will be ready for New Year’s Eve.”
“That’s great! I stopped by the shop the other day and spoke with Robert. He’s a really good choice for general manager. He’s worked in restaurants before, both Muggle and wizarding. He’s very excited for this opportunity.”
“It will be great advertising,” Ginny agreed as they reached Bill.
Harry greeted Bill and shook his hand. Casting an anxious look at the goblin guards, he asked, “Everything is okay now, right?”
“Absolutely,” Bill replied. “I’ve spoken to your account manager and told him you might visit. He assured me that all debts have been paid and you are welcome in the bank.”
Re-taking Ginny’s hand, he followed Bill into the lobby. He was gratified to see all the damage had been repaired. Mentally, he practiced the standard goblin greeting in their language. He’d learned in during his time at Gringotts over the summer. Bill led them into a corridor leading away from the lobby. Soon they were standing in a well-appointed, elegant conference room. Once they arrived another door opened and an older goblin entered.
“Mr Potter, I am Silverblade, your account manager.”
Harry nodded respectfully and greeted the man in gobbledegook. Switching to English, he said, “Thank you for meeting me.”
Silverblade nodded and gestured for the others to sit around the conference table. “Mr Potter, I must ask, is it permissible to speak of your financial details in front of this young lady? Curse-breaker Weasley is bound by our rules of confidentiality, but I require your permission to speak in front of your friend.”
“Yes, sir. Ginny and I are engaged and I want her to learn about my accounts as well.”
Silverblade looked over at Bill and asked Bill a question in gobbledegook. Bill responded in the same language. The goblin looked back at Harry. “She is to be your mate?”
“Very well,” Silverblade responded. He opened a large file in front of him. “Mr Potter, your parents James and Lily Potter left their entire estate to you as did Sirius Black. In addition to those two estates, you inherited the Lestrange estate which you have signed over to Mrs Andromeda Tonks. In reward for your defeat of the so-called Dark Lord Voldemort, you have received monetary rewards from several wizarding and Muggle governments.”
Silverblade pushed an account summary across the table. “We have evaluated the contents of the vaults that were willed to you. The total value is circled on the bottom. This does not include the properties you have inherited. The second number is the estimated value of the properties you own in London and Godric’s Hollow.”
Reaching out, Harry took the summary and glanced at it. He winced slightly at the total amount before handing it to Ginny. Her eyes widened at the amount. “Bloody hell.”
That broke the tension that had been building. Harry and Bill started laughing. Harry said, “That was a lot better than my reaction when I first saw it.”
“What do you do with that much money?”
“If I may answer,” Silverblade spoke up. At Harry’s nod, he explained, “While these are the amounts currently in the vaults, Mr Potter has been most generous. He has funded the Remus Lupin Wolfsbane Initiative which provides for full time Potion Masters to provide Wolfsbane free of charge for any werewolf. He has also established two other charities — the Marauders’ Fund which provides funds for families devastated by Dark Magic and the Lily Potter Fund which has established two wizarding orphanages, one in southern England and one in Scotland.”
“Does that sound okay?” Harry asked a bit hesitantly. He’d not had a problem giving away a lot of his money. Surely Ginny wouldn’t
“That sounds wonderful,” Ginny said immediately. She leaned over and kissed him quickly. “You are very generous.”
Harry blushed, and reached over and took her hand. “I’ve set up another account to help revitalize Diagon Alley. I own several buildings and I’ve helped Lavender and the Patils set up their shop. I want to help some of our friends. They had a really good business plan and they were having trouble finding financing. I don’t want to just throw my money away. I feel I owe it to my parents and Sirius to make sure their money isn’t wasted.”
Silverblade took the time to review the investments that had been made for the Potter and Black families. Ginny looked a bit overwhelmed, but Harry thought she was much calmer than he had been when he’d first discovered the extent of his estate. He was very proud of the way she asked appropriate questions and asked about some of the Muggle companies in which they had invested.
