James stood at the side of the headmaster's desk he remembered all too well. He felt like he should be on the other side, but he'd set up quarters for the men with him on the fourth floor, keeping one level between the SAS and the students. The last thing he wanted was one person to end up shot for sneaking out for stealing a kiss from their girlfriend or boyfriend.
'When Harry returns with Ginny, they will take part in morning PT with my troopers. Initially they will both carry a side arm, at all times. If it seems necessary, I will have Harry issued a shoulder weapon. This is not open for debate,' James said plainly. He hoped he didn't have to explain what he meant too much, then he was sure they'd be more complaints the number he was already dealing with.
'What about Ginny?' Minerva asked, already knowing arguing was pointless.
'She may be, that will be up to Harry, as with issuing weapons to his friends, remains his choice,' James said.
'That will not be necessary, you'll not need to do anything except...' Albus started.
'Perhaps I'm not clear, or the scroll I gave you. We flushed three Death Eaters out of the castle, that means I am not satisfied with the previous standing 'security' of this castle. Harry and Ginny will be armed at all times,' James said.
'They'd been let into the castle by students who don't know better,' Albus said, in defence of the students.
'Then present those students, if I see a Dark Mark I will act within my orders and secure them for transport,' James said flatly. He looked at Minerva, who he did feel sorry for. She had kept her house in order, like two other houses, Severus was not happy with the presence of James, or his troopers in the castle.
'It will not require that,' Albus countered. 'I'm sure they were blackmailed into taking it.'
'I'm not, and until I have sufficient proof they are in fact working against the Death Eaters they will be treated as the enemy, and accordingly, come under my orders,' James said.
'What would you give Harry?' Minerva asked. 'A shoulder weapon?'
'The same rifle I carry, easy to maintain, easy to use, and very good for tight quarters,' James said. 'I will expect that you inform all teachers of what is going on.'
Minerva and Albus stayed silent, both nodding after a second. Albus got up to call the other teachers for a staff meeting as James left the office, the gargoyle glaring at him, but moving to reveal the staircase. The stone creature still hadn't gotten over the threat of C4, James thought, already wishing he could just go out and deal with the Death Eaters more aggressively. He already had a few mission ideas.
Ginny had a headache, it was not just from the beer she had been drinking either. The number of people she was just introduced to her was staggering. She didn't realise that nearly twenty people would turn up. Alex, Alexandra, and herself had got along like sisters, which was a good thing, as just trying to remember everyone else was so difficult. She learned a few new games, cricket being the main one, but after she kicked a football over the paddock fence, she had a new game she liked. In that short game, only a quarter of what a proper Australian Rules game would be, she had scored two goals more than anyone else.
She was glad of the chance to have a few drinks and just sit down. The air conditioning was on full power, the close to arctic temperatures actually refreshing. Alex dropped beside her, passing her a plate with a large steak and some potato salad.
'Thanks,' Ginny said, watching Harry, with three people she was trying to remember still in the kitchen.
'Thanks yourself, great tackle on Harry,' Alex replied. 'No-one ever got him like that.'
'He swaps which side he leans, but you didn't hear that from me,' Ginny whispered conspiratorially.
'Ha, remember that for the future,' Alex said. 'So...'
'Is this about what we talked about before?'
'Yeah, you two are great together, I wanted to say congrats, to the both of you,' Alex said, then looked behind her to see Harry standing there.
'Thanks Alex, means a lot,' Harry replied, sitting between Alex and Ginny.
'It does, thank you,' Ginny added, sincerely.
'Food up to the usual high standards,' Alex started. 'Was it just you Harry? Or the usual crowd?'
'Two, and you've spoken to her,' Harry replied.
'Congrats to both chefs then,' Alex said, a few others adding their sentiments.
'What about us on the BBQ?' another asked, Ginny not sure of his name.
'Mitch, he with the knife has the finest cuts,' Harry shouted back. 'Learn to be a butcher mate.'
