Up in the Air by quinn

Summary: ***Winner of Most Humourous and People's Choice Award in the First Time for Everything Challenge*** After Voldemort's defeat, after a summer of rebuilding... after several long months of Auror training, months spent working hard and missing his girlfriend... Harry is ready for a holiday. Christmas in Romania among the dragons with the Weasleys! Halfway through her final year at Hogwarts, Ginny has been counting down the days. But are any of them prepared for what is involved in fulfilling Arthur's dream of traveling the Muggle way - by plane?

Submitted for the "First Time for Everything" challenge.
Rating: PG starstarstarstarstar
Categories: First Time for Everything Challenge (2019-2), First Time For Everything Challenge (2019-2)
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2019.08.11
Updated: 2019.08.18


Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Flightplan
Chapter 2: Chapter 2: The Terminal
Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Turbulence
Chapter 4: Chapter 4: Final Descent

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Flightplan

Author's Notes: It's been a long time! But in honor of Ginny's birthday and the tiny window of free time I found, I thought I'd try to slip an entry into this challenge. Welcome aboard! We'll be alternating between Harry's and Ginny's point of view. Strap in, no smoking in the bathrooms, and thank you for flying.

Harry fiddled with the envelope in his hands, staring at the clock above the fireplace. It was a charming clock, just right for their small mantle, a housewarming gift from Arthur and Molly Weasley when Harry and Ron had first moved into the flat back in August.

The clock had four hands. Ron’s face grimaced slightly from the hand pointed firmly at “work.” His own face grinned from a hand set firmly on “home.” It was a relaxed grin, one that didn’t match his current sense of anxious anticipation.

But he wasn’t looking at his face. His eyes were fixed on the hand that was just out of sight, barely visible behind another hand… the one on which Hermione’s face could be seen, too engrossed in whatever scroll or book her portrait was staring down at to notice his impatient gaze.

He was staring at the hand beneath Hermione’s, just a glimpse of long red hair, a sliver of a freckled cheek. Both hands were pointed toward “school…” but they wouldn’t be for much longer.

After almost four months of Auror training, four months apart from her, the holiday was about to begin.

“Explain to me again… why did you get clearance to Floo to their flat, while I am stuck riding the train?” Hermione stood behind Ginny as she tossed her robes into her trunk and tugged up her jeans.

Ginny flashed a grin over her shoulder at her frowning friend. “Because you and my big brother will have the place to yourselves for the entire holiday. Harry and I just get these few hours before we take off with Mum and Dad.”

“Ginny, I still think that you —“

“AND if you make a peep about it, I’ll write your parents that you aren’t staying here to do an independent study, but that you are actually staying at your boyfriend’s house, and the only thing you’re studying is —“

“FINE. Fine. No need to get nasty.” Hermione folded her arms as Ginny smiled sweetly at her, before returning to tossing things haphazardly into her trunk. Hermione watched, barely concealing her disdain for the crumpled jumble. “How then?”

Ginny paused, halfway through sniffing a shirt. “How what?”

Hermione sighed. “How did you get clearance to use the Floo? I wrote asking for permission three times this term, and was never approved. Emergency use only. I even tried the hero card.”

Ginny raised an eyebrow. “How’d that go?”

Hermione adopted a stern face and her best Scottish accent. “Heroes can wait for romantic trysts with their hero boyfriends until heroes are on holiday.”

Ginny snorted and tossed the shirt into the trunk. “Sounds about right.”

Hermione ripped the next shirt from her hands. “So? How?”

Ginny batted her eyes. “McGonagall loves me. You know that.”

She reached for the shirt and Hermione held it away, a skeptical look on her face.

Ginny narrowed her eyes, her fisted hands on her hips. “Fine. I threatened to throw the next match. McGonagall invited the Harpies — she taught them all, apparently she has season tickets — and she’d be mortified if Gryffindor lost to Hufflepuff with her distinguished guests watching.”

Hermione scoffed. “You wouldn’t do that…”

Ginny smirked. “I learned to bluff before I learned to walk.” She turned back to her trunk, slamming it shut. “Oh, and that’s your shirt. I borrowed it last week. Thanks.” She flicked her wand and the trunk jumped up to follow her as she blew out of the room, just pausing a moment to plant a kiss on Hermione’s cheek on her way past. “Have a good holiday!”

