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SIYE Time:22:05 on 25th September 2017


The Road not Taken
By potterfan2008

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Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama
Warnings: Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 138
Summary: The summer before his third year, Harry stormed out of his relatives' house and met a large dog. Instead of taking the Knight Bus, Harry throws his lot in with Sirius Black. Join him as he fights for his godfather and gets to know his best mate's little sister just a bit better.
Hitcount: Story Total: 18700; Chapter Total: 1667
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
In honor of Harry's birthday, I'm posting another chapter tonight! Hope you enjoy it. Thanks again to the wonderful Arnel!




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Saturday afternoon, Ginny gathered up Hermione’s dirty laundry and headed for the laundry rooms. The laundry rooms were located on one of the sub-basement levels on the opposite side of the castle from the kitchen. It was an area of the castle where students didn’t usually frequent, but to her relief Ginny was able to find it without incident.

Inside the first room were rows of very large buckets full of clothes, soap, and water that were magically washing the clothes. In the corner was a collection of smaller buckets and an elf was cleaning a set of robes against a washboard. Ginny could see into the next room which held rows of clothes lines with clothes hanging up to dry. All in all it was quite an impressive operation.

The elf looked up as Ginny entered. “Hows can I help you, Miss?” the little elf squeaked.

“Hi, I’m Ginny, Ginny Weasley. I am supposed to wash laundry to fulfil a debt,” Ginny explained.

“Yes, Miss. Professor McGonagall told me you was coming.”

The elf moved away from the corner so Ginny could see her more clearly. She was tiny, only reaching Ginny’s elbow, with big round blue eyes and large floppy ears. Ginny wasn’t sure why she thought the elf was female, but that was the impression she had. The elf was wearing a clean, white tea towel toga style tied over one shoulder. The towel had the seal of Hogwarts embroidered into the centre.

While Ginny was taking stock of the elf, she seemed to be doing the same to Ginny. “I is Tia, Miss Ginny. Does you have the clothes you needs to wash?”

“Yes,” Ginny said as she opened the laundry bag.

Tia showed Ginny the spells necessary to start the buckets washing the clothes, how to go about getting out stains and generally answered any questions Ginny might have. Soon enough Ginny had a load of clothes cleaning themselves. She settled down on the stone floor and watched Tia work, realizing that she should have brought a book or something to do to pass the time.

“How long have you been at Hogwarts, Tia?”

“I was born here, Miss Ginny,” Tia replied even as she started working on another set of stained robes. “My great, great grandmother came here after her family died. Hogwarts will always take in any elves who need to work.”

“I didn’t know that,” Ginny looked around. “How many house-elves work here at Hogwarts?”

“There is over five hundred house-elves working here,” Tia replied.

“I didn’t realize that,” Ginny said. “I’ve never seen a house-elf before.”

Tia looked up with a bit of a smile. “That means we is doing our jobs, part of a house-elf’s duty is to never be seen unless it is necessary.”

Another elf, this one much older than Tia, silently entered the room and with a snap of her fingers one of the buckets emptied itself of clothes. The clothes floated into the next room where the elf directed them onto the clothes line.

“What happens when as elf is too old to work?” Ginny asked.

Tia looked rather scandalized at the idea. “Elves always work. Older elves perform easier tasks like young elves, tasks that aren’t difficult or physically hard. Elves helps each other. The older elves takes care the younger elves and teaches them. We takes care of each other.”

Ginny frowned. “What happens if an elf is set free?”

“Free elves is bad elves,” Tia declared.

“My friend, Harry, freed an elf who worked for a bad family,” Ginny said. “He told me that the elf was abused. His owner would kick him and hit him and order him to punish himself.”

Tia softened a bit as she listened to Ginny. “You is talking about Harry Potter.”

Ginny nodded. Tia said, “Harry Potter did a good thing helping Dobby. Dobby worked for a bad family. Elves can be set free, but most good elves don’t want to be. Elves that work for bad families who hurt them…it is bad, Miss Ginny. If they can be freed, they can come to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is always open for elves. Lady Hufflepuff made it that way.”

Tia made a weird shrugging motion. “Some elves like to be free, but free elves don’t get their magic stronger.”

