|SIYE Time:18:36 on 23rd May 2017|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 71024; Chapter Total: 520
Warning, there is an extremely salty Malfoy in your future, I recommend you drink some water and apply anti-asshole spray just to head him off a bit. And remember kids, donít cry, craft.
(Iím not even sorry)
Harry collapsed onto their bed and stared blankly up at the ceiling. Ginny looked at him, rolled her eyes, then turned away and entered the bathroom. A few minutes later, he heard her swearing. He rolled over, reached under the bed and pulled the box of period products out. He heaved himself off the bed, then crossed to the bathroom and cracked the door enough to stick the box in.
Thanks, Ginny thought as she took it from him.
Why don’t you keep those things in the bathroom? Harry asked her as he flopped back on the bed.
I’m used to keeping them by my bed.
Seems like you need them in there more often.
Harry sighed, rolling his eyes mentally at her, then grabbed his book off the night table. He opened it to where he’d left off the night before and began reading.
“Read louder!” Ginny called from the bathroom.
Harry actually rolled his eyes, but acquiesced. He waited for her to brush her teeth, then let her take the book from him while he washed up for bed. Ginny kept reading, her thoughts carrying the words to him, as she went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea.
Harry yawned as he left the bathroom. Ginny came back, holding the book in one hand and her wand in the other, levitating the two cups of tea. Her brow was knit and she was biting her lip as she tried to keep the cups level. It wasn’t working very well. Harry walked over to her and took the mugs out of the air.
“Hey!” Ginny said. “I had them!”
“You’re welcome,” Harry said, kissing her cheek. He took a sip of his tea, then smiled gratefully and took a seat on the bed. Ginny set her wand on the night table, then took her tea from Harry, and Harry took the book. He found their place on the page, and continued to read while they drank their tea. Soon enough, he came to the final page and read the last line, then closed the book.
Harry looked at Ginny. “Did you bring the next one?” she asked.
“No. Did you?”
Ginny shook her head at him. “You’re lucky that we get to go home this weekend,” she said. “Or I would have smacked you for not letting me get to find out what happens to Frodo until Christmas.”
“It’s not my fault!”
“Yes, dear,” Ginny said sardonically, then stuck her tongue out at him. Harry leaned in and kissed her. She smiled against his lips before pushing him off. “Git,” she said, grinning.
“Love you too,” he said, then turned out the lamps.
They met Ron and Hermione in the common room the next morning, Ron half asleep and Hermione leaning on his shoulder.
“Bad night’s sleep?” Harry asked them as they started off for breakfast.
“We had to patrol again last night,” Hermione said. “Two of the other prefects have come down with the flu, and McGonagall asked us to cover their shifts.”
“The flu’s going around already?” Ginny asked.
“Apparently,” Ron grumbled.
“Mum had me get the vaccine before school started,” Hermione said, pausing halfway through her sentence to yawn, “but I imagine none of you did.”
“Nope,” Harry answered.
“What’s a vaccine?” Ron asked.
“It’s a Muggle way to stop getting ill,” Hermione said.
“It’s an injection,” Ginny said. “They stick a needle into your arm and pump it into you.”
Ron shuddered. “I’ll take a Pepper-Up Potion, thanks.”
“It’s not so bad,” Hermione said. “It’s worth it to not get ill to begin with.”
“What do you want to bet that you’re going to catch it in about five minutes?” Harry asked Ginny.
Ron laughed and Ginny hit him on the arm. “If I get it, then I’m immediately snogging you until you get it too, Potter!”
“Feel free, Potter,” Harry said with a grin. “I’ll take any excuse to have a snog.”
Ginny flushed while Ron mock gagged and Hermione rolled her eyes. Harry curled an arm around Ginny’s waist and pressed a kiss to her hair. She begrudgingly kissed his cheek in return.
“You two are disgustingly affectionate sometimes,” Hermione sighed.
“You’re just jealous that Ron’s not affectionate at all,” Harry teased.
“I’m affectionate!” Ron protested. “Right, Hermione?”
Hermione looked at him and raised an eyebrow. His shoulders deflated.
“Or not,” he mumbled. Hermione shook her head at him, then took his hand and kissed his cheek. Ron turned pink.
They found Neville sitting with Dean and Seamus at the Gryffindor table, not paying any attention to their conversation and watching the Ravenclaw table, for Luna Harry supposed.
“Morning,” he greeted them absently as they took seats around him.
“Morning, you lot,” Seamus greeted them with a brief wave.
“G’mornin’,” Dean mumbled around his mouthful of toast.
“Have you seen the paper yet, Harry?” Seamus asked. “Looks like your Auror friend is having a blast over in America.”
Harry shook his head as he served himself eggs. “Have you got one?”
“Nah, I just saw Lavender’s, but she took it with her when she and Parvati left so I didn’t get a chance to read it.”
“I’ll be getting one any minute now,” Hermione said to Harry.
“What do you suppose Tonks did to get in the paper?” Ginny asked.
“Is that her name?” Seamus asked. “She’s pretty.”
“And about ten years older than us,” Harry told Seamus.
“Your point?” Seamus asked with a grin. Dean rolled his eyes.
Just then, owls began flying in and Harry looked up for Hermione’s newspaper. He did not expect Hedwig to soar down and land in front of him, neatly avoiding his orange juice.
“Hey, girl,” Harry said, reaching out and stroking her feathers. “What have you got?”
Hedwig hooted and stuck out her leg, a scroll tied to it. Harry undid the knots and set the scroll aside, then gave her a bit of bacon. She nipped at his finger affectionately, then gave another hoot and took off again. Harry broke the seal on the scroll and unfurled it.
“It’s for you,” Harry said, handing it to Ginny. “From your mum.”
“Oh, please don’t be more wedding crap,” Ginny muttered to herself as she took it from him.
“Wouldn’t you be pleased about more wedding crap?” Seamus asked.
“Not when it’s the difference between white and ivory napkins and what variant of orchids we ought to put in the centerpieces,” Ginny said.
“I thought girls liked that stuff?”
Ginny gave him a death stare over the top of the parchment. Seamus put his hands up in surrender and dropped his gaze. Harry shook his head at his wife, then leaned over to glance over the letter.
“It is more wedding crap,” he said.
“I don’t care about the bloody centerpieces!” Ginny sighed as she began to read.
“Harry, the Prophet’s here.”
Harry looked up at Hermione’s voice to see the tawny owl bearing the Daily Prophet in its talons making its descent down to them. It landed on Ron’s head, then stuck its leg out. Ron scowled, but didn’t move until Hermione had put a few Knuts in the leather pouch the owl was proffering, then took the paper from it. The owl launched itself into the air again, making Ron wince. After it had gone, he reached up and rubbed at his scalp.
“Bloody owl,” he muttered. Hermione unfolded the paper and looked over it.
“It’s just an article on what’s happening with the Scourers,” Hermione said. “Tonks is in the cover photo, but she’s not mentioned specifically in the article. Oh, that’s sad.”
“What?” Harry said.
“One of the Americans was killed yesterday,” Hermione said. “He was shot in the back by a Scourer after he rescued a young witch from them.”
“Shot?” Ron said. “With what hex?”