Hermione looked down at the frumpled blouse, then over at her already neatly packed trunk. She shook her head with a sigh. “Good luck with that one, Harry.”

The clock’s hidden hand finally slid into view, peaking out from behind Hermione with a playful smirk as it ticked over to traveling. At the same moment, green flames burst into life. Harry swallowed, standing up a little straighter. Why was his heart so noisy? A trunk slid into the room, dragging ashes across the wood floor. Then Ginny stepped through.

She blinked in the dim light, but it took only a moment for her eyes to find his. They stood still, neither moving for a long moment.

Harry broke the silence. “Uh… hi.”

A smile tugged one side of her mouth. “Hi.”

He nodded slowly, hands still fiddling with the envelope. He shoved it into his back pocket. “So, you made it then. Just like we planned.”

Ginny nodded along with him, a slight flush to her cheeks.

Harry was distracted by how the color complimented the freckles across her nose. Had it gotten warmer? She was looking curiously at him — had she said something? “What?”

She grinned, shaking her head. “I said… is Ron at work?”

He nodded. “Yeah… he thinks I stayed home to clean, and that I’m picking you and Hermione up at the station later today.”

She took a step closer. “So… we’re alone?”

Harry nodded. Alone. Just like the plan. The plan… was suddenly fuzzy now that Ginny was no longer an idea in his mind, she was a living, breathing person… a person who kept stepping closer to him. He swallowed again. What was the plan again?

“Harry?” She was so close… almost touching him.


“Now is when you kiss me.”

It didn’t take Harry much longer to remember the plan.

A good bit later, Ginny was happily snuggled into Harry’s side as they shared a butterbeer in the flat’s small kitchen. “When do we have to leave?”

Harry glanced down at his watch. “We have another couple hours… but we have to go straight from the train to the Burrow. Your dad got a car to take us all to the airport.”

She shook her head. “I still can’t believe you got Mum to agree to all this.”

He shrugged. “Why wouldn’t she? She’s always talked about having Christmas with Charlie in Romania.”

Ginny shook her head firmly. “Not what I mean.” She slipped the envelope from his back pocket, which was somehow where her hand had found itself. She batted him on the nose with it. “I mean this. These tickets you bought.”

He wrapped a hand around her wrist and lifted it, kissing the tip. “Come on, Gin. You’ve traveled before. Egypt, right? I’ve never even left the country.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “But a plane, Harry.”

Harry smiled. “My first time for that, too.”

She leaned back, her incredulous eyes flashing. “It’s all of our first times, Harry. Do you even know how Muggles make those things work?” She watched as he wrinkled his nose thoughtfully, but she didn’t let that thought get far. “NO. No you don’t, because it makes no sense. Huge metal things can’t fly without magic. And you’re dragging half my family onto one of those deathtraps.”

He leaned back, exasperation on his face. “Me? Ginny, you KNOW this is for your dad. After he gave me… you know… the talk about us, he asked if I would help talk your mum into this. And I couldn’t really say no…”

She groaned, leaning back alongside him. Of course her Dad had played him. How could her mum say no to her favorite second-hand son when he asked them to go on the vacation he’d never had as a boy? “If you’re going to be a Weasley, Harry, you need to get better at these games.”

He quirked his head. “A Weasley?”

She smirked. “Don’t worry, Potter. I’m not proposing… yet.” She raised a playful eyebrow. “What were you saying about having a couple hours left?”

Back to index

Chapter 2: Chapter 2: The Terminal

Harry dragged the two trunks over to the Ministry car, joining Arthur who was already loading bags into the trunk. He glanced over a shoulder and dropped the bags with a happy shout, wrapping Harry in a hug.

“I was just here this morning, Mr. Weasley…”

Arthur pulled back, slapping Harry on the shoulder. “And now you are back! Ready to fly, Harry?”

Harry rubbed the back of his neck. “Looking forward to it.”

Arthur smiled broadly, going back to the task of loading the car. “Where is Ginny?”

“She’s already inside. Wanted to see George and Mrs. Weasley, I suppose.”

Arthur finished loading, leaning against the car. “And what am I, yesterday’s news?” He smiled with a sigh. “Molly’s always gotten first hugs. It’s because she has treats. And I’m sure Ginny’s hungry… Not like she had a chance to get anything on the Hogwarts Express, did she?”

Harry froze, going pale. “Mr. Weasley, I… how did you find out?”

