|SIYE Time:5:10 on 17th January 2022|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Angst, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
Summary: Sometimes things don't always work out the way you plan them. Ginny must come to terms with life after the war, even if her life isn't exactly what she thought it'd be. She'll soon realize that all it takes is one little moment to make everything fall into place
Hitcount: Story Total: 69339; Chapter Total: 4299
Thank you to everyone who has left me such positive reviews! I apologize for the delay in getting chapter five out, but school has been extremely busy lately. Hopefully my last cliff hanger has brought you back here:P
Chapter 5: New Beginnings
Ginny woke the next day to realize she’d slept soundly through the night and through the morning as it was now nearly twelve-thirty. Blinking in confusion at her alarm clock, the events of last night slowly came back to her: Jackson grabbing her, Harry getting punched, cleaning Harry up, Harry kissing her… The last memory brought a giddy smile to her face as she hugged her pillow excitedly.
The kiss was so vivid in her mind that if she closed her eyes and focused on the moment, she could feel the pressure of his lips and the feel of his hands on her. It gave her hope and made her heart pound out a jagged rhythm to think that things were so very close to being normal.
She pushed her blankets back and climbed from her bed, eager to see him, figure things out, and then drag him into the orchard for a bit of catching up. She felt deliriously happy as she pulled on clean clothes and thought about the day ahead of her. Last night had been a little scary, but it was probably going to make her top ten list of memories. Heck, Harry kissing her in the kitchen would be one of her memories that might just make the top three, rivalling their first kiss in the common room. She beamed at her reflection in the mirror as she pulled a brush through her tousled hair, ridiculously happy with the fact that Harry was a passionate and spontaneous kisser. She hoped that there would be many moments in the days to come where she could just spend hours-
Focus, Ginny, the tiny voice of logic told her. You still need to talk to him and work things out. And you stopped him because he was drinking. He might regret being so impulsive now that he’s sober.
The thought made her heart sink, but she kept a good attitude, unwilling to let the possibility of the best day of summer escape her just yet. She would worry when she saw Harry, and if he ignored her, she would be free to panic.
Once she was presentable, Ginny hurried downstairs toward the noise in the kitchen, all the while wondering how the racket didn’t wake her up. Harry, Hermione, her mother, George, and Bill and Fleur were seated at the table and halfway through eating lunch. All eyes turned to see her enter the kitchen, but Ginny couldn’t seem to tear her eyes from Harry’s green ones and the crooked grin he wore on his face. When she stumbled slightly over Crookshanks who had trotted over to rub against her leg in greeting, she felt her face flood with heat and she crossed the room to take a seat next to Fleur.
He grinned at me… that’s a good sign!
“You’re finally up,” her mother exclaimed wryly. “Long night?”
The blush stayed on her face as her mind flashed an image of Harry with his hands in her hair. She shrugged her shoulders in an attempt to appear nonchalant. “It was fun,” she replied as calmly as she could.
“Well, I hope you got plenty of rest, because you’ll be out late again tonight,” her mother continued cheerfully. She passed Ginny today’s issue of The Daily Prophet and tapped the front page.
KINGSLEY DECLARED NEW MINISTER FOR MAGIC: MINISTRY PREPARES FOR CELEBRATION TONIGHT
“They’re throwing a party tonight to celebrate everything that’s happened: Kingsley becoming Minister, Voldemort’s defeat, and honouring Harry,” her mother told her excitedly.
Ginny glanced up from skimming the front page in time to see Harry rolling his eyes at the last part. She hid her smile at his expression, knowing that Harry was probably dreading being honoured in front of the wizarding world tonight.
“I was there an hour ago and they’ve already set up the Atrium,” Bill added. “Judging by the number of tables, it’s going to be a huge turnout.”
“Eet will be so wonderful!” Fleur chimed in brightly. “I ‘ave to decide what I will wear!”
“You have something to wear, Ginny, dear?” Her mother verified as she passed Ginny a bowl of fresh garden salad.
Ginny nodded, taking the bowl. “I’m sure I do. Why did they decide to have the party tonight?”
“It would have made more sense to hold off and plan more, wouldn’t it?” Ron added confusedly.
“Well, it was only a matter of time,” George said with a shrug. “Wasn’t there a party the last time Voldemort disappeared?”
Molly nodded. “Hundreds of them across Britain, but the Ministry itself has never opened its doors like this before.”
“Can anyone go?” Ron asked, swallowing a mouthful of food.
