Harry had stayed for the night at the Burrow. He woke up early and went downstairs to find Mrs. Weasley already cooking breakfast. “Good morning dear, did you sleep well last night?” she asked as she slid the fresh baked rolls off of the baking sheet.
“Good morning Missis Weasley. Yes, I did, thank you. I haven’t slept like that for some time. Do you need any help?” Harry asked as he moved around the other side of the table.
Molly chuckled to herself, “No dear,” she said shaking her head as she worked.
“I’ll be more then glad to give you a hand if you need it. Is there anything wrong?” Harry asked.
Molly shook her head again, “it’s just strange having the recipient of the Order of Merlin ask if he can help with breakfast. That’s all,” she said.
“Missis Weasley, I hope that that piece of metal won’t stop you from treating me as you always have. It just doesn’t mean all that much to me. I’d gladly give a thousand of them away, just to be here with your family,” Harry said in complete earnestness.
Molly stopped and stared at him. She could see that he meant what he said. She was glad that she had helped him back on platform nine and three quarters all those years ago.
“Harry would you be a dear and go wake Ginny up for breakfast please. She’s supposed to be going over to the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop to help George out with inventory today,” she finished her explanation as she went back to her cooking.
Harry ran upstairs to Ginny’s room. He quietly opened the door and tiptoed over to her bed. She was lying on her back, with the covers tucked up under her arms. Her hair was laid out on her pillow and the light coming through her window shades illuminated her face with an angelic glow. Harry knelt next to her, and just stared at the one thing in his life, that he would give everything else up for. How could he have been so foolish in his fourth year? Why hadn’t he asked her to the ball? What would his night have been like if he had been with Ginny? He knelt there thinking about these things as she slowly stirred. It was as if she could feel him next to her. Harry leaned over and softly kissed her on the lips. Ginny smiled and stretched her arms a bit but settled back down after a few seconds. Once again, Harry kissed her softly. Ginny smiled and opened her eyes.
“Good morning my love,” she said as she stretched once again. Harry realized that she was doing this to tease him, in that she was moving in a way that drove Harry to distraction. “That was nice. Now I know how sleeping beauty must have felt,” Ginny whispered in his ear, as she pulled him closer for another kiss.
“I didn’t know that you had read any of the muggle fairytales,” Harry admitted to her.
“Who said it was a fairytale? She lived eight hundred years ago in the black forest of Germany. I’m not sure, but Mom told me that we were, somehow related,” Ginny told him as she kissed him once more.
“Well then, that would explain why you’re so difficult to awaken. It seems the only way of waking you up is to kiss you,” Harry retorted. Ginny giggled as she ran her finger over Harry’s bottom lip and leaned up to kiss him one more time. “I could do this every day for the rest of my life,” Harry told her, as he looked only into her eyes.
“Ginny!! Come down for breakfast, before it gets cold. I thought Harry was supposed to be waking you up,” Molly yelled from downstairs. Harry stood up, bent over and kissed her one more time, then stepped out of her room so that she could get dressed. He went back down stairs to the kitchen with a lost, bemused smile on his face.
When he sat down at the table to start his breakfast, Molly took one look at him and chuckled. “Oh! You have it bad, dear! I see that my Ginny has captured your attention, hasn’t she?” Molly asked kindly.
“With each day that goes by I think more and more of her and only her. Is that bad? I’ve never felt like this before,” he confessed to her.
Molly patted his shoulder as she poured more juice into his glass. “That’s how I felt when I was courting dad. I think that it’s also how your dad felt when he was getting serious with your mother. It’s truly a good thing dear, enjoy it with all your heart because you’ll only be able to do this once in your lifetime,” Molly said as she stared off into the distance, seeing something that Harry couldn’t even begin to understand.
The owl with the morning post flew through the window over the sink and landed on the back of Molly’s chair. It kept a close eye on Harry. Evidently, the owl from two nights ago must have passed the word around about being careful around the crazy Potter bloke. Molly took the letter from the bird’s leg and it flew off as fast as its wings could carry it. “Here you are dear, it’s for you. I believe it’s from the Ministry,” she informed him, as she handed the letter over.
Harry was tempted to just take his wand out and blast it as he had been doing. Something about the writing on the envelope, though, caught his attention and he opened it with a rip, down the side. A folded piece of parchment slipped out into his hand. He opened it and read what was on the note. “I have to go to the Ministry this morning, Missis Weasley, Minister Shacklebolt would like to speak with me as soon as I can get there,” he finished.
