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After the Horcrux by Manwe Valarian
Chapter 37 : Easter Traditions
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 20


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Petunia Dursley hustled between the clothing racks and displays with precision of a seasoned shopper. She had clutched in her one hand her Easter dress. She has once again managed to find a suitable dress for more than fifty percent off the regular price. It has become an Easter tradition for her to go to a department store on Saturday afternoon scour the sales racks for something new to wear to church tomorrow.

Not only was acquiring a dress for a bargain at the last minute important to her, but the time that she spent was also factored in. Today, she might have set a record. She has been shopping for only thirty minutes. Years of doing this had helped with the process. She now knows which stores have the best sales and also where the discount clothes are displayed. She should have enough time when she gets home to finish all the preparations for tomorrow’s dinner. This day couldn’t have progressed better.

Gone are the days when she went to the stores and spent time to shop. Vernon appreciates that she isn’t one of these women who spend all day looking at and trying on clothes, only to buy none. Of course that would be preferred to women who spent their husband’s hard earned money on dresses that they only wear once. Vernon will be happy with the price she is paying for this new dress, and she will wear a shawl to cover up the stain on the shoulder. No one tomorrow will notice the difference, and compliment her on her nice new Easter dress.

As she moved around shoppers trying on various accessories, she thought back to her youth. She and Lily used to do that on rainy days. Mum and Dad would bring them into London and they would spend all day playing dress up for them and each other. That was when she was young and didn’t realize how annoying she and her sister were being. Even though they spent the afternoon laughing, it was annoying to the other shoppers who wanted to buy clothes.

Still, she couldn’t help but to smile when she remembered those times with her sister. If she hadn’t been so jealous of Lily growing up, life might have been different. Not that it is all that bad now, but her little sister might still be alive. Lily had always been the one that everyone gushed about. Even in grammar school the boys all wanted to be around her, and the girls were all her friends. It became a little annoying knowing that everyone always admired Lily and her long red hair, sparkling green eyes, cute face, petite build, and her bubbly little laugh.

A sound to Petunia’s left made her stop walking. She looked to her left when she heard that laugh, that bubbly happy laugh. That was when she saw it, for a brief second, a swish of red hair moved between two racks of clothes. She stood there shocked wondering if she had imagined hearing the laugh that sounded so much like Lily’s. If it had been just the laugh, but she saw the long red hair flowing behind a petite girl or woman. She couldn’t tell how old she was, but she was attired similar to how Lily had dressed when she was older. She had a knit hat on and a long lose knit scarf. Lily used to love wearing things like that.

Petunia found her direction changing, as she walked towards the specter of her sister. As she peered around the clothing racks she saw her. The redhead was wearing sunglasses now and was looking at them in a mirror on a kiosk. She couldn’t see her eyes, but her features are strikingly similar to her sisters. Then she did it. She let out a giggly laugh, one that bubbles with joy and happiness, just like Lily used to.

Almost against her will, Petunia walked up behind this girl. It looked to be a girl; she couldn’t be any older than Dudders. The closer she got to her. The more similarities she had with Lily, when she was older. They way she exuded confidence, the way she beamed happiness from her face, and the way her smile made every boy want to be friends with her. Petunia never really talked to her in those years, those lost years, but she watched her sister. The local boys used to ask Petunia about Lily, if she might fancy them. It was a bitter pill to have to listen to the same boys that Petunia wanted to date beg her for a chance at her sister. If she hadn’t been so jealous then, then maybe things would have been better for all.

The mystery girl saw her staring at her in the mirror, and turned to face her. “Excuse me,” she said in that pretty little voice. “Can I help you?”

Petunia’s voice failed her as she tried to remember Lily’s face and not the one in front of her. They can’t be the same, but maybe it was magic. That was it; could it really be Lily back by magic? “Yes, who are you?” Suddenly Petunia clutched onto her purse and new dress as James Potter stepped out from the other side of the kiosk.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Ginny stared at this strange middle-aged woman in front of her. She had seen this lady watching her from the mirror. She was tall, gaunt, blonde, and had a face like a horse. She also looked as if she might faint or have a seizure. She was clutching on to her large handbag and the floral print dress so tight her knuckles were white.

“Excuse me, can I help you,” Ginny asked, but the lady continued to stare.

“Yes, who are you?” the lady asked, then suddenly clutched her purse and dress tighter, as she seemed to sway.

“Aunt Petunia?” asked Harry. Ginny turned and looked at Harry, who had walked around the kiosk. When she looked back at this woman, she had suddenly straightened up and stared at Harry and her differently.

“Harry, thank heavens that is you,” she said, as if a burden was suddenly lifted off her chest. “What are you doing in a store like this?”

“Ginny and I are doing some shopping. She is home from school for Easter break.”

The woman, Harry’s Aunt Petunia, looked appraisingly at Ginny then back to Harry. “I am just here buying my Easter dress. I must get going. Work to be done at home. I must get things ready for tomorrow’s meal, and then make sure the house is clean. Harry,” she said with an awkward nod. “Ginny, is it.”

Harry jumped a little as Ginny elbowed him in the ribs. “Oh, I forgot to properly introduce you. This is Ginny Weasley, my fiancé. Ginny, my Aunt Petunia.”

Ginny reached out her left hand to shake with her, so that she could see the ring. Aunt Petunia’s eyes weren’t on her hand, but her own eyes. Ginny realized that she still had sunglasses on and Petunia couldn’t see what colour they were. With her free hand, she slid the dark glasses down the bridge of her nose showing Aunt Petunia her chocolate brown eyes. The woman seemed to breathe a sigh of relief seeing Ginny’s eye colour.”

“Pleased to meet you, Ginny,” Aunt Petunia graciously said. “Well, I must be off if I want to get everything done today. Happy Easter, Harry, Ginny,” she said before backing away.

“Happy Easter, Aunt Petunia, tell Dudley I’ll write him soon as the holiday is over,” he said to her retreating back. After his Aunt left, he turned to her,” that was rather unexpected, don’t you think.”

“Yes, it was. I think she saw a ghost, Harry.”

