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SIYE Time:14:25 on 19th October 2017


Like Flames
By DragonHeartstring

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Other, Ron Weasley
Genres: Comedy, Fluff, General, Romance
Warnings: Death
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 70
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: 12965; Chapter Total: 1505
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
We're halfway through this story! I actually really like the scene in the middle of this chapter, so let me know what you think!! :)




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“What is the harshest punishment that a criminal can receive?”

Ginny paced around the sitting room of her tiny flat as she answered. “Life imprisonment in Azkaban is the usual punishment, with the Dementor’s Kiss reserved as the sentence for any criminal who is deemed too dangerous to keep mentally aware.”

Hermione consulted Ginny’s notes before nodding and asking her next question. “Prior to the Dementor’s Kiss, what was the ministry’s harshest punishment?” Ginny took a second to think about it before answering.

“They used the death potion. A pool was filled with the poisonous potion, and the condemned prisoner was lured into it by use of their happy memories, which attracted them to it in a trancelike state. In 1934, the International Confederation of Wizards deemed the use of the death potion too inhumane, and decreed that all nations who used that method must decide on a new one. Our ministry decided that life imprisonment was enough, but had the exception of the Dementor’s Kiss for extreme cases.”

“Yes!” Hermione exclaimed. It was Friday evening, and Hermione had agreed to come over and help Ginny study for her exam in Dawlish’s class. After a few hours of reviewing, Ginny finally felt like she was remembering the material. Most of it was boring dates and names, which is why Ginny knew that she needed help if she was going to be able to learn this properly.

Ginny flopped into the armchair by the fireplace, her legs swinging over one of the arms. “Can we please take a break?” she pleaded, looking longingly towards the kitchen, where Hermione had left bags of takeaway Chinese food that she had brought over for dinner.

“No, Ginny.” Hermione gave her a stern look. “If you want to prove yourself and your intelligence, you need to be able to recite this to me in your sleep. Now, tell me about the role the Auror Office played in the War of 1644.

Ginny let out a deep sigh before beginning. “The war started in Eastern Europe, as a clash between two different nomadic magical clans. The British Ministry stayed out of it until their ambassador was attacked by a horde of giants who were being used by —”

Her description was interrupted by the floo flaring to life, from which her brother Ron emerged.

“Hey, Gin, I wanted to ask you-” he stopped talking abruptly when he noticed Hermione sitting on the couch, surrounded by parchment. “Hello, Hermione,” he said, his voice significantly lower. Ginny tried hard not to laugh. “I didn’t know you were here.”

Hermione smiled, her cheeks slightly pinker than usual. “Hello, Ron,” she said softly, looking at him briefly before looking down at Ginny’s notes, carefully stacking them into a pile. Ron turned to Ginny with a bewildered look on his face.

Ask her out! Ginny mouthed at him. Ron’s eyes grew wide and he shook his head frantically. Ginny sighed audibly.

“I, erm, I just came to ask you if you wanted to come with me to the Harpies/Cannon game with me this weekend. My boss gave me tickets.” Ron worked for the Department of Magical Games and Sports, and he often received complimentary Quidditch tickets. Even though she would love to go to the game, Ginny looked incredulously at Ron.

Hermione still was looking down at the stack of parchment in her lap, so she felt safe to mouth to him again. ASK HERMIONE TO GO! Ron looked nervous, so Ginny rolled her eyes and took matters into her own hands.

“I would love to go with you, Ron, but I have a rather nasty exam on Monday and I just need to spend all of my time studying.” She gave an overdramatic pout before pulling a pensive face. “Wait, I have an idea!” She sat up straight in her chair and turned toward Hermione. “Hermione, you don’t have plans this weekend, do you?” She paused just enough to watch Hermione look up in alarm before continuing. “Why don’t you go with Ron?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes and glared at her, but her expression softened when she turned to Ron. “I would love to,” she answered softly. “That is, if you would want me to come.”

Ron nodded emphatically. “Yes! I mean… I’d love that… I mean, that would be great.” He grinned widely.

Ginny watched with a smile as they arranged for Ron to pick Hermione up at her flat the next day, before Ron stumbled back to the fireplace and disappeared in a rush of green flames. Hermione spun around to face Ginny.

“I can not believe you just did that!”

“You didn’t have to say yes,” Ginny answered, getting up and walking to the kitchen. She started removing the cartons of food from the plastic bags Hermione had brought.

