Autumn had forsaken the southern part of the country, Ginny thought as she stared out of her window at the owl attempting to approach the house. Until this very morning the temperatures had led everyone to believe it was early September, not a mere four weeks from Christmas. This morning though, the bitterly cold wind that had blown in overnight was so ferocious that the window almost blew out of the frame as Ginny opened it to let in the bedraggled owl who was delivering the Daily Prophet. Her timing was perfect; the owl swooped through the window the moment she opened it, but the wind forced it to slam hard into the opposite wall; the resounding thud was almost entirely masked by the howling wind and the creaks and groans made by the house.
“You’ve got a nasty flight ahead of you,” she said, tucking a few knuts into the pouch tied around the owl’s leg and taking the paper.
It took several tries for the owl to exit the window, and then it had quite the time getting away from the house. More than once it was buffeted into the wall before finally clearing the roof and flying south. With a shiver Ginny closed the open window. She watched some of the larger plants blowing around in the gale for a moment, hoping that the wind would die down soon. She had yet another appointment at St. Mungo’s that afternoon and thereafter intended to visit Dennis Creevey, Colin’s brother. He lived fairly close to the hospital and she planned to work there, but if this kept up . . .
For the first time in as long as she could remember, Ginny was glad that she wasn’t spending the day on the Quidditch pitch. Trying to coach in this weather would be an even worse nightmare than usual. Sitting down, Ginny opened the crumpled copy of the Prophet and spread it out on the table. As she did so she couldn’t help but notice all the extra creaks and groans that the house was making. With so many people coming and going it was rare that one was alone. It was enough to make anyone uneasy. She looked down at the paper again, hoping for a distraction.
The front page was given over to an old, but no less familiar picture of Bellatrix Lestrange. For a fleeting second, Ginny thought that perhaps she’d been arrested, but the headline proclaimed that she was still at large.
Bellatrix Lestrange, long-time supporter of He Who Must Not Be Named, remains at large today, after eluding Aurors once more. Acting on a confidential tip, the Daily Prophet has learned, Aurors arrived at her latest rumored hideout to find the place empty. The Aurors in question believe that she may have still held residence at the location in Belgium as late as two hours before their arrival. Such a small span of time can only bode well for the investigation, sources say.
“It means we’re closing in. She can’t elude us much longer,” said Pamela Brazill, Auror, and member of the task force assigned to recapture Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy. But this bit of happy news is diluted with Brazill’s closing words. “I would urge anyone who sees Lestrange to be extra cautious. If she suspects that we are near to catching her she’s likely to be more lethal than ever before. Please, under no circumstances approach her. Alert the Auror office at once.”
One can better understand Brazill’s words when considering the difficulty the Auror office has had in capturing the two most wanted Death Eaters. It took the task force nearly five years to apprehend Lucius Malfoy, who is now serving a life sentence in Azkaban.
While the circumstances surrounding the recapture of one of You Know Who’s top henchmen remains shrouded in mystery, several reports have been circulating that Lestrange and Malfoy are connected to the arrest of a Mr. Dudley Dursley. Sources are saying –
Ginny continued to read the story, despite the revulsion she felt at yet another mention of Harry’s cousin. The report fairly accurately presented evidence for the link between the two cases. It was so accurate, in fact, that Ginny read the story with her eyes half closed, fearful that her part in the tale would be brought up. Only when she reached the end of the article, and the stated hope that Lestrange would soon be recaptured soon, did she relax and open her eyes completely.
“You and I, both.” She stared at the photo but wasn’t really seeing it. The idea that one of Voldemort’s most dangerous supporters was still at large had always bothered her, but it was only in the last six months – ever since the scene at the Quidditch semi-Finals when Colin was abducted – that Ginny had started hoping for the imminent arrest of the two notorious Death Eaters. And then, with everything that happened in August . . . their aid in the perpetration of such a disgusting act, not to mention trying to kill Harry yet again. For the first time in her life, Ginny wasn’t against the Muggle idea of capital punishment. If there was a person who deserved it more, Ginny didn’t know them. Removing Lestrange permanently from the picture would do so much good in the world, and it just might cause some sense to seep back into certain people. Maybe.
