Arthur Weasley addressed everybody around the breakfast table, “It’s time we stopped looking back and started to think about the future. What do you all think you want to do? Ron?”
“Well, I was thinking that I could go and work with George for a while. Just until I decide on something long term.
“Okay, that’s a plan of sorts I suppose. How about you Hermione?”
“I think I might go back to Hogwarts to get my NEWTS.”
“But Hogwarts is closed Hermione.” said Ron.
“It’s got to re-open hasn’t it; I mean where else are the children going to go? After that I’m not sure, teaching perhaps. I also think that ‘Hogwarts. A History’ could do with revising and updating.”
“No shortage of ambition then Hermione. That’s good.” Arthur laughed, “I shouldn’t really tell you this but there’s going to be an announcement in a couple of day’s time that Hogwarts is re-opening this year.”
“That’s great.” said Hermione. Arthur turned to his daughter,
“Ginny, you of course are also going back to school. So Harry what about you?” Before Harry could reply, Ginny interrupted,
“No, I’m not.” she said calmly.
“Not what?” asked Mr. Weasley.
“I’m not going back to school.” That made everyone sit up and take notice.
Mrs. Weasley slapped her hand on the table, “You most certainly are, young lady, and there’s an end.” Ginny did not flinch.
“Mum I’m seventeen now, and I am not going back to Hogwarts.”
“So what will you do?” Molly asked.
“I have something in mind, but I don’t want to talk about it yet,” She glanced at Harry, “…to anyone.” She added pointedly. Harry got the message. Arthur sighed,
“Well no doubt we will talk about this again. Harry, your turn.” This time it was Ron who chimed in.
“Why not Quidditch Harry, you would have a great career?”
Harry looked around the table, “For some reason I’m not sure of, I’ve lost interest in playing Quidditch, at least for a living. I’m going to apply for Auror training.”
Ron looked surprised, “Why’s that then? Voldemort’s gone.”
“There’s no guarantee that some other nutter won’t try the same sort of evil, is there? I think that there will always be someone idiotic enough to think that they can succeed where Voldemort failed.”
“Absolutely, I think you can practically guarantee that. That makes a lot of sense.” said Hermione. Breakfast was all but finished. Ron looked out of the window,
“Look out, here comes Errol.” A brown owl hurtled through the window carrying the Daily Prophet and a couple of letters. Errol made a perfect landing on the table but forgot to brake and skidded all the way to the other end, scattering cups, glasses and cutlery in every direction. Hermione gathered up the letters and paper and handed them round, while Mrs. Weasley waved her wand and cleared up the rest. Harry took the paper; Mr. Weasley took the official Ministry letter that was addressed to him. The final letter she handed to Ginny who laid it on the table beside her plate.
“Hey, listen to this. The Ministry is going to close Azkaban next month. All remaining prisoners will be squibbed and then held in a new prison being built on the mainland. They are also going to stop using Dementors as guards.” Harry had used the term ‘squibbed’ which had become the common way to describe offenders whose magical abilities had been disabled. He looked around the table, only then noticing Ginny’s absence. “Where’s Ginny?” he asked.
“She took her letter up to her room,” replied Hermione.
“Observant as ever.” said Hermione sarcastically. Ron said to his father,
“Dad, did you know about Azkaban being closed?”
“Yes I did, but I’m sure you can understand that it had to be kept confidential.” he replied. Opening his letter he began to read, he let out a gasp, “Well I never.” he said.
“What is it Dad?” asked George, pausing in mid chew.
“I’ve been promoted. I’m to be Deputy Minister of Magic.” There was a moments silence before the kitchen erupted in cheers and hoorays that nearly lifted the roof off. Molly threw her arms around Arthur’s neck and hugged him as if her life depended on it. Ron and George danced a jig. Ginny came running downstairs to find out what all the noise was about. They told her, she ran to her Dad, and planted a huge kiss on his cheek.
“Fantastic Dad, well done.” she said and scampered back upstairs, barely glancing at Harry as she passed him. Ron and Harry exchanged quizzical looks. Harry resisted the impulse to follow her for an explanation. She’ll tell me when she’s ready, he thought. He had learned in the last year that it did not pay to pester Ginny. Half an hour later Ginny reappeared clutching her letter.
