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SIYE Time:13:37 on 21st July 2024
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Summer of Recovery
By PotterSloth

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Teddy Lupin
Genres: General, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 142
Summary: What comes after Voldemort’s defeat? A very, very difficult summer. The world moves on, and it’s much different than it was when Harry and Ginny first got together. The summer will be one of grief, but they’re ready to recover together after so long apart. The only question is: will the world finally let them?

Part 1 of Happier Every Day
Hitcount: Story Total: 17358; Chapter Total: 719
Awards: View Trophy Room






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Adjusting himself to the surroundings, Harry looked around for the Burrow, spotting it the moment Ginny gasped.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*

Harry felt like he was wrapped in cotton wool. He woke slowly, trying and failing to move any of his limbs. He cracked his eyes open, but all he saw was a lot of red. Blinking, he managed to lean backwards and remembered he was in a hospital bed with Ginny. She was still sleeping peacefully, her head nestled into his chest. Harry blinked a few more times and testily moved his legs. Thankfully, it seemed that the aching pain that had been in his legs for the last couple of days had finally gone away. It had definitely been worse than he’d let on, and he was incredibly grateful now that Ginny made him visit Madam Pomfrey yesterday. Even though she was asleep, he kissed her head to thank her once again.

He finally looked up from his sleeping girlfriend and his eyes landed on arguably the most terrifying sight imaginable for someone in his position- Arthur Weasley was sitting in the chair next to the bed, looking at him with a smile and an expectant expression on his face. Harry’s eyes widened and he tried to separate himself from Ginny, but she moved in her sleep with him, not giving him an inch of room. Arthur’s eyes twinkled as Harry looked at him, unfathomably uncomfortable.

“Er- good morning, Mister Weasley,” Harry stammered.

“Good morning, Harry,” Mr. Weasley responded pleasantly. “How are you feeling?”

Harry blushed a little because what he was feeling at the moment was Mr. Weasley’s daughter pressed very closely to his own body. “Fine, sir… better than I was yesterday.”

Mr. Weasley nodded. “That’s good to hear. Ginny told us what was going on. I’m glad that Madam Pomfrey was able to help you get on the mend… without you and Ginny having to be separated.”

Harry blushed again, realising that this bed was much too small for two people to be sleeping in together.

“Harry, there’s no need to panic. You do know that I’m very aware where Ginny has spent the last few nights, right?” Mr. Weasley asked, his eyes still twinking a little as his expression shifted into something slightly mischievous that reminded Harry of the twins.

“Ummm… Mister Weasley, about that- we weren’t doing anything, it’s just we really missed each other, and I know we never told any of you, but we were together last year before I had to leave and… erm, yeah,” Harry fumbled desperately for a way to explain the situation.

Mr. Weasley chuckled. “Harry, you don’t need to explain yourself to me. Molly and I could tell there was something between the two of you last summer. Ginny explained some of it after the three of you left in August, and Ron told us two days ago where Ginny was when he found the two of you in the dormitory after everything. Believe me, if I had a problem with who Ginny was spending her time with, you wouldn’t still be in that bed with her right now.” Harry gulped as he was reminded that Mr. Weasley was a very competent wizard who undoubtedly would protect his daughter very fiercely if he felt she was threatened.

He continued, “I can’t speak for her brothers or for Molly, but I know how hard this year was for Ginny, being separated from you. She needs you, and I can’t think of a better man for her to have chosen.” His expression turned more serious. “You’ve been a part of the family for years, Harry. I’d trust you with any of my children’s lives. Actually, I basically have at this point. I won’t pretend to understand everything that’s happened recently, but I’m so proud of you. I know how much you care about Ginny and all of our family. After everything you’ve been through, I won’t be an obstacle to your happiness.”

Harry felt a surge of affection for this man who was as close to a father as he could ever remember having. “Thank you, Mister Weasley. I promise I won’t make you regret trusting me.”

Mr. Weasley smiled at him. “I know Harry. And for Merlin’s sake, you’re an adult and you’ve known me for long enough. Don’t you think it’s about time you call me something other than Mister Weasley?”

Harry was surprised- he really wasn’t expecting the conversation to go like this when he first woke up and saw Mr. Weasley. “I guess you’re right… Arthur?” Harry tried tentatively.

“Much better,” Arthur nodded. “Although Harry, I do have to say that even though I won’t keep you two from being happy, I am still a father, and it isn’t the easiest thing seeing my daughter in bed with her boyfriend. I’d ask that you two be discreet when we return to the Burrow, especially with Ginny’s brothers around.”

Harry winced. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Ron came in when we were talking in bed the other day, and that wasn’t exactly comfortable either. We’ll be more mindful of it, I promise. And Arthur… your approval really does mean everything to me,” Harry said a little bashfully.

Arthur just smiled at him, and they sat in silence for a few moments before Harry remembered there was something he was supposed to do this morning.

“Mister Weas- Arthur? What time is it?” he asked.

Arthur checked his watch. “Half past eight,” he informed Harry.

Harry groaned, running a hand over his face. “I have something I have to do with McGonagall and Kingsley before nine. If Ginny wakes up before I get back, can you tell her I’ll be by the lake?”

“Sure. Do I want to know what this thing you’re doing is?” Arthur asked.

Harry hesitated. “Probably not,” he answered truthfully.

“Then I won’t ask,” Arthur said easily. “Will Ginny know what you’re doing?”

“I haven’t told her yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she figured it out before I explained.”

Arthur chuckled, “She’s made finding out secrets a habit of hers since she was a little girl. Probably best you get used to it sooner rather than later.”

Harry grinned while disentangling himself from Ginny and standing up. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks again, for everything, Arthur,” he said, shaking Arthur’s hand.

“Of course, son,” Arthur responded, pulling Harry into a brief but tight fatherly hug. Harry smiled, but, not knowing what to say to express his gratitude for a simple hug, nodded and left father and daughter alone in the Hospital Wing. He stopped in Gryffindor Tower to change out of his clothes from yesterday, and he was only held up briefly by the Fat Lady asking some very odd questions about his and Ginny’s relationship.

Finally getting away, Harry made his way quickly to Dumbledore’s tomb, not bothered by his legs at all anymore. When he arrived, he found McGonagall and Kingsley waiting for him. “Sorry I was almost late-” Harry started, but McGonagall waved her hand dismissively.