Arthur raised an eyebrow as Harry heard footsteps behind him.

“Tut tut, Harry. He doesn’t know anything, unless your face just told him.” Harry turned with a grin. George Weasley nodded to him with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Dad thinks he’s clever. He’ll trick you into getting yourself in trouble. Don’t trust him.”

Arthur wrapped an arm around Harry. “And what, he should trust you?”

George shrugged. “I’m sure I’ll hear more than I want. Harry talks in his sleep.” Harry stammered, but George cut him off. “And you WILL be sleeping in Charlie’s room, with Charlie and me… I find your cot empty ONE TIME and you’re a test subject for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes all new Diminishing Dust… a very specific formula. Seems to only affect — “

Arthur coughed. “I think he gets the picture, George.”

“It’d be nice to do some more testing on it. Merlin knows I’m not going to test it on myself…. I haven’t found a way to reverse it yet.”

“Haven’t found a way to reverse what?” Molly’s voice was suspicious as she joined the group by the car, Ginny just behind her with a mouthful of tart. “You’d better not be trying to drive that car, George.”

George pouted. “Ah, Mum. You know how to ruin a bloke’s fun. I’ll sit in the back… between Harry and Ginny.”

Ginny scoffed. “I don’t think —“

Molly nodded her approval. “That sounds perfect. You can help each other behave. I’ll have your wands if you don’t.”

Arthur cleared his throat. “Actually, Molly… I’ll be needing all of your wands.”

“What?!” The word, shouted in chorus, made Arthur wince.

“Now that we’re all ready to go, I’ve got a few last minute instructions. I checked in with Fowley over in the Muggle Relations Department, and it turns out you can’t bring wands on planes.”

Molly’s jaw was set. “Arthur, you can’t be serious.”

Ginny and George had stepped back, holding their wands away from their father.

Arthur nodded sheepishly. “Apparently, they interfere with the Muggle security systems and the plane’s gravitational systems…”

Harry held up a finger. “I think that’s navigational systems, Mr. Weasley.”

Ginny gaped at Harry. “YOU. You KNEW about this? You’re dragging us into a metal Muggle deathtube without our wands?”

Harry held up a hand. “That seems a bit over the top, Gin…”

George shook his head slowly. “Sounds about right to me.”

“Actually,” Arthur interjected, “not just wands. All magical items need to go in this case.” He tapped it with his toe. “We can get them out after we land in Romania.”

Molly held a hand to her temple. “And you waited until now to tell me? Arthur Weasley, I swear if you make me…”

Arthur glanced at Harry, nodding, his eyes communicating that it was time to pull out the big guns. Harry caught the signal and cleared his throat.

“We don’t have to go, Mrs. Weasley. It’s okay. The tickets can’t be refunded… but that doesn’t matter. Besides… I’m sure Dudley lied about how amazing planes were after all those vacations… the ones where they left me behind…”

Molly’s anger melted immediately. Before Ginny and George could react, she swiped their wands and pressed all three into Arthur’s hands, then pulled Harry into a hug that squeezed the air from his lungs. “Nonsense, dear. I’m sure it will be lovely.”

She broke the hug, a hand on his cheek, then stepped past her two children, looks of betrayal and disbelief on their faces. “Come on, you two. We’ve got to get to the airport! We have a plane to catch!” She climbed into the car, the door closing with a bang.

Ginny glared at him. It took a moment for words to come. “You… you’re lucky George is sitting between us, Potter.” She turned, climbing into the car.

Harry glanced at George, surprised at the glimmer in his eyes… was that respect? “Not bad. We’ll make a Weasley out of you yet.” George turned to climb into the middle seat.

“Well, Harry? Shall we?”

Harry nodded. “But… Mr. Weasley? George was joking about that Diminishing Dust, wasn’t he?”

Arthur looked grim. “Joking? Probably. I’d still keep an eye on my tea if I were you.”

Ginny sat on the bench on the other side of security, grumbling as she retied her shoes. Harry put an arm around her and she flinched away. “Hands off, Potter. I’m still mad at you.”

He sighed. “Gin, you know I —“

Her eyes flashed up at him. “Don’t you Gin me. Where did they take George?”

