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HP Western

Yeah this is weird I know, but give it a go. I tried to do it justice and this was my first AU fic ever. So be kind if any get around to reading it ;)

Fire Whiskey for the Pain

A/N: Please forgive me. A plot bunny in a cowboy hat and duster held me at wand point until I started typing. Don’t ask. It wasn’t pretty.

The dust was thick on the ground and in the hot dry wind tumbleweeds rolled down the one street of this one broom town. The sun was beginning to sink on the hazy horizon. Another night was falling, swift as a thestral’s flight. A red haired witch, with too much wisdom for her years, sat in front of a fine French vanity that was out of place in the world where she lived. But there were many things in her chambers that were not usually found in the small stagecoach stop towns that had sprung up in the West. There was, for instance, the talking mirror that would beg her to tighten her corset just a little more, a gorgeous barn owl that hooted dolefully at her from its perch, a cauldron bubbling in the corner and the fact that she had just slipped her wand down the front of her corset to be hidden by the swell of her breasts. She rose after she finished applying the potions and spells that would keep her beautiful to her patrons throughout the long evening. She would do her best to smile at them all and guide her employees, her girls as most called them, through the myriad of wizarding patrons; and she would try her best not to look to the doors every time they swung open.

Miss Ginny straightened the brazen red silk of her low cut and high hemmed robes, walked down the bare floor of the hallway, and then she began her nightly flounce down the rough wooden staircase of her saloon. She smiled ruefully as she surveyed her usual patrons and her girls flitting between them. She hadn’t always been a Madame, but she found the job oddly suited her. Her mother had always warned her of the hazards of becoming a Scarlet Woman, but the plain truth was it was a rather profitable career choice and she remained her own woman. Her body might have belonged to others for a short time, and her heart had been irrevocably stolen by one wizard long ago; but her mind was her own, as was this saloon.

“I’ve got to go. This is something I have to do alone.”

“I won’t stop you.”

“I’ll come back to you as I can, but…”

“It can’t be more than this, now. I know.”


Miss Ginny tightened her mental reins to push that voice back to the corner of her mind where she tried so hard to keep it. She needed her wits about her; she had a business to run. Having the only Wizarding Saloon (and brothel) in this rugged frontier world was quite the achievement. Miss Ginny had all the connections that she needed to keep the Fire Whiskey flowing, and had even managed to procure a few freed House Elves to keep things running smoothly. Her girls were well trained in the Scarlet Arts and some of them (including her) had become the stuff of legends, spoken of with desperate longing around the campfires of wizards making their lives out of this desolate land.

A vision of emerald eyes reflecting firelight appeared in her mind against her will. She would not think of him, she would not wonder where he was tonight. She could not linger on the fact that those eyes had seen the shred of innocence and purity that remained in her. She would not stop to think what would happen to her; to everyone she knew if those green eyes were to close forever. She would not allow it; she had proved that she was stronger than that.

At that moment, a rather wealthy and boisterous wizard opened the swinging doors and looked around the room. Miss Ginny caught the eye of one of her best girls, one that she knew this wizard would favor, and silently commanded Lavender to the gentleman at the door. Mr. Finnegan was a good connection to have, and a good one to keep happy as it was his family who kept the Irish Fire Whiskey flowing into this near forgotten part of the wizarding world. Lavender had been a favorite of Miss Ginny’s youngest brother for a time. But Lavender had to console herself with the Fire Whiskey baron when Ron had taken a liking to the schoolmarm. Well, it was more like Ron had realized what Miss Ginny had know for years; that he had been taken with the bookish Miss Granger since she had Portkeyed into town laden with suitcases of books a few years ago.

Miss Ginny’s youngest older brother, Ron, had become the local Broomsmith. He built himself a cabin just outside of town in a beautiful hollow near a stream. He had a large shed out back where he worked on every kind of broom imaginable and fashioned a few of his own. Ron had built a broom that could outstrip a horse at full gallop, and was working on one to race against a thestral. Miss Ginny had Apparated there on many a sun filled afternoon, only to find the school mistress and her brother sitting in the shade of a large tree. On occasion, she would find him there with her brother and Miss Granger as well. Often they would be ensconced at Ron’s small kitchen table, drinking coffee out of her mother’s second best china. (Her mother had sent it in hopes that Ron would think about settling down.) Their deep conversation would often stop at her approach, and he would smile at her, conjure another chair and pour a cup for her.

