A/N: Sorry for the delay but Real Life caught up with myself and my beta. Now it's ready for your reading pleasure!

Many thanks to most fabulous and awesomest beta ever for her excellent sugggestions and help! She rocks!

As always enjoy and please leave a review!

DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything. Just the plot.

Adventures in Courtship

Chapter Seven – Diagon Alley

A few days after Harry burned the Minister’s letter, Mr. Weasley arrived home from work with a message for Harry.

“All he wants is a meeting with you this Saturday at eleven in the Leaky Cauldron. He’s arranged to have a private room,” Mr. Weasley informed him.

Harry, Ron, and Ginny were sitting on the floor in the lounge playing Exploding Snap. Mr. Weasley was sitting in an arm chair with a heavy look on his face.

“But why?” Harry asked, frowning at the elder Weasley.

“I can’t say I know, Harry,” Mr. Weasley sighed. “I’m just telling you what I was told. He seemed very adamant about it.”

“Probably wants to corner me to get information,” Harry replied and slumped against the sofa he was sitting next to.

“Possibly,” Mr. Weasley agreed. “But it couldn’t hurt to go.”

“What? You want Harry to meet up with the prat?” Ginny shouted and glared at her father.

“He’ll probably have the room full of Aurors waiting to attack Harry!” Ron added.

“Look, we don’t know what he wants,” Mr. Weasley explained. “Harry you can go just to see what he has to say. If you don’t like the situation you can just up and leave. Maybe it’ll stop him from badgering you all the time.”

“Dad, you can’t be serious,” Ginny said in disbelief. How could her father ever suggest that Harry go to this meeting? He knew how much Harry resented the Ministry and the Minister, yet he wanted Harry to meet with him alone.

She looked at her boyfriend ready to tell him not to go and to sod the Minister but she stopped when she saw the serious look on his face.

“I think you’re right, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said.

“You agree?” she asked incredulously staring at her boyfriend in shock. Ron had the same look on his face and looked at Harry as if he had just sprung another limb.

“Harry, mate, you can’t be serious,” Ron said in shock.

“I am,” Harry confirmed and looked at the two of them sitting up straight again. “If I go it could keep him off my back. Besides, I could just hex him and leave if I don’t like it.”

Ginny frowned. She still did not like the situation one bit but she knew she couldn’t change Harry’s mind.

“Fine, then I’m going with you,” Ginny said boldly folding her arms across her chest and shooting him a steely look.

“Ginny –”

“Don’t you dare tell me I can’t go, Harry!” she shouted and glared at him. “I’m meeting Hermione that day anyway again and we can wait for you. I’m coming.”

They glared at each other for a few moments before Harry sighed in resignation.

Ginny smiled triumphantly at him.

The rest of the week had gone by fairly quickly much to Ginny’s disappointment. Harry and Ginny spent a lot of time with Ron and found it difficult to get a few minutes of alone time with each other. Ginny knew this was her mother’s doing. No matter where the couple was, someone in the family (or as Ginny had started to call them the Snogging Patrol) was there too. They could not do more than a quick kiss and it was becoming very irritating to Ginny. Even Charlie had decided to stay home for a few more days claiming that he needed a break, but Ginny knew it was so he could keep an eye on her and her boyfriend whenever her mother couldn’t. That Sunday Ginny would be returning to school and that meant that she would not see Harry for a very long time; she really wanted to use what time they had to be together but it just wasn’t going to happen.

She also noticed that Harry’s good mood had dropped considerably since the day they went to the Dursleys. He was sullen again, and brooding, and Ginny hated it. She had tried to get him to open up a bit and tell him she would listen and be there but he refused. They had had an argument over it, with Ginny screaming that he was going back to being moody and Harry claiming that he wasn’t and she should mind her own business. She had shouted that since he was her boyfriend it was her business and if he wanted their relationship to work then he needed to open up to her. It had ended with Harry apologizing to her and admitting that he had been thinking a lot of his childhood but wasn’t quite ready to tell her things yet.

Harry had also been suffering from nightmares, she discovered one night when she needed to use the bathroom. She had heard him moaning in his sleep and peeked into his room. She had found him thrashing around in his bed and muttering her name. Ginny had gone to him and comforted him when he started to yell and scream. When he had woken up to see her concerned face he almost starting crying and hugged her closely muttering that he was happy she was okay. This discovery had upset Ginny. She wondered how long the nightmares had been going on or if they were just a one-time thing. She wanted to talk to Harry about it, but with the Snogging Patrol around them at all times she never got a chance.

