Before the obvious answer came to him so suddenly and everything became blissfully clear on that front, Harry had been slowly going insane. Despite everything he had gone through with the Weasleys, he had been suspicious of each and every one of them, and both guilt and a feeling of betrayal had been eating him up alive. He couldn’t believe one of them might be behind all this, and he couldn’t believe he was even considering it. They had all proven themselves trustworthy on more than one occasion and he loathed to even think about them letting him down like that.
The cryptic exchange with the man in the Leaky Cauldron had made him paranoid, particularly after the load of Potions they had found in Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes afterwards. Also, Piers Polkiss had been found dead in an alley near his childhood home; it had been disconcerting for Harry to find someone he had once known in the place he and Dudley had been attacked by Dementors. He had never been friends with the bloke, but he couldn’t say he was happy the man was dead. All this had enforced his anxiety until he had felt so pressured he had been ready to scream.
Ron, too, had been at a stalemate. Even the idea that someone in his family might be involved in something like this was disgusting and offending, but at the same time, he couldn’t help thinking that if one of his brothers did have something to do with this, he wanted to know. Even if only to lock him in Azkaban and publicly sever all ties with him, Ron wanted to know who it was.
And then, in one bittersweet notion as he was sitting in his office, having once again gone through the memory of the “interview”, Harry had realised who it was. It had instantly relaxed them; the frustration of not getting anywhere, only setting off one trap after another while just waiting for their opponents’ next move had vanished. They had instantly formed a plan of what to do, but unfortunately, it would have to wait until the next morning.
This left Harry’s evening free, which meant it was time to have the talk with Ginny. Harry was having very mixed feelings about The Conversation, as he and Ron had dubbed it: he had wanted a reason ever since Ginny had left, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to know. It was too late to change any of it now.
Even Flooing Ginny at the Burrow and saying he had to work after all wouldn’t have saved him from the discussion, since he had an order from the Minister for Magic himself to go home. Ron, the git, had gone to Kingsley and explained the situation when it seemed Harry was getting cold feet, and Kingsley had promptly ordered Harry to go to Ginny instantly.
So there he was, in the back garden of the Burrow, waiting for her to come out so they could go to his flat where they would have some privacy. Only, instead of Ginny, he was joined by Molly Weasley. Harry had never really seen the woman so nervous when she was alone with him, and he knew what was coming before she even reached him.
“Harry, can I have a word with you?” she asked, wringing her hands. Harry was stunned for a moment – where was the woman who had always been so fierce in everything she did? Hermione’s words of how much Molly had worried of the disagreement between her and Harry came back to him, and he realised Hermione was right. He never should’ve doubted it in the first place – he had known Hermione for thirteen years, after all, and the woman was always right.
“Yeah, of course,” replied Harry, and Mrs Weasley smiled in relief.
“Ginny told me a little about your history with Romilda Vane. I’m really very sorry, dear,” she started, sincerely apologetic. “I just wanted to see you happy again. I can’t bear it that it was my little girl that hurt you so. I know it was uncalled for and I shouldn’t have been so angry when you didn’t like the idea.”
“Mrs Weasley, honestly, you don’t need to apologise for that,” said Harry quietly. “I’m kind of touched, actually. George told me you’ve been doing the same for him and Charlie.”
“But I need to apologise for what I said. You will always be welcome to the Burrow, and I wish you would start coming to our family dinners every Saturday,” said Molly seriously. Harry smiled slightly.
“I just might,” he replied, and Molly hugged him tightly.
“Going out with Ginny or not, you’re a part of our family,” she told him sternly, “and don’t you forget it.”
“Thank you, Mrs Weasley,” said Harry with a small smile as Ginny finally got to the garden. Harry noticed she was smiling very widely, and he got the feeling she had planned it all out. She had only been back in his life for a week and she had started planning things for him already – Harry didn’t know whether to be very grateful or just very worried.
“Is everything all right between the two of you now?” asked Ginny happily, her smile turning into that radiant grin Harry had always loved so much when he nodded in response to her question.
In the week that he had lived with her, Harry had gotten used to the reminders of the Ginny he had known. The old little gestures and habits and the expressions she had on when she was angry, glad or thoughtful had increased in number as the days went by and she relaxed more around him, and they were always accompanied by a wave of longing in Harry. Still, nothing had yet brought as much of a reaction out of him as this particular smile had, and suddenly Harry was very glad Mrs Weasley was there – otherwise, he might not have been able to resist the urge to just grab Ginny and kiss her.
“Shall we get going now, Harry?” It took surprisingly much out of Harry to shake himself out of his reverie to reply to Ginny – as it was, he only managed another nod, and she moved closer so he could Apparate them to his flat.