Harry looked over to the office where the security officer had taken George, speaking in a very low voice. “Well… I imagine they are searching him. He must have had some sort of explosive residue on his hands…”

Ginny pinched him in the arm. “It’s George!” Her whisper carried venom… she wasn’t sure if that was what made Harry wince, or if it was her pinch. She didn’t really care. “Of course he has explosive residue on his hands!”

Molly joined them, a forced smile on her face. “Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? Ginny, dear, will you help me pry your father away from the guards? He won’t let up with his questions about their X rated machines…”

Harry blushed. “Um, I think you mean…”

Ginny elbowed him. “Yes, Mother. Harry and I will both go look at the X rated machines with Dad.”

Molly smiled. “Thank you, dear.” She glanced around. “Where’s your brother?”

Harry couldn’t believe how long two hours in an airport could feel. Harry still wasn’t sure how George had gotten through security — he had emerged from the office alone, the sound of wild laughter echoing from behind him. Harry had asked, but George had only shot him a wink.

He sat in the terminal, waiting for the call to board. It had to be soon. Arthur sat next to him, excitedly pointing at every take off and landing, asking Harry how the various equipment worked, from the de-icing to the baggage belts loading the planes… Harry had taken to making up answers to pass the time.

“Gerbils, Mr. Weasley. Hundreds of gerbils in hundreds of wheels, all running together. Those make the belt move up and the bags go into the plane.”

Ginny had dragged Molly to go look at the shops, though Harry has sure it had little to do with a desire to browse high-end perfume and watches. Molly had gasped and groaned with every take off and landing they watched… And Ginny didn’t look much better.

And George… well, Harry had no idea where he was.

“You really don’t mind, Harry? I know it’s your first flight too, but we only have one window seat, and I’ve always…”

Harry smiled. “I don’t mind, Mr. Weasley.” He glanced at his watch. Only an hour and a half until boarding.

Back to index

Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Turbulence

“Ginevra! Memorize this!” Ginny looked across the aisle toward her mother, who was waving what looked to be some sort of plastic comic book. “It’s what to do when the plane crashes! See?” She stabbed at the calm faces on the sheet. “They’re used to it! These things must go down all the time.”

George leaned out from the other side of their mother. “I hope we crash over water. Gin, there’s a slide!”

Molly batted him with the card. “Arthur! Did you hear what your son just said?

Arthur was on the other side of George, face glued to the tiny window. “Hmm? Oh yes. Look, Molly! The engine, it just hangs from the wing! Amazing…”

Ginny felt a hand on her arm and pulled away turning back to see a wincing Harry on her other side. “I hope you’re happy, Potter.”

He shrugged. “I dunno. I get to be squeezed in next to you for a few hours. Could be worse.”

She rolled her eyes. “A lot of comfort that is if we all die.”

He smiled. “If you’re going to die, it’s better to be surrounded by people you love.”

She raised an eyebrow, eyes flashing. “Oh sure, Harry “The Boy Who Lived and Died and Lived Again” Potter is perfectly comfortable dragging us…”

He leaned back his chair, sighing. “Come on Gin. I mean, look at this guy. He seems relaxed.” He leaned back, looking at the person on the other side of him. The man’s eyes were covered by a sleep mask, and small yellow blobs plugged his ears. It looked like he was already asleep.

“Harry… He probably did that so he doesn’t have to know he’s gonna die if the plane starts to go down…”

He rolled his eyes. “You are so dramatic. Gin, millions of people fly every day. It’s plenty safe.”

She poked him in the arm. “This coming from the one who thought it was plenty safe to ride a dragon from the most secure bank in London over -”

“Gin, that’s not the same at —“

“No. Harry, I love you, but you’re the last person I’d trust to decide if something is safe or not.” Her eyes glinted, but a small smile tugged at his face. She wrinkled her nose. “What?”

He glanced down at her hand next to his. “I mean… I’ve read those words in your letters, but to hear your voice say it…”

She raised an eyebrow. “That you’re rubbish at knowing what’s safe?”

He shook his head, still grinning as he looked up at her again. “I love you, too, Gin.”

She glared at him, willing herself to still be angry even as his crooked smile and playful green eyes melted her inside.

“You… you’re a lost cause, Potter.”

He laced his fingers through hers. “I’m your lost cause, Weasley.” He kissed her hand.

“Excuse me sir, you need to put your seat up before takeoff.” The moment was broken as the flight attendant leaned over between them and adjusted Harry’s seat.

