[ONE SHOT] [postOotP] [not HBP compliant] Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood spend some time together in the summer after 'Order of the Phoenix'. The day includes, among other things: f...
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
This little piece of fluff was 'exorcized' from my other post-OotP fic, 'Sifting Through The Ashes', posted at fanfiction.net and FictionAlley. At this point, that story is probably destined for the Hell of Unfinished Fanfics.
A Little Promise
Harry kicked off hard from the ground. The cool night air rushed through his hair as the neat square gardens of Privet Drive fell away... He felt as though his heart was going to explode with pleasure; he was flying again, flying away from Privet Drive as he'd been fantasizing about all summer, he was going home... For a few glorious moments, all his problems seemed to recede into nothing, insignificant in the vast starry sky.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 3 -
Summer After 'Order of the Phoenix', Day 45 (August 14, 1996)
Molly Weasley was busy in the kitchen of the Burrow, labeling vials of potions and packing them into boxes. She worked quickly, obviously so used to the work that she performed it on instinct rather than through conscious thought.
Her routine was interrupted by the visit of an unexpected owl. She retrieved the note tied to the bird's leg, then sent the avian messenger on its way. After reading the short message, she smiled and walked to the foot of the staircase in the living room.
"Ginny! Luna! We have a guest arriving!" the Weasley matron yelled up the stairs, loud enough so that even the ghoul in the attic knew company was coming.
Two heads popped out of an upstairs doorway, one framed with red hair, the other with dirty blonde. The redhead called back, "Who is it, mum? We're kinda... busy."
"Ginevra Weasley, no matter who he or she is, he or she will be a guest in our house for the day, just as Luna is. You two can at least come down long enough to say hello."
"Oookaay," Ginny replied, with a long-suffering sigh. The two heads pulled back into the room and, a moment later, two young ladies scrambled out of the room and headed downstairs in a flash of colour and the sound of at least one set of giggles.
As they reached the fireplace, the fire sprang to life and someone came careening out in a flash of green. The figure narrowly missed the two girls, performing a graceful spin and turn to avoid them. Unfortunately, the graceful maneuver ended suddenly as the visitor arrived at the venerable Weasley couch and went tumbling over, landing in a heap behind the sofa so that only his trainers were visible above its back.
"Hi... Ginny... oooo... hi... Luna..." the two girls heard in a low, pained moan.
o O o O o O o O o O o O o O o
Harry stood up and brushed himself off, mentally congratulating himself for avoiding involving anyone else in his Floo-induced troubles. As he faced the two girls, Harry was stunned speechless.
They had legs.
Boy, did they have legs! And abdomens too! Ginny was wearing shorts and an obviously hand-me-down shirt tied mid-abdomen. Luna had on a seriously short skirt and a top that had no sleeves and simply stopped below her ribcage. The girls were obviously waging a war against the blatant overuse of cloth in wizarding garments. Harry felt certain that the girls would win.
He marveled at the sight of the two very complementary sets of legs. One pair was pale - not a sickly pale, more like the ivory luminescence of moonlight. The other pair of legs were lightly bronzed and peppered with red spots, like a whole family of miniature fire leopards. He would even swear they were moving... stalking him...
Suddenly, his reverie was broken as the mesmerizing spots overtook him and he was tackled.
"Harry! Howareyou? Whatareyoudoinghere? Wedidn'tknowyouwerecoming! Wehaven'theardfromyouinages-whyhaveyoubeensoquiet? Yourlettersdon'ttellusathing! We'vebeenworriedaboutyou, youbigprat! Harry, what's wrong? Say something!"
"Honestly, Ginny, he just got here," said Mrs. Weasley. "Let the poor boy breathe."
Ginny let go of him and turned slowly to face her mother with one raised eyebrow, highlighting the irony of Molly Weasley telling someone not to smother Harry.
Mrs. Weasley gave her daughter a mock-glare and took her turn squeezing Harry in a hug. "I'll just bet you're ready for a spot of breakfast, aren't you, Harry?" she said, not quite looking him in the eye. "Come into the kitchen and I'll get you something."