“What ghost?”

“Me. She was looking at me very strangely, as if I was somebody who wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Harry turned to face her. He gently held both of her shoulders, “I am not marrying you because you look like my mother, Ginny. Besides, looking like her isn’t a bad thing is it?”

Pulling Harry’s hands off her shoulders, she kissed him on the cheek, “No it isn’t. Now, let’s change the subject to what we are doing here. We are supposed to be buying you clothes to wear, not me.”

“But you look so much better trying on clothes than what I do,” he said trying to talk his way out of buying clothes.

“No you don’t,” she snapped at him, and grabbed his hand and dragged him off to the men’s section.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

The London evening was cool and moist. There was a fine mist in the chilly air that made people wear extra warm jackets, but on the upper deck of an open topped double-decker bus sat Ginny and Harry, alone. She was wrapped up in the long loose-knit scarf and hat he bought her this afternoon. The light mist was making her face and clothes wet. She could have cast an Impervious Charm, but the cool misty air seemed to add to the romance of the night. They had just come from dinner with Bill, Fleur, Ron, and Hermione. Those four were down on the lower level of the bus. Their spirit of adventure has definitely left them in their old age. Ginny could forgive Bill and Fleur. She was eight months pregnant and he was staying with her. Ron and Hermione, those two are a different story. They couldn’t see all the marvelous lights the city of London had to offer down there in the enclosed area. Sitting here cuddled next to Harry watching the night life of London pass you by, was a perfect romantic evening to Ginny.

In many ways, Ginny was glad the others were on the lower level, because when she gets the urge to snog Harry. She doesn’t need to worry about offending her squeamish brothers. That urge has been building in her all day. He took her shopping this afternoon in both Diagon Alley and Muggle London. They had a wonderful dinner with everyone, and now he is taking her to the Hard Rock Café.

She enjoyed seeing the varied expressions that Ron and Hermione made when that place was mentioned. Ron got a goofy grin, while Hermione wore a scowl. Ginny can’t wait. It sounds like an outrageous and fun place to go. Just thinking about Harry taking her places like this causes the ‘urge’ to get stronger.

She looked over at him and watched the moisture running off his pale face. His emerald eyes staring into hers made her pulse quicken. After seeing his Aunt Petunia, Harry talked to her about why he wants to marry her. Even though he didn’t necessarily say it in the most eloquent manner, he still convinced her that he loves her for being her.

Ginny leaned over more so that she was practically sitting on his lap. She pressed her lips to his, reveling in the warmth of them. Running her fingers through his hair, she deepened the kiss. Harry responded at first, then hesitated, and finally continued in a subdued manner.

Since returning, he has been almost afraid to touch her without expressed permission. Even though she truly appreciated his respect and caution, she still missed the times when he would grab her and snog her senseless. If she had never had the experiences with Harry, before Walden attacked her, then she might not be so trusting of him. However, he would never hurt her, and she had asked him to stop in the past when they were snogging and more. He always did. His respect means the world to her now, and had helped her heal from Walden’s attempted rape.

Ginny moved again and now she was straddling Harry on the seat. She slid her hips forward to press her body closer to his. She felt his hesitation to wrap his arms around her and pull her tight against him. She missed that aspect of their relationship. Ginny broke the kiss and leaned her forehead against his. “What’s wrong, Harry?”

“Nothing is wrong. Why do you ask?”

“You don’t seem to want to snog me, tonight,” she said as she stared into his eyes. She saw him react the way she thought he would. He seemed unsure and hesitant.

“I was concerned, with all that has happened to you…”

“You mean when Walden tried to rape me,” she said cutting him off.

“Yes, Ginny, I want you to feel comfortable and confident that I would never do that,” he said, stressing the last five words.

“I do trust you, Harry. I always have. You have already proven yourself to me. I never felt like an object with you, and you always respect my wishes and stop, if I ask. That type of faith in you helped me heal after his attack. I knew that all men were not like that, because I have one that loves and respects me.” Ginny stopped talking and stared at him looking to see if he understood what she said. “When you hold me tight, I don’t feel afraid, Harry”

She kissed his forehead. “I feel safe.”

She kissed his nose. “I feel protected.”

She kissed his lips for a second. “I feel loved, so please hold me.”

She kissed him again, but this time he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tight to his body. She could feel his emotions flow through his body to hers. It was like stepping from the shade into the warm summer sunshine.

“Oi!” shouted Ron, from the stairwell. “Will you two stop it? We need to get off the blasted bus.”

Ginny pulled her face away from Harry’s and stared into his eyes. She saw the overwhelmed and dazed look he gets from a good snogging session. It had been months since she saw that look in his eyes. He had been very cautious and noble with her since his return. This was the first time he had relaxed with her and her bloody brother had to interrupt it. “We will be down,” shouted Ginny. “Bloody tosser,” she mumbled under her breath, which brought a chuckle from Harry.

Ginny stood up and took Harry’s hand and led him off the bus. They moved in with the other four who were waiting in line to get in the Cafe. Ginny saw that the place served food. “We could have eaten here, Harry.”

He chuckled under his breath, “With Ron, we probably will.”

They stood in line for several minutes to get in. This day in Muggle London, made Ginny realize one major difference between Muggles and the Magical community. No one stared at Harry and her. More people were looking at Bill’s scars and Fleur’s radiant beauty, then Harry. Here, he is just another person, unlike in a magical location in England where everyone gapes at him. Ginny enjoyed having Harry all to herself, and not to have to share him with everyone around them.

When they stepped inside, her eyes lit up with excitement as she stared at the interior. It was filled with people. They seemed to be wall to wall. The walls themselves were completely covered with pictures and musical instruments. The lights blinked and reflected off of highly polished surfaces all around them, as they bumped and moved through the crowd. One could barely talk to the person next to them as the music seemed to thump through them.

Bill was in the lead and was trying to push his way through the crowd. Many of the people seemed to be dancing and moving to the music where they were standing not even bothering to go to the dance floor. People kept bumping into Ginny as she followed in line behind Fleur, who was behind Bill. Harry was behind Ginny, and placed his hands protectively on her waist. The last man who bumped into her tried to chat her up.

