Just as the sunset augured, it did rain the next day. The temperature dropped and the fog rolled in on top of it. At first, Ginny welcomed the change in weather since it gave her an excuse to laze around the house. She hadn't realized how tired she really was until she actually stopped to relax.
Mum was happy since she felt that Ginny had not fully recovered from her Quidditch accident. Ginny didn't protest the coddling and for the next few rainy days, she enjoyed the quiet household activities and spending time with her mother. She even started knitting a pair of booties for Bill and Fleur's baby with Mum's help.
By the end of the fourth day of gloomy weather, however, Ginny's interest in quiet household tasks was waning. She could barely contain her impatience and boredom as she sat at the kitchen table leafing through issues of Magical Bride magazine while the spit turned the chicken they were having for dinner and the cauldrons bubbled with savory smells. She and Mum were having a disagreement over the table decorations. "Swans," Mum suggested. "It's a romantic symbol since swans mate for life."
"I hate swans," Ginny said shortly. Her irrational dislike of swans started the day Cho Chang had conjured a swan Patronus during one of Harry's DA teaching sessions.
"Oh." Mum frowned. "Well, it says here that you have to cast a very strong Freezing Charm on them, otherwise they'll walk off the tables and that would be a bother," Mum said absently as she flipped through the pages. "What about…?"
"Flowers from the garden, Mum." Ginny closed the August issue. "That's what we had for Bill and Fleur's wedding and it was nice."
"But it was a nod to Fleur's name," Mum said. "You should have something to personalize your wedding. Make it stand out."
"Oh, I think this wedding is going to stand out," Ginny said dryly. "The papers are making sure of that."
That very morning there had been no fewer than five articles about either Harry or Ginny. The scandalous photos had piqued the public's interest in them to an all-time high – probably because this story about Harry had nothing to do with war and death and personal loss.
Or as Mum said, "The world loves a lover."
To which Fred or George retorted, "A lover with no clothes on."
Oddly enough, that seemed to be true. The day after Ginny received the pile of letters berating her for her morals, another batch of letters arrived full of praise for their obvious affection and good wishes for their upcoming marriage. While only a few disillusioned wizards thought that he would be a better catch than Harry, there were plenty of witches who sought to replace Ginny. While Ginny knew Harry loved her dearly, there was a part of her that wished she were as beautiful as some of the witches who sent him their pictures.
The editors of the style sections were doing their best to help Ginny with her appearance, however. Witch Weekly ran a photo spread contemplating what Ginny's wedding robes would look like. They had placed Ginny's head from the swimming photos on to the bodies of models wearing designer robes. Not only were the Ginny-heads too big for the bodies, but her hair was sopping wet and her lips kept pursing into a kiss since that was what she had been doing in the original photographs.
"Bridzilla is alive and among us," Fred said the first time he saw the manipulated photos.
"She should keep the veil down until after the vows," George nodded.
Ginny had come a hair's breadth from hexing them both. Lucky for them, Dad Apparated into the room before she could draw her wand from under the invitations she was addressing.
Today she didn't think she would have that sort of control over her temper – and deep down she knew it wasn't just because of the wedding or the weather. She had other things on her mind – such as the fact that Harry hadn't been able to practice swimming. What if the Search and Rescue school rejected him if he couldn't swim according to standards?
Ginny moodily stacked the bridal magazines. She couldn't tell Harry that worry.
She also couldn't find it in herself to tell him that she had not been on a broom since her accident. At school, with revising and exams, there simply hadn't been a time, and once she was home, she had spent all of her free time with Harry swimming. But the summer was winding down and in September her flying would be evaluated.
What if she froze up when someone flew toward her or under her? She shuddered and firmly pushed that thought out of her mind. When the time came she would be fine, one never forgot how to fly – or so the saying went.
She was concentrating so hard on visions of flying confidently, that she didn't notice when Harry and Ron Apparated into room.
"Oh! You're here!"
"We're not that stealthy, Ginny," Ron said, looking at her askance. "Although the new trainer did say we were the best at Apparating."
"Did he?" Mum turned around from the cauldrons, her face flushed and shiny from the steam. "That's wonderful. I just know you're going to be a top-notch Auror, Ron."