When he had redone the wards with Bill, they had made it so that Harry was the only one who could Apparate there; Ginny could Disapparate because she needed a fast way out should anything happen, but to get in she, too, needed Harry. And even though they had done it about a million times already, getting so close to her still got Harry’s heart pounding.
“Are you ready?” he asked when she had a vice-like grip on his arm. He had to struggle to make his voice sound normal, and was relieved when it didn’t sound at all hoarse. At Ginny’s nod, he said goodbye to Mrs Weasley and Apparated to his flat.
“Do you need a minute or are we going to have that conversation right now?” asked Ginny, sounding somewhat worried as she measured him with her eyes. “I’ve had hours to prepare myself, but you look a little... distressed.”
“I’ve just spent four hours planning what Ron and I’ll be doing tomorrow. It’s a tad straining, to say the least, and I just can’t get the implications out of my head, but other than that, I’m fine,” replied Harry, shaking his head slightly. “We can start now. Better to get it over with as soon as possible, right?”
“Right,” muttered Ginny, leading the way to the living room that was right next to the kitchen. She sat down on an armchair and waited while Harry sat down on the sofa. When Harry looked to her, gesturing that she could start, she nervously tucked a lock of her long hair behind her left ear. Her right hand had already grasped the charm of her necklace.
“Why do you keep doing that?” asked Harry curiously. Ginny looked at him, surprised, clearly with no idea of what he was talking about. “You know, that thing with the necklace. Why do you still wear it, anyway?”
“It’s a lovely necklace, why shouldn’t I wear it?” Ginny countered, smiling slightly. “You should know I’ve got very fond memories of this necklace – and especially the charm. I could never take it off.”
Oh yes, he knew what the golden, heart-shaped charm that hung on the thin golden chain meant for her. Or at least he knew what it symbolised, but it really wouldn’t have been hard to guess. The thing was shaped like a heart, after all.
“I just thought you might have wanted to take it off. Considering...” Harry let his voice fade out because he really felt a little too awkward to put it so bluntly just when she was about to explain.
“It is kind of strange, isn’t it?” asked Ginny, chuckling bitterly. “But we’ll get to that in a minute. Before we go to my reasoning, I’ll recount a little of the background, if you don’t mind. It will make the whole thing a little more comprehensible. Or at least it should.”
“All right,” said Harry slowly, again silently wondering if this really was such a good idea.
“The first year after the war was hard on all of us, as I’m sure you remember – Fred, Tonks and Remus were dead and we were all hurting. Our family was in shambles because we were all coping in a different way. And then I had to go to Hogwarts for the final year, away from the only good thing there was at the time. I’m talking about you, of course,” Ginny started her recounting in casual, almost cheerful tones, despite her earlier nervousness. Harry had almost seen her flipping the switch into this new attitude, and he was sure that whatever it was, she was acting.
“I was always counting days to the next Hogsmeade weekend – I think we both were,” she said, smiling fondly at him, “and after I’d met you there, I always acted like the giddy, lovesick teenager I was. Christmas and Easter were heavenly because you were at the Burrow and I could spend whole days with you – at the time, I couldn’t even think of anything better.”
Harry could vividly remember he had felt a lot like Ginny had just described.
“And then came the summer. I can honestly say it was one of the best I can remember. Everything was so new and exciting and for some things that happened, I’d waited for so long... After I moved out the Burrow, I practically lived with you and Ron, and I just loved being able to see you whenever I wanted to,” continued Ginny with a far-away look in her eyes. “When I started with the Harpies, I had everything a girl could ever wish for – and certainly more than I had ever really dared to imagine. I had the sweetest boyfriend in the world who I loved and who loved me so, I had the job I had dreamed of since I was five years old, and such a handsome income I could afford anything I wanted. And for a Weasley, that’s a very big plus.
“But they didn’t pay me for just flying around the pitch – they really made me work, too. That year I was physically more tired than ever before, and I loved you more than ever before, because you didn’t mind me being tired and grumpy and lazy. Every day after practice I dragged myself here, and you always fed me and took care of me when I really couldn’t lift a finger. I hardly ever even visited my flat, I just butted in here. I complained that on my days off the sunshine woke me up too early, and by the next morning you had those curtains in your bedroom.
“I felt so bad for using you, but I really needed you. And honestly, I still can’t believe how you put up with me. You had your own job, which was just as demanding as mine, maybe even more so, and whenever you had free time you spent it with me. You were so sweet and thoughtful and gentle that if I hadn’t already loved you, I would have fallen in love with you by the end of the second week. As it was, I had already fallen, but it deepened and got more serious.”
