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Chapter 11 : Family Matters
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Disclaimer: Listen up, this is NOT MINE! I'm just using the characters for my own twisted pleasure. Dance, puppets, dance!
Author's Notes: *hides head in shame* I’ve no excuses and all punishment is useless. I am a horrid creature, I know that, and for that I am immensely sorry. All I can do is wish for your forgiveness and willingness to stick by this story, despite my appallingly unstable updating schedule.
On a higher note - I would like to thank the best cat in all Scotlum, kaytee83, for her (though, lengthily awaited) obfuscating beta-ing ^_^
In my sleazy attempt to infiltrate the LJ's Draco/Ginny community >) , I've started a blog there (a link to which can be found on my Author's Page). Any questions, requests, complaints and threats should be directed there. Also would be provided information regarding my updates, lack of updates, writer's blocks and inner turmoils of a creative mind. *sighs*
Don’t hate me *hides*
Sinister tendrils of pure numbing dismay slithered out of her horrid dreams, manifesting into invisible threads that coiled through the chilly air and to her pitifully whimpering form. Just as the murky images became clearer, revealing to her the terrors of her subconscious mind, the threads tightened around her frail neck, preventing the precious oxygen from entering her lungs.
Ginny sprung up, eyes squeezed shut in fear, clutching at her throat frantically, trying to break the bonds of her dreams and gasp for air as a single frightened cry escaped her lips. Coughing and choking, she felt a dull yet reeling pain shoot through her right arm. She grabbed at the ache, wishing to rub it away, but it only made the pain worse. She yelped, becoming aware of the sharp and stinging sensation in her left wrist, discovering upon touching it that it was numbingly cold. She tried to soothe it as well with the prominent circular motions, but again made the pain worse. Her eyes flung open with surprise and she stared down only to discover blackness in front of her, instead of the mornings light. Widening her eyes even more as the fear seethed inside of her, she clutched at her face, disoriented and frustrated by the nightmare.
The door flung open suddenly and a banishing curse was roared by a familiar voice instantaneously. The darkness began to melt away from her sight and the well-known colors of her room returned. Instinctively she glanced at her hand and discovered a strange mark, frostbite, circling her wrist with ghastly imprints of four searing bracelets. Eyes drawn with pure horror to her right arm, Ginny discovered there the same morbid bracelets, gracing her fair skin with sickeningly violet blooms.
Suddenly swept away into a firm cage of warm embrace, Ginny clung for her dear life as the tears and pitiful sobs escaped her quivering body in waves of helpless frustration. Keeping her eyes tightly shut, she felt the pain unhurriedly ebbing away, taking her fear along with it. Still, she refused to let go of the protective arms around her and only when the last traces of weakness slipped out of her, she breathed in relief.
“Gin… a-are you okay?”
The voice seemed distantly familiar, but it did not fit the scene in the least. What was Ron doing in the Malfoy Manor?
Slowly blinking her eyes open, Ginny gave herself a couple of moments to take in her surrounding. She was indeed in her room, but she was not at the lavish emerald chamber of the Manor anymore, but at the small and cozy room she once occupied in her childhood. She was at the Burrow! Now she started to remember - yesterday she returned to the Burrow after work, because she decided to leave Malfoy Manor right before he--
Ginny nipped that train of thought before it could escalate further down the memory lane, not wishing to relive the images. Not that they were bad images to relive, though.
Ron’s voice pierced through her reverie once again and she forced herself to let go. She glanced at Ron, momentarily noticing the heavy dosage of concern in his eyes and couldn’t help the scarlet blush as it crept up her neck. She hadn’t cried like this in front of him since her fourth year at Hogwarts and now seeing him try to read her like he did in their earlier years was more than awkward for her. She was a grown woman now and the fact that her brother still deemed her his little baby sister was quite unbecoming. She straightened her posture subtly, gazing at him.
“That was one hell of a nightmare, Ginbug, to make you scream,” he intoned suddenly, his concern shifting into something careless. “But I guess I would’ve screamed as well, if I had the Ferret in my dreams…” Ron forced out a laugh, rubbing the back of his head.
Ferret? “Draco?” Ginny’s voice was incredulous, lacing with hidden indignation regarding Ron’s accusation that she had screamed in her sleep. But what did Draco have to do with it? She didn’t dream of him. She dreamt of… of--
Immediately her eyes darted to her left wrist, noticing that she was absentmindedly cradling it in her other hand. Nothing. Not even a mark of the horrible frostbite that crested her complexion a minute ago. Same with the bruise - not even a scratch. How could this be? How could these bruises sprout out of her dreams and then fade into nothingness in a matter of mere moments?
Her eyes shot back up at Ron, wide with sudden memories and gripping desire to disbelief. “There was someone in the room… who was it?” she mouthed her fears, boring her hazel eyes into her brother.
Ron’s expression shifted instantly from sheepish discomfort to baffled ignorance, an expression so often decorating his features in adolescence. “What do you mean, Gin? There was no one in the room…”
Ginny froze at his words, dull fear from the back of her mind begins to intertwine into her consciousness. “What do you mean there was no one in my room? Whoever--whatever was in the room! Whatever tried to strangle me!” she proceeded, despair rising number of notches at a time as Ron’s expression of utter misunderstanding settled even deeper.
“No, I heard you. You banished it! I heard the curse! I heard your voice, Ron!” Ginny insisted desperately, knowing what she felt and heard was true.
“What curse? Ginny, what are you talking about? I don’t even have my wand on me…”
Her eyes darted to his hands as he lifted them up to show that indeed he carried no wand. But then how could he banish that… that thing? She averted her eyes, her gaze bleak as upsetting realization settled in. If he had no wand, he could not banish whatever was present minutes ago, and if he couldn’t have banished it, she would’ve been dead by now. So, that must mean there was no one here to begin with.
But, no! She felt it! She couldn’t breathe as if someone’s abnormally thin fingers were tightening almost lovingly around her throat. And the marks! The bruise and the frostbite! The pain and the cold! She couldn’t have just imagined it! Could she…?
“Gin,” Ron spoke again, his voice uncharacteristically comforting, as he held her tightly by her shoulders, forcing her wandering stare to focus on him. “You had a nightmare,” he explained softly. “You screamed in your dream - called for Malfoy. I heard your scream and came here. You were sitting on your bed with eyes shut tight and sobbing. Ginbug, it was only a dream. No one tried to strangle you…”
Ginny looked up into her brother’s eyes and saw the troubled concern. He was saying the truth - there really was no one in her room. It must have been only a dream. How else could you explain that, right?
Ginny nodded slowly and curled closer to him once again. As usual, he smelled of sea breeze and sugerquills and she found his presence more than enough to chase the doubts away. She closed her eyes for a moment as he held her closely, fighting the streams of tears that threatened to fall from her bloodshot eyes again, but opened them quickly as darkness surrounded her for a moment.
“You’re okay?” Ron’s voice broke the silence again as he drew her away a little to look into her eyes.
She nodded and rubbed her eyes. Except for the fact that I’ve completely embarrassed myself in front of my brother… how could I be so foolish? Of course it was just a dream! Damn it!
“Well, now that you are alright, perhaps you’d like to explain why you have cried out Malfoy’s first name in your dream?” he glanced at her with shifty suspicion, deciding - as always - to lighten the atmosphere with humor.
Ginny couldn’t help the blush as it invaded her cheeks with no warning. “I-- uh-- we--“ she stammered, for some unidentified reason, feeling busted. “I-- How should I know?” she snapped finally, scampering out of the bed and over to the commode. “I don’t even remember what I dreamt about.”
Ron grimaced suddenly in childish disgust as thoughts of a certain sort of dreams that caused crying out names flashed through his mind. But he stomped the thought out ruthlessly, considering that Ginny was far too upset for that kind of a dream. On other hand - he thought to himself - he might’ve considered a quick and painless death had the Ferret ever visited him in a dream. But that was him.
“Gin, you do understand that you seem too guilty and too flushed for my comfort?” he continued to prod, her strange reaction to his humorous suspicions sowing seeds of real doubt in his mind. “Did anything happen between you and Malfoy?”
Ginny stopped her rampaging through the drawers and turned to face her brother, jutting out her chin defiantly while her fingers fidgeted nervously. “No, nothing happened. What makes you think something happened? Nothing happened… at all. I barely spoke to the man, actually. He worked most of the time. And when he didn’t, I avoided him. Why would anything ever happen? Besides, he’s a former Slytherin. Ew, Snake-cooties and all that…”
Ginny wanted to smack herself for the obvious blurting session she just underwent. Why, oh why did presence in this house make her retrace steps back into the awkward and diffident state of her adolescence?
Ron already opened his mouth to respond when the commanding voice of Molly Weasley left no room for disobedience to her invitation for breakfast. Ginny grinned, thanking her mother for the timing and shooed her older brother out of the room, telling him to hurry up and reminding him he did not need an angry mother on his back.
Slumping onto the closed door, Ginny cursed yet again her blathering and shook her head, returning to the wardrobe. She found there some of her old clothes, shabbier than those she’d grown accustomed to these past years, but still fitting her dainty form and full stitches and lapels that brought back many seemingly forgotten memories.
She took a quick shower, knowing that neither did she needed an angry Molly on her back, got dressed and hastily tidied her room, before heading downstairs.
Halting to a stop on the last step of the shaky staircase, Ginny’s eyes widened in shock as her ears were deafened by the indescribable amounts of noise emanating the scene before her. Every square inch of the Burrow’s first floor - beginning with the scurrying redheads from the front entrance and the foyer, continuing to the loud redheads fleeing the halls, to the elder red-haired wizards that reigned the living room - was packed by a chattering, laughing, screaming, running, gossiping and a reminiscing member of the Weasley and Prewett Clans. When Hermione mentioned a small family gathering, she seemed to have forgotten to mention the fact that Molly decided to gather three generations of well-bred pureblooded families.
Eep, no… Ginny quipped to herself, noticing baby Matthew. Make it four generations…
Ginny frowned, not quite understanding the mass amounts of red-haired heads. Yes, indeed Weasleys and Prewetts were known for this particular prominent feature, but not the Donovans, nor the Hollifields, nor the other pureblooded wizarding families they were married into. Now it seemed there was not a single blonde, brown or brunette head among the prattling crowd.
She was about to make a bee-line back upstairs and slink away from the crowd unnoticed, but was unfortunately spotted by her mother, who greeted her with an enthusiastic cry that drew attention to her and a steaming pot of vegetable ragout for her to taste, while she hauled the younger witch to the kitchen. There, the scenery did not quite change - the usually empty kitchen occupied at the moment over a dozen of female witches, all chopping, slicing, stirring and brewing.
Ginny stood at the entrance to the kitchen, with the ragout pot hovering beside her still waiting for her approval and her mind desperately trying to work out a way to escape this overstuffed nightmare. Don’t get her wrong; she loved each and every member of her family, but--but--but… separately!
A quick glance out of the kitchen window showed her she would not find refuge in the garden, since the Weasley grounds were now swarmed with hordes of wild and uncontrollable children that screamed and shouted like packs of ravenous animals, and littered the garden all the way to the lake with uncountable red-haired groups.
“Ginny! You’re finally up!”
“Hey there, Ginbug! How are you, little one?”
“Oh well, I’m fi--“
“Oh, you’re so skinny! Look at you? Don’t you eat? Don’t they feed you there in that fancy editorial of yours?”
“Well, actually they don--“
“Ginny-sunshine! Oh you look not a day over 16! What’s your secret?”
“Oh, but you should take a Sleeping Draught, Kitty-Gin… your eyes are all red and puffy…”
“Oh, what are you on about, Helga? Ginny looks just fine! Come here, come hug your Auntie Moira, you little rascal!”
Ginny took all the hugging and cheek-pinching and figure-praising as well as to be expected that early in the morning, but kept throwing searching looks out for more familiar faces. It seems Hermione and the other sisters-in-law weren’t present in the kitchen, and that the culinary experiments were left to the more-experienced witches.
Ginny couldn’t quite understand how this house could fill with so many Weasleys and Prewetts over night! Just last night there were only the close family - her brothers with their wives and children - and they’ve only waited on Charlie. What, she thought to herself incredulously. He took a detour from Romania and decided to pick up most of the family tree? He couldn’t just be satisfied with bringing us gifts? He had to bring lost family members as well?
“Ginny! So what do you think?” an eager voice of Molly sliced through Ginny’s self-pity.
“I should’ve slept a while longer?” Ginny suggested quietly, still watching with horrified expression the buzzing kitchen.
“What?” Molly frowned in confusion at her only daughter. “The stew, dear! What do you think about the stew! I think it is done, but your Aunt Annie seems to differ,” Molly explained her prods, glancing sideways at Annie Weasley, wife of Uncle Graham, with hidden haughtiness in her pleasant voice. Molly Weasley was not a haughty woman unless it came to the kitchen. She saw herself better cook than most (if not all) other Weasley or Prewetts wives she came across and was proven right more than on one occasion.
To be truthful, Molly had only once encountered a cook that could give her a run for her money, and it was definitely not one of the present plump, gossipy, loud members of the Clans. It was in fact a very gaunt, very respective, very inhibited Potions Master from Hogwarts - Severus Snape. Professor Snape could whip up the best creamed-duck with baked potatoes that would leave the patrons dreaming of seconds for weeks on end. All thanks to his personal collection of unattainable herbs that granted not only more memorable flavors, but richer and smoother taste.
Molly beamed delightedly at the thoughts. The Potions Master has been more than generous with his recipes and his herbs, claiming that he as well saw Molly as his sole equal in the culinary arena and thus would be proud to share his secrets with her. That is why when others dared to second-guess her in the kitchen her voice undertook traces of doubt and slight indignation.
Ginny blinked out of her petrified daze and finally smiled at her mother, tentatively tasting of the ragout. She closed her eyes as the memories of her careless childhood flooded her mind at the taste of her mother’s cookery. Gods, she missed this…
“Well, dear?” Molly prodded for an answer, almost poking Ginny in the ribs.
“Excellent, Mum. It is excellent, as to be expected,” Ginny smiled at her mother, laughing as the older witch’s chest puffed out in pride and she turned to face Aunt Annie.
“You heard that, Annie? Excellent, the girl says! E-xce-llent! Now, go hover over someone else’s kettles!”
Ginny snickered, watching Molly shoo Aunt Annie away from her pots in the fireplace.
“Oi! Oyster-Girl!” a sudden baritone voice of one of her twin brothers resounded through the endless blathering.
Ginny turned around just in time to be plucked off her feet and slumped over Fred’s shoulder, squealing with juvenile delight as her older brother span her around, making her dizzy. “Okay, okay, I give up, I give UP!” Ginny yelped out as her feet accidentally smacked into a random cousin.
“My apologies, Mafalda…” Fred grinned sheepishly, saluting at her with Ginny still hoisted over his shoulder and carefully put his sister down after cousin Mafalda huffed indignantly and stalked away.
“Look what you did,” Ginny tutted, smacking Fred on his arm.
“You’re just jealous cause it was me who got to whack her,” he laughed in return, rubbing his arm.
“Well, those were my feet, so technically it was me who got to whack her, so--“ Ginny stuck out her tongue at her brother, feeling immature and comfortable about it.
Fred laughed some more, settling with a shake of his head. “I guess me and George are not the only ones who feel compelled to act our old selves again…”
“I’ll say… tell me, brother, would you happen to know anything about the mops of red hair on top of each and every guest?” Ginny asked with a smile, watching her brother squirm in fake guilt.
“Well… muggles have those ridiculous pointy caps they wear at parties. George and I thought it would be amusing to color them red… a customized Weasley party cap,” Fred beamed proudly.
“Mhmm…” Ginny narrowed her eyes at her brother, propping both fists on her dainty hips. “And how, may I ask, you’ve done that?”
“A quick improvisation of the Weasley-Do - ‘Liquid Weasley-Do’! Stay away from the punchbowl, Sis…”
Ginny laughed throwing a glance around herself at the guests. Every single one of the witches and wizards surrounding her were pure redheads - some lighter, some darker - but all had the stunningly bright colors of fire atop of their heads. On some, as Ginny noticed at closer inspection, even sprouted dozens or so freckles to cover their noses and cheeks in light tan hues. Brilliant, she thought to herself. Make the whole world a Weasley.
Ginny drew her gaze away from the distant relatives, searching the crowd for the second twin. If Fred was here, George had to be somewhere near. Unless…
“Where is George, anyway?” the red-haired witch asked guardedly, knowing that if her brothers parted while being in the Burrow, it meant one was creating a diversion while the other one did something that wouldn’t please their mother in the least.
“Well, I’ll tell you this, Sis. He is not out in the back yard, supplying two dozen impish rugrats with dungbombs and teaching them how to use them,” Fred winked at her, disturbingly bright gleams of mischief sparkling in his dark-brown eyes.
Ginny smiled at her brother, thanking gods the twins would never change, when laces of doubts crept into her mind. “Wait, if George is not out there supplying hyperactive Weasleys with potentially lethal pranks and you are here talking to me… who is watching Mum?”
Fred’s face suddenly paled as his smile faded quickly and his jaw dropped slightly. “Bollocks.”
A loud scream and a loud bang (which, experts would easily identify as a accidentally dropped dungbomb) reverberated through the entire shaky structure, drawing startled attention of the guests towards the back yard, where roars of the Weasley matriarch were carried over miles on end. “GEORGE!!!”
The back door slammed and in dashed a very troubled-looking George Weasley. He scanned the kitchen quickly, yelping as stomping sounds came from behind the door and jolted over to his twin’s side. “Brother dear, I believe the right terminology for our situation is ‘Busted’…”
“FRED!!! I KNOW YOU’RE IN ON THIS AS WELL! YOU JUST WAIT UNTIL I GET MY HANDS ON YOU TWO!!!”
The infamous twins exchanged horrified glances, reckoning in so many specific details their Mother’s wrath. “Gotta go, Sis!” they blurted simultaneously, taking off in the other direction from their mother, who just in that moment came barging into the kitchen with her wand raised high.
Ginny couldn’t suppress the uncontrollable giggles as the two grown wizards cowered away from their Mother’s wand, taking refuge in the cupboard under the stairs, which the matriarch found appropriate to lock. Her brothers hadn’t changed a bit and she was ever so pleased to discover this in the warm and loving surrounding of the Burrow.
“Ginny! You’re awake!”
Ginny turned around at the sound of a familiar voice, watching the tall and slim figure of Aunt Eloise trotting towards her with arms spread widely and followed by Uncle Henry. She cringed as the woman’s bony arms encircled her forcefully, crashing the air right out of her lungs, and deafening her with screeches of joy. Memories of Aunt Eloise’s hugs entwined with the hugs of her Twin brothers’, constantly marred with increasing lack of oxygen. Unfortunately, if she knocked Aunt Eloise’s jaw with the top of her head and stomped on her foot, it might’ve seemed inappropriate. So instead, as usually she turned to Uncle Henry for help, pleading him wordlessly and then glaring at him as he unsuccessfully tried to suppress his amusement.
Finally complying, Uncle Henry moved closer, snaking his hands, which were ever so skilled in such rescues, around the skinny former-blonde witch’s middle and gently pulled her away from Ginny. “There, there, Eloise… I’m sure the girl would appreciate some air, darling.”
Eloise resounded a protest, but let go as usual, smacking Henry’s hands away as if they were a mere nuisance. “I haven’t seen this girl for years, Henry. And if I wish to smother her with a bit of a hug, you be sure I certainly would,” she huffed at her husband’s obvious amusement.
“Certainly, darling. Certainly…” Henry sniggered, soothing his wife’s indignation with a delicate hand at the small of her back, while Ginny hurried to steady her breath before the upcoming interrogation.
This seemed to appease Aunt Eloise and she turned away from her husband, though keeping generally closely to him, and turned to the already-breathing Ginny with a beaming smile. “Oh dear, you look all grown up! It gets harder every time to believe you are the same bundle of joy your mother flaunted about when you’ve been born,” Aunt Eloise smiled kindly, apparently trying to keep her tears at bay.
“Ah, well Aunt Eloise, you know what time does to people,” Ginny quipped with an almost apologetic smile.
“Yes…” Aunt Eloise agreed absently, still watching Ginny with gleaming eyes. “But come, come dear, tell me everything!” the older witch prodded Ginny, leading her to the table and taking a seat across from her. “How’s everything? How’s your job? How’s Harry?”
Ginny’s smile faulted at the mention of her husband’s name and she found her fingers fidget almost instinctively. An uncomfortable feeling settled at the base of her stomach and she looked away, watching the many witches stirring cauldrons and pots, while ostensibly trying to think what to answer first. What can I say? “Oh, Harry’s fine! He’d become an abusive maniac, but he is fine, just fine!” Oh gods, why didn’t I stay at bed long-- She remembered just why and breathed dryly. That’s why…
“Yeah, how is Harry?” Uncle Henry’s voice brought her out of her thoughts and back to the inquiring couple. “Such a shame he had to work this weekend. Such a shame…”
Ginny frowned at Uncle Henry and was about to ask him what he was on about when, Molly suddenly popped between them.
“Oh, Eloise! Just the person I’ve been looking for! You must come and help me out there. I’ve got a million things and more to do and I just can’t seem to--“
“Yes, yes, of course Molly dear. Just in a sec--“
“Oh, no! This cannot wait!” Molly protested, ushering Aunt Eloise quickly out of her comfy seat and sending her to the other side of the kitchen. “Henry!” she added quickly, noticing her brother-in-law was about to take his wife’s seat. “Could you be a dear and call for my boys, please? Tell them to start setting the tables up. They’re in the living room, thank you so much!” Molly cooed sweetly.
“Oh, but it’s only midday…”
“Well, you have to always be prepared, Henry. You never know when the nighttime might sneak up on you. Now, off you go…” she steered him gently with a wide smile towards the living room. The puzzled wizard agreed with a smile and took his leave, promising Ginny to return and have a chat later.
Ginny watched her mother steering the relatives away from her with such ease and such great skill, that she was finally able to react only when Molly smiled at her briskly and turned to leave. “Mum!”
Molly paused, turning around and glancing at Ginny with a questioning expression veiling her subtle awkwardness. “Yes, dear?”
“What… what was that about?”
“What was what about, dear?” Molly countered with transparent innocence.
“Aunt Eloise and Uncle Henry think…” Ginny was about to say Harry’s name, but suddenly the word got caught in her throat and a chill ran down her spine and she found herself unable. She gulped hard, confused by this sudden reaction and frowned at herself. She was becoming unbearably squeamish and she must do something about it.
Glancing back at her mother, she realized she needn’t an answer to whatever question she meant to pose to the older witch. Everything was obvious. “Umm, nothing… never mind.”
Molly’s gaze lingered a bit longer on her daughter’s suddenly pallid face and she inhaled tiredly, quickly hiding all traces of her grief from her features as she hurried back to orchestrate the preparations for the today’s dinner.
Evening crept up to the Burrow right at the end of a vigorous Quidditch rematch between the Weasley siblings and the Prewett cousins. With Ron as the skillful Keeper, twins as the talented yet flamboyant Beaters (Molly finally let them out of the locked cupboard, after they’ve promised to be on their best behavior for the rest of the weekend), Charlie and Bill as the expert Chasers and Ginny as the lithe Seeker, even Percy was talked into playing at a Chaser and soon enough was discovered to be disturbingly good at that.
The Weasley team won the second time as well (290/110), after the shameful first match (220/50) where the Prewett’s Seeker didn’t even has the chance to reach a high velocity when Ginny had already spotted and captured the enchanted Snitch. The cousins were ribbed good-naturedly and were promised a second rematch first thing in the morning.
Ginny and others barged into the house from the front porch (being careful to avoid the back porch, since preparations for the dinner were in the middle of heated occurrences), pecked present mothers, wives or children on their cheeks and scurried upstairs for a quick shower and a change of clothes. Of course for the males of that group there was nothing quick about it, since there were eleven of them having to share the single bathroom on the second floor.
Ginny, her cousin Georgia (who was named after the same George Prewett her brother was named after, and who invented the Family Clock that showed the location of each member of the family at a given time) and her surprisingly youthful Aunt Felicity, who was found to be one hell of a Chaser, shared a smaller bathroom on the third floor, but since all three of them were very considerate, they’ve finished quicker than the men and let them use the second bathroom as well.
Ginny giggled, closing the door behind her, after having seen Fred and George fencing Robbie and Tommy in the hallways with towels instead of sabers that were enchanted into a slightly stiffer state. A yelp resonated through the door and Ginny burst into another fit of laughter, guessing that Tommy finally managed to break through Fred’s impenetrable defenses and stabbed him with the towel in the stomach.
Slightly shaking her head at the general childishness that surrounded this house at the moment, Ginny smiled widely, making her way to her wardrobe. Humming quietly to herself, she scanned the robes that still fit her, wanting to wear something festive for the upcoming dinner. Downstairs she could clearly hear her mother’s voice coordinating troops of hungry children as they obediently ran in and out of the house, placing the plates and silverware along with the ongoing flow of delectable dishes on the never-ending table. Also, a strong voice of Aunt Jasmine, who happened to be a head of an Auror squadron before she retired, was barking out orders at the men to rearrange seats, charm trees and enchant globes of light to hover above the dining family.
Ginny glanced momentarily out of the window, gaping at the massive dome of shimmering light that crowned the dining tables that had probably been enchanted to link into each other. It seemed as if the garden itself had spurred a bubble of daylight and consumed the table, and the people that scampered around could enter the bubble at their will. There was only one word to describe her family’s handiwork and that word was written all over Ginny’s gawking face - Brilliant.
She quickly returned to her wardrobe, wishing to join the others and help set the table. She continued to scan through the rack until her eyes landed on the deep emerald robes, safely engulfed in a protective bubble of the Preservation Charm. Her eyes gleamed with recognition as she drew the gorgeous robes out of the closet, running a timid hand over the delicate embroidery of coiling flowers and miniature dragons outlined with tiny specs of what she dared to presume, were precious stones.
She could still clearly remember the day she received the package and the friendly tawny owl with necklace of sable feathers that plopped it on her bed in the Gryffindor sixth year girls’ dormitory. There was no note, but she could easily see that the gift was from Harry - he was the only one she knew that could afford such an attire and she had told him just the previous day that green was her favorite color.
That night she wore those robes to the Graduation Ball she went on with Harry. That was the night Harry finally told her how he felt. This was the night of Voldemort’s final attack.
Ginny breathed heavily at the memories. This dress was magnificent. And most probably cursed. She shouldn’t be even thinking about wearing it now.
But there she was, slipping into the comfortable material and admiring herself in the mirror, as the Preservation Charm automatically dissipated. A hindered female instinct congratulated her for fitting into the dress robes she wore almost ten years ago, but she squashed it quickly, rolling her eyes at the ridiculously inconsequential thought.
She left the room and headed for the kitchen to help her mother, but was brusquely sent back upstairs to fetch for Hermione, who had went up to take a nap and had already been awoken three times at least by different family members. Ginny complied with a smile, climbing to the second floor and searching for the room Hermione and Ron had stayed in. She knocked softly on the door, pushing it hesitantly and peeked in, noticing the light in the small bathroom that was attached on the other side of the room (or, to be more specific, was attached to the room once they’ve moved in because of Hermione’s constant issues with her bladder).
“Hermione… are you here?”
Muffled sounds came from the bathroom, followed by some coughing and indignant grumbling, in which Ginny was sure to hear few oaths regarding her brother’s “swimmers”. “Yes, I’m here, Gin. I’ll be out in a minute…”
Giggling as the oaths seemed to continue through a gush of flowing water, Ginny noticed a mirror right in front of her and ran her hands over the smooth fabric, straightening the non-existent wrinkles. Suddenly, feeling something odd disturbing the surface in the area of her left pocket, she dug into it, retrieving an old, crumpled piece of deteriorating parchment. She glanced up when Hermione finally emerged from the bathroom, smiling at her as she slowly waddled over to the toilet and took a seat in front of the mirror.
“I swear to you Ginny, if this baby won’t come out soon, I am going to paddle it out of there with a spatula,” Hermione huffed exasperatedly, glancing at Ginny through the mirror.
Ginny smiled with sympathy and walked over, taking a seat on the bed beside the toilet. “It will happen soon, Mione. Don’t worry about it…”
“How can I not to, Gin?” Hermione asked with a sad smile, veiling deeper concerns with an inhibited tone. “I… we have tried so long… we wanted this baby so much and now… now…”
Ginny’s eyes widened slightly in alarm at the sight of hesitant tears streaming down the rosy cheeks and she braced her friend tightly, rubbing her back in circles just like her mother used to do when she got upset. She coaxed the older witch out of the chair and onto the bed beside her and continued holding her closely. “It is alright, Hermione. Everything is fine. What… what is wrong?”
Hermione sniffed softly, clinging onto her best friend for some support as the words rolled off her tongue. “It is just seems that… the baby isn’t coming out, because it doesn’t want us…”. She sobbed loudly into the redhead’s shoulder, burying her face away in shame.
“Hermione…” Ginny cooed gently, cajoling the girl out of her tears. “Do not be ridiculous, honey. Of course this baby wants you! He’s known you for nine months now and has learned how wonderful and caring and smart you are. I bet it is just dying to see you in person and not - you know - inside out…”
Hermione snorted, breaking into suppressed laughter afterwards, and finally let go of Ginny, who reached over to the toilet to get a box of tissues and offered them to the crying witch.
“I’m sorry,” Hermione said quietly, wiping away the last traces of her insecurities from her eyes. “I didn’t want to upset you…”
“Nonsense, Mione. You didn’t upset me at all… just reminded me that soon there will be another redheaded rascal running around the grounds,” Ginny smiled, playfully tugging at a lock of bushy brown hair.
“I hope so…” Hermione breathed deeply and smiled at Ginny, who poked her in her bulging belly affectionately. Hermione giggled, swatting Ginny’s fingers away and tilted her head to the piece of parchment still clutched in Ginny’s hand, unfolded. “What is it?”
“Umm, this?” Ginny glanced down at the parchment and brought it up to the light, to expect it. “I don’t know… I just found it in these robes.”
“Hey, aren’t these the robes…?”
“Yeah, it is…”
“Oh, they’re lovely,” Hermione said absently, reaching out for the parchment absently.
Ginny glanced at her for a moment with confused expression, handing her the paper and watching her unfold it carefully and scanning it. “What’s it say?”
“Hey, that’s my handwriting!”
“Really? That’s what it says?” Ginny asked mockingly, rolling her eyes. She moved closer to look over Hermione’s shoulder, catching the sight of almost completely faded black ink on the tattered parchment before the older witch quickly crumpled it again and tossed it carelessly onto the toilet.
“Eh, a list of books I probably wanted to borrow from the library…” Hermione shrugged it off, standing up and starting to pull Ginny towards the door. “Come on… Molly probably is contemplating sending up the cavalry to get us down.”
Ginny giggled, following her sister-in-law, the piece of parchment completely forgotten from her mind. A single inconspicuous thought fluttered through her mind as she descended the staircase on her way down - What did Hermione’s books list do in the robes she fought the Final Battle in? But the thought was not at all salient or important as the moment Ginny entered the kitchen and yet again her mother sent her off to fetch her wand from the living room before she came to the tables.
Ginny sighed heavily and trudged back into the living room, shooing the last of wandering children to the back yard, before she grabbed her mother’s wand and headed back again. But alas, it seemed the Fates were against her reaching the celebration since exactly when she was about to leave, the doorbell rang through out the living room, drawing her attention to the door. She clenched her fists and stomped over to the door, swearing that if was another relative she was going to hex him or her to next Tuesday. She dragged a calming breath and counted till ten before swinging the door open and forgetting everything at once as her hazel eyes collided with a pair of mesmerizing silver ones.
On the front porch of the Burrow did not stand yet another member of the Weasley or Prewett’s clans, but a tall, seemingly unfitting vision of Draco Malfoy, gripping bags with the emblem of Madam Malkin’s shop on them and rigidly clenching his jaws.
Author's Notes: Next chapter should be interesting =D Lets hope it won’t take me a year to get it out X|
Unfortunately, it was brought to my attention that interactive stories are not permitted on this site, so I had to drop the idea.
And a final note: this story has been submitted to DracoGinny awards on MagicalTheory. If you enjoy the story and have a few moments to spare, I would greatly appreciate the contribution. Thank you ^_^
Hope you enjoyed =3
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