The Snogging Patrol seemed to have been a bit lax on New Year’s Eve. Charlie had invited a “friend” over who worked with him at the dragon compound. Her name was Tabitha and was twenty five; a year shy of Charlie’s age. She had brown curly hair, sparkling blue eyes, and was a very sweet girl; the complete opposite of what Charlie usually brought home to meet the family. The girls Ginny had met in the past were mostly blonde and had fake personalities and she never met them more than once. Tabitha on the other hand was very helpful and polite, aiding Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen, laughing at the twins’ jokes, and was very nice to Ginny. This was a plus, Ginny thought as most of the girls he dated treated her like a little girl. She had noticed that Charlie couldn’t keep his eyes off her and Ginny had a very good feeling that she would be seeing more of Tabitha again in the future.

The twins had brought their long time girlfriends over, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet along with some very entertaining tricks (much to Mrs. Weasley’s displeasure). Bill and Fleur had come as well, dressed to the nines after attending a party at a friend of Fleur’s, and even though Fleur looked as stunning at always, there was something a bit off about her. Mrs. Weasley had noticed it as well and had studied the couple on more than one occasion during the evening. Hermione had shown up for a few hours saying how she wished she could stay longer but she had to attend a party her parents were having later in the evening. She and Ron had disappeared at one point without anyone noticing until Ginny saw them sneaking in from the kitchen door.

With everyone having their attention elsewhere most of the night, Harry and Ginny had found an opportunity to snuggle up beneath a blanket Ginny had knitted with her mother when she was younger, and sit in front of the fireplace with the rest of the family. They had kept their hands above the blanket and in plain sight but that didn’t stop them from at least linking their legs together and sitting close. Once midnight had rolled around, they were able to get away with a lingering kiss . . . two lingering kisses actually.

New Year’s had passed and on Saturday Ginny found herself sitting at a table in the Leaky Cauldron with Ron and Hermione nursing different drinks while Harry made his way to his meeting with the Minister.

Ron was drinking deeply from his glass, staring at Hermione in awe and annoyance as she rattled on and on about the classes she was going to be taking at Hogwarts. He was glad to be away from the Burrow and away from Mrs. Weasley. All week she had been on his case about doing nothing and she even tried to convince him and Harry to finish school like Hermione had done the day before. Ron had refused claiming that he had just helped to save the world and was not going to go back to books and professors. That had nearly caused Mrs. Weasley’s head to explode and she shouted that she was not going to have another child drop out of school, and had even sent an owl to Professor McGonagall. The new Headmistress had shown up at the Burrow almost immediately and said she was more than happy to have Ron and Harry join Hermione in continuing their studies. Ron was horrified while Harry politely told her he would consider it in the future and Mrs. Weasley was thrilled.

Now with the threat of school hanging over his head, Ron had jumped at the chance to go to Diagon Alley with Ginny and Harry and was determined to find a job hoping that it would get Mrs. Weasley to leave him alone.

Hermione had been very curious about this meeting with the Minister and had voiced her many different theories to Ginny and Ron the moment she got there, which was now the cause of Ron’s mixed look on his face. He had sent many glares in Ginny’s direction, as she was the one who had sent a letter to Hermione telling her about the meeting with the Minister. Ginny had not paid much attention to them; she was concentrating hard on listening to the Extendable Ear she had hidden.

The day before Ginny had convinced Harry to let her, Ron and Hermione listen in on the conversation with the Minister. That way they could hear what was going on and know if Harry needed their help. Harry had seriously doubted he would need the help but he had agreed to the plan. All he had to do was to hold one end of each of the Ears and causally drop them just as he went inside the room.

Right now, Ginny could only hear Tonks proclaiming that she was done with applying the Glamour Charms on Harry.

This was something else that had bothered Ginny. Mrs. Weasley had asked the Auror if she could accompany them on their trip, claiming that it would be a good idea to have an Auror on hand just in case she was needed. Tonks had agreed and to convince the group she said she would be able to help Harry apply and remove Glamour Charms. Harry had mentioned while Tonks was over that he wanted to be in disguise when he went to meet the Minister as he did not fancy being mobbed by anyone. Tonks had overheard him and volunteered to help making Mrs. Weasley a very happy witch since her children would be “protected just in case”. Ginny knew better; her mother wanted someone there to make sure Harry and Ginny kept their hands to themselves.