Ginny was so mesmerized by her surroundings that she bumped into Fleur when she stopped. They were somewhere near the dance floor. Bill had turned and tried to get everyone to circle around him. Harry, Hermione, and Ron bunched in tight to them.

“I can’t see any booths available,” screamed Bill, trying to be heard over the music. Even though Ginny was within an arms length of him, she still could barely hear him. “Why don’t you wait here, I’ll get the first round.” Harry reached in his pocket for money, but Bill ignored him and walked away.

Ginny looked at everyone’s facial expressions. Fleur seemed peaceful and serene. Ron and Harry both had giddy smiles on their faces, but Hermione looked like a mouse in the Hogwarts Owlery. “Having fun, yet, Hermione,” shouted Ginny.

Her bushy-haired friend turned to look at Ginny, and pointed to her ears, while speaking. It sounded like she said she couldn’t hear. Ginny couldn’t resist the chance to have a little fun at Hermione’s expense. So she again asked the same question, but quieter while cupping her hands around her mouth and pretending to be shouting. Ron noticed this, and smiled as Hermione again shook her head and pointed to her ears. Ginny was going to do it one more time when someone grabbed Harry and hugged him.

She didn’t need to see the girls face. She could tell by her build and her long straight raven hair that it was Cho Chang. Ginny’s hand twitched to her wand, but Ron caught her hand and held it tight. She wasn’t going to curse Harry. He was standing there with his arms out to his sides, while that slag had her face buried in his shoulder and her arms around her neck. She tugged to pull her arm away from Ron, but he wouldn’t let go.

Harry pushed Cho away from him. It was obvious that she had been drinking for some time. Her face was slightly flushed, and her eyes were glassy and slightly bloodshot. Suddenly Ginny couldn’t hear the music anymore. The only sounds that she was hearing were Harry and Cho’s conversation.

“Harry, happy Easter,” exclaimed Cho. Her words were slightly slurred.

“Happy Easter, Cho, Have you met everyone else,” answered Harry coldly, as he gestured towards everyone standing there.

Cho looked around and blushed when she made eye contact with Ginny. “Congratulations Ginny, I saw your engagement announcement. Front page of the Prophet, that is impressive,” Cho clumsily said.

“You did. I never would have guessed,” hissed Ginny venomously. “How’s Michael?”

Cho recognized the hatred in Ginny’s voice and stepped back from Harry. “Michael. Michael Corner, we broke up back in the summer. It was a mutual thing,” she nervously said.

“I never expected to see you in a place like this, Cho,” interjected Hermione. “Being a Muggle place and all.”

Cho looked at Hermione sheepishly. “I came here with a friend.” She turned and pointed off to another place in the bar. “We come here on occasions. It seems all the good ones at the other places are already taken.”

Ginny bristled at her comment, as it seemed to be directed at Harry being taken. “I just got accepted onto the Holyhead Harpies, Cho,” sneered Ginny. “I am going to enjoy crushing the Tornados.”

A cowered Cho looked at everyone before waving goodbye and melting back into the crowd. When she was leaving, she bumped into Bill, who was returning empty handed.

“Hey, follow me,” he shouted. “I found us a couple of seats at the bar.” He grabbed Fleur’s hand and pulled her into the crowd. Everyone else followed them, until they came to the bar. A man and a woman stood up and Bill gave them some money as they abandoned their seats. Fleur took one seat, but no one else sat on the second one. Ginny was sticking to Harry’s side; after all, Cho seemed to come out of thin air.

Bill reluctantly took the other barstool and started passing shot glasses to everyone, but Fleur. After everyone had a glass, he stood up and proposed a toast, “Here is to the two youngest Weasley’s and their future spouses. Welcome to the family.”

Everyone downed the shot together; Ginny could feel the liquor burn down her throat, and she noted a distinct flavor of licorice. She looked over and Hermione was choking while Ron patted her back. Bill let out a hearty laugh that seemed to have a bit of a barking sound to it. “The first one is always the toughest, Hermione. So let’s have another,” he declared and turned to catch the bartender’s attention. In what seemed like only a second he had another round of shots for everyone.

“What is this stuff,” asked Hermione.

“Something that is popular in the eastern Mediterranean, it is an anise liquor. Keeps you warm on a chilly night, but it isn’t like they need that over there,” explained Bill as he passed out the glasses. “It doesn’t seem right to have one toast when two people have gotten engaged. So, same toast as last time; bottoms up.”

Everyone again downed the shot. Ginny could feel the liquor warming her up inside. Bill was right. The second one was better than the first. “So what is the third one like?” asked Ginny with a lopsided smile.

Bill wagged a finger at her. “Oh no you don’t, at least not yet. You don’t need to get pissed this early in the evening, baby girl.”

Ginny stuck out her tongue at him, which brought laughter from everyone else. “If we are done drinking, then I want to dance.” She grabbed Harry’s hand and dragged him in the direction that she thought the dance floor was.

She gave up trying to find the actual dance floor and found an opening in the crowd and turned to him and started to move to the music. It wasn’t the most elegant dance, but it made her feel good to move next to him. They both held each other’s hands while moving to the sound of the music. It was nothing like she had ever heard before, but that didn’t make her not want to dance. Soon the only thing she was thinking about was the rhythm of the music, and having Harry move in unison with her.

She kept closing her eyes and imagining that they were alone, not in the middle of a crowded bar. She would open her eyes to see Harry smiling down at her. His expression was one of happiness and serenity. It made her feel good that he was probably very happy. He was having the type of moment that so many people take for granted; dancing with his fiancé on a date. This is what this man, this hero, has always wanted from life, not being responsible for saving the entire world.

Ginny released her grip on his hands and stepped in to hug him. Even as she tightened her hug around his chest, she still swayed to the music. The music was a fast driving beat, but they were holding each other and slowly swaying to their own song. He held her tight against him as he moved. Laying her ear to his chest she listened to another beat, his heart. Even through the loud booms of the music and the noise of the crowd, she could still hear the steady thumping rhythm of his heart.

