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The Hogs Head by MyGinevra

Summary: **2008 Dumbledore Silver Trinket Award Winner**


The climax to the final battle approaches, and Ginny fears the worst. But her seventh year at Hogwarts
finds Harry living in Hogsmeade as they begin their lives together.
Rating: R
Categories: Post-DH/AB
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2007.07.26
Updated: 2008.07.22

Index
Chapter 1: Faith
Chapter 2: Anticipation
Chapter 3: Best Mates
Chapter 4: The Funeral
Chapter 5: The Light
Chapter 6: By The Sea
Chapter 7: Hidey Places
Chapter 8: Summer Of Peace
Chapter 9: The Heirloom
Chapter 10: The Inn
Chapter 11: Hearts And Lips
Chapter 12: Birthday Presents
Chapter 13: Rugs
Chapter 14: The Big Bash
Chapter 15: Melancholy Baby
Chapter 16: Owls
Chapter 17: Chocoballs Via Owl
Chapter 18: Veela Magic
Chapter 19: Opening Night At The Inn
Chapter 20: Repel And Warn
Chapter 21: A Chat With Bill
Chapter 22: The Empty Lane
Chapter 23: Inn And Out
Chapter 24: Descent
Chapter 25: The Pit
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Chapter 25: The Pit


Chapter 26: Turntongue
Chapter 27: Repairs
Chapter 28: A Dinner At Shell Cottage
Chapter 29: The Ruby Ring
Chapter 30: The Kiss Of The Stag
Chapter 31: Hermione Explains Everything
Chapter 32: A Grand Holiday
Chapter 33: Christmas
Chapter 34: Auld Lang Syne
Chapter 35: Bailey's Brood
Chapter 36: Rendezvous At The Shrieking Shack
Chapter 37: The Southern Sky
Chapter 38: A Flower In The Snow
Chapter 39: The Trail Of The Flower
Chapter 40: The Storm
Chapter 41: Scars Of Battle
Chapter 42: A Brown Scarf And Pink Hair
Chapter 43: The Secret-Keeper
Chapter 44: Dumbledore's Regiment
Chapter 45: Master Of The Wand
Chapter 46: Seventh-Year Syndrome
Chapter 47: Answers
Chapter 48: Getting Better
Chapter 49: Le Ministre De La Magie
Chapter 50: Victories
Chapter 51: Harpy Heaven
Chapter 52: Leaving Hogwarts
Chapter 53: The Wedding Of Ginny And Harry

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Chapter 1: Faith
Author's Notes: MAJOR DH SPOILERS!!
I orginaly intended this fic to be a sequel to my first novel-length story, Losing Each Other. I will keep
some elements of that story, but instead of creating an alternate universe, I decided to keep it totally in
canon, including Deathly Hallows. As a result, there will be TOTAL 100% SPOILERS, especially in
chapter one, Faith. This chapter tells the story of the last battle from Ginny's POV.
Most chapters will be PG or PG13; however, there will be some sexual situations, and a la JKR, I may
indulge in some "colorful" language. Chapter One also contains a vivid description of a badly wounded
person.
There are two verbatim quotes of dialog from Deathly Hallows (US edition) in chapter one. One is from
page 696 and the other from page 741. There is also a paraphrase of another line from page 759. Enjoy,
as much as I enjoy writing H/G fics, and please leave reviews; all of your opinions and feelings are
appreciated. I like reading them and I like responding to them.
Ginny picked her way across the rubble in the entrance hall and walked out the front doors. She glanced
back to make sure no one had seen her, then slipped into the shadows that extended out across the lawn.
She had to get away from the body of her brother, and from George who was holding Freds head in his
lap, pressing his forehead to Freds, his unending tears bathing Freds bloody face; he would not move
away. Nor would Percy, who was kneeling at Freds feet, also hunched over but with his arms extended
as though trying to ward off the wall of stone that had fallen on them, crushing the life out of Fred. Her
parents simply sat next to the body, holding each other, Molly sobbing uncontrollably, Arthur staring into
space with tears streaming down his face. Ginny had begun to feel paralysis creeping into her heart,
joining the grief there, and that was why she had to get away. She could not let herself submit to that
paralysis.
She had not seen Harry for hours, ever since he and Ron and Hermione had disappeared into the Room
of Requirement on their mystery mission. She had followed Tonks downstairs to the Great Hall where
she had fallen in with Luna and Dean, fighting up and down the corridors until the disembodied voice of
Voldemort had filled the halls with its seductive message of false peace and its lies about Harry and had
called a truce.
She and her companions had gone back to the Great Hall, and then Percy had staggered in carrying the
body. Ginny had screamed and thrown herself at Percy, beating her fists against him in a rage, trying to
will away the death that stared from eyes that had always been laughing but now saw nothing. Bill pulled
her away, and she started flailing at him but he held her closely until her screams had become sobs. That
was when she had felt herself starting to fall into the pit of hopelessness and defeat, but when Ron and
Hermione returned without Harry, she pulled herself up from the floor where she had collapsed next to
Fred with her arms across his chest, and told herself what she had been telling herself all year: she had to
be ready for Harry, at some point he would need her and she had to be ready. She walked out of the
Great Hall, wiping her face and taking deep gulps of air.
Now she was moving across the lawn into the darkness. Bodies were strewn everywhere, most of them
students, and she stopped at each one to see if she could do anything. Most were dead, and she began to
weep again as she recognized faces and saw their wounds. She tried wiping away the blood with her
sleeves, until they became soaked and could not absorb any more, and then she just wiped as much of
the blood off as she could with her hands, and then cleaned them on the grass. One of two were still
alive, but she was afraid to move them, and she could not have lifted them anyway. She called to some
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alive, but she was afraid to move them, and she could not have lifted them anyway. She called to some
other students who were also out on the lawn looking for friends or relatives, and told them to hurry back
to the Great Hall and get help. They did what she asked; she supposed that her role in Dumbledores
Army and her reputation as Harrys girlfriend lent her a bit of authority.
She left the body of a sixthyear Hufflepuff boy, Joseph Pierce, who was in her Herbology classes and
a friend of Nevilles, and walked on. She was now about two hundred yards from the castle, and it was
very dark, but she did not dare light her wand. There were not many bodies here, but then she heard
moaning off to her left, and hurried toward it. She found a crumpled form, its limbs twisted gruesomely,
lying near the path to Hagrids cabin. She knelt next to it, but it was so dark this far from the castle that
she could see almost nothing. She moved so that she was between the body and the outer walls of the
grounds, and lit her wand but kept it as dim as she could.
She cried out and turned away when she saw the girls mutilated face. Her stomach churned; she had to
fight down the impulse to vomit that rose in her craw. She forced herself to look. There were gashes on
the girls cheeks and forehead, and her nose seemed to have been torn away. She was gasping through
her mouth with a rasping sound. Ginny thought of Fenrir Greyback, but it also looked, because of the
positions of her bent limbs, as if someone had deliberately broken both of her arms and legs.
Her eyes were open and they looked up at Ginny, but they were unfocussed and glazed. Ginny steeled
herself and tried to wipe the blood from her face or what was left of it and bent low over her. With
some of the blood gone although it kept on oozing from her nose and the gashes Ginny recognized
her. It was Elizabeth Derby, a fifthyear Ravenclaw, one of the Chasers on their Quidditch team; Ginny
had not played against her because the Ravenclaw match had taken place after Ginny had been whisked
from school by her father and Bill two months ago. Elizabeths hair had been long and blond. Ginny
knew that she was very popular, and was considered one of the more beautiful girls at school; there were
even rumors that she had Veela ancestors. Ginny was also quite certain that she was only fifteen, and so
she must have sneaked back into the Great Hall during the evacuation of the underage students. She had
decided to stay and fight, and she had ended up like this.
Ginny caressed her forehead, and leaned down closer to her bloody, disfigured face. She did not know if
the girl could hear her, but she began to talk. Its going to be all right, she said. Well get you back
inside. Youll be all right.
Elizabeth turned her eyes to Ginny, and they seemed to focus. The girls arm, which Ginny thought had
been twisted into an impossible position next to her, somehow moved and her hand reached up and
grabbed Ginnys. I dont want to go back there. I want to go home. Mummy. Wheres Mummy?
Its all right, Ginny wiped more blood from her forehead to keep it from running into her eyes. Well
get you back inside. Youll be okay.
But I want to go home. I dont want to fight anymore. Tears began running down her face and
mingled with the congealing blood from her nose.
I know, Ginny could not keep her voice from breaking. Its going to be all right.
Ginny looked up; she thought she had heard footsteps, but no one else was near. She peered into the
night and then she did hear something: it was definitely footsteps, but they were moving away from her.
She held her wand up, but there was nothing.
Elizabeths grip suddenly tightened on Ginnys hand, and Ginny bent down over her again. The girl was
now staring up at the sky, her eyes filled with terror. Her rattling breath cam in choking gasps. Then she
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now staring up at the sky, her eyes filled with terror. Her rattling breath cam in choking gasps. Then she
turned her head to Ginny, and her hand went limp. Ginny put it down on her chest and slumped to a
sitting position on the ground next to the lifeless body. She did not try to stop the sobs that racked her.
She did not know how long she sat there weeping, but she knew that it was getting close to the time of
Voldemorts deadline, when the attack would begin again. She doused her wand and stood; she knew she
had to get back to the castle. She wanted to be with her family, and she wanted to see Harry, even if she
could not speak to him. She had no illusions about how this was going to end; all she had to do was look
down at the broken, mutilated form at her feet.
She heaved a sigh that caught the last sob in her throat and started to walk back toward the castle. She
took three steps and suddenly the darkness around her vanished and there was a blinding vision in her
head. She was in her Quidditch robes in a crowded common room, and she was running toward the
portrait hole, but all she could see there were two emerald green points of light. She flung herself at them
and kissed Harrys lips, wrapping her arms tightly about him, and now it was not a vision but she was
kissing him and her entire body was anchored to his. He started to move backward away from her, but
she held onto him even more desperately, refusing to let him go. Then the vision vanished as suddenly as
it had appeared, and she was standing alone in the darkness.
Ginny stood rooted to the ground, unable to move or even think. The sky spun above her, and she
swayed dizzily; her heart was pounding. She could feel the wetness of the kiss on her lips. She put her
hand to them, and tasted Elizabeths blood. She spat it out, and the euphoria vanished. Here she was, and
there was the body of Elizabeth Derby, and she had no explanation for what had just happened.
She began walking again, but stopped when she heard distant bangs, and she turned to look through the
darkness toward the Forbidden Forest. Spells and sparks were rising above the trees. A spell would rise
into the air, and a few seconds later she could hear the bang that accompanied it. She also thought she
heard far off shouts and cheers. They must be coming, she thought. She turned and started walking again,
then began to run. She didnt stop until she reached the steps to the castle, where a few people were
standing and gazing toward the Forest. She passed through them and went into the Great Hall, looking
for her family.
Molly Weasley was on the platform in the back of the Hall with the rest of the Order; Kingsley
Shacklebolt was at the center of the group, and leaned toward Molly and said something to her as Ginny
entered the room. Molly turned and jumped down from the platform and came running to her, weaving
through the knots of people standing and sitting on the floor. Ginny! she yelled. Where were you?
We couldnt find you! Where did you go? She stopped in front of Ginny. She was wildlooking; her
eyes were red and puffy, her hair had come loose from the clip that was holding it and strands kept
falling across her face.
Molly took Ginnys hands in hers and stared at them, horrorstricken. Its not my blood, Ginny said
in a strangled voice. She looked at her mother beseechingly. Scourgify them, Mum, please, please.
Molly cleaned the blood off, and Ginny dropped her hands. Theyre coming, Mum. I was outside
looking for people on the lawn. The Death Eaters are sending up signals or something.
Yes, its almost time, Molly said distractedly. And no one knows where Harry is.
Ginny looked quickly away; she did not want her mother to see how frightened she had suddenly
become. Now she knew whose footsteps she had heard in the darkness. But there was a vision, she
thought. Had it been a farewell? She stumbled blindly to the door and back into the entrance hall.
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There was a small crowd there, and in a minute Ron and Hermione joined her. Have you seen Harry?
Ron asked, looking around. She looked at them wordlessly, then turned from them, also; she did not
want to speak of her vision, not before she knew what had happened to Harry.
The voice of Voldemort rang out in the castle again, and it spoke of the death of Harry Potter. Ginny
listened for a moment, but then began to shake her head violently; she put her hands over her ears and
looked down. She would not believe it, she would not believe that Harry was dead, no, not with the claim
coming from the mouth of the master deceiver, not with the feel of Harrys lips on hers still so real. She
would have to see it with her own eyes before she would believe it.
Voldemorts voice stopped, and for another few minutes there was silence. Ginny glared at Ron and
Hermione, as though she were daring them to believe what Voldemort had said, but they would not look
at her. Then someone standing on the steps outside shouted, Theyre here! People poured out of the
Great Hall, moving toward the doors. Ron pushed them open, and Ginny stepped through with him and
Hermione. When she came out onto the steps she saw that the Death Eaters were spreading out before
the castle in a long, menacing line.
Suddenly there was a scream and Ginny jumped; it was Professor McGonagall, but Ginny had never
heard anything like it from her before. Then Ginny came to the front of the crowd on the steps, at the
same moment as Ron and Hermione. Before her stood Voldemort; a great snake was wrapped around his
shoulders. Next to him, a waterfall of tears pouring down his face, stood Hagrid with the limp form of
Harry Potter in his arms.
The world tilted under Ginnys feet, and she, Ron, and Hermione all screamed at the same time. She
thought she saw Voldemort glance at them, and his eyes momentarily gleam. But then Ginny clapped her
hand over her mouth. Her mind was reeling, but she would still not believe it; she would not accept what
her eyes saw. And then she flashed back to the vision; her lips suddenly moistened again and Ginny
knew, beyond a doubt, with her entire being, that Harry was alive.
People around her began shouting curses, screaming at the Death Eaters, until a loud bang and a flash of
light from Voldemorts wand silenced them. He spoke to Hagrid and gestured, pointing to the ground in
front of his feet, and Hagrid gently placed Harrys body there. Harry lay still, he did not move. Ginny
could tell that Ron was trembling next to her, and she could hear Hermione crying on his other side. But
she did not cry. Tears were not needed, not for Harry. She would save them for those who needed them,
for Fred, and for Elizabeth.
Voldemort spoke in mocking tones to the throng on the stairs, but Ginny no longer cared about his
words. She did not take her eyes from Harry. There was movement around her, people shifting, taking
out their wands, muttering. Someone near her shouted, and she saw out of her peripheral vision that
Neville was charging forward, only to be stopped a few yards in front of Voldemort, his wand blown
away. Ginnys eyes stayed riveted on Harry.
Then, the two emerald green points of light that she had seen half an hour ago in the vision appeared
again, but this was not a vision, and a shock like a magical spell jolted her body. Ron reached to hold
her, thinking that she needed support, but she stood rock steady. For the tiniest instant, the two points of
light had appeared where Harrys eyes were.
Ginny knew that no one else had seen that blink of green; everyone was looking at Neville and
Voldemort. Neville was shouting at Voldemort, who responded with contemptuous sneers. Then he
waved his wand, and Neville stood straight and rigid, unable to move. Ginny still had not taken her eyes
from Harry, and she saw the green points again, but this time his eyes stayed open. Voldemort waved his
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from Harry, and she saw the green points again, but this time his eyes stayed open. Voldemort waved his
wand, and those around Ginny looked up as something soared out of the castle into Voldemorts hand.
Another jolt coursed through Ginny when she recognized the Sorting Hat, and the hope which had
already been rising inside her, now flared into a certainty: she remembered five years back to the
Chamber of Secrets, and she knew that Voldemort himself was about to deliver the tool of his own
destruction into the hand of his enemy.
Voldemort walked forward and placed the Sorting Hat on Nevilles head, and Ginny, still staring at
Harry, leaned toward Ron and whispered, Watch Harry.
Ron turned to look at her, total incomprehension on his face. But as Ginny began to say more, the world
exploded around them. The Sorting Hat burst into flames, there were distant shouts and the sound of
thundering hooves from the edge of the grounds, a rush of wings from the skies above, and the booms of
a giants footsteps to her right.
Voldemort looked up, then around, and a moment of alarm passed over his face. It was instantly replaced
with rage, and he looked back at Neville, but too late. Ginny had seen Harry jump up and throw his
Cloak over himself, and she saw the Shield Charm come up between Neville and Voldemort. And then
silver and red flashed, and a giant snake head was flying into the air.
Chaos erupted. Ginny shot a Stunning spell at Voldemort but it missed and struck a Death Eater standing
behind him. People shouted and screamed. Ginny tried to get closer to where Harry had been, but there
was now a mob of defenders and Death Eaters in front. A deep booming voice from behind her shouted,
Fight them! Fight them! and spells and jinxes started flying everywhere.
Ginny was pushed back into the entrance hall and then into the Great Hall along with the rest of the
castles defenders. She stood for a moment, uncertain what was happening as Death Eaters, too, were
forced into the room, but then Hermione grabbed her. Stick together! she shouted over the roar of
voices and the explosions of spells hitting the walls and windows. Luna was with her, and Hermione
pointed her wand at a tall female Death Eater who was only a few yards away. But as Hermiones spell
shot toward her, she whirled with a maniacal screech and parried it, then sent what seemed like dozens of
hexes back at them. Ginny recognized Bellatrix Lestrange, and a fury that she had never felt before rose
in her. This was the witch who had killed the only family that had been left to Harry.
The three girls immediately had their hands full. Spread out! screamed Hermione, and in the instant
that Ginny was momentarily distracted, a jet of green flame passed just in front of her, barely missing her
face. She heard another scream, and thought that someone had been hit, but then a hand threw her aside
and her mother was standing in front of her, shouting curses at Bellatrix and firing spells so fast that
Ginny could not follow them.
She had never seen her mother like this. She was a madwoman and there was murder in her eyes. She
seemed to have grown taller, and her hair was flying in back of her, a mane of flaming red. Bellatrix
began taunting, and Ginny saw her mothers face become colder as her wand became a blur. Bellatrix let
out a shriek of insane laughter. Ginny heard her mother snarl like an animal, and her next spell hit the
Death Eater square in the chest, and Bellatrix dropped to the floor, dead.
A shriek of rage and a loud bang came from the other end of the Great Hall. Ginny saw three bodies fly
through the air and crash to the floor. Voldemort was in the center of a large circle of people. Ginny
looked around and saw no Death Eaters standing, but to her amazement there were dozens of house
elves around the room, some with bloody knives and cleavers in their hands; she could also see centaurs
waving their bows, shouting and stamping their hooves.
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A Shield Charm appeared in front of Voldemort, and then Harry was standing there, and the room
erupted in cries of Harry! and Hes alive! Hermione grabbed Ginnys arm, an expression of total joy
spreading across her face. Ginny just looked at her and smiled. I knew he wasnt gone, she whispered.
I always knew. Then the room went totally silent, and Ginny turned her head to see what was
happening.
Harry and voldemort were circling each other, wands raised. Ginny pushed to the front of the circle they
were prowling, watching their dance, and she knew it was a dance of death. She watched Harry as he
circled. When Harry was in front of her, his back only a few feet away, she lifted her wand a few inches,
closed her eyes, and willed her love, her total love, into his body. When Voldemort was in front of her
she stared at the back of his hairless head and emptied her mind of everything; she did not want to give
him a hint of her presence or what she was feeling for Harry.
The dance continued, and Ginny sensed the climax approaching; she saw it in Harrys eyes as he circled
across from her, and she saw his wand come up a fraction of an inch. As he approached her again, she
listened to what he was saying.
Its your last chance, its all youve got left, Harry said. Ive seen what youll be otherwise. Harry
was directly in front of her now, and she sent a wave of emotion toward him. He hesitated for a fraction
of a second. Be a man ... try ... Try for some remorse. Ginny saw something in Voldemorts eyes that
had not been there before, but then it was gone, and he and Harry continued to circle.
Ginny only watched Harry. They were talking about wands, when suddenly the ceiling overhead burst
into light as the sun rose, and then there was a massive explosion as red and green flames met in the
center of the circle, and Tom Riddle lay dead, almost at her feet.
She stared at the body for a moment, then looked across at Harry and for an instant their eyes met, Then
Hermione was charging across to Harry and jumping on him and screaming as Ron was hugging both of
them, and then Ginny found herself next to Harry with her arms around him for the first time since last
summer, and then they were surrounded by a mass of screaming witches and wizards and houseelves
and centaurs and Hagrid.
As Ginny finally relinquished her place next to Harry, he glanced at her again, and she knew what his
eyes were saying: today was for the rest of the world, but tomorrow would be hers. She smiled, but as
she started to pull her hand from his, the cheering, jostling crowd pushed them momentarily together
again, and his palm pressed into her thigh. He left it there for a longer moment than he had to. Ginny felt
a flush of heat rise into every part of her body, radiating from the place where his hand was. Then they
were separated by the mob, and Ginny moved slowly away.
When the cheers and the celebrations had died away, and the tables had reappeared and people began to
sit down, Ginny found herself back with her family. She didnt try to look for Harry; she was content to
leave him for others this day. She rested her head on her mums shoulder and looked toward the side of
the room where the bodies of fallen friends and family lay. Her eyes began to fill with tears. George and
Percy were with Fred again, and Ginny knew that as today wore on and when she woke up tomorrow his
death would not seem real. She did not know what the world would be like without Fred.
She saw Ron and Hermione walking toward the door, separated by a space of about two feet, and Ginny
knew that Harry was between them under his Cloak. She watched them leave, and then heaved a sigh
and took her mums hand. Molly squeezed it and then put her arm around Ginny and pulled her to her
bosom; she was weeping. Ginny put her arms around her mother. Her heart had become filled with pain
again, but it was also now buoyed by a glorious feeling of hope and anticipation. Harry would be
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again, but it was also now buoyed by a glorious feeling of hope and anticipation. Harry would be
sleeping in his room in the Gryffindor Tower, and Ginny would be sleeping in hers, only a few yards
away, under the same roof. Today and tomorrow and for a long time would be days of grief for Fred and
Elizabeth and all the others, but starting tomorrow would also be an endless time of rediscovered
happiness. She knew that all would be well.
Back to index

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Chapter 2: Anticipation
Author's Notes: I am able to post this chapter so soon after chapter one was posted because I wrote it
while the queue was still closed. The next chapter will take a little longer to submit.
Readers of Professor Tolkien will recognize a reference in this chapter to a plant he described that has
come down to the wizarding world from Middle Earth. It was known through the Fourth Age of Middle
Earth as symbelmyne, but wizards know it by a different name. The Professors history does not tell us
how it managed to survive so long as a magical species in Britain, and I will not speculate here. 08/07/07
- Made some small changes for smoothness.
The second day after the battle dawned overcast but warm. When Ginny awoke in her fourposter she
was momentarily disoriented, and did not know where she was. But as soon as she looked up and saw
the red and gold canopy, she remembered that Fred was gone, and it was as if a huge weight fell on her.
She closed her eyes again, and everything else flooded back: swirling images of explosions, bodies,
spells, blood, broken limbs, destruction. Over it all was the face of her dead brother.
But there was also another face, looking at her from the middle of a screaming, joyous mob. Even as
tears for her brother spilled down her cheeks and onto her pillow, she realized she was hugging herself
and wanting, more than anything except the return of Fred, Harry to hold and comfort her.
She heard low voices; she wiped her face and pushed back the hangings. Three cots lined the wall next
to her bed, and she remembered that the seventhyear dorm room was unusable. The only serious
damage sustained by the Gryffindor Tower was a large hole in the peaked roof, and the uppermost girls
room now had an openair skylight. The houseelves had set up cots in the sixthyear room, and
Hermione, Lavender, and Parvati had moved in. Hermiones cot had not been slept in, and Ginny
assumed that she, Ron, and Harry had stayed up with the teachers and the Order, deciding what to do
next, making plans for taking back the Ministry of Magic, doing whatever it was you did after you won a
war.
Morning, Gin, how are you doing? Parvati called. She and Lavender were still in their cots, and a
white bandage was wrapped around Lavenders head.
Ginny shrugged. Not great.
Parvati nodded. Im sorry.
Parvatis question had brought a lump to Ginnys throat, and she took a breath. The two girls looked at
her, and Ginny noticed that Lavenders eyes were red and swollen. I cried in my pillow all night for
Colin, she said, They made him leave, and then he came back... She couldnt go on, and put her back
to the room and began crying softly; Parvati put her hand on her shoulder.
Did you see Hermione last night? Ginny asked as she got up and began dressing. Was she here at all?

Parvati glanced at Lavender. Uh, no... she hesitated.


I heard that that Room of Requirement with the hammocks was still open, came the voice of Sarah
Brushmore, one of Ginnys sixthyear roommates, from behind the hangings of her fourposter. I
also heard that a bunch of people stayed there last night. Parvati sent a dirty look toward the closed bed,
and Lavenders sobs became louder.
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and Lavenders sobs became louder.


What about the prefects? Ginny asked.
There was a giggle. Some of them were prefects.
Ginny looked puzzled for a moment, then a light dawned, and she looked sympathetically at Lavender,
then added her own scowl to Parvatis, directed toward the invisible Sarah. And she also smiled tightly
to herself; if Ron and Hermione had slept in a hammock together last night, she would remember it, if it
turned out that Ron still believed he had the right to make comments about her own love life, or bust into
her room again without knocking. Of course, he had shared a tent with Hermione for nine months, but
Harry had always been with them.
She finished dressing and went down to the common room, and looked around hopefully for Harry, but
he wasnt there. She hurried out the portrait hole and down to the Great Hall, passing piles of rubble and
damaged furniture, portraits, wall hangings, and suits of armor. Students were wandering around looking
at it; many of them were holding hands, and many had tearstained faces. The damage to the building
itself was terrible: holes blasted in walls, windows shattered, timbers splintered, bloodstains everywhere.
But the most remarkable thing that Ginny saw, in every hallway and corridor, was the houseelves. She
had never seen so many outside the kitchen. They were everywhere, scurrying about sorting damaged
items, carrying stones and lengths of timber, sweeping floors and cleaning walls. She did not see anyone
directing them, but they all seemed to know exactly what to do. She also passed through corridors where
damage had already been repaired; Hogwarts was starting to recover.
The Great Hall still showed major signs of damage: blast marks scorched the walls, and most of the
windows were broken; but the enchanted ceiling was intact, and all four House tables were set up with
many people eating at them. The bodies that had lain along the wall were gone.
Ginny spotted Bill and Fleur at the Gryffindor table with their backs to her. She walked over and put her
hand on Bills shoulder, and when she saw his grim face her tears began to flow again. He took her in
his arms and she sat down next to him. Fleur put her hand over Ginnys arms that were wrapped around
Bills neck.
When Ginny was finally able to stop crying, she wiped her face and began dishing porridge into a bowl
and then attacked her breakfast; meals had been a little sketchy yesterday, and she hadnt realized how
hungry she was. Bill put his hand on her shoulder. Harry was here, he said. He asked for you, but he
had to go see Kingsley up in McGonagalls office I mean the Headmistresss office and he said hed
be back as soon as he could.
Ginny nodded, thinking about the hug she had just given herself in bed, and also remembering the rush
of heat through her body when Harry put his hand on her thigh in the middle of that raucous crowd of
celebrants after the battle. She bit into a slice of toast and swallowed it with a little difficulty. She
glanced around the room. Where are the...
They set up a big tent on the lawn, right outside the doors. All the bodies got moved last night. Mum
and Dad are there.
When she was finished Ginny went outside. The tent was not as big as she had thought or feared. It
stood just off to the side of the drive. It was light gray, with a peaked roof and only one opening. She
walked inside and saw about fifty coffins set in rows on tables. Each one had a large bouquet of white
flowers on it, which Ginny recognized from Herbology: syntle, a small white flower that was said to
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flowers on it, which Ginny recognized from Herbology: syntle, a small white flower that was said to
grow on land where the dead were buried. Professor Sprout had only one planting of it, since it was very
rare, but here, somehow, there were hundreds of them bringing a touch of beauty into a somber place.
There were many people in the tent, in small and large groups gathered around coffins. The Weasleys
were standing next to one in the front row, and just behind them Ginny saw Andromeda Tonks with an
infant in her arms, sitting next to a table on which rested two coffins. Kingsley Shacklebolt was with her,
and another woman Ginny did not recognize: she was slender and darkskinned, wearing white robes
and a white turban.
Ginny walked toward her family; they were all there including Hermione, who was leaning on Rons
shoulder except Bill and Fleur. Her mother detached herself from the group and met Ginny as she
approached. Molly looked exhausted, haggard; her eyes were puffy; her hair was pulled back and tied,
but it was uncombed. Her clothes looked like they had been slept in, but Ginny didnt think her mum had
slept at all. Molly took Ginnys face in her hands and looked at her; the ferocity Ginny had seen when
she had killed Bellatrix was gone. In its place was a distant confusion, as if she were lost.
Her mum embraced her, and Ginny could feel her trembling. Molly held Ginny tightly, almost
uncomfortably, for a long time. Her father finally came and led them back to Freds coffin. George was
leaning on it, his head bowed. Ginny stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. He hugged her, but
began to weep and turned away.
Percy, Ron, and Hermione were seated on the other side of the table, facing Ginny, and they looked up as
footsteps stopped behind her. She turned to see four wizards looking at her.
Excuse me, Miss Weasley, the wizard who looked to be the oldest of them said. He was dressed in
simple robes, and had a roughhewn face and eyes that might have been kind except for the pain in
them. His hair was graying, but may have been blond at one time. They all nodded to Arthur.
Ginny looked uncertainly at her father. How can we help you? Arthur asked the wizard who had
spoken.
Im sorry to bother you, sir, He shifted on his feet. I know you lost your son. Im sorry.
Arthur nodded. Did you want to ask Ginny something?
Actually, we wanted her to show us something.
Arthur frowned, and Charlie moved so that he was standing next to Ginny. The wizard noted his
muscular bulk. If you dont mind, that is.
What do you want? said Arthur. You know who we are. Who are you?
Im sorry. My name is Jensarod Wilson, this is my brother Herlo, and these are John and James Derby.
We thought that maybe
Youre Elizabeths brothers, Ginny said to the two Derby wizards.
No, Miss, the one named James answered; his hair was dark, but Ginny remembered that Elizabeths
eyes were blue like his. Lizzie was my niece, were all her uncles. We heard that you were with her
when she... at the end. His voice broke, and he cleared his throat. We were hoping you could show us
where it happened and maybe tell us something about it.
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where it happened and maybe tell us something about it.


Ginny leaned back against the table. She didnt really want to go back there, nor did she want to talk
about what she had seen. But she also saw the pain in the four pairs of eyes. Ill do it, she said in a low
voice.
Ginny, you dont have to go down there, her father said.
No, its okay, Ill go. She looked around at her brothers. Can someone come with me?
Charlie stepped forward immediately and took Ginnys arm. As they started to walk away, she paused,
and looked at Ron and Hermione. If Harry comes, tell him Ill be right back.
She let the four wizards lead her and Charlie out of the tent and then she turned off the drive and started
across the lawn toward the Forbidden Forest. She walked slowly, trying to retrace her steps. After about
ten minutes, she stopped next to a spot where the grass was still bloodstained, as if a body had lain there.
She looked at the Forest and then back at the castle. This is it. She pointed to the bloody grass. She
was here when I found her.
The four wizards stared at the spot. Jensarod turned to Ginny. What was she like?
Ginny looked at the sky. It was still overcast, and was beginning to appear stormy; a small breeze had
sprung up. She could hear birds singing in the trees at the edge of the Forest. Charlie took her hand.
You dont have to talk about it, he murmured.
She swallowed and forced herself to speak. No, I want to. She gave Jensarod a blazing look. I want
everyone to know what she looked like, what they did to her. Her face was bleeding. She had big gashes
on her cheeks and forehead. Her nose was... was gone, it just wasnt there. It was just a... a bloody hole.
And her arms and legs were broken. They did what they wanted to, and then they threw her away!
Ginnys eyes brimmed with tears and she began to shout. She wanted her mum! She was scared and she
wanted to go home! The wizards leaned back from the force of her voice that was almost like an attack.
Ginnys voice dropped. I was holding her hand, and then it went limp. That was all. She looked at the
bloody grass, then at Elizabeths uncles. They looked as though they had been clubbed over the head.
Didnt you see her before they closed the coffin? Ginny asked.
Jensarod shook his head. They had already sealed it. They told us they couldnt undo the magic.
Charlie put his arm around Ginnys shoulders. Come on, Ginny, lets go back.
Miss Weasley, John Derby spoke as Ginny was about to leave. Thank you for being there. It must
have been... really hard. Ginny nodded, but he continued. Tell Harry Potter that as far as Im
concerned hes the greatest wizard who ever lived. We heard what he did, how he walked into their
camp. Tell him that.
Ginny finally turned and started walking, just as she had done two nights ago, except that now Charlie
was holding her arm, keeping her from stumbling. She counted her steps, and at the third one she put her
hand to her lips and closed her eyes. She had kissed Harry, even though it was a vision. She ached for
him, and a sob escaped through her fingers. Charlie tightened his hold and they soon came back to the
tent.
Everyone was still there, except for Ron and Hermione. Her father told her that Harry had shown up and
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Everyone was still there, except for Ron and Hermione. Her father told her that Harry had shown up and
waited, but then Neville had come and said he needed help with something up in the Room of
Requirement, and Harry had left with Ron and Hermione. Harry said hell be down for lunch, Arthur
finished.
They all stayed in the tent for another hour, talking quietly, bringing Andromeda into their group after
Kingsley and the dark, slender witch left. Percy told Ginny that she was Saliyah Ushujaa, Kingsleys
companion and an Auror. Ginny found Elizabeths coffin and saw her parents. Her mother bore a strong
resemblance to Fleur, and Ginny knew then that the rumors about Elizabeths Veela ancestry were true.
Elizabeths father talked to her and thanked her for trying to comfort his daughter, but his wife sat in a
chair next to the coffin and did not take her eyes from it and did not speak.
She was our beauty, Mr. Derby said through his tears. Now shes gone. Ginny could bear no more,
and left the tent.
The Great Hall was filling up for lunch, and Ginny sat at the Gryffindor table, facing the door so that she
could see Harry when he came in. But when Neville appeared with Luna and Dean, Harry was not with
them. They all sat down across from Ginny.
Harry and Ron and Hermione had to go into Hogsmeade, Neville reported. Somethings going on at
the Hogs Head between Aberforth and some goblins. Shacklebolt wouldnt say what it was, but he
wanted Harry there. Ginny sighed and poked at her food; all of a sudden she wasnt very hungry.
Luna glanced at the Ravenclaw table. Lets eat over there tonight, that would be a nice treat for them,
theyd like that, she said. Harry was really angry.
Huh? Ginny was pouring herself a glass of pumpkin juice, and she looked at Luna quizzically, then at
Neville.
Yeah, said Neville, as he reached across Dean and grabbed a chicken leg from a serving dish. He was
really pissed off. He said you were waiting for him at lunch, but then McGonagall and some bloke from
the Ministry showed up and whatever was happening in Hogsmeade was getting worse, and they really
needed Harry. Dunno why, though, he shrugged.
Before Ginny could question him further, Neville was distracted by two sixthyear Hufflepuff girls who
stopped next to him. Hi, Neville, said one, a very pretty darkcomplexioned brunette; she smiled at
him. Hows your big sword?
Ginny gagged on a mouthful of pumpkin juice, splattering it all over Luna, who seemed only mildly
surprised by the orange shower. Neville turned bright red, and Dean nudged him, then grinned at the two
girls.
Its, uh, its fine, Neville stammered, a drumstick halfway to his mouth.
Can you show it to us? the brunette asked in a throaty voice.
There was a thump under the table, and Neville scowled at Dean. But then he dropped the chicken leg on
his plate and stood up. Sure, you want to see it? Its up in my room. Come on, Ill get it. He looked at
Dean again, who nodded encouragingly, and after another second Neville turned to the girls. Why dont
you wait, uh, wait up on the seventh floor in front of that big tapestry with the dancing trolls?
The one who had spoken took Nevilles arm. Well wait anywhere you want us to. They walked
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The one who had spoken took Nevilles arm. Well wait anywhere you want us to. They walked
toward the door, but just before they reached it the girl on his arm turned and winked at her friend, who
peeled off and went the other way, back to the Hufflepuff table. Neville and his new friend disappeared
into the entrance hall.
Ginny watched them leave, then Scourgified Luna. Has that been happening a lot? she asked Dean.
Yup. At first he ignored it, but I had a few words with him and now it looks like hes right on top of it.
He grinned at Ginny.
Well, I wish him luck, Ginny said as she stood up. By the way, did Harry know when he would be
back?
No. Sorry, Ginny. But like Neville said, he was really ticked off.
Ginny left the Great Hall and went back outside to the tent; she found her parents and George sitting by
the coffin. She pulled up a chair and stayed with them, mostly holding her mothers hand, occasionally
weeping herself. She saw Elizabeth Derbys uncles come in, and noticed then that there was a very large
number of witches and wizards gathered around that coffin, plus a young female houseelf who was
holding the bouquet of syntle. As Ginny watched, Elizabeths father helped her mother stand, and then
one of the uncles took his wand out and the coffin rose off the table and floated ahead of the family as
they moved out of the tent. John Derby nodded to Ginny as he left and she bowed her head in return.
And even though she tried not to, she remembered the blood on the grass.
Ginny decided to leave, also; she followed the Derbys outside and went up to the common room. She
was feeling tired and dispirited, and did not even know if she wanted to see Harry right now. House
elves were still bustling about industriously, and she was surprised at how much progress they had made.
All of the windows were repaired, there were no longer any piles of furniture or other damaged items in
the hallways although none of them had been returned to their proper places yet and she did not see
any bloodstains on the walls. It was amazing, she thought, almost a miracle. Her spirits rose, and she
entered the portrait hole hoping against hope that Harry would be there.
He wasnt, and Ginnys mood collapsed. None of her friends were there either, so she slowly climbed
the stairs to her room, hoping now that it would be empty, wanting to be alone and not have to talk to
anyone. This hope was fulfilled. She lay down on her bed, pulled the hangings shut, and, feeling
thoroughly sorry for herself, had a good cry and fell asleep on her wet pillow.
When she woke up and opened the hangings she saw that she had slept away most of the afternoon and
the sky was darkening; she could hear distant rumbles of thunder echoing in the hills. Her roommate,
Christina, was standing in front of a mirror adjusting her clothes and primping her hair. Hi, Ginny, she
said when she saw Ginny in the mirror. Harry Potter was just in the common room looking for you.
Ginny jumped out of bed, ran a brush quickly through her hair, straightened her blouse, and rushed
downstairs. She didnt see Harry, but Ron was standing next to a table glancing through a copy of the
Prophet. He looked up when Ginny came over and showed her the headlines: Shacklebolt Takes Over
Ministry read the first; and below it: Prison Conditions Worsen As Azkaban Fills Up.
No matter what happens, he grumbled, no matter how good things are, theyll always find something
to complain about. I mean, who gives a rats ass if they pack a hundred of them into one cell?
Wheres Harry? Ginny ignored his rant. Ron frowned, and Ginnys spirits sank once more.
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He and Hermione got called up to McGonagalls office again. Some stupid git found the tent we were
using and got lost in it. Harry asked me to wait here and tell you hed meet you at dinner.
Ginnys frustration had turned to resignation. Maybe they would have better luck tomorrow. Come on,
then, she sighed, lets go eat.
They trudged down to the Great Hall even more damage had been fixed in the hallways and joined
the rest of the family. But of course Harry and Hermione did not show up. They all went outside to the
tent after the meal and stood around the coffin in candlelight, holding hands. Bill told her that they
would be taking Fred home tomorrow to be buried the day after at the Burrow. When she heard this,
Ginny broke down. It was final, totally final. Fred would be in the ground; she would never see him
again. She would visit his grave and cry, and that would be the closest she would ever be able to get to
him, ever. Bill held her as she sobbed inconsolably, until finally, gasping for breath, she tried to pull
herself back together.
Ginny knew that it wasnt just the finality of the impending funeral that was turning her into a weeping
mess. She needed Harry. She had waited almost a year, and now that he was in her grasp he kept on
slipping away. She was constantly touching her lips, feeling his kiss on them, but now she wanted the
real thing, not the afterimage of a vision. She had never known such longing, not even in the darkest
days of last winter when Harry was somewhere out in the cold world running from death and she didnt
know if she would ever see him again.
She found herself alone back in the common room waiting for Harry, curled up in a chair under a
window being pelted by rain as lightning flashed and thunder rolled. The storm was perfect, as far as she
was concerned; let it rain on everyone, why should she be alone in her misery? As the hour grew late,
Ginny slipped lower into the chair and dozed.
A peal of thunder woke her up. She sat up and looked around; the common room was empty, the fire
almost out. She heard a noise and saw the door to the boys stairway closing behind someone; she
thought she saw a shock of black hair and a lanky body. She jumped up, but as she called Harry! a
loud clap of thunder drowned her voice. She ran to the door, opened it a few inches and peered up. She
heard footsteps and called again, but whoever it was kept climbing.
She pushed the door open and stepped into the stairwell. She had been in the boys tower only once
before, and she felt a little awkward; she did not want to run into anyone in his skivvies, even though
she had long ago gotten used to it at the Burrow. She started quietly climbing. She met no one and heard
no one. When she reached the top she hesitated. What if it wasnt Harry that she had seen? Still, the
worst that could happen was that she would find one of his roommates in his underwear, and she had
seen worse things than that.
She knocked softly. Harry? she called. There was silence for a moment, then footsteps. The door
opened, and Dean stood in front of her in his pajamas holding up a lit wand; behind him was Seamus
also with his wand alight. Dean blinked. Blimey, Ginny, what are you doing here?
I thought I saw Harry come up. I fell asleep in a chair and someone came up the stairs, and I... She felt
herself blush, and Dean smiled.
He hasnt been here all day, as far as I can tell. He turned to Seamus, who shook his head. But if we
see him, should we tell him...?
No, no, thats all right. Tell him Ill see him in the morning. Thanks. She turned and started down the
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No, no, thats all right. Tell him Ill see him in the morning. Thanks. She turned and started down the
stairs. She stopped at a window halfway down and looked out. Flashes of lightning lit the hills across
the lake; below her she could see the tent illuminated in a ghostly fashion by dozens of candles; the
shadows of a few people moved around inside, still mourning, still unable to leave their loved ones.
Harry was like one of those shadows. He had been moving about all day as she looked down from
above, unable to reach him, unable to...
She stopped herself. This was silly; she would see him tomorrow. But still, it was frustrating that a whole
day had gone by, a day that she had been anticipating for almost a year. Everyone else had wanted
Harry, and everyone else had gotten him, except
The door at the foot of the stairs opened and closed and someone began climbing. Ginny turned, her
heart pounding, and Harry stood in front of her, looking tired and surprised. Blimey, Ginny, what are
you doing here? I was looking for you everywhere. Hermione went up to your room but you werent
there and...
And? Ginny was trembling; she was sure Harry could tell.
He walked slowly to her. Why did you come up here?
I was looking for you. I fell asleep in a chair, and I thought I saw you go upstairs, but Dean said you
werent there and...
And? He took her hands. And this? He put his arms around her and kissed her mouth, and she
kissed him and then he was crushing her against him and then his hands took her hair and his mouth was
kissing her face, her eyes, her nose, her chin, her lips. She was digging her fingernails into his back and
he was kissing her ferociously and she was beating her palms against his back, wanting to rivet their
bodies together. They were on their knees, their thighs and bellies and chests pressed together. Harrys
hands were all over her and she was crying out and Harry pushed her down.
No, no, Harry! she gasped. Not not
Not what? he was breathing fast; his mouth was on her neck, his hands on her shoulders, pressing her
to the floor.
Not here. Someone might come. She sat up and leaned against the wall, panting. Harry was on his
knees in front of her. Their breathing gradually slowed.
He got up and held his hand to her and pulled her up. Come with me, he said. I know where.
They made their way to the corridor outside the Room of Requirement, and when it opened for them and
they stepped inside Ginny saw dark velvet curtains all around, lit by dim candles, and a thick carpet on
the floor. It was very quiet, not in a sinister way but hushed. The carpet muffled their footsteps as Harry
led her along a curtained corridor, and they heard no sounds. They came to a break in the curtains, and
Ginny saw a chamber, walled by more curtains, with a large hammock suspended in the air, and candles
glowing with a soft yellow light.
Harry pulled her inside, and the curtain closed behind them; the world was quiet and still. Someone
found this the morning after the battle, Harry whispered. I guess they needed some privacy. I dont
think the teachers know about it yet. He grinned.
Its lovely. Its perfect. She sat on the hammock and when he sat next to her they rolled into it. It was
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Its lovely. Its perfect. She sat on the hammock and when he sat next to her they rolled into it. It was
made of a fine, soft silky material, and when they put their heads down, puffy satin pillows appeared
underneath them.
Harry reached down and pulled both of their trainers and socks off. They lay back, wiggling their toes.
Ginny turned to him, but before she could say anything they heard a clanking noise nearby, and high,
giggling laughter. Then they heard a lower voice, and even though it was muffled, they both recognized
it.
Neville? said Harry, a little surprised.
Sounds like. I think hes taking advantage of his new rep.
Good for him. I was thinking about doing the same thing myself.
Oh, so you think you have a rep?
I dont know. Do I?
Yes. And I was also hoping you would take advantage of it.
They did not sleep at all that night, and between caresses they talked for hours.
Back to index

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Chapter 3: Best Mates


Author's Notes: This chapter is shorter than I had intended, but I got to what seemed a good place to
end it, and at the same time I thought that submitting a new chapter sooner rather than later was a good
thing. So here it is. I hope it meets everyone's expectations.
I also want to thank everyone who has reviewed the story so far, and everyone who has nominated it for
a DSTA. I can't tell you all how much I appreciate it.
09/24/07: edited to correct an inconsistency with a later chapter.
At breakfast the next morning Ginny noticed that two people kept looking at her. One of them, Ron, had
a crease in his brow and didnt speak to either herself or Harry. The other, Fleur, kept smiling at her and
spent a lot of time pushing food at Harry, saying he needed to keep up his strength. Ginny thought that
what Fleur didnt know might surprise her, but she said nothing. Maybe Harrys yawns were giving the
wrong impression.
As for Ron, the twofaced git could go stuff it, as far as Ginny was concerned. If all he did was throw
looks at her and Harry, then things might be alright. But if he went any further, she would have it out
with him, even though she sincerely hoped that he would not say anything during the next few days;
neither she nor her parents nor any of her brothers, especially George, needed a family row at the present
time.
But these unpleasant thoughts didnt linger. Harry was sitting next to her, and even though his head kept
drooping, he glanced at her often, offering to fill her glass from the pitcher of pumpkin juice, and not
letting her serve herself; it was sweet, and also a little annoying, but he had never behaved with such
determined chivalry before, so she let him do it. Her brothers and parents definitely noticed, and she saw
whispers behind hands and quick smiles sent her way.
There was one other thing that especially kept Ginny from stopping Harrys attentions: it really seemed
to please her mum. She smiled at Ginny for the first time since the battle, and ate a normal breakfast, not
leaving most of her food on her plate as she had been doing. Ginny just hoped that she wouldnt find out
about last night.
The plan for the day was to Portkey to the Burrow as soon as everyone could get ready. Ginny, Ron,
Harry, and Hermione went back to their rooms after breakfast and packed whatever they would be
needing for the next day or two, since there might be a delay in getting their trunks home because most
of the houseelves were still so busy repairing the castle. Ginny said goodbye to her roommates and
hugged her friends, and there were more than a few tears, not only because of the deaths of Fred, Colin,
and all the others, but also because some of them were graduating and would not be back at school next
year.
She gave Dean Thomas a special goodbye hug. Maybe well run into each other in Diagon Alley,
Ginny said to him as she was about to leave the common room. Or maybe well have a DA reunion at
the Burrow.
That would be fun, he smiled. Good luck, Ginny. Ill see you around. As she was climbing out the
portrait hole she looked back one last time, and saw him sit down with Parvati, Lavender, and Seamus;
Parvati had her arm around Lavender who had been weeping again over Colin Creevey.
She hadnt seen Neville in the common room, and she kept a lookout for him and Luna on her way
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She hadnt seen Neville in the common room, and she kept a lookout for him and Luna on her way
downstairs. She was descending a moving staircase, and as it swung into a landing, Neville appeared
around the corner with the Hufflepuff girl who had spoken to him at lunch yesterday. Im glad I saw
you! Ginny exclaimed. Were leaving soon. I wanted to say goodbye. I dont know when Ill see you
again.
Neville stood awkwardly, his hands jammed into his pockets. Well, I guess...
Im Keesha Baker, the girl held out her hand. Ginny shook it and the girls grinned at each other.
Weve been in a few classes together, but we never talked, I guess.
Maybe we can next year, Ginny said. She turned to Neville. Take care, Neville. Im sure well run
into each other. I told Dean we should have a DA reunion some time. Think your Gran will mind? she
laughed.
Neville also smiled. Not any more. Bye, Ginny. They stood looking at each other.
Ginny threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. She was not surprised to notice that they both
had watery eyes. You were my first date, she whispered to him.
But not your last, he laughed. Ginny gave him a quick peck on his cheek, squeezed Keeshas hand,
and hurried down the stairs before she started bawling. She didnt see Luna, but she knew that she and
her father would be at the funeral.
Many other families were also leaving, and there was a large pile of traveling bags in the entrance hall.
Ginny went outside and found the Weasleys gathered around Freds coffin in the tent; Harry and
Hermione were also there. Ginny gave Harry a quick kiss with all of her brothers watching. Harry
glanced around, and they all looked away except for Ron; he just stared at Harry. Ginnys mouth was
about to open when Bill stepped between her and Ron; he looked at Ginny and put his finger to his
mouth and shook his head.
George led the family out of the tent with the coffin floating before him, directed by his wand. Arthur
and Molly came next. Ron and Hermione were behind them, and then Charlie and Percy, followed by
Ginny and Harry; Bill and Fleur brought up the rear. It seemed to Ginny that Charlie had deliberately put
himself between Ron and herself. When she looked at Harry he was staring ahead at Ron. She took his
arm and he put his hand on hers.
The Department of Magical Transportation had set up tables on the other side of the drive where families
could place the coffins; officials from the Department were processing them and scheduling Portkeys,
and as each family Portkeyed away, a coffin would also blink out and disappear. George set Freds
down, and they all walked to another table on which lay dozens of battered old shoes, dust bin lids,
dented pots, and other assorted objects. An old witch with yellow teeth sat behind it; a sign next to her
read, Portkey Office. Please Form A Single Line. Thank You. The Weasleys joined the queue. When
they reached the front they saw that Professor McGonagall was also there, and she hugged both Molly
and Arthur.
Well see you tomorrow, she said. Harry, she turned to him, Professor Flitwick asked me to tell you
that he will be there and you can discuss the matter with him then.
Ginny looked questioningly at Harry. I wanted some private tutoring, he said under his breath. We
missed a whole year.
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Ginny was puzzled. But how will you do that? He cant leave Hogwarts just to teach you, can he?
Harry shook his head and smiled. Ill tell you later.
The Portkey Office witch greeted them as she shuffled through a pile of parchments. She placed an old
rabbitears antenna in front of them. They all put their hands on it, and as Hermione was trying to
explain to Arthur exactly what a television channel was, they were all suddenly in the yard of the
Burrow, and Freds coffin was on the ground next to the door. As soon as Molly saw it she stumbled
over to it and collapsed, holding her head against it and sobbing.
The entire family rushed to her side. Harry and Hermione hung back, a little uncomfortable as they
watched. Bill and Arthur helped Molly to her feet, and then they led her inside. The rest followed,
leaving Harry and Hermione alone in the yard.
Hermione was wringing her fingers, and Harry noted the nervous twitch. Its going to be hard, he said.
Hermione nodded. Yes, I cant imagine what its like, burying a... She stopped and looked at him. But
you can imagine it, cant you, Harry? I mean, your parents and Sirius all died.
Yeah, I can. He frowned. Look, Hermione, what is it with Ron? Ginny and I did the exact same thing
you and he did. Hes starting to get on my nerves.
Hermiones handwringing tempo increased. Im sorry, Harry. Ive talked to him, but hes got this
thing about his baby sister. He was always treated like he was the baby. Youve seen FFred and
George tease him and ridicule him. So Ginny was the only one he could be, you know, higher than. He
means well, he just wants to protect her.
From me?
No, no! Hermione was close to tears. Thats not it. Oh, please, Harry, dont get angry with him, not
after everything weve gone through. Im so happy that you and Ginny are together. Give him some time
to get used it. Please? She had started crying, and Harry put his hand on her shoulder.
The door opened and Ginny and Ron walked out. Sorry, Ron muttered. We kind of forgot about you.
Are you okay? He took Hermione in his arms and held her, patting her back as she sobbed on his
shoulder. I know, I know. We all miss him.
Harry turned away and shook his head, but only Ginny saw it. So whats going to happen now? Harry
asked her.
Ginny shrugged. We have to get the house ready. Therell be a big crowd tomorrow. And we have to
dig a grave.
Harry thought of the other grave he had dug only a few weeks ago, although it seemed like years. Its
not really my business, he said, but I think you should dig it without magic. Thats what I did for
Dobby, and it felt good.
Ginny giggled in spite of herself. Dad would get to use a Muggle spade. Harry smiled also.
Thats not a bad idea, Hermione sniffled; she had stopped crying and was wiping her face with a
handkerchief that Ron conjured for her. Id like to help, if thats what you decide to do. She looked at
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handkerchief that Ron conjured for her. Id like to help, if thats what you decide to do. She looked at
Ron.
Sure. He regarded the cluttered yard. But I dont even know where they want to put it.
Beyond the garden, next to that big oak, Ginny said. I heard Dad talk about it this morning.
Sounds like a good spot. Ron looked back at the house. I wonder whats for lunch?
Ginny laughed and took his arm and they all went into the kitchen. To their amazement, Molly was
bustling about the room with her wand out. Dishes and utensils were flying in all directions, and a
delicioussmelling stew was bubbling on the stove. The rest of the family was seated at the table.
Mollys wand flashed, and a large loaf of fresh, hot bread soared out of the oven and onto a cutting
board, where a knife started slicing it.
Hey, Mum, thats a killer wand youve got there, Ron called.
He froze as his mother whirled on him, her face red and contorted, her wand pointing at him. Ronald
Weasley, you will not joke about that, not if you know whats good for you. Her voice quivered with
anger, and Ron took a step backward.
Molly! Arthur said sharply, He was only joking. Put your wand down, for goodness sake.
She quickly lowered her wand and slumped into a chair. The bread knife clattered to the floor. Im
sorry, darling, she blurted to Ron; she held her arms out. Come here, Im sorry. Ron walked slowly
around the table and bent down as his mother hugged him. Then he just as slowly walked back to his
seat between Hermione and Bill; his face was white. Bill patted his arm.
Charlie got up and finished setting the table and putting out the food. They ate, mostly in silence. Molly
left the table with her meal uneaten and went upstairs without speaking. Arthur followed, and the rest of
them all looked at each other.
I never saw her do anything like that, Percy finally spoke.
No ones ever died before, George said quietly. Again there was silence.
Ron stood and also left without a word. Hermione jumped up and followed him upstairs, and then Harry
also rose. He glanced at Ginny and followed Hermione. When he entered Rons attic room, Hermione
was sitting on the bed next to Ron with her arm around him. Ron looked up as Harry sat on his cot, but
said nothing.
Its all right, Ron Hermione tried to soothe him. She said she was sorry. She loves you, you know
that. You just startled her.
Ron bowed his head; he looked miserable. I cant take much more of this,he muttered. Everythings
all a disaster.
Not everything, Hermione squeezed his shoulder. Voldemorts dead, you and I are here together, and
so are Harry and Ginny.
Ron looked balefully at Harry. Well, maybe thats part of the disaster.
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Ron, no! Hermione cried.


Harry stood up, then Ron did. And what exactly is that supposed to mean? Harry glared at him.
You know damn well what it means, mate, Ron spat out the last word. Shes underage. I know you
spent the whole damn night in that room with her. What did you think, no one would notice?
Ron, no! Hermione shouted again. Im sure it wasnt what you think!
Yeah, right, Ron shrugged her hand from his arm. He scowled at Harry. It was bad enough your
leading her on before we left. What if you hadnt come back? Where would that have left her? Ron was
shouting over Hermiones cries of protest. And then, right into the sack as soon as you could get your
hands on her! You didnt waste any time, did you?
Harry pointed his finger at Ron. Youre over the line, mate, so watch it. And Ginny makes up her own
mind, just in case you havent noticed after sixteen years.
And you helped her along, didnt you?
Yeah, I did, because we love each other. Whats your excuse?
Harry! shrieked Hermione.
Harry put his hand up. Im sorry, he said to Hermione, I didnt mean that. He took a breath and let
the scowl drop from his face. Look, Ron, Ginny and I are together, whether you like it or not, so why
dont you just accept it?
Ron gritted his teeth. I told you. Shes too young. She doesnt know what shes doing.
Oh, come on! Harry scoffed, his anger rising again. She knows what shes doing better than I do, and
sure as hell better than you do.
Ron took a step toward Harry, his face was livid. Hermione grabbed his shoulder, even though she was
crying hysterically. Please, stop it, both of you! she shouted. Youre both acting like babies!
Fine, said Harry. Ill stop. He pointed his finger at Ron again. You just leave Ginny alone,
understand? If you have any more problems, come see me. You know where I am.
Shes my sister! Ron yelled. Ill do whatever the bloody hell I want
The door was flung open and Charlie and Bill strode into the room. Ron stepped back from Harry.
What in the name of Merlin is going on here? Bill demanded. We can hear you all over the house.
Mum is in tears again. What are you trying to do, Ron, destroy her?
Before Ron could answer, Charlie took Harrys arm. Ginnys down in the parlor, Harry. Why dont you
go?
Harry turned on his heel and stomped out of the room. He heard Hermione follow, and then the door
close. He could hear Ron start to speak and Bills voice cutting across him, but then the voices became
indistinct as Harry descended. He passed Ginnys room and heard that door open and close as Hermione
went in.
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went in.
Percy was sitting alone at the kitchen table and stared at Harry as he went through into the parlor. There
he found Ginny standing in the middle of the room, an angry look on her face. Fleur was sitting on the
sofa. They both looked at him.
Arry, what is wrong? Fleur began, but Ginny was crossing the room. She took Harrys hand rather
firmly and, ignoring Fleur, pulled him out the back door. She continued past the garden and into the
woods, and didnt stop until they were well out of earshot of the house.
What happened? she turned to face him. Why were you yelling? Mums hysterical again.
Harry looked into her eyes and remembered how much her mothers had reminded him of Ginny. Im
sorry. Ron said some things, and then I said some things I shouldnt have. Hes furious that we spent the
night together.
Ginnys nostrils flared slightly and her eyes flashed; Harry had to suppress a smile, knowing that she
had just validated everything he had said to Ron. Then she grimaced. Harry, tomorrow is Freds
funeral. Please dont let Ron get to you. Its making it hard on everyone. We dont need this.
I know. Im sorry. He put his hands on her shoulders and Ginny came into his arms. I wont let it
happen again. But hes obsessed. We werent even talking about us and he started yelling.
Ginny sighed. Thats why Bill and Charlie went up. If they cant talk sense into him, then at least theyll
make him shut it off until after the funeral.
But? Harry could tell that she wanted to say more.
But... I dont know... Hell get over it, Im sure he will.
I hope so. Hes my best mate. And my girlfriends brother.
She smiled up at him. I like the sound of that. They kissed, then Harry absentmindedly ran his finger
along her neck and inside the collar of her blouse. Ginny stopped his hand with hers. What is it? she
asked. Is something bothering you?
Now how do you know that?
Youre trying to say something, arent you?
Harry put his hands in his pockets and started walking back and forth in front of her. He put his fist over
his mouth and coughed I, uh, I wanted to ask... about last night.
Ginny put her hand on his arm and stopped his pacing. What about it? Harry, it doesnt matter to me
what Ron thinks.
No, thats not it. I mean, I do care what Ron thinks, but... I want to know what you think.
Ginny had a coy smile. Couldnt you tell last night?
Ginny, thats not what I meant, either. I never did anything like that before, and I guess I need to know
if it was the right thing to do.
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if it was the right thing to do.


I repeat, couldnt you tell last night?
Harry had a slight frown on his brow, but then he smiled. How do you know so much? No, no! I dont
mean it like that! I mean... how do you ... He stopped. Im saying this all wrong.
Ginny laughed. No, youre not. Its all right. Do you think I would have sat down in that hammock if I
thought it was wrong? If I had the slightest doubt? Did you have any doubts? You didnt act like you
did.
No! Harry almost shouted. No, I didnt. And I dont now. Damn, I dont know how to say this. Its
just that your family were all watching us at breakfast, so maybe they know, or they figured it out. And
now Ron...
Ginny walked to a nearby tree and sat down next to it; Harry followed. Well, mused Ginny, leaning
against the trunk, Fleur knew, and maybe Bill, and obviously Ron did, too. But I didnt get the
impression that anyone else knew. They all thought you were adorable, though. She laughed as Harry
blushed.
What do you mean? What did I do?
You were very attentive to me. It was sweet.
Did you mind?
Well, Ginny traced his face with her fingers, I liked it, but dont start smothering me.
Now it was Harrys turn to laugh. How could anyone smother you? Isnt that what Rons trying to do?
I guess you could say that. But, Harry, my whole family loves you. I dont think it would be good if my
parents found out about last night, though.
He kissed Ginny. Youre beautiful. Lets go back, he said.
They walked back to the Burrow holding hands, and just as the house came in sight they saw the back
door open and a parade of the entire family emerge, except for Molly and Fleur. They were all carrying
either a shovel or a pickaxe. Arthur was holding his spade straight in front of him like a flagpole; the
others held theirs at their sides.
Theyre not using magic to dig the grave, Ginny exclaimed, just like you said! They followed the
procession to the foot of a huge oak tree about fifty yards from the house. When Harry and Ginny got
there, George was taking up the first shovelful of sod. They all stood back and watched him dig
methodically and without expression, until they all saw that tears were streaming down his face. Percy
joined him, and then the others took turns two at a time, and the grave deepened.
When Charlie and Ron stepped into the hole, Ron began wielding his spade ferociously. He glanced up
once and Harry caught his eye, but Ron looked quickly down again. Harry walked over to the grave and
stood as close to Ron as he safely could, but Ron still didnt look up. When the hole was about two feet
deep, he paused and wiped his forehead. Harry moved closer.
Ron, he said quietly. Ron looked up and Charlie stopped digging; all the others turned toward Harry.
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Ron, he said quietly. Ron looked up and Charlie stopped digging; all the others turned toward Harry.
Ron stared at him, his face red and sweaty. It was very quiet; Hermione had her hand to her mouth.
Ron, Im sorry, Harry said.
Ron nodded. Me too. He spoke just as quietly as Harry, then he resumed digging, but not as violently
as before. Hermione let out her breath with a sigh that everyone could hear. Charlie cleared his throat
and went back to work.
Back to index

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Chapter 4: The Funeral


Author's Notes: Harry is starting to find himself the family that he never had but always wanted,
sometimes desperately. I always enjoyed reading about the Weasleys. Nothing about them is ever dull,
even in moments of great sadness.
Enjoy, thanks for all the great reviews so far, and pleas leave more.
10/07/07 - minor editing changes.
With everyone working in shifts, the grave was soon finished. Bill lifted out the last two diggers, Charlie
and Ron, with Wingardium leviosa, and they all trudged back to the house. They saw Molly watching
from an upstairs window; as they approached she turned away.
The rest of the day was spent preparing the house and grounds for the funeral. Bill thought that there
might be as many as three hundred people coming, and since they could not possibly fit all of them into
the house, they decided to hope for good weather and keep everyone outside. Arthur was nervous about
this decision, since he did not think it would be a good idea to use a weather charm in the event of rain;
it might draw too much attention from the Muggles in the village. But they had no choice, so Bill put
Ron to work using Geminio on an old umbrella that Charlie retrieved from the ghouls attic.
Six years of an overpriced education, then one year of defeating the most powerful Dark wizard in the
world, and this is what I end up doing, he grumbled. Just because I scream at people sometimes
doesnt mean I always have to get stuck with the worst jobs. He scowled at Bill.
Your job is vital, bro, Bill patted him on the back. Oh, and Percy will tell you when you have
enough umbies. And just conjure one at a time. We dont want to be stuck with any extras.
It probably wont even rain! Ron yelled at Bills departing back, after telling him under his breath to
perform a certain physically impossible act on himself.
Ginny and Fleur took over the kitchen. They tried their best to keep Molly out, but when she kept on
poking her head in and telling them which cooking spells to use, Fleur went and got Bill, and he stayed
with his mum the rest of the day to keep her out of their hair.
Charlie attacked the huge mass of clutter in the front yard, and for a while he was having a bad time of
it. Most of the old, broken Muggle objects had been hexed, charmed, and jinxed so many times over the
years by his father that the lingering magic was often hard to detect and would pop up at inopportune
moments. An old automobile engine that had been in the yard for decades and had no apparent source of
power, started running as soon as Charlie tried to levitate it. He was so startled that instead of floating
gracefully out of sight behind the old broom shed, it zoomed loudly out the gate and down the lane. It
might have kept on going except that Hermione happened to spot it just before it disappeared around the
curve, and she managed to hit it with Finite.
Charlie promptly drafted her into the cleanup operation, and the yard was soon cleared. The rest of the
family marveled; no one remembered ever seeing it so pristine. That was a lot more trouble than
dragons, Charlie muttered to Hermione.
Percy took charge of the funeral notices and seating arrangements. He spent all afternoon owling the
Ministry workers they expected to show up, plus merchants from Diagon Alley, joke suppliers and
manufacturers, Hogwarts staff, Freds former classmates, and even some of his foreign contacts. Since
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manufacturers, Hogwarts staff, Freds former classmates, and even some of his foreign contacts. Since
Hermes, Errol, and Pigwidgeon had no hope of handling even part of the load, he Apparated into Diagon
Alley and rented a dozen fast owls from Eeylops. He returned to the Burrow with them Errol was
indignant when he saw them and soon had an efficient system set up whereby, as soon as an owl
returned with a response, another notice was ready for it. He ran his operation from a table next to the
garden, but soon Molly came out and made him move farther from the house; the owls were perching on
the roof and making a mess.
George retreated to his room. Ginny went looking for him after no one had seen him for an hour, and she
found him sitting on the floor surrounded by cartons of surplus Weasleys Wizard Wheezes items, with
their contents scattered around him. He refused to tell her what he was doing, and Ginny decided that
shed better not tell either her parents or any of her brothers what she had seen. When the door to
Georges room closed behind her, she heard the squelching sound of a Colloportus charm sealing it.
Harry wanted to help, but no one would let him. First, Fleur pushed him out of the kitchen when he went
there simply to be with Ginny. Then he accidentally switched two invitations out of order on Percys
master list, and he was told rather officiously that his services were no longer required. By the time he
went out into the front yard it was almost completely cleared, and when Hermione told him to go clean
out the spiders from the old shed, he looked at her blankly. How? he said.
Your wand, Harry, your wand. Honestly, she clucked. Harry gave her a sour look and went back into
the parlor.
He found Bill and Mrs. Weasley sitting on the sofa looking through an old photo album. Molly was
crying and laughing at the same time. Harry sat down with them. There were old photos of the children,
and Molly sighed as she peered at each one. The ones of Ginny caught Harrys eye; he saw a
mischievous little girl looking back at him, and occasionally there was one with that blazing look that he
would never grow tired of.
Molly smiled at his reaction. You know, I dont recall her pictures being quite so animated before,
Harry. Here, look, shes winking at you in this one. Im sure she never did that before. Molly handed
him the album and pointed to a picture of Ginny sitting in a swing hanging from a tree; she looked to be
about six years old, and was wearing shorts and a teeshirt with the words Im Magical inside a large
heartshaped design. She had a big grin, and waved as the swing went back and forth. Harry couldnt
take his eyes from it.
Molly dabbed at the corner of her own eyes, and put her hand on Harrys arm. Harry, I want you to
know that Im so glad youre here. Its a huge comfort to Ginny. And to all of us. She looked at Bill,
who grinned, and then she patted Harrys arm again.
Harry turned the page of the album. There were pictures of Ron and Percy, but before he could get a
good look at them there was a loud thud and two shrieks from the kitchen. Mum, help! came Ginnys
cry, and before Bill could stop her, Molly shot out of the parlor and was on her way to the rescue.
Harry flipped through a few more pages, looking at photos of the Weasley family on vacation, around
the Burrow, in Arthurs cramped office at the Ministry of Magic, and at Hogwarts. The children were
always laughing and had their arms around each other; the Hogwarts pictures showed Quidditch teams
and graduations, with Arthur and Molly the proud parents standing nearby or hugging someone.
Ginny was in most of them, always smiling and hamming it up for the camera.
Bill watched Harrys face. You have nothing like this, do you? he asked. Harry shook his head. Ive
been talking to Fleur, Bill continued, and wed like to have you and Ginny come stay with us at Shell
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been talking to Fleur, Bill continued, and wed like to have you and Ginny come stay with us at Shell
Cottage for a week or two after the funeral. Theres enough room, as you know.
Harry nodded; he suddenly had trouble finding his voice. He cleared his throat. Yeah, that would be
nice. Id like to do that. Did you ask Ginny yet?
No, I havent had a chance. But its okay with Mum and Dad. She was cooped up here and at Muriels
for two months, and shes never been to the Cottage. I know she loves the sea.
Harry didnt get a chance to talk to Ginny before dinner; it took quite a while to remove the congealed
bread pudding from the ceiling. The kitchen table was laden with the dishes and serving utensils for
tomorrow, so they ate outside next to the garden. Ginny was busy bringing food in and out, so she didnt
have time for conversation.
After dinner Harry and Ginny walked down the lane to the village. Harry had never been in Ottery St.
Catchpole, and they wandered down the streets and into the village square. Ginny mentioned Bill and
Fleurs invitation. Im not really sure I want to go, she said. I dont want to leave Mum alone. And I
dont think George is planning to go back to the shop yet. I feel funny about leaving him right after the
funeral.
Harry was disappointed. He had wanted to go back to see Dobbys grave, as well as spend time with
Ginny away from the constant buzz of her family. But mostly he just wanted to be with her, so if it had
to be at the Burrow, then that would be fine. Maybe Ill just go for a few hours by myself. I kind of
wanted to visit Dobbys grave, he said.
Oh. Ginny hadnt thought of the grave. Well, Ill come with you, if you want.
Harry took her hand. Id really like that. I miss him. They walked back to the Burrow hand in hand.
When they got there they found Lee Jordan in the parlor talking with George, Bill, and Charlie. They
greeted him and then went out back where Hermione and Ron were sitting at the table that Percy had
used as headquarters for his owl operation.
Were going up to London after the funeral, Hermione announced. George said we could stay in the
flat over the shop. Rons going to start applying for jobs at the Ministry, and I have to see someone at
the Institute.
The what? asked Harry as he conjured two more chairs; Ginny had been about to do it but her father,
who was sitting under a peach tree behind the garden with Molly, called out and warned her not to do
magic; she pouted as she put her wand away.
The Arithmancy Institute, said Hermione, They owled me with an invitation to come in for an
interview. They have an intern program that Ive been interested in for a while. It would be a fabulous
place to work. They do the most advanced research in the world there.
Harry glanced at Ron. Yeah, Ron said. Im hoping Dad can get me into the Games and Sports
Department, but anything would be okay. I just want to get away.
Suddenly Harry felt a wave of sympathy for him. Ron was the baby, as far as most of his family was
concerned. Ginny might be the youngest, but she was also special because she was the only girl. Ron was
just the brat, always tagging along, always the butt of insults and teasing. Thats brilliant, Ron, he said,
and living in Diagon Alley, too! Thatll be great.
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and living in Diagon Alley, too! Thatll be great.


