AN: Hmm. I've already received feedback that this chapter may cause tubs of Bubotuber Pus to be slipped into my oatmeal. This has me slightly worried, as I trust the source of this opinion implicitly. Therefore I have two things to say:
1. Thanks again to my beta and friend Arnel for her guidance and advice.
2. Trust me. I'm a romantic at heart!
"Ginny!" Ron smiled broadly at his sister as she gracefully made her way out of the Floo, still dressed in her practice gear.
"Ron," Ginny smiled reservedly at her brother. "First practice back was fantastic. Gwenog moved me to first team!"
"Ginny, that's fantastic!" Ron pumped his fist enthusiastically. Taking note of her almost imperceptible shrug, he peered worriedly into her eyes.
"Why aren't you more excited? You're virtually a starter and will practice exclusively with the starters now."
"It's probably nothing." Ginny hesitated for a moment, and then shook herself. "You're right, Ron," she exclaimed, her smile broadening into full-fledged glee.
"Spill, Weasley," Ron said, patting the sofa. "Tell me all about your first practice as a first-teamer."
Ginny continued smiling at her brother, but didn't move to sit down.
"I actually thought I would go over to Harry's and chat with him a bit. I think we have some things to discuss."
Ron frowned at his sister. "How did you go from blind rage to staying the night at his flat?"
Ginny sighed audibly as she made her way to her room. "We're not talking about this, Ron, remember? He's very nice."
Ron shook his head in defeat. "He's much better than Dean, that git."
Ginny smiled broadly again and said dreamily, "That he is. That he is."
Ron mimicked gagging as Ginny disappeared into her room to change and run a brush through her hair.
Soon after, Ginny appeared in Harry's flat, thrilled that she could simply come through the Floo instead of having to ask his elf for permission. She realized that it showed a level of trust that Harry didn't show many others in his life.
"Harry," she called out as she stepped through the fire.
Harry came bounding through the kitchen and stumbled slightly in his excitement to greet her. Ginny covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.
"Hi," she said when he finally came to a stop in front of her.
"Hi," Harry returned awkwardly. They stood facing each other for a few seconds, both unsure of what to say.
After a few moments, Harry lightly touched her hand and pulled her farther into the flat.
"Come on in, can I get you anything?" Harry asked, glancing back and forth between her and the kitchen.
Ginny laughed openly at his nervousness. "After last night, it's not like I'm exactly a stranger here, Harry."
She made her way to him and gently laid her hand on his shoulder. "I hope to spend more time here," she said, smiling at him. Suddenly, she frowned slightly.
"One thing we need to discuss. About last night… the thing is… I'm not really that kind of girl. It's not that it wasn't bloody fantastic—" she said, seeing the concern blossom on his face, "—I just think we should get to know each other more before we do something like that again."
Harry smiled at her. "I totally agree, Gin. I'm glad you brought it up, I didn't want you to think that I didn't, you know, want to."
Harry moved over to the couch and patted the space next to him. Unlike earlier with her brother, Ginny immediately sat next to him, perhaps closer than she strictly had to.
"You're my first girlfriend. Really, the first girl I've even kissed." Harry turned red at her gasp. "I know I'm going to make tons of mistakes, so you'll just have to muddle through with me. Is that all right with you?"
Ginny's heart ached at the worry still etched in the lines of his face. "That's perfect, Harry."
She leaned forward and kissed him slowly and deeply. After a moment, Harry pulled back slightly and coughed in embarrassment. "As much as I'm enjoying this, I wasn't sure if you were coming back today or anything, so I made some plans for an early dinner with a friend." Harry quickly continued as Ginny's face fell slightly. "Do you want to come along? I'm sure she wouldn't mind."
Ginny's head shot up. "She? You're telling me that you're going to dinner with a girl? Just the two of you? Hmph!"
Ginny stood up and grabbed her purse. "Let's go."
Harry laughed at his newly-minted girlfriend. "Please tell me that you're not the jealous bint type."