Ginny didn’t know how long they danced together nor did she care. She wanted to make up for all the days when they were apart at Christmas, and all the days in the future that she won’t be able to hold him. It seemed too cruel to live like that, but she did understand that they each have opportunities and commitments that keep them apart. She knows that he will always be there for her. He won’t be leaving her. As though she needed to remind herself, she twisted the ring on her finger. Harry was too noble to ignore the commitment that he has made.

A familiar voice interrupted them, “Excuse me Harry, I would like to dance with my sister,” said Bill.

“You do?” asked a shocked Ginny.

“Yes. I do,” replied Bill, who found her comment rather amusing.

Harry stopped dancing and stepped away from Ginny, breaking the magical moment she was having. “Sure, I’ll be at the bar,” he said, before leaving he bent down and kissed her.

Bill placed a hand on her hip and took her hand and started dancing or slowly moving on the floor. She could see his eyes were bloodshot and it smelled as if he had had a couple more drinks as the smell of licorice was strong on his breath.

“I have a hard time thinking of you as a beautiful woman, Ginny,” he said, while staring at her. “I can still remember that precocious little spitfire that you were when I was still living at home. You always seemed to be missing a tooth, had a dirty face, and at least one scraped elbow or knee.” He stopped talking and laughed. “If it wasn’t for your long hair, we would have told everyone that you were a boy. Who would have thought that you would have turned into such beautiful woman?”

“Bill,” Ginny said in a stern voice, “You’re married. I’m engaged, and this is so bloody wrong.”

Bill through his head back and laughed. “You always have been cheeky, sis.” He became silent and stared back off the direction that Harry had gone. “I’ve been talking to Harry, about you.”

Ginny stopped dancing and pulled away from him. “What did you say?” she hissed. “Life is difficult enough with us without my family interfering…”

Bill held up a hand to stop her rant. “Calm down, all right, let me finish, you have no idea how hard this is for me.” Ginny calmed down and they went back to the pretense of dancing. Bill sighed and looked at her for a second, before speaking again, “You fiancé is a wonderful man. Whenever he talks about you, his eyes light up. The subject of your sleeping arrangements was brought up. I told him it was because we had heard the two of you shared a bed the first night back at Hogwarts.”

“We didn’t shag, Bill,” spat Ginny. “I was cut up about returning to that place. Remembering Fred and all the friends that I lost there, he was comforting me that night. Why is it that everyone immediately thinks we were shagging.”

“Calm down, Ginny,” soothed Bill. “He told me all that, and more.”

“What more was there?”

“He told me that you were crying and didn’t want to be alone that night. He said that he held you and comforted you trying to take away your pain. When he was talking about that night, Ginny, was when his eyes lit up. He told me that that night he realized what loving someone was about. It was about being there for them, helping them, comforting them, and loving every second of it. I remember that well because of the look on his face. He was talking straight from his heart, sis. He truly meant it.”

Ginny was fighting back the tears in her eyes. They weren’t from sadness, but from hearing what Harry had said to her brother. That night he was there for her, he offered a shoulder to cry on and never asked anything in return. Yet, because of that night, everyone, her family and the students at Hogwarts think they shagged. If all of them only knew what really happened that night.

Bill cleared his throat and looked even more awkward. “I realize we all have misjudged you two about that night. I also know that Harry isn’t going to chuck you to the side and move on. He wants to spend the rest of his life with you, sis, and I couldn’t think of a better man.” He cleared his throat again. “I can’t believe I am saying this, but here it goes. If you don’t want to go home to the Burrow, you could spend the night at Shell Cottage. I’ll deal with Mum and Dad.”

“What?” asked a shocked Ginny. She had stopped moving and stared at her eldest brother.

“I am not telling you I want you two to shag. But – but I want Silencing Charms, and you need to talk to Fleur,” he hastily said. “If you even would want to do that, it is your decision.” He let out a long sigh. “I know what it is like to love someone. Whenever I am not with Fleur, I feel hollow, like I am not complete. In a month you will be leaving on an around the world tour with the Harpies, and Harry will be here trying to save us from Dark Wizards. I just know that if I was in your place, I would want to spend every second with the one I love.”

Ginny stood there and stared at her brother. She couldn’t think of anything to say to him. So she kissed his cheek. “Thank you for understanding, big brother.”

“Come one, dancing with my sister really isn’t any fun, to be truthful about it. We need to get back and you need to talk to Fleur.”

“What do I need to talk to her about?”

“As I said, you may not want to, but in case you do, are you prepared?” he cryptically said with a raised eyebrow. Ginny realizing what he meant blushed furiously.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Harry pushed his way through the crowd back to the spot at the bar where Fleur, Hermione and Ron was. Fleur was sitting at the bar looking too beautiful for a woman eight months pregnant. Men kept eyeing her up, but Ron would almost growl at them, making them move on. Ron and Hermione both had beers in their hands. Hermione was now actually smiling and enjoying herself. It looked like Ron had been able to get her to loosen up a little.

When they saw Harry returning, Ron turned to the bar and bought a beer for him. He met Harry before he even made it back to Hermione and Fleur. “Let’s go and talk, mate,” said a slightly drunk Ron, as he handed Harry the beer and put an arm around his shoulder. They moved back into the crowd away from the others.

“Ron, I really don’t want to dance with you. I don’t think this is that type of place,” joked Harry. He was wondering what his best mate was wanting, as he sipped on his beer.

“Ha ha Harry, I have no intention of dancing with you,” laughed Ron. “Besides, Hermione would get jealous. She is funny like that.”

“Damn good of her too,” responded Harry.

Ron looked sheepishly at Harry for a second then down at the floor and everywhere but at his face. “Look, mate, I know, I have been an arse towards you at times.”

“What are best mates for,” replied Harry.

Ron laughed at his comment. “She is my little sister, mate. I just realized that – well – that you’re serious about her and all.”

“I have told you that I never wanted to hurt her, Ron. I didn’t want to put her in danger.”

