March 21, 2015
Author's Note: *looks at Updated Date* *looks at calendar* *flies off into the sun*
So. I did NOT intend to take this long to update what I considered to be a completed story! And I am so, so, so sorry for the wait. Editing the ending turned into rewriting the ending, which turned into writer's block, and then obstacles in the form of multiple writing commitments, BUT FINALLY. It is here. The last chapter! I hope some of you have stuck around to see the end of this story, and I hope you like it! Reviews appreciated!
All Work and No Play
Ginny stared at her entrance ticket without reading a word on it. Not that she could, anyway. Two weeks traveling around Italy had not improved her skill with the language.
She stared at her ticket because she was nervous. She'd already emptied multiple rolls of film in Pompeii and Naples, Florence, Venice, and Pisa. Rome she'd saved for last, and her four days there had been magical so far. The Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, and St. Peter's Cathedral were enchanting in the misty glow of dawn, the illuminating light of dusk, and the haunting shadows of night. Rolls and rolls of film had been spent capturing these monuments from every angle in every light.
The art she'd seen had awed her in ways art never had before. When she'd walked through the Sistine Chapel and finally stood in front of the altar, Michelangelo's The Last Judgment had transfixed her. Her Muggle Studies knowledge of religion had failed her, but she didn't have to know about Jesus Christ to see the tragic beauty of the figures ascending to Heaven and falling to Hell. The people packed into the chapel were quickly ushered out of the room in order to keep the crowd moving, but Ginny had to stop in front of the altar and pick out as many details in the fresco as she could. She saw herself in the withered skin in the middle of the painting, in the people rising up to their salvation. The experience of viewing such ancient and beautiful architecture, paintings, and sculptures had left her inarticulate and dissatisfied with herself. She thought she'd lost everything when she'd been forced to quit Quidditch, but what had she really accomplished in her life?
She supposed after all she'd seen and all the photographs she'd taken it was time to move on to another country, see what else Europe had to offer her.
But before she left, there was one more thing she needed to do.
The line she was standing in moved forward another few feet. Ginny tried to ignore her heart thumping in her chest like an animal attempting to escape a trap, tried to swallow the cold taste of fear in her mouth. Ancient magic wasn't to be trifled with. As she stared at her ticket (pretending to read it in an attempt to hide her nerves), she itched to go back to her hotel. She wouldn't even miss the three euro she'd left as a donation upon entering the piazza.
The Bocca della Verità, the Mouth of Truth, loomed closer as the line steadily advanced forward. Ginny had seen pictures of it in her travel map and on postcards at the souvenir booths that lined the streets of Rome. After she'd read about the legend behind the marble face, she knew she had to visit it, even though the legend that the Muggles half-heartedly believed had a ring of truth they didn't understand. The story stank of ancient magic, the likes of which hadn't been seen in England since the druids. Throughout Italy, the magic still lingered among the ancient monuments and sites, and in the stories passed down through the generations.
As the legend went, liars with the audacity to insert their hands inside the Mouth of Truth risked having their appendages bitten off by the ocean god whose face was depicted in the marble slab. Ginny had spent years lying to herself about her injury, her happiness, and her abilities. In a city where ancient magic still existed, Merlin only knew what would really happen to her if she followed the tradition of inserting her hand in the carving's mouth.
She looked down at her hands and frowned. No matter how much she wished for them to move, the fingers of her right hand remained curled inwards and mostly unresponsive. Sometimes there were moments when she realized she had a grip, but almost as soon as she thought about it, her hand would betray her and become immovable once again. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if the Mouth of Truth disposed of the useless thing for her.
But that wasn't why Ginny had come. Before she left Italy behind, she needed to figure out what was truth and what was a lie. The worst part was that she already knew, she just didn't want to face it.
When it was her turn to approach the carved marble, her feet wouldn't budge. The ocean god Oceanus stared back at her with lifeless voids where his pupils should have been, his mouth an emotionless, gaping cavity. Perhaps it was just her imagination, but he seemed so disappointed by the endless lines of perjurers that visited him daily. An impatient tourist nudged her forward with an annoyed "Hmph," and Ginny stepped closer, her mind rushing in search of a truth to test.
Draco came to mind, and her heart beat erratically at the thought of him, of his kiss and the kindness he had shown her—the kindness she had mistaken for pity and selfishness. She knew now that she had overreacted about the money he had gifted her. As she'd traveled these past few weeks, she'd thought hard about everything he had said to her, even before they'd met in La Maddalena. Not once had he ever mentioned her injury. Not until La Maddalena, well after he'd given her the money.
