“Welcome Potter, I am so glad you could join us,” laughed a familiar high pitched voice. The sound of Voldemort’s laughter raised gooseflesh on Harry’s arms.
“Yes, it is so good to see wittle itsy bitsy baby potty again,” cackled the voice of Bellatrix Leatrange.
“Never thought you had it in you,” hissed Voldemort. “You were always so weak so much like that Muggle loving Dumbledore. Always afraid of using the power that you had; always too noble. HA! You’re not noble now Harry. You are one of us.”
The sound of laughter filled Harry’s ears. Everything was dark around him. He was becoming aware of his surroundings. He was lying face down on bare rock, and his eyes were still closed. Forcing them to open he noticed that the air was filled with an eerie green light and he could hear the dripping of water. Lifting his head he realized that he was back in the cave where the fake Horcrux had been hidden.
He sat up and noticed that no one else was here. He was all alone. He stood up to look for the boat so he might escape the island. It was gone. He was alone on the island surrounded by a lake infested with Inferi. Hearing a splash, he turned and noticed that out of the water two hands grabbed the rocky shores of the island he was standing on. Soon other hands appeared out of the water, followed by the bodies of the Inferi.
He saw the dead body of Fenrir Greyback appear out of the water, next to him was Antonin Dolohov and Rodolphus Lestrange. The prisoners that he had killed at Azkaban all started to appear. Their stiff emaciated bodies jerkily moved towards him. He turned to run away, but they had completely surrounded the island. He had nowhere to run. He reached for his wands, but he couldn’t find them.
An ice cold hand grabbed his arm. Its ragged fingernails dug painfully into his flesh. He jerked his arm out of it grasp, tearing open several lacerations. Another hand grabbed him, again clawing at his flesh, then another and another. He swung his arms to escape their icy grip, but for everyone he pushed away two more hands replaced it. He could feel himself being pulled towards the water. All the way the Inferi were inflicting cuts on him as they mercilessly clawed at him.
“I’m sorry,” he screamed at them as he fought for his life. “I didn’t want to kill you. I am sorry!”
Voldemort’s high pitched laughter rang throughout the cave. It was accompanied with Bellatrix’s cackling laugh. “It will do you no good to beg for mercy now, Potter. You are one of us now. There is no turning back. Hahahaha!”
Harry continued to push and fight to get free from the Inferi, but he couldn’t escape them. All the while he could see the icy black water getting nearer. Tears of grief were bitterly forming in his eyes as he cried for forgiveness and mercy, but the Inferi showed him none. He could feel the grip of the icy water around his legs. It seemed to freeze his flesh and cause his bones to ache. The water was splashing over the rest of his body as he fought with the Inferi. The people he had killed. Soon they had a hold of his hair and were pulling him under the water.
As the water surrounded him he saw others down there. Voldemort and his other Death Eaters were waiting for him in the inky depths of the lake, their mangled spectral bodies floating weightlessly in the water. Opening his mouth Harry cried again, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill you. I didn’t want to kill you. I was only protecting my friends.”
“Harry, Wake up,” a familiar voice called for him.
“Wake up, your having a nightmare,” it said, as the Inferi clutched at his body.
Swinging his arms he collided with the Inferi that were holding him down. Once free he swam up to the surface of the lake, but hands once again grabbed him and shook him.
Harry’s eyes popped open and he saw he was in his hospital room. He twisted on his bed trying to escape the grasp of the Inferi. He pulled back his arm to throw a punch, when he realized that it was Ginny that had a hold of him. She had several red welts on her face. One was at the corner of her mouth. Her lips were starting to swell and he could see a trickle of blood running down from her nose.
“Harry are you awake?” she asked, while staring at his face.
He immediately slumped down on the bed, as grief took him over. He wasn’t grieving for the people he killed, but for Ginny. “I’m so sorry, Ginny. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s alright, Harry. You were having a nightmare. Besides, I’ve had worse playing Quidditch,” she said, as she let go of him and wiped her nose. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He laid there and stared at the dark ceiling. There was a single candle burning in the room, only slightly illuminating it. He turned to look at Ginny. He didn’t know why she was here. She knew what he had done. Yet, she has never left his side for the past two days. She was always there to help him, to comfort him, and to reassure him. “How can you stand to be around me?”
“It isn’t bad now that you have had a bath,” she joked with him. “Before, it was pretty difficult though.”
He couldn’t help but smile at her comment. He hadn’t been able to bathe completely until last night, for fear of infecting the wounds. Even though he had had sponge baths, he was rather offensive, until he finally bathed last night. “You know what I mean, Ginny.”
“Well, I am partly responsible for what you did. You did that to protect me, so I am just saying thank you.” She leaned forward and kissed him gently on his cheek.
The icy sensation that had encompassed him during his nightmare was pushed out of him by the warmth of her love.”I’m the luckiest man alive to have someone like you.”
Ginny smiled at him. “You say that now, but wait until I ask you to change our baby’s nappies and you will be wailing about me being a task master.” She laughed her pleasant laugh that always filled him with joy. “I need to clean up a little. Do you want me to get you some tea and call for breakfast, since it doesn’t look like either one of us are going back to sleep this morning.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Then that is a yes,” she said as she walked towards the loo.
