There was a moment of stunned silence as the white light from Harry’s silvery stag gradually faded away. Even after the creature was gone, Harry’s short, curt message seemed to linger in the cool air of the dungeon corridor.
“…wait for us...”
Remus blinked, his eyes unfocused on the sealed door of the Potions classroom.
How could he even cast a Patronus charm right now? he wondered incredulously, struggling to understand what was going on. It’s a miracle he hasn’t already killed her…how is he bringing her back? Unless it’s a trick, but why…
Shaking himself, his eyes flicked across the shocked faces of Ginny’s brothers, Kingsley and several other Aurors. They too seemed to be frozen in place by the unexpected message until finally Tonks spoke, breaking the spell.
“So, she’s still alive,” she announced, her shoulders slumping in relief.
“But in what condition?” Bill countered, his body alert with tension as he drew his wand. “We have to get to the gate, right now,” he instructed, heading for the stairs.
“Wait!” Remus declared, grabbing Bill’s shoulder as he passed him.
“There’s no telling what he’s done to her, Remus,” Bill snapped, pulling away, “…what he’s bringing for us to see...”
“But we can’t just…”
“Bill’s right,” Charlie interrupted, drawing his own wand and gesturing for the younger Aurors in the hall to follow him.
“No, wait a second!” Remus demanded, motioning for Charlie to stop. “Just wait. We can’t leave the room unguarded.”
“But we can’t let him get into the school either,” Kingsley pointed out, stepping up. “The seal should block the signature of the spell, but if he gets too close, he’ll feel the magic.”
“And we have no idea what he’ll do if he senses it,” Tonks added, placing her hand on Remus’ shoulder. “We don’t know what shape they’re in...”
“I only care what shape Ginny’s in,” Bill interrupted, his eyes flicking to the sealed Potion’s room door and back. “They’ve already started and we can’t warn them. All we can do is buy them time and hope he doesn’t kill anyone else with his games before they finish.”
“Bill’s right,” Charlie agreed, gesturing to his brother. “I’m going,” he declared before he turned and ran for the stairs.
Without a second thought, Bill followed, leaving the others behind as he ran to catch up.
“They’re right, Remus,” Tonks pressed. “We need to get outside...you need to get outside. You might be able to reach him. Come on.”
“Kingsley, stay here,” Remus ordered, nodding as he pulled his wand. “Put up another ward, as strong as you can.”
Running toward the stairs, he could only hope they’d be able to maintain control of the situation long enough for Dumbledore to finish the new charm.
Outside the castle the sky was overcast, the sun blocked by thick grey clouds. A large golden eagle was perched on top of the Hogwarts gate, so still it almost didn’t look real. When Harry and Ginny arrived with a crack, the bird took flight, launching into the air with a startled flap of its wings.
Ginny shivered in her sundress, her eyes drawn to the large creature. It swooped away toward the Forbidden Forest before she looked through the rod-iron gate at the castle. Familiar now that she had her memories, the school seemed ominously quiet, looming in the distance.
“What if they’re not here?” she asked anxiously, her eyes flicking across the few lit windows up on the hill. “What if they’ve gone somewhere else?”
Standing at her side, Harry wrapped his hand tightly around hers. His eyes slid slightly out of focus as he searched for magical auras within the castle. A faint buzz of magic seemed to pass from his palm to hers, raising the hairs on her arm.
“They’re here,” Harry assured her after a second. “I can feel them.”
“Are they on their way?” she asked, her grip tightening as she looked over at him.
For a second, he didn’t reply. Instead, his eyes narrowed and a muscle in his jaw twitched. His teeth ground together as the magic surrounding them increased briefly before subsiding.
“I can’t tell,” he replied finally with a frown. “But, they’ll come for you when they realize we’ve arrived. They have to.”
“And then?” she asked, her eyes returning warily to the gate.
“We show them you’re ok…that I’m ok,” he assured firmly, pulling her toward him so he could wrap his arms around her waist. “Make them believe it.”
“What if they won’t listen?” she asked worriedly, leaning into him and pressing her cheek against his chest as she continued to scan the path.
“We make them listen,” Harry promised.
“Right,” she agreed softly, her fingers curling into the sides of his shirt.
Harry brought his hand up to cradle the side of her face as he held her closer. Suddenly, the idea that the others would believe them…would even stop to listen seemed unlikely. Until it happened, even Harry had believed there was no way for him to be free from the darkness.
His chest tightened as he recognized again what the woman in his arms had managed to give him. Love for her swelled inside of him and he tightened his grip on her.
“They’re not taking you, Ginny,” he murmured soothingly, using his hand to tilt her head up so he could brush his mouth against hers. “I promise.”
Rising up on her toes, Ginny pressed against him as they kissed.
“They’re here,” Harry warned, his head lifting sharply a second before figures began to emerge from the mist.
“I see them,” Ginny said, her voice shaking slightly.
Anger and grief rolled through her in confusing waves when she spotted her brothers. Moving cautiously as they approached the gate, their faces were full of apprehension. Charlie was on his broom as he and several other Aurors led the way.
Pulling from Harry’s arms, Ginny moved toward them.
“Ginny, don’t,” Harry cautioned as he reached for her.
“They need to see me,” she insisted, walking toward the gate. “I want them to see that I’m…Ah!” she cried out when something sharp sliced through the bottom of her bare foot. Collapsing to the ground, she covered the fresh cut as blood seeped through her fingers
“NO!” Charlie roared. “GINNY!”
Looking up, Ginny saw Charlie’s panic as he sped up, leveling his wand at Harry. Her heart stopped as she realized how it must look to the others. They didn’t know Harry was better. They wouldn’t see anything beyond her falling to the ground in pain.
“Are you ok?” Harry asked, his hands landing on her shoulders.
“Get away,” she gasped frantically, pushing his hands off. “Harry, get… No!” she cried when spells began flying toward them.
Ginny threw her hands out in defense, but Harry was faster. Grabbing her, he twisted her down onto the ground and shielded her with his body. Landing hard on her forearms, she cried out while a series of loud cracks exploded around them. Fisting the grass in her hands to stop her fingers from shaking, she looked up to see Harry’s shield surrounding them. Colours were shifting on the surface of the barrier, reflecting the spells as they impacted and ricocheted away.
“Why the hell are they attacking?” Harry exclaimed, his chest against her back as he held her down.
Magic seemed to be flowing off him in waves, making her skin tingle where he touched her. Shifting frantically underneath him, she struggled to turn over so her back was on the ground. His face was close to hers, his jaw set as his eyes glowed gold. Above them she could see the shimmering arch of his shield, flaring up as the barrage of spells continued to impact like fireworks.
“Stop!” Ginny cried, trying to look around his shoulder. “Stop it! Bill, Charlie, STOP!”
“They can’t hear you,” Harry shook his head. “Or they’re not listening.”
“They think you’re hurting me,” she said frantically. “We have to….”
“But I didn’t do anything,” he exclaimed angrily.
“I fell down,” she explained, flinching when a spell impacted right above them. “They don’t know…”
“Shit,” Harry bit out, shutting his eyes for a second. “Ok,” he sighed before taking a steadying breath. “We need to show them I’m not trying to hurt you. Stay down…I’m going to get up slowly.”
As Harry began to shift into a kneeling position, Ginny’s eyes flicked over the men encircling them. Hazy and distorted through the wall of energy, she could just make out the twins and Percy who had joined Bill, their spells still flying as fast as they could cast them. Charlie and Tonks were hovering overhead, looking for a way through the shield. Only Remus seemed to be trying to defuse the situation as he attempted to force the men back.
Where’s Dumbledore? she wondered, her eyes raking back over the group as a shock of foreboding went through her. He should be at the front. He should be…
“Harry!” she yelled sharply, sitting up and grabbing his arm.
“They’re not all here,” she cried out, her heart racing faster as she realized who else was missing.
“What?” he asked, his brow furrowing.
“Where’s Dumbledore? Where’s my father…Snape?” she demanded. “They should be here.”
Harry’s head whipped around, his eyes narrowing as he really looked at the group for the first time. His inhale was sharp, fear flooding his eyes as he looked back down at her. For a second they stared at each other before Ginny began shaking her head.
“No,” she said. “They wouldn’t….we told them we were coming. We asked them to wait…” she gasped, attempting to catch her breath as tears of panic filled her eyes. “I can’t lose you…”
“You’re not going to,” he swore before he shoved up from the ground.
