“Sorry I’m late!” Ginny called as she breezed in to the small café where Harry and the secretary were already sitting. She smirked when she saw his obvious relief at her arrival. “Tonks held me up but I’m here now.”
Harry stood and pulled out a chair for her, an action that would have normally caused her to glower at him but she simply smiled for the secretary’s benefit and took the offered seat. “You didn’t miss anything, we were just getting started.” Harry informed her.
“Hello Sharon.” Ginny said politely to the other woman. “How are you today?”
“Just fine Ginny, thank you for asking.” The attractive brunette studied her momentarily before launching back in to her discussion with Harry. “I’ve taken care of the international portkey and I have your rooms booked.”
“Room. We only want one room.” Harry informed her and Ginny stared at him as if he’d grown two heads.
“What are you on about?” She asked him incredulously.
His eyes pleaded with her, trying to placate Ginny who had noticed belatedly that the secretary’s face had taken on a green tinge. “Maybe… two beds but just one room. We don’t want to draw more attention to ourselves than is necessary while we’re there.” He kept his gaze on Ginny.
She closed her eyes briefly and opened them to smile graciously at him. She knew this role and she could play it. “Of course, Harry. We are supposed to be married on this mission. Isn’t that the reason that Ron is not going with us?”
“Yes.” He agreed, also picking up on her act. He took her hand and raised it to his lips. “It won’t be a hardship though.”
“You are such a tease Harry.” Ginny raised an eyebrow and casually removed her hand from his grasp. She turned to Sharon and smiled indulgently. “Men are so hopeless sometimes.”
The other woman looked like she had swallowed shards of glass. “Of course. One room then and two beds.”
“Oh,” Ginny waved her hand airily. “Two beds aren’t necessary since we aren’t likely to be sleeping there much. It’s all for show anyway.” She smiled confidently at Harry. “We should go. We have training in ten minutes.”
Harry stood and moved to pull out Ginny’s chair. She got up as he removed some galleons from his pocket. “Do enjoy your lunch without us.” He said vaguely to the other woman and together they left.
When the door was safely closed behind them Ginny punched his arm and was gratified to see him wince. “You made me look like a slag!”
His face was pained but she wasn’t sure if it was from being hit or her accusation. “I just… I didn’t want her to get the wrong impression about me! I don’t know why women think they can throw themselves at me.” He stopped walking and put his hands on her shoulders. “I didn’t mean to make you look bad. I spoke without thinking it through. You and I always sleep together when we are on a mission unless Ron’s there.”
She looked down at the ground. “We’ve worked so hard to make sure that no one but the family knows that we live together and you might have just blown that.” Her hurt must have shown through because he also looked upset. “It could be in the paper and then we’ll be hounded by the press and then Kingsley will have us for breakfast because we won’t be able to do our jobs properly.”
“Shit.” He ran a hand through his disheveled hair. “I really messed up.” He closed his eyes. “I didn’t expect you to go along with it either.”
“If I didn’t love you as much as I do then I wouldn’t have. I don’t like being used to keep your fans away. You’re a big boy and you should be able to take care of that by now.” She put a hand on his face and he opened his eyes to see that she was smiling. “I think we are okay. Sharon might be too embarrassed to spread rumors.”
“I hope so.” He pulled her in to his arms. “I’m really sorry Gin.”
“I know. Don’t worry about it.” She looked down at her watch. “We really have to go or we’ll be late.”
The Apparated back to the Ministry and made their way to the large training room that was reserved for the Aurors. They greeted a few people as they passed by the other Auror’s cubicles and opened the door to see that Ron was already dueling with Dawlish.
“Shall we get started then?” Harry asked her.
Ginny grinned. “You’re on.”
The two faced each other, neither ready to fire. It was always a toss up on who would win when she and Harry fought although there had been a time when he would have won every single time. Ginny had worked tirelessly to improve and she knew Harry better than anyone else. It made knowing how he was going to react easier. Finally he started the duel by attempting to stun her, which she blocked easily. She retaliated with a Furnunculus curse but he rolled away and threw another hex at her. On it went; trading spells back and forth… neither hitting the other for ten minutes before Ginny managed to hit him with a tickling charm. He started to laugh uncontrollably as he fell to his knees.
She walked over and pointed her wand at his head. “I win.”
She jumped aside when he tried to trip her. “Stop… the… tickling…” He managed to gasp.
“Finite Incantatem.” She said and he stopped laughing.
“Honestly mate, sometimes I wonder how you defeated Voldemort.” Ron walked over and winked at her. “I mean, you can’t even beat my baby sister in a simple duel.”
