A/N: This was written for the November Challenge at catchmysnitch on Live Journal.
Thanks to TDU for the beta.
The ear-shattering bang the Knight Bus emitted as it pulled away from the grotty Liverpool dock was not quite loud enough to express the explosive anger that was building inside of Ginny. If Gwenog hadn’t come along to take over the Chasers’ practice, Ginny would have hexed Lorna and the rest of her teammates, and then maybe this burning need to do something would have gone away by now.
But she hadn’t hexed Lorna. She had continued with practice, throwing the Quaffle as hard as she could while still nursing her injured shoulder and her grievances against these witches — these spoiled athletes — who had made her first week of training as a Harpy a living hell.
Her jaw hurt from grinding her teeth. Somehow she had to relax. She took a deep breath and looked out the window at a long blue loch. They seemed to be in Scotland, which was a reasonable guess since the bus had been traveling steadily north since it had picked her up from the training pitch in Wales.
This did not improve her mood.
How much longer? She looked at her mud-smeared watch and realized two things: she had only been on the bus for ten minutes, and she must look like something a Kneazle had dragged in. Why hadn’t she stopped to at least change out of her filthy uniform?
Taking out her wand and bracing her feet on the swaying floor, she surreptitiously cast a Cleaning Charm. Magic was forbidden on the Knight Bus, but the other passengers were too busy hanging on for dear life to notice. Hopefully the bus wouldn’t be stopping at every loch in Scotland before heading south.
When she bent over to knock the worst of the mud off her shoes, the bus lurched and she fell to the floor, landing on her side. The pain from her bruised shoulder magnified and then exploded until there was nothing left for her to do except writhe on the floor in silent agony. Once the pain subsided to a mere throbbing ache, angry tears filled her eyes. I should have hexed Lorna. Hexed them all.
“Grimmauld Place, London,” the driver called.
Ginny scrambled to her feet feeling the first twinge of happiness. They were in London already?
“Miss Ginny Weasley?” Kreacher squawked when he answered the door.
“Hello, Kreacher.” She suddenly thought to smooth her hair. “Is Harry here?”
“Master is not here,” Kreacher answered, bending low. “Master works late at the Ministry. Master has not laughed since Miss Ginny Weasley left for Harpies training.”
“I haven’t either, Kreacher.” To her horror, the last part came out as a sob.
“Miss Ginny Weasley must sit down,” Kreacher said in alarm. “Kreacher will call Master to come home. Then Master will laugh again and Miss Ginny Weasley will stop crying.”
“I’m not crying,” she retorted — and then ruined it by sniffing.
“Kreacher begs Miss Ginny Weasley’s pardon. Kreacher’s eyes are old and did not see Miss Ginny Weasley’s smile.”
Ginny’s lips twitched in spite of her anger. “You’re such a brat.”
“Kreacher does not argue with Miss Ginny Weasley,” he said smugly as he ushered her into the drawing room.
Harry Apparated into the foyer before she could take the first sip of the tea Kreacher had pressed upon her. “Ginny?” he asked anxiously, as he hurried to join her on the sofa.
For the first time that afternoon, Ginny wondered if she had done the right thing in hopping on the Knight Bus and seeking out Harry. He looked so worried — like he was afraid something truly awful had happened. Now that she was back in a friendly, familiar place with the person she loved the most at her side, she realized that maybe she had been overreacting. “I —” She stared at him, at a loss for words. Whatever she said, she was going to sound ridiculous and immature.
“Ginny, tell me.” His eyes darkened when he touched her jaw. “What happened?”
She had forgotten about the bruise on her face. She sighed. “That’s compliments of Eleanor Clagg, who didn’t move up from the reserve team because of me. She said she hadn’t meant for the Quaffle to hit me while I was looking the other way.”
Harry frowned. “The Harpies are living up to their name, are they?”
Now that he had asked that question, her anger returned full force. “Ever since Gwenog announced I was going to be on the Chasing team for the first match next month, it’s been hell.”
He raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, no one will talk to me at meal times or in our sleeping quarters,” she began. “Not that I’m surprised. They’re a tight-knit group and I’m the only new player this year. I can accept that — but I don’t like having to watch my back at practice. Today Lorna Jones deliberately hit a Bludger at my shoulder and almost knocked me off my broom. It was all I could do to stay in the air.”
”Lorna Jones?” He shook his head. “Are you sure? She had a terrible aim last year — maybe it was just a mistake.”
She couldn’t believe Harry wasn’t sticking up for her. “Right.” She stood up. “A mistake.” Heat rushed to her face. “It was a mistake for me to come here.” She turned on her heel. “I’ll just —”
“Ginny —” As she reached the foyer, he grabbed her left arm and she hissed in pain. He immediately dropped her arm. “Ginny, are you —?”
“Just leave me alone.” In vain, she tried to find her cloak on the hat stand next to the door. The tears in her eyes were impeding her progress.
“Oh, no.” He blocked the door with his foot. “You’re not leaving like this.”
“Don’t make me hex you,” she snarled. “I’ve been wanting to hex someone all day — all week, as a matter of fact — “
“Take your best shot,” he said calmly, taking out his wand.
“Go on — hex me. You’re in a filthy mood. You’ve been spoiling for a fight ever since I walked in the drawing room —”
Before he could finish his sentence she had flicked a Stunning Spell at him, but he was faster and had his Shield Charm in place before her hex could reach him.
Incensed, she shot another Stunner, which he easily deflected. Now she was really angry — so angry that she couldn’t remember any other spell but the Cleaning Charm she had used on her muddy Quidditch robes.
Harry laughed when he heard it.
The blood was pounding her ears as she tried to plait his hair, bind a book, and unlock a door. All she managed to do was fill the entryway with a bright haze of light and plaster dust as her spells bounced off the old walls.
“Miss Ginny Weasley!” Kreacher’s squeals finally brought her back to her senses. “Hex Kreacher, not the Master! Mistress Black always hexed Kreacher.”
Shocked at his words, Ginny lowered her wand, and covered her mouth with her free hand. What had she done? She had traveled all the way on the Knight Bus to see Harry and here she was trying to hex him and tearing up the walls of his house in the process. “Sor—” Mortified, she started to cry.
“Ginny…” Harry stood in front of her, his wand held loosely in his hand.
“Hex Kreacher!” the house-elf cried, tugging on her Quidditch robes.
“Ginny doesn’t want to hex you, Kreacher,” Harry said. “Er — why don’t you mend the walls whilst we’re in the drawing room?”
“Kreacher can mend walls,” he answered brightly, obviously glad to be given a task that didn’t involve crazy Miss Ginny Weasley.
“You do that,” Harry said, propelling Ginny into the drawing room with his hand on the small of her back.
Once the door was closed, she stopped in the middle of the room and wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said, looking at the faded design in the carpet. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“I told you to hex me, remember?”
He didn’t sound too annoyed, so she raised her eyes to meet his gaze. “Harry — “ she began helplessly.
“No it’s not.” She scrubbed her eyes. “I’m so stupid! I shouldn’t have left training camp just to throw a temper tantrum. Now I’ll be in trouble — maybe even thrown off the team.”
“I doubt it.” He tentatively touched her arm. “You’re their best hope for goal scoring this season.”
She snorted. “If my own team doesn’t try to kill me in the process.”
His silence told her she was being overdramatic. Ashamed, she bit her lip and looked away.
“Look, I don’t blame you for being upset,” he said. “It sounds like an awful week. So what did Gwenog say when you told her about these injuries and messed up practices?”
“I didn’t tell her.”
“Why not?” he asked with exaggerated patience.
“Because I’m supposed to be able to handle this.” She hugged herself. “Alone. This is professional Quidditch.”
She looked at him in surprise.
“Not alone,” he explained. “You’re on a team. They work with you, and you work with them. You have been working with them, right?”
He had a point — but that didn’t make it any easier to accept that she had brought part of the situation upon herself. “I suppose I didn’t have to make it so hard for Eleanor to catch my passes,” she finally mumbled.
“Let’s see where that Bludger hit you,” he said, leading her to the sofa again.
