Chapter 8 : Bottles Eighteen, Thirty and Six
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Also, lets not ever forget that everything that JKR thought up is still, and will always be hers.
So with that bit of business out of the way, enjoy the next chapter.
Bottles Eighteen, Thirty and Six
Harry Potter had a dilemma. Not a life threatening decision mind you, but none the less a decision weighed heavily upon his chest; should he get a fresh drink from the beachside vendor, or not. Sure he was thirsty, but if he wanted a drink he’d have to leave his spot on the blanket where he and Ginny lay, absorbing the bright sun’s warming rays. He let his head loll over to the left and checked the vendor.
A bespectacled old man stood in the shade provided by an enormous red and white striped umbrella, attached to the apple red concession cart. Harry watched as the man pulled a frozen fruit bar from the depths of the cart and handed it over to the young girl waiting for the treat. Her father passed the man a couple bills and the daughter skipped happily away, pulling her father along as she left.
‘I don’t want to get up, I just want to lay here with Gin,’ his body made its stance known. He was amazed that after three days in Grand Cayman he was still more interested in doing nothing than going out to find some new activity. He swallowed and his dry throat made a different request. ‘I need to get something to drink though,’ his decision wavered.
Harry lifted up so he was reclining on his elbows to get a better view of their surroundings. Tall palms stood sentry where the soft sand met grass and rocks defining the beach’s inland boundary. White sand stretched sixty feet down to the water’s edge, and to his left and right the sand stretched out of sight. Two places to the left, a middle aged couple reclined in weathered chaise lounges, listening to the muggle radio. The last strains of song faded, replaced by the announcer’s voice. “…another warm day. We are expecting a cold front later in the evening but it won’t get to the island until evening. Swells are anticipated to be in the two to three meter range with winds from the northwest. Tomorrow the storm should clear out by mid morning, with temperatures in the low seventies Fahrenheit.” Harry tuned out the rest of the forecast and cast a glance to his right. Ginny lay sprawled on her stomach, breathing slowly, her top was undone to avoid tan lines. Harry’s shadow fell across her shoulders.
“Heyyy, whaass-up?” she said lazily. “Yurrr blockin’ my sun.”
“Sorry, thinking about getting a drink.”
She turned to face him, blinking rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the sunshine. “Can you get me one of the frozen lemon pops, please?” She stretched her legs and pointed her toes, while stretching her arms out above her head, before letting her body relax.
“Sure Love,” Harry answered fishing in the beach bag for his wallet. He found it, stood and made his way across the white sand beach to the vendor. After purchasing the lemon ice for Ginny and an iced tea for himself he returned to the blanket. Ginny was now sitting up, having retied her top.
“Thanks.,” she said, pulling her long hair over her shoulder as he handed her the frozen lemon pop.
“Anything for you milady,” Harry replied, bowing deeply and sweeping his arm in a grand gesture.
Ginny giggled at his overdone reply. “Did you know I love you?”
“Yes,” he answered, taking a sip of his drink. He checked the battered old wristwatch he’d received from the Weasleys for his seventeenth birthday. “We’ve been out here for about three hours. Do you want to stay here or do some more sightseeing?”
“Can we go back to the turtle farm?” she asked hopefully, munching on her frozen treat.
“I though you’d want to do another dive today?” he countered, taking another long sip of his iced tea.
“I don’t think we should. Remember, Kingsley said we shouldn’t dive the day before we apparate back. It throws off our body’s equilibrium making it easier to splinch. And I don’t want to take any chances on that.”
“Too true, I don’t want you getting splinched and losing parts either, especially any of your important parts.” Harry’s eyes twinkled as he tried in vain to decide which of Ginny’s parts his favorite was.
She stood up to face him, taking another bite of the half finished lemon pop in her right hand. “Which parts would be the most important then? Is there a particular part you like better than the others?” Her bright brown eyes caught his as she teased him by leaning forward and kissing him with frozen lips, making sure her bikini clad chest rubbed his bare chest in the process.
“Hey, no fair, you’re doing that on purpose,” he complained playfully, swatting her on the rear.
She glared at him momentarily before her face returned to its smile. “Careful there Potter, you know swatting my bum, can get you hexed,” she warned.
“What can I say, I’m living on the edge.” he smiled and gave Ginny a soft kiss, followed by another soft swat on the bottom. “So, turtle farm then? You’re sure?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I like the baby ones, they’re so cute.”
Harry couldn’t help but grin. Ginny could be such a contrast in human behavior. Here she was, a star player in a dangerous game, a girl who would and did fight to the death during the war. She hardly ever cried, and yet she was still enamored with the small turtles because they were, in her own words, cute. How could he not love her?
“Okay, we can go from here.” Ginny pulled on a pair of cutoff shorts and T-shirt, Harry pulled shirt on as well, before packing their towels into the beach bag. Harry stowed the bundle in the side bag of his chopper and mounted the motorcycle. Ginny climbed on behind him, wrapping her arms around his lean torso.
“Harry, when we’re done visiting the turtles can we go back and do some more of the memories?” She had to speak loudly to be heard over the staccato notes of the chopper’s exhaust. He nodded and let out the clutch, sending the couple down the road quickly with a screech of tires and roar of the engine.
It was two hours later when Ginny’s need to play with the little turtles was quenched and the couple once again climbed aboard Harry’s chopper for the trip to the beach house. In the distance near the horizon the first grey clouds of the approaching storm could be seen on the horizon to the west. They stopped at a small deli and ordered sandwiches for lunch. After the brief stop the couple once again climbed on the chopper for the short ride back to the beach house.
By the time Harry was changed from his swimsuit to shorts and a T-shirt, Ginny was excitedly waiting by the pensieve with three more of the small crystal vials set out for viewing.
