Life at Privet Drive was as miserable as ever. It wasn't because his
uncle and aunt had been treating him like a poorly trained dog, which
was the same as they had since he was a toddler. Instead it was the
impending sense of doom that had been hanging over him since Professor
McGonagall's threat had been levied against him three days ago.
True to her word, an owl arrived that evening, just as Harry was starting on his homework.
Unable to ignorethe
large brown tawny that was used for official school deliveries –
especially when it hopped onto his Potions essay, scattering inky
footprints over his diagram of the effects of an improperly brewed wart
removal potion – Harry said, "All right, I'll take the ruddy letter."
With a labored sigh, he took the scroll from the owl's outstretched
foot and unrolled it before the impatient bird gave him a baleful hoot
and flew out his window.
Mr. Harry Potter,
wishing to harp on about the circumstances in which you are receiving
this letter, I think it would be best to get to the point. You are to
be taken to The Burrow every morning at nine o'clock by Portkey, where
you will be assigned a task by Mr. or Mrs. Weasley. Miss Weasley will
be on hand to assist you in ways that have yet to be determined. I have
it on good authority that both of you will be kept busy throughout the
summer and that the list of tasks compiled by Mrs. Weasley is quite
You are to act civilly
around Miss Weasley and will communicate to her with respect and
kindness at all times. On Saturday evenings, she will be studying with
you at your aunt and uncle'shouse. You should have plenty of time to complete your homework assignments during this time.
keep in mind that if you do not fulfill your obligations this summer,
or if it is reported that you have been less than pleasant with Miss
Weasley, I will be forced to suspend you from classes in the fall.
Hoping you are well, Albus Dumbledore Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
first, Harry didn't seem to think that the punishment would be too
unbearable. But when he read the part about being 'civil' with Ginny,
he nearly tore the parchment in half. How could he be expected to even be around her, let alone act like she was some kind of friend?
succumbing to his rage, he viciously crumpled the paper into a tight
ball and threw it against the wall, hardly noticing as it bounced off
the small dresser and dutifully smacked him in the face. His foul mood
only amplified by the now mussed Potions essay, Harry flung himself
onto his bed and managed a small smile at the thought of hexing Ginny's
hair to fall out, leaving her bright white head bald and smooth.
was miserable. The journey home from King's Cross by Floo was
uneventful, as she had now done it four years in a row. Ron didn't even
trip over himself saying goodbye to Hermione. Fred and George had yet
to tease her for hexing Harry and they weren't going to Grimmauld
Place. No, the problem was what was waiting for her when she had taken
all her things to her room.
Her mother had Apparated there and as soon as Ginny had closed the door, had given her what amounted to an in-person Howler.
Molly Weasley," she had started. It was never good for Ginny when her
mother used her full name. Resolving to let her mother get it over
with, she sat heavily onto her bed and gazed blankly at the towering
inferno before her.
"I am sorely disappointed in your
behavior." Her mum was brandishing two opened letters in her hand,
waving them madly as she ranted. "First I receive an owl that tells me
you've gone missing at the Ministry, chasing after Death Eaters," she
said wielding the letter in her right hand. "Death Eaters, I tell you.
"Then, another owl comes, the same day,
telling me you've not only been in a duel with a student, but that
you've landed yourself in hospital." The parchment and envelope in her
mum's left hand was now flitting around in front of her as she used
them to punctuate her speech. "But it doesn't end there, does it? No,
it doesn't... because the student you've been dueling with is, Merlin
help me, Harry Potter!"
Ginny folded her hands on her
skirt and waited, knowing that the worst of it was over and that any
minute now, she was going to come over to the bed and sweep her up in a
big hug. Her mother continued to stare at her, arms propped on her
hips. "Why, Ginny? Why couldn't you have just left him be?"
Suddenly confused, Ginny dropped her stony exterior and looked askance at her mum. "What do you mean?"
mother sat on the bed next to her, but did not open her arms as Ginny
had expected. "He's lost so much, Ginny," she said with a sad
expression. "The one person who's been a father to him since he was an
infant was taken from him the day before and you did nothing but rub
his nose in it."
Unbidden, tears sprang in Ginny's eyes. She
hadn't cried since her first year and it was terribly difficult for her
to accept them now. Her throat burned with pent up emotion as she
fought them down, desperately trying to keep her composure. "I..." she
started, but had to stop when her voice cracked. Finally regaining
control, she continued, "I guess I didn't think he'd be that bad off."
Her words fell flat and sounded cheap and stupid, even to her ears.
let's hope that whatever Dumbledore has planned for you this summer
will help you to think a little more often about other people's
feelings, young lady." With that, her mother stood and crossed the
room, arms still folded across her chest. "Don't bother to come down
for dinner," were the last words she spoke as she closed the door on
her way out.
It took a full minute before unbearable sadness
burst through her dam of control. Tears leaked through her tightly
closed lids and she fell onto her bed, sobbing into her pillow until
she fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning,
Ginny heard the unmistakable sound of Professor McGonagall's voice
floating up from the kitchen. Still feeling miserable about her
situation, Ginny didn't want to risk facing her still brooding mother
and her school Head of House.
Instead, she waited, pulling her
covers over her head and tried to manage to suffocate herself with her
own foul morning breath. It certainly seemed preferable to being at
odds with her mother for the summer. She conjured up a vision of Harry
being pummeled by Draco Malfoy and his goons, Crabbe and Goyle.
At last, she heard the distinctive pop
of the Floo grate and McGonagall's thick Scottish accent ceased.