Yeah, itll be good to get off on my own. This family can be a load, if you know what I mean.
I do know what you mean, Ron, Ginny said and leaned across the table and took his hand. She looked
at Harry. Maybe we all need to get away for a while. Or at least a week or two, she smiled.
Later, after it got dark, Harry and Ginny strolled down the lane again; Ginny didnt want to walk in the
back where the open grave was. It was peaceful and quiet except for insects chirping and frogs croaking.
It had gotten cooler and they were wearing light jackets; Harry had borrowed an old one of Rons that fit
him.
What made you change your mind about Shell Cottage? Harry asked as they looked up at the stars.
I was thinking about Dobby, and I guess I didnt realize how important that was to you. And Ive never
been to the Cottage. Maybe Fleur and I could even become friends. She chuckled and leaned her back
against him and he put his arms around her. Rons going off also made me think. If Mum and Dad said
it was okay for me to go, then they must figure that theyll be all right. She turned to face him, and he
saw tears on her face. I dont usually cry this much, you know. I think maybe we wont be so sad if
were someplace else for a bit. I think Fred would want us to be a little happy, dont you? She played
with the collar of his jacket. I also got a little annoyed at Dad when he told me not to use magic. I
mean, who cares? I bet theres no one at the Ministry even bothering with Traces right now. She
chuckled again despite the tears on her face.
Well come back, Harry stroked her hair as she put her head on his chest. Well spend the summer
here, if your folks will let me stay, and
Ginny interrupted him with a laugh. You must be joking. Mums already planning how to fatten you
up.
That sounds like the summer of my dreams, Harry grinned. But that reminds me, theres something
else I wanted to tell you. Remember what you asked about Professor Flitwick, and how could he teach
me next year? Ginny nodded expectantly. Well, Harry said slowly, Ive decided to live in
Hogsmeade when you go back to school.
Ginnys mouth fell open. How can you do that?
That will be a surprise. Youll find out all about it on your birthday when youll be old enough to know
things like that.
Ginny smacked him on his chest. Youre mean! Why cant you tell me now? She tried to sound
petulant but she couldnt hide the light in her eyes.
I knew youd see it my way. Harry grabbed her hand and kissed it before she could hit him again. Its
going to be your birthday present.
Now she was smiling. Youll be living in Hogsmeade... Oh, Harry, thatll be brilliant! Seventhyears
can go in on weekends whenever they want. How will I get any school work done?
Ill help you, Harry laughed. He put his arm around her and they walked back to the Burrow.
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****
Rons weather forecast held, and the day of he funeral was like the day before, clear with a few clouds
and not too warm. Wizards and witches started arriving early; there were going to be more funerals
around the land, and Fred Weasleys was the first of the day. Percy greeted the arrivals at the front gate
as they Apparated or Portkeyed in, or were dropped off by Muggle taxis whose drivers left as quickly as
they could turn around; the sight of people appearing out of nowhere seemed to upset them.
Yesterdays work of preparation was no longer there to distract the family, and the Weasley household
including Aunt Muriel who arrived before sunrise moved moodily around the Burrow, eating, dressing,
preparing themselves. Molly and Ginny already had red and teary eyes. Arthur did not look very steady
and he kept staring at the coffin that was now resting on trestles near the back door. The rest of his sons
stood in the parlor speaking quietly to each other. When Harry walked in, George came over to him; he
was somber but calm. Harry, Id like you to be a pallbearer. Were not using any magic, mostly.
Oh, sure. Harry was surprised; Ginny had told him that her five brothers and Lee would carry the
coffin, so he never expected to be asked. Is there room for seven?
Well, Lee wont be a pallbearer. Ive asked him to help in other ways.
Harry nodded, and thought about what Ginny had told him she had seen in Georges room yesterday.
Harry was sure it would be memorable, whatever it was.
Percy finally came in and announced that the number of arrivals had reached the ninetyfive percent
threshold of expected attendees he never explained why that number was a threshold and that, given
the tight schedule of the funerals planned for the day, they should begin.
They all proceeded to the back door. Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron, and Harry lifted the coffin and
carried it out. Arthur, Molly, and Ginny followed; Molly was between them and they each held her arm.
Behind them came Fleur and Aunt Muriel. Even in black mourning robes Fleur was stunning; sadness
seemed to make her even more beautiful. Her silver hair streamed down her back and the tears that
flowed down her face glistened like rivers or diamonds.
They walked slowly past the garden, and a hush fell over the gathering that were seated in chairs placed
in rows that faced the grave. Harry saw dozens of people he knew or recognized, some from the
Ministry, some from Diagon Alley, and many from Hogwarts. All of the staff were there, even, to
Harrys utter astonishment, Argus Filch. Neville was sitting between his Gran and a Hufflepuff girl; a
wizard and a witch who appeared to be her parents sat next to her. Luna and her father were there.
Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, and Katie Bell, already in tears, sat with Oliver Wood and other
members of Gryffindor Quidditch teams who had played with Fred. There were many students from
other Houses, wearing their school robes.
He saw Madame Malkin, old Ollivander, even Mr. Borgin, who gazed at Harry with an impassive,
inscrutable expression. Maybe, thought Harry, this purveyor of Dark objects believed that his business
was going to suffer because so many of his best customers were either dead or in prison thanks to Harry.
Many people stared at Harry and whispered to their neighbors as he walked slowly down the center aisle
with the coffin. He stopped looking around and fixed his eyes on the back of Rons head. He also heard
weeping from all sides, but he was mostly aware of the uninhibited sobs coming from Molly and Ginny
behind him. His own eyes began to fill, and soon he felt his own tears running down his face.
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They came to the grave. Kingsley Shacklebolt stood there, looking more imposing and magnificent than
Harry had ever seen him; he was wearing formal black robes and a high wizards hat. He walked to
Molly and took her hands, then Arthurs, and then greeted Ginny, Fleur, and Aunt Muriel.
The pallbearers set the coffin down next to the open grave. Harry was unsure what to do next, so he
followed Rons lead and moved behind the grave and stood with Freds brothers facing the seats.
Hermione was in the front row; she had her hand to her face and was sobbing loudly. At the end of the
row behind her was Hagrid, also bawling. All the other dozen or so seats in that row were taken by a
bereft and devastated group of young witches wearing the shop uniform of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes.
Kingsley helped Molly, Arthur, and Aunt Muriel sit in chairs at the side of the grave; Ginny and Fleur
sat next to them. Then the Minister of Magic stepped in front of Freds coffin, and silence fell. He began
speaking, standing still but gesturing occasionally with his hands and arms.
Fred Weasley fought for his family, for freedom, for life. Youll notice that I did not say that he died
for any of those things, because I don believe that. He wanted to fight, oh yes, he wanted to fight, but
dont tell me that he sacrificed his life. I knew him too well to believe that.
He was willing to risk injury or death, but he did not want to offer up his life as a sacrifice. Do not
insult him or what he fought for by believing that, at the instant before he was murdered, he was happy
to be giving up his life for a cause or even for his family.
He joined the battle against evil and malice because of what he believed in, because his mother and
father, his brothers and his sister, and he himself, were a family that lived for love and idealism. They
strived always for everything that is good and worthwhile in this world. Fred was fiercely loyal to his
family, but not blindly. Blind loyalty to a cause or to a family or to a person or to a country is false
loyalty. Do you think that the foulest man or woman who attacked Hogwarts was anything but loyal to
the cause of darkness? That kind of loyalty led to acts of the most awful cruelty. No, if we give our
loyalty, we must be loyal as Fred was. We must decide in our hearts what is good and beautiful, and
then give our loyalty and every ounce of our strength to the good and the beauty that our hearts have
shown us.
If you want to honor a life that was full of love and joy and a spirit that was willing to fight for love
and joy, then this is what you must do. You must look inside yourself and find one thing, one thing that
you could have done differently that would have made it harder for evil to come to such power that it
could take the life of Fred Weasley. Even those of us who did fight alongside him, who lost loved ones,
who were injured or even maimed, we also must look inside ourselves to find that one thing that would
have made a difference.
The world is what we make it. To honor Fred we must make a world where the values that he fought
for will triumph. And then there will be no more funerals like this one.
When Kingsley stopped the only sounds were that of weeping; a few people shifted in their chairs. The
Minister turned and nodded to Molly and Arthur, then to the brothers standing behind the grave. With
his back to the seats he took out his wand, flicked it, and the coffin rose, then descended into the grave.
Harry watched it disappear, and he saw in his mind the body of Fred, inanimate, cold, lying inside it in
the dark. He felt Ron shaking next to him, and he saw Ginny and her parents holding each other. He
wiped the tears from his own face with his hand.
George stepped forward, a spade in his hand. He dug into the mound of earth, lifted it into the air above
the grave, and turned it over. The soil dropped very slowly into the grave and hit the coffin with a
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the grave, and turned it over. The soil dropped very slowly into the grave and hit the coffin with a
rattling sound. For a moment afterward all was silent.
A low rumble, then a louder roar came from the direction of the house. People in the seats turned their
heads; the family around the grave all looked up; Harry braced himself.
A huge flock of white birds rose over the Burrow; there were hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Each
one trailed a colored streamer, like a small banner. As they climbed into the sky, the birds began to swirl
and the banners to merge. The flock climbed and then moved toward the grave, and as the thousands of
birds hovered above, a gigantic image of Fred Weasley formed from the streamers. He was grinning and
holding a firecracker.
First gasps, then shouts, then cheers rang out. Angelina, Alicia, and Katie were on their feet, jumping up
and down and screaming. Hagrid had knocked over all the chairs around him as he also leaped up. The
Wheezes witches were picking themselves off the ground and pointing at the image, shrieking at the tops
of their lungs.
Harry looked at the family. Ginny and her mother both had their hands to their faces in identical
gestures. Ginny was laughing; Mollys mouth and eyes were wide open and she looked to be almost in
shock. Arthur peered up with a small smile on his face. Fleur was pointing at the image and laughing like
Ginny, but Aunt Muriel was glaring at it as though she wanted to shoot it down.
Ron nudged Harry. Great sendoff, huh? Promise youll do me like that.
Deal and ditto, said Harry. Just leave off the scar.
Charlie and Bill were clapping George on his back. Only Percy along with Aunt Muriel disapproved,
but when Kingsley turned to George and lifted his thumb upward, Percys look softened.
George himself gazed up in silence. Then he smiled briefly at his parents, dug another shovelful of earth
and dropped it again into the grave. When it hit the coffin the image and the streamers vanished with a
thundering whoosh! and the flock of white birds soared off into the sky, turning and swirling like the
current in a river running over rocks.
The crowd fell silent once more. George stepped back, waved his wand, and the pile of earth fell into the
grave and formed a perfect mound over it. There was another rushing sound, and a gray stone slab came
hurtling through the sky from the Burrow, soared high into the air, then fell straight into the ground at the
head of the grave. George pointed his wand and these words were chiseled into it:
Fred Weasley
1978 1998
He Is Ours
Again there was silence for a few minutes, punctuated by the sounds of crying and noses being blown.
Finally, George went to his parents and hugged them, then came around to the front of the grave, shook
Kingsleys hand, and started back down the aisle. Arthur and Molly stood Molly a little unsteadily
and followed him. The brothers filed past the grave and Bill took Fleurs hand, Charlie and Percy took
Aunt Muriels arms she glared at them and Ron walked to Hermione and took her arm and they went
after the others.
Ginny had waited in her seat; she and Harry were the only ones left at the grave, except for Kingsley
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Ginny had waited in her seat; she and Harry were the only ones left at the grave, except for Kingsley
who was waiting for them to leave. Harry felt scores of people watching him as he walked to Ginny and
took her hand. Her eyes were brimmed with tears, but they also had a strange look. She gripped his hand
tightly, then took his arm. They nodded to Kingsley and started back down the aisle. There were
unabashed stares and not so quiet whispers around them. Harry tried to ignore them, and he sped up
slightly, wanting to get away from the attention. But Ginny held him back and slowed down. Harry
peeked at her from the corner of his eye; her head was high and her eyes were blazing. She turned to
him, and Harry saw, mingled with grief, a radiant happiness that startled him so much that he almost
stumbled. He put his hand on hers and their fingers intertwined. They walked on.
Back to index

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Chapter 5: The Light


Author's Notes: A lot of people said in reviews that Fred's funeral affected them quite a bit. I guess
there's a lot of unspent grief out there (I mean that seriously). His death was a shock, but it was almost
like it didn't really register because the battle was still raging, and we didn't have time to mourn.
Here's the next chapter. I'm glad to be able to submit it so soon after the last one. Chapter 6 might take a
little longer because my family and I will be out of town at a pig roast this weekend (yum).
And thanks again so much for all your reviews and your DSTA nominations. SIYE fans are the best.
10/07/07 - minor editing changes
Harry and Ginny followed the rest of the family into the house and found everyone gathered in the
parlor. Several witches and wizards from the Ministry had also come inside, along with Lee Jordan,
Minerva McGonagall and Filius Flitwick. Aunt Muriel was ensconced in the middle of the sofa
complaining to everyone about Georges disrespectful prank. When she saw Ginny walk in with Harry,
she stopped and called loudly, Ginevra! Come here!
Ginny either did not hear or pretended not to. She hugged George, then went to stand with her parents in
front of the fireplace. Molly was saying to Arthur, I knew he would do something, but I suppose it
could have been worse. That firecracker could have exploded.
Father! Percy called; he was looking out a window into the front yard. The Muggle police are coming
up the lane. He scowled at George. Two of the Ministry wizards hurried outside, and everyone watched
through the window as they waved to the officers in the car, which had stopped in front of the gate.
Theyre from the MuggleWorthy Excuse Committee, Lee said to Mr. Weasley. I asked Minister
Shacklebolt to bring them along, just in case. I told them what we were planning and they said they
could pass it off as a weather anomaly, whatever that is.
Humph! Percy grunted, and peered out the window again, but everyone else turned and took up their
conversations. Molly was now looking out a different window toward the back yard. People were
standing in knots or gathered around the food tables. We should go out, she said reluctantly. We
shouldnt leave all those people for Kingsley.
Ginevra! Aunt Muriel called again sharply, and this time Ginny couldnt pretend not to hear.Yes,
Aunt Muriel?
When you marry that young man there its Harry Potter, isnt it? We meet at last, Mr. Potter you
will have my tiara. Its goblin made, you know.
Percy turned from the window and stared at Muriel; George and Charlie exchanged glances and then
grinned at Harry, as did Fleur; Bill shook his head; Hermione poked Ron who was about to say
something but instead cleared his throat; Lee noticed that the ceiling was very interesting; Molly pulled
on Arthurs elbow and he sighed. Everyone else the Ministry wizards and witches, and the Hogwarts
professors appeared bemused. Harry didnt dare look at anyone, so he let his eyes unfocus on the
blank wall behind the sofa above Muriels head.
Ginny smiled sweetly. Thats very kind of you, Aunt Muriel. We have no plans to get married, though.
Im still a little young, and I have another year of school left, so
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Im still a little young, and I have another year of school left, so


I know all that, Muriel snapped. But its quite obvious that you two will marry, whether sooner or
later. And do you understand my meaning? You shall have my tiara and then you will pass it on to your
own daughter when the time comes.
Lets go back outside, said Arthur. He took both Molly and Ginnys arms and led them out. Bill put
his hand on Harrys back, waking him from his trance, and steered him toward the door; Fleur trotted
after them. Au revoir, she trilled to Aunt Muriel. See you at ze wedding. Everyone else quickly left.
Only Percy stayed behind; the police car had driven off, and he sat down next to Muriel and they began
discussing wedding logistics.
The family moved out among the guests. Some had already departed, others had wandered back to the
chairs or to the grave, carrying their plates of food and goblets of drink. Harry, still a little stunned,
didnt know what to do; he did not really want to mingle with celebrity hounds, and he wasnt sure what
to say to Ginny after Aunt Muriels pronouncement. He sought out his friends from school; Neville
introduced him to Keesha Baker, and everyone pulled chairs around and talked about Kingsley
Shacklebolts eulogy.
Ron and Hermione joined them, and Ron sat next to Harry. Sorry about the old bat, he apologized.
She says all kinds of crazy things. Harry was afraid of protesting too much or too little, so he took
refuge in silence.
Parvati Patil was describing the repairs to the roof of the Gryffindor tower, and how houseelves had
been climbing on the outside and startling everyone who happened to look out a window, when Harry
saw Ginny staggering into the house under a load of dirty dishes. He got up, intent on helping her; if she
couldnt do magic herself, then at least he could do it for her. But as he made his way through the crowd,
ignoring all the curious looks sent his way, he had another idea. He looked for Bill and saw him off to
one side talking to a witch Harry did not know; Fleur was standing next to him, attracting the
surreptitious glances of all the wizards in her vicinity. She saw Harry approaching.
Arry, Ginny says zat you will be coming to stay wiz us. I am so appy. We can remember Fred wiz a
bottle of ze best Bordeaux gold can buy.
Harry grinned at her, then put his hand on Bills arm.Sorry, can I ask you something?
Bill stepped away from the witch, who stared at Harry. Whats up? Harry explained what he wanted
to do. Bill thought for a moment, then nodded. Sure, I dont see why not. Its only for today, right? Go
ahead.
Harry went around to the front of the house and out the gate. He walked down the lane until he was out
of sight of the house and stopped. Kreacher! he called, I need you!
The houseelf appeared with a loud crack!. He bowed low to Harry and his locket on its chain dangled
to the ground. Master Harry Potter, its so good to see you well. How may Kreacher be of service?
Kreacher, I need a big favor. He explained what he wanted, and Kreacher smiled.
It will be an honor to help the noble Weasley family in their hour of need. Kreacher lives to serve.
Harry led Kreacher into the kitchen. Ginny and Charlie were piling fruit into a large bowl, but they
stopped when they saw Kreacher. Merlins beard! cried Charlie. Who brought a houseelf in here?
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stopped when they saw Kreacher. Merlins beard! cried Charlie. Who brought a houseelf in here?
He looked at Harry. Whats he doing here? He sounded a little hostile, and Ginny frowned.
Its Kreacher, Harry said. I asked him to help out. Hell be happy to, wont you? He looked down at
the elf.
Kreacher bowed to Charlie and then to Ginny. Kreacher has heard many tales about the brave and
honorable House of Weasley. Kreacher considers it a great honor to serve them, as he does Harry Potter
and also the House of Black, rest in peace.
Charlie and Ginny looked at each other. Weve never had a houseelf, Charlie said. We dont really
want one.
But I asked Bill. I dont understand, Harry felt annoyed. Its just for the day. I saw Ginny carrying all
those dishes, and I thought she could use some help.
Harry, its okay, Ginny said before Charlie could answer. Kreacher, youll be a big help. We really
appreciate it.
Ginny Weasley is a beautiful and perceptive witch. Kreacher croaked. Yes, Harry Potter has done the
correct thing.
Ginny took Harrys hand and pushed Charlie out of the kitchen in front of them. They avoided the parlor
where Percy was holding forth with Aunt Muriel about the best source of wedding invitations, and went
out back. She pulled Harry to the garden where no one was standing, and she turned to him. That was
nice, Harry, I know you were trying to help, but I really didnt need it.
Harry felt deflated. But I saw you with those dishes. I wanted to do something.
Remember I asked you not to smother me? You need to ask before you do something like this. She
saw his crestfallen look. It was really sweet, Harry. Just ask me first. She took his hands and glanced
around; several people were watching them. I shouldnt kiss you now, she whispered, but I really
want to.
Harry perked up. I just thought it would help.
It will. But the other thing is that we never wanted a houseelf. Mum doesnt believe in using them the
way most people do. Shes a little like Hermione. Ginny giggled. They stood holding hands. What is
it? Ginny asked when she saw a hesitant look on Harrys face.
I wanted to ask you something. When we were walking away from the grave you kind of held me back.
You had a weird look on your face, too. Happy. It was strange.
Ginny smiled. I remember. One minute I was so sad, and the next minute we were walking together in
front of all those people and I had my arm in yours, and it just felt so good!
Harry couldnt help himself; he kissed her. She pulled away, startled, and looked around quickly; more
people were staring. Harry! What was that for?
You said the same thing once before, remember?
Ginny blushed. Oh. Yes. I remember.
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Ginny blushed. Oh. Yes. I remember.


Im sorry I just kissed you. I hope I dont need permission to do that. He didnt really look sorry, and
Ginny laughed.
Never. She kissed him quickly, and then they both turned as Ron and Hermione approached.
Dont let us interrupt anything, Ron said, but were cutting out soon.
How come? Harry asked. I thought you wouldnt be leaving until this evening.
Hermiones parents are coming back today, and we want to meet them at the Muggle portair. Then we
figured we might as well just pop back down to the flat. Well see you tomorrow at the Tonkss.
Right, Harry nodded. Were going to Shell Cottage for a couple of weeks, so I guess well be going to
the other funerals from there.
Listen, Ron looked down and scuffed the ground with his shoe. Theres another room over the shop,
so if you guys feel like it... I mean, we could have a good time in town together. What dyou think?
Sure, Harry mumbled, and he stared at Rons scuff mark. That would be great. Maybe well do that.
Ginny and Hermione grinned at each other.
Ron and Hermione said goodbye, but as they were walking away Kreacher came trotting around the
corner of the house carrying, somehow, three large serving dishes filled with dessert cakes, fruit, and
whipped cream; a case of butterbeer; and two full pitchers of pumpkin juice from which not a drop was
spilling. Hermiones mouth fell open. What on earth! Kreacher! What are you doing here?
The houseelf nodded to her and said, Good day to you, Miss Hermione Granger without breaking
stride and continued on into the back yard.
Hermione watched him go, then turned to Harry. Where did he come from?
I thought he could help out, Harry said defensively. Bill said it was okay.
Its a great idea! Ron exclaimed. Now no one in the family has to clean up. Ill even bet he knows
how to get rid of two hundred eightyfive useless umbrellas.
Hermione laughed. I think its a good idea, too. Your mum will have one less thing to worry about.
She and Ron hurried off to say goodbye to the others.
Harry glanced at Ginny, who looked at him wryly. I guess it is a good idea, she admitted. Thanks,
Harry.
Well, its not me, its Kreacher. Thank him.
I will. We all will.
More people were leaving, and Harry and Ginny went to say goodbye to the Hogwarts students, who
were Portkeying back to school together. They also agreed to have a Dumbledores Army reunion later
in the summer. I cant wait, said Luna holding up her message Galleon. Ill have Dad print up the
owls, and well make it a memorial service for Colin, too. She suddenly started crying, and both Neville
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owls, and well make it a memorial service for Colin, too. She suddenly started crying, and both Neville
and Dean put their hands on her shoulders.
Shes been kind of weepy, Dean said to Harry, but it doesnt last long.
Why should it? Luna looked puzzled. Ill be able to cry again any time I want.
Thats true, Dean agreed. Everything you say is true, Luna. She stopped crying and beamed at him.
Harry told Ginny that he had to find Professor Flitwick before he left, and he went to look for him. The
Professor was usually hard to locate, being so short, so Harry listened for his squeaky voice and looked
for anyone who was peering at the ground. But he found him sitting on a stool talking to a Healer from
St. Mungos who introduced herself as Hestia Derwent, an old friend of the Weasleys. She thanked
Harry for helping at the funeral service, then left him with Professor Flitwick.
Now, Harry, Flitwick began, If I understand what you want, Ill be tutoring you in Charms on an
advanced level.
Thats what Id like. Can you do it?
The question is, can we do it. I cant very well leave the school, even on weekends.
Well, Harry looked around; no one he knew was near. Im planning to live in Hogsmeade, at least for
the school year, so I could come up to the castle pretty much any time.
Flitwick was surprised. Youll be letting a house or a flat?
No, Harry looked around again and lowered his voice. I... I bought the Hogs Head Inn, and Im going
to fix it up. But please dont tell anyone.
Now the Professor looked very surprised. Aberforth sold it? Why? Well, I dont mean to pry. Im sure
he had his reasons.
He just wanted to get away from... from things. I think hes going abroad for a while. Actually, he sold
it back to some goblins who used to own it, and then I bought it from them.
From goblins... Flitwick gave Harry a thoughtful look. Have to be careful when youre dealing with
goblins, but I heard you have some experience.
I do, but it didnt help very much. Im sorry Professor, but Id rather not talk about it now. Can we start
the lessons, say, around the middle of September? I should have the inn up and running by then.
Thatll be fine, Harry. And Im looking forward to it.
They shook hands and Harry went through the thinning crowd looking for Ginny; he found her sitting
with her family in a circle of chairs near the garden. They were talking, and also watching Kreacher who
was clearing off the serving tables.
I understand that is your houseelf, Aunt Muriel said to Harry; he wasnt sure if she was angry or not,
her expression was always so stern.
Yes, maam, he answered, sitting next to Ginny. He was my godfathers familys elf, and I inherited
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Yes, maam, he answered, sitting next to Ginny. He was my godfathers familys elf, and I inherited
him.
Yes, the Black family. A very mixed bag, politically. Im sorry about your godfather, though. Harry
nodded.
Aunt Muriel went on. And you brought him here to help with the catering and cleaning. That is a very
thoughtful gesture. She turned to Ginny. Ginevra, this ones definitely a keeper, she pointed at Harry.
Actually, Aunt Muriel, hes a Seeker, Ginny said before she could stop herself.
When everyone had stopped laughing, even Molly and Aunt Muriel were smiling. Only poor Harry did
not know what to do with himself; he sat looking befuddled and wishing he was someplace else. Ginny
took his hand, and Charlie, who was sitting on his other side, put his arm around his shoulder and said
sympathetically, Welcome to the family, Harry.
By noon all the guests were gone. The house and the grounds seemed very quiet. George and Lee were
sitting by the grave; Bill and Fleur had gone up to their room; Percy was organizing the condolence
cards that people had left; Charlie was sitting by himself near the garden looking toward the grave; Aunt
Muriel was asleep on the sofa; and Ginny and Harry were sitting in the kitchen with Ginnys parents.
Occasionally they heard sounds from around the house, and Molly glanced at the stairs.
What is he doing? she asked. I thought he would leave when everything was cleaned up.
I think hes straightening up the house, dear, Arthur replied.
They heard furniture scraping the floor above, and Molly looked at the ceiling. He cleaned off the
pudding! she exclaimed. There was a big stain after we got it down, but its gone! They all stared at
the ceiling, and at that moment Bill came down the stairs and stopped as he saw them looking up. What
is it? he also peered up.
Kreachers sanitizing the house, said Ginny.
Bill chuckled and sat down. Well, Dad, what did you think of Kingsleys speech? It was pretty political
for a eulogy.
That it was, and deliberately so, Arthur said. He asked me before we left Hogwarts if I minded. Hes
saying more or less the same thing at all the funerals.
Whats he up to? It was a lot different from what Rufus Scrimgeour would have said, let alone Fudge.
Harry spoke before Arthur could respond. Ill tell you something. Everyone from school was talking
about it, and everyone thought it was brilliant.
Arthur looked pleased. Thats also his idea, or maybe I should say his hope. He wants to change things,
Harry, but itll take a long time. Its going to be up to you and your friends to see it finished.
Thats great, said Harry, but all I want to do right now is recover from sleeping for a year in a tent.
Youre staying here, Molly declared as though it had been decided long ago. Youll have Rons room
all to yourself. The house will be too empty. She stared at the wall, lost in her thoughts; Arthur took her
hand, but then she stood up. Its all right, Arthur. This day has been too long. Let me be alone for a
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hand, but then she stood up. Its all right, Arthur. This day has been too long. Let me be alone for a
while. She went into the parlor but almost immediately came out and went upstairs.
I wanted to leave for the Cottage right after Remus and Tonkss funeral, Bill said to his father. Are
you sure Mums okay with it?
She will be, She really wants all of you to get away from this for a while, and she needs some quiet
time herself, too. She has other things on her mind besides Fred, he added grimly.
Bill nodded and Harry looked at Ginny; in his mind he saw a green flame pass within an inch of her
head, and then he saw her mothers face with a look of murderous fury on it. Ginny stared at her father,
then she stood up, too. Before Harry could say or do anything, she was gone up the stairs after Molly.
Harry rose halfway from his seat.
Leave her be for a bit, Bill said. Shell be okay. Shes the strongest one in the family, you know. She
had to be to survive us.
The rest of the day passed very slowly. Harry managed to avoid Aunt Muriel and any more comments
about him and Ginny by spending most of his time in Rons room getting ready to leave for Shell
Cottage. When he wandered downstairs again Muriel was gone, escorted home by Charlie and Percy.
Arthur, Molly, and Ginny were at the grave and Harry went out to join them; they were sitting on a
blanket between the grave and the oak tree. Ginny had picked a bouquet of wild flowers that lay in front
of the headstone. Harry sat next to her and they stayed there until the sun began to set beyond the river.
They walked back to the house in the dusk and found Kreacher standing in the kitchen; Bill and Fleur
were sitting at the table. Kreacher bowed to Harry and then to Molly. Kreachers work here is done,
he said. He must return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to help finish what was begun
three days ago.
Thanks, Kreacher, said Harry and Ginny at the same time; Ginny giggled. The elf bowed to her, then
Disapparated.
That was very considerate of him to help out, said Molly. Thank you for thinking of him, Harry.
Bill cleared his throat. Mum, youll want to take a look around the house. He cleaned everything. Every
room is spotless, he cleaned all the dirty clothes and put them away, changed all the linen, cleaned all the
windows, straightened up everything in the kitchen
Molly jumped up and began opening cabinets. I didnt want anything in her touched! she said angrily.
Someone should have told him... She stopped; she was staring into a cabinet filled with stacks of
dishes. She looked back at Harry. Im sorry, Harry. Its all in perfect order. Amazing. Well, time to fix
dinner.
Ginny leaned toward Harry. That was so special, she whispered in his ear.
After dinner Ginny went to pack for Shell Cottage, and Harry went up to the attic, feeling the
melancholy effects of the day. He was tired, and the stairs seemed steeper and longer. When he opened
the door, though, he wondered for an instant if he was in the right place. Kreacher had cleaned and
organized it to the point of being unrecognizable. There were no clothes scattered on the floor or the
beds, all the Quidditch magazines were stacked neatly on the dresser top, and all of Rons textbooks
were put away in the rickety boardandbrick bookcase, arranged by subject and year. The floor was
swept and scrubbed, the beds were made, and the windows sparkled in the dim light of Harrys wand;
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swept and scrubbed, the beds were made, and the windows sparkled in the dim light of Harrys wand;
gone were the streaky dust and cobwebs.
He went to the window at the end of the room and peered through it into the darkness, then he turned. As
he did so he bumped his head against a chain that hung from a hook in the ceiling. He grabbed the chain
to stop it from swinging, and suddenly he remembered that he used to hang Hedwigs cage from it
whenever he stayed at the Burrow.
He went back to his cot and fell into it. He covered his eyes with his hand, and saw a still, small, white
form in the falling sidecar of Hagrids motorcycle as it explode into nothingness. He saw Fred and
Dobby and MadEye and Colin and Remus and Tonks, and all the others in a blur. He couldnt
remember when any of it had happened. He himself had been dead once that sounded almost funny,
but here he was, breathing, staring up at Rons orange walls. It could have been him in the coffin today,
aware of nothing, not even the blackness around him, just not existing. He suddenly felt utterly spent, yet
he had done nothing today; he had sat and eaten and wandered around, talking about dead people.
He was a wanderer, lost, rootless. He looked at Rons posters, Rons books, Rons furniture. What did
Harry have that was his own? A rundown derelict of a house in a London slum? A filthy, rat
infested hangout for drunks and petty criminals in Hogsmeade? What good were they? He had no
home, no room of his own with garish walls and posters of his boyhood heroes. He had no boyhood
heroes; he wasnt even sure if he had had a boyhood. Maybe he should find the Dursleys, at least to tell
them that their lives were no longer in danger and they could go back to their home and forget about
their seventeenyear nightmare. Forget that Harry ever existed.
He had just spent months and months as a fugitive, unable to stay in the same place for two nights in a
row. When he had found a place with friends where he could sleep in the same room for more than one
night even if it was on a sofa he still might have ended up being murdered on the spot. He felt like a
loose stone inside a tin can that was rolling downhill, tossed and banged against the sides, never able to
rest, never knowing when he would hit bottom.
What should he do? Where could he go? He couldnt pretend, like the Dursleys, that seventeen years had
not happened. Too many people were dead. There were going to be more coffins, all cold and dark
inside. He didnt know if he could face more funerals, more weeping, more grief.
He closed his eyes. He was exhausted, but he was afraid to sleep, afraid that the morning would come
and those seventeen years would still be there.
There were light steps on the landing outside the door and someone knocked. Harry? Are you still up?
Ginny peeked in. Lets go out, she said.
They walked to the tall oak tree in the back. There was no moon, and Harry lit his wand. They stood
looking at the grave for a few minutes, then Ginny turned to him and put her arms around him. Why are
you trembling? she whispered.
Harry doused his wand and put it in his belt behind his back. When they kissed, Harry could taste salty
tears mingled with the moisture of her lips. Ginny leaned her head back. Im not crying for Fred, she
said. Im crying because Im so crazy for you.
Harry pulled her back to him almost violently. It had been too long since he had kissed her like this, too
long since he had felt her heart beating against his, too long since he had felt her body pressed to his.
By the time they left the grave the halfmoon had risen, but the light that showed Harry the way was
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By the time they left the grave the halfmoon had risen, but the light that showed Harry the way was
coming from the girl walking beside him.
Back to index

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Chapter 6: By The Sea


Author's Notes: I got this chapter done a little early, and the first draft of chapter 7 is done. I'm going to
try to submit it before next Friday (8/31) because I'm going away for the Labor Day weekend and won't
have access to a computer. This chapter also got longer as I wrote it, for which I thank Harry and Ginny.
I also have been meaning to thank the wonderful wizards and witches who run the Harry Potter Lexicon.
They have saved me countless hours of research time and helped me stick to canon. It is a fantastic site.
Enjoy this chapter, and please keep sending me your reviews. I love them. :-)
10/07/07 - minor edits
The weather turned, and the next morning was cool and cloudy, promising rain. The Weasleys and Harry
Portkeyed to the Tonkss house and joined Ron and Hermione who had arrived earlier. The graves and
the funeral were in a large field behind the house, and there were almost as many people there as at
Freds. Kingsleys eulogy made the same points: look into your heart to find what is right, and act on it.
He also spoke about accepting differences as something that could enrich the wizarding world, not divide
it. Ginny nudged Harry and pointed to a few people sitting together off to one side; they had the shabby,
hangdog look that Remus often wore.
Werewolves, Harry whispered, and Ginny nodded.
When the ceremony was over Andromeda Tonks intercepted Harry as he was leaving his seat. She was
holding her grandson swaddled in blankets; the baby was sleeping. Harry looked at Andromeda, unsure
what to say or do.
Your godson, she said. I thought you might like to hold him for a minute.
Harry looked in panic at Ginny. Here, she said, you take him like this. She took the bundle from
Andromeda and handed it to Harry. Dont drop him.
I think I figured out that part. Harry looked down at Theodore Lupin; the baby sighed and rubbed his
mouth with his tiny fist. Suddenly an old emptiness seized Harry. This baby was an orphan, and even
younger than Harry had been when he became one. What would this ones life be like? Surely not as
brutal as Harrys. He looked at Andromeda and blinked away his tears.
She smiled. Hell be fine, Harry. Ted had lots of relatives. The little one will have a family around him,
maybe not a perfect family, but hell be loved.
Harry nodded. I Ill try to see him, too, whenever I can.
Its all right. Dont worry about it. You have plenty of things going on yourself. She smiled at Ginny
and took the baby back. Here we go. So sweet. She walked away, gently rocking the bundle in her
arms.
Ginny took Harrys hand and they joined Ron and Hermione who were standing nearby watching. Ron
put his hand on Harrys shoulder as Harry wiped his face on his sleeve. Im fine, he mumbled. Lets
get something to eat.
They stood holding platters of tasty cooked vegetables and cold cuts and goblets of pumpkin juice.
Things are already picking up in Diagon Alley, Ron reported. Lee came by and said he was trying to
get George to come back to the shop as soon as possible, but meanwhile hes going to run it with the
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get George to come back to the shop as soon as possible, but meanwhile hes going to run it with the
witches, the ones who were at the funeral. They all went back to the shop yesterday afternoon. I think
each one of them thought Fred was in love with her. He looked over at the two fresh graves in the
middle of the field, and started to say something, but then he looked quickly away, as though he was
hiding something from the others.
Anyway, Ron continued after a few moments, the flats really nice. When can you blokes come up?
Harry looked at Ginny. I guess after we get back to the Burrow, in a couple of weeks.
If Mum and Dad let me, Ginny grumbled. If George is there, maybe itll be okay, but I dont know if
youre their model of a chaperone, she said to Ron.
Now why would that be? Ron chuckled. But you can tell them I never touched Hermione once while
we were cooped up in that tent. Hermione scowled at him, but also blushed.
You can tell them that one, Ron, Ginny snorted.
They spent the rest of the morning talking with Lupins old students who had come from school, and
with Kingsley Shacklebolt and his Head Auror, Saliyah Ushujaa. She was a native of east Africa, and
also a dancer very accomplished, according to Kingsley and performed in a Wizard African dance
company. She invited them all to her next performance which was scheduled at the end of he summer in
London. It will be a celebration of the lives of all those who died, she said. African dance is very
emotional, as all dance is. I think you will enjoy it. They agreed to come.
Kingsley asked Harry what his plans were. Wed love to have you join one of our intern programs.
Well be reorganizing all of them and putting some good people in charge. What do you say?
It sounds like youve been busy, Harry grinned. I also wanted to tell you that a lot of my friends
thought your speech was brilliant. I did, too.
Kingsley smiled. You didnt answer my question, Harry, but being the consummate politician that I am,
I wont press you. But the offer is there if you change your mind.
Hermione and Ron cast looks at each other as Kingsley and Saliyah walked away, and Ginny looked at
them suspiciously. Whats going on? she poked Ron in his ribs. You know something that I dont.
I told you it would be your birthday present, Harry came to Rons rescue. You already know that Ill
be living in Hogsmeade. Ron and Hermione took an Unbreakable Vow not to spill the beans.
Ginny scowled for a brief instant, but then she sidled up to Harry, batting her eyelids at him. So you
think you can resist me while were alone in a little cottage by the sea for two weeks? Ill bet you ten
Galleons that you cant keep it from me.
Youre probably right. Ill have to keep Bill or Fleur nearby all the time to protect myself.
Well, then Id rather not try to squeeze it out of you, Ginny yielded. Threes a crowd.
Ron had stopped paying attention to Harry and Ginny and was watching people. Look, he indicated
with a nod, Shacklebolts talking to those werewolves. I wonder what they think about all this. Remus
was always complaining about their attitude.
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Theyre like the rest of us, said Hermione, wondering whats coming next, what Kingsleys going to
do. It all happened so quickly, if you think about it. One day Volde I mean Riddle, has a complete grip
on power, and the next day hes dead and someone from the Order of the Phoenix, for goodness sake, is
Minister. It takes some getting used to, and its only been five days. Everyones wondering about you,
too, Harry. Did you notice? Theyre all watching you.
Harry made a face. Yeah, but Im so used to it, I really dont think about it. What am I supposed to do,
anyway? Lots of people fought him.
But not like you, mate, Ron said. You killed him. That makes you kinda different.
Lets not talk about it, okay? Harry said a little peevishly. It doesnt bother me when people look at
me.
Theyre also looking at Ginny, Hermione said.
So let them, Ginny tossed her head. Maybe theyll leave Harry alone. Harry gave her an appreciative
smile as Charlie walked up; he had come from a conversation with a wizard in Ministry robes
Thats Gawain Robards, he told them. Hes acting Head of the Department of Magical Law
Enforcement. Do any of you know him? They all shook their heads. He just told me some bad but not
surprising news. They found eight bodies in Malfoy Manor, all dead by a Killing Curse except he
looked at Harry Peter Pettigrew. He was strangled, apparently by his own hand, or what used to be
his hand.
Ron whistled. Eight? Who were they?
He wouldnt tell me. But he thinks there were more than eight. They found the belongings of Charity
Burbage, the one the Prophet said had resigned from Hogwarts.
Hermione turned pale. Oh, no! She disappeared, but no one knew... Damn him! She had tears in her
eyes as well as anger, and her fists were balled. She was just a nice person! Why?
Ron put his arm around her. She taught Muggle Studies and she wrote that article about them, he told
Charlie. I guess it figures that Riddle would go after her.
Theyll probably find bodies all over the country, Charlie said, shaking his head. Sorry to bring you
more bad news. He left them all in a somber mood.
That wont be too good for Malfoy, Ron said, and he didnt seem all that unhappy at the prospect.
But who cares? We saved Dracos ass twice in the castle and I dont remember being thanked for it.
His mum saved mine, Harry murmured, looking at the ground.
Ron grunted dubiously, but Hermione nodded. Its got to stop somewhere, Ron, she said. At the end,
Lucius cared more for his family than for Riddle.
Okay, okay, Ron gave up, and grinned. Ill let him live this time, but after this, no more mister nice
guy. They all laughed, then looked up at the sky as it began to rain.
The Weasleys returned to the Burrow in the early afternoon, and soon afterward Harry and Ginny
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The Weasleys returned to the Burrow in the early afternoon, and soon afterward Harry and Ginny
Disapparated to Shell Cottage with Bill and Fleur. They came out on top of the cliff, and Ginny
exclaimed in delight when she saw the pink and creamcolored shells embedded in the walls. It was not
raining there, but the skies were spitting and a damp breeze was blowing in from the sea. They hurried
inside with their bags, and Fleur threw back the curtains and opened some of the landward windows. It
gets so stuffy. I suppose it will be very cozy in ze winter, but I like a breeze to come in now. Come, I
will show you your rooms.
Harry had the room that Ollivander and Griphook had stayed in, and Ginny was in the room that
Hermione and Luna had shared. Ginny and Fleur took her bags inside and Harry went downstairs, where
Bill had started a fire.
I think well eat lunch soon. This time youll experience some really good French cooking, he grinned.
Ive been totally spoiled. She even makes some of my mums food seem ordinary.
Harry went to the front window and looked out at the water. He had spent a lot of time sitting and
looking out at the sea when he stayed here before their foray into Gringotts. Was that only a week ago?
What a difference a few days make, he thought, and he turned and watched Ginny come down the stairs.
Lets go outside, she said, and took Harrys hand. Fleur said shell call us when lunch is ready.
It was raining lightly and they took cloaks from hooks near the door. They walked around back and
stood at the foot of Dobbys grave and Ginny read the epitaph that Harry had chiseled into the stone with
his wand. Oh, Harry, you didnt tell me you had written that. Its beautiful. She went to it and ran her
hand over the words. Poor Dobby, I never really knew him. And he was killed at his old masters
house. She shook her head.
Harry stared at the grave. Im glad Bellatrix Lestrange is dead, he said quietly. I dont think I could
have come back and stood here if she was still alive. Ginny walked back to him and put her arm
through his and leaned her head on his shoulder.
In a few minutes they heard a window open, and Fleur called to them, Lunchtime! Come inside! They
went back in and found Bill already seated at the table. There was a steaming meat pie at each place,
and a basket of biscuits and a bowl of greens in the center of the table.
I am so sorry, but I have not got ze candles out yet, Fleur apologized as she sat. We will ave zem at
dinnertime. It will be very romantic. She smiled at Ginny, then handed Bill a bottle. Do ze honors,
darling.
Bill uncorked the wine with a flick of his wand and poured the ruby red liquid into their goblets. He
filled and raised his own. To our family, to our best friends he nodded to Harry and to our
brother and our friends who are gone. They clinked their goblets in silence.
Harry had never drunk wine before. He took a sip; it tasted very smooth and fruity with a touch of
earthiness. He took another sip and looked at Ginny. She was holding her empty goblet up for Bill to
refill.
Take it easy, Sis, Bill laughed. Itll put you right out unless youre used to it. He poured her a half
goblet.
Harry poked his fork through the crust of his meat pie and a delicious aroma wafted up. He took a fork
full. Mmm! This is fabulous, he said to Fleur.
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full. Mmm! This is fabulous, he said to Fleur.


Oh, it is noting, she waved her fork in the air. I just trew zem in ze oven for a few minutes. Zey are
noting special. Ginny, would you like me to show you ow to make zem?
Ginny looked at the beatific expression on Harrys face, and he nodded enthusiastically. Ginny laughed.
Sure. My mum makes them sometimes, but this is delicious.
It started to rain during lunch, but it let up later in the afternoon and Harry and Ginny took a walk along
the cliff. They looked out over the sea and listened to the waves crashing on the rocks below. About a
quarter of a mile from the Cottage they found a path through a cleft in the cliff that led down to the
water and a beach about twenty yards wide that continued into the distance. The wind was blustery and
there was a heavy overcast. They took their shoes off and walked in the cool sand with their cloaks and
Ginnys hair billowing behind them. Waves broke a few yards out, and Ginny ran into the wash but came
shrieking right back out. Its freezing! she cried. Harry laughed, and he bent down and lifted her right
foot and started rubbing it. She grabbed his shoulder to keep from toppling over. Use a warming
charm, she said. Itll work faster.
This is more fun, Harry grinned up at her. He kissed her foot, then took the left and rubbed it. He put it
down, then rose and took her in his arms and they stood together in a long, long, deep kiss.
Harry put his hands inside her cloak and moved them down her back, then lower. Ginny took them,
though, and held them in both of hers between herself and Harry. She looked down and shook her head.
Harry, no, not here. I dont feel right about it, not while were staying in their home. She put her
forehead against his and they were silent.
Its okay, Harry said after a moment. Youre right. Im sorry I did that.
No, no, Ginny still looked down at the sand. She brushed her toes against his instep. Dont be sorry.
She finally looked at him. That night in the hammock wasnt a mistake, and it wasnt something I
wanted to do only because I just spent a year and a day waiting for you. It was a whole lot more than
that.
It was for me, too. You know that, dont you? She nodded. So when I do something like I just did,
when I think about you that way... I mean... He peered at their feet and put his toes on top of hers. He
said, without looking up, Ginny, theres something I didnt tell you. Its sort of the same as this, and its
a little embarrassing.
Its fine, love, you can tell me anything and I wont laugh. Harry looked at her, startled; Ginny had
never used that word with him before. He tried to think of a response, but came up blank. She grinned.
What didnt you tell me before?
He took a very deep breath. When we were out there in that tent in the middle of winter, sometimes I
would take out my map and look for you on it. It was usually at night, so I knew you would be in your
room. There would be a little tag next to your bed with your name on it. I know it sounds stupid, but it
helped keep me going. A lot.
Why is that embarrassing?
Thats not it. Theres more.
Ginny giggled, and turned a little pink. I wasnt in the bathroom, was I?
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Ginny giggled, and turned a little pink. I wasnt in the bathroom, was I?
No, no! Of course not. Im sorry, I probably shouldnt have told you.
Ginny kissed him. Dont tell me if you dont want to, but Im glad you had that map and it makes me
feel good that you were watching me.
Well, what it is... I would also imagine myself in that bed with you, Harry said in one rush of breath.
Ginny pulled him closer. Ooh, now I do like that! Maybe next year when youre in Hogsmeade you can
do it again, but let me know before, she laughed wickedly.
You are a shameless witch, Harry also laughed. And you drive me crazy.
It was starting to get dark and the clouds seemed to be lowering, so they walked back to the Cottage.
They were going into the wind and they put their heads down and leaned into it. They climbed the path
up the cliff and saw the lights of Shell Cottage in the dusk, and hurried toward them.
Dinner rivaled anything they had ever had at Hogwarts. Course followed delicious course: soups, fresh
bread, salads, poultry, fish, pasta, desserts. Harry drank a little more wine this time, and he felt better
and better with each course and each goblet. Ginny also had more than one goblet of wine, but Harry
noticed that her face wasnt flushed, as his felt like.
The small table was set with white linen and a beautiful silver candelabra; the candles burned with a
silvery, shimmering glow. It belonged to my granmama, Fleur said as they ate triple chocolate cheese
cake for dessert. She was Veela, you know. Zat is why I am so beautiful, it all comes from her. And zis
candelabra is magical, Veela magic. It inspires love.
I heard that Veelas like to bewitch men into loving them, and then they leave them heartbroken, Harry
said; he was feeling very talkative.
Oh, zat is nonsense! Fleurs eyes flashed. Men are saying zat because zey fall in love wiz us but we
are not always falling in love wiz zem. So zey blame Veelas for zere own foolishness.
Ah. Harry looked at Ginny.
What are you looking at me for? Ginny asked innocently. You were the one who kissed me after the
Quidditch match, not the other way around.
Harry giggled. I thought you kissed me back. He leaned over and kissed her. Yes, you did kiss me
back, I remember it very clearly. He grinned at everyone.
Hah! You see, ze candelabra, its working, Fleur proclaimed triumphantly. Or maybe it is ze wine.
Who knows?
After dinner Bill stoked the fire and it became very warm and cozy in the small cottage. Harry dozed in
a love seat, leaning on Ginnys shoulder and snoring quietly. When Bill and Fleur got up from the sofa
and went upstairs, Ginny nudged Harry and whispered into his ear, Wake up, love, its time to go to
bed.
He opened his eyes.Did you just call me that again?
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Ginny put her arms around him. Yes, and it wont be the last unless you object.
No objections from this quarter. Harry stood up, stretched, and then pulled Ginny out of the love seat.
He kissed her softly and caressed her hair. Cause I feel the same way.
They climbed the stairs and Ginny paused at her door and looked at him, then she blew him a kiss and
went into her room.
Next morning at breakfast both Ginny and Harry looked tired. Did you sleep okay? Bill asked Harry.
You look a little peaked.
New bed, I guess. Ill get used to it. He glanced at Ginny who was yawning. Are you okay? he
asked her.
I couldnt fall asleep for a while. I was thinking about Fred, and... other things. What about you?
Harry looked quickly at Bill; he was immersed in the Daily Prophet and Fleur was busy at the water
basin. I was thinking about other things, too, he said in a low voice.
Bill left for work after breakfast. He hadnt been at Gringotts for quite a while and was uncertain about
what he would find there and what kind of reception he would get. Theyll know it was my brother who
helped you break into the vaults, he told Harry as he was about to leave. They wont be too happy
about it. Harry felt a pang of guilt; he didnt want to be responsible for Bills losing his job.
Will they let you back? he asked anxiously. Maybe you can tell them that the Hufflepuff goblet was
stolen, and we were trying to get it back for Hogwarts.
Bill laughed mirthlessly. They wont care about the goblet. If they ever find out what it was, then theyll
probably be glad someone took it. No, whats going to upset them is that you broke in so easily.
It wasnt so easy. We almost got killed, more than once.
And they wont care about that, either. To them, it was easy because you succeeded. But dont worry,
Harry. I wont lose my job because they know how close I am to Kingsley Shacklebolt. When you killed
Riddle, the world went topsyturvy for goblins, as well as everyone else. They wont want to
antagonize me, at least not until they know which way the wind is blowing.
Harry shook his head. Too much politics for me. Ill walk on the beach and sit by the fire until it all
goes away.
Bill laughed loudly. That should be everyones philosophy. You do that, Harry, you and Ginny. Thats
why we invited you here. He kissed Fleur goodbye, stepped outside, and Disapparated.
Ginny spent the morning in the kitchen with Fleur cooking up the menu for the rest of the day. Harry
looked in on them once, but left after being ignored for five minutes while Fleur was teaching Ginny the
French names of the ingredients for a cheese and bacon souffle. He had already finished the copy of the
Prophet that Bill had left, so he went up to his room and started reading Theory of Advanced Spells
which Bill had lent him.
He was napping when Ginny came to get him for lunch. She served the souffle she had made, which was
delicious, and then they went out for a walk. They decided to visit a small Muggle fishing port about two
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delicious, and then they went out for a walk. They decided to visit a small Muggle fishing port about two
miles up the coast that Fleur told them about. Very quaint, at least for an English village, she said
dismissively as she gave them some Muggle money to spend. Oh, and Arry! Bill sent an owl. He is
coming ome a little early. He wants to talk wiz you, but he didnt say why.
It was still overcast and cool, but the breeze had died down. They pulled on their cloaks and set out
along the clifftop to the path down to the beach. They walked barefoot in the sand again, and stopped
often to watch gulls dip into the waves for fish, to pick up shells, and to chase each other in and out of
the frigid wash. It took them about an hour to reach the village, which was set back from the beach on a
low bluff. Just past it, under sheltering cliffs, was a cove where small boats were moored to a few piers.
They wandered through the village, looking into the shops that sold fishing tackle and boating supplies.
The Muggles looked at them curiously, but were friendly and nodded or briefly wished them good day.
They bought two chocolate bars in a tiny grocery, then headed back.
They had finished the chocolate and were almost at the path that led up the cliff when they saw, ahead of
them on the beach, a small fire burning in a shallow pit in the sand, and six young Muggle men standing
around it. As they drew nearer, they also saw several cases of beer lying nearby, one of which was open,
and empty beer bottles scattered about; each of the Muggles had a bottle in his hand. They were talking
and laughing loudly, but they fell silent and turned to watch Harry and Ginny as they approached.
Harry nodded as he and Ginny passed within a few feet of them between the small fire and the waves.
One of the Muggles, a large, muscular arrogantlooking blond fellow who was about six inches taller
than Harry, took a swig from his bottle and belched loudly; the others laughed. Hey, reds, he called,
leering at Ginny, your boyfriends kinda scrawny. Why dont you try something more manly? His
mates laughed again, and one of them whistled.
Ginny tensed and took Harrys hand. Harry glanced at the man, but kept walking. The man stepped in
front of them, blocking their way. Harry put his hand inside his cloak.
Dont, Harry, Ginny said, hes just drunk. But she tightened her grip on his other hand.
Harry is it? the man folded his arms on his chest and looked over at the others. Looks more like
Harriet to me. There was more guffawing. He leered at Ginny again. Why dont you lose the fairy,
reds, and well show you how real men do it. The others moved toward them, hemming Harry and
Ginny in along the waters edge.
Harry put his arm around Ginny and looked at the Muggle. Ill give you some advice and youd better
take it, he said quietly. Shut your mouth and move and let us pass.
Harry could sense the men behind him moving closer, and he could feel Ginny pressing herself against
him. The Muggle in front of them took another swig of beer and his eyes narrowed. Move for you, you
little faggot? I think well see how well you swim and how well your girlfriend
Harrys wand was out. There was a loud bang! and a flash of red light. The man flew up in the air
toward the cliffs and landed with a heavy thud in the sand; he did not move. Harry whirled around and
the five behind him backed away, incomprehension and fear on their faces. Ginny was also pointing her
wand at them but Harry pushed it down. He drew Ginny back, and the Muggles did not see several dozen
bottles of beer rise out of the cases and hover over their heads. They did, however, hear them all burst
simultaneously and they looked up at the shower of pale ale that completely drenched them.
Stupefy! Harry shouted, and all five slumped into the large, sudsy pool of beer they were standing in.
He pointed his wand at the Muggle lying unconscious near the cliff, and he rose off the sand, then
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He pointed his wand at the Muggle lying unconscious near the cliff, and he rose off the sand, then
toward his five inert companions. Harry let him drop from about five feet up, and he fell with a splash
and another thud into the beer bath. Harry pointed his wand at the pile of Muggles. Obliviate! he
called, then he started to pull Ginny toward the cliff. Come on, Ill clear our tracks and no one will be
able to figure out what happened.
Ginny had an angry, blazing look, and she shook off his hand. Wait a minute, she said curtly. She
walked to the blond Muggle and pointed her wand, but Harry yelled, Ginny! No!
She looked back at him, and scowled, but then she lowered her wand. You do it, then, or else I will.
No problem, love, he grinned, and in an instant the Muggles face was covered with small brownish
lumps that had large, fiercely beating bat wings attached. Ginny looked down at him. Thatll improve
his looks for a while, she said between clenched teeth. Bastard!
They climbed the path and at the top they turned. Harry raised his wand and all of the footprints within
fifty feet of the inert Muggles disappeared. He raised his wand once more. Finite! he called, and the
Muggles began to stir in the puddle of beer. Harry and Ginny watched for a moment, then Harry put his
arm around her and they started back for the Cottage.
Harry sauntered along, laughing and joking about how the six morons would have to explain their
bruised, beersoaked, and befuddled condition to their families and maybe to the Muggle police. But
Ginny was silent, and after a few minutes she pulled away from Harry and walked in more silence,
ignoring his banter, looking straight ahead.
Whats wrong? Harry said; he tried to take her hand, but she wouldnt let him. Ginny, if you had
done magic there would be an owl from the Ministry waiting for you at the Cottage. And theyd want to
know why you used it on a Muggle.
She strode along without answering. Harry grabbed her hand and forced her to stop. She turned and
glared at him. I asked you to stop protecting me, Harry. Im getting tired of it. I can take care of myself,
even from scumbags like them.
But but Harry stammered, then had to run to catch up with her. Ginny! What are you talking
about? I kept you from getting into big trouble. Please, dont
She ignored him. In a few minutes they were at the Cottage, and Ginny brushed past Fleur who was
waiting for them inside the door. She watched Ginny stomp up the stairs, then she turned to Harry.
Mon Dieu, Arry, what appened? She put her hands to her cheeks. Why is she angry?
Harry, looking confused, told her what had happened. Fleur took his hand. But you are not urt? Or
Ginny?
Harry shook his head. No. But I dont understand. I was afraid if she did magic she would get into
trouble. He thought about how Ginny had moved closer to him as they were standing in front of the
blond Muggle. I dont understand...
He turned away, looking out a window. Fleur turned him back and put her hand gently on his cheek.
You were very brave, Arry. I will speak to er. I tink I know why she is angry, she patted his
shoulder. Harry looked back out the window and heard her climb the stairs, then a soft knock, low
voices, and a door opening and closing.
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voices, and a door opening and closing.


When Fleur opened the door to Ginnys room, Ginny was also looking out a window and did not turn or
acknowledge her. Ginny, Fleur said gently, why do you treat Arry like zat? He was just trying to
protect you from arm.
Ginny let out her breath. I asked him not to do that, to stop smothering me, she faced Fleur. I dont
like it when
When a man acts like a man? Fleur finished the sentence.
What do you mean? Ginny said angrily. All I want him to do is let me make up my own mind. If I
want help Ill ask for it!.
Ginny, Arry was right. If you do magic against a Muggle you will get into a lot of trouble. And e was
doing what any man does when e loves a woman. e is not trying to smozer ah, smother you. He
is showing ow much he loves you. Zere is a difference between not letting you pour your own pumpkin
juice, and fighting a bully who wants to urt you.
Ginnys face softened, and she sat down on the bed. She thought back to the beach, and remembered the
bolt of fear when the blond Muggle had looked at her with nothing but evil in his eyes, and then she
remembered Harry putting his arm around her just at that moment; it had felt very good.
She looked at Fleur. Is he okay?
Fleur smiled, and a feeling of magical delight filled the room. If he isnt, I tink e will be when you ask
im zat. She opened the door and stood aside as Ginny went out.
Harry turned from the window when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Ginny stopped at the
bottom. Are you okay? she said.
Harry nodded and smiled briefly. Im sorry, he said.
For what:? Ginny walked toward him.
Harry shrugged. I dont know.
Ginny put her arms around his neck. What you did was brilliant. What I did was stupid. Im sorry.
Oh. Harry could not say more because Ginny had put her mouth over his. Before he closed his eyes he
saw Fleur slip into the kitchen and quietly close the door behind her.
Back to index

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Chapter 7: Hidey Places


Author's Notes: This chapter went really well, so here it is a few days sooner than I expected. And
chapter eight is almost ready and I'll post in on Wednesday or Thursday.
Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. It's great to write to other H/G lovers.
10/07/07 - minor edits
Bill came home a halfhour later and found Ginny sitting in front of the fireplace and Harry reclining
with his head in her lap. Harry was holding his wand, examining it and turning it between his fingers.
They both looked around when Bill came in.
Dont get up, Bill grinned. Ill be right back. He hung up his cloak and went into the kitchen, where
Ginny and Harry could hear him talking to Fleur. They both came out into the parlor and Harry sat up.
Fleur said you ran into some Muggles this afternoon, Bill said. I think I know who they were. Weve
seen them along the cliff a few times.
But zey never bozered us, said Fleur. I tink zey are scared by Bills face.
Theres one big blondhaired bloke whos the worst troublemaker, Bill continued as he ran his finger
over his nose. Derrick Roach. His fathers a magistrate in the local Muggle government and owns quite
a bit of property, so his kid gets away with a lot.
Not this time, Harry declared. He opened his mouth one too many times and said a couple of things
to Ginny. He now has a facefull of bat wings.
Bill looked at Ginny in alarm. You didnt use your batbogey hex, I hope.
Not to worry, she said cheerfully, Harry did the honors for me. But I was thinking that Id come back
after my birthday and cut off his ba
Okay! Bill laughed. I get the idea. He turned to Harry. Did you get an owl from the Ministry? They
usually want to know when someone uses magic on Muggles.
Not yet, said Harry. But Fleur said you wanted to talk to me?
Bill frowned. I overheard some things at work that I wanted to ask you about. A goblin who works in
the Property Office mentioned that
Wait! Harry held up his hand. Can we talk about it somewhere else? Its.. its... He couldnt think of
how to cover up what Bill had almost said.
I think it has something to do with my birthday present, Ginny said drily.
I didnt say that, Harry replied, trying to sound testy. Uh, it probably has something to do with the
mess that dragon made.
Right, Ginny said. Go ahead and talk. I like rubies, I never had any, you know. Oh, and chocolate
cake. Harry grinned at her and then he and Bill went outside. As they walked around the side of the
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cake. Harry grinned at her and then he and Bill went outside. As they walked around the side of the
house Bill asked Harry about his wand. Is something wrong with it? I saw you looking at it.
I dont think so, but it acted a little differently this afternoon. I haven done any big magic since the
battle, and I did something to it afterwards that might have affected it. Its fine, though. They were in
the garden and sitting down on the low stone wall near Dobbys grave, and Harry changed the subject;
he did not want the matter of the Elder Wand to come up. What about the goblin?
I heard that you bought the Hogs Head Inn, Bill began, and he looked at Harry keenly. The goblins
are all talking about how they got some revenge for the theft, as theyre calling it. What happened?
Harry was momentarily nonplused. Yeah, Aberforth sold it to the goblins the day after the battle, and
Why did he sell it? Bill cut in. That really surprised me. Hes owned it for years.
I think he wants to get away for a while, Harry said. He said he was going abroad. The goblins used
to own it and they were arguing with him about the price. They said that goblins had built the place, so it
was rightfully theirs.
Bill snorted. Thats garbage. Every building in Hogsmeade was built by an old family of wizard
carpenters that lives right outside the village. I did a research paper when I was a student, he explained
when Harry gave him a questioning look. Professor Binns was teaching a course on the history of
magical places.
Must have been interesting, Harry replied. Well, anyway, apparently they had gotten pretty steamed
about it, and then they started talking about wizards attacking Gringotts and stealing their dragons and
breaking into vaults. They mentioned me, of course, so someone went and got Kingsley, and then he
went and got me. So I was kind of stuck in the middle.
Huh. Bill sat thoughtfully. The last thing Kingsley would want the day after the battle would be a
mini goblin rebellion. They probably realized that, and thought they could pressure him and Aberforth
into giving the inn away.
More politics, Harry said with some distaste. But then I had an idea. He glanced at Bill. I had
already decided that I wanted to take some classes at Hogwarts next year, even if I couldnt do my
seventh year again. And I also had some ideas about, um... well... he hesitated.
You wanted to be near Ginny, Bill grinned.
Harry nodded, thankful that Bill understood. Yeah, I thought shed like that. I know I would, he said
softly.
Everyone in the family would, Harry. Bill looked over at the Cottage and Harry followed his gaze;
they could see Ginny and Fleur through the kitchen window, sitting at the table and talking. I dont
think Im giving anything away by telling you how much she worried about you all year Bill said. And
Fred... I think shes taking it almost as hard as George. She needs lots of comfort.
Harry was not surprised to hear this from Bill. He had seen how Bill had become like a father to both
Ginny and Ron since Freds death while Arthur was preoccupied with Mollys grief. But Harry had
started to feel that Bill was also filling a need for himself, a need that he was quite familiar with. He had
lost Sirius, then Dumbledore, and Remus had stepped in; now Remus was gone. It felt good to talk to
Bill, to have someone who understood him. It was quite different from talking to Ron, even though Bill
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Bill, to have someone who understood him. It was quite different from talking to Ron, even though Bill
was only ten years older.
Of course, it was complicated by Bills being Ginnys brother, but Bill had none of the possessive
protectiveness that Ron had shown. It never seemed to occur to Bill that Harry would ever do anything to
hurt Ginny. In fact, Harry sensed that Bill expected that, someday, Harry would become the one that
Ginny looked to for shelter in any kind of storm. It made Harry feel part of the Weasley family, like
Ginnys love and Rons friendship.
Well, Harry picked up his train of conversation, I kind of blurted out that Id like to buy the inn. So
we went into another room, and I asked Ron and Hermione to come with me because there were five of
them and only one of me. I think I still ended up paying too much, but what the hell, its only money.
Bill laughed. Its great that you can say that. No one in the Weasley family can, although I suspect that
George... He trailed off and sighed. Anyway... yes, you did pay too much, at least as best as I can tell.
And that wont make the goblins feel any better about wizards. But Ill go out on a limb here, since
somehow I cant see you as a barkeep for the rest of your life. My guess is that youll sell it back
eventually, and if you do, remember that you have a few cards of your own to play.
Like what? Goblins can be pretty intimidating when they want to.
And they know that. It sounds like they pulled that act on you. But theres two things you need to
remember. First, you have a substantial fortune stored in their vaults, and they wouldnt like to see it go
someplace else.
Like where?
Like to another wizarding bank, even a bank overseas. Fleur has relatives who own a bank in France,
did you know that? The goblins do. Harry nodded and glanced at the Cottage again; Ginny and Fleur
were still sitting at the kitchen table and Harry saw vegetables and chunks of meat flying off the table
toward the stove.
The other thing you need to remember, Bill went on, is that you are Harry Potter, the nemesis of the
Dark Lord. A lot of goblins expected Voldemort to win. They would have ended up regretting it, but
theyve been treated so badly by wizards in general that they were receptive to his lies.
He paused and looked off into the distance. Kingsley wants to change that. I think thats why he got
involved when he found out that Aberforth wanted to sell. He saw a chance to open up a dialogue.
And I blew it, Harry said ruefully. I told you Id never understand politics.
You could have done better, thats true, Bill said, but kindly. But many, many others have done
worse. Dont undersell yourself, Harry. You are somebody. Dont overreach, but dont underreach,
either.
Why are you telling me all this? Harry asked. He had always gotten advice from Dumbledore, Sirius,
and Remus, but Bills frank, friendly, and warm style was a little different; it felt good.
Bill grinned. I have a very dear sister who is head over heels in love with you. And I think she has very
good taste.
Harry went scarlet and Bill laughed again. I thought only Ron could turn that color, he teased. Sorry,
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Harry went scarlet and Bill laughed again. I thought only Ron could turn that color, he teased. Sorry,
Harry, I didnt mean to embarrass you. He stood up. I think we should see how dinner is coming along.
I dont want that meat to get overcooked. And dont worry, I wont tell Ginny anything about the inn.
After dinner of beef stew and mashed potatoes Harry and Ginny were sitting outside on the edge of the
cliff, watching the waves, when an owl from the Ministry finally arrived. They didnt see it until it
literally fell out of the sky and plopped at their feet. It lay sprawled on the rocks, looked up at Harry with
a pathetic hoot, and lifted its leg in the air.
No wonder it took so long, Harry said as he removed the parchment. This ones more decrepit than
Errol. His remark seemed to upset the owl; it clucked a few times and struggled to its feet, flapping its
wings erratically.
There, there, Ginny stroked its head feathers. Dont listen to nasty old wizard. I understand. The owl
took heart and managed to flap up to Ginnys shoulder, where it perched contentedly, nibbling on her ear
and pecking at Harry whenever it thought he was getting too close.
Harry began perusing the parchment, and Ginny transferred the owl to her other shoulder and read over
Harrys. It was an Official Notice from the Improper Use of Magic Office. It read:
Dear Mr. Potter. Greetings. We are advised that you performed five (5) or six (6) charms and/or spells
and/or jinxes and/or hexes upon as many as six (6) Muggles on the current date, at a location along the
Channel coast in Essex.
In addition, we are advised that you may have performed a combination levitating and separating charm
and/or spell and/or jinx and/or hex in the presence of said Muggles on said date and at said location.
While there is no evidence at this time of any violation of Magical law on your part, this Office is
nevertheless conducting a routine investigation to determine whether or not additional action by the
Ministry of Magic may be required with respect to the events alluded to herein above.
We are, therefore, respectfully requesting that you provide us with any information you may possess
about the events alluded to herein above, including the names of any nonMuggle witnesses, and the
specific charms and/or spells and/or jinxes and/or hexes you may have used during the events alluded to
herein above.
Furthermore, we respectfully request that you provide the information requested herein above within
thirty days of your receipt of this Notice.
Respectfully yours,
Priscilla Pompard
Improper Use of Magic Office, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Ministry of Magic
Boy, does Kingsley have his work cut out for him, Harry remarked.
Yeah,said Ginny. First throw all the lawyers into Azkaban.
Harry chortled. Well, I might as well do it now. Come on, bring the bird inside.
They went back into the Cottage the owl still perched on Ginnys shoulder and into the kitchen,
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They went back into the Cottage the owl still perched on Ginnys shoulder and into the kitchen,
where Fleur was cleaning up from dinner. They sat at the table and the owl flew up to the top of a
cabinet and peered down at the room.
If zat bird makes a mess in ere, I will cook im for dinner tomorrow, Fleur said darkly and pointed a
large cleaver at it. The owl squawked and hopped along the cabinet away from Fleurs menacing knife.
Fleur, do you have a quill and some ink? Harry asked as he lay the Notice on the table; the Ministry
had conveniently left space at the bottom for Harry to write his response. Fleur fetched the writing
materials from a drawer while keeping an eye on the owl. Harry and Ginny reviewed the events of the
afternoon, and Harry wrote down the details.
Dont forget the batbogey charm and/or spell and/or jinx and/or hex, Ginny said.
I wont, Harry laughed, but thats the one most likely to get me in trouble. Theyll have to send
someone from the reversal office or whatever they call it to sort him out.
Then why dont you wait the whole thirty days, Ginny suggested.
Hmm, thats not a bad idea. But wed have to keep the owl here so wed have a way to send it back.
Non, non, non! Fleur waved the cleaver in the air, and the owl squawked again and hopped along the
cabinet as far from her as it could get. Absolutely not! e must get out of zis ouse, now!
Okay, Harry laughed. Here, its ready. He rolled up the parchment and took it over to the cabinet
where the owl was perched. He reached up to take the bird down, but it pecked at his hand. Ouch!
Damn bird! Here, he handed the parchment to Ginny. He likes you. You do it. Ginny took the
parchment, and the owl flew down to her shoulder; it lifted its leg and Ginny tied the Notice on. They
walked outside and the owl flew off, wobbling a bit but on a steady course to the southwest. It
disappeared into the dusk.
They went back to the wall where they had been sitting watching the sea. The horizon was shrouded in
darkness but they could still see the white caps on the waves as they crested near the shore. Harry put his
arm around Ginny and she moved closer. The door of the Cottage opened and Bill stepped out holding a
small rug. He waved at them, then tossed the rug into the air; it floated there and Bill pointed his wand
and dust flew off and wafted away. He grabbed the rug and took it back inside.
Harry thought about his talk with Bill earlier in the day. Bills a great guy, he said.
Ginny looked up at him. He is. Why do you say that?
He makes me feel like Im part of your family.
Ginny put her head back on his shoulder, but she didnt say anything. When Harry turned his head and
kissed her brow, she put both arms around him and held him tightly. Im glad, she said into his chest.
He does have a way of making you feel welcome, if thats the word. Maybe wanted is the right one.
She looked up at him again and Harry could see her smile in the candlelight glowing through the
windows of the Cottage.
Yeah, he agreed, thats how I feel.
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****

Several days passed and the weather turned warmer and sunnier. Harry and Ginny spent most of their
days on the beach, talking, reading, napping on a blanket, building magical sand castles. They never saw
Muggles again. They took several long walks to the fishing port and beyond, and became acquainted
with the owners of the grocery where they bought candy. Once they overheard a conversation between
two other customers about a strange rash that one of th local youths had come down with. The clinic in
the nearby town had not been able to treat it and had sent him down to London to see a specialist.
They better send him to a specialist at St. Mungos, Ginny chuckled as they walked back. Or else to
the bat house at the zoo.
I wonder why they havent sorted him out yet? Harry said. I hope that owl got back to the Ministry.
Its probably lost in someones inbox and/or trash bin. They both laughed.
Although their days were fine, they both were waking up every morning tired and not well rested. Bill
commented on their drowsiness at breakfast and suggested a sleeping potion, but Fleur just shook her
head and smiled to herself. In fact, both Harry and Ginny were both lying awake almost every night
thinking about the person just on the other side of the wall separating their tiny bedrooms. But neither
one said anything. Harry did not want to go past the limit that Ginny had set, although it was becoming
harder and harder for him to stop himself. Ginny did not want to put Bill in the position of having to
confront her about a rule that her parents might have insisted on before allowing her to come to the
Cottage with Harry, although it was becoming harder and harder for her to stick to her conviction. In the
small quarters of Shell Cottage, always in each others presence, they thought and dreamed about each
other.
They took naps on the beach and also in front of the fireplace in the parlor, their heads on pillows. Fleur
would come in from the kitchen and find them both asleep, curled up together with Ginnys back to
Harrys front.
Eleven days after they arrived at Shell Cottage an owl arrived before lunch from Hogwarts addressed to
both of them. Ginny read it sitting at the kitchen table while Harry was brushing her hair. Its from
Professor McGonagall. This explains why we havent heard anything about Colins funeral. His parents
are asking his friends to have a memorial service for him at school. They buried him a week ago but the
service was for family only.
They didnt want any wizards or witches showing up in weird clothes, Harry guessed. Its okay with
me. I wasnt fancying another funeral.
Ginny rolled up the parchment. Me neither. I was thinking that we could have a DA reunion at my
birthday and make it a memorial for Colin, too. Luna suggested it. I like the idea.
Yeah. Harry continued to brush. He loved to do it; he loved the silky feel and flowery smell of her
hair. And when he was finished, Ginny always turned around for a long and enjoyable snog.
This time was no different, but just as their tongues were becoming involved and their breathing
becoming heavy, and Harrys hands beginning to stray down her hips, the kitchen door opened. Their
tongues and then their mouths disengaged; they were surprised, since Fleur always left them alone when
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tongues and then their mouths disengaged; they were surprised, since Fleur always left them alone when
she knew that this activity was occurring. They turned and saw Ron standing in the doorway, his hand on
the handle, and Hermione behind him peering around his side.
Ron stared at them; his mouth worked but nothing came out. Harry started to pull away from Ginny but
she tightened her hold and wouldnt let him go. Hermione glanced apprehensively up at Rons face. Ron
finally put his fist to his mouth and cleared his throat. So, how are you blokes? We can wait in the
parlor if, uh, if youd like.
Harry could feel Ginny relax, and she gave him a quick squeeze, then she flew to Ron and, with a big
smile, gave him a sloppy kiss on his cheek. Were fine! Its great to see you. She hugged Hermione
and pulled them into the kitchen. Why are you here?
We both had some time off, Hermione explained, so we just decided on the spur of the moment to
pop up here! She sounded as though it had been a momentous decision. Its so much
I got hired at the Ministry! Ron couldnt contain his news. Its not the most exciting job, but itll be a
regular paycheck and, Harry, get this. Shacklebolts setting up a whole set of courses for anyone who
wants to take the Auror exams! Its three years, but they dont care about all those Acceptables I got at
Hogwarts, or any of that crap. Pass the exams and the practicals and youre in!
Dont be so restrained, Ron, Hermione said as Harry grinned at Rons enthusiasm. And dont be
surprised if the exams are a lot harder than O.W.L.s.
Ron waved his hand dismissively. Yeah, but this time I wont have all that other school stuff to distract
me.
No, just a shopfull of free jokes right underneath your feet. But youre right. I think its a brilliant
program. Harry, you should really consider it. You would ace it.
Maybe later, Harry shook his head. I have other plans for the immediate future.
Right, said Ron. Well, what have you two been up to, aside from imitating thrashing eels? He
grinned at Ginny who stuck her tongue out at him.
Not much, aside from that, replied Harry, and he had to fend off Ginnys punch. Walks along the
beach, naps, meals, naps, walks along the beach, you get the idea.
Busy schedule, Ron chuckled. He looked around the kitchen. Hows the food?
Much better than last time. I think Fleur was pretty unprepared when we showed up and she also didnt
like having to feed Griphook. And Ginnys learning French cuisine. She knows all the French names for
everything,
Oui, said Ginny. Le fromage, le vin, la viande, les pommes de terre. What else does a young witch
need to know?
They decided to take a walk down to the beach, and Ginny went to tell Fleur who was up in her bedroom
and hadnt heard Ron and Hermione come in. She came downstairs and hugged and kissed them both;
Ron only blushed a little. Do not be too long, she said. I will ave lunch ready in an hour. They
decided to stay near the Cottage and to take a longer walk afterwards. They went out and sat near
Dobbys grave; it was covered with sprays of flowers that Harry and Ginny had put on it. They talked
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Dobbys grave; it was covered with sprays of flowers that Harry and Ginny had put on it. They talked
about Colins funeral Ron and Hermione had gotten the same owl from Professor McGonagall and
liked Ginnys idea of a DA reunion. Ron told them that Dean, Neville, and Nevilles girlfriend Keesha
were frequent visitors to Diagon Alley and talked about getting the DA back together somehow. George
had also shown up at the shop once, but didnt stay long.
I dont think hes ready for it yet, said Ron. Lee and the witches are keeping it going, and we help out
in the evenings.
Harry asked him about his new job in the Ministry. The International Magical Office of Law, Ron said
pompously, and laughed. I wanted Games and Sports, but so did everyone else, and they had all
finished their seventh years.
You mean all the boys wanted it, Hermione corrected him.
Well, some girls, too. Angelina Johnsons already there. Hermione shrugged.
So what does that office do? Harry asked.
Havent a clue, and Ive been there for four days already. But I might get to travel.
They help set up conferences and coordinate legal activities, Hermione said. They liaise with other
magical governments.
Okay, thats what they do, Ron said. Maybe Ill even get to go to America.
Ginny turned to Hermione. What about you? Have you started at that institute yet?
Youll be sorry you asked, Ron grinned.
Oh, its fabulous! Hermione ignored him, and jumped up excitedly. You wouldnt believe what
theyre doing. Im working directly under Septieme Geneva, shes the witch who wrote all the
Arithmancy textbooks. Shes world famous, and shes brilliant. And Kingsley Shacklebolt asked her to
set up a special project, and she put me on it! Hermione beamed, her arms outspread, and she looked at
them expectantly. Her face fell when Ginny and Harry just stared at her blankly.
Tell them what the project is, Ron prompted.
Oh, right. What it is. Yes. Kingsley wants to set up an office in the Law Enforcement Department that
can trace every use of an Unforgivable Curse. He wants to know who used it, when, where, and who it
was used against. I think he wants to abolish them somehow, eventually. Isnt that brilliant?
She gushed on without waiting for an answer. So were doing all the theoretical groundwork for it. Itll
take months, maybe years, but its so exciting. Im doing exactly what Ive dreamed of doing for years
and its going to make such a difference!
Its not like she loves the job, Ron said. I have to check her every morning before she leaves to make
sure she didnt forget to put on her shoes.
Thats not true. I did forget to tie them once.
At that moment Fleur called them in for lunch. Afterward they walked along the cliff to the path down to
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At that moment Fleur called them in for lunch. Afterward they walked along the cliff to the path down to
the beach. Ron wanted to see the fishing port, and as they traipsed over the sand Harry and Ginny told
them about their confrontation with the Muggles.
Hey, Ron interrupted Harry when he was describing the batbogey hex, I heard about that bloke.
They had him in St. Mungos for two days. So that was you? He peered at Harry and then Ginny. I
wish I had known. I would have gone and cut off his ba
Uh, uh!, Ginny interrupted. I have dibs on them. After my birthday.
You are one ferocious family, Harry observed. Hermione, wed both better be careful.
Youd better be careful, Hermione corrected him. I dont have those. Harry and Ginny both laughed
and looked at Hermione in surprise; she had never joked like that before. Harry noticed that Ron was
looking at her with an amused expression, and decided that they were both becoming a good influence
on each other.
The village was quiet as usual but they attracted a little more attention this time. The locals had gotten
used to seeing two teenagers wandering around in cloaks, but here were two more, and one of them
another redhead. It was good for gossip, though, so everyone was still friendly, especially the grocery
proprietor after he sold out his entire stock of chocolate candy to Ron, who borrowed all of Ginny and
Harrys Muggle money.
The sun was shining brightly, and low waves were breaking offshore as they walked back. There was
a warm breeze coming from the land, but it dropped as the cliffs on their left gradually rose. They
climbed the path in the cleft and were only a few hundred yards from the Cottage when Ginny noticed a
figure coming toward them.
Bills home, she said, shading her eyes. Somethings wrong. They hurried to meet him, and saw his
worried look when he got closer.
Good, youre here, he said; he looked around nervously as he spoke. Weve got to get back. Ginny,
Mum wants you home.
What! Why? Whats happened? Ginny exclaimed anxiously. Is anyone hurt?
No, no. Everyones fine. But Fenrir Greyback has broken out of Azkaban.
They were silent for a moment, then Ron swore. What the hell is going on? Did the dementors screw
up? The Ministry was supposed to have this under control.
I dont know, Bill started shepherding them along. Theres all kinds of rumors in town. But
everyones freaked, especially Mum.
Fleur was waiting just outside the door. She had a small traveling bag with her, and she looked worried.
I started to pack your tings, she said to Harry and Ginny. Do we put ze Fidelius back on ze ouse?
she asked Bill. He thought for a moment, then nodded. No point in taking chances. Go pack, he said to
Harry and Ginny. The charm is going to take a while and I want to get going.
They went upstairs and were back down in a few minutes. Ginny was biting her lip, looking worried, and
Harry took her arm. Well be fine, he told her. Theres no way he can get into the Burrow.
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I know, its just that I thought we were finished with this. I thought it was over, and all we had to worry
about were drunken Muggles on the beach.
Harry smiled. Well, well all be together.
Ginny nodded and gave him a quick kiss. And this time youre with us.
Were coming, too, Ron said. He had his arm around Hermione who was pale, and trembling
noticeably.
Good, said Bill; he was facing the Cottage and casting the complicated spell. Mum and Dad will
appreciate that. He glanced at Hermione, who was now looking ill. Are you all right? he said.
Hermione just shook her head, and Ron said, Thats why were coming. Fleur quickly came over and
also put her arm around Hermiones shoulder. Zat monster treatened you, didnt e? Dont worry,
darling, no one will let zat appen again. You are safe wiz us.
Hermione nodded. Thanks, she whispered. She put her hand over her eyes and Ron put both of his
arms around her. They all stood next to her as her body shook and muffled sobs came from Rons chest,
where her face was buried. She lifted her head. Im sorry, she said in a choked voice. It it all just
came over me again. She looked at Ron as though pleading. But shes dead. I saw Bellatrix die, right?
Shes dead. Ron nodded and stroked her hair. She wiped her eyes and looked at them. If I see him Ill
kill him.
Hey, we all will, Ron said, halfsmiling. Harry put his hand on Hermiones shoulder and squeezed it.
Okay, said Bill. He set a battered copper kettle on the ground and they all knelt and put a hand on it. In
seconds they were in the lane just outside the gate to the Burrow. They hurried toward the house, and
Charlie opened the door. He was almost bowled over by Molly who charged past him and ran to Ginny.
She hugged her so hard that Ginny grunted. Mum, youre strangling me! She extricated herself and
Molly went down the line, hugging and kissing the others.
When they had all gone inside she sat back down next to Arthur, who took her hand; he looked drawn
and tired. Thank goodness, now were all here, and well stay here until they catch him, Molly said in
a no nonsense tone. I dont care, she glared at Charlie, he has as good a reason to come here as
anywhere.
Charlie looked at Bill and raised his eyebrows. He probably went into hiding. Every Auror in England
must be looking for him, plus dementors.
No, said Arthur quietly, no dementors. Kingsleys not using them for that kind of thing anymore.
Well, he should be! Molly snapped. Peoples lives are at risk.
Does anyone know what happened? Harry asked. Bill said there are rumors, but do we know what
really happened? How do we know he really got out? Maybe thats a rumor, too.
Everyone started talking at once until Percy shouted, Quiet! and the room went still and everyone
turned to him. Gawain Robards sent me an owl fifteen minutes ago and
Why did he send it to you? Bill interrupted, somewhat incredulously.
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Why did he send it to you? Bill interrupted, somewhat incredulously.


Ive been helping him straighten out the mess that Rufus Scrimgeour left when he was in charge of the
Department, Percy said testily. I never worked there myself, though, he added smugly. In any event,
Robards owled me. He said that four Death Eaters disguised as Aurors showed up at Azkaban this
morning an hour before Greyback was to be picked up and taken to the Ministry for his trial. They
bluffed their way past the guards and took him. Neither the imposters nor Greyback have been seen
since. He paused and looked around. Anything else you hear is unofficial and probably a false rumor.
Okay, said Bill into the silence,what about protection? What about the house and the grounds? We
Portkeyed in without any problem.
Taken care of, George spoke from the back of the room. Were as safe as can be without a Fidelius.
I dont think we need one, said Charlie. Cant we wait for some more information before we go whole
hog and keep anyone from finding us? For Merlins sake, its only one man.
Its at least five men, Molly snapped again. And they could be right around the corner of the lane,
just waiting.
Arthur put his hand on Mollys shoulder. Dear, we have ten excellent wizards and witches here. No one
would be so foolish as to
Wait! Fleur, who was standing by the window, held up her hand. I just eard someting. She peered
out the window and most of the others crowded around to see. Two people were standing outside the
gate: Head Auror Saliyah Ushujaa and another witch, also in Aurors robes.
Thats Canopia Castlereagh, Percy said. I know them both quite well. He started to open the door.
Percy! Molly shrieked, and everyone jumped. Be careful!
Yes, Mum, he shook his head at Bill, who was standing next to him at the door. They stepped out,
along with George and Charlie, who motioned everyone else to stay inside. Auror Ushujaa, my
apologies, Percy called, we need to be certain that you are really you. He shook his head again and
muttered under his breath, That sounds intelligent. He called out again, What is Department Directive
Number EightySeven?
The Head Auror stared at him. Percy, this is nonsense. Weve come with news. Let us in. Oh, all right,
she said crossly, as Percy shook his head once more. There is no Directive EightySeven. The last one
was FortyTwo.
Percy nodded to George, and he waved his arm and his wand in a wide circle. There was a loud ringing
sound, and the gate swung open. The two Aurors crossed the yard, and Percy shrugged apologetically as
Ushujaa glared at him. Charlie opened the door and they entered the crowded kitchen. People moved and
shuffled around to make room, and Harry found Ginny and stood next to her. Some of the family were
sitting, the rest stood around the table. Hermione was staring at the Aurors with a look that Harry
thought resembled that of a cornered rabbit, except that a rabbit could never be that terrified. Molly was
glaring at the Aurors. Percy was trying to arrange people into some kind of order, but everyone ignored
him.
Finally, Saliyah Ushujaa found a spot next to the stove where everyone could more or less see her. She
looked around at each face.
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looked around at each face.