Harry chuckled. “Not eager are you?” He gave her forehead a quick kiss when he reached her.
“Prat,” she giggled. “Yes, I’m a little eager. It’s been more fun than I thought it would be, seeing everyone’s take on our relationship.”
“I agree, sometimes we’re so close to things we don’t see them the same as others do. We use that concept quite a bit in Auror training, taking a step back and looking the situation over from a different perspective.”
Ginny nodded. “I ran into Kingsley the other day in Diagon Alley. He told me that you’ve been top in the class for just about everything, in some cases setting the highest marks ever seen.”
“What!” Harry exclaimed. “I know I’m doing well, but they’ve not said anything to me about highest marks ever. I know I’m at the top of my class, but highest ever?”
Ginny shrugged. “It’s what he said, and it didn’t feel to me like he was having me on. He said you and Sydney may be the best team he’s ever seen. The two of you must be doing very well for the Minister to know about it. And I know that you two being taken on actual missions before finishing the training program is all but unheard of, but its happening.”
Now it was Harry’s turn to shrug. “Sydney and I do match up pretty good. You know it means a lot to me that you don’t get all crazy about me having a woman as a partner. And it says even more about your character that the two of you have become friends. It makes my job easier, so thanks.”
“Harry I trust you completely, I can’t imagine any scenario in which I wouldn’t trust you. And I trust Sydney too. For me it just isn’t an issue,” Ginny explained. “Now, can we pleeease do the next bottles?”
Harry smiled, giving a quick nod of permission. Ginny opened the next bottle and let the memory slide gently into the pensieve. She and Harry both tipped their faces to the rolling, misty liquid and fell into the next memory.
Fleur, singing softly to baby Victoire bundled safely in her arms, walked gracefully into the sitting room of the Burrow. Arthur, Molly and Hermione were discussing something near the large fireplace that dominated one wall of the comfortable room. She stood, perusing the room and was just turning to go when Ginny came into the room with a searching look on her face as well.
Ginny, wearing a Harpies jumper and medium length denim skirt, glanced about, the object of her search not present. Fleur spoke first. “Hello Ginny.”
“Hi Fleur, have you seen Harry?”
“No, I ‘ave not. I saw him go with zee Minister a bit ago. ‘Ave you seen my Bill?”
“Sorry, I haven’t. I’m sure he’s around,” Ginny said reassuringly. “But I see my favorite niece.” Ginny stepped closer and leaned over to grace Victoire with a light kiss to the top of her head, strawberry blonde hair shining in the warm lamplight. “May I?” Ginny inquired, hopefully.
“But of course, she loves ‘er Aunt Ginny.” Fleur shifted her arms allowing Ginny to take the quiet little girl from her mother. Ginny cradled her niece lovingly and the two women sat in the living room on either side of the fireplace, the fire crackling merrily, keeping the cool night air at bay. The other occupants of the room left for the kitchen, mentioning something about getting more tea ready, leaving the two witches alone.
“I remember this, it was the party after we got through with the trial,” Ginny said. “Fleur and I had a talk.”
“About what?” Harry asked.
“Watch and see.” Ginny took his hand as the couple watched those in the Burrow’s sitting room continue on in the memory.
“You are okay Ginny?” Fleur smiled as she spoke, seeing her daughter snuggle into Ginny’s warmth signaling that she wouldn’t need to get up soon, she tucked her legs under her.
Ginny breathed heavily. “I suppose I’m doing alright. I was looking for Harry.”
“I understand, I ‘ave not wanted to be separated from my Bill for too long eezer.”
Ginny nodded. “Yeah, after the trial, Harry and I didn’t let go of each others hands for the rest of the night.”
“Eet was worse for you, not being with us. But ‘ow you did your part so well, made eet easier on ‘Arry. He was not so worried about you. He was concerned, but zat was eet. If eet was me, I think I will ‘ave lost my ‘ead in worry.”
“I was worried about him, well all of you, but I knew I had a job to do and I wanted to drive the arses responsible mental if I could. Nobody goes after Harry without answering to me, nobody,” she stated firmly. Victoire squirmed uncomfortably at the edge in Ginny’s voice. She brushed her fingers along the young girl’s hairline to soothe her back to sleep.
“Yes, I know zee feeling. I am very protective of Bill in zee same way. It eez instinct to protect zose we love, yes?”
Ginny nodded. “While we were trapped, I was scared, sometimes more than the year I was stuck at school. Sure, I put up a brave front and said I could handle it, wanted him to stop coddling me…but I realized something…It’s pretty easy to be brave when you know the other person has you covered.
“But, you were also brave at zee school, when ‘Arry was not there to ‘elp you,” Fleur countered. “I think you ‘ave more courage in you zen most of zee men who claim to be so brave.”
“When I look back over the last few years I can’t believe some of the things I’ve done, whether they be brave or daft.”
“You are not daft Ginny, and you know eet.”
“Please, look how I bolloxed up his first proposal, and I hexed him when he came home after the war. And even before the war…I was so mean to you, and I didn’t have a reason to be that way. I was horrible sometimes…”
“Was this the first time you ever talked to her about that summer?” Harry asked as he watched the memory play out.
“Shhhhh, just watch,” Ginny whispered in reply.
“At zee beginning, no you were not very nice to me. But Bill, he explained eet. You were trying to protect him in zee only way you knew ‘ow. You did not want your brozzer to leave.”
“But you loved, still love, him and I didn’t see it,” Ginny said apologetically.
“No, you did not, because you were not yet a woman who knew love.” Fleur gave Ginny a forgiving smile. “But now, you are a woman who knows love, yes?”
“Yes, now all I need to do is learn how to be a proper wife.”
