|SIYE Time:11:05 on 17th January 2019|
Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Extreme Language, Sexual Situations, Violence
Story is Complete
Summary: AU. Harry hated Ministry balls and functions. He never wanted to attend any of them, and this one was no different. With another twenty eight minutes till he could escape, the time was seeming to drag. Until he met a witty and charming red head.
Hitcount: Story Total: 7674; Chapter Total: 1367
Awards: View Trophy Room
A huge thank you goes to my beta Arnel, for giving me great advice and making this chapter legible. Only an epilogue after this!
Harry watched as Seamus banged his fist against the table of the interrogation room. His partner had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get Tobias Nott to lead them to the missing children. Nott had remained closed mouth for the last hour and a half. Seamus had tried all his normal tricks: friendly Irish Seamus, sympathetic Irish Seamus, and, Harry's personal favorite, angry Irish Seamus.
Nott faced the Auror with a deadpanned expression, letting nothing Seamus did affect him. However, Harry noticed a glint in the older man's eyes. It was a spark of, what he labeled, as triumph. Even though he had been caught, Nott was clearly proud the Aurors didn't know everything.
"He is a tough nut to crack, Potter," Seamus claimed as he walked into the observation room. "He doesn't want to give it away."
Harry let out a deep sigh. They had been holding the Nott duo for almost twenty-four hours, and they were no closer to finding the kidnapped children. Both Tobias and Theodore had given away nothing. If Harry had it his way he would give both men Veritaserum, and forcefully receive the answers he needed. Ever since the end of the war, Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt had banned the use of the potion without special permission. Harry would happily request permission, but the forms took days to document, and the children may not have days."Okay," Harry said pressing his fingers over his eyes for some short bliss. "I'm going to try to talk to Theodore again. He seems more sympathetic than his father."
Seamus nodded. "Just tell me when I can give this guy a good wallop."
Harry released a tense snort, but left the room. The building where they were holding the Notts was small, only having a total of six rooms. Two interrogation rooms, two observation rooms, a meeting room for the Aurors, and a public toilet.
The two interrogation rooms were adjoining making it a quick walk from Tobias' room to Theodore's. Upon entering the second room, Harry could feel the difference in atmosphere. Where Tobias was proud and cocky, his son was nervous and frightened. It was a wonder to Harry how Theodore hadn't betrayed the whereabouts of the children.
Theodore sat at a small table in the middle of the room. His leg bounced as his eyes watched Harry enter the room.
"Hello again, Theo," Harry said pleasantly as he took the chair across from the Nott. "Any chance you want to talk?"
Nott shook his head quickly, his hair flapping slightly from the fast motion. Harry placed his elbow on the table and rested his head on his fist, keeping his eyes on Nott. Harry needed to get something out of this man. Clearly his father wasn't going to give anything away. Theodore was the one who would be the most help, Harry could sense it. His "crime solving gut" told him.
Nott was cleaver, there was no doubt. Just talking to him while he held Harry at wand point had proven that, but it also showed he wasn't a fighter. He was someone who would want to sit back and deal with the backroom appointments. Out of the public eye, all his secrets kept to himself.
A sudden thought struck Harry making him raise his head from its resting position.
"So, Theo," Harry started off conversationally. "You mentioned you would prefer making Amortentia to wand waving, right?"
Nott looked startled, but nodded his agreement.
Harry let out a melodramatic sigh. "I was never very good at potions myself. What was your favorite to brew?"
The skepticism in Nott's features were obvious but he said slowly, "I like Skele-Gro. It's a good challenge, but it's dead useful."
"Skele-Gro, huh. I've never made it myself, but I've used it a few times. Very useful." Harry gave his companion a cheerful smile. "You know what other potion I find handy?" Nott shook his head. "Veritaserum." The little color Nott had in his face left, making him look ghostly.
Harry continued as if he hadn't noticed anything. "Have you ever made it?" Nott gave a brief head jerk. "Ah, so you must know what it does." Harry paused to let the man's mind wonder. "Do you have any secrets you don't want me to know about, Theo?"
