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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: 12961; Chapter Total: 1267
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
This is it! Just a short epilogue left now! Let me know what you think!




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When Ginny finally left the ministry that evening, she went directly to Hermione's flat. While Hermione was incredibly blind in some areas - she was still denying a relationship with Ron despite going out with him a few more times and joining them for New Year’s Eve - she was very good at giving professional advice.

Ginny spun out of the grate to see Hermione sitting at her kitchen table, surrounded by large books and piles of parchment. "Hermione?"

"Come in," she answered without looking up. "I'm writing a new draft of my house elf bill."

Ginny plopped into a chair across the table from Hermione and frowned. "Shouldn't you leave work at work?"

Hermione let out a deep sigh, gathering her hair into a messy bun on the top of her head. "What's wrong?"

"What makes you think something is wrong?"

"You're cranky. And you are spending an evening with me." Hermione closed the large book she was reading from and leaned her elbows on it. "So?"

Ginny bit her lip, considering what she wanted to say. "Gwenog Jones offered me a contract as a starting chaser for the Harpies for next season," she said in a rush.

Hermione looked taken aback. "Congratulations!" she said. "So are you going to take it?"

"I'm considering. It's what I've always wanted, you know. But if I do, does that make me just a dumb Quidditch player?"

"Where are you getting that from?" Hermione asked.

"Well, earlier today Michael said something about-"

Hermione jumped out of her seat. "I can't believe you are still letting what Michael says get to you!"

Ginny shook her head. "It's not just him, Hermione. I know that a lot of my classmates think that of me. Hell, Dawlish still does!"

"Who cares what they think!" Ginny had never seen Hermione so incensed about something that was not house elf related. "If that makes you 'just a dumb Quidditch player' then I am 'just a lowly ministry worker.' You need to make your career decisions based on what makes you happy, not what other people think of you."

"You sound like Harry," Ginny mumbled, watching as Hermione began opening cabinets, seemingly at random.

She spun around. "You would do better listening to him than to Michael. Ginny, are you happy now?"

Ginny took a moment to think. "Sometimes. I thought I would like working on this case, but it's mostly paperwork. And now that I think I figured something out, Moody won't even listen to me."

Hermione finally unearthed two wine glasses and picked up her wand, summoning a bottle of wine. "First of all, you need to make him listen to you." She jabbed the bottle with her wand, and the cork flew out. "Second, would you be happier playing Quidditch?"

