December 16, 2013
Blanket Disclaimer: All characters and terminology belong to JK Rowling.
Author's Note: This story was written for Interhouse Fest 2013. The majority of the story takes place on a tiny island off the coast of Sardinia called La Maddalena. I don't speak Italian so feel free to correct me if that's wrong (it won't show up until the next chapter). And thanks so much to D for betaing for me. This story is complete in four parts, but I might rearrange, combine, or add to the last three chapters in some way, shape, or form. I hope you enjoy the story! Reviews appreciated!
All Work and No Play
"Minister of Magic's office, this is Ginevra Weasley speaking. How may I help you?"
A woman's impatient voice answered. "I want to speak to the Minister of Magic."
The hand holding the phone spasmed, but Ginny took the question in stride. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"No, I don't want to talk to you. I want to talk to someone in charge. I've been calling over and over again for the past hour trying to talk to someone, and the line is always buzzy. So let me speak to the Minister, since no one else is there to help me!"
Now Ginny rolled her eyes at the turn the call had taken.
"The Minister is in a meeting right now, but I'm sure I can help you."
Ginny listened as the woman explained the predicament that needed the Minister's immediate attention.
"...but nothing happened, and I realized I'd been disconnected from the Floo Network! Someone made a mistake and I want it fixed right now!"
"You will have to speak with the Department of Magical Transportation. I can transfer you—"
"No!" the woman said, unyielding. "I don't want you to transfer me. I want you to fix my Floo. If you can't do that, then I want you to get someone who can!"
"The Department of Magical—"
But the woman interrupted her. "I. Don't. Want. To. Speak. To. Them. Do I have to repeat myself? Fix my Floo, now!"
"Okay," Ginny said, gritting her teeth to keep from snapping into the telephone, "let me let you speak with the Minister of Magic." Then she pressed the necessary buttons on the phone's console to transfer the belligerent woman to Magical Transportation and hung up as soon as she heard a dial tone.
"Who thought telephones were a good idea?" she complained out loud. The office was empty save for her sitting behind a wide wooden counter separating the Minister of Magic's office from the corridor.
Kingsley Shacklebolt had been Minister for four years, not including his unofficial stint as Minister directly after the war. Public opinion of him had been extremely favorable during Reconstruction; the new Minister of Magic couldn't leave office soon enough once Kingsley officially began to campaign years later. He was also a close family friend of the Weasleys' thanks to their mutual involvement in the Order of the Phoenix, which was how Ginny had become the Minister's personal assistant. After years of jumping from one temporary job to the next, finding neither fulfillment nor happiness, Arthur had finally asked Kingsley for help on Ginny's behalf.
So here she was, and this job was worse than any job she'd had before. However, she knew that she was in a position of trust, and that her father had done what most Weasleys had too much pride to do—ask for help—so turning her nose up at such a respectable job would make her ungrateful.
She was grateful for the job. Mostly. She wasn't grateful for the boredom or the loss of brain cells that each call inspired though.
Kingsley opened his office door, and Draco Malfoy walked out. He and the Minister shook hands, a great smile on Kingsley's face, a neutral expression on Malfoy's, before Malfoy took his leave.
"How are the telephones?" Kingsley asked.
Ginny stifled an exasperated sigh. "The same as usual. I don't know why people think we can solve all their problems. If they tried contacting the right departments, they wouldn't keep getting the turnaround."
Kingsley patted her shoulder with one large hand. "Now, now. The phones are as new to them as they are to us. Do you know why I decided to implement them?" Ginny knew—she'd heard it hundreds of times from her father, who had never been prouder than when the Minister had adopted one of his ideas—but she shook her head. "Transparency. I want the populace to know that there are no secrets between my office and their ears. That's why my telephone number is on every flier."
His telephone number! More like Ginny's telephone number!
He patted her shoulder again, and Ginny kept herself from shrugging out from under his touch. It wasn't personal, but now Kingsley was her boss, and since she hated her job, her resentment had a tendency to leak.
"Keep up the good work. Do you have that file for my meeting tomorrow morning?"
She was already handing him the scroll before he'd finished asking the question, and then the phone rang.
Kingsley chuckled as he went back into his office. "I'll leave you to it."
Great, Ginny thought.
"Minister of Magic's office, this is Ginevra Weasley speaking. How may I help you?"
"You said you were going to transfer me to the Minister, but you didn't, and the lines were buzzy! I want to speak to your supervisor! I have never been treated with such a blatant lack of respect! If my Floo does not get fixed A-S-A-P, I will—!"