It was almost as if physical wheels were turning in Nott's head. Harry could see the fear in his eyes, as he thought of the possibilities.
"If you let me know the kids are, Theo, it will be much better." Harry let out another sigh. "I can make things better for you if you tell me."
Nott squeezed his eyes tightly shut, clearly trying to block out the situation. In a quiet voice he asked, "What about my father?"
"Your father has more than this incident on his rap sheet. You on the other hand…" Harry let his voice wonder off while gazing at Theo expectantly. His patience was rewarded.
Nott started nodding his head, slowly but steadily. Harry waited. If this hadn't worked, he was at a loss at what to do. Finally, after multiple painstaking minutes, Nott admitted in barely over a whisper, "Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park. The hidden door is behind the falls. Just follow the walking path to the main viewing point, walk into the fall itself and say 'No Mudbloods'."
Harry quickly wrote down the instructions. He made a quick signal for Dave to come from behind the invisible viewing room. He handed the paper to his fellow Auror with orders to take Seamus and Leo to the hideout. He told Dave that he would join him at the site, after a call to Robards Dave moved quickly out of the room.
"What happens now?" Nott's voice was gruff, almost as if he had swallowed sandpaper.
Harry glanced at the man. "Well, you're going to get a reduced sentence, but you will still be going Azkaban for a while." Harry paused to collect his own thoughts. "Why?" He couldn't stop himself from asking. "Why did you do it. You're a smart guy. Why did you go along with your father's ideals?"
Nott turned bloodshot eyes on him. "Wouldn't you? If it was your father?"
Harry thought about that for a moment. "The man who raised me never would have put me in that situation. He never would have risked putting me into Azkaban."
Nott glared at him, but his voice faltered slightly, "You say that, but can you be so sure without being put in the same situation?"
Without hesitation, Harry nodded. "Yes."
Overall, the children had been kept in good condition. They were well fed, clean, and kept warm. They were just confused. Their living quarters were dank but they had an Imperiused Muggle man keeping watch over them. The Muggle had been tasked with caring and teaching the children.
The Muggle, whose name was Edward, had been told to teach the children regular classes. Maths, English, Geography, lessons that would be in a normal Muggle school. Nott had wanted the children to ignore their magical aspects. Harry was pleasantly surprised with this. He had expected the children to be in much worse condition.
Harry had Dave take the children to the Irish branch of St. Mungos in Dublin. Then he and the rest of the team went to inform the families. Parents were overjoyed to know that their children were safe. Harry personally escorted the distraught mother from Galway to see her son in Dublin.
Finally, after midnight, the day after the capture of the Notts, Harry returned to the Auror department in London. He was tired, sore, and slightly homesick. If someone had asked him a year ago if he enjoyed long missions that took him out of England, he would have said yes. Now, however, he didn't feel the same.
Before it had been great. He was free to see new places and help people in need. Hermione always claimed he had a "saving people thing", which he had always proven by taking on the missions. When he would return he would be tired and sore, but never homesick. Since Sirius' death, England hadn't held enough for him, but something was different this return trip. He smiled as he thought about the change… Ginny.
She had become so important to him before he left, and now his heart felt a clenching sensation at the mere thought of her. He missed her more than he wanted to admit. While away, in the small time between lying in bed and falling asleep, he would think of her. He would think of the way she held him in her arms, the way her lips felt on his, and he would relive some of their moments together. The kiss on her front step after their first date, was a common set piece.
As if on auto-pilot Harry made his way to his desk. Due to the late hour, Harry hadn't expected to see anyone, but Robards' office light was on. Harry sat in his stiff-back chair for the first time in six months. Merlin, how he missed his chair.
Harry felt as if lightning had coursed through him. Never before had he missed this bloody chair! His mind felt as if it was spinning. Why would he have missed this uncomfortable chair? Never in his two years of being an Auror had he liked being stuck at his desk, except… the three months before this last mission. Being in this chair had meant he could be with Ginny.