Ginny watched as he dropped his shield and lashed out, his spells fast and bright as they sent the attacking men sprawling. Reaching up, he closed his first around nothing and yanked down, sending all of the brooms crashing to the ground. It took only a few moments for him to have everyone incapacitated. The only one left was Remus, standing alone as he stared at Harry in alarm.
“Harry,” he began warily, raising his hands in defense.
Ignoring him, Harry moved back to Ginny, pulling her quickly up from the ground. Wincing, she rested her weight on one foot as she leaned against him.
“Harry, just let her walk over…”
“Where are the others?” Ginny cut him off, healing her foot and alleviating the pain.
“What?” Remus asked, startled.
“Where’s my father?” she demanded. “Professor Dumbledore…Snape…Where are they?”
“It doesn’t matter…” Remus shook his head as he gaped at Harry’s arm wrapped tightly around Ginny’s waist. “How are you able to…”
In the blink of an eye, Harry moved from beside Ginny to in front of Remus. Grabbing the older man’s neck, Harry forced him to hold his gaze.
“Harry,” Remus gurgled.
“Legilimens,” Harry hissed, pushing against his defenses and into his mind. After a few seconds, Harry released him and took a staggered step back.
“What did you see?” Ginny asked, running to Harry.
“He’s…stalling for them,” Harry managed, his voice breaking as he stared at Remus. For a second, his face showed the depth of his hurt before it shifted to rage. “You’re fucking…God dammit!” he shouted, the air crackling with energy. “I told you we were coming! I asked you to wait…to trust me for two god-damn seconds before…”
“Harry, calm down...” Remus attempted to diffuse him, glancing around as the wind began to pick up.
“Make them stop,” Harry ordered. “Now…”
“I can’t,” Remus shook his head grimly. “I can’t reach them. They’ve blocked everyone out…in case…”
“NO! This is not happening,” Harry declared. “Not again!”
Swinging his arm wide, he sent Remus flying several feet away. Without pausing, he took off for the castle, pulling Ginny with him.
“Where are they?” Ginny yelled as she struggled to keep pace.
“Somewhere in the Dungeons.”
Desperation drove them, twigs and leaves crackling under their feet as they raced up the path.
“We’re going to make it,” he promised. Fear coursed through him, despite his words, and after a few seconds he pointed his wand in the direction of the Quidditch pitch. “ACCIO BROOMS!”
The muscles in Ginny’s legs were burning by the time the brooms finally zoomed into view. They barely paused as they caught them, jumping on and flying toward the school. Rising above the twisting path, they flew straight over the trees.
Trying not to think about what would happen if they were too late, Ginny pushed her broom as fast as it would go. Beside her, Harry was bent over his own broom, his face a mask of determination. Racing with Harry would have been exhilarating in any other instance, but there was nothing but terror building inside of her as her hair whipped out behind her.
Ginny held back a sob of relief when the castle doors swung open before them. Flying through the entrance, they pulled up with a whoosh just inside the hall.
“Which way?” Ginny demanded as they both jumped to the floor.
Casting his broom aside, Harry shut his eyes for a few precious seconds. Shifting through the magical auras as quickly as possible, he searched for the ones he wanted.
“Potions,” he announced finally, his eyes snapping open.
Taking Ginny’s hand, he ran with her across the hall to the nearest door to the dungeons. Stumbling down the narrow stone steps, they staggered into the dark hallway. The air seemed even colder than usual as they took off toward the door at the end of the long hall.
They’re not taking her…they’re not taking her, Harry chanted as he ran, his lungs on fire. They’re not taking her, again.
Harry could suddenly feel the magic; feel the spell being performed in the distant room. The air seemed to crackle with the force of it as they neared the door. Focused completely on reaching the room, Harry didn’t notice Kingsley until it was too late.
The Auror’s spell, cast from where he hid in the shadows, impacted hard, sending Harry flying backwards.
Ginny’s shoulder wrenched when her hand was jerked back with him. Screaming in alarm and pain, she landed on her knees as their grip broke. Horrified, she watched as Harry landed hard several feet away.
“Ginny, run!” Kingsley’s deep voice yelled as she scrambled up but she just sprinted to Harry and dropped back to her knees at his side.
The wind knocked out of him, he groped for his wand, but she snatched it up from the floor first and swung it toward Kingsley.
“Reducto!” she cried.
Her spell shot down the hall, hitting Kingsley and throwing him into the air as she turned back to Harry. He was already moving, grabbing her arm and shoving up from the floor with a grimace.
“Are you ok?” she asked anxiously, as he took a staggering step to the side.
“Yeah, just run,” he urged, his fingers digging into her arm as he found his balance. He could feel the force of the magic churning faster, the intensity rising as they took off again.
We need more time…a few more seconds…a few more…
His hand clamped down on hers as he realized they weren’t going to make it.
“No,” Harry panted, his chest heaving as he raised his wand. “STOP!”
His spell broke through the wards, blowing the door to bits as they reached it. Even as they raced through the entrance, he knew it was too late and a bone deep ache erupted inside of him. He heard the final words fade away, saw the wizards gaping at them from across the cauldron.
Ginny’s scream tore through him and he yanked her toward him as he created a shield – a last desperate attempt to keep the magic out.
“I love you,” he choked out, clutching her to him before everything suddenly went white.
Crying out, he collapsed to his knees, dragging Ginny with him as her fingers dug into his shoulders. Her whimper was choked, his name muffled against his shirt as she experienced what he did. Futilely, he fought against the pain in his mind, his body shaking as he clung to his memories.
“No, nonononono,” he moaned as his thoughts began to swirl, faster and faster until any chance of deliberate thought was impossible.
Ginny went limp in his arms a second before the world went black.
Arthur couldn’t move as he stared at his daughter. Now on the floor, she lay unconscious in Harry’s arms.
“What…What happened?” he breathed before he staggered around the cauldron toward them. “What happened?”
Looking back, he realized there was no one to answer. Dumbledore sat hunched awkwardly in his chair, his eyes shut as the spell worked through his memories. Dawlish merely shook his head, his eyes wide with shock as he stared at the ruined door.
“I’m…confused,” he said dazedly, bringing his hand to his forehead.
“Ginny went to Hogwarts,” Arthur informed him, his eyes moving back to his daughter. “Harry was trying to kill her.”
“Ah,” Dawlish replied before he paused. “Ah,” he repeated as the words clicked into place, countering the Fidelius. With only recent memories of Ginny and what had happened, it only took a few moments for his memories to be restored.
“Help me,” Arthur said, hurrying toward Ginny and Harry. “We need to…Ah!” he shouted when Harry’s shield thrust him back several steps. Light flared with the impact, illuminating the magical arch.
“Are you ok?” Dawlish asked, rushing over as Arthur raised his wand.
“I’m fine,” Arthur insisted quickly. “Don’t worry about me! We need to bring this down.”
For the next couple of minutes they worked to counter Harry’s shield until Dumbledore began to stir.
Seeing the movement, Arthur ran back to the cauldron. He helped the older man stand up before breaking the charm on him.
“Harry cast some sort of shield,” Dawlish explained as they crossed back to where the couple lay. “We can’t reach them.”
“I don’t understand where they came from,” Arthur added anxiously as Dumbledore attempted to bring it down himself. “How did they get here?”
“We won’t get any answers until they’re awake,” Dumbledore replied, lowering his wand with a frown. “We’ll need to work quickly to break the charm on the others. We should find out what they remember before Harry and Ginny wake up.”
“So we’re just going to leave them here?” Arthur demanded as he stared down at Ginny.
She was clinging to Harry, her brow furrowed and her eyes moving quickly under their lids.
“I don’t see another option,” Dumbledore answered. “Until Harry brings the shield down, we can’t reach them. I know you’re worried but even if they wake while we’re gone, their memories are altered. They’ll be confused but not in danger.”
“I still don’t like the idea of leaving her alone with him,” Arthur admitted.
“They won’t be alone,” Dumbledore assured him before turning to Dawlish. “I think it would be best if you remained here, John, just in case.”
“Of course,” Dawlish nodded in agreement. “I’ll look out for her...you just get the others and get back here.”
“We’ll be back soon,” the headmaster replied.
Frowning, Arthur cast one last look at his daughter before reluctantly following Dumbledore out of the room. Regardless of how he felt, deep down he knew the headmaster was right. They needed to break the charm on the others. It was the only way they were going to find out what had happened while they were casting the spell.
