WOGW1: Chapter Four: What Gabriel Started

Ginny opened her eyes and looked at the clock.  It took a moment for her to register the time: nine a.m.  Almost immediately her mind began to reconcile the time with other occurrences from the past week.  One hundred and sixty-six hours ago she had been on her way to Grimmauld Place to tell Harry she was pregnant.  One hundred and sixty-five hours ago they were back at the Burrow, in the middle of the most awkward conversation she could recall.  It had been one hundred and fifty-seven hours since she had told her family about the baby.  It wasn’t like she would have been able to hide her pregnancy from the rest of the family much longer anyway, but Ginny had hoped that telling them would have forestalled, or completely prevented, the onslaught of anger.  Over five hundred thousand seconds ago she’d learned just how wrong she had been.  But who was counting?

Ginny thought her mother was the most understanding of her need to shut herself away from the rest of the family.  It wasn’t a fair assessment though, given how she had isolated herself from the rest of them.  She didn’t like to admit it, but the truth of why she had hidden away was that she was scared to face the family, her brothers in particular.  Often over the last four days, when Ginny had not ventured from her room except to use the loo she heard more than one heated argument taking place on the floors below.  It was these discussions that had forced her back to her safe place when she might otherwise have been able to descend to the lower floors.

The first three days after her revelation Ginny had tried to go about business as usual.  She would have managed rather well, she thought, as her parents made no comments other than inquiring after her wellbeing.  Whatever their thoughts and opinions of Harry and his actions, they never let them show in Ginny’s presence, something she was immensely grateful for.

Her brothers were another story entirely.

Dropping by the Burrow several times over those first days, they made the same innocuous inquiries as to Ginny’s health that Molly and Arthur had.  If they had left it at that all would have been well; however this expression of concern invariably led to further discussion of her condition, which naturally enough gave way to talk of Harry.  Their insistence that Ginny see reason was without bounds.  On the third day after she’d made her announcement, Bill dropped by and was in the middle of an exasperated speech in which he enumerated all the reasons why Ginny should hate Harry.  She, having slept poorly the evening before, wracked with guilt over the very essence of these constant arguments, got so angry that she pulled her wand on Bill.  Things might have escalated had it not been for Molly’s timely intervention.  Thereafter, Ginny felt her brothers would be much safer if she absented herself from their presence for the foreseeable future.

During the days she had sequestered herself; Ginny had a lot of time to think and had come to several realizations: She loathed the fact that Harry and his stupid decision had caused a fissure in her family.  She hated herself for not being able to feel the anger towards Harry that he so rightly deserved after his most recent behaviour.  She was also upset at her brothers for their incessant need to proselytize; their inability to leave well enough alone had turned the Burrow into a battleground, with their parents working unsuccessfully to restore peace.  Worst of all though, had been Ron’s reaction.  The few times Ginny had seen him in the days immediately following her announcement he’d remained stoically silent.

Ginny couldn’t say why it was, but Ron’s reaction was initially the most shocking to her.   The smallest thing set Ron off sometimes so naturally something as big as a break up wouldn’t pass without effect, but she’d been much too caught up in her own dealings to have spared this much thought.  Hermione, though, had enlightened Ginny as to the exact effects the morning after Ron had stormed out of the Burrow.

Hermione told Ginny that Ron had left that night in search of Harry, and his search had not been in vain.  It was to Grimmauld Place that Harry had returned, and that was where Hermione found both men. How their conversation started Ginny didn’t know as Hermione had arrived some minutes after Ron had and found them already at it.  What she did tell Ginny though was that Ron was as angry as she had ever seen.  Harry, on the other hand, was completely silent.  He didn’t argue with Ron at all.

“I think that infuriated Ron even more,” Hermione said.  “I’m sure he wanted Harry to try and justify his actions, because he really can’t, you know . . . And I could see that he desperately wanted to hit Harry, but he restrained himself.  That is until –“

Hermione had stopped talking here and fixed Ginny with such a look of pity and sympathy that it became instantly clear what had happened.  Harry must have told Ron about what Dudley had done.  Ginny remembered feeling a little lightheaded and queasy at this latest revelation.  She waved Hermione onward though, not wanting to focus on something she was trying hard to forget.