Pushing the bedclothes off her face, she had to squint to block out the
bright sunshine streaming through her windows. With a scowl at the
cheery rays, she pulled on her dressing gown and made her way to the
When she arrived downstairs, her stomach growling
madly from missing dinner the previous evening, she tried to slip into
a chair at the table unnoticed, but Ron was there and brainlessly
shouted a happy greeting through a mouth full of eggs.
"Morn'in Gin'if," he mumbled thickly.
offered a weak wave and started to pull food onto her plate with her
fork, intent on eating and leaving for her room as soon as possible.
Unwillingly however, her eyes caught her mother's stare and she shrunk
back in her chair at the calculated smugness she saw there. Knowing
that a punishment whose consequences far outstripped the crime she had
committed was now whirling around in her mother's brain, she doubled
the speed with which she ate, rivaling Ron's usual gusto.
as she had scraped off the last crumbs on her plate, her mother's hand
rested on her shoulder and the other produced a folded letter, which
she held in front of Ginny's face. "Read this, then we'll talk about
what it says in the living room."
Her brother shot them both
an odd look but kept his mouth closed for once. Ginny held the
parchment with some trepidation, certain that the key to a summer of
misery lay within its folds. Her mother Banishedthe dirty
dishes and set them washing while Ginny continued to stare at the
letter, vainly hoping that it would read itself and save her the
Finally mustering her courage, she gave Ron a look of annoyance, split the seal with a finger and opened the letter.
Miss Ginevra Weasley,
to your willful and belligerent attack on Mr. Potter, Professor
Dumbledore has authorized me to plan and administer your punishment
prior to your return to Hogwarts in the fall. Failure to fulfill each
of the obligations listed below will result in your suspension from
school and possible dismissal from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Mr. Potter will be
assigned to perform several tasks involving manual labor on the
property surrounding your home throughout the summer. As part of your
punishment, you will be required to assist Harry in his tasks by
ensuring the following:
must have adequate drinking water available. If there is ever a
time that potable water is not present, you will be required to serve
one day's detention with Professor Snape on the Saturday and/or Sunday
following the day that such infraction(s) have occurred.
will ensure that all his medical needs are taken care of. The
Improper Use of Magic Office has agreed to cease monitoring all common
medical charms at The Burrow for the duration of the summer. You would
do well to brush up on them before he arrives tomorrow morning.
midday and at the end of each day, you are to prepare a meal for
him. These meals must provide him with as much food as he can
eat, to be determined by Mr. Potter. You are to eat your meals with him.
you are to engage in combined study sessions with him on Saturday
evenings, where you will complete your summer homework assignments.
These will take place at Privet Drive and will be supervised by a
member of the Order.
Once again, I
must remind you of the seriousness of your actions and the necessity to
make them right. If you cannot or will not meet these requirements,
please inform your parents of your intention to withdraw from studies
at Hogwarts and arrange for alternate education at another facility.
Best wishes, Professor Minerva McGonagall Deputy Headmistress, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
cold fury welled up inside of Ginny as she continued to read the letter
over and over, sure that it was a joke; that the dark green ink would
twist and turn into a giant "GOTCHA!" But McGonagall's tightly curled
letters continued to stare mockingly up at her and she felt her blood
Stomping into the living room, where she knew her mother
was waiting for her, parchment crumpling in her tight fist, Ginny
stopped short when she saw her mother and father waiting patiently in the loveseat by the fireplace.
"Dad?" she asked dumbstruck. Her father never stayed home from work, even when he was deathly ill. He was famous for it. "What are you doing here?"
Weasley stood to his full height, which was now just a head taller than
his daughter, and straightened his robes. "I'm here to ensure that you
stop making rash decisions, young lady."
Ginny took a step
backwards. Her dad was always the lenient one, always quick to forgive
and to smooth things over with her mother. Looking up at his face, she
saw no lenience and no intention of letting her get off with a slapped
hand. It was then that she knew she was doomed to suffer the cruel fate
of waiting on Harry Potter hand and foot, but she still couldn't make
herself accept it. Not yet.
"It's not fair, Daddy!"Ginny bellowed in a whiny voice that she hadn't used since she was ten. "You can't make me do this! I'm waiting on that brat hand and foot!"
think it's perfectly fitting, considering the horrible things you've
done," said her mum as she walked up to Arthur's side, slipping her arm
"Horrible things I've done?" Ginny asked incredulously. "I got into a fight with Harry, I didn't bloody kill
him!" Her voice was all over the scale and Ginny knew that when she
started emphasizing words randomly throughout her sentences, it was a
sign she was close to hysterics. This was especially evident because
she couldn't keep the image of her strangling the
Boy-Who-Seriously-Pissed-Her-Off out of her mind.
and I have spoken with both Professor McGonagall and Headmaster
Dumbledore and feel that the punishment is suitable." He paused as
Ginny started to take deep gulping breaths, sending her head spinning
with the buzz of too much oxygen. "You will submit to their requests,
or we will be forced to send you to Beauxbatons in the fall."
was too much; the lack of oxygen from her hyperventilation and the
stress of what she was hearing her parents say combined to overwhelm
her system. Dumbstruck, Ginny's knees buckled and she fell to the
floor, blacking out just before her head hit the side of the sofa.
next morning dawned bright and clear, exactly the opposite of Harry's
mood. Swishing off his sheet and blanket to a pile at the end of his
bed, he sat up and rotated his body, placing his feet on the floor. The
sounds of his uncle came from the first floor; a thump from the
downstairs loo, followed by the swishing of the toilet came up through
the floor, but there was no accompanying rush of water from the sink. Blech, thought Harry. I pity the poor bloke that has to shake his hand this morning.
an uncomfortable pressure in his bladder, urged on by the running water
below, Harry left his room and wandered across the hall to the upstairs
loo, intent on relieving himself and washing his hands.