Ginny stopped and stood still, looking thoughtful. "Not normally. Maybe you just bring it out in me." She smiled to show that she wasn't completely serious.
"Let's go, oh-jealous-one. I'm sure Tonks will be thrilled to meet you."
Ginny was nervous as she and Harry Apparated to a small Italian restaurant somewhere in Muggle London. Ginny didn't spend much time outside of the Wizarding world, plus, she was meeting one of Harry's old friends. She self-consciously smoothed her hair and smoothed down her skirt.
"She'll love you, Ginny. You have nothing to worry about."
Ginny's heart warmed at the tenderness on his face. He had instinctively known that she was worried.
After speaking with the hostess, they took seats in a secluded booth in the back. "She's always late," Harry said in way of explanation.
Harry and Ginny sat and chatted amicably for several minutes before a striking blonde walked up to their table. She was literally spilling from her tight halter top, and her shorts left very little to the imagination.
Without pausef she proceeded to sit directly in Harry's lap and threw her arms around his neck.
"Harry Potter, you never Floo or call! I'm beginning to think you don't like me."
She glanced over at Ginny, then turned back to Harry, dismissing her out of hand. "Come back to my place and I'll show you how a real witch treats Harry Potter."
Ginny was amazed when Harry laughed out loud, slapping the table.
"Harry, I'm not sure what this is about, but I do know two things: First, you told me you hadn't even kissed a girl, and second, if she's not out of your lap in five seconds, I'm going to hex the both of you!" Ginny hissed.
"I thought you weren't the jealous type, Ginny," Harry said smirking. "Enough, Tonks. Joke's over."
"Tonks!" Ginny exclaimed. "You're an Auror?"
The witch slid off Harry's lap and sat next to him. She glanced around, and suddenly she shifted, her clothes Transfiguring as her body changed shape. A much more respectable woman was sitting across from Ginny in full Auror robes, although she did have purple hair.
"Auror Tonks, at your service," she said with a giggle, giving Harry a wink.
"Don't worry about it, Ginny. Tonks likes to mess about," Harry said giving Tonks a stern look.
"You're a Metamorphmagus!" Ginny exclaimed, finally understanding.
"You're right in one, cutie," Tonks said. "I have to say, Harry, she's quite the looker. Good for you, kiddo!"
Ginny blushed at the comment, although it annoyed her that Tonks was acting like she wasn't there.
"You've known Harry long then, Miss Tonks?" Ginny asked.
"All his life," Tonks said seriously. She leaned forward, giving Ginny the first serious look since she had joined the table. "Try not to hurt him. It would be a shame if something happened to you."
"Tonks!" Harry scolded. "She's very protective," Harry said to Ginny, continuing to glare at Tonks.
"Well, my work here is done," Tonks said, standing.
"You're not staying?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Nope, I was called in to an emergency. Muggle baiting," Tonks said in disgust. "I just wanted to make sure I said hello to Red, here."
Tonks leaned down and kissed Harry gently on the cheek. "Take care, I'll Floo later."
"That was interesting," Ginny said haltingly after Tonks had disappeared. "You two never dated?"
Ginny hated that she asked that question. She also hated how it sounded. Maybe she was the jealous type when it came to Harry after all.
"Tonks? No, although she's not that much older than me. We grew up playing and training together. She's like a sister." Harry smiled as Ginny exhaled a deep breath.
"So what should we eat?"
It had been three weeks since Harry and Ginny had officially begun dating. They had spent most of their free time between practices together. Ginny had seen considerable playing time the first two matches after her suspension and was beginning to gain some notice in the league. Seven matches into the season, the Arrows were 6-0 and leading the South division, while the Harpies sat atop the North Division at 6-1, their only loss coming during the disastrous match against the Arrows. The pressure mounted. Practice time increased. The press seemed convinced that the British title would come down to the two teams playing in the championship. Their infant relationship received lots and lots of press. Harry and Ginny somehow managed to live in their own little world, getting to know each other slowly.
