At breakfast in the Great Hall, a tiny reddish-coloured Scops owl appeared, bringing two letters from the official Wizarding post office. The letters were so heavy that the poor owl collapsed in a heap on the table. Ginny absentmindedly fed the poor thing a sausage and looked at the letters. One was in an envelope with Harry’s tell-tale scratching of her name and Hogwarts Castle. The other was in a large scroll with an official Golden Talon seal on green wax.
Golden Talon seal? Green wax? Ginny’s heart raced like mad as she stuffed Harry’s letter, which she was anxious to read, in her rucksack and then opened the scroll. Thinking that her entire future rested on what was within the letter, to her surprise the parchment rolled all the way down to the floor.
Miss Ginevra Weasley, we are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to play for the Holyhead Harpies in the 1999-2000 season.
Ginny squealed and jumped up, giggling, barely breathing and doing a happy dance on her toes. I’m a Harpy, I’m a Harpy! she thought and then another small squeal escaped her and she jumped up and down again, grasping the parchment in both hands.
“Good news?” Jack Edgewater grinned at her from the other side of the toast rack and pumpkin juice flagons.
“What’s the parchment for, Ginny?” Meredith asked. She and Jack were sitting together cosily across the bench, sharing the Daily Prophet.
“I made it! I’ve been accepted to play for the Harpies!” she exclaimed happily, holding the parchment above her head. A shower of clapping and congratulations followed from her classmates sitting nearby.
“Ginny, that’s amazing!” Meredith beamed. Jack gave her a high five across the table. He was still waiting for a letter but, obviously, from the look on his face, his had not come yet.
“It’s all right, Jack, you’ll get yours soon,” Jeremy, the Seeker, said as he plunked onto the bench next to Ginny. “They’re probably all coming in this morning. I can’t wait to be able to try out for the league.” And just then an owl swooped down and tossed a letter into Jack’s lap.
“It’s…It’s from Wimbourne.” Jack looked up with awe.
“Wimbourne!” Meredith shrieked and kissed him on the cheek. Judging by the size of his parchment scroll, he had been accepted, too.
Jack confirmed his acceptance onto the Wasps (Keeper, rookie squad) and Ginny read her position aloud (Chaser, second string). After the celebratory cheers and pumpkin juice toasts at the Gryffindor table, she looked up to see Professor McGonagall walking towards them. She smiled and asked to see Ginny’s parchment roll. Ginny tossed her pigtails, one over each shoulder.
“Congratulations, Miss Weasley.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
McGonagall handed back the parchment. “I trust that this won’t get in the way of your motivation to revise for NEWTs. You may still need your good marks one day.” She winked and strode out of the Great Hall.
Ginny thought about McGonagall’s comments for a moment, but the thoughts disappeared as she rolled up the parchment scroll, eager to go and write to Harry and her mum. She had almost forgotten she had a letter from Harry! She was happy to see a letter from him just two days after she had arrived back at school from the hols. Their dinner at The Burrow last Friday night had gone exceptionally well, and Ginny mused on the time they had spent together. They hadn’t talked about the status of their relationship or trust or rules, and she hadn’t wanted to. She just wanted to talk to him, laugh with him, and enjoy the time they had together, and they had a great time. He had brought over a few of the latest fireworks from the joke shop, her favourite of which had created a series of spinning lights in the sky. Otherwise, they had dinner with her parents. They had gone for the fly they had spoken about and they were back to talking about anything and everything. At the end, to her surprise, he kissed her on the cheek before he Apparated away.
She thought that their newly improved communication via letters would be good for them and their rekindled relationship. She wasn’t sure when they would see each other again, because they hadn’t made plans or talked about it. She did think that he would be at her last Quidditch match of the year, which was coming up in the last weekend of April, and she found herself looking forward to seeing him again very much.
Ginny rolled up the parchment and made her way to the dormitories for her free period to read Harry’s letter and to write to her mum about the Harpies. With a giant smile on her face, she glided through the portrait hole and flung herself onto the sofa in front of the fireplace.
11 April, 1999
Hope your first day back to school isn’t so bad. I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of revising and homework now that you’re only two months away from NEWTs. I hope you find time to focus on other, more pleasant activities like practicing for your last match of the year.
It was good to see you last weekend and on Friday. I may not have mentioned it again after Sunday, but I can’t stop thinking about your Patronus. It’s really good. Very strong and fast and really very beautiful. I’m glad I was able to help you remember how to harness your power into the spell. You’re very good at it and you didn’t really need me at all, but I liked playing along.
