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Up in the Air
By quinn

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Category: First Time for Everything Challenge (2019-2), First Time For Everything Challenge (2019-2)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Romance
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 19
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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 15907; Chapter Total: 2611
Awards: View Trophy Room

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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