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Staying Strong by RosieQueen
Chapter 9 : Mystery and Mayhem
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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Magnificent Chapter Image by Carnal Spiral @TDA!

Don't think about the past, don't worry about the future
Just live in the moment
Long as there's another day there will be another way
A chance to make it through.

-Through It All by Alicia Keys



It was now mid-April, and my Easter holidays had just begun. I couldn’t help but smile in spite of myself when I saw the tall, wooden building that was the Burrow. I had missed my home so much—the smells of old wood and fresh grass, the open countryside, and above all, Mum and Dad.


I collapsed onto the sitting room couch and watched as Mum pulled off her now wet raincoat. It had been raining hard when we drove home. I could still hear the loud pattering of raindrops on top of the Burrow, and there was water leaking into the house from the small gap in the roof above me—but I didn’t mind. All that mattered was that I was home.


As my head rested on the couch, I suddenly smelled smoke. There was a grey fog appearing in the kitchen hallway.


“Oh, dear, I left the stove on again!” Mum said, not taking off her hat and rushing to the kitchen.


“Again?” Dad sighed. He looked thin and ill, and had dark circles under his eyes. Mum had told me that he was working over-time, but still got almost no pay. Dad couldn’t do anything about it, though. If he didn’t listen to the Ministry’s orders, our family would be in even more danger.


I got up from the couch, deciding to go help Mum with dinner. When I reached the kitchen, I was shocked at the state of it. There were dishes piled up in the sink, most of them cracked. The tiles were dirty, and the countertop looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since Bill’s wedding.


“Mum? What happened here?” I asked, resting my hands on the side of the doorway, staring wide-eyed at the kitchen.


“Oh, nothing, dear. I just haven’t had any time to clean, that’s all…” she said, frowning at the burnt eggs inside the pan.


I looked at the small, burnt eggs. We were going to have burnt eggs for dinner…that’s how poor we were now.
 

“Can I help with anything?” I offered.


“No, dinner’s ready.” Mum said. She noticed my concerned expression and added: “I’m so sorry about dinner, Ginny. We can’t afford anything more…”
 

“No, Mum. It’s fine, I understand.” I assured her.


Mum looked at me wearily, brushing aside a stray piece of hair in front of my face. “I love you, Ginny.” she murmured softly.


“I love you too, Mum.” I said, smiling softly back at her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Five days went by, and it was then I started to realize that my Easter holidays were going by alarmingly fast. The day after tomorrow, I would be forced to return to Hogwarts.


So far, my Easter holiday was quite dull. I was not used to my home being so empty, consisting of only three people. Actually, it felt more like two, since Dad would leave for the Ministry at five in the morning, and return home at ten in the night. I barely had a glimpse of him each day.


I hated the empty silence in my home. Whenever I’d speak, my voice would echo throughout the house, reminding me of my loneliness. The only person I had left for company was Mum, but she often retreated to her room for sleep. I didn’t tell Mum, but I knew she went to sleep so that she could forget her worries for a while.
 

Right now I was lying in my bed, staring out the large window on the other side of my room. I watched as the sky turned from bright orange to light purple, as evening turned into night. Thin, wispy clouds were visible outside, but they disappeared as the sky turned black. Stars were scattered throughout the night sky, and how long I watched the sky, I didn’t know. All was quiet, and I was alone. If I listened hard enough, I could hear Mum’s snores from the room next door.


I became drowsy due to the peacefulness of my room. And the next thing I knew, I was asleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Ginny!” a voice shouted, shaking me in my sleep.


I woke up with a start, but I only felt half-awake. My mind was fuzzy, and I was extremely confused. I was still in my bed, but whoever was trying to wake me up seemed more impatient than ever.


“Ginny! Get up NOW! I have no time for this!” Mum said, quickly opening my closet and pulling out a knapsack.


“Mum? What’s going on?” I asked, trying to stifle a huge yawn.