Also, flying with you was ace. I couldn’t remember the last time I was up on a broom for fun, and it was that same thrill I had as a kid. I felt eleven all over again. Thank you for reminding me that I can loosen up and have some fun, and do everything I used to enjoy before the war. From now on, I’ll be flying with Ron at least once a week at The Burrow, even if just to toss some Quaffles through the rings. George even said that, next time, he would come and have a two-a-side match with us. Ron said he would invite Bill, too, so it can be evenly matched and should be fun if we can get that going. The only thing that would make it more fun is to have you on my team. It will be summer before we know it, hopefully.
I start work again tomorrow, and I’m nervous and thrilled by it, too. I suspect the other blokes in my unit may be wary of me for running off. I hope they aren’t, and I hope they understand, but I’m not expecting this to be easy. I know it might seem soon to others, but I couldn’t sit at home anymore. I plan to work twice as hard to prove myself now that I’m back and I know I belong at the Academy. Being an Auror is what I’ve always wanted, and I’m determined. I know I’ll enjoy the busyness of the day-to-day, and having something to get up for. I realized weeks ago that I missed having something productive to do with my time, but… can I be honest? It may sound stupid but, in some ways, I’m glad I had the break I did. Sometimes you need to step away from your life to realize how lucky you are to have what you have going for you. And I think it’s partially like taking the hard days you have as a sort of blessing, you know? That at least I’m alive now, fit, and able to work hard and accomplish my goals.
Let me know how you are. —Harry
Ginny folded the letter and put it down. She didn’t know what to write back, but his letter had made her miss him so damn much.
“What are you doing, Ginny?” Hermione sat next to her on the sofa. Her book bag made a loud, dull sound as it dropped to the floor.
”Nothing. Guess what! I’m a Harpy, Hermione! Read!” She dug in her book bag and shoved the parchment scroll she had received that morning into her friend’s hands.
Hermione read the letter, and Ginny tucked her feet under her and mused on Harry’s letter until she was interrupted.
“Erm… Ginny, did you read this carefully?”
Ginny shook her head. “No. Why?”
Hermione pointed to a line somewhere in the fine print. Ginny looked down at the scroll of parchment, zeroing in on paragraph fifty-two of the contract she was supposed to sign and send back within two weeks.
Harpies players are not allowed to have romantic relationships during the season that are not within the bounds of matrimony.
Ginny snatched the parchment back from her friend, and read paragraph fifty-two aloud. Therefore, if she wanted to be in a relationship with Harry, they had to be married or they couldn’t date in season. How ridiculous! This last month waiting for Quidditch team tryouts and then waiting to hear back had left her so exhausted. And now she had this to worry about? Did it ever end?
“What would Harry say if I showed him this?” Ginny wondered out loud, unable to stop staring at paragraph fifty-two of the parchment. Of course, she and Harry weren’t together now, not really, but that didn’t make any difference. They would be closer to working out their issues by this summer for certain and it wasn’t difficult to believe that they would reconcile sooner than that. She wanted to play for the Harpies, but she wanted the option of having a boyfriend, her boyfriend, too. Why oh why did this need to be so complicated? Ginny looked at her friend for answers.
Hermione smiled. “He would be happy that you were even considering him and he would say in that noble way of his that he would wait for you as long as you needed.”
Ginny giggled. “That’s Harry, isn’t it?”
“That’s Harry. Ron would probably take the parchment and tear it into a million bits.” Hermione’s lips turned a smile, and she started giggling also. “I’m sorry, Ginny, I know this can’t be an easy decision for you.”
“Bloody hell! Can’t anything be easy? Am I the only one who thinks the rule is so ridiculously stupid? Harry and I are light years from being married, and besides, I have no desire to marry him right out of Hogwarts! At least, not anymore.”
“You did think it would happen that way?” Hermione asked.
“Once. I did want it to…” she admitted, looking at the fire grate. “I quickly realized that wouldn’t be the case sometime around last September. And now, after everything we’ve been through, I think it was a ridiculous idea to begin with. Harry’s just starting out his life after the war, and I’m trying to build a Quidditch career, and I know from experience that we both have a lot of growing up to do before we’re ready to be married!” She buried her face in her hands. “Please tell me you and Ron aren’t planning an August wedding.”
“No, Ginny. I know I eventually plan to marry Ron, but I don’t want to get married until I’m in my twenties!”
“Ahem.” Ginny did her best impression of Umbridge. “Are you not going to be twenty this September?”
“Yes, but I mean, later in my twenties. At least three or four years from now! After NEWTs, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I would like to work for the Ministry, and I know Ron has a long way to go before he figures out what he wants to do with his life. All I’m saying is… we’re young. We have time. Ginny, might I remind you of something?”
“You — and Harry — share a certain quality that Professor McGonagall might call ‘complete disregard for the rules’. Since when have rules mattered to you?”
