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The rest of the week passed in a long drawn-out blur for Harry. The Pure-Blood Movement became very active so everyday when Harry finished his classes with Travers he helped Kingsley trying to capture the Dark Wizards. They also had to work out the existing security risks and problems including but not limited to the fact that Azkaban prison needed to be guarded properly, trials needed to be held for the Death Eaters that were captured and people claiming to have been Imperiused needed to be sorted out from the liars and the ones telling the truth. Kingsley and Harry both agreed with Dumbledore’s original assessment that the Dementors were a risk not to be taken. Several Dementors had joined the wizards in the P.B.M. in the last couple of days attacking a wizard family openly in a little coastal town in the south of Dorset and again another family this time further north in Dumfries. There seemed to be no pattern to the attacks, none that they could ascertain anyway, so there was no way of knowing where they would strike next. It was frustrating and it was making the wizarding community afraid to live their daily lives yet again, just when they thought things would go back to some semblance of normalcy. Harry put in long days everyday at work and out in the field at the attack sites and searching possible leads. He knew Kingsley really needed his help, it also meant Harry really didn’t get to see Ginny. Even Arthur and Percy worked long hours alongside them. Molly sent them food during the day which was greatly appreciated by all. It was on Harry’s ninth day in a row of working that Kingsley mentioned that fact that Harry should take a day to relax, Kingsley himself had taken the previous day off.

“Seriously, Harry, if you work yourself too hard then you won’t be in the best of shape when I could really use your help in a sticky situation,” Kingsley insisted when Harry made to protest. “Go home, get some sleep, take tomorrow off.”

“But, sir,” Harry started to protest until Kingsley put his hands up palms out in a way that so imitated Dumbledore that it did silence Harry.

“No ‘but’s, Harry. Take a day off, you’ve earned it.”

“Yeah, alright. It just doesn’t feel right resting when I know that people aren’t as safe as they could be. That there‘s something I could be doing to make them safer.”

“I know the feeling, believe me I do.”

“Yeah,” Harry said as he wearily got up from the chair at the meeting table in Kingsley’s office that was covered in various maps and papers. With a wave of his wad Kingsley rolled up the papers and put them away. It was just after nine at night and Harry and Kingsley had just finished a meeting with the senior members of the Auror department and key advisors in several other departments in the Ministry. Harry was just about to grab the knob to the door when then door swung open. Harry grabbed for his wand but quickly relaxed when he saw it was just Percy.

“Sorry, Harry. Minister, this just arrived from Professor McGonagall,” Percy handed Shacklebolt an envelope with familiar green inked script on it. Kingsley broke the wax seal and read the letter quickly.

“Change of plans, Harry, sorry.”

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, but I’ll need you tomorrow. Minerva’s decided to have the school reconstruction tomorrow. She didn’t want to give the Pure-Blood Movement too much time to plan that’s why the last minute note. She’s sent a missive off to the people she trusts to help. I’ll need you there as added security, and I’m sure you’ve got a letter like this one waiting at home for you.”

“I’ll be there,” Harry said. “See you tomorrow then. Goodnight, Kingsley, goodnight, Percy.”

“Goodnight, Harry,” they chorused back tiredly. They were all pretty beat. On the plus side, Harry thought, he would get to see Ginny tomorrow. He was sure Ginny would be there. All the Weasleys would.

Harry trudged into Number Twelve where Kreacher was up waiting for him. Harry ate at the table hardly aware of what Kreacher had kept warm for him. He was beat and just wanted to sleep. The food gave him just enough fuel to make it up the stairs but being full made him too content and it made him even more sleepy. He told Kreacher where he would be tomorrow and Kreacher had somehow already knew. That made him wonder but Kreacher explained that he had befriended Winky and she had given him the heads up. Harry wasn’t sure how he felt about the fact that Winky felt so open with information that hadn’t been given by McGonagall until the last minute on purpose for security reasons. Harry was happy that Kreacher had taken it upon himself to fill the void of friendship that had been left after Dobby’s death, in Winky’s life anyway. He wondered if Kreacher would have more luck trying to sober Winky than Dobby had. Harry’s thoughts became errant as he started to drift to sleep.

