Whoo! This one came out rather fast. Don't worry BoL fans, I'm not giving up on that story, I've just got a nasty bit of writer's block on it, so I'm writing this while the muse sticks with me.
This chapter's pretty short, but I've still got the Weasley family confrontation coming up, and that's next chapter, as well as the first Order meeting and the reunion with Remus. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a long chapter, and I've already started on it.
Huge thank you goes out to JC-S and Yavin, for their outstanding help and support.
Disclaimer: see prologue
The next morning, Harry awoke to find himself alone in the hospital wing. He supposed Ginny had left either after he fell asleep the night before, or early in the morning.
Just as he started wondering where she'd gotten off to, his stomach let out an enormous rumble, reminding him he hadn't eaten at all when he'd woken up the day before.
As if in answer to his thoughts, Ginny came through the double doors just then, bearing a tray of bacon, eggs, toast, and two glasses of pumpkin juice.
"Hey," she said cheerfully, flashing him her most brilliant smile. "Thought you might be hungry, so I went down to the kitchens and scrounged up a few things."
Harry could feel his mouth beginning to water at the smell of freshly-fried bacon and scrambled eggs. "Thanks," he said hastily, as she set the tray down on his lap.
He handed her one of the two plates set upon it, then dug into his own with gusto. After only a few eager bites, a soft giggle distracted him.
He turned to where Ginny was seated in a chair by his bed, his fork pausing halfway to his mouth. She had her hand over her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter. "What?" he asked self-consciously.
Forcing herself to calm down, she replied, "I was just thinking that you're acting like my brother Ron."
He grunted, knowing very well it was an insult from the various stories she'd told him about her family. He decided not to dignify the comment with a retort, and went back to his own food.
Once he was finished, he eyed Ginny's half-finished plate hungrily.
She smiled and shook her head ruefully. "You really are as bad as him. Go ahead, I'm finished." She handed him her plate.
He held her eye for a moment, making certain she really didn't want any more. She nodded, and he couldn't control it any more. He dug in again, hungrily.
When both plates were empty, he set them aside and leaned back, sighing contentedly. "I can't believe I was so hungry," he said.
"Well it's been quite some time since you last ate," Ginny replied, laughing.
They lapsed into silence, each unsure of what to say or how to act regarding their new relationship.
After a few moments, exasperated at himself, Harry patted the bed next to him. "C'mere, Gin."
She complied, settling herself down next to him hesitantly. He put one arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him, and she stiffened immediately. She soon relaxed, however, melting into him and resting her head on his shoulder.
"We shouldn't be awkward about this," said Harry, trying to quell the nervous butterflies that seemed intent on eating his stomach from the inside out. "We have nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Let's try not to be uncomfortable, okay?"
"Okay, Harry," she murmured, smiling up at him.
The silence was more comfortable this time, as they simply sat and enjoyed one another's presence. Harry decided to bring up the subject of her family again, after a few minutes.
"Gin, about your family . . ."
"No," she stated firmly, fixing her stern gaze on him. "I know what you're going to say, and I refuse. I'm not leaving you until you're well. I'll go and see them when you can come with me."
"Now that'll be a fun meeting," Harry muttered with a grimace.
She smiled encouragingly and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry; I don't intend to let my family kill my new boyfriend." As soon as she said it, she clamped a hand over her mouth and flushed red with embarrassment. She tried to scoot away from him, but he just held on to her tighter.
"Ginny," he said warningly, "We agreed that we'd try to overcome this awkwardness. You have no reason to be embarrassed. I'd love to be your boyfriend, and I hope you want to be my girlfriend. That's basically what we said last night, only without any specific titles."
She relaxed again as he spoke, leaning on him once more. "Okay, I like the idea of you introducing me as 'your girlfriend,' I just wasn't sure if it was too soon to say something like that."
A smile reassured her that it wasn't, and he returned to the original subject of conversation. "Anyway, as I was saying, I don't think even you can stop all eight of the other members of your family from attacking me."
There was silence for a short minute, as she considered this. Eventually, she shrugged. "That's true. I suppose Professor Dumbledore will have to come with us to explain things to them."
Harry felt better after she said that. The Weasleys had seemed to place a lot of trust in Dumbledore. Perhaps the aging headmaster would be able to diffuse the situation if it got out of hand.
The conversation turned to less disturbing things then, as Harry and Ginny sat and talked about everything and nothing, content to simply enjoy being together for a time.
Madame Pomfrey came in around mid-morning, ordering Ginny off the bed so she could force several potions down Harry's throat.
