Content Harry Potter
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Author Notes:

No, I haven't stopped writing.

Brushing your hair at the end of the day has a number of practical benefits.   The truly practical benefit is that after brushing it out, you can then braid your hair and secure said braid with an elastic band, thereby insuring that it will not be a complete nest of nifflers in the morning.   The less tangible benefit was the opportunity it provides for reflecting on the day, the week, or even on the past month.

Looking around her room, Ginny saw the ribbon she’d worn in her hair at the All-Hallows Eve ball, an event that provided a most harmonious ending to an otherwise wretched month.   Other than the fact that her brother and future sister-in-law had their row before the ball rather than after, the ball itself had few surprises.   As to the row, Harry had intervened with Ron, prompting the Weasley speed record for heart-felt apologies, which diffused what otherwise would have been a monumentally ugly scene.

Harry, of course, had looked smashing in his new robes.   Ginny’s gown had been just about perfect; it was cut high enough in the front to be modest, low enough in the back to let her breathe, with a skirt full enough to twirl nicely.   The fact that the back also nicely showed off her "tattoo," prompting post-ball gossip as to whether or not Harry had a matching mark, was simply a bonus.   The male members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team were, to a man, singularly unhelpful in confirming or denying the rumoured tattoo.


Before the ball, Ginny’s roommates were pulling their collective hair in frustration; making inquiries as to who was still available and who was newly available.   Several new relationships were struck as the event approached, and a few older relationships floundered.   June Thackeray, a member of her study group, stayed behind after a revision session to ask Ginny about her placid calm when most of the girls in the castle were atwitter.  

"How can you be so calm about the ball?" she asked in exasperation.   "You and Harry aren’t fighting at all!"

Ginny paused before answering.   "I guess we just got all that stuff out of the way over the summer," she replied.

"What?   When?" June asked.

"Harry asked me to the ball at the beginning of August, just after his birthday," Ginny explained.   "By the end of August we’d already had our first fight about money, because Harry wanted to pay for my gown, and I didn’t want to take charity."

"How did that work out?" June asked, surprised that Ginny was sharing anything at all about her most-coveted boyfriend.

"We had our spat just before the break-in at Gringotts.   The prospect of being killed by monsters or having our souls sucked out by Dementors rather put our problems in perspective.   Ever since, I’ve been fairly certain that this thing with Harry is going to be long term, so I guess I’m a little more relaxed than a lot of the girls," Ginny explained.

"You’re that certain?" June asked.

Ginny smirked.   "Yeah, pretty certain — a boy who thinks about you before lighting off a whopper Patronus isn’t likely to dump you for a curvier model next week," she said.

One hour and a good cry later, June left Ginny’s room feeling a bit better about life in general and her on-again off-again relationship with the Keeper for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team.


It was December and Ginny had a secret, which prompted a nice warm feeling in her heart.   She knew it was a weakness, having been devastated by secret-keeping when she was barely eleven years old, but she reckoned that her enjoyment of today’s secret was part of the long-term healing.   To be precise, she had several secrets: she’d located the perfect Christmas gift for Harry; she was going to go to lunch, alone, with Jasmine when her summertime tutor was in town this weekend on Abelard’s business, and she was going to be baptized the following weekend, just before Christmas holidays.   All of these secrets had natural expiration dates, but the anticipation of releasing the secrets along with the present heady pleasure of being one of the few with the knowledge was delicious.   She looked up from her studies, pulling her watch from her pocket, and concluded that she’d done enough damage for one afternoon.   If she carefully routed her way back to the tower, she might be able to steal a kiss from her boyfriend before Quidditch practice; goodness knows she needed and deserved one.

The physical side of their relationship, after being the focus of a lot of angst and frustration over the past four months, had finally stabilized.   Mum had warned her years ago that the fizz of feelings lasted about two years or so, after which you’d best be good friends with your mate or be ready to   call it quits.   She’d been good friends with Harry before they plunged into romance in the most awkward style possible, so she figured that they’d be fine when the fizz evaporated, as the life-long nature of the bond that they shared made calling it quits a most impractical option.   Knowing that she was going to be with him every night, albeit in her Animagus form of Tick-tock, took some of the power out of the longing she’d experienced earlier; it’s not like she was bored with him or anything, quite the opposite, it’s just that the longing, the desire to connect to him in every way possible, was not the overpowering force it was when they first were bonded.  

There was a certain frustration in navigating these waters, the largest one being that she had no-one to talk to about most of the practical issues.   Mum was out, as she’d no doubt go spare if she were to hear about her longings. Hermione could understand in an intellectual way, of course, but that witch’s relationship with her brother was much different, and of course wasn’t complicated by the overlay of dragon magic that coloured everything.   Father Harper was most helpful, having led the weekly bible study she attended before services on Saturday nights, but while he did have some insight into the problems of dragon magic, he was, after all, a celibate male.   Notwithstanding these limitations, he’d been most helpful, having enthusiastically approved the Tick-tock solution the first time he’d heard it.   He’d suggested that she be mentored by one of the older women in the parish, specifically the witch who ran the Apothecary in Hogsmeade, but that wouldn’t start until after the holidays. Until then, she did what she could with what she had at hand, a patchwork of conversations and snippets of advice from Tonks, Hermione and Luna.

The shortest way to the tower took her outside the castle, which, in early December, was not a prospect to be lightly entertained.   A stiff wind blasted her as she slipped out the door, reminding her that her hair was loose.  

When she slipped back into the castle and then into Gryffindor tower, she was rosy cheeked and slightly out of breath, but the effort was worth it.   As she passed through the portrait hole she saw Harry walking down the stairs from the boy’s dormitory.  

"Going the wrong way, aren’t you?   Practice is that way," he said helpfully.

"I needed to drop my books off," she explained, thankful when he closed the distance between them.   She wrapped her arms around him, breathing in his scent.   She was midway through a most rewarding kiss when he pulled away.

