|SIYE Time:11:50 on 21st August 2017|
Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Other, Ron Weasley
Genres: Comedy, Fluff, General, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: AU. After a disappointing year on a reserve Quidditch team, Ginny Weasley decides to change her path and join the Auror Academy. There, she learns more about magic, love, evil, and herself than she ever could have imagined.
Hitcount: Story Total: 11239; Chapter Total: 1200
Awards: View Trophy Room
New chapter! And we first meet Harry.
September dawned bright and with a chill of autumn’s arrival hanging in the air. Ginny woke up early on the morning of the 1st, almost feeling as if she should be getting on the Hogwarts Express for the start of another school year. Instead, she gathered all of her new textbooks into her bag and dressed in a brand new set of work robes. Her mother had insisted that she buy new professional clothes, in order to make a good first impression. Ginny stood in front of the mirror and slowly assessed herself — she almost did not recognize the person looking back. Never before had she looked so clean cut and professional; she was used to looking windswept, sweaty, and slightly disorganized from practicing Quidditch. Instead, her long red hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail, not a hair out of place. Her new robes were a deep black, without any patches or holes, and pressed neatly so that the edges stood out, crisp and clear.
To an outside observer, she looked like the perfect picture of a calm, collected, and confident career-witch. But Ginny could see the self-doubt in her own eyes, and she took a few deep, calming breaths. “You’ll do great, luv,” the mirror told her, and she sent her reflection a quick smile before turning away and gathering all of her things.
The Auror Academy was part of the ministry’s adjunct building, which housed other training programs as well as the cafeteria, an indoor flying pitch, and a small apothecary for ministry employees. Access to the building could only be gained through the Atrium of the ministry, and so Ginny found herself standing in front of the Fountain of Magical Brethren as ministry employees rushed all around her. She looked up into the face of the beautiful golden witch, and promised to donate a handful of coins if that day went well. After a few moments, she hurried off down the side hall to the fireplaces that would bring her to the classrooms.
A small queue was formed waiting for access, and Ginny got in line behind a tall man with dark brown hair. Lost in her thoughts, it took Ginny a few moments before she realized that she recognized the man in front of her, and really did not want to talk to him this early on her first day. Unfortunately, the moment she decided to get out of line and move back a few people, he turned around.
“Ginny?” Michael asked, surprise written on his face. “What are you doing here?”
Ginny tried to give him a tight smile, but was sure it came out as more of a grimace. “Hello, Michael,” she said. She watched in irritation as he assessed her appearance before answering his second question. “I’m going to class.”
Michael looked taken aback. “Class? You mean at the Auror Academy?”
Ginny nodded. “Yes,” she answered simply, hoping to leave it at that.
She watched as Michael opened and closed his mouth several times, searching for the right thing to say. He finally settled on something. “You got into the Auror Academy?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “What, like it’s hard?” she asked, knowing that for Michael, it was not easy to get accepted to the program. She gave him another tight smile and gestured behind him, where the queue had disappeared and he was the next person to go through the floo.
Michael turned around, and without another word for Ginny walked into the fireplace and disappeared in a swirl of green flames. Hoping that would be the end of their conversation, Ginny followed suit.
Unfortunately, Michael was waiting for her to emerge on the other side. “Listen, Ginny, if you are going to be here now, I think that there are a few things we need to talk about,” he began, looking anywhere but at her face. A man came stumbling out of the floo and bumped into Ginny’s back. She looked back and noticed that they were blocking the fireplace.
She began walking away down the new corridor, with Michael trailing behind her. The hall was dark and windowless, and lit only by a few torches attached to the walls. “I don’t know, Michael,” she said. They emerged into a round room with different doors spaced evenly throughout the perimeter. Ginny stopped briefly to check the directory on the wall beside her before turning sharply to the right and heading through the door marked Auror Academy. “I have class in a few minutes, and I really don’t want to be late.”
Ginny drew to a halt as she observed her surroundings. She was standing in what looked like the lobby of a building, with corridors branching off from that room in five different directions. Each corridor was lined with doors to classrooms on one side, and wide arched windows on the other. Down four of the halls bright sunshine streamed through the windowpanes, but down the fifth a thunderstorm waged. People hurried around her, some talking and laughing with friends, others rushing to find the correct classroom before the day began.
Michael came to a stop beside her. “Me too,” he said, finally looking at her, but Ginny found that she did not want to look back at him. “I have Concealment and Disguise first, what about you?” he asked. Ginny reached into her bag and pulled out the parchment holding her schedule.