He watched her walk away from him. She was so beautiful that she seemed to brighten a room whenever she entered it. He couldn’t stop thinking about what she had just said. The thoughts of having a family together seemed like a dream to him. He had always wanted a family, and to have one with Ginny would be more than he could ever hope to have. A part of him seemed to be telling him that he shouldn’t even think about it, because there was no hope for a future with her. Yet, another part of him hung onto that possibility with great tenacity.
Before he had become a murderer, the thoughts of marrying Ginny and having a family were what helped him keep going through life’s difficulties. Now though, he didn’t feel as though he deserved her. She was everything beautiful in the world. She brightened any room that she entered with her smile. Even her temper had a dangerous beauty to it, like a summer thunderstorm with its brilliant lightning display. He no longer deserved her, now that he has murdered.
Professor Dumbledore had told him about how murder would split the soul. He had even seen the results of it, but that didn’t stop him. He was so afraid of what Greyback would do to Ginny and Hermione. Dolohov had plans for the rest of the Weasley’s. He had to stop them, but he didn’t necessarily have to kill them. Even now as he has replayed the scene in his mind, he has tried to think of other ways to have stopped them. If he could have stunned all six of the sorcerers with the wands, then he could have subdued them, but they had Ennervated each other as fast as he could Stun them. If only he had known of better more powerful spells like Professor Dumbledore knew. He wouldn’t have needed to have killed them. If he had studied harder while at Hogwarts he wouldn’t have needed to become a murderer.
“Was the dream like the others you had?” asked Ginny, as she held out a mug of tea for him. The welts on her face were healed along with her bloody nose.
Harry thought back to last night’s dream. “It was almost the same. I think. It did seem a little different, though.” Ginny sat on the side of his bed and tossed her long hair over her one shoulder before sipping on her tea. The sight of her neck and face framed by her mane of crimson hair took Harry’s breath away.
“What seemed different about it?”
Sipping on his cup of tea, he swallowed, but didn’t feel the warmth of it fill him. He was already filled with warmth from her presence. He thought about the dreams, tonights and last nights. They were almost identical, but something was slightly different. “It seems as if there were fewer Inferi in tonights.”
“Really, less Inferi,” Ginny said hopefully. She had placed a hand on his arm when she said that, and her eyes were filled with hope. “Hermione and the Healers will be happy to hear that.”
Harry started to laugh. “I am sure Hermione will be writing everything down about my dreams, just like at Hogwarts the obsessive note taker.” His laughter suddenly died. “Have you told them about your injuries, because of my dreams?”
“No! There’s no reason that they need to know that.”
“I don’t mean to hurt you, Ginny. I am – the dreams seem so real and I am so afraid…” He stopped talking as the fear of being in that cave came back to him. Ginny set her tea down on his nightstand and wrapped her arms around his chest. Feeling her arms around him, comforting him, he pulled her tighter to him with his one free arm. Her head came to just below his chin. Suddenly all fear was pushed from him. The only thing he knew now was Ginny was there for him. Kissing the top of her head, he whispered, “Thank you for being here.”
She didn’t say anything, but lifted her head and stared in his eyes. The love he saw in her beautiful brown eyes took his breath away. Her freckled face was mere inches from his. Her lips were so close so enticing that he had to kiss her. Leaning his lips into hers he gently kissed her. It was heavenly bliss to feel her lips. They didn’t break apart but gently kissed for a little longer. He couldn’t hold back any longer. He deepened the kiss reveling in the taste of her. He reached out to pull her tighter to him, when suddenly his legs were burning.
He let out a little scream and Ginny also jumped back, as Harry came to his senses and realized that he had poured his tea on him and Ginny. They stood there on opposite sides of the bed staring at the tea stains on their robes for a second before they started laughing at each other.
Ginny used her wand and got rid of the hot tea from both of their robes. “I guess we shouldn’t have gotten carried away with ourselves. A nurse will be here soon with our breakfast and to check your wounds for infection.”
Harry looked at her across the bed. He could feel his guilt creep back into him now that she wasn’t touching him. She was giving up so much to be with him, to help a murderer.
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
“How many were there?” asked Hermione with her quill positioned above her parchment.
“I’m not sure,” groaned Harry. “What does it matter how many there were?”
“You said that in last night’s nightmare there were less Inferi than the previous four nights, so how many less?” Hermione asked the question again.
Harry ran his hand through his hair and let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t know maybe half as many as the first night,” he harshly responded. “So does this mean that in five more days I won’t be having anymore nightmares?”
Hermione stopped scribbling on her parchment and looked at Ron who was beside her.
“Harry, mate, my mum still gets them from when she killed Bellatix,” said Ron nervously.
Harry had known that because Mrs. Weasley had spoken to him the first day he was awake. He had been shocked by her admission to feeling the same as he does now. She also gave him hope for different reasons. One was because she had overcome this feeling of guilt and worthlessness, and the other was because she was one of the most decent and kindest persons he has ever known. Yet, she had killed someone. Realizing those two things seemed to help him on his road to recovery. He still had moments when he hated himself and felt he wasn’t worthy of having friends like his, but those moments are coming less frequent.
“I know, Ron. She told me about it. I just wish they were over, and I would stop…” He stopped talking and looked at his friends. He didn’t want to continue what he was going to say. He didn’t want them to know he had been hurting Ginny during his nightmares. Instinctively, he raised himself on the sofa he was on and peered into his hospital room to see if she was still sleeping on the bed.