“Zere is no such thing.” Fleur said waving the thought away with her hand.
“Huh? I mean I can cook pretty well. But my cleaning charms are nowhere near as good as my Mum’s and I don’t really know how to organize a kitchen…”
The older witch stopped Ginny’s rambling. “Stop! And why eez eet you think eet eez up to you to know these things? Being a wife is not about zee laundry and having zee supper on zee table.”
“But my Mum…she’s made it out to be important. And I know you do those things for Bill.”
“Yes I do some of zose things for Bill, but eet is not because I am zee wife.”
“No?” Ginny questioned shifting so Victoire was now resting on her other shoulder.
“No, being a good wife or ‘usband is not about zee chores. Eet is about doing your best to help zee ozzer person. If they need food, you feed zem. If they needs support you encourage zem. If they need a swift kick in zee arse, then you give zem zat too.”
Ginny giggled. “So do you have to give Bill a good kick every now and then?”
Now it was Fleur’s turn to smile. “Sometimes…You Weasleys are zo stubborn.”
“So you don’t think there’s any such thing as a good wife?” Ginny’s asked, full of natural curiosity, wanting to know more about this differing opinion on just what made a successful marriage.
“No, I think zere is such a thing as a good spouse, but not a good wife. Eet is about being the ozzer half of your mate. Your Mozzer stayed at ‘ome and did zee things required for her ‘usband to be successful. And I do zee things Bill needs, just as you ‘ave learned zee things to ‘elp ‘Arry.”
Ginny nodded, but remained silent, willing the part-Veela witch to continue. Fleur, recognizing the silence continued her thoughts. “By zee same token, ‘Arry must learn to do zee things zat ‘elp you to be your best. If you need ‘elp in training for zee ‘Arpies, or organizing a dinner… or if you need zee good shag.” Fleur grinned mischievously. “Zere eez no set of rules, eet is as different as each couple.”
“Hey I like the sound of that, we need a good shag.” Real Harry reached out and pulled Ginny closer, her back to his chest, and wrapped both arms around her, slipping his fingertips under the waistband of her shorts.
“Stop it!” she shushed him, pulling his fingers free. “And we’ve been shagging like three times a day since we got here, what else can you possibly want?”
“Four times a day?” he joked. His smile was brought to a quick end when she elbowed him in the ribs.
“Hush and watch,” she admonished him.
“So my Mum did the housework because that’s what Dad needed. How will I know what Harry needs?”
“Ginny, do you not see eet? You do zeese things already. You support ‘im. You relax his nerves before zee quidditch games, as he does yours. You let ‘im fight for you, yet you watched his back. And you let ‘im lean on you in zee way zat he does not even realize he eez doing eet. And zee most important thing, you let ‘im love you.”
“I do all that?” Ginny questioned herself aloud.
“Yes Ginny, you do. And he does zee same type things for you. Zee two of you ‘ave been married since zee night when you reconciled. Zee only thing lacking is zee ceremony.”
Ginny wrinkled her nose as she mulled over Fleur’s observation. “Maybe…I know he does anything he can to help me, even little things like feeding Arnold when I’m away. And I guess I do the same thing for him...I don’t really think about doing stuff for him, I just kinda do it…” She turned when she heard footsteps from the doorway.
Harry walked into the room with a sleeping Teddy in his arms. The small boy’s head rested on Harry’s shoulder, both arms thrown around his neck. His normally colorful hair was its natural mousy brown color, proving just how deeply he was sleeping. “Hey Gin, I’m going to floo him over to Andromeda’s and then I’ll be home.”
“Harry, if you want he can come with us. He might like waking up at the carriage house. It’ll let him see everything is going back to normal.
Bill arrived in the room as she finished speaking, and Andromeda also entered, making the room feel crowded.
“Ginny said we can take him with us if you’d like a night off.” Harry looked at Teddy’s grandmother, who nodded her acceptance of the offer.
“That is more than fine Harry, Ginny. I’m sure he’ll like it. His bag is in the kitchen, although I think you have as many things for him as I do. Have a nice night.” She flooed away in a wash of green flame.
Bill helped Fleur up and then took his daughter from his sister. “Goodnight Harry, Ginny.”
“Goodnight Bill,” they returned together.
Fleur and Ginny hugged each other firmly. Bill and Harry looked at the women embracing and then each other, not sure of what exactly had changed between the two women, but each understood the two women were closer now than they had been in the past.
The memory swirled away in a swirl of white mist and green flames as Fleur and Bill flooed away. The green tint faded rapidly until the misty swirls were once again pristine white. The milky fog then evaporated to reveal a warm kitchen.
Fleur stood at the small kitchen table, busily wrapping several gifts, using her wand to orchestrate tying the bows from the silver and gold ribbons adorning each present.
A knock at the kitchen door interrupted her work. The bows continued to tie themselves as she crossed the room to let the visitor in.
“Oh, ‘Arry eet eez so good to see you.” Fleur threw both arms around Harry as he entered carrying a wrapped gift of his own. “I ‘ave missed you ‘Arry.”
“When was this? It’s the one she picked for you, so you must recognize it.” Ginny cast a quick look at Harry to watch his reaction to the scene unfolding before them.
“I do. It’s the day I brought over Viktor’s wedding present for her to take to him, since I wasn’t going to the wedding.”
“Hi Fleur,” Harry mumbled, letting the witch continue the hug.
“Come and sit. Victoire eez napping so we ‘ave some time to talk.” She motioned him towards one of the polished wooden chairs by the table. He took the offered chair while Fleur summoned the tea set and a plate of muffins from the counter across the room. Once both were seated she asked him. “So, ‘Arry, why eez eet you do not want to go to Viktor’s wedding? You and he are good friends, no?”