Tonks appeared at the bottom of the stairs and smiled at them. She had helped Harry alter his appearance before they left and followed him as he went up the stairs to meet the Minister and helped him remove them before he entered the room. Her hair was bright blue today, straight and shoulder length. She wore a set of magenta robes and her usual torn jeans beneath them. She sat down and rubbed her hands together conspiratorially.

“He looks like himself again,” she announced. “He’s on his way.”

The others nodded their understanding and Ginny checked to make sure the variation of the Sticking Charm Hermione used was still in place keeping the other end of the Extendable Ear in her ear.

Tonks went off to buy herself a drink as the trio of friends remained silent and listened.

Ginny heard a door open from Harry’s end of the listening device and the booming voice of the Minister.

“Hello Harry!” he greeted him. “Thank you for coming.”

“I wish I could say the same,” Harry replied scathingly. Ron chuckled at his tone.

“Right. Err . . . well why don’t you have a seat then,” Scrimgeour offered sounding a bit put off. Ginny could picture Harry standing there with a loathsome look on his face and his arms crossed.

“No thanks. I don’t plan on staying for very long,” was Harry’s response.

There was a silence before she heard Scrimgeour clearing his throat.

“I suppose I should get right to the point,” he said. “Harry it’s my pleasure to inform you that you are to receive the Order of Merlin, First Class!”

There was no response for a few moments and Ron, Hermione, and Ginny looked between each other stunned.

“That’s why you wanted to meet me so badly?” Harry’s surprised voice asked. “You want to give me a stupid award.”

“Harry, it’s not just any award; it’s an Order of Merlin! It is the most prestigious award one can receive and we are giving it to you!”

“Then why don’t you owl it if you want to give it to me so badly,” Harry replied.

“This isn’t something we can just owl to you. It is presented to you in a ceremony,” Scrimgeour replied. “In fact here is another copy of the invitation we had Mr. Weasley give to you.”

There was silence again and Ginny heard the rustle of paper. She felt warmth coming from her necklace intensify for a few seconds and she reached up, placing a hand over it. She had gotten used to the dull warmth that came from it almost constantly and there was hardly a moment where it wasn’t warm against her skin.

After a few moments the Minister spoke again. “This is a great honor for someone to receive and you definitely deserve it! Your friends, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger will receive the Order of Merlin, Second Class for their help as well.”

Ginny looked at her brother and friend and saw their eyes go wide in shock. None of them were expecting that.

Tonks arrived with her drink and asked them what was going on. Ginny shushed her and continued to listen. Hermione began to mutter quietly to Tonks relaying what they just heard.

“If you want this ceremony then go ahead and have it. I won’t be there,” Harry said.

“Harry, please reconsider this!” the Minister was begging now. “Think of what this will do for you.”

“What? All the press and publicity that I don’t want? No thanks,” Harry snapped in reply.

“No, not that. I meant for the people of our world! Harry, these people have been looking up to you throughout the war. They were counting on you and now that the war is over they are waiting for you. They need to see you and feel sure that it is truly over. They need this; you owe them this,” Scrimgeour was explaining.

There was no noise for some time and Ginny thought that perhaps the Extendable Ear had stopped working until Harry spoke up again.

“You know, Minister, I don’t owe anyone anything,” Harry’s tone was harsh and barely under control. Ginny thought that he might even have his hand on his wand by now.

She could hear the creak of the door open and was about to tell Tonks that it was over when the Minister spoke again.

“Harry, if you do this I give you my word that we will not ask you any questions about the war ever again,” he offered.

Ron, Ginny, and Hermione stared at each other wondering what he was going to say. It was a very tempting offer in Harry’s point of view, but would he take it?

“I go, I get the stupid thing, and I leave. No more than that and you and your Ministry leave me alone,” Harry said.

“Of course, Harry. That’s all I want from you and we will not bother you again,” the Minister agreed and it was quickly followed by a door slam.

“It’s over,” Ginny whispered to Tonks. Tonks sprang from her chair and hurried to meet Harry and reapply the Glamour Charms.

Ginny pulled the Extendable Ear away from her and yanked it so that it rolled up again.

“I can’t believe he agreed,” Ron whispered in awe.

“Well the Minister did give him something he wanted,” Hermione replied and sighed
“I don’t think they are going to keep their word though,” Ginny voiced. “I don’t trust that man.”

