|SIYE Time:23:59 on 21st February 2018|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 27170; Chapter Total: 1265
Awards: View Trophy Room
It took a bit of research to find the 1997 exchange rate for a currency that doesn't exist anymore. The closest guess I can make is that 2 million lira was somewhere around $1000. No telling what it would be in pounds.
Harry and Ginny struggled to maintain their connection while dodging the lunchtime Turinese crowd and trying to stay in visual contact with Bishop's car. Eventually it was too much and the pair had fallen a couple of blocks behind the sedan. If the car made a turn, Harry and Ginny would lose them.
"We need to Apparate," Ginny said.
"In the middle of the city? With all these people?"
"It's the only way to move fast enough. We go from alley to alley until they stop.”
"And Obliviate anyone who catches us?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Ginny pulled Harry off the main sidewalk into a dark alcove. "Okay, see that alley next to the car? Get there before the light turns green." Harry took Ginny's elbow and followed her directions.
They ended up with a direct view into the automobile. The red man was leaning forward, engaged with the driver and front passenger... until he turned and regarded the two teenagers who appeared to be enthralled with him. Harry and Ginny started looking in any other direction but the man in red provided a pleasant nod just the same. He was used to being the center of attention.
The light changed and the sedan made a left-hand bend. Again, Harry and Ginny trailed on foot for as long as they could before another Apparition helped them close ground. After another block, the sedan pulled into a restaurant's valet stand and the occupants clambered out on their way to their lunch. Ginny and Harry were across the street.
"Hungry?" Harry asked.
"Yes, actually, but we're not dressed for that place," Harry looked over. There was
no one entering in t-shirts and jeans. This time it was Harry pulling Ginny into the alleyway. He conjured a sports coat for himself and a blouse for Ginny that reflected
Harry’s needs rather than those of the mission. She smirked up at him.
“As if you don't see enough of me?"
"You and I have different definitions of 'enough’.” Ginny rolled her eyes.
They dodged speeding vehicles to cut across the street. Ginny thought she caught the man in red regard them, then look down the street to the point where he last saw the pair wearing different clothes. He shook it off and followed his colleagues. Harry and Ginny were right behind them.
“Your Grace, your table is waiting," the maitre d’ said as he kissed the man in red's hand and led the party to a large table to the rear of the restaurant. There were a few men in dark business suits waiting for them. When the maitre d’ returned, Ginny swooped in, elbowing Harry out of the way.
"We would like a private table, preferably toward the back, please," Ginny said sweetly. The man appraised her chocolate brown eyes and smart outfit, spending particular time on the blouse. He then regarded Harry with significantly less interest.
"Do you hold a reservation, signora?”
"Yes, only I didn't make it. Can I see the book?" Ginny asked as she reached for the leather. The man snatched it away.
"I'm afraid not, signora." Their brief struggle had flushed Ginny's chest, which the maitre d’ was failing to ignore. While he discussed other reservation options with her, Harry pulled out his wand and gave the book a tap. He then gently elbowed Ginny.
"Oh! Try a reservation for an Arthur James," Ginny exclaimed. The man consulted the
book and nodded at Harry.
"Mr. James?" He inquired. Harry nodded. He turned back to Ginny. “And you are?" he asked as he kissed her hand.
“Mrs. James," she said dully. The maitre d's breath caught, either working out the age of the happily married couple or the fact he had been shamelessly flirting with the wife.
"Of course. Right this way," he said before leading them to a table for two just over the shoulder from the man sitting to the left of Bishop. The restaurant was small, with only around a dozen tables. Waiters and bussers were moving around as if in a complicated dance, sometimes even spinning out of the direction of an oncoming coworker. The room featured floor-to-ceiling windows at one end that opened out to a long garden with meticulously arranged flower beds and the occasional semi-nude sculpture. The maitre d’ pulled out Ginny’s chair and presented their menus with a flourish.
At the other table, after all of the introductions had been established and the waiter had filled everyone's water glasses, Bishop began the meeting.
"Have all the arrangements been made?" he asked the men in the suits in perfect English.
"Yes, Your Grace. The caterers are in line, as are the decorators. Reservations are nearly full."
"Even at the 2 million lira suggested donation?" Bishop asked.
"People are quite interested to see the Shroud. It appears the fire only boosted its popularity." At the mention of the Shroud everyone at the table looked around for eavesdroppers. Ginny and Harry hurried to cover their faces with their menus.
"So what looks good?" Harry asked Ginny a little too loudly.
"Just a salad, honey," she replied. "And possibly a glass of wine." Harry nodded as a signal that Bishop's table had returned to business.
"Then you really believe he will be there?" one of the men in black asked.
"We've run this kind of operation before. The arsonist, or the group behind him, won't be able to resist another visit. If anyone fits our watch list, we'll move in."
"I do not like putting the Shroud at risk again," Bishop lamented.
"We have an idea for that as well, Your Grace."
The men in suits looked at each other. "We don't believe we should share that just yet."
"What? Why?" Bishop started sounding petulant. He isn't used to not being in control, Ginny thought.
"Less loose ends, Your Grace. Nothing will happen to the Shroud and the Church will make enough money to pay for the repairs to the Cathedral. And we capture the arsonist. Everyone wins." Bishop took a deep breath and nodded. The suited man who had done most of the talking raised his glass. The remainder of the table mirrored him.
"To the Shroud of Turin. The best bit of bait one could ask for."