Harry preferred to spend his time out with Muggles. He had taken her to the cinema for a film as well as other traditional Muggle dates. Ginny loved it. She realized that she was quickly falling even more for Harry. She began hoping that he would tell her he loved her again, as he had been silent on that point since their first night together.
The scandal over Harry's charms faded as the press moved on to other stories. Every now and then someone would bring it up, but it hadn't stuck around since the first wave of stories.
"Harry?" Ginny said lazily one evening as they sat on Harry's couch, both exhausted from their respective practices.
"Hmm?" Harry said, his eyes closed as Ginny ran her hands through his hair.
Ginny snuggled up closer to him and lightly kissed him on his forehead.
"Will you tell me about the war?"
Harry tensed and his eyes flew open. "Why?" he demanded.
"I want—" Ginny stopped. "No, that's not right. I need to know you. I think I'm falling for you," Ginny said, looking at the floor. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
Harry lifted her chin up until she met his piercing emerald eyes. "How can I refuse you anything when you tell me that?" He hesitated slightly. "What do you want to know?"
Ginny shrugged. "Everything, I guess, I don't know where to start."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment and turned to the window, which he did often when deep in thought.
"Right, I'll just start at the beginning, then, shall I?"
Ginny could only nod as the tension in the room had thickened seemingly out of nothing.
"From as early as I can remember, I lived with Uncle Sirius and Uncle Remus. They weren't really my uncles, but very good friends of my parents. You know my parents were killed by Voldemort when I was a baby."
Ginny nodded at him and gripped his hand in support.
"Dumbledore came by often, as did other members of the Order, plus Tonks came over quite a bit. She is Sirius's cousin, you know."
Ginny didn't know, and she was curious as to what the Order was, but she didn't want to interrupt him.
"There was a Prophecy that linked me to Voldemort. Only I could kill him and they made sure that I was as prepared as I could be."
Harry stood and walked over to the large sliding glass door that opened to the balcony overlooking the city, gazing into the murky darkness of London as twilight fell.
"One day when I was eight, Sirius received news of a Death Eater attack on some Muggles. He didn't want to wait for the Order or the Aurors." Harry turned and gave Ginny a tremulous smile that didn't reach his eyes. "He always was reckless."
Harry took a deep breath and Ginny glimpsed the beginning of tears forming in his eyes.
"We attacked, just the two of us. We were doing well, but somehow Lucius Malfoy got a lucky shot in on Sirius. I didn't stand a chance on my own."
Ginny took a chance to interrupt, given how visibly upset he was becoming.
"Oh, Harry," she whispered, standing and going to him. "What happened?"
"The Killing Curse. And just like that," Harry snapped his fingers loudly, causing Ginny to jump, "he was gone."
Ginny wrapped herself around him, willing him to understand that he wasn't alone. "You don't have to tell me anymore. I'm sorry I asked."
Harry smiled again. "It's perfectly fine, Gin. It's part of who I am and you would find out eventually."
Harry pulled her tight, her face nuzzled into his shoulder.
"They took their time with me after that. Cutting Curses, the Cruciatus. I won't go into all the details. They even turned their werewolf, Greyback, loose on me. I thought I was going to die, but Dumbledore eventually showed up."
Ginny pulled back and looked at Harry in concern. "Werewolf — you're not…?" She left the question unasked, unable to complete the thought.
"No, I'm not. Would it matter to you?" Harry asked gently.
Ginny thought for a moment and then moved back into his chest. "No, it wouldn't. Harry… werewolf scars, even untransformed, can't be healed like normal wounds."
"Yes, I know."
Ginny shook a little in his embrace. "That means…?"
Harry sighed and walked them back to the couch. "Yes, Ginny, these are Glamours that show me as I would have appeared and even felt had I never been injured. In reality I'm not a pretty sight."
"Show me," Ginny demanded.
"I can't, Gin," Harry said sadly.
"You think it will make a difference to me?" Ginny said hotly. "I'm not that shallow!"