 
“We’re going to Aunt Muriel’s.” she responded curtly, piling random clothes into my knapsack.

 
“But why?” I asked, even more confused than before.

 
“Stop asking questions, I’ll explain later! You’re father’s downstairs, he’s waiting for us!” she said, zipping up my knapsack and levitating it downstairs with her wand.

 
“Shouldn’t I change out of my pajamas first?” I said, following her out the doorway.


“No! They could be coming for us any minute!” she said, sounding a bit harassed.


“Mum, what’s going on!” I repeated, frustrated that she wouldn’t even tell me why we were leaving.

 
Mum looked annoyed for a moment, clearly because of my endless questions. Then her expression changed from annoyed to fearful. “They’re coming for us—the Death Eaters.”


“Death Eaters?” I repeated, suddenly scared. Why were they after us? What had we done to become You-Know-Who’s next targets? I didn’t dare ask Mum any more questions—now was simply not the time.

 
“Molly, come on!” Dad shouted, who was peering out the window. I saw a large group of dark, hooded figures appearing outside of the Burrow.


Mum apparated with a loud crack. Dad grabbed hold of my hand and I cross-apparated with him. It was such an uncomfortable sensation—I felt as if I was about to be sick, because it was like I was being squeezed through a tube.

 
A few moments later, we ended up at the outskirts of a small suburban town. All of the houses were large and Victorian styled, and each looked over a hundred years old.


It took me a while to re-gain my balance. This had been my first time apparating, and it was definitely not pleasant. I felt dizzy and I had suddenly gotten a headache.


“Are you alright?” asked Dad, knowing that this was my first time apparating.

 
“I’m fine.” I said, although I was feeling extremely queasy. I was so confused—just a few minutes ago, I had been asleep in my room. The next thing I knew, we were in a strange town because Death Eaters were after us.


“Muriel’s house is a few blocks away—we couldn’t apparate there directly because of the protective charms around her house, but it’s not too far…” Mum said, leading the way.


I picked up my knapsack and followed, my feet getting wetter because of the rain puddles on the street. It was the middle of the night, and the street was pitch-black. Nobody was here except for us…at least, I hoped so. Why had the Death Eaters come for us? Could they still find us?


“Molly, we’ve got to move a bit quicker, Ginny’s still got the trace on her,” Dad said worriedly.

 
“I’m walking as fast as I can, Arthur!” Mum snapped.


Dad did not argue—we both knew Mum was easily irritated when she was under stress.


We walked for another five minutes in the cool, still night. We passed by dark alleyways and abandoned houses, and I wondered if Great-Aunt Muriel lived in a house that was as old as she was. I couldn’t remember it very well, since the last time we visited her was when I was only six. Simply put, our family was not very fond of Great-Aunt Muriel.

 
“This is it.” Mum said, stopping in front of a particularly old, blue Victorian house.


Her lawn was full of weeds and there was a broken statue of a little girl carrying a watering can. The wooden exterior was slightly chipped, but otherwise, the house was fine. It was a wonder that someone so old could live in a house all on their own—but then again, Muriel was perfectly fit. She used her old age as an excuse to get everyone to do what she wanted. I had seen Muriel do magic on a few occasions, and I was astonished at her magical talent. Muriel was not a typical old woman.


Mum rang the doorbell, and I could faintly hear it echo throughout the house. We waited for a while, and I saw that a few lights had been opened inside.


We waited for about another two minutes, and I guessed that Muriel was taking her time walking to the door. I tried to ready myself for her endless complaining.

 
Great-Aunt Muriel peered out of the small hole at the top of her door and recognized us, letting us in. She kept glaring at me with great distaste—what, were my legs too skinny? Knowing Muriel, it had to be something like that.

 
“Aunt Muriel, how have you been?” Mum asked her, forcing a smile.