"Sweet Merlin!   Your hands are cold," he said.   While they’d been kissing she’d slipped her hands inside the back of his shirt.   "Ever hear of warming charms?" he asked peevishly, casting one on the offending hands without asking.   Pulling his wand out, he drew a circle over her book bag, which disappeared.

"Where did it go?" she asked.

"If I did it right, up to your room," he answered.

"And if you did it wrong?"

"Up to my room. I believe you know the way."

He summoned her cloak from her room, casting a warming charm onto it on the fly as it came down the stairs like an oversized falcon.   He waited for her by the portrait hole, giving her the chance to pass through the door first.   When he joined her on the other side, he put his hands in his pockets and held an elbow out to her to allow her the opportunity to slip her hand into the crook of his arm.   The comfort of this everyday gesture was immense, better than flowers or poetry or candlelit dinners.   She felt the urge to bubble over with happiness and let one or two of the secrets loose, but she restrained herself; good secrets were worth waiting for.


There were procedures that applied to students for being released from the grounds of Hogwarts on a day that wasn’t a Hogsmeade weekend — today’s expedition followed none of them.   Ginny waited in a small courtyard in the castle that was visible only from the Headmaster’s office, waiting for the familiar tingling she knew that preceded the appearance of Abelard’s portal.   The golden door shimmered into view and then opened, releasing a damp breeze into the courtyard.   A small hand pushed the door open, revealing the most penetrating brown eyes Ginny had ever known.

"Long time no see," Jasmine said, smiling broadly as she stood aside to allow Abelard to shuffle into the courtyard.   She was dressed in a shimmering grey version of the pants and tunic she’d worn to Harry’s birthday party last summer.   Dumbledore opened one of the two doorways into the courtyard and the two elderly wizards walked into the castle, slowly, Abelard leaning on his four-footed cane.

"I suspect that this is going to take a while," Jasmine said.   "Ready for lunch?"

"Sure," Ginny replied.   "You want to go into Hogsmeade and eat at the Three Broomsticks?"

"With all due respect to Madam Rosmerta," Jasmine began, "I wouldn’t feed Rosie at the Three Broomsticks.   Let’s go to Glasgow. I know some truly lovely places to eat there, my treat."

"Isn’t that kind of far away?" Ginny asked.

"Stuff and nonsense, you’re not even going to step outside the castle," Jasmine said, placing her hand on the squiggle shaped handle to the portal.

"You’re on, but we flip a coin to see who pays," Ginny said.

Jasmine winked and then walked through the portal.   "So how is short, dark and handsome?" she asked over her shoulder.


Lunch had been grand; they’d swapped stories as they ate their way through a delicious meal of Indian food.   Ginny wasn’t sure what she thought of chicken that was coloured fluorescent orange, but once she got past the colour, it was delicious.  

Ginny recounted the highlights of the Quidditch season along with some of her more notorious escapades with Harry, at least those that were fit to share.   Jasmine replied with stories from prior employers, an Abelard story from the most recent trip to Japan, and a particularly poignant story about Lily Evans from Jasmine’s childhood.   Ginny knew that she needed to treat this last treasure with caution — losing his parents was the one wound that would never really heal over for Harry.   When they returned to school, Jasmine talked Ginny into flying on the pitch, tossing an improvised Quaffle between them.   They took turns playing Chaser and Keeper, forgetting to keep score.    After twenty minutes, Ron and Harry joined them on the pitch. Ron took the Keeper position, allowing Ginny, Jasmine and Harry to fly proper Chaser formations, with Harry as the acknowledged weak link in the pickup team.   They finished an hour later, wind-tossed and happy.  All in all, Ginny thought it was an almost perfect day.


The rest of the weekend progressed in its normal cycle, church services on Saturday night, lie-in on Sunday morning (the only evening Tick-tock didn’t sleep with Harry was Saturday, to allow for the sacred lie-in) followed by a late brunch with Harry.   Sunday faded inexorably into Monday, allowing Ginny to push through her Herbology project and finally tackle an Arithmancy paper that she’d postponed.   She finished the paper, but felt the need to check a certain section against a reference found only in the library, so feeling ever so slightly that she was channelling the study habits of her best female friend, she packed her bag for an expedition to the stacks.   The stated reference allowed her to catch an arithmetic error, which gave her a mixed feeling of satisfaction — satisfaction that she’d caught the error mixed with a mild annoyance that she’d made the error in the first place.   Clapping that book shut made a satisfying sound; she was now totally caught up.   She looked up and saw that Daphne Greengrass was trying to catch her eye.

"So is it true?" she asked as she plopped her books on Ginny’s table.

"Is what true?" Ginny replied with a mild dread.

"That you’re getting baptized next Saturday," Daphne said.

"Shh," Ginny replied, finger to her lips.   "Yes, it’s true, but Harry doesn’t know yet," she cautioned.

"Why the secrecy?   When were you planning on letting him know?"

"Why? Because I wrestled for the longest while over whether I was doing this for me, because I really believe in Jesus, or if I was doing this as part of my very long list of duties as Harry’s girlfriend.   I plan on telling Harry later this week," Ginny answered.

"Is it really going to be in the river?" Daphne asked.

"Unless it’s frozen over," Ginny replied.

"Lucky you," Daphne said.

"Yup, that’s why God gave us waterproof warming charms, I reckon," Ginny said stoically.  

"I’m really glad that Father Harper is holding to the old ways — I think it’s a lot more meaningful.   You do know that you had the choice of doing it in the river and doing it by the font inside the Hooper chapel?" Daphne asked.

"Yeah, I like the older form better — keeps the riff-raff away," Ginny said.  

"More truth to that than you’d imagine.   The old English custom was to postpone baptisms until Pentecost Sunday to allow the water to warm up.   The old name for Pentecost is Whitsunday, for the white baptismal robes that would be worn for the occasion," Daphne said.

"Well, aren’t you the fountain of historical information?   I suppose you’ve been waiting for a conversation where you could slip that tid-bit into play," Ginny said with a smirk.