Ginny was dreaming, the world hazy as the man holding her nuzzled his face into her neck. Her head felt like it was full of cotton, her movement sluggish as she pressed up against him. Her side was cold where she lay on the stone floor, but it barely registered as his hand roamed down her back. As he pulled her closer, she felt his lips gently brush over her jaw.
Almost without thought she turned her head, her lips meeting his. Initially their mouths simply rested sleepily together, their breath mingling as her hand moved to rest against his cheek. Then, with a soft moan of need his tongue delved deep inside. Warm and familiar, the passion of the kiss grew as their bodies shifted instinctively together.
Ginny’s eyes flicked open and then closed as he rolled her over onto her back, his tongue thrusting into her mouth as he slid on top of her. He felt wonderful and Ginny ignored the slight ache in her head as he pressed her down.
“God, Cho,” he moaned huskily as his knee eased between her legs, “you feel…”
Coming abruptly and fully awake at his words, Ginny froze as she realized this was real. A second later she cried out, beginning to shove frantically at the man on top of her.
“What the,” he mumbled, as he pulled up, revealing unfamiliar green eyes that locked with hers.
“Get off me!” she exclaimed, twisting as she struggled to sit up. “Get off…”
“Wh-what the hell!” he cursed, releasing her suddenly as he scrambled back. “Shit, I…who are…”
“Stay back!” she ordered, thrusting her hand out when he began to move toward her. “Just stay away from me…”
Trying not to panic, she groped for her wand on the floor. Her fear increased when she couldn’t find it.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I…wait…Ginny?”
Looking over in surprise, she stared at the rumpled, dazed man kneeling in front of her. His hair was long and black, tangled around his face as he gaped at her. He seemed vaguely familiar but in her panic she couldn’t place him.
“Ginny Weasley, right?” he asked in confusion as his hand went to his hair. “I…What the hell…”
“I don’t…I don’t know you…”
Ginny’s heart pounded with fear as she struggled to remember how she got there. Beginning to crawl away again, she gasped when she felt the slight ache between her legs. It was suddenly very apparent that she didn’t have on any underwear and her eyes flew back to him as she crawled faster. Tears rushed into her eyes as she scrambled to get to her feet.
“Wait,” he called suddenly, reaching out to her. “Stop!”
“No!” Ginny cried when she suddenly flew back to him. “Don’t touch me!” she screamed as he caught her. Her fist flew, hitting him in the face as she struggled to get away. “Let go!” she cried as he cursed, struggling to catch her arms. “Don’t touch me…”
“Calm down!” he ordered sharply, clamping a hand over her mouth and, wrapping an arm tightly around her waist. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Ignoring his urgings, Ginny continued to fight against him, her breathing harsh and her angry words muffled against his hand as she tried to arch away.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he repeated firmly, tightening his grip. “I promise. I just didn’t want you to hit the shield,” he explained hurriedly. “There’s a shield, Ginny. Look around us, you’ll see it.”
Whimpering, Ginny’s gaze moved over the room again. After a few seconds, her eyes focused and she saw the faint shimmer of the magic barrier. Freezing in surprise, her feelings of fear lessened slightly as she realized he’d been trying to protect her.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Harry repeated when he felt the change in her. Small and trembling in his arms, he felt incredibly protective of her as he pulled his hand slowly from her mouth. “You are Ginny Weasley, right? Ron’s sister?”
Ginny remained silent for a moment before nodding her response.
“I’m Harry,” he said before pausing slightly. “Um…Potter.”
“Oh,” she breathed, her body tensing before she began to gradually relax against him.
“You know who I am,” he reminded her gently. “I’m Ron’s friend. I help people…and I’m going to get us out of here.”
“Ok,” she replied tremulously.
Harry knew he should probably release her now that she was calm, but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to let go. For some reason touching her made him feel better, her back warm where it rested against his chest. She didn’t seem to mind the contact as her hands rested comfortably on his where he held her.
“But…Where are we?” she asked. “What are we doing here? How…”
“I have no idea,” he admitted. “I don’t remember what happened…but we’re going to figure it out, ok?”
“You don’t remember anything?” she asked after a second.
“No,” he answered, frustrated that his memories seemed to simply stop. “I remember coming home from work and going to bed early…but then nothing until now.”
“I don’t remember either,” Ginny said softly, her voice breaking at the end.
“Hey,” he soothed. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
“Too late,” she breathed, her words catching.
“What do you mean?”
“I think…I think something’s already been…done to me.”
“But, I thought you couldn’t remember anything,” he frowned.
“I can’t but…I hurt,” she whispered, curling her knees up as she began to shake, “I hurt and my…my underwear’s missing…and…and…”
The hot anger that surged in Harry was swift and fierce, closing his throat as he tightened his grip on her stomach. His magic seemed to strain toward her as well, almost like it wanted to reach inside and touch hers. Startled by the feeling, Harry moved his hands to her a waist and shifted back.
“It wasn’t me,” he promised fervently. “I swear, Ginny…I would never….”
Not true, his mind challenged reminding of him of a time when he might not have cared. Shoving the thought away before it could take hold, he tried to focus on the present.
“But you don’t remember,” she challenged softly, a shudder running through her body.
“I would remember that,” Harry replied tightly, but inside his heart was beginning to pound.
I would, right?
Suddenly, the fear that something had been done too them was joined by the fear that he might have done something to her. Years ago, he knew he might have, when he’d been unable to keep control of his magic or his mind when the evil inside of him managed to take over. But he hadn’t experienced anything like that in over two years and there was no logical reason why he would have some sort of relapse that would lead him here.
Searching inside of himself, he realized he felt…different. So used to holding himself in complete control at all times, it frightened him even more to recognize he didn’t seem to be doing it now. He didn’t seem to feel…anything…inside of him.
Crouched on the floor, Ginny turned back to look at him. Her hair hung down her back in tangled strands, her dark chocolate eyes wide as a doe’s as she stared at him. Even pale and vulnerable, she was beautiful and something inside of him clenched hard.
I would remember, he told himself again, willing it to be true. I would remember hurting her like that…
“We’re going to figure this all out,” he promised after a second, picking up his wand, “but first, I’m going to get you out of here.”
Casting a counter charm to test the strength of the magic, Harry was surprised when the shield instantly fell. Instead of making him feel better, he felt even more on edge as he glanced around again. Taking in the details of the room, he saw that tables had been pushed aside to leave room for a large cauldron. A black chalkboard on the far wall was filled with instructions for an O.W.L. level potion. His brow furrowed in confusion when he realized they were at Hogwarts.
“Come on,” he urged as he helped Ginny stand up.
Beginning to lead her to the door, he took three steps before he froze, feeling the magic. Looking sharply to his left, he shifted Ginny behind him as he lifted his wand.
“You have one second to show yourself,” he ordered.
With a rustle, Dawlish’s disillusionment charm fell, revealing him standing in the shadows.
Harry’s eyes widened and his arm lowered slightly before he raised it back up.
“What’s going on?” Harry demanded.
“Harry,” Dawlish greeted him, his body tense as he took a tentative step forward.
“I would rather you didn’t move,” Harry warned him grimly a second before bright blue shackles flared into existence around Dawlish’s ankles. “Is this the Ministry’s doing?”
“No,” Dawlish shook his head. “Is she unharmed?” he asked, gesturing to Ginny. “Does she need to go to the Hospital wing?”
“How about you answer my questions first,” Harry countered. “What the hell is going on? What are we doing here?”
Instead of answering, Dawlish looked over at the door.
Harry looked too, distracted by the sound of running footsteps echoing down the hall toward them. Grabbing Ginny, he backed her up swiftly, swinging his wand arm around so it was pointed at the door.
“Ginny!” a voice yelled as the shadowed group approached.
“Bill!” Ginny cried, recognizing the voice instantly.
Pushing past Harry, she took off toward the door.
Bill ran into the room a second later, meeting her half way and catching her in his arms.
“Oh, God,” Bill breathed in relief lifting her up as she buried her face against his neck. “Thank God,” he whispered, stroking her hair. “Are you ok? Are you injured? What hurts, Ginny?”
Harry approached slowly, watching as Ginny began to cry.
Murmuring soothing words of comfort, Bill met Harry’s gaze for a second before he turned and carried her quickly toward Arthur and her other brothers. Dumbledore passed them, walking purposefully toward Harry with Remus only a step behind.