'Thanks for the advice,' Mitch replied, back to his own conversation.
'Is it usually this lively?' Ginny asked Alex.
'Yeah, fun though,' Alex replied. 'Harry is a good hand with that knife as well.'
'He's got a big enough ego as is,' Ginny replied, her tone joking.
'I don't know, I think it could use the occasional help, it's not that strong,' Harry said, to a snort from Alex and a chuckle from Ginny.
'Strong enough sweetheart,' Ginny whispered. Harry leaned over and kissed her cheek quickly, then started to eat his own lunch. Everyone at, bursts of conversations going between the groups as well as staying within. Mitch, the first person to finish filled one side of the large double basin, everyone doing their own washing as they finished. Perhaps after twenty minutes, people started to say their goodbyes, promising to call, or to help out on odd jobs.
Harry looked to the door, following a few people who were leaving, the soft repeated knocks getting his attention. He looked at Ginny, his confused look all she needed. 'Give me a moment.'
'Sure,' Ginny replied. Harry made his way to the door, opening it quickly and stepping outside. Closing the door behind him he studied Celeste, not having seen her this way for a very long time. She was dressed for farm work, which surprised him. She started to speak, Harry needing a moment to process them.
'Celeste, if you're here to argue, it's not interested,' Harry started. He was again surprised by Celeste's look, the hurt expression something he had never seen, he might for a moment, but his anger blocked it out. He looked back to Ginny, hoping his expression showed that he wanted her company.
'Listen, Harry, can you give me a chance to finish?' she asked, Harry nodding in reply. 'I thought about what you said, considering I deserved that...'
'You didn't, but then neither did I,' Harry countered. 'Let's just leave it at we both should have kept our heads?'
'That's fair,' Celeste said. 'I just wanted to say, congratulations, I hope you two last,' Celeste said. 'I'd like us to be friends, some time, but it's not going to be for a while yet.'
'I don't know, six to eight months, depends how long I'm back up in Scotland,' Harry replied off hand.
'We both stuffed this one up, we both should give it a chance,' Harry said, Ginny walking outside and finally reaching him.
'What is it Harry?' Ginny asked, looking at Celeste for a moment, before her gaze turned back to Harry.
'Something to say?' Harry asked, looking at Celeste.
'Yeah, congratulations, you both deserve it, especially you Harry,' Celeste repeated.
'Thank you,' Ginny said, her tone wary.
'I mean it, I was an idiot, just took me some time to see it,' Celeste said.
'He's an idiot too, but he's mine,' Ginny said, chuckling.
'I'm still here, who do I thank for this?' Harry asked.
'No-one, I felt I owed it to you,' Celeste said. 'If you want, I'll go.'
'You can stay, if it's okay with Ginny,' Harry said, looking at Ginny.
'You can stay, if you'd like,' Ginny said after a second.
'Thanks, but I'll go, it would be weird,' Celeste started, looking at Harry when he smiled.
'I'll send you an albatross, wouldn't want the owl to get tired on the way,' Harry said, Ginny chuckling.
'No, you wouldn't, I'll hear from you soon, take care, grats, again,' Celeste said. She smirked for a moment, walking back to her car.
'Take care of yourself,' Harry and Ginny said at the same time.
'I'm a little surprised at that,' Ginny said after almost a minute. 'But, it felt good, clean air.'
'It did, you want to torment Alex while I ask Jason?' Harry asked.
'I think so, but whoever it is, I'll thank em,' Harry said, he pulled Ginny back towards. 'But so you're sure you know where I feel.' He kissed Ginny slowly at first, slowly deepening the kiss, Ginny's hair wrapped around his fingers.
'I know how you feel,' Ginny whispered.
Ginny found Alex, as she hoped Harry found Jason, before they had a chance to leave. The reply to her question was that she had nothing to do with Celeste's quick visit. Harry found Jason, with the same reply. Both confused, they told each other of the replies as the party finally wound down and they started to clean up. Neither knew of the reason behind it, but were glad of it.