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Queen of the Castle by MuggleMaybe
Chapter 3 : Heated Moments
 
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Hello lovely people! I'm sorry I haven't updated in SO LONG! I was side tracked by NaNoWriMo, holidays, and a new job. But I am trying to get back in the swing of things. I hope you like the chapter.

As always, I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.





As Ron had predicted, Mrs. Weasley was not thrilled with the idea of her youngest son passing up a seventh year at Hogwarts to become an Auror. This became very clear when Ginny, curled up in an armchair, was rudely awakened from a nap by her mum’s shouting.

“Ronald! What can you be thinking with this Auror business? You haven’t got a N.E.W.T. to speak of! Not too many O.W.L.s either, for that matter. And Harry! You both only just survived catastrophe this year as it is, and now you’re ready to plunge headlong into Merlin knows what—Arthur! Talk some sense into these boys!” She was sitting on the sofa knitting as she spoke, the needles clicking with increasing ferocity.

It was Saturday, and Mr. Weasley had only just returned inside from the garage, where he had been surreptitiously repairing Sirius’ motorbike for the past several months. He was clearly a little peeved at being thrown into the fray like this on his day off. “What am I talking to them about?” He asked.

Ginny, who had been pretending to still be asleep so that they wouldn’t send her off, opened her eyes and said,

“Kingsley’s offered them a spot as Aurors, and mum’s throwing a fit.”

Mr. Weasley looked between the two boys in amazement. “He’s offered you places? Without the tests?”

Harry nodded. “They’ve relaxed the requirements because of all the Aurors who died during the war.”

“He isn’t asking just anyone, though,” Ron hastened to add. “Battle of Hogwarts fighters only. People he knows are up to scratch. He invited us, and Neville, too. Based on finding the Horcruxes and the battle and all that. And he asked Hermione, but she’s already said no.”

“Have you heard from Neville?” Mr. Weasley asked.

“I got an owl from him yesterday,” said Harry. “He’s doing it for sure. His grandmother was all for it.”

“Well, Molly, that’s something. Augusta’s a wise old thing. And you have to admit, these boys have already dealt with more dark wizards than most men ever will.”

“You’re supposed to be talking them out of it,” Mrs. Weasley replied testily. 
“Harold Proudfoot is the new Head, now Kingsley’s minister. I know Harold. He’s a good guy. I’m sure he won’t send them into the field unless he thinks they’re ready.”

“Yes… yes, I suppose that’s true.” She seemed to be backing down a little. “But, boys, are you sure you want to do this? Do you really know what you’re getting into?”

At this both Harry and Ron looked practically murderous, and Ginny said rather forcefully, “Mum, they killed Voldemort, remember? They spent a year on the run with every Death Eater in Britain looking for them. I think, of all people, Harry and Ron know what they’re in for.”

Mrs. Weasley looked considerably sobered, and her husband said gently, “It’s true, Molly. I wish we could protect them, but it’s too late. If they say they’re prepared to do it, we have to believe them.”

While she didn’t seem especially pleased about it, after that Mrs. Weasley had to accept that Ron and Harry were going to become Aurors whether she wanted them to or not. That said, she did make a point of praising Hermione at every opportunity, going on and on about how wonderful it was for her to be getting her N.E.W.T.s. It was sappy and downright annoying, as far as Ginny was concerned. Even Hermione seemed to be weary of the praise, since it made her relationship with Ron more challenging than usual. Which was saying something.


A couple weeks later, the returning students received owls with their Hogwarts school lists. To Ginny’s delight, her envelope also contained the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain pin, just as Harry had predicted. She and Hermione now found themselves back in Diagon Alley, buying school things and, of course, gossiping. It was nice to be out and about. In fact, Hermione seemed practically jubilant. Ginny had never known anyone to be so excited about buying quills and textbooks.

“How have you and Ron been getting on?” Ginny asked, as they wove their way through the dense crowd.

“Oh, alright, I suppose,” Hermione said.

“I heard you arguing while you were doing the dishes yesterday,” Ginny prodded.

“Yes, well… I was saying I want to track down my parents, but Ron doesn’t want me to. I think he’s nervous about it, and about me being targeted. Especially since Neville was attacked. If they targeted him, they’re probably targeting us, too.”

“Yeah, probably. But why would they be in Australia? I think he’s way over reacting. He’s a git like that – makes a big deal out of things just so he can feel important. You know what I mean. He wants to feel like he’s protecting you.”

“That’s a bit harsh. Actually, I think it’s kind of sweet.”

Ginny responded with a scoff. “If by ‘sweet,’ you mean pain in the arse, then, yeah, sure. It’s sweet.”

“It is though!”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a guy who treats me like I need protection from everything. I can take care of myself!”

Hermione shot her a knowing look. “We’re not talking about me and Ron anymore, are we?”

“Harry treats me like I’m a porcelain doll!” Ginny spat. “The way he broke it off when Dumbledore died… ‘Think how much danger you’ll be in,*’” she said, her voice a cruel imitation of Harry’s.