Finished with his morning duties, he dressed and walked downstairs. Remus Lupin was sitting onthe
settee next to the television in his Aunt Petunia's living room.
Pleasantly shocked by his former professor's presence, he didn't think
twice about hugging the now-standing werewolf.
doing here?" he queried, giving the older man a firm slap on the back.
He sent his aunt a sidelong glance as she not-so-subtly eavesdropped on
them while pretending to dust the bookshelf. He knew that it didn't
need dusting because she had made him clean it the day he returned from
Remus smiled, and it warmed Harry's heart a little,
knowing that if he could smile, then perhaps the gloom that had been
hanging around Harry since he had left Dumbledore's office wasn't so
impenetrable. "As I'm sure you've already figured out," said Remus,
holding Harry at arms length to look at him properly, "you aren't going
to go to The Burrow unescorted."
"Right," said Harry wearily, but before he said anything else, Remus gave him a stern look.
not going to mince words with you, Harry. You've messed up in a big way
and I'm not certain there's anything you could do to repair your
friendship with Ginny."
The reminder of his summer punishment
sent his fleeting good spirits spiraling to the ground. "I know," he
said, hanging his head dejectedly. "I'm not exactly looking forward to
this, you know."
"Well, at least I'll be able to keep a proper eye on you," Remussaid with the twinkle in his eye returning.
"You aren't going to show up here every
morning, are you?" said Harry, looking at his aunt again. She had been
dusting the same shelf for the entirety of their conversation and her
wrist was hardly moving the feather duster in her hand as she continued
to listen. "Some people wouldn't take to that idea very well."
Petunia finally dropped all pretense; leaving the duster on the
well-cleaned shelf, she walked primly over to stand next to Harry,
wiping her hands on her apron with stiff strokes. "If you think we're
going to let you...." She trailed off, eying Remus cautiously, then
continued. "Your kind just show up whenever you want, you've got
"Now, Petunia," said Remus
diplomatically, opening his palms in a gesture that was intended to
show good will. Petunia immediately backed into the settee and was
awkwardly forced to sit. "You won't let an old friend come over to
Her face turned an unnatural shade of puce and having
spent the last fifteen years memorizing her expressions, Harry knew
that she was biting back a particularly snippy remark. "You," she
enunciated carefully, "are not a friend. No matter how close you were
to my sister."
Remus' face fell a smidgeon and he sighed.
"Yes, well...I had hoped that the incident at Lily and James' wedding
would count for something in my favor."
Something flashed on
Petunia's face and she stood abruptly. Not looking Remus in the eye,
she said, "Only you. No others." Then, with a speed Harry hadn't ever
seen his aunt display, she swept from the room and into the kitchen.
smirked at Harry and produced a barely intact handset from an ancient
telephone from his robe pocket. "Are you ready then?" he asked,
extending the hand with the faded green plastic device.
"I guess," said Harry in awe. "But you're definitely
going to have to tell me what 'incident' you're talking about. Anything
that can get Aunt Petunia to turn tail and run has got to be worth
With a laugh that brought out the wrinkles around
his eyes, Remus nodded and said, "Perhaps later...Right now, you've got
a detention to carry out."
After her mother had
revived her, Ginny continued to mope about the unfairness of their
punishments and Molly finally confronted her about it in the living
room that evening.
"You'd best wipe that frown off your face,
young lady. Your choice was made when you decided to duel with Harry,"
said Ginny's mother patiently, setting down a load of clean clothes
next to a pair of empty wicker baskets.
"If the punishment
wasn't so completely unfair, I might be motivated to find the
silver-lining in this cloud of despair hanging over me," Ginny shot
back. The time she had spent unconscious from her fall had given her
just the space she had needed to formulate her arguments.
didn't even pause as she folded a pair of Ron's jeans and placed it in
a basket with a mounting pile of his clothes. "It's done, Ginny, and
there's nothing you or I can do about it."
Ginny racked her
brain for something to counter with, but came up blank. "What if
I...promise to serve a month's worth of detentions when I get back in
September? With Snape?" she added desperately.
finished laying out Ginny's dresses, and then turned to look at her
daughter. "Do you know what the original punishment was going to be?"
she asked with a piercing stare. "Do you know what Professors Snape and
McGonagall were agreed on doing to the both of you?"
Pinned by her mother's eyes, Ginny could only shake her head slowly from side to side.
"Harry was to have his lifetime Quidditch ban re-instated," she said drolly, "and you were to be expelled."
"WHAT?" yelled Ginny, shaken from her stupor. "How could they even think that that would be even remotely fair? We both hexed Snape..." Ginny paused, incredulous by what her mother was saying. "I can't believe that they'd expel me and let Harry back. Am I not good enough? Or is the bloody 'Boy-Who-Lived' too valuable to expel?"
her part, Molly let her yell, and then when the storm subsided, said,
"Actually, you're not too far from the truth. Harry is only safe when
he's in two places...the Dursleys'," she said with a shudder of
revulsion, "and Hogwarts. It's why he doesn't spend the entire summer
here. You, on the other hand, are expendable."
Ginny's face lost its color and she sat heavily in the chair opposite her mother.
we're obviously not going forward with that solution to your collective
spectacular display of rule-breaking," said Molly calmly, as Ginny
stared blankly at the brown carpet. "From what Dumbledore told me,
Firenze suggested to him that for reasons only understandable to a
Soothsaying Centaur, that plan of action would have an adverse impact
on the battle against Voldemort."
