Chapter 14 : Year 2: Breaking News
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Butterflies—not spiders—were fluttering in his stomach, and his palms were sweaty. He could literally feel his heart rate increase as he wiped his hands on his trousers and waited for the door to open.
He knew that he was exaggerating his nervousness—he had met Hermione’s parents before, and he was fairly sure that they liked him. But this was not just any night. He and Hermione had news to share with Mr and Mrs Granger, and he was worried that they wouldn’t be happy about it.
Much to Ron’s relief, it was Hermione who opened the door. The sight of her smiling face and her bushy hair calmed him down a bit, although his heart rate increased again when she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a quick kiss.
“You’re on time!” she said in surprise.
Ron shrugged. “Well, I didn’t want to upset your parents more than… Oh, hello, Mr Granger! How are you doing?”
“Just fine, Ron,” answered Hermione’s father, who had just stepped into the hallway. He stroked his bearded chin and smiled. “How are you? You’re just in time for dinner!”
They shook hands, and then the three of them headed into the small kitchen. Mrs Granger was just placing a casserole on the table, and she lit up when she saw that Ron had arrived. She removed the oven mitts from her hands, untied her chequered apron and hurried around the table to hug him.
“It smells amazing,” Ron said, hearing his stomach growl. He and Harry had had another long day at the Ministry with their paperwork, and it had been hours since they had eaten anything.
“I can’t take credit for that,” smiled Mrs Granger. “Michael is the chef in our family.”
They sat down at the table, which did not seem to have been made for more than three people, and Ron ended up sitting squeezed up against the wall with Hermione’s chair preventing any sort of movement from his side. Despite of what he told Mrs Granger when she shot him a concerned look and offered to switch seats with him, he was very uncomfortable.
“So,” Mr Granger said as he filled his glass with water. “Hermione tells us you have some good news to share. I just hope that really means good news, and not…”
He fell silent, and Ron’s ears reddened.
“It really is good news.” he answered and placed an arm on the seatback of his girlfriend’s chair. “We, er… we found a flat! We’re moving in together!”
“It’s pretty big and open,” Hermione said quickly, “and close to work for the both of us. It’s not that far from where Harry lives, either, so we… it really is perfect!”
Her parents were quiet. For a moment, Ron was convinced that Mrs Granger would start to cry, but then she collected herself and said:
“Well, you have talked about moving in with Ron before,” Mr Granger said and cleared his throat, “but I’ll admit that it’s still hard to hear it… our little girl, all grown up!”
Mrs Granger began sobbing. She reached out her hands and placed them on top of her daughter’s. “But we are so happy for you.” She winked at Ron and smiled faintly. “And we’re so happy that Hermione has got you, sweetheart. You are such a wonderful young man, and we couldn’t really ask for anyone better.”
Ron sighed in relief as he smiled back at her. Mr Granger’s gazed were fixed on the fridge behind Hermione, and when Ron turned his head, he realized that he was staring at a photograph that was stuck onto it with some sort of plastic button. Ron didn’t pay the button much attention; instead, he turned his eyes to the photo. A younger Mr Granger was carrying a very young Hermione on his shoulders. She held onto his hair, which seemed to hurt judged by the pained expression on her father’s face. Ron smiled. Perhaps it was normal that Mr and Mrs Granger were feeling a bit nostalgic, but they were also happy. It seemed like he had worried for nothing. And now, he would get to live with Hermione, to start a new chapter of his life. He couldn’t wait.
Ginny was completely exhausted after a tough Quidditch training in Holyhead. Due to the rain and hard wind, Gwenog had decided that it wasn’t safe to fly. Instead, they had dedicated hours to fitness training and finished it off with a long run. As a result, every muscle in Ginny’s body was aching, and she longed to replenish her energy reserves with some of her mother’s fine cooking. After that, she planned on taking a long bath, and head straight to bed.
As she stepped out onto the living room floor, she could hear the sound of voices coming from the kitchen. It sounded like George and Percy were in the middle of another one of their half-serious, half-joking arguments. Normally, Ginny would have been happy to see them, but at the moment, she wasn’t sure if she enough energy to put up with either one of them.
“Did you two hear anything? Was that Ginny getting home?”
