Ginny woke with a start. She had heard something. There it was again. She dragged herself out of bed and stood at her bedroom window listening.
Dogs, she thought. Dogs were howling nosily all around but as she looked out into the back yard, over the garden fence and into the meadow beyond she could see nothing. So silly of her to think there would be a pack of wolves sitting in her back yard, of course their howls could travel far and wide for miles around. Sitting back down on her bed she began to recall the dream the howling had interrupted. It had been about Harry. Wasn’t it always about Harry though? She could not get him out of her head. His hands on her skin, his lips on hers… Ugh, she thought. This was getting ridiculous. Tucking herself back into bed she made a mental note: ‘Tomorrow is a new day and I will not think about Harry Potter at all, it is over’
It was only 4am but in the room one floor above Ginny, Harry was already up, dressed and getting ready for his first day of auror training. He re-read the owl for what was probably the 26th time.
Dear Mr. Potter
A port key has been placed at the burrow in the form of a large purple flowerpot out in the back yard. It is set to leave at 6am. All you will need to bring is your wand. If you have any concerns reply to this owl immediately.
Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic
It had arrived just after Ginny’s dramatic exit from the dinning room and at first Harry’s concern for her had overtaken his excitement, now however he was positively hyped up. He was almost vibrating. Not wanting to be late he decided to go and wait outside in the garden even though he still had half an hour to go. Outside under the dreary morning sky he wondered where the port would take him. Location ideas kept him entertained until 5:59 when he grabbed the flowerpot with both hands and closed his eyes. The familiar gut-wrenching, knee-jerking feeling hit him and when he opened his eyes he was laying face down on a white surface. He stood up for a better look at his surroundings.
It was a room the size of a theme park and it appeared to be completely undecorated. White on white. A white floor bordered by white walls, trimmed with a white skirt. Such a strange room Harry thought but did not get chance to ponder too much before he noticed a dark spec far off in the distance. Before his eyes the spec seemed to multiply. He did it without thinking. He apperated to the spot ahead and found himself standing with four other wizards that looked his age and one who looked old enough to be his grandfather who bore a badge that read: Chief Auror Renford.
“Sorry about that Potter”, Renford spoke in a gruff voice that reminded Harry of Mad-Eye Moody’s, “yer port key muster bin off er bit. Well looks like we’re all ‘ere, so we’ll proceed eh”.
The Chief Auror waved his wand and five desks and chairs appeared along with a blackboard on the wall behind them. Harry followed what he presumed were to be his new classmates lead and took up a seat. They all stared expectantly at Renford who spoke again once they were settled.
“There will be time for introductions later, see to it you do it on yer own time. I ain’t no kindergarten teacher, not ‘ere to have your lot sit in a circle and play name games. These lessons are the most important you will ever receive whether you end up becoming an auror or not. I can teach you how to survive better than any one else in the world’, he paused possible for dramatic effect. It worked. The class continued to stare up at him eagerly.
“Recent events ‘ave given me reason to change this course and you men are the first to take it thus far. I’m sure you are all aware of the current Mut issue”.
The hopeful aurors knew by ‘mut’ he was referring to the werewolves and there was a murmur of agreement. Renford nodded knowledgably and went on,
“We’ve ‘ad to change tactics. Never underestimate a dog fellas ‘cos it may very well be the last thing you ever do. First off ill tell yer their weaknesses…”
Renford’s explanation of werewolves went on for hours but Harry did not get bored or stop paying attention. The way Renford talked was intriguing. It was clear he knew a lot and was passionate about his work. With a pang of mingled feelings Harry thought of the way Snape had talked of Defense Against The Dark Arts with the same passion.
Once Renford was satisfied that they all understood the werewolves’ habits, weaknesses, locations and powers he went on to spells that they all needed to research and learn for next class. This included the blood cleansing charm, which Harry knew now would cleanse the blood of a werewolf preventing it from changing into its more powerful and feared form at the full moon for a short amount of time. Next was the exuro-flamma spell that allowed the caster to control a large volume of fire, change its form and move it with a flick of the wand. Renford said werewolves feared light. Their final task was to master the lente-millies spell, which is fairly self-explanatory. The title means to slow time by 1000, which is what it does.
