The following morning, Harry awoke to the sensation of someone
shaking his shoulder. Trying to ignore the interruption to his sleep,
hoping that it would simply go away, Harry snuggled deeper into his
pillow and three words involuntarily escaped his lips: "Not now, Ginny."
shaking stopped for a moment and Harry's hazy brain briefly wondered if
he had dreamt it. Then the shaking returned, but with more vehemence.
came a harsh voice. Had he been more rational, Harry might have
detected the hint of a laugh behind the harshness. "Wake up."
asked Harry, finally opening his eyes to see a blurry form hovering
over him. "Whattimeissit?" He reached blindly for his glasses until he
felt them shoved into his hands.
"It's time to go to work, young man."
his spectacles into place, the face of Remus Lupin appeared in front of
him. Harry sat up, but the muscles in his shoulders and arms protested
at the motion. "Ow," he said as he worked his fingers by opening and
closing his hands. "That smarts."
"As it should," said Remus. "Now get up. You've got five minutes to shower and dress before we leave."
right, all right," said Harry as he stood shakily and shuffled towards
the loo. "Could you get me some clothes to wear while you're here?" he
asked, half-heartedly pulling his dirty shirt over his head and
throwing it at Remus' feet. "These are about done for."
before he disappeared into the loo, he saw Remus pushing his shirt with
the toe of one shoe as the older man muttered, "I'll say."
After a hasty shower and bite of toast, Harry and Remus arrived in the Burrow's garden with a small pop.
Remus pocketed the Portkey and walked quickly up to the kitchen door
while Harry looked around at the grounds, still rubbing his aching
muscles. The sun was just cresting over the trees to the east and the
slight breeze brought a welcome chill to Harry's exposed arms. Looks like rain, thought Harry as he looked at the shed in the distance with a renewed air of accomplishment.
as Harry was beginning to wonder what the day would hold for him, the
door opened again, but instead of Remus Lupin, it was Ginny who
appeared in the doorway. She paused, taking in Harry's stance as he
rubbed his still damp hair, then walked purposefully towards him and
took hold of his arm.
"Let's go," she said softly as she pulled him down the familiar path to the shed.
"Is there something the matter?" he asked as they opened the side door and walked inside. "You seem a little tense."
smell of drying paint mingled with dust and oil assaulted his nose.
Ginny sat on a nearby, overturned bucket and sighed, putting her head
in her hands. "It's...nothing," she said in a strained voice.
smirked and touched his bracelet to check the temperature. It was
neither cold nor hot, so he reckoned he was safe for a bit. Pulling
himself onto a nearby workbench, he pushed the stray bits of wood,
metal and tools off to the side and sat with his elbows on his knees,
ignoring the twinges of pain in his shoulders and back. "If it was
nothing, you wouldn't be bothered by it," he said sagely.
Ginny looked up at him with a start, then her face softened and she smiled. "Since when did you become sensitive?" she asked.
shrugged and looked at the piles of broken appliances, motors, and
electrical plugs that littered the shed's interior. "It's a recent
addition," he muttered, trying to sound casual.
Risking a glance at Ginny, he saw her smirking at him and she said, "Ron's being a git."
"Nothing new there," said Harry smoothly.
but now he's about ready to qualify for the national git team," she
retorted, standing up and walking over to a stack of phonograph records
on the shelf next to Harry's head. Fingering them lightly, she
continued, "It's about Dean. He thinks I'm going out with him and won't
let me have a minute's peace over it."
"Ah," said Harry, trying to mask his face with neutrality. "So, you're not going out with Dean then?"
Ginny gave him a quizzical glance, the curve of her lips never dwindling. "No, Harry. I only told Ron that to watch him squirm."
Harry exhaled, suddenly deprived of oxygen, then blurted, "That's a relief."
"Sorry?" she asked and Harry noticed out of the corner of his eye that she had turned to face him, hands folded in front of her.
– Oh, never mind," said Harry quickly, pushing himself off the counter
and walking towards the door. "What chore have I got on my list today,
When Ginny didn't immediately say anything, Harry
turned back around to meet her stare. The light coming through the open
door grew and then alternated with the shadows of the passing clouds.
"Weeds," said Ginny simply, not taking her eyes off
Harry. Her scrutiny was just a little unnerving and Harry had to look
anywhere but at her face. "You've got to weed the flower beds today."