He wasn’t going to overanalyze the situation, and for that, Ginny was grateful. “You always want my shirt off,” she said as she unbuttoned her uniform. “Why is that?”
He laughed. “Must be a strange kink of —” He sucked in his breath when he saw her shoulder. “You are black and blue. No wonder you wanted to hex her.”
“Finally, some sympathy,” she grumbled, not at all put out since Harry dropped a kiss on the uninjured portion of her back and made soothing noises before he called for Kreacher.
Kreacher bustled in with a proud expression on his face. “Kreacher has repaired the walls, except where the wallpaper is bound into a book — “
“Do we have any dittany?” Harry interrupted. “Ginny needs it for her shoulder.”
“Master has dittany. Kreacher offers it every time Master is injured.”
Ginny snorted in amusement. She could easily imagine Harry’s stubborn refusal to have first aid from a house-elf.
“This time I actually want it,” Harry said impatiently.
Kreacher smirked at him, as if savoring a victory.
Kreacher bowed, Disapparated, and reappeared with the dittany in a matter of seconds.
“That feels so much better,” she whispered as Harry rubbed gentle circles of the soothing paste on her injured shoulder.
He looked her over critically and then daubed some of the paste on her jaw. “Now you look like my Ginny.” He kissed her.
She touched her forehead to his and hooked her arms around his neck. “Your Ginny without her shirt on and not hexing you.”
“I do like this Ginny,” he replied with a smile and then another kiss.
“Sorry, for trying to hex you,” she murmured between kisses as he made quick work of her bra clasp.
“I came that close to having my hair plaited,” he said, running his hands over her breasts. “Good thing I’ve been practicing my Shield Charms.”
“Harry.” He was kissing his way down her neck and soon she was going to forget that she was absent from training camp without leave. “I didn’t come here for a quickie.”
“Come for the hexing and stay for the quickie,” he said as he lowered her onto the sofa.
She laughed. “I should go back now. If I show up for dinner, I think all will be forgiven.”
“This won’t take long,” he promised as he pulled off his shirt.
“Now there’s a glowing advert,” she scoffed. But she helped him with the button on his jeans.
“It’s been a whole week —what do you expect?” he whispered, pulling her close so she could feel what a week apart had done to him.
When she had stormed off the pitch, she certainly hadn’t expected the afternoon to end with such an intense, pleasurable encounter — or with a fresh perspective of her situation. Thank goodness she had Harry and that she could seek him out whenever she needed him. “I should take the Knight Bus more often,” she said, kicking off the rest of her uniform.
“Damn right you should,” he replied, pulling her on top of him.
A bright silver light woke Ginny out of a sound sleep. “Oh!” She covered her eyes as soon as she opened them.
“Ginny? I’m outside.”
It sounded like Harry’s voice — but how? She squinted and finally realized that it was Harry’s stag Patronus standing over her bed that was blinding her.
“Ginny? I’m outside,” the Patronus repeated.
It was Harry’s Patronus and Harry’s voice all right. But something wasn’t right.
“Ginny? I’m outside.” The words were slurred… as if Harry was drunk. She quickly slipped on her dressing gown and followed the Patronus. She had no idea what a drunken deer looked like, but this stag did not act sober — especially when it bumped its antlers trying to find the door out of her room.
Harry was indeed outside — standing in the snow with his cloak unfastened and his hair more rumpled than usual.
“Harry,” she called as loudly as she dared. “Come in — right now — it’s freezing out here.”
“Ginny.” He swayed and then stumbled to her. In the bright moonlight she could see his expression clearly. He was looking at her like she wasn’t quite real. “Ginny,” he repeated. He reached out as if to touch her face, but then dropped his hand in confusion at the last minute.
She didn’t understand the longing on his face or the confusion, but she was more concerned with the negative effects of standing out in the cold. She grabbed his arm and roughly pulled him inside. “My roommate went home for the weekend, so I can sneak you in,” she whispered. “But Mrs. Jones is still here, though, and she’ll have kittens if she finds a man in her boarding house.”