While Harry waited for Ginny to have her breakfast, he sat and glanced over the Daily Prophet. The front page was covered with pictures of him and his friends receiving the Order of Merlin awards last night. Centered on the front page was a picture of him and Ginny enjoying a great kiss! When he read on into the rest of the pages of the paper, he found several more pictures of the two of them, as well as Ron and Hermione. Three pages were dedicated to the members of the DA and showed Harry with Neville as well as the kiss that Harry gave Luna. Harry reached the last page as Ginny finished her breakfast tea. He had to agree that this was the best issue of the Prophet that he had ever read. The stories were accurate, the pictures were fair, and the coverage was properly balanced. “It’s about time the paper did a good job,” Harry commented as he folded it up and put it on the hutch.
He waited for Ginny to finish her breakfast and then disapparated her over to George’s joke shop. He felt that it would keep her clothes cleaner, than if she used the floo network to get there. He kissed her at the door, bid George a good day and disappeared within two steps. George stood there and marveled at how his friend had changed in the three years since he, himself, had left Hogwarts.
The minister’s secretary jumped as Harry materialized right in front of her. “Good morning! How are you today?” Harry asked as he stepped up to her desk.
“Very good Sir, thank you. The minister will see you right away,” she said in a much more friendly tone of voice than she used the last time he had come here. “Mister Potter, I’m sorry I was abrupt with you last time. Ah! Congratulations on your award Sir,” she said softly under her breath as she went back to her filing.
“Thank you,” Harry acknowledged her good wishes.
Harry could hear two or three male voices coming from the Ministers inner office. He stepped forward and pushed open the door to find Kingsley in conversation with Wizengamot member McLaggen, Professor Slughorn, and another gentleman that he had never met. “Good morning Minister Shacklebolt, Gentlemen, I hope I’m not late,” Harry asked as he came up to them.
“What? No Red Robes today Potter. I thought you always wore them when you came here,” McLaggen goaded Harry before anyone else could greet him. Shacklebolt placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder as he winked at him. Harry knew that Kingsley was interceding on his behalf, without starting an argument. Harry smiled back at the Minister.
“Next time Mr. McLaggen, I’ll wear them just for you, all right. I’ll meet you right out in the atrium, this way if you want an audience for any more snide, unintelligent remarks they’ll be there. They will also see what I can do when I go up against an older wizard. It will be interesting! Won’t it?!” Harry asked as he stepped so close, that his nose almost touched this offensive man’s nose. Harry held him in a dead-mans stair for a few seconds more and then turned away as if he wasn’t even there.
“Professor Slughorn! How nice to see you sir. Are you enjoying the last few days of holiday before Hogwarts reopens, for another year?” Harry asked him.
“Well, yes Harry I’ve enjoyed my time off actually. After last year's horrific classes with those barbaric Carrow’s. I needed time to refresh myself. Did you enjoy yourself? I hear that you went to Australia. Was it enjoyable?” he wanted to know.
“It could have been better, but the country that we saw was lovely,” Harry admitted to his old potions teacher. “Good morning sir, I don’t believe that I had the pleasure of meeting you, yet,” he said, as he extended his hand to the last man in the room.
“Harry, this is Healer Hippocrates Smethwyck, he’s helping us try and get a handle on this new flu that’s becoming a nightmare,” Kingsley introduced him.
“Harry, if you’ll sit down we’ll bring you up to what’s happening with this flu,” Hippocrates invited Harry to sit in one of the four chairs in front of the Ministers desk.
Their discussions continued through their lunch break. Kingsley’s receptionist was asked to go out and get them sandwiches and bring them back to the office so that they wouldn’t have to stop what they were doing. The hostility that had occurred between Harry and Tiberius was soon forgotten as they were drawn deeper into the reason why they were there in the first place. Though Harry was the youngest wizard there, the ideas that he came up with were agreed with as part of a new method of reducing the chance of spreading the contagion further.
The afternoon dragged on as the four men worked out the finer points of what would be done to any new cases that occurred. Although the idea of getting some of the muggle doctors to assist was at first frowned upon, Harry persuaded them to look at what they had been doing in Microbiology and gene splicing. When the two Ministers admitted that they weren’t sure what that was, the Healer chuckled and told them that it would be a good idea
A Patronus came through the Ministers office wall and stepped right up to Harry. “Harry, Ginny’s gone. She’s three hours late and I haven’t heard a word from her,” it said in Molly’s voice. It had barely enough time to finish its message, when Harry bolted up from his seat and disapparated away without another word to the other three men that were sitting there dumbfounded.
Seconds later Harry charged through the kitchen door of the Burrow. “What happened, Missis Weasley?” he almost yelled in his adrenalin fueled state.