Minutes later, Harry was seated at the table, eating some of his favourite food in the world - Weasley home cooking. Luna and Ginny were seated with him at the table, Ginny sipping from a glass of pumpkin juice and Luna sorting through the remains of the tea leaves in her teacup.
"So is Ron here today?" Harry asked. "It seems awfully quiet if he is."
"No," Ginny replied. "He's working at the twins' shop. Their business has really taken off, and they needed extra help. One thing a large family is good for is cheap labour," she said with a bit of a grin.
"Yeah, he wrote about that in his last letter. He said he was saving his money for... for gifts, actually."
Harry realised at the last moment that he'd almost let slip what Ron's intentions regarding the earned money were. His sister wasn't the girl that Ron planned to surprise with a nice present. Harry was enjoying the chat, though, so he quickly remembered something Tonks had said: Guys like to talk about themselves. Be different - ask a girl about her opinion or what she thinks every now and then.
Harry looked up from his plate to Ginny and asked, "Are you working at the shop too?"
"Yes," she said, "but not as often as Ron. He's desperate to get out of the house, so much so that he even considers working till he drops to be worth it,"
"Really?" Harry said with a mixture of surprise and curiosity. "Why on earth is he so anxious to get out of the Burrow?"
Ginny continued her explanation. "Mum and Dad had a talk. She's decided that keeping us in the dark... well, that sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing. Now that Mum knows she can't shield us from the war forever, she's taken the opposite stance - she's giving us every bit of preparation we can fit into the summer. Ron and I still can't cast spells outside of school, but she's been having us grow magical plants, make potions, mix floo powder - any magical task that doesn't require spellcasting. Some of what we make go straight to the Order, but we get to sell a lot of the rest at the local apothecary."
Harry looked at Ginny curiously. "Ron mentioned some of that, but, as usual, his letters aren't exactly packed with information. What does that have to do with Ron working at the shop, though?"
"Mum had Ron brewing a Strengthening Solution last week - another order for 'our friends'," she said with an emphatic eye waggle, "and it hardened up enough to match a batch of Hagrid's best muffins! Mum was so mad that Ron couldn't do a Fourth Year potion that she put him on attic-cleaning detail - with no supper till he was done!"
Harry snorted with laughter, gagging on a mouthful of eggs and toast. After a combined laughing and coughing fit and a large slap on the back by Luna, Harry settled back down and Ginny continued, "Working at the shop is about the only thing Mum'll let us miss our household chores for. And the money's just as good as selling our potions and stuff."
Another question popped into Harry's mind. That's so strange! he thought. The questions and conversation he never could sustain before were flowing out of him now. Being with people that made you feel comfortable - no expectations, no pressure - made it a lot easier.
"Do you and Ron flip a coin each morning, then, to see who gets to work in the shop?"
Ginny chuckled with that question. "Oh, he's welcome to the shop job, as far as I'm concerned. Fred and George prefer Ron, actually, as they're smart enough not to try any of their products on me. Last time one of them did, I hexed him with a Reversing spell. You remember the time at school when, for a whole week, Fred could only walk backwards?"
That tale brought another round of chortles from the group.
"Oh, Ginny," Luna said in her singsong, almost calming voice, "Why don't you tell Harry our other news and Ronald's as well?"
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" Ginny said in an excited rush, "Guess who Katie picked as co-captain of the Quidditch team!"
Harry looked at her with eyes wide with feigned shock. "No! Really?" He turned to Luna and extended a hand to shake. "Congratulations, Luna. We're all counting on you."
Both girls gave him a "Harry!" and a shove, sending him to the back of his chair with an "Ooomph".
"All right, wise guy," Ginny said. "Since you're being as intelligent as a Blast-Ended Skrewt is cuddly, I'll spell it out for you: Katie and Ron are the new co-captains of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and Luna and I were made prefects."
"Unbelievable!" Harry said, still feeling immensely amused and a bit too proud of himself at picking on the girls. "First Ron, now you two! What was Dumbledore thinking?"
This time the shove from the girls landed Harry on the floor. "Hey!" he protested, with more mirth than anything else.