A light went off in Ginny’s head at that moment. “Rules? Sod rules!” She jumped up on the sofa in her socked feet. “I’m Fred and George’s sister, am I not?”
Hermione shook her head, laughing.
“And silly rules are meant to be broken.” Of course, except if they’re relationship rules, she thought. Those were meant to be kept. But stupid, silly, archaic rules were not. “I think I’ll be up to the challenge of sneaking around the superiors and seeing Harry anyhow.” She wondered who had made up this unintelligent, antiquated rule and she vowed to find ways around it. Harry’s Invisibility Cloak came to mind, as well as the Disappearing Drink he had given her at his flat the week before last. She was sure if they put their heads together, they could come up with a number of ways they could sneak out of the confines of the dormitories and the contract.
“Are you going to ask what he thinks? Even if you two aren’t technically a couple right now?”
“Yes, absolutely,” Ginny answered quickly, as she jumped down from the sofa and plopped onto the cushion again. “I would want him to tell me. I would be hurt if he didn’t tell me something this important.” And because it would be going against their rule of honesty if she failed to tell him. One of the steps they were planning on taking to improve their relationship was to keep those rules intact and that was important to her.
Ginny pulled out a parchment and, instead of using her free period to read for NEWTs, she began writing a return letter to Harry.
13 April, 1999
It’s official… I’ve been accepted to fly for the Harpies in the 1999-2000 season as a rookie Chaser! Can you believe that? I actually did it!
Don’t let yourself get too excited. There’s more. The contract specifically stated that I can’t have a relationship during the season, which runs from late August to late May. I’ve thought about it for a bit and think you should know about this. Since we’ve recently… talked, I’m wondering how this affects us and everything we talked about last week.
It took a bit of soul searching to realize that a) I’m a Weasley and b) I’ve never been one for following the rules, and c) neither have you. I know there will be ways around this, but in the meantime, we should probably talk about or come up with ideas that will allow us the freedom to see one another if we want to, perhaps in creative ways. If you’re up to the challenge, that is. I hope you still want to continue working on our relationship despite these Bludgers that are constantly being hurled at us! I do want to play for the Harpies, though, you know it’s my dream, and I’ve come so far with it that to give it all up now isn’t exactly ideal.
To answer your letter, forgetting the above for the next few moments, I’m going to start writing to you again in the way you’ve been writing me. I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring your thoughts and simply reporting the news. You were right to tell me I’m wrong, just as months ago, I was right to tell you that you were wrong, too. I’m sorry. It was just what I needed at the time. However, you made me feel like a huge prat when you said that you kept the rules while I haven’t. I just wasn’t sure they applied to us when we’re no longer together. I guess it’s fitting that they should, considering that the rules we were forming at the time are also the basis of a good relationship — any relationship, for that matter, including friendship, which I’ve always enjoyed sharing with you.
I miss talking to you, too, and am glad we had time to be together last week. I agree that it was fun to see you loosen up. You are far too serious sometimes and, honestly, after last year, why should life be so damn serious? It shouldn’t be. It should be fun and carefree, especially now, while we’re young. There is still so much left to do in our lives and so much left to explore — and it’s only just begun! We are so lucky to be alive. Every day I try to find something positive about life and think about what I enjoy about it, because I know how it can be snatched away in an instant.
Good luck this week. I was so happy for you to have found such a meaningful opportunity, and you were doing so well at the Academy last autumn that I was very proud of you. I’m sure you’ll find that, in the next few months, you’ll fall right back into things there. Just, whatever you do, please be safe and don’t place yourself into too much trouble, except I know asking you that is futile.
Please let me know what you think of the Harpies contract restriction. Next time we have a chance to talk in person, we can discuss it. Should I sign the contract? What would you do if you were me?
When she went to the Owlery that afternoon to send his letter and the letter to her parents she had written afterwards, she couldn’t help but think: Two break-ups, a war, many miles of distance and hundreds upon thousands of hours apart had not stopped her from loving Harry Potter or stopped Harry Potter from loving her. Why would some stupid contract? He would feel the same, wouldn’t he? She hoped so.
Harry entered his flat after his third day of training and realized there was a tawny white-faced barn owl waiting for him, perched on his balcony. He retrieved the letter, thanked the owl, which flew off almost immediately, and was glad to see that it was from Ginny. He smiled, wondering what she had written back to him. After the long day of training he’d had, he needed some comfort. It was nice that it came in the form of words from the one person he wanted to hear from the most. He sat on the sofa to open it.
After reading it through, he sighed heavily, set the letter down, and held his head in his hands. Why did everything need to be so complicated? He kicked his legs up on the coffee table, and threw his head back on the sofa.