"You'd be surprised how many people felt differently before, but that's not why I can't show you."
Harry shrugged nervously.
"Tell me why," Ginny demanded, more forcefully than she intended.
"I… I'm not supposed to tell anyone, it's a Ministry secret."
Harry paused and gripped her tightly. "I want to tell you though. I… really…"
"Harry," Ginny said softly, "it's okay. I'm sorry I pushed. You don't have to tell me anything."
Harry pushed off of her violently, jumping to his feet and gripping his hair.
"No! I have to tell you, I have to. Gin, I've never felt about anyone what I feel towards you. I need tell you. Just give me a moment."
Harry took a deep, calming breath.
"Dumbledore cast the first Glamour Charms to change my appearance. He was afraid if people saw how badly I had been hurt that it would damage morale."
Harry snorted bitterly. "Dumbledore never really saw me as a person, only as a strategic pawn in a war."
"But everyone says he was a great wizard," Ginny protested feebly.
"Oh, he was," Harry said, turning dimmed eyes back toward her face. "He was also capable of putting everyone else's needs above that of an eight-year-old." Harry waved her off when he saw that she was going to continue arguing. "Just believe me when I tell you that I know him better than most.
"When it became clear that I wasn't progressing fast enough, that my power wasn't growing enough to defeat Voldemort, Dumbledore became desperate."
Harry made his way back to the couch and sat down again next to Ginny. She had begun to fear what Harry was going to say next, the whole thing was much more terrible than she had imagined.
"There is a spell called the Mentor spell. It transfers all the power, knowledge, even memories, of a person to someone else. It's also incredibly damaging, as no one in history has been able to live through the process for more than a few weeks. It's quite hard to control someone else's life force, you see," Harry said with a grim smile. "It also costs the Mentor his life."
Ginny gasped, "If no one can control it, then why are you bringing it up?"
"You said it yourself, Gin. Dumbledore was a great wizard. He found a way to change the spell. He added… I'm not sure how to describe it.
"He added Binders. Basically, they mute my magical power and keep me from using it or it affecting me, but I have to concentrate all the time to keep the power low. When needed, I can bring it out and use it safely for short periods before Binding it again."
"So Dumbledore died giving you his magic?" Ginny was horrified.
"It was much more than that," Harry sighed. "It was his everything. Life, magic, knowledge, will, ambition. Dumbledore quite literally lives on through me." Harry shrugged self-consciously.
"What does this have to do with your Glamour?" Ginny asked in confusion.
"Dumbledore, in his great wisdom, tied all the charms he had cast on me into one anchor point. Meaning, the Binders, the Glamour, the… others. They are all linked. If one goes down, they all go down, and I don't know of anyone but Dumbledore who could put them back."
"But you have his knowledge, couldn't you do it?"
"It has to be cast by someone else; it's also hard to explain. Yes, I have his knowledge, but it's not readily available to me. I would have to search for it, and I would have to use the power to do it. Every time I use the power, there is a chance I won't make it back."
"Harry, I am so sorry. I didn't know." Ginny hesitated. "So right now, you have to concentrate to keep the power locked down, and if you get distracted it will come out?"
Harry smiled. "Pretty much, but I've become extremely good at it over the years. It's like slipping into an old pair of shoes. You get used to it. That's why I never anchor anything to myself; I'm not sure how another charm would interact with all the junk I have perpetually attached to me."
Ginny snuggled into Harry's side. "It doesn't matter to me what you look like, Harry. I'm just glad you survived and made it through to the other side. I can't really fathom what you went through."
"It's fine, Gin," Harry replied, gently kissing the top of her head. "Not to be totally cliché, but moments with you make me think it was worth it."
Ginny blushed furiously and ducked her head. Harry reached down and lifted her chin, kissing her gently. It didn't stay that way for long.
