Chapter 6 : Bottles Thirteen, Two and Twenty-One
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Harry and Ginny arrived at Captain Frank’s Dive Shop in good time. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, and the two young adults had enjoyed the quick trip up the coast on their choppers. Harry parked his chopper near the side of the building and Ginny pulled in just to his right. Both dismounted the motorcycles, Harry checked his surroundings and pulled two shrunken duffel bags from the saddlebag on his chopper. He set the bags on the ground and enlarged them to normal size. After casting a surreptitious protection spell on the two bikes, Harry and Ginny walked across the parking lot and down the pier to the waiting dive boat.
The boat rocked gently against the pilings, its dull white hull reflecting in the water. It measured about sixty feet and had a dive platform at the rear. An upper deck served as an observation point for those not wanting to dive, but to sightsee.
“Be’ right witt ya…” the greeting came from the raised cockpit at the center of the boat. “Set yer bags by th’ others and Marty’ll load ‘em up. Welcome to Cap’n Frank’s Dive Tours.” A strapping middle aged man extended his hand. The years working the sea had certainly kept the man in shape and the man’s thick chest and arms were a testimony to the toughness of his job.
“Hi,” Harry and Ginny answered in unison, each taking the time to shake the man’s thick muscled hand
“And you’d be?” The man asked.
“The Potters, Harry and Ginny.” Harry introduced himself and his wife.
“And you’re Frank?” Ginny inquired politely.
“Now, why’d ya think that?”
“That?” Ginny pointed to the nearly two foot tall letters that spelled CAPTAIN FRANK’S DIVE TOURS in large, green, block letters stretching nearly the entire sixty feet of hull.
The man gave her a puzzled look, “Yaa…and?”
Ginny pointed again at the letters.
“Well, dontcha think tha’s a lot to be assumin’? I ain’t Frank… Don’t know if there ever was a ‘Frank’ ta-be honest. This is run by a firm out o’ Miami. TRC Holdin’s, LLC.” But if they put tha there on the boats, nobody’d ever come out. So its Frank’s…but my name’s Cap’n Gene”
“Oh,” Ginny said softly. “Nice to meet you Captain Gene.”
“Tha’s alright there princess. We’ll ferget yer so gullible.” He smiled, not noticing Ginny’s very controlled, yet irked reaction to being called princess.
“Right, now most th’ others are ‘ere already. Go on up an’ make yerselves at ‘ome.” He gestured to a set of stairs leading up to the viewing deck. “Now careful there, the plank’s a bit slippery,” he cautioned Ginny in a patronizing tone, holding his hand out to assist her. Ginny huffed a bit at the man’s assumption that she would need help, but she made her way down the gangplank to the boat and boarded quickly, without comment, and without taking the man’s proffered hand.
The couple made their way up and found seats towards the bow, greeting the other tourists on the dive tour. Soon, the boat pulled away from the dock and headed slowly out towards the first reef on the dive tour. The wind across the deck whipped their faces and made it feel a good twenty degrees cooler than the seventy-five degrees it actually was.
“Don’t get in a mood over this Gin,” Harry cautioned, noting that Ginny cast a second glare at the captain.
“I’m not. I’m really looking forward to this, but what does he think? I’m helpless?” she replied.
“He’s being nice.”
“He called me princess…” she fumed slightly.
“Well, so… What do we need to do? Get George to print up a bunch of shirts that say ‘I’m NOT a princess’ just so you can advertise the fact to the world?” Harry joked.
“Just relax; we’re going to be swimming underwater in less than an hour.” Harry reminded her, slipping an arm around her shoulders when he noticed the ocean breeze making her shiver.
“Thanks,” she murmured into his chest, snuggling against him.
“Any time…princess,” he whispered. “OW!” he squealed when she pinched him in retaliation.
During the twenty minute trip the dive assistant, Marty, reviewed everyone’s equipment. Harry and Ginny only paid passing notice to the instruction as they were using Kingsley’s magical scuba equipment. To muggles it looked the same as their air tanks, regulators and masks, but it held a charm similar to the bubble head charm, which supplied the wearer with an unlimited supply of air. Prior to leaving Britain Kingsley enlarged his bathtub to a pool like size and gave them each lessons, so they’d be prepared when they arrived in Grand Cayman.
The one thing the young couple had not considered was the motion of the boat and how it might affect them, or more to the point, Harry.
“Okay love?” Ginny asked with concern noticing that as the boat bounced along Harry was becoming less and less talkative.
When he replied, his pallid skin gave an answer much more truthful than his words,“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Right,” she snorted. “Honey, you’re white as a sheet.” The boat topped another wave and as the bow slid into the trough behind it Ginny could feel the dip in her stomach. The same movement caused Harry’s complexion to tint slightly green. “Harry?”
“U’m fine,” he mumbled, looking decidedly un-fine.
The boat slowed and turned into the wind, when it came to a complete stoop the captain dropped anchor and Marty dropped a guide line for the divers. The captain raised the red and white diver down flag, so any approaching vessel was aware of their underwater guests.
With the motion of the boat calmed, Harry began to feel better and soon he and Ginny stood next to their equipment lockers, pulling their gear from the shelves.
“Now then, lil princess, let me help ya,” Captain Gene reached past Ginny and yanked her tanks out for her.
“I can get them,” she huffed.
“Right, o’ course ya can,” he answered sweetly, but he gave Harry a wink as though they both knew Ginny wasn’t able to get ready on her own.
