“You stupid girl!”
The fallen man’s words reached Ginny through the din of passing motorists, loud music from the pub next door, and the raucous laughter of a group of teenagers across the street. She paused mid-sprint to consider apologizing to him, but decided to continue on. It was probably better that she did because she felt a strong urge to hit something or someone; an already agitated Muggle would do as well as anyone else. Ginny pushed herself to run faster and within seconds was halfway down the alley. She stopped at nearly the precise spot she’d appeared not so long ago and leaned against the wall of the apartment building, hidden from the street by a large rubbish bin. She desperately wanted to return to the Burrow again but needed a moment to collect her thoughts and catch her breath. It would be the perfect end to her outing if she ended up splinching herself.
Collecting her thoughts proved harder than Ginny would have believed. Now she was standing still every thought that she’d been pushing aside since waking up threatened to overwhelm her, making her realize that the Muggle man wasn’t wrong, she was stupid. How could she have thought that telling Harry about her pregnancy would magically repair everything? The things that happened with Dudley and Lestrange had been the final straw, but things hadn’t been great with Harry for months now. Ever since he joined the task force their relationship had been one continuous fight. And if that wasn’t bad enough they had somehow lost their trust in each other. First, Harry hadn’t believed her when she told him about Dudley’s invasion of her privacy, the he agreed that something was off, yet he jumped to the vilest conclusion, and wouldn’t even give her a chance to explain. He had gone even farther than that, though, when he had implied that he thought her a whore.
Harry’s voice echoed loudly off the stone and brick in the alley. Ginny poked her head around the rubbish bin in time to see him skid around the corner, slipping on a loose rock and nearly falling. His head was turning in all directions and as a result it took several seconds for him to see her. In that time her fingers itched and Ginny started to raise her wand, intending to jinx him. Harry paused for a second and let out a breath, though he didn’t take his eyes off her.
“You have a hell of a lot of nerve following me after everything you’ve said and done,” Ginny said, her voice bouncing off the walls of the buildings. She stepped out from beside the rubbish bin as she adjusted her wand so she had a firmer grip on it. Her voice was steady, all of her anger directed into her grip which was so tight that her wand was vibrating. Harry opened his mouth to say something but Ginny raised her wand threateningly. She’d had enough of his words for a while.
Whether it was because he understood her thoughts, or because he just didn’t have anything else to say, Harry didn’t speak. Instead he covered the remaining distance between them, seized her by the wrist and started back down the alley. They had already gone half a dozen feet before Ginny could attempt to wrench her hand free. When those attempts failed, she tried to dig in her heels so that he couldn’t keep moving forward, but couldn’t get enough traction to do so. As a last resort she used her free hand to hit him hard on the arm hoping that he would let her go. It didn’t work, but it did make him stop and turn around.
“You’re pissed off, I get that, but now isn’t the time to discuss –“
“I have no interest in discussing anything else with you.” Ginny finally managed to pull her hand free, stumbling backwards in the process. “You’re the one who followed me remember.”
“Obviously I did,” Harry said exasperatedly. “D’you really think that I would have let you leave alone when we don’t know who’s lurking out here?”
“Obviously,” Ginny repeated, the tone of her voice betraying her annoyance. She should have known, really. The only time she could count on Harry being there was when he had a chance to exhibit what Hermione called his ‘saving people thing.’ She looked up and down the alley, seeing no one apart from herself and Harry, and nothing out of place. “No one there. You can go back to your ridiculous stakeout and I’ll just -“
“Don’t be stupid, Ginny!”
Harry’s timing was unfortunate. He chose that minute to give the alley another anxious, sweeping glance. Ginny could hear the pounding of her heart as it echoed in her ears, and she could feel the flush on her face. She snatched her hand away from Harry again and before she fully grasped what she was doing, she had formed a fist and took a swing. Her knuckles collided painfully with the underside of Harry’s jawbone, the sound echoing throughout the alley. She had hit him with enough force to force him to stumble backwards several steps. He might have made some sort of comment or noise but Ginny, nursing her smarting hand, was using whatever was left of her concentration to finally Disapparate.
“Nicely done, Weasley!”
Ginny spun on her heel to find the previously empty alley blocked by the appearance of half a dozen people. In front was a woman about two heads taller than Ginny herself, her scraggly hair making her look even taller. Her wand was resting against her chest, and she had a sinister smile on her face. Ginny took a step back, accidentally stepping on Harry’s foot. At once she felt an arm circle around her waist, and she could feel his breath on the top of her head.