“No, a gun,” Hermione answered. “It says that the Scourers were all armed with Muggle weaponry. I expect that they had several. They are Americans, after all.”
“He was shot in the back?” Harry said. “I thought Americans were all about honor; shooting someone in the back isn’t very honorable.”
“Most of them are, but I expect Scourers must not care about that,” Hermione said. “I read up on them yesterday, they’ve got quite a long and bloody history. They’re a bit like Death Eaters, but in the reverse.”
Harry shook his head. “Dumbledore reckons that Tonks and the rest of our people should be returning to the UK before the end of the month. According to him, a great load of the Scourers have been rounded up by now and they should be okay home enough.”
“I hope she’s alright,” Ginny said. “I don’t like the sound of those Scourers, even if most of them have been captured.”
“Tonks is tough, she’ll be fine,” Ron said.
“Yeah, it’s the Americans you have to worry about,” Harry said. “She’ll be driving them mad, I expect.”
“Totally bonkers,” Ron agreed.
Ginny rolled her eyes and returned to the letter.
They left for lessons sometime later, Hermione and Ginny to Arithmancy and Ron and Harry to Divination. After that was Transfiguration, followed by lunch and History of Magic, then lastly Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry made sure to leave with everyone else, making Ginny snigger at him.
It’s not like they were doing anything, she thought.
They were! I don’t want to watch my uncles snogging!
What, is it gross?
Oh, shut up. You don’t want to watch your parents snog, and it’s the same thing!
I still think it’s funny.
Harry gave her the finger, and she laughed harder.
Thursday morning, Remus woke them for their dawn training later than usual. When Ginny asked him why they hadn’t gotten up at the normal time, he said that he and Sirius had decided they deserved a lie-in. For some reason, as he said it his neck flushed slightly. Ginny chose to not press further, and for all her teasing of Harry, she tried to keep that thought from him. After a short warm-up and exercising, they had a mock duel and Harry managed to disarm Remus, but not before Remus conjured ropes and bound his legs together. Ginny felt pleased that she had not only won her duel with Sirius, but had done the same thing to him as Remus did to Harry.
“Well done, both of you,” Remus said.
“Yes, yes, well done, Ginny,” Sirius said, trying to untie the ropes on his legs. “Will you give me back my wand now?”
“Sure,” she said, and handed it to Remus.
Remus chuckled lightly. “I’ll get him, you help Harry out.”
“Let’s make it a double date, why don’t we,” Sirius added irritatedly. “I’m losing feeling in my feet!”
Ginny smirked to herself while she crossed to the spot where Harry was lying, his arm draped over his face.
What are you doing?
Hiding, he answered.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. From what?
The loss of my dignity.
Ginny rolled her eyes and carefully used a Severing charm on the ropes. Harry lifted his arm and looked up at her.
Harry raised his arms in the air, holding them out to her. “Hold me, Gin,” he said. “I’m dying.”
“You’re not dying,” she said.
“I’m hungry,” he complained.
“Hi, hungry,” Ginny laughed.
“I’m serious!” Harry whined.
“No, you’re hungry, he’s Sirius,” Ginny said as she jerked a thumb over her shoulder at Sirius, who was still trying to get Remus to give him his wand, unsuccessfully from what she could see.
Harry groaned and covered his eyes again. “I am dying, from the pain of your puns.”
“Well, stop it,” she said. “Come on, get up.”
Harry sighed and lifted himself to his feet. Ginny pecked his cheek and patted his shoulder, before turning to face the adults.
“Give me my wand!” Sirius shouted angrily in a high-pitched voice, as Remus had cast a jinx on him while he was on the ground; he was hopping up and down on his bound legs as he chased Remus across the room, who was laughing almost childishly. Harry raised an eyebrow at Ginny.
Okay, maybe not
They went up to breakfast a while later, after Sirius finally tackled Remus to the ground and took back his wand. Sirius, still huffy, promised them loads of homework in Defense the next day for the audacity Ginny had to humiliate him in such a way, however Remus, still laughing, promised them he would prevent Sirius from doing as he threatened. Harry merely raised an eyebrow.
Their first class that day was Potions, a double period with the Slytherins. Snape had the class brewing Strengthening Solutions, and was in a foul mood from the moment he walked in, bad enough to make him angry at his own students, so when Crabbe made his cauldron explode, he shouted at him and took ten points from Slytherin. It was the first time Ginny had ever seen him take points from his own house. However, the astonishment of the Gryffindors didn’t last long, as when Neville stirred his potion one time too many and it began spewing out acrid smoke, Snape took thirty from them.
“Bloody wanker,” Ron said as they left for lunch. “How’re you supposed to know not to stir it so much when his handwriting is the size of an ant’s?”
“It’s not your fault,” Hermione translated to Neville.
“I wonder what’s got him so upset,” Harry mused.
“Who even knows these days?” Ron sighed.
After lunch they had a free period, during which they worked in the library on a new essay for Snape, which would be due the next Tuesday. When their free period ended, they went out onto the grounds to meet Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures.
“Afternoon, you lot,” Hagrid called in greeting as they came to a stop by his hut. “How’re you doing?”
“Overworked,” Ron said.
“Overloaded,” Harry added.
“Overtired,” Ginny said, then yawned.
Hermione rolled her eyes at them.
“Well, we’re doing sommat special today,” Hagrid said with a wink. “Should wake you right up.”
“Oh, joy,” drawled Malfoy’s voice. “Special. Hmph, more like terrifying.”
“You know what will be special, though,” Harry said dryly with an even drier smile, “the sight of you running away screaming with your white blonde tail between your legs.”
Malfoy quirked an eyebrow, his thin lips curving in a scowl. “At least I’ll have you to lead the way,” he said as he primly adjusted his tie.
“Wow, full of excellent comebacks today, aren’t you,” Harry said. “Why don’t you take your foul attitude and run along to stench up someplace else?”
Malfoy intensified his death stare, his silvery gray eyes glinting in the sunlight. “I rather think you’re the one with the foul attitude, Potter,” he quipped.
“Maybe a little bit,” Harry sighed, then raised his hands and pinched his fingers together as he mocked Malfoy further, “you see, I’ve got this pesky little gnat following me everywhere and insulting me and my wife at whatever chance he can get.”
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips, his arms crossing over his chest and his eyebrow raising. “Did you just call me a gnat, Potter?”
“Oh, wow, you guessed it, I never would’ve thought.”
“You really are quite deplorable, aren’t you? It’s a wonder the Weaselette even wanted you.”
“At least he’s not a gnat,” Ginny pointed out calmly.
Malfoy opened his mouth angrily, however Hagrid strode up and clapped his hands together for their attention before he could. Malfoy shut his mouth with a snap and glowered at Harry, his pale eyes smoldering.
“Alrigh’, alrigh’, everyone gather round,” Hagrid called. “Can everyone ‘ear me?”
“Yes,” shouted Seamus from the back.
“Good,” Hagrid said, “now, we’re gonna go on a bit of a walk this afternoon. The creature we’re studying today lives out in the forest, so everyone, stick together and stay on the path.”
“We’re going into the forest?” Malfoy called.
