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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: 12957; Chapter Total: 1358
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Almost at the end now; thanks for hanging in with me :)




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Lighting flashed outside of the window of the small cottage in Stinchcombe, and Ginny looked around curiously. The room they had flooed into was small but homey, and it reminded Ginny of the Burrow, despite the slight sense of neglect that hung in the air. The furniture was plain and very old, and it was easy to tell that the house had not been lived in for many years. The house was quiet, magnifying the sound of rain pounding down on the roof and Harry’s footsteps from the hall. He came through the doorway to the sitting room, levitating a stack of boxes in front of him. They landed with a crash on the area rug, a small cloud of dust rising around them.

Ginny wrinkled her nose in distaste and cast a few quick charms to at least rid the place of the settled dust. Harry smiled in appreciation. “Thanks,” he said, taking a seat on the rug in front of the fireplace and pulling a box towards him. “I think we should start with these boxes before we move on to the larger stuff.”

“Remind me why we are here,” Ginny stated as she settled down next to him, peering over his shoulder at the contents of the box.

“A few years ago, I moved all of my grandparent’s things from their house to this one. I don’t like going back there, but this place has no real meaning for me, it has always just sort of sat here.” He looked around at the room they were in, illuminated by the fire behind them and the occasional flashes of lightning through the window. “It has been in the family for ages, it originally belonged to my ancestor Linfred.”

“I meant why are we here today,” Ginny grumbled, reaching into the box and pulling out a photo album. She was excited at the prospect of helping Harry go through his grandparent’s artifacts, but she did not appreciate the early start to the day.

Harry flipped the photo album open. “I thought it would be a good rainy day activity.”

Ginny smiled at a picture of a couple who she recognized as Harry’s parents, holding a baby Harry. “So is staying in bed all day,” she added.

Harry laughed, and turned to press a kiss against her temple. “We can go to bed early, if you’d like,” he said, his voice teasing. Ginny nodded, satisfied, and pulled the photo album into her lap.

She ran her finger down a clearly old picture, in sepia color, of a young boy in old-fashioned robes. He had a wild mess of hair and a familiar nose. “Is this your grandfather?” she asked. Harry looked away from a figurine he had removed from another box and at the picture. He nodded.

“Yeah, he must have been about five years old there.” He turned towards Ginny, flipping through the photo album with her, pointing out particular pictures. There were many of his grandparents when they were young, and then eventually pictures of a young James Potter. The newest photo they could find was of Harry as a baby, and Ginny expressed her frustration of not seeing any more pictures of him as a child.

“Those are probably all in another one,” Harry said, digging through the first box. He pulled something else out. “You’ll like this,” he said, handing her a book before diving back into the box to search for more photo albums. Ginny turned it over in her hands.

“Your grandparents’ Hogwarts yearbook? I used to love looking at Mum and Dad’s when I was little.” She flipped it open and went straight to the Gryffindor pages, running her finger down the page until she found Fleamont Potter. He winked up at her. “You look just like him!” she exclaimed, taking in the state of Fleamont’s hair and the shape of his face. She looked over at Euphemia. “Actually, I think you have your grandmother’s smile.” She grabbed Harry’s chin and turned his face toward her, breaking his focus on the photo album full of baby pictures that he had finally unearthed.

Harry grinned at her, and she nodded in confirmation. “Yes, your grandmother’s smile.”

She turned back to the yearbook, flipping idly through the pages and looking for more pictures of Harry’s grandparents. He would occasionally distract her with a picture that he was looking at, and she had just finished smiling over a photo of Harry riding a hippogriff at his fifth birthday party when something in the yearbook caught her attention. She looked closer at the picture of the Potions Club, rolling her eyes at Fleamont’s name as the leader, and focused on the young woman standing next to Fleamont.

“Hey, Harry, look who this is.” She pointed to the picture and Harry looked, a confused expression on his face.

“Do I know her?” he asked.