"Nah, not really.   I had to do a paper on baptism as part of my vocational discernment process," Daphne answered.

"The nuns?" Ginny asked.

"Yeah, ‘the nuns,’ the Daughters of Divine Compassion, or as we call them — dod-see."

"Well, better dodsee than dodgy I guess," Ginny said.   "Well, we’re still doing the white robe thing.   I had to do my own paper for Father Harper on why I wanted to be baptized."

"So why are you doing it?" Daphne asked.

"You know, I wrestled with that for a long while.   Aside from my Mum’s brothers, who died in the first war, there haven’t been many believers in my family.   When I started going out with Harry, going to church was part of the package, because it was something that Remus and Harry could do together on weekends," Ginny said, winding up into her rapid-fire delivery mode.   "So I started tagging along, which is where I first met you, if you remember.   The funny thing about it all is that going to church and hearing the bible read aloud and participating in the services was like going to a foreign country and finding out it was -- home all along.   I mean, there’s funny words like verger and stoup and genuflect, but the heart of it all seemed obvious too — God created the world, but all of mankind walked away from God and God sent Jesus to help bring us back.   It sure made sense to me.   Then after school started up, I started going to services on Saturdays to make sure that this was something that I believed, rather than something that Harry believed.   So, in the end, I guess it’s because it’s my choice — being baptized that is — I’m making this as a statement of my own belief, not some hand-me-down faith from Tonks or Lupin or Harry even.   "

"Have you told your parents?" Daphne asked.

"Yeah, I’m not sure they really cared all that much.   Dad thinks it’s neat that I’m doing ‘something Muggle,’ which is how he sees it, and Mum thinks that I’m doing it as preparation for being a good little wife — if I hear her say ‘a happy home has but one religion’ one more time I think I’m going to hurl," Ginny said.

"So, who were your uncles?" Daphne asked.

"Gideon and Fabian Prewett," Ginny answered.

"Really?   You’re related to the Martyrs?" Daphne asked, her eyes aglow.

"The Martyrs?   My uncles were killed by Death Eaters," Ginny protested.

"Your uncles were killed by Death Eaters because they refused to renounce their faith," Daphne explained.   "They were baptized when they were students at Hogwarts, just like you; only for them it was when they were seventh year students.   That royally brassed off some of the new Death Eaters, who accused them of being blood traitors."

"We’ve been called blood traitors for years," Ginny protested.

"Yeah, well there are blood traitors and then there are Blood Traitors - among some of the Purebloods, there’s a large dislike for Christianity — they call it the worst form of Muggle-loving," Daphne explained.   She looked around to see if anyone in the library was listening.   "It’s not a Muggle thing," Daphne said, her blue eyes flashing.

"Yeah, I know, your family’s been active in the C of E forever," Ginny said.

"We’re relative newcomers compared to the Patils," Daphne said with a wry smile.

"How far back do they go?" Ginny asked.

"Remember the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew?" Daphne asked.

"Yeah, Herod and wise men from the East," Ginny said.

"Those were Magi from the east — wizards from Persia.   Padma quite proudly showed me a genealogy chart tracing her family back to one of those wizards."

"But the Patils are from India," Ginny objected.

"The family moved from Persia to South India in the fourth century, and then to England in the eighteenth century."

"So they’re not Hindus?" Ginny asked.

"Nope, Padma and Pavarti have been regulars at the 8:00 Sunday service since first year," Daphne said.

"Bewitch me; I really need to get out more," Ginny said.

"What you missed was the day that Draco was bragging that his family had been leaders in the magical world for over a thousand years.   Padma pointed out that when the Christ-child was born, two thousand years ago, her family was tasked with representing the magical peoples to greet him.   Kind of hard to top that, in my humble opinion," Daphne said, laughing aloud, albeit quietly.   "I’ll be there."

"Thanks, it’ll mean a lot to me," Ginny replied.

"Think nothing of it — it gave me an excuse to turn down one of the seventh year Slytherins who wanted to take me out on a date that day," Daphne replied.

"How Slytherin."

"Why thank you," Daphne said sweetly.


Thursday came — indicating that the week was almost over.   A crow sat patiently on the windowsill of Ginny's room, waiting for her to return from dinner, no doubt.   One of her roommates informed her that the bird had been sitting there for a half hour and would fly away when anyone else tried to retrieve its package, an antique brass courier capsule.   Ginny scanned the dark bird for odd magical signatures before concluding that it was merely a messenger from some region in the world where owls were not available.   When she opened the window, the crow hopped in and stood on one foot, presenting the other solemnly to Ginny.   Ginny untied the courier capsule, trying to figure out if it had a catch anywhere that would allow her to open it.   There was no such catch, but inscribed on one side was the word Engorgio in an odd, antique script.   Ginny tapped it with her wand, whispering "Engorgio."   The capsule grew in size until was the approximately size of a loaf of bread, at which time Ginny saw a patch that looked remarkably like a blood seal.

That's odd, I don't remember initiating any seal other than those on the Passboxes I made with Hermione last summer.

Figuring that there was little to lose, she pressed her thumb to the seal, allowing a previously unseen seam in the box to pop open, revealing a carefully wrapped package with an accompanying card.   The handwriting was familiar — not many people wrote in the distinctive hand that Jasmine favoured.   She read the card, figuring it was always safe to open, while the package might be something that should be preserved until Christmas.

Dear Ginny,
Abelard heard that you were getting baptized this weekend and went into a tizzy until I convinced him that I could get this package to you without having to penetrate Hogwarts with the Portal.   Enclosed is a     gift in honour of this occasion, along with Abelard's regards.   It seems that it is indeed a small world — Abelard knew your late uncles Fabian and Gideon — he considered them "fine and worthy to bear the name of Martyr."   Well, without further ado, congratulations.  
Although I'm not a believer myself, I've accompanied Abelard to many a church service over the years — I always find the baptismal services for adults to be touching — similar in a fashion to the service inducting members into the Shiva Guild.  
I enjoyed our weekend — we'll have to make sure to make it a regularly occurring event.


