|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: 27168; Chapter Total: 1183
Awards: View Trophy Room
"If I would've known I'd be doing this, I might've told Dumbledore to take his Horcruxes and shove them up his…"
Ginny sat back in a plush velvet armchair with a mug of a warm chocolate drink and her legs crossed while Harry was being attended to by a decrepit man who was seemingly measuring every square inch of Harry's body, pinning fabric as he went along. They were fenced in by tall mirrors and Harry was standing on a platform carpeted in red. On more than one occasion, the Chosen One, the wizard who would save the world, perhaps one of the most powerful of the age, yelped when the tailor stuck a pin in a bit too far.
It turned out that the fundraiser for the Turin Cathedral was a black-tie affair. Ginny already had a suitable dress from her time with Christopher, the shopper in London, but Harry only had one business suit with him. A tuxedo is a different matter entirely. So while Ginny was giddy the entire morning with the idea of seeing her boyfriend have to go through just a bit of what women do when it comes to making themselves look beautiful, Harry knew that this may be one of the more challenging tasks in the trip and presented the requisite amount of sullenness throughout breakfast. But to be honest, even Ginny was getting bored now. It was difficult to picture what she was sure to be an exquisitely handsome finished product when Harry was draped in mismatched fabrics and screeching half the time.
"How much longer will this be, signore?" she asked, just as much for her benefit as Harry's.
The tailor muttered something in Italian that sounded vulgar, then turned to Ginny. "30 minutes, signora."
"Harry, do you mind if I walk around the store a while? I promise to pick out something you'll like," she said in a sing-song voice.
"I reckon I'll have enough clothes after this, thanks."
"Not for you," Ginny responded, watching until Harry grasped her meaning.
"Oh… well… yeah. Sounds good." She bounded up to Harry and gave him a kiss on the cheek. The tailor grunted as Harry shifted around.
The store's map was in Italian and she was too embarrassed to look up "lingerie" in the dictionary, so she just followed the most fashionable women in the store until they stopped at the right section. It was like getting a tour of a life Ginny hoped she'd never lead, but was alright with visiting from time to time - especially if it was with (and for) Harry.
As Ginny looked through the racks, she felt as if the sun had swallowed the store for as hot as her face felt. For some pieces she wondered what exactly they were selling for as little fabric as there was on offer. For others, she questioned how she would put it on. And then there were the pieces that she would hold up, see the light pass right through them, and wonder what the point of wearing something like this would be - until she made a realization and nearly bit a hole in her cheek.
She opted to try on something that, in her estimation, was comparatively tame: a strapless bra that tonight's formal dress required. She traced the patterns of the lace with her finger, knowing she probably wouldn't have any occasion to wear it again and hoping she was wrong. It was too beautiful to only be worn one time. At least it will be suitably appreciated after the party, depending on how long it stayed on.
As she paid with some of the Muggle money Harry carried around, she was mesmerized by the cashier typing loudly into her computer. Ginny had seen one before, of course, but had never used one herself. Then she got an idea.
"Excuse me. Is it true that you can write a letter to anyone in the world with that thing?"
The cashier, a youthful woman who looked as if she had many better places to be, squinted at Ginny. She puffed out a "Siiiiii".
"Can I write a note to the prime minister of Britain?"
The saleswoman chuckled, then realized Ginny was serious and tried to seem apologetic. "I suppose. But it would likely just go to one of his secretaries."
A smirk formed on Ginny's face. "I'm counting on it."
After making out the math in her head of what Ginny just spent on her lace bra and what her boyfriend was about to spend on a tuxedo, she was happy to help Ginny find the right email address for the prime minister's office. She passed over the keyboard, but when Ginny took a full minute to type "Dear", the saleswoman asked if she would rather have her type. Ginny brightened and nodded.
"Ok, here we go. 'Dear Kingsley. Everything is great here in Italy on our vacation. Things were a little hectic in Germany, but we did pay our regards to an old friend while we were there and got what we needed. We don't know how long we'll be gone or where we're heading next, but we're being safe and making progress. Tell Mum and Dad that we love them very much and that we'll see them again as soon as we can. Tell everyone to stay out of trouble. Love, 6 & 7.'" Ginny hoped that even if he wasn't working for the Ministry of Magic anymore, Kingsley was still protecting the prime minister. He certainly needs it.
"Do all British people have to tell their prime minister about their vacation?" the saleswoman asked. Ginny couldn't tell if she was joking.
"So if he writes back, it will come back here?" Ginny asked. The cashier nodded. "Ok, I'll try to get back tomorrow. Thanks for your help!" she said brightly and made her way back to Harry. When she examined him, she couldn't help but to bite a fingernail. The suit was perfect and fit everywhere he had filled out over the past year.
"I feel ridiculous," he declared when he saw her return. "How do I look?"
"Oh. Ummm. Yeah… good…uhhh."
Harry smiled. "Yeah, Antonio said you would say that." Ginny opened her mouth to speak again but could merely manage a nod. "Never thought I'd see the day where Ginny Weasley didn't have anything to say. Guess the struggle was worth it after all." He took hold of her hand. "Let's go get ready for the party."
The door guard at the gala didn't think twice about admitting Mr. and Mrs. Arthur James, thanks to the aging potion Harry and Ginny had taken just after leaving the Hotel Vendome. Ginny had learned the formula from her brothers Fred and George, even though their own experiment with it went awry during the Triwizard Tournament. The components were simple enough and were able to be purchased at what the Muggles called a "health food store".