Ginny nodded. “It’s Mrs. Parkin. She looks exactly the same.” Ginny pointed to the names listed as the club members. “See, Isobel Mulpepper.”

“Mulpepper? Like Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary?” Harry asked.

“Probably, how common is the name Mulpepper?” Ginny answered. She heaved herself off the floor, intent on making a pot of tea. “That’s a pretty big apothecary, you know, they have a store in Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley.”

She had just reached the doorway when Harry's voice called her back. "Ginny?" She turned to look at him; the room was shrouded in shadows due to the black storm clouds outside, and the backlight from the fire illuminated Harry in a slightly ominous way. He was frowning. "A place like that would have lots of rare potions ingredients, wouldn't it?"

Ginny quickly realized what he was thinking. "You don't think Mrs. Parkin has anything to do with Death Eaters? Or her husband's death?"

"You never know," Harry answered. "There are lots of cases of spousal murder." Ginny stood still, watching Harry. She tried to imagine the frail old woman she spoke to at the funeral as a murderess and Death Eater. She couldn't, but she could see Harry's point.

"Maybe I should go talk to her," she finally said. "She invited me to anytime, and I think it would be a good way to find things out without storming in as Aurors."

Harry stood slowly and walked towards her. "As long as you keep it light. I don't want you finding out the hard way that she is actually a murderer."

Ginny rolled her eyes. "I can handle myself against an old woman, Harry," she said. "It will have to be next week though, I'm going to see Gwenog tomorrow." With that settled, she shivered slightly, suddenly eager to leave this house. "Could we take this back to your flat? This place is starting to creep me out."

~~~


A few days later, Ginny found herself at the front door of the Parkin ancestral manor in Wigtown. The elegantly carved 'P' on the door was in stark contrast to the handle shaped like a meat cleaver. Suppressing the thought of bloody weapons, Ginny adjusted her plumb colored robes and knocked tentatively on the door. She had written ahead that she was coming to tea, but there was no sign of preparation for her arrival. As soon as she knocked, however, the door cracked open and a tiny house elf appeared.

"Please follow me, Miss Weasley," the elf squeaked, and Ginny stepped into the house and followed the elf down the hall. The house was large and elegantly decorated, but not ostentatious. A large crystal chandelier hung over the two-story foyer and old paintings looked curiously at Ginny as she walked by.

They entered a large parlor where Mrs. Parkin was sitting, looking out a wide widow at the shore. The house elf announced Ginny's presence, and she found herself seated across from Mrs. Parkin at a low table.

The woman smiled at her. "I'm so glad you came to visit, dear," she said as the house elf began bringing in trays of tea things. Ginny smiled back, suddenly nervous. While she had originally believed it was not possible for this woman to be involved with murder, she had let Harry's paranoia get to her over the past week to the point where she was now second guessing herself.

She picked up the teacup in front of her and brought it to her lips, about to take a sip, before she thought of poison and murder and what Moody would say to her if she accepted a drink from a possible suspect. She brought it back down hard, and the cup rattled on the saucer.

"Mrs. Parkin," she started, intent on getting some answers, "how have you been holding up?"

"It's difficult, but that's life. You come to understand that at my age," she said, picking up a scone and biting into it.

Ginny decided to get to the point. "You know, Mrs. Parkin, I was looking through some old Hogwarts yearbooks and I saw a picture of you in the potions club."

Mrs. Parkin seemed startled at the sudden change in conversation, but laughed. "My, that was a long time ago," she said, taking a sip of tea. "I'm surprised you recognized me."

"You look exactly the same," Ginny said, "but I noticed your maiden name was Mulpepper. Is that any relation to the apothecary chain?"

"Yes, indeed," Mrs. Parkin answered. "It was my grandfather who started the store. He always said I had a particular proclivity for potions. It would have been fun to continue that that business, but it wasn't to be."

Ginny was startled. "You mean you don't own the apothecaries?"

"Own them, yes, but I have nothing to do with them. Back in my day, dear, it wasn't appropriate for a witch to get into business, so I could never get involved in the day to day. Of course I helped Boyd with some of the business for a while, but when he got sick it was too much. And my health had been declining as of late. We made the best decision we could with those stores."

"What decision?" Ginny asked.

"Why, Angus takes care of them. He has for years now." Mrs. Parkin smiled, and gestured to a picture frame on the table beside her. Ginny looked to see Angus Parkin, looking much younger than she had ever seen him, in Hogwarts graduation robes. He was standing with his arms around a few classmates, the one to his immediate right looked slightly familiar, but Ginny couldn't place him. He had short brown hair parted neatly to the side and a serious expression. There was a darkness in his eyes that made Ginny uncomfortable, even through a picture.

"You know Angus," Mrs. Parkin continued, "he is such a good boy. We have the elves here to cook, but he comes by each week with surprises. He never forgets to bring along some crystallized pineapple, it's my favorite." She picked up an unopened package and held it out toward Ginny. "He just brought this one this morning. Have a piece."

Ginny was about to politely decline when she suddenly realized who the man in the picture was. She grabbed the entire package of pineapple, startling Mrs. Parkin. "I have to go," she said, jumping to her feet. "Can I take these?" Mrs. Parkin looked alarmed, so Ginny tried to think of a reason for her behavior. She said the first thing that came out of her mouth. "I just realized it's my boyfriend's birthday, and I didn't get him a present. He loves crystallized pineapple. Do you mind?"

She knew her excuse was weak, but Mrs. Parkin seemed to buy it. "Of course not, dear, but -"

Ginny didn't let her finish. "Thank you. I'll be sure to come again." With that she rushed out, clutching the package of crystallized pineapple to her chest and almost knocking over the small house elf.