Inviting the Muggleborn was easy, Ginny simply explained that she was getting baptized on Saturday and would be honoured if they’d attend.   She handed them a little card which explained the details of how to get from Hogsmeade to Hooper, and then moved on to the next invitee.   Many of the Magicborn were a bit more troublesome, as she had to explain, sometimes in great detail what she was doing and why she was doing it and what purpose it would serve for them to witness the event.   None of the Magicborn were as much trouble, however, as explaining it to her own brother.

"You’re doing what?" he asked at the top of his lungs, or at least it seemed that way.   The Common Room was almost, but not quite empty.   Hermione was "correcting" one of Ron’s essays, marking it up liberally with indelible red ink in the margins.

"Oh, honestly, Ron," Hermione explained.   "She’s getting baptized; it’s a rite of initiation into the Christian Church."

"And what would you know about that?" Ron challenged.   "You and your lot haven’t darkened the door of a church since the day your Mum and Dad got married.   I mean, some single wanker of a priest is going to push my sister under the river this weekend.   Have you noticed that we’re living in Scotland and it’s winter already?     If you wait until June, I’ll push you under in our pond without all the trouble and the fuss."

"Thanks, Ron, but that wasn’t quite what I had in mind," Ginny said, trying to keep a straight face.

"Just trying to be helpful," Ron said with a wink.   "Actually, I knew already — Colin came and told me after you’d invited him.   I’d be honoured to come.   You coming, Hermione?"

"I don’t know, Ronald, you might not want ‘my lot’ in attendance," Hermione said, bristling.

"What?   What did I say?" Ron asked incredulously.

"Never mind, Ron, it would take too long to explain.   Just know that it was a sore point growing up," Hermione said, rubbing her temples as she put down her quill.

"What was?   Being baptized?   Not being baptized?" Ron asked.

"The whole church thing," Hermione explained, melting a bit as Ron stood and began to rub her shoulders.

Ginny stood, not wanting to watch the inevitable.   Hermione would soften for a moment while Ron was rubbing her shoulders, planting a soft kiss on the crown of her head from time to time, until she would unleash some zinger that she was currently holding back from speaking, then they’d have a brief, hopefully very brief, argument, which would get resolved with more affection, most likely a long snog in front of the fireplace.   She reckoned that the fight-makeup cycle was inevitable for them.   Thankfully things with Harry were a little more straightforward.   They had fewer arguments, as neither of them regarded bickering as a pleasant pastime.   What friction they did have was usually smoothed out through sessions of touch-talk.   While the dragon magic exacted a price, it had benefits as well.

She was halfway up the staircase to the girl’s dormitory when she felt Harry approach the Common Room.   She paused on the stairwell to catch his eye, being rewarded by a wink, an air-kiss and a nod from her boyfriend.   The wink was an all purpose ‘hello,’ the kiss was obvious, and the nod let her know that he wanted to go for a walk before turning in, but he didn’t want to get ensnared in the volatile couple sitting in front of the fire, where she could see, but not quite hear, Hermione launch into a lengthy explanation of something as she touched her forehead to her brother’s temple.

Ginny secured her books, made her nightly ablutions, and then pulled on a cloak, turning herself invisible before she hit the stairwell on the way back down.   The couple in front of the fireplace had stopped talking — Ron’s hands weren’t anywhere that would get him smacked by Mum, but just on general principle, Ginny put a mild alarm charm on the portrait hole door as she passed through, giving them a better than fair chance of not getting caught by students returning before curfew.

Harry was waiting for her, hands in his pockets, in their usual spot.   As she slipped her hand into the crook of his arm, he vanished as well, allowing them to walk invisibly in the now darkened hallways.


There were a number of issues in their relationship that they made up as they went along.   The proper use of Legilimency was one of those.   As Harry’s Krulach, she had certain rights and privileges, but there was a certain etiquette involved.   The bond told her a lot about what was going on with Harry, but beyond the big vitals (he’s awake, he’s hungry, he’s injured, he’s well, he’s asleep) the fine details were maddeningly missing.   When his shield was down, it was ridiculously easy to slip into his mind and catch all of those details, but to enter uninvited was, just not done, any more than Harry would rip her skirt off and have his way with her on the table in the Great Hall at lunchtime.   Not that she’d mind such abandon, not after a while at least.   There was a level of Legilimency that didn’t invade the mind, however, that involved picking up the spare thoughts and emotions that leaked out — rather much like listening to someone talk to themselves.   Harry had coined the phrase for it — ‘listening at the edges’ which they agreed was proper at all times and circumstances — at least with each other.

Listening at the edges, she could tell that he was happy to see her, but he was also bothered about something.   Ginny didn’t have to be a Legilimens to figure out the likely topic — it was just a question of how long it would take before he brought it up — if he ever did.   Knowing Harry, she reckoned that she’d have to force the issue — Harry was quite averse to conflict — especially conflict with her.

"Are you going to tell me why I’m the last to know that you’re getting baptized this weekend?" he asked quietly as he led them to door that led to the outside of the castle.

Okay, so I lost that bet, he’s not going to beat around the bush forever, which likely means that he’s not too mad at me.

"Um, I was testing just how good your informant network is?" she asked in jest.

Harry paused long enough to give her the ‘I don’t believe you’ look with one raised eyebrow.

"Would it help if I said I was planning on telling you tonight?" she asked.

He smiled and started walking again.

"Probably," he said laconically.  

"I was trying to figure out why I was doing it in the first place," she said, bracing herself as the damp cold struck as they moved outdoors.   The lights in the castle were now catching the bits of blowing snow, creating twinkling motes of light.   "Was I doing it to make you happy?   Was I doing it because it was the right thing to do?   Was I doing it to brass off the Death Eaters and make myself even more of a blood traitor target than I already am?"

"I’m sorry, I lost you on the last one," Harry said softly, leading them to a path that went by the lake.