“Well, well, look what we have here,” Bellatrix Lestrange said, taking a step away from the other Death Eaters towards Harry and Ginny. “The Fates are smiling on us today. We came only to get Potter, but now we’re presented with an opportunity to rid the world of a filthy blood traitor.”
The movement of Bellatrix’s arm was only a blur before she was flung across the alley in a spinning motion. She had no control over her momentum and therefore crashed hard into the wall, crushing her already injured hand against the bricks as she tried to stop herself. She felt the crack of the bones in her wrist and her wand fell to the ground. She spun around to face the alley, to get her bearings as she retrieved her wand. Her vision was filled by Tonks’ heart-shaped face and spiky pink hair. Tonks pushed Ginny towards the street with a motion that clearly said ‘don’t stay.’
Ginny opened her mouth to argue just as a spell flew towards them, missing her head by inches. It cracked the wall, causing a sizable brick to fall, hitting her on the shoulder and then rolling off to hit her already broken wrist. She couldn’t suppress a cry of pain.
“Get out of here, and quick,” Tonks said, giving Ginny another push towards the street where a whole crowd of Muggles was standing, their mouths hanging open.
Nursing her throbbing wrist, Ginny started to do just as Tonks said. She would rather not have to leave at all, but logically knew it was better that she did. Whatever use she might have been was canceled by her injury. She couldn’t duel with a broken wrist. Having to perform spells left-handed was always a spotty proposition, and she didn’t fancy having to try it when faced with Death Eaters who were better trained and more vicious. She had reached the crowd of Muggles when she remembered that she hadn’t picked up her wand. Turning around, she saw it lying about a dozen feet away. The Death Eaters already outnumbered the Aurors; they didn’t need the advantage of a forgotten wand.
A rainbow of light filled the alley from various spells. Farther down the alley the air was thick with dust and it took Ginny several seconds to realize the source: bricks. The Death Eaters, probably inspired by the initial misfired spell that had caused her injury, were now almost exclusively causing bricks from both the apartment building and the pub to fall. The Aurors were responding by either making the bricks explode into small pebble sized fragments, or transfiguring them into a less injurious weapon. Both sides were far too busy to see her dart into the alley and retrieve her wand.
Keeping her eyes focused on the duel, Ginny darted down the alley and snatched up her wand. It was as she was straightening up that she heard a loud echoing bang and then the unmistakable sound of falling brick. It was hard to tell where it was coming from exactly because of the alley’s acoustics, but it sounded close. She looked around and was about to look up when something smashed the top of her head and she plunged into darkness.
The next thing Ginny knew was searing pain in her ribcage, and a suffocating clog of her lungs. It felt like she had the weight of a house on her chest. She wasn’t sure she had opened her eyes at first because everything remained black. A scraping noise sounded just above her, as though someone was trying to move the bricks, and then a dusty, dingy light appeared, growing quickly from a shaft to a window as more of the bricks were removed. Ginny tried to take a deep breath and in the process inhaled a mouthful of dust which made her cough, sending another stabling pain through her lungs.
“You should have taken a lesson from your mediwitch, you foolish girl. She stayed dead.” It was hard to see for all the dust in the air, but the straggly hair was as unmistakable as the voice, and Ginny could see that Bellatrix had a wand directed at her face. “Not to worry though. That error will be corrected now.”
The dust had cleared just enough to show spells continuing to fly at the opposite end of the alley. However much time had passed it looked to Ginny like the Death Eaters were still engaging the other Aurors. If she was going to get out of this she was going to have to do it herself. She could feel her wand clutched firmly in her left hand and used more strength than she thought she had left to pull it free, scraping off several layers of skin in the process. Ginny tried to hold her wand aloft and keep her eyes on Bellatrix as she used her legs to try and kick off the bricks pinning her legs to the ground. Bellatrix raised her wand, a sinister, self-satisfied smile on her face, and a deadly spell on the tip of her tongue.
The curse never came. Two shadows darkened the space between Ginny and Bellatrix. In the blink of an eye Bellatrix disappeared and the first of the two men flew past Ginny landing on his front about two feet past her; the second was closely followed by the rest of the Aurors. It wasn’t until he leaned down in front of her that she recognized Harry. He didn’t say anything as he used his wand to clear away the rest of the debris covering her. Ginny at once tried to get to her feet but the sharp stabbing pain in her chest made it hard to breathe and even harder to move. In a flash there was a person standing on either side of her. They grasped her by the elbows and with one swift movement set Ginny back on her feet.
“Why the bloody hell are you still here?” Tonks asked, letting go of Ginny’s elbow. She sounded cross, but relieved.
“I forgot my wand,” Ginny said faintly, hearing the wheeze in her own voice.
“You forgot your wand?” Tonks sounded incredulous as she looked from Ginny to Harry and then back again. “You could have got yourself – No. You nearly got yourself killed.”
Ginny opened her mouth, intending to offer her explanation, but the deep breath that she tried to take increased the sharp pain in her chest and she gasped.
“We’ll talk about this later,” Harry said. It wasn’t a question. Unlike Tonks, he had not let go of Ginny’s elbow and she could feel him watching her.
Tonks looked at him and for a second it seemed like she was going to argue, but when she looked at Ginny her eyes darkened and she nodded.
“Go back to the Burrow,” she said, taking a step closer and pointing her wand at Ginny. “It’s the best place until we can sort everything out. For now though . . . “
“Is that wise?” Harry asked as Tonks twirled her wand and conjured a splint. “Shouldn’t we get her to a healer?” His grip on Ginny’s elbow had tightened, though she didn’t notice it as much as she would usually have done.
“Yes in the long run, but we have to sort out this mess, don’t we?” Tonks made a circular motion with her other hand, referencing the chaos of the alley, and their Muggle audience. “And you know we don’t have the manpower to guard St. Mungo’s if Lestrange were to try some other stupid stunt.”
Without waiting for another response from either Harry or Ginny, Tonks waved her wand and the split wrapped itself around Ginny’s wrist. Then she pressed her wand against Ginny’s broken rib. It burned for a moment and then turned very cold. Ginny had enough experience with broken bones to know what a healing spell felt like. She took an experimental breath and found that it wasn’t entirely painless, but certainly tolerable.
“Thanks,” she said quietly, leaning heavily on Harry as she pressed her aching wrist to her ribs. They didn’t hurt anymore, so she guessed that she might have a bruised lung.
“I’m not great at healing spells.” Tonks replied, shrugging. “Harry’s right. You do need to see a healer to get that wrist looked after, and to make sure everything else is OK. Wrist bones are trickier than the ribs. But since we don’t know what Lestrange is up to. . .” She moved her gaze from Ginny to Harry and back again, clearly wanting to ask a question but her own advice sealed her lips.
The last thing that Ginny saw from the alley was another shared glance between Harry and Tonks. Harry then tightened his grip on her elbow and they both Disapparated. She knew that they were back at the Burrow without having to look for the crooked house. She could hear the birds chirping in the distant trees that hid the clearing they used to play Quidditch. Ginny didn’t notice that Harry had let go of her elbow until she felt his hand on her shoulder. She stared at his hand in confusion for some time before she raised her eyes to look directly at him. He was watching her with his brow furrowed.
“Just before you and Tougas showed up, Bellatrix told me that she killed Ikey. Is that true?” Ginny asked her question before Harry could say whatever it looked like he was getting ready to say. That Bellatrix was more than capable of murder was no surprise, but what was her connection to Ikey?”
“They found her body in the wreckage of the Eiffel Tower,” Harry said, nodding reluctantly.
Ginny stared blankly for a moment feeling like she was missing something, and then the picture of the crumpled metallic latticework came back to her. Though she was fairly certain that she hadn’t seen anything of the sort she could see Ikey’s mangled body skewered on a long piece of metal. However odd the mediwitch could be, she deserved better than that.
“Why?” she asked quietly, swallowing a painful lump in her throat and impatiently wiping away the wetness at the corner of her eye. “Why her?”
“Well . . . “ Harry looked at his feet, scratching the side of his nose. “That was our question as well when we first learned about what happened, but I think . . . She knew about the baby, didn’t she?”
“Yes,” Ginny said, alarmed. “You don’t think that’s why –“
“I dunno. We’ve had our suspicions about her ever since the Quidditch Semi-Finals. Lestrange and Malfoy couldn’t have got in without some sort of inside help. How -”
“She wouldn’t have done anything for them!”
“Maybe not voluntarily, but you know how they work, Gin. If the Death Eaters needed her help they wouldn’t have been above blackmail. How long has she known?”
