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It is Thursday.

Ginny wakes to sunlight stabbing at her from above and George’s lumpy couch stabbing at her from below. Her body is one big bruise. After winning the biggest game of her career and the week-long after-party in the wake of the Quidditch World Cup, her blood is at least half alcohol and her muscles are screaming at her. Almost as loudly as her nutritionist will in two weeks when the team reconvenes. To stave off the lecture, Ginny forces herself off the couch and into the kitchen. Although she’s somewhere between nauseous and starving, Ginny has never said no to food.

George’s kitchen is a cross between a potions laboratory and takeout depository. The whole apartment has a sharp, acrid smell that gets worse once you step into the kitchen. Ginny would complain, but her own apartment is hardly better, especially after Harry moved out. If only she’d inherited her mother’s cooking skills. The cooling cabinet is larger than the usual domestic unit, higher than Ginny is tall and two meters deep, and Ginny steps inside to see if there’s anything immediately edible. Close to the door, there’s a pile of takeout containers, one apple, and a bottle of some foreign butterbeer. All but one of the takeout containers go into the trash. It’s not her kitchen but mold is mold. The one on top is dated only from a few days ago and from the Leaky, so she digs in with enthusiasm. The butterbeer is golden in the bottle. It tastes weird and causes tingles down her throat and her spine.

As she properly wakes up, Ginny realizes that it might not actually be butterbeer, but by that point it’s all gone.

Oh, well. She’ll can panic later if there are any ill effects. After a childhood spent dodging the twins’ pranks and experiments, Ginny isn’t easily panicked. She grabs her broomstick from where it had rolled halfway under the couch, leaves a note for George, and presses a kiss to Fred’s portrait.

From there, it’s to Luna’s cottage. It’s been too long since she’s been able to manage a visit. With the special hell that had been the training leading to the World Cup, and then the meetings and parties after, she hasn’t seen her best friend as much as she’d like. Luna had been there at the World Cup, cheering in the stands with Ginny’s parents, and before that, she’d visited Ginny’s apartment to rid it of its nargle infestation and entice Ginny into taking a break from training. It’s always been too easy for Ginny to get caught up in quidditch, but Luna is her dearest friend. Luna has never mentioned it, never even hinted that it had bothered her, but Ginny’s made sure that she’ll live the rest of her life making sure her first year at Hogwarts doesn’t repeat itself. She refuses to forget all about her best friend and get too caught up in her own life.

She’d even managed a proper balance in the year she dated Harry. It helped that Harry had his own friendships that pulled him away. Usually with Ron and Hermione, but also with George. The entire Weasley clan gave their time to help him out whether George wanted it or not. Harry was important to her—still is, a year after the breakup she simply considers him family—but Luna is... Luna. She’s indescribable.

No one answers when Ginny knocks on the door, as usual. Ginny tests the doorknob and finds it opens under her hand. She’d remind Luna about locking the door if it weren’t useless. Luna’s never been a believer in privacy, and neither would just anyone wander so deep into the Forbidden Forest if they weren’t already looking for the Lovegood cottage. Ginny ends up finding her friend out in the back, bandaging the wing of a thestral whose head barely reaches to waist height.

“You are doing magnificently,” Luna’s saying as Ginny inches closer, her voice softer than usual. It brings a smile to Ginny’s face. Even the thestral is partial to her, knocking its head gently against Luna’s hand. “I bet you’re an expert on the forest. You must be a year old now, am I right? Have you seen any blibbering humdingers among your travels? It’s just the right season for them to swarm the trees. I hope they haven’t been bothering you.” Once the bandage is tied, Luna murmurs a spell, then runs her hand over the young thestral’s wing. “The bandage will disappear tomorrow, and by then, your wing should be fine. If it isn’t, please come back.” She glances back, smiling widely at Ginny. “Ginny, this is my new friend. New friend, this is Ginny. She’s an old friend.”

“The oldest friend,” Ginny agrees, smiling back. She doesn’t step any closer, not wanting to frighten the creature. She’s never had much of a knack with them, no matter how hard she tried. It’s Luna who adores magical creatures, whether they’re widely known or mostly in her head, and she’d taken one of Hagrid’s advertised jobs for help in revitalizing the Forbidden Forest after a year of rampage by Death Eaters. She’d been the only one to move into the forest, but no one should have expected any differently.

“Of my human friends.” Luna removes her hand from the thestral and it takes a few moments to sniff at the surroundings, then grabs a bone from the ground and scampers off. “I’ll check on the herd tonight. It’s a big forest and he’s so very little.”

“Want me to come with you?”

“Of course,” Luna replies. “I always want your company. Hi, Ginny.”

Ginny gives into the urge and hugs her tightly. “Hi, Luna.” It may be Ginny’s dream to be one of the best players in the league, but at the end of the day, the dreams that flow through her head during sleep are of quiet moments here. Luna’s been her comfort, her safe harbor, for years. It just took Ginny a long time to piece it together. She’s still not sure of how to broach the topic, but for now, she can just say, “I’ve missed you.”

“You should thank the moon frogs. They reunite friends whenever they can, you know.”

“Can I thank them through you?”

“It’ll do. They’re very happy for you.”

“I’m happy for me, too.”

“You are. You’re glowing. Why are you glowing?”

“I’m not pregnant,” Ginny blurts out. It’s the only association she has with that phrase and she is not. There’s no possibility of it unless some asshole was messing around with long-range fertility magic during the party, and that’s not the type of thing you do at a quidditch party. She pulls away to give Luna a questioning look.

Luna simply shrugs. “You don’t see it.”

And that’s the usual state of things—Ginny doesn’t see a lot of things. She’s never been sure of how much Luna actually sees, but it doesn’t matter. All her life, she’s been cursing and punching people who make fun of her friend. Ginny isn’t ever going to ignore or belittle her friend. If Luna says she’s glowing, then she is. Maybe she’s glowing on the astral plane, and the moon frogs are being lured in by her shine. “Is it a bad glow?”

“It’ll fade,” Luna assures her, sidestepping the question. “Come on. I baked lemon cookies.”

Her nutritionist will definitely have a fit. Ginny doesn’t care. She eats half a dozen cookies while Luna tells her about everything that’s been happening in the forest since the last time Ginny was here. Something is always happening in the Forbidden Forest. A few years ago, Ginny would have said it was something bad. She’s had too many experiences with the more dangerous creatures. But Luna tells her about the new merperson settlement that’s being planned in the Black Lake as soon as the two mer communities settle on the details, about how a new unicorn was born and how it is the first foal born since Voldemort murdered half the horde, about the mandrake field that is flourishing. Hagrid and Luna are close as old friends now, so Luna tells her the newest on Hagrid’s brother, who’s getting married. Giant marriage customs are fascinating to Luna, while human marriage has rarely piqued her interest.

It’s not that Ginny is rushing toward the altar, no matter how often her mum hints about grandchildren. It’s just that it would be nice to have a sign. 

In the early evening, they fly out across the forest. They aren’t able to find the thestral group. Luna isn’t worried about it, saying that they’ve survived without her help for years and will survive long after she’s gone, so Ginny doesn’t worry either. She doesn’t want to leave even as evening turns to night. Her apartment is cold and lonely when she arrives. She takes a shower and collapses onto her bed. At the very least it’s not a lumpy couch.

*

Ginny wakes up on a lumpy couch.

Her body is again one big bruise, and she has no idea what is wrong with the universe. She’d been happy to get away from this particular couch yesterday. And now here she is, groaning as she massages her left shoulder. This couch is out to kill her.

Tempus,” she murmurs.

It is Thursday.

Again.

There’s no possibility that she imagined all of yesterday. Ginny doesn’t hallucinate, no matter how much she drinks, and yesterday was too vivid to be anything but real. She remembers the smell of the thestral’s blood, the wind in her hair, the sun shining against Luna’s hair. It’s no fantasy, no dream. Were it a dream, there would have been more kissing going on. And no hurt thestrals, because Ginny may not love creatures, but she hates to see them hurt.

“George!” she hollers without getting off the couch. “Get out here and explain yourself!”