Ginny put her hands on her hips. “Baby sister? Does that mean you think you can beat me in a duel?”
Ron’s face paled. “Er… no. I know I can’t. I was just teasing, honest!” She continued to glare at him. “You can’t kill me… Hermione’d go spare! We think she’s…” He stopped and looked sheepishly at the floor.
“Oh Ron! Really?” Ginny felt her face split in to a grin. “Does this mean I’m going to be an aunt?”
He shrugged but smiled happily at her. “She’s seeing the Healer today.”
“That’s great mate!” Harry said warmly and pulled him in to a short hug. “I know you two have been wanting a baby for a while now.”
“It really is Ron.” She hugged her brother and poked his side affectionately. “I’m happy for you.”
“We don’t know for sure yet… she just thinks that she is.” Ron reasoned and she could tell her brother was trying not to get his hopes up. “Anyway, it would get Mum off our back about giving her grandchildren.”
Ginny almost felt the smile slip from her face but she held on to it stubbornly. All of her brothers were married; Bill with Fleur, Charlie with Lark, Percy with Penelope, Fred with Piper and George with Summer. She was the only one who was not married, probably never would be and the pain of it almost got to her… it would have if Hermione had not come running in to the training room and distracting Ginny from her painful thoughts. Hermione’s happy face was all Ron needed and he scooped her up and spun them around.
When he finally stopped they kissed tenderly. “I had to come and tell you! Tonks let me in and…” Ron stopped his wife’s ramblings with another kiss.
“I love you.” Ginny heard him whisper. The dark that constantly swirled around her started to close in again. Why was everyone happy but her? What had she done to deserve this? She was snapped back from her mood forcefully by Harry’s hand on her shoulder.
“That’s brilliant!” Harry crowed, leaving Ginny’s side and pulled Hermione in to a big hug. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks Harry.” Her glowing face turned to Ginny and she was ready, her perfect mask in place.
“I’m so happy for me Hermione!” Ginny hugged her sister-in-law as warmly as she could manage. Everyone gave her a puzzled look at her strange pronouncement. “I’ve been telling all six of my idiotic brothers to get on with procreating so that I could be an aunt and now I finally get my wish!”
“Oh you!” Hermione laughed along with everyone else before turning back to her husband. “I have to get back to work but I just couldn’t keep it to myself.”
Ginny tuned away from the happy couple as Ron walked his wife out of the training room. She saw that Harry was studying her closely. “I saw Gin.” He said quietly.
She looked around and noticed that the room was empty before turning angrily on him. “I held it in!” She replied defensively.
“I know but you almost didn’t. Are you jealous?”
She shrugged, honestly unsure of exactly what the problem was. “Does it really matter?”
“You could be happy.”
“You know I can’t. I’ve been trying for years to get over it and I haven’t managed it yet. You’re one to talk. You are just as miserable as I am.” She scuffed her foot and turned away from him. “Ever since my first year I have been living one huge lie. First it was pretending I was not possessed and then it was pretending that I was fine with everything. I was the good student, popular and well liked. As a bonus I was great at Quidditch.” She glanced sideways at him. “Then I become an Auror and together you and I have caught the most Death Eater and stopped countless murders but I still feel like dragon dung.”
“Ginny… I know.” He almost reached for her but stopped himself. “To the rest of the world we appear to have it all but inside…” His voice trailed off.
“This isn’t getting us anywhere. All we’re doing is feeling sorry for ourselves.” Ginny hunched her shoulders.
He was lost in thought for several minutes. “Why is it harder on us?” He sighed and started to pace. “Have you ever wondered that? Why are we the ones who are suffering and can’t move on?”
She snorted. “I have pondered over that many times and all I can think of is that we were the only ones to see him die.”
He nodding, knowing whom she was referring too. “Maybe it was seeing both of them die.”
“We were hit with that… that wave of…”
He nodded. “Pure evil.”
“We could tell Hermione… ask for help. She works for the Department of Mysteries and this is just the sort of mystery she thrives on.” Ginny thought allowed but immediately dismissed it. “Never mind… we can’t do that to her, especially not now.”
“No. We can’t worry her with this. We’ve lived with it this long; I think we can survive a bit longer.” He finally did what she’d been longing for since they had started talking and pulled her to him. She gave in to his strength, feeling pathetic for not being able to take care of herself. “I always feel better when I hold you.” He informed her and she jumped slightly.
“Seriously?” She asked hopefully, letting her guard down even more, pleading with her voice that he not hurt her.
“Yes. I don’t feel so alone when you’re with me. Sometimes I can be in a room with twenty other people and still feel like I am by myself.” He explained quietly.
