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Chapter 19 : Chapter 19 Isolation
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Tonks couldn’t sleep.
How could she possibly indulge in such things as sleep? It had been three weeks since Hogwarts had been attacked by Voldemort, and three weeks since Tonks had been able to sleep through the night. She was quickly turning into a nervous wreck, and her feeble attempts to disguise it only made her appear worse. Sitting at the desk in her office she tapped her foot relentlessly, falling back to her childhood habit of biting her nails as she tried to think, tried to gain some perspective on the new Hogwarts.
It really was amazing how only two Death Eaters could control a school of this size to the degree they did. Of course, with Severus Snape taking the position of Headmaster, Alecto and Amycus Carrow really had very little to do. Their control was unwavering, and few students or teachers dared defy them, for fear of the harsh consequences. No longer did teachers such as herself or McGonagall have any power. They were lucky they were still permitted to carry a wand by the time Snape was finished.
Shivering uncomfortably, Tonks could picture each of the house tables as they sat down to their now silent dinners, all houses except Slytherin appeared horribly bare. Of course, she hadn’t expected that the muggle born students would be allowed to stay, only a fool would be so naïve, but it terrified her to think of where all those students ended up after they were escorted from their house dormitories to Snape’s new office. Her very blood boiled at this memory, recalling the various tales and rumours that run amok among the students, each of them worse and more exaggerated than the first.
Tonks stood up. Moving towards the fireplace she warmed her hands by the dying embers, noting that it was only a few hours until dawn. She hadn’t been to bed at all that night, hadn’t even changed out of the robes she had worn the day before, and for a moment she considered trying to catch a few hours of sleep before her first class, but knew it would be pointless. Unconsciously she slipped her hands under her shirt, smiling a little as she felt how hard the slight rise in her stomach had become in just a few weeks. Lifting her shirt up she looked down at her bloated stomach, which was hardly noticeable with a routine glance. She could feel it more than see it. In a few months she would need her oversized jumpers and shirts to disguise the physical changes in her body, but she wondered exactly how long she would manage that for. Already she could feel tinges of self-doubt, fearing that Minerva was already suspicious of her condition. How could she not be? She already knew that she had married Remus with little warning, and the stoic way she refused to drink the traditional wine at the teachers table must have been ringing alarm bells.
Glancing back towards her desk, Tonks glared at the stack of pamphlets Alecto Carrow had handed out a few weeks ago during her new muggle studies classes. Returning to her desk Tonks took the stack in her hands and carefully placed them on the red embers in the fireplace, igniting them with a flick of her wand. As the paper curled and burnt Tonks scoffed at the nerve of Carrow, trying to teach students about how dangerous muggle borns were to their pureblood society. She smiled to herself, privately praising Neville Longbottom for the daring way he charmed a suit of armour to belt Carrow over the head with his shield, but no one was smiling when Neville received his punishment. It was over two weeks ago, and she still could not erase Neville’s screams from her head when Theodore Knott was instructed how on to use the cruciatus curse, nor could she forget the fear she had felt when she tried to stop him. Carrow’s wand was pressed against her back, and under normal circumstances she would not have hesitated to continue protecting Neville, no matter what the personal cost. After all, she was an Auror, she was trained to endure torture, she was trained to protect a victim no matter what, and it was only the reason for her hasty marriage that stopped her. No longer could she put herself in that kind of danger.
Returning to her desk once again she slumped down into the comfortable chair she began to think of Harry again, comforted by the fact that he must be safe in the care of Mr and Mrs Weasley, sheltered far away from the atrocities that were developing. For as long as he allowed anyway. She bestowed complete trust in the Order and Remus, but couldn’t help but wonder how much grief she would get for not protecting Harry more during the attack. By the time she was even aware of exactly what was going on that night, Harry and his friends had disappeared, leaving a trail of destruction and death behind them. How many men had been found in the study halls on the ground floor, having bled to death from the Sectumsempra curse that had befallen them? Was it four?
There was no point denying that Harry knew how to use that curse, but she shuddered to think that he could possibly commit such an act of desperation. Blinking rapidly Tonks shook her head to herself, reminding herself of the things she had done to others when it came down to life and death, and she knew Harry could not be blamed if he were responsible. But was he? Tonks only knew of one other person capable of producing that particular dark curse, and her confusion only grew as she thought of Snape. Far beyond trying to figure out where that man’s allegiance lay, Tonks forced herself to relax again and to focus on the room around her.
She could feel another presence in her dark office, yet she felt no sense of threat or danger, so she did not draw her wand. With a soft sigh she realised who it was, knowing that this moment had to come sooner or later. Somehow she could sense it was really him, and knew he would berate her for not showing more caution, but she didn’t care. Turning to her right she looked at her husband standing by the far wall, but couldn’t manage to produce a smile. It was clear what he was here for, but she didn’t know if she could. She was needed here, to do as much as she could to look after her students.
“My dear,” Remus smiled grimly, moving away from the wall and approaching her chair. “If I were an imposter, you’d be dead by now.”
He crouched down beside her chair and took her hand, already sensing and understanding her reluctance. “How did you get in here?” she asked softly.
“A tale for another day, I promise. For now, we can’t waste time.”
“Remus, I can’t,” she choked out as he stood up, tears springing up in her eyes alarmingly fast. “I can’t leave.”
“Shhh,” he whispered soothingly, leaning down and kissing the top of her head, his free hand resting on her shoulder comfortingly. “You have to, Dora, you don’t have a choice.”