Fenrir Greyback is dead, she said simply. There was total silence, and then Molly and Hermione both
began to cry.
Just a moment, said Arthur, who was sitting in front of the Auror; he turned to face her. Why in
Merlins name would the Head Auror come here to tell us that? An owl would have been perfectly
sufficient, and if that wasnt secure enough you or Kingsley could have sent a Patronus.
Because there is a crime involved, replied Saliyah, and we think some of you may be able to help us.
She looked directly at Ginny, and all the others followed her gaze.
Me? Ginny said, startled and perplexed. I think I only saw the bast the bloke two or three times,
ever.
Yes, said Saliyah, but let me explain. Greybacks body was found this afternoon, about two hours
ago, in one of the dumpsters next to the public entrance of the Ministry. Fortunately, we found him
before the Muggle authorities did. He was mutilated. His face was gone, there were large gashes on his
forehead and cheeks, and we found his nose in his pocket. There were noises from around the room.
Sorry, she said, but we dont know if thats significant. But all of his wounds were made by a knife,
not by fangs or claws or a wand. Also, both of his arms and legs were broken, crushed actually. He
probably suffered horribly before he died.
Ginny had put her hand to her mouth. Harry felt her shaking and put his arm around her. The Aurors
were watching her. Miss Weasley... Ginny, Saliyah said, we think that relatives of a Hogwarts student
who was killed in the battle, Elizabeth Derby, did this. Greyback may have deserved everything they did
to him, and more, but if they did it, they committed a murder themselves. Can you tell us anything about
it?
Ginny shook her head and glared at the Auror. I was holding her hand when she died. It was horrible.
She put her face on Harrys shoulder and he turned her away.
Does anyone else know anything? Saliyah asked, looking around the room. Minister Shacklebolt
asked me personally to come here because he knows what you have gone through. Im asking for your
help.
There was silence for a long moment. Charlie gripped the back of the chair he was standing behind that
George was sitting in. Others shifted on their feet. Then Percy spoke.
I know you all think Im a pompous stuffed shirt, he said, and at times I do, too. But I wonder if you
were listening to Kingsley Shacklebolt when he spoke at Freds funeral. Do you remember? He said
well never have a better world until we make it better ourselves. If we dont help bring murderers to
justice, no matter how deserving of death their victim was, then what is there to keep someone whose
motives arent as noble as ours he looked at Ginny from protecting another murderer, maybe a
murderer as vile and terrifying as Fenrir Greyback?
Again there was silence. Harry looked at Ginny; she was staring at Percy, and then she glanced at Harry.
Her eyes were troubled, but she was no longer angry, as she had been a few seconds before. She looked
at Charlie and he nodded briefly. She turned to Saliyah. Yes, thats how Elizabeth died. She had
identical wounds, thats what it sounds like. The Aurors looked at each other, and then Saliyah put her
hand on Arthur Weasleys shoulder.
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Thank you, thank you all. She looked at Percy. Minister Shacklebolt will give all of you his personal
thanks, Im sure. Ginny, she looked at her, I doubt that anyone will need to talk to you again about
this. Were fairly certain of the names of those who did it. And if they are caught and tried, frankly I
cant see any jury of witches or wizards sending them to Azkaban. Theyll probably get Ministry
detention, maybe for a few years, but it would be nothing like a sentence to Azkaban.
The family moved out of the way and into the yard as the Aurors left. Saliyah Ushujaa spoke quietly to
Percy who nodded solemnly. Then they went out the gate and Disapparated. Bill patted Percys back and
smiled at him, and then they all went inside.
Dinner at the Burrow that evening was a quiet affair. Afterward, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione
walked down to Freds grave and Ginny took the flowers that were lying on it. Ill pick fresh ones
tomorrow, she said. Ron and Hermione left to bid goodbye to the others before their return to London.
Later, Bill and Fleur came down and told them that they were staying for the night. Harry and Ginny
walked back in the darkness and decided that they would stay at the Burrow and not return with Bill and
Fleur.
You know what? Ginny said when they stopped near the house and looked up at the stars. She leaned
against Harry and he put his arms around her and pulled her close so that her back was against his chest;
he kissed her neck and she giggled.Im really glad were home. I loved it at the Cottage, but...
But what?
She paused for a moment. Do you know what you discover when you live in the same house in the
countryside for sixteen years?
Thats totally out of my life experience. What do you discover?
You discover lots of places where you can go and hide and no one can ever find you.
Harry felt his pulse speed up for some reason. And do these hidey places have room for more than one
person?
Just, Ginny whispered, and she turned her head and kissed him.
Back to index

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Chapter 8: Summer Of Peace


Author's Notes: As promised, here's chapter 8 on Thursday. The next chapter probably won't be posted
until later in the week after Labor Day, because I won't have access to a computer this weekend. How I
will survive is anyone's guess :-) I wish everyone who celebrates Labor Day a great holiday, and a great
weekend to everyone else.
A warm breeze carried the aroma of a baking peach pie out the open kitchen window of the Burrow and
into the pleasant early August afternoon. The fragrance wafted across the garden, where a dozen very
ugly gnomes looked up from their grubbing and began to salivate. They gazed mournfully at the house,
around which, they knew, lay a highly unpleasant to them antignome jinx, cast by the Burrows
newest resident, a very talented young wizard with a tricky wand. They smelled and they yearned, but
they could not have it.
The fruity fragrance drifted on its tantalizing way past the garden and the drooling gnomes, over the
lawn, and into the nostrils of that young wizard. Harry was lying on a plastic Mugglemade lawn chair
recliner in a sunny spot near the very tree from which, that morning, Ginny had picked the peaches
while being levitated by Harry that were now baking in the kitchen.
The chair in which Harry was sleeping on his stomach had been plucked a few days ago from a rubbish
bin in front of a nearby Muggle house. Arthur Weasley had thought, when he picked it out of the heap of
trash, that it would prove a handsome example of traditional Muggle furniture that he could proudly
display in the Burrows parlor. But Molly had forbidden its presence anywhere inside her house, and
Harry had told him that it was supposed to be used outdoors, anyway.
Harry was dressed the way he had been dressed for most of the summer: in a pair of cutoff jeans,
shirtless, and barefoot. His hands dangled down off the chair onto the ground; his wand was tucked
through the back of his belt. He was occasionally aware of voices coming from the kitchen, but the warm
sun on his back and the indolent mood of the day in fact, of the whole summer kept him from
waking up completely. He turned his head toward the house when the smell of the peach pie reached
him, but only to get a better sniff at it during the brief moments when he drifted up out of his nap. He
sighed, and began snoring quietly into the webbing of the chair.
The voices from the kitchen stopped, and for a while there were no sounds but the peaceful rustling of
trees in the light breeze, the buzzing of small insects outside the repellent spell Harry had cast around
himself, and the bird songs from the woods near the house. Then something began to tickle his left hand,
and he reluctantly opened one eye and peered down. A fuzzy, green caterpillar was inching its way up
his wrist, looking fuzzier than it really was because he did not have his glasses on. He flicked his hand
casually, turned his head, closed his eye, and sighed again.
He felt the tickling again, looked, and flicked the insect off his hand once more. But before he closed his
eye, he saw, even without his glasses, the caterpillar rise through the air and disappear over his head. He
felt it land in his hair, and at the same time someone behind him giggled. He reached up and took the
caterpillar out of his hair, picked his eyeglasses off the ground and put them on, and sat up. Ginny,
wearing shorts and a halter top, was peeking out from behind the peach tree, a grin on her face and a
wand in her hand pointed at the fuzzy bug. She was barefoot like Harry, and her hair was pulled back
and gathered with a red and gold clip in the shape of a griffin.
Youve got a hairpiece now, she said.
Youre not supposed to be doing magic, Harry wagged his finger at her and stood up, trying to look
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Youre not supposed to be doing magic, Harry wagged his finger at her and stood up, trying to look
stern. Your birthdays still a week away. Levitating insects will get you six months in Azkaban, and no
time off for good behavior. As if you knew what that was.
Why dont you come and arrest me, then? She put her hands on her hips and swayed them seductively.
Ill do better than that. He put the caterpillar in the grass and started walking toward her, grinning.
Catch me first! she laughed and turned and ran. She went flying around the garden, past the house, and
down the lane. Harry went after her, but as he turned into the lane he suddenly yelled and pulled up,
hopping on his left foot and holding his right with both hands.
Ginny came running back. Stub your little toe? she was still laughing as Harry hopped around the
lane, swearing and trying to rub his foot.
I stepped on a rock. Dammit. He fell over and Ginny knelt next to him.
Here, let me see it, she said. Harry lifted his foot and watched as she brushed his sole off and
examined it. Whatever you stepped on wasnt sharp. Theres just a little bitty mark here. She pulled her
wand from the waistband of her shorts and touched the ball of his foot. Livor est, she said softly.
Hey, what did you do? he exclaimed. It stopped hurting!
Ive got the magic touch, Ginny laughed. She stood and took Harrys hand and pulled him up.
They walked fifty yards down the lane, then Ginny pushed aside the branches of the thick hedgerow that
lined it. They bent low and came out the other side in a large, overgrown field. They walked into the
middle and Harry conjured a blanket and they sat down in a small cleared space, surrounded by waist
high grasses and flowers; they were invisible to anyone who was more than a few yards away. While
Harry lay with his head in her lap, Ginny wove a garland of grass and flowers; she did not use magic,
but made it with her own hands. For a while they talked, but when Ginny leaned over to kiss him, he
pulled her down and they made love under the open sky with a gentle breeze whispering around them.
Molly Weasley and Saliyah Ushujaa stood in the open front door of the Burrow, watching as Ginny and
Harry disappeared down the lane. They had stepped out of the parlor where they had been sitting and
talking when they heard Harrys cry as he trod on the stone. When she saw Ginny touch the sole of
Harrys foot with her wand, and the smile on his face that followed, Molly sighed.
I wish she wouldnt do that. Arthur gets a note from the Improper Use of Magic Office every time she
does magic here. Well, its only for another week.
Saliyah had a smile on her face. Ive never seen two people their age like that, she said. Theyre
always together, and theyre always having a good time. Ginnys aglow every time I see her. Molly
glanced at her, then her eyes went back to the lane, which was empty.
So how is the party coming along? Saliyah asked as they returned to the parlor. Preparations were
almost complete for a grand bash on the Saturday after Ginnys seventeenth birthday. The guest list was
long, and included all the Gryffindor students from last year, all the members of Dumbledores Army,
and everyone from the Order of the Phoenix.
Well, said Molly, I hope the house is still standing the next day. And its going to be a problem
keeping the Muggles from noticing. Someones bound to use some kind of loud magic. Ive warned
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keeping the Muggles from noticing. Someones bound to use some kind of loud magic. Ive warned
George, but you know him. She thought about his parting farewell to Fred.
Itll be fine, Saliyah assured her. Kingsley and I will help keep it down to a dull roar.
That will help, I suppose. But you know that Ginny invited the entire Order, and that unfortunately
includes Mundungus Fletcher. I dont like the idea of him wandering around the house with those sticky
fingers.
Why dont you get Harry to put a spell on everything lighter than the sofa, Saliyah laughed. I heard
that he can do some interesting things with his wand.
I dont want to bother Harry, Molly waved her hand. Its as much his party as Ginnys. We gave him
one last year, but things were so unsettled and uncertain. Alastor had just been killed, and Harrys poor
owl. And Ginnys going to want him to be with her most of the time.
Yes, its like theyre Spellotaped together.
Molly looked out the window which gave a view down the lane; Harry and Ginny were nowhere in
sight. Sometimes I think theyre too close. Shes still so young...
But Molly, theyre in love. What were you and Arthur doing when you were seventeen? Its sweet and
its beautiful. And Ill bet you ten Galleons that the next big todo you have here will be a wedding.
A wedding? We just had one last year. Molly pulled a lace handkerchief out of the air and dabbed at
her eyes. She cried easily these days. The weeks since Freds funeral had been hard ones, and the house
felt empty even with Ginny and Harry spreading feelings of young love. George had decided that he
needed to stop spending hours every day at Freds grave, and went back to work; Charlie had left for
Romania for a few weeks and would return for Ginnys birthday; Percy was in London, his career
apparently rehabilitated under Saliyahs sponsorship; Ron had left home right after the funeral and
seemed to have time for nothing but Hermione and the joke shop; and Bill and Fleur came to visit only
on weekends. Molly was coping, but barely. Saliyah tried to come down to see her as often as possible,
but her duties were heavy and her free time scarce. Molly missed Tonks the most at moments like these,
when an empty nest loomed and the only child left at home would be the one in his grave.
Saliyah wanted more details about the party, and Molly described the food, catered by Madam Rosmerta
from the Three Broomsticks; the entertainment, supplied by a band that had been started up over the
summer by a group of Hufflepuffs, the lead singer of which was a friend of Neville Longbottoms; and
some of the presents they had bought for Ginny. Molly had tried to restrain her husband, but Arthur
would not be denied the pleasure of completely spoiling his only daughter one last time.
I think hes afraid that Harry will outdo him, she smiled, adjusting the knitting needles that were
hovering next to her; they had just begun the first of a platoon of maroon sweaters for this years
Christmas presents. His little witch has found her wizard.
Well, here they come, Saliyah glanced out the window, and a few minutes later the front door opened.
They could hear a chair being pulled up at the kitchen table, and then Ginny poked her head into the
parlor.
Is it pie yet? she asked. Were hungry.
Goodness, you just ate lunch, declared Molly, getting up from the sofa. What on earth were you doing
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Goodness, you just ate lunch, declared Molly, getting up from the sofa. What on earth were you doing
to give you such an appetite?
Absolutely nothing, Mum. Ginny turned away so that her mother would not see her roll her eyes.
Molly looked at Saliyah, who just shrugged.
Saliyah and Ginny joined Harry at the table; he was wearing a garland of yellow flowers on his head.
Molly peered into the oven, then, with her wand, directed the pie plate off the rack and onto a trivet in
the center of the table. A knife cut it into slices that then whisked themselves onto plates which had
flown out of a cupboard to a spot in front of each person. Saliyah observed Harrys crown of cowslip,
but took her cue from Molly and did not remark on it; it seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary to
Mrs. Weasley.
Molly watched approvingly as Harry immediately dug in. Her supreme and distracting pleasure of the
summer, in addition to observing the happiness of her daughter, had been feeding Harry. Harry, for his
part, was enjoying the bounty of Molly Weasleys home cooking as his secondmost pleasurable part of
the summer, the first being the company of Mollys daughter. He finished his piece of pie and waved his
hand at the dish in the middle of the table; another slice floated to his plate. Saliyah observed with
professional but slightly awed interest. What was that, Harry? How did you do that? she asked.
Harry grinned. Magic.
But your wand is... Where is it?
Harry pulled his wand from his belt in back. As long as its touching me I can do things. Its very
convenient, he smiled. I think Dumbledore could do it.
And Voldemort. But how did you learn it.
When Riddle used the Killing Curse on me in the forest, he transferred some of his power to me again,
like when he gave me my scar.
Harry was not telling the truth. Even though he didnt mind if people knew that he had acquired some
unusual powers, he did not want anyone except Ron, Hermione, and Ginny to know the real reason. He
had begun to notice earlier in the summer that his wand could do some interesting magic. It had first
happened when he and Ginny encountered the six unfriendly Muggles on the beach. Harry had only
pictured in his mind a shower of beer, and the bottles had risen into the air and burst seemingly of their
own accord. The only reason he could come up with for it was that his wand had been repaired by the
Elder Wand. And even though many people were aware that there was something unusual about the
wand that Harry had taken from Riddle, he did not want to advertise it and give people reason to think
about it.
Saliyah frowned. Really? So what can you do besides summon a piece of pie?
Harry grinned mischievously. So far thats the most important thing. He summoned a third piece as he
finished the second. So, he changed the subject, how are the Death Eater trials coming along? By the
way, Mrs. Weasley, this pie is beyond delicious. She smiled appreciatively.
Theyre coming along, said Saliyah, but she was still looking at his wand. Theyre all claiming the
Imperius of course. And we dont Merlins belly! Thats your fourth piece, Harry! Where are you
putting it?
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Its those new powers I was talking about, Harry said. Ginny, whose mouth was full, burst out laughing
and had to catch chewed up peach pie in her hand to keep it from splattering all over herself and the
table.
Its all right, dear, Molly said to her. There are plenty of peaches left. Harry, would you like another
pie?
Mrs. Weasley, you are spoiling me rotten, he sighed. Not now. Im stuffed. He sat back in his chair
and looked at Ginny. You woke me up from my nap with your bug trick. Peach pie must make me
sleepy, I think Ill go lay down again. He stood up, but Ginny pouted and folded her arms on her chest,
although there was a glint in her eye.
Youre no fun. All you do is eat and sleep, eat and sleep. Youre turning into an old man. She stood
up, then bent over from the waist and moved haltingly across the kitchen. Old man wizard, thats you,
Harry Potter, she said in a cackling, screechy voice. I guess Ill have to become an old hag meself
before youll pay me any attention. She took out her wand. Now, what was that spell to turn me into a
hag? Oh, dearie me, my mind must be going, I cant remember a thing.
Harry and Saliyah were roaring with laughter at this performance, and even Molly was smiling. Okay,
okay, Harry wiped his eyes. Dont turn into a hag, at least not yet. I want to waste my youth on you
first. He turned red, and glanced at Mrs. Weasley, whose eyebrows were raised, Uh, I mean, we
mustnt waste our youth on... uh... Sorry. He ducked his head at her, then took Ginnys hand and
quickly led her out the door. Saliyah and Molly soon heard their laughter as they headed down the lane
again.
Give it up, Molly, said Saliyah, Theyre both happy, and isnt that what you want? What we all want,
a little bit of normality? Mrs. Weasley nodded, but her eyes teared up as she waved her wand and the
plates and dishes floated off the table and into the sink.
****

A hundred and fifty miles away in London, on level two of the Ministry of Magic, Arthur Weasley sat in
his cramped, cluttered office, frowning at an official Ministry of Magic parchment that had just been
handed to him by the short, stout wizard standing in front of his desk. The wizard was nervous, and had
an apologetic smile. Arthur was reading the parchment, on which was written a long list of magic that
had been performed illegally at the Burrow in the last two months by an underage witch.
The wizard was Ferdinand Forthfield. He was the same age as Arthur, and in fact they had been
classmates at Hogwarts and had entered service in the Ministry at the same time. He worked in the
Improper Use of Magic Office, on the same level as Arthur Weasleys Misuse of Muggle Artifacts
Office. After the death of Tom Riddle, Arthur had returned to his old job, but had kept his higher salary
grade at the insistence of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Im really sorry, Artie, the wizard said, and brushed his hand over his nearly bald, sweating head.
Everyone knows who she is and who shes with, and that her birthday is next week, but sixtyone
violations in fiftyone days we just couldnt ignore it. I was able to get Hopkirk to let me hand it to
you in person, rather than send an official owl to your home. Shes sympathetic, too, but it wouldnt look
good, it would seem like we were playing favorites, and... He trailed off, and his apologetic smile took
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good, it would seem like we were playing favorites, and... He trailed off, and his apologetic smile took
on a pleading quality.
Of course, of course, I quite understand, Ferdie, its quite understandable, and I appreciate your
handling it this way, I really do. He shook his head as he ran his finger down the list. You know how
kids are these days. And she... well, she had a rough year, you know. He looked up, hoping for
sympathy, and Ferdinand nodded in agreement.
Like I said, Artie, everyone understands, but we had no choice. Sixtyone in less than two months!
He chuckled. Rather extraordinary, actually. Shes quite a talented witch already, judging from this, uh,
this activity, he indicated the parchment in Arthurs hand.
Arthur was frowning again as he reread the list. What are these, here at the top? Medical charms?
What exactly does that mean? My goodness, there are more than a dozen of them. I know shes used a
few healing spells, shes quite good at them, he added proudly. I mean, in the proper context, of
course. Certainly not outside the confines of Hogwarts.
Well, those, Artie, those are something we usually let the parents deal with. I, uh, I dont know much
about it. Ferdinand had suddenly turned red, and became interested in a poster hanging on the wall only
inches behind Arthurs head. The poster showed a man with a moustache, wearing a banddirectors
hat, and the entire poster was in numerous garish colors. Across the top were the words, Sgt. Pepper.
Well, what do you tell the parents to do? Arthur asked, a little annoyed.
They, uh, they usually contact a Healer. Its a medical charm, you see. He pointed to the parchment.
Well, he looked quickly around the tiny office, Ive got to run. Thats a nice poster youve got, but I
never heard of that wizard. Its been brilliant talking to you again, Artie. Must try to stay in touch a little
more, righto? He backed out of the door there wasnt enough room to turn around and was gone
before Arthur could open his mouth.
He sighed and looked down the list of violations again. There were two at the bottom that were dated
today, just this afternoon, in fact. One was a levitating spell and the other a healing charm, but the latter
was different from the dozenodd ones listed at the top. They had a strange name that he had never
seen before, and there were one or two of them each day for the first week and a half that Ginny had
been home after she got back from Shell Cottage. After that, though, they did not appear on the list
again. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, sighed again, then stood and peered out the office door to a
wizard sitting at a desk in a room across the hall that was even tinier than his.
Perkins! he called to his assistant, and the wizard looked up. Send an owl to St. Mungos for me, will
you please? Send it to Healer Derwent, and ask if I can come see her this afternoon, preferably right
now.
Perkins departed, and Arthur gazed at the parchment and shook his head. But he couldnt help smiling a
little. He went down the names of the magic Ginny had done: levitating, vanishing, transfigurations,
tickling, a few healing ones. It was the record of a young witch having a good time except for the
mysterious medical charms at the top. He couldnt figure those out. Well, he thought, how bad could
they be? Obviously, no one was hurt.
In a few minutes Perkins was back and handed him a small parchment. Come any time, it read, my
office is on the fourth floor. Just come right up. Arthur thought for a moment, then got up and took his
hat from a hook on the door. I might not be back today, he told Perkins. He put the parchment from
the Improper Use of Magic Office inside his robes and left.
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the Improper Use of Magic Office inside his robes and left.
In fifteen minutes he was standing in the waiting room of St. Mungos. There were only a few people
there, and only one of them had a particularly bizarre affliction a witch who was barking loudly and
whose bushy tail was wagging vigorously as she scratched herself behind the ear with her foot. Arthur
went up to the Welcome Witchs desk.
Im here to see Healer Derwent, he announced when the witch failed to look up from her magazine.
She waved vaguely at the doors to her right. Fourth floor, she said.
Thanks, Arthur muttered as he walked away. He went up to the fourth floor. It took him a minute to
find the room with a metal nameplate announcing Healer Hestia Derwent. He knocked and entered
when the witch inside called out, Come in.
Hestia Derwent was sitting behind a desk in her Healers robes studying a medical chart. She was an
attractive, motherly, middleaged witch, an old friend of the Weasleys. She rose with a smile and
came around her desk. Arthur, its good to see you. How is everyone? How is Molly doing? I hope this
isnt a medical visit.
They shook hands and Hestia led him to a sofa under a window, and they sat down.
Were all fine, he said. All of the boys have gone, but Harry Potters staying with us. Its been a real
boon, especially for Molly after... after what happened to Fred.
Yes. Thats a wound that may never heal, unfortunately. But it sounds like she at least has something to
distract her a bit. They talked for a few more minutes, exchanging gossip about witches and wizards
they both knew. Finally, Arthur drew the parchment from his robes.
Weve been having sort of a problem with Ginny this summer. Not really a problem, shes just been a
little rambunctious with her magic. Shell be seventeen next Tuesday, but shes been doing some extra
curricular magic at the house. Nothing serious, but quite a bit of it. He laughed nervously. I actually
just got handed this at the office. Oh, I dont think therell be any trouble, he assured Hestia, who
looked concerned. But there is something on the list... The wizard who gave it to me, someone from the
Ministry, seemed reluctant to explain it. Here, these, he pointed to the charms listed at the top of the
parchment as he handed it to her.
Hestia began to read, and her eyebrows immediately rose and a look of surprise came over her face. She
glanced at Arthur over the top of the parchment, then smiled briefly and bit her lower lip; she seemed to
be trying not to laugh.
So you dont know what this is? she asked. Arthur shook his head. Hestia perused the list again,
counting as she read down, then took a breath and looked at him. Its a birth control charm. She used it
fifteen times in eleven days.
Arthurs eyes bulged. Fifteen?! In eleven days?! Merlins ba! He closed his mouth and stared at her.
He swallowed several times, trying to comprehend what the Healer had said. Does that mean that she...
and Harry... fifteen times in eleven days?
Hestia nodded. Probably. Its a simple charm, very effective, she added and Arthur looked relieved,
but not long lasting. Its the one they teach all fifthyear girls at Hogwarts just before they turn
sixteen. Very smart of them, if you ask me.
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But Arthur was barely listening. He looked angry, terrified, bemused, and astounded all at once. Hestia
put her hand on his. Shes not the first sixteenyearold witch to fall in love, Arthur, and she
obviously knows what shes doing. Shes being careful. Didnt you suspect anything?
Arthur nodded, then shook his head. Theyre off by themselves all the time. Fifteen?
Hestia laughed. Im sorry, she patted his hand again. I shouldnt laugh, but it is quite something, dont
you think?
Arthur scowled and took the parchment back. No, I dont think its something. Shes not of age, and
Harrys our house guest, for goodness sake. How could he do this to us?
Pardon me, Arthur, I know its none of my business, although you did come here and ask me to explain
this to you, but Harry didnt do anything to you. Her voice softened. Think about his life, about what
hes had to do just to keep from being murdered. Now, suddenly, hes no longer in danger and hes
found someone whos bringing out all the love that he could never show to anyone before. Its almost a
miracle.
Arthur looked at the parchment again. On one level he knew that Hestia was right, and that Ginny was
both smart enough and capable enough to make her own choices, even if she was a week short of
seventeen. But on another level he wanted to lock her in her room forever. He didnt know what he
should do. Do you have any daughters? he asked.
Two, the Healer replied. Both married. And I have three grandchildren.
We dont have any grandchildren yet, said Arthur. I can see them coming, though.
Hestia burst out laughing. Im sorry again, she said. But what I see every day, all day long, is
suffering. Hearing about happiness is a tonic.
I suppose. Still... Arthur stood and started walking toward the door. He paused with his hand on the
handle. She stopped using it after eleven days, though. He looked at Hestia, puzzled, Surely they
didnt stop doing I mean... what do you think happened?
She thought for a moment. Maybe she taught it to Harry. It wouldnt register on the Trace if he did it.
She got a faraway look in her eyes and a small smile on her face.
But suddenly Arthur turned pale and put his hand to his head. Good God, I just realized, what am I
going to tell Molly? Shell go berserk.
I cant imagine she doesnt already suspect something, but can I make a suggestion? Dont say
anything. In a week it wont matter, and why ruin a perfectly good birthday?
He stood thinking about it, and then chuckled. That would be the peaceful way out, wouldnt it? I dont
know though... Well, he came back to Hestia and took her hand, I appreciate the advice. And what are
you doing a week from Saturday? Its going to be a stupendous party, assuming were all still talking to
each other.
Ill try to be there, she laughed. They shook hands and Arthur left.
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****

Since they had come back to the Burrow, Harry and Ginny had created an internal world of their own.
They did not deliberately exclude anyone from it they interacted with the rest of the family and house
guests but things happened between them that only they were aware of, and it simply did not occur
to them to tell other people what was going on.
They anticipated each others needs without being asked. Ginny would get up in the middle of a
conversation and bring Harry a butterbeer from the kitchen, and he would take it and smile at her, and
everyone else in the parlor would glance at each other, wondering how Ginny knew. Then Harry would
get up while describing how Professor Flitwick was going to give him advanced tutoring in Charms this
fall, and he would walk over to Ginny and start scratching her back, and when he was finished Ginny
would take his hand and give it a pat.
These kinds of things went on all the time between them, and Molly and Arthur had gotten used to them.
But it was new to Saliyah and Kingsley Shacklebolt; the latter had come down from London that evening
with Arthur to join Saliyah as the Weasleys dinner guest. After the meal and after Mollys second peach
pie of the day had been devoured, Arthur and Kingsley went outside and sat near the garden, sipping
butterbeers. Kingsley watched Harry and Ginny who had gone to the field down the lane soar above
the treetops on broomsticks; their whoops and laughter could be clearly heard from the backyard of the
Burrow.
What is it about them? Kingsley wondered aloud. Ive never seen a couple like that. Theres some
kind of magic going on, dont you think?
Arthur wasnt listening and didnt answer. He was sitting in the Muggle lawn chair which he had
forced into an upright position after a titanic struggle watching the two flyers. He was also thinking
about what he had learned that afternoon from Hestia Derwent. He had not told Molly about the list of
violations, in fact he had used an Unnoticeable charm on it and had hidden it under a pile of old work
shirts in his dresser. He had trouble looking at Harry, though. He was uncomfortable, but not angry; how
could he be, after all? At dinner he could see the Weasley family clock on a counter right behind Harry,
with its hands pointed at normal activities At Home, Traveling, At Work. He remembered that only a
few months ago they had all pointed to Mortal Peril, and it was thanks to Harry that it was no longer
doing so.
And if he had any thoughts at all about cracking down on Ginny, all he had to do was look at her. He
had never seen her so happy in her life. Molly always liked to say that she and Arthur were made for
each other, but Ginny and Harry made that observation look like an overstatement. He knew that he did
have to talk to her; he was her father after all, and he had a responsibility. But then again, watching the
two of them together had been a pleasure of his and Mollys all summer. They spread good feelings,
somehow; he always felt happy when he was around them.
Its contagious, said Arthur, watching Ginny do three quick barrel rolls over Harry. The boys used to
bring girlfriends home, but they were never like that, and it never made me feel... well, I dont know.
He laughed selfconsciously.
Younger? Kingsley suggested with a smile, and took a swig of his butterbeer. He was glad to be out
of town, if only for an evening. The war might be won, but the effort to move the Ministry of Magic off
of its bureaucratic rearend in the direction he wanted it to go was often frustrating and always tiring.
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of its bureaucratic rearend in the direction he wanted it to go was often frustrating and always tiring.
But tonight he was relaxed; it was a beautiful evening in the middle of a peaceful summer, and he
enjoyed watching Harry and Ginny together as much as he enjoyed the company of the Weasleys.
I heard that Ron and Hermione Granger went to France with Bill and his wife, Kingsley said. When
will they be back?
Saturday. They want to be back in time for Ginnys birthday and the party.
Thatll be a blowout. Kingsley finished his butterbeer and stood up. Can I get you another one?
Arthur shook his head, and Kingsley walked back to the house and went inside.
At that moment Harry and Ginny appeared around the side of the Burrow with their brooms slung over
their shoulders. They were both still barefoot and in tee-shirts. They stopped underneath the window of
Ginnys room, leaned their brooms against the side of the house, and then Ginny pointed her wand. Two
sweatshirts flew out the window of her room and dropped into her hands. She gave one to Harry and
they turned and continued across the lawn toward the woods in back of the house.
Ginny! barked her father. Where are you going? Dont stay out late! And no magic! How many times
do I have to tell you?
Oops. Sorry, Dad, she called as she and Harry passed the gate at the end of the lawn. I didnt see you
there. They now had their arms around each other, and soon they disappeared down a path that led into
the woods.
Sixtytwo, muttered Arthur, frowning.
Kingsley reappeared as Harry and Ginny were walking out the gate. He watched them go and sat down.
Youre right, he said thoughtfully. They make you feel younger. They sat in silence for a moment,
then Kingsley stood up again. How about we go see what the witches are up to?. Arthur grunted, and
they went into the Burrow.
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Chapter 9: The Heirloom


Author's Notes: This chapter is a little shorter than the others, but making it longer would have messed
up chapter 10, which is in an advanced draft already, so I'm hoping to submit it in a few days.
I apologize to all French speakers and language students for the name of a magical object which appears
in The Heirloom. The object was inveneted (if that is the word) and named centuries ago by an English
witch who's knowledge of French was limited, to say the least. She named it by putting two French
words together in a completely un-grammatical way. I decided to keep the original name in order to
avoid confusion.
10/06/07 - made minor editing corrections.
Arthur lay awake most of the night, worrying and thinking about Ginny. He had decided to talk to her in
the morning he knew that Harry would not be there and the more he thought about the list of illegal
magic, the more he realized that it was silly to think that he could keep it from Molly. She was bound to
find out, and it was wrong anyway to keep her in the dark about something so important. But he was
unsure of what to do about the birth control charms. So, at threethirty in the morning, after endless
tossing and turning, he lit a candle and woke Molly. After she finished grousing about the hour, he
showed her the parchment from the Improper Use of Magic Office; next to the first medical charm he
had written birth control.
To Arthurs surprise, all Molly did was sigh and hand the parchment back to him with barely a glance at
it. Its what I expected, she said. They spend so much time off by themselves. How could we not
expect something like this to happen? Although, so many... She took the parchment back and counted
the charms, then put her hand over her mouth and suppressed a giggle. Thank goodness they teach that
at school. They certainly didnt when we were there.
Arthur snatched the notice back. Thats fine, he said peevishly, but what do we do now?
Molly shrugged. What do you think we should do? What would you do?
It cant continue, he grumbled. They cant use our house for this.
For what? Dont you remember what we did when we were seventeen?
As I recall, we were both seventeen.
Thats a technicality. The issue is... I dont know, what is the issue? That it makes us uncomfortable?
That its wrong? How can it be wrong for two young people who feel like they do, as long as theyre
careful? I dont know what the answer is, Arthur.
Well, the magic has to stop. At least admit to that.
Molly pushed the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed. Yes, she said with her back to him, I
agree. Thats a violation of the law, and its embarrassing you. But, she turned to face him, weve
known about it for weeks and havent done anything. If we dont handle it right, shell just throw it back
in our faces. She got back into bed. I dont know what Im doing. I was about to get up and make
breakfast, so how can I know what Im saying? Im half asleep. Its way too early or late or whatever it
is to be talking about this.
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She lay down and yawned, then looked thoughtfully at Arthur, who still had a small crease on his brow.
Theres something about them, something different. She put her hand on his. I cant put my finger on
it, but theres some kind of magic there. I dont mean just the romantic kind. Ginny acts like a giddy
teenage witch, but theres a power underneath it. Sometimes it frightens me, but its a wonder to behold.
She squeezed his hand and pulled the covers up. Dearest, shes your own little witch, but now shes
about to become a grownup witch, and someone elses grownup witch at that. I know how hard it is,
believe me. I nursed her, I changed her nappies, I watched her grow. But just think of who she chose,
and how happy she is. She yawned again and smiled, then reached up and put her hand on Arthurs
face. They make me feel good.
Arthur put out the candle and sat in the dark, letting the images of Ginny that Molly had evoked run
through his mind. He turned to her and was about to speak, but she was asleep.
He settled down and dozed until the sun came up. Molly awoke and went downstairs to make breakfast,
and Arthur followed a few minutes later; Molly was clearing Ginny and Harrys breakfast dishes.
Theyre already outside, Molly said as she dunked two small bowls in the sink. Hes leaving. She
nodded her head toward the window over the sink and Arthur joined her. Ginny and Harry were standing
near the gate. Ginny had her hands on his chest, and Harry was holding a tiny silver cylinder that was
hung by a silver chain around his neck. He pressed the cylinder to his lips, then closed his eyes and
smiled. Ginny kissed him, and they talked for a moment, and then Harry said something that made Ginny
grab his hands and jump up and down while her face broke into a gleeful grin.
Arthur turned from the window. Hes wearing it, he said to Molly as he sat down. He took the
parchment from his shirt pocket and placed it on the table, and looked up. Molly was watching him. I
dont know what to do, he muttered.
Youll do the right thing. You always do, she said. Arthur smiled wanly and gave her hand an
appreciative pat as she sat down next to him. They waited for Ginny to come inside. They did not speak
as the minutes passed. He gazed at the door, and remembered the first time he had shown the silver
cylinder to Ginny, almost seventeen years ago....
The little cylinder was an ancient and magical heirloom, the Bouquedelle of the Weasley family. It had
been passed to Arthur from his father, and he had given it to Ginny, as was the tradition, on the day she
was born. He had put it, along with the other family heirlooms that would be hers, in a magical chest that
was kept under her crib and then under her bed. It was to be worn by her beloved, but only when they
were separated, and whenever he pressed it to his lips, it gave off her unique scent. Since no female had
been born into the family for hundreds of years, the Bouquedelle had not been used for scores of
generations, and it carried no scent since the aroma always faded away upon the death of its wearer.
When Ginny was seven, Arthur took the Bouquedelle from its chest and explained to his daughter that
some day she would gift it to the love of her life, and he would keep it with him always, to remind him
of her when she was not near. She held it up to the light, letting it swing back and forth on its chain.
"What if I never fall in love, Daddy?" she asked.
"You will, darling," he smiled. "And whoever the lucky wizard is will have no choice. His heart will be
bewitched, and you will give him this and he'll be yours forever. And you will be his forever." They
solemnly put the silver cylinder and its chain back into the chest and put the chest back under her bed.
Then, seven years later, when Ginny was fourteen and about to leave for her fourth year at Hogwarts,
Arthur told her to take it out again.
"It's yours now, to do with as you please," he said. "Remember, it will be your true love's until he dies,
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"It's yours now, to do with as you please," he said. "Remember, it will be your true love's until he dies,
and then it will come back to the family, and it will be passed on to the next Weasley daughter."
Ginny examined the heirloom, turning it over and holding it up to the light; she had not looked at it since
putting it away seven years ago. It was made of loosely woven, finely filigreed silver threads that bent
slightly when she pressed them between her thumb and forefinger. They were flexible, yet the cylinder
kept its shape even when the threads were bent. Through the threads she could see the pink stone that
filled the space inside.
So Ginny had put the Bouquedelle in her dresser drawer and left it there almost three more years, and the
day after she and Harry came home from Shell Cottage at the end of June she went to her room and
opened the dresser. The Bouquedelle was lying on top of a tangled pile of brassieres, and Ginny stared at
it for a moment; she was sure that she had left it under the bras. She picked it up and swung it on its
chain, and it flashed in the sunlight that was coming in her window. She watched it swing for a minute,
then closed the drawer and went to find her father.
He was sitting near the garden reading the Daily Prophet, and looked up when Ginny stood in front of
him. "What is it, honey?" he asked, putting down the paper. She glanced around to make sure no one
was watching, then opened her hand to show him the Bouquedelle. Arthur leaned forward and looked at
her closely. "I've been wondering when you would bring it to me. Ginny, I have to ask you this. Are you
absolutely certain? The magic won't work unless you are."
"I've never been anything but certain, Daddy," she replied . "I want to give it to him on his birthday.
Arthur looked at her intently and she met his gaze. Finally he smiled and held out his hand. "I'll take care
of it. It will only take a day or two." She passed it to him, then, without thinking, she jumped into his lap
and hugged him tightly. He laughed and patted her back. "Let's go upstairs," he said. "We need a few
strands of your hair. I think your mum's up in our room."
Molly wasn't upstairs, but alone in the kitchen. She looked up from the bowl of vegetables she was
washing in the sink, and then beamed at Ginny when Arthur held up the Bouquedelle on its chain.
"Darling!" She wiped her hands on a towel that flew from a hook on the wall. "Are you sure? Oh, silly
question!" She threw the towel down and pulled Ginny into a smothering hug. "Come, I'll cut a lock of
your hair. Oh, my, this is wonderful. We've been talking about it for a year, at least. Some good news at
last! Just wonderful!"
She bustled up the stairs, pushing Ginny ahead of her into the bedroom while Arthur trailed after them.
Molly took a pair of scissors from her sewing chest and, as Ginny held up the hair at the back of her
neck, snipped off a few strands at the root. She held them up, bright red and silky. She twirled them
tightly around her finger, then put them into a little brass box that she retrieved from a jewelry case on
her dressing table. She snapped the box shut and handed it to Ginny.
"This is so important to your father," she said, glancing at Arthur. "I know you realize that, Ginny, but
your Bouquedelle has not been used for hundreds of years. This is a very special moment for the
Weasley family." Ginny hugged her.
Arthur took the silver cylinder and the brass box to the Ministry the next day, and when he gave the
Bouquedelle back to Ginny two days later, the pink stone inside was now darker, almost red, and the
cylinder was slightly heavier. Ginny put it back in her dresser under the bras and left it there.
A month later, on July thirtyfirst, as the sun was rising, Ginny tiptoed up to Harrys room, quietly
went inside, and awoke him with a kiss. He sat up with a start when he saw her. Get dressed, she said
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went inside, and awoke him with a kiss. He sat up with a start when he saw her. Get dressed, she said
and giggled at his obvious disappointment. She waited for him on the landing, then led him outside and
down to a small clearing in the woods near the river that was enclosed by thickets of yew; it was one of
the many places in which they had spent hours together, hidden from the rest of the world. She gave him
the Bouquedelle while they were sitting on the short grass facing each other.
Harry started to put the chain around his neck, but Ginny stopped him. "No," she put her hand on his.
"It's only for when I'm not with you. Put it to your lips, you'll see."
Harry somewhat self-consciously pressed the cylinder to his mouth, then drew back, startled, as Ginny's
magical fragrance the one he had first inhaled in a Potions class two years ago filled the air of the
little clearing. He held the cylinder up, then looked at Ginny in wonder.
Ginny leaned toward him. "This is yours to keep forever."
"It's going to torture me," he said. "Whenever I smell that, I want you."
"Do you now?" she whispered, her eyes bright. She leaned back on her hands, and Harry came to her.
"Happy birthday," Ginny murmured into his ear as he put his hand behind her back and lowered her to
the grass.
The sun was higher, sending flittering beams of light through the branches of the trees that sheltered
them. They were lying on their backs listening to the wind in the leaves. Harry fingered the Bouquedelle,
rolling the cylinder between his thumb and finger. "Where did it come from?" he asked.
Ginny told him how it had been in her family for generations, and how it had become hers. "It's yours for
the rest of your life. Then it comes back to the family until the next girl is born."
"What if you have a daughter?" He gave her a suggestive grin.
"No. It goes through the male line. If one of my brothers has a daughter who isn't married when you...
when you're gone, she'll get it."
"And she'll give it to...?"
"The love of her life."
Harry sat up. The breeze ruffled the hairs on his chest and Ginny reached up and ran her fingers through
them. Harry took her hand and held it. "Is that what you did?" He leaned over her, and his head was
haloed by the sun shining through an opening in the branches above them.
"Of course," Ginny smiled....
Now, on another early morning five days later, out in the yard, Ginny watched Harry walk through the
gate and Disapparate. She whirled around, hugging herself and laughing. Not only was Harry wearing
her Bouquedelle for the first time, but he had told her that this was the last mysterious trip he would be
making by himself. He had gone away every Wednesday for most of the summer, without telling her
where. But next week, the day after her birthday, he would take her with him and give her his birthday
present. And, Ginny thought to herself, she would be able to go without asking permission; she could
Apparate there with Harry, she could fly there, she could do whatever she wanted. She felt a tingling,
excited anticipation, and she laughed aloud again.
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Smiling happily, she walked back to the house, thinking that today would be a good time to start sorting
her clothes for school to see what needed mending. She opened the kitchen door and saw her parents
sitting at the table; her smile faded when she noticed the officiallooking parchment in front of her
father and the frown on his face. When she looked at her parents closely, she could tell that neither one
had gotten enough sleep.
She knew that the parchment had something to do with underage magic; he had yelled at her about it just
yesterday. Her mind raced, and she thought back to the early summer, when in her stupidity she had
done the birth control charms herself. But it didnt matter; she didnt care what they said, she was not
going to stop loving Harry. She would be seventeen in six days, so what difference did it make? And
from all the stories she had heard about her parents, they had certainly done the same thing when they
were her age. She stood in the doorway, waiting for them to speak, balling her fists and clenching her
jaw, her eyes shifting from the parchment to her parents. The mornings tide of joy had receded.
Her father passed his hand over his eyes. Ginny, he sounded weary, I got this notice yesterday while
I was at work. It says that youve committed sixtyone acts of illegal magic this summer sixtytwo,
counting the summoning spell yesterday evening. Thats got to stop.
Ginnys hands unclenched. Was that it? Maybe the birth control charms hadnt registered before Harry
started doing them. If that was all, then no big deal.
Okay, she said. Ill stop. Im sorry, Dad, I didnt mean to cause you trouble.
Her father nodded. I know you didnt, honey. It wasnt really any trouble. But... He looked down at
the parchment, and Ginnys insides flipped. There are some spells on this list that your mum and I have
to ask you about.
Ginny swallowed and looked from one to the other. Her jaw tightened again, and she felt her temper
rising. Harry and I are in love, she said defiantly, and were not going to stop. Its none of your
business, anyway.
Arthur scowled. Its our house and its our business, Ginny. You may not do
We never did anything in the house! she yelled. What do you think we are, stupid?
Molly spoke for the first time. Ginny, thats the last thing anyone thinks of you.
Then let me make up my own mind! Why are Harry and I different from you and Dad before you were
married? Her eyes flashed at them.
They were silent, and Ginny started to turn away and go back outside.
Ginny! her father said sharply. She stopped; it was rare to hear him speak that way. She turned back,
subdued, and was surprised to see him looking at her calmly. Youre not different.
Ginnys temper evaporated; she did not know what to say. Her father took the parchment from the table,
rolled it up, and stood. I got about two hours sleep last night, he said to Molly. Im going back to bed.
If I get any owls from work, write back that Ill be in later. He paused on the stairs and pointed his
finger at Ginny. No magic.
After he left, Ginny came and sat across the table from her mother. Ginny waited, feeling awkward and
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After he left, Ginny came and sat across the table from her mother. Ginny waited, feeling awkward and
embarrassed, but Molly just looked at her with a smile.
Im sorry, Mum, she finally said as her eyes brimmed with tears. I love him so much, I cant help
myself. When were you know together, I feel like the whole world is lit up and Im holding the sun
in my hands. I cant explain it and I dont really understand it.
I do, darling, Molly whispered; she couldnt control her own voice. She reached across the table and
took Ginnys hands, and both of them had tears running down their cheeks.
Back to index

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Chapter 10: The Inn


Author's Notes: This chapter and the last one were mostly written a couple of months ago, which is
why I could post them so quickly. I've just begun the first draft of chapter 11, so it will take a little
longer.
Hope you enjoy this one, and I really, really appreciate all the reviews.
Harry Apparated in a small field behind The Hogs Head Inn. Off to his right was Dervish and Banges
magical equipment shop, and beyond it the High Street ran down through the village to Hogsmeade
Station. Behind him and to his left stretched the orchards and meadows of wizarding farm families that
lived nearby.
He looked up at the back of the Inn. The trim had been painted a bold red and the walls were freshly
whitewashed. Sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall off to one side, was the gruesome sign with
the bloody hogs head that had hung over the front door. Harry hadnt replaced it yet because he had not
decided whether or not to keep the name. When he had bought the inn the goblins asked if he intended
to rename it, and he had answered that he wasnt sure, but no matter what, he would be getting rid of the
sign. They asked for it, and he told them they were welcome to it. They hadnt removed it yet, so there it
was.
Harry had been coming to the inn once a week all summer, directing the changes he wanted, which were
extensive. He wanted a bright, friendly, cheery place where he could bring Ginny, a place that Ginny
would want to come to. He knew what she liked: cosy rooms, fireplaces, friends about her. He kept the
image of her foremost in his mind while the walls were being stripped and repaneled, while a real
floor was laid, while new furnishings and a new bar with an ornate mirror behind it were installed, and
while crystal chandeliers with hundreds of candles were hung. It would be a place of light and
camaraderie; Ron and Hermione would visit often, and maybe it would even become the postwar
headquarters of Dumbledores Army.
And now the work was finished. Harry stepped through the back door and found Tony Trostle the
wizard contractor he had hired to do the job putting finishing touches in the kitchen. Tony was broad
chested and muscular, with a large, black handlebar mustache and a head of bushy hair. He was directing
hammers that were pounding brackets into the walls of the fireplace from which the cooking cauldrons
would hang.
Morning, Harry, Tony called over the racket of the clanging hammers. The cauldrons got delivered
two days ago. Theyre in the back cupboard. Ill have em all hung before lunch.
Harry nodded and looked around the kitchen. He saw spiffy new counter tops, stoves, shelves, racks of
utensils, a large sink, and other accouterments. He walked around, inspecting knives, opening drawers,
running his hand across marble cutting boards. Tony was a proud craftsman; he took his time and he
supervised his workers carefully, and it showed in the final result. This is all beautiful, Tony, Harry
said.
Did you find a cook yet? Tony asked as the hammers flew through the air and slipped neatly into the
loops on his belt. He pulled on the bracket in the fireplace; it held securely and he turned to Harry.
Were just about done in here. Carlos found some loose flashing around the middle chimney, hes up
there now taking care of it. We had a thunderstorm come through on Sunday and it leaked into the attic a
bit. Nothing serious, though.
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Tony liked to hire wizards and witches who had recently immigrated to England; his wife had come to
the country from South America, and Tony felt a kinship with people who were experiencing in a new
land what she had gone through. His current crew were mostly from Argentina. Harry found them
interesting, although he knew no Spanish and they spoke little English. When Tony wasnt around to
translate they communicated with gestures and smiles. They had all heard of Harry Potter, though, and
Tony told him that they all considered it an honor to work for him.
No, no cook yet, or a barkeep, either, Harry replied to Tonys question. He left Tony in the kitchen
and went up the back stairs to the flat on the second floor, where he would live. The stairway led to the
door of the flat which opened into the sitting room; it was in this space that Harry, Hermione, and Ron
had spoken to Aberforth Dumbledore after they had Apparated into Hogsmeade just before the Battle of
Hogwarts. But that slightly rundown and shabby room had been transformed. There was a large fireplace
at one end, and a large picture window that looked out over the field in back. The walls were paneled in
lightly stained walnut, and a new hardwood floor was laid under an oriental rug that George had
obtained for Harry from a wizard rug merchant in Turkey with Charlies help. And the portrait of Ariana
Dumbledore was gone; Aberforth had taken it with him when he vacated the inn. In its place was a
landscape showing the Black Lake with Hogwarts Castle in the background.
Harry had spent a lot of money on the fireplace. He had sneaked out a photo of the fireplace in the
Burrows parlor, and Tony had used it to design and build this one. The only difference between the two
was the mantelpiece. The one in the Burrow was discolored with decades of soot and candle drippings,
and was gouged with dozens of scratches and dents. This one was a smooth and polished slab of oak,
stained a dark, rich brown that glowed when the room was lit by candlelight. Harry couldnt wait to
show it to Ginny. He was going to put a love seat in front of it, just the right size for two people to
snuggle in.
A smaller casement window opened onto the High Street. To its left was a door into the bedroom which
had its own fireplace. And today the bed would be delivered. It was a surplus fourposter from the
Gryffindor tower, and was in mint condition; it had been ordered for the castle a year ago but had never
been used because so many Muggleborn students had been expelled or never showed up. The canopy
coverings and the hangings were a deep velvety red with threads of gold running through them.
Professor McGonagall was perfectly willing to sell it to Harry, especially after the thrifty Scotswitch
heard his offer. But Harry still had to put up with Argus Filchs scowls and muttering while Harry
levitated the unassembled bed out of its storage locker and into the Great Hall where it would be out of
the way until he brought it to the inn.
At the other end of the parlor was a door to the kitchen, a smallish affair with a stove, fireplace, sink,
some cupboards, and a small table. Harry intended to take most of his meals in the dining room
downstairs, but he anticipated late night snacks and late breakfasts on the weekends when he had
company.
He wandered around the flat, admiring Tonys detail work and testing the water supplies in the kitchen
and bathroom, which was located off the bedroom. He found himself looking out the picture window and
daydreaming about lazy weekends in the flat with Ginny. He began fingering the Bouquedelle inside
his shirt and was about to take it out, when a wizard in work clothes floated down past the window and
waved at him. It was Carlos, who had finished patching the roof and was descending with the help of
Wingardium leviosa from Tony, standing on the ground below.
Harry went downstairs and out back, where he spoke briefly to Tony about the arrival of the bed. Then
he walked back through the inn and out the front door, and proceeded down the High Street to the Three
Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta had been helping him organize the business end of things, showing him
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Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta had been helping him organize the business end of things, showing him
how to order supplies, plan meals, and all the other little details that had never occurred to him when he
got the inspiration to buy the inn. He found those things exceedingly tedious; he just wanted to wave his
wand and have all the food and drinks and settings appear on the tables. At first Rosmerta had been
sympathetic, but after a while, when Harrys mind kept wandering from the task, she began scolding
him, telling him that if he wanted to run a business he would have to do some work, even if it was
boring.
So Harry had tried to buckle down. He told himself that it was for Ginny, and for a while that was
sufficient motivation. But then his interest in all those annoying, grubby little details flagged again, and
Rosmerta yelled at him again, and Harry tried once again to apply himself. So it went for several weeks,
Harrys interest and energy rising and falling, until finally Rosmerta had told him, two weeks ago, to
leave her alone until he decided what he really wanted to do.
In desperation, Harry went to the only businesswizard he knew, George Weasley. He told him in
confidence about the inn and the problems he was having getting it set up, and George was only too
happy to help. First, he was eternally grateful beyond measure for Harrys gift of the Triwizard gold; and
second, he and Fred had kept their eyes on the old Zonkos shop, so anything that might attract
customers to Hogsmeade, like another decent inn, would make a joke shop there more likely to succeed.
George suspected that Harrys real motivation was to be close to Ginny, and that also pleased him.
Last week George had met Harry at the inn, and by the end of the morning Harry had acquired a large,
leatherbound ledger book from Scrivenshafts with neatly labeled columns for income and expenses; a
meal plan for the first month that the inn would be open; and a list of contacts in Diagon Alley and other
wizarding shopping districts who could sell him the supplies he needed. They ate lunch at the Three
Broomsticks, and when Harry showed Rosmerta the ledger book and the meal plan the results of his
being a good little wizard she relented and offered to help him find a barkeep and a cook.
So now Harry was on his way to meet the friend of one of Rosmertas waitresses who had worked in a
tavern, and also a local witch who was looking for work and was interested in becoming Harrys cook.
The Three Broomsticks was almost empty, and Harry saw Rosmerta sitting at a table in back with two
other witches. She waved him over and he greeted her and the other witch he knew, her waitress Harriet
Smythe.
Rosmerta cleared her throat. Harry, this is Turquoise Southeby, she indicated the third witch sitting
across the table. He turned to her; she was young, maybe two or three years older than himself, blond,
very pretty, and was wearing a frilly blouse that was cut a little too low around the neckline for the
occasion, in Harrys opinion. But then she took a deep breath, in and out, and smiled, and Harry had to
reconsider the neckline and its purpose.
Hello, he said, trying to be friendly despite his instinct, which was to tell her to leave him alone. Ive
seen you in Hogsmeade before, havent I?
Turquoise nodded enthusiastically. Yes, and of course Ive seen you, Harry. She giggled. Madam
Rosmerta told me youre looking for a cook at your inn. Its just beautiful, what youve turned it into. It
looks very inviting on the inside. She giggled again. I havent been in it, of course, she answered his
questioning look, but Ive peeked through the windows. She giggled once more. Everyone has. She
blinked several times and smiled again.
Well. Harry didnt know how to deal with the witch. Her demeanor was very familiar; he had gone
through many periods at Hogwarts, before he and Ginny started dating, when gaggles of girls would
stare, giggle, and whisper as he walked past in the hallways and even in the Gryffindor common room.
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stare, giggle, and whisper as he walked past in the hallways and even in the Gryffindor common room.
Their looks and behavior were identical to this witchs. At Hogwarts he could just ignore them, but this
one was more or less forcing herself on him; he did not want to be rude, but he wanted nothing to do
with her. She might be a good cook, but he wouldnt be able to stand her for five minutes, and he would
not consider for five seconds what an insult it would be to Ginny if he hired her.
Well, he said again and turned to Rosmerta for help. She saw immediately his look of dislike.
Turquoise, what Harrys saying is that he has a few more people he wants to talk to before he decides
who to hire. Hell be getting back to you, wont you, Harry?
Oh, sure. He turned back to Turquoise. Ill let you know, but itll be a few more weeks till I decide.
He tried to sound pleasant, but he wished she would just leave.
Turquoise looked at him for a moment, then she brightened. Thats great, Harry. I can wait. And thank
you for talking to me, I really enjoyed it. She stood and curtseyed, which looked strange in jeans that
were a size too small. At the lowest point of her dip she leaned forward and Harry couldnt help but
notice the large amount of cleavage on display. She glanced up at him and smiled sweetly, then nodded
to Rosmerta and left.
Im sorry about that, Rosmerta said to Harry after they watched Turquoise sway her tightly clad hips
out the door. I knew her parents. She worked in a hotel restaurant in York until this summer, and I
thought she might be able to help. Obviously not, at least not in the kitchen.
I remember seeing her on Hogsmeade weekends, Harry said. She is kind of noticeable, I will admit.
What does she do here?
Rosmerta frowned. Thats another reason I thought you might be interested in hiring her. Her parents
were killed during the first war when she was a couple of years old. They got caught in a crossfire.
Incidental noncombatant damage, the Ministry called it. More like Ministry stupidity, if you ask me.
She had older relatives who took her in, and they retired here a couple of years ago, but they died last
year and shes lived alone ever since.
Harry shook his head. Im sorry to hear that. Maybe if she wasnt so...
So obvious? Rosmerta finished for him.
Yeah, I guess. I still need a cook.
The whole business with the Southeby witch had been thoroughly unpleasant. He disliked the fawning
attention that strange females tried to pay him, and this one didnt act as though she would give it up so
easily. It made him a little angry, because he knew that it would upset Ginny if the witch started showing
up at the inn and behaving the way she did this morning. It was another aggravation that detracted from
his dream of a kind of home for Ginny and himself.
Well, Rosmerta glanced at Harriet who had sat silently through Turquoises interview. She turned to
Harry a little nervously. Harry, theres a friend of Harriets who needs a job. He worked at the Leaky
Cauldron for a while, and, well, you know him. Harriet and I told him there might be a... a problem, but
he wanted to see you, and... and, well, please, just hear him out.
Harry was puzzled as he listened to Rosmerta stammer through this speech and noticed Harriet, who he
knew fairly well by now, fidgeting in her seat. Who is it? he asked.
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knew fairly well by now, fidgeting in her seat. Who is it? he asked.
Rosmerta nodded to Harriet who stood and went to the kitchen door behind the bar. She went inside and
a moment later emerged with a lanky, palefaced wizard who was holding a grimy cap in his hands and
looking down at the floor. Harry did a doubletake when he recognized Stan Shunpike.
Stan raised his head and looked at Harry. He did not have the blank, Imperiused expression that Harry
had seen last year in the skies over the English countryside, but Stan was frightened. He quickly averted
his eyes, glanced at Harriet, then looked down again and started twisting his cap in his hands.
Harry rose and walked slowly toward him. There was no question in his mind that Stan had been under
Voldemorts control, and the Ministry must also be certain of that, otherwise Stan would not be standing
here. Harry put his hand on Stans arm. How are you, Stan, he said quietly. The Ministry let you go.
Stan nodded, and looked up. Arry, Im ssorry. I never would ave done that to you, but they put an
Unforgivable Curse on me. I I couldnt elp it, he said beseechingly.
Harry took Stans shoulders. You dont have to apologize to me. You didnt get hurt when I shot that
spell at you, did you?
Stan shook his head. No, but when you did it, they knew it was you and not one of those decoys, cause
you didnt kill me. Maybe you should have.
No, never, Harry said. I could tell you were Imperiused. I didnt want to hurt you.
Harry, Rosmerta called from the table, and Harry and Stan turned. There was something else. They
had Harriet. They told Stan they would kill her if he didnt cooperate.
Harry looked from Stan to Harriet. So, he realized, they had put Stan up there deliberately, once they
saw the decoys, using Stan as bait to get Harry to reveal himself. He gazed at Harriet, then touched the
Bouquedelle under his shirt. What would he have done if Voldemort had taken Ginny?
He took Stans arm again and led him to the table. Stan sat and looked at Harry earnestly. Arry, they
were using everyone who might ave some kind of connection to you. They knew you tried to get me
out of Azkaban so they figured we were mates. Then they found out that me and Harriet were... good
friends, and they.. they kept er locked up in a basement somewhere and wouldnt let me see er.
It was a nightmare for everyone, Harry said, but its over. Harriet put her arm around Stans shoulder
and leaned her head against him.
You worked at the Leaky Cauldron? Harry asked.
For three years, before I started on the Bus. Tomll tell you I was the best barkeep e ever had, too.
I dont need Toms word for it. If you have the experience, the job at the Hogs Head is yours. Harry
sat down and leaned back and smiled at Stan; half of his staffing problem was solved. Finally something
had gone smoothly, and he had a barkeep who he liked and who would be working with him for more
reasons than just a paycheck. Stan took Harriets hand. She beamed at him, and Harrys grin grew wider
when he saw the look between them.
His next task for the day was to get the bed to the inn. He thanked Rosmerta and bid her and Harriet
goodbye, then asked Stan if he wanted to come with him to the castle. Stan eagerly agreed; he had never
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goodbye, then asked Stan if he wanted to come with him to the castle. Stan eagerly agreed; he had never
been inside Hogwarts, although he had seen it from the gates many times when he worked on the Knight
Bus. He didnt speak as they went up the curving drive. He gazed at the soaring towers and pitched
roofs, at the hundreds of gargoyles perched everywhere. All the damage from last springs battle was
repaired, and the castle stood intact and solid against the blue sky. Harry saw the awe on Stans face, and
thought to himself that it was an impressive sight, one that he might have come to take for granted over
the years. He could remember his own openmouthed reaction when he had first set eyes on it.
They climbed the steps and came into the entrance hall. Stans head swivelled as he tried to take it all in.
I never saw anything like it, Arry, he finally said. I wish I could ave come ere to study, but it didnt
seem to work out, somehow. Harry didnt ask why it hadnt worked out. He knew there were funds
available for students whose families couldnt afford the tuition and expenses, so it probably meant that
Stan didnt come because of family problems, or maybe inability academic or magical. But it didnt
matter to him, and he wasnt about to pry into Stans personal life.
They walked up the stairs to the Headmistresss office. The portraits all turned to look as they passed,
and many greeted Harry. In front of the office Harry called out, Firth of Forth! and the gargoyles
sprang aside. Stan was a little shaky on the spiral staircase; he steadied himself but seemed glad when
they reached the top. Harry knocked on the massive door, and they entered.
Over the summer Professor McGonagall had finally begun to transform the office into a place that was
more to her own taste, and things were starting to take on a tartan motif; the furniture and rugs, the
crossed swords and shields decorating the walls, and many of the portraits aside from the former Heads
all conveyed a Scottish flavor to the room. Most of Professor Dumbledores tiny silver objects and
whistling devices were gone. In their places were many of the objects that Harry recognized from
Professor McGonagalls Transfiguration classroom: assorted tea cups, match boxes, goblets, and several
live cats sleeping on tables and chairs including a gray tabby stretched out in the middle of
McGonagalls large, inlaid desk. The cat was purring contentedly on top of a parchment that the
Headmistress was trying to extricate from underneath it as Harry and Stan came in. Harry also noticed
that the cabinet in which Professor Dumbledore had kept his Pensieve was still there, and he could see a
silvery glow around the edges of the cabinet doors. The Sorting Hat was still perched on top of a cabinet,
inside which lay the sword of Godric Gryffindor, its inlaid rubies sparkling in a ray of sunshine that was
streaming in a high window.
The Headmistress was sitting behind her desk smiling at them over her square glasses. Are you here to
get your bed, Mr. Potter? she greeted them.
Yes, Professor. And this is Stan Shunpike. Hes working for me at the inn now. I just hired him.
Welcome to Hogwarts, Mr. Shunpike. McGonagall extended her hand and Stan took it, then quickly let
go; he was totally overwhelmed by the office and its contents. McGonagall continued. Most of us were
very upset about your incarceration and your misadventures with Tom Riddle, and its good to see you
well. Youll be moving up north?
Stan nodded and visibly relaxed; McGonagalls friendliness was more impressive to him than the
imposing ramparts of the castle. Yes, maam. I understand it gets cold up here, too, he said without a
trace of his accent, and Harry smiled to himself when he heard Stan speak.
That it does, Mr. Shunpike, agreed the Headmistress. But from what I hear about your employers
work on the inn, you will be quite snug there. She smiled at him, then turned to Harry, The bed is
where you left it. Will you be needing an elf to help you?
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Thats what I was planning on, Harry replied. Kreacher is here, and he was going to handle all the
arrangements.
Well, you may find him a little preoccupied at the moment. It seems that one of the other houseelves
had a breakdown of some kind, and Kreacher has been caring for her since none of the others will.
Harry knew that it must be Winky, and he felt another twinge of annoyance; every day of the week was
always smooth with nothing but an occasional insect bite to annoy him. But every Wednesday brought a
fresh irritation, even if something good also happened, like finding Stan Shunpike. All he wanted was a
cosy place to bring Ginny, where they could be alone, but there always seemed to be an obstacle, or at
least an irritation.
He frowned and started to leave. But then he caught the expression on Stans face as he was taking a last
look around at the wonders of the room. He paused, and an idea came into his head. It was completely
unrelated to the problem at hand, but he knew that it would please Stan. He leaned across the reclining
cat and beckoned to Professor McGonagall. He whispered in her ear, and she nodded. It will be done by
the time you get there, she smiled. Good day to you, Mr. Shunpike, good luck with your new
employer. And I will be seeing you from time to time, Im sure, Harry.
Thats right, Harry nodded. Ill be taking private lessons from Professor Flitwick, so Ill be coming
up to the castle a couple of times a week.
I was thinking more of your friend in her seventh year, actually, McGonagall said drily. But I know
that Filius is looking forward to the lessons. Well, good day.
Harry and Stan left for the Great Hall where the bed was being stored. Stan gawked at the portraits, suits
of armor, and moving tapestries along the way. Harry paused at the doors to the Hall and grinned at
Stan. Look up at the ceiling, he told him.
He pushed the doors open and Stan gasped as he gazed upward at the enchanted ceiling which Harry had
asked Professor McGonagall to activate. Stan gaped at the deep blue sky and white clouds sailing across.
Thats beautiful, he murmured.
It shows the weather outside, Harry explained. No need even to look out the window. Very
convenient.
Stan nodded. Beautiful, he repeated.
Next to the door was a neat stack of bed parts: head and footboards, slats, sideboards, posts, box
spring, mattress, canopy, and hangings. Next to it stood Kreacher. As he bowed to Harry, he cast a
nervous glance toward the bed. Harry looked and saw, lying on the edge of the box spring which was
leaning against the wall, the rumpled form of another houseelf. He recognized Winky. She was asleep,
snoring loudly, and one arm dangled down the side of the box spring.
Hello, Kreacher. Harry frowned at the sleeping form. Is she... has she been drinking again?
Kreacher sighed. Kreacher must say yes, Harry Potter. Winky has found out that there will be two
nieces of her former master, Mr. Barty Crouch, starting this year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry. Kreacher is afraid that Winky still is wanting to be taken back by that family.
There was a loud hiccup, and Harry saw one of Winkys large, brown, bloodshot eyes staring bleakly at
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There was a loud hiccup, and Harry saw one of Winkys large, brown, bloodshot eyes staring bleakly at
him. His frown deepened. Winky, what are you doing up there?
She hiccuped again, then closed her eye and rolled over. She fell off the box spring with a shriek and
thudded to the floor. Harry, Kreacher, and Stan rushed over to her. They helped her sit, and Winky
looked at Harry hazily with her eyes crossed. He took out his wand and pointed it at the large, egg
shaped lump forming on the top of her head. He muttered the charm he had learned from Ginny for
healing bruises, hoping it would have the same effect on a lump on a houseelfs noggin.
Winky rubbed her eyes, then her head. When she took her hand away the lump was gone. She smiled at
Harry and hiccuped again. Thanks you, Parry Hotter, she mumbled. Harry Pro Plo Potter is too
kind to Winky, and she... Winkys eyes closed and she began snoring again, still in a sitting position.
She slowly sank down into a green heap, hiccuping between snores.
Kreacher sighed once more. Poor Winky. Kreacher does not know what will become of her.
But Harry had been thinking, and a wild idea had occurred to him. Kreacher, he said, she has to get
away from Hogwarts or shell just drink herself to death. Do you think... do you think she would come
work for me?
Winky snapped into a sitting position, her eyes wide open. They all jumped back, startled. She hiccuped
once, then pulled herself up next to the box spring until she was standing more or less erect. She swayed
forward, then backward, pushed herself away from the box spring, and fell against Harry. She peered up
at him, holding onto his jeans to keep herself upright. Winky will come with Sparry Spotter... Potter,
and be his houseelf, if Sp Spa if he wants her. She stood up straight and let go of him. Winky is
the best cook at Hogwarts! she shouted at the enchanted ceiling, then fell backwards into the box spring
and slid down to the floor. Her eyes closed and she began snoring again, but this time quietly; a tiny
smile was on her lips.
Harry stared at her for a moment, then looked at Stan; he was gaping at the houseelf with his mouth
hanging open. What do you think? Harry smiled at the look on Stans face. Shes really quite sane
when she isnt drinking. Do you think you could work with her?
Stan nodded, although he was still bemused. Sure, why not? I never had no problems with houseelfs
on the Bus. Good folk, if you ask me.
Harry smiled and felt very satisfied; this had worked out perfectly. He had gotten his staff for the inn
with almost no effort on his part. Maybe this would turn out to be a troublefree Wednesday, after all.
He turned to Kreacher. Let her sleep it off, and when she wakes up tell her to go to the inn and fix a
place for herself wherever she wants. Well set up something permanent for her next week when I come
with Ginny. Ill go talk to Professor McGonagall now. Im sure there wont be a problem with her
leaving the school.
Uh, arry. Stan had a somewhat concerned look. What about that Turquoise witch? I saw er before
you got there, and shes not gonna be appy about losing er job to a houseelf.
Harry frowned; he had completely forgotten about her. Well, thats her damn problem. I never
promised her anything. Stan looked skeptical, but said no more.
Then Kreacher cleared his throat, and Harry looked at him. Kreacher was peering up, looking very
serious. What is it? Harry asked.
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Does Harry Potter know what he has done? Kreacher asked solemnly. Winky is now Harry Potters
houseelf. That is why she sleeps so peacefully. Mr. Barty Crouchs family is no longer her master.
Harry Potter is now her master.
Harry turned around and stared at Winky. She was stretched out on her side, her hands tucked under her
cheek, and her breathing came in a slow, steady rhythm. She looked very peaceful. Harry swore. I dont
want another houseelf! I want a cook! Kreacher, tell her she is working for me. Shes not my house
elf!
Kreacher shook his head. No, Harry Potter, there was only one elf who worked for wizards and witches,
because he wanted to. Your friend Dobby. He spoke the name with evident distaste. Winky doesnt
want to work for someone, she wants to be your houseelf. She is your houseelf.
Harry looked up at the ceiling, then ran both hands through his hair and shook his head. Why is this
happening to me, he thought. Why cant it be simple? He looked at Winky and sighed and turned to Stan.
Well, we have an innelf now. Help Kreacher get the bed ready, if you dont mind. Hell show you
what to do, you wont have to lift anything. Ill go talk to McGonagall about this one. He looked at
Winky and sighed again. All I want is a bloody place for me and my girlfriend to live, he muttered as
he walked out the door. Stan and Kreacher could hear him grumbling as he walked away.
Kreacher piled the bed parts in a neat stack, first lifting up Winky and moving her onto one of the dining
tables, where she continued to sleep peacefully. Stan offered to help, but Kreacher ignored him. He
produced a large rug out of thin air and flung it over the bed, then sat down on the bench next to Winky.
Stan went over and sat next to him. Youve been Arrys mate for a long time, aincha? he asked. I
knew im since is third year ere. es quite a bloke, aint e?
Kreacher glanced at him, then looked away without answering.
You really elped im, they say, Stan continued. You ought to be right proud of that.
We is, Kreacher said. He looked up at Stan with narrowed eyes for a moment, then got up from the
table and went back to the pile of bed parts and put the slats, which had been leaning against the wall,
on top of the box spring. He stood there with his back to Stan for ten minutes until Harry returned.
Its all done, Harry announced. She can come as soon as she wants. He peered at the sleeping elf.
Tell her theres no rush, though, he said to Kreacher. Im not planning on opening up until right
before school starts.
He took out his wand. Ready? Get the doors. I dont want to try opening them while Im holding this
bed up in the air He flicked his wand and the bed pieces rose and the rug wrapped itself snugly around
them. Harry directed it with the wand and it moved toward the door, which Stan had opened, then it sped
across the entrance hall ahead of Kreacher and crashed loudly into the large oak doors. Whoops! called
Harry, running after it. This wand... It doesnt take much to get it to do anything. He grinned
sheepishly at Stan as Kreacher rushed to open the entrance doors.
The package of bed parts floated down the drive and through the gates, followed by Harry, Stan, and
Kreacher. The procession went out the tall castle gates, then down the lane and across the train tracks at
the station, and up the High Street through Hogsmeade. People stepped outside to watch them pass,
grinning at each other when they recognized what was underneath the rug. Harry ignored them, and
directed the bed around to the back door of the inn, then set it down on the grass. Well carry it up from
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directed the bed around to the back door of the inn, then set it down on the grass. Well carry it up from
here, he said. I dont want to take a chance on damaging anything.
They brought the parts up to the bedroom one at a time. When they had assembled it Harry stood back
and smiled to himself; he knew that Ginny would love it. He touched the Bouquedelle inside his shirt,
then glanced at Stan and Kreacher and blushed. Uh, okay guys, thanks a lot, he mumbled. Why dont
we go downstairs. You can start figuring out how you want to set things up, he said to Stan. He pushed
them out of the bedroom, and they trooped downstairs.
Loud clanking noises and shouts were coming from the kitchen. They looked in and saw Winky and
Tony Trostle, each holding onto the same cauldron, whose handle was banging against its side as the two
tried to wrestle it away from the other.
You is not the cook here! shouted Winky. Let Winky have it!
Tony looked up and saw Harry. She says you hired her, Harry, he said, holding off Winky who was
now trying to beat him with a ladle. I never saw her before.
Winky! Stop! Harry and Kreacher both called at the same time. I did hire her, Harry said to Tony,
laughing. Shes my houseelf now. Winky, this is my contractor, Tony. Let him finish setting up the
kitchen, then its all yours.
Winky yanked the ladle away, then went and sat in the open fireplace with her arms folded and a scowl
on her face directed at Tony. Harry patted Tony on the shoulder. Sorry, he said. Shes a little
temperamental, I guess. He turned to the others. Listen, Ive had a long day, and I need to get back
home. Ill be back next week with, uh, with Ginny, so... He blushed again, So... Ill see you then. Just
do whatever you feel like doing around here today, okay?
Stan, Kreacher, and also Winky looked at him uncertainly, but Harry was now anxious to get back to the
Burrow. At the moment he didnt want to think about what needed to happen at the inn, or whether it
would be ready to open on time, or anything else about it. It didnt take much for him to start missing
Ginny, and seeing the bed set up had done the trick. He hesitated when he saw his new employees
looking at him strangely. Well, just take the week off, then. Well worry about it later.
Okay, Arry, said Stan. Ill be moving up ere over the weekend. arriets gonna put me up in er
folks ouse until I get a place of my own.
Fine. Sounds great, Harry said. Stan nodded to Tony, then left through the dining room and was out
the front door and off down the High Street. Kreacher bowed to Harry, then vanished with a loud crack.
Winky lay down in the fireplace, curled up, and started snoring.
Tony picked up a tool belt that was lying on the counter. I have a couple of things to take care of in the
dining room, he said, and smiled at Harry. You go on home. Someones waiting for you.
Right, Harry grinned; his mind was already on dinner at the Burrow, Ginny, and wandering around the
countryside with her on a warm summers evening. He went out the back door and turned to take a final
look at his inn before he Disapparated.
He froze, staring at a spot above the lintel of the door he had just come out. His heart hammered and he
couldnt seem to get enough air in his lungs. Tony! he shouted, and drew his wand. Come here!
Tony appeared in the doorway, and for a moment stared at Harry. Then he took a step out the door and
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Tony appeared in the doorway, and for a moment stared at Harry. Then he took a step out the door and
turned to see what Harry was pointing his wand at. There, in black paint on the newly whitewashed wall,
was the image of a skull with a snake emerging from its mouth. The carpenter gasped. Harry, thats...
thats...
The Dark Mark, Harry said in a low voice between clenched teeth. Scourgify! The Mark vanished.
Back to index

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Chapter 11: Hearts And Lips


Author's Notes: Happy Birthday , Ginny!
Harry stared at the blank spot above the door and took several deep breaths, trying to control his anger
and the roil of emotions that he had not felt since Fenrir Greybacks supposed escape from Azkaban. He
had forgotten what it was like to feel the weight of foreboding, dread, uncertainty, fear. That was all
supposed to be done with, finished. Riddle was gone and all of his followers either dead themselves or in
prison. Kingsley Shacklebolt was Minister of Magic, trying to create a wizarding world where people felt
safe and free. Harry had just spent a month being totally happy for the first time in his life; he did not
want it to end and he had never thought it would.
He lowered his wand and tried to think. The Mark must have been put there after they had moved all the
bed parts upstairs, since either Stan, Kreacher, or he would have noticed it. The Mark itself, now that he
thought about it, was crude; it was drawn on the wall, not etched into the stone or the lintel or burned into
the door. It was high enough that it most likely was put there by magic, by someone using a wand, not by
being painted by hand. But then why didnt they conjure it into the air above the inn, as Death Eaters
always did during an attack on one of their enemies homes?
Tony was watching him, and Harry thought he saw both fear and anger on his face. You didnt hear
anything, did you? Harry asked. It must have been done while we were putting the bed together or
when we were in the kitchen with you.
Tony shook his head. I couldnt hear anything over the racket that elf was making. He suddenly
scowled. You dont think she was in on it?
No, thats impossible. Shes my houseelf now. If they do anything to harm their masters they have to
punish themselves afterward. But Winky has no reason to help a Death Eater, she... Harry fell silent. He
tapped his wand against his hand and looked up at the wall. I dont think it was a Death Eater, he said
slowly. Its not the way they show the Dark Mark. They want to make it visible so that it terrifies
everyone. This one might not have been noticed by anyone for a week if I hadnt come out back to
Disapparate.
Maybe it was just a kid having his idea of a joke, Tony scowled again. If thats it, a lot of people are
gonna be plenty ticked off. He went to the door and squatted down, examining the ground just in front
of it. I guess these could be from a ladder, he pointed to two scuff marks about eighteen inches apart.
Harry had not considered a ladder, but he didnt think it was particularly relevant. The more he thought
about it, the more he was convinced that this Mark was not the work of a real Death Eater, but of
someone who wanted to frighten him or maybe just ruin his day, and although he couldnt see why
anyone would want to, they had come close to doing it. He put his wand away. Maybe youre right,
maybe its just some stupid kid. Maybe you should mention it to Rosmerta and a few other people in the
village.
Yeah, I guess, Tony replied. It wont be good for business around here, though, and thatll make
some people unhappy. Well, he shrugged and glanced up at the wall where the Mark had been, too
bad. I know lots of other people who arent going to stand for this crap. He turned to Harry. Look,
Harry, dont you worry about this. If its not them, I mean Death Eaters, then well take care of it, Ill
take care of it. Go home and let Molly Weasley make dinner for you, and forget about it.
Harry nodded his appreciation. He felt a little better now that he was pretty certain that it was not Death
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Harry nodded his appreciation. He felt a little better now that he was pretty certain that it was not Death
Eaters, and Tonys reassurances made him also realize that he was not facing this whatever it was
alone. Some of the leaden weight inside him lifted. As he stepped back, his hand went to the
Bouquedelle. He spun on the spot and was back at the gate of the Burrow in a few heartbeats.
He paused with his hand on the latch. Ginny would be tearing out of the house in a moment she always
seemed to know when he was about to return, and went to the kitchen to wait but this time his mood
was different. He knew that there was a cloud on his face, and he didnt want her to see it. He could not
tell her about the Dark Mark without ruining her birthday surprise, but if he had discovered one thing
this summer, it was that neither one of them could hide feelings from the other. Just as she always knew
when he was coming home, she always knew when he had something on his mind, whether it was good
or bad.
He tried to put on a happy face it wasnt really that hard since he knew he was about to have Ginny in
his arms for a lengthy snog and went in the gate. The kitchen door burst open and Ginny came flying
across the yard, her arms outstretched, her hair streaming behind her, the blazing look on her face. She
launched herself onto him and wrapped her arms and legs around him. Harry was ready, since she had
done the same thing every time he returned from his weekly trips, and she had knocked him down only
the first time.
They kissed longer than they usually did, then they broke apart and both said at the same time, I missed
you, and they laughed together. It had become a ritual, and it was always followed by Harry spinning
around with Ginny and then carrying her to the kitchen door. This time, however, Ginny stopped him
after he had whirled her around. Wait! she said excitedly. I want to show you something. Let me
down.
Harry put her on the ground and saw that she was clutching a large, familiarlooking brown envelope
with the Hogwarts seal embossed on it. Its my Hogwarts letter, and look! She waved it in front of
Harrys face, then did a dance in a little circle. Im Quidditch captain!
Ginny! Thats so brilliant! Let me be the first to congratulate you. He took her back and they had their
second extended snog of the afternoon. After several minutes his hand slipped down her back and onto
her hip, and he pulled her closer. Then he stopped; he knew that something was wrong. Whats the
matter? he whispered into her ear.
Ginny looked down and rubbed her hands over the front of his shirt. Then she glanced back at the house.
Lets go for a walk, she said. She took his hand and led him back out the gate to their hiding place in
the field next to the lane. They sat in the little cleared space and she took a breath. The letter was the
good news, but theres some notsogood news. My parents found out about the birth control. Dad got
a notice at work, it was a list of all the magic Ive done this summer, including those. Mum showed it to
me this afternoon after Dad left. She giggled. I think she was impressed how many times... She turned
a deep crimson and Harry laughed.
Im sorry, he said, when she looked at him with a little frown. It isnt funny, I know. What did they
say? Did they ground you? Your birthdays so soon.
No, they didnt do anything. Especially after I brought up the fact that they did the same thing when
they were still at Hogwarts.
How do you know that?
I overheard a conversation between Tonks and Remus when they were visiting us before they got
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I overheard a conversation between Tonks and Remus when they were visiting us before they got
married. Remus was always pretty straightlaced, you know, and Tonks actually had to persuade him to
make love to her. One of the arguments she used was the fact that my parents had a great marriage even
though they did it before they were married.
Huh. So theres hope for us, Harry said, and Ginny smacked him. He grabbed her arm, so she swung
her other hand at him, laughing. He tried to kiss her but she turned her head.
Harry, wait, I feel funny about it. My Mums...
Oh. Harry sat back. But I do have my wand with me.
Please dont joke about it. Im sorry, I really am. She stood and he also got up.
Harry put his arms around her waist, then around her back and gave her a hug. Im sorry, I shouldnt
have been so pushy. Ginny sighed, and he kissed her gently.
Dinner that evening was a little on the quiet side. There were only four of them, Arthur, Molly, Ginny,
and Harry. The two adults cast frequent glances at Harry when they thought he wouldnt notice, and they
constantly asked him and Ginny to pass the potatoes or pour them some pumpkin juice; Ginny was
unnaturally untalkative, not looking up from her plate much; and Harry alternated between flashes of
embarrassed selfconsciousness and inexplicable, barely controllable urges to laugh during the lengthy
moments of silence. No one spoke about Ginnys list of illegal magic or, needless to say, her use of birth
control charms. Molly jumped up when they were finished and cleared the table, washed the dishes, and
put them away before anyone else had moved. She and Arthur retired to the parlor, and Ginny and Harry
went for a walk.
I think theyve decided to pretend nothing happened, Ginny speculated as they strolled down to Freds
grave. As of Tuesday they can officially ignore it. Parents are weird.
Harry chuckled. Wouldnt know. I guess thats something good about being an orphan.
Oh, thats not funny, Ginny protested. And weird isnt necessarily bad. Look at Luna and her dad.
They had reached the grave and were standing at the foot, looking at the headstone and the epitaph.
Ginny fell silent. They stood there for several minutes, then she turned away.
I cant forget him, she said as they walked back to the Burrow, but now when I look at his grave I get
the feeling that hes asking me to stop feeling sorry for him, cause Im really just feeling sorry for
myself.
I know what you mean, Harry replied, and Ginny suddenly looked at him.
Of course you do. Thats stupid of me. Ive had one brother die. Youve had... how many?
Dont talk like that. Its different for both of us. You knew him and lived with him for seventeen years.
I never lived that long with anyone who died. I guess I knew Dumbledore the best, but I felt closest to
Sirius, and I only knew him for a couple of years. And Dobby... He said no more, and looked down as
they walked.
Ginny took his hand and leaned her head on his shoulder. I just thought of something else thats weird.
Well never forget what Fred looks like because George is still here.
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Youre right, I hadnt thought of that.