“Poppy told me that you had to stay in the Hospital Wing last night. I trust you’re feeling better now?” she asked.

Harry nodded, “Much better. I’m ready to do this. But… I’ve been thinking. I don’t really feel like we should open the tomb up again. It- it feels wrong, even if we’re putting something back that was stolen.”

McGonagall raised an eyebrow, but Kingsley nodded. “I understand. Let the dead rest in peace. We could make a space for it on the base of the tomb, without opening the tomb itself.”

“Yeah, I think that would be better,” Harry agreed.

McGonagall looked at Harry carefully. “He’d be proud of you,” she said.

Harry warmed at that sentiment. “Thank you, Professor. That means a lot.”

She nodded, pressing her lips together in a brief, thin smile before raising her wand. She cut a narrow opening in the base of the tomb, just large enough for the Elder Wand. Harry gently set the wand in its final resting place, and McGonagall covered it with white marble identical to the rest of the tomb. Harry stepped forward once again, raising his wand over the new marble. Like he did on his and Ginny’s tree, he began writing, and when he stepped back, the spot where the Elder Wand lay was marked with ‘The Next Great Adventure’.

Kingsley and McGonagall looked at Harry, who shrugged his shoulders. “Professor Dumbledore told me once that death is just the next great adventure. Seemed appropriate.”

Kingsley nodded. “I think Albus would’ve liked that.” Then he and McGonagall began a series of complicated wand movements, murmuring spells quietly. The marble glowed, first red, then green before returning to its original state as they finished casting the wards.

“We can’t do anything to keep out its master,” Kingsley explained. “But anybody other than you will have a rather difficult and painful time trying to get it out of there.”

“This is the best we can do, but if your plan works, it won’t matter, and you’ll be the last master of the Elder Wand,” McGonagall stated.

Harry nodded, hopeful that this Hallow wouldn’t ever haunt him again. He thanked them for their help and they set off on their separate ways. Harry was heading back up to the castle, but McGonagall was walking Kingsley to the gates so he could Apparate back to the Ministry.

Walking away from the Black Lake, Harry grinned as he saw a beautiful redheaded witch sitting under his favourite tree at Hogwarts, waiting for him.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

Ginny woke when she realised that she was alone in the bed. Rubbing her eyes, she looked at the spot Harry should’ve been in. It was still warm, but he was nowhere to be seen. Rolling over, Ginny looked for him throughout the rest of the room, but she was very surprised to find her father sitting next to the hospital bed, reading the Daily Prophet. He looked up when he heard her moving and smiled at her.

“Good morning, sweetheart. How’d you sleep?” her dad said, smiling calmly at her.

Ginny realised that he must have known she’d been in bed with Harry. “Ummm… I slept good, Dad,” she answered.

“I’m glad. I know these beds aren’t always the most comfortable. I’d imagine they’re even less comfortable when there’s two people in the bed,” he commented offhandedly, as if the thought had just occurred to him.

So he did know! Ginny blushed slightly, unsure how her father would handle this sort of thing. He’d always been very calm and respectful of her independence, but she didn’t imagine it was easy for him staying like that right now.

“Harry left about ten minutes ago, if you were wondering,” he told her.

“Ah… do you know where he went?” she asked, still uneasy with the current situation.

“He told me that he had something to do with Minerva and Kingsley by the lake. He said he’d be up here soon but to tell you where he was if you woke up before he got back.”

Ginny nodded, wondering what sort of business her boyfriend had with the Headmistress and Minister by the lake. Then she realised that if Harry told her dad this, her dad may have talked to him about more than just his plan for the day.

“Did you… talk to Harry about anything else?” Ginny asked probingly.

“Don’t worry, dear. I made sure he understands that if he touches you again, I’ll kill him,” Arthur said with a sneaky smile.

Ginny laughed. “You did not,” she accused.

Arthur laughed with her. “Of course not. We both know that Harry’s as much a part of the family as any of us.” Ginny nodded in total agreement. Arthur continued, “I actually told Harry that I was proud of him and trusted him. There’s not anybody better I could’ve chosen to be with my baby girl.”

Ginny smiled widely at her dad, grateful that he agreed with her that Harry was the best person for her. “He really is the best, isn’t he?”

Arthur chuckled. “Even if he wasn’t ‘The Saviour of the Wizarding World,’ he’d still be the best person for you. Although, I did warn him that the two of you will need to be a little more careful when we go home; I don’t imagine he’d like it very much if it was George or Charlie that was sitting here instead of me this morning,” he said with a smile.

Ginny shuddered. “No, he definitely wouldn’t. I doubt he liked you being there very much either to be honest, but you’re definitely the safest option. We’ll make sure not to be caught by anyone… not that we’re doing anything wrong anyways,” she finished quietly.

“I never thought you were. But the two of you are young and clearly in love, so it would only be natural-”

“Dad!” Ginny cut him off, blushing furiously at what her father was suggesting.

Arthur put his hands up in surrender, but he was smiling at the expression on his daughter’s face.

“Do you- you really think we’re in love?” Ginny asked.

“Do you love him?” Arthur asked back.

Ginny hesitated a moment before nodding. “For almost a year,” she confessed out loud for the first time.

“Have you told him?”

“I- he’s had to go through so much, Dad. It seems like every person he loves has ended up dead. I didn’t want to scare him off or move things too quickly until he was ready.”

“I see. So he hasn’t told you that he loves you either?”

Ginny shook her head, looking down at the blanket covering her.

“I can’t speak for Harry, Ginny. But from my point of view and what I’ve heard from your brothers, especially Ron, he seems like someone who is definitely in love but isn’t sure how to express it. You have to remember that love is still a very new thing to Harry. We don’t know a lot about where he grew up, but there clearly wasn’t a lot of love lost between him and his Muggle family. I think you’re doing the right thing, and I’m sure Harry will sort his feelings out soon.”

Very pleased with her father’s confidence that Harry loved her and she was doing the right thing by waiting, she got out of bed to hug her dad. “Thanks, Daddy,” she whispered.