Was it really so hard to believe that Draco could feel guilt for an injury he hadn't caused? It had been, at first, but then she remembered the Draco she'd come to know on the beach, in the piazza, at the night market. He'd been a boy when his mother had sent him away to escape the censure of the unforgiving public, and even though the war had ended years ago, he still escaped to Italy every summer. There was something about his retreat that saddened Ginny and piqued her interest. The Draco she had met in La Maddalena was reserved and observant. He'd been a far cry from the spoiled, obnoxious, attention-seeking ferret of his school days.
Now standing in front of the Mouth of Truth, the ocean god's eyes staring into hers, Ginny flexed her hands, and she pretended the injured one moved when she commanded it to. Draco had insisted that she was whole and capable. No one had said that to her before. Her parents, who had worried for her safety, had been relieved when her Quidditch career had ended. Her friends had sympathized but had quickly grown weary of her unhappiness and her inability to cope with her new circumstances. Everyone had wanted her to forget and move on.
Not Draco. He'd encouraged her to forge ahead, not only with her disability, but despite it. Despite herself and her fears and her insecurities.
And she had. When she'd left La Maddalena, she hadn't given her hand a second thought, and when she didn't think about it, it didn't bother her. In fact, it was amazing how inconsequential the injury was when she didn't waste any brain power worrying about spasms and unresponsive fingers.
The only difficulty posed so far was how to use her camera, but she had solved that problem by holding it upside down to press the shutter release button with her left hand instead.
The people behind Ginny were starting to complain in loud voices in a variety of languages, so she took a deep breath and placed her left hand on Oceanus's nose, feeling the cool stone under her fingers, the rough pits and bumps where the marble had weathered with the ages. Then, letting her hand drop, she switched. She raised her right hand to the mouth and placed it just inside. The air in the interior of the cavity was strangely dense and warm. Ginny could feel the heat radiating up her arm.
I am capable of anything I put my mind to, she thought. No power in the world can stop me. Not my family. Not my friends. Not my hand—or myself.
She recalled the worst periods of her life: her possession by Voldemort's memory in her first year at Hogwarts and the months she'd suffered and rebelled under the Death Eaters' tyranny at school. Everything had culminated in the battle where she'd lost her brother and so many friends. Ginny hadn't just endured her experiences—she'd transcended them, refusing to let them control or shape her negatively. When she looked back on the years she'd wasted being miserable because of her lost Quidditch career, she felt the worst kind of shame. The loss of the use of her hand could never compare to the loss of her brother, but she'd acted as though her whole life had ended when that Bludger had shattered her.
The heat inside the mouth increased until it felt like the marble god was breathing fire. Pinpricks of light appeared in the center of the gaping holes of Oceanus's eyes, and with every second, the light grew brighter, more piercing. Ginny could neither look away nor remove her hand, even if the thought had occurred to her to do so. But then the statue sighed, and the exhalation sounded like "Vero" with the last syllable elongated in a deep, ancient hum. Veroooooooooooo.
Ginny jerked her hand to her chest, holding it gently, but the skin was smooth and warm, no sign that it had roasted in blistering heat. She looked around; none of the tourists in line behind her, nor the attendant standing off to the side, seemed to have noticed the light in the stone carving's eyes. But she was being ushered along now, so she pulled the camera strap over her head and held it up to the attendant.
"Scusi? Er, per favore?"
The attendant, who clearly wanted to keep the line moving, snapped her picture with a huff, which was fine with Ginny since she wanted to move along herself. Her heart was still racing and her hands were shaking as she took her camera back and left the church.
It wasn't until she stopped across the street from the church that she realized that she was carrying the camera in one trembling hand. Her right hand. She quickly threw the camera strap around her neck before her hand failed her and she dropped it. Then, unsure of what to make of her final experience in Rome, she looked for the nearest bus stop to return to her hotel.
Ginny had booked passage on a train to take her to Switzerland, and from there into Germany for the next stop on her European tour, but after her visit to the Mouth of Truth, she changed her plans. She picked up a postcard at the bus station, and as soon as she entered her hotel room, threw her souvenirs down and grabbed a pen.
The ominous, ancient voice of the Mouth of Truth echoed in her heart, making her blood pound like elephantine feet stomping gladiators and tigers on the Coliseum floor. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, exciting her to action. She was whole. She was capable. Her hand could not—would not!—hold her back.
