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Chapter 13 : Kisses and Tears
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The next five days went by rather quickly. Ron, despite his initial wariness, was beginning to settle in with the idea of combating his father’s desire to continue with the war. He became more engaged in their discussion and was adamant on finding any information that he possibly could. He had even spent some time considering Hermione’s words. He knew that there was no justice in his prejudices against Harry and tried to push them aside, despite his flair of rage whenever he saw him conversing with Ginny.
Strangely enough, too, he and Hermione found themselves locked in even more discussions. Because of Bill’s looming funeral and her deconstructed condo, Ginny had been staying in the Weasley house and Hermione had joined her, wanting to stick by her best friend. He presence in the house mixed with Ginny’s insistence to stick close to Ron, the two had developed somewhat of a friendship. It had only started off as an amicable existence, staying cordial for Ginny’s sake but had quickly become a comfortable co-existence.
Harry and Ginny were becoming a whole lot closer, too. After their conversation, Ginny found that Harry’s explanation made a whole lot of sense and she opened herself up to the possibility that there was something more between them. A mutual level of respect flourished and their attachment was slowly being understood. Their relationship was definitely growing beyond the level of just an innocent partnership.
However, it was Bill’s funeral that brought them all back to a painstaking reality. The prior night was spent in utter silence. Ginny found it hard to speak to anyone and awoke that morning more melancholy than she had ever been in her entire life. The memory of her hallucination was all she could think about and the meaning of it still confused her. She wanted to tell Harry or Hermione or Ron but could not find her voice when she tried. So, she decided to leave it alone until she was absolutely ready to divulge the secret.
The funeral itself was two hours of emotional eulogies, sorrowful songs and drowning tears. Ginny could barely keep herself from shaking and, although they didn’t show it, her brothers found it hard to watch Bill’s coffin being lowered into the ground. They knew that it was nothing but a harsh, callous confirmation that he was not coming back. Arthur spent most of the funeral in a sort of trance but Ginny found it difficult to read his gaze; she could not tell if he felt remorse for being a distant cause of Bill’s death or if he even felt anything but the desire for revenge. Weakened from her grief, she just left the subject alone and decided that she would tackle it when she felt more like herself. She left the funeral with Ron and Hermione at her side, all of them eager for a future devoid of anymore painful goodbyes.
The next afternoon, Ginny awoke partially rested but still in a state of grief. She sighed as she gazed at the ceiling before flinging the sheets from her body and climbing out of the bed. She searched for her shoes and found them lying near the closet. Slipping them on, she opened the door and was a little disoriented for a second until she remembered that she was at Harry’s house, not at her father’s. She, Ron and Hermione had arrived there earlier that morning because they no longer wanted to remain in Arthur’s presence. It was only meant to be temporary until her condo could be fully repaired.
Descending the stairs, she took a few moments to examine the pictures that hung all over the walls. There were some of Harry with his mother; some with just himself and some with the entire family, including David. As she looked at each one, she had to admit that Harry had been a very cute child. He had a boyish charm about him that he still possessed and his smile was as cute as ever. His glasses, although seemingly goofy actually made him endearing and his hair was quite sexy despite the just-been-electrocuted image it gave off.
Smiling to herself, Ginny took the last few steps and turned right, walking directly into the massive kitchen where Harry, Hermione and Ron were currently having an animated discussion about something. Harry was on his feet; the chair he had been sitting in was pushed about two-feet away from him as though it had been discarded in the heat of the argument. Ron was standing on the other side of the table next to Hermione; his chair was also strewn to the floor and he was bellowing at Harry with his fists balled.
“I don’t think that would be the best solution!” he yelled.
“Well, I think that it would be better,” Harry said, hitting his hand on the tabletop. “And a whole lot safer!”
“But with you?” Ron cried. “I don’t like that idea.”
“You don’t have to like the idea,” Harry said mockingly. “It’s not you who’s going to have to do it.”
“That is exactly why I think we should figure out another way,” Ron shouted back, “simply because I won’t be able to do it.”
“Good morning, sunshine,” Hermione yelled over their booming voices, bringing Ginny’s presence to Harry and Ron’s attention.
The two men stopped arguing suddenly and looked at Ginny who had just taken a seat next to Hermione. Harry, his voice softening quickly, was the first one to speak.
“Good morning? More like afternoon,” he commented, smiling that boyish grin of his.
Ginny shrugged. “I was really tired.”
“Obviously. You slept for almost an entire day,” Harry pointed out, sitting in the seat he had abandoned during his argument with Ron.
