|SIYE Time:3:40 on 19th August 2018|
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Negative Alcohol Use, Rape, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: With Voldemort dead, Harry Potter is training to be an Auror and is finally back together with Ginny Weasley. But when a young woman dies of poisoning at the Ministry’s Midsummer Ball, Harry is the first suspect, and he can only uncover the true murderer by working with his childhood rival, Draco Malfoy.
Hitcount: Story Total: 5467; Chapter Total: 490
This story is not chronological, so it helps to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter.
Chapter 2: Ghosts
May 10, 1998
She was a ghost, Ginny Weasley thought as she snuck up to the room under the attic. She had always been stealthy. As a child, she had fit into the smallest nooks and crannies and spied on her brothers, gathering up all useful information. She had snuck into the broom shed, often in the middle of the night, and borrowed her brother’s brooms, riding through the air in lovely stolen moments.
Tiptoeing through the Burrow at night was no difficulty. She knew all the steps that creaked and she knew who slept lightly and who slept like the dead. As she moved past the room that Fred and George had shared growing up, she felt she wasn’t the only ghost present. Memories of Fred lingered in every corner.
She was sneaking into her brother Ron’s room. Ron wasn’t there, of course. He had gone to Australia with Hermione to find her parents. His room wasn’t vacant though.
Harry Potter slept there.
Harry had not gone to Australia, and that had caused many a fight between Molly Weasley and Ron. Her mother had been happy to let Ron help Hermione as long as Harry was also there, but she did not approve of Ron traveling halfway around the world alone with his girlfriend.
Harry had been willing to go if that was the only way Ron was permitted to go. Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny had not felt it necessary to let Molly know that. Ron and Hermione needed alone time after spending months in a tent with Harry, and Harry and Ginny had needed time to reconnect. Finally, Hermione had announced that she would just go alone, and Molly’s maternal instinct kicked in, and she agreed to allow Ron to accompany her.
This left Harry Potter deliciously unattended. At least during the hours that her mother was asleep.
She opened the door as she heard a loud snore coming from George’s room below. Ron’s door creaked so timing was everything. She slid through and closed the door behind her. Moonlight slanted through the large window, allowing her to see her boyfriend on the camp bed, curled on his side.
It was a tiny bed. Harry had slept in it nearly every summer for the last six years, but he was no longer a boy. At one inch shy of six feet, he had to curl up somewhat to keep his feet from dangling over the edge.
Ginny lifted up the covers on one side so she could get in the bed with him. He woke, stretched slightly.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” she said, sliding in the bed.
He pulled her close to him. His body was always so warm. Was sleeping next to a boy always like cuddling up to a dragon, or was it just Harry? She liked his warmth. After those terrible moments when she had thought he was dead, she took pleasure in his every reminder of his aliveness. She touched him at every opportunity, to her mother’s annoyance, sitting with her knee against his at dinner or brushing his hair from his face with her fingers. If he was tangible, then surely he had to be real.
She felt better already, feeling his body curve around her. The nightmares that had led her up the flights of stairs seemed far away, and the feeling of ghostliness, cold and hollow, was gone. She was once again warm and solid.
She hadn’t told him about Hogwarts yet. He knew that Death Eater Hogwarts had been bad. Neville had told him about the Carrows’ use of Unforgiveables, and she was sure his imagination had filled in some of the gaps, but she wasn’t ready to put words to the experience. She had told him some things, safe things, like the DA forming again, this time under her leadership, and the underground newspaper she and Luna had started.
He knew there were things that she hadn’t told him. He said he would listen when she was ready.
“Bad dream?” he asked.
“Pretty bad.” She didn’t mind admitting it. She knew his dreams were as bad as hers. Sometimes, he told her about his. She didn’t offer any detail about hers, and he was being patient.
“Is it the Carrows you have nightmares about?” he asked.
Okay. Maybe his patience was running out.
“No,” she said honestly. “The Carrows were awful, don’t get me wrong, but the other students were the worst--and in some cases, the best--part of last year. When Unforgiveables become a normal part of school discipline, you get to see everyone’s real faces.”
“I heard the Slytherins were out of control,” Harry said.
“It wasn’t just the Slytherins. If it had, it would have been 3 to 1, which are decent odds, even with Death Eater control.”