He smiled at her as she pulled away, but Ginny was now looking at the cover of the Daily Prophet. There was a picture of Harry on it, with the headline ‘You-Know-Who Defeated in Battle at Hogwarts!’ The subheadline read ‘Harry Potter: The Saviour of Wizarding World!’

“Bloody hell,” Ginny swore in front of her dad. “He’s gonna hate that.”

“Probably,” Arthur agreed. “But he does need to know what they’re saying about him. He’ll be okay as long as you’re with him.”

Ginny nodded. “I’m going to meet him before he gets back to the castle, then. I’ll see you at breakfast.”

“Your mother and I are leaving now with Bill and Fleur to start trying to clean the house and take care of any curses Death Eaters may have left for us. But we will see you at the Burrow soon,” her father told her.

“I’ll see you there,” Ginny replied, hugging her dad once more before leaving the Hospital Wing, going in the opposite direction her dad was going in. Harry was down by the lake for some reason. Ginny decided to wait under their tree for him to come back towards the castle. When she reached the tree, she could make out the figures of Harry, McGonagall, and Kingsley, all standing by… Dumbledore’s tomb? Why would they be out there?

Ginny sat down to ponder this question, watching as the three talked to each other before Harry bent down and placed something in an opening at the base of the tomb. After he finished, Kingsley and McGonagall seemed to be performing a series of spells around the tomb. Ginny suddenly realised that she knew, or thought she knew, what they were doing at Dumbledore’s tomb. A few moments later, the three of them walked away from the tomb, and when Harry saw her, he smiled widely and ran up towards her. Ginny loved how eager he seemed to be near her, even though they’d only been separated for about thirty minutes.

“Morning, Gin!” Harry said when he reached her. He bent down to kiss her gently, but he pulled back far too quickly for Ginny’s taste. He straightened back up and reached his hand out to help her up. “Ready to go to breakfast?”

Ginny took his hand, but instead of letting him pull her up, she pulled him down to her. Harry stumbled and fell, falling on his knees in front of her. “I promised you one more good memory under this tree. This is your last chance to get it, unless- if you don’t want to…” Ginny trailed off, looking up very suggestively at him.

Harry stared at her, very clearly interested in the offer. “If I ever turn something like this down, you have my full permission to hex me until I remember how lucky I am to kiss the most beautiful witch in the world.”

Ginny blushed, extremely flattered, but she didn’t really trust Harry’s judgement as he looked at her hungrily. “Well, I don’t know about the most beautiful, but-” she gasped as Harry leaned forward, kissing where her shoulder connected to her neck.

Harry slowly made a trail of kisses up her neck. “The… most… beautiful… witch… in… the… world.” He punctuated each word with another loving and hungry kiss, before reaching her lips on the last word. He took full control of the kiss, and Ginny felt herself melting as Harry pressed himself into her, tangling a hand in her hair while the other hand ran along her back and side. His tongue was plundering her mouth, swirling around her own tongue in a way that was both gentle and controlling. Ginny moaned into his mouth, which only seemed to encourage him more. She gasped as Harry’s thumb brushed the bottom of her breast while wrapping a hand around her side to pull her closer to him.

Startled, Harry pulled back, looking curiously down at her. A moment later, he realised where his hand was and shifted it down. “Sorry,” he said, blushing a little. “Guess I got a little carried away. Probably should’ve asked.”

This felt very similar to what he said after they kissed for the first time, and Ginny knew she needed to set him straight. “Harry, you know I’m fully capable of taking care of myself. If I didn’t want you to do something, you’d know. This-” she gestured to her flushed face and messy hair “- is not the look of someone who was upset at all with what you were doing. I rather enjoyed it, actually. If we’re trying new things, it’s okay to ask, but don’t apologise when I’m clearly enjoying the things you do to me.”

Harry smiled at her. “You’re the best, Blaze. And definitely the most beautiful witch in the world.”

Ginny grinned. “I guess you’ve convinced me for now, but I might need more convincing later,” she said suggestively.

Harry stood up, holding his hand out to her again. She took it, and this time, she let Harry help her up instead of pulling him down.

“I’ll convince you anytime you want,” he said, kissing her softly before winding his fingers between hers. They walked together to the Great Hall, which was much emptier than it had been the previous two days.

“I guess most people have already left,” Ginny said. “Mum, Dad, Bill, and Fleur already left to get the Burrow ready.”

“Are we still meeting them there after breakfast?” Harry asked.

“Last I heard, that was the plan,” Ginny said as they sat down in their usual spot. George had moved across the table from them, sitting where Bill and Fleur had been sitting.

“How are you feeling, Harry?” Hermione asked, looking with concern at her best friend.

“Better now, Hermione,” Harry assured her as he and Ginny began eating.

“Good,” Charlie said. “Wouldn’t want ‘The Saviour of the Wizarding World’ to be out of commission for long.”

Harry’s brow furrowed. “What?”

“It’s nothing, Harry,” Hermione said, but Ginny shook her head, taking the Daily Prophet that Hermione had laying flat on the table and pulling it in front of Harry.

“Ginny…” Hermione said testily.

“It’s fine, Hermione. He needs to know,” Ginny responded, challenging Hermione to tell her she knew what was best for Harry. Hermione sighed and threw her hands in the air, conceding for now.

“Needs to know what?” Harry asked, obviously getting annoyed at everyone talking like he wasn’t there.

Wordlessly, Ginny closed the paper so the front page was facing Harry, who was looking back into his own eyes in print.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHGHG

YOU-KNOW-WHO DEFEATED IN BATTLE AT HOGWARTS!
HARRY POTTER: THE SAVIOUR OF WIZARDING WORLD!

In the early hours of Saturday, the second of May, You-Know-Who and his followers, known as Death Eaters, launched an attack on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The attack was repelled by a defensive force of students, teachers, and members of the vigilante group known only as the Order of the Phoenix.
The conflict lasted several hours, but in the end, Harry Potter, otherwise known as The Boy Who Lived and The Chosen One, defeated You-Know-Who in a duel. Unconfirmed rumours suggest that at some point before this duel, You-Know-Who believed he had killed Potter. Several witnesses claim to have seen Potter’s dead body, but when pressed for specifics, nobody could explain how this could be. Regardless of the details, Harry Potter defeated You-Know-Who, saving the Wizarding World from his reign of terror.
When asked for comment, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Temporary Minister for Magic, said, “The Wizarding World owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to all who fought in this war against [You-Know-Who], especially those who were at Hogwarts on the second of May. We celebrate with the living, but we also mourn the tragic loss of life. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those who lost loved ones in the battle, and I promise the Ministry is doing everything it can to help these families while prosecuting the perpetrators and apprehending those who escaped.”
For more information on the Death Eaters still on the loose, see Page 5.
There were numerous casualties in the Battle of Hogwarts, as some have taken to calling this conflict. A list of the known deceased can be found on Page 8…


Harry looked up from the paper, shaking his head. “They’ve gotten it all wrong, as usual.”