Muriel merely grunted in response, turning around and seating herself onto her red velvet sofa, grumbling under her breath. A few days after Bill’s wedding, my parents had talked to Aunt Muriel. If we were ever in need of assistance or a safe place, Muriel had agreed (with great bitterness) to allow us to stay in her home. So Muriel knew exactly why we were here.

 
“I knew they’d come for your family, Molly. Why do you all have to act like blood-traitors, eh? I warned you about this Weasley—but no, you went marrying him anyway! He’s a blood-traitor, that’s what he is!” she spat.


Dad pretended that he had not just heard what Muriel had said about him, and went outside to cast a few extra charms around the house.


“Ginevra! Fetch me a glass of water!” Muriel barked.


“Yes, Aunt Muriel.” I said dully, and walked quickly to the kitchen. This was how things were going to be from now on—it was like leaving one hell and entering another; from Hogwarts to Great-Aunt Muriel’s house.


I turned on the sink, filling up a small glass with water. I was deep in thought, when I heard the doorbell ring. Both and Mum and Dad had stopped talking.

 
I rushed to the living room, and I saw Mum cautiously approach the door. “Who’s there?” she asked nervously, her wand pointed at the door.

 
“Bill Weasley!” the voice said.

 
Mum and Dad exchanged a look, clearly not convinced.

 
“William Arthur Weasley, eldest brother of six, born on the 29th of November, 1970, also known as the guy who was attacked by Fenrir Greyback a year before.”

 
Mum sighed with relief and opened the door, revealing a slightly scarred, tall and red-haired man: It was Bill for sure.

 
“Bill!” I exclaimed happily, and he hugged me. “Why are you here?” I asked, still smiling.


Bill was no longer smiling—his expression was grim and he exchanged a look with Dad.


“Bill, dear, can you tell us?” Mum asked, and it was then I realized that Mum was just as confused as I was.

 
Bill hesitated for a moment, and answered. “It’s Ron, he—”


“Ron? Is he okay? What happened—is he hurt?” Mum said, starting to panic.

 
“No, Mum, he’s fine! He’s at my house right now. In fact, so are Harry and Hermione.” Bill said calmly.


“Really? They’re alright? Are you serious, Bill?” I asked, bewildered.

 
“Yes, they’re asleep. Fleur’s still taking care of Hermione though, she was injured.” he said.


“But how, Bill?” Mum asked, yearning information as much as I was.


“I think we should all sit down.” Dad said wearily.

 
And so we did. Even Aunt Muriel seemed mildly interested.


“It all started when I was getting ready to leave the Ministry. I was just stepping out of my office when I saw that a group of Death Eaters were attempting to curse me. I ran, of course, and I fought them. They kept shouting that I was helping the enemy, and the Ministry started closing the floo networks to keep me there. I had to get home fast to warn you two, because I knew they’d try to finish us off in our own home. So I woke up Molly and I told her we needed to leave as soon as we could.” Dad said.

 
“But why were they after you, Dad?” I asked.

 
“They’ve finally figured out that Ron is with Harry and Hermione.” Bill said. “According to a boy named Dean Thomas—”

 
“Dean? What does Dean have anything to do with this?” I exclaimed.

 
“You know him?” Bill asked.
 

“Yes, I do.” I said, not going into details.

 
“Anyway, he said that those three had been captured by snatchers, and they brought them to the Death Eater headquarters—Malfoy Manor. Harry had been jinxed so he didn’t look like himself, so the Death Eaters weren’t really sure if it was him. They locked Harry, Ron, and Dean into the dungeon and Bellatrix Lestrange started torturing Hermione. They managed to escape somehow, and all I know is that it had something to do with the help of a house elf, who brought them to Shell Cottage. The poor thing died saving them.” Bill finished.

 
Mum looked speechless, her mouth slightly hanging open. What Dad and Bill had just told us sounded bizarre. But then again, nothing seemed normal anymore.
 

“So, Hermione’s injured, Ron and Harry are alright, and Dean Thomas is there too?” I asked.