With each word she spoke, Ginny looked and sounded more ashamed of herself, and soon there was a note of self-loathing in her tones. It contradicted strongly with the loving tones she used when she described him and their relationship, and Harry realised that she regretted something – he couldn’t quite tell what it was, but for some reason, he got the feeling it was nothing in the story, but something entirely different.
“Eventually, I got used to the exhausting practice sessions, and our time together got to be more than you waiting on me – and I loved every second I spent with you. When Ron and Hermione got married, all I could think of was what our wedding was going to be like. Then one morning I woke up before you did, as usual, and I watched you sleep. You had wrapped your arm around me like every other night and you looked younger and so innocent,” she said, and Harry decided it was a good time to ask about what was on his mind.
“It sounds like we’ve got to the actual reason now,” he interrupted, “and if you’re going to tell me you just woke up one morning and decided it was a good time to end things, I think I’m really going to scream.”
“Sadly, that wasn’t what I was going to tell you,” retorted Ginny dryly. “Where was I? The morning. Right. Well, I just lay there, watching you sleep, and I was hit by how incredibly much I loved you then. And I realised that every good memory I had after the war involved you. Like I said earlier, since Fred died, you were my rock. You stood by me and brightened my day, took care of me when I needed it and knew me better than I knew myself. You symbolised everything good in life – hell, I could go as far as say you were everything that’s good in life. Nothing felt as enjoyable when you weren’t there and achievements meant nothing if you weren’t there to celebrate with me.
“And then – then I started thinking about what I’d do if you weren’t there. What if something happened to you? The chances of someone attacking you are quite big – either at work, or then a mad fan who you’d never see coming. You could be killed so easily. Or what if one day you just told me that you didn’t love me anymore and were going to run off and marry some Veela cousin of Fleur’s?” Ginny’s voice was shaking violently. “I don’t know where the thought came, but after I got it into my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I was constantly afraid for you when you were at work, and when you got home, I worried that you’d tell me we need to talk and then announce that we were through. I just – I couldn’t live like that. You can call me a cowardly idiot for doing it, but I left you before my fears could come true.”
She was now trembling all over, her arms were crossed and tears were dripping down her chin. Harry was quite sure he had never seen her so vulnerable before. Some people might have thought she seemed pathetic, but to Harry she looked beautiful. She always did.
Harry had never even in his wildest dreams imagined that this could have been Ginny’s reason. When Harry had known her, she had been a confident, brave woman, not someone who fled at the first sign of trouble, and definitely not someone who ran at just the thought of difficulties. If he hadn’t heard it from Ginny, he never would have believed it. He almost didn’t believe it even now. But as surprised as he was, it was nothing compared to how insulted he felt at her lack of trust in him.
Ginny had had her issues with going out with the Chosen One, even though she had very rarely expressed them. It had felt like everywhere they went always had a nutter who was more than willing to come and flirt with him, give him her address and make outrageous suggestions that blatantly crossed the line of good taste. Ginny had tried to act blasé and joke about it, but she hadn’t liked it one bit, even if Harry had never paid those girls any attention and found it a nuisance.
And then there were the articles. When there was no new gossip, Harry Potter was always a good subject to write about, and so countless stories about him and Ginny had been published. Many of them criticised Ginny for her looks and profession, called her completely unsuitable for Harry, because of course the hero of the wizarding world deserved someone not only beautiful but also intelligent. Someone who only played a sport for a living was clearly inappropriate. Thankfully the articles had stopped after a while, because Ginny had a lot of fans herself, but the damage had been done.
Harry had always assured her that she was the only one for him and none of those people knew what they were talking about, but clearly all that had fallen on deaf ears. Cynically, he thought that perhaps the fact he hadn’t gone out with anyone in the year and a half since she left him had assured Ginny that he had meant it.
“I wished I could undo it the minute I arrived at my flat. I think I’ve already mentioned Ron, Hermione and George all told me how miserable you were, and I felt even worse because I had known I’d hurt myself, but I hadn’t really thought you’d be hurt so bad. Eventually they stopped talking about you, and I just assumed you were back to normal.” Harry knew the story Ginny was telling was about to end, and she would ask him to comment. He still had no idea what to say. “I saw for myself that you weren’t when I came here last Friday, and I wish you were. You’re so tense all the time, you’re not really comfortable around anyone anymore, and I hate that I did that to you.”
That was it. She stopped talking and stared at him, obviously waiting for him to tell she should pack her things and go to Ron. A part of him felt like that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. A considerably bigger part, however, completely disagreed.
“Well, that was informative. It’s only too bad you didn’t tell me all that a year and a half ago,” he said, having tremendous trouble with trying to voice what he was thinking. “I haven’t been counting or anything, but it’s been 612 days. And you know what I did most of those 612 days? I tried to figure out what I did wrong. I never got even close to getting it right. I always thought I did something to mess up the best thing that had ever happened to me, but no, it got ruined because you didn’t trust me.”