Hermione tried to reason with her, but Ginny was determined to be angry with him. True, on the morning of Colin’s funeral there had been a definite, electric sort of something in his expression when he looked at her, and a certain, hopeful edge in his voice. For a few hours, she had thought he might actually miss being with her. But before she knew it, he was back to being determinedly platonic, avoiding her gaze and shrinking from her touch.

Clearly, her hopes had misled her. Besides, the hurt from their break up still stung. He’d shut her out completely. Ron and Hermione had been allowed into his life, but Ginny? Not a whisper of invitation. It had made her feel so powerless, so unwanted. She knew he’d done it out of chivalry, and she actually found that gallant streak rather attractive. Still, a small voice within her wondered, what if he no longer wanted her? What if Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, the most famous wizard of the age – was ready for someone more interesting, or sophisticated, or glamorous than Ginevra Weasley?

Ginny had always found anger more manageable than anxiety, so she let Hermione’s persuasions roll off of her unheeded and said, “Enough about me. What are we going to do about your parents?”


Harry

Harry was trying to listen to Ron, but he kept getting distracted by thoughts of Ginny. Why did she have to be so irresistible? An image of her on the afternoon of Colin’s funeral, laughing, seemed seared into his mind lately. Her honest voice, her fair skin and fiery hair, the smallness of her hands and the delicate curve of her neck… it was too much.

We can’t be together. It’s not safe. He tried to drive her image out with these words, which were ineffective, but undeniably true. He’d known for years that those closest to him were at risk, and the attack on Neville proved once and for all that they were still in danger. Before receiving the news, his guard had been weakening - he thought for a moment of Moody’s barked command, “Constant vigilance!” - and on the morning he shared with Ginny, he had almost believed they could be together. How could he be such an idiot?

“Harry, mate, did you hear what I said?” Ron was looking at him with mixed irritation and amusement.

“Er-”

“No, then.”

“Sorry.”

Ron rolled his eyes. “I was asking if you don’t think we ought to just tell Hermione we’ll go with to get her parents. At least then she won’t go it alone.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. Took you long enough to agree to it.” Harry had thought this the best plan from the start.

At that moment, Hermione stepped through the fireplace, followed shortly by Ginny. They’d been out shopping for school things in Diagon Alley. Ginny’s hair was a little windswept… Stop looking at her! Hermione neatly stacked up several large packages and sat down next to Ron, who gave her a brief kiss. Ginny, after dropping her own purchases on the floor with much less ceremony, made a jokey disgusted face at Harry. He almost laughed before he turned away. Ron would kill him if he did anything to lead her on, and lately even a glance seemed like flirting.

He focused on Hermione instead. “We were just talking about your mum and dad,” he began, looking toward Ron.

“Yeah… I reckon you were right. You ought to find them again, now the war’s done. And Death Eaters… well, it’s a risk we’ll have to take.”

Hermione pulled him into a tight hug, grinning. “Oh, Ron. I knew you’d come around.”

“Yeah,” Ron continued, releasing himself from her embrace, “well, we also were thinking you shouldn’t go alone. Wouldn’t be very bright at the moment, you know?”

“Of course she knows!” Ginny cut in. “Thats why I’m going with her. Just the two of us. We were discussing it just now, actually.” What? Oh, no, that was even worse. They’d be on the other side of the world. Anything could happen, and he wouldn’t even be there to help. Not that they needed his permission - he realized that well enough. But still. What if they were hurt? Or tortured? Or… or… the worst possibilities overwhelmed him.

“I don’t think so,” Harry argued, unable to contain his anxiety. “What if you run into trouble?”

“It’s not practical for all of us to go. And, really, Harry, what would anyone want with my parents? Maybe we’ll have trouble, but I don’t think it’s likely,” Hermione pointed out.

She might be right, but there was always a chance. A chance Harry wasn’t willing to take. Not when Hermione - when Ginny - was involved. “They say some Death Eaters are hiding out in Australia.”

Ginny looked surprised at that piece of news, but she played it cool. “Harry, if we run into trouble, we’ll deal with it. We’re not completely hopeless at magic, you know. Besides, you two will be off Auror-ing all term, while Hermione and I are stuck writing 20 inch compositions. Give us a break, why don’t you!”

Harry suppressed a smile. Her eagerness for excitement had reminded him of Sirius. He thought it over. Hermione was brilliant at magic, no question there. But if they were attacked, that would mean dueling, and defense had always been her weakest subject. What about Ginny? He hadn’t seen her in many subjects, but based on his observations at DA lessons and during battles, she could hold her own against most. At this thought, he felt a surge of pride rise up on Ginny’s behalf. For the thousandth time, he wished that he had been born into a different life. One where he could be with the girl of his dreams and not make her a target. It was a pointless wish. He squashed it down.

Ron seemed to be continuing the argument, but Harry interrupted. “Fine. I guess you’re right. But you’re taking the cloak.”

“What? Mate, I thought we were agreed on this?” Ron sputtered, indignant.

“I don’t think there was much hope of convincing them, to tell the truth.”

Ginny grinned. “You’re right on that.”