“We are, but I don’t think I’d be much fun to have there. It’s better to just stay away.”
“Stay away. Like you ‘ave done all summer to me and your ozzer friends?” she challenged his actions through the summer so far.
“Look, I didn’t come here to defend myself or explain things. I came to drop by a gift. That’s it. No more, no less.” Harry glared at the blonde witch seated across from him.
“So that ees eet? After all theez time I am nothing more zan a post owl? NO! I do not accept such treatment.” She roughly set her cup down on the table, rattling the tea set.
“Fleur, you’re still my friend…”
“Zen you treat me as such! I knew you before you and Ginny were togezzer. I did not know zat my friendship with you ees dependent on zee relationship you ‘ave with Ginny. If eet ees, zen I need to rethink our friendship. And Viktor should rethink his too.” Her Veela power was raging and Harry saw just how beautifully frightening she could be.
He bowed his head in defeat, placing his head in his hands. “I’m sorry…I should have just owled the stupid gift. I’ll get out of your hair.” He stood to leave.
“Arry, I do not want you to leave. I want you to stay. I miss you.” She stood as well, and gently took his shoulder in her hand. “Why do you shut out all your friends?”
“It’s just easier to be alone.” He slipped from under her hand and took few steps away to stand by the coat rack, where he turned to face her.
“Arry, you are not alone except by your own choice. I ‘ave not pushed you away, nor has Bill, Ron, Molly or Arthur.”
“That’s it, see? It’s my choice, and…”
“And to be ‘onest ‘Arry, your choice…eet stinks.” She put extra emphasis on the final two words, driving the point home.
“What do you want me to say Fleur? Do you want me to say that every day I want to find her, and shake her until she sees what she’s doing to me? Or that I wake up all but hating the person I love the most? Does anyone really want to know how close I’ve come to just saying to hell with the whole world and finding someplace to live where nobody has ever heard of Harry Potter?” He paused to grab a hurried breath.
“Or how I would give everything right now just to have her hold me and have her say she does still love me? Or that…that if she decides she doesn’t I have absolutely no idea how I’ll survive?” His voice softened and slowed cadence as he finished his rant.
“Yes ‘Arry. Zat eez exactly what I want to ‘ear.” She closed the distance and took Harry by the shoulders. “We are friends ‘Arry Potter.” She smiled at him and embraced him. After the brief hug she pulled back, continuing to smile at him. “We are zee only two members of zee family wizzout zee red ‘air. We ‘ave to stick togezzer, no?”
“Okay, you win.” Harry chuckled. “Zose of us ‘wizzout zee red ‘air’ will have to steek togezzer,” he said using a horrible French accent.
“We will ‘ave to find you a proper tutor for zee French. And if Ginny needs a push I will get a Veela cousin to ‘elp you.” Fleur gave a dazzling smile to Harry.
Harry couldn’t help but smile back and wondered if her Veela charm could affect him after all.
“Thank you for coming by ‘Arry. I will make sure Viktor and Anastasia get zee present, and give zem your well wishes.”
“Thanks Fleur, for the talk. I needed it.” Harry pulled open the door and left Shell Cottage. Fleur turned back to the empty room. In the background the chopper could be heard roaring off into the distance.
The memory ended and in a few moments both Harry and Ginny were returned to the kitchen looking resolutely into the pensive.
Ginny spoke first. “Hmmm, I wasn’t expecting those from Fleur. I thought she’d give us some fluffy memory of us hugging or snogging.”
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Harry commented. “She and I have had a half-friend, half-sibling type relationship ever since I saved Gabrielle.” He changed his voice to the horrible French accent saying, “besides we are zeee only Wees-lees wizzout zee red ‘air, we ‘ave to steeek togezzer. And she ‘as ‘elped mee wiz zee French.”
“Please stop,” she spluttered through a laugh. “Next please. That was bottle?”
“Eighteen.” Harry finished placing the delicate memory back into its bottle for safety while Ginny poured the next into the small stone bowl.
Ginny turned the bottle to see the label. “This one is number thirty.” After reading the label she tipped the glass bottle and let the silvery strand slide into the carved stone pensieve.
She led Harry into the next memory letting the white mist engulf them. Both landed neatly as the swirling mass of white clouds settled around their feet before disappearing completely.
The new memory materialized with Harry and Ginny standing by the front gates of the Holyhead Harpies quidditch pitch. The steel gates towered above several small groups of fans and well wishers as various players entered the facility. The shadow of the massive grandstand shaded the gates, lawn and cobblestone walkway leading to the stadium. George and Lee Jordan leaned casually against the fence behind a group of fans, eyes searching the crowd expectantly.
“You sure she isn’t here yet?” Lee asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure. She was flooing home from the shop, and then getting the stuff she bought today packed, and then apparating to the checkpoint here. We came straight here so I know we’re ahead of her.” George answered. “Just make sure we stay off to the side so she doesn’t see us.”
“Right, Sir!” Lee answered with a smart aleck salute to his redheaded friend.
“Git,” George replied. “But at least you understand who’s in charge.”
“I’m not a git, I’m a valuable asset to the company,” Lee retorted.
“Look, my less than scholarly friend. Was it, or was it not, you who spilled a full cauldron of fermented esacia roots onto the bags of dried nectal worm larvae? And was the resulting odor not so terrible as to drive every customer out of the shop?” George glared. “Were you an ass-et then?”
Lee nodded guiltily. “Yeah, so…”
“And did I not have to keep the shop closed for another whole day, a Saturday mind you, before the smell was gone enough to re-open?”
Lee nodded guiltily again.
“Right, so that makes you a git…but you’re still my best friend.” George smiled.