After informing them that Professor Dumbledore was busy and would drop by to see them again that afternoon, she reminded Harry in no uncertain terms that was not to attempt to leave his bed or overexert himself in any way.
With a last suspicious glare, she returned to her office, leaving Ginny to clamber back onto the bed with Harry.
They were still sitting that way when Sirius walked in a short time later, looking like he'd just gotten out of bed. Which, Harry reminded himself, he probably had, since they hadn't seen him all morning.
Sirius was dragging his feet a bit, blinking slowly in the bright light that shone through the many large windows. When he spotted them sitting so close together on the bed, however, all trace of weariness vanished.
"You two look cozy," he said, as he walked quickly over to the foot of the bed, smirking. "When did that happen?"
Ginny flushed, but Harry glared at his godfather. "You should know, you meddling old man," he said.
"I'm not old. I'm only thirty-six," Sirius replied, trying to feign hurt. His smug smile gave him away. "I thought I was rather clever, actually."
"Clever? Sure," Harry said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "You're lucky I'm feeling really happy right now. Even as it is, I'm trying to decide whether or not to hex you so hard you won't remember if you're Padfoot or Sirius." He tried to hold it, he really did, but finally, the smile spread across his face.
"Thanks, Paddy," he said sincerely. Sirius, who had paled a little at what he perceived as Harry's inheritance of Lily's temper, grinned back and walked forward to pull the both of them into a hug.
"I'm so happy for you two," he said brightly. He released them. "Be good to each other. Ginny, I want you to resist the urge to murder him when he's being a prat, and Harry, remember that the man is always wrong, especially when he's with a redhead. James learned that early on."
With that bit of sincere advice, he shot them a mischievous wink. "And keep in mind that I'm going to be wanting grand-godchildren some day."
"SIRIUS!" Harry shouted, horrified, as both he and Ginny blushed furiously. Now he was going to get revenge for that. The minute his magical reserves were completely restored and he could get out of bed, Sirius was in for it.
Sirius, on the other hand, just cackled merrily at their discomfort.
Professor Dumbledore arrived shortly after the three of them had eaten lunch.
"Well, Mr. Potter," he said cheerfully, "Your godfather tells me the two of you have decided to accept my offer, but you have a suggestion." His eyes twinkled, as they glanced briefly at Sirius before returning to Harry. "Though he wanted you to make it, as it was apparently your idea."
"Do you want me to go for a bit?" Ginny whispered in Harry's ear. He shook his head.
"I trust you," he whispered back, "I'd rather you knew about all of this." He looked again at Dumbledore, considering his words carefully.
"Things weren't going well when we got to Diagon Alley," he said to the headmaster. "They were a little better at Hogsmeade because you were there, but once Voldemort showed up with reinforcements, things immediately went downhill.
"I think a change in tactics is in order. You've tried fighting them with magic already, and it hasn't worked so well. I suppose you've been told of what happened at the Alley?" Dumbledore nodded, so he went on. "So you know then how effective muggle weapons can be, if they're combined with magic. Obviously, carrying around a grenade launcher can be difficult. But if you shrink it, you can easily carry dozens of weapons for all sorts of situations – stopping a Dark Lord with a few bullets, for instance.
"Sirius and I have had problems with magic. Neither of us is very knowledgeable about the more advanced types of magic, so we've come to depend more upon the muggle world. I propose that we help each other out in this regard. Sirius and I will train the rest of the Order to combine muggle technology with their magic, and you train me in the more advanced and difficult magic. You're going to need it to fight the Death Eaters, and I'm going to need you if I have any hope of defeating Voldemort."
The only outward change on the professor's face at the input of this large amount of information was an increase in the twinkling in his eyes.
"How extensive is your knowledge of magic?" he asked curiously.
"Not nearly enough; somewhat more than a graduate of Hogwarts, perhaps."
"Yes," Dumbledore mused. "Not nearly enough to face a powerful wizard such as Lord Voldemort. I must say I'm quite surprised you're so practical and straightforward about this. I should think one so young would be a little more scared of what's to come."
"I've had a while to get used to it," Harry replied, shrugging. "I've been fighting him for a while, even before Sirius told me about the Prophecy."
A chuckle escaped the headmaster's lips, and he smiled. "The fact that he even knew about it was also a surprise, thought I suppose it should not have been. Your father and godfather always did share everything. Practically brothers, in all but blood." He reminisced for a moment longer; then seemed to mentally snap himself out of it.
