Chapter 1 : one.
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“This is the last place,” she reports, fishing out a soggy piece of parchment from the pocket of her robes.
“Can’t be worse than the others,” Ginny says, which is about as optimistic as she’s going to get after five consecutive viewings of places that aren’t so much flats as poky, mouldy hovels. Hermione’s been sorted for weeks, thanks to the boys not being at school and therefore with plenty of time to go flat-hunting, flat-finding, and lease-signing, and responding to Ginny’s increasingly worried outbursts of “we’re going to be homeless forever” with an infuriating calm.
It helps that they had Harry’s name on all their applications, and were getting offers and discounted rents left, right and centre; they’d only been hunting for a couple of weeks before they signed onto a recently renovated place at two-thirds the normal rent. Ginny and her flat have had no such luck, and it’s rubbing salt into the wound of the break-up knowing that she was meant to be moving into that recently renovated two-thirds rent flat.
She doesn’t regret it, not in the grand scheme of things, because it had to be done and they both know it and it would have been so much worse if they had moved in together, but it’s hard not to feel dark as she trudges up the street after Luna and Neville, sopping fringe refusing to stay out of her eyes.
The place is owned by an old Order member, Hestia Jones, and this gives Ginny some hope when they meet her on the street outside the building.
“It’s two storeys,” Hestia tells them after the rounds of introductions (“I remember you from the battle,” all too casual and throwaway for the subject matter) and she leads them inside. There’s a small entranceway beyond the door, leading straight to a narrow flight of stairs, and Hestia plunges down the dark hallway beside it with a quick wave of her wand. It brightens instantly. “Lighting charms have been recently redone,” she says. “Bedroom through here – this is the master bedroom, as you can see it’s huge – the other three are upstairs. They’re not as big, of course, but they’re all double rooms – ”
“Four bedrooms?” Neville asks.
“Yes,” Hestia confirms. “The kitchen’s through here as well – ”
They trail after Hestia through the rest of the flat – it’s perfect, of course it is, and it’s warm and dry and perfectly maintained and it’s owned by a former Order member, but it’s four bedrooms and there’s no way they’d be able to afford the rent of a place like this with only three of them.
“How much is the rent?” Luna asks at the end of the tour.
“Sixty Galleons per week,” Hestia says, and Ginny winces. They have a budget of forty-five at the most, fifteen each, and there’s no way they can front up with twenty Galleons each for rent. “I’m sorry,” she continues, seeing their faces, “But this is my only investment property, and I’m not making much from it at all – there were a lot of repairs to do after the war, you know, and rates have skyrocketed – I know that doesn’t help you, but if I could afford to drop it I would.”
“It’s okay,” Ginny says hurriedly. “We understand. It’s fine. Thanks for your time – ”
“Wait a minute,” Neville says. “Dean and Seamus were talking about moving out. I caught up with them in Hogsmeade last weekend.”
“The master bedroom,” Ginny says, eyes lighting up as she catches on. “They’d have the entire downstairs to themselves, pretty much, and it’d be way cheaper than if they got a place by themselves – reckon we could convince them?”
“Easily,” Neville says. “They’re just staying with Seamus’s parents at the moment, and I think they’re desperate.”
Hestia listens to this exchange with interest. “Let me know if you’re able to find someone else to move in,” she says. “The flat’s yours if you want it, but I’ll need to know by the end of the month.”
“We’ll take it,” Ginny says firmly. “If the boys don’t want to move in we can find someone else, but I am so ready to sign a lease.”
Pigwidgeon returns bearing Dean and Seamus’s reply on the morning of the Defence Against the Dark Arts NEWT. Neville was right about their desperation – they agree to move in sight unseen, knowing nothing about the place except the address, the rent and who their new flatmates are. It’s a good omen for the rest of the day, Ginny decides – a feeling confirmed when she nails her NEWT and catches up with the others by the lake.
“Dean and Seamus are in,” she reports, and Luna smiles happily and Neville gives a little cheer.
“That’s twelve Galleons each in rent,” Luna says. “Much better than twenty.”
“We’ll need to get good contents insurance,” Neville says. “Seamus is a bit of a pyromaniac.”
“He won’t burn the place down, will he?”
That’s hardly comforting, but they’ve just finished their last NEWT and they have a nice flat sorted, and she doesn’t feel like dwelling on the possibility of Seamus blowing up their home sweet home just yet. “Bond’s due on July first,” she says instead. “We should open a flat vault at Gringott’s.”
“That’s a good idea,” Luna says. “We can all go in next week, after school’s finished.”
They gaze out at the lake, at the sunlight glinting off the ripples of the surface, in a contemplative silence marked by the absence of wistful reminiscing; the other seventh and eighth years have hit the nostalgia hard over the past few weeks, their conversations punctuated by can you believe we’re almost finished and we’ve only got one week left and I’m going to miss this place. Ginny does not share their sentiments.
She knows in her mind that Hogwarts is home for the majority of those who live within its walls, can even understand it to a certain degree – but it has always been closer to hell than home for her. Now more than ever, when the Burrow echoes with loss and Hogwarts with trauma, she’s desperate to find somewhere she can call home.
Hopefully, 23A Knatchbull Crescent will be that somewhere.
a/n: this story is dedicated to the lovely Meg, who first gave me the idea for a Ginny/Luna story - it's ended up a much bigger project than i originally planned, but i'm super excited to see where it goes and i hope you are too!
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