“That was pretty much the only time Harry said anything; the only time he actually looked upset.  I think this was the trigger Ron was looking for though.  He said something like: ‘And you let that happen to my sister?’  Harry didn’t deny it, Ginny.  That’s when Ron got so mad he actually punched him.  I tried to stop it, but . . . you know what those two get like.  And afterwards, Harry wouldn’t even let me heal him.”

Thoughts of that altercation had troubled Ginny ever since Hermione had relayed it.  At once she had felt a mixture of appreciation and guilt over what Ron had done.  That he felt it his brotherly duty to protect her honor was something Ginny understood, even if she didn’t agree with him.  She could even appreciate the sentiment behind what he had done.  What she had more trouble with was that Ron had behaved thus to his best friend.  It was quite bad enough that her family was currently divided.  That would clear up, she was sure.  What was less certain was the stability of Ron and Harry’s friendship.  Ginny dearly hoped that they would be able to repair any damage done to it.  The last thing she wanted was for them to lose their friendship over something like this.

A sudden, sharp knock on the door called Ginny back to her present.  She snatched her wand from the bedside table before calling out permission to enter.  She was quite certain that it was her mother – very few people came up here anymore.  A moment later the door swung open and her mother entered.  Unlike previous days, Molly was wearing a no-nonsense expression.

“Good.  I’m glad to see that you’re awake.”  She moved to open the curtains.  “I think that it’s time you stopped hiding up here.  Breakfast will be ready in thirty minutes and I want you downstairs for it.  I also think it’s high time you started answering your post.  Jordana Flooed again this morning.  She seemed rather upset that you haven’t returned any of her letters.”

Ginny felt yet another pang of guilt at her mother’s stern words.  It was quite true that she hadn’t really talked to Jordana, or any of the Harpies since that last disastrous Quidditch match.  Like everything else that had transpired since that night, she had wanted to put it off as long as possible.  Her teammates were certainly furious with her for losing the match and blowing their chance at the Quidditch finals.  Ikey, the mediwitch, had surely told Jordana – and probably Gwenog as well – that she was pregnant.  Combining her abysmal performance with the fact she would not be able to play at all next season made it seem logical to Ginny that they were probably looking for a way to be shot of her.  Jordana’s letters, therefore, were proof that they had finally found a way to get out of Ginny’s contract.  Depressing as that thought was, she supposed that she should get it over with as soon as possible.  Prolonging things would not change the end result.

“I’ll go see her today,” she said.  Molly seemed pleased with this answer and left the room, reminding Ginny again that she expected her downstairs in half an hour.

Ginny was not pleased to see Percy seated at the breakfast table as she entered the kitchen thirty minutes later.  He had become a frequent guest for breakfast in recent years – perhaps because he was trying to make up for all the years he spent as Cornelius Fudge’s lapdog.  Today she was less pleased to see him than usual.  Like Ron, Percy had remained on the quiet side since the big blow up the previous week, but Ginny could not forget that it had been he who stuck to that ridiculous line that Harry was dangerous.  In the forefront of her mind, too, was his reaction when she had confessed everything to her family; he had seemed well pleased.

Ginny mumbled a hasty good morning to Percy before she sat down and began piling food on her plate.  She had just realized she was ravenously hungry.

“Good morning, Ginny,” her father said folding up his copy of the Daily Prophet and beginning to eat his food as well.  “How are you doing this morning?”

“Fine,” Ginny said tersely, avoiding looking at Percy.

“Did you sleep well?”

“Remarkably so, thank you.”

“I’m glad to hear it, sweetie.” Arthur smiled and began to eat his own breakfast.  Ginny said nothing and was glad that Percy remained quiet for a change.  The very last thing she wanted as a start to her day was another row over her predicament.  Instead she pointed her wand at the wireless, which had been playing the introductory notes of Topic: Talk, a daily show that discussed current news stories.  Normally Ginny eschewed any programmes of that variety, given their propensity to stray into wild conjecture.  If she pretended interest in the wireless though, she would have to spend less time talking to Percy.

