WOGW2: Chapter Five: The Awful Truth

Ginny continued to watch the Death Eaters for several minutes.  They were leaning against the metal fence that enclosed the square, fanning themselves with their cloaks and staring at the join between numbers eleven and thirteen.  It appeared Dudley hadn’t yet given away their secret location, otherwise there would be more than two Death Eaters outside, and they wouldn’t be dehydrating in the hot August sun.  She guessed Fred was right, that they were just stationed there as lookouts, perhaps also to make a list of who was in the house for when the Fidelius Charm was broken, and it would be broken the minute Lestrange caught up with Dudley, something she might already have done since all the Weasleys, Lupin and Tonks were now in Grimmauld Place.  Even now their secret hideout could be less secure.  They would just have to hope that the Ministry caught Dudley first.

At last letting the curtain fall back over the window, Ginny turned round to find her mother fretting over sleeping arrangements, and Ron looking particularly disgruntled.  It seemed that Molly had momentarily forgotten that Ron and Hermione were married, and had caused Ron to splutter indignantly at her suggestion that Hermione and Ginny return to their old room in the house.  Fred and George were snickering and encouraging Riley and Simon to be as boisterous as possible.

Not feeling up to participating in any of the discussions currently taking place, Ginny seized the first opportunity to sneak out of the room.  She was sure that if she had worked out what the Death Eaters were up to, that the Aurors must have done so as well, and she wanted to know what their plan was.  The last thing anyone in the family needed today was another surprise ambush.  She hurried down the stairs and found the kitchen door closed, telling her that their meeting was still going on.  She sat at the bottom of the staircase and leaned her head against the wall to wait.  She tried not to think of what might be happening in Grimmauld Square at this very moment.

As the minutes ticked by with no other sound but the distant laughter of her family on the floor above, Ginny began to relax and closed her stinging eyes.  She felt a slight fluttering in her abdomen again and pressed her hand to it automatically.  Was Adrasteia right?  Could this really be the first movement of . . . her baby?  The corners of her mouth turned up again.

It was the strangest thing, really.  She had spent so much time agonizing over how everything was going to change because of this baby.   She’d worried about how she was going to tell Harry, and how he would take it, and whether they were even ready for a child.  For the first few weeks she’d thought a lot about how a baby would affect her Quidditch career, and she didn’t see any possibility of continuing.  How could she rocket around, trying her best not to have her head cracked open by a Bludger when there would be a tiny baby at home waiting for her? She’d worried so much about how the rest of the family would handle the news, particularly in light of how Harry had left the other day.  Weeks and weeks of her life had been devoted to agonizing over these questions, but now, in the space of half an hour she’d nearly forgotten them all.

A loud thud jolted Ginny from her reverie, and she cracked her head rather hard on the handrail.  Massaging the spot where she was sure a sizable bump would appear, she stood and headed for the closed kitchen door.  The bang had come from there.  What if there was already a traitor in their midst?  She pulled her wand out and hesitated for a moment before pushing the door open; there was no sound of a struggle, but someone was speaking in a loud and angry voice: Kingsley.  He was usually so laid back that she thought him incapable of shouting, but he was certainly doing so now.

“You six are on this task force because you’re supposed to be some of the best the Auror department has; I shouldn’t need to remind you that we are to uphold the Statute of Secrecy!  Setting a trap for a dangerous Death Eater in the middle of a Muggle inhabited area, and in the middle of the day . . . that was stupid.  Using Potter as bait in a plan that only had the slightest possibility of working? Irresponsible.  Allowing anyone to walk into the middle of your sting – particularly a famous Quidditch player – is getting damn close to reckless endangerment.  You lot are lucky that nothing worse happened to Ginny Weasley because Jordana Makarios, for one, wouldn’t drop the matter until you were all sacked.”

Several seconds of heavy silence followed Kingsley’s words before he continued.

“Lestrange would love for every single one of you to get thrown off this case.  By the time we would be able to get a new team together, she could be hidden out in South America.  She could easily prove you right, Potter.”

“She had a good go at proving it today before everyone else showed up,” Harry said, unlike Kingsley, he was not shouting, making him a little harder to hear, but the grim tone of his voice was easy to make out.  Tougas, who spoke next, was much easier to hear.

