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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: 12966; Chapter Total: 1468
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
posting at midnight because i forgot it was saturday :))))




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Ginny walked into the ministry the next morning a half hour early, wearing professional black robes and a determined expression. The lift deposited her at the entrance of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and she walked down the short corridor to the Auror Office. She stopped in the doorway and surveyed the scene before her.

She had never before visited the Auror Office, and she wanted to take some time to observe what was going to be her future place of employment. It was not exactly what she was expecting; rather it was a mess of cubicles, cluttered and stuffed to the brim with parchments and books and photographs. It seemed like each Auror had made an effort to personalize their cubicle, and therefore the entire office screamed in a series of clashing colors — the moving figures of Quidditch players on the posters adorning some of the walls added to the confusion and created a slight dizzying effect.

Scanning the heads of the Aurors at their desks, Ginny tried to find Harry’s shock of messy black hair, but was unable to. She was disappointed — she had not had a chance to tell him about her new position and wanted to surprise him before meeting Moody. She reluctantly asked the nearest Auror where she could find Auror Moody, and he pointed her to a large conference room off of the main floor. Upon entering, she saw that Michael, Cho, and Moody were already inside, and she took a seat at the oblong table opposite of her two classmates. Moody was pacing the floor next to a window displaying an overcast and stormy sky. He paused for a moment to acknowledge her.

“Good, you’re here, Weasley.” He nodded, his magical eye looking over Ginny’s head and through the wall behind her. “We are just waiting on one more person, and then I can tell you all why you are here.” Moody resumed his pacing, the alternating clatter of his wooden leg the only sound in the room. Ginny looked down into her lap, sensing that Michael was trying to catch her eye and reluctant to give him the opportunity to do so.

After a few minutes of silence, the door opened and the person they were waiting for entered. Ginny glanced up quickly to see Harry ducking in, one hand reaching up to flatten his hair. “Sorry I’m late, I was…” He trailed off as he looked around the room, his eyes landing on Ginny. He grinned at her in excitement, and slid into the seat next to her.

Moody did not appear concerned by his lack of a proper explanation of his tardiness. “Everyone, this is Harry Potter. You may have noticed him lurking around class sometimes, he likes to help me out.” Ginny nudged Harry under the table, she could see he was trying to hide his laughter. “Potter, this is Weasley, Chang, and Corner. I asked them to join me and help with a particularly interesting case.”

He came to a halt at the head of the table, throwing a parchment file onto the surface. A photograph slid out and landed in front of Ginny. She looked down, shocked that she recognized the man pictured. “Parkin?”

“That’s correct, Miss Weasley. This is Boyd Parkin. You may have read in the newspaper that he died yesterday.” He slid the photo further into the center of the table. Parkin blinked up at the ceiling. “We will be investigating it.”

“What?” Ginny asked in shock. “You think that his death is suspicious? He has been sick for years now.”

Moody turned to Ginny, both of his eyes focused on her. “How do you know so much about this, Weasley?” he asked.

“Parkin owns the Wanderers, and I was on their reserve team all of last year,” she answered, slightly defensive. Moody looked at her intensely for a few moments.

“Interesting, and might come in handy,” he finally said, turning away from her to look at his file of information. His bright blue magical eye remained resting on her face.

“Miss Weasley is correct in her statement that Parkin has been sick for years, but it was not an extended case of spattergroit as was reported. Rather it seems he was being poisoned for years. Post-mortem tests show that he was ingesting low doses of a slow acting poison. Someone wanted to kill him, and we want to know why.” He tossed some of the sheets of parchment into the center of the table for them to pursue.

“Chang, I want you to start looking into financial information, see if there was any sort of blackmail. Strange balances being removed or added to his Gringott’s account.” Cho nodded. Moody summoned a large stack of parchment folders from the other side of the room. They came to rest on the table in front of Michael. “Corner, these are files on all of Parkin’s known associates. I want you to learn about them, and see if there is anything suspicious there.” He turned to Ginny. “Weasley, I had something else in mind for you, but this will be better; look into the Quidditch angle. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that ownership of the Wanderers has been passed down in the Parkin family for ages, no?”

“The team was founded by a Parkin in the 15th century,” Ginny responded.