“No,” she replied, her throat growing tighter and tighter. “The students need protection, what kind of person would I be if I leave them?”
“They have Minerva to care for them,” he continued, releasing her hand and using his thumbs to wipe away few tears on her cheeks. “And what kind of husband would I be if I let you stay?”
She looked away from him, focusing on her desk as she spoke. “It’s not that simple, you don’t understand.”
“Dora, this isn’t just about you anymore,” he implored, moving his hand down to rest on her lower belly, making what he meant perfectly clear. “You have to think about us, about our family. I know what’s most important to me, that’s why I cannot let you stay.”
Tonks didn’t say anything for the longest time. It was awfully hard to argue with him was right, and she put her hand back into his as she tried to convince herself to cooperate. Despite her position, she felt completely relaxed for the first time in weeks, months perhaps, and she knew it was because she had him by her side once again. At thirty eight years of age, he couldn’t be considered old, and yet his grey hair and lined face said otherwise, delightfully clashing with her exuberant youth. She didn’t care though, not when she loved him the way she did. No fault mattered, and she willingly took him exactly as he was. His age and his wealth was insignificant, and it was only ever around full moon that she remembered he was a werewolf, showing them both how little that mattered to her.
Glancing into her lap Tonks thought of the life growing inside her body, and excitement bloomed for a moment until reason took over, reminding herself of the urgent situation. How much longer did they have until Remus was discovered? No one before him had gotten past the Death Eaters before he. “Just, uh…let me grab a few things,” she muttered, releasing his hand and pushing back her chair.
“No, Dora. There’s no time, we have to leave this very minute.”
There was only a moment’s hesitation available to her, and it passed quickly. Withdrawing her wand from her robes she stood from her chair, casting her eyes around her office one more time before slipping her hand into Remus’. Nothing remained that she would need urgently. Clothes and possessions mattered little to her any more, and she promptly followed her husband out of her office, through the adjoining classroom and into the deserted halls. They walked quickly and silently, but Tonks still felt no sense of danger and fear, nor did she detect any from Remus. Walking in silence she simply relished in the warmth of his hand, remembering the familiar callous on his thumb, making sure to rub it gently as they walked. She quickly found that she couldn’t wait to leave Hogwarts, to be back safely at home with her new husband, wherever that may be now.
No hint of daylight lit their way as they emerged into the chilly grounds, the frosty grass crunching beneath their feet as they walked almost blind, yet they didn’t dare light their wands. Their eyes soon adjusted, and Tonks continued to follow Remus’ lead towards the Forbidden Forest, and it was only then that she began to feel a little precarious, knowing of the dangers that lurked in those trees.
“I’m afraid we have quite the trek ahead of ourselves,” Remus apologised, squeezing her hand and acknowledging her reluctance.
At these words she began to relax again, trusting him completely. Their footsteps slowed as they breached the edge of the trees, the canopy above blocking out any light that they had previously managed to detect, and they tripped and stumbled for a dozen or so yards until they were well out of sight of the castle. With their wands now glowing brightly the forest around them appeared eerie and deserted, silent and lifeless as they passed through.
“Harry?” she asked, not needing to elaborate. Her heart sank as Remus shook his head slowly, looking at her apologetically. “What happened?”
“We’re not quite sure,” he began softly. “Things went badly from the very beginning…something happened in the castle, we’re not quite sure what, but the four of them turned up at the Burrow about an hour later.”
“Molly and Arthur?”
“Gone,” he stated simply, shrugging his shoulders. “We haven’t heard from them for weeks.”
“That’s ridiculous; they were supposed to be there for Harry when the attack happened. Are you sure they didn’t meet up elsewhere, and they’re all together?”
“I’m quite sure. Once the four of them turned up at the Burrow, a group of men managed to track them down. They called themselves Snatchers, and they managed the track the four of them all the way into St Ottery Catchpole. Well, Harry managed to get the better of them, he blew up a muggle lawn mower, and they managed to escape. We just don’t know where to.”
“He blew up a lawn mower?” Tonks asked incredulously, thinking back to the four men who had died in the study halls the night of the invasion. Was Harry responsible after all?
“Yes, killed two of their pursuers in the process, although I don’t think Harry realised that at the time, they took off so quickly. That’s how we know all of this, by the way. Kingsley tried to follow them to the Burrow, found it deserted and then heard the commotion in the village. He’s the one that found the men, he withdrew their memories straight away and that’s what he saw.”
“Right,” she nodded in shock, her hand shaking in Remus’ firm clasp. Looking to the ground before her she licked her lips nervously, her mind racing through all of the awful things that had happened, through all of the things that could happen, and she knew the four of them had to be found quickly.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Remus continued with a grim smile. “But they must certainly be safer on the run, where not even you and I know where they are. If we can’t find them, how can anybody else?”
“That’s true,” she muttered without enthusiasm, her mind still racing. “It’s just…Merlin, none of this was supposed to be this way. They should be with Molly and Arthur, they’re supposed to be safe.” Immediately she thought of Dumbledore, who always made it seem so easy to protect Harry, and she couldn’t help the shame that settled low in her belly.
“I know,” he soothed, stopping in his tracks and turning to face her. Releasing her hand he cupped her face the way he always did and kissed her sweetly on the lips, offering her all the love and compassion he could hold. This simple action, so comforting, so familiar, was almost her undoing, and she wanted nothing more than to have him hold her in his strong arms and never let her go. For a few moment she could think of nothing else other than herself and he, and of the both uncertain and exciting future they had together. She felt him smiling as his hand left her face and rested on the slight swell of her belly, and she knew he was thinking the same thing. A moment later he slipped his hand into his pocket, withdrawing her golden wedding ring he had been caring for. “I think it’s about time this was returned to you,” he commented as he slipped it onto her finger, kissing her again.