“What do you want to stop, Harry?” questioned Hermione.
Harry looked from her questioning look to Ron’s and couldn’t say it. “I wish it didn’t take such a toll on Ginny. She isn’t getting enough sleep with being up most of the night keeping me calm.”
Ron guffawed at Harry’s comment. “If you think she is going to leave you alone at night or anytime, you are barmy. It would take a gang of Aurors to drag her away from you.”
Harry laughed at his best mates comment. “I just wished I wasn’t such a burden on her.”
“Harry, she is doing what she wants to do. She couldn’t stand being away from you when you are hurting. Please don’t ask her to leave,” warned Hermione.
Harry stood up from the sofa he had been on in the waiting area of the hospital complex. He paced to the open doorway between the rooms and back to the sofas. “Has she talked about my nightmares?”
“She has just told us about you having them and waking you up,” stated Hermione. She gazed at him with a penetrating gaze. “Why?”
Harry paced back and forth again and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. He didn’t want to say anything because Ron will pummel him, but he’s tired of hurting Ginny. “I am hurting Ginny,” he said barely above a whisper.
“You are what?” shouted Ron and he stood up, his fist clenched, and his face scarlet red.
“When I am having the nightmares, I try to fight off the Inferi. I end up hitting Ginny. I don‘t want to hurt her anymore, but she won’t leave.”
“Oh, is that all,” said Ron calmly. He sat back down beside Hermione. “Mate, we kind of figured with the dreams you had been having that you were thrashing about. You haven’t hit Ginny after you are awake…”
“No! I would never. Don’t you see? I am hurting her. I swing to hit an Inferi in my nightmares, but I end up hurting her.”
“You haven’t hurled on her?” asked Ron. “Hitting is one thing, but I remembered when you were having your nightmares with Voldemort, you would wake up and hurl. Doing that on her would be just nasty.”
The golden trio shared a laugh at Ron’s comment. Harry felt good laughing about his problems with his friends. He was most grateful that they weren’t angry at him for hurting Ginny. It was something that he had to tell them. It had been bothering him and now that others knew about it and understood. He just wished he could control himself better while dreaming so he wouldn’t hurt her.
“Any other questions Hermione?” Harry asked.
“No, that is all for today, I will finish writing up this report for the Healers. This is important research we are doing Harry. I hope you realize that I am not asking these questions to annoy you. Ron’s Mum has had to answer many questions about her experience with this, along with any other Aurors who have killed in the line of duty. I am just excited about being able to help out with the research. I even bought some Muggle books on the subject.”
“Yeah poor girl has been suffering so much sitting around researching and reading all the time,” Ron added sardonically. Hermione playfully elbowed him while Harry chuckled at the comment. “So are you going to accept the Order of Merlin that they want to award you?”
“No, not for this, but they will just award it to me anyway,” grumbled Harry. “It was practically my fault there was an escape. I came up with the new procedures to secure the prison, and there was still an escape.”
“Now Harry,” started Hermione in her bossy tone. “You know that isn’t true. It was that guard who tried to torture Greyback. If he hadn’t gone down there with his wand, Greyback would have never gotten it off of him, and the prison break would have never happened.”
“I know Hermione, but I still feel a little guilty.”
“Of course you do, you are Harry Potter and that is what you do,” teased Ron. “The general public isn’t upset with you. The only ones voicing any complaints are the people who want all the Death Eaters executed. Even France hasn’t started their “Harry Potter is a murderer” claim again. I guess Fleur’s parents said that you are now a hero in that country too. They were all quite distressed that so many important people were corrupt in their government.”
“Alberto Sabatini was a huge help with convincing them that we were attacked for protecting Muggles,” said Harry. “I guess I was lucky I saved his life back in Grimmauld Place.”
Everyone stopped talking as the door opened coming from the Apparition and Portkey Room. It was a hospital worker pushing a cart with lunch for Harry and Ginny on it. Even though she wasn’t a patient, the hospital has been giving her meals with Harry. The worker was a young man probably in his mid twenties. “I have meals here for Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley.” He said excitedly. “I was wondering if I might – um – be able to get an – um – autograph.”
Ron and Hermione looked at Harry and smiled at him. He felt rather embarrassed to be asked for an autograph by a man who was older than him. “You want my autograph?”
The man looked shocked at him. “No, not yours Mr. Potter, I wanted to get Miss Weasley to sign my copy of Quidditch Today.” He pulled a magazine off the tray. He held it up and on the cover was a picture of Ginny grabbing a Snitch. The headlines were flashing calling her; The Harpies Sexy Siren Seeker.
“Where did you get that mag?” Harry asked the man.
“At the Hospital’s news stand.”
Harry looked at Ron, who stood up and started out the door. “I’ll be back with as many as I can buy, Harry,” said Ron as he walked away.
“I’ll wake Ginny,” said Harry, as he walked into the hospital room. He was enjoying this. It was Ginny’s turn to deal with the publicity. He knew that Quidditch Today was the most popular Quidditch mag in the entire world. He gently jostled her to wake her up. She grumbled something about sleeping a little longer, but he pulled her hair back from her face and tickled her cheek. She swatted at his hand, before rolling over to look up at him. As she slowly gazed up at him with sleepy eyes, Harry was captivated how lovely she looked.
“You want me to move to make room for you?” she asked with a husky voice.