Good morning, listeners and welcome to another edition of Topic: Talk.  I am your host, Gabriel bringing you another show filled with wonderful discussion.  We have with us today, Declan Fohn, head of the controversial PPA, a group whose main focus is the promotion of proper appreciation of pureblood status.  As many of you may have guessed this view is being met with much resistance given the many people who can see similarities to the ideas of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers.”

“When you’re out today, Ginny,” Molly interrupted.  She pointed her wand at the wireless to lower the volume before sitting down at last to eat her own food.  “Don’t forget to take extra Floo powder.  I find there’s never any to be had when you’re in desperate need of it.  I remember once, when I was pregnant with you, I was held up in Diagon Alley for three hours while more was procured.”

“I don’t need any.  I’ll just Apparate,” Ginny said, unclear as to why her mother thought it necessary to use the Floo Network when she knew her daughter’s preferred method of travel was Apparition.

“Merlin, no, you can’t do that,” Molly replied, sounding astounded.  “Apparition beyond the first trimester is out of the question.  In fact, some healers say it is dubious in the first as well.”

“It worked for me the other day,” Ginny said, uncertainly.  It could be that her mother was just having her on, but she didn’t think so.  From the way she was speaking, it sounded as though this was common knowledge, not just that of a woman who had born seven children.  If that were the case then how could she possibly not have heard it before?  It was true that Apparition wasn’t used by everyone, but in a family the size of hers, in which babies were being born every other minute . . . And then if she didn’t know about Apparition, how many other things didn’t she know?

“It works, certainly,” Molly continued, fixing Ginny with her own doubtful stare.  “But it is very unhealthy for your child.  At this delicate stage of development even a few seconds without oxygen could be harmful.”

“Oh.”  Ginny looked down at her plate, suddenly not hungry anymore.

“What’s the matter, Ginny?’ Molly asked, looking from her to the half-eaten plate of food.  “Is there something wrong with the food?  Are you feeling nauseous?  Because if you are you simply must take some –“

“I think she’s feeling overwhelmed, mum,” Percy interrupted.  It sounded as though he was just making an observation and when she looked at him, Ginny didn’t see anything in his expression to indicate otherwise but she was still doubtful.  She had long ago become leery of anything Percy said.  It was never clear what was going to come out of his mouth.

“Is it?” Molly asked.  She turned to face Ginny, taking one of her hands, nodding in understanding.  “It can be overwhelming, especially with your first child.”

“Too right, especially when you’re doing it alone.”

And there it was: The variant of a statement that had started every argument at the Burrow for the last week.  It had taken all of fifteen minutes for Percy to dredge it up once again.

“She won’t be alone,” Molly said, clearly intending to stave off another argument.  She fixed Percy with one of those expressions that clearly meant she wanted him to shut up.  “I’m sure that Harry will come to his senses sooner or later.  But if he doesn’t we’re still here for you, Ginny.  You have a family of experts at your disposal.  You’ll never be alone, even if you should wish it.”

“No, you won’t,” Arthur patted Ginny’s other hand, a comforting smile on his face.  Beneath that smile was a weariness that she wasn’t used to seeing in her father.  She frowned as she squeezed his hand in return.

“Of course we’ll be there for you, Ginny.  Whatever you need,” her mother started speaking again.  “You won’t even have to go alone to any of your healer appointments.  We can all work them around our schedules if you’d like.  In fact we should talk about that right now.  You ought to have another one coming up soon, shouldn’t you?”

“Er . . . “ Ikey had told Ginny to make an appointment straight away, but with everything else that had been going on with Harry, along with her own self-denial, it had been pushed to the back of her mind.

“You have seen a healer, haven’t you?” Molly asked, sounding stern.

“No.  I’ve been meaning to, but –“

“You can’t let this go, Ginny.  You do want to have a healthy child, don’t you?”