As she watched Hermione pour the glasses of wine, she thought about it, but it didn't take long for her to realize she didn't need to think too hard.

~~~


Ginny was waiting in the crowded hallway outside of Dawlish's classroom the next morning when she saw Harry pushing his way towards her. He came to a stop in front of her, his eyes searching her face.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

Harry shook his head. "Cho told me you were upset yesterday, I wanted to make sure you were okay." Ginny smiled.

"I'm fine. I actually talked it through with Cho."

"Really?" Harry looked skeptical.

She checked to make sure no one she knew was near. "Yeah, and you wouldn't believe what she told me about Michael… I'll tell you later." She finished quickly, seeing them walking towards the classroom.

"Alright," Harry said. "But I also wanted to tell you that I got the results back from the crystallized pineapple, and you were right, they were poisoned. And the same poison that killed Boyd Parkin."

Ginny resisted the urge to cheer, given the somber subject matter. "So Moody will have to listen to me. I'll go tell him after class."

"I figured you would want to tell him," Harry clarified, running a hand through his hair. "I’d better get going," he added, kissing her quickly. Ginny could feel her classmates' eyes on her, but didn't acknowledge them.

"I thought we were being professional," Ginny whispered, trying to hide her smile. She had been trying to convince him for weeks to drop the professional act, but he had been scared of how everyone would react.

Harry shrugged. "In the Auror Office. And I was getting sick of being professional, anyway."

Ginny watched him walk away, steadfastly ignoring the curious eyes of her classmates as they filtered into the room. She sat distracted throughout the entire class, barely paying attention to what Dawlish said and thinking about her upcoming encounter with Moody. By the time class ended, her nerves had escalated to the point where she couldn’t think of anything else. Brushing off Mandy and her obvious desire to ask about Harry, Ginny hurried out of class and to the Atrium, pushing her way past ministry workers headed for lunch break and into a lift.

The Auror Office was quiet when she arrived, and she marched through the maze of cubicles to the offices along the far wall. Moody’s door was closed, but there was light seeping out from underneath. Taking a deep breath, Ginny knocked. When her hand made contact with the door, it swung open and Ginny peeked her head in to see an empty room.

“Auror Moody?”

There was no response, and Ginny was about to leave and come back after lunch when a soft gurgling noise caught her attention. She walked into the office, and located the source of the noise emanating from a cauldron in the corner, simmering on a low flame. Ginny approached, her footsteps loud in the otherwise quiet room, and looked deep into the cauldron at the bubbling potion. It resembled dark mud, and Ginny recognized it instantly. “Polyjuice Potion?” she wondered out loud. Moody’s hip flask rested on the table next to the cauldron, empty. It seemed that Moody had not yet added a bit of another person, and the potion was just sitting, ready to be used. It was not unheard of for Aurors to have a supply of Polyjuice Potion, although it was difficult for Ginny to imagine Moody transforming into anyone for any reason.

A sudden rattle from the other side of the room had Ginny spinning around, her wand at the ready. Her eyes locked on Moody’s trunk, tucked against the wall, now sitting innocently still. It was an old, rusted trunk, with seven keyholes in a row. Unlike every other time Ginny had been in this office, a key was resting in the last keyhole, and the lid of the trunk was propped slightly open. It was being held aloft by two metal hooks that descended into the trunk.

Although everything about the situation was telling Ginny to leave as fast as possible, her curiosity got the better of her, and she walked cautiously toward the trunk. She opened the lid even further, peering carefully inside. A thin shaft of light emanating from the torch on the wall slid through the opening, illuminating what looked like Moody’s wooden leg inside. Ginny angled herself to get a better view of what Moody was doing inside the trunk when a bloodcurdling scream echoed from its depths.

Ginny jumped back, letting the lid fall back into place with a thump. Silence fell, and Ginny heard the sound of footsteps from inside the trunk. She hurried out of the office and was halfway across the main floor before Moody’s voice boomed out behind her.

“Weasley!”

Ginny considered continuing as if she hadn’t heard him, but instead she stopped, took a deep breath, and turned around to slowly face him. He was livid.