Seeing her like this made Harry want to close the curtains and do just that, but he forced back those feelings. “I woke you up because the attendant with our lunch wants your autograph.”
Ginny gave him a strange look. “My autograph?” she asked.
“Yes, love, you are on the cover of Quidditch Today.”
Ginny sat up in bed immediately and stared out the door of the room to see an overly anxious young man staring back at her. She looked at Harry and he saw panic in her eyes, before she jumped off the bed and ran to the other room. He walked behind her curious as to why she was acting this way.
Ginny’s fan was a little shorter than Harry and slighter built. He had a thin pointy face and straight black hair that he was trying to fix to look his best. When Ginny reached him, he nervously smiled at her. “Miss Weasley could you sign my mag for me,” he said, as he held it out. Ginny took it from him without saying anything. She stared at the front cover a second before breathing a sigh of relief. “My name is Barty Bringe,” he said. “Could you sign it to Barty Bringe?”
“Ah, yeah, sure, I don’t have a quill,” Ginny stated.
Harry watched from behind her as she took Hermione’s quill and started to sign the front cover. Barty though stopped her. “Not the cover, I want you to sign the fold out.” He flipped the mag open and unfolded the center page of it.
From behind, Harry could see a picture of someone with long red hair and a lot of exposed skin, before Ginny grabbed it out his hands. Hermione who was closer to them stood up from the sofa. She had a shocked look on her face. Ginny turned back to him. She had the mag clutched to her chest. She looked to be almost in tears. “Harry, I didn’t know that…”
Her plea was interrupted by Ron coming from the Apparition Room with Gwenog Jones. “Hey, Ginny, look who I found down at the stand,” yelled Ron. He had several mags under his arm and was in the process of looking through one for the article.
Gwenog stepped around him and apologized as she ran to Ginny, “I am sorry Ginny I didn’t know that they would put that picture in the mag.”
Ginny stepped past Barty and started towards Gwenog. “Gwen, how could they do this without my permission?” she nearly screamed at her coach, while shaking Barty’s mag in her hands.
Ron had stopped walking, as he had suddenly unfolded the centerfold. His eyes bulged in his face as he stared at the picture of his sister. “Bloody Hell!”
Hermione immediately turned on him. “Ronald! How could you look at that! That is your own sister!”
Suddenly, Barty grabbed Ginny’s arm and spun her around. “Would you please sign the mag and give it back.” He had grabbed her so quickly that when she spun she let out a little squeak as though he had hurt her.
The room went completely silent as Barty suddenly flew backwards from Ginny and was suspended from his heel hanging at the far side of the room. Harry held his wand up supporting Barty, as he walked up to him.
Ginny ran to Harry in fear of what he was going to do. “Harry, he didn’t hurt me. He caught me by surprise.”
Harry continued to walk towards Barty. When he was standing so he could look him in the eyes, Harry final spoke. “Don’t you ever lay a hand on her again,” he hissed out dangerously.
“Please don’t kill me,” pleaded Barty. He immediately dropped to the hard tile floor with a loud thump.
“If I was going to kill you, you’d be dead,” growled Harry. He felt Ginny’s hand on his arm. He turned and saw that she appeared to be ready to cry.
“Please don’t hurt him. I am sorry this happened…”
“Could I look at this picture?” he asked her.
When she handed him the mag, his stomach tightened. He never expected Ginny to do something like this. It seemed so out of character for her to pose for pictures of this type. Opening the mag, he quickly found the centerfold. Ginny was in a brown bikini. The top seemed to be too small for her, but other than that, it looked like she was just someone walking on the beach. Her hair was fanned out behind her as she walked into the wind. Harry’s breath caught in his throat seeing her picture, because she was so radiantly beautiful. There were others walking beside her that weren’t in the picture, and she was talking to them as she walked. He stood there transfixed. Even though she looked so beautiful in the picture there seemed to be something wrong with it. When he finally looked up from the picture, everyone was staring at him. Ginny was biting her lip with tears welling up in her eyes.
“You look fantastic in a bikini, Ginny,” he calmly said.
“You’re not angry,” asked Ginny.
“Not at you, besides I thought a picture like this would have had less clothing.”
“It was supposed to be of the entire team in bikinis, not just me. I am sorry. I was going to tell you about this, but the pictures and the interviews were five days ago. I had written a letter to you warning you about it, but I got called here and it completely slipped my mind.”
He stared at her reaction to this. She seemed so ashamed of having her picture in the mag. He gently stroked her cheek and cupped his hand under her jaw. “I said that I am not angry at you. If you say that you didn’t know about the picture than I believe you.”
Ginny turned her face to kiss his hand, and whispered, “Thank you.”
“Well that is all nice and sweet, but I want my mag back,” stated Barty from behind Harry.
Harry still had it in his other hand. He turned and stuck it out to him. “Here, don’t expect any autographs either, now leave.”
Barty grabbed the mag and walked to the door. “You celebrities are all bloody mental, you know that,” he said before leaving.
Ron waved goodbye to him with one finger, but Hermione didn’t seem to notice, because she had her nose buried in the magazines article. “Ginny, you said that the picture was supposed to be of the entire team?”
“Here is a picture, and it looks like they used it to get that centerfold of you.” She opened two magazines, one to the centerfold and one to the picture of the entire team. “The people beside you in the team picture are also beside you in your centerfold.”