Harry felt like hitting something, but instead all he could do was sit there and let his imagination run wild. If he couldn’t be her boyfriend during the season, how were they going to make a long-distance relationship work again? Their previous distance relationship hadn’t been so successful to begin with. And now, if Ginny played for Holyhead, it meant that they would need to hide their relationship. Except, how would that affect their… erm, relationship? It would require some serious rule breaking. And what if there were mishaps? It could land Ginny in trouble with the team! He wouldn’t want a few nights of fun with him to be the cause of her being reprimanded or, worse, cut from the squad. He was afraid that she was thinking of him and wasn’t seriously thinking about the consequences of breaking a magical contract which she willingly and legally signed.
It wasn’t all terrible, though. The rest of the letter was rather promising. Harry picked it up again and mused for a few moments on how she had signed the letter, “Yours”. Perhaps things were looking up for them, and it was obvious that she needed him to reassure her that nothing, not even the Harpies, would ever stand between them again.
16 April, 1999
You didn’t need to ask me, but thanks for considering me. If it were me, and I were you, I would sign the contract. You’re going to play for the team you love, and I’m amazed you did follow your dreams like that. You are truly something else and I admire you for it.
The Harpies’ rule in no way impacts my desire to work on our relationship. I don’t think something like this is large enough to stand in our way. There are some concerns I have. We’re going to need to talk about the no boyfriend policy and come up with ways to bend the Harpies’ rules in our favour — safe ways that won’t land you in too much trouble. I think it may take us the whole summer to put our heads together and come up with creative ways for your superiors to completely forget about that rule. We better start thinking sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you should send in your signed contract, and congratulations.
I hope you can meet me after your Quidditch match next weekend. Maybe we can go for a walk and talk about what we plan to do about this rule? Or I can take you out for dinner at the Three Broomsticks, if you think Professor McGonagall would give you permission to leave the castle with me after the match. Your choice, whatever makes you happy.
Thanks for being you again in your letters. I’ve missed you.
This can’t be the best training method, Harry thought as he plunged into the icy cold lake. He had been duelling the fugitive on the bridge, and when he jumped straight into the water, Harry had no choice but to follow. He couldn’t let his suspect escape, especially not during his first midnight exercise that he could participate in since he had come back to the Academy.
He quickly Transfigured his glasses to goggles and had just finished a Bubble-Head Charm when he spotted his target, who was rapidly moving away from Harry’s line of vision. What had begun as a duel in an abandoned building between three of his classmates and four suspects had become a full-on chase. He had been in pursuit of the bloke for the last half hour, and Harry realized that the endurance exercises and all those press-ups definitely came in handy at times like this. He just wished he was as fit as he had been a few months ago.
Harry cast three spells in a row, but the water was so murky and dark that he failed to hit the suspect. Suddenly, the wizard threw a spell backwards at Harry which ricocheted through the water, hitting him in his chest. It caused him to nearly drown as chains linked across his front. Momentarily frightened, he cast a quick counter spell, and the chains snapped. Once he pushed them off and found his footing in the shallower water on the embankment, he found that the pursuit was nearly ending. His culprit had stumbled and fallen to the ground. Now that he could see, Harry threw a well-aimed Stunning Spell before his suspect could Apparate away. The spell had caught the wizard unaware, and the unassuming villain was thrown backwards and landed in a heap where the water met the shore. Just as he was stumbling up, Harry was met by his superior, Proudfoot.
“Well done, Potter.”
“Yes, good work, Potter,” said another Auror, there on supervision. Water dripped into Harry’s eyes as he nodded. They tossed a blanket at him, which he gladly pulled around his shoulders. He then walked towards where the other Aurors-in-training, who had already completed their missions, were standing, waiting for the other trainees to arrive. A few minutes later, the wizard he had been duelling was up on his feet and walking towards him.
“Hey, there. Great show!”
The voice was much higher than he had expected. It wasn’t a bloke. It was a woman.
“You’re a girl?” Harry took a step back, a little surprised, but not really.
“I’m a woman,” she corrected and took off her hood and smiled at him.
Harry grinned back. She might have been a couple of years older than he. She had short, dark hair and a kind face.
“I’m sorry I had to Stun you like that,” Harry offered. He still felt out of breath. Between that and feeling cold, his words came out oddly. “I really wanted to get good marks on this exercise and you didn’t make it very easy on me.”
“I wouldn’t have taken it easy on ya’,” she said as she squeezed the water from her short hair.
“So, this is what you do for a living? Trying to off the Auror trainees?”
“No.” She laughed. “It’s my part-time gig. During the day, I work in the Department of Magical Law enforcement.”
“What do you do there?”
“I’m a technical crime scene expert.”
“Ah ha. Well, obviously you know how criminals think.” He smiled at his joke. “You nearly drowned me!”
