"Thank you, Kreacher," Harry said as he watched the elf set the tray of cooled hard-boiled eggs on the kitchen table.
Kreacher bowed. "Master, do you need anything else?"
Looking over the table, Harry shook his head. "I don't think so."
Once the elf left, Harry checked his supplies one more time. He had six wide mouthed cups with colourful, vinegary smelling dye in each. There were also markers and stickers stacked on the end of the table.
"I want to help," Seamus announced. "Me mum used to teach at a local Nursery school and I would help her with the children during breaks. It would be fun to help Teddy."
Harry laughed. He thought Seamus was helping him more than Teddy, but he appreciated the gesture all the same. "Thanks, mate."
A chime sounded through the kitchen indicating someone had arrived via the Floo Network. Harry ran upstairs to the front room to find Andromeda setting Teddy down.
"EE, EE!" Teddy said excitedly when he caught sight of his godfather.
"Teddy!" Harry knelt down as Teddy toddled into his arms. Picking up the baby, he cuddled him close for a moment enjoying the softness of his hair and the sweet baby smell. Kissing the boy on the cheek, he set Teddy down to greet Andromeda.
"Thanks for bringing him over."
She nodded regally. "Certainly. Are you certain you wish him to spend the night?"
"Absolutely," Harry said. "We'll have fun. We're going to colour Easter eggs. I've made an Easter basket for him."
"Please, do not overload him with sweets," Andromeda admonished him.
Harry tried to give her an innocent look, but she didn't believe him. "He'll have fun."
"I will be home most of the evening, if you need anything."
Harry laughed. "Andi, we will be fine."
"I know," she admitted ruefully. Picking up Teddy, she gave him one more hug and kiss. Setting Teddy's bag down on the floor, she leaned over and gave Harry a kiss on the cheek. "You two have fun. I will pick him up tomorrow afternoon."
Taking Teddy from his grandmother, the two watched as she left through the Floo network. Teddy waved to his grandmother as she disappeared. Looking down at Teddy, he said, "We're going to colour Easter eggs."
Babbling, Teddy nodded. Harry carried him down the stairs. Even though Teddy was walking well, Harry worried about him near the stairs.
Teddy squealed with laughter as he dropped an egg into the blue dye. Looking intently at the water, he managed to change his hair into a fair imitation of the colour. Harry and Seamus cheered him on as the little boy coloured Easter eggs. Over the course of the afternoon, Teddy had also changed his hair colour dozens of times in an effort to keep up with the colours of the eggs. Harry managed to colour some eggs as well. Seamus showed him some spells to swirl the colours.
By the end of the afternoon, there were over two dozen multi-coloured eggs drying on racks. There were some that were single coloured, others were swirled, and still others had random patches of colours. The smell of vinegar was rather strong as more than one cup of dye had been spilled over the course of the day.
"This is great," Harry commented. "When my cousin used to colour eggs, my aunt would line everything with newspapers. It was one of the few times she was very strict with him about not spilling anything. Of course, I was given the job of cleaning up after them."
Seamus laughed. "That was what it was like at my cousin's house. My mum would repair any broken eggs or clean up any major spills if no one else had seen them. Every once in a while, I'm sure my aunt thought she was losing her mind. She'd go to get something to clean up a spill and she'd come back and it would be gone."
Looking at his friend, Seamus said, "I'm guessing you weren't allowed to colour Easter eggs."
Making a face, Harry shook his head. "No, Aunt Petunia didn't want me to have fun and she certainly didn't want to give me the opportunity to make a mess." A strange look came over his face. "I just remembered. One Easter when I was little – maybe three or four, I must have changed the colour of some of the Easter eggs. Dudley had coloured his eggs this weird orange colour. He must have dunked it in several of the colours. I remember thinking it would look much better if it was blue. Suddenly it was blue and my aunt started screaming."
He shook his head. "I completely forgot about that."
"I'm really glad my dad didn't freak out that badly," Seamus said. "My mum didn't mention to dad that she was a witch until after they were married."
Harry laughed as he watched Teddy toddling around the kitchen. "I can't even imagine dating a Muggle anymore."
"I know, it would be so much to hide. My mum was working in a pastry shop when they met and she wasn't using much magic. I think by not working in the wizarding world, it was a lot easier for her to hide things. My dad actually likes it now. He always wants to see new spells I've learned and things like that."
"My aunt and uncle freak out if I even say the word magic," Harry said. He laughed. "After my first year, I would make up nonsense words around my cousin and he would think I was cursing him or something."
Seamus laughed. "Is it true you didn't know you were a wizard until your letter came?"
Harry started laughing. "Very true."
He started cleaning up the egg colouring supplies while he told Seamus all about his Hogwarts' letters and how Hagrid had to come and actually hand it to him.
Seamus was laughing. "Hagrid was the first wizard you ever met? That must have been a bit scary."