Once they had finished discussing the accounts, Harry asked, “Did you find out anything about my family?”
“We were able to trace your family back to the twelfth century to a wizard named Linfred. His oldest son, Hardwin, married a witch named Iolanthe Peverell and settled in Godric’s Hollow. The Potter family has lived in the village since that time. Interestingly enough several of your ancestors seemed to have a talent with potions. Linfred is believed to have developed both Skele-gro and Pepperup Potion. Your relatives have long been supportive of Muggles and Muggle rights. It is possible some of your ancestors were Muggles, but officially your family was considered pureblood until your father married your mother.
“Your grandfather, Fleamont-”
Harry started laughing. “Please tell me you are joking. Fleamont.” Ginny giggled at his tone of voice.
“I am not joking. Apparently, it was his mother’s maiden name. Fleamont developed the Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion.”
“Do you know my grandmother’s name?”
“Euphemia. She and your grandfather died of Dragon Pox before you were born.”
Harry frowned slightly but Silverblade continued, “We investigated your mother’s family tree, but we could not find any other witch or wizard in the Evans’ family tree. Your maternal grandparents, David and Rose Evans were killed in an automobile accident just before your parents married.”
The goblin handed him another scroll of parchment. “This is your family tree as well as we could determine.”
With a slightly shaking hand, Harry took the parchment and unrolled it. It was full of names, but Harry couldn’t read any due to the tears that had suddenly welled up in his eyes. Ginny reached over and took his hand. He smiled as she hugged him tightly. He didn’t know what to say, but with Ginny he didn’t have to. She somehow seemed to know how he was feeling.
After a moment, Harry pulled back and quickly wiped his eyes. “Sorry.”
“No need to apologize, Mr Potter,” Silverblade said, almost kindly for a goblin. “We didn’t find any close relatives. You have a cousin in Godric’s Hollow. There is a Nigel Potter who is your fifth cousin twice removed.”
Harry looked at him in confusion. Glancing at Ginny and Bill, he flushed slightly. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what that means. What is a fifth cousin twice removed?”
“That means the two of you shared a great-great-great-great grandparent, in this case a grandfather. The twice removed refers to generations. The two of you are two generations apart. You are two generations younger than your cousin,” Silverblade explained. He showed Harry on the family tree the point at which they were related. “As you can see, it is not a close relationship, but it does exist.”
Harry shook his head in amazement. “Who would keep track of that sort of thing?”
“Sirius said his mother obsessed over their family tree. My mum has a family tree as well. It’s not as elaborate as the Black family tree, but it goes back several generations,” Ginny explained.
“It is quite common in the wizarding world to know their family connections,” Silverblade put in.
“There was a Charlus Potter on Sirius’ family tree,” Ginny recalled. “I assumed that was one of Harry’s relatives.”
“Charlus Potter was a first cousin to Henry Potter, but he never had any children.”
“Thank you for taking the time to explain of this to me,” Harry said gratefully. “I would like to add Ginny to my accounts.”
“Certainly,” Silverblade replied, “You both need to sign this form.”
Once they had done so, Silverblade said, “When you go down to your family vault, you need to bring her into the vault. Once you’ve done that, she will be able to withdraw from your vault. If you would like to take her down to your vault now, I will have another key made.”
Soon the couple found themselves hurtling down the tracks towards the Potter family vault. Harry entertained Ginny with stories of his time underground helping repair the damage from their escape. The Potter family vault, like the Lestrange and Black vaults, was near the bottom of the vault system. There was a dragon guarding the block of vaults in the area.
Seeing Ginny’s look of confusion, Harry explained, “Charlie and his group helped Gringotts obtain several more guard dragons and designed the habitats so the dragons can thrive. I hadn’t realized that there are some species of dragons that stay mostly underground.”
“I didn’t either,” Ginny admitted.