“Not anyone,” Molly replied, busying herself with a pot of tea. “But all Ministry employees and their families, friends of the Ministry, supporters or close friends of Dumbledore, anyone involved in the Battle at Hogwarts, the families of the victims from the past twenty years…”
“Wow,” Hermione murmured in surprise. “Harry, I’ll help you work on your speech, if you’d like?”
“You have to give a speech?” Ginny asked him, unable to disguise her amusement.
Harry nodded gloomily, to which Hermione made a sound of impatience and patted Harry on the arm. “It won’t be so bad, you know. You might find it gives you some closure.”
“No one will expect much, Harry,” her mother told him reassuringly. “It’ll mean so much to everyone if you just thank everyone for their support and show them that you’re doing well.”
The excitement for the night ahead was contagious, especially for how happy it seemed to make her mother. Ginny supposed that the party would be a chance for everyone to celebrate all the good things in life and to take their minds off everything they had lost. The Daily Prophet article said how each victim of the war, both muggle and wizard, would be have their name engraved on a memorial wall in the Ministry, and the wall would be dedicated that night to those families who had lost a loved one because of Voldemort. She was dreading seeing her brother’s name engraved into the marble as part of the victims because it might solidify the feelings of loss that were so often overwhelming. Still, she needed to remember that Fred died fighting, and that he did not suffer at all.
“I do have a favour of you four,” Molly said as Harry and Ron finished off the food on their plates. “The yard is getting out of control, and I’d really appreciate it if you all could tidy it up. Ron, your father taught you that grass trimming spell, so if two of you could trim the lawn, and the other two could de-gnome the garden, that’d be wonderful.”
“Sure,” Ginny agreed easily.
Harry and Ron went to get started on the lawn, and Hermione hung back with Ginny to finish off her own lunch. When the boys had shut the door behind them, Molly stared after them thoughtfully.
“He’s looking better,” she murmured.
“‘Arry?” Fleur guessed. “Yes, ‘ee ‘as more colour in ‘is face these days.”
Ginny could feel Hermione’s eyes on her, but she ignored the knowing look and continued to skim through the morning paper. She paced herself as she finished her lunch, not wanting to seem too eager to follow Harry into the garden. In actuality, she was dying to talk to him, to know what he was thinking. Beneath all her initial desires to jump him into his arms and kiss him in the summer sunshine, she wanted things to be normal between them. She wanted to go back to the days where reaching for his hand or leaning into him was as normal as breathing.
With her goblet drained and her plate clear, she could not deny her heart any longer. “Ready, Hermione?” Ginny asked, getting to her feet.
“Thanks for lunch, Mum!” Ginny called over her shoulder, hoping her voice sounded calmer than she felt with each step she took nearer to the door.
“Thank you!” Hermione echoed, following Ginny out into the bright sunlight.
“It’s hot!” Ginny complained immediately.
Hermione had already pulled out her wand and tapped Ginny and herself with it as she cast a sun-repellent charm.
“It’s scorching,” Hermione agreed. “Let’s get this done before we pass out from the heat. I can help Ron with the lawn,” Hermione offered. “I’ll send Harry to help you with de-gnoming.”
“Who are you setting up?” Ginny asked teasingly, unable to hide her delight that she could have at least some time with Harry to herself.
Hermione chuckled. “Actually, since you can’t do magic until your birthday, I figured that I might as well take that job. I also don’t feel right about swinging the gnomes around.”
“Ahh, okay.” Ginny continued over to the garden and watched with amusement as the gnomes scattered at her approach, letting out a series of high-pitched squeals. One brave gnome remained rooted in his place, looking determined not to be evicted from the garden. He made an ugly face at her and spread its little legs wide as if to cover more ground.
“Alright, come on,” Ginny murmured, snatching the defiant little creature by its legs. She launched it several feet into the air and watched as it disappeared among the orchard trees.
“Good shot!” Harry called behind her, making her spin around.
“Thanks.” She pushed her hair out of her face and quickly wiped the small beads of sweat that had already begun to form on her forehead. She pleaded that she wouldn’t start sweating badly in front of him. It was one thing to be sweaty from Quidditch practice, but for him to have to watch her face melt off just didn’t feel like the romantic atmosphere she wanted.
Harry’s smile changed and he averted his eyes to the garden, though she wasn’t sure what had caused the change in his reaction. Silently reassuring herself that he was probably just as unsure of himself as she felt, she bent down to pick up another gnome to continue with their task.