"Strangely enough, I wasn't scared of him. He talked to me and he was actually nice to me. I learned more about my parents in five minutes of talking to him than in ten years with my aunt and uncle. I don't think his size really phased me."
Once he finished cleaning up, he scooped up Teddy who was only wearing a nappy with several splotches of colour on his head and chest. Teddy started laughing as Harry played with him.
"I'm going to go give him a bath. Thanks for all of your help."
Seamus nodded. "It was fun colouring Easter eggs. I haven't done that in years. I wish I could be here to watch him find them, but I promised my mum I'd be home for Easter."
Harry carried the laughing little boy upstairs. "We are going to have an Easter egg hunt. Won't that be fun?"
With a wave of his wand, Harry filled the tub with warm water and bubbles. He then conjured up Teddy's favourite tub toys. Kneeling down next to the tub, he watched Teddy playing in the water.
This was one of his favourite times with Teddy. His aunt had always made him take a very short bath with no bubbles and no toys, so he wanted to make sure Teddy only had fun memories of bath time.
Teddy was spending the night so Harry planned to hide eggs in the morning. After talking to Ginny, he decided to just hide them in the drawing room this year. Next year when Teddy was older, they could hide them outside. Plus, next year, Ginny would be here to help.
Although Easter Break had started, she was spending the weekend at Hogwarts revising because she was going to be gone the entire week at Quidditch Trials. He understood and supported her decision, but he really did wish she was here.
Harry set Teddy down in the drawing room. It was no longer the dark and gloomy place it had been. Light flooded through the room and the brightly coloured eggs were scattered around the room. None of them were too difficult to find and Harry had kept them all close to the floor. Kreacher was watching with a camera ready. Teddy looked around curiously and toddled over to the first egg that was sitting on the floor. He picked it up and shook it.
A look of wonder came over his face at the noise. Looking back at his godfather, he started babbling.
"Keep looking, Teddy."
Harry had had fun hiding the eggs, but now he was trying to remember where he'd hidden them all. He thought he'd hidden a dozen eggs, but he couldn't be certain. Some of them were dyed eggs, some were plastic eggs filled with sweets, and there were several chocolate eggs filled with sweets. Andromeda had made him promise not to overload Teddy with sweets, but Harry figured that was not possible. Both Molly and Andromeda had sent over chocolate eggs. Andromeda's were from Honeydukes while Molly's were homemade with toffee inside.
Of course, Molly had also sent a large egg for Harry as well. He'd not received any Easter eggs until Mrs Weasley first sent him some in his fourth year at Hogwarts, so he was still excited to receive them.
Easter eggs would forever remind him of Ginny. During his fifth year when she talked to him in the library and subsequently helped him contact Sirius, that was one of the few bright spots of that year. Although he didn't realize it at the time, he believed this was when he first started to fancy her. Of course, it took him another year to figure out what to do about it.
Crawling around on the floor with his godson, Harry couldn't help but laugh. Teddy was holding an egg in each hand and was trying to figure out how to pick up the third one that was right in front of him.
"I think you'll have to put one down, Teddy."
Teddy looked at his godfather in confusion. Holding out his hand, Harry said, "Can I have one, Teddy?"
After looking at his eggs, Teddy handed one to Harry. Harry placed the egg in the extra basket he'd brought down. Teddy's eyes lit up as he realized he could put the eggs in the basket. Dragging the basket along, he found almost all the eggs. Harry had to grab one that had fallen behind the couch, but finally he thought they had all of the eggs.
Kreacher had helped him put together an Easter basket filled with sweets and toys. Ginny had sent a blue stuffed bunny which Harry included. While shopping on Diagon Alley, he'd had found a collection of miniature toy brooms that reminded him of the matchbox cars his cousin had as a child. Harry couldn't wait to play with them with Teddy. There was a large chocolate bunny, because Ginny had told him that was a requirement for Easter. Harry had to laugh when Teddy immediately bit off one of the ears.
"Master Harry, would you like me to serve lunch?" Kreacher asked once Harry piled the eggs Teddy had gathered into another basket.
Harry looked up from the floor where he was sitting with Teddy. "Lunch?"
"Young Teddy should have something other than chocolate and sweets. I have prepared a luncheon of ham with potatoes and green beans."
Lifting Teddy high over his head before blowing raspberries on his stomach, Harry laughed. "Kreacher says we can't live on chocolate alone. I think we have to do what he says."
After washing up and washing Teddy's hands and face, Harry took the little one into the dining room. The highchair that Kreacher had found in the attic was sitting next to Harry's chair.
While Kreacher brought the food out, Harry strapped Teddy into his chair. He carefully cut some ham into little pieces and placed it on the highchair tray. He laughed as Teddy fed himself the ham. The spoon Teddy used to simply bang on the tray, but he didn't complain when Harry helped him with some potatoes and beans.
Andromeda arrived at Grimmauld Place in the early evening to pick up her grandson. To her surprise, Harry wasn't waiting for her as he usually was.
"Mrs Tonks." Kreacher was standing in the doorway. "Please follow me."
