|SIYE Time:23:58 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: 27160; Chapter Total: 2129
Awards: View Trophy Room
A/N: I couldn't resist giving Ginny a "Pretty Woman" scene. This is a pretty sappy chapter, but the action and intrigue will come back with a vengeance. Thanks again for all the great comments and follows. My phone buzzing sparks the creative fire. I'm on vacation next week. I'll be writing but not posting. See you next Monday with some more great stuff!
Bonus trivia: Which 90's movie is Harry referencing with The Ritz Hotel?
Chapter 4 - Pretty Woman
Ginny could hear the group of footsteps echoing their own as they made one turn, then scrambled down an alley between two row houses. Harry jumped over a half-height fence before helping Ginny conquer it, which was challenging in the sliver of light the street lamps provided. They avoided someone’s pug in a back garden before finding a gate and emerging back on a road.
“Let’s head back to the stadium and lose them in the crowd,” Harry called. He pulled Ginny to the right. When they turned the next corner, the sound of their pursuers’ footfalls was drowned out by the football match’s straggling fans who were still stumbling out of the neighborhood pubs.
Ginny looked back and found the Death Eaters about half a block behind. Harry pulled Ginny into a group of large men who were only wearing red scarves and shorts, chanting about their victory. Down another block, they found a taxi cab waiting for customers who were still paying their tab in the pub. The wizard and witch dove into the black car.
“The Ritz Hotel,” Harry commanded. The driver raised an eyebrow in the rear view mirror at the two teenagers. Both of whom were too busy catching their breath to clarify. The driver shrugged.
“Yes sir,” the driver responded before stepping on the gas pedal. Ginny turned and saw the group of pub goers chasing after the cab making rude gestures at her. She mouthed “Sorry!”. Past the angry drunks, five black robes were still weaving their way through the crowd looking for them.
Harry and Ginny both laid their heads on the headrests on the seats and breathed deeply.
“That was brilliant,” Ginny remarked to the felt ceiling of the cab. “Hotel, huh?” she continued with a mischievous tone.
“We need to get off the roads. Go somewhere they won’t expect. And The Ritz is the only one I know. Aunt Petunia was obsessed with this film about it.”
Ginny nodded, then looked down at the torn skirt of her dress. She frowned. She had picked out this dress when her and Harry were still going out, just for him, expecting that they would spend the whole wedding together. They would dance and laugh and ignore everyone else. Well, at least they did spend the wedding together.
“If you teach me the mending charm, I’ll fix it for you later,” Harry said without prompting. “That dress is too nice to let it stay like that.” Ginny felt like she would explode.
Harry closed the sliding glass window between them and the driver and pulled the envelope from his coat pocket. He slid his finger under the flap, flattened it out, and retrieved a folded piece of parchment. He flattened that as well and held it up to read before looking at Ginny and moving it to the middle of the seat so they could both see. Her heart fluttered. He’s learning.
“His will said that if I ever need anything, just check the best pictures in the whole house,” Harry explained.
If you’re reading this, I’ve gone. Know that I died doing what I swore to your parents I would do: protect you. I have no regrets about that. Well, maybe one - that we didn’t get to spend more time together. Know that the times we did have were some of the best of my life. I got my best friend back. I thought your father was gone forever. It turns out he’ll live on through you. Hopefully for a long, happy life with people he loves and who love him in return.
If you have this, it also means you have read my will and that you’re in trouble, but there is no surprise in that. You should find some help here. The card is tied to a Muggle bank account attached to the Black family vault at Gringotts. The books are Muggle passports that modify themselves to whatever identities you need. I think you know the incantation.
Be careful and do not be afraid to rely on the others. They only want what’s best for you - just like me.
All my best, with love,
Ginny could hear Harry give a sniff as he folded the letter back to its original state. She herself wiped a tear from the crook of her eye. He then spread the envelope apart. Ginny could see a large roll of Muggle pounds wrapped in a ribbon, a shiny black plastic card, and three small red books. Ginny understood that Sirius meant the other two passports for Hermione and Ron and darkened.
