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Mrs. Weasley was outside in the garden when they got the Burrow. She was attempting to weed the patch. Someone with her, talking to her. It didn’t take them long to figure out who it was. She had her wand tucked in its usual position behind her ear, she wore butter-beer corks around her neck and earrings that looks like radishes that they now knew were dirigible plums.

“Hello,” Luna said in her ethereal voice.

“Hello, Luna,” they chorused back.

“How did it go?” Mrs. Weasley asked, concern in her voice.

“It, er, it went alright,” Ron told his mother.

“The Dursleys didn’t give you too much trouble did they?”

“Not too much, no,” Harry said not wanting her to worry.

“That’s good, dear,” Molly said. “Give me a minute here and I’ll fix some sandwiches for lunch. Luna you’re welcome to stay.”

“Thank you, I think I will,” Luna said dreamily. “Ooh, you must have lots of luck, Mrs. Weasley, you have a family of gnomes living in your hedges!” she exclaimed bending over at the waist to look between the bushes.

“Er, I guess so, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said looking utterly perplexed. “I think I’ll go start fixing those sandwiches now.” molly went inside the house giving one more confused backwards glance at Luna. Ron and Harry were trying not to laugh, Hermione elbowed Ron in the ribs. Ginny followed her mother inside the house and Harry breathed in her flowery scent as she walked by.

“You coming, Harry?” Ron asked from the door. Hermione had already gone inside without Harry even noticing.

“Er, yeah, I’m coming.”

“Oh no, Harry! Were you just attacked by Nargles?” Luna asked which made Ron dash inside so he could let loose the laugh that he could no longer hold back.

“No, Luna, no Nargles. I was just…daydreaming.”

“Oh,” Luna said then she began to skip toward the door.

They all dashed down lunch pretty quickly and then helped clean up. It didn’t escape Mrs. Weasley’s notice.

“Where are you lot off to in such a hurry?” she asked kindly but with a hint of worry.

“We were hoping to get in a small bit of Quidditch,” Ron told her.

“Really? Well before you go, Harry, there’s something here for you,” Molly said getting up from the table. Mrs. Weasley crossed to the other side of the room where, unnoticed by any of them in the cluttered room, a package leaned up against the wall. “This arrived for you today,” she handed the large, long, brown box to him.

Harry cautiously opened the box from the top. When he peered inside he couldn’t believe his eyes. He reached inside and pulled out a long, sleek handled broom. It was gorgeous and neatly trimmed at the bristles.

“No way!” Ron exclaimed.

“Wicked!” Ginny said reaching out to touch it.

“Oh, it’s a broom,” Luna said casually.

“It’s not just a broom, it’s a Firebolt!” Ron said, his energy high enough to make up for Luna’s lack of enthusiasm.

“Who is the new Firebolt from, Harry?” Hermione asked, ever the cautious one.

“I’m not sure it is new, Hermione. Look here, there’s still a little bit of charring near the end of it,” Harry said. “I’m almost certain this is my own Firebolt.”

“But how?” Ron wondered.

“There’s a note attached to the box,” Ginny pointed out.

“Harry pulled the note off. Hastily he opened the envelope and unfolded the letter inside. On it was scrawled in slightly messy writing an explanation about the Firebolt.

“What does it say?” Hermione asked before Harry had a chance to finish reading the letter. He finished reading it before ha answered her.

“It is my Firebolt! I had lost it when we were making the getaway from the Dursleys last year. Apparently a Muggle kid found it and a witch who lived near him reported it to the ministry. They confiscated it and did a memory charm on the girl. According to the letter the broom was turned over to the company that makes them. When the brooms are made they’re designed to recognize their owner and in the case of becoming lost the company will be able to use that charm to track the owner so it can be returned.”

“That’s a pretty powerful spell,” Hermione said snatching the letter from Harry’s hand.

“It’s a very expensive broom,” Ginny reasoned.

“True, but I didn’t know they carried that charm. It’s almost a good thing the Firebolt was lost,” Hermione said beginning to read the letter.

“How could losing such a priceless broom be considered good, Hermione?” Ron scoffed.

“Because, Ron, suppose they figured out a way to track Harry by this broom.” It was understood by all who she meant by ‘they’.

“Oh, right,” Ron conceded sheepishly.

“You don’t suppose they’ve hexed it or anything?” Ginny wondered running her hand down the handle.

Hermione finished reading the letter and drew her wand. Harry lay the broom on the table and Hermione pointed her wand at it. She waved it a few times muttering countless counter curses and dark magic detection spells. After a few minutes she put her wand away.

“Well, I’m not detecting anything sinister, but still…I’d be careful, Harry.”

