Sunday, August 30, 1998 Avignon, France Hôtel Cloitre St. Louis
“I don’t want to get up,” I groaned, pulling the blankets up over my head. Harry’s hand sneaked around my waist, his large hand covering my hip.
“Gin, sweetie, you have to get up and return to your room and send Ron back down here before your parents get up. Your mum already announced we’re not missing breakfast this morning,” Harry told me, yanking the luxurious sheets down.
“What does it matter? Mum and Dad know I’ve been living at Grimmauld Place for the last three weeks,” I postulated. “They can’t honestly be that dense. They’ve got to know we share a bed, as do Ron and Hermione.” I was whining, not all that attractive, but I didn’t want to get up.
“Ginny, dear, there’s knowing and then there’s knowing. If it makes your mum feel better to believe that you and Hermione share a bedroom, even though there’s only one bed in the room, then I say we let her continue to believe that,” Harry explained. I knew he was right, Mum really wasn’t ready to think about Ron or me in a serious relationship.
“Fine,” I groused, kicking the blankets off my calves and then banging my feet against the mattress. “Just remember you kicked me out of your bed when you’re missing me.” He quickly pulled me to him.
“I am not kicking you out of my bed,” Harry corrected, his eyes suddenly much darker. “I am allowing your mum her delusion.”
I sighed loudly as I stood up and grabbed my dressing gown from off the desk. “Ron had better be wearing clothes this time. I really didn’t need to know my brother had freckles on his arse.” Harry groaned at my comment.
“I successfully shared a room with him for seven years and never learned that little bit of information,” he complained. “You really didn’t need to share.”
“Hey, if I have to see him in his birthday suit, you’re going to hear about it,” I teased before leaning over and kissing him goodbye. I cinched the dressing gown shut, picked up my wand and then Disapparated to the room next door. I had kept my eyes closed when I arrived and then took a deep breath and hesitantly opened my left eye. “Oh, thank Merlin.” Ron was wearing his boxers.
I walked over to the bed, hit Ron, who complained loudly but without saying an actual word. “Go back to the room with Harry,” I told him, whipping the blankets off and pulling him by the arm out of the bed. He tumbled onto the floor. Ron grunted at me before grabbing his wand and Disapparating to the other room. I slid into the warm bed, taking my brother’s spot, and closed my eyes. There was no way I wasn’t getting as much sleep as Mum would let me.
Mum was true to her word, and at half-seven she charmed little notes in the shape of birds to fly in through the open windows and wake us up. I tried to ignore them, but they began nesting in my hair. I’d fallen asleep with my wand in my hand, so I shot them down and let them burn. The shower was already on, so I knew Hermione was awake.
An hour later, we sat down for our morning meal. Hermione and I had a difficult time keeping a straight face as we watched the hostess flirt with Harry and Ron, both of whom were wildly embarrassed. She’d done the same thing with Dad last night, so I wasn’t at all jealous. I trusted Harry and his feelings for me.
Mum had discovered she greatly enjoyed both French pastries and tea. Once she was on her second cup of the sweet, vanilla-tinged tea and her third croissant with jam, we suggested she might want to stop. Harry and Ron had both sniggered at the rather delicate meal, complaining they were missing their bangers and blood pudding. They’d demolished several baguettes already, claiming it filled them better. I could say with utter confidence I would not miss my brother’s complaining.
We toured through Avignon during the morning, taking in the old buildings framed by fragrant trees and climbing vines. I bought a pair of tortoise-shell sunglasses, secretly hoping I’d need them more often while at school this year than I would if we were staying in London or returning to Hogwarts. After lunch, Mum and Dad took Hermione and me to meet with Fleur’s parents and sister, Gabrielle, to do our school shopping. There were two large shopping districts for Wizards in France: one in Paris and the other here in Avignon.
You can only enter by Portkey, which Monsieur Delacour created for us. Much like Diagon Alley, the shopping district was bustling and filled with students and their parents. Gabrielle was quite helpful in translating for us, having committed to learning English when her sister married my brother. The first stop was at “Communications Magiques” which I could even translate.
Madame Delacour explained there were broaches available which were charmed to immediately translate the French being spoken around us into English for us to hear. It would, in turn, exchange our English words for French for the native speakers. I thought it was wonderful, and now understood why Madame Maxime had said our inability to converse in French would not be an impediment to our educations. I selected one which looked like a lion atop a bed of leaves. I may not be a Gryffindor this year, but my heart would always remain with my former house. Hermione chose one of a butterfly with iridescent wings.
We next went to purchase our robes in Aigulles Traversees, or Crossed Needles, as my broach translated. The uniforms for Beauxbatons were made of a much softer and lighter fabric than those at Hogwarts. The pale blue silk seemed to float around me. The cut was also so much more flattering than the Hogwarts robe with its boxy style of falling from the shoulders and the voluminous sleeves.
These new robes were cinched at the waist along the back, accentuating my waist and hips. They fell mid-calf and flared out when I spun in them. Under the robes, the uniform was a dark blue, knee-length pinafore dress which was worn with a white blouse, long sleeves for winter, short for fall and spring. We were required to wear stockings with the dress, but we could choose white, the pale blue or a near skin-coloured taupe colour. No heavy cotton or scratchy synthetic fabrics; these were made of silk and felt so soft. I chose a pair of each colour to begin with. The most wonderful part, however, were the shoes. No longer required to wear either Oxford lace-up shoes nor the juvenile strapped shoes, here we wore a more flattering low heel in the neutral taupe colour or we could wear knee-high black boots for inclement weather.
