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SIYE Time:11:49 on 21st August 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: 69
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: 11238; Chapter Total: 1256
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
This chapter starts with a bit of a time jump - I skipped over December and went directly to the start of the new year.




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Ginny crouched behind a low wall, her wand at the ready and her eyes alert. A flash of red light on the other side indicated that someone had been discovered, but she didn't know if it was someone on her side or on the enemy side.

"Expelliarmus!"

Red light flashed again, and Ginny heard the muffled groan that meant someone had been captured. A bell clanged, and she glanced up at the tally floating a foot below the ceiling. The large blue number flashed 5, and the yellow number changed to 2. Ginny cursed under her breath, there was only one person left standing with her on her team.

As a treat for their first class back in January, their Stealth and Tracking classroom had been completely transformed into an obstacle course of sorts, and the class had been divided into two teams. The objective Scrimgeour had given them was to hide within the room, taking out members of the opposing team until only members of one remained. The room was lined with a series of low walls, as well as a copse of trees and a small ramshackle wooden hut.

Ginny looked down at the yellow mesh that she wore over her robes. It was not the best to wear if she wanted to remain hidden, but it was important that they were all able to immediately identify a teammate from an enemy.

A slight movement from behind one of the trees caught Ginny's attention, and she twisted her body to face it, her back against the wall and her wand raised in front of her. Cho peeked out from behind a branch, her long black ponytail swinging, and pointed her wand out. Ginny spotted the yellow mesh on her outfit and stopped herself from casting a spell at the last second. She pinched her own yellow indicator between her thumb and index finger, showing Cho that they were on the same team. Cho nodded in understanding.

Ginny glanced up at the tally above them, realizing that she and Cho were the only ones on their team who were still active.

Cho signaled to Ginny to cover her, and Ginny nodded, raising herself up enough to look over the wall. She didn't see any signs of the enemy, so she waved Cho over. Cho ducked down low and ran at a crouch over to Ginny, throwing herself down on the ground next to her, her back against the wall.

"We're the only ones left," Cho stated the obvious. "I watched them get Brian."

Ginny cursed again. "Do you know where they are?"

"It looks like they went around to the hut. I think they're regrouping there." Ginny twisted again to look over the edge of the wall. The hut was on the other side of the room, but she thought she saw movement inside through a small hole in the wood. She pointed her wand over the wall and cast a spell.

"Homenum revelio!"

Ginny felt five pulses in her wand. "Yep, they're all in there," she confirmed.

Cho glanced up at the tally. "They outnumber us, two-to-one. Have any thoughts?"

Ginny chewed her lip as she thought over the idea that had been forming in her mind before voicing it. "Parkin's Pincer. Modified, of course, because there's only two of us." She looked at Cho's confused look. "Wanderers’ patented chaser move." She picked up a twig and started drawing in the dirt. She drew a square to indicate the hut, with five crosses inside. "That's the target. We need to come at it from different sides, take them by surprise." She drew them in, with lines to the front of the hut and the back of the hut.

"I don't think the hut has a back door," Cho frowned.

Ginny waved her aside. "I'll make one. You come from the front. Stay low, or they will see you. We'll coordinate, and both go in when I send up green sparks. Okay?" Cho nodded.

They exchanged whispers of luck before parting ways around the low wall. Ginny kept low to the ground and darted to the far wall of the classroom, looking back in time to see Cho reach the shadow of the trees. Keeping her back to the wall, Ginny made her way around to the back of the hut, stopping when she was directly behind it.

From about 10 feet away, she could tell Cho was right in her guess that there was no back door. Raising her wand and making sure her arm was steady, she began casting a mild cutting curse, moving her arm slowly in the shape of a door. They were under strict orders from Scrimgeour not to use spells that could cause injuries — otherwise Ginny would have just blasted the wall away. Instead, she just had to hope no one inside was looking to closely at the back wall.

As soon as she was sure the door would come off, Ginny took a deep breath and raised her wand to the ceiling. Hoping that Cho was in position, she sent up a spray of green sparks, and then vanished the door she had created.

"Expelliarmus!" she cried as she sprinted into the hut, and she heard her spell echoed by Cho from the opposite side. Red light filled the room, and Ginny let out a series of identical disarming spells at the figures in the center of the room. When the light and smoke cleared, she found five wands scattered around the floor, and five people in blue with their hands up in surrender.

Cheers broke out around them as the walls of the hut disappeared and the entire scene faded back into their classroom. The yellow team was hollering with applause, the blue team shocked that their five remaining players had been brought down by just two witches.

"Excellently executed, Miss Chang, Miss Weasley," Scrimgeour said from the head of the room, leaning heavily against his walking stick. "Why did you choose that plan of attack?"

"It was Ginny's idea, sir," Cho stated. Ginny looked at her in surprise. "It was a modified Quidditch strategy."

"Well, it certainly worked." He turned to the entire class. "Your homework is to catalogue all of the moves you did during today's activity, and indicate what you did right and what was wrong." The class groaned as one, but moved toward the front to collect their bags.

Ginny turned to Cho. "Thanks for saying that."

Cho looked slightly uncomfortable. "Well, it was the truth. You were good back there."

