A cannon blast seemed the likeliest reason for Ginny’s return to consciousness given how quickly her eyes snapped open. She had been enjoying the soundest sleep in a fortnight and therefore was not immediately aware of her surroundings. The moon provided her enough light to know that she was in her room at the Burrow. Taking a few steadying breaths, Ginny quickly scanned the room and her eyes fell on a head of white blonde hair.
Letting out an audible gasp that sounded more like a whimper she tried to jump out of bed, but got tangled in the sheets and tumbled to the floor. Heart rate increasing and breathing becoming labored she fought for what seemed like minutes to get free of the blankets, finally kicking them off and jumping to her feet. She snatched her wand from the bedside table, expecting to feel one of Dudley Dursley’s chubby fingered hands grab her wrist.
“Lumos,” Ginny cried. She tried to point the tiny beam of light in every direction simultaneously, attempting to ascertain the location of the intruder. She turned full circle, shining the light in all corners of the room.
No one was there.
Ginny didn’t immediately lower her wand but she did realize she had panicked. Dudley could not possibly be here at the Burrow because he had been rotting in a cell in Azkaban for the last fortnight. Feeling both her heart rate and respiration returning to normal, Ginny lit the lamp with a wave of her wand, bathing the room in a soft yellow light. Looking around the she was pleased to see that everything looked the same as it had several hours before when she had gone to sleep. As she made the last turn the wand light fell on the culprit. Sitting on the dresser was her stuffed lion, Gryffin. His golden mane had looked blonde in the moonlight, causing her fright for the first time in her life.
Gryffin was the only remaining item from her childhood. She had not been able to part with him even though the charm that made him roar had long since faded. Her father had given her the stuffed lion the year Percy had left for Hogwarts, but it was only part of the reason she was unable to get rid of him. He had been a constant companion for many years, had been the one she had talked to when her brothers didn’t want her tagging along. It was to Gryffin she had talked for hours about what it would be like when she could finally go to Hogwarts; how he would be her good luck charm; the one that would allow her to become a Gryffindor, like her parents and all of her brothers. If she’d had Gryffin with her during that horrible first year . . . but her brothers had teased her about it so she had only brought that stupid diary. It had also been to Gryffin that she’d first confessed those silly fairy tale fantasies about Harry Potter. That had been before she really knew him.
It was of Harry that Ginny was thinking as she sat down with Gryffin. It hadn’t been that long ago he was up here with her after the Quidditch semi-finals, making fun of Gryffin’s appearance. That memory was soon overpowered by the one Ginny had been dwelling on for weeks. Harry had been holding Gryffin when she woke up that morning. He’d said most everything he wanted to say while staring at this very lion. Then he stood up and rushed out of the Burrow as though it had been on fire. Ginny had wanted very much to run after him, to try and make up for all the missed opportunities, but had decided against it. She had long ago learned that Harry needed time to calm down and think rationally about his hastily made, emotion driven, decisions. The day he had left she had gone back up to her room and stared at Gryffin, waiting for Harry to return to his senses.
A fortnight had passed and she was still waiting.
Gritting her teeth to prevent a frustrated scream from escaping, Ginny threw Gryffin at the window. He bounced off, unharmed, and landed at her feet. She snatched the lion off the floor and threw him behind her, not caring where he ended up. The light in the room dimmed and she heard a small thud. The lamp had been knocked over. She stomped over and righted it, but trod on Gryffin.
Once again she picked him up, wondering if Harry thought he was being brave by continuing to think that the only way to keep her safe was to stay away.
“I’ll give you bravery.” She dug her fingers into the seam on Gryffin’s back and pulled. A satisfyingly loud rip broke the silence. Not stopping to think, she ripped the head off and tossed it aside, where it hit her desk and knocked her Quidditch robes to the floor. She was just working on detaching the left leg when there was a knock on her door.
“What?” she called aggressively.