“I’ve got to go away for a couple of days next week.” she announced. Molly stared at her.
“Just where do you think you’re going alone?” she demanded.
Ginny sat down. “I have to go to Holyhead.”
“What on earth for? said Arthur. He folded his letter back into its envelope.
“I wrote to Gwenog Jones about getting a trial for the Harpies. It turns out that she is friends with Madam Hooch who had mentioned me to her. They want to see me next Wednesday and Thursday.” Ron’s face went purple, while Harry looked perplexed.
“Bloody hell Ginny, are you telling us that you want to be a professional Quidditch player?” Ron’s voice rose almost to a squeak.
“Something wrong with that?” snapped Ginny. Harry jumped in,
“Nothing at all. But she won’t be alone Mrs. Weasley, I’ll go with her.”
“No! You won’t!” Ginny stated firmly. “I’m going alone, and that’s that.” Harry looked stunned. Her tone told him it would be pointless to argue.
“Well I think it’s great,” said Hermione, she held up her hand to quell the argument she knew was coming. “I admit I don’t know a lot about Quidditch but I know that Angelina and Katie thought she was the best Gryffindor player when Harry wasn’t playing. Anyway she loses nothing by trying.” She raised her glass of pumpkin juice. “Good luck Ginny.”
“Thanks Hermione. It’s nice to have some support at least.” said Ginny then turned to Harry and Ron, “I’m going to have to do some serious flying in the next few days, I need to practice, so will you two help me?”
“Of course we will.” said Harry. He elbowed Ron who was open-mouthed beside him.
“Er… Absolutely, no problem.”
On the last evening before Ginny’s departure the family held a small party to wish her luck. As people started to drift off to bed Ginny took hold of Harry’s hand, “Want to go for a walk?” She said, glancing at Hermione who was trying to look as though she wasn’t listening.
“Why not?” Harry replied coolly. Over the last few days he had become increasingly annoyed that Ginny had not spoken to him about her plan to play Quidditch, not even since the news had come out into the open. In fact she had been quite distant and withdrawn with him. They leaned against the garden fence. The sun had gone down about an hour before and the air was starting to chill.
“I’ve got some explaining to do, haven’t I?” Ginny began quietly.
“If you feel you have something to explain go ahead, don’t let me stop you.” he was trying hard to sound coolly disinterested. Two can play silly games he thought.
“For a long time after we… well you know what, all I could think about was you and me. But I came to realise that to everyone else I would just be Harry Potter’s girlfriend. I would have nothing that was mine and mine alone, no independent identity. The more I thought about it the less satisfactory it became. So I decided to look for something that I could do that didn’t require you to be an essential part of it. Unlike Hermione I was only ever average academically, but I’m a damned good flyer, so Quidditch seemed the obvious answer.” she looked at Harry. “How am I doing so far?”
“So far?” said Harry sarcastically “You mean there’s more?” That put Ginny over the edge.
“Goodnight Harry! I’ll try again when you are prepared to listen, just let me know when.” she said and turned back toward the house. She had gone four or five paces when Harry relented,
“Ginny, I’m sorry, please come back.” she came back to him and leaned with her back against the garden fence and her elbows resting on the top rail. She talked for another ten minutes and then ended with,
“Okay that’s it. You turn.”
“Why couldn’t you have told me this before, instead of giving me the cold shoulder for so long?”
“Cold shoulder. What’s that?”
“Muggle expression. It means to cut somebody off, ignore them.”
“Oh I see.” Ginny murmured, “I couldn’t take the chance that you would object and try to talk me out of it. It would have forced me into a choice that I don’t ever want to have to make. Understand this Harry, I love you more than ever, but if me going off to become a Quidditch player comes between us, it will break my heart forever, even so I’m going to do it. You have to understand how important this is to me, and I think I can succeed at it.” Harry was silent for a moment,
“Wow, I did not see all that coming.” He turned and looked at her. “You obviously know what you want, but have you thought about what you will do if this doesn’t work out? Don’t get me wrong; I think you have a good chance, but you should be prepared. Professional Quidditch is going to be a lot tougher than playing at Hogwarts, but I think you’re strong enough. So if you are set on going then I’m behind you one hundred percent, because I love you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so determined, I have a feeling that one day I could see you play for England. So give it your best shot girl, go get it.”
