Chapter 13 : Loose Ends
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“Ron, have you seen this?” Seamus handed The Daily Prophet to Ron.
Blinking his eyes to clear them, Ron answered through a yawn, “No, Hermione and I just got back at three this morning. I haven’t seen anything yet. Why?”
Seamus pointed to the headline on the lower right corner of the front page.
Hogwarts Student Killed in Quidditch Match
by Rita Skeeter
In an unfortunate accident yesterday, Miss Ginevra Weasley was killed at the conclusion of the match.
“Such a great tragedy indeed, I’m afraid some of these students need more practice on their brooms before they’re allowed on the pitch,” said Professor Royce Lawton.
This will come as an unfortunate blow to Harry Potter, the Victorious One, since he was seen in her company in recent weeks. Another close friend of Harry Potter’s lost. This reporter expects he’ll be running out of friends and relatives soon at the rate he goes through them.
(continued on page 6)
“Of course, thankfully, we know it isn’t true. I’ve already seen Neville; he told me what really happened. I knew your sister was tough, but that's amazing news. She took a spectacular fall,” said Seamus.
“This is rubbish!” exclaimed Ron, waving the paper above his head. The few Gryffindors in the common room all turned to stare. “Need more time practicing before being allowed on the broom! Who does he think he is?”
“We know its rubbish,” added Neville, “Odd, isn’t it though that they seem to have had this ready to print. The interview with Professor Lawton, he was either with Michael or at the hospital the entire time after the match. When did he talk with Rita Skeeter?”
Ron turned to see Hermione descending the girls’ stairs. He said, “You’re going to want to see this.” As he handed the paper to Hermione, the Quidditch section dropped to the floor. Another headline caught his eye.
Bulgarian Team Announces Goodwill World Tour
“Why that foul, loathsome woman!” said Hermione as she crumbled the page and threw it into the fire. After watching the flames engulf the page, she turned to the others and said, “I wonder who put her up to it?”
“What?” asked Seamus.
“Even a reporter as horrid as Rita would have checked the facts of her story out first if someone hadn’t told her to print the story. When we find out who did that, we'll know who was behind the attack on Ginny. Now, who would have that kind of power over her?” Hermione wondered aloud.
Neville nodded. “That’s what we need to find out,” he said.
Hermione, Seamus, and Neville began to walk through the portrait hole. Hermione turned to speak to Ron, but he wasn’t there. Looking back, she noticed he was still standing exactly where they’d left him, staring at the Daily Prophet in his hands.
“Ron aren’t you coming to lunch? Do you want us to bring something back for you?” asked Hermione with a slightly worried smile.
“No. I’ll be down in just a moment. I need to do something first. You go on down,” he answered while taking the stairs two at a time. Darting across the room, he seized his quill and parchment. Sitting at his small desk, he hurriedly wrote a note. After folding it carefully, he jogged to the owlery - the meal long forgotten.
“This has to work,” he muttered to himself. “After all, he once had feelings for her. Surely he’ll do it if he can.” Calling Pig down to him, he tied the precious cargo to the miniscule owl’s outstretched leg. “Alright then,” he looked seriously at the tiny owl, “this is very important. I don’t know how long it’ll take you, but you have to make sure he’s the one who gets it. Remember, you can only give this to Viktor Krum.”
With a slight bob of his head, the diminutive owl took flight.
“Good luck!” whispered Ron, watching the tiny orb fade out of sight, knowing the happiness of his fiancee depended on its mission.
“What do you mean, you’ll simply print a retraction?” Umbridge drew herself up to her full height.
Rita smiled at the less-than-impressive attempt to intimidate her. “A retraction; that’s what we call it when we make the unlikely discovery that we’ve made an error in a story we’ve printed,” said a smirking Rita Skeeter.
Umbridge’s eyes bulged even more than normal. She bellowed, “I’d hardly call this an error! You should have checked the facts before printing your story.”
“Check the facts? My story? That’s a laugh. Getting the facts of a story correct never seemed to trouble you before. Besides, if you recall, I didn’t write the story. I only printed it as that dim-witted professor gave it to me Saturday afternoon,” said Rita as she sat in her chair. “I should be the one yelling; this story will make me lose credibility with my readers. You should have seen the owls pouring in this morning.”
“Exactly my point! I seriously doubt Potter will believe you the next time you report on your quest to find Miss Granger’s parents,” said Umbridge while circling Skeeter’s desk.
Rita looked at the pink-frocked woman in her office with disdain and answered, “I have serious doubts about whether or not he believed me the first time. Ginny Weasley definitely didn’t.”
“All the more reason for her to be out of our way,” the corners of Umbridge’s mouth drew up in an evil grin.
Rita’s brow furrowed as she clicked her nails on the desk, "Out of our way...do you mean.....the fall wasn’t an accident?”
“Oh no, dear,” replied Umbridge, shooting Rita a condescending look. “I never said that. Her injury was most definitely an accident.” She nodded and walked through Skeeter’s office door. Closing it carefully behind her, she giggled to herself, “After all, I wanted the girl dead. Oh well, there’s always next time.” She pulled her fluffy pink sweater tightly around her shoulders before stepping out of the Daily Prophet office and onto the street.
“There now, you’re sure you're comfortable?” Mrs. Weasley hovered over Ginny while placing a blanket across her lap.
“Yes, Mum, I’m perfect. Can you tell Harry its safe to come in now?” said Ginny as she glanced at the closed door to her bedroom.
Mrs. Weasley smiled and nodded, “Let me know if you need anything else.” She stepped back and looked carefully at her daughter. The healers said Ginny was on the mend, but she was troubled by how much the simple act of flooing home had exhausted her daughter. Walking out of the room, she wasn’t surprised to find Harry anxiously waiting just outside her door. She patted his shoulder, “She’s settled in now; she asked me to get you. Harry....”
“Don’t worry, Mum, I won’t tire her out. I’ll probably just sit and watch her sleep,” Harry reassured her. “I only have a little more time before I have to get back to Hogwarts, and I want to spend it with her.”
“Off you go then,” said Mrs. Weasley as she nodded to the open door.
Harry hadn’t been in Ginny’s room since his birthday over a year ago. While it was still very “Ginny” in appearance, subtle changes revealed the maturity of its owner. Fewer stuffed animals dotted the room. The Weird Sisters poster was replaced by one for the Holyhead Harpies. He smiled to see a framed picture of Harry and Ginny on her nightstand.
“Your mum said it was safe for me to come in now,” said Harry with a grin.
“Yeah, she insisted that I put on pajamas. I told her I was fine in my clothes, but of course she said I’ll be much more comfortable this way. Then, since you were coming in, I had to put on this dressing gown,” she exhaled in frustration.
“You know she means well. She just wants to make sure that you get your rest; besides, I don’t really mind - gives me something to look forward to,” said Harry while raising his eyebrows and fingering Ginny’s ring.
Ginny’s cheeks flushed a pale pink. “Oh really? Well, don’t get any ideas. I’m still really sore.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. I’ve already had that conversation with your dad,” Harry cringed at the memory from earlier that day. “Now, though, I promised your mum I’d let you rest. Here, lean against me” he sat with his back against the wall and drew her head into his lap. He ran his fingers through her hair and watched as her eyelids begin to droop. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”
Her eyes closed completely and her breathing became deep and slow. She shifted in his lap, causing the left shoulder of her gown to slide down. An ugly red scar marred her pale skin.
Harry looked intently at the scar. It began on the top of her shoulder and continued diagonally down across her back. “What did they do to you last year?” he whispered. For the second time in as many days, Harry felt a tear coursing down his cheek.
A loud knock on the door echoed through the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley dashed to the door before the noise could disturb Ginny. Still harboring traces of the fear from the prior year, she called out, “Who’s there?”
“Molly, its Andromeda, may I come in?”
Mrs. Weasley stared at the closed door. Andromeda Tonks? That was the last visitor she’d expected today. She swiftly unlocked the door and opened it to reveal a woman standing holding a baby with bright turquoise hair. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
“Oh Molly, I’ve just read the Daily Prophet. I’m so sorry,” Andromeda said while dabbing her cheeks.
Mrs. Weasley stiffened and said, “I’m not sure if I know what you’re talking about.”
Mrs. Tonks was caught off-guard. She shifted Teddy on her hip, “The Daily Prophet said,” she paused, looking for the right words. She drew her mouth into a tight line before continuing, “The Daily Prophet said that Ginny had been killed.”
“What?” Mrs. Weasley shouted louder than she intended. “No, no, she had a bad fall, but she’s going to be fine. She’s in her room now.”
“Mrs. Weasley, is everything alright? I heard you shout,” Harry turned the corner to enter the sitting area and froze. “Mrs. Tonks, hello; um, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” His thoughts flew back to that day during the summer. His eyes fell on Teddy sitting on his grandmother’s lap. The little one’s hair was now turning a very Weasley shade of red. He gave a slight bow and began to retreat from the room, “I didn’t mean to disturb you. I’ll be going.”
Andromeda stared at him for a moment, “No, please stay. I have an apology to make.” She motioned for Harry to join her on the couch. “Would you like to hold him?”
Harry smiled and hesitantly reached for Teddy.
Mrs. Weasley laughed at Harry’s attempt, “You’d better practice now. After all, you’ll be an uncle soon enough.”
Andromeda stared back at her cousin.
Reading Mrs. Tonk’s expression, Mrs. Weasley said, “Haven’t you heard? Bill and Fleur are expecting.”
Shaking her head, Mrs. Tonks answered, “I hadn’t heard, but how does that make Harry?” Andromeda paused, not wanting to offend her host.
“Harry and Ginny are engaged - just today,” she beamed with pride at her future son-in-law, “but since we’ve been a little busy. I don’t think we’ve set a date yet.”
Harry shook his head, “No, we definitely haven’t.” He laughed at the mere thought.
Mrs. Tonks cleared her throat, “Harry. I owe you a great apology. When you came to visit me this summer, I was an old woman - totally consumed by my grief. I couldn’t imagine anyone had lost more during the war than I,” she sighed. “I thought the war had taken everything good from my life - my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law. I desperately wanted someone to blame. Unfortunately, you became an easy target.”
Harry looked at the floor, not knowing how to reply.
“Wait. Don’t misunderstand my words. That was then. Now, I know there was only one person to blame; you risked everything to defeat him. Lord Voldemort was the only person I should have blamed for their deaths. You beat him. I should have thanked you, but instead I turned you away. I can’t apologize enough.”
“I understand,” he looked at Teddy and attempted to pry his glasses from the tiny fingers. “I lost everyone too; I have a new family now. You can too.” He smiled at Mrs. Weasley and was surprised to see her eyes red.
“Of course,” Mrs. Weasley approached the couch. “I know we’ve never been especially close, but that can change.” The two women embraced as Teddy succeeded in flinging Harry’s glasses across the room.
“You, son, are definitely going to need more practice,” said Mrs. Weasley through a peal of laughter.
“You’re sure you’ll be alright? I can stay if you’d like,” said Harry with an anxious glance at Ginny.
She gave him an impatient glare as she said, “Of course I will be. Honestly, you two are acting like Michael tried to knock me off my broom.”
Harry exchanged a guilty look with Mr. Weasley. They’d agreed not to tell Ginny about the cause of her accident until more time had passed.
Ginny quickly looked from one man to the other. “I saw that! Harry, what aren’t you telling me?” Ginny drew her wand, “Don’t think I won’t hex you.”
“Ginny, please, put that down. The healer said you need to stay quiet,” Arthur implored his daughter.
“Dad, I can tell that you’re hiding something,” her eyes flashed with anger.
Harry thought back to the times during the past years when he’d been left in the dark - others deciding what he should or shouldn’t be told. He turned to Ginny and said, “It would probably be best if you waited a few days before your parents tell you the whole story.”