“What exactly did the article get wrong?” Percy asked him with a curious expression.

“I mean, they acted like I was some sort of hero and completely glossed over who all was here fighting,” Harry began.

“Merlin, you’re daft,” Charlie said. Harry looked at him, surprised, and he could feel Ginny glaring at her brother too. Charlie continued, “People need a hero sometimes. You were the one who finished him, in the end, and based on what I’ve heard about you even before now, you make for a pretty convincing hero.”

George snorted, “Pretty convincing until you see him falling off a broom.”

Harry opened his mouth to defend himself, but seeing that everyone was waiting to see how he reacted, he decided to show George some mercy. He rolled his eyes and chuckled. Feeling a collective exhale around the table, everyone else laughed at George’s joke, although Ginny still looked a little annoyed with her brothers.

Harry nudged her. ‘It’s okay,’ he mouthed to her. She nodded, squeezing his hand.

“Anyways, they should’ve had the names of the deceased on the front instead of this picture of me. They deserve that,” Harry said.

“I dunno Harry… I’m sure Fred would definitely prefer your specky face get even more time on the front page than it already has,” George said, trying to joke, but nobody around him laughed at that. It seemed that they were all realising how different things were going to be when they got back to the Burrow.

They finished breakfast in silence, before going their separate ways, agreeing to meet at the gate in half an hour. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione went up to the Common Room. Harry was surprised when Ron and Hermione started heading towards the girls’ dormitory.

“Ron, don’t the stairs turn into a slide when you go on them?” he asked.

Ron turned a little red. “I don’t actually go on the stairs.”

“How do you get up there then?”

Hermione answered that question with a swish and flick of her wand. “Wingardium Leviosa!

Ron slowly rose in the air, spinning lazily, and Hermione levitated him up the stairs as Harry and Ginny howled with laughter at the ridiculous sight. When they finally collected themselves, they went to the boys’ dormitory and quickly packed their things, meeting Ron and Hermione back in the Common Room.

They walked together to the gate, where Charlie, Percy, and George were waiting for them. Harry pulled Ginny close to Side-Apparate her, ignoring the looks he was getting from Charlie and Percy.

“Ready?” Harry asked, looking down at Ginny. She nodded wordlessly.

Harry spun on his heel and felt the familiar sensation of his body being condensed and expanded very quickly as he and Ginny landed in Devon. Adjusting himself to the surroundings, Harry looked around for the Burrow, spotting it the moment Ginny gasped.

Harry had to agree with her reaction. The typically dishevelled and worn down exterior that he was familiar with had been covered with all manner of scorched burn marks. Even from a hundred feet away, Harry could see that at least some of the windows had been broken. Grimacing, he took Ginny’s hand, and they walked apprehensively towards the Burrow. As they neared, Harry felt an odd sensation, almost like he was wading through air as thick as gelatin, but as soon as he felt it, it was gone. Glancing over to Ginny, her surprised expression told him that she felt it too.

Dark Marks were glowing green on several spots along the walls of the Burrow, Harry noticed as they neared the front door. The Death Eaters had clearly wanted to send a message once it was discovered that Ron had been helping Harry. Thankfully, the Weasleys had been gone long before any Death Eaters had arrived.

They neared the front door when it swung open, and Bill walked out, followed closely by Fleur, Molly, and Arthur. “Thank goodness you all made it safely,” Molly said gratefully, looking shaken up by the current state of her house. Harry turned and saw that she was referring to the entire Weasley family. Everyone he and Ginny had been with earlier at Hogwarts was standing behind them, with similar shocked expressions on their faces.

“There were a few curses and jinxes left behind for us by the Death Eaters, but we’ve already taken care of it,” Bill told the family that had just arrived. “When you walked up, you felt yourselves go through the wards I set up. Nobody can enter the wards without being a Weasley, Harry, or Hermione. We thought that was the best precaution for now, since nobody actually knows where the remaining Death Eaters are. We can still invite people over, but they’ll have to walk through with one of us to get in.”

“The rooms are all a mess,” Arthur added. “We’ve only just finished clearing the house of curses, so we’ll be spending the day fixing and cleaning everything. We shouldn’t run into anything else that’s dangerous, but if you’re unsure about something, ask Bill to look at it.”

The family followed Arthur, who turned and walked back into the house. He wasn’t joking, Harry saw. The living room looked awful. Items littered the floor, there were gashes in the walls, the couch had been shredded, and, as with the exterior of the house, there were several scorch marks on the wood floor and walls.

“Right, everyone take a room,” Bill said, seeing his siblings’ apprehension. The family slowly filed out, most heading to their own bedroom. Harry remained downstairs with Bill and Molly.

Reparo,” Harry said, intending to repair the couch. To his surprise though, the gashes in the wall also mended themselves. Bill looked at him curiously, but Harry just shrugged, unsure how that had happened.

“Bill?” Ginny stood at the top of the stairs. “Could you look at this thing in my room? I don’t think it’s cursed, but I just want to be sure.”

“Sure thing, sis. You okay down here, Harry?” he asked.

Harry nodded, and Bill went up the stairs to Ginny’s room. Harry turned his attention to the burns on the wall. “Restituo,” he cast, hoping that a charm to restore an object to its original state would remove the burn from the wood. To his surprise, it worked, and the burn marks faded from the walls. Harry stacked the clutter on the floor but, unsure where the items should go, left them against the wall.

Harry went back out the door, surveying the damage on the exterior of the house again. Casting the same spell as he had indoors, he was glad to see the burns disappearing, although the Dark Marks were still there. “Scourgify,” Harry tried, but the marks still remained. Shaking his head, he went back inside, knowing he’d have to ask Bill about it. He was about to go to the kitchen and see if he could help Molly when Bill came back down the stairs, looking a little concerned.

