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Chapter 14: Chapter 13 - York
The snow lay in piles all around and was still falling, obstructing Harry's view of the stone fortress in front of him. He and Ginny had been staying in various spots around York for the past week and a half. It had taken them almost a week just to find the Lestrange estate, hidden as it was under various enchantments.
The Lestrange estate was thankfully on the smaller side. Most of the ten foot thick stone wall that originally surrounded the whole castle was intact. The large yard showed evidence of the long abandonment. Grasses grew up to waist level, the stone walkway between the outbuildings was broken into sections, and the old wooden stable had long since fallen away, leaving only an outline of the building.
The round keep itself was a totally different story. It was in pristine condition with its thick stone walls and heavy wooden door. The stone steps leading up to the door were solid and gleaming as though they'd been recently polished. The magic radiating off the keep was so intense that it was almost visible.
Harry shivered under his Invisibility Cloak. Breaking into the Ministry of Magic had been good training. Harry and Ginny had been keeping watch on the keep for the past few days. Glancing at his watch, he Apparated away.
Ginny smiled as she stepped onto the Shambles, a picturesque street in the heart of York. It was a narrow cobblestone street lined with shops and pubs. It reminded her of Diagon Alley and home.
One of the things that had surprised her the most about York was the integration of magical and Muggle shops along the street. Unlike London, there was no separate magical section in York. Rather the two were intertwined and coexisted very peacefully.
After checking to ensure her hair was covered, she walked purposefully toward a small nondescript shop sandwiched in between an antique shop on one side and a high fashion boutique on the other. Pushing open the door, she quickly entered. The tiny waiting area was empty and there was no one behind the counter. Ginny wandered up to the counter and looked around. There were five rows of shelves and a door behind the shelves that presumably led to the back room.
"Hello?" Ginny called out.
A young man with auburn hair peered out from the shelves. Ginny felt herself relaxing slightly. She guessed the young man was in his mid to late twenties. He was rather tall – at least over six feet. With his hair and freckles, he reminded Ginny of her brothers.
He approached the counter nervously. "Yes, ma'am. Can I help you?"
"I need a wand," she said firmly.
He cast an appraising look at her. "May I ask why you don't have one? The new Ministry laws are scrutinizing all of our wand sales."
"It was taken from me, not by the Ministry," Ginny explained.
"Are you Muggleborn?" the wand maker asked.
"No," Ginny replied coolly. "If you must know, I am a Pureblood."
When he continued to look at her sceptically, she rolled her eyes and recited a rhyme her mother taught her as a child. "The eagle's intellect held sway, the lion's bravery saved the day when the serpent's treachery almost stole the light and the badger's warmth shone bright."
The wand maker laughed. "That's good. I doubt any Muggleborns would know the Founders Poem."
Holding out his hand, he said, "I'm Samuel McCoy."
Shaking his hand, she said, "I'm Molly James."
"Well, Molly. Let's see if we can find you a wand."
To her delight, it only took four tries to find a new ten-inch rosewood wand with a unicorn hair core. She smiled as golden sparks flew from the end of her wand.
"Wonderful," Samuel said with a smile. "We don't sell as many wands up here. Most people go to London. It is always nice to see one matched so well. That will be eight Galleons."
Handing over the appropriate amount, she left the store with her new wand. Pulling her cloak a bit tighter, Ginny hurried out onto the busy street. Stopping by the deli, she purchased some soup and sandwiches before returning to the rental flat where she and Harry were staying for the week.
As she entered the flat, Ginny smiled as she realized Harry had beaten her back. She could hear him humming as he moved around the flat.
Harry popped his head around the corner. "Hi. I'm just putting a load of clothes on; I'll be out in a minute."
Smiling, Ginny pulled out some plates and put the food out. After a week of changing places every night, Harry had suggested they get a rental flat for a week. The flats were set up for those on holiday, so they came with linens and kitchenware. The first night in the flat was a huge surprise to Ginny. While she had taken Muggle Studies for several years, she had never actually been in a Muggle home. Harry had shown her how to use the appliances, but she really didn't feel comfortable using them.
Joining her at the kitchen table, Harry leaned over and gave her a kiss. "Hey, beautiful. How was your day? Did you get a wand?"
Ginny eagerly pulled out her wand and showed him. "Yes, it was amazing. I never felt so right with my Great-Grandmother's wand. It's rosewood with unicorn hair."
"I still can't believe your parents would let you go to school with a wand that wasn't your own," Harry grumbled.
"Harry, the year I started school I still had four brothers in school and we had to buy all those Lockhart books. My parents didn't have the money for a new wand. My Great-Grandmother's wand worked for me," Ginny explained patiently.