“Of course, but –“ Ginny stopped herself.  She didn’t know what she was going to say.  She certainly didn’t want to mention Harry in front of Percy, and anything else that she could say would sound like the excuse it was.  And, now she had been made aware of it, she had reason to worry about it not seeing a healer.  What possible damage had she caused by her Apparition last week?  And all the times before that?  Feeling like a disobedient eight-year old caught playing with her father’s wand, Ginny stared at the table as she said, “I’ll do it soon.”

“Very soon, Ginny,” Molly replied in a reprimanding voice.

She knew that her mother was right, and vowed to take the time that very day to make the appointment.  St. Mungo’s would be second on her list after visiting Jordana.  Yes, it was better to do it after the meeting, that way she would at least know if she was still employed or not.

“Given everything you’ve been through, it is a very good idea you get checked out as soon as possible.  The sooner any abnormalities are found the better off you’ll be,” Percy stated.  But for the last part of his statement these were almost caring words.  It was his reference to potential problems, voicing her own concern, that goaded Ginny into speech.

“Percy, shut up already.”

It was as though she had cast a silencing charm on him.  For a full ten seconds Percy said absolutely nothing, though his mouth continued to move.  Feeling her anger starting to rise, Ginny took this as her cue to leave.  Percy had been dangerously close to getting hexed for some time now.  Rather than pulling her wand on another of her brothers she quickly got up and walked to the fireplace, threw a pinch of Floo powder into the grate and stepped in.  It was in the split second between uttering her destination and spinning out of the Burrow that Ginny heard Percy start to speak again.

“Weasley!  It’s about time.  We’d begun to think you’d fallen off the face of the planet,” Jordana called loudly the minute Ginny stepped out of the fireplace at the Quidditch Stadium.  Several heads turned to watch as she came rushing over, conjuring a brush and catching it in mid-air.  She handed it to Ginny, who immediately began dusting herself off.

“I know and I’m sorry about not getting back to you sooner,” Ginny said, smiling in spite of herself.  Jordana certainly seemed happy to see her.  That had to be a good sigh, right?  “There were certain things that prevented me -”

“No mater.  No matter.  You’re here now.  That’s the main concern.”  Taking the brush from Ginny, Jordana pulled her into the office.  Once there she proceeded to finish removing the soot, a feat achieved much faster than Ginny could have accomplished.  As she did this she laid out the reason she had wanted to see Ginny.  “Gwenog and I just wanted to have a talk with you about next season.”

“Oh?” Ginny’s insides started to squirm and her head was again filled with thousands of possibilities.  Jordana wouldn’t be this enthusiastic if she had wanted Ginny here to tell her they were sacking her, would she?  It wasn’t like there was an overabundance of work for a pregnant Quidditch player though, leaving her more confused and tense.

“Relax Weasley,” Jordana said, a small smile on her face.  “We just wanted to look at options.  Obviously you’re in no condition to play.  Damn shame, that.  Why you had to go and do this now –“ She sighed.  “Whatever the case, we don’t want to lose you and so we’re willing to make allowances.  We think we’ve come up with a fairly reasonable compromise.”

“OK,” Ginny replied slowly.

“How do you feel about coaching?”

“C – Coaching? I’m not sure I – “

“Let me be clear on this,” Jordan interrupted.  “You are still our newest member of the team, but I’m sure you could run through drills while you were asleep.  Gwenog agrees.  Barring stray Bludgers we feel this is something you could do safely enough.”

“Er . . . Yeah, I think so.” Ginny was confident that she could do what they were asking but she still wasn’t sure she was fortunate enough to be offered such an opportunity, particularly in light of how bad she had botched things the last time she had played for the team.  After everything else, this really seemed too good to be true.

“It’ll help you play better, too, once you get this baby nonsense out of the way.”  Leaning back in her chair Jordana put her feet up on the desk.  “We also think you’d do great as our point person with the commentators.  Its is a natural progression really, as you are already the most visible member of the team.”