After picking himself up and dusting himself off, Harry thought to ask about his other best friend. "Hey, have you heard any news from Hermione? She seemed a little nervous this summer, after all that happened, like maybe her parents might not want her to come back or something."
"As if McGonagall would let them keep Hermione away! She has visited the Grangers several times this summer, and Dumbledore even visited once or twice. They convinced Hermione's parents that the safest place for her is 'in the eye of the storm', as Dumbledore put it. Hermione also hinted that some very 'definitive protection', as she put it, has been put in place to keep them safe all year 'round. She's spending the summer with them since she didn't see them over the holidays this last year, but she'll be coming to stay with us the last four or five days of August."
Still separating and examining her tea leaves, Luna spoke up, "What about your last piece of news, Ginevra. Won't that interest Harry the most?"
Ginny hopped up. "Ooo, ooo, that's right! I'll be right back." She rushed upstairs and was back in a matter of seconds with a worn broom in hand.
"Look at what I got from Tonks. She rescued it from Black Mansion. I know it's only a Comet 240..." she said with an embarrassed blush Harry had seen on Ron every time the Weasleys' financial status came up.
"It's great, Ginny! Is there a broom handy that Luna can borrow? Maybe we could practice a bit."
"Hang on; I'll get Ron's."
"I don't know..." Harry hesitated, but Ginny had already rushed upstairs to grab Ron's Cleansweep. "Hey," he called up the stairs, "did Ron actually say you could borrow his broom?"
"He won't mind, especially if neither of you tell him!" Ginny yelled back down.
While retrieving his broom from the bag of things he'd brought, Harry came across the servicing kit that Hermione had given him and decided to put it to good use. Harry first inspected the Comet, holding it close to his face, peering down its length, feeling the mingling of magic and wood, and gently sifting through the broom's bristles. He could almost visualize the years of use it had borne with wizards and witches of every flavor. He slowly - almost lovingly - pruned the bristles, then gave the broom a good cleaning and polishing.
Ginny had returned while Harry had been servicing her broom; he handed it back to her once he was done. "There," he said. "She ought to be a bit more stable at high speeds now." She thanked him, quite pleased with the "personal touch" he'd given her broom.
Finally ready, the trio headed to the meadow behind the Burrow. Along the way, Harry broke the comfortable silence, albeit very quietly.
"By the way, Ginny, is your mum... is she upset with me? She seemed... well, she wouldn't look at me. After a year of that from Dumbledore, I... I notice it rather easily now. Is she... you know... mad...?" Harry's question descended into mumbling. Who am I kidding? I know why Mrs. Weasley's mad - I nearly got two of her kids killed. She can't stand to look at me.
"Harry..." she started, obviously unsure how to answer. "Do you... don't you think it's obvious?"
Harry closed his eyes, not wanting to broadcast the pain in them. "Yeah, I suppose I can't blame her; I'd be angry too."
"Angry?" Ginny responded with obvious surprise. "Harry, she feels like she failed you. She spent so much time arguing with Sirius about you knowing too much, about him acting responsibly. She's working very hard to keep us informed now and to sharpen our skills - potions and herbology mostly, although we practice our wandwork with wooden spoons. But Mum feels like she can never make up for his loss."
Ginny had stopped and was looking down at the path. "It's how we all feel," she said softly, almost a whisper on the wind.
Luna was standing close to Ginny, her protuberant eyes fixed on Harry. He felt like he should say something. 'It's my fault' or 'You don't know about what Dumbledore did or about the Prophecy; how do you know who to blame?' or even 'The loving couple Kreacher and Snape had more to do with it than any of you!' All he could do, though, was anguish at the large lump in his throat and the blurring mist in his eyes. Finally, he collected himself and spoke.
Ginny looked up at him as he took off with only one hand on the broom. Within a half second, he was seated properly and nothing more than a blur on the path far in front of the girls. By the time she had mounted her broom, Harry had reached the meadow and pulled up into the air. She grinned and took off after him, leaving an amused Ravenclaw in her wake.
