Chapter 12: Spoken Aloud
Ginny and Ron returned from the Changing Rooms as soon as they could. The Weasleys, Potters and other guests for the party including Dray, Torie, Blaise, Luna, Hannah, Susan, Hagrid, Severus, Professor Burbage, Remus and Professor McGonnagal were already waiting there, chatting – most have taken Alice and Neville´s change of heart very nicely. The two struck up a small conversation with the three snakes, trying to settle the things between them. However as Ginny looked around she instantly saw that a certain someone was missing.
"Where´s Harry?"she asked at once.
"He and Angus went down to their rooms. They said something about picking up some stuff to take with them."informed Susan.
"We´re still waiting for Albus too... he also said something about taking something from his office... can´t imagine what though."nodded James as he beckoned her to himself.
Ginny came to her future father-in-law and saw the serious look he shot her as he lowered his voice.
"Albus talked to us and your parents yesterday regarding the... situation that arose. I expect we all will have a private chat sometime during the party, but I want you to know Ginny... me and Lily are standing firmly behind you two... we´ll solve this problem for sure."
Ginny couldn´t help but feel warm at his support – though she was fairly sure that Lily and James would be nothing but wonderfull about all this, it felt SO much better hearing it said aloud.
"Thanks... Lion Daddy."she grinned at him, and he returned it with one of his own as he winked at her.
"Ginny..."said Neville quietly as he approached closer, looking ashamed of himself.
"I... I wanted to apologize... I acted like an idiot that night..."he said, looking guiltily.
James gave them a curious look, but Ginny shook her head.
"Forget it, Nev. Let´s just drop it... though I think its not ME you should be apologizing for."
Neville bit his lip.
"I know... and I intend to..."he murmured as James and Ginny shared a small smile.
Over his shoulder Ginny could see Hannah and Susan hugging eachother – looks like she apologized too. It would seem, that this party would turn out quite well dispite her innitial fears. There was only one issue that worried her right now, dispite the evidence she saw down on the Pitch. She looked for a few seconds at her parents who were conversing happily with Lily – for some reason her Dad seeemed to be overjoyed about something. As she raised a curious eyebrow she heared a giggle behind her.
"Your Dad is excited, because of two old Muggles who will be attending the party as well."said Alice, who approached her.
"Our grandparents."she added as Ginny looked at her curiously.
"Well we couldn´t leave them out of this, now could we?"said James smilingly.
Ginny smiled. She remembered Harry and the other snakies mentioning their stays at their place over the summers – each and every one of them spoke of the Evans grandparents with the greatest of affections. She came out of her thoughts as Alice placed a hand on her shoulder, James politely moving away to give the two girls a chance to converse in private.
"I have to thank you Ginny... along with the others. Ron and Fred really got me thinking. And seeing you with my brother... I´ve seen that I´ve been wrong."she said quietly.
Ginny took a small breath. Dispite the fact, that she saw (with tears of happiness for her Harry she might add) Alice apologize and make peace with her brother, there were still a few things she wanted to tell her.
"Yes you were, Alice. What I couldn´t understand, eversince I´ve known Harry properly is, HOW in the world could you turn your back on your own brother so easily?! I have SIX brothers and I would never do that! Even PERCY, who can be a horrible git sometimes... even when he sided with the Ministry – making a complete idiot of himself I might add, I still would´ve gone to help him if he were in trouble. And you, Alice... you right and proper turned your back on him, its thanks to YOU that the Dark Lord rumors started... I know he didn´t confide in you when he sided with the Juniors on his mission – hell he didn´t confide in you at ALL, but can you blame him? None of it between you two would happen if you just gave him a chance and trusted him."
Alice bit her lip.
"Ginny... I KNOW... its just... with Neville´s history..."
Ginny glared her, folding her arms.
"It seems to me, that you were focusing much more on the brother you WANTED to have instead the one you DO have."
Alice flinched – the statement (again) ran thick with truth.
"Look Gin... what you have to understand... since we were little, he was extremly curious of many things. I was scared, all right? He seemed to delve deeply into anything that crossed his path. Including many aspects of magic when he started Hogwarts... I was afraid, that he would get into the Dark Arts too deeply... the Parseltongue didn´t help... you know he´s proud of being able to use it..."
"I DO know."confirmed Ginny, looking defiant.
"Just because Neville shies away from his Parseltongue ability doesn´t mean Harry should do so as well. I think it really speaks of his bravery – taking responsibility and sticking up for his power, even if EVERYONE around claimed that he was a Dark Wizard in the making because of it. And since seeing him with Naja, I seriously can´t see what´s wrong about speaking with snakes.
Alice looked with open mouth.
"You know her?"
"Yes I do. And since knowing her I understood a few things. You probably see her as a Dark Lord´s sidekick, but nothing could be further from the truth. She dearly loves Harry and she looks out for him."
As she said it, Ginny felt something slowly wrap around her leg and waist. She moved her hand to her side discreetly and felt Naja´s scales under her fingers as she strocked the invisible cobra.
"Plus she is much more honest, straight-forward and open than many people EVER have the courage to be."she said, focusing her emotions internally for Naja to read.
