Author's note:

Here begins book III of the Children of the Flame Saga

As always, it all belongs to JKR. I own nothing.


HPHPHP


Children of the Flame Saga

Book III: Flame's Final Burning

Chapter I

Hermione Topped the List


Harry and Ginny fought their way through the mass of students congregated on the Hogsmeade station platform. Ron's and Hermione's prefect status had dictated the need for them to arrive much earlier to help organize students for the carriage – or boat ride if you were a first year – to the castle so the two were in search of Neville and Luna and hoped to hold a carriage for all six of them to ride up in. Ginny had been somewhat disappointed to not receive a prefect's badge in her school letter, but given that she and Harry couldn't be separated for her to do rounds it made sense. Truthfully, while part of her wanted the badge, a bigger part was relieved not to have it. Like Harry, she had enough to be going on without that workload being added to her life.

Harry spotted Neville waving from in front of the carriage he was guarding. Luna was calmly feeding the thestrals bits of meat from her hand. "There they are," Harry said.

Ginny giggled. "Seems like guarding the carriage is a bit unnecessary."

Harry chuckled. The rest of the students were giving the carriage a wide berth. "The more I get to know her the more I start wondering how much of what she does is real and how much of it is an act."

"Oh, I'm pretty certain it's all genuine," Ginny answered. "At the same time I'm dead certain feeding bits of bloody meat to invisible creatures is completely calculated to ensuring no one else wants to ride in that carriage."

"It'll probably go a long way to getting her housemates to leave her alone for a while as well," Harry observed.

"She's always been brilliant," Ginny agreed.

"Hey, Neville," Harry greeted his friend with a back thumping embrace.

"All right?" Neville asked. He turned to hug Ginny as well.

"Ready for a new year," Ginny answered. She turned to Luna who was letting the thestrals lick the last bits of blood from her fingers. "Hello, Luna."

She cast a quick cleaning charm on her hand and skipped over to the others, enveloping Ginny and Harry in a tight hug. "Hello. I'm glad to see the slurphurples didn't affect your floo trip."

"She's also entirely crazy," Ginny said.

Harry chuckled. "It was a bit touchy there for a bit. I thought we might end up with our feet reversed, but we ended up just fine."

Luna let them go, focusing on Harry. "That's just silly, Harry. Everyone knows slurphurples think it's funny to switch the genitals of people who floo travel together." Neville started coughing while Harry and Ginny goggled at her. "It happened to mum and daddy once. I think before I was born." She clambered up into carriage. "I'm not certain, but I may have been conceived before they managed to straighten themselves out." The other three just stared at the empty doorway of the carriage till she poked her head back out. "Are you coming?"

Harry shook himself and exchanged looks with Neville and Ginny. They just blinked dazedly back at him. "Remind me to never floo in tandem with anyone ever again."

"Yeah," Neville agreed. Ginny nodded

The three made to join Luna in the carriage and Harry was just about to follow Neville and Ginny in when a voice stopped him. "Hello, Harry."

"Oh hell," he muttered.

"That's another favor you owe me, Potter," Ginny laughed.

"Not yet it isn't," he countered as he turned around. "Hello, Cho. How was your summer?"

"It will be in another few seconds," Ginny taunted. "I'm thinking spa day."

Cho shrugged. "It was ok. And yours?"

"Best and worst of my life," Harry answered. She frowned, not quite sure what to make of his answer. Harry spotted Ron and Hermione making their way to them. "Well it looks like everything's about ready so I'll see you later." He turned to climb in the carriage.

"You could ride with me and my friends if you like," Cho said.

"HA!" Ginny crowed.

Harry sighed and turned around. "Cho, I don't want to be mean, but I told you I wasn't interested anymore. That hasn't changed. Nor will it."

"You can't seriously still be with Weasley," she snapped.

"What's wrong with my sister?" Ron demanded.

"Ron," Hermione said, "Harry is perfectly capable of handling this without your help." She pushed him past the two and up into the carriage.

Harry focused on Cho. "You're a pretty girl, Cho. But I've figured out you and I were never going to work. He held his hand up, showing the wedding band to her. "It's not like you're not going to find out so I'll tell you. Ginny and I are married. You can believe whatever you want about that but the fact is she and I are together and that is never going to change."

She stared at him for a few seconds before snorting. "Married! That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You're not even seventeen and she's even younger."

Harry shrugged. "Like I said. Believe whatever you want." He turned and climbed into the carriage.

"Fine, Potter!" she shouted. "I figured I'd give you a chance to come to your senses but it seems you're even dumber than I thought." Harry rolled his eyes and closed the door on her rant. "Don't come running to me when you finally wake up!"