Dear Blaise, she wrote slowly and carefully with her left hand.
I'm returning to La Maddalena. Don't tell Draco.
She knew before the ferry finished docking that Blaise wouldn't have done what she'd requested. He liked the sound of his voice a little too much, so of course Draco was waiting for her, sunglasses obscuring his eyes, his hair wind-tousled and sun-bleached. How his nearly white hair could possibly have been bleached even lighter, Ginny had no idea, but there was a specific glint in his hair, white-silver instead of white-blonde, that suggested it was possible.
He wasn't smiling as she strolled up to him, and her heart beat hard against her ribcage, wondering how he would greet her.
"Alcohol or gelato?" he asked.
She looked at her watch. "It's already one, so the bars are closed," she replied. "I'd like to keep a clear head when I get these words out anyway."
Draco shrugged. "Gelato it is, then."
They walked in silence to the nearest gelateria, the words Ginny had previously mentioned stuck in her throat. The things she'd said to Draco before she'd left La Maddalena hung between them, tainting the memory of the kiss they'd shared, the best memory and the worst of their precarious relationship intertwined.
They took their gelato and strolled down Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, a lane full of stores that branched off the northwestern corner of the piazza. Most of the shops were closed for riposo—a traditional, Italian lunch break during which businesses closed for an hour or two—so they didn't have to fight any of the crowds that normally congested the narrow street.
Ginny thoughtfully licked her pistacchio scoop of gelato, leaving the little plastic spoon that had come with her cone partly submerged in the fragola scoop. She only had one good hand with which to hold the cone, so the spoon, really, was useless to her, but she made do.
They walked along in silence as Ginny licked and Draco scooped (his gelato of choice: cioccolato all'arancia). The tension between them was palpable and as thick as the gelato they were enjoying, but not nearly as pleasant as their treat. She felt like such an idiot. How did she even begin?
As it turned out, she didn't have to. "How was Rome?" Draco asked as he brought his finger to his mouth to lick off some melted gelato.
Ginny's eyes were glued to the gesture, her mouth hanging open for a moment before she remembered herself and looked away, her cheeks hot in embarrassment.
"Gorgeous. Amazing. I don't have any words to describe it. When I arrived, I was so overwhelmed, I decided to save it for last, so I went everywhere else I could think of first. I'm glad I waited for Rome," she replied, her voice wistful. She'd only just left but already she couldn't wait to return to the Eternal City.
"I could see you living there," Draco said, his eyes serious.
"That would be wonderful if I could," she said, and she was very aware of the pining keen in her words. "But I have to go home and face the life I left behind."
One of Draco's eyebrows lifted and his spoon froze on the way to his mouth. "Really? No more running from your problems?" They walked out of the alley of shops into a small piazza in front of a church, and he directed them towards a curved stone bench.
The bench had grown cold in the shadow of the church, which made gooseflesh pop up on Ginny's legs when she sat down. "Before I get into that, where's Blaise?"
Draco pushed his sunglasses up to perch on top of his head and nibbled on the edge of his waffle cone. He was stalling for time, Ginny could tell.
"When he got your postcard, he sulked around for a bit and then showed it to me. I guess he thought he couldn't compete, so he told me to meet you instead."
"Compete with what?" she asked, confused.
"With me," he said with confidence but no conceit. "For you. I told you Blaise fancied you. He read between the lines and realized you didn't want him. You wanted me."
Ginny stood up, her face flaming now and her gelato still clutched in her good hand but forgotten. He was right and she was embarrassed for so many reasons: that Draco and Blaise both knew how she felt, that she might have inadvertently led Blaise on, that she could have hurt Blaise's feelings, that she was so transparent and Draco was so direct about it all….
"No," she protested, the word a denial of his truth and her feelings. "No, that's not why I came back." But it was a very big reason for her return. The skeptical angle of his eyebrows spurred her on. "I came back because of business. I have a proposal—I mean, a business proposal. Strictly business. I don't want… I don't fancy…."
Her melted gelato dripped down her cone and all over her hand, but she hardly noticed because Draco's expression had just become shuttered. Where before he had seemed at ease with her, even if she'd been awkward and nervous, now he was cold and indifferent.
This wasn't what she wanted, and this wasn't why she'd returned. If she'd learned anything from the Mouth of Truth, it was the king of all cliches: that the truth will set you free. She'd come back to La Maddalena for a reason, and lying to Draco was not one of them. She had to set the truth free, and, in the process, she would be freed as well.