That red-headed, freckled, incredible Harpy had made Harry enjoy his awful desk chair. Now the question was, what should he do with this fact?
Harry always considered himself a rash man. He was a dive-in-feet-first, kind of guy. Now, at a quarter to one in the morning, he made a decision. He stood from his desk and walked over to Robards' office.
He knocked on the frame, making the man inside jump. "Potter!" Robards exclaimed his eyes wide. "I didn't know you were coming in tonight. What can I do for you?"
Harry walked to the front of the desk before speaking, "Sir, I would like more desk time."
His boss' eye brows rose high onto his brow. "Really? I never thought you liked desk time."
"I didn't before, but now…" Harry's voice trailed into nonexistence.
Robards gave a little snort. "Merlin, I know that tone. It's a girl, isn't it?" he asked rhetorically. Heaving a sigh, he continued. "Well, Potter, I'm not gonna lie, I'll miss you in the field."
"Yes, sir." Harry had no idea what else to say.
"But," Robards' gave him a sly smile, "I do need a new trainer for new recruits. My current one just retired last week." He gave Harry a quick glance. "Would you be interested?"
Harry nodded quickly. That would be perfect. No more half-year missions out in who knows where. Regular office hours, unless special circumstances were to arise. Just what he was looking for.
Robards' clapped his hands together. "Great! I'll start the paperwork Monday. Now I'm going home and taking the weekend off. You should do the same." He gave Harry a little wink. "Maybe visit that lady friend we talked about."
Blush crept on Harry's face, making Robards' laugh.
Ginny loved the sound of rain pouring onto her roof. The repetitive patter soothed her. She enjoyed the wind that could accompany a storm Now at one in the morning the rain sounded its best, while the fireplace crackled and she had a warm cup of tea.
She had been going over the Harpies' new playbook. Gwenog had added three new plays she wanted to test in their next practice. A couple of rushing techniques and one long pass system.
Ginny placed the book beside her on the couch, and stretched. She felt a cool breeze on her abdomen as her shirt rode slightly higher on her body. She rolled her shoulders to release the tightness she hadn't realized had been there.
Lately, she had been constantly tense. At first, she just thought it was because playoffs were on the horizon. Ever since Harry's last letter, however, she concluded it was more. It was him. Over the course of six months they written every week, but sometimes letters just weren't enough. They had been together for nine months, but only in person for three of them.
It didn't bode well with Ginny. She understood why he was gone and she accepted that his job was busy, so was hers, but six months without physical contact. She wasn't sure she liked that. There was no doubt in her mind that she cared for Harry, but it was almost as if their relationship was long distance. Ginny never liked the idea of long distance. Things could get jumbled in translation. As much as she liked Harry, she couldn't help but question, could she handle the separation?
She put her hand on her locket. Her favorite present any of her brothers ever gave her. It was the perfect gift for her. She opened the small case, and smiled at the picture of her family. They grinned back and waved. Even though the photo was shrunk, Ginny still felt as if it filled the room. It was almost as if her mother was giving her one of her warm embraces every time she looked at the photograph.
Her eyes drifted to the opposing side. The image of her and Harry still brought butterflies to her stomach. The way he looked at her. The way she looked at him. Could she give that up? Should she give it up just because they were apart?
When she was with him it filled her with happiness. It was like she was drowning in joy when she was wrapped in his arms. It just felt so right with Harry, almost as if she was meant to be held by him. Could they work if they were apart for half a year, every year? Ginny's mind drifted to an old saying she had heard a few times: "If you love something set it free. If it comes back it's yours. If not, it was never meant to be." Ginny never really believed in fate, but he felt so worth it. She could make it work, if he came back to her.
A loud knock pulled Ginny out of her pensive thoughts. She glanced at the clock hanging on the wall, fifteen past one in the morning. Who the bloody hell called at someone's house at this hour?
