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Slightly Scandalous by Poetic_Ruby
Chapter 3 : Deal Breaker
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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[Thanks to in.wonderland from TDA for the awesome image!!]


Deal Breaker


Pompey Art Studio was located in central London, a predominantly Muggle and very touristy area. Shops lined the road, selling various trinkets and souvenirs. Restaurants that provided both native as well as other cultural foods intermingled wherever space was available. Although it was normally a very busy section, the streets were currently devoid of life. Most of the shops were still boarded up and dark; even the ones that were open were empty. That was because it was still rather early – a little after eight in the morning – so not many people were up and about, except for one.

Hermione Granger smiled as she walked past one of the restaurants, her gaze flickering upwards instinctively. A waiter was standing by the window, cleaning the glass pane. He stopped suddenly to peer at her and she giggled as he continued to wipe at the glass without paying any attention to his task. He was the third man who had stopped and stared at her and she just shook her head, knowing that many women would be facing that kind of notice today simply because of the weather. It was a particularly hot and clear day - which was quite a rare occurrence in London - and it provided women the opportunity to wear those skimpy outfits and afforded men the chance to ogle at parts of the female anatomy that would normally remain hidden from the bites of the sometimes harsh London climate.

Although she was not scantily clad, Hermione was still showing enough skin that would capture a man’s eye. Her chestnut-colored hair – which was normally loose in bushy curls, was pulled into a high ponytail with a thick fringe hanging over one side of her face, an arrangement that exposed her long neck. She was wearing a plain short-sleeved, white v-neck top that halted a few inches above the band of her skirt, exposing a little of her stomach. The cut of the collar accentuated her chest and provided just a hint of cleavage without over doing it. Her black peasant skirt reached a few inches shy of her knees which, in addition to the pair of strappy black sandals, showed off her slender legs. She knew she was lovely and smiled when another man walked past her and did a double take, nearly stumbling as he did so.

“Men are so predictable.”

Chuckling to herself, Hermione continued towards the art studio, her destination. She had been working there for the past four years and, although art was not truly her passion, she loved the opportunities it afforded her and the fact that it gave her a chance to express herself without inhibitions. Finally arriving at the studio, she pushed the door open and stepped inside, her eyes immediately scanning the lobby. The first floor was virtually empty of any attraction. There was an information center, restrooms, the security desk and a huge map situated in the middle of the floor. A pair of double doors led to the ‘Staff Only’ section. This was where the administrative offices, art rooms and supply rooms were located.

At the ungodly hour, only two people were currently at work. The first was the security guard, Matthew Bane. Better known as Matt, the burly and rugged security guard was seated behind his small desk, his legs propped up on the table and his head lolled to the side, deeply asleep. He was dressed in his usual dark blue security uniform, the cap of which partially hid his prematurely graying hair. His black bat was dangling from his hand, forgotten in his current slumbering state.

Hermione walked over to him and stared for a few minutes before yelling out, “Boo!”

Matt started and then tumbled from his chair, the bat completely falling from his hands onto the ground. He looked up, his eyes wide, only to spot Hermione standing in front of him laughing her head off. He shook his head and stood, mumbling underneath his breath as he rubbed at his backside, sorely hurt from its harsh contact with the floor.

“Good morning, Ms. Granger,” he rumbled out, sitting back into his seat.

“M-Morning, Matt,” Hermione managed to stutter through her giggles. “Had a nice nap?”

“I wish it could’ve been more than just a nap.” He sighed and rubbed at his eyes before checking his watch. “At least I only have another twenty minutes before my shift is over. Then I can go home and sleep like there’s no tomorrow.”

“Was it a rough night?” Hermione asked, finally sobering up. She knew that being a security guard was not an easy job. Noisy teenagers and unruly patrons were always hell to deal with but at night, it was harder because of the vandals, thieves and other delinquents.

Surprisingly, Matt shook his head. “No, it was rather quiet. Think that’s why I’m so tired. Pure boredom.”

