Chapter 4 : Chapter 4: The Brush Off
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Mrs. Weasley had tried to explain that Ginny was upset over the break up, “Not that we blame you, dear,” she’d explained while patting Harry’s shoulder, “but she’s taking it badly. While we’d always hoped you two would hit it off, you’re young yet.”
Harry had squirmed uncomfortably under her sympathetic gaze. He knew that Ginny was not upset over their breakup. She knew his reasons and respected them but for some reason she was lying to her family… he just hadn’t worked out why.
“When were you married, Mrs. Weasley?” Hermione asked as she examined Harry’s dress robes.
Mrs. Weasley’s mouth softened into a reminiscent smile, “Oh, I was eighteen when we married, fresh out of Hogwarts. Mr. Weasley and I were so in love and he had his job with the Ministry. Somehow we made it work.”
Hermione looked thoughtfully at her for a moment before adding, “I’m going to be eighteen in September.”
Mrs. Weasley nodded, “I know it can be a daunting thought, but you’re young yet. We were living in a different time back then.”
“I wonder when my parents god married,” Harry blurted out suddenly and then blushed. Although the thought had been there, he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it with them.
“I believe they were right out of Hogwarts as well, but you should ask Professor Lupin when you see him on Saturday.” Hermione knelt down at his side and turned him by pulling at his robes till he complied and moved about for her. “His hem is straight.”
“Excellent, now Ron… are you changed?” Mrs. Weasley stared expectantly at the bathroom door.
“Yeah,” Ron grumbled as he pushed the door open. Harry snorted. Ron’s dark blue robes were inches to short and obviously too tight in the shoulders. His arms wouldn’t lower completely to his sides as the material was stretched tight across his chest.
Mrs. Weasley sighed and ordered him to take it off. Ron grunted and marched out again, “I’ll have to run to Diagon Alley tomorrow, I suppose.”
Hermione cocked her head to the side and crossed her arms, obviously lost in thought. “What’s up?” Harry asked, watching his best friend closely.
“Can’t we just enlarge the robes a bit? I mean… they’re too small all over.” She looked over to Mrs. Weasley for confirmation.
Mrs. Weasley nodded hesitantly, “I suppose we can, although I’m not sure if-”
“I want to try,” Hermione interjected hastily, “if you don’t mind. I mean, it won’t hurt to try, right?”
“No,” Mrs. Weasley agreed as Ron walked back into the room with them. “He’s the youngest so there isn’t anyone else to pass them down to.”
“What are you going to do with them?” Ron asked as he handed the robes over to Hermione.
“Hopefully I’ll enlarge them just enough for you to be able to wear them. Let’s see…” she put the robes on his bed, straightening them and examining them. She pulled out her wand and made a small flick. “Engorgio!”. The robes grew several inches before she tapped the robes and pulled her wand back. They stopped growing.
Harry grinned at her while Mrs. Weasley clapped. “That was well done, Hermione! Here Ron, slip them on and see if they fit now.”
They fit perfectly. Hermione walked over to Ron and smoothed them down, pulling at his shoulders to make sure they weren’t snug. Harry saw that Ron was blushing at the attention but seemed to be lapping it up nonetheless. “I think they’ll do,” Hermione finally pronounced.
Ron didn’t argue.
The day of the wedding dawned sunny and humid. Harry dressed with Ron after breakfast and was sweating through his dress robes within minutes. He watched Ron pull at his neckline and shifted uncomfortably, wishing he could cool off.
“Ruddy outfits! Honestly, why we have to dress up when it isn’t our wedding is beyond me!” Ron yanked hard at his sleeve and flopped down on his bed.
Harry nodded and turned at the knock on Ron’s door. “It’s me,” Hermione called as she pushed the door open.
Her hair was pulled up into a bun with curls spilling out everywhere. Her robes, which were pale green, matched a few flowers that were pinned into her hair. “Are you two ready?”
“Yeah,” Harry muttered and grabbed his wand off the desk. He turned to Ron, who hadn’t spoken yet, and saw that his best friend looked awestruck. He followed his gaze back to Hermione whose cheeks were flushed pink. “Uh… I’ll meet you two downstairs, all right?”
“Uh,” Hermione said and then shook her head as if clearing it. “We’re needed downstairs anyway. The Portkey leaves in a few minutes.”
Harry stepped out of the door but not before hearing Ron whisper to her, “You look great.”
