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Harry stroked Ginny’s hair once again that morning, trying to be comforting as he did his best to hide his feelings of fear and worry. Ginny hadn’t shed a tear, although her face still closely resembled the exact shade of one of the ghosts at Hogwarts. When Ron and Hermione had left, she’d buried her head in Harry’s good shoulder, her cheek resting on his collarbone. Harry had willingly pulled her in, trying to give her every last ounce of his strength and determination to protect her from the unknown. They’d stayed silent for what seemed ages, simply holding onto one another in a last attempt to keep the safety and security in their little world from slipping away. Harry was more than content to remain this way until news of Ginny’s brother’s came back; when she shifted her weight away from him, Harry was confused. He caught Ginny’s eye, questioning her without uttering a word. “I have to know, “ she said simply, as she moved to stand.

Harry sighed, reaching out to catch her hand. “Then I’m going with you.”

His voice had sounded so decided, so determined, that Ginny didn’t dare argue with him. She’d shed too many tears, lost too many uphill battles with him when he’d used this same tone, and now was no different. When he’d gone to destroy Horcruxes throughout the school year, to hopefully take out the last ones before the final battle, she’d been denied access to the trips. He’d gone alone, once meeting members of the Order along the way to assist him in the hunt for one of the coveted objects, but never had he taken Ginny, nor Ron and Hermione along with him. He’d left twice, succeeding in destroying the Ravenclaw’s mirror and Hufflepuff’s cup. The research Hermione had done on R.A.B. had proven to reveal that although it had indeed been Sirius’s younger brother Regulus, a thorough investigation of Grimmauld Place and Kreacher’s quarters had turned up no locket. Nagini was still unreachable, as she was under an even closer watch than before, now that Voldemort was beginning to feel the loss of his Horcruxes.

Ginny turned towards Harry, her hand still caught in his, his fingertips caressing her palm. She moved back towards him, lending him a hand as he rose from his bed. The pair moved forward, making their way to the same split in the curtains that had allowed Hermione and Ron an exit a mere half-hour before. Ginny slid her arm tighter around Harry’s middle, careful not to brush against any bandages or healing wounds, her gaze fixed and determined on the seam of the wall material. When she didn’t reach for it however, Harry turned his face to look down into hers. She had a lost expression, as if her whole being had been set upon opening the doorway onto the ward, but now that she was here, she couldn’t make her body understand what it was to do. Harry reached out his hand and pulled at the pinstriped cotton, pushing it away to reveal the ward.

As they stepped out into the quiet room, the pair immediately found a group of redheads huddle towards one end, accompanied by a bushy-haired brunette, and surprisingly, a tall, slim blonde. Both recognized Fleur immediately, from where she was lying next to her husband, asleep in the hospital bed.

As the pair neared the small group of Weasley’s, Ginny could just make out Ron’s voice. “So we can’t see him then? I’m about to take a page out of Fred’s book and hex them to let us in…”

The sound of their footsteps on the tiled floor didn’t disturb the sleeping couple, nor Ron’s brooding; however it did catch Hermione’s ear. She turned to look at them, and her mouth parted in surprise at the sight of Harry up and about. Her sudden turn however, had alerted Ron, who’d been quietly speaking with his brother and mother. Ron turned, following Hermione’s gaze to where Ginny and Harry were quietly making their way along the center aisle of the ward. As Ron rose to meet them, Molly looked up from Charlie to catch sight of the pair. Molly flew out of her chair, immediately taking place at Harry’s opposite side from her daughter. Immediately, as she moved the two along to a bed, she began to chastise the pair motheringly. “And where have you two been? How could you let him out of bed Ginny? And what on earth could make you think getting him up and about would be the best choice right now?”

Ginny stopped short of the last bed beside Charlie’s, and eased her arm away from Harry. Silently, Harry shot her a silly look behind Mrs. Weasley’s back, attempting to lighten the mood. Ginny smiled as she stepped back to let her mother fix the covers across Harry, taking a seat in one of the chairs between Harry and Charlie’s beds, catching Ron’s eye as he occupied the seat between Ginny and Hermione once more. Her older brother’s expression was inaccessible, causing Ginny’s smile to slowly fade from her face once more.

After having his bedcovers smoothed around him excessively, much in the way Charlie’s had been not long before, Harry turned to look at Mrs. Weasley. “Mrs. Weasley, I really am fine. Really. But what I need to know is who… isn’t?”

Harry finished the sentence awkwardly, hoping against hope that his worst fears would not be confirmed.

***

Kingsley arrived on scene within one minute of his page. He found Moody and five or so aurors huddled around the wreckage of the old phone booth. Moody turned to face Kingsley, his magical blue eye spinning near off its rocker in his socket.

“We’ve found a way in.” The old man growled simply, as Kingsley slowly came up on a hole in the midst of what once was the floor of the telephone booth. Motioning for him to look in, Moody stepped aside so Kingsley could see down into the pit. Kingsley caught sight of where the tiled glass flooring had fallen away from itself, revealing a darkness as black as night. Far below a pinprick of light invaded the obscurity, a ray of hope where all had seemed to be lost. Kingsley turned back to Moody, his brow furrowed. “It can’t be possible…”

Kingsley’s voice trailed off in disbelief as Moody opened his mouth to respond. “If it were truly impossible, we wouldn’t have bothered you, now would we?” Moody said tersely, making his way back to the wreckage, crushing glass beneath his staff as he went. “It seems Arthur’s put an end to whatever’s going on down there, letting us have a chance to get in through the seal… but we haven’t been able to reach him by any means. Someone’ll need to get down there and find him, as well as that piece of slime who started this trouble. Now, we’ll need someone to go down first, and once you get over the abject look of shock on your face, I was thinking as Head Auror on this case, you might want the honors.”

