Never in her life had Ginny imagined she was capable of such anger. She was trembling as she entered James’s room. Harry’s resigned attitude from a moment earlier only served to infuriate her further. What had he hoped to achieve by it? Pity? Forgiveness? Well he wasn’t going to get either, not after what he’d done.
James’s cries had increased in volume since he’d been awakened. The first time in a fortnight that she hadn’t had to worry about struggling to get the boy to sleep, and Harry had to show up and ruin things. Yes, it had been her shout that woke him up, but if Harry hadn’t been so keen to confess all of his sins she wouldn’t have shouted and then James would still be sleeping. The very thought made her want to call Harry back and tell him that he had to deal with this mess, but she didn’t think she could stand to be in his presence without murdering him.
“It’s OK,” she said, patting James’s back as she hugged him and started pacing, rocking him slightly.
Things weren’t OK, though. In all the months that had passed since Harry’s mysterious disappearance she had considered that if or when he came back he might not be in great shape. If he had been captured by Lestrange, for example, he probably would have sustained severe injury. She’d been prepared for some sort of physical or mental incapacitation, but this . . . To know what he had done of his own free will, that he had not only followed her around without giving her the slightest indication that it was him, but that he had made her forget she had seen him. It was awkward to consider that he’d been at Dimentichi’s and watched her date with Rossi, but what had happened in the loo was worse. To think that he’d not only been there but that they’d shared a kiss and she couldn’t really remember it . . . That he would dare to modify her memory at all, but especially because he’d been with her in those weeks and months after what happened with his cousin.
Feeling nauseous, and desirous of the blissful oblivion of a dreamless sleep potion and her own bed, Ginny continued to walk around James’s room as she tried to get him back to sleep, something he seemed intent on avoiding at all costs. He wasn’t wet or hungry, sick or injured, but seemed to have decided to behave as ridiculously as his father had done.
“Give it a rest already,” she said exasperatedly after pacing the entire flat half a dozen times. “I can see you’re tired, Jay, just go back to sleep. There’s a good lad.”
His answer was the same as it had been for the last half an hour: to cry more shrilly. Ginny sighed and continued pacing. He couldn’t stay up forever.
After another hour, however, Ginny was sure that James was trying to prove her wrong. She was dragging her feet as she circled the sitting room for what felt like the millionth time. Sitting down was out of the question, because James would let out an ear-piercing scream until she started moving again. If he kept it up much longer she was going to drop. The best that could be said was that she was now too exhausted to be furious.
After another five minutes, Ginny had to give in and stop walking to rest her throbbing feet. She perched on the arm of the sofa, and hugged James to her, silently praying that he would run out of air and drop off to sleep some time soon.
“Stop it already,” she said exhaustedly, falling back onto the sofa, unable to face more walking at the moment. The level of his crying increased dramatically for about thirty seconds, before falling to it’s lowest level in over an hour. This was a hopeful sign, and she wasn’t averse to staying here all night if necessary.
After some time James did begin to doze. Breathing a sigh of relief, Ginny turned her head and something on the coffee table caught her eye. She momentarily assumed it was the bottle of Firewhisky she kept in the cupboard above her fridge, before recalling that it contained polyjuice potion. It was the bottle Harry had pulled out of the jacket that was still lying on the sofa above her head. Anger started to bubble in the pit of her stomach again as she remembered Harry pouring a small amount into his hand, and the fantastic story to explain why he had it, a story too incredible to believe.
It would be so much easier to think that Harry was lying, a clear cut reason to hate him, but the longer she thought about it, the less Ginny could convince herself that he wasn’t telling the truth. When she had started searching for Harry what had Tougas done? Threatened to have her arrested. They might have wanted to keep her out of danger while she was pregnant, but they had told her that she was interfering. It was always curious to her that they wouldn’t accept the help, given that they were short-staffed enough to call Tonks back from maternity leave. They had also not only lied to her, but to members of their own department, including Tonks if Harry was telling the truth. And Kingsley, who Ginny had never thought the type to play games, had manufactured, or at least sanctioned a plan that had ripped their family apart, and made Harry resort to doing stupid things.
Ginny was standing with no recollection of even sitting up, and she was shaking with rage again, her fury threatening to burst forth in a throat tearing scream. She thought of the meeting she’d had with Tougas earlier, and how he had so casually dismissed her concerns about the reporter. He had known it was Harry, that’s why he hadn’t been concerned. He had in fact known all along that Harry was out there and had been able to look her in the eye every day and lie about it, even when he knew how much not knowing was tearing her up.