The next morning Harry allowed himself the luxury of sleeping in, at least until the sun was up which was much later than he had been getting up for work. He dressed in the clothes Kreacher had laid out at the end of his bed. The clothes were much nicer than the clothes he had been wearing; Harry had decided that his new job required some new clothes that were more appropriate. Harry had entrusted Kreacher with the task of purchasing the clothes which he was too eager to oblige, apparently Kreacher had always enjoyed shopping. He had regaled Harry with a tale of when he had been with Sirius and Regulus for their school shopping and the mischief his masters had created. It was nice for Kreacher to share his story and Harry liked being able to learn more about Sirius but it still hurt, like someone had poured salt into a wound not quite healed. After dressing, reading his mail, eating breakfast and making sure he had on his moke-skin pouch and had his wand Harry headed out for Hogwarts. He Apparated into a side-trail that was very close to Hogsmeade. He enjoyed the walk into the town, taking in the fresh air and the early morning sunlight. A slight warm breeze played at his hair and, in a move that was subconsciously emulating his father, he ruffled the hair on the back of his head. Harry waved at Aberforth, who was shooing his goat out the door, as he walked by the Hog’s Head. Aberforth waved back with a smile before he went back inside. Harry noticed Madam Puddifoot’s place was quite busy, the tables she had set up outside were all full with customers. The Three Broomsticks wasn’t open yet due to the hour but Rosmerta was outside cleaning her windows as Harry walked by. As Harry rounded the corner in the street and finally looked to Hogwarts castle he felt a strange tightening in his chest that he couldn’t quite explain.

The castle itself still stood monument atop the hill with it’s windows glittering in the sunlight. Harry could make out the horrible damage rendered to the school. It hurt to see the building in such sorry shape but, Harry reminded himself, that’s why they were here. He quickened his pace to reach to castle faster now and his breathing became heavier as he hiked up the hill. Three were already quite a few people along the grounds when Harry got there. Kingsley was talking to Several of the professors and he gave Harry a nonchalant wave as Harry went by that was returned just as easily. In a letter Harry had received this morning Kingsley had told Harry to make sure their appearance was more of a friendly capacity but to stay on alert. These people had been through enough, why make them on edge by looking like a army squadron on the front lines? There were several Aurors mixed throughout the crowd, Harry nodded politely to the ones he recognized. Hagrid gave Harry a bone-crushing hug. Several of Harry’s friends came up and shook Harry’s hand or clapped him on the back in greeting. It was good to see people like Seamus and Dean, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, Oliver Wood, Lee Jordan, the Patil twins and even Cho Chang who greeted Harry shyly with a smile and a breathiness that at one time would’ve had Harry’s stomach doing somersaults. Cho really didn’t have any affect on him anymore, only one woman could have that affect on him now and his heart belonged to that woman. He greeted them all with kindness and happiness but all the while he kept his eyes roaming, looking for the group of people he felt most comfortable with.

Harry found the Weasleys outside of Hogwarts castle by the side that had been blown out. Several people could be seen inside the structure through the massive holes in the stone building’s walls. McGonagall was one of the people that Harry could see. No one had started any construction yet and seemed to be waiting for McGonagall’s instructions as to how to proceed.

“Hey, Harry, over here!” Ron waved to Harry. As Harry drew closer to the Weasleys he noticed that Luna as well as Neville had joined them. Ron and Hermione were holding hands. Harry wished he could display his affection for Ginny so openly. Mrs. Weasley was smiling at seeing the public display of affection. Would she approve so easily if she knew how Harry and Ginny felt about each other? Did she already know, had she figured them out? George’s comment as he had stormed out had not gone unheard, did it reveal too much? Harry tucked his fears away and smiled when he finally reached the group.

“Glad you could join us, Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said as she hugged.

“There’s no place I’d rather be right now,” Harry meant every word. He really owed Hogwarts a lot. It was hard to train his mind to not think of Hogwarts as home anymore. It hurt to look up and see the building so damaged.

“Hello, Harry,” Ginny’s voice drew his gaze away from the castle. Ginny was more beautiful to him every time he saw her. She was wearing a pair of tight fitted jeans and an emerald green blouse that complimented her hair colour nicely. She was smiling a full broad smile that, to Harry, was as warm as the sun shining down on them. And the sun was shining quite brightly, there wasn’t a cloud in the clear blue sky. A perfect day.

“Hi, Ginny,” Harry returned her smile with all enthusiasm. How easy it would be for him to reach out and caress her face, trace her freckles with his finger. He almost gave into the impulse but McGonagall began to speak to the now large group gathered to help using the Sonorus Charm.