Raising an eyebrow, she followed him up the stairs to the drawing room. She'd noticed that Harry favoured the drawing room. As she entered the room, she found Harry sprawled on the floor sound asleep with Teddy sleeping on top of him. A tender smile crossed her face.
She shook her head as she noticed the large Easter basket on the low table behind them. A chocolate bunny was missing his ears and the back of his head. There was a mixture of other sweets and chocolates in the basket.
"Master Harry did feed him real food," Kreacher said as he tried to quiet his deep voice.
"Well, that's something," she said with amusement in her voice. "It seems Teddy enjoyed Easter."
"I believe he did," the elf agreed. "As did Master Harry."
Andromeda's gaze softened. "I don't believe he's had the choice to enjoy many holidays."
Before Kreacher could reply, Harry started to stir. Opening his eyes, he saw Andromeda standing over him. Automatically he reached up to make sure the baby was still on his shoulder. Holding Teddy in place, he sat up.
"I see you didn't follow my instructions," she said sternly.
He flushed, but laughed. "We had fun."
"So I see."
Harry climbed to his feet cuddling Teddy into his chest and kissing him on top of the head. "I think I wore him out. We had our Easter egg hunt and after lunch I took him to the park. He loves the swings and slides. It was a great afternoon."
"I am glad," Andromeda said as she took her sleeping grandson.
Ginny's alarm sounded early Monday morning, but for once she had no trouble waking. Hopping out of bed, she silently padded to the bathroom. All of her roommates were still sleeping, so for once she didn't have to share.
Twenty minutes later, she was dressed and ready to go. Her hair was pulled back in a plait and she was dressed casually in jeans and a Gryffindor shirt. Her bag had been packed the night before and her broom was in its carrying case and ready to go.
Glancing at the clock, she was surprised to see it was only six o'clock. She arrived in the common room and tried to recall what time the Great Hall opened for breakfast. She couldn't remember if it was half six or seven. She was so rarely awake at this hour, she didn't think she'd ever been to breakfast so early.
Her mirror buzzed. She smiled as she pulled the mirror from her pocket. "Harry Potter."
He grinned when he caught sight of her. "Good morning, beautiful."
"Good morning," she smiled. "What are you doing awake so early?"
He shrugged. "I have to be to work at seven so I thought I'd check on you. It looks like you are ready to go."
"Are you nervous?" he asked gently.
"You are going to be amazing," he said. "The Harpies are going to be so impressed with you! Just go and show them what a brilliant Quidditch player you are."
She blushed, but smiled under his praise. His confidence in her always made her feel warm and secure, like she could do anything. "I hope so."
"Don't forget you can always mirror call me. I can't wait to hear how wonderfully you do." He looked off at something she couldn't see. "I'm supposed to meet Seamus for a run this morning. Are you all set to take the Knight Bus?"
She nodded. "I'm going to eat breakfast before I go. I want to arrive early so I can look around first."
"That's a good plan. Did you polish your broomstick?"
She nodded again. "Hermione fussed at me for wasting time with my broom, but I wanted to make sure it was in pristine condition. I polished it and made sure all the twigs were trimmed. Madam Hooch looked it over for me and thought it looked good. It's all packed up and ready to go."
"Excellent!" He grinned again. "I am so proud of you. Call me tonight!"
Relaxed, Ginny put her mirror away. She could do this. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her belongings and walked down to the Great Hall.
After a ride on the Knight Bus, Ginny arrived in Wales with two other Quidditch hopefuls. The UK Quidditch trials were being held at Caerphilly, home of the Caerphilly Catapults. It was a cool, crisp morning. Although it was still early, there was a crowd outside the stadium.
As she stepped off the bus, a formidable looking witch stepped forward. "Name?"
The witch checked off her name on the list. "Your bags will be sent on the dormitory. You will receive your dormitory assignment when you register. Please follow the lines."
While the other two players checked in, she walked up to the stadium, there was a large table set up to register athletes. She walked over and joined the Chaser line.
Ginny enviously noticed a tall blond witch standing in front of her. She wondered if the witch was from Great Britain as she had a lovely deep tan so early in the spring. Ginny felt very short and pale beside her. When Ginny moved behind her, she turned and smiled. She had a friendly face and bright blue eyes. Her curly blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
"Hi, I'm Ginger Grayson."
Ginny smiled. "I'm Ginny Weasley."
"It's nice to meet you," Ginger said. "I've only been in the country a few days. I'm from South Africa."
"That would explain the beautiful tan," Ginny laughed. "I was trying to decide if you'd just been on some fabulous holiday or if you weren't from around here."
Ginger laughed. "I've noticed that I do stand out a bit."
"Don't worry, a few weeks in our lovely British sun and you'll be pale like the rest of us."
Ginger smiled. "What made you chose Great Britain?" Ginny asked.
"I've always wanted to play here," Ginger confided. "My father was a huge Quidditch fan, but he left during the first war. He thought it would be safe for me to come now that the war is over."