Ron ducked his head and didn't say anything. Ginny thought that Ron not preening after a compliment was rather odd, but she didn't have time to dwell on it since Harry was looking so serious.
"Is everything all right?" she asked, trying to sound casual and unconcerned.
Harry's eyes narrowed as he studied her. "Yes."
Ginny felt a stab of irritation. Harry was obviously not in a good mood and it was going to take all of her resources to drag whatever it was out of him. Why did she always have to be the cheerful, patient one?
"Ginny, darling," Mum said. "Let's dish up. I can see from the clock your father is on his way."
Ginny squared her shoulders and then stood up to help Mum. She would try to be more positive, she vowed. Maybe Harry was just hungry. And maybe it would stop raining so that she and Harry could take a walk after dinner and finally have some privacy.
She was tired of the evenings of watching Harry and Ron play chess, and she was tired of censoring what she said to Harry since someone else was always around and mostly she was tired of her own stupid thoughts. She thumped the bowl of potatoes on the table. So much for positive thinking.
After picking at her dinner and helping Mum wash up, Ginny entered the sitting room to see – sure enough – Harry and Ron playing chess. Dad was reading the paper, there was a fire in the grate and the Wireless was playing something warbly and old-fashioned.
"I'm going for a walk," she announced.
Dad looked over the paper at her. "It's raining."
"I'll take an umbrella."
"Do you want me to come along?" Harry asked. He had that same serious, I-have-a-problem look that he had flashed at her when he Apparated into the kitchen.
"No." Then she softened her curt tone by adding, "Just finish your match with Ron." She fled the stifling room, donned an old waterproof cloak of George's and stuffed her feet in Mum's Wellingtons. She couldn't find an umbrella, so she conjured one, hoping the magic would hold for her entire walk.
It was raining steadily and the air was chilly, but Ginny immediately felt better out in the fresh, green outdoors. At least now she could move – and breathe – and hear herself think.
She walked over the thick, wet grass toward the Muggle road. She would walk the mile to the end of their property and then decide how much farther to go. Since it was a rainy evening, she doubted any photographers would be skulking about.
She had just entered the grassy lane that was lined with the tall hedges Devonshire was famous for, when Harry Apparated in front of her.
"I thought you were playing chess with Ron."
"I let him win." He frowned at her as the rain dripped over his glasses. "Do you want to be alone?"
"Yes – no – I don't know." She stared at him helplessly.
He ran his hand through his now-wet hair and sighed. "And what am I supposed to do with that?"
"You figure it out!" She started to stalk away, but he grabbed her arm.
"Ginny, what's wrong with you?"
"Me?" she flared. "There's nothing wrong with me! You're the one in a bad mood! And I don't need your bad mood right now."
"I'm not in a bad mood," he said, dropping her arm. "You are."
"Why were you frowning at me when you Apparated into the kitchen?"
"I was worried," he retorted. "You looked so pale and you were scowling like you had got into Fred and George's U-No-Poo or something."
"U-No –" Enraged, she flounced off down the lane. How dare he act so juvenile? He sounded just like her stupid brothers. The romance was well and truly gone.
"Ginny." He easily caught up with her since his legs were so much longer than hers and Mum's boots were too small and hobbled her feet.
"What?" she snapped. "Do you have more bathroom jokes for me?"
One corner of his mouth turned up. "I heard a good one today, but I don't –"
"Oh!" She turned on her heel, unwanted tears pricking her eyes. How could he joke when he had just insulted her?
She stopped at the placating tone of his voice and faced him.
"Ginny, come here." He had his arms open, which was exactly what she wanted, and for some reason, she resisted.
"My umbrella is in the way."
"Put it over both of us."
Why hadn't she thought of that? She took out her wand and nudged the handle, so that it was floating high over her head.
"Now will you come here? Please?"
It was that 'please' that did it. She couldn't deny him anything when he said 'please.' She stepped carefully into his arms, but didn't lean against him.
"Did something happen today?" he asked into her hair.
"No." That was part of her problem.
"Are you…?" He paused. "Hormonal or something?"
"Hormonal!" As she pulled away from him, her umbrella jerked back in the air, mirroring her movements. "What makes you think I'm hormonal? Honestly, you blokes think that's always the problem so you don't have to take the blame for anything – I would think by now –" She stopped in mid-tirade. It was almost the end of July. She was hormonal and that meant....