Ginny shook her head to clear it. She must not start getting her hopes up again. Things were going well and she couldn’t afford to jeopardize them by holding out hope for those events that had only the slightest chance of occurring..
More as another attempt at distraction than out of any real interest, Ginny looked down at the paper again. She had missed it the first time she looked, but there was another story about Declan Fohn and his PPA supporters.
Declan Fohn, leader of the pro-pureblood association (PPA) has come under fire for his continued support of Delores Umbridge. Those aligning themselves with the Minister for Magic have long criticized the PPA, considering them to be little more than a new incarnation of You Know Who’s Death Eaters. They argue that Fohn’s continued support of Umbridge, a woman with alleged ties to Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malofy, is further damning evidence of the PPA’s motives.
This concern has increased with the growth of the association. Such notable names as Rhea Meyer, newest member of the Holyhead Harpies, and Umbrdige herself have proclaimed their support for Fohn and his views. If this were the end of recent developments their detractors would hardly have a leg to stand on. As recent as last evening, however, the Daily Prophet can report that the charismatic leader has begun making motions of what his critics consider acceptance of Bellatrix Lestrange.
“Any attempt to justify the actions of someone who is obviously dangerous is worthy of question,” said Pamela Brazill, member of the Auror task force currently tracking Lestrange and her followers.
The Auror office has read the mood of the pubic correctly, it seems. As of this writing their office was being inundated with owls requesting the immediate arrest of Declan Fohn and his followers. Whether that will occur remains to be seen.
Ginny put the paper down feeling slightly ill. This article, too, had stuck to facts rather than wild conjecture. She might have been shocked over the idea that the Daily Prophet was turning into a reputable publication, but something else had caught her attention: Rhea Meyer, the walking nightmare, was a member of the PPA. That explained a lot! If Meyer was a devoted follower of Fohn it would only stand to reason that she would loathe anyone who wasn’t. This insight didn’t make Ginny think better of Meyer at all. How could she when Fohn and his disciples believed they were better than people like Hermione?
As a particularly violent gust of wind battered the side of the house, Ginny gave a start. It sounded as though something had just been thrown hard against the wall. She froze in place for the space of a heartbeat before grabbing her wand, laboring to her feet, and heading for the door, straining to hear any sound apart from the raging wind. A second, slightly softer bang, sounded more like a knock and when the third came she knew that she was right. Clutching her wand tightly in her hand, Ginny cautiously approached the door as she tried to prepare herself for the minute it would crash in.
“Who’s there?” she called, sounding calmer than she felt.
“It’s me, Gin,” Harry called, speaking louder than was his custom so that he would be heard over the howling wind.
Sudden understanding blossomed. The bangs she had just heard weren’t the work of newly arrived Death Eaters at all. It was probable that Harry had been thrown into the wall when he first arrived. It was for this very reason that Apparition was inadvisable in extremely windy conditions.
As Ginny opened the door a torrent of dust flew in her face and it was a moment before she could make out Harry at all. He was covered in dust, and looking as disheveled as she had expected. Despite the weather though, he hesitated before entering.
“Come in before you turn this whole house into a desert.”
Harry seemed to consider his step for another moment before entering the house and allowing Ginny to close the door.
“You’re early,” she said tersely, pointing her wand at the dust now covering the floor. “I didn’t expect you for at least another – oh, damn it!” The vanishing spell she’d attempted to use to clean the dirt hadn’t worked properly. Instead of the floor being returned to its former state, a small explosion had gone off and she was now coated in dust.
“Here, let me –“ Harry started to say, on the verge of laughing.
“Don’t you dare,” Ginny snarled, pointing her wand at him. His smile disappeared at once, and he started following the movement of her wand. Once she was sure that Harry wasn’t going to do anything, Ginny took a deep breath and tried her spell again. This time it worked properly, but her temper was still at a dangerous level. She stalked past Harry to the table and looked down at the paper again.
“What’s this about, Gin?”
“This. What can you possibly be mad about now? I’m here. I’m early even, like you said.”
“Yeah, that you are,” she said with a disgusted snort. “And quite the entrance you made, too.”