Ginny hurried over to the door. Before she opened the separation between her and the visitor she peeked out of the window next to the door. The caller was tall with dark hair, male. She moved her gaze to his face. She recognized the glint of glasses.
She pulled open the door to reveal Harry Potter standing on her door step, soaking wet from the downpour. "Harry?" Ginny whispered surprised. She had assumed he would have sent her an owl her to tell her he had returned. Never had it crossed her mind that he would arrive at her house after midnight, sopping wet.
He was grinning at her. His eyes were shining with, what she placed as, happiness. "Ginny," his voice was low, "you look incredible."
Ginny looked down at herself. She was wearing an old pair of running shorts and faded tee. Not what she would have envisioned herself wearing when he returned. Not something she would call nice, much less incredible.
"When did you get back?" Her voice was soft but ardent.
Harry looked down at a gold watch on his wrist. "About forty-five minutes ago."
All Ginny could do was stare. 'Wish and it shall appear,' Ginny thought sarcastically. She looked him over. He looked just as good as he had six months ago. His hair was slightly longer, and a beard had appeared along his jawline, but it was still him. Still Harry. Those gorgeous jewel-like eyes boring into her.
Ginny had no idea who made the first move, but suddenly they were linked together. Holding each other in a tight embrace. Her arms around his neck, his around her waist. The way he was holding her was so good, it should have been illegal.
She rested her head on his chest, listening to the steady thump of his heart. "What happened? In your last letter you said things were," She paused trying to remember the word he used. "Murky."
Harry leaned his cheek on the top of her head. "We got a lead about thirty-six hours ago. The last twenty-four was spent trying to get one of the perpetrators to talk." Keeping them pressed to each other, Harry led them to the couch. He sat them down, Ginny practically in his lap. Not that she minded in the slightest.
They remained quiet, locked in their embrace, just relishing the closeness. Touch and smell were the only senses they needed, right now. The feel of his arms and his heart pounding, in tune with her own. His wood-like musk filled her lungs with every breath.
Only three noises could be heard throughout building: rain tapping the roof, the clock ticking over the fireplace, and their breathing. Harry was the first to break their trance-like state. His voice was soft and thoughtful, "We're in love, aren't we." It wasn't a question. He had concluded this. Ginny couldn't argue it either. It was a fact in her mind.
She leaned up and kissed his lips softly, trying to convey her emotions. He tugged her flush to his body and held her. Her head was pressed into his neck where she placed a few more light kisses.
"I missed you," she finally said huskily. "I've decided I don't like you being gone for so long."
Harry gave a light chuckle. "They do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder." He pushed her back slightly from his chest, so he was looking directly in her eyes. "Gin, I fell more in love with you every day I was gone."
Ginny's voice quavered, "Same for me, but that doesn't mean I have to like you being gone. I could love you while you stand right next to me."
Harry smiled at her, a lopsided joyous grin. "Well, you may be forced to deal with that situation. Robards offered me a job training new recruits." He pressed a quick kiss to her cheek. "I took it. Which means, I'll be in England a lot more."
Ginny's heart felt as if it was floating. He wasn't going off on long cases. He was going to be in England, with her. She could feel her lips turn into a smile. "Does that mean you'll have time to see a certain red-head more?"
Harry moved his head so it was positioned on her neck. He put feather light kisses along the length. "I believe so, yeah."
"Great because my brother's been asking about you. He really wants to get that pint with the bloke he met at the Quidditch game a few months ago."
Harry's breath tickled her neck as he laughed through his nose. "That is not the red-head I was hoping to be with." Harry continued his ministrations up her jaw line to her ear. He then whispered, "Charlie sounds pretty nice."
She couldn't contain her laughter, as she put her thumb under his chin, pulling his face in front of hers. "That can be arranged, but for now," her tone was low and sultry, "will I do?"
"Yeah, I think we can make this work, Miss Weasley." Harry closed the already small gap between them.
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