He had still done that, even after. Still offered her a chair, still let her sit down and drink coffee like a respectable woman, rather than the whore that she was. Back when she was just Miss Weasley, she had been seduced by a Dark Wizard, violated and tarnished. She had thrown herself into the Scarlet Arts. It was the only option left to her then. Everyone told her that no decent wizard wanted “damaged goods”. Her brothers helped her buy the local saloon, as if by doing it they could lend some honor back to her situation. But she later discovered that there was a decent wizard who still wanted her, maybe because he too was “damaged,” oddly enough by the same Dark Wizard.

Miss Ginny gave a demure wave to Mr. Finnegan as he made his way toward the gaming tables with Lavender on his arm. Her eye caught a corner table when there was a small explosion there, but Ginny slipped her wand back down the front of her corset when she realized that it was merely her other brothers. Fred and George had procured the General Store and made their galleons selling every thing from owl treats to potion ingredients. She had worked there when they first settled here: she and Ron.

“Miss Weasley,” He had touched his hat in a gentle greeting with a worn dragon hide glove, raising it just enough to see the thin red line of a lightning bolt scar on his forehead; and she had not blushed at his kindness. She had finally realized that this quiet man, who mysteriously appeared in town only to disappear again for weeks or months, who had lost everything to Dark Wizards as a child and had been permanently scarred, was just that: a quiet man. She had smiled at him and he had been asked to dinner by her brothers, becoming their friend.

It was thanks to Fred and George, and her sister-in-law Fleur, that her girls were still dressed in the finest of French couture despite the fact that they were three months away from any decent wizarding society by owl post. Her brother Bill’s wife was the constant advisor of the twins when it came to which fabrics should be ordered, and she used her considerable skills in fashion to create the costumes that Ginny’s girls wore, as well as the tasteful garments that the rest of this small community donned every morning.

Ginny enjoyed mornings spent in Fleur’s little shop, watching her three-year-old niece Rosalie wreck havoc on her mother’s scrap pile. The small girl was a vision of beauty; her hair glowed like living gold as the Weasley red had mixed in an odd alchemy with Fleur’s silver blond. The two women would talk and laugh over coffee and Fleur’s delightful pastries. They spoke in hushed tones of the local events that were wearing at the resolve of their little community. Ginny remembered years before all this had started; a few moths after she had bought the saloon, Fleur had given her several Veela texts. Business picked up rapidly after that.

Yes, the Weasley siblings nearly ran this town. It was only because her brother Percy was the mayor, and had connections with the territory’s magical administration, that Ginny was allowed to let her business continue. Of course, it wasn’t as if the authorities at higher levels cared much what went on in this near deserted part of the territory. And it wasn’t as if Percy approved of her chosen career, he often threatened to send word back East to her parents. Her parents had been forced back East after her mother had contracted a rather nasty case of Dragon Pox. The older witch could no longer take the harsh dry desert, and she needed to be close to decent Healers. Her parents thought that Ginny worked in the shop with Fleur, just waiting for the right man to come along. And Percy’s threats were kept in check by her other brothers. They knew, what Percy did not, as he was not her confidant like they were: Ginny only saw one client now.

“How much would it be?”

“What?”

“To make sure that you are only mine?”

“I haven’t seen any other clients for a year. I am already only yours.”

“How much then?”

“You owe me nothing, well nothing you can give me now.”


And his Galleon’s, though left dutifully on her bedside table; all went directly to Miss Granger for the cost of operating the local school. It was because of him that every child had a new cauldron and spell books when they started their lessons. It was because of him that not a single child had paid for their first wand in the past five years. It was because this way, if the Dark Wizard did break into his mind, nothing would be discovered but the images of a known whore: not a lover, not a cherished woman, just a basic need filled on occasion.

“Shhh. It’s just me, Ginny.”

“There is no such thing as just you, Harry.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes you can, I’m here now.”


Miss Ginny was the only one that knew that Miss Granger got a bottle of Fire Whiskey every month, to calm her nerves in these desperate times. And Miss Granger was the only one who knew that Miss Ginny wept every time she woke in the morning only to find him gone again. They had become an odd pair in those hushed evenings in Miss Granger’s cramped quarters that were attached to the school house. The rooms had been enlarged by Miss Granger’s considerable magical talent, but only so that they could hold more books. It had now been months since she had one off those mornings where she sought out solace in her unlikely friend’s company. She tried best not to worry, he had been gone this long before, and she had never given up hope for his return.