Harry gripped her hand as they entered the Potter family vault. Ginny’s eyes widened and he had to laugh. “That’s what I thought the first time I saw it as well.”
One wall contained row upon row of money. There were large canisters filled with bronze Knuts, stacks of silver Sickles, and chests of gold Galleons. The vault was filled with all sorts of furniture, art, several chests filled with jewellery, and all sorts of household objects.
“After my parents died, all of the stuff from their house ended up in here,” Harry said. “Sirius once explained that my dad sold my grandparents’ house after they died and their stuff ended up in here as well.”
“This is amazing,” Ginny said as she gazed at a family portrait that appeared to have been painted sometime in the last century. She pointed to the little boy. “I bet that’s your grandfather.”
“Look at this,” Harry said from the other side of the vault. He held up some notebooks. “These seem to be my grandfather’s potions notes. I wish I’d inherited some of his potions ability.”
“It’s not too late,” she replied lightly.
“True,” he said with a smile as he leaned down and kissed her deeply. “Thank you for coming with me.”
Ron glanced at his watch nervously. It was almost noon and he was supposed to meet Harry for lunch. He really wanted to get his relationship with his best mate back on track, but he was nervous. Blushing he recalled his actions over the past few months. He’d treated Harry horribly and he’d once again let his jealousy get the better of him.
Counselling was helping. It rather shocked him because he’d always rather thought the whole mind healing was bunk. George’s recovery had helped him see that perhaps counselling might work. He hated having to face his fears and reliving his bad decisions, but it was helping.
Setting a charm on the station he’d been working on, Ron grabbed his cloak and headed into the Alley. Nervously he reached for the pack of cigarettes in the pocket of his cloak. While he’s promised Hermione he’d quit, he found it quite calming. Once he was feeling a bit better he’d stop.
Upon reaching the restaurant, he dropped his cigarette and ground it down under his heel. Because he still wasn’t really welcome at the Leaky Cauldron, they were trying one of the new places just off Diagon Alley. This was a Chinese restaurant which was something that Ron had only tried recently. It was surprisingly tasty. Hermione had been taking him to a variety of different restaurants and cafes over the break and he was finding it fun. Taking a deep breath, he entered the restaurant. A quick look around showed that Harry had not yet arrived.
He was seated at a table and started looking over the menu. It was only a few minutes before Harry joined him.
“Harry.” Ron smiled as Harry slid into the bench opposite him.
“How’s your training going?” Ron asked after they had both placed their orders.
Harry shrugged. “It’s going well. I’m really enjoying it. We are all taking our driving test next week so I will have my driving licence. I really wish we had this week off. I would have liked to spend more time with Ginny.”
“I can imagine. I’ve been off most of the time Hermione’s been home, but I still have to work a few shifts.”
The two chatted amicably throughout lunch, but never really touched on any emotional topics. Harry talked about his training while Ron talked about the shop.
As the meal was winding down, Ron finally said what had been on his mind all day. “Harry, I am really sorry, mate. I’ve been acting like an ass.”
“What happened? It seemed like everything just fell apart.”
Ron toyed with his glass. “I started resenting how easily you were dealing with everything. Charlie made me see how stupid that was, but I just felt stuck and you were moving on. I guess it was stupid, but I never really imagined the war ending like it did. I imagined you would kill Voldemort and we would return home heroes.”
He laughed a bit self-consciously. “I imagined the accolades and rewards, but I never really imagined anyone dying. You were right when you tried to talk us out of coming with you. I thought it would be an adventure. All of the fights we’d been in up to that point we’d come out on top. Once we were hunting Horcruxes it suddenly seemed more real to me and I suddenly realized that my family was in danger.”
He ducked his head at the incredulous look on Harry’s face. “I just assumed that we would be the ones in danger and I could take care of myself and protect Hermione and then I couldn’t even do that.”
“I know,” Harry said. “I couldn’t protect Ginny. I broke up with her to try and protect her and they still tortured her. I can’t imagine if I’d had to listen to it. I am so, so sorry. I was a fool to get caught up in the stupid Hallows and forget about the Taboo.”