“Harry, she was supposed to come home three hours ago by floo network. When she didn’t, after awhile, I sent an owl to George to check on when she was going to come home. He said that Ginny left to go to Flourish and Blotts. We haven’t seen her since she left three hours ago! What are we going to do?” Molly asked almost in tears.
Harry opened his hand and the ink well and quill on the hutch flew to him. He grabbed a red ribbon off the end table next to the couch and scribbled something quickly on it. He yelled for Errol and watched as a flying fluff ball came zooming down the staircase. Harry caught the bird out of mid air and tied the ribbon around its leg. Without saying a word he turned on his heels and crossed the yard. As he went, he held his right hand out and his new Firebolt flew to him from the shed in the back yard. Without breaking stride he kicked his right leg over the broom and was off the ground just as he passed through the portal. Once he reached the top of the trees he held Errol in front of his face and told him, as he looked right in his eyes to, “find Ginny, Now!”
Harry threw the owl out in front of his broom and followed it as it headed North East. Errol led him over several hills and a couple of small townships. Harry could see the owl begin to descend toward a small white cottage sitting in a picturesque garden on the side of an infrequently used lane.
The owl landed on the sill of one of the downstairs windows. Harry tucked his head down and accelerated toward the window. Before the owl could tap on the window glass once, Harry blasted through the window with his wand out in front of him. He rolled off his broom and landed behind one of the couches in the room. His broom slammed into the wall and buried itself almost up to the bristles. He came up to his feet with his wand in his hand ready to kill, only to find Ginny sitting on the other couch with Hannah Abbot and Hannah’s father. Both girls shrieked and Hannah’s father jumped with fright, at the explosion of glass and chunks of wood flying all over the parlour. Harry stood behind the couch that he had landed behind shaking, holding his wand on the two other occupants of the cottage. “Ginny, are you all right? Are you hurt?” he asked in almost a panic.
“Harry Potter! What on earth are you doing?” Ginny asked as she stood up with her hands akimbo on her hips. “What do you mean crashing in here like this? You could have killed someone,” Ginny yelled at him in a terrified voice.
“You’re three hours late, Ginny. Where the Bloody Hell was you Patronus? Your mother is terrified that you’ve either been kidnapped or killed. I was coming here to either rescue you or kill everyone that had played a part in taking you,” Harry was almost screaming at her. She stood there quite frightened by what she was seeing in front of her. Harry had both of his hand clasped in tight fist and his entire body was shaking from being asked to handle so much adrenalin at one time. Great pulses of energy kept bombarding the room that they were in, as Harry tried to calm down.
“Harry, it’s all right, calm down, I’m fine. I met Hannah in Flourish and Blotts and she invited me here for tea. I sent my Patronus to the Burrow over three hours ago,” she stopped, as she realized that her Patronus wouldn’t have penetrated the wards that were now up around her home. “Oh! Harry I didn’t realize that my Patronus wouldn’t make it to my mother. I’m sorry, I must have terrified both of you,” she admitted.
“Ginny, you were supposed to stay with George and go nowhere else. It’s too dangerous to be out alone right now,” Harry tried to explain.
This only got Ginny upset with him for suggesting that she couldn’t protect herself. “Harry! I’m not a defenseless baby, I can handle myself,” she told him now getting her Weasley blood up.
“Please come home now. We can talk about this when I’m sure that you’re in a more secure place,” he said as he went to take her arm.
She pulled it away and told him, “No! It’s all right! I’ll come home in another hour or so. I have to give Hannah a hand with cleaning up what you did to her house,” she told him.
Harry waved his wand and all the glass flew back to the window and rejoined into a single pane. The wood of the wall and window frame came back together as if there had never been any damage done in the first place.
“Now, will you please come home?” Harry asked. Ginny refused, so as to make a point that she could go where she wanted, when she wanted, and she didn’t need to be escorted by Harry all the time. When he realized that the only way he was going to get her home was too forcibly take her he thought twice and handed over his broom to her.
“Use this to come home, straight line, don’t deviate, understand? Send your Patronus out as you leave, so I know you’re on your way home. I’ll go and tell your mother that you’re all right so she can calm down. When I left, she was absolutely terrified,” Harry told her as he went to leave. “Mister Abbott, Hannah, I’m sorry for frightening you, it wasn’t intentional. It was nice to see you again Hannah. I’ll take my leave of you now, good day.”