Harry leaned over and pecked Ginny on the lips. "As if," he muttered.

"Jealousy really is ugly," Luna sighed. "I mean did you see me get all angry when the people I wanted to kiss started dating someone else? No. I was happy for them and found someone else to think about kissing."

"DON'T ASK!" Harry and Ginny cried.

"Who did you want to kiss?" Neville asked. Harry and Ginny groaned. Hermione looked like a deer caught in wandlight while Ron simply looked like whatever Luna said, would implode his head.

"Well for the longest time I wanted to kiss Ginevra."

"WHAT!" Ginny yelped.

"But I've always known she was meant for someone else. And then, because I spent so much time with her, I thought about kissing all her brothers." Ginny snickered and bit her fist to keep from laughing outright. "Except for Percy. I never really liked him. He has a terrible infestation of wrackspurts you know." Harry nodded sagely. He couldn't remember if it was wrackspurts or fwooperfumps that ate brain cells but one or the other was as good an explanation for the git as anything. "I settled on Ron for the longest time."

"ME?" Ron cried. He pushed himself as far from Luna as was possible to and remain in the carriage.

"But then you started dating Hermione which was really distressing because of everyone I wanted to kiss in the past, Hermione topped the list."

"Oh dear," Hermione croaked, turning scarlet.

Luna focused on Neville. "Recently though, I've thought it might really be nice to kiss you." Before he could say or do anything she leaned in and pressed her lips to his. After a few seconds she pulled back. "We'll find someplace later and you can try kissing me back … I'm fairly certain that will make it better." Shell-shocked was about the only word that could describe the other five occupants of the carriage as Luna settled back in her seat. "I do hope there's cake tonight. I've been craving it ever since your wedding, Ginevra."


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Harry sat down next to Ginny at the Gryffindor table. Hermione, Ron and Neville all still wore a shell-shocked expression and seemed to have a difficult time looking at each other without turning red. "Well that was an interesting ride," Ginny said.

Harry just shook his head. "Frankly I'm a bit hurt by the whole thing."

Ginny frowned. "For what possible reason?"

"Well, I'm the only one she didn't want to kiss." Ginny jabbed him in the side. "And let's face it, the girl is rather attractive."

"Waaatch it."

"And we already know she's got the body type I like," Harry continued to wind her up.

"Oddly enough she'd be my type as well. And wouldn't you know it, she did want to kiss me," Ginny countered.

Harry ignored her. "Sweet Merlin, what is she up to now?"

"Who?"

"Luna. She's talking to Dumbledore." Ron, Hermione and Neville all turned so they could see as well. The conversation went on for another few moments before Dumbledore seemed to agree with whatever she was speaking with him about. Luna turned and beamed at them before skipping to the Ravenclaw table. She sat down in a space of empty seats and promptly pulled an issue of the Quibbler from her bag.

"Now I'm really feeling bad about leaving her behind," Ginny muttered.

Harry squeezed her hand. "We'll just have to make sure to spend as much time with her outside of class as we can."

"Girl is mental," Ron muttered.

"Ron," Hermione said. He just raised an eye at her. "She is a bit … different," Hermione conceded.

"Un-hun," Ron grunted. He glanced down the table. "You'd think they could at least put out some bread," he sighed. He'd no more than finished speaking than a basket appeared on the table in front of him. He stared at it for about five seconds before grumbling. "Six years it took us to figure this out?"

Ginny grabbed a roll. "Hey, we're ahead of the twins."

"True," Ron agreed. He grabbed a couple rolls and offered the basket to Hermione. "What do you suppose the chances of getting a glass of water are?"

"Pretty good, I'd say," Harry said when a glass appeared in front of Ron.

Ron eyed the glass for a second. "How about some roast beef?"

"Ron!" Hermione cried.

"Chocolate cake?" Ginny asked.

"Ginny!"

"Nice try, mate," Harry chuckled. Ron just grinned and shrugged.

"Hey, where'd you get rolls?" Dean demanded. He made a grab at the basket but Ron wrapped an arm around it, blocking him. "Come on Weasley."

"This one's ours, get your own, Thomas."

Ginny grabbed another roll and shouted across the hall. "Luna!" She let rip and almost without thinking Luna reached up and caught the flying dinner roll.

"Thank you, Ginevra."

"Damn!" Ron said, impressed with both his sister's arm and Luna's catch.

Unfortunately Ginny had the misfortune of letting go just as Professor McGonagall pushed open the doors of the great hall with the year's crop of first years in tow. "Mrs. Potter!" Professor McGonagall snapped. In less than an instant the entire hall fell silent.

"Oh hell," Ginny groaned.