“Aye, we are,” Hagrid answered. “Now, you’d better listen close this time, you lot in the back, don’t want anyone getting hisself injured again because he wasn’t paying attention, do we?” Hagrid nodded pointedly at Malfoy as he spoke. Many of the Gryffindors and a few of the Slytherins laughed, even Goyle. Malfoy elbowed him hard in the ribs.
“Right, come on then,” Hagrid said, then picked up the handles of a wheelbarrow. “Follow me.”
The class trooped along behind Hagrid, the Slytherins moving up front and the Gryffindors in back. As they went, a few Gryffindors in the back started mock marching, including Ron, and Anna Williams, the Gryffindor reserve Keeper, began chanting: “Left, left, left right left!” Ginny giggled a little, while a girl walking beside Williams facepalmed and Hermione sighed heavily. Ron and a few others continued to mock march until Hagrid came to a stop in the midst of a clearing. He set down the wheelbarrow and lifted from it a cow carcass. Harry wrinkled his nose as Hagrid dropped it near the far edge of the trees.
“What’s that for?” called a girl.
“The creature we’re here to see will be attracted by the smell,” Hagrid explained. “Everyone gather round, and be patient. I’m going to give them a call just so they know it’s me.”
Hagrid cleared his throat, then threw back his head and let out a guttural shout, high pitched and ragged.
Nothing happened. For several minutes, they stood in silence, watching the trees for any sign of movement. Harry rose up on his toes to look over the heads of three Slytherin girls standing in front of him, when a flash of white near Hagrid caught his eye. He turned, and saw the same emaciated black creature that had been pulling the carriages up to the school on their first day back; the Thestral, Neville had called it. Its eyes gleamed white in the low light reaching through the branches of the trees, and as it stepped forward, Harry felt as if it might be looking at him.
The Thestral approached the carcass of the cow, then surveyed the clearing and the students in it. Harry watched warily, as it bent its head low over the dead cow and opened its mouth to strip flesh from the dead animal. He grimaced.
“Oh my god!” shouted someone. “Look at the cow!”
There was a rustling as every student turned to face the Thestral as it ate, then gasps of fright and astonishment. Harry guessed that the sight of flesh ripping itself from bone and disappearing was rather discomforting.
“What is it?” he heard Lavender calling. “What’s eating it?”
“Show o’ hands,” Hagrid said, raising his own, “who can see ‘im?”
Guessing that Hagrid meant the Thestral, Harry raised his hand. Ginny did as well, and nearby, Harry saw Neville lift his own. There was one other hand, belonging to a Slytherin boy, who was watching the Thestral with an expression of disgust.
“Four,” Hagrid said. “Now, who of you wants to tell me what this is?”
Harry lowered his hand quickly, as did Ginny. The other boy had dropped his hand before Hagrid even spoke, leaving Neville the last to begin lowering his hand, but not before Hagrid could see it.
“Neville,” he said, pointing to him. “Go ahead.”
Neville turned pink, then cleared his throat. “It— erm — it’s a Thestral, sir.”
“Right you are,” Hagrid said with a nod. “Ten points for Gryffindor.”
“Oh, but Thestrals are really unlucky!” cried Lavender Brown. “Professor Trelawney told us about them!”
Harry frowned, trying to remember when Trelawney had mentioned Thestrals.
“Tha’s just superstition,” Hagrid grunted with a shake of his head. “It’s because of the death thing people think that.”
“Death thing?” Malfoy spluttered, backing away quickly. “What do you mean?”
“Ah, I’m gettin’ ahead of meself,” Hagrid sighed. “So, we already know four of you can see Thestrals. Anyone want to have a guess as to why the rest of you can’t?”
Hermione raised her hand, and Hagrid pointed to her, giving her a nod and a smile. “Because only people who have witnessed death can see them,” she answered.
“Tha’s right, Hermione, another five points for Gryffindor.”
“You mean that only the people who’ve seen something die can see them?” asked a Gryffindor boy, one of the ones who had been marching with Anna Williams. “I saw my dog die a few years back, how come I can’t see anything?”
“It has to be the death of a human,” Hagrid answered.
Harry tried not to think of the human he watched die. He tried to focus on the lesson, not on the glistening blood on the silver blade, the way it pooled in the dewy grass, the stunned expression in Diggory’s eyes, the hollow thud of the body falling; he shook his head, clenching his fists. He stared resolutely at the Thestral, listening to Hagrid tell them about their eating, mating, and sleeping habits. He could smell the carcass of the cow, and part of his mind wondered whether he was smelling bovine blood or human.
“Got a keen sense o’ direction too,” he said as the lesson came to an end. “You tell ‘em where you want to go and they’ll get you there. Dumbledore often takes them for long trips when he don’t want to Apparate.”
Off in the distance, they heard the bell ringing for the end of the day’s lessons, and Hagrid gave the Thestral a pat before picking up his now empty wheelbarrow.
“Alright now, everyone follow me,” he told the class, making his way around the group and to the head of the trail.
“Did you realize they pulled the carriages?” Ron asked Harry as they began to follow Hagrid from the forest.
“Yes,” Harry said shortly.
“Ron, did you not notice him speaking with Neville about it?” Hermione asked Ron with a look of incredulity. “Or how upset he and Ginny were when they saw it?”
“I thought they were just being them,” Ron said. “Is that why you two kept snogging?”
“Oh, shut it, Ron,” Ginny sighed.
“Yeah, shut it, Weasley,” Malfoy snapped as he pushed past them. “No one wants the reek that is your breath stinking up this already filthy place.”
“Shove off, Malfoy!” Ginny spat. “Before I hex your bits off and blame it on the pixies!”
“Oh, I’m so frightened,” Malfoy said, but he was already leaving.
“I’m going to strangle that little bastard one of these days,” Harry grumbled.
“Can I help?” asked Ron.
“I’ll hide the body,” Ginny growled.
“I’ll transfigure it into something,” Hermione added. “Maybe a giant gnat.”
They exited the forest a short while later, and the students headed up to the castle, except for Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny, who followed Hagrid back to his hut.
“Stay for a cuppa’ tea?” Hagrid asked them, glancing over his shoulder.
“Of course,” Hermione said.
“It’s been ages since you lot stopped by,” Hagrid commented, “been busy with homework?”
“Among other things,” Harry answered with a sigh.
Hagrid opened the door to his hut and they stepped inside. Fang barked and scrambled to get out of his basket, hobbling over to them.
“He’s getting old, isn’t he,” Ron noticed as he bent to pet the old boarhound.
“Yeah, I’ve been having to give him potions for his hips,” Hagrid sighed. “Madam Pomfrey says it’s arthritis.”
“Poor old boy,” Ginny murmured; Fang licked her face, and she grimaced. “Ew, Fang,” she muttered.
“No, keep licking her,” Ron said, patting Fang’s head. “Maybe it’ll keep Harry off her for a while.”
“Oh, shut up,” Harry said, flushing red.
Hagrid chuckled as he put the kettle on the fire. “Speaking of, how come I haven’t got a wedding invite yet?”
“We haven’t sent them yet,” Harry answered.
“When is it?”
“Christmas,” Ginny said as she wiped her face on her sleeve. “Around then, at least.”