By the feel of it, Naja understood very well. Ginny could tell by the affectionate squeeze, that Naja had completly accepted her now.
"Harry will DEFINITELY be pleased to hear this."she thought and judging by another squeeze from Naja, the cobra whole-heartedly agreed.
Alice once more bit her lip.
"I know Mum, Dad, Sirius, Remus and my grandparents are affectionate of her and Harry´s other snakes too... but I couldn´t help sometimes, but see a similarity with You-Know-Who and Nagini."
She chaught Ginny´s look of utter outrage of DARING to suggest such a thing and quickly continued on.
"But there was one serious matter that really got mine AND Neville´s fears up in my sixth year. You see... (she lowered her voice so much, Ginny had to lean in to hear) Neville´s parents were betrayed and sold to You-Know-Who by someone VERY close to them. Neville´s cousin, who during the Triwizard Tournament placed his name into the Goblet of Fire."
Ginny gasped. She racked her brains troughout her third year and their Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Moody who was in fact...
"Bartemius Crouch Junior?!"she whispered in shock – never knowing Neville was related to the Crouches.
Alice nodded somberly.
"My namesake – Neville´s Mum... Ginny, HE was their secret-keeper and he sold them to You-Know-Who. Me and Neville heared from Mum and Dad, that he was an incredibly charming boy before it happened and no one believed anything wrong of him. And he turned out to be You-Know-Who´s strongest supporter. He not only sold Neville´s parents, but also killed his father and worked hard to deliver Neville to him. And when the cup took Neville away... when he returned with Cedric Diggory´s body... Ginny, he tried to kill him. He WOULD have had Dad, Severus and Professor Dumbledore not have followed. But you should remember him well... from the Department of Mysteries..."
Ginny felt a shiver run down her spine. She remembered the fight at the Ministry. Barty Crouch was LEADING the Death Eaters during that night. HE was the one, who along with Bellatrix Lestrange fought the Masked Wizard before Lord Voldemort himself apparated shortly... before Albus´ arrival and the incredible duel they wittnessed a few seconds later in the Atrium.
Ginny gulped, understanding a bit of Alice´s fears – a close relative turned out to be the worst of scum...
"Poor Winky took it especially hard too. I believe Neville as her new master was able to undo some of the damage... but, Ginny... I was so afraid... seeing him hang around Parkinson, Greengrass, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott and other Juniors... I lost my head... he´s very powerfull and talented... maybe too much, so I figured I would lose him to the Dark Arts one way or the other..."
Ginny now understood the utter nightmare the Potters went trough (Lily and James must´ve understood the problem more than enough themselfs), but she shook her head defiantly.
"Alice! This is HARRY we´re talking about... not some Death Eater scum! I still say, that none of this between you would happen if you JUST listened..."
Alice nodded her head in shame.
"I know, Ginny... I know this doesn´t excuse any of what I´ve done... I just..."
"I understand, Alice. Much more than ever before..."said Ginny earnestly, gaining a small smile from Alice.
"...I bet Harry understood your fears as well... putting up with all of that and still forgiving you... you should be gratefull to have such an amazing brother."whispered Ginny, seeing the magnitude of the problem and being incredibly proud of having such a golden-hearted fianceé.
Alice fixed her sights on the pair coming from the dungeons, bags in their hands and chuckling happily.
"Belive me, Ginny. I AM..."she whispered as Harry and Angus made their way towards them.
Ginny couldn´t help but giggle at the boyish excitement written all over their faces.
"And what has you two so happy?"she inquired with a grin.
"The surprise for the party of course."answered Angus fully aware of all the attention on them.
Ginny crossed her arms in mock-annoyance as she looked at her grinning green-eyed mystery.
"Are we going to find out WHAT it is?"
Harry gave her a smug look as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and give her a gentle kiss on her forehead as he felt Naja wrap around him too, yet still not letting go of Ginny.
"All in good time, my sweet fireball... all in good time."he whispered and Ginny could tell, that he was as happy as he could possibly be.
The arrival of Albus, who was also sporting a small bag in his hand announced the time to leave for the party.
The Potter Family Cottage was NOT what someone would expect for such a rich and powerfull family. Unlike the giant Malfoy Manor it was quite ordinary, yet still having more than enough room for comfort. The moment the party came to the Cottage they were welcomed by Fidus, Apricie and the elder Evans couple, who were already waiting for them there, having arrived thirty minutes prior. Robert and Annie Evans instantly exchanged happy hugs with their grandchildren – Ginny felt her heart purr as she saw the little-boy in Harry once again as he launched himself affectionately at his dear grandmum, squeezing her with all his might, then Lily and James, Remus, Sirius and Severus exchanged hugs as well and of course the remaining four snakies, whom the Evanses greeted as if they were their own grandchildren. Hermione looked stunned as she saw Neville and Harry exchange a warm hug with Apricie, the elf returning their hugs ever-so lovingly. The polite intrudictuons were taken into the giant living room, where Fidus, Apricie and grandmum Annie (insisting on it) prepared the refreshments. The magicly enlarged living room had more than enough room for all of them and before anyone knew, all were seated comfortably on the chairs and sofas, chatting happily – respective couples sitting close to eachother. The Weasleys all gasped, when Naja sitting with Harry and Ginny decided to make her presence known and Harry proudly introduced his most beloved pet to them. Though knowing about Harry having a legendary cobra for a pet, the Weasleys couldn´t help but be awed at her.
