The next morning when Ron got up Harry's bed was empty. It didn't look like it had even been slept in. He decided to see if he was still down stairs. When he got to the kitchen he look for Harry but the living room was empty. His Mum was in the kitchen so he asked her, "Mum, have you seen Harry?"
"He went out about an hour ago. He said he'd be back in time for breakfast with you lot."
"Did he sleep on the couch or something?"
"No, he came from upstairs. Why?"
"His bed didn't look like it had been slept in. He stayed up to talk to Ginny and I guess I was asleep before he came up."
"Well Ginny's in her room. I checked before I came down." Molly waved him off.
"Wonder where he went." Before he could sit down and eat Ron heard the sound of someone running into the yard. He looked out to find Harry nearing the house. Ron opened the door as he reached it.
"Thanks." Harry said panting as he stepped through, "Do I have time to shower before breakfast?"
"Yes, could you wake the girls when you finish?" Molly asked.
Harry put on clean clothes before he exited the bathroom. Just as he was about to knock on Ginny's door it open. Hermione looked up in surprise at Harry, "I was just going to knock to wake you up."
"How could we sleep with the water running at this time of the morning?" Ginny grumbled as she passed him.
"I just finished running, you really wouldn't have wanted me to come by first would you?"
Everyone gathered in the kitchen and ate breakfast. Then settled into the living room to finally have Christmas. It was a loud boisterous affair with lots of laughter and a few tears. They talked about Fred and brought up some of the more outlandish things the twins had done over the years.
"Is the swamp still there?" Harry asked Ron.
"What?" Charlie asked.
"During Umbridge's time you remember Fred and George set off a portable swamp in one of the main traffic halls. For some reason none of the teachers were able to get rid of it until after Umbridge left. As he cleared it I heard Professor Flitwick saying it was an impressive bit of charm work. He left a part in the hall with a plaque touting their achievement." Ron said, "And yes it's still there, though the plaque is larger and has a picture of them on it."
"Who did that?" Harry asked.
"We never found out." Ginny smiled slyly and Harry chuckled.
"I've got a portrait of him at the shop." George said."He's quite rude to customers."
"I'll have to stop by to say hello." Harry said.
"Do that." Percy said, "I want to know if he tries to spit on you too."
"Percy," George said, "I've talked to him about that. He insures me he understands that you are part of the family again. We commissioned the portraits before you had come back remember." Turning to Harry he said, "We decided we wanted portraits of our younger selves in the shop for posterity. We decided we are much more fun now than what we'll be after decades of testing products and growing up. Came in handy, this way I kind of still have him around. He's been helping with the prank ideas for Vane."
"Speaking of that what are we going to do?" Harry asked.
"So far we have Neville infiltrating their group." Ginny said, "He isn't pretending to be anyone's boyfriend or anything he's just letting them commiserate with him on how horrible I am."
"He's kind of getting the worst end of this but he thinks of it as a kind of punishment for believing Ginny had lost her mind." Ron said.
"Why would he have thought that?" Harry asked.
"He had been mad at me all year and none of us could figure out why. It wasn't until he overheard Vane that everything came out. He pulled all of us into the Headmistresses office and explained it." Ginny said, "He thought Fred's death had pushed me over the edge to make me act that way."
"How were you acting?"
"He was mad because he felt like she drove you away, but then was acting innocent of it and even in misery because you were gone." Hermione said, "In the office he was begged her to forgive him and said whatever prank she wanted to do he would help all he could."
"When Seamus pointed out that we were planning a prank right in front of the Headmistress all she said was what, I think I've recently gone quite deaf." Ron chuckled.
"Aunt Minnie actually called me in and asked me to help prank the snot out of her." George laughed, "Never thought I'd see the day."
"Can we all say teacher's pet?" Charlie snickered.
"Hey she isn't just doing this for me." Harry said, "It affects Ginny too."
"We all know he is." Ron said over Harry, "She told us he was actually born at Hogwarts. She was one of the first few people to hold him."
"She was quite sentimental about it all." George said pretending to wipe a tear, "I thought all the girls were going to start crying. Of course Seamus and Dean are seeing it as great blackmail material. So I'd watch out if I were you."
"I was born at Hogwarts?" Harry said.
"Because the prophecy," Hermione said, "Professor Dumbledore tried to get all the magicals who were having children in late July or early August to go to Hogwarts for the births. None of them agreed, not even your parents. But your Mum went into labor while visiting Professor McGonagall. She even got to hold you before your Dad got there."
"Wow." Harry said, "Dean and Seamus want to use that as blackmail material?"