"What? Think what by now?"
She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but concern – no impatience, no panic, no fear, just – concern.
"Um." She looked at the top button on his shirt. "The last time I was – er – hormonal. It hurt. A lot. Like, more than usual." She peeped up at him. Any talk of "witches' troubles" would clear any room at the Burrow, but Harry was made of sterner stuff.
"What did Madam Pomfrey say?" he asked, stroking her damp hair.
"I didn't tell her."
"Because I can't go whinging to Madam Pomfrey with every ache and pain, Harry. Some girls have it a lot worse than me every month."
"But if this was unusual for you, then don't you think you should tell someone? You were seriously injured, you know." He was trying to look at her, but she didn't want to face him – or face the problem just yet.
"I know," she said sharply. "Don't you think I know?"
"If you're worried –"
"I'm not worried!" she lifted her chin. "I'm not like Mum. I don't worry."
He stared at her a moment. "You don't worry out loud, you mean."
The rain continued to patter gently on the umbrella and Harry continued standing half in and half out of the rain, as she assessed the truth of his words. She was full of worry – about stupid things she shouldn't even be worried about like table decorations and if the booties she made were the right size and would chicken or beef be better for the wedding dinner? And then there were the worries about her health that she wouldn't even acknowledge to herself….
With a pop, her conjured umbrella disappeared and the rain pelted her head. Before Ginny could reach for her wand, Harry had conjured another, larger umbrella that covered them both.
She was safe from the rain – but not her unspoken fears.
Harry moved closer to her and gently embraced her. For just a moment, she let herself lean against him, absorbing his strength. He seemed to sense some sort of surrender, because he tightened his hold on her.
"Go see the Healer at St. Mungo's tomorrow after our appointment at Gringotts," he coaxed.
She had forgotten about that appointment at Gringotts. She was supposed to sign a lot of papers since Harry had several small fortunes tucked away at that bank. She sighed.
"I know." Harry patted her back.
She smiled at the bracing tone of his voice. Harry hated dealing with money and so did she, but Bill had insisted on it and they both knew he was right. "I'll practice my Ginevra signature then."
"Just this one time. Then it's nevra, Ginevra," he said, as if on cue. It was an old joke of theirs – he was never to call her Ginevra.
She looked up at him now, feeling slightly more cheerful. "You can add U-No-Poo references to the nevra list."
He smiled. "Okay."
If she went tomorrow to the Healers then she would at least know what, if anything, was wrong with her – and that had to be better than all of this worry about the unknown. "Isn't the press going to have field day if I'm caught going into St. Mungo's?"
"Visiting a sick friend," Harry said breezily.
"What about our trip to Gringotts?"
"You're obviously trying to extort me out of my fortune."
She laughed. "And that trip to the tattoo artist?"
"My name." He caressed the curve of her bum. "Right here."
"Now why would I put a tattoo where I couldn't see it?" she asked. "How am I going to remember the name of the bloke I married?"
"Maybe we should look around for another spot, then?" He waggled his eyebrows.
She giggled. "Some other time – it's cold out here."
"The bride doesn't need a cold for the wedding," he agreed, pulling away so they could walk back to the house.
"I hate being the bride," Ginny complained as they walked along, hand-in-hand. "It's all decision-making and people expecting you to look radiant and beautiful all the time."
"I haven't been much help with the decision-making."
"It's okay." She nudged her shoulder against his arm. "I wouldn't expect you to be interested. Unless you have a strong opinion about swans."
"Swans?" He shook his head. "No. I'm neutral about swans."
The thought that Harry had no feelings at all about swans cheered Ginny immensely.
"Did you hire a photographer?"
"Oh!" Ginny thought about Mum and her list. "I'm not sure. But there will be loads of people taking pictures, I'm sure."
"Yes, but I want some formal pictures."
"You do?" Ginny stopped walking. "But you hate having your picture taken."
Harry looked at the ground and shuffled his feet, but he persisted. "I know – but a wedding is important and there should be pictures for… later."
