Irretitus Amor by Jeograph
Summary: ***Winner of the Most Humorous and the People's Choice Award in the Detention Challenge (2023-1)*** There is a little known tradition at Hogwarts that occurs once every four years. It has become a sort of a special event of the professors as it involves giving detention specifically to student couples, and creates an opportunity for the professors to wager on certain outcomes. Four years ago the event was postponed due to activity involving the Chamber of Secrets. This year however there is nothing to hold it back. Along with five other couples, Harry and Ginny are caught up in this special event and its arbitrary detention.
Categories: SIYE Challenges new, The Detention Challenge (2023-1)
Irretitus Amor by Jeograph
Chapter 4: Chapter 4 - Findings & FuturesAuthor's Notes:
Irretitus Amor - Part Four
Findings & Futures
After the odd night of detentions, life at Hogwarts went right back to normal. Classes carried on, and Harry’s preoccupation with Draco continued despite the whole debacle in the boys’ bathroom that had landed him Saturday detentions for the rest of the term. He was preoccupied by when he might be able to retrieve the potion book from the Room of Requirement and Snape was still to be avoided whenever possible.
With Quidditch finished for the season Hermione was making her customary term-end push for revising and finishing the year academically strong. As usual, she was involved in editing and suggesting improvements for both Ron and Harry’s final papers and any special projects across every subject. With Ginny now a firm fourth in their little circle of friends, Hermione was including her in these efforts as well, doing everything she could to help her prepare for her O.W.L.s.
The night of detention had been thoroughly explained, told, and retold in minute detail. Nearly a week on they were still telling about how Cormac had started the mud fight and how it evolved quickly into dangerous chaos. In retrospect, they found the whole story hilarious, but Ginny remained adamant that her expulsion of the two couples was completely warranted and no harsher than they deserved. A week removed from the event both Harry and Ginny recalled the whole experience as similar to one of their pleasant walks. It had turned out to be something they’d enjoyed.
Morning walks continued now and Harry and Ginny had taken to having a second in the late evening as well, if they could spare time from their frantic revising. The weather remained unusually delightful for the time of year. When classes were over for the day evenings were spent socializing and revising as the end of term approached.
Hermione loved this time of year, but she had a sense of foreboding as the end of June approached, as Harry’s typical end-of-term, monumental, and often tragic, event had not yet manifested, and she felt that this year was for some reason going to be worse than those proceeding it. She couldn’t predict what it would be, but something bad was coming, and there was the fact that Hermione had just that afternoon found an old article from the Daily Prophet in the library that she felt proved the owner of the Advanced Potion-Making book, had been a girl named Eileen Prince. She was hesitating to bring it up as things had, despite everything, returned to an almost pleasant equilibrium.
True to her word, she had not revealed any of the information she had gained from Professor Firenze on the night of the detentions. She had, however, managed to glean every detail she could from Harry and Ginny’s retelling of the event. And she had to admit that knowing what she did, her curiosity was still piqued.
On Friday, June twenty-seventh, when members of the victorious Gryffindor Quidditch team suggested that they all head down to the pitch for a midnight scrimmage against any interested house members, Hermione was very supportive and sent her three best companions on their way to the pitch saying she would be along after a little while to watch.
As an end-of-term event, there had always been a great deal of leniency shown to such violations of school rules in the pursuit of a bit of fun.
Once the common room had all but emptied, Hermione set her revising aside and quietly made her way to greenhouse eight. She’d have liked to borrow Harry’s cloak, but lacking that, she took a circuitous route, staying in the shadows as much as possible so as not to be discovered and questioned. When she arrived, the greenhouses were all dark and she could hear the raucous activity down on the Quidditch pitch. As she had suspected there was no lock on the outer door to greenhouse eight and she slipped in quickly and quietly. She illuminated the end of her wand to assist in making her way to the back of the room where she found the locked door to greenhouse nine, just as Harry had described it. She examined the padlock with a few ward detector spells, but it seemed as though it was just the Muggle lock it appeared to be and so she was able to open it easily using a simple Alohomora. Hermione took this as support of Professor Firenze’s assertion that Professor Sprout used secret-keeping enchantments to restrict information rather than elaborate physical security precautions.
Hermione removed the lock from its hasp and slipped quietly into the greenhouse. The moon was still bright enough in the sky that she found it quite easy to navigate her way in greenhouse nine without her wand light.
She approached the first planting box, where she understood Alice Morgan and Tracey Cauldwell had done the planting. Just as Harry had explained, they too had used Harry’s placement method resulting in a very neat and even alignment of plants. To Hermione’s surprise, there was more growth here than she would have expected after one week. All one hundred of the plants in this box were thriving. Where each had originally been two seedlings there was now a single stalk about as thick as Hermione’s thumb and standing about sixteen centimeters before branching into two curling leafing vines. At the point of divergence there was a bulbous seed pod and at the tip of each pod what looked like soon-to-emerge light pink, almost white flowers. Within this first box about every fifth plant seemed to be about to flower.