“Since the Semi-Final.” Ginny recalled Ikey’s grim face as she performed the spells that would confirm the pregnancy. In the months since that night, Ginny had thought a lot about the minutes she and Ikey had spent alone and was sure that the test results were mere confirmation of what Ikey already knew. Jordana wouldn’t be pleased about this news, particularly when it came so soon after telling Ginny not to do something so stupid as getting pregnant. Since Ikey would be the one who had to tell Jordana, it was understandable that she would be grim-faced.
Harry was wearing an expression similar to Ikey’s. Looking at him after wiping another stubborn wet streak on her cheek, Ginny assumed that he was merely lost in thought before she realized what she had said and felt a tingling in her stomach. She’d been worried about how Harry would react when he found out exactly how long she’d known. It looked like she was about to find out.
The breeze felt cool against her damp cheek as Ginny turned to face the crooked house she’d grown up in. Fred and George, both looking peeved, were marching across the yard, closely followed by Lee Jordan and Molly.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked when Ginny turned her back on the approaching quartet, dreading facing her brothers after the disappearing act she’d pulled. Before she could give Harry any sort of answer, the twins were upon them.
“Mind explaining what that bit of lunacy was about?” Fred asked as he and George stopped just a few feet away.
“Yeah, Ginny, what’d Lee ever do to you?” George questioned, sounding just as furious.
“It was a misunderstanding, is all,” she said, not turning around. After all that had happened since she left she didn’t feel like explaining, particularly when a full explanation would involve talking about things she was trying hard to forget.
“What’d she do?” Harry asked. He took a step forward so that he was partially blocking her from Fred and George.
“She didn’t tell you? No, I guess she wouldn’t have done,” George said. “She practically took Lee’s head off with her wand and then she just up and Disapparated. If we hadn’t – ”
“Don’t exaggerate, George,” Ginny said indignantly. She felt bad enough about how she had reacted to Lee’s sympathetic gesture without embellishments.
Fred opened his mouth to continue in an angry tone but when he got a good look at Ginny the words died on his lips and his mouth fell open. George and Lee wore similar expressions.
“Oh, Ginny, what happened?” Molly asked, immediately hurrying over. It looked like she was going to pull Ginny into one of her painful embraces. Harry stuck out his arm to stop her. The twins, apparently over their momentary shock, watched with arms folded and narrowed eyes. They were dividing their attention equally between Harry and Ginny, but it was easy to see whom they were angrier with.
Harry quickly explained what happened in the alley. The minute he mentioned Bellatrix Lestrange Molly gasped and covered her mouth. She looked for a moment like she was going to ignore Harry’s advice and squeeze Ginny to death anyway, but she held herself in check and merely touched Ginny’s arm, a movement that made Ginny flinch in pain.
“How could you have let this happen?” Fred said, angrily turning on Harry, his fists clenched. His explanation had caused the twins tempers to flare. “How could you have let her – “
“He didn’t let me do anything,” Ginny said. It was really annoying when her brothers assumed that she wasn’t capable of making her own decisions. She put a hand on her abdomen to quell the jittery feeling as she stood at full height, drawing strength from her anger.
“We wanted you to set up the spells so that Lestrange couldn’t get in here. Honestly, I would have preferred that she stayed here,” Harry said. He didn’t seem particularly concerned about Fred’s anger. He was watching the hand resting on her abdomen. “You OK?” he asked quietly when he saw her watching him.
“Fine. Really,” she said when he looked like he didn’t believe her. She let her hand fall to her side. She tried to smile in a reassuring way when Harry, instead of giving her sidelong glances, turned to face her directly, looking more concerned.
“I think we should chance St. Mungo’s, Gin,” he said so only she could hear. “You need to see a healer.”
“What’s that?” Lee asked suddenly and loudly. All other conversation broke off and everyone looked where he was pointing. The air all around the Burrow was rippling, distorting the landscape beyond the magical protections.
Harry paused long enough to swear under his breath before grabbing Ginny by her upper arms and placing her in front of the twins, and immediately behind him.
“What’s going on, Harry?” Molly asked the question that Ginny didn’t need to. She knew well enough that look in his eyes. Bellatrix Lestrange was here at the Burrow, and from the looks of things she was about to breach the wards they had set up. Without taking his eyes away from the shadowy figures starting to materialize, Harry filled the others in.
“You’ve got to get out of here,” he said to her, turning away from the breaking wards to take Ginny’s hand.