Ginny gave her mother a quizzical look. "What does that mean?"
don't know," Molly said, finally finishing with the laundry and sitting
down on the arm of the chair Ginny was sitting in. "I'm not sure if it
has something to do with you being at Hogwarts or with Harry being able
to play Quidditch, but I'm sure that you're going to see this thing
through to the end."
Ginny spent the rest of the
day sulking, her mind wandering from the injustice of her more than
unfair punishment to the cause of all her troubles: Harry Potter. It
wasn't that she hated him so much as she cursed the day he was born,
and as time went by, her anger towards him increased to such a level
that she could hardly think about anything else.
night came late and her dreams were filled with visions of Harry
suspended from the ceiling, covered in enraged Bowtruckles, or Harry
pinned between a Chimaera and a Blast-ended-Screwt at the bottom of a
Doxie infested canyon, or Harry naked and covered in chocolate....
awoke with a start and looked blearily around at her shadow-shrouded
room, trying to shake her head clear of that particular dream. She
hadn't thought about Harry that way in two years, and she wasn't about
to go soft on him when he had been the source of everything wrong in
her life for the past two weeks.
After an hour of fruitless
attempts at going back to sleep, she hastily dressed for the day and
made her way down to the kitchen, where her mother was already making
"Good morning, Ginny," her mother said brightly. "Have a good sleep?"
more like her brothers than the prim and proper girl her mother had
expected her to emulate, she grunted and sat wearily down at the table.
don't get snippy with me, young lady," her mum said, slipping a plate
of food onto the table in front of her. "It's not my fault you've
gotten into trouble."
Ginny had given up trying to argue with
her about the miscarriage of justice, instead focusing her ire on
Harry, who would be showing up that morning to start their first chore.
With a wicked gleam in her eye, she concentrated on eating her
"Oh, and Ginny, dear," said her mother with a
cheery voice that grated on Ginny's nerves. "When you've finished with
breakfast, go and fetch the paint and supplies in the living room. Take
them out to the shed for Harry so he can get started on it right when
he gets here."
"Sure thing, Mum," said Ginny with all the enthusiasm of a Crup about to have its tail chopped off.
finished with her eggs and toast, Ginny put her plate in the sink,
wiped down the table and even served her brother a plate of food before
finally deciding that it was time to move the painting supplies to the
Soon enough, Ginny heard the muffled sounds of Harry's voice from The Burrow's garden.
"Right," said her mum, appearing from the depths of the pantry where she had been sorting through the tinnedvegetables. "Let's get you and Harry going on that shed."
"Mum...if you don't mind," said Ginny with an exasperated sigh, "please don't talk about me and... him in the same sentence."
Ginny rolled her eyes and tried not to sound too pathetic. "Just don't. It's not healthy."
mother looked thoroughly confused, but Ginny didn't want to elaborate
that she'd likely hex the next person to lump them together in any
fashion, her mum included.
Following her mother out the door,
Ginny desperately tried to not look at Harry and as they closed in on
the shed, she kept herself just one step behind her mother, using her
large frame to hide behind.
"Hello, Remus," Mollysaid. Out of the corner of her eye, Ginny could see Harry shuffling nervously from one foot to the other as her formerprofessor and her mum traded pleasantries.
you get started, Harry," said Remus. "You and Ginny need to put these
on." She looked unwillingly at his outstretched hands and saw two
nondescript gold bracelets.
"I'm not wearing jewelry, Remus,"
said Harry a little testily. Ginny wasn't big on jewelry either and was
about to protest as well, but if Harry didn't want to wear one, she was
bound and determined to be as contrary to him as possible.
saying a word, she came around from her mother and grabbed one of the
bracelets, putting it on neatly with one hand. It was slightly cool to
the touch, despite it being almost forty degrees in the full sun. Its
smooth gold surface reflected the white puffy clouds and she thought
she might like a bracelet like this someday.
Remus chuckled, looking from Harry to Ginny. "Well, it looks like you two are already off to a good start this morning."
"Shove it, Remus," said Harry. Ginny gave the older wizard a baleful glare, but still said nothing.
holding his hand out, Remus looked pointedly at Harry without saying a
word. Harry hesitated, then grabbed the bracelet and half-heartedly
tried to put it on. Once he had snapped it on, a jolt of something shot
through her wrist where her own bracelet was touching her skin and it
started to heat up, just past warm, but not uncomfortably so. Harry
winced at the same time and they both looked askance at the werewolf.
see you've already discovered one of the effects of the charms on these
little beauties," he said with a wide grin. Ginny scratched at her
wrist, moving the metal around in an effort to get to where the shock
had left her skin tingling. "They have been charmed to accomplish
several things, but the most important to you is that they reflect how
the wearer of the other bracelet is feeling about you."
filled the air and Harry and Ginny's eyes automatically locked onto
each other. Harry squinted, a feral grin rising on his face. Ginny
mirrored his smile and let the evil thoughts she had been entertaining
come full force in her mind.
Harry's free hand was dancing
over his bracelet and she could tell he wasn't enjoying the effects of
her ill will. Soon however, her own wrist felt like it was on fire and
her concentration slipped as she yelped in surprise.
you've effectively demonstrated your mutual loathing, let me tell you
why we've chosen to use these little beauties." Remusfolded his
arms and sent Molly a knowing smirk, which she returned. "We've also
placed a monitoring charm on them, so whatever negative feelings you're
having for each other, we'll know about it. If your anger ever reaches
a level where either one of you is burned, Professor Dumbledore will
automatically suspend you from classes in September. Am I clear?"
Ginny and Harry sent disbelieving stares at both of the adults, but they reluctantly nodded.