Ginny held the phone away from her ear, nodding along every now and then as she let the angry caller blow off some steam.
She really hated her job.
"It just makes me lose faith in humanity!" Ginny cried, hours later at the Leaky Cauldron with her mates.
Hermione gave her a skeptical look. "Don't you think that's a bit dramatic?"
"No!" Ginny said, now riled up at Hermione's lack of understanding. "Whoever said there's no such thing as a stupid question lied, because I hear hundreds of stupid questions everyday." She laid her head down on the sticky table, not only physically exhausted from her day at work, but emotionally strung out as well.
"Now you're exaggerating," Hermione said.
"Okay, yes, that was a bit of hyperbole, but that doesn't change how awful those telephones are," she replied in a muffled, whining voice.
"Ginny, your father is really proud of those phones. I hope you don't say those kinds of things in front of him!"
"Of course not," she conceded. She sighed, resting her chin on the tabletop to look into Hermione's eyes. "I'm really proud of him too. The phones do exactly what both my dad and the Minister wanted. I just don't want to have anything to do with them."
"But wizard-Muggle relations have never been better since we implemented the phones! And the public really appreciates them. The Ministry has never been so easy to contact—"
"Or harass," Ginny added. "I know. I know the whole spiel. Can't I just hate my job without the lecture?"
Hermione sniffed but was prevented from saying anything more by the reemergence of Dennis Creevey and Seamus Finnegan, pints of mead in hand.
"Hey!" Seamus cried, looking from Ginny to Hermione and back again. "Why the long faces? It's a Friday night and we're out on the town. No frowning!"
Just to spite him, Ginny frowned harder as she accepted her mead and took a drink. One more of these and she would forget all about how her job stifled her.
"What's got your knickers in a twist?" Dennis asked. He only shrugged when his inquiry was met with twin glares.
"I hate my job," Ginny muttered into her drink.
"Who doesn't?" Seamus asked.
Dennis and Hermione both said, "Not me!"
"If I had a job I loved taking photographs for a living," Ginny said with a nod in Dennis's direction, "you wouldn't hear me complain. And not everyone can be content with a boring Ministry office job like you, Hermione."
Seamus leaned over the table and gestured towards Ginny with his mug. "You know, what you need is a bloke."
Now Ginny glared at Seamus, and Hermione sputtered angry protests that were ignored.
Ginny interrupted her to say, "Seamus, if you don't stop that thought right there, you're going to be sorry."
He held one hand up in a defensive gesture.
"I'm just sayin'! I hear Harry's still available."
"Oh, you! You're teasing me now! Stop being a prat and leave off about the blokes!"
Seamus laughed, and it took all that Ginny had not to toss her drink in the man's face. But that was just Seamus. If he wasn't teasing or laughing about something, he wouldn't be the man they knew, loved, and sometimes wanted to pummel with a Bludger bat.
"What's wrong with working for the Minister?" Dennis asked.
Ginny slumped in her seat and nursed her drink with both hands. "I don't know. It's boring. It's tedious. I do more work than I'm paid for, and I get no recognition or appreciation. I know I should be grateful—"
"You should!" Hermione interjected.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Yes, well, I know that, but why should I be grateful for a job I didn't want and don't like?"
"Hear hear!" Seamus said, and then he chugged half his mead.
"Hey, if you could have any job in the world, what would you do?" Dennis asked with a wistful smile. He was quite charming, with a boyish face, dark hair, and light eyes. Unfortunately, good-looking as he was, women tended to mistake him for someone younger—such as a Hogwarts student.
As Hermione, Seamus, and Dennis took up the discussion, Ginny stepped back from it, bitter feelings overwhelming her. The alcohol exacerbated her mood, but she continued to drink, wishing for numbness.
She'd had her dream job for a few short months. Almost as soon as she'd left Hogwarts, she'd been picked up by the Falmouth Falcons, and she'd loved the freedom of flying, the rush of competition, the thrill of the chase for the Quaffle. That dream had ended with a particularly bad injury from a Bludger. Four of the fingers on her right hand had been broken, along with more bones in her wrist. The Healers at St. Mungo's had done the best they could, but the nerve damage had ruined her hand. She'd lost most of the feeling in her fingers, and sometimes she couldn't move them at all, which made handling a Quaffle, a Snitch, or a bat difficult, if not impossible. A repeat injury to her hand could worsen the damage, which made her a liability as a Keeper. So her Quidditch career had ended just as it was beginning.