“I’ve had some experience.” She seemed amused. “It’s fun to train Aurors. I’ve been doing it once a week for about four years. Of course, not counting last year.”
Once a week? Harry thought to himself, still a bit winded. Midnight exercises were more and more usual in this part of training and although he’d had four months off, he’d had to jump right back into where everyone else was at, and it had been physically exhausting these past two weeks, to say the least. With training back in full force, Harry felt a stab of uncertainty about whether going back to full-time training so soon was the wisest course for him to take, but he wouldn’t leave training again and knew he would need to push through it.
Harry pushed a hand across his wet hair, distracted by the shouts of other Auror trainees who were ending their exercises now. One of them, he realized, was Ash, who had just exited the water with his criminal and was walking towards them.
“Potter, all right?” Ash asked as he pulled his own blanket around his shoulders. Harry felt drier than before and cast a Warming Charm on his clothes as he and Ash spoke about the exercise and how it had gone. He noticed that the witch he had been duelling had walked over to the man Ash had been duelling.
“She’s pretty, no? I would say she looked pretty friendly towards you just now.”
“Oh, err… she was the one I was chasing and I didn’t notice. Too freezing, I suppose.”
“Why couldn’t they pair me up with her? You’re lucky, Potter.”
“Not that it matters.”
“Why do you say that?” Ash grinned.
Harry shrugged. He didn’t want to say that the only girl he cared to talk to right now was in a castle in Scotland being sorely missed by her former boyfriend.
The witch walked back towards them and extended her hand to Harry. “Thank you for a great chase. And great to meet you too, Mr. Potter. It’s really an honour.” Harry nodded and said goodbye. Soon, there was a call for all to return to headquarters.
He took a few steps away with Ash and Apparated back to the dungeons.
“You are completely in love with her, aren’t you?” Ash asked as they walked into the locker rooms, followed by other classmates who had just Apparated in as well.
Harry threw him an odd look. “With whom?”
Harry raised an eyebrow at Ash. “What makes you say that?” He opened his locker, and busied himself with stowing away his gear and gathering his belongings.
Ash peeked around the side of Harry’s locker door. “You didn’t even notice that girl! She was pretty and talking to you and you were distracted as anything. What is going on with you and Ginny anyhow?” Since he was back at training, Harry hadn’t even mentioned Ginny to Ash at all. He had been back at the Academy less than ten days and besides, he hadn’t really wanted to talk about her with anyone, because there was nothing to talk about.
Harry shrugged. “For now? Nothing very much.”
“You’re not going out?”
“We’re… no, we’re not. Right now we’re… talking, but we’re also taking things slow.”
Harry paused, staring into space. “Meaning… she doesn’t want to be with me now, but in time she’ll want to be.” He was hopeful for that. She did want to be with him more than not, and she did love him. He knew that and that’s what made waiting okay. It was just difficult to put into words to someone else, about why they weren’t going out now. He was sure he didn’t need to explain, though. Ash knew enough of what had happened early in the year, and Harry knew his friend was bright enough to decipher why Ginny didn’t want to be with him right now.
“Girls are rather strange, eh? It’s not black or white, ‘yes, I’ll go out with you’ or ‘no, I won’t.’ It’s ten thousand shades of grey which us men can hardly decipher.”
“True.” Harry sighed, shut the door of his locker, and secured it with a locking spell. He hoisted his rucksack onto his shoulder and he and Ash walked back out to the dungeons.
After filing an affidavit on how the criminal was accounted for, it was nearly three o’clock in the morning by the time that Harry got back to his flat. It was typical time for an Auror to make it home on an evening when there was a criminal to apprehend. This was the life he’d chosen and he would need to get used to it — and for the first time, he hoped Ginny would be accepting of the life he had chosen. He wondered why he had never even considered asking her how she felt about him becoming an Auror. It showed that he had never seriously considered a future with her before the past few months.
He kicked off his boots and made a beeline for the kitchen where he grabbed a huge container of leftover noodles from the fridge and went to the sofa. He threw himself down and stretched out his legs. After eating voraciously, he threw the empty take-away container in the bin, and stretched his muscles to relax. He opened the French doors out to the balcony to cool down his body and rolled up the sleeves of his jumper to his elbows. His whole entire body buzzed with the energy of the experiences he’d had tonight. He knew he wouldn’t sleep, although it didn’t really matter because he had the day off tomorrow.
He walked out to the balcony in socked feet and grabbed a broom — the sweeping kind. He began to sweep the white flower petals that had been accumulating on the balcony off the edge. The gardenias were blossoming and the whole balcony smelled of flowers.