“I know. I know. Look, I can’t think of any way of saying this, but to come out and say it. If you don’t want to go to Shell Cottage tonight, and Ginny doesn’t want to go to the Burrow, then, well, we have a spare room,” he nervously said, while turning three different shades of red. “I want Silencing Charms, Harry. I don’t want to hear that.”

Harry stood there in shock at what Ron had just told him. “Hermione told you to do this, didn’t she?”

“No, not really, well not exactly,” he stuttered out. “All right, maybe she suggested it strongly, but I need to realize that you two are meant for each other.” He put his arm around Harry’s shoulders and turned towards the bar again, before stopping again. “I don’t want to hear about you bragging about it to anyone either.” He stated dangerously to Harry, while pointing his finger in his face.

“You don’t need to worry about that, mate,” laughed Harry. He walked to the bar with Ron.

When they reached Hermione and Fleur, Ron went to stand next to his fiancé. She put her arm around Ron’s waist and looked up into his eyes for a moment. It looked to Harry as though they had a private conversation without even saying a word, because she smiled and hugged him closer, before turning to Harry. “So Harry are you coming over tonight?” she asked him.

Harry felt embarrassed by her question, leaned down next to her ear, and said, “I think that is up to Ginny to decide.”

“I think we can say that is a yes,” responded Hermione slyly. “Here she comes now.”

Harry turned and saw Ginny and Bill emerging from the crowd. When she made eye contact with him, her facial expression changed slightly. He couldn’t tell what it was about her, but she was different, more alluring, if that is possible. Before she could reach Harry, Bill stepped between them and nodded to Fleur, who left the bar stool and grabbed Ginny’s hand. The two women waved as they disappeared into the crowd. Harry stood there confused by what just happened. He felt a hand land on his shoulder and turned to see it was Bill’s.

“A little hint Harry. Women never go to the bathroom alone,” Bill informed him. “Hey, how about a shot?”

“That’s all right Bill, I’ve got a beer.”

Bill pulled Harry towards the bar by the shoulders. “No excuses, Harry. You are going to have another. After all, we need to drink to the Potter Restitution Law. That new law will hurt those arrogant Pure-bloods where they will feel it the most.” Bill turned to call the bartender down to him. He ordered up two more shots, and handed one to Harry. “Here is to the man who set our world right again,” toasted Bill, before he downed the shot.

Harry did the same thing, but not as enthusiastically. Bill wiped his lips with the back of his hand, and stared groggily at Harry. “Harry,” he slurred heavily. “Ginny loves you. She loves you more than anything else in this world.” Bill stopped talking as he seemed to lose focus and swagger a little. “Don’t hurt her. She might be tough as dragon scales on the surface, but you could crush her. In here,” he pointed to his heart.

“I have no intention to hurt her, Bill,” pleaded Harry confused by Bill’s comments. “I thought you knew that. We talked about her this week. You know how I feel…”

“You can still hurt her.” He stopped and glared at him with his bloodshot eyes. “I don’t care if you have saved the world. I will hurt you if it is the last thing I do.”

“But – but Bill.”

Bill seemed to soften his look. “Harry, be gentle with her. Please,” his tone turned to almost begging.

“Yeah, sure, don’t worry. I won’t hurt her. I love her. You don’t hurt the one you love...” Harry stopped when someone touched his back and he recognized Ginny’s flowery scent even through the odors of alcohol and perfume.

“Come on Harry let’s dance some more,” requested Ginny, her voice was lower suggestive.

Harry nodded to Bill who was leaning against the bar, with Fleur reprimanding him for getting destroyed. Ron and Hermione smiled at Harry as he left with Ginny to dance again. When Ginny stopped pulling him through the crowd, she turned, pulled him in to her, and attacked his lips. Harry was so confused by everything that has happened tonight that at first he stood there as her tongue slid in his mouth. Putting everything else out of his mind he pulled her close and intensified his kiss. They stood there in the middle of the busy dance floor intensely snogging, without caring who saw them. Ginny eventually pulled away from him.

“I love you, Harry,” Ginny huskily spoke into his ear. Then started to feather kisses down his neck.

“I love you too, Ginny,” groaned Harry, trying to keep his emotions under control. “What is going on with Bill?”

Ginny stopped kissing his neck and pulled away from him and smiled. “He is having a difficult time with me growing up,” she happily said. “At least he is accepting it, unlike the rest of my family. Harry,” she stopped and placed a hand on his cheek to look him in the eye. “He told me that if we would want to. We could stay at Shell Cottage tonight.”

“Shell cottage?” a confused Harry started to ask, before he realized what she meant. He snorted with humor at the situation. Only to see Ginny give him a hurt look, “No, don’t be upset, love,” he pleaded. “Ron just told me a little bit ago that we could use their spare room tonight.”

Ginny stared at him for a second, before her hurt look changed to a huge smile. They stood there holding on to each other laughing about the situation. “My brothers can be such prats,” Ginny laughed into his chest.

Harry gently kissed the top of her head. When she looked up, he kissed her forehead and worked his way down to her lips. For several minutes they snogged, before Harry pulled away, and asked her, “Do you want to stay at one of the places?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you wanted to wait until we are married?” Harry asked.

“Do you Harry?” she asked him.

Harry was caught off guard by her question. He didn’t but if she still did. “I promised you that…”

“That is not what I asked,” pressed Ginny.

Harry hesitated for a second. “No, I don’t, but I won’t unless you…”

His words were stopped by Ginny’s lips on his. After a few seconds, she pulled away, “Yes, Harry I do. I couldn’t be more committed to you after we are bonded then I am now, and I feel that you are that committed to me also. You are committed to me aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” he said into her ear. They held each other close and moved slowly as more vigorous dancers kept bumping into them. “What did Fleur want with you?”

Ginny looked up at him. Her face was slightly flushed, “She gave me a potion, to be safe.”

“Safe?”asked Harry, before he realized what she meant. He remembered what Bill said to him about being gentle with her, and a lump filled his throat. He was starting to get nervous about what was going to happen. Now, he wasn’t sure if he was ready for this. What would happen if he makes a fool of himself?

“Harry,” Ginny said nervously. “I hope I can make you happy tonight.”