“I feel better right now too although I feel weak for wanting this.” Ginny said against his chest and she felt his cheek rest against the top her head.
“Does that make me weak as well?”
She giggled. “I guess it does.”
“We are quite the pair.” He sighed.
“We are quite the mess.” She reminded him.
He lifted his head but pulled her in closer. “We’re the top Aurors in the Ministry.”
“And yet, we can’t stop having nightmares like two small children.” She finished.
He laughed. “You know what else is scary?”
She looked up at him, grinning cheekily. “The fact that we sound like Fred and George?”
His face sobered and he watched her closely. “We should get out of here. We have to pack so that we can leave first thing tomorrow.”
“Are you okay?” She questioned, suddenly concerned. “You aren’t hiding something are you?”
“No. I’m just worried about someone coming in on us.” He let go and started to walk slowly towards the door. “We have to leave really early tomorrow. Sharon said our portkey is set for 4am.”
“What time will that be in San Diego?” Ginny asked him.
“Too bloody early.” He opened the door and walked out to find Kingsley. “We’ll get there at 8:00pm so we could go straight to the hotel and get back to sleep if we want.” They located him quickly and Harry explained that they were leaving to pack and get to bed early.
He studied them both before speaking in his slow, deep voice. “Have a safe trip and bring back a souvenir for me.”
Ginny smiled cynically at his reference to their quarry. He may refer to Walden Macnair as a trinket but she and Harry had been tracking him for months and he’d been located in California the day before. “We’ll bring you something nice, I’m sure.” She said honestly. The press would be elated to have him in custody and might get off their back about not making any progress. Muggles were still being killed even though Voldemort was long dead and gone. There were rumors about who was organizing it but nothing substantial to place the finger of blame.
“We’ll be going then. Tomorrow morning will come very early.” Harry informed their boss and the two left to go to the Apparation point in the Ministry’s Atrium.
“Are you all packed?” Harry asked her and Ginny turned to see him leaning against the doorframe.
She smiled as she zipped her small tote. “All set.”
“I’m heading to bed then. I’ll wake you up as soon as I’m done with my shower.” He looked at her for a moment longer. “Good night.”
“Night.” She whispered and turned back to her bed and climbed under the covers. Sleep overcame her easily.
“He’s escaped?” Ginny whispered in horror as she looked at the report that Kingsley Shacklebolt had just handed her before remembering herself and returning the determined expression to her face. “We’ll just have to find him again.”
She watched Harry pace in front of their boss. “When did he break out?” He finally stopped to stare hard at Kingsley.
“He was reported missing just over an hour ago. We don’t have a more precise time.” He drawled slowly. “I expect you two to locate him.”
“We will.” Ginny assured him. “I’ve gotten Lucius Malfoy once and I can do it again.”
“Right.” Harry agreed. “You can count on us.”
“What about Draco?” She asked suddenly.
“He’s still in his cell.” The older man replied.
“Lucius escaped and left his own son in prison?” Harry questioned and Ginny could tell that he was not really surprised.
Their boss sighed. “He did. I will speak with you later when we have more information.”
They both watched the stately black man walk away before Ginny let go a string of swear words. “Why won’t that man stop tormenting me?”
“I don’t know Gin.” He replied honestly. “We’ll get him though. He needs to pay for nearly killing you.”
She glared hard at the parchment. “I’m going to make him really regret it this time Harry. Going to Azkaban is not recompense enough for giving me that damn diary.”
“We’ll get him.” He reiterated and she could hear the determination in his voice.
Ginny’s eyes flew open and she let out an exasperated cry. Why wouldn’t the dreams leave her? She sighed and got up to go to Harry’s room. She opened the door and saw him open his eyes and blink several times as if trying to awaken fully. She made her way over to him and pulled back the covers before climbing in. She scooted over and cuddled up next to him. “What happens if we never catch Lucius Malfoy? Will the war ever truly be over while he’s on the loose?”
“It may not be over but I’m sure we’ll get him. We’ve gotten a several leads over the past few months since he escaped and we almost got him last month.” Harry reminded her calmly.
“It’s not enough. I want him to pay Harry. Maybe if I feel vindicated then I’ll be able to move on.”
“I promise you’ll be able to hex him as soon as he’s caught.” He hugged her. “Go to sleep. We have to be up in five hours.”
“Harry?” She looked up at him.
“Hm?” He mumbled, his eyes already half closed.
“You’ll let me sleep in, right?”
The laughter rumbled deeply through his chest. “I’ll let you sleep as long as possible.”
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