"Thanks, you too," Ginny answered, smiling genuinely at Cho. She smiled back. Marietta approached them, removing her blue mesh with a look of distaste. She turned to Ginny with the same look before speaking to Cho.

"Great job, Cho!" she exclaimed. Cho looked embarrassed by her friend's behavior, but didn't say anything about it. Marietta started dragging her out of the room.

"See you tomorrow," Cho called out to her as she left.

~~~


Ginny hurried through the Atrium of the ministry. Because they were not getting anywhere, Moody had halted their investigation for the holiday break. Now that they were all back to class, he had asked Ginny, Cho, and Michael to join him again in the Auror Office. Not wanting to make a bad impression by arriving late to their first meeting of the year, Ginny squeezed into the waiting lift right as the grills were about to close.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Ginny barely had a chance to catch her breath before someone called her name. “Weasley!” She turned as best as she could within the crowded confines of the lift to see Gwenog Jones, captain of the Holyhead Harpies, looking at her expectedly.

“Oh, hello, Ms. Jones,” Ginny responded, trying to contain her excitement. The Holyhead Harpies were her favorite Quidditch team since she was a young child, and Gwenog Jones was one of the legendary players that she had worshipped while growing up.

The lift jerked to a stop at Level 7, and Gwenog stepped out, motioning for Ginny to follow. “Could I speak to you for a moment?” Even though she was definitely going to be late, Ginny followed her. “Weasley, I’ve wanted to talk to you for a while now, so I’m glad I bumped into you.”

“What can I do for you?” Ginny asked, unsure what Gwenog Jones would want to talk to her about.

Gwenog looked her up and down before answering. “Veronica Sheikh is pregnant.”

“Erm… congratulations?”

“I’ll pass on the message,” Gwenog said. “But that’s not why I told you. She is going leave at the beginning of next month, and we will have to play one of the reserves. The problem is, I don’t think any of our reserve chasers has what it takes to play starting, particularly at the beginning of next season. But I think you do.”

Ginny froze. “I do what?”

“You have what it takes, Weasley. I know that you didn’t play much with the Wanderers, but I came to see you play when you were still at Hogwarts. You’re good, Weasley, and you are what I am looking for.” Ginny remained standing still, her jaw dropped slightly open. Gwenog laughed. “Listen, can you come sometime this month to the stadium and fly for me? I want the rest of the team to see you.”

Ginny shook herself back to reality. “You know I quit playing, right? I’m at the Auror Academy now.”

Gwenog waved her aside. “A natural player like you? Nothing will keep you from the field. Think about it, and come see us soon.” Ginny watched Gwenog walk down the corridor towards the British Quidditch offices. She stood in shock, her mind reeling, before realizing that she was definitely late for work and jamming her finger on the call button for the lift.

She remained preoccupied all the way up to Level 2, and all through Moody’s debriefing about what they would get started on in the new year. Harry sent her a concerned look from his seat next to her, but she just shook her head, not wanting to talk about what had happened yet. In an effort to think about something else, she focused on Harry.

Ever since Parkin’s funeral in November, she and Harry had been together. They spent most of their time together in Harry’s flat, despite having had a rather normal dinner with Luna. Harry had decided to stay with his family — Remus Lupin, Tonks, and their young son Teddy — for Christmas, but joined the Weasleys at the Burrow for New Years Eve, much to Mrs. Weasley’s delight.

Caught up in her thoughts of their New Year’s Eve celebrations, Ginny barely listened to Moody’s voice, but kept her gaze away from Harry, as she could feel his eyes on her. She longed to reach over and grab his hand, but they had decided right away that it was best to keep a professional relationship when they were in the Auror Office. Out of the corner of her eye she could see his fingers drumming against his knee, and she knew that he was resisting the same temptation.

Moody finally finished his update, even though there was nothing to update them on, and released them to their own activities. Ignoring Cho and Michael, Harry motioned for Ginny to follow him to his cubicle. She trailed along behind him, waving hello to some of the Aurors she had come to know in the past few months. When they reached his cubicle, Harry sat in his chair, and Ginny hopped up on the corner of his desk, her legs swinging.

Harry’s desk was a mess of parchment and files, with very few personal mementos. He had a picture of himself as a young child with his grandparents, and a picture of little Teddy. He had expressed his desire to have a Wanderer’s poster of her, but was disappointed to learn that her status on the reserve team had never earned her a position on a poster.

“Are you alright?” he asked, looking at her carefully. Ginny considered telling him about her encounter with Gwenog, but decided she wanted to think about it more before sharing.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she answered, kicking his chair lightly with her swinging foot. “What are you looking at?” she nodded at the stack of parchments on the top of the pile, trying to change the topic.

Harry did not look entirely convinced, but went with it. “There’s not much to do for Moody right now, and when he lets me do my own thing, I do this.” He pulled one sheet of parchment toward him, and Ginny repositioned herself on his desk so that she could read it with him. There was a list of names, most of them crossed out, and with Harry’s messy scrawl around the names and the margins. “I want to make sure that all of the surviving Death Eaters are put in jail. Most of them were killed or captured when the war ended, and so the ministry sort of lost interest in finding the rest of them. I haven’t.” His voice was soft, as if he wasn’t even aware he was speaking that thought out loud. “Plus,” he said, raising his voice again, “I’ve heard some things lately that make me think they might be trying to reorganize, and I want to put a stop to that before it has the chance to get started.”

Ginny leaned over his shoulder, her long hair falling into his face, as she dragged her finger down the list. “Bellatrix Lestrange — dead, Rodolphus Lestrange — dead, Rabastan Lestrange — whereabouts unknown, Alecto Carrow — Azkaban, Amycus Carrow — dead, Barty Crouch — dead… Since when was Barty Crouch a Death Eater?”

“The son. He was actually arrested years ago, and he died in Azkaban.”

Ginny shook her head. “Crazy world.” She continued down the list. “Antonin Dolohov — whereabouts unknown, Fenrir Greyback — dead, Igor Karkaroff — dead, Corban Yaxley — whereabouts unknown,” Ginny stopped reading. “So do you have any leads on the ones who are missing?” she asked.

Harry looked around at the surrounding cubicles to make sure no one was paying attention before casting a privacy spell. “I can’t be sure, but I think that they might have something to do with Parkin’s death.”

“What?” Ginny gasped. “Why would Death Eaters want to kill Boyd Parkin?”

“I don’t know, but I have heard before that they could be involved in black market potions trading to raise money,” Harry said. “And from what Slughorn told me, most of the ingredients that are needed for the poison that killed Parkin would be found on the black market. Had they come from a real potion distributor or apothecary, we would have been able to trace the purchases.”

Ginny exhaled slowly. “Have you told Moody about this?”

“I tried.” Harry shook his head and started pulling other sheets of parchment into a pile. “He seems completely convinced that Parkin’s death has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with Quidditch. He won’t hear anything else.” Harry looked around again before lowering his voice. “I don’t like to say it, but maybe everyone is right about him.”

“What do you mean?”

Harry sighed. “Moody has been around for a long time, and people like to throw around that maybe he has lost it — his abilities and his sanity.” He shrugged, his fingers tracing the grain of the wooden desk dangerously close to her thigh. “I usually don’t agree but, lately he has been stubborn and angry and… maybe it is time for him to think about retiring.” His wandering hand finally reached her leg, and he slid his hand up and over her thigh to where her own hands were resting in her lap. He griped her hand, intertwining their fingers together, unconcerned with what anyone else saw.