“Iwstird,” Ginny yawned incoherently.
“Yeah, because I can understand you,” Harry said sarcastically.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “So, what were you two bickering about before I came in?”
“We were discussing the idea of you two staying here instead of going back to your place.” He jerked a thumb in Ron’s direction. “But your big brother there has a problem with it.”
“Of course I have a problem with it,” Ron exclaimed. “You think I’m going to willingly allow my sister to stay here with you while I have to go back to my dad’s?”
“Ron,” Ginny cried, “I think you need to be a little bit more reasonable. You’re working with Harry now so I think you need to stop being so cantankerous towards him.”
Ron looked at Ginny. She could tell that he was not happy with the idea at all. Although he had agreed to help and was slowly beginning to warm up to Harry, he was still very skeptical of how close Harry and Ginny were getting. Therefore, he tried to pass off his views about their relationship as him being unable to fully trust Harry.
Switching his gaze to Hermione, he saw that she was looking at him with the same expression as Ginny. She had warned him about his actions towards Harry countless times and wanted him to behave.
“I guess it’s fine,” he finally said, conceding defeat and taking a seat. “But I don’t want to catch any more snogging.”
“Ok,” Ginny replied, half-jokingly, “then we won’t let you catch us.”
Ron shot her a disapproving glare but she just grinned at him and looked at Harry. She found it very hard to wipe the playful smile off her face, even more so because Harry was looking at her with a slight smirk.
Trying desperately to draw the attention away from their grinning faces, Ginny said, “Have you heard anything from Neville yet?”
“No, I haven’t,” Harry replied.
Neville went missing the same day that Ginny was in the hospital, which was almost two weeks ago. Harry, although worried at the time, had tried not to read too much into it during the first few days of his absence. Neville had the habit of going to his parent’s home once in a while to visit. However, this was the first time he had left without any word or correspondence. He had images of Neville being tortured or even killed because of what he had been doing for them. It scared Harry to think that Neville could be in danger.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Ginny said, reaching across the table to touch Harry’s hand. “He seems like he’s a strong one so I don’t think anything bad happened to him.”
Harry nodded but didn’t say anything. Ginny could tell that he was fretting about the state of his best friend but didn’t want to push the matter any further and cause Harry to panic. Instead she rubbed his hand and then leaned back in her chair, turning her attention to Hermione who was busy peeling an orange.
A thought suddenly sprang to her head. “Hermione,” she said, a questioning tone in her voice, “you never told me how your date was the other night.”
“No, I-I didn’t,” her friend stammered, staring at the orange in her hand.
“Well…” Ginny said after Hermione paused a little too long.
Hermione looked at Ron and Harry who were leaning on the table, obviously waiting to hear the tale of this date.
“Um, do you two mind going elsewhere?”
“Why?” Harry asked. “Is there some dirty details you don’t want us to know?”
“Yes,” she said simply. “Now leave.”
Harry laughed. “Alright, fine.”
Harry got up and left but it was a few more seconds before Ron actually stood up and walked out of the room. He looked genuinely interested in hearing about Hermione’s date and truly disappointed when he realized that she wanted them to leave. Ginny found it strange that Ron cared so much but shrugged it off. She knew that her brother and her best friend had become like friends over the past week and a half.
She was suddenly brought from her musings when Hermione discarded her orange, stood up suddenly and started pacing.
“Was the date that bad?” Ginny asked, staring at the garbage bin where Hermione had dropped the fruit.
“In a manner of speaking,” she replied, twisting her fingers.
“Out with it, Hermione,” Ginny said with a sigh. “Did he come on too strong? Was he a complete jerk? Did you have to tell him a few choice words for inappropriate behaviour?”
“I think he tried to poison me,” Hermione blurted, stopping mid-pace.
“He did WHAT?” Ginny shouted, standing up.
Hermione sighed and explained about how adamantly he had tried to get her to drink some wine. She told Ginny how, after receiving the letter that told her to get to the hospital, she had thrown the contents of the glass into some flowers absentmindedly. Then, as she was about to leave, the same flowers had been destroyed and the vase itself had looked about ready to collapse.
“So, I think there was something in the wine that was extremely toxic,” Hermione ended.
“Yeah, obviously if it could destroy an entire vase,” Ginny said in a strained voice. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
Hermione shrugged. “You had enough on your plate.”
Ginny’s fury was undeniable. Her face was flushed and her fists were balled tightly. Although her chair did not fall when she jumped out of it, it was now lying on the floor; she had kicked it during Hermione’s story and was now pacing back and forth herself.