"That was quite a proposal, Mr. Potter," he said, still smiling. "I shall have to give it a great deal of serious thought. There can be no doubt that you and Sirius were both instrumental in maintaining the safety of the wizarding community two weeks ago, and your tactics and armament were certainly unexpected and effective. When you are well enough to attend your first Order meeting, I shall introduce you and your godfather, and then perhaps you can present your idea to everyone – after we deal with the chaos that will no doubt come from seeing the two of you, of course.
"In the meantime, I think we should consider how we are going to relocate you to your godfather's house without incurring Madame Pomfrey's wrath. It's under the Fidelius Charm, correct?'
"Right," Harry confirmed. "I'm the secret keeper."
"Excellent. I think the only two people you need to inform of the location will be myself and Madame Pomfrey – who will be wanting to check up on you almost constantly.
"Poppy!" he called, just loud enough to be heard in the hospital's adjoining office.
Madame Pomfrey's head poked out of the doorway. "Yes, Albus?"
"Mr. Potter needs to inform us of the location of his home."
When she was close enough for him to hear, Harry said, with a slight wink, "The Marauder's Mansion can be found at Number 12, Grimmauld Place, London."
The twinkle in the headmaster's eye increased tenfold. "An interesting name," he commented.
"His idea," Harry grumbled, jerking a thumb in Sirius' direction. "I don't like it.
"So, how are we getting there?" he asked, returning to the matter at hand.
"I'm making you a portkey," Sirius cut in. "Since Professor Dumbledore hasn't been there yet. We'll all go with you together."
"Absolutely not!" Madame Pomfrey sputtered indignantly. "I refuse to allow it! He's not ready for rough travel like portkeys!"
"It's alright, Poppy," Dumbledore said calmly, "We won't use a portkey if you say it's not safe."
"Then how am I going to get there?" Harry asked, confused.
"I'm not sure," Dumbledore replied, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "I must confess I had not expected for you to be unable to travel by portkey."
Silence descended upon the group, as they each tried to come up with a solution to the problem. After several long moments, someone spoke up.
"I think I have an idea."
Dumbledore, Harry, Sirius, and Madame Pomfrey turned in surprise to the redhead on the bed with her boyfriend, for it was she who had spoken.
"What is it, Gin?" Harry asked. She had been silent up to this point, and he was curious to know what she had come up with that the rest of them hadn't thought of.
She looked a little shy about sharing her idea in the presence of adults and Harry, but he smiled at her encouragingly, and she seemed to gather her courage before answering in a steady voice. "What if you just turn the bed into a portkey? He won't get jostled around or fall that way."
Three mouths dropped, and one pair of eyes twinkled merrily.
"What an excellent idea, Miss Weasley," said Dumbledore mildly, seemingly incapable of showing surprise.
"That's my girlfriend," Harry whispered proudly into her ear before giving her a soft kiss on the cheek. She blushed prettily at all the attention and the kiss, ducking her head meekly.
"Is it alright?" Harry asked Madame Pomfrey respectfully. He knew it was up to her to decide what he could and couldn't do, and thought it was best to ask her and attempt to stay on her good side.
"I think that will be acceptable," she replied. "But we shall have to switch you over to another bed once you're there, as I'll be needing this one back.
Turning to Sirius, Harry waved his hand impatiently. "C'mon, Paddy, let's get a move on!"
"Alright, alright," he grumbled back, drawing his wand. "Have patience, Frosty. Portus."
The entire bed glowed blue for a few seconds and trembled slightly.
"Ten seconds, put a hand on everyone," ordered Sirius. They all complied, ensuring that they were touching some part of the bed at least marginally. Sirius started counting down. "Three . . . two . . . one . . ." And they were gone in a whirlwind of color and sound.
When they landed, they found themselves inside Harry's bedroom of Grimmauld Place.
After everyone had examined their surroundings, Ginny clambered out of the bed to allow the headmaster to levitate Harry to his own four-poster.
Once he was settled, Madame Pomfrey gave Harry another good check-over with her wand, and declared that he should sleep for a while yet, as it would help him to heal faster.
Now that she had mentioned it, he was feeling rather tired. He'd done quite a bit of talking since he'd woken up that morning.
"You should show them around the house, Siri," he said to his godfather.
The three adults left then, Sirius leading the way. When they were gone, Ginny came over and knelt down beside the bed, tucking the covers around him and making him feel like a small child.
"You don't need to do that," he grumbled.
"I like taking care of you," she retorted, ignoring his complaining. She glanced around the room, taking in the chaos that indicated a teenage boy occupied it. "I've never been in here. It's messy." She wrinkled her nose at him, which he thought was rather cute.
"Shut it, you," he yawned and smiled at her.
"Go to sleep now," she whispered.