“Everything okay in Ginny’s room?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, there’s nothing cursed up there. I think she could use some help from you though,” Bill suggested.

Surprised, Harry nodded, not needing a second invitation to be with his girlfriend. “You might want to take a look at the Dark Marks outside,” he told Bill from the base of the stairs. “I was able to clear the burns, but those marks are much more stubborn.”

Bill nodded as Harry turned and went up the stairs, but he hesitated as he reached the landing outside Ginny’s room. He’d only been in this room one other time, and that had been one of the best moments of his life, as brief as it had been. But he wasn’t actually sure if he was supposed to be in there. Then again, Arthur and Charlie had made it extremely clear that everyone knew where Ginny had been sleeping at Hogwarts, and none of them had tried to kill him yet. Convinced, Harry raised his hand to knock and was surprised when Ginny opened the door before his knuckles met wood.

“How long were you planning on standing out here?” Ginny asked with a small smile.

“How’d you know I was out here?” Harry responded, bewildered.

Ginny shrugged. “Sometimes I feel when you’re close. No idea why.”

Harry furrowed his brow, searching for an explanation, when Ginny turned and walked back into her room, leaving the door ajar. When Harry didn’t immediately follow, she turned back and said, still smiling, “I don’t know how much clearer I can make the invitation, Harry.”

Harry chuckled, shaking his head, and walked into Ginny’s room.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHGHG

Ginny had expected that there would be some damage. She hadn’t expected the house to look like an arsonist’s playground. And she really hadn’t expected what she found in her room.

Unlike everything else she’d seen in the house, her room was exactly like it had been when she’d left it. A little messy from leaving so quickly, but nothing like what the living room had been like. It didn’t seem possible that the Death Eaters could’ve missed out on destroying her room, she thought. Her suspicions were confirmed as she closed the door behind her and saw a copy of the Daily Prophet hanging on her wall. This wasn’t an issue she could remember seeing, and as she got closer to it, she clapped her hand over her mouth and realised why.

The picture was Harry, but he was in prison robes, standing behind bars. Ginny realised that this picture looked a lot like the few pictures she’d seen of Azkaban prisoners. The headline above the picture read, ‘Harry Potter Captured Trying to Rescue Girlfriend!’ The subheadline continued, ‘Potter to Receive Dementor’s Kiss!’

Shaken, Ginny tried to rip the paper off the wall, but it was completely stuck to the wall. Recognising a Permanent Sticking Charm, Ginny exhaled, exasperated. Wasn’t it enough that they’d tortured her in school? They wanted her to be psychologically tortured if she ever returned home too? Reluctantly, she went to the edge of the stairs and called for Bill, hoping that he’d be able to figure out how to get rid of the paper.

When he reached her at the landing, he asked, “What’s up?”

“There’s not a curse or anything. It’s just, I can’t figure out how to get rid of this thing they left in my room,” she said as she led Bill into the room. Closing the door, she gestured towards the paper on the wall. Bill looked confused until he moved closer, eyes widening as he read what was on it.

Like Ginny, he tried to pull it off the wall, but it wouldn’t budge. “Permanent Sticking Charm,” he grumbled. Ginny nodded as Bill started trying to think of a way to resolve the issue. He snapped his fingers, turning to face Ginny.

“We can’t remove the wall and replace it, since this wall is foundational to the rest of the house. But… I can burn the paper, and then we can cover it with something,” Bill offered. That sounded better than nothing, Ginny thought, looking for something she could cover the remains with, but she couldn’t find anything.

“Just burn it. I’ll figure something out later”

Bill nodded. “Incendio,” he said, as flames burst out of his wand, engulfing the fake Daily Prophet. In seconds, the paper was reduced to ash. “Do you want me to keep Harry away from here until you find something?”

Ginny shook her head. “It’s okay. If he wants to come up, he can. I’m not keeping any secrets from him.”

“And you’re okay? With what was on that?” Bill asked his younger sister.

Ginny shrugged. “Not really, but it wasn’t real. They wanted to get to me, and I can’t give any of them that satisfaction.”

Ginny was slightly surprised as he pulled her into a quick but tight hug. “You’re pretty damn strong, you know?” Bill asked as he pulled back.

Ginny rolled her eyes but smiled at her brother. “Don’t sound too surprised.”

Bill chuckled. “I’m not surprised at all. It’s just impressive, after everything we’ve been through the past few days. I’m proud of you, sis,” he said, giving her another quick smile before leaving Ginny alone in her room.

Was she okay? Not really, but then again, she didn’t expect that she would be for a long time. She knew exactly why that paper was there, and it didn’t bother her too much, but it was another reminder about the war and her time at Hogwarts that she didn’t need, especially now.

She was lost in her thoughts, staring at the black rectangle on her wall and trying to think of what she could do to cover it when she felt Harry. She couldn’t explain it, but she knew that the feeling was real. She knew he was on the landing outside her room, just like she knew he’d walked up to her when she’d been under the tree a few days earlier, just like she knew that he’d walked past her- she certainly didn’t want to think about that right now, not with Harry about to enter her room for the first time since his birthday last year.

He sure was taking his time though, and Ginny suspected he was nervous, which was a little ridiculous considering they’d slept in the same bed the past three nights, but it was a little cute too, she had to admit. Unable to wait any longer, Ginny opened the door to her room as Harry’s fist moved forward to knock on the door.

“How long were you planning on standing out here?” she asked, smiling at his confused expression.

“How’d you know I was out here?” Harry responded, clearly very surprised at her awareness of his presence.

Unable to explain how she could feel him, Ginny just shrugged. “Sometimes I feel when you’re close. No idea why.”

That didn’t change his expression at all, and his eyes shifted back and forth. Ginny could practically hear him thinking about how that was possible, and she knew she’d have to pull him out of it. She turned and walked back into her room, intentionally leaving the door open enough for Harry to see her. She was surprised that she couldn’t hear him following. She turned back around and saw him still standing there, looking at her as if he was waiting to be asked in.