Hermione smiled. “Why don’t you go home?” she suggested, leaning onto the table. “I’m sure Mrs. Pompey won’t know any different.”

Matt looked at Hermione. “My shift isn’t over yet.”

“True. But you’re not much of a guard if you’re here sleeping,” she said, smiling at him when he rolled his eyes. “Go on. I’ll just lock the door behind you. Joe has a key right?” she asked, referring to the guard who took over for Matt during the day.

Matt, after hesitating for a few minutes, finally resolved and grabbed his bag from underneath the table. Standing up, he stretched and answered, “Yup. He should be able to get in without you having to open the door.”

“Alright.” Hermione followed him to the door. “Go and get some rest, Matt.”

“Thanks, Ms. Granger.” Matt walked outside and waved at her. “Have a nice day.”

Hermione nodded and waved, locking the door before she turned and headed towards the ‘Staff Only’ section. Once through the doors, she made her way down the hallway, trying to mentally sort out what all she had to do for the day. She still had a few of the sketches she had been working on the previous day to finish up and decided she would work on that first before getting on with anything else.

She finally reached to the art room and opened the door, revealing the only other person insane enough to come to work so early. Ginevra Weasley, one of the top artists and Hermione Granger’s best friend, was standing by her regular station working on a painting. Her back was turned to the door, obscuring the view of what she was doing. She, too, was dressed for the current weather. She had on a pair of short, dark-brown soft pants with a thick white belt hooked through the loops. Her top was a fitted white tee, a dark-brown halter-style vest over it. Covering her clothes was a white smock used to prevent paint from messing up her attire. Her feet were adorned in a pair of three inch, brown wedge-hells. Her vibrantly red hair was pulled back into a messy bun, a few unruly strands hanging down from it.

Hermione walked up behind Ginny, depositing her satchel onto a nearby table in the process. She put her hands on her hips and peered over her friend’s shoulder in order to get a better view of the painting. What she saw made her mouth gape and her eyes bug.

“Whoa! That is bloody gorgeous!”

Ginny yelped and spun around, nearly splattering paint from her brush on to Hermione’s shirt. “Damnit, ‘Mione,” she admonished, rolling her shoulders. “Don’t scare me like that.”

“Sorry, Gin.” Hermione shrugged. “I thought you heard me come in.”

Ginny shook her head and turned back to her canvas. “I didn’t. I was too busy concentrating on this,” she said, nodding to the picture as she dipped her brush into green paint.

“Right, I forgot you completely zone out when you’re working.” Hermione watched as Ginny did one short swoop with the brush and took a step back, examining it. “But back to my original statement, that looks bloody gorgeous.”

Ginny was beaming with pride, glad that her efforts did not go unnoticed. She had worked so hard on it, coming in as early as six-thirty just because she had been so eager to get started on it. The now finished painting was a silhouetted image of a man’s face, one she had been unable to get out of her head ever since the previous night. It had haunted her dreams, always finding its way to the forefront of her mind to the point that she just had to put it on to the canvas, solidify the beautiful image. And she had done a marvelous job at it. The detail was minimal, each stroke precise and deliberate, and the coloring was shadowy. Except for the eyes; those were a piercing green, shimmering in such a way that they seemed to twinkle like jewels. It was done to capture whoever looked at it and, if Hermione’s reaction was anything to go by, it had worked.

“Thank you,” she finally said, turning her head sideways to smile at Hermione.

Her friend was still focused on the painting, however. “Seriously,” she said, her voice revealing the awe she felt. “These eyes are just so, so…amazing!” She tilted her head sideways and then looked back at Ginny. “Think we could ever find men with eyes like these?”

“I already did,” Ginny mumbled, her eyes immediately flicking back to the eyes. She found herself thinking about that man again; remembering the way he had held her gaze with those emerald orbs, kept her pinned against the wall with his scorching look. She didn’t realize it then, but she knew now that Harry had completely enthralled her.

“Really?” Hermione squealed, spinning around to face her completely. "When? Where?” Just as Ginny opened her mouth to answer, Hermione raised her hand. “First, who?”