Hermione moved to the next planting box where she understood Cho Chang and Cormac McLaggen would have done their planting. She was not surprised at all that the majority of this box contained only withered dead seedlings in a haphazard irregular row. About a quarter of the plants toward the far end seemed to have been planted properly according to the directions, though they were clumped more tightly together than was called for, and of these perhaps a dozen had sprouted and seemed to be growing. They were much smaller, about half the size of the previous box, and where they seemed to be developing seed pods, the ends of the pods were closed tight, showing no indication of any flowering to come.
The next box where Marietta Edgecombe and Eddie Carmichael would have been, was no better than the one before it with nearly identical results.
Hermione moved on to the next planter box where she believed Daphne Greengrass and Theo Knott had done the planting. The results here were much closer to Alice and Tracey’s planting though not nearly as neatly spaced. It appeared that all one hundred of their plants were thriving and producing seedpods, but there was no indication here of any flowering to come.
The next planting box was that of Hayley Olson and Gideon Druery. Hermione approached it slowly, and with great hope. She was well aware of what had happened between the two on the night of detention and had been there when a balling, distraught Hayley had returned miserably to the common room.
Hayley had been received by her dorm companions and swept away to the privacy of their room.
In the days that followed, Gideon had become a bit of a pariah. Even his best mates seemed to feel that his thinking was antiquated and too harsh. If he was getting the message, he had not yet shown any indication.
The planting here was fairly even and orderly, but it lacked the clear precision of the first box. The plants, however, appeared to be thriving. They were thicker and taller even than those in Alice and Tracey’s box with bulbous seed pods and small pinkish blooms on nearly half the plants.
This meant, as Hermione understood it, that the potential for love between them was genuine. Despite their disagreement and breakup, there was a real possibility. She found herself wishing that Gideon would come to his senses and allow communication and understanding to win in their favor. She hated the idea that this obvious potential might wither to nothing in a week or a month. Hermione found herself regretting she’d promised to keep silent about what she now knew.
Perhaps it was her proximity to the plants but she suddenly felt a profound sadness at the prospect of pending failure, in the face of such potential. She had to step back and remind herself that this was not what she had come here to see.
She cast her eye at the final planting box, this would be Harry and Ginny’s and she felt a lump of hope swell in her belly. The position of the moon in the sky was casting a shadow from the back wall of the greenhouse to fall over this last box and she couldn’t make out any detail, though it appeared to her that there was more mass there than in any of the other boxes.
Suddenly, the torches in the greenhouse burst to life and she heard the Headmaster’s voice. “Miss Granger.”
Startled, she turned toward the voice and reflexively uttered, “I’m sorry.”
Dumbledor stepped silently into greenhouse nine from the open doorway. He was carefully carrying his wounded hand against his torso, and he looked wearier than she had ever seen him. “Sorry about what, Hermione?” he asked without a hint of accusation. “I am aware of your conversation with Professor Firenze, so I rather expected your curiosity would drive you to this bit of minor mischief.” He continued to move toward her. “Splendid, aren’t they,” he motioned to the planting boxes she had already seen in the moonlight.
Now in the torchlight, she could see the rich green of the plants and the pale pink of the small emerging blossoms in the box next to her.
“It is sad to think of what might become of these fragile young vines if the couples who planted them lose their way to love.” He reached out and gently stroked one of the seed pods in the first box.
“Yes, sir, it is,” Hermione agreed.
“Well, Miss Granger, you broke in here tonight presumably to discover the outcome of your best friend’s planting,” Dumbledore said still without anger or accusation in his tone. “I suggest you turn and look.”
“Your heart already knows the truth,” Dumbledore encouraged, “I suggest you let your eyes confirm it.”
Hermione spun around to face the last planting box and gasped excitedly. “I… I hadn’t imagined.”
The final planting box was full of a hundred vining plants that far and away surpassed the other boxes. Their stalks were thick and lush and the vining tendrils were exploding to the edge of the box and dripping over the edges, thick with deep green heart-shaped leaves, and on each plant a heavy seed pod rested, topped with a deep crimson blossom.
“Professor, how is this possible?” she exclaimed.
“Love,” he said softly.
“This means… it means.” Hermione was lost for words.
“It means, as you no doubt suspected, that Harry loves Ginny, and Ginny, in turn, loves Harry, with a potential greater than I have ever witnessed,” Dumbledore said. “They told you I am certain about the incident during the detention concerning the rock cast by Cormac McLaggen?”
“Yes,” Hermione responded, “Cormac threw the stone and Harry caught it.”