Their moment together was over far too soon, and they resumed their long walk into the very depths of the Forbidden Forest, where strangely they still encountered no signs of life. It was at least half an hour until Remus stopped dead in his tracks again, leading her back a few paces and picking up a tarnished kettle that lay discarded by a knotted tree trunk. Tonks couldn’t help but smile, knowing it was the very kettle that normally sat in the kitchen of Remus’ small house. He didn’t need to explain what he wanted her to do, nor did she need any convincing. Trusting her husband completely Tonks placed her hand on the belly of the kettle, watching as Remus tapped it sharply to activate the portkey charm. A place somewhere behind her naval was tugged uncomfortably and their bodies bumped together as they were whisked far away from Hogwarts, and the moment her feet touched the ground in the field of tall unkempt grass, Tonks finally felt something she hadn’t for a long time.
She felt completely safe.
Days quickly turned into weeks. Almost a month had passed since Voldemort’s take over, with November bringing icy cold winds and light snow, forcing the four teenagers to take refuge inside the tent that seemed to grow smaller and smaller every passing day. Venturing outside only to collect fresh supplies of water and firewood cabin fever quickly set in, petty fights and arguments breaking out frequently as Harry grew increasingly frustrated with his friends. The small wireless radio was constantly by Hermione’s side, but the incessant static only added to their frustrations.
The only thing Harry couldn’t complain about was the occasional times he was lucky enough to find himself alone with Ginny, and they had taken advantage of every moment they had together. Nearly four weeks on the run had propelled them further and further into their relationship, having few distractions other than their friends. Their patience that day had been rewarded, Ron and Hermione had left the tent a little while ago to look for dry firewood, although Harry doubted it would be their first priority given that they too had time alone. It was strange to think of Ron and Hermione snogging in secret, cautiously keeping their budding relationship to themselves, still believing that Harry was ignorant to their secret. To be honest he wasn’t bothered in the least by what they would be doing under the pretence of searching for firewood, as long as they took their time.
Caught up in the searing kisses from Ginny it took Harry a moment to feel the cold draught that crept along his back, and to finally notice that his shirt was missing from his body. His heart seemed to skip a beat and his hands stilled in Ginny’s hair and waist, and it was only now that he payed attention to her hands that carefully caressed his back. He hated the way his body looked, especially in comparison to her own, which in his opinion was perfect, but there was no denying the way she held him as close as possible, her wandering hands now caressing his side and stomach as he hovered over her.
Breaking the kiss Harry glanced over the side of Ginny’s bed where they lay, seeing his discarded shirt on the ground. He wanted to reach down and slip it back on. Only a week ago he had been in a similar position thanks to Hermione’s enthusiasm as a self-taught Healer. After successfully removing the stitches in Ginny’s thigh, his friend had turned to him with a familiar look in her eyes, and Harry had foreseen her suggestion before she even spoke.
“No way,” he had told her.
“What?” Hermione questioned, standing before him with a small blade in her hand.
“There’s no way you’re touching my stitches, so wipe that excited look off your face.”
In the end he wasn’t exactly sure how Hermione managed it, but minutes later he lay on the bed as Hermione softened the damaged skin before carefully removing the stitches on his back, declaring that they were well on the path to healing. As promised it had hardly hurt at all as she worked, though in the end she had left his chest and stomach alone. The injuries from Greyback had yet to show any signs of healing, a constant thorn in Harry’s side lessened only by the improvement Hermione had made on his back. No longer could he feel the prickly sensation of his clothes rubbing against the stitches, left with only long thin scabs in their place.
Seeing his hesitation as he looked at his discarded shirt Ginny brought his attention straight back to her, tugging gently at his hair to bring his lips back to hers. While her hands continued tracing and caressing she brought her knees up on either side of his hips, squeezing gently as she broke their kiss for a brief moment. “I don’t care that you’re not perfect,” she said quietly. “I love you.”
“Yeah, I know,” he muttered against her neck, rocking his hips against hers before he could think twice. There was no way to withhold the small groan that escaped his throat, rumbling against her neck as she repeated his motion. His hands clutched at her back side to hold her body against his, sighing against her lips as they kissed deeply. There was no point attempting to hide the reaction he was having from her touch, she would have most certainly noticed by now. “I love you too.”
Her mumbled reply was lost as she pushed against his shoulders, and Harry reluctantly pulled away and sat up in disappointment. A brief smile of relief was all he managed before she too sat up, and his hands went directly for her hips as she straddled his lap before kissing him intently. With her hand at the back of his head Harry had no choice but to happily respond, hardly able to break away to draw breath, and he could only moan against her mouth as she ground her hips against his. Finally breathless he managed to break away from her kiss, blushing as Ginny chuckled against his ear.
“Geez,” he muttered, blinking lazily as he looked up at her face. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” she denied automatically as her hands moved down his back to clutch his hips.
