Author: Jedi Rah PM
It’s their seventh year at Hogwarts, and Ron has only twelve weeks left to convince Hermione that they are meant to be together. Meanwhile Harry receives a mysterious letter from his aunt that will take him and Ginny on a dangerous adventure into the muggRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - Harry P. & Ginny W. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 22,470 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 4 - Published: 03-06-05 - id: 2295082
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Part 6 Perilous Callings
All through the ride back to the hospital, Ginny and Harry enjoyed some quality time with each other. It was nice, Ginny noticed, to have someone who actually understood the muggle world to explain things. She found out what fire hydrants and parking meters were for and it actually made sense. Finally, they arrived at the hospital and it seemed to Ginny to be much less intimidating. In the Coronary Care Unit they found Dudley and Aunt Petunia waiting for them.
"Your Uncle Vernon is feeling much better," Petunia said in a superior tone. "They should be moving him to a private room by the end of the week. It doesn't look like we'll need your help very much longer."
This didn't make sense to Ginny. Nothing had really changed since last night. She gave Harry a puzzled look, but he had a knowing expression and was nodding his head slightly.
"So he doesn't want me here, even to help?" Harry said in a completely expressionless tone.
Then Ginny understood; something had changed. Vernon was up and making the decisions again.
Aunt Petunia's icy expression didn't falter, but Dudley looked away, the guilt evident in his demeanor. Harry shrugged his shoulders and handed his aunt the car keys. "We'll take a cab back to Privet Drive and head back to school from there." Aunt Petunia started to turn to go back inside when Harry added, "I'd like to see him before we go."
"He's still very weak," Petunia said, unsure how to handle the situation.
"It won't take long." Harry spoke in a flat tone that didn't fool Ginny for a second.
"All right. Dudley, you wait here with Miss Weasley," Petunia said in a worried voice.
Ginny was worried too. She wanted to come with him, but she remembered the rule about only two visitors at a time. She could tell that Harry was upset inside and that he needed her. Then she realized that she still had the invisibility cloak in her bag. "Which way to the girl's room?" she asked Dudley.
Harry waited as Aunt Petunia talked to the doctor outside of Uncle Vernon's room. His insides were a sea of conflicting emotions. He had wanted to ask this question for sixteen years, and this looked like his last chance. Finally the doctor nodded his head to something Petunia said and they were allowed inside. Harry was so surprised by the sight of Uncle Vernon sitting up but still hooked to a myriad of medical devices that he didn't notice how long it took the door to close. He sat in the chair facing the bed and tried hard to remain calm.
"Well, you wanted to see me like this. I hope you are gratified," Vernon growled. It indeed seemed that he had gotten his strength back.
Harry looked down and shook his head. He'd never be able to say this. What was he thinking? Just then he felt something. An invisible hand gripped his shoulder, comforting him. He looked up to where he knew Ginny must be and smiled slightly. With new resolve, he looked at his Uncle. "I need to ask you something." A trace of emotion began to show on his face. "In the sixteen years we've lived together, have you ever loved me?"
Vernon gazed down at Harry in silence for a very long time before saying in an flat tone, "I gave you credit for more sense, boy."
The flicker of emotion in Harry's eyes went out like a light, and he felt his insides start to harden when the hand on his shoulder tightened in a reassuring way. It was enough, the hardness melted and a sort of sad calm came over him instead. "I see," he said, getting up. "Well, I have something for you." He reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a thick plain brown envelope, and handed it to Aunt Petunia. "Two hundred thousand pounds. I believe that should compensate you for taking me in."
Petunia looked shocked, but Vernon's expression remained unchanged. "I'll be living with the Weasleys' after my graduation until I get a job, so I guess this is goodbye," Harry said calmly.
Aunt Petunia opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something, but Uncle Vernon cut her off. "Well, goodbye then."
Without looking back Harry walked out the door, holding it open an extra second to let Ginny out. The hallway back to the lobby was deserted so Ginny came out from under the cloak. "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry." she said, wrapping her arms around him and laying her head on his chest.
"It's OK," he said, stroking her hair. "It doesn't …"
"Don't say, 'It doesn't matter.' They're your family. It does matter."
By way of a response, Harry put his hand under her chin to lift her face to his and kissed her. It was a gentle and surprisingly deep kiss and Ginny seemed to feel it all the way to her toes.