"Oh... if snakes could blush."though Ginny with amusement as Naja found herself the centre of bright curiosity.
She soon slithered towards Lily and her parents, wrapping herself around grandmum Annie, who strocked her scales fondly, granddad Robert´s face alight with happiness as though no one in their wildest dreams could HOPE to have a gold and onyx cobra for company.
"Never thought I´d see her to be shy."said Ginny, wiggling her eyebrows at her dearest snake.
"Spotlight never suited her, that´s for sure."
A loud bang resonated from the hallway and all of them turned to see Fred and George coming in with Alice who was roaring in laughter – the two twins dressed in giant teddy-bear costumes. The room instantly roared in laughter.
"The little bear riddle... nice pick."chortled Harry.
"What happened?"breathed Molly when she stopped laughing and looked at Harry.
"They got the password to my room all wrong. But I´m guessing you two weren´t really trying to get into my room."he said, grinning at the twins.
"I wanted to show George your enchanted door."explained Fred happily, looking at Harry with respect.
"Bloddy brilliant, Harry ol´ boy. Outstanding magic – wish WE thought of it. Were EVER did you learn it?"asked George with bright interest as he removed the teddy-bear head from his.
This seemed to draw the entire room´s (minus the rest of the Slytherin Squad) attention to him.
"Just a few tips from one of our advisors. She is all for creativity, you know... I think she´ll be very pleased to hear the results. It randomly gives out one of 1234 of my most favourite riddles and puzzles from my childhood. And if you get it wrong, you pay the penalty."
The Weasleys (minus Fleur, who shot him a fond smile) were amazed at this boy´s talent – the door being more than a clue to his magical power.
Soon enough, Charlie tried his luck too and came up drenched as the door produced a fireman-hose and splashed him head to toe in ice-cold water. Then Sirius tried and got the Seven deadly sins´ Greed riddle wrong and ended up being stripped of his clothes as he dashed out of sight – much to Amelia´s great hilarity, as she remembered the Ministry break-in. Then Neville tired, getting his face full of whipped-cream, then grandad Robert ending up in ballerina-clothes (grandmum Annie actually fell to the floor laughing just as hard as Lily had), then James ended up in a lion costume (thistime Ginny fell to the floor along with Harry as James prominated himself a bit for their benefit), then Severus getting a pie-in the face (Charity giggled to no end), Arthur ended up in a muggle working-man´s clothing (to his great pleasure), Bill ended up in a muggle Metal-band´s attire (Fleur was VERY appretiative of this), Nympharoda ended up in a "little red riding hood" costume (to great hilarity of her husband as she winked suggestively at her Big Bad Wolf), Draco ended up in a jester´s costume (Torie rolled on the ground like mad in laughter), Angus ended up in nothing but red briefs, posing and flexing his muscles like a body-builder in the muggle magazines (Susan couldn´t help but blush in spite of her laughter – her muscular fianceé had an INCREDIBLE body, she thought) and finally Albus, who ended up in a little-boy´s school uniform, complete with a schoolbag, a kid´s hat with a small propeller and a giant lollipop – the room practicly EXPLODED in laughter. Ginny swore she NEVER saw something so funny.
"Well... I´ve always wanted to return all the way back to my childhood."he said good-naturedly as he sat down comfortably next to Harry, who was wiping tears from his eyes. Professor McGonnagal was clutching her stomach, chaught in a fit of hysterical laughter – her old friend looked utterly ridiculous and yet he still seemed most comfortable in the costume. Winking at them all, Albus even took a few licks off the lolipop and the room roared in laughter again – Alice, Fred, George, James and Sirius had real trouble catching their breaths.
"Only too happy to oblidge, Al. But I think, that the door was trying to say: go back to school and study-up."
Chuckling along with the others, he reached for the bag he brought and he gave it to Harry – Angus scrambled to their side as well.
"Here you are boys. But I am a bit astounded you wanted these. They are – as you know, Harry – brocken beyond repair. Believe me, I have tired... but it seems to be impossible to..."
Harry however held the bag and Ginny could see a determined fire in his eyes.
"Al, you above all should know that "It is impossible" is a phrase, which me and Angus take as a personal challenge."
Albus gave him a look of utter respect.
"In that case my boy, you are most welcome to try your luck."
Nodding, Harry got to his feet.
"Well... everyone that wanted to see my room, come along."he announced and most of the room got to their feet.
He offered his hand to Ginny. Taking it, she allowed him to lead her to the enchanted door, others hot on their heels. As they approached the black (was it onyx black?) door, the door produced a piano keyboard and a large sighn appeared on it as the door melodicly sang what was written on it.
Delve into the mystery
A song that is so plain to see
Everyone can surely play
A song to move the door away
"My favourite."murmured Harry smilingly.