“The press?” Ginny asked after a minute, to confirm her understanding.  Her relationship with the news reporters had been tumultuous at best, and it was likely to get worse when they found out about her current predicament. “I dunno, Jordana.  You know how much I hate having to deal with them.”

“Aye,” Jordana agreed.  “But this is just business. You wouldn’t be dealing with the likes of Rita Skeeter.”

That would hardly make a difference, Ginny thought to herself, but said nothing.  She knew that the team was being overly generous to her.  She didn’t want to seem ungrateful, given how much they were bending to accommodate her, and so she agreed, albeit relunctantly.

“There is one other thing,” Jordana stated, giving Ginny a once over.  “We’re going to have to announce your removal from the team lineup, and we’re going to have to do it soon.  When we do people are going to ask questions.  As we can hardly hide the reason that you’re taking this season off, would you like us to make a formal announcement?”

Ginny stared at Jordana, dumfounded.  She knew even before her conversation with Harry that her pregnancy could not be kept quiet for long; it wasn’t one of those conditions that lent itself to secrecy.  She’d also considered how it would affect her Quidditch career, but she’d given no thought to what the fans were going to say about her abrupt withdrawal from the lineup.  After that huge announcement last year about her salary it was bound to raise questions when people learned she wasn’t going to be playing this year.  The Harpies supporters would demand an explanation, and they would be owed one.  On the other hand though Ginny wasn’t quite sure she was ready to make such an official declaration of her pregnancy.  Something of her uncertainty must have shown because Jordana chuckled.

“We don’t need your answer today, Weasley, but we do need it within the week.”

Ginny nodded.  She was able to stop herself from saying it, but she certainly thought of telling Jordana that she’d have an answer for her once she’d talked it over with Harry.  They always discussed decisions of such magnitude, particularly when it came to matters of the media.  That wasn’t necessary now.  The only person she had to consult with was herself.

“So how are you holding up – What the bloody hell is this?”  Jordana’s bellowed demand was absolutely justified.  She had opened the office door to walk Ginny out, only to find the way barricaded by a large pot plant with violently pink flowers.

“So sorry, m’am,” said Roger, one of the broom-handlers.  His mane of bushy brown hair appeared through a parting he made in the branches.  “But this just arrived for Miss. Keddle and it’s proving a might hard to handle.”

“Arrived from where?  From whom?” Jordana demanded, her impatience palpable.

Roger shrugged.  “A secret admirer, I’d wager, as there was no name to speak of.”

“Merlin,” Jordana replied, rolling her eyes.  “Well get that thing to Keddle – I trust you’ve ensured its safe.”

“Yes, m’am.”

“Good.  Get it out of my doorway.”

With a great deal of effort Roger was able to levitate the large pot plant and move it clear of Jordana’s doorway.  Both she and Ginny watched as it swayed from side to side as he directed it down the hallway and round a corner.

“Blimey,” Jordana muttered in irritation before turning back to Ginny.  “Management really does get on my nerves at times.  Secret admirers!  I must say it is a relief that you and Potter have stayed together.  Half the word is afraid of him and wouldn’t dare send you something like that.”

Ginny’s breath caught.  It wasn’t only the mention of Harry, but such a casual statement that was the polar opposite of the truth that made her feel like she’d been hit by a stray Bludger.  Again she opened her mouth to tell Jordana what happened, but again held her tongue.  The hallway of a busy Quidditch Stadium was hardly the place for such a conversation, she told herself.  And in any case, the baby was Jordana’s business inasmuch as it affected her team, but the break up was not.  That rather unwelcome announcement could be put off for another time.

Ginny had already taken a few steps out of the fireplace before she realized that she was not in the waiting room of St. Mungo’s as she had intended, but in The Three Broomsticks, one of the two pubs in Hogsmeade.  She stared around in disbelief, wondering how she could have made such a colossal blunder.

