|SIYE Time:4:07 on 23rd November 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: 80815; Chapter Total: 1132
Awards: View Trophy Room
Yes, I am still working on this story! Thanks to my beta, Arnel! I also wanted to thank all of those who have sent gentle reminders and not to subtle hints to get back to writing again!
The Malfoy ballroom was elegantly decorated. Hundreds of candles floated in the air, swags of greenery and fairy lights decorated the large mantel, and a large Christmas tree dominated one corner. A string quartet played music from the corner of the room and well-dressed servers walked around with trays of food and drink.
Narcissa was in her element as she entertained. Draco was splendidly attired in a manner befitting his family’s social status. He was escorting his betrothed, Astoria Greengrass. Narcissa had invited many of the prominent pure-blood families — the Abbots, the Averys, the Flints, the Bulstrodes, the Macmillans, the Selwyns, and the Travers. While the Abbots and Macmillans didn’t show up, many of the other families were trying, as was she, to regain some of the prominence they’d once held, so they had come to the party to see and be seen. All of them wanted to rehabilitate their image. She’d purposefully left off the Notts and Parkinsons as they were still declaring loyalty to the Dark Lord. Her main purpose in this party was to show that they were putting distance between themselves and those who still supported the Dark Lord.
She was circulating in the ballroom when she heard a commotion by the front door. Excusing herself, she headed towards the noise and found Aurors Proudfoot and Williamson.
“May I help you gentlemen?”
Auror Proudfoot spoke up. “We have come to speak to your son, Draco.”
“It that really necessary? We are holding a New Year’s Eve ball.”
“Your son’s name was mentioned in regards to an attempted kidnapping this evening.”
“That is ridiculous! He has been here all evening.”
Proudfoot stared at her as if he was trying to ascertain if she was telling the truth or not. “I just have a few questions. If he has been here all evening, it will be a short conversation.”
Narcissa frowned. “Very well.”
A few moments later, Draco appeared in the entry way. “May I help you?”
“We have a few questions about the attempted kidnapping of Miss Ginevra Weasley,” the Auror said.
“I don’t know anything about that.”
“Ted Nott was heard to say it was too bad you chose not to participate.”
Draco shrugged. “I knew of a plan to attempt to honour the Dark Lord’s birthday by wreaking revenge on Potter. I told Ted and Pansy that I would not participate. I thought perhaps they wouldn’t follow through on it. The last I heard them talking about it, they weren’t even sure what they would do. The plan was poorly conceived and apparently poorly carried out.”
“You didn’t think to notify anyone of the plot?” Williamson asked aggressively.
“As I said, they didn’t have any concrete plans and I didn’t think they would go through with anything,” Draco drawled coolly. “I take it Miss Weasley was not actually kidnapped.”
“She was taken, but Mr Potter was able to rescue her before they were able to remove her from Knockturn Alley.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Draco said stiffly.
“If that will be all, may we return to our ball?” Narcissa asked.
Looking around the ballroom, Proudfoot wanted to swear in frustration. “Of course, Mrs Malfoy.” He assigned a team to follow up with some of the party goers in the morning, but the Aurors assigned to the house hadn’t seen Malfoy leave all night. All of the party guests and staff had entered through an Auror-manned entry point to ensure there were no Death Eaters. The house had been searched prior to party and the spells that were used for tracking Malfoy showed he’d not left the house all evening.
Proudfoot reluctantly left Malfoy Manor. As much he as would love to arrest Malfoy, it seemed he’d not been involved in tonight’s debacle.
Ginny rushed forward to where Hermione was sitting. Ron had an arm around her and a healer had just finished examining her. “Are you okay?”
Hermione reached out and pulled her into a hug. “I’m fine. They were in such a hurry to get you they just bashed me on the head.”
Tears filled Ginny’s eyes as she shakily reached a hand out towards the bandage on Hermione’s head. “I am so, so sorry.”
“Ginny!” Hermione reprimanded her. “You didn’t do anything.” Looking at the darkening bruise on Ginny’s cheek and the red mark around her neck Hermione asked, “How are you?”
“Just bruised.” Ginny settled back into the protective circle of Harry’s arms. “Luckily Harry found me before they could get away.”
“Did you arrest Malfoy?” Ron asked angrily.
“It wasn’t him,” Ginny said firmly. “They even said he turned down the chance to participate. It was Pansy, her sister, Nott, and Goyle.”
“Malfoy must have had something to do with it,” Ron insisted.
“Not now, Ron,” Harry said firmly. “He wasn’t here tonight.”
The healer examined Ginny and offered a Calming Draught which she refused. As the healer left, Bill and Fleur hurried over. Bill pulled her into his arms even as George joined them. Harry quickly explained what happened.
Kissing his sister on top of the head, Bill looked over at Harry. “Thank you.”
Kingsley and Robards approached the group. Kingsley stepped forward. “Are you two ladies okay?”
Hermione and Ginny both nodded.
“Can you tell us what happened?”
Ginny began, “We were leaving the ladies’. I heard Hermione gasp and when I turned around, she was on the ground. Pansy hit her over the head. Nott grabbed me from behind and snapped my wand. He forced me to walk down the street. I screamed, that’s when he hit me and Pansy used the Silencing Charm.