“Ugly little things,” Harry commented after whipping two gnomes into the trees.
“Dad’s too nice to them… I think ours are a little more stubborn than most gnomes. I’ve seen him bribing them with bits of food to teach them tricks and certain phrases.”
Ginny nodded. “Yeah, Dad thought it’d be funny if they learned things like ‘Oh no! A dragon!’” Harry laughed at her gnome-imitation voice. “You’d be walking by the garden and the gnomes would screaming stunning spells, or warning you of dragons and other dangerous magical creatures.”
“Muggles teach things like that to parrots.”
Ginny chuckled. “My friend Molly in Hufflepuff house has one of those. Her parrot curses and can speak a little Spanish.”
They spent the next couple minutes sending dizzy gnomes flying far from the garden in silence. While it wasn’t necessarily an uncomfortably silence, her heart was dying to bring up last night. She wanted reconciliation so badly that it hurt.
“Are you excited about tonight?” Harry asked, finally breaking the silence.
“I guess… it’s exciting but also kind of depressing at the same time. I do like dressing up for things like this…”
“What are you going to wear?”
In her head, she pictured herself describing a low-cut dress that clung to her in all the right places, but she censored herself by saying: “I’m not sure yet… I’ll have to do some digging in my closet.” She tossed another gnome and then asked, “Aside from dreading having to give a speech, are you excited?”
“A little… I just hope it’ll be more exciting than the Yule Ball.”
Ginny chuckled darkly. “Didn’t you and Ron spend the entire night sitting at a table while Ron watched Krum and Hermione mutinously? No wonder you didn’t have a good time.”
He raised an eyebrow at her as if doubting that any sort of ball could be fun. “You had fun at the Yule Ball?”
“Well, yes… but I didn’t expect to be able to go until Neville asked. We stayed out quite late too.”
“I forgot you went with Neville,” Harry replied distractedly.
“Neville was very sweet!”
“I should have asked you to dance,” he added. “Might have given your toes a break.”
She laughed sadly, shaking her head. “He wasn’t that bad… everyone teases him, but he’s much more graceful when he’s relaxed and confident. And besides,” she said coolly, pausing to look at him directly. “You and I weren’t really friends back then,” she reminded him.
“We should have been.”
That sounded good, Ginny thought happily.
“Well, we’re friends now,” she replied with a happy smile, glorying in the truth of those words.
“Yeah,” he murmured, running a hand through his hair.
Ginny continued with the work, noting that he’d gone a little awkward again, but this time she sensed it was because he wanted to say something to her. He kept looking at her and then opening his mouth ever so slightly before clamping it shut.
“Any idea what you’ll say in your speech?” Ginny asked, determined to keep them on a comfortable ground.
Harry made a face at the question. “Not a clue. Any suggestions?”
She thought about her answer before she tossed another gnome. “They probably just want to hear what you think about everything… and if all you think is that you’re happy it’s over, they’ll appreciate that.”
Harry hesitated and he chucked a gnome perhaps a little too violently into the bushes, his expression conflicted. His arms were tensed and his eyes had narrowed in response to something she’d said, though she had no clue what it might be.
“What?” She prompted gently, softening her voice.
Harry shook his head. “It’s nothing.”
“You can tell me,” she reminded him. “I’m all ears if you ever want to talk.”
“I know,” he replied, loosening up a little. He forced a smile and grabbed two gnomes at once. “Maybe later,” he added in a dull voice, glancing backwards at an approaching Ron.
“You two about done?” Ron called loudly.
Ginny turned to find the lawn tidied already and Hermione and Ron putting their wands away. Ron moved to the broom shed and pulled open the door. He reached in and pulled out four brooms and set them on the ground.
“How about a game?” He asked cheerily. “It’s a bit cooler in the orchard in the shade.”
They ended up playing a game of modified Quidditch with an apple, zooming between the trees. Hermione opted out, but sat under a large tree outside their boundary lines reading a book. George had emerged from the house after spotting Ron opening the broom shed and took Hermione’s spot, teaming himself with Harry.
This irritated Ron, who felt that he should have his best mate on his own team. His inconsiderate complaints were the root cause of why Ginny had chucked the apple at his head within the first two minutes of the game, causing Harry and George to laugh whole-heartedly.
“Too bad these trees aren’t taller,” George said longingly. “Blimey, I miss Quidditch.”