"It is," Ginny said. "Did you play Quidditch at school?"
She shook her head. "Quidditch isn't very big at Uagadou. I played a lot at home."
"Me, too," Ginny grinned. "I have six older brothers and all of them played Quidditch. They didn't really want me to play, but I've been on my house team at school for the past few years."
"Are you from Hogwarts? That's where my dad went to school."
"Yes, I'm in my last year."
Ginger's eyes widened. "You're still in school. You must be good to be offered an invitation."
"I hope so," Ginny said. "There were Quidditch scouts at my last match."
"I participated in the All-Africa try outs," Ginger confided. "I was offered a position on the Sumbawanga Sunrays, but I wanted to try for a British team. My dad was a huge fan of Puddlemere United."
"I like Puddlemere," Ginny said, "but I'm hoping for the Harpies. They've always been my favourite team. My brother took me to see a match when I was eight. It was my first professional match and it was brilliant."
The two girls chatted comfortably as they moved up in line. Both witches were signed in and sent to the locker room. Ginny changed into her workout clothes while Ginger did the same.
"Ladies, once you are dressed, you may head out onto the pitch."
Nervously Ginny caught Ginger's eye. Together, they left the locker room and walked onto the pitch. Ginny looked around in amazement. The stadium wasn't as big as the one that was used for the World Cup, but it was new having been rebuilt in the past two years. The stands were starting to fill up with scouts and other Quidditch officials.
"This is brilliant!" Ginger whispered.
Ginny nodded as she recognized some of the coaches and captains of the different teams. Gwenog Jones was in the stands. Ginny looked around at the other athletes. She noticed a few who had played at Hogwarts – a few from each house except Slytherin. She wasn't overly surprised. Their team had been chosen for their allegiance to Voldemort, not their Quidditch ability. From the snatches of conversation she could hear, there seemed to be athletes from all over Europe. She thought she was one of the youngest trying out, but she couldn't be certain. To her surprise, she was the only current Hogwarts player. It hadn't occurred to her earlier, but none of the other captains had been approached. Normally they were a shoe-in for the Quidditch Trials, but the war had messed up so many things.
By eight o'clock, the sun was starting to warm the crisp April morning. There were chairs set up at one end of the pitch, Ginny and Ginger took seats towards the front. Once they were seated, Ginny pulled a thick book from the bag she'd been given at check in.
"It looks like we will be busy," Ginger said as she looked over the itinerary.
Ginny nodded. There were going to be assessing general conditioning, position specific flying, and strategic thinking. There would be several matches that would assess their playing ability. Her heart started beating faster. Would she really be afforded the opportunity to play professionally?
After the welcoming speech, the candidates were separated into their positions. Chasers were the largest group, so they were divided in two. Ginny waited with Ginger for her turn to see the medi-witch.
"Angelina!" Ginny was thrilled to see her old teammate and captain. She hugged her tightly. "What are you doing here?!"
"I received an invitation after my last year, but with the war on and everything going on I wasn't able to make it. While I was in Canada, I wrote to see if I could attend this year's Quidditch Trials and they said I could. Apparently, a lot of people put off trying out."
"That's wonderful!" Ginny exclaimed. "What team do you want to make?"
"I don't really care," Angelina said as she tossed her braids over her shoulder. "I just want to play Quidditch."
"I can't imagine you won't make a team," Ginny reassured her. Looking over at Ginger, she introduced the two witches. "Angelina was my first Quidditch captain."
"Nice to meet you," Ginger said with a smile. The three witches exchanged small talk while waiting for their names to be called. Ginger was the first one called.
After Ginger left, Angelina smiled. "I'm feeling so much better about this decision."
"How is your cousin?" Ginny asked.
"Tired, but happy," Angelina laughed. "She had a baby boy, Jeremiah. He's adorable. I stayed for almost two months after he was born. I'm glad I went." She looked away. "I needed the time away."
"When did you get back?" Ginny asked.
"I've been back about two weeks," she replied. "I've been staying with Alicia. She spends a lot of time with Oliver, so I have had time to figure out what I want to do. Oliver's been great letting me practice with him. Alicia and Katie as well."
"I'm a bit surprised neither of them wanted to try out," Ginny said. "I remember the first time I saw the three of you fly – I was so impressed."
Angelina smiled proudly. "We were definitely a good team. Alicia got her internship with the Department of International Magical Cooperation. She loves it and she travels quite a bit. She came to visit me in Canada. Oliver travels with her at times and she can see most of his matches. Katie enjoys the Auror training. I'm a bit surprised, I never saw her as an Auror."
"Harry says she's doing really well."
Ginny could see the tension in Angelina's shoulders. "Have you talked to George?"
The older witch sighed. "I have. I don't know. He needs to decide what he wants to do. I've told him where I stand. I really fancy him and I think we could be good together. He's not a substitute for Fred; I liked Fred, but we didn't have the same spark that George and I do."