"I would have bought you a wand."
Ginny laughed. "Yes and that would have gone over so well. I liked the wand shop. The wandmaker wasn't quite as creepy as Ollivander. I went with Ron when he got his wand after my first year." She told him about the wand shop while they ate.
"So what is that rhyme?" Harry asked.
Ginny blushed slightly. "It's a rhyme that all Wizarding children are taught when they are young. It is like The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I figured that most Muggleborns wouldn't know the rhyme and it would prove to him that I am a Pureblood." She made a face. "I hate that I even have to think that, but I didn't know what else to do."
Reaching across the table, Harry took her hand. "It's okay. You need to do what you can to survive. Once Tom is defeated, we can work on fixing what is wrong with the Wizarding world."
As they lingered over the treacle tart, Harry told her what he'd discovered at the Lestrange estate. She listened intently. "So we will need to search the keep. Is that what you're saying?"
Harry nodded and Ginny frowned. "Is there a spell for detecting Horcruxes?"
"No, we need to search by hand," Harry explained. "The benefit we have is that we know what we are looking for, so I'm hoping that we can search it rather quickly."
After they finished eating, Ginny cleaned up in the kitchen while Harry finished the laundry. Once they'd finished their chores, the couple sat down in the lounge and Harry pulled out one of their new purchases. Opening the book, he turned to the page he'd marked earlier.
"Read this one, Ginny. It sounds like the one we've been looking for."
Taking the book, Ginny read.
Sponsus ex Amor or the pledge of love is an ancient betrothal vow. In ancient times, this vow was often used in arranged marriages. The strength of the couples' love and magic will determine the outcome. The vow fell out of favour because if the couple is not compatible, their magic will be affected.
If the couple is strongly attracted to each other, but not yet in love, the vow will act as a betrothal pledge. For the couple already in love, the vow acts as a marriage vow. Once the vows have been recited, the couple's magic will surround them.
A black colour indicates the couple are not compatible, a sparkling silver colour indicates a betrothal, and a brilliant gold indicates marriage. This pledge is still honoured today. A couple bound by the pledge are considered either betrothed or married depending upon the results of the bonding. If a betrothal is indicated, a separate marriage ceremony must follow. If a marriage is indicated, no further ceremony is needed as long as the couple are both over the age of fifteen years.
It must be emphasized that this is not recommended due to the possible consequences, if the couple are not compatible. Couples who attempt this rite, but are not compatible will face severe consequences. The couple may lose control of their magic or experience a drop in their magical power. There have been several cases in which the couple lost all magical abilities.
Looking up at Harry, Ginny nodded. "This is perfect. I think this is what we were looking for."
Harry smiled at her response. To Ginny's surprise, he got up off the couch and walked over to the table and picked up a small black box. Coming back to the couch, he knelt by her. "Ginny Weasley, I love you more than I can tell you. I know we are young and I know our future is uncertain, but I don't want that to interfere. I know our betrothal is important in providing you the ability to use magic, but I want our betrothal to mean more than that. Will you marry me?"
Ginny felt tears welling up in her eyes as she watched the love of her life proposing. Throwing her arms around him, she yelled, "Yes!"
She poured all of the passion she was feeling into the kiss. Harry stood without breaking the kiss and pulled her close. He sat on the couch with her on his lap. It was some time later before Harry opened the box and showed her the ring. With a trembling hand, he carefully slid the ring on her finger.
"Harry, this is beautiful," Ginny said as she admired the ring. It had a square cut diamond flanked on either side by emeralds.
Harry smiled as he watched her. "Thank you. I thought it looked like something you would like. So when do you want to do this?" he asked nervously.
Taking a deep breath, Ginny said quietly, "Why don't we do this now?"
"Really?" Harry's wide smile gave an indication of what he was feeling. "That would be great! Do we need to…"
Harry trailed off, unsure of what he wanted to ask. Ginny looked at him inquiringly. "I mean you should have something…beautiful for our betrothal ceremony, not just another night in our rental flat."
Ginny felt her heart melt a little bit. Harry was looking uncertainly at her.
"I have an idea," Ginny said. "Why don't we go to the florist down the street and get some flowers and maybe some candles?"
Harry nodded. "That would be great."
An hour later, the couple re-entered their flat and Ginny sent Harry off to shower and change while she set up the room how she wanted.
Harry stepped out onto the terrace of their flat as he heard Ginny get into the shower. Looking up into the night sky, he searched for Sirius. Since his godfather had died, Harry had taken comfort in looking for the star for which Sirius was named. He wished with all of his heart that he had Sirius here with him tonight. While he knew it was important to protect Ginny, he also wished he could make this betrothal special for her. The book had talked about family and parties. He and Ginny would have none of that.