“Ginny?” Molly asked tentatively. The latch clicked and the door slowly swung inward. She looked around the room, spending a little more time on the pieces of Gryffin strewn about the room. When Molly finally looked at her daughter it could not have been plainer that she was concerned about Ginny’s sanity. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Ginny said, trying to affect a calm demeanor. She was standing in the middle of the room, holding a headless stuffed animal whose left leg was hanging by the fewest of threads. The scene didn’t speak of a relaxed individual at all. “Gryffin and I were just having a little disagreement, is all.”
Her mother didn’t seem to understand the humor in the joke. Her mouth was hanging open as she stepped over the threshold and into the room.
“You – you were what, dear?” Ginny could see her mother wanted to approach more rapidly, but was doing so as if Ginny was a hippogriff that might attack at any moment.
“Just having a mild debate about a few things involving Harry. It’s fine, mum, really.” She followed Molly’s gaze around the room, feeling a sickening sensation start to build in her stomach. Gryffin lay in pieces all around the room. He didn’t deserve this treatment. The people that did were beyond her reach at the moment.
“All right.” Molly took a few more tentative steps closer. “Would you like me to make you a cup of tea, or something?”
Shaking her head, Ginny peered around the room for a third time, looking at the stuffing that had so recently been her favorite plush toy. She avoided looking at her mother, not wanting to see the worried expression on Molly’s face.
“Reparo.” Ginny pointed her wand at Gryffin’s body and all the pieces flew back together, good as new. Giving him a reassuring squeeze, she looked at her mother. “I think I’m just going to try and get some sleep. See you in the morning?”
“Of course.” Molly hesitated for the space of a heartbeat and then came and embraced Ginny tightly, nearly knocking the wind out of her. “Remember sweetie, your dad and I are right downstairs if you need anything.”
Ginny nodded. Blinking furiously and swallowing a huge lump in her throat she forced her face into a large, painful smile. Only when the door closed did she let the smile slip away.
Lying down, Ginny placed Gryffin on the tiny, almost imperceptible swell in her abdomen. She knew she wasn’t going to get any more sleep tonight as she began to think about how she was going to tell Harry about the baby. Two weeks was long enough. She was going to find him and tell him. Then maybe . . . She stopped that line of thought almost at once. Allowing herself to consider what might happen wasn’t going to do any good. Harry might come to his senses when she told him he was going to be a father, but given his behaviour over the last few weeks she couldn’t be sure of that.
Ginny feigned sleep as long as she could, knowing that her mother would not be fooled, but also that Molly wouldn’t question it. Ginny truly appreciated that her mother was running interference for her; it had staved off many of the awkward questions that the rest of the family was dying to ask. She knew that she had to tell the rest of the family what had happened but she was putting it off as long as she could. Wherever Harry was, Ginny hoped he was starting to come to his senses. If he wasn’t there was going to be all sorts of trouble.
When the smell of bacon and eggs drifted up to her room Ginny knew it was time for her to put in her appearance. She hastily dressed in a pair of old sweat pants and a baggy t-shirt. She tried to convince herself it was a coincidence that she had grabbed one of Harry’s old shirts, but there were several others she had discarded before choosing this one. The important thing in the end was that the shirt hid her secret for another day. She wanted to tell Harry first and give him a chance to do the right thing. There would be hell to pay if she told her father and brothers now.
As she descended the last flight of stairs, Ginny heard voices. One was coming from the wireless, but the rest were coming from the kitchen. She could hear an advertisement on the wireless but it was almost completely drowned out by the loud voices of Fred, George, her father and then a vaguely familiar male voice. They all sounded heated.
“ . . . People like him who give us a bad name,” one of the twins was saying.
“Yeah. Pureblood pride my left –“
“George,” Molly said sharply, turning around, pointing her wand at him just as Ginny entered the room. George looked disgruntled at her reprimand but said nothing further.
“Well, well . . . look who’s decided to grace us with her presence,” he said with a huge smile on his face, obviously keen to change topics. Ginny saw that he, Fred and Charlie were sitting in their customary positions at the table. Sitting in Bill’s usual spot was Fred and George’s friend Lee Jordan.
She stopped dead. Whether it was coincidence or not the last two weeks she’d only been around her family. Though she’d known Lee from even before she’d started at Hogwarts seeing him here so out of the blue made her recoil.