"Thank you, Remus. You've been most helpful," Mollyplaced
a hand in her apron pocket and produced her wand. "You can come check
on Harry whenever you'd like, but I imagine he'll be finished around
"Very well, Molly. Good luck," Remus said just before Apparating away with a muted crack.
pointed her wand at the shed and muttered a spell, stripping the fading
and peeled paint from the wood. "Harry, your first task is to repaint
the shed. I've had Arthur purchaseseveral gallons of paint and
all the supplies you'll need, so I expect you to be finished before
dinner." She put her wand away and made to walk back to The Burrow.
"Oh, and Harry?" she said turning back to the two teens. "Two coats,
Harry nodded and watched as she walked away. Ginny
waited, knowing that he wouldn't be able to tolerate the silence for
much longer. Sure enough, after kicking the dirt around for a second,
he shoved his hands in his pockets and said, "Listen, Ginny. I don't
like this any more than you do, so let's just get this over with, all
Then to her eternal shock, he held out his hand to
her, bracelet dangling loosely on his wrist. She brought her hand up
partway and hesitated, wondering what trick he might be trying to play,
then decided that he couldn't do anything too drastic and grasped it
"Fine," she said, pulling her hand away after the
requisite single pump. "You better get busy if you want to be done
today. It took Bill and Charlie all day when they last did it ten years
Harry looked her up and down, then said, "You're
scrawny, but it looks like you can sling a brush well enough. Let's get
going." He turned to walk into the shed, but when she didn't follow,
turned back. "Well?"
"I'm not supposed to be helping you…directly," she said with a puzzled expression on her face.
"What?" said Harry, looking over her shoulder at The Burrow's closed door. "I thought…"
you thought wrong," said Ginny, shoving him towards the shed once
again. "You get started. I've got to get something from the house."
moved slowly through the door, then turned to look at her retreating
form. She followed his motions out of the corner of her eye and felt a
flash of something through the bracelet, but it was gone before she
could figure out what it was.
thought to himself as he turned back to the cans, brushes and rollers
that were stacked in the corner of the shed. It was hot outside, but
even hotter inside the dusty old shed and his brow was already wet with
perspiration. Deciding that if he had to do this by himself, he may as
well get on with it.
The paint was standard-quality exterior
latex that looked to be the same shade of brown as Ginny's eyes. Harry
started at the thought of Ginny's eyes: the ones that had been
contorted in fury last week and had looked at him with disdain this
morning. He shook off his musings and sorted the brushes from the
rollers and pulled out one of the large drop cloths.
outside with the large folded canvas, he took a second to appreciate
the fact that he wasn't at Privet Drive, he wasn't doing chores for the
Dursleys (though he was still working, it wasn't for people that hated
his very existence, despite what was going on with Ginny at the
moment). The clouds were large and puffy, hanging low in the sky as a
soft wind blew them eastward. He knew from past summers that these
conditions were ripe for afternoon thunderstorms and that if one blew
through tonight, his paint would be washed off the shed in a matter of
He unfolded the drop cloth and set it on the ground
around the south face of the shed, intent on painting it in the
relative cool of the morning so he could paint in the shade of the
north side when the afternoon sun made it unbearable to be anywhere
else. It was a heavy canvas, mottled with several colors of paint and
Harry had to wonder what other projects it had seen over the years at
Finally finished with his preparations, Harry
retrieved a can of paint, a roller, two brushes, and a tray. Lacking a
standard screwdriver, Harry pried open the lid with a large washer he
found on one of the shelves in the shed. By the time he had gotten the
lid off, however, the washer was bent and his thumb sore.
paint was fairly well mixed, but Harry used a brush to stir it even
further. One of the lessons he had learned from painting for the
Dursleys was that improperly mixed paint was the worst to fix once it
was on the wall. Harry poured enough to fill the tray to the right
level and loosely replaced the lid on the can. He was just about to dip
the brush he had used into the tray when he heard a noise from behind.
brought you some water…" said Ginny, holding out a plastic mug of
water, complete with ice and a flexible straw. In her other hand was a
covered pitcher filled, presumably, with more water and a pack over her
"Thanks," he said taking the glass grudgingly, still
a bit peeved that she wasn't going to be painting as well. After
draining half the glass in one gulp, he set it down on a nearby stump
and dipped the brush, dragging it over the side of the tray to pull off
He started on the trim on the corner of the shed,
pulling his brush over the newly stripped wood, careful to apply the
paint evenly, lest it crack and peel when it dried. The wood seemed to
soak up the paint, but he resisted the urge to lay on another coat
right away, knowing that this layer would need to dry, or someone would
be painting it again in less than a year.
As he continued to
cover the trim, he heard pages rustling next to him and a soft humming
sound. He looked over to where Ginny was now sitting underneath a small
pear tree, reading in a book. A spark of anger shot through him as he
tried to rationalize her laziness while he worked. Hadn't she broken
the rules just as egregiously as he had?
Ginny looked up sharply at that point and said, "What's got you mad at me now?"
blankly back at her, he wondered how she knew, then remembered the
bracelets. Once again cursing them and Remus for his slavery, Harry
tried to master his emotions, something that he was finding cause to do
more and more recently.
"Nothing," he said and turned back to the paint tray, noticing that his own bracelet wasn't so much as twitching.
didn't answer and soon the humming continued as he switched over to the
roller, covering the wooden planks with practiced efficiency. Her voice
was pleasant to his ears and it irked him when he caught himself
humming along. Ginny must have noticed too, because she giggled and he
noticed the metal of the bracelet turn cool. Even more disconcerting to
him was when she quickly refilled his glass as soon as it was empty;
returning to her book as soon as she had finished pouring.
sun was almost at its peak, bringing some relief from its rays as he
was now shadowed by the willow tree overhead. He had finished all the
trim, using a ladder from the shed to reach the highest places and the
south and west walls. Sweat was pouring off his head and his shirt
stuck wetly to his chest and back.