Turning, Harry caught his breath. Ginny had changed into some type of flowing blue gown with her hair down around her shoulders. She looked amazing.
He tried to speak, but found his throat suddenly too dry. Swallowing, he tried again. "Ginny, you…wow. You are so beautiful."
Crossing the room, Ginny smiled as she kissed him softly. "Thank you. You look pretty good yourself."
Harry had changed into his best pair of jeans and a blue and grey collared shirt. He shook his head. "Not compared to you."
After kissing him again softly, Ginny led him into the living room. She had arranged a centrepiece of flowers on the low table surrounded by a sea of candles. Harry had pushed back the sofa, so she could arrange a beautifully woven blanket on the floor surrounded by gold, silver, red and green pillows.
The couple knelt in the centre of the blanket and crossing their wands, repeated the words to the vow. As the last word faded away, Ginny felt a warmth spread over her. It felt like it was coming from inside of her and flowing out over her arms to meet Harry's hands, which were holding her's tightly.
From the look in Harry's eyes, he felt the same warmth envelope him. Ginny couldn't tear her eyes from his beautiful dark green eyes. She could feel his love covering her, merging with her love and slowly a bright golden light encompassed the young couple.
Bill looked at the diadem in amazement. "Is this really Ravenclaw's diadem?"
Professor Flitwick nodded. "I believe it is. It looks just like the pictures."
With a practiced wand movement, Bill sealed his office before waving his wand in an intricate pattern above the diadem. Filius watched the curse breaker anxiously. It had been several days since Filius had found the diadem and note waiting for him. He and Minerva had decided it was prudent to share the note and diadem with Bill, but neither of them were up to telling Molly Weasley what type of books her sixteen year old daughter had been reading.
Bill's sharp intact of breath caught Filius's attention. Bill set down his wand and turned to the bookshelves behind him. The younger wizard scanned the bookshelves and grabbed a slim black book. Flipping through the book, he found the page for which he was searching.
Looking up, Bill asked, "Have you ever heard of a Horcrux?"
"Oh Merlin," Filius breathed. "Is that how he survived?"
"I think so," Bill replied. "I've seen a few cases of Horcruxes in Egypt. Because of the power needed to create a Horcrux as well as the…well the need to murder someone in order to create one, they've never been a hugely popular way to create immortality. For some reason, I never considered that was how You-Know-Who survived."
He set the book down on the edge of his desk and looked at his former Charms professor. "Ron and Hermione were trying to tell me about what they were doing with Harry. All they could tell me was they were searching for something. Someone, either Harry or Professor Dumbledore must have put a jinx on the knowledge because they couldn't tell me anything more. Hermione said Harry wanted to go to Hogwarts, but she rather dismissed the idea as ridiculous."
Filius smiled. "Miss Granger tends to overlook Mr. Potter's intelligence at times." Gesturing toward the diadem, the professor asked, "Is it safe now?"
Bill nodded. "I'm not sure what they did, but the Horcrux has been destroyed." He gestured toward the note that Filius had brought with him. "Is there any doubt that is real? I mean it looks like her handwriting…"
"Minerva verified that she did meet with your sister and I can tell you that what Mr. Potter wrote is true."
Bill smiled. "I'm glad that Ginny had someone to talk to. One of the few true arguments I've had with my parents was over the way they handled that whole episode. I wish they'd had her see a mind healer or at least…I don't know. It's easy to criticize. I was so angry with my brothers. I had noticed something off in her letters to me and I had even mentioned it to my parents…they didn't think it was anything. Percy assured them that she was fine, so she was fine."
"I know your mother in particular was quite overwrought by your sister's ordeal. Both of your parents felt very guilty about missing the signs," Filius said gently.
Bill shook his head to dispel the memories of those dark days after his sister had been taken into the Chamber of Secrets. Looking over at his former Charms professor, he said, "I can take this to Harry's personal vault if you like. That way no Death Eater will see the diadem."
Her ring glinted in the weak late afternoon light as Ginny brought her hand down. Her engagement ring had been joined by a simple gold band along with a matching band for Harry signifying their marriage.
"Good job, Ginny!" Harry exclaimed. In the week since they had taken their pledge, Harry and Ginny had been working on the same basic skills Harry had been working on since he'd been left on his own.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on the cheek. He still couldn't believe that he'd ended up married to Ginny, but as she was the only girl he'd ever felt this way about, he wasn't arguing. The past week had been the happiest he could remember. During the day, they had kept the keep under surveillance and practiced their magic. The nights had been spent making love and exploring their physical relationship.