They reached the Burrow and took two folding chairs that were leaning against the side of the house
one of them Arthurs Muggle lawn chair and set them up next to the garden. Dusk was falling and they
could hear the chirping of night insects and could see bats and swallows zooming across the darkening
sky. A light breeze came up.
Harry sighed, and Ginny glanced at him, but he didnt notice. He was lost in thought about the events of
the day: the Dark Mark and the news that Ginnys parents knew that they were having sex. The latter
created one advantage for him: it made it easier to hide his worries about the former. He didnt like
keeping it from her, but he had been working so hard to make it a perfect birthday present, and he
wanted it so badly to be perfect, that he didnt feel guilty at all about not telling her. He could tell Ron
and Hermione about it on Saturday when they returned from their holiday in France. And maybe by then
Tony would know who had done it. He could ask Ron to send an owl up to Hogsmeade without making
Ginny suspect anything.
The more he thought about it, the more the Dark Mark puzzled him. There just werent enough Death
Eaters out of jail to pose a danger, and all the most powerful ones were accounted for, dead or in
Azkaban. Everyone in Hogsmeade knew that what he was doing with the inn was for Ginny; he had not
kept it a secret, but now he wished he had. Was someone trying to get to him through Ginny? Thats
what he had feared after Dumbledore was killed. He thought about Stan and Harriet, and glanced at
Ginny.
She had been watching him, and when Harry looked her way she did not avert her eyes. Whats wrong?
she said. Somethings bothering you.
Oh, nothing, Harry tried to sound nonchalant, but he knew immediately that it wouldnt work. Ginny
sometimes scared him with her witchs intuition or whatever it was that allowed her to read his
emotions so accurately. She opened her mouth, but Harry spoke first, thinking that a partial admission of
the truth might let him keep the main secret. Okay, youre right, as usual, he smiled, but she did not
return it. Something happened today, but if I tell you itll ruin your surprise. Youll find out next
Wednesday. Theres no big problem.
It is something serious, Ginny frowned. Its bothering you.
Its bothering me, but I really want this to be a surprise. I dont want to ruin it. Look, Gin, youll really
love it, Im sure you will. Please, just wait another week. Please?
A small smile replaced her frown, and she leaned over and took his hand. Youre sweet. Okay, the
surprise is sounding better all the time. Ill wait. She squeezed his hand and sat back, but Harry didnt
let her go. He was pleased with himself for being able to convince her; he pulled her over into his lap for
an extended goodnight kiss.
Ginny did not raise the subject again, and for the next two days things at the Burrow remained quiet.
During the day, when Arthur was at work, Molly was pleasant with Harry, but she was also preoccupied
with preparations for Ginnys two parties, the one for the family on her birthday, and the big bash for
dozens of friends on the following Saturday. During the evening Arthur and Harry avoided each other
after dinner, but that had been the pattern all summer: Arthur relaxed with Molly in the parlor while
Harry and Ginny took walks around the countryside, usually coming home just before her parents went
to bed.
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On Saturday morning the rest of the family began to arrive. Bill and Fleur came early, Fleur unleashing a
torrent of intermixed French and English as she described their vacation on the Riviera with Ron and
Hermione. Later in the morning Percy Apparated and immediately sat down with his mother to get up to
speed on the arrangements for the big party. George, Ron, and Hermione all came together from Diagon
Alley; Ron and Hermione had gone to their flat first upon their return from abroad. Hermione looked
positively exotic in a tan that darkened her skin several shades, while Rons sunburn triggered a lecture
from Molly on the dangers of too much sun; she wondered out loud how she could have raised a wizard
who didnt know enough to use UnSun, or one of the other wellknown sunburn remedies that were
available at any wizarding apothecary. But then she admitted, with a look at Fleur, that she didnt
actually know if there were any such establishments in the less civilized parts of the world. She went to
a cabinet and pulled out her wellworn copies of Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions and
Pockss Home Health and Herbal Helper, and found a charm that cleared up the sunburn. Then she
extracted a promise from Ron after warning him not to roll his eyes that he would be more careful
next time.
Charlie was due in from Romania on Sunday, and nobody wanted Aunt Muriel to come before Tuesday.
Harry waited for an opportunity to talk to Ron and Hermione about the Dark Mark, but he never got a
chance. There was always someone nearby, or else Ginny was with them when Ron or Hermione
happened to leave the room, and Harry thought it would be too obvious to Ginny if he just followed after
them. He had to wait until late at night, when they all finally went to bed, for he and Ron to be alone in
the attic bedroom.
Ron had started grumbling when he first saw the pristine condition of his room, and he was still upset.
Most of it hadnt been touched since Kreacher had cleaned the house after Freds funeral, and Harry had
messed up only his side of the room, around his cot.
Remind me never to have a houseelf, Ron muttered as he tossed his shirt onto the bookcase. They
do more damage than theyre worth. Where did all my Quidditch Worlds go?
Harry was lying on his cot, leaning back against the pillows, watching Ron scatter the magazines that
Kreacher had so carefully organized on top of the dresser. I doubt that Hermione would want one,
either, he grinned.
Youre right. Ron lay down on his bed with the latest issue; the cover photo showed the Harpies
Seeker, Velda Vermeer, whizzing around a practice pitch chasing a Golden Snitch.
Something happened up in Hogsmeade, Harry said.
Uh, huh, Ron kept flipping pages while Harry described his day in the village, but as soon as Harry
mentioned the Dark Mark he put it down and stared at him. When Harry finished, Ron looked worried.
The obvious candidate is that Tangerine witch, she could have
Turquoise, her name is Turquoise.
Whatever. She sounds like a piece of work. She probably saw Winky in the kitchen and figured you had
hired her, and she got pissed off and made a crude attempt to scare you.
That makes some sense, Harry agreed, but then he thought about the interview with her. She was a
total airhead, though. I wonder if shes even heard of the Dark Mark.
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Who else could it be? Stan was with you the whole time, it couldnt be him.
It was not Stan, Harry declared firmly. He was Imperiused to begin with and the Ministry released
him. He didnt do it.
So maybe Tony was right, it was just a stupid prank by a drunken juvenile delinquent.
That reminds me. Can I use Pig to send Tony an owl tomorrow? I want to know if hes found out
anything before I go up there with Ginny.
The plan was for Harry to Apparate with Ginny early Wednesday morning, and then for Ron and
Hermione to join them later in the day. And with Stan and Winky now there, Harry figured it would be a
festive occasion. The thought that someone would ruin it for him for Ginny was continuing to anger
him. He was becoming more and more impatient to bring her there, and less and less tolerant of anyone
who got in his way.
If it is Death Eaters, Harry said, scowling at the window and the night outside, Im gonna have a talk
with Kingsley Shacklebolt. I thought they were all taken care of.
Uh, uh, Ron shook his head. What I heard at the Ministry before we left was that maybe a dozen are
still out there somewhere. No one knows if they left the country or went underground. They could be
anywhere.
Well, I dont want them in Hogsmeade.
Ron looked over at him. Itll be fine, mate. Well all be there. Theyd be idiots to try anything. Do you
want me to tell Hermione?
Harry grunted, blew out his candle, and turned over. Ron went back to his Quidditch magazine, but
Harry, in his restlessness, couldnt fall asleep. He finally gave up and sat up again. So what was France
like? he asked. Do all the women look like Fleur?
Ron grinned, put down the magazine, and launched into an enthusiastic description of the scenery on the
wizarding beaches of southern France. Harry listened for a while, but finally sleep overtook him, and he
dreamed of climbing ladders over doorways that led to sandy beaches covered with rows of four
posters lined up into the distance.
In the morning Harry got out of bed and went to Rons desk and wrote out a quick message for Tony
Trostle. He woke Ron up, who gave it to Pigwidgeon and the owl flapped off into the brightening
morning sky.
Now that Harry had spoken to Ron about the Dark Mark and knew that he would be receiving some
news about it directly from Tony, he felt more relaxed and spent the day with Ginny, Ron, and
Hermione. Ginny, for her part, saw that Harrys mind was eased, and she also relaxed. As the day of her
coming of age approached, her anticipation was starting to grow. On top of that, she suddenly realized
that here she was, by Harrys side, as he conversed with his best friends of seven years, and she was
being included. Even back in the days at the end of her fifth year, when she and Harry had first started
dating, she knew that he kept her in the dark about many things having to do with Dumbledore and
Voldemort. Now he told her everything except for the little problem he would reveal in three days, and
she understood that. Ron still occasionally talked to her like his little sister, which Ginny found irritating,
especially since Hermione was, as always, accepting her as an equal. But she enjoyed being included like
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especially since Hermione was, as always, accepting her as an equal. But she enjoyed being included like
this in parts of Harrys life that she had previously been excluded from.
They made plans to get together in London; they speculated about changes at the Ministry, and about the
Auror training program that Ron was signed up for; they talked about Hermiones research at the
Arithmancy Institute after she had finished an enthusiastic description of the art museums and
historical sites of southern France; and Harry, Ron and Ginny in turn bored Hermione with a long
discussion about Ginnys Quidditch captaincy and the Gryffindor teams prospects for the Cup this year.
No one mentioned Harrys future plans, though.
On Sunday Charlie arrived from Romania, sporting a new scar on his cheek. Horntail, he explained,
refusing to let Molly touch it or cut his hair again. Late in the afternoon Pigwidgeon returned with a
parchment tied to his leg. The family were sitting outside under the peach tree, and the owl landed in it.
Ron, Percy pointed, theres your owl with a message. Ron held up his hand and Pig flew down. Ron
took the parchment, then moved off a few yards and read it. Harry watched him, and Ginny watched
Harry. In a few minutes Ron was back, but did not look at Harry or say anything.
Harry didnt know what to do. If he asked about the owl, Ginny would instantly know that it was about
what had been worrying him. He fidgeted in his chair, until finally Ginny stood up. Harry looked at her
in alarm, thinking that she was going to ask Ron about the owl, but she turned to her mother. Mum, can
you show me that Quidditch robe pattern you were telling me about? Id like to get started on it after the
party.
Of course, dear, Molly jumped up, and the two of them went into the house.
Harry was positive that Ginny had done it deliberately, so that he could read the owl without worrying
about her. He made a mental note to worship her even more devoutly in the future, then turned to Ron,
who handed him the parchment. He, Ron, and Hermione walked off as Harry started reading. It was
indeed from Tony Trostle. It said,
Harry,
Ros and I talked to everyone who was in the village Wednesday afternoon, but no one saw
anything. Ros told me about your meeting with Turquoise Southeby, and I told her about the
elf, and we both thought wed better talk to Turquoise. We went to Turquoises house, and
she told us that she had been in the post office all afternoon after she left you at the Three
Broomsticks. Shes been working there a few hours a week since she came back from down
south. We saw Rathbone Rastlebuck, the postmaster, and he confirmed it.
We dont have any other ideas. Some people are asking questions about Stan Shunpike, but
he was with you the whole time, as I understand it, so hes out as a suspect.
I still think it was kids. Carlos and a couple of the crew volunteered to keep an eye on the
inn, so I don think anything else will happen.
So dont worry, Harry. Have a good time at Miss Weasleys party, and Ill see you on
Wednesday. Your little sofa was delivered on Friday, and I put it in front of the fireplace like
you wanted.
Regards, Tony
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Hermione read over Harrys shoulder and frowned. Its worrisome, but I agree with Ron that it wasnt a
Death Eater. Why would they want to draw attention to themselves? It would just make the Ministry
look for them even harder.
But if no one in Hogsmeade did it, then who did? Ron asked.
Obviously, whoever did it left.
But, Harry put in, if it was someone who didnt live there, they would have been noticed. When I was
in the Three Broomsticks in the morning it was almost empty. No one was around. A stranger would
have been obvious.
Hermione shook her head. They could have been hiding, or using magic to disguise themselves.
Polyjuice Potion? Harry said skeptically. That seems like a lot of trouble to go to.
Well... Hermione thought for a moment. It does sound too sophisticated, especially when you
consider how crude the Mark was.
Ill go back to what Tony says, Ron declared. It was some drunken git who lives in the village and
thought he was being funny. And there wasnt that much time between Harrys going inside with the bed
and then going back outside to Disapparate. So it wasnt like whoever did it had to account for hours of
his time.
Good thinking, Ron! said Hermione he grinned and tapped his temple and Tonys right about not
letting it bother you, Harry. Lots of people will be around, just relax and have a good time.
It sounded like good advice, Harry thought as they walked back to the peach tree. It felt nice that so
many others wanted him and Ginny to feel safe there, but part of the problem was that he didnt want
lots of people around. He wanted to be alone with Ginny. In spite of all the intimacy that they had shared
this summer, none of it had happened in a place they could call their own or just relax in for as long as
they wanted. There had been some late night snogs in the parlor, but Ginny was very clear that, inside
the house, things could only go so far and no farther. And Harry agreed; he knew that both of them
would be exceedingly uncomfortable it if they ever ended up sitting and conversing with Ginnys parents
in the same room in which they had made love.
Outdoors was different, and it was in Ginnys hiding places that they had become so close and the
sometimes eery feeling of being inside each others mind had started to happen. Being with Ginny that
way, under the sky, or enclosed in a bower of trees, or underneath an archway of a hedgerow, was
indescribably glorious. But it was obviously not an option when the weather got cooler or when it rained.
Beyond that, the moments always ended too soon. Ginny didnt want to worry her parents about where
they were or if something had happened to them, so there was always the knowledge that they had to get
back to the Burrow for dinner or for bedtime.
No, Harry wanted a place of their own, a safe and homey place for his Ginny, where they were free to do
whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, to live their lives together. And no matter how reassuring
his friends were, no matter how logical their arguments were, he could not shake the feeling that the
Dark Mark on the wall was a curse that would keep him from having the happiness he craved.
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The back door of the Burrow opened. Ginny came out carrying a tray of cinnamon buns and tea, and as
she walked toward the family sitting under the peach tree, she smiled at Harry the whole time she was
approaching....
Monday was hot and cloudless, and preparations for the two parties continued. The Burrow bustled with
activity: food being prepared, decorations put up, the floors scrubbed and the furniture dusted. Ginnys
brothers would not let her help with anything. George spent several hours with her by Freds grave,
talking quietly. Harry at first felt somewhat ignored, but as he was drawn into the party activities by the
rest of the family, even by Molly and Arthur, his feeling quickly passed. Ginnys parents seemed relaxed
with him again, as though now that Ginnys adulthood was only hours away, the adult part of her
relationship with Harry had become acceptable.
He helped Charlie, Ron, Fleur, and Hermione decorate the entire house in red and gold magical
decorations: streamers, bunting, lanterns, balloons, and paper cutouts. The day passed quickly and when
Ginny kissed him goodnight near the gate late in the evening, she couldnt contain her excitement.
I cant believe this is finally happening, she laughed. Its just so wonderful to have everyone here,
and Bill and Ron have Fleur and Hermione, and I have you...
They said goodnight again on the landing in front of Ginnys room, then Harry went up to the attic where
Ron was already in bed. He changed into his pajamas and fell asleep immediately.
The night was very quiet. Ron and Harry slept soundly, and they did not awaken or even stir when,
shortly after midnight, the door slowly opened and an arm in a frilly nightgown poked inside. The wand
in the hand waved, but they did not hear the whispered Accio wands, that caused their wands to rise
from their night stands and float to the door, where the charmers other hand grabbed them in midair.
And after the door closed, they did not hear the sucking noise that followed another whispered charm,
Colloportis longeva. After that, the night became even quieter and Harry and Ron slept peacefully.
August the eleventh dawned clear again. Birds in the forest were the first to awaken, but soon after, as
the sun was climbing above the horizon, Ginny and George appeared around the side of the house and
gazed up at the attic window. Ginny looked at George who grinned and nodded.
Inside their room, Harry and Ron were still sound asleep, but they both jumped up when the window
banged open. Ron was the first to reach it. Looking down, he saw his sister and brother standing on the
ground thirty feet below, Ginny with her wand pointing directly at him. Wake up, sleepies! she cried.
Its my birthday!
Ron sprang back and collided with Harry who had come to the window behind him; they both crashed to
the floor in a heap. Shes gonna do something! Ron shouted. Lets get out of here! He untangled
himself from Harry and ran to the door and yanked on the handle, but the door did not budge. Were
locked in! Wheres my wand? He scrambled to his night stand and looked around frantically. She took
them! Were trapped!
Harry watched Ron ricocheting around the room, then turned back to the window, but at that moment
there was a loud whoosh, and he ducked as dozens, then hundreds of small objects streamed into the
room through the open window. Some were red and some were green. Harry retreated, knocking into
Ron again, and they both fell onto his bed. The flying objects were filling the room, and they began
circling the two of them. But as they whirled around, they separated themselves; the red ones surrounded
Harry while the green ones whirled around Ron. They formed little tornados, spinning and fluttering
around both of them.
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around both of them.


Harry reached up and snatched one of the red objects. It was soft and smooth; he looked closer, and saw
that it was a tiny heartshaped silk pillow. He stood and began walking slowly to the window; the red
tornado stayed with him. As he passed Ron, he saw that Rons little hurricane was made up of hundreds
of paper lips, all puckering furiously. He reached the window, still surrounded by red hearts, and leaned
out. I surrender! he called. How do I get out of here?
Ginny raised her wand. Wingardium leviosa! she called, and Harry rose out of the window and into
the air, then floated gently to the ground and landed gracefully next to Ginny. She waved her wand and
the flying hearts disappeared, except for the one Harry was holding in his hand.
He grinned at her. Enjoying your seventeenth birthday, are you?
Immensely, she grinned back.
There was a shout from the attic window. Oi! Witch! Get me out of here, now!
Oh, dear, tisked Ginny, Rons still up there. Cant you get down? she shouted. A string of swear
words issued from the cloud of lips.
I dont think thats the correct response, Ron, George called up. Remember, youre dealing with an
adult now.
Whats the magic word? Ginny shouted.
Please! Dammit! Ron waved his arms furiously and futilely at the lips. It only made them swirl faster,
and now, every few seconds, one would zoom in and attach itself to Rons mouth. As soon as he ripped
it away, another one took its place.
Okay, here goes! Ginny called. She pointed her wand again and, with another Wingardium leviosa,
Ron floated out the window and descended toward them. By the time he touched down his face was
covered with green lips, all making smacking noises as he ripped them off.
What the bloody hell are you doing? Ron demanded; his face was bright scarlet underneath the green.
Get rid of them! Okay, please get rid of them!
Sure, she answered cheerfully, cause now you know how much snogging I did after every time you
yelled at me for doing it.
Ron laughed despite himself, but then began flailing at his face again as a dozen paper lips took
advantage of his open mouth and zeroed in on it. Im sorry! he spluttered. Ill never do it again, I
promith. One of the enchanted lips attached itself to his tongue, and he spit it out.
By now the entire family, including Arthur and Molly, were outside, gathered in an highly entertained
circle around George, Ginny, and her victims, both of whom were still in their pajamas. Ginnys wand
flicked and the lips vanished, except for one that was kissing the top of Rons head; he swatted and
caught it, and then it, too disappeared. Ginny tossed Ron his wand and handed Harry his, as everyone
applauded. She curtseyed and turned to Harry. Do you still have my heart?
Harry held it up. Can I keep it?
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Forever, she giggled.


Come on, Harry, George put his hand on Harrys shoulder. You should be the first one to say happy
birthday.
Harry looked around, everyone was watching. Then he took Ginnys shoulders and she fixed him with
her blazing look. He told himself to ignore two parents, five brothers, one sisterinlaw, and one
girlfriend, and said loudly, Happy birthday, Ginny, and he kissed her.
Ginnys eyes went briefly to her father, who was smiling with the rest. When Harry finally let her go
to another round of applause she called, Well, Dad, I guess there are a few people at the Ministry with
nothing to do now. He and Molly laughed, as the others looked puzzled. Ill tell you all later, Ginny
said to them, much later.
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Chapter 12: Birthday Presents


Author's Notes: Ginny is about to acquire some significant birthday loot. I had fun coming up with all
her presents, even if some of them are not really germane to the plot. She had chocolate cake, by the
way.
10/03/07 - corrected some typos.
After breakfast Percy and Charlie fetched Aunt Muriel, and she took up where she had left off at Freds
funeral. She cornered Harry and Ginny who were sitting together in the parlor looking at an album of
family birthday photos, going back to Bills first. They looked up when Muriel came in, followed by
Charlie who was trying unsuccessfully to steer her past them and out into the garden.
Well, Ginevra, she called loudly, thats quite a dress. Do you really think that Mr. Potter needs the
additional stimulation?
Ginny was wearing a new dress from Madame Malkins that she had picked out from a catalog. It was a
very short, lightweight summer dress, creamy white with red roses printed around the hem; it was
gathered with elastic under the bust, had a plunging neckline, and spaghetti straps. Her mother had
managed not to register an opinion aside from raised eyebrows. Her father had stared at it with
objections on the tip of his tongue, but Molly had quickly started talking about the weather.
Harry removed his arm from around Ginnys shoulders and shifted on the sofa so that their thighs were
not plastered together. Ginny moved her own leg, however, to keep it firmly against his. How are you,
Aunt Muriel? she smiled. Im so glad you could come to my party.
So am I. You only come of age once, after all. My own was ninety years ago, if you can believe it, and
I certainly wasnt wearing a dress like that. She appraised Ginny and her eyes traveled the short distance
from hemline to neckline. Mores the pity, she finally muttered. Charles, she turned with an annoyed
look as he tugged on her elbow, what is the matter? Is there something I can do for you? Perhaps a
haircut?
Charlie mouthed an apology to Ginny and finally managed to get Muriel moving toward the door.
Were all set up outside, and the weathers perfectly beautiful, he said in an attempt to get her out of
the room.
Yes, Im aware of that, she said testily. Im not senile, you know.
Ginny reached over and put Harrys arm back around her shoulder as soon as the door closed behind
Muriel and Charlie. Thats the first time since I was four that she liked what I was wearing.
It is stimulating, Harry noted and put his hand on her knee. He started moving it up her leg and Ginny
slapped it.
Why do men always grope? she mused.
What do you mean, men? Who else groped you?
So you admit that men grope?
I admit that I do, especially when Im stimulated.
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I admit that I do, especially when Im stimulated.


Youre always stimulated.
The party festivities began in earnest after lunch. When the cake and ice cream had been eaten and the
dishes cleared, everyone moved their chairs into a circle; Harry sat down next to Ginny. George stood in
the center and all fell silent.
Its time for the presents, everyone, he announced. But first I want to say something. This is the
seventeenth birthday of my sister, Ginny. She was our baby for years, which she hated to be called.
Well, no more calling her baby I mean. Shes now a woman, and a brilliant, beautiful woman. There
is no one else I would have wanted as a sister, and shes the best thing that ever happened to this family.
When someone finally takes her he gave Harry a thumbs up, and there were a few chuckles and Fleur
said something in French while Harry tried to sink into the earth hell have to take all of us, because
Ginny comes with the Weasleys and she always will.
There were cheers, and Ginny jumped up and hugged and kissed him. Harry was trying to hide his
embarrassment by taking a swig of butterbeer, but unfortunately, Charlie clapped him on the back at that
moment and the resulting mess on the front of his shirt only made it worse.
Okay! George called while Molly Scourgified Harry, enough of my eloquence. Lets do presents. He
waved his wand and with a loud bang a small table appeared in front of him, covered with a gold cloth.
The first one is from Harry Potter, and given his immense wealth, especially compared to the rest of us,
it had better be good.
Wait, said Ginny, hes giving me his present tomorrow.
Correct and incorrect, George answered. Tomorrow morning you and he will SideAlong Apparate
to a mystery location that only he and thousands of others know about. You, Ginny, in the entire
Wizarding world, are the only one who doesnt know where it is. But no matter. Harry wants to give you
a present today, so unless you want him to give it to me instead
Forget it! said Harry, Its for Ginny.
Have it your way, then, and George waved his wand again. With another bang! a small box wrapped in
red paper and bound with silver ribbon appeared on the gold cloth. Harry took it to Ginny and handed it
to her.
I wanted to give you something today, he said. Happy birthday.
She slowly untied the ribbon and pulled the paper off, glancing at him, happily relishing the anticipation.
Inside the wrapping was a dark red velvet box with a hinged cover. She opened it and her mouth
dropped when she saw what was inside; she sucked in her breath with a drawn out Oh!
She held up a heartshaped gold locket on a linked chain. Three small rubies were embedded in the
locket, one in each lobe of the heart and one at the bottom. Harry pointed to them. These two are you
and me, and this one is us.
Harry, its beautiful. Thank you so much.
Open it.
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She opened the locket with her thumbnail, and grinned at him. Your picture. She passed the locket
around, and everyone oohed and aahed.
Cest magnifique! Fleur exclaimed. Arry, it is a lovely gift. Ginny put it around her neck, then
grabbed Harry and snogged him; she wouldnt let him go until all of her brothers started clearing their
throats in unison.
Okay, George continued,Ginny got a present and Harry got a present. Next, we have a gift from my
baby brother and his lovely girlfriend. Ron scowled. Just joking, just joking, George said. Rons
already had his comeuppance for the day. Any hickies left from this morning?
Not from this morning, Ron said, and Hermione turned pink.
George waved his wand again; another present appeared on the table. It was a small, flat box wrapped in
dark green paper with a golden talon embossed on it. Ginny ripped the paper off and opened the
box.Yes! she exulted, and punched the air with her fist. She showed the gift to Harry: a tenyear
season pass for two to all Holyhead Harpies home matches. She gave Ron and Hermione each a wet kiss
on their cheeks, and sat back down and grinned at Harry.
Next, and probably most verbosely, we have George waved his wand and produced another loud
bang and gift another season pass from Percy. No, just kidding, it only looks like one. Percys gift
was in a box like the one from Ron and Hermione, but the paper was black and the symbol embossed on
it was that of the Ministry of Magic. When Ginny opened it she bounced out of her seat and ran over and
hugged and kissed Percy.
This is great! she exclaimed. Look, she showed it to Harry, free Apparition lessons from Wilkie
Twycross himself, plus Percy will fill out all twentysix of the forms I need for the license! Thanks!
She grinned at Percy who smiled appreciatively. Aunt Muriel, sitting next to him, patted his knee.
Amazing, George shook his head. Percy had nothing to say. Were all grateful, my silent brother.
The next present, appearing with the usual bang! was from Bill and Fleur, and it was wrapped in magical
silver paper with points of gold on it that glowed in the sunlight. Ginny opened the box; she stared at its
contents, then slowly held up a silvercolored necklace. A single thin strand of the silvery material held
the clasp, but the front of it was about an inch wide, made up of silverwhite filigrees of the same
metal, braided and woven together. A single diamond was embedded in the center of the woven strands.
It is a Veela necklace, Fleur said into the silence; the beauty of the necklace seemed to hold everyone
in a spell. It is made from a very ancient metal zat can no longer be found in ze eart. All ze mines are
lost. I do not know ow old zis one is, Ginny, but maybe tousands of years. It is very special jewelry for
a very special person.
Its so light, Ginny said softly. Ive never seen anything so beautiful. See how light it is. She handed
it to Harry. It was featherlight, yet the strands seemed to be hard and very strong.
Lets see what it looks like, he said. He undid the clasp and put it around Ginnys neck; she lifted her
hair and he hooked it back together. The silver strands and the diamond lay on her bosom, and when she
looked up at Harry, he thought he saw sparkles of light deep in her eyes. He stared into them until Fleur
laughed. Zat is Veela magic, Arry. You will never be able to resist it!
Dont want to, he said. Ginny went to Bill and Fleur and kissed them both. Fleur whispered something
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Dont want to, he said. Ginny went to Bill and Fleur and kissed them both. Fleur whispered something
in Ginnys ear, and she blushed. When she got back to her seat everyone gazed at her until self
consciousness overcame her. Go on, George, she said. Whos next?
George jumped as though coming out of a trance. Right. Um, lets see. Okay. Charlie! He flourished
his wand and a larger box appeared with a bang. It was wrapped in scarlet paper bedecked with fire
breathing dragons. Ginny ripped open the box and took out a black dragonhide jacket. She put it on
and pranced around the circle, letting everyone admire it and caress the supple leather. She stopped in
front of Charlie and gave him a hug and a kiss.
Aunt Muriel stood, and held up her hand to stop George. I dont need your blabber or your circus
tricks, she declared. You already know what my gift to my niece is. She walked over to Ginny and
handed her an unwrapped, tattered velvet box; she took the top off and lifted out her tiara and placed in
on Ginnys brow. Your garrulous brother said one truthful thing, Ginevra. You are more than special to
your family. I give you this tiara, which has come down from my ancestors, and you shall pass it on to
one of your daughters or granddaughters. Wear it with pride, and remember that you imbibe it with
beauty, not the other way around.
Thank you, Aunt Muriel, Ginny whispered; only Muriel and Harry could hear her. I promise you I
will do that.
Aunt Muriel bowed her head to Ginny and walked back to her seat, her carriage straight and stiff. She sat
down and glared at Percy when he patted her knee.
Okay, George continued. The older generation has been heard from
Watch it, Mr. Weasley! Muriel snapped. My wand still works just as well as anyones.
the mature generation, as I was saying. Next, and almost last, is Ginnys gift from Mum and Dad. A
bang! and a long, thin package appeared. Ginny grinned at Harry, then tore the paper off, opened the
box, and everyone cheered as she removed a brand new Firebolt 21, the latest, fastest, and smoothest
broomstick on the market. Ginny gave a shout and ran to her father and threw her arms around him, then
did the same to her mother. She went running around the garden, holding the broom over her head and
whooping, as everyone else laughed and shouted. She returned breathlessly to her seat and hugged Harry.
He examined her broom; it was clearly a more advanced model than his own, lost Firebolt. Wow, this is
brilliant! he said admiringly. Youll fly circles around everyone at school.
Arthur spoke. We heard from Minerva that you would be named captain, and we couldnt let you go
back with of one those old sticks from the broom shed. How long have you used them?
I dont know, Dad, Ginny answered. When was I born?
Everyone laughed. They arent quite that old, Arthur said, but almost.
And now, George flourished his wand, we come to the final and best gift, if I dont say so myself
mine. This time the package appeared without sound effects; it was large, about two feet high and
cylindrical. It was standing on end, and noises could be heard coming from inside it. Ginny unwrapped
it; a large, russetcolored barn owl blinked at her and hooted loudly from inside its cage. Ginny jumped
into Georges arms and he spun her around. Her name is Bailey, and now you have no excuse not to
write, he said in a high voice that was a perfect imitation of their mothers.
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Bailey, Ginny crooned, and opened the cage. The owl hopped out onto the table. Ginny leaned closer
and received a gentle peck on her cheek. Bailey turned her head completely around and peered at
everyone, then ruffled her feathers and flapped up on top of the cage. She sat there watching Ginny.
George raised his hand again. Folks, that concludes the acquisitive portion of our party. But before you
all go take your naps, Ginny has one more thing to say. Miss Weasley. He bowed and Ginny walked to
the center of the circle and looked around and smiled.
This was the greatest party Ive had in all my long, seventeen years, she said. You are the best family
in the world. Everything you gave me is perfect, I love it all. I want to do one more thing, though. I want
us all to go tell Fred how beautiful things are and how much he would have loved it.
She and George led the way to the oak tree; Ginny was wearing her tiara and the necklace and locket
around her neck. At the grave she conjured a bouquet of roses and placed it against the headstone. Molly
and Fleur started to weep, and they all held hands and stood in silence for a long time.
Late in the evening, after dinner and when most of the house had gone to bed, Harry and Ginny stood in
the darkness by the front gate. What a day, Ginny sighed. I wonder how mum and dad could afford
that broomstick. It must have cost a month of his salary.
You deserve it, said Harry, as he stroked her hair. But theres something else I want to show you. I
didnt want anyone but you to see it. He took the locket and, leaving the chain around her neck, put it
on his hand. Open it again.
She did so. She could barely make out the picture of Harry grinning at her, but from its eyes came two
pinpoints of green light like little emeralds gleaming in the darkness. Ginny looked up and her hands
began to shake. What..?
Ever since you told me that you saw my eyes when I was lying on the ground in front of Riddle, I knew
I wanted to get this made and give it to you.
Ginnys whole body trembled. In the night that seemed so long ago on the lawn outside the castle, a
night of so much death, she had stood over Elizabeth Derbys body and there had been the vision of
those two green points of light. Then that other moment had come, a fulcrum of her life: the instant when
she saw Harrys eyes open as he lay on the ground, and the fear that had been impossible to bear had
vanished in a blink of green. The world had been stopped, and then it had started again. There had been
nothing but the certainty of death, and then his eyes had brought the certainty of life.
Ginny bent over and looked at the green sparks in the locket again. She closed it, and without looking at
Harry, took his hand and led him down the lane.
Her sudden need was so great, and her desire so overwhelming, that she had to fight herself to keep from
dragging him down in the middle of the road. She found the hidden gap in the hedge, and in the cleared
space in the middle of the field, shaking almost violently, she gave him every atom of her body and her
soul, and he took it. It was beyond passion, it possessed them both and they became something different,
something that was not two separate people, but was more than one.
Afterward they lay in each others arms, gasping, wondering what had happened. They didnt speak,
since words were useless for feelings that they hadnt known even existed. They dressed in silence and
went back to the house that was now dark and still, and on the landing outside Ginnys room they parted
wordlessly, both of them still unable to verbalize anything about the past hour.
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wordlessly, both of them still unable to verbalize anything about the past hour.
It was still dark when Ginny awoke the next morning. She had slept very soundly, but as she started to
drift up out of sleep she felt as if something was pulling her toward wakefulness, something that she
wanted badly. As soon as she opened her eyes she sat up, and she knew why she was so instantly,
completely awake. Today was the day that she would go with Harry, and she was free, an adult witch, a
woman. She put her hand to her chest and felt the locket.
The memory of last night came back like a clap of thunder, and she fell back on her pillow and stared at
the darkness. The thing that had happened to them was like a mountain compared to the anthill of turning
seventeen. She didnt understand it and she didnt know who she could ask about it. Maybe Hermione,
maybe Fleur; she wished that Tonks was still alive. The experience was stuck in her, implanted,
cemented. She knew that it would never leave her. She took the locket from inside her nightgown and
felt the inlaid rubies and opened it. The green lights shone in the dark. She closed it and tucked it back
inside; she was going to wear it under her clothes, next to her skin. She wanted to be constantly
reminded of it, of the picture inside and the two green sparks of light and the clearing in the middle of
the field.
There was a rustling noise near the window. Ginny lit a candle and saw two yellow eyes blinking at her.
She jumped out of bed and went to Baileys cage. She opened it and the owl hopped out onto Ginnys
outstretched forearm and gave her elbow a tickling peck. Ginny brought her arm up to her face and
Bailey nibbled her lower lip. Youre beautiful, Bailey. Do you want to hunt now? Ill be gone all day,
so you can stay out as long as you want. She laughed out loud. We both can. She carried Bailey to the
open window and watched her for the few seconds she could see the winged form as it flew into the
darkness.
There was a soft knock on the door. Ginny? came Harrys loud whisper. Are you up?
Ginny ran to the door and threw it open. Harry looked her up and down; he was already dressed. Im
ready... He suddenly seemed to have lost his train of thought.
Yes, but for what? Ginny laughed at his expression. Never mind, Ill be down in a minute. She
quickly closed the door before he could say anything, and leaned her back against it, listening. She heard
a deep, loud sigh, then, after a few moments, footsteps descending the stairs.
She dressed as fast as she could, with her mind racing just as fast. This was the day, the day she had
been waiting for since she had come home from Hogwarts. She had been anticipating it for so long, she
was almost afraid it would be gone before she experienced it. She knew that Harrys surprise had
something to do with his living in Hogsmeade, but she had no clue about anything else. It couldnt be
something as mundane as a flat over one of the shops on the High Street; that would be too boring. It had
to be something special.
She finished dressing and ran downstairs. Harry was at the table and her mum at the stove. Ginny
smelled her favorite breakfast: hot cakes smothered in strawberries topped with whipped cream, with
sausages, melon slices, and fresh coffee.
Morning, Mum. Hi, sweetie, she kissed Harrys cheek and sat next to him. Molly put their piledup
plates in front of them and sat down across the table.
Now youll be careful, wont you? she looked from one to the other. I know youve done lots of
Apparating, Harry, so I know you will be careful. Just remember, destination, determination, delibera
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We know, Mum, Ginny mumbled through a mouthful of hot cakes. Harry Apparated all over the
countryside last year. Well be fine.
Well, yes dear. I know that and Im sure Harry will be careful, but you didnt get a chance to practice at
school, so just be sure you hold on tightly.
Mum! Ginny put her fork down. Wewillbefine.
Molly sat back, then opened her mouth and closed it. She looked from Ginny to Harry and back.
Harry smiled. Really, Mrs. Weasley, itll be okay. All the time I was Apparating last year I was always
looking over my shoulder for Death Eaters. Itll be a lot easier now, so dont worry.
She gazed at him, and Ginny glanced at him, too. He looked a little uncomfortable at first under her
mums eye, but he smiled again. Ill take care of Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, I promise.
Molly blinked. I know you will, Harry. I think youll take better care of her than anyone ever did. She
got up and turned her back, but Ginny had seen the tears in her eyes.
Dawn broke, and people drifted downstairs. Hermione came down just behind Arthur, and soon Ron
appeared, yawning and scratching his back where the worst of his sunburn was peeling. Then Fleur
tripped brightly into the kitchen, flouncing her long silver hair just for the pleasure of it, and Ginny
wondered if Fleurs cheerfulness so early in the morning ever annoyed Bill.
As soon as there was enough light, Harry and Ginny went outside; both were wearing light traveling
cloaks against the possibility of weather. Molly hugged them both Ginny was sure it was the first one
for Harry since the notice from the Ministry had come and Ron told them that he and Hermione would
meet them in time for dinner. Then Ginnys father gave her a kiss and took Harrys hand in both of his.
Have a good time, son, he said, then turned and went back inside. Ginny took Harrys left elbow, but
watched her dad walk back to the house.
Harry put his right hand on Ginnys right, the one holding his arm. Ready? he asked. Ginny swallowed
and nodded vigorously. It was about to happen; thoughts of her parents vanished and she had to restrain
herself from bouncing up and down on her feet. She tightened her grip, and felt Harry turn, then a
crushing sensation pressed the air out of her lungs. She felt herself whirling with him, and she
concentrated on the elbow in her grip, but Harrys hand was also holding her tightly. Then the crushing
feeling was gone and they were standing in a street in front of a building. It was cooler and slightly
darker than it had been at the Burrow. She looked around and recognized Hogsmeade, but as she
dropped Harrys arm, she was momentarily disoriented; the building in front of them was strange, and
she did not recognize it.
She looked at Harry; he was grinning, and she had never seen his green eyes sparkle like they were now.
He made a sweeping gesture with his arm. Happy birthday again. Do you like it?
I... sure, yes... but, what is it?
Harry laughed. I was hoping youd say something like that. Its the Hogs Head! I bought it last spring
and Ive spent the whole summer fixing it up for you. Do you like it?
Ginnys jaw dropped; she stared at the pristine, whitewashed walls, the bright red trim, the window
boxes filled with red, yellow, purple, orange, and pink blossoms. She felt a little dizzy and took Harrys
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boxes filled with red, yellow, purple, orange, and pink blossoms. She felt a little dizzy and took Harrys
arm again. She turned her head slowly and saw Scrivenshafts and Gladrags down the block, the back of
Dervish and Banges off to the side, and behind her, past an open field, the back of the post office and,
past that, The Three Broomsticks. The railroad station was down the hill out of sight, as was Hogwarts
and the Black Lake.
She let go of Harrys arm and took his hand and pointed with it to the empty bracket over the door.
Wheres that horrible sign? Are you getting a new one?
Its out back. I told the goblins they could have it.
The who? Goblins?
I bought it from them. They used to own it before Aberforth, then right after the battle he sold it back,
and its a long story, but I ended up with it.
Ginny shook her head. I still dont get it. Why did you buy it? Whos going to run it?
Me.
Ginny was now totally perplexed. Harry, youre going to run it? Youre going to run an inn? Is that
what you want?
Ginny! Wait! I think itll be fun, maybe... I hope... But I did it so I could be here, with you. Its a place
for both of us, dont you see?
Ginny could tell that Harry had started to worry, but she still didnt understand. Its... its a great idea, it
really is. But... She looked up and saw the open casement window on the second floor with bright
yellow curtains hanging in it. Suddenly she understood. Harry, is that a flat up there?
He followed her look, then laughed again, this time in relief. Yes. Oh, Merlin, you thought it was still
like it was before, when you went through the portrait!
They embraced, laughing, then Ginny took his hand. I think Im beginning to get the idea. Show it to
me.
He opened the front door and they went inside. Harry waved his wand, and hundreds of candles flared in
the two chandeliers, in brass candlesticks lining the mirrors behind the bar, and in dozens of sconces
along the walls. The room was flooded with light from the candles and from the glittering crystals of the
chandeliers. Ginny gasped and put her hands to her mouth. She went to the bar and looked behind it, at
the mug and glass racks above, and the ornate mirror. It was encased in a gilt frame, and all around the
edges were inlays of stained glass that reflected a rainbow of colors from the candles.
Harry led her through a door next to the bar into the kitchen, and Ginny couldnt help the Oooh that
escaped her. Harry, this is beautiful! How did you do all this?
It wasnt me, believe me. I hired a contractor that Bill told me about, Tony. Youll meet him. He lives
right outside the village and hes
Wait! Is that Tony Trostle?
Yeah, Harry nodded. Do you know him?
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Yeah, Harry nodded. Do you know him?


No, but Dad told me that he was the one who organized the village to fight.
At the battle? Last spring? I never knew that.
I cant wait to meet him! He helped save all our lives. And he can do this, too. She gestured around
the kitchen. Amazing.
Harrys demeanor suddenly turned sober. Ginny, that problem I didnt want to tell you about? I think I
should now. Tonys been helping me with that, too. He didnt say anything for a moment. Finally he
took a breath. Someone put a Dark Mark over the back door. I found it just before I went home last
week. Tony tried to find out who did it, but no one saw anything and we still dont know. It looked like it
was painted on the wall, and I dont think they used magic to put it there.
A Dark Mark? Ginny felt a chill, even though the room was pleasantly warm. Well what kind of
effing moron would do that? It wasnt a Death Eater, theyre all in jail. It had to be a prank.
Yeah, thats what I think, but Im sorry, Gin, I wanted it to be perfect. There s always something, isnt
there? He leaned against a counter and shook his head.
Ginny hated to see the disappointment in his face, so different from the pleasure that had been there a
moment ago when they were standing in front of the inn. She put her arms around him. Love, its all
right. They cant do anything to us. Were so much stronger, cant you feel it? And people like Tony
arent afraid anymore. We arent alone. The inn is beautiful. Come on, I want to see the upstairs.
She pulled him away from the counter, and kissed him. Harry could feel the locket under her blouse.
Ah, there it is, he put his hand on it. I was wondering if you had worn it.
I like it where it is.
Harry left his hand there for a moment. Come on, he grinned, theres more to see. He led her out a
door that opened into a small vestibule. Stairs on the right climbed up to the flat, and in front of them
was the back door.I want to show you where it was, he said, and opened the door.
Ten yards away under a spreading elm tree, Winky was getting to her feet. Next to her was a blanket and
a large copper ladle, the same one she had tried to clobber Tony with a week ago. She looked at them,
blinking away sleep.
Good morning, Harry Potter, she squeaked. You is back with Ginny Weasley.
Winky, Harry said, what are you doing?
Winky is waking up. She will make breakfast for Harry and Ginny Pott for Harry Potter and Ginny
Weasley, if they wants it.
Ginny giggled. Harry glanced at her and smiled wryly, then said to Winky, No, I meant what were you
doing out here? Have you been sleeping under that tree?
Winky rose to her full height of a little over two feet and looked at them sternly. Winky has been
guarding this door, and no one has come to put the evil sign on it again. She pointed to the wall with her
ladle.
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ladle.
Where was it? Ginny asked, and Harry indicated the spot above the lintel. Winky, she said to the elf
who had come to stand next to them, youve been sleeping out here every night?
Harry Potters home will not be harmed while Winky is here. She folded her arms and glared at them.
Does you want breakfast?
Ginny laughed and Harry grinned. No, thanks, he said. We already ate. But well have lunch later,
okay? Do you have things for lunch?
The elf looked at him as though he was crazy. Of course Winky does! She bowed to them and looked
sideways at Ginny. Winky will be in the kitchen all morning. She went past them through the vestibule
and closed the kitchen door behind her.
Shell be in the kitchen all morning, Ginny told Harry; she swayed ever so slightly, and waited. Harry
was lost in thought and didnt move for a moment, so Ginny gave his hand a tug. When did you get
another elf?
Right, he suddenly said; he hadnt heard her, the kitchen. I was just wondering how she knew about
lunch.
Dont ask me, I never had a houseelf. But from what Ive seen of Kreacher and now her, Id say they
can read minds.
God, I hope not, Harry muttered, and looked guiltily at her.
She laughed. Come on, show me the flat.
They climbed the stairs, but before Harry opened the door at the top, he paused. I hope you like it.
I already love it! Ginny had no trouble sounding enthusiastic; everything from the brilliant dining room
to the perfect kitchen to finding a houseelf standing guard was wonderful. She couldnt imagine that
Harrys flat would be different.
The first thing she saw when the door opened was the fireplace, and she immediately recognized it as a
copy of the one in the Burrow. She walked around the love seat that faced it and stood on the brick
hearth. She ran her hand along the smooth, dark mantel. Harry watched her.
How did you do this? she asked, amazed. Its beautiful! Its perfect!
So you like it. Harry was still by the door, grinning.
Like it? Harry... Yes, I like it! I love it. You made it like the one in the parlor. She came to him and
hugged him. Its the best birthday present ever! Except for the locket, I mean. But this ones great, too,
Theyre both... She stopped as Harry kissed her. Mmmm, was all Ginny could say. Wheres the...
Over here. Harry led her to the bedroom. The magnificent fourposter with its red and gold hangings
stood there, solid, stately, and grand.
Around noon they wandered into the small kitchen, which Ginny hadnt seen yet. Cute, she said.
Cozy. Perfect for late night snacks.
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Cozy. Perfect for late night snacks.


Wait a minute! Harry exclaimed. How do you do that? Thats exactly what I thought a month ago
when I told Tony what I wanted.
I dont know, she laughed. It seems like a good idea. She went through the cabinets and cupboards.
Uh, Harry, theres nothing here. What were you planning to eat with?
I wanted you to pick it all out. I dont know anything about that stuff. Can you do it?
Of course Ill do it. You need more furniture, too, and some rugs. How about a big, furry rug in front of
the fireplace?
And can you help me pick out some pictures and decorations, too? The only picture I have is that one
of Hogwarts, but I want to put up more.
You have some photos, dont you, of your parents? You can put one or two of them on the mantel.
And I need one of you, for the bedroom.
Ginny actually blushed. Well, I need one of you for my dorm.
Thats settled, then. Well go to Diagon Alley and get pictures taken and buy everything we need for...
for our home. There was a pause, then Harry cleared his throat. Well, Winkys probably ready. Wait
here, Ill go see.
Ginny walked around the flat while Harry was gone. She noticed the painting of Hogwarts for the first
time, and stood in front of it for a few minutes, wondering where in Merlins name he had gotten
something so awful. She ran her hand over the mantel again, then pushed the curtains aside and looked
out the casement window; she could see the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts over the roofs of the village,
and thought that it would be fun to visit it today. She had never been there during the summer, when few
people were around, and it would be interesting to see it like that, and to see if all the damage was
repaired.
She went into the bedroom and made the bed. This morning was the first time that Harry had loved her
in a proper bed, and it was beautiful: warm, snug, and safe. The outdoors had its virtues, but she
preferred this. And the bed itself was perfect, like everything that Harry had done here.
Back in the sitting room she went to the picture window and stared across green meadows at the purple
hills in the distance. It was a nice view, not grandiose but pretty and quiet. Perfect, again. It was almost
too good to be true, like a childrens fairy tale. And she knew why Harry wanted to make everything
perfect, why he constantly asked if she liked it. She could sense all too painfully when he had his
moments of doubt and loneliness, when he thought that he could never be happy or that he didnt even
have a right to be happy. This inn and the nest he had built were his reach for that happiness. Some parts
of it, like the pathetic painting of Hogwarts and the empty cupboards in the kitchen, were endearing in
their clumsiness, but if his goal was to achieve happiness by pleasing her, then he was well on his way.
Still, Ginny knew that they she had to be careful. Harrys victory over Riddle and his craving for
happiness sometimes made him a charging, firebreathing dragon, capable of accidentally incinerating
anything and anyone in his way. She herself could be consumed. It wasnt that she didnt want him or
want to live with him, or couldnt imagine any future better than a life with him, but sometimes Harrys
ferocious needs took her breath away, as was happening now with the inn.
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ferocious needs took her breath away, as was happening now with the inn.
Some of it was her own doing, her inability to stop herself, as she had told her mum the morning her dad
had brought out the list of underage magic. But she was not sorry for it. There were girls at school who
said they wouldnt have sex before marriage because it was wrong, but how could what happened last
night, after Harry showed her what was in the locket, be wrong? How could it be wrong to give and
receive so much joy? How could it be wrong to feel so close to someone? The question was not whether
it was right for them to be so close, but whether the closeness could hurt them.
Harrys longing for happiness could easily devour them both. She might be desperate for him sometimes,
but she was not, like him, desperate for happiness. In the past, some of her friends had warned her
about him. He was damaged goods, they said, he would hurt her. Everyone knew he had been raised
by Muggles who hated him: he had come to Hogwarts looking like a starved rat, and she had seen him
on the platform at Kings Cross. There was an element of truth in what they said. Ginny looked on it,
though, not as a danger, but as a problem that had to be dealt with and solved, and the crux of her
concern about the inn was whether Harry had created a solution or an obstacle.
She heard him coming back up the stairs and turned to face the room. This inn and her being there meant
so much to him, and he had done it so well! She was not surprised that he seemed to know exactly what
would please her, what kind of chivalry would melt her heart, even though he had so little experience at
it. They had both noticed how tuned in to each others feelings and thoughts they were, and here was
another example.
The door opened and Harry was back, and Ginny instantly knew that whatever fears she harbored about
the inn could never stand up against the feelings that flooded her when she saw Harrys smiling and
eager face. She would keep her concerns in the back of her mind, but she would embrace her birthday
gift.
Its ready, he said, I hope youre hungry.
They found Winky in the kitchen with a knife in each hand chopping walnuts; the blades were moving
so fast they were just blurs, making a rapid clacking sound on the cutting board. She put the knives
down, and led them into the dining room. The chandeliers were still lit and the shutters were closed; it
made the room seem intimate and private. A single table for two had been placed in the center, covered
with a white linen tablecloth; a silver candelabra with a single candle stood on it. All the other tables had
been pushed back to the walls.
Harry led Ginny to the table and held a chair for her as she sat down. Winky served a luncheon delight:
cold potato soup, tossed salad, baked salmon with a buttery lemon sauce, string beans, and finished off
with ice cream sundaes smothered in chocolate syrup and walnuts. When they were done, Ginny leaned
back and put her hand on her stomach. Im stuffed, she said. That was as good a meal as my mum
ever made.
Winky cleared the table there was definitely magic in how quickly the dirty dishes disappeared, and
Harry wondered if the elf had brought some techniques with her from Hogwarts. He and Ginny went
back to the kitchen with her, but she shooed them away.
Dont get in Winkys way, she scolded. Harry and Ginny Pott Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley have
their own kitchen upstairs. They should go clean that one if they wants.
Lets go for a walk instead, Harry laughed. They went out the back door, and Harry glanced up at the
wall above the lintel. Ginny watched his face. There must be some kind of protection you can put on the
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wall above the lintel. Ginny watched his face. There must be some kind of protection you can put on the
building, she said. Why dont you ask Professor Flitwick? We could walk over to Hogwarts and see
him now.
Harry chewed on his lip, thinking. No, I dont want to get everyone all worked up about it yet. I dont
think anyone outside the village knows. But youre right, there must be something, Ill ask Hermione.
The problem is that it wasnt put up there with magic. They may have used a magical brush, but the
Mark itself was only paint. They could have bought it at a Muggle store. And the brush spell wasnt even
Dark magic. What if Tony has to touch up the paint or repair something? Wed have to undo the spell
and then put it back on. Im damned if I Ill let them keep me from doing what I want to do.
To Ginny, It didnt seem like it would be that much trouble, but Harry was clearly adamant, and she
didnt want to argue about anything today. Lets go, she pulled his arm, I want to see the castle.
They walked down the High Street, but as they passed The Three Broomsticks Madame Rosmerta
opened the door and waved to them. Harry! Ginny! Someone said they saw the chandeliers lit, and I
knew you were here! Come in for a drink.
Harry looked at Ginny, who nodded, and they followed the proprietress inside. It was crowded, and
Rosmerta led them to her table in the back. As Ginny passed between tables of customers who all
greeted Harry and smiled at her, she suddenly felt the hair on the back of the neck stand up, and she had
an urge to pull her wand out. She glanced around. The inn was full of witches and wizards enjoying their
meals and their drinks, talking and laughing with friends. Something made her look at a table near the
door where four younger people were sitting, three wizards and a witch. The witch was staring at Harry,
and Ginny now knew why her hackles had raised. She stopped and studied the witch with narrowed eyes.
The word that came into Ginnys mind when she looked closely was slut. She could only see her from
the chest up, and there was lots to see there. Besides her extremely lowcut blouse, she was wearing
neonred lipstick and heavy mascara; her long blonde hair hung loosely, and when she noticed Ginny
she tossed it with a casual shake of her head. She picked up a shot glass and flung its contents down in
one gulp without taking her eyes from Ginny. Then she put it down and deliberately looked away.
She was now staring at Harry again, who had moved to the back of the room with Rosmerta. Ginny
glared at the witch until the hussy looked at her again, then joined Harry and Rosmerta. She still felt the
urge to throw a hex, but decided it wouldnt be good for Rosmertas business if a customers face
suddenly blossomed with bat boogers. She sat in a chair with her back to the blonde witch.
A waitress brought over three butterbeers, and Harry introduced her to Ginny. This is Harriet Smythe.
She got me my new barkeep. I forgot to tell you about him. Youll never guess who. Stan Shunpike. I
met him here last week. He worked at the Leaky Cauldron before the Knight Bus.
Hey, thats brilliant! Harry had told Ginny all about his confrontation with Stan during his escape from
Privet Drive, and she knew how upset he had been about it. So youre a friend of Stans? she asked
Harriet.
Well, maybe a little more than that, Harriet laughed. At least Id like to think so.
Ginny grinned. Itll be good to see him. I only met him the one time I took the Knight Bus three years
ago, and Im glad hes not in trouble.
Harriet left to serve other customers, and Harry and Rosmerta talked business for a while; Rosmerta was
trying out some new drinks that had just come on the market, and she offered to sell Harry a sample for
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trying out some new drinks that had just come on the market, and she offered to sell Harry a sample for
the Hogs Head. Harry accepted, and they were about to leave when Ginny leaned toward Rosmerta.
Who is that blonde witch sitting near the door? she asked, and turned to point her out, but she was
gone. The three wizards were still sitting at the table, looking somewhat morose, but their companion
had left.
Ginny looked at Rosmerta and then at Harry. He was frowning slightly, and Ginny knew that he had
either seen the witch when they came in, or had met her sometime.
That was Turquoise Southeby, Rosmerta was also frowning. She wanted the cooks job at Harrys
inn, and she was here for an interview last week.
I should have told you about her, Harry said, but she was so ridiculous. Some people even thought
she might have put the Dark Mark up because she didnt get the job, but she had an alibi. I still wouldnt
put it past her. He looked at the door, and suddenly the inn went quiet and most of the other customers
also turned.
Ginny knew without looking who it was, but she was still unprepared for what she saw. Turquoise
Southeby was about to sit at the table she had left, but she paused, undoubtedly to make sure everyone
noticed her. Now she was wearing very tight white shorts and a matching, skimpy halter top. Before she
took her chair, she gazed toward the back of the inn directly at Harry, and her manner was so brazen that
several customers also looked at him.
Ginny heard Harrys chair scrape the floor, and she rose with him. Rosmerta muttered an apology, but
Harry waved it off. He took Ginnys arm and they walked through the crowd to the front of the room.
Neither of them looked at Southeby, but when they were a few steps from the door, Harry put his arm
around Ginnys waist and pulled her close. Outside, as they turned toward the railroad station and the
lane to Hogwarts, Harry said, without looking at Ginny, and in a voice as angry as she had ever heard
him use, Bitch.
Back to index

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Chapter 13: Rugs


Author's Notes: So did anyone catch the reference to LOTR in chapter 12? I like the idea of a tenuous
connection between Middle Earth and the Wizarding world. After all, wizards, elves, dark lords...
Chapter 13 covers only about 13 hours on August 12, 1998, so at this rate there will be a couple of
thousand chapters in the fic. For my family's sake, I hope it doesn't happen that way.
Thanks to everyone who voted for The Hogs Head in the DSTAs.
Harry dropped his arm from Ginnys waist and took her hand as they crossed the tracks and headed up
the lane. He started to speak, but then closed his mouth. After a moment he said, I was just about to say
something nasty about her, but then I thought, thats exactly what she wants. The hell with that. This is
your day, and nothings going to spoil it.
Ginny let out her breath, which she had been holding in anticipation of an explosion. I appreciate that,
she said, but we should talk about her.
What for? Shes trash. As long as shes not bothering you, I dont care. He stopped and turned to her;
they were almost at the gates. Is she bothering you? Ill go back and make her stop if you want.
No, dont, Harry. Its not that. Shes not just trash. Ginny couldnt forget the prickly feeling on the
back of her neck when she had walked into The Three Broomsticks.
What do you mean?
I cant explain it, but even before I saw her, something made me want to throw a hex. She smiled a
little. Im used to your admirers, they dont bother me, although this ones gone a little beyond what
any girl at Hogwarts ever did, at least as far as I know.
They started walking again, and both of them looked up at the winged boars perched on top of the pillars.
Ahead was the castle. It looked just as solid and imposing as ever. Ginny could see no external damage;
the hole in the roof of the Gryffindor Tower was repaired, in fact it didnt look like there had ever been a
hole. Is everything fixed? she asked.
I was there last week and I couldnt see any damage. Its beautiful, isnt it?
Ginny smiled. I love it.
So why did you want to hex her?
I dont know, but I dont think shes just a simple tramp.
Do you think she painted the Dark Mark?
You said she had an alibi. But shes doing things that no normal woman would do in public. Either
shes crazy, or she has other motives.
Yeah, I guess I never saw anyone do that before. But why?
I dont know. Does Rosmerta know anything about her?
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I dont know. Does Rosmerta know anything about her?


Harry told her what he had learned from Rosmerta, and Ginny shook her head. I cant figure it out.
Well, lets forget about it. As long as shes not bothering you, I dont want to think about her anymore.
They were at the bottom of the steps, and they could see the entrance hall inside the open doors. Harry
grinned. They left the doors open. Professor McGonagall must not think shes a problem, either.
Ginny laughed. Her spirits had risen again after the brief interlude of unpleasantness at The Three
Broomsticks. She put her arm through Harrys as they passed the doors, and she looked around.
Everything looked exactly as it had before the battle. The House hourglasses were intact, the upper part
of each one filled with colored jewels. The balustrades were repaired, as were the stairs, the walls and
the floor. They looked into the Great Hall; the enchanted ceiling was inactive, but sunlight was streaming
through the high windows and fell on the four tables, empty now. They climbed up to the Gryffindor
Tower, but the Fat Lady refused to let them in without the password. She had a small smile on her face
as they tried some random phrases, and she shook her head. Go get it from the Headmistress, if youre
so anxious to go inside, she told them. Youll never guess it.
They decided first to see if Professor Flitwick was in his office, so they walked around to the West
Tower and knocked on his door. When there was no answer they traipsed through the corridors and down
several moving staircases to Professor McGonagalls office. The portraits along the way greeted them,
and the wizards bowed to Ginny, flourishing their hats. The password that Harry had used last week
Firth of Forth still worked on the gargoyles; they were carried up the spiral stairs, and knocked on
the door.
Come in! the Headmistress called, and they entered. McGonagall was standing at a bookshelf,
perusing a large, leatherbound volume, but she put it back on the shelf and smiled when she saw them.
Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley, its good to see you. She went to her desk and sat down. Have a seat.
Harry, theres something I wanted to discuss with you.
They sat in chairs that appeared behind them. We were wondering if you could give us the password for
the Fat Lady, Harry said. We tried to get in, but she wouldnt let us.
Everythings fine, said the Headmistress.
It is, smiled Harry, Ive got the inn all set up, and we had Winkys first meal this afternoon.
Im glad to hear that, but I was giving you the password.
Ginny tried to hide a laugh with a hand over her mouth. Oh, said Harry sheepishly; he grinned at
Ginny. Got it.
McGonagall also smiled. Did you just stop by the castle for a visit, then? They nodded, and she
became serious. Well, as long as youre here, I need to talk about the Dark Mark on your inn, Harry.
Oh. Harry said again; he was unpleasantly surprised at this. He had not wanted news about the Mark to
go beyond Hogsmeade, but now he realized how unlikely that hope had been, and wondered who else
knew about it. It was probably just a prank.
Why do you think it was a prank? McGonagall asked. There are still people out there who wanted
Riddle to succeed. Since you are the one who destroyed him, they have a motive for doing something
like that.
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like that.
Do what? Harry said. It was crude, and it was on the back wall where no one would see it. I got rid of
it with a simple cleaning charm.
Perhaps, but remember, his leaders and their most talented followers are all dead or in prison. The ones
left arent capable, at least not yet, of doing much more than annoy you.
Ginny spoke up. If theyre so inept, why get all worried? Harrys ten times the wizard that any of them
are. What could they do to him?
Probably not much. But word spreads, and others who are not so clumsy and who may harbor similar
feelings will hear about it and become encouraged. But that is not my primary concern right now.
Whatever happens in Hogsmeade affects Hogwarts. Students go there on weekends. Parents and other
visitors often stay there. It is one of our windows into the Wizarding world. Do you see why someones
defacing your building with a Dark Mark concerns me?
Okay, Harry admitted, but if it was just a kid trying to be funny, I still dont see why all the fuss?
They had their fun, and that will be the end of it. He was beginning to get annoyed. Ever since he had
arrived in Hogsmeade with Ginny he had wanted to put the Dark Mark behind him. If the perpetrator
was nothing more than a local truant, he knew that he could deal with it. He did not want headmistresses
or Aurors or anyone else sticking their wands into it. It would mean nothing but problems and
interference with him and Ginny.
McGonagall peered at him over her glasses. I am not making a fuss, Harry, I am doing my job, which is
first and foremost to ensure the safety of my students. Surely you were aware that one of the few things
that made Professor Dumbledore irritable was questioning his commitment to the security of Hogwarts.
Maybe it was just a kid as you say, but maybe it was someone with more serious intentions.
Harry glanced at the wall behind McGonagall and saw that Dumbledores portrait was empty. He decided
not to contend with the Headmistress, since he knew he wouldnt be able to keep her nose out of The
Hogs Head if she wanted to put it there. He tried deflection. What I was thinking of doing was to ask
Professor Flitwick about protective charms, maybe even some detection spells to let me know when
someone is out back. I cant stop someone from trying to be an idiot, but, you know, I didnt want it to
happen, either, he finished a little petulantly.
Of course you dont, the Headmistress agreed. Its an excellent idea to see Professor Flitwick. Maybe
he can even make it an assignment as part of your private lessons.
Harry grunted and glanced at Ginny; they both got up. He wasnt in his office when we stopped by.
Maybe well look for him later.
McGonagall nodded and wished them good day. But remember, Harry, whatever happens in
Hogsmeade concerns me.
Back in the corridor Ginny grinned at Harry. Yes, an excellent Idea, she repeated the Headmistresss
line.
Harry shrugged. I didnt want to fight with her. Shes good friends with Rosmerta, so shes going to
know whatever happens in Hogsmeade. And shes right, too. Its her job. I just dont want a lot of
officialtypes sticking their noses into the inn. Just leave me the hell alone! he said a little more
forcefully than he intended.
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forcefully than he intended.


Ginny looked at him in surprise. Whats wrong, Harry? No ones trying to meddle. If there are followers
of Riddle still out there, people need to know.
Yeah, I know, Harry said more calmly. Its just... They were in front of the Fat Lady again. Ginny,
dont you see? I just want to be with you. Thats the reason Im doing all this, and every time someone
or something gets in the way, I get.. so frustrated! My whole life, Ive been... He shook his head.
Dont, love, she said softly. It will all be wonderful. It will be just you and me, and I cant wait for
school to start. Ill be Quidditch captain and Ill be with you. I dont care about anything else. She
kissed him, and the Fat Lady coughed. They both looked at her. Everythings fine, said Ginny. It
really is.
So it seems, the portrait sniffed. She swung back and they climbed through the portrait hole into the
common room.
Harry went to the fireplace and gazed around. Everything was in its place and ready for school to begin,
there was none of the clutter and disorder that marked the term from day one, after the first students had
arrived. There was no fire in the fireplace, but Harrys favorite battered old easy chair was there in front
of it. He put his hand on the chair. Ill miss this place. I missed it last year.
Harry? Ginny was still by the portrait hole. Lets go back to Hogsmeade.
Sure, Harry looked surprised. But I thought you wanted to see the castle? Is something wrong?
No, nothings wrong. I thought it would be neat to see everything without people around, but its not
really that interesting. Besides, I have an idea.
Harrys plaint outside the common room had disturbed Ginny. His words recalled her musings up in the
flat before lunch, just an hour or two earlier. The day had been so special so far, so full of happy things
and love, and she did not want his spirits to slide into a pit or even a little hole and have an almost
perfect day be ruined. What she had in mind would get them away from the inn for a while, but would
also help Harry complete his dream of a home there.
They left the Fat Lady toodle-ooing them off and started down the corridor to the stairs. Whats
your idea? Harry asked. Do you want to go back to the flat? He looked at her hopefully.
Not right away, Ginny laughed. I thought... maybe... maybe we could Apparate to Diagon Alley and
buy some things.
A shopping trip?
Yes! Ginny took his arm. Theres so many new shops there now. Hermione was telling me about
some of them. We could get almost everything we need, and have our pictures taken. Wed still be able
to get back in time for dinner.
Okay, if thats what you want to do. Should you tell your... Harry didnt finish the sentence when he
saw her frown, but he laughed. Sorry, I forgot for a minute. Were on our own.
They walked back to the inn and told Winky what they were going to do, and left her with a message for
Ron and Hermione in case they arrived first. Ginny took Harrys arm and in a moment they were in
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Ron and Hermione in case they arrived first. Ginny took Harrys arm and in a moment they were in
Diagon Alley in front of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. They went inside and saw Lee Jordan behind the
counter. He waved and they pushed their way to him through the crowded store.
Happy birthday, and how was the party, Ginny? he greeted them. Lots of loot?
Ginny told him about her presents as Harry looked around. The shop appeared to be thriving, with about
twenty witches and wizards and their children wandering around or buying jokes. Two of the witches
who had been at Freds funeral were also behind the counter. Ginny chatted with Lee for a while; he
knew about the inn, and congratulated Harry and told him he would be up for a firewhiskey after it
opened. They told Lee they would stop back before they went home, and then went out into the busy
street.
Hermione was right, there were many new shops, and all of the Dark Arts stores that Harry had seen
when he broke into Gringotts were gone. Ginny pulled him into one of the new stores, a rug emporium
owned by a Macedonian wizard named Kolarovski, and Harry walked out poorer by several hundred
Galleons but the owner of two new rugs, a Persian for the bedroom and a very thick, red shag for in front
of the fireplace.
Next door was a new bookstore called The Crooked Walk and Harry wanted to go inside to see how
their prices compared to Flourish and Blotts. But when the owner saw him, she shrieked and threw
herself at him and began sobbing on his chest. He looked at Ginny in bewilderment and she looked at the
witch with concern. When they finally got her calmed down, she told them that she was one of the
Muggleborns who Harry had rescued in the Department of Mysteries. She had been cowering on the
floor outside the hearing room with the others when Harry and Hermione had burst out, wielding their
Patronuses and driving the dementors away. After she escaped from the Ministry, she had found her
family and they had gone into hiding in Ireland, where her husband had relatives. Now they were back
in England, and she had opened the book store with gold from a compensation fund that had been set up
for people who had been persecuted by the Death Eater regime.
Bless Kingsley Shacklebolt, she said as she wiped tears from her face, and bless you, Harry Potter.
You saved my life and my childrens lives.
Harry mumbled his thanks, and asked if she had any books on advanced charms and spells. The witch
took them to a small section of charms books. I dont carry too many of these, she said. I cant
compete with the big boys down the block. I specialize mostly in sports. My husband used to play
Quidditch, and my two boys love sports. She glanced at Harry as though she wanted to ask him
something, and when he had finished looking over two or three of her books, she spoke to him. Mr.
Potter, I was wondering about something. Do you know what happened to that witch who was
conducting those hearings? She looked like a fat little toad.
Harry snorted. Thats her exactly. Dolores Umbridge, evil personified. I dont know where she is. I
never asked, but I suppose shes in Azkaban. He frowned for a moment. Im sure she is, otherwise I
would have heard that she had escaped.
Are you sure? Im asking because my children still have nightmares about her. She questioned them
when I was arrested, terrorized them is more like it, and when she comes to trial I want to testify against
her. The witch was close to tears again.
Im sorry, Harry patted her shoulder. Im glad you all got away. Ill try to find out about her.
They walked out of the store with Ginnys arm in Harrys. How quickly we forget, Harry said as they
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They walked out of the store with Ginnys arm in Harrys. How quickly we forget, Harry said as they
walked along. It was bad enough for me and your family, but for someone like them, they had to choose
between leaving the country and maybe dying or losing their children.
As they strolled down the Alley, they began to notice people looking at them, and heard a few whispers
as they passed. They ducked into Hippolites Home Furnishings, next door to Gringotts, and Ginny
started picking out kitchenware. The clerk recognized Harry, and hovered over them in a most annoying
way, constantly asking if they needed help or offering advice for the young couple setting up house for
the first time. That got Harry extremely annoyed, and he wanted to leave, but by then Ginny had already
selected dishes, utensils, pots, pans, mugs, glasses, and even a few small, framed pictures of magical
British landscapes, and she told the clerk, kindly but firmly, to leave them alone or else lose the sale. He
retreated behind the counter, but ignored his other customers and watched them until they came to pay.
Find everything you were looking for? he asked cheerfully. We can always special order, you know.
Have you seen our catalog? We have other stores in Lancaster and Plymouth, if you ever happen to be
there. He chattered on, obviously not wanting the famous Harry Potter to leave. Other customers began
to drift over, gawking at Harry and Ginny until Harry decided to lure them away so they wouldnt bother
Ginny. He started walking aimlessly around the shop, the crowd following him, until he saw that Ginny
was finished. He went to the counter and quickly paid and then they left.
Lets just get our pictures taken, Harry said. This is getting on my nerves. They walked past
Gringotts, and Harry saw that the damage caused by the escaping dragon was repaired. The goblin guards
standing in front recognized him, though, and one of them scurried inside. Probably warning them to
beef up security, Harry laughed. They continued on to the apothecary that stood near the entrance to the
Leaky Cauldron; there was a photographers studio in the back, and they had their pictures taken. They
bought frames that were conveniently on sale in the front, then steeled themselves for the walk back to
Weasleys Wizard Wheezes.
This is so strange, Ginny said as they walked as quickly as they could without actually running. They
got more stares and several people pointed to them. No one ever paid any attention to me like this. I
guess it goes with the territory.
Harry grinned. So youll stick it out with me?
Through thick and thin. I just furnished your flat for you, so I have to. They cracked jokes and laughed
together until they got to the joke shop.
Did you get waylaid? Lee asked them. People were coming in and talking about seeing you out
there.
Yeah, but there was only one really obnoxious one, Harry said. They showed him the photographs and,
as dusk began to fall, they Disapparated back to Hogsmeade, appearing in the kitchen where they had
left from. Winky was not there, but light was coming from the dining room. Ron and Hermione were
sitting at the bar and Winky was behind it on a stool, trying to get the butterbeer keg to work. She was
vigorously pumping the handle, with sweat pouring down her face and dripping onto the bar. She was
muttering to herself and Harry was surprised at some of the words coming out of her mouth.
Theres nothing in the keg yet, Harry said as he and Ginny joined them. We wont be getting any
butterbeer or anything else in for another couple of weeks.
Well, why doesnt Harry Potter say so! Winky glared at him, wiped her face with a bar towel, threw it
down on the counter and jumped off the stool. When she appeared from behind the bar she threw Harry
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down on the counter and jumped off the stool. When she appeared from behind the bar she threw Harry
another dirty look and stalked into the kitchen, letting the door slam behind her.
I never told her to tend bar, Harry said apologetically to Hermione. I hope shell cook dinner.
So you went to Diagon Alley? Ron asked as they moved to a table and sat down together. Harry
showed them the photos they had taken in the apothecary. Why didnt you tell us? We could have come
along.
We were shopping, Ginny answered when Harry hesitated. For the flat. It was fun.
Really? said Hermione. Where did you go? Did you see that cute new clothing store next to Eeylops?
I saw a dress there I wanted to try on, but this one she pointed at Ron with her thumb didnt want
to be late for your party, which we got to three full days ahead of time, if you noticed. She said the last
directly to Ron, who shrugged.
I hate shopping, he said to Harry. I never knew I did until I had to wait an hour and a half in Madame
Malkins while she tried on robes for her new job. I actually thought I had died. I think my heart really
did stop beating, I was so bored.
It was only twenty minutes, and the reason you waited was because those two witches were running in
and out of the dressing room without bothering to close the door, Hermione sniffed. I told you if you
waited in the Quidditch store Id stop by for you.
Ron shrugged again. Anyway, I do hate shopping, so more power to you, mate, if you actually liked it.
I did. Harrys hand was on Ginnys thigh under the table, and he squeezed. Except for the people
following us around. Wait til you see the great rugs we got. And we can eat up there now. Ginny picked
out plates and stuff.
Weve never seen your flat, Hermione said.
Thats right! Come on up! Harry jumped up and they all followed him through the kitchen where
Winky was busy at the sink and didnt look at them. In the vestibule, Harry opened the back door and
stepped outside. Heres where the Dark Mark was, he pointed above the door. Hermione looked at it
and then around at the field behind the building, which was empty except for a few trees, including the
elm nearby. She pointed to Dervish and Banges about fifty yards away.
Theres a clear view from there, she said. Did you ask if they saw anything?
I didnt myself, Harry replied, but I assume that Tony did. That would be an obvious place to start.
Ill ask him.
They discussed it for a few minutes, then Harry led them back inside and up to the flat. Nothing had
been delivered from Diagon Alley yet, so Ginny described the rugs and the kitchenware they had
bought. All we need now is some furniture, easy chairs, a few end tables, and dressers for the
bedroom. She smiled as Harry put the two photographs on the mantel.
Ron looked at Harry Dressers? he said, emphasizing the plural, but Harry didnt hear him.
Ginnys fabulous, he was saying to Hermione; they were all sitting on the floor in front of the
fireplace. I had no idea what to get or where to buy it. And everythings perfect! The Persian rug is five
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fireplace. I had no idea what to get or where to buy it. And everythings perfect! The Persian rug is five
hundred years old, and its beautiful. I cant wait to see it, itll go right in there, he pointed through the
open bedroom door. Ginny smiled appreciatively, and Ron looked at Hermione with a slight roll of his
eyes.
Dont you love domestic bliss? he said. Seriously, if Harry Potter has nothing to worry about except
where to lay his rug, then all must be right with the world. Voldemort is truly dead.
We were up at the castle today, too, Ginny went on. Its all fixed. Its was as good as new.
They ought to put up a monument to all the houseelves who repaired it, Hermione said. It shows
how loyal they are.
They showed that when they jumped the Death Eaters in the Great Hall, Ron pointed out. I think its
more than loyalty. I wonder if elves were the ones who built Hogwarts in the first place, the ones who
did the actual work.
Im sure they were, Hermione agreed. They must have... She looked at Harry and Ginny; Ron was
watching them, too. They had completely tuned out the conversation; Harry was holding Ginnys hand to
his lips, and she was talking to him in a whisper while her hand caressed his face. They were oblivious
to Ron and Hermiones stares. Ron pulled out his wand, conjured a small silver bell that floated above
their heads, and started it to ring. For a moment nothing happened, then Harry and Ginny both glanced
up, but only for a moment; they quickly went back to gazing at each other. They finally returned to earth
when Ron and Hermione started roaring with laughter.
You two were completely alone there, werent you? Ron chortled. Come on, lovers! He stood up.
We came here for dinner. You shouldnt keep your guests waiting. Winky is probably sulking because
were ignoring her.
They went downstairs, and Winky indeed had finished preparing dinner. She pushed them into the dining
room. This time a table for four was set, again with white linen and sliver service, including the
candelabra. The chandeliers were blazing, and the whole room radiated light. The shutters were open,
and they could see that the lights from inside lit up the dark street in front of the inn.
Harry peered out the window. He was smiling when he turned back. Its exactly what I wanted. This
place was so gloomy, but now look at it!
Its lovely, Harry, said Hermione. You did a perfect job.
Winky began serving, and soon the table was overflowing with a fried clam appetizer, salads, hot dinner
rolls, and butterbeer. The main course was thick, juicy slices of roast beef and steamy baked potatoes
with sauteed vegetables. Before she brought out dessert, Winky placed four blue bottles on the table and
got four glasses from the bar. Madame Rosmerta sends us this new drink, said the elf as corks flew out
of the bottles. They tilted and poured their frothy red contents into the glasses.
Harry took a sip. Mmm, delicious. Whats it called? He picked up one of the bottles and read the
label. It showed a smiling young witch holding a glass of the same drink; she raised it to her mouth and
chugged it down, then winked. Above her picture, in bright red letters, were the words, Potio Vitae A
Drink For Life.
A couple of joints in Diagon Alley are selling it, Ron said as he also took a sip. Its very popular, but
I dont like it that much. Ginny agreed with him by making a face after she tasted it, but Hermione
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I dont like it that much. Ginny agreed with him by making a face after she tasted it, but Hermione
drank hers down.
I like it, she said. Its fruity but not too sweet.
I guess its not a Weasley thing, Harry said as he finished his. He leaned back in his chair. I wonder
whats for dessert?
So, Harry, Ron also kicked back and put his hands behind his head, are you keeping the name, or will
you pick a different one?
I cant make up my mind. Even if I keep it, Im getting rid of the sign. Im open to suggestions for a
name and a new sign.
How about Gins Joint? Ron said with a sideways glance at his sister.
How about you try on some bat boogers for a month? Ginny made a spellcasting motion with her
finger.
Dont you want your picture up over a door with hundreds of people going in and out? Ron pressed on
with a laugh. You could be famous.
Very funny, pencil nose, but no thanks. Ive seen what happens when youre famous. If you want it,
you can have it. We can repaint the sign with your head on it instead of the pigs.
There was a loud crash of breaking glass and a large rock bounced off the bar onto the floor. Shards of
glass flew across the room and they all ducked and covered their heads with their arms. Before they
could move, a small brown object sailed through the broken window and landed with a soft thud on the
floor near the table, almost under Rons feet.
Harry jumped up and ran to the door. He flung it open. Lumos! he cried, and his wand flared. He
could see several figures running around the side of the inn.
Out back! he shouted to Ron, who was right behind him. Ron turned and ran to the kitchen door,
followed by Hermione. Harry ran out the front with Ginny at his heels, and they tore after the shadowy
shapes. There was a loud bang and a flash of red. Someone screamed, and there were more red flashes.
They came around the back of the building and saw the shadows running across the field. Harry sent a
stunning spell at them, but it flew high and he swore. Then a red flame shot over his shoulder and one of
the figures flew through the air and crashed into a tree; it hit the trunk and slid to the ground, motionless.
The others had disappeared across the field into the night.
Nice! Harry grinned at Ginny, whose wand was still pointing at the body. She grunted and they looked
toward the back door. Hermione and Ron were standing in the light from inside, their wands in their
hands. Hermiones was now lit, illuminating a wide area behind the inn. Doors in nearby buildings
opened, and people peeked out.
I got one! Ron called. Hes right here. He pointed to a form on the ground near the elm tree.
Ginny hit one, too, Harry answered. A good night for the Weasleys. Did you see how many got
away? Ron and Hermione joined Harry and Ginny, and they all looked down at the Stunned body of a
young man. His clothes were rough and shabby, and he needed a shave; his boots were worn, and there
were holes in the soles.
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were holes in the soles.