“What they were likely unable to express, is that at that moment Ginny’s heightened emotion, redirected by Harry’s gentle intervention, manifested fluidly from her to him, physically healing his broken hand. And covering their joined hands in the fullness of their love’s potential. As they completed their planting this potential passed in great quantity into these plants, yielding the most amazing results.” He paused. “Professor Sprout says it surpasses even the plants that remained after his parent’s planting those many years ago.”
“Oh, Professor,” Hermione, uttered still unable to find full expression.
“And now you know, a terrible truth,” Dumbledore said, a hint of sadness creeping into his voice.
“Terrible? No, sir, this is wonderful,” she protested.
“Wonderful, yes,” he said, “but terrible because it is a truth that you cannot under any circumstances share with your friends.”
Hermione’s expression turned from glee to sorrow. “You are right, Professor, that is terrible.”
They lingered a few moments, then Dumbledore escorted Hermione from the greenhouse, replacing the lock and leaving no trace of their presence.
Outside the greenhouse, on the cobblestone walk, Hermione turned. “I understand what’s at stake, Professor. I will not tell. I promise,” she said earnestly.
They could hear laughter and joy rising from the Quidditch pitch in the distance, where the Gryffindor students were gathered in play. Dumbledor smiled at her. “I know,” he said quietly. “Now you should go and join your housemates,” he looked in the direction of the pitch.
Hermione smiled hesitantly in return. “Thank you for indulging my curiosity,” she said, as she stepped off in the direction of the pitch.
Hermione was several paces away when Dumbledore silently raised his wand and cast a memory charm upon her. “I sorely regret that is a risk I cannot take. Your knowledge will be suppressed until Harry’s fate is truly resolved,” he said quietly.
A single tear slid down the elder Wizard’s cheek as he turned away, and cradling his wounded hand, made his way sorrowfully back to the castle he knew he would soon be no more a part of.
Seven years later, Harry Potter agreed for the second time since departing the grounds after the cleanup of the final battle, to return to Hogwarts. He had returned only once for a very brief visit to ensure that a portrait of Severus Snape was properly hung in the headmaster’s office.
Much had happened during those intervening years, and much had healed as well. None of the four had returned to attend Hogwarts, though it had reopened for the fall term that very September. Minerva McGonagall was named Headmistress, and Pomona Sprout became her Deputy Head.
Hermione, after undertaking makeup studies while interning at the Ministry, returned to Hogwarts in the spring and sat her N.E.W.T. exams. She was then offered a permanent position at the Ministry of Magic, in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she worked for a year before transferring to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Ginny, before the summer ended, had been offered a position to play professionally for the Holyhead Harpies Quidditch team. With Hermione’s encouragement, she too undertook additional studies and returned in the spring to sit her N.E.W.T.s.
Harry and Ron had been invited by Minister Kingsley Shaklebolt to enter the Ministry’s new Auror training program and both had begun building careers, rapidly rising through the ranks. After two years, however, Ron left his Auror career to partner with his brother, George, in the more lucrative running and expansion of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Though very busy building their individual lives, they all remained in close contact, often at the insistence of Molly Weasley, who made them promise never to miss Sunday gatherings at the Burrow. And of course, Harry, and the whole Weasley family never missed a Harpies game, where they enthusiastically supported Ginny.
Very soon after deciding to leave the Ministry, Ron proposed to Hermione and they were wed in a simple outdoor ceremony on a perfect summer evening at the Burrow, followed by a wonderous reception where, not to be overshadowed, Harry and Ginny announced their greatly anticipated engagement and pending nuptials.
Within five years, Hermione ascended to take the position of Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and a year later Harry became the youngest-ever Head of the Auror Office. Ginny, during that time, finished her fifth year of professional Quidditch and retired as Captain of the Holyhead Harpies, immediately transitioning to a position as a Quidditch commentator and contributing correspondent to the sports desk of the Daily Prophet.
Two years after first acquiring the position of Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall had begun inviting Harry annually to return to Hogwarts to address the graduates as the commencement speaker. Harry had always politely declined, until now.
So it was that on this beautiful June day in two thousand-three, Harry stood before the shining hopeful, and even adoring faces of Hogwarts graduates, to usher them forward into the wide Wizarding world. He could have done without the pomp and circumstance, and he felt he had fumbled through his speech, but he was happy he had, at Ginny’s insistence, finally returned to see the school vibrant and thriving, and to put some closure on his feelings of guilt and responsibility.
All the professors had been so happy to see him and positively effusive in their praise of his success. There were fewer familiar faces as Professor Slughorn had years before returned to his life of retirement, as had Professor Sprout, leaving an opening that had been filled by Neville Longbottom just the year before. And there were newer professors he had never known in the positions of Potions Master, Wizard History, Transfiguration, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, the last being a position Headmistress McGonagall openly hinted would be available to Harry at any time he might consider it.