Ginny scowled at the man, but the captain never noticed as he was now helping another young woman get her gear settled. “I’m…hex his bits…” Ginny mumbled quietly.
“Come on Gin,” a still pale Harry tried to soothe her temper before it got the best of her.
A few minutes later, their scuba gear on, they tipped back off the dive platform into the warm water near Bear’s Paw reef.
The couple swam down almost fifty feet, breathing easily thanks to the charmed equipment. They glided along the reef’s border watching parrotfish peck at the coral and small school of sergeant majors, a yellow and black striped local fish, passed above them. The rhythmic motions of their swimming calmed Harry’s stomach a little more and he began to enjoy the swim.
Marty swam by and pointed them to an unusual outcropping of fire coral, motioning that they should not touch it, he also pointed out the thin oblong head of a green moray eel swaying gently from side to side, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to pass by.
After nearly an hour diving, the other tour participants headed for the surface, taking careful measures to not rise to fast. Swimming to the surface too quickly would result in the ‘bends’ according to the captain. Harry and Ginny didn’t know exactly what ‘the bends’ were, as the explanation had been rather technical, but knew it had to do with the amount of certain gasses in their blood, and that it would necessitate a trip to the local hospital.
Once all the tour members were again on board Captain Gene and Marty raised the lines, dropped the flag and throttled the large boat up to cruising speed.
The boat pitched as it rounded the west end of the island and as it was now cutting across the wind, the waves came more often. The rough sea completed the job started earlier in the day and Harry was now the pale green color associated with day old lettuce, a color that Teddy would no doubt try to imitate, if he were present.
Once the boat slowed at the Big Tunnels dive site the other occupants of the boat readied their gear and paired off for another underwater adventure. Harry pulled on his tanks and other paraphernalia and noticed with a smirk that Captain Gene was once again trying to assist Ginny with her tanks. Harry wasn’t sure how long she was going to be able to keep her now bristling anger to herself.
Once they splashed into the clear water Ginny was smiling again and the pair floated across the surface of the water to the edge of the reef. Ginny wiped her mask and pulled it over her face. It was then she noticed Harry’s grimace and his hurried attempt to rip off his own full-face mask. With a final wrench he pulled the plastic lens from his face and promptly emptied his day’s lunch into the water. The bits of food floated beside them, and to Ginny’s disgust, expanded out as if trying to surround them.
“Sorry,” Harry mumbled ashamedly before retching into the ocean again. “Sorry again…I do feel better now though,” he added helpfully.
Ginny frowned, pulled her mask back on quickly, and dove to get away from the chum swirling on top of the water. Harry pulled his mask back on and joined her but was quickly swarmed by hundreds of tropical fishes. Bright hues of blue, yellow, orange and purple blazed by as a feeding frenzy ensued all around the startled pair, the fish eating the remains of Harry’s lunch. The couple now grinned wildly, completely overtaken in awe of the enormous schools of fish diving in and around their heads, arms and legs.
After an incredible five minutes the water was again clear and the fishes swam lazily away, their hunger sated for now. Ginny led Harry towards the base of the reef to investigate a large starfish and a few more eels. The site was aptly named as the reef opened in places, creating tunnels through the coral large enough for divers to swim though side by side. The sheer size of the reef coupled with the vast array of underwater life left a sense of awe within their souls, each keenly aware of just how magnificent the reef truly was. The second dive lasted longer than the first and after about two hours Marty came by to signal it was time to return to the boat.
Harry helped pull Ginny onto the dive platform, letting her step over the gunwale onto the deck of the boat. Gene was there again to help Ginny, still oblivious to the fact that she was not asking or wanting any help. He took her tanks by the straps and lifted them one-handed into her locker. Harry had to admit that the man was very strong, and then sniggered to himself when he realized the man was trying mightily to impress his wife and failing spectacularly, although some of the other women on the tour were suitably impressed.
The return trip was uneventful. Tired from the day’s driving, several of the tour members dozed off. Harry laid his head in Ginny lap and closed his eyes to rest too, hoping that it would keep his stomach from getting so queasy. Ginny woke him as they arrived back at the dive shop. After the ship was safely moored to the pier the group descended to the lockers to get their equipment.
Ginny opened her locker and glanced over her shoulder at the large man coming towards her. “Captain Gene, could you lift my tanks for me? I’m tired after all the swimming.” Ginny asked sweetly.
Harry whipped around, knowing it was unlike Ginny to one, ask the man for help; and two, ask in a voice dripping with sweetness.
Gene strode over and one again one handed the tanks, giving them a great pull. “DAMN!” he bellowed in pain. “Ahhhh crap…Sorry princess, din’t mean ta swear like that,” he apologized profusely. He rubbed his elbow and grabbed the gear with his left hand. This time he pulled in a more controlled manner, but still the tanks wouldn’t budge.
“Everything alright there?” Harry asked.
Ginny nodded. “Yeah, big strong Gene here is just getting my stuff for me,” she said nicely.
“Jus’ need a bett’er hold on it,” the large man muttered, giving another big heave on the equipment and accomplishing nothing more than pulling another muscle.
“Ohhh, don’t hurt yourself,” Ginny implored. “Maybe you’re just more tired than you thought. I’ll get them.” And with a firm pull she removed her equipment from the cabinet and slid it into a large duffel bag. She then lifted the duffel with one hand and walked up the deck without looking back to witness the utter shock on the captain’s face.