Then Ginny knew exactly why Harry wanted pictures of their wedding. It was one of the few things he had left of his parents. She put her hand on his arm. "You're right. Photographs are important. I'll make sure Mum books someone."
Harry nodded and they continued walking towards the house. "You remember that the day after tomorrow I leave with Ron for training in the Azores?"
She swallowed the lump in her throat that came the instant he mentioned he was going away. It was to be their last separation – ever – if Ginny could help it. "I remember," she answered.
"I hate the idea of going and leaving you with all of this –" He waved his hand vaguely.
"Right." His smile looked relieved, probably because she wasn't weeping over him or shouting at him like the hormonal mess she felt. "I just wanted to do this last bit for Ron. I mean, he's going to be on his own for the rest of Auror training."
"He's okay with us, isn't he?" Ginny asked. "I hardly have a chance to talk to him since he moved in with Fred and George."
"Why would you say that?" Harry asked with a frown.
"I don't know," she answered slowly. "He just seems so quiet lately. Like he's worried about something."
"He's still worried about Hermione," Harry said. "He's only had one letter from her since she's been in Shangri-la."
Ginny felt that familiar clutch of fear in her stomach. Of course, Ron wasn't worried about them. The newspapers had been full of ominous news about the Dark Witch who was threatening that country.
"Her official memos to the Ministry have arrived on time, but nothing personal."
"Oh." The clutching in her stomach eased. "So it's owl post that's delayed?"
Harry frowned. "No one is sure, since everything is heavily censored."
"I hope she can make it to the wedding," Ginny fretted.
"I do, too," Harry said quietly.
Now she felt bad about her earlier outburst. Harry didn't always express his worries out loud, either. Wordlessly, she slipped her arms around his waist.
"We'll have a good day tomorrow," Harry promised.
Tomorrow, Ginny thought, don't think about the day after tomorrow.
Ginny didn't have a chance to think about anything the next day but dodging photographers and thinking about how much she hated hospitals and banks. Luckily, the press was following Harry around so she was able to slip into St. Mungo's for an early appointment. She even made it undetected to the stationers to buy Harry a photo album for his birthday. But her few minutes of obscurity ran out as soon as she joined Harry on the steps of Gringotts.
"When's the wedding?" a wizard called out.
"Are you going to the nude beaches in Greece for your honeymoon?"
"Are you signing a pre-nup?" another reporter shouted.
Harry huffed and turned on his heel, guiding Ginny into the bank. Two goblins closed the doors, keeping the loud group at bay.
They didn't have a moment to talk because Bill joined them in the lobby. "Ah, the fourth estate," he said, indicating the wizards with cameras who had their noses pressed against the glass. "Security will get rid of them."
Bill led them to his office, which was a somber, wood-paneled room with a window Charmed to have a view of the Nile, judging by the palm trees and pyramids. "So, Ginny," Bill said when they were all seated. "I know this is no fun. But Harry has the most assets in this branch of Gringotts. The goblins like to know that the treasure they're guarding is being looked after. And part of being looked after is having your paperwork in order."
Ginny stared at Harry in amazement. "The most assets?"
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. "Most of that treasure is because of Voldemort. It's not really mine."
Bill shook his head. "It is yours. You put your life on the line for this country and many people are grateful."
"Plenty of people put their life on the line," Harry bit out. "Including your whole family." Two ruddy patches appeared on his cheeks. "I don't want any of it."
"I know," Bill replied calmly. "You've been saying that for over a year and yet it won't go away, will it?" He looked across his desk at Ginny. "And now your name will be on it, too."
"Ginevra will be on it," Ginny said, with a side-ways glance at Harry.
His lips twitched.
"Yes, Brat," Bill answered, his blue eyes twinkling. "Your legal name."
"So we'll nevra – I mean never – have to spend any of this money?" Ginny asked Bill.
He frowned. "You should do something responsible with it. Treasure isn't meant to be buried for centuries." Bill jerked his thumb at the pyramids. "That treasure didn't get them too far, did it?"
"No, it just made the rich richer after you lot raided those pyramids." Ginny crossed her arms in front of herself.
"Gringotts isn't just for rich people, Ginny." Bill's voice was calm, but the tips of his ears were turning red. "Gringotts loans money to businesses and ordinary witches and wizards who want to have a house or send their children to school. A stable banking system leads to a stable government. If you bury your treasure and forget about it, it's not doing much good in the world."