“First and foremost I want to thank all of you for coming on such short notice. I know that there are other places you all could possibly be at but you chose to come to help rebuild Hogwarts. Remember that as we rebuild the castle, this wondrous structure, stone by stone we will be rebuilding our lives, our hope for the future. Hogwarts has seen many students pass through its’ halls. It’s been here for centuries, not only standing through history but becoming history itself. May it see many more years to come,” most of the people in the crowd shouted a ‘hear, hear’ and ‘yeah’ to her speech.

“Now let’s get down to it. We need a group to levitate the stones broken off from the wall lying on the ground up to another group that will be up here setting them in with mortar and cement. We also need a group to fly on brooms up to the roof to replace the slate. Another group to make repairs inside the castle and return things to their proper places. Finally another group to clean. The only thing I can guarantee is that this will be a long day.” That drew a few laughs from the gathered people. The crowd started breaking up into groups to do the assigned tasks.

Madam Hooch led the group going on brooms up to the roof. Hagrid led the group doing the actual cementing of the stones into the castle. Flitwick took the group that would be making repairs inside the castle as well and following him Professor Sprout led the group that would be doing the cleaning also joined by Filch. Mr. Weasley volunteered their group to levitate the stones up. Harry didn’t mind the assignment, it allowed him to stay outside where he could keep a good view of any oncoming threats.

There was definitely truth to what McGonagall had said, this day would most definitely be a long one. The smaller stones were easy enough to lift but once they did they had to hold them up until the mortaring crew had them secured. The larger boulders had to be team lifted which took a bit more coordination. To do this Harry had teamed up with Ginny; Arthur and Molly and Ron with Hermione were teamed up as well. Luna, Neville and Percy lifted the smaller rocks as individuals. After they had all worked up a sweat standing out in the sun levitating stones for several hours McGonagall called for a lunch break.

The house-elves had outdone themselves yet again. They had set up picnic blankets with a wonderful spread of food. The Weasleys picked out a few of the blankets closest to the lake. Ron and Hermione walked hand in hand until they got to the blankets and Harry couldn’t stop the sigh of longing that escaped him. A few paces later and he smelled Ginny’s flowery scent a second before he felt her warm hand take his. A warm tingling sensation crept up his arm, it felt nice. Harry’s steps as they finished the trek to the blankets seemed lighter. They joined Ron and Hermione on their blanket along with Luna and Neville. Harry couldn’t help but grin broadly when Ginny chose to keep her proximity to Harry very close when they sat down.

Harry was sure he was just being paranoid but he swore he could feel Mrs. Weasley’s eyes watching them. He had worked up quite an appetite, as had they all, so he put off looking at her by loading up the plate Ginny had handed him with food; cucumber sandwiches, potato salad, pickles and for good measure a couple of pumpkin pasties. It sounded like a lot of food but compared to what Ron ate it was hardly anything. Ginny, Hermione, Neville and Harry were staring at how much food Ron was taking.

“What?” Ron asked, his mouth full, looking up to see them watching him.

“Nothing, Ron, nothing at all,” Hermione said with a laugh.

They ate and chatted comfortably, Ginny took some of the pickles off of Harry’s plate that he didn’t finish. The cold pumpkin juice was so refreshing that the pitcher emptied quickly and it startled Luna a bit when a house-elf from the kitchens filled it with elf magic.

“It’s amazing how much they do here without really being seen,” Neville commented. Harry exchanged a worried glance with Ron, afraid Hermione would start on about S.P.E.W..

“The house-elves here enjoy themselves. They stay mostly to the kitchens. We used to visit them using the portrait passageway,” Harry told Neville.

“Wish I could’ve found and used that passageway without getting caught when I first went into hiding,” Neville said with a wry smirk.

“Yeah but if you did then the tunnel to Ab’s would never have opened up,” Luna pointed out as she tossed the crust of her bread into the lake. They all watched in silence as the Giant Squid grabbed the bread with it’s tentacles. Ginny rested her head on Harry’s shoulder as they waited for the others to finish eating. Harry could smell the inviting scent of her hair and he bowed his head down to kiss the top of her head. A sharp intake of breath reminded him they were under scrutiny.

Harry looked over to see Mrs. Weasley staring with a strange look on her face. Harry could feel the heat rushing to his cheeks and he knew he was blushing profusely. All he could do was open and close his mouth, unsure of what to say. After a moment Mrs. Weasley gave Harry a quick wink and smile. He returned the smile sheepishly and then looked away.