“Well,” Harry said, smiling broadly. “She’s a bit stronger than she looks.” Gene watched the small redheaded woman walk down the gangplank to the choppers, swinging the bag as if it weighed nothing. “Have a nice day…And you might want to ice that elbow,” Harry added noting that Gene was absent-mindedly rubbing his strained elbow.
Once the parking lot was deserted, Harry shrunk the duffel bags and stowed them in a saddle bag attached to the right side of his chopper. He flashed Ginny a knowing smile.
“What?” Ginny asked innocently, using a face that Harry was positive had kept her from being scolded many times as a young girl.
“Please, you know what,” he retorted playfully.
“I’ve no idea, honestly Harry,” she said, making sure her voice rang with sincerity. Her face broke into a smile when she realized he was not buying one iota of her ‘innocent me’ plea. “Oh fine. I used sticking charm to keep the stuff in the cabinet, and then when I went to grab it I cast a weightlessness charm on it.”
“Gin, that’s against the law. No magic in front of Muggles, you know that!”
“They didn’t know it was magic, I did it all nonverbal and wandless. All they know is Captain Gene couldn’t lift it, but I could. No harm done.”
“Gin…I’m an Auror, what am I supposed to do?”
“Nothing, we’re not in Britain.” She shrugged. “It’s what do you call it…out of your jurisdiction?”
“No we aren’t in Britain, but the Cayman Islands are part of the British West Indies. Technically the islands do fall under the Ministry’s jurisdiction,” he said worriedly. “What if you get a notice and I have to arrest you?”
“Then you’ll have to tie me up,” Ginny smirked, climbing onto her chopper and firing up the engine. She flashed him a playful wink and she rode off for the cottage.
“Merlin I love her,” Harry sighed before starting his own bike and driving after her.
When Harry arrived at the beach house a few minutes after Ginny she was already showered and wearing fresh clothes. She stood in the kitchen bent over at the waist, her long red hair hanging down in a curtain, obscuring her face. Her wand, held loosely in her left hand, swished in a gentle curling motion, the spell drying and styling her hair in gentle waves.
He watched in silence, gazing at her and felt his heart rate quicken. “I can’t believe I’m married to her…” She interrupted his thoughts by standing upright and tossing her now dry red locks over her shoulder.
“Liked that did you?” She beamed happily at him.
“Yeah, I did,” he admitted.
“Good, because you’re stuck with me; Weasley redheaded temper and all.”
“I’m okay with that.” He closed the few steps between them and gave her a quick hug.
“We have the rest of the night free…what do you want to do?” she shifted her eyes towards the garden facing the white sand beach facing Little Sound.
“More of these?” Harry suggested eyeing the pensieve.
“You are soooo predictable Mr. Potter…but I think we can do a few more before we turn in for the night.” Ginny acquiesced to his wishes, stepping over to the counter where the pensieve rested. She opened the ornately carved wooden box and slipped three bottles from the padded red velvet lining.
“Oohhh, lucky number thirteen…” Ginny said in a falsely ominous tone.
“Sorry, never put much stock in that,” Harry replied nonchalantly pulling the glass stopper from the small vial and tilting it over the stone bowl. The silvery strand of memory swirled inside the pensieve, neither liquid nor mist, but glowing with a silvery sheen.
Harry leaned in with Ginny beside him. Both landed upright and standing in the cramped chicken coop turned work shed of Mr. Weasley.
The elder statesman of the Weasley family put down his screwdriver and wiped his sleeve on the window to get a clearer view of the garden. It was morning, judging from the angle of sunlight, and spring owing to the fresh buds on the trees and the thin sprouts poking up from the freshly weeded flower beds. Harry paced about in the garden nervously. Arthur smiled as he watched, certain that whatever was troubling the young man would soon bring him in to talk it over.
“So, we’re at home…and you’re wearing a Cannon’s jacket so it must be after you made the team…”Ginny appraised their surroundings.
“Yes, you’re right. And it’s before we got married.”
“No kidding,” Ginny teased him, bouncing him with a sideways swish off her hips.
Harry in the memory stopped pacing, drew a great breath and then walked to the door of the work shed, knocking on the door as he entered. “Mr. Weasley?”
“Good morning Harry, how are you doing this morning?”
“I…Good, I think…yeah, good,” Harry answered shakily.
“Sure about that, you seem to be a little off this morning,” Arthur questioned.
“Yeah, I’m sure…I was wondering…”
“Yes?” Arthur responded.
“I was wondering if…if you need help with that?” Harry motioned towards the toaster parts spread out across the work bench, but his actions hinted that helping repair the worn out toaster wasn’t his original intent.
“Well, from what I can deduce, it seems the purpose of this item it to burn bread. Although why muggles would want to burn bread is beyond me, it none the less does the job quite well,” Arthur said proudly, quite sure of his answer.
“It’s not supposed to burn it, you’re supposed to be able to set it to different levels, so the toast comes out as light or dark as you want it,” Harry explained.
“Oh good, I thought the muggles must be all twitchy to want burnt toast all the time.” He smiled and prodded the gutted toaster with his wand. “Now, as I see it the elextricities come in through this plug, marvelous, plugs are ingenious. Through this knob here and into the curly cues that burn the bread. And these springs shoot the burnt bread into the air where the muggles have to try to catch it.”
“Is it a game Harry? Do the muggle children have to jump to get their burnt toast?” Arthur said, not joking at all.