She hoped the Silencing Charms she cast as they made their way down the narrow corridor to her room would muffle the sound of Harry’s clumsy footsteps and his repeated sighing of her name.
Harry’s Patronus was starting to fade, and Ginny was glad of it. The stag’s mournful gaze was getting on her nerves.
Once in her room, she pulled off Harry’s cloak and pushed him by the shoulders on to her bed. “Sit.”
He obeyed, never taking his eyes off of her.
After she cast more Silencing Charms and lit a torch, she sat next to him on the bed. “Now what’s going on?” she asked, chaffing his cold hands between her warm ones.
At her touch he shuddered. “Oh, God, you are real.”
“Harry…” Not knowing what else to do, she put her arms around him.
He buried his face in her neck. His nose was cold.
“What happened? How did you get here?”
“Took the Knight Bus,” he mumbled into her shoulder. “You should never drink and Apparate.”
She giggled. He was quoting verbatim from the wireless’s public service announcement. “No, I suppose not.”
“Take the Knight Bus instead.” He pulled away and stared at her — his eyes were very bright, almost feverish, in the torchlight. “So that’s what I did.”
“Harry, what did you do before you got on the Knight Bus?”
“Oh.” He thought for a moment. “I drank Firewhiskey.”
“I guessed that!” Now she was becoming impatient. “Before you drank — what happened?”
His eyes clouded. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well, you’d better talk about it,” she snapped. “You must have something to say if you bothered to take a trip on the Knight Bus just to wake me out of a sound sleep.”
“You’re angry.” He sounded like Luna Lovegood at her most annoying.
“I am. Now tell me.”
“You’re angry, but not dead.”
“No, I’m not dead — but you will be if you don’t get to the point.”
He smiled. “I’ve already been dead. It’s like King’s Cross if you want to know.”
“I wonder if that girl went there — or if hers was some place different?”
“What are you talking about?” she put both her hands on his shoulders. “Who is this dead girl?”
He stared at her and then his eyes — his beautiful, liquid green eyes — filled with tears. “Not you — she wasn’t you.”
“Harry,” she said helplessly, holding him close. “What happened?”
He held her tightly and they swayed back and forth. The rocking motion seemed to comfort him and eventually he pulled away and started talking. “We were called this morning to investigate suspected Dark Magic. A little girl with red hair was attacked by a large snake — and she died.” He clamped his mouth shut.
“How awful.” Harry saw so many horrible things as an Auror — but a death by snakebite didn’t sound as gruesome as some of the other death scenes he had investigated. “Er —” She hesitated. How much should she probe into this tonight? Harry looked pale and tired and so very sad. “Why don’t you lie down?” she coaxed. “And I’ll lie down next to you. Then you can sleep.”
“Don’t wanna sleep,” he mumbled as his dark head hit the white pillow and he turned on his side towards the wall. “Want to know you’re all right.”
“I’m all right.” She slid into bed next to him and draped her arm and her leg over him.
“What if I hadn’t saved you before Riddle got you?” he whispered to the wall. “Or the Basilisk? You’d be dead — like that girl — so cold and white.”
“Harry,” she crooned into his ear. “You did save me. You did everything right.”
“Not this time,” he said. “We should have known those people had Dark creatures. We were called there the week before and we found nothing.”
Now the truth came out. He thought it was his fault.
“Harry, if you didn’t find the snake when you searched, it probably wasn’t there. Either they hadn’t brought it into the country at that point or they hid it or —”
Harry was snoring. His guilt, along with a colossal headache, would be with him in the morning — but then, so would she. Thank goodness, he had come to her. She moved the fingers of her left hand together so she could feel her engagement ring. Sometimes it felt like a dream — that they were getting married — soon — in two weeks and would never be apart again. But then there were dreams that weren’t so pleasant, and endings that weren’t so happy… She shivered and moved closer to Harry, for once feeling grateful for the repetitious public service announcements on the wireless.
“Lily?” Ginny gasped when she opened the front door at midnight to find her bedraggled daughter in a ripped cloak standing on the front step. “What on earth?”