“What were you doing in my office?”

“I… I’m sorry, sir,” Ginny stammered. “I just wanted to talk to you about Parkin.”

Moody growled and Ginny recoiled. “I don’t want to hear what you have to say about him, Weasley. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to hear anything you have to say at all. Get out of here!”

The rest of the Aurors in the office had stopped what they were doing to watch the fight. Ginny stood frozen in the middle of the sea of cubicles, unsure of what to do. Moody waited across from her, both of his eyes fixed on her face, the rough angular features of his face standing out more prominently than usual. Ginny looked around at the other Aurors, but none of them seemed willing to help her out. Instead, she nodded and spun on her heal, walking out of the Auror Office.

She walked along the hall in a fog, her mind reeling, and she bumped into someone as she made to enter the lift.

“Ginny! There you are; you wouldn’t believe what I found out about Barty Crouch… what’s wrong?” Harry had grabbed onto her arm to stop her, and Ginny fought to focus her attention on his face.

“Moody said… what about Barty Crouch?” she asked, suddenly alert.

Harry was practically buzzing with energy. “After you mentioned that Angus Parkin was friends with him in school, I wanted to look into more of their shared associates. I told you that Barty Crouch Jr. died in Azkaban. What I didn’t realize was that his mother died shortly after, and then Barty Crouch Sr. died a few months later. I went to talk to their old house elf, and she revealed that Barty Crouch Sr. swapped his son out for his wife, as per her request.” Ginny’s eyes grew wide with shock. “But after Crouch Sr. died, the house elf lost track of Barty Crouch Jr. Ginny, he is alive, and he is out there somewhere!”

Ginny felt like the world was spinning around her, and the answer was just out of her reach. She stood there, in the middle of the corridor of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, looking at Harry’s face but seeing past him. Barty Crouch Jr.’s face from the photograph at Mrs. Parkin’s house floated into her vision. She squeezed her eyes shut, Harry’s hands tight on her arms, and her mind filled with crystallized pineapples and magical blue eyes and trunks with rooms underneath them. When the final piece of the puzzle fell into place, Ginny felt as if the floor had opened up underneath her.

“I know where he is.”

She grabbed Harry’s hand, leading him back the way she had come, through the Auror Office where workers turned their heads to look at her, shocked that she had returned so shortly after being ordered away. The door to Moody’s office sprung open as she approached it, and she and Harry drew to a stop in the doorway. Moody spun around to face them from where he stood in front of the cauldron. He made a sudden movement, but Harry was faster, drawing his wand and disarming Moody before he even got his wand out.

Harry cast binds around the man, and then turned to the cauldron in the corner. “Polyjuice Potion?” he asked, surprised. “Looks like you needed a new batch, so we should be seeing who you really are any minute.”

Ginny hurried over to the trunk against the wall, thankful that the key was still in the lock. She threw the lid open, casting a quick “Lumos!” before peering inside. A man was lying at the bottom of the trunk, missing a leg and an eye but obviously Alastor Moody. “Moody’s in here,” she called back to Harry.

By the time she turned back around, a crowd of Aurors had gathered at the door, and the Moody in front of her began to transform into a different person. They all watched in horror as he began to twitch, his face thinning. The wooden leg fell away as a real leg grew in its place, and the magical eye popped out, spinning around the floor as a second beady eye appeared on his face. The group looked down on Barty Crouch Jr., who was panting heavily.

“That answers a lot,” Harry said, keeping his wand trained on the man. “Tonks,” he called, and Tonks pushed her way into the office. “Do you mind taking over with this one? We have something else to take care of.”

“I would love to,” Tonks answered, looking more serious than Ginny had ever seen her usually jovial instructor. Harry gestured to Ginny to follow him out, and together they squeezed through the crowd as the Aurors began to swarm inside in an attempt to reach the trunk with the real Moody inside.

Harry turned to Ginny once they were alone in the Auror Office. “I think we need to go get Angus Parkin. Care to join me?”

“Of course,” Ginny agreed, “but first we need to get Cho and Michael. This is something they have to see.”