Ron smiled. “You’ve already apologized enough. Hermione pointed out to me that the Taboo was put in place to catch strong wizards who are brave enough to say his name — that certainly describes you. What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry for agreeing to go with you without thinking it through. I thought we’d kick a little ass, you’d defeat You-Know-Who and we’d go home. I didn’t take your warnings seriously and I am sorry for that.”
“Thank you,” Harry said softly. “I won’t deny it’s been difficult. I’d hoped that without Voldemort hanging over my head that everything would be great. Ginny has been amazing and I don’t know what I’d do without her, but I miss you and Hermione. Can we start again and leave all of this behind us?”
Ginny grinned up at her fiancé as she climbed up the stairs in Grimmauld Place. She twirled as she reached the landing so he could see the whole outfit. She was wearing snug Muggle jeans with a beautiful deep purple jumper and black boots.
Harry hopped down the last two steps to join her on the landing. Leaning down he kissed her deeply. Several long minutes later, he pulled away breathing heavily. “You look amazing!”
“Thank you, love.” Ginny leaned into him and wrapped her arms around him. “I missed you so much.”
“I’m thrilled that you have three whole days here with me,” Harry said with a smile. “Seamus is in Ireland with his family and George is at the Burrow, so it is just the two of us.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Really? That sounds interesting.”
Laughing, he linked his hand with hers. “Let’s go put your stuff in my room.”
As they climbed the stairs, Ginny caught him up to date with the happenings at the Burrow. “Ron and Hermione are going to her parents’ for dinner tomorrow night, but they will be at the party tonight.”
Ginny set her bag down on Harry’s bed and delighted in putting her clothes in Harry’s large wardrobe. After putting her toiletry items away, she smiled. In just under a year, she would be moving in here permanently.
“How was your mum?”
“Surprisingly, she wasn’t as upset as I thought she’d be. I think over the past few months she’s had time to realize that we are serious in our relationship and we are getting married. She told me that she didn’t agree with my choice to ‘become intimate’ before marriage, but that she wasn’t going to stop me.”
“Good,” Harry murmured as he walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. He held her tightly for a minute before he started
kissing his way down her neck. She melted against him before turning in his arms. Sliding her hands up his arms, she kissed him. She felt her pulse skyrocket as his tongue slid alongside hers.
His hand slid under her jumper and pushed it up as he ran his hands up her back. They pulled away briefly as he pulled her jumper over her head. His hands were so warm on her bare skin. Suddenly she had to feel his skin as well. She pushed his shirt over his head and her hands roamed over his chest.
He pulled her into another deep kiss even as he started walking them backwards towards his bed. When they reached the bed, she pushed him down onto it and took a step backwards. He looked amazing as he lay on the bed leaning up on one elbow. His lips were swollen and his hair was even more of a mess than usual. She noticed with interest that the top button of his jeans had come undone.
She could feel his eyes on her as she pulled off her boots. Smiling over at him, she made a production out of undoing and sliding off her jeans and knickers. Walking over to him, she could see the desire in his eyes. It was intoxicating how much she could affect him. He pulled off the rest of his clothes much more hastily than she had done.
Climbing onto the bed, she crawled over him. He just watched her, his eyes showing how much he was enjoying this. As she straddled him, he swore and gripped her legs. She leaned down and kissed him, enjoying the feel of his skin on hers. He let her control their joining and she took her time enjoying the feel of him against her.
Much later she settled down in his arms, with her head on his chest. She loved listening to his heart beating so steadily.
“That was brilliant,” he murmured as he tightened his arms around her. They drifted off to sleep wrapped in each other’s arms.
When she woke up, it was obviously late afternoon by the setting sun. Glancing at the clock, she discovered it was just after four in the afternoon. Stretching, she decided to jump in the shower before waking Harry. By the time she was done in the shower, he was awake.