Harry let his eyes drift shut, his fingers still laced through Ginny’s. Just a few more hours, then they’d be on the ground in Romania. Just a few more hours and he’d be preparing for Christmas with this family that he loved, surrounded by dragons… this was what normal was like now. He smiled.

The smile only lasted for a moment before it was forced into a wince. He jerked his arm as what felt like five daggers stabbed into him just above his wrist. His eyes snapped open to see Ginny’s hand, fingernails digging into his skin as she gripped him and his chair, breathing hard.

“Ginny, what’s —“

She shook her head, eyes flicking around the cabin. Her voice was low, but there was panic underneath. “I can’t do this Harry, I can’t.”

The plane was gently rolling to the runway, the flight attendant demonstrating how seatbelts work. Across the aisle, George was snickering as his mother leaned across him, trying to get her husband to stop raising his hand. “You don’t need to ask that, Arthur! I’m trying to hear what she’s saying!”

Harry looked back at Ginny. “Of course you can. You’ve flown before. You’re probably the best flyer I know.”

Her eyes locked onto his, wide and panicky. “Not the same, Harry. On a broom, I’m in control. I have no control here. We’re going to be in the sky with no brooms, no wands. I can’t fly, Harry.” She looked down at the floor, rubbing her trainer-clad foot on the carpet. “This isn’t the ground. There’s gonna be thousands of feet of air under this.”

Harry’s mouth quirked thoughtfully. “Actually, I think our luggage is under us. But under that… yeah. OW!” Harry yelped as her nails dug in more.

“The luggage! Harry, all those bags! It must be so heavy! We’re going to fall, we’re going to crash…”

He pried her fingers from his wrist, holding her hand in both of his, stroking her skin. He couldn’t tell if it was calming for her, or if she even noticed. She was staring straight ahead at the seat back in front of her, breathing quickly.

“Long slow breaths, Gin. Come on, you’re one of the bravest people —“

She turned to him, eyes blazing. “Harry, we are trapped. Trapped in this thing until it lands. No control over where it goes or what happens to it. I can’t, Harry.”

He met her eyes, and he saw fear. He saw the same deep brown eyes that had met his in the Chamber of Secrets all those years ago… eyes full of shame, confusion, fear… eyes full of a fierce determination to never let anyone control her again.

He leaned close, whispering in her ear. “You’re ok. I’m here. Your family is here. You are fully in control of you, even if you can’t fly the plane, okay?”

She took a slow breath. “If it starts to go down… we will know. We’ll spend the whole time knowing what’s coming.”

Harry nodded. “And I’ll be with you. But that’s not happening, Gin. I promise.”

She stared at him, and some of the fear seemed to fade… the determination coming back to the fore.

He smiled, stroking her cheek. “Better?”

She shook her head, staring forward again. “No, you’re still the worst.”

He grinned. “Come on, Gin…”

She turned to him with an only slightly forced smirk. “You can ‘Come on, Gin,’ at me when we land.”

The plane roared and began to race forward down the runway, and Harry yelped as Ginny’s claws found his arm again. Just a few more hours, he told himself with a grimace.

“Mr. Weasley? I’m so sorry to hear about your illness, sir.” Ginny frowned at the voice of the flight attendant in the aisle next to her, opening her eyes from the not-quite-nap she’d been trying to manage since they had reached cruising altitude.

Molly sat up straighter. “Arthur? What does she —“

“Illness? I don’t —“

“It’s okay, dear Mother, Father,” George’s voice interrupted. “I talked to them before the flight. They know all about it.”

“They do?”

“Oh yes, and I told them about your lifelong dream to fly a plane.” George flashed the attendant a heartbroken face. “It’s just… this is probably our last trip as a family, and —“

“George Weasley….” Molly’s voice came from between grinding teeth. “What did you…”

“It’s alright, Mrs. Weasley. We get requests like this all the time.” The attendant gestured forward in the cabin. “Mr. Weasley, would you like to come up to cockpit and meet the flight crew?”

Arthur gaped for a moment, then was fumbling with the buckle and climbing over his son and wife. “So kind of you to do this for a dying man… who knows how many healthy days I have left!”

Molly glared at George as he stood as well, watching as the flight attendant led Arthur forward. He stretched, tossing his mother a wink. “Don’t worry, Mum. I’ll make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble.” He turned and followed them to the cockpit.