Renford instructed them that many werewolves although they can use wands are less adept at it than wizards and so prefer to use hand-to-hand combat. At this one of the students, a short stubby lad with blonde hair whose name Harry did not know, laughed out loud. Renford scolded him.
“DO NOT underestimate the dogs, they have smartened over the years, learned much from their old master. They are physically as strong as giants now, with the speed of an angry hippogryph, even their claws ooze the vial substance that will turn even the most powerful wizard into a corpse or mut, depending on what the attacker decides. Last night was the first full moon since the Dark Lord has fallen and did you not hear them out in large numbers?”
The blonde haired boy answered, “Well yes Sir but I saw in the Daily Prophet this morning that no one was attacked”.
“No one was attacked but that does not mean the hounds didn’t get up to anything. The ministry has decided not to release this information yet and as aurors in training you are obliged to keep it to yourselves too. Six people are missing since last night.”
He listed off four names that Harry did not recognize and then two that seemed to shocked the whole class.
“… Rita Skeeter and Minerva McGonagall”
When Harry arrived back at the burrow he found everyone out and a note on the kitchen table that Read:
We’ve popped out to Shell Cottage for a bit to spend some time with Fleur and Bill. We’ll be back before bedtime.
Hope you had a great first day at Auror School
Love Mrs. Weasley xoxox
Harry went up to his room, and began ripping items out of his old Hogwarts trunk and tossing them at random around the room. He was looking for a small box of matches he, Hermione and Ron had used on their search for the horcruxes. He found them wrapped up in an old sock along with his sneak-a-scope at the bottom of the musty smelling box. He smiled. It felt good to have a mission. Something to focus on that did not have red hair, a curvy body, a sweet smell, and a touch that could…. Dammit he thought ‘GET OUT OF MY HEAD GINNY’. He cleared a space off on the small side table beside his bed, stuck a match, dropped it there, pointed his wand hopefully and said clearly, “Exuro-flamma”.
The words were barely out of his mouth when the match exploded into a large ball of fire expanding at such a rate Harry had to apparate away from it to save himself from cremation.
“BLOODY HELL”, he raised his wand towards the fire and feeling the heat on his face yelled again, “Aguamenti”.
A large cone of water erupted from the end of his wand and extinguished the fire. ‘Phew’, he thought. A noise came from outside the bedroom door and he started. Was he not alone?
Ginny entered the smoke filled room looking astonished.
“What in Merlin’s name…’, she exclaimed looking around at the destruction of the room, her wand held out in front of her. She looked at Harry wondering what the hell he had been trying to do. Was he hurt? She was worried but she tried not to look it as he told her he was practicing spells from Auror training.
“Oh’, she replied shrugging then turned her back on him. She did not want to be in the same room with him for too long, especially not when everyone else was out. She did not trust herself. She sighed out loud turning to see that he had grabbed her wrist gently. Trying to pull away she said,
“Harry, just don’t. Everyone will be back soon and then you can go back to pretending I don’t exist”.
Harry was shocked and hurt at this. Is this how she had been feeling the last few days? As if she did not exist to him? No wonder she had been crying a lot, he thought, tightening his grip on her wrist.
“G-Ginny, don’t be like that. I haven’t been pretending you don’t exist I just… well it’s hard you know? Your parents and Ron… after everything they have done for me… and after everything that has happened. It’s just too soon. I’m not saying it will never happen. You just have t be patient”.
Ginny’s eyes narrowed but she did not try to pull her arm out of his hand this time. Truth be told some part of her was enjoying the physical contact, however slight. She spoke and her annoyance with Harry was clear as day.
“Harry I waited a year already while you went off doing god only knows what with Ron and Hermione. I’m not going to wait anymore. I am done pining for you”.