She walked over to a garbage can and disposed of what was left of her gelato (a soggy cone). By the time she returned to the bench, Draco had a handkerchief held out for her to clean up the melted mess on her hand.
"That's not what I meant to say," she corrected herself, more calmly than before. "I do fancy you, and, dammit, I came back because I wanted to see you." His eyebrows lifted in surprise, cracking his facade of indifference. "But I also came back because you were right. I spent so many years pitying myself. It made me angry when you wouldn't pity me, too. All your talk about how I could still play Quidditch if I wanted to, you daring me to climb mountains so I could reach your level, it made me angry because I didn't want you to lift me up. I wanted you to meet me where I was and feel bad for me the way my family and friends refuse to. And then when you told me about the money, I jumped on an excuse to express that anger. I'm sorry for the things I said the last time we saw each other. I meant them then, but I don't anymore, because you were right about everything."
"But you were right, too," Draco said as he stood up. He took her bad hand in his and with an impatient flurry of his other hand, Vanished his gelato. "It was selfish of me to give you that money to assuage my own guilt. I shouldn't have insulted your honor."
"No," she disagreed. "It was honorable of you to even think of it."
"I'm sorry," they both said at the same time. They cracked smiles at that and intertwined their fingers. Bad hands, good hands, clean hands, and sticky hands all tangled together.
"So what's this about a business proposal?" Draco asked, his smile charming even as he tried to turn the conversation back to less pleasurable topics.
Ginny jerked him closer and stood up on her toes. He met her halfway, his lips crushing hers and then gently receding like a wave lapping against a beachy shore, again and again. They released each other's hands to put them to better use, and around them, Italians whistled in appreciation while playing children giggled and groaned.
"I think business can wait," Ginny replied against his lips. And for the first time in many years, Ginny felt serene, like an ocean after a storm. She stepped away from Draco, but not far enough to completely break their embrace.
"Let's go get Blaise," she said. "The beach is calling my name!"
Three Months Later
Ginny reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind Draco's ear, a smile on her face and a grimace on his.
"I miss your beach hair," she said.
Diagon Alley was exceptionally busy, and the crowds threatened to separate them, but her arm looped snuggly through his secured them together as they sailed the stormy sea of shoppers.
"In the real world, I have to pretend to have a modicum of propriety. We can't all run around with mussed up hair like you," he replied, the corner of his lips revealing his amusement.
"You're just jealous I get to muss up my hair for a living." She turned her nose up in a prim mockery of vanity—in a way mocking him.
"If you think I enjoy looking like an orphan who's just come off the street, you don't know me at all. I have a reputation to uphold, you know."
"Reputation, smeputation. I had a reputation as someone who couldn't hold down a job, and look where I am now!"
Draco tugged her out of the way of a recalcitrant child not minding where she was going and glared at the unconcerned mother. "Thanks to who, again?"
She laughed and elbowed him in the ribs, a little "oof" sound coming out of his mouth. "You may have pulled a couple strings, but it was my effort that got me where I am, you git. Now, shush. We don't want to traumatize my friends."
"Your friends," he muttered under his breath with a sneer of distaste.
"Be nice," she warned, as they entered the Leaky Cauldron.
"We could back out now," Draco said, to which Ginny rolled her eyes.
"No chance. We got through the meeting with my parents just fine, and I did it without a single cigarette. This will be a breeze in comparison."
"You're just jealous I didn't have to give up smoking for a living," he quipped.
She gave his ribs and her elbow a rest and let him have that one. Her desire for a cigarette was often overpowering, but she hadn't smoked a single one since she returned to La Maddalena with a business proposal and an apology. Her dreams and her career were more important to her than the nicotine.
Dennis saw her first and called her name, his hand waving in the air, but as soon as Draco came into view, he lowered his arm, clearly confused and wary.
Undaunted, Hermione bounded out of the booth and into Ginny's arms, the tension in their relationship prior to Ginny leaving for Italy forgotten.
"Look at you! You're so tan! What have you been doing with yourself?" Hermione asked as she ushered Ginny into the booth next to her, a drink waiting on the table for her arrival.
Draco was left standing at the end of the booth until Ginny said, "Grab one of those chairs over there. There's room for all of us."