~~~


Storm clouds hung ominously over Wanderers Stadium when they arrived. Ginny barely listened as Harry explained their presence to the security wizard, but she pushed ahead once they were given clearance and she walked out onto the pitch first. The team was still practicing, and most of the starting team was in the air. Ginny noticed the reserves sitting in their usual place on the benches.

Ginny scanned the sky, spotting Angus almost immediately. The players were performing chaser drills, and he was at the head of the formation. She took in his carefree posture on his broom, realizing that he had not been tipped off about their arrival.

After a few minutes, Coach Truckle blew his whistle to end practice, and the players began floating down to earth. Harry, who had been waiting patiently beside Ginny, stepped forward.

"Angus Parkin?" he called, his face angled toward the sky. Angus turned on his broom, his smile dropping at the sight of the Aurors. "Please come down here, we would like to speak with you."

Angus looked at Harry and Ginny and then at the rest of his teammates, who were all looking at Angus in surprise. He was frozen for a moment, suspended ten feet in the air, before he spun his broom around quickly and sped off across the field.

Harry raised his wand, but Ginny moved forward without thinking, grabbing a broom out of the nearest player’s hand and taking off.

She leaned down over the handle of her broom, keeping her eyes on the tail of Angus’s broom as he zig-zagged through the sky. She dimly heard screams coming from behind her, unsure if they were calling her back or not, but she did not stop to see. A bolt of red light zoomed toward her, and she ducked down, closer to the handle of the broom as the spell shot over her head, just grazing her hair. Ginny moved to pull her wand out of her robes, but was forced to stop as Angus sent spell after spell at her over his shoulder. She swerved through the air, dodging each of the spells, having to do a tricky barrel roll to avoid a nasty Cutting Hex.

The wards around the stadium prevented either of them from flying past its walls, and so Angus circled around, flying through the center hoop on the far side of the pitch and back toward the benched players.

A bright red spot on the grass caught Ginny’s attention, and she broke from her course of trailing Angus and dropped into a steep dive. Just as she was about to collide with the earth, she reached one arm down, scooping up the quaffle, and pulled up on the handle of her broom, rocketing skywards.

Tucking the ball under her right arm, Ginny bent low over her broom, finally feeling comfortably armed. She sped toward Angus, who was still flying at a neck-breaking speed. Just as he flew through the tallest hoop, Ginny reared her arm back, tossing the quaffle toward him with all of her might. The quaffle collided with Angus’s head with a dull thud, and his broom pitched forward. Ginny, along with the rest of the crowd, watched as he slid almost gracefully from the broom, falling a few thousand feet before Harry’s spell caught him and slowed his process. Ginny floated down almost lazily, coming to join the small knot of people on the field.

~~~


The Auror Office was a flurry of activity when they returned from the stadium. Parkin’s arrest was overshadowed by the more important apprehension of a Death Eater within the Ministry’s own walls, but Ginny didn’t mind. She stood in the middle of the chaos, not sure what to do first. On the far side of the room, Harry was talking with Tonks. Ginny considered joining them, but stayed where she was, turning around slowly to survey the rest of the room. The real Mad-Eye Moody stood at the entrance to his office, leaning heavily on his walking stick and scowling, but overseeing the team that was examining his possessions. Dawlish was talking to Cho, who looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there; when they saw Ginny looking, Cho smiled and Dawlish frowned. Ginny smiled back, but her amusement quickly faded when she noticed Michael walking towards her.

“Ginny,” he started, looking directly at her, “can we talk?”

Ginny took a deep breath. “What is it, Michael?”

He shifted his weight from foot to foot, looking unsure of himself. “I wanted to tell you I was wrong.” Ginny raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. “About everything. You were right about Parkin, and you are a good Quidditch player. And you deserve to be here.”

Ginny laughed out loud. “Did Cho tell you to say that?” she asked.

“She certainly had some opinions about you. And then she gave me this.” He took the engagement ring that had been on Cho’s finger for months out of his pocket, looking forlornly down at it. He didn’t expand, but Ginny found that she really didn’t care what he had to say.

“Michael,” she started, but he cut her off.

“There’s something else I was wrong about: us.” That declaration effectively quieted Ginny, and she stared at him in horror. “I shouldn’t have been so rash last summer, and I think we should give it another go.”

Ginny stared at him in disbelief, unsure if she was actually hearing what he was saying. “You have got to be kidding me.” When Michael shook his head, she closed her eyes for a moment, gathering her thoughts before responding. “There’s something you need to understand Michael. I wasn’t upset when we broke up, because that is what I really wanted. You see, I didn’t come here for you. I came for myself.” She took a deep breath and continued. “I felt like I had something to prove to myself, do something that would show that I was more than ‘just a dumb Quidditch player,’” she said, echoing the words that she had uttered to Hermione.

She looked around the room for another moment, letting Michael wait to hear the rest of what she had to say. “But the thing is, I don’t need to do anything to prove myself, I just need to do what makes me happy. And I have figured out what makes me happy. I don’t want to be an Auror, and I certainly don’t want to be your wife.”

With that, she spun on her heal and walked out, not in the mood to explain herself to yet another Auror, or to fill out paperwork, or to speak to anyone else. She finally had a plan for her future, and she wasn’t about to sit around and wait any longer.
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