“Yes, but there are more people there too. Ollivander the wand maker, a Goblin, and that Lovegood girl who lived on that hill near the Burrow.” Bill said.

 
“Luna!” I exclaimed, standing up. “Mum, I’m going to Shell Cottage.”


“Absolutely not! It’s the middle of the night!” Mum said, also standing up.

 
“Fine, I’ll go tomorrow morning.” I said.

 
“Ginny, the Ministry is still tracking us. What if you lead them to Shell Cottage and they find Harry and everyone else? Then what? It’s not safe!” she said.


“I don’t care, I’m going.” I said stubbornly. I hated the fact that Mum always had a good reason for everything.

 
“Ginny, Mum’s right.” Bill said softly.

 
“No! Stop telling me what to do! I wish you’d all stop treating me like a little girl!” I shouted.

 
“Don’t use that tone on me!” Mum warned.

 
“I’ll use whatever tone I want!” I said, ignoring the wetness in my eyes, not wanting to cry in front of everyone. Here was my chance to help Harry, to help save us from this stupid war, and my family was still treating their sixteen year-old daughter like a child.

 
I walked quickly up the stairs to the room I would be staying in, and slammed the door shut. I heard people arguing downstairs, and I wished they would stop. Arguing wasn’t going to stop the war, and it wouldn’t kill You-Know-Who either.


I collapsed onto the bed, my face buried under a pillow. My life was like hell.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The next few days weren’t any better. Now, we also had the looming thought that there were Death Eaters after us. From what we had heard on Potterwatch, we were criminals for helping Undesirable No. 1 and his accomplices. Bill would check on us regularly, and each time he did, Muriel would start shouting at him to cut his hair.

 
This morning I was expecting a visit from Bill, and I finally decided that I’d beg him until he’d let me go to Shell Cottage. I was probably going to go insane in this house because of Muriel criticizing my family, constantly needing her disgusting feet rubbed, and the fact that just last night Mum had burst into tears because of how stressed out she was.
 

Thankfully, nobody was awake yet. It was eight in the morning, and everybody except me woke up at ten. That way, when Bill would check on the house in a few minutes or so, Mum wouldn’t notice me leaving the house. I just knew that if I begged Bill enough, he’d let me go. I was closer to Bill than any of my other brothers, and he knew that too.


Crack. Someone had apparated onto the top step.


I rushed to the door and didn’t even bother asking for a name, which was quite stupid of me, considering we were being tracked by the Ministry and that there could be a Death Eater on the other side of the door. But I was sure that it was Bill; he was the only one who could apparate here, since he was this house's Secret Keeper.


“Ginny? You’re not supposed to just let someone in like that.” Bill frowned.


“I knew it was you.” I shrugged, slightly annoyed that he didn’t even bother saying hello.

 
“So, is everyone still asleep?” he asked.

 
“Yeah,” I said, not looking directly at Bill. I was still looking for the right moment to ask him to let me come to Shell Cottage.


“No disturbances lately?” he continued.


“No.” I responded.

 
“Well then, I don’t want to wake anyone up, so I’ll be on my way,” Bill finished, heading for the door.


“Wait! I want to come with you.” I said, following him.


“Ginny, don’t be ridiculous, you know it’s dangerous.” he said, stopping in front of the doorway.


“Look, Bill. I’ve been in more danger at Hogwarts. Do you know how many detentions I managed to get? How many times I’ve wandered the corridors at night? I fought Death Eaters last month!” I said.


Bill looked like he was deep in thought, considering my words. “I’m assuming you didn’t stay out of trouble like I told you to, right?”


“Of course not.” I said, frowning.


Instead of getting angry, however, he laughed. “A true Weasley, I see.”


“I can go then?” I asked hopefully.

 
“I’d like to bring you, but what about Mum? She’ll go ballistic when she wakes up and can’t find you.” Bill said.