“I’m sorry, Gin, I don’t know what –“
“I have you to thank for the fact that I’m now seeing Death Eaters around every corner, don’t I?” she said, spinning around. She pointed her wand at him, more for emphasis than out of any desire to use it.
An awkward silence, the like of which had not plagued them for months, settled itself between them. Deciding that she was not going to break it, Ginny watched Harry look around the kitchen with a wistful expression. She wasn’t wholly unsympathetic to his reaction, despite her latest outburst. For many years he had considered the Burrow a second home. It was unimaginable to her, the idea of never setting foot in the place again. Bearing that in mind, she forced herself to be a little more tolerant of his present actions than she otherwise might have done.
With a hesitation Ginny couldn’t recall Harry exhibiting at the Burrow, he walked over to the table, picked up the copy of the Prophet she’d left open and flipped it back to the front page. It was quite clear when his eyes fell on the photo of Bellatrix Lestrange because his expression hardened. Ginny decided against asking how the investigation was going, thinking that the article she had just read and the expression on Harry’s face told her all she cared to know. And in any case, the less she knew about the particulars of Lestrange’s activities the better she would sleep.
“Where is everyone?” Harry asked after a few seconds, turning away from the paper. He spoke in a would-be casual voice that didn’t fool her for a second.
“Out? A little irresponsible of them after this, don’t you think?” He pointed at the paper.
“Not really,” she replied flatly. “They’re here all the time. It was kind of nice to have the place to myself for a change.”
Harry didn’t seem swayed by Ginny’s words at all. He was looking from the paper to her, and though he didn’t say anything, it was quite clear that he thought she wasn’t fully grasping the seriousness of the situation.
“Oh, come on,” she said, feeling annoyed that they had once again returned to Harry’s ridiculous notion that she was in danger. “She’s on the run from you lot now. D’you really think she’s going to appear in my back garden on the off-chance I’m here alone?”
“Have you forgotten what happened the last time we were negligent with security?” Harry asked quietly, fixing her with a significant look.
Ginny shuddered. Yes, she remembered quite clearly what had happened before. It was all she could do sometimes to forget the fact that Voldemort had been here in this kitchen.
“But I guess you’re partly right,” he conceded. “If Lestrange decides she wants to get to you it really won’t matter who is around, and the security spells are only effective to a point.”
“What security spells?”
“There’s no need to get angry, Ginny. We just put in a few extra precautions.” Harry shrugged as though it was no big deal, but he looked a little defensive and hastened to add, “your mum, dad, and Ron all agreed that it was a good idea. They wanted the extra security so no one who wasn’t supposed to be here could waltz in – Gin, put your wand away.”
“No. By my tally you’re due for a good hexing. One minute you’re saying stupid things, like how it would be safer if I lie about the paternity of are child and if you stay away, and the next you’re chasing me through countries to alert me about a simple radio show.” She stopped for a second and collected herself, letting her wand arm fall to her side. She hadn’t meant to bring up their sudden meeting in Hogsmeade. “And then you go behind my back and –“
“Behind your back? That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?”
“You have no right – You can’t – How dare you!” A growl died before Ginny fully articulated it. Once more she was the last to learn of something that quite obviously affected her. Adding to her frustration was the fact that she wasn’t sure whether she should be angrier with Harry or her family. She had come to expect such nonsense from Harry, but she thought her family at least would have let her in on this agreement they’d made with him. After the months of complaints they had leveled against him, Harry was the last person they should have been conspiring with.
“I thought you knew,” Harry said. “I thought they would have told you as soon as the protections were up. Or at the very least I thought something might have slipped out. I never meant for this to be some big secret, Gin, I just wanted to make sure that you stay safe.”
“Its not your business to do that anymore,” Ginny said, slamming her hand on the table out of frustration, creasing the paper and causing some of her unfinished tea to fly out of the cup. “You lost any such right when you walked out on me. My protection, or lack thereof, is my concern alone.”
“The hell it is,” Harry said loudly. “Not when there’s another innocent life at stake.”