Ginny was ready with a stinging retort, but Harry held up his hand. "Let's just sign the papers today. Ginny and I will have plenty of time to discuss this later."
Bill nodded. "Right you are, Harry."
Two goblins brought in a sheaf of parchment and proceeded to explain just what each paper meant. Even though it was English, it sounded like Gobbledegook to Ginny. Before each signature, she glanced at Bill and Harry to make sure she was doing the correct thing. She hated feeling so out of her depth.
The last order of business was a tour of the vaults so that Ginny's handprint could be recognized by the security system in the doors. Ginny hadn't been in the tram for years and she immediately discovered that she still disliked the cold, musty smell of earth and that feeling of being buried alive.
As they were following the goblin to the vault that Harry had inherited from Sirius, Harry stole a moment to whisper in her ear, "Was everything okay at St. Mungo's?"
"Yes," she answered in a low voice. "I had some scar tissue that was causing the pain and they removed it."
"Are you feeling all right?" Harry asked later when they were jammed into the cart to go to the next vault.
Ginny's head was full of all the Galleons, Sickles and Knuts piled high in the Black vault. Why was the money still there while Sirius was gone? "Hmm? Oh, yes. I am." She squeezed his hand as they dove into the darkness.
The vault Harry had inherited from his parents was smaller than the Black family vault and the stacks of coins weren't as high. It looked less intimidating, somehow. "Did the Healers say anything else?" Harry asked as the goblin did something to the vault door.
"No." It was hard to judge his expression in the dim light. "I decided to go ahead and take The Potion – the one that lasts a year."
"The Potion?" he asked. Then his face cleared. "Oh, that potion." He squeezed her hand. Ginny didn't know what to make of his reaction. Was he relieved she couldn't get pregnant for a least another year? Or was he disappointed?
She didn't have a chance to ask Harry anything, because the goblin was directing them back into the cart where they plunged farther into the darkness.
The last vault was so far under the bank that it took them five minutes of steady dropping to reach it. Here the air was stale and every sound was muffled. Ginny felt a horrible clawing feeling around her throat; she wanted to scream and run away from the close walls and ceiling of the corridor, but she kept her composure as they followed the goblin to a thick iron door.
"All right?" Harry asked.
"I just don't like it underground," she said in a thin voice. She couldn't seem to get enough air.
The goblin, Harry and Ginny had to place their hands on the cold metal handle of the door before the many keys could be inserted. It took the goblin a long time. Ginny sidled close to Harry. She didn't care how it appeared; she needed his warmth in this cold, dark place.
Once the door swung open, all thoughts of claustrophobia fled. This vault was a vast cavern. As far as Ginny could see, there were piles of coins and jewels and goblets and figurines and all sorts of treasures. "Harry?" In her wildest dreams she never could have imagined such wealth.
He was looking slightly green or maybe it was a trick of the torchlight. "A lot of it is from the estates of the Death Eaters. And then some of it is from ordinary people who were happy Voldemort was finally gone."
Harry explained it like he had won the Quidditch pool at Hogwarts on a good guess, but here, for the first time in a long time, Ginny felt a little in awe of him.
Harry had done a tremendous thing.
She knew it at the time, of course, but then she had been so relieved that he had survived and that he had come back for her, that she hadn't really considered the impossibility of the task or the enormity of its impact – for every person in Britain.
She looked at the glittering piles and thought about what Harry kept hidden from so many people. This vast cavern was so like him – full of priceless things– yet his treasures were not gold, but love and courage and sacrifice.
"Oh, Harry." She hugged him around the waist, knowing he wouldn't want to hear any of this. He hugged her back in a way that told her he was re-living some memories. He had never wanted this – yet here it was.
They held each other for a long time. Ginny listened to the beating of his heart under her ear and thanked every force in the universe that he was alive.
Someday the world would benefit from this treasure, Ginny vowed. Bill was right. You don't bury your treasure – because if you do, then it's just a dead thing. You have to bring it forth – just as Harry had brought forth the best of himself to defeat Voldemort. It had been worth it to come to Gringotts for that hidden revelation alone.