“Exactly. It’s not common, but people have been murdered over professional Quidditch before. If there is anything we should know, find it.” Moody looked at Harry. “Potter, go to St. Mungo’s will you? Ask your friend for more information about the poison. They won’t tell me, but surely you can find out more.” Harry nodded absentmindedly, his attention focused on some of the parchment in front of him.

Ginny thought of something important, and cautiously pulled Moody’s attention back to her. “Sir, Parkin’s funeral is this weekend, and I received an invitation. Do you want me to go, and see if I can find out anything?”

Moody’s magical eye fixed on her again, making Ginny slightly uncomfortable. “Yes,” he said after a significant pause. “Potter, go with her.” Harry looked up sharply from his reading, before nodding and turning to Ginny with a smile. “But keep in mind,” Moody continued talking, and both Harry and Ginny turned their attention to him, “that we do not want any information getting out about our investigation. We haven’t told the press that there is evidence of poisoning, and we have no intention of doing so until we have concrete information. So go, but as a Quidditch player, not as an Auror. Do you understand?” He waited for Ginny’s affirmative answer before leaving them alone in the conference room, each with their own task to do.

~~~


The morning of the funeral, Ginny stood in front of her mirror, waiting for Harry to come and pick her up. The invitation had indicated that it was a formal ceremony, and therefore traditional mourning robes were required. She had to purchase a set, as she had never before had a need for mourning robes, and they were large and bulky, but surprisingly flattering. The body contained a fitted corset but a large and heavy bustle, and a thick cloak that Ginny was grateful for because of the cold weather. Ginny adjusted her wide-brimmed veiled black hat, her reflection blurred by the thick lace hanging over her eyes. She pulled the veil up and behind her, so that it draped down her back, covering her bright red mane of hair instead of her face.

Her research for Moody that week had not resulted in any evidence; and she could not see any reason why someone would want to slowly poison Parkin because of a Quidditch rivalry. The Wanderers ended the previous season the last in the league, and they were not performing very well at the beginning of the new one either. That seemed to be more so because of Parkin’s grandson’s lack of talent as a chaser than any sort of murderous rivalry.

Cho had not found anything strange in his bank accounts, and Michael was still sorting through information about his known associates, but nothing had appeared. Harry had spoken with his friend at St. Mungo’s — Horace Slughorn, his mother’s old potions professor and a close friend of his grandfather — who had said that the poison was rare and not one that could be found in a local apothecary, but needed to be brewed with particular care and rare ingredients. The fact that it was most likely home brewed was not helpful as they could not track the purchase, and did not know where the ingredients were purchased.

Ginny was hoping that they would be able to hear something at the funeral, because otherwise it seemed like their investigation was over before it began. She heard a knock on the front door but she did not move, instead listening as Luna answered. Soft sounds of a conversation drifted into her room, but she could not distinguish any words. She hesitated another moment before leaving her room, wanting to give Harry a chance to meet Luna and form an opinion of her.

She exited her room, the tail of her dress trailing along on the ground behind her. Harry and Luna stood in the kitchen, and based on her hand motions it appeared as if she was explaining to him about wrackspurts. Harry followed along with a puzzled but attentive expression. He was wearing a set of mourning robes that were almost indistinguishable from regular black robes.

“Why is it,” Ginny asked as she walked towards them, “that men’s mourning robes look normal but I look like I just stepped out of one of Mum’s tawdry Elizabethan romance novels?”

Harry grinned and raised an eyebrow as he looked her over. “I happen to think you look wonderful, even in mourning robes.” Ginny blushed, but didn’t comment.

“Come on, we don’t want to be late.” They both bid goodbye to Luna, and walked out of the front door. Ginny grabbed hold of Harry’s hand and apparated them both to Wigtown.