“Mum.” Even though she was thirteen and far too conscious of her image to embrace her mother in public, Lily launched herself into Ginny’s arms with a muffled wail.
Ginny automatically put her arms around Lily and crooned some nonsense words, all the while listening to her sobs. Years of parenting had taught her that not all crying was alike. These were frightened tears — not tears of pain, thank heavens. “Okay, calm down,” she said, pulling away. “We’ll have some tea and you can tell me how you got here and why you’re not at school.”
Lily hung back. “Is Dad home? He’s going to kill me.”
Her brown eyes were enormous in her thin, pale face. Lily might have her red hair, but Ginny was always struck by how her facial expressions were so like Harry’s. This one was Harry’s I’m-in-too-deep face, and it wrung her heart, even though she doubted that Lily was in the same sort of trouble Harry got into. “No,” she answered evenly. “Dad was called out — there was some sort of party that got out of hand in Hogsmeade.”
Ginny rounded on her. “Were you there? They said there was quite a crowd — drinking and —” She snapped her mouth shut. Lily wasn’t going to tell her anything if she was doing all the yelling. Besides, Lily hadn’t smelled like alcohol when she hugged her.
“I was there, Mum,” Lily said in a small voice, following her mother into the cozy kitchen.
Seraphena, their ginger cat, meowed a greeting.
Ginny watched Lily drop to her knees to cuddle the cat. She looked about half her age with her hair in a tangled ponytail.
Ginny decided to warm some milk, rather than keep Lily up with tea.
Lily accepted the ‘baby’ drink without demur.
“All right. Spill it. What happened tonight?”
Lily put her mug down on the table and cupped her hands around it. “It really started this morning — before we left for Hogsmeade.”
This was only Lily’s second trip to Hogsmeade as a Hogwarts student, and Ginny could imagine the excitement in her dormitory before the big event. Lily was wearing her favorite blue jumper and must have spent time curling her hair as well. It was all too easy to remember those feelings…
“Monica Zeller — you know her — she’s one of the Chasers on our team? The fifth-year?”
Ginny nodded. Monica and Albus were born in the same week. Ginny remembered the cute blonde baby girl in the nursery at St. Mungo’s.
“Well, she told me that there was going to be a party tonight in Hogsmeade — for fifth years and up, but since I was on the Quidditch team, I could go.”
“Wait a minute.” Ginny narrowed her eyes. “Was James at this party? Did he know about it?”
“No, James couldn’t go to Hogsmeade in the first place. He was in detention.”
“Now what did he do?” Ginny demanded.
“I don’t know.” Lily shrugged. “He was probably demonstrating one of Uncle George’s products in History of Magic again.”
Ginny made an angry sound and pressed her lips together. She would deal with James later. “What about Albus?” she snapped. “He usually looks out for you.”
“Al’s whole dormitory got in trouble last month —remember? Karl had a cache of Serenity Smokes, but no one told, so they were all punished. They had to clean Gryffindor Tower for this Hogsmeade weekend,” Lily explained.
“Albus doesn’t smoke, does he?”
“No, Mum. You can’t fly if you’re coughing up a lung.” Lily rolled her eyes. “Al wouldn’t do that. He just didn’t tell on Karl.”
“Right,” Ginny said wearily. It seemed all of her beloved children were delinquents. “So with both of your brothers out of the way, you thought you could go to this party.”
Lily colored and looked away. “Yes.”
“Well?” Ginny prompted. “How on earth did you manage to get past the fact that you had to be back at the castle by dinnertime? No one informed us that you broke curfew.”
Lily’s throat worked. “I had a note.”
“Yes,” she answered in a husky voice. “A note that said I had permission to stay overnight at Monica’s grandmother’s house in Hogsmeade.”
Ginny could feel the heat rise in her face, but she forced herself to be calm. “So you forged my signature?”
“No,” Lily whispered. “Dad’s — on Befuddlement Parchment.”
Harry was going to lose his mind, Ginny thought — and with good reason. “And where was Monica’s grandmother during this party?”
“Majorca, Spain?” Ginny asked incredulously. “So you knew you would be going to an unchaperoned party and spending the night in a house with Merlin-knows-who?”