In the background the wireless announced that the news programme had returned. Arthur told everyone to quiet down as he used his wand to increase the volume. This prevented any other questions of Ginny.
“ . . . In other news: Minister Shacklebolt continues to deal with the ramifications of his decision to dismiss Senior Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge. While Ms. Umbridge has returned to work, there are those who argue she continues to be persecuted. Speaking to the news media yesterday, Declan Fohn, leader of the pro-pureblood association –“
“Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to come and sit down?” George asked. They had their ears turned to the wireless but everyone was watching her, making an already awkward situation even more uncomfortable. Very reluctantly Ginny took the seat closest to her father. He patted her hand as she glanced nervously at Lee who was sitting on her other side.
Fred, George and Lee exchanged looks, making Ginny lower her eyes. She couldn’t stand to see them all looking like at her like she’d gone mad.
“Here, eat something.” Molly put a plate of food in front of Ginny, who felt and heard her stomach growl. Everything smelled appealing rather than nauseating. This was a good sign.
Molly squeezed her shoulder before walking away. Ginny nibbled as they all sat, listening to the news. A different male voice was speaking, sounding cool and collected even though the reporter was clearly trying to rattle him.
“For years we suffered under the oppression of You-Know-Who. During that time Muggle-borns were in a great deal of danger so it was natural that we purebloods were under scrutiny. The natural order returned for Muggle-borns after the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but it did not for us purebloods. Anyone who displays pride in the purity of their family tree is almost immediately put under investigation by the Ministry of Magic.”
“But, Mr. Fohn, is your association not supporting a woman who was sacked by Minister Shacklebolt for leaking Ministry information to Death Eaters? Your supporters rallied to get her job back. Surely you can understand why people think that you and the other members of the P.P.A are just vying for the role of Chief Death Eater?”
The man laughed. “We have no love for You-Know-Who and while I agree that such a woman would be a danger to our Ministry’s security, the Ministry and the Minister have based their entire case on hearsay. There was no evidence against Ms. Umbridge other than the word of a convicted Death Eater. Had there been any real evidence the Minister surely would not have backed down, and he would have been right not to. Had Dolores Umbridge undeniably committed treason the Minister would have had the full backing of the P.P.A. There was no evidence though. Should we really allow our innocent and valuable Ministry employees to suffer such treatment?”
“He’s a nutter,” Charlie said. “How could anyone possibly think that Umbridge is innocent of anything? She subjected her own niece to Lestrange, didn’t she?”
“Yes. Like I said, it’s the likes of this Fohn guy who give us all a bad name.” Fred had put his fork down and leaned back in his chair, shooting a disgusted look at the wireless.
Ginny continued to eat in silence, listening to everyone debating about the news story, periodically glancing at Lee. He wasn’t watching her, but rather listening to Fred and George. Fred was just wondering aloud of this Fohn had taken a babbling beverage when Ginny reached for the pitcher of juice that Lee had just set down.
“Here.” Smiling, he held the glace out to her. He had a glint in his eyes that Ginny didn’t like at all.
“Get away from me,” she said fiercely, slapping the glass out of his hand. It fell to the floor and smashed, spraying juice over both of them. Silence reigned for three seconds before Fred, George and Charlie all started demanding what she thought she was doing. Ginny, however, was already backing from the room. The last thing she heard before she ran up the stairs was Lee saying, “What did I do?”
After grabbing her wand from the bedside table Ginny paced about the room trying to calm her racing heart. Now she was away from Lee she knew she had overreacted. He had only tried to be helpful, not sneaky and was owed an apology. Ginny started toward the door when the one recollection she’d worked hard to block out returned in full force. Unable to stop herself form being sick she dashed up the stairs, barely making it to the loo. This was an all-too-familiar scene, and precisely the reason Ginny had been trying so hard to block those memories from surfacing.
