The Sugar Quill
Author: St. Margarets (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Since Feeling Is First  Chapter: Part One
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Since Feeling is First

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry

– the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

e.e. cummings

Part One

Ginny had just placed her hand on the kitchen door when she heard the sound of an Apparition 'pop' coming from within and then her father's sheepish voice.

"Sorry I missed lunch, Molly –"

"I can't say I'm surprised." The sarcasm in Mum's voice carried clearly through the open windows. "It is, after all, Saturday. Why on earth would you be home?"

"Molly." Now Dad sounded annoyed.

"You said 'just a couple of hours.'" Mum's voice was shaking with anger. "But it's never a couple of hours, is it?"

"Molly!" Dad rebuked. "There's a lot to be done. The Death Eaters did more damage to the records than –"

"You don't need to tell me what damage the Death Eaters have done," Mum said bitterly. Ginny heard the dull thump of a plate on the table. "Ginny and I already ate together – like a family."

"Molly – I –"

"What?" she demanded. "What, Arthur? We still have a family even though Fred is gone."

"I know that," Dad answered quietly – wearily.

The sunny August afternoon faded as Ginny stood on the doorstep and listened to her parents talk about Fred for the first time since the funeral.

"I think you're trying to forget you have a family," Mum said in a low, deadly voice. "I think all of these extra hours at the Ministry are your way of avoiding the truth that our boy is gone." She took an audible breath. "Furthermore, I think you're avoiding more than the pain about Fred – I think you're avoiding me."

Ginny froze at this accusation. The wire handle from the pail of freshly picked string beans was digging into her palm, but she barely noticed. It was horrible to hear her parents argue.

There was a long silence.

"Yes, I have been avoiding you," Dad finally admitted in a thick voice.

"Oh!"

Ginny didn't know if she had said it or if Mum had said it – but she felt the cut of those words as surely as her mother did.

"It's because I don't know what to do," Dad said with pain in his voice. "I feel so helpless now that the funeral is over. I can't make you feel better, because I –"

"I don't want you to make me feel better," Mum said, her voice rising. "Muriel told me the other day that I should count my blessings that I wasn't like Andromeda – having lost a child and a husband. I couldn't tell her…" She started to weep. "…that I felt like I had a lost a husband, too."

"Molly."

Ginny heard a chair scrape across the wooden floor.

"Molly." Ginny had never heard her father sound so desperate. "I wish I knew what to do."

Hearing her parents fall apart was worse than hearing her parents argue. Ginny's stomach clenched painfully.

"You don't have to do anything," Mum said through her tears. "I just want you to listen." She sniffed. "And I want to listen to you. I don't want to be alone in this."

"I don't want to be alone, either."

Oh, God. That rasping hurt sound couldn't be… Dad hadn't cried at the funeral. Ginny set the bucket of green beans on the doorstep and fled to the orchard.

*

Ginny closed her eyes and let the back of her head rest on the trunk of the apple tree. She used to hide here when she was a little girl. She would watch her brothers play tag and chicken and Quidditch and all the other broom games she wasn't allowed to play. Sometimes it made her angry that they wouldn't include her. Other times she was glad, since she didn't want to fall ten feet to the ground, like Ron, because Charlie was akin to brick wall in the air.

Most of the time, though, she wanted to play.

Tears pricked at her eyelids as the thought she had been trying to tamp down all day roared to life.

So unfair.

Stop it! she admonished herself. She was lucky compared to so many people. Harry was alive. She was alive – Mum had seen to that.

But Fred wasn't and her family would never be the same again, said the voice that threatened to plunge her mood back into blackness.

At least the argument between her parents felt real. There had been an unnatural calm in the house that consisted of careful conversations and off-putting politeness. Perhaps she was as guilty as Dad was for avoiding her own feelings, Ginny thought. She had tried as much as possible to ignore her mother's sad eyes and the clock that now only had eight hands.

She opened her eyes. The dappled sunlight was beautiful, she told herself fiercely, not wanting to acknowledge any more pain. The apples over her head were green and round and perfect. Soon they would be sweetly crisp and red and ready for harvesting.

Tears filled her eyes. Right now, though, they were sour, hard things.

Maybe if she had seen Harry on his birthday, or maybe if Ron had been home this summer to help carry the burden of her parents' grief, then maybe her heart wouldn't feel as small or as sour as those immature apples.

Immature.

She stood up in agitation and immediately caught her hair in a low branch. Snapping off the twig and swearing made her feel better.

Maybe she was immature, she thought as she finally freed her hair. What were her longings for the way things used to be in light of what had happened at Hogwarts?

Her brother had died. Colin had died. Remus and Tonks. So many…

She should be stoically moving forward, her mind on the great sacrifices everyone had made so she could walk in freedom in this orchard – instead of feeling unhappy and trapped and bored. She sighed at her own thoughts. She was immature.

The sad fact was that she had barely seen Harry since all of the funerals and this longing to see him was killing her.

There, she had said it to herself. This was yet another truth she was trying to ignore. Harry was just as involved in the Ministry rebuilding as Dad.

Although she didn't think Harry was avoiding her – why would he?

Her steps faltered. She had cried a lot at Fred's funeral – and at Remus and Tonks's funeral. Harry didn't like tears – maybe he felt like Dad did? He didn't know what to do, so he didn't do anything?

She couldn't fault Harry for that. He didn't have Ron or Hermione to advise him or tell him to slow down and relax, since Hermione was still with her parents in Australia and Ron was dividing his time between helping George with the shop and working with the contractors rebuilding Hogwarts.

After what Harry had gone through, she felt she could forgive him just about anything. She swallowed a lump in her throat. Harry had almost died – or had died for a time. At least she had thought he was dead when she saw his limp body in Hagrid's arms. She shook her head against that image and began to walk quickly through the orchard.

Harry had come back from King's Cross, and for a brief time it looked like everything was going to be fine between them.

She smiled as she remembered that long walk they had taken together around the lake the morning after the battle. Harry had talked and talked and talked – telling her about the Horcruxes and the Hallows and Dumbledore and Dobby and King's Cross. She had held his hand and listened. Every word was a balm – for now she knew what he had been up against that year they were apart – now she knew that he had thought of her every day – now she knew that he had thought of her before Voldemort raised his wand against him.

She had been his last thought.

She stopped as she caught sight of the chimneys of The Burrow. Had he thought of her since?

*

The next day it rained. Breakfast wasn't gloomy, however, even though Dad had left early for the Ministry. Mum explained that the senior officials were doing one last sweep of the Ministry building for Dark Magic while the regular workers were away for the weekend. "Then he's promised to spend more time at home," Mum said cheerfully, putting a plate of toast on the table. "He thought that he might take a day off next week – maybe we can all go to Brighton if the weather is good."

Ginny smiled. Mum and Dad seemed to have worked through something yesterday, and she was glad. Last night, they had resumed their old routine of Dad listening to The Magic of Muggles (Tonight's episode: staplers) on the wireless and Mum sitting next to him knitting.

"Harry's in the paper again," Mum said, glancing at the front page of The Prophet. "Dear boy – he's certainly showing Kingsley the support he needs."

Ginny looked over her shoulder and stared straight into Harry's serious eyes. He looked… trapped. He was the youngest person in the photograph that depicted the new Minister for Magic and his council of advisors. Poor Harry. Maybe she should contact Harry through the Floo, Ginny thought. Surely he wasn't that busy that he couldn't talk to her in the evening. But Mum believed that a witch should never Floo a wizard – that was chasing.

She sighed.

At the sound, Mum looked up at her. "You're looking a bit peaky this morning," she observed. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Just that time of month," Ginny lied automatically. At the beginning of the summer it had been disconcerting to have Mum pay such vague attention to her – but now that Mum was studying her with that familiar eagle eye, she realized that she didn't want to be fussed over, either.

"Do you want to go to Muriel's with me today?" Mum asked. "You don't have to if you're not feeling well. She wants me to help her make jam – the raspberries are in."

Ginny shuddered at the thought of ceaselessly stirring a cauldron of hot raspberries without magic whilst Aunt Muriel dredged up old family scandals and commented on Ginny's Muggle jeans and t-shirt. "I'll stay home," she answered.

Mum nodded and stood up. "I'll leave the dishes for you then."

*

Harry's footsteps echoed through the silent Hall of Desks where clerical workers toiled for the Ministry. On a Sunday morning there was no other sound or movement in this normally bustling place save the fluttering paper airplane memos, tethered in in-boxes.

Harry set the last Dark Detector on the stone floor and waved his wand. Blue and gold magic swirled upward from the floor, touching the contents of every desk: the quills and inkstands, the neat rolls of parchment, the family photographs, the jars of sweets and the other trinkets that reminded the workers of the life they had beyond these walls.

Life beyond these walls.

He was starting to wonder if he had a life beyond helping at the Ministry each day and going home to Kreacher each night.

Only one dark arrow formed after the magic penetrated the desks. Harry wasn't surprised. Items that contained Dark Magic were expensive and dangerous – not something clerical workers could afford to leave behind at work during the weekend. The item in question turned out to be a type of Copy-Cat Quill that was banned at Hogwarts. It would be handy to have if your job was copying numbers into ledgers, but it was not allowed since the magic could wear off and create errors. He Vanished it to the seized-evidence locker in the Aurors' office and decided not to report it. Based on the mug sitting on the desk, the owner of the quill was a "Number One Mum" to the waving toddler in the silver frame. She also liked Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and her desk diary had a sticker from Weight Watching Witches that said drinking eight glasses of water a day would magically help her lose weight.

He could almost picture this unknown witch. She was constantly in a hurry trying to juggle her Ministry duties and her family, probably eating too much take-away food and worrying about what her daughter was doing whilst she was at work.

He probably shouldn't be looking so closely at the other desks now that no Dark Magic had been revealed, but Harry couldn't seem to help himself. These people who worked in the Hall of Desks seemed to have such normal lives. The family portraits and the snaps of little witches and wizards on training brooms and the Quidditch memorabilia seemed so happy and full of real feeling compared to the stiff portraits of famous politicians in the luxurious offices flanking the Minister for Magic's rooms.

As he turned away and began to pick up the used Dark Detectors, Harry thought about what he would put on his desk if he had one. A photo of Ginny, for starters.

He glanced again at Number One Mum's desk. Ginny really wasn't his now, though. Hermione had told him before Fred's funeral that Ginny and Ron were going to need a lot of time with their family to get over Fred's death. Harry knew Hermione was right, and immediately felt guilty for monopolizing the one private conversation he had had with Ginny the day after the battle of Hogwarts. He hadn't thought about Ginny's feelings at all – just how glad he was to finally tell her everything.

Ginny was doing all right without him, he told himself firmly. She was one of the strongest people he knew. She was doing what she was supposed to be doing without complaint and so should he.

The large clock suspended from the high ceiling struck twelve times.

Noon already. He had thought he had all kinds of time, but this day was slipping away like so many others before it.

He ignored the ungrateful voice that wondered why he and Ginny had to be apart to do what they were supposed to be doing.

*

As soon as Mum left through the Floo, Ginny turned her back on the messy kitchen without a second thought. The novelty of listening to any program she wanted on the wireless was too strong of a temptation.

Every Sunday morning a week's worth of Days of Destiny was aired, so she decided to condition her hair and do her nails whilst catching up with her old friends, Roderick and Fiona. Once she had guessed that Fiona was not going to come out of her coma for a few more episodes, she flicked her wand to find something else to listen to. Her attention was caught by a news report. It seemed professional Quidditch was finally going to be played again after a one-year hiatus. The first match was to be between the Holyhead Harpies and Puddlemere United on the eleventh of August – her birthday. Ginny spent a moment daydreaming about actually going to Exmoor to see the match, and then quickly discarded the notion. Dad had just started earning a salary again, so there wasn't money for extras like that.

Then she wondered uncomfortably if anyone was going to remember her seventeenth birthday. Last year the day had gone by virtually unnoticed since it was the early days of the Death Eater's reign at the Ministry, and everything had been so uncertain.

She sighed. At least she knew where Harry was this year.

In order to staunch these gloomy thoughts, she switched the channels until she found the Top Ten Dance Countdown. By song number five she was on her feet, dancing with abandon. She caught Fred's eye in the portrait above the mantel and felt happy thinking about him for the first time in two months. Fred loved to dance – he used to swing her around the sitting room and then do silly cha-cha-cha steps when he let go of her hand.

Maybe Fred's King's Cross was a dance club, she thought as she twirled into the kitchen. Fred would flirt with all the girls and explain that he had been sent ahead of George since George was still too shy ask anyone to dance…

She laughed and started to fill the sink with hot water. Fred was okay wherever he was – she just wished there was some way she could tell Mum and Dad that and have it make sense.

She was scouring the last of the porridge from the pot, when Floo flames roared in the fireplace behind her. Mum must be home early from Muriel's, Ginny thought. It was a good thing she hadn't wasted the whole morning on Days of Destiny and had the kitchen tidied. Mum didn't have a lot of patience these days.

When she turned around she saw that it wasn't Mum climbing through the Floo, but Harry. She gaped at him with the dishtowel still clutched in her hand. He looked handsome and oddly formal standing there in his crisp black business dress robes. He must have come from the Ministry.

"Hi." He broke the awkward silence and then looked around the room. "Is your mum home?"

Ginny felt a thousand feelings at once. She wanted to hurl herself into his arms and feel his mouth claim hers. She wanted to hear his breath hitch as she placed tender kisses all over his face. She wanted to touch his soft hair… and pull it as hard as she could. "No, Mum is not home." Her voice trembled with sudden anger. "You'll have to come back later to see the person you really want to see."

His eyes widened. "Ginny, I came to see you."

"Oh? Fancy that. Where am I on the list? After the Rebuild the Statue committee but before the Hippogriff enthusiasts?"

He winced. "I haven't meant to ignore you."

She crossed her arms in front of herself. "How long did you mean not to ignore me?"

He met her eyes and then looked away. "I don't have an owl and it's always too late by the time I get back to Grimmauld Place to use the Floo."

She froze. He still didn't have an owl after Hedwig had been killed a year ago. She covered her mouth. "I forgot about Hedwig." Her eyes filled. "Sorry." Then she spun around and gripped the edge of the sink. "What must you think of me?" she whispered with her head bowed.

"Ginny." He stood behind her and put tentative hands on her upper arms, but she wouldn't turn around. "I think about you all the time – it's just that everyday at the Ministry one person wants this and then someone else wants that, and everything is urgent and I do want to help." He trailed off and dropped his hands. "Ginny, the thought of you – that's the only thing –"

"God, Harry!" She turned around. "Aren't you as tired of the 'thought of me' as much as I am of waiting for you?"

Her words echoed in the empty kitchen. He was standing so close to her that she couldn't see his expression without lifting her face. Although, after this silence, she wasn't sure she wanted to see his expression. Maybe he thought she was being immature, too. Not daring to look up, she stared at the knot of his tie.

"I –"

She looked up as he faltered.

"I thought you were okay," he said, looking miserable. "Your dad – I overheard him talking to Kingsley about how hard your mum was taking Fred's death, but that you were her best source of comfort."

She felt her face warm at this unexpected praise. "He did?"

"So I thought –" His eyes were bleak. "I thought that I should stay away so you could be with your family. I mean…"

"What?" she prompted, since she had no idea where he was going with this.

"My feelings weren't all that important compared to getting the Ministry back on track or…" He sighed and his shoulders drooped as he continued his litany of responsibilities. "…or attending memorial services or visiting Teddy or letting you grieve for Fred without worrying about me."

Here she had thought he was okay, too. But how could he be after all he had been through? They both had been ignoring so much.

She touched her nose to his chest. "If your feelings were first priority for you, what would you do?"

"I dunno," he said faintly. "Fly as fast as I could." He put his arms around her. "Laugh. Take off this tie."

She hugged him tightly and he clung to her. There was something in the way he was breathing that told her he was on the edge of control, so she said nothing and simply held him. When his grip started to loosen, she patted his shoulder. "Why don't you start with the tie?"

He gave a shuddering laugh and then pulled away to loosen the knot at his throat. "Yeah. Start simple."

They exchanged awkward glances. Harry appeared to be over his urge to cry, but his eyes were still dark with emotion.

"So it's too rainy to fly," she said brightly, "but I think I can make you laugh."

His eyes lit up. "Oh?"

"I was listening to Days of Destiny this morning and –"

He smiled. "Some things never change." He had teased her about her 'obsession' with the long-running soap when they were going out last year.

She giggled. "So true. Fiona is still in a coma."

"I thought she was in a coma last year? Is this the same coma?"

"It is – although to be fair, the show was off the air most of last year since several of the actors were Muggle-borns."

He winced at this reminder of Voldemort's reign. "So is she going to come out of the coma soon?"

"Oh, they'll milk it another couple of weeks," she answered. "Then they'll have to have something new to keep Roderick and Fiona apart."

"Amnesia?" he asked.

"They've both had amnesia in other episodes." She shrugged. "I'm guessing it will be a witch this time." Then a new thought struck. "Maybe it's that kind Healer who has been keeping Roderick apprised of Fiona's condition!"

Harry finally laughed. "Or maybe an anvil will fall on his head and lay him out."

"What?"

"Those things are always happening in Muggle cartoons – anvils fall or grand pianos or maybe a big boulder."

"Oh." She didn't get the joke. Maybe Dad would understand why Muggles were interested in falling anvils and grand pianos – still, it was good to see Harry laugh. "Do you want a cup of tea?"

He glanced at the clock. Then Ginny realized that Harry was hungry and it was two in the afternoon – not exactly teatime. "Er? Lunch?"

He brightened. "Kreacher cooked a big breakfast this morning, but that was a long time ago."

While he sat at the table, Ginny pulled the bread out of the breadbox and started to cut the loaf by hand.

"You still can't do magic?" he asked.

"In two days," she answered absently. Now she wondered if there was enough cheese to make a decent sandwich.

"Your birthday is in two days?"

"Yeah." Now she couldn't find the mustard. Mum had gone on a cleaning spree last week and everything was in a different place. "I don't know if anyone will remember or want to celebrate this year, given what's happened," she said irritably. Then she spied the mustard behind the jar of pickles. She quickly finished making the sandwich and brought it over to him.

"Thanks," he said as he looked at the lopsided ham and cheese sandwich.

"I know," Ginny said, sitting down with a huff. "It's a little uneven – but that knife is used to magic, so it fights you if you're doing it the Muggle way - "

"Ginny," he interrupted. "If you could put feelings first, what would you do?"

He was staring at her with an intensity she hadn't seen in him for a long time – like he was really seeing her – and not just an idea of her. "I – I don't know," she began breathlessly. "Like you, probably. You know – I want to fly – laugh." She giggled. "I don't have to worry about the tie, though."

His mouth softened into a loving smile as he reached out for her. She sat in his lap and kissed him back while he ran tender hands along her back. The rain pattered against the windows, and the clock ticked, and the ghoul dropped something heavy and metallic in the attic.

"Your hair smells different," he finally said.

"I put some conditioner on it," she explained in bemusement. "Fleur gave it to me since she said she didn't need it for her hair."

"And she thought your hair did?" He smiled.

"I suppose." She giggled and then shivered as she felt his fingers brush her bare arm. "Harry, you're not angry with me – for yelling at you? I think I probably said some hard things –"

"Yeah, well. They're all true." His smile was rueful. "No one's yelled at me for a while. I guess I missed it."

"Harry." Now she felt worse.

"I'm not angry." He leaned forward and very slowly moved to touch his lips to hers. It was a sweet, lingering kiss full of promise.

"No, I guess you're not angry," she murmured shakily when he pulled away.

Flames erupted in the fireplace. Mum was coming through the Floo. She jumped off his lap.

"Ginny, I promise we'll do something for you birthday," he said quickly, standing up as well.

"Harry!" Mum exclaimed as she struggled with two jam jars and her purse. "My goodness, we haven't seen you for ages." She handed Ginny the jam jars and proceeded to hug Harry. "I'm sure you're missing Ronnie these days. He's not here, but why don't you stay for dinner anyway? Ginny hasn't seen a lot of young people this summer –"

"I didn't come to see Ron," Harry interrupted. "I came to see Ginny."

Mum stepped back and looked from Harry to Ginny. "Oh."

"Um. I was wondering if I could take Ginny out on Tuesday. For a meal –"He glanced at Ginny as if to get her approval for this idea. "Or something."

"Oh! Well…"

Mum looked so flummoxed that Ginny took pity on her. "Mum, Harry and I did go out at the end of my fifth year."

"Yes," Mum said, peering at the two of them. "I suppose Ron did mention it."

"We haven't had a lot of time to see each other," Harry continued.

Mum's face softened. "No, I suppose you haven't – what with… everything. Yes, if Ginny wants to go, of course you can go out."

"I want to go!" Ginny blurted. She could feel her face flush with happiness.

Harry smiled at her enthusiasm and so did Mum.

"Muriel told me today we should get out more," Mum said thoughtfully. "Maybe Arthur and I should join you." At Harry's startled expression, Mum laughed. "Just joking, dear. Now, are you staying for dinner?"

Ginny beamed at Harry. They were going out, and best of all – it was the first time she had heard her mother laugh in two months.

*

Harry Apparated to the Ministry the next day feeling a sense of happy expectancy that he hadn't felt in over a year. He and Ginny were going to go out for her birthday. They had never been out anywhere together, really. He had never taken her to Hogsmeade; he had never bought her an ice cream in Diagon Alley; he had never bought her anything, come to think of it. He gulped. It was her birthday – he needed to buy her a gift.

He had no idea what to get her. He kept his head down as he passed people in the corridor leading toward the Minister's office. He always gave Hermione books and Ron something for Quidditch. Other than that, his gift-giving experience was sadly limited.

The chicken gargoyle, as Harry privately dubbed the eagle that watched over the Minister's office, told him that the Minister was busy, so he took a seat in a squishy chair in the impressive waiting room. Harry's thoughts weren't on his surroundings however; he was still working out what to buy Ginny.

Ron had given Hermione perfume one Christmas and she hadn't seemed too impressed with it. Ginny always smelled nice, so he didn't think she needed perfume. He smirked. Or conditioner.

The music playing in the plush waiting room stopped abruptly. It was nine o'clock, the Wizarding Wireless announcer said, time for the morning news. Harry listened with half an ear as he tried to think of what he could buy for Ginny. The announcement that tickets to the Harpies/Puddlemere match were going on sale this morning penetrated his thoughts. He could take Ginny to a Quidditch match! She had a poster of the Harpies on her wall of her bedroom. She would love to see them play. He would love to see a professional Quidditch match. He had only been to the World Cup.

"Tickets are expected to sell out within the first hour," the announcer said.

"The Minister will see you!" the gargoyle clucked.

Kingsley was alone in his office. "Harry, sit down," he said in his deep voice. "We have a finalized list of candidates. I'd like you to sit in on the interviews next week. It's important we have the right witch or wizard to train future Aurors."

"Yes, that's fine," Harry agreed quickly.

"Now, today," Kingsley continued, "there's a meeting with the Statue Committee at ten o'clock."

Where do I come in on the list – after the Statue Committee and before the Hippogriff Enthusiasts?

"Sir, I was wondering if I could leave this morning?"

Kingsley looked up from his papers in surprise. "Something wrong, Harry?"

"Wrong?" He could feel himself blushing. "No, I just wanted to buy tickets for the Harpies/Puddlemere match," he blurted. "They say they're going to sell out in no time."

"Quidditch tickets, you say?" Kingsley put down his papers with exacting slowness and reached for a quill. "I think I can help you out."

He scrawled something on a canary yellow sheet of paper and then waved his wand over it. The paper folded itself in to a bird and flapped out of the office.

"I sent that to Bagman. He should have a few tickets lying around."

"Oh." Harry gaped at him. It had never occurred to him that there were other ways to get tickets.

Kingsley went back to his papers and the meeting continued. Fifteen minutes later, the paper bird flew in with two shiny tickets in its beak.

Kingsley frowned. "He only sent two."

"I just need two," Harry said, his spirits soaring. Ginny was going to be so surprised.

Kingsley's eyebrows lifted.

"I'm taking my girlfriend." His stomach flipped at that unfamiliar phrase. "It's her birthday."

"It's Hermione Granger's birthday?" Kingsley asked. "I'll have to make a note for my Secretary to send her a card from the Ministry."

"No," Harry said quickly. "Hermione's not my girlfriend. It's Ginny – Ginny Weasley."

"Arthur's girl?" Kingsley's voice rumbled even lower.

Harry didn't know if that was approval or disapproval and he really didn't care. "Yes." He sat up straight.

"I didn't tell Bagman who the tickets were for," Kingsley said. "They're box seats, so you won't be with the crowd." He slid the tickets across the desk to Harry. "But I'm warning you. The minute the press sees you with a pretty girl, you're going to get a lot of attention."

Harry nodded and took the tickets. The idea of attracting attention for being with Ginny didn't bother him at all. It had taken him two months to get used to the idea that Ginny was his girlfriend again, and that they could actually spend time together without jeopardizing anything. It wouldn't hurt for everyone else to know that, too.

A/N: Thanks to TDU and Sherry for the betas! This is Part One of a three party story.

This story first appeared at Phoenix Song. Some reviewers were surprised that Harry and Ginny hadn't been in contact with each other. I did this in order to explore Harry's behavior after the battle of Hogwarts. JKR left quite a mess for these characters at the end of that chapter and this fic. is an attempt to portray the first steps to the happy epilogue nineteen years later.

//
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