“Posey and Goyle were waiting outside the old ice cream parlour and we went through the shop where there’s a service alley for Knockturn Alley. Once we reached the alley, someone cast the Dark Mark. I guess it must have been Goyle.”
She shuddered slightly and leaned into Harry. “They were planning to use the Floo in the Dark Potions shop, but it was locked down by the time we arrived there. Someone suggested they go to Borgin & Burke. I don’t remember everything.”
Ron spoke up. “You said something about Malfoy.”
“Ted said something like it was too bad Draco decided not to join them,” Ginny blushed and looked down. “He said Draco would want a piece of me.”
Ron cursed loudly, but a glare from Kingsley shut him up. The Minister gestured for Ginny to continue.
“They were forcing me to walk down Knockturn Alley and that’s when Harry and the others caught up to us.”
Robards looked over at Hermione. “Do you have anything to add?”
“Not really,” Hermione said regretfully. “I was following Ginny out of the loo and then I felt pain in my head. The next thing I knew, Ron was waking me up.”
Harry shared his story. How he thought he saw something and heard Ginny’s scream. Ron and Neville went to the bathrooms to check on Ginny and Hermione, while Harry, Michael, and Terry went to the spot where they’d heard the scream.
“Just as we arrived, I heard someone cast the Dark Mark,” Harry said. “We figured they were going to Knockturn Alley so I sent a Patronus to Auror Lauren to shut down the Floo network. Michael and Terry cast the Anti-Apparition and Portkey Charms.”
Michael spoke up, “There weren’t many people on Knockturn Alley, so it was relatively easy to find them.”
“Good job, everyone,” Robards said. “Potter, Boot, and Corner will need to document the event. It would be best to do it tonight while it is fresh in your memory. Miss Weasley, we will need to photograph your wounds and take your official statement. The same for you, Miss Granger. I hate to take you away from the party.”
In the end, they all Apparated to the Ministry. Bill and Fleur accompanied them while George slipped a tube of bruise paste into Ginny’s hand to use after the pictures were taken.
Robards took Ginny’s and Hermione’s statements while Harry and the other Auror trainees completed their forms. Working together, they managed to finish within the hour and they were all back on Diagon Alley before midnight.
“I sent Mum a note letting her know there was an incident, but you were fine,” Bill said. At her glare, he calmly said, “You know if she read about it in the paper tomorrow she would either send a Howler or Apparate over to yell at you — neither of which I think you want to happen.”
Ginny relented. “I guess you are right.”
Neville greeted all of them with a basket of cold drinks. “I figured you needed to catch up to the rest of us.”
“Thanks, mate,” Harry said appreciatively. He knew Ginny wanted to celebrate, not continue to talk about what happened. He grabbed two of the brightly coloured drinks and handed one to his fiancée.
The appearance of the Dark Mark hadn’t cast too much of a pall over the party. Neville quietly told Harry that while a few people had left, most of them stayed. “Kingsley did something to make the Dark Mark disappear. He talked to the crowd and calmed down their fears. He’s amazing, that man.”
Harry nodded. “That he is. I’m not surprised he was able to calm everyone down. He’s good at that.”
He watched as George and Percy fussed over Ginny. She looked over at him and grinned, blowing him a kiss.
As midnight approached, George and Lee prepared their fireworks presentation. Harry wrapped his arms around Ginny, pulling her back into his chest. He linked his hands with both of hers and just enjoyed holding her in his arms.
She leaned back into his shoulder and looked up at him. “Thank you.”
“A lot of things,” she said with a smile. “Thank you for finding me and rescuing me, again. Thank you for being okay with coming back here. Thank you for just being you.”
“I will always come and find you,” Harry said dropping a kiss on the side of her head. “I was so scared,
but at the same time…I felt confident I’d find you.”
“I’m glad Hermione wasn’t hurt worse. Ron would have been devastated.”
Harry nodded. “Pansy was certainly focused on getting you. It doesn’t sound like they had much of a plan. They wanted to honour the ‘Dark Lord’. Tonight would have been his birthday, so they wanted to either grab you or kill me or something. It was just bad luck that Pansy saw you and Hermione headed for the toilets.”
Ginny giggled. “I can’t really imagine Tom celebrating his birthday with his Death Eaters.”
Harry burst out laughing at the image it conjured up. “Can you imagine? ‘What, I already have one of these! Crucio!’”
“What sort of present do you even give someone like him?”
“A baby Basilisk?”
“He’d probably enjoy that.” She shook her head. “I can’t really imagine him calling his friends over for cake.”
“A snake-shaped cake maybe,” Harry laughed. “They could have used Nagini as a model.”
“What flavour do you think? I hope not chocolate,” Ginny mused.
Harry shook his head. “No, I can’t see him eating chocolate. How about a liver and onion flavoured cake? No, wait a cake made with vomit flavoured beans.”
“That’s disgusting!” Ginny laughed. “That would be perfect. It suits him. I would love to see Malfoy choking down some of that cake without showing how gross it was.”
“How about earwax ice cream?”
They burst out laughing. Harry leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you.”
Her eyes sparkled. “I love you, too.”