Inwardly thanking her mother for the advice about Apparition – she would have splinched herself for sure – it took a moment for Ginny to realize that her arrival had attracted more than the usual amount of attention.  The standard babble that filled the pub, which she had barely registered upon arrival, had completely died away.  The two-dozen patrons were watching her as though she were an apparition.  It wasn’t uncommon for people to attract attention when they arrived via the Floo Network.  It wasn’t wholly unheard of to attract a little more attention when one had a little bit of notoriety, as she did thanks to Quidditch and her relationship with Harry.

Ginny tried to ignore the tingling in her nerves that told her these people were interested in more than just Quidditch.  She’d run into countless people, both alone and in crowds, and they’d never stared at her thus.  No, this was much deeper than sports.  She couldn’t imagine what it was that had captured their interest, but knew it couldn’t be anything good.  She continued to smile as she reached into her pocket and closed her hands over her wand.

“Miss. Weasley?”  The voice of Madame Rosmerta, the lady who ran the pub, sounded weak.  Ginny saw her standing down a small, somewhat dark hallway.  As she spoke Ginny’s name, she turned her head to look back into the room she had just emerged from.

The simultaneous sound of scraping chairs caught Ginny’s attention.  The unusually small crowd of people in the pub had all got to their feet.  They remained silent, but there was a certain restlessness about them that told her they weren’t going to remain so for very much longer.  As one they started to approach.  She took a few steps back toward the fireplace, extracting her wand as she did so.  The intention was to get away from these people as soon as she could, to go to St. Mungo’s, where she should have gone in the first place.

The crowd continued to approach, increasing Ginny’s uneasiness.  She doubted that she would be able to make the seamless escape that she wanted, and began to raise her wand, hoping this would be sufficient to get people to back away.  Before she could raise the wand more than a few inches it was knocked out of her hand as something flew past her.

Like everything else that had happened in the time since she’d arrived, it took Ginny a moment to understand that it hadn’t been something that had knocked her wand out of her hand, it had been someone: Harry.  And now he was standing right in front of her, blocking her from view of the crowd.  She saw him raise his own wand.  He didn’t say a word, but the crowd backed off at once, looking frightened.  Some people didn’t even returned to their seats, they fled the pub entirely.

“Accio.” Ginny saw her wand come flying out from under the bar.  It was only after he caught it that Harry turned to face her.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” he said, handing over her wand.  “Come with me.”

Without giving her an option to refuse, Harry took Ginny’s hand and led her down the hallway he had appeared from.  Ginny looked back as she allowed herself to be led away from the crowd.  Those who remained were watching curiously.  Madame Rosmerta also looked interested.  She didn’t smile or return Harry’s nod as they passed, but she was wearing the same expression as her customers.

“What are you doing here?  What is all this about?” Ginny asked, the minute Harry had closed the door to a private parlor. He didn’t answer because he was busy casting what she recognized as a silencing spell.  When he finished he closed the distance between them, all the while watching her closely.

“You’re all right?” he asked.

“Of course I am.  What makes you think –“ Her question was cut off when Harry pulled her into a tight embrace.  This took her completely off-guard, and she stood stiffly for a second, listening to the racing of his heart.  Then, understanding that this was really happening, she lifted her arms, one hand still clutching her wand, and embraced him in return.  They stood there in silence for a time, Ginny only listening to his heart rate returning to normal.  She didn’t want to move, or even breathe too deeply, fearing Harry’s withdrawal.

“What’s going on?” she asked after a minute, her fear and curiosity eventually overriding the potential loss of connection.

“You haven’t heard?” Harry asked, staring down at her upturned face.  Then he answered his own question.  “No, I guess you wouldn’t have, unless Jordana had a wireless on in her office.”  He stepped away from her.  Ginny let go reluctantly, letting her arms fall heavily to her sides.  She watched Harry walk into a corner of the room.

“How did you know I was meeting with Jordana today?”

“Molly,” Harry said, not looking at her.  He was busy rummaging through a rucksack that had been thrown carelessly in the corner.

“You saw mum?  When?  Where?”

“Yes.  About thirty minutes ago, at the Burrow.”  Harry answered each question as he continued to search for something that was eluding him.