“No, its obvious you all know something. This accident happened to me, remember? Wait - this.....this wasn’t an accident, was it? But Michael? I can’t believe he’d...not after everything last year,” she looked at Harry with sad eyes.
“Michael didn’t know what he was doing,” Harry pulled her to sit next to him on the couch. “He was imperioused.”
“Imperioused?” Ginny’s eyebrows knit together.
Mr. Weasley sat in the armchair next to the couple on the couch. He softly said, “Ginny, there’s more to the story. Professor Lawton came to the hospital. He said they believe there is an organized plot to destroy Harry by taking away those closest to him.”
Hearing Mr. Weasley speak those words made guilt crash down upon Harry. He looked at the ring on Ginny’s finger. “Ginny, I’m so sorry. I should have told you before.” He couldn’t meet her eyes, “This isn’t the right time - its too dangerous for you.”
“Harry James Potter, if you’re trying to say that this was a mistake,” she thrust her hand under his downturned face, “then you’re sadly mistaken. Nothing in this world has made me happier. Not being with you most definitely didn’t keep me safe last year, and I won’t let them take you from me again. If anything this just proves how much they underestimate us. It’ll show them their first mistake; they meant to attack you, but they did it to both of us. Harry, I’m dangerous when I’m angry. I’m in love with you, and I won’t let them destroy us.” Despite her father’s presence and the healers’ warnings, she pulled him into a passionate embrace.
With one arm wrapped behind her back, Harry ran the fingers of his other hand through her hair. Coming up for air, he whispered, “You have no idea how much I love you.”
Mr. Weasley, realizing his presence was superfluous, tiptoed from the room. Meeting Mrs. Weasley in the hall, he placed a cautioning arm on her shoulder, “I’d give them a moment. Harry’s saying his goodbye.”
With a knowing smile, Mrs. Weasley stopped and waited a few moments until voices could again be heard. “Goodbye Harry, we’ll take care of her until Saturday. You, on the other hand, make sure you don’t do anything rash,” said Mrs. Weasley with an arm around Ginny’s back.
“You know me,” he smiled back.
“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of” was all Harry heard as he stepped into the fireplace and arrived in the once-familiar office of the headmaster.
“Good evening, Professor, I hope I didn’t disturb you,” he apologized.
“Not at all, Mr. Potter. I dare say, though, I was beginning to wonder if you’d be coming back tonight,” she chided.
“I’m sorry. Mrs. Tonks came by after we’d gotten Ginny settled from coming home. We talked, and I lost track of time,” he explained.
The stern expression on her face softened, “How is Andromeda? I’ve heard she wasn’t doing well.”
“She’s better, I think. Teddy’s quite a handful,” Harry said.
Laughing, Professor McGonagall added, “Did you expect any less with his parents?”
Shaking his head no, Harry answered, “I suppose not.”
Professor McGonagall pursed her lips, “Harry, please sit down. I need to speak frankly with you for a moment.”
Harry walked to the sitting area and took a seat on the small couch. He waited for Professor McGonagall to begin.
Sitting on the chair next to his, she began, “Harry, I have to ask you something. How did you disapperate on Saturday? You know that the wards around Hogwarts should prevent that.”
Silently, Harry thought for a moment. He’d known to expect this conversation, but he honestly didn’t have an answer. Finally, he looked up at her and said, “‘I’m honestly not sure. When Ginny was hurt, I was desperate. I knew she had to get to St. Mungo’s and somehow I knew I could get her there. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Professor McGonagall considered his words for several minutes. At long last, she said, “Could you try to do it again?”
He looked at her with confusion, “You want me to try to disapperate?”
“Harry, the wards at the school are there for a reason. If they’re somehow faulty, I need to know,” she answered.
Closing his eyes, he concentrated on returning to Ginny. He turned on the spot. Nothing. Trying again, he pictured Ginny in danger. For a moment, he thought he felt something; but when he opened his eyes, he was staring at Professor McGonagall.
Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. I suppose it is a question we’ll never fully answer,” she seemed to relax for a moment. “Thank you Harry. Good night.”
Harry began to leave but hesitated, “Professor, if I may, I have something to ask you.”
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