“Having it at the Burrow?” Hagrid asked her.
“Yeah,” Ginny said. “Mum’s organizing it.”
Hagrid took a seat at the kitchen table and as he replied: “Betcha she’ll have it all lace and fancy folded napkins. That’s what she did for old Brom and Nessa’s wedding back in ‘81.”
“Brom and Nessa?” Ron asked.
“Yeah, best friends she was with Vanessa,” Hagrid said with a nod. “Always hanging around giggling whenever Brom or Arthur would walk by. The two of them had their hearts made up by third year.” Hagrid smiled reminiscently. “They used to come round for tea twice a week, you know.”
“Wait, do you mean Abraham and Vanessa Vance?” Ginny asked.
Hagrid nodded. “Yeah, yeah, they went missing in ‘82 though. I bet you wouldn’t remember them. Dumbledore told me the Order rescued them not too long ago, they were kidnapped by Death Eaters, see.”
“We’ve met them,” Harry said.
“Have you?” Hagrid said. “Molly introduce you?”
“No, Dumbledore did,” Ginny said. “Why wouldn’t I remember them?”
“You were very little when they disappeared,” Hagrid said. “Nessa was your godmum, don’t you know.”
Ginny raised her eyebrows. Then the kettle whistled, and Hagrid got up to take it off the fire. Ginny looked at Ron, who shrugged.
“I guess Molly wouldn’t have talked about them once they vanished,” Hagrid said as he poured water into mugs. “I remember at their wedding, you were the flower girl, Ginny.”
“I was?” Ginny said.
“Yeah, Bill held you and walked you down the aisle so you could toss petals from the apple trees out,” Hagrid said. “Cutest little thing, you were. And Ron, you had the rings.” Hagrid gave a chuckle. “Nearly swallowed one of ‘em once.”
“I don’t remember that,” Ron said.
“Course you wouldn’t,” Hagrid said, dropping tea bags into each mug. “You were both, what, eight months old? When’s your birthday again?”
“May,” Ron answered, “the eleventh.”
“It was January of ’81 they got married,” Hagrid mused softly, “so you were just eight months old, yeah.”
“Mum never told me about that,” Ginny said.
Hagrid gave a shrug. “Like I said, they went missing a year later.”
“But they were rescued not too long ago,” Ginny continued, “why wouldn’t she have told me after that?”
“I don’t know,” Hagrid told her. “You ought to ask your mum yourself.”
He handed out the mugs, then sipped at his own for a moment. “Y’know, I think I’ve got a picture of you two with your mum and Nessa at her wedding. Just a mo’,” Hagrid set down his tea and stood up, going towards his massive bed and taking a photo book from the night-table. He flicked through it, then said: “Aha, here it is.” He moved back to the table and set the book before them. “Lookee here.”
Ginny stepped up to the table and looked down at the picture he was pointing too; her mother, looking much younger, sat next to a woman in wedding robes, and they were holding two infants with identical wispy red curls and lilac robes. Ginny could only tell the difference between herself and Ron by the fact that she was wearing a bow on her head. The two babies were looking between each other and the camera, confused, and the women were waving.
“Cutest babies at the weddin’,” Hagrid said proudly.
“Aw, they are cute,” Hermione said with a broad grin.
“Ginny, you’re wearing a bow!” Harry said with a laugh. She elbowed him, though not as hard as she would have Ron.
“Is that at the Burrow?” Ginny asked.
“Yeah, there’s been a few weddings in the orchard at the Burrow,” Hagrid said. “It’s a very pretty place, I guess.”
“I wonder why Mum’s never mentioned this to us,” Ron murmured.
“Dunno,” Hagrid sighed.
Fang suddenly barked, and they looked up in time to hear a knock at the door.
“I’m coming,” Hagrid answered, rising from his seat. He crossed to the door and opened it, revealing Sirius and Remus.
“Hello, you lot,” Sirius said. “Hagrid, have you given them our tea?”
“Of course I haven’t,” Hagrid chortled. “I was just telling them about the Vance’s wedding in ’81.”
“Abraham Vance’s?” Remus said.
“Yeah, were you there? I don’t remember.”
“I wasn’t, no,” Remus answered quickly. “Sirius was invited.”
“I didn’t go, actually,” Sirius said. “But I heard it was lovely.”
“It was, here, come and look at this picture of Ron and Ginny,” Hagrid said. “Ginny was the flower girl and Ron was the ring bearer.”
“They are adorable,” Sirius said, looking over the picture.
“Yeah, they were. Though, Molly had to wrestle Ginny into tha’ bow, as much as I remember,” Hagrid said. “Nearly had to use a sticking charm to keep it on her. You hear about the Vance’s? Dumbledore told me that the Order found ‘em last month.”
“Yes, they’re staying at the castle,” Sirius answered.
“Are they?” Hagrid asked. “They haven’t come to see me.”
“Vanessa’s blind,” Harry told him. “I guess she doesn’t go much of anywhere.”
“Blind?” Hagrid murmured. “Blimey, tha’s sad. She used to make these embroidery needlepoint things, y’know, I’ve got one of ‘em over there,” he pointed off towards his bed; Harry looked and saw a framed cloth bearing the image of the hut they sat in. “She had real talent. I always told her, she could set up shop in Diagon Alley and make a fortune off ‘em.”
“Apparently Mrs. Vance is mine and Ron’s godmother,” Ginny said to Harry’s uncles.
“Apparently?” Remus said. “Did you not know?”
“No,” Ginny said. “Mum never told us about them.”
Remus looked down at the photo, at Vanessa Vance’s smiling face and bright eyes. “I expect the topic depressed her,” he said softly. “They went missing around their first anniversary. It was assumed they’d been killed, given the state of their house.”
“Hagrid told us,” Ginny said.
Hagrid gave Sirius and Remus their tea as the topic of Abraham and Vanessa Vance dropped. Hagrid asked them about classes, how Defense was going, then as the hour ticked to an end and they finished their tea, they said their goodbyes and left. Remus and Sirius walked with them, continuing their conversation.
“Ron, you’re Harry’s best man, aren’t you?” Sirius asked.
“Yeah,” Ron answered. “Ginny said I have to come with them to Diagon Alley this weekend to get matching dress robes.” He wrinkled his nose.
Sirius laughed. “Ah, yes, I remember that; Lily made us wear matching robes with James at their wedding too.”
“They were nice robes,” Remus said. “I still have mine.”
“I don’t know what happened to mine,” Sirius mused. “They were in the flat when… y’know, when I was put in Azkaban.”
“I put them in my vault,” Remus said, his ears flushing as he said it. “My name was still on the lease, so I emptied it and put everything in Gringotts.”
“You kept it all?” Sirius said, sounding surprised. “I would have thought you’d thrown it out or burned it.”
“No,” Remus murmured, then seemed to want to say something more, but Hermione spoke before he could.
“Were you two roommates?” she asked.
Sirius gave a sudden cough that sounded suspiciously like it was covering a laugh, and Ginny saw him trying not to smile. Remus’s flush returned and he became engrossed in the horizon.
“I guess you could say that,” Sirius told her.