“I knew they had to do something like that, Hermione. I only had the team picture taken with that bikini. Believe me, I quickly covered up as soon as I could.” She let out a little sigh. “They wanted to have a private picture shoot with me, but I said no. I guess it really didn’t matter. They got their picture anyway.”
“Ginny,” interjected Gwenog. “I am so sorry about this. I knew you would be upset about this. I just wanted you to know that I didn’t authorize them doing the centerfold. The team picture I thought was a good idea. It would definitely prove that git form the Bulgarian Ministry wrong.” She finished talking and stared at Ginny apprehensively waiting for her to respond.
“I believe you,” said Ginny. She then turned to Harry. “The Minister for Games of Bulgaria claimed that I had to be a man to defeat Viktor Krum. He tried to have the match cancelled to keep Viktor’s streak alive.”
“A man?” questioned Harry.
“Actually most of the team was supposed to be men,” replied Gwenog. “I think the team picture in bikini’s disproved that theory.”
Harry looked at his girlfriend and laughed. “That must have been one desperate individual to come up with that load of bullocks.”
“Ginny this article is really very complimentary,” stated Hermione. “Here it says ‘Ginny Weasley in her first year of playing professional Quidditch could possibly be the next great Seeker. Her performance during the Harpies match with the Bulgarian national team exemplified that. She not only broke Viktor Krum’s streak of capturing the Snitch, but she also scored several goals as a reserve Chaser.’ Pretty impressive praise, Ginny.”
“You should have seen her. She was amazing,” boasted Harry.
Hermione smiled as she turned her magazine around and showed Harry a picture. It was of Ginny and him snogging in the stands. “The caption reads; ‘Ginny Weasley gets a good luck kiss from her fiancé, Harry Potter, during a break.’ Nice picture you two, did you know they were taking it?”
Harry felt his face get warm, at having his picture taken while snogging Ginny, but he was happy they put that picture in the paper.
“Here it talks about how Ginny feels about you, Harry,” said Hermione cheerfully. “’Ginny Weasley is not available. She makes it quite clear to anyone who dares approach her. A prime example was after the Bulgarian match when’…” Hermione abruptly stopped talking and glanced up at Ginny then Harry.
“When what?” asked Ron.
“Yes, Hermione, what else did it say?” asked Harry. He could feel Ginny stiffen when Hermione stopped talking. “Ginny what happened?”
Hermione and Ginny stared at each other, as though they were trying to talk by telepathy. Harry noticed that Gwen also had become nervous about something.
“What happened Ginny?” asked Harry again. Ginny stepped away from him and stared nervously up at him. This did nothing but raise his apprehension about what she was hiding from him.
“Harry, please don’t get angry until I can explain. All right?” pleaded Ginny.
“Well hearing that isn’t helping, but I’ll try. What happened?”
“After the match, I was upset that you had to leave,” she said as she seemed to be searching for words. “Greta and Zelda our Beaters wanted to go out and celebrate, but I told them no. I just wanted to go back to my own room and go to sleep. Well Charlie escorted me to my room because the place was mayhem and I couldn’t get through the crowds of fans. He also gave me what you had left for me.”
Harry remembered leaving her his shirt for her to wear to bed.
“I went in my room and took a bath and had just put on your shirt to go to bed when someone knocked at my door. I asked who it was, and Greta and Zelda said they had a gift for me from Bulgaria. I thought it was the champagne that Viktor owed me from our bet.”
“Vicky owed you champagne?” interrupted Ron.
“Yes, we bet on the match. If he captured the Snitch, I was going to buy him cognac.” Ginny stopped talking and stared off in space for a second. “He never did get me the champagne. Any way where was I? Oh yes, when I opened the door, Greta and Zelda had a male prostitute for me.”
“What!” said Harry, his anger quickly building.
“Harry, Ginny has always been true to you. It was Greta and Zelda, those two have the morals of dogs in heat,” pleaded Gwenog.
“I was angry at them, and it only increased my frustration at you needing to go home before we could spend some time alone together. I hit all three of them with Bat-Bogey Hexes.”
Ron let out a loud snort of laughter. “That’s my sister,” he said proudly.
“Well, Olaf had a large drink in his hands, and threw it all over my shirt. That made me even angrier, because now I couldn’t smell your scent on the shirt anymore. So I hit him with a Furnunculus spell, I didn’t realize that it would do so much damage to his exposed willie.”
“His exposed what?” snapped Harry angrily.
Ginny seemed to jump a little at his comment before cutting him off. “Yes, he was only wearing a robe. He opened it when Greta and Zelda introduced him, and the ruddy bastard told me that ‘my dreams were going to come true’ that’s when I hit them with the Bat-Bogeys.”
Harry stood there stoic. He wasn’t actually angry, but he wasn’t exactly happy about what he had heard. It made him wonder about what else Ginny had been exposed to while away with the Harpies.
Ginny stepped up to him and place one of her small delicate hands on his forearm. She looked up in his eyes. “Are you upset with me?”
“I never knew that there were such things as male prostitutes,” he said. “Where would they find one?”
“It isn’t difficult, Harry. I never told you about everything that happened on the tour, because I thought you would be upset with me. I was afraid you would think that I was being unfaithful to you, and start shagging others over here.”
Harry looked up at Gwenog Jones and them back down to Ginny. “What type of things?”