“His name's Harry,” Ginny laughed, marveling at her friend's eagerness.

“Harry, huh?” She tapped her finger on her chin. “That’s simple enough. I guess. Continue…”

“Continue?” Ginny repeated, arching an eyebrow.

“Yes, continue,” Hermione said, nodding her head vigorously. “You can’t tell me that you met this guy with these-” She gestured behind her to the image “- amazing eyes and then not reveal all the juicy details.”

“There are no juicy details.” Ginny shook her head and began to loosen her smock. “I met him, well more like he came barging into my condo last night.” Ginny paused, deciding not to say anymore. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to tell, Hermione, it was just that she herself didn't even know what exactly had happened. All she knew was that he had run to her room looking for cover and she had helped him, for reasons she still was unaware of.

“So, nothing happened?” Hermione pressed, drawing out her words unnecessarily.

Ginny looked at her friend with questioning eyebrows. Hermione, however, did not say anything and just kept wiggling her own eyebrows and nodding. After a few minutes, the red-head finally cottoned on and laughed again, shaking her head and causing a few more strands to fall from her bun.

“No, nothing happened.”

Hermione sighed and snapped her fingers, whispering a quiet, “Darn!”

“What the bloody hell did you want me to do?” Ginny asked, raising her palms upward. “Shag him?”

“With eyes like those, the rest of him had to have looked damn good,” Hermione said, licking her lips.

“I just met the man last night. Besides,” she added immediately, her voice dropping slightly as she threw her apron over a nearby stool. “I probably won't even see him again,”

Hermione shrugged. “If I desperate enough, I probably would have.”

Ginny guffawed. “You little slut!”

She picked up her paintbrush and threw into a cup of water, laughing when Hermione shrugged in response to her words. She knew Ginny was only joking because they both knew that there was no truth to the brown-haired girl’s words. She was not a raunchy person; in fact, she was quite timid, only letting go once she was comfortable around you and Ginny was one of the few people she was comfortable around. They had been best friends for close to three years now, meeting when Ginny had first started working at Pompey Art and Photography Studio. They had clicked instantly and had grown even closer when Ginny discovered that Hermione was a Muggle-born witch. She had spent her entire life among the ‘pure-blood’ society and it was a breath of fresh air to know someone outside of that egocentric category.

“I'm going to go see if there is any soda in the fridge,” Hermione announced while Ginny started cleaning up. “ Do you want one, Gin?”

Her friend shook her head. “No, I'm good, thanks.”

Hermione nodded and left the room, humming to herself. Ginny closed up her paint bottles and rinsed off her other brushes. Every time she moved around, she glanced back at the painting, feeling herself smile involuntarily. She had no idea what was wrong with her; no man had ever captivated her this much and she wasn’t sure if she liked it, or not.

‘It’s only because you’re an artist,’
she reasoned, emptying a cup of water into the sink. ‘His eyes are an artist’s dream and that’s why you can’t stop thinking about him. Right?’

She shook her head, wondering why she was even having this argument with herself. Harry was just another Wizard; nothing more. She walked over to the painting, thinking that she needed to move it somewhere where it could dry properly. However, just as she was about to pick it up, her actions were halted. An unrecognizable force tossed her onto the floor and she felt a massive weight bearing down on her, cutting her breathing painfully. She watched, pinned down, as her painting clattered to the floor, knocked by her hand.

She was about to push against the weight, when a deep, guttural voice made her freeze in her actions.

“Do not move witch!”

Her eyes bugged and she felt her pulse quicken from the realization. “Greyback,” she whispered, fear evident in her voice.

“That’s right.” The werewolf laughed when Ginny shuddered beneath him. He bent down to her neck, sniffing it. Ginny knew that, as a werewolf, his sense of smell was far beyond any human being’s; they were able to detect a person’s emotions from one sniff and, right now, she knew that a heavy wave of fear was emanating from her.