He had gone through two
pitchers of water and Ginny had refilled it both times without being
asked. Just when he was about to question her about it, she closed her
book, placed it in the pack at her feet and stood. "I'm going to be in
the house for a little while. You should have enough water to last you
until I come back." Hoisting her bag over her shoulder, she marched up
the small dirt path leading to The Burrow, humming the same melodious
tune, and disappeared behind the door.
walked up to The Burrow, she ran through the words of the song that had
been stuck in her head all morning, a small smile playing at the
corners of her mouth. She entered the kitchen and found her mother
working a ham with a long serrated knife, thin slices of the smoked
meat falling in folds onto the cutting board.
"The bread and
cheese are in the pantry," Molly said, tilting her head towards a pair
of large wooden doors. "You know where the juice is and I've got the
Ginny nodded and walked to the pantry, pushing the
doors apart, wincing as they caught on the stone floor, and a scraping
noise clawed at her ears. The bread was a fresh sourdough she had made
yesterday and as she hoisted it, she fingered the four rounds of
cheese, deciding on the sharp cheddar rather than the jack.
at the counter, Ginny pulled out several slices of bread from the bag
and placed them on the wooden surface, arranging them in three piles.
She made to grab the meat her mother had cut, but was slapped away with
a 'tut'. "This is for your brother and me. You'll have to cut what you
need for you and Harry on your own."
Frowning, Ginny took the
knife from her mother and began cutting the meat. Hers were much
thicker than her mother's perfectly curled slices, as Ginny could never
quite get the hang of how her mum was able to do it. After she had cut
enough for three hearty sandwiches, she put the meat back in cold
storage and threw away the bits that were too small to include in the
After cutting the cheese into large chunks, she crumbled
them onto one slice of bread in each pile and layered generous portions
of meat on top of that, before topping it off with a couple of
knife-fulls of mustard.
"Mum?" said Ginny, as she piled the sandwiches on a large plate.
mother looked up from where she was washing the utensils they had used
in preparing lunch. Her eyebrow rose in question and Ginny continued,
"How long did you fancy dad before he noticed you?"
stopped rinsing the knives and set them in the sink before she turned
off the tap and looked her daughter in the eye. "Does this have
anything to do with Harry?"
"Mum," said Ginny exasperatedly, "just answer my question, please?"
With a slight chuckle, Molly relented, "Two years."
mouth formed a small 'o' as she packed the sandwiches, flagons of juice
and crisps into a large basket. "I didn't know that."
"Yes, well," her mother said primly, "you never asked, did you?"
Ginny sent her a sharp look and folded her arms across her chest.
right, little one," said Molly, a far-away look appearing on her face.
"Arthur was cute and brave and utterly foolish, but I couldn't help but
love him from the time I was thirteen." A moment passed in which Ginny
imagined that her mother was reliving their courtship at Hogwarts. "He
never paid any attention to me," Molly said suddenly, "so I languished
in unrequited love until one day.... One day, your father had fallen
rather nastily from his broom during practice and had to be taken to
see the matron. Since I was the only one there not on the team, I
helped him walk to the Hospital Wing."
"So what happened?" Ginny asked, strangely interested in the story.
had just about given up on him at that point, you see," her mum
explained. "After the matron mended his injuries, I stayed by his bed
for a while. But I didn't want to linger because I knew it would be
easy for me to fall back into infatuation, you see. I didn't want that,
so when I finally mustered the nerve to leave, he grabbed my hand."
eyes teared up and she pulled a small hanky from her robes, dabbing at
her eyes with it. "He was so sweet, Ginny," she said, her voice thick
with emotion. "He took my hand and said, 'Molly Prewett, will you go to
Hogsmeade with me next weekend?'"
Ginny, expecting something
romantic or even cheesy, struggled to find the sweetness in her dad's
statement, but could only chalk it up to her mother's abnormally large
sense of sentimentality. "Well, that's wonderful, but I'd best get
these sandwiches to Harry before I find myself speaking French next
"Yes," said Molly dreamily. "Yes, I suppose you'd better."
said Ginny with a chuckle, as she toted the heavy basket with both
hands in front of her and pushed the garden door open with her bum.
"Sweet," she muttered under her breath. "Harry had better come up with
something better than that, if he expects me to..."
that?" asked Harry, suddenly appearing in front of her, face dripping
with sweat, hair glistening in the hot sun. Ginny realized that he
hadn't appeared there, but she had somehow managed to not take notice
that she was now next to the tree by the shed.
Ginny hastily. "I was just talking to myself." Then, before Harry could
press her further, she pulled a large blanket from the basket and
spread it out between them. Setting the wicker container in the center,
she sat and motioned for Harry to join her. "Let's eat, Harry. I'm
He sank to his bum, folding his legs underneath him,
took one of the serviettes from the stack Ginny had removed from the
basket and wiped his face with it. Ginny pulled out a flagon of pumpkin
juice and filled two mugs to the brim. Harry took one and drank
greedily from it, before sitting back against the trunk of the tree as
Ginny had done most of the morning. He sat like that for a moment, eyes
closed and she could tell that for the first time in a long while, he
was relaxed. Paint was covering his hands, shirt and there was even one
spot in his hair, but he didn't seem to have noticed.
pulling himself away the tree, Harry drained the mug, wiped his mouth
with a rolled-up sleeve and gestured at the basket. "Please tell me
there's food in there."