“So it’s a trade off,” Ginny said. “Elves belong to someone and they get stronger magic or they are free and they don’t get stronger.”

“Yes, Miss Ginny.”

Ginny spent the rest of her time talking to Tia and learning all about house-elves. It was kind of fun and rather different. Once Hermione’s clothes were finally finished, she headed back to Gryffindor tower. She resolved to bring some homework with her the next time she went. Although talking to Tia was fun and interesting; washing, drying, and folding Hermione’s clothes had taken a lot longer than Ginny had anticipated.




Ginny jumped as the letter she was writing was snatched out of her hand. Looking up she glared at her older brother, Percy, who was now reading her letter.

“Give that back,” she said outraged at his actions.

He handed it back to her unmoved by her anger. “I had to check what you were writing. Mother and father expect me to watch out for you, not to mention the fact that I am Head Boy this year. I don’t want my final year ruined by a little sister who can’t figure out right from wrong.”

As much as Ginny wanted to rage at him she couldn’t. How could she blame him for not trusting her? Without a word of complaint she took her letter back, her hand shaking slightly. Percy stalked off, leaving Ginny not just a little shaken. How long was it going to take for anyone to trust her again? The happiness she’d felt since her walk around the grounds with Harry the day before fled in the face of her brother’s distrustfulness.

It took her some time, but she finished her letter to Bill. She slipped out of the common room and headed up to the Owlery. She had to admit she felt a bit envious of all of the groups of people talking and laughing.

While she was making friends with two of her roommates, Sarah and Anwen, it was hard going. The two of them had become fast friends at the beginning of first year and Ginny often felt like an outsider with them. Her two other roommates, Freya and Rowena, had mocked her from the beginning — making fun of her boys’ robes and her homemade and patched clothes. Rowena and Freya both had extensive wardrobes full of beautiful clothes. Ginny thought both of them were a bit shallow and annoying, but she had to admit she felt a bit of jealousy when she saw them dressed in their perfect clothes.

Feeling very alone, she was rather down by the time she arrived at the Owlery. Opening the door, she was surprised to see Harry talking to Hedwig who was sitting on Harry’s arm and looking back at him with her wise amber eyes. Harry looked up when Ginny entered and smiled.

“Hi, Ginny,” he said easily.

“Hi,” she replied a touch shyly. She started looking around for an owl to send overseas when Harry said, “Do you need an owl? Hedwig is looking for something to do.”

Ginny’s eyes widened, he would actually lend her his beautiful owl? “If she doesn’t mind flying to Egypt, that would be great.”

Harry looked down at his owl. “Would you mind taking Ginny’s letter to her brother in Egypt?”

Hedwig looked between the two of them and flew over to Ginny landing next to her along the wall. Ginny’s eyes lit up at the owl’s response. “Wow, thank you Harry and thank you Hedwig. She is such a beautiful owl.”

The two laughed as Hedwig fluffed up her feathers under Ginny’s words. Harry said, “She is a beautiful owl and she’s a great friend. I think she gets a little bored sometimes because I don’t have anyone to send letters to so if you want to send something with her, just let me know.”

Hedwig gave a low hoot as if to confirm what Harry had just said. Smiling, Ginny carefully attached the letter to Hedwig, trying not to mess up with Harry watching her. Harry lifted the bird and whispered something to her that Ginny didn’t catch before launching her out the window. They stood watching as she winged her way south.

“Thanks again, Harry.”

“Not a problem,” he replied easily. As they headed toward the door, Harry glanced down at her, she seemed much quieter than she had the day before. “What’s wrong?”

She blushed at his question, but said, “Percy. When I was finishing my letter to Bill, Percy came over and ripped the letter out of my hand to make sure I wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.”

“What? That’s awful.”

She sighed. “I’m not really sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, I want to get angry and yell and scream at him, but on the other
hand if someone had done that for me last year how much trouble could have been avoided?” She shrugged. “I just wish he’d been nicer about it or done it out of concern for me, not concern about how it would look or how it would reflect on him. He’s been watching me and I’m sure he’s reporting back to my mum. He was always the little tattle tale of the bunch.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said rather awkwardly. “I know what you mean. My cousin, Dudley, is forever trying to get me in trouble. When I would
clean a room, he would come behind me and mess it up and then tell my aunt so I’d get in trouble.”