When their lips parted he whispered, "It doesn't matter, because that part of my life is in the past." He gently brushed her cheek. "What matters now is the future, and the only thing I know for sure is that I want you in it…if you'll have me." Ginny couldn't have answered if she wanted to, so he kissed her again.
When they left the Coronary Care Unit Harry and Ginny ran into Dudley.
"So I guess you're not coming home this summer," Dudley said uncomfortably.
"No I'll be heading off on my own after school," Harry responded, a note of resignation in his voice.
Dudley couldn't quite meet his eyes when he spoke. "I'm starting Pembroke next fall. If you could give me an address, I could send you a Christmas card or something."
Harry smiled slightly and scribbled the muggle address of The Leaky Cauldron onto a piece of paper. "Just send it here and I'll get it," he said, giving it to him.
"Right then, thanks." Dudley still looked down slightly. Then Harry held out his hand.
Dudley glanced up, mildly surprised, and took his hand. "You take care of yourself then," Harry said smiling. "And take care of them too."
"I will," Dudley said in a serious tone, and for the first time he felt like the man he would have to become.
Harry held Ginny's hand as they walked threw the hospital lobby. He started to say, "I'll call for a cab, and we can go back to school once we get to…"
"Harry! Hey, Harry!" a voice cried out from behind them.
Harry and Ginny turned around to see Dennis and Colin Creevey rushing up to them. "We've just seen our dad. I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank you," Dennis said quickly, and from his eyes Harry could tell that he had probably been crying.
"It was nothing, we just happened to be in the right place to help," Harry said, putting his arm around Ginny. "How's your dad?"
"He's OK, thanks to you two," Colin said, looking at Ginny. "Dr. McGonagall wants to keep him overnight so a Ministry healer can have a look at him."
"What about the others?" Ginny asked.
"Already had their memories modified and sent home by the Ministry. They were told one of the vats exploded," Colin said with a smile.
"Exploding milk?" Harry asked skeptically.
"Well, you did leave quite a mess you know." Colin shook his head. "Which reminds me…" he reached into his jacket and pulled out a thin shaft of wood. "They gave me this to pass on to you."
"My wand!" Harry exclaimed. "Thanks, I thought I'd lost it for good that time." He took the wand and examined it closely, before tucking it in his pocket.
"Did they find the other wand too?" Ginny asked thoughtfully.
"Yeah, said that it was stolen or something," Dennis replied.
"Of course." Harry looked at Ginny knowingly. "Untraceable."
Colin watched the two of them for a moment before asking, "Do you know who it was?"
Harry thought about his opponent last night. The cold gray eyes, the drawling voice and lazy elegance of the movements; yes he knew who that was. "They were wearing masks," he said simply.
"We better get back upstairs and see dad," Dennis said, smiling. "Thanks again, Harry."
"Harry, if there's anything I can do to help, just let me know," Colin said, with an uncharacteristic edge to his voice. Harry nodded and the two brothers headed for the elevators.
"You didn't tell him it was Malfoy," Ginny said after they left.
"We don't have any proof the Ministry could accept, and without that proof the knowledge would just get them into trouble," he replied. "We should get going."
Ron rushed down the corridor toward the one place he was sure he could find Hermione. He burst into the library, getting a dark look from Madam Pince for the disturbance. It took only a few minutes searching to find a suspiciously high wall of books at the end of a secluded table near the back. As he approached the end of the table he could just see the top of Hermione's head behind a book. He took out his letter and began to fumble with it as he sat down next to her. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, but still didn't look up from her book. He glanced at the opened letter in his hand and tried to form his thoughts into an acceptable apology.
"I'm sorry," Hermione's voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked at her in surprise, but she still had her face hidden behind her book. "I shouldn't have been so pushy." Hermione laid her unread book on the table and starred down at it. "I know you still have a life." Sighing, Ron placed the opened letter on the book she was looking at. "I shouldn't expect you to share everything with me just because of one night. I just… I…" her eyes fell on the letter "Oh… oh God! Ron?"
"I didn't want you to see it because I couldn't think how to tell you. I wasn't expecting to hear from them until after school." he said, feeling both deceitful and stupid.
At the top of the letter was the seal of the Ministry of Magical Law Enforcement. The long and rather pompous letter was pretty much summed up in the first few lines.
"Dear Mr. Weasley, Your application to become an Auror has been accepted. You will please report to the Isle of Avalon on October 21st to begin your training."