Kingsley shook off his expression, allowing his mind to slip into its habitual state, compartmentalizing away emotions and outside issues—anything not in direct consequence with the situation at hand. Moody smiled as he watched Kingsley’s face visibly firm, as he saw him assume his work state of mind.

When he’d finished preparing, Kingsley turned towards the hole taking quick steps to the edge of it where the glass floor had fallen away. He slowly stepped to the outer edge, where the cracks in the floor reached his feet. Quietly he concentrated on his location, and with a quick turn of his foot over the hole, he was gone.

An apparition had never taken so much out of Kingsley as it had to get him from the outer streets of London into the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. He looked around, finding similar damage to the golden entryway gates as was done to the phone booth above. He fired off a series of sparks from his wand, and rubbed his Communi-coin to signal he was all right to the land crew above. He transferred the message for backup through his coin, along with instructions on his intentional path, as according to the Weasley’s. Kingsley pressed through the shattered gates, following his instincts to go to the elevators. He pressed the down button hastily, hoping he wasn’t too late.

***


Fred watched and waited as George remained unmoving in his bed. Fred’s eyes had begun to droop, but he’d forced them to remain open, in case his brother awoke for even a moment, and he needed someone…

Fred had overheard enough of the conversation from the next room over to realize it was indeed his younger siblings and Hermione visiting Harry. Obviously the four had no idea he and George occupied this room, and Fred chose to keep it that way. From what he gathered by listening, Harry was healing, albeit slowly and under careful supervision, but nevertheless on the road to recovery. However relieved he was that Harry had made it through the worst, Fred’s mood had dipped once more into misery as he’d watched his brother. There had been no change over the past hours, which the Healer had said was a good thing. But no matter how good no news was supposed to be, Fred couldn’t help but wonder what could be any worse.

When the silence of the little room was broken, Fred nearly fell out of his chair. A young Healer-in-training made his way into the room, a clipboard and quill clutched between his fingers. Fred sighed in relief, and turned to face the young man.

“I’m sorry sir,” the man offered, as he extended the paperwork and quill. “It’s your discharge papers. They told me you’d be Fred Weasley, and that I could find you in with your brother…”

The man’s small voice trailed off, leaving him staring dumbly at Fred. Fred smiled kindly, reaching for the clipboard. Fred quickly scanned the paperwork, finding standard legal jargon and bureaucratic releases, before jotting his name down along the last line at the bottom of each of the three pages. As he turned to hand the paperwork back to the young man, Fred glanced at his brother, seemingly out of habit. His hands went limp when he caught sight of his brother’s face, losing grip on the papers and letting them and the quill clatter noisily to the floor.

“F-Fred?”

***


Kingsley could hear the other lifts clanking slowly down the shafts behind him, as he pressed on through the darkened corridor, aiming for the near-last door left ajar. By this time, a fog had spread through the whole floor, making it difficult for Kingsley to find his way. The density increased the further he pressed on, passing through a destroyed library that seemed to be the origin of the mist. As Kingsley stepped round upset stacks of books and torn sheets of paper that littered the ground, he began to feel light-headed. He immediately realized why, recognizing the same symptoms of an Enchanted Sleeping draught as Arthur had before him. Slapping a hand over his mouth, Kingsley took off at a full run, searching frantically for the concealed stair case where Arthur was last known to be.

When he’ spotted it, Kingsley altered his course, managing to avoid a nasty crash with a bookcase just after. He flew down the stairs afraid of what he might find, fearing he was too late.

***


Mrs. Weasley had finally given in to their questioning, relenting from her incessant rearranging of Harry’s bed sheets to instead occupy her chair by her sons’ beds once more. She answered quietly, in a disbelieving and deadened tone. “We don’t know. The Healer should know something next time he rounds, but like I was telling Ron, they didn’t know anything more than the fact that he is resting…for now.”

Harry nodded, gently slipping his hand into Ginny’s as they both listened intently. Harry looked away from Mrs. Weasley, and turned to look at Ron. His best mate’s face was turned downwards, his eyes concentrated hard on the floor of the ward. Harry wanted to reach out to him as he was Ginny, to comfort him as he would please—but he knew anything he did would do no good. He turned away helplessly, knowing he could do nothing more for his friend. Hermione had read Harry’s expression correctly, sensing his desire to comfort, to heal. She calmly nodded, catching Harry’s eye and reassuring him without using real words that Ron would get through it. Hermione then turned away from him, placing her hands on Ron’s shoulders gently. Ron finally broke his aimless stare, and turned his eyes on Hermione. She let her head lean in, resting her forehead against his gently. Ron squeezed his eyes shut just before Harry tore his gaze away from the pair, leaving them to a private moment they so rarely were allowed.

Harry turned his hand over catching Ginny’s in his palm and stroking it gently with his fingers. He opened his mouth to say something to her, but the silence was broken before he got the chance. A young male Healer-in-training came tearing out of the back curtained rooms, his eyes wide as he hollered loudly through the ward. “We need a Healer back here, quickly! Oh someone please just come!”

A/N: I know, I know! I'm cutting it just a bit close! But as I promised, the second to last is up! The last will be in before the deadline, don't you worry! Thank you to all of my brilliant readers and reviewers! Your advice has helped me to bring this story to it's almost completion! One more folks! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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