Whatever retort she might have been about to make was forgotten as Ginny placed a hand on her bulging stomach. Instead of looking at Harry she focused on the fireplace they would soon be using to travel to St. Mungo’s. Adrasteia’s constant warning was back on her mind, and a queasy sensation that had nothing to do with the pregnancy or impending Floo travel, was making her a little weak-kneed. She was supposed to avoid getting angry and yet it seemed to be the one constant in her life, especially when Harry was around. More than once she had wondered if he wasn’t doing it on purpose so she’d be confined for the rest of her pregnancy.
“Fine,” she said curly, trying to force the anger out of her body. “Fine. But don’t do it again. I don’t care what stupid self-justification you’ve got for your actions, if you ever do something like this again. . . “ She left the possibilities to Harry’s imagination. “Let’s go.”
Healer Adrasteia was most displeased with the results of her latest tests.
“You have been taking my warnings seriously, haven’t you?” she asked, pointing her wand from Ginny to Harry menacingly. “Are you concerned about the health of your child?”
Both Ginny and Harry nodded mutely.
“Then why are these tests still sky high?”
“Its my fault,” Harry said, speaking before Ginny had the chance to. He recoiled under the quelling look from the healer “I, er, did something without telling her. She doesn’t react well to surprises of that sort. It won’t happen again.”
“It better not or I will hex you myself. I have half a mind to place you in a Tranquility chamber now, Ginny. I’ve told you this every time you’ve been here and things are getting worse, not better.” She paused, possibly to let her words sink in. “It is fortunate that your levels aren’t quite at the point where it is absolutely necessary. I’m sure you would feel more, rather than less, stress at being cooped up for the next three months. But you’re not off the hook that easily,” she said, seeing the look of relief that must have shown on Ginny’s face. “I’m going to need to monitor you every week until your due date. If those levels go up any further, I’ll have no other choice.”
“I understand,” Ginny replied, glaring at Harry.
All in all, their meeting with the healer was testy and Ginny was glad when Adrasteia finally said they could leave. It was quite bad enough to be told off for a few minutes of anger, but when the cause of said aggravation was standing there as calm as could be . . . Today the office held none of it’s usual inviting air and it was a relief to get out into the corridor again. Ginny decided on taking the stairs rather than waiting for the lifts; the sooner she could be out of Harry’s presence the better.
“Where are you going?” he asked, as she headed into the stairwell. Ginny chose not to answer as she didn’t so much walk, as waddle down the stairs. To her annoyance, Harry followed, pestering her all the way, insisting that she would be better off taking the lifts.
“I can still walk, you know,” Ginny snapped. When they reached the ground floor she yanked open the door and marched purposefully to the exit into London before anyone in the waiting room had a chance to recognize her. Without glancing back, Ginny stepped through the icy cold entrance to St. Mungo’s and onto a windy street packed with Muggles.
Taking a moment to wrap her coat a little tighter around herself, Ginny set off at a brisk pace – or at least as fast as her protruding belly would let her. She hadn’t gone more than fifty feet when Harry caught up with her again. The threat of the Tranquility Chamber prevented her from reaching for her wand. She kept walking, trying to ignore him.
“Where are you going?” he asked again, standing right in front of Ginny to block her way. To prevent her skirting round him he put his hands on her shoulders.
“Not that its really any of your concern,” she said coldly, “I’m going to visit Dennis Creevey. I’ve been promising to do it for a long time, but with everything that’s been going on I haven’t had the opportunity.”
“Right. I’m coming with you,” he said after a brief pause. Ginny thought he might have wanted to say something about how unwise it was for her to do this, but he kept quiet about it. He was looking around at the crowed bustling down the busy street as though he was expecting to see someone he recognized.
Ginny let out an exasperated growl that went unheard among the other noises.
“Have you gone deaf?” she said so loudly that several people walking by looked round. A tall, rather muscly man actually took several steps toward them.
“He bothering you, miss?” he asked, eyeing Harry with mistrust.
“Yes, but not in the way you think,” she answered. The man took several steps toward them. Ginny closed her hand over her wand, just in case. “I’m fine, thank you.”