~~~


"Harry!"

Ginny rushed through the Auror Office, still holding tight onto the crystallized pineapple. She hurried to where Harry sat at his cubicle and unceremoniously dropped the package down, trying to catch her breath. Harry looked from her to the package before speaking.

"I prefer Pumpkin Pasties."

"Good," Ginny said, still gasping for breath. "I don't think you want to eat these, because they are poisoned."

Harry's joking expression vanished. "Parkin?" Ginny nodded. "Come on, Moody's got the others in his office." Harry levitated the candies in front of him, and together they walked to Moody's office.

Cho and Michael were already inside, going over files, and Moody was pacing the floor behind his desk. They all looked up as Ginny and Harry entered.

“I know who killed Boyd Parkin,” Ginny said without preamble. “It was Angus Parkin, his grandson.” She looked at the four shocked faces before her. Moody recovered first.

“What makes you think that?” he asked, his voice even.

“Well,” Ginny began, “I went to see Mrs. Parkin this afternoon and she said…”

Moody slammed his walking stick. “Why am I not informed of your actions? If you decided to go see someone related to my case, why aren’t you telling me?”

Ginny flinched, but Harry answered for her. “I knew that she was going.” Moody grunted in acknowledgement.

“So tell me this, why the hell would the grandson want to kill his grandfather?” he asked, his voice angry. His bright blue magical eye was fixed unwaveringly on her, and Ginny swallowed before answering.

“I…” she looked at Harry, unsure if he wanted her to share his theory about the Death Eaters.

Moody scoffed before she had a chance to decide what to say. “Just as I suspected, it’s a load of nonsense. Weasley, you are supposed to be focused on the Quidditch angle, not on the Quidditch players.”

“But, sir,” Ginny pleaded, “these candies are poisoned. I’m sure of it.” She gestured to the package of crystallized pineapple still held aloft by Harry’s spell.

Moody banged his walking stick against the floor once more, and the package crashed down. “I don’t have time for this,” he grumbled, pushing past them all out of his office door. Ginny looked around at the other three.

“Ginny,” Harry began, “what happened with Mrs. Parkin?”