“Mum’s going to wake up in two hours, and I promise I’ll be back by then.” I said, practically on my knees pleading.

 
“Fine, you can come. But don’t you dare tell Mum.” Bill said, admitting defeat.

 
“You’re amazing, Bill.” I said, hugging him.


After a full year, I was finally going to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Crack.


I landed on a field of grass near Shell Cottage. My second time cross-apparating wasn’t as bad as the first, but I still felt sick after the sensation.


When I re-gained my balance, I stood up to observe my surroundings. I could see Bill and Fleur’s small yet charming cottage a short distance away. Its chimney let out puffs of smoke, and the bricks were beautiful shades of red and brown. The windows reflected the blazing rays of sunlight and the sea.
 

Bill led the way, but I was distracted by the waves of the ocean. They crashed onto the large, rocky cliff that I stood on, and the cool sea mist hit my face. The sounds of waves crashing onto shore created a wonderful calm atmosphere.


Bill opened the wooden door of the cottage which led straight to the dining room. There was only one small table for two, but far too many other chairs were crammed around it, probably to occupy the extra visitors.
 

We walked into the kitchen that smelled of pepper and other kitchen spices that Mum used. There was a continuous smell of ocean and sand throughout the house, giving it the feel of a vacation home. Although it seemed quite small from the outside, it was very spacious on the inside. There were windows everywhere; on the walls and on the kitchen ceiling, giving the inside plenty of sunlight.
 

“So, do you like it?” Bill asked, smiling.
 

“Yeah, a lot.” I responded, still looking around in awe. It was just so…charming.


“Bill?” a voice asked, appearing at the doorway. It was Fleur, her wand nervously pointed in our direction. She sighed with relief when she saw Bill, and when she noticed me her smile suddenly brightened.


“Geeny! ‘Ow wonderful to see you!” she said, embracing me in a tight hug.


“Hello, Fleur.” I said, awkwardly hugging her back.

 
When she finally let go of me, she starting fumbling around in the fridge, pulling out some fresh fruit. She summoned a knife and it starting chopping peeling and chopping the fruit all on its own.


“Are you hungry?” she asked.


“Yes, thank you.” I smiled back absent-mindedly. I kept glancing at the doors in the hallway, knowing that my brother, my best friend, and my ex-boyfriend were in this very house.


Fleur put the bowl of fruit onto the table and I starting eating the grapes, realizing how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, after all.


I noticed Fleur leading Bill out of the kitchen, and I saw them talking in hushed voices in the living room. Bill glanced at me, and I started to wonder if I had something to do with their conversation.


“Where are Harry, Ron, and Hermione?” I asked, almost immediately as they re-entered the kitchen.

 
Bill froze on the spot, giving me an apologetic look. “Ginny, I’m so sorry, they left just a few minutes after I did.”


“What?” I said, refusing to believe it. My hopes had gotten so high, and I was crushed at this sudden piece of news. I had missed them by a mere thirty minutes.
 

“You mean they left just now? As in, this morning?” I asked again, my voice slightly raspy.


“I’m afraid so. I only just found out.” Bill said, resting his hand on my shoulder.


Frustration and anger overcame me. I clenched my knuckles until they turned white, trying to prevent a temper tantrum—I did not want to act like a six year-old. Not now.

 
“But zat Lovegood girl eez still ‘ere. I think she eez your friend.” Fleur piped in.

 
My anger subsided a little bit at the thought of seeing Luna again. She was probably still asleep, so I’d have to wait a bit. I was still frustrated, though.
 

I wanted to know what those three were doing—what exactly was their plan to defeat You-Know-Who? Where were they now? Bill was sure to have heard something while they were here, maybe I could gather some clues as to what they were doing.

 
“So, Bill. Did you hear anything suspicious while those three were here?” I asked, trying to sound casual.

 
“Not really, they were really secretive about everything.” he responded, biting into an apple.