Minutes later, driven by her renewed rage, Ginny was closing the door to her flat. She’d hastily pulled a coat over James’s pajamas and retrieved her own from the closet before stepping out. She didn’t care that it was late, and that she’d probably do better to stay home and catch up on her sleep, she just had to confront Tougas. What she was hoping to gain by it, she didn’t know, but she just knew she couldn’t let him lie to her another minute.
“Dada,” James said as they rounded the corner to descend the last flight of stairs. Ginny was busy pulling his collar up to protect against any wind outside, but stopped in the act when she saw that James was again right. Harry had been sitting on the topmost step, and was getting to his feet. He’d cleaned the blood off his face, but he hadn’t healed his nose. It was almost as crooked as Dumbledore’s had been, and there were dark bruises under his eyes.
“Where are you going?” he asked
“To give Tougas a piece of my mind,” she said angrily, trying to push past Harry, but he wouldn’t move.
“Now? It’s the middle of the night.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” she said sarcastically. “Now will you get out of my way.”
“It’s too dangerous,” he replied.
“I seriously doubt that Death Eaters are lurking in the corners of the courtyard, Harry.” Her voice was starting to rise again as she adjusted James on her hip so his fussing didn’t make her drop him.
“The protections only extend so far, Gin. Once you’re outside of them we don’t know who could be waiting, and I can’t lose . . . I know you wouldn’t want anything to happen to James. I’m not telling you not to go,” he hastened to add, “just wait until morning. I’ll take you myself if . . . if you want.”
For a full minute they stood facing each other as though they were preparing for a duel. Ginny’s hand did twitch towards her wand, egged on by the anger that hadn’t yet cooled. In the end, though, she didn’t reach for her wand at all. She didn’t like to admit that Harry was right, but he’d said something that trumped her anger. She didn’t really know what might be out there, and she couldn’t live with herself if she let something happen to James.
“I can find my own way, thanks,” she said coldly, and started to head up the stairs again.
James had other plans. He’d been relatively quiet for the past five minutes and only started fussing when they’d come round the corner to see Harry. Now, as she neared the door to her flat, he let out a cry and held out his arm as though he was reaching for Harry.
She would have been all right if she hadn’t decided to look over her shoulder. James was looking down at Harry, who had come round the corner was was standing there with his hands in his pockets, watching them with the same resigned expression that had so infuriated her earlier.
“Come on,” she said to Harry, silently cursing her own decision. He hesitated for just a moment, looking up at her as though he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but when she nodded to reassure him that she was serious he took the stairs two at a time, and was at her side before she’d even opened the door. When she allowed him to take James he smiled widely, an expression mirrored on his son’s face.
“It’s well past the time he usually goes down,” she said when they were just inside the door and she was busy taking James’s coat off. “So don’t keep him up too much longer, OK.”
“You’re lucky your mum loves you so much,” Harry said, lifting James over his head as he walked down the hall with him. Over James’s excited squeal, he added, “otherwise I wouldn’t be here, and you’d already be in bed, my boy.”
James looked at Ginny with wide-eyes, as though asking for confirmation.
“It’s true,” she replied, following Harry to James’s room, where she leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms. She planned to stay there until he finally fell asleep so she could make Harry leave again, she was still mad at him after all. The longer she watched him with James, however, the more she was reminded of the Harry that she had known before his disappearance. He looked as happy now as he had done in the first weeks they’d spent here together. It felt, for those few moments, as though no time had passed at all. They might have just brought James home from the hospital.
Her reverie was broken when James was finally asleep, and Harry had looked his fill of his sleeping son. He came to stand in the doorway with Ginny, and his misshapen nose triggered her return to the less pleasant reality.
“Thanks for letting me do that,” he said, squeezing her hand.
“He doesn’t deserve to suffer just because we have problems,” she said, heading for the sitting room. Harry followed her as she hoped he would.
“Sit,” she ordered, pointing at the sofa as she took her wand from her pocket. Harry eyed it warily, almost making Ginny smile. “Relax, I’m just going to heal your nose.”
He continued to watch her carefully as she took his chin in her hand. She took careful aim (it had been a while since she’d used this spell) and said, “Episkey.”
“Thanks.” Harry gently touched his nose to make sure it was back to normal.
“I don’t know why you didn’t do it yourself in the first place,” Ginny replied, stowing her wand in her pocket.