Her only worry was that he had not taken, as was often his custom, her brother Ron with him on this journey, and he had not asked for Miss Granger’s advice on a single thing before he left. They were his closest confidants in this uncertain quest. Miss Ginny chuckled at the irony as she moved behind the bar and poured herself a stiff drink. He held her heart and they, Ron and Hermione, held his secrets.

She was startled from her bittersweet reverie by the swing of the door and the appearance of her eldest brother. Bill was the sheriff in this little town, and he looked weary. He was having a time of it marshalling deputies to take care of the ever increasing number of Dark Wizards. There had been deaths and injuries, stories abounded about the prowling of werewolves and gangs of Death Eaters mounted on thestrals burning down barns and stampeding herds of hippogriffs. Families had lost everything at the hands of these evil wizards and their leader. The frontier had never been exactly safe, but it was beginning to be damn near suicidal.

“Fire Whiskey, sis?” Bill requested of her tapping the bar with his hand. She nodded and turned to fill a tumbler for him, and set the bottle next to it at the bar. “Fleur said to tell you ‘ello.” He winked as he imitated his part-Veela and all-French wife’s accent. Ginny smiled, they had discovered long ago that it was best if Fleur did not come in to the saloon. Her part-Veela-ness threw off business something terrible.

“How’s my favorite lawman?” Ginny asked; eyeing her brother’s deeply scarred face as she tapped the Fire Whiskey bottle with her wand placing a Refilling Charm on it. It was never a good sign when her brother left the comfort of his wife to seek out a drink with his sister. He shrugged, noncommittally, and quickly glanced around. He leaned in and Ginny mirrored his movements as she whispered a Muffliato spell.

“Have you heard from you dear desperado lately?” He asked in a heavy whisper. Ginny attempted to quickly hide the disappointment on her face, aside from Ron, her brother Bill was the most likely to bring her news about him.

“No, not even a sparrow,” she answered quickly, averting her eyes from his gaze. “Why do you ask?”

“Well… muffling spell still working?” Miss Ginny nodded and Bill continued. “It seems that the Death Eaters are getting more reckless; like they don’t have much direction. Not the planned attacks like usual.”

Miss Ginny’s eyes widened in shock and she tried her best not to think of what this could mean. She tried not to think of what might be coming, she tried her best not to let that funny little thing called hope land in her breast. Instead, she took another long drink of her Fire Whiskey.

“You think?” Ginny trailed off, her gaze hardening.

“I don’t know,” Bill answered shaking his head. “Not for sure, but maybe. There is definitely something going on.”

Miss Ginny gazed around her establishment. They were short on known Dark Wizards tonight. Not a one had passed through tonight. Usually there were at least two or three who would brave the Weasley clan to partake in the delights of Miss Ginny’s girls. But they were noticeably absent this evening.

“How long?”

“I don’t know.”

“But you will finish him?”

“Or die trying.”


His words rang in her ears. They had been spoken in utter darkness as she lay in his arms, the last time.

“You don’t think they are celebrating do you?” Miss Ginny posed this to her brother in a low whisper, thinking the worst.

“I don’t know; just keep you eyes and ears out. Will you?” She nodded in response. “I best get home to Fleur and Rosalie.”

“Kiss the baby for me.” She tried to smile, and Bill gave her a weak grin as he turned to head for the door.

Miss Ginny turned back to her increasingly rowdy crowd. They had no idea that their fates could all be decided by now. She nodded two more of her girls off with the wizards of their choice and watched them as they made their way up the stairs. She had always given her girls their choice, when possible and anyone who tried to lay a hand on them without permission was hexed into the street. She cringed inwardly at the thought of what would happen to herself and her girls if things had turned from bad to worse. Being a whore was one thing, but being a slave to a Dark Wizard’s predilections was another.

The rest of the night, Miss Ginny spent in a half daze. She tried her best to keep her mind off of what Bill had said, and the all or nothing that it could have meant. She tried not to think of those green eyes and calloused hands, and if she would ever see them again, ever be touched that way again. But she carried on as best she could; there was after all a business to be run and galleons to be made.

Miss Ginny was tired; it had been a long night. She had repaired three tables and four lamps after it was found that the Creevey brothers had found a way around the Anti-Cheating Charms at the poker tables. She had only just thrown a falling-down drunk Dung Fletcher out the front door. The twins had finally said goodnight, and most of her girls had set off upstairs to do their jobs with an assortment of wizards who would be nursing hangovers in the morning and have considerably fewer galleons in their pouches.