"Okay." He yawned again. "I hope I get my magic back soon. I want to make Sirius pay for that comment earlier."
She blushed a little at the reminder, but a devious smile lit up her face. "Can I help?"
Her cool hand was suddenly on his face, brushing aside the fringe of his hair. His eyes drifted closed at the contact, and he was suddenly grateful she had pulled the covers up around him. It was a lot more comfortable that way . . .
He drifted off with a slight smile on his face.
Ginny was with him almost constantly for the next three weeks.
He did a lot of sleeping, but each time he awoke, she was there, with a potion or something from Madame Pomfrey. Though he would never admit it aloud, Harry was quite enjoying Ginny playing nursemaid to him. As Sirius put it one day, what kind of guy wouldn't enjoy a pretty girl taking care of him and his every need?
They spent most of his waking hours talking, or playing card games, or Harry's personal favorite . . . snogging.
He still felt guilty about the situation with her family, so he tried several times to get her to go and see them, but she was adamant. She refused to leave his side until he was well and could come with her.
She slept on a small bed in the corner at night, ready to rush to his side if he needed anything. Madame Pomfrey had strongly objected to this, but Professor Dumbledore had simply smiled a knowing smile and transfigured a chair into a bed for her.
"It's quite alright, Poppy," he had said, "Harry's too weak to try anything yet." Then he had left with a small wink to their blushing faces.
Within only a week of arriving, Harry was taking his first tentative steps since the battle, and by the time three weeks had passed, his strength had returned and he was walking normal again, thanks to the return of his full magical powers.
When Madame Pomfrey pronounced him fit enough, Dumbledore walked into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place and announced that Harry and Sirius would attend their first Order meeting in three days.
Harry immediately paled, knowing that this meant he would have to meet the Weasleys soon. Ginny was looking torn between excitement and apprehension, but she grasped his hand under the table and smiled at him.
"Professor?" Harry started, and the headmaster turned to look at him. "I'm going to take Ginny home tomorrow; do you think you could come with us and, er . . . explain things a bit?" He smiled nervously.
The headmaster's eyes twinkled alarmingly, and Harry had the strangest feeling he was planning something.
"I'm sorry, my boy, but I cannot. I'm sure the Weasleys will understand when you tell them what happened."
Harry's heart sank, but he hoped Dumbledore was right. His health depended on it.
As always, review! Even if only to tell me you read it.
Looks like Dumbledore's planning something, as usual...
Next chapter out as soon as I can get it out, but it'll probably be along one so I don't know much time it'll take me. Patience, Grasshopper.
Haley Carr: Thanks. So you're a redhead?Cool! I'm a big fan of redheads personally, something Harry and I have in common.
I've seen the first Matrix movie, but not the other two. If there's a reference in either story, it wasn't put in by any conscious decision on my part (and I only just saw it for the first time in February). If you figure out what it is that gave you that impression, please let me know! Now I'm curious.
Fan of Great Works: But then I'd have to wait longer for them to try to slit Harry's throat!
Masau: Yep to Percy, hence him not being in any of the scenes with the Weasleys and Frost.
Hermione2be: That's one of my greatest problems, I know. Thanks!
mysticruby: Sirius isn't free because the Ministry still thinks he's guilty. That'll change though, once Harry's through with them.
Briea: Definitely an epilogue. I put a prologue, so I have to finish with an epilogue
Miss Anonymous hp: Remus comes in next chapter, I promise this time.
rajahansa sadaiva: I've been looking into teaching as a career, and it turns out that most people just get a general teaching degree, so they don't always get to teach what they're actually good at. Hence, bad Chem teacher. My condolances! Nice blushie face, it made me laugh.
been: I'll keep that in mind, and if I see their music anywhere I'll check it out.
wavefunction: No manipulative Dumbledore in this. I did that in BoL, so I decided to do it different in this story. I don't think it would really fit here either. He won't be a student at Hogwarts, Dumbledore's just going to train him one-on-one, like an apprentice as you said. He already knows everything he needs to know to graduate from Hogwarts, so he doesn't need to attend really.
I considered having Molly walk in on them while sleeping (because it would be SO funny) after someone suggested it (maybe it was you, I can't remember), but it didn't seem to fit with what I was planning for the Weasley confrontation so I decided not to go with it. Too bad, it would've been hilarious.
Dumbledore doesn't KNOW about Harry's animagus for yet (thought he suspects). He finds out when they start training together.
EsperJones: He won't. Dumbledore's going to train him,but that doesn't mean at Hogwarts, necessarily.
weselan: see above answer to wavefunction. brilliant idea, and I almost used it.