Dennis and Seamus were straight-faced and grim, but Hermione's brow wrinkled in confusion. The lines in her forehead deepened when Draco pulled a chair from a nearby table and placed it at the end of their booth. She scowled when he sat down.
While he was making the transition from random straggler to member of the group, Ginny was saying, "Oh, you know, laying on the beach, sightseeing, playing Quidditch. Normal holiday activities. I'm not that tan, am I?"
She looked to Draco for an answer when her friends remained silent.
"The accumulation of new freckles just makes your skin look darker than it is. You're still lily white underneath them."
Ginny slapped him with the back of her injured hand and rolled her eyes. "Just because I have freckles doesn't mean I only freckle."
His smirk made the corners of her lips rise up in a reluctant smile, and she knew she was giving him the satisfaction of being amused at his jab despite her effort to scold him.
"Um, I don't mean to interrupt," Seamus said. "But what do you mean 'playing Quidditch.'"
"Straight to the chase! I like it," Ginny replied, her grin widening. Draco's presence was so befuddling, Seamus had to latch onto the only other alarming aspect of the conversation, and there was absolutely nothing about this situation and her friends' bewilderment that didn't delight Ginny.
"You see," she continued, "I have gathered you all here today not only to celebrate my return home,"—she lifted her mug of mead in a one-man toast—"but also to share some wonderful news."
Now she paused, her fingers absently running around the rim of her mug as she waited.
"Are these theatrics necessary?" Draco whispered in her ear, one eyebrow arched as she eyed the increasing confusion in her friends' faces. Ginny's skin erupted in goosebumps, but she held up her hand, her palm in his face.
Dennis fidgeted, and then finally gave in. "What's the news?"
"I'm glad you asked!" Ginny said. "You're looking at the Holyhead Harpies' newest Chaser!"
"Malfoy?" Hermione, Seamus, and Dennis exclaimed without missing a beat.
"No!" she replied, her lips dropping into a frown. "Me! I'm their new Chaser!"
Seamus put his face in his hands and laughed while Hermione said, "You? Is this a joke?"
"Still think this will be a breeze compared to your parents?" Draco muttered, to which she elbowed him and he got the hint to keep his mouth shut.
Only Dennis seemed to consider her seriously, his brow furrowed in concentration as he observed everyone's reactions. "This isn't a joke, is it," he finally said, turning the question into a statement.
"No," Ginny answered with a sniff. "And frankly, it's appalling that this is the reaction I get when telling my best friends that I'm returning to my dream career."
"It's just that—I mean, you always complained about not being able to play Quidditch, but you never did anything about it!" Hermione explained.
"Yeah, why now?" added Seamus.
"Well…" Ginny started, but words failed her. Underneath the table, Draco placed his warm hand on her thigh, but when she glanced at him, he didn't meet her eye. Instead, he studied his fingernails as if they were way more interesting than anything she had to say. Despite his apparent disinterest, she knew he knew her struggle, she knew he was interested and cared about her happiness and wellbeing. He was aloof, but he wasn't indifferent. He'd tried so hard to make her see her own potential. Without him, she still would have been sitting in her bedroom back at the Burrow, wallowing in her own filth and self-pity.
She tried again. "Why now? Because I'm ready. Because I can. Because I'm good at what I do, and nothing can keep me from playing Quidditch. No one can stop me—not even myself."
She placed her injured hand on the tabletop, and her curled fingers twitched for a mere moment before freezing once more.
"I was given two gifts," Ginny continued, her eyes lowered. In her peripheral vision, she could see Draco's hand on her leg, warm and solid. A silent comfort. "A gift of the truth and a gift of an opportunity. It would be disgusting of me to ignore them because I'm too busy pitying myself. I'm not afraid anymore, and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to live the life I want to live."
In the wake of her declaration, all her friends could do was stare. Across from her, Dennis reached out to take her hand, pulling it to the center of the table. He lifted it gently and inspected each digit with sight and touch, his fingertips running across the lines of her palm, his fingers entwining with hers. When he squeezed her hand in a gentle grip, she squeezed back harder, and his eyes shot up in surprise.
"How…?" he asked, his expression awed.
"One of the perks of being a Harpy is being able to use their new personal trainer," Ginny replied with a glance towards Draco. "She studied physical therapy in the Muggle world, and she mixes her knowledge of Muggle healing and physiology with magic to learn as much as she can about the human body… and how to fix its injuries. I'm not saying my hand is healed. It's not, and it probably never will be fully functional like it was before I was hurt, but she's been studying the injury and teaching me how to play with it safely. I've noticed since I've been working with her that my hand has become more responsive, but it comes and goes, like always."