"Oh," Ginny said, now regretting that she’d uncorked that particular factoid.   "You know Uncles Fabian and Gideon?"

"Prewett, your Mum’s brothers," Harry said.

"The same; well they were killed by Death Eaters," Ginny said.

"Yeah, they were in the Order," Harry replied.

"According to Daphne, that was just a bonus — they’d both been baptized when they were finishing Hogwarts — which twisted the knickers of some of the junior Death Eaters, who considered it to be the height of betrayal to the old Wizarding order or some such nonsense," Ginny explained.

"Hmmh," he grunted.

He stopped, pushing her back against a very familiar tree-trunk, bending forward to kiss her.   It was a very nice kiss.   Correction, it was a bloody-fantastic-I-wonder-just-what’s-got-into-him kiss.

He leaned back, trying to focus on her through his now-fogged glasses.   "So, what did you conclude?" he asked.

"About what?" Ginny replied.

"About your motivations — for getting baptized," he said with a smirk.

"Sorry, my mind was elsewhere — must be advanced age or something," she said with a giggle.

Harry swatted her bum.   "You're not an airhead," he chided.

"Well, right, back to the discussion at hand," Ginny said, smiling slyly as she wiggled her bum against his hand.   She laughed as she saw the look of concentration on his face break.

"Woman, you're going to be the death of me," he complained.

"Better me than Lizard Lips," she quipped.

"Thanks for reminding me," he said with a grimace.

"Don't mention it," she said.   "Anyway, back to baptism.   Harry, I love you, I always have in one way or another, but it's been an intense five months or so, you'll have to admit."

Harry nodded, moving his hands to the small of her back.

"And I love Jesus, but that love is relatively recent in my life," Ginny said seriously.

"So?" Harry asked.

"So I wanted to straighten out just why I wanted to be baptized — was I doing it for you?"   Ginny asked seriously.   "Was I doing it because it was expected?   Was I doing it for Father Harper?   Or Daphne, or Moony or Tonks?   So I decided I wouldn't talk to you about it until I got it sorted out — and then I got into the groove of keeping it a secret and surprising you."

"What if I'd scheduled something that conflicted with the date?" Harry asked seriously.

"Harry, who checks your date book for errors?" Ginny asked.

"You do," he said.

"I rest my case," she said, bending to plant a light kiss on the soft spot where his shoulder joined his neck.   She noted with some satisfaction the slight shiver that ran through him.   A pity it was so close to curfew.

"Well, I was surprised," he said, letting his head tilt to one side.   "The bishop of London is coming to Hooper on Sunday; we can get confirmed together the day after."

"That was part of the plan too," Ginny said with a grin.

The next kiss was better than the one that preceded it.


A quick glance at his watch told Harry that they'd better scamper back if he wanted to be in before curfew.   He didn’t have any moral objections to breaking curfew, but as he had classes during first period on Friday, it just wasn’t practical to make a late evening of it on a Thursday night.   A half-hour later, he ruminated on whether he’d made the right choice, listening to the slumbering sounds in his dormitory.   Seamus was fighting a cold, so he’d turned in after dinner.   Neville was always in bed at 9:30 like clockwork.   Ron turned in when Hermione sent him to bed, and no one could predict when Dean would turn in, but most nights Harry was the last one in bed.

How Tick-tock got into the dormitory, and how she knew that all the boys other than Harry were asleep was an unanswered mystery.   Ron knew that she’d been sleeping with Harry in her Animagus form, but none of the other boys had ever seen her — or if they had, they hadn’t thought to mention it to anyone.   On every night other than Saturday night, Harry would feel a gentle bounce on his mattress as she landed on the foot of his bed.   She’d walk up the length of his body, pausing to rub the side of her head against his chin before curling up in the hollow between his arm and chest.   Some nights he’d talk to her briefly, but more often than not she’d place a paw upon his mouth.   When in her cat form she could understand human speech, but by the end of the day it took too much energy to translate on the fly.   He’d grown accustomed in the last month to falling asleep to the rhythmic sound of her purr, so much so that he was quite restless on Saturday nights when she wasn’t there.   Whatever strings of conversation he was considering melted away as sleep took him.

When he awoke on Friday morning, the sunlight was streaming into his window, puddling in a ragged circle on his floor.   The only evidence that Tick-tock had spent the night was a small, cat-shaped warm spot on the bed.   Animagus or not, Ginny was still not a morning person, and he was usually halfway through breakfast on a weekday before she’d join him in the Great Hall if she made it to breakfast at all.   The usual Saturday night revision group had been rescheduled to Friday this week, as all the regulars were going to lose part of their afternoon attending Ginny’s baptism, which meant that he’d probably not see her again until dinnertime.  

If anyone had told him a year ago that being apart from Ginny Weasley for a day would provoke a bit of anxiety, he’d have told them that they were nutters, but that’s where he’d arrived.   He reckoned that if this was the worst part of having a girlfriend, he’d learn to live with it.


The Great Hall was more crowded than usual for a Saturday morning, which was explained by the fact that today was a Hogsmeade weekend.   Harry filled up his plate with the usual items and then prepared two mugs of coffee, taking a sip out of each to make sure they were correct.   The oversized mug he placed across the table from him, sealing it with a minor charm to keep it warm until his girlfriend arrived.   He used the time he spent eating to watch the actions of the students milling about.   By the time he’d finished his eggs and was working on his second piece of toast, he felt the faintest of tugs on the bond he shared with Ginny.   He put down his toast and prepared two more plates, one for Hermione and the other for Ginny.

"Ooh," Hermione said, looking at the waiting place settings. "You do have him nicely trained, Ginny."

Ginny gave Harry a surreptitious wink and sank down into a chair opposite Harry, letting her satchel fall to the floor with a clatter.   After she’d taken several greedy gulps, she looked up at Harry.

"Thanks, love," she said softly.

"Think nothing of it.   What’s in the bag?" he asked.

"Shoes suitable for wading in a Scottish river in December, a change of clothes, a towel, my purse and my presents from Abelard," Ginny replied.