“She only had a go because you gave her the chance, Potter.  Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t have let Weasley out of that flat.  A sensible person would have alerted us at once so we could scrap the mission and set a trail of disinformation to lead Lestrange away from the Muggles.  Instead of doing that, you send Weasley right into her crosshairs.  D’you get off on saving that girl, or what?”

Another loud thump echoed throughout the kitchen and for the second time in as many hours a chair toppled noisily to the floor.

Ginny started to slowly inch away from the door, not sure she needed or wanted to hear more.  Tougas had it wrong.  Harry hadn’t been the insensible one, she had.  They already knew that something was going to happen; otherwise they wouldn’t have put up protections at the Burrow.  She had completely ignored that rather obvious fact and went stupidly over to Harry’s flat where he confirmed that he already knew, and that if they were right, Lestrange’s arrival would be imminent.  And what did she do instead of listening to him?  She dropped a bombshell.  Smart, that!

“Potter, Tougas, sit down,” Kingsley barked.  A few seconds passed in which Ginny could almost see the two men glaring at each other, wands raised, before she heard chair legs scraping the floor.

“We’ve got too much to do and the last thing either Dawlish or I need is to have you two at each other’s throats.  Understood?” Kingsley asked in a deadly serious voice.

Harry and Tougas both agreed, somewhat grudgingly.

“Last warning,” Kingsley emphasized before returning to his laid back voice.  “Until we know otherwise, let’s assume that Potter is right and that Lestrange is showing an unusual amount of interest in Ginny Weasley.  We’ve got to keep her out of sight, agreed?” The other Aurors did.  “We already know that Lestrange is keeping a close eye on the houses of the other Weasleys and has broken through one set of protections already.“ That explained why they were all here, then, Ginny thought.  “This house might lack a certain comfort to it, but as the Fidelius Charm is still in place it offers the best protection.  We have one snag, though.”

“There’s always one,” Brazill said.

“We’d have caught Lestrange ages ago if there wasn’t, Pam,” replied Schultz.

“Agreed.  Here’s the snag: Potter’s cousin, Dudley Dursley, has gone missing since yesterday morning, and we think he might be trying to meet up with Lestrange again.  He hasn’t yet, which is our good fortune.  We’ve got to find him and we have precious little time to do it.  Dawlish, Schultz, Brazill, I’m putting you in charge of finding him.  Tougas you stay here, we need a lookout in case she gets Dursley past our nets like she did with Ikey.”  More chairs scraped the floor, nearly drowning out Kingsley’s last words.  “No, Tonks I don’t want you out in the field just yet.  I’m having Briony fireproof the reports and Floo them over here.  And you,” he seemed to be addressing Harry.  “Go make sure Weasley’s really OK.  The last thing I need is to deliver more bad news to Jordana Makarios today.”

Ginny was just able to make it out of the way before the door swung open and the first group of people walked out.  Brazill and Schultz smiled quickly at Ginny before they headed up the stairs after Dawlish, who hadn’t even seen her.  Kingsley and Tonks came out at nearly the same time.

“Ginny?” Tonks asked, shocked.  She covered the distance and gave her a hug.  “Did the healer really say that everything is all right?”

Ginny nodded.

“You’re extremely fortunate,” Kingsley said in his slow voice, looking at the kitchen door and then at her, and she was sure she knew what this was about.  He was wondering how much she’d heard.  She was grateful when he decided to overlook it.  “From what everyone tells me, it was a very near miss.  You will be more careful in future?”

Ginny nodded again, thinking about Ikey.  She wondered if she dared admit she’d been listening in, but decided to take the chance.  “How did Jordana take it when you told her about Ikey?”

“We had to call a healer to sedate her,” he said somberly.  “They were trying to adopt, weren’t they?”

“Yes.  Jordana said they were supposed to start visiting Muggle foster homes next month.”  Ginny couldn’t help a small smile as the thought of the excited way Jordana had talked about it.  To show such vulnerability was completely against Jordana’s tough and gruff exterior, and she’d taken some good-natured ribbing from the team for it.  Ginny felt a sudden desire to talk to her manager, to offer whatever words of comfort that she could.

The kitchen door creaked open and Harry stepped out, looking irritated.   He hadn’t immediately seen her, but when he did the irritation vanished, replaced by the same worried expression he’d been wearing before Kingsley dragged him down into this meeting.  Tonks and Kingsley started up the stairs.