Ginny smiled at her boyfriend’s innocence and chivalrous attitude, but he needed some encouragement apparently. “I don’t know how much clearer I can make the invitation, Harry,” Ginny said, sitting on her bed as Harry chuckled and walked into the room.

Harry looked at the walls behind her and out the window by her bed. “Looks the same as it did last summer. You cleaned up quickly,” he commended her, but Ginny shook her head.

“The Death Eaters left me a special present that Bill took care of.”

Harry’s eyebrows raised. “A curse?” he asked.

“Worse,” Ginny whispered gravely. “A copy of the Daily Prophet.”

Harry’s brow furrowed and his mouth slowly started tweaking into a smile, thinking that she was just taking a jab at the rag. “I’m serious,” she told him, and his expression returned to its contemplative state, waiting for her to explain. “But it wasn’t a real copy of the Prophet. It was a fake one they made, announcing that you’d been arrested looking for me and were going to receive the Dementor’s Kiss.”

Harry looked concerned, sitting down next to her and wrapping an arm around her. Ginny felt herself calming for the first time since she’d seen the Burrow, continually marvelling at how safe she felt near Harry.

“They were just trying to get in my head, like they did at Hogwarts,” she said, leaning against him. “But that would’ve scared me a lot more if I’d seen it while you were still on the run. It’s gone now though, Bill burned it. Now I just need something to cover up that.” She gestured to the large black rectangle on her wall.

“You know I’m here now. I’m not letting anything get in the way of us ever again.” Harry assured her.

“You have no idea how good it feels to hear you say that,” Ginny said, kissing his cheek.

Harry grinned down at her. “Believe me, I do. I dreamed about saying it pretty much since the day I broke up with you until after the battle.”

“We weren’t broken up,” Ginny said, voicing her opinion on what had happened after Dumbledore’s funeral. Harry looked at her, puzzled at what she meant by that. “Not really, I mean. Were you looking for other girls after the funeral?” she asked him. Harry shook his head. “Well I certainly wasn’t looking for a new boyfriend after it. We were just waiting on each other,” Ginny said.

Harry smiled. “You know, there were times this year that I thought you would’ve moved on. I was sure that there’d be plenty of people who would’ve wanted to date you, and I thought you’d be so mad that I’d left and you hadn’t heard from me that you wouldn’t want anything to do with me even if I did come back.”

Now it was Ginny’s turn to shake her head. “There’s never been anybody other than you, Harry. Not really. I dated some before you, but never anything as serious or real as what we had… even for how little we were actually together. A few people did ask me out, but even if we hadn’t been dealing with hell at Hogwarts, I would’ve said no. I couldn’t go back to anything less real than what we had. Besides, once I had a taste of The Chosen One, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else,” Ginny said wickedly, leering at Harry, who started laughing hysterically.

Once he finally calmed himself down, Harry looked at her with his eyes gleaming. “Any chance you need another taste?” he asked.

“I’ll always need another taste,” Ginny growled, throwing herself onto her boyfriend’s lap and beginning to snog the daylights out of him. It was like their kiss in this very room a year ago, but with even more passion and desire behind it, with none of the mortal fear or terror that had been hanging over their heads. They’d grown so much as a couple, even in the past couple days, and their kisses were reflecting that experience, becoming more familiar and passionate every time. Ginny ran her hands along Harry’s strong shoulders and back, pulling herself closer to him. For his part, Harry was exploring her hair and back with his hands, but slowly, one of his hands started snaking down to her lower back, moving further south. Ginny was dimly aware that she was ecstatic at him taking initiative without asking.

BAM! Her door slammed open, with an incredibly red-faced Ron and Hermione peering in at them. “Oi! Get your hands off my sister!” Ron shouted, coming into the room.

Harry had flinched violently and turned incredibly red, looking embarrassed, which made Ginny even more irate than she already was. Harry shifted to try and move out from underneath Ginny but she grabbed his shoulders, refusing to let him move. She gave him a look before turning to look at her brother, deciding to give Ron one chance before she exploded at him.

“What happened to you saying it was good to see us back together the other day?” she asked testily.

Ron looked flustered. “Well- I- it is good that you’re both happy, I just don’t want to see it happening right in front of me,” he tried to explain. Ginny tensed on top of Harry, and she knew that Harry could tell she didn’t like that answer. He took her hand, rubbing it gently, but as good as that felt, it wasn’t going to stop Ginny from giving her brother a piece of her mind.

“Hermione, would you please close the door and… make sure nobody can hear us?” Ginny asked sweetly.

Hermione looked very nervous, but she closed the door. “Indicens,” she whispered, casting an Imperturbable Charm on the door, guaranteeing that they would not be disturbed until Ginny was finished.

“You sanctimonious- fucking- bastard- Ronald Weasley!” Ginny screamed, jumping off Harry’s lap to get in Ron’s face. Despite him being more than a head taller than her, he cowered as she continued yelling. “How dare you come into my room and lecture me about what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my boyfriend? How dare you act like what we’re doing is any different than what you do with Hermione? I couldn’t give a fucking rat’s arse what your opinion of our relationship is, but I refuse to allow you to embarrass Harry or act like we’re doing something that we should be ashamed of! Harry and I are very happy, and we’ll do whatever we like, with or without your approval! And if you insist on barging through closed doors, I won’t apologise for what you find! Honestly, have the decency to show some respect to your sister and your best friend,” she finished, shaking her head disappointedly and breathing heavily, but not moving away from where she had Ron cornered.

“Mmm… srr-” Ron mumbled.

“What was that?” Ginny asked forcefully.

“I’m sorry,” he responded, looking down at his shoes.

“Sorry for what?”

Ron sighed, looking up at her. “I’m sorry for losing my mind when I saw you two kissing. I- I know you’re good together, and I want you both to be happy… really. We didn’t mean to barge in on anything. Mum’s been calling you and you weren’t answering, so we said we’d get you. It’s just… habit, I guess. It’s been a year since I’ve had to see all of that regularly, and he had his hands on your bum, and I freaked out.”

Ginny shook her head. “You’re gonna have to figure that out on your own. But if you ever do anything like that again to me or Harry, you will be attacked by your own flying bogeys for days,” she threatened menacingly. Then she walked back to the bed and sat down next to Harry again, not taking her eyes off Ron as she formed a devilish plan for revenge.