“I had other things on my mind.” He was still watching her closely. Before he spoke again he took her hands in his. “It was never about work, ever. I only agreed in the first place because I thought we’d get Lestrange and then I would know you and James were safe. It wasn’t supposed to go on this long, and I never intended for you to go through any of this.”
“Wouldn’t she have realized that’s what you were doing once she found out you were alive and come straight for us?” Ginny asked.
“Yeah,” Harry said, nodding. “If I had a time turner I’d go back and change it, but I can’t. I can only say that I promise I’ll make it up to you. If you’ll let me.”
“You’ve made that promise before, Harry, and now look where we are.” Ginny pulled her hands free and walked further into the sitting room. “The costs keep getting higher every time something makes you break it, and I don’t think either of us can afford it anymore.”
The implications of her own words shook Ginny to her very core and she had to sit down.
“I meant it when I said I wanted us to be a proper family.” Harry sat down beside her, “I still want that. I’ve already told you I made a huge mistake by staying away, one I don’t plan on repeating.”
“Until the next case that might put us in danger,” Ginny said. “I want to believe you Harry, I do, but . . . “
“I love you, both of you.” Harry pointed at James‘s bedroom.
“Don’t.” Ginny held up her own hand. It was too soon for him to say those words. A painful lump rose in her throat and she wasn’t quite able to swallow it. “I’m not sure that’s enough.”
A heavy silence fell. It seemed as though they had said all they could say. Ginny drew her legs onto the couch, wrapped her arms around them and rested her head on her knees. She shut her eyes tightly to avoid letting any tears spill out. Harry continued to sit beside her, and she could feel his stare, but he didn’t say anything. The silence was broken only by the ticking of a clock. She concentrated on that and soon lost a battle to her exhaustion.
When she opened her eyes again, expecting that only a few minutes had passed, Ginny was shocked to find light streaming in through the sitting room window. She’d been asleep for a few hours at least. Sitting up she discovered that someone had covered her up with a blanket. Not someone, she corrected once she had her thoughts in order, Harry, and sounded like he hadn’t left. She could just make out his voice coming from down the hall. He must be talking to James, she thought. Odd, that his cry hadn’t woke her up. She threw the blanket off and stood up, intending to see if Harry needed any help.
It turned out that James was still asleep in his crib. The voices she’d heard were those of Harry and Hugh, who were standing just inside the door, wearing identical frowns. What had they been talking about? Why was Hugh here at this ungodly hour?
The answer to the second question was short in coming. It had been driven from her mind with everything that had happened with Harry, but she and James were meant to go camping with him.
“I completely forgot,” she said apologetically when Hugh noticed her standing there.
“So I reckoned,” he said, glancing at Harry. “Are you still coming?”
Ginny also looked at Harry. Even though everything was still up in the air with them, she didn’t think that it was the right time to go off with someone else. How to put it tactfully, though?
“I thought as much,” Hugh replied, apparently not requiring her answer. “From the second I saw you staring at him last night, I knew you would do something stupid like this.”
“Watch it,” Harry growled, reaching for his wand.
“Harry,” Ginny said warningly. He stopped reaching for his wand, but continued to glare at Hugh. She had to nudge him to get him to look at her. “Give us a minute.”
“I think I’d rather stay,” he said, but backed down when she gave him another warning look. “Fine. I’ll be in the sitting room.”
Ginny watched Harry walk into the sitting room, and go to stand by the window before she turned her attention to Hugh.
“I’m terribly, terribly sorry,” she said. “I was looking forward to going, but given the circumstances . . :”
“I should have seen it coming, really. Even when you didn’t know what happened, you were still obsessed with him. Of course you’d choose him.”
“It’s not that simple. We’ve been together a long time and -”
“I know all about your history,” Hugh said, holding up his hand.
“I doubt it.”
“As much as my best friend knows, anyway. Didn’t I tell you that she was a witch?”
Her jaw dropped. She had suspected that Hugh knew more about the magical world than he had ever let on, but she hadn’t expected this. It was no wonder he hadn’t seemed all that surprised by James’s demonstrations of accidental magic.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“It was more fun listening to the absurd stories you came up with. Telling me you’re a photographer but not knowing how to work a Polaroid.” The smile slid from his face. “Honestly, I just thought that you would tell me when you were ready to.”
“Gin?” Harry called from the living room.
“Hang on.” She could see that now he was talking, that there was more that Hugh wanted to say.
“I had guessed that you were a witch, but I didn’t know anything about you until I happened to mention your name to my friend. She knew who you were! At first I thought that it was just such a small community where everyone knew everyone- ”
“Ginny,” Harry called again, louder this time.