He wished he could talk to Ginny right now about all the mixed feelings he was having about having gone back to training so soon; there was that, coupled with the fact that he was still nervous about what was between them. Letters weren’t enough. He missed holding her and talking to her in person. She’d seemed to fit him like a glove from the first moment they were together, and he’d had that feeling every time he had held her since. The last time he had hugged her — by The Burrow garden gate — hadn’t been enough. Harry closed his eyes and breathed in, smelling the flowers and trying to at least imagine what it felt like to hold her against him again.
Harry was glad he had his flat to himself. He needed a shower. Another in a long line of very long, very cold showers he had taken when thinking too much of Ginny night after night and after reading her most recent letters.
Later that night, when he was finally dressed in sweats and a vest for bed, Harry pulled out his Pensieve for the second time that month. He was ready to view a certain memory because he simply had to know what he was thinking at that exact moment. As he pulled a string of memory from his forehead, he pressed his face into the liquid. The ever-present fear of seeing these memories was there, but mostly he needed to focus on himself and Ginny, forgetting the events of the past. They were over, and nothing could hurt him now. He repeated an affirmation to himself and closed his eyes, willing himself to relax.
There he was, watching Ginny climb out of Ariana Dumbledore’s portrait hole in the Room of Requirement. His heart jumped and, as he stood there, he watched himself forget how to speak when he saw her. At that point, he hadn’t seen her for so long, and his first thought was that she was so beautiful to him, but it was more than that. He had known keenly what it was that he was feeling and what it meant, although the feelings were too heavy and there was so much more to do and think about, that he’d immediately pushed it away. He’d known he loved her that night, hadn’t he? He just hadn’t comprehended what his feelings meant at the time. He hadn’t understood.
Then the memory changed. He stood there, watching himself go about the motions, shouting at her to stay safe and out of the way, as his heart was rent apart watching her run into a cloud of dust and danger. How he had longed to pull her to him at that moment, as Ron had pulled Hermione to him, and kiss her, tell her how much he had missed her and loved her and to beg her to please, please not die. In that moment, he had wanted to kiss her, once for every day he had been away from her. He wanted to hold her in his arms and plead with her to protect herself because he would never be able to live with himself if he lost her.
Harry wanted to rage at himself, standing there looking angry and defeated. But he knew that Pensieve Harry could not feel these things because he could barely feel at all. His grim determined look told all. Losing Ginny would make sense. It would be just one more grievous notch in his twisted fate and besides, the promise of his own future was so grim that it was like a fleeting, abstract thought. If I live, if she lives… He had known that the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
Harry extracted himself from the memory and landed back on his mattress. He stared at the ceiling fan, feeling so angry about the past year that he felt a hot tear slide down his cheek. He was angry at himself and what he had let himself become and not having been strong enough to overcome it on his own, and angry at his mind for reacting the way it had about Ginny. To think that he had rejected love when it had been his greatest weapon, the fact that he could love! When he had finally mastered his fate and defeated death, the highs and lows of having done such a thing — and so many lives having been lost — had taken Ginny from the forefront of his mind, darkened so many of his nights and muted too many of his days.
He opened the bedside drawer and took out a framed photo. He stared at the picture of him and Ginny taken before the Aurors’ party which he had since framed because he had held it so many times that the corners were becoming turned up. He touched her face and picture Ginny wrinkled her nose up at him. He loved Ginny. He loved her more than he could ever hope to describe in words. He wanted to be with her forever. He knew that now and even at the age of seventeen he had known it, but back then, he had lost sight of his true feelings.
From there, he took a deep breath and knew that he had to see one more memory. One that he never imagined wanting to ever see. He wasn’t sure why he felt brave enough to delve into the next memory alone when all along he’d feared seeing himself in this memory. He hadn’t known if he would ever want to look at this one, perhaps in his whole life, but he had to know if there was a reason he hadn’t been able to let go of what it might mean.
He caught up to himself just as he was entering the clearing to face Voldemort and surrender his life. Then he saw it. His last happy thought, before his certain death was upon him, was Ginny’s fierce gaze as she was running towards him in the common room. The thought had given him a reason to die with a smile on his face. Ginny had stood for his future at that moment, for everything that could have been and never would be. Harry knew that their first kiss in the common room had been the happiest moment of his life.
Harry pulled himself out of the Pensive and landed on his mattress hard. He jumped off the bed and began pacing.
Cor! He’d had a second chance at life and what had he done with it? He had nearly ruined everything. Now he was serious. He was going to convince her one way or the other to take him back — not slowly, but all at once, and sooner than she thought possible. He was going to tell her all that she needed to hear. He took a parchment and quickly scratched a note. The sun was already rising when he completed his letter.
19 April, 1999
I need to meet with you this weekend, you and me, even if just for a walk on the Hogwarts grounds. I need to talk to you again. About us. I know where we left it off, but I realized that I left out a lot of what I meant to say and I still have a lot to say to you. Please give me another chance to sort out my thoughts or at least hear me out.
