035. Heat

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Everything's full of dust inside her mother's old bedroom, sending up thick, noxious clouds.

"We had to rebuild after the Second War," Ginny murmurs, giving a forlorn look to her childhood things — faded, wrinkled Quidditch posters and enchanted toys and a litter of broken quills.

Somehow in the chaos, the Burrow has stood up against the test of time. Magic, Alba reminds herself, gazing out the window absently and twisting the ends of her jet-black curls, that's what keeps this ramshackled ole pigpen upright.

The orchard and flutterby bushes across the way are no longer vibrant and colourful and green, and now picturesque with fresh, pearly snowfall.

"Come on, love," Ginny says with a furrow in her brow. She touches the middle of Alba's shoulder-blades with her palm, leading them towards the kitchen. It's only a passing thought, but Alba thinks the memories can be too painful for her mum.

She can admit it — Alba was never especially close to her dad Harry Potter, despite inheriting his untamed hair, green eyes, and light brown skin, but instead attached herself to Ginny Weasley-Potter and her favourite aunt Hermione Jean Granger. Hermione was her idol, and a true, living hero.

Harry Potter's legacy seemingly landed on his only son. And for that, Alba feels a tad grateful.

There's loads more clutter on the tabletops — outdated, huge magical recipe and cookbooks, dirtied stacks of plates, washrags and parchment.

"How did your exams go?" Ginny asks conversationally, rolling up her jumper-sleeves.

Alba pauses from tossing away the nearest rubbish into a floating waste-bag. She flushes.

"Uh… Exceeds Expectations in Charms…?"

"How about Potions?" At the long, awkward silence, punctuated only by the frantic bag-rustling, Ginny's freckled face lifts into a knowing, soft smile. "Don't worry, Alba. Your father was never very good at it eith—"

Her sharp, luminously green eyes narrow.

"I'm not Dad—" she snaps.

Ginny winces.

"I didn't mean to say it like that, Alba," she apologises, dropping her wand and rushing in, cradling her hands gently against Alba's cheeks. "Believe me. I'm not holding you, or your brother, or your sister up to any of their ridiculous standards," Ginny reassures her. "That's not how I wanted you raised. You being in Slytherin is a blessing actually…"

"It is?" Alba mutters with an uncertain look.

"You're have a chance to show everyone the kind of person you want to be. You can help get rid of the black stain on your House. Not all Slytherins were Death Eaters when I was young, and not all of them now worship or sympathise with that ugly past."

Ginny's pale, freckled thumbs slide across her daughter's chin, as she lets go with another, thinner smile.

"There's a lot of shame and remorse from the older generation and the newer. Or so I'm told," Ginny explains further, staring over Alba with obvious compassion. "I talked with Scorpia's mum before her passing, and she was so bright and hopeful about her daughter's future…"

A lump rises suddenly in her throat. Alba tries to gulp it down, sternly rubbing her watering eyes. The funeral has already happened — stop crying.

"Just be proud of who you are," Ginny whispers loudly, kissing the top of her daughter's head.

Alba sniffles, hugging her back.

"… Yes, mum."

A thunderous, cracking noise echoes through the Burrow, almost rattling the windows. Alba jerks her head up, instinctively racing for the front door.

She hears her mum yelling for her, and ignores it.

At the end of the walkway, marching in a pile of snow and wrapped in layers of dark, finely-stitched robes, Scorpia grins and waves to her. Apparating came to her girlfriend without difficulty, and Alba is only a little bit jealous of her for it.

It's a clumsy, stumbling run. The closer she gets, the more she can see the white snowflakes landing in Scorpia's neatly trimmed, silver hair. How the cold already pinkens the tips of her ears.

Alba's grin widens deviously as soon as they're barely metres apart. She lifts a squawking, bewildered Scorpia into the air, keeping eye-contact and giggling, spinning them on her toes.

Slowly, very slowly, Alba lowers her, bumping their noses together. "None of you looks Splinched," she says idly, raising an eyebrow.

"You haven't checked all of me…"

There's a faint, heady rasp to Scorpia's voice, and her intentions are clear as she gathers up Alba's hands and places them on her bum, kissing her.

Scorpia feels like a burning furnace to the cold, frosty gusts of breath escaping their lips.

"Later," Alba murmurs, giggling briefly again into another wet, hungry kiss, relocating her hands dutifully to Scorpia's torso. "Mm, Scor. Later. I'm pretty sure my mum is watching us."

She confirms with a slight hand-wave, as Ginny returns it from the Burrow's entrance. Scorpia's expression goes pink to a deep, mottled red.

"You could have SAID something—"

Her girlfriend continues to argue with her from the gates to the front door, lightly pushing on Alba's shoulder at the silent, teasing glance.

Alba wouldn't have her life any other way.

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Harry Potter isn't mine. AS/S IS CANON AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE. This is JKR's fault for naming them like this and putting them in the same House, and then writing the Cursed Child. Lord, okay, I'm just here to ship them. And also, don't complain about the genderswap because I love this concept and it turned out so good in my head AND when I wrote it. Otherwise, I'll be glad to hear thoughts/comments about this fic! Thank you!