Harry almost laughed at her statement, but decided she might misinterpret his laughter. “You could never disappoint me, love,” he reassured her. She relaxed back next to his body. Harry could feel her curves press against him, and his longing for her only increased. “Besides, I can assure you that you will be best I ever had.”

Ginny laughed into his neck, “That will be true for both of us, you prat?”

They spent the rest of the evening dancing and occasionally stopping by the bar to get a drink. They even danced apart a couple of times, but most of the night was spent in each other’s arms. Bill had sobered up some, because Fleur had stopped him from drinking. The three couples left the establishment at around two in the morning laughing and joking with each other.

They walked about a block and a half and had taken a couple turns trying to find a place where Muggles wouldn’t see them call the Night Bus.

“Harry,” Hermione spoke up. “You and Ginny could probably walk over to our place, if you don’t want to Apparate.”

“Zey are coming to Shell Cottage,” countered Fleur. “Aren’t you?”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other and realized they never settled on which offer to take. When they did that, the other four realized what had happened and started to laugh at the circumstances.

“Harry, do you know Silencing Charms that will still allow me to hear the ocean?” asked Ginny.

“Yes, I do.”

“Then Shell Cottage is where we will go,” she decided.

“The ocean,” said Hermione dreamily. “That would be so romantic.”

Harry noticed that Fleur whispered something in Bill’s ear, and he turned and looked at her in shock, before conceding. “Ah – my wife reminded me that we do have two spare rooms, if everyone would be so inclined?”

Hermione looked at Ron, who seemed completely uncomfortable with the situation, but turned around and nodded a yes. Ginny started sniggering which turned into a loud laugh. Everyone stood there and looked at her as if she had gone mental. After she noticed that no one else was laughing, she announced, “We have a new Easter tradition in the Weasely family.”

After the laughter from Ginny’s observation died down, Ron lifted his wand up, and called the Night Bus. With a loud bang the violently purple bus appeared in front of them. A gangly redheaded man stepped out and Ginny immediately groaned and tried to hide behind Harry.

“Well, well, it’s the Weasley’s,” the worker loudly announced. “Hi there William, and Ronald, am I right, and that must be little Ginerva beside…” he stopped talking as his mouth hung open while staring at Harry. He was as tall as Ron, but thinner. His face was pointy and had long red hair that stuck out from under his hat pointing in various directions. He had a pale complexion with freckles splattered all over his face. “Bloody hell, it’s Harry potter himself. I read about my cousin getting engaged to the famous Harry Potter.” He stepped forward and started to shake Harry’s hand vigorously. “I bet my cousins have told you all about me?”

“No I am afraid with everything else going on, I mustn’t been listening,” replied Harry. He didn’t like this person. He didn’t know why, but, even though he is a Weasley, he didn’t like him.

“Brian, stop shaking Harry’s hand,” ordered Bill. “Harry, this is Brian Weasley, my first cousin. Now that you have been introduced can we get on that blasted bus?”

“Yes, yes, you may. All you need to do is pay,” he looked around to figure out what the total cost would be.

Harry handed him a Galleon, and told him to keep the change. As they were boarding, Brian kept talking about himself. Harry found out that he was a year older than Bill, and he was proud of finally landing a good long term job. It didn’t take long to realize that Ginny and her brothers really didn’t like this man either. He tried to remember if he had seen him before, and he couldn’t be sure if he was at Ginny’s seventeenth birthday party.

It was night time so the bus now had beds instead of chairs. Bill and Fleur hopped up on one bed and sat crossed legged in the middle of it. Ron and Hermione took another, while Ginny and Harry took a third. There was one other empty bed on the bottom floor, and one that had someone sleeping in it. Harry could have sworn he saw the person lean up and stare at him when he sat down with Ginny.

With a bang the bus took off, sliding the beds helter skelter around the bottom floor. When they collided, Harry nearly tumbled off. Bill, who was holding onto Fleur with his arms around her belly, laughed at him. With each turn and sudden stop or start, they would try to crash their beds together. The bus trip quickly became a game with colliding beds. The laughter of the three couples filled the bus, as Brian Weasley stared from the front of the bus.

How long they bumped around like that, Harry didn’t know or care. The air was filled with his favourite music, Ginny’s laughter. They held onto each other, occasionally stealing kisses between the collisions of their bed with the others. The laughter and the games quickly stopped though as Harry saw at one stop the person sleeping in the other bed stand up and point their wand towards him. He was in the center bed of the three, with the other two smashed up against his on each side. Ginny had her back to the person and couldn’t see what was happening. Panic took over his reflexes, as he grabbed Ginny and yelled, “Attack!” He pushed with all his might and flung them both off the bed.

Avada Kedavra!” screamed the attacker, who turned out to be a witch.

Harry felt the curse sear the air above him, and heard an explosion as it collided with the front of the bus. The bus suddenly shuddered and then spun out of control. As it did, the beds swirled around inside of it colliding with Harry and Ginny. He tried to hold on to her but they were separated when a bed hit their extended arms. The bus stopped violently with a loud bang.

Harry reached up to the top of his shirt and pulled his Holly wand. He stood up and turned his wand to cover the bus area. He was off to the side half way up the bus. No one else was standing up. Brian screamed and ran out the hole in the front left corner of the bus that the Killing curse had formed. Ernie was only a step behind him. The bus was now sitting in the Atrium of the Ministry. Harry had known that the Ministry had placed a Charm on the Bus so that if anyone used a powerful spell while on the bus it would immediately Portkey it to the Atrium, where the attacker would be trapped. He started to look around the windows for the Aurors on security duty to appear, while watching for the witch to appear.

“Harry,” screamed Ginny. “Harry where are you?” she yelled again in a panic.

Suddenly the witch stood up, she jumped up on a bed oblivious to Harry standing there, and pointed her wand at where Ginny’s voice had come from. “Avada..”

She never said more than the first sound of the killing curse as Harry’s stunner slammed into her chest. She flew backwards off the bed and collided against the back windows cracking them before falling on the floor of the bus.