“Only one way to test it, though. Might as well give it a go,” Harry picked the broom up and headed for the door with the others following close behind him.

“You do realise how reckless this is, Harry,” Hermione pleaded. “Tell him this is dangerous,” she turned to Mrs. Weasley.

“He’s a man now, and to be honest I don’t think my saying something will change his mind. Let’s just be ready to slow his momentum if it bucks him off.” Hermione had no choice but to acquiesce and nod her head.

“Hold on, let me get my broom from the shed,” Ron told Harry as they passed by the small building. Ginny went inside and grabbed one of the old family brooms as well. When they reached the clearing that was surrounded by trees where the Weasleys normally practiced flying Ron and Ginny mounted their brooms first. They kicked off the ground easily and hovered low just in case they needed to try and help Harry.

“Well, here goes,” Harry said as he mounted his Firebolt and kicked off the ground. Hermione was right, he was being reckless and he wasn’t sure why. Right now he really didn’t care though he knew he should. He rose slowly from the ground waiting for something to happen…it never did.

After a while of careful watching and following Harry with the aim of their wands Hermione and Mrs. Weasley finally conceded to the fact that there was nothing wrong with Harry’s Firebolt. Mrs. Weasley told them she would be back at the house if they needed her and she left with a smile and a wave. Luna kept Hermione company on the ground while Harry, Ron and Ginny tossed a ball around. Harry swung a few fast manoeuvres and passed the ball off to Ginny. She caught it deftly and tried to throw it past Ron. Ron did a rolling dive and managed to stop the ball from passing him. Harry wanted to cut loose and fly high but he reminded himself that they needed to stay below the tree-line so they would not be seen by Muggles. Ginny did give Harry a chance to challenge himself by throwing some hard to catch passes. Harry knew his love for Quidditch was something that would always be with him.

After about a quarter of an hour of playing Ginny and Ron got into a shouting match. Ginny had thrown a particularly hard throw that nearly hit Ron on the head, Ron only deflected the ball at the last second.

“I don’t see what your problem is?” Ginny said haughtily.

“The problem is you nearly took my head off!” Ron shouted at his sister, his ears turning red.

“I’m sorry, I thought we were supposed to be practicing? Besides, if I meant to hurt you I would’ve thrown it at my hardest. I’m just trying to keep you on your toes. Slytherin takes head shots at you all the time.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t have to worry about Slytherin any more.”

“Does Mum know you’re not going back to school?” Ginny asked accusingly.

“Whether she knows or not doesn’t matter, I’m an adult, it’s my decision,” Ron shot back but his look of guilt gave him away that Molly did not know and he knew it did matter…a lot.

“So what are you planning on doing?” Ginny asked with the knowledge that Ron had probably not thought that far ahead yet.

“Lay off, Ginny, please,” Ron begged her.

“Fine but you might want to come with something before you tell Mum you’re not going back to Hogwarts.”

Harry didn’t hear what Ron’s response was because he had pulled away from the other two and was headed closer to the ground in a slow graceful swoop towards Hermione and Luna. It had caught Harry’s attention that Ron and Ginny’s shouting match had not distracted Hermione from listening to Luna. Needless to say it piqued his curiosity and he was interested to hear what Luna was saying that Hermione was finding so intriguing. Harry gently landed a few feet away from the two girls. He caught Luna’s next words easily.

“So anyway, dad should be home from St. Mungo’s soon. I think he’s really upset that the horn wasn’t really from a Crumpled-Horned Snorkack but he wants to keep looking. I personally think that maybe they don’t exist. Maybe dad just believes everything a little too easily. I am still curious what really exists, you know, but maybe I should find out for myself what to believe in?”

“I think that’s a very good idea,” Hermione said to Luna kindly and meaning it.

“Yes, well I’m thinking of really concentrating my studies this year on Magical Creatures and on Herbology. Maybe after Newts I can really explore and maybe I can discover some real elusive creatures and plants.”

“That sounds like a great idea, Luna!” Harry said as he took a seat in front of the two girls.

“Oh, hello, Harry, I didn’t see you come down. Are you done flying then?”

“For now I guess,” Harry told her as Ron and Ginny landed in unison a few yards away.

“So, Luna, how are the repairs on your house coming?” Ginny asked as she sat next to Harry and Ron sat beside Hermione.

“Oh, just fine. Actually it’s funny you asked,” Luna said. They waited for her to continue but she didn’t.

“Er, curious, but why is it funny that Ginny asked?” Harry prompted.

“Oh, well it’s just that two days ago Kingsley Shacklebolt came by with some construction wizards and they helped rebuild the house. The Structure is fixed anyway, I still have to paint and redecorate. Oh, and fix my ceiling, thank goodness it didn’t get damaged too bad but I wish I could’ve shown it to you before it was banged up.”

“Well, actually, Luna, we did see it. It was beautiful,” Hermione said her eyes were a little misty.

“It really was and I just want to say thank you, Luna, for your friendship, for…everything,” Harry said uncharacteristically getting choked up himself at the memory of Luna’s ‘friendship ceiling’.

“Thank you, your friendship means a lot to me and…well, I wanted to express that. I knew you were at the house when it happened but I didn’t know you had been up to my room.”

“Yeah, well, actually it’s how I knew something was wrong. I went upstairs because I looked up and saw what I thought was myself in a mirror then I looked closer and saw it was a painting. When I went up to take a closer look Hermione and Ron followed me up. I noticed in your room there was dust and your bed looked cold, un-slept in. I knew then that you hadn’t been there. The Death Eaters came shortly after that.”

“Dad really is sorry,” Luna apologized for him.

“He doesn’t have to be, we understand. He didn’t see any other way out, he was just trying to get you back safely, to save you,” Hermione told her.

“What are you lot up to?” Mrs. Weasley asked surprising them as she had snuck up so quietly.

“Nothing, Mum, just talking,” Ginny said with a smile, trying to ease her mother’s worrying. Harry could only imagine what it must look like to Molly, to see all of them huddled and talking outside. Bringing up all her old fears when him and Ron and Hermione used to sneak off to plan and strategize for their mission.

“Luna was just telling us how her father is doing, weren’t you Luna?” Harry said.

“Yes, he’ll be home soon. He hopes to rebuild the printing machine.”

“That’s nice, dear,” Molly said. “Why don’t the lot of you come inside. It looks like rain on the horizon.”

Sure enough shortly after they had gone indoors it began to rain and the wind picked up. Ron pulled out his chessboard and Hermione pulled out her copy of The Tales of Beedle The Bard. Ginny went over to the window and sat on the bench seat that was positioned beneath it and she watched the rain.

“Are you watching for Augurey’s?” Luna asked Ginny.

“Is that another creature your father has showcased in the Quibbler?” Ron jibed.

“Actually, Ron, they’re dark green birds that let out mournful cries when it rains,” Hermione said looking up from her book.

“Oh, so they, uh…they do exist?” Ron asked dumbly.

“We learned about them in Care of Magical Creatures class in first year, Ron,” Harry told him.

“Oh, er, right. Sorry, Luna.”

“It’s alright, I understand,” Luna said with a dreamy look on her face as she gazed out the window looking for the elusive bird.

“Harry, care for a game of chess?”

“No, thanks,” Harry said turning to look at Ron and tear his gaze away from Ginny for a moment as he answered the query.

“Ginny?” Ron tried but she shook her head in decline.

“Luna, fancy a game?”

“Hmm? Oh, you want me to play?”

“Sure, if you want to,” Ron said. Clearly it meant a lot to Luna for Ron to ask her.

“Alright then,” Luna skipped over to join Ron. Harry walked over to Ginny and replaced Luna’s spot on the bench-seat beside her. Ginny’s gaze was still locked outside. Harry waited until Hermione was reabsorbed into her book and Ron and Luna were well into their game before speaking to Ginny. He didn’t want anyone to overhear, he wasn’t sure why.

“What are you thinking about, beautiful?” Harry asked with an easy smile. It earned him a slight grin and her attention. The look in her brown eyes when she looked at him took his breath away. Harry felt a very overwhelming need to kiss her, he involuntarily licked his lips and swallowed hard. Ron’s exclamation over Luna’s ability to play chess quite well broke the spell.

“Lot’s of things,” Ginny answered. “School, going back to Hogwarts. It’s going to be so strange, to be able to walk it’s halls again and not have to be afraid of who’s around the corner. I think what will be hardest is not seeing all the faces I used to see.” Harry knew she wasn’t just talking about of him. So many of their friends were either not returning to school or were lost at the hands of Death Eaters and battle. Still maybe he could offer her some comfort.

“I know it will be hard, we’ve lost so many friends. A part of me wants to go back if only to be closer to you. My comfort is that I have a way of knowing where you are if I really wanted to find out.”


“The Marauder’s Map,” Harry explained taking it out of his moke-skin pouch. “All this past year, when I was alone guarding at night I would watch you on the map and wonder what you were up to.” He unfolded the map and tapped it with his wand, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” Ginny studied the map for a while. There were no labelled dots to watch, no one was at the school as it was still closed.

“I wonder if it’s possible to re-open any of these passageways?” Ginny pointed to the tunnels that the Carrows had found and blocked.

“Good question,” Harry cocked his head to look at her. “You know these tunnels could be considered a major security risk. I might just have to investigate them,” Harry winked at Ginny. She finally smiled a full genuine smile before turning back to the window. Harry cleared the map and tucked it away again.

“So when do you think you’ll start working for Kingsley?” Ginny asked, still watching the rain fall.

“I don’t know. I was considering taking a bit more time to relax and help out with rebuilding, but I’m not sure.”

“Oh,” Ginny commented flatly. Harry watched her in silence for a while as she gazed upon the mournful outdoor scene. The rain continued to fall in a steady staccato upon the roof of the Burrow. The leaves on the trees shimmered silver in the wind. In a short amount of time the rain began to pool and create muddy puddles the drops would hit causing ripples along their surfaces. Watching the rain was beautiful in it’s own poignant way.

They whiled away the rest of the day much the same. Luna and Ron continued to play chess; Ron was happy to compete against someone who truly challenged him. Hermione was writing out a rune translation of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Harry followed Ginny when she got up after a while to help her and Molly make dinner. It was a mundane task but at least it passed the time and gave Harry an excuse to be near Ginny. The atmosphere didn’t really brighten up until Arthur and Percy came home in time for dinner bringing good news of progresses made at the Ministry.

Harry wished there were some other excuse for him to stay but when the sky grew dark and Luna said it was probably time for her to go Harry knew he should go as well. He was hoping Ginny would’ve opened up to him more before he went home.

“I’ll escort you home if you’d like Luna?” Harry offered.

“That’s a good idea, Harry, I was just about to offer the same. It’s still not completely safe, especially for people so closely involved in the Dark Lord’s downfall as we all were,” Arthur said.

“Thank you, Harry,” Luna said airily as she headed to the door. She stopped just outside the door to look into the bushes where she had seen the Gnomes before.

“I’ll just be moment,” he told her. Harry stood at the door, Ginny had followed him. Luna seemed engrossed in looking for the Lawn Gnomes and did not appear to have heard him.

Ginny moved in closer to Harry and he felt his pulse quicken. The other’s were in the sitting room, for the most part they were alone by the door. She leaned in closer still, Harry went rigid not sure what he should do. Very lightly she kissed him on the cheek and Harry couldn’t help the thought that if he turned he head just a few inches he could make it a real kiss. Already the spot on his cheek where her lips had caressed him burned with a warm glow.

“Thank you for being so patient with me, Harry. I know it can’t be easy for you, it’s not easy for me. I’ve just got some things to work out. I wish I could phrase better what I’m thinking but I’m not sure how. I wish I could make you understand how important it is to me for you to not take so much on your shoulders. That you could understand that you shouldn’t push the people who love you away when things get rough. It hurt that you did that, Harry, but I can’t change the past. I’m only afraid that it’ll happen again. Oh, I’m so confused, Harry. I-I’m sorry,” Ginny said first with tenderness, then fire and finally with sadness.

“Hey,” Harry said taking her into his arms for a hug, “It’s okay, Ginny, I understand. I’m sorry I put you through that.” He knew he meant it too. All he ever wanted to do was try and spare her pain. He was starting to really understand her fear. They just had to get past this. “I’ll wait for you for as long as it takes, you know that, right?” Harry kissed the top of her head. He drew in a breath, taking in the smell of her silken hair. He felt her nod her head and he knew she heard his rough whisper. “I love you, Ginny, nothing can ever change that.”

“I love you too, Harry,” Ginny said giving him one more hard squeeze, she kissed his chest and then she let go slowly.

“Goodnight,” Harry said and then he stepped outside to join Luna in the rain.

“Ready to go, Luna?” Harry asked.

“Sure, Harry,” Luna said brightly, maybe she had missed to whole interlude?

“We just have to walk outside the yard’s pereimeter then we can Apparate the rest of the way if you’d like?”

“Oh, I know it’s a short distance but I would like to Apparate! I wouldn’t want to get led astray by a Hinkypunk,” Luna said. They Apparated as one to the path just outside of Luna’s home, the lighthouse, which Harry was amazed to see was in working order. The light atop shone as a bright beacon over the water. The rain had slowed to an eerie mist.

“You know, Harry, she really does love you, anyone can see that,” Luna said in her Airy voice.

“Er, thanks, Luna,” Harry said feeling kind of embarrassed. Maybe Luna noticed more than she let on.

“Well, goodnight, Harry,” Luna said and she trotted off up the path. He watched to make sure she got inside safely. She turned on the lights inside and waved from the window. Harry turned to go back down the path, enjoying the feel of the sea breeze and the mist against his skin. The cold made him feel alive somehow.  With a heavy sigh he turned on the spot and Apparated away from the sea, away from his friends to his almost empty house, Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

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