Suddenly the night sky lit up with a countdown to midnight. The crowd chanted the number aloud. At the end, a large 1999 exploded in the sky followed by a loud and colourful fireworks display.
Turning in Harry’s arms, Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. Seamus, Michael, and Neville managed to score several kisses from girls laughing on the street while Ron and Hermione shared a sweet kiss.
Shortly after midnight, Ginny turned to Harry. “I’m ready to go home now.”
Looking down, Harry could see the adrenalin and excitement of the evening had worn off. “Of course, love.”
Ron and Hermione had wandered off in search of some privacy, but Neville and Seamus were still talking at the next table.
“Do you mind letting Ron and Hermione know we left?” Harry asked.
“Not at all,” Neville reassured him.
Ginny said a quick goodbye to Bill and Fleur who promised to tell the rest of her brothers she’d left.
Arriving back at Grimmauld Place, Ginny washed her face and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The bruise on her cheek stood out and the redness around her neck was more pronounced. Tears filled her eyes and she stopped to consider for the first time what might have happened. She knew Nott’s reputation. He would have raped her, of that she had no doubt.
Turning, she saw Harry standing by the bed. He read the look on her face and hurried over. She collapsed in his arms crying. Lifting her, he carried her over to the bed and held her as she cried. He ran his hands through her hair and dropped kisses on top of her head. “I’ve got you, love.”
“I don’t know why I’m crying now,” she managed to choke out.
“I’m so proud of you. You screamed and fought, which helped me find you.”
“I couldn’t get away.”
Harry nodded. “I know, but you stayed calm.”
Slowly her tears dried up. “Thank you.”
“Always, my love.”
“Can you just hold me?”
Harry pulled the covers up around them and adjusted his hold so she was lying with her head on his shoulder. It didn’t take her long to fall asleep, but Harry was awake much longer haunted by the events of the night.
“Mother, I’m fine,” Ginny tried to reassure her mother for the fourth or fifth time. She’d made a Floo call to her mother first thing in the morning to reassure her she was still alive, but now she was wishing she’d put it off.
“You’d be much safer here at home.”
“Mum, I’m fine here.”
“I don’t want you wondering about London,” Mrs Weasley continued, not stopping to listen to her daughter. “Merlin knows what those people planned.”
“Mum, they are all in prison,” Ginny replied exasperated by the conversation.
“That Malfoy boy isn’t. Ron told me that last night.”
Mentally cursing her brother, Ginny said, “There was no evidence he was involved. Mum, the Aurors are investigating. Kingsley and Mr Robards were there last night. If there was anyone else involved they will find out. Everyone who was there last night is in jail.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Mum, I have to go,” Ginny said firmly. “I’m fine and I’ll see you in a few days.”
“That went well,” Harry observed from the doorway.
“She drives me nuts! She was trying to get me to come home for dinner. The whole point is I want to spend time with you.”
“At least she didn’t send a Howler or come over here to drag you home.”
Ginny blushed recalling what activities her mother might have interrupted if she’d shown up much earlier. “That’s true.”
Walking over, he wrapped his arms around her. “How are you feeling?”
She shrugged. “I’m okay, just a bit sore.”
“I was thinking breakfast in bed would be perfect.”
“I like the way you think, Mr Potter.”
Hand-in-hand they made their way upstairs to find that Kreacher had left a large tray with a platter of eggs and another of sausage as well as a rack of toast. Despite what Harry said about eating in bed, they actually ate in the small sitting area. They then returned to bed where they spent most of the day.
“What happened?” Hugh demanded as Hermione arrived. Jane pulled her into a hug, ignoring her husband. “You went to celebrate New Year’s with your friends and you were hurt!”
“I’m fine, Dad, Mum,” Hermione reassured him. She quickly explained what happened.
“I don’t like this.”
“I don’t either,” she replied evenly. “What do you want me to do? We were celebrating New Year’s Eve and some…terrorists decided to take advantage of it. I wasn’t targeted; I was just unlucky enough to be with the person who was.”
Hugh hugged her tightly. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound like I’m blaming you. I just hate the thought that you are still in danger. Were all of them arrested?”
She nodded as she settled into her favourite chair in her parents’ sitting room. “They were. I missed most of it. All I remember is Ron finding me.” She blushed. “He was so worried about me. It was kind of nice.”
“He cares a great deal about you,” Jane said speaking up for the first time.
Hermione nodded. “Harry went after Ginny. I was impressed with how well the trainees all worked together. They were all calm and shut down the Floo network so quickly.”
“From what you’ve told us, Harry is always good at that sort of thing,” Hugh said.
“Very true,” Hermione laughed. “He’s always good in a crisis.”
“As long as you are safe, dear,” Jane said. “Is Ron still planning on coming over for dinner tonight?”
Hermione nodded. “We’re going to spend the day in London. I want to show him some of my favourite spots and then we’ll be home for dinner.”
Seamus looked up as Harry brought a file back to their cubicle. “What did you find out?”
“Malfoy knew they planned something, but he claims he assumed they wouldn’t go through with it once he said he wouldn’t help.”
“In some ways that doesn’t surprise me,” Seamus said. “He is that arrogant.”