“No sir, if the toast is flying out the top when it’s done, then the springs are broken too.” Harry advised him.
“Oh…well I did think it was odd of the muggles to make children jump for their food…”
Harry and Arthur began to investigate the toaster.
“My Dad is nutters…” Ginny watching the scene muttered. “Completely nutters…for our wedding he gives us a memory of fixing a toaster…he’s going all wonky I think…”
Harry laughed. “You don’t know what this is?” Ginny shook her head. “Hmmm, I thought we talked about this one time…Oh well, he’s not wonky, at least not any more than he has been for years. Keep watching…” Harry’s cheeks tinged as he spoke, but Ginny didn’t notice since she was once again focusing on her father fixing the broken toaster.
“Reparo!” Arthur said clearly, pointing his wand at the worn, burnt, disconnected knob lying on the bench. It shuddered and the brown tint wisped away, leaving the dial clean and new again.
“Great, I’ll put that back on.” Harry took the knob and installed it back in the toaster frame.
“And these two springs?” Arthur asked.
“Yes, repair them too. Those counterbalance the springs that lift up the toast,” Harry explained, and upon seeing the confused look on Mr. Weasley’s face, continued. “Without these, the stronger springs just shoot the bread up and it flies out. These slow it down so the toast pops up like it should.
“Reparo, reparo!” two quick jabs of his wand followed and Arthur studied the newly repaired springs carefully.
“Sir, why do you need a toaster? Mrs. Weasley does a perfect toasting charm?”
“Oh, she does Harry, but I’ve had good muggle toast before and…” he smiled dreamily, “it was the best, simply marvelous and then I put some marmalade on it…it was heavenly,” he said wistfully. And at that moment Harry knew where he’d seen that same exact look before, Ron.
Mr. Weasley continued, “The marmalade warmed and seeped into the toast, pure delight… marmalade and warm toast…”
“I-need-to-marry-Ginny!” Harry said rapidly.
“What!” Arthur exclaimed, dropping his wand and both small springs in shock at the statement.
“She’s marmalade…well, she’s my marmalade…” Harry said, flustered.
“Oh my” Ginny watching the scene said in surprise.
“No, wait I said that all wrong… She isn’t…No, no she is…She’s the marmalade for my toast. Sure toast is good, and toast is better with butter, or jam. But toast and marmalade IS the best, just like you said. See I was bread, and I was all burnt and broken but Ginny…she turned me into toast and good toast too, but she’s the marmalade…she gets into my pores and makes simple toast a perfect meal…she’s marmalade…” Harry breathed out heavily, not realizing he’d been holding it for the whole speech.
“I see…” Arthur picked up his wand, mostly to give him something to do other than stare at the young man before him.
“I probably should have worked into that a little better, yeah?” Harry asked. “Bit of a shock wasn’t it?”
“Yes…and no…” Arthur smiled at Harry. “I expect this has been weighing heavily on your mind then?”
“Since when did you decide you ‘needed’ to marry Ginny?” he queried. “After the week you two spent gallivanting around in Miami?”
“That is part of it…but it wasn’t until the week after Rita ran that horrible article about Ginny in the prophet that I knew for sure. All these witches were sending me letters about how they were the one for me, and how they wouldn’t ever cheat on me, which Ginny never did…but they all said the same thing, that I was better off with any of them than I was with Ginny.” He paused briefly.
“But, they don’t get it. None of them do…Ginny, she’s the right person for me, she’s the perfect person for me, she’s…”
“Marmalade,” Arthur finished for him.
“You’re awfully young, Ginny’s even younger…And just like marmalade she can be messy, and can go sour if not cared for, and you can get burned if you get the marmalade too hot, and it’ll be one flavor of marmalade forever Harry. No butter, or jam, just marmalade.”
“Sir, when did you first ever feel loved?” Harry asked softly.
“I’ve always known love, from the earliest memory of my own mother and father, why?”
“I never felt it until Ginny, the last year I was at Hogwarts, I didn’t realize what it was, but for the first time in my life I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had a future outside of having to kill Voldemort. And then Dumbledore died…”
“And you broke up with her.”
“Yes, and I hated doing it, but I had to, and then the night of our first date…” Harry’s eyes glistened slightly as his emotions got the better of him for a moment.
“She told you she loved you, and you said the same.” Mr. Weasley completed the sentence.
“That was the first time…”
“I know son,” Arthur returned gently, taking one step forward and hugging the young man that was to be his future son-in-law. “She’s marmalade…you have my blessing.”
Harry nodded, and broke the hug. “Thank you, I want it to be a secret, and I won’t ask until after school is out.”
“Well, if you want it to be a secret we might want to keep this tidbit from Molly, for a while at least,” Arthur suggested. “And if we finish this toaster up, then maybe later we can make some toast with marmalade.”
The memory faded away.
In the kitchen of the vacation home Harry stood looking kindly at a teary-eyed Ginny, not sure if he knew the emotions at play. “Are you happy or sad, or…”
“I don’t know…Marmalade, I’m marmalade?” she laughed. “It was so silly, and a bit daft,” she chuckled again. “But, Harry, that was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Harry wrapped her body in his arms, pulling her against him. He could feel the curves of her body where it molded to his, and he tilted his head down to capture her lips a passion filled kiss. She responded in kind, and the passionate, loving kisses consumed the young couple for several minutes.