I think there were two others, maybe three, Hermione said. Does anyone recognize this one? She
pointed her wand at his face.
Harry looked closely, then turned to Ginny who was also bent over the wizard. She shook her head. I
dont think he was one of the men sitting with Southeby. What about the other one?
Wait here, Ron said. He went back to the elm tree, then pointed his wand at the inert form lying there;
it floated toward them, its arms and legs dangling, then Ron let it fall to the ground. He went through the
pockets of both, and pulled a wand from the one that Ginnys spell had hit. I dont think this one has a
wand, he looked puzzled. Did anyone see a wand lying around?
Maybe hes a Squib, Hermione said. That would be strange, though, a Squib tagging along with
wizards to do something like this.
Meanwhile, Harry and Ginny had examined the second one, who was as scruffy as the first. Nope,
Ginny straightened up and put her wand away, neither one of these was at The Three Broomsticks.
What happened there? Ron asked, and Ginny told him about meeting Rosmerta, and Turquoise
Southebys performance.
There were three men sitting with her, but not these, Ginny finished.
Brother, she must be something, Ron shook his head. Im surprised Rosmerta puts up with her.
Maybe she wont anymore, said Harry. Shes not coming into my inn, I can promise you that.
So what do we do now? Ginny said. Why dont we wake them up?
We should notify the Ministry, Hermione stated firmly. They committed a crime. Maybe theyre the
ones who made the Dark Mark. They all looked at Harry.
He had already decided to do that. Things were starting to get out of hand now, and he wanted to resolve
it all as quickly as possible. He glanced at Ginny, who was watching him and frowning, and when he
looked at her, she nodded. Harry looked back at their two captives, and felt a surge of anger; he was not
going to allow thugs like these to ruin this place he had made for him and Ginny. He thought for another
minute. Ill go up to the post office and send an owl. Someone should go inside and check it out. And
see if Winkys all right.
He went off at a trot up to the High Street, thinking about Hedwig. It only took a minute at the post
office to write a note and hand it to the night clerk. Got a helluva fast one all ready to go, Mr. Potter,
the old witch said cheerfully. Hell be back pretty damn quick, too. Harry thanked her and headed
back to the inn. He found the others standing over the bodies. Ron was holding something in his hands,
and Harry recognized the brown lump that had been thrown through the window.
Its a dead weasel, Ron said in a very quiet voice when he saw Harry. Ginny was looking off into the
darkness, but when she turned her head he saw sadness and hurt in her eyes. He had never seen that look
before, and he didnt know if he could stand it. Anger began to build inside him, and he turned to the
inert forms on the ground, slowly pulling out his wand.
Ginny grabbed his arm. Harry! Dont, please! She tried to pull him away. Youll just get into trouble.
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Ginny grabbed his arm. Harry! Dont, please! She tried to pull him away. Youll just get into trouble.
Remember what you told me on the beach? Let the Aurors handle it. Theyll be here soon.
Okay, okay, Harry took a deep breath and walked off; he stood a few feet away until his anger
subsided. Finally he came back. Im okay, he said between clenched teeth. He pointed his wand at the
first man. Petrificus totalis! Ennervate! The man went rigid, then his eyes opened; they looked up
blankly.
Hes imperiused! Harry exclaimed. He did the same to the other, who also looked around as though he
was seeing nothing. Dammit! These two are just stooges, well never learn anything from them. He
looked at Hermione. Can we lift the Curse?
Well, maybe, she said doubtfully. I know its possible, but it depends on how well the curse was
placed, and how good you are, if you want to lift it. But you can hurt them if you do it wrong. I think we
should just let it wear off, or wait until someone from the Ministry gets here .
Harry, look at this. Ron had been examining the dead weasel, turning it over and running his fingers
through its fur. He now held the animal up, cupped in both of his hands. Theres no mark on it that I can
see. Its eyes are open, but it doesnt look startled or frightened. I think someone used a Killing Curse on
it.
They stood in silence, then Harry looked at the men lying on the ground. These two didnt do it, even if
theyre both wizards. They cant even keep themselves clean or patch their shoes. Someone else did it
and gave it to them to toss into the inn, someone around here. He looked at his friends, his inn, the
captives, and the dead weasel. Ginny took his hand, but he wouldnt meet her eyes and pulled his hand
away. She grabbed it back.
Harry, itll be okay. Were all here with you. The Ministry can find out who put these two up to it. We
have one of their wands, and they can also use Veritaserum
No, they wont, Ron interrupted. Kingsley banned it, at least until the Wizengamot decides what to
do. He says its wrong to force someone to talk.
Well, thats great, Harry said sarcastically. These two get off because theyre Imperiused and I get
my inn destroyed. Wonderful.
But Harry, Hermione tried to reason with him, its like Percy said when Greyback was killed. If you
want justice, you have to apply it the same way to everyone, otherwise theres no justice for anyone.
Please spare me the lecture, Hermione. Whats so wrong with making someone you know committed a
crime tell the truth? Im pissed, cant you understand that? I we have plans, Ginnys party is in three
days and He scowled down at the captives. Ginny, I dont think I can go back to the Burrow tonight.
I cant leave the inn alone. Im sorry, but I dont want to go until I know something, at least who these
two are.
Ginny eyes blazed. Im staying with you.
Ginny! Thats ridiculous, you cant Ron started to speak but Harry cut him off.
Ginny, you dont have to do that, he said, but Ginny ignored him.
Shut up, Ron. If you dont want to tell Mum and Dad that I wont be home, then Ill send an owl. But
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Shut up, Ron. If you dont want to tell Mum and Dad that I wont be home, then Ill send an owl. But
Im staying with Harry.
Ron gave Harry a disgruntled look, and Harry shook his head. Ginny, its my problem.
She whirled angrily on him. Oh, so you did all this for me she waved her hand at the inn as
youve been saying over and over all day, and now you think you can pack me off home like a little girl?
I just spent an afternoon helping you make a home here, which you told me was our home, but now its
youre problem? I dont think so, Harry. Her face was less than a foot from his, and her finger
emphasized each point with a hard poke to his chest.
Harry had never been the object of an explosion of Ginnys anger before. On the beach at Shell Cottage
she had seethed and had spoken angrily, but without such righteous vehemence. He looked at her,
chagrined. No, I didnt mean Ginny! She had turned her back on him; he grabbed her shoulder and
spun her around. He took her face in his hands and before she could speak again, he kissed her hard. She
slowly put her arms around him; Ron and Hermione looked at each other and both shrugged at the same
time. Hermione giggled nervously and Harry let Ginnys face go.
Im sorry, he said in a low voice. Please stay with me?
I will always stay with you, she peered up into his eyes. Please never ask me to go away again.
Never, I promise. He kissed her again.
Well, Im glad thats settled, Ron grunted. Ill just stop by the Burrow and announce that Ginnys
spending the night at the Hogs Head Inn with Harry. If I only tell Dad, maybe I can be in Albania before
he tells Mum. If I dont make it there, you can bury me next to Fred.
The others laughed, even though Ron didnt look like he thought he had made a joke. Shell be fine
with it, Ron, Ginny said. Weve talked about things. Shell be okay.
Easy for you to say, two hundred miles away.
There was a loud pop, and a wizard wearing Auror robes Apparated next to the inn. He was tall and
sturdily built, with blond hair and a handsome face. He looked around, then took in the two bodies on the
ground and the three standing over them. He nodded to Ron. Weasley, he greeted him and walked
over to join them. Whats going on? We got an owl at the office from Mr. Potter he nodded to Harry
about a disturbance up here. Did these two do it? he pointed to the figures on the ground. Any
wands?
Uh, this is Pester, Ron mumbled to Harry, as he handed the wand to the Auror. I mean Auror Pester.
Auror Morequest Pester, I mean. Uh, these are Hermione Granger and my sister, Ginny. I mean, this is
Hermione and this is Ginny. Uh, I mean... He stopped his fumbling and turned red. The Auror shook his
head and turned to Harry.
What happened, Potter? What kind of disturbance? Your owl mentioned a broken window. Was that
all? He asked the questions brusquely and almost as if he was bored, then looked impatiently at Harry.
Well, yeah, Harry was taken aback by Pesters attitude. But
And what is that? the Auror indicated the dead weasel cradled in Rons hands.
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This gave Ron back some courage. Its a weasel, a dead weasel. They threw it into the inn after they
broke the window. I think it was killed with an Avada kedavra.
This seemed to get the Aurors attention. Let me see that, he said, still brusquely but no longer bored.
He took the weasel, examined it for a minute, then removed a leather sack from a pocket, stuffed the
carcass into it, and hung it from a hook on his belt.
What are you going to do with it? Ginny asked.
Sometimes you can trace the wand from the spell. But Unforgivable Curses do no physical damage, and
the Killing Curse leaves no magical trace, so its not likely well find anything here. But well try. So tell
me, Miss Weasley, he said to Ginny without pausing, have you heard from Elizabeth Derbys uncles?
When Ginny looked up at him, Harry wondered if the Auror saw the danger in her eyes, and hoped that
Ginny would keep her cool; he held his breath. Hermione looked alarmed and Ron gritted his teeth with
a scowl as Ginny hesitated. If I do, Ill let your boss know right away, she said steadily. I wouldnt
want to add to your heavy workload. She glanced at the sack.
Pesters eyes flickered from her to Harry and back. Thats considerate of you, he said with a sardonic
smile. He turned to Harry. May I see where this all happened? Weasley, stay here with these two, he
indicated the prisoners. Ron looked at Harry and then Hermione in disbelief. He started to protest, but
Pester had already turned away, and Hermione gave Ron a look asking for restraint.
Harry turned without a word and led him through the back door and into the kitchen. He heard Ginny
following, and smiled to himself. Dont mess with Weasley women, he thought. Some of them only
skewer you, but some of them kill.
Winky wasnt in the kitchen; she was standing in the middle of the dining room armed with her trusty
ladle. Pester went to the broken window and looked through it, then took out his wand and walked
around the room, gesturing at the walls and the floor and muttering incantations. Harry and Ginny
glanced at each other; neither one recognized any of the spells. The Auror touched the rock lying on the
floor with his wand, and it glowed blue briefly; he picked it up, put it in his pocket and kept walking.
Finally he stopped in front of Winky.
Where was the elf when this happened? he asked Harry.
What do you mean? Harry said angrily. She had nothing to do with it. Shes my houseelf!
Thats obvious, Potter. Shes not a suspect. Sometimes elves see things that people dont, thats all. He
looked disdainfully at Harry.
Oh. Sorry. She was in the kitchen. Harry felt Ginny behind him, and wished that he had been as quick
witted as she was with the Aurors arrogance. He glanced at her and she touched his hand.
Pester went outside, leaving the door open behind him. Harry started to follow, but he had to take out his
wand and put up a repellent spell when a small cloud of moths and other insects flew into the room
toward the chandeliers. When the Auror came back through the departing bugs he waved his hand at
them, but left the door open. Harry scowled and flicked his wand at the door, which closed with a loud
bang. Pester ignored it and waved his own wand at the shards of glass that still littered the floor.
Reparo, he said offhandedly, and the pieces of glass floated back to the window and formed a new
pane in the empty frame.
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pane in the empty frame.


Thats it, then, he said. Youll get a copy of my report. Im taking the prisoners with me. Without
another word he went back into the kitchen; Harry and Ginny had to scramble to follow. He went outside
to the two captives, not looking at Ron or Hermione, grasped the men by their arms, and all three
disappeared.
What an arrogant twit! said Ginny. How does someone like that get to be an Auror?
Despite his personality, Ron shook his head. Hes one of the best, otherwise hed be sleeping on a
vent in Diagon Alley. Everyone hates him.
Ive heard of him, Hermione said. He worked at the Institute once for a few months but nobody there
could stand him, either. Thats what Madame Septieme said. Hermione was referring to Geneva
Septieme, the famous head of the Arithmancy Institute.
One thing about him, though, Ron added, hes Muggleborn, and the story goes that when the Death
Eaters took over, some of them wanted to arrest him right away, but Riddle himself wanted to keep him.
They say he told Thicknesse to shove his wand up his digestive tract and walked out.
How come he knows you? Harry asked.
The Auror training program. He runs it.
Well, theres an incentive to sign up, Harry grunted. The next time Kingsley asks me to join, Ill tell
him Mr. Pester thinks Im too stupid.
They trooped back inside, where Winky was cleaning up in the kitchen. Is they wanting dessert? she
squeaked.
Harry looked at the others. Not tonight. Im sorry, Winky. Its late. She shrugged and went back to
scrubbing the counters.
Yeah, we need to be going, Ron said. Uh, Ginny, should I tell Mum and Dad when youll be home?
Before noon, she looked at Harry and he nodded. And thanks, Ron. I owe you.
You sure do. He took Hermiones arm, they both waved, and Disapparated.
Id better check the dining room, Harry said, feeling strangely nervous now that Ron and Hermione
were gone. Ginny, too, seemed a little jumpy. They went to the dining room and Harry strode from
window to window, flicking his wand and closing the shutters. He sealed each one and the door. Thatll
keep thugs like them out, at least. Well have to tell Winky not to sleep outside tonight. He lit his wand
and extinguished all the candles.
They went back to the kitchen, but Winky was not in sight. They poked around and finally found her
curled up inside a small cupboard near the fireplace, snoring quietly on a blanket and a pillow. They tip
toed out of the kitchen into the vestibule; Harry sealed the back door, then, with his wand lit, led
Ginny up the stairs. Inside the parlor they looked at each other.
I dont know why Im nervous, Ginny giggled. Lets sit for a bit.
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When they walked around the love seat, Ginny gave a squeal. The rug! Its here! The red shag was on
the floor between the hearth and the love seat. Ginny took off her shoes and socks and stepped onto it.
Ooh, this is nice, she wiggled her toes in the plush pile.Hey. I wonder if the kitchen things came,
too. She went into the kitchen with Harry right behind her, and opened a drawer. Its all here! We can
eat up here tomorrow morning. She looked at Harry. Lets see if the other rug came.
Yes, lets. He took her hand and they crossed the parlor to the bedroom. Harry held up his wand, then
pushed the door open and they looked in. The Persian rug was on the floor, covering most of it, a perfect
complement to the fourposter.
Ginny started to walk into the room, but Harry held back. I thought you wanted to sit for a while.
No, Ginny came back; she put her arms around him and pulled him into the bedroom. You must have
misheard me.
I must have. He kissed her. Um, theres something else. We dont have pajamas. Do you want me to
conjure up a pair for you?
Thats a terrible idea, Ginny kissed him back. We have everything we need. As they kissed again,
they both reached out at the same time and pushed the door closed. Tonight there would be no Dark
Marks, no broken glass or dead animals, no world. Tonight would be only the bedroom and themselves.
Back to index

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Chapter 14: The Big Bash


Author's Notes: The summer of love draws to an end with one final blowout. Have a good time at the
party!
Neither Harry nor Ginny slept much that night, but it was not because they were worried about the inn or
an intruder. Nor was it out of frustration, which had kept them awake when they were staying at Shell
Cottage. It was because whenever either one moved in his or her sleep, the other awoke and could not
fall asleep again, but lay there in wonderment almost disbelief knowing that they were sleeping
together, knowing that their lover was under the same snug covers in a magnificent bed, and could be
touched simply by reaching out a hand.
Whenever they awoke in the night, they reveled in that closeness, in watching the others quiet,
rhythmical breathing, in touching the face lying on the pillow. The presence of the other, so close, so
intimate, so vulnerable, so trusting, was magical. Once, when Harry awoke, Ginny was lying on her side
with her back to him. He put his face into her hair and breathed her smell, becoming dizzy with her
closeness, losing all sense of anything but her body next to his. His hands wandered, and she woke with
a long sigh and turned over to face him. Later, and after they had fallen asleep again, Ginny awoke and
found Harry sleeping on his back. She rested her head on his chest with her hand across his stomach,
tickling his navel until he opened his eyes and pulled her closer.
They slept late and were awakened by the aroma of bacon and coffee. Smells good, came Ginnys
voice from under the covers. Harry sat up and yawned; he pushed the covers back and got out of bed;
Ginny pulled them back up to her chin. Can you get me some breakfast? she smiled and wiggled her
feet under the covers.
Ill be right back. Harry went into the parlor where the sun was streaming into the room; it looked like
another gorgeous day, and Harry felt no dark mood lingering from yesterday. He walked to the large
picture window and looked out, then suddenly realized that he was standing there stark naked. He hastily
retreated into the bedroom.
That was fast, Ginny laughed. Did you forget something? She was putting the locket, which she had
left on the night stand, back around her neck. Her tousled hair kept falling onto her face and she pinned it
back with two barrettes that she also retrieved from the night table. She looked up and saw Harry
watching, his eyes on the locket resting on her bosom. Hey! she said, and covered her chest with her
arms. My breakfast! Harry picked his jeans off the floor and pulled them on, grinned at Ginny, then
left the room again. I hope no one was up in that elm tree! Ginny called after him. Dont be long, Im
starving!
Harry followed his nose into the little kitchen and found two trays on the table laden with breakfast :
glasses of pumpkin juice, slices of toast, bacon, sausages, fresh melon slices, home fries, and mugs of
hot coffee; a pitcher of pumpkin juice was on the counter and a pot of coffee was warming on the stove.
A tub of butter was also on the table.
Marveling at the magical powers of an ordinary houseelf, Harry carried one tray into the bedroom in
his haste he had left his wand next to the bed and put it on Ginnys night stand. He went back with his
wand and levitated his own tray, the coffee pot, the pitcher of pumpkin juice, and the butter, and
followed them all out of the kitchen, across the parlor, and into the bedroom. Ginny had put her blouse
on to Harrys sorrow and was sitting up and eating. He passed her the butter and a knife, then sat
down in bed and attacked his own breakfast. He devoured it, and Ginny smiled to herself, remembering
Fleurs comments at breakfast in the Great Hall two days after the battle, urging Harry to keep up his
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Fleurs comments at breakfast in the Great Hall two days after the battle, urging Harry to keep up his
strength. Harry finally sat back with a satisfied belch and patted his stomach.
How does she do it? he wondered. It was all waiting on the kitchen table, and it was still hot.
Ginny took a leftover slice of bacon from Harrys plate. Im beginning to change my mind about
houseelves. If Mum had one she stopped and put a hand over her mouth. Uh, oh. What time is it?
Theyll start worrying pretty soon if I dont get back.
As if in answer, they heard the clucking of an owl and scrabbling noises at the window on Ginnys side
of the bed. Harry got up and pulled back the curtains; Pigwidgeon was perched on the sill outside, his leg
lifted with a message attached.
Hello, Pig, Harry said as he opened the window. The owl hopped inside and looked around the room.
Harry took the message and read it. Ron says your mum and dad are okay, but your mum says you
should come home as soon as possible. You have a party to prepare for, quote unquote.
Shes right, Ginny said. You might as well send Pig back, though, we dont have anything to write
with. The owl hooted once and flew off,
Ginny put her tray aside and got out of bed. She finished dressing as Harry also dressed and took the
trays to the kitchen. When he came back into the parlor he saw Ginny in the bedroom making the bed.
He started to open the door to the stairs, but she called out, Where are you going? We didnt say good
morning yet.
They stood in front of the picture window and she took his hands.I just spent the best night of my life
with you. Good morning, Harry Potter.
Me, too. Good morning, Ginny Weasley. He brushed a wisp of hair from her face, and she put her
arms around his neck. Harry looked out the window; the fields and meadows lay gleaming under the
early morning summer sun; the leaves on the elm tree rustled in a gentle breeze. Things sure look better
in the light of day, especially after a night like that.
Ginny broke the long silence that followed with a sigh. I really need to get back. You can come later, if
you need to stay.
I dont need to stay. Theres nothing I can do here. Winky will be here and now the Aurors know that
somethings going on. He thought for a moment. If anything does happen, itll just give us more clues
as to whos doing it.
Unless they do some real damage.
I dont think thats what they want, and that would take a lot of people and a lot of effort. I think what
theyre after is just to get at me, maybe through you, but its me they want, not the inn.
Ginny pressed her lips together and frowned. Through me? Do you still think that?
No, dont get me wrong, Gin. Im not saying its too dangerous for you. He grinned. I already learned
that lesson. Im just saying it because it makes sense. He pulled her close and held her as he stroked her
hair; she rested her head on his chest. Im not afraid for you anymore. I just want to be with you and
help get ready for the party.
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The events of the past twentyfour hours had driven Harry to two conclusions. One, it was more
important to him to be with Ginny than to stand guard over a building, even if he had put so much time
and effort into making it a special place for her. And two, her burst of anger last night, followed by her
quick and total forgiveness, brought home how much Ginny felt the same way. And the magic of the
night they had just spent together was something he would do anything to preserve. It didnt need a
specific place, it only needed her.
Lets go then, Ginny gave him a quick peck. She wasnt sure if they should be so quick to leave the
inn unguarded, but Harrys arguments made some sense. She looked into his face and saw what she was
certain was a mirror of her own feelings: it didnt matter where they were. The inn was perfect there
was that word again but she had been separated from him for a year, after their kiss in her room had
sealed a bond, and it had taught her that being alive and being together were the only things that
mattered. Whoever was attacking the inn was attacking both of them. If the inn didnt exist, they would
create another place; wherever their home was, they would both fight for it.
Harry got the trays from the kitchen, piled the pitcher and the coffee pot on top, and they went
downstairs. Winky was sitting on a stool, and pointed to the sink. You puts the dirty dishes in there,
she ordered. Is Harry and Ginny Pott Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley going back to her house now?

Yes, Harry answered as he put the trays in the sink. Its Ginnys birthday party on Saturday. Ill be
back sometime next week, and I expect that Stan will be here this weekend.
Happy birthday, Ginny Weasley, Winky smiled. Next time Ginny is here Winky will make a
chocolate birthday cake.
How did you know? Ginny was astonished.
Winky knows. She slid down from the stool and looked up. Harry Potter must not forget to remove
the magic, or else Winky cannot sleep outside tonight.
You dont have to do that, Harry said. Please, Winky, dont do anything dangerous. Thats what the
Aurors are for. If anything happens, go tell Rosmerta or Tony.
Yes, Winky tells them, and Winky sleeps under the tree and guards the door. She scowled at the floor.
Aurors, she muttered. They is not polite.
Harry looked helplessly at Ginny; she smiled and shook her head. Okay, Harry gave up, just promise
youll be careful.
Winky is always careful. That is why Winky is such a good houseelf.
Ill just be a minute, Harry said to Ginny, and he hurried into the dining room and unsealed the door
and the shutters, which he left closed. Back in the kitchen he took Ginnys hand.
Bye, Winky, Ginny said. Thanks for everything. Can you put strawberry icing on it? Winky nodded
and smiled, then bowed and jumped onto the sink; she stood on the edge, and as Harry closed the door to
the vestibule behind them, he saw a cloud of soap bubbles rise from the sink and engulf the elf.
He unsealed the back door and took a last look at the inn, I hope its still standing in a week, he said.
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I hope thats a joke, Ginny replied.


Yeah, its a joke, Harry grinned. Maybe a halfjoke. He put her arm on his elbow, gave her a kiss,
and they Disapparated back to the Burrow.
Molly Weasley was in the kitchen with Charlie when Harry and Ginny entered. There you are, Molly
said pleasantly. Did you have a good time? You dont have to answer that. She put her hand up to stop
them from speaking, and didnt see Charlie grinning behind her back. Ron didnt say why you decided
to stay, but... She sighed. I suppose you had a good reason. Charlie nodded vigorously, again behind
her back.
Sorry were late, Mum. Yes, we did have a good reason, Ginny said. Hows everyone? she changed
the subject.
Fine. Your fathers at work and everyone else is getting the house ready for your party. She eyed their
rumpled clothes and disheveled appearance. If you give me your dirty clothes Ill start a wash.
Ginny grabbed Harrys arm and headed for the stairs. Right away, Mum, she called over her shoulder
as they both hustled up. Harry glanced back once and saw Charlie watching them, grinning again.
They stopped on the landing outside Ginnys room. I think wed better be on good behavior for a bit,
she said. Go to your room and change, theres a good lad. She patted the top of Harrys head.
You wont recognize me, Ill be so good. Your mum does know the subtle uses of guilt, doesnt she?
Its one of her strong points, and I dont want to experience any of the others if I can help it. So no
hands! She pushed his hand away from her hip and started into her room. She turned back and quickly
kissed him, then jumped inside and closed the door firmly behind her.
Harry climbed to the attic, but when he started to open the door, he heard Ron swear and then
scrambling noises from the far end of the room. He paused and counted to five, then pushed the door
open. Ron and Hermione were lying side by side on Rons bed; Ron was reaching for a Quidditch
magazine from his dresser, and Hermione was struggling to hold up a thick book in one hand and button
her blouse with the other. Their faces were flushed and Hermiones hair, barely controllable under
normal circumstances, was in a state of total disorder.
Why, Harry, how are you? she said with excessive cordiality. When did you get back? Is everything
all right at the inn? Oops. She lost her grip on the heavy book and it slipped to the floor with a thud.
She started to bend over to pick it up, but then she glanced up at Harry, lay back down on the bed and,
abandoning all pretense, finished buttoning her blouse with both hands.
Sorry, Harry couldnt help grinning. Mrs. Weasley wants our dirty clothes. He stood for a moment,
then Hermione jumped up.
Oh, right! Ill just She picked up the book. Advanced Theories 0f Arithmancy she said
breathlessly, and pushed her hair out of her face. I was just telling Ron about it, and oh hell, Harry,
cant you knock first?
Uh, it is my room, Harry was still grinning, and its only the middle of the morning.
Hey, Ron called from behind the magazine, that never stopped some people I know.
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Hey, Ron called from behind the magazine, that never stopped some people I know.
Hermione put her hands on her hips. Thats right, and what difference does it make, anyway? She gave
Harry an exasperated look, and pushed past him and out the door.
Sorry, Harry apologized again to Ron as he started to change his clothes. Maybe we need a signal.
Maybe you need to knock. And dont pull that one about my busting in on you and Ginny last year. I
already paid for that. Green lips, remember? He put down the magazine and sat on the edge of the bed.
Did anything else happen last night?
No, I sealed the place up before we went to I mean I sealed it up and nothing happened. He gathered
up the clothes he had been wearing since yesterday, plus a few more that were scattered on the floor.
Your mum said that everyone was getting the place ready for the party.
Did she? Are they? He glanced out the window. Oh, yeah, theres Fleur. I think shes making
decorations. Harry came over and looked past Ron out the window; he saw Fleur sitting on the grass
near the garden, moving her wand slowly over a blanket that was covered with pieces of colored paper.
Shapes and figures of various kinds formed as her wand passed over. I wonder whats for lunch, Ron
said, and dropped his magazine on the floor. Lets go.
They headed downstairs, and in the kitchen Molly took Harrys clothes and disappeared into the laundry
room. When Harry and Ron sat down at the table, Ginny appeared from the parlor. Everything okay,
my lad? she asked Harry. Hermione said she saw you, and she says we should talk about the inn. She
closed her mouth when her mother re-entered the room. Later, right? He nodded.
After lunch they went down to Freds grave. George and Charlie had put a bench next to the oak tree
facing the headstone, but they sat on the grass; Ginny picked some wildflowers and replaced the sprays
lying on the grave. When she joined them, Hermione started speaking.
Ive been thinking a lot about it, Harry, and I
Wait, Harry said, its Ginnys, too. It was my birthday present to her. Its our inn.
Oh. Hermione looked at Ginny. Thats thats really nice. I hadnt thought of it that way, but sure.
Ginny and Harry smiled at each other, and as Harry reached his hand to her, Ron clapped once, loudly.
Oi, you two! Pay attention!
Okay, Hermione resumed as everyone sat up straight and looked at her. Both of the times that
something happened, you were there, Harry. They could have left the Dark Mark or broken a window at
any time, but they chose to wait until you were there.
Or we all were there, Harry pointed out. They broke the window while we were eating dinner.
Yes, well thats my point. If they were simple vandals, they would have waited until no one was there.
As it was, two of them were caught. They waited until you we were there. The question is, why,
when it was so much riskier?
Because theyre dunces, Ron said.
The ones who threw the stone were dunces, Hermione replied. But whoever Imperiused them is not a
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The ones who threw the stone were dunces, Hermione replied. But whoever Imperiused them is not a
dunce. He or she was actually quite subtle. He knew how badly Ginny would feel about the death of a
weasel, and he knew how much Ginnys being upset would affect Harry. And it almost worked. What
would you have done to them, Harry, if Ginny hadnt stopped you?
Something stupid, Harry admitted. I probably would have hurt them.
Thats what it looked like, Hermione said. And if Pester had shown up and found a couple of
prisoners that you had hur, he wouldnt have bothered with the broken window or the dead weasel. He
might have arrested you. You would have gotten into trouble, Harry.
Harry had no answer to Hermiones logic, but there still were no answers to the bigger question. So
whats your theory about the stone, the Dark Mark, and the two Imperiused blokes? he asked. I think
that someones out to get me, not the inn. After the Dark Mark, I thought that maybe someone else had
had his eye on the inn and wanted to buy it, and got mad when I bought it instead. But to go to all this
trouble just because of that? It doesnt make sense to me.
Hermione looked troubled. I have to admit that I dont see any motive, either. Its almost as if someone
just wants to annoy you. That could change if the attacks become more serious, but right now its a
puzzle.
Harry looked at Ginny. What do you think?
Frankly, I dont care what their motives are, Ginny answered; she had her arms around her knees and
had been looking down at the grass. Now she looked at Harry. Dont get me wrong, I love knowing its
there, and I cant wait to get back, but as long as no one is hurt, even if they blow it up, Ill be sad but it
wouldnt be the end of everything. She glanced at the headstone a few feet away. We have to be like
Fred. We have to fight them, but if were always afraid or if we walk around looking over our shoulders,
then they win.
She smiled and picked up a fuzzy green caterpillar that was inching along Harrys leg. You know what I
havent done yet? she looked at Harry. I havent flown my birthday present. She grinned at Ron and
Hermione. Who wants to play some twoaside Quidditch?
Only Hermione didnt look happy with this suggestion, but Ron pulled her up and dragged her to the old
shed where the familys Cleansweeps were stored. Ginny ran up to her room to fetch her Firebolt, and
they were soon soaring over the clearing with Ginny literally flying circles around the others. They
switched off to give everyone a go on the Firebolt, and even Hermione grinned when she pushed off and
felt the acceleration. She and Harry lost the match badly to Ron and Ginny, and Ginny couldnt help
making a few jokes about it.
So, she asked Harry as they trudged back to the house, is it the wizard or is it the broomstick? What
makes someone the best Quidditch player at Hogwarts? Or is it that his Quidditchloving girlfriend
made him powerful?
Lets see you captain a Cup winner first before you start bragging, Harry laughed. You werent my
girlfriend until after the Ravenclaw match.
Ah, but I should have been.
I wont argue with that, he said.
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And a wise decision that is, Ron quipped.


But Ginny noticed, through all the banter, that something was bothering Harry. She had an idea of what
it was, but as they approached the Burrow and before she could pull him aside to ask, her mother opened
the door.
Less than two days to the party, she said, standing aside to let them in. Its good of you all to come
back and give the rest of us a hand.
They looked at each other guiltily, and spent the rest of the day helping with party preparations. Ginny
had invited several dozen guests, so there was plenty to do: food, house cleaning, getting the tent ready
to set up, and sending owls out with various kinds of orders it was the first time that Bailey got to
deliver a message for Ginny, and she took to it with enthusiasm. Dinner time came and went, and Ginny
finally had a chance to ask Harry what had been troubling him.
You miss Hedwig, dont you? Dusk was starting to settle and they lay in the small, cleared space in
the middle of the field down the lane; fireflies blinked around them and bats flitted overhead. Ginnys
head rested on Harrys stomach and she heard an occasional gurgle as her mothers eggplant lasagna was
digested.
Harry stroked her hair with one hand and Ginny held his other firmly in place on her collarbone; its
fingers had been tracing her lips and then the hand had started to stray southward. Why do you ask?
he said. She didnt answer, and finally he grunted. How did you know?
You were a little bit sad after we played Quidditch, but I didnt think it was because of the broomstick
you lost. I know that Sirius gave it to you, but I think it was more than that.
Youre right. Thinking of the broom made me think of Hedwig. I lost them both at the same time. But it
wasnt just your Firebolt that made me think of her. Its Bailey, too. She looks at you the same way
Hedwig used to look at me. His voice broke and Ginny lifted his hand and kissed it.
Do you think youd ever want to get another owl? she asked softly.
Ive been thinking about it. It certainly would have been helpful last night at the inn.
She turned her head and smiled at him. If you do get one, get a barn owl, a male.
Why on earth would we want to have boy and girl barn owls? Harry laughed as Ginny punched his
leg. So tell me, have I been a good lad today? You said it would only have to be for a bit. Is it a bit yet?

Ginny kissed his hand again, then put it on her chest and let go. Look, she pointed up at the sky, the
stars are coming out. Dont you love it when the stars first start to...mmm She could no longer speak
because Harry had stopped being a good lad.
Saturday, the day of the big bash, finally came. The weather was not perfect it was mostly overcast
but George and Charlie told Ginny that if it started to rain, one of them would distract their father while
the other cast a weather charm to keep the Burrow dry. The tent that Bill, Hermione, and Mr. Weasley
had been preparing was standing behind the garden. It was very large, covering about a quarter of the
area of a Quidditch pitch; its sides were rolled up and its roof was painted in stripes of vivid colors: red,
yellow, blue, green, orange, and silver. A bandstand stood at one end and extended outside onto the lawn
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yellow, blue, green, orange, and silver. A bandstand stood at one end and extended outside onto the lawn
so that the band could play to both the inside and the outside. Magic lanterns, streamers, balloons, and
thousands of Ginnys favorite red paper cutouts were hung from trees and poles all around the house.
Tables were set up to hold the food and drinks.
The band arrived around ten oclock to set up their equipment and run sound checks. Five Hufflepuffs
had started it a few months ago, including Neville Longbottoms girlfriend, Keesha Baker, who played
drums; they called themselves The Huffle Badgers. Ginny stayed nearby as they worked so she could
chat with Keesha; all of her close friends except Luna had graduated, and she hoped that she and Keesha
could hit it off. They talked during breaks, and discovered that they had much in common. Keesha had
five brothers although she was not the youngest and she loved Quidditch, although she had learned,
much to her disappointment, that she just wasnt that good a flyer. Ginny also liked the idea that she,
Luna, and Keesha were each from a different House.
Guests started arriving in the late afternoon. Neville, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, and the Patil twins
arrived together; Lavenders battle wounds had healed, but she had a scar on her forehead that she and
Harry joked about all night. Luna and her father drifted in. Dennis Creevey showed up without anyone
noticing him for several minutes, until Percy bent over with his hands on his knees and asked if he was
lost and needed to find his parents. After Bill had reversed the ensuing Conjunctivitis curse and repaired
Percys eyeglasses, Ginny came over and lifted Dennis in a Mollylike hug that left the tiny boy
breathless for ten minutes. Dennis wanted to see Freds grave he had not been at the funeral and all
the students who had arrived, plus Harry, Ron, and Hermione, trooped down to the oak tree. Dennis put
a single rose on the grave, and took photos with Colins camera of everyone standing around it.
Soon members of the Order of the Phoenix started arriving. The Floo Network Authority had set up a
special interchange for the party, and for a while George and Percy had to stand on either side of the
fireplace and hustle the arrivals out of the way to keep the passage from becoming clogged. Kingsley
Shacklebolt and Saliyah Ushujaa were both magnificent in their colorful robes; Kingsley wore the largest
gold earring anyone had ever seen. Molly and Bill intercepted Mundungus Fletcher as he emerged from
the fireplace and frightened him so much with threats of retribution if so much as a napkin was missing
after the party, that he spent the next hour cowering in the garden with the gnomes. Ginny saw him and
took pity; she brought him some birthday cake which by that time had been cut. Dung swore on the head
of the gnome sitting next to him that he would not touch anything, and Ginnys gesture moved him so
much that he started following her around like a puppy.
As it began to grow dark, it also began to drizzle. True to their word, Charlie lured his father into the
house with a false report of a drunken Muggle wandering in the front yard, while George coordinated
the casting of a weather charm with an extremely loud crescendo from the band to cover up the noise it
would make. The charm worked and the drizzle stopped, but the magically amplified chord broke most
of the windows on the side of the Burrow facing the tent. Arthur and Charlie came running outside to see
why shards of glass had just started raining on them, and Charlie and George had to spend a good deal
of time repairing the damage.
The band was loud and excellent, and everyone danced under the tent and out on the lawn. The
butterbeer flowed, the tables were laden with food, and the cake was massive, almost four feet high, with
alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla, covered with dark chocolate icing. There were gallons of ice
cream with buckets of strawberries and whipped cream. Ginny had told everyone that she didnt want
people to bring presents because there would have been too many, but a few people did, nevertheless,
and Harry snuck them up to her room while Molly wasnt looking.
During a band break, Harry and Ginny rounded up Ron and Hermione, and they went over to a table in a
relatively quiet corner of the tent where Kingsley, Saliyah, and Professor McGonagall were sitting. They
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relatively quiet corner of the tent where Kingsley, Saliyah, and Professor McGonagall were sitting. They
all greeted Ginny with happy birthday wishes, and then Harry asked if they could speak about something
more serious for a moment.
Do you mean about the incident in Hogsmeade this week? Saliyah asked. Auror Pester hasnt given
me his report yet. She frowned slightly. The Imperio that was worked on the two men you stunned is
proving difficult to break. And we think it was placed in conjunction with an Obliviate, so even if we can
lift the one, the other may keep us from learning much.
Then whoever put them up to it is a very talented wizard, said Hermione.
Saliyah nodded. Or witch. Dont make assumptions. But if someone is going to that much trouble for
such a petty thing as throwing a rock through a window
I dont think its petty at all! Ginny said warmly. Your werent there. And they killed a weasel, too!
She looked around; she had spoken more loudly than she had intended, and hoped that her parents hadnt
heard. She knew how upset it would make her mum, and she didnt want an argument about her
spending time at the inn.
We cant say anything about motives until we know who is behind it, Saliyah said calmly, but, in
itself, all they did was commit the minor crime of petty vandalism. If there is anything more sinister
going on, well just have to wait and see.
But, Harry said, who would go to the trouble of doing pretty complicated magic on those two blokes,
just to commit petty vandalism?
Well, Harry, Saliyah smiled at him, in my business you see all kinds of strange behavior. For
example, earlier in the afternoon of that same day, there was some strange behavior in The Three
Broomsticks, apparently directed at you. Do you think there could be a connection?
Shes just a tramp, Harry said and scowled. I hired a houseelf instead of her and she got angry.
Shes ill, if you ask me.
From my point of view shes interesting. Why would a simple village girl start exhibiting herself in
public when she has no previous history of deviant behavior?
Professor McGonagall had been listening with interest, and now she spoke for the first time. I have to
say, Saliyah, that, bizarre as Miss Southebys actions were, Ive seen it happen before. Simple, sweet,
uneducated witches are sometimes drawn to Hogsmeade because of the presence of so many young and
talented wizards at the school. This one has taken her attempts to attract Harrys attention to an extreme,
but if you should come to the village on a Hogsmeade weekend, you would be astonished at the parade
along the High Street.
Ive heard about that, Minerva, Kingsley said; he laughed and his earring shook and glittered in the
light from the magic lanterns hanging in the tent. But I never saw it when I was there. Born too soon, I
suppose.
The Headmistress smiled. You should be glad of that, Minister. Every fall we have to deal with the
products of the previous years liaisons. It would serve a social purpose if the Ministry would soften its
opposition to the public teaching of certain medical charms to unmarried and sometimes underaged
witches.
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Ah, I agree with you completely, Kingsley replied. But the rural Scottish wizarding community is a
little, shall we say, conservative, especially about sex. Keep pushing your agenda, though, Headmistress.
You will not get any resistence from me.
Harry cleared his throat. This is all extremely interesting, and I mean that, he grinned. But Id like to
know who is vandalizing my inn.
We will find out, Harry, Saliyah declared with arched eyebrows, but I cant say when. When Auror
Pester has finished with the two men you captured, we will know.
How will you do that? Ginny asked. We heard that youre not using Veritaserum any more.
Well, the Head Aurors brow creased, and she hesitated slightly, there are other ways to get at the
truth. She glanced at Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Ive temporarily banned it from the Ministry, Kingsley said. There are those who disagree with me,
he nodded to Saliyah, but my feeling is that if the case against someone is not strong enough to stand on
its own, then a suspect shouldnt be forced to speak against his will because of our inability to prove him
guilty.
But thats not the Head Auror snapped her mouth shut and looked peevishly away from the Minister.
She smiled tightly at Harry. You see that we have our differences.
And in our kinder and more civil government than what was in place a few months ago, we can speak
about our differences without fearing an Unforgivable Curse, Kingsley smiled broadly. He put his hand
on Saliyahs, and she shrugged.
There was a flourish from the band and everyone looked toward the bandstand. The last set of the night
was about to roll, and Ginny jumped up. Come on, Harry, lets party! Its my birthday, remember?
Thanks, Saliyah. She nodded to the Minister and the Headmistress and pulled Harry out of his seat. He
waved goodbye and followed Ginny to the dance floor, along with Ron and Hermione.
The band and Ginnys friends rocked on into the night. By midnight all of the older witches and wizards
had departed except for Mundungus Fletcher, who sat next to the stage right under the drum set, tapping
his toes and nodding his head to Keeshas beat. A half an hour later the final chord blasted a few more
windows out of the Burrow, and a loud and long cheer rang out from the tired and happy crowd. Ginny
jumped up on the stage and hugged all the band members. Then she raised her arms and everyone grew
quiet; the silence sounded strange in everyones ringing ears.
First of all, she said, and everyone cheered. Wait! I havent said anything yet, she laughed.
It doesnt matter, Luna called; she hadnt gotten down yet from her perch on Dean Thomass
shoulders, where she had ended up during the last dance. You talk, we scream. Everyone cheered
again, and Ginny laughed again.
Okay, but there is something serious I want to say. Again there was quiet. Were all going down to
my brothers grave, and were going to have a remembrance for Colin Creevey and everyone else who
died. Now there was dead silence, and all the faces looking up at her were somber. I want everyone to
think of someone who was lost, and were going to say all their names, and if anyone has a story about
them, they can tell it. We were also going to have a reunion of Dumbledores Army a huge roar went
up and didnt stop until Ginny turned to the band for help, and they broke three more windows in the
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up and didnt stop until Ginny turned to the band for help, and they broke three more windows in the
house. I know that not everyone here was with us at the beginning, Ginny continued, but everyone
was with us at the end! She lifted her arms as she shouted out the last words, and an even louder roar
threatened to lift the roof off the tent.
She stepped down from the stage, and she, Harry, and Dennis, with Ron and Hermione, led everyone to
the grave: George, Lee, Luna, Neville, Dean, Seamus, Parvati and Padma, Terry, Ernie, Michael,
Lavender, Angelina, Katie, Hannah, Justin, Susan, Alicia, Anthony, Zacharias, and Cho Chang who
had come to the party because Harry, at Ginnys request, had sent her a special invitation all followed.
Behind them came the rest: The Huffle Badgers with Keesha in the lead, Ginnys other brothers, and the
other students and friends who she had invited to the party. There were about fifty altogether, and they
gathered around Freds grave.
George had left a large box of candles on the bench under the oak tree, and everyone took one and lit it
with their wands. The light of fifty candles illuminated their faces and the headstone. Ginny kissed
Denniss cheek and he stepped into the middle of the circle; tears were streaming down his face.
I I want to say something about m my brother Colin, he said in a choked voice. Hes ddead. Im
not sure what that means, because whenever I look into his camera, I think I ssee him there. He
stopped and covered his eyes with his hand, and his body trembled. Ginny came and hugged him. He
looked at her and shook his head as he sobbed. I ccant, he said, and turned and walked through the
crowd; he sat curled up on the bench, crying.
Harry saw tears on other faces as well. He stepped forward and spoke. When I think of Colin, I
remember a funny firstyear kid with a camera glued to his face, always taking pictures. He was
Muggle-born, and he had his first taste of the war pretty early on. He always used to say All right,
Harry whenever he saw me. I guess sometimes it got on my nerves a little, but he was a funny guy, like
I said, and he was always laughing. He was one of the reasons we won, because he never gave up. He
might have been shorter than some of us, but he showed us all how to be tall. He placed his candle on
the grave, and when he turned back his face was wet.
After a few moments of silence, Ginny raised her candle. I want to talk about someone I didnt know
very well until a few minutes before she died. Her name was Elizabeth Derby, and she didnt have to
stay at the castle because she was only fifteen. But she did stay, and I was with her when she died. I was
holding her hand, and Ill never forget it as long as I live, and I wont forget her either. Tears streaked
her face and she bowed her head. She looked up again. My brothers and my best friends know that I
dont cry very much, but whenever I think of her, I cant help it. She put her candle on Freds grave,
then stepped back, and Harry put his arm around her.
Luna moved into the center and stood over the headstone. She smiled at it and then looked around; she
seemed surprised to see everyone there. This is so nice, she said cheerfully. I think all of our dead
friends would like this, too, and theyre probably watching us and thinking, I wish I was there with them.
I know that I would. She looked down at Freds grave again. I knew Elizabeth. She was very pretty
because she was a Veela, and she was very beautiful because she was a nice person. I miss her. I think
she would have liked this party, even though she didnt like loud music. She bent down and put her
candle on the grave, and walked back into the crowd, smiling at everyone around her.
Others stepped forward and talked about friends and family who had died or been injured in the battle.
George was the last, and by the time he walked forward, there were dozens of candles on Freds grave.
He sighed, then sat on the headstone and looked around at the faces lit by candlelight. I appreciate what
everyone is doing here, he said, and I confess that I still have moments, lots of moments, when I cant
believe that my brother isnt here anymore. Those times are tough to handle, and sometimes I dont
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believe that my brother isnt here anymore. Those times are tough to handle, and sometimes I dont
know how I can go on with my life without him. But then I think of something, and Im going to tell you
what that is. What I think is, if Fred could see all of you now, he would do two things. First he would
laugh, and then he would set off a Weasleys WhizzBang inside your pants.
Oh, no! said Ron loudly, and at that instant the remaining candles in the box on the bench, plus all the
candles on Freds grave, shot into the air and burst into the most brilliant display of WildFire Whiz
Bangs since Fred and Georges departure from Hogwarts two and a half years ago. Dennis Creevey
leaped up from the bench with a shriek. People still holding candles threw them into the air where they
joined the conflagration, to cheers and screams of delight. Ginny flung herself at George, knocking him
off the headstone, and they tumbled on the grave holding each other, and they couldnt stop laughing.
Back to index

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Chapter 15: Melancholy Baby


Author's Notes: The end of the summer comes... It's a longish chapter, but I hope not tedious. And
thanks to everyone who nominated Hogs Head for the DSTAs.
The skies lightened in the east on an overcast Sunday morning, and the denizens of the tent began to stir.
No one had gone home after the pyrotechnics. They had pulled the sides of the tent down and slept
scattered about on conjured cushions, on the grass floor, or sitting in chairs. Ginny and Harry had dozed
off with their backs against the bandstand, surrounded by their friends.
Ginny was one of the first to rouse and stagger outside into a damp and blustery day that felt like it
would become a rainy one. She went into the Burrow, where her mother was in the kitchen brewing large
pots of coffee while Fleur and Charlie prepared trays of warm pastries. They levitated the assembled
breakfast out to the tent, and the aromas gradually awoke everyone who was not already up; Harry took
a cherry danish from the platter that Ginny passed around.
This was a great party, said Luna as she picked the cheese filling out of a croissant with her finger.
Its a good way to end the summer. She stuffed the empty shell into her mouth and stood holding the
cheese in her hand. Does anyone want this?
Dean scraped the cheese off Lunas hand and deposited it onto his plate; he put it down and wiped off
his hands. So Harry, when will the Hogs Head open?
When the Hogwarts Express pulls into Hogsmeade Station on September first. Well be there to meet
it.
Who? said Luna.
Me and Ginny. Well have snacks and drinks for everyone. For free.
Luna nodded and looked around; Ginny was on the bandstand talking to Keesha, who was packing up the
instruments with the rest of the band. Okay, Luna said, I guess Ill see you then. Bye everyone. She
waved to no one in particular and Disapparated.
When did she learn how to do that? Neville asked, staring at the spot Luna had just vacated.
Two weeks ago, said Dean.Shes a natural. She got her license three days ago.
Soon the rest of the young people who had stayed overnight followed Luna. The tent was struck, the
decorations taken down, and quickly the Burrow was back to normal. Bill and Fleur left early in the
afternoon, and by evening Percy, George, Ron, and Hermione had also departed. Charlie would be
staying for two more days to take care of some business he had at the Ministry with a dragon
conservationist in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
It would have been depressingly quiet for Ginny, except that she had to begin getting ready for school.
She had procrastinated with everything cleaning, books, supplies, clothes, and robes and now she had
only two weeks to do everything. Harry had to be at the inn, getting it ready for the grand opening, so
they decided that Ginny would spend the next week but preparing for school, and Harry would likewise
concentrate on the inn. They would at least get to see each other in the evenings, and they hoped that
they could spend the final week of summer together.
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Maybe we can stay at the inn all week. Harry had a suggestive smile as they lounged on the sofa in the
parlor late Sunday evening; the remnants of the party had finally been cleaned up, and Ginnys parents
and Charlie had gone to bed. It had rained all day, and it was still coming down strong, so a ramble in
the countryside was not in the cards.
Id like that, Ginny purred with her head in his lap; Harry was tracing her freckles with his fingers.
Lets make that our goal. Percy was telling us last night in the tent that everyone should have goals.
Good, thatll be our goal, then. And we can tell Perce that he helped bring purpose and achievement
into our lives.
Ginny chuckled, but then she grew silent. She took his hand and entwined their fingers.
What is it, love? Harry asked.
She smiled at his endearment. Nothing. I was just thinking about us. What do you think will happen
after the school year?
You said it exactly, Us.
I know, but what do you think will happen? Do you really want to work at the inn, always? Ill have to
figure out what to do, too. There wasnt much career counseling last year.
Harry began combing her hair with his fingers; he did it whenever he got the chance. I guess I havent
thought about it. I just knew, the day after the battle, that I wanted to be with you, whatever I did.
Maybe you should start thinking about it, at least a little.
Sure. Harrys fingers slid gently through her hair. But lets get through this week first. Our goal,
remember?
Olay, Ginny smiled. I suppose we have plenty of time to think about next year. She pulled his head
down and they kissed until Harry leaned too far and they rolled, giggling, onto the floor. There was some
intense snogging until Ginny enforced the house rule no lovemaking inside and they forced
themselves upstairs and into their separate bedrooms.
The rain never let up all week, which made their chores that much more unpleasant. Ginny spent a soggy
day in Diagon Alley rounding up books; a new cauldron and advanced potionmaking equipment for
Professor Slughorns N.E.W.T. class; writing supplies she planned to send an owl to Harry in
Hogsmeade every night and a broomstick servicing kit that Harry insisted on paying for. She had to get
it all back home in a drenching downpour, and when some of the Floo powder flamed in her hand, she
came crashing out of the fireplace in the kitchen and sprawled on the floor at her mothers feet with her
parcels scattered everywhere. She spent the rest of the day organizing her textbooks, mending clothes,
and coaxing Bailey to go out hunting even though the owl clearly disliked the rain. But mostly she stared
moodily out the window of her bedroom, missing Harry and counting the hours and minutes until he
returned.
Harry spent his days ordering supplies, planning meals, helping Stan organize the bar, and keeping
Winky out of Stans hair. The elf had definite territorial feelings about the inn, and she often tested
Stans good nature with forays behind the bar. She lectured him on how to organize the glasses and mugs
in the overhead racks, the best temperature to keep mead at, and how to fold napkins properly so that
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in the overhead racks, the best temperature to keep mead at, and how to fold napkins properly so that
they stood up like little white tents on the table tops. Harry tried to keep her out of the dining room, but
he eventually gave in to her mulish persistence and told Stan he would deal with her later.
Harry also had to buy furniture for the flat. He talked it over with Ginny on Monday evening back at the
Burrow, and they decided that she would make another trip into Diagon Alley. She went back on
Thursday morning and found a tiny storefront next to Fortescues old ice cream store that magically
opened up inside into a huge furniture warehouse. The manager, a brisk young witch, was a
Metamorphagus, judging from the everchanging shapes of her nose and ears. The constant shape
shifting finally became too annoying for Ginny, and she walked out having bought only a set of dressers.
She figured that they had chairs for the kitchen, the love seat for the parlor, and the bed for the bedroom,
and that was enough for the time being.
Harry came home tired every night, usually after dinner and in the rain. The weather kept them indoors,
and so they stayed up late until Molly and Arthur had gone to bed so that they could have some privacy
in the parlor. This made Harry even more tired the following day, and by Thursday Ginny was becoming
worried about his Apparitions. The rain slowed to a fine drizzle in the evening, and when the usual
feeling came over her that he was on his way, she went out and waited by the gate. When he finally
popped into the lane, he staggered and Ginny ran to meet him.
Are you all right? She started counting his fingers and feeling his face; everything was intact, and she
kissed him. Is everything okay at the inn? There had been no more incidents, but Ginny worried, and
she also had it in the back of her mind that Turquoise Southeby would show up, especially since the tart
probably knew that Harry was alone at there all day.
Everythings fine, he said wearily. Nothing happened, and thats a problem. We were supposed to get
a shipment of that new Potio Vitae drink, but the supplier sent an owl. Theyre having problems with the
quality, which doesnt really inspire confidence, does it? They started walking back to the house as
large raindrops began splattering around them. Harry put his traveling cloak over Ginnys head and his
arm around her shoulder. God, I missed you. I had to use this all day, just to keep myself sane, but
instead it drove me crazy. He laughed and pulled the silver chain from inside his shirt and pressed the
shiny cylinder to his lips. Ginnys scent filled the damp air, and Harry stopped and put his arms around
her. He kissed her fiercely, lifting her off the ground as he did. They stopped kissing only when a
simultaneous flash of lighting and clap of thunder made them jump. They ran through the pelting rain to
the house, and Harry started to open the door but Ginny stopped him. They were soaked and getting
wetter as she took his face in her hands. Harry, she whispered, come to my room tonight.
What? Harry wasnt sure if had heard her right through the rumbles of thunder and the torrents of rain.
I thought you didnt...
Just be very quiet. Youll have to pass my parents room. she kissed him again and opened the door.
Her mother was waiting with her wand, and quickly had them dry and warm. She also had a large bowl
of hot vegetable soup and a loaf of fresh bread ready for Harry, and bustled him to the table. He sat
down with a sigh, and smiled up at her. Youre the best, Mrs. Weasley. She tousled his hair, which
was still damp, and turned to the sink before he could see her blush.
The storm continued; the rain drummed against the windows of the house, and sometimes the flashes of
lightning were so close together that it seemed like daylight outside. Harry and Ginny stayed with her
parents in the parlor in front of a crackling fire; they lay on the hearth side by side, poking at the fire
with sticks of wood.
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Harry, Arthur said in a lull of the storm, have you heard anything from the Ministry yet about the
rockthrowing incident?
Harry rolled over onto his elbow. The two chaps we caught were Obliviated, so they didnt learn
anything from them. And no ones reported a missing person that fits their descriptions, either. And it
looks like one of them is a Squib.
Molly shook her head and clucked. It sounds to me like a practical joke. I should think they could tell
something from their clothes or their accents. She reached up and replaced a skein of yarn for one of
her enchanted knitting needles; another maroon sweater was finished.
Nope, nothing, Harry replied, and rolled over onto his stomach again. I wish it was just a joke, but I
dont think so. He put his head down on his arms and yawned, and Ginny began to massage his
shoulders. Id better go to bed, he yawned again. I have to get back early tomorrow. The beverage
bloke will be there at eight.
I think its time for everyone to go to bed, said Molly. She plucked her knitting project out of the air
and stood up. Come on, Arthur, its a good night for snuggling.
Ginny and Harry smiled to each other as her parents left the room. They knew that Arthur and Molly
were giving them time alone, but now Harry wanted to get upstairs as soon as possible.
Are you sure? he whispered on the landing in front of Ginnys room; she nodded. How long should I
wait?
Until youre desperate, she giggled. But maybe you can wait until the thunder gets loud. I dont think
theyd hear a herd of dragons through that.
Harry gave her a quick kiss he didnt trust himself to do more and hurried upstairs. He put on his
pajamas and lay on top of his covers, trying not to think of Ginny. He considered getting out his
Invisibility Cloak, but decided that he didnt want her parents to suspect that he was sneaking around
their house; if he was caught, he would just have to think of an excuse.
Finally, after an hour of agony, the storm, mirroring Harrys emotional state, intensified, and he slipped
out of the attic room and crept downstairs as quietly as he could. On the first landing, he waited until
several flashes of lightning appeared within a few seconds of each other, and started toward Ginnys
room. Just as the thunder began to peal, he reached her door and went inside.
He stood for a moment in front of the door. When the rolls of thunder died down, he heard clucking and
the sound of Bailey shifting on her perch. Come here! Ginny said in a loud whisper. He walked to her
bed, and she lifted the covers, inviting him in. Why are you wearing pajamas? she whispered.
Harry was eating breakfast the next morning with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley when Ginny came sleepily
downstairs in her dressing gown and with totally disheveled hair; she was running her fingers through it,
trying without much success to untangle it. Arthur was reading the Prophet and briefly looked up and
greeted her, but her mum surveyed her with slightly raised eyebrows. Ginny sat down next to Harry, who
was trying not to look at her, certain that if he did his expression would give away everything. It didnt
help when she put her hand on his leg under the table, but he managed not to choke on the slice of toast
he was eating.
Ginny yawned. Is it still raining? she asked, staring groggily straight ahead at the wall.
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Ginny yawned. Is it still raining? she asked, staring groggily straight ahead at the wall.
Look out the window, dear, her mother tsked. It never stopped.
Ginny glanced outside, then patted Harrys hand. Im sorry. This weather is awful. Youll be careful,
wont you?
Sure, Harry smiled at her. And if I can take care of the beverage delivery and a couple of other
things, Ill be back early.
Good. Do you have it? She put her hand on his chest and felt the Bouquedelle under his shirt. Harry
smiled again and held her hand against it until he became aware of her mother staring at them. He got up
and took his dishes to the sink, then took his traveling cloak from its hook by the door. He said goodbye
to Molly and Arthur, and Ginny followed him into the parlor; he had decided to Disapparate there
because of the weather. He kissed her goodbye, a little more passionately than his usual morning
farewell, and vanished.
Ginny dragged herself back to the kitchen but didnt sit down. I think Ill skip breakfast right now,
Mum, she yawned again. I didnt sleep very well. All that thunder kept waking me up.
Molly watched her go upstairs and waited until she heard the door close, then began clearing the table.
Did you see them? she asked Arthur.
He put the paper down. Yes, they both seemed a little tired. The storm, I suppose.
Molly snorted. There was a storm all right. She clattered the dishes in the sink, then stopped and said,
without looking at him, What do you think about Ginnys staying at the inn next week?
What? When did that happen?
Dont you listen? She told us two days ago that she might do it. It bothers me. Theyre moving along
too quickly.
Arthur sighed; he didnt want to start this conversation five minutes before he had to leave for work.
Can we talk about it later? he asked. But, he added hastily, seeing her scowl, it wont be the end of
the world if Im fifteen minutes late. And speaking of which, it wont be the end of the world if Ginny
lives with him for a few days, either.
Im not talking about death and destruction, Molly said irritably. Im talking about whats sensible
and whats not. Her face softened. I have no doubt about their love for each other, its just that theyre
moving along so fast. Were you aware that Harry spent a good part of the night in her room last night?
Arthur passed his hand over his eyes. He shook his head. No, and Im not sure I want to know.
Are you saying you want to hide your head in the sand?
Of course not. It wasnt the smartest thing for them to do, but on the other hand... You might not like
my saying this, Molly, but to be totally honest about it, they couldnt get outside by themselves all week,
and we both know what they do out there. A couple of weeks ago you said you didnt know what the
right thing to do was. Well, you were right then, and you would still be right if you said the same thing
now.
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Molly sat down and smiled wanly. Shell be gone in less than two weeks. She shook her head and
dabbed at her eyes. I suppose for her its not happening fast enough.
Arthur got up and put his arms around her. Ill say to you what you said to me. Just consider who she
chose, and look at what hes doing for her. Could we ask for more?
She shook her head wordlessly, and her eyes brimmed over. Go to work, she said. Youll be late.
Ginny went back to bed and burrowed under the covers. Harrys scent was still on the pillow and she
buried her face in it. She felt a little guilty about violating her house rule, but only a little. The
important thing was her and Harry, and when he came home last night she had seen discouragement and
weariness in his eyes. He was working so hard just to please her, and she couldnt stand to see him like
that.
But the night in her bed had quite changed his mood, because when she finally pushed him out her door
just before dawn, he was joking about cutting his fourposter in half down the middle so that they could
be as close together there as they were in her narrow bed. She had stood on the landing outside her room,
gazing up the stairs for minutes after he had gone into his room, and she had barely closed her door in
time to avoid being seen by her mum, who was just coming out of her own room.
As Ginny now lay in bed hugging her pillow, she thought about the coming year and wondered how she
was going to get her school work done, with Quidditch practices on top of that. She knew that Harry
wouldnt be helpful; he would want her to be at the inn as often as possible. Somehow, they would have
to work it out; she didnt know how, but it was, after all, a nice problem to have...
She drifted off to sleep under snug covers while the rain beat on her window.
At that moment Harry was sitting at a table in a corner of the dining room of the Hogs Head Inn,
scowling at a parchment he had just taken from an owl that had arrived a short time ago. The message
was from Jake Sipper, the owner of Sippers Beverage and Tea Emporium. He was informing Harry,
regretfully, that the shipment of butterbeer, mead, tea, coffee, and the new drink that was all the rage in
the Wizarding world, Potio Vitae, had been delayed again because of the weather and continuing
quality problems. He apologized, and assured Harry that it wasnt his fault but that he was working as
hard as possible to resolve the problem.
Harry slammed the parchment on the table and stood up. Stan looked at him from behind the bar where
he was cleaning the inlaid mirror and its ornate, gilded frame. No shipment this morning, Arry?
Harry shrugged. Who knows? He doesnt say when itll come. Ill have to wait all day until either it
comes or he tells me it wont be coming. And if he wants to deliver it on the weekend, Ill have to stay
here the whole damn time. He swore again. Why cant it be easy, or at least not so damn aggravating?
Hes been promising this for three days now. He sat back down as abruptly as he had stood up.
I told you before, Arry, I can sign for it if you want. Stan put down the cloth he had been polishing
the frame with. I dont mind. Arriet can take some time and wait with me.
Harry looked out a window at the steady rain. It was cooler and damper here in the north, a thoroughly
dismal day. He hadnt slept much last night. He could leave the inn in Stans capable hands and return to
Ginny his hand strayed to the Bouquedelle under his shirt but he knew that would be wrong. He had
been admonished by Rosmerta and lectured by George about having to take responsibility if he also
wanted to own the business; that was the only way to make it succeed, they both had assured him.
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wanted to own the business; that was the only way to make it succeed, they both had assured him.
Besides, he felt guilty about dumping it all on Stan. Harry had begun to realize that Stan was so grateful
to him for giving him a job while he still bore, in some peoples minds, the stigma of being a Death
Eater, that he would do almost anything for Harry. Harry didnt want that, did not like that kind of
devotion, had never asked for it. He liked Stan a lot, and was grateful himself for a barkeep so competent
and so easy to work with.
No, thanks, Stan, he sighed. I really appreciate it, but Sippers expecting me to be here. Its all right.
Ill just have to wait. He stood up again and walked to the front door. He opened it and saw rain. Above
his head hung the empty brackets that the sign with the beheaded boar had hung from, and he realized
that he needed to make a another decision.
He turned back to Stan. Okay, its time to pick a name. Ive put it off too long. What shall we call this
place? Do we keep the old name? Do we name it Harrys Hangout, or Heaven Inn Hogsmeade, or the
Eight Broomsticks, or what? What do you think? He closed the door and went to the bar and sat on a
stool.
Stan began polishing the counter, which he did constantly, no matter that he hadnt served a single
customer yet. What about Ginny? As she told you what she likes?
She doesnt like Gins Joint, which was her brothers idea, but she does like Harrys Cosy Little Inn,
which isnt on my short list. So she told me to pick a name, and if she doesnt like it, shell decide for
me.
Stan chuckled. Ive told you, keep the old name. Everyone knows it, thats what its been called since
forever. If you change it, I bet people will still call it the ogs ead, or the old ogs ead. You wont get
anyone to call it anything else, Ill bet a weeks pay on it.
Harry laughed, glad to be cheered by Stans good humor. But we also want people to know that its
new, that its cheerful. I want people to come here and have a good time.
If the foods good and the drinks are big, word will get around. Then youll ave the best of both.
Everyone will know the name, and everyone will know its not a dump anymore.
Hmm. Harry pondered for a few moments. Well, thats possible. It would be the easiest thing to do.
What about the sign? I refuse to put up anything remotely like the old one.
Arriets a good artist, did you know that? Shes done lots of things for Rosmerta, like signs, pictures
for the walls, stuff like that. I can ask er it she has any ideas.
I like that, Harry nodded. Why dont you do that, ask her to paint a sign for us, but something a little
less gruesome than a decapitated pig.
Stan grinned. Shell like that, too, Arry. Thanks.
Harry was starting to feel better. So we accomplished at least one thing today. Now we just need the
beverage man to show up. He stretched and yawned. Do you mind watching the place for a bit? I need
a nap. Stan waved him off, and Harry left; he didnt see Winky in the kitchen, but he heard her snores
echoing from inside a cabinet near the fireplace.
Upstairs, he took off his shoes and lay on the bed, thinking about Ginny and last night. They had lain
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Upstairs, he took off his shoes and lay on the bed, thinking about Ginny and last night. They had lain
close together all night, and there were times that he had thought it would drive him crazy, just having
their flesh being in constant contact. There were a few moments when, as he looked into her eyes, he
almost thought he was seeing out of them, seeing himself looking back at her. It was strange, almost
scary, and in a way a little funny because everything was in perfect focus, not slightly blurred as it
always was without his glasses on.
He missed her, even after only a few hours; he felt alone. He thought back to the times in the past year
when he had really been alone, sitting watch in the tent entrance on some forlorn moor, listening to
Hermione and Ron talking inside, looking up at the stars, trying to ignore the kernel of fear that was a
constant presence in the pit of his stomach. Whenever he had thought of Ginny then, he had not felt the
flaming desire that he did now. It was more like a longing for something that seemed impossible,
something that would never happen. It had always brought a melancholy sorrow to his spirit, along with
the additional fear that the happiness he had experienced in their few weeks together would never be
more than a memory.
But then he would remember the words she had spoken on his birthday, the day before the fall of the
Ministry: Theres the silver lining I was hoping for... Recalling those words was always a tonic, a tiny
jolt of hope that, if he could survive and somehow win, she would be there. The words meant that Ginny
was true to him, she was thinking about him as he was thinking about her. He would look up at the stars
again and see the beauty of the universe and know that he would see her again.
He pressed the Bouquedelle to his lips and fell asleep enveloped in Ginny.
He awoke to loud knocking on the parlor door. Arry? he heard Stan call. es ere, that Sipper bloke
with the drinks. Arry?
Harry jumped up. Come on in, Stan, he called, pulling on his trainers. The door opened and Stan
poked his head in.
Theyre downstairs. Ill tell them youll be right down. Harry hurried after him and found Stan,
Winky, Sebastian Sipper, and one of his workers in the dining room, surrounded by kegs, cartons, and
cases of bottles.
Sorry for the delay, Harry, Sipper apologized and mopped water from his hair with a bright orange
towel. He was a squat, burly wizard with a head of hair that was almost as red as Rons, and a large red
handlebar mustache that was also dripping rain water. Harry looked at the puddle on the floor, but Sipper
continued. I dont understand why they held up the order, he waved at the stack of cases with the Potio
Vitae label. They said they had a bad batch, but I think theyve miscalculated how popular it is, and just
ran out. I opened a bottle to check it, and its fine. Great stuff, I have to say.
Well, at least its finally here, Harry said. He tried to stop Winky from cleaning up the puddle of
water, but she shrugged off his hand and glared at Sipper as she mopped it up with a bar towel. Harry
walked around the pile of cartons. And its all here, the whole order?
Yep, its all here, Sipper replied. Do you want a hand putting it away?
No, we can handle it. Wheres the receipt?
Sipper produced a long parchment and handed it to Harry, then pulled a quill out of his pocket. Just
sign right here, Harry, and well be off. Got another overdue delivery up in Edinburgh, and the weathers
getting worse.
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getting worse.
Harry signed, and Sipper and his man left. Harry heard them Disapparate, then he turned to Stan. Lets
take care of this and then I think I can be off. He and Stan began separating the delivery and levitating
the items into the storage room behind the bar. After a moment, Stan frowned and began counting.
old on a minute, Arry, he finally said, let me see the invoice.
Now what? Harry handed it to him with a scowl. Stan ran his finger down the parchment.
They shorted us eight cases of butterbeer. We only got twelve.
God damn it! Harry shouted, and the carton of tea he was levitating shot forward and slammed into the
wall; it fell to the floor and split open, and tins of tea spilled out. Who the hell does he think he is? Ill

Wait! Stan said. Here, at the bottom, it says he owes us eight. Its all right, Arry, well be fine with
the dozen e delivered.
Harry grabbed the invoice from Stan and peered at it, then put his hand to his head. I have a headache,
he groaned. I cant take much more of this. Why does this have to happen? Why doesnt he tell us the
truth? Why cant he just deliver the damned things? When I fought Riddle, all I had to do was shoot a
spell and it was over. This is way harder, and a lot less satisfying.
Harry Potter is a wizard. Harry Potter is not learning how to run an inn at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry, Winky said from behind the table where she had ducked when Harry
propelled the carton of tea into the wall. When Winky has been a houseelf at the House of Crouch,
she has been seeing these things happen all the time. Mrs. Crouch has always laughed when it happens.
Harry Potter should laugh, too. She paused for a moment. And Harry Potter should not waste tea that
he is already paying for.
Harry dropped his hand his wand had been raised and gave Winky a wry look. Who needs a mum
when he has houseelf, he said.
Good advice, Stan laughed. Now look, Arry, why dont you just go on ome, ave a nice long
weekend with Ginny, and next week the weather will be good and everything will be great.
Stan Shunpike is being right for once, Winky said, and Stan looked at Harry with a grin. And Harry
Potter must remind Ginny Weasley about her chocolate birthday cake, the elf added.
Ill do that, Harry laughed. We may both be back here next week, he said to Stan. That, uh, that
wont bother you, will it?
No, no! Why should it? Thatll be brilliant, Arry. Shes a swell witch, and Arriet likes er, too.
Then lets get the rest of this put away. Ill send an owl to Mr. Sipper to tell us exactly when hes
planning to finish the order, and then... thatll be it.
Harry repaired the smashed carton and put the tea tins back inside with a Pack spell, then they quickly
stored the last of the order. Harry hurried to the post office and sent his owl to Sipper, feeling buoyant
despite the continuing downpour, knowing he would soon see Ginny. He said goodbye to Stan and
Winky, and Disapparated back to the Burrow.
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Winky, and Disapparated back to the Burrow.