Hermione frowned, then raised an eyebrow at Harry. Harry just shrugged. Ron glanced at her, frowning himself. Ginny copied Harry’s shrug. Ron knit his eyebrows together and pursed his lips, looking away.
“What was my parent’s wedding like?” Harry asked, changing the subject.
“Lovely,” Remus said. “It was at your grandparent’s farm.”
“I remember Lily was conflicted at the idea of being a June bride,” Sirius said. “I don’t remember what it was, there’s some Muggle superstition about it, I think. But June’s when your gram’s cherry trees blossomed, and she wanted the flower girl to throw petals from those trees in particular.”
“Who was flower girl?” Harry asked.
“One of Lily’s friends had a little girl, about nine I think,” Sirius answered. “What was her name?”
“Evelyn,” Remus answered.
“No, Lily’s friend.”
“Evelyn,” Remus repeated. “Her daughter’s name was Jane.”
“Oh,” Sirius muttered.
“What about my mother’s wedding robes?” Harry asked. “What happened to them?”
Sirius gave a shrug. “I’m not sure. Your grandmother might have them.”
“Why?” Ginny asked. “Do you want me to wear them?”
Harry blushed. “I dunno, maybe,” he mumbled. “Or something from them. Y’know, something borrowed, something old.”
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” Hermione corrected.
“That,” Harry said, jerking his head towards her.
“In that case, I ought to ask Mum where her wedding robes are,” Ginny said with a sigh.
“I thought you never wanted to wear Mum’s wedding robes,” Ron said.
“I don’t, but the veil is very pretty.”
They had reached the steps to the front doors, and began climbing them while Sirius spoke again: “Lily didn’t have an actual veil, she had this flower crown thing with ribbons.”
“I’d like a real veil,” Ginny said.
“Of course,” Sirius said, opening the doors for them to enter the castle. “James made it for her, though, that’s why she had it instead.”
“My dad made her a flower crown?” Harry asked.
Sirius gave a nod, smiling a little. “Yeah, we thought he was bonkers as well. It was at the beginning of seventh year, he got Marlene McKinnon to help him make it for her. James didn’t know she still had it when they got married, he teared up and everything when he saw her wearing it at their wedding.”
Harry looked at Ginny. “Do you want me to make you a flower crown?”
Ginny laughed. “No thank you, Harry.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“Are you sure you’re sure?”
Harry laughed and hugged her from the side quickly. “If you’re sure you’re sure, Ginny.”
“Oh, shut up,” Ginny muttered, elbowing him.
“At least you’re abusing more than just me,” Ron sniffed. “Even if it is my best mate.”
“You shut up, too, Ron,” Ginny said.
“Ah, teenagers,” Sirius sighed. “I wish I could be so young and carefree again.”
“I think you’re pretty carefree, Sirius,” Harry said.
“Thank you,” Sirius sniffed.
Remus rolled his eyes.
They split at the fourth floor, Remus and Sirius heading for their quarters, the rest of them continuing to the seventh floor of Gryffindor tower. Hermione said that she wanted to do homework, but when they entered the common room, it was full and very noisy.
“Come and do homework in our rooms, Hermione,” Harry offered.
“Oh, thank you, Harry,” Hermione sighed. “Professor Vector gave us a very long assignment this week.
“We can work on it together,” Ginny said. “Ron, you ought to come upstairs too.”
“I was going to find Dean or Seamus and see if they wanted to play chess,” Ron said.
“I expect that after the last time, they might not want too,” Ginny said. “Seeing as you beat the both of them in twenty minutes.”
“It was a good game!” Ron said.
“Come and do homework, mate,” Harry said, “we’ve got that dream diary from Trelawney, remember?”
“Oh, yeah, that,” Ron muttered. “You want to make up a month’s worth of stuff now?”
“Sure,” Harry said. “But I get first death.”
“Well of course you do, you’re the Boy Who Lived, you’ve got a maniac trying to kill you every five minutes,” Ron snorted.
Their dream diaries were done by the time Ginny and Hermione finished their Arithmency assignment, and they left for dinner. They caught up with Neville and Dean, though Seamus was conspicuously absent.
“Where’s Seamus?” Ron asked Dean as they left the common room.
“He’s sitting with Susan Bones,” Dean said with a sigh. “Wouldn’t shut up about it, to be honest.”
“They’re going to Hogsmeade together this weekend,” Neville said, raising his eyebrows at them. “Or at least he thinks they are.”
“I thought he fancied Lavender?” Harry said.
“That was last week,” Dean said, drawing out the words for dramatic effect.
“Boys,” Ginny sighed.
“No kidding,” Dean muttered.
Dinner was quiet, or at least they were. After they finished and the plates had cleared, they left for Gryffindor tower, and Seamus caught up with them, throwing his arms around Neville and Dean’s shoulders.
“Did Susan say she’d go with you to Hogsmeade?” Neville asked.
“Nope, but Hannah did!”
Dean met Harry’s eye and rolled his eyes. Harry shrugged. He didn’t get it either.
The next day they were to leave for the Burrow; they had just three classes, but two of them were double periods, Herbology with the Hufflepuffs, then after lunch Potions with the Slytherins. Malfoy tried to start a fight with Harry, but when Snape heard him talking despite the fact that he was talking, he took five points from him. Harry enjoyed the stunned look in his silver gray eyes, until Snape approached his cauldron and took twenty points for having the wrong shade of lavender.
As Potions ended, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all rushed up to Gryffindor tower to get rid of their books and pack for the weekend. Mrs. Weasley had said in her last letter that they ought to take the Floo from Harry and Ginny’s room directly to the Burrow after their classes had finished. Harry and Ron went up the boy’s stairs while Hermione and Ginny took the girl’s; Harry left Ron at his old dorm, then carried on to the private rooms at the top of the tower. He met Ginny at the door to their room, passing Head Girl Hollins and another seventh year girl, probably a friend of Hollins’s, in the hallway.
“Potter,” Hollins said stiffly as she always did. “Potter.”
“Hollins,” Harry replied, glancing at her friend.
Hollins opened her door, then looked back at them and realized that they were hesitating and looking at her friend. It seemed that she mistook their confusion at the girl’s presence as waiting for an introduction, and paused as well to say: “Oh, this is Meredith Greenley.”
“Nice to meet you,” Ginny said, a little awkwardly.
“You too,” said Greenley with a nod. Hollins glanced at them once more, then sighed tiredly and let Greenley into her room before entering herself, pulling the door shut behind her. Harry looked at Ginny, who shrugged.
They entered their lounge and started towards their bedroom; they used their school bags to pack for the trip, dumping their books and papers on their bed to empty them out. Harry looked down into his bag and grimaced at the layer of quill tips, paper scraps, and other junk at the bottom of the bag. Ginny surveyed the carnage as well, then jabbed her wand into the bag, saying “Scourgify” as she did. The junk swept itself up and vanished.
“Thanks,” Harry said, crossing to the dressers to fill the bag with clothes.
“What are wives for, Harry?” Ginny said sarcastically, making Harry snort.
Some fifteen or twenty minutes later, they had finished packing and Ron and Hermione had joined them. The four of them were sitting in the lounge and waiting for Mrs. Weasley to Floo call and tell them they could come through, having small talk, when the fire flared green and Mrs. Weasley’s face appeared.