All in all, it had been a good day and a successful visit, and as the evening reception wound down, and quests began departing, Harry asked Ginny if she might care to recreate one of their evening walks around the grounds. Ginny had readily agreed and hand in hand they had headed down a familiar old path toward the lake and a welcome respite from socializing.
They wandered the many pathways, pausing to recreate stolen kisses beneath friendly old trees, removed their shoes to dip their toes in the cool lake water, and generally sought to recapture what was good from an earlier, more innocent time, shedding the dark veil that had long overshadowed it.
They even, finally, and purposely visited the white tomb where lay the remains of, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, revered former Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; Grand Sorcerer, Order of Merlin, First Class; and Once Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, but, mostly, Harry’s friend, where Harry had a moment of silence and said a truly healing farewell.
As they made their way along the path toward the castle, past the lovely new Quidditch pitch, and up the slope toward the greenhouses, Harry squeezed Ginny’s hand and said, “This has been a surprising day. Thank you, Ginny, for encouraging me to finally return to Hogwarts. I see now how much I really needed this.”
“You are welcome, my love,” Ginny said as she returned the slight squeeze. They walked a few more paces before she spoke again. “Harry, do you remember that detention we had together in greenhouse nine?”
Much had happened to overshadow that lone night almost exactly seven years before, but Harry paused and said, “I do. I remember the mud fight and my hurt hand, and you healing it. But not too much else.” He chuckled, “I wonder if any of those couples lasted, or are we the only ones?”
“Do you remember at our wedding reception, what Hermione told us about that night?” Ginny asked.
“Vaguely, there was a lot of fire-whiskey flowing that night,” he confessed. “I do recall she said that she had remembered discovering what those plants were that Professor Sprout had us planting and how she had never told us because at the time she had been made to promise not to. Something about they were tied to the love of the planting couple, and that she had secretly snuck into the greenhouse to see if ours had survived or something? Hermione never could hold much liquor and she was quite sozzled that night as I recall.”
Ginny giggled in the way that Harry had always loved. “True, but I have often wondered about it.”
“Well, we’ll pass by the greenhouses. We can have a look if you like?” he said.
Ginny smiled her agreement, and they kept walking. “Harry,” she said a moment later. “I’ve decided I’m going to accept the offer to become the Sports Desk Editor at the Daily Prophet. I’m tired of all the travel associated with game commentating.”
“That’s wonderful, Ginny,” Harry said, barely concealing his surprise. “As long as you’re sure it is what you want?” he said genuinely.
“It is,” she added with certainty. “I want to be home more and focus more on us.”
“I can hardly object to that,” he said, giving her hand another gentle squeeze.
They rounded the retaining wall and arrived at the greenhouses.
The end of greenhouse eight, which they had discovered years before was the secretive greenhouse nine, was nearly devoid of its glass. Massive vines had crept from the openings and embedded themselves in the crevasses between the retaining wall stones. The whole wall was a splash of thick greenery and the greenhouse itself looked as though vines were exploding from it. The mass had spread to the ground and nearly reached the path where they were standing. Throughout the cover of vines were hundreds, upon hundreds of deep crimson blossoms with petals so richly colored that the tips were nearly black.
“Oh, Harry!” Ginny gasped. “Could this be… us?”
Harry strode up to the wall, smiling, and leaned in to smell one of the flowers. He inhaled deeply and exhaled very slowly. “I think it might be, Ginny. To me, this smells just like you!”
Ginny rushed over and smelled the blossom herself. “Nope, it smells like you,” she said.
“Well, I’m gobsmacked,” Harry said.
They peeked in through the greenhouse windows, and sure enough the vines were originating from the very planter box where they had stood those seven years before. It seemed they had taken over the whole space and crept everywhere.
“Oh, look,” Ginny pointed, “there seem to be pink flowers too, originating from the first box as well. You don’t suppose?”
“I suppose everything, Love,” he said as he pulled her close, “We cannot be the only couple to find love.” He kissed her passionately, pressing her against the greenhouse wall.
He pulled back suddenly. “I’ll be buggered! I could swear several more flowers just opened as I kissed you.” He looked amazed.
Ginny took his hand and led him a few steps away from the greenhouse wall. “You just did.”
“I did what?” He asked laughing.
“Swore,” she said, smiling.
They laughed together for a few moments, then Ginny stepped closer. “Harry,” she said again. “I have one last surprise for you,” she said in nearly a whisper.
“What could be better than all of this confirmation of our enduring love?” he asked.
“I’m pregnant,” she said.
Harry swept her up in his arms and twirled her around, as she giggled merrily.
He lowered her back to the ground and there, surrounded by a sea of crimson blossoms, beneath the colorful backdrop of the setting sun, he kissed her.
Just like it was the very first time.
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