As soon as his Stunner stopped her, Harry was running over top of the beds to get to her. He leaped over top of Ginny on the way. She yelled at him to stay down, but he ignored her. He had one thing in mind and that was to stop the threat of the witch. He leaped off the last bed and saw the witch lying crumpled on the floor. He kicked her wand away and bound her from head to foot with ropes.

The rest of the bus was now coming to its senses. He saw Hermione, Ron, and Ginny stand up with their wands at the ready. Bill and Fleur was nowhere to be seen, though. He heard Fleur let out a groan, and then suddenly a bed flew up in the air. Hermione quickly shot it to the side. Bill stuck his head up with his wand at the ready. “Is it safe?” he asked.

“Yes, for now,” answered Harry. “All of you need to get to the Floo system, now!” he demanded.

“No!” screamed Ginny. “You are not playing the hero, Potter.”

“I said leave, all of you,” he snapped back at her. “Fleur needs to get to St. Mungo’s, and you need to get out of here. Aurors should be here any second and we can take care of this bloody witch and secure the bus. How is she, Bill.”

Fleur almost on cue grabbed her stomach and let out loud moan. “Not good, Harry. I think she is going into labor and the baby isn’t due for another month and half,” Bill said, his voice filled with concern for his wife and unborn child.

Ginny pushed beds aside to get to Harry. “You are not staying here, where people are trying to kill you. Damn you Potter, you are coming with us,” she ordered him.

“No! I said for you to go without me, and I mean it. Remember, Hogsmeade Ginny!”

She looked as if Harry had slapped her across the face as tears formed in her eyes. She turned on her heels and marched over to Fleur. Hermione joined Ginny to help Bill with Fleur. Ron walked towards Harry, as Harry pulled his second wand. Harry was watching the steps going up to the second floor, and the area outside of the bus. He was turning around in place with each wand pointing a different direction.

“Harry, Ginny is right,” said Ron, when he got close to Harry.

“No she isn’t Ron,” he hissed t his best mate. “I wasn’t the target. Get Ginny out of here, as soon as the Aurors come.”

Ron stood there looking at Harry in shock. “Why would…”

“Get over there and protect her,” ordered Harry. “Here come two Aurors, now.”

Two Aurors came running out of the lifts towards the bus. Harry watched as they ran with their head down, not even looking for possible threats on the upper decks. If there were any more attackers up there they could have killed these two without any trouble. He was seething that two Aurors were that careless. He recognized one to be Savage. The other must have been his trainee. Harry moved forward from the stairs to meet them when they walked onto the bus. They looked through the windows, saw him, and relaxed. They didn’t even have their wands raised when they entered through the hole that was blasted in the front of the bus.

“Where have you two been?” demanded Harry. He didn’t care if these were his superiors. They were not acting as one should in this situation. “Did you see anyone on the upper decks?”

“Ah, no,” replied a puzzled Savage.

“You prats didn’t even look did you?” Harry hissed at them. “Savage, you escort this group to the Floo network. They need to go to St. Mungo’s. You come with me,” Harry said to the trainee. “We are going to the upper levels to be sure that no one else is up there to attack them.” Everyone in the bus looked at Harry in shock. “What are you looking at? We need to coordinate this. Bill, Ron, pick Fleur up and carry her to the Floo. Ginny, Hermione, Savage provide cover. Wait until we go up the stairs before you move. Everyone understand what they are to do?” When no one said anything, Harry asked them again. That time everyone nodded yes.

Harry moved to the stairwell, to get ready to run up it. The trainee was standing behind him shaking. He looked over and made eye contact with Ginny. She was glaring daggers at him. He knew there will be hell to pay later, but he didn’t care he wanted to make sure she was safe. “Let’s move,” he shouted.

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

The morning sun shining through the kitchen windows hurt Ginny’s eyes. She was preparing Apple pies today for Easter. She hasn’t been able to sleep, for worrying about Harry. The last thing she saw was him running blindly up the stairs of the Night Bus, as she was running for the Floo.

“Where the bloody hell is he,” Ginny growled under her breath.

“Ginerva, I will not have that type of language in my house, and especially from my daughter,” yelled Mrs. Weasley. “Now stop what you are doing, you are ruining the pie crust.”

Ginny looked down at the pie crust that she was rolling out, and saw that it was as thin as parchment. In a pique of anger he pushed the rolling pin and it hit the dish with extra flour for dusting the board, sending a small cloud of flour up into the air.

“Go, get away, if you are going to act like that,” demanded her mother. With a couple swishes of her wand the mess was cleaned up and she took over the chore of making fruit pies for the Easter dinner. “Why don’t you go for a kip, like Ron and Hermione?

“Where is he?” asked Ginny. “We received an Owl that everything was safe and they were questioning witnesses three hours ago. Why isn’t he home?”

“Harry is an Auror. They write a lot of reports. He might just be writing reports. Why don’t you have a Calming Draught and go for a kip,” pleaded her father.

“No, when he gets here…”

“Harry’s here with two…” Mrs. Weasley announced.

Ginny ran out the kitchen door so fast that it slammed against the outside wall. As she stormed across the garden, she saw two Aurors who were walking with Harry turn and almost run away from him. Ginny didn’t have her wand out; she deliberately left it in her bedroom, because she might throw curses in her fatigued and irritated state of mind.

“Where have you been, and don’t you ever tell me to leave like that again,” she shouted across the garden to an approaching Harry.

“Ginny, I really can’t talk until these two take Hermione, Ron, and your statements about what happened last night,” responded Harry, in a surprisingly calm voice for one who is about to have a painful experience.

Ginny stopped her approach and looked at the two Aurors. They seemed to be wary of her. “Fine,” she snapped. “I’ll go wake Ron and Hermione, we will give our statements, and then I’ll curse you into oblivion.” She finished talking and turned and walked back into the house. Her anger increased even more as she could hear Harry laughing behind her.

The next hour the two Aurors had tea and took the statements from Ginny, Ron, and Hermione. After they finished writing everything down, everyone gathered in the kitchen around the table to hear what the Auors had to say. The older Auror, Bennington, spoke. He was a paunchy wizard with receding black hair; his full round face had a slight red tinge, as though he was always too warm. “We have determined that the Witch, Natasha Lestrange attacked alone, when she tried to kill Miss Weasley.”