“Hello, you all,” she said cheerfully. “Are you ready?”
“Yes, mum,” Ginny said, slipping from the sofa. “Is it time to go?”
“Yes, go ahead and come through,” Mrs. Weasley bade them. “We’ll be waiting.”
Her head vanished from the fire as they rose from the couches. They gathered their bags, then one by one, took Floo Powder from the mantle and each stepped into the grate. Harry went after Ron, careful not to inhale ashes, and shouted: “The Burrow!”
Harry thought that he was beginning to get used to Floo travel; as he toppled out of the Burrow’s fire, he landed on his knees rather than his face, then, brushing himself off, realized he didn’t even feel sick.
Ginny stepped out rather gracefully compared to his tumble from the Floo, then looked down at him with a raised eyebrow.
Harry paused in his brushing away of the soot. What?
Ginny rolled her eyes. Harry stuck his tongue out at her.
“I’m so glad to see that you two are behaving maturely,” Mrs. Weasley said dryly.
“It’s an aspiration of mine,” Harry told her. Mrs. Weasley then rolled her own eyes, telling Harry just exactly where Ginny had learned it.
Shut it, Potter.
You shut it, Potter.
I said it first.
Yeah, but I’m your husband! Aren’t I s’posed to be the head of our family?
Ginny looked at him, her eyebrow still raised, and held out her hand to him. He took it, and she pulled him up. Then she shoved him into one of the chairs. Harry laughed, and Mrs. Weasley frowned, slightly bemused.
“I don’t get you two,” Ron said.
“Neither do I,” Ginny sighed.
Then, Hermione Floo’d in, and stumbled right into Ron, who threw his arms around her to stop her falling. The two of them turned pink and Hermione quickly jumped away.
I don’t get them either, Harry thought, looking at Ginny. Haven’t they been dating nearly two months now? Why are they so awkward still?
Ginny shrugged. We’ve been married two months and you’re still as awkward as a twelve year old with a crush.
I am not!
Mrs. Weasley cleared her throat, then motioned them over to the kitchen. “Come on then, let’s get to talking.” Harry rose from the chair and followed her, Ginny trailing behind him. Ron and Hermione stayed in the sitting room, taking seats and looking at the floor awkwardly. Harry and Ginny took seats with Ginny’s mother at the table, which held just a thick book. Harry had expected more, until Mrs. Weasley opened it, and about a million different things spilled out; the spread across the table until it was completely covered in notes, samples, and color palates.
“Now, I’ve selected at least three of everything you said you might like, Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley said. “Let’s get started.”
Ginny nodded, internally, however, she was banging her head against the table. Harry patted her knee sympathetically.
“Here are the sample color schemes, Ginny…”
Two hours later, they finally had the final choices. There would be no special theme, the color scheme would be ivories, golds, and reds, the invitations were designed, and the flowers were picked. Harry was honestly impressed with how much Mrs. Weasley, Molly she kept correcting him, had gathered in so little time. Ginny was just glad that her mother didn’t go into too much detail on the centerpieces and the napkins.
“That’s that then,” Mrs. Weasley said finally, and she closed the book; all the notes and samples vanished into it as she did. “I’ve got supper ready already, I imagine you’re hungry.”
“Yes,” Ginny sighed.
All that wedding crap exhaust you?
“Ron, Hermione, dinner!” Mrs. Weasley called, rising from the table. “Where did they get up to?”
“Probably upstairs,” Harry said. Mrs. Weasley gave a frown.
“Playing chess, I’d bet,” Ginny added quickly, “I’ll go and get them.” She jumped up from the table and started towards the stairs. Harry frowned too.
Ron and Hermione are obvious enough as it is, if she goes upstairs and sees them snogging, which they likely are, they’ll get in so much trouble.
It’s fine, Harry, I didn’t expect you to know.
Harry’s frown deepened slightly at her tone. Are you making slights at my observation skills?
“Harry, would you mind helping me set the table?”
“Yes, of course, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry answered quickly, getting up and crossing to the dishware cabinet to take a stack of plates from his mother-in-law.
“Call me Molly, Harry, how many times must I tell you,” Mrs. Weasley scolded him lightly, a slight smile growing on her face.
“Er, yes, right, Molly,” Harry said.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to call your mum Molly.
I dunno, it just doesn’t feel right.
Well, call her ‘mum’ then, that’s what most son-in-law’s do, I think. She’d love to have you call her mum, probably.
Harry considered this as he set plates on the table. Ginny’s mother was the closest thing he’d ever really had to a mother, and, in all honesty, he would feel much more comfortable calling her ‘mum’ instead of Molly.
Mum, he mused to himself.
Call her that, not me.
“Dear, would you get out the silverware?” Mrs. Weasley asked him. “It’s in that drawer over there —”
“I know where it is,” Harry said quickly.
Mrs. Weasley smiled at him. “Of course you do,” she murmured to herself; Harry moved back to the china cabinet while she crossed to the icebox in the pantry.
Harry took forks and knives from the cabinet, six as there were plates. He moved back to the table, and began setting them on either side of the plates, forks on the left and knives on the right.
How would I ask her though?
Just ask her; “hey, can I call you ‘mum’ instead of Molly?”
I can’t just ask her!
Harry wasn’t quite sure why not. He had the feeling it had to do with himself being awkward.
Don’t you pity me, Ginny, I’m happy with how awkward I am.
Harry, Harry, Harry…
Shut up, Ginny.
He heard Ginny giggling as she reentered the kitchen, followed by Ron and Hermione. He waved to them, then moved back to the cabinet to get cups.
Were they snogging?
Harry gave a little snort, Ron caught his eye and frowned. Harry shrugged, shaking his head dismissively. Ron shrugged as well and turned away, wandering over to the kitchen counter where a basket of bread rolls was sitting.
“No!” Mrs. Weasley scolded, slapping Ron’s hand away from the bread. “Wait until your father gets here!”
“But Mum, I’m hungry!” Ron whined.
“You’ll survive,” Mrs. Weasley said firmly, then patted his cheek and took the basket to the table. “Harry, thank you for being so helpful.”
“Don’t mention it, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said out of habit. Mrs. Weasley turned to him, a smile of motherly exasperation on her face, and before she could admonish him to call her Molly, he said: “You’re welcome, Mum.”
Mrs. Weasley’s smile turned into a grin, and she pulled Harry into a hug. “Thank you, dear,” she said softly, before releasing him.
“What just happened?” he heard Ron ask in a loud whisper.
“Later,” Harry heard Hermione reply in only slightly quieter whisper.
“When’s Dad going to be home, Mum?” Ginny asked.
Mrs. Weasley glanced towards the sitting room and eccentric clock over the mantle, likely checking Mr. Weasley’s hand. “Any moment now, I assume,” she answered, and just as she did, Mr. Weasley’s hand shifted, moving from Work to Travelling, then Home. “Ah, yes, here he is.”
“Molly, I’m home!”
Mr. Weasley opened the kitchen door and stepped inside. “Ah, you lot are here already, excellent.”
“We’ve gone over all the things necessary for their wedding already, dear,” Mrs. Weasley told him as he bent to kiss her cheek.