He Apparated in the parlor and startled Molly, who shrieked and jumped off the sofa where she had
been helping her knitting needles untangle two skeins of yarn. Harry! My goodness! I didnt expect you

The door burst open and Ginny flew in. I knew you would be home early! she cried. Is everything
okay? You didnt get wet, did you?
Everythings fine, he smiled, and its impossible not to get wet. Its raining just as hard up there. The
order came late, and then Stan told me to go home, so here I am.
Did you eat lunch yet? Ginny and Molly both said at exactly the same time.
No, Harry laughed, and Ginny waved to her mother to sit back down. She led Harry out the door, and
the instant she closed it they embraced in a long, tight, snog.
What do you want for lunch? Ginny said when she finally had to take a breath.
The usual. Harry straightened his eyeglasses, then brushed the hair back from her face. Do you think
you can cook it up for me?
Anything you want is yours, she whispered, then giggled. Later. Now eat. Since I knew youd be
home early, I waited.
They ate the souffle that Ginny had learned to make from Fleur, and talked, and although neither one
said anything about their daydreams, they both knew that they had been thinking about each other. Harry
asked Ginny again if she could spend the last week of the summer with him at the inn, and Ginny told
him that she had already started to pack. The only problem was that Ginny still had things to do to get
ready for school, so Harry offered to help her as much as possible, and when everything was done, they
would then go on up to Hogsmeade together.
They even made plans for what they would do during the week. Ginny wanted to help get the inn ready
for its opening on September first. She also wanted more shopping trips to London to finish furnishing
the flat, and to begin the Apparition lessons that Percy had given her for her birthday. The African dance
concert that Saliyah had told them about was also scheduled for that week.
They set to work with a will. They spent the afternoon cleaning Ginnys room, packing her trunk, and
finishing mending and sorting her clothes and robes. Molly looked in on them once, sitting on the floor
in Ginnys room, trying to figure out the best way to pack her cauldron so that the delicate scales would
not be damaged. Molly smiled and closed the door.
I think shell be okay with it, Ginny said as they both looked at the closed door. I hope Dad is, too.
Harry stood up. I think were finished.
Ginny examined the cauldron one last time and smiled at him. We did it. We met our goal. Percy will
be so proud. She went to her desk and took out a box of letter parchment, ink, and a quill. Ill just
send an owl off to Mr. Twycross and then we can pack this.
Bailey hopped from leg to leg on her perch and hooted eagerly. Ginny wrote out the note and tied it to
Baileys leg. She opened the window, and the owl hesitated just for a moment when she saw the steady
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Baileys leg. She opened the window, and the owl hesitated just for a moment when she saw the steady
rain, then hooted loudly and sprang up; they soon lost sight of her in the gloom.
They packed up the rest of Ginnys desk into her trunk, then Ginny closed the lid and sat down on it.
Come here, she beckoned to Harry.
Cant we sit on something softer? he looked longingly at the bed. This will be very hard to sit on.
Theres a rule, remember? Just because I let you break it once, doesnt mean you can break it whenever
you want. Now sit here. She patted the trunk.
I broke the rule? Harry feigned disbelief. If I remember correctly, you were there, too. He sat on the
trunk, put his finger on his cheek, and screwed up his face. Yes, I definitely remember that you were in
the bed with me, Im one hundred percent positive of that.
Theres nothing wrong with your memory, I see, even if your poor bum cant take a little hardship. But
if we sit on the bed, well never get off. Im one hundred percent positive of that.
Thats true, Harry nodded solemnly, and dinners so close. We have to keep up our strength.
They both laughed, and Ginny moved closer. So well leave tomorrow and stay until next Saturday,
then well come back for a few days, or at least I will. You can stay at the inn if you have to, and you
can meet me when the Express gets in on Tuesday evening.
Harry looked puzzled. When the Express gets in? What do you mean?
What do you mean, what do I mean? Ginny looked just as puzzled. The Hogwarts Express. Itll get
into Hogsmeade around nine oclock, like it always does.
Now Harry looked disturbed. The Hogwarts Express? Why will you... but... I thought you would be
here I mean at the inn, with me.
What are you talking about? Ginny frowned. Im taking the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross
Station on September the first, like I always have.
But I thought... I assumed... Oh. Disappointment replaced bewilderment on Harrys face. I guess I
assumed you would just stay at the inn and go to school with the other kids when the train got in.
Well, why would you assume that? Ginny asked crossly. I never said I wanted to do that. I want to
take the train with Keesha and Luna. I talked to them about it at the party.
Okay, okay! Its fine, I understand, Harry said just as crossly.
They sat on the trunk and didnt speak or look at each other. Ginny turned to the window, away from
Harry, and he looked down at his hands. Im sorry, he finally said. Can I come to see you off? She
turned back to him and he took her hand. I shouldnt have assumed.
I should have said something, Ginny looked at their hands. Yes, please, I want you to come to the
station. She chuckled. That way you can see me off and meet me when I arrive.
I guess thats kind of stupid, but I want to see you off, anyway.
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The sat in silence until Ginny rubbed her shoulder against him. Lets see how dinners coming along.
And well have to tell them well be gone all week.
Oh, yeah. Harry stood up with her. He wasnt sure what had just happened between them, but he was
glad that they had resolved it so quickly. He also felt like picking Ginny up and taking her to the bed, but
she had moved to the door. She paused before opening it and looked winsomely back at him.
I feel the same way, love, but lets wait til tomorrow. It will just be the two of us for a whole week.
She smiled in a way that made Harrys knees weak, but she opened the door before he could reach her;
she scuttled out and ran laughing downstairs. Harry took a breath and followed.
Molly smiled when they entered the kitchen, and nodded when Ginny told her about their plans. Youll
be back in time to go to Kings Cross, wont you, dear? she said almost disinterestedly.
Ginny looked at her uncertainly. Um, of course. And Harry will come see me off.
Good. Well, did you finish packing, and cleaning your room, and
Everythings done, Mum. All Ill have to do is pick up my trunk. Ill come back on Saturday, anyway,
so Ill have a couple of days to take care of anything that comes up.
Molly nodded again. But as Ginny and Harry looked at each other, somewhat surprised at her mild
reaction, Molly spoke again. Theres nothing wrong with what you two are doing, but its not a trivial
thing, either. Not many people do it when theyre your age, wizards or Muggles. She smiled at them.
There, Ive finished my lecture. That wasnt so bad, was it?
Ginny just stared at her, and Harry mumbled something indistinct and looked at the floor. Molly
laughed, and kissed Ginny, then Harry, which embarrassed him even more. Go on, both of you. Dinner
will be ready when Arthur gets home, so go away until I call you.
They waited in the parlor, sitting side by side on the sofa. Harry didnt know what to say, and Ginny
smiled at his confusion. Theyve always been like that. And I told you that they did the same thing
when they were our age. They must have really been in love, dont you think?
Harry finally smiled. Thats a trick question, isnt it? Of course they were in love, just like us.
Ooh, now thats an interesting statement. So who was more in love, them or us?
No one could be more in love than I am.
Ginny moved into his lap and put her arms around him. Harry, why do you always say the right thing?
How am I supposed to wait until tomorrow to jump you again?
Lady, thats a tough problem you have, and Im not going to help you solve it.
At that moment they heard Arthur Weasley Apparate next to the front door, and a moment later they
heard him in the kitchen talking to Molly. Thank Merlin! Ginny laughed. Its time to eat.
The next morning they SideAlong Apparated into the dining room of the inn, carrying duffle bags and
wearing backpacks with the clothes and belongings they would need for the week. Stan was not at the
inn yet, and Winky was puttering in the kitchen and ignored them as they came through from the dining
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inn yet, and Winky was puttering in the kitchen and ignored them as they came through from the dining
room. Shes making my cake, Ginny giggled as they climbed the stairs. They stepped into the sitting
room, dropped their luggage, and threw themselves at each other. Harry picked Ginny up and carried her
into the bedroom. Somehow, Winky knew not to disturb them, so they were two hungry people who
came downstairs for dinner in the early evening. They ate a candlelight dinner, and for dessert Winky
proudly served chocolate cake with strawberry icing.
The week was a blur of delight and happiness. Everything seemed to go well; even the weather turned
sunny and warm. On Tuesday they Apparated into Diagon Alley and finished buying furniture for the
flat; they got a large mirror and an easy chair for the bedroom, two small tables and some comfortable
chairs for the parlor, and several more pieces of artwork to hang on the walls. Ginny took her first
Apparition lesson from Wilkie Twycross at the Ministry while Harry visited with Ron, and then in the
evening they attended the African dance concert that Saliyah Ushujaa had invited them to at Tonks and
Remuss funeral.
It was held in the Atrium of the Ministry, and was intended as both a memorial to those killed in the
war, and as a rededication of the Atrium and the Fountain of Magical Brethren. The grotesque, sinister
black statue was gone. In its place were the simple figures of four children, two boys and two girls,
standing on a pedestal. It was not even clear if they were magical; they were just holding hands and
smiling at each other.
Thats beautiful. Does anyone know if they used real models? Ginny said as she and Harry stood
looking at it with Ron and Hermione; they were all wearing dress robes, including Ron who made sure
that everyone knew that he had bought new ones to replace the embarrassing set he had worn years ago
to the Yule Ball.
The two girls are twins, and theyre actually starting at Hogwarts this year, said Hermione. Their
parents are Muggles, friends of my folks. Ive known them since they were born, when I was about
seven.
What are their names? asked Harry.
Emma and Claire Athair. You should try to find them on the Hogwarts Express, she said to Ginny.
Theyre adorable.
They wandered around the Atrium until the concert began. A stage had been erected in front of the lift to
the public entrance, and the Atrium was filled to overflowing with wizards and witches dressed to the
hilt. The drums were electrifying, driving and pounding into the audience and the dancers. The costumes
were sensuous, elegant, or stately, depending on the theme of the dance. The dances were, as Saliyah had
described, emotional and riveting. By the time the concert was over, everyone in the audience felt as
exhausted as the dancers.
Afterward, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Saliyah, and the rest of the dancers and drummers stood near the
fountain and talked to wellwishers. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione took a cab back to the Leaky
Cauldron Ron wanted to show off how well he got around Muggle London and after a few drinks
they went up to the flat over Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. They talked long into the night about the
summer that had just ended and the upcoming year. Harry and Ginny Apparated back to the inn when
the eastern sky was beginning to lighten, and fell into bed and into each others arms.
When they got up the next afternoon, they found that their new furnishings had been delivered and were
sitting in the parlor. They spent the rest of the day moving furniture and hanging pictures; that is, Ginny
decided where to put everything and Harry moved or hung it. By evening the flat had a homey,
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decided where to put everything and Harry moved or hung it. By evening the flat had a homey,
comfortable feel that delighted them both. After dinner they lit a fire and luxuriated on the rug in front
the fireplace, and ended up falling asleep there in each others arms.
Everything went smoothly at the inn. With Ginnys help Harry was able to keep Winky out of the dining
room, and Stan finished his work in peace. Harry was becoming nervous about the grand opening and
actually having to serve customers, but there were no hitches in the preparations. All the supplies were
delivered on time and both Stan and Winky had their respective areas well under control.
And, much to everyones relief, there were no more incidents of vandalism. The only thing that bothered
Ginny was that every morning and every evening she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand, and
she saw Turquoise Southeby walking through the field in back of the inn, on her way between her home
outside the village and the assortment of parttime jobs she held. She never looked at the inn, but as
Ginny watched from the picture window, there was no doubt in her mind that the witch had chosen that
path because she could parade in full view, swinging her hips as she walked. Ginny never mentioned it,
and Harry never saw it. At least she was wearing clothes, thought Ginny.
Ginny and Harry took long walks through the fields and down the country lanes near the village, and
also spent a long, sunny afternoon visiting places on the Hogwarts grounds that were familiar and dear
from the brief moments they had had together before Albus Dumbledores death. They visited Hagrid,
Fang, and Grawp, who were all delighted to see them, and Hagrid made Harry promise to come watch
him teach some of his Care of Magical Creatures classes.
And so the week passed all too quickly, and on Saturday morning Ginny packed her bags and they
Apparated back to the Burrow. Harry stayed for an hour or so to collect the rest of his belongings from
the attic room, and then he returned to the Hogs Head.
As she stood in the yard with her parents and watched Harry Disapparate, Ginny pressed her hand to the
locket underneath her blouse, and realized that a wonderful moment in her life had ended; she felt a
wave of melancholy pass over her. Then a hand squeezed her shoulder, and she turned to see her mum,
also with a sad expression.
It was a wonderful summer, darling, Molly said. Im so happy he was here with us with you.
Ginny nodded, and suddenly her gloom passed as quickly as it had come. And its going to be a
wonderful year, Mum. Look, I never showed you whats in the locket he gave me on my birthday. She
took out the locket and opened it, and Harry smiled at them. She cupped her hands over it, and Molly
peered into them, then looked up. Its those eyes, isnt it? she said with a slightly wicked grin. He
does have the eyes. She laughed, and they walked back to the house arminarm.
The weekend passed uneventfully, except that four or five times a day, every day, Ginny sent a love
owl to Harry and he sent one back. It was the first time since the day after the battle that they had been
separated for so long. The notes back and forth became so hot that Ginny joked to Harry in one that
Bailey was too young to be carrying such explicit messages; Bailey didnt seem to mind, though, and the
passionate letters continued.
Finally, Tuesday, September the first arrived and a taxi took Ginny and her parents, for the last time, to
Kings Cross Station. When she came through the barrier to platform Nine And Three Quarters, Harry
was there. She let go her luggage trolley and ran to him, and until the engines whistle blew they were
completely unaware of the hundreds of people jostling around them and staring. Her parents somehow
got her trunk and Baileys cage onto the train, and then Arthur and Molly interrupted the snog to say
goodbye. Ginny looked around then, and saw Keesha Baker grinning at her from a carriage window;
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goodbye. Ginny looked around then, and saw Keesha Baker grinning at her from a carriage window;
Luna was next to her, gazing serenely in another direction.
This is it, love, Ginny whispered. But Ill see you in a few hours.
I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, I love you, Harry whispered back. I havent stopped using the
Bouquedelle. What will I do until Friday?
Well see each other again in a few hours, she repeated with a laugh. I love you, too. Her eyes were
blazing as she kissed him once more, then she ran to the train. It began to move just as she boarded. She
leaned out the window next to Keesha and Luna, and looked back until she could no longer see him.
Back to index

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Chapter 16: Owls


Author's Notes: Ginny is off to Hogwarts, and Harry is off to meet her at Hogsmeade...
Keesha patted Ginny on the back, Come on, we have a compartment just down the corridor. And cheer
up, hell be waiting on the platform when we get to Hogsmeade.
Ginny nodded. We had such an incredible summer, Keesha. I wish it had never ended. She followed
Keesha into a compartment. I get these bluesy moments, but theres nothing really to be sad about.
Well be seeing each other all the time, and Ill be with him on the weekends. Hi, Luna, she said as she
and Keesha levitated her trunk and Baileys cage onto the overhead. I mean, Harrys going to be only a
halfmile away in Hogsmeade, and I can send him an owl every night. Still... She sighed again. We
had such a good time.
Maybe youre pregnant, Luna said as she sat down and opened the latest issue of The Quibbler.
Keeshas jaw dropped and Ginny stared at the magazine in front of Lunas face. Merlin, Luna, she
replied when she had recovered her composure, if I am, my parents should get a tuition refund. Im
using the same charm that Pomfrey taught us. She looked at Keesha and giggled selfconsciously.
I was just asking, Luna said from behind her magazine. If you are pregnant, Id be interested in
knowing what its like.
Ginny shook her head and looked out the window; the outskirts of London were passing by. She heard a
noise in the corridor, and turned and noticed two young girls pulling large trunks past their compartment.
She jumped up, opened the door and called to them. Are you looking for someplace to sit? We have
empty seats.
It was the twins whose statues stood in the Fountain of Magical Brethren. They hesitated for a moment
and looked uncertainly at each other. Come on, Ginny smiled, we wont hex you. They walked
slowly back to the compartment, trailing their trunks, and Ginny stepped aside to let them in. Keesha
smiled at them, and moved across to the other bench, leaving room for them to sit together. Luna gazed
over the top of The Quibbler, and the girls stared back, not sure what to make of her lima bean earrings.
Ginny closed the door. Here, lets get your trunks out of the way. She and Keesha levitated them up
and into empty spaces on the overhead, and the two girls watched their rising luggage with their mouths
hanging open. Ginny sat next to Keesha and pointed to the empty seats; the girls sat. Im Ginny, this is
Keesha, and thats Luna. Dont mind her jewelry, its harmless.
Why would anyone wear harmful jewelry, Luna asked.
Youre firstyears, arent you? Keesha said after a moment. The twins both nodded. What are your
names?
Wait! Ginny grinned. Youre Emma and youre Claire, right? She pointed to one, then the other.
They giggled. No, said the one Ginny had pointed to second, Im Emma, shes Claire.
Ginny laughed. I have had twin brothers who looked exactly alike. They were always playing jokes
on everyone, and we never knew which one had done it.
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How did you know our names? asked Claire. Did you do magic?
Ginny laughed again. No, I saw your statues in the Ministry of Magic. They were very nice. They look
just like you.
Well, said Emma, We know who you are. Youre Ginny Weasley. We saw you snogging Harry Potter
on the platform.
Ginny and Keesha broke up in guffaws, and Luna lowered her magazine and looked at the twins.
Touch! said Ginny. You two are pretty smart. I guess youll be sorted into Ravenclaw. Luna heres a
Ravenclaw. She can show you around.
The girls had identical expressions of horror on their faces, and Ginny and Keesha broke up laughing
again, while Luna smiled briefly and raised the magazine in front of her face.
Not Ravenclaw? Ginny was still chuckling. Which House then. Certainly not Slytherin.
Gryffindor! they exclaimed in unison. We want to be in the same House as Harry Potter, said Emma.
Oh, my, Ginny looked at Keesha, Now thatll embarrass him. She turned back to the girls. You can
tell the Sorting Hat which House you want, but you dont always get it. Theres nothing wrong with
Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, either. Keeshas in Hufflepuff.
They shook their heads. Gryffindor, they said together again.
Okay, its Gryffindor, then, Ginny conceded. Ill tell you what. If the Hat puts you both in Gryffindor,
you can sit next to me at the Feast tonight, and Ill help you get settled into your room.
The girls looked pleased, and a little relieved, and Claire nodded. Well be sitting with you, she said
with certainty.
The train was passing through suburbs and towns, and the five girls settled in. The twins were full of
questions, not only about Hogwarts, but also about the Wizarding world. The afternoon passed into early
evening, and when the tea trolley came along, the twins were delighted at the assortment of magical
candies. They picked out two of everything and returned to their seats as Ginny and Keesha made their
selections. Luna was still immersed in The Quibbler, but reached absentmindedly into her pocket and
took out a cucumber and started eating it.
As Ginny was waiting for Keesha to pay for her Chocolate Frogs, four boys sauntered through the door
from the next carriage and started down the corridor. Ginny glanced at them and recognized four
particularly obnoxious Slytherin seventhyears. Ginny knew that they had all been in the Great Hall last
spring before the battle, and they had all walked out behind Pansy Parkinson when their entire House
was dismissed by Professor McGonagall.
Ginny moved slightly to let them pass, but kept her eye on them. They stopped at the trolley and looked
over the selection. Same old garbage, said one as he picked up a Pumpkin Pastie and then tossed it
back into the wrong bin. He looked at Keesha with a sneer. But why would that surprise me. The same
old garbage collectors are buying it.
Excuse me, young man, said the tea trolley witch sharply. If youre going to buy something, then do
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Excuse me, young man, said the tea trolley witch sharply. If youre going to buy something, then do
so and pay for it, otherwise move along and leave my customers alone.
The boy glanced disdainfully at her, then contemptuously at Keesha. He looked her up and down, and
Ginny saw her jaw tighten and her eyes narrow; Ginny moved her hand to her wand. The Slytherins
voice dripped with loathing. If it isnt Mudbloods, its...
Do you have a problem with something? Keesha said softly. Like talking politely to someone who
isnt a traitor?
Traitor! he snarled. You mean a blood traitor like Potters little pet? He turned and then froze;
Ginnys wand in her hand, pointing at him.
Move along like the lady said, Ginny spoke as quietly as Keesha had. And if I see you along here
again, Ill hex you into next week.
The boys face had gone white, and he backed up, then jumped as he bumped into Keeshas wand. All
four of the Slytherins moved quickly away; as they walked down the corridor the one who had spoken
looked back, and Ginny raised her wand and glared at him. They went through the door at the end of the
carriage and out of sight. Ginny and Keesha watched until they were gone, then put their wands away.
Here, the witch handed each of them a cauldron cake. Thats for your trouble, and heres three more
for your friends. She nodded at the twins and Luna. Such rudeness. Youd think that people would
learn something from all the killing and fighting, but there are some who never will. She sighed and
pushed the trolley down the corridor to the next compartment.
Ginny and Keesha stepped inside, and as Ginny handed cakes to the twins, she had to stifle a laugh.
They were huddled in the corner next to the window, looking both fearful and bewildered, and both had
their wands out. What were you planning to do with those? she grinned as she sat. Maybe you should
put them away. You could hurt someone, you know.
What did those boys want? What did they say to you? Emma asked Keesha, lowering her wand. Why
were they so mean?
Keesha didnt reply at once; she scowled out the window before turning to Ginny. Hes said things to
me before, that one. Ill cut his damn tongue out one of these days.
Ginny grimaced, and the twins recoiled, looks of shock on their faces. He called you a Mudblood,
didnt he? Claire said. I know what that is. Are you parents Muggles? Ours are.
Keesha shook her head. No, but it doesnt matter. He made a comment about my skin. Ill tell you,
Ginny, Im not going to take it again. Jace Kleinhead. With Crabbe and Goyle gone, hes probably the
worst one theyve got. I was hoping he wouldnt be back, but no such luck.
The twins were listening avidly, while Luna, who had been watching everything with what was for her a
great deal of interest, went back to her magazine. Ginny looked around at everyone. She didnt want to
say anything to the girls that she would regret later they might, after all, be Sorted into Slytherin,
unlikely though that seemed. But she saw no reason not to tell them what reality was. Both she and
Harry had almost died fighting people like those boys, and she was damned if she wouldnt fight them
now.
Theyre bullies from Slytherin, she said to Emma and Claire. Last spring they walked out of the
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Theyre bullies from Slytherin, she said to Emma and Claire. Last spring they walked out of the
castle right over to the Death Eaters while the rest of us stayed and fought. And some of us died.
Remember I told you about my twin brothers? Well, one of them was killed, and now hes buried in our
back yard. If those two had their way, we would all be dead, and you two wouldnt be on this train.
Because were Mudbloods, Emma declared.
Dont use that word! Keesha snapped. Its ugly, and ugly people use it. Emma cringed back in her
seat, and Keeshas face softened. Im sorry. I didnt mean to scare you. But dont put yourself down
because of who your parents are. Thats what those pigs are trying to do, so dont do it for them.
Emma and Claire sat in their seats, looking subdued. Suddenly, Luna spoke from behind The Quibbler.
We did win the war, you know. They lost the war.
Ginny laughed. Correct as usual, Miss Lovegood. Thats why youre a Ravenclaw and were not. We
need you to point out things like that. The twins laughed, albeit a little uncertainly, and everyone
relaxed. Tell me, Ginny asked them, how did you know who I am, and where did you learn that word
you know, Mudblood?
From Aunt Hermione, Claire said. She talks to us a lot.
Aunt Hermione? Ginnys eyebrows raised. Hermione Granger is your aunt?
Not our real aunt, Emma said. We call her Aunt because she talks like a grownup.
And she talks a lot, came from behind The Quibbler, just like you said.
I guess she does, Ginny grinned. And she told me about you when I was at the Ministry and saw your
statues. How did you get to pose for them?
We were in Diagon Alley buying our school things, and Mr. Shacklebolt saw us, explained Claire. So
he took us to the Ministry of Magic and they made the statues there. It was fun, they gave us lots of
candy, too. She and Emma giggled.
Hes my uncle, you know, Keesha said.
Ginny looked at her in surprise. No, I didnt know that. Wow, things must have been hot for you last
year. Did the Death Eaters go after your family?
Keesha shrugged. Not really. They probably would have eventually, but I think they were too busy
trying to find Harry.
Ginny nodded, and looked out the window. They were speeding past open fields in the deepening dusk;
she could just make out orchards and tall stands of wheat. A village with its lights glowing appeared and
then fell behind out of sight. Ginny thought about Hogsmeade, and wondered how Harry was doing, and
whether he would be able to greet the arriving train with treats and drinks. She suddenly missed him, and
regretted not staying and helping him get the inn ready; he was doing it for her, after all. She leaned her
head back against the cushion and stared up at the overhead. If she sent him a note, would Bailey get to
Hogsmeade before the train? She wasnt sure, so she looked out the window again, and waited for the
time to pass.
The others in the compartment also fell silent, perhaps as a delayed reaction to the altercation with the
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The others in the compartment also fell silent, perhaps as a delayed reaction to the altercation with the
Slytherins. Luna finally finished The Quibbler and just sat and looked across at the twins with her serene
gaze. But her bulging, unblinking eyes seemed to disconcert them, and they looked away after a few
moments. They became lost in their own thoughts, and kept glancing at each other. Ginny had often seen
Fred and George like that, and knew that there was some kind of communication there that only twins
like them could understand. Her moodiness deepened, and she sighed and sank down, slouching more
than sitting.
Are you okay? Keesha asked quietly. Well be there soon. Do you know what Harrys going to be
giving out?
Ginny shook her head, and straightened up. I should have stayed with him. He wanted me to, but this is
my last time going to school on the Hogwarts Express, and I didnt want to miss it. Now I miss him.
I know what you mean. I miss Neville. I saw him this morning, but he couldnt come to see me off. He
said he had something to do. I was a little angry, actually, especially after I saw how Harry said goodbye
to you.
Ginny returned her wide smile. Yeah, that was pretty nice. She looked at Luna and the twins; they all
seemed to be lost in their own worlds. He told me he loved me, she said in a low voice, and giggled. I
already knew it, but he never actually said the words before.
He was right to say it, Luna suddenly came out of what had looked like a trance and smiled at Ginny.
Its so obvious. Thats why I wondered if you were pregnant.
Luna! Im not pregnant! Will you please stop it? Ginny glanced at the twins, who were looking from
her to Luna, clearly hoping for more.
Sorry, Luna said, but kept smiling. I wont talk about it any more.
Ginny shook her head, and saw Keesha grinning. Ginny finally smiled back; it was pure Luna, and it was
impossible to stay angry or even annoyed at her.
The train had climbed into the Highlands, and dark woods slipped by; trees stood tall near the tracks, and
then the whistle blew and they started to slow. We should put our robes on, said Keesha, and they
spent the next few minutes maneuvering between the seats and jockeying their trunks from the overhead.
The whistle blew again and they could see the lights of Hogsmeade above the tracks. Ginny thought she
recognized the Hogs Head, set slightly off to one side, with its chandeliers blazing through the open
shutters. She suddenly wanted to hold Harry.
The train was moving slowly, and the platform came alongside. It was crowded with the usual wizarding
porters, and Ginny also saw Hagrid standing near the tracks, waiting to lead the firstyears to the boats
on the lake. She was glad to see that Grawp was not with him; she couldnt imagine what effect that
would have on everyone, let alone the firstyears.
The train halted, and doors slammed open and students piled into the corridors, jostling and shoving. The
twins suddenly looked apprehensive, and Ginny smiled at them. You have to go out now. Do you see
that large man there? She pointed out the window to Hagrid, and then stopped. At the back of the
platform were about a dozen people, but they were in the shadows and she couldnt see their faces. They
were all wearing identical tee shirts with writing on them that she couldnt make out, and they were
standing behind a row of tables that had been set up in front of the station house. She could see that the
tables were piled high with the treats and drinks that Harry had promised to give out. A banner was
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tables were piled high with the treats and drinks that Harry had promised to give out. A banner was
stretched across the wall of the station behind the table. It said: Dumbledores Army, Still Serving.
Come on, lets see what it is! Ginny cried and pushed through the others, who had crowded to the
window behind her. They all joined the throngs in the corridor, and when Ginny stepped down onto the
platform, a hand fell on her shoulder; she was spun around and found herself in Harrys arms. As they
kissed, they were buffeted by the crowd exiting the train, then pushed aside as everyone surged toward
the tables; they staggered and almost fell. Harry held her up, and Ginny grinned in delight.
I missed you, they said together, and laughed. But something was bothering Harry, and Ginny looked
at him closely. What is it? she asked.
He shook his head. They did it again. Another Dark Mark.
Ginny sucked in her breath. No! When?
While I was in London. No one was at the inn except Winky. She was in the kitchen and heard
something and ran out back. There were two of them, and she says one was a witch, but she didnt see
their faces. They Disapparated.
Turquoise Southeby! Ginny scowled. It has to be her.
Harry shook his head again. She was at the Three Broomsticks when it happened, and the witch was
shorter than her. Well need a new ladle, too. Winky threw it at them and hit the elm tree. She was so
angry, she did some kind of magic to it and Reparo doesnt work on it now.
Oh, Harry, Im so sorry. If I had stayed with you, this wouldnt have happened.
Im sorry you werent here, too, but Im not sure it would have stopped them.
But you would have been here, not in London.
He blinked and caressed her face. But then I wouldnt have gotten to snog you in front of all those
people.
Ginny took his hand and kissed it, and smiled at him again. Thats silly, but I guess Im not sorry for
that. Was the Dark Mark in the same place?
On the back wall again, but higher up. Thats a puzzle, too. They didnt use a ladder, and this time it
wouldnt go away with a scrubbing charm. I had to get, uh, well, he grinned. Come on, Ill show you.
He led a slightly confused Ginny to the row of tables. Students were crowded about them, taking pastries
and candies, as well as small bottles of butterbeer and Potio Vitae. Harry led her around the crowd where
she could look down the tables, and when she saw who was there she gave a shriek and began laughing.
Behind the tables, serving the free treats, were a halfdozen or so members of Dumbledores Army: at
the far end of the table were Ron and Hermione; she also saw George, Dean, Parvati and Padma,
Neville, and Ernie. The tee shirts that Ginny had noticed had the same slogan as the large banner
Dumbledores Army, Still Serving and on the back of each shirt was a picture of a grinning boar,
and above it, The Hogs Head Inn.
Neville was the nearest server, and he waved at her; Keesha was standing next to him sporting a large
grin. Ginny walked down behind the tables until she came to George, and poked him in the back. He
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grin. Ginny walked down behind the tables until she came to George, and poked him in the back. He
turned and hugged her. We fight on, he said, the endless war. He laughed and handed her a bottle of
Potio Vitae.
No thanks, she handed it back. I tried it, but I dont like it. George gave it to a fourthyear
Slytherin boy who was stuffing his pockets with brightly wrapped chunks of chocolate. Thats not
something from your shop, is it? Ginny asked.
Ah, sister, how could you say something like that? George looked indignant. These poor, innocent
children. I would never slip them a Nosebleed Nougat. It would reflect poorly on Harry.
Right, Ginny shook her head, then saw Hermione waving to her from the end of the table; Ginny
walked down to her.
Isnt this brilliant? Hermione gushed. Harry asked me to send the message out, and all these people
responded. Did he tell you about the Dark Mark? When Ginny nodded, she went on. It was a real
professional job this time. Whoever did it was very skilled, and Ill bet it was the same person who
Imperiused those two we caught. I had to use a pretty advanced variation of Evanesco to get rid of it, and
it was tricky, because it could have taken the whole wall with it.
Harry had come up behind Ginny, and put his arm around her and pulled her close. Stan and Tony are
standing guard, and I sent an owl to Pester, but he hasnt answered yet. Im wondering if he thinks its
beneath his dignity to answer.
Hes a busy man, I expect, Ginny shook her head.
The crowd was starting to thin as students made their way to the row of horseless carriages. So how was
the train ride? Harry asked. But as Ginny was about to answer, she heard Hagrids booming voice.
A righ, everyone a you, its time to get to the castle! Arry, shut it down, well be late an theyll be
blamin me. He began herding students away from the tables. Urry up, Ginny, he called to her,
them carriages wont be waitin fer long.
Ginny threw herself at Harry. I wish I had stayed with you. Im sorry, she whispered into his ear. Can
you come to the castle tomorrow? At least we can see each other. She put her arms around his neck and
held herself tightly against him. Ill send Bailey with a letter tonight. I wish I was staying. I cant stand
not being with you, especially when things happen.
He kissed her and put his hands into her hair; he pulled her head back to see her eyes, and smiled. Ill
be fine, George is staying tonight. He says he can sleep on the rug. And I will be at the castle tomorrow.
Professor Flitwick came by the inn after we found the Dark Mark, and he wants to show me some spells
that he says may help.
Good! They embraced again, and Ginny turned away. She stopped when she had gone a few steps, and
turned. Harry, she called; he was walking toward Ron, who was throwing handfuls of candy at the
backs of the departing students. Your map! Dont forget it! He grinned and waved.
Ginny hurried to the row of horseless carriages and climbed into the last one . There were three seventh
year Ravenclaw boys and two girls in it. Hey, Ginny, Hector Freeman said; he was tall with black
hair, and Ginny knew that he had fancied Elizabeth Derby. That was brilliant. Is Harry running the
Hogs Head? From the train it looked a lot different.
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Ginny nodded, and as the carriage began to move they all looked at the thestrals silently pulling them
along. She suddenly realized that they all could see them, and she knew why: everyone who had fought
in the castle last spring had seen someone die. She sat back in her seat, shaken by the thought, and felt a
wave of grief wash over her.
Are you okay? Hector asked.
I I just was realizing that we can all see thestrals now.
Hector nodded and looked away, and Ginny knew that he was thinking of Elizabeth. They rode the rest
of the way in silence.
The castle was brilliantly lit, and Ginny walked into the entrance and then the Great Hall feeling very
strange. Thinking about all the deaths had also brought to her mind the things that were now different for
herself here at school. She was the only and the last Weasley child at Hogwarts; most of her best
friends were gone, although she still had two very good ones with her, and Harry was close by; she had
responsibilities beyond her schoolwork because she was a Quidditch captain; and it was her last year.
And all the memories of the battle and its aftermath would be floating in the air like new ghosts,
springing at you unexpectedly and evoking unexpected feelings.
She sat at the Gryffindor table and waved at Dennis Creevey who was sitting a short distance away.
Jimmy Peakes and Demelza Robins came over and congratulated her on becoming Quidditch captain.
She greeted her roommates, Sarah Brushmore and Christina Shepherd; she had nothing in common with
them, but maybe because of that she didnt mind living with them since they left her alone and pursued
their own interests, which revolved around gossip and hairdos. Romilda Vane did not look at her, and
Ginny hoped that they could somehow avoid each other all year, because she was certain that if she cast
a Bat Boogie hex at the girl she would lose her Quidditch captaincy.
She spotted Luna and Keesha at their House tables, and noticed that the Slytherin table was not full. Jace
Kleinhead was there, and he seemed to have taken the place of Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle at the
center of a group of thuggish boys and their female hangerson. But a few Slytherins, sitting at one end
of the table, looked like they were trying to set themselves apart from Kleinhead and his gang, and
Ginny wondered if it augured some kind of change in that House.
The staff table was full, except for Professor Flitwicks seat; he would be escorting the firstyears in at
any moment. Hagrid waved to her, and she smiled back. Looking down the row of teachers, she received
a shock when she saw, sitting at the end of the table in the position usually taken by the teacher with the
least seniority, Auror Morequest Pester. She quickly looked up and down the staff table, and was able to
account for every teaching position except Defense Against the Dark Arts. She realized, with not a little
distaste, that Pester must be the new holder of that post. She sighed to herself and thought that at least he
seemed to be knowledgeable, and maybe it was a good thing for Ron; Pester couldnt possibly hold two
fulltime jobs at the same time Professor at Hogwarts and head of the auror training program. And
now she knew why he had not answered Harrys owl.
The doors were flung open, and Professor Flitwick led the firstyears down the center aisle. Ginny saw
the twins, Emma and Claire, right behind the Professor, looking as awestruck and nervous as the
others, holding hands as they tried not to tread on Flitwicks heels; he was a good deal shorter than they
were, and their longer strides made it difficult for them to keep behind him. The firstyears reached the
front of the Hall, and stood in a tight bunch in front of the stool on which the Sorting Hat was perched.
Ginny had not seen it since Riddle had set it on Nevilles head and ignited it, but it seemed no worse for
that experience, meaning that it was still battered and barely able to keep its shape.
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that experience, meaning that it was still battered and barely able to keep its shape.
Professor Flitwick began to read the names of the new students. Abigail Abernethy! he squeaked, and
a blond girl stepped forward. It took the Hat only seconds to put her into Slytherin, and she scowled
fiercely as she walked to that table. Ginny watched her sit near the group around Jace Kleinhead, but she
ignored their greetings and sat with her arms folded and her scowl intact.
The next one was a very toughlooking black boy named Sean Allen. He was also Sorted into Slytherin,
but as he approached their table, the only ones applauding were the group sitting apart at the end; the
others, except for the new girl, seemed almost shocked. Ginny sought Keesha, and when their eyes met,
the Hufflepuff girl grinned and lifted her thumb.
Claire Athair! said Flitwick. Clair looked anxiously at her sister and climbed onto the stool and sat
with the Sorting Hat completely covering her face.
Gryffindor! it shouted, and Ginny clapped and welcomed her to the cheering table with a smile and a
hug. She moved aside and Claire sat, then she held Ginnys hand and her breath until the Hat once again
called out Gryffindor! and Emma came running to join them.
The ceremony continued, and finally James Yancey was Sorted into Ravenclaw, and the feast began.
Ginny chatted with the twins, but found herself looking around every few minutes for the old seventh
years from last year; she had been more friendly with them than her classmates, and it indeed felt strange
not to see any of them. She began to think of Harry again, and her mind wandered back to the inn and
the rug and the fourposter...
She was glad when the dessert dishes disappeared and Professor McGonagall rose to give her opening
speech; she had been composing a letter to Harry in her mind, and now wanted only to get up to her
room and send Bailey off with it. She turned toward the front of the Hall as the room became quiet.
Welcome to another year at Hogwarts, the Headmistress began, and a year which I fervently hope
will not be as memorable as the last one. But we are in a new era now, and the great fear that hung over
the entire Wizarding world is gone, thanks in part to many of you. In some respects last year was a lost
year, academically, but it was a year that those of you who were here may look back on as the most
significant of your lives. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the true function of Hogwarts resumes, and I
expect everyone to buckle down and live up to the schools reputation that was so bravely added to last
year.
She looked at the Slytherin table, and her face became even more serious and stern. I will not sweep
under the rug the circumstance that not every student did his duty last year. That is a fact. But, as the
Head of this school I offer my hand to everyone in this Hall, and I expect my offer of reconciliation to
be accepted with the same good grace in which I make it. I will not mention this again, nor do I wish to
hear that anyone at Hogwarts, student or staff, has mentioned it. I urge everyone to find it in your heart
to forgive, and to accept forgiveness.
She looked around the room and smiled. Enough. I welcome everyone back to school. I welcome all the
new firstyear students to the beginning of a great sevenyear adventure. I have only three
announcements to make. First, I wish to welcome Professor Morequest Pester to the post of Defense
Against the Dark Arts teacher. She turned and gestured to him, and he stood and offhandedly waved
to the students. Second, McGonagall continued, Quidditch signup sheets will be posted in each
common room tomorrow. And third, Professor Hagrid wishes to inform everyone that his halfbrother
Grawp likes to sleep in on the weekends, and requests that no one enter the woods behind his cabin
before ten oclock on Saturdays, Sundays, and official holidays. A murmur of both disbelief and
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before ten oclock on Saturdays, Sundays, and official holidays. A murmur of both disbelief and
amusement went through the Great Hall, but Hagrid beamed at McGonagall and nodded.
The Feast ended, and Ginny helped herd the firstyear Gryffindors there were eight of them, four
boys and four girls up to the common room. The password was still Everythings fine, and when the
Fat Lady swung aside and Ginny entered with the rest, she felt another wave of melancholy strike her.
Now she knew why she had not wanted to stay here when she and Harry had visited the castle on the
day after her birthday. Nothing seemed right, and she had somehow anticipated back then that she would
feel this way. The common room was to be her home for ten months, but for the past two she had shared
her home with Harry, and it had come to feel that it was not home if he was not there with her. She had
become accustomed to having Harry next to her, joking with her, taking meals with her, talking to her;
accustomed to reaching out and caressing him and have his hands and his lips respond...
She tried to put those thoughts out of her head, they would only make her crazy. It was only three days
until Friday, she would see him tomorrow, and meanwhile she could send owls. And she also had the
locket with Harrys eyes that, under the covers, were always the last thing she looked at before she slept,
or at least when she slept alone.
Her spirits lifted somewhat, and she looked for Emma and Claire and saw them sitting at a table in a
corner, talking to the two other new girls. She went over to them. Come on! she smiled, dont you
want to see your room? They all jumped up.
Is your room near ours? Emma asked as they climbed the stairs.
Well, mines at the top, and yours is right here, Ginny opened the door on the second landing. This
will be your room for seven years. The four girls walked in, excited smiles on their faces as they saw
the grand fourposters; their trunks were lying next to them. On one trunk was a cage with a large, gray
owl. Mercury! exclaimed one of the girls, and ran to it. The others found their beds, and Ginny left
them happily exploring their new home.
She hurried upstairs; seeing the owl had only increased the urgency she felt to send a note to Harry. She
entered her room and saw Christina lying in bed, reading a magazine. She looked up. Ginny, theres an
owl outside that keeps scratching on the window. I think its for you, cause it wont come in when I
open it. She pointed to the window next to Ginnys bed. Ginny saw a barn owl sitting on a gargoyle just
outside, and when it saw her it hopped down on the sill and tapped the glass with its beak.
For a moment Ginny was confused. Bailey? What are you doing out there? Why arent you... She
looked around, and then saw Bailey in her cage next to her bed. Bailey was jumping around, trying to
get a better look at the owl outside.
Ginny opened the window and the owl flapped in and landed on Ginnys dresser. It was only a few feet
from Baileys cage, and it looked at her with a great deal of interest, it puffed out its chest and hooted
several times. Bailey slowly and deliberately turned her head completely around so that she was facing
away from it.
Ginny turned to Christina. When did it get here?
Christina shrugged. It was here when I came up, about fifteen minutes ago. Its been scratching at the
window ever since I got here. Is that your owl? she nodded toward Bailey. Shes a nice one.
She was a birthday present from my brother. Her names Bailey. But who sent this owl? She looked at
it, and noticed for the first time a parchment tied around its leg. The owl didnt seem interested in
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it, and noticed for the first time a parchment tied around its leg. The owl didnt seem interested in
handing it over, though; it was still engrossed with Bailey, who continued to give it the cold shoulder.
Ginny watched the flirtation, and suddenly she understood and grinned. She put her hand out and the owl
pecked at it once, then lifted its leg. She took the parchment, and the owl went back to preening for the
unmindful Bailey. She sat on the bed and, with her heart beating faster, opened the letter. She lay back
on the pillow while a very warm feeling washed over her.
My darling Ginny,
Meet McPherson. He is my new (barn) owl. You wanted me to get one, and so I did. I
bought him in Diagon Alley after I saw you off at Kings Cross, and I wanted to surprise you
and Bailey when you got to Hogwarts.
I miss you so much, I cant stand it. I never stop using the Bouquedelle, and I am both
thankful and sorry for having it. Thankful because when I use it you are here with me, and
sorry because you are not really here with me, and I cant show you how much I love you
and it drives me mad. I have not been able to think of anything but you since I saw you at
the Hogsmeade Station, and when Friday evening comes I want you to be here instantly, and
I am not going to let you go until Sunday evening. So prepare yourself to a long weekend of
making love. Of course I am smiling when I say that.

Ginny took a breath and looked over at Christina; she was immersed in her magazine it was some kind
of fashion publication and was no longer paying any attention to either Ginny or the courting owls.
Ginny pulled her hangings closed and continued reading.
Everything is fine at the inn, except that you are not here to share it with me. The place
seems empty and useless without you, even though George is out in the parlor snoring on the
rug. This is truly your place, and I am so happy that I was able to buy it so that you could
come to it and make it a home for us.
I am lying in our bed having daydreams about you, and I know that I will dream about you
tonight. I love you so much.
Harry
PS. At midnight I will look for you on the map. Wiggle your toes at midnight and I will
know you are thinking of me as I will be of you. I love you.

Ginny pushed back part of the hanging and peeked out at the clock on Christinas dresser; It was fifteen
minutes until midnight. She quickly got out of bed, opened her trunk, and took out her writing kit. She
sat on the edge of the bed and used the trunk to write on.
Harry my love,
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At midnight my toes will be yours, and on Friday the rest of me will be yours, for as long as
you want, just as long as I can have your toes too, and the rest of you as well. McPherson is
a beautiful owl, and he is trying mightily to impress Bailey, but I think she will take her time
and make him prove himself. But I have confidence in him, and Im sure in the end he will
get his girl. Thank you for buying him, it makes me know even more how chivalrous and
thoughtful you are. When I start to feel that way it becomes very difficult to stay here and
not fly over to Hogsmeade where I can be with you and let you sweep me off my feet.
Where did you say that secret passageway was under the Whomping Willow?
The Feast was very interesting, and I will tell you all about it when I see you, unless there
are other things you would rather do than talk, that is. Those two girls whose statues we saw
at the Ministry were Sorted into Gryffindor, and Morequest Pester is teaching Defense
Against the Dark Arts (can you believe it!!??).
Its getting close to midnight, so Ill give this letter to McPherson, and I will tell him to
speed it to my hearts love as fast as he can. I will fall asleep tonight looking at your picture
in the locket under my covers, so that I can see the lights of your eyes, the lights that are
more precious to me than life.
I love you.
Ginny

She quickly tied it onto McPhersons leg, and then had to pick him up while he squawked in protest, and
carry him to the window and toss him into the air. He gave a wistful look back at Bailey, then sped off
into the night.
Ginny changed into her nightgown and dove into bed, pulling the hangings closed after her. As she heard
the castle clock strike midnight, she pulled the covers over her head and opened the locket. The green
points of light sparkled, and she was sure that she could sense a magical presence as she moved her feet
up and down, giggling as she did. When she stopped, she looked at the locket one more time before
closing it and tucking it inside her nightgown. She drifted off to sleep with a tingling in her breasts, and
knew that a halfmile away Harry was dreaming of her.
Back to index

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Chapter 17: Chocoballs Via Owl


Author's Notes: Here's why this fic will satisfy those readers who want it to go on forever (not that I
don't appreciate those sentiments!). This chapter describes the events of only one day. At this rate, the
school term will end in chapter 236, or something like that. :-) Anyway, enjoy, and thanks again to
everyone who nominated HH and voted for it in the DSTAs.
Ginny lay in bed for a long time after she woke up the next morning. She had slept soundly, and she had
dreamed, but she could not recall them clearly. She could remember being with Harry, and being very
happy; they had done things to make each other laugh. In her dreams there was no need for anything or
anybody else.
She stared at the canopy over her bed. The yearning she had felt in her dreams echoed in her waking
heart. Could it be possible that she needed only Harry to be happy? If so, what was she doing here?
Why did she need to be at Hogwarts sleeping alone in her bed in a room with two people she might
never see again after graduation? She could walk out of school and walk down the lane to the village,
walk up the stairs to the flat, and Harry would be there. Their lives would begin, and everything would
be perfect. She felt the locket next to her skin under her nightgown and put her hand on it.
She pushed back the hangings and sat on the edge of the bed. Bailey was clucking in her cage, ducking
her head up and down. Ginny got up and let her out the window, then watched her circle up until she
disappeared over the castle in the direction of the Owlery. She would be happy there, and maybe
McPherson would visit her, and the two owls would get on with their lives.
Ginny sat on her bed again and stared at nothing as the emotional backwash of her dreams ebbed and
flowed. She knew that she couldnt just leave school; her parents, her friends, even Harry would not
want her to do that. Luna and Keesha would wonder how she could do such a thing after all the excited
conversations they had had about the upcoming school year; they might even be hurt.
She took the locket out and smiled back at Harrys picture, then she glanced at the window. He was
coming. She threw open her trunk she had not unpacked it last night and quickly dressed. She heard
her roommates stirring behind their hangings, and hurried out before she had to start listening to the
mornings news report about last nights social activities in the common room, including all the new
romantic pairings. She hurried downstairs, out the portrait hole, and came down the marble staircase into
the entrance hall just as Harry was closing the great oak door behind him.
Ginny stopped on the bottom step and grinned. He beamed back and walked over to her; students were
coming down on their way to breakfast, but they gave Ginny and Harry a wide berth, nudging each other
and whispering.
Good morning, Harry took her hands. You didnt eat breakfast yet?
Ginny shook her head and moved closer until they touched. Did you?
Yeah, Winky insisted, but Ill join you. They walked into the Great Hall and Harry sat on the end of
the bench with his back to the table and his elbows resting on it. Ginny sat next to him and started
serving herself.
I had a dream last night, she said.
Oh? Harry grinned again. About what?
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Oh? Harry grinned again. About what?


Us. When I woke up I wanted to leave school and go to the flat.
Our flat. Why didnt you?
Harry, I have classes. She took a slice of bacon and slowly chewed it. It did cross my mind, just to
drop out and... and go to our flat.
Harry nodded to Professor McGonagall as she passed on her way to the staff table. He saw Professor
Pester, who was already there, eating breakfast with his head buried in a large notebook. Looks like
hes boning up. Do you know yet when you have his class?
Ginny glanced at Pester. No, but I expect Ill be getting my schedule pretty soon. So..., she took a sip
of pumpkin juice, then put the glass down and looked at Harry. What do you think of my idea?
I think if you had shown up I would have opened the door, pulled you inside, and dragged you to the
bedroom. But I dont know what would have happened after we woke up.
Neither do I. She pushed her plate away, and Harry rubbed the back of his hand against her arm. She
leaned toward him and their lips came together. They heard giggling, and looked up to see Emma and
Claire sitting down across from them.
Hello, said Harry, and the twins giggled again and squirmed in their seats. Youre Emma and youre
Claire, right?
No! Claire laughed, you got us wrong, just like she did. She nodded at Ginny.
Okay, well, Im Harry Potter. Ginny told me you both got Sorted into Gryffindor. Welcome.
They blushed. We know who you are, said Claire. Weve seen you snog Ginny twice now.
Claire! Emma frowned. Dont say things like that.
Harry laughed. So, he arched his eyebrows thats how you know who I am, because I snog Ginny?
Of course not, Claire replied, Aunt Hermione showed us your picture in the Daily Prophet, and we
can also see your scar. She pointed to Harrys forehead.
Emma poked her ribs. Shush! she whispered. That was rude.
No, its all right, said Harry, it is my scar. I didnt put it there, but it will never go away.
While the twins considered this, Ginny said to Harry, They also told me that they wanted to be
Gryffindors because of you.
Thats very flattering, Harry shook his head, but you must be true Gryffindors because the Sorting
Hat put you here. I didnt have anything to do with it.
He was saved from further revelations of the twins involvement in his personal life by the arrival of
Professor Flitwick, who was passing out class schedules; he handed one to Ginny.
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Ill be in my office at ten, he said to Harry. Will I see you then?


Yes, Professor. I just came to the castle a little early to, um
Flitwick laughed, a high, tinkling belllike sound that caused nearby students to turn and look. A very
good reason to be here, he chuckled. Ill see you then. And Ill see you in class tomorrow morning,
Miss Weasley. He waved his hand and two schedules floated over the table to the twins, who snatched
them out of the air and began looking them over. He proceeded down the table handing a parchment to
each student.
So what do you have? Harry turned around and looked over her shoulder as she examined her
schedule; he put his hand on her thigh under the table and began moving it up her leg.
Harry, not here, please, I have a nine oclock Herbology.
He leaned so that his chest was pressed against her back. I dreamed about you, too, he whispered. I
cant tell you here, but Ill show you on Friday. He moved his hand again.
Ginny took the errant hand firmly as she smiled at the twins bemused expressions. She pushed it away
but didnt let go, and stood up. She stepped over the bench, then leaned down and put her mouth next to
his ear. Go get your cloak before you see Flitwick, she said in a low voice. Im free from noon until
two. The hammocks must still be there. Ill meet you in the entrance hall. She quickly moved away and
was out the door before Harry could do more than open his mouth; he watched her figure disappear
around the corner.
He glanced around and saw the two girls watching him raptly. He cleared his throat. Whens your first
class?
We have Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall in fifteen minutes, said Emma. What were you
and Ginny talking about?
Nothing, Harry coughed and stood up. I have to get back to the inn now. Have a good class. It was
nice meeting you.
In an hour Harry was back with his Invisibility cloak tucked inside his pocket. He went up to the seventh
floor and waited outside Professor Flitwicks office, his mind wandering back to that frustrating day
long search for Ginny the day after the battle, and the passion of their sleepless night in the hammock.
He sat on the floor leaning against a pedestal on which stood a suit of armor that made occasional
creaking noises as it shifted its legs or moved its heard. Harry stared at the opposite wall and could not
divert his thoughts from the upcoming rendezvous with Ginny. When Professor Flitwick arrived and
stood in front of Harry, he had to tap Harrys knee with his wand to get his attention.
Oh, sorry, Professor, Harry awoke from his reverie and jumped up.
Thats all right, Harry, Im running a little late, and I have another class in less than an hour, so why
dont we get to work. He led the way into his office.
Harry had never been in it before. It was located in a high corner of the castle and had large windows on
two sides. One of the windows extended up into the ceiling, creating a skylight. It gave the room a high,
open feeling, which Harry found interesting, given the Professors tiny stature. The walls were covered
with dozens of small picture frames, and those that were occupied contained portraits of fairies that
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with dozens of small picture frames, and those that were occupied contained portraits of fairies that
flitted in and out of the frames and chattered constantly in high, melodious voices. As Harry walked past,
he thought he saw more than one wink and blow kisses at him.
Where there was empty wall space there were bookcases reaching to the ceiling and crammed with
books. At first Harry wondered why Flitwick would stack shelves so high he couldnt reach anything
more than four feet off the ground but decided that a wizard as talented as he could either levitate
himself or Summon any book he wanted.
The room was dominated by a large frame hung on the wall behind the cluttered desk. In it, Rowena
Ravenclaw sat in a thronelike chair and watched Harry as he approached. Flitwick ignored her and
climbed onto a stool behind the desk, and waved Harry into a chair that appeared out of thin air right
behind his legs. As Harry sat, he was very conscious of being inspected by the portrait.
Flitwick peered at a parchment sitting on the desk, then pushed it aside and looked up at Harry; he
noticed Harrys furtive glances at the portrait. Ah, yes, his blue eyes twinkled under bushy brows.
Shes been impatient to meet you ever since last spring. He glanced back. But we can talk later, if
you dont mind, my dear. Harry has some urgent business with me, and my time is limited.
Ravenclaw frowned, nodded curtly, and walked out of the frame; she had not spoken a word.
Dont mind that, the Professor said. She has a rather haughty nature, and maybe resents the fact that a
nonRavenclaw found her lost diadem. But no matter, I think when you do talk to her, youll find her
charming and, it goes without saying, very intelligent.
Harry nodded; he wasnt sorry that Rowena Ravenclaw had left. Her eyes seemed to penetrate his
thoughts, and since they consisted mostly of a jumble of Ginny and a room full of hammocks, he would
just as soon not have anyone see them.
Is there anything I can do about those Dark Marks, Professor? he said as he tried to put the distracting
images of Ginny out of his head. Im starting to think that its not anyone from Hogsmeade, which
means that its a lot bigger than a nasty prank. And whoever is doing it is pretty talented.
I agree with all that. Flitwick leaned back and put his stubby legs up on his desk and his hands behind
his head. For an instant Harry feared that he would topple backward onto the floor, but a backrest
appeared on the stool and Flitwick smiled. But those are questions for the Aurors. How strongly do you
want to protect the building? Theres a tradeoff, you see. The better its protected, the more difficult it
is to enter the building, or even find it. The most effective protection is the Fidelius, but that prevents
almost anyone from finding it at all. And youve seen what can be done with multiple layers of
protection, which is what Professor Dumbledore put on your house at Grimmauld Place.
Well... Harry was unsure how to answer. Cant we put something up that will just keep the Dark
magic off? Or maybe just detect when someone writes something on the wall?
Now thats a sound idea, Flitwick nodded. The problem, as I see it, is that some of the vandalism has
been caused by nonmagical methods, like painting graffiti. If you put up a spell to prevent that, every
bird that perches on your chimney would set the alarm off. But... He thought for a moment. Yes, it
should be simple enough to detect somethings being written on an outside wall. He jumped down from
the stool, and walked past Harry into the center of the room.
Come here, he beckoned. Stand next to me. Harry came and stood by the Professor and took out his
wand; Flitwick was already holding his. Its a type of shield charm that surrounds and covers
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wand; Flitwick was already holding his. Its a type of shield charm that surrounds and covers
something, like the wall of your inn. It warns you when something touches it, like a paintbrush or a stone
being thrown. When that happens, the wand that cast the protective spell yours, in this case will
vibrate, or warm up, or cool off, or light up. You can set it to whatever kind of warning you like. He
made a circular motion with his wand. Proeido! The window he was pointing his wand at glowed a
dim bluish color, then cleared. Flitwick took a quill from his robes and handed it to Harry. Write
something on the window.
Harry took the quill, dipped it in an inkpot that was sitting on the desk, and went to the window. He
wrote The Hogs Head Inn, and a moment after he was finished he heard a low humming sound.
Professor Flitwick held his wand up. The type of notification is determined by the hand movement. The
incantation is the same. He pointed his wand again and said Finite and for a moment the window
glowed again. Now you try it,
Harry moved away from the window and pointed his wand, but before he could move it or say anything,
one of the panes in the center, where his wand was aimed, glowed. What happened? he blurted.
Flitwick was staring at the window, then he looked up at Harry. Were you going to say the spell? Was
it in your mind?
Harry wished that this had not happened. He realized that it was another example of his phoenix wands
new potency that was, he was certain, a result of its being repaired by the Elder Wand. He wanted to
keep it a secret, and had told no one but Ginny. He hesitated to talk about it even to Ron, because of
what Ron had said and how Ron had acted when Harry had decided, in front of Professor Dumbledores
portrait, that the Elder Wand was going back into the Tomb. And because he couldnt tell Ron, he
couldnt tell Hermione.
It bothered him because he knew he should trust them. How many times had he trusted them both with
his life? But the Elder Wand had a sinister history full of deceit and treachery, and he simply would not
do anything that might tempt Ron in the slightest. Now, he had revealed his wands power to another and
very powerful wizard, and as much as Harry also trusted Professor Flitwick, he knew that telling one
person meant that he would lose control of the secret. With Ginny, there had been no question of not
telling her. He needed someone to confide in, and nothing felt better than having Ginny in his
confidence; there was always a sense of enveloping security when he was in her arms.
These thoughts passed through his mind in an instant. He raised his wand again, and before Professor
Flitwick could react, he made the circular motion and said Proeido! This time the entire window
glowed, as it had for the Professor. Flitwick tilted his head and peered up at Harry, then took the quill
and went to the window. He stood on his tiptoes, reached up, and wrote Wand magic and Harry heard his
wand hum in his hand.
Well, Flitwick returned to the stool behind his desk, climbed onto it, and tossed the quill down.
Youre a fast learner, Harry, but then you always were.
I guess I was, Harry said; he tried to think of something to get Flitwicks mind off what had happened.
So do you think it will work on the entire inn?
I think you can make it work, Flitwick said wryly. If you take a look at Fillmucks Portable Spellery
youll find all the wand motions in it, as well as some refinements that should keep animals from setting
it off. Well, he looked at his watch, its time for my next class. Do you still want to take lessons from
me this fall? he had a questioning look that made Harry uncomfortable.
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Uh, yeah, I do, Professor. I missed my last year of school, and I dont have the brains that Hermione
does to learn things by myself, so yes.
Good. Flitwick smiled. It will be interesting. He nodded again, and Harry said goodbye and left.
He headed down to the library to look up the book that Flitwick had mentioned, but he also wanted to
think about his wand. He hadnt done much serious magic with it since the battle, mostly fun things with
Ginny during the summer. When he had tried to Stun the vandals behind the inn, the spell had flown
high, and he was sure it was because he was not used to controlling the wand. He needed someone to
help him learn how to do that, but he hadnt thought it out too well, because now he might have to tell
Professor Flitwick about it. But maybe he could come up with another fib for why his wand was so
different. He had told Saliyah Ushujaa last summer that it was because Riddle had passed more powers
to him with the Killing Curse in the Forest. He doubted Flitwick would believe that, just as he had seen
skepticism in Saliyahs face. He had a couple of weeks, though, to think of something better, and he
could get Ginnys help.
That thought put his mind on a different track, and he forgot completely about his wand and Charms
lessons. He found a deserted aisle and slipped under his cloak, then made his way back to the entrance
hall. He had to wait only a few minutes until classrooms began to empty, and people began streaming
into the Great Hall for lunch. He spotted Ginny coming up from the dungeons with Luna and Keesha;
she said something to them, and they went on into the Great Hall, while Ginny stood near the marble
staircase looking around.
He walked over to her and called her name. She looked around, then smiled briefly as Harry stuck his
foot out from the cloak so she could see it. She glanced around; nobody was looking and she ducked
under it.
He kissed her, which was not too comfortable because her book bag was between them. How were your
classes? he whispered, as they started climbing the stairs.
Its going to be tough, she said. I just had Potions, and Slughorns having us do the last five chapters
of Advanced Potion Making all over again because the term ended early last year. Well have to catch up
and finish this years textbook. She sighed and looked down.
Ill help, if I can, Harry said; he put his arm around her waist.
Thatll be nice.
They didnt speak until they were standing in the seventhfloor corridor in front of the wall where the
door to the Room of Requirement would appear. Harry waited until two Ravenclaw girls had passed,
then squeezed Ginnys waist and grinned. Here we go. They started walking up and down, and on the
third pass they stopped. Nothing had happened.
Harrys brow furrowed. Whats wrong? I was asking for the same thing I did after the battle. He
started walking again, pulling Ginny along. Again nothing happened. Maybe its this cloak, he looked
down the corridor; no one was in sight, and he took the cloak off. He began walking again as Ginny
watched, but no door appeared.
I dont get this, he said irritably. Why doesnt it work? He stopped and looked at Ginny; she had a
blank expression on her face. Is something wrong? he asked.
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She said nothing for a moment, then seemed to make a decision, and came and put her hands on his chest
and he put his on her shoulders. Harry, its me. I... I dont feel right about this. Im sorry, she said
quickly as Harrys hands dropped and he looked at her in dismay. I shouldnt have said what I did.
You.. I.. You were making me crazy, I wanted you so much when you touched me and... and I said
something I shouldnt have. Im sorry.
But Ive been thinking about you all morning! Why dont you want to? Whats wrong?
Harry, love, nothings wrong. No, thats not true, she shook her head, something is wrong. We
shouldnt be creeping around like this, under your cloak. I love you too much. Im not saying we should
advertise it, but I dont want to sneak off someplace every time we make love. And, she hesitated.
Harry, I have to concentrate on schoolwork. If I dont, Ill fail every class. Please, dont be angry.
Ginny reached to put her hand on his crestfallen face, but Harry took a step back. He lifted his hands in a
shrug, then let them drop to his sides. He looked away from her down the corridor, and when he looked
back he was scowling. I love you too, but...
He abruptly started to stride away. Ginny was speechless for a moment, but before she could hurl angry
words, he abruptly stopped, then turned back. Her anger vanished when she saw his eyes. Ginny, he
said in a strangled voice, what am I doing? That was so stupid. Of course youre right. He held his
hands out to her and she came. He took her face in his hands and kissed her. Youre always right. Im
sorry, Ive been stupid all day.
She smiled up at him. You werent stupid, you were gallant, and it was partly no, mostly my fault. I
shouldnt have said what I did, and how could I expect you not to jump at it?
It would be impossible. He looked down. Id have to be dead.
Harry, dont say that. Listen, Im still free until two, so lets have a quick lunch and go for a walk down
by the lake. Its beautiful out, and I need to clear my head before Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Ah, the peacock Pester, Harry laughed. Ask him about the owl I sent yesterday. He put his cloak
back in his pocket and they started down to the Great Hall. I got a spell from Flitwick to use on the inn.
But, he glanced around and lowered his voice, my wand went crazy and he noticed it, of course. I still
want to take lessons from him, but I dont know what to tell him about the wand. Here, give me that.
Ginny smiled and handed him her book bag. Still the gallant one. You dont want to tell him about the
Elder Wand?
Harry shook his head, but didnt answer as they came into the crowded entrance hall. They found seats
at the Gryffindor table, and ate while Ginny fended off questions from Jimmy Peakes about the
Quidditch team; he told her that the signup sheet had been posted just before lunch, and there were
already twenty names on it.
Well talk about it this afternoon, she said. I cant say anything until I see whos on it. She and
Harry finished eating and left the Hall; they passed Emma and Claire on their way out, but the twins
were having an excited conversation with four other firstyears about the Wingardium leviosa they had
just learned, and didnt notice them. It was sunny and warm outside, and Harry and Ginny walked down
the crowded lawn to the lake. Harry noticed that she steered them away from the path to Hagrids cabin;
he didnt say anything, but he knew that she was avoiding the place where Elizabeth Derby had died.
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They found one of their favorite secluded spots at the edge of the Forest not too far from the White
Tomb, and when Ginny pushed him down on the soft grass, Harry wondered for a moment if she had
changed her mind; she kissed him passionately and moved her hands under his shirt. But after a moment
she rolled off and took a breath. She lay on her back and Harry leaned on his elbow and caressed her
face. She looked at him and started to speak, but he put his hand on her mouth.
Im fine waiting until Friday, he said, and grinned. Well have a dinner party, just the two of us,
catered by an elf. And itll last all weekend, what do you say?
She took his hand and kissed it. That sounds like a very nice party. Should I bring anything?
Dessert. I mean, yourself.
Yum. She laughed and started to pull him down again, but Harry stopped her.
No, I mean it. You have work to do, your classes, and organizing the team. Youll have to deal with
everyone who thinks theyre the next Viktor Krum. Here, sit up.
He sat behind her and started running his fingers through her hair. Wait, she said, and reached into her
book bag and took out a comb. Use this.
Harry combed her hair as she sat between his legs. They didnt speak, but listened to the leaves rustling
in the breeze. The time passed and Ginny turned and looked at him. I love you so much, she said.
Harry smoothed her hair with his hand. Your hair is the second most beautiful thing in the universe.
When we have kids, I want them to have your hair.
Ginny laughed. Ordering up your children already? Okay, I want them to have green eyes.
Ill do my best if you will.
That means lots of desserts. She leaned her back against him and closed her eyes; Harry put his arms
around her, and they were still, until Ginny finally sighed and sat up. Come on, my mind is as clear as
itll ever be. I think Im ready for Morequest Pester. They got up, but he stopped her as she started to
walk.
I didnt get to tell you that I love you, too. They kissed, and then Harry picked up her book bag and
they walked back to the castle. They parted on the steps outside, and Harry waited until she started up
the marble stairs in the entrance hall, then he turned down the curving drive, wondering how he was
going to survive until Friday.
Professor Pester had put his own decorative stamp on the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, just
as all of his predecessors had. Ginny walked in and saw posters lining the walls, but these were not
photos of tortured, agonized victims of the Dark Arts like the ones Professor Snapes had used. These
were famous Aurors from the past and present. The first one she noticed was Alastor Moody, whose
disfigured face glared at her from behind the desk. Rufus Scrimgeour was there, as was Kingsley
Shacklebolt with his gold earring. She recognized a few others, but most were unknown to her, and she
could tell from the style of robes some wore that they had served in the distant past, maybe even thirty or
forty years ago. She looked for Nymphadora Tonks, but her friend was not there: too young to have been
noticed by Morequest Pester, Ginny assumed.
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She sat next to Keesha, and soon Luna wandered in and joined them. Hi, Ginny. Hi, Keesha, she
looked at the posters and smiled. Im glad its redecorated. I hated all those Death Eater masks that the
Carrows put up. Did they stay up for the whole year? I wasnt around, you know.
They stayed up, Keesha said, until Harry got here. She smiled at Ginny. I heard that you already
met Professor Pester.
Yeah. He seemed to be very impressed with himself, but I think he does know his stuff. You know,
Gilderoy Lockheart with brains. Keesha laughed, and Luna stared at the posters.
Ginny looked around at the other students, and saw, to her displeasure, that Jace Kleinhead was sitting in
a back row with a few other Slytherins. He didnt look at her, even after she deliberately stared at him
for almost a minute. As she was looking back at him, the door opened and Professor Pester walked in.
The room fell silent as he walked to the front, placed the notebook Ginny had seen him with at breakfast
on the desk, and turned to face them. He did not smile, but had a very serious, businesslike expression.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Professor Morequest Pester, and I will be teaching
you Defense Against the Dark Arts. This is a N.E.W.T. level class, and Ill have N.E.W.T. level
expectations of all of you. He looked slowly around the room; his eyes paused on Ginny, and he nodded
to her. The subject matter will be from a seventhyear textbook, but it will be liberally supplemented
with material from my own extensive and excellent experience as a professional Dark wizard hunter. We
have a problem, however.
He got up and started walking around the class, his hands clasped behind his back. As far as Defense
Against the Dark Arts is concerned, youre last year here was a total waste. The person who taught it was
a criminal who tried to teach criminal behavior. He stopped in front of the Slytherins in the back row;
everyone else was craning their necks to look at him. We will have to cover two years worth of
material in one year. Dont expect any slack time here, and dont expect me to tolerate even a hint of
anyones practicing Dark Arts. He said the last directly to the Slytherins, and Jace Kleinhead glowered
at him.
Pester turned on his heel and marched back to the front, looking at each student as he passed. He paused
next to Luna, who was gazing serenely up at the ceiling. Excuse me, Miss Lovegood, are you listening
to me?
She blinked and fixed her bulging eyes on him. No, not at this moment, because you arent saying
anything.
A titter passed around the classroom, and Ginny could see Keeshas sides shaking as she suppressed a
laugh. Pester gave Luna an annoyed look and continued on to the front; he went behind his desk and sat
down. Nonverbal incantations. Who can tell me what they are? Miss Lovegood?
Luna smiled at him. Is this a trick question?
Pester stared at her for a moment. I can assure you, Miss Lovegood, I dont ask trick questions. Can
someone answer?
Its where you say the incantation in your head, Hector Freeman called out.
Yes, thats right, Luna said before Pester could continue. She turned to look at Hector. Ten points for
Ravenclaw! She was the only one who laughed, and she turned apologetically back to the front. Im
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Ravenclaw! She was the only one who laughed, and she turned apologetically back to the front. Im
sorry, Professor, I was only trying to lighten things up a little.
Wands out! said Pester. Pair up! I want you to take turns using Expelliarmus and Protego on each
other, nonverbally.
Ginny nudged Keesha. You take Luna, she whispered, otherwise no one will. Keesha nodded and
tapped Luna on her shoulder. Luna turned with a surprised and then a pleased expression. Thanks,
Keesha, she said, and smiled.
Ginny paired with a Hufflepuff girl who she knew only from classes, Ruth Madison, who wasnt very
good at first, and Ginny had no trouble Disarming her almost every time she cast the spell. She wasnt
sure why she herself was so adept with a nonverbal spell, though. She had a tiny suspicion that it had
something to do with Harry, who was very good at it. Professor Pester was walking around the room,
giving out instructions and correcting hand movements. When he stopped to watch Ginny and Ruth,
Ginny glanced at him, and he nodded to her with the same sardonic smile he had used in back of the inn.
Ginny frowned, and at that moment Ruth cast her first successful nonverbal Expelliarmus and Ginny
flew up into the air and landed uncomfortably on her rearend at Pesters feet. Her wand sailed across
the room onto the floor, where Jace Kleinhead looked at her and kicked it under a cabinet.
Never let yourself be distracted, Miss Weasley, Professor Pester said, and walked away.
Ruth was kneeling next to her. Im so sorry, Ginny, she said anxiously. I didnt mean to hurt you.
Ginny grimaced and stood, and gingerly rubbed where it hurt. No, dont apologize, she said. I let my
guard down. She looked ruefully at Professor Pester, who was helping two other students and ignored
her. Did you see where my wand went? she asked Ruth.
She nodded toward the cabinet. Under there. Kleinhead kicked it.
Give me your wand for a second, Ginny said quietly. She walked with it to the side of the room where
the Slytherins were attempting to cast their spells; they all smirked at her. Without taking her eyes from
Jace Kleinhead, she pointed the wand at the base of the cabinet. Accio wand, she nonverbalized,
and when it was in her hand, she pointed it at Jace, smiled sweetly, and the next instant he was thrown
across the room against the wall. He slid down and thudded to the floor, and lay there looking at her
fearfully.
I didnt realize you were paired with Mr. Kleinhead, Professor Pester said from behind her. It does
seem as though youve mastered the technique. He walked to the Slytherin boy, who was gasping for
breath, picked up his wand and pulled him off the floor by his arm, then handed him his wand. Protego,
he said loudly. Thats the shield charm. Are you familiar with it?
Kleinhead nodded curtly, then pulled his arm away; he glared at Ginny and went back to his seat, where
he was joined by the rest of the Slytherins who looked daggers at her until she met their eyes, and then
they averted them.
Seats, everyone! Pester called, and Ginny and Keesha grinned at each other as they sat. The Professor
continued. The first part of todays homework assignment will be to read the first four chapters of your
text, and write twelve inches summarizing them. By the end of next week everyone must be proficient at
nonverbal spells, so we can move on.
He glanced at his watch. We have about fifteen minutes left, he went on briskly. I want to discuss the
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He glanced at his watch. We have about fifteen minutes left, he went on briskly. I want to discuss the
subject of Unforgivable Curses. Please take notes. Ginny perked up; was he doing this because of the
dead weasel? She took out a parchment and a quill, and bent over her desk as Pester began.
You all know what an Unforgivable Curse is, and you all know that its illegal to use one. A few years
ago, Im sure you all remember that an imposter disguised as Alastor Moody demonstrated them in this
classroom, and he would have gotten into a lot of trouble if Headmaster Dumbledore had not supported
him. MadEye Moody was one of the greatest Aurors who ever lived, and he captured more Dark
wizards than anyone, but personally I dont think what the imposter did here was right. Now, part of my
job as teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts is
He stopped and everyone looked up. He was staring at Luna, who was, again, gazing up at the ceiling.
Her quill was lying on the desk; she had not written a single word. Pester cleared his throat. Miss
Lovegood, would you care to join us?
She looked around. Where are we going?
Pester ignored the sniggering. Ive been talking. Can you recall for me what I said? It was important, I
think.
She nodded. You said, You all know what an Unforgivable Curse is, and you all know that its illegal
to use one. A few years ago, an exAuror named Alastor Moody demonstrated them in this classroom

Thank you, Miss Lovegood! Pester cut her off loudly.


Youre welcome, Professor, she said cheerfully. Is there anything else you forgot that you want me to
tell you?
Class dismissed!
Ginny and Keesha controlled themselves until they were out in the corridor with Luna, then they fell into
each others arms, and couldnt stop laughing until Professor Pester came out of the classroom and swept
past them; he strode quickly down the hall and around a corner.
Luna, that was brilliant! Ginny chortled and wiped tears from her eyes. I didnt know you could
memorize things like that.
Oh, yes, she said seriously, I can remember all kinds of things. I learned how to do it from my dad.
Keesha burst out laughing again, and then Ginny did. Luna smiled uncertainly, but she also looked
pleased with herself.
You got us out of more homework, Keesha said, trying to catch her breath. Like Ginny said, that was
brilliant!
I did? Thats probably for the best. He didnt seem to know what he was doing. Luna waved and
turned up the staircase that led to the Ravenclaw tower.
Ginny also waved to Keesha. See you later. Ive got to start organizing the Quidditch team. They
parted, and Ginny headed for the common room. She came through the portrait hole and saw a small
group of students gathered around the notice board; Jimmy Peakes saw her and beckoned. Let me put
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group of students gathered around the notice board; Jimmy Peakes saw her and beckoned. Let me put
my books away, she called. Ill be right back.
When she returned the crowd had grown, and they all turned to her, then made a path for her to get to
the notice board. She took down the Quidditch signup sheet and sat at a table. Jimmy, Demelza, and
Ritchie also sat, and the rest crowded around. Ginny ran her finger down the list; there were only four
experienced players, including herself, which was not necessarily bad, but she noticed that no one had
signed up to play Keeper.
She looked at the faces around her. No one wants to try out for Keeper?
There was silence, until a small voice spoke from the back. I will. Dennis Creevey pushed his way
through, and smiled at Ginny.
Youre too small, Jimmy Peakes scowled. You couldnt even block one goal, let alone all three.
I am not too small! Dennis exclaimed angrily. Giulio Delucca on Napoli United is an inch shorter
than I am, and hes the best in the Italian league.
Hes at least two inches taller than you, and thats the weakest league on the continent, Jimmy
rejoined. We need someone with a little range.
Well, Ginny interrupted the argument, if no one else is going to try out, then Dennis is the tallest
Keeper we have. Quickness is just as important as reach.
Im extremely quick, Dennis said quickly, before Jimmy could object. Small is quick.
Ginny chuckled. And small is also feisty, like my brothers used to say. Okay, Ill pencil you in as
Keeper. She looked around. I want to get started with tryouts as soon as possible, since well have at
least three new players on the team. Ill see about scheduling the pitch for this Satur She paused. Um,
next Saturday. Meanwhile, Ill keep the sheet up on the board. The more signups we have, the better.
Ginny felt satisfied, except for the small difficulty she saw coming with her weekends. They could have
short practices on weekdays, but they would need weekends for the longer sessions of intricate passing
and blocking drills. She would also have to come from Hogsmeade to meet up with the team at the pitch
on those days, since she was not going to impinge on the time she and Harry had alone.
She also felt excited. She had never been the Quidditch leader before; even when she played Seeker in
place of Harry two years ago, it was understood that it was his team, and she was just playing his
position, not captaining the team. And last year had been a joke, with the Carrows not allowing captains
and controlling everything; they had rightly suspected that the Quidditch teams, except for Slytherin,
were hotbeds of rebellion, perfect covers for subversive activities. Now she was running the show, and
she already had ideas percolating in her mind: tactics, training methods, signals. She suddenly realized
that, as much as she loved playing Quidditch with Harry, she liked the idea of running the team by
herself.
It was getting toward dinner time, and she also had to check some Herbology and Potions books in the
library, so she decided to eat early. As she was leaving through the portrait hole, she heard her name
called, and saw Emma and Claire following her. She waited for them, and they went down to the Great
Hall together. How was your first day of classes? she asked.
Transfiguration was great! said Emma. I almost changed my matches, but they kept on lighting and
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Transfiguration was great! said Emma. I almost changed my matches, but they kept on lighting and
burning up. Herbology was okay, but some of those plants she talked about were disgusting.
I liked Care of Magical Creatures best, Claire chimed in. I love Hagrid. Hes funny.
He is wonderful, Ginny agreed. So it feels good to be learning magic?
Yes! they said together. There are two Muggleborns in Hufflepuff, and I think well be friends,
Emma added. Even thought theyre boys.
Boys can be okay, Ginny smiled. I grew up with six brothers. You just have to know how to handle
them.
Will you teach us that? Claire was serious. We dont have any brothers.
Ginny laughed. Ill be happy to talk to you, but youre on your own when youre with them. They dont
like it when someones analyzing them.
Whats that mean? Emma asked.
Dont talk about them in front of other people, unless youre sure they wont find out. And thats all the
advice Im going to give you now.
They entered the Great Hall and Ginny looked at the staff table. Professor Pester was sitting by himself
at the end, his head once again buried in his notebook. The teachers sitting near him Madame Hooch
and Professor Sprout were engaged in conversation and didnt seem to notice him. Ginny wondered if
he even wanted any friends here.
She ate and spent the next few hours in the library, working on her parchment for Pester and doing
research for Potions and Herbology, and went back up to the Gryffindor Tower tired from her first day
of real studying in six months. She flopped down on her bed, pulled the hangings shut both of her
roommates were lying in their beds, chattering loudly to each other about a new liaison between a
Hufflepuff fourthyear girl and a Ravenclaw sixthyear boy and took out her locket; it was dark
enough that she didnt have to cup her hands over the picture to see Harrys green eyes sparkle and
glow. There were only two more days until she would be with him in his their fourposter. This had
been an eventful day, but the thing that stood out in her mind was the look in Harrys eyes when he had
turned back to her outside the Room of Requirement. He had been hurt and very frustrated but he
had understood and had taken her face in his hands and kissed her. Her heart had utterly melted, and for
the rest of the time they were together she would have done anything for him.
She pushed the hangings back and got up. She would go to the Owlery and send Bailey to him with a
letter; at least she could tell him how good she had felt. But as she was slipping her shoes back on, there
was a scratching at the window, and she saw McPherson perched on the sill, a small bundle tied to his
leg and a mouse dangling by its tail from his beak.
Her roommates were staring at the owl. Eww, dont let that thing in here, Sarah made a face. Its got
a dead something in its mouth.
Its a mouse, owls eat mice, Ginny said. She opened the window, but McPherson didnt try to come in;
he extended his leg and Ginny took the package. Is that tidbit for Bailey? she said. The owl puffed his
chest and hooted. As he flew off, Ginny called, Come back later! Ill have a message for Harry! She
smiled and closed the window, then returned to her bed and closed the hangings, ignoring the curious
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smiled and closed the window, then returned to her bed and closed the hangings, ignoring the curious
looks of Sarah and Christina.
She opened the package; inside was a small box wrapped in pink paper with the Honeydukes label, and
inside that were three chocoballs. There was also a piece of parchment. Ginny bit into one of the
chocoballs and let the strawberry mousse and clotted cream fill her mouth; she closed her eyes and
savored the heavenly taste.
The parchment was a short note from Harry.
Ginny my love,
This is my gift for you tonight, since I cant be with you. You are the most precious person
in the world, and I love you so much I cant stand it. I will dream of you again tonight.
Love, Harry

Ginny leaned back on her pillow. Here, at the end of the day, she had the same desire to chuck it all and
go to Harry that she had this morning. She reached out of the hangings and took parchment, quill, and
ink from her night stand and wrote.
Beloved,
Chocoballs are my favorite! As I am eating them, I imagine that I am in heaven, but I can
never really be in that place unless I am with you, and that is where I truly am when we are
together.
Tonight I will love you in my dreams.
Your dessert,
Ginny
PS Dont forget to find me on your map.