"Oh Ron, are you sure? This is so dangerous!" Hermione got up and began to pace back and forth in front of the table. "In the last twenty months over half the Ministry's Aurors have been killed. It's been a bloodbath out there. Do you think you'll be able to face the Deatheaters and there allies with only twelve weeks of training on Avalon?"
"Eight weeks," he said, picking up his letter and folding it. "They've accelerated the training. I think they need us now."
She covered her mouth with her hand. "Why? There are other things you could do in the fight against the dark side! Why this?" she whispered.
"Percy," he responded in a flat tone. She sat back down and wrapped her arms around herself as Ron spoke. "I know we didn't get along, and I didn't have much good to say about him, but he was my brother and I loved him."
"I know you did." she said in a weak voice. Tears filled her eyes as she remembered her former school mate. It seemed to her that the world was catching up to them faster than she expected. "Does Harry know?"
"No, only Mum and Dad know. Fred and George wanted to close the shop and join up too, but the thought of all three of us becoming Aurors made Mum so hysterical that Dad bought them that store front in Hogsmeade," he said, a crooked smile crossing his face "You should have been there last Christmas. Mum and Dad were both trying desperately to get Fred and George to be less serious and start making jokes."
"That must have been something." Hermione smiled at this image despite her tears. She reached out to stroke his face before pulling him to her in a tight embrace. "Ron, I'm scared. I couldn't lose you, not now," she whispered.
"I know, I'm scared too, but we still have time," he said, stroking the back of her head. He really just wanted to comfort her but the smell of her hair and the now familiar feel of her body next to his reawakened his desire. He mentally chastised himself for his selfishness and continued to stroke her gently.
"We should make the best of it," she whispered back before pulling him to her in a soft kiss. With the touch of his lips her fear and shock melted away. As they continued to kiss, Hermione could feel the warmth rising in Ron's skin and the longing in his embrace. Amazed at her own appetite she pressed herself against him and felt his body respond. "Where?" she asked breathlessly.
"Behind the mirror on the fourth floor," he responded, passion radiating from his eyes. "There's part of a tunnel there."
She smiled hungrily at him before whispering "How convenient."
"Let me grab a few things and I'll meet you there." He got up smiled broadly at Madam Pince before striding jauntily out of the library.
Ginny had finished cleaning up the house and repacked her bag when she realized she didn't know where Harry was. She was sure he hadn't left without her, and the house wasn't that big. She was just about to call for him when she noticed a small door just under the staircase was open a crack. She pulled the door open to find Harry laying on a small bed. He was staring at the ceiling with an opened letter laying on his chest. Ginny knew what that letter was, had known ever since she saw the seal of the Ministry of Magical Law Enforcement on it. She ducked her head to enter the small space and sat on the end of the bed.
"You lived in here for ten years?" she asked, looking around.
"It was a lot bigger back then," he responded, and almost smiled.
She looked down and tried to collect her thoughts. "That's an offer to become an Auror, isn't it?" she said at last.
"Yes," he said simply.
"Did Dad ask you to apply?"
"I asked him."
She gave him a look that reminded him so much of Mrs. Weasley that it made him uncomfortable. "It could be said that I have been doing the work of an Auror for the past year or so, and it was about time I got paid for it," he said with a smile.
At any other time Harry's dry humor would have made Ginny smile, but not now. She looked at him and said in a small voice. "You know that if Riddle wanted you dead before…"
"This will mean war," he finished the thought for her. He leaned forward to sit next to her. "I don't think I could get out of this fight even if I wanted to," he said softly, then his gentle voice turned hard as he finished his thought. "And I don't want to!" The hand that was holding the letter closed into a fist, crumpling the parchment in one swift motion. "Voldemort has had it his own way up till now; that's going to stop." Looking at him, Ginny's breath caught in her throat. His green eyes burned and he had that same look of determined rage that he had outside the dairy. "I'll understand if you don't want to be a part of that," he sighed, closing his eyes.
By way of an answer Ginny placed her arms around Harry's neck and pulled him to her in a long passionate kiss. Harry had been kissed before but never by someone that he cared this much for. The difference that made was amazing. As he wrapped his arms around her he felt as if all his secret pain and fear were being sucked out of him. Part of him was afraid of being so exposed, but the joy and freedom of it overpowered him. They paused to look into each others eyes before resuming their enthusiastic kissing.