“Did they pick the eggshell white napkins or the off-white ones?” Mr. Weasley asked, winking at Ginny, who rolled her eyes pointedly.
“Ivory,” Mrs. Weasley answered, “and that’s enough of your cheek.”
“Well, then give it a kiss,” Mr. Weasley told her; Mrs. Weasley rolled her eyes, just the way Ginny had, and pecked her husband’s cheek.
“Now, what’s for supper?”
Dinner was lovely; despite being leftovers, there were plenty of Harry’s favorites, though Mrs. Weasley’s cooking in general was his favorite. After they had put away all the dishes, Mrs. Weasley produced a tub of ice cream from the icebox and served everyone a bowlful. Mr. Weasley switched on the radio, and they sat around it to eat their ice cream, listening to the Nightly Soothsayer, a radio show owned by the Prophet.
When the ice cream was all finished, it was fairly late and they were getting tired. Mrs. Weasley sensed this, and sent them all off to bed, telling them that she would be getting them up early the next morning to get to Diagon Alley before the crowds. She put Hermione in Charlie’s old room, as she couldn’t stay in Ginny’s anymore. They readied for bed, all four of them sharing the one bathroom in the upper floors to do so. Harry brushed his teeth next to Ron while Hermione washed her face and Ginny combed her hair. It was a fairly large bathroom.
“Goodnight,” Harry said to Ron and Hermione, clapping Ron on the shoulder.
“Night, mate,” Ron said. “Night, Gin.”
“Night,” Ginny said.
“See you in the morning,” Hermione called to them as she disappeared into Charlie’s old room.
“Yeah, Ron, wait until morning,” Harry added, laughing as Ron turned red.
Ginny rolled her eyes for the millionth time that evening; Harry had lost count.
They climbed into bed, in the magically expanded bedroom they’d financed that summer. Harry pulled the chain on the lamp, sending the room into darkness. Ginny snuggled close to him, and he began to comb his fingers through her hair. He was glad she had begun to leave it down more often.
The orchard had changed very little since she had last been there. The trees looked no different, but felt older and sighed more heavily as the wind danced dreamily through their old and fatiguing branches. The daisies and the grasses and the wildflowers were all new, grown fresh in the past year on the corpses of their ancestors. The animals had carried onto a new generation, parents gave birth and died and their babies had more babies just to die themselves. But the light of the waning moon was the same, cool and calming as it touched her white head with its silver rays.
The years and the generations felt like a blink to her.
Fate walked through the overgrown grasses towards the house before her. Her gait was uneven and heavily leaning on her staff, upon which rested the crow Chaos with his head under his wing. Her servant was not with her that night, nor was the essence of Night. Her timeworn and aching body protested with every step she took, her heart thudded a loud drumbeat in her ear, and her lungs wheezed to keep oxygen flowing through her veins.
Oh, had she known as a child that immortality did not mean eternal youth.
She came within sight of the house, and waved a bony and veined hand over the ground. The grasses at her feet grew, growing thicker and sturdier, until it formed a seat beside her. Fate lowered herself into it, then gave her staff a shake. The crow toppled off it, letting out a strangled croak, then caught itself midair and glided to the ground. Chaos fixed her with one beady eye and let out a huff.
“Rude,” he croaked.
Fate leaned back in the chair, then pressed a finger to her lips and closed her eyes. She heard a flutter of wings, then the talons of the crow on her knee. Fate inhaled deeply, and found the minds of the two children in the house. Sleeping. Dreaming. Ruling their own world.
She listened. Their dreams were calm, surprisingly. Or rather, they were calm. Fate was impressed with how well they were taking these dreams of serious natures, especially their last dream. Chaos had slipped into the dream without her noticing again and slipped in elements of an implausible reality. Well, it would have been implausible had her niece not made that deal with Tom Riddle. Fate pushed away the thoughts of those strands of time, as they might slip from her mind to the children’s, and focused on what they saw.
A cobblestone street. This was all she saw at first, the red brick street that was smoothed by the feet of millions of people walking across it millions of time. Then she heard the chatter, the talk of hundreds, static to fill up the background of the dream; then the air, crisp, but not quite cold, sunless and somehow heavy. Then, slowly, the people appeared, and she saw the children themselves.
They were entering a shop, a large group with them. Fate saw many, seeing their lives in their eyes and their strands of time as numerous as the hairs on their heads in their souls. Family, she knew. Not by blood, many of them, no, but by love.
Fate didn’t know the context of the dream. She was unsure of the beginning, as their minds were harder to read now, but she could guess; they were dreaming of a task in their near future, the shops and the wizards and witches identifying the place as Diagon Alley, and the chill in the air as autumn.
Fate didn’t dare move closer to them, the many other times she had observed them serving as warning to keep her distance. But as she watched, she realized that something was off about the chilly air. It didn’t feel like October. No, it felt like a funeral.
Fate was not startled when the dream turned dark. She looked up at the sky and saw the clouds taint green, then around at the people, screaming and running for cover, she smelled the smoke and saw tongues of flame crawling from shopfront to shopfront, and watched them calmly. The children had been ushered into a shop, and in their distraction she moved closer. In their dream, they were guarded first by the boy’s aunt and grandmother, then the girl’s parents, then the best friends’ of the boy’s father. Fate watched as workers of evil in cloaks of black stormed Diagon Alley, as the curses and hexes were flung spitting from mouths whose owners meant the hatred behind the words. She watched two curses fly in the direction of the children, one hitting one of their guards unseen, unexpected, the other aimed at the boy’s aunt. The children were covering their ears, their eyes squeezed shut tight as the voice of the man Tom Riddle echoed over them. Then, their eyes opened, and the boy made eye contact with her. The battle froze; Sirius Black looking with horror and shock on Remus Lupin, the arthritic arms of Thea Evans yanking her child to safety, the wand of Luna Lovegood leveled with an angered heart on a woman’s eyes filled with an insanity larger than her own as she stood defensively before an unconscious friend. The boy blinked at her, and the girl glared.
The alley fragmented, fractured, and exploded; their eyes fixed onto hers, never wavering, until she was thrown from their dream with the combined power of their fear and anger. Fate opened her eyes to stare at the house, one eyebrow raising slowly.
“Told you they’d gotten tough,” Chaos said.
“I know they had,” Fate sighed. “I am omniscient, Chaos.”
“No, you’re not, you’re just very good at memorizing every possible outcome of everything that ever happened.”
Fate looked at him. “Sometimes I wonder why I allow you to continue existing.”
The crow cocked his head at her, then let out a croak like a laugh. “As if you had the power to destroy me. There is a reason there are only six of us, and there is a reason that each of us have an opposite.”
Fate narrowed her eyes at him, then shook her head and sighed again. “I hate it when you make sense.”
“It happens more often than you might think.”
“Let us depart,” Fate murmured. “I have observed enough.”
She rose from the chair of foliage, and leaned on her staff to move away from the house. The crow flew up and away as the grass chair reduced to weeds; he went beyond her, back to the orchard. Fate moved much more slowly, following him. But he waited for her, sitting in a tree until she arrived. He said nothing as she stepped through the wildflowers, then flew to her staff and took his perch. Fate waved her hand, and the air shimmered for half of a blink, just long enough to think that the glitch in space and time was nothing more than a speck of dust in your peripheral vision.