“What’s going on?” Harry asked, his attention moving to his mentors now that she was safe. “I don’t remember…”
In Bill’s arms, Ginny pressed her face against her brother’s neck, breathing in the familiar, soothing, scent of him. She knew everything wasn’t ok, but being with him made her feel safe and protected.
“We’ve got you now, Ginny,” her father soothed, his hand rubbing her back. “We’re going to take care of you…make sure you’re ok…that everything’s ok.”
Nodding, Ginny’s grip around on Bill’s neck tightened as she lifted her head. Looking across the room, she watched for a second as Harry spoke with two older wizards. Her eyes widened when the younger of the two suddenly sent Harry to the floor with an unexpected stunner.
“Everything’s going to be fine, Ginny,” Bill murmured.
Her words cut off when the world suddenly went black.
“Get him out of here,” Arthur ordered, glancing once at Harry before turning back to Bill.
“Is Pomfrey awake?” Bill asked as he passed Ginny to Charlie, who scooped her up into the cradle of his arms. “We need to make sure Ginny’s ok before we obliviate what just happened. Professor, you’ll deal with Harry?” he asked, looking at Dumbledore.
“Wait,” Remus said, stepping in front of them. “I don’t think it’s that simple.”
“What do you mean?” Arthur asked, pausing as he began to cross to the exit. “This was the plan, Remus. Ginny goes back to her life in England and we move Harry to the French division.”
“Yes,” Remus nodded, before turning to Dumbledore. “I know, but, I think something has changed.”
“Not this again,” Bill growled. “You can’t keep....”
“Look at your sister, Bill,” Remus cut him off in frustration, pointing at Ginny where she lay in Charlie’s arms. “Does it look like she’s half dead the way we expected?
Looking over, all of the men in the room studied her as Remus continued to speak.
“She doesn’t have a bruise on her. She’s not bloody or broken; she’s wearing a dress for God’s sake. Her hair looks washed and I already told you she was standing with Harry at the gate yelling at me for not stopping the spell. And Harry,” he continued, as he pointed at where he lay on the ground, “was…”
“Still out of control,” Bill interrupted, although his eyes remained on Ginny. “We all saw him send her to the ground. We all felt it when he sent us to the ground. Tonks is in hospital right now because of…”
“I’m well aware of where my wife is,” Remus snapped. “And maybe he is still surging, but his eyes…” turning to Dumbledore, he shook his head. “They weren’t black, Albus. They were glowing bright gold. I’ve never seen anything like it. And he was coherent. He shouldn’t have been able to do what he did…show fear or hold her hand or anything…”
“So what do you expect us to do?” Percy spoke from where he stood behind his father. “Obviously, countering the spell isn’t an option. Risking something like that would be completely unreasonable.”
“He has a point, Remus,” Dumbledore acknowledged. “If what you say is true, then we need to figure out what is going on. But we can’t just lift the spell and ask him.”
“Then we ask her,” Fred spoke as George nodded beside him. “Lift it just on her. She can give us the answers.”
“We can look in her memories if we need to,” Remus added. “But she has to have them back for us to do that.”
“But what if…” Arthur sighed, rubbing his hand hard over his face. “What if it’s nothing? Can we even trust her to tell us the truth?”
“We owe them this,” Remus urged, stepping up to Arthur. “We have to be sure, Arthur.”
Ginny’s head ached when she woke again, this time on a soft comforter. Groaning, she brought her hands to her temples as her eyes blinked open in confusion.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Arthur whispered as he leaned over her.
“Dad,” she murmured, leaning into his touch as he ran his hand tenderly down her hair. The gesture was familiar and comforting, easing the tension in her body as she looked up at him. “I don’t…what’s going on?”
“We need to ask you some questions,” he told her gently. “Do you remember what happened?”
Furrowing her brow, Ginny stared at him for a second. Then, with a horrified gasp, she knocked his hands away. Rolling off the side of the bed, she staggered forward, looking up when someone caught her shoulders to steady her.
“No!” she cried, knocking Bill’s hands away and stumbling back. “Harry!”
Turning, she froze when she found Remus, Dumbledore and Arthur blocking her way.
“Where is he?” she demanded, looking around.
“First, we need to ask some…”
“WHERE IS HE?!” she screamed. Panic coursed through her, stealing her breath as her heart raced frantically in her chest.
Dumbledore threw a shield to block the curses that flew from her shaking hands.
“Ginny, calm down.”
“I WON’T CALM DOWN!” she cried, her whole body trembling. “I WON’T! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HIM?”
“We haven’t done anything to him,” Arthur said anxiously, taking a step forward with his hands up. “He’s just in another room, baby. He’s sleeping.”
“Why should I trust you?” she asked, tears brimming in her eyes as she backed away. “You’re all liars.”
“I’m not lying about this,” he swore, lowering his hands to his sides.
“I don’t…believe you,” she told him, tears rolling down her cheek.
“If you want me to answer any of your questions, you’ll take me to him,” she gritted, stepping back when he tried to approach again. “Now.”
Arthur glanced at Dumbledore, his face stricken. For a moment Dumbledore continued to study Ginny before he nodded slightly.
“Come on,” Bill held out his hand, stepping up beside her.
“Don’t touch me,” she hissed when he reached for her.
Hatred for the people surrounding her overwhelmed her, curling her stomach at the thought of being near them. She needed Harry. She needed to see him and know he was safe because she could still feel it. She could feel the minutes when she didn’t remember him and she felt sick.
“Don’t pretend that you care about me,” she forced out, her heart aching as she avoided Bill’s gaze.
“Ginny...” Bill responded, the sting from her words evident in his voice. “Of course…”
“Just take me to Harry,” she insisted, refusing to acknowledge her brother’s pain.
“Fine,” he gritted out after a second, his hands curled into fists at his sides as he headed for the door.
Ginny followed, her face darkening when the other wizards formed a line behind her. The rest of her brothers were standing across the hall and they turned toward her when she walked out. Her heart spasmed in her chest as her eyes swept over them. Fred, George, Percy, Charlie…
“Gin,” Fred began hopefully, taking a step forward.
Shaking her head sharply, she looked away. Afraid she might be physically unable to talk to them without breaking down, her gaze fixed on the wall as her hand rose to press against her suddenly tumultuous stomach.
“Where is he?” she asked aloud. “Where’s Ron?”
“At St. Mungo’s,” George told her.
Ginny’s breath released in a rush of relief and her heart lifted just slightly.
“He hasn’t woken up yet,” her father explained from behind her. “Your mother…well, we thought it better that she stay with him for a bit. But she wanted…”
“I don’t really care what she wanted,” Ginny interrupted sharply, her hand curling into a fist against her stomach. She didn’t want to talk to her father…or think about her mother so she continued on, forcing Bill to speed up to stay in front of her. The rest of her brothers fell into step behind them.
Eventually, they arrived at a darkened hall, the sparse torches doing little to brighten the passageway. Bill hesitated slightly at the turn, before he strode purposefully toward a non-descript door on the left side. Two Aurors were standing guard, but they stepped aside at Dumbledore’s command. Ginny waited impatiently while he and Bill used a series of complicated wand movements to bring down the wards.
Finally, the headmaster brought out a large key and slipped it into the keyhole. The tumblers rumbled as he unlocked the final barrier. The hinges creaked and light spilled out into the hallway when he pulled the heavy door open.
Pushing past before anyone could stop her, Ginny entered the small room. With no windows, it felt like a dungeon with dark, dusty corners and a rusted chandelier hanging from the ceiling with thick ivory candles.
Eyes closed, Harry lay bound to a small twin bed that was positioned in the middle of the room. Thick manacles encircled his wrists and ankles, connected to large chains that were bolted to the floor.
When Ginny saw him, she ran to him with a cry of dismay.
“Harry!” she gasped when she reached him, cradling his face in her hands.
The enchantment kept him asleep, his breathing deep and even as she ran her fingers over the stubble on his jaw. Leaning down, she pressed her lips briefly to his as her tears increased. Choking out his name again, she rubbed her nose against his.
Straightening at the sound of her father’s voice, she glared over at him.
“Release him,” she ordered, her palm resting against Harry’s hair.
“We can’t do that,” Dumbledore replied. “We need to…”
“You need nothing,” Ginny countered coldly. “You can’t keep us here.”
“We can until we believe you’re safe,” Dumbledore corrected her. “I know this is hard…”
“You have no idea what hard is,” Ginny interrupted scathingly. “You took my life.”