Ginny gasped. “That’s so mean. Even Percy’s not that mean. He gets us in trouble, but usually someone is doing something against the rules at the time. Percy sets a great deal of faith in rules.” She giggled. “Of course the twins try their hardest to break all the rules.”

Harry laughed. “I can imagine. Your mum is so nice, though. I think even if it was my cousin who behaved the way they do, my aunt would yell at him. I remember when I was watching your family go through the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters before my first year and the twins were talking back to your mum, she never really lost her temper and she was so nice to me.”

“How did you see us?” Ginny asked curiously.

“Well, Hagrid forgot to tell me how to get onto the Platform and my aunt and uncle were…well, they thought it was funny. They dropped me off in front of the wall between platforms nine and ten and laughed the whole time. I had no idea what to do. I heard your mum say something about Muggles and she asked what the platform number was, that’s when I knew for sure your family was magical,” Harry said.

She laughed. “Mum always does things like that. She’ll ask what the platform number is and I was always so proud when I could answer her. It took me forever to realize she was doing it so we would remember, not her. She used to do that with potion ingredients and all sorts of things. ‘Now what’s the last ingredient I need?’ I guess she just can’t resist the opportunity to teach us something.”

By this time they’d reached the main staircase, Harry headed off to the library while Ginny headed back to the common room. As she started to cross the common room, one of the sixth year Prefects approached her.

“Are you Ginny Weasley?”

She nodded a bit nervously. The boy handed her a little scroll tied up with a green ribbon. She noticed Percy watching her so she hurried up to her dorm room so she wouldn’t have to deal with him.

Her heart sank as she opened the scroll and found a note from Professor McGonagall.

Miss Weasley,

Please report to my office at three this afternoon.

Thank you,

Professor McGonagall





Ginny nervously knocked at Professor McGonagall’s office door at precisely three in the afternoon. She’d been waiting just down the hall for the past five minutes because she didn’t want to be late. Professor McGonagall welcomed her into the office and gestured for the girl to sit down across from her desk.

“Would you like some tea?”

Startled, Ginny nodded. “Yes, please.”

The professor poured two cups of tea and offered Ginny a tin of ginger biscuits. Ginny helped herself to a few biscuits and sat back in her chair.

“How are your classes going so far, Miss Weasley?”

Ginny shrugged. “Okay. I actually remember a lot more than I thought I would. Bill helped me review everything I learned over the past year.”

“Very good,” the professor replied. She looked over the young girl. “I just wanted to meet with you and make certain you were doing well this year. I feel dreadful that I didn’t realize what was happening last year and want to make certain that you are able to integrate into your year. Your school house is supposed to take the place of your family while you are here and I feel we truly let you down last year.”

Ginny coloured even as she relaxed a bit under the professor’s obvious sincerity. This was the last thing she expected. “Thank you, Professor. I really appreciate the concern.”

“I understand that Miss Granger has requested you clean her laundry for three weeks.”

Ginny’s cheeks flushed a deep red. “Yes, she has. I started yesterday. One of the house-elves showed me where I needed to work and showed me where everything was; she was really helpful.”

“Good,” the older witch said as she lifted her tea cup. “I am not certain I approve of the decision, but it is up to both sets of parents to determine repayment. Miss Granger is the only student left, is that correct?”

Ginny nodded. The professor sipped her tea before saying, “If you have any difficulties, please let me know. This repayment should not interfere with your schooling, so if you are finding it takes too much time, please let me know.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny said. It was nice to know that someone was actually concerned about her. Before she realized it, she was quite relaxed and enjoying her tea. It was rather like having tea with her favourite great-aunt — slightly formal, but fun nonetheless.

As the clock struck 5pm, Ginny stood to go. Professor McGonagall also rose from behind her desk. “Miss Weasley, I would like for you to take tea with me each Sunday this term. It will help ensure that everything is going well for you and I would enjoy spending the time with you.”

“That would be very nice, Professor,” Ginny said with her eyes shining. “Thank you.”

“You are quite welcome,” the stern professor answered, not sounding exceptionally stern at that moment.




