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Protection by PrincessPotter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 22
Word Count: 251,450
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Mystery, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Lupin, Snape, Bill, Draco, Ginny
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 03/08/2006
Last Chapter: 05/08/2011
Last Updated: 05/08/2011

Winner Best Plot Twist l 2008 Dobbys

This is a story about love. Love that is new and love that is old and a love that threatens to destroy everything. In a post-Voldemort world, Harry is assigned to protect Ginny from a dangerous dark wizard who has singled her out. As their love grows, the line between good and evil begins to blur as finding the truth becomes a test of trust. Through AU and canon and everything in between, this is their journey.

Chapter 14: Falling Apart

The Hogwarts main hall was silent, the midday sun shining through the tall windows that lined the room. Fred sat on top of the Gryffindor table, eating an apple he’d nicked from the kitchens.

In front of him, Bill was pacing back and forth, his hands clasped tightly behind his back. Unshaven and rumpled looking, the eldest Weasley ran a hand through his hair as he mumbled under his breath. Fred watched him warily, taking another bite of the apple as they waited in silence.

After several minutes the sound of distant footsteps drifted into the room.

Fred continued eating, while Bill looked over, focusing on the open door as the footsteps grew louder. A moment later, Ron appeared in the doorway, a frown on his face and his wand in his hand.

“Is Hedwig back yet?” Bill asked coming to a stop.

“Not yet,” Ron answered, shaking his head.

His shoulders stiffened and his expression hardened when Bill let out an irritated snort and went back to pacing.

“She might not even have found them yet,” Ron defended, coming to a stop next to Fred.

If she finds them,” Bill muttered.

“Harry might still bring her back,” Fred suggested doubtfully. “Even if he doesn’t get Ron’s message, he’ll bring her back if he thinks he might hurt her.”

“He’d have to be thinking rationally to do that,” Bill countered in exasperation. “By the time he’s afraid he’ll hurt her, it might be too late to do anything about it.”

“Yeah, well maybe they wouldn’t have run off if you’d handled things differently,” Ron grumbled. “Maybe if you’d trusted everyone with…”

“Dammit, Ron, are we going to do this every time we see each other?” Bill groused. “You were too close to Harry. There’s no way you could have kept your memories. How were you supposed to see him everyday and be his best friend if you were lying to him the whole time? You never could have done it if you remembered you’d stolen his memories.”

“I didn’t steal anything!” Ron shot back.

“You were just as involved as the rest of us,” Bill snapped, squaring off with Ron, “whether you remembered or not!”

“I never wanted any of this,” Ron glared at him. “Ginny didn’t want this…”

“It was bigger than just Ginny!” Bill exclaimed. “You know what it would have done to Harry if he’d killed her. It would have killed him too…the goodness in him. He would’ve been lost to us and unstoppable.”

“And if he kills her now?” Fred asked.

“He won’t do that!” Ron rounded on Fred furiously.

“You don’t know that, Ron,” Bill said firmly. “And the odds aren’t in his favor.”

A tense silence descended around them for a moment as Ron struggled to find a response. The need to defend Harry was instinctual, but he knew deep down that Bill was right. As much as he believed Harry would try to prevent anything from happening, there was no guarantee that he’d be able to control himself.

“You have to face the facts, Ron…”

“No, I don’t,” he protested stubbornly.

“Yes, you do!” Bill shot back. “Face it, Ron, you know he’s dangerous or you wouldn’t be out here trying to find them just as frantically as we are. What if he hurts her before we find them? Then what? Will it matter that you trusted him then? Will…”

“Just stop it!” Ron interrupted hotly. “I’m not talking about this with you anymore and I don’t…”

“Weren’t you two singing this song when we left?” George’s voice called from the doorway, interrupting the argument.

Bill turned to the door while Ron continued to glare at him.

“Anything?” Bill asked focusing on his father as they approached.

”No,” Arthur replied, looking as though he hadn’t slept. “Neither of them are showing up on any of the Ministry sensors, but that was expected.”

“Unless he wants us to see them, we’re not going to find them,” Ron pointed out, his voice suddenly weary.

Bringing his hands to his forehead, he tried to rub away his growing headache.

“Percy stayed to monitor the Ministry feeds,” George supplied, hopping up on the table next to Fred and taking his unfinished apple.

“But if we can’t see them, why would he do that?” Fred asked furrowing his brow.

“We know Harry’s unstable. If he surges large enough, his own wards might not hide his signature,” George explained, taking a bite of the apple.

“Or if he kills her he’d have no reason to hide,” Bill added softly.

“Bill,” Arthur warned sharply as Ron inhaled a sharp breath. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Where’s Charlie?” Ron asked tightly.

“Oh, yeah,” George said snapping his fingers. “Charlie wants Hermione to meet him in the…hey, where is she anyway?” he asked suddenly, looking around.

The Weasley men all turned to Ron expectantly, their brows furrowing together as his ears turned red.

“Ah…she’s looking after Mum,” he said.

“What?” Fred asked in surprise. “Why would she do that? This is Harry!”

“And Ginny!” George added.

“Well, she’s, um…not feeling well,” Ron explained, avoiding their eyes as he shifted his weight on his feet.

“This is important,” Bill pointed out. “She should…”

“Don’t start, Bill,” Ron warned testily.

“I’m just saying that a cold shouldn’t keep her at home when she knows how much we need…”

“She doesn’t have a cold, Bill!” Ron snapped taking a step toward him. “She’s pregnant.”

Bill opened his mouth to reply before shutting it with a snap.

When no one said anything, Ron took a breath, moving his gaze across the shocked faces of Fred and George before stopping on Arthur’s. He could feel the heat creeping up his neck as the silence stretched on.

“Um…we were going to tell you at the picnic, but…”

He jumped in surprise when the twins suddenly let out simultaneous whoops before rushing him.

Surrounded by their congratulations and jokes, Ron found himself smiling and soon laughing with them as they pounded on his back.

He sobered when Bill stepped up.

His oldest brother seemed to hesitate, looking slightly self-conscious before holding out his hand.

“Congratulations,” he said, his eyes looking brighter than Ron had seen in days.

Ron dropped his gaze to his hand, before taking it firmly.

“Thanks, Bill,” he replied.

Breaking into a grin, Bill pulled him into a hug.

“Really, I’m happy for you,” he said. “I didn’t mean to imply that she didn’t…”

“I know,” Ron nodded when Bill’s voice faded.

Turning toward his father, Ron suddenly felt nervous again.

“We um…know the timing isn’t great but…” he began but trailed off when Arthur suddenly hugged him tightly.

“Congratulations, son,” he said thickly, before pulling back. Keeping his hands on Ron’s shoulders, he shook him slightly, smiling despite the tears in his eyes. “Does your mother know?”


Ginny sat curled under a blanket on the sofa, staring unseeing into the fire burning in the grate. The front door was open and a slight breeze rustled the window curtains.

She’d spent the afternoon on the sofa in an attempt to rest. She’d slept on and off, and when she had, it was fitful. Twice she’d woken up with a headache to find Harry leaning over her with a worried expression.

Bringing her glass up, she took another sip of her wine. Despite her attempts to calm down, her hand remained slightly unsteady and she pressed her lips together in frustration.

Harry came in from the porch a second later, pausing at her expression.

“What is it?” he asked automatically in concern.

“Nothing,” she replied, shaking her head and taking another sip of wine.

Crossing the room to her, he held out his hand.

“I want to show you something,” he said when she didn’t move.


“Just…come on,” he smiled mysteriously before reaching down and linking his fingers through hers.

Pulling her from the sofa, he led her back to the front door and out onto the porch. Guiding her to the railing, he slipped behind her, his hands resting on her hips.

“It’s not raining tonight,” he pointed out softly even as she gasped.

The night was unusually clear, not a cloud in the sky. Even so, it wasn’t black. Instead it was filled with green and gold swirls as they seemed to dance in front of the stars.

“It’s the Northern Lights,” he murmured into her hair.

“Wow,” she breathed, resting back against him. “It’s beautiful…”

“Yes, it is,” Harry whispered, wrapping his arms around her stomach. “That’s what we look like, you know.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, furrowing her brow and tilting her head back against his shoulder to look at him.

“Your magical aura is gold,” he explained, his eyes on the sky.

“Is it?” Ginny asked, refocusing on the lights as she rested her arms on his, secure in the warmth of his embrace.

“Mine’s green,” he added as he threaded their fingers back together. “And they look like that. We look like that.”

Standing together in silence, they didn’t move for several minutes as they watched the lights chase each other across the sky.

Eventually, the clouds began to move back in, blocking out the lights and covering them in darkness. Harry sighed, shifting his head to rest his cheek on her hair.

“Ready?” he asked softly.

“No,” Ginny answered truthfully. Raising her glass, she took a deep swallow of wine before shutting her eyes. She could feel his heart beating with hers, soothing in its steady rhythm.

“We don’t have to do this,” Harry told her gently, kissing the top of her head.

“Yes, we do,” Ginny corrected. “I do.”

The wineglass hung from her fingertips as he led her back into the house and up the steps. The old wood creaked beneath their feet as they walked, breaking the silence around them. It seemed as though the closer they got to the bedroom, the higher the tension rose.

Pushing open the door, Harry led her inside. The room was dark, with moonlight filtering in through the shades and casting everything in shadow. With a wave of Harry’s fingers the candles positioned around the room flared to life.

“How are we going to do this?” Ginny asked apprehensively.

Looking over, Harry studied her face for moment. Then, moving tentatively, he took the wineglass from her hand and crossed the room.

“I thought you’d lie on the bed…just in case,” he suggested quietly, setting the empty glass on the bedside table.

He felt almost sluggish as the fear in the room pressed against him.

Turning back around, he met her gaze. For a moment neither moved, both nervous about what was to come and frightened of the possibilities.

Finally, Ginny’s eyes moved to the bed and she walked purposefully toward it. Climbing onto the covers she turned over and stretched out on her back.

Swallowing as he fought his unease, Harry climbed up beside her. Kneeling next to her, he held her gaze for a moment.

When he reached out and ran his fingers tenderly through her hair, Ginny’s eyes moved to the ceiling above him.

“It’s going to be fine,” he said softly. “I’m sure…”

“Just get on with it, Harry,” she interrupted, her eyes filled with determination as her gaze flicked back to his.

“Right,” he nodded resolutely.

Climbing over her, he positioned himself so that he was on his knees, one on either side of her hips.

“Just relax,” he murmured, resting his hands next to her shoulders as he leaned over her. Bringing his hand to her cheek he kissed her tenderly.

“I love you,” he breathed against her lips.

“I love you too,” she replied softly.

“I’ll stop if…if anything…” Swallowing to try to hide his apprehension, he kissed her again. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“I know.”

Legilimens,” he whispered, rising up on his arms and meeting her gaze.

Her eyes held his firmly and in an instant he was inside her mind. Carefully, slowly, he sifted through her thoughts looking for anything unusual. At first her mind seemed normal, filled with memories, thoughts and dreams like anyone else’s.

When he found the moment in the kitchen, he held his breath, pausing briefly to watch the scene unfold. Ginny’s transition from pleasure to pain was as swift and violent as he remembered and he shuttered as he watched.

His power flared briefly in response, but he pushed it down with a frown.

Feeling Ginny tense beneath him at the memory, Harry moved on with determination, delving deeper into her memories.

So much had happened since Malfoy’s attack at the Burrow; Harry was almost surprised when he stumbled upon the image of him in her room.

“I’ll have to remember you’re a light sleeper,” Malfoy purred as he came into focus above her. He smirked, watching her eyes widen in horror...

Harry could feel Ginny’s desire for him to stop watching, but he shook his head slightly continuing to observe the attack.

His anger surged quickly, followed by the guilt of not having kept her safe. He began to shake as he listened to Malfoy’s words and felt Ginny’s fear as she’d fought to get away.

“I want you, and I will have you,” Malfoy promised, keeping his face close to hers. “Not today…but soon, Ginevra. He won’t be able to stop me. No matter how…”

“Go to hell, Malfoy,” she spat shoving him up.

“Move on, Harry,” Ginny’s voice suddenly invaded the scene as she reached up and grasped his wrist.

Ignoring her, Harry stubbornly watched as the rest of scene unfolded.

Malfoy’s eyes were icy as he raked them down her body. The lust in his gaze made Ginny feel sick, her skin crawling as though he were touching her with his hands.

“Merlin, I can hardly wait to have you now that I know Potter wants you.”

Harry lifted his hand from the bed and threaded their fingers together when Ginny eyes filled with tears below him. His brow furrowed as he watched Ginny’s wandless magic blow Malfoy across the room. He could see her own confusion before she ran to the door. The scene ended abruptly when Malfoy’s Cruciatus curse slammed Ginny into her bureau.

Taking a steadying breath, Harry pushed deeper and deeper into her mind, encountering moments from school and growing up, but there was no hint of the wall of white he’d seen before. There was however, a growing sense of deja-vu as he watched her play Quidditch and eat lunch in the large main hall of Beauxbatons.

It was the brown-haired boy who brought the first real hint of pain. Instinctively, Harry knew it was Julien. Jealousy came first, intense and immediate despite the knowledge that everything he saw was in the past.

Blinking rapidly, Harry tried to focus on the images that began to flash around him. Julien and Ginny flying and kissing and laughing…it seemed familiar and yet wrong. A tremor ran through Ginny’s body beneath him as the memories seemed to begin to distort.

The first spike of pain shot through Harry’s forehead at the same time that Ginny winced beneath him. The world seemed to shift, the images in her mind shaking before steadying.

Determined to figure out what was going on, Harry pushed deeper, flipping through her memories like the pages of a book as he looked for the passage he wanted.

“Harry,” Ginny murmured.

“It’s ok,” he assured her softly, pressing deeper in search of the elusive wall of white.

He could feel his power churning slowly inside of him. The farther he pushed, the more unstable the images seemed to become. Within moments, everything appeared to be trembling, pushing him back as though trying to keep him out.

He stopped on a memory of Ginny running toward Julien, her expression filled with determination. Oblivious to the room full of students around them, she threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly.

Harry’s heart was suddenly pounding, his power swirling faster as he watched Ginny pull back, a smile on her face right before Julien kissed her.

Releasing Ginny’s hand, Harry gripped the bedspread to steady him as the image shuttered violently.

Ginny gasped beneath him, and his head throbbed.

Something was trying to pull him away from the image as it began to distort, the edges blurring as the colors faded together.

“S-stop,” Ginny gasped from beneath him. “Harry, stop, it…it hurts…”

“I know,” he gritted out, his knuckles white as he gripped the sheets. “Just…”

Fighting to focus on the collapsing scene, he squinted. For an instant everything altered. The ice blue colors decorating the stone walls deepened to a burgundy as the students robes turned black. In the center of the room, Ginny kissed not a brunette, but a boy with tangled dark hair.

The wall of white came suddenly, slamming him back and causing his skull to pound with pain. The agony skyrocketed as his power flared unexpectedly inside of him. Crying out, he scrambled to keep control and pull out of her mind.

Ginny began to move but his hand flew to her hair, twisting into the tangled locks to hold her in place.

“Don’t,” he groaned, “I can’t…oh, God…fuck…”

He couldn’t stop pushing. As hard as he tried to pull away, to leave her mind, it wouldn’t happen. Instead of backing away from the barrier, a force propelled him forward, attempting to break through.

The images that flashed between them, jerking and distorted, were unrecognizable as the brightness encompassed everything.

Ginny whimpered beneath him, chocking out his name as his eyes darkened, his body beginning to pulse with power above her.

The air was electrified swirling around them with increasing force as Harry panicked. His knuckles were white against the sheet as he struggled in vain to stop another, stronger surge of darkness that threatened to take over his consciousness.

“No,” he gritted out, choking on his horror as the urge to hurt her suddenly grew more and more extreme.

Gasping for breath, Ginny tried to push him off, only to curl her hand into his shirt when the pain became unbearable.

Harry struggled in vain to stop what was mounting inside of him. Amongst the chaos of her mind he was startled to see Julien again. Almost as soon as the image appeared, it shuttered and shifted.

For an instant a shock of black hair and round glasses overtook the youth’s features before white pain seemed to snap forward, enveloping all of the jumbled images as it rushed toward Harry.

A loud crack exploded around them as Ginny screamed and Harry went flying across the room. He hit the wall hard as Ginny gasped on the bed.

Her hands flew to her head, pressing against her forehead. Tears of pain rolled down her cheeks as her body trembled.

Taking several deep, shuttering breaths she squeezed her eyes shut. Finally rolling onto her side, she pushed herself up on unsteady arms only to freeze.

A whirlwind of energy seemed to be building in the room as the curtains blew, straining against their rods. Ginny’s hair whipped around her face and the woosh of rushing air filled her ears as she stared at Harry in disbelief.

Rising to his feet in the middle of the room, he rolled his shoulders back and lifted his face.

His eyes shone black, his chest heaving as he stared back at her. His mouth twisted into a cruel smile and her heart slammed into her chest as a fear ingrained deep within her reignited.

“Don’t do this,” she pleaded automatically, unsure of what she meant as the words came out.

“Don’t do what?” he asked.

His voice was wrong, darker and thicker, almost as if it echoed across the room as he spoke. He took a step toward her and she instinctively scooted back on the bed.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Before she could reply he’d flown toward her. He moved so quickly she didn’t even have time to blink before he’d lifted her up and slammed her into the wall behind the bed.

He stood on the mattress while Ginny’s feet dangled.

“Don’t do what?” he repeated his voice a caress that sent a shiver of fear down Ginny’s spine. “Make you scream?” he murmured.

Their eyes locked at his words. The vision came from nowhere, slamming into them both as they cried out in pain. Harry fell into her, pinning her to the wall while she clutched his shoulders her eyes squeezed shut.

“You can’t run from me, Ginny!” Harry bellowed.

“Please fight it!” she cried back. “Please! You don’t want this…you don’t…”

“Don’t tell me what I want!” he roared angrily, throwing out his hand.

Ginny flew backwards, slamming into the bookshelf and sending books and knickknacks raining down on top of her when she hit the floor.

“I’m going to make you scream,” Harry promised as he stalked toward her, the air around them rippling with power.

“Harry, please…” she groaned as she pulled herself to her feet. “I love you…you love m…”

“Stop saying that!” he screamed and a red light shot from his hand, exploding over her head as she ducked.

“I’m going to make you scream! And then I’m going to make you bleed and beg and when I kill you I’m going to be free…”

Ginny’s head felt like it was splitting in-two, her face buried in Harry’s shoulder. It wasn’t until she suddenly couldn’t breathe that she wrenched her eyes open. Harry’s hand was wrapped securely around her throat, his grip tightening by the second.

Bringing her knee up with a cry, she hit him hard between the legs.

With a groan of pain, Harry crumpled, bringing her down with him as he fell to his knees. They bounced on the mattress, and Ginny ended up on top of him.

She scrambled away and tumbled off the end of the bed, landing hard on her hands and knees. Shooting to her feet she ran for the door.

She heard him yell a spell and spun around.


His magic collided with the shield just as it erupted from her hands. Although hers was strong, his was much stronger and it broke through.

Weakened by the collision with her barrier, however, it hit her with less force than intended.

With a gasp of pain, Ginny slammed into the doorframe. Clutching her shoulder, her eyes locked on Harry. She knew she should run, but she couldn’t seem to move as his gaze met hers.

“Harry,” she choked out, taking a step toward him.

On the bed Harry’s gaze went to where she was holding her shoulder.

For an instant he smiled, before he cried out and curled over on the bed. His hands tangled into his hair, the bed seeming to tremble as he managed to get out one terse order.


Hesitating for only a second, Ginny stumbled out the door. Glancing back when she heard the sound of splintering wood inside the bedroom, she flew down the stairs.

When she reached the front door, she stopped, her hand curled around the knob. Her chest heaving, she rested her forehead against the wood as she listened for any sound of his approach. The seconds ticked by as she waited, but she heard nothing from upstairs.

Eventually, she turned, sliding down the door until she was sitting with her knees pulled up to her chest.

She didn’t know how long she sat there. Her head was still pounding and her shoulder burned but she simply sat, her eyes glued on the floor by her feet.


At the sound of Harry’s voice, Ginny’s head snapped up and she pressed back against the door.

He was standing at the bottom of the stairs, his hands at his sides and his face in shadows.

“Are you ok?” she asked, her voice shaking.

“Am I ok?” he asked incredulously, his voice as unsteady as hers.

Stepping into the room and out of the darkness, his eyes were green and horrified as he stared at her. Honing in instantly on where she held her shoulder, he froze.

“You’re hurt,” he breathed.

“It’s fine,” Ginny assured him as she stood up.

“I hurt you,” he ground out, his teeth clenched as he curled his fingers into fists. “It’s not fine.”

When she approached him, he took a step back, his eyes glued on her shoulder.

“Harry, stop it,” she frowned. “It’s not your fault.”

“Of course it is!” he replied hotly. “Twice in two days I’ve lost control around you.”

“But you’re ok, now. I’m ok.”

“I could’ve killed you,” he whispered harshly.

“I don’t believe that,” she countered as she approached him. “You stopped. When you saw that I was hurt, you told me to run. You were stronger than the darkness.”

“It’s not that simple, Ginny. I’m dangero…”

“Stop,” she ordered, reaching out and grabbing his shirt when he looked ready to flee. “It was an accident,” she insisted firmly, although her voice shook. “We didn’t know that was going to happen.”

“You’re right, we didn’t,” he replied bleakly. “It was a stupid idea.”

“It wasn’t stupid. When you tried to look into my mind during the storm it affected me. You had no reason to think that whatever was wrong would affect you too.”

Shaking his head, Harry looked down.

“You know I’m right,” Ginny insisted.

“No you’re not,” he corrected, squeezing his eyes shut and bringing his palms to his forehead. “You’re not, Gin. It affected me too – the first time.”


“When I tried to look into your mind at the inn,” he said, lowering his hands and meeting her gaze. “It affected me. It blew me across the room and knocked me out, but not before I lost it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Why do you think I didn’t tell you?” Harry replied tiresomely. “I was trying to protect you. I didn’t want to make it worse or give you something else to worry about. I thought I’d be fine this time because I knew it might happen. I thought I could control it, but it was so strong.”

“So, what does it mean?”

“I don’t know.”

Reaching out, he pulled her hand from her shoulder. The fabric of her shirt was scorched and he stepped closer, peeling it carefully away from her skin.

Biting her lip, Ginny looked away, letting him run his fingers lightly around the wound.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered thickly. “Gin, I…”

The self-loathing in his voice made her shake her head. Tightening her grip on his shirt, she pulled him against her so she could rest her forehead on his chest.

“It’s ok,” she assured him, rubbing her nose into his shirt. “I have other scars.”

“You’re not going to have this one,” Harry replied vehemently. He started to place his hand against her wound before he hesitated. “Can I…”

“I trust you,” she promised softly.

Harry’s breath caught at her words. A hundred different emotions rushed through him at her simple declaration before he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair.

“I love you,” he choked out, squeezing his eyes shut. “If anything ever happened to you…if I ever…”

“I know,” Ginny assured him, hugging him close as he shook against her.

It took him a few moments to pull himself back together. Swiping his hand brusquely over his eyes with a sniff, he focused intently on her shoulder again.

Ginny looked up, staring at his face as he mumbled under his breath. Using her free hand, she wiped the tears from his cheeks but his focus didn’t falter. Warmth spread from his hand to her shoulder, soothing the pain. She watched the glow of the magic reflected in his eyes as it seeped through his fingers.

Looking over when he removed his hand, she saw the faint white scar, round and puckered against her pale skin. Glancing back up at Harry, she saw his frustration.

“It’s fine, Harry,” she smiled reaching up to touch his cheek again. “Dark magic always leaves a…”

“No, it doesn’t,” he interrupted, his eyes narrowed. “Not if I don’t want it to.”

Leaning down, his mouth brushed her shoulder as he shut his eyes. He slid his arm around her waist, holding her against him while he replaced his lips with his fingers.

Ginny stood still; closing her eyes and furrowing her brow as she listened to him breathe words against her skin that she couldn’t understand. The sound of the words reminded of her of the banquet, when he’d done something similar to remove Malfoy’s brand from her throat.

Again Ginny felt warmth seep into her shoulder, her skin tingling before the sensation faded.

Harry pressed his lips against her shoulder for a second before he slid his mouth across her collarbone and up the side of her throat.

“All better,” he breathed in her ear.

“Thank you,” she murmured. “Are you ok?”

Instead of replying, he kissed her softly, cupping her cheek in his hand.

“No,” he breathed unsteadily before pressing his lips against hers. “Of course, I’m not ok.”

Ginny curled her hands into his shirt, pulling him closer as he slanted his mouth over hers. For several moments they stood together, taking comfort from each other as their embrace became deeper.

The air around them was soon charged with energy and Ginny whimpered. An instant later Harry ripped himself away from her, stumbling back as he doubled over with a curse.

With a hiss of pain, Ginny pressed her hands against her forehead. Shutting her eyes, she backed away from him, only stopping when she ran into the wall.

Slowly the pain lessened until she was able to lower her hands.

When Harry finally turned back toward her, they remained silent for a long moment. Harry was the first to look away, his gaze moving to the window as he took a deep breath. Shutting his eyes, he flicked his fingers restlessly.

Behind him, the sofa transfigured into a queen sized bed, complete with a thick down comforter and large fluffy pillows.

“You should sleep down here tonight,” he said, running his fingers through his hair wearily as he looked at her.

“And you?”

“I destroyed the bedroom,” he admitted, shoving his hands into his pockets and rocking back on his heels. “I’ll need to put it back together.”

He watched her nod before she looked down at the floor. Even from across the room he could see her hands shaking as she tucked her hair behind her ears.

“You’ll be safe down here,” he promised softly.

Brushing away an errant tear she nodded again.

Harry moved instantly, taking a step toward her before stopping.

“I thought I couldn’t sleep somewhere else,” she said as she looked up.

“That was before,” he replied, looking down with a frown, “when I thought…when I thought you were safer with me.”

“Harry, don’t,” Ginny breathed, her voice breaking slightly.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he murmured, turning away and heading for the stairs.

“So, that’s it?” she called just before he reached the stairs. “You’re just going to tell me to go to bed and then leave?”


“Don’t you think we should talk about this?” she demanded pushing off from the wall as he turned reluctantly back toward her.

Harry took a step back as she approached.

“We can talk tomorrow.”

“We can talk now,” she corrected firmly grabbing his arm, her fingertips tingling as she touched him.

“I can’t talk to you now!” he snapped, yanking out of her grip and spinning away.

Ginny could feel the energy in the room mounting as she stared at his shoulders. They rose and fell rapidly as he covered his hands with his face.


Reaching out, she gently touched his back only to have him jerk away.

When he turned back to her, the color of his eyes seemed to be trembling - shifting slightly from green to black.

“I don’t have any answers,” he ground out in frustration. “I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know what to do. All I know is that right now, I can’t touch you.”

Taking a step toward her, he held her gaze, his hands fisted at his side.

“I can’t touch you,” he repeated, his voice pained.

“Yes, you can,” she replied, closing the distance between them.

Bringing her hands up, she traced her fingers lightly over his face as his eyes shut.

“I hurt you,” he breathed resting his forehead against hers.

Before either had a chance to start hurting he pulled away and left the room.

Ginny stayed where she was for several minutes, her eyes unfocused as she stared at the empty doorway. Finally moving, she crossed numbly to the bed. Climbing up, she slipped under the covers and curled into a tight ball.

Only then did she cry, the sound muffled by her pillow as she gave into the fear and growing feeling of hopelessness inside of her.

Long after her tears had faded she finally drifted into a restless sleep.

Awoken by her nightmares mere hours later, she wearily dragged herself from the bed, knowing she wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep anytime soon.

The sun was barely up, leaving the house dreary and cold around her as she made her way to the kitchen. She put on a pot of coffee before climbing the stairs to the bathroom.

Standing in front of the sink, Ginny stared at her reflection in shock. The girl in the mirror looked broken and worn, dark circles shadowing her cheerless eyes.

Determined not to allow Harry to see her wearing her despair so blatantly on her face, she leaned down, splashing water on her skin and scrubbing her cheeks roughly with her hands. When she straightened, she let her gaze wander down her body.

Delicately she traced the five bruises on her throat – one on the left side and four on the right. The memory of Harry’s attack and subsequent feelings of guilt rushed into her mind and she quickly grabbed her wand, using it to hide the marks so he wouldn’t see them.

Pulling off her clothes and stepping into the shower, she tried to work through her emotions – trying to make sense of what had happened.

She didn’t understand, couldn’t remember what had caused the pain when Harry had been looking into her mind. Everything had been jumbled and confusing…the images too distorted for her to make sense of them.

Frustrated, she stood under the hot stream of the water with her arms crossed over her shoulders and her chin dropped to her chest. Despite the steam rising from the tub, she found herself beginning to tremble.

She knew that if they couldn’t figure out what was going on quickly, Harry would take her back. Already she could feel it coming…if he felt like he was a danger to her he’d leave to protect her.

Her trembling increased and an ache grew in her chest at the possibility of separating from him. Even as she tried to work through the logic of what would be best, she couldn’t shake the panic that came with the prospect of being without him.


For the first time since his assignment had begun, Harry woke up late.

His mind was filled by the remnants of another frighteningly clear dream. He’d been fighting to get to Ginny, his way barred by both magic and wizards. His fury had risen with every barrier until he’d finally gotten through the door to where she was.

As Harry centered his mind, he worked to get rid of the images of what had happened once he’d entered the room. He worked to forget her screams.

By the time he’d gotten himself centered, he headed to take a shower. Reaching the door he paused, hearing the sound of the water already coming from within.

Mildly surprised that Ginny was already awake, he descended the stairs to the kitchen. The small room was still dark due to the overcast sky. He didn’t bother to turn on the lamps while he poured himself a cup of fresh coffee.

Sitting down at the table, he swirled his steaming drink in his mug as he waited.

It was another ten minutes before he finally felt Ginny enter the room. Looking up from his coffee, he watched her pull the tie closed on her robe as she crossed the kitchen. Her hair was wet and it clung to her back as she opened the refrigerator.

“Morning,” he greeted softly, causing her to jump and spin around.

“Harry!” she gasped, her hand going to her throat. “You…you scared me.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, his heart twisting at her words.

Attempting to keep his expression neutral he pushed his chair back and rose to his feet.

An awkward silence stretched between them as they stared at each other, neither sure what to say.

“You should dry you hair,” Harry suggested finally.

Ginny’s eyebrow lifted at his random announcement.


“It’s cold…I don’t want you to get sick,” he finished with a sheepish shrug.

The corner of her mouth lifting, she took a step toward him only to stop when he backed away, running into his chair in his haste to keep distance between them.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted when he saw the levity in her expression replaced instantly with despair. “I just…”

“It’s fine,” she lied, turning her back on him.

Pulling her wand from her pocket, she flicked it absently at her hair. Drying instantly, the thick strands curled up into natural disorderly waves.

“How do you feel?” Harry asked as she pulled the milk from the fridge.

“Fine,” she said as she opened the carton and poured herself a glass.

“Don’t lie,” he murmured, watching her back tense at his words.

“I’m not lying,” she said after a second, turning around and leaning back against the counter. Despite her casual stance, her anguish showed in her eyes. “I feel fine.”

Harry studied her for a second before slowly rounding the table. Crossing the room he came to a stop in front of her.

She shifted uncomfortably against the counter, biting her lip as she watched him approach. She was determined to appear nonchalant, but inside her heart began to pound, frightened that something would happen.

It wasn’t so much that she was afraid of him…she was afraid of what he would do to keep her safe if anything else occurred.

Resting his hands on the counter on either side of her, Harry leaned in close.

“How do you feel now?” he asked quietly, keeping a tight hold on his power as he watched for any signs of pain in her eyes.



“What do you want me to say, Harry?” she asked, shutting her eyes. “That I’m upset? That I’m afraid…That my head hurts?”

“Does it?” he asked quickly.

“No,” she shook her head.

Gritting his teeth, Harry lowered his head, his hair brushing against her forehead.

“What did you see in my mind?” she asked quietly. “Before you lost control?”

A muscle in Harry’s jaw jumped at the reminder. Straightening, he stroked his chin with his palm before meeting her gaze.

“I didn’t really see anything,” he admitted. “At least nothing helpful,” he clarified. “Some of it was strange and sort of…distorted somehow. Mostly it was just pain and things that didn’t make sense. And the white…”

Ginny nodded reaching for his hand.

“So, we’re back where we started,” she observed.

“Well,” Harry began, rubbing his thumb over her skin. “We know for sure there’s something in your mind,” he said with a frown.

“True,” Ginny acknowledged. “Now we just need the what, and why and how,” she smirked.

Harry watched the expression fall from her face almost as quickly as it came. Despair rose within him as he watched her fight the tears that threatened. He could see her frustration at being unable to keep her emotions in check.

“We also know that I’m unstable,” he murmured, bringing his hand to her face. “We know that I’m having trouble staying in control…and that it hurts us to touch.”

“You’ve been stressed and tired,” Ginny defended. “We don’t know that anything’s connected.”

“No, but…”

Trailing off, Harry rubbed his hand against his forehead.

“How are you feeling this morning?” she asked softly.

“Ok,” he answered.

“Liar,” she whispered.

“I’m ok,” he insisted, giving her hand a squeeze.

“Any destructive urges?”


“Good,” she whispered, pulling him toward her. Pressing her face into his shoulder, she inhaled his scent. Her arms slid around his waist, holding him against her. “We’re going to be ok,” she promised, pressing her lips against his throat.

“Gin…” Harry breathed as she rose up on her toes and caught his lips with hers. “I don’t…I’m not sure this is a good idea…”

“It’s just a kiss,” she breathed, her lips ghosting over his.

“Just a kiss,” he repeated.

Moving his hands to her waist, he lifted her up and set her on the counter, never taking his mouth from hers. Inhaling through his nose, he ran his hands up her neck and into her hair while she pulled him closer.

She was beautiful. He loved her so much it consumed him as he caressed her throat.

“You’re everything to me,” Harry murmured.

I’m going to protect you, he continued silently as they kissed, and love you…Wake up beside you and make you smile…and scream…and…and cry and break…I want you to bleed and…

Ginny grabbed his wrist as his grip on her throat began cutting of her air. Gasping for breath, she tried to pull his hand away.

“Harry…” she choked out, hitting his shoulder as she began trying to twist away.

An instant later he shoved away from her, stumbling back with a gasp of his own.

Seeming disoriented, Harry looked around, meeting her gaze briefly before looking down. Pressing his palms against his eyes he took a deep breath before curling his fingers tightly into his hair.

On the counter, Ginny remained silent, her heart pounding as she watched him. Absently, she brought her hand to her throat. When he looked up again, she quickly dropped her hand.

“I’m dangerous,” he whispered. “I’m dangerous and I hurt you. No matter what’s causing it, we know that’s true.”


“Ginny, I just centered!” he cut her off sharply. “There’s no reason for that to have happened. Kissing you shouldn’t cause pain or send me spiraling out of control but it does.”

Slipping off the counter, Ginny took a step toward him.

“It does, baby,” he insisted in a gentler tone taking a step away. “I wake up wanting to hurt you. I want to hurt you right now and it’s getting harder to…”

“To what?” she urged when he trailed off. “To what?”

“To stop myself from doing it,” he forced out, his fear clear in his eyes as he held her gaze.

Shaking his head when she started to respond, he turned quickly and left the room.

What’s wrong with me?

Harry made his way unsteadily up the stairs. Shaking his head in an attempt to clear it, he winced at the pain that shot through his temple. His body was still reeling from her, his power more active than normal and his head continuing to ache.

Pushing open the door to the bathroom, he stepped inside only to falter. Immediately surrounded by steam from her shower, Ginny’s familiar, flowery scent lingered in the air, nearly overwhelming his senses.

Staggering into the wall as an image erupted into his mind, he cried out as his power surged with it.

“What did you smell?” Ron asked as they headed down the hall.

Harry shrugged in response, trying to place the individual scents in the Amortentia. Most of it was familiar but he couldn’t place all of it.

Walking with his hands shoved in his pockets, his head jerked up when he caught a sudden whiff of the floral aroma he’d smelled earlier.

Looking behind him, he searched the crowd of students as Ginny appeared at Ron’s side…

“Harry?” Ginny’s worried voice came from behind him.

Having heard him cry out, she’d run up to the bathroom. Entering the room she found him on the floor just inside, his back to her as he leaned against the wall.

The mirror was rattling as their toiletries hung suspended in the air. Slowly, the air began to swirl, making the shower curtain rustle while the window pane shook.

Dropping to her knees behind him, she reached for his shoulders fearfully. Power seemed to flow from him, making her hair become charged with static as soon as she touched him.

“Harry!” she called, trying to turn him around, “What’s happened? Are you ok?”

“Ginny…away…” Harry gasped and Ginny jerked her hands back.

Edging away, she watched him intently as his body trembled. His pupils were flickering unsteadily between green and black, his jaw clamped tightly shut.

Her touch and the sound of her voice mixed with the effect of her smell and Harry squeezed his eyes shut, curling his hand into a fist. The pain was excruciating and for a second his memory shifted…

With a cry, his eyes flew open just as the glass in the mirror and window shattered.

Ginny screamed, throwing her arms around Harry instinctively to shield him. When nothing hit them, she looked up, glancing around to see a shimmering blue shield curving around them. The shards of glass hung suspended in the air around them.

Confused, she looked over to find Harry’s eyes shut as he trembled in her arms. Realizing that she’d created the shield, she looked up again in wonder and confusion as she stroked her hand down Harry’s hair.

He shoved her away an instant later and she hit the cabinets with a thud.

Ginny’s shield dropped and the glass began to fall again only to stop as Harry raised his hand. Flicking his wrist, he sent the glass flying back into place.

“I…I’m sorry,” he apologized, his voice strained.


“Get out,” he said tightly. “Get out and…and shut the…door...”

“I…” Ginny nodded, knowing she needed to leave.

She began to scoot away only to hesitate. Against her better judgment, she couldn’t shake the need to stay. She wanted to help him.

“Ginny, get out,” Harry ordered, his voice shaking as it deepened.

His eyes flew open and the blackness of his pupils spread outward, overtaking the iris and bleeding into the whites of his eyes.

Biting her lip, Ginny stood up. Her gaze remained locked with his as she stumbled back toward the door. Grasping the handle she turned away and slammed it shut behind her.

Crossing the hall, she turned back to the door, leaning against the wall as she slid down to the floor. She couldn’t hear anything happening inside the bathroom and she pulled her knees to her chest as she waited.

When Harry eventually opened the door, Ginny shot to her feet.

“I’m fine,” Harry assured her before she even had a chance to ask.

He watched as she seemed to hesitate, unsure whether it was ok to approach him. Sighing he stepped toward her, reaching for her hand.

Taking it instantly, Ginny closed the distance between them, standing in front of him as she looked up at his face.

Harry stared at her for a second, his eyes becoming intense as he studied her.

“I saw you,” he murmured finally, holding his body very still.

“What?” she asked in confusion, bringing her fingers to his cheek. “What do you mean?”

“I saw you…at Hogwarts.”

Ginny furrowed her brow.

“Harry you’re not making sense.”

“I know,” he agreed. “But your smell, I…in there it was so…I saw you.”

“Harry,” Ginny said slowly, her heart rate increasing with her growing concern and bewilderment. “What are you talking about? I don’t…”

“I’ve seen you before,” he interrupted. “I just didn’t think…Do you see me?”

“What?” she asked.

Harry brought his hands to her face, pushing her hair back so he could cup her cheeks. Pulling her closer, he searched her eyes for something, although Ginny didn’t know what.

“Do you ever see me?” he repeated. “In your thoughts…in…”

“Of course,” she interrupted.

“In your memories,” he spoke over her. “Do you ever see me where I’m not supposed to be?”

Ginny froze as her heart stumbled. Echoes of her moments with Julien and her increasingly strange dreams shot into her mind.


“You heard me,” Harry insisted.

Shaking her head, Ginny took a step back.

“We can’t fix anything if you don’t tell me the truth.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Then I’ll explain it,” Harry said, following her across the hall. “I see you. And I saw myself too.”


“I think…I think I saw myself in your mind yesterday,” he admitted coming to a stop as she tensed. “Not as I am now…but years ago at school…at Hogwarts.”

“You saw yourself at Hogwarts in my mind? But that’s not possible,” Ginny insisted, her face pale. “You know I’ve never been there. I didn’t even know you then, Harry…”

Bringing her hands to her forehead, she shut her eyes.

“I know,” Harry agreed. “But it doesn’t change what I saw….what I see. I dream about you where you shouldn’t be,” Harry said softly.

“You do?” Ginny asked, looking up in surprise.

Harry nodded, staring at her for a moment before recognition dawned in his eyes.

“You dream about me too,” he said firmly, not giving her a chance to try to deny it. “You told me I pushed you off your broom…”

“It was just dream, Harry,” she shook her head. “I was frightened. They’re just dreams…”

“You’ve had more than one?” he demanded.


“When was the last one?”

“Last night,” Ginny admitted softly after a second. Dropping her gaze at his sharp intake of breath she focused on the button of his shirt.

“What did you dream?” he asked, his voice strained in his attempt to remain calm. “Please,” he urged more gently when she hesitated.

“I was in this strange room and I couldn’t get out,” she told him finally, her gaze moving back to his. His eyes were guarded as he listened, his body as still as a statue. “There weren’t any windows or doors and…and I couldn’t get out. I wanted out. My brothers were there and I…I was so angry and I was frightened and I could hear everyone screaming and…and…then the door opened and you were there.”

“Was I?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “But it didn’t make me happy,” she breathed unsteadily as her eyes filled with tears. “It made me afraid. I…I was afraid of you.”

“Then what happened?”

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “I woke up with a terrible headache.”

For a moment they stood in silence.

“You know what, Gin?” Harry said finally, his voice flat.

“What?” she asked shutting her eyes.

“I’ve had that dream too,” he murmured, a shiver running down his back. “But I didn’t wake up when you did. I got to see what…what…”

Trailing off as the dream replayed in his mind, he swallowed and looked away.

“What happened?” she asked quietly. “What did you see?”

“I almost killed you,” he gritted out, shutting his eyes.

“But that doesn’t make it real,” she whispered. “That doesn’t mean…”

“But they feel real…don’t they to you? Mine feel so real I can’t forget them. They make my power surge and my head hurt and I…I hurt you,” Harry sighed, reaching out and caressing the faint bruises on her throat as his eyes became haunted by the memory of his nightmares. “I always hurt you,” he breathed, dropping his hand and shaking his head.

“I have to take you back,” he whispered.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew how wrong it felt. He also knew she’d never stand for it, never accept it. Holding his breath, Harry watched her expression and waited for the fight.

Ginny froze, her eyes flying open and her hand moving automatically to his shirt.

“What?” she asked softly, even though she knew she hadn’t misheard him.

“I’m dangerous…it’s better if…”

“No,” Ginny argued shaking her head as the panic surged instantly, overwhelming her with its intensity. “No. Being apart is not better.”

“Ginny,” Harry replied, shaking his head. “Bill’s right…”

“No!” she exclaimed, grasping his neck and pulling him into a kiss. “No…we can fix this. We can figure it out,” she assured him between kisses. “We’re fine.”

“Ginny,” Harry said grabbing her hands and holding her away. “We’re not fine,” he ground out, his eyes fluctuating briefly between green and black. Shutting his eyes he turned his head to the side and squeezed her wrists. “I’m not fine…”

“Please, don’t do this,” Ginny pleaded, suddenly feeling the urge to cry. “You can control it…”

“I shouldn’t have to control it,” he hissed, his eyes flicking open. “I won’t hurt you.”

“What about Malfoy?”

Harry looked up at her, his eyes troubled and yet determined. He brought his hand to her face, cupping her cheek tenderly.

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he swore.

“How will you do that if you’re not with me?” she asked, reaching for his shirt again.

Her body was shaking as she fought to keep her composure.

“I’ll find him…”

“How?” Ginny demanded, shoving back from him and turning away. “You said it yourself…you can’t find him.”

“I will.”

Ginny shook her head, wrapping her arms around her stomach.

“You promised,” she whispered.

Harry stared at her silently, curling his hands into fists. His heart was thudding dully in his chest, his power still rumbling inside of him. Clenching his jaw, he walked up behind her, bringing his hand to her hair.

For a moment she didn’t move, shutting her eyes as he ran his fingers through her hair. His other hand came up, gliding over her shoulder before beginning to massage her neck. Ginny leaned back into him slightly, dropping her head forward as his lips found her ear.

“I love you,” he murmured, keeping an iron hold on his power as it began trying to rise.

Harry breathed her in for a second before changing tactics. Wrapping his arms about her waist, he pulled her back against him. His hands slid under the hem of her shirt and he caressed her stomach, listening to her breath catch at his touch.

“Ginny,” he murmured, gliding his teeth over her ear.


“Does your head hurt?” he asked, caressing the skin just below the waist of her jeans.

He felt her hesitate before she shook her head.

“No,” she breathed, her hands slipping over his.

Turning her around, he brought his hands cheeks, holding her face in his palms as he searched her eyes.

“Liar,” he said, smiling sadly as she blinked back her tears.

“It’s nothing,” she argued weakly.

“It’s not,” he corrected. “You know it’s not. We can barely touch…you know there’s something wrong. I have to take you back.”

A tremor ran through Ginny’s body before she leaned in, resting her forehead against his chest.

“Please don’t,” she pleaded shakily.

“I don’t know what else to do to keep you safe,” he told her regretfully, caressing her cheeks with his thumbs.

In his heart he knew he didn’t want to do what he was suggesting anymore than he expected her to agree, but he didn’t see any other way to keep her safe. After the past couple of days he just didn’t trust himself. He didn’t know what was wrong or what to do to fix it.

“I could hurt you, Ginny,” he repeated wearily. “I could kill you and I don’t…”

“I don’t care,” Ginny shot back shaking her head. “I want…”

“I care!” he exclaimed, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her up on her toes. “I care,” he gritted out, his expression desperate. “I have to protect you, even if it means protecting you from myself.”


“You’re the most important thing in my life,” he told her, pressing his forehead against hers. “If anything happens to you…I just…I can’t, Ginny. I need to take you back.”

Shutting his eyes, he slowly released her shoulders waiting for her response. Her forehead left his as she lowered back down onto her heels. He could feel her gaze on his face, but he kept his eyes shut.

To his surprise, Ginny simply remained silent as she stood in front of him.

“Say something,” he murmured eventually as her silence became deafening.

Another minute passed before she answered him.

“I’ll go get my things,” she said softly as she slipped past him and headed to the stairs.

For a second Harry was too stunned by her acceptance to move. Turning quickly to watch her, he felt his body begin to instinctively panic. Suddenly the idea of taking her back made him feel physically ill.

He hadn’t expected her to agree so quickly, if at all.

It had been easy to cling to the idea that going back was the right thing to do when he knew she’d fight him. He got to be the logical one, while she got to be their hearts.

“Ginny,” he called haltingly. “Wait, are you sure? I mean…it’s just that…”

Pausing, Ginny turned her face, not looking at him, but allowing him to see her profile.

“If you think we should go back, we’ll go back,” she said. “If this is what you need to do, I’m not going to fight you.”

Swallowing, he fell silent as she disappeared up the stairs.

“This isn’t what I want,” he called, his voice thick.

“I didn’t say it’s what you want!” Ginny called back sharply, her footsteps pausing. “I’m doing what you asked, Harry,” she added as her voice began to break. “Don’t make it harder.”

Cringing at her words, Harry took a breath.

Oh God, I’m taking her back.

Bending over, he squeezed his eyes shut with a groan. His insides were churning in protest to the plan.

The part of him that was in love with her didn’t want to leave her – didn’t want them to be apart or put her in danger with Malfoy still at large.

Amongst his fears of being away from her, something else lurked, just beneath the surface. The darkness surged briefly inside his mind, urging him to keep her near as well, not to keep her safe – to harm her.

Don’t let her get away… a haunting voice called from deep in his mind. You need her to truly be free…

Feeling worse, Harry straightened, resisting the darkness inside of him.


Upstairs, Ginny picked up her duffel from where she’d stashed it in a corner of the bedroom. Carrying it to the center of the room, she sank to the floor. Flicking her wand, her clothes flew toward her, landing in a pile to her left.

Her body was aching at the thought of going back, at not being with him, but she held herself together as she began to pack. This was what he needed…what made sense.

She knew something was wrong, very wrong. Unfortunately, that knowledge didn’t help to erase the feeling of emptiness and fear that came over her each time she thought of being away from him.

The feeling was familiar. It was a panic she’d felt before, when she thought he was going to leave her after Malfoy’s attack at the Burrow. Intense and confusing, the idea that Harry would always leave her to protect her churned within her.

"It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?"

Shutting her eyes as pain shot through her temple, she shook her head, trying to clear it.

"How do you think I'd feel if this was your funeral...and it was my fault..."


Climbing the stairs silently, Harry found Ginny on the floor in the bedroom. Her back was to him as she stuffed her clothes into her small duffel.

Harry felt like he couldn’t breathe as he watched her.

Finally he moved, crossing quickly to her and dropping down to his knees behind her. He felt her stiffen as he enfolded her in his arms. Burying his face in her hair he took an unsteady breath.

“This is madness,” he breathed shakily. “I have to take you back. I know that, but…”

Harry squeezed his eyes shut, gritting his teeth as he struggled to hold onto his logic. It was a futile effort against the need to stay with her.

Whether for reasons of love or evil, the desire to keep her was elemental.

The seconds ticked by as they sat together, both trembling as they struggled with their emotions.

“Compromise,” Harry whispered finally. “Let’s compromise.”

Chuckling tremulously, Ginny brought her hands to his arms and rested back against him.

“I don’t need to compromise with you…I already agreed to do what you wanted,” she reminded him.

“I know…but I don’t want to do what I said,” he interrupted, pulling her closer. “I can’t do it. I want to be with you. It makes me feel sick to think of…of not…”

“I know,” she whispered, squeezing his arm.

“I love you…but this isn’t a normal feeling, Gin,” Harry breathed. “I feel like I’m losing my mind, but I can’t let you go…”

“I know,” Ginny nodded, “but what can we do?”

“We can to compromise.”


“We go back, but we stay together, ok?” Harry suggested tiredly. “I think they know what’s happening to us. So…we go back to find out what’s going on…not to separate.”

Ginny remained silent for a moment before nodding.

“I like that idea,” she whispered, her relief evident in her voice. “And I think you’re right. They must know something,” she agreed, thinking back to her family’s determination to get them apart and remembering the words of her father and brothers claiming that Harry would hurt her.

“But how will we get them to tell us what’s really going on?” Harry asked uncertainly. “It’s one thing to go back; it’s something else to actually get the facts.”

“We’ll figure it out,” she promised, pulling away and turning so that she could see his face. “We’ll figure it out together.”

Quotes from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, chapter 30, page 646-647 (US Edition), by J.K. Rowling. :)