“Um, Ginny?” Harry whispered into her ear.

“Hmm?”

“What does this mean, exactly? I’m just asking because I want to be sure and well… you’re mum is watching us and…”

“Harry?”

“Shh,” she said looking up at him.

“Alright,” Harry acquiesced feeling a little disgruntled. Had he just messed up when things between them were going so good? Then Ginny smiled a beautiful smile with her eyes sparkling like diamonds and then, in front of anyone who happened to be watching them, she kissed him. The blush he had a moment ago came back in full. The kiss was sweet and tender, just a gentle pressing of lips but it warmed Harry to the core. It was something Harry definitely wouldn’t mind continuing later but he couldn’t forget that Mrs. Weasley was probably still watching them. When they broke the kiss Harry whispered to Ginny that her mother was probably still watching them. Ginny just shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly, winked in a mischievous way and hugged Harry tightly from the side. She rested her head on his chest and they stayed that way until lunch was over; content to just look out over the lake watching the sunlight glitter off the water.

The moment of contentment didn’t last long enough for Harry but they went back to the castle when McGonagall called them all back. They chatted as they worked. Ron commented on the fact that most of the younger female population was fixated on Harry. Were they? Harry hadn’t noticed. He said as much.

“Aw, come on, Harry. Honestly, what was that with Cho this morning? ‘Hello, Harry,’” Ginny imitated Cho, batting her eyelashes and giggling in a soft twitter. The others laughed at her antics, Harry tried to fight it but he couldn’t and he laughed too.

“It’s not like that, really,” He protested, apparently to deaf ears.

“Oh really? How about we test the theory?” Ginny said with a wicked gleam in her eye.

“What do you mean?” Harry asked cautiously, narrowing his eyes and scrutinizing Ginny.

“Look over to Cho or any of the girls in her group,” Ginny told him. Cho’s group were gathering more supplies and getting ready to go back up on their brooms to the roof. “They watching you?”

“Erm,” Harry didn’t want to answer that because they were indeed watching him with shameless adoration that made Harry feel slightly ill.

“Oh, they are, good!” Ginny said. “Now keep watching them.”

“Ginny, what’re you-” before he could finish Ginny had planted a kiss on his cheek. It lasted just long enough for Ginny to get the reaction she wanted. All the girls over by Cho and including her shot looks that were more like death rays at Ginny.

“Now they’re ticked, right?” Ginny asked already knowing what the answer would be.

“Quite,” Harry said. “You knew that would happen, you little minx,” Harry said giving her a light swat on her behind. Ginny laughed at that. They heard Ron clear his throat and whisper ‘Mum’ in warning. Harry and Ginny quickly composed themselves and managed to have a rather large boulder lifted nearly to the now much smaller open hole before Mrs. Weasley reached them.

“How’s it going over here?” she asked. Harry couldn’t look at her to gauge her mood, he couldn’t take his eyes off the boulder.

“Fine, Mrs. Weasley,” Neville answered as he had just set his stone down in the wall.

“You seem like a cheerful lot today,” Molly commented and Harry could feel his cheeks beginning to flame again. When the cementing crew gave Harry and Ginny the thumbs up they dropped their hold of the boulder slowly. Harry had never imagined using the Levitation charm for quite this purpose. Harry looked at Ginny before he looked to her mother and he noticed Ginny was blushing too. Molly was smiling a Cheshire cat grin when Harry finally looked at her. They were so busted. Ah well, at least she approved and he didn’t have to worry about the cat being out of the bag. “Minerva just told me she expects us to finish earlier than the other groups and wanted to know if we would mind helping the groups fixing the inside when we’re done?” Molly finished. They all nodded and said yes and she went back over to Arthur. Harry watched as she whispered into his ear and he whipped around to look at Harry and Ginny. Harry quickly looked away and went back to work. It was obvious that Mrs. Weasley had just informed her husband of what she had noticed going on between Harry and their daughter.

The work they had to finish seemed to go by faster as they were able to laugh and joke about silly things, trivial things. Neville also told them that he really wanted to make his love for magical plants part of his future career. He was hoping to go exploring for a while after his last year of school.

“Maybe I’ll run into you in a jungle somewhere, Neville,” Luna remarked as she floated a rock up into the sky. “I’m hoping to go exploring after I’m done with school too.”

“Oh, er, what were you planning on looking for?" Neville looked almost pained as he asked.