Ginny was rereading her essay on the uses of Mandrake several days later when Hermione came storming up to her.
“I need to talk to you upstairs, now!”

Ginny jumped up and followed the older and visibly angry witch. As she hurried up the stairs she wondered nervously what had set the other girl off. She followed Hermione into the third years’ dorm room.

It was set up much like Ginny’s dorm room except there were only three beds. Lavender’s bed was obvious as all of her bedding was a beautiful shade of lavender. Parvati’s open wardrobe door showed a colourful collection of sarees and pictures of Parvati and her twin sister, Padma, were scattered around the space.

Hermione’s space was as neat and clean as Ginny would expect. She seemed to have books stacked neatly everywhere. On the bedside table was a collection of pictures that Ginny thought were probably Hermione’s parents, but she didn’t have much time to look around.

Hermione reached into the laundry bag at her side and pulled out a white shirt that was now badly stained with ink. “How did this happen? The whole point of the repayment is for you to pay me back for causing me to miss school because of your carelessness. It is not so you can ruin my favourite blouse! You need to go back to the laundry now and fix this.”

“But Hermione, it’s only an hour until curfew,” Ginny protested.

“I don’t care,” Hermione stormed. Ginny jumped back a bit nervously. She’d never realized what a temper Hermione had before. Hermione glared at her. “This is my favourite blouse! I can’t believe you would be so careless. I guess I should have known, you didn’t show the best judgement in writing in the diary last year, but I thought you could be trusted with my clothes. You better fix it or you’ll have to buy me a new one!”

Almost in tears, Ginny grabbed the blouse and hurried out of the dorm room. She didn’t remember seeing the ink stain when she folded it, but really hoped she would be able to get it out. Her parents would never be able to afford to replace Hermione’s obviously expensive blouse. She almost ran to the laundry rooms and was very happy to find Tia hard at work. She’d met a few other house-elves, but Tia was the friendliest.

“Tia, can you help me? I got a huge stain in Hermione’s blouse and she’s really, really mad at me,” Ginny blushed at the shakiness in her voice. She hated getting so upset, but she didn’t want to cause more problems.

“Miss Hermione got another ink stain?” Tia asked kindly. She looked at the small girl who was almost shaking. “Don’t worry, Miss. Tia
will help you.”

With a snap of her fingers, Tia summoned a bottle that was labelled in a language Ginny couldn’t read. “This is a very powerful stain remover.” The elf gently talked Ginny through treating the stain and letting it set in a bucket. “It should set overnight and you can wash it in the morning. It will be as good as new. Lots of students end up with ink stains, they forget to take their quills out of their pockets or just drop ink on them. It’s not a problem.”

Ginny sank down onto the cold stone floor in a bit of relief. “So the stain will come out?”

“Of course, Miss Ginny.”

“Thank Merlin,” Ginny breathed blinking back tears of relief. “She said I would have to replace the blouse if the stain didn’t come out and I can’t afford to replace such an expensive blouse. I feel so stupid that I didn’t see the stain earlier. I don’t know what happened or how I could have done that.”

The elf looked at the young girl in concern. “You didn’t cause the stain, Miss. Miss Hermione left an ink quill in her blouse pocket, which is what caused the stain. What does the big sign above the laundry baskets in the dorms say?”

“It says to check our pockets and make sure they are empty,” Ginny replied automatically.

“Exactly,” Tia said. “The rules don’t change just before you are doing Miss Hermione’s laundry and not us elves. It happens all the time.” The older elf chuckled softly. “Those Ravenclaws are the worst. They are always forgetting their ink quills.”

She watched Ginny for a moment. “Is something else wrong, Miss Ginny?”

Ginny sighed. “Hermione was just so angry. I thought we were sort of becoming friends, but she is always so busy and always doing schoolwork. She…she said some kind of mean things when she found her blouse.”

“It could be Miss Hermione is under a lot of strain. She sets a great store in her school work and she is very busy,” Tia said wisely.

Ginny nodded as she thought over what the elf said. She looked over at Tia curiously. “How do you know so much about Hermione?”

The elf laughed, it was a soothing, melodic sound. “Tia is one of the elves for the Gryffindor girls. Elves learns a lot about the students when we does the laundry and visits the tower. Tia knows that you like Quidditch and yous been to Egypt recently.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “That’s true! I guess you would learn a lot about us.”