While he showered, she started getting ready for the evening. She applied some of the make-up that Fleur had taught her to use. She decided she liked playing with different looks. For tonight, she was trying the smoky eye that Fleur had described. Her hair she pulled back in combs and let it curl down her back.
“You look beautiful,” Harry said as he walked up behind her. He was watching her in the mirror as she finished with her hair.
Harry quickly dressed in the dark trousers and blue and black striped jumper she’d picked out for him. He pulled on his new dragon hide boots. As he was trying to fix his hair, she said, “You look very sexy tonight.”
He gave her a quizzical look. “I don’t think so. You look sexy, but I’m just me.”
“And I think you are sexy.”
He laughed shaking his head. “I have no idea why, but I’m not going to argue with you.”
“Do you want to eat now, or head off to Diagon Alley? There will be tons of food there.”
“Let’s head to Diagon Alley.”
Most of the shops were closed for the evening, but a few remained open. The streets were lit up and had obviously been cleaned for the occasion. Several carts selling food, drink, and silly New Year’s items were doing a brisk business. There were tables set up behind the Leaky Cauldron and at several locations throughout the wizarding streets.
“This is going to be fun,” Ginny said with a grin. Harry had to agree.
She grabbed his arm. “There’s the pizza cart. Why don’t we try it out?”
He agreed and they headed towards the cart that was parked outside the restaurant. While the restaurant wasn’t opening for another week, Evan had been using the kitchens for the pizzas. Robert had set up several tables outside the restaurant. They were hoping to set up an outdoor eating area in nicer weather, but for now they simply had some tables and chairs so people could enjoy the food.
“How’s it going?” Harry asked.
Evan grinned. “It’s going well, mate. We’ve been selling well. I have several of the cooks making more pizzas.”
“It smells heavenly,” Ginny put in.
“What would you like?”
There was a large sign against the cart describing the pizzas. Dean had drawn miniature versions of the dragons after which the pizzas were named.
Ginny chose an Antipodean Opaleye or a cheese and pepperoni pizza. Harry spent some time before deciding he wanted to try the Hawaiian Firebreather or pineapple and ham pizza.
“Good choices,” Evan said as he served them. Gesturing to the large bins filled with ice, he said, “There is plenty to drink. The red has alcoholic drinks — alcopops, beer, wine. The blue is non-alcoholic drinks — pumpkin juice, fizzy drinks, and butterbeer. Help yourself.”
Digging through the red bin, Harry dug out drinks for both of them. Sitting at the table, they watched people milling through the Alley. The pizza cart seemed quite busy.
“I forgot to tell you, I was working on wedding planning with my mum.”
Harry smiled at the happiness in her voice. “What did you come up with?”
“How does December 18th sound? It’s a week before Christmas so we can go on a brief honeymoon and still be back for Christmas.”
“What day of the week is it?”
“It’s a Saturday.”
“I talked to Professor Flitwick and he promised to help with some charms to decorate and maintain the Christmas trees. I want to have several trees around the edge of the marquee. Bill said they would be around the edge of the tent during the ceremony.” She looked over at him. “You are still okay with getting married at the Burrow?”
“Who are you going to have as groomsmen?”
He made a face. “How many do I need?”
“I’m going to ask Demelza to be my maid of honour and Hermione and Luna as my bridesmaids.”
“I don’t know, Gin. If you’d asked me a year ago I would have said Ron was my best man, but now…I don’t know. I’d rather ask Seamus, but I don’t want to completely offend Ron. Do I have to decide right now?”
“No, we will need to talk to them, but not quite yet. Do you have anyone else besides Ron and Seamus?”
Ginny’s face lit up. “Bill? He’ll be thrilled.”
Blushing slightly, Harry said, “He’s been great. I…he…I think he makes a great big brother.”
“He does,” Ginny agreed.
“Are you having fun?” Neville asked. He and Hannah had joined Harry and Ginny at one of the tables.