As she ground against him again Harry’s head lolled forward with a low groan, kissing her neck as he thought of the reason for her intensity. Complete isolation had all of them on their last nerves, scared and desperate to hear any sort of communication from the outside world, while their family’s safety remained unknown to them. He knew Ginny was trying to escape from the way things had changed, even if just for a few minutes, and he was more than willing to assist her. Moving slowly and cautiously Harry held the hem of her shirt and carefully edged it up her body, and there was an awkward moment before she figured out what he was trying to do. Glancing at him she hesitated before raising her arms above her head, allowing him to pull her shirt up and off. Carelessly dropping it over the side Harry watched breathless as her hair cascaded back down over her shoulders before his eyes raked up and down her torso. Her hands came to rest on her lap, her fingers clenched around one another as though trying to resist covering herself.
Harry swore in amazement, one hand coming to rest on the creamy white skin of her side as the other tangled itself in her hair, pulling her towards him before he kissed her gently, and he could feel her begin to relax as her hands returned to his back. He stopped feeling nervous, his free hand inching up her ribs slowly as to allow her to stop him, finally coming to rest on her breast as she deepened their kiss. Looking down at her bra he quickly decided that it was far too modest, covering up more flesh than necessary, and he reluctantly moved his hand back down her ribs, not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable.
“It’s okay,” she laughed shortly, and Harry was relieved to see a nervous smile on her face. Taking his hand in her own she moved it back to her breast, encouraging him to press gently.
Responding eagerly Harry pulled her as close as possible, leaving no distance between them as he revelled in the feeling of her warm soft skin against his own, and he was determined to feel and caress as much of her skin as possible. She was completely intoxicating. Her skin was red hot when pressed against his, her breath sending goose bumps across his shoulders and she rocked her hips against his, and stars seemed to burst before his eyes as he moaned into her neck. A clumsy hand caressed her front, his fingers slipping as far under her bra as he dared while he touched the clasp at the back, praying that it would mysteriously break apart, though he doubted he could pass it off as an accident.
To avoid temptation he raised his hand from the clasp and clenched his fingers in Ginny’s long hair, gently tugging her head back. Leaning back a little his eyes looked her up and down again as she watched him curiously, breathing out slowly when he moved forward to kiss her collarbone. With his hand moving over her chest Harry was pleased to feel her rapid heartbeat, noting that she was just as nervous and exhilarated as he was. It was encouraging. Releasing her hair he pulled her face back down to his and kissed her properly, deepening it quickly as he pushed her off his lap and lay her back down, breaking apart from her only for a moment.
It was easier now, to see her, to touch her, but his efforts to keep his weight off her body were useless as she clamoured to hold him close, trying to match the intensity of his kiss. Her hands clenched the waist band of his jeans to pull him higher over her body, grasping his back side and roughly rocking their hips together. His breath caught in his throat at this, his eyes bursting open for a moment before automatically repeating the action without thought. Abandoning her breast his hands mimicked hers, settling on her back side and holding her as close as possible as they clumsily rocked against each other, and Ginny’s soft sighs against his ear sounded like heaven. Harry didn’t want to stop, certain that he could carry on like this for hours, days even, but with a sinking feeling he remembered where they were, and the distinct possibility of his friends suddenly returning to the tent.
With a low groan he abruptly raised his body away from hers, propping himself up on his elbows and knees as he continued kissing her, trying to ignore the way she kept pulling him back. His knees buckled and he allowed her to rock against him one last time before pulling away from her properly. As Harry lay down beside her his chest seemed to pang at the loss of contact, and his hands sought out her body automatically, daringly rubbing the inside of her thigh as she began to blush. How he wished she was wearing a skirt instead of jeans.
“Sorry,” she laughed breathlessly, rolling onto her side also and returning his kiss. “I guess I got a bit…carried away.”
“I’m not complaining,” he admitted, moving his lips to the smooth skin of her neck, inhaling the wonderful scent of her perfume as he tried not to pay attention to where her hands where, or to the involuntary way his body was reacting to her touch.
“It’s just, ah…” she trailed off, a shiver running through her spine. She shook her head to herself. “I just don’t want you to think I’m some kind of tart….I’ve never let anyone touch me like this.”
At those words Harry smiled against her neck before his chest tightened uncomfortably, thinking of who else had the opportunity to be with Ginny in this way. Raising his head he gently kissed her jaw before he responded, removing his hand from her leg just to be safe. “Not even Dean?”
There was the expected flash of anger and annoyance that crossed her eyes at these words before she quickly softened, understanding why he would ask such a question. “No,” she promised, sealing it with a kiss. “Definitely not.”
“Good,” he replied deeply, pushing her onto her back again. Against his better judgement he moved back over her, allowing them to settle back against each other the way they had started. “I hate the thought of him touching you.”
Nothing more was said they kissed again, and this time it was he who sustained it relentlessly, feeling strangely possessive of Ginny the more he thought of her and Dean. The memory of seeing him kiss her in that deserted corridor of Hogwarts only fuelled his intensity, his hands clutching and touching her, unnecessarily reminding her of who she was with now. He couldn’t stop the jealousy. It coursed through his entire body unforgivingly, and it was only moments before Ginny caught on to the sudden change in his demeanour.
“What’s wrong?” she breathed, pulling his head away from her and breaking the kiss.
Harry shrugged, turning his face into her neck and kissing her again. He didn’t want to answer, didn’t know what to say until the jealous words came tumbling out of his mouth. “I know Dean kissed you.”
Her reaction was immediate. He felt her breath hitch uncomfortably as she put her hands on his shoulders, trying to push him off her as she tried to sit up. “Harry, it’s no-”
“It’s okay,” he continued quickly, kissing her hard on the mouth. “I know you didn’t want it, I’m not mad…anymore. He just makes me so crazy…”
“I, err…had noticed that,” she said uncomfortably, allowing him to push her back down onto the bed. “It’s okay to be jealous, but you don’t have to be.”