After a few intense minutes of chase, Ginny had still not caught him. She had, however, collided head-on with the largest of the trees bordering the meadow - straight in with the sounds of breaking branches and angry curses. Harry was hovering around the tree, desperately looking for her.
"Ginny! Ginny! Are you okay?"
"Ha!" she yelled as she jumped out of the branches and onto the Firebolt right behind him. "So much for the Seeker reflexes! Potter, you prat! You ruined my broom!"
"Me! Why is it-?"
"I /suppose/," Ginny interrupted, "I'll just have to use yours till mine is repaired."
"Oh, really?" Harry said with a raised eyebrow. "We'll just see if you can handle a Firebolt."
And they were off.
After two Wronski Feints and almost ten minutes of near-supersonic flight, she was still firmly attached - her arms around Harry's waist, her legs crossed around his ankles, her... chest pressed firmly into his back. Throughout it all, Harry had paid close attention to Ginny to make sure that her safety wasn't compromised. He finally decided that his safety was in far greater jeopardy than hers - either her screams or her fingernails were going to do him in long before she would fall off. He finally decided it was his sitting position that would kill him (and it had nothing to do with riding a broom - well, not his Firebolt, anyway!). Perhaps, he thought, a little personal space is in order.
Harry returned to the tree where they had started, hovering four or five metres above it. As Ginny let go of Harry's back, he looked over his shoulder at her and remarked, "Wow, Ginny, I've got to admit - you're tougher than I could've imagined. I doubt that any of your brothers could've handled that. I guess that means..." Harry suddenly and gracefully spun halfway around the broom until he was looking straight up at Ginny, then said, "You win." Then he let go.
Ginny's eyes grew to Luna proportions as Harry fell toward the ground about a dozen metres below. He chuckled as he saw her mouth several very un-ladylike words and start down after him.
Harry closed his eyes and let calm overtake him. He spread his arms out fully, feeling the absolute perfection of the air. There was no Voldemort or Prophecy, no Fudge or Umbridge, no lost friends and family - just the wind, the clouds, and the sky. As he brought his arms back together in front of him, feeling himself accelerate as he reduced his air resistance, he felt like an Olympic high-diver. He pictured Ginny's Comet in his mind, lost somewhere in the inner reaches of the tree. He envisioned its slight, gentle warping, its weathered bristles - its graceful imperfection. With a moment of sharp concentration - sans word or wand - he called the broom to him, knowing beyond a doubt that it was on its way.
He bowed his head so he could see the sky, where Ginny was in hot pursuit. She'd never reach him in time.
Harry looked 'upward', seeing the ground closing in on him. He spotted Luna laying on her hovering broom like it was a hammock and looking up at him serenely, just a few metres away from his impending "landing spot". As he felt the summoned broom fly in line with him, he wrapped one hand around it and willed it to curve away from him. In a move that would have made Josef Wronski weep, Harry coaxed Ginny's tired broom into a half circle so that it would take him back straight up.
Harry successfully made the turn with no more damage than windswept hair - his eternal curse anyway. Ginny's Comet, a fine specimen from one of the most venerable names in broom-making, would have completed the maneuver in its heyday... probably. Unfortunately, the broom's heyday was long gone.
As the bristles and bottom third of the Comet formed a sawdust flurry over Luna, the spells bound to the broom unwove like a jumper being unraveled by a dozen playful kittens. Although the remaining broom handle was useless for flight, the momentum of the partial loop shot Harry into the air as though he had been launched from a cannon. He rose again and passed a now-hovering, wide-eyed Ginny with nothing more than a surprised look on his face and a weathered stick in his hand.
"Oh, crap," was all he could think to say.
Harry's ascent slowed to a stop. Looking down at how far he was about to fall, Harry was reminded of his least favorite Third-year Quidditch game. At least there aren't any Dementors, he thought. As his plunge back to earth started, he visually verified that he couldn't summon either of the remaining brooms without endangering its passenger.
Ginny shot around and circled Harry. "So," she said with a sweet smile (/More like a feral grin,/ he thought), "now that you've actually decimated my broom, do you have any ideas on how to get down? I'd hate to interrupt another fantastic stunt that you had planned."