Lily nodded miserably. “I didn’t know that exactly. I mean.” Her eyes pleaded with her mother to understand. “I didn’t think! I just wanted to be all grown up and fit in with the rest of the Quidditch players. I am the youngest on the team and… “
Ginny rubbed her temples as Lily’s lip trembled. It was understandable, but it was also frightening. A thirteen-year-old girl at a party with alcohol and much older students… She shuddered.
Part of her had always relied on the fact that Lily’s brothers were there to look out for her, but in this case, Lily had been on her own. She looked across the table at her daughter. Thank goodness she had Harry’s resourcefulness — that double-edged sword that got her into trouble, but it also got her out of it.
“So what happened at the party?”
“At first it was fun. Some of the older boys talked to me.” She blushed. “Leander Brown complimented me on my Porskoff Ploy in our last match again Slytherin.”
“Were those boys drinking?” Ginny asked grimly, wanting to hex these older boys who were chatting up her innocent, young daughter.
“Yes,” Lily answered, and then quickly added, “But I wasn’t. I don’t like the taste of Firewhiskey.”
Ginny didn’t bother to ask where Lily had tasted Firewhiskey. At this point she wouldn’t have been surprised if her enterprising daughter told her she had walked in the Three Broomsticks on her first Hogsmeade weekend and ordered one.
“But then it got scary,” Lily continued, her voice breaking. “One of the older blokes — I don’t know who he was — I think he had already left Hogwarts — said he knew how to do the Imperius Curse and that he would demonstrate on a witch.” She blushed and then, in succinct terms, told Ginny just what a witch under the Imperius Curse could be made to do for all the blokes at the party.
“Oh no.” Ginny gasped.
“No one believed this bloke could do Dark Magic — but I didn’t stay around to find out — I didn’t want to be that witch. I left the house straight away.”
“Lily.” Ginny didn’t know what else to say.
“Mum, I didn’t know what to do.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I was all alone in Hogsmeade. I couldn’t go back to Hogwarts since it was past curfew. So I stuck out my wand and summoned the Knight Bus.”
Ginny took a deep breath. After a series of bad decisions, Lily had finally done the right thing.
“But I don’t know what happened to Monica,” Lily said. “I tried to talk her into leaving but she was drunk and snogging a boy I didn’t know. And then someone grabbed me by the sleeve and I pulled away. That’s how my cloak got torn.”
At that moment Harry Apparated into the kitchen. He eyes widened when he saw the two of them sitting at the table. “Lily? What are you doing here?”
“Um. I came on the Knight Bus.”
Harry’s mouth was grim line. “You were at that party in Hogsmeade, weren’t you?” He ran his hand through his hair and started pacing in agitation. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing — Dark Magic — drunken Hogwarts students — witches as young as you are —” He paled. “Lily, you didn’t? You’re all right?”
“Yes, I’m all right.” Lily turned bright red and her eyes glittered with angry defiance. “I did what you told me if I was ever in a situation I couldn’t get out of. I stuck out my wand for the Knight Bus and I came straight to you.”
Harry’s shoulders sagged in relief, but Lily continued her storm of words.
“I could have gone somewhere else — then you never would have known, and I wouldn’t be getting this lecture.” Harry exchanged glances with Ginny as Lily continued her tirade. “Besides, I would never do something like that in the first, place, Dad. I’m only thirteen —”
“I don’t think those witches had much choice, being under an Imperius Curse.” He cut her off in a hard voice. “We just took two hysterical girls to St. Mungo’s to be checked over. And the thought that you could have been one of them…”
Now Lily looked more frightened than ever.
“Harry,” Ginny stood up and put her hand on his arm. “Lily told me all about it and I’ll tell you her story later. She wasn’t one of those girls because when she did remember what we taught her, she did what she was supposed to do.”
His arm was still stiff with tension, but he nodded. The conversation would wait until tomorrow.
“Lily, I think you should go to bed,” Ginny continued. “We’ll talk about this in morning.”