“Is everything OK?” Harry asked before their robes had whipped out of sight.

“Fine.  Fine.”  Ginny returned to her seat on the stairs, careful to sit a little away from the handrail.  She felt like a weight had settled on her chest and was trying to force the air out of her lungs.  After all the danger she had put them in, did she really deserve Harry’s worried look?  “I’m sorry, Harry.”

“What for?” he asked, sitting down beside her and taking her hand.

“Where should I start?” she asked bleakly.  “Bad timing, ignoring your advice, causing you so much trouble with Kingsley.”

“If I hadn’t been a git and said . . . what I said . . . You don’t have to apologize to me.  It should be me saying I’m sorry, again.”

Harry was at least partly right, and Ginny accepted his apology, such as it was; but saying that she had nothing to apologize for?  That was taking it a little too far.  She started to say something, but then stopped herself, knowing how it would go if she pressed the matter: they would end up having a row, and they’d explored that road way too much in the last months.  She sighed heavily and pressed her hand to her abdomen, willing the baby to move again.

“Are you sure that everything’s all right?” Harry asked, looking even more concerned.  “Should we maybe get another healer -?”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” she said.  Harry continued to look doubtful, prompting further explanation.  “I’ve been getting this tingling feeling all day and Adrasteia, the healer, told me that it was the baby starting to move.”  She wanted to say so much more, but held back.  Harry’s almost total lack of reaction was most unhelpful.  For several minutes he continued to watch her, but didn’t betray what he was thinking by word or deed.  It was agony, worrying about whether she should have said anything at all.

“You told me Ikey’s known since the Semi-finals, right?  How long have you known, then?”

“She’s the one who told me,” Ginny said, staring at a chip in the paneling several inches to her left.

“How come you’re only getting round to telling me now?” Harry didn’t sound angry.  A little disappointed, but definitely not furious.  Ginny wasn’t sure if this was better or worse.

“I haven’t been trying to hide anything from you, honestly, but every time I tried to tell you, something always got in the way.”  She chewed her lip for a moment and then decided that since the cat was out of the bag, she might as well confess everything.

The whole fiasco had started the night of the Quidditch semi-final.  Ikey had been beside herself when she told Ginny that she was ‘with child.’  She’d hurried off almost at once, leaving Ginny alone to consider this news.  She didn’t doubt Ikey for a second, at least not that night.  Strange Ikey might be, but she wouldn’t have a laugh about something like this when she and Jordana were so desperate for a child of their own.  Ginny’s initial intention had been to tell Harry at once; but, she reasoned, it was hardly the sort of thing to tell someone after what had just happened with the appearance of the Dark Mark, and Colin’s abduction.

After that Ginny had spent at least the next fortnight battling two conflicting thoughts.  On the one hand she could almost completely convince herself that Ikey’s own desperation to have a child made her read the test results wrong The rest of the time she was either angry about how she could have let this happen, or worrying about how a baby would affect everything, from her already strained relationship with Harry, and her Quidditch career, to what Percy would have to say.  It was these worries that always made her hesitate, allowing for so many interruptions.

Harry let Ginny talk herself into silence, and even then waited a bit before speaking.

“I understand, but I still wish you’d told me sooner.”

“Me, too,” she admitted.

Taking ten minutes to explain several months worth of behaviour hardly made everything all right, but finally getting everything out in the open made the heavy weight seem a little lighter.  She was even able to smile weakly at Harry, who was watching her closely.  It wasn’t going to be easy, but she wondered if what happened in the last few days hadn’t caused irreparable damage to their relationship.

“I don’t mean to press the point, Gin,” he said, not returning her smile.  “But as far as I know Tougas just grabbed a healer at random.  Are you sure she knew what she was talking about?”

“I trust her,” Ginny replied.  She’d had the same doubts in the beginning, of course, but Adrasteia had definitely put them to rest.

“Hermione said she wasn’t here that long, though, and that she was in a hurry.  It doesn’t sound like she had much time to –“

“Harry, stop.”  Ginny put her hand on his arm.  “She’s not one of your Muggle ‘doctors.’  It doesn’t take as long for healers to do their job, remember?  She was in a hurry, but she didn’t leave until she did a thorough exam.  And I told her everything.”  She put particular emphasis on this last word because she had a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling she knew what Harry was leading up to.  After spending the better part of two days trying very hard not to recall those events, and having so recently talked about it with Adrasteia, Ginny couldn’t allow herself to be dragged down that road again, least of all with Harry.  She waited on tenterhooks for a few seconds to see if he was going to pursue the topic anyway, but thankfully he seemed to have caught her meaning and said nothing else.