Ginny nodded sadly, wishing that she was back at school to start training. She also secretly hoped that she’d get the Quidditch Captain badge with her school letter, though she hadn’t mentioned this to anyone. It would be nice to have one more thing on her resume when she applied to the International Quidditch League in March. She had heard from Charlie that scouts usually came to Hogwarts beginning in October to seek out potential talent and keep an eye on their skills, and she desperately wanted to be noticed.
When George announced he had to leave for work, they retreated into the house where it was cooler. Harry and Ron sat down to a game of chess, Hermione continued on her reading, leaving Ginny feeling awkward to be watching chess. After watching the game for a few minutes, she excused herself to go and tidy her room before her mother saw the state of it and got upset over it.
The cleaning itself took nearly an hour, but when she was done, she had swept, dusted, and put everything away. Ginny had always found a sense of satisfaction of a clean room, and took a long moment to admire her work, and the sight of her floor, which had been hidden for a while. After cleaning, she found herself writing to a few friends, and then opening her Charms book to read a little for an essay she had due in September. It wasn’t until a little after four that she realized how late it was, and there was a knock on her door.
“Come in!” She called, hurriedly reading the last of the line before she marked the page with a scrap of parchment.
She was surprised to see Harry standing hesitantly in her doorway. He grinned at her sheepishly and folded his arms across his chest. “So this is where you were hiding.”
“I wasn’t hiding, I cleaned and then I started to read,” she replied, closing her book. “What can I do for you, Harry?”
Harry glanced down the hall to make sure no one was there and then he gestured vaguely toward her window. “Ron and Hermione are… erm- otherwise engaged.”
Ginny’s eyebrows rose and she giggled. “With Mum home? Ron’s brave…”
Harry smirked and shrugged. “They’re hiding in the orchard, I think.” He took a few steps into her room, his eyes moving about curiously until they rested on a large moving poster of the Holyhead Harpies.
“Still want to play for them?”
Ginny followed his gaze and nodded, sliding sideways on her chair to see him better. “Yeah… although if I get into the league at all, I’d even play for the Canons.”
Harry chuckled, shoving his hands into his pockets and leaning against the wall beside her door. “Ron would love that.”
“He’d be my number one fan!” She agreed with a smirk, imagining herself in the horrible orange and shuddering.
He continued to look around her room and Ginny found herself waiting uneasily, wondering if he liked what he saw, but unsure why she cared at all. She watched his face, noticing that his cheek and the skin around his eye was still marred with a purplish tinge and was still a touch swollen. Did it hurt him? He was lucky the punch hadn’t broken his glasses…
“You can come in and sit,” she told him, gesturing toward her bed that was thankfully made up and free of dirty clothes.
Harry took her up on the offer and lowered himself onto her bed slowly and then leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. Ginny turned her chair to face him and stretched out her legs, half-wishing she was brave enough to go sit on her bed with him. Then again, even if she did manage to make herself move to sit with him, she knew for sure that she would not be able to resist him.
Sitting on a bed with a man she’d been crazy about since she was little, and who had kissed her last night definitely added up to her crawling onto his lap and showing him that she desired him just as much as he her.
“Did you ever think that Ron and Hermione would end up together?” She asked him, looking out her window toward the trees where her brother and her friend had hid themselves with her mother’s watchful eyes.
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment. “I dunno… I mean, when I think about it, they’ve always been walking a thin line between love and hate. It was really awkward when they were seeing other people, but I never spent too much time thinking about it.”
“Yeah, you had a lot on your mind what with Voldemort and such,” Ginny agreed wryly, to which Harry smirked and raised his eyebrows and then quickly suppressed whatever emotion had come out. “What?” She asked amusedly.
Harry shook his head. “That and other stuff…”
A slight blush crept up his neck and he looked at her with a sheepish expression and he shrugged, probably trying to maintain a look of innocence. “Like debating whether or not Ron would consider it base-treachery if I asked you out.”
A delicious wave of pleasure raced through her and she found herself smiling back at him, way too pleased that he had said that. “Well, I for one am glad that he hasn’t hexed you yet for kissing me in front of all of Gryffindor… but then again, it’s my fault you took a punch to the face yesterday.”
Harry’s hand subconsciously brushed against the faint trace of the bruise to his face. “It’s a lot better today… that stuff worked wonders.”