“Here she comes!” Lee whispered frantically, motioning towards the cobblestone walkway.
Ginny walked along searching the crowd for familiar faces, carrying her shrunken trunk and equipment bag, one item in each hand. Her eyes darted back and forth, scanning the crowd for a friend or family member.
“This was my first day as a Harpie. I was a little on edge,” present day Ginny revealed as she watched.
“First day of training camp?” Harry watching the memory asked.
“No, after training camp. It was my first day on the real pitch…getting our uniforms…my first day as a Harpie.” Ginny reiterated.
Ginny in the memory continued to glance around. Lee and George ducked down so she wouldn’t see them. Ginny turned more towards the two men watching her and her face fell. George and Lee in the memory, and Harry watching it, all realized that she was hoping there would be somebody from her family present as she started her new career. She turned towards the gates, and now her pace was slower, her shoulders drooped a little more.
“Three, two, one,” Lee counted off softly. George aimed his wand to a wooden crate hidden by the trash bins on the far side of the walkway and cast a quick spell. A loud screech filled the air around the group of witches and wizards as a multitude of fireworks burst forth.
‘BANG-BOOM-BOOM-BA-BOOM-BOOM!’ The whistling fireworks shot skyward in a mad rush. Flaming pinwheels, cannonades, and fleur-de-lis exploded above the crowd.
“Ohhhh” the crowd cooed as the show began. ‘BOOM-BA-BOOM-BA-BA-BOOM’ Screamers, rockets and mini fireworks kept shooting from the crate and soon people inside the stadium came to see the magnificent display as well. ‘BOOM-BOOM-BOOM’ The gathered crowd grew in size as even more witches and wizards from inside the stadium came out to investigate the ruckus, several in team uniform or practice robes.
Just as the show started to slow down and fade from the sky one last set of shells launched into the air. ‘BA-BOOM-BOOM-BA-BOOM-BA-BOOM’
‘WEASLEY IS OUR QUEEN – WAY TO GO GINNY’ splashed across the sky in a glittering display of green and gold sparks.
The crowd hooted and hollered as the show ended, with the sparkling message still floating over the stadium. Ginny frantically looked around the crowd searching for the faces she knew had to be present.
“Damnit George! I know you’re here! Show yourself!” she called loudly.
“Uh-oh, doesn’t sound happy does she?” Lee asked, cowering behind George.
“No, she doesn’t,” George agreed slinking back along the fence.
“George! You coward get out here right this instant!” Ginny voice raised a good twenty decibels. Her trunk and equipment lay cast aside, she stood hands on hips appearing to be quite furious.
George led Lee from behind their hiding spot near the fence. The crowd parted, allowing Ginny to get her first view of the perpetrators responsible for the impromptu fireworks display.
Ginny focused her glare on them. “YOU TWO! Front and center!” she barked pointing to the spot directly in front of her.
“Wow, you looked scary mad right there,” Harry said with a low whistle.
“Good, that’s the look I was going for.” Ginny grinned.
The assembled crowd, now numbering nearly one hundred, murmured in anticipation of just what punishment the slightly built redheaded witch was ready to dole out. When the two men, each standing a good ten inches taller than Ginny, reached the spot indicated by the furious witch, the crowd noise fell to a whisper.
“I have just one thing to say to you two miscreants!” she growled. The crowd was now silent, eagerly anticipating the wrath. “You’re the best brother in the world!” She jumped into George’s arms, hugging him tightly and sniffing back her tears. “Thank you, I…I didn’t think anyone from home was here…and…but you were…and the fireworks were the best thing ever.”
She released George and jumped into Lee’s arms, kissing him soundly on the cheek. “You big wimp, did you really think I was mad? You’re my favorite almost-brother…thank you.” She kissed his other cheek. “Thank you.”
“ALRIGHT!” a ferocious female voice echoed above the crowd. “I want to know who the hell screwed up my carefully planned practice schedule with this…this…juvenile prank!” Gwenog Jones stormed through the gates. The crowd shrank away from her; several of the veteran players skirted around behind the crowd and darted through the gates to the changing rooms. She gazed skyward and read the message. “Weasley!”
“Here,” Ginny smiled meekly, raising her hand.
“Nice of you to bring your own special brand of fans, but this is professional quidditch, not a schoolyard game.” Gwenog said angrily. “Get your crap and get inside…NOW!”
“Yes ma’am,” Ginny responded quickly. She quickly grabbed her trunk and bag, and walked towards the gates. Just as she was about to enter the stadium she turned to face George and Lee, mouthing ‘thank you’ to the pair of them.
“Weasley!” Ginny turned to face her captain. “Run five extra sets up and down the stands for messing up my schedule.” Ginny nodded her understanding and disappeared into the depths of the stadium.
The memory continued with the Holyhead captain turning on George and Lee as they tried to slip away un-noticed. “STOP!” Both men stood stock still as she strode to face them. “Where did you get those?”
“From my shop, in Diagon Alley,” George answered.
“Weasley…the purple building with all the joke stuff?”
“Yeah, that’s it. We make fireworks too.” George said proudly.
“I noticed, those were spectacular…you made them spell words?” she questioned now thinking things over in her head.
“Yeah, and we can magic shapes and cartoons into them too. I do the Cannons fireworks, the giant cannon that shoots off after each victory.”
Gwenog nodded appreciatively. “Come up with something good for the Harpies and I’ll find a way to get you signed on as our supplier. It’ll be a good morale booster.”
“Right,” Lee and George answered together.
“Jinx,” George challenged.
“Jinx?” Lee questioned.
“Yeah, jinx. We said the same thing at the same time, which means we can jinx. I jinxed you, which means you can’t talk.”
