The Sugar Quill
Author: Phoenix's Melody  Story: I Know You By Heart  Chapter: Chapter 2: Courting
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Chapter Two Courting

Author’s Notes: Okay, here’s where things get confusing.  Sirius fell through a veil at the end of the fifth book and is presumed dead by his godson and everyone else.  Sirius is not dead.  (No, I’m not a diehard Sirius fan, but seriously, I don’t want him dead.)  He ends up on Avalon, which lies between Life and Death.  In my slightly AU series, which will be up soon, Sirius spends the majority of the sixth book recovering on the Isle of Avalon.  Then in the seventh book, Sirius returns to Hogwarts to help Harry defeat Voldemort and everyone lives happily ever after.  I know I’m still confusing on some parts, especially with the Night Guards and etcetera, but if I were to try to explain in this paragraph, I would only succeed in confusing people more.

Disclaimer: I do not own either the Harry Potter series or “I Know You By Heart” in any way or form.  Thank you to Beth, my Sugar Quill editor, and my friends in their own special ways.  Constructive criticism is appreciated.  Thanks for reviewing!  Enjoy!

 

I Know You By Heart

Chapter Two: Courting

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

'Cause baby you run wild, wind in your hair
You love for the moment, live for the journey to who knows where
You say that all I fear, you can't control
It's just your nature, you can't find what you need in just one soul

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Early on New Year’s Day, one could see two figures trudging along in the half-darkness through the violet-colored snow.  Only by the sweet notes of a pair of songbirds, courting in the winter, broke the silence of the morning.

“Ginny, where are we going?” asked Harry, struggling to keep up with her in the deep snow.  When his foot stumbled into a rabbit hole, only Ginny’s hand prevented him from pitching headfirst into the icy powder.  She smiled in the gray light and said in a teasing voice, “It’s a surprise.”

“A surprise that required us to sneak out of the house at five in the morning to see after a night of celebrations?” Harry asked.  “Fred and George are going to have a field day teasing us about what we were doing when we get back.”

“Don’t worry,” Ginny replied, her breath making a cloud in the winter air.  “I have ‘dirt’, as Lavender would put it, on them.  They won’t get very far with the teasing.  Besides, Hermione was up with Lily when we left.”

“I still find it hard to believe that they named her after my Mum,” Harry said softly.  Ginny smiled slightly at him, “Lily’s a lovely name and besides, both of them agreed on it.”

The two of them climbed up a steep hillside, wading through the sparkling white snow.  From the hilltop, which overlooked a snow-filled valley, the two watched the sun peak over the horizon.

“Happy New Year’s Day, Harry,” Ginny said quietly.  Harry smiled and slipped his arm easily around her waist.  The two of them seemed to fit each other comfortably.  Harry found himself studying her glittering red hair and the way the growing sunlight danced around its curly surface.  Her face seemed perfectly content with the world.  She broke away from him gently, taking out a handful of bird seed from her robe pocket to scatter on the deep snows.

Harry returned his gaze to the rising sun, recalling the winter day when he had first gone to Avalon and seen his godfather, alive though not well.  It was the same day that Avalon had sent its guards, under the guise of refugees, students, and teachers, into Hogwarts.  So many of the guards were younger than Harry and his friends and yet as dangerous as or more deadly than most adult wizards and witches.  It had chilled him to see people, a few years older than him, have deadly accuracy with knives and guns.  Then to discover that Hogwarts had its own guardians, an elite group called the Night Guards, was a shock.  Even more shocking was that its senior captain was a Gryffindor boy in Ginny’s year, who also happened to be his godmother’s nephew.

The next year, the American students had come and the guise of being helpless and frightened people had been dropped as the guards began to patrol the corridors at night and practice for the final confrontation.  When it came, it was a bloody battle that was waged on many levels: Muggle-blood versus pureblood; trust and loyalty versus fear and terror; Muggle weapons and Avalonian magic against wands and Dark magic.  That night, many gave everything they had for the sake of the Light, Avalon, and peace.  One girl who nearly gave everything stood out vibrantly in Harry’s memory.  Her name was Lisa.  That evening when they knew Voldemort was coming, she had seen his troubled face as he watched her friends and comrades assemble and prepare in the Great Hall alongside his classmates.

“Mr. Potter, don’t let yourself get distracted by us,” she said, moving next to him.

“Please, Harry,” he said.  She gave him a half nod.

“Harry,” she said gently, standing next to him, her eyes drifting over her friends and family, “we know what we doing tonight.  What happens to us — if we live or die — it won’t be your fault.  None of this is your fault,” she repeated firmly, turning to look him in the eye.  “We are all here by choice.  We chose to be here because we are needed and because it is right.  Voldemort is like Hitler and I can not, no, will not stand by and let him kill innocent people for fun and power.”