“Harry,” interjected Gwenog. Her voice carried an authority to it. She stepped forward and laid a hand on Ginny shoulder. “Don’t be upset with Ginny, she had no clue to what life was like on the road. It isn’t uncommon to find men who want to shag a female Quidditch player. It is something to brag about, I guess. Ginny was shocked at this. Of course there are several members of the team that rather enjoy satisfying these men. Because we spend a great deal of time in hotels, we also run into the usual seedy characters that inhabit them. Male prostitutes along with female ones are just a few of them. Everywhere we went there was always someone wanting to buy us dinner or drinks. Ginny never took anyone up on any of those offers.” Gwenog stopped talking and looked down at Ginny, before continuing. She seemed to have remembered something, but didn’t say anything. “Harry, she has always been faithful to you. Almost everyone on the team knew this, but those randy Beaters are not that sensitive to anyone in a relationship like that.”
Harry stood there trying to sort things out in his mind. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling right now. It was somewhere between betrayal and jealousy. He believed Gwenog and Ginny that she had been faithful to him, but why didn’t she ever tell him everything.
“I think that the two of you need some time alone to talk,” said Hermione, as she grabbed Ron’s arm and tried to move him to the door. Ron resisted her and glared at Ginny, Gwenog, and Harry. He looked to be angry, but couldn’t decide who to be angry with. “Ron, let’s go,” growled Hermione through clenched teeth.
“All right, Hermione,” spat Ron. “Harry remembered what I said about when you are awake. All right!”
Harry looked up at him. “I’ll remember.”
“And you,” Ron said pointing at Ginny.
Ginny turned and directed all her anger and frustration at her brother, as she pulled her wand and pointed at his face. “Sod of Ronald,” she shouted so loud that her voice echoed in the room. “I don’t need you accusing me of anything that didn’t happen.”
Hermione gave Ron a hard shove and he started walking towards the door.
Harry saw that they were leaving with all the magazines. “Could you leave one of those mags, Ron?”
He tossed one on the chair closest to the door. “I’ll talk to you two later,” he said threateningly, before leaving with Hermione, who had turned and gave Ginny and Harry an apologetic look.
“Ginny, could I talk to you before I leave,” asked Gwenog.
Ginny looked at Harry then at Gwenog before nodding. They walked over to the hospital room and closed the door. Harry watched as they talked. Gwenog seemed to be pleading with Ginny about something, but Ginny kept her gaze downcast. He turned away and went to get the magazine on the chair. He picked it up and started to read through it. There were several pictures of the team in it, but most of them were of Ginny. He walked back over to the sofa where he was sitting before, and sat down to read the article.
He couldn’t focus on the words. All he could think about are all the men and teenage boys who are going to be staring at Ginny’s picture. He sat there and stared at the first page intent on reading it, but never making it past the first word.
The door to his hospital room opened and Ginny and Gwenog walked out together. They both had somber expressionless faces. Ginny sat on the sofa facing Harry, while Gwenog left after waving goodbye to him.
“I didn’t tell you about the night life, because it bothered me so much to see it.”She turned her left hand over so he could see the ruby heart of her engagement ring. She took the index finger of her right hand and gently moved the heart back and forth on her finger. “I always thought that when someone gives or gets a ring it is a sign of commitment. Probably a third of the men, who were chatting us up, had wedding rings. They didn’t even care if we knew they were married to someone. I was afraid that you would get angry with the situation and ask me to come home. As much as I hated seeing that kind of thing, I loved the rest of it. Moving from one city to another living in expensive hotels and playing Quidditch all day long, it was almost a dream come true. Harry, I am sorry that I didn’t tell you. I had planned on telling you when I got home, but other things made me forget.”
“I’m not angry with you, Ginny. In fact, I am not sure what I feel right now. I am somewhere between jealous and angry at all the ruddy blokes out there who have been chatting you up,” Harry stopped talking and ran his hand through his hair. “I guess I am feeling the same thing that you felt when we first got back together. Then everyone was calling me the most eligible wizard, and now you are this Sexy Siren Seeker.”
Ginny stood up and walked up to him. She stood there and stared at him for a second before bending down and gently grabbing his face. She kissed him passionately, and pushed him back against the sofa, as she straddled him. Harry instinctively wrapped his arms around her and returned the kiss with just as much passion. He slid his one arm up her back through her silky hair and the other he grabbed her arse and pulled her in tighter to him. She arched her back and raised her head up pulling his face to her neck. He nibbled at her ear and ran a series of kisses down her throat. He enjoyed hearing her groan with pleasure.
She repositioned herself and pulled away from him, so that she was looking in his eyes. Her lips were slightly swollen and her face was flushed, but her eyes caught his attention. He was spellbound by the look in her chocolate brown eyes. They were soft loving, and more. He felt like he could look all the way into her soul through her eyes.
“I have grown up a lot on the road,” she huskily said. “I realized that because a person makes a promise that they are not bound to it, but you have always kept your promises to me.” She leaned in and gently kissed him and even playfully nibbled his lip as she pulled away. “The men and also the women, whom spent all their time looking for someone to satisfy their longings for a night, they all had empty eyes. Not like yours Harry. I’ve heard tell that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. Their eyes were empty and hollow, but yours are filled with life and love. I never realized what I had in you, until I saw the other side of life.” She stopped talking and started to snog him.