Harry sat at his desk with his take-away container in front of him. It had just arrived piping hot, and he removed the plastic lid to a full meal of rice and red curry. He was hit with the fragrant aroma of the food as the steam hit his face. He simply couldn’t get enough of this type of food, for the heat in it, and the way it woke up his senses. He never imagined that he would ever eat such lovely food while he was being starved as a child by Vernon and Petunia or last year on the Horcrux hunt, when sometimes there was nothing to eat but bits of mushroom and leaves.
“Thanks for ordering lunch, Ash. This is just what I needed.”
“No problem, my friend.”
As he took his first bite, he closed his eyes, savouring the flavours. Today hadn’t been the worst day. After morning exercises and a class on tactical weapons, he was now stationed at his assigned duty. Harry hadn’t known it, because he had never returned to the Academy after Christmas hols, but all Auror trainees now had assigned duties from eleven in the morning until two in the afternoon. When he first arrived back a few weeks ago, his assigned duty time was spent doing press-ups or duelling exercises. This was his second day on his current duty, and in all honesty, it reminded him of one of Snape’s detentions — which he found to be boring — but in this case, it allowed him a lot of time to think, which he liked. Harry was also glad that he wasn’t alone in this task as Ash had been assigned the same duty.
He did have another class afterwards from two to five, but for now, he was to file old case reports. The job of an Auror required a good amount of documentation since all the evidence and information gathered in each case was put before the Wizengamot and given to the barristers who defended or prosecuted each criminal. Therefore, the more information gathered in each case, the better, but there was a back-log of a few years’ worth of unfiled reports and evidence documents. Harry couldn’t believe that the work had gone undone for so long, but then again, there had been a war going on. He was sure that Aurors were still gathering information, testimonies, and evidence in the Death Eater trials, and he and Ash would probably be made to sort through some of that mess, too, in a few months.
“Have you seen the Prophet today?” Ash suddenly interrupted his thoughts.
“No.” Harry usually picked it up on the way in, but he had nearly overslept this morning.
“I just got it on our break. They’ve officially named May 1st Victory Day. It came to a vote this morning. Here, read the article.”
Harry stopped eating and read the headline. May1st, First Ever Victory Day Celebration Announced. Reading on, he realized that celebrations would be May first, evening, and last through May 2nd, which would be a Wizarding holiday. His name was mentioned a few times in the more important places, and he knew it wouldn’t be long before the invitations to all of the formal celebrations came in. He was sure that his inbox here at the Ministry was piled high with them already.
Harry was glad they had chosen a name and made the day one of remembrance and holiday, and even more glad that they hadn’t named the day after him.
22 April, 1999
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on meeting you since I received your last two letters. As much as I would love to, I don’t think I can meet you this weekend after my Quidditch match because I know my team will want to celebrate if we win and commiserate if we lose, and I’m the captain. I can’t abandon them. I know you understand that. Also, I have classes and I’m revising for NEWTs and having a horrible time with all the reading and essays and maintaining my focus. I hope you understand that during the week following is impossibility for me, too.
I was thinking, how about you meet me after the ceremony on May first? Did you receive your invitation from Professor McGonagall? I’m sure the news about naming the day is all over the Ministry. I’ll be there to commemorate the first ever Victory Day with you and we can talk afterwards. Yes, I know we haven’t talked about it because the news is rather fresh, but sometimes I wonder if I’m thinking your thoughts. I too am glad that they didn’t call it Harry Potter Day because I’m sure you would have hated that or gone into hiding every year around this time. I would have thought it quite uncomfortable to have a day named after me as well, so I’m glad the Wizengamot spared you. Victory Day is suitable because it’s less about you, the Boy Who Lived (thank Godric), and more about us as a Wizarding culture surviving those dark times.
I want to talk to you also, Harry, but I’m a little nervous about what you plan to say. I thought we had a great talk over Easter hols. What’s left? I thought that the only thing we needed to do now was enjoy the time we have together and see what happens. If you need to say more, then in preparation for this talk you plan to have with me, please make sure you think things through carefully. That’s all I ask. I know you may need to talk to me, but you’re talking about my heart here, and it’s been through a lot in the past few months and year — and it’s just starting to make progress.
Harry was glad he had received this letter in the morning. It had taken the better part of six hours to formulate a response in his mind which he would send after work today.
I’ll certainly take into consideration your wants and needs. I promise to be careful with your heart…from now on, and always. I hope you can trust that I mean that. See you on the first. If I need to wait patiently for a few more days and then sit through some wonky ceremony, at least I know that seeing you afterwards makes it all worth it.