“Just be glad you’ve no one to be jealous of,” he muttered, kissing her chastely as one hand caressed the back of her legs.
“Besides Romilda Vane?”
“She doesn’t count.”
“Or all of your other fans?”
“They don’t count either,” Harry replied in frustration.
“Trust me, Harry,” she giggled against his lips. “They count in their diaries.”
“Okay, okay, enough talking,” he said hastily, trying to bring her attention back to him.
It wasn’t long before he was lost again, focusing only on the two of them as the rest of the world slipped away, and it was no wonder that he couldn’t seem to get enough of her. There was blissful silence in his head as they kissed, he was free from the probing voice of Voldemort, he was free from the constant pang of worry and fear, and he was certain Ginny felt the same way. His entire body shivered as she lightly tickled his lower back, her fingers slipping under the back of his jeans.
Harry groaned against her ear as she began kissing his neck, teeth and tongue scraping against his skin with such intensity he almost wanted to pull away. Heavy breaths blew against her ear as he tried to keep his head, and all the while her hands moved over him anywhere they could reach, and there was no stopping his from doing the same. No touch went unnoticed, arms shaking as he tried not to crush her beneath his weight as she held him close, and it was almost a relief when Ginny put her hands to his shoulders and pushed him off. Almost.
“See? Now you don’t have to worry about squashing me,” she informed him as she moved over to straddle his hips.
“Right,” he panted before holding his breath, loving the way she was pressed perfectly against his him. Automatically his hands drifted to her waist, rocking against her as his eyes drifted shut for just a moment. Suddenly her lips were back on his, but he could only gasp in pain as she harshly pinched the spot on his neck she had been kissing. “Oi! What was that for?”
Ginny chuckled at him, now rubbing his neck. “Just making sure you’re still awake.”
“Well, I am,” he muttered indignantly, her hair cascading around her face as he pulled her back down to kiss again.
It was more relaxing now, without worrying about how he distributed his weight. With both hands available he was free to touch her as he pleased, but for now he kept them planted firmly on her waist as she rocked her hips against him again. Once certain that she wasn’t going to pull away his hands grew restless, and he slipped one between them to carefully cup her breast, frustrated by the bra that kept getting in the way. As Ginny broke the kiss to catch her breath Harry took the chance to look down her front, smiling to himself as he thought of how beautiful she looked. Following his gaze Ginny grimaced, scoffing slightly.
“You could play Gob stones on my chest,” she remarked dryly.
“That’s dung,” he rebuked her, now paying extra attention to touching as much of her exposed skin as he could. Turning his face back to hers he placed gentle kisses along her jaw.
The soft sigh was unmistakeable. “That’s nice.”
“Good,” was the only reply he could think of. His free hand moved down to her lower back, his fingers slipping under the waist band of her jeans, and he was thrilled to find that he could just reach the top of her underwear. It wasn’t until he tried to move further under that he remembered what she was wearing, his heart sinking in disappointment as he recalled how tight fitting these particular jeans were. Any other occasion he would be pleased to see Ginny wearing such close fitting trousers, giving him the opportunity to steal longing glances at her legs and back side. Right now though, they were merely a hindrance. While his hand was forced to settle on the outside of her jeans, Harry wondered exactly how hard she would belt him if he attempted to undo the zip and button.
Harry’s attention was quickly diverted as she began to sit up, her hand holding his firmly to her chest as she motioned for him too to sit up. Getting comfortable again Harry’s heart rate seemed to increase as he noticed the mischievous but shy expression she wore. She kissed him, and it almost felt nervous.
“I, err…” she muttered shyly, swallowing uncomfortably. “Do you want me to take it off?” she finished, indicating to her bra.
His jaw dropped almost comically, and he couldn’t stop the way his eyes widened and looked down automatically. “Yeah,” he replied instantly, his eyes blinking rapidly as he forced himself to look back up at her. “I mean-if you want to, that is…you don’t have to.”
“Yeah,” she nodded, smiling nervously as she rested her hands on his shoulders. “I know.”
He could feel how fast her heart was racing, and he could hardly breathe as she kissed him softly, awaiting what she would do next. The strangest thoughts raced through his head in that long moment, and he worried that maybe he was trying to move too fast for her. Certainly he had few problems with the way they were going, but did she feel the same way? He didn’t want her to feel rushed or pressured, and for one horrifying moment he almost opened his mouth to make her stop before his desires caught up with his head. Ginny appeared to be moving in slow motion as she took her hands away from his shoulders and slipped them behind her back, and there was a loud roar of approval from inside his chest until incredibly, his attention was diverted elsewhere.
It felt like the bottom dropped out of his stomach as Harry’s head snapped around to look at the flaps of the tent door, hearing the ominous snap of twigs and crunch of leaves from outside. The familiar voices of Ron and Hermione were only just audible, growing clearer with every step they took towards the tent entrance.
“Crap!” Harry cursed in dismay. He hastily pushed Ginny off him and leapt off the bed, diving for his wand which had been so carelessly discarded. Stumbling to find his feet he fumbled to hold his wand, pointing it at the flaps just as Ron appeared outside before them. “Colloportus!”
“Geez, Harry,” Ginny whinged, rubbing her elbow where she had landed. “You could have just said no thanks!”