“You were at the Burrow?  Why?”   She was obviously missing something big.  Why, after nearly a week, would Harry suddenly feel the need to come to a place where he surely knew he was unwelcome?

“I told you, I’ve been looking for you,” Harry said.  He had located what he had been searching for: a small, wooden wireless, a copy of the Daily Prophet, and a thick scroll of parchment.  He set everything down on a rectangular barnwood table that sat prominently in the middle of the room.  Pulling out a chair he offered it to Ginny before sitting down beside her.  “Have a look at these.”

Ginny glanced at the Prophet.  The front page was covered with what she considered to be the usual stories: the continued investigation into the destruction of the Eiffel tower, a speculative report on whether the Ministry was going to crackdown on International portkeys, and the announcement that Topic: Talk was having Declan Fohn on as a guest that morning.  Hardly anything in the paper seemed of such import that Harry would go out of his way to find her.

Putting aside the newspaper, Ginny looked over at Harry.  He was busy fiddling with the dials on the wireless so she took the scroll of parchment, unrolled six inches, read the first two sentences and stopped.  If she was right, this was a transcript of the very programme she had started listening to on the wireless not two hours earlier.

“Where did you get this?” she asked.

“From work,” Harry said, finally looking up from what he was doing.  “The Ministry’s keeping tabs on this whole group.  Kingsley doesn’t want another Voldemort on his hands.”

“He’s not alone there,” Ginny replied, looking down at the parchment.  “Why are you showing this to me?  I already know as much about Declan Fohn and his disciples as I care to.”

Harry stood up, took the scroll from her and unrolled it.  He laid it out on the table and pointed to a section about halfway through the transcript.  “Read that.”

Obediently, Ginny also stood, leaned over and started to read.

 

 

Fohn: The entire wizarding world is enamored with Harry Potter.  Yes, we acknowledge that he is the one who rid us of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but that doesn’t mean he’s a saint.  If you only knew some of the more troubling aspects of his relations, and his behaviour, some instances have occurred as recently as the last fortnight. . .

 

Gabriel: What sort of troubling things, Mr. Fohn?

 

Fohn: Too many to fully enumerate here, but did you know that his cousin, a one Mr. Dudley Dursley, was recently sent to Azkaban for helping Death Eaters?  And, that same cousin

was, until very recently, living as a Muggle.  It seems highly suspicious.  But there’s even

more, and this relates to Potter’s character directly..

 

Gabriel: Go on.

 

Fohn: While the business with his cousin is dodgy, it could be that the boy got dragged into something that was too big for him. We can accept that, but something else has come to light which we feel demonstrates even more reason to be cautious about him.  Did you know that Potter and his long-time girlfriend, Ginevra Weasley, are expecting a child?

 

 

Ginny let go of the parchment, and it rolled up..

“How can they possibly know that?” she asked, looking at Harry.

“You tell me,” he replied, unrolling the paper again.  “But there’s more.  Keep reading.”

 

Gabriel: No, but that is most interesting news.  Congratulations should be in order though, not aspersions on Potter’s character, unless the PPA frowns on pregnancy outside of marriage.

 

Fohn: (laughs).  No, no.  But did you know that when he found out, Potter couldn’t leave this lovely girl quickly enough.  It is a tragedy of epic proportions.

 

Gabriel: You’ll find there are very few people who will want to believe such a story, Mr. Fohn.  I, for one, find it hard to believe that, if true, there weren’t some mitigating factors involved.

Fohn: If there are he’s keeping them very close.  In any case we know that it is not the first time he’s cast her off like a used toy.  What’s worse is that she’s been through a lot already.  You would think Potter would realize she deserves much greater respect.  I say this even before factoring in that she is a member of one of our most revered pureblood families..

 

“Ugh.  I can’t read any more of this,” Ginny said, letting the parchment go so that it sprung back into its roll a second time.  “That guy obviously hasn’t done his research if he thinks that my family is revered.”

“You’ve got the gist anyway,” Harry said, frowning as he seized the scroll and wound it tighter.  “We think the PPA is trying to play on how bad the purebloods have it.  And as you see they’ll use any methods.  I think –“ He stopped for a minute as he fought with the scroll, “that they would love it if you became the face of their cause.”