Ginny left the Abbott’s some forty five minutes later. She didn’t send her Patronus out; she just rode Harry’s broom back to the Burrow. When she reached the portal she found Harry standing just outside the rock wall with his arms crossed on his chest. “I’ve been waiting for your Patronus,” he said. Ginny could hear the anger in his voice and see that he was struggling to maintain himself under control.
“Well, see now, you don’t need it,” she said as she stepped by and handed him his broom. She immediately realized that she had made a mistake because she was pushed from behind by a set of incredible impulses of energy radiating from Harry.
“Ginny!!” Harry yelled, “You’ve got to take this more seriously or you’re going to get hurt or killed.”
“Oh, Harry you worry too much. Nothing happened, I’m fine see. I had a nice visit with Hannah and everything is all right, now stop worrying,” she said as she dismissed his concerns. She walked into the Burrow and came up short as she came face to face with her mother. Harry was glad to be still standing out on the porch; it kept him out of the direct line of fire between the two Weasley women.
When things calmed down to a level he thought was safe, he ventured into the kitchen. Ginny stood by the table with a mad frown on her face. When he came in, their eyes met and Harry saw that he was going to get his share as well. “Thanks, Harry! You came here and told my mother that I wouldn’t come home. I’m now grounded until I leave for Hogwarts. I can handle myself all right?” she yelled at him in embarrassment and frustration.
Harry leaned forward and placed his hands on the table. His left hand fell upon Mrs. Weasley’s oven mitt. “You can’t handle yourself; that’s the problem, Ginny,” Harry explained.
“I’ve always been able to hold my own with my brothers. I’ve face Death Eaters at the Ministry, I fought Bellatrix Lestrange and I’m still here,” she told him defiantly. “I think I’m more then able to handle myself!” she finished, looking at him straight on, eye to eye.
“First of all Ginny, your brothers love you and would rather take a Bat-Bogey Hex than use a spell or hex on you. They don’t count, because they love you. Second, The Death Eaters at the Ministry were not intent on killing any of us because they had been ordered by Tom to only get the Prophecy. Finally, Bellatrix Lestrange was toying with you, Hermione, and Luna. I saw what happened; you will never know how close you came to being killed that night. Don’t tell me that you can handle yourself, because you can’t, or won’t. That’s why I’ve been stepping in front of you all the time. You’re not doing anything to protect yourself. Sooner or later someone is going to get you. That’s why I’ve been double checking everything each night to make sure that you’re safe,” he finished his explanation as his voice raised up to a crescendo.
“I don’t need you to protect me! I’m more then able to protect myself,” Ginny bluffed once again. Harry picked up Mrs. Weasley’s oven mitt and tapped her on the left side of her face.
“I challenge you to a duel. If you win, I’ll keep my mouth shut from now on. If I win, you do what I say, as I say, without argument,” he proposed.
Ginny stood there livid, “you want a duel? You’re on! You’re going to be the sorriest wizard in England by the time I’m finished with you Potter,” she yelled as she stepped out the door and ran into Charlie as he was about to come in.
“Ginny! Hi,” Charlie only had time to say.
“Out of my way, Charlie! Potter, you coming or what?” she barked back over her shoulder.
“What did I just walk into?” Charlie asked Harry, as he turned to watch his kid sister stomp out the door.
“You’re just in time, Charlie. I just challenged your sister to a duel. Care to be my second?” Harry asked.
Charlie’s mouth fell opened. “You did what?” was all he could ask.
Molly stepped forward, “Charlie dear, come with me, your sister will be needing us when this is over,” Molly informed her son. The two Weasleys went out into the yard together to watch what would happen. When Ginny turned around she gasped, Harry was standing there in his Red Robes. Harry bowed to her and she threw her first hex at him. He caught it on the tip of his wand and dropped it to the ground where it dissipated. Ginny threw several more spells and hexes at him but he easily deflected all of them.
Harry threw a Jelly-Legs Jinx that caught her at the knees. He stood there and gave her several minutes to undo his Jinx. Harry deflected several more spells from Ginny’s wand. He raised his left hand, palm up. The grass behind her started to grow until it was two meters tall. Harry caught her with a light stunning spell that threw her back two meters into the tall grass. Once she was lying down Harry lowered his left hand and the grass returned, back to its original height. He stepped over and pointed his wand at her; “Yield!” was all he said. Ginny hesitated for a second. Would Harry use his Dermal Nematoda spell on her? No matter, she wasn’t about to give in. She shook her head, as she stared directly into his eyes. Harry twitched his wand and Ginny started to feel a tickling sensation run up and down her body. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t help but start to giggle then laugh as the spell was left on her for an increasing amount of time.
After a full minute, Ginny was ready to wet her pants from the tickling she was receiving. Harry took mercy on her and lifted his spell. His point had been made. Now if she only accepted the lesson. Ginny stood up and walked into the Burrow’s front door and slammed it behind her. Harry went to follow, but was stopped by Charlie. “Let me go and talk to her. If you go in, she’ll probably kill you, at this point,” he said with a smirk on his face.
Charlie walked into the kitchen and saw Ginny standing next to the table holding on to the back of one of the chairs. She was breathing heavily out of frustration and exertion from the Rictusempra spell that she had been under.
“Are you all right sis?" Charlie asked. She turned and he could see that she was crying. “Sorry sis, turn off the water works. You brought this upon yourself, Harry’s right about this. I know that it must have been hard for him to do, but he had to show you that you’re vulnerable. He was right. If you were to go up against a true Death Eater, you wouldn’t last a minute. If you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll ask Harry for lessons on how to better protect yourself and stay by him for your own protection until you can take anyone else on,” Charlie finished. Ginny stood there stunned; she had expected him to be on her side. “I am on your side, learn from this, it could keep you alive!” he said, as if he had read her mind.
A noise behind Charlie drew Ginny attention back to the door. Harry was standing there with Mrs. Weasley. “Are you all right?” he asked in as kind of a voice as he could.
“Yea,” Ginny said as she stepped by them and went up stairs.
“Don’t worry dear, she’ll be fine after she cools off for a while, just leave her be, all right?” Mrs. Weasley consoled him.
The next hour found Harry standing in front of the counter in the small jewelry store he had spotted a couple of months ago. Harry was looking at a small box in his hand, when several older witches came into the store. They stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Harry with what looked like a ring box. Their gossip orientated minds kicked into over drive. Harry took one look at them and realized what he looked like at that moment. “Good day, ladies. Do you think that a young girl would like these earrings as a surprise?” he asked in hopes of defusing any gossip of an upcoming wedding.
“Oh, they look like golden Snitches,” one of the ladies said.
Harry decided to play along this story line. “I thought that she would like them, she enjoys playing Quidditch at school,” Harry completed his ploy.
“I’m sure she’ll enjoy them. Aren’t you Harry Potter?” one of the ladies asked as she recognized him.
“Yes ma’am. If you wouldn’t mind, please don’t say anything about this to anyone else. It would spoil her surprise if she heard about it,” Harry asked as innocently as he could.
“Oh, don’t worry dear, your secret is safe with us, isn’t ladies?” one of the other members of the gossip gang said. Harry looked at the four of them and realized that he had, at best, fifteen minutes to get back to the Burrow or else all was lost.
“Thank you, ladies,” he said as he turned to the sales clerk. “I’ll take it,” he told her
When Ginny came down the stairs for supper, Harry came to the bottom of the steps and blocked her way down. “Ginny I’m sorry,” he said softly. She looked at him for a few seconds and threw her arms around his neck. She broke down crying and would not let him go.
“I’m such a prat. I’m sorry Harry, you were right. You’re not mad at me are you?” she asked, in that little girl way that drove Harry crazy for her.
“No, only concerned that you would put yourself in danger. I love you too much. I would never want to see you get hurt. That’s why I’ve been keeping so close to you, I felt that if I was there, then you’d be all right. This afternoon I thought I was going to die. Please don’t ever do that to me again, all right?” he whispered into her hair as he held her close. No one noticed his hands were in two tight fists.
Molly ladled a thick, rich beef stew into the bowls of each person sitting around the table. Mr. Weasley had arrived a few minutes before as if he had smelt supper cooking. Charlie had stayed to visit with his parents. Ron and Hermione had arrived just as the first bowl was being filled. The conversation that night around the table was about what had happened with Ginny and the duel. “You actually accepted a duel with Harry. Ginny, are you bloody nuts?” Ron wanted to know. Everyone broke down laughing at his outburst. Ginny accepted the teasing directed at her. After all, she had put the rest of the family as well as the Ministers office in a panic.
Half way through supper there was a knock on the door. When Arthur went to see who it was, he was greeted with Shacklebolt’s booming voice asking if Ginny was all right. The Minister was invited in and joined the rest of the family for a bowl of stew. “Harry do you think you could come back to my office tomorrow. We would like to finish what we were discussing earlier today,” he asked. “Hopefully we won’t be disturbed this time,” he said as he peaked an eyebrow at Ginny. She blushed from her neck to the tops of her ears.