“Perhaps he means it though?” Ron offered and took a sip of his Butterbeer. “Maybe he really is going to leave Harry alone.”

“I doubt it,” Hermione said and shook her head. “He’s going to pull something at that ceremony, I just know he is.”

“Do you think Harry just walked himself right into a trap?” Ron asked frowning at his girlfriend.

“Possibly,” Hermione replied. “I mean they did offer him his privacy and you know how much Harry wants that.”

Ginny drained the rest of her drink; she knew just how much Harry wanted his privacy from the Ministry and from everyone else.

Ron and Hermione continued to discuss Harry’s decision in hushed tones. Ginny simply sat in her chair, watching the stairs for Tonks and her boyfriend.

Soon enough, Tonks reappeared followed by a blonde hair and brown-eyed boy in Harry’s clothes. He had managed to cover up his scar as well and transfigured his glasses into a more square shape. Other than those few changes he still looked the same, but to those who didn’t know Harry, he was just another face in the crowd.

They approached the table where Ron, Ginny, and Hermione were sitting at and Harry made no attempt to sit down. His face was closed off making it hard for Ginny to figure out what he was thinking and it was no help that the light in the pub was reflecting off his glasses.

“Come on,” Harry said brusquely. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Harry, I can’t believe you told him you would go!” Hermione admonished as she sprang to her feet.

“Not now Hermione,” Harry grumbled and began to walk out of the Leaky Cauldron and to the back courtyard leading to Diagon Alley.

Ginny noticed that his gait was tense and swift. It was clear to Ginny that he wanted to get as far away as possible from the Minister and was not in the mood to linger.

Hermione, as observant as she was, did not seem to notice this. The brown-haired witch didn’t seem to want to stop her interrogation though. She trailed after Harry hot on his heels leaving Ron, Ginny, and Tonks a few steps behind.

“How can you agree to that?” she continued as Harry pulled out his wand to tap the bricks. “He’s just going to pull something over on you.”

“Look Hermione,” Harry growled and glared at her. “If this gets him to leave me alone, then fine I’ll go to the bloody thing. And if he does try anything then he’ll regret the day he ever heard my name.”

This effectively shut Hermione up. She looked hurt by his words and turned away from him.

He ran his free hand through his hair and tightened his grip on his wand. Ginny placed a hand on his shoulder and was not at all surprised to feel his muscles tense. He relaxed slightly at her touch. Harry sighed and looked apologetically at Hermione.

“Hermione, I’m sorry. Just, please leave me alone about it. Right now I just want to spend some time with my friends,” he said quietly.

Hermione nodded but didn’t say anything in reply. Ron took her hand and squeezed it reassuringly.

Ginny caught Harry’s eyes glancing at their hands and he frowned. He looked at Ginny and raised his eyebrows at her. She merely smirked and took his hand before taking out her own wand and opening up the entrance to Diagon Alley.

“I really should have asked Remus to come along,” Tonks sighed as they stepped out into the cold and icy air in Diagon Alley. “This could have turned into a triple date!”

Harry turned to look at her and frowned. His eyes glanced back at Ron and Hermione’s clasped hands which suddenly sprang apart.

“Oops,” Tonks muttered and watched on in amusement. “Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”

Harry ignored her and looked up at his friends.

Ginny exchanged looks with the Auror and grinned. Obviously she knew that Ron and Hermione were an item no matter what Hermione thought. In fact she was sure the whole family knew after their disappearing act on New Year’s Eve, but Ron and Hermione weren’t privy to it.

“Is there something you want to tell me?” Harry asked his friends.

Both shook their heads frantically as they stared at Harry. Ginny sighed and gave Hermione a pointed look.

“Hermione,” she said. “Go on.”

Hermione looked at her and back at Harry and sighed.

“Actually, we do have something to tell you,” she said in resignation. She looked at Ron and took his hand in hers again. “We’re going out.”

Harry was silent for a few moments as his eyes darted back and forth between them. His face was void of emotion and Ginny was afraid that perhaps this was affecting him more than she thought it would.

“Ron is this true?” he asked, his tone emotionless. Ron simply nodded his head seemingly afraid to make a sound.

“Yeah, mate. We’ve been together since April,” he admitted quietly.

“And you never told me?” Harry asked, letting go of Ginny’s hand and crossing his arms.

“We didn’t want to mess anything up!” Hermione quickly explained. “Harry, you know what we were going through at the time and we just didn’t think that we should be open about our relationship at the time.”

