Title: Making Choices
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: All your Harry Potter are not belong to me.
Summary: Freedom is about making choices, Harry. Not having choices made for you. 1000 words.
Spoilers: Set post-"Half-Blood Prince".
Notes: For davidbrookes, prompt Harry Potter, Free.
"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione floo'ed home from their first Horcrux hunt exhausted, hungry, and in rather poor spirits. They'd snuck back into Grimmauld Place, afire with excitement at having figured out the locket's location-- Hermione had finally remembered seeing the name "Regulus Black" on the tapestry there, and put two and two together with the old stories about Sirius' brother's death-- only to find that it was long gone, probably sold to a Knockturn pawnshop along with everything else Mundungus Fletcher had stolen.
The preceding few weeks had been tumultuous for Harry, from the moment he'd faced the Dursleys at Kings Cross with Ron and Hermione, to the day of Bill and Fleur's wedding, to the trio's escape to Godric's Hollow. The Weasleys had been upset with Ron for refusing to stay with the family, but also proud and understanding of him for wanting to support his friend; Harry worried sometimes how the Grangers were taking it, but Hermione refused to discuss it with him. Regardless, he was very grateful that they'd stuck to their promise and come with him. He wasn't sure he'd have been able to do any of it without them.
Still, they were three roughly seventeen-year-old wizards against a much older and wilier enemy. They had to be so careful every time they went out, and they didn't even have enough tools or magical knowledge to do very much with the cooking and housekeeping. They'd been able to make the damaged Potter house roughly livable, but little more. Not to mention the lack of a decent library for Hermione to research in.
Well, at least they'd remedied that much. Harry stumbled out of the green flames at his parents' house with a canvas bag clutched tightly in his arms, stuffed to the brim with shrunken books taken from the Black library. The house wasn't being used as the Order's headquarters anymore, not with Dumbledore's Fidelius broken, and he hadn't seen the logic in leaving anything useful lying around for the Death Eaters to get their hands on.
Snape's greasy fingers on Sirius' things... Harry thought, familiar rage gnawing at the back of his mind, then shook it off as he stepped clear of the fire.
Hermione and Ron, similarly burdened, stepped out of the floo behind him in quick succession. Ron dropped his bag on the floor and stifled a yawn, then sniffed at the air, looking a bit puzzled. "Harry, d'you smell that?"
Hermione frowned. "Smells like something's cooking."
"Someone, you mean," Harry said, taking a deep breath. It did smell rather like someone had been making supper, and that shouldn't have been possible; he'd told Dobby to stay at the school to keep an eye on Kreacher, and the wards Ron had badgered Bill into teaching him should have at least warned them if an enemy were present. Not to mention, it was highly unlikely that Death Eaters would have been amusing themselves in the kitchen while they waited for him. That only left a very few possibilities.
"Ron, your Mum didn't say anything about coming by, did she?" he asked warily.
"No." Ron shook his head, looking baffled. "She's been too busy; some of the cousins are still staying at the Burrow."
Harry dropped his bag and reached for his wand. Then he motioned for silence and carefully approached the open doorway to the hall. He hadn't expected to have to be on guard in his own secret hideout, but maybe he should have been. Dumbledore had been the last, and greatest, of his protectors; there wasn't any room left for childish mistakes, not anymore.
Behind him, he heard a few faint grumbles, then the muted sounds of Hermione carefully setting down her own bag and both of his friends drawing their wands. Then they set out for the kitchen as a group, disarming and stunning charms on the tips of their tongues.
They heard the intruder before they saw her, humming something tuneless between muttered imprecations about stupid, noble boys. Harry knew before they even got to the kitchen doorway who it had to be, and put his wand away with a soft curse. She knew the score, he'd told her when he broke up with her; what was she doing here?
"Ginny?" Ron called disbelievingly, then blinked when a red-headed blur whirled out of the kitchen, her own wand at the ready.
She stared at them all a moment, then smiled brightly. "Oh! You're back," she said. "Good. Supper's almost ready, then you can tell me all about it. Not that I'm going to let you get away with leaving me here to cook next time," she concluded, her expression turning fierce.
"Ginny," Harry began. "I thought, I mean, I wanted you free of all this..."
"This what?" she cut him off sternly, half-raising her wand again. "I don't care how dangerous what you're doing is. It can't be any more dangerous, or nerve-wracking, than sitting around waiting for you to get killed. Besides, freedom is about making choices, Harry. Not having choices made for you. And I choose to be here. Besides, d'you honestly think Voldemort doesn't already know you were going out with me?"
Abashed, Harry winced and looked away. "Uh, probably not. But Ginny..."
"Don't you 'but Ginny' me," she said. "I'm here, and that's that." Then she turned and stormed back into the kitchen.
"I'd listen to her, mate," Ron said quietly, behind him. "When she gets that look to her, she's just like Mum-- there's no arguing with her."
"Serves you right," Hermione chuckled behind him. "You deserve someone as stubborn as you are. Besides, it'll be nice having another girl around the place."
Harry took a deep breath, then let it go. It would be nice having her here; she'd been his best comfort those last weeks at school. But he was going to have to be extra careful to keep her safe.
No use surviving this war if his heart didn't survive with him.