Susan spoke up, “I’ve heard some interesting rumours. Narcissa has been keeping a tighter leash on Draco recently. Not only that, but something is going on with Astoria as well. Her father was furious that she was expelled from Hogwarts. He had her visit Azkaban to see what happened to the ‘Dark Lord’s’ followers. He also sent her to stay with a Muggle-born friend of her mother’s for several weeks. She’s very much distanced herself from the Parkinsons.”
“Good,” Harry said. “Anything that helps loosen the memory of Voldemort. Too many people faded into the background last time, we can’t let that happen again. Kingsley told me all of them will face prison time.”
He sighed. “I do wish we’d found something on Malfoy.”
“What is Mrs Malfoy hoping to accomplish?” Michael asked.
“I think she just wants to keep the prat out of prison,” Harry said. “She’s trying to re-establish the Malfoy family. At least that’s what her sister tells me. With Lucius in prison, she wants to show they’ve turned over a new leaf. Lucius has been very cooperative in ratting out his former friends.”
“It seems like he finally realized how bad V-voldemort was,” Katie said stumbling over the name.
Harry shook his head. “It wasn’t the fact that Voldemort liked to kill and torture people that bothered him. It was the fact that Lucius wasn’t his right-hand man anymore. He didn’t like being treated like the hired help in his own home. If Voldemort allowed Malfoy to act like the noble Malfoy imagined himself to be, I bet Malfoy would still be following him.” He considered it for a minute. “As far as I can tell Malfoy’s only redeeming quality is that he cares about his wife and son. I would have thought he’d throw his son away for not killing Dumbledore or not fighting, but he didn’t.”
Terry entered the trainee’s room with a smile. Michael grinned. “Did you get your license?”
Nodding he waved it around. “I can’t believe it.”
Katie groaned. “Does that mean Susan and I are the only two who don’t have our driving license?”
“I think so,” Harry laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll get it.”
Hermione gave Ginny a knowing smile as the two witches collapsed into their compartment after the Prefect’s meeting. They were riding the train to Hogwarts for the last time, returning for the second term.
“Wishing you didn’t stay up so late?”
Giving Hermione a dirty look, Ginny had to laugh. “No, I wouldn’t wish away any time I spent with Harry, but I really could use a nap.”
“It was nice to have dinner with everyone last night. My mum loved having dinner at the Leaky Cauldron.”
Straightening up, Ginny nodded. “It was fun. It was really nice to see your parents again. I’m glad that Ron and Harry are talking again. Counselling seems to be doing both Ron and George a lot of good.”
“I was very surprised at George,” Hermione admitted. “He wasn’t as manic as he was over the summer.”
“Christmas morning was hard,” Ginny said. “I miss Fred. So many people think he and George were the same, but they weren’t. Fred was more outgoing and more of a leader. Fred would come up with these outrageous ideas and George was the one who figured out how to pull them off.”
Hermione nodded thoughtfully. “I always thought George was a bit more sensitive. I hate to say it, but I think Fred could be a bit cruel at times. Not that he was mean, he just sometimes didn’t know when to stop.”
“You’re right,” Ginny admitted. “George evened Fred out.”
“How was your mother over the holidays?”
“She did surprising well,” Ginny said. “She was upset New Year’s morning, but other than that she was much better than she was over the summer. Honestly, I was lucky that she didn’t storm over to Grimmauld Place and demand I return home.”
“My parents were upset New Year’s morning as well,” Hermione admitted. “I know they didn’t want me to go back to school in September, but they are happy that I’m going to graduate. Having the parents’ weekend and encouraging communication has really helped ease their fears.”
Glancing over at Ginny, she said, “Thank you for pushing for that. I wasn’t in favour of it at all, but I think it was because I was trying to keep my two worlds separate. It has been so much better since I stopped trying to keep them apart.”
“I’m glad,” Ginny said with a smile.
Hermione rummaged through her school bag and found her Arithmancy book. Settling back, she started to read. Ginny fidgeted for a few minutes. She couldn’t decide exactly what she wanted to do, but eventually she pulled out her newest bridal magazine and started reading.
A knock at the compartment door caused them to look up. Ginny smiled and waved in several first and second year students of whom she had become very fond.
“Ginny! Are you okay?!”
“I saw the papers!”
Hermione smiled at the outpouring of concern the young girls showed her friend. She scooted down and made room for the young witches, all of whom hugged Ginny before sitting down.
“I’m fine,” Ginny reassured them as she shared what happened.
“Harry saved you, didn’t he?” one of the girls asked her with a sly smile.
Smiling, she nodded. “He did.”
To Hermione’s surprise, one of the girls leaned in and said, “Nott didn’t hurt you, did he?”
Ginny shivered. “No, Chelsea, he didn’t.”
“He scares me,” Chelsea said softly. “I kept thinking of how horrid he was last year strutting around the place. He hurt so many people.”
“He scares me too,” Ginny admitted.
“Really?” one of the other girls asked. “You are so brave.”
“I don’t know that I was brave,” Ginny said. “I was very grateful when Harry and the other Aurors rescued me.”
“I think you are very brave,” a second year named Linda said. “I remember last year when you took the punishment from Carrow for me.” The young girl teared up. “I never told you thank you.”
Ginny held out her arms and pulled Linda in for a hug. “You are so welcome.”