Ginny started, realizing that she had
been staring at him and cursing herself for it, hastily pulled out the
plate of sandwiches and thrust it at him. He grabbed one and took an
overly large bite before chewing thickly on it. Setting the plate down
between them, she took a sandwich herself and bit into it, relishing
the taste of sharp cheese and spicy mustard.
They sat there
eating for a while, neither one talking until after Harry had eaten
both of his sandwiches and drained almost all of the juice. As Ginny
began to clean up the mess, Harry said, "You know, Ginny, I was pretty
mad about this whole thing." She looked up at him as he gestured to the
shed and caught her eye. "I still am to a certain extent."
set her jaw under his scrutiny and closed the lid on the basket without
looking away from him. "It's not exactly a picnic for me, either,
"Well, it seems that you've got the easy part of the
deal," he said under his breath, but loud enough for her to hear him
"Easy?" she said, feeling her ire rise just a bit.
he said evenly, looking back to the half-painted shed. "All you've done
is fetch me water and make some sandwiches. That's hardly the same as
what I've got to do."
Ginny simply stared at Harry, mouth
agape, trying to find any way she could be misinterpreting what he was
saying. When nothing came to mind, she snapped her mouth closed and
opened it again to let loose the words that were pouring through her
mind. "Of all the pig-headed, egotistical, arrogant things to say!"
"What?" protested Harry, turning back to look at her livid face. "Don't tell me you've actually been doing something besides read and lounge under the tree?"
to restrain herself, she jumped to her feet and roughly snatched the
basket by its handle. "I'll have you know, Harry Potter," she said,
seething, "that the universe doesn't revolve around your gigantic head and that I wasn't born to serve you."
She whirled on her feet and stomped up the path back to The Burrow, intent on hexing his name in the safety of her room.
mother was waiting for her however, hovering around the entrance to the
garden. A faint clinking sound chimed in the background, like a small
set of bells. "What have you done now, Ginny?" asked her mother
She set the basket down on the ground by the now
closed door. Ginny took a deep breath to steady her nerves and said,
"Nothing. Why would you think that something was the matter?"
clinking stopped and Mrs. Weasley pointed over her shoulder to
something on the secretary. "Remus told you we would be monitoring the
bracelets, so there's no use lying to me about it."
another curse at the wretched gold jewelry on her wrist, she glared at
her mother and walked over to where she had been pointing. Ginny
figured that she might as well know what magical object was snitching
Underneath the small drawers of the top portion of the
secretary sat a handsome wooden clock. Its main face seemed to resemble
a standard Muggle clock, showing the correct time, one fourteen. Set
below the large hands however, two smaller dials were inlaid into the
face. On the left was a dial with an ornate script H, whose needle was
pointing somewhere just to the right of the middle, towards the
red-colored section, but not touching that color. The other dial had an
equally ornate G embedded in it, its needle pointing about a third of
the way from center, just inside the border of the red coloring.
"So we're not allowed to fight at all?" asked Ginny, turning her attention back to her mother.
"No," said her mum sternly. "You're not."
her fists, Ginny struggled to maintain an even tone in her voice. It
wouldn't do Ginny any good to get her mother upset with her again.
"That's asking an awful lot, don't you think?"
over to the clock and pointed at Harry's neutral expression. "His
hasn't so much as twitched since this morning. Why can he control his
temper around you but you can't be with him for ten minutes without
blowing your top?"
Still working hard to hold in her emotions, Ginny said, "It's just...easier to be mad at him."
Her mum dropped her stony exterior and put her hands on Ginny's shoulders. After a moment, she said, "Easier than what?"
Ginny squeezed her eyes shut tight, willing herself to not break down. "I...can't..."
you can, sweetheart." Her mother hadn't been sympathetic with her in
almost four years and Ginny had a hard time accepting it now.
"It's..." She pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat heavily into it. "It's easier than liking him."
"Ah." Molly walked over to the table and sat opposite Ginny. "Is Harry that repulsive?"
"Well," she hesitated, considering the question carefully. "It's not that he's repulsive, so much as he's insufferable."
Her mother nodded and Ginny continued. "He's so blind to what's happening right in front of him. I mean, his two best friends have been wanting to snog each other for a year,
and he can't even wrap his little mind around it." Ginny slammed her
fist down on the table to emphasize her point, yet her mother still
didn't interrupt. "So how can I expect him to pay little ol' me any
Molly smiled and patted her hand. "Let's talk a little bit about that, shall we?"
sat back against the tree and pushed the hot bracelet around his wrist,
trying to figure out what exactly had gone wrong. As far as he was
concerned, Ginny was, for lack of a better word, unstable, and tended
to lose control at the oddest moments. Wasn't it true that he had all
the hard work and she hadn't had a lick of punishment except to torment
him? What was wrong with pointing that out to her? She should feel
lucky she doesn't have to paint and do whatever else was in store for
him over the summer.
Shrugging it off, Harry pushed himself up
from the ground, stomach uncomfortably full, legs and arms stiff from
the rest they'd enjoyed, and walked back to the shed. As he pulled out
the painting supplies from the shed, his bracelet started to vibrate,
slowly at first, but increasing in intensity until he could do nothing
but stare at it. Fighting an odd urge to check on Ginny, he put his
mind back to the task at hand and it eventually went away.
an hour, he'd begun working on the second coat of paint and was
starting to feel the effects of the shade from the pines on the West
side of the garden. His water had been empty for a while now, and he
was starting to think he wouldn't be seeing Ginny again that day when
she appeared from around the corner of the shed.
