A/N: Large sections in italics are Ginny’s memories of her time with Harry prior to the events at Dumbledore’s funeral (excluding the excerpts from JKR’s Deathly Hallows, which are separated by dividers and citations). Thanks for reading and reviewing, should you choose to!
“Anything?” the woman snapped.
“Nothing…” the man growled, “No trace of his being here… perhaps the Dark Lord was mistaken-”
“The Dark Lord is never mistaken, Yaxley!” the woman screeched, scathingly.
“Easy, Bella. We will find him,” A smooth voice drawled lazily, “We will find him, and the Dark Lord will kill him, as planned.” Rodolphus Lestrange moved out of the shadows near the bottom of the dilapidated, winding staircase, his voice sliding through the air like poison. A sign hung crooked in the cheerfully decorated living space, 'Welcome to The Burrow.' He sneered with distaste.
His eyes lingered on the small redhead unconscious on the many times-over patched couch. Mud smeared her face, her fingernails cracked and packed with dried dirt and blood. Her dress was ripped across the back, he knew, being the one who had slashed it with the cutting curse. The bloodstain on the couch was now brown and crusted. She looked broken and beaten.
An easy smile spread across his sallow face.
Bellatrix chewed on the tip of a blood red fingernail. She too, was examining the young girl on the couch, fury dancing in her eyes. The Death Eater chose to disregard the fact that the Hogwarts sixth year had successfully resisted her Imperius Curse, disarmed and bound her single-handedly. There was nothing extraordinary about this girl. A lucky break.
Break. Bellatrix grinned madly, dangling on the edge of sanity. She’d like to break something… her eyes flickered over the redhead’s limp body.
Bellatrix dragged her gaze from the girl, her nose wrinkling at the interior of the cozy cottage built with far too many stairs, rooms, and ‘homey’ touches. The fireplace, charred and ancient looking, sat across from the ratty furniture. An old record player, which looked horribly second-hand, sat silently in the far corner of the room. A large clock, each hand representing a member of the family, hung crooked on the wall. Every hand was currently pointing to Mortal Peril. Bellatrix’s smile stretched across her hollow face, bringing a glimmer of light into her steel grey eyes – she giggled.
A shriek echoed down the staircase from one of the bedrooms, and Bellatrix gasped with delight. The little redhead’s mother and father, of course, were being interrogated in a different room.
“Mulciber,” Rodolphus greeted, “News?”
“None,” the Death Eater grunted, “Blew up the house, though,” he grinned.
Bellatrix turned back to the patched couch, unimpressed. “We have more important things to be doing than destroying houses, Mulciber. The Dark Lord will not be pleased. Now, onto business.”
With a lazy flick of her wand, the occupant of the couch awoke with a start. Jaw set, the girl sat up slowly, and pulled her red hair out of her eyes.
[Deathly Hallows, (143-144) | © J.K. Rowling]
“What did you see?” Ron asked, advancing on Harry. “Did you see him at my place?”
“No, I just felt anger – he’s really angry-”
“But that could be at The Burrow,” said Ron loudly. “What else? Didn’t you see anything? Was he cursing someone?”
“No, I just felt anger – I couldn’t tell-"
She was still at The Burrow, Ginny noted absently. She was sitting on the couch her parents had bought even before the twins were born. She looked fondly at the patchwork and the hole Ron had blown in the armrest with his mind at age eight when a spider nearly scared the pants off of him. Ginny blinked when she noticed the bloodstain, and then the pain returned, washing over her like a blanket. She winced.
The Death Eaters were smiling. Bellatrix Lestrange twirled her wand between her long fingers, the sleeve of her robes sliding down her arm. Ginny took note of the purple bruises blooming around the Death Eater’s wrist with dull satisfaction.
Following the girl's gaze, the grin slipped off Bellatrix’s face like ice cream melting in the heat of a hot summer day as she yanked the sleeves of her robes down. The witch seemed to fight furiously with her facial features before settling into a dark scowl. Her steel eyes flashing dangerously, she snarled, “Harry Potter.”
Ginny blinked, her expression blank despite her heart leaping into her throat.
“Harry Potter was here, was he not?” Bellatrix sneered, her grip tightening on her wand.
Ginny smiled, “Why would Harry waste his days at The Burrow when the fate of the wizarding world rests on his shoulders alone? The days are numbered, Bellatrix - for both sides.”
“Hogwarts!” she shrieked, “Will he be returning to Hogwarts for his Seventh Year?”
Ginny raised her chin a notch and stared, determinedly, into Bellatrix’s eyes in silence.
“Will he be returning to Hogwarts?!” Bellatrix spat, nearing hysterics. Ginny remained silent, a smile creeping slowly, unassuming, onto her face.