"Yes they think it will embarrass you."
"How is that supposed to embarrass me? I think it's wicked, how many people were born at Hogwarts." Harry said.
"The founders had a few children born there, but no one since then." Hermione said.
"Wicked." Harry said, "So Neville is friendly with Vane's group then to keep up with what they're planning?"
"Yes." George said, "And to warn us when she develops the film. She'll see the pose she wanted. No one else will."
"What will the rest of us see?" Harry asked.
"Oh, I'm not telling. I want it to be a surprise." George snickered.
"You know she's going to be giving me these pictures to look at. I really don't want to see something bad." Harry looked a little disgusted.
"Don't worry, you won't be embarrassed, but she will." George said.
The next day Ginny was sitting at the table when Harry got up to start his run, "Morning what are you doing up?"
"I want to run with you. I want to play professional quidditch so I need to be in good shape for that." Ginny said.
Harry leaned down and whispered, "I think you're in fantastic shape."
Ginny grinned and gave him a quick kiss, "Thanks. How far are we running?"
"First we have to stretch and warm up. Then you will be running a mile." Harry said, "I'll be running more than that so let's go warm up." They went outside and Harry showed her the proper stretches and they started to jog away from the Burrow. At half a mile Harry stopped her, "Now we'll sprint back."
"What?" Ginny looked bewildered.
"We jogged this far we need to run back as hard as you can. Let's go." Harry pulled her arm and they started to run. Back at the Burrow Ginny collapsed on the ground.
"I have more to do so you stay here and do another repetition of the stretches." Harry said, "If you don't you'll be in terrible pain tomorrow. Go in and shower when you get done with the stretches it will help the soreness." Harry ran off to complete his required run.
Three days later Ginny could run the mile without collapsing at the end. That's when Harry said, "Great, then we'll run farther tomorrow." Ginny glared at him but nodded watching him as he ran off.
"He's been doing this for six months." Fleur said from the door, "Don't feel bad that you can't keep up."
"I'm not." Ginny panted, "I just didn't think about increasing how far to run. Stupid of me really."
"Why are you doing this?" Fleur asked.
"First to spend time with Harry." Ginny said as she began her stretching, "Second to get into better shape. Third this may help my chances to play professional quidditch. Fourth if I exercise like this now, after I start having kids I may be able to keep this shape."
"All good reasons." Fleur said, "And I think they were given in the order of importance. Are you going to continue at Hogwarts even when Harry isn't running with you?"
"Yes because the other three reasons." Ginny grinned, "And I want to be able to keep up with him when I finish school."
The last morning before they left for Hogwarts they made a well planned trip to Diagon Alley. Neville had let it slip to Romilda that he was meeting Harry at The Leaky Cauldron for lunch. They would be discussing just exactly why Neville was mad at Ginny Weasley. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were at the back of the room under cloaks with a fourth person between them. Professor McGonagall and Hagrid were at a table with Kingsley Shacklebolt. George and Angelina Johnson were at another table opposite the Minister's group. Five minutes before Harry was to arrive Neville was seated at a table between the other three. He noticed a girl walk in and stay in the shadows by the bar, this he knew to be Romilda Vane. He waited and Harry showed up exactly on time.
"Harry good to see you." Neville shook his hand, "Wow you look different."
"Thanks." Harry grinned, "How's your family?"
"Mum and Dad are the same." Neville grimaced, "But Gran is doing great. She's not as pushy as she used to be. The last three years she says I've really grown into my own. She's even happy I'm studying herbology instead of becoming an Auror."
"Excellent." Harry said.
"So how was training?" Neville asked.
"Fabulous." Harry grinned, "I think I'm ready for the tests tomorrow… How's Ginny did she…"
"Well that is going to take a long time to explain." Neville said.
"I can explain it all very quickly." Romilda Vane said walking up to the table. She plopped down a large envelope and said, "I think these will explain everything." Harry reluctantly looked at the envelope and then ran his wand over it looking for dark spells and things. He opened it slowly and pulled out the pictures. "She's just been awful, hanging on every guy around. I bet she's been sleeping around too, I've heard rumors about it. I'm so sorry she's putting you through this, I hope you know you can look to me for comfort." As she said that she tried to hug him.
Harry pulled away from her grasping arms, "What are you playing at?"
"What?" she asked shocked, "I'm not playing at anything. I'm just helping you to see what kind of girl Ginny Weasley really is."
"I know what kind of girl Ginny is that's why I'm dating her." Harry said, "Why do you think these pictures are going to change my mind?"
"Do you mean you want a girl that's sleeping around and hanging on other guys?" Romilda asked confused.