Hermione joined her in the kitchen. “I didn’t say I don’t want to go, I just said I can’t believe you did that.” Ginny laughed. “You really are pushy, you know that?”

“Yeah, I am.” Ginny opened a carton of lo mein and slid a pair of chopsticks out of their paper sheath.

“If you are so pushy, why aren’t you with Harry already?” Hermione asked. Ginny glared at her, but she just smirked back, popping a dumpling in her mouth.

“I’m not going to push Harry,” Ginny said slowly, chewing her noodles thoughtfully. “I think he is really cautious because of my history with Michael. He keeps bringing him up randomly to see how I react. Honestly, it’s kind of endearing.”

Hermione looked at her skeptically for a moment before nodding in acceptance of her answer. She summoned the stack of parchment from the couch. “You were in the middle of the War of 1644. Start with the giants.” Ginny groaned.

~~~


The crack of Moody’s walking cane against the stone floor immediately silenced the chatter throughout the classroom. He stomped over to the front desk, his magic eye turned around facing the back of his head, making it appear completely white. Harry slid in the door behind him, closing it softly and drifting towards the back of the room. Ginny waved to him, and he smiled in acknowledgement.

“The Imperious Curse,” Moody growled, drawing Ginny’s attention back to him. “As you all know, this is one of the three Unforgivable Curses. While it is against the law to cast any of these curses on another wizard, Aurors are granted permission to use such force only when absolutely necessary. Therefore, you will all be expected to be able to perform all three Unforgivable Curses by the end of your first year qualifying exams. Equally important is your ability to resist these curses. It is impossible to block any of them: no shield charm has been invented that has enough magical power to resist the force of an Unforgivable. Therefore, nothing more than wits and agility will help you avoid the Killing or Cruciatus Curses. The Imperious Curse is a different story.” Moody paused for a moment, and both of his eyes roamed the class, focusing on each student in turn.

“Resisting the Imperious Curse requires a certain amount of mental fortitude. I will not pretend to believe that all of you possess this. But you must learn, and there are things that I can teach you — tips and ticks, you may say — that will help you to achieve this.” His regular eye looked down at the class roster before him, but his magical eye continued roaming the class.

“Today, I will place you all under the Imperious Curse,” he stated, causing murmurs to break out across the room. “If you would rather not, I suggest you leave.” The murmurs stopped.

"As I was saying, I will place each of you, individually, under the curse, and you will attempt to resist my commands. I do not expect anyone to succeed on the first try, but I would like you to defy my expectations."

The class had grown deathly silent. Ginny exchanged a worried glance with Mandy, and then looked over her head at Harry, who was standing in the opposite corner. He smiled reassuringly, and she felt herself relax somewhat.

Moody began going down the list alphabetically, and Ginny watched as her classmates did remarkable and ridiculous things. Mandy completed a series of spectacular somersaults that Ginny was quite sure she was incapable of normally. Cho performed a rather elaborate and lengthy stepdance across the room.

Harry had come to stand next to Ginny by the time Michael was crawling around the room on all fours. "Seems appropriate," he commented, crossing his arms and leaning against the window. Ginny was already laughing along with the rest of the class, and didn't have to try to cover up her amusement.

"Let me guess," she said, turning toward Harry, "you are so good at it that you feel you can make fun of everyone's struggles?"

"Not to brag, but," he lowered his voice and puffed out his chest, "I did overthrow it on my first try. And I would never make fun of everyone, I just happen to think that him acting like a baby is appropriate."

Harry remained next to her while the rest of the class all took their turns. By the time Moody called out "Weasley!" no one had been able to resist the curse and Ginny's nerves had returned full force. She avoided Harry's eyes as she walked to the spot by the door where everyone started. She barely had a moment to prepare herself before Moody cast his curse. "Imperio!"

Ginny's mind went blissfully blank, all her worries about embarrassing herself in front of the class and not being good enough washed right away. She felt completely at peace, thoughtless and mindless, like she was floating in the clouds. Moody's voice growled softly from the emptiness. "Climb on the desk."

The idea sounded good, and Ginny started forward, wondering why she had not realized earlier that climbing on the desk was a great idea. Suddenly, another voice came like a whisper, one that was unwelcome and all too familiar. "That's right, Ginevra, you don't have to think at all."

Ginny froze, her hands pressed against the side of the desk. She still felt thoughtless, but her heart was pounding in her chest. The whispering voice continued. "I'll tell you what to do, Ginevra, you just follow along."

Moody's voice sounded again, more insistent. "Climb on the desk!"

A third voice chimed in, this one sounding reassuringly like herself. "He doesn't have control anymore, Ginny," it told her. "You're stronger than that." She could feel other thoughts coming back and her pulse was pounding in her temples.

"Climb on the desk!"

"Just do what I say, Ginevra!"

"No!"

Ginny didn't realize that the last word did not come from the voice in her head, but out of her own mouth. She felt a rush in her head as the clouds cleared, and a burn in her hands where she had forcefully pushed the desk away. Her eyes had been tightly shut, and Ginny slowly opened them as she stood panting as if she had just finished a Quidditch match.

The class was looking at her in shock, but Harry was beaming. She turned toward Moody, who looked pleased. "Look there everyone, Weasley did it!" The class cheered, but Ginny barely heard it. Tom's voice was still echoing in her mind, and her head was throbbing. "If you looked in her eyes, you could tell she was fighting it. A few more tries, Weasley, and you will be able to throw it off before you even start to move."

"Again?" Ginny asked weakly, but Moody didn't hear her. Fortunately, the bell rang before he had a chance to cast the curse.

"We'll pick up here next time," Moody said by way of dismissal, and limped out of the room. Ginny slowly made her way back to her seat, listening half-heartedly to the congratulations from her classmates, her mind elsewhere.

As she slowly packed up her things, the class filtered out, until only she and Harry remained in the room.

"Are you alright?" he asked, his voice low.

Ginny turned and looked out the window, contemplating her answer. The enchanted sky earlier in the day had shown threatening storm clouds, but now there was just a dazzling sunset on the horizon. The entire color spectrum was on display, with the burning orange sun the focal point, and the rich navy already trickling in towards the east. If she tried really hard, Ginny could make out the North Star.

"No," she answered eventually. "But I will be."

She turned away from the window to face Harry, the light reflecting on his glasses making it difficult to read his eyes. "I could hear Tom in my head, telling me not to think and let him take control." Harry didn't say anything. "And I almost listened again. But I'm not eleven years old anymore, and no one will ever control my mind again. I'm not that weak," she finished, her voice determined.

Harry reached forward and wrapped his arms around her, and Ginny leaned into his hug. "No, you certainly aren't," he spoke into her hair.

Ginny felt the tension leave her body, confident in her knowledge that she was able to protect herself. She slowly pulled away from Harry and looked up at him. "Thank you," she whispered. He looked at her seriously, his eyes blazing, and Ginny shivered with anticipation.

"Do you want ice cream?"

His question surprised her. "What?"

"Florean Fortescue makes the best sundaes." He leaned down and picked up her bag, draping the strap over his shoulder.

"It's November," she reminded him. "It's cold out."

"So we can put hot fudge on them. Come on." He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room.