Ginny turned and locked eyes with her mother. Her eyes burned. “Ginevra… your boyfriend had better be enjoying his lifelong dream of flying on a plane…”

She turned to see Harry, snoring softly in the seat next to her.

Harry jerked awake as the plane jumped in the air around them. He glanced over at Ginny, who was gripping the arms of her seat… apparently, she’d generously given his wrist a break.

He yawned. “More turbulence?”

She nodded, not looking at him. A sound like a bell sounded over the speakers as the lights flicked out, then back on. Then the seatbelt light came on. Harry glanced out the window at the clouds below, then back at Ginny. The plane continued to jump and dip around them, and his stomach flipped.

He laughed nervously. “They said this is normal.”

She nodded again, still not looking at him.

He grabbed the arms as well as the plane jumped through a particularly bumpy patch. “Woah… reminds me of first year when Quirrell jinxed my broom.”

Her eyes closed, her body tense, her knuckles white on the seat arms. “Stop talking, Harry.”

The plane dipped hard, turned, and pulled up. There were a few shouts throughout the cabin. The lights flashed again, the bell sounded, and then voices blared over the speakers.

“No! I think it’s this one!”

“George, what did you do?”

“That switch says cabin, why’d you switch that on?”

“I thought it would take us to a cabin!”

“Dad, just… no.”

The voices stopped with a loud click, and the plane jumped again. Harry looked over, noticing for the first time the two empty seats across the aisle. Molly sat there alone, clutching the colorful plastic sheet, mumbling to herself. “I’ll never see my grandchildren. Two wars, countless battles, and it’s a plane that does me in…”

Harry and Ginny turned to each other, their eyes locking in a silent shared moment of panic. Then they were both scrambling to unbuckle their straps and weaving their way toward the front of the now bucking plane.

A flight attendant strapped in up front rose a hand to stop them. “The captain has turned on the seatbelt light, you need to return to your seats…”

Ginny glared at the woman. “Listen here —“

Harry put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. Months of training kicked in, and he put on the calm, confident face of an Auror. He pulled a badge from his pocket, flashing it only for a moment before tucking it away. “Stand down, citizen. Official business.”

The flight attendant looked confused for a moment, but she was distracted as the plane swooped again. The two pushed their way into the cockpit.

There were two men on the floor, shoved together into a corner behind the seats… large grins on their sleeping faces. Arthur leaned over the controls, staring at the vast array in a daze. George looked over his shoulder at them from the other seat, where he sat… apparently flying the plane.

“Hey there, Gin! Harry! Glad you could make it!” He flashed them a sheepish grin. “Hypothetically, do either of you know how to fly a plane?”

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Chapter 4: Chapter 4: Final Descent

Author's Notes: Thanks to the admins for keeping the challenge open when the site came back online! It was good to jump back into a challenge after a long hiatus. Enjoy the last chapter - hope to see you next challenge!

Harry braced himself against the door behind him as the plan lurched again. George yelped, turning back to the front. George laughed nervously. “Touchy girl, isn’t she?”

Ginny practically pounced on her brother, dragging him back in the crowded cockpit to press him into the door next to Harry and pointing at the two men, sleeping with sloppy grins. “WHAT did you DO?

The plane began leaning to the side, and Harry pulled himself into the seat, leaving Ginny to deal with George. Harry looked at the absurd array of dials, switches, and panels.

He glanced over at Mr. Weasley who pointed at a small switch. “So far, I’ve figured out that this switch does this.” A small light above his head went off and on.

“That’s brilliant, Mr. Weasley. Keep it up.” He turned his attention back to the controls… the one in front of him was a mix between a steering wheel and a joystick from one of Dudley’s computer games… maybe…

He wrapped his hands around it, taking a deep breath. Flying had always felt as natural as breathing. He could feel the air currents, he understood his weight, balance… he could fly a broomstick without having to think about it. Why shouldn’t this be the same?

He gently pulled, imagining the plane was an extension of himself… and the plane jolted and bumped. It was decidedly not like flying a broom. It was sluggish and bulky. He gritted his teeth, trying to focus. Ginny’s voice broke through his concentration.

“And what, you thought it would be funny to give these experimental candies to the only ones who knew how to fly the plane?”

George scoffed. “That’s not fair… usually they just make people, you know… relax, laugh. Hardly more than a Draught of Peace, but with a hint of giggle!”