When supper was over, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the little box he had purchased in the store earlier. He opened it up and handed it to Ginny. Her eyes lit up when she saw that they were pierce earrings in the shape of Golden Snitches. Harry took them out one at a time and Hermione helped place them on Ginny’s ear lobes. She touched each with her wand and they penetrated Ginny’s skin. The charm worked in such a way, that she felt no pain. Once both earrings were put in placed Ginny turned to her mother and asked what she thought of them. Molly agreed with Hermione that they were lovely. Harry waved his wand behind Ginny’s ears and a light golden light played behind her head accentuating her hair for a second. If the person in front of her had not been looking directly at her when it was done, they wouldn’t have seen it; as it was, only Molly witnessed Harry’s spell.
After supper was over, everyone migrated into the parlour. When Harry went to join them, Mrs. Weasley called him aside for a minute. “Harry, what did you do?” she asked under her breath.
“I put a locator spell on the earrings. If she ever disappears again, I can home in on her in a matter of seconds. Plus I added a sticking charm, they’ll have to pull her ears off before either earring comes off,” Harry explained to a chuckling Mrs. Weasley.
“Very good dear, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Thank you, Ginny is lucky to have you,” she said as she patted him on the arm.
As the clock struck midnight everyone in the Burrow was asleep. The noise from Harry’s room brought both Mr. Weasley and Ron in to hold and comfort Harry. The stress of the day had been too much and had brought the nightmares back with a vengeance. When four o’clock came around and Harry could still not sleep, Ginny came and pushed everyone out and laid down with him. With the arms of his love around him he was finally able to drift off to a fitful sleep. The next morning found Harry exhausted and irritable. Harry took a shower and went to the Ministry for his meeting with Kingsley.
That night, when he returned, the discussions of the day could be seen to weigh heavily on his shoulders. Ginny took him out on the swing and after talking with him about helping her to improve her dueling skills, suggested that he needed to return to visit with Healer Strout. Harry considered it to be a good idea and promised that he would go right after his next meeting with the Minister.
Harry left the next morning for another long, arduous meeting with Kingsley and the other members of the team that had started working on finding the basis of this illness. On Healer Smethwyck’s advice they added a muggle doctor that was expert in contagious diseases. She was ushered into the office just after lunch. The Healer introduced her to the others as Dr. Celeste Eden, Doctor of Microbiology and contagious diseases.
“Dr. Eden has done some preliminary work on several of the bodies of the victims of the illness,” Healer Smethwyck informed the other men in the room. Harry looked at her and saw an intelligent, well poised, woman in her mid thirties. Her hair was light brown and locked up behind her head in a tight bun. She reminded Harry of Luna because she kept a pencil tucked in the bun of her hair.
This was where the similarities ended. This woman had sharp, keen eyes and an air that left no one in doubted that she was very capable in her profession. She looked around, a bit lost as to what was going on. She had never been to the ministry and when told that it was for magic she, at first, had wanted to return to the hospital that she had been recruited from.
“Is this some type of joke? You must be nuts? There isn’t anything like the Ministry of Magic. Who set this up? If you’re using those dead bodies to play some sick prank, I’ll turn all of you over to the authorities, I swear!” she was finally able to make her feelings known on what was happening.
Harry stepped forward and took the Doctors hand. “Trust me when I say that you’re here for a very important reason Doctor!” he told her with a very calm voice. "No! We are not nuts as you’ve asked, and yes what you have been told is true. Would you like a demonstration?” Harry finished.
“Am I to believe that you’re a magician?” she asked.
“No ma’am, I’m not a magician, I’m a wizard,” he told her. She threw back her head and barked out a laugh that was reminiscent of Sirius’. “What would you have me do to prove it?” he asked her.
“She flippantly told Harry to disappear. He took two steps towards her and vanished before her eyes. Dr. Eden let out a scream and fainted on the spot.
Once she was revived by the other wizards in the office, Harry apparated back in from the receptionist’s office. Poor Dr. Eden almost passed out, once again. If Harry hadn’t caught her she would have dashed her head on the corner of Kingsley’s desk. “How did you do that?” she asked, still in numb shock.
“Simple, I told you I was a wizard,” he answered her.
“It must be a trick. What you just did is against all the science that I’ve learned all my life,” she said, still not able to believe what her eyes were showing her.
“Would you like one more demonstration, Doctor?” Harry asked. “What if I made you float in mid air. Would you believe me then?”
“You can’t do that. That’s just a stage trick,” she argued. Harry lifted his wand and a second later the Doctor was hanging some two meters in the air. After the initial scream and screams of help, Harry was able to make her realize that what he had told her was true. Once he was sure that she believed him he slowly let her back down to the ground.