“Where’s your shirt?” Harry asked, breathing a sigh of relief when he heard Ron encounter the flaps that were tightly closed.
“Is that Ron?” she asked in reply, her face draining of colour before she started laughing. “Could you imagine if he found me without-”
“Don’t even go there!” he managed to laugh, climbing over the bed and collecting Ginny’s shirt from where it had fallen. He tossed it at her before picking up his own, hastily pulling it on.
“Oi! Harry, let us in, it’s bloody freezing!”
“Just a second!”
Turning back to Ginny, he was surprised to see the familiar blazing look she kept just for him, and he gave no protest when she kissed him hard. Ron’s protesting voice slipped away as he pulled her back into his arms, returning her kiss just as firmly. Just one more moment, he kept telling himself. Just one more moment of her intoxicating kiss and the peace it brought him, and maybe he could get through the rest of the day without having to seek her out again.
A cold draught swept through the tent as Hermione easily broke through Harry’s locking charm, and they broke apart abruptly and turned away from each other. Unsure of what to do now Harry slipped his hands into his pockets and moved far away from Ginny, trying to steady his breaths as Ron and Hermione burst into the tent with relief.
“Ron,” Hermione scolded, closing the flap behind them. “If you had just taken a coat like I told you to, you wouldn’t have been so cold.”
“I’ve already said, nothing warm will fit over this bloody splint,” he whinged in reply, indicating the thick bandage and sling he wore on his arm. Glowering at Harry for a moment he turned to the small fireplace and began warming himself. “Why do you look so cheerful?” he demanded grumpily.
“No reason,” Harry responded nonchalantly, slumping down on the couch in attempt to avoid Ron’s bad mood for as long as possible. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Ginny straightening up her bed to remove any evidence of what they had been up to, and he pointedly looked away from her to stop the smile creeping up on his face.
“I’ve told you a thousand times,” Hermione continued patiently, though her frustration could be felt by all of them as she slapped a book down on the table with more force than necessary. “I can fix your clothes to fit the sling, it’s really very easy.”
“I don’t want you to fix any-”
“Would you two just shut up?” Ginny growled, lying down on her bed. “It was very peaceful in here until you two came back in!”
“Don’t you start!”
“Ron…” Harry began softly, looking over his shoulder at his friend, whose face was pale and clammy despite the warm fire he stood before. Harry knew that look on his face, he understood the frustration and anger his friend was displaying. “Just leave it.”
His friend glared back at his even more suspiciously, turning away and stalking off to the small bathroom. The door slammed loudly as he went inside, and Hermione and Ginny breathed a sigh of relief that Harry couldn’t quite muster. Standing up slowly he walked into the kitchen and filled the kettle with water, tapping it with his wand to boil before looking for Ron’s favourite mug. He noted that there were only a few tea bags left as he placed one in the mug before turning to the cupboard above the sink.
“What happened out there?” he heard Ginny ask quietly. He looked over his shoulder to see the two girls sitting on the bed.
“It’s my fault, really,” Hermione answered quietly, looking at her hands sadly. “We were…you know…and I suppose I just got a bit carried away, and I touched his arm.”
“Yeah, I think I really hurt him. I just wish there was something I could do for him, I mean besides bandaging him up and hoping his arm will get better.”
Holding the bottle of pain relief potion Harry’s heart sank to see that there was very little left, hardly more than a few doses necessary to put Ron out of his pain. As the kettle began to bubble Harry approached the bathroom door and knocked quietly, hoping Ron would answer. “It’s just me, can I come in?”
There was a long pause until Ron answered, and Harry slowly opened the door to find his friend leaning up against the shower, carefully cradling his broken arm. Closing the door Harry held out the potion, watching as Ron hesitated before taking it. “There’s not much left,” he commented, avoiding Harry’s eyes. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“You know…for your headaches. What about your back?”
“I don’t need it,” he replied truthfully. It hadn’t been long before he discovered that a few mouthfuls of the dwindling scotch were almost as good as Mrs Weasley’s potion making skills.
Ron considered this for a long moment, looking at the potion before clumsily removing the stopper. He took a long mouthful and handed it back to Harry, and already a slight tinge was returning to his cheeks. “Thanks.”
He merely nodded in reply, replacing the stopper before reaching behind Ron to turn on the shower. “Take a shower, it’ll help with the pain.”
“Yeah, righto. Help us with this,” he asked, indicating to the sling and his shirt.
Once he was set Harry left him to take a shower, closing the door and breathing a sigh of relief now that peace had been restored. The rest of the afternoon progressed painfully slowly as it had every other day, and he only grew more and more concerned about their dwindling supplies of food. If Mr Weasley didn’t make contact through the radio soon, they were going to have to take things into their own hands. There was only so long that four teenagers could last living in a tent, constantly changing locations every day. Frustration was high and patience was low, and soon enough they were surely going to kill each other.
Readjusting the blanket over his shoulders Harry glanced at his watch, seeing that it was past two in the morning. He was so sleepy, his eyes drooping the very moment he stopped paying attention to his surroundings, and he wondered how much longer Ron would be before he came to take over. The old battered radio sat on the ground beside him, the tedious static never once wavering. Harry knew he should flip through the channels again in search of a working station, but couldn’t bring himself to take his hands out from under the warm blanket.