“That is wrong, she tried to kill Harry,” countered Ginny.

“No, Ginny, when she stood up the second time to fire the Killing Curse it was directed at you, not me,” stated Harry calmly.

Ginny sank back away from the table. Now she realized why Harry was so adamant about her leaving. She suddenly felt very thick. She had once again lost her temper for the wrong reasons. “I’m sorry, Harry,” she apologized. She kept her eyes down, too embarrassed to look anyone in the face. She suddenly became very tired, once all the anger left her. Harry moved from across the table to put his arm around her and support her.

“I want to know, how you can be so positive about the Witch’s intentions,” questioned Hermione. “She could have lied to you.”

The two Aurors exchanged looks with Harry, and chuckled. “Mr. Potter made sure she wasn’t lying. Well, we must be going. I hope the rest of your Easter goes well,” said Bennington, as he left.

The kitchen was quiet with what the Aurors had said. It was as if everyone was afraid to ask Harry how he made sure she wasn’t lying. “I used the Leglimency spell on her, after we gave her Veritaserum. I doubt there are any secrets left in her right now that we don’t know,” he quietly said, as he went back to sipping his tea. “We went to St. Mungo’s, before we came here. Fleur is doing well, and Bill is staying with her.”

The silence only seemed to deepen, with his statement. Hermione seemed to be uncomfortable and shifted beside Ron. Ginny didn’t know what to do. Mr. Weasley broke the silence, “Why did you interrogate Lestrange? I thought that was left for upper level Aurors?”

“Gawain and Kingsley had been training me to do this,” Harry said. “Technically, I am not permitted to do that, but I couldn’t wait for one of the upper level Aurors to show up.”

Ginny looked up to see him staring lovingly at her. “I couldn’t take the chance that there were more of them. I had to find out if you were still at risk. She was after you Ginny, to hurt me. She was angry because she lost three-quarters of her family’s fortune with the restitution law. We found our engagement picture from the Daily Prophet in her robes.”

“I see, thank you,” she meekly replied. Fear and uncertainty was filling her up, and all she could think to do was stare into her mug of tea. She could see him telling her not to join the Harpies. She would be alone where someone could attack her. It would be like him or one of her overly protective family members to tell her to not go.

“Ginny,” said Harry, breaking her from her thoughts. She turned her gaze up to him. Concern filled his tired bloodshot eyes. The lines of fatigue on his face made him look years older than what he was. “Please be careful when you are traveling with the Harpies. Hopefully, you will be going to places that don’t know me, and that we are together…”

Ron’s snort of laughter stopped Harry’s conversation. “Not bloody likely, mate. After Voldemort, Australia, and France every magical person in the entire effin’ world knows who you are.”

“ Language young man,” scolded Mrs. Weasley.

“You still want me to join the Harpies?” asked a surprised Ginny.

“I could hardly take an opportunity like that away from you, love. She was acting alone, so there isn’t a network of Dark Wizards plotting against you.” He stood up and kissed the side of Ginny’s head. “I am really knackered. Could I go up to my room for a kip, Mrs. Weasley?”

“Yes dear, Easter dinner should be ready shortly after noon. We will wake you when it is ready,”

Harry waved to everyone and plodded up the stairs to Fred and George’s old room. Ginny watched him go. She was in shock that he would let her leave the country now. She was sure he would try to hide her away and protect her. Finishing her tea she stood up from the table. “I need to go for a kip also. So wake me with Harry.”

“I’m sorry Ginny. I used your bed earlier, instead of a camp bed,” apologized Hermione.

“I can change the sheets in a flash,” offered Mrs. Weasley.

“No need, Mum. I am going to crawl in with Harry.”

“NO YOU ARE NOT,” screeched her mother.

“Yes. I am,” replied Ginny just as sternly.

“I will not have any of my unmarried children doing that under my roof!”

“I won’t be doing anything but sleeping,” snapped Ginny. Her mother cast her a dubious glare. “I will leave the door open, sleep on top of the covers, with my clothes on,” she stated, then continued with almost pleadingly. “I just want to be close to him, that’s all.”

Silence filled the kitchen, as everyone stared at the youngest Weasley. It seemed like an hour had passed in the second or two it took for Mrs. Weasley to respond. “All right dear, I’ll be up to check on you.”

Ginny hugged and kissed her mum and dad, before climbing the Burrow’s steep stairs. She walked up to Fred and George’s old room and opened the door without knocking. Harry was lying across the bed on top of the old patchwork quilt. His shoes were off and it looked like he fell asleep taking off his shirt. It was unbuttoned, and he was snoring softly.

Ginny walked into the room, and gently buttoned his shirt back up. He woke up with a start and nearly knocked her over. “What – what are you doing here?” he asked totally confused at the present situation. “You’ll get in trouble…”

“Shh, relax Harry, Mum and Dad know I am here,” she softly told him trying to calm him down. “Tuck your shirt in, and crawl on top of the covers.” Harry still looked at her with a puzzled expression.”I told them we would be dressed, on top of the covers, with the door open. It was either agree to that or have a battle that would have destroyed half the house. I am too tired for that, so lie down and budge over so I can lie down also.”

Harry lay back on the bed, and watched her as she kicked her shoes off and crawled in beside him. She fluffed up a pillow and placed it beside his. “Good night, love,” she said as she kissed him gently on the lips. He was so tired that he responded almost automatically. She wasn’t disappointed at his lack of emotion. She was just happy that she was here beside him.

As she moved back against him and snuggled closer, he placed his arm over her shoulder surrounding her with his presence. She laid there for a few seconds falling asleep when she heard him whisper to her or maybe it was to himself. “I almost lost you, tonight. I almost lost the reason I came back.”

A tear rolled down her cheek as she heard and felt Harry’s slow deep breathing. He didn’t need to say anymore than ‘came back’ for Ginny to know, because he had always told her that she was the main reason he came back from the world of the dead. So he might have a chance for a life with her.


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