With several glances back at them the man continued walking. Taking that as her cue, Ginny removed Harry’s hands from her shoulders, ducked around him and continued down the street. Much to her annoyance Harry caught up and fell into step beside her.
“Explain something to me, Harry,” she said after spending several minutes staring in shop windows (some already displaying Christmas decorations).
“Do you get some sadistic pleasure out of doing exactly the opposite of what I ask you to?”
“Then why d’you do it? What are you hoping to accomplish?”
Harry didn’t say anything. He walked along with his head down and his hands in his pockets for at least thirty seconds. With a heavy sigh he finally stopped outside a boutique that housed a large display of mirrors. Ginny stopped, too. While waiting for him to speak she watched the Muggles and the traffic passing by through a large, ornate mirror with gilded edges.
“Things haven’t worked out like they were supposed to,” he said finally, “but you haven’t made it easy, Ginny.”
“Nor have you,” she said flatly, looking past him into the mirror again. If that was how this conversation was going to go she’d be much better off watching the Muggles go about their daily business.
“You’re refusing to take any of this seriously,” Harry said testily.
“I’m refusing to take this seriously?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes, you are. And I’d have thought that after Voldemort –“
“That’s what I would have thought, too,” Ginny interrupted. “That you would have remembered what happened the last time you tried to keep me ‘safe.’”
“No, it happened because I didn’t stay away from you in the first place.”
Ginny yawned widely at his words and once more shifted ever so slightly to her left to look at the mirror.
At first nothing appeared amiss; people were hurrying up and down the street, laden with parcels, or carrying briefcases. On second glance she realized she hadn’t seen everything: A cloaked figure was skulking behind a parked car. As she watched he darted from behind it and ducked behind another, this one closer to where she and Harry were standing.
Grabbing her wand from her pocket, Ginny spun round. As she did, she felt Harry do the same. He swore under his breath.
“Get in there and don’t move unless absolutely necessary,” he said, shunting her into the doorway of the shop selling mirrors. The Muggles on the street seemed to sense something happening too. Their pace had quickened and they were skirting around Harry and the black cloaked figure.
At thirty feet, Ginny realized that the stranger, who gave every appearance of being a Death Eater, wasn’t even wearing a mask. His sneer was quite obvious, as were his hawk-like eyes, which were currently scanning his surroundings. Though she couldn’t place him, the way he carried himself made Ginny sure this was one of Bellatrix Lestrange’s henchmen.
Raising her wand, she tried to stay as concealed as possible while remaining ready if it should become necessary for her to act. Harry was more than capable of handing himself against one Death Eater, but there was no harm in being prepared. And, she thought, watching the gap between Harry and their unwelcome intruder close, any supporter of Bellatrix Lestrange would not be shy about ignoring the Statute of Secrecy even if they were on a street crowded with Muggles.
As the distance narrowed so that Ginny could see every line on the man’s face, a deafening bang echoed through the streets. Muggles up and down the sidewalk jumped, and more than one bag of shopping clattered to the ground, spilling a barrage of things: apples and oranges, Muggle magazines, small boxes with electronics (some of which Ginny doubted her father would have known the use of). Shouts up and down the street almost completely drowned out the noise of the traffic.
“A gun? Was that a gun?”
“Where is it? Who shot?”
They got over their brief paralysis and tried to run away as quickly as possible without appearing to do so. Even the other wizard had given a start. The only person who hadn’t jumped was Harry.
“I know why you’re here,” he said to the wizard. “But Bellatrix should have sent someone a little more qualified.”
The other wizard laughed, but Ginny thought he sounded rather nervous. When he raised his wand his hand was shaking ever so slightly.
“She’s not going to give up, you know. She’ll never give in.” He pointed his wand at the shop window.
“Protego,” Ginny and Harry shouted at the same time.
The Death Eater was blasted off his feet and landed on his back on the sidewalk. He was deluged in a thousand shards of glass when Ginny’s spell went awry and shattered the shop front window. A few shards sliced her cheek and hands, and she saw a few trickles of blood oozing from the side of Harry’s head, but they were spared the worst of it thanks to his Shield Charm. Ginny stared at the bloody mass on the ground, feeling queasy and embarrassed. Why were all of her charms causing things to explode today?
