Chapter 10 : Chapter 10: Masks
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Ginny, Ron and Hermione were looking at him. “I need you to hold them off.” Harry informed them. “You three are the best. Go help stop the Death Eaters.”
“We aren’t leaving you mate.” Ron told him sternly.
Ginny looked over at the large battling group. There were smaller battles going on everywhere but most of the fighting was in that one area. She saw a flash of green and someone fell. “Shit!” She cried before turning to the others. “We have to go! They’re killing them.” She turned to Harry. “Where is he?”
Harry pointed to the forest. “Over there.”
“Then go!” She screamed. “We’ll be with you shortly.”
“Ginny…” Hermione began.
She shook her head at her older friend. “We need to go and help the other students first! They are dying and we are the best duelers. Come on.” The four friends split up and moved towards their destiny. Ron and Hermione ran into the thick of the battle but Ginny stayed on the edge, taking out Death Eaters from the side. She stunned some but mostly she hit them with curses that would incapacitate them for several hours.
Ginny was nauseated by the thought of Harry fighting by himself but they needed to protect the young students who were hiding in the castle. What surprised Ginny most is that she could easily hold her own in the fighting. The fear she was feeling for Harry steadily grew worse as she dueled the black robed figures and was extremely tempted to seek him out. She heard a noise from behind and her and turned hurriedly. Her heart stopped when she saw the green light leave the wand of a tall Death Eater. She ran quickly towards their battle. “Stupefy!” Ginny shouted and the red stream hit a Death Eater who fell unceremoniously to the ground but her eyes were on her fallen friend. “Seamus!”
“Shit.” Ginny growled when the alarm went off. “I hate that one.” She sighed and closed her eyes tight against the pain. Seamus had been eighteen and too young to die. They were all too young to die; too young to fight but they had done it anyway. She heard the shower turn off and she rubbed her eyes in a futile attempt to erase the horrible images from her mind.
“Gin?” She heard him enter the room before she opened her eyes. He was in his bathrobe and looking down at her in concern. “Another one?”
“Of course.” She bit out before throwing the blanket off. “I’ll be ready to leave in fifteen minutes.” She went off for a shower. She hated snapping at him but the sullenness that the dreams always left her with was starting to overwhelm her. She had been dreaming steadily for the last few weeks and the lack of sleep was taking its toll on her. She knew that Harry was feeling it as well. She showered quickly and dressed before walking out to find him sitting dejectedly on their couch. She sat down next to him and put her arm around his waist. “I’m sorry I snapped this morning. I saw Seamus die again.”
He swallowed convulsively before answering. “We are both sleep-deprived. I know you don’t mean it.”
“That doesn’t give me the right to take it out on you.” She reminded him softly. She pulled him down to her and hugged him. “We have to stick together and I’m sorry that I said what I did.”
He nodded and held on for several long minutes before letting go and standing up. “We should get to the Ministry.” They both Apparated to work and walked to the Auror Headquarters.
“Morning you two.” Ron called cheerfully as they passed. “We have a meeting in a few minutes with Kingsley.”
“Good.” Ginny muttered. “Conference room?” She looked at her brother expectantly and he nodded.
“You okay?” Ron asked her as the smile slipped from his face.
“I’m fine.” She grinned at him. The mask she always wore around her family was firmly in place. “I haven’t had any breakfast yet this morning. You know how I get when I don’t eat.”
Her answered seemed to have pacified him. “Well… eat quickly then.”
She waved and walked away towards her own desk, not wanting to put up more of a front than she already had to. It was moments like this that she hated having her family around and she was still not sure how she would make it through tomorrow.
“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Harry came up to her and put an arm around her shoulder. “We’ll make it through together.”
She giggled. “You always know what I am thinking.”
“Not always.” He looked up as Ron entered.
“Meeting time.” He intoned jovially.
Harry dropped his arm and followed Ron out of the room. “Why are you so bloody happy this morning?”
He laughed good-naturedly. “I’m excited about tomorrow. I get to watch Mum torment everyone else about having children.”
“Glad you think it’s amusing.” Ginny grumbled before smacking her brother’s arm. “You do realize that you are laughing at me?”
“Er.” His face was more contrite. “Well, she does want you to get married. I can understand that since being married is brilliant.”
She looked away quickly so that he wouldn’t see her tears. “Some of us are not right for marriage.” When she was in control she smiled blandly at him. “I expect you to divert Mum’s attention away from the rest of us tomorrow. You will keep her talking about your baby or else.”
He eyed her warily. “Or else what?”
“Or else that picture I have of you two snogging in the Room of Requirement will make its way in to Fred and George’s hands.” She raised one eyebrow and looked at him knowingly.
“Damn.” He breathed, his face going red. “I’d forgotten about that picture!”
Ginny laughed at him. “If my memory is to be believed, and my mind is quite good, then it shows that neither of you were wearing shirts at the time. I doubt you want our brothers to have that kind of blackmail on you or your wife.” She grinned at his resigned face and opened the door to the conference room.
“You are evil sometimes.” Ron hissed at her. “Imagine doing that to your own brother!”
“So you’ll distract Mum, then?” She beamed at him since she already knew what his answer would be.
“Yes.” He groused. They all took a seat to wait as the rest of the department filed in slowly.
Kingsley walked in and took his seat at the end of the table. Everyone quieted instantly as he spoke in his deep voice. “We have received information about the location of Lucius Malfoy.”
A hushed murmur floated around the room and Ginny felt her lungs freeze. Why was Kingsley discussing this with all of the Aurors when it was her and Harry’s job to locate him? Harry took her hand under the table and squeezed it reassuringly. They all watched their boss closely.