Ginny's heart was pounding as she gazed into his emerald eyes. A dam was bursting inside of her and the flood of feelings that was being released swept her away. The taste of him was intoxicating as he pulled her close for another deep kiss. She closed her eyes and lifted her head back as his lips moved to the base of her neck, gently kissing a path from her ear to her shoulder. When he lightly nipped her neck, a jolt of pleasure shot through her causing a shudder. Holding his arms, she leaned back to get more room to pleasure him in return. Following no real plan, she began kissing his neck to his chest, enjoying the sound of his shuddering breath. Ginny's fingers entwined his hair and she pulled him down to her. Her lips meet his in another long burning kiss.
A sudden realization of where this was going dawned on Ginny. She was lying on a bed with Harry on top of her, kissing him.
In a way it was just as she always dreamed, but this was different, this was real. She wasn't kissing a legend: she was kissing Harry. The same Harry she would see in school tomorrow, her brother's best friend. She didn't want to give Harry the impression that she was ready for something she wasn't, so she shifted to the edge of the bed under the pretext of getting more comfortable. She hoped he would pick up on her signal and not be mad.
Harry put his finger under her chin and lifted her face back to his. "If it doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't right. At least not now," Harry said, looking down into her eyes. "But that doesn't mean my feelings have changed."
A wave of relief ran through Ginny. She pulled him to her in a soft embrace. "We can pick this up later, if you like," she said.
"And we'll take it only as far you want," he smiled.
"I do love you, Harry," she whispered into his shoulder.
"I love you too, Ginny," he responded softly.
When Harry and Ginny walked arm in arm into the Gryffindor common room later that evening, it was almost empty. As expected, Harry saw Ron and Hermione sitting at their table working through a large stack of books, but something looked different. It wasn't until Harry noticed that Ron was sitting next to Hermione, rather than his usual place across from her, that he saw the change in body language between them. He had just enough time to wonder what this meant when Ron looked up and spotted the two of them.
"Hey Harry, back already?" Ron said in a friendly tone, but his eyebrow raised when he saw Harry's arm around his little sister. "So, how did it go?"
"Great," Harry said, feeling slightly uncomfortable as he realized that Ron could read body language too. "Oh, except for what happened with the Creeveys' dad."
"Yea, we heard a little about that." Ron's tone was a little less friendly and his eyes were narrowed. "Anything else interesting happen?"
"No, not really," Harry responded in a would-be innocent voice and picked up one of the books. "So, what are we working on?"
"Well, you three probably have a lot of studying to do," Ginny said in a mischievous tone. "So I guess I'll just leave you to it." With that, she pulled Harry to her in long wet kiss. "I'm heading upstairs," she said to a stunned Ron. "I didn't get much sleep this weekend."
"Apparently, no one did," Hermione said, shaking with laughter.
"I'll see you tomorrow, love," Ginny said as she bounced up the stairs.
Harry sank into a chair across from Ron and Hermione and gave them a kind of guilty smile.
Ron pointed his quill at him. "Harry, what exactly…"
"Ron, you aren't really going to ask Harry what his intentions are, are you?" Hermione asked, a little amused.
"Well, yeah. Why not?" he responded in an indignant manner.
"Because Harry has been like your brother for seven years and you should trust him to make Ginny happy," she said, smiling.
"I guess you're right. Sorry Harry," he mumbled.
"And after what happened all last night and most of this afternoon," she cooed in an innocent voice. "It might sound a little hypocritical."
Ron averted his eyes and his ears turned red. Harry's eyes widened and an evil grin crossed his face.
"You and Ron?.." Harry whispered.
Hermione nodded enthusiastically
"You'll probably be reading about it in the Daily Prophet at this rate," Ron said, covering his eyes and shaking his head. "Minister of Magic's Son Despoils Hogwarts Head Girl in Forest."
"Well, it's about time," Harry sighed in relief. "Maybe the future isn't so bleak after all." Just then a group of fourth years sat down at a table near them and nothing more was said about it.
After a few hours of half-hearted studying, it was Harry's turn to go to the library for a fresh supply of books. Striding down the main hall avoiding the occasional first year, he spotted a familiar figure striding down the hall in the opposite direction. The two gave no indication that they had seen each other until their eyes locked.
Harry stared into those cold gray eyes as they passed each other.
"Next time, Potter," the eyes seemed to say to him.
"Count on it, Malfoy," Harry's green eyes flashed in response.