Harry set about conjuring manacles and pocketing this unnamed wizard’s wand. Only when he had finished did he turn his attention back to her.
“Are you OK?” he asked, standing up and wiping a trickle of blood from Ginny’s temple.
“Oh, never better,” she answered more sarcastically than she meant, still staring at the glass that was glittering like diamonds on the ground.
“Good timing, that,” he said, seeing where Ginny was looking. “I suppose those are the ‘wonky’ episodes that Adrasteia was talking about.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” She put her wand back in her pocket, feeling it was probably safer there.
“Reparo.” The splinters of broken glass flew together at Harry’s command and sailed back into their regular place. “One less thing for the Obliviators to do.”
Several of the braver Muggles had started returning to the street, but even they lost their nerve again when more figures began appearing out of thin air. At first Ginny thought it was Aurors or members of the Magical Law Enforcement squad. As she looked around she saw that she was partly correct, but there were also black-cloaked figures. It was the latter that had captured Harry’s attention. The figure at the forefront of this group was unmistakably Bellatrix Lestrange.
Ginny clutched her wand tightly in her hand, muttering prayers under her breath that her magic would work properly if necessary. Three people rushed by her, joining Harry. The last past her was instantly recognizable because of her vividly pink hair. Harry tilted his head slightly to his right and muttered something to her, and she turned back to look at Ginny. Though she looked surprised, she immediately fell back.
“Wotcher, Ginny. Come with me, we need to get you out of here.”
Tonks grabbed Ginny’s hand, motioned for her to duck down as much as she could and they hurried towards another wizard. She took a tiny doll from him and then pulled Ginny into another doorway.
“A portkey,” she said as a jet of green light narrowly missed her head. It flew past them and shattered the window of the shop. Ginny looked round, trying to see if everything was OK but Tonks grabbed her arm tightly. “Hurry.”
Ginny knew better than to question anything when spells were flying all around them. She placed a finger on the doll and a second later was spinning, worrying about what type of landing she would have. Portkeys left something to be desired when it came to landings. But she needn’t have worried. As they landed Tonks grabbed her arm to prevent her falling.
“Thanks,” Ginny said, looking around the yard, half expecting to see Death Eaters around her too, but the yard was empty.
“I remember what it’s like,” Tonks said. She had already turned away and was waving her wand in lasso-like motions around the yard. Ginny watched her do it, feeling shifts in the air that were not caused by the wind. It was obvious that Tonks was reinforcing the security that had been placed around the Burrow. “I think it might be best if you were to stay in the house, at least until Harry gets here.”
Ginny nodded and started heading for the house but decided against it.
“How did you know that those Death Eaters were there? Was it just chance, or . . . ?” She wanted to ask more, about what the chances were that everyone would get out all right, who that first Death Eater was, and why he was alone.
Tonks finished casting her spell before turning her attention to Ginny. She looked genuinely shocked at the question.
“Harry hasn’t told you?” She sighed when Ginny shook her head. “I told him it was stupid not to – Come on, let’s go inside. We need to have a chat.”
Ginny was so grateful that there was at least one person willing to give her answers that she didn’t even mind the minutes long delay that returning to the house and preparing some tea caused.
“So what has Harry not been telling me now?” she asked once they were seated at the table. Tonks had been reading the Prophet as Ginny moved about. Now she pushed it aside.
“What Brazill didn’t say was why we almost caught Bellatrix in the first place.”
“Oh. You don’t think it’s just because you’re getting close to catching her?” Ginny asked, feeling that tiny bubble of hope burst.
“We were, but the task force –“ Tonks stopped and looked around the house. She raised her wand again and cast another spell. “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but as it affects you . . . If you say I told you I will deny it. Anyway, we think that she got a bit careless, or a bit cocky; it really comes to the same thing. She didn’t cover her tracks as well as usual when she was making her latest plans.”
“She’s stretching herself too thin,” Ginny said, half-joking. She didn’t know how all of this possibly related to her, but it was nice to know what was going on for a change.
“Or she’s just impatient to get her sister off her back. This latest plan, far as we’ve been able to see, involved your abduction.”