“Why are you two hiding down here?”  With identical movements, Ginny and Harry twisted and craned their necks to look at Ron, who was standing at the top of the stairs with a bewildered look on his face.  “Mum and Hermione have been going spare, thinking that the two of you scarpered.”

Right on cue, Hermione hurried around the corner, out of breath.

“Did you find – oh.  What are you two doing hiding down there?”

“We weren’t hiding,” Harry said, standing up and holding out his hand to Ginny.  After a second’s hesitation, she took it.  “We were talking.”

“You could have done that up here with the rest of us,” Ron said grumpily.

“Not with the way you were going off on mum,” Ginny replied flatly.  Things might be looking up, but her sense of humor hadn’t quite returned.

Word that they hadn’t fled preceded Harry and Ginny as they followed Ron and Hermione up to the second floor landing.  In the minutes they had spent talking the rest of the family had moved from the somewhat cramped room on the first floor, to the tapestry room on the second.

It had been some time since Ginny had been in this room, but very little had changed.  The Black Family Tree still hung in its place of prominence, though it was now hidden by a new set of dark red curtains.  The same material had been used on the window coverings, finally replacing the doxy-eaten ones that had hung in here during Sirius’s occupancy.  There were no dust bunnies, and no cobwebs hanging in the corners or under the furniture anymore, either.  That, Ginny knew, was thanks to Dobby, who had done a favor for Harry and helped Kreacher get the place ready for Dudley’s arrival.  Gritting her teeth at the thought, Ginny cast another glance around.  The room was cleaner than she’d ever seen, and the curtains gave it a new life, but the threadbare furniture remained exactly where it had been the first time she’d set foot in this house nearly seven years earlier.

Ron chivvied Ginny and Harry into the two wing backed chairs that were placed most prominently in the room before he and Hermione sat down at the end of one of the sofas, shortly followed by Lupin and Tonks, now holding Teddy in her arms.  Fred and George had let Riley and Simon down and the toddlers were now running around the room, brandishing the least dangerous fake wands that the joke shop offered.  Ron waited for everyone to find a seat before he looked pointedly at Harry and Ginny and asked a question he’d obviously been holding onto for days.

“Something strange is going on between you two.  Mind letting us know what it is?”  He ignored the angry look that Hermione was giving him, instead looking from Ginny to Harry and back again as though he would be able to read the truth that way.  “You know he showed up at our place the other night looking like he’d just swam the length of the Black Lake, right?”

Ginny cast a sideways glance at Harry’s closed expression.  They’d told her as much when she Flooed to find out if Harry had been there.

“Yes, I know,” she said quietly.  With the exception of those first hours after that nightmarish experience with Dudley, Ginny’s thoughts had been directed at thoughts other than how Harry had been dealing with what he saw.  She’d worried herself sick about what he might have saw, and how he possibly could have misconstrued it, a worry turned to reality hours later when she saw him at the Ministry.  Too much had happened since then for her to dwell on what he might be thinking, but now she guessed that what he saw might be haunting him nearly as much as it was her.

“Care to explain what happened, then?” Ron asked again.

“Ron!” Hermione sounded angry.  “Maybe that’s personal and we should just -”

“Don’t you find it a bit odd that the night after he shows up at our place without a reason, Ginny’s suddenly moved back into the Burrow.”  Ron had rounded on Hermione, looking every bit as angry as she sounded.

Having learned from experience how horribly wrong things could go if they were not nipped in the bud, Ginny cleared her throat loud enough that she stopped Ron and Hermione’s bickering.  With as much bravery as she could muster, she said, “I’m pregnant.”

Someone might have cast a Silencing Charm on the room.   Even Riley and Simon had stopped chasing each other round the room with their fake wands and were standing in front of their parents, looking around in confusion.

Feeling as though she was standing in a very hot spotlight, Ginny looked away from the family, all staring at her with their mouths open, to Harry who had his head bent and was examining his hands, and at last to her mother, the only other person who had known the truth.  When she saw Ginny look at her, Molly shot her an encouraging smile, which helped to ease the nerves a little.