Harry responded to the snogging, but inside he was starting to have doubts about what she said. He truly didn’t feel that good of a person. He definitely didn’t feel whole again.
Stopping again, Ginny looked him in the eyes. “I love you with all my heart. The day we get bonded will make no difference in my heart as to how much I love you or am committed to you. As far as I am concerned, I am already your wife, Harry.”
She slammed her lips into his as she ran her fingers through her hair. His heart was thumping against his ribs with excitement after what she had said. She feathered kisses back his cheek to his ear, where she whispered, “Make love to me.”
“What?” he said or thought he said. He was so worked up right now that he wasn’t sure he could even speak.
She pulled back and said it again. “Make love to me.”
“B – But we are in a hospital room. Nurses and healers could come in at anytime.”
“Lock the doors.”
“They don’t have locks.”
She slumped a little at his last comment. “I’m sorry Harry. I just have waited so long thinking that a piece of metal would make all the difference in the world. It doesn’t, if the people don’t truly love each other. I truly love you, and I know you feel the same about me. I don’t need to wait any longer to be sure. Whenever you are ready, I am also.”
She kissed him once more, before she started to get off his lap. Harry was having another internal battle. He was wondering if he was now the biggest prat in the world for turning her down. He wouldn’t be comfortable knowing that at anytime someone could walk in on them, and he still wasn’t even sure if he was good for her. He loved her, but was he actually good for her.
Ginny curled up beside him, and laid her head on his shoulder. He leaned in to her while trying to decide if he should take her up on the offer, or wait. She was the most beautiful woman in the world to him. His thoughts were interrupted when the door from the Apparition Zone flew open.
Arthur Weasley walked through the door and yelled, “Ginevra Molly Weasley, what were you thinking!”
Ginny sat up and stared at her father in shock. Harry had a hard time keeping from laughing. He was covered with soot and ashes. Parts of his robes were still smoldering. He had a burnt up copy of Quidditch Today in his hand and what hair he had looked to have been burnt off.
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
“Your move, mate.”
Harry ignored Ron’s comment as he stared at the chessboard. He was seeing what he never saw before, a chance to beat Ron. Ron has been distracted today and had allowed Harry to possibly win. Moving his bishop, Harry announced, “Check, mate.”
“What?” exclaimed Ron, as he stared at the board. “That isn’t a checkmate, it is only check.”
“That’s what I said, mate,” teased Harry.
Ron looked at him and then back down to the board. Hermione, who was sitting beside Ron, smiled up at Harry. They were sitting in the Burrows sitting room. It was decorated for Christmas which was tomorrow. Harry was sitting on an ottoman with his back to the fireplace, while Ron and Hermione sat of the sofa. The chessboard rested on the coffee table, and the remains of their lunch beside it. The official Christmas celebration will be in a week, when Bill, Fleur, Victoire return from France. Even with the actual celebration a week away, the Burrow was fully decorated for the holiday.
“While you are looking at the board, Ron, I want to go upstairs,” said Harry, as he stood up from the ottoman.
“Checking on Ginny again?” asked Hermione. She smiled up at him with her know-it-all smile.
“I was going to the loo, and I might peak in and see how she is sleeping,” countered Harry.
“She is probably the same as the last three times you’ve checked on her, Harry,” laughed Hermione.
Harry sat back down on the ottoman with a sigh. “I don’t think she is sleeping at night. I am so worried about her. Maybe you could talk to her, Hermione. Tell her to get some sleep. I don’t need her to watch over me. My nightmares aren’t that bad anymore.”
“Harry, we have told her that. She is just concerned about you. She is just doing what she wants to do.”
“These past few weeks have been a nightmare to her also,” sighed Harry. “With that picture appearing in the mag like that.” Harry started to chuckle. “I wish you could have seen your father when he came into the hospital room, Ron.”
Ron laughed at Harry’s comment. “Your move, Harry. I wish I could have been there in the lift when he heard those blokes from maintenance making rude comments about Ginny. You would think he would have realized you shouldn’t cast an Incendio spell in an enclosed space like a lift.”
“I am glad you and George haven’t been too judgmental of her. She has had enough of that from your dad and Percy,” Harry said, as he made his next move.
“Well Harry it was a bit of a shock to see your little sister on a page like that. You are right, that she had a bikini on, but still it was a shock. I don’t think I will get used to being called Ginny Weasley’s older brother. You would think I would be used to though after all those years of being Harry Potter’s best mate.” Ron stopped talking and moved his knight to take Harry’s bishop. “Your move.”
Harry looked down at the board and studied what Ron had done. “It just seems like I am causing Ginny all types of problems. Did she tell you that the other Seeker doesn’t want to play after Christmas? Sara had her leg broken during the Bulgarian match, and doesn’t want anything like that happening again. Gwenog wants Ginny to return to the team after the holidays. I don’t know if Ginny will return. Maybe if you two talk to her…”
“Forget it Harry,” Hermione said cutting him off. “The only way that she would do that is if you stop having nightmares. She is doing what she wants. She is willingly staying up all night to watch over you. Besides, I didn’t think you would mind her spending the night with you.”
Harry felt his face get warm. He wanted Ginny with him, but sleeping beside him not standing watch over him. Harry suddenly saw a move. Moving his queen, he sat back and looked at Ron. “Checkmate, mate,” he said with a laugh.