“I’m going to kill him!” she finally uttered.
“No, you’re not.”
“Yes, I am,” Ginny said, moving towards the door and taking her wand out. “I’m going to find his scrawny little narrow-nosed, girly-blonde-haired ass and then I’m going to bloody kill him!”
Hermione ran towards Ginny and blocked the kitchen door. “You can’t. We can’t risk causing any more problems than the ones we already have on our hands.”
“Hermione, the man tried to kill you. I think that qualifies as a problem we need to take care of.”
“Look,” Hermione said, “I understand where you’re coming from but don’t you think that our current situation is more important than dealing with some guy I will probably never see again?”
Ginny sighed and looked at Hermione. She could not understand why Hermione would let something as serious as this go so easily.
“Alright, fine. But the minute the war is over I’m hunting him down!”
Hermione nodded and finally moved out of the way once Ginny had stowed her wand back into her pocket. The two exited the kitchen and walked into the living room to see what Ron and Harry were up to. Ron was sitting on the couch practicing a few simple charms out of boredom but Harry was nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s Harry?” Ginny asked as Hermione walked to sit next to Ron.
“Think he went outside,” Ron replied.
Ginny walked back out of the room and saw that the front door was ajar. Making her way towards it, she spotted Harry standing outside, staring out into the garden.
“What you doing out here?” she asked, closing the door behind her.
“Just thinking,” he replied.
There were a few moments of silence before Harry said, “I’m just really worried about Neville.”
“I know you are,” Ginny said. “But like I told you, I’m sure Neville’s fine.”
Harry nodded. “I just can’t shake the feeling that something went horribly wrong.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because he was trying to help me find out the truth about this whole mess and, as you can probably tell, anything that has to do with this war puts people in danger. Neville’s innocent; he has no part in all of this and I could possibly be the reason he gets killed.”
“Listen to me, Harry,” Ginny said, turning his face towards hers. “You can’t beat yourself up over this. You can’t resign yourself to thinking that Neville’s dead. If something has happened, we will find out and we will find him. And he will be alive.” Ginny took hold of his hand. “I promise.”
“How can you be so sure?” Harry asked.
“You just have to have faith, Harry. It’s the only way to not worry so much.”
He nodded. “I guess you’re right.” He reached for her hand and linked her fingers. “So, are you and Hermione gonna stay here?”
Ginny nodded. “I think it’s best, considering the circumstances.”
“I’m really glad you’re helping me through this, Ginny.”
“I am, too.”
Harry looked deeply into her eyes and smiled when she grinned at him. He drew her closer to him and curved his hand over her shoulders. For a while, the two just stood there, staring out at the garden.
Neville rolled over and opened his eyes. He didn’t know why but he had woken up with the slight hope that he would be back in his own bedroom, right across the hall from Harry’s. However, he was utterly disappointed when he sat up and discovered that he was still locked up in the shabby room he had been jailed in for the past two weeks. Neville sighed and threw himself back down on the cot. Almost two whole weeks of imprisonment.
He had no idea where he was. His wand had been taken away from when he had been cornered inside the Ministry so he was unable to perform any magic. He had no hope of escaping. He also had no idea who was behind his incarceration and had no way of communicating with anyone outside. It worried him to realize that no one knew where he was or if he was even still alive.
The only thing he had was the company of the servant girl. Although he didn’t know her name (because of some insane restrictions), he still felt connected to her. They were both prisoners and the similarities in their situations had drawn them closer. He was her friend and she was his. He couldn’t understand why, but he treasured the connection he had developed with this no-name girl and didn’t want to lose it. It went with out saying, too, that the connection might just help, in some way, to save his life.
“Neville,” a dreamy voice spoke, drawing him out of his thoughts. “I’ve brought some onion soup and bread.”
Neville sat up slightly happier as he watched the owner of the voice unlock the door and walk inside, carrying a small tray. The young girl he had just been thinking about closed the door behind her, plunging the room in darkness that was quickly cured when she lit a small candle.
Neville smiled as he watched her rest the tray on the table.
“Eat up,” she said, handing him the bowl. “We can’t have you starving.”
“Thank you,” Neville replied, taking the bowl gratefully.
Neville dug into is food, enjoying the warmth and the satisfied feeling that flitted through his body. Much to his dismay, he was only given one full meal a day. But the hour the girl spent with him at mealtimes was his most treasured part of the day. When she was gone, he was alone and uncared for. The interrogations he had been forced to endure during his first few days had stopped so he saw virtually no one besides the girl. It had taken some time but she had warmed up to him and the two talked about everything, getting closer than any normal two people would in two weeks. But, being cooped up together tended to do that.