Silence descended on the booth as Dennis, Seamus, and Hermione absorbed Ginny's news. She worried her lip with her teeth, wondering what they were going to say, but Seamus and Dennis only looked at each other and Hermione stared at Draco.
"I suppose you had something to do with this?" she asked him, disapproval dripping from her voice.
Draco shrugged. "Ginny begged for a tryout and I ran it past Gwenog. She was eager to see what Ginny had to offer, and, obviously, she saw talent and potential, injury or no."
"But," Seamus interrupted, his cheeks tinged red and his voice lowered in uncharacteristic embarrassment, "how do you hold onto a broom and a Quaffle with only one hand?"
Ginny's lips widened into a wicked smile, and she didn't have to look at Draco to know his own cheeks had grown pinker at the question. "I've been developing the muscles in my legs. I use my good hand to carry the Quaffle and my legs to hang onto and steer my broom! I've got thighs of steel." Her smile twitched as Draco's grip on her thigh tightened and inched a little further upwards than was probably appropriate in their current setting. Lately, he'd been enjoying her steel thighs in the privacy of a bedroom. Or an empty locker room. And sometimes on a floor when they couldn't make it to a bedroom.
Hermione's chest puffed up, a lecture building up inside her, desperate to burst free. "Well! I guess you've thought of everything, then!"
Ginny didn't want to fight, not about this, so she controlled the tone of her voice to sound less sarcastic than she meant it. "I did. We did. As a team. My teammates have my back, and they don't care about my disability. They only care that I can play and that I'm as safe as can be. We've tweaked old plays to accommodate me and we've come up with some new plays that take advantage of my injury. Everything we do is under the supervision of a personal trainer and within guidelines of the league. We're doing nothing wrong, and I'm happy for the first time in years."
Hermione visibly deflated and swallowed her lecture. "That's all I wanted to hear. I just want you to be safe, and… and I'm glad… I'm so glad to hear that you're happy." She gave Ginny a watery smile, which Ginny returned with a tight hug. After that, the air cleared of all tension.
"I hope this means we get free season tickets!" Seamus said. He never forgot what was most important, and all Ginny could do was roll her eyes.
"Box seats!" Dennis chimed in.
"Don't push your luck," Draco replied. "But as the owner of the team, I do have some privileges. I brought tickets for everyone to see Ginny's first match next month."
Seamus and Dennis high-fived each other, and Hermione graciously thanked Draco for his generosity. Then Seamus turned back to Ginny and Draco, a speculative arch in his brow. He raised his nearly half-empty mug and gestured between them, mead sloshing out over the rim.
"So what's the deal with you two, then?"
Ginny smiled, her nerve-damaged fingers intertwining with Draco's. He looked at her and she saw all her potential in the slight lift of his lips, felt her confidence in his grasp.
"Well... while I was on holiday, I met a bloke."
Pistacchio: Duh, pistacchio. But in Italian, you would pronounce the middle part with a "k" sound, not a "sh" sound. Like in Pinocchio!
Cioccolato all'arancia: Chocolate orange
Fine: The end
2) That's a picture of the Mouth of Truth in the cover art for this story. The beach in the banner is an actual picture of Spalmatore, the beach where Ginny meets Blaise in chapter two.
3) Fun fact! The lira was the official currency of Italy until January 1999, when it was replaced with the euro. However, euro banknotes and coins were not used in Italy until February 2002, when the lira was discontinued. This story takes place in 2004 (if my math is right :P), and I imagine Blaise still accidentally finds lire in his wallet and often has to ask Draco to spot him some money until he can go to the bank and convert his lire to euros. This is usually accompanied by lots of grumbling about how wizarding Britain has always used the same currency and how tedious it is that Muggles change their money around all willy-nilly. (This fact is only fun because right before I posted this I had a panicky moment in which I thought I'd used the wrong currency in this story—luckily, I hadn't!)
4) And finally, the original prompt:
Prompt: The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. -Albert Einstein
Ginny makes a big life change to chase her dream. It can be in career, love, beliefs, whatever-author's choice. She's surrounded by naysayers who tell her to just be practical and live in the real world. She ignores them to find love, life, and happiness amidst her struggles, temptations, and hopelessness.
Preferred rating: Any
Squicks: Hard kinks