The voice belonged to neither Percy nor George – it seemed like Bill was there too. Moments later, his head appeared in the doorway to the kitchen, his flamingly red hair pulled into a ponytail, and the fang that Mrs Weasley hated so intensely dangling from his ear. The light fell onto his face and made his scar stand out more than usual – had it not been for the familiarity in his voice or the kindness in his eyes, he probably would have looked frightening.
At the sight of his sister’s slouch figure, he grinned. “Well, don’t you look sprightly,” he said sarcastically.
Ginny sighed and walked into the kitchen. “I think this is the most tired I’ve ever been in my life,” she said. However, no degree of fatigue would have kept her from jumping up and down and grinning widely when she realized that Bill had brought her niece—little Victoire was sleeping in Percy’s arms. Her tiny fingers twitched every now and then, and her nostrils fluttered as she breathed. She was so small, and yet Ginny could have sworn that she had been a few inches shorter the last time she had seen her.
“Come on, sit down,” George said, scotching over on the kitchen bench to make room for her. “We were just discussing Bill’s lack of confidence. You see, every time Fleur asks him to watch Vicky by himself, he brings her here, as if he doesn’t think he can handle her on his own.”
“George, you know that Fleur hates it when you call her Vicky,” Bill said. Instead of joining his siblings at the table, he leaned against the kitchen counter and picked up the copy of the Daily Prophet that had been folded up next to a heavy cookbook with the title Prewett’s family recipes—a heirloom from Mrs Weasley’s grandmother.
“Oh trust me, I am well aware of that!” George said with a grin. “Why do you think I refuse to call her anything else?”
“I just wish she’d wake up, so that I could hold her,” Ginny said, casting a longing glance at the baby. She looked so adorable in her floral print romper, and with her few, silvery blonde tufts pointing in every direction.
“Gin, have you seen this?” said Bill suddenly. His voice was sharp, which made Ginny look up immediately—it never sounded like that unless he was very serious.
George grinned. “It’s not another long, boring piece about Oliver Wood’s head injury, is it?” he said. “Sure, he’s missed the last three games, but it’s not that interesting, and yet, it’s all they ever write about anymore! I guess it’s good news for you, though, Ginny. You’ll be playing against Puddlemere United next week, won’t you? Their backup keeper is not nearly as good as Oliver.”
“It’s not that,” Bill said.
He took a few steps forwards and threw the newspaper onto the table. It landed upside down from where Ginny sat, but she could still see the photo of herself and Harry, taken at the anniversary of the battle, and the headline: ALL ABOUT HARRY POTTER’S SECRET LOVE AFFAIR! An icing sensation ran through Ginny’s body as she turned the newspaper around and began reading.
Cheating death – twice! – despite being only nineteen years old does not seem to be enough to satisfy Harry Potter. According to the Daily Prophet’s reliable source, he is also cheating on his girlfriend Ginny Weasley, 18, Chaser of the Holyhead Harpies and sister of Potter’s companion, Ronald Weasley. A dark-haired beauty has been spotted sneaking out of Potter’s flat on several occasions, but it is not until now that she steps into the light. Ruby Percell, 21, confirms their love affair in an interview with our reporter.
“Yes, we are a couple,” she admits. “Of course, we have tried to be discrete to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, but truth is that not even Harry Potter is perfect. He was feeling a bit guilty when it started, but I guess he just couldn’t resist me.”
And could anyone really blame him? Miss Percell’s beauty is striking from the moment that she walks into the pub where we have decided to meet up, and she puts poor Miss Weasley in the shade without even making an effort. Our reporters tried, but failed, to get a comment from the heartbreaker himself when he passed by outside his workplace, as he simply turned away and hurried into the Ministry, refusing to answer any of our questions. However, his eyes and facial expression said enough: he had never counted on his affair to become a public one. We at the Daily Prophet are sorry, Mr Potter, but not even the saviour of the Wizarding World can get away with something like this!
Ginny put the newspaper down and tore her eyes away from the photo of Ruby, the crushingly beautiful Ruby. Her vision was getting blurry. When George realized that she was about to start crying, he leaned forwards and grabbed the Prophet to find out what was going on. While he and Percy began reading, Ginny burst into tears. Could it be true? Could he really do something so awful to her? She felt Bill bend down beside her, and in the next second he had wrapped his arms around her.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s probably not even true. The Daily Prophet isn’t exactly known for their relentless credibility, right? Plus, you heard what George said—the most interesting story they’ve had in weeks is about Wood not being able to play Quidditch anymore!”