“We have reason to believe that he is hiding in London. We received an untraceable owl early this morning from someone who claimed to have seen him.” He gazed around at everyone before continuing in his slow, calming voice. “We believe that this is another trap, which is why I am bringing it to the entire department.”
Ginny felt herself relax in to her chair. She had been mulling over several possibilities as to why the Head Auror would have lost his faith in her but her fears had been groundless. “What do you want us to do sir?” She boldly asked him.
“We will set up a rotated detail to watch the location. I want the Aurors to be there all the time.” Kingsley looked over at Harry and Ginny. “I do not want you two to be there until we have a positive identification on Malfoy.” Both of them sat up to protest but he raised a hand, effectively silencing them. “We all know that you are the likely target for a trap. Until we are sure that he is there you will stay away. When we take him down though,” he gave them a small smile. “You will be there to bring him in. I won’t deny you that.”
“Do you want us to set up the schedule or will you do that?” Dawlish asked him.
Kingsley let out a sigh. “I have already set it up. Keep it private so that we can avoid leaks out of the Ministry. Only your partner should know when you are on duty.” He pulled out a stack of envelopes and passed them around. “Your name will be on one, except Harry and Ginny. Take yours and examine it at your desk. The first shift will start this evening. Please come to me personally if you have any problems. You are dismissed.”
“Do you want to go to The Leaky Cauldron?” Harry looked up at her from digging through a drawer in their kitchen.
“Uh, dunno. I was going to make some stew.” He went back to digging and finally came up smiling holding his favorite stirring spoon.
Ginny sighed and sat down heavily at the table. “Stew is fine. Maybe it will warm me up. I don’t remember a colder October.”
“No.” He agreed as he got out the ingredients and started throwing them in to a large pot. When it was prepared he made tea and brought her a cup before sitting across from her. “Getting drunk won’t make tomorrow any easier.”
Her head shot up sharply. “How did you know?”
He shrugged. “I know you and…” He smiled sheepishly at her. “I have the urge to locate some fire whiskey and drown myself in it. I hate listening to your mother go on about us still being single.” His face was awash in pain.
Ginny reached over and took his large, calloused hand in hers. “Harry?” He looked up at her. “Why is this so hard on you? I would think that if you don’t want to get married then it would be easy to ignore.” She shut her mouth when her words reverberated in to her head.
His eyes widened. “Did you just… but…”
She let go of his hand and stood up to flee the room. She’d made it to the hall before he’d grabbed her arm. “Let go Harry.” She whispered through her tears.
“No. You said it. If you didn’t want to get married then it would be easy to ignore your Mum’s nagging.” He stared hard at her; his eyes had a steely glint to the emerald green.
Her hard won self-control crumbled under his scrutiny and she began to cry openly. He wrapped his arms around her and held on while she sobbed. “I… I may want it but it won’t… happen.” She wiped at the offending tears before poking him hard in the stomach. “What about you?”
“You know.” He replied softly and she did. They were so alike in many ways and it was not hard to understand that he wanted to be loved.
“Why did you say that you wouldn’t marry then? You could have anyone you want, Harry.” She turned away from him to hide the pain this was causing her. He came up to her and hugged her from behind, holding her close to him.
“My reasons are still the same. I won’t find anyone who understands me like you do.”
She wanted to scream at him and make him realize that he should love her. They wouldn’t be so lost if he could just love her. She laughed contemptuously. He was never going to want her. He’d never once made a move on her in all the times they had slept together. Harry had even seen her naked but it didn’t matter to him. Clearly she was not attractive enough for him. “This is really fucked up.”
He chuckled but she heard the pain behind it. “We can still elope.”
She was not sure if it was actual amusement at what he had said or if she was so crushed that he would joke about marrying her but she started to giggle until she was holding her sides in pain. When she looked up at him she smiled but realized belatedly that it probably did not meet her eyes. “Sure, we’ll go get married after we eat your stew.” They walked back to the kitchen and Ginny felt a jolt in her heart when she realized that she now had a mask that she wore when she was with Harry. The last remain piece of her heart that had been intact splintered but somehow she managed to keep her face from revealing her despair.
“What was your dream about love?” The voice soothed Ginny through the worst of her terror as she burrowed into Mum’s embrace.
“Just… dragons chasing me.” She lied as she inhaled the comforting smell that belonged only to her mother. The horror had not left her but at least she knew that it was not there to get her right then. She wasn’t really facing down Lucius Malfoy and being held captive by the traitor, Wormtail. She could still feel his scalding breath on her neck as he spoke to her even though it had been more than six months since he had died. The reality wouldn’t leave her in peace.
“What does the Mind Healer say about them?” Her mother’s concerned words penetrated the fog that was surrounding her. Grasping on to them as if it were a lifeline, Ginny struggled to understand what she had asked.
“She… she says that she can’t help me and that she thinks they will fade in time.” Her thoughts swirled in her head making it hard for her to focus on the things she was trying to remember. What had the Mind Healer told her? She shook her head and blinked several times. Whatever it had been was gone.
Molly Weasley’s hands rubbed up and down her back. “I’m so worried about you. You’ve changed so much.”
Ginny’s heart beat faster when she felt her Mum’s tears on her shoulder. The remorse of having made the older woman cry consumed Ginny. She felt herself slip into the role that she had been assuming more often around her family. “It’s just a nightmare Mum and you make me feel better when you hug me. You don’t have to worry. I got over the Chamber and I will get over this too. I just need time, that’s all. You don’t have to worry so, just be there for me.”
“Really?” Mrs. Weasley looked at her hopefully.
“Really.” Ginny smiled brightly as she lied to her mother.
Tears ran down her face when she woke but she didn’t bother to open her eyes. It was simpler to pretend that she had never started to play this game and fall back in to her dreams.
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