Potter and Arrows Demolish Ballycastle Bats; Move to 9-0
Last night the Appleby Arrows thrashed the Ballycastle Bats in a match so one-sided the stadium actually cleared before the game was over. The Appleby Chasers, led in scoring by Matt Jones, scored over 400 points before Seeker Harry Potter wrangled in the Snitch for a final of 550 – 0. The catch marks Mr Potter's third consecutive match-winning catch and his fourth start in place of Jacob Ashford as Seeker. Mr Ashford has continued playing in strategic situations where his excellent defensive skills are called for, but it seems clear that Mr Potter is the future of the Arrows when it comes to Seeking.
Mike Jackson also had a stellar night for the Arrows with 37 saves from shot on goal, Keeping his second shutout of the year. The Arrows continue to ride high and are pulling away from the rest of the South division, leading the next place challenges, Puddlemere United, by two matches plus the head-to-head victory. It seems clear that the Arrows are headed to the British Championship, the only question remaining is, who will be their challenger? In another note, early polling from fans and the coaches have both Potter and Jones as possible candidates for the English International Team for Seeker and Chaser respectively.
Ginny gritted her teeth as the force of her turn tried to pull her off her broom. She glanced over her shoulder as the Bludger crashed into the practice stands, having narrowly missed causing her significant injury.
She whirled to her right and sped toward the goal, determined to get this one past Emmeline if it was the last thing she did. (Emmeline really annoyed her and seemed out to get her for some unknown reason.)
Ginny dodged a second-team Chaser and fake-pumped a pass to Angeline, causing Emmeline to move slightly to her right. Ginny cut left and delivered a stunning shot to the lower left goal, the Quaffle going just past Emmeline's outstretched hands and scoring.
"YES!" Ginny shouted triumphantly as she soared past a sour-faced Emmeline.
"Good work, Weasley!" Gwenog shouted. "Everyone take ten minutes to grab some water, then we'll be back working on individual skill drills."
Ginny landed toward centre pitch, still ecstatic about her score. It was difficult to get one past Emmeline.
"Weasley, a word," Gwenog had come over to her without Ginny realizing it. "I firmly believe that, at this point, it's likely we'll face the Arrows in the championship. You've been around Potter for over a month now, I need to know how to beat him."
Ginny started at her captain as if she had grown horns and a tail.
"Gwenog," Ginny began haltingly, "you know I'm dating him. I just can't, it wouldn't be right."
Gwenog smirked at her. "All's fair in Quidditch, Ginny. You have a choice to make. The Harpies or Harry. I need to know which side you are on. Think about it."
Ginny stared at her captain in shock, as Gwenog mounted her broom and took off, back to the air.
Ginny barely remembered the rest of practice and she was still in a daze once she went back to the locker room. Angelina walked over and gave her a concerned look.
"You alright there, Gin? You seemed off all practice, like you were distracted."
Ginny glanced up at her friend for a long moment. It took her brain a few seconds to catch up to Angelina had said.
"Oh, yes. I'm fine. To tell the truth, I really was distracted. Thanks for checking on me."
Ginny turned back to her locker as Angelina moved away, casting concerned looks in her direction.
Distraction! Suddenly, Ginny knew how to beat Harry. If you pushed him directly, you would never beat him. He had learned to control himself and his power in the face of direct attack and confrontation. However, if you didn't attack straight up, but instead moved in from the side, you could cause him to be distracted. Little things. Things he wouldn't be expecting. Intentionally mis-aimed Bludgers. Cobbing that pulls up at the last second. Subtle elbows in the side. Things that would force him to consciously consider what was happening and stop playing on instinct. Things that would force him to devote more concentration to controlling his power and less on the Quidditch match.
Ginny covered her mouth with her hands as she began sucking in great gasping sobs. She couldn't do that to Harry, it could be dangerous to him. She loved him! However, Quidditch had always been her dream, and Harry had always been able to take care of himself before…
Ginny slowly made her way to Gwenog's office and knocked almost silently on the door. When the door opened, Ginny made her way into the office.
"Gwenog… from our conversation earlier… there are some… things… that we should discuss."