“What about now?” he asked continuing to look expressionless.

Hermione shot Ginny a fleeting look of despair and she sighed.

“We didn’t think it was a good time to tell you,” she admitted. “We weren’t sure how you would handle it.”

Harry was silent as he looked between them again. He took a few steps towards Ron who was watching Harry in slight fear. Ginny was anxious, wondering what Harry was going to do.

He put his hand on Ron’s shoulder and looked him square in the eye.

“Hermione and I may not be blood related, but I consider her my sister,” he said firmly. “Don’t hurt her.”

His face broke out into a grin and Ron and Hermione visibly relaxed. Ron and Harry shared what Ginny could only describe as a manly hug and pulled apart.

“Bloody hell, Harry. You had us scared there for a moment,” Ron said grinning at his friend.

Harry shrugged and took Ginny’s hand again. “I was just messing with you. Besides, I already knew you two had something going on.”

Hermione looked shocked and glanced at Ginny.

“I didn’t say anything!” she claimed and looked at Harry. “Tell her I didn’t tell you anything.”

Harry smiled and shook his head. “No, you didn’t. I figured it out a few months ago and knowing you two I pretended I didn’t have a clue and just waited until you admitted it.”

“You did?” Ron asked in surprise. “But . . . how?”

“Are you kidding?” Tonks asked. “You two are so obvious!”

The pair was bewildered by this.

“But how?” Ron asked. “I mean we never told anyone.”

“It was obvious. You two kept shooting looks all Christmas Eve and your argument was too short and you made up way too quickly. Not to mention a lot of us were spying when you two were making up outside,” Tonks admitted and grinned at them.

Ron and Hermione blushed but didn’t say anything.

“And Hermione calmed you down Ron considerably well when you got mad at Harry in the kitchen,” Ginny added smiling at them. “Then there was New Year’s Eve and your little disappearance.”

“So maybe it was a little obvious,” Ron grumbled but smiled at Hermione. “I guess you were paranoid for no reason.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and soon spotted Flourish and Blotts. She dragged Ron inside ignoring his shouts of protest.

Tonks followed the pair inside and Ginny was about to go in after her but found herself being yanked back.

“Come on,” she heard Harry whisper in her ear as he led her away from the front of the shop. His hand felt pleasantly warm and she picked up on the heat from her necklace.

He was glancing around making sure that no one was watching them. It did appear that no one was paying attention to the young couple, since no one recognized the young man as the savior of their world. He tugged her hand and she followed out of curiosity, her heart picking up its pace as the heat of her necklace intensified just a bit more.

“Harry?” she whispered as he pulled her around the corner of the shop into an alley and away from the crowds. “What are you doing?”

He smiled at her and gently brushed his knuckles across her cheek.

“I’m trying to get some alone time with you,” he whispered. The wings on the Snitch charm were lightly beating against her skin and she felt a thrill of excitement shoot through her. “Everyone’s been keeping such a close watch on us all week I just thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to be together without someone in league with the Snogging Patrol spying on us.”

Ginny smiled up at him as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I like how you think Mr. Potter.”

“Do you Miss Weasley?” he asked and wrapped his arms around her waist.

She nodded and leaned up to kiss him. Harry returned her kiss with enthusiasm but after a few moments Ginny didn’t feel quite right about it.

She knew it was Harry she was kissing. She knew it was her boyfriend holding her close and it was his lips pressed intimately against hers. She knew she was running her fingers through raven-colored hair she loved and not really the blonde locks he was sporting now, but at the same time it wasn’t. He was in disguise pretending not to be Harry and somehow it felt weird.

Ginny put her hands on his chest and gently pushed him away. He looked at her in bewilderment.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“I just . . . I can’t Harry,” she said apologetically. “This just feels weird.”

Harry frowned. “What feels weird?”

He was looking at her as if trying to figure out what he did wrong to make her feel weird. “I’m sorry if I did anything –”

“No, you didn’t do anything. It’s not you – well it is, but it’s not . . . I just,” Ginny was rambling and she knew it. She sighed and pushed a hand through her hair. “Bugger.”

Harry gave her a strange look clearly thinking she had gone slightly mental. Ginny sighed again and made another attempt to explain.

“I know that it’s you, but at the same time you’re pretending not to be Harry and it feels weird,” she explained. “I can’t kiss you when you’re trying to not be my boyfriend.”

Harry ran his hands through his hair, a hurt look on his face, and kicked the brick wall behind her. He yelped in pain and hopped on one foot for a moment while Ginny watched on guiltily.

“I can’t even snog my girlfriend in public now because I’m forced to be in disguise,” he muttered angrily. “Why is my life so unfair?”

She felt bad and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

He looked down at her and smiled softly.

“Don’t be. It’s my fault,” he sighed and his face took on a devilish smile. “I’ll just figure out some other way to be alone with you and have my wicked way.”

“I like the sound of that,” she replied.

He sighed again and wordlessly they made their way back to the bookshop.

Once inside, Ron made a beeline for Harry.

“Do you think he knows?” Ginny whispered to him.

“I hope not,” Harry whispered back and they waited for whatever it was that Ron was harried about.

“We’re getting out of here,” he said. “I can’t stand there for another second listening to her about those stupid books.”

Harry glanced at Ginny, a small look of relief crossed his face, which was quickly replaced with disappointment. Ginny touched her necklace with her hand feeling the constant warmth and slight fluttering. Harry gave her a small smile before looking back at Ron.

“What about me?” Ginny asked crossing her arms and glaring at her brother.

“You can keep her company with Tonks. We’re going to the Quidditch shop,” Ron replied and before Harry or Ginny could react, Ron dragged him out of the shop.

Ginny glowered after her brother and even went as far as reaching for her wand.

“Wotcher, Ginny!”

Tonks’ voice startled Ginny in her attempt to hex her brother through the door and the crowd and she dropped her wand. She picked it up and looked at Tonks.

“Sorry,” Tonks apologized, “didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s okay,” Ginny replied and stored her wand inside her robes again. “I probably would have hit someone else instead. Where’s Hermione?”

Tonks jerked her head in the vague direction of the History section.

The pair began to walk towards the section. Ginny was not paying much attention to Tonks as she moaned about the disaster the Aurors were having in tracking down a Death Eater that kept slipping out of their reach. She should have been listening but she couldn’t. Her mind was too busy with thinking about the hurt expression she saw on Harry’s face and she hated it. Why was it so hard to have a normal relationship with him? They couldn’t go out in public and just be together without Harry having to worry about being mobbed and the Ministry running after him. They couldn’t even be alone at the Burrow and it was frustrating. She was leaving for Hogwarts tomorrow and didn’t know when she would see Harry again. Suddenly she felt like crying and without notice, she did.

“Ginny?” she heard Tonks say worriedly and she quickly wiped the tears away from her eyes. “Ginny, what’s wrong?”

She shook her head and willed herself to stop crying.

“Nothing. I’m just being stupid is all,” she replied miserably and to her chagrin she kept crying. Ginny was not someone who was prone to crying like this. There were very few times in her life where she cried like she was now, usually when she was very upset about something like the other night with Percy, and never was it over something so trivial.

She hadn’t noticed that they had reached Hermione and that the two witches exchanged worrisome looks.

“It must be something if you’re crying,” Tonks said soothingly and placed an arm around her shoulders.

Ginny sniffed and rubbed her face in frustration. “I told you it’s just something stupid.”

“No it’s not, now tell us,” Hermione said. “What’s wrong?”

Ginny took a deep stuttering breath and decided she might as well tell them. She looked down at the carpet floor avoiding looking at her friends.

“I just –” she didn’t know how to put it without sounding like she was whiny ten year old again. “I’m going to miss Harry so much when I go back to school!”

She sniffed again and looked up and saw both Hermione and Tonks looking at her in concern. Her hand clutched around the warm charm on her necklace and she drew comfort from knowing that Harry was thinking of her.

“And we can’t spend more than a few minutes alone together! Ever since Mum caught us alone in my room like that she’s been dead set on making sure someone is around us all the time! How can I enjoy the little time I have with him if we have to have a babysitter around us and we can’t even go out in public without him having to hide himself!” she cried drawing attention from several nearby customers.

Hermione enveloped her in a hug and Tonks patted her back.

“I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to this,” Tonks sighed. Ginny looked up at her sharply.

“Don’t blame yourself,” she admonished. “It’s my mother doing it. I know she told Ron to be around us as much as possible and I know that she convinced Charlie to stick around longer to watch us. I’m surprised that she didn’t get anyone to follow us when we went to the Dursleys!”

Tonks concerned look changed to one of guilt instantly and Ginny frowned. She gasped however when she remembered something from that day.

“That was you?” she asked in shock. “You were the one who made that rubbish bin tip over, weren’t you?”

Tonks nodded in shame. “Molly Flooed over asking for Remus but he wasn’t home so she asked me to go and keep an eye on you two. Moody let me borrow his invisibility cloak and I went.”

She should have been upset with this information; it was proof that Mrs. Weasley was getting anyone and everyone to baby-sit her and Harry despite the talk they had had. But what was troubling Ginny now was what Tonks had seen. She was sure Harry did not want anyone else to know about the locks and the cupboard.

“Did you go inside the house?” Ginny asked softly and tried to act more as if she were accusing her than fearful.

Tonks shook her head. “I didn’t think you two would start anything in there anyway. You weren’t too long.”

Ginny nodded knowing that at least no one else was completely privy to Harry’s childhood.

“Though you two did look angry when you left,” she said thoughtfully. “What were you arguing about anyway?”

“You two had a row?” Hermione asked in surprise.

Ginny simply ignored her. She neglected to tell Hermione that last weekend when they had met up here.

“You didn’t hear us?” Ginny asked her heart pounding in her chest. Had Tonks heard Harry say he killed other people?

“No,” the Auror shook her head, her blue locks swaying with the motion. “I kept my distance.”

“It . . . it was stupid,” Ginny finally admitted and waved it off.

“It didn’t look like it was over something stupid,” Tonks continued and raised her eyebrows at the younger witch.

“It was, okay,” Ginny said forcefully. “Just don’t worry about it.”

Wanting to end the conversation, she turned on her heel and looked at Hermione. “So what type of books were you thinking of getting?”

Both of the other witches took Ginny’s cue and dropped the subject and Hermione leapt into showing Ginny a book she had found on the shelf on the history of magical travel.

Tonks quickly grew bored with the subject and told the pair she would wait outside while Hermione paid for her selections. Hermione kept her eyes on the Auror while she continued to discuss her curiosity with the Floo Network. Once the door shut behind her, Hermione turned to Ginny with a worried look.

“What were you two arguing about?” she asked shifting the books in her arms to a more comfortable position.

“What are you talking about?” Ginny asked in confusion.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about Ginny Weasley,” Hermione accused and set her with a firm glare. “Your argument with Harry.”

“It was nothing,” Ginny insisted and became interested in a poster announcing a book signing by some new author.

“If it was nothing then why didn’t you tell me about it?” Hermione asked trying to draw Ginny’s attention but it was difficult as her arms were full of books.

Ginny ignored her as Hermione set the books on the counter and to pay for them. She really did not want to disclose anything Harry told her about the Dursleys or anything else he told her in confidence.

“Pay for your books. I’ll wait outside,” Ginny said feeling very anxious to leave and to stop Hermione from questioning her. She turned to leave the queue and started towards the door.

“Ginny,” Hermione called after her but Ginny continued to ignore her and kept walking.

She heard a faint pop and nearly screamed when Hermione suddenly materialized a few feet in front of her two bags full of books in her hands.

“Hermione, don’t do that!” Ginny cried, her heart pounding furiously in fright.

“Then stop running away from me,” Hermione snapped. “What is going on with Harry?”

“Nothing!” Ginny shouted not caring anymore that they were in a shop. “You don’t have to know absolutely everything that goes on in his life Hermione!”

“Keep your voice down,” Hermione hissed, shifting both bags to one hand, and pulled her out of the shop.

The wind had picked up at some point causing Ginny to shiver a bit from the icy air. She pulled her cloak tightly around her.

Hermione turned to face her and sighed.

“Look, I’m just worried about Harry. He seemed great on Christmas Eve and when I saw him the other day and today he seems different and I know something happened at the Dursleys,” she said in what appeared to be a soothing voice.

Ginny was not having any of it.

“You don’t have to know every last blasted thing Hermione,” Ginny hissed angrily. “Lecturing him on everything is not going to help him!”

“I know that,” Hermione argued back. “I just want to help him. I want to know what’s going on with him and I know you know something! Don’t get angry with me because I’m concerned about Harry.”

Both girls were staring each other down and neither wanted to let up. Ginny caught a movement and saw Tonks heading towards them.

“I’m sorry, okay? It’s just . . . it is not my place to tell you anything,” Ginny said quietly. “That is up to Harry. I will not betray his trust.”

“I’m not asking you to betray his trust,” Hermione insisted in hushed tones. “I just want to make sure that he’s okay. He is one of my best friends and I want him to know that if he needs me I’m there for him.”