It was cold and misty when they arrived in the southern Scottish town, and a crowd of mourners was queuing to find seats for the service. It was being held in an open area right outside of the Wanderer’s stadium, and Ginny felt a slight nostalgic tug when she looked out over the flags of the stadium. Turning aside, she showed her invitation to the guard she recognized from her time with the team, and led Harry over to the seats.

They had purposefully planned to arrive just as the service was scheduled to start, so they would not have to worry about speaking to anyone before it began, and just after. They chose seats close to the back, and after a moment an old warlock in a large ceremonial robe motioned for silence. Ginny took a moment as everyone settled down to look around. A large tent had been erected around the seats, with blood red hangings embossed with an image of a silver meat cleaver. Harry leaned towards her. “Isn’t that a little tasteless for a funeral?” he whispered.

“It’s the Wanderer’s symbol,” she breathed back, “I don’t think the Parkins own anything without it.”

“But still,” Harry grumbled, just as the man in the front began speaking. Ginny listened for the first few moments, but her attention started to wander as he spoke about how great of a man Boyd Parkin was. She had only ever met him one time, at the first game of the one season she played with the team, and he had seemed nice, if a little standoffish.

Ginny looked out over the crowd, spying Boyd’s widow, Isobel, at the front of the crowd, crying softly into a handkerchief. Seated next to her was her grandson, and Ginny’s former teammate, Angus Parkin. He was staring resolutely ahead of him, not even looking at the speaker. Off to the right, Ginny spotted other members of the starting team, and behind them most of the reserves. She saw Cassia, and made a note to remember to talk to her first as soon as the service ended. Ginny recognized other important figures in the crowd — many from other Quidditch teams as well as political figures and members of some of the older wizarding families.

As the warlock continued rattling on about Boyd, Ginny turned her attention to Harry. He was sitting up straight, listening intently to what was being said, and probably trying to puzzle out who wanted to kill the owner of a Quidditch team. She only just realized that she was still holding tight onto his hand, but she made no movement to let go. Instead, she sat and studied his face — the long line of his nose and his high cheekbones, his strong jaw. She longed to reach out and run her hands through his messy mop of hair, but resisted the urge. A funeral was not the best place for that. Sensing her gaze on him, Harry squeezed her hand, repositioning his grip so that their fingers were laced together. Ginny smiled and turned her attention to the front, trying to focus on what was being said.

After the warlock finished speaking, Angus stood and made a speech about the greatness of his grandfather, and the greatness of the Parkin legacy. It was a passionate and rousing speech, but there was no expression in Angus’s eyes. Ginny felt bad for all the times she complained about him, seeing as how he was clearly struggling with this loss.

Angus’s speech was short, and after he finished there was a sharp thud and the coffin at the front changed from solid black to blood red. This was apparently the signal for the end of the ceremony, and the guests at the front started to stand up. Ginny turned to Harry.

“What do you think?”

He sighed, running his free hand over his face. “Pretty standard procedure for a funeral, if an odd choice of decorations. Nothing interesting to hear in the speeches, and I didn’t notice anyone who looks suspicious, did you?”

“No,” Ginny confirmed. “But do you really think the —” she lowered her voice, “— murderer would come to the funeral?”

Harry shrugged. “It depends on their motives.” He didn’t elaborate. “Who do you want to talk to first?” He was clearly waiting for her to lead, and she was about to answer when she heard someone squeal her name.

“Ginny!”

Ginny and Harry looked up to see Cassia rushing over towards them, and Ginny stood just in time to receive Cassia’s hug. Harry stood as well, but reluctantly let go of her hand. “I’m so glad you are here, it’s been so long since I saw you,” Cassia gushed before turning to Harry. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, I’m Harry, I’m…” he trailed off, unsure how to introduce himself. Ginny’s mind whirled, trying to think of an excuse of why she had brought an Auror to the funeral. She said the only thing on her mind.

“He’s my boyfriend.” Harry’s eyes widened slightly, but he didn’t show any other signs that this was not the complete truth. Instead, he slid his arm to rest comfortably around Ginny’s shoulders. Cassia looked between the two of them, smiling at Harry and glaring at Ginny, and she knew that Cassia would be mad that she hadn’t told her in advance.