“No, my dear,” Dumbledore corrected gently. “We saved your life. And his.”
“By doing what I didn’t want!” she accused, her eyes going to her dad.
“I know you’re angry,” Arthur told her, beginning to approach her, “but we did what had to be…”
“It wasn’t your decision!” Ginny cried, the pain in her voice stopping him in his tracks.
“Yes, it was,” Bill spoke up. “It was our decision because you couldn’t make it.”
“Liar!” she countered, swinging toward him. “I made it…you just didn’t like that I said no!”
“Because, you couldn’t see anything beyond him!” he exploded, pointing at Harry.
“There was nothing beyond him!” Ginny screamed back. “He was my life!”
“He was going to kill you!” Bill yelled, stalking toward her. “And I’m sorry that…”
“You’re not sorry,” Ginny cried. “NONE OF YOU ARE SORRY!”
“ENOUGH!” Dumbledore commanded.
Ginny’s gaze swept over the distraught faces of her family before she turned her back on them. Focusing again on Harry, Ginny wiped angrily at her cheeks as she took a shuddering breath. Her heart was pounding and she squeezed her eyes shut, wanting nothing more than to be back at the cottage and away from the people surrounding her.
I can’t do this by myself, she thought, grasping Harry’s hand.
“Everyone has suffered, you most of all,” Dumbledore acknowledged. “But that doesn’t change why we’re here. You need to tell us what’s going on with Harry.”
“I've already told you," she insisted. "You can wake him up. He's not dangerous anymore.”
“How can you continue to defend him?” Bill managed, his voice thick with anguish. “He cursed you right in front of us. Again.”
“No, he didn’t,” Ginny replied tightly.
“We saw him,” Percy interjected. “We saw you fall!”
“You don’t know what you saw,” she snapped. “I fell down because I sliced my foot open on a rock. Harry is fine.”
“He’s not fine,” Bill snarled. “You know he’ll never be fine.”
“Nothing I say is going to convince you,” Ginny gritted out as more rebellious tears rolled down her cheeks. “Just get Snape so you can see...”
“Snape?” Remus interrupted.
“Make him break the spell,” she demanded. “I’ll talk to you with Harry, when he’s…”
“Ginny,” Arthur cut her off, “Snape’s not the Secret Keeper.”
“What?” Ginny asked, turning around to face them again. “Then who is?”
“I am,” Arthur admitted gently.
“Y…” Biting back a whimper, Ginny stepped back, running into Harry’s bed. “How could you…”
“Someone had to do it…Snape’s dead, Ginny,” Charlie told her bluntly, drawing her gaze.
“Harry killed him.”
“No…” Ginny gasped, her hand flying automatically to Harry’s wrist.
“It’s true,” George nodded.
“Oh, God, Harry,” she breathed.
Turning, Ginny stared down at Harry’s face. Her throat clenched painfully, knowing what was going to happen when he woke up…when they told him.
“Tell us what happened, Ginny,” Dumbledore prompted after a few seconds. “You say he’s different and the fact that you’re alive would support that, but you need to explain how the change happened.”
“I…” Ginny hesitated as she ran her fingers through Harry’s hair. “I don’t know, it just did.”
“Ginny, you have to explain,” Arthur insisted. “We don’t know if it’s permanent. We don’t know if it’s even real…If you want us to consider doing anything, you need to tell us what…”
“I don’t know!” she cut him off sharply, frustrated by the questions. “I know that I found him and he was…” Her voice faltered as she remembered finding him bloody and desperate on the floor. “He was trying to…to…” Trailing off, she curled her hand over his wrist as her vision blurred.
“Trying to what?” Arthur prompted gently.
“Die for me,” she whispered, shuddering.
“What?” Remus asked sharply.
“But he kept healing,” she breathed, barely hearing the horrified responses around her as she remembered touching him, finding his arms wet and warm. “…there was so much blood…”
What if I hadn’t found him? What if I’d been too late?
“What happened after you found him?” Dumbledore pressed. “You were with him for hours. How did you stop him? How had he held on for so long?”
“I don’t know,” she insisted, rubbing the heel of her hand against her forehead. She wanted Harry to wake up. She wanted to see his eyes and hear him speak.
“Would it be easier for me to just watch?” Dumbledore asked, stepping forward. “I could…”
“No!” Ginny cried, shuddering at the thought. “These are my memories,” she gritted out. “You don’t get to play with them anymore.”
“I assure you,” Dumbledore replied seriously, “no one is playing. We just need answers.”
“Then ask Harry,” Ginny instructed, moving her hand to his chest. “I know there was a light when…” Ginny looked up, her eyes flicking across the faces of her brothers as she hesitated.
“When we…made love,” Ginny admitted, her voice dropping as her cheeks flushed.
“What?” Bill exclaimed incredulously.
“We made love,” she enunciated as everyone gaped at her in disbelief.
Only Dumbledore seemed to be truly considering what she’d told them, his brow furrowed in thought as he stared at her with an inscrutable expression.
“That’s not possible,” Arthur managed finally, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Why can’t you trust me just once,” Ginny challenged, her anger returning at his words. “I don’t have the answers to your questions and the person who does is chained to a bed like an animal!” she yelled before turning back toward Harry. “How can you do this to him?”
“What choice do we have?”
“You could have believed us,” Ginny bit out angrily. “You could have waited five minutes for us to get here and show you.”
“They’d already started the spell when we got your message,” Remus reminded her. “There was no way to stop it.”
“Well, then stop it now,” Ginny replied, glaring at him. “You saw him,” she charged. “You talked to him.”
“Yes, I did,” Remus nodded as everyone’s attention moved to him. “And that’s why we’re trying to talk to you now. He did seem…different. His power was just as strong, but his eyes were…”
“Glowing,” Ginny finished when he trailed off. “The darkness is gone because he’s better.”
Remus stared at her for several seconds, seeming to weigh her words and the risks, before finally nodding brusquely.
“I think we should talk to him,” he agreed, turning to Dumbledore.
“Remus,” Bill began.
“Even if it’s not what she thinks, he was different,” Remus insisted, ignoring Bill and the grumbles of his brothers. “He should be able to talk to us, if only just for a few minutes, Albus.”
Dumbledore remained silent, his eyes moving from Remus to Ginny and then to Harry. The room seemed to hold its breath as they waited for his opinion.
“Do it,” Dumbledore agreed finally, his words firm.
Bill spun away with a curse.
“I want Ginny out of the room,” Arthur declared.
“No,” Ginny snapped, her grip tightening on Harry. “I’m staying. Besides…if you’re right about him…being out of the room wouldn’t make a difference anyway.”
Before they could protest, Ginny climbed up on the small bed next to Harry. Shifting so that his head was cradled in her lap, she stroked his face tenderly. Her fingers came to rest against the bruised skin on his right cheek bone. It took her only a second to remember she’d punched him. When she did, her chest tightened as she recalled what had happened when they woke up on the floor. Murmuring a healing charm, she watched the magic wipe the bluish green smudge away.
Behind her, there was the sound of shuffling feet before the men surrounded the bed. Anger built inside of her when they pointed their wands at Harry, but she kept silent until Dumbledore finally countered the enchanted sleep charm.
Harry took a deep breath as the charm melted away before his eyes blinked open.
“Hi,” she said tremulously when his gaze focused on her.
“Uh…Hi?” he replied uncertainly.
“It’s going to be ok,” she told him, her heart aching at the confusion in his eyes. He still didn’t remember what they were to each other and her heart felt like it was breaking as she thought of all the years they’d lost.
“What’s happening?” Harry asked, looking around. His eyes widened when he saw the formation around the bed. Panic filled his expression as he then looked down at himself, pulling against the thick chains that kept him locked to the bed. “What’s going on?!”
“Ginny Weasley went to Hogwarts,” Arthur announced, taking a step closer and drawing Harry’s gaze. “We hid her from you because you were trying to kill her.”
“What?!” Harry exclaimed, confused as he looked back up at Ginny. “But I don’t even…”
“Shh,” Ginny soothed, her fingers resting lightly against his lips as her vision blurred with tears. “Give it a second.”
“Give what a…” Gasping suddenly, Harry’s body arched up.
Ginny tightened her grip on him, holding him as his eyes squeezed shut. Shifting restlessly, his eyes moved frantically under his lids. The minutes felt like hours as Ginny sat with him, soothing him as he groaned.
Finally, he quieted, taking another deep breath before his eyes fluttered open. Bright green and pained they locked with hers for a second.