“Hermione, I don’t know about you, but I feel much more like a girl in these clothes,” I spoke loud enough for her to hear while in the changing room next to mine.
“Definitely,” she replied. “I look like I have a bum in this dress,” she giggled, “and the fabric is so much nicer. I could sleep in these robes.”
“I still think I prefer Harry’s old Quidditch jersey,” I told her and we both laughed. We each gathered what we needed. I had been keeping a rough tally in my head, and this wasn’t going to be an inexpensive shopping trip. We hadn’t even gone for our texts or supplies yet and I wanted an owl to write to Harry. I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough gold to cover it all.
I was used to the beauty of the Delacour family. Even at a mere twelve years old, Gabrielle was stunning. The clerk at the store, however, made me feel inadequate. Her black hair fell in perfect ringlets down her back from the intricate twist which was on the back of her head. A silver clip held the hair away from her lavender eyes. Her heart-shaped mouth was moving as I laid my items down before her, and I was surprised when I heard my name from her mouth.
“Are you Miss Weasley or Miss Granger?” she asked, her voice perfectly translated even though the words didn’t match the movements of her mouth.
“Miss Weasley,” I hesitantly responded. “Why do you ask?”
‘Your bill has already been paid,” she explained.
“What do you mean? Who paid the bill?”
“It says here to purchase what you need and a Mr. Potter will have the gold immediately transferred from Gringotts to the shop.” I smiled at the clerk and blushed a little. I knew it would be futile to argue with her, Harry had done what he wanted. While I was a little uncomfortable with the generosity, I had come to understand that Harry wanted to share what he had with me, not out of charity, but because he loved me.
I thanked the clerk and quietly explained the situation to Dad. I know Harry wouldn’t have ever done something to make my father uncomfortable, and Dad worked hard to hide his reaction, but I could read it in my father’s eyes. I wished there was some way to assure him I would always be his little girl, even if my dreams came true and I someday became Harry’s wife.
We completed the shopping and returned to the hotel rooms. I quickly stowed my purchases in my recently redecorated trunk — gone was the Hogwarts logo, replaced by a picture of a unicorn — before nearly skipping over to the guys’ room next door. Hermione was with me, and she knocked gently. A yell from within let us know the door was unlocked and we should come in.
I ran to Harry, who was sprawled out on the bed with a book between his hands, his head propped up on several pillows. I leaped onto the bed and landed on top of Harry. Taking his face between my hands, I kissed him hard and passionately.
“Oi, do you hafta do that in front of people?” Ron complained a moment later.
“Ron, believe me, that’s nothing,” Hermione remarked. “Anyway, she’s thanking him. What he did today was very generous. Thank you.” A look passed between Harry and Hermione, something special and intimate. At one point I was jealous of the time he spent with her, and how easy things were between them. I thought she was my rival. Instead, she was my biggest supporter. The relationship they shared was similar to mine with Bill. He was the brother I could tell anything to, share my secrets and wishes, and I knew he’d always keep them private. With all they’d endured together, Hermione was the one person who’d never left Harry, the one person he could fully trust, even with his life. They had moved beyond friendship, they were siblings in every way which mattered.
“It’s nothing, Hermione, only gold. I want the two of you to have a wonderful year. I want it to be everything the last few years at Hogwarts weren’t,” he explained. Not only had he left instructions with the clothier, he had made similar arrangements with the bookseller, the stationer, the apothecary, potioners, and the pet store. We paid for nothing but our sweets, and I suspect it was because we gave our sweets and our gold to Dad to buy.
“Well, thank you, sweetheart,” I told him, sealing it with another kiss. “I’ll model my new uniform for you later. So much more flattering than the black robes we’ve been wearing. Hermione even said hers makes her bum look better!” A throw pillow came flying at us from the far side of the room.
“You weren’t supposed to share that!” she screamed, blushing wildly enough to be a Weasley.
“Will you model yours for me later, too?” Ron asked expectantly and Hermione’s blush deepened, even as Harry and I began to laugh.
I shifted around so I was lying next to Harry, my head on his chest. “Whatcha reading?”
“It’s the first of the journals about my dad’s work at the Ministry. He was an Unspeakable, but I told you that, didn’t I?” he asked and I nodded against him. “Anyway, he started off in the Brain Room—”
“Did he have a death wish?” Ron muttered. “Gotta be bloody crazy to willing work with that thing.”
“No death wish, Ron, but he did tame the brain,” Harry went on and Ron scoffed at the idea of the Brain being tame. “He left the Brain Room after only being there for about eight months. He then spent a short period in the Time Room, something about a mishap with some wizard creating a time loop and continually going back in time to change things and creating larger and larger issues each time he did.”
“Time can be very tricky,” Hermione stated. “After my third year, when I had the Time-Turner, I knew not to mess with its linear progression.” Harry and I both nodded, Ron looked at her, puzzled. She kissed him to quell the inevitable question he’d ask her.
“So, basically, a year after he started there, he moved again. This time he went to work in the Death Chamber, and worked there until he and Mum were killed,” he explained sadly.
“The room where Sirius died?” Ron asked and Harry nodded.
“It’s really interesting stuff,” he told me quietly. “I wonder if Dad could have saved him?”
There weren’t going to be words to soothe the pain my love was in. Hermione and Ron slipped from the room and I wrapped my arms around him and began kissing him again. I didn’t want him sad today, not when we only had two days left together.