"Hi," she said quietly, staring at his shoes. "I brought some more water for you."
held a large pitcher in her hand, water droplets condensing on the cold
glass near the ice-filled rim. "That looks great," he said, wiping the
sweat on his forehead with an automatic motion. He vaguely registered
that that part of his shirt was now quite dirty and wet.
let her re-fill his mug and drained it in two large gulps. Holding it
out for more, he noticed a small grin curving on her lips as she
concentrated on pouring his water.
"Thanks," he said as he took a smaller drink this time.
"My pleasure," she said, now looking up at him through her eyelashes.
stared dumbly at her for a moment, trying to figure out where the
raging temper had gone and if this was in fact Ginny Weasley in front
of him. "Listen," he said, breaking out of his reverie, "I need to
apologize for what happened at lunch...." She opened her mouth to
interrupt, but Harry plowed on. "No... really. I don't know what it was
that I did, but I'm sorry."
Her hand fell slowly to her side
and her grin turned into a smile. "Thank you, Harry," she said
demurely. "That's really sweet of you."
The moment lingered on
for a few seconds and Harry could have sworn that the bracelet on his
wrist had become quite cool, but brushed it off as a trick of the mind.
He cleared his throat and motioned to the shed. "You want to sit.…? I
mean," he stammered awkwardly before finding a rhythm. "I could use
someone to talk with while I paint."
She smiled again, but
this time it was different and Harry was annoyed to discover that his
heart had been beating quite loudly in his chest.
finished the second coat of trim and moved on to the south side of the
shed, Ginny followed him with a chair she had purloined from inside the
freshly painted building. Their conversation flowed from one topic to
the next and Harry actually found himself liking his red-headed
companion more than he thought possible since their encounter last week.
when Cho finally realized it was a feint, I was already halfway to the
Snitch," Ginny said, finishing her version of the final match of last
season. Her face was bright and happy with the relived memory and Harry
found her mood contagious. So much so that he had hardly realized he
was nearly finished painting.
Ginny left to fetch supper and
Harry took a moment to appreciate the scenery before finishing his job.
The sun had set, lighting the clouds above them with brilliant oranges
and reds that illuminated the garden and surrounding environs with an
Pushing the roller over the last portion of the
east wall with a tired but contented sigh, he stepped down from his
ladder and surveyed his work. The new paint looked decidedly better and
though his muscles ached and his eyes stung with sweat, he couldn't
help but feel a surge of satisfaction at completing his task.
arrived with another basket of food and set it down when she noticed
that Harry was all but finished, with only the cleaning-up left.
paint was almost totally used; save for a single can that lay open at
his feet. He cleaned the rollers and brushes with a nearby hosepipe
while Ginny rolled up the drop cloths. Pushing the lid on the last
paint can, Harry felt a sharp pain from his hand. Wincing, he looked at
his skin and was surprised to notice a large blister forming along the
curve of his palm and he traced it gingerly with a finger.
his distress, Ginny came over to him and pulled on his fingers until
she could see what he was looking at. Sucking in a breath, she said,
"That's a good one, Harry."
He leaned a shoulder on the now
dry shed wall and watched as she pulled her wand from her robes and
pointed it at his hand. "Um, Ginny?" he asked, trying to draw his hand
away from hers. "Won't you..."
Not breaking eye contact with
his hand, she pulled more firmly on it to prevent his escape. "Hold
still, Harry," she said somewhat peevishly and poked at the blister
with the tip of her wand.
"But what about the Improper Use of Magic Office?" he said, wincing as her wand hit a particularly sensitive spot.
ignored him and muttered a charm under her breath. A faint blue light
issued from her wand, enveloping his hand and he felt the stinging
sensation instantly melt away, replaced with a dull, soothing warmth.
"They're not monitoring The Burrow," she said, finally looking up at
him. There was a look akin to concern in her eyes and it struck Harry
somewhat more than it should have.
"Why... not?" he asked simply.
released his hand slowly and took a step back, leaning against the shed
in a mirror image of Harry. "Something to do with your being here, I'm
sure," she said evasively.
With my being here? thought Harry. Did Dumbledore convince old Madam Hopkirk to go easy on me this summer?
"Well," Ginny said a moment later, bringing Harry from his thoughts. "I reckon we'd better eat and then get you home?"
sat and ate in silence; Harry leaning against the shed, Ginny making
sure his cup was never empty. When they had put their dishes away,
Harry slowly stood and stretched his tired back.
be here in a minute or two," she said smiling. "We'd better get
inside." Ginny then turned on her heel and walked quickly up the
darkened path, the empty pitcher and mugs clinking slightly as she
Nodding his head numbly, Harry picked up the basket
and followed her, not quite certain what he should think about his
first day working at The Burrow. He waited in the cool kitchen for
Remus to show up with the Portkey, vaguely looking for Ginny, who was
nowhere to be seen.
As his body relaxed, a great wave of
exhaustion washed over him and he scarcely nodded to Remus when he
Apparated in, touching the old phone receiver with a tired finger and
straining to keep his eyes open as they were pulled to Little Whinging.
He felt strong arms help him up the stairs and put him in bed and as
Harry kicked off his shoes, he heard Remus whisper, "Good night,"
before Harry pulled a sheet over his dirty clothes and at long last,
let sleep overcome him.
A/N: Kudos to Kokopelli for
prompting me (and writing one of the lines) for the final scene with
Molly and Ginny before Harry arrived at the Burrow. Firenze
wouldn't have made it into the story at all if it hadn't been for him.
Props also to Kokopelli, Sherry and Chi for the beta work. Thank