“Whatever’s out there,” Luna told him as though this information should be obvious. Harry was waiting for her to add a sarcastic ‘duh’ to the end of her sentence. Neville just shrugged and exchanged a smile with Ron that Luna did not see.

They levitated the last of the stones and it was around four o’clock when they were completely finished with the wall. They were all pretty tired but it felt good to see the castle’s walls fully intact. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley led them inside. Professor McGonagall asked if they would collect all the desks and return them to the classrooms. The damaged ones needed to be fixed with the spell ‘reparo’ if possible and if they had been hit by a stray curse they need to be fixed or salvaged the old fashioned muggle way. Mr. Weasley was only too eager to weld the muggle hammer and nails, even though every now and then he hit his thumb. He set up shop in the Great Hall. Mrs. Weasley stayed to assist him and to make sure he didn’t hurt himself too badly. The rest of them roamed the corridors and stairways looking for classroom furnishings and objects along with the desks and returned them repaired to the rooms they belonged to.

They were putting the door to Ravenclaw tower back on its hinges when one of the other groups came from the opposite direction. Among the group was Angelina Johnson and holding her hand was George. He glanced at Harry then at Ginny and Harry waited for a storm of anger but George looked more sad than angry. In fact Harry noticed George’s eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. He had obviously been crying.

“Hey, guys,” George said nodding his head. They all said hello politely, tentatively, all except Ginny.

“’Hello’ yourself, George,” she said after she had thrown herself at him to squeeze him in a hug. He smiled a little and hugged her back. “You’ve had me worried about you!” Ginny smacked George’s arm.

“Yeah, I know,’ George sighed. “I’m sorry, Ginny. Am I forgiven?”

“You know you are,” she told him with a grin.

“Hey, Ron, could I talk to you for a minute?”

“Er, sure,” Ron went with George around the corner to an empty hallway. They finished securing the door while they were gone and when they came back Ron was smiling.

“Ron, what…?” Hermione started to ask.

“The shop’s been really busy lately and without…,” George cleared his throat, “without Fred I really need help. Ron really does have a knack for the joke stuff, always has. I’ve offered him partnership in the shop.

“Guess you have a job now, Ron,” Ginny remarked. “Wonder if that’ll make telling Mum you’re not going back to school any easier?” she teased.

“You mean you had already planned on not going back?” George asked.

“School never was for me.”

“So when are you free to start work?”

“Whenever you need me.”

“How’s tomorrow sound?”

“Er, tomorrow is, er, great,” Ron lied. He obviously had not expected to give up his summer so easily. George laughed and clapped Ron on the back in a way that reminded them of the way George had been before Fred died. Harry could only hope it meant George was grieving and starting to heal. Harry knew from experience that the healing took a while and even then scars remained. He couldn’t possibly imagine what it would be like to loose a twin. Like losing Ron but so many times worse? Maybe. Just the thought hurt.

“So, George, have you been here all day?” Ginny asked walking closer to her brother.

“Just after lunch, took half a day at the shop.”

“Oh,” was Ginny’s one word reply.

The two groups, Harry’s and George’s, teamed up to tackle the rest of the castle. Harry could feel an almost palpable tension between George and himself. It didn’t help that George was ignoring Harry and that Harry was so afraid to break what little bit a peace transpiring between them that he hadn’t spoken to George. They were all as one large group a whirlwind of repairing and cleaning spells. It was hard not to realize the majority of the stains that they were casting ‘Scourgify’ at was blood that was to be expected, Harry thought bitterly.

When they reached the seventh floor on a very familiar corridor they all as one paused. It was Neville who moved first. He walked up to the spot in the wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy where he knew the door would be if he wanted it for the Room of Requirement. Neville ran his hand down the wall in a gentle gesture that was more a loving caress and he whispered ‘thank you’. No one dared to laugh at him, nor would they ever want to, for the silent tear running down his cheek. All of the D.A. members understood all too well how much this room meant to them, most of all Neville. Hannah Abbott comforted Neville with a warm embrace when he rejoined the group. Harry thought they looked good together.

“I wonder if the room still works?” Hermione spoke her thoughts aloud.