Percy, who had finished reading before George, nodded in agreement. “He’s right, Ginny, there is no need to cry,” he said. “They are only looking to create headlines. You don’t really think that Harry would be unfaithful, do you?”
“I don’t know,” Ginny sobbed. “All I know is,” she continued while recalling the conversation she had had with her teammates a few weeks back, “that there are millions of girls out there who want more than anything to steal him away from me. And you saw what they wrote,” she sniffled. “She puts me in the shade without even making an effort. So why wouldn’t he rather be with her?”
George put his hand over hers and put a long, slim arm around her shoulders. “Oh, Gin,” he sighed. “You obviously don’t realize the effect you have on him. He’s completely enchanted by you, and why wouldn’t he be? You’re brilliant! And then there’s the fact that he’s seen you hex people. Only an outright fool would cheat on you after seeing that.”
Victoire began whining in Percy’s arms. Ginny lifted her head and fixed her tearful gaze on her. “You’re lucky, Vic,” she mumbled while drying her cheeks with the sleeve of her Quidditch robes. “You’re still happily unaware of the torture of being in love. Take it from someone who’s been there—blokes suck! Even the ones that seem to be absolutely perfect!”
And with those words, Ginny rose to her feet, let out one final sob and ran up the stairs to throw herself onto her bed, squeeze her eyes shut and dream of going back to being little.
Some hours away from the dramatic scenes at the Burrow, Harry was rushing through the hallways of the Ministry of Magic. He was just about to step into the office that he shared with Ron when someone grabbed his arm, pulled him into an empty conference room and closed the door. He was just about to pull out his wand when he realised exactly who it was.
“Blimey, Seamus, what are you doing? You scared the life out of me!”
“Obviously not, since you’re still alive,” said Seamus in a rather dry voice, which surprised Harry. His friend had been as cheerful as even when they had run into each other in the arrival hall that same morning. “So have you seen it?” Seamus asked.
Harry had no idea what he was talking about. His first instinct was to look at his mate’s hair—just the other week, Mrs Weasley had been upset with her husband because he had failed to notice her new haircut. But Seamus’ hair wasn’t five inches shorter than usual or curlier than ever, like Mrs Weasley’s had been, and Harry shook his head at his own absurdity.
“The Daily Prophet!” Seamus said. “Come on Harry, tell me it’s not true!”
“I didn’t read the Prophet this morning,” Harry said, “so I couldn’t tell you anything about it…”
Seamus practically shoved the newspaper in Harry’s face. After convincing him to lower it a bit, Harry began reading the front-page article. For every word he read, his heart sank a little bit lower into his chest. As if he would ever cheat on Ginny! He stared at the photo of his alleged mistress and shook his head. The press had been nothing but kind to him since juciy gossip now that the fuss had started dying down.
“Of course it’s not true!” he exclaimed. “I’ve never even seen this girl before and I… Seamus, you don’t think Ginny has read this, do you?”
“Even if she hasn’t seen it herself, someone will have mentioned it to her,” Seamus said. “I just wanted to warn you before Ron finds out and decides to go and kill you.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, glancing at the watch on his arm that had once belonged to Ginny’s uncle. “I have to go find her, though. She should be back from Holyhead by now.”
Without even bothering to ask for Dawlish’s permission, he sprinted to the arrival hall. There, he stepped into the closest fireplace, called out: “The Burrow!” and found himself standing in the Weasleys’ living room. He could hear people talking in the kitchen, and without paying any attention to the fact that he mired the wooden floor with ashes, he hurried over there. Bill, Victoire and Percy were sitting at the table, and the two men looked up at the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing.
“Harry,” said Bill quickly. “Is it true?”
Harry shook his head. “No, I would never… is she here?”
“She’s upstairs, with George,” Percy said. “But I would recommend staying down here for a while, just to let her calm down for a bit. She’s quite upset.”
“But that’s why I have to see her!” Harry insisted. “To tell her that she has no reason to be! I’ve never even met that girl, and even if I had, it wouldn’t make any difference! I only want Ginny.”
Bill smiled while placing his daughter in a small basket that stood on the table in front of him. She immediately began waving her arms, searching for something to grab. Percy’s hands were the closest things, and he willingly held them out towards her.