“Then tell him that,” Ginny whispered just before Tonks arrived.

Neither girl said anything more as they made their way to the Quidditch shop to find the boys. Ginny quickly entered the shop, eager to look for some new Chaser equipment. Hermione and Tonks followed her, the former with very little enthusiasm. Ginny spotted her brother and a blonde-haired Harry talking to an older gentleman.

The wizard had completely white hair and seemed to start going bald at the top of his head. He had a short beard and matching mustache and his face was etched with wrinkles. Ginny recognized the man to be the owner of the shop but she never knew his name. Ron was looking very excited and was shaking the owner’s hand while Harry stood next to him grinning from ear to ear.

“Ginny!” Ron cried when he saw his sister making her way towards them. “Ginny, come meet my boss!”

“Boss?” Ginny repeated frowning at her brother. She glanced at Harry and raised her eyebrows at him questioningly. He merely shrugged and smiled, nodding his head towards Ron.

“Yeah, Mr. Timble gave me a job working here,” Ron announced proudly. He looked at the elder wizard and smiled. “Mr. Timble, this is my sister Ginny. She’s a Chaser and the Captain of the Gryffindor team at Hogwarts.”

Mr. Timble held out his hand and Ginny shook it pleasantly.

“It’s a pleasure to meet to meet you Mr. Timble,” Ginny greeted him and smiled.

“The pleasure is all mine!” Mr. Timble replied. He had a deep booming voice that reminded Ginny of her Granddad. “Your brother here knows quite a bit about Quidditch.”

“Ron does love the game; though I still think he supports the wrong team,” Ginny said sending Ron a teasing smile.

“The Chudley Cannons are a very respectful team, Ginny,” Ron said. “Just because they don’t win very often –”

“They never win!” Ginny interrupted playfully.

“—doesn’t mean they are a bad team,” Ron finished ignoring her interruption.

He looked at Mr. Timble and smiled at the man.

“Thanks again, Mr. Timble. I really do look forward to working here,” Ron said and shook the man’s hand.

“And I look forward to seeing you here Monday morning. Eight o’clock on the dot,” Mr. Timble replied.

“I’ll be here,” Ron assured him and he and the shop owner said their farewells.

Ginny scouted out the shop a bit with Ron while Harry joined up with Hermione and Tonks in the front of the shop. As she was picking out a new set of gloves Ginny noticed that Hermione was whispering fiercely with Harry, and she had a good idea that Hermione was trying to figure out what was wrong with Harry. She paid for her gloves and was mooning over the broom models when Harry joined her.

“That was a nice chat,” Harry muttered under his breath. “You two argued?”

Ginny shrugged, studying the latest model. “It wasn’t really an argument. I just didn’t think it was my place to be telling her anything that you trusted me with.”

He was quiet for a moment before. “Thanks. But you know, Ginny, she can help me in her own way.”

“I know,” Ginny replied and looked at him. “I just think she should ask you directly instead of trying to pry it out of me. I know she’s a big help, I mean she has helped me a lot in the past.”

“Well, we talked. I told her that if I needed her help dealing with something I would go to her when I needed it,” he said. “She seemed to be fine with that, but I don’t think she stopped worrying.”

Ginny glanced over at Hermione, where Ron was now telling her and Tonks about his new job. She smiled at them and turned her attention back to the brooms.

“Look,” Ginny pointed to the newest broom. “The new Lightening 3000 Series – and there’s even models for specific positions!”

She stared at the broom in the glass case wishing she had enough gold for it. It was a dream broom really. They had just come out last month and Ginny could only dream of what it would be like to fly one of them. She was sure that a position specific broom would be marvelous to a team but it was something she knew her parents could never afford.

“I bet it costs a fortune,” she sighed.

“It’s not cheap,” Harry said. “We asked. I think Ron’s jaw actually hit the floor.”

Ginny giggled and continued to stare at the Chaser model of the Lightening 3000 Series.

“Still I would love to have a broom like that,” she said as a vision of her riding one during a game swam into her mind.

“You’re going to be careful when you go back, right?” Harry asked sternly.

Ginny broke out of her daydream and looked at him. “I already told you I would be and my shoulder has been doing a lot better. Don’t worry.”

Harry didn’t reply. Instead he suggested that they leave and make the most out of their day. Ron, Hermione, and Tonks followed them out of the shop and they spent the rest of their day enjoying their time in Diagon Alley.

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