“Only one way to find out, isn’t there?” Harry said as he started pacing back and forth thinking of the room as it was when they used to hold secret D.A. meetings. They all held their breath as the door appeared in the wall. Harry grabbed hold of the knob and pulled the door open. The inside looked as it had always looked. Cushions were set up on the side. Books full of defensive magic were on the shelves. A whistle was laying on a table. Harry lifted the whistle and examined it for damage, it was fine. The others looked around for a bit, taking private moments to thank the room as Neville had, but left after a while. Harry was last to leave but as he let the door dissolve behind him a thought struck him. He stopped in his tracks and started pacing by the door’s location three times again. He had to know, had to see for himself.

“What is it, Harry?” Hermione asked. Ginny and Ron exchanged glances.

“There’s something I want to check on,” the door reappeared again and this time, when Harry opened the doorhe was expecting destruction to face him. Destruction was exactly what he saw.

It was the room where things were hidden; where things had been hidden, most everything had been burned. The acrid scent of smoke and ash permeated the air and burned Harry’s nostrils. Everything was black and grey, what had burned completely had turned a strange sort of white. Hermione conjured a couple of face masks for them to wear so they wouldn’t breath in the soot and handed one to Harry.

“What is it that we’re looking for, Harry?” Ron asked, his face pale, as he took a mask from Hermione.

“What happened in here?” Ginny asked, stepping up to harry, donning a mask as well.

“Fiendfyre,” Hermione explained, “Crabbe used it against us but he couldn’t control it,” she finished in a hushed voice.

“So what are we looking for, Harry?” Ron asked again.

“That cupboard the Diadem had been on. I hid something in it in my sixth year. I wonder if it made it through the fire?” Harry headed in the direction he thought the cupboard was in. After they all searched for a while Harry finally spotted it, “Hey, I think I’ve found it!” He had to clambor over a pile of debris the get to the blackened cubic shape. When he opened the door it fell off it’s hinges. The inside of the cupboard was nearly as black as the outside. Harry reached his hand in and felt around. His hand clasped on thin air. The cupboard was empty. There was no trace of Snape’s potions book, there was no ash to even make up for the missing book that had once belonged to the self declared Half-Blood Prince.

“It’s gone!”

“It’s no wonder it burned, as bad as this room looks,” Ron reasoned.

“No, it’s just gone. There’s no ash or anything,” Harry clarified. Hermione pushed Harry aside to check for herself.

“There really is nothing here,” she announced.

“Like I said,” Harry said, half annoyed half amused; some things about Hermione would never change. “Well, at least it might not’ve burned,” Harry mused.

“What exactly was it that you were looking for?” Ginny asked.

“The potions book I used in my sixth year. It was Snape’s,” Harry said as he and Hermione trudged back down the mound of debris. “I hid it here after that incident with Malfoy. Snape had figured out where I’d gotten the curse from and how I was doing so well in potions. It wasn’t until later that we figured out it was Snape’s book,” Harry explained more for Ginny than for the other two. They already knew the story.

“How’d you get it in the first place?” Ginny asked.

“Remember Ron and I thought we wouldn’t have been able to take potions that year because Snape only allowed Outstandings come back for NEWT level potions but Slughorn ended up teaching potions that year. We had to use school potion books and the copy I got from the back of the cupboard belonged to Snape, though that’s not how he signed it so I had no idea. His notes were all over the book though,” Harry said as they walked carefully back to the door. When they went back into the hallway everyone else was talking to Sir Cadogan who was visiting the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy.

“Oh, there you guys are!” Neville said relieved. “We were wondering when you’d come back out.” Obviously they all wanted to try and get away from Sir Cadogan. Neville led the way in a direction niether group had taken and made repairs all along the way. Unfortunately for them Sir Cadogan followed them, passing through the paintings on the walls, ignoring the disgruntled occupants. Sir Cadogan kept hollering and exclaiming about the battle, it was really rather annoying and they had enough reminders about that day as it was, they didn’t need him drilling it in their ears. Ron started walking faster to try and get away from him and he turned a corner and for a few seconds Harry lost sight of him. A frightened yell made Harry draw his wand and run to catch up.

“Bloody hell!” Ron shouted. He was clutching his chest with one hand and pointing his wand with the other; he had turned a pasty white. “Damn thing scared me nearly to death! Is it dead?” Harry turned to face what Ron was so petrified of. Against the wall was an unmoving body of an Acromantula, one of Aragog’s descendants. Ginny walked forward cautiously and nudged the giant spider with her toe. It was stiff as a board.

“It’s dead, Ron,” she told her brother who was still cowering next ot Harry.