“Don’t worry, Miss,” Tia said gently. “Elves is never to talk about the students we takes care of.” She winked at the young girl. “Tia will not tell anyone about the picture of Harry Potter next to your bed.”

A much calmer Ginny snuck up to Gryffindor tower sometime later leaving behind a pensive elf. Tia knew, as all of the Gryffindor elves did, about Hermione’s Time-Turner. She wondered if Miss Hermione was becoming short-tempered because of her work load. Miss Ginny was a sweet young witch who had been through a horrid ordeal the year before, Tia wasn’t going to let Miss Hermione upset her unnecessarily.




After a night full of dreams of Hermione coming after her for ruining her blouse and Ginny having to become a house-elf to repay all of the damage she caused, Ginny was so happy to be able to get up. She sleepily went through her morning routine and hurried down to the laundry room very early to set Hermione’s blouse to wash. To her relief, by the time it came out of the wash the stain was completely gone. She set the blouse to dry and glanced at her watch. Her heart dropped, it was just past eight o’clock, and she was not going to make it to breakfast. She glanced at the drying blouse and hoped that it would finish drying before her first class.

“Miss Ginny.”

Ginny jumped, she’d been so engrossed in her own thoughts she hadn’t heard Tia approach. “Good morning, Tia. I didn’t see you.”

“Good morning, Miss.” Tia looked over at the blouse. “Miss Ginny, Tia will send the blouse up to Gryffindor tower when it is dry. You don’t need to skip breakfast and you don’t want to miss your first class, right?”

Ginny looked between the elf and the blouse, she was torn as to what she should do. “I’m afraid I’ll have to stay, Tia. The agreement says that I’m not to enlist any help in the actual washing, drying, and returning of the laundry. If I mess up my family will have to pay Hermione’s family and they really can’t afford to do that. I’ll be okay.”

Tia frowned at Ginny’s response, but didn’t say anything. She certainly didn’t want to cause Miss Ginny more worry. Hurrying out of the laundry room she utilized the house-elf passageways to the kitchen. Several minutes later she re-entered the laundry room.

“Here Miss Ginny, please sit and eat,” Tia entreated. She offered Ginny a basket full of breakfast items.

“Thank you, Tia,” Ginny said gratefully as she pulled a plate of eggs and bacon out of the basket. She hadn’t been looking forward to skipping breakfast. While Hermione’s blouse dried, Ginny ate her breakfast and waited with a rather growing impatience for the blouse to be done.

Finally it was dry. Ginny carefully folded it and wrapped it carefully in tissue paper to carry it upstairs. Nothing could happen to the blouse on the way upstairs. She smiled at Tia. “Thank you very much, Tia. I really appreciate you bringing me breakfast and caring what happened to me.”

“You are welcome, Miss Ginny.”

Ginny hurried up to Gryffindor tower. She was honestly a little short of breath by the time she’d run up all of the staircases. She ran through the common room and knocked on the door of Hermione’s dorm room. When there was no answer, she cautiously entered, secretly glad she’d avoided Hermione. Hopefully the next time she saw Hermione, the older witch would be in a better mood. Carefully setting the wrapped blouse in the middle of Hermione’s bed, Ginny hurried into her own room to grab her bag.

Her heart sank when she caught sight of the time. It was after nine and she was late to her first class — which today was Potions. For a split second she contemplated going to the hospital wing, but in the end she hurried back down the stairs to the dungeon.

“Miss Weasley, class began twenty minutes ago,” Professor Snape observed silkily from his place in the front of the room.

“Yes, sir,” Ginny said softly. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“I don’t care to listen to any manufactured excuses,” Professor Snape interrupted. “I’ve heard enough from your abominable brothers. In an effort to teach you to be on time in the future that will be twenty points from Gryffindor — no, let’s make it an even thirty points. Twenty points for each minute you were late and another ten for your lateness itself.”

Ginny’s heart sank and she could feel her cheeks darkening as she shakily took her place.

“Good going, Weasley,” Rowena hissed. “You’ve lost us a ton of points. Don’t expect us to help you. I know you left the dorm early this morning, what were you doing?”