Ginny had gotten even paler, and she was biting her lower lip so tightly Harry was sure she was going to draw blood any second. That familiar, endearing little gesture really tested his self-control, and provoked him into confessing something he would later regret.
“And you know what the best part is?” he asked her with a bitter chuckle. “It’s the reason I agreed to act as your bodyguard and offered you a place here. I still love you, and I really can’t help it.”
When he leaned over to kiss her, she tasted metallic – like blood – because she had bitten her lip so hard, but it wasn’t enough to mask that otherwise everything was still the same, only so much more mesmerising. It felt exactly the same as it had 612 days ago, and for a few moments it was like that time without her had never existed. Only after his bedroom door had clicked shut behind them did Harry realise that she felt thinner and stronger now, and remembered they weren’t the same people anymore. Very briefly, he wondered what the hell they were doing, but then Ginny’s mouth was on his again and all conscious thought flew out the window.
The sound of someone clearing his throat woke Harry up very suddenly. He tried to get up to see who was at the door, but his efforts were thwarted by a distinctly feminine arm. Harry’s eyes flew open as he realised two things: one, it was Ginny who was with him in his bed, and two, it was Ron, Ginny’s quite protective older brother who was less than ten feet away from them. Ron had probably put two and two together, and Harry felt rather lucky he still had all limbs attached.
“George’s in the kitchen. Don’t wake Ginny up,” hissed Ron when he noticed Harry had awoken and strode away, most likely to join his brother. Quietly, Harry got up and quickly dressed, a little surprised he didn’t feel ashamed in the least. Glancing back to the sleeping redhead on his bed warmed his heart a little, and he smiled to himself as he realised how much he had sounded like a corny poet during the past year. He was doing it even in his thoughts now.
“Good morning, Casanova! Your shirt’s inside out,” George greeted him cheerfully, pulling up a chair for him. Harry looked down and felt his face heat up as he realised that he should have taken the time to dress properly. He refused to comment on it, though, just looked to the two Weasleys again. The difference between the brothers was almost comical; George was so excited he could barely sit still, and Ron looked like Harry had just killed his best friend.
“Morning, George,” replied Harry, sitting down warily. He was relieved to see Ron still didn’t have his wand out.
“So, you got busy last night,” said George. Harry wasn’t sure if it was a good thing that George had been elected to do the talking. He just nodded in response.
“Ah, he’s not one to kiss and tell, I see – that’s good, Ronniekins, for our sister’s reputation. She’s obviously learned something from us; always stick to the quiet ones!” exclaimed George with a grin. “Wouldn’t do for a rising Quidditch star to end up in the cover of one of those rags because she had a fling with a chatterbox.”
“Let’s just get to the point. We know how happy she makes you, and how happy you make her, so don’t hurt our little sister, and we’ll be happy for you. It’s really that simple: be a gentleman, and everyone’s happy,” said Ron impatiently. “And please make sure I won’t find you like that again.”
“We’ll be having this talk with Ginny, too. Of course, we won’t ask her to be a gentleman, but since we’re so attached to you, we wish she wouldn’t hurt you too bad,” added George, now seriously. “Honestly, we love seeing you two together. Maybe just not exactly like that.”
“This is a little too familiar for my liking.” Harry didn’t even need to open his eyes to know what the surroundings would be; Ron would be standing at the door staring at him, Ginny would be with him in his bed, and his and Ginny’s clothes would be thrown haphazardly across the room. Harry knew exactly what Ron was talking about; the scene was very familiar – maybe minus Ron. He realised that he and Ginny were in the same position they had always slept in; he had his arm wrapped around her waist, and her arm went across his chest.
“What time is it?” asked Harry hoarsely. He still didn’t open his eyes, because he really didn’t want the reality to sink in. He was sure he had completely lost his marbles. How could he have done it?
“It’s half past eight PM. We agreed I’d come here and we’d talk about tomorrow, remember? I think we’re going to talk about something else, though,” retorted Ron. Harry couldn’t determine by the tones what mood Ron was in, but he figured he should mentally prepare himself for another trip to St Mungo’s.
“How did you get in?” Harry couldn’t quite remember if Ron did have a way of getting into the flat even with the new wards. He supposed that Ron did.
“You and Bill showed me how to get in from the door. There’s that identifying enchantment on it,” came the response.
“Right. Go entertain yourself somewhere else while I get dressed,” said Harry, reaching for his glasses that were on the nightstand. He finally opened his eyes to see Ron walking away, to the living room, probably, and Ginny staring at the roof, looking resigned to the situation.
“Will it sound strange if I say I missed this?” she asked, