Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Warning: Many character deaths, and the morality of the actions of the protagonist are subject to your own opinion. I don't write to impose, I write to share.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of it's associated ideas, characters, etc. I do own my own creativity and therefore anything that originated from it is mine.
Ginny Weasley slid into a chair at her breakfast table, a cup of strong coffee stirring itself in front of her. She yawned, covering her mouth, and stretched her shoulders. A newspaper lay folded on top of the worn table, and Ginny ran her hands over the scratched wood for a moment, feeling the texture of burns and chips, before picking up the paper and opening it wide before her.
Another piece of post caught her eye before she could read further than the front-page headline: “Minister of Magic Speaks About Recent Sightings of Known Death-Eaters”. It was a magazine, brightly colored and cheery. The cover was crowded with photographs and previews of the contents, and Ginny smiled at the bold, yellow title splashed across: The Quibbler. Luna must have sent it, but why, Ginny didn’t know. Her eyes fell on the picture in the center of the cover, and her felt her blood run cold.
A photograph of the Minister showed him making a speech at an impressive podium, gesticulating wildly. Crowds below him clapped in silent agreement with his words, and Ginny found the caption beneath with dread pounding in her ears.
”Minister in Secret Collaboration With Undead Dark Lord”, screamed the headline, and Ginny felt hot, molten anxiety climb up her back. “Oh, Luna, no,” she whispered to no one. “Not you.”
Ginny flipped quickly to the indicated page, and read with growing alarm the main article.
“…source claimed that Minister Scrimgeour met with representatives of the Dark Lord several times during the course of the year…”
“…sightings confirmed that the Lord known as “You-Know-Who”, thought to be dead for the past two years, has in fact risen again…”
Ginny shook her head as she read onward, her hands moving up to cover her mouth. She dropped the magazine and hurried into the bedroom. She fumbled for a moment with her shoes and a coat, then turned once and disappeared.
Ginny opened her eyes to see the outside of a pale blue door and a familiar hallway. She rubbed her temples for a second. She had always hated the sensation of Apparition and usually avoided it when traveling anywhere with a fireplace, but Floo Regulation being what it was these days, Apparition was definitely safer. She didn’t want the New Ministry knowing she had visited.
Ginny knocked softly. “Luna?” she called, her voice hoarse. She cleared her throat, and then tried again. “Luna, are you home?”
Silence greeted her, as she had feared. She turned the door handle cautiously (unlocked- another bad sign) and stepped inside.
Everything was exactly as she would expect it to be- quills and parchment scattered a little on the desk, photographs arranged pleasantly on the mantle. One was turned at a slightly different angle than the others, and the fine layer of dust was thinner around it, as though someone had lifted the photograph often to look at it. A smiling man with a round, cheerful face. A happy blonde woman waving. Taken seven months ago. A month before Neville vanished.
Ginny swept through the apartment, her footsteps soft on the carpet. The bed was unmade, the rooms unoccupied. Finally, Ginny headed for the kitchen. The coffee maker was full of dry, ground beans, ready for a fresh brewing. Ginny sighed, trying hard to swallow a tear.
Luna was gone.
Like the others, she was missing, vanished, as though she had been snipped from the world entirely. Her apartment was just as it always was, but she was not in it.
Her body would never be found.
Sometimes, there was a body. Sometimes it was reported that they died in their sleep, that they succumbed to a mysterious illness or accidental poisoning. Ginny suspected these were the ones who never woke up, never had a chance to fight. Most of the victims Ginny had known personally had simply gone. Permanently. Then again, most of the victims Ginny had known were the kind of people who would fight. Like Luna.
Ginny stared around at the room, remembering her friend, and all of her friends and family that had slipped away one night. Every name, every face, every memory of a laugh or a kiss or a voice was agony, burning, aching, stinging, smarting pain that didn’t seem to lessen at all. And beneath that, the simmering anger, at her world, at fate, at Voldemort, at the New Ministry, at the people who let themselves become this way. At everyone who had left her. At herself.
Ginny stood up, knocking back the chair before putting it back in position with a flick of her wand. She left the apartment without looking back.
Molly Weasley brought a tray of sandwiches into the room, dodging Ron’s gangly knees and settling into the old sofa wearily. The past two years had reflected unpleasantly upon her appearance, so that the pleasant, motherly face seemed creased. Her hair was paling, and a streak of grey marred the warm red.
“Did you bring it?” the older woman asked, and from beneath her cloak, Ginny extracted the glossy magazine that had arrived at her apartment that morning. She passed it with blank eyes to her mother, who read it with a shocked expression, and then handed it to Ron. Hermione leaned over to read as well.
“But… but why would she write such a thing? She must have known that… that something would happen,” Hermione asked, sadness and disbelief coating her words.
“I don’t think it mattered to her,” Ginny sighed. “She was never the same old Luna, not after Neville disappeared. And I think…” she paused, uncertain. “I think this is what she would have wanted to be caught doing. Sharing what she believed in.”
A tear wound down Hermione’s cheek, and Ron brushed it away. During their involvement amidst the Second War, they had finally united as couple, and the news had brought smiles to everyone for weeks. Ginny remembered joining in Fred and George’s triumphant dance.
“I’m so sorry, Gin,” Ron said softly.
“Don’t feel sorry for me,” Ginny replied, more coldly than she meant to. She wasn’t angry with them, she knew they didn’t do anything at all, but she harbored her fury. She stood up and swept out of the room, glancing backward as she did without a frown. Her way of saying she was sorry.
Ginny sat in her noisy cubicle office, rubbing her eyes. She gazed down at the memo in front of her before picking up a quill and pulling a blank note-sized bit of parchment towards herself.
”Mr. Twythop will be available at 11:00 this following Tuesday. Please send confirmation.”
At that moment, the man himself stopped in the entrance to her tiny workspace, his wand tucked into a pocket. Mr. Jeremiah Twythop was a large man, black hair peppered with gray falling across his head, and the editor of The Daily Prophet. Ginny had been lucky to skip the usual office-secretary job and was instead drafted by the man himself to be his assistant. Her duties mostly consisted of arranging meetings and running deliveries, but occasionally she was allowed to perform error checks on more minor articles.
“Ginny, do I have a four o’clock this afternoon?” he asked her, and she immediately turned to the calendar stuck to the wall.
“No, sir, but you’ve got a three-thirty with the new head of the Department of Censorship,” she replied promptly.
“Anything I should know?” he inquired curiously.
“Just that he’s the one who’s been lobbying for the updates to the curfew speakers- it was in this morning’s edition.”
“Right, I got that one. Thank you,” he replied, walking away and dodging stacks of parchment lying hazardously across the aisle.
As soon as he left her line of sight, Ginny sat back, her hands on her temples. A chant ran through her head unpleasantly.
Coupled with acquaintances, friends, enemies… it hurt to remember things that she shouldn’t have to.
”-at the New Ministry, insisting upon safety and security for our citizens, and moving forward into a new era with the hope that once and for all, we can live in peace. Laws may inconvenience you. Censors may seem trivial or pointless. But sacrifices must be made in order to preserve our state of calm, and to prevent the rising of another Dark Order such as the one we celebrate the ending of today. Rest assured that those who break our laws, who disrupt our tranquility, who deem regulations and rules as petty and beneath them will meet with strict consequences. These decrees cannot be bent. These proclamations will not fold. And your safety and that of your family will not be compromised!”
A cheer rose from the front of the crowd, carefully orchestrated by other officials. Rufus Scrimgeour looked particularly fierce as he towered over the observers, striking the podium for emphasis. Despite the apparent enthusiasm of the responding noise, Ginny saw that many of the faces surrounding her reflected the skepticism that she felt inside.
This, the second anniversary of the end of the Second War, was marked as usual by speeches and remembrance, but also by reminders. Instilling fear, spreading trust in the government. Ginny wondered if there were any real citizens who believed this rubbish.
The Minister repeated the story frequently- Ministry workers subduing Death Eaters and surrounding Voldemort, defeating him as a team. Funny, but that wasn’t how Ginny remembered it.
When she had first read the story in the Daily Prophet, a week after the last battle, Ginny had felt the fury mix with grief within her. Now she still felt fury- but it was coupled with a grim understanding. After the battle, the public was looking for someone to trust- and the Ministry had quickly gathered this trust, directing it where they wanted. The idea to plant the story really was a brilliant one, and the workers of the Ministry were hailed as heroes. And of course, they would want to get rid of the idea that one person could defeat the Dark Lord alone. They wouldn’t want to give that sort of power to an individual.
Ginny slipped out of the crown, not quite blending in with her fiery hair.
She’d heard enough.
Ginny tentatively greeted the conclusion that rose up to meet her mind. Could she do it? Would she dare?
It was time for things to start to change.
I hope that was good : ]. You can tell me so, you know, if you like, in that lovely review box down there.