Harry pulled one out and flipped it open. It was blank. Ginny could see his eyes narrow. Then he had a revelation. He pulled out his wand and held both the book and the wand low under the front seat of the cab so the driver wouldn’t see.
“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good,” he whispered and tapped the book. He flipped it open and showed Ginny. The pages had filled, including a picture of Harry that looked remarkably like a picture from Azkaban but in color.
“That’s horrible!” Ginny exclaimed through a giggle. Then she noticed the name. “Arthur Sirius James? My dad, too?”
“Those were the only names I could think of.” She couldn’t help but reach over and grab his hand. He moved it to his knee.
Maintaining her hold on Harry, as she was accustomed to doing these days, she turned to the window to watch London streak past her in the middle of the night. It was barely-lit neighborhoods where newspapers were being delivered to ethnic streets setting up for the morning’s market. Finally, the lights turned posh. Smartly-dressed people emerging from bouncing, glittery night clubs walking toward cars that looked like space ships. Then came fences. Lots of fences, designed to make sure everyone knew their place. Ginny’s knowledge of Muggle London came from her yearly trips between her dad’s office at the Ministry to King’s Cross Station to catch the Hogwarts Express. On those trips she was preoccupied with protecting herself from the barbs her brothers would fire at her and each other, putting out any damaged feelings that may have been injured, and trying to casually notice if Harry Potter was looking at her. She found the pressure of humanity in the city, as a country girl, to be both stifling and exhilarating.
Suddenly, the cab eased up to a bright stone and glass building, with twinkling lights that seemed designed to trick everyone that it was still daytime. Harry slid out of his side and hustled around the cab to help Ginny out of her seat. Her eyes were magnetized to look up at the grandeur while Harry started making progress toward… what is that?
Thick glass sheets were arranged on a wheel, which spun sideways at a consistent speed. Every time one of the pieces of glass moved from outside to in, a “whoosh” was audible throughout the sidewalk. Ginny’s eyes were as wide as her mouth.
“I think it’s the door, Gin. I think we jump in between the walls.” She nodded and grabbed Harry’s hand as a lifeline. He jumped into the next section and pulled her along with him, just missing her being caught by the upcoming glass wall. The section wasn’t built for two people, so they were crushed together for the ride. It didn’t seem that either of them minded. Then they reached the other side and tried to emerge looking as if they had done that hundreds of times.
Harry looked around the lobby for someone who knew what they were doing while Ginny couldn’t help but stare at the gigantic crystal chandelier. It seemed to take a small bit of light and turn it into countless rays. Was it magic? She rotated around the crystal, trying to find the wizard behind the work. She could vaguely hear Harry begin his business with the front desk.
“I’m sorry. We don’t have a reservation, but I was hoping for a room for the night.”
“That may be possible, Mr…”
“James. Arthur James.” Harry extended his hand, which the clerk, whose nametag identified him as “Roger”, reluctantly accepted. He started pushing buttons under his desk, each salvo sounding more expectant than the last.
“Here we are. Would you care for a suite or a single room, sir?”
“Ummm, a suite is…” Apparently they didn’t cover this in Aunt Petunia’s movie.
The clerk failed to conceal a condescending giggle. “A suite is multiple rooms. A sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom.”
“Oh. Yeah. That sounds good.”
“Wonderful. And your identification, please.” Harry handed him “Mr. James’s” passport. More pushing of buttons. “All I need is method of payment.” Harry handed over the black card, holding it between his fingers. The clerk looked at the card, flipped it over, then excused himself. He walked behind the counter and picked up a telephone. Harry just shrugged at Ginny, who returned to inspecting the chandelier. The clerk hung up the phone and returned to his desk with a frown on his face.
“I’m afraid we can’t accommodate you at this time.”
“What? Why?” By then, Ginny had turned around.