“How has everything been here?” she asked in an attempt to head off questions about her relationship with Harry.

Cassia sighed. “Horrible. Everyone’s been in a stupor over Parkin, and the playing has gotten even worse, if that’s possible.”

“Did anyone say anything about how Parkin died?” Ginny asked. She cringed at how direct the question was, but didn’t know how else to ask.

Cassia didn’t seem to notice anything strange about it. “Yeah, I mean, who dies of spattergroit anymore? It’s crazy, isn’t it? Angus’s been going on about starting a fundraiser to do research, but I don’t know.”

“How has he been?”

“Devastated, really. Honestly I was surprised, I didn’t realize they were that close, but I guess that’s just what happens. But tell me about you, how’s everything?”

“Oh, great,” Ginny said. “Listen, Cassia, maybe we can get together this weekend and talk. But first we need to go and pay our respects to Mrs. Parkin.” Cassia agreed and wandered off to find the rest of the team, and Ginny turned to Harry. “I think we should go talk to Mrs. Parkin, and see if she says anything. I mean we can’t say much while we are here, but maybe we can get a feel of what she is going through.”

“Maybe,” Harry said in agreement. He grinned at her. “Boyfriend, eh?”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Oh, shut up. Moody told me not to say we were Aurors and I needed an excuse.”

Harry held up his hands in surrender. “You don’t hear me complaining, do you? I will say, this is some crappy first date, though.” Ginny started walking down the aisle towards the crowd around Mrs. Parkin.

“You call this a date?”

“No,” Harry agreed as they inched forward. “But I’ll call it a date if you agree to dinner later.”

Ginny bit her lip to keep from grinning at the hopeful expression on his face. “I’d love to, Harry,” she said, completely sincere. They didn’t speak again as they waited on line to give their condolences to Mrs. Parkin, but occasionally looked at one another and grinned.

They finally reached the front. Isobel Parkin had remained in her seat at the front of the tent. If Ginny thought her mourning robes were ridiculously large and cumbersome, it was nothing compared to Mrs. Parkin’s. The skirt of her robes had a built in hoop, and it surrounded her chair in a three-foot circumference, making it impossible to completely approach her. A veil covered her face and trailed on the floor.

“Mrs. Parkin, I’m so sorry for your loss,” Ginny began.

Mrs. Parkin nodded. “Thank you, Miss Weasley. It is good to see you again, my dear.” Ginny started, shocked that this woman had remembered her. “It was such a pity when we lost you as a player.”

“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Parkin. I hadn’t realized that you…”

“Yes,” Mrs. Parkin interrupted her. “Many people don’t. My husband was very devoted to this team, and after a while I came to feel like it was a part of me as well. I would love it if you would come around some time, and we could talk.”

“Of course, Mrs. Parkin, I would love to,” Ginny responded. Mrs. Parkin nodded, and knowing she was dismissed, Ginny shuffled to the side as the next person started talking to Mrs. Parkin. Ginny turned to Harry in shock. “Can you believe she remembers me?”

Harry was preoccupied. “She doesn’t seem too upset by her husband’s death. Do you think she had anything to do with it?”

“Seriously?” Ginny asked. “Of course not! She is an older woman, whose husband has been ‘sick’ for years. She is upset but she is not in shock.”

“I suppose…”

“Ginny!”

Both of them turned to find Angus Parkin standing behind them, his arms open wide. “I’m so glad you could come.”

Ginny fought down all of her ill feelings toward the man and answered him with honest sympathy. “Angus, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Yes, yes, we did terribly in that match against the Tornadoes, but I think we are picking up…” he trailed off at the look of shock on Ginny and Harry’s faces. “Oh, you mean Grandfather. Yes, it’s terrible, isn’t it? Grandfather was always there for me after my parents died, and now… well… it’s even worse. Grandmother alone, struggling. I don’t know what we are going to do.”

“Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help,” Ginny said.

“Thank you. You should come to our next game, Ginny. It’s been a while. I’ll be sure to send you tickets.” A man came up behind him and clapped a hand on his shoulder, and Angus turned to talk to him.

Harry turned to Ginny. “Strange family. Let’s ask around, see what we can discover.”

“Sure,” Ginny said. “But then I believe you are buying me dinner.”
~~~