Arthur gave a shout of triumph, and Harry jumped, pulling the plane into a short climb. Arthur pointed to a lever. “This section of controls is labeled, ‘Passenger Comfort!’ I’m turning it up, should tone down some of the shouting back there…”

Harry’s jaw was clenched in the short silence that followed before Ginny was tearing into her brother again.

“And have you ever tested them on Muggles before?”

“Sure… back at the airport…”

“And is there an antidote?”

“Of course there is. I don’t have any, but it never lasts more than an hour or so. But anyway, I was thinking of calling them ContentMints… what do you think?”

Her voice was a low growl. “I think you’d better not be asking me if I like the stupid name of your stupid candy when it’s about to get us killed.”

He tutted. “Now now, sister, I think you’re a bit worked up. Here, have a ContentMint.”

“Let me tell you where you can put that tin…”

Arthur gasped. “I say, there are ear muffs over here!”

Harry groaned. It was no good. He couldn’t see anything, and all the information on the dials meant nothing to him. “We’ve got to get lower, maybe under the clouds. I can’t see anything! Maybe down there I can see a field or a runway or something…”

He leaned forward on the controls, and the plane dove. Yelps sounded from the cabin behind them.

George leaned over Harry’s shoulder, grasping his seat. “And imagine what they’d sound like if Dad hadn’t turned up their comfort!”

Arthur laid a hand on Harry’s arm. “These earmuffs — they can talk! Hello? Can you hear me, voice?”

George pointed at a flashing light. “That looks important.”

Ginny pulled George back, leaning into Harry’s view. “Let me fly it. You help George with these pilots. Don’t they teach you how to do this in Auror training?”

He looked back at her, eyebrow raised. “They sure do. With wands.”

She sighed. “Whatever, just let me fly the thing before I murder my brother.”

Ginny sat at the controls, feeling just as lost as Harry had been. They were now in the clouds — she could see nothing. And her father seemed to be unable to contribute anything, lost in conversation with his new earmuffs.

“Hmm? Flight path? Well that’s just it, we can’t really see the path. We’re actually very high in the air.”

Ginny had at least managed to stop the plane from jerking around like a Hippogriff trying to throw its rider. She did her best to focus on that, even as her father rambled on. “The pilot? Oh no, they seem to be sleeping. Is there a simple way to get off the plane?”

Ginny let out a dark chuckle. “Sure, if you can walk through walls and fly without a broom…”

Arthur shook his head, still in his own conversation. “You see, that’s the thing. No one knows how to do that.” He paused.
“Me? Oh, well… thank you! You sound like an intelligent fellow as well.”

One of the pilots groaned behind her, then George’s voice. “Eh, I didn’t think that would work. Looks funny though, doesn’t it?”

Harry sounded strained. “Honestly, George.”

Her father looked over at her. “Hmm? Right now, my daughter. She’s an excellent flier, just not with planes, apparently.”

She scowled at him, the plane dipping as she turned back to the cloud outside.

“I can ask.” Arthur laid a hand on her shoulder. “Ginny, dear… Do you mind if I give it a shot?”

“Give what a shot?” She didn't look up at him. That damn light was flashing again.

His voice was eager. “It’s just that these earmuffs say they know how to land the plane… They say I can do it, they’ll guide me through it… but I need you to to let go of the controls.”

Ginny looked up at her father’s earnest face. She looked back at Harry and George, still trying to revive the sleeping men who should have been flying the plane. She looked out the window, out at the featureless mess of cloud all around them. Her heart was pounding. She didn’t know how to fly this thing, but the idea of handing over the controls to someone else… someone who was as likely to crash it as she was… Her breathing became faster, her eyes focusing like tunnels into the grey outside.

“Ginny. Dear.” She looked at her father. “Trust me. Let go.”

And she did.

Harry stood behind the seat, watching a long stripe came into view ahead… a runway, a place to land. An airport. Arthur had guided them here, chatting without ceasing to the one guiding him in.

He had new nail marks on his hand from where Ginny held it.

Arthur glanced back over his shoulder. “Harry, the earmuffs say to tell everyone to buckle up, be a good lad?”

Harry nodded, eager for something he could do to help. He opened the cabin door and found himself face to face with Molly Weasley, her face red with fury. “What in Merlin’s name!”