"All right," said Harry, strangely relieved. "Do I need anything special? Tools, gloves...that sort of thing?"
breaking eye contact, Ginny searched around for two buckets that had
several different-sized shovels, gloves and other things in them and
handed them to Harry. "Here."
Harry grabbed the handles and motioned with his head to the door. "Shall we?"
Ginny walked out into the sunlight and led Harry to the largest bed on
the property, scattering two Gnomes who seemed to be playing hide and
seek. The flowers were in various states of bloom and the riot of
colour both assaulted Harry's senses and cheered his weary mind. Bees
buzzed heavily as they flew from the mums and begonias to the hyacinths
and roses. Still, as beautiful as it was, Harry could sense that
something was slightly amiss.
"Don't think Mum's gone all soft
on you, Harry," Ginny said, wading carefully into a patch of
innocent-looking border dressing. "Some of the plants in here can take
a finger off...or worse," she said as a creeping vine started to curl
around her ankle before she batted it away with her wand.
cautiously followed her around the house until they were underneath the
highest section, where Ron's room and the attic protruded out of the
roof at an odd angle, casting a shadow around their feet. There were
several large rose bushes here, climbing a dilapidated trellis. As he
eyed the pinks and reds, one of the blooms jumped into the air and
snatched an insect with a sharp snap.
"Biting rose bushes," explained Ginny. Then, pointing to the base of the plant, said, "See those weeds and clumps of grass?"
Harry nodded, still gripping the handles of the buckets firmly.
"Start with those and then we'll move on to the mums over by the downspout."
placed the buckets on a bare spot of ground and pulled on a large pair
of severe-looking gloves. "I'm glad I wore jeans today," he said to
himself in a low voice, before carefully approaching the roses, shovel
The roses seemed to be ignoring him, taking more nips
at passing insects, so Harry turned his attention to the largest weed.
He sank his small hand shovel into the soil just in front of the
sprawling plant and levered the handle, bringing the whole weed up and
out of the rich earth. Grabbing the top of the plant with his glove, he
knocked the roots against the shovel's blade until the soil fell back
into the hole he had created. Then, he tossed the weed in a shallow arc
until it hit the rim of the empty bucket and fell in.
worked like that for a while, finding a rhythm that allowed him to
spend the least amount of time next to the roses. Soon, the bucket was
full and the sun had crept over the roof, blazing down upon them. Ginny
took the bucket, humming the same tune as she had been yesterday and
came back with it empty; where she had disposed of the weeds, Harry
"Come here," she said, pulling out her wand after setting the bucket down beside him.
Harry raised an eyebrow after straightening up. "You're not going to hex me are you?"
be stupid," she said with a roll of her eyes. "I'd never get away with
it while I'm wearing this blasted bracelet. It's just a sunscreen
charm. See?" She proceeded to wave her wand over her arms and face, a
faint orange glow radiating from its tip.
When she didn't
break out into boils, Harry nodded his head. "All right." Ginny stepped
over to him and muttered the incantation. A pleasantly cool breeze
washed over his skin where her wand was pointed and Harry thought it
might be a good idea to learn that spell, if only to stay cool in the
Ginny stopped after what seemed a long while, but
didn't move away immediately. "Thanks," said Harry quietly. "It was
Harry's bracelet gave a particularly cold twinge and he wondered if it
might be malfunctioning, or if Ginny's sunscreen charm was interacting
with it somehow.
They stared at each other for a second longer
before a large wasp buzzed between them. Ginny yelped and staggered
backwards while Harry leaned back to give it room to fly away, knowing
that trying to shoo it would only aggravate the normally aggressive
insect. Catching her eye again, the strange tension that had been there
was lost and they both broke out into giggles.
With the roses
weeded and Harry blissfully bite-free, he moved over to the downspout
and the much tamer-looking mums. Ginny followed, carrying the empty
bucket, and Harry settled down to start pulling on the grass that was
growing in between the clusters of pink and yellow flowers. Whatever
tune Ginny had been humming was sort of catchy and Harry found himself
humming along with her from time to time.
Ginny stood all of a
sudden and said, "I'm going to go inside for a bit." She backed away
awkwardly and almost tripped on a low shrub, throwing out her hands