Ron looked down at the board and shook his head back and forth. It was the first time that Harry has ever beaten him at Wizard’s Chess. Ron sighed and looked at Hermione for a second. Harry could tell that something was on Ron’s mind. He noticed that Hermione was giving Ron some kind of nod, as though he should talk to Harry. Ron cleared his throat nervously. “Harry, I was thinking about putting in my application for Auror training. George really doesn’t need my help anymore. He is pretty stable now that he has Angelina in his life. I would really appreciate if you could put a good word in for me.”
“Why would I need to do that, Ron? You passed all your NEWTs, and you have an Order of Merlin first class, also. I can assure you that the Auror department will accept your application with no problems.”
Ron and Hermione looked at each other again. “I was wondering if there is a possibility of us training together.”
Harry scratched his chin. “I doubt it. I am almost done. The best chance of that would be if I was your trainer.”
Ron visibly brightened at the idea. “All right, I could handle that. It would be like the old DA.” He leaned over and kissed Hermione. “Well I need to get back to the shop. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for Christmas at the Grangers, Harry.”
Hermione turned to Harry. “Yes, Harry, my parents are expecting you to be there. My father wants to repay you that twenty-five thousand pounds you loaned him.”
“He doesn’t have to, Hermione.”
“Yes, he does, Harry,” stated Hermione. She stood up to leave with Ron.
“Hermione,” said Harry nervously. “Do you need to get back to the Ministry, right now?”
Hermione looked at him, with a questioning look, “Why?”
“I was – um – wondering if we could talk,” he struggled to say.
“All right.” She kissed Ron once more, before he Flooed to the shop. After Ron left, she walked over and sat down on the sofa. “What do you want to talk about?”
Harry started to talk, but he nervously looked around the Burrow. “Could we go for a walk?”
“Harry, it is freezing cold out.”
“Please Hermione, it is important,” he pleaded.
Grudgingly Hermione stood up, and they both went and pulled on their traveling cloaks, before walking out into the cold winter air. Harry started walking around the house to the orchard with Hermione walking behind him. The snow was halfway to their knees and it crunched with every step. The sun was out making the snow a brilliant white. With each breath they puffed out large volumes of steam into the bitter cold air. It had been an extremely cold day even for December twenty-fourth. Harry finally stopped when they reached the barren trees of the orchard. He turned and looked at Hermione trying to muster the courage to talk.
“Has Ginny ever talked to you about me?”
“What? Harry, she talks about you all the time. What is this all about Harry? I am freezing out here.”
Harry rocked on his numb feet several times before finally spoke. “Ginny wants to – to take our relationship further.”
Awareness shown on Hermione’s face and a slight blush to her cheeks she realized why he was talking to her. “Harry, why are you telling me this?”
“I have no one else to talk to. I can’t really talk to my best mate. I doubt Ron would appreciate it.”
“I realize that Harry, but what do you want me to tell you. You do know…”
“Yes, I do,” he quickly said. “I want to make her happy. When we snog it is wonderful, I think she is enjoying it also, but I am not sure. I just want to make her happy Hermione.”
“I can assure you that when you two snog, she is more than just happy,” Hermione sniggered.
“Really,” sighed Harry sending a large puff of steam out of his mouth.
“Harry, don’t worry about making Ginny happy. She loves you. You will always be able to make her happy.” Hermione stopped talking and laughed to herself. “I never thought I would ever have a conversation with you about this. If you are still unsure, Harry. I would recommend that you get the book “The Magic of Love.” I highly recommend it,” she said with a roguish smile.
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Molly Weasley woke up on Christmas day. The sun wasn’t even up yet. She laid in bed thinking about having a lie in. She was going to the Grangers today, so she didn’t need to prepare any big meals. The Weasley’s Christmas celebration would be next week when Bill and Fleur return from France. She decided to get up anyway, and see how Harry and Ginny are doing.
His nightmares have been waking him up every night. Ginny has stayed up all night to make sure he was all right. They would usually be awake drinking tea, when she would make her way down to the kitchen each morning.
She should go down and wish them Happy Christmas and have some breakfast with them. Maybe Ginny would have breakfast ready, she had been doing that also. Her daughter has become such a young woman taking responsibility for Harry’s care. She only wished that magazine hadn’t printed that picture of her. Maybe she was wearing a swim suit, but it still made her appear to be a scarlet woman.
Molly pulled on her favourite threadbare house robes, and walked out of her bedroom. She walked down the stairs, instinctively missing all the loose floorboards on the way to the kitchen. She finally made it to the kitchen. She looked around and saw that it was empty.
She turned and ran up the stairs to Ginny’s room where Harry and she had been sleeping. She stepped through the doorway nervous that something was wrong with Harry. She stopped at the sight before her eyes. Harry was sound asleep with Ginny in his arms. They were both in the camp bed set up for him. It didn’t look like Ginny had slept in her bed. Molly stood there and watched her daughter peacefully sleep in the arms of her love. It looked like Harry had finally had a peaceful night sleep, and the alarm didn’t even go off.
She stared at her daughters face. It was so peaceful. It has always amazed her that no matter how old her children get, she can still see their baby faces when she looks at them sleeping. Ginny sleeping there looks so much like she did when she was only a little baby. Suppressing a tear of joy from falling down her cheek, Molly Weasley quietly closed the door to her daughter’s room, and returned to bed.