“She only wants you though,” Ginny replied, pulling her wand from her pocket and clutching it awkwardly in her left hand. You should leave. Maybe then she’ll leave as well.”
“I don’t think so. She wanted you too -”
“The wards are down,” Fred interrupted.
Harry spun around and raised his wand, Ginny followed suit, and she could hear the rustling of clothing as the others behind her did the same. She peered around Harry and saw a crowd of people walking with purpose into the yard. They also had their wands out.
Bellatrix was in the lead, wearing a self-satisfied smile. She looked around with a contemptuous expression, and her lip was curled in a sneer. She was holding her wand at her side as she paced in front of her followers. When she reached one end she would turn and repeat her march, all the time focusing her attention on the Weasleys, Lee and Harry.
“I expected better from you, Potter,” she said, motioning skyward with her wand and sounding truly disappointed. “Breaking these spells was child’s play.”
“Don’t,” Ginny said, putting her uninjured hand on Harry’s arm when he tensed and moved as if he was going to do something rash.
“Ah, the blood traitor is still here. I thought you’d have her under lock and key,” Bellatrix said with relish, a sadistic glint in her eyes. “She goes first.”
The spells began flying.
It was impossible to tell who fired the first spell, but at once Shield Charms were up on both sides, and people were diving for cover. Ginny felt a painful grip on her upper arms and she was dragged backwards.
“Get out of here, Ginny,” Fred said, shooting a stunner at an oncoming Death Eater. “Don’t argue.”
Ginny did as Fred said at once. Any other time she might have ignored him completely, but she knew the dire situation they were in. Five people against at least fifteen, the odds were not in their favor; they could use extra help. With her splinted hand and a wonky wand, she hardly qualified as extra help, but if she could make it into the house she could use the Floo and alert the other Aurors.
Not daring to turn her back on the duelers, Ginny could see everything that was happening. The others were holding off the Death Eaters, but that wouldn’t last. Spells were flying in every direction, rebounding off each other and in just a few seconds Ginny saw several nearly miss her mother, Lee and Harry. After dodging three fired at him in quick succession, one hit Fred and his knees buckled, he fell to the ground. The Death Eater responsible for the spell laughed, but it was cut short when he was hit with a stunner from George. Ginny took an involuntary step forward, whether to try and take Fred’s place, or to help him up, she wasn’t sure. He was already getting back on his feet though.
“Get out of here,” Fred called to her. She nodded, cursing the delay she’d caused, and started hurrying backwards as fast as she could, trying to take in everything and ensure that everyone was still safe.
A bright flash lit up the entire yard and Bellatrix’s shrieking laughter cut through the noise of all the other duelers. Spells stopped flying at once and everyone and turned in time to see Molly crumple to the ground. She didn’t move again. Bellatrix stood immediately in front of her, wand trained on Molly’s head, a savage smile on her face. She was looking right at Ginny.
“Mum, no,” Ginny cried, forgetting all about her original plan as she hurried forward, tightening the grip on her wand. Bellatrix’s smile widened, and she let out another bone-chilling laugh.
“No, Gin.” Harry appeared out of nowhere, grabbing Ginny round the middle and holding her tight so that she couldn’t go any further. She struggled against him, trying to free herself. After everything that Lestrange had got away with, Neville’s parents, all those Muggle-borns, Mad-Eye . . . She wasn’t going to get away with taking Molly, too!
Ginny managed to wiggle free of Harry’s grasp, but had to contend with the twins and Lee, who had closed ranks around them. They would not let her through and she could see Bellatrix raise her wand.
“No!” Ginny cried, mirroring Bellatrix’s motion. “Stupefy!”
Instead of the customary beam of light shooting from her wand and connecting, or being deflected, by Bellatrix, Ginny and the others around her were engulfed in a thick, choking cloud of dust. She started coughing at once as her lungs clogged with dust. She attempted waving her hands to clear the dust, but such action had no effect. She stumbled around blindly, with her eyes closed, trying to recall the direction she had to go to find her mother. People around her were also stumbling and trying to reorient themselves. Their flailing hands fell upon her several times but Ginny was not swayed from her purpose.
Just as Ginny became certain she was heading in the right direction she felt another hand reach out and grab her.
“Let go,” she coughed, trying to shake it off, but as she spoke grip tightened and what remained of the air in her lungs was forced out as she was dragged along with someone as they Disapparated.