“I can still talk you poof,” Lee said in frustration.
“But you’re not supposed to talk,” George complained. “It’s a muggle game.”
“Heeeey…new product! How about…Ginny’s Ginxes! It’s a sweet that will make the person go mute!” Lee exclaimed!
George’s face lit up. “Come on lets get back to the shop. I’ll start on the fireworks and you start on Ginny’s Ginxes!”
“Deal” Lee replied and the memory faded quickly leaving Harry and Ginny standing by the pensieve.
“So that’s how they came up with those…” Harry murmured.
“Yeah, didn’t you know? I didn’t know you didn’t know the story,” Ginny replied. “Wait, did that make sense?”
Harry chuckled. “Yeah, it did…somehow.”
“Wait a second…” Ginny now pursed her lips in thought. “I don’t remember getting any money out of them for that idea…Remind me to talk to my dear sweet brother about that, will you?”
Harry smiled. “Sure…don’t forget to talk to George about the jinx royalties.”
“Not now!” she started punching her husband’s arm repeatedly in jest.
“Okay, okay…” Harry held up his hands in defense. “Next one is number six.” He held up the next bottle. Ginny captured the previous memory on her wand’s tip and let the silvery strand slowly slide back into the bottle it came from.
Harry let the next memory loose in the bowl and stirred it lightly with his wand. He held Ginny’s hand and soon the two of them dove into the next friend’s memory.
When the memory settled out the couple was left standing amongst thirty or so tents arranged somewhat neatly. Some of the larger tents had brick chimneys or large wooden front doors, their owners not quite getting the idea behind them that a muggle tent did not have such additions.
Harry and Ginny felt the uncomfortable heat right away, the sun beat down on the scene relentlessly baking everything in sight. Two witches strolled along between the rows of tents talking amicably. Each witch was wearing tight shorts and tank tops with the Fuse Lighters logo emblazoned across their rather ample chests, both girls were very attractive.
“But they should do well this year too. I tell you it was so much more fun this last year, winning certainly made it easier on all of us.” The lighter haired witch said to her dark haired companion.
“So Carolyn, is the whole team back again?”
“Yeah Jaclyn, they’re all back. Even Potter, but I don’t know how well he’ll do this year. He’s acting different than he did last year.” the blonde answered.
“You mean Harry Potter? I’d really like to meet him,” Jaclyn said enthusiastically.
“He’s not what you’d expect. He’s pretty easy going, hangs out with his best mate a lot, that’s Ron Weasley, our keeper. Doesn’t have an ego to speak of, or at least he didn’t use to have one.”
Jaclyn stopped walking. “What do you mean ‘use to’?”
“Well, he’s…different…this year. He’s all moody and he drinks more than he used to. He was here when I arrived three days ago. Players don’t have to be here for six more days, I think he’s hiding. I figure his fame is getting to him…He just kind of shunts everyone off to the side now.”
“Oh,” The brunette said sadly. “I was really hoping to get to know him.”
“Take a shot, that’s him there,” Carolyn suggested gesturing to a dark haired wizard lying on a plain wooden bench, in front of a medium sized tent. “I promised Bev I’d meet her, so I’ll catch up with you later. Let me know how it goes with Mr. Hero over there.”
“So we’re seeing Jaclyn’s now. This is another ‘first time meeting’ memory.” Ginny surmised.
“Yes it is. It was before Ron and Hermione arrived at training camp that summer.” Harry answered.
Jaclyn approached the bench while her friend turned down a side row, between tents. She studied the wizard before her silently. He lay on his back, shirtless, baking himself in the sun. His lean muscular frame was relaxed, and his skin was beginning to tan which helped to hide the numerous scars across his torso. She stopped counting scars when she reached double digits, figuring it was impolite to do so, even if he wasn’t awake. She stood still, wondering if all the stories about The-Chosen-One could possibly be true.
“If you want something ask, otherwise get the hell away from me.” She jumped in surprise as his curt voice cut across her. He squinted up at her, expecting her to leave.
“Thought what, that if you came over and gave me some catty remark that I’d fall for you?” he sneered. “Don’t bother, I’m not in the market for a girlfriend. He lifted his right hand and took a sip of fire whiskey from a small glass flask.”
“No, I didn’t think…”
“You don’t say, well what do you want then? An autograph or picture? I’m really not in the mood today… rather be alone.” He again spoke with such gruffness that she winced.
“Harry! You were awfully rude to her,” Ginny shook her head in disbelief at Harry’s behavior.
“I wasn’t in a particularly good mood that day.”
“Still what Gin?” he wondered aloud. “It was what it was.” he stopped talking and let the memory play out.
“Never mind, I was just trying to be nice.” Jaclyn said in disgust. “Not much of a hero are you then? Half drunk, mean spirited…” She turned and walked away to avoid being subjected to any more of his harsh comments.
He lifted his head so he could glare at her as he spoke. “Guess not…doesn’t matter. All everyone wants is the Boy-Who-Lived or the famous quidditch star. It’s not like anyone really cares about me personally.” He settled his head back on the bench and closed his eyes.
Jaclyn stopped when his words reached her ears. She turned back to look once again at the angry man lying alone on the bench. She stared back and forth between him and a group of Fuse Lighters talking a few tents away, trying to decide what course of action to take. The other girls saw her and motioned her over, but instead she turned and slowly walked back to Harry.
Harry squinted up at her for the second time in less than five minutes. “You’re back?” he questioned with a hint of surprise in his tone.
“Yes I am.”
“I must be losing my touch,”
“Must be,” she shrugged her shoulders. Her casual manner was able to do something fairly unexpected, it caused Harry to smile. She took the brief smile as a sign of encouragement and plugged on. “I…I don’t need a hero, I had one. But I did want to say thank you.”