"Presents?   What did he send?" Harry asked.

"A bible and a matching prayer book; he apologized that he didn’t have time to get my name embossed on the covers.   There is a nice inscription on the cover leaf though," she said, pulling one of the books from her satchel.

"Nice," Harry said, opening the cover with one hand.   "Would you like to get them embossed when we go into Hogsmeade?"

Ginny pulled another gulp of coffee from her mug before answering.   "Maybe later," which earned a laugh from Hermione.   "What?   What’s funny about that?" she asked.

"Nothing — I didn’t say a thing," Hermione answered primly.

"Yeah, right," Ginny replied before throwing a strawberry at Hermione’s face.

Hermione caught it with her left hand, but crushed it in the process.   "Eww, look what you made me do!" she protested.

"Should have caught it in your mouth then," Ginny replied, smiling as she watched her friend try to wipe the smudge of scarlet from her palm.

"We can’t all be Keepers," Ron said, sitting down next to Hermione.   He plucked a strawberry from Hermione’s plate, tossing it into the air and catching it in his mouth.

"You are insufferable!" Hermione exclaimed.

"Why, thank you," Ron replied.

"Finish up quickly, Ginny, I don’t like the looks of where this is going," Harry said.

In reply, Hermione tossed a strawberry at Harry, who suspended it above his plate with a flick of his hand.   Minutes later Harry’d levitated two grapes and a chunk of toast to float in mid-air above his plate with the strawberry.   With a little coaxing, the bits of breakfast were doing a credible version of a conga dance.

Hermione glared at Harry and then at Ron.   "I’m sorry, Ron, you’re not insufferable," she said.

"Oh?" Ron asked sweetly.

"No, Harry is, though," she said, trying to suppress the smile that threatened to crack the scowl she’d forced upon her face.

"Oh, Hermione, you’re wrong — he’s not insufferable," Ginny protested.

"No?" Hermione replied.   "What is he then?"

"Irresistible," she smirked, snatching the strawberry from mid-air and popping it into her mouth.


Harry and Ginny spent the morning ambling through Hogsmeade; Ginny finishing her Christmas shopping, picking up a present she’d ordered for Hermione that had finally arrived, and snagging up a few odds and ends for stocking stuffers.   Harry spent the time tagging along with Ginny, trying from time to time to discern which of the people milling about the streets of Hogsmeade were serving as his minder for the morning.   With Tonks’ consent, he’d planned on walking from Hogsmeade to Hooper, breaking midway for a picnic lunch.   Although there were bits of snow here and there on the ground, they were in the middle of an unseasonably warm spell, which Harry didn’t mind a bit.

As he spread the tablecloth over the table he’d just conjured, he felt a niggling unease leaking out around the edges of Ginny’s mostly lowered mental shield.

"What’s wrong, love?" he asked.

Ginny waved him away. "You’ll just think I’m silly," she replied.

"No, tell me," he said.

"I’ve invited Mum and Dad to my baptism and our confirmation, hoping that they’d be able to attend one or the other, and I don’t think that they’re going to come to either one," Ginny said plaintively.  

"When did you let them know?" Harry inquired.

"Three weeks ago," she replied.

"So, about two and a half weeks before you let me know," he said, giving her a wink.

"You’re not going to let me live that down, are you?" she asked, tossing back the hood on her cloak.

"Nope," he replied laconically.

"I really do want them there," she sighed.

"Yeah, I know — I’d give anything if Sirius were able to see this — or Mum — or Dad," he said quietly.

"Oh, Harry!   Forgive me!" Ginny squealed, throwing herself on him.

"Well, since you put it that way, I guess I can find it in my heart," he said, patting her back lightly.

"No, really, I’m all wrapped around whether or not Mum or Dad will be able to come, and I forget all about the fact that you don’t even have that option," Ginny said.   Harry didn’t say anything in reply, brushing his fingers lightly across her forehead, tucking a stray wisp of scarlet hair behind her ear.   She could tell that his shield was dropped to zero — she did the same and then leaned forward, touching her forehead to his.

I’m such a prat sometimes.

That’s okay; it’s how I know you’re a Weasley.

Oh, you boy, you.

If I might break into this tender moment, Tk’lch said, clearing a dragon-sized throat.   Your minders are approaching; you might want to be a bit more attentive.

"Thank you," Ginny said aloud.

I exist to serve.

Harry put one finger to his mouth and then vanished.   Ginny smiled and followed suit.   Turning on her farsight long enough to find him, she waited beside him — waiting for their minders to appear.  


Tonks, it turned out, had pretty much the same attitude about being ambushed by an invisible teenaged wizard (and witch) as her colleague Moey.   Lupin, on the other hand, found it positively hilarious.   When all parties involved were back to their normal, visible state of affairs, Harry conjured two more chairs and they split the picnic lunch that Dobby had prepared.   After that, they walked to Hooper, stopping outside the chapel.   A stream that previously had run alongside the road between Hogsmeade and Hooper now crossed under the road at an arched stone footbridge and fed into a small pond in front of the chapel.  

Lupin stopped to examine the new geography, and then smiled before chuckling.   "Good show, Father Harper, good show indeed," he said.

"What, what’s so funny?" Ginny asked.

"He’s re-routed the stream to make a baptismal pond in front of the chapel," Lupin answered.

"Yeah, so?" Ginny said.

"Now the baptistery is the entrance to the church — which is very symbolic, very ritually correct — very much something that a Gray Friar would think up to reinforce a teaching point," Lupin said.

"And here I thought it just indicated that he was being thoughtful for the candidates, so they wouldn’t have to walk very far after they got sopping wet," Tonks said wryly.

"It’s both," said a booming voice from under the bridge.   Father Harper tucked a wand into the sleeve of his robe as he scrambled up the bank.  