“She said that Angus is in charge of the apothecaries, and that he has been bringing them those candies for a while even though they have house elves. Harry, she said she hasn’t been feeling well either, I think he has been poisoning her too. There’s another thing… she has a picture of Angus from his Hogwarts graduation… he was friends with Barty Crouch Jr., so he might also be a…”

She gave Harry a significant look, still unsure if he wanted her to mention the possibility that Death Eaters were involved. He nodded. “I’ll get these tested, see if they match the poison, and we can take it from there.” He summoned the package and levitated it out the door in front of him, and he squeezed her shoulder on his way out.

“I can’t believe someone would kill their own grandfather,” Cho said, her voice quiet.

“I don’t believe someone would kill their own grandfather,” Michael snapped. Ginny turned to him. “I mean, come on, Ginny, don’t you think this is a little far fetched?”

Ginny narrowed her eyes. “No, Michael, I don’t. Why do you think I would make this up?”

Michael laughed coldly. “Because you are jealous of Angus Parkin, everyone knows that. You don’t need to be catty just because he is a better player than you.”

“Excuse me?”

“Why else would he be on the starting team and you were only on reserve?”

“Michael!” Cho exclaimed.

Ginny was unable to keep the anger out of her voice. “Maybe because his grandparents own the team, Michael. But maybe I don’t owe you any explanation.” With that, she turned on her heal and stormed from the room.

Harry was not at his cubicle, so she just kept walking, entering the lift and considering finding Hermione in her office. Hermione was probably busy with work, so Ginny just kept walking, not paying attention to where she was going. She found herself once again in the doorway of the indoor flying pitch, which was mercifully quieter than the last time she had visited. There wasn’t a line at the broom rental stand, and Ginny quickly got one, kicking off into the air.

It was nearing the end of the workday, and there were only two other people on brooms, flying around the far side of the room. Ginny shot upwards, letting the artificial wind blow against her face, her hair streaming out behind her. Normally when she was flying she felt all of her troubles melt away, but Ginny’s thoughts wouldn’t leave her, they swirled around in a mess of poison, and Death Eaters, and Quidditch players. She flew lazy circles around the sky, watching as the other two people left and she was alone with the gradually setting sun.

“Ginny!” A small figure with long black hair was waving her down, and she flew lower until she recognized Cho.

“Come on up,” Ginny called back, “and bring a quaffle with you.”

She watched as Cho got a broom from the stand and flew up a little unsteadily, with a quaffle tucked under her right arm. They hovered at the same level, watching each other, the wind moving around them.

“I want to apologize for Michael, he shouldn’t have said that.” Cho finally said.

Ginny waved her off. “You don’t have to do that. You weren’t the one who said anything. Besides, I’m used to that from him.”

“Still,” Cho continued, “he shouldn’t talk to you like that. It’s because he’s jealous of you, you know.”

Ginny scoffed. “Why should he be jealous of me?” She held out her hand and Cho tossed her the quaffle underhand. Ginny juggled it in her hands.

“Oh, please. You were good enough of a Quidditch player to get signed by a professional team, and you were good enough to get into the Auror Academy.” Ginny started slowly flying towards the rings, and Cho followed her. “Michael wasn’t even able to get in here on his first try.”

Ginny pulled her broom up short, stopping quickly and spinning around to face Cho. “Are you serious?”

Cho nodded. “He had to retake his Defense Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T.”

Ginny’s jaw dropped. She looked at Cho, trying to gauge her sincerity, but couldn’t find a reason to suspect her of lying. The sun was setting behind her, casting the enchanted sky in a fiery glow. “Here,” Ginny said, tossing her the quaffle.

Cho caught it, a little clumsy, and together they flew toward the hoops. She tossed it, and it bounced off the edge of the hoop. Ginny caught it on the rebound, and threw it through the hoop.

“Harry was looking for you when I left,” Cho said. “Is there something going on between you two?”

Ginny looked up to see Cho’s smile, and couldn’t stop the laughter from bubbling out of her. They stayed there, laughing and occasionally playing with the quaffle, until the sky grew dark around them.
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