After a few tense moments, in which Greyback found fingered her neck and continued to snivel at her hair, Ginny felt him finally move off of her. She was expecting him to grab her arm and pull her up roughly, but no such thing happened. She took a steadying breath, wondering if, somehow, he had left. Without thinking, she scrambled to her feet and tried to make a dash for the door, only to be stopped once again by some unknown force.

“Levicorpus!”

A voice from somewhere else in the room yelled the spell loudly and Ginny felt her body rise and turn upside, dangling in the air. She was suddenly grateful she had decided to wear pants but such mundane thoughts left her mind the minute blood began to rush to her brain and her vision started to get blurry.

“Now,” Greyback said, moving to stand in front of her. “You're going to tell me where that little pest of a boy is.”

Ginny tried to swallow but it was hard to do upside down and it felt like she was going to swallow her own mouth. “I thought I told you last night,” she choked out, “that I don't know who you're talking about.” She closed her eyes as she felt a headache start to form behind them.

“Liar!” Greyback shouted. He clenched his fist, getting angrier by the second.

Although her eyes were closed, she felt when he stepped closer to her and grimaced when he grabbed her hair, yanking on it and wrenching her head back, causing her neck to stretch painfully. The act made her breathing even shallower. She tried to cry out but couldn’t. Realizing her predicament, desperation began to sink in. She was more afraid than she had ever been in her entire life. Her wand was in her pocket but it has difficult to reach it without alerting Greyback to her motives. Instead, she kept one eye trained on the door, hoping that salvation would come soon. 'Hermione where are you?'
Suddenly, Greyback yanked his arm from the grip he had on her hair and walked away. Ginny breathed a sigh of relief but stopped when she saw where he was headed. Her painting was lying on the floor, a few feet away from where she was hanging. Greyback picked it up and studied it. She noticed that he raised it up, as if showing it to someone else in the room. It was then that she remembered that someone else had said the spell that had her hanging upside down in mid-air. She tried to crane her neck to look but knew the gesture was futile. Whoever the person was, he was intentionally keeping out of sight.

Greyback’s voice drew her attention. “This is a nice painting you have here.” He grinned at her and Ginny silently cursed, knowing she had been caught. It was definitely unmistakable who the painting depicted, considering the fact that Greyback had been after the boy.

“I'm sure that little Potter nuisance would love that you took such care in looking at his eyes.”

Ginny couldn’t stop herself from uttering, “Potter?” with a look of pure shock and confusion etched on her face.

Greyback laughed. “She didn't know he was a Potter,” he said, looking in the direction that Ginny assumed the other person was standing. Then, he looked back at and smiled evilly. “Changes your perception of him, doesn't it?”

Ginny stared at Greyback threw narrow eyes. She was envisioning a long list of hexes and spells she would gladly use on him if she wasn’t so inhibited at the moment. Greyback smiled at her, revealing those sharp, yellow teeth once again and, as if he knew just what she was thinking, slapped her. Her face swiveled to the side, stinging from the impact and she felt when his nails scraped at her skin, knowing her had cut her. Sure enough, blood began to trickle down the side of her face.

She watched as he raised his hand again and closed her eyes, trying to braise herself for what was about to come. But it never did.

“Impedimenta!”

Ginny opened her eyes immediately and watched as Greyback was flung against the wall, hitting it with a loud crunch. She tried to crane her neck but stopped when Hermione ran in front of her, wand in hand. She smiled nervously at Hermione just as her friend aimed the piece of wood at her and said "Liberacorpus!" freeing her from the spell. She grabbed hold of her wand and, remembering the other person in the room, spun around to see the person who was behind her. But no one was there.

"Crucio!"

Ginny looked behind her to see Hermione writhing in pain on the floor. Her eyes flicked upwards to see that Greyback was still knocked out cold on the ground. But there was a figure standing next to him, completely covered in dark robes. She didn’t bother with trying to figure out who the person was. Instead, she raised her wand towards a few tables and chairs and yelled, "Oppugno!" The furniture began to move towards the masked figure. He ducked out of the way and rolled along the floor, causing his curse to be lifted.