“Will you help us Doctor? There are a lot of people dying of this flu. So far we haven’t been able to do anything to cure it once someone is infected by it,” Minister Shacklebolt admitted.
Dr. Eden took several minutes to regain her composure from what Harry had just done to her. Harry conjured up a chair for her to sit in. When she pressed herself into the chair she was amazed that what she had been told was completely true. She finally came back to her professional self and began explaining what this so called flu really was.
“Minister Kingsley, is it? This is not flu, but the Bubonic plague! Worst yet, someone has been playing with their chemistry set. They blended the lethal part of the Ebola Zaire virus into the genome of the plague bacterium. Yersinia pestis is a bacterium that, on its own, devastated Europe in the middle ages. With the Ebola genome mixed in, its lethality will be a hundred percent. I’m sorry gentlemen but whoever has done this is out to destroy all human life on this planet, if it’s not quarantined, quickly,” she finished.
The rest of the day was spent discussing what could be done to counter this threat against not only the Wizarding community but the rest of the world. At the end, an exhausted group of people left the Ministers office for the night. Harry said his goodbyes and quickly disapparated back to the Burrow, in a completely morose mood. Even Ginny couldn’t lift his spirits. After supper was over he just sat at the table staring off into space considering what could happen if this plague continued to spread.
Several minutes later, the door to the Burrow opened slowly as Mr. Weasley came in. His gloomy expression immediately told everyone that he had had a very bad day, which was about to get much worse. “How did your day go dear?” Mrs. Weasley wanted to know.
Mr. Weasley leaned against the kitchen sink counter and rubbed his face with his hands. “Terrible! We lost a friend late this afternoon,” he informed her. Everyone turned and listened for who it was.
“Who was it dear,” Molly coaxed him to divulge the name.
“We lost Mrs. Figg! She had a bad heart and it finally let go,” Arthur explained to the shocked members of his family which were still around the table.
Harry got up a little unsteady on his feet and staggered to the door. He let out a grunt as if he was in great pain and stepped out into the yard. He ran across to the portal and headed along the riverside to a thicket of heavy oak trees. When Ginny went to go after him, Arthur stopped her and handed her to her mother. “Ginny, NO! Stay with your mother. Molly you know what to do. Take her to the other side of the house and put the couch over the two of you. Don’t come out until you get my Patronus. I love you dear. I always have,” he finished, as if he was a soldier saying good bye, as he was going off to war.
“Dad, let me go to him. Harry needs me right now,” Ginny said, not understanding what was about to occur.
“Ginny, your mother will explain, do not come outside under any circumstances. Do you understand? It’s very dangerous right now, I’ll take care of Harry, you must stay with your mother,” he said as he placed his right hand on her cheek as if to say good bye. Ginny realized what was about to occur and grabbed onto her father for dear life; not wanting him to endanger himself. Arthur disentangled himself from his terrified daughter and stepped out the front door of the Burrow.
He walked to the portal and looked back at his home and wondered if he would ever see it again. What he had to do, didn’t allow him to reconsider his fate. Stepping through the portal, Arthur took out his wand and intoned, “Poda Luminous.” Harry’s footsteps began to glow a pale green, as they stretched out toward a thicket of trees and bushes near the river some fifty meters to the left of where Arthur now stood. As he started to come closer to the loci, he could feel pulses of energy coming from the center of the trees.
“Harry, it’s dad! I’m coming in, all right? It’s all right Harry, I understand how you feel,” he kept talking as he stepped forward into the trees. As he neared the center of the thicket, he saw Harry sitting on the ground with his knees up to his chest and his arms around his legs. The savior of the world had been reduced to an anguished boy rocking back and forth looking out onto the dark waters of the river.
Arthur stepped forward and slid himself between Harry’s back and a rock that protruded out of the river bank behind him. Each wave of anguish struck Arthur as a physical hammer blow. He placed his legs on either side of Harry so that the boy sat in between them. He slipped his right arm around and under Harry’s right arm. He then slipped his left arm over Harry’s left shoulder and locked his hands together in front of Harry’s chest. “It’s all right son, I have you now. You don’t have to hold it in any more. You’ve valiantly held in all this grief for far longer than you should have. It’s become a poison to you. Let it out son. I’m here. For tonight, I’ll protect you! Go ahead let it out,” his pseudo father ordered him, as gently as he could.