"No I don't. That's why I'm wondering why you had someone take pictures of yourself hanging on every guy in Hogwarts." Harry said, "Oh wait here's one of Ginny helping a younger kid with her homework."
With that the spell on the pictures broke and Romilda saw what Harry was seeing, "NO, THIS ISN'T RIGHT. I've worked hard to get her in just the right pose to make her look bad. Who could have done this? They charmed them to be me instead of her. You have to believe me I'm not lying about this."
"I believe you." Harry grinned, "You've been working hard to try and discredit Ginny for me and it's just not going to work."
"But she hates you. She said you needed to be in Azkaban for what you did." Romilda protested, "How can you stand to be around her."
"Because I know what really happened." Neville said, "I heard you confess to using polyjuice potion."
"You can't believe that Harry." Romilda was getting more desperate, "I've never lied to you, I only have your best interests at heart. He's lying."
"My best interests?" Harry questioned, "And I should believe you? I love Ginny; you're not going to get me away from her."
"NO. You're ruining my plans you can't do that." Romilda screamed, "You're going to be with me, I was going to insure it."
"How by laying a trap again?" Harry asked, "Trying to give me love potion a few years ago was enough that I don't trust you at all for anything. I wouldn't touch you if you were the last female on earth. Stay away from me or I'll get a restraining order."
"Ms. Vane." Kingsley said approaching the table, "Please stop harassing my Auror. You should know that any attack on an Auror or his family is seen as a dark attack and treated that way. That is time in Azkaban for you if you continue on this trek."
Romilda looked shocked at the minister and nodded; she then turned and quickly walked away. Ron, Hermione and Ginny walked up with the fourth person who turned out to be Lee Jordan.
"That was amazing." Lee said, "I think this will be a great article. I'll let you read it first and see if you want to change anything. I'll be by later tonight to show you what I've got. See you."
Lee left and the others sat at the table and were joined by the Professors. Later that evening at the Burrow they were sitting around laughing, "I can't wait to see that article in print."
"Lee did a really good job." Hermione said, "The picture is the best part. No one can see her face but everyone will know who it was."
"Kingsley's threat will hopefully dissuade anyone else from trying to give you love potions or hurt Ginny." Ron said
"All in all a well done prank." Ginny grinned, "Well partial prank. I'm glad Kingsley wasn't kidding about attacks."
"You know he only got that law passed last week." Hermione said knowingly.
"I've got to ask him about that." Harry said, "He said I helped him get that to pass, but I didn't do anything."
"It's because of all the letters the ministry is getting." Arthur said, "We've been intercepting all your fan mail and scanning it for spells. You've been sent more than three hundred letters or presents with love potion in them. Fifty with dark spells or poisons. The remaining twenty seven hundred and fifty are just letters and presents and such. Oh and then about fifty howlers. Only one of them was yelling bad things the rest were offers of… well stuff."
"I've been getting fan mail?" Harry asked completely bewildered by Arthur's information.
"Yes and offers. We have three letters from the broom companies wanting you to endorse their next broom. The Firebolt Company wants to have a new line named after you, the Lighteningbolt." Arthur grinned, "The Chocolate Frog Company wants to do cards on you. And Eyelops wants to give you a new owl."
"Is there anyone who hasn't asked for me to do or have something?" Harry asked.
"Ollivander." Arthur chuckled, "He was thinking about closing shop because everyone wants a wand like Harry Potter. But George gave him an idea that will let him continue his work."
"I bet he's having a fit. The wand chooses the wizard you can't pick that one it doesn't like you." Harry imitated, "So what did you suggest?"
"He has a wand that looks like yours sitting on a pillow on the counter. He lets them try it first and when there's no reaction they settle for another that actually fits them." George said.
"How does he know it won't choose them?" Harry asked.
"It's one of our fake wands. Only this one doesn't do anything, that's the beauty of the prank it's just a holly stick." George said.
Harry laughed so hard he had to hold his side and lean on Ginny. Later when they were alone Ginny pouted, "I can't believe Kingsley ordered you to stay away from Kings Cross tomorrow."
"I know but you can see his point can't you?" Harry asked.
"But I don't want to see his point."
"By the time Easter break rolls around maybe he can put me on the train as your personal body guard." Harry suggested.
"That would be fine. I think I'll need my lips guarded very closely." Ginny giggled.
"Well we better practice so that I can be sure to get that job." Harry said seriously. Harry was gone when they got up the next morning. He had to report to Kingsley's office at eight that morning to begin his tests. Ginny wasn't happy about going back to Hogwarts but it would be over soon.