“And don’t barge in again if you don’t want to see something you won’t like. I don’t need your protection from my boyfriend, Ron. Harry’s allowed to touch me wherever he likes, see?” Ginny said, grabbing Harry’s hands and pressing them to her chest. Ron’s eyes bugged out, but Ginny saw Hermione trying not to laugh as she watched this scene play out. “Get him out of here, Hermione,” Ginny said. “I’m not quite finished with my boyfriend yet.”

Without waiting to see that they’d left, Ginny turned to Harry, taking in his still blushing but hungry look before she pulled him into another deep kiss. She was thrilled that Harry hadn’t taken his hands away from her chest since she took her hands off his. In fact, he seemed to be growing confident as he explored this new place with his tender touches and caresses. After some time, Ginny wasn’t sure how long, she pulled away, and Harry reluctantly dropped his hands, but Ginny caught them with hers.

“Sorry if you were embarrassed by that,” Ginny said earnestly, staring into Harry’s eyes and trying to decipher that look in them.

Harry shook his head. “I mean I was a little embarrassed when they came in, but the way you went after him, and then that kiss… holy shit, Blaze, that was incredible.”

Ginny grinned. “I’m glad you liked it.”

“Liked it doesn’t even begin to describe that. That was so damn sexy-” Harry said before he cut himself off, like this topic of conversation wasn’t one he knew how to talk about.

Ginny squeezed his hands. “I’m glad you thought so. And for the record, a girl likes being told when their boyfriend thinks they’re sexy, so don’t bother hiding that from me.”

Harry blushed. “Then you’ll be hearing about it a lot… pretty much all the time, actually.”

Ginny beamed at him. “I think you’re pretty damn sexy too, Harry,” she whispered, kissing him softly before standing up. “I do think we’re supposed to go see what Mum wanted though.”

Harry nodded and started to stand up before sitting back down. Ginny looked at him, confused, and Harry put a finger up. “Just one second. Probably not the best idea for me to go down until I’ve calmed down from… you know.”

Ginny’s eyes narrowed before widening in realisation. Oh, that’s why he didn’t want to get up yet. Ginny felt herself blushing as she comprehended the effect she’d had on him. Harry was blushing at her too, but he didn’t look too embarrassed.

“Like I said, Gin… most beautiful witch in the world. I can’t help but get excited when you kiss me.”

Ginny smiled. “Take all the time you need, but saying stuff like that will definitely get you more kisses in the future.”

Harry chuckled. “I can’t wait,” he said, standing up, apparently comfortable enough to go downstairs.

Ginny stretched her hand out to him and he took it, leading her down the stairs. In the living room, Ron and Hermione were on the couch, very carefully avoiding looking at Ginny and Harry. Ginny smirked, pleased that her stunt had worked. They walked past, heading into the kitchen, where they found her mum washing some recently repaired dishes.

“Sorry we didn’t hear you, Mum. What did you want us for?” Ginny asked.

“Oh, that’s no problem dear,” Molly said. “I just wanted the two of you to know that Andromeda Tonks would be coming over tomorrow. She said that she wanted to speak with you both about the funeral.”

Ginny’s heart sank. Remus and Tonks’ funeral would be the first they attended, the day after tomorrow. For the past few days, even though there had been reminders of the realities of the aftermath of the battle, they’d been able to ignore a lot of it. They didn’t have that luxury anymore, as they would all be attending several funerals over the next week, and coming home had been a further reminder that they were missing a member of their family. Looking over at Harry, she could see that realisation hitting him too.

“Thanks for letting us know, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said. Molly nodded, going back to her dishes as Ginny pulled Harry out the back door. She didn’t know where they were going, just that she suddenly really needed to get away from the Burrow. They aimlessly walked around the orchard and by the stream, talking absently from time to time. For the most part though, they walked in silence, trying to deal with their feelings with the comforting presence of each other nearby.

They finally returned to the Burrow in time for dinner, a simple stew that Molly had made. As usual with her mother though, Ginny was very satisfied with how it tasted, despite her mum insisting that she wished she had more time, but she had to get her kitchen in order first. Everyone was crowded around the table, not really talking much. Everyone except George, that is, something Harry noticed even before Ginny did.

“Where’s George?” he asked.

“My room,” Percy answered. “We’re sharing since he- well, nobody wants to go in his room right now.”

“All three of us… gonna be some tight quarters. But it’s still worth it to be home,” Charlie commented.

Harry nodded solemnly and Ginny felt a pang of empathy for George. It had been hard enough for her to come back and see the destruction that the Death Eaters had caused and the taunting that had been left in her room. Despite that, her room still felt like a safe space, especially once the paper had been destroyed. She couldn’t imagine how much more difficult it was for George, whose safe space constantly haunted him with memories of his lost twin. No wonder he didn’t want to be around people right now. Ginny wasn’t sure how he’d managed it at Hogwarts, but clearly coming back to the Burrow was too much for him to handle. Hopefully George would start feeling better in the coming days and weeks, but she imagined that with the funeral about a week away, things would get worse before they got better.

By the time everyone finished eating, it was obvious they were all still exhausted. The family quickly said their good nights, heading single-file up the stairs, peeling off as each person reached the floor of their bedroom. Ginny and Harry stopped on the landing outside of her room; Ron and Hermione had stayed downstairs to tell each other good night.

“I’m sorry,” Harry began, “But your dad said we needed to be discreet, and I don’t know how much the rest of your family would like us sharing a bed in this house.”

“I know,” Ginny answered. “It’s okay- well, it’s actually not okay because I sleep better with you than I have by myself in a long time, but I get it. It’ll get easier.”

Harry pulled her into a tight hug before bending down to kiss her gently. After a moment, they separated.

“Good night, Harry,” Ginny said, squeezing his hands before letting go.

“Night, Gin,” he responded, quickly kissing her hair before going up the steps to Ron’s room. Ginny went into her room and finished getting ready for bed. Hermione walked in as Ginny was getting in bed.

“Hey, Hermione,” Ginny said while her friend was conjuring a bed. “I- I just wanted to apologise if you were uncomfortable this afternoon. I didn’t mean to put you in the middle of us, I just couldn’t let it go.”