Ginny looked at him in question. She knew very well by now, that her Harry simply adored music and songs along with his friends, but was lost on this one... Most of the others seemed to be hopelessly lost as well, though Albus, Lily, Severus and Professor McGonnagal were smiling – they knew the answer.
"Of course..."whispered Hermione behind her, her eyes fixed on the sighn.
"A song that is so plain to see... everyone can surely play... D, A, E, A... that´s the keyboard combination..."whispered Hermione looking very impressed.
Harry grinned as he struck the D key.
"Right you are, Mione. Now... ONE..."he struck the A key.
"...TWO..."he struck E.
"...THREE – OPEN SEASAME!"he exclaimed happily stricking the A key again.
At once, the black door started to slide open.
"Cool."breathed Ron impressed as well, wapping his arm around Mione´s shoulders.
"You´re the best, you know. Smartest witch in the world."he whispered to her as he placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.
Cheeks burning red, Hermione giggled in spite of herself, leaning into her precious lion.
"Come off it, Ron. It was just a silly little puzzle..."
Ginny´s gasp turned their attention forward and they gasped as well along with everyone else. The room was magicly enlarged and as big as the Headmaster´s office at Hogwarts. The room was decorated richly in green, gold an black and even sported a large Slytherin banner on the wall. On each sides were shelfs holding various objects including (Mione gasped longingly) an entire collection of books from top to bottom – it looked like a miniature library. It also held (thistime Arthur gasped longingly) many muggle appliances including a television, VCR and even a game-consoule, that Harry and Angus modified, many models of muggle cars and airplanes and one shelf was devoted to Harry´s old toy puzzles, figures and games. The small crowd could easily fit inside the small ante-chamber and there was still more than enough room. All of them were looking around, even Blaise and Draco looked mightily impressed.
"Well guys... welcome to Harry´s little ol´ room."announced Angus happily.
Alice looked stunned – the room was so beautifull.
"You two did this, Angus?"she asked, looking at the muggle-born Slytherin.
Angus shook his head.
"By the time I arrived during summer, Harry had it all done. Didn´t even wait for me."he said, crossing his muscular arms and giving Harry a small frown.
"My room, sorry."said Harry, shrugging as he grinned at him.
The empty portrait that hung on the very centre of the wall facing them gave a small chuckle of laughter. Angus instantly shot a small glare at it.
Before anyone could ask a small red and yellow form bounced up and down and wrapped around Harry´s shoulders. Most of the party gasped as they realized that it was a snake, which hissed like mad.
"Harry... I´ve misssssed you... you´ve been away for too long and itsssss been getting a bit dull around here... not much to do... unless you cound chasssssing mice... with Naja gone..."
Harry grinned and strocked the tiny snake´s head.
"I know, Hazumi. I missed you too... but I trust that Professor has been keeping you company."he hissed in Parseltongue, which seemed to draw frightened gasps from many around – Angelina and Audrey pressed theirselfs closer to their significant others in fear while Tammy, Molly, Amelia and Professor McGonnagal looked uneasy.
"He´sssss no fun..."hissed the tiny snake sulkily and he fixed his yellow eyes on Ginny curiously.
"This is my... mate, Hazumi."hissed Harry, with a deep-red blush.
The little snake turned his head sharply at Harry and suddenly jumped down, bouncing off the ground, encircling Ginny, running up and down around her, before bouncing back to the ground, up and down in obvious joy.
"This is Hazumi, everyone."
Hagrid gave a awestruck gasp, eyeing the tiny bouncing snake.
"Tha´s an Asian Rubber Bouncehop Viper, tha´ is."
Angus gave a happy nod.
"Right you are, Hagrid. Our holiday in Japan before our fifth year with my brother. Lovely country."
As everyone shared glances, a loud rattle was heared from one of the shelves. Audrey gave a tiny squeal as she leaned into Percy. On one of the shelves in a sand-filled aquarium was a North American Rattlesnake.
"That´s Dusty."said Harry, grinning and pointing his thumb at him.
"YO, Harry..."hissed the rattlesnake, shaking his tail in responce to his wave and giving out the sound for the entire room to hear.
"Don´t forget me..."hissed an eager pure white snake, eyeing Harry from another shelf with his yellow eyes.
"Course not, Feher."grinned Harry as the snake slithered down from the shelf and Harry got down to stroke him.
"This is Feher. He´s a..."
Hermione gasped and shook her head.
"A Hungarian Whitesnake. I´ve read they´re very hard to find."she whispered in awe.
"They ARE, Hermione. Unless you know where to look. Our Hungarian friend, Csaba has a tiny snake-farm, specializing in rare and exotic snakes. Gets venom from them, you know... he gave Harry a parting gift on our first departure."
Even Luna looked awed by this piece of information.
Naja suddenly made her way towards the shelf above Harry´s table, where a very long snake was curled up and it opened its mouth in an unmistakable yawn.
"H...Hi... Harry, amigo..."he hissed and instantly he lowered his head back and closed his eyes.
Naja raised her head and spread herself in anger, hissing furiously at the dozing snake. Harry snickered in spite of himself, just as the portrait let out loud snicker as well.