From the bedroom comes a muffled, “Fuck off!”

But despite his words, George seems to be getting out of bed. The walls are thin and she hears him shuffling about and pulling something on. Ginny herself sits up at least, trying to find a comfortable position on the couch from hell. When George seems to be taking a while, she gets up and opens the cooling cabinet. The bottle is gone. She eats the takeout again. It hadn’t given her food poisoning yesterday, so it’s fair game.

When the bedroom door opens, Ginny turns around, ready to question George about what exactly was in that bottle.

Except it’s not George who steps out.

Alright, maybe now she’s hallucinating.

“I can explain,” Harry says, sheepish and wearing George’s lazing-around-the-apartment robe. It’s not something Ginny thought she would ever have to see.

Despite the shock of him being there, his bedhead is familiar, and it fills her with a fond sort of nostalgia as she remembers some of the best times she’d woken up next to him. It hadn’t worked out and by now, her feelings have long since settled into something part friendship, part family, but she’ll always remember. Ginny slurps up the rest of the noodles on her fork and says, “Not the explanation I wanted, but I’ll take it.”

“Wait, what?” Harry asks, sitting down across from her.

“What?” Ginny says, shrugging. “So, you and George.”

“Me and George,” Harry agrees. “Kind of. I guess. I mean...” He ducks his head, runs a hand through his hair. It only makes his bedhead worse. He’s smiling, though, and he looks the kind of happy that Ginny hasn’t seen on him in a while. Looking up, he just says, “It’s new. We weren’t expecting you last night.”

“Me neither,” Ginny admits, kind of embarrassed as she remembers stumbling out of George’s fireplace. “I was aiming for my apartment. I feel like one of those don’t floo drunk advertisements.”

“Didn’t your team do a series of them?”

“That was for drunk-apparating,” Ginny says, holding her head high. Definitely not the same thing. One is liable to get you killed, the other is only embarrassing and might lead you to end up at your brother’s. “At least I didn’t land in the Burrow by accident. Or, Merlin, Percy’s.” She shudders. At least her mum knows what it’s like to let go for a bit. Ginny has many memories of her parents being tipsy on eggnog during the holidays, more now that all the kids are grown and the grandkids haven’t arrived yet. Percy, on the other hand, would lecture her for hours. He’d be all self-righteous and concerned and start owling her to remind her of the promises he’d manage get out of her during the lecture. “Thanks for not turning me away.”

“We’re family,” Harry says. He always says the word so deliberately, so carefully, that Ginny wants to hug him each time she hears him say the words.

She doesn’t, so as not to embarrass him, but she tries to convey everything she feels with her eyes. Harry’s one of her best friends. She wants him to be happy. Harry’s had too much unhappiness in his life to frown about something that should make him happy. She never wants to see him be embarrassed or nervous about who he’s dating. And if he’s dating anyone, it may as well be a Weasley. This way, Ginny doesn’t have to wave around her muscles and mention her curse repertoire. George already knows it all.

“‘Course we are,” Ginny agrees. “And at least it’s not Ron.”

“Why would you even say that,” Harry whimpers. “Ron is my best friend. I would never.”

“Luna’s my best friend,” Ginny counters, then stops, realizing she hadn’t quite meant to admit that she doesn’t think of her best friend in the same way Harry does his. Oh, well. “And I would.”

By the time George makes his way out of bed, she and Harry have finished off the last edible bits of takeout together. Ginny throws the apple at him, which she’d kindly left for her brother to eat, and starts listing off her symptoms. It’s pretty easy, as there’s only one major one: the slight inability to perceive the passage of time. It’s her second Thursday of the week. At Ginny’s explanation, George blanches and heads for the cooling cabinet, where he doesn’t find the bottle that Ginny knows he must be looking for.

“Whatever it was, it was in a bottle of butterbeer,” Ginny says, crossing her arms.

George isn’t sympathetic. “In my apartment. Don’t worry, it’s not fatal.” He pulls out his wand and runs a diagnostic spell. “Definitely not fatal.”