Harry studied the beautiful woman standing over him. Truth be known, if he wasn’t completely in love with Ginny, regardless of their current situation, he certainly would have noticed her. Intrigued, he sat up and slid over to give her a spot to sit beside him on the bench.
Jaclyn sat in the offered spot, sizing up the famous wizard beside her. “Okay then, here goes nothing.” She paused. “You mind?” Jaclyn pulled the flask from his fingers, taking a good swig before he could protest. After swallowing her mouthful of liquid of courage she gave her sincere thanks. “Thank you Harry, for defeating him…for giving us hope…for doing what had to be done when nobody in authority was even trying…I…thank you.”
Harry swallowed thickly, “You know, I’ve had a lot of people who try to thank me, and I understand their need for it and that they mean it, but this may be the most sincere thank you I’ve had.”
Ginny held Harry’s hand as she continued to watch. “You honestly meant that didn’t you?”
“Well, yeah, I don’t go around saying things I don’t mean,” he said while intertwining their fingers.
“I know you don’t, but you don’t always open up to people either.”
“True, but I’m working on it.” He gave her a crooked smile.
“Yes you are.” She stretched up and planted a swift kiss to his lips.
“I just wanted you to know, that despite your comment earlier, even if nobody else cares…I do.” Jaclyn bowed her head slightly, studying her feet.
“What’s your name?” Harry questioned her softly.
“You’re welcome Jaclyn.”
“My friend Carolyn said that all last season you were a nice bloke, easygoing, polite, fun…why so different now?”
“That’s a bit personal to be asking isn’t it?”
“Yes, but if we never talk about the personal things we’ll never get to know each other, will we?”
Harry shook his head, wondering to himself, ‘How is it this witch just became a part of my life?’ Instead he replied with, “Well, if I have to spill you do too, and since you started it, you can go first.” He couldn’t help but smile for a second time.
She tossed her long dark hair over her shoulder. “Fine, I sleep with the same stuffed unicorn I’ve had since I was five. Her name’s Harriet.”
“I’m the Boy-Who-Lived.”
“Not fair, everyone knows that already!” she jabbed him with an elbow.
“Okay…” he chuckled rubbing his sore ribs. “I don’t sleep with a stuffed unicorn, in fact I never had a stuffed animal of my own at all.”
“No, in fact I didn’t have any toys when I was a kid.”
“Yeah, it is.” Harry replied.
“I nibble all the edges off my biscuits before I bite into the center of them.” Jaclyn offered.
“My favorite dessert is Treacle Tart.”
“It’s a little too sweet for me most times.”
Harry sat up a little straighter. “I have a bad habit of pushing people away.”
“I noticed,” she replied.
“But you stayed anyway,” Harry countered.
“So I did.”
Harry turned, making sure she could see his face. “Thanks for that.”
“Friends then?” she asked hopefully holding out a hand.
“Yeah, friends…” he took her hand and shook it firmly. The memory faded to white and swirled about as the scene began to change.
“Jaclyn just kind of worked her way into your life didn’t she?”
“Yes, and I’m glad she did too. I’d have gone barmy without somebody to talk to back then.” Harry shifted as the memory reformed around the couple.
When the swirling mist cleared Harry and Ginny checked their surroundings. This scene was so similar to the last memory he wasn’t altogether sure they’d moved at all. The only clues being that first, the setting for this memory was in the fall; and second, the tents around them were not the same tents as before. In fact the only tent that was the same was the one Jaclyn was pacing about in front of, Harry’s.
On the near edge of the grounds, a battery of trees resplendent in brown, orange and russet colors kept a chilly northern wind somewhat at bay. The grass around the area, matted from foot traffic, showed more of the changing season as it was no longer the bright green hue associated with the well kept quidditch grounds, but a dull green and brown mixture.
The young woman continued to pace nervously and persistently checked her watch between glances at the closed door to Harry’s tent.
A few seconds later the door opened and Ginny’s back became visible within the doorframe. Her posture suggested she was leaning forward, and the explanation for her actions presented itself audibly. Ginny’s voice followed the sound of a soft kiss ending. “Bye Harry, see you next Tuesday.”
Jaclyn stepped between Harry’s tent and his neighbor’s so Ginny could not see her. Ginny turned to leave, her hair hanging loosely about her shoulders, but turned back towards Harry’s door. She sighed, clearly struggling with the idea of going back to Harry or leaving.
Jaclyn stepped forward. “Come on we need to talk,” she said brusquely taking Ginny by the arm and pulling her down the row of tents.
“Wheeew, and I thought she was direct with me!” Harry commented quickly.
Ginny held her arm where Jaclyn in the memory had grabbed it. “Yeah, well she was more careful with you, that’s for sure.”
“What the?” Ginny’s surprised voice sounded more like a gasp than clear words. She struggled with her free hand in an effort to get to her wand.
“Oh, please, I don’t need the drama,” Jaclyn spat.
“You going for your wand. I’m not going to hurt you, but we’re going to have a little chat you and me.”
“Look, if you’re trying to get to Harry, then…”
“Just shut up before you embarrass yourself. Lord you’re selfish.” Jaclyn shook her head in disappointment while Ginny fumed, wrenching her arm from the dark haired witch’s grasp.
The two witches, each glaring silently straight ahead, cleared the last of the tents just a few steps later. Jaclyn pointed to an empty table and benches in a small deserted picnic area.
“Sit,” Jaclyn demanded.
“Just sit down and shut up.”
“I can’t believe you two didn’t end up fighting the way you’re going at it.” Harry watched as the scene continued.
“We almost did, I was so mad at her…” Ginny’s voice faded as the memory moved forward.