Two hours later, Ginny discovered that it was rather difficult to open her front door with her back pressed up against it and using only one wandering hand. This information was not discouraging, however, because her other hand was buried deep in Harry’s hair, and her lips were fused to his. Her drifting hand finally found the doorknob and twisted it, and they stumbled together through the doorway, still kissing furiously.

“Harry,” she whimpered as he slowly started dragging his lips down her neck, his hands fumbling to pull her closer despite the ridiculous bustle on her formal mourning robes. Harry hummed in answer, but did not pull away. Instead, he found a particularly sensitive spot by her ear and latched on.

Ginny dragged him backwards through the dark flat until she felt the back of her legs hit the arm of the couch. She had just fallen back, Harry above her, when she felt something alive and fleshy beneath her and screamed.

Another scream came from underneath her, and in a tangle of limbs and robes, they all tumbled off of the couch and onto the floor. Ginny shielded her eyes from the bright lights that burst to life all around her. Looking up, she saw that Harry had sprung up from the floor, looking adorably disheveled but fully alert, his wand extended in front of him. She turned to look at what she had crashed into and found Luna, completely naked, sprawled on the floor beside her.

“Luna!” she exclaimed, looking into her roommates wide eyes before looking back at Harry, who seemed to have determined there was no immediate threat and was attempting to look everywhere else except at Luna. “What are you doing?”

“Right now?” Luna asked. “Lying on the floor. Before that, sitting on the couch.” Ginny sighed from her position on the floor, and Harry extended his hand to help her up. She grabbed hold and he hoisted her off the floor, and he kept his hand wrapped around hers even after she stood. She smiled at him briefly and he smiled back, before whispering to her.

“Why is she naked?” he asked, his voice low in her ear. Ginny shivered.

“Luna,” she called to her friend who was slowly climbing up onto the couch. “Could you cover up some, you are making Harry uncomfortable.”

“I’m not uncomfortable,” Harry insisted, clearly uncomfortable. Luna repositioned herself on the couch, her legs folded like a pretzel, and looked intently at Harry, who in turn looked over her head at the Wanderers team photo on the wall.

“I can see that,” she said. “He won’t look at me. I wonder what it is about the human body that upsets him.”

“I’m trying to be polite,” Harry muttered under his breath. Ginny squeezed his hand.

“Quite curious,” Luna continued as if Harry had not spoken, her eyes still fixed on his face, “especially seeing how you two were clearly planning to have sex.” Harry spluttered in response, but Luna continued. “An aversion to the naked body surely wouldn’t bode well in that situation.”

Harry turned to Ginny, his eyes wide with worry behind his glasses, but she was doubled over in silent laughter. “I wasn’t planning… that is I wasn’t thinking of… well of course I’ve been thinking of… but not necessarily tonight…” he trailed off, sounding increasingly worried. Ginny regained her composure enough to reach up and press a kiss to his cheek.

“I know,” she murmured in his ear.

Luna continued talking as though their interaction had not taken place. “Weren’t you two at a funeral?”

Seemingly resigned to the fact that Luna was not going to put on clothes, Harry sat heavily in the armchair by the fireplace and stared into the empty grate. Ginny perched on the arm of the chair, her hand still intertwined with his. “Yes, we were, and then we went out to dinner,” she answered. “What were you doing, naked on the couch in the dark?” she asked lightly.

“I was doing a prayer for a peaceful path to the afterlife for Parkin,” Luna answered as if this was obvious. She rolled her head and looked up at the ceiling. “This is the best time of night to do it.”

“Ah,” Ginny acknowledged, exchanging an amused glance with Harry. Harry stood and cleared his throat.

“I should get going anyway,” he said, and Ginny stood up with him.

Luna pivoted her head around to watch as they approached the door. “Don’t let me interrupt your plans. Although I will say that coitus in the same dwelling as a prayer for a peaceful path to the afterlife could result in disastrous side effects.” Harry tripped over his shoes in his haste to reach the door.

Ginny pulled Harry to a stop before he could leave. “Sorry about that,” she said, her voice low so that they would not be overheard. Luna, however, had resumed her position looking at the ceiling and had started humming melodically. “Luna can be…” she searched around for the right word, “…eccentric.”

“I could see that,” Harry agreed. “Not that I was looking,” he hastily added, patting his hair in an attempt to flatten it. Ginny giggled. “What?” he asked.

Ginny reached up and knocked his hand aside, ruffling his hair until it was properly messy again. “You’re adorable when you are flustered.” She pulled him down for one final kiss. He moved to wrap his arms around her waist, but she put one hand on his chest and pushed him away. “Go,” she whispered, leaning her forehead against his. “Before we disrupt Parkin’s path to a peaceful afterlife.”

Harry chucked and pecked her briefly on the lips. “See you tomorrow,” he said, opening the door. Ginny waved him off before closing the door and leaning hard against it, letting out a deep sigh. She stayed there for a moment before pushing herself up and heading to the loo for a cold shower.
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