“Not going to wait!? What are you going to send and owl to Dean Tomas or one of your many other ex’s and see who will take you back first just because I need some time. Grow uppaaa… ouch”.
Ginny had pulled him in using the arm he still held tight and slapped him with her other.
“How dare you”, she hissed, “Just because you treated me like a two-pence whore does not mean that I am one”.
And with that she left the room. Left Harry to crumple onto the charred floor clutching his head in his hands and cursing himself inwardly for being such a big prat.
Mrs. Wesley and the rest of the herd returned three hours later and insisted they all sat down around the dinner table and chat about their day.
“Ginevra Weasley’, she had yelled up the stairs after everyone else was already seated, “If you do not get your bottom down here right now and join us for a civilized family conversation I will jinx it so high up into the sky they’ll be able to see it from Scotland”.
Several slammed doors and extra hard thuds on the staircase later Ginny joined the family at the table. Oddly Mrs. Weasley was beaming. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked confused, Ginny had not seemed to notice yet, and Mr. Weasley just looked exhausted.
He had been at the ministry all day, dealing with the ever-increasing number of Muggle victims of werewolf attacks.
“Here you go Ginny dear”, Mrs. Weasley said passing her daughter a white envelope and still grinning, “It arrived earlier but your Father and Harry were out and I thought we should all watch you open it together, I think it is your OWL results and I am sure there is a badge there for you too”.
Ron rolled his eyes and Hermione slapped his knee. Ginny ignored Ron’s whining about Hermione abusing him and ripped open the paper concealing a small letter. It was not from Hogwarts. It did not include a badge. Shock and excitement filled Ginny as she read the letter.
Dear Ginevra Weasley,
My name is Gwenog Jones and I am writing on behalf of my Quidditch team – The Holyhead Harpies. Horace Slughorn has told me a lot about you and it would be my greatest pleasure if you would come down to our training facility in Edinburgh to play with us for the remainder of the summer.
If you are willing to do so please reply to this owl as soon as possible and be ready for the Knight Bus to pick you up at your place of residence next Tuesday.
I hope to see you soon
After five full minutes of Ginny just staring at the letter, jaw askew and hanging open Mr. Weasley leapt up from his chair and launched himself at her, grabbing her shoulder and shaking her.
“Ginny can you hear me?!”, apparently he thought she had been subject to some kind of jinx or curse concealed in the parchment. Ginny pushed her father away at once, though still unable to speak she did manage to close her mouth and open it several times, possibly just to stop herself from drooling over Gwenog Jones’ signature.
“Mum, this isn’t my OWL’s it- it- it’s… my god I don’t even know how to say it. I have been invited to play with the Holyhead Harpies!”
Ron looked scandalous and spluttered and muttered incoherently. Harry thought he herd the words ‘not fair’ and ‘i’m better’ in there so he did not feel bad when Hermione slapped Ron even harder across the knee’s. Harry was happy to see Ginny so pleased, even if it was not with him.
The evening passed quickly with talk of Quidditch. Mrs. Weasley of course was reluctant to let Ginny stay away from home for three weeks of the summer but was quickly shot down by the other members of the family who realized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that Ginny should be allowed to experience.
As everyone was getting ready for bed Harry beckoned Ron and Hermione into his room.
“Blimey Harry what have you been up to in here? It looks like a bloody bomb went off”.
“Never mind that”, Harry snapped at Ron, “Today at Auror training I learned some interesting information”, and he told them about the kidnappings.
Hermione looked horrified and Ron confused.
“There must be a connection between all of the victims”, Hermione thought out loud.
“They’re all women?”, suggested Ron.
“Erin Brimstone is a man Ronald”, Hermione replied.
“Right well I have to get some sleep Auror training starts at five tomorrow but Hermione if you could look up these people I’d be very grateful. Renford does not believe they have been hurt since no blood was found at their homes so we need to find them quickly”.
Hermione nodded and followed Ron out of the bedroom, her head spinning with thoughts of poor old Professor McGonagall being held captive.