Ginny grabbed Hermione and managed to pull her to her feet. "Come on, we have to get out of here," she yelled quickly, wasting no time in moving.

The two ran out the room, bursting through the doors roughly. Hermione was still a little weak but she moved as fast as she could, Ginny tugging her along. They made their way down the hallway, crashing through the double doors that led to the main lobby of the studio. Ginny looked around frantically, trying to figure out how they were going to get out of this mess. Hermione was far too weak to apparate anywhere; she couldn’t risk the girl splinching herself in the process. So, she quickly thought of another plan.

Grabbing her friend’s hand in hers, she dragged Hermione towards the security booth. “We need something to make into a portkey,” she said, searching frantically behind the structure. Finally, she located the security bat that had fallen from Matt’s hands earlier. She sighed in slight relief. “Perfect.”

But her relief was squashed when the sound of someone bashing through doors echoed. Ginny and Hermione peered over the top of the table, only to see the robed figure walking towards them, a staggering Greyback close behind.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Reacting quickly, Ginny and Hermione ducked back behind the refuge of the desk. The jet of green light from the Killing Curse blasted the wall behind them, showering them in debris and bricks. Ginny shook a bit of soot out of her hair and coughed.

“Ok, you make the portkey, I'll stall them.” Hermione, feeling her energy return, thrust the bat roughly into Ginny's hand and changed to a crouching position. “It should take about a minute.”

“But -”

“No, no buts,” Hermione admonished without looking at her friend. “They’ll only keep coming this way. I need to hold them off so you have a chance to make the portkey without interruptions.”

Conceding, Ginny nodded and pulled out her wand. Just as she whispered the incantation for the portkey spell, Hermione jumped over the desk and yelled, "Petrificus Totalus!" causing the masked man to freeze instantaneously and drop to the ground, completely caught off guard. Hermione smiled at her achievement.

“Filthy little mudblood!”

Greyback, moving too lithely for Hermione’s speed, pounced on her, causing her to scream out as his heavy body collided with her tiny one, sending her straight to the ground. Ginny, startled by the sound, peered over the desk to see Hermione struggling to hold him off. Greyback, however, was far too strong. Hermione’s face was contorted in concentration as she futilely tried to push the werewolf off of her. Fearing for their lives, Ginny looked down at the security bat that was beginning to glow brighter, signaling that it was just about ready to go. She gripped it tightly and jumped over the desk, landing directly on top of Greyback. The force from the contact caused him to roll off of Hermione but also caused Ginny to lose her grip on the portkey.

Fortunately, however, Greyback continued to roll, stopping a few feet away from them. Both girls scrambled backwards just as he stood up to pounce. Their movements caused him to fall to the ground and slide further away. Just as Greyback tried to recollect himself, Ginny crawled closer to Hermione and grabbed her hand. Watching Greyback out the corner of her eye, she yelled forcefully, "Accio Bat!” The portkey flew towards them and Ginny grabbed it. She felt a tug from behind her navel as she and her friend where pushed into a vortex. Then, just as suddenly, the feeling was over and the pair landed on hard ground a few seconds later.

They lay on the grounds for a few moments, groaning from the harsh landing. Ginny moved to her knees and took a deep breath, tiredness washing over her as the adrenaline pumping in her body began to wane. Their escape had been narrow but at least they were still alive and mostly unharmed.

“Where the hell are we?” Hermione asked, finally standing up and rubbing the dirt off of her clothes.

Ginny stood up as well and looked around. They were standing in the middle of a forest clearing. Below them, the grass was thick, leaves from the nearby trees covering various parts. The trees surrounding the section were tall, stretching so far upward that they blanked out the sun and looked as if it would take twenty people with outstretched arms to form a circle around them. Despite the gloomy setting, Ginny felt a sad smile tug at her lips and she wrapped her arms around herself, walking in a small circle.

“It's the place where they had found my mom's body twenty years ago,” she said, moving towards the biggest tree.

Slightly flabbergasted, Hermione only managed a small, “Oh.”

She knew all about Ginny’s past; about her mother being killed (even though she didn’t know how) and about the war that had ensued afterwards. But that was about as far as her knowledge went. Ginny never talked about her family and Hermione never pushed. She could tell it was a touchy subject and never over stepped her boundaries, afraid that it would set Ginny off.

Finally, she spoke again. “So why'd you choose to come here?”

Ginny shrugged, turning her back on the tree to face Hermione. Her eyes were narrowed and she was biting at her lip, obviously lost in her thoughts. “It was the only place I could think of at the moment.”

Hermione started to walk around, studying there surroundings. She took notice of how thick the bush was. Although it was still well early and quite hot, the place was dark and oddly cool. She felt a shudder run down her spine and turned to look at her best friend, concern lining her face.

“It’s not necessarily safe though, is it?” she asked, folding her arms. “Anybody could be hiding a- AHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

Ginny started at Hermione’s sudden scream and looked up to see her friend fall to the ground, crab-walking backwards. A figure emerged from behind a tree and, not taking any chances, Ginny immediately raised her wand. But she quickly put it down when she saw got a good look at who it was.

“Harry?”

The person looked up at her, his green eyes catching her brown ones immediately. She watched as he took a few more steps forward.

“Yeah it's me,” he said; then, he looked at Hermione. "Sorry about scaring you."

Hermione scrambled to her feet and moved to stand next to Ginny, brushing dirt off of her clothes. “Yeah, sure.” She then eyed him wearily before turning to whispered, “This is the Harry?”

Ginny nodded absentmindedly, her eyes never leaving the new arrival. “What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I was, er, looking for...something.”

Ginny folded her arms and arched her eyebrow. She studied him closely. One of his hands was jammed into his dark-blue jeans’ pocket while the other rubbed nervously at the back of his neck for a few seconds before tugging at the collar of his green t-shirt. Ginny was a bit taken aback. This was not the same confident person she had met last night; he appeared a bit rattled, nervous even, and she wondered why.

After he didn’t say anything else, she cleared her throat. “Out with it,” she started, "Potter."  The last word came out almost as a snarl.

Harry immediately stopped tugging at his shirt and looked at her, slightly surprised. She tilted her head sideways and Harry’s eyes lingered on her exposed neck for a few minutes. He smiled, slightly unsure whether it was for her sudden knowledge or because of the peek her got at her soft flesh.

“How'd you find out?” he asked, walking towards her.

She wasted no time in telling him. “Because my friend and I were just attacked by Greyback. He told me who you were."

Hermione, who had remained silent during the short exchange rose her hands and shook her head, chanting, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait! Potter? As in arch-nemesis Potter?” When Ginny nodded, Hermione glared at Harry, placing her hands on her hips. “So it's your fault we were attacked?” Then she mumbled, “Well, that just totally kills the intrigue of the eyes.”

“Excuse me?” Harry asked, picking up on Hermione’s last statement, utterly confused

"Never mind," Ginny quickly said, hitting Hermione on her arm. "Anyway, what were you looking for?"

Harry looked between the two for a few seconds but just shrugged, not sure he even wanted to know. “Some clues,” he answered. “I thought I might find a link between your mom's death and my brother's seeing as how they occurred around the same time."

“Oh, I know the truth,” Ginny said, finally putting her wand away. “Your parents killed my mother. Plain and simple."

"Sure about that?" Harry asked, folding his arms across his broad chest. The action caused his shirt to tighter around his shoulders and arms and Ginny found her eyes lingering there for a few moments too long.

"No,” she said, tearing her eyes away form the sight. “But who else would have it out for my mother if not the people who hated her and her family?”

Harry shrugged. “Good point. But I have my own speculations.”

“Like what?” Ginny asked, suddenly intrigued.

Harry walked over to her. “See, your mom's death occurred far too close to the time of my brother's disappearance. It just makes me wonder if either of them was done by one of the two parties. The timing seems a bit off"

"But, like Ginny said," Hermione interrupted, "who else could have done it?"