“Hi,” she said again.
For a second, Ginny’s face swam in front of him before Harry’s eyes focused and his mind cleared. In an instant his memories surfaced and he took a steadying breath as his emotions rolled in turmoil.
“Ginny,” he choked out, trying to reach for her only to be held back by the chains.
“It’s ok, Harry,” Dumbledore began, but Harry ignored him, hissing in anger as he looked down at himself.
Jerking hard, he broke the manacles with his magic before surging up. The room erupted in protests as he twisted around and grabbed Ginny. His body froze when he touched her, one hand on her face and the other wrapped around her arm as a silent Impediment curse bound him in place.
“No!” Ginny cried as Charlie jerked her away and dragged her from the bed. “Let me go! Harry!”
Everyone was shouting orders and trying to get his attention but Harry focused on Ginny as she fought to get back to him. Fury and fear filled her face and his magic swelled protectively in response. Forcing his eyes to snap shut, he brushed Dumbledore’s binding magic away with a shudder.
As soon as he could move he launched off the bed, sending everyone’s wands flying from their hands with a flick of his fingers. Bill and the twins were on him a second later, physically forcing him backwards and away from Ginny.
“Get off!” Harry shouted, sending the men flying away from him.
“Harry!” Ginny cried, reaching for him around her brother.
With a wave of his arm, Harry froze the wizards in the room. Ginny manoeuvred out of Charlie’s grip before running to Harry and throwing her arms around his neck. Pulling her tight against him, his heart began to slow back down as he ducked his face into her hair.
“Are you ok?” he whispered, breathing her in.
“I am now,” she replied, her fingers in his hair. “You?”
“I will be in a minute,” he told her, his voice hardening as his head lifted, “but what’s happened?” he asked, his gaze flicking over the men in the room as contempt filled his stomach.
“I got them to wake you so they could talk to you,” she told him as his gaze locked on Bill, “but they won’t let us leave…”
“We’ll leave when we want to,” he assured her quietly. Cradling her cheek in his hand, he frowned as he brushed the recent tears from her skin. “We can leave now if you like.”
“No,” she whispered thickly, “we can’t. They’ll do the spell again as soon as we’re gone. We have to explain.”
“Ok,” he said before he looked up to address the room. “I’m not hurting her. I’m not going to hurt her or anyone else. All I’m going to do is release you so I can answer your questions.”
With a snap of his fingers, the men jerked into motion, most stumbling as their attempts to move suddenly worked. As a show of good faith, Harry then sent everyone’s wands flying back into their hands before turning toward Dumbledore
“What do you want to know?” he asked.
“How do you feel?” Dumbledore questioned, his eyes intense as they searched Harry’s.
“How do you think I feel?” Harry replied coldly.
“Apparently, not at all as we would have expected,” Dumbledore answered, his voice filled with astonishment. “She said you were better but this…Harry, this is…miraculous. How are you maintaining control?” he asked as his gaze dipping to where Harry held Ginny. “How are you managing to hold it back?”
“I’m not. I don’t have to hold anything back,” Harry answered. “Ginny saved me.”
“She saved you?” Bill demanded from their right. “How?”
“I told you how,” Ginny snapped.
“You said you had sex, Ginny,” Charlie corrected, his voice low, his eyes on Harry. “That doesn’t explain anything.”
Harry’s eyes widened in surprise before he looked down at her.
“They weren’t going to wake you up,” she told him. “I had to tell them.”
“How could you possibly have gotten so close to her?” Dumbledore asked, drawing Harry’s gaze. “You were clearly out of control when you ran from here last night.”
“It was…complicated,” Harry admitted.
“Complicated?” Arthur cut in, his cheeks flushed with frustration. “You can’t just come in here and say things are fixed because you slept together. You’ll have to do better than that.”
“What else do you want?”
“I want to know what happened!” Arthur exclaimed.
“You have to know how this looks, Harry,” Remus pressed, stepping forward. “Getting that close to her with the darkness out of control…that should be impossible.”
“I know,” Harry nodded, looking back down. “It would’ve been, but…” Harry paused for a second as he curled his fingers into the back of Ginny’s hair. “We shared power,” he admitted, bracing for the reaction.
“You what?” Bill exclaimed, dropping his wand arm and stepping forward. “You…”
“You let it inside of her?” Arthur interrupted furiously. “She’s had no training…”
“And she’s fragile!” Charlie snapped. “Her body can’t take that kind of…”
“Thanks to you,” Bill pointed out harshly as he glared at Harry.
“And what about you?” Harry countered, his face flushing with anger. “You keep fucking with her mind and her magic with an untested charm…putting it on and taking it off, like it’s nothing, when you have no idea…”
“There was no other choice,” Arthur ground out.
“There’s always a choice,” Ginny corrected angrily. “And I chose to make him share,” she insisted. “He didn’t want me to, but…”
“Oh, and he told you that, did he?” Charlie shot angrily. “Tried to keep you away…tried to fight you off? He could have kept you from performing the spell if he’d really…”
“You weren’t there!” Ginny exclaimed. “You don’t know what it was like!”
“I know it was stupid and reckless and…”
“Stop!” Harry shouted as a pulse of power shot across the room, startling the group into silence.
“Blimey, look at his eyes,” Fred breathed. “They’re glowing.”
Harry held his breath as everyone stared at him in shock. When Ginny squeezed his hand he looked down at her letting his gaze drift over her face. She looked tired, the circles dark and smudged beneath her eyes.
He knew being there was hurting her, knew she didn’t want to be near her family right now. Suddenly, he wanted to leave too, but he knew he needed to get the conversation over with so they could go.
“I wasn’t in any condition to stop her,” Harry gritted out. “I almost killed her. I wasn’t going to last and she was trying to help me by sharing, but it didn’t work. It just changed the dynamic and things…got out of hand before it wore off…”
“What do you mean?” Dumbledore asked.
Shaking his head, Harry rubbed the heel of his hand against his forehead.
“It’s all fuzzy, but I know that what was inside of me, liked that it was inside of her…a lot,” he grimaced, his face heating as he remembered the feelings of lust that had come so powerfully. “As the spell wore off, I tried to…I tried to stop…to leave, but I couldn’t control it. Just like we all knew I wouldn’t be able to…”
“Harry,” Ginny murmured.
“No,” he shook his head. “It’s the truth.”
His eyes were locked on the floor, but after a second, he lifted them to Dumbledore’s. Avoiding the gaze of every Weasley, he stared at the man who had the best chance of making sense of what happened.
“I was already inside of her by the time I lost it,” Harry explained, his voice rough as he replayed what he remembered. “I was falling apart and she made me…made me take her power,” he admitted, ignoring the gasps of outrage around him. “It worked enough for me to hold onto myself. I was inside of her and then she was inside of me too, and I made love to her and all I remember was that there was this light. It erupted between us when I…at the end. When I woke up I felt fine.”
“We’ll need time to determine when and if the darkness will resurface,” Dumbledore replied after a few seconds of silence. “We want to be sure Ginny is safe. You should stay here and we’ll…”
“No,” Harry interrupted, drawing Ginny closer as he felt her begin to tremble. “We’re not staying here.”
“You can’t afford to be rash about this, Harry,” Dumbledore replied.
“I’m not being rash,” Harry insisted. “I know what I feel, and it’s not inside me.”
“You’re just, asking a lot for us to trust you…to trust this change,” Arthur spoke up, frustration filling his tone. “We have no idea what will happen when you leave.”
“What do you need to see to convince you I’m not dangerous?” Harry asked, lifting his hand. “Magic?” he suggested as a large orange flame burst to life in his palm.
“Harry,” Dumbledore cautioned, his eyes flicking toward Ginny when she gasped.
“I can use my magic without having to control it now,” Harry said, turning the flames a bright purple before closing his fingers around the light. Then, raising his palms he sent a gust of wind rushing around the room, whipping everyone’s hair up as it passed them. It swirled into a cyclone while ominous black clouds rolled across the ceiling.
“Harry!” Remus yelled, beginning to approach as a roll of thunder shook the room.
“I’m fine,” Harry declared, stopping Remus in his tracks when the weather suddenly died.
“You’re reckless,” Bill announced, pushing his tangled hair away from his face. “A few parlour tricks doesn’t mean she’s safe.”