She had sent the House Elves off to bed; she was no where near sleep herself after all she had heard. She took comfort in straightening the bottles and wiping clean the glasses herself. She wandered aimlessly around the saloon, pushing in chairs and Scourgifying tables. It was some kind of order at least, in this uncertain world. She put the fire in the great hearth out and put the locking spells on the front doors, before slipping into the back room to get the needed bottles for restocking the bar. She would do it all again tomorrow, she thought. Merlin willing, another day and night would pass. Maybe she would spend the morning with Hermione. Even the children were busy with spring planting, and school was out till they returned. Bottles of Fire Whiskey, the good stuff and the cheap, along with butter beer and Mexican Talking Head Tequila floated neatly down from shelves and out of crates into the wooden box at her feet.

With a swish and a flick, she began to levitate the full bottles out to the bar. She placed the bottles upon the shelves, each in their place, ready for the next night’s crowd. She finished the nightly restocking and surveyed her place of business. This saloon had been her freedom, given her a choice and power over her own destiny when she had felt she had none. But it had slowly over the years become her prison. She dreamed some nights, early mornings, of a day when she could walk away from this life. Save enough money to make a new start somewhere else, somewhere no one knew her past, somewhere mothers didn’t move between her and their young daughters; somewhere leering filthy wizards did not even have the right to look at her.

Miss Ginny ran her hand thoughtfully along the worn banister, and let herself indulge in the image of handing the Veela texts and the locking charms to Lavender, donning tastefully cut robes and touching a portkey away from this place. She murmured a quick charm that loosened her corset as she made her way down the hall to her rooms. She had no idea how the Muggle madams could stand running a place like this without Imperturbable Charms. She touched her wand to her hair and the ties and elaborate curls fell out, and it was again just a simple curtain of red, covering her bare shoulders. She moved her wand again, this time across her face and the masking charms that made her always look happy fell away. Some day, she hoped, there would be no need for them, maybe, someday. She opened the door to her small salon, with a flick and with the other hand tore the large earrings from her ears and the velvet choker from her neck. Feeling a bit more like herself, like just Ginny, she opened the door to her bedchamber; and froze.

There, sitting in her window seat, one dragon hide boot propped against the chair to her vanity, absent mindedly rolling a tumbler of Fire Whiskey in one hand, was a dark-haired wizard with brilliant green eyes. His hat, one of the Muggle kind, was pushed back on his head, revealing a shock of untidy black hair and a lightning blot scar. His gaze flicked up to her and then back down to the drink in his hand.

“They are starting up a new wizarding community out in the California Territory,” his voice was soft and unhurried. She saw something in his eyes that she had not seen in a very long time. He smiled. “It’s in some Muggle town called San Francisco. Seems that they’ve gotten a hold of quite a bit of Unplottable land. Enough for a nice sized Alley like the ones back East, with shops and hotels and the like. The lots are going cheap right now.” He lifted his eyes for a moment; then looked away from her questioning stare, as if he were afraid of her for some reason. “I thought maybe we could go.”

Miss Ginny moved slowly toward him. She couldn’t be sure that he was real. Maybe she was dreaming, maybe she had fallen asleep at the bar and she was dreaming. It had happened before. She shook herself as she neared him, and reached out a trembling hand. She made contact with his cheek and he put down his drink and pressed his calloused hand over hers. He turned into her touch, and kissed her palm. He was real, and it was him. He was, after all, the only person who could make it though her locking charms.

“Harry?” Her mind wanted so much to ask the question, but his name was all that came to her lips.

“It’s over.” He said simply, understanding her unspoken question. Her mind was reeling, trying to take in the powerful meaning of that short statement, trying to understand what he had been saying to her before. Their eyes were caught in a gaze of the deepest understanding as her mind clicked all the pieces into place. Harry reached out his other hand and mirrored her gesture, touching her face as she did his. “So, do you want to come with me to San Francisco? We can start over there. You know, respectable. Not like this, just Mr. and Mrs. Potter.”

Ginny gulped and nodded as she felt the hot tears flow down her cheeks; running, on one side, down the line of his hand. When his mouth met hers, she tasted her own tears, and their freedom.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
violet451
Aug. 19th, 2005 11:11 pm (UTC)
read it before, reviewing now!
Cowboys and wizards and kissing- oh my!
Great job! So, will you take them to San Fransisco?
ladytory
Aug. 19th, 2005 11:18 pm (UTC)
Re: read it before, reviewing now!
I am in the middle of another fic or three at the moment, but I may revisit this one at some point, maybe flesh out some back story and such. Thanks for leaving your review!
chibi_squirt
Feb. 7th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
I was linked in through a friend. At first I wasn't sure whether it was a deliberate parody or genuine... and now it doesn't matter. That was beautiful! Where would I find the rest of your work?
ladytory
Feb. 7th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)
You are welcome to page through my live journal here as most of my stories are in here somewhere or you can go to www.simplyundeniable.com and look up LadyTory under Authors. All of my stuff execpt my most recent story is there. My most recent is posted here and cross posted to rhr_ficrecs as it was a challenge piece.