Since then, she'd had job after job, but nothing had compared to the one she'd lost, and she'd never quite gotten over her bitterness.
Her family and friends thought her discontent was her own fault, as if she refused to like any job she took because it wasn't Quidditch. She liked to think she was above that. The jobs truly had not appealed to her, not because they hadn't involved a broom, but because Quidditch had been the one job that had been perfect for her, and she hadn't yet found one that could compare.
"Budge up," she said to Dennis, nudging him with her shoulder. "I need some fresh air."
As Dennis scooted out of the booth, Hermione shot Ginny her trademark expression of concern. Even though she could be annoyingly overbearing at times, at least she had what the boys lacked: tact and skills of observation. "Do you want me to go with you?" she asked.
Seamus was laughing his head off and banging on the table, his face already as red as a Quaffle, and Dennis took pictures of him for proof of his idiocy after they sobered up. If someone wasn't there to stop them from getting out of hand, they would both drink too much, and Ginny didn't want to be banned from another pub for Seamus and Dennis's drunken antics. The last time they'd been thrown out of a bar, Seamus had left with less clothes than he'd entered in and Dennis had had to crawl out the door, his legs too unsteady to carry him. Hermione was the best at ruining people's fun, and thus saving them from another Wall of Shame.
"No," Ginny said to Hermione's inquiry. "I want to be alone for a minute."
Standing up had clearly caused the alcohol to go straight to Dennis's head, because as soon as she vacated the booth, he collapsed back into it, flopping down onto the bench bonelessly. Raucous laughter followed her as she exited the pub.
Outside, the night air was thick and hot, not at all a relief from the atmosphere inside the pub. Ginny pulled her top away from her chest, fanning herself with the flimsy material. Her right hand spasmed, and she gasped in pain, her other hand automatically grasping the wrist to massage her palm with a thumb. The pain wasn't real. There was no feeling in that hand, but whenever her fingers suddenly tensed like that, she could almost swear that she'd felt something.
She reached into her pocket, pulling out a package of cigarettes and a lighter. With her first puff, her bitterness drained right out of her, leaving in the form of smoke with each exhale. A few more puffs and the tension disappeared completely.
"Weasley?" a voice in the passing crowd enquired.
Ginny turned her head to see Draco Malfoy with a willowy blonde woman, and she automatically lowered her hand, hiding the cigarette slightly behind her back. Even outside of work, she still represented the Minister's office, and while Kingsley would congratulate her for embracing Muggle culture, he probably would not approve of this particular habit.
"Mr. Malfoy," she said as he and the woman approached.
"Draco is fine," he replied. "You don't have to be so formal outside of the office."
Ginny nodded in acquiescence. Malfoy wasn't a coworker of hers, but he had funded the telephone project at the Ministry. He frequently met with the Minister and the project committee to discuss its progress and success. As a result, Ginny saw him often when he arrived at the office for meetings.
"Weasley," Draco said as he placed his hand on the other woman's back, "this is my friend Astoria. Astoria, this is—"
"Ginny Weasley," Astoria said, holding out a hand for Ginny to shake. Ginny had no choice but to offer her injured one and hope that it would cooperate long enough for a handshake. Thankfully, it did. "I remember you from Hogwarts," she continued. "And I was a fan while you were with the Falcons."
Ginny's smile became a grimace.
"Why don't we meet up later?" Draco said to Astoria. "I'll owl you."
The woman smiled prettily and batted her eyelashes before kissing him on the cheek and taking her leave. Ginny gave her a half-hearted wave.
"You didn't have to run her off."
He shrugged and made a face. "It's no big deal. You didn't look like you wanted company anyway."
She eyed him pointedly. "Yet you're still here."
He startled her by laughing. "Fair enough. I just wanted to bum a cigarette off you, if you don't mind. Then I'll leave you alone."
Now Ginny paused, but he seemed serious, so she raised her cigarette back to her mouth, ashes falling onto her robes. She pulled the pack and lighter back out of her pocket and handed them to him.
"The great Draco Malfoy smokes? That's shocking."
His chuckle was muffled by the cigarette in his mouth and his attempts to light it. When he returned the pack and lighter, he said, "That's why I sent Astoria away. I'm trying to quit, and she'd only disapprove."
"How long since your last cigarette?"
He looked at his wristwatch. "About eight hours."
She shot him an appreciative glance. "I never pegged you as a smoker."
"I never pegged you as a secretary."