"What does he think?"
Angelina shook her head. "He still isn't sure if he would be betraying Fred by dating me or not. He needs to come to that decision himself. He did tell me that he's not dating Ruby. They're good friends and she helped him through a lot, but she's actually engaged to be married."
"I didn't realize that," Ginny commented.
Angelina shrugged. "I think he wanted to give your mother the impression he was in a relationship."
"I can understand that," Ginny agreed. "She's a bit much at times."
"How is Harry?"
Ginny smiled happily. "He's wonderful! We're getting married in December."
"That's great," Angelina said. "The two of you are great together and really deserve to be happy."
At that point, the medi-witch called Ginny in for her physical. Thankfully, the exam didn't take long and Ginny was declared in good health.
It was early evening and Harry was the last Auror trainee left in the office. He didn't have to be anywhere in particular and sometimes it was just easier to read and concentrate without all of the commotion. The trainees had their own area adjacent to the main Auror offices.
There were two classrooms as well as a training room and break room. Harry was currently sitting at his desk in the larger room where each trainee had a cubicle. The trainees were reviewing some of the older cases and writing up their assessment of the spells and tactics used. The case Harry had been assigned was a rather disturbing one of a Dark Wizard who had created many inferi. He'd been caught, but only after several inferi attacks on Muggles.
Blinking, Harry looked up. "Hello, Kingsley."
Sitting down, Kingsley smiled at him. "What are you doing here so late?"
Harry shrugged. "I was just reading the case I've been assigned."
"I heard a rumour that Miss Weasley is attending Quidditch trials right now."
A bright smile lit up Harry's face at the thought of his fiancée. "She is. I received a letter from her earlier. She had a great first day and she's really looking forward to the rest of the week. I'm sure she'll get picked up by the Harpies."
"Is that who she's hoping for?"
"Yes, it's been her favourite team forever. She's met Gwenog and impressed her. I think she'll be a shoe-in."
"Well, I certainly wish her luck."
Harry nodded. "Kingsley, can I ask you something?"
"When Ginny talked to the Quidditch scouts, they recommended that we hire a PR person. They recommended someone," Harry searched through his desk drawer and found Clover's card. "Do you think that would be a good idea?"
Looking over the card, Kingsley smiled. "I know Clover. She's a good person." Handing the card back to Harry, he said, "I know you probably don't want to hear this, but it is a good idea. I know you are a private person and you certainly don't owe the public anything, but you are the most famous wizard in Great Britain. The public has an enormous curiosity about you. You can ignore the press and they will continue to print whatever they want about you or you can engage with them and have what you want out in the press."
14 April 1999
Quidditch Trials are brilliant! I'm sharing a room with a nice witch from South Africa, Ginger, and Angelina. She's back from Canada and she's flying better than ever.
We had a really busy first day. First everyone was given a physical and then we had to demonstrate our physical fitness. We ran laps on an indoor track. I didn't realize how much running with you has helped. Some of these people have never even tried to run before. I did fairly well and so did Ginger.
In the afternoon, we went up on our brooms for the first time. They had us fly laps and then formations. I heard a rumour they already dismissed five candidates. There are thirty Chaser candidates. I'm not sure about the other positions, they have us separated by position.
Today was fun. They taught us a bunch of new moves and formations. Angelina says she thinks they were testing us on our ability to learn quickly. I really did learn a lot.
Tomorrow will be a series of scrimmage matches. They will divide us into teams and coaches and management from the different teams will be watching us. Ginger, Angelina, and I will be on the same team. We haven't met the other team members yet.
Ginger's a lot of fun. As I said, she's from South Africa and the school there doesn't have Quidditch. Her dad is from England, he left during the first wizarding war, but he raised her to follow British Quidditch. She doesn't really care what team she makes. It would be brilliant if we ended up on the same squad. She could make the Harpies too as her name also starts with a G. I don't know if it is really true that all Harpies' name need to start with a G, but it can't hurt, right?
I am completely exhausted, but I wanted to tell you what an amazing time I'm having. Sorry I haven't called you on the mirror, but there isn't a lot of privacy here.
I love you,
Harry stood as a slightly plump, pleasant looking blond witch in traditional witches' robes approached him. "I'm Harry Potter."
"Of course you are," she said with a smile as she shook his hand. "I'm Clover Mills. I understand that my cousin, Olivia, met your fiancée."
"Yes, Ginny recommended that I contact you."
"Certainly," Clover replied as she showed Harry into her office. It was a comfortable looking room in a slightly older building. Harry looked around at the small round table and chairs towards which Clover directed him. There were pictures on the wall of Clover with several famous people, Harry recognized several Quidditch players as well as Wireless stars. Her desk held several pictures of a wizard, who Harry assumed was her husband, and three children.
"I'm rather surprised that you don't already have a PR person," Clover said.
Harry ran his hand over the back of his neck. "I don't really like publicity."
Clover laughed. "That is obvious. Unfortunately, you are the most famous wizard in the land right now. I can help you in several ways. I can handle your fan mail, review your invitations, and press releases." She held up her hands. "I know you don't like talking to the press, but press releases can be very handy. It cuts down on rumours and simply incorrect reporting. I'm sure you remember the articles that came out when you and Miss Weasley became engaged. If you'd issued a press release, that would cut down on the rumours."
"That's true, I guess," Harry admitted. He sighed. "I just hate that I have to share anymore of my life with the public."
"After your experiences with Rita Skeeter, I don't blame you," Clover replied. She handed him several typed up papers. "This is what could have been done during your fourth year at Hogwarts."
Raising an eyebrow, Harry read the first one. It read:
Mr Harry Potter, 14, was as surprised as everyone when he was chosen as the fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament. He strongly denies entering the competition nor did he ask anyone else to enter him. An announcement by the Triwizard committee as well as Hogwarts' officials confirms that there is an investigation into the affair. Harry wishes to support the student he calls the 'true' Triwizard Champion, Cedric Diggory. Mr Diggory is a seventh-year student at Hogwarts and the Hufflepuff Quidditch captain.
"I like that," Harry admitted. "It puts the emphasis on Cedric."
Clover nodded. "It does and it would have headed off some of Rita's stories." She paused and looked at him. "I hope you don't mind, I inquired at the Ministry and learned that you have quite a bit of fan mail. Some of the secretaries screen it at present, but I could take over that task. Do you currently read any of your fan mail?"
Harry shook his head. "I can't imagine what sort of nutters would want to write to me."
"I think you'd be surprised," Clover said. "I asked what sort of letters you received."
She slid another parchment across the table to him. It was a grid that totalled up his mail. They were divided into dangerous, crazy, and fans. He was happy to see that most of his mail fell into the fan category.
"What do they say? Why do people want to write to me?" Harry asked in confusion. "I didn't even realize that secretaries screen my mail."
"Apparently, they've been doing that since your parents died," Clover explained gently. "When news of your amazing survival surfaced, people wanted to thank you. You received letters from adults and many from other children. You were sent hundreds of toys and stuffed animals which were sent to children's hospitals and local children's charities."
He stared at the grid even as he tried to grapple with the idea that while he was being neglected and being given no presents at the Dursleys, presents being sent to him were being given away. He tamped down a wave of jealously. It was years ago and he had a wonderful life now.
"How did I get some letters at Hogwarts? I received letters after some of Rita's articles and again once my article was printed in the Quibbler."
Clover sighed. "I believe at some point Fudge suspended the answering of your mail. Also, if it was addressed to you at Hogwarts it had a much more likely chance of getting through. Kingsley reinstated the answering of your mail."
"Would I have to read it? Or answer it?"
"No, I could provide a summary to you. For some of my clients, I send out a form response and a signed letter."
Harry groaned. "I don't want to turn into a Lockhart! For detention one time I had to help him sign his fan mail. It was awful!"
Clover laughed. "I remember him. He was quite full of himself."
"He was! I don't want people thinking I am…I don't know that I think so much of myself."
"You are very famous," Clover pointed out evenly. "I think many of the children who write to you would love to receive a signed picture."
"I'll think about it," Harry grumbled. He wouldn't mind signing something for children, but he wasn't sure about adults. "Will Ginny likely have to do this as well?"
"If she makes a professional Quidditch team, certainly. Each team has its own PR department and spokesperson to deal with the public, but she will be expected to sign autographs and answer fan mail."
While most of him wanted to run as far from this as he could, he recalled the little girl in Hogsmeade who'd come up to thank him and give him a hug. He wouldn't want to disappoint any children who wrote to him.
Reluctantly, he agreed. "I reckon I should probably do this."
"Excellent," Clover replied with a smile. "Let me show you our standard contract and we'll see what changes need to be made."
An hour later, Harry left the office with his head swimming. Clover was very organized and seemed to be very good at her job. He would meet with her in a week once she'd worked through his mail and offers. She was also going to put together some fundraisers for the charities he'd founded to raise their profile so they could help more people.
Ginny plaited her hair carefully before firmly pulling on her uniform and her safety gear. She winced slightly as he pulled her arm guards over the bruises on her arm. She'd been hit with a Bludger and was bruised clear up to her shoulder. Angelina had helped her rub some of her brothers' bruise paste on it, but it didn't work as well with large bruises. She made a mental note to mention that to George. While she'd been offered a potion to help with the minor pain and swelling, she declined. She didn't want anything interfering with her flying.
Today the remaining candidates would fly for the individual teams and meet with any of the teams that were interested. She was hoping the Harpies would be one of the teams interested in her.
The mood in the locker room was much more tense than friendly as it had been at the beginning of the week. The joking and pranks from the beginning of the week had been replaced with snappish answers and little patience. Angelina and Ginger were both still there, but many of the others had been cut.
After tightening her shoes, she picked up her broom and left the room without a word to anyone. Angelina was already on the edge of the pitch waiting for the time to fly. She smiled when she saw Ginny.
Reaching out, she gave the younger girl a one-armed hug keeping her broom in her other hand. "Good luck, Ginny."
"Good luck to you as well," Ginny grinned. "You'll do great!"
"Any team you're hoping for?"
"I don't want to jinx it," Ginny admitted.
Angelina laughed. "I don't blame you."
Together the two witches took off, joining Ginger in the air. After a warm up session, the three joined their Beaters, Keeper, and Seeker. Ginny could feel all of her senses on high alert. When the whistle blew, Ginny tore after the Quaffle. She, Angelina, and Ginger made an effective team and soon they were racking up the points.
Ginny's team won handily with her scoring fifteen of their twenty-five goals. After showering and changing, Ginny rapidly met with several coaches and team managers. The only one she recalled for certain was her meeting with her childhood idol, Gwenog Jones.
Harry glanced at the clock and sighed. Time must be going backwards. Ginny was due to arrive at four o'clock and Harry had been looking at the time every fifteen minutes since before noon. He didn't even have Teddy to keep him occupied.
Wandering down to the kitchen, he decided to bake some scones. Surely Ginny would be hungry once she arrived, right? Pulling out the ingredients, he had to smile. When he was younger, he always hated cooking and baking for his relatives. He had discovered that he loved cooking for his friends – Ginny being his favourite person for whom to cook.
As he pulled the scones out of the oven, he heard the door open. Setting down the baking tray, he hurried towards the kitchen stairs. Before he could go upstairs, Ginny appeared at the top of the staircase. The big smile on her face made him smile, she had good news!
Ginny raced down the stairs and jumped the last three. Luckily, Harry had braced himself and he didn't fall over when she landed in his arms. He wrapped his arms around her neck and kissed her deeply. He was so lost in their kiss that he almost fell over.
Eventually, they had to pull apart. He grinned at her as she slid down his body. "I take it you have good news?"
Grinning, she pulls a letter out of her robes and holds it up so he can see the Harpies logo. "I was offered a starting Chaser position!"
He cheered as she started dancing around the kitchen. He couldn't help but smile at her exuberance. As she danced by him, he tugged on her arm and pulled her in for another kiss.
Several long minutes later, they were sitting at the table. Ginny slathered one of the warm scones with jam. "I was so hungry!"
Laughing, he helped himself to one as well. "I figured I couldn't go wrong by feeding you." After taking a bite, he said, "Well, tell me all about it!"
Ginny launched into a description of the meetings she had today. Finishing her scone, she pulled four more letters out of her pocket. Harry recognized the bright orange of the Chudley Cannons, the emerald green of the Kenmare Kestrals, the black and scarlet of the Ballycastle Bats, and the navy blue of Puddlemere United.
"You received five offers?!"
She shook her head. "I received five starting Chaser offers. I also received offers from the Arrows and the Tornados, but they are reserve positions."
He opened the letters and began reading them. "Gin, these are amazing!"
She nodded happily. "I'm pretty sure I'll accept the Harpies, but I didn't want to act too rashly."
Nodding, he read through the offers. "The Cannons are offering the most money – they even have a big sign on bonus."
She made a face. "Sorry, but no. Ron might be upset with me, but there is no way."
He laughed. "I don't blame you there." Setting aside the Cannons, he looked at the Kestrals, the Bats, and Puddlemere United. "These three are about the same. They all offer about the same amount. The Kestrals want you to live in Ireland and the Harpies want you to live in Wales."
Glancing up he said, "Does that mean I need to start looking for a place in Wales?"
"Would that bother you?"
Laughing, he shook his head. "I don't care where we live as long as we are together. I can Apparate from just about anywhere and there's always the Floo network."
She grinned. "I know that I should think about the other teams, but honestly there is only one team I've ever wanted to play for and they've offered me a good position. Is there any reason I shouldn't accept?"
"Not that I can see," he said, "but it might be a good idea to have Bill or your dad look over them and make sure there's nothing bad in the contracts."
Giggling, she said, "That's what I was thinking!" She sent her plate to the sink and stood up and straddled him. "I think right now we need to celebrate!"
As she wrapped her legs around him, he slid his hands up under her shirt and when it came off, he threw her shirt in the corner. Laughing, she leaned down and kissed him deeply.
When Ginny woke up, the sun was setting, lighting up the room with a bright red colour. She stretched languidly and looked around. There was no sign of Harry or of her clothes. Blushing slightly, she was glad George and Seamus weren't around today. She and Harry had made love in the kitchen and again in their room. She imagined that their clothes were strewn all about the place.
The door opened and Harry stuck his head inside. Ginny smiled at the sight of him. His hair was still wet, so he must have just finished showering.
"Hello, love. I'm glad you woke up. I didn't want to have to wake you. We're having dinner with Bill and Fleur and your parents at Shell Cottage. Of course, if you don't cover up we won't be ready to leave any time in the near future."
Laughing, she bounced out of bed. "I'm going to take a shower – by myself."
A short time later, Harry and Ginny arrived at Shell Cottage. The smell of roast beef wafted through the house. While Harry was still a bit leery of Mrs Weasley, the older witch was thrilled with her daughter's news.
Ginny told them all about try-outs and she filled in her family on the offers she'd received. After dinner, Harry and Fleur cleaned up, while Ginny, Bill and their parents read over each of the contracts thoroughly. Mrs Weasley campaigned briefly for the Cannons, but everyone knew she wanted the Harpies.
"I have to say, the contract looks very good," Bill said with a smile.
Mr Weasley nodded. "I agree. You would have to live in Wales. Did you see that?"
"Yes, Harry and I already talked about it," she replied.
"You will be given four free tickets per home game and two per away game," Bill read. "That could cause some fights."
Mr Weasley laughed. "She will be able to purchase tickets at a decreased rate."
"Gwenog said that there is a friends and family box where most of the families sit," Ginny said.
"That sounds good," Harry said as he re-joined them.
"There is a two-week training camp in August," she said. "During training camp, I need to stay in the dorms that they set up."
Smiling at his daughter, Mr Weasley reached across the table and squeezed her hand. "I am so proud of you, love. I can't wait to see you playing professional Quidditch."
Ginny smiled and rounded the table to hug her father. "Thanks, Dad."
"I can't believe my daughter is going to be the professional Quidditch player," Mrs Weasley said with a smile. Ginny hugged her as well before being grabbed by Bill who kissed her on top of the head. He laughed. "I can't wait to hear Charlie's reaction."
Ginny laughed. "He was one of the worst with 'Ginny can't play with us'."
The Floo flared and Ron's head appeared in the fireplace. "Mum, Dad!"
"Hello, son," Mr Weasley replied. "Is everything okay?"
Ron nodded. "I was wondering where you were."
After glancing at his sister, Bill called out, "Why don't you come over?"
The fire turned green as Ron stepped through. He looked around. "What's going on?"
Ginny jumped up and down on the balls of her feet. "I'm going to be a Harpy!"
A slow smile stretched across Ron's face as Ginny threw her arms around him. "That's great!"
Ron joined them and Fleur brought out her version of Banoffee pie. Ginny recounted her adventures during the week. Harry sat with his arm around her, simply enjoying her nearness. He was happy that she was reconnecting with her mother and Ron.
Laughing she showed Ron her offer from the Cannons. He moaned slightly. "You got an offer from the Cannons?"
"Yes, but there is no way I'm accepting. If you're nice I'll give you a ticket when we play the Cannons."
"Don't you mean beat the Cannons?" Bill laughed.
"You never know," Ron said. "This could be their year!"
"Ron, you've been saying that as long as I've known you. It's not come true yet," Harry teased as everyone else simply laughed.
Smiling ruefully, Ron nodded. "I know, but they have to have a good year sometime, right?"
"Not anytime soon, if I have something to say about it," Ginny said. "Oh, I forgot! Angelina had an offer from Puddlemere and the Magpies. She was thinking of accepting Puddlemere's offer – she wants to play with Oliver."
"Did you tell them about your friend, Ginger?" Harry prodded.
"Ginger! Yes, she was offered a reserve position on the Harpies," Ginny squealed. "I'm sure she's going to accept."
"That's great, love,' Mrs Weasley said. "It makes me feel better that you'll know someone there." Clearing her throat, she said, "I would also like to apologize for my awful reaction to everything this summer."
"Mum, you've already apologized," Ginny said.
"Not to Harry," she said. Looking at the young man who had so easily captured her daughter's heart she said, "I treated you quite badly and I am very sorry. I wasn't paying proper attention to my daughter and I misread your relationship. I should have had more faith in you and I didn't. I am very pleased that the two of you have found each other and I can't wait to start planning your wedding."
Wiping her eyes, Ginny watched as her mother hugged Harry. He returned the hug fully. "Thank you. I promise you, I might not always do the right thing, but I will never hurt her on purpose. I love Ginny and I can't wait to start my life with her."
Ron cleared her throat as well. As his ears turned bright red, he said, "I need to officially apologize as well. Harry, you've been my best mate for years. I know I haven't acted like it this past year, but I am thrilled that you are going to officially be part of our family."
Harry hugged him as well and they both started laughing. "Thank you, mate. I appreciate it. I hated that everyone was so upset about our relationship."
"I was acting like a git," Ron said. "You and Ginny are in a much different place than me and Hermione and I should have understood that. I know you worried about her last year and I honestly couldn't find a better person for her."
Ginny hugged her brother before settling on Harry's lap. It looked like their family was healing. Early the next morning, Athena flew off to Wales with Ginny's signed contract for the Harpies.
A/N: Thank you to my wonderful betas Arnel and StephanieO! I appreciate their hard work!