Flashing a smile over her shoulder at her new husband, Ginny asked, "So does that mean we're ready to search the keep?"
Burying his head in her neck, Harry sighed. "Yes. We might as well get it over with. I…I just wish you knew how to Apparate."
"Me too," Ginny replied, leaning back into his embrace. "I'd never even side-along Apparated until we came here."
"Why is that?" Harry asked curiously. "I mean why don't people normally Apparate with children? I don't like to Apparate, but it is a faster way to move around."
Squeezing his hand with hers, Ginny pulled out of his embrace. "I think it's because children can't really concentrate on the destination so there is an increased risk of getting splinched."
Harry made a face as he watched Ginny clean the living room with a few wand movements. "That would make sense. Ron was splinched when we left the Ministry. It was horrible."
Ginny paled at his words. "But he's okay, right?"
"Yeah, Hermione knew what to do," Harry replied.
Settling on the couch, Ginny surveyed her husband. "You miss them, don't you?"
Harry rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Stupid, huh?"
"No, love," Ginny said, pulling him down on the couch. "You've been best friends with them for six years. It only makes sense that you would miss them."
Reaching down, Harry took her hand and planted a kiss on her palm. "I…I do miss them, but I'd rather have you here with me. I realized once they'd left that I tended to rely on them too much. It still makes me a bit angry. I mean I told them for months we should go to Hogwarts and Hermione kept acting like I was an idiot for suggesting it. Just like with Malfoy last year."
"What do you mean?"
"I realized last summer that Malfoy was a Death Eater. I told Ron and Hermione and they didn't believe me. All last school year, I tried to tell them that Draco was up to something and he was behind Katie's attack. I even tried to talk to Remus and your dad, but no one believed me until it was too late," Harry explained. "So while I miss Ron and Hermione, I am much happier with you. You have always supported me and made me feel like I am doing the right thing."
Smiling, Ginny leaned over and kissed him. "I would bet that they miss you, too. Ron has always had a tendency to get angry and just start yelling before he could think. I know how he gets when he has to wait an hour for lunch. I can't imagine what he must have been like without food."
Leaning back against the couch, Ginny sighed. "I love my brother, but he can be an idiot."
Harry laughed. "He can be, but he was my first friend and he's one of my best mates."
"I know," Ginny replied. Smiling up at her husband, she said, "Why don't we go out to eat? We can plan our visit to the keep."
Ginny sat back on her heels as she surveyed the room from her spot next to the large wardrobe. She shook her head in amazement at the opulence of the room. It was the largest of the bedrooms on the upper floor of the keep. The floor was covered with a thick cream coloured rug. In addition to the wardrobe which she had just searched, there was a large four poster canopied bed covered in blue and cream draperies. Along one wall was a large mahogany chest of drawers, and covering the walls were richly detailed tapestries.
Sighing, Ginny got to her feet and checked the bed. The blue and cream sheets were a cool silk and the heavy duvet had a slightly musty odour. After checking the four posters and headboard, Ginny scanned the room one more time. It had taken her nearly three hours of painstaking work to search the room. The downstairs library had been the worst room to search. It had taken her and Harry together two days of searching to clear the room.
Luckily, once they were in the house, they had yet to find any traps or curses. It had taken Harry several days and more than one injury to figure out how to deactivate the protections on the house so they could enter safely. They had not seen anyone in or around the house and judging by the clothes and décor, no one had lived in the house for several decades.
"Merlin, you scared me," Ginny said as her husband appeared in the doorway. "Anything?"
"No, I think we can safely say that there is nothing hidden here," Harry said. "Let's head back to the flat and we can regroup from there."
Ginny joined her husband and wrapped her arms around his neck. Pulling her close, Harry Disapparated them away from the keep.
Ginny woke late the next morning. She and Harry had spent the evening, reviewing their options. They had decided to head back to London to see what else they could find out about the Lestranges. Harry was still convinced that Voldemort had entrusted his last Horcrux to his most fanatical follower.
Stretching, she felt for her husband and was rather disappointed to find his side of the bed empty. Looking around the room, she realized it was almost eleven in the morning. She got up and pulled on Harry's t-shirt that she'd thrown on the floor the evening before.
She saw Harry sitting at the kitchen table. He'd obviously gone out for breakfast as a bag with the name of their favourite bakery was sitting next to him. Walking up behind him, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on top of the head.
"Good morning, love."
She sat down at the table and helped herself to a pumpkin muffin and coffee. "Harry, what's wrong, love?"
Wordlessly, he handed her the paper. It was a copy of the Daily Prophet. On the front page was a picture of both her and Harry. The headline read, 'Wanted for questioning in the brutal murder of Hogwarts professors.'