“Come on, you must have heard something.” I pressed on.


“Not much, something about a Horcrux, whatever that is—”


Crash.


Fleur had just dropped the plates she was holding. The pieces lay shattered on the kitchen floor. Fleur seemed to be in a state of shock, and she was looking at Bill as if he had just died in front of her.


“Do not utter zat word under this roof!” she said, looking appalled. Her eyes started darting around the kitchen, seeming as if she was afraid that someone would attack her at any moment. She started pacing around the kitchen, muttering things in rapid French.


“Fleur, dear, you should sit down.” Bill said, holding her hand, looking worried.


Fleur sat down, still clutching her heart. Her face had gone pale-white.

 
“Fleur, does that word mean something bad?” I asked gently.


She looked at me wearily. “Eet is more than just bad. It is terrible—evil, cruel, gruesome—”


“Okay, but what is it? A spell? An object?” I continued.

 
Fleur examined my face a little while before answering, clearly contemplating whether or not she should tell me.


“Come with me.” she said, standing up and leading me down the hallway. She opened the door to her room and entered, immediately closing the curtains and lights. The room was so dark, I couldn’t see Fleur at all.

 
A small candle was ignited, casting an eerie glow throughout the room. I could see Fleur’s face now, but just barely.

 
“First, you may not say ze word. Ze French believe zat speaking of such dark magic is bad luck. Very bad luck.” she said.


“Okay, I won’t say it.” I agreed.


“Also, you must not tell anyone about this.” she continued.

 
“I won’t, I promise.” I agreed once more.

 
“It eez a dark, evil object created by some of ze darkest wizards known in history. It is created by committing murder and powerful dark magic that I do not even know of. It prevents ze wizard from ever dying, until ze object is destroyed.” she said in a hushed voice.

 
“And how do you know about this?” I asked.

 
“Beauxbatons does not teach ze same things as ‘Ogwarts. I learned about it in my final year, but only because I was an advanced student. But remember, we were taught ‘ow terrible the dark magic was, not ‘ow to make it.”


A sudden thought had occurred to me: Harry, Ron, and Hermione had been talking about Horcruxes. Did that mean Voldemort created a Horcrux too? Were they trying to destroy the Horcrux?

 
“Fleur…” I said slowly, “Do you think You-Know-Who created a you-know-what…and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are out trying to destroy it?

 
Everything seemed to be clicking into place—it all made sense. Harry said he was following Dumbledore’s orders, and that could have easily been to destroy Voldemort’s Horcrux. Dumbledore must have known that Voldemort made one…and now Harry, Ron, and Hermione were searching for it.


Fleur looked terrified. “Eet is quite possible.”

 
“Can you make more than one Hor—” I started to ask.

 
“Do not say ze word!” Fleur interrupted. “And no, making it damages ze creator. Eet would be almost impossible to make more than one.”

 
I felt a rush of gratitude towards Fleur. I guess the only reason I didn't like her at first was because I felt as if she was taking away my brother from me. 


And now I knew what Harry was after, and I knew that my friends and my brother were safe. I wasn’t completely in the dark anymore, and it felt great. I would talk to Harry again someday, and I’d prove to him that I was smarter than he thought.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Author’s Note: OH MY GOSH GUYS DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THIS CHAPTER TOOK TO WRITE??? No, of course you don’t. You’re not the one who had to re-write this stupid chapter three times because of canon and flow mistakes…anyway, so you’re probably wondering why I made Ginny know about Horcruxes. And the answer is simple: Because I can. There is no canon evidence that suggests that Ginny never found out. Therefore, I am not going off-canon. Ginny is a smart person. And also, please excuse Fleur's dialogue, I am not French, nor do I know any French people, so I don't know what a French accent sounds like.

In the next chapter we see Luna again! Yay!! And we are officially two chapters away from the Battle of Hogwarts.

Please review! :)

~Rosie
 

 


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