“Can we have a sleepover tonight?” a very quiet girl whose name Hermione couldn’t remember asked.
“A sleepover?” Hermione echoed.
“Of course,” Ginny replied.
“Can we use our room?” Linda asked.
Ginny nodded. “I will clear it with Professor Clark and Professor McGonagall. Let everyone know.”
“Thank you, Ginny.”
When the younger witches left, Hermione turned to Ginny. “What is that all about?”
“It is something we started last year,” Ginny explained. “We actually had two first term as well. Demelza, Julia, and I will sleep in one of the younger girls’ dorms. I always clear it with the professors and the elves will usually bring up some snacks. It helps them to talk about things. Last year we did it for safety rather than fun and there were usually tears and first aid, instead of snacks and giggling.” She shuddered with memories. “Some of the things those children saw, no one should ever see. Nott was rumoured to have raped several witches, but of course he was never punished. This year it is more about fun and celebrating the fact that we survived. It is also about providing a safe place to share things. Even our parents can’t understand some of the things that happened. Some of them take the view that Ron and my mum had that nothing ‘that bad’ could happen at Hogwarts.”
“Isn’t that something Madam Florence should oversee?” Hermione objected.
Ginny shook her head. “If I hear anything that concerns me, I will talk to Madam Florence, but a lot of it is just sharing memories and fears about last year. I rather expected it after the holidays. I imagine it was hard on everyone who lost family.”
Hermione frowned. “How did I miss this?”
“I don’t know about the first one, but the second-time last term was after you attacked Harry. It scared a lot of the younger students.”
“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said uncomfortably.
Ginny looked over at her as if trying to decide what to say. “Last year school was a horrible place. Torture was used a punishment and more than once we had to rescue someone from the dungeon where they were chained up. Violence was…too common. We had to protect each other and more than once Neville and Seamus had to rescue one of the girls from roaming junior Death Eaters. While Neville and Seamus are rightly regarded as heroes by many of the students, everything we did was in Harry’s name. For some of them, Harry is…he really is almost a mythical saviour. They know if he hadn’t succeeded, things would have been much, much worse.
“When they heard that Harry was attacked, it brought back a lot of fears for many of the students. Demelza had a sleep-over with the younger girls. Having Harry stay and watch the Quidditch match really helped people understand he was okay.”
Tears flared up in Hermione’s eyes and she blinked them back. “I never thought…”
“Hermione, I know you didn’t mean to and I know for you it was an argument with your best friend, but for many of the students it was an attack Harry Potter — the one who saved us all,” Ginny said apologetically. “It scared them after they thought they didn’t need to worry about being safe at school.”
When Ginny left the compartment to visit with friends, Hermione leaned back against the window. She’d honestly not given a thought to how others saw her altercation with Harry. Did the younger girls really fear her? She’d thought Ginny simply had an easier relationship with the younger students and that’s why they went to her.
“Are you coming?”
Looking up, Hermione could see Ginny standing behind her in the bathroom mirror. She finished brushing her teeth before answering her friend. “I didn’t know if I’d be welcome.”
“Hermione, they just don’t know you. Come on.”
Reluctantly, Hermione followed Ginny down to the second-year dorm room. The beds and wardrobes had been pushed up against the walls making room for fifteen sleeping bags on the floor. On the wall next to the bathroom, there was a table of snacks including small sandwiches and little cakes while a cold basket was overflowing with pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and water. The WWN was playing from a radio.
“Surely not all of the witches will fit in one dorm room,” Hermione commented.
Ginny shook her head. “We usually limit it to two years. Tonight, it is first and second years. They usually sleep on the floor and we usually take the beds.”
Hermione looked around the room. She recognized most of the witches, but to her dismay she found she could remember only a few names.
One of the second-year students, smiled at her shyly. “Is it true that you had to send your parents away to Australia?”
“That must have been hard,” she replied. “I’m also Muggle-born. My name is Grace.”
“Hi, Grace,” Hermione replied. “It was hard, but I didn’t think I had any choice.”
“I was so worried about my parents last year,” Grace said as she sat down next to Hermione. “We live near Birmingham.”
“I have an aunt who lives near there,” Hermione replied. “What do your parents do?”
“My mum’s a nurse and my dad is in computers,” Grace replied.
“My parents are both dentists.”
Ginny smiled as she watched Hermione and Grace talk. Several of the other second year students sat on the floor near them. She’d hoped that Hermione would relax and the younger students would realize she wasn’t so bad.
Looking desperately around the dungeon, Harry tried to find a way out. He could hear Ginny’s screams interspersed with Bellatrix’s cackling. He yelled helplessly as he listened to her screams. While he was alone in the dungeon, he could hear Malfoy’s drawl commentating on what was happening. He was describing the torture and Ginny’s reaction. Suddenly he was in the drawing room with her, he was being held back by someone while Pansy and Nott were torturing Ginny. Greyback was standing nearby watching her with look of excitement on his face.
Harry woke with a scream. His bedsheets were tangled around his legs and he was covered in sweat. Grabbing first his wand and then his glasses, he tried to make sense of what was going on. Realizing it had been a dream, he lay back against the headboard while his heart slowed down. He could see his mirror sitting on the bedside table, but after discovering it was two in the morning he decided he couldn’t justify waking Ginny.
He climbed out of bed and walked around to rid himself of the adrenaline that had flooded through him. Honestly, he wasn’t overly surprised at the nightmare. Ginny’s near abduction had shaken him. He was incredibly thankful that they’d found her so quickly.
The reports he’d read on Nott indicated that he had probably committed several sexual assaults the previous school year, but they weren’t able to make a case against him. Many of the witches didn’t want to report the assault and those who did made it very clear they wouldn’t testify against him. At least now he would be convicted of assault and attempted kidnapping that, plus the Dark Mark, guaranteed conviction. Robards had told him that one of their sex crimes investigators was going to talk to some of Nott’s suspected victims again to see if they would be willing to testify now.
The thoughts of what Nott would have done to Ginny had haunted him. He couldn’t believe how incredibly lucky they’d been to find her and the thought that his luck was going to run out was terrifying. He’d also felt some guilt that she’d been targeted because of him until Seamus pointed out that she’d been a leader of the DA and was a target in her own right. While that did assuage his guilt, it did make him worry about her.
He’d not agreed with the decision to sentence the younger Death Eaters to a few months in jail and then suspending the sentence as long as they completed community service and attended classes. Now both Pansy and Nott would have to serve their original jail time as well as whatever they were convicted of now. Walking over to the cold cupboard, he pulled out a butterbeer. Cracking it open, he downed half of it at one time. He slumped into a chair wishing he still had the Marauders’ Map so he could see Ginny.
A noise made him look up as Athena flew into the room. He smiled. If he couldn’t talk to her, he could at least write to her. Lighting a candle on his desk, he pulled out his quill and parchment and began to write.
Ginny knocked on Professor McGonagall’s office door and entered when she was bidden to do so. It was quite early, but she wanted to spend some time with Harry before going to the grand opening. The Headmistress gave her a faint smile. “Miss Weasley. Is Miss Granger going to be joining you?”
“I believe she will later,” Ginny explained, “but she had a study group for Arithmancy this morning.”
“Thank you for letting us do this,” Ginny said sincerely. To Hermione’s shock, but not Ginny’s, Professor McGonagall had agreed to allow them to attend the grand opening of the Weasleys’ Pizza Shop.
“I am gratified to see that Diagon Alley is being revitalized. After the war with Grindelwald, it seemed to take forever for the wizarding world to recover. Mr Potter has been quite a force in helping with the recovery.”
Ginny smiled proudly. “He has. I visited Lavender’s shop over Christmas. It’s not exactly my taste, but the shop was very busy.”
“I visited their shop as well,” Professor McGonagall admitted. “I believe they were a bit shocked to see me there.”
Ginny laughed. “I can only imagine!”
“Please give your brothers my best. I imagine they will do very well.”
“Thank you,” Ginny said. Taking a pinch of Floo powder, she went through the Floo network to Harry’s house.
He was waiting anxiously in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Ginny couldn’t help but smile at the sight of him. Throwing herself into his arms, Ginny relaxed in his embrace. She loved the feeling of his arms around her. Looking up, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a deep kiss.
Sometime later, she pulled away. Her carefully arranged hair was a mess and she was pretty sure her lips were swollen. Looking up at him, she could see his desire for her, but she could also see some tiredness in his face. Reaching up she cupped his face in her hands and kissed him briefly.
“Are you still having nightmares, love?”
He sighed and nodded. Looking over at Kreacher, she said, “Can you bring a tea tray up to the drawing room?”
Lacing her fingers through his, she tugged him upstairs. When they were settled on the couch, she said, “Sweetie, you can call me.”
“I don’t want to ruin your sleep.” He protested running his hand through his hair. “Besides, I like writing to you. I think Athena likes visiting you.”
“I like Athena visiting, as well,” she replied, “but I don’t like the thought of you having nightmares. Have you talked to the counsellor?”
He made a face. “I…I have and it has helped some, but I had a nightmare again last night.”
She frowned. “Have you taken any Dreamless Sleep Potion?”
From the look on his face, she could tell he hadn’t. “Sweetie, I know you don’t like it, but I think it would help.”
“I’ll think about it,” he promised.
Preparing each of them a cup of tea, Ginny settled onto his lap. The two of the cuddled there — talking a bit and kissing. Eventually their kissing became more passionate and Ginny laughed as he dumped her onto the sofa and immediately pounced on her. Laughter filled the room, followed by sounds of passion as their clothes came off and their bodies joined together.
Ginny watched over him as he fell asleep. Summoning a blanket, she covered them. She realized they were supposed to arrive at the restaurant within the hour. After debating with herself, she sent a Patronus to Bill letting him know they would be late. She could trust him to take care of the others and not send someone looking for her.
It was two hours later when the couple left for Diagon Alley. They used the Floo Network to go to the Leaky Cauldron. It was a crisp, cold day with very little wind. Ginny pulled her cloak tighter around her body. She was dressed in a thick jumper and was wearing a heavy coat, but the cold still managed to seep in.
Harry didn’t seem to notice as much. Stealing glances at him, Ginny thought he looked very handsome. He was wearing a green jumper that her mother had made and jeans along with his dragon skin boots. When he caught her looking at him, she blushed slightly, but smiled. He grinned and pulled her closer.
“I’m so glad you are here,” he said as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
Sliding her arm around his waist, she smiled up at him. “I’m glad to be here.”
Although the pizza shop was not officially opening for another hour, there was already a beehive of activity around the shop. Lee Jordan was setting up a cart of Weasley Wizard Wheezes products. He grinned and straightened up when he saw them.
“It looks great,” Harry said.
Lee nodded. He gestured to two witches who were setting up a table. “My cousins, Shirley and Serita, are going to be doing face painting. Serita’s boyfriend, Rob, will be making balloon animals.”
“That sounds like fun,” Ginny said as she wandered over to the table and started talking to the witches.
“Is George here?” Harry asked.
Lee nodded. “They are inside. Knock on the door, they’ll let you in.”
After meeting Lee’s cousins, Ginny joined Harry as he knocked and the door and was let in by Ron. The Weasley brothers, even Charlie, were all there helping with last minute cleaning and setting up.
“Harry! Ginny!” Looking past the two of them, Ron asked, “Is Hermione here?”
Ginny shook her head. “She had a study group this morning. She should be here soon.”
Walking around the shop, she declared, “It looks great. Dean did an excellent job on the murals.”
Harry nodded. “I like how he managed to draw miniature versions of the dragons on the menus.” Ginny giggle as she watched the Ukrainian Ironbelly shoot fire towards the Swedish Short-Snout. Harry grinned. “Fleur enchanted all of the menus so the dragons will move around, but they can’t wander away from the description of the pizza they represent.”
The couple turned to see Robert, the general manager. After greeting him, Harry asked, “What can we do?”
Looking around the restaurant, Robert said, “Check with Bill. He’s making sure everything is clean and set up properly. I’ve been working with Evan and I’m fairly confident that the kitchen is well prepared.”
“It smells good,” Ginny commented as the smell of baking pizza started wafting through the shop.
Robert nodded. “We will be opening in forty minutes. I will be working with the wait staff.”
“Nice outfits,” Ginny commented as she gazed at the wait staff. Harry nodded. Robert had worked with both Fleur and Charlie to devise outfits that were realistic enough for Charlie and cute enough for Fleur. In the end, the staff were wearing outfits that resembled those worn by those at the dragon reserves. Harry thought the outfits made them look like safari guides, complete with hats and boots.
There was a small exhibit near the door on the need to preserve and learn from dragons, not hunt them to extinction. Charlie had worked with Dean to draw a map of dragon territory now and in times past to show how little area dragons now had in the wild. There were photos of several dragon preserves including the one where Charlie worked in Romania, one in the Outer Hebrides, and one in Hawaii. There was a hollow dragon with a hole in the top of its head to collect money for dragon preservation.
“Everything looks great!” Ginny exclaimed as she finished looking around.
Another knock on the door and Hermione entered followed by a pretty witch with straight dark hair and bright eyes. Harry looked over at Ginny. “Who is that?”
“Ruby,” Ginny said. “Remember, George’s friend. He met her in therapy.”
“She’s the one who lost her family just before the final battle?”
Ginny nodded. “She’s very nice.”
Turning, Ginny greeted her parents who had just arrived. The whole family watched with pride as George addressed the crowd gathered outside. He was not surprisingly funny, but he also emphasised the importance of rebuilding both the wizarding world and Diagon Alley.
George greeted all the guests as they entered the shop. Mr and Mrs Weasley were given a table in the front of the window where they proudly greeted many of their friends and family. Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley siblings were all pressed into service.
Several hours after the grand opening, Harry found himself in the kitchen, helping with prep work. Ginny and Percy were both washing dishes magically, while Hermione, Ron and Charlie were cleaning the tables between guests. Bill and Fleur were acting as host and hostess while George was stopping by all the tables visiting with the guests.
It was the first time that any of them had been in a professional wizarding kitchen. Harry was amazed at the self-cleaning counters that swept any scraps into a rubbish bin. There were several brooms that were bewitched to sweep at periodic intervals. Evan, the head chef, was directing everyone. Evan was a bit loud and Hermione had dubbed him rough around the edges, but the kitchen staff was working well together under his direction.
Hours later, George closed the door behind the last guest. The rest of the Weasleys collapsed around one of the larger tables. Several partly eaten pizzas, a basket of bread sticks as well as pitchers of drinks littered the table. Ginny sat on Harry’s lap while Fleur was doing the same to Bill. Hermione was leaning up against Ron. All of them were exhausted, but thrilled with how well the day went.
Fleur and Ginny had both worked outside with Lee’s cousins painting faces for a while and each of them had their faces painted. Fleur had a beautiful rose painted on one cheek while Ginny had butterfly painted on one cheek.
George beamed at his family. “Thank you! That was brilliant.”
Robert nodded as he joined his employer. “It was an excellent grand opening.”
“It was lovely, dear,” Mrs Weasley said as she stood and hugged her son. “I saw so many people I
haven’t seen in years.”
Mr Weasley concurred. “It turned out very well, son.” Placing a hand on his wife’s back, he said, “I should be taking your mother home. It has been a long day.”
“Thanks for coming,” George said.
Hermione stood up as well. “Ginny, we need to head back. Professor McGonagall wanted us back before ten tonight.”
“You can use the Floo if you want,” George said. “I can open it for you.”
Reluctantly, Harry stood and pulled Ginny to her feet. He watched with a smile as she bid goodbye to her whole family, hugging each of them. Thankfully, the fireplace was around the corner from the table so they had a bit of privacy. Harry pulled her into his arms.
“I’m so glad you came,” Harry murmured into her hair.
She rested her head on his chest, enjoying their last few moments together. Lifting her head, she smiled up at him. “This was nice, doing something fun with my family. Everyone was working so well together. Fleur and I had a great time together. My mum and I didn’t argue once. It was fun.”
“It was,” Harry agreed. He could hear the others preparing to leave. Reluctantly, he said, “I think you better leave.”
“I love you.”
He smiled. “I love you.”
Ginny climbed into the portal into the common room. It had been a long day and all she really wanted to do was talk to Harry and go to bed, but the determined look in Hermione’s eyes said that wasn’t going to happen.
“Ginny, what took you so long? I thought you would be back from rounds a while ago.”
“There was a first year crying in Myrtle’s bathroom,” Ginny explained. “It’s been a year since her father was killed for refusing to join Voldemort. I took her to Madam Pomfrey and Madam Florence.”
Hermione nodded approvingly. “They should be able to help her.”
Pulling Ginny over to the table she’d commandeered. “I worked out a study schedule. I planned to implement it at the beginning of the term, but I didn’t. I can’t believe I lost almost an entire month. When I studied for OWLs, this worked really well for me.”
Ginny eyed her uncertainly. She recalled how manic Hermione had become studying for her OWLs. She’d tended to snap at people who interrupted her revising time.
“This is yours,” Hermione said as she handed Ginny a colour coded schedule. “I believe all of your Quidditch practices are on there as well as your running.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I wasn’t able to complete this over the break. I reviewed all of my previous years’ books and I don’t think our first three years’ books will help. The potions are too simple and the many of the spells and charms are also too simple or incorporated –”
“Hermione!” Ginny broke in.
Hermione looked at her in surprise. Ginny took a deep breath. “Hermione, I can see you put a lot of work into this, but I think you are going overboard.”
“Overboard? NEWTs are incredibly important. If we don’t do well on them, it can seriously impact our ability to find a job.”
“Hermione, when was the last time you didn’t do well on a test?”
“I do well because I am well prepared,” Hermione countered.
“I’ve talked to many people about NEWTs,” Ginny explained. “Most of the information is from the last two years — basically after our OWLs. I plan to study, but I’m not going to lose my mind. I told you about Alicia’s suggestion, didn’t I?”
“Her note cards?” Hermione sniffed. “I don’t think that is enough.”
“I loved her idea,” Ginny said. “I’ve made note cards for the fifty most common potion ingredients. It’s already helping me recall information better.”
Hermione remained dubious. “I don’t think that would help.”
“It might not work for you,” Ginny agreed, “but it is working for me. I’ve started the same thing for Ancient Runes. I don’t think it would work as well for Charms. I like how Professor Flitwick is having us work on categories of charms. It makes sense to me that way. Transfiguration is different because it builds on
previous work so much.”
“I’ve always found that reading the chapter and reviewing my notes is the best way to study,” Hermione said stubbornly.
Gritting her teeth, Ginny said, “Hermione. You aren’t listening to me. I agree that is one way to study, but there are other ways. You can study any way you want and if you want to read all of your notes from first year on, feel free. I’m not going to.”
She watched as Hermione stomped away. Groaning, she made her way upstairs. After a quick shower, she climbed into bed, noting that Hermione hadn’t yet come to bed. Casting Silencing Charms, she pulled out her mirror and called Harry.
It didn’t take long before he replied. She smiled when his face came into view.
“Hi, love. I was getting worried.”
Ginny sighed. “I’ve had a late night. The Marauders’ Map came in handy tonight.”
“Really? What happened?”
Ginny told him about the first-year student she’d found crying in the bathroom. “I usually don’t go that way — I don’t like Myrtle’s bathroom, but I checked the map and saw her.”
“Her father worked for the Ministry and Voldemort was pressuring him to join. She didn’t know why. I think that is the part that was bothering her. She didn’t understand why Voldemort would be interested in her father. He was an accountant and didn’t bother anyone.
“I took her up to Madam Pomfrey and Madam Florence. I hope they can help her. Madam Florence has been doing a lot for all of us. I’m glad she’s here.”
Harry nodded. “I think we all need someone to talk to.”
Smiling Ginny said, “You seem to be in a great mood.”
“I was able to do my motorcycle class!”
“I have class again tomorrow, but once I’m done I can get my motorcycle license. I’ve already contacted a shop about Sirius’ bike. It’s actually in pretty good shape and I don’t think they will need to do much work.”
Laying back against her pillow, she relaxed as she listened to Harry recounting both his classes and his plans. She loved him sounding so happy. His nightmares were coming much less frequently and he sounded much better than the previous month. Without meaning to, she closed her eyes and fell asleep to the sound of his voice.
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