Thanks for your kind words! I always appreciate feedback.
shocolate
Apr. 5th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
that was absolutely fabulous!

so much love for Ron falling for the schoolmarm - and Harry was perfection - and Miss Ginny the Scarlet Womann - it all works beautifully!
rdprice29
Sep. 30th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
This was awesome! I'd love to see where you could take them in SF, but it's a wonderful story even if it never gets expanded. I loved this, great job!
flyingcarpet
May. 24th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
I put this in my reading folder when you mentioned it in your journal last week, and I'm so glad I did -- I love this! "Miss Ginny" with her corsets, fire whiskey and quiet stoicism, and her single customer, the black-haired desperado, are perfect. What a great setting for them.

I always love AUs in other fandoms, but H/G is definitely lacking in this department. I wonder if you would be open to the idea of someone *cough* continuing the story in San Francisco.
ladytory
May. 25th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
Of all the people who might volunteer, I would definitely trust it in your hands. I would be honored if you wanted to take on the project!
dukebrymin
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Oh! the conflict in my soul. This was an incredibly well-done fic. The atmosphere was brilliant, the quiet desperation of Ginny's life was presented perfectly. I loved the ending--Harry's off-kilter proposal, knowing that Ginny would accept, and the hope for the future. All of this was wonderful.

The conflict comes in because of my personal desires. In my world, Ginny and Harry are always and forever the only ones for each other--they never have other partners, Ginny would never have given up her innocence to anyone else (I know she was beguiled by a Dark Wizard, but I always prefer to believe that though Riddle hurt her mentally and emotionally, he never touched her physically), and she would have been able to remain true to Harry at all times.

Please don't think that any of my criticisms are in any way valid--they are only my personal feelings and shouldn't get in the way of anyone else reading this, nor you for having written it the way you did.

So, as you can see, I don't know what to think. I'd love to see if this could be written as I would have liked. Would you mind if I tried? I wouldn't publish it, but it would be enjoyable to read for myself.

Either way, thanks for letting this plot bunny out.
ladytory
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
When I wrote this story four and a half years ago, I was perfectly aware that some readers would be uncomfortable with Ginny’s chosen profession. But the best part of writing in a drastically altered reality from the original works is placing known characters in extreme settings and then interpreting how one believes that they will act. I have never seen Ginny as blindly devoted to Harry and only Harry. I don’t see Ginny as “remaining true to Harry at all times,” rather I see her as remaining true to herself at all times. I see Ginny as an extremely strong and confident young woman.

(If you want to see more of my musings on Ginny’s character feel free to read my story Butter Dishes which I wrote pre-Half Blood Prince. You can get there from the All Fic Listing in the side bar.)

Therefore, when I placed her character in the setting of the Old West, it seemed natural that she would choose the only path that would allow her to have control over her own life. It was also natural that given Harry’s basic character, when he was ready he would be able to see past the profession to the person. I knew that some people would not be comfortable with my choice, but I am because I believe that it stayed true to the Alternate Universe in which the story is set.

In all honesty, I do not feel comfortable with the idea of anyone re-writing one of my stories, regardless of whether or not it would be published. After all, writing an AU fanfic of an AU fanfic of an original fiction really doesn’t leave you much room to flex your skills. I am sure your creative energies would be more productively employed in writing your own story which you could post and then be able to receive feedback and constructive criticism on your work.

Thanks for reading.
dukebrymin
Nov. 12th, 2009 04:23 am (UTC)
Thanks for your introspection into the story. I can certainly understand your reasoning, and where you're coming from. And part of me agrees with your reasons. Of course, that part of me is in slight conflict with the other part of--the one that _does_ believe in Ginny remaining true to Harry.
And, fair enough, thanks for giving my thoughts consideration.
kateanguapotter
Nov. 11th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
Utterly fabulous, I enjoyed every second. So real, but so fantastical at the same time, like the Firefly of the Harry Potter world. ;oD

Much, much love for Miss Ginny and her corsets!
ladytory
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Not just for the review but also for conjuring images of Nathan Fillion in his duster :D

I am so glad that you liked it.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )