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Chapter 2 - Summer Holidays

Ginny Weasley sat at her curved, moon shaped desk, her long red hair hanging loose down her back, and biting the top of a quill whilst staring down vacantly at the book on Transfiguration which was supposed to help her write a homework essay.

‘Ginny?’ a familiar voice asked, providing a welcome interruption.

The pretty red head looked up at the sound of her name and smiled. Harry was standing in the doorway to her bedroom, his dark messy hair ruffled, and wearing faded jeans and a loose t-shirt. He gave her a hesitant smile in return and she frowned. He looked troubled.

‘Gin, I need to talk to you,’ he said quietly.

Ginny was immediately concerned. ‘Sure, come in,’ she answered softly.

He shut the door behind him before crossing to the bed and sitting down on the blue, squishy mattress. Ginny joined him and kissed him lightly on the lips, then sat beside him and looked into his emerald green eyes.

‘Now, what’s wrong?’ she asked.

He looked at her honestly. ‘I need to tell you something about…about Voldemort and how I can destroy him.’

Ginny’s chocolate brown eyes widened slightly at the mention of Voldemort, but she kept his gaze bravely. ‘Tell me,’ she whispered.

***

Many miles away in the huge derelict Manor House in Little Hangleton, Lord Voldemort sat in a long backed chair, his snake, Nagini, wrapped around him as he stroked her cold, smooth body. A tall, skinny man in dark robes stood in front of him, greasy black hair flopping down his neck in strings, and his pallid waxy face showing no emotion.

‘You have served me well, Snape,’ came a high, hissing voice. ‘You did me great service a few weeks back. Thanks to you Dumbledore and that incapable Malfoy boy are both dead.’

He looked at Snape, not quite expecting thanks and flattery, but still surprised when none came. ‘However, I now no longer have a faithful spy in the Order. Your past uses to me are now useless.’ He smirked, and looked thoughtful. ‘So what to do with you?’

Snape stared blankly back into the red pupils of his master, awaiting his fate.

‘Have you anything to say on the matter? Any extra information I should know?’

Snape inspected his dirty fingernails. ‘I do, have, some information my Lord, of great concern to you.’

Voldemort gazed coolly into his eyes, looking for a flaw in character, but finding none. ‘Well?’

Snape lowered his voice. ‘Harry Potter knows of your horcruxes. Dumbledore discovered the truth and told him everything. Two have already been destroyed.’

For a moment Snape thought he saw a flicker of fear in Voldemort’s eyes, but if there was, it was quickly covered over with rage.

‘Is that so?’ he asked in a dangerously calm voice. ‘Well, we’ll have to do something about that to ensure the protection of the others.’ He paused. ‘Your services are still worthy, Snape; I might need your help in this matter. You may leave.’

Snape nodded, and bowed low to Voldemort, then exited the room. Anybody watching in the corridor would have seen emotion flood back into his hollow face the minute the door closed; sadness, pain, and relief. Slipping his hand inside his robes he pulled out a wand, and descended the creaking dusty staircase.

Once outside the building, he looked around for anybody that might be watching, and seeing no one, turned on the spot and vanished, reappearing in the midst of dark trees. He had apperated to an old abandoned muggle cottage in the middle of a thick forest, its walls covered in green moss, and roof tiles coming loose. He approached the door quietly, then knocked twice before cautiously peering inside.

‘Draco? It’s Severus.’

***

Ginny had listened in silence while Harry explained about the horcruxes, but she now interrupted when he said that he, Ron and Hermione were going to track them down together. ‘Does this mean you won’t be returning to Hogwarts?’ she asked quietly.

Harry looked sad and slightly guilty as he answered her. ‘Yes.’

A stubborn look came into the young Weasley’s eyes. ‘Harry-’ she began, but he silenced her with a look of calm and understanding.

‘Ginny, I need you to understand this. Going on this quest will be dangerous. But it has to be done, and by me. Ron and Hermione are coming by their own choice. I can’t stop them, though I’d like to for their own safety. Ginny, I want you to be safe, and I don’t want to lose you, but I know you are old enough to make your own decisions. I strongly advise you to stay out of this…but I won’t stop you if you want to come.’

Ginny looked at Harry, love blazing in her eyes, then kissed him.

‘Thank you, Harry,’ she whispered. Her eyes showed no hesitation as she added, ‘I’m going with you.’

***

Voldemort stared at the closed door through which Snape had just exited, and sighed. He rubbed his temples hard, feeling again that anxious feeling that he wasn’t in control of his life. Then he had to remind himself that he actually wasn’t. This recollection, on top of the news that Potter was on track of the horcruxes, made him roar in frustration, causing Nagini to slither away hurriedly. 

Noting the snake’s fear, he took a deep breath and decided he needed to do something evil to get back in control of hiself. With a flick of his wand he sent a Vatronaux* to Lucius Malfoy to give the order to attack the mudblood Granger’s house. The black wolf shape that streamed from his wand bared its sharp fangs whilst drooling poisonous saliva, before vanishing with a streak of smoke.
 
Feeling a lot better, Voldemort smirked evilly and rose from his seat. ‘Come, Nagini, let us go and feed you,’ he spoke in spits and hissing as he walked towards the door, the giant green snake slithering behind the hem of his billowing cloak. ‘I want to go to my dungeon, and will then be going to the outer world through the computer screen. You cannot go with me there, as you know, so I shall leave you in comfort in the bedroom.

The snake’s beady red eyes glinted at the prospect of food, and she hissed appreciatively in response to her master.

***

Mrs Weasley rushed into the kitchen the following morning, where Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny were eating breakfast. They looked up as she entered, and were surprised to see her beaming.

‘They’ve finally made their decision! Hogwarts is staying open this year!’ she exclaimed.

Silence greeted this announcement as the four looked at each other.

Ron cleared his throat. ‘Um, Mum, we’re not going back to school,’ he said.

Behind him, Ginny rolled her eyes. Couldn’t her brother keep his big mouth shut!

Mrs Weasley frowned, hands on her hips. ‘What do you mean you’re not going back to school? Of course you are Ronald, don’t be stupid.’

Ron now seemed uncertain what to say. ‘Um, well, you see…’ He looked helplessly at Harry.

Harry decided to help him out. ‘Mrs Weasley, before he died, Dumbledore gave me instructions on how to destroy Voldemort. I can’t go back to school because I need to go in search for… well, need to destroy him. Only I can do this. Ron, Hermione and Ginny... they’ve decided to go with me.’

There was a moment of silence while Mrs Weasley took in what Harry had just said. Then she took a deep breath. The outburst, when it came, was deafening, and the four cowered under her wrath and loud words, as she shouted something along the lines of: ‘…WAY TOO YOUNG TO BE INVOLVING YOURSELVES…STILL UNDERAGE…SHOULD LEAVE STUFF LIKE THAT TO THE ORDER…NEED YOUR SCHOOL GRADES AND EDUCATION…NOT UP TO YOU TO DECIDE…WAY TOO DANGEROUS…’

She rambled on for ages, eventually calming down after what seemed like hours, breathing deeply and frowning. ‘We’ll see about this. I think an Order meeting is needed,’ she finished calmly, glaring at them in disapproval, then left the room muttering, ‘Wait ‘til Arthur hears about this!’

Ginny turned to her brother as the door slammed shut. ‘Oh well done Ronald.’

‘What? What did I do?’ he replied, confused.

‘You told Mum we’re not going back to Hogwarts, and then she yelled at us! Now she’ll never let us go with Harry!’

Ron scowled. ‘Well she was going to find out eventually, so what’s the big deal?’

Ginny’s eyes narrowed.

Harry hastily interrupted before the siblings’ fight deepened. ‘Ok, ok! Stop it, guys. It doesn’t matter that she knows, but it would have helped if she’d found out after I’ve explained the situation to the Order. 'K Ginny love?’

Ginny sighed, then smiled and took Harry’s hand. Ron looked pointedly away, but Hermione pulled him to her and gave him a quick kiss, distracting him.

They had just sat back down again, when Mrs Weasley returned to the kitchen, still huffing from the argument, but looking a little happier. ‘I’ve just talked to Minerva, and there’s going to be an Order meeting tomorrow afternoon, Harry. You can explain fully then,’ she said. ‘Now, who would like some tea?’

***

The Order of the Phoenix meetings were being held these days at No. 12 Grimmauld Place, the only completely protected building they owned. Professor McGonagall had taken over as the leader since Dumbledore’s death, and she sat in the kitchen at the head of the long table, waiting for the members to arrive and distractedly twirling her wand between her fingers.

Mr and Mrs Weasley escorted Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione to the headquarters, as they were not yet fully-fledged members. They travelled by floo powder into the living room fireplace, stepping out onto the fading red carpet in front of tattered furniture that had once been very fine. Harry was hit by fond memories of Sirius as they moved through the gloomy hallway to the kitchen. He had not been back there since his Godfather’s death, and he bit his lip, pushing away the recurring feelings of grief.

They entered the kitchen to find it buzzing with voices, the members sitting around the rectangular table. It seemed they were the last to arrive, as McGonagall stood up when they entered and called for silence. Mrs Weasley pushed the four hurriedly into seats, and everyone hushed.

‘The reason for our meeting today,’ she began, ‘is primarily because Molly came to me in distress after Harry Potter told her that he and his three friends, who include her youngest son and only daughter, have decided not to return to Hogwarts this year.’

There was a murmur of voices and everyone turned to look at Harry in surprise.

The Headmistress held up a hand for quiet. ‘She says Harry has something to tell us about why they decided this. Something to do with destroying You-Know-Who.’

She looked expectantly at Harry, who nodded. 

‘Very well, Mr Potter, please explain,’ she said, and sat down.

Harry glanced around the table. Everyone’s eyes were on his. He spotted Remus, who smiled encouragingly while looking curious and slightly puzzled, then Hagrid, who also gave him a smile and a little nod.

Wishing that they would all look away, Harry stood up and cleared his throat. He thought quickly for a moment about what to say, then hesitatingly began to speak.

‘Before Dumbledore died…he told me a lot of things. He told me that there was a prophesy made about me and Voldemort, saying that neither of us can live while the other survives.’

There were a few gasps and Mrs Weasley put a hand to her mouth in shock.

‘This means that I have to kill Voldemort, or him me; there’s no other way around it.
Because of this, Dumbledore dedicated time to tell me about Voldemort’s past and history as the boy Tom Riddle. The long and short of it is that Voldemort wanted to become immortal, so he created a horcrux…’

A few horrified faces stared at Harry, the others just looked puzzled.

‘…Meaning that he split his soul and hid a fragment of it away for safe keeping.’

Everyone in the room now looked shocked and disgusted, even Ron, Hermione and Ginny who’d heard it before, but they remained silent to hear Harry out.

‘But that wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to make sure he would never die, so he created, Dumbledore believed, six horcruxes, the seventh part being in his body. My task is to track down the remaining Horcruxes, as two have already been destroyed, then face the last part, Voldemort himself. This is why I can’t return to school this year; I have to destroy Voldemort. Ron, Hermione and Ginny insist on coming with me, though I have tried to persuade them otherwise.’

He finished speaking and sat back down. Ginny took his hand under the table and squeezed it in silent support as McGonagall stood back up, her face considerably whiter than before.

She spoke hesitatingly, a slight quiver to her voice. ‘Thank you for telling us this, Harry, it must be hard to live with that burden; you do not deserve it after all you have been through. But we can help you by sharing it, help you find the horcruxes, and be there to battle for you.’

‘No,’ spoke Harry firmly, raising mutters from some of the members. ‘I do not want any of you to endanger yourselves by helping with it. Enough people close to me have already died. I am grateful for your offer of help, and will certainly need it, but I must find and destroy the horcruxes myself. Please understand this.’

McGonagall looked at the brave young wizard sitting at the table, looking so much like his father James, complete with the stubborn, noble expression.

She nodded, her amber eyes misty. ‘Very well. If that is what you wish. But hear me out first. I propose that you do return to Hogwarts this year…just listen a moment…return to school, where you can still get your N.E.W.T education, and I will give you permission to leave to find the horcruxes whenever you need to, as long as you tell me where you are going and when, to ensure your safety. It may also be in your interest to know that Miss Granger has been made head girl this year.’

On the other side of Harry, Hermione gasped in pleasure. He felt guilty thinking about depriving her of this honour, and her studies, and Professor McGonagall did have a point. Going back for their last year made a lot of sense…

‘I also think I am right in saying that Molly and Arthur aren’t exactly keen on Ron and Ginny leaving school completely. However, would this arrangement agree with you both?’

She looked over at Mr and Mrs Weasley, who were looking upset at everything that had been said. Molly glanced at her husband, who nodded.

‘Does that mean that you’d let us search with Harry if we went back to school?’ asked Ron boldly, ‘ Because we’re going with him no matter what.’

Mrs Weasley sniffed. ‘I’m not happy about any of it, Ron, but yes, if you go back to school and have Minerva and the Order keeping an eye on you, then I’ll allow you and Ginny to go with Harry.’

Professor McGonagall looked back to Harry. ‘Do you agree?’

On the other side of the table Remus nodded at Harry, with an expression that read ‘Go on, it makes sense!’ mixed with ‘I’ll have something to say if you don’t!’

But Harry had already made up his mind. He smiled. ‘I agree.’

***

The remainder of the summer holidays rolled by relatively peacefully, the weather hot and sunny, perfect for Quidditch and ice cream. Two weeks before they were due to go back to Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione went to stay at her parents’ house as she hadn’t seen them all summer and they wanted to meet Ron properly now he was her boyfriend. This left Harry alone at The Burrow with Ginny. He began to feel the need to go to Godrics Hollow as he had previously planned, to visit his parents’ graves. So the morning after his friends’ departure he awoke early and dressed quickly in jeans and a zip-up jacket, then went across the corridor to Ginny’s room.

He opened her door and looked in. She was still asleep, lying on her side, soft red hair falling over her pillow, and the covers down to her waist showing the top half of her body clad in a pale blue silk nighty. He smiled and crossed to the bed, then leaned over and kissed her lips. Her brown eyes fluttered open.

‘Harry!’ she exclaimed.

‘Morning love,’ he grinned. ‘Sexy night gown!’

Her cheeks tinged pink, and she pulled the covers back up to her shoulders. ‘Harry James Potter, what do you think you are doing in my room at this time of the morning?’ She tried to sound indignant, but amusement shone through in her smile.

‘I came to wake you up. I thought we could go and visit Remus today; I’d like to go to Godrics Hollow. Plus, I just couldn’t resist a glimpse of you in your nightclothes!’

‘Cheeky, Potter!’ she teased, then pulled him towards her and kissed him deeply. ‘Now, go get some breakfast and I’ll join you in the kitchen.’

Harry grinned, kissed her once more, and left. There were certainly some perks to having Ron and Hermione away, and only Mr and Mrs Weasley home, asleep across the other end of the house!

An hour later they used floo powder to travel to Remus’ flat in London. They stepped out of the sooty fireplace one after the other into his small, simple but homely living room. ‘Remus?’ called Harry, looking around.

‘Harry! In here!’ answered his ‘uncle’ as Remus liked to be called. They entered the kitchen through the archway in the partition and saw him sitting at the small breakfast table, drinking a coffee and reading The Daily Prophet.

‘Morning Harry, and Ginny! What a nice surprise!’ He smiled at them as they entered, grey eyes crinkling. ‘To what do I owe this early pleasure?’

‘Sorry, Professor, I just wondered if you would take me to visit Godrics Hollow today.’

Lupin’s eyes flickered slightly with sadness.

‘If you don’t want to…’ added Harry hastily.

‘No, no, of course I will! It’s no problem at all,’ replied Remus. ‘And what did I tell you about not calling me Professor!’

‘Old habit!’ grinned Harry. ‘Sorry, Uncle Moony!’

‘That’s better! Now, how about you go wait in the living room while I go and get dressed properly. Help yourselves to chocolate!’

Harry and Ginny laughed, and left the tiny kitchen. Remus always had a bowl full of chocolates in the living room, and they were always welcome to have some. They took him to his word and sat together on the sofa munching some Caramel Snitches while they waited for him to join them.