~~~


The next Dark Magic class began with Moody placing Ginny under the Imperious Curse three consecutive times before she was able to throw it off almost immediately. He seemed pleased with her ability, and she was glad she could be rid of the mindlessness before Tom's voice had a chance to return. For the remainder of the class, she sat and watched the rest of the students attempt to do the same, most of them failing. She was disappointed that Harry was not there to keep her company, but she had to remember he had his own job and could not spend all of his time in her class.

When the bell rang and Moody dismissed them, he called for a few of them. "Chang, Corner, Weasley. A minute."

Slightly worried about why she was part of that group, Ginny bid goodbye to Mandy and approached Moody's desk. Michael and Cho stood together on the other side. Moody waited until the rest of the class had left before addressing them. "This doesn't happen often, but I need some extra help on some of my cases, and I want you three. You don't have class tomorrow, correct?" All three of them shook their heads. "Good, come to the Auror Office tomorrow morning at 8, and I'll fill you in." On that note, he stomped out of the room.

Cho turned to Michael with a grin. “Do you realize what a great honor this is?” she asked. “Moody is the most respected man in the Auror Department, and he thinks we are the best!”

“Yeah, amazing,” Michael agreed, his voice flat. “Who would have thought, eh, Ginny?”

“You’re right, Michael,” Ginny said after a moment. “This must mean a lot to you, especially after that disastrous N.E.W.T. in Defense Against the Dark Arts.” Michael’s eyes narrowed, but Cho looked like she was biting her cheek in an attempt to keep from saying anything — or possibly from laughing. Instead of entertaining either of them, Ginny turned on her heel and left the classroom, waiting until she was halfway down the corridor before breaking into a wide grin and letting out an excited squeal.
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