“That’s nice to hear, Harry,” Bill said. “But I would still give her a moment. Take it from someone who has a lot of experience with Ginny’s temper. When we grew up, George and… George and Fred were always the ones to calm her down, when she was angry with any of us. Only then was it safe for us to go up and talk to her.”
“Not that she was ever angry with you,” Percy said. “You were always perfect in her eyes. Bill, Ginny’s hero…”
Bill laughed, as if it had been a joke, but Harry, who had seen his eyes light up at Percy’s words, added:
“I always got that impression too. Of course, she probably looked up to all six of you, but you were special. Maybe it’s because you’re the eldest.”
“She’s special to me too, because she’s the youngest,” Bill nodded. “And even if you are telling us the truth right now Harry, you should know that I would anything for her—“
“That goes for all of us,” Percy interrupted. “We don’t want to see her get her heart broken. Not that I think you would hurt her, but you know. It doesn’t hurt to stress that fact.”
“And if I do, you will all come after me,” Harry finished the sentence. “Yes, Ron has made that very clear to me, thank you very much.”
He failed to disguise his annoyance completely, but neither one of Ginny’s brothers seemed to notice.
“I can imagine,” Bill said, raising one of his eyebrows. “We just want to emphasize it. The opportunities are likely to present themselves… you know, to be with other girls. And if you should ever, in a weak moment, have any second thoughts, just remember this conversation.”
Harry was just about to spit out a snide response when the sound of steps in the stairway shut his mouth and made him jump to his feet. Before he had time to do anything else, George walked into the kitchen.
“Harry, mate!” he said. “I hope that the Prophet is lying; I don’t want to pretend to hate you for the rest of time, just for the sake of my sister…”
“It’s not true,” said Harry shortly. “How’s Ginny?”
“Well, you won’t be able to go up there completely without risk,” George said. “But I’d give it a go. It seems like the two of you really need to talk to each other.”
Harry caught himself dragging his feet as he slowly made his way up the many stairs that led up to Ginny’s bedroom. He felt like he was carrying a heavy weight in the pit of his stomach, and he could swear his heart was beating loudly enough for everyone down in the kitchen to hear it. Not that he really had anything to be nervous about. All he had to do was walk in there, explain that the newspapers were lying, and that she would never have to worry about him wanting anyone else but her. But there was a tiny voice in his head that didn’t hesitate to blurt out what he was afraid to even think: what if she doesn’t believe you? He was not sure if he would be able to handle losing her. Sure, they were both very young, but he knew that he wanted to marry Ginny one day. She was the girl he wanted to wake up next to every morning for the rest of his life, and the one he wanted to fall asleep next to every night. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, and he admired everything about her: her exuberant personality, her confidence and her independence. The day they would have their own children, he thought, he would want them to have that same strength, that strong will and courage that Ginny had. She never let anyone tell her what to do—she didn’t allow it. And it was all of those things that made her so amazing. All of those things combined with the way she made him feel. She could make him tremble and make him feel completely relaxed at the same time. She turned his world around, but she was also his source of stability, his safe ground. He, who had spent big parts of his life feeling lonely and abandoned, shared such a strong connection with Ginny that he was absolutely terrified to open up her door and face her, even when he had done nothing wrong. He was scared to look her in the eyes. What if something had changed in the way she looked at him?
He forced his mouth to form the words; he compelled his hand to knock on the door. “Ginny? It’s me.”
The door was flung open. Ginny’s eyes were red and full of tears, and her lower lip was shaking. She looked years younger than she really was, like a little girl, and a wave of guilt washed over Harry.
“Please, tell me it’s not true,” Ginny whispered as tears flooded her dark, brown eyes.
Harry stepped closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Of course it’s not,” he mumbled, and she hugged him tightly, her cheek pressed against his shoulder. “I would never do anything like that, I thought you knew that. I thought you knew that I loved you.”
A/N: As always, I want to thank all of you for reading, reviewing and favouriting my story! It warms my heart every time you do it, and it encourages me to keep writing. I wish I could give you all a hug and thank you, but I guess that an Author's Note is the best thing I have to offer.
I would love to hear what you have to say about this chapter. Personally, I think that Ginny overreacted a bit, but I blame it on the fact that she was completely exhausted - people tend to get a little oversensitive when they're tired. Let me know what you think! :)
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