He hurried down the steps to find Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, Ginny, and Charlie waiting for them. Charlie had arrived the previous day with bags under his eyes and several scratches on his arms. Harry glanced at Ginny and nearly stumbled. She looked beautiful in her golden dress robes, but that wasn’t what caught his eye. The robes hung limply on her form and it was obvious that her self-imposed starvation was taking its toll. His heart fluttered as he watched her, but she wouldn’t meet his gaze. He hated to see her doing this to herself, and what was worse was that she wouldn’t speak to him.
“We’re all ready then?” Mrs. Weasley asked as she held out a book for them to place a finger on. “We’ll be meeting Bill there, of course.”
“I bet he pukes,” Fred said jovially to the room at large. Ron snorted while George chuckled.
“What are your odds?” Charlie asked Fred.
Mrs. Weasley, apparently not finding this amusing, yelled at her sons. “Bill will do just fine today! Not everyone is nervous about getting married!”
“Now Molly, dear…” Arthur began, trying to pacify her.
“And you!” She pointed a shaking finger at Fred. “No feeding him anything to make him throw up just to win the bet!”
Fred looked affronted and clasped a hand to his heart, “Now Mum… I wouldn’t dream of doing anything like-”
“The Portkey!” Hermione interjected; she had been ignoring the argument and focusing on the mantel clock. They all scrambled to place a finger on the book. Within seconds Harry felt the familiar jolt behind his navel as the Portkey magically transported them to a castle in France.
They landed and stumbled, but each managed to keep his footing. “I can’t wait until I can Apparate,” Harry said to Ron.
“I hear ya mate,” Ron agreed. “Soon as you’re seventeen next week, we’ll go take the test.” It was a testament to how healing Hermione was for Ron that he didn’t sound bitter about not having passed the first time.
"Let's go you two," Mrs. Weasley commanded as they made their way to the large front doors. It opened magically before them, and they walked through, finding the interior blessedly cool. Harry looked around, noting the bunches of white roses spread about the cavernous room. The stone castle on the outside was filled rich walnut wooden carvings adorning the walls inside.
“Ah good,” Bill said coming up to them. He had healed since his attack, but his face was a mass of scars. While it might have looked ugly on another man, Bill carried himself in a way that it made him an imposing figure. His robes were a midnight black that contrasted with the bright red of his hair. He gave his mum and Ginny a hug before shaking hands all around. “I’m glad you made it safely.”
“Oh yes, dear. The trip was fine,” Mrs. Weasley said, fussing over his robes, straightening them for him.
“So son,” Mr. Weasley began, putting a hand on his eldest son’s shoulder. “How are you feeling?”
Harry watched Fred and George perk up a bit at this, despite how stiff and uncomfortable they both looked in their dress robes. “Yeah, Bill… any chance that you might be feeling a bit queasy?” George asked hopefully.
Bill’s eyebrow raised suspiciously while Harry, Ron, and Charlie laughed. Mrs. Weasley tisked before saying to George, “You leave your brother alone! This is a big day for him.”
“Course we will, Mum,” George assured her, although Mrs. Weasley did not appear to believe them.
“Come on then,” Bill interrupted them before she could say any more. “I’ll show you to where you can freshen up a bit before the service.”
He led them past several decorated tables and through an archway to the right of the entrance hall. They followed a long, ivy filled hallway until they reached a solid oak door. Bill knocked once and it opened to reveal Gabrielle who blushed and ducked back in the room. Bill grinned and shook his head. “The other women are in there,” he told Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, and Hermione.
“Thanks Bill,” Hermione said as she entered the room, grabbing Ginny’s arm and dragging her in. Ginny had remained silent for most of the morning. While Charlie had not said anything to him about it the night before, he knew that he was in for it after the wedding. Fred and George, however, seemed to feel that if Ginny wanted Harry pummeled, that she could do it herself.
When the door had shut behind the ladies, Bill turned and glared at Harry. “What’s wrong with Ginny?”
“Oy!” Ron said instantly. “It’s not his fault she’s acting like a nutter! She was fine when we left school, and by the time we got back home she was acting like a-”
“Ron!” Harry growled, wanting to silence his friend. He hadn’t told Ron or Hermione about the conversation between Ginny and Tonks that he’d overheard. “I don’t know,” he told Bill. “But you know her… I’m sure she’s got a good reason for it.” That didn’t help his conscious though. Something was going on….
Bill didn’t seem comforted by this, but he let it drop as he led them down the hallway again to another doorway. “I’m supposed to be getting ready in here,” he told them as he pushed the door open to reveal several masculine couches lined around a large room with stone walls.
Harry sat down in one of the large couches, and Ron sat next to him. His best friend was silent, and he knew why. After seeing how thin Ginny was, he couldn’t really blame him. “Ron,” he said just above a whisper. “I overheard something that I think you need to know about….”
Ron had reacted as expected. He’d wanted to go instantly to confront her, but as Harry pointed out, if Tonks knew about it then she would be fine.
“We should tell Hermione,” Ron muttered as they waited for the pictures to be finished. The dresses had been opulent, the bride radiant, and the service tedious. “She’ll know what to say.”
“Yeah,” Harry muttered as he watched Ginny force herself to smile. She seemed to be fading behind the other women, Mrs. Delacour, Gabrielle, and especially Fleur. He didn’t know if she was doing it on purpose, but it seemed like her eyes were losing their focus. When the photographer finally snapped his last shot, Harry went instantly to her, taking her aside. “Have you eaten?”
“Lay off, Harry!” Ginny growled before pushing him away to go down to the reception.
Ron ambled over, “I suppose she won’t talk to you.”
Harry shook his head and watched her go, pushing the strap of her gown back up. He hated seeing her like this, but it was important. She was safer without him. Her arms were thin as twigs, and her long hair hung limply down her back to her waist. It used to look luxurious on her, but now it seemed to be a burden. “No.”
“Come on, you two!” Hermione called to them. “We’re expected at the reception now.”
Ron sprinted over to her, offering her his arm with a lopsided grin. Hermione blushed and linked hers through his. Harry followed sedately behind them. He hoped to corner Tonks and find out what had happened, but he wasn’t sure that she’d tell him.
The food was delicious… Ron had filled his plate several times, same as Harry, while Hermione merely gaped at them. “I simply don’t understand how you two can eat so much!”
“We’re growing boys, Hermione,” Ron said jovially before popping a chocolate covered strawberry in his mouth.
“If you grow anymore you’ll have to wear Hagrid’s clothes!” she told him with a laugh.
“Nah,” Ron denied, leaning back and patting his stomach.
Harry chuckled and finished off his pumpkin juice as he watched Charlie finish giving the toast. His stomach seemed to revolt as he realized that Ginny had, once again, not eaten anything. He’d purposefully avoided meeting her gaze throughout the meal.
“Oh! Come on!” Hermione grabbed Ron’s hand to tug him to his feet. “We have to send Bill and Fleur off.”
“We have to what?” Harry asked as he also stood.
“They’re about to leave for their honeymoon,” Hermione explained as they joined the line. “Then we’ll go back to the party.”
“You mean we have to stay in these outfits even after they leave?” Ron questioned as he looked down at his dress robes in disgust. “Getting married is a right pain in the arse!”
She frowned at him, crossing her arms. “You don’t ever want to get married, then?”
He blinked in surprise as if the thought had never occurred to him, which, Harry supposed, it might not have. “I dunno! But not tomorrow, so what does it matter?”
Harry almost groaned. Thankfully, Bill and Fleur left at that moment so both of his friends were distracted. Afterwards, he walked back into the hall as the music started. Ron, obviously cottoning on to the fact that he’d said something stupid earlier, asked Hermione to dance and the two of them wandered off.
Harry ambled over to the table, ready to sit down and watch the twins dancing with several of Fleur’s friends from Beauxbatons but someone grabbed his arm, spinning him around.
Ginny glared up at him, her eyes steeled. “We’re going to dance.”
It wasn’t a question.
“All right,” Harry said as she pulled him out onto the floor, and put her arms around his neck.
He felt his heart skip a beat as he looked down at her beautiful face. His palms were sweating but he hoped she didn’t notice as he placed them on her tiny waist. “You’re too thin.”
“I know,” she said and looked around before saying, very quietly, “Can you cast Muffliato without anyone knowing?”
He nodded and slid his hand surreptitiously into his pocket, grabbing his wand. Fortunately, he didn’t need to move it much to cast it, and Ginny covered his motions by pretending to trip. “What’s up, Ginny? Why aren’t you eating?”
Ginny rolled her eyes and said mockingly, “I’m pining away for you! Didn’t you know that?”
“I don’t buy it,” he said flatly. “I overheard you and Tonks.”
She considered him for a minute before responding. “I know and that’s the only reason I’m going to tell you anything. I can’t have you messing this up for me.”
“Messing what up?” Harry asked, frustrated at her words.
She glanced around again, “Do you trust everyone in this room?”
“What?” he questioned stupidly before it finally sunk in. “No, of course I don’t.”
Suddenly her chocolate eyes flicked back up to his and he saw the determination there. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” That didn’t even require thought. “What is this about?”