Harry steered her away from the cockpit, gesturing toward the people shouting, pressed against windows, out of their seats. “Mrs. Weasley, it’s very important that we everyone to strap in!”

She gaped at him. “Strap in? They are panicking!”

George appeared next to them, thrusting a box of candies into her hands. “Give this to anyone who’s too much to handle, should calm them down!”

Molly looked at the tin with distrust, then back at George. “We will be talking about these later.

The following moments were a muddled mess as Harry moved through the jostling cabin, helping people to their seats. It got easier when the flight attendants joined in to help, telling passengers to follow Harry’s directions, as he was some sort of government agent… when people heard this, most of them appeared to relax.

About halfway through the cabin, the speaker blared to life with George’s voice. “Acting Captain’s Assistant here, the ground’s coming up pretty fast, so… take a look at your plane comic and strike a landing pose!”

Harry glanced out the window. He could see buildings, trees… the ground was so much closer than it had been a minute ago! Muffled voices continued to sound over the speakers, but they were drowned out by all of the shouts from the cabin.

As people around him braced themselves in their seats, Harry fell into his own. He fumbled with the seatbelt as the plane jolted into the ground, then bounced, wobbled wildly… and then it settled on the ground as it raced down the concrete path. The shouts in the cabin faded, a stunned silence filling the plane as everyone seemed shocked to be alive.

Mr. Weasley’s voice rang out, audible once more over the speakers. “Ah. Now I see the flight path. It’d be much easier if you could put it in the sky. We’re on the ground now.”

Then George’s voice burst over his father’s. “Ok, when the plane stops, whoever is sitting by the door with the slide needs to go open it! Acting Assistant Captain signing off!”

Harry leaned back with a sigh, bumping the shoulder of the man next to him. “Oh, sorry mate.” He glanced over at the man, who was still snoring in his sleep mask and ear plugs.

Ginny had never reveled in the solid feeling of pavement under her trainers before… but she wondered if she would ever be able to take it for granted again. She looked over at the plane, bright yellow slide still hanging from the door. A short distance away, people in uniforms were questioning passengers and the crew, and a small mass of them had pulled her father and brother away almost immediately.

Harry stepped up beside her, slipping a hand around her waist. She looked up at him, a smirk on her lips. “Say it, Potter.”

He sighed, mumbling something.

“Sorry, I missed that.”

He rolled his eyes. “You were right.”

She nodded, leaning into him. “I always am. Remember that next time.”

His eyebrows shot up. “Next time? As in, next time we’re on a plane?”

She scowled. “Never again, Potter. Never.”

A small group of the uniformed people walked past, gripping the arms of two very groggy looking pilots. She caught slurred words from of one of them, speaking earnestly to the one leading him toward the building. “No, really. We both only had one or two drinks… maybe three.”

They turned as footsteps approached from behind. Arthur and George were sporting matching grins.

Arthur wrapped his arms around Ginny. “Good news! They’ve booked us on a flight the rest of the way to Romania in three hours, and I get to fly free on British Air for the rest of my life! I’m a hero, they said!”

“What did you say?” Ginny glanced over to where her mother stood, jaw set and eyes blazing. “I know I didn’t just hear you say…”

“They… they think I’m a hero?” He smiled sheepishly. She turned on her heel and walked away.

“Molly? Molly dear, come back!” He jogged after her.

Ginny sighed. At least it felt like a Weasley family vacation. She looked up as George clapped Harry on the arm. “Thanks for making this happen, Harry.”

Harry shook his head, holding up his hands. “Oh no, you’re not putting this on me…”

Ginny grinned. “I am.”

George nodded. “You know… I couldn’t imagine a holiday without Fred… but I’m actually glad I came.” He ruffled Harry’s hair. “We’ll make a Weasley out of you, yet.”

Hands in his pockets, George turned to follow after his father, still jogging to catch up. Ginny felt a lump in her throat, watching George walk alone still looked wrong to her… but there was a bounce in his step again.

She turned to where Harry stood near her, watching George with thoughtful eyes. Then he looked at her, a playful smile on his lips. “And to think… this is just the first day of the holiday. I can’t even imagine what you have planned for tomorrow!”

She leaned into him, hair tickling her face and his as a jet passed just overhead. “I think I’m ready to take my hands off the broomstick, love.” She kissed him, pulling back with a contented smile. “Here’s to whatever comes next.”

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