He returned some minutes later carrying an old hat, which was glowing slightly as if the sun were behind it and causing a halo.

‘We’ll travel there by portkey,’ he explained. ‘As Ginny’s too young to apperate, and you don’t know where we’re going. Ready?’ They moved closer. ‘On the count of three then, one…two…THREE!’

There was a gust of air as they all touched the hat, and they started whirling round faster and faster in a blur of colours. Then their feet hit solid ground and they were thrown across the grass they had landed on. Harry picked himself up and helped Ginny to her feet.

They were standing in a field just outside a picturesque village, with houses spreading out before them, and a church spire in the distance.

‘Godrics Hollow,’ murmured Remus. ‘This is the village in which you were born, Harry.’
Harry had a strange feeling. He didn’t recognise the place, but it held a sense of familiarity and safety to him.

Ginny squeezed his hand lovingly. ‘It’s a lovely place,’ she commented, breathing in the clear air.

‘Your parents’ house was up this hill,’ mentioned Remus somewhat sadly. ‘There wont be much left of it now, but we can go and see it if you like?’

Harry nodded. ‘Please.’

***

Ron and Hermione were eating lunch with the Grangers in their lovely house in Devon. The radio was playing Classic FM, and the sun shone through the French windows that overlooked a pretty patio, casting a warm glow over the table. They were chatting about Quidditch, Ron trying to explain the rules to a confused Mr Granger, whilst enjoying eating a chicken casserole.

Suddenly there was a bang at the front door, followed by a crash. Ron and Hermione leapt to their feet and took out their wands. Mrs Granger screamed. A hooded, cloaked figure wearing a mask was standing in the doorway, and two others like it were looking in through the front windows, sneering and jeering.

‘Mum, Dad, do as I say and run out the back, keep well out of sight. Go! Now!’ Hermione called urgently to her parents, who obeyed in fright.

The death eater stepped forward. ‘You cant escape us, little girl, don’t even try,’ he sniggered. There was the sound of braking glass, and the other two death eaters burst into the room.

‘STUPEFY!’ yelled Ron.

The first death eater dodged the curse easily, and pointed his wand at them. ‘Cru-’

‘SILENCO!’ called Hermione, stopping the death eater from speaking, and shocking him into leaving the curse unfinished.

‘Well, well, well. If it isn’t the mudblood and her boyfriend the Weasel,’ mocked the second, advancing. Curses began to fly everywhere from all directions as another bang sounded and more death eaters turned up.

‘STUPEFY! PETRIFICUS TOTALIS! EXPELIARMUS!’ cried Hermione at random, dodging the unforgivables thrown her way. From behind her came a scream. 

‘Mum!’ Hermione called frantically, twisting around and trying to see what was happening. A curse grazed her shoulder. Beside her, Ron was yelling more spells, trying to protect her. The circle of cloaks and masks grew closer and closer. 

She felt a body fall and looked down horrified to see Ron on the floor, his eyes closed.

‘Ron!’ she screamed, feeling as if her insides had turned to ice. She could see her parents behind the mass of death eaters, standing looking absolutely petrified. The words ‘Crucio!’ and ‘Sectumsempra’ came from near by and she watched in horror as her parents’ bodies fell to the ground, blood everywhere, their eyes wide. 

‘STUPEFY, STUPEFY, STUPEFY!’ she cried in anger, managing to knock several death eaters to the floor.

At that moment there was a burst of light and members of the Order arrived on the scene, wands raised, and yelling curses. Hermione dodged a crucio, but the move caused a stunning spell to hit her in the chest and she fell, unconscious, to the floor, the world going black around her as stars burst in front of her eyes.





A/N: *A Vatronaux is of my own invention, and a dark version of the patronus. You need to be evil to cast it, and instead of protecting against dark creatures, it attacks good forces such as patronuses. It has the same properties, so can send messages. Also, if you would like to know what happened to the trio and Ginny over the summer before this story, where the two couples got together, my other story 'A Peaceful Summer?' was originally the prequel to this. It can be found on my author's page.

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