Her voice softened and, for the first time, she sounded frightened.  “I’ll admit that my parents were broken-hearted when they found out that I was coming here, to Hogwarts.  That they didn’t want me to come, that I’m their only child.  I’ll admit that I was scared like hell when I came here, and that I’m scared right now.  I don’t want to die.  I don’t want to fight.  But I have no choice, not if I want him dead.”  Her brown eyes looked away from his, back to the crowd.

“All of us will die sooner or later,” she said softly.  “We don’t know if our number will be up tonight.  Some of us take comfort in a higher power, believing in God or The-Person-Upstairs; others just hold on to the knowledge that there is another place beyond this one.  The Source will guide our hand tonight.”

“Harry,” Lisa locked brown eyes with his green, “you have shouldered burdens, seen things that no one should ever see, lost your childhood from the start.  I might have more power than you, but I have been sheltered and carefully trained in a classroom.  You’ve had to learn the hard way, through experience and chance.  Cedric would have never blamed you for his death, you heard him, he wanted you to take his body back to his family and that you did.”

“Whatever happens tonight Harry, Voldemort will be defeated.  Pray that the Source will keep our losses low and that It will aid you in your fight.  You will not lose.  Avalon will not lose in the end.”  Lisa smiled knowingly at those words and she put a shy hand on his shoulder.

“Avalon aids you Harry Potter.  May the Source be kind to us.  She withdrew her hand and let it drop back to her side.  By then, Harry had learned the traditional Avalonian forms of greeting and farewell and knew how to reply.

“The Source protect us all tonight,” he replied.  Lisa nodded once and left to join her friends.

A few minutes later, she had left to lay traps in the corridors and defend the second floor of the school should the Death Eaters somehow breach the wards.  That was the last time Harry saw her that night.  The next time he received news about her was when he had seen the casualty list.  She had been critically injured while trying to stop Death Eaters from breaking into a classroom full of frightened first year students.

Ginny’s snowball caught Harry by surprise, abruptly bringing him out of his memories.  He smiled and scoped up a handful of snow and threw it at her.  She laughed as she dodged it easily.  Ginny’s red curls tumbled out of her bun.  Her giggles turned into a yelp of surprise when a shower of snow was dumped over her courtesy of a levitation charm.  She grinned wickedly and a full blown snowball fight began.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sun was fully in the sky before the two lovebirds headed back towards the Burrow, their stomachs rumbling with hunger and their cheeks pink from the cold.  Ginny was glad that Harry was able to make it to the holiday celebrations at the Burrow.  Chances were that her father had to pull a few strings at the Ministry to get the whole family on vacation, but, as Harry had confessed, it had been months since he had a real break from work.  It had been when Harry had admitted that he hadn’t seen a winter sunrise that Ginny conceived the idea of taking him out for a walk on New Year’s Day.  It would signify a new beginning for him and for her.

Ever since her niece’s birth, Harry seemed to show up more often at the Ministry during lunchtime and at the Burrow, inviting her to eat lunch with him or simply to talk.  Ron had told her that recently Harry seemed less stressed and more content with life than he had been in for a long time.

Ginny had seen Harry briefly relaxed during his sixth year when he was helping her with her O.W.L.s and they had begun what she now called ‘therapy sessions’.  He talked; she listened.  The two had become close friends; he was able to talk about his troubles honestly and she was willing to listen and help him put things in perspective.  It sometimes took a little scolding to make him see sense, but Ginny did it.  When Sirius returned from Avalon, she rejoiced with Harry.  In Harry’s seventh year, when the war was at its height, Ginny did all she could to support him: standing with him when he greeted the High Rulers of Avalon, sitting with him when Professor Dumbledore outlined a dangerous plan to defeat Voldemort, and fighting by his side on that fateful night.  And then when the war was over, she accompanied him to the numerous funerals of his fallen comrades.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I know you by heart, like the road back home
I know if we touched, I 'd have to have you alone
I know you by heart, like my own flesh and blood
What I feel for you, babe, goes deeper than love

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From the doorway of her bedroom, Harry watched Ginny read a Muggle textbook on psychology while sitting cross-legged on her bed.  It had only been about a month, yet in that short time span, the two had gone from just being close friends to something deeper.  They both knew it…and they were both afraid to voice it aloud.  He had really begun to see her as a person during his fifth year when D.A. began.  His grief over Sirius’ ‘death’ and her unwavering support for him during that trying time forged a bond of friendship that helped him through his sixth and seventh years.  When he had graduated, long letters and brief meetings at memorial services had to replace face-to-face midnight chats in the Gryffindor common room.  Harry’s hard training schedule had made him cut back on his spare time until he wrote once a month in a journal format and Ginny was forced to do likewise due to her homework load as she prepared for her N.E.W.T.s.

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