When they separated Ginny spoke. “I love marmalade and toast too.” Ginny lifted up on her toes and engaged her husband in another passionate round of kisses. That broke only when both of their breathing was quite labored.
“Maybe we should save some of that for later?” Harry offered, pulling the memory from the pensieve with a slow lifting of his wand and sliding it back into the tiny glass vial for protection.
“Promise?” Ginny smirked happily.
“Wild hippogriffs couldn’t keep me away,” Harry replied, with a smile.
“Good enough for me,” Ginny laughed. “Okay now we have bottle number two.” And without much in the way of ceremony, Ginny turned the opened bottle upside down over the carved stone bowl letting the silvery wisp of a memory slide softly into the bowl.
Ginny nosed into the swirling white mass and fell into the next memory with Harry close behind. Ginny landed on her feet, Harry landing deftly right beside her.
“We’re getting better at this; neither of us fell on our arses that time,” Ginny commented dryly.
“I know, must be something to be said for practice,” Harry agreed.
The heat and humidity enveloped everyone in the memory, soaking them with perspiration. A large crowd milled about in the grand stands. All of the Weasleys were standing, screaming and waving in support of Ginny. She rocketed past on her firebolt wearing the gold robes with green trim associated with the Harpies summer league training squad. A thin wizard with the arm span of an albatross took a mighty swing, connecting with the bludger sending it across the pitch. The wizard took another swing and clubbed Ginny soundly on the arm with a dull thud. Bill, Charlie and Ron all swore at the referee for a blatant no call, as by rule, Ginny should have been awarded a penalty shot. She toughed it out, cradling her injured arm for a moment before turning and flying back up the pitch.
“That’s the third time he’s done that, and the referee hasn’t called it once!” Ron fumed.
“Ron, you know how this league works, it’s rough and mean. You earn your stripes here,” Charlie growled.
Ginny caught a quick pass from a teammate, faked the thin beater left and dove under him, she banked right and made a clean shot past the keeper and through the left hoop for another ten points. She flipped off the thin wizard that cursed at her, but was nearly knocked off her broom by the other beater for the Hamfordshire team, who’d flown directly into her side. Only her rib protector, making the man’s broomstick bounce off her ribs, kept her from being injured. She swerved out of control for a few seconds before steadying her broom and shooting down the pitch after the quaffle.
“She’s tough, that one,” Bill admired his sister.
“She’ll need to be to play in this league,” Charlie agreed.
“This is worse than the World Cup, because they’re all fighting for their professional lives. Once you get to the level Ron and Harry are at, the players have made it. Their league takes more skill, but it isn’t as brutal.”
The conversation halted, overridden by the shrill whistle of the referee, the Hamfordshire seeker was holding the snitch triumphantly. The teams huddled mid-field before dispersing to find friends and family. The Weasley family made their way to ground level of the pitch. The grass was worn, and bare in places, the stadiums the training league played in were of no compare to the professional stadiums Ginny was used to seeing. In fact, to be honest the Hogwarts school pitch was in better shape.
“When is this?” Harry asked.
“My first professional match. I got paid forty Galleons per game as a training chaser, plus five Galleons per goal scored,” Ginny replied absently. “You weren’t there.
Harry, unsure of what to say, kept quiet.
The family was now gathered around Ginny, heaping her with praise.
“…really brilliant Ginny,” Bill’s comment finished.
“Yeah and flipping the thin guy off as you scored! That’s our little Gin-Gin.” George ruffed her sweaty red hair.
Molly was tending to her daughter’s scrapes and bruises. One particularly nasty bruise on her ribs was still a deep purple even after Molly worked three doses of dittany into the injury. “Are you sure about this dear?” she asked softly so nobody else would hear.
“Mum, I want this. I knew what this league was like, and I’m tougher than they are.” She thumbed over her shoulder where a group of medi-witches was working on other injured players from both teams. The family talked a little more, letting Ginny rest on the bench. She glanced around the pitch, looking, hoping to find a mop of messy black hair watching from the sidelines unannounced. She didn’t find him after four scans of the remaining crowd.
“I didn’t see him either Ginny,” Charlie said slipping an arm around her shoulders.
“I just thought…” she sighed. “I thought he cared enough to come…Whenever I pictured this moment I always pictured it as a completely happy time. In my mind we won, which we didn’t tonight because our training seeker is rubbish. And my family would all be here, and you are, except for Freddy…but more recently, I always ended the dream with Harry walking me off the pitch.”
“Are you regretting your decision?” Charlie asked.
“No, I am going to play for the Harpies, nobody is stopping me from that, not even Harry,” she stated firmly.
“I wasn’t under the impression that he would try to stop you.”
“I…I don’t know either, he won’t talk to me or answer my letters. I’ve given up sending them, but in the last one I invited him and he didn’t come…I know he’s mad at me, but…” she shook her head dismally. “I feel like I’m going to have to choose between Harry and quidditch…”
“Why? Did he make you chose?” Charlie questioned her seriously.
Ginny waited to think before she answered. “No, he didn’t.” She paused again. “I just feel lost. I don’t even know who I am…I need to be Ginny Weasley, I don’t want to be Mrs. Harry Potter my whole life.”
“Then its good you said no to him.”
“NO!, that isn’t what I mean…I do want to marry him, but I have to be Ginny Weasley before I can be Ginny Potter…does that make more sense?”
“For a girl.”
“Pratt,” she laughed, punching his ribs lightly.