Ginny sat angrily on the closest bench. Jaclyn took the bench across the table from her, staring right at the redheaded witch.
“What I wanted…”
“No damnit, it’s my turn. You frog marched me out here, and I’m going to have a say in this right now.” Ginny glared back. “I don’t know what designs you have on Harry but I will not just fall off to the side so you can be closer to him than I am.”
Jaclyn shook her head. “I’m already closer to him…and will you for just one moment, one teeny tiny moment, consider that maybe this isn’t about you?”
“I…I…” The bravado and anger left her and she was left waiting for Jaclyn to start the conversation.
“Good…Where to begin…Do you realize, that even after everything that’s happened between you two, he is completely and totally in love with you? I wonder, because if you do, I don’t understand how you can cast him off without a second thought and then jump back into his bed...He’s an incredible guy, and…”
“I didn’t just jump into his bed,” Ginny defended herself. She closed her eyes tightly for a moment, opened them and continued on with her explanation. “I poured my heart and soul out to him last night, talking and apologizing…I don’t expect you to know our history.”
“What? Do you mean about Voldemort and his nightmares, or how much the two of you bonded summer before last? Maybe you think I don’t know about the Dursleys and his godfather getting killed, or about you turning him down?” Jaclyn countered, but her voice was now softer, less confrontational. “I know a lot certainly, but not all of it. He’s so private…it’s hard for him to talk about things.”
“Yeah, he’s very careful with his heart.” Ginny’s reply left her mouth in barely more than a whisper.
“He is,” Jaclyn affirmed. The two witches began to let down their guards and the tension between them fell away.
“Harry explained your story to me, not details, but the main story,” Ginny said kindly.
“You didn’t believe the articles in the prophet about us, did you?”
“I tried not to…I don’t pay much attention ever since they did that hatchet job on me last year…but by the same token, I did wonder about it…and prayed it wasn’t true.”
Again the tension lessened and Ginny shifted so she was leaning forward, elbows on the table. Jaclyn relaxed as well.
“It wasn’t…we’re just friends.”
“Yeah? He said the same.”
“Good. Honestly Ginny, it doesn’t matter to me whether you two end up together or not. What does matter to me is that whatever the outcome, Harry comes through it okay,” Jaclyn began the serious portion of their ‘chat’.
“I think we’ll be together, we’re certainly going to try...that’s what last night was all about.” Ginny tucked a lock of stray hair behind her left ear. “My issues are very personal, and I won’t get into them here, but Harry knows them now and I think he understands why I acted the way I did.”
Jaclyn carefully eyed Ginny, listening to her explanation. “I won’t get in between you two, it isn’t my place. But you need to understand that Harry is one of my closest friends, and I’ll protect him in any way I can.”
“You don’t need to protect him from me,” Ginny assured the brunette witch.
“I hope not, but I’m not sure if I can believe it right now. All I can go by at this time is past behavior, which isn’t on your side right now.” Ginny glowered from the sting of the words, causing Jaclyn to add on, “Maybe, last night is the beginning of a new trend and you two will begin to put things right. I know in his heart he wants you to be with him forever.”
“I’ve really missed him, and I know now that I don’t want to live any more of my life without him.” Ginny paused, glancing at Jaclyn. “So you two have become pretty close?”
“Yes, he doesn’t spend as much time with Ron this year. They still talk, but I think that Ron living with his fiancée is changing the way they interact.”
“Have been friends for a long time,” Jaclyn finished Ginny’s thought and continued. “I know they’ve been a trio, but I see the trio changing to a duo plus one. He doesn’t say it, but he feels as if he doesn’t belong sometimes.”
“And I haven’t been around to help him…But I will be from now on. I promise,” Ginny said resolutely.
“Good, I’d like to think we can be friends. If for no other reason than because we both care about Harry.” Jaclyn reached across the table, offering a hand to Ginny. Ginny accepted the handshake and the two women smiled.
The memory filled with white mist until nothing else was visible. When the mist receded the kitchen materialized around them, leaving the young couple standing over the carved stone pensieve.
“She sure did become part of our lives didn’t she?” Ginny asked, stirring the silvery liquid mist contained in the pensieve with her wand’s tip. She caught the floating memory and carefully let it slide back home, inside the crystal vial labeled ‘Six’, and then replaced the glass stopper.
“She sure did…She and Charlie have cooled off some, haven’t they?” Harry wondered aloud looking out the kitchen windows towards Little Sound
“Yes, I thought the way they were getting on so well that she might get him to give up the dragons and marry her.” Ginny answered, watching outside as dark clouds rolled in from across the sea. The soft, gentle aqua waves lapping on shore began to increase in size, turning to a steely grey hue as the storm gathered force in the distance.
“They still see each other, right?” he questioned.
“Yes, but I’m not sure if it’s a romantic relationship any longer…” Ginny replied.
“I don’t think it is. She’s been dating Andre recently according to Ron.”
“Andre?” Ginny shifted her attention away from the approaching storm to Harry. “They’d make a good couple; he’s such a softie, even though he’s as big as a house.”
Thunder clapped loudly in the distance causing both Harry and Ginny to glance outside. Flashes of lightning created jagged fingers connecting different cloud banks, causing the clouds to glow briefly when the static discharged violently. Another roll of thunder shook the beach house, by nightfall the storm would be upon them.
“We better get the windows upstairs closed,” Harry suggested, walking past Ginny to the entrance hall where he then ascended the stairs.
“I’ll get the ones down here,” Ginny called, swishing her wand at the various open windows on the lower level. Once the windows and shutters were secure she turned on the telly and flipped channels looking for something to watch. Harry soon returned and the couple lounged on the sofa letting the movie distract them from the coming storm.
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