When McPherson returned a half an hour later, Ginny gave him the note and went to bed, wishing that
Harry was there to comb her hair and kiss her good night.
Back to index

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Chapter 18: Veela Magic


Author's Notes: Well, at least this chapter covers more than a single day. I am posting it a few days
sooner than I expected, thanks to my wonderful editor-wife Candace I used to call her my beta-wife, but
for some reason she didn't like that. :-) She edited it today (Sunday) even though she's not feeling well.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it.
Harry sat in the love seat in front of a cold fireplace and reread Ginnys note. McPherson had just
flown in the open window with it, and was now sitting on his perch, preening and cleaning the downy
feathers on his chest. Harry didnt know why, but his owl looked very pleased with himself.
Despite the open window, the room was permeated with the flowery scent of Ginnys Bouquedelle.
Harry tried not to use it too often, since it sometimes made him yearn for her so much that he couldnt
function; in fact, once, over the past weekend before Ginny had arrived on the Hogwarts Express, Stan
had knocked on the door with some business about the inn right after Harry had received a particularly
hot owl from Ginny and had used the Bouquedelle. Stan couldnt help but notice Harrys condition; he
thought that his boss was drunk.
But tonight, when McPherson returned with Ginnys reply, Harry had given in to the urge when he read
Your dessert. He kissed the Bouquedelle, and let the essence of Ginny engulf him.
It wasnt only the provocative salutation that drove him to use the heirloom. Harry was facing another
night alone in the inn. He didnt like it when it was this quiet and he and Winky were the only creatures
in the building. He was feeling very alone. Ginny was in her bed in the Gryffindor tower the
Marauders Map lay open on the love seat next to him but Harry was sitting by himself in front of an
unlit fire. The Bouquedelle was the only answer he had.
When the scent had finally dissipated, he waved his wand carefully and three sticks of wood floated
from a bin next to the door and into the fireplace. He flicked the wand and the logs burst into flames. He
watched the fire crackle and dance, until he started seeing Ginnys red hair waving and swirling in the
flames; he jerked the wand and the fire went out with a loud pop.
He got up and went to McPhersons perch. The owl stopped preening while Harry stroked McPhersons
back. You know what I think? Harry said. I think you went to see Bailey tonight. Ill bet you had a
date. He sighed. Lucky bird.
He wandered aimlessly around the room, adjusting pictures on the wall, peering at the old photos of his
parents and the Order that were sitting on the mantel, looking into the kitchen for no particular reason.
He sat back down in the love seat and tried to read The Portable Spellery which he had ordered that
afternoon from Flourish and Blotts, but he put it down after reading the same sentence about micro
weather charms four times.
He stared at the wall and wondered how he was going to last until Friday evening, let alone until the end
of the school year. Now he wasnt worried just about missing Ginny, but how he would pass the time
when he was stuck here by himself week after week. Maybe it would be different after the inn opened to
the public, which was supposed to happen this Saturday evening. Then he could spend his evenings
sitting in the dining room, sharing cheer and conversation with Stan and Tony, Ron and Hermione, and
all the members of Dumbledores Army who had been so enthusiastic about the inn when they helped
him meet the train.
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Cheered somewhat by these thoughts, Harry lit the fire again and opened his new Charms book. He read
for an hour and finally dozed off in the love seat. He awoke when the sun came in the picture window
the next morning, feeling stiff and not well rested. McPhersons perch was empty.
In the Gryffindor girls dormitory, Ginny bounced out of bed with a feeling of great expectation. She had
enjoyed all of her classes yesterday, and she was looking forward to more of the same today, including
double Defense Against the Dark Arts. If nothing else, there was the hope of more entertainment courtesy
of Professor Pesters inability to get the better of Luna; Ginny was sure that a selfimportant prat like
Pester would not be satisfied until he had gotten the upper hand, and Ginny didnt think that very likely.
And her dreams had once again been filled with Harry, but this time they didnt leave her with the
almost desperate yearning for him that the dreams of the night before had. It was now less than two days
until she would be with him, and she was savoring the anticipation.
She decided to go up to the Owlery first and send a note to Harry, so after getting dressed she wrote out
a quick love letter and told him what she could remember of her dreams. She paused and thought for a
moment. She grinned wickedly to herself, then wrote in delicious detail all the different kinds of desserts
Harry could expect after their private dinner tomorrow. Feeling a little warm herself, she took the note to
the Owlery, and there, perched side by side on a ledge about half way up the wall, were Bailey and
McPherson. Baileys head was tucked under her wing, while McPherson looked benignly down at Ginny.
She laughed with delight. You dont waste any time, do you? she called. I have a letter for Harry.
Who wants to take it to him?
Neither owl moved. Then Bailey stepped sideways toward McPherson and gave him a butt with her head.
He clucked loudly, but after another push he flew down to Ginny and extended his leg.
Thanks for the enthusiasm, she said. I guess it is a little early in the morning, but this should make
him happy. He flew out a window, and Ginny went to breakfast.
Emma and Claire had saved her a seat and as soon as she sat down they began pelting her with questions
about their upcoming Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
Its the most important subject youll take here, Ginny told them as she began eating a large stack of
hotcakes drenched in butter and maple syrup. You have to study hard, and you have to pay attention.
Things out in the world are much better than they used to be, but
You mean Voldemort, said Emma. We heard about him, but Harry killed him.
Yes, but there are still people out there who think like him. You saw those prats on the train? Why do
you think Keesha and I pulled our wands on them? It wasnt to tickle them.
The girls nodded soberly. Would they have done something to you? Claire asked.
Ginny shrugged. Yes, if they thought they could get away with it. Theyre bullies and cowards, and if
they think youll fight back, theyll probably leave you alone. She speared a sausage with her fork. But
there are a lot fewer wizards and witches like them than there used to be, and nobodys scared of them
like it was before Harry killed Volde I mean, Riddle.
Why do you call him Riddle? Emma asked.
Because that was his name. He gave himself the name Voldemort because he hated his father and he
thought his new name would frighten people. She smiled. But we dont have to worry about him
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thought his new name would frighten people. She smiled. But we dont have to worry about him
anymore, thanks to Harry.
The twins nodded, then Claire got a sly look. So, are there tickling spells?
Ginny laughed. There sure are. Do you want me to teach you some? It wouldnt have anything to do
with two certain Hufflepuff boys, would it? They blushed and started eating again.
Soon it was time for the twins class, and Ginny went back to her room. She was free until her Charms
class at ten oclock, and was hoping for a reply from Harry. But there was none, so she packed her book
bag and went to the library to finish her parchment for Professor Pester.
Harry was in the dining room of the inn when McPherson arrived with Ginnys letter. He heard the owl
hooting and opened the front door; McPherson was perched on the new sign hanging above the doorway.
Harriet Smythe had painted a smiling pig with an oversized head, the same picture that the crew meeting
the train had worn on their tee shirts. Harry held out his arm and the owl flapped down. Thanks, Harry
said as he took the parchment; he raised his arm and McPherson flew back up to the sign. He flexed his
wings and peered down at Harry. I cant write an answer right now, Harry started to open the note, so
why dont you wait upstairs. When Im done with Stan Ill be up.
McPherson flew up to the open casement window and Harry walked slowly back inside, reading the
letter and smiling at Ginnys description of her dreams, but he stopped when he got to her list of
desserts, and looked at Stan who was working on a column of numbers in a large ledger; it was a list
of groceries, meats, and vegetables that Winky would need for the inns first week. Harry jammed the
note into his pocket. He would have to wait until he got upstairs to finish it; from the little he had read,
though, it seemed that Ginnys remarkable imagination had been working overtime.
He managed to concentrate on the task at hand for another hour, but the letter was burning a hole in his
pocket, so as soon as they had totaled up the last column and Harry had written out the order for Stan to
take to the post office, he closed the ledger and hurried upstairs.
Ginny had outdone herself in provocation, and Harry wondered where she had gotten all these
spectacular ideas. He wrote a single line in reply: Ill lay in a large supply of chocolate syrup. He
sealed the parchment and tied it to McPhersons leg. Try to give this to her when shes alone, he told
the owl. McPherson ducked his head once and flew out the window.
Harry leaned on the sill and watched the bird as it became a speck and then disappeared. He could see
the Astronomy Tower in the distance above the rooftops of Hogsmeade. Over there was Ginny, and over
there was the only place, until now, where he felt at home, even if it was only a bed in a room he shared
with four other boys. As much as he was welcome at the Burrow, he was really only a guest there, if a
wellloved guest. He looked back into the parlor and wondered if this was now his home. He loved the
way Ginny had decorated and furnished it, but he had to admit that it was Ginny that made it feel like a
home; would any place he lived be a home without her?
He looked at the parchment in his hand and couldnt help smiling. How had he come so far so fast with
this bewitching girl? He had never thought that he could be so incandescently happy, that making her
happy would be such a consuming passion, a need really. And everything that Ginny did told him that
she wanted only the same thing: to make him happy. He read the letter once more with its scandalous
suggestions, and laughed. He had never imagined while out hunting Horcruxes that life could go so
quickly from terror and misery to peace and joy.
Back in the library, Ginny finished her parchment and looked around to see if Luna or Keesha had come
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Back in the library, Ginny finished her parchment and looked around to see if Luna or Keesha had come
in. She found them back in a corner also working on Defense Against the Dark Arts homework. They
went up to the classroom together, and by the looks everyone was giving Luna, everyone was hoping for
more entertainment from that quarter. Luna was completely unaware of it, and when Professor Pester
walked in he collected the homework, told them to pair up again, and ignored Luna.
Ruth was getting better at nonverbal spells, and Ginny had to concentrate to keep from being
disarmed. When the hour was up, Pester made some general remarks about their progress, then
immediately launched into the lecture he had begun yesterday on Unforgivable Curses. He never even
looked at Luna, and she spent the hour once again gazing up at the ceiling.
After about fifteen minutes, Ginny began wondering what the point was. Pester was describing Tom
Riddles use of the Imperius Curse, which everyone already knew about. Ginny glanced at Keesha who
rolled her eyes and mouthed Boooring. Ginny nodded in bleary agreement and started drawing little
hearts with arrows through them on her parchment.
Pester droned on. By the time the hour was almost over, Ginny was struggling to keep her eyes open, as
were most of the class. Only Luna looked wide awake as she continued to stare at the ceiling, blinking
every few minutes.
So! Professor Pester picked up a copy of their textbook from his desk and dropped it from about two
feet up. Everyone jumped at the loud noise except Luna and several students looked around as though
they had just woken up. Todays homework is another twelve inches on the topic weve been
discussing: should Unforgivable Curses be made Traceable? I expect you to use at least two of the cases
I mentioned today as support for your arguments. He gave them his best sardonic smile. Dismissed.
Well, that wasnt very fair, Keesha complained as they left the classroom. How am I supposed to use
his examples when I was sound asleep when he gave them?
I can help, said Luna. I think I was the only one listening, although Jace Kleinhead was snoring so
loudly I had trouble hearing sometimes.
That would be a lifesaver, Keesha took Lunas arm. Can we get together after dinner?
I loved the way he said we were discussing it, Ginny said sarcastically. If that was a discussion then
Im Merlin. He just likes to hear himself talk. They all chuckled, then agreed to meet in the entrance
hall at eight oclock and find someplace they could study together.
Ginny returned to her room and found McPherson perched outside on the gargoyle. She opened the
window and took Harrys message. She laughed when she read it, and quickly wrote out a reply: Dont
forget the cherries and whipped cream. McPherson dutifully took it and flew off.
The rest of Ginnys day was spent in Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies classes. All students were
required to take Muggle Studies for the first semester; it was being taught by Professor Samantha
Sweetwater, a pureblood witch who had been thrown into Azkaban by the Death Eaters when she refused
to renounce her Muggle husband. Headmistress McGonagall was determined that every student should
learn about the persecutions that had taken place.
Ginny also spent a good amount of time sending and receiving messages with Harry. She enlisted Bailey
in the operation, and by late evening, after Ginny had returned from the library, the two owls were flying
between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade every fifteen minutes. Harry started making his own suggestions for
desserts, and then for the other courses, too, and Ginny had to closet herself inside her bed hangings to
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desserts, and then for the other courses, too, and Ginny had to closet herself inside her bed hangings to
hide her mirth from her roommates; they had become more and more curious about the amount of owl
traffic in and out of their room, and some of Harrys suggestions were making Ginny howl with laughter.
His last message of the night was not another dessert recipe, but another little package from Honeydukes
with a good night note inside. Ginny sampled a toffees and decided that she would eat only one of the
candies every night and save the rest for the next day. She fell asleep with a smile on her face and
feelings of anticipation in the rest of her; tomorrow was Friday.
Harry slept well that night in his bed and as soon as he awoke the next morning he looked at the
Marauders Map and located Ginny in the common room. She didnt stay there long, but soon left with
Dennis Creevey and went to breakfast. Harry went downstairs for his own breakfast, which was waiting
on the counter in the kitchen. He greeted Winky, who was bent over with her head in the oven, shifting
something around inside.
Whats in the oven? Harry asked, sitting on a stool and pulling a bowl of cornflakes to him.
Winky peered back at him. Winkys head, said the elf, and Harry laughed. She backed out and
straightened up. Winky is just cleaning. Winkys oven must be ready for tomorrow.
Right, Harry nodded. Our first night. Im a little nervous
Winkys large eyes twinkled. Harry Potter must not worry about anything. When Winky was at
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, she was learning how to make meals for hundreds of
students. Besides, she has done something last night which Harry Potter must not be angry about.
You did something? This was an interesting confession; Winky wasnt exactly a passive creature, but
he had never known her to do anything out of the ordinary on her own.
Winky looked up at Harry with a mischievous smile. Winky is asking Kreacher to come help her.
Kreacher! Winky, thats a great idea. Why didnt I think of it?
Yes, Winky is wondering the same thing. But Harry Potters mind is on other things.
Youre right, Harry shook his head. It was true, and he knew it, and he wasnt sorry for it. He was
doing all of this for Ginny, and because of that he couldnt help thinking about her no matter what else
he was doing. As long as he had Winky and Stan and maybe Kreacher to take care of the details, he
could make the decisions and let his employees handle everything. Besides, Ginny was going to be at the
inn only on the weekends, so he had the rest of the week to deal with the inevitable problems; both
Rosmerta and George had assured him that there would always be problems.
Im glad you asked Kreacher to come, he said. How would you feel if he stayed here and helped with
things?
Winky shrugged. Kreacher is Harry Potters houseelf, so Harry Potter can do that. She smiled again.
Kreacher is a nice elf. He treats Winky like his daughter. He helped Winky when she was drinking too
much butterbeer. She filled a bucket of water at the sink and went to the oven and started cleaning the
burners on top.
Why dont you use magic to do that? Harry asked. It would be faster.
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Sometimes Winky is wanting to do it herself, was all the elf would say.
Harry took his dishes to the sink and went out into the dining room. Today he would meet Stan at The
Three Broomsticks to look at two paintings that Harriet had done for him. Before he left, though, he took
out the map and looked for Ginny; she was in the library, and he saw Keesha Baker and Luna sitting at a
table with her. He tucked the map in his pocket and headed out the door.
He walked down the High Street, waving to people he knew in Honeydukes, Scrivenshafts, and the
other shops along the way. It was a pleasantly cool morning, slightly overcast. He passed the post office
and someone looked at him through a window. He knew who it was, and picked up his pace; he did not
want to encounter Turquoise Southeby. He hurried on to The Three Broomsticks. Stan was in the back of
the room talking to Harriet, and Harry could see the two paintings propped against the wall behind the
bar. As he walked back to them, the door that led to the field behind the building opened, and Turquoise
walked in.
Harry thought it was a little strange. She had entered no more than a few seconds after him, but she was
not breathing fast, and did not look as though she had been running. She smiled at him, but he ignored
her and joined Stan and Harriet in front of the large paintings. One was a picture of The Hogs Head
itself, viewed from the side but with the new sign visible, and the other was a view of Hogsmeade
Station and the crowded platform with porters and other witches and wizards standing there; Harry could
even see Hagrid back in the shadows.
These are beautiful, Harriet! he exclaimed. Theyll be perfect in the dining room. Youre a genius!
Oh, she turned red, theyre nothing really. But Im glad you like them.
I love them. He stepped back to get a better look and bumped into someone. He turned and saw
Turquoise standing inches from him, smiling. Excuse me, he said, I didnt see you. He turned back.
She moved to stand next to him. Oh, Harriet, she gushed, how do you do something like this? I could
never be so creative. Dont you think shes creative, Harry?
Harry glanced at her. At least she wasnt dressed like a whore, probably because she had been working
in the post office when she saw him. But she made up for it with the simpering look on her face and little
swaying movements of her hips and shoulders. Harry looked at Stan, then at Harriet. Well take them
up to the inn now, he said to Stan, ignoring Turquoise. Do we have something to wrap them in?
Harriet disappeared into a back room, and Harry waited, irritably conscious of Southeby only a foot
away. He put his hands on the bar and tapped his fingers until Harriet returned with a large cloth. Stan
placed the two painting against each other backtoback, and Harriet slung the cloth over them. Harry
took out his wand and the paintings rose a few feet into the air.
As he directed them toward the door, Turquoise ran ahead. Here, let me get the door, Harry. She held
it open while the paintings, then Harry, then Stan and Harriet went through. Harry nodded curtly to
Turquoise, then began walking quickly back up the High Street with the covered paintings floating in
front of him. The door closed, and Harry heard Turquoise following them. He gritted his teeth; if she
tried to follow them into the inn, he would just tell her to leave. But she turned off at the post office.
Goodbye, Harry! she called; Harry ignored her again.
They arrived at the inn and Harry directed the paintings inside. He had already decided where to hang
them. The picture of the Hogs Head would be at the end of the dining room facing the bar, and
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them. The picture of the Hogs Head would be at the end of the dining room facing the bar, and
Hogsmeade Station would hang on the wall opposite the door, so customers could see it as soon as they
entered. He had Stan and Harriet hold them and adjust their positions one at a time while he readied his
wand, and when he was satisfied he applied a sticking charm.
Winky came out of the kitchen and they all admired Harriets work, watching people moving about on
the platform in the one painting, and going in and out of the inn in the other. Harriet left, and Harry
went upstairs. He wanted to owl Ginny about the paintings but not about Turquoise Southeby so he
got parchment and quill from his dresser and sat on the bed.
Dearest Ginny,
We got the paintings hung, and now the decorating is complete. The only thing missing is
your beautiful self. When you get here this evening the inn and my happiness will be
complete.
Love, Harry

He sent it off with McPherson, then checked the Marauders Map. Ginny was in her Potions class
Professor Slughorn was standing next to the desk at the front of the room and three other girls were at
the same table with Ginny: Keesha, Luna, and Ruth Madison, a Hufflepuff who Harry barely knew. The
class was not very large; the only other table with students was next to Ginnys, and there were three
boys there: Salvador Chambers, a Ravenclaw; Hector Freeman; and Jace Kleinhead.
Harry scowled when he saw the labeled dot of the Slytherin. Ginny had told him in one of her notes
about her confrontation with him on the train and in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Harry did not
like seeing him so near her while they were all handling potion ingredients that could be dangerous.
There was nothing he could do about it right now, so he decided to keep the map out and check it more
often.
With the map tucked into his belt, he went back to the dining room and helped Stan set places on the
tables in preparation for tomorrows first public dinner. Harry couldnt get the hang of magically folding
a linen napkin so that it stood up like a tent, so he moved bottles of butterbeer, firewhiskey, and Potio
Vitae from the storeroom into their racks under and behind the bar. Every few minutes he checked the
map, but nothing happened.
He was in the storeroom when the class ended. Ginny moved out of the dungeon classroom with Luna
and Keesha; a few yards behind them came Jace Kleinhead. They passed a corridor that led to the
Slytherin common room, and there three more Slytherins joined Jace: Serpens Lestrange, Olbert Schmidt,
and Tiberius Rookwood. Harry felt his stomach muscles tighten.
The three girls walked on, and when they got to the entrance to the Hufflepuff common room, they
paused for a moment and Keesha went inside. Ginny and Luna continued down the corridor, apparently
unaware of the four boys, who stayed far enough behind them to remain unnoticed.
Ginny and Luna rounded a corner and the boys stopped. For a moment Harry thought that they were
going to turn off toward the kitchen, as Lestrange and Schmidt went down a side corridor. But then their
dots sped up, and Harry saw what they were doing. They were taking a short cut to the end of the
curving corridor that Ginny and Luna were walking down. They were going to surround them in a neat
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curving corridor that Ginny and Luna were walking down. They were going to surround them in a neat
little trap, deep in the cellars of Hogwarts.
Harry ran out of the storeroom, banging against the bar, and tore outside. Arry! Stan called in
astonishment. Whats wrong?
Harry didnt answer; he stood in front of the inn, just outside the door, unsure what to do. He could
Apparate to the castle gates, but then he would still have to run up the drive, up the stairs to the entrance,
and then descend at least one flight of stairs to the corridor in the basement. By the time he got there,
anything might have happened.
He stood stock still for a moment, then he drew his wand. Expecto patronum! he shouted, and his stag
burst from the end of his wand. It glanced back at him once, then rose like a shot and was gone, a silver
streak flashing across the sky.
Stan was standing next to Harry, watching the patronus disappear over the rooftops. What the hell! Is
that your patronus? He sounded awestruck.
Harry nodded; he was breathing hard, even though he had been standing still for a minute. Somethings
happening down in the basement of the castle. Ginnys being stalked by four Slytherins. He started to
open the map, but hesitated when Stan looked at it curiously. Its nothing, just an old map of Hogwarts.
Ill be back as soon as Ill be back later! Stan jumped back as Harry Disapparated with a loud crack!
He Apparated in front of the open gates of Hogwarts. He fumbled with the map, and it took him a
moment until he found Ginny and Luna, apparently back to back, each facing two Slytherins. He had no
way of telling whether his stag was there. He crumpled the map in his hand and started to run. He was
out of breath by the time he got to the castle, and he had an agonizing stitch in his side as he plunged
down the stairs to the dungeons, jumping down the last five steps. He flew down the corridor trying
desperately to remember which turns Ginny and Luna had taken. He skidded around a corner and came
to a sudden halt, his heart pounding and his breath coming in labored gasps.
But what he saw almost made him laugh. His stag was standing in the middle of the corridor between
Ginny and Luna. Two of the Slytherins lay on the floor in front of Ginny, clearly having been hit with
full body binding curses. A third one, also bound, was floating in the air a foot above the floor, moving
slowly to join the other two; Luna placed it on the floor next to them with her wand Harry thought she
was entirely too gentle and then she smiled at Harry.She turned and began to move the last one. Harry
watched, bent over with his hands on his knees, as he tried to catch his breath. Are you all right? he
managed to gasp.
Ginny grinned at him. The situation is well in hand, love. They never stood a chance. She stepped over
Jace Kleinhead and, still holding her wand, put her arms around Harry and looked into his sweaty face.
He finally caught his breath and straightened up, and she kissed him. Its all thanks to the best Defense
Against the Dark Arts teacher I ever had. She glanced at the stag. And thanks for looking out for us,
she whispered.
Harry pulled her into another kiss, and he suddenly did not want to wait until this evening to be alone
with her. It felt as though she didnt, either, but then there were footsteps and voices behind him.
Professor McGonagall was hurrying down the corridor with Professor Pester at her side and Professor
Slughorn huffing after them. Harry touched the map with his wand and muttered, Mischief managed,
then jammed it into his pocket.
What is going on here! the Headmistress stopped and glared at the four boys lying on the floor; they all
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What is going on here! the Headmistress stopped and glared at the four boys lying on the floor; they all
looked up at her, fury, bewilderment, and humiliation in their eyes. Mr. Potter, that is indubitably your
patronus. What is it doing here? she fixed an eye on Harry, and he noticed that she, Pester, and
Slughorn all had their wands out.
Harry pointed to the bodies on the floor. They were stalking Ginny and Luna. Two of them came up this
way and the other two got behind them. I guess it wasnt much of a surprise, though. He grinned at
Ginny; she simply nodded.
Mr. Potter. Professor Pester stepped past McGonagall. You didnt exactly answer the question. Why
is your patronus here? He tilted his head and raised his eyebrows, but Harry looked at him steadily.
Ginny had taken his hand and she squeezed it.
I thought they might need help, he answered. The professor gazed at him without expression, but
McGonagall and Slughorn had quizzical looks.
And how did you know that? Pester asked quietly.
I had a feeling, Harry answered promptly. He looked at the stag and it vanished; Luna blinked and
lifted her hand, as though to touch the empty space where it had been. But you need to ask these chaps
a few questions, he indicated the Slytherins. They tried to attack two students.
Professor McGonagall pushed in front of Pester. Thank you, Professor, she was tightlipped. For the
present we will handle this as a school disciplinary issue. If we need further assistance, I will not hesitate
to speak to you. Professor, she turned to Slughorn, I leave it to you to decide the best punishment for
these four.
She waved her wand and the bound boys began to move their limbs. They slowly stood, but none of
them raised his eyes from the floor.
Lets go, Professor Slughorn said roughly, and took Jace Kleinheads arm and shoved him down the
corridor. He waved the others along with his wand, and they shuffled away. Harry could hear Slughorn
muttering curses under his breath as he kept pushing the four boys along. He watched with the others
until they disappeared around a corner.
Are you two all right? McGonagall asked Ginny and Luna.
They both nodded. We heard them coming, said Ginny. Two of them were running down this corridor
she pointed to an opening a few yards from where they were standing and then we saw Jace and
Tiberius coming behind us. So, she smiled at Harry, we just used some of the skills you taught us three
years ago. I know weve gotten some practice since, but somehow the way you taught always seemed the
best. She shot a quick glance at Professor Pester as Harry grinned.
They ran right into our curses, Luna said. Still, it was nice to see your stag, Harry. Its beautiful. She
looked at her wand thoughtfully.
Miss Lovegood, the Headmistress said quickly, if you dont mind, Id appreciate it if you did not
produce your own patronus now. Weve had enough excitement for one morning.
Thats a very interesting patronus you have, Mr. Potter, Professor Pester said. Are you sure you dont
want to tell me how you knew where to send it?
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I told you, I had a feeling, Harry answered evenly. By the way, Professor, you never answered the
owl I sent to you three days ago. Someone put another Dark Mark up on my building.
A puzzled look appeared on Pesters face. Thats very strange, Potter. Are you sure? Ive never had an
owl not find me. I was right here at the castle on Tuesday, setting up my classroom. Even if the owl first
went to the Ministry, it should have known to come here. He stared at Harry for a moment, then
abruptly turned on his heel and strode away.
Harry looked at Ginny, then at Professor McGonagall; she was frowning. She glanced around and
lowered her voice. Im also wondering, Harry, how you knew what was happening down here, but I
dont mind that you did know. However, I would like all of you to keep this incident quiet, and also not
to talk to anyone about what Professor Pester just said. Obviously he is here at Hogwarts to do more than
teach, but please, keep it amongst yourselves. Can you do that? They all nodded. Thank you, she took
a breath. Well, I cant see any more use in standing here. Good day. She turned and walked off down
the corridor.
Harry, Ginny, and Luna stood for a moment. Finally Luna spoke. This is interesting. First we get
attacked but by people who seem to be pretty stupid about what theyre doing, then Harrys stag jumps
out of the wall, then Professor Pester cant answer a simple question. Im beginning to wonder about his
competence. He asks some pretty silly questions in class, too.
Harry kept his eyes on Ginny, who looked back with her jaws clenched, trying not to grin. Where were
you two going? Harry asked.
Keesha told us about a short cut to the library. Its supposed to be along this way.
Wait a sec, Harry turned to Luna. Can you wait up ahead? he asked. Shell be right along.
Sure, Luna said; she stared at them for a moment with her large, unblinking eyes, then walked off.
Harry waited until Luna was out of sight, then he kissed Ginny, and their bodies moved against each
other. Finally Ginny gasped. Love, I have classes this afternoon, and... and I need to start a parchment
for Potions.
Harry took a deep breath. I just wanted to say hello properly. He laughed. Go do your work, itll give
us more time over the weekend.
It was wonderful to see your stag, she rubbed her hands slowly over his chest. I didnt mind at all that
you sent him.
I saw them following you on the map. I knew I couldnt get here quick enough, and the patronus was
the first thing I thought of.
It was perfect. Ginny kissed him again.
How about if I meet you in the entrance hall this afternoon? he suggested. Well walk back to the
inn together.
Ginny shook her head and smiled. No, what I want is for you to be waiting for me there. I want to fly to
you, and I want you to sweep me off my feet when I get there.
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Oh. Harry thought for a moment, then he smiled, too. Okay, but dont be surprised if something
happens before, during, and after youre off your feet.
That sounds very interesting, Ginny kissed him quickly. So go home and think about it until I get
there. She laughed and pushed him away. I love you, she called over her shoulder as she trotted off.
Harrys eyes stayed riveted on her retreating back, then he sighed and turned the other away. But as he
walked upstairs and through the castle and back to Hogsmeade, he felt light on his feet and the world
seemed lit up in glorious colors. He had been afraid that Ginny would be angry again because he had
tried to protect her, just as she had been on the beach at Shell Cottage. But her gratitude had made his
spirits soar, and doubled his anticipation of tonight and the rest of the weekend. People smiled at him as
he walked, and at first he didnt understand why, until he realized that he had a huge grin on his face.
The thought made him laugh, and as he passed up the High Street he didnt even mind when Turquoise
poked her head out the post office door and waved at him.
Stan had finished setting up the dining room. He was sitting at the bar with Tony Trostle, and he looked
questioningly at Harry as he came in. Is everything okay? he asked.
Harry nodded. Four Slytherin prats tried to ambush Ginny and Luna, but their odds werent very good. I
dont think theyll try it again.
Tony handed Harry a bottle of Potio Vitae. Glad to hear it. Dont they know the wars over and they
lost?
Harry shook his head. Some people will never change. But forget about it. Heres to the inn. He raised
his bottle and Tony clinked his against it; Stan opened a butterbeer and toasted with them.
This stuffs not bad, said Tony. Youll sell lots of it.
Harry chugged his down. Its weird, Ginny and Ron dont like it, but Hermione and I do. Maybe you
have to have Muggle grandparents to like it.
Maybe. I have a Muggle grandmother. How about you, Stan?
Nope, no Muggles as far back as I know. And I dont like it, either.
Maybe well do a study, Harry mused. I can ask Hermione, shed love something like that.
Tony laughed. But maybe its red hair. Stans hairs a little red. He grinned at Harry. You can test it
on your kids.
It was almost noon, so Harry went into the kitchen and asked Winky to make lunch for three, and a few
minutes later she appeared with a tray of cold meats and cheeses, bread, pickles, and apples. Afterward,
Tony and Stan left and Harry went up to the flat.
Bailey was there, sitting on the perch next to McPherson, a note on her leg.
My love,
It felt so good when your stag appeared. I wanted to hug it. Instead Ill hug you. I will leave
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It felt so good when your stag appeared. I wanted to hug it. Instead Ill hug you. I will leave
the castle as soon as my last class is over at 5:00. Im already packed. I sent an owl to the
Ministry, and Wilkie Twycross can give me another Apparition lesson tomorrow, so lets go
into London in the morning. I think I am pretty close to being able to pass the test and get
my license. Once I can Apparate, I can get to the inn much quicker; I thought youd like
that.
Its only a few hours until I see you again, and when I do give you that hug, Im never
letting you go.
I love you so much.
Ginny

Harry wrote back:


Ginny love,
You drive me crazy with what you write. My stag and everything else I have is for you. I
love you so much.
Harry

Harry sent Bailey back with his note, then flopped down on the love seat. It wasnt even one oclock yet.
He knew he would have to find some way to preoccupy himself, so he took The Portable Spellery
outside and practiced combinations of wand movements with Proeido. After an hour he finally thought
he had it tuned so that only writing on the wall would set off his wand. He looked around, again
wondering what to do with himself for three hours.
He went into the kitchen; he might as well talk to Winky now about dinner arrangements, but before he
could open his mouth, the elf raised her hand. Harry Potter must not worry about dinner, she said
firmly. He and Ginny Pott Ginny Weasley will eat upstairs in the parlor, and Winky will serve them
from downstairs, just like she used to do at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry Potter
should not bother poor Winky anymore, or else his dinner will not be ready on time.
Harry obediently left the kitchen and went into the dining room. He looked around, and then thought of
something he could do. He went out the front door and up the lane to Dervish and Banges. The
proprietor, Monitor Twohill, a very nearsighted wizard with a bushy head of white hair and a nervous
habit of constantly licking his lips, squinted up as Harry came in, and after a moment he recognized him.
Ah, Mr. Potter, how are you? His tongue flitted in and out. What can I do for you this afternoon?
Do you have any Veela candelabras? Harry asked, looking around. I saw one last summer at Bills
house, Bill Weasley, I mean. It was very nice.
Ah, Veela silver is very special, very special indeed. They say it has romantic, perhaps even aphrodisiac
qualities. Hmm... he wrinkled his brow and licked his lower lip. I dont think I have any candelabras,
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qualities. Hmm... he wrinkled his brow and licked his lower lip. I dont think I have any candelabras,
but let me just look over here... He came from behind the counter and opened a large cabinet standing
to Harrys right. Inside were several shelves of candlesticks and sconces. He picked up two silver
candlesticks and turned to Harry with a smile. Yes, two Veela candlesticks. They were sold to me
almost ten yeas ago by a lovestricken seventhyear who probably stole them from his dear beloved.
But the lady in question never returned for them.
He handed them to Harry. They were very solid and felt warm to the touch, and they shimmered as they
caught a beam of sunlight coming in a window. He stared at them, and Ginnys face seemed to be
looking back at him from the curved surfaces. He blinked, and her face vanished. He smiled at Mr.
Twohill. Ill take them. I need some candles, too.
The proprietor took four candles from a wooden box next to the cabinet, then went back behind the
counter and put the whole order in a cardboard box and secured it with Spellotape. Ah, youll deposit
one hundred thirty-five Galleons in my account at Gringotts? he said, and his tongue flicked several
times.
One hundred thirty-five? Oh. Harry hadnt thought about the price, and it seemed a little steep, but
then he thought about sitting with Ginny at a table with the candlesticks set in the middle, or lying in the
fourposter with her as they cast a low glow in the bedroom. Okay, thats fine. Ill send an owl right
away.
The wizard thanked him, and Harry took his purchase back to the flat. He thought for a moment, then
took the candlesticks to the bedroom, and put one on each of the night stands.
He sent McPherson to Gringotts with his draft and spent the next two hours walking around the flat and
trying to read again he would have to buy more books tomorrow in Diagon Alley and, finally, at ten
minutes after five oclock, as he looked out the casement window, he saw a small figure running up the
High Street from the train station, red hair billowing behind her. He raced downstairs and stood outside
in front of the door. Ginny came around the corner of the lane, dropped the satchel she was carrying, and
threw herself at him. He caught her and twirled her around like he used to do all summer whenever he
came back to the Burrow from Hogsmeade.
He kissed her while her feet were still off the ground, then he put her down and they held each other in a
crushing embrace. Harry moved his hands well below her back, and she whispered breathlessly,
Upstairs! Dessert first! He picked up her bag, and they went around to the back door and up to the flat.
In seconds there was a trail of clothes into the bedroom and they were in the bed with the hangings
pulled closed. The flickering candles made dancing shapes and shadows on the fabric. Veela magic and
the soft yellow glow of the flames suffused the room.
Back to index

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Chapter 19: Opening Night At The Inn


Author's Notes: Harry throws a party for his best friends... I tried to get a little farther into Harry and
Ginny's weekend, but once again he real magical world intervened. So, the rest of Sunday will have to
wait for the next chapter.
Thanks to everyone for leaving a review, and thanks again to my wife, Candace, for putting up with me
and being my editor anyway.
They got out of bed late in the evening and found dinner waiting on a small table set up in the parlor.
Ginny put on the dressing gown she had brought with her, and Harry wore a bathrobe. He brought the
candlesticks in and put them on the table, where the candles continued to cast their magical, golden
glow. He lit a fire, and they dined on steamed mussels in a spicy white sauce, whole lobsters an
adventure, since neither of them had eaten one before linguine in clam sauce, and a crispy green salad.
Warm slices of garlic bread kept appearing in a wicker basket as they ate them. There was a small bottle
of wine that they both drank with caution, remembering the last time they had drunk wine at Shell
Cottage. By the time they were finished, they could barely move; they lay down on the rug in front of the
fireplace and fell asleep in each others arms.
Just before midnight, Ginny awoke and nibbled on Harrys lips until he opened his eyes. Hi, she
smiled, I feel like a midnight stroll. Lets go down to The Three Broomsticks. I heard that theres
always a late crowd on the weekends.
Harry rolled over and sat up. He looked around and saw that the table was gone. Efficiency is her
middle name, he said as he stood. He pulled Ginny up and put his hands inside her dressing gown. Id
love a midnight stroll. But can it wait?
No! she laughed and pulled his hands out. We have all weekend for that. I want to go have a good
time with some people, then come back here and... Her own hands wandered over his robe. And then
sleep late tomorrow. She hopped backward before Harry could grab her again, and ran into the
bedroom. She closed the door behind her, and giggled while she made Harry promise not to touch her
while they were getting dressed. He kept his fingers crossed while he solemnly vowed to keep his hands
in his pockets.
How can you get dressed with your hands in your pockets? And your fingers are crossed, right? Ginny
asked through the closed door.
Okay, okay, now theyre not crossed. And Ill just look, I wont touch, I promise.
She let him in, then made him sit on the bed while she took off her dressing gown and then slowly put
her clothes on.
Youre evil, Harry leaned back on his elbows and watched. Here I am, the poor, former Chosen One,
and this is the thanks I get for saving the world. Do your brothers know that you treat me like this?
Merlin, I hope not! Ginny laughed as she put on her dragonhide jacket, Charlies birthday present.
But theyd probably take your side. Theyre all males, after all.
And so am I, but I think you know that, Harry grinned as he dressed. He heaved a loud, dramatic sigh.
Ill force myself to wait, since youve been so nice up until now.
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So have you. They kissed, and Harry took her arm and they went downstairs and out the back door.
The sky was clear and a full moon was high overhead, lighting up the world almost like daytime. Arm in
arm they walked down the High Street to The Three Broomsticks.
The lights from inside were blazing, and they could hear laughter and loud voices as they approached.
When they entered, Rosmerta came and hugged them both. They saw Stan and Tony, and most of
Tonys crew; everyone called to them and they smiled and waved. Harry glanced quickly around and
was glad not to see Turquoise Southeby. But to his delight, back in a corner sat Hagrid, several empty
tankards in front of him and a broad smile on his face.
Arry! Ginny! he boomed, come on over! Arriet, two butterbeers! Harry and Ginny came and sat.
Hagrid beamed at them. Ows it goin?
Not bad, Harry answered, then he looked at Ginny and smiled.Actually, great. He took her hand.
Its hard to see how things could be any better. Ginny leaned over and kissed him softly.
.
Aww, thas sweet! Hagrid chuckled. Thas a beautiful jacket, Ginny. Did Charlie get it fer yeh?
Yes, it was a birthday present. Here, feel it. She held her arm out and Hagrid rubbed the leather
between his fingers.
Id say a Ridgeback. He frowned, then laughed. Yeh dont think its Norberta, do yeh? Charlie
wouldnt do that. He laughed again and took a drink from his tankard. Arry, why dontcha come to
one a me classes next week? Remember, yeh promised yehd do that? Did you hear, Im teachin first
and second years fer the first time? Theyd be tickled if yeh showed up. Theyre always talkin about
yeh, specially them two little twins, whats their names? He frowned and swayed slightly in his seat.
Emma and Clair Athair, Ginny said. Theyre adorable.
Yeah, thas them. Theyre really takin to it. They love them little Pygmy Puffs.
Is that what youre teaching? Ginny bounced in her chair. I love them. She turned to Harry. Tell me
when you go, if I dont have a class Ill join you.
Harry nodded. Whens that class? he asked Hagrid.
Tuesday at eleven, right afore lunch. Thatll be great, Arry. He drained his mead and started to stand,
but Harry put his hand on Hagrids massive paw.
Hagrid, wait, can I ask you something about... about one of the other teachers?
Hagrids brow creased, but he sat back down. If it aint too confidential, sure. But theres some stuff I
cant talk about, His voice dropped, and he whispered dramatically, Theres things I cant discuss with
yeh, Arry. You know, personnel stuff.
Harry also dropped his voice. I was just wondering if you knew why they hired Professor Pester to
teach Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Ah, well... Hagrid looked at him, Arry, thas one a them things... But, seein as it affects you
direcly, you ave a right to know. He leaned toward Harry, and Harry and Ginny leaned in so that their
heads almost touched; Hagrids breath was pungent with the smell of mead. They wasnt gonna have
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heads almost touched; Hagrids breath was pungent with the smell of mead. They wasnt gonna have
anyone t teach Defense Against the Dark Arts at first. McGonagall, Flitwick, an Slughorn were gonna
split up the job. Seems they couldnt fin anyone to take it, even with Riddle dead an that curse gone,
you know the one. Everyone who taught its been dead or gone after one year.
Harry and Ginny both nodded. Hagrid grabbed another mug from a tray that Harriet was carrying past,
and took a large gulp. He leaned his head in again. But then that Dark Mark showed up on yer inn,
Arry, an McGonagall got worried. She didnt want t seal up the grounds again, like it was last year, so
she asked the Ministry to send someone t take the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, kinda undercover,
y might say, an help keep an eye on things.
He sat back and took another drink, and frowned. But dont tell anyone I tol yeh this, Arry. Or you,
Ginny. Someone around eres up t no good, an if they don know about Pester, itll make it easier t
nab em.
Thats pretty interesting, Harry said, and looked at Ginny.
She nodded. And it explains that notebook hes been studying. He even looks at it in class. He didnt
have a chance to prepare, so hes teaching it on the fly. And doing a poor job of it so far. Thats
crummy, she looked at Harry. Ive had lousy teachers in that class almost every year Ive been here.
She leaned toward him and put a hand on his shoulder, and grinned. What I said this morning about you
being the best teacher Ive had is true. Ill ask McGonagall to fire Pester and hire you.
Please, Harry shook his head. Dont even joke about it. But I wonder what happened to his job in the
Auror training program.
Ask Ron tomorrow, Ginny said. She glanced at the clock on the wall over the bar and smiled. Today,
I mean.
Hagrid stood up. Well, Im glad t see yeh, and don ferget to come on Tuesday. He shook his head
and smiled as he walked toward the door. Them kidsll be tickled pink.
Harry and Ginny watched him leave, then they joined Stan and Tony. They drank butterbeers for another
hour, until Harry pressed his leg against Ginnys under the table, and she broke off the conversation she
was having with Tony about Potio Vitae. She turned to Harry. Love, theres something I need to do at
the inn, so can we go back now?
Harry grinned, and some of the members of Tonys crew, who had joined them, chuckled to each other.
If you insist, love, he said. They made their goodnights and, again arm in arm, walked quickly back to
the inn. Upstairs, they left another trail of clothes between the door and the bedroom. They made love
leisurely, and then they talked, and then they made love again, and then they talked until the sky in the
east began to lighten. They spoke in low voices about school, the inn, themselves, the future.
Harry told Ginny that he was worried about being alone during the week, and he wondered if he had
made a mistake when he bought the inn. Ginny wondered what she would do after graduation. Harry
worried that the Slytherins might seek revenge, but Ginny scoffed at that. She talked about the Quidditch
team and told him how Dennis Creevey had pushed his way onto the tryout roster. She talked
enthusiastically about her classes, exept Defense Against the Dark Arts, and they speculated about
Morequest Pester and the Dark Marks. Harry told her how his anger grew whenever anything came
between him and what he wanted most: to have a place for themselves. Ginny told him that no matter
what happened, she would be there with him. The candles finally flickered out and they slept.
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They awoke a few hours later and dressed and ate quickly breakfast was waiting on the kitchen table
and then Disapparated to the back storeroom of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. George greeted them and
they went upstairs to the flat. Hermione was at her desk in a small room next to the sitting room, and she
went to wake up Ron. He came into the sitting room, yawning and rubbing sleep from his eyes.
What are you doing here so early, he grouched. I just went to bed.
That was ten hours ago, Ron, Hermione said. Its ten oclock. In the morning.
Seems like it was ten minutes. He yawned again. So whats happening?
Ginnys got another Apparition lesson in an hour, Harry answered, and if she and Twycross think
shes ready, shell take her test. Percys agreed to be there and fill out all the paperwork.
Cool, Ron yawned once more and stretched; he scratched his stomach. So, he said to Ginny, I
heard that Morequest Pesters teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. That must be a real treat.
Absolutely, she grinned.And the best part is that he hasnt a clue how to deal with Luna. I think shes
driving him nutters.
Ron laughed. Good for her. Shes the perfect person to chap his ass. Ill tell you, no one in the training
program misses him.
So hes not doing both jobs? Harry asked.
How could he? We have three hours of classes and two hours of practice every day.
Hermione called them into the kitchen and they sat around a small table while she served tea. Harry
looked at her and smiled. You two are keeping a nice place.
Only because I clean up after him. If didnt, the whole flat would look like his attic room, and wed
need a Muggle bulldozer to walk anywhere. She smiled fondly at Ron. I shouldnt tease. The program
is quite rigorous, and he works so hard. Its wonderful to see you do so well, sweetie.
Ron grinned sheepishly at Harry. It is tough. I still say you should sign up. People talk about you, mate.
And it isnt just because of what you did to Riddle. Seamus and Susan are also in it, and theyre always
telling everyone how much you taught us.
Harry glanced at Ginny, and she raised her eyebrows as if to say, I told you so.
Well, Harry said, Im pretty busy with the inn right now, and Ginnys just starting the term
Harry, Hermione interrupted, thats all very well, but... she glanced at Ron, but there are things
happening and, well, people think they still need you.
Harry scowled. I need things, too, Hermione. After those people spend seventeen years under a death
sentence, then they can tell me they need me. I want to be where I am. Cant Kingsley take care of
business?
Good question, said Ron, and he took a biscuit from a tin sitting on the counter behind him; he offered
them to Ginny and Harry. You would not believe how much resistance he gets from all those stupid
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them to Ginny and Harry. You would not believe how much resistance he gets from all those stupid
little bureaucrats. Now I know why Dads lost so much hair.
But that was actually a blessing when the Death Eaters took over, Hermione picked up when Ron
reached for another biscuit. Things would have been a lot worse if they had really been able to control
the Ministry. There was resistance to them on principle, but a lot of it was the same idiotic inertia that
Kingsleys facing.
Yeah, said Ron, but thats not all. He cast a look at Hermione, and she nodded. Remember I told
you a while ago that there were a dozen or so Death Eaters that they couldnt account for? Well, there
are now a few more. There was a breakout from Azkaban about three weeks ago.
What! Ginny and Harry exclaimed at the same time. How could that be? Harry was astounded, and
Ginny put her hand on his. So those Dark Marks could actually be from Death Eaters?
Could be, Ron said.
Ginny looked at him in disbelief. How did they escape? Why wasnt there any news about it? Thats
criminal! They have to let people know about things like that. She turned to Harry. Maybe thats
another reason why McGonagall hired Pester.
Huh? Ron looked surprised. What do you mean? He told us he had been hired right after the battle.
That sounds like his cover story, Harry said, and he told Ron and Hermione about their conversation
with Hagrid. But I still dont understand why Kingsley would keep the breakout a secret.
He didnt, explained Ron. The Office of Magical Law Enforcement did. Somebody got careless and
there arent any dementors around to do the dirty work. They hushed it up, but someone finally leaked it
yesterday.
Thats where Percys working, Ginny said quietly.
Ron nodded grimly. I havent seen him for a couple of days. I dont know what happened to him.
They were all silent for a moment. Finally Harry said, So how many got out and who were they?
I dont know, Ron shook his head. I couldnt find out. I think theyre still trying to figure it out. But
Gawain Robards was fired, and Kingsleys taken over that job himself.
That poor man, Hermione said. Why cant people see what hes trying to do and just help him?
They all looked at Harry, who pushed away from the table. Come on, Gin, youll be late for your
lesson.
They left the flat and were at the Ministry in a few minutes. Many people were in the Atrium, standing
in small groups in animated conversations. Harry and Ginny heard snatches of talk; it was all about the
breakout and the firing of the Head of the Office of Magical Law Enforcement.
They stopped briefly at the fountain and smiled at the statues of Emma and Claire Athair. A lift then
took them to level six, and Ginny led him to Wilkie Twycrosss office. The ethereal wizard greeted them
warmly, and gave Harry his personal thanks for his deeds during the war. While Harry waited in the
office, he took Ginny into a room across the hallway, and when they came out an hour later, Ginny was
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office, he took Ginny into a room across the hallway, and when they came out an hour later, Ginny was
beaming and Twycross was smiling proudly.
Shes the best student I ever had, he said. A normal course of group lessons is twelve weeks, and of
course individual lessons usually go faster. But Miss Weasley is very gifted. He looked at his watch.
The Test Center is open until two this afternoon, so you have time to see your brother and get a start on
the application. I think, he said knowingly, theyll let you take the test even if not all the paperwork is
quite ready. Percy has a reputation for reliability.
Ginny thanked him profusely, and left him with a kiss on his cheek that pleased him very much. He
shook Harrys hand and with a wink wished him luck. When they were outside in the hall, Ginny
skipped in a circle around Harry, then took his hands and did a dance with him. Come on, she pulled
him down the corridor, Lets go find Percy. Then well go back to Diagon Alley and celebrate with
everyone at the Leaky Cauldron.
If Percys still here, Harry said.
They went back to the lifts and rode up to level two, which was crowded with witches and wizards
many with scowls on their faces bustling up and down the corridors. Some recognized Harry and
nodded to him. Ginny took his hand and they went down several long hallways that became more and
more congested and noisy with a sense of crisis and urgency. They finally came to the Heads office; the
large sign over the door read Office of Magical Law Enforcement, but the plaque on the wall was blank.
They could hear loud voices from inside, and dominating them was the deep, booming bass of Kingsley
Shacklebolt. They could also hear Saliyah Ushujaa speaking angrily, and then they heard Percy, and
Ginny squeezed Harrys hand; he looked at her and saw relief on her face. He sounds okay, she
whispered.
A witch pushed past them and went inside; they recognized the Auror who had been with Saliyah when
she came to the Burrow the day Fenrir Grayback was killed. They followed her in and saw Kingsley
pacing behind a large desk. Saliyah was seated in front of the desk, and the witch who had just come in
was handing her a parchment. Percy was standing next to the desk, and he was the first to notice them.
Ginny! Harry! Good to see you! Did you pass your test?
Kingsley looked up, and Saliyah and the Auror turned. Shacklebolt stared at Harry for a moment, then a
smile crept onto his dark face. Did you come here for the job, Harry?
Harry looked at him in confusion for a moment, then, as Kingsley burst out laughing, he blushed. Uh,
no, sir, thanks. We... uh... He looked at Ginny for help.
Were here to see my brother, she said quickly. Im supposed to take an Apparition test this
afternoon. But we can come back later if its not a good time.
Percy looked at his watch, then at Shacklebolt, who nodded. Why dont we have lunch now, the
Minister said. It seems like a good time to take a break. Ive been up since four, and I never had
breakfast.
I tried to feed you, said Saliyah with a shake of her head. And youve been grumpy ever since.
Im grumpy because nine Death Eaters are on the loose somewhere, he scowled. But lets not rehash
that. He waved his wand and a large table appeared at the side of the room. Two houseelves came out
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that. He waved his wand and a large table appeared at the side of the room. Two houseelves came out
a door behind the table, and in a minute lunch was ready.
Harry and Ginny, feeling a little diffident, joined the Minister of Magic and the others, but Saliyah
smiled at them warmly. How are things in Hogsmeade and at Hogwarts? she asked them. I heard
youre Gryffindors Quidditch captain, Ginny. I wont wish you luck, I still always root for Ravenclaw.
They all made small talk for a few minutes, but Ginny couldnt contain her curiosity, and in a lull she
turned to Percy, who was seated next to her. What happened? she said as quietly as she could without
seeming surreptitious. Were you the one who leaked the story?
Percy glanced at Shacklebolt, who was watching them. It wasnt exactly a leak, but yes, he said firmly.
I didnt find out about it until Thursday. I went to see Gawain, and at first he denied that anything had
happened. But I had completely reliable information from one of the guards. He finally admitted it, and I
insisted that we go to the Minister immediately. He was trying not to sound smug, but Ginny had to
smile to herself: he was, after all, Percy.
There was silence at the table, and Kingsley looked down at his plate and pushed his food around with
his fork. There were nine of them, the Minister said to Ginny and Harry. Were positive that they left
the country, we got a report from a contact we have in France who saw them. But they could be
anywhere in the world by now. We sent messages to every wizarding government, and Ive spoken to the
Muggle Prime Minister. He looked at Harry. One of them is an old friend of yours, Dolores Umbridge.
Technically, she isnt a Death Eater, but she did some terrible and brutal things I think you witnessed
some of them. We were holding her with the same level of security that we were holding the Death
Eaters. He shook his head. At least I thought we were.
Hhow did they escape? Harry said hesitantly; he didnt know how much he could expect Kingsley
to tell him.
Im sorry, Harry. I cant say. Shacklebolt grinned. Unless you take the job.
This time Harry laughed. I think Id need a little experience first.
Saliyah leaned forward from across the table. Then join the training program, Harry. Ron Weasley is
doing very well, and a few of your other friends who are also in the program have told us what you did
at Hogwarts when Umbridge was there. Harry, we need you.
Harry felt everyone looking at him, but he felt Ginnys eyes the most. He looked at her and she smiled,
but there was never any doubt in his mind what his answer would be.
Maybe someday, he said to Saliyah, but not right now. Im sorry, but I wonder if you know what its
like to have someone as ferocious and powerful as Tom Riddle be after you with nothing on his mind but
your own death. I lived with that for seventeen years and I need a break.
Saliyah sat back, disappointed and a little annoyed, but Kingsley nodded. Thats fine, Harry. You have
a right to that, and undoubtedly a need. I only ask that you dont forget that there will always be a job
here if you want it.
I know, and I appreciate it, and I wont forget.
They finished eating, then Percy excused himself for an hour or two, and he took Ginny and Harry back
to the Department of Magical Transportation. Ginny passed her Apparition test with flying colors, and a
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to the Department of Magical Transportation. Ginny passed her Apparition test with flying colors, and a
half hour later she walked out of the office clutching a framed Apparition license in her hands. Percy
took them back to the Atrium where Ginny bestowed a grateful hug and kiss on him.
Percy shook Harrys hand as they were departing. Dont forget Kingsleys offer, Harry, he said
solemnly. Its an honor to be noticed by the Minister and the Head Auror like that.
Harry smiled. I know. And Percy, thanks for doing what you did, I mean telling the truth. It was a great
thing to do.
Ill second that, Ginny gave him another kiss. You did proud by the whole family.
Percy waved his hand dismissively, but looked pleased. You two take care, and say hello to everyone at
the shop. And dont worry about the paperwork, Ginny. If you have to sign anything, Ill owl it to you.
He walked away and Harry and Ginny returned to Diagon Alley.
They met Ron and Hermione in the shop and told them that Percy was fine. Harry was about to add that
they had more news about the breakout, but George and Lee came over, so he said nothing. Everyone
walked down to the Leaky Cauldron together. They celebrated Ginnys success with a few rounds of
butterbeer, and when they were finished Ginny Disapparated back to the shop by herself. She met them
at the front door, and Harry gave her a welldeserved snog, to the avid interest of Georges customers
inside and a small crowd of onlookers outside.
It was now the middle of the afternoon, and Harry and Ginny had to return to the inn to start preparing
for the openingnight party at six oclock. They held hands with their fingers entwined, and for the first
time, they Disapparated together. They appeared in back of the inn, and Ginny went upstairs while Harry
made a brief stop in the kitchen and dining room to see how the preparations were coming along. When
he got back upstairs he found a trail of clothes leading to the bedroom. He followed and added to it
and it was only an hour before the opening that they came back downstairs.
Stan, Winky, and Kreacher who had arrived earlier in the afternoon from Grimmauld Place were all
busy with lastminute things to do, but they were all relieved to see Harry. Stan had been worried
because of Winkys reproachful attitude, and Harry felt guilty. He gave Ginny a penitent glance and set
to work helping Stan and Kreacher in the dining room and behind the bar; he was afraid to go into the
kitchen and face Winkys displeasure.
At five fortyfive he noticed that Ginny had disappeared; Kreacher told him that she had gone back
upstairs, and Harry was somewhat annoyed that she had not stayed with him. He was becoming
increasingly nervous, and kept up an agitated pacing between the front door and the bar. But at five
minutes to six, the kitchen door opened and Ginny came through wearing the dress she had worn on her
birthday, the one that had won the admiration of Aunt Muriel for its daring neck and hemlines. But
what made Harrys and Stans breath catch was the Veela necklace with the solitaire diamond lying
on her neck above her plunging neckline. She looked so beautiful and desirable that Harry was afraid for
a moment that he would lose all control.
He put his hand on the bar to steady himself. Ginny, he said in an unsteady voice, you are... I mean,
you are... you are She put her hand on the diamond, and walked toward him with the blazing look in
her eyes. She seemed to glow, just as the candles in the Veela candlesticks had, with a magical radiance.
At that moment the clock behind the bar struck six, and they heard a steady string of loud pops from just
outside the door. At the same time, there were shouts of greeting and voices calling from the lane near
the High Street. Harry took a final look at Ginny, together with a deep breath, and opened the front door.
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the High Street. Harry took a final look at Ginny, together with a deep breath, and opened the front door.
There stood Ron and Hermione, Bill and Fleur, George and Lee each with a witch on his arm Percy,
Neville and Keesha, Luna and Dean, Dennis Creevey Harry wondered how he had sneaked out of
school and a dozen other members of Dumbledores Army. More people were streaming down the
lane: Rosmerta, Tony Trostle with a witch Harry assumed was his wife, a few other shopkeepers and
residents of Hogsmeade, Hagrid but thankfully not Grawp, Professors Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn,
and Madame Hooch.
The dining room was soon full, and Stan became busy serving drinks and taking orders from Kreacher;
the elf was constantly running between the kitchen, the bar, and the tables. Harry and Ginny stood
together by the bar, but Ginny was the center of everyones attention. She cast a glow of beauty over the
entire room; Harry couldnt take his eyes from her, and was barely aware of Ron sitting on a stool on his
other side, chatting with Stan and throwing down firewhiskeys. Fleur got up from the table where she
was sitting with the rest of the Weasleys, and spoke to Harry as she also admired Ginny.
You know, Arry, I said to Ginny at er party zat when she put on ze necklace she became a Veela, and
I ave never seen someting like zat before. I do not understand it, I ave to admit.
Harry took a breath and smiled. I guess I know how Bill feels now. Thank you for giving it to her. Its...
its... He struggled for a word. Its indescribable.
Ginny was talking to Professor Slughorn, but she turned to Harry and Fleur. I love it, and, she grinned
at Harry, I love the way you look at me.
Fleur nodded knowingly. Zat is ow its supposed to work. It is all about love. She kissed Harrys
cheek, hugged Ginny, and smiled at Slughorn, who turned a light shade of pink and followed her with
his eyes as she returned to her table.
The Professor cleared his throat. Well, Harry, my boy, you have done a superb job here, and with Miss
Weasley at your side you make a remarkable impression, the two of you. Dont be a stranger at the
castle, and do stop by and see me whenever youre there. He gave Ginny another appreciative glance
and joined the other Hogwarts professors at their table.
Ron had been listening, and he leaned toward them. Two Veelas in the family? Mums gonna have
kittens.
Harry laughed. Where are your folks, anyway? I was hoping to see them.
Theyll be along. Mums really anxious to see the place, especially the kitchen.
Shed better stay out of Winkys way, Ginny said. That elf wont stand for anyone to butt in.
Thatll be interesting to see, Ron set down his shot glass and looked around; Hermione was watching
from the Weasley table, and she gave him a little wave of her hand. Thats all for me, its butterbeer for
the rest of the night. The place is brilliant, mate.
Harry and Ginny spent the next hour visiting tables, chatting with their friends and family, enjoying the
congratulations that everyone gave them. Kreacher and Stan bustled back and forth, serving drinks and
food. Molly and Arthur Weasley arrived they were late because Molly had spent so much time on a
cake she had baked for the inn. Dumbledores Army was sitting together at three tables they had pushed
together in a corner, and when Harry and Ginny got to them, they all stopped talking, and then Harry
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together in a corner, and when Harry and Ginny got to them, they all stopped talking, and then Harry
noticed that the rest of the room had also fallen silent. Hermione, Ron, George, and Lee came over; Lee
cleared his throat as the others took seats at the DA table. Harry had been leaning over, talking to
Neville about Keesha and Ginnys encounter with the Slytherin boys, and Ginny tapped his shoulder. He
straightened and saw Lee holding two polished wooden tablets, each with a brass plate attached.
Lee nodded to Harry, then turned and faced the silent dining room. He waited a few dramatic seconds,
then spoke.
Almost three years ago a small group of Hogwarts students met in this very room and formed an
organization. At that time the inn was a dump, no offense to those of us who wasted many Hogsmeade
weekends in it, savoring its unsavoriness. But we didnt care. Something bad had happened at Hogwarts,
and one of those students, Hermione Granger, had one of her many brilliant ideas. She asked Harry
Potter to lead a rebellion against the people who wanted to disarm us and leave us defenseless against
the evil that was about to come.
At first Harry didnt want to take up the mantle; he had never asked for it. But he decided to do it, and
because of what he and the rest of us did as a result of that meeting, a lot of people are now not living in
terror, not in jail, not dead. During that meeting, a certain fourthyear, redhaired witch suggested that
we call our new group, Dumbledores Army. He smiled at Ginny, then he continued.
Tonight were celebrating a new venture for Harry
And for Ginny, Harry called.
Lee grinned. And for Ginny, because we know who is Harrys inspiration. Harry put his arm around
her waist as Lee went on. Well, here we all are now, having a great time at Harrys expense. Everyone
laughed, and several people called out, Thanks, Harry!
Lee held up his hand. As I was saying, here we are now, and its not just because of Harrys deciding to
turn The Hogs Head into a wonderful place. Its also because he and a bunch of teenage rebels decided
to stand and fight. So, Harry, on behalf of Dumbledores Army and everyone else in this room, and
especially for two of us who lost their lives his voice caught, and for a moment he couldnt speak;
Molly Weasley and a few others wiped their eyes who lost their lives fighting for life and for
freedom, I present to you, and to all of us, these two plaques. Theyll help everyone who comes in here
remember what happened.
He handed them to Harry, who read them silently; Ginny peered over his shoulder, and then whispered,
Read them out loud.
He held the first one up. It says, In this room on October 5, 1995, the movement known as
Dumbledores Army was founded by a group of Hogwarts students as an act of rebellion against tyranny.
The inspiration for the DA came from Hermione Granger. The leadership was provided by Harry Potter.
The name was given by Ginny Weasley. The fighting was done by everyone. And then it has a list of
everyones names.
He handed the plaque to Neville; he pointed out his name to Keesha, then he passed it on to Dean, and to
the rest.
Harry cleared his throat. The other plaque is a memorial. In honor of the two members of
Dumbledores Army who gave their lives in the fight for life and freedom. And then it says, he paused
and blinked, and Ginny put her hand on his back. It says, he continued after several moments, Fred
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and blinked, and Ginny put her hand on his back. It says, he continued after several moments, Fred
Weasley, 1978 1998' and Colin Creevey, 1981 1998'.
In the silence that was broken only by the quiet sobs of Dennis Creevey, he handed the plaques back to
Lee. Lee pointed to a spot on the wall behind the tables where the present members of Dumbledores
Army were sitting, and Harry nodded. Lee took his wand from inside his robes, and in a moment the
plaques were affixed to the wall.
After a few more seconds of silence, George Weasley stood up. Come on, people, he said loudly,
Fred would be disgusted with this. Its a party, not a funeral! As everyone cheered, he walked over
and clapped Dennis on the back. Dennis, I know you didnt sneak out of Hogwarts just to sit here and
bawl. Colin is out there with Fred someplace, and as long as youre like this, hes having a better time
than you are. Susan Bones pushed a bottle of Potio Vitae in front of Dennis, and he looked gratefully at
her and then at George.
Thanks, he said. Ill try to remember that. He took a swig and looked at the label on the bottle and
then at Harry. This is good.
The party went on. Harry spent most of his time at the DA table, trading stories about Dolores Umbridge
and Cornelius Fudge. He was glad to notice that Cho and Michael Corner were having a good time
together, and once, when he caught Ginny also looking at them, he smiled and she turned to him with the
identical smile. Ginny was sitting with her family, and most of the men in the room seemed to find an
excuse, at one time or another, to visit that table. Harry was dazzled when he saw Ginny and Fleur
together; the Veela necklace gave Ginny the same radiance that Fleur carried naturally, but he didnt care
how she came by it. Her beauty had grown to an almost unbearable level.
The hour grew late, and people started to leave. The Hogwarts teachers left first, except for Hagrid who
was sitting with Tony Trostle and some of other Hogsmeade people, regaling them with stories about all
the nefarious characters he had met in the old Hogs Head. Molly Weasley tried unsuccessfully to find
out from Ginny when she would be getting back to her dorm room that night, but Arthur finally pulled
her away, and they could be heard arguing outside until they Disapparated. Michael and Cho left
together early, as did Bill and Fleur.
Before he left, Bill pulled Harry aside and asked if he had heard from any goblins about the inn.
Theyre interested in what youve done here, he said. They never expected it to end up looking like
this. He looked admiringly around the room.
Are they sorry they sold it? Harry asked.
I dont think they are yet. It depends on how well you do. But if it does do well, and if you do want to
get out, my guess is that youll be able to turn a tidy profit.
Not after tonight, Harry laughed. Im going to have to order another dozen cases of Potio Vitae. That
stuff goes like water.
Bill made a face. I cant stand it, and neither can Fleur. Oh, well, everyone has his own taste.
Bill and Fleur left after Fleur kissed Harry and Ginny goodbye, and by midnight everyone was gone
except Ron and Hermione. The four of them plus Stan sat together at a table; they had all helped
Kreacher and Winky clean up, even while Kreacher complained nonstop about wizards who didnt
know where anything was supposed to be put away, and Winkys similar grumbling whenever anyone
had the temerity to step into the kitchen.
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had the temerity to step into the kitchen.