“Ha.  I said to give it a year! That’s ten galleons to me,” Fred said gleefully, holding out his hand to George.

“Not now, you two,” Molly said, exasperated at Fred and George’s joke.  Ginny, however, found herself smiling.  She had completely forgotten Fred’s comment when she first told them that she and Harry were officially living together.

“Don’t tell me that’s what this is all about,” Ron said, his ears starting to go red.  “You walked out on her when she told you?”

“He didn’t know until today,’ Ginny said, speaking before Harry could.  In her effort to circumvent another row, she had unwittingly invited more questions about what had happened that night.  Harry looked at her with ill-disguised shock.

“But . . . you’ve known for ages,” Hermione said, looking confused.  “Haven’t you?”

Ginny nodded with the utmost reluctance.  Every answer was digging her deeper into a hole she might not be able to get out of without revealing the awful truth.

“Then what was going on the other night?” Ron asked.  For the first time Ron and Percy wore similar looks of displeasure and suspicion.

“Its personal,” Harry said, taking Ginny’s hand and squeezing it in a reassuring manner.  “I mean, we’d rather not -”

“Its personal if you don’t show up and bang down doors in the middle of the night,” Ron said, shaking off Hermione’s restraining arm and standing up.  “I want to know what you’re doing to my sister, Harry.”

“That’s something we’d all like to know,” Percy said.  He was sitting in the chair closest to the door and wearing the suspicion he reserved just for Harry.  What was different this time was that he was not alone in his suspicion.  Ron continued to scowl in the same way, Bill had leaned forward in his seat, watching Harry closely, and even Arthur was giving them his full attention.  Such behaviour was usual from Percy, but not from the others.  Ginny glanced at Harry gratefully when he squeezed her hand.

Teddy chose that very moment to fuss, drawing everyone’s attention from Harry and Ginny.  Tonks, who looked like she was completely absorbed in her son, smiled at them in an apologetic sort of way.  She adjusted the bundle in her arms, and then asked a question that showed she had been listening to everything.

“If you’ve known for a while, how come you’ve only told Harry today?”

If Percy had asked this question it would have been an accusation, but Tonks was asking merely for the purpose of understanding.  Ginny still hesitated, and for the first time, tightened her grip on Harry’s hand.  She didn’t think she could bear telling the story again today, especially to the entire family. She had a shrewd suspicion that Percy would turn it around and find Harry at fault.  The others might agree with him, but if they didn’t they would certainly voice their opinions, thereby starting an argument.

“She was scared of how he’d react, I dare say,” Percy replied smugly.  He waited to continue until he had everyone’s attention.  “Haven’t I been saying for years that trouble was going to come of this connection?  Personal business, I ask you?

“What are you really saying, Perce?” Bill asked, a warning in his tone that Percy ignored completely.

“Look at the state she’s in,” he said, waiving his hand in Ginny’s direction.  “D’you really believe his story that they just happened to have a run in with Bellatrix Lestrange?  Is it not more likely that he did it himself?”

Percy had finally crossed the line he’d been treading for several years.  Harry jumped to his feet, pulling Ginny with him.  Fred and George both shouted ‘Oi’, Bill, Lupin and Arthur joined Ron and Harry in getting to their feet.  Lupin looked disgusted, Bill uncertain – he kept turning his head from Percy to Harry as though not sure who he wanted to confront.  Arthur headed straight for Percy and touched him on the shoulder; he jerked his head to the side, indicating that Percy was to follow, which he did, but not before he cast one last glance in their direction, leaving Ginny with the distinct impression that he believed every word he said.

For a moment the attention of everyone in the room was focused on Arthur and Percy’s muffled footsteps as they headed down the stairs, but as they faded attention returned to the people still in the room.

“Does he have it right, Gin?” Bill asked.  She could tell that he didn’t want to believe Percy, but if she said was true, he would believe her.

“Course he doesn’t,” Ron replied.  He addressed his next question to Harry.  “He doesn’t, does he?”

“Of course he doesn’t,” Ginny said sharply.  She was answering Bill’s question, not Ron’s.   He watched her closely for a while. It looked to Ginny like he was waiting for her to blink, turn her eyes away, or make some other move that would indicate she was lying.  Only after what felt like an excruciating amount of time did he finally nod, at last convinced that Percy was indeed mad.

