When Ginny and Harry Eloped-- Sort Of by GryffindorHealer
3 March, 2002
Harry Potter slipped the magically shrunken shopping bag into his pocket, stepped out of Quality Quidditch into Diagon Alley, and stopped in the warm sun under a brilliant blue sky. He inhaled a slow, deep breath of chill air, luxuriating in the myriad smells of Tulip, Dogs Mercury, and Primrose. This first truly glorious day proved Spring finally defeated the truly horrible winter just past, the world emerging from its frigid hibernation. It’s too nice, he decided, I’m walking to the Leaky Cauldron.
And thus, as it so often does, upon what seemed a simple, small decision did the future turn.
Harry set off toward the Leaky Cauldron, strolling past shops and shoppers. While not as crowded as it would be during Easter hols, he meandered through clots of people stepping out from greengrocers and milliners, even a hardy few coming from the reopened Fortesques.
An older wizard emerged from Bartemy's Blooms, crossed the Alley, and handed a bouquet of daffodils, calandine, and violets to an older witch. Harry watched her eyes light up as she took the bouquet from him, hugging him close.
That’ll be Gin and I one day, he thought.
He paused outside Flourish & Blots briefly, making a mental note to tell Hermione that A History of Magic in the North American Colonies was out. He almost made it to Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes when the ambush started.
“Harry Potter, is it true you and Ginny Weasley are engaged to marry?” “Have you and Ginny set a date yet?” “What can you tell us…” “Do you have any leads…” “Where will you and Ginny…”
Bloody hell, Harry thought. The bedlam grew louder as the gaggle of reporters descended on him. Starting the centering breaths Fleur taught him when she started as his press secretary, he turned to them starting to feel and certainly looking a lot calmer. He raised his arms, palms outward.
“Hold on, one at a time please so I can hear you. I’m on my way to a meeting, so only one question each, please,” he called out.
“Harry, is it true you and Ginny Weasley are engaged?”
“Yes,” he said. “Next.”
“What can you tell us about the Hampstead abductions? Any leads?”
“I can tell you it’s an ongoing investigation and nothing further. Next.”
“Have you and Ginny set a date yet?”
“What do you think of the Harpies chances vs Puddlemere, upcoming? The only undefeated teams this season.”
“I should think somewhere between quite good to brilliantly excellent, actually,” he replied, to a response of laughter. The door to WWW opened behind him.
“Wotcher, Harry,” said George.
“Hullo George.” George turned to the reporters.
“Thank you, ladies and gents, but you heard Harry, he’s meeting with me. And as you know, time is money, so no further questions at this time. Harry,” he finished, opening the shop door, “after you.”
Babble broke out, shouted questions tumbling over themselves as they stepped into WWW. The click of the door latch cut them off as the anti-Press wards Bill and George put into place years back kicked in. Angelina waved from the counter where she placed a purchase into a bright green bag. Several other customers wandered about.
“Hi, Harry,” Angelina grinned at him as they came up to the counter. The customer she’s just helped did a double take looking up, which Harry politely didn’t notice, then hurried out of the shop. No doubt later she’d regale her friends with the story “I saw Harry Potter today…”
“Thanks for the rescue, George. Great timing.”
“So what sort of meeting were you strolling so nonchalantly to, yeah?”
Harry chuckled. “Lunch at the Leaky, actually, with Ginny, Ron, and Hermione.” Looking at both of them, he added, “Care to join us?”
Angelina waved to two of them off. “I’ve got the shop, George. You two go. Do you good.”
“You sure, Angie?”
“Yes, off with you now. Ron left maybe ten minutes ago, Harry.”
George looked out the window at the hovering reporters. “Best we floo over, Harry.”
Harry glanced out as well. “Good idea. Lead on, McWeasley.”
– — – — – – — – — – – — – — –
The flames in the Leaky Cauldron fireplace flared green. George and Harry stepped out, brushing off ashes. Hannah Abbot looked over from the far end of the bar, and raised three fingers to her right eyebrow in salute to Harry. Harry in turn waggled his right hand, thumb out towards George then himself, then raised three fingers on his left hand, which shifted into only his ring finger. Hannah nodded. “Come on, then, George.”
“What was that about, Harry, some deep, dark secret code or something?” George asked curiously. Harry chuckled as he set off down the hall to the private rooms. “Neither deep nor dark and I'm not sure how private yet. Hannah told me which room we're meeting in, I told her your money's no good here today and what we wanted to order.” George chuckled.
“All that so quickly. Clever. Must help when it's crowded here.”
“Yeah, Hannah suggested it one night after the paparazzi stormed the place.” They opened the door marked 3 and startled Ron and Hermione.
“Oi! Knock next time, yeah?” hollered Ron as Hermione turned toward the window, straightening her robes. George laughed.
“So this is how you spend your luncheons, little Bro?” Ron glared.
“Not always, George. Sometimes we play wizards chess.”
Harry sat in the chair at the end of the table, an unconscious trait he'd picked up while on assignments. He could see both the door and the windows from here. “Don't fuss about it, Ron. Happens to Gin and I with you lot all the time.”