"Is that the boa-constridor you accidently let loose from the zoo before your eleventh birthday?"asked Severus curiously, hearing about the incident.
"The very same, Sev. He found me later on, being unable to go to Brasil as he wanted. His name is Salazar."
Many in the room (Bill and Arthur in the lead)gave small chuckles to the obvious name-reference. Ginny however eyed Naja, who was still hissing furiously at him, Salazar feigning sleep.
"What is she saying to him?"she asked in bright curiosity and Harry gave a chuckle.
"She´s scolding him for being a... ah, lazy bum - lying all around when we obviously have visitors."
Ginny couldn´t help but giggle. Torie, Hermione and Susan giggled too, while the rest of the room, minus Lily and James looked stunned.
"She often keeps these boys in line, right Harry?"asked Luna dreamily, eying Naja and Salazar too.
Harry nodded smilingly.
"She does her best. Though Salazar often sleeps trough her scolds."
"How typical."exclaimed Torie who moved closer to Lily in a mock-dramatic voice.
"Boys always need us to keep them in line, right Mrs Potter?"
Lily grinned at her appretiatively, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"Right you are, Torie. Though, like poor little Naja there I fear, we´re fighting a long-lost battle."
"HEY!"exclaimed Harry, James and Draco as the room laughed, Hazumi hopping up and down again happily – the tiny snake seemed to be a happy little thing.
"Well... you´ll be quite like Naja for Harry, won´t you Ginny?"said Alice, wiggling her eyebrows at the pair of them, her brother giving her a mild-glare.
"Belive me, Alice..."said Ginny as she hugged Harry to herself, tiny Hazumi eying them as he hopped around in manic joy.
"... I already AM. In more ways than one."she said, giving Harry an affectionate kiss on the cheek, making him blush, to general happiness.
"Hang on, Harry... what you said to Hazumi... Professor keeping them company and all... who is the Professor?"asked Neville, looking curiously at his brother.
Harry gave a small grin and gestured with his head to the empty portrait. Ginny saw Torie, Dray, Blaise and Angus shooting smug smiles at eachother, but none else in the room seemed to understand. Suddenly she saw Albus´ and Severus´ eyes go wide and she was them shoot an unbelieving look at eachother before turning their faces on Harry, who put on a pleading look – undoubtably there was some silent conversation between the three Legilimens.
"You will know soon enough, everyone. I promise you... its more than worth the wait."
Molly was standing alone in the small garden in the back of Potter Cottage, trying with all her might to sort out her feelings. Inside the party was going on in full-swing with Neville announcing that he had asked Hannah to marry him shortly after the Quiddich Match.
Her precious daughter´s voice brought her out of her deep thought. Incidently she thought of HER and her future happiness – the thoughts were very troubled indeed.
"Your father noticed I´d gone out?"she asked with a gentle smile, she had left Arthur conversing happily with Robert Evans – the two appeared to be very interested in one another.
Ginny shook her head with a smile.
"No, he has gone into Harry´s room. Actually... it was Naja, who pointed me here."she said with affection, she had asked Naja where her Mum was and she pointed her head to the garden at once – she seemed to be determined to help, sencing her emotions once again.
"Ah yes... Naja... Ginny... you... how do you feel about it?"
Ginny geniully thought for a moment to answer her Mum´s question – it seemed stupid, but she knew her Mum wouldn´t laugh.
"To be quite honest, at first I was jealous... it seems almost stupid to admit, but its true. But seeing how much she and Harry love eachother I couldn´t possibly make him get rid of her. Harry suggested on me letting her hang around us and Naja opened up. She saw, that I love Harry. And to be honest, I like her now."
Molly looked to the ground a bit thoughtfully.
"Well, having an fiercely protective Royal Queen Cobra for a friend has its advantages you see..."said Ginny with good-humor, hoping to lighten the mood.
When her Mum didn´t respond, Ginny sighed. She knew this would come and she took another breath to say, what she wanted to say to her.
"I LOVE him, Mum. I´ve never been surer of anything in my life. Over the time we got to know eachother, he´s been nothing but wonderfull to me and I am SURE it was no act..."
"I never DARED to suggest such a thing..."breathed Molly, shocked that Ginny might think so.
"I know, Mum."said Ginny quickly.
Molly bit her lip.
"I saw today, that he IS a wonderfull boy, very loving – I´ve seen that with his family and his pets... I think I can see your point about Parseltongue, it really seems to give him a tighter relationship with his pets... that little Hazumi seems very adorable."
Molly remembered Harry explaining that each and every one of his pets have a different character and habits, something which she would think impossible but seeing as Harry can talk to them... anyway she saw the Royal Queen Cobra wrapping affectionately around her daughter and her fianceé and she´d seen the tiny Bounce jumping up and down around Ginny – the overjoyed gestures too plain to miss.
"... but ARE you sure...?"she said, giving voice to her fears.
Ginny looked at her gently and grasped her hand.
"Mum... I am ABSOLUTELY sure."she affirmed strongly, yet gently.