“I’m doing what I need to, and now I need your help, Harry. I need you to trust me.” She gazed up at him imploringly. “Can you do that?”
Harry frowned, not liking where this was going. “What are you going to do?”
She shrugged, “I’m going to do what needs to be done. Will you trust me?”
He nodded slowly, still unsure of what she was planning on doing. “I trust you.”
“Remove the spell,” Ginny instructed and helped him conceal his actions. She gazed up at him, regret showing for the first time. “I’m really sorry about this Harry but you’re going to have to trust me.”
“What do you-”
She’d reared back and slapped him hard across the cheek. Harry stumbled back and lifted a hand to his cheek, stunned.
“I HATE YOU!” Ginny bellowed at the top of her lungs and Harry gawked at her stupidly. “WHY CAN’T YOU LOVE ME!?” She sniffed convincingly, like she might actually be crying, and finally added, very loudly, “You’re not worth it!” before storming out of the hall.
Harry felt numb with shock. She’d pleaded with him to trust her but… what was all that about?
Ron and Hermione dashed over to him along with the other Weasley’s. “What did you say to her?” Charlie demanded instantly.
“I didn’t say-” Harry began but then he stopped. She’d needed something from him… his trust. More than that she’d asked him to help her. If he revealed the conversation, then he’d be breaking that. “I can’t date her, Charlie. I’m cursed, and it would put her in more danger.” He met the other man’s eyes steadily, hoping that the explanation would suffice.
“I’ll go see to her,” Mrs. Weasley began, but they were interrupted by Fleur’s mother.
“Molly… we need you to reassure the guests!” The other woman didn’t even wait for a reply, just took her by the arm and moved her away.
“I’ll go check on her,” George offered. “She’ll probably want to go home.”
“All right, George,” Mr. Weasley said and George departed to follow his sister. He turned back to Harry, his fatherly expression softening. “We understand, Harry; we really do. Ginny is just having a rough time accepting it.”
Harry doubted that very much but he nodded like he agreed with them. Something was happening with her and he needed to speak to Tonks… now.
He found her at her seat, watching him approach as if she’d been expecting him. He expected her to tell him what Ginny was up to.
Tonks, however, refused to talk. “No, Harry,” she insisted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He glared at her raised eyebrow. It was not the same vivid shade of pink as her hair but rather a light brown. “I know you know something,” Harry whispered harshly. He was not sure what was going on but he wanted to figure it out quickly. “Why did she slap me?”
“I don’t know,” Tonks answered exasperatedly. This time Harry believed her. She looked around before dragging him off a bit, away from everyone else, including Ron and Hermione who had been watching their argument. “Look,” she pulled him around until he was facing him and he marveled momentarily at how strong she was. “If you say anything about what you think you heard, then you will put her in danger.”
His heart leaped in his chest and began to race. “What do you mean?” He’d broken up with Ginny to keep her safe. If what she was doing was dangerous….
“Just do what I said and keep your trap shut Harry,” she growled and walked away from him.
He gazed over at Ron and Hermione who were watching him intently. He didn’t have an answer for them.
Harry walked back over, shaking his head slightly to let them know that they’d discuss it later. Ron nodded and said, “So what do we do now?”
Harry shrugged, “I don’t know, but if-”
They all spun to see George sprinting into the room, his face white, and clutching a note in his hand.
“What? What happened?” Mrs. Weasley was on him in an instant.
“She’s gone!” George repeated frantically. “She stunned me when I got there and left this note on me. I only just woke up but I can’t find her!”
Pandemonium broke out through the room as all the Weasley’s converged on George. Mr. Weasley took the note from his son and read it aloud to the small gathered group, trying to keep his voice low so that the curious onlookers couldn’t overhear them.
“I’m tired of being in this family so I’m breaking ties! Don’t bother to look for me because you won’t find me. I will be safe but I don’t want to speak to you again. I’ve taken my cat, Crookshanks, and left.” Mr. Weasley finished reading and looked up at the group, his eyes looking old and worn out.
“What?!” Hermione blurted out blankly. “She took my cat?”
“Why’d she call him her cat?” Ron asked, sounding just as bewildered as Harry felt.
“No…” Mrs. Weasley wailed and spun to leave the room. “We have to go look for her.
Nodding once, Charlie led the way. Harry took up the rear with Ron and Hermione. They would all look but Harry doubted they would find her. Ginny was too smart for that… too clever.
He glanced over at his best friends and saw the same concern on their face that he felt. Ginny… what are you up to?
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