Irritated, Ginny blew a cloud of smoke in his direction. "I'm an administrative assistant, and I'm not going to be one long." She hoped.
"Why not? It's a respectable job. Or so I've heard." Draco replied.
"It's not for me," she answered. She shifted her stance and squeezed her right hand into a fist, her fingernails digging into her palm. She couldn't feel it. "I'm looking for something else."
"You know what I think?"
Ginny shrugged. Her eyes were intent on the bustling crowd.
"You need to get away. Get out of the country and travel around."
She looked at him now. Really looked at him. He was dressed to the nines in slate-colored robes and polished shoes. His longish blond hair swept his shoulders, but it looked neat and cared for, and his pointy features had filled out. He looked wealthy, healthy, and... good.
"Like a vacation?" she asked. "Are you going to pay for my trip?"
One corner of his mouth lifted into not quite a smirk. "Sometimes I forget that not everyone is as wealthy as I am."
"How can you forget? You're one of the richest people in Britain." She threw her cigarette onto the ground and stepped on it, grinding it with her high heel.
He shrugged again but didn't answer. "Leaving? Thanks for the cigarette."
"No problem," she replied.
"Weasley," he called before she reentered the pub. She paused and looked back at him. "If you quit your job, I'll pay for your trip personally."
She laughed. "Sure, okay. I'll believe that when I see it."
As she rejoined her friends in The Three Broomsticks, she put Malfoy's words behind her. As if she'd quit this job after all her father had done for her to get it!
A week later, Ginny sat at her desk eating an apple. The phone had been ringing non-stop all day long, and she'd just turned it off to catch her breath. All the other work she had to do was almost impossible to complete when her concentration was disturbed every thirty seconds, and now she craved a cigarette so badly, her hands were shaking. She worked her injured hand into a fist, clenching it and unclenching it until it spasmed. She sucked in a breath and put her apple down on the desk, suddenly sick to her stomach.
The door behind her opened, and the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation looked out.
"Excuse me, miss. Could you fetch us some more coffee? Oh, and some of those little rectangular biscuits as well. Did you make them? They were excellent."
The man was kindly and stocky, with an easy smile set amongst the wrinkles in his old face, but he didn't even bother to wait to hear Ginny's reply before he returned to his meeting with the Minister. He shut the door in her face, and Ginny was left to stew at the man's gall. She was an administrative assistant! Her job description said she would take care of invoices and filing and take notes in meetings when necessary. She wasn't a maid to be bossed around or to serve biscuits and coffee!
Draco Malfoy's suggestion that she get out of the country kept sounding better and better. However, the sparseness of her bank vault made the dream impossible. As she went to the small kitchen and made up the tea and put some more biscuits on a plate, she envisioned what it would be like to walk down a street where no one knew her face or her name. As she returned to the Minister's office and knocked on the door, she imagined the freedom of serving no one, of catering to her own desires. She tried to think about a sound that was worse than the ringing of a telephone and couldn't come up with one.
Her unnecessary duty complete, she sat back down at her desk and retrieved a blank sheet of parchment. Dipping her quill into an inkwell, she began to pen her resignation letter, and as soon as the head of International Magical Cooperation vacated the office, she handed the letter to the Minister.
"I don't understand," Kingsley said.
Frankly, Ginny didn't either. The letter in Kingsley's hand begged her to take it back before she made a mistake she couldn't fix, but she ignored its pitiful, imaginary cries and stiffened her spine. It was time for her to stop doing what everyone else expected of her. The only person she needed to satisfy was herself.
"Please don't tell my parents," she replied.
In the end, she should have known asking to keep something from her parents would inspire the opposite result. When Ginny arrived home from work that evening, she found Hermione and her mother sitting at the kitchen table having a cuppa, and it was clear by the shocked looks on their faces when Ginny walked in the door that they were talking about her.
Mrs. Weasley jumped out of her chair to attend to supper while Hermione stared down into her tea, her brows bunched in a guilty expression.
"How was work, dear?" her mother asked.
"Just wonderful," Ginny replied sardonically as she threw her handbag onto a chair. She plopped into another chair with equal force and poured herself some tea, all while Hermione smiled stiffly and fiddled with her stirring spoon.
Ginny sighed in resignation. "How did you hear?" she asked.
"Hear what?" Hermione answered, feigning surprise—badly, Ginny would say. Hermione's skills at subterfuge were appalling. It was in her nature to tell the truth, so when she did try to lie, she became twitchy with guilt.