“It means I’m in control and nothing is trying to change that,” Harry explained, allowing his power to rush out of him. Shutting his eyes, he began searching for magic as energy filled the room. Around him, he could feel the wizards’ tension mounting as they recognized what he was doing, but he didn’t stop, pushing his senses past the walls of Hogwarts and out toward Hogsmeade.
Warm and soothing beside him, he could feel Ginny’s power drawing his as she rested her hand on his side.
“I can touch her and nothing changes,” Harry said, opening his eyes. Confusion was evident in Ginny’s expression when he turned to her, bringing his hand to her cheek. Understanding dawned after a second, though, and she curled her fingers around his elbow as he leaned down.
Her mouth was soft against his, and for an instant the room around them faded away. Slowly, Harry drew his magic back inside of him as his hand pressed against her lower back, drawing her close.
“She has no reason to fear me,” he murmured, running his hand down her hair before kissing her harder.
Warmth filled him as her hand cupped the back of his neck and her mouth parted against his with a sigh. The energy between them built, swirling around them as Harry’s magic focused more completely on the feel of hers.
Across the room, Dumbledore stood transfixed as he watched the green of Harry’s aura blend with the gold of Ginny’s. With each second the brightness of Harry’s grew with no trace of black anywhere inside of it as the two forces seemed to merge together.
Pulling back after a few more seconds, Harry watched as Ginny’s eyelids flicked open. He could see the gold glow of his eyes reflected in her pupils before he looked around.
“I’m still connected to her,” Harry admitted, taking Ginny’s hand. “But the pull I feel is good. We’re safe together. She’s safe with me.”
Dumbledore remained still, searching Harry’s eyes for a moment longer before he reached into his robes. Drawing out Harry’s wand, he held it out to him.
Letting go of Ginny’s hand, Harry crossed the room.
“Thank you,” Harry said, taking his wand. The dark wood was smooth and familiar as he closed his fingers around it. “I want the charm lifted,” he added, his voice firm as he tucked it into his back pocket. “Ended completely. Everyone remembers her.”
Dumbledore held Harry’s gaze before he agreed with a nod.
“I’ll come back to talk about anything you want,” Harry acquiesced. “I’ll do whatever other tests you want, but right now we’re leaving.”
“Ginny,” Arthur said, drawing Harry’s attention as he stepped in front of his daughter.
Harry could see the tension in her body and he hurried back across the room as Arthur moved closer.
“I know you’re hurt, but…you can’t just disappear, we need to talk about things.”
“I have nothing to say,” Ginny replied, her face stony as Harry reached her side.
“But you have to understand what hap…”
“No, I don’t!” Ginny exploded suddenly, prompting Harry to place his hand against her lower back to steady her. “I don’t have to do anything you say…or anything you want!”
“Ok,” Arthur amended, lifting his hands as his sons formed a watchful group behind him. “We’ll do what you want, ok? However you want to do this. We can come to you or you can come to us or…just tell me what you need right now. Tell me what to do to…”
“Just get out of my way,” Ginny growled as Harry pressed his free hand to her stomach.
“You asked me what I want and what I want,” she managed, her voice breaking, “is to never see you again.”
“You don’t mean that,” Arthur replied shakily, reaching out to take her hands.
“Don’t,” Ginny gasped, lurching back as she yanked her hands away. “Don’t touch me.”
“Ginny, I’m your father and I…”
“You’re not my father!” Ginny cried.
Harry’s heart clenched hard at the pain flowing from her as Arthur gasped and the room went still.
“What?” Arthur breathed, his face ashen.
“You’re not my family,” she choked out as Harry wrapped his arm around her waist, supporting her. “None of you,” she added, when her brothers started to respond. “Families don’t…do this…”
“Sweetheart, please,” Arthur murmured, reaching for her again.
“Don’t!” Ginny cried, recoiling. “You can’t make it better! What you did is…unforgivable. You stole my life. You lied to me for years. You pretended to love me and protect me when the whole time you were…you let me be another person. Half a person…” Turning to Harry, she shook her head as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I can’t…”
“Ok,” Harry nodded before he began to guide her to the door, “we’re going, and don’t bother looking for us.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bill demanded as they passed.
“It means…If we want to talk to anyone, we’ll find you.”
“NO way!” Bill challenged. "You're not just walking out and disappearing...."
“If you don’t like it, Bill,” Ginny cut him off harshly, “maybe we can just erase me from your memories so it won’t matter.”
Not looking back to see Bill’s reaction, Harry ushered her out the door and into the hall. A heavy silence enveloped them as they walked toward the staircase. Even their footsteps were muffled, their bare feet barely making a sound against the stone.
After a few seconds, Ginny’s hand found his, her fingers trembling as she gripped it hard. Stealing a glance at her profile, he watched as she brushed angrily at the tears on her cheeks.
“Are you ok?” Harry asked softly, bringing her hand to his lips.
“Harry, wait!” Remus called out before Ginny could respond.
Tensing, Harry slowed while Ginny’s grip on his hand tightened.
“We’re not changing our minds,” Harry warned over his shoulder.
“I know,” Remus said, slowing to a walk when he was level with them. “But…there are other things to discuss.”
“I don’t think so,” Harry contradicted with a shrug. “Nothing that can’t wait.”
“You’re wrong,” Remus disagreed. “There are things to deal with…the Malfoy case…Snape.”
At Snape’s name, Ginny stopped short with a gasp.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“I forgot about Snape,” Ginny said, her eyes flicking to Remus as her hand went to her mouth.
“What about him?” Harry asked, trying to decipher her expression. “Ginny?”
“He’s…” Moving closer, she ran her hand up and down his arm. “He’s dead, Harry,” she told him gently.
“What?” he whispered, staring at her face. “How?”
Shaking her head, Ginny looked at Remus, causing Harry to do the same.
“In the cave,” Remus explained, causing Harry’s heart to stop as a flush of cold rushed through him. “We’re not sure exactly how because…well, you’d stunned us all but…”
“But it was me,” Harry breathed, his voice trembling.
“His spine was crushed,” Remus admitted. “You don’t remember?”
“Not…not waking up,” Harry shook his head numbly. “I don’t…I haven’t tried.”
For a second his knees seemed as though they’d buckle and he wavered where he stood. Ginny’s arm slid quickly around his waist, supporting him as he pressed his hand against her shoulder.
“Let’s just go, ok?” she murmured.
“How many others?” Harry forced out even as he nodded in response to her suggestion.
“Three of Malfoy’s men,” Remus told him. “Four, including Draco.”
“I’ll come in,” Harry grimaced, his eyes shut. “But…later. Not now.”
“Harry, I know this is difficult, but…it would probably be best if…”
“He said later!” Ginny snapped, cutting Remus off. “Right now, we’re leaving. He’ll come in when he’s ready.”
Not waiting for Remus’ reply, she pulled Harry away and guided him down the hall. He came silently, his steps sluggish and his fingers digging into her shoulder. Neither spoke as they left the castle and Apparated back to the small cottage.
When they arrived, the air was damp and thick grey clouds blocked the sun. Ginny pressed her hand to her stomach, closing her eyes briefly as her body took a few extra seconds to settle. Her eyes flicked open again when Harry slid his hand under hers, lacing their fingers together.
Feeling the tremble in his grip, she led him quickly up the steps and through the front door.
Once inside, Ginny released him and crossed to the Muggle lamp. Switching it on, she watched the bulb flicker for a second before it settled, casting the room in a pale yellow light.
Harry remained where he was, his eyes locked on her when she turned back to face him. His expression was neutral, but she could see the devastation in his eyes as he struggled to hold himself together. The tension coming from him was palpable when she walked back to him. Reaching out, she spread her hands over his stomach, feeling the hard muscles contract under her touch.
“Harry,” she whispered, stepping closer.
He was trembling and she shut her eyes when he suddenly cupped her face in his hands.
“I didn’t mean to kill him,” he whispered shakily, pressing his forehead to hers. “I don’t even remember it,” he managed, his words catching in his throat as he lost the battle to control his emotions. “Waking up…in the cave and…”
With a choked sound, he began to cry. Curling over, loud sobs wrenched from his body as he wrapped her in his embrace and rested his head on her shoulder.
“Shhh….Harry,” she soothed, holding him tightly while she pressed kisses to his neck and shoulder. “It wasn’t your fault. It’s ok.”
“It’s not,” he forced out. “It will never be ok.”
“It’s over now,” Ginny reminded as she held him, rocking him slowly back and forth. For several minutes they stood together until his tears began to slow. “Come on,” she urged eventually, pulling away just enough to grasp his hands.