Ginny threw herself into his arms. “Oh Harry. Thank you.” she said.
“Just one more thing.” Harry pushed her out to arms length and looked into her eyes.
“What? Please don’t start putting obstacles in my way.”
“I’m not going to.” He took a deep breath. “Ginny, I love you, will you marry me?”
Her eyes lit up and a huge smile and a breathless, “Oh yes Harry, yes.” was her response. He pulled her to him. A long passionate kiss and much straying of hands followed. They separated, reluctantly.
They walked slowly back toward the Burrow. His arm was around her shoulders; her arm was around his waist. She held her other arm in front of him. “Pinch me, Harry. So I know all this is real.” She squealed when he did as she asked. “Ouch! You weren’t really meant to do it, you know. Soothing words would have been enough.”
“I will never understand girls. Say one thing, mean another.” He said with a grin. “This is real, Ginny. I find it incredible too, but it is real and I couldn’t be happier.”
“Me neither.” They reached the house. She pulled him off to one side of the kitchen door and into the deep shadow of the walls.
“Kiss me before we go in?”
He lowered his head and when their lips were an inch apart he whispered, “No.” and backed away. At first she looked horrified, then puzzled. “Sorry, just teasing.” He slipped his arms around her. They spent five minutes snogging, before she took his hand and pulled it toward her breast, stopping just before he could touch her.
“Sorry, just teasing.” She whispered.
“Let’s go in,” he said, “I’d better to speak to your Mum and Dad.”
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were sitting in the kitchen when Harry and Ginny entered. The washing up from the party was in the sink being washed by a brush and a dishcloth. Arthur and Molly were having a cup of coffee.
“Er… I’m glad you’re both here, I want to ask you something.” Harry began. Molly gave Arthur a look that seemed to say ‘I told you so, here it comes’, Arthur responded with a raised eyebrow.
“Well I… it’s just… I mean…” Harry stuttered. Molly looked at her daughter,
“Have you put a hex on his tongue, Ginny?” Ginny giggled nervously while thinking to herself that if she was going to hex his tongue it wouldn’t be to make it stutter. Longer maybe, but definitely not stutter. Harry took a deep breath and started again. “Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I want to ask your permission to marry your daughter... er. that is… I mean Ginny. I love her.” Molly and Arthur broke into huge grins.
“Well Harry, we need to give this some serious thought.” said Arthur, looking at Molly who was positively beaming. She nodded a ‘yes’ to Arthur. He looked at Ginny who was looking equally agitated. He spoke again,
“Well.” he said in a doubtful sort of voice. Harry’s heart dropped, Molly and Ginny gasped out loud. Arthur raised his hand and looked at his daughter. “Do you love him?” Ginny looked her father directly in the eye.
“More than anyone could ever know Dad.”
“Well.” he said in the same tone, “That being the case I don’t see how I can possibly say no, so yes Harry we will be proud to have you as our son-in-law. Congratulations you two. We’ll tell the others in the morning.” Molly grabbed Harry in a bear hug while Arthur put a fatherly arm around Ginny.
“Off to bed Ginevra, You have a long day tomorrow.” he said. “Say nothing to the others until then. Harry would you stay for a moment please.” Harry sat down next to Arthur as Ginny left the kitchen. “There goes one very happy little girl.” Arthur said.
“You may not have noticed but she’s not so little now Arthur.” said Molly.
“You’re wrong Molly,” Arthur said, “she will always be my little girl. If I live to see her become a grandmother, she’ll still be my little girl.” He looked at Harry. “You’ll understand what I mean Harry if you ever have a daughter. Maybe all this has given you a clue as to why I asked you to stay. I don’t doubt that you two love each other. Molly has been telling me that for ages. I just wanted to ask you to be good to her Harry, she’s a good person and I’m very proud of her. You’d better not tell her I said that, by the way. I’m not really happy about this Quidditch thing but you can imagine her reaction if I try to stop her.”