Rodolphus placed a calming hand on Bellatrix’s shoulder and raised his wand to just below Ginny’s ribs. “There are ways, Bella…” he trailed, in a barely audible whisper, “Before you blow her up and we’re rid of all our sources…”
Ginny’s insides flipped, thinking of her famiyl, but her face remained impassive.
He turned slowly to Ginny, face devoid of emotion. She noticed with a jolt how handsome he may have once been. His bone structure and hazel eyes suggested that he may have once been a healthy, happy Hogwarts student, that a boyish light had perhaps once shone behind his eyes at the prospect of Slytherin winning the Quidditch Cup. Now, he was gaunt, his unkept black hair dull and limp around his lined face. He looked aged, though Ginny knew he wasn’t much older than Bellatrix, Sirius’ cousin, who was only a few years his senior.
“Tell us what you know of Harry Potter or suffer the consequences,” Rodolphus drawled, bored. Ginny remained steadfast, and he flicked his wand purposefully.
Ginny’s left hand flew to the right side of her stomach as a sharp pain shot up her side – a slash was cut in her dress. An angry red scratch was now visible on her fair skin. She looked up at Bellatrix, her anger flaring, “Do you always have your husband do your dirty work for you?”
The woman’s eyes flashed menacingly, but Rodolphus raised an arm. His Dark Mark glimmered as the cuff of his robes drooped slightly with the action. He moved his wand again, with care, drawing a line through the air. The action was mirrored on Ginny’s skin, like a knife through butter.
Ginny balled her hands into fists as a gash formed slowly where the angry red scratch had been. Blood trickled down to her waist, reminding her of the cut across her back Rodolphus had been responsible for earlier. She would not scream. She would not yell for help, or cry out in pain. She would not give them the satisfaction.
“Now,” Rodolphus tried again, quietly, “Will Harry Potter be returning to Hogwarts?”
Ginny bit down hard on her tongue, pushing the voices of the Lestranges to the back of her brain. She searched for the sensation she’d had fighting the Imperius Curse, allowing the commotion around her to become an echo, a memory. She yearned to feel as though she was slipping under water once more, calling on happy memories to get her through, to keep her silent.
Studying by the lake with Harry, Ron, and Hermione as the Giant Squid bathed lazily in the sun…
Ginny stretched, leaning her Potions book against the arm wrapped around her. She glanced up at Harry, his scar just visible under the fringe of his ridiculously unruly black hair. He was staring at the lake, lost in thought. Sensing her gaze, he looked down at the redhead resting her head on his chest. She smiled.
“Blimey – is McGonagall trying to kill us? Honestly…” Ron complained, drawing their attention away from each other, “Ensure you are able to successfully transfigure your feather into a dove, and then into a white marble goblet? Is she mad?” he was incredulous.
Ginny chuckled softly as Hermione tutted beside him, “Well, it is our sixth year, Ron, you must have expected the work to get a bit more difficult.”
"A bit!" Ron protested, incredulous, “An inanimate object to a living, breathing animal, and then back to a piece of dinnerware? The only person in our year who could manage that is you, and that’s just because you’re brilliant.”
Ginny watched Hermione sneak a glance at Ron, head buried in his textbook, a blush creeping across her face. She gazed at him a little longer than a friend might, before returning to her own notes, a smile lingering on her lips.
Ginny grinned knowingly at Harry, who rolled his eyes.
“That’s quite alright, I am a patient man… I will wait…” Rodolphus Lestrange’s voice tore Ginny out of her memory and back to the present - a gasp of pain escaped her lips despite her efforts. She felt a wave of cold settle over her body as the Death Eater took a step to the left and the gash on her stomach followed suit. Ginny’s muscles contracted, screaming in protest. How much blood would she lose tonight?
Bellatrix let out an impatient huff like a child tired of being dragged along on errands. “This is boring... I think I’ll go pay a visit to my dear sister, Andromeda,” she grinned wickedly before disapparating.
Rodolphus lifted his wand, completing the gash. Sweat poured down Ginny's face, her breathing laboured. She would not sigh of relief - she would not give him the satisfaction. She closed her eyes, feeling the blood slip down her arm.
“Did you hear that, girl?” Rodolphus taunted, beginning a new cut, this time on Ginny’s leg, “Your dear friend Nymphadora won’t be seeing her parents any time soon by the sounds of things…”
The gash was steadily sliding down her leg at the command of the Death Eater’s wand. It was deeper than the last, but not quite as deep as the one on her back that was now throbbing in protest. Ginny ground her teeth together and closed her eyes, calling on another happy memory…
Ginny streaked between Neville and Hannah on the Quidditch pitch, barrel-rolling to avoid a bludger. She tilted the Firebolt up slightly to avoid Michael and shot past him on her way to the goalposts, Quaffle still tucked safely under her arm.