Tea sprayed the table as Ginny laughed.
“I think you’ve been spending too much time with Harry,” she said, watching for any sign that this was a joke. The corners of Tonks’s mouth did twitch but she shook her head. “Oh please. What possible motivation could she have for wanting me now?”
“Do I have to state the obvious? She wants you because she thinks you’re the way to get Harry to do what she wants. And trust me, she wants him as much as she ever has. She still thinks that he can bring back You Know Who. We think her ideas, in essence, are the same as those used by You Know Who: snatch you and hope that Harry will come to save you.”
Ginny sighed in a tired way.
“Yes, not very original at all. It was Narcissa who put her onto this idea though, or so we hear.” Tonks took a sip of her tea.
“What possible reason –“
“She blames you and Harry for Draco’s death.”
“So what? She wants to pay us back in kind?” Ginny asked, feeling extremely ill and light-headed. She placed both hands on her stomach protectively “Was that what today was about? Bellatrix was there to . . . to . . . “ She felt close to fainting and had to force herself to breath.
“That seems to have been the plan. That first Death Eater was a scout. Somehow they got wind of your plans. It was lucky Harry was with you . . . “ Tonks stopped for a minute to take another sip of her tea.
“We think that Bellatrix is humoring her sister, going along with this request inasmuch as it fits with her own plans. Using you has worked before, and knowing Harry, it would work again, which is why we can’t let her anywhere near you. We don’t know what Bellatrix’s long term plans are for you, but I can’t see her keeping you around if everything goes as she has planned. And as for your baby . . . I wouldn’t put it past Bellatrix to kill it, or Narcissa to keep it and raise it as her own. She’s really lost it since Draco was murdered.”
Ginny nodded mutely, rubbing her temples where a severe headache was starting to build. She was beginning to realize how close it had been, and how reckless her attitude was. Not two hours ago she was arguing with Harry about how he hadn’t learned anything from their past, but she was suffering from the same problem. If it hadn’t been for Harry’s stubborn streak she would even now be in Lestrange’s clutches, and the baby . . . She couldn’t even think of it.
“Harry’s been insistent that we not tell you any of this, because he didn’t want you to worry,” Tonks said, finishing the last of her tea. “I think What happened today just proves how wrong he was. The more we know – and all that.”
“There is one last thing.” Tonks had got to her feet. “We’ve got some pretty strong protection around the Burrow and the Quidditch stadium. You should be safe in either, but even so, we’re going to have someone from the task force standing by should something happen.”
“Harry?” Ginny asked at once.
“Probably not.” Tonks looked at her pityingly. “He’s way too personally involved already. He’s pushing it by staying on the task force after what happened in August. Technically, even I should technically remove myself, given my relationships with you, Harry, Bellatrix and Narcissa, but we’re running a bit short on people since Mad Eye’s death, and Hyde’s resignation didn’t help. Anyway as long as things go according to plan you’ll probably never see us. We just want you to know that we’re nearby.”
“How do I contact you if something happens?” Ginny asked. She disliked the fact that people were keeping tabs on her every movement, but under the circumstances she would do her best to endure it.
“The nature of the protection alerts us if there’s any kind of danger. You don’t have to do anything except go about your daily routines with a little more caution.”
Ginny assured Tonks that she would do just that, truly meaning it for the first time in her life. She walked Tonks to the door and was about to open it when another thought occurred to her.
“I know you want to catch Lestrange and all that, but if you’re so short-handed why waste so many resources just on me?”
This time Tonks did laugh.
“I keep forgetting how similar you and Harry are! Why would we care to keep a world famous Quidditch player safe? I don’t think the Harpies supporters would do more than sack the Ministry if something happened to you. Of course, the PPA might be pleased if it did, but the opposition has adopted you as their unofficial symbol and would be causing mayhem if the slightest harm befell you. And need I comment on the endless saga of your relationship with Harry? Half the people out there are rooting for you to get back together and won’t hear a word against it. They’re already at the throats of the people who are following in Rita Skeeter’s line. So, all in all, no one would care if something were to happen to you.”
“Thanks, Tonks,” Ginny said, opening the door to let her out.