“Are you sure?” Parvati asked, she was just as pale as Ron.

“Quite. It’s so dead it’s a crispy critter.” To prove her point she kicked one of the legs and her show crunched against the exoskeleton.

“Well, we’ll have to get it out of here,” Hermione pointed out.

“Uh-uh, no way am I going near that thing!” Ron protested.

“We’ll take it outside,” Seamus said tapping dean on the shoulder and together they approached the Acromantula carcass. They levitated the spider and headed down the stairs ahead of everyone else. Ron, unsurprisingly, hung back to let them get a bigger lead on them. Sir Cadogan followed Seamus and Dean, exclaiming about their bravery all the way down the hall.

“Hello, hey, hello? Over here!” a female voice called. It wasn’t panicked but the voice was needy. They followed the sound of the voice until they reached a tapestry on the wall halfway down the stairway. The tapestry had been ripped and was covered in soot, ash and blood.

“Oh, goodness!” Hermione exhaled.

“I don’t suppose you could help me?” the young woman in the tapestry asked politely. She was huddled in the corner of her tapestry.

Scourgify,” Hermione said flourishing her wand at the cloth. It did clean it but when she tried to repair the tapestry it would not mend. “It must have been by a curse. Does anyone know how to sew?”

“I can do it,” Ginny offered. She conjured a needle and thread and set to work sewing the cloth back together. Harry had to admit she did a good job. From where he stood, and he was standing pretty close, he couldn’t tell where her stitches were.

“Ginny, when did you learn to sew?” Ron asked.

“Well, I used to get scraped up a bit when I used to sneak to practice flying and if Mum saw too many holes in my clothes she’d get suspicious so…” Ginny shrugged as she finished the tapestry.

“Pretty sneaky, Sis,” George said leaning on her shoulder.

“I learned from the best,” Ginny winked.

“Thank you ever so kindly,” the woman in the tapestry said shaking out her skirts.

“You’re welcome,” Ginny and Hermione said together.

Further along they had to fix some of the suits of armor and quite a few stone statues. They were getting closer to where the castle had already been repaired, they were almost done. Harry stalled when he saw Ginny walking near another tapestry. It was a country scene tapestry with no people in it, just a few farm animals. The rest of their group was heading down the hall. Harry wasn’t sure what came over him but he took Ginny’s hand and led her behind the heavy cloth where hw knew there was a small hiding cubby and pulled her into it. There was very little light but he could just make out her smile; it was mischievous and made her eyes sparkle with mirth. Then he kissed her with all enthusiasm, no holding back.

Her lips were warm and soft. They tasted faintly of the sweet lip balm she used. It felt so natural to kiss Ginny, to caress her neck to bring her closer, to press his other hand to the small of her back. It felt so good to feel her return the enthusiasm of the kiss, to feel her hand on his chest and around his neck. It felt like coming home. The kiss increased in heat and intensity. All harry could think about was Ginny and the feelings stirring inside himself.

“Oi!’ Ron shouted, tossing back the tapestry. Reality came crashing back.

“Honestly, Ron, when are you going to learn to butt out!” Ginny said angrily, sparks flying from her eyes.

“Ginny,” Harry put a restraining hand on Ginny’s wand arm. He wasn’t sure if Ginny would hex her brother.

“Oh, good, you found them,” Hermione said coming around the corner of the corridor. “When we realised you weren’t with us we got worried.” At this Ginny had the decency to look embarrassed. Harry couldn’t help but look a little sheepish himself.

“Sorry, guys, I guess we weren’t really thinking,” Harry apologized. “You didn’t send out a search party or anything, did you?”

“Naw, I didn’t want to jump the gun and worry the others if you were just straggling behind,’ Ron said turning a slight shade of red.

“We sent the others ahead and said we’d catch up. They’re probably in the Great hall by now,” Hermione said looking at Ron with a puzzled expression. “Actually I was going to raise the alarm but Ron suggested we shouldn’t. How did you know?”

“Well, they were only what I was thinking about doing with you, Hermione. They only beat me to it.’ The corner of Ron’s mouth lifted into a sheepish smirk. Now it was Hermione’s turn to blush. Harry couldn’t help it, he started laughing, so did Ginny. “Shut up, Harry,” Ron said but he was laughing too along with Hermione who wrapped her arm around Ron’s waist. The laughter released the tension. Ginny took Harry’s hand in hers and as a group they headed toward the Great Hall.

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