“Happy to hear it. What’s happening? Am I imagining things? Am I in St. Mungo’s in a coma? Are you sure this isn’t some brain thing that means that I’m one step away from dying?” It all bursts out of her in a stream of words. Ginny hadn’t even realized she’d been so worried, but now she knows she is, and terribly. This isn’t normal, not at all, even by the usual standards of George’s experiments.

“Hey, come on,” George says, his tone exactly the one he’d used on her when she was a kid and crying about the cuts and bruises that came from falling off her broom. “I’d never permanently harm my baby sister.” He huffs at Ginny’s glare, and adds, “Trust me. I’m an expert.”

“In what?” Ginny asks.

“The art of pranking. This may not have been a deliberate prank, but you can’t say you’re not having at least a little fun. Just imagine all that you can do until the effects wear off. I was experimenting with time dust—you know, the kind in time turners—and you have about half a time turner in you right now. The dust should fade away on its own in a few days. You already have less than was in that bottle. All you have to do is relax and enjoy your Friday.”

“It’s Thursday,” Harry says, helpfully.

“It’s always a Friday here,” George replies.

Ginny sighs. Loudly.

George shrugs. “It’ll teach you not to go through my cooling cupboard.”

“Can it teach you to separate your food and your experiments?” she asks without much hope.

Surprisingly, Harry backs her up, though not entirely because he’s concerned for Ginny’s health. “I can help you sort things out. I’m not sure I want to be repeating days myself by accident.”

“You won’t be. I’ll need to beg the Unspeakable department to even hand over some more dust,” George says. He sounds like he’s in mourning. “So much paperwork.” He gives Ginny a scrutinizing glance. “Maybe...”

“Nope,” Ginny says. She jumps off her kitchen stool. “My body, my dust. Finders keepers.” She does not plan to spend her day being bored out of her mind while George pokes and prods at her in an attempt to get the dust out. “See you at Mum’s next week?”

“We’ll be there,” George says.

We, already. Ew, Ginny thinks, but she doesn’t mean it. “Harry, if you ever want to upgrade, Charlie’s still available.”

“I’m fine where I am,” Harry replies, grinning at George, who’s pretending to gag.

The last thing Ginny sees before she apparates out of the flat is Harry leaning in to kiss George, his green eyes more than a little lovesick. Ginny’s happy for them, but it leaves her feeling wistful. It’s been a while since she’s had that sort of easy intimacy with someone, even longer since she’s been happily in love. The feelings she has now are too bittersweet to properly indulge in the all-encompassing feeling of love. If she could be sure that Luna would return them, then it would be another story.

By the time she arrives at Luna’s cottage, the thestral is gone. Luna is still in the back garden, her eyes closed as she balances on a large stone. Ginny walks around the cottage this time and comes to a stop next to Luna.

“Hi,” Ginny says, and shrieks as Luna wordlessly falls into her arms. Quidditch-toned muscles are the only thing that keeps them from both falling onto the ground. Ginny sets Luna onto the ground, breathing out, “Luna.”

“Ginny,” Luna replies back. She pokes at Ginny’s arm. “You’re very strong.”

“Thanks.”

“You’ll be a great help with pulling up mandrakes. It’s their time to be free.”

“Thanks,” Ginny says again, all put-upon, but she can’t hold her face like that for long around Luna. “We’re using earmuffs, right?”

“Unfortunately.” Luna sounds genuinely unhappy about being forced to protect her ears from damage.

Ginny doesn’t have particularly good memories of mandrakes, but it’s been nine years since her first year at Hogwarts, when she’d unwittingly caused the mandrakes to be needed. These little guys will be chopped up for potions ingredients—or whatever people do with mandrakes, Ginny became a quidditch player specifically so that she’d never be quizzed on potions again—for a new generation of students, ones who will never fear the basilisk’s stare.

“Is the thestral alright?” Ginny asks.

“He will be,” Luna says, happily. “He’ll heal better with his herd.” Her brow furrows, and she looks at Ginny with askance. “Did the nargles tattle on him?”

“No, it’s only that it’s my second Thursday this week. I’m in a time loop. It’s all George’s fault.” Growing up with six older brothers taught her to throw them under a whomping willow at every possible opportunity. “I drank one of his ingredients by accident.”

“Oh,” Luna says. “You are very glowy.”

“I still have no idea what you’re talking about.” Ginny pokes at her freckled arm, trying to find a hint of glow. She doesn’t feel or look like she’s glowing. Not like Luna, who’s beautiful under the sunlight’s shine. “Do you still have those lemon cookies?”

After tea, they take the rest of the cookies to the mandrake field, where Ginny gets her hands dirty in ways that don’t involve crashing to the ground of the quidditch pitch. Neville joins them partway through, appearing without warning to both Luna and Ginny’s surprise. He only needs a few mandrakes for his newest project, but he helps them with the rest of the field. He’s much faster at the job than either of them. Ginny is pants at the whole thing, always has been at herbology, and Luna likes to talk to each individual mandrake like those little things can understand her.

Ginny hopes they can’t. They’re creepy enough as they are, they don’t need to be sentient on top of it all.

Neville joins them for cookies and staring up at the sky. Upon eating the last cookie, Ginny almost hopes she wakes up on George’s couch again, since it’ll mean more cookies tomorrow. Maybe she can get the recipe from Luna sometime. It will sit on her kitchen counter for a year until Ginny manages to bake those cookies herself, but still.

They can’t find the thestral herd.

Again, Ginny heads home.

*

It is Thursday.

To be honest, Ginny wasn’t expecting any differently. She yawns, gets off the couch, and grabs her broom. Ignoring George’s cooling cabinet—she’s sick of that takeout—Ginny knocks on George’s bedroom door.

“I love and accept both of you!” she yells.

“Go away!” her brother yells back. And then, quieter, “Thanks, Gin.”

Ginny doesn’t stick around to explain how she knows that Harry’s there with him. She leaves for Luna’s cottage and arrives early enough to watch the thestral appear on Luna’s porch, hesitant and hurt. It’s a sweet little thing, snuffling into Luna’s side as she wraps the bandages. It doesn’t bite her even once. (Ginny is perhaps too used to Hagrid’s creatures and the evil chickens she had to feed at the Burrow.) Slowly, carefully, Ginny reaches over to pat its head. Maybe it’s a descendant of one of the thestrals that Ginny and the others rode to the ministry during her fourth year. She realizes all over again the surprising warmth of the thestral’s body heat and its leathery skin.

After, she and Luna go inside for tea, and Luna doesn’t propose getting their hands dirty. Ginny brings it up anyway. “No mandrakes today?”

Luna shakes her head. “They can wait. We can still say hi to Neville.”

This time it’s Ginny’s turn to look at Luna with questions in her eyes. “Do you remember yesterday?” Because Neville’s visit had been unplanned, spur of the moment. Luna had been as surprised as Ginny.

“I don’t remember, but the nargles do,” Luna explains, pouring herself another cup of tea. Ginny hasn’t asked what’s in this blend; last time, she’d regretted finding out. It tastes good, sweet and just a little tart, and that’s enough for her. “They tell me things sometimes.”

That doesn’t tell Ginny anything. Maybe it’s nargles, maybe it’s Luna’s proximity to the time dust in Ginny’s body. She’s been around Luna for each of her Thursdays. Or maybe it’s just magic at play, and Luna has always been the most magical person Ginny’s known. It’s possible that she’s biased.

Ginny glances at the clock. “Come on, let’s go freak Neville out by staring right at him when he apparates in.”

Luna is delighted to join in her mischief. Neville is less so. His forgiveness is earned through cookies and gossip that Neville may claim he doesn’t care about, but listens to avidly. Ginny always has the best gossip from the quidditch league. Who’s hooking up with who, who’s hooking who up with what, who’s in a cycle of hilarious bad decisions. Ginny’s the youngest on the team. She hasn’t been there long enough to have all the for the old drama, but it’s enough to entertain. Luna and Neville are safe to talk to; neither of them would repeat it or start rumors themselves. Neville might tell Hannah, but Hannah is a repository of gossip all by herself, what with working at the Leaky.

They find thestral tracks but not the herd itself.

Ginny lingers as long as she can, then heads home.