"Mum, sit down," Ginny said, waving Mrs. Weasley to the table. Then she turned back to Hermione. "I should have known you'd consult my mum about my decisions behind my back."
Once her lie was discovered, Hermione always became indignant, taking the moral high ground as justification for her actions. Even now, her nose rose a little higher in the air, and Ginny prepared for a long lecture from both women.
"It's a terrible decision. You don't know what you're doing, and you need someone to make you realize that."
Though they were friends, this was the side of Hermione with which Ginny had always been at odds, even back at school. Her fingers tightened on the handle of her teacup as she said, "Last I checked, we were nearly the same age. I don't think a year of seniority makes you my keeper. My life is no one's business, least of all yours, Hermione!"
"Ginny!" Mrs. Weasley scolded from the other side of the table. "Hermione is concerned about you. Is that any way to talk to your friends?"
Ginny averted her eyes from Hermione's slightly trembling lip, irritation winning out over guilt or pity.
"It is when they meddle in other people's lives! I know you're worried about me, but, please, don't. I'm an adult. I didn't want that job, and you and Dad can't jump in and pull strings for me anymore. I have to figure out my own life."
Ginny gently pushed her teacup away, and, without another glance at Hermione's reluctantly contrite face, she went upstairs to her room, massaging the tense muscles in her damaged hand as she left.
Ginny scoured back-issues of The Daily Prophet, pouring through the classifieds section in a futile attempt at job searching. Bags had developed under her eyes in less than three days, and a noticeable funk now enveloped her. Perhaps that was natural when she wore the same pajamas for three days, didn't brush her hair, and sometimes forgot to freshen up her deodorant.
"Are you trying to make a point?" Hermione asked, scrunching her nose in distaste. "Because I think you've made it."
"Wha?" Ginny said through a mouthful of muffin. Mrs. Weasley had baked a dozen for Ginny's friends, but no one had been unable to get close to them since they'd been delivered to Ginny's bedroom.
"She means you stink," Seamus added helpfully.
An hour ago they'd all been helping Ginny in her job search by circling promising ads, but Seamus had grown bored of that quickly. His stack of Daily Prophets had been decorated with mustaches charmed to move with the photographs. Ginny had got a pretty good laugh out of the Fu Manchu drawn onto a photo of Harry. The charm was wearing off now, though, and the mustache was lagging a moment behind Harry's movements.
Ginny turned her head to smell her shirt and shrugged.
"Hey, what about this one?" Dennis asked as he held up a paper for Ginny's perusal.
"'Nanny wanted. Sunday through Saturday, 8 AM to 8 PM. Four children, ages two to nine,'" Ginny read. "What makes you think I'd ever want to nanny?"
"I dunno," Dennis said. "You grew up in a house full of kids."
"How much does it pay?" Seamus asked with a grin.
Ginny scanned the ad again. "Uh... Ten Galleons a week? For four children, twelve hours a day, seven days a week?" She threw the paper back at Dennis in disgust, and he went straight back to searching.
Hermione stood up. "You can't turn your nose up at every suggestion."
Without looking up from her newspaper, she replied, "Why not? You're always turning your nose up at me. Just following your example."
The other girl's lips tightened while Dennis and Seamus looked at each other uneasily. Ever since Ginny had quit her job, she and Hermione hadn't been on the best of terms. Both of them had stubbornly refused to apologize, and to say that their fighting had begun to strain the relationship of the whole group was an understatement.
Silence reigned for a few precious moments while Ginny continued to stuff muffins in her mouth as she half-heartedly perused the papers. Hermione and Dennis were more purposeful in their search, and Seamus had moved on from drawing mustaches to playing tic-tac-toe against himself.
The monotony was broken up by the tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap of an owl sitting on the windowsill, pecking at the glass rather impatiently.
When Ginny opened the window, the owl hopped inside and held out its leg. She detached the letter and shooed the bird out without a tip or even a treat.
"Who's it from?" Seamus asked in a sing-song voice.
"Your mum," Ginny answered, sitting back down on her bed.
The letter was simply addressed to G. Weasley, and it was sealed with silver wax stamped with a bold letter M.
Imagine my surprise today when I arrived for a meeting with the Minister only to find an unfamiliar face greeting me at the door. Well, I must admit I saw this coming. Someone like you shouldn't sit behind a desk answering inane telephone calls and serving coffee to the wealthy and powerful. I am making good on my grandiose promise the last time we met. I have already had 1000 Galleons deposited into your Gringotts vault.