"Oh, I don't know," he answered, trying to sound nonchalant as the ground approached at an alarming rate. "Anything come to mind?"
"Well, actually..." Ginny said pensively. "I had one or two ideas, but seeing as I'm so young and small and fragile, I might not be able to handle the power and speed of a Firebolt."
Harry looked Ginny straight in the eye and said, "Aren't you the one who taught me that 'anything's possible if you've got enough nerve'?"
A look of surprise - shock, almost - flashed across Ginny's face, then she smiled and shook her head. "Hang on then. You'll be back in the driver's seat in a jiff."
Ginny swerved behind Harry from above, scooping him onto the broom in front of her and starting to pull up into a level flight. Harry was seated and back in control just as they leveled out, barely two metres above the grass.
As they touched down, Luna arrived riding her broom sidesaddle. Apparently, while Harry and Ginny had been terrorizing the sky, Luna had been languidly flying about - Sidesaddle, no less! Since when do people ride brooms sidesaddle? Harry wondered. Luna looked at Ginny and Harry bemusedly and asked, "Broom shopping, is it then?"
o O o O o O o O o O o O o O o
The trio headed for the Burrow, all laughs and smiles, but didn't make it back before collapsing for a rest. They dropped into the softly swaying grass and sat looking into the sky, watching clouds rolling along in the afternoon breeze. Every now and then, Harry would glance at Luna or Ginny.
It's strange, he thought as he gazed nowhere in particular. They make me feel some of the things Cho used to but can't anymore. Ginny's been defending me since I first met her. Luna spent the last year openly supporting me, braving new territory to help. And they're both so brilliant! Cho was always... unimaginative. With these two, you never know what you're going to get. Argh! All these feelings mixed together... do I like one of them... maybe both of them? As if my life isn't complicated enough already!
He looked over at Ginny again. How can her shoulders be so... soft-looking? And the smooth curve of her neck...
Harry pulled his eyes off Ginny, only to have them land on Luna. Her lips... so... and eyes like... Luna looked up, locked gazes with him, and smiled.
Harry shot to his feet, expelling something between a moan of pain and a growl.
Ginny looked up, "Harry? You all right?"
"Yeah. Fine. Good," he said, frantically trying to think of another topic. "By the way, Gin-"
"Geez, Harry," she said, sounding as though she was already tired of this new topic. "You've apologized for the broom incident more times than all the other apologies I've received in my life! I get the idea already! Really!"
"So what's on your mind then? You seem lost in thought."
"Well," Ginny started as she stood to talk with him. "It's just... you're... well, you've changed! After... after the end of the school year, you seemed like you'd lost the desire or the ability to talk. I know it was hard... not that I know how hard it was, of course... I mean, I've never lost... I've not been..."
"It's okay, Ginny. I get the idea. Go on," he urged.
"Well, you've changed, Harry! You've been so... open, so... feeling. And you were always a good flyer, but now - wow! I've never seen some of the stunts you did today - like that unbelievable dive and recovery that cost me a broom - not even from the pros! How'd you do it? You even looked relaxed, like you were 'in the zone' or something."
"I've practiced a bit this summer," Harry said.
"Well, I've got years of practice over you Harry and I could never do that!"
"I guess a lot of things have changed for me this summer, Gin, Luna. I've... I see things a bit differently than I did last year. It has a lot to do with a gift I got from Black Mansion, something Sirius had been working on. Lupin finished it up brought it to me a week or two before my birthday."
"Something... thoughtful, was it?" Luna said, once again peering into the clouds. Only Harry's earlier gaze had broken her skyward reverie. "Something... insightful? A dreamsnatcher, maybe? Have a friend's dream for yourself?"
She looked back at him, eyes narrowing. "But that would be... dark. You're not dark, are you? Not yet..."
Luna looked down, suddenly interested in a small clump of yellow daisies. Harry and Ginny looked from Luna to each other, both with mystified looks.
"Or maybe a nogtail rind fryer?" Luna offered. "Messy, but dead useful - rather reminiscent of your hair in that regard, Harry."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other again and burst out laughing. Ginny collapsed into the grass and rolled around clutching her sides; Luna watched her bemusedly. Harry looked at them thinking, Should I? I can't! It's so... so... not me. But I have to... they have to know...