“You’re quiet today,” Neville said after he had eaten half his soup. The girl had indeed been silent the entire time and just sat watching him. “Is something wrong?”
She shrugged. “Kind of.”
“Did they find out that you’ve been talking to me?” he asked, slightly nervous at the possibility.
Strangely enough, she smiled. “No, it’s nothing like that at all.”
“So, why are you so quiet?” Neville asked again, biting off a piece of bread.
“I was just trying to figure out something,” she replied.
“Trying to figure out if there could be nargles roaming around in this room?” Neville asked playfully. It was one of her dreamed-up creatures; and, for some reason, he loved to ask her about them.
“No,” she said giggling. “Trying to figure out if I should tell you my name or not.”
“Oh,” he replied. “I thought you said you couldn’t tell me?”
“I can’t,” she said, her smiling dropping slightly. “But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to.”
“You want to tell me?”
She nodded. “I do.”
“Why?” he asked, thinking he already knew the answer.
“Because you’re my friend, my only friend,” she replied simply. “You deserve a right to know. No one’s ever paid any attention to me and it just feels so good to have someone who enjoys talking with me and appreciates what I have to say.”
“Of course I enjoy talking to you,” Neville said, placing the bowl on the table. “Why wouldn’t I? You’re a wonderful and quite interesting conversationalist.”
Her smile returned. “Thank you.”
Neville nodded and sat more to the edge of the bed. He took hold of her hand and she held his with a soft touch. It was then that he realized something. He liked her. Their friendship had been more than just a salvation thing, it was an actual attraction. He was suddenly overcome with a need to show her that he was there for her, no matter what. Telling him her name would break the last barrier between them, he knew, and he wanted it to break.
“Your eyes are stunning,” he whispered, leaning closer to her.
“Thank you,” she answered in a small voice. The blockade was beginning to deteriorate.
“And your hair smells so sweet,” he continued.
“Thanks.” She blushed and a little more of the barrier broke away.
“And you are beautiful,” he confessed, moving even closer to her.
She inhaled deeply and whispered, “My name’s Luna,” just before Neville’s lips touched hers.
And the last part of the barrier crumbled.
The cold night air howled as it blew past the windows and scattered loose leaves, litter and debris. The large trees swayed obediently with the wind. Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione sat in the living room talking and wrapped in blankets, trying to block out the cold air that was still seeping through.
They did not see the figure lurking outside behind the trees. They did not notice when he crawled towards the house and found refuge in a massive shrub that was located right under the window of the living room. They were too engrossed in their conversation to pay attention to the eyes that peered through the glass window at them - the eyes which belonged to the man who was biding his time, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.
“I still say that documents will help,” Hermione said, pulling a blanket closer to her chin. “The more we know the more equipped we are.”
“Yes, but I doubt we’ll find everything we need to know in the files.” Ginny brushed a few strands of hair back before continuing, “I think it’s best if we go straight to the sources and see what we can find out from them.”
“Do you really think you’re dad will tell you anything?” Hermione asked, arching an eyebrow.
“No, but Ron might be able to get some stuff out of him. Can you?”
“I’m pretty sure I could,” Ron said, confirming Ginny’s assumption. “He’s always eager to tell us things because he wants us to take over one day.”
“Well, when we’re done there won’t be anything to take over,” Harry said, speaking up for the first time.
“So, it’s settled then,” Ginny said. “You’ll talk to dad and see what you can find out.”
“And I’ll see what else I can find out from my folks,” Harry said as Ron answered with a nod and slumped back in the couch. “I still haven’t talked to my dad yet so maybe he knows something.”
Just then, there was a snapping sound and all four of them stood up. The sound seemed as though it came from the direction of the kitchen so the quartet walked towards the entrance, their wands at the ready.
“What do you think it was?” Hermione asked, walking closely behind Ron.
“Sounded like a tree branch snapping,” Ginny said, lowering her wand a bit.
“No, I don’t think it was.”
The man from outside seized his chance and burst through the window. The foursome spun around at the sound of shattering glass but the man was already too close to stop. He pushed Ron out of the way, causing him to knock into a side table and fall to the ground unconscious.
Harry’s spell was useless as the man dived to avoid it, colliding with Hermione. She scrambled to push him off but he held her hands down and pushed her wand away from her. She wriggled a bit and managed to escape after hitting him in his stomach with her knee.
She stood up, grabbed her wand, aimed it and yelled, “Petrificus Totalus!”