Hermione snorted and turned toward Ginny. “I understand, and you were right. He can be… sanctimonious sometimes, especially with the two of you. I think you yelling at him knocked some sense into him though, or at least I hope so. He does mean well, it’s just hard for him sometimes.” Ginny nodded, glad now that they’d gotten this out of the way early. Hermione looked at her with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Besides, it seemed like Harry enjoyed that display,” she said with a grin.

Ginny laughed. “He certainly made sure I knew how much he enjoyed it.” Hermione groaned as Ginny held her head high, refusing to be embarrassed.

“I take it back,” Hermione said. “Ron was right, you two are disgusting.”

Ginny rolled her eyes and threw a pillow at Hermione, who didn’t have fast enough reflexes to block it. Ginny giggled as Hermione pulled the hair out of her face.

“You should know, Harry’s the closest thing I have to a brother,” Hermione said, looking more serious now. “I might not be as psychotic about it as Ron, but I am extremely protective of him.” Ginny started feeling wary that Hermione might in fact be just as bad as Ron, but she was reassured quickly as Hermione continued, “But you’re also one of my best friends, and I don’t want things to be more difficult than they already will be for you two being together. I know neither of you will do anything to hurt the other, and I’m just so happy to see you both this happy. I’ll do my best to keep Ron out of your business, and… hopefully, you’ll do the same for us,” she finished, blushing even as she smiled a little.

Now Ginny was the one to mime gagging. “That is so disgusting, I’m going to pretend I have no idea what you’re talking about and we’ll leave it at that.” Hermione laughed and threw the pillow back at Ginny, who caught it with ease.

Hermione turned the lights out, and they both lay down in their beds. “Sorry it’s not as comfortable as the sleeping situation at Hogwarts,” Ginny said into the darkness.

Hermione chuckled ironically. “At least we’re both sharing in the suffering.”

“True,” Ginny answered. “Well… good night Hermione.”

“Night Ginny,” Hermione answered.

Ginny lay awake, unable to really feel tired enough to bother trying to sleep. How was it possible that after sharing a bed with Harry for just three nights, she felt so uncomfortable in her own bed at home by herself? Ginny wasn’t sure how long she was tossing and turning before Hermione left to go to the loo.

A few minutes later, the door opened, but instead of going to her bed, Hermione started climbing in bed with Ginny. Wait- that wasn’t Hermione.

“Harry? What are you doing in here?” Ginny whispered.

“Hermione came up to Ron’s room and asked if I wanted to trade. Said neither of you were able to sleep, and Ron and I were in the same boat,” he answered, pulling the covers over him.

Ginny pushed back into him as he spooned her, and she held the hand that was wrapped around her. “What happened to being discreet?” she asked.

“Ah- I’ll try and get up before everyone else, I guess. If not, guess you’ll have to yell at everyone like you yelled at Ron.”

Ginny chuckled, already feeling very sleepy now that Harry was in bed with her. Harry nuzzled her hair. “Next thing on my list…” he said sleepily, “The way you get passionate and angry. It’s so hot and powerful. You’re so strong,” he whispered, drifting off to sleep. Ginny followed him shortly; her last conscious thought was that she’d yell at anyone who told her this was wrong.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*

A/N: I’ve probably read this chapter a dozen times since I wrote it last summer. And every single time I read it, I can’t help but laugh at Arthur being next to the bed when Harry woke up and Hermione levitating Ron up the stairs. In my real life, I’m constantly laughing, so that isn’t really saying much, but I have a feeling that a lot of you might feel the same way about those moments, which is good considering I love dropping funny moments in future chapters.

At the end of Deathly Hallows, seconds before this story starts, Harry tells Dumbledore he’s going to put the Elder Wand back where it was, but, as Harry astutely points out, it feels really wrong to reopen the tomb to return the wand. I decided that its new resting place is close enough without crossing the line into morbid.

I knew I wanted the Daily Prophet to be a storytelling device in my book, so this won’t be the last time it shows up by a long shot. I do my best to make it feel like an actual news report, but with the obvious spin that the Daily Prophet is practically a tabloid at this point, and honestly, the Prophet articles were always a ton of fun to write.

In the same vein, I thought the Prophet article in Ginny’s room made quite a bit of sense, considering the Death Eaters, via the Carrows, would’ve known about her relationship with Harry, and it also sort of shows that not all Death Eaters are complete morons focussed on destroying everything without any actual thought. Not that Ginny would’ve ever actually believed it, right?
Restituo is a spell I created that, as noted in the text, returns an object to its original state. Restituo means ‘I restore’ in Latin, so I thought it fit. I also had to give an incantation to the Imperturbable Charm, which doesn’t have one in canon or anywhere on HP wiki. Indicens is one Latin translation for mute, and it seemed more spell-like than any of the translations for imperturbable that I found.

Another note just to clear something up that I didn’t want to be misinterpreted: Ron won’t always be so bad about them being in a relationship, and I want to be clear that I love Ron and am not bashing him in any way. But… I’ve gotta admit, it was really fun to write Ginny going off on him. I actually gave a lot of thought as to how she would react to him barging in like that, and I figured that the screaming leading to a more mature message was the way that she’d handle it. Well, that and having Harry grope her in front of Ron. That also felt incredibly in character for her. This sort of thought was very common for me in the early stages of writing, but it was interesting to see how I stopped needing that extensive reflection on important actions after a while. I think I just grew into writing Harry and Ginny, especially, to the point that I just knew how they would react to certain things. There were still some points that I needed to think out clearly, but never as much as early on, and I think that subtle difference feels tangible, at least to me, in later chapters.

This is a bit of a transition chapter in a lot of ways. Everyone is shifting from the immediate aftermath of the battle, still at Hogwarts, to the new way of life, back home, and we saw at the end of the chapter how reality is starting to set in. Harry and Ginny definitely need each other, which is why I couldn’t bring myself to separate them from sharing a bed at night, even though I genuinely did consider it. As long as they can keep it hidden, it shouldn’t be a problem!

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to comment your thoughts on everything so far, predictions, whatever. I love reading feedback!

That does it for The Return, and I’m excited to give the teaser of another major transition coming in Harry and Ginny’s lives on Friday, with Chapter 8: I’ll Be There- Even though Harry had never met him before, he knew this was Teddy Lupin.
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