“Ginny, I know what the whole ‘finding yourself’ thing’s about. For Merlin’s sake I ran off to Romania. And you’re right, you need to be one hundred percent Ginny Weasley before you can happily be Ginny Potter.”
“But can I be Ginny Weasley, a Holyhead Harpie, and Ginny Potter?”
“Sure, but you’ll have to work it out on your own, nobody else can do it for you,” Charlie advised.
“I want it all Charlie. I want all three and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen. I have to work on me now, and the Harpies now too. I just need Harry to give me a chance to get it all worked out.” She smiled at how determined her voice sounded. “I can see it. Me as an independent person, and a chaser for the Harpies, and coming home to Harry…I want my dreams, all three of them. And I’ll have them.”
“That’s the Weasley spirit.” Charlie smiled.
The memory swirled about causing the couple watching the memory feel unbalanced for a brief time, but when the swirling mellowed and a new scene was displayed, Harry’s and Ginny’s stomachs settled as well.
Harry and Ginny now stood in the hospital ward of the World Cup stadium. Harry of the memory was magically bound by his bandages resting under the influence of a calming potion the healers had just administered. The only people present were Charlie, Bill and a bedridden Harry.
“I’m going to find Fleur. See you tomorrow Harry, when you get to the Burrow.”
“No, I’ll be going home with Ginny, to the loft,” he countered.
Bill and Charlie both laughed. “Are you kidding,” Bill said in shock. “Mum’s favorite son is all banged up, no way you don’t end up in the Burrow. She’ll be all mother hen to you, just soak it in mate, enjoy the food and the pampering.” Bill waved as he slid out the door.
“Well Harry you really know how to make a proposal don’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m just happy she said yes this time.” Harry smiled.
“You mean after she hexed you?” Charlie reminded him of the episode from the previous night after the Cannon’s had won the Quidditch World Cup for the second time.
“Yes.” Harry smiled too. “She is quick with a wand that one…I don’t know what I would have done if she said no again.”
“Find a way to ask a third time is my guess,” Charlie replied.
“Probably…and a fourth time, and a fifth too, if needed,” Harry admitted
“I haven’t seen you much since Christmas, but I wanted to thank you.”
“Thank me?” Harry wondered aloud.
“For taking care of Ginny while she was getting herself sorted out.”
“Charlie, she and I barely saw each other, I wasn’t taking care of her. She was on her own, which was what she needed.”
“You misunderstand me. While she was away you could have thrown down with any number of witches, and I’m pretty sure there were plenty lined up to do so…but you were careful not to…”
“I’d rather have been with Ginny, not any of those silly fangirl witches trying to get my attention, so I just stayed away.”
“Exactly, you did right by her even when she, to be honest, hadn’t really done right by you. The blokes at the dragon reserve were always getting on about it, how if they were you they’d have a different witch every night…and you stayed true to Ginny…so as her brother, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, I just did what felt right…and Ginny, she’s what feels right.”
“I don’t think I need to know how Ginny feels Potter,” Charlie growled.
“Sure you do, first she’s so warm, when her body is up against mine, she radiates warmth as if she has an internal fire. And she’s soft in places, but her bum is kind of firm and it feels so nice…”
“La-la-la-la-la…I’m not listening Potter,” Charlie called out loudly, covering his ears with his hands and wincing at what he was hearing.
“Oh Merlin can that girl kiss too, she can kind of curl her tongue so it…”
“STOP, I’M NOT LISTENING!” Charlie shuddered and hurried out the door.”
“Bye Charlie,” Harry smirked…
Harry and Ginny laughed at Charlie’s hasty exit, and held hands as the memory shifted around them once again, forming a new place and time
The scene was again a quidditch pitch, but this time it was empty. And the new memory was in a quidditch pitch one hundred times the size of the previous memory. Ginny was sitting on a team bench at twilight watching the sun as it slowly dipped behind the stands of the World Cup pitch.
“Hey squirt,” Charlie teased, sitting down next to her. “I just came from the hospital ward, Harry’s fine…How’s the hand?” he questioned.
“Fine, I haven’t hurt it…” she answered in confusion.
“Thought you might have strained it showing off that ring,” he nudged her with his shoulder.
“Pratt…Is that the guy way of saying you want to see the ring without having to resort to the very unmanly task of asking to see it?”
“Yes,” he grumbled with a smile, taking her hand gently in his and studying the ring. “Wheeeew, it’s…wow…it’s beautiful,” he said with heartfelt consideration, studying the ring as it glittered in the last rays of sunlight.
“Yeah,” she answered letting her hand fall back to her lap when her brother released his hold on it.
“So, are you ready to be Ginny Potter now?”
“Yes…” she pulled her brother into a crushing hug. “I’m getting all three Charlie, all three!”
He hugged his little sister back. “I know, congrats sis.” He kissed her forehead softly. “Love you.”
“Love you too Charlie.” She kissed his cheek.
The memory wisped away leaving Harry and Ginny alone again in the kitchen, sanding over the small stone pensieve.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t at that match Ginny, I…”
He didn’t finish the sentence because Ginny interrupted him with a brief kiss.
“Harry, I know. We talked about it that night in the tent. I understand, and I forgave you for it, just like you forgave me for shutting you out of my life that summer. It’s in the past,” she said soothingly.
“Memories from that summer and fall still bring up a surge of emotion when I see them,” Harry said, deftly swirling the tip of his wand through the pensieve to collect the memory so he could return it to its bottle.