Molly bit her lip again – her baby girl had grown... into a strong woman – the affirmation held that force. She had seen past the dark rumors, past things Harry´s own sister refused to see, past the prejudgices that held strongly even after centuries... but still Molly knew, she NEEDED to hear those words, she needed to know for sure – sometimes the words NEEDED to be spoken aloud.
"You know... when I... me and your father... there were many people who were against us from the very start. I had come from a notible pure-blood family and your Dad... well his parents were among the nicest people in the world, but they were also extremly poor and considered utter blood traitors as you know. It were an age, when young girls were expected to marry the best and your father, bless him... he was considered the bottom of the barrel. I remember that during his Hogwarts years he faced predjugice too... and yet I fell hopelessly in love with him during our fifth-year. It took him a good year to pluck-up the old Gryffindor courage, but in the end he kissed me in a corridor before the Fat Lady. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, Ginny..."she said, her eyes leaking small tears at the very memory.
"I felt like that too, Mum. When Harry told me, he loves me and kissed me in the GREAT HALL... in front of everyone - didn´t give a damn who saw it... I thought I would die of pure joy."
Molly couldn´t help but giggle at her daughter´s passionate explanation.
"I still remember when you were born... I was so happy, having YOU... I swore to myself as I held you for the first time, that I would never... never once act the way my own mother did when you bring your chosen one home..."
Ginny bit her lip – she knew her Mum´s parents DISOWNED her – giving her a choice to either marry the boy they wanted her to marry, or... or her Dad. Her Mum chose love and her parents REFUSED to speak to her until the day they died. Instantly she embraced her Mum, Molly returning the hug with tears in her eyes.
"Mum... I know you´re only looking out for my happiness. And I can never thank you enough for it.(She felt her Mum squeeze her tightly) But Mum... my chosen one is here. And though because of the circumstances we will be forced to marry sooner than anyone expected it means little-to-nothing to me. So long as I can be with him... just like YOU could be with DAD."
Molly gave the tiniest sob of pure relief.
"My strong little girl..."she whispered as she held her only daughter close, Ginny returning the hug just as tightly.
As she was hugging her Mum, she saw with a bright smile, that Naja was slithering a bit behind them.
"Oh, if snakes could smile..."she thought affectionately as she gave Naja a wink, completly sure, that if snakes could smile, Naja would be positively beaming at her.
Arthur walked trough the open enchanted door – the boy deliberately left it open – smiling. Sure enough he found Harry sitting behind his work-table, wand in his hand and hard at work.
He noticed Harry excusing himself from the party after his parents discreetly gave him something – Lily sporting small tears and James an overly-proud look. Arthur didn´t have to possess Albus Dumbledore´s genius mind to know WHAT it was. Looking over the boy´s shoulder he saw, that on the table lay a single golden ring.
"Adding your special touch, Harry?"
Harry gave a slight jump as he turned around.
"M... Mr Weasley..."
"Arthur m´boy. I´ve said so before."
Harry gave a small shy nod. Arthur looked smilingly at the ring.
"For Ginny, I expect?"he said pointing to it.
Harry gave a red-cheeked nod.
"It... it was my grandfather´s... My Dad said, that it has been passed down trough generations. Mum wore it until this very day..."he said, looking at the ring.
"I remember your grandfather well. I was a small boy then, but he was one of the nicest people you could meet."said Arthur drawing up a chair and sitting down next to Harry.
"Thanks... wish I could´ve met him..."murmured Harry smilingly – he had grown up hearing the stories of his granddad – Charlus Potter, an outstanding wizard.
Arthur fixed him with a kind smile.
"I´m sure he would be very proud of you, Harry... I have heared all you´ve done during the second war from Albus."
Harry blushed deeply.
"I think Al overestimates me... I´ve made more than a few mistakes over the years."
"Which proves you´re still human. The fact that you can admit to them speaks more of you, my dear boy. Much more than mere words... or gold could ever say."he said eyeing the ring.
Harry bit his lip.
"I know people, Harry. During my years, I´ve come to know the rich AND the poor, the kind and the... well, not-so kind. I pride myself on my ability to know people. And judging from what I have SEEN, not HEARED, you are indeed a good person."
Harry looked at him almost in shock – this was no Legilimency, he felt as though this man was looking into his heart, not his mind...
"Plus, I´ve seen your magical skill. But most importaint, I´ve seen the love in your heart, Harry Potter. I´ve seen it with your parents – I can see you love them very much, I´ve seen it with your muggle grandparents – whereas many skilled wizards would shun at any contact with muggles, I´ve seen it when you forgave your sister for the way she treated you – YES, I´ve taken the trouble in finding out all about it, I´ve seen it with your family house-elfs – which most wizards nowadays treat as little more than servants and yet YOU treat them as your dearest caretakers, I´ve seen it with your pets – no matter what anyone thought of them, AND what really and truely counts in my eyes – I´ve seen it with my little Ginny. I am completly confident, that your heart holds all the love she will ever need or want."