Bishop and his group left after the appetizer course while the suited men stayed through dessert. Ginny and Harry had trouble reminding themselves to make more conversation in order to not draw attention to themselves, but there was soon nothing else to spy on other than talk of football and families. No more details of the plan or the fundraiser. The pair waited a few minutes after the suits left before making their own departure.
"Will you accompany me to a very expensive party?" Harry asked Ginny as they walked back to the Hotel Vendome with her hand in the bend of his arm.
"l'd be honored, Mr. James," Ginny replied through a giggle. "But seriously, who were those men?"
"Police of some sort, I reckon."
"That doesn't seem like a very smart plan though. Why go to all the trouble of hiding the Shroud only to get it out for a fancy party?"
"You heard them. It's bait. All we have to do is beat them to it and find a way to be alone with it for a few minutes."
"But it sounds like they have a lot more planned than just a party."
"We can handle it. They're looking for the Muggle who set the fire, not a witch and wizard looking to rid the world of evil. I know we'll find a way. We might even have a good time."
"I doubt it,” Ginny muttered under her breath.
When they came back to the hotel, Franco was sitting at his desk.
"Hi Franco. We just heard that the Cathedral is having a fundraiser tomorrow night. Could you find out the details and sign us up, please?" Harry asked.
"Of course, Mr James. l'll make some calls. Also, I took the liberty of purchasing an English newspaper when I was at the newsstand this morning." He handed it to Harry.
"Thank you very much, Franco! That's very thoughtful," Ginny said.
"It's nothing, signora."
Only when Harry opened the newspaper, his face drained.
"What is it?" Ginny asked. He passed it over. Above the fold: Terrorist Attacks Throughout Britain. Beneath the fold: Who Killed War Criminal Gellert Grindelwald?
Ginny bounded up the stairs before Harry could even register her response. He thanked Franco again before coming after her. When he went in their room, Ginny was already tossing clothes into her suitcase. He could tell that she was straining to keep even breaths but was failing spectacularly.
“Gin, what are you doing?”
“What does it look like?” she cracked. “Packing. Going home.”
“You read the same thing I did. They need us back home. And it won’t be long before they put us together with Grindelwald, which means all of Europe will be looking for us. For me.”
Harry made it a point of calmly walking to her and reaching for her closest hand. She wrestled it away, but he went on trying. “Let’s talk this through first.”
“What’s to talk about? I’m going. You can stay on the mission. You… need to stay on the mission. They won’t be looking for you.”
With his other hand, Harry reached for her chin and tipped it gently toward himself. Ginny’s teeth unclenched.
“The article said nothing about you. No mention at all of a spectacularly gorgeous, red-haired witch. Only that someone broke into his prison and he was found dead afterwards. Who knows how the Muggles found out. It did say that no one was going to mourn his passing and that the world is a better place, even that there were celebrations throughout Germany. No one is going to come looking for you. And if they do, we handle them together. We’re a team. We’re… more than that.”
Ginny blinked. At any other time after that speech, she would’ve kissed him so hard he would’ve passed out. But her mind was still everywhere.
Harry continued. “I think someone put that news out as a trap. To get us to come home. And I think we both know who that is. Just as Grindelwald suspected, that Voldemort would be coming for him. He just got there too late. It wasn’t hard to figure out who beat him to the punch.”
“And now he’s terrorizing the whole country because he knows we’re gone. People are dying now. Wizards and Muggles alike. We have to do something.”
“We are doing something,” Harry said in a low voice.
“Not enough,” she replied, then whirled away from him, her fiery hair whipping around after her.
“We get captured as soon as our feet touch the ground. It's been too long already. Voldemort and the Death Eaters are everywhere now. Probably even in the Muggle government. We can only go back when our work here is done and we know he’s vulnerable. Then we spring the trap, lure him out into the open, and end this.”
Ginny turned and sat along the bed, her elbows on her knees, staring forward. She took in a deep breath. “Tell me the prophecy. The whole thing.”
Harry knelt in front and locked eyes with her. “Okay. ‘The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…’”
Ginny’s eyes went wide. “‘Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.’ So it’s either you or him?” Harry nodded. “And only you can kill him.” He nodded once more. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She knew the prophecy was bad, otherwise Harry wouldn’t have been so secretive about it. And why he always said he was willing to see this through to the end. Because he has no other choice.
And he likewise has no choice on who is there with him.
Ginny pushed herself upward from her knees and pulled Harry to his feet, then kissed him.
“Thank you.” And she could see in his expression that he understood she meant more than just for trusting her enough to tell her the prophecy, but also for carrying this burden for the past six years. For trying to save a world that he didn’t grow up in, that he didn’t owe anything to. “So let’s go and make sure this thing comes true.” Harry gave a slight smile and nodded.
Ginny walked back to her suitcase and set about removing what she had just thrown in, then turned back around.
“Wait, you remembered that whole thing?” she asked him with a lifted eyebrow.
“Well, you know, they are the words that set me on my entire life’s path.”
“And you can barely pass Charms?” Ginny laughed as Harry stuck his tongue out at her. The telephone rang. Harry broke for it but saw the excited look on Ginny’s face. He waved her over to it instead.
“Hello? What? I can hardly hear you.” Harry motioned for her to turn the receiver around. “Oh, that’s better. Hi Franco...Yes, everything’s fine...Oh, you did? Thank you!...Tomorrow night. Perfect...Oh, really?” She turned and grinned at Harry. “No problem. We'll sort that out tomorrow. Thanks!” She hung up and took off laughing.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“You’re not gonna to like it,” she answered between chuckles.
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