“I expect they always will,” Ginny added.
Harry nodded in agreement. “Yeah, well one more to go then.” He pulled the stopper from the bottle, letting the next memory slide gracefully into the bowl.
Holding hands the couple fell into the next memory.
The large room was bordered by ancient mirrors on three walls. Different pictures and news articles from The Daily Prophet had been affixed to the mirrors with sticking charms or spellotape. The fourth wall had a few cabinets against it and four or five beds partially hidden by white linen screens. All of the beds lay empty. A lone dark haired wizard paced nervously concentrating fully on a muggle bubblegum wrapper held tightly in his hand.
“Room of Requirement,” Harry said, quickly determining their location. “But it’s not the same as when I ran the DA, there are beds and cabinets full of potions.”
“That’s because this is the year you were chasing horcruxes. It was bigger since we had more people, and the beds and potions were for after detentions.
The door to the room opened and a slightly built witch gasped as she fell through the door, and leaned on the wall to support herself.
“It’s about time!” Neville shot at the girl. “I’ve been worried to death.”
“S-rry,” the girl gasped, spitting up blood that dripped to the floor, pooling at her feet. “I got caught by Pansy and her little coven, six on one. When I made it past them they shouted and Amycus came around and saw me.”
Live Harry shuddered, as the battered girl looked up to face Neville. It was Ginny. “GIN!”
Ginny gripped his hand. “I know, but it looked worse than it was.”
“I doubt that, you’re spitting up blood!” He countered.
“Harry, I’m fine, just watch. I know why this is here, and as you can tell, it won’t all be pretty.”
“She crucio’d me and the seven of them dragged me down to the dungeons for a quick detention.” Ginny limped further into the room, one foot twisted at an odd angle, and she winced any time she put weight on it.
She was closer now and the deep bruises on her face showed, her lightly freckled nose lay swollen and pushed to one side, her lips were split and she was missing a front tooth.
“Gin…oh Gin…” Harry pulled live Ginny protectively into his embrace.
“I’m okay Harry, this is just a memory,’ she tried to soothe him.
“Here,” Neville hurried to her, stooping to let her rest her arm across his shoulder, supporting her weight. Neville helped her to the nearest bed and then flicked his wand at the bubblegum wrapper. “I just signaled Padma, she’ll be here soon to help you.”
“Padma?” Harry questioned Ginny, still holding her protectively.
“She was best at healing charms. I was a close second, but you can’t do them on yourself very well,” Ginny explained.
“Episkey!” Neville cast the healing charm on Ginny’s bruises and cuts. And only moments later Padma rushed into the room.
“I was already on my way up here. Sir Cadogan told me about Ginny coming back from detention, knew I’d be needed.” She helped Ginny to lie back on the bed and undid her shirt. Soon Ginny’s broken ribs and ankle were swollen and pink, but healing nicely. Her nose had taken two spells to get back right, and had stopped bleeding.
Ginny sat up, and nodded towards Neville. “The troops are here.” The room was becoming more crowded as the more and more people came in for the day’s lesson. Ginny hastily buttoned her blouse and stood shakily.
“Okay there Ginny?” Luna asked.
“Yes,” she rasped. “Aguamenti!” and she sipped cool water from the spray emitting from the end of her wand. She stood up straight, grimacing at the lingering soreness in her ribs.
“Quiet!” Neville commanded and the room hushed. “I’ll do most the talking today, Ginny just got back from detention.” The room’s occupants nodded, understanding exactly what detention meant.
“So first, please don’t go anywhere alone, they jumped Ginny six on one. Always in pairs, Understood?” The room as a whole nodded yes. “Ginny, promise me…you’re the worst of the bunch and you know you’re their biggest target,” he implored.
“Okay, I’ll do better. I promise,” Ginny said.
“Why are we even doing this? I for one am tired of getting beaten up, and sent to detention just because I know her.” The boy pointed to Ginny, “or you.” He pointed to Neville. A few others grumbled in agreement, but most were angered by the sentiment.
“Look you little twit, I…” Neville began.
“Stop!” Ginny commanded, and Neville immediately did so.
“It’s a fair question. It is, and I won’t belittle you for asking it. It’s Gregory right, you’re a Hufflepuff?” Ginny limped forward. “Knowing me puts you in danger, there’s no way I can deny that. What I do, teaching this class, tormenting the Carrows, supporting Harry, every single thing I do makes the target on my back bigger. It makes them hate me more every day. And believe me there are days I want to hide from the world. In fact, some days I do just that.”
Ginny looked around at the students gathered before her. “But hiding isn’t going to solve our problem, and make no mistake it is our problem. The ministry is not here to protect us, the Aurors have been corrupted, and those teachers loyal to the Order have been clamped down to the point of uselessness. We, the people in this room, are the ones who have to handle this mess they call a school.” The crowd was now silent.
“School,” she chuckled, “Yeah we’re learning, aren’t we. But we aren’t learning useful things like turning rabbits into teakettles, or charms to correct misspellings in our homework. No, we’re learning how to set broken bones, and the best wand movement to use when healing a cut to leave as little scarring as possible. We’ve learned to conjure a patronus to protect us, shield charms and more hexes and curses than any other class in school history. And we’re doing it on our own, so that not only will we survive, but so those not strong enough to fight back can survive too.”