Ginny nodded. “It’s great to see everyone having a good time.”
“Did you meet Michael’s sister, Charlotte? She’s here with Michael and Terry,” Hannah said as she gestured to the three of them at a table not too far away.
“Harry and I met her earlier,” Ginny replied. “I love that it’s safe enough for a Muggle to come to this party.”
She glanced over at her fiancé who was talking to Ron and Hermione who’d commandeered the small table next to theirs. Harry was laughing at some story Ron was telling about a customer that had been in earlier in the week.
George and Lee were running the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ cart, but they had each dropped by to talk. Bill and Fleur had been sitting with them, but were currently talking to friends of theirs from Gringotts.
“The pizza is excellent,” Neville said as he pushed his empty plate away. “I reckon they will make tons of money.”
“I can’t believe pizza hasn’t caught on in the wizarding world,” Hermione said joining the conversation.
Harry laughed. “That’s exactly what I said. My cousin would live on pizza if he could. I can’t believe what a great job Percy and George have done. You all are all welcome to the grand opening next week. January 9th.”
Ginny pouted. “I wish we could be there.”
“Why don’t you ask Professor McGonagall?” Neville suggested. “She might make an exception.”
Ginny brightened up. Looking over at Hermione, she said, “What do you think? Would you want to come with me?”
“Of course! Do you really think she might allow it?”
“It’s possible. She’s really mellowed out after last year.” Ginny shrugged. Standing she missed the incredulous look that passed between Hermione and Ron.
Ginny stood a bit unsteadily. The amount of alcohol she’d consumed over the evening had left her a bit lightheaded. Touching Harry’s hand, she said, “I’m heading over to the loo.”
“I’ll come with you,” Hermione said.
He smiled and watched as they walked away. He glanced over at Ron who was taking advantage of Hermione’s absence to step into one of the side streets and sneak a cigarette. Harry shook his head. He knew Hermione thought he’d quit, but he wasn’t going to get in the middle of it. While things were improving, he still didn’t feel entirely comfortable with them. He hoped that would change in the future.
Frowning, he looked back over the street. Something had caught his eye, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Silently he cursed himself for drinking so much that evening. While he wasn’t totally pissed, he could tell he wasn’t as sharp and in control as usual.
Straightening up, he cast the sobering charm on himself. While it didn’t totally reverse the effects of the alcohol, it did an excellent job of sobering him up. He started walking across the alley.
Looking over his shoulder, Harry saw Terry and Michael behind him. “I don’t know. I saw something a minute ago, but I can’t recall exactly what.”
“There are Aurors scattered throughout the Alley,” Michael said as he joined Harry in scanning the area. “I heard Dawlish say there would be Aurors near Knockturn Alley as well.”
“Unfortunately, just being on Knockturn Alley isn’t against the law,” Terry said.
“Damn! Half the wizarding world is here tonight,” Harry groused.
“There’s Posey Parkinson,” Michael murmured. “I bet that means her sister is here as well.”
“I hope that doesn’t mean Malfoy is here.”
“I haven’t seen him,” Terry said.
The three trainees reached the other side of the Alley and looked around. Try as he might, Harry couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Just as he was wondering if he’d imagined it, he heard a scream. He recognized that scream — it was Ginny.
Hermione washed her hands and waited while Ginny did the same. It had been a fun evening so far. She was pleased with how well Ron was getting along with both Harry and Ginny. Ron’s temper had been tested when he’d learned that Ginny was spending a few days in London with Harry, but Hermione was proud of how he’d kept his temper.
Glancing over at her companion, she wished Ginny would be a bit more understanding of Ron’s feelings. This should have been such a wonderful Christmas. Since her fourth year Christmas had been full of anger and tension - the fight at the Yule Ball, the worry over Mr Weasley’s attack, her anger with Ron during her sixth year, and the horror and worry over Nagini’s Christmas Eve attack last year. She’d hoped this year would be different.