*

It is Thursday.

She eats the takeout again this time.

It’s not like it’s any older than it was the first time around. 

It strikes her that she’s spent each day doing nearly the same thing, and that each day her work is undone, but she doesn’t feel unfulfilled. It doesn’t feel like she’s wasting her time. Luna’s section of the forest is so peaceful. Ginny hasn’t seen a unicorn yet, but she’s hopeful. It feels like every day there’s something new to discover, some new conversation to strike up with her friend. Something new to find terribly attractive about Luna.

Give it another week and she’ll miss her job. She can’t have the adrenaline of quidditch and the peace of the forest at the same time, but she can drop by more often, if Luna doesn’t mind.

“We already searched the north side,” Ginny says as they head out in search for the herd. “Or whatever side that way is.” She points. “And that way. And that way.”

Luna hums and spins around. Ginny follows her. Luna’s hair is getting long. Ginny cut her own at the beginning of the season—just because hair-pulling is banned on the pitch doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get in the way in other ways, hair pinning charms or no—and she misses the length as much as she marvels at the lightness and softness of her short hair. There’s a green vine braided into a few locks of Luna’s hair, trailing all the way down the the tips, where it blooms in a small red flower.

The darker it gets, the less Ginny can see, and she almost walks into her friend when Luna abruptly stops at the edge of the forest where it meets the Black Lake.

“Oh,” Ginny murmurs, peering out from behind her, then stepping around Luna. The thestrals have gathered at the water’s edge, their bottom halves submerged as they frolic in the water, cleaning themselves and drinking from the lake. The younger ones splash each other with their wings. She can pick out Luna’s thestral immediately. The bandage hasn’t faded yet, and the thestral is standing in shallow waters with a larger thestral who’s carefully grooming the younger one. “Is the bandage water-safe?”

“It is,” Luna promises. “He’ll be just fine.”

She takes Ginny’s hand, threading their fingers together, and tugs her to sit down on the trunk of a fallen tree. They watch the thestrals until it gets so dark that they can barely see them, and the herd leaves for wherever they’ve made their home. There used to be a time when Ginny couldn’t see thestrals at all. It feels so far away, when in reality it’s only been a few years since she saw someone die. And then another, and then another. A year of war, of death, of worrying about Luna because she’d been taken and Ginny couldn’t find her. All she could do was help the people she could help and dream of better days.

And here they are, in the midst of those better days, and Ginny’s so grateful to be here. She and Luna talk quietly as the head back toward the cottage, still hand in hand. Ginny blames it on the darkness, on the fact that she really will trip without Luna’s help. 

“You’re not glowing anymore,” Luna remarks in the soft light of the cottage.

Ginny breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank Merlin. I hope that means tomorrow will be Friday.” She bites her lip, glancing out at the night outside. “I should go.”

“Okay,” Luna agrees. “If you have to.”

And she does. She can’t just stay, not when there are so many things she wants to say, things that threaten to tip the scales of their easy balance of friendship. Ginny turns around, intending to apparate, but her feet stay on Luna’s wooden floorboards instead of hitting the pattern of Ginny’s floors. She’s done this every day, every single Thursday, and she’s sick of it.

She’s a Gryffindor. More importantly, she’s a Weasley, and she has survived everything that life has thrown at her, everything that tried to break her. Honesty won’t break her. Neither will it break their friendship. Ginny won’t allow it. And then she turns around again, facing Luna, who’s still watching her. “Can I spend Friday with you? I don’t really want to leave,” Ginny admits. “I never do. I keep going back to my apartment and waking up on George’s stupid couch, and all I want to do is be here instead. I want—” She stops, and she can feel the red on her cheeks.

Luna’s hand is cool from the night’s chill, but her gesture can only be warm as she cups Ginny’s cheek and kisses her. “The nargles tattled,” Luna tells her, smiling. She kisses her again. “I want, too.”

Ginny resolves to thank the nargles properly in whatever way Luna says is best. Later, much later.

*

Ginny wakes up.

It is Friday.

She rolls over, snuggling into Luna’s side, and goes back to sleep.