Groping around blindly between his knees he found the bottle of expensive scotch they had taken from Mr Weasley’s cabinet, taking another deep drink, no longer content with trying to make the bottle last. He no longer had to choke down each mouthful, swallowing the alcohol with ease before taking a deep breath and finishing the last of it. The bottle now empty, Harry’s frustration reached its peak, angry with himself for drinking all of it. Standing up the blanket fell from his shoulders and he threw the empty bottle into the darkness as hard as he could, satisfied when he heard it shatter.
“Bloody hell,” came Ron’s voice from behind him, startling him for a moment. “What did it ever do to you?”
“It wasn’t big enough,” Harry grumbled, sitting back down and readjusting the blanket before remembering he was supposed to swap places with Ron. “What took you so long?”
“I, uh…” he began slowly, his bad mood having diminished hours ago thanks to the pain potion. “I was comfortable.”
“Right,” Harry replied shortly, moving to stand up.
“Wait, just wait out here for a sec, would you?” Ron requested, summoning his own blanket and sitting down beside him. “I have to ask you something.”
“It’s about Ginny.”
“What about her?” he asked suspiciously, praying that he wouldn’t have to put up with another lecture. He was good enough not to mention the budding relationship between Ron and Hermione, couldn’t his friend offer the same courtesy.
“Well…it’s about her coming with us, I suppose.”
“We already agreed on this,” Harry began impatiently. “She can’t come with us, it’s too dangerous.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Then why are you bringing it up?”
“I was just thinking, that’s all…”
“What’s there to think about? You of all people should be on my side.”
“I am on your side,” Ron hasted to assure him. “I want her to be safe too, but didn’t you say You-Know-Who is after her specifically? Isn’t that what you saw in those…err, visions?”
“Well in that case, wouldn’t she be safer…with us? You-Know-Who himself said that he can’t get to you unless he’s got Ginny, so logically she’s better off with you.”
“Logically, yes” he agreed. “But what do you suppose we do with her when we’re trying to destroy the Horcruxes? Do you think she’ll just happily wait in the tent for us to return?”
“We’d worry about that when the time came, but we don’t even know where the Horcruxes are, so what’s point worrying?”
Harry looked at him incredulously, resisting the urge to shake his head. “We do know where they are! There’s one at Hogwarts, and one in Gringotts.”
“We never found one at Hogwarts, mate, we were there for two months!”
“Admit it Ron, we never even looked! There could still be one there, and there’s still one at Gringotts.”
“Okay, that I believe,” Ron conceded. “It’s pretty suspicious what Lestrange was up to, but how the bloody hell are we supposed to break into Gringotts? We can’t just waltz in there and ask for directions!”
“I know it’s going to be tricky, that’s why we can’t have Ginny with us. What if something happened to her?”
“She wouldn’t come with us to Gringotts…”
“Like hell she wouldn’t, she’d find a way. That’s beside the point, as long as that trace is on her she can’t even defend herself without giving away her position.”
“Yeah…that’s been driving her crazy hasn’t it,” he remarked, not bother to hide the grin.
Harry didn’t reply for a moment, running his fingers through his hair. “She can’t come with us.”
“Alright…how’s this for an argument? Say we leave her behind…what are you gonna do once she’s gone?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean,” Ron answered, growing even more serious. “How do you think you’ll cope without her? Don’t say you’ll be fine, I know you’re bloody in love with her.”
“So what?” Harry replied defensively, feeling anger stirring in his belly. “What difference does that make?”
“I’m not stupid, I know you sleep with her in her bed, every bloody night!”
“It’s not like that, Ron, we’re only sleeping.”
“I know, if it were anything else you’d be dead by now, you got that? I’m just trying to say…you’re getting too attached to her. If you force her to stay behind, you won’t be able to cope without her.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry growled, standing up and brushing past his friend. Wrenching the tent flaps closed he stalked through the tent and threw his blanket up onto his bed, forcing himself to not look at Ginny. Furiously he kicked off his shoes and changed into some old pyjamas, glaring at the tent flaps as he thought of what Ron had said. His anger only grew exponentially, hardly believing that Ron had the nerve to comment on his relationship with Ginny. Harry was right, he had no idea what he was talking about, and he couldn’t understand why Ron was fighting him about letting Ginny stay.
He climbed the ladder to the bunk bed, slumping down on the cold mattress and pulling the blanket over himself. Closing his eyes straight away he could feel himself drifting off to sleep, but a few moments later the buzzing in the back of his head started again, growing louder and clearer with every passing minute. Automatically he opened his eyes and looked across the room at Ginny, surprised to see her watching him with the most curious expression on her face.
Catching his gaze Ginny propped herself up on her elbow, looking at him expectantly. She didn’t say anything, waiting patiently for him until he threw back his blanket in defeat and climbed down the ladder. Her comforting smile seemed to warm his very core as he slipped into the bed alongside her, kissing her ever so gently as they got comfortable. He sighed with relaxation as the buzz of Voldemort’s thoughts relinquished, and he settled his arm around her waist and shifted closer to her, relishing in the warmth of her body.
“What were you two arguing about?” she mumbled against his chest, her hand slipping under his shirt and rubbing his side.
“Nothing,” he denied predictably. “We sorted it out.”
“Don’t take that tone with me,” he smiled. “Shut up and go to sleep.”
To his relief she dropped the subject, but her reminder of the argument with Ron left him reeling with doubt all over again. His fingers stroking the ends of her hair, he wondered if Ron’s words had any merit in them, if there was any truth in what he had said. A flash of fear swept through him at that thought, and he unconsciously held Ginny closer, beginning to wonder exactly what he would do when the time came to leave her behind. He didn’t want to be without her, of that he was sure, the thought of not having her by his side was unbearable to consider, but the thought of the dangers she would face with him was even worse. If he truly loved her, how could he ask her to risk her life because he was too selfish to be without her?