Harry´s jaw fell. THIS talk – the talk with Ginny´s Dad was what he secretly dreaded the most. And this man... he... he didn´t even HAVE to say anything he prepared to say. This man understood completly. As he opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, unsure how to express his neverending thanks for being so understanding, he felt Arthur grab his shoulders. Though this man was no Legilimens (he felt no force prob his now-vulerable mind), he was looking into his eyes with an unmistakable air of knowing what he thought. The magic of heart, Albus was talking about – THAT seemed to be the only explanation in Harry´s mind as Arthur smiled gently.
"You don´t have to say anything, Harry. I know... I KNOW... Welcome to the family, son."
Harry at once embraced his soon-to-be father-in-law, gratefull beyond any mere words as Bounce hopped up and down happily at the exchange – many times, words needed to be spoken aloud and just as many times (as Albus told him years back) they DIDN´T.
Arthur held Harry gently, patting him on the back many times as he chuckled.
"Come now, Harry. Men would do well NOT to hold eachother for so long. Wrong impression, you know."he said good-naturedly and Harry separated himself from him, smiling happily as he nodded.
"Now... are you done with the ring?"he asked happily, eyeing the ring on the table.
Recodnizing the bright curiosity, Harry grinned and nodded.
"Well don´t waste time talking to me. Go find our precious girl and make her the happiest witch on Earth."he said good-naturedly, shooing his future son-in-law gently away with a sunny smile.
Grabbing the ring, Harry gave him a mock-sallute before he positively dashed out of the room. Arthur couldn´t help the happy laugh that escaped him, but he heared a sniff in the back of the room. He flashed a smile in the direction – the old house elf´s eyes were sporting happy-tears.
"I´m happy for them too, Fidus."he said smilingly and noticed the Bounce Viper jumping around the room – practicly bouncing off the walls, the rattlesnake gave a few unmistakably happy rattles, the whitesnake gave a few circles around himself and even lazy old Salazar bobbed his head up and down before yawning once again and lowering his head to sleep.
Arthur chuckled once again as he looked at the old house-elf.
"See, Fidus? We´re ALL happy."
Ginny had just returned to the party with her Mum and was just talking to Susan and Amelia when she felt a hand grab hers gently. She didn´t even have to look around to see that it was Harry. He had a dazed expression on his face and he gestured to his head to the staircase. Leading her up, he opened a nearby door with a lazy wave of his hand. It was a simple room, but Harry glanced up to the wall as though the greatest treasure in the world lay hidden in there. Following his line-of-sight she saw a portait there. Two people, an elderly man, with grey hair and the same face as Harry and James, though lined and without glasses smiled brightly and the black-haired older woman he was holding ever-so dearly gasped and instantly her eyes sported tears.
"Oh, Harry..."she whispered, besides herself with utter joy, the man holding her smiling proudly at them.
Harry looked at her and his emerald eyes sparkled brightly as he took both of her hands.
"Ginny... I realize that given the turn of events the element of pleasant surprise had been taken away from us. But that scarcely matters right now... what TRULY matters is..."
Ginny was beyond stunned.
"THIS is IT! This is IT! He´s... he´s going to... oh, Harry..."her heart and mind all but screamed as Harry got down on his knee and looked her deeply in the eyes.
"Ginny... the single bright-spot of that idiotic Repopulation Act was that it got me to know you. In the two weeks I have fallen deeply and madly in love with you and there is no ONE in the world I would want to spend my life with more. No one I have EVER met could ever make me feel the way you do, Ginny and I promise... I promise to make you the happiest person on the planet. Ginevra Molly Weasley... will you marry me?"
Ginny was sure, that her heart would EXPLODE from sheer happiness as she saw the ring in Harry´s palm. In a single instant she was in Harry´s arms, hugging him with all the strength she could muster, her eyes swimming in tears of pure joy.
"YES, HARRY! YES, YES, YES... I WILL... YES, MY GREEN EYED MYSTERY, I WILL!"she screamed in manic joy and she didn´t care if the entire village of Godric´s Hollow heared it – she was now officially the happiest girl in the world.
"That´s m´ grandson! Good work, Harry! Where´s Jamie at a time like this?!"exclaimed Charlus Potter on the painting as his wife Dorea burst into happy tears – incredibly happy as her little grandson proposed to his chosen-girl infront of her very own watery eyes.
Though his hands were shaking from emotion, Harry slipped the golden ring on Ginny´s finger.
"Mum shed it moments ago... each time a Potter boy chooses his life-long girl, this gets past down..."said Harry shakily.
Ginny shook her head in pure disbelief.
"Come here, Potter... make me sure, that this isn´t just the most beautifull dream I ever had."
Not needeing to be told twice, Harry practicly smashed his lips onto hers and did all he could to reassure his most precious person in the world that this was indeed sweet, pleasurable REALITY. The passionate kiss seemed to last a lifetime. Until...
The pair heared several sniffs and even a howl of emotion coming from the door. Looking around, they saw that the door has been magicly widened in order for everyone to see – the ENTIRE damn party moved up in haste, the moment Harry took Ginny upstairs.
"Yiiiiiikess... how LONG have you all been there?"whispered Harry as he looked at them all, red-faced.
Remembering the VERY same question from not too long ago, Alice gave a smug smile as she blew him a loud raspberry.