~~~


Harry’s list of Death Eater’s preoccupied most of Ginny’s thoughts that week, but Gwenog’s proposition also remained in the forefront of her mind. Ginny finally broached the subject with Harry late one night that week. They were lying in bed, her head against his shoulder, just able to see through the curtains of his tall windows at the waning moon in the sky. She felt relaxed and light, ready for sleep, but her mind could not get off of the conversation she had with Gwenog. “Harry,” she whispered, unwilling to break the tranquility of the moment.

He leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head. “Yes?”

She kept her eyes on the moon as she spoke, the fingers of her left hand playing with his right. “I saw Gwenog Jones the other day, at the ministry,” she began in the same soft voice. “She told me that one of her players was leaving and she wants me to come by sometime this month and try out for the team.” She didn’t turn to look at Harry, unsure of what she would see on his face.

“Does she know you are at the Academy?” he asked after a moment, his left hand slowly running up and down her spine, his fingers tickling the bare skin of her back.

“Yeah, I told her, but she said she wanted to extend the offer to me anyway.” When Harry didn’t say anything, she picked her head up and looked down at him. His eyes were unfocused without his glasses, but Ginny still shivered at the intensity of his gaze. “What do you think?” she asked him.

Harry thought about it for a moment, his hand continuing its path up her spine. “Are you considering it?” he asked, looking into her eyes. He asked another question instead of waiting for her to answer. “Are you happy at the Academy?”

“I guess so,” she answered slowly. “It’s just not exactly what I was expecting. And I always dreamed of the Harpies, but…” she trailed off, looking at Harry. His expression was blank and impossible to read in the dim lighting of the room. His black hair was a mess against the crisp white of his pillowcase, tousled even more than usual. She could just make out the faint line of the lightning bolt scar on his forehead.

“I think you know what you want,” he said.

Ginny watched him, waiting for an obvious reaction. When he didn’t show anything, she asked, “What would you think of me if I quit?”

Harry pulled her down flush against him, wrapping both of his arms around her waist. “It’s not quitting when you are pursing what makes you happy. If you are happier playing Quidditch, I would never think anything bad of that.” Ginny looked into his sincere eyes before pushing herself up and kissing him, slow and languid. “Ginny,” he said when she pulled away, “I know you can do anything you want to. And please know that I will be proud of you no matter what.” Ginny grinned down at him, her mind set on at least going to see Gwenog at Harpies’ stadium. Harry grinned back at her. “Besides,” he said, flipping her over quickly so that he was hovering above her. Ginny suddenly wasn’t tired anymore. “I really need a poster of my gorgeous girlfriend to hang in my cubicle.” Ginny reached up and kissed him, ending all of their conversation for the night.
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