“I would never do that,” she replied, tapping the scroll with her wand.  It sealed seamlessly.  “If they’d done their homework would know that after the last war, I would never support such a cause.”

It took Ginny but a minute to conclude that Harry was right, though.  This was a manipulation, pure and simple.  The PPA wanted to gather support for their cause but people were reluctant, this association coming so near on the heels of the last war.  What they needed was someone well known who had been at the forefront of the anti-Voldemort movement.  The pregnancy and break-up were simply the result of fortuitous timing.  They were going to use her relationship with Harry to try and force people to choose sides.

“They’ve already been somewhat successful in dividing people,” Harry said, sitting down in the chair again as he turned up the volume on the wireless.  Two people were arguing back and forth, constantly interrupting each other so it was hard to follow what they were saying at all.  These two commentators were speaking about the interview that took place earlier that morning.  Neither of them could agree as to whether the PPA were just a ragtag group of Death Eaters in training, or whether they held a legitimate position.

“All this in-fighting is going to make it easier for Bellatrix to elude us,” he stated.  “The Ministry is going to be overrun with petty complaints, and the real ones are going to get swept under the rug.”

As they continued to listen to the arguing voices coming from the wireless, Harry settled back in his chair.  It was only then that Ginny could see how tired he looked.  She could also see the last remnants of a bruise on his jaw line, the same one he wouldn’t allow Hermione to heal.

“Can I take care of this?” she asked, touching the bruise lightly.  “It’s unsightly.”

Harry said nothing.  This was near enough to an agreement that Ginny stood up.  It took her a moment to recall the appropriate healing spell – her mother was always so much better at these things than she was.  As she stood thinking Harry watched her, nearly unblinking.  When she at last bent over to run her wand over the bruise a lock of her hair fell out from behind her ear, he reached up and tucked it back.

“All done,” she whispered as he ran his thumb over her cheek.

“Thank you,” he replied, equally quiet.  His eyes followed the hand holding her wand as she moved it automatically to her abdomen, where she had just felt a jittery, butterfly-like sensation.  “I think it’s going to be a girl, you know.”

“Why?”

“With my track record?” With one eyebrow raised, Harry smiled.

“You’re doing fine right now,” Ginny stated, “but I can see why you’re worried.  Rest assured though, because it’s definitely a boy.”

In the last few minutes it was as though the previous three weeks had not happened.  It seemed the most natural thing to lean down and kiss Harry, which she did, meeting no resistance.

Ginny spent a great deal of time over the coming months wondering what might have been had there never been a knock on the door.  It did come though, and behind it stood Briony Wright.  Upon seeing her, Harry jumped up and began collecting the things he’d placed on the table.  He replaced them in his rucksack.

“You had somewhere else to be,” he said to Ginny, his back turned.

“I . . . Yes, I did, but –“

“OK, I’ll not keep you any longer.  We’ll talk later.”   Harry came over and gave her a hug, but it was perfunctory at best.  Before she could so much as register that he had touched her, Ginny saw Harry march from the room without a backward glance.  Briony hesitated for the space of two heartbeats and then followed.  Ginny walked to the door in time to see the two of them leave the pub together.  Briony took Harry’s arm and then they Disapparated.

She returned to the tiny parlor and sank down into the chair Harry had so recently vacated, feeling the happy jittery feeling give way to the ever present nausea.  Had his behaviour ever vacillated this much in such a short space of time?  If it had she couldn’t recall, making her wonder if this was really the Harry she had known for most of her life.

 

 

A/N: Thanks for continuing to read after my long absence.  I’ll just say that life got in the way.  The larger demands on my time had been dealt with though and I hope to be back to updating more than once every two and a half months.  I really enjoyed writing this chapter (or at least re-writing it and then fiddling with it for what seemed like forever).  I hope you enjoy.  As a last note I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether its a girl or boy and why you think that, so if you’re inclined to review . . . Cheers, Sabrina.

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