"LONG ENOUGH, brother dearest."she said to general hilarity of others as Harry smacked his forehead.
"Can´t a bloke even propose in private around this house?!"he muttered in annoyance, making his girl laugh.
"You guessed it, Mr Snake... You CAN´T!"exclaimed Alice cheekily as her brother shot her a grumpy scrowl to great hilarity.
Many couples were holding eachother in the wake of the romance displayed. Severus was sporting THE most proud look Harry had EVER seen on his face as he had his arm around Charity who smiled at them happily. Sirius was hugging Amelia lovingly grinning at Harry like mad. Remus and Dora were holding eachother tightly and smiling happily. Fleur beamed happily hugging her husband Bill, whose eyes were rather watery. Charlie, Tammy, Percy, Audrey, George and Angelina were all holding on to their significant others too. Fred and Alice were holding eachother tightly as well, both sporting tears dispite their manic grins. Ron and Hermione were holding eachother close, their sheer happiness mixing with the slightest of envy at the scene. Angus was holding Susan, both sporting insanely happy grins. The two house-elves also eyeing the scene with sunny smiles. Robert Evans, though sporting tears himself supported his wife who was sobbing with abandon – her precious, sweet little tyke of a grandson had apparently grown into a strong, loving and passionate man – sweet Lord, HAVE the years really have gone by so fast?! She could still remember him, as a tiny, scrawny, jet-black haired little boy who used to float away to dramland holding her hand in his tiny little one – and now... seeing a full-grown man propose to his girl with so much love...
"That´s the way, Ginny. We are surely the happiest girls in the world."said Luna trough her tears as she held onto Blaise, who nodded.
"Good man, Harry. I would of course expect nothing less of a great man such as yourself."he nodded supportively, though his official demaneour was slightly flawed by the overly happy smile and the tears in his eyes.
Albus smiled at them radiantly as great heavy sobs of both Hagrid AND Professor McGonnagal were heared beside him. But NONE of the tears shed there could EVER hope to match the tears of Lily and Molly. The two women sped towards the couple and squeezed their precious little ones so hard, a boa-constridor couldn´t possibly do a better job. The two respective fathers shot eachother overjoyed looks as they one-armedly embraced eachother in their neverending happiness for their beloved children.
"Jamie! Jamie! You saw it?! You saw it, right?!"exclaimed the overly-excited portrait of his father as the two men let go of each other and James stepped closer.
"You saw it too, Jamie? Our little Harry... oh, Merlin..."exclaimed Dorea, bursting into tears again.
"Sure did, Mum... BLOODYHELL, I did."said James, positively swelling with pride at the sight.
"James Charlus Potter, mind your language! We have guests in the house, if you will be so KIND to notice!"warned Dorea though she couldn´t for the LORD stop crying, dispite her sudden anger at her son.
Harry (along with Sirius, Severus and Remus) burst out in laughter in spite of yourself. The older men couldn´t help but share a smirk – HOW like ol´Dorea Potter this was.
"Getting a scolding even NOW, Dad?"he asked teasingly, wiggling his eyebrows at his dear old Dad (hearing quite a few stories from Remus, Sirius and of course his dear old Mum by now).
"Watch your mouth, young man."James mock-scolded, but right now nothing even remotely resembling of anger or annoyance could possibly penetrate this happiness-filled house.
"Don´t worry, Lion Daddy. I´m watching it well enough for him."said Ginny winking at him mischievously as she delivered a loving peck on his lips to renewed laughter of the room – even Charlus and Dorea laughed.
"Chaaaaaarming aren´t you, little one. Perfect pick, Harry."exclaimed Charlus winking at Ginny, but instantly Dorea smacked his head, glaring him hard and he quickly gave his wife a "Sorry, dear" look – Ginny giggled happily.
"My, my... Potter men seem to be all alike, aren´t they?"chuckled Molly, grinning at James.
"Unfortunately it seems so, Molly. Though... I think Ginny has scored the BEST of the lot."she said, shooting Ginny a wink, to which the younger red-head giggled to no end yet again, even as James exclaimed a loud and pitifull "HEY" before his wife´s death-glare silenced him in an instant – the room ringing with laughter once more.
As dazed in happiness as Harry was he couldn´t help but notice someone else in the room. As Ginny looked where he was looking, she laughed happily as their mothers let go of them.
"Harry... is it even POSSIBLE for a snake to shed tears?"she asked and though her voice was hilarious, she couldn´t help but feel very much towards Harry´s most beloved pet, whose golden scales were shining ever-so brightly as did her eyes, which INDEED had droplets of water coming out of them.
Harry laughed as he knelt again, spreading his arms wide.
"You should know by now, Ginny... Naja is NO ordinary snake. Come here, girl..."he hissed the last bit to her happily.
At her master´s plea, Naja shot up from the ground and instantly encircled them both, squeezing with obvious affection as her golden scales shined so much, some were shielding their eyes.
At that moment Harry felt absolutely sure - as he held his precious pet Naja and his even more precious soon-to-be wife Ginny to himself, encircled by his friends and family - that this single memory would be strong enough to make the world´s MOST powerfull Patronus Charm.