“Probably meeting a boy,” Freya put in with a malicious gleam in her eyes. “Maybe she was hoping to make some money that way.”

The two girls started laughing and whispering to each other as Ginny felt herself blushing. Snape, of course, didn’t reprimand them because they were making fun of her. She wasn’t even entirely sure what everything Freya was saying meant, but it didn’t sound very nice. Ignoring the two mean girls, Ginny tried to read the ingredients and instruction list, but the steam in the air from the already bubbling potions of her classmates made that rather difficult. By the end of the lesson, Ginny had lost another five points for Gryffindor and received a zero for the assignment.

Charms was slightly better, Ginny genuinely enjoyed Charms and did well in the class. She didn’t lose any points, but she could hear
her classmates whispering about her. Lunch was made miserable by Percy, who upon hearing she’d lost thirty-five points during Potions, took it upon himself to scold her in front of all of Gryffindor. The only good thing about that was Harry was not there. It would have been too embarrassing to be scolded like an errant child in front of Harry.




10 September, 1993

Ginevra Molly Weasley!

I am so upset and ashamed of you. Losing thirty-five points in one class?! Don’t think I didn’t hear about the debacle with Hermione’s blouse, either! The only reason this is not a Howler is I don’t want to remind the other students of your colossal mistakes of last year. Your reputation could easily be ruined by your actions!

Young lady, this is not the type of behaviour I expect from you — being late to class, almost ruining Hermione’s blouse! Do you realize how much it would have cost to replace? More Galleons then we have at the moment!

You will complete your debt repayment carefully and respectfully without any more incidents. I don’t expect to hear that you’ve lost so many points, either. I know you had a rough year last year, but that is no excuse for not trying your best. I have written to Professor McGonagall to ask that she keep me abreast of your marks. I will not hesitate to pull you out of Hogwarts if your grades slip.

Perhaps we underestimated your readiness to go back to Hogwarts. If the events of last year have affected you to such a degree that you are unable to behave appropriately, then it might be best for you to come home. I have talked it over with your father and he has urged me to let you stay at least for the rest of the term.

I don’t expect to hear any more about you losing points, being late for class, or not repaying your debt appropriately.

Mum



Ginny blinked back tears of unhappiness as she reread her letter. It was so unfair! Obviously, Ron was reporting on her as well as Percy. It wasn’t her fault that Snape was such a horrid professor and he hated Gryffindors. Not wanting to be around anyone, she pulled on her cloak and headed outside.

Walking down the sloping lawn, Ginny didn’t really have a destination in mind. She was doubly surprised to hear a voice saying, “Ginny?
Are you okay?”

Looking up, Ginny was surprised to see Harry with his broomstick over his shoulder. “Oh, hi, Harry. I’m fine. Do you have Quidditch practice?”

“No, Oliver said practice won’t start for another two weeks, but Professor McGonagall said I could practice for a while if I want,” Harry explained with a sparkle in his eyes.

Ginny couldn’t help but smile back at him; he looked so excited at the prospect of flying.

“That’s great,” she said a bit wistfully.

“Do you like to fly?” Harry asked.

Ginny nodded eagerly. “I taught myself to fly when I was younger, I used to sneak out at night and practice flying after everyone had gone to bed. My brothers would never let me fly with them.” She made a face. “It was always ‘You’re too little, Ginny’ or ‘You’ll get hurt, Ginny’ or some other ridiculous excuse. So I did it by myself.”

“That’s great,” Harry said with admiration in his voice. “Say, do you want to come down and fly with me? You can ride my broom.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “You’d let me ride your Nimbus?”

“Sure,” Harry said as the two set off for the Quidditch pitch together. “It’s a great broom. Professor McGonagall gave it to me my first year so I could play on the team. It’s funny, I’d seen the broom when Hagrid and I went to Diagon Alley, but I never would have imagined that I would be playing Quidditch just a few months later.”

“Is it true that you made the team after your first flying lesson?”

Harry laughed and launched into the story of how he made the Quidditch team. He described the events to her, his excitement plain to see. “I was so worried that I was in trouble that at first that I didn’t realize what was happening.”