They looked to have their dosages right. If you were asked, you would say Harry was in his mid-30s. The creases around his eyes from years of nightmares and stress had deepened and lengthened. If you looked hard enough (as Ginny did), you could find the stray grey hair near his temple. Ginny, on the other hand, was quite difficult to make look older. Her natural energy, shining eyes, and radiant hair would probably always have that effect. If anything had changed with her, the hair may be a shade less vibrant.
Only that's not what Harry was looking at. Rather, it was her floor-length, strapless green gown that fit her athletic form until after her thighs, where it flared out into a skirt that swished around her ankles as she moved. On more than one occasion, Harry bumped into a table, statue, or waiter because he was looking to his side rather than right in front of him.
The pair were taking themselves on a tour of the large reception hall the church chose for the party. It was in one of the Cathedral's adjacent buildings, next door to Bishop's apartment building. As could be expected, everything was exquisite. Anything metal had been polished to a mirror finish. The electric lights were used sparingly, only highlighting important works of art hanging on the wall or situated around the room. The balance of the lighting was accomplished through the glow of hundreds of candles, including a group that formed the main chandelier. Waiters were circulating with glasses of champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Those who knew each other (which were most, considering Turinese high society often traveled in packs) chatted amiably.
Harry and Ginny, on the other hand, took themselves around the room, inspecting the art but also anything that may be out of place. There was no telling what the police's plans for the Shroud entailed.
"Do you feel anything?" Ginny asked.
"I feel a lot of things," Harry replied with a wink and a quick squeeze of her bum.
"Prat!" She slapped his hand away while trying to hide a grin. "I'm old enough to be your mother!"
"Nah. Older sister maybe. Oh, stepsister! That works." Ginny's look could have burned a hole through Harry's eye sockets. "But yeah, I feel it. It's here in the building. Much stronger than in the Cathedral."
"Where is it?"
"I dunno. They must be hiding it."
The string quartet posted in the nook of the ballroom finished warming up and leapt into their first piece, a waltz.
"Have we ever danced?" Harry asked with a spark in his eye.
"Not that I remember. You had your chance at the Yule Ball and decided to spend the time pining after Cho Chang instead, much to the delight of your actual date. Poor Parvati. Meanwhile, I had a perfectly lovely time with Neville."
Harry's face fell. "All that lost time. The person I was meant to be with was right there and I was too stupid to see it."
Ginny took Harry's hand. "She's here now."
He smiled. "But what would you have said if I asked you to the Yule Ball first?"
"I would've accepted, of course!" Then she wrapped her arms about his neck and leaned into his ear. "And it would have been the happiest night of my life," she whispered.
Almost unconsciously, they began swaying with the music. They weren't waltzing, per se, but they weren't standing out from the crowd, either. Every so often, Ginny would take her head off Harry's shoulder and look into his iridescent green eyes. When she did that, she made a wish to herself and whatever guiding force was out there to let this be her future. That her and Harry would look like this decades from now, get along like this, and never want to let go of each other like this forever. That this wasn't merely a part of the mission. That this night was a window to her future. Their future.
"You don't like to think about the future much," Ginny said into his neck. It wasn't a question. She knew him well enough to know his answer.
"I don't really have that luxury."
"But everyone knows you want to be an auror after Hogwarts."
"I have to tell them something, otherwise they would lock me in a room and throw away the key."
"You don't really want that?"
"I do. I just can't picture myself getting there. When you've never had a normal life, when you've had a price on your head since you were a baby, you don't really know what to expect if you get one."
Ginny pulled back to look him in the eye once more. "You can expect the entire Wizarding world to love you as a hero. You'll hate it, but you won't be able to stop it. You can expect a job where you'll work hard to be the best, because that's what you do. You'll help people, because that's also what you do. And you can expect someone completely devoted to you to be there every step of the way."
"And who's that?" Harry asked with no trace of sarcasm. He honestly didn't know.
"You're going to make me say it, eh?" She took a deep breath. "It's me, Harry. I'll be right next to you. For whatever you need for as long as you want it. We're a team. And that doesn't mean just chasing Horcruxes. It means supporting each other after bad days and taking care of each other when we're sick. To let each other vent when we're frustrated. Which, knowing us, will be often. To hold each other through the nightmares. At least, that's what I want…" she trailed off, looking down to the side. Harry put his hand under her chin and led it toward his mouth. He gently kissed her.
"That sounds like a life worth fighting for," he breathed. It felt as if Ginny's eyes would dissolve into a watery mess. Thankfully someone began tapping on a microphone. Bishop.
He was standing at the center of the room in red robes that were shinier than what he was wearing yesterday, a hat that can only be described as lavish, and had put on his best beaming smile. He was flanked by his group of priests in black. After beginning his remarks in Italian, he would translate for himself in English.
"I would like to thank each of you for the kindness you have shown our church during this difficult time. Tonight is about more than money - although that helps!" The gathered guests dutifully chuckled. "Tonight is about we as a community coming together to stand up for what we believe in. Our faith. Our history.
"So please enjoy yourselves. Dinner will be served shortly. But first, let us welcome back for the first time since that horrific night, our beloved Shroud of Turin!" He gestured toward double doors on the opposite end of the ballroom, which opened and revealed two armed security guards walking shoulder-to-shoulder. Two more were rolling in a heavy wooden cabinet carved in intricate patterns. On top of the cabinet was a glass box. Within that box sat a golden, engraved rectangular prism, almost like a casket.
"The Shroud must be in that golden box," Harry surmised. Ginny just nodded, still wiping a stray tear from her eye. Discovering this, Harry wove his fingers with Ginny's and brought her hand up for a tender kiss. She smiled and they worked their way through the crowd to the display, but Harry stopped suddenly.
"What is it, Harry?"
He leaned down to her ear, not wanting to cause any alarm for the other guests.
"That's not the Shroud."
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