Mrs. Weasley woke them the next morning a little after seven, and as Harry yawned and stretched, he tried to think of what they had been dreaming. He gave himself a shake and dismissed it, thinking that it was probably nothing. Ginny was still bundled in the blankets, burrito like, so he leaned on an elbow and lifted the blankets to look at her.
“You gotta get up,” he said.
“Nuuu,” was all the answer that came.
“Come on, Gin, we’re shopping for our wedding.”
“Do it later.”
Harry gave a sigh and shook his head slightly. He hated to go to drastic measures, but not really. He pushed his hands under the blankets, finding her shoulders. Then he started to tickle her.
“No!” Ginny shrieked, lurching up and away from him; Harry caught her and continued to torture her. “Noo! St-stop it! Ha — Harry!”
“You have to get up!” Harry threatened, finding her stomach and causing her to scream louder.
“Stop it!” Ginny laughed, slapping at his hands. Harry pushed the hem of her shirt away to tickle her better. Ginny snatched at his hands, but missed, rather she sent his hands upward.
Harry jerked his hands away from her quickly, his eyes going wide in shame and shock. Ginny gaped at him, still half grinning, then fell back against the pillows, laughing in earnest now.
The door opened then, and Ron stuck his head in. “Wha’s goin’ on in here?” he said in a mumble garbled by his tiredness.
Ginny glanced back at Harry’s blanched face, and her laughter redoubled. Harry, still shell-shocked, couldn’t tear his eyes away from where his hands had momentarily been. Ginny hadn’t yet noticed that, he hoped.
“What’d you do?” Ron asked Harry.
Harry had no words.
“Oh, I’m dying!” Ginny gasped for breath, wiping tears from her eyes. “I found a way to make Harry stop tickling me!”
“What’d you do?” Ron now asked Ginny.
“I accidentally made him touch my boob!”
Ron kind of stared at her for a moment, then went very red and quickly shut the door. Ginny laughed even harder then.
“I am so sorry,” Harry whispered.
Ginny hiccupped, then shrugged, and calmed her laughing to a giggle. “It’s okay, y’know,” she told him. “I mean, we are married. You’re allowed to touch my boob.”
Harry’s eyes grew, if possible, wider. Ginny snorted and shoved him backwards, then got up out of bed. Harry fell back and caught himself before he toppled off the bed, then shook himself again and stood up. Then he sat back down again. His eyes were still the size of dinner plates.
They had breakfast before leaving, though Harry was very quiet the entire time. Both of Ginny’s parents were coming, and as they wrapped up breakfast, Harry’s grandmother and aunt arrived to join them.
“Gram!” Harry cried, finally forgetting about the accidental and apparently permissible boob touch of earlier.
“Hello, little one,” his grandmother said fondly, bending to drop a kiss onto the top of his head.
“Hello, Harry,” Aunt Petunia said, less fondly, but still a bit warmly.
“I didn’t know you two were coming,” Harry said to his aunt and grandmother.
“Of course we are,” Aunt Petunia sniffed. “Why would we not?”
“I have absolutely no clue,” Harry shrugged. Aunt Petunia sighed quietly and shook her head almost imperceptibly.
“Well, we should get going,” Mrs. Weasley told them. “Petunia, Thea, you remember how to use the Floo?”
“Yes, unfortunately,” Gram sighed. “Don’t send me first, please.”
They took the Floo to the Leaky Cauldron in pairs, arriving shortly after eight. Gram immediately went for the bar to get a glass of water, and Harry almost as immediately noticed two suspicious heads bent over a table in a corner booth. He narrowed his eyes at them, then raised one eyebrow, and pursed his lips. He walked over to his gay uncles and prodded Remus in the shoulder.
“You didn’t say you were coming,” Harry said.
“Ah, well, yes, we were going to surprise you,” Remus said.
Harry raised an eyebrow. Sirius shrugged defeatedly. “We stopped at Gringotts a while back and picked up some gold for you,” he said, holding out a small purse to him. Harry took it and was surprised at the weight. “Should be more than enough for all the things you have to buy today,” Sirius said with a smirk.
Harry sighed, looking down at it, then he lifted his gaze again and looked between the two of them. They were dressed in Muggle clothes today, Remus in gray trousers and a dark shirt, for once without a tie — Harry caught sight of a thin gold chain tucked under his shirt, but paid it little attention —, Sirius in jeans and a tee shirt advertising a band Harry had never heard before, something called AC/DC, a leather jacket draped over his knee. It was just then that Harry realized that he had never seen Sirius in short sleeves before, and therefore had never seen the ink decorating his arms.
“You have tattoos,” Harry said, a bit dumbly.
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “You didn’t know that?” he said.
Remus, for some reason Harry chose not to think out and to also ignore, smirked.
“I didn’t,” he said, looking at them. Just above Sirius’s right elbow, curling around his arm, were words, that Harry didn’t need to see all of them to know what they were, just by reading the first few; I solemnly swear that I am up to no good… mischief managed. On his left in the same placement were footprints, the same sort that were on the Marauder’s Map, and a strange symbol surrounded by characters in a language Harry did not recognize.
“What’s that one?” Harry asked, pointing to the symbol. Sirius glanced down at it.
“Celtic,” he answered. “For strength.”
“He has more than just those,” Remus said.
“Really?” Ginny said, having joined them. “Harry, you should get tattoos.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Really?”
“Yeah, some romantic crap like my name or a heart with our initials.”
Ginny smiled sweetly at him, and Harry scowled, since he had been thinking that about two seconds after she suggested it.
Sirius laughed and clapped Harry on the shoulder. “She’s got you whipped good, little Prongs.”
Remus raised an eyebrow. “Sirius, you have ‘Property of Moony’ tattooed across your entire back.”
Sirius flushed and Harry laughed.
You should get ‘Property of Ginny’.
You should get ‘Property of Potter.’
That would include myself.
Harry shrugged. Goes along with your independent woman vibe.
“Sirius has what tattooed on his back?” Ron asked, walking over, followed by Hermione.
“‘Property of Moony’, apparently,” Harry answered.
“I was drunk, okay,” Sirius sighed. “James convinced me.”
“Of course,” Remus said, a twinkle in his eye.
“Ginny thinks I should get tattoos,” Harry said to Ron.
Ron gave a snort. “Yeah, like that’ll happen.”
“He could get tattoos!” Ginny said.
“Of the two of you, you’re the one more likely to get tattoos,” Ron said. “If Mum ever let you.”
Ginny stuck her nose in the air. “I am legally an adult, Ronald, if I wanted to get a tattoo, I could.”
“There’s a shop along here,” Sirius suggested.
“No!” Remus said hastily.
“What?” Sirius asked defensively.
“You may not get a tattoo on a whim,” Remus told them as he wagged a scolding finger. “You must think about it for a good long time first, because it will be on your skin for the rest of your lives.”
“I promise that I will make her think about it for a good long time first,” Harry said with a firm nod.
“What are you lot doing over there?” Mrs. Weasley called. “Come on, we need to get started!”
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