“The name on your payment card doesn’t match your passport. How did you come by this card?”
“That’s none of your concern,” Ginny barged in, her eyes becoming darker with every syllable.
“It is if I’m to accept his payment, miss.”
Ginny leaned over the desk and motioned for the clerk to follow her. Harry leaned as well.
“Do you know who this is?” Ginny began.
Harry pulled at her dress. “That’s not going to work here, Gin,” he breathed.
She ignored him. “Do you know the Prime Minister?” Ginny started at barely a whisper.
“Not personally, no, but I know of him.”
“Do you know his sons?”
“He doesn’t have any sons.” The man sounded as if he would rather be anywhere else, even in Azkaban.
“He doesn’t have any sons that you know of,” Ginny said, looking toward Harry for the clerk to get her meaning.
“Are you telling me…”
Ginny nodded. “It’s a matter of national security. The PM wants to keep his family out of the papers. Therefore the mismatching forms of identification. Meanwhile, we’re more than happy to make sure the papers know The Ritz does not support the security needs of the nation and, frankly, the government as a whole. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
“Well, hold on…” the clerk interjected, flustered. Ginny raised an expectant eyebrow. “Let me see what I can do.” The clerk retreated back to the other room, where Ginny noticed him taking a few deep breaths, not hitting buttons or getting on the phone. After a few moments, he slid in just as if nothing had happened.
“A suite you said, right, sir?” Ginny smiled.
“Y-yes. Thank you.”
“And will that be one bed or two?” Ginny could see Harry gulp and struggle for air.
“Two. And that’s terribly presumptuous on your part,” Ginny answered.
“Of course, madam.” More typing. “Two keys?”
“What do you think?”
Soon, the clerk handed over the keys to suite 720 and started listing the considerable amenities of the hotel, including the room service and the 24-hour concierge, who was apparently some person that does anything you need, sort of like a house-elf.
“Can you call the concierge over, please?” Harry asked. The clerk pointed at someone across the lobby and beckoned over a short, precocious-looking woman in shoes whose heels clacked around the marble floor as if it needed to be known where she was at all times.
“This is Emily, our excellent concierge. This is Mr. James and his…” the clerk introduced.
“Assistant,” Ginny corrected.
“How can I help, Mr. James?” Emily asked with her hands knitted together on the counter.
“We seem to be short of clothing for our upcoming travels. Is there a way we can shop without having to leave the hotel. My assistant,” he looked at Ginny with a wink, “and I are trying to keep a low profile.”
“Of course! What you’re looking for is a personal shopper. Christopher is wonderful! I’ll send him to your room tomorrow morning. What time works best for you?”
Harry and Ginny looked at each other. “10?” they said simultaneously.
“10 o’clock it is.” Emily fished a business card out of her breast pocket and made to hand it to Harry before reconsidering and offering it to Ginny instead. “If you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to call.”
Harry and Ginny lifted their bags off the floor and made their way to the elevator. Ginny hit the button for floor 7 and the doors slid open. Once they were both in, Harry grabbed her in a hug around her waist, lifting her up and twirling her around.
“That was brilliant! Where do you come up with this stuff?” Ginny was too busy laughing to respond.
Once the elevator arrived at the 7tn floor, Ginny and Harry walked down the hall toward their suite.
"Harry, did you mean what you said back there? That we’re going to be traveling? That I'm going on the trip?"
He stopped and turned, looking directly into her hopeful brown eyes. "l'm sorry I've been such a prat today," Harry began. "It took a lot to convince myself that breaking up with you last term was the right thing to do. To keep you safe. It hurt."
"So did being broken up with," Ginny said softly. Harry nodded.
"But as soon as we were around each other again, the feelings came right back.Then my birthday and Ron yelling at me."
"That git needs to mind his own business. Or get some business of his own to mind,” Ginny broke in, her face reddening.
Harry chuckled. "But nothing changed. We were still going on the trip. I was still leaving you. Then the wedding. It all happened so fast. And Grimmauld Place. And here. I wouldn't have made it without you. So yes. You're coming. I wouldn’t make it a week without you.” Ginny was worried that her rib cage could no longer contain her heart. Harry looked down at his feet. "If you want to, that is." Ginny grabbed him by the neck in response.
"Let's go check out this suite!” she whispered.
They found the door and clicked it open. As they entered, electric light filled the room. The first door was the bathroom. Ginny peeked in, just enough for it to register as bigger than the sitting room at the Burrow. She spun out to the sitting room, running her fingers over the brown leather couch. Harry was leaned in the corner with a grin on his face, watching red hair flicker from one feature to another.
"Harry! Is that a...CV?" she asked, pointing to a dark glass box in the corner of the room.
He giggled. "TV. Television. But yeah."
"And you can watch anything you want?"
Ginny’s eyes widened. "How does it work?" Harry picked up a small plastic rectangle and held it behind his back.
"We need sleep."
Gunny turned her bottom lip. "Five minutes?" With a wave of his wand, the remote control vanished. Ginny's face expanded to a full pout, but she moved into the bedroom. Two of the most comfortable beds Ginny had ever seen greeted her. They had already been turned down with a chocolate on each pillow. Ginny picked hers up and made a spectacle of unwrapping it and placing it into her mouth. Harry swallowed.
"Okay. I get the bathroom first." Ginny called as she jogged out of the room. A few minutes later, she emerged wearing a hotel bathrobe and bounded onto the bed.
"Don't worry, Potter. I've got the same knickers on that I had with the dress." What she didn't mention was that the gold dress didn’t require a bra.
"Oh. Umm. Good." he replied. He was already cocooned in his sheets and had removed his glasses to the nightstand. He reached over and turned out the lights.
"Good night, Ginny."
"Good night, Harry.”
But after a few breaths. Ginny needed another question answered.
"Why did you pick me? To Apparate from the wedding? Ron and Hermione were dancing, not far away. You could've grabbed them.”
Harry expelled a cloud of air. "Instinct, I guess." Ginny hoped the smile that she developed would stay through her dreams.
But that wasn't to be. About an hour later, Ginny was awakened by grunting and mumbled speech from Harry's bed. As she tried to sort what was going on, he started writhing around as well, twisting himself in his sheets and knocking pillows to the floor. Ginny couldn't help herself. She rolled out of her bed, slid into his, and wrapped his arms with hers. Almost immediately, the rustling stopped and Harry started to breathe regularly again. It was the sound that returned Ginny to slumber.
When Harry eased his eyes open in the morning, he was greeted with the sight of Ginny sitting at the desk, her long legs crossed over another chair, her hair wet. She had Secrets of the Darkest Arts open in her lap and a notepad to her side.
"Good morning!" she said brightly. Harry mumbled a reply. "I have good news! I'm now a master of the dark arts."
"I've been sleeping that long?" he mused as he reached for his glasses. With good sight, the view was even more stirring.
"Hurry up and eat breakfast." Ginny ordered, tossing her head to a cart filled with pastries, coffee, juices, and fruit. "It was amazing! I just had to push some numbers on that telebone thing and the cart just showed up. Their house-elves are really on top of it."
"It's just more Muggles who cook the food and bring it to you," he corrected her as he chose a strawberry Danish.
Harry poured a coffee and moved behind Ginny, looking over her shoulder at the ancient book. "So what have you learned, master?"
"Some of these spells can only be described as disgusting, no more so than what is needed for a Horcrux. Ritual sacrifice. Blood. Dark incantations. No wonder that's where Regulus drew the line."
"I know," Harry said in a low tone. "I saw one last night."
Ginny turned to him and reached for his hand. "That's what the dream was about?"
"I don’t just have dreams. This was a memory. It was Tom Riddle making one of the Horcruxes."
"Which one?" Ginny asked. Harry crossed over to the table where Ginny had spread out all of the photos. He slid one out.
"This one. The bloody sheet. He killed a security guard and used him in the process."
"That's amazing!" Ginny exclaimed. "I mean, terrible. But we have one confirmed. Three more to go. Is that the guard’s blood?"
“No. It was there before the curse. It’s the blood that makes it special to the Muggles.” Harry took a bite of his Danish. "But there's a problem that I thought of after the dream." Ginny looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "We need to destroy them. That was fine when it was Tom's old knick knacks. But these items basically created Muggle history, at least in Europe. If we destroy them..."
"The Muggles will want war." Ginny finished. "And that's what Voldemort wants, too."
Harry's mouth formed into a grimace. "It’s genius, really. The Muggles do his dirty work and protect the artifacts. If we get to them, we stir up the wasp nest. He's always one step ahead!" he exclaimed, slamming his hand down on the room service cart. Ginny grabbed his wrist and looked deep into his eyes.
"So we’ll find a way to reverse the spells without harming the objects. You found a way to kill a giant snake with no help from me. You got me and everyone else out of the Department of Mysteries. We'll figure this out. Give it some thought. But Christopher will be here in 10 minutes."
"The shopper bloke. I can't wear a bathrobe everywhere."
Right on time, a short black man in a beret with a feather protruding out the back was at the door. He floated in and offered a hand to "Mr. James" before turning to Ginny.
"Oh my. These are the easy jobs. The ones where I have such a beautiful woman to work with that no one notices the clothes anyway. Isn’t that right, Mr. James?"
"I couldn't agree more,” Harry replied. It felt like Ginny's face might burn right off.
Christopher took Ginny's hand and kissed it. "And you are?"
Christopher's jaw dropped. He turned to Harry. "Never let her call herself 'Ginny' again," he commanded. Harry nodded, fully appreciating the scandalized look Ginny was giving him.
"So Emily said full wardrobes for an extended trip, correct?" Harry and Ginny both nodded. Christopher clapped his hands once. "Easy peasy." He crossed to the phone and punched some numbers. "Hugo! I need everything size..." he looked Ginny up and down, “two. Yeah, everything. And for the gent, size medium and suits..." His eyes narrowed at Harry " - 36 slim. 15 minutes.”
14 minutes later, a larger but equally flamboyant man came through the door dragging two rolling, gold racks of clothes.
"Okay, Miss Ginevra. You’re in the bedroom with me. Mr. James is out here in the sitting room with Hugo. Don't worry. You're not his type."
Christopher pushed Ginny into the bedroom so fast she didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Harry.
"Okay. I'm thinking summer outfits. Are you going anywhere cold?"
"I don't know. Probably." Ginny answered.
"We'll definitely be moving around a lot."
Christopher nodded. "And eveningwear. You'll be going out a lot, right?"
"I hope so..."
The stylist gave her a knowing smile. "Now let's talk unmentionables."
"This is all I've got with me," Ginny replied, raising the hem of the bathrobe.
"Umm, I see. And when it comes to that, are you more conservative or willing to take a risk?"
Ginny blushed. "I've never really had a reason to be risky."
Christopher looked behind him to the door that led to the sitting room. "Well, you do now.”
Ginny felt her face flush. "Oh. I mean… we're just friends. Well, it's complicated."
"It always is, sweetie," Christopher replied with a sardonic smile.
The next hour was a whirlwind, with Christopher throwing Ginny blouses, skirts, dresses, and underwear and she struggling to put them on, twirling around, and waiting for his verdict. Some passed. Most failed. Every time she looked in the mirror, she had the uneasy feeling that it wasn’t Ginny Weasley looking back at her. What if this wasn’t the Ginny that Harry had feelings for? Was he trying to turn her into something she can’t be?
On one particular green blouse, the vote was split. Christopher was in love and Ginny hated it.
"Go see what Mr. James thinks. If he can't talk straight, we keep it.”
Ginny fought, trying to pull the neckline to an acceptable level and failing. She padded out, where Harry was being measured for a suit.
"What do you think?" she asked. Harry turned around and dropped the measuring tape he was holding for Hugo.
"Oh. Oh, yeah. Umm. That's..." Ginny waited a few seconds in vain for Harry to finish his thought before turning back to the bedroom.
"Told you," Christopher said smugly. She made a begrudging show of putting it in the “keep” pile, thinking to herself that she would save the blouse for a really special occasion and, until then, keep it somewhere she didn’t have to look at it.
When everyone was done, Hugo brought up some luggage and Christopher presented Harry with the bill. Before he could sign it, Ginny looked over his shoulder.
"Harry!" she whispered. But he handed over the black card anyway. After rounds of hugs and handshakes, the stylists were gone. Ginny rounded on Harry.
"Are you daft? That cost more than my dad makes in a year. Ron told me you have some money, but that you don’t care about it. That's way too much."
"We need clothes, Ginny - Ginevra." He smirked. "In some of these places, we're going to need to blend in. It's a lot easier to get into places if you look like you belong there.”
She collapsed into an armchair. "But Harry, I felt like someone else in there. This stuff… it isn’t me. You know money doesn't mean anything to me. I would help you just in that bathrobe if I had to.”
Harry smiled and reached for her hand. "I know. And you'd look just as beautiful. I know better than to try to change Ginny Weasley into anything she’s not. I’d rather wrestle Aragog without a wand. Besides, it wasn't my money. It's Black family money. Think of it as Walburga paying us back for all the times she yelled at us.”
At that, Ginny giggled. Harry went back to the desk and flipped open the book again.
"And I had an idea about our Horcrux problem."
"What is it?"
"We need an outside opinion. You're not gonna like who from.” She narrowed her eyes at him and looked down at the book. He had turned to a picture of a man, young and blond and full of energy. She recognized him but couldn’t place him. Ginny was going to ask Harry about the picture, but he was already on the phone to Emily.
"Hi Emily! Yes, Christopher was fabulous. Thanks so much. If you don’t mind, we need two flights to Munich. Yes, soon as possible. First class? Does that mean they teach you how the airplane works and stuff? Is there a test? Oh. Ha! Of course not. No thanks... Oh, yeah I'd guess you need that. Can I call you back? She's in the shower and I don't know her middle name. Okay. Bye."
"What's wrong?” Ginny asked. Harry went back to the envelope and pulled out another blank red book.
"Hope this works. We can't risk you doing the spell.” Ginny nodded.
"She solemnly swears that she is up to no good." Harry muttered as he tapped the passport with his wand. Ginny flipped open the book. Harry looked behind her.
"No fair! You look good in any picture!" She struck her tongue out at him. Then Harry noticed the name. "Lily Molly Evans?"
"I didn't know your mum's middle name," Ginny explained.
Harry paused. "Neither do l.”
It only took half an hour for Emily to arrange the tickets and a car to take them to Heathrow. The plane left in a couple of hours.
"I can't believe we're going on one of those things." Gummy murmured, her gaze never leaving the scenes of London that were passing by. "You're sure they're safe?"
"I think so. Muggles love them.”
But when they pulled up to the airport, "love" was the last word to come to Ginny’s mind. People yelling at each other. Others cutting in line. Helpers forced to keep smiling even though someone was swearing them. There were people crying all over the terminal. It looked like torture, like a giant room full of Draco Malfoys. Ginny was just about to turn back when Harry grabbed her hand.
"This is us," he said as he steered her toward a line with a sign that read "Immigration - EU" and pictures of flags, including Germany’s. As the line inched forward, Harry dug around in the envelope for his and Ginny's passports. When they reached the desk, they were greeted by a large, intimidating black man in brightly colored robes, jewelry, and a shaved head.
"And where are we heading today, Mr Potter? Miss Weasley?" He had even gone to the trouble of getting a nametag that read "Kingsley".
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