When Ginny sat up, Harry moved between the girls, grabbed them with an arm each, and pulled them into a group hug. During the brief, intense hug, Harry muttered, "Thanks, you two - for the Ministry, for all the other times... Thanks."
Harry pulled away, his gaze fixed firmly on the ground, his face ablaze with the discomfort caused by the uncharacteristic display of emotion.
He could tell that he had surprised Ginny. Her jaw was drooping as low as possible; she looked as gobsmacked as if Harry had just shown up in Hermione's gown from the Yule Ball and announced he was dating Viktor Krum.
Luna, on the other hand, seemed as unflappable as ever. "You have changed, Harry. At the end of last term, you were a dying flower, wilting, collapsing in on yourself. Now..." she said, putting a hand on his chest, "now you're cautiously opening to the sunshine. I like the change. It suits you."
"Yeah, thanks," Harry said with a nervous cough. Luna dropped her hand back to her side and looked away, her thoughts apparently moving on to another topic.
Harry liked that about Luna. She could have the deepest insight and bring it out into the open, but then she'd let it be. She never felt obliged to discuss every possible meaning behind a feeling or idea like Hermione did. For once, though, Harry wanted to discuss this topic. These two had already made him feel so... so natural, so welcome, that he figured he'd never get as good a chance to discuss a feeling or two without beating it to death (/Sorry, Hermione! You're on of my best friends in the world, but you do have your faults./).
"Actually," Harry admitted as he reached a hand over and gently closed Ginny's mouth. "Sirius' gift had a lot to do with it. It's a Pensieve - a Black family heirloom that held memories from some long dead patriarch of theirs. Sirius knew I had a lot to get off my chest, and that I've never been one to share much, either in letters or face-to-face. He finally found something that his family owned that might do me some good. Of course, it took him a while to dredge the thing out without undoing the magic that makes the thing work. He started clearing out all the stored memories just after Christmas break and was almost done when... when he died."
"Did he..." Ginny asked very quietly, "Did he leave any memories of his own for you?"
"Nah, he couldn't," Harry responded. "Turns out that Pensieves work best with only one person's thoughts in them. Even memories from twins can muck up the magic. All he could give me was a clean slate. In a sense, I think he was telling me to look ahead, not back."
Harry continued, engrossed in the topic and enjoying it. "It's incredible, how real it is. It's like your senses catch and store everything within range, but your conscious mind only processes a bit of it. After visiting some of my memories, I'm amazed at everything that was happening around me that I missed."
"Have you visited your godfather often?" Luna asked, seemingly unaware of her bluntness. Harry winced a bit and Ginny gave her a small glare.
"Yeah. I revisited my school years a few times, but I've actually spent more time watching memories of my life before I was marked," he replied, brushing his hand absently across his scar. "Apparently, a baby's senses aren't as sharp or as coordinated as ours are. It looked like an unfocused camera had taken the memories and the sound was not quite comprehensible either. I'm pretty sure I saw my mum and dad, though, and Sirius and... other people. Oddly enough, I don't think Remus was there. I know this sounds strange, but I knew them mostly... mostly by smell."
The two girls giggled slightly at that revelation.
Harry continued quietly, trying not to choke up on the words he was struggling to share. "Through all the memories, I could feel... I could tell how much... they actually wanted me. It was so different, so bizarre to see these fuzzy people collected around a fuzzy baby me. They all... They just loved me and loved playing with me."
Harry snapped out of his reverie. "Anyway, it's really cool. I've seen my Hogwarts years - really, my whole life - from a whole new perspective."
Harry was too choked up to say anything more. He raised his gaze to look at the girls, hoping they would fill the silence, but they were apparently as emotional as he was. As he once again lost himself in their watery eyes, he realized just how much his perspective had changed. When Sirius died, Harry was left with no family, no hope, no life. Sirius' last gift, though, showed Harry just how blind he had been: he was surrounded by - swimming in - possibilities, and love. For once in his life, it seemed like the future might just hold a little promise.