P.S. I’ll also see you this weekend. I hope you win.
The morning of the last Quidditch match of the year dawned bright and beautiful. Ginny walked out to the pitch with her team, enjoying the spring air, but her mind was on something other than Quidditch. She couldn’t help but think about the bouquet of fresh white flowers waiting for her on her bedside table when she awoke this morning. As she changed for the match and then sat on a bench to go over her playbook for a few moments, she could barely focus.
Harry had also left a small “good luck” card, and signed it with “love”, as he had been signing all of his letters since the frantic one he’d sent to her, asking to see her. Their special meeting was still a week from today and, although it had her bloody well worried as to what he was going to tell her, she couldn’t stand waiting any longer to hear him out. She quickly slammed her playbook shut and told the Beaters, Andrew and Graham, to tell the team she would be back in five minutes to go over the plays. She was going to find Harry to at least say hello and thank him for the flowers, since she wasn’t sure if she would have time to after the match.
It didn’t take long to find him. Oh Merlin, there he is. He was standing at the fence beside the entrance to the pitch,, talking with Ron and Hermione. She noticed that he was wearing dark jeans and a button-up white shirt. His shirtsleeves were rolled up to his elbows, which were resting on the wood. The light was hitting Harry’s hair, making it shine and the longer strands were tucked behind his ears. He looked… bloody hell! Ginny could feel her face grow warmer by the moment. He looked gorgeous.
Walking up to the three of them, the sun made her squint as she looked up at her brother and her more and more sorely missed ex-boyfriend. She couldn’t help but miss him these days, especially since they had spent time together over the hols.
“Hi, Harry. Ron.” She didn’t greet Hermione, but gave her a small girlfriend-to-girlfriend glance.
Harry smiled at her. How was it that, when he looked at her, it was like they were the only two people in the world? “Loads of pressure, gearing up for the House Cup? I know, I’ve been there.”
“A Gryffindor House Cup is not likely. You know that from my letters. I’ll need to score at least two hundred and fifty points if we’re to catch up with Ravenclaw in the standings. The team looks great, except I’m a bit worried about this being Meredith’s match to play and not Jeremy’s. She’s under pressure and, if we don’t win the Snitch at the right time, we have no hope of getting the Cup.”
“I’m sorry.” He did seem sorry.
“It’s okay, Harry. In all, if we don’t win, I’m happy to give the cup to Ravenclaw. They haven’t won a cup in thirteen years, and they deserve it.”
“Hey, Ginners, who are those official-looking wizards standing with Madame Hooch?” Ron asked.
Ginny turned her head to look. “League officials. No doubt, they’re making sure there are no last-minute recruits. Although I heard Gwenog Jones is here, along with Gertrude Solomon, the captain of the Harpies.”
“And Ginny Weasley, rookie Chaser of the Holyhead Harpies,” Harry remarked, “Watch, you’ll be famous. Truthfully, I’ll be glad to give up the limelight. Perhaps the Prophet dailies will be more concerned about who you’re going out with a few months from now and not me.”
Ginny tilted her head to one side. “I think I would make for more interesting reading than your articles, anyhow. And besides, Ginny Weasley, rookie Chaser, may have a more exciting love life to share than Ginny Weasley, Hogwarts student.”
Harry gave a low whistle, the look on his face quite interested. “Perhaps she will. Although her team better not find out.” Ginny gave him a flirty look, knowing that she had asked for the reaction she garnered from him. She knew she had to get back to give her team an encouraging talk, but she couldn’t bear to leave Harry’s side. She felt like she could stand there and talk to him all day.
“We’ll talk next week.” Then she stood on her tip-toes, reached over and hugged him from the opposite side of the fence “Thanks for the flowers and the note.” She added in a near whisper, “I don’t think I’ll be able to explain to the Harpies captain next year why I receive flowers before every match so it’s nice that you’re doing it now while you still can.”
“You’re welcome,” he grinned, “You honestly like the flowers?”
“Yes, Harry. I love the flowers.”
“See you, Harry.” She gave him a small wave.
He nodded. “Yes, next week.”
Ginny looked over her shoulder to the wizard standing in the sun and couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. They were like magnets. She had no power to stop the undeniable force that was drawing them closer. She could only try to delay it for awhile, but even that was proving more difficult than she had ever thought possible.
A/N: I have some thank-yous to give out to those who have made this chapter possible. I want to thank my pre-beta, Justin T., for his excellent editing, comments, honesty, help and friendship. I would also like to thank Arnel, my wonderful beta, for taking the time during this busy holiday season to send me back my chapters quickly, and for all of her hard work. Lastly, I would like to thank all of you who reviewed my last chapter and I would also like to thank those who are still reading along. Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all! —R