Not more than a handful of minutes could have passed since she had run out of the kitchen, but it felt much longer to Ginny as she sat on the floor of the loo, wiping her streaming eyes and trying to think of anything else. Nothing would come though and she found herself doing another thing that had become common: showering. She stood under the scalding water for several more minutes, trying to burn the thoughts out of her mind. This, combined with the act of compulsively scrubbing her skin until it was raw, eventually helped, and she was finally able to return to her room where she found her mother waiting with a new tray of food.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, rubbing Ginny’s back comfortingly.
“No. It makes me se it . . . No, I just can’t.” She eyed the breakfast warily; her mother saw her at it.
“I prepared it myself.”
Though she didn’t have much of an appetite, Ginny knew her mother was not going to leave her alone until she ate something. She ate as quickly as she could without receiving admonishments from her mother and then stood up to dress. She had other things to do today. Besides, getting out of the house might do her some good.
“Where are you going?” Molly asked.
“To find Harry. I’m . . . going to tell him today.” Too many times she’d shied away from telling him. Too many times she’d had the opportunity and didn’t take it. Those times had passed. Whatever his decision, Ginny knew she had to tell Harry, not because he had a right to know (though he did) but because she couldn’t keep the pregnancy secret much longer anyway. She stopped very briefly in the kitchen to offer her apologies to Lee before Apparating to the familiar alley outside Harry’s flat. She kept her wand in hand as she walked the short distance to the building.
It had been weeks since she’d been here and her whole world had changed since then. Though she knew it would take a simple Alohomora charm to open the door, Ginny couldn’t bring herself to do it. She wasn’t worried that Dudley would be there but rather that Harry wouldn’t. Not wanting to be alone in the flat she decided to do something she’d never done her before. She knocked.
Ginny pressed her ear to the door in an attempt to determine if there was movement. The flat seemed completely silent. She raised her hand to knock again when there was a scraping noise behind her.
“You’re wasting your time, dear.”
Ginny spun around to see the elderly lady peeking out of number twelve opposite.
“I haven’t seen either of them in a fortnight.”
Feeling her spirits sink Ginny started to thank the elderly woman for her information. She knew that Harry being here would be a long shot. He’d spent two weeks hiding from everyone, hadn’t he? It certainly made sense that the last place he could be found was at his own flat. Anxious to get out of this stuffy building she turned to leave, but the woman was looking her over.
“Come to give him the good news, have you? When are you due?” One hand moved automatically to her stomach while the other curled around her wand. Ginny didn’t know what sort of expression she was wearing but she felt panic start to set in. This woman could not possibly know this. She was unsure of how to react when the aged woman smiled in a matronly manner. “Five children, fourteen grandchildren – all girls. You have the glow, dear.”
Ginny relaxed the grip on her wand and tried to smile, but she was sure it looked more like a grimace. She started to make her excuses so she could leave but was first bestowed with one more piece of advice.
“Don’t worry, dear. He loves you enough to stay with you.” With one last smile Mrs. Number 12 closed the door, leaving Ginny feeling bewildered. Much as she wanted to leave she now felt rooted to the spot as she thought about what the lady had said. She was hoping that these words would ring true but those hopes weren’t high given the fact that Harry had already walked out on her. She wasn’t going to find out by standing here though. With the feeling that she was wrenching her foot out of some sticky potion, Ginny set off again.
Since she knew that Harry hadn’t been staying with Ron and Hermione or Lupin and Tonks, the next logical location was Grimmauld Place. The house was eerily silent when she entered. She thought she could hear the foul-mouthed portrait of Mrs. Black snoring behind her curtain. Peering into the rooms on the first couple of landings Ginny had to admit that Dobby and Winky had done an excellent job cleaning the house. It almost looked fit for human habitation.
Checking rooms on the first few landings Ginny wasn’t trusting to her hope that she would find Harry. Though the rooms were much cleaner than they’d been in all the time she’d been coming here, the house still had a strong feeling of emptiness and abandonment. For all the use these rooms had seen it was likely that no one had been here in years. Ginny stopped at the door of the room she and Hermione had shared when they’d stayed here. She didn’t enter because she had just realized she should be going downstairs, not up. The most likely place for anyone to be in this house had always been the basement kitchen.