“Just a minute, Harry. Go on,” she said to Hugh.
“You were a famous sports star, engaged to the man who’d defeated the most powerful dark wizard ever. How could I compete? I’d decided not to, and that was the day you kissed me.”
“Ginevra.” Harry hurried up to her.
“What?” she demanded, spinning round. Something very serious must have happened for him to use her full name.
It took several seconds for Ginny to grasp the meaning of these words. A thousand questions exploded in her mind, but she knew that there wasn’t time for that and she tore down the hall to get James. He was still sleeping when she picked him up. Praying that he stayed asleep, she raced out of his room again, running directly into Hugh, who was wearing a very confused expression.
“What is going on?”
“Trouble,” Ginny replied tersely, scanning the flat. “Where’d Harry go?”
“I’m here,” Harry said from the landing just outside the flat. He was holding his invisibility cloak and when Ginny got close enough he handed it to her. He took her hand and started down the stairs, talking as they went. “The enchantments were set up to alert us if something breeched them. The task force will be here soon, if they’re not out there already. I’m going to go down and find out, but I want you to be prepared to run. Stay under the cloak and out of sight.”
Ginny nodded, though she didn’t care much for his plan. She jerked her head in Hugh’s direction. He had followed them down the stairs, looking thoroughly confused. “And what about him?”
For the space of several heartbeats Harry looked at Hugh with a vindictive expression, but that was replaced by a resigned look..
“We’ll have to take him with us,” he said. “Get the cloak on.”
He waited for her to pull the cloak over herself and James. Hugh gasped when they disappeared.
“Keep your mouth shut,” Harry barked impatiently. Then turning back to where Ginny and James were still standing. “Try and stay close.”
He rushed down the stairs. Ginny followed much slower owing to the cloak and the fact that she was carrying James. By the time they reached the ground floor and pushed the door open Harry had disappeared.
The sun hadn’t properly risen yet; it had gilt the tops of the tall cedars that formed the inner border of the courtyard. In the street beyond, she could see a rainbow of sparks that looked like they could have been produced by Fred and George’s Wizard Whiz-bangs, but she knew were wand sparks. A full-fledged duel was taking place in the street.
Out of nowhere came the horrible sense that she had been here before. With that familiarity, a dread feeling that this was not going to end well for Harry. She had to find him.
“Here.” She stepped back into the building and whipped the cloak off. After a moment’s hesitation, she handed James and the cloak to Hugh. “Put this on and stay close to me.”
Without a second thought, she tightened the grip on her wand, pulled the door open and stepped onto the stoop. The wind whipped her hair into her face. She pushed it away impatiently, looking around. In the seconds she’d lost since ducking back into the building the duel had become more severe, and closer to the walls of the courtyard. They would would be breached at any minute.
Someone grabbed her hand and yanked her behind one of the tall cedars.
“What the hell are you doing?” Harry hissed. “I told you -”
“Thank God,” she said. Such was her relief that he was unharmed, that Ginny forgot for just a moment that Death Eaters were upon them, and that she was supposed to be mad at him. She hugged him tightly.
“Where’s James?” he demanded.
“Hugh’s got him. He’s just behind -”
Before she could finish what she was staying there was a massive explosion and the courtyard wall crumbled. People began pouring in, continuing duels that had started in the street. She could just make out Tougas and Tonks among the duelers and the spells now flying in every direction.
“We have to get out of here,” Harry said, grabbing her hand and pushing her backwards. “Go.”
They had barely taken three steps when another gust of wind blew through the courtyard, whipping at the invisibility cloak, exposing Hugh and James for a moment before he was able to pull it closed.
“Hey, it’s the kid,” someone bellowed, his voice carrying over the noise of the crowd. He turned his wand and sent a jet of blue light flying directly at Hugh and James.
“NO,” Ginny cried, launching herself at the pair of them. She felt another spell fly over her heard and realized only when she saw Hugh and James forced back into the door that Harry had cast a Shield Charm. The Death Eater’s spell rebounded.
“Get out of here,” Harry commanded, standing in front of them so he could block any additional spells. “The enchantments are all down so you can Disapparate. Go to the Burrow. I’ll meet you there.”
Ginny nodded, removed the Shield Charm and grabbed Hugh’s arm. It had been too close a call with James to delay any more. Before she could let go of Harry’s hand so she didn’t drag him with her when she Disapparated, however, there was a blinding flash of of light and she was dragged down as he fell.