Ginny

As it turned out, Hermione had been plotting a reunion with her family for a few weeks. They were apparently living in Melbourne under the names Wendell and Monica Wilkins, and their “rescue” didn’t seem very complicated for the most part. All Hermione needed to do was show up, reverse the memory charm, and travel with them back to England. The boys were still worried that rogue Death Eaters would somehow intervene, but Ginny thought this unlikely. The real concern was how to get there. Apparating all the way to Australia was quite risky. Hermione had suggested flying in a Muggle airplane, but apparently the tickets were really expensive, and Ginny wasn’t sure her dad could stomach it just then. A portkey would have been best, but whether they could arrange one was uncertain. What was certain was that they left for Hogwarts in a month, which put a pretty sharp deadline on their task.

“Could you ask your dad to set up a portkey?” Hermione asked. She was lying on the floor, doing a crossword.

Ginny looked up from The Quibbler, considering. “Well, I could. But I’m not sure he would react any better than Ron and Harry did. Maybe Bill, though. He’s not as cautious.”

“I don’t know why they’re being so protective. I really don’t think were likely to have trouble.”

“I’ll talk to Bill, then, shall I?”

She did, and it turned out to be a terrible idea. She went over to Shell Cottage for a visit, not wanting her mum anywhere within earshot. Fleur was there but, considering it was her house, there wasn’t much Ginny could do about that. As soon as she brought up the plan, Bill got protective. He made all the same, tired arguments that Ron and Harry had tried.

“I came to you because I thought you’d be supportive,” she muttered.

“Gin, you’re my little sister. I’m just looking out for you!”

“Well, stop! Has it occurred to you that I don’t want - or need - looking after anymore?”

“If you’re going to ask for my help, I think I deserve a say in”—

“Bill, calm down will you?” This was Fleur, who had looked up from the mystery novel she was reading. “I ‘ave a little seester, too, you know. I understand what eet’s like. But what Ginny says is true. She’s a grown witch now. She can make her own decisions. She fought at the battle, after all, and did quite well.” She smiled at Ginny. Weird. Since when had Fleur ever been on her side? Well, whatever. At the moment, Ginny would take any support she could get.

Bill looked between them for a moment and slumped back in his chair. “Maybe you’re right. When did you want this portkey? And to where, exactly?”

“Melbourne, as soon as you can get it,” Ginny repeated, “and thanks, Bill. You too, Fleur.”

“Yeah, okay. It might take a while, mind you,” Bill said, and then, “Merlin, what will mum say?”

Ginny raised her eyebrows. “Are you mad? I won’t tell her if you don’t.”

“Deal,” he laughed.


*

The next day was July 31st, Harry’s birthday. They were having a little party at the Burrow. Andromeda Tonks was the first to arrive, carrying Teddy. At almost four months old, he was a smiley baby. The little hair he had was a shocking orange.

“Oh, Andi, he is just the cutest thing!” Mrs. Weasley gushed. 
“Ginny, finish setting the table, won’t you?” She added, before taking Teddy effortlessly into her arms. As she lined up the silverware, Ginny felt a strange rush of jealousy. Her mother was so good with babies, but Ginny had hardly known any babies at all.

Harry, Ron, and George joined them in the kitchen. Harry had been visiting Andi and Teddy regularly over the past months, and as soon as the baby caught sight of his godfather, his face lit up. “I’ll pass him off to you then,” Mrs. Weasley said. “That cake isn’t going to frost itself. Well, not without some help, anyway.”

Ginny watched, impressed, as Harry took the infant easily into his arms. Hermione, just arrived, prodded her in the ribs. “Daydreaming?”

“Oh, shush up.” Ginny was not about to admit that she’d been imagining such a moment with a different child - her and Harry’s - only seconds before. Not that she wanted that to happen any time soon. Still, she couldn’t help admiring the baby. His fingers were tiny. And his nose. How did babies get to have such darling noses?

Harry caught her oogling. “You want a turn?”

“Er… I don’t know…” She stammered. She had held him only once before.

“I’ll help you. Here.” He positioned her arms with his free hand, and lay Teddy down so that she cradled him. “There you go. Nothing to it.”

Harry was smiling at her - he hadn’t done that for a while - and he was standing close enough that she could see every detail of his face. Why did his eyes have to be so perfect? And why did boys get to have such long eyelashes? She recalled her “gift” to him the previous year. It had been wonderful, at least until they were interrupted. This year she’d gotten him a new cage and some other things to go with Ron and Hermione’s gift. (They were going with him to pick out a new owl.) Not nearly as enjoyable, she thought, feeling devious. A good snog sounded much better. She felt herself leaning toward him. His eyes were playing over her face, lingering on her lips, and for a moment she thought they really would kiss -

“Harry! How yeh been?” Hagrid hollered. He must have only just arrived. At the sound of his name, Harry seemed to snap out of a trance and jumped back a foot or two, before turning to talk to his new guest.

Ginny was surprised to realize she still held Teddy, and wandered off to find Andromeda again, hoping no one would ask about her flushed cheeks.





*This is a direct quote from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, page 646


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