“And when school is out whether it is in spite of the war or because of it, we will not be graded by O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s. No, we’ll be graded on a more basic set of standards. Are we alive, did we stand up to be counted when others hid, did we protect the innocent or weak, did we do the best we could to make our world a better place. That is how we’ll be judged, that is how we will be remembered. So either make your stand, or walk. But if you walk, you better pray that somebody in this room is there to help you when you need it. And at some point you will need help, we all do. Neville, Seamus, even me, all of us need help.”
The room was now completely silent, nobody stepped away. After a brief time Seamus, Michael Corner and Luna began teaching a modified stunning spell to the group, now separated into groups of four and five.
Ginny limped gingerly over to the window, looking out over the snowy grounds of the school. She leaned on the thick windowsill to support her weight. Neville came to stand beside her.
“Good speech, shut ol’ Gregory up didn’t it,” Neville said.
“It’s not even Christmas yet and I’m worn out, Neville. Every part of my body hurts, I can’t sleep at night, I’m so tired.”
“I know, but you’re doing a great job leading the DA.”
“Am I, we all keep getting busted up and cursed. Every person in this room will have scars from this year…That’s my legacy, I led a bunch of kids into danger, getting them hurt, maybe killed before this is all over. Why isn’t Harry here doing this? Why did it fall on me?”
“Harry’s off fighting, doing what he needs to do, whatever it is,” Neville explained.
“Do we know that? How do we know he isn’t hiding? It’s silly to think whatever we’re doing is helping.”
“Stop it Ginny. I won’t listen to this, I understand you’re hurt, but we both know Harry is doing his best to bring down Volde- You-Know-Who,” Neville said remembering the jinx on the name.
“He just left Neville, he left without a word to me. He left me to fend for myself in this wretched hell hole of a prison they call a school, with every single Death-Eater wannabe knowing we were together. And now he’s not here. I have to defend myself, teach others and…it’s too much Neville.”
“I know it feels like the weight of the world Ginny. I feel it too, granted not as much as you, but look over there, that’s almost seventy kids that are learning how to defend themselves, to keep themselves safe, and to do what is right. And they’re learning it because of you. You matter Ginny, what you are doing matters, and if you stop the whole thing falls apart.” Neville chastised her gently.
“That doesn’t help to relieve the pressure.” She gave a brief smile before her face again returned to a tired state.
“I realize that, I just figured it might do good to remind you of why you fight so hard.”
“I fight because it’s the right thing, because I’d hate myself if I gave up, because some day Harry will come back, and I want him to be proud of what I’ve done. I may kick and scream and beat the stuffing out of him for leaving me like he did, I hate that he left me. I know why, but it hurts so much, I have these horrible nightmares, he dies in all of them…” she shook her head to clear it. “But when he does come back, I want to be able to tell him I did something to help.”
The memory faded out leaving Harry in the kitchen clutching Ginny more tightly than ever. “I know, I know, I know…” Harry whispered into her ear. She wriggled into his chest, feeling his heart racing and he squeezed her in response.
Ginny clenched her arms around Harry’s torso. “That is all in the past, love.” She kissed his neck.
“I know, but seeing it is so real, and it was such a short time ago…I was an idiot, to think they’d just leave you be. Nobody hurts you ever again, I swear it,” he promised.
“You can’t keep me hidden in the tower Harry, I’m not a princess. Yes that memory was hard to watch, but I came out of it ok, and I’m better for it.” Ginny placed a few more small kisses on his neck to reassure him.
“Gin, I love you. I’ll never stop.” He kissed her jaw and neck, then he made his way over and he kissed her ears and her cheeks softly. “You are everything to me Ginevra.”
He kissed his way to her lips where her lips greeted his enthusiastically. He slid both hands up the back of her shirt, caressing her warm skin, smooth and soft to the touch, His right hand slipped beneath the waistband of her shorts, to the ridge on her left hip, marking one of the scars left over from that year at the castle. He knelt before her and drew her shorts and knickers down just enough to expose the thin pink line of scar tissue and placed a small kiss on the raised skin.
He let the band of her shorts back up and slid his hands under the hem her shirt, lifting it on the right. The action bared another thin pink line of scar tissue, just under her right breast, below the edge of her brassiere. Harry brushed his lips across that reminder of a detention too.
He let her t-shirt fall back into place and stood up. Knowing where he was going, she tilted her head to give him access to the thin white line of a scar that ran just under her jaw line. He kissed his way to the last of her three major scars. Ginny wound her hands into his thick mop of black hair and turned his face to hers. She kissed him forcefully, slipping her tongue past his lips. She used his shoulders for support and wrapped her legs around his waist, never breaking the string of kisses.
Harry moaned his appreciation as he walked her back to the bedroom. Harry stopped by the side of the bed and Ginny fell on her back across the top of the bedding. Harry kissed the bit of exposed stomach showing above her shorts when her t-shirt rode up a touch.
Ginny giggled, “Hey, that tickled!”
Harry grinned up at her, after all that was the reason he had kissed that particular spot. His smile was replaced by a look of love. “I love you Gin.”
“Prove it,” she said with a teasing smile. And as expected he did just that.
The room was now dark; their romantic adventures had subsided a good two hours ago. He was now lying on his side; Ginny was spooned up against him, her back to his front. Both Harry’s arms wrapped firmly around Ginny’s body protectively, and she was softly snoring, blissfully asleep.
“G’night Gin, nobody will ever hurt you again.” He sealed the whispered promise with a kiss to her bare shoulder.
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