Do you think we can go into Diagon Alley tomorrow morning for a couple of hours? Ginny asked; she
was holding Harrys hands in hers, more to keep them off herself than anything else. Hermione wants to
show me that new dress shop.
Dont you have homework?
I can do it in the afternoon, and Ill also have some time when I get back to school.
Harry yawned. Sure, why not? Is that okay? he said to Stan. If we get there around ten, we can get
back here by one or two in the afternoon.
Sure, Stan nodded. Well just be serving sandwiches. Take you time, arry, itll be fine.
Okay. Harry frowned for a moment and looked at Ginny. What about that, um, what Percy told us.
We havent talked about it yet.
Stan stood up. Ill just see what Winky needs doing in the kitchen. See you all tomorrow.
As soon as he was gone Harry told Ron and Hermione about their luncheon in the Ministry that
afternoon. Its getting late, so maybe we can talk about it at your place tomorrow. If those Death Eaters
are all out of the country, though, I dont see how they can be connected to the Dark Marks here in
Hogsmeade.
Im not sure, Hermione said. But thats a lot to think about. Come on, Ron, she dug her finger into
his side,time for a little snuggly. Did you know your brother was ticklish? she grinned at Ginny.
Oh, yeah, Ginny laughed. Its a well known secret in our family. Im glad to see that youve
discovered it.
It wasnt hard to do.
Okay, okay, Ron took Hermiones hand. Knock it off, Ginny, or Ill tell Harry about some of your
own little secrets.
He already knows all of them, Ginny stuck her tongue out at him.
They walked to the front door, and Harry and Ginny watched as their friends Disapparated. They looked
up at the sky; it had clouded over, and it was starting to feel a little cool. They put their arms around
each other and Ginny sighed.That was a good party. Im really glad you did this. Everybody had a great
time.
Harry lifted up the Veela necklace. Do you have any idea how beautiful you are? You made Fleur look
like an old hag.
Oh, Harry, Ginny laughed, thats sweet, but its not true. No one can make Fleur look less beautiful
than she is.
So shes not Phlegm anymore?
No, Ginny said. I was bitchy then. Well, maybe she was a little stuck up, too. But I really like her,
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No, Ginny said. I was bitchy then. Well, maybe she was a little stuck up, too. But I really like her,
and I think she likes me. She loves you.
She loves all of us, Harry put the necklace slowly back on her skin and ran his finger over it. I think
that when she talks about love, it isnt just manwoman love. Shes talking about the kind of thing that
Dumbledore used to harangue me about.
They heard the kitchen door open in the dining room and Stan came out; he walked to them. Im off,
he announced. You two have a good time in Diagon Alley tomorrow.
Thanks, Stan, and have a good night. Harry waved to him as he walked up the lane and turned onto the
High Street. And we need to be getting to bed, too. He smiled at Ginny, and she batted her eyelids.
Sleepy? she asked.
Maybe. Lets go find out.
Winky was snoring inside her cupboard, and they saw no sign of Kreacher Harry supposed that he had
found his own place to sleep and they went upstairs. Harry lit the two remaining candles, and when he
had put the second candlestick on his night stand and turned around, Ginny was standing on the other
side of the bed wearing nothing but the Veela necklace.
Sleepy? she repeated.
Harry could not speak. He felt as though he was in the presence of a goddess. After staring at her for
several minutes with his breathing growing shorter and shorter, she took pity on him and pulled the
covers back. They fell into bed, and as they made love, the Veela necklace that lay between their bodies
seemed to bind them together with a magical force. They slept entwined, and the sun was well up when
they awoke.
Ron and Hermione were already up when Harry and Ginny arrived. They talked over tea about the
escaped Death Eaters and the new situation in the Ministry. They were spotted in France, for Gods
sake! Ron declared. How could they be in Hogsmeade and France at the same time? Theyre too far
apart to Apparate, and the Ministry would have known if they used a Portkey. Theres no way any one of
them could have put up those Dark Marks or killed that weasel.
Hermione frowned. I dont know. But if not them, then who? Two Dark Marks, the dead weasel, those
Imperiused blokes, Turquoise Southebys behavior, those Slytherin prats... It just seems like a lot of
things are going on up there.
You cant lump the Slytherins in with the Dark Marks, said Harry. Theyre just a pack of gits. One of
thems a Lestrange, another ones a Rookwood. Doesnt that say it all?
I agree with Harry on that, Ginny said. Kleinhead is just a bully. Hes too stupid to plan something as
complicated as finding two homeless wizards or one wizard and a Squib Imperiusing them, and
killing a weasel just to spook Ron and me. What they did in the cellars was pathetic. I think that either
Luna or myself could have handled them alone.
Hermione shrugged. I cant explain a lot of it, I admit, but its all too coincidental. I still think that
someones out to get Harry.
Harry grinned. Well, they wouldnt be the first. So far its just been annoying. Except, he added
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Harry grinned. Well, they wouldnt be the first. So far its just been annoying. Except, he added
quickly as Ginny raised her eyebrows, for what the Slytherins tried to do. But thats actually a clue that
they didnt have anything to do with the Dark Marks. Youre right, Gin, they were trying to hurt you.
And that proves how stupid they are, Ginny said.
Okay, so we know squat about whats happening in Hogsmeade, Ron said, but what about the
Ministry? I guess Percys in for a nice promotion.
And he deserves it, declared Ginny. He did the right thing, even though his boss was the one who was
screwing up.
They talked around the Ministrys problems for a few more minutes, but only Hermione thought that
there was a connection to what was happening in Hogsmeade. Finally she stood up. We just dont have
enough information, so, she grinned at Ginny, lets go shopping. Harry and Ron decided to stay in the
flat, and Ginny and Hermione left.
Diagon Alley was crowded; the weather was cool and it looked like it might rain later in the day, so
people were taking advantage of a few clear hours. Ginny and Hermione had to push through the
throngs, but they were in no hurry. They windowshopped along the way, looking into a magical
jewelry shop and a few shoe stores. The dress shop called Simply Sallys was near Gringotts. They
stood outside for a few minutes looking at the displays, then went in.
The owner was a tall, elegant witch with a graceful way of moving. She turned out to be an old friend of
Mollys, and she was also the designer of most of the dresses and robes in her store. She and Ginny got
into a discussion about some of the newer styles that witches were now wearing. Hermione was at the
front of the store browsing a rack of winter robes, when she heard, Miss Weasley, are you all right?
She turned to see Ginny leaning on a counter, staring at the door with an alarmed expression.
Ginny, what is it? she cried, and rushed over to her.
Harry, said Ginny, and pushed past Hermione. Somethings happened. We have to get back to the
flat.
But what... how do you know? Hermione hurried after her; Ginny was already out the door trying to
move through the crowd. Ginny! Wait! Hermione caught up to her. What are you doing?
Ginny stopped and looked at her. I dont know how I know, but I know. I dont think hes in danger, or
that Ron is, but something happened and he wants me. She began forcing her way past people who
were stopped at a vendors cart; they sent annoyed looks at her and Hermione, and a few yelled at them.
When they were in sight of the Wheezes, they saw Harry and Ron standing in the doorway, looking over
the crowd. Ginny jumped and waved, and Harry spotted her and waved back; he watched anxiously until
Ginny and Hermione were both there, then he pulled them into the shop.
Ginny could hear a low humming sound, and Harry held up his wand. Something set off the spell. The
inn was attacked again. We have to get back.
Back to index

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Chapter 20: Repel And Warn


Author's Notes: A big thanks to everyhone who nominated Hogs Head for a DSTA.
Harry and Ginny were the first to Apparate into the field behind the inn, but there was a quick succession
of pops as Ron, Hermione, George, and Lee followed. Harry and Ginny ran handinhand toward the
inn, and they saw in dismay that a large Dark Mark was painted or drawn on the back wall. But then
Ginny gasped and almost stumbled; Harry pulled her up and followed her look and her finger that was
pointing at the roof line. No! he screamed. God damn them!
The middle chimney was gone. A few bricks lay on the ground next to the back door, but Harry knew
that there must be a larger pile of rubble on the other side. God, I hope no one was hurt, Ginnys voice
sounded almost like a moan. They all stopped and stood a few feet from the building looking up at the
wall and the roof.
The back door burst open and Stan came out, his face white, his wand in his hand. Arry, thank Merlin
youre back! They it the inn back ere, then they went around front, but someone saw them and they
Disapparated. It was just a couple of minutes ago.
Harry raced through the inn, pulling Ginny after him. The front door was open, and a dozen people were
standing just outside. They moved aside when they saw Harry, and he stepped past them.
He swore again. A large pile of bricks, stones, and chimney pipes lay in a heap. He walked over to it,
and he felt a lump form in his throat. He looked at Ginny and saw his own anger and fear mirrored in her
face. As Hermione and Ron came out from the dining room, Harry looked up at the sloped roof and saw
the remnants of the chimney on top. Somehow the crashing debris had missed the sign; the smiling pig
gazed down on them unscathed.
George and Lee are in back, Ron said. I told them to wait there, just in case. Before Harry could
respond, he heard a familiar voice.
Harry, Luna was walking toward them with Keesha; both of them had their wands out. I think I
winged one of them, but they got away. There were three. It was such an elegant chimney, too. Maybe
you can repair it.
Luna! What are you doing here? Harry asked. Everything was becoming confusing, he couldnt think
straight; he felt as though someone had hit him on the head.
Oh, we finished all our homework and decided to pay you a visit. And here we are, she smiled. Hi,
Ginny, its too bad to see you like this, but all things considered, it was lucky we got here when we did. I
think they were going to do more damage.
Who? Harry was finding it difficult to keep from screaming at Lunas maddening calmness. Who
were they? Did you see their faces? Luna! His nose was inches from Lunas smile, and he felt a tug on
his arm as Ginny pulled him back.
Keesha, Ron said calmly, what exactly did you see?
Keesha took a breath. We had just turned off the High Street and we heard an explosion, and then the
chimney came down. I thought at first it had just collapsed, but then we saw three wizards run around the
side of the building. One of them pointed his wand at the roof, but Luna shot a Stunning Spell, and they
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side of the building. One of them pointed his wand at the roof, but Luna shot a Stunning Spell, and they
Disapparated.
Excuse me, said another familiar voice, and everyone turned to see Turquoise Southeby standing a few
yards away in the open field next to the inn; somehow, no one had noticed her. Harrys jaw clamped
shut, and he could feel Ginnys grip on his arm tighten. He glanced at her; she was glaring at Southeby
and her wand was pointing halfway between the ground and the blond witch.
What? said Harry shortly, feeling another surge of anger rising in his craw; he partly raised his own
wand, hoping it would give her an idea of his state of mind.
Oh, please! she laughed and gestured at their wands. I just wanted to say that I saw those people too,
and there were only two of them.
No! exclaimed Keesha. There were three! I saw them!
Harry stared at Southeby, unable to fathom what she wanted or what she was talking about. He turned to
the people standing nearby who had been in the inn; a few of the wizards were eyeing Turquoise, whos
bodice was tight and lowcut. Did anyone see who did this? Or how many there were?
They all shook their heads. Luna turned and fixed a steady gaze at Turquoise, who did not meet her eyes,
but lost her smile and looked away. You are mistaken, Luna said. How could there be only two when
I saw three?
Well, Im not... I mean, I did see them. I was right up there in the post office.
On Sunday? Lunas eyebrows lifted.
The silence was suddenly broken by a loud crack, and Morequest Pester Apparated directly in front of
Luna. She jumped back, startled, and had to push her glasses back up on her nose, but then she gave him
her most serene smile. Hello, Professor, we need some defenses against the Dark Arts.
Pesters appearance snapped Harry out of the fog that had enveloped his brain. He yanked his arm from
Ginnys hand and pointed his finger at the Professor. Well look whos here. How nice of you to show
up, he snarled. A little late again, though, arent you? Did the owl get lost this time, or was your head
stuck in your lesson plan? Got to keep one jump ahead of the class, I suppose. Or maybe your head was
stuck up someplace else.
A few of the patrons sniggered, Turquoise giggled, and Hermione gasped. Pesters face turned a dark,
and he started to speak, but then he closed his mouth. He looked at the pile of rubble, then at the roof.
Youre upset, Potter, he said quietly. But you should watch what you say, it could get you into
trouble.
Im already in trouble, Harry said angrily, pointing at the roof. A mans supposed to be able to live
his life in peace, especially after he He stopped and looked at Ginny; she took his hand, which was in
the middle of a gesture at Pester, and laced her fingers through his. She said nothing, but just looked at
Harry.
Harry turned to Pester. Just do your job, he said. He walked a few yards away, shaking with anger.
Ginny came with him and they both stood silently.
Everyone looked up the lane; Tony Trostle and his foreman Carlos were running toward them. Harry!
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Everyone looked up the lane; Tony Trostle and his foreman Carlos were running toward them. Harry!
Tony shouted, I heard the explosion, but I didnt think Merlin, what did they do? He looked at the
pile of bricks and then up at the roof and swore. Was anyone hurt? Did anyone see them?
No one was hurt, Harry answered, and Luna and Keesha saw them. There were three wizards.
Oh, no, Harry, there were only two, Turquoise said; she had moved closer. She smiled at Harry and
took a deep breath; her bosom rose and fell.
Ginny had had enough. Ignoring everyone and everything else, she stepped in front of Harry and poked
her finger hard against the witchs collar bone. Turquoise stepped back; she was several inches taller
than Ginny, but she seemed to shrink as Ginny spoke. Listen, Southeby, I dont care what you saw and I
dont care what you wear or what you dont wear. You mind your own effing business, understand?
She brought her wand up between them and fixed Turquoise with a look that was beyond blazing.
Turquoise stepped back, but then her mouth smiled. She turned wordlessly and walked away, swaying
her hips; Ginny pointed her wand at her back, but at that instant Hermione pushed the wand down. No,
she whispered, shes only trouble.
Ginny glared at Hermione, but put her wand away, and Harry put his hand on her shoulder. Turquoise
stopped when she was standing next to Pester.
Well, Weasley, said the Professor, smiling slightly at Ron, do you remember anything from your
training?
An hour later, Harry and Ginny sat at a table in the dining room, not speaking. Harry played with a fork
and kept his eyes down; Ginny watched him with her lips pressed into a thin line. Ron and Hermione sat
at the same table, morosely looking at each other and the other two. Stan was behind the bar, silently
wiping the counter over and over, putting glasses and mugs away, then rearranging them. Kreacher sat on
the floor next to the kitchen door with his back against the wall; his ancient, wrinkled face was blank as
he stared into space.
There were no customers in the dining room. George and Lee had returned to Diagon Alley after Harry
told them there was no point in their standing watch behind the building any longer. The only sounds
were the voices of Tony and his crew foreman, discussing in Spanish how to repair the damage.
Morequest Pester had questioned Luna, Keesha, Turquoise, and a few of the customers who had been in
the inn. No one inside had seen or heard anything until the explosion and the crash of the chimney on
the roof; everyone had ducked under tables when the avalanche of debris had started to fall. Some of
them said they heard a scream just as the culprits were Disapparating, but not everyone had. Turquoise
insisted that there were only two attackers; she said she saw them run in front of the building, and saw
the spell that Luna had shot at them; it had missed, she said.
Luna didnt say much after Pester had arrived, except to answer his questions; she just stared serenely at
him, until he seemed to become annoyed and asked what her problem was. She smiled and told him that
there were no more problems, since she had finished her homework.
Keesha was positive that she had seen three wizards. She became angry at Turquoise who told her
disparagingly that she didnt know what she was talking about. Pester had to step between them and
asked Southeby to wait back at the post office; he would talk to her there again, later.
Keesha and Luna left, and Pester walked around the inn and stared at the Dark Mark; he gestured at it
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Keesha and Luna left, and Pester walked around the inn and stared at the Dark Mark; he gestured at it
with his wand, but it didnt change and he didnt say anything. He also went inside, looked into all the
storerooms and cupboards, and said that he wanted to see the flat. Harry refused, and Pester stared at
him for a few seconds, then turned and, without a word, walked across the field to the post office.
Now Ginny, Hermione, and Ron sat unhappily in the dining room, waiting for Harry to say something.
But it was Tony who broke the silence. He came inside, his face grim.
I cant repair it magically, he said. Whatever they hit it with put some kind of jinx on it and we cant
get rid of it. Well have to rebuild.
Harry stood and strode to the door, pulling out his wand as he walked outside; everyone followed. He
pointed his wand at the rubble scattered about. Reparo, he said in a low voice. Some of the bricks
moved slightly, and Tonys eyebrows went up.
Harry glared at the debris, then flicked his wand. Reparo! he shouted, and everyone jumped back as
bricks, stones, shingles, and pipes suddenly soared up to the roof in a cloud of dust. In five seconds the
intact chimney was back in place.
How in the hell did you do that? Tony muttered, almost to himself. He looked at Harrys wand. How
did you do that?
Harrys smile was tightlipped. My wand broke last year, but I repaired it and for some reason it got
stronger. He put it back inside his belt and avoided looking at anyone.
What about the Dark Mark? Ginny asked.
Oh, yeah, that, Harry gave her the same mirthless smile he had just given Tony. Might as well get rid
of it. Or maybe not. Maybe if I leave it there theyll leave me alone. His voice was bitter.
Harry, no! Ginny reached for his hand; he let her take it and looked at her in misery and frustration.
Ginny felt a stab in her heart; it had been a long time since she had seen him look that way. Come, she
put her hand on his chest; she knew how much he liked that. She nodded to Ron, and he led the way
around back. Ginny held Harrys hand tightly, and gradually he returned the pressure.
The awful mark covered about twenty feet of the wall and extended almost to the second storey. The
skull seemed to leer at them, and the serpent it was vomiting was almost too realistic with its mouth
gaping and its fangs extended. Ron took a breath, and pointed his wand. He tried a simple Scourgify,
then an erasing spell, then a few variations that he had learned in the Auror training program. Nothing
worked. Hermione, Ginny, and Tony all tried, unsuccessfully. Finally they all looked at Harry. He was
glaring at the Mark.
Your Reparo worked brilliantly, Ginny said. Ron, what was that last one you tried? I thought the
Mark faded a little when you used it.
Yeah, I thought so, too. Depero. Its a little like Evanesco, but its supposed to be stronger. You have to
give your wand kind of a stuttering movement. He showed the motion to Harry, who looked at him
dubiously.
I never even heard of it, Harry said. Show it again. Ron repeated the motion, then stood back as
Harry faced the wall.
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Depero! he said loudly; the Mark faded perceptibly, and everyone cheered, but then it came back as
clear as before. Harry looked at Ron, his brow furrowed.
You just stuttered the wand twice. You have to do it at least three times. Ron held Harrys hand and
showed him.
Harry pointed his wand again, Depero! The Mark disappeared, and everyone cheered again. Harry
clapped Ron on his back. Nice spell, mate, youll have to teach me some more of those.
Ron looked proud. Maybe I should break my wand and get it fixed by ouch! He grabbed his shin
where Hermione had kicked it and started hopping in place.
Come on, Harry said before Tony could ask questions, Im getting hungry.
Winky served them sandwiches, and Stan put out bottles of butterbeer and Potio Vitae. Tony told Harry
that he was going to organize a village watch to help keep an eye on things. After everything youve
done for us, Harry, its the least we can do for you. No! he put his hand up to stop Harrys protest. Its
true, and its also good for business. If this keeps up, people will start to be frightened again. When the
Death Eaters took over the village last spring, no one went anywhere or spent any money. It was a
disaster. Im not gonna let that happen again.
Well, thanks, Tony, Harry mumbled. I really appreciate it.
So now what? asked Ron after Tony and his foreman had left; he finished off a butterbeer and set the
bottle down. Do you want us to stay? I dont have to be at the Ministry until tomorrow morning. He
looked at Hermione, and she frowned.
I was supposed to go back to the Institute for a few hours, but I can owl Madame Geneva. This is more
important.
Harry looked gratefully at his friends. I really think itll be okay. Ill put a warding spell on the building
tonight. I dont know what I can do in the long run, though, except find out whos doing it.
I was thinking about that, Hermione said. I thought it was very interesting that Turquoise Southeby
was in the post office, just when they attacked. She never answered Lunas question about why she was
there on a Sunday.
Ginny scowled fiercely. If that bitch had anything to do with it, Ill give her bat boogies in places she
never even knew existed.
They all laughed, and Harry leaned over and kissed her. That would be a treat. I agree with Luna and
you, he said to Hermione. I dont trust her.
Well, theres something else, Hermione said. When you sent the owl to Pester last week, was she at
the post office?
Of course she was! That explains why he never got the owl.
I didnt know you could sabotage owls, Ron said skeptically. I never heard of it. You can intercept
them, even kill them, but if you give an owl directions, it will follow them no matter what someone else
tells it. Im sure of that.
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tells it. Im sure of that.


Why are you so sure? Hermione demanded. And maybe she told someone else about it, and they
intercepted it somehow.
I guess, Ron said reluctantly. But that would be tampering with the post. Very unBritish, if you ask
me. Hermione rolled her eyes.
You have to admit, though, shes a prime suspect, Harry said to Ron.
Well, she does act bloody weird sometimes, but maybe shes just nutters.
The afternoon passed, but no customers came. A few people wandered down the lane and looked up at
the roof, then went around back and stared at the wall, but they all left. Harry became more and more
glum; he sat at the table and glanced toward the door whenever anyone appeared out front, but when
they went away he slumped lower in his chair and the look on his face became darker. Ron and
Hermione talked quietly to each other, but Ginny watched Harry and became more anxious as he became
more depressed.
Winky brought in a large tureen of thick vegetable soup and a large loaf of sourdough bread. Kreacher
dished out bowls to each of them, then both elves returned to the kitchen. Harry ate only a few spoonfuls
and a small piece of bread; he sat back again and stared at the table with his arms folded.
Ron finished his bowl of soup and tore off half the loaf and started on it. So, what about those warding
spells, Harry? If you want to use them, Ill give you a hand, but well have to leave if were going back
to Diagon Alley tonight.
Harry glanced at Ginny. Everyone will have to leave, Stan and... you have to get back to school, Gin.
You have homework, dont you?
Ginny shook her head. Im staying here. I can do it tomorrow morning.
Ginny... A look of utter relief spread over Harrys face. Are you sure? Wont you get in trouble.
I dont care. Besides, the worst they can do is give me detention. She smiled. I decided a while ago. I
should have told you before, Im sorry.
Harrys eyes brimmed, and he blinked rapidly. Thanks, his voice faltered, then he looked at Ron.
Lets do it now.
Stan closed up the bar, closed the shutters, and said goodnight. The others said goodbye to each other,
then Ron and Hermione stepped outside. Ron and Harry put the warding spells on the building, then Ron
and Hermione Disapparated back to their flat.
Well, thats that, Harry said as they stood by themselves in the dim light of a few candles. The inn was
quiet and peaceful. Harry put the candles out, then felt his way to Ginny and embraced her; he held her
close, but not tightly. She raised her head and he kissed her gently, then she dropped her head to his
chest and rested it there. Harry stroked her hair, saying nothing, and after a moment Ginny felt his tears
on her forehead. She looked up.
Its going to be okay, she whispered and wiped the wetness from his face. Were safe. No one can
touch the inn now.
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touch the inn now.


Ginny, I feel like youre the only thing I have in the world, Harrys voice shook. I know Ron and
Hermione will always be there for me, but they have their own lives now. They always came when I
needed them, but I cant ask them to be that way anymore. If I didnt have you, I dont know what I
would do.
And I will always be here. I told you that last night.
Harry was silent, then he said, I know you mean that, but tomorrow night Im going to be alone, and I
hate that. Its not your fault, I chose to do buy the inn and to be here. He wiped his face with his sleeve
and sniffled. This is stupid. I really dont need you to be here all the time. Ginny could just make out
the tiny twitch of his smile in the gloom. Well, actually I do, he admitted, but I know you cant.
She put her hands on his chest. Thats how I feel. I want to be here but I cant.
There was a long pause. Ginny put her arms around him again and this time they held each other tightly.
The room was completely dark.
Then Ginny sensed a change in Harrys mood, and he began to speak hesitantly, haltingly. Maybe we
can, you know... sometime... maybe after schools out... get... you know...
Married? Harry could see Ginnys grin, even in the dark.
Well, yeah, thats what I was thinking.
That wont make a difference now, Harry. Ill still have to live in the dorm.
I know, but... He suddenly let her go and groped for a chair. He lit his wand and sat down; Ginny came
to the table and sat across from him. Harry tapped the base of his wand on the tabletop and the tip flared.
I shouldnt have said that. Im sorry, Ginny. I love you, but that wasnt the right thing to say, at least
not now.
I love you, too. I did like the question, she grinned, so save it for later, okay?
He finally smiled. Sure.
Lets go upstairs, Ginny came and pulled him out of his chair. They went through the kitchen and
heard both Kreacher and Winky snoring from cupboards on opposite sides of the room. Up in the flat,
Harry lit a fire and they sat in the love seat, staring at the flames, holding hands, hearing nothing but the
occasional flutter of McPherson stretching his wings. Ginny moved closer to Harry, then climbed into his
lap. After a few minutes of heavy snogging, Harry picked her up and carried her into the bedroom.
The next morning after breakfast Harry removed the warding spells from the inn. He decided to go back
to Hogwarts with Ginny and talk to Professor Flitwick again about protective spells. They walked back
through Hogsmeade and up the drive to the castle. They kissed goodbye at the portrait hole and Harry
went around to the Professors office, but Flitwick wasnt there. He borrowed a quill and a piece of
parchment from a passing student and wrote out a message and shoved it under the door. He thought for
a moment, then, with a smile and a glance in the direction of the Gryffindor tower, he headed downstairs
to the library to see what he could learn on his own about protective magic.
When Ginny came through the portrait hole into the common room, Ritchie Cootes, one of the
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When Ginny came through the portrait hole into the common room, Ritchie Cootes, one of the
Gryffindor prefects, was waiting for her with a note from Argus Filch, countersigned by Professor
McGonagall, informing her that any more late weekend returns would cost her a detention. As soon as
Ritchie turned his back she threw it into the fire. She hurried upstairs to her room to dump her dirty
clothes and pick up a few books and rolls of parchment. Sarah and Christina both stared at her, but they
didnt dare ask any questions, and Ginny went back downstairs and headed for the library.
She spotted Harry as soon as she got there, and plunked her book bag on the table in front of him. He
looked up, startled, then returned her grin. I thought youd be coming down here, he said. Have a
seat.
What are you doing here? she asked in a low voice. I thought you were seeing Flitwick.
He wasnt there. I decided Id do some research on my own. See? He held up a thick, wellworn
copy of Perlmans Passive and Protective Charms.
Ginny smiled, then gave him a quick kiss and sat down next to him. They held hands as they studied,
even after Madame Pince passed in back of them and cleared her throat loudly. They glanced around at
her; she stood for a moment glaring at them, but when they both smiled back she hmmphed and strode
away.
Ginny left Harry in the library at ten oclock for her first class, Transfiguration. Professor McGonagall
looked at her for a moment when she came in, but said nothing. Ginny took a seat next to Keesha.
Are you okay? Keesha asked. Did you come back last night?
Ginny shook her head. Harry was in pretty bad shape, I couldnt leave him. Hes better now, but I dont
know what hes going to do about the inn.
If you ask me he should hex that Turquoise bitch, Keesha declared. I guarantee you shes at the
bottom of it.
Im not sure about that, Luna said from behind them; she had just come in the classroom, and she sat
next to Ginny. But theres something wrong with her. I never saw anyone behave so dreadfully.
Whatevers wrong with her can be cured by large quantities of strategically applied Bulbadox powder,
Keesha said. Luna was about to respond when Professor McGonagall called for their attention; for the
rest of the hour they were busy trying to Transfigure a photograph of a cat into a real one using non
verbal incantations, and they had no time to speak of Turquoise Southeby again.
Ginny went back to the library after the class, but Harry was gone. She worked on a Muggle Studies
parchment, and at noon went to lunch. She smiled when she entered the Great Hall and saw Emma and
Claire waving at her; she sat down across from them. Hi, girls, how was your weekend?
Good! said Emma. We were down by the lake and saw the Giant Squid!
Always a treat, Ginny grinned. I think Ive only seen it three or four times.
How is Harry? asked Claire, and for a moment Ginny wasnt sure what to say. Well, she replied
slowly, hes okay now, but yesterday someone drew a Dark Mark on his inn again and they also
knocked over the chimney. But he fixed that, and got rid of the Dark Mark. He was pretty upset,
though.
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though.
It couldnt have been those Slytherin prats, Emma declared. They had detention all weekend.
Everyone heard how you petrified them, Ginny.
I didnt petrify them, Ginny answered with a small frown, remembering the trail of Basilisk victims. I
dont even know how to do that. I used Petrificus totalis. Thats a body binding spell. It just sounds like
petrifying.
The twins nodded at the same time. Ginny began eating, but just then Jimmy Peakes sat down next to
her. Hey, Jimmy, she greeted him, did anyone else sign up for the team? I didnt get a chance to
check the list this morning.
He looked at her a little askance. You didnt come back last night, did you? When Ginny ignored the
question he went on. So when will you reschedule the tryouts?
What do you mean? Ginny put down her fork; it was still holding several chunks of baked macaroni.
Why do I have to reschedule the tryouts? I already reserved the pitch for Saturday morning.
McGonagall announced a memorial service for Saturday morning. Attendance is required. The pitch is
still free in the afternoon, though.
Ginny swore and slammed her fist on the table; the twins exchanged glances, and Jimmy moved away a
few inches. Well, I may have to postpone the tryouts, she scowled at him. My weekends are... busy.
Jimmy looked unhappy, then nettled. Maybe you shouldnt be captain, if Quidditch isnt that important
to you. Its important to a lot of other people.
Ginny glowered at her plate, then at Jimmy. Well have the tryouts Saturday afternoon, she said. All
right? He nodded and turned to his food, and ignored Ginny for the rest of the meal.
Ginny also ate in silence, not looking up from her plate. She could tell that the twins were watching her,
and after a few mouthfuls of macaroni and cheese she smiled at them. Harry told Hagrid that hed come
to your Care of Magical Creatures class tomorrow. We heard you were studying Pygmy Puffs. Do you
like them?
The girls nodded enthusiastically. We sent an owl to our parents asking if we could get some as pets,
said Emma. We know exactly how to feed them and take care of them now. Our mum and dad dont
know much about magical creatures, though. We wanted to buy an owl when we were in Diagon Alley,
but they said the cat would eat it, or maybe it would eat the cat.
Ginnys humor was partially restored; she spent the rest of the meal discussing Pygmy Puffs with Emma
and Claire, and told them that her brother sold them in his shop, and she would ask him about them. The
girls left for their next class, and Ginny left for Defense Against the Dark Arts.
By the time she got to the classroom she was in a foul mood again. She did not want to see Pester; she
was afraid that Keesha and Luna would start talking about Turquoise Southeby again; and she now had
to face the prospect of telling Harry that her entire Saturday was tied up. He probably would want to go
with her to the memorial service, but he would also want her to be at the inn for the rest of the day. She
did, too, but didnt know now how it was going to work out.
Jimmy Peakess retort had stung her. She had been appointed captain; it was her team. She was certain
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Jimmy Peakess retort had stung her. She had been appointed captain; it was her team. She was certain
that Jimmy coveted the job; he was a good but not great Quidditch player, and there was no guarantee
that he would make the team, unless he was captain.
She was one of the first to arrive in the classroom, and sat at an empty desk near the back. Keesha and
Luna soon joined her, but no one talked about Turquoise. Luna smiled at her, and Keesha only asked
Ginny if she had finished her homework. When Pester came in he walked quickly to the front of the
room and told them to practice nonverbal incantations again. Ginny and Ruth Madison both did well,
and the Professor didnt speak to them.
The Slytherin boys were also in class, sitting right behind Ginny, but Jace Kleinhead studiously avoided
looking at her. Pester ended the practice session, then launched into another lecture about Unforgivable
Curses. But this time he used examples from his own experience as an Auror, and Ginny actually found
it interesting. He talked about a case from his first year as a professional Auror in which two witches had
taken turns Imperiusing the same wizard because he had proposed marriage to both of them. But the case
had ended tragically when he finally married one and the jilted witch, in a fit of hysteria, killed him and
his bride with Avada kedavras. She only omitted the Cruciatus from her list of crimes, he concluded,
and she languishes in Azkaban to this day. These types of domestic disputes, if thats what this was,
rarely end up with and Unforgivable Curse being used, but it does happen.
The three girls went down to their Potions class together. Pesters a strange duck, said Keesha. He
certainly knows his subject, but hes so full of himself that he gets in his own way.
I hope he talked to Miss Southeby, Luna said. Shes at least as full of herself as he is.
Ginny kept her mouth tightly shut. This was a topic she did not want to discuss, and she was also
wondering what their Potions class would be like, with herself, Jace, and Professor Slughorn together in
the same room. And she was still worrying how Harry would react when she told him about Saturday.
Potions was uneventful as far as any problem with Jace Kleinhead was concerned Professor Slughorn
spent a good part of the hour in back, directly behind the table where Jace was sitting. But Ginnys
concerns about Harry and Quidditch distracted her; her Oblivious Unction came out of her cauldron a
sickening shade of puce instead of milky blue, and she had to throw it all out at the end of the class. Jace
Kleinhead smirked and she glared back until he looked away. Slughorn followed Jace out of the
dungeon, but Ginny went directly upstairs with Luna and didnt see where those two went. She went to
Madame Hoochs office and reserved the Quidditch pitch for Saturday afternoon, then went on up to the
Gryffindor tower.
Back in her room she composed a love note for Harry but didnt say anything about the memorial service
or the change in Quidditch plans; she wanted to tell him in person when they met at Hagrids class
tomorrow . Bailey flew off with the note, then Ginny went back down to the common room to see what
the tryout sheet looked like.
There were only two more signups, but neither was for Keeper. Now she was starting to worry about
that, too; Denniss enthusiastic aggressiveness would only take him and the team so far. Rons attitude
was similar to Denniss at least when he wasnt throwing up from nervousness but Ron had a height
advantage. He was at least eight inches taller, and his arms were very long. She sighed; maybe the teams
experience at the Beater position could make up for Denniss deficiencies.
The twins came down and Ginny went to dinner with them. They had just had another Transfiguration
class, and were full of bubbly exuberance about matchsticks and pins. Jimmy didnt bother her at dinner,
and after a few hours studying in the library with Luna and Keesha, she went back to her room.
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and after a few hours studying in the library with Luna and Keesha, she went back to her room.
Bailey was there with a hot reply from Harry. She sent one back, asking when he would be looking at
her on the Marauders Map. She became drowsy while awaiting his reply, so she sat in a chair by the
window, and it was both Bailey and McPherson who woke her up. Bailey tapped on the glass while
McPherson perched on the gargoyle. Ginny took the note without opening it she wanted to read it in
bed with her hangings closed and the birds reversed their positions. McPherson gave her another small
package from Honeydukes with more chocoballs. Ginny ate one and put the others on her dresser, then
got into bed; she closed the hangings and read Harrys message.
My Beautiful Ginny,
Enjoy the chocoballs; I had one myself just to remind me of how sweet your kisses are, and
how I cant get enough of them. I heard that there will be a memorial service at the castle on
Saturday morning, and I thought that afterward we could go back to London with Ron and
Hermione and do some sightseeing like Muggles. They say that London is a great place for
tourists. Or, if you want, we could go someplace else, like the village we used to visit near
Shell Cottage.
It doesnt matter to me where we go. I love you so much that the only thing that matters is
being with you.
I will be looking at the map as soon as I send the owls off. Ill probably fall asleep with it on
the pillow next to me, where you should be but arent.
I will see you tomorrow at Hagrids class. I really like Emma and Claire.
Love, Harry

Damn, Ginny swore to herself; she did not want this to happen, she did not want to have to choose
between Harry and Quidditch. Maybe there was some way to combine them; maybe she could convince
him to come to the tryouts. But when she considered that option, she knew it wouldnt work. She would
be too conscious of his presence, and he would be a distraction to the others. The only thing she could
do was postpone the tryouts for another week.
But the more she thought about that, the less she liked it. She shouldnt have to make that choice, Harry
should understand. And maybe he would; maybe she was making too big a deal about it. And she could
make it up to him in the evening.
That thought made her wiggle her toes, and she closed her eyes and smiled to herself. She remembered
that Harry was looking at the map, and she moved her legs and feet about under the covers. A warm
feeling engulfed her; she knew that Harry had seen her and was thinking about her and she was pretty
sure what the details of those thoughts were. She smiled again and turned on her side; she was asleep in
a few minutes.
****
Harry was waiting for Ginny in the entrance hall at eleven oclock the next morning. They went out into
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Harry was waiting for Ginny in the entrance hall at eleven oclock the next morning. They went out into
an overcast, slightly muggy late summer morning. Harry was in a buoyant mood, and he took Ginnys
hand and swung it back and forth as they walked.
I got a new spell from Perlmans Charms, and Professor Flitwick helped me refine it. Its called
Anapido. It sends whatever you throw at it back at you. He laughed. I tossed a rock at the wall after I
put up the spell, and it came back and almost cracked my head. Winky and Kreacher were watching and
I thought she would die laughing. Then I tried a blasting spell on the rain gutter and I almost got hit
when that flew back. Ginny, we may have found the answer! Now Ive got Proeido to warn me and
Anapido to keep spells off. Flitwick said that if someones really persistent, they could penetrate it, but it
would take time, and it would set the Proeido off. Isnt that brilliant? He took her other hand and
whirled her around as she shrieked with laughter.
Its great news! Ginny was delighted, but when her head stopped spinning she felt a pang. She hoped
that what she was going to tell him about Saturday afternoon wouldnt burst his bubble. She decided to
wait until after Hagrids class to break the news.
The Gryffindor and Slytherin first years were gathered around two tables in front of Hagrids cabin.
Ginny noticed that the two Slytherins who had been Sorted first Abigail Abernathy and Sean Allen,
plus a lanky boy with dark hair were at the table with the Gryffindors, making it more crowded. There
were about two dozen Pygmy Puffs sitting on the tables, raising quite a racket with their loud chirps;
they were a variety of shades of purple and pink. Hagrid was walking around the tables, talking to the
students who were feeding and watering the little creatures.
Now don force em to drink too fast, he was saying. Itll just come out tother end, and they wont
be too particular about where they do it or who they do it on. There was a burst of giggling, then Emma
Athair looked up and waved to Ginny and Harry. Hagrid turned and beamed. Hey, everyone! he called.
Didn I tell yeh that Harry Potter would be comin to see us? An Ginny Weasley, too?
Everyone looked at Harry. The Gryffindors cheered and swarmed around him and Ginny, but most of the
Slytherins held back, looking uncertain. Emma and Claire pushed to the front of the crowd, gleeful
smiles on their faces; apparently they had been talking to their classmates about Harry and Ginny, and
were telling some of them, I told you so.
Okay, okay, quiet yerselves down! Hagrid boomed. Now, arry, would yeh mind tellin the kids about
some a the magical creatures yeh learned about here. He winked at him. Maybe some a the friendlier
ones.
Sure, Harry laughed. He turned to the students. The best magical creature I ever met is right over
there, he pointed to the large enclosure down toward the Forbidden Forest where Buckbeak stayed
whenever he was at Hogwarts. Hes a hippogriff named Buckbeak. He saved my life a couple of times,
and he fought during the battle last spring. You have to be very respectful of him, though. Hes very
proud.
Ats right, Hagrid said. Yehll be learnin about im in yer third year. Ginny, what about you, what
was yer favorite magical creature?
Unicorns, no doubt, she answered promptly. Theyre so pure and beautiful. I love Pygmy Puffs, too,
especially to cuddle. She took a Puff that Claire handed her and stroked it. I used to own one named
Arnold. She grinned and some of the students laughed.
Is everyone enjoying the class? Harry asked. How about you? he said to the darkhaired Slytherin
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Is everyone enjoying the class? Harry asked. How about you? he said to the darkhaired Slytherin
boy, who was watching him closely. Whats your name?
Zoroaster Black, the boy said into the sudden silence.
Harry stared at him. Are... were you related to Sirius Black?
Yeah, he was my second cousin, him and Regulus. I never knew them, though, my parents wouldnt let
me visit them.
Sirius was my godfather, said Harry. Did you know that?
The boy nodded. Im sorry he was killed,
Well. Hagrid cleared his throat. Ats nice, Zoro. Okay, everyone back to what yeh were doin!
Ginny and Harry wandered around the tables for a while, and even the Slytherins warmed up and chatted
with them. Harry kept looking at Zoroaster Black, and finally Ginny put her hand on Harrys shoulder.
He does look a little like Sirius, doesnt he?
He does. It sounds like Sirius wasnt the only member of the family who didnt believe all that
pureblood crap.
When the class ended, Emma and Claire walked back to the castle with Harry and Ginny. They talked
about the Pygmy Puffs, and asked about unicorns and hippogriffs, but when they got to the front steps
Ginny stopped. Why dont you two go on up? she said to the twins. Ill meet you in the Great Hall.
Ill be there, too, Harry called as they disappeared into the entrance hall. He turned to Ginny. Whats
up? Did you like the chocoballs? I told the people at Honeydukes to keep a good supply on hand cause
Ill be buying a lot of them. He took Ginnys hands and grinned at her.
Ginny nodded but didnt smile. She had decided just to say it. Somethings come up on Saturday
afternoon. I have to hold the Quidditch tryouts then. I wont be able to spend the afternoon with you. Im
sorry, I didnt want to do it, but everyone wants the tryouts this weekend. Theres a lot of interest in the
team, and...
Thats fine, Harry smiled. Ill come down to the pitch and watch. Thatll be fun.
Ginny took a breath. Im not sure thats a good idea. Itll be kind of, you know, distracting. Listen, she
added hastily when Harrys smile faded and was replaced with a frown, its only for this weekend. I
had it scheduled for the morning, but then this memorial service came up, so... so I had to reschedule the
tryouts. Ill go right to the inn from the pitch. We can go into London for the evening, how does that
sound?
Harry shrugged. Okay, I guess. But I dont see why it would be distracting for me to be there. Maybe I
could even help out.
Ginny looked down, then off into the distance toward the lake; she felt like she was walking on
eggshells, and she didnt like the feeling. Harry, love, she turned back to him, Ill feel funny if youre
there. Dont you see? If I do something that someone doesnt like, theyll look at you and think, maybe
even say, that Ginnys an idiot and Harry Potter wouldnt have done it that way. I dearly want you to
come to the matches, and I might even ask your advice about something, but I just wont feel right about
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come to the matches, and I might even ask your advice about something, but I just wont feel right about
it if youre at the tryouts.
Oh. Harry nodded. Yeah, I can see that. Okay.
Okay? Are you sure? Ginny peered at him carefully; he didnt look sure, in fact he looked a little
angry. I can understand if youre upset, but its important to me.
He swallowed. Yeah, its okay. I know how important it is. And I know how hard it is to be a captain,
too. Im just disappointed that I wont see you until the evening. I guess well have to make up the time
somehow. He drew close to her; their hands, which they were still holding, pressed into their thighs,
and Ginny closed her eyes and sighed.
Dammit, Harry, how can I eat lunch now? Youre getting me hot and bothered. Oops. She opened her
eyes and looked at a group of students returning from the greenhouses; they had passed within a yard or
two of her and Harry as she was speaking, and some of them laughed and whispered to each other. Harry
glared at them, but Ginny turned pink and giggled nervously. I need to remember where I am when you
do things like that. Come on, lets eat lunch.
They followed the students inside. Ginny was relieved that the conversation had gone the way it had, but
when she glanced at Harry she saw a small crease on his forehead. She didnt sense any darkness in his
mood, but some of the upbeat feeling that had been there an hour ago was gone.
Back to index

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Chapter 21: A Chat With Bill


Author's Notes: Thanks you all for your DSTA nomintions and your votes.
The rest of Harrys week was quiet. Nothing happened to the inn, either because of the new spells or
simply because whoever was behind the attacks was lying low. Customers started returning many of
them urged on by Tony Trostle and by Friday evening there was a nice crowd having a good time in
the dining room.
But Harry was uneasy, although as the days passed uneventfully he became more confident that his
combination of spells would do the trick and prevent more damage. Perhaps, he thought, he was nervous
because the attackers were still out there, probably watching him, maybe waiting for the right moment
when his guard was down. But as he thought about it, he found himself hoping that they would come out
into the open and reveal themselves. If they did, if it came to a duel, it would be the end of whoever was
causing his problems.
There was an unpleasant event on Tuesday evening when Turquoise Southeby came to dinner with one
of the young wizards that Harry had see her with at The Three Broomsticks a few weeks ago. Harry
sipped Potio Vitae and watched them from the bar, but Turquoise started casting blatantly suggestive
glances at him whenever her companion wasnt looking and Harry left the dining room and told
Kreacher to let him know when she was gone.
That bit of overt unpleasantness contributed to Harrys disgruntlement he didnt like being chased from
his own dining room by a tart who wouldnt leave him alone but something more serious was making
him irritable and uneasy: he harbored a sour feeling about the Quidditch tryouts. He reluctantly accepted
Ginnys desire to have him stay away, but it nettled him. He had tried to hide that feeling from her, but
he knew that she sensed it. Even though it meant only a single weekend afternoon stolen from Ginny, his
loneliness during the week made him long for her company even more, along with the comfort not to
mention the pleasure that it brought. He knew that he was being unreasonable, but he couldnt help his
feelings.
He only used the Bouquedelle once, on Tuesday night. He didnt sleep well afterward; he kept waking up
from dreams about Ginny and reaching for her in the bed. He was tempted to use it again the following
night, but realized that if he used it out of desperation it would drive him crazy. He had to husband the
magic, not because he would use it up, but because of its effect on him. He knew that there would be
times when he would need it to strengthen himself when Ginny was really absent or far away; he didnt
want it to become an addiction to feed his moments of weakness.
The Marauders Map was different; it was a game that they both enjoyed. Once, she put her trainers on
her hands and walked around her room on both her hands and feet while her roommates gawked in
disbelief. She finally collapsed on the floor in hysterical laughter. That happened on Tuesday night, and
on Wednesday morning she sent Harry a note asking if he had noticed anything different. He wrote back
that he had been startled to see two dots on the map with her name next to them; he didnt know what to
make of it, and was glad to learn that he was not going nutters. That night she put the shoes on her hands
again and asked Christina to pick up her legs and move her around the room like a wheelbarrow. This
time Harry wrote that the map showed her dot moving around with Christinas. Ginny concluded from all
this that the maps magic worked by detecting something that was touching the floor inside the castle,
and she proposed, in her next owl, that she and Harry coauthor a learned paper about it for The Annals
and Proceedings of the Wizengamot. Since the map was supposed to be a secret, Harry declined.
He enjoyed this playfulness, but it also drove home that Ginny was there, and he was here, and he was
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He enjoyed this playfulness, but it also drove home that Ginny was there, and he was here, and he was
alone.
On Thursday morning Ginny owled him saying that she wanted him to meet her at the castle after her
last class on Friday and walk back to Hogsmeade with her. Harrys spirits rose with this request, but he
still couldnt shake the mood of unhappiness that dogged him and sometimes made him react testily to
Stan or Winky. He thought hard, but couldnt figure it out. It wasnt Turquoise he was pretty sure that
she would leave him alone whenever Ginny was around, now that Ginny had confronted her; and it
wasnt the inn business was picking up and he now felt very comfortable about the double spells that
protected the building.
He needed someone to talk to, someone to answer the question which he couldnt seem to find the
answer to: why did he have these depressing feelings when everything he had ever wanted was now his?
He was free from the pain in his scar and the presence of Riddle in his mind, free from the burden of the
Prophecy. He had the girl of his dreams who loved him and willingly shared his bed. He had good
friends who would do anything for him, and he was surrounded at the inn and in Hogsmeade by grateful
people and creatures.
These thoughts went through Harrys mind on Thursday as he stood in front of the fireplace in the flat,
holding Ginnys message about Friday afternoon. He had just sent Bailey back with an enthusiastic
reply, when his arm knocked over the photograph of his parents that stood on the mantel. He picked it up
and thought for a moment as he looked at their faces; then he put it back and went into the bedroom, got
out another piece of parchment and a quill, and sent McPherson off to Gringotts. By the middle of the
afternoon, Bill had sent back an answer, telling Harry to meet him at Shell Cottage.
An hour later Harry Apparated into the back yard of the little house by the sea. He spent a few minutes
standing at Dobbys grave, then went around front and looked out over the ocean, feeling the salt breeze
in his face and remembering the walks on the beach that he and Ginny used to take. He turned when
Fleur opened the door; she gave Harry a dazzling smile that immediately dispelled his lingering bad
mood.
Arry! Bill sent a message zat you would be ere! Ow good to see you. Is everyting okay?
Hi, Fleur, he smiled back. Everythings fine. I just wanted to talk to Bill about a few things.
She moved aside to let him in. I am so glad you tought of zat, to talk to Bill. E loves you and Ginny
so much. Im sorry zat zere are problems.
Harry suddenly felt embarrassed, and wondered how Fleur knew why he wanted to talk to Bill. Its
nothing, really. We had some good talks last summer, so...
Fleur smiled again, but said nothing and led him into the kitchen. She put out a teapot, cups, and
croissants, and they sat at the small table and talked about last Saturdays party and the news that Molly
Weasley was working parttime at St. Mungos as Hestia Derwents assistant. Fleur didnt mention
Harrys problem, and after an hour Harry realized that he was laughing and feeling better than he had
all week, aside from the moments when he was reading Ginnys letters.
Bill came home in the late afternoon; he kissed Fleur and greeted Harry. He went upstairs and came
back down wearing jeans and a tee shirt, and he and Harry sat down in the parlor.
So whats up? Bill asked. Are you and Ginny okay? Are there still problems at the inn? I heard all
about the Dark Mark and the chimney from George, but Ron told me that you had repaired it.
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about the Dark Mark and the chimney from George, but Ron told me that you had repaired it.
Yeah, its fixed, Harry replied. I also learned a new protective spell, and I think itll be safe, at least
for a while.
Thats good. So why did you want to see me?
Harry looked down at his hands fidgeting in his lap. He gripped the arms of his chair and took a breath.
Sometimes I think Im going crazy, he said as he looked into the cold fireplace.
What makes you think that? Bill said in a quiet voice.
I dont know. Its just that, if I have everything I always wanted, then why am I miserable whenever
Im alone. My scar never hurts, Im not looking over my shoulder for Riddles Killing Curse, I have
Ginny... He looked quickly at Bill, who just smiled and nodded. Sometimes.... Sometimes when I
think about Ginny, I feel like... like shes a goddess and all I want to do is make her happy. She makes
me so happy. Again he glanced at Bill. But when were not together, and Im doing stuff at the inn or
just sitting around up in my flat, Im angry, sometimes Im afraid. I cant figure it out.
What are you afraid of?
I dont know! Harry hit the arm of his chair with his fist and glared at the fireplace. Then he looked at
Bill. Can you be in love with someone, but your feelings about them change all the time? He looked
back into the fireplace. There are times when I dont feel like shes a goddess, but I dont stop loving
her. Maybe its loving her in a different way. I dont know. His fingers were twisting in his lap again,
and he kept his gaze on the fireplace.
Bill shifted in his chair. I think thats exactly what it is, he said. Love changes. I dont mean that it
goes away, but the more you get to know someone, the more ways there are to love them. Ginnys like
Fleur in many ways. He chuckled. Thats why she looks so beautiful when she wears that necklace.
Fleur told me before we gave it to her that it would have that effect. But you have to be careful around a
woman like that, Harry. Ginny is so strong, and when she decides what she wants, there isnt much that
can stop her. Fleurs like that, too. He chuckled again.
I can see that, about Ginny, I mean. In a way it makes me love her even more. Being with her is like a
ride on a broomstick.
Bill laughed. Thats the best way Ive heard anyone describe her. But, he turned sober, youve also
got to see your life with her from her point of view. Why does she love you? I dont mean, what are the
specific reasons. What I mean is that she loves you because of who and what you are, for you, yourself.
What I think is happening has more to do with you than anything else. Your feelings about something
have changed, and youre afraid that you and Ginny will stop loving each other because of that. If you
two are at all like me and Fleur, then that will never happen. Its just like you said, youll find new and
different reasons to love her.
Harry put his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair; he felt restless, unable to hold still. I
dont know. When we were at the Burrow during the summer, I only wanted to be with her, no matter
what. Now, I still want to be with her, but when Im not, I feel like Im not really doing anything. I feel
useless. Shes got interesting classes, friends with her all the time, Quidditch... All Ive got is that
damned
He stopped and frowned at Bill. Ive got that inn, he finished, and his hands gripped the chair again.
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He stopped and frowned at Bill. Ive got that inn, he finished, and his hands gripped the chair again.
Bill looked at him sympathetically. Thats what has changed. We talked about it, as I recall. What
youve got to do is figure out what it is you want. I said before that I wondered if running an inn is the
right thing for you. And so have lots of other people.
I know, Harry said, I had lunch with Kingsley a few days ago.
And I can imagine what he told you.
Actually, it was Saliyah Ushujaa who talked.
Whoever. But its your decision, you bought the inn, you decided to live there so you could be near
Ginny. Listen, he said before Harry could speak, I know exactly why you did that. Can you imagine
what its like to have a Veela say that she loves you? Its almost impossible to resist. He smiled and got
a dreamy look in his eyes. Not that I tried very hard.
Harry didnt smile; he put his hands behind his head again and sighed. I understand what youre saying,
but if I didnt live in Hogsmeade, where would I go? Grimmauld Place? That would be like living in a
mausoleum. And I do want to be near... near Ginny. He dropped his hands and fidgeted with them
again.
Well, youll have to work that one out. Just remember two things. One, you have a lot of friends who
would do anything to help you. And two, you have a girlfriend who will do the same. But think about it,
would you want her to do something that was not true to herself? I have a feeling that Ginny knows
better than most people that the most important thing is to be herself.
Harry remembered what Ginny had said to him after Dumbledores funeral, when he had told her that
they couldnt be together. He smiled. That rings a bell.
And you have to want the same thing for yourself, you have to be true to yourself. Youll never be
happy otherwise, even if youre with Ginny. Youre with Harry Potter more than youre with her.
Harry was silent for several moments, then he glanced at the clock on the mantel. I guess I should be
going. I dont want to leave Stan alone for the dinner hour. Thanks, Bill, I think I feel better.
Bill looked a little surprised at the sudden end of the conversation, but then he smiled. Any time you
want to talk, Harry, just owl me. And if you and Ginny want to spend some time here again, youre
always welcome.
As they got up, Fleur came out of the kitchen. So ow did ze boys chat go? she grinned. You should
be careful of Bills advice, Arry. Remember, e works in a bank, for goblins, no less. Ow can you trust
zat?
Bill laughed. We were talking about love Fleur smiled at Harrys blush so anything I said I
learned from you.
Ahh, Fleurs eyebrows rose, and Harry wondered if he had ever seen a womans face look so fetching.
In zat case, I know you gave im good advice, because you ave become very good at love yourself.
She kissed Bill, then took Harrys hand. I will tell you one ting. Ginny loves you more zan her own
life, and you love er ze same way. And zat is ow it should be, because zen you will grow old togezer
and die appy.
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and die appy.


Without knowing what he was doing, Harry hugged Fleur, then quickly let go as she laughed. Goodbye,
Arry. You and Ginny must come for dinner. I will send you an invitation, okay?
Harry returned to Hogsmeade just as Kreacher and Stan were starting to serve dinner. He felt better for
having talked to Bill, but he wasnt sure that he had gotten any answers that would make things better.
He was still stuck alone in the inn after closing time, and he still felt that there were parts of Ginnys life
that he was excluded from. He even couldnt help thinking that someone as pathetic as Turquoise
Southeby could get a date and not be alone just by winking at a wizard in the street.
Harry also felt a little embarrassed for ending the conversation so abruptly. Bill had noticed, but Bill had
said something that made him very uncomfortable, something about being himself. People were pushing
him to sign up for the Auror training program, but that was exactly what he did not want. He had done
his part; let someone else do it for a while. It had made him angry, and he did not want Bill to see that,
so he had decided to end the chat before Bill could mention the training program; hopefully Bill would
forget about it.
As he served customers, his thoughts went to what Fleur had said about him and Ginny. He knew that it
was true he would stand in front of a Killing Curse to save Ginny but he still wondered how he was
going to get through the next nine months before they would be wholly together again, like they were
during the summer. He wondered about his fear, his anger, his frustration, his dissatisfaction. How bad
would they get? Only one thing was keeping it all at bay, and she was not here.
That evening he sent a packet of chocolates to Ginny, but no words except Love, which he wrote on
the red ribbon that he tied it up with. She sent the ribbon back, tied around a few strands of her hair, and
Harrys resistance crumbled. He got into bed with the locket of hair and the Marauders Map, put the
Bouquedelle to his lips, leaned back, closed his eyes, and let his mind go where it would. After a few
minutes he looked at the map and saw Ginnys dot in bed. He smiled; her theory was wrong: her feet
were not touching the floor, yet the map knew where she was.
Harry was in the entrance hall at fourthirty the next afternoon. He stood at the foot of the marble
staircase and peered up each time someone came down. For some reason he was nervous, as if he was
going out with Ginny for the first time again. When she did appear, carrying her satchel and a book bag,
his pulse quickened and he ran up the stairs and took the bags from her.
Hi, he said as she stood on the steps smiling at him,you look beautiful.
Well, thanks, so do you.
They walked out with Ginny holding Harrys arm. They were both silent as they walked down the drive
and into Hogsmeade. Ginnys grip on his arm tightened and her breathing became quicker when the inn
came in sight. They climbed the stairs with Harrys heart pounding, and when they entered the flat Harry
dropped her bags and they stared at each other. Suddenly they were down on the floor and Harry was
pulling off her clothes.
Harry, she laughed, wait! The bed. Your floors hard.
Later they lay close together inside the warm cosiness of the fourposter with the covers pushed back.
Ginnys eyes were closed but her finger was making circles on Harrys chest; his arm was around her
back, holding her against his side. This is the best, she said in a dreamy voice. If this was the only
place in the world, I could be happy here.
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place in the world, I could be happy here.


I am happy here, Harry kissed her forehead. Are you sure you are?
Ginny opened her eyes and blinked. Yes. Why do you ask?
Oh, I dont know. You have a lot of other things going on.
She sat up on her elbow and looked at him; her hair hung down on his face and he smiled and blew a
strand out of his mouth. His hand caressed her breasts. Other things? Ginny said, puzzled. What do
you mean? Quidditch?
Well, yeah, but thats fine. I just want you to be happy here. This isnt my place, its our place.
I know that, and thats why I love it, because you wanted it to be ours, and you made it ours. She
shook her head so that her hair swished back and forth across his face, and Harry giggled. She kissed
him and he started to pull her over, but she lifted her head again. Of all the things I have going on this
is the most important. I would give up everything if I had to, but not this.
Harry pulled her down and they kissed; his arms were around her back and he held her tightly. I dont
want you to give up anything, he whispered into her ear. I love you. Then Ginny was on top of him
and their bodies were connected from their mouths down to their feet and they were both in heaven.
For dinner in the parlor that evening there was a juicy, thicksliced London broil with baked potatoes
and a string beanandalmond casserole, lit by Veela candlelight. Harry was thirsty, and drank two
bottles of Potio Vitae, while Ginny stuck with butterbeer. They went down to the dining room afterward
and were greeted by Tony and other villagers. Harry and Ginny sat with a group of wizards and witches
near the bar, and they passed the evening with good conversation and Winkys excellent desserts.
The Hogwarts memorial service started at ten oclock the next morning. Harry and Ginny walked to the
castle Harry wearing his academic robes. The Hogwarts Express had just come in carrying magical
people who wanted to travel with friends and family rather than arrive via magic, and Muggles who
were joining their magical children for the service. Some people were climbing into the horseless
carriages, and others were walking up to the castle. Harry stopped when he saw Andromeda Tonks
pushing Teddy along in a stroller. He and Ginny went over to them, and Andromeda looked around
when he called her.
Harry! she smiled broadly. And Ginny! Youre both looking very well. How is everything?
Okay, Harry replied, smiling down at Teddy; the infant was sleeping with a pacifier in his mouth.
Ginny squatted down and adjusted his blanket.
Hes beautiful! Isnt he? she smiled at Harry. How are you doing? she asked Andromeda.
Were doing fine. This is the first time weve traveled anyplace. Hes still too little to Portkey or Floo. I
came with your parents, but I think theyve gone on ahead. I had to change him, she laughed.
Harry offered to push the stroller, and they walked up the lane together. Harry kept glancing at his
godson, telling himself that he should visit them sometime. But Andromeda didnt mention it, and when
they arrived at the castle and Harry carried the stroller up the stairs, Andromeda went ahead into the
Great Hall while Harry and Ginny went upstairs to the common room. Harry waited while Ginny
changed into her robes, and then they returned to the Great Hall.
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changed into her robes, and then they returned to the Great Hall.
The tables were gone and rows of chairs faced the platform on which the staff table usually stood; that
table was gone, too, but the chairs were still there. A large black curtain hung on the wall behind the
platform. Harry and Ginny found seats next to Ron and Hermione, near Molly and Arthur. They saw all
of their friends: Neville was sitting with Keesha next to Luna and Dean; Bill, Fleur, George and Percy
were sitting together with Lee Jordan; every member of Dumbledores Army was there, most of them
together near the front.
A shadow passed over a window, and they saw Grawp peering inside. There was a stir in the back and
everyone turned at the clopping of hooves; a dozen centaurs came in and stood along the side of the
room. Officials of the Ministry and the Wizengamot sat in their formal robes, looking properly somber.
Several ghosts floated overhead; Ginny looked around in a moment of panic, but thankfully Peeves was
nowhere in sight. Tony Trostle and his entire crew were there, and Ginny did a doubletake when she
saw Elizabeth Derbys parents walk in. She scanned the Hall but did not see her uncles.
She turned to Harry, but a door opening along the side wall caught her eye; Hagrid was gesturing. She
nudged Harry. I think he wants you, she said quietly.
I was afraid of that, Harry muttered. He shook his head at Hagrid, who nodded, pointed at Harry, then
jerked his thumb backward. Harry sighed and got up. Ill see you later, he said in resignation. Ginny
squeezed his hand, and Harry excused himself down the row and walked over to Hagrid.
Mornin, Harry, he said as he pulled Harry through the door and closed it behind them. Professor
McGonagall and the Minister was wonderin if yeh wouldnt mind sittin up on the platform with the
staff. They don want yeh tsay anything, but they figure that yeh should be up there, considerin that it
was you that killed YouKnow I mean, killed Riddle an all. Yeh don mind, do yeh? He peered
down at Harry.
Harry sighed. I really would rather not, but I know you wont let me go, so... what do I do?
There, Hagrid grinned and staggered Harry with a pat on the back. I told em that yehd be happy t
do it. Come on, theyre all waitin back here.
He led Harry through a short corridor to a crowded room; all of the teachers were there, plus Argus Filch
in his best motheaten, ancient suit, together with a halfdozen people from the Ministry. As Harry
stood there, he heard a bullfrog voice, and, to his utter astonishment and delight, he saw Kreacher talking
to Professor Flitwick; the locket of Regulus Black was hanging from his neck. Harry started to walk
toward the elf, but Kingsley Shacklebolt intercepted him.
How are you, Harry, he looked grim, and took Harrys arm and pulled him into a corner; Saliyah
Ushujaa followed and stood between them and the rest of the room. We dont have time to talk a lot,
he said in a low voice, not letting go of Harrys arm, but I just wanted you to know that we have
definite word that eight of the Death Eaters who escaped are back in England. Umbridge is still abroad,
though. She was spotted in France just yesterday, and were tailing her. She probably knows that, so we
dont expect her to try to return. But we are aware of the problems youve had, Harry, and we dont
want you to think that were ignoring them.
Harry glanced at Morequest Pester talking to Professor Slughorn. What about him? Harry said tightly.
Isnt he supposed to be keeping his eye on things?
Dont worry about Professor Pester, Shacklebolt said. There was a small edge to his voice, but then it
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Dont worry about Professor Pester, Shacklebolt said. There was a small edge to his voice, but then it
softened. Just keep your own eyes open, Harry, and keep up those spells you put on your inn. Theyre
excellent ones, and, he smiled, an indication of your talents.
He let Harrys arm go. Sorry about being pushy like that, he said cheerfully. Someone in my position
is always supposed to have an agenda. You know what mine is as far as you are concerned. He laughed
in his booming voice, but suddenly stopped and looked sheepishly at Minerva McGonagall who was
frowning at him.
In a few minutes the Headmistress led the assembled teachers and officials into the Great Hall. Harry sat
between Hagrid and Professor Sprout, glad to be in the formers shadow. He looked out over the Hall,
and smiled when Ginny blew him a kiss. He was also glad to see that two dozen houseelves had come
up from the kitchen and were standing in a group along the wall.
There were speeches from Shacklebolt, McGonagall, Firenze, Slughorn, and a short one from Kreacher,
who kept his hand on the locket while he spoke. There were several moments of silence, the last one
accompanied by the tolling of the school bell fiftytwo times, once for each person killed during the
battle. When the final stroke sounded, the black curtain behind the platform rose to reveal a large, dark
gray memorial tablet, about fifteen feet square, attached to the back wall, holding the names in brass
letters of the dead. Next to each name was their year of birth and the year of their death: 1998. Above it
was the seal of Hogwarts, and at each corner of the tablet was the coat of arms of one of the founders.
Harry rejoined Ginny when the ceremony was over; she was standing with Ron and Hermione, and they
or at least Ginny and Ron were talking about Quidditch. They stopped when Harry arrived, and he
said, quietly, I found out something I need to tell you. Lets go outside. They made their way into the
entrance hall, exchanging greetings with others along the way, and walked outside and a few yards down
the lawn. No one else was near, and Harry told them what Kingsley had said.
So why didnt they arrest them as soon as they came back? Ginny asked. Unless they still dont know
where they are?
Ron shook his head. They probably dont. From what Ive heard, Kingsley is swamped because hes
running the Ministry and the Law Enforcement office. Hes trying to find someone to take it from him,
but, in case you hadnt noticed, all the best candidates are dead Moody, Tonks, Scrimgeour, Amelia
Bones. He wants to keep Saliyah as Head Auror to make sure that office stays up to snuff.
So things are slipping out of control, Hermione frowned.
I think thats whats happening, Ron agreed. If it comes down to it, I suppose hell promote Saliyah,
but then hed have to fill her job.
Merlin, you dont think hed give it to Pester, do you? Ginny asked in disbelief.
Everyone would resign if he did that. Why do you think he sent the bloke up here?
Wait a minute, Harry said, are you telling us that he sent Pester up here just to get rid of him?
No, no, Ron waved his hand. McGonagall asked for help, and Kingsley saw a chance to keep the
peace in the Auror Office and satisfy her at the same time. He grinned. Shacklebolts no slouch as a
politician. He survived both Fudge and Scrimgeour even though both of them suspected that he was in
the Order. Hes pretty slick. I really like him.
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So everyone in the Ministry hates Pester, too, Ginny said. Id feel sorry for him if I didnt feel sorrier
for myself for having to take his class.
Okay, Harry frowned, but what about the Death Eaters. If no one knows where they are, then they
could be in Hogsmeade just as easily as anywhere else.
Thats what I think, said Hermione. Harry, you need to be careful. Theyre powerless to do any real
damage, except for an act of revenge. Youve said that you think someones out to make your life
miserable. I think thats whats happening.
Revenge? Ginny looked at Harry in alarm, but Harry shrugged.
Look, Ive protected the inn as best I can, and Im not going to stop doing what I want, after everything
I went through last year. He looked at Ginny. And what I want is to be here.
I want you to be here, too, Ginny said
I have another question, Ron put in. What about the toad?
That is a good question, Hermione said. It almost sounds like shes directing the whole thing from
France while the others come back to do the dirty work.
As far as Im concerned, said Harry, the only questions are, what is the dirty work, whos doing it,
and what will their next move be?
After a moment while they all considered this, Hermione spoke.I dont think anyone can say, Harry. If
they cant directly attack the inn itself, then it could be anything.
Youre right, he answered. And since theres nothing to be done, lets go eat.
They trouped back into the Great Hall. The four tables had been set up again and were becoming
crowded as students, parents, and other visitors sat down for lunch. Ginny saw Emma and Clair sitting
between two Muggles, obviously their parents. The twins both waved, then spoke to the Muggles who
looked down the table and nodded to Ginny. They continued to look toward her, but after a moment
Ginny realized that they were staring at Ron. He already had five empty serving dishes in front of him,
and was reaching across Hermione for another; his prodigious appetite must be a wonder even in the
Muggle world.
The four finished and left the Great Hall. Ginny had begun to feel nervous about both the tryouts and
Harrys state of mind; he hadnt said anything about going back to Hogsmeade, and he seemed quiet. She
told herself that his mood could have been caused by his conversation with Shacklebolt, but just to be
certain, she pulled him aside while they were standing inside the great oak doors, and asked him how he
was doing.
Im fine, he assured her. Ill go help Stan get ready for the dinner crowd. Do you still want to go into
London tonight?
Yes, I do. Have you mentioned it to Ron yet?
Yeah, and he said they found a great Muggle restaurant that they want to take us to. When do you think
youll be done with the tryouts?
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youll be done with the tryouts?


Ill be back by five. Then she smiled. Ill be back home by five.
Good, he kissed her. Ill be waiting. He waved at Ron and Hermione as he passed them and went
quickly out the doors and down the drive.
Ron watched him, then turned to Ginny. Wheres he going? Doesnt he want to see the tryouts?
Ginny hesitated. Um... no. He has things to do at the inn. I told him Id be back by five.
Hermione looked at her questioningly. Harry doesnt want to watch Quidditch? That doesnt sound like
him.
Well, thats what he wants to do, Ginny said. I have to go change and get my broom. What are you
going to do? She looked at both Ron and Hermione.
I thought wed watch the tryouts, said Ron. You never said anything about closing them.
Ginny didnt like this situation. She didnt want to have another argument about the tryouts, this time
with Ron, but Harry would be sure to find out if Ron was there. At the same time, she saw no reason to
keep Ron out; she wouldnt be intimidated by Rons presence like she would Harrys. The only reason
for barring Ron was because Harry might be upset.
They arent closed, she replied. Just keep your opinions to yourself, got it?
Got it, Ron laughed. I dont want to end upon the same list as Turquoise.
Im sure you dont. Ill see you down there. Ginny didnt smile or laugh, but turned and walked away.
Hermione watched her go up the stairs.
That was a little odd, she said to Ron. I think they had a disagreement about something.
About what? Harrys not the captain any more. He knows that.
Ginny may be insecure about it, though. She seemed a little defensive.
Nah, thats impossible. Shes never been defensive about anything in her life.
Hermione laughed. Okay, big brother, if you say so. Lets go watch the tryouts. Maybe Ill try to
confund someone again.
Oho! It finally comes out. You had the hots for me even then.
In your dreams, Weasley, Hermione laughed again; she took his arm and they walked down to the
Quidditch pitch.
Half of the Gryffindor students were in the stands when Ginny walked out onto the pitch, and the other
half were gathered in a crowd near the center circle with their broomsticks. She stood in front of them
and looked them over.
The first ones she noticed were Emma and Claire; they were holding fifteenyear old Comet models
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The first ones she noticed were Emma and Claire; they were holding fifteenyear old Comet models
that they must have dug up from a forgotten broom cupboard somewhere. Ginny wondered if they had
even had any flying lessons yet. Two other firstyears also grinned back at her. Dennis Creevey was
brighteyed and hyper, bouncing on the balls of his feet, anxious to begin. The rest, except for the
veterans, stood in a cluster with uncertain looks, and Ginny hoped fervently that at least a handful of
them could challenge the likes of Ritchie Cootes and Jack Sloper.
All right! she said in a loud voice, and deliberately glared at them. We have work to do. First, I want
everyone to shut up! She glowered at Jimmy Peakes who was whispering to his fifthyear girlfriend,
Cindy Snow; he stopped talking and looked at Ginny.
Sorry, he said. Go ahead.
Thank you, Jimmy, Ginny growled, I appreciate having your permission. Now listen, everyone, she
looked around the group, this team has lost a lot of talent over the past two years. Last year was a waste
for the whole school, so every House team has problems this year. Gryffindor was the best team in the
school when She stopped; she hadnt meant to say that Harry had made it the best team, even though
it was true. They needed to move past him, past having an unstoppable Seeker.
We were the best for six years, she continued, but itll be a challenge to keep it up. This is my last
year, and I really want to keep the Quidditch Cup in Professor McGonagalls office.
People stirred and shifted. Emma and Claire smiled at her, and Denniss bouncing became so vigorous
that Demelza Robins had to put her hand on his shoulder to keep him in place.
Ginny raised her Firebolt over her head. Firstyears, I want you to mount your brooms and circle the
pitch. Everyone else, sit.
To Ginnys surprise, the twins werent bad. They wobbled and had trouble turning so that they tended to
bump into each other and the other firstyears, Tommy Sobolow and Brian Hancock, but they managed
to stay in the air for a complete if slow circuit of the stadium. Ginny thought that there was a future
for them on the team, but not this year. She thanked them and they left the pitch in good humor, and
joined the rest of the House in the stands.
The tryouts for the Beaters went well. Jimmy and Will Reynolds a sixthyear beat out Ritchie, Jack
and Andrew Kirke, the only Beaters who also had experience; a halfdozen rookies were completely
inept, and Ginny wondered what such a shallow talent pool augured for next years team. But those
worries were swept aside by worse ones when the Chasers took to their brooms against the lone tryout
for Keeper, Dennis Creevey.
Demelza Robins was a better than average Chaser, and she was clearly the best one there. But even the
others had no trouble scoring against Dennis. He knew nothing about playing Keeper, and even though
he was quick, he was never in position, and on the few occasions when he guessed right, the Quaffle
always passed just out of his short reach. The thought briefly occurred to Ginny that she might have to
play Keeper. After she picked Frances Spangler a fourthyear and Meeta Bharathi a sixthyear
as the other Chasers, she called a break and walked over to Ron and Hermione, who were sitting in the
first row of the stands near the announcers box.
We have a problem, Ginny leaned on the railing and looked back at the teammates she had selected;
they and Dennis were sitting on the ground in the middle of the pitch comparing brooms. Did you see
Dennis? The only thing I can say for him is that hes not throwing up like you used to do.
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I could give him some pointers if you want, said Ron. His big problem is that hes always out of
position, and thats something that can be coached. Puking, however, cannot be coached.
Ha, ha, very funny. Ginny felt a tightening in her gut. She wanted to say yes, she knew that she should
say yes, but she knew that it would hurt Harry. She thought for a moment, and again made a quick
decision. I dont think I have a choice. Unless someone else wants it, hes our Keeper, and if he cant
play any better than that, were dead.
No, youre not, said Hermione. Youre the best Seeker in the school. If you catch the Snitch every
time, youll win all your matches.
Not if they score twenty goals against us first, Ginny grunted as she stood up. Hey, Dennis! she
yelled. He looked up and she waved to him. Over here!
I know I can do better, he said when came over, and before Ginny could speak. Its a lot faster than I
thought. I just have to get used to it.
You need to anticipate where the shots going, said Ron. If you
Rons going to coach you, Ginny interrupted, scowling at her brother. You dont have a problem with
that, do you? Dennis shook his head, and Ginny turned to Ron. How often could you come up here?
I can be here almost every weekend. We were more or less expecting to be here, or you and Harry
being down with us on weekends, so I can spend an hour or so at the pitch without changing our plans
much.
And if I have something that I need to do, Hermione added, I can just join you all later.
Ginny looked at Dennis. So, if thats all right with you, well leave it at that. Youre the Keeper, but you
have to be available for Ron when its convenient for him. Okay?
Dennis nodded enthusiastically. Okay! Thanks! he pumped Ginnys hand, and then Rons, and ran off
the pitch waving his broom over his head.
Ginny put her hand on Rons, which was resting on the railing. Thanks, Ron, I appreciate this.
Hermione looked at her closely, but didnt say anything, and Ginny walked back out to the team. They
scrambled to their feet.
Dennis is Keeper, she said; they glanced at each other and Jimmy Peakes scowled. Ginny ignored that.
We dont have a choice, unless one of you wants to try out for it. And my brother Ron will coach him.
They all looked a little relieved even Jimmy. Ill let you know about the first practice, Ginny said,
then she smiled. I think we have a pretty solid team, especially if Dennis improves.
She walked with Ron and Hermione back to Hogsmeade, silently hoping that Harry would understand
why she had asked Ron to help. The closer they got to the inn, the more doubts she had about the
wisdom of her decision. She could have asked for more people to try out for Keeper; she could have
asked one of the players who had made the team to switch; she could have postponed the tryout for
Keeper. But she had wanted to get it over with and push ahead, since the team would need as much
work as it could get. So she had let herself be hurried along by Jimmy Peakes, and now she was afraid
that, in her haste, she had made a bad decision. She was angry at herself for that, but it was now too late
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that, in her haste, she had made a bad decision. She was angry at herself for that, but it was now too late
to change it.
Harry was sitting at the bar. Ron joined him, and before Ginny could say anything, Ron picked up a
butterbeer and spoke. Well, mate, just in case I flunk out of Auror school, Ive started my second
career. You are looking at Gryffindors Keeper coach.
Harrys eyebrows shot up. Keeper coach? What do they need a Keeper coach for? He looked at Ginny,
then back at Ron.
Harry, Ginny pushed between him and Ron, we need to talk. Lets go upstairs.
Harry got off his stool without a word and walked out of the dining room. Ginny followed, but not
before seeing Hermione put her hand over Rons mouth and Ron sputter in surprise.
Upstairs, Harry did not look at Ginny, but walked to the picture window. The shadows of clouds moved
across the hills in the distance. Ginny came and stood next to him. Its a nice view, Harry said.
Ginny took his arm and leaned her head against his shoulder. Harry, Im sorry. I probably did the wrong
thing. Ron wanted to come to the tryout, and, well... She chuckled. Its not that hard for me to tell him
to shut up if I have to, so I didnt see any reason to say no. And then Dennis was dreadful, and Ron
offered to coach him, and I said yes. Thats what happened.
Harry nodded without looking at her. I understand. He turned to her. I really do, Gin, and its okay.
Its just that... He turned back to the view out the window. Oh, for Gods sake, there she is again.
Ginny looked out and saw Turquoise sauntering across the field toward the High Street; she looked, from
a distance, like she was dressed for a big night in the village, wearing another short, tight dress with a
lowcut bodice. Her long, blond hair fell in waves around her shoulders. If shes so bad off, where
does she get all those clothes? Ginny said. That stuff doesnt look cheap, even if she does.
The hell with her. Harry turned to Ginny. Gin, I feel like Im stuck in this place. I dont like being
alone here. I love being with you, I want to be with you. He looked out the window again, but Ginny
turned him so that he faced her, and she saw the frustration in his eyes. She put her hand on his cheek.
Love, Im sorry. I want us to be together all the time, too, not like this. All week I thought about being
here with you. She took his face in her hands. I love you. Youre the most important thing in my life.
He looked down at the floor. I dread Sunday night..
Harry, I cant stay. Ill get detention, and if I do it again, they might take the team away from me.
I know. He took her and gently rubbed her back. Its my problem. Im sorry for ruining your
weekend and your tryouts.
You didnt ruin anything! She pushed away and looked at him fiercely. Dont say that! The tryouts
went okay, and well be together tonight and all of tomorrow. She smiled. I only have a little
homework, so we can be lazy all day.
Mmm, that sounds nice, he pulled her back and did things with his hands as he kissed her.
Harry, she gave a little moan, Ron and Hermione are waiting for us.
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Harry, she gave a little moan, Ron and Hermione are waiting for us.
Thats right.
They were back downstairs in half an hour. Hermione observed them as they sat down at the table with
her and Ron. All set for an evening on the town?
Im up for anything, said Harry, leaning back and putting his arm on the back of Ginnys chair. She
turned a slight shade of pink and closed her mouth to suppress a giggle.
Back to index

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Chapter 22: The Empty Lane


Author's Notes: Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!
Saturday night in town with Ron and Hermione was a blur of spicy Indian food, Londons night lights,
loud Muggle music in a flashy club, and hairraising rides in taxicabs driven by strange Muggles from
all over the world. Harry and Ginny returned to the inn, had a latenight snack in the kitchen, and dove
into bed, where they remained until the middle of Sunday afternoon, making love, sleeping, talking,
eating, and just lying together, savoring each other. Ginny got up at three oclock and worked on a
Potions parchment, while Harry went downstairs to see how things were going and help Stan restock
the bar from the storeroom. A new shipment of drinks had come in on Saturday, and Harry was annoyed
when he discovered that some of the Potio Vitae and butterbeer bottles were a different size than the
others; they wouldnt fit into the storage racks, so he had to keep them separate.
He and Ginny ate a light supper, and at eightthirty they walked back to Hogwarts. Argus Filch was
standing at the front door with Mrs. Norris at his feet and his pocket watch in his hand. He glared at
them, then his jaw and the pocket watch both hit the floor as Harry and Ginny embraced in the middle of
the entrance hall; the snog broke up only when Keesha and Neville walked through the doors just before
nine.
Thanks for waiting up for us, Mr. Filch, Keesha waved at the bemused caretaker. Sup, Ginny, hey,
Harry.
We were visiting Keeshas family in Birmingham, Neville said. Boy, can her mum cook! Harry, did I
tell you that I was accepted at the College of Herbology in Lancaster? Im starting next week, and Ill be
renting a flat a block away from campus. My parents have a pension coming, but Gran said I could use
some of it to pay the rent.
And Ill be visiting Lancaster a lot, Keesha smiled. Luna needs a boyfriend, otherwise shell be on
her own over weekends.
Ginny giggled. That would be great, but its not too likely, unfortunately.
Yeah, thats a shame, said Neville. Shes a really interesting girl, but shes different.
At that moment Filch snapped his watch shut and the castle clock struck nine. A double snog followed,
until finally Filch ostentatiously opened the doors and cleared his throat. Harry and Neville said goodbye
to their ladies and left.
Neville hummed a tuneless song as he and Harry walked down the drive. Harry, he finally said,
youll never guess who was at Keeshas house. Kingsley Shacklebolt, hes her uncle, would you believe
it? He was really interesting to talk to.
He was there? Harry had been preoccupied with thoughts of returning to an empty flat and an empty
bed; he hadnt really been listening, but now he paid attention.
Yeah, I thanked him for the pension theyre giving to my parents, and he actually thanked me! Telling
me to kill that snake was brilliant, Harry. It got me Keesha and it got me a handshake from the Minister
of Magic. Neville laughed.
You deserve both, Harry said. It took some guts to do what you did.
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You deserve both, Harry said. It took some guts to do what you did.
Yeah. Neville nodded, but, it wasnt anything like what you did.
But it was, Harry stopped and put his hand on Nevilles arm. Riddle was going to kill you just like he
thought he killed me. He let go the arm and they resumed walking; they had passed the castle gates and
were in the lane. You did a great thing, Neville. I couldnt have done what I did if you hadnt killed
Nagini. Harry could almost feel Nevilles blush; as they passed the train station he glanced at him and
saw his red face in the lights.
Mr. Shacklebolt talked about Seamus and Dean, too, Neville continued. And also Ron. Did you know
that Seamus is in the same Auror program? And Dean got a job as an intern at St. Mungos, did you
know that? Isnt it brilliant how all of us in our year are doing really interesting things? I mean, its
really great what youve done to the Hogs Head, it was such a dump.
They were now in Hogsmeade, passing The Three Broomsticks; Neville kept on talking, not noticing the
change in Harrys mood, nor his tightlipped expression.
Have you thought about the Auror program? Neville asked. You would do great in it, Harry. You
taught us so much in Dumbledores Army, and youre so good at so many things.
Harry stopped. Anger and exasperation were rising in him; why was everyone always telling him about
everyone elses brilliant career, and telling him he should do something he didnt want to do? Neville,
dont you have to go home now?
Huh? Neville looked at him blankly. I was going to hang out at your place for a while. Is that all
right?
Fine, just shut up about Ron and Dean and Seamus and yourself, okay?
He left Neville standing openmouthed in the middle of the High Street, but Harry took only a few
steps before the stupidity of what he had said hit him. He had no idea what had made him speak like that.
He turned around with an apology on his tongue, but Neville was not there. Harry stared at the empty
street for several moments, wishing he could take it back, but there was no one to take it back from. He
slowly walked on to the Hogs Head.
He didnt want to talk to anyone, so he went around back and up to the flat. He sat in the love seat in the
dark, holding his head, wondering what had happened, where that cruelty had come from, until there was
a scratch on the window and he saw Bailey with a message in her beak. He let her in and she hopped
onto the perch next to McPherson and bent toward Harry, offering him the parchment. Harry took it and
went back to the love seat. He lit his wand and read Ginnys note.
My darling Harry,
I had a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend. I am already looking forward to next
weekend, when we can spend two whole days together. Keesha and I thought that it would
be fun for the four of us to go someplace. She said theres a beautiful park near her home
where we could have a picnic if the weather is good.
Ill be waiting in bed for you to use the map. Did I tell you that it makes me feel all warm
and then I want you to be doing other things, too? When I see you on Friday Ill tell you
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and then I want you to be doing other things, too? When I see you on Friday Ill tell you
what those things are, but meanwhile, use your imagination.
I will love you forever.
Ginny

Harry crumpled the parchment in his fist and pressed it against his forehead. Now he felt sickened by
what he had done to Neville. He went into the bedroom and threw himself face down on the pillow, and
lay there trying not to think about anything. He gradually became aware that the pillow smelled just like
Ginny, and then he noticed that it was becoming damp from his tears.
He sat up and wiped his face. He went to his dresser and looked at the photograph of Ginny in its gold
frame, the one they had taken on their shopping trip to Diagon Alley. She blew a kiss at him, just as she
had done at the Hogwarts memorial service yesterday, and Harry felt his eyes start to brim over again.
Damn! he said out loud, and put the photo down. He got out a fresh piece of parchment and wrote.
Ginny,
I need to see you tomorrow morning. Something happened when Neville and I left you this
evening, and I really need to talk to you. Its very important. Please.
Love, Harry

He sent it off with Bailey, and as he watched the owl disappear into the night, he felt relief wash over
him. He waited at the window until Bailey returned fifteen minutes later, and he snatched the note from
her beak. She squawked indignantly and hopped away on the window sill; she watched suspiciously as
he read.
Harry,
Are you all right? Ill be in the library at nine.
Love, Ginny

Harry debated whether to answer her question, and decided on the truth.
Ginny,
No, I am not okay. I said something to Neville tonight that I wish I hadnt. I dont know
why I said it, but Im afraid I hurt him. I feel terrible.
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Love, Harry

Bailey took it and flew away. Ginnys answer came in a few minutes.
My darling Harry,
Im sure it will be okay. Please dont worry yourself, Neville is one of your best friends.
And I love you.
Ginny

Harry left it at that and went downstairs. He stayed there until midnight, then locked up the inn after Stan
left and went to bed. He slept poorly, tossing and turning, burying his face in Ginnys pillow, and getting
up several times to stand in front of the picture window, trying to understand why he had become so
angry. All Neville had done was to be enthusiastic about everyones success, including Harrys. The sky
lightened and the sun rose, and Harry had no answers.
Ginny was waiting in the entrance hall when he arrived at the castle and she took his hand. Lets go for
a walk.
How come you werent in the library? Dont you have work to do? Harry said as they descended the
steps to the lawn.
Ginny shook her head. Nothing that cant wait. She steered them toward the lake, and they stopped at a
large spruce and sat on the bed of needles underneath it; they could see Professor Sprout with a sixth
year Herbology class down at the waters edge collecting specimens. Ginny was still holding Harrys
hand, and stroked it gently, waiting for him to speak.
Harry looked into her eyes. We were in the village, and Neville started talking about the boys in our
year. Weve all started I guess you could call it careers. Deans an intern at St. Mungos. Everyones
doing something except me, but Neville talked about the inn, too, how nice it looks now. Then I got
angry, and I told him to shut up.
Harry swallowed and looked at the lake, then at Ginny again. I wanted to apologize, but he had
Disapparated, I guess. He was gone. Harry shook his head. I dont know why I did that, why I got so
angry. Ginny, I felt so bad. Neville wouldnt hurt a fly, and there I was telling him to shut up.
Ginny saw the frustration in Harrys eyes that was there more and more often. He didnt Disapparate,
she said, and Harry blinked in surprise. He went into The Three Broomsticks and borrowed an owl from
Madame Rosmerta. He sent a letter to Keesha, and she showed it to me this morning.
He did? She did?
Ginny nodded and smiled. Neville said that something was bothering you, and that you were upset. He
didnt say anything about what you said. He wanted Keesha to ask me what was wrong.
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didnt say anything about what you said. He wanted Keesha to ask me what was wrong.