“Believe, me, I would never –“ Harry started to say, but Ron held up his hand and nodded apologetically.

“Shouldn’t we be worrying more about Bellatrix Lestrange and the Death Eaters?” Hermione asked, keen to change topics.

“They can’t get in here, remember,” Ron said, putting an arm around her shoulder, but she shook him off.

“They could if one of the secret keepers were to give them our location, Ron.”

“But we’re all –“

“No, we’re not all here.  Harry, where’s Dudley?”

Ginny felt a lurch in her stomach that she knew had nothing to do with the baby.  If Hermione had hoped to calm everyone down, she had chosen exactly the wrong thing to seize on, although she couldn’t possibly know that.   Harry’s grip on her hand tightened painfully and Ginny had to shake her arm hard to get him to let go.  Lupin, who had finally resumed his seat, was on his feet again, and appeared to be ready with restraints if the need arose.

When Harry looked back at her, it was easy for Ginny to see the battle he was fighting with himself.  On the one hand, Ron and Hermione were his best friends and he would surely want to tell them everything that had happened, but on the other hand, he knew that Ginny didn’t want the others to know.  Before they had worked out any way to answer Hermione’s question without revealing those things that they didn’t want to, Hermione asked another question.

“The reason he’s not here . . . It doesn’t have anything to do with why you showed up at our house the other night, does he?”  The slight downturn of her mouth, the vaguely greenish hue of her skin, and the grimace of understanding convinced Ginny that Hermione’s question was not merely rhetorical.  It was inexplicable how she had worked it out, but if she could then so could the others.

Feeling definitely ill, Ginny backed away a few steps, increasing the space between her and Harry.  She closed her eyes quickly, reminding herself that to remain calm she had to take deep breaths.  Bill covered the distance between them in several long strides, put a finger under Ginny’s chin and tilted her head up so that she was looking directly at him.  “What is it?  Did he . . . Dudley . . . do something?”

Her bottom lip betrayed her and started shaking.  Ginny bit down on it, but it was too late, Bill had already seen, and from the tightening of his facial muscles, she was sure he had come to the same conclusions as Hermione.

“Is that why it took you so long to tell Harry, because you were worried that the baby might not be his?” he asked, the very beginnings of disgust starting to mar his worried expression.

Her stomach was churning now, but Ginny tried her best to keep it together, shaking her head vigorously.

“I knew for a long time before he . . . before . . . “ She gripped the back of the chair tightly for support, and tried to slow her rapid breathing and racing heart.  Harry took her hand from the back of the chair and squeezed it, obviously hoping that this would provide as much comfort as it had done before.

Ginny was only vaguely aware of the pressure on her hand as every block she’d tried to put up over the last several days seemed to cave in.  She couldn’t stop the flood of unwanted memories: the frustration of Harry not being there again, the bottle of Butterbeer that Dudley had taken an inordinate amount of time to open, how ill she’d felt after drinking it, how she’d fallen asleep on the sofa and was shaken awake by Harry . . . though this time there was no woozy, cloudy feeling.  She could see everything the way it must have truly happened.  It hadn’t been Harry who had awaken her, who had kissed her, carried her to his bed, and started removing her clothes . . .

“Ginny?”

This was Harry, holding her hand and looking at her with concern.  It wasn’t the one she’d seen as though through a fog.  The momentary flash of anger when their eyes met told her that he knew exactly what she’d been thinking.

“I knew,” she said so that only he could hear.  “I knew it wasn’t you and I didn’t do anything to stop it.”

When Harry’s grip on her hand loosened, Ginny pulled it away and dashed from the room.  She knew that her father and Percy had gone downstairs, and with no desire to run into them, she went up; past the second landing with the room that Ron and Harry used to share, and to the third where there was a loo just across from the room that she and Hermione had slept in.  She barely had time to slam the door before she became violently ill.

She hadn’t eaten anything yet, but that didn’t mean she was done retching quickly.  It took a long time before Ginny was able to draw a proper breath, pull herself up and have a glass of water, and even longer before she could finally face leaving the bathroom.   Opening the door she could hear shouting from several floors below, some from the portrait of Sirius’s dead mum and, much nearer, Bill and Ron.  A leaden feeling weighed her down as she hesitated on the top of the staircase, debating about returning to the rest of her family, but found she couldn’t face it.