"One of my mentors said that God was a ritualist, always sweating the small details.   I’m not sure I always agreed with how he applied that truth, but I’m sure he would have approved of this arrangement.   Good to see you all — Ginny, there’s a room in the vestry where you can change — Mrs. Parker will show you where to put your things.   The rest of you can join me in a spot of tea before the service, if you’d like," Father Harper said, hopping over a narrow spot in the stream to reach the path leading to the door of the chapel.   The two couples followed after him, fording the stream and then walking into the chapel.   Ginny gave Harry a quick kiss before darting away towards the vestry.


To say that Ginny was distracted as she stood beside the swirling pool in front of the chapel with two other white clad candidates would be an understatement.   She was pleased to see a crowd of smiling faces on the other side of the pond, including, at the back of the crowd, the two faces she didn’t think would be able to attend, Mum and Dad, accompanied by the twins and Bill.   She gave them a small wave before returning her attention to Father Harper, who had finished with his opening comments from the centre of the pond and moved on to the reading from the Gospel, before reading the declaration of repentance in his clear, strong voice:

The Scriptures teach that all people are conceived and born with a sinful nature; and you have heard in these words of our Saviour Christ that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Holy Spirit.   The sacramental sign of the new birth is baptism.   Those who come to be baptized must affirm their allegiance to Christ and their rejection of all that displeases God.   It is your duty to fight against evil and to follow Christ.

Ginny’s concentration broke for a moment as she pondered just how much of a duty she had to fight against evil, almost missing her response to the first question.

Do you believe and trust in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us?   Do you believe and trust in his only Son Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins, rose from the dead, and is the only way to salvation?   Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who enables us to receive God’s word, repent, and believe the gospel?

This response was a lot easier, as it was a quick paraphrase of the beginning of the creed.

Do you desire to be baptized in this faith?

"Of course, that’s why I’m here," Ginny thought, before answering with the more liturgically correct, "That is my desire."

There was another prayer, which was the sign for the candidates to wade into the pool, joining Father Harper, who’d been standing in water that was up to the middle of his chest, a charmed prayer book hovering above the water beside him.   The water was bracing and cold, but as they got knee deep the warming charm cast on their baptismal robes kicked in, which made it fairly pleasant.   Ginny was the last and shortest of the candidates, which was the cause of some amusement, as Father Harper had to come forward to reach a shallower part of the pond, as she knew that where he was standing would have put her in water up to her mouth.

Ginevra Molly Weasley, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

Warming charm or not, when her head dipped backwards into the water, it was cold, but at least it washed away the tears that had begun to flow when she’d answered the third question.   She brushed the water from her face, trying to get the wisps of hair that had escaped her pony-tail out of her face when she saw two tall red-haired men in white robes at the back of the crowd.   They looked oddly familiar.   She broke away from staring at them when Father Harper presented each candidate with a small brass cross, slipping it over their head before tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads.

We receive you into Christ’s congregation and sign you with the sign of the cross.   We pray that you will not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.   Fight bravely under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil; and continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant to the end of your life.   Amen.

Looking back at the crowd, Ginny saw the two men each give her a thumbs-up sign before they winked out of sight.


The service ended with another blessing from Father Harper, which was followed by a moment of silence, which in turn was followed by a burst of conversation, most of which was directed as congratulations to the three newly baptized members of the church.   Harry waited a moment for the crowd to clear before he sidled up next to Ginny, who pivoted to throw her arms around him.

"Oh, Harry, that was incredible — our children are going to do this!" Ginny gushed.

Harry didn’t answer, in part because he hadn’t expected to embrace Ginny until after she’d had a chance to dry off, and in part because he was reading the expression on Molly Weasley’s face as she stood behind Ginny.

"Harry, dear, let me dry you off," Molly said while casually casting a drying charm on Harry and then Ginny.   "Ginny, darling, isn’t it a bit premature to be planning things for your children, or do you have good news to spring on me?" she asked sweetly.   Ginny’s face paled for a moment.

"Uh, not yet, Mum," Ginny said, reaching for the towel that Harry had proffered from her bag.

"If I might have your attention please," Father Harper bellowed, "before Evensong tonight, there will be a reception in the undercroft that starts as soon as you lot can make it into the chapel."

"Come along, Molly," Arthur said, taking his wife’s arm.   "We’ll see you kids later."

Ginny slipped her hand into Harry’s, thankful that she could express this bit of affection openly while covertly opening up a link for touchtalk.

Is Mum thinking what I think she’s thinking?

Which would be?

That I’m preggers?



Might be because you’ve never mentioned having children with me before.   I caught her thoughts loud and clear before she dried me off; she didn’t appear to be too upset.

Oh, well, I suppose we’re going to get it when we get back to the Burrow when the holiday begins.

You’re going to get it; I’m going back to Privet Drive.

"Since when?" Ginny asked aloud.

"Since July," Harry replied looking away.   "The price for getting away early this summer was that I had to return to Privet Drive to renew the protection from the blood magic.   Off-hand, I’d say it was worth it though."

"How’s that?" Ginny asked.

"If I hadn’t spent August at the Burrow, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with you," Harry replied.

"Think not?" Ginny asked, her eyes twinkling.

"Well, not as early — nothing propinks like propinquity you know," he said.

"Did Hermione tell you that?" Ginny inquired.

"Nah, it was something that stuck in my brain when I was reading one of Dudley’s cast-off books," Harry replied.

"Well, you’ll be missing something, ‘cause Mum gives a great talk — I know all of them by heart," she said, screwing up her face into a fair approximation of Molly’s expression.   "Harry, dear, when a Wizard and a Witch love each other very much, they get married, and after that, and I do mean only after that, they do very special things together."

"Keep going, this is something I obviously missed growing up with the Dursleys," Harry said.


Breakfast the next day was much like any other Sunday at Hogwarts, the great hall was filled with a small number of students, mostly from the lower years. The students in the upper years usually chose to sleep in.   Hermione, of course, was an exception to this generalization.   She went to breakfast because she was an early riser pretty much throughout the year, and because she wanted to keep a prefectural eye on the younger students, and because she studied on Sundays after breakfast, so the time before breakfast was when she did something that didn’t involve studying.   She normally wrote her parents a letter on Sunday mornings, but she’d done that last night after kissing Ron good night, so this morning she was reading a favourite book of poetry — romantic poetry.