She watched as Ginny fixed her hair. Catching Ginny’s eye, she said, “You look really nice tonight.”
“Thank you,” Ginny said as she flushed slightly. “This has been so much fun. So much better than last year.”
Hermione laughed. “I was just thinking the same thing.”
The pair exited onto Diagon Alley. Ginny started to lead the way back to where Harry and the others were waiting. She heard a gasp behind her and turned to see Hermione fall.
“Don’t worry about the Mudblood,” Pansy said cruelly as she pointed her wand at Ginny. As Ginny went to grab her wand, she was grabbed from behind. Twisting her head, she saw Ted Nott.
“What the hell do you two want?” Ginny asked defiantly.
Ted took her wand and snapped it. He laughed at the look of devastation on her face. Grabbing her hair, he wrapped it around his fist and pulled hard. Ginny’s eyes watered, she wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of crying out.
Pansy laughed. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”
Pushing her ahead of him, Nott steered her towards Knockturn Alley. Pansy followed keeping an eye out for anyone following them.
Ginny tried to pull away from them, but Nott was a lot stronger than he looked. Trying not to panic, Ginny realized that to everyone around them, Ted was just holding her. Scanning the crowd, she hoped that Harry would realize something was wrong. Knowing she didn’t want to enter Knockturn Alley, she screamed.
Ted jerked her around and backhanded her. Pansy hastily cast a Silencing Spell. “Be quiet, bitch! This is for the Dark Lord.”
As they neared the intersection, Posey Parkinson and Gregory Goyle stepped out of the shadows.
“This way,” Posey said as she led them into Fortescue’s abandoned ice cream parlour. “There’s a back alley that leads to the Dark Potions’ shop. We can use their Floo.”
Ginny struggled, but Ted had passed her over to Goyle. If she couldn’t break free from Nott, she had no chance of breaking free from Goyle. They reached the courtyard in back of the ice cream parlour. As they reached the fence that led to the service alley that ran behind Knockturn Alley, Gregory pulled his wand and pointed it skyward.
Pans y smiled as they heard the screams of horror from the people on the alley. “Fools! Our Lord’s Mark still scares those fools.”
“Too bad Draco decided not to join us. He wouldn’t mind a piece of that,” Ted laughed as he gestured to Ginny.
Frowning, Pansy gestured for them to follow her. “I don’t want to stay here any longer than we have to.”
Posey unlocked the door to the now empty shop. Gregory pushed Ginny towards the fireplace. Pansy threw the Floo powder in the fire. Nothing happened. Pansy swore. “They’ve shut down the Floo Network.”
“Maybe you should have waited to cast the Dark Mark until the blood traitor was gone,” Ted said nervously as he looked around.
“Let’s get to Borgin and Burke’s. Borgin will do anything for a price.”
Peering out the front door, Ted relaxed. “I think they are all still on Diagon Alley. There is no one out there.”
Pansy laughed. “Please, it will take Potter forever to track us. He will pay us well for the return of his little blood traitor.”
Gregory shoved Ginny out into the street where she was surrounded by the whole group. Ted and Gregory were on either side of her with Pansy in front and her sister behind them. They had only taken a few steps, when spell fire erupted from the darkness.
Ginny pulled away as Gregory went limp from the Stunner that hit him. Looking around she saw Harry approaching. Without even thinking, she threw her arms around him. He held her upper arms as he looked her over. “Are you okay?”
She nodded even as tears started pouring down her face. Harry stared at her for a moment before wrapping her tightly in his arms. “I was so worried about you.”
In the background she could hear the Auror trainees arresting and dispatching the four who had attacked her to the Ministry for questioning.
Harry pulled away slightly and looked over her shoulder. She turned slightly to see Mr Robards.
“You and Miss Weasley should go check in with your friends,” Robards said. “I will debrief Corner and Boot.”
“Thank you, sir.”
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