Retreating several paces, Ginny opened the door to the bedroom and walked in.  Like the tapestry room, the most obvious signs of neglect (holey curtains and dusty surfaces) were gone, but the furniture remained the same, right down to the full-length mirror she’d stood before the night that Harry had come to tell her they were leaving Grimmauld Place to track down the Horcruxes.

Ginny walked over to the mirror and stared into it, not seeing her reflection, but rather remembering that night almost exactly five years ago.  She touched her fingers to the glass, thinking about the determined look on Harry’s face as he’d opened the door.  She had known what he was going to say before he did, and had felt a slight panic start to set in.  No one knew then how things were going to end, and the odds were stacked decidedly against them.  She hadn’t known if she would ever see Harry, Ron or Hermione again.

Though she hadn’t intended for any such thing to happen, the fear had pushed Ginny to do something she might not otherwise have done.  She prayed that everyone would return safe, but just in case . . . She didn’t want to be left with a life full of ‘what its.’  And for the most part she hadn’t regretted her decision to take Harry to her bed that night, except perhaps during a few of the darker moments immediately after she found out she was pregnant.

Ginny moved away from the mirror and traced a hand lightly over the quilt, moving from the head to the foot of the bed, thinking.  One got to know a great many intimate details about a person in five years, and she knew everything about Harry: his scent, the way he felt sleeping next to her, the particular cadence in his voice that gave her goose bumps.  She knew those things better than she knew herself sometimes, and yet she hadn’t stopped things even though she knew it was all wrong.  She’d let it happen.

The shouting had stopped, making the creaking of a floorboard seem oddly amplified.  Ginny lifted her head and looked in the mirror.  Harry was standing there, reminding her very much of that night five years ago.  She half expected him to say that he, Ron and Hermione were leaving to hunt Horcruxes.  She busied herself with pulling a stray thread from the quilt.

“I . . . er . . . had to tell them. Gin,” he said, slowly coming into the room and stopping several feet from Ginny.  She didn’t turn around.  “I’m sorry.”

Ginny watched him in the mirror, continuing to slowly pull at the thread.

“I’ve asked them not to bring it up though,” he continued, stuffing his hands in his pockets.  “I think Molly has them convinced not to mention it.”

Ginny nodded mutely, still not turning around.  She wasn’t too worried about the rest of the family, though it would, truthfully, be awkward for the next few days, but if they got too out of hand she could always pull out her old Bat Bogey Hex.  They weren’t the one’s she had betrayed so heinously.

“It might be good thing that they know.  That way everyone is having a lookout for him,” Harry continued, in a would-be casual voice, taking a few steps closer to her.  “If he tries to get in here . . . the more eyes the better, right?”

“Harry, d’you remember what I told you the other day at the Ministry?” Ginny asked ignoring everything he’d just said.

“That you thought it was me,” he replied quietly, coming closer still.  “You were right.  It was because of that potion.”

Her hand shook slightly as she finally pulled the thread free and stared down at it.  “Potion or not, I still knew that it wasn’t you, but I let it happen . . . It’s my fault!”

Except for a few minor bumps in the road, Ginny thought she’d managed to keep everything together rather well.  But now, standing in a room filled with the ghosts of her past the very last thread of restraint broke and she nearly fell to the floor, her body wracked with sobs.  She couldn’t even muster the strength to push Harry away when he wrapped his arms around her, began stroking her hair and answering her repeated murmurs of blame with reassurances that it was not her fault.

Whether they stood there for a minute, or ten, or more, Ginny was never sure.  Whatever Harry tried to tell her to the contrary, she continued to believe that she was quite undeserving of his attention, a thought that did nothing to bring an end to her uncontrollable sobs..

When at last Ginny had regained a modicum of calm, Harry held out his hand to her and jerked his head in the direction of the door.  She hesitated it taking it, thinking that they might be safer if she wasn’t around to get Harry in dangerous situations.  And, she thought as she watched their reflections in the mirror, it might be easier to get over what happened with Dudley if they weren’t there to serve as constant reminders.  In the end, though, she couldn’t even force herself to say the words, and with a heavy sigh she put her hand into Harry’s and let him lead her from the room.

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