“Where are we…”
“Shhh…” she quieted him as she led him to the sofa.
When he was sitting she crawled into his lap, brushing her hands over his wet cheeks. His lips were salty when she kissed him and she slid her arms around his neck. Shifting down, she rested her cheek against his shirt.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I should be comforting you.”
“I’m ok,” she murmured, shutting her eyes when an image of her father’s face flashed through her mind.
Pressing closer to Harry, she focused on the sound of his heartbeat as she rubbed soothing circles on his chest. Slowly, she felt him relax, the slight hitch in his breathing fading away.
“I didn’t know you,” Harry murmured eventually. His face lowered to her hair and he took a deep breath. “I never want to feel that again. Ever.”
“I don’t either,” she agreed, her hands fisting in his shirt. “And I…” Her voice faltered as her grip tightened. “I never want to see them again.”
“Is that really what you want?” Harry asked, running his hands up and down her back before gently guiding her away to meet her gaze.
“Yes,” she answered fervently as thoughts of her family swam in her mind. “I can’t see them, or think about them or…or…I just want to be here with you.”
“Ok,” he agreed, hugging her close. “Then we won’t see them. Whatever you want, baby.”
“Just hold me,” she whispered.
All she wanted was to sink into Harry’s warmth and forget about everything else. He seemed to understand that, his body rocking slightly as he sat with her. As the minutes ticked by, she relaxed with him, her body growing heavy and her mind going, thankfully, blank.
When Ginny awoke she was in a bed snuggled deep under the covers. Harry was spooned behind her, his arm draped around her stomach and his breath deep and even against the back of her neck.
For a moment she remained still, unsure of how she’d gotten there. The last thing she remembered was snuggling on the sofa. Beside the bed a small clock ticked softly, the hands indicating that it was four o’clock.
Pulling the covers back, she realized she was still in her sundress, the material wrinkled between Harry’s fingers where he held her. Sliding her hand over Harry’s, she lifted his arm away before carefully turning over so she was facing him. He shifted with her, rolling onto his back with a sigh before settling back to sleep.
Across the room the window was open, the sky black and clear as a breeze rustled the curtains. She could just see the green flashes of the Northern Lights swirling below the frame on the horizon. She watched them for a moment, her thoughts drifting back to when Harry had first shown them to her.
“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,” Harry 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.
Ginny shut her eyes, taking a deep breath as a sense of relief filled her. They weren’t chasing each other anymore. They were safe and together and there wasn’t anything to hurt them or keep them apart.
Rising up on her elbow, Ginny stared down at Harry’s face. His jaw was dark with stubble, his eyelashes long and black where they rested against his cheeks. He was beautiful but he was also different…older than the Harry she’d loved before. His face was leaner, his shoulders broader and his muscles more defined. Her gaze lingered for a moment on his lightning-bolt scar before she leaned down and pressed her lips to it.
What she felt for him was so much and it seemed almost incomprehensible that she’d lived without those feelings for five years. They filled her up, her skin prickling with awareness even as she simply touched him.
There was a scar she didn’t recognize on his left shoulder, the skin light and slightly puckered when she trailed her finger across the mark. Blinking quickly, she held back a sudden rush of tears as she thought about everything she’d missed.
Leaning down, she brushed a kiss against his mouth. Trailing kisses across his jaw, she worked her way lightly down his neck until eventually, he groaned softly, shifting as he began to wake up. Moving back to his mouth, she teased his lower lip with hers until he finally began to kiss her back. When his fingers brushed her cheek, she pulled up to find him looking at her.
“Hi,” he said, his voice husky from sleep. His eyes were dark, the green colour dulled but still distinctive.
“Hi,” she whispered before kissing him again.
His mouth was warm under hers, opening to accept her tongue as his fingers slipped into her hair.
“It’s early,” he breathed between kisses.
“I missed you,” Ginny murmured.
Smiling against her lips, Harry cupped her face in his hands, kissing her again before shifting up. Keeping their mouths together, he rolled her over until she was on her back beneath him.
His pulse was strong beneath her palm, speeding up as he settled against her. His hand curled around her waist, his mouth slanting against hers as their tongues mated. For several minutes they stayed together, their bodies shifting as the desire between them grew.
“I want to make love with you,” she breathed eventually, her hand curling around the nape of his neck as he nodded.
She reached between them, searching for the top of his boxers for a few seconds before he stopped her. Twining his fingers through hers, he moved her hand to the mattress beside her head.
“Slowly,” he told her, wandlessly conjuring a dozen candles that flared to life as they floated around the room. “And thoroughly,” he told her softly, brushing his lips against hers, “and as perfect as we can make it. Like it should have been.”
Ginny’s heart clenched inside her chest before she sucked in an unsteady breath. She could see his heart in his eyes and her body ached in response to the intensity of what she saw. Everything she felt for him pulsed inside of her, seeming almost to draw him to her as he kissed her again.
He could have banished her dress in a second, but instead he began to pull it slowly up her body. Holding her gaze, his eyes darkened when she moved her arms up over her head. When the fabric passed her stomach, he dipped his head, pressing kisses below her bellybutton as she arched her back.
“Beautiful,” he murmured against her skin as his hands slid up her sides and under the fabric, easing the dress the rest of the way off before tossing it away.
Watching his face, it hurt to breathe for just a second as she recognized the reverent way he’d always looked at her before. His hands followed his gaze, leaving goosebumps in their wake, as they moved down her sides to settle against her hips. Her neck arched when he bent down, pressing open mouthed kisses to her throat.
“You taste so good,” he whispered, his breath hot on her skin as she shivered.
For several minutes, she lay on her back, her breath speeding up as her body came to life under his hands. He was thorough, his mouth sending shocks of heat through her as he made his way down her body.
The skill of his caress wasn’t lost on her, but any thoughts about what he’d experienced during his five years without her were forgotten in the haze of how good it felt. Eventually, her fingers slipped into her hair, tangling restlessly before fisting into the sheets as he sent her spiraling over the edge.
Forcing her eyes open as he pressed a kiss against her thigh, her heart clenched at how dark his eyes were. The green was almost gone, but unlike so many times before, there was nothing in his expression beyond desire for her.
“Here,” she gasped reaching for him. “Come here.”
He moved instantly, resting his hand beside her head as he looked down at her.
“Inside me,” she pleaded, her ankle lifting to link around his calf. “Now.”
Groaning softly at her words, Harry nodded and shucked off his boxers before he pressed his hand flat against her stomach.
Looking down, Ginny watched the blue glow of the contraceptive spell as warmth rushed through her belly. Vaguely, it occurred to her that she hadn’t even considered protection, but the thought was fleeting as he murmured her name.
Ginny’s toes curled, her hands clutching his arms as he brought their bodies together. Any pain was barely noticeable as she pressed her mouth to his shoulder. Focusing on the shudder of pleasure that moved through him, she moaned softly against his skin.
“Ginny,” he breathed unsteadily.
“What?” she asked, her tone matching his.
“You’re just so…”
He never finished as he kissed her, beginning to set a slow, steady pace. Ginny could feel the coils of pleasure curling slowly inside of her as they moved together, their bodies slick and flushed. She couldn’t look away as his breath grew heavy, the muscles in his arms clenching as he leveraged himself above her.
Even as her own body began to hum, tensing as the pleasure inside of her threatened to crest, he kept his movements slow and measured. His absolute control reminded her of everything they’d been through and she reached up as unwanted tears suddenly began to flood her eyes.
“Open your eyes,” she instructed, cupping his cheek in her palm.
His gaze was intense when he obeyed, gold flickering deep within his eyes as they met hers.
“Let go with me,” she said watching as the flight flared brighter at her words. “Let go,” she repeated, bringing his forehead down to hers. “I want you to let go…”
“God, Ginny,” he groaned, his mouth brushing hers.
When he kissed her, it was hungry, his tongue moving deep into her mouth as he pulled her leg up. The change sent a shock of pleasure through her and she gasped as his hand slid up over the curves of her body.
Listening to the groan that came from deep in his chest, she warpped her arms around him, letting him sweep her back into the moment.
Cocooned in the safety of his arms, everything that had happened…everything that had hurt them went away as they focused on only each other. For the minutes that followed, there was nothing but heat and pleasure as they lost themselves together. When she came apart, he was there to catch her, his body solid and real and his eyes full of gold fire, just for her.
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