By this time they’d arrived at the pitch and Harry pushed open the gate and gestured her onto the pitch. He looked over at her and she smiled. “Why don’t you fly for a bit yourself and then I can fly some?” she suggested.

“Sure,” Harry said easily flashing her the grin that she always thought was so cute and kind of sexy.

Ginny settled onto the grass and watched as Harry took off into the bright blue sky. He was amazing to watch. His enjoyment was obvious to see. Ginny didn’t think she’d ever seen anyone fly so well or so easily. Even Charlie, who was the best in her family, didn’t fly quite as fearlessly as Harry.

As she watched, he flew up fairly high into the air and after flying in a circle he dove almost straight down. Ginny gasped as she watched him. It was an amazing sight. It didn’t even occur to her to worry for him. He obviously had everything under control.

After he’d been flying for a while, he flew over next to her. His hair was windswept, his cheeks were pink, and his brilliant green eyes were shining bright. “I love flying! That was the one thing we didn’t get to do this summer. Sirius promised he’d try to find someplace where we can fly for next summer.”

Ginny grinned back at him. “It shows, you look like you were having a great time up there.”

“Do you want to fly?”

Ginny nodded eagerly before hesitating. Harry caught the look on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I’ve just never ridden such a powerful broom before,” she said a touch nervously.

Harry scooted back on his broom and patted the handle in front of him. “Hop on. We can fly together and then you can fly by yourself.”

“Are you sure?” Ginny was excited at the thought of flying with him, but nervous at the same time.

“Of course,” Harry said.

That was all the encouragement she needed and she clambered onto the broom in front of Harry. She blushed as he scooted up behind her and wrapped his arms around her to grab the broomstick in front of her.

“Hold on,” Harry murmured in her ear. His breath on her ear caused a strange shiver to race down her spine. Harry launched them into the air, slowly at first, but gradually building speed.

After a few minutes, he said, “Ready for some fun?”

She nodded eagerly and he said, “Okay, make sure you’re holding on.”

With that he shot across the field as if he was shot out of a rocket. He started easily with a spiral turn that soon turned into larger loops. Ginny whooped loudly, laughing out loud in enjoyment. Soon they were higher in the air than Ginny had ever been before.

“It is amazing!”

“Isn’t it?” Harry said happily. He looked down at her. “Do you want to dive?”

“Yes!” she squealed.

He tightened his arms around her and nudged the broom downward. Ginny squealed the whole way down. She’d never dived so far or so fast and she loved the swooping feeling in her stomach. As the ground grew nearer, Ginny gasped, but she trusted Harry implicitly.

Neatly, he evened out the broom and spiralled them down to the ground. She jumped off the broom happily. “Harry, that was amazing!”

He laughed. “I’m glad you liked it. I pulled up sooner than I wanted, but I’ve never dived with someone else on my broom before.” He slid off his broom and held it out to her. “Do you want to try it yourself?”

“You wouldn’t mind?”

Harry shook his head and after a moment, Ginny mounted the broom and took off. The Nimbus was so much nicer than any broom she’d ever flown before. It was powerful and steady. Charlie’s old broom was the one she flew the most and it was so old and had been repaired so many times that the charms stuttered at times. The school brooms weren’t much better.

Ginny flew, forgetting her troubles and the letter from her mother. It was such as amazing feeling to fly through the air. It was the best feeling in the world. Glancing down she waved at Harry who was stretched out on the grass watching her with a smile.

She couldn’t describe it exactly, but when he put his arms around her she felt so safe. She was actually quite proud of herself that she could act so calmly. When he’d first slid up behind her, she wanted to squeal with excitement. Somehow she’d managed to become friends with Harry this year. It helped that her horribly debilitating crush on him was gone.

It had died in the Chamber of Secrets last spring. She realized that while he was not the perfect storybook hero she’d dreamt of all her life. He was a real boy, but he was a real hero as well. She would never forget waking to the sight of him covered in blood and muck with a huge sword and the destroyed diary. It was then she’d started falling for him, Harry. She didn’t want to say anything because she didn’t want to ruin the friendship they’d started. She could only hope that one day he would return her feelings.

When she landed beside him he looked up with a smile. “Have fun?”

“I did, thanks,” Ginny replied beaming.