Luck was with her. When she pushed open the door she saw Harry was sitting in a chair at the centre of the table. He had his head down, staring into a half-empty glass of Firewhisky. A plate of food lay abandoned several inches away. She wondered if he was sleeping because he didn’t raise his head when she entered. He didn’t seem to move at all in the few seconds she watched him before speaking.
“So this is where you’ve chosen to hide out,” Ginny said at least.
Harry jumped, knocking his glass over. Ignoring the pooling liquid, he tried to focus on her without much success. Now he was looking at her she could see he was unkempt and unshaven; his clothes looked like they could use a good wash, too. Though she couldn’t say she was surprised at this scene, Ginny found that she had to keep telling herself that he was the one who left her. There was no reason he deserved her pity.
“What? D’you fancy taking a page out of Sirius’s book.” She entered the room, not looking back at him.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked, his voice amplified by the drink, echoed off the walls of stone.
“A question I should ask you,” Ginny replied, taking a bottle of Sobrius potion from a nearby cabinet. She poured a generous measure into a glass and handed it to Harry.
“Drink it,” she demanded when he did nothing but eye it warily.
With great reluctance he took the glass and downed it. Within seconds the potion was taking it’s effect. He still looked pale, but at least he was able to focus. Ginny gave him thirty seconds to get his bearings before she said anything. She found that now he was sober her sympathy was no longer a problem.
“So . . . care to explain why you’re here, getting drunk at ten in the morning.” She sat down beside him. Harry shrugged and looked down at his hands.
“Its my house, isn’t it? I don’t need a reason to stay here. As for the Firewhisky . . . that’s my business.” He paused and glanced at her quickly. “Why are you here?”
“Because we have to talk,” Ginny said, annoyed that he wouldn’t look at her.
Harry let out an exasperated sigh.
“I don’t think we do. I said everything I wanted to say the night at the Burrow,” he said, standing up.
“Its good you’ve said everything you wanted to say because it means you can listen to me for a minute. Sit down.” She was sure he was going to ignore her demand and leave. She couldn’t be sure but this very thought seemed to run through his mind. After a few seconds, and with another exasperated sigh, he returned to his seat. As he sat down Harry glanced at her quickly but then returned to examining his hands. This continued behaviour made her want to grab him by the hair and force him to look at her, but instead she contented herself with starting to speak.
“After everything that happened you might have forgotten that there was something I wanted to talk to you about, something that I’d been trying to talk to you about for a long time. Are you not even the least curious what that was?”
It seemed that Harry had indeed forgotten about this, but he was recalling now. He glanced at her again, not immediately looking away and Ginny could see that he did want to know. The tiny spark of hope she’d been trying to keep under control began to grow, but was almost immediately extinguished. Harry looked away again.
“It doesn’t matter. Whatever you have to say won’t change my mind. You keep –“
It had come out more blunt than she had meant it, but Ginny knew this was not the time for being subtle. Now all she had to do was to wait for Harry’s reaction.
For a minute Harry’s lips kept moving but no sound came out, then he seemed to lose the ability to move altogether. He was looking at her unblinkingly. She stared back, waiting for him to speak first. Eventually his paralysis broke and Harry leaned forward. For a second he took Ginny’s hands in his but almost as quickly he was on his feet, pacing back and forth. Several times he turned, looking like he was ready to say something, but then he would turn away and continue walking back and forth. Finally he grabbed her hands again.
“You’re – pregnant?” he asked, having to swallow several times to get the words out.
Ginny nodded. There was so much more that she wanted to say but she was holding her breath, waiting for Harry’s reaction. Thus far his actions weren’t really that far off of what she had thought they would be. This was a comforting thought. The hope that Harry hadn’t completely lost his sense was starting to grow in her again when –
“Is it mine?”
These three simple words made Ginny recoil as though Harry had slapped her. She yanked her hands out of his and took a step back.
“No. I didn’t – that came –“
Before Harry could say anything more, Ginny did the first thing she could think of. She balled her hand into a fist and punched him as hard as she could, her knuckles connecting with his jawbone. Then she turned on her heel and fled the house, unable to look back, or heed his calls.