“You may need a bit more to completely get rid of it before tonight,” she murmured, getting to her feet. “I doubt you’ll want to explain to the reporters what happened to you. I’ll go get the jar.”
She hurried from the room before Harry could refuse the offer. The last thing she wanted was to have that story in the paper; Merlin knew how they would twist the story into something much more dramatic and exciting to draw readers in. She retrieved the jar without running into anyone from her family and returned to her bedroom to find Harry had slid back on her bed to lean against the wall.
She unscrewed the jar, wondering if he’d done that on purpose to make her sit on the bed with him. Harry had always been shy in the past about telling her what he wanted when it came to the more intimate stuff. She’d made it her mission to teach him that it was okay to kiss her passionately without asking, and that being openly affectionate was okay.
She slid onto the mattress and sat up on her knees to apply the salve to Harry’s bruise. Harry took off his glasses to make it easier, and Ginny raised her fingers to his face. She realized the moment her fingers touched his skin that the proximity might make it impossible to hold her sanity as he watched her with his green eyes. She became very aware of the way his shirt clung to his chest, and the lovely smells of soap and aftershave that filled her lungs and made her stomach feel squishy.
“Thanks for doing this,” he said calmly- too calmly.
She told him it was nothing and focused her attention on carefully screwing the lid back on. When the moment started to feel awkward, she backed off the bed and went to go wash her hands. Ginny came back to find Harry standing up, halfway between the door and her bed, running a hand through his hair as he always did when he was nervous or frustrated. The action always made his hair in a worse off state than it had been before he tousled it, and it made her want to run her own fingers through it.
Stop it, Ginny, she reminded herself firmly.
“You’ll probably be bruise-free by tonight,” she told him as she came into the room again, hoping her voice sounded calm. Her head felt as if it was still full of the smell of him, and it was hard to keep a distance.
“Thank you for doing that…”
Ginny hadn’t taken another three steps into her room before he moved closer and reached out, his thumb brushing her cheek. “I’m sorry for kissing you when I was drunk,” he told her solemnly.
It took her a moment to find her voice as she looked up at him, her heart beginning to pound in her chest. “That’s okay.”
“Can we talk about… things?” His hand dropped and she nodded.
He hesitated before he finally said, “I’m done with games… I’m done with the fighting, with pretending I don’t care. I do care.”
Her mother’s voice made them jump apart in spite of the fact that there was already a fair amount of space between them. Ginny’s heart sank into her feet as she turned to the doorway.
“Yes, Mum?” Her voice was etched with impatience that she hoped her mother wouldn’t hear. Her mother had no idea how important the conversation was that she’d just interrupted; it was certainly not her fault.
“Have you seen Ron and Harry? Arthur just told me that Kingsley is calling a meeting with the Aurors to discuss security measures for tonight. The boys need to leave right away.”
Mrs. Weasley arrived outside her room and looked startled to see Harry in Ginny’s room. Her knowing eyes flicked from Harry to Ginny to Harry again, though she didn’t comment. “Oh, there you are, Harry.”
“I think he’s outside,” Harry told her, stepping around Ginny. “I’ll go get him, and we’ll be off.”
He didn’t glance back at Ginny but hurried from the room and downstairs. Mrs. Weasley watched him go and waited until the door closed before she turned back to her daughter, a small smile on her lips.
“Mum…” Ginny said warningly.
Mrs. Weasley held up her hands innocently. “I’ve got no complaints… the door was open and you were talking in the middle of the room.”
Ginny’s jaw dropped as Mrs. Weasley smiled and turned to head downstairs. Ginny followed her into the hall, her expression pained. “We were just talking!”
Mrs. Weasley laughed softly. “Well, at least you say it more convincingly than your brother and his poor attempt to hide his activities with Hermione.”
Ginny was torn between the urge to laugh and a horrified reaction to her mother’s knowledge of what went on in the house. She returned to her room and rubbed her face as disappointment returned to her. She and Harry had been moments from having everything returned to normal, and the stupid Auror Department had to go and ruin that.
There’s always something getting in the way, she thought sadly, moving to her desk.
She watched as Ron and Hermione emerged from the trees, and then Ron and Harry hurried up to the house with Hermione following them at a much slower pace. As disappointed as she was, she knew that all she needed was ten minutes to talk to Harry tonight, and hopefully the party tonight would give them that time. She went to her closet to start combing through her wardrobe, half-dreading the evening when her luck would probably tear Harry away from her when a crazed Voldemort supporter crashed the party.
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