Lily nodded and got up from the table. “Dad?” She stood in front of her father, looking a little frightened at another lecture, but determined, too. “One of those girls — that you took to St. Mungo’s? Her name wasn’t Monica, was it?”
He looked at her and stiffly shook his head. “No, neither one of those girls was named Monica.” From the tone of his voice, Ginny could tell he was still angry with Lily.
“I feel so guilty,” Lily whispered to him. “I tried to make her leave with me —”
At that his expression softened. “You did the right thing — don’t feel guilty about saving yourself.” He held open his arms. “You rescued the one I couldn’t do with out.”
Lily fell into his embrace. “I’m sorry,” she sniffed.
“I know.” Harry he held her tightly. Ginny thought he was probably sniffing, too. “It’s okay.”
After Lily fell into an exhausted sleep, Ginny joined Harry in the kitchen. He was stroking the cat and staring into the fire. “She asleep?”
“Yes.” She sighed and sat at the table.
“I thought the boys fighting constantly was the worst part of parenting,” Harry said. “But a daughter is going to kill me.”
“I know,” Ginny mused. “I was thinking about Mum and Dad sitting in McGonagall’s office waiting to find out whether I was dead or alive.” She shook her head. “Then they found out I had been writing in diary that wrote back. No wonder Dad scolded me.”
“Everything seemed so black and white back then. You know — Evil was Voldemort and Death Eaters and Slytherins and Snape and Uncle Vernon and Draco Malfoy and Dementors and… “ He stopped when he noticed her giggle. “Quite a list, isn’t it?”
“It is.” She sobered. “Lily made a mistake, Harry. Okay, a lot of mistakes,” she added as his expression darkened. “But she’s not a hopeless case — she did come home to us.”
“Yeah.” He shifted uncomfortably and the cat leapt off of his lap. “She was afraid to tell me.”
“I’m sure she spent the entire bus ride thinking about what you were going to say.”
He rubbed his forehead. “I messed that up, didn’t I?”
“No,” she assured him. “I don’t think she thought you would forgive her so quickly.”
“Merlin knows I’ve made enough mistakes,” he said with a sigh. “I wasn’t quite in my third year when I took the Knight Bus for the first time.” He shook his head. “I thought my wand was going to be snapped and I would be kicked out of the wizarding world forever.”
“Is that the time you ended up with Cornelius Fudge and spent two weeks living it up at the Leaky Cauldron?”
He laughed. “Yeah.”
“I see that harsh punishment didn’t quash your spirit.”
“No.” He tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling. “But Lily… She shouldn’t have been there.”
“I know — just like I shouldn’t have left training camp after my first week as a Harpy — just like you stayed with me in my witches-only boarding house for an entire weekend. But we were punished — remember? I was suspended for the first match of the season.”
“Yeah, but that’s when your teammates started to like you — so it did have a silver lining.”
“Well, yes. But what I’m saying is that Lily will be punished and she’ll learn her lesson.”
Harry shook his head. “They’re going to throw the book at her — after we do, of course. I doubt she sees Hogsmeade again this year.”
“The silver lining is that we don’t have to worry about her getting in trouble outside of school grounds.” Ginny smirked. “Actually, now we don’t have to worry about any of our children since they’ve all been in detention more than they’ve had a chance to go to Hogsmeade.”
He laughed. “Is that like reverse parenting or something? Our kids are so bad, they’re locked up and now they’re safe?”
He yawned and pointed his wand at the fire. “Let’s go to bed. We have to have the stamina to yell at Lily again in the morning.”
He put his arm around her shoulders as they left the kitchen together. “Wait a minute,” Ginny said, stopping in the doorway. “I just thought of something. You didn’t get caught when you stayed with me in the witches-only boarding house.”
He grinned. “No, I didn’t. Although James was our silver lining from that little excursion on the Knight Bus, if I remember correctly.”
She put her arm around his waist. “He’s our honeymoon baby — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
He laughed. “I guess Lily will have to spin her own story about the Knight Bus to her children.”
“But no children until she’s thirty.”
“Of course not,” Harry agreed. “That’s when we’ll let her out of detention.”