Harry’s body convulsed in a great spasm, as he gulped as much air as his lungs could hold. Ginny’s dad braced himself the best he could, for what he knew was coming. Harry put back his head on Arthur’s shoulder and let go with a scream that was wretched from his very bowels. It went on and on. The intensity continued to increase until the very leaves of the trees around the two wizards were glowing as if touched by Saint Elmo’s fire. Harry sagged back against Mr. Weasley and gulped another lung full of air. Arthur felt it coming and held Harry in as tight a grip as he could. When Harry screamed this time he ripped the bark off the trees in the vicinity with a tremendous pulse of energy. Harry began to cry in great wracking sobs. He filled his lungs again and tipped his head up as if he was vomiting his anguish out at the stars. The water of the river welled up onto the other river bank, some several meters.
“Harry, it’s all right. I have you, relax son,” he whispered into Harry’s ear.
In his agony he sobbed out, “Dad, I couldn’t save them. They all died. I wasn’t fast enough. I took too long to find what I needed to destroy Voldemort. Everyone died!” Harry started to sob so hard that he couldn’t talk. It took every ounce of strength just to breath.
“Listen to me Harry! In wars, good people die. There is nothing you could have done about it, everyone knew the risk and accepted it as part of what they were doing. No one blames you for the deaths. They know what you did and everyone owes you a debt of gratitude that no one can repay. The only one that is berating you for what happened, is you. You have to stop this son, it’s going to destroy you if you don’t,” Mr. Weasley admonished Harry as gently as he could.
Harry filled his lungs to capacity again and let out a horrific scream that crushed the trees directly around them to the ground. The river kept sloshing back and forth across its bed with each pulse of energy that Harry was exerting. “Why?” Harry screamed, to no one in particular.
“There is no reason Harry. It just happened. You have to accept it and go on with your life,” Arthur tried to make him realize.
“I couldn’t save them. Remus! Tonks! Colin! Fred! Bonnie’s Father! All the others. What am I suppose to tell them? Sorry it just took too long. Your loved one died because I was too busy hiding out to take on Tom sooner,” Harry confessed the most horrific point that had been eating at his soul since the end of the Hogwarts Battle. “What can I say to mom every time I come down stairs and it’s me and not Fred? What do I say to those that go to bed at night without their husband or wife?” Harry’s pain melted out of him onto the Weasley patriarch.
“That’s it son let it go! Cry it all out. It’s the only way to cure yourself.”
“Harry, there are no answers. I won’t insult you by telling you that after this, it will all be better; it won’t. I will tell you this. You must forgive yourself, to heal. I know because I went through the same thing when your parents were killed. Molly and I had been good friends with them, in the Order. The night they died I came out here to the very same spot and did just as you’re doing now. Mom came and held me until I banished my demons. You must do the same.”
“I feel guilty every time that Mom hugs me! I think that it should be Fred and not me.” Harry gulped great quantities of air and Arthur steeled himself for what he knew was coming. Harry screamed and screamed and screamed until he turned his head and retched his supper up. He put his head back on Arthur’s shoulder and sobbed and cried until his whole body trembled with agony. The two sat there, one holding onto a young man in danger of losing himself and the other barely grasping the last tendrils of his own sanity.
As the hours of night slipped by, Harry continued to vent his agony and pain. In between, he and Arthur would talk about what the demons had done to him in his dreams and his great terror of Ginny getting hurt. Arthur realized how important his daughter was to keeping this young man safe and sane in this threatened world.
When the first light of dawn was kissing the tops of the leaves of the remaining trees, Harry finally collapsed into an exhaustion induced stupor. Ginny’s dad sent a Patronus back to the house informing the ladies that Harry was all right and that the worst was over. Within seconds Ginny came running into the clearing and grabbed Harry. Ginny had sat on Harry’s lap and had effectively pinned her dad’s legs to the ground. “Dear, do you think that you could stand up long enough so that I can get Harry up?” he asked his daughter.
She stood up and helped her father up. No matter how hard Harry tried to stand, his tirade had sapped all of his strength. After the third attempt Arthur scooped Harry up in his arms and, led by Ginny, carried him back to the house. He placed him on the parlour couch and Molly came over to wash Harry’s face with a cold clothe. “Thanks, Mom,” Harry whispered, since he was no longer strong enough to project his voice as he normally did. Molly stopped dead in her tracks when she heard him call her Mom.
“Oh, Harry if you only knew how long I’ve waited to hear you call me that. It sounds so good.” “Here,” she said as she handed him a vial of liquid. “Drink, all of it," she admonished him. Whatever it was, Harry collapsed into a deep slumber within seconds. The empty vial fell from his hand, as all of the muscles that had been asked to handle so much energy in the last several hours, finally relaxed.
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