Again, Harry shrugged. "I honestly don't have an answer to that question. My guess, though, is that it’s someone who wants both families out of the way.”

"That's ridiculous!" Hermione snickered.

"But it makes sense," Ginny said, looking at the ground and lost in thought.

"Huh? Ginny what are you talking about?" Hermione asked in a whisper, leaning closer to her.

"It makes sense," she repeated, looking up at them. "Think about, Hermione. We were attacked by the same guys who are after him," she said, pointing to Harry. "If they were after him, you'd think it was my dad who sent them but yet, I was attacked too."

"So, then," Hermione started, catching on, "someone else would have to be involved to be sending someone after both of you."

"Exactly!" Ginny looked at Harry. "Who else do you think could be involved?"

Harry shrugged. "Like I said, I don't know. But with your help I bet I could figure it out."

The trio lapsed into silence as the implication of Harry’s statement sunk in. Hermione arched her eyebrows while Harry stared expectantly at Ginny.

"You want me, who’s a Weasley," Ginny said slowly, pointing to herself, "to help you." She pointed at Harry. "Who’s a Potter?"

"Yes," he said nonchalantly, as though he had asked something simple of her.

"You're out of your mind." Ginny shook her head. "Besides, I don't want to be involved in this war. I walked out of it years ago and I refuse to walk back into it, especially willingly." Ginny folded her arms and turned away, walking away from them.

"But it's the only way to put a stop to it," Harry pleaded. "If we uncover the truth it could stop both parties from fighting. It could end this ridiculous war altogether."

"He has a point, Ginny," Hermione said, finally speaking up again.

Ginny stopped walking and looked back at them. It was appealing. She wanted nothing more than this war to stop because all it had done was brought nothing but heartache to her life. She had walked out on it and, because of it, ended up walking away from her family. It hurt her to know to not be close to them anymore, to not have anything to do with them, despite her disapprovals of the way they lived. Uncovering the truth would indeed put a stop to everything and maybe even reverse the estrangement, something she hoped for everyday.

Conceding, Ginny sighed and nodded. "Ok. I'll help you. But under, one condition,” she added quickly, when Harry shot her a smile that she enjoyed far too much for her liking. “We are to remain strictly professional. I may not be involved in the war but that doesn't mean that I don't have a dislike of your family."

Harry thought about it for a while. He didn’t have any objections. Having Ginny to help him would definitely be a good thing. “Fine by me,” he finally said. “We should get going then.”

"Going? Going where?" Hermione asked, arching her eyebrow.

"My friend, Neville, is waiting for me," Harry responded. "He's going to help us too. He Has access to records and stuff because he works at the Ministry."

"Well, in that case then Hermione's helping us too."

"Sure, whatever." Harry turned and started heading out of the forest.

"What?" Hermione walked closer to Ginny and whispered, "Why do I have to help?"

"Because," Ginny whispered back, "if you don't help with this then it'll just be me working with him and his friend. That would give him the upper hand.”

"Are you two coming?" Harry called out.

Hermione looked at Harry then back at Ginny. She didn’t really want to get involved but the pleading look in her friends eyes made her realize that she couldn’t abandon Ginny. She needed her.

"Fine.” She said with a sigh. Ginny smiled and Hermione quickly pointed an accusatory finger at her. “But if I get killed, then I'm coming back as a ghost and haunting your ass.”

Hermione dropped her hand and swung around, moving towards where Harry was standing, patiently waiting. Ginny watched as the two turned to continue down the path and then started to follow. She had no idea what she had just agreed to and was already starting to regret her decision, despite her reasons. Her father would have her neck if he found out what she was doing - working along with a Potter. On top of that, walking back into the heat of this war was the most dangerous thing she could do. It could very well mean her life and the lives of those around her. But, as she watched the back of Harry’s head, she sighed, realizing there was no way out. As the trio made their way out of the forest, all Ginny could think was, "What have I gotten myself into now?"


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