He was silent a moment and then he said, “Sometimes, I wish we had brought you along.”
“I had the Trace.”
“So did a lot of Muggleborns who were on the run.”
She’d wondered too, what would have happened if she had gone chasing Horcruxes with them. Would she have exposed them? Or could she have been a help, a fourth mind in brainstorming objects and locations. She probably would have been hurt, but she’d been hurt so many times at Hogwarts that she’d lost count. Would sharing a tent with Harry and his friends brought her closer to him or would it have torn them apart?
Things were good between them now, but also slightly strange. The honesty from Harry was new. The day after Voldemort’s death, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had told a select group of Order members (Kingsley, McGonagall, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill and Fleur, and George) and also Ginny about the Horcruxes, and they’d asked for advice on how much to make public with the Ministry and with the wizarding world in general.
Two days after that, Harry confessed to her the Horcruxes weren’t the full story and he told her about the Hallows, which filled in the more random gaps in the story, like why they had visited Mr. Lovegood and why Dumbledore gave Hermione the gift of Tales of Beedle the Bard. He also talked about life in the tent, of all the times the friendship strained to the breaking point, and of the lonely nights he spent finding her dot on the Marauder’s Map. He said it had been comforting, as he hadn’t known how bad things were at Hogwarts, and he imagined her doing ordinary stuff like studying in the common room or going to Quidditch practice.
Harry was very affectionate these days. As she could not stop touching him, he was the same as if he too needed to confirm that she was alive. He did things for her--small things, like make her tea just how she liked it or he would polish her broom for her--but things she noticed and appreciated.
But he was hesitant too, and very quick to apologize for things. He was definitely aware of what he had put her through in the last year and during the battle, and he seemed afraid that if he messed up one more thing, he would lose her for good. She wasn’t sure how to address it. She wanted him to relax and stop walking on eggshells, but at the same time, she wanted to make it clear that she would accept no more heroic bullshit from him.
“I wish you had brought me along too.”
He ran a hand along her side, and she took it for what it was: an apology. She kissed him so he knew it was accepted.
“We should get some sleep,” she said quietly.
They had now shared a bed at least half a dozen times, but they hadn’t done anything except cuddle, kiss, and on occasion, tentatively explore each other’s bodies.
The first time had been right after the battle. She’d woken in the middle of the night, and she couldn’t recall if it had been a dream, if Harry had really gone into the forest and if he had really come back. She had left her dormitory and snuck into the boys’ seventh year dormitory. She’d pulled back the curtains on Harry’s bed, relieved to find him there asleep. He had woken quickly, grabbing his wand. When he saw it was just her, he’d pushed back the covers in invitation. She’d climbed in, knowing that he was hers again, and she fell asleep in his arms.
Before summer was over and she returned to Hogwarts, Ginny planned to take full advantage of having bedroom access to Harry Potter, but for now, she was okay with the slow pace of their physical relationship. She was still learning Harry’s body, and she enjoyed how alive her body felt with every one of Harry’s caresses. Part of her longed for completion, but she liked knowing they still had many firsts ahead of them, and she didn’t want any of those firsts to blur together, preferring to keep them spaced and distinct.
And there were some fears. Fears of being naked with the only man she wanted to think her beautiful. Fears of pain. Fears of unexpected babies.
But honestly, she was more excited at the idea of giving Harry her virginity than she was fearful. She definitely had no intention of returning to Hogwarts a virgin.
She shifted a bit in the bed, and as she did so, she caught sight of an owl in the tree outside the window.
“Harry, there’s an owl,” she said. “I’m going to let it in.” She figured it must have a message for Harry.
She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. As she did so, the owl rose in flight instead of moving towards the window.
“It’s gone,” she said. “It’s like it was watching us.”
“Owls don’t spy, Gin. It was probably just Errol hunting. Maybe the tree is a good lookout spot for mice,” Harry said.
But the owl hadn’t been Errol, and it definitely hadn’t been Pigwidgeon. It was a larger owl, possibly a tawny. She knew Harry’s explanation of a hunting owl made sense, but she couldn’t help but feel uneasy. The owl hadn’t been looking over the grounds.
It had been peering into the room.
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