The man yelled and rolled, causing the spell to hit the ground and lose momentum. He lunged at Hermione and grabbed her arms, preventing her from using her wand against him again. He tried to drag her towards the window but Harry quickly stopped him by running into him from behind.
The man let out a piercing cry as Harry’s elbow met his spine.
Harry punched him and pulled Hermione free.
“Upstairs, you and Ginny, now!” he yelled.
Hermione nodded and ran towards Ginny who was in the hall trying desperately to revive her brother. She tried to pull her away but Ginny wouldn’t move.
“Come on, Ginny,” she cried frantically. “We have to get out of here now.”
“I’m not leaving without Ron or Harry,” Ginny cried back.
The sound drew Ginny’s attention and she dashed back into the living room just in time to watch Harry narrowly avoid being hit with the killing curse. She ran back into the hall and told Hermione to watch Ron as she grabbed her wand and ran towards Harry. She was scared and she wanted all four of them to make it out of here alive.
“Ginny, go back!” Harry yelled as she rolled towards him behind the couch in order to avoid the curse.
“Not without you!” Something exploded above their heads and Harry covered Ginny as dust and debris flew over them. Ginny looked back up and continued, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
In that brief moment, Harry kissed her. He had no idea why he did it; just that he felt it was just something that needed to be done to show her that he was there and that nothing was going to happen. So, he pressed his lips against hers, communicating everything in that one act. She returned it with as much vigor.
Another spell shot past them and Harry pulled Ginny to her feet. He sent another stunning spell towards the intruder but it missed so he tried to run. If they could at least get away then that would be good.
Then, a few things happened all at once. Something flew in front of Ginny and she stumbled, sending Harry sliding into the wall. As Harry tried to stand up and catch Ginny’s arm, the man sent a stunning spell at him and he dived to avoid it. As Ginny looked back up, the man grabbed her and waved before disappearing, carrying Ginny with him.
Harry felt numb as he replayed those last few seconds in his mind. The man had taken Ginny and there was nothing Harry could have done. He felt useless and stupid. His chest heaved with fear and his eyes clouded as he felt two sets of arms try and pull him off the ground. He looked up to see Ron and Hermione helping him up.
“He took Ginny,” was all Harry could muster to say.
Ron looked at him and then looked around the room, as if he expected Ginny to be standing there. Harry looked around as well. He couldn’t believe it; she was really gone.
“We have to get her,” he cried, trying to get out of their grasp. “We have to find her!”
“Harry, we don’t even know where she is,” Hermione said, struggling with Ron to hold him back.
“So? We still have to find her!”
“I know, mate, but you have to calm down!” Ron said, trying to hold Harry and maintain his stance at the same time. The blow to his head still had him feeling a bit dizzy.
“Calm down? CALM DOWN?” Harry yelled. “HE TOOK GINNY! YOU SHOULD WANT TO SAVE HER, TOO!”
“I do,” Ron replied in as stern a voice as he could muster. “But it makes no sense barging out of here when we don’t even know who attacked us, much less where they just went.”
“But they could kill her by the time we find out,” Harry said in a shaky voice.
“If they wanted to kill her, they would’ve done it here instead of carrying her,” Ron said, loosening his grip on Harry who had given up fighting back.
“We have to find her,” Harry repeated in an inaudible whisper.
“I think he’s in shock,” Hermione said, looking up at Ron.
Ron nodded. “He just needs to lie down.”
“Yeah,” Harry said absentmindedly.
He shook himself free of Ron and Hermione’s grip and walked towards the stairs. He only managed to make it up a few steps before collapsing to the ground and closing his eyes. He could still hear Ron and Hermione conversing.
“Aren’t you worried about this?” Hermione asked with obvious concern in her voice.
“Of course I am,” Ron replied. “But there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Harry closed his eyes even tighter and inhaled deeply. Ginny was gone and there was nothing they could do. He was scared for her. He was worried that she wouldn’t make it.
Once again, Harry replayed those few moments in his head, pausing as he remembered what he had done. He touched his lips and focused on the last-minute kiss he had given Ginny. He couldn’t remember why he had done it, or if he even had a reason at the time. He had just wanted to. It was officially their first kiss, seeing as how Ron had stopped them that day before they had gotten into it, and Merlin did it feel right. He didn’t care how illogical it seemed to anyone else, he just knew what he felt.
Harry felt hot tears fall. He wanted her back in his arms. He wanted to kiss Ginny again and again and never let her go. He had to get her back, no matter what.
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