“Well, you should be in private, then.”
“What, Grimmauld Place isn't private?” Ron dropped his glare, sheepishly.
“I've floo-called ever since then.” Harry chuckled, and the others started sitting as well. Hannah came in with a tray, set out pint mugs before George and Harry, and a shepherds pie. The third pint Harry ordered she set before the chair next to him. “Silverware and plates on the side cabinet, and who's the extra pint for, Ginny?”
“Yeah, send her in when she gets here, please. Should be soon.” Hannah nodded and left, noise from the public area leaking in when the door opened. Harry and George both sipped on their pints.
“Ah, that's good,” said George, “but it isn't butterbeer.”
Harry chuckled. “No, it's Hannah's newest brew, a pale ale. Gotten to be one of my favorites.”
The door slammed open to a cacophony, admitting a fiery-faced redhead, then shut again. “Bloody sodding dickheads!” muttered Ginny, crossing the room to sit in Harry's lap, took his pint from his hand and tossed back a big swallow. Eyes growing, she took another swallow. “That's good, but it's not butterbeer.” Chuckles around.
“I did get you one, Ginny.”
“Thanks, Harry, you're learning.” Another swallow, then she saw his puppy-dog eyes. “Don't worry, we'll share that one too,” she said, planting a quick, slightly frothy kiss on his lips. “What is this?”
“It's that new brew Hannah introduced me to when we came here after we got engaged,” replied Harry. George cocked his head at him.
“Hence, the ring finger of your left hand earlier, Harry?” he asked. Harry nodded back.
“She asked me to try it when we arrived, said she didn't have a name for it yet. When Gin showed her the ring and they got done squealing together about it,” Ginny punched his arm, “Ow! Anyway, a bit later Hannah told me she's calling it Engaged.”
“Ooo, that's nice,” said Ginny, draining the first pint. Harry quickly snagged the one off the table for a good mouthful of his own. “But what in hell is the damn Press doing here today?”
“Harry decided to take a stroll along Diagon Alley,” replied George, “got ambushed by them. Though I thought we'd shaken them off the trail.”
Ron started setting out plates and silverware while Hermione cut the pie. “They've gotten rather relentless again, since you two published your engagement announcement in the Quibbler,” she said.
“And that was bloody brilliant,” George laughed. “Whose idea was that?”
“Rather a joint effort, really,” replied Ginny. “We were delighting in the feeling of being freshly engaged, and Harry started worrying about the press getting hold of it, blowing it all out of proportion. I suggested we control it, using a press outlet we both trust and used before. Harry liked it, we talked to Luna, she's the one suggested using that portrait Charlie did of us. We added the notice. Luna added the fake 'Continued On' part.”
Ron and Hermione chuckled, Ron around a mouthful of shepherds pie. “Took people a couple weeks to figure out it wasn't a joke,” said Hermione.
“Then they did, and it started getting brutal,” replied Ginny, glaring at the door. “And then that cow from the Ministry called us in.”
“From the Ministry? Who?” asked Hermione.
“Serafina Huxterbie-Sunderstone,” said Harry, quietly.
“Secretary for Public Information and Taradiddle Affairs? What did she have to do with it?”
Ginny's face took on a 'swallowed a lemon whole' expression, her voice nasal and pinched, “You are both prominent public figures, Chosen One, Hero of the Resistance, Battle of Hogwarts and all. Your wedding is entirely too important to leave to amateurs. My department will plan the entire affair under my direct supervision.”
“Oh, that's uncanny,” said Hermione. “But she can't do that!”
George asked, “And she's still standing, not smothered in bats?”
“Harry took my wand away,” Ginny muttered. Harry chuckled.
“And she almost knocked me flat trying to get it back.”
“Well I was a bit irritated, wasn't I.” They all laughed over that one. Ginny snagged a forkful of pie and offered it to Harry. Ron snorted.
“Oi, sit in your own chair, yeah!” She stuck her tongue out at him, then fed Harry another mouthful.
“She can't do that,” Hermione said again.
“Yeah, well she bloody well is so far. Add to that the renewed stalking by the Press, and I swear, I'm so tired of all this already that for two knuts I'd grab Harry and all you lot and elope!' said Ginny.
'No!' George jumped in. 'You can't. You do that and Mum will have Harry's bollocks, and that's going to make grandchildren difficult, and Mum will regret that.' They all turned to George, who hid his sudden blush behind sipping his pint. Harry's lips quirked into a small grin as the silence lengthened. Hermione saw it first.
“George, a very clever witch once told me that the thing about growing up with some of her brothers is, one starts thinking anything is possible if one just has the nerve,” said Harry. Everybody now turned to him. Hermione and Ginny both recognized the glint in his eyes that said Inspiration.
“Harry, what are you thinking?” asked Ginny, a matching grin growing on her face. Harry slowly turned to look at each in turn.
“Right. I'm going to just put this out there on the table, and then you lot start picking it apart for the holes we need to fill.”
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