The keeper stared back at her grimly, hands at the ready to attempt a save, his black hair blowing wildly in the wind, but Ginny was too fast for him as she ducked right, then left, and sent the Quaffle spinning home through the middle hoop.
She let out a delighted whoop and pulled up in front of Harry who was grinning in spite of himself.
“I’m no Keeper, that’s for sure,” he laughed.
Ginny grinned, “Maybe I’m just a cracking good Chaser.”
“Maybe it’s because you’re using my broom,” he teased.
“What does a Keeper need with a Firebolt?” she exclaimed.
“Oi!” Neville called, “Are we playing Quidditch or are we having a good aerial chat?”
Ginny looked to the ground where Hermione was standing in the middle of the pitch, textbooks in arm, looking very miffed indeed with one hand permanently fixed to her hip. Ginny bit her lip as Harry muttered, “Uh oh.” The two lowered their brooms to the ground gradually. Hermione was on them before their feet had even touched the ground.
“‘Meet me at the pitch at half-past’ he says! ‘I’ll be changed and ready to go!’ he says! Honestly, I could have memorized the ingredients in five potions Slughorn’s set us for the final if I didn’t have to wait for you to finish playing with broomsticks and Quaffles in the air all day!” Hermione chastised as Harry tried to flatten his hair. Ginny surpressed a grin, biting her lip and dropping her gaze to the ground. He looked like a child in trouble with his mother.
Harry muttered an apology as Hermione scolded him further for distracting Ginny when she, herself should be studying for her O.W.L.s before spinning on her heel to head off to the library where Harry was to meet her in ten minutes, or else.
“I’d better go,” Harry mumbled, a fine line forming between his furrowed eyebrows. “See you.”
He handed her his broom and leaned down to kiss her, his hand in her hair. She melted into the kiss in spite of being in clear view of everyone else on the pitch. She was safe here, happy here…
Ripped out of her happy memory once again, Ginny gasped as suddenly the gash on her leg stopped travelling. Rodolphus pulled his left sleeve up and scowled at his Dark Mark. He shot one last loathing look at Ginny. “Until next time, blood traitor,” he said scathingly before disapparating.
At least a half dozen more pops sounded from upstairs, as the echoes of Death Eaters disapparating from The Burrow rang out like music. Relief flooded Ginny as she cried out, pain enveloping her.
Fred and George bolted down the stairs nearly on top of each other, both white as sheets, but otherwise unharmed. Ginny sighed in relief. They were okay.
“You bloody stubborn idiot, running away from me, you could’ve been killed,” Fred choked on the last word, worry ringing through his voice. He took her hand in his, looking her fiercely in the eye.“You’re going to be okay,” he told her with rapt determination.
Molly Weasley was already at her daughter’s side when George turned to call for her, muttering healing spells and conjuring medicinal potions. Mr. Weasley, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Tonks and Lupin began to gather around the couch as well, each sporting bruises and scrapes from their own interrogations, but Ginny was certainly the worst off. Ginny felt the gashes begin to seal themselves, leaving hot white scars behind as the pain subsided. Her vision began to blur at the edges.
“Squeeze my hand, okay? Distract from the pain,” Fred offered gallantly, his face white as a fear as he watched his mother work.
Ginny smiled at him gratefully and squeezed. Fred screwed up his face and looked at George.
“What?” George asked incredulously.
“Her grip’s like Mum’s!”
Mrs. Weasley glowered at Fred, who wilted under her gaze as George ranted on about having lost an ear, but a tight handshake is what would finish off Fred, and Ginny giggled in spite of her pain, in spite of her loss.
“They’ve left?” Charlie noted softly, more than asked.
Ginny nodded, eyes welling up.
Fleur was stroking Ginny’s red hair affectionately. “’E would be so proud, Ginny. Really. You ‘ave been magnificent…”
Mr. Weasley stood and swished his wand grimly, a silvery substance shooting out the window.
[Deathly Hallows, (144) | © J.K. Rowling]
“Family safe, do not reply, we are being watched.”
The Patronus dissolved into nothingness. Ron let out a noise between a whimper and a groan and dropped on to the sofa: Hermione joined him, gripping his arm.
“They’re all right, they’re all right!” she whispered, and Ron half laughed and hugged her.
“Harry,” he said over Hermione’s shoulder, “I-”
“It’s not a problem,” said Harry, sickened by the pain in his head. “It’s your family, ‘course you’re worried. I’d feel the same way.” He thought of Ginny. “I do feel the same way.”
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