I hope you enjoy your trip. Italy is rather nice this time of year.
Ginny turned the parchment over, looking for a Just kidding! or a late April Fools! Then she read the letter again—twice.
"Looks like good news, eh?" Seamus said with a nudge at Dennis.
"What is it?" Hermione asked, putting aside her stubbornness for concern.
Ginny lifted her head, looking at each of her friends in turn. Curiosity stared back at her from three sets of eyes.
"I'm going on holiday."
Ginny didn't waste any time after receiving Draco's letter. Standing at the departure gate with her family and friends around her, she was glad she hadn't waited any longer to leave. Four days of her mother's worry and discouragement was enough to drive her up a wall, not to mention Hermione's—thankfully—silent disapproval.
Mrs. Weasley was tight-lipped. She'd already said everything she'd needed to say in the last four days, and none of her words had convinced Ginny to stay home and look for work.
"Ginny, can I talk to you?" Hermione asked. She pulled Ginny away from the group and said in a low voice, "Please be practical. All you are doing is putting off the inevitable!"
Ginny frowned. "To you I'm running away from my problems and throwing my life away. But I don't have a life. Ever since my Quidditch career ended—"
"So this is about Quidditch!" Hermione exclaimed.
"Yes, it's about Quidditch!" Tears stung Ginny's eyes, and she turned her head away from her friend to hide the presence of them. At her side, she clenched her hand into a fist. "When I lost my career, I lost something of myself. I can't just pick up another job and be happy. I need to get away, go somewhere where people don't know my face or my name. I just need time to think, until I can find something else."
Finally, for the first time in days, Hermione looked at her with something other than disapproval on her face. Her concern wasn't for Ginny's life spiraling out of control; it was for Ginny herself, the person underneath the ruined Quidditch career and all of the mistakes.
"Everyone was right. I wasn't ready to move on. I'm still not. I just need to get away so I can forget."
"Okay," Hermione said. "All right. I'll support you."
Ginny smiled and delicately wiped under her eyes to get rid of the tears. "That's not necessary. I made this decision without anyone's support, and I still don't need it now."
Only one person had supported her in this mess, and that was Draco Malfoy. Literally supported her. The day after she'd received his letter, Ginny had gone to Gringotts to check her vault, and every Galleon Draco had mentioned was there. She didn't know why he wanted to help her, didn't care to question it at all. If he was foolish enough to pay for her holiday, then she was going to accept it.
But she hadn't told anyone else about the money. That was a whole other lecture she never wanted to hear.
Rejoining the group, Ginny hugged both of her parents, Ron, and George. Seamus wrapped her in such a tight hug, Ginny struggled to breathe, and then he planted a sloppy wet kiss on her cheek.
"What are you, a dog?" she asked in disgust as she wiped her face with her sleeve.
"Woof woof!" he barked back at her. "And don't come back without a bloke! Remember what I said!"
She rolled her eyes and turned to Dennis.
"Here," he said, offering her a box. "To document your trip."
Ginny took the box under one arm and pulled the lid off with her free hand, revealing a camera settled amongst wads of newspaper.
"Oh, Dennis! You didn't!"
"It's Colin's. I've been saving it for something special, and I figure this might be it. Take lots of pictures. For us. For him." He smiled sheepishly, but his eyes had the glassy look that meant he was close to tears—though he'd never shed a single one in her presence before. Not since the funerals and vigils for the fallen from the war years ago.
"I will!" Ginny said, touched by his gesture. She put the lid back on the box, and then threw her arms around Dennis's neck. "Thank you so much. I'll take so many pictures, and then I'll make all of you look at them when I get back!"
"You're gonna regret that gift later, ain'tcha, mate?" Seamus said with a joking poke to Dennis's ribs.
He dodged the attack and smiled. "Nah. I never regret. Life's too short for that."
The mood of the group sobered as a woman's magnified voice announced the ten minute warning for the Portkey headed to Rome. Ginny went through another round of hugs again, finishing with her mum, who had finally shed her disapproving expression.
"Be careful, Ginny! Please write as soon as you can and let us know you're safe! Be careful of strangers, and don't stay out too late after dark!"
Ginny laughed. "I'll be fine, Mum! You're acting like I can't take care of myself!"
She could. She had. To get through the war, it had been necessary for Ginny to survive any way she could. A holiday would be no problem after what she'd experienced at Hogwarts at the hands of the Carrows.
With a final wave, she left her family at the gate and was ushered to her Portkey.
She had plenty of doubts, but no regrets.