“Gin?” he spoke softly, his heart growing sadder and sadder.
“You know you can’t stay with us forever, right?” he confirmed, his throat growing tight, but he had to know that she understood.
There was a long pause before she replied, her hand leaving his side and coming to rest on his chest as she looked at him properly. “Yeah…I know.”
“Really?” he responded, slightly surprised when she nodded. “You’re not going to fight me?”
“What’s the point? I don’t really get a say in the matter, do I? Whether I like it or not, it’s up to you.”
He could only nod in response, unable to speak as he rested his chin on the top of her head, not wanting to look at her for fear of breaking down completely. Focusing his attention on stroking her hair he waited for the tightness in his chest to dissipate, trying to think of what to say next. Holding her in his arms he could feel that she was wide awake, waiting for him to continue. “You know why, don’t you?”
“Ginny, if something happened…” he trailed off, raising his head slightly and looking at her again. “If you got hurt, or killed, there’d be no point in fighting anymore. There’d be no reason at all.”
“I understand,” she whispered firmly, sitting up a little and peering down at him. She played with the hem of his shirt and looked down at the bed sheets. “I don’t like what you’re making me do, but I understand why you’re doing it.”
“Okay,” he nodded, her words of understanding doing little to comfort him. If only she would fight him. If only she would push a little harder to get what she wanted, he was sure he would crumble.
“Harry, I want to make one thing clear,” she began, brushing his hair back before her hand came to rest on his cheek. “You know me…I don’t back down from a fight, but that’s what you’re asking me to do.”
“I know.” Taking her hand from his cheek he held his palm up against hers, interlocking their fingers and holding firmly. “I know it’s a lot to ask.”
“If it were anyone but you, I wouldn’t do it.”
Harry merely nodded, taking her words to heart. He knew the personal sacrifice she was making by allowing him to leave her behind, he knew it was completely out of character for her, but now that they had agreed he knew it was the only way. “Thank you,” he said tightly, looking at their interlocked hands. “We’ll find somewhere safe for you, I promise you’ll be safe.”
“I trust you.”
Sitting up a little Harry released her hand, leaning forward and kissing her deeply. She returned the kiss with equal intensity, but they broke apart after only a few moments, resting their foreheads against one another as Harry spoke again. “I love you, don’t forget that.”
With a slight nod Ginny kissed him again. “I love you, too,” she murmured, pushing him back down on the pillow. “Now shut up and go to sleep.”
Rolling over in his arms they quickly got comfortable again, Harry pulling her back to his chest and resting his face in the back of her neck. He was as confused as ever, still trying to figure out exactly what he wanted, but his tired body was soon overwhelmed by Ginny’s warm bed and their comfortable embrace, and he quickly fell asleep. When he awoke hours later Ginny had not moved from his embrace, and he wished he could stay there longer, never leaving her again. As he tried to fall back asleep something was nagging uncomfortably in the back of his mind, and instincts told him to get out of bed. With a great sigh he carefully removed his arms from around Ginny, moving carefully so that he didn’t wake her. She stirred as he replaced the blanket, rolling onto her back with a sigh before she opened her eyes.
“Go back to sleep,” he instructed her, leaning down and kissing her lightly.
“Hmmm,” she groaned in appreciation, closing her eyes again. “Don’t need to tell me twice.”
Chuckling to himself Harry slipped his shoes and jacket back on and looked for Hermione in the bed above, surprised to find it empty. Rubbing his eyes he meandered towards the tent flaps, holding his wand by his side as he blinked against the early morning sunshine. The moment he stepped outside to find Ron and Hermione sitting side by side on the ground, he could feel it in the air that something had changed, something had happened.
“I was going to wake you mate,” Ron began apologetically, smiling grimly up at him. “But we thought we’d better let you sleep.”
“Is that….” Harry began, his eyes widening as he realised what had changed. Looking down at the small radio on the ground, he felt his heart begin to race. “Is that the Weird Sisters?”
“Yes,” Hermione confirmed in delight, standing up and proudly handing the radio to him. “The radio stations are back up…all of them.”
Harry’s head began to spin precariously, and he took a deep breath as he tried to comprehend what was happening. It was amazing to hear, the first contact that had had with the outside world in nearly a month, the first sign that something was going back to some kind of normal. In his mind’s eye he could see the hastily written letter that Mr Weasley had left for them at the Burrow, instructing them to wait for further instructions through the radio he had left. Harry’s next question was on the very tip of his tongue when Ron beat him to it.
“By the way, Dad says hi.”
A/N Thanks for reading everyone, I’m sorry for the long delay. (The very long delay.)
I find myself in need of some extra help. I am looking for one of my readers who is full of ideas and potential story lines to help me out with my writing. Someone who isn’t afraid to tell me what is working, and what stinks like Dragon Dung, who can help with SPaG, and who can help me with brainstorming and problem solving.
A suitable ‘Plot Bunny Advisor’ would be able to respond to my emails reasonably quickly, would help keep me motivated, and most of all is trustworthy, as I would be sharing my plot lines and ideas fairly frequently. If you are happier waiting in suspense, then this is not for you.
If anyone is interested please contact me through this site, or more conveniently at me email address killtherat @ hotmail . com (No spaces.)
Thanks for reading, please leave me a review with your thoughts.
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