“History of Magical Law Enforcement,” she read aloud. The classroom number listed beside it was 409, which was thankfully down one of the sunny corridors. Without waiting for Michael to say another word, Ginny pivoted and walked down the fourth hall. She did not look back until she reached the classroom door, but there were too many people in the hall to see where Michael had gone.
She entered the room, where a few people were already sitting, and chose a seat close to another tall window the bright morning sunshine was streaming in. Despite the fact that they were eight stories underground, the view out of the window was one of a sunny courtyard, and it reminded Ginny of Hogwarts. This relaxed her slightly, and she took a sheet of parchment, a quill, and a pot of ink out of her bag, arranging them on the desk in front of her before turning to watch the rest of the students enter the room.
There were a few students she recognized from Hogwarts, but none whom she was particularly friendly with. Most of them were a few years older than her, and she did not see anyone she knew from Gryffindor. After a few minutes, the instructor entered the room, placing a pile of parchment on the front desk and waiting for the bell to sound before turning to address the students.
He was a tall and tough looking wizard, with very short, wiry grey hair and a stern expression. “Hello, class,” he said, and his voice quickly silenced all other voices in the room. “Welcome to your first class at the Auror Academy. I am Auror John Dawlish, and I will be instructing you in the History of Magical Law Enforcement. It is imperative that you understand where we are coming from, as a department, before you are able to continue further in your knowledge of where we are going. You have all made it to this point, so I will have the expectation that you are capable of handling the rigorous course of study that I have put together. If you cannot, I will ask you to leave and return only when you are able to do so.” He looked around the room quickly, scanning everyone’s faces. “Before we begin our material, I would like everyone to please introduce yourselves.” He took a seat at his desk and gestured for a man sitting in the front row to begin.
Ginny listened carefully as her new classmates introduced themselves, usually saying what they have been doing between finishing Hogwarts and starting at the Academy. From researching magical means of protection, to developing new potions, everyone seemed to have a much more impressive résumé than she did. By the time it was her turn, Ginny was feeling nervous again.
“Hello, I’m Ginny Weasley,” she said, balking slightly at the fact that all faces in the room were turned to look at her. “Last year I played on the reserve team for the Wanderers, and then I decided to come here.” Dawlish raised one eyebrow carefully, but did not look impressed. When the introductions finished, Dawlish nodded sharply and stood up.
“Very well, with the few remaining minutes of class, we will begin. This Academy was founded for the very reason of training young people like you into capable and loyal enforcers of the law. Many people begin this program, but not everyone will complete it. It was designed for that purpose, to weed out those who think they can handle this career, but cannot. Who can tell me when and by whom this program was founded?” He did not wait for a volunteer before choosing someone. “Miss Weasley?”
Ginny flinched. “Erm, it was founded sometime in the sixteenth century, right?” she answered, trying hard to remember the inscription on the wall in the lobby. If only Michael had not been distracting her.
“‘Sometime in the sixteenth century,’ is not precise enough, Miss Weasley,” Dawlish drawled. “I presume that you did the assigned reading?” he asked.
Ginny nodded. “Yes, but I can’t remember the exact year —”
“Well,” Dawlish interrupted her, “That is most unfortunate.” He turned away from her to survey the rest of the class. “Is there anyone here who is capable of providing me with this simple information?”
A woman in the second row raised her hand. She was very pretty, with long straight black hair fastened in place with a barrette and dark eyes. Ginny recognized her from Hogwarts — she was a few years older and played on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. Ginny had beaten her twice.
“Yes, Miss Chang?” Dawlish called on her.
“The Auror Academy was founded in 1735 by Minister Eldritch Diggory.” She sounded like she was reciting a textbook.
“Precisely,” Dawlish said, turning back to Ginny. A curly haired woman sitting next to Miss Chang leaned over and whispered something in her ear, and she giggled in response. Ginny grit her teeth. “Now tell me, Miss Weasley, why one of your classmates was able to provide me with that information, and you were not.”
“Do you not believe, that perhaps you are not ready for this class?” he interrupted her again. Ginny shook her head rapidly.
“No, I -”
“I would suggest,” Dawlish continued as if she had not even spoken, “that you leave now, and return only when you are prepared.”
Ginny froze in shock, before she felt anger flood her senses. She was ready to tell Dawlish what he could do with his facts and figures, but she could see that there was no arguing with him. She looked around at the faces of her classmates, who were all turned in their seats and were looking directly at her. Some of them sent her sympathetic grimaces, but said nothing. Quickly shoving her supplies back in her bag, Ginny stood up and walked to the front of the room, steadfastly avoiding anyone else’s glances. She had just reached the door when Dawlish called out to her.
“Not everything is a game of Quidditch, Miss Weasley,” he said, his voice icy. Ginny paused briefly at the door, but did not turn around. Then she left, slamming the door behind her.
Ginny threw her bag down on the bench in the corridor, taking vicious pleasure in the resounding crash that it made upon contact. She dropped down beside it, letting out a huge sigh, and leaned her head back against the wall. Ginny closed her eyes and squeezed them tight, trying to block out the sudden and uncomfortable urge to cry. Someone cleared their throat from across the hall.
“Erm… excuse me, are you alright?”
Ginny cracked one eye open to look at the speaker. A man was sitting on the bench across from her, fidgeting with a stack of parchment and peering at her with a look of concern on his face. Ginny sighed again before answering.
“Are they all like that? Do they really just kick you out of class because you don’t know the answer?”
“Oh, you had Dawlish?” he asked, a small smile blooming on his face.
“Yes!” Ginny exclaimed, brightening at having found someone who seemed to understand. “Did he do that to you too?”
The man chucked lightly. “No, but he did once make me so angry that I, uh, accidentally exploded all of the windows.” Ginny raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Purely accidental magic,” he continued, the slight smile still on his face. “But that’s just Dawlish. Agree with him on most things and you will be fine. Who else do you have?”
Ginny pushed herself off of the wall and sat forward, her elbows on her knees. “Tonks, Scrimgeour, and Moody,” she ticked the names off on her fingers as she said them. The man looked pensive before leaning forward and copying her stance.
“Tonks will try to be intimidating at first and convince you that she is so much better at Stealth and Concealment than everyone else, but that is only because she is a metamorphmagus. She really is a nice person. Scrimgeour is a git, but his exams are straight from the book so you should be fine with him. And Moody is a complete wild card — he’s crazy, but a legend. When he asks what the most important tool of an Auror is, tell him ‘constant vigilance.’ It will impress him.”
“Wow, thanks,” Ginny breathed, genuinely smiling for the first time that day. She took a closer look at the man who was smiling back at her. The sunlight beaming through the window behind her illuminated him, making him glow. He was hunched over leaning his elbows on his knees like she was, his long limbs seemingly folded in on themselves. He had a wild mess of black hair that fell into his eyes, which were a startlingly bright shade of green. A pair of round wire-framed spectacles were sliding down his nose, and his hand shot forward to push them up before they fell. Ginny felt a sudden jolt go through her at the look in his eyes, and her smile widened. “Are you a third year?” she asked, anxious to learn more about this man.
“Actually,” he began. “I’m —”
“Ginny!” a voice from the side interrupted him, and both he and Ginny jumped up, sitting straight and turning to look at the new arrival. Classes had just let out, and Michael was hurrying down the corridor towards her. Ginny felt her heart sink at the sight of him, and glanced at the man on the bench out of the corner of her eye. He was frowning slightly at Michael, but looked back at her with a smile.
“I have to be going anyway,” he said, gathering his parchment and standing. “It was nice meeting you.”
Ginny smiled at him, slowly rising as well. “You too,” she said. “Thanks for all of your help.”
She watched him as he walked down the hall and turned the corner before spinning around to talk to Michael. “Hello,” she drew the word out, wondering what he wanted from her now.
“Hey, Gin,” he gave her a funny look before continuing. “How was your first class?” He seemed nervous, fidgeting with the strap of his shoulder bag with one hand.
Still confused about why he was talking to her, Ginny took a moment before responding. “It was… alright.” She did not want to explain the circumstances of her class to Michael.
“Listen, Gin, I still can’t believe you are here.”
The skeptical look on Michael’s face made Ginny’s blood boil. “I know that you don’t think I am capable of —”
“There you are.”
For the second time in a few minutes, Ginny’s conversation was interrupted by the arrival of someone new. The woman from her class who had all the answers had come up behind Michael, smiling at him briefly before turning to look at Ginny with a scowl on her face. Ginny glared back, trying to keep her anger at bay before she accidentally exploded a window. Michael looked back and forth between the two women, seemingly trying to decide what to say, before he turned to address Ginny.
“You remember Cho, right?” he asked. “She was in Ravenclaw, the year above me.”
Ginny tore her eyes away from Cho Chang and looked at Michael. “Yes, but I didn’t know that the two of you were friends.”
“Actually,” Cho spoke up, her scowl transforming into a grin, “I’m his fiancée.” She slid her hand over Michael’s shoulder, giving Ginny a good view of the ring on her finger. Ginny’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“You see,” Michael said, seemingly desperate to explain, “We actually ran into each other again while I was in Canada and well… here we are.”
Ginny blinked at them for a moment before both of their words sank in. She turned sharply to Michael. “You’re engaged?” she asked, incredulous.
“Yeah,” he said, scuffing his toes along the stones on the ground. “Ginny, listen, you need to understand that-”
“Oh, I understand,” Ginny interrupted him. “I have somewhere to be.” With that, she turned on her heel and walked away from both of them, not looking back.
Ginny did not even pay attention to where she was walking, and came to an abrupt halt when she realized that her feet had carried her all the way to the indoor flying pitch. She looked around in wonder: there were many wizards and witches up on brooms, some just flying around, others tossing a quaffle back and forth. Two large structures of bleachers lined the wall closest to the entrance, where even more people sat — watching the flyers, talking, or eating lunch. The room barely resembled a room at all; rather, it looked like a large grassy hill, with a view of a forest to the right and a stream to the left. The sky was charmed to be perfectly overcast, and a slight breeze ruffled the grass underneath Ginny’s feet. The only indications that they were indoors were the blinking lights stopping anyone from flying into a wall, and the door behind Ginny. She let out a peaceful sigh, feeling more relaxed than she had all morning.
Spotting a small booth with a sign that read “Broom Rentals,” Ginny hurried over.
“I need a broom,” she said, skidding to a stop with her hands braced on the windowsill. The stooped old warlock looked alarmed at first, but slowly shrugged his shoulders and held his palms out.
“Sorry, lass,” he said. He gestured to the empty racks behind him. “Just rented out the last of them. You’ll need to wait until someone turns one in.”
Ginny let out a strangled yell that further alarmed the warlock, but she didn’t care. Instead, she stomped over to the bleachers and threw herself down next to a bushy haired woman who was reading a book. The force of her body hitting the seat caused the entire structure to shake, and the woman looked up from her book and at Ginny.
“Are you alright?” she asked. Annoyed that this was the second time in the past half hour that someone had to ask her that question, Ginny went to snap a response at the woman, but saw genuine concern in her eyes, and deflated.
“No,” Ginny answered shortly, hoping that the woman would leave her alone. She didn’t.
“Can I help you with anything?” she asked, marking her place in her book with a small slip of parchment and closing it. The woman was slender and wearing fitted, professional robes, with bushy brown hair. She turned her entire body so that she was facing Ginny, and Ginny found that she could not help but answer.
"This was such a bad idea," Ginny began, and suddenly everything came flooding out of her — she couldn't stop it if she tried. "I thought that I would do better at the Auror Academy than I was doing as a loser reserve Quidditch player but this has been the worst morning! I mean who kicks someone out of class because they don't know what year the damn academy was formed? And then Michael! Is engaged to her? They met up while he was in Canada… we were still together! I just -" Ginny's rant ended in another strangled yell and she let her head fall into her hands. The woman beside her pat her back awkwardly in what was meant to be a comforting manner.
"You are just having a bad morning," she said reassuringly. "Things will get better."
Ginny peaked up at her through her fingers. "Who are you? Little Miss Optimism?"
The woman laughed. "No, but I could hardly say 'you're right, everything is terrible and it will only get worse,' now could I?"
Ginny genuinely laughed at this and straightened up. "Thanks," she said, extending her hand towards the woman. "I'm Ginny Weasley. Sorry about the theatrics."
"Hermione Granger," she said, shaking Ginny's hand with a surprisingly strong grip.
"Alright, Hermione. How do I fix this?"
Hermione turned and looked out at the people flying about on their brooms, a thoughtful expression on her face. "Well, let's break it down, shall we? Clearly you are intelligent enough to get into the Academy, you should be proud of that. And I'm positive that you were not a loser Quidditch player if you were in fact picked up by a team. Also, this Michael sounds like he isn't worth your time." She turned back to look at Ginny. "And the Auror Academy was founded in 1735."
Ginny studied her carefully for a moment before responding. "Who are you?"
Hermione laughed again, sounding a little self-conscious. "I'm sorry, I'm just trying to help." She fidgeted with the cover of her book as if about to open it again.
"No!" Ginny all but shouted, getting the attention of a group of wizards in Magical Maintenance blue robes. She waved them away. "I didn't mean to offend you. I could use a friend," she said, cringing at her own honesty.
"Come to think of it, so could I," Hermione agreed.
Ginny smiled. She realized that by now there was probably a broom available but instead of leaving, she reached in her bag and removed a sandwich made from her mother's leftovers. "But enough about my problems," she said through a mouthful of corned beef. "What are you doing here?"
Hermione glanced quickly up at the brooms in the air before answering. "I work for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. But I like to come here on my lunch hour to relax."
"Do you fly?" Ginny asked.
Hermione shook her head, her curls flying around. "Oh no, I just like to watch."
Ginny hummed around another bite of food before another thought came to her. "It's strange I don't recognize you at all. You can't be that much older than me. What house were you in?"
"Oh, I don't go to Hogwarts." Hermione laughed at the look of wide-eyed shock on Ginny's face. "Everyone is so surprised when I say that. I'm muggleborn, and when I found out I was a witch, my parents did some research and found out about, well, the general climate towards my type in England." She looked carefully at Ginny, as if trying to determine her opinions on muggleborns.
"A bunch of bastard purebloods that think that way."
Hermione smiled, reassured. "Well, seeing as I have relatives in France, my parents thought Beauxbatons would be a better idea."
"Probably a wise choice overall, but it's too bad you had to miss out on Hogwarts." Ginny's attention was drawn to someone with a broom walking toward them and she called out to him. "Oi, Ron!"
Hermione turned at her call and looked at Ron, her face reddening immediately. Ginny sent her a puzzled look, but was unable to ask anything as Ron arrived in front of them. "Hey, Gin," he said, standing his broom upright and leaning against it. "How's your first day going?"
Ginny pulled a face. "Eh. Could be better." She glanced at Hermione. "Could be worse, right?" Hermione, however, was looking down at her book.
"Hermione, this is my brother, Ron. Ron, this is Hermione." Ron grinned widely and Hermione sent him a shy smile. Suddenly realizing what was going on, Ginny moved to leave, but Ron beat her to it.
"Just thought I would say hi, but I have to get back to work. Do you want this?" he asked Ginny, holding out his broom.
She shook her head. "I have class in a few minutes."
Ron shrugged. "Alright." He smiled at Hermione again. "It was nice meeting you."
Both women watched as Ron walked away, dropped off his broom and went to the door. He paused before leaving and waved before disappearing into the hall. Ginny spun around to face Hermione.
"Do you fancy Ron?" she whispered. Another thought struck her. "Do you come here to watch him?"
Hermione's red cheeks answered for her. She sniffed in a dignified manner and hugged her book to her chest. "I was going to ask you to join me for lunch tomorrow, but perhaps I should rethink that."
"No," Ginny moaned. "I won't tease you. I promise." She held one hand on her heart and the other up in the air. Hermione looked skeptical, but nodded in acceptance.
Her addition of "He is single, though!" earned her a death glare.
Fifteen minutes later, Ginny sat in the back of room 302, waiting for Auror Moody to come in and begin Dark Magic. She spent most of the time looking out the window at the snowstorm brewing beyond the glass. The good mood she was in after leaving the flying pitch was diminished when she discovered that both Michael and Cho were in this class with her. They sat together in the front of the room, whispering to one another.
Suddenly, someone came and sat down next to Ginny. She turned and observed the woman: she recognized her from Hogwarts but couldn’t remember her name. She had wavy light brown hair and a friendly smile. “Ginny Weasley, right?” she asked. Ginny nodded. “I’m Mandy Brocklehurst. I think its terrible what Dawlish did to you this morning.”
Ginny smiled. “Thanks, but I guess I deserved it for not knowing the answer.”
“Are you kidding me?” Mandy asked, digging through her bag before pulling out a wad of parchment and her wand. “If he had asked me, I would have been in the same position as you. To be honest, I think he is jealous that you can play Quidditch and he wouldn’t be able to get his crusty arse off the ground.”
Ginny burst out laughing just as Moody walked into the room, and was fortunately spared most of the class’s attention. When she finally calmed down she realized that Moody had not completely entered the room, but was standing in the doorway talking to the man she had spoken to earlier on the benches. As they finished their conversation, the man looked into the room and made eye contact with her, flashing her a quick smile and a wave. Ginny waved back, feeling a jolt of excitement go through her and a rapid improvement in her mood.
Moody stomped to the front desk, his wild blue eye taking everyone in, and slammed his fist down on the table. “Constant vigilance!” he barked.
The class jumped, but Ginny just smiled.
At the end of the day, Ginny paused on her way out of the ministry, again looking up into the face of the gold witch at the Fountain of Magical Brethren. She reached deep into her bag and pulled out a handful of coins, watching with satisfaction as they breached the surface of the water.
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