"Ten points and detention tomorrow night, Mrs. Potter," Professor McGonagall bit out.

"Double damn," Ron sighed when Harry held his hand out. He dug a galleon out of his pocket and handed it over.

"Yes, Professor," Ginny said contritely.

"And, as you seem incapable of dealing with the privilege of having something to eat during the sorting we shall take it away." In a blink the rolls, including the one in Ron's hand, and water goblets in front of the five Gryffindors disappeared. Harry did his best to keep the smirk off his face as Ginny slouched lower in her seat. "You find this amusing Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall demanded.

Harry snorted. "Honestly?" She glowered at him but he was fairly certain the corner of her lip twitched upwards. "I'll speak with my wife about her behavior," he offered. There was collective gasp from nearly every student in the great hall. That Professor McGonagall had called Ginny Mrs. Potter twice hadn't gone unnoticed, but Harry also calling her his wife only pushed the shock factor further. Professor McGonagall actually smirked at him and her eyes positively sparkled with mirth.

"You do that, Mr. Potter."

"Yes ma'am," he answered. He turned his attention back to his group of friends to find that Hermione, Ron and Neville had vacated the area. Turning to his left he found Ginny to no longer be attempting to sink into the floor.

"You'll speak with me, will you?"

Harry just grinned. "I've been very bad, haven't I?" Ginny raised a brow at him. "I'm going to be punished, aren't I?"

"Severely," Ginny said. She tried to make it sound angry but couldn't keep her amusement from seeping in.

Harry leaned in and pecked her lips. "I can hardly wait."

"Ahem," Professor McGonagall cleared her throat.

Harry took Ginny's hand as he turned to his head of house. "Sorry, Professor, carry on," he said, waving her on with his other hand.

"Harry Potter," Hermione hissed.

"Indeed," Professor McGonagall said imperiously. "First years, follow me. She marched up to the front of the hall with the terrified children stumbling after her. They crowded as close to the Ravenclaw table as they could, trying to keep as far from Harry and Ginny and whatever trouble they might bring as was possible.

"Nothing like starting the year off with a bang," Harry chuckled. The sorting hat was singing its song but barely a student above first year was paying it a bit of attention.

"You do have a way about you," Ginny agreed.

"ME?" Harry demanded. "You're the one chucking dinner rolls across the hall."

"I hardly think that has anything to do with anything," Ginny retorted.

"Nope. Just the fact that you got your new name announced while breaking the record for fastest detention earned in school history."

"I did not!"

"Sure as hell did."

"You and Ron still hold that record, hands down."

Harry snorted. "Yeah, we do, don't we. Forgot about second year there."

"And what was that little bet with Ron about?"

"He was certain I'd end up in detention before you did."

"Nice," Ginny grumbled.

"Is it safe to sit here now?" Hermione interrupted them.

"Oh, yes," Ginny said. "I'm going to punish him later for that little comment."

"I can hardly wait," Harry said with a smirk.

Ron laid his head on the table with his arms over it. "I did not need to hear that," he moaned. The group fell silent as the first student was sorted into Ravenclaw. The next student went to Slytherin and then Danielle Brail was sorted into Gryffindor. Harry and Ginny leapt up and started cheering loudly.

"WOOT! WOOT!" Ginny cried, pumping her fist.

"Gryffindor! Gryffindor!" Harry chanted. The girl in question froze and stared at the two of them like they were some kind of strange magical beast she'd never seen before.

"COME ON!" Ginny hollered. She grabbed Neville by the collar and hauled him to his feet. That was all it took for Hermione to jump up and start cheering loudly with the rest of Gryffindor house following along.

"Danielle!" Harry chanted. "Danielle!" The rest of the house picked up the chant while he jumped over the table and grabbed the girl. "Well come on," he said, hauling her back with him. He plunked her down with a dozen or more of his housemates reaching to pound the girl's back or ruffle her hair.

It took another minute for the noise to die down to the point where Professor McGonagall could be heard. She glowered at Harry. "Will this continue the whole evening, Mr. Potter?"

Harry shrugged. "Can't speak for the other houses, Professor." She sighed and rolled her eyes before calling Morgan Crells forward.

"SLYTERIN!" the hat shouted. What followed, was perhaps the longest, and loudest sorting in the history of Hogwarts. Finally coming to an end when Philip Zindane was sorted into Huffelpuff.

Dumbledore waited till the cheering died down before rising to his feet. "Now, I know you are all bound to be famished after such a wonderful sorting and would like nothing more than to dig into our long awaited feast but a request has been made and I am afraid we must deal with it first. Miss Lovegood," he motioned her forward, "if you please."

