Ginny absent-mindedly stirred her tea as she gazed out into the sunset through the window in the Weasleys’s kitchen. The bubbly girl was unusually silent, straining her ears for any hint of approaching footfalls from outside.
Even though she waited for it, the POP of someone apparating caused her to start in her chair, and she got up and rushed to the door. The familiar messy black hair still caused her heart to quicken as she rushed out to meet him, faster still as his vivid green eyes met hers.
“Is it starting?” she asked, half desperate to know, and half afraid of the answer.
He took a moment to breathe before answering. “It’s starting,” he replied.
Her stomach clenched as she tried to calm her breath. “W-where’s Ron and Hermione?” she asked, wishing she sounded stronger, more assured.
“At the Ministry, getting everything organized. Everyone’s meeting there.”
Ginny’s forehead wrinkled in concern as she realized they were still standing stock still in the pathway. “We have to go inside… get ready,” she said, and Harry nodded. They returned to the house, where Ginny’s steaming mug still sat on the table. She hurried past it and up the stairs, with Harry close on her heels.
“Right… what do we need?” she asked. Harry’s eyes narrowed for a moment, but the look was gone as he led her to Fred and George’s old room, now used for storage. He opened several boxes and dragged them away from the others.
“Shield wear,” he explained. “We’ll take some boxes to the Ministry… have you got any chocolate?” he asked her.
“I think there’s some downstairs in the kitchen, why?”
“They’ve brought Dementors,” he explained, and she shuddered, her fear suddenly doubled. Dementors, Inferius… an army of creatures of darkness, waiting to claim as many as they could…
She followed him to the kitchen, the boxes of Shield cloaks and gloves hovering behind them. They searched hurriedly until she came upon a tin that she set upon the counter. She lifted the lid and peered in at the contents, blocks of chocolate arranged neatly on top of one another.
“That’s massive!” Harry exclaimed, eyeing the tin.
“Mum uses it for all her cooking… cakes and such. Fred and George and I used to nick it all the time,” Ginny replied. Harry grinned at her and she felt her heart tighten. Hot coals of agony wound their way inside her at having to endure this feeling for a boy she knew she couldn’t have. It was stupid, trying to protect her… but she could never change his mind.
They placed the tin, with difficulty, on top of the floating boxes and carefully made their way into the living room, where a fire burned in the grate. The normally cheery flames seemed ominous to Ginny, like a sign of things to come. She reached for the pot on the mantle, but Harry’s hand caught her wrist. She turned around, her skin tingling at the contact.
“Ginny…” he began, but she preempted him.
“Oh no. I know that look, and its not happening,” she said warningly.
“Ginny, you shouldn’t-“
“No! I’m not staying here! I’ve got as much right to go as you have!” she burst out angrily, tossing her hair, as brilliant red as the flames behind her, over her shoulder in her anger.
“You’re sixteen, Gin! You’re not even in seventh year yet! I know you want to fight, but it’s not safe- “
“I fought those Death Eaters in Hogwarts last year! I was in the Department of Mysteries with you, or have you forgotten? I’m not some silly little girl anymore Harry, you can’t stop me going! I know it will be dangerous-“
“Ginny, its not the same as those time,” he interrupted. “Its not just a few Death Eaters, this is a full-scale battle- I know you’re not stupid, I know you can take care of yourself, but there’s some things you’re just not ready for!”
Hot tears sprang to her eyes; she fought the urge to scream with frustration. “WHY DO YOU HAVE TO PROTECT ME, HARRY?! I’VE GOT AS MUCH RIGHT TO GO AS YOU HAVE, OR HERMIONE OR RON HAS, I KNOW ITS NOT JUST SOME LITTLE FIGHT- WHY CAN’T YOU LET ME TRY? ITS MY OWN CHOICE!”
Harry’s forehead crinkled in worry. “Ginny, its just-“
“JUST WHAT?! JUST YOU BEING STUPID AND NOBLE, AS USUAL!!” she screamed, her angry glare not disguising the fear and hurt threatening to spill from her eyes.
“I CAN’T LOSE YOU GINNY, ALRIGHT?” he bellowed, running a hand through his hair in aggravation. Ginny was silent for a moment, her eyes locked on his as though reading the truth there. He watched as the tears escaped her eyes, leaving glistening evidence of her frustration behind. Her eyes flashed as the hot tears tore down her face; she flailed angrily against his chest.
STUPID?!” she sobbed. She allowed herself to be pulled into his solid form, half angry and half sick with yearning. Her head buried into Harry’s neck as his hand stroked her back softly; he could feel the warmth of her tears against his skin. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
Her words were muffled, but Harry caught the conviction in them. He sighed and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, but took the Floo powder off of the mantle. He sent the boxes before him, and then offered Ginny the flowerpot. Her chocolate eyes were clearer than ever as she stepped into the fireplace and shouted, “Ministry of Magic!”
In a sooty whirl of flames, Ginny was born off the Ministry Atrium with Harry at her heels.
Immediately they saw that the Atrium was a mass of activity. There were other witches and wizards pouring out from the fireplaces all around them, and haggard looking officials ran about trying to get everyone organized in preparation for the coming battle. Harry took Ginny’s hand and led her through the gate and into a life, where they waited impatiently as it clattered into view. The lift was packed full squashed witches and wizards holding wands and looking resolved, along with harassed looking Ministry officials and fluttering memos stamped URGENT. As soon as the it had reached the Auror offices, they and most of the other occupants left the lift and rushed down the corridor to the mass of cubicles, now a swarm of activity as Aurors and Heads of Offices carried out their various preparations. Ginny and Harry quickly passed the cubicles and ducked into the new office of Mr. Weasley, which was much larger since his promotion. There they found Mr. Weasley looking very grave, along with Fred and George, Charlie, Bill, and Ron and Hermione. They all looked up at the sound of the door opening. Although Hermione seemed to have expected it, Ron’s eyes widened at Ginny’s presence.
“Ginny, you-“he began, but Ginny interrupted him.
“I’m not leaving, Ron,” she said firmly. He still looked objecting, as did several of her other brothers and Mr. Weasley.
“It really is no good,” said Harry, shaking his head. Ginny flashed a brief smile at her family and went to join Hermione.
“Did you get the boxes?” asked Harry, and Mr. Weasley nodded.
“We’ve just been discussing… discussing tactics. I think it will be best if we stick together in the event of a… large-scale attack. We expect them to come into the Atrium, so that’s where we’ll be waiting, and we’ll have some special task forces dispersed into other strategic places.”
Mr. Weasley fell silent, and they all glanced at one another before Fred said loudly, “Well lets get cracking then, I have plans for later.” His cheery voice was marred by a crack, and rather than cheering them up, it sobered then further. Ginny’s mouth was dry. She wasn’t even in her final year at Hogwarts yet- had they been right in suggesting that she stay home?
Immediately she dismissed the thought. Its always the same with them… stay here while the big kids sort it out, Ginny… like he hasn’t messed with my life enough…
The Auror office was deserted when they passed it, and simultaneously their steps quickened. It was nearly time.
The lift was noisy, and the clanging that intruded on their thoughts jarred unnaturally in Ginny’s ears. Their silence as they rode to the Atrium and the grave looks that hung on the usually cheery faces would be almost comical if Ginny didn’t know she must look just the same. As the cool female voice announced that they had arrived at the proper floor, Ginny felt fear creeping along the edges of her mind, its cold fingers trailing lightly down her spine. The doors opened.
Inside the Atrium it was quiet as a graveyard, and the description didn’t comfort Ginny at all. The golden fountain, restored to its original, if misleading, form was standing in the center of a small crowd of silent people, who all turned at the sound of the lift arriving. At the sight of the lot of them the crowd relaxed, and turned back expectantly to face the other end of the Atrium. Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys found room to stand near Mrs. Weasley, who took her husband’s hand, Lupin, and the other Order members. A quarter of an hour passed, during which Ginny noticed the small crowd seemed to grow tighter together, strengthening within itself- family stood together, couples linked- Ginny felt an unexpected loneliness, standing with her family, as Lupin and Tonks, Bill and Fleur, and even Ron and Hermione stood so closely united, their hands intertwined. Her heart ached a little, even in the face of terror, to look at her friends so perfectly paired and know that she was standing, at least in this respect, alone. If he wasn’t so stupid- hadn’t he done it to protect her? And wasn’t she here anyway?
Her attention was shifted as a ripple ran through the crowd. Heads turned towards the fountain, where something was happening. The water rose in a circular wall around the golden figures, blurring their forms and falling in a continuous waterfall back into the pool, eerily silent. Ginny felt terror crawl through her veins as dark shapes appeared behind the sheet of water, seeming to pulsate because of the constant motion. The shadows multiplied, became more distinct, and finally the water froze and fell, with a tinkling splash as final as death itself, back into the fountain’s pool. The Death Eaters had arrived.
Ginny’s heart pounded, she felt almost sick to her stomach. The Death Eaters slowly parted to make way for someone in the center, their faceless masks sending chills straight into Ginny’s heart. As their leader may their way forward, she had to stifle a scream.
Lord Voldemort walked steadily forward, his red, slit-like eyes gleaming. He was pale as a ghost, and his face flat and snakelike, unrecognizable as the teenage Tom Riddle who had first taken control of Ginny. Nearby, Hermione clapped a horrified hand over her mouth, while Ron next to her recoiled in terror. The Aurors raised their wands, halting Voldemort, who spoke in a voice that shivered and coiled in Ginny’s mind, hissing and cruel, yet perfectly audible…
“You are fools to stand against me,” he jeered. “None can halt the power of the Dark Lord, greatest sorcerer in the world. Why do you fight the inevitable?”
It was then that Ginny sensed a disturbance behind her. She turned slightly, careful to keep her wand at the ready, but forgot her vigilance when she saw Harry, his face pale as a ghost, clutching his hands to his scar. Ginny hurried to his side; his eyes were clenched tightly shut at the pain she imagined must be building in his head at the sound of his nemesis’ voice. She gently slid his hands away from his burning forehead, replacing them with one of her own, the other entangling itself in his. Ginny whispered soothingly in his ear, words with no meaning, only trying to block out the excruciating sound of Voldemort’s repulsive taunts. Harry didn’t open his eyes, and she wondered if he knew who his helper was. She tried to ignore the air that seemed to have suddenly become thinner, dizzying her slightly with its mocking lack of oxygen. She hissed in a breath as his hands tightened on her own, but the breath seemed to catch in her throat as her eyes met the electrifying green of his, now open and vivid in surprise. She dropped her hands as if they had burned her, and struggled to draw in the breath she had missed, but gave up as he started to say something. It would be the same old thing, she knew- there were too many people after him, whether they lost this battle or not. With the cruel words of Voldemort snaking through her ears, the unbearable warmth of his touch, and the shock of their shared, unblinking gaze, she wasn’t sure she could stand such heartbreakingly stupid nobility at the moment. She turned around and stepped forward a few paces, nearly preferring the sickening and terrifying sound of Voldemort’s monologue to the agony of being so close to Harry Potter.
Suddenly Voldemort stopped speaking, and Ginny realized that she didn’t know what he had said, so mesmerized was she by the slither of the words. She watched, rapt with attention, as the entire world seemed to come to a standstill. Then, with not warning, Voldemort’s wand swung upward and he cried out, cold as ice, “AVADA KEDAVRA!”. Ginny watched, as though in slow motion, the jet of green light travel forward and connect with Rufus Scrimgeour.
Her world seemed to explode.
Death Eaters leapt forward and began to fire off a string of curses towards the Aurors and Order members. Ginny at first froze, her wand held still in her hand, before a cry of alarm to her right propelled her to move. She turned toward the sound and saw a terrified stranger, an Auror, staring at a spot somewhere above her other shoulder. She followed his gaze, and saw with a wave of fresh terror, dark shapes trailing toward the fighting, in ragged cloaks and with faces hidden in shadows- Dementors. Ginny remembered clearly her 4th year, and the secret society she herself had named. She closed her eyes and pictured a happy, sunny afternoon, less than a year ago…
“I told her it was a Hungarian Horntail…”
Her shout aroused attention from surrounding Aurors, who added their own various Patronuses to hers, now repelling the Dementors. Ginny shuddered as she felt the cold abate slightly, but she still felt lingering effects as Aurors frequently paused in their fighting to keep the Dementors at bay. The chaos surrounded her, curses and their effects, cries, yells, flashes of blinding light, taunts, and the contrasting silent chill of the Dementors caused panic to revel in her head, she dodged a curse from a Death Eater and fired one of her own back, but all around her seethed an ocean of faceless threats. Ginny backed slowly against a wall, and a Death Eater pursued her relentlessly. The man raised his wand and leered a crooked smile at her, she shuddered and before he could utter a curse, she raised her own wand and shouted, “STUPEFY!”
Even as he keeled over, she sensed rather than saw a figure slumped behind her. She turned around and gasped as she saw Minerva McGonagall leaning against the wall, breathing heavily. Ginny hurried to her side, and McGonagall tried, with Ginny’s help, to stand, but it was too much for the injured professor.
“You rest here,” said Ginny, leading the Professor to a secluded corner. “I’ll be back.”
But Professor McGonagall wasn’t listening. She pointed with a shaking finger behind Ginny’s back, and Ginny had just time enough to turn around and see a huge, towering pair of legs… a giant. Then a knobbly club came crashing down upon her head and she blacked out.
Ginny’s head swam, her eyelashes flutter and she became aware of a pounding pain in her head. She opened her eyes and wondered where she was, as great stone walls and crumbling fireplaces came into view…
Then she remembered; The Ministry, the battle… what happened?
Ginny noticed that the Atrium was unusually silent and her heart began to drum a quick march within her chest. She raised her fingers to soothe her aching temples and they came away wet; she was bleeding freely from one side of her head. She stood up, swayed, and followed a corner, dreading what she would find…
A haze of smoke wound around her legs and she stood against a wall, unnoticed by a circle of people surrounding something… as she approached, the scene came into clearer focus. In the center of this circle of people stood Harry Potter… and he wasn’t alone…Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter had met for the last time.
Ginny forgot her pain and hurried forward, pushing her way through the circle of people watching, wondering why they didn’t help…
But of course. This was to be the last time, and that meant that this time, it was kill or be killed.
Ginny reached Ron and Hermione, standing at the center edge, and her head gave a particularly disorienting throb. She ignored it and watched, transfixed with horror, the scene unfolding before her. It seemed Voldemort was done with conversion speeches, because he stood silently, his red eyes gleaming, his wand raised in front of him. Harry was also still, though Ginny noticed his hands were shaking and his eyes seemed to glow with energy. His body radiated anger so intense it was frightening, though Ginny noticed that even with seventeen years worth of hatred in his pose, he still had to power to make he stomach flutter in a way that would not have been entirely unpleasant had she not been bleeding from the head as well. As both Harry and Voldemort raised their wands, Ginny felt warmth reach her cheeks and realized she was crying.
The circle of onlookers backed away cautiously. Ginny seemed rooted to the spot, and beside her, Ron and Hermione didn’t move. Into Ginny’s mind flashed a vague memory of four years prior…
“It’s all right…Riddle’s finished. Look!
But he wasn’t finished… he still had years of torture and murder to look forward to…
And he might just add one more….
Ginny screamed, but it didn’t matter- Harry had dodged the curse. At the sound of Ginny’s scream, however, Harry’s eyes had darted towards her, giving Voldemort the split-second advantage he needed- his cold voice rang out once more, “AVADA KEDAVRA!”
The jet of green light traveled straight at Harry, who didn’t even bother to raise his wand to resist-
but Harry, it seemed, had gained something from those Defense Against the Dark Arts classes taught by Snape after all. His silent shield charm rebounded the curse, which ran straight into Voldemort.
The silence held unbroken for a few seconds, and then was cut by a Death Eaters scream. Harry stood stock still, staring at the broken body of his nemesis, and only looked up as the sound of running footsteps drew near him. Ginny ran at him, tears spilling down her soot and smoke stained skin, and ignoring the alarmed looks on the onlookers faces, she grabbed him roughly by the collar of his cloak and kissed him fiercely, tasting blood and her own tears on his lips. Her knees threatened to give way and she cried harder, there seemed to be no oxygen in her brain and though his arms were now wrapped securely around her waist, she was afraid to let go. Such a roaring in her ears couldn’t be a good sign in regards to her head, but just when she was certain she would pass out again, she pulled away slightly.
“You are an IDIOT,” she screamed, before leaning forward to meet his lips again.