"’ow do I love zee? Let me count ze wayz," Ron said in a terrible French accent behind her. "I love zee to the depf and bweapf and height my zoul can reach, when feelink out of zight for de ents of Being and ideal Graze."

"Ronald, I happen to like that poem, and Browning was as English as I am, not French," Hermione said, pulling herself up straight.   "Do you know the rest of it?"

"Of course," Ron replied.   "It was one of Mum’s favourites.   ‘I love thee to the level of every day's most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.  I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love with a passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.’   She had me, actually, right up to the last line, I mean, really, how can someone love you better after they’re dead?"

Hermione pondered this, surprised by this sudden revelation from her boyfriend.   "I’ll let you know if I ever get a chance to talk to Lily Potter," she replied, picking up her cup of tea.

"Well, yeah, there is that, I guess, but normally I don’t see someone loving you better after they’re dead, that’s my point I guess," Ron said, sitting down with a plop into the seat beside her.   "Where’s Harry?"

"Harry is at church, with Ginny," Hermione replied.

"Didn’t he get enough of that yesterday?" Ron asked.

Hermione smiled.   "Apparently not; Ginny said that the Bishop of London was coming to the chapel in Hooper for a confirmation service," Hermione answered.

"Bit far, idnit?" Ron said, biting into a wedge of toast that he’d pilfered from her plate.

"According to Ginny, the Bishop of London seems to supervise the chapels staffed by the Greyfriars," Hermione said, closing her book of poetry.

"So they’re not part of the Church of Scotland?" Ron asked.

"No," Hermione answered forcefully.   "First off, the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, and the Greyfriars are an Anglican order under the Church of England.   The Anglicans in Scotland are the Scottish Episcopal Church, but the Greyfriars have nothing to do with them.   I don’t pretend to understand Christian politics in Britain."  

"You seem pretty current on it though," Ron said, getting up to load his own plate.   "Where did the Grangers go to church when you were growing up?"

"We didn’t," Hermione replied icily.

"I thought you said your Mum was Catholic or something," Ron said.

"She was, sort of, but she stopped going to church when she left home for college.   She met Dad at the Uni when they were in graduate school," Hermione explained.

"And your Dad?" Ron asked.

"Dad was raised Jewish, but he doesn’t go to services or anything," Hermione said with a sigh.

"So that makes you half-Jewish?" Ron asked.

"NO!   It makes me nothing at all!" Hermione hissed.   "You’re only Jewish if your mum was a Jew — you’re only Catholic if you’re baptized Catholic, which I wasn’t.   Growing up I was ‘the girl without any religion at all,’ which wasn’t very comfortable some of the time, I assure you."

"So is this why you got all huffy with me last week?" Ron said, his expression softening.

"I’m sorry Ron," Hermione said, leaning over to rest her forehead on his shoulder.   "It’s still a sore point from growing up."

"No worry here," Ron replied, "the Weasleys are as un-churched as they come — excepting Ginny, now, I guess."

"When I was a little girl I remember going to a Christmas Eve service with Mum’s family.   I was probably all of five.   I turned around in the pew and said in a very loud voice to the family sitting behind us: ‘Daddy doesn’t believe in God and Mummy’s not sure’ which, of course, was heard by everyone in the church," Hermione recounted.   "I thought that if it was true, it must be perfectly proper to share, which Mum explained to me later was not the case."

"Did they ask you back to church after that?" Ron asked, slipping his arm around his girlfriend.

"No, surprisingly," Hermione said with a short laugh.  

Breakfast, after that, was spent volleying embarrassing stories from their respective childhoods, after which they went for a walk, during which Ron recited at length the poems he’d learned as a child.

As a child he’d never appreciated the poems, but now, as an almost adult, he discovered that they were truly useful for setting the mood with his girlfriend, proving once again that Molly had prepared him well for life in the magical world.


They didn’t see Harry and Ginny again until dinner time, when they came strolling into the great hall wearing cloaks, indicating that they’d just come in from the out-of-doors, where it was snowing lightly.

"Well, good of you to grace us with your presence," Ron said to Harry as he sat down.   "Where’d you go after church?"

"We went out to lunch with the bishop and his wife," Harry replied.

"The bishop of London doesn’t have a wife," Hermione said.

"Very good, two points for Gryffindor," Harry said.   "Bishop Chartres wasn’t able to make it, so he asked one of his bishop friends to fill in for him."

"Who was that?" Hermione asked.

"Dunno, I’m terrible with names.   Do you remember, Ginny?" Harry asked.

"Of course," Ginny said, rolling her eyes.   "It was Doctor Carey."

"Bishop Carey?" Hermione asked, her voice rising in pitch and volume.

"Uh huh," Ginny replied, scooping up some mashed potatoes for her plate.

"Who’s Bishop Carey?" Ron asked, grabbing the bowl of mashed potatoes after Ginny.

"He’s the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ronald" Hermione replied.

"Is that important?" Ginny asked innocently.

"Oh no, it’s nothing at all like going out to luncheon with the Queen," Hermione replied.

"Oh," Ginny replied.   "Well, I guess we’ll have to do that after Boxing Day, what do you say, Harry?"

"I say that you should stop teasing my sister.   Hey Ron, pass me the potatoes, will you?" Harry said with a disarming grin.

"Are you really going to have lunch with the Queen?" Ron asked.

"Oh, Ron, honestly," Hermione huffed.


Copyright © 2006 — J. E. Cornell — all rights reserved.

Author’s notes: well, I finally managed to wrestle the time to finish this chapter, which has been in the works for a long, long time.   A cyber-cookie for the reader who can place the propinquity quote in its proper context.

Many thanks to Runsamok, my new Beta, and thanks to Sherry, who made this possible.  

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