“Yes I know,” said Harry, “I got a bit of it earlier. Don’t worry Mr. Weasley; I’m going to take care of her, if she lets me that is.”
“Good enough Harry. Just so you know…” Arthur said, “at this moment I hate you more than anything for taking her away.”
“I’m glad you’re smiling Mr. Weasley, or else I might believe you. Goodnight.”
Harry was up early the next morning, he had a favour to ask of Mrs. Weasley. “Good morning Harry, you’re early, couldn’t you sleep?” Molly greeted him with a warm smile.
“I slept fine, thanks, but I need a favour. Everything happened so quickly yesterday that I don’t have an engagement ring. Do you know of anywhere where I can get one in a hurry?”
“I anticipated that.” Molly beamed and lifted her wand, “Accio grandma’s ring.” She intoned. Harry stared in disbelief as a small ring drifted gently down the stairs into her hand. Molly placed the ring in Harry’s hand. “There you are, problem solved, although I’m not sure it’s big enough.” She pointed her wand at the ring and muttered “Engorgio.” The ring seemed to give a little shiver as the band expanded. “That should do it. I know it’s not the biggest diamond in the world, but it is a real one. It was my grandmother’s ring.”
“Mrs. Weasley, it’s just perfect, but I can’t take this, it must be very precious to you.”
“It is very precious to me Harry and so is my daughter, so who better to wear it than her.” Molly’s words moved Harry, as did the expression on her face.
“How can I ever thank you?” Harry surrendered as gracefully as he could.
“Just make my Ginny happy, that will be thanks enough.” Molly replied, blinking away the moisture forming in her eyes.
Over the next half hour the rest of the family trooped in for breakfast. Hermione sat down next to Ron and poured herself a pumpkin juice.
“I don’t know what’s the matter with Ginny this morning; she’s acting like a loon. She was cleaning her teeth when she got a fit of the giggles and sprayed toothpaste everywhere.” When she only got the odd murmur in response she continued “But its okay, I cleaned it all up.” Another muted reception told her that nobody was really listening, so she shut up.
Ginny came into the kitchen looking radiant, even dressed in jumper and jeans. She stopped and looked disappointed when nobody seemed to notice her. Nobody that is, except Harry. He stood and walked to her side, leaned over and kissed her. That got the attention of everyone in the room. Arthur Weasley stood up and tapped a spoon against a glass, all eyes turned to him.
“I have an announcement to make.” he began, “I am very happy to tell you all that last night we…” he paused and put his arm around Molly, “…gave our blessing to the marriage of Ginevra to Mr. Harry Potter.” There was a moments silence when all eyes turned to the couple in question. Then the room erupted. Hermione and Molly were crying. Amid the whistling and cheering Harry and Ginny were surrounded, they were hugged, kissed, pushed, pulled and generally manhandled until Mrs. Weasley took control and ordered everyone back to their seats. An excited Hermione released Ginny from a hug and said,
“Lets have a double wedding, what do you think? Oh please say yes. Please!” Harry and Ginny’s eyes met and he nodded his approval.
“Ok yes, I think it’s a great idea.” Ginny was beaming.
“That’s settled then. A double wedding it is!” said a beaming Molly. George waved his wand and produced a small pouch and handed it to Ginny.
“There are ten Galleons there. Give it to charity or something.”
“I don’t understand.” said Ginny. George had a tremble in his voice as he replied,
“I just lost a bet I had with Fred. I thought it would take Harry another year to pop the question.” The table fell silent and for a brief moment Fred’s presence was almost palpable.
“Harry I think there is something you have to do now, isn’t there?” said Molly. Harry reached into his pocket for the ring. He took hold of Ginny’s left hand and slowly slid the ring on to the third finger.
“Now it’s official.” said Harry. Ginny was looking at her hand, unable to believe what she was seeing. She moved her arms around his neck and they kissed again.
“For goodness sake, get a room.” said Ron. He had to duck quickly as various objects flew at him from all directions, but he could not escape a slap on the back of his head from his Mum. Ginny tightened her grip on Harry and whispered in his ear,
“I told you a long time ago he’d say that, remember?”
“Oh yes.” he whispered back.
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