Together they started walking back to the castle. “You fly really well,” Harry said enthusiastically. “You would do well on the Quidditch team.”

She blushed happily. “Thank you. I do want to join the Quidditch team eventually. I’d like to be a Chaser.”

“It’s too bad we have such a great trio of Chasers,” Harry said. “Maybe once Angela and Alicia finish you can try out. They’re in their fifth year now.”

“That would be wonderful,” Ginny said with a smile.

As they neared the castle Harry sighed, “I guess we have to get back to the real life.”

“How’s it going for you?” Ginny asked as she looked up at him. “Almost every time I’ve seen you this week you’re working hard.”

“It’s going really well, actually,” Harry said with a smile. “I really like Ancient Runes. It’s so interesting. From hearing Ron and Neville talk about it, I’m very glad I didn’t take Divination. Honestly, that sounds like a load of bunk.”

Ginny giggled. “I think Divination is something you can do or something you can’t, I don’t think they can teach it to you. My granny taught me to read palms, but honestly they don’t tell you much.”

“Arithmancy is interesting,” Harry said. “I’m glad that Professor McGonagall talked me into taking it. I was afraid that picking up three classes would be way too much, but I’m keeping up well. Sirius really helped me. He taught me some good studying techniques over the summer.” He blushed slightly. “Sirius told me how my parents did so well in school and I just wanted to try harder to do better. I was afraid that Ron would be upset at me, but he’s not been too bad.”

“That’s good,” Ginny said. She shook her head. “Ron sometimes skates by on the least he can do and he wants everyone around him to do the same.”

“He’s been fine,” Harry said. He grinned at her. “At least once you set him straight on the train. Thank you for that.”

“You’re quite welcome,” she said with a smile. “He just doesn’t think sometimes. He gets his feelings hurt easily and he can be quite the drama king if you don’t stop him in his tracks.”

“Well, it worked,” he replied. He shook his head. “If only Hermione would be that easy to handle.”

“Why?” Ginny asked. “I would think she would be thrilled that you are working so hard.”

“I thought so, too,” Harry said. “She was fine with Ancient Runes, but for some reason she keeps trying to get me to drop Arithmancy. She says she doesn’t want me to get in over my head. It’s kind of aggravating, because it’s like she can take all these classes and handle it, but it’s too much for me. I might not be as smart as her, but I’m not stupid.”

“That’s not right,” Ginny said with feeling.

He shrugged. “I keep hoping that once we start getting some grades back she’ll see that I’m doing fine and won’t keep giving me such a hard time.”

As they entered the castle, Harry glanced over at her. “Can I ask what had you so upset earlier?”

Ginny sighed and told him about the letter. He was appalled. “That’s awful! It’s not your fault Snape is a greasy, biased git. Why did Percy tell your mum about that?”

“I don’t know, he seems to think that I’m ruining his life and wants to stop anything that will cause a stain on his reign as Head Boy. I told you he’s always been a bit of a tattle tale.”

“He was bang out of line, I’m sure the twins have lost loads of points lots of times.”

“I know, but Percy was tasked with looking out for me and he seems to feel this is the best way to do so.”

Harry looked over at her in concern. It really wasn’t fair of them to treat her so poorly. It wasn’t her fault that Lucius Malfoy had planted Voldemort’s diary on her. He really didn’t like this bit about Hermione either.

“How much longer are you stuck doing Hermione’s laundry?”

“Another week and a half,” Ginny said. “I can’t wait until it’s over. Tia has been great, but it takes more time than I thought it would.”

“It’s not right of her to yell at you,” Harry said firmly. “She’s so busy this year. I don’t get it, we’re only in our second week and she’s always in the library or doing homework. She usually isn’t this bad.”

“Maybe she’s having trouble keeping up with her classes,” Ginny suggested. “Maybe that’s why she wants you to drop one.”

Harry thought about it for a minute. “That could be. She’s taking four extra classes even though Professor McGonagall said we should only take three at the most. She’s taking Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, and Care of Magical Creatures. I don’t see how she has time for everything. I really don’t understand why she’s taking Muggle Studies — she’s Muggleborn so they can’t be teaching her anything new.”

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “I’m just going to stay out of her way and make sure nothing else gets stained.”


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