She bounced up and skip/walk/floated to the stool. "Hello again, Ferdinand," she said as she plucked the sorting hat from Professor McGonagall's hands and plunked it on her head.

"Back again, eh," the hat answered.

"Yes I am. You did tell me last time I could change my mind if I wished."

"I did, didn't I?"

"Yes."

"Well I stand by my placement of you in Ravenclaw."

"You didn't place me, I chose it."

"And you now wish to make a different choice?"

"The last time we talked I chose intelligence because I was afraid of the others. Now though, I choose them all; bravery, loyalty intelligence and cunning."

"So you wish to be in all the houses then?"

"No, I wish to be with my friends."

"Friends can be fleeting."

"Loneliness is crushing."

"I have been disappointed in your housemates."

"If I were cruel or nasty, I could see why I should have to change for them to be my friends, but I'm not. I've never been anything but kind and helpful to them. I've tried, surely you can see that, yet all I get in return is cruelty."

"Yes, I do see that," the hat agreed sadly.

"So you'll let me switch houses?"

"My dear, the truth is, I have no say in the matter."

"No, I didn't think you did; not really."

"Then you truly do have the intelligence Ravenclaw valued.

"Thank you," Luna said. She stood, took the hat off and set it on the stool. Focusing on Dumbledore she calmly said, "I choose Gryffindor."

He inclined his head to her. "Very good then."

Luna turned to the Wraith of Ravenclaw. "I'm sorry."

"Intelligence sees the need for a new path. Bravery allows you to take it. To choose the company of those who value you, I cannot fault."

"Thank you," Luna said.

She turned and found Neville waiting to escort her to her new table and house. He held his hand out. "Welcome home, Luna." She smiled and swiped a tear from her cheek before taking his hand and allowing him to lead her to the Gryffindor table. Hermione and Ginny greeted her with tight embraces, followed by Harry and Ron.

"I'm really glad you're in our house," Harry said.

Luna smiled at him. "Thank you, Harry. She glanced at her other friends. "All of you." They just smiled or rested a hand on her arm or shoulder.

"Would anyone else care to revisit their sorting?" Dumbledore asked, bringing the attention of everyone in the hall back to him. Unseen by anyone else, two sisters exchanged glances. "You need not decide tonight," Dumbledore offered. The older sister gave just the barest shake of her head. "Very well then," Dumbledore said, "I think it is high time we ate." The tables filled with food and the feast was on.


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"Nox," Harry said, waving his hand towards the sconces in his and Ginny's bedroom.

After the feast Professor McGonagall had shown them and Hermione to their new quarters. Not even the Marauders had found this area of the castle; probably because there had been no married students attending during their time. The wing was behind a hidden archway – the passageway appeared in the wall – much like the entry from the Leaky Cauldron to Diagon Ally did – in a little used hallway of the castle. They'd left the exploration of a private courtyard they would share with Hermione till morning, but had thoroughly explored their suite. It wasn't large by any means; a bedroom, sitting room and bath was the extent of it but it was cozy. They had a nice table at which they could do their schoolwork or take meals if they chose. There was a nice fireplace with two chairs and a couch they would be able to cuddle together on when winter set in. Their bedroom was home to a queen sized four-poster bed and two armoires for their clothing. Their bath housed the requisite toilet, vanity and shower as well as a good sized tub. The last particularly thrilled Ginny. Showers were good for getting clean but there was nothing like a good soak. It was functional and nice and it was theirs; their first home together. They were paying for it – despite her parents' protests – making their way in the world together and they were both, equal parts, thrilled and frightened of what the next nine months or so would bring.

The room was plunged into darkness with just a bit of moonlight streaming through the window to guide him to the bed. He climbed under the covers and spooned behind his wife, pulling her tightly to him. "Hi," he said kissing the back of her head.

Ginny rolled, pushing him to his back she straddled his hips. "Hi back," she whispered against his lips. He groaned and she moved in, kissing him soundly. Late as it was, with classes not starting for another day yet, they had no reason to be up early and she fully intended to take advantage of really and truly being alone with him.

"Gin," Harry groaned.

"Please," she pleaded. She still had her shirt and knickers on and he still wore his boxers but pressing would be more than enough if he would just allow it.

"I'm going to–" he gasped.

She pushed down on him again and cried, "Harry." His hands grabbed her bottom, pulling her hard against him. She felt him go while the waves ripped through her body, slowly sliding from euphoria to bliss as she collapsed down on top of him. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she whispered between soft kisses to his neck.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," he answered.


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Author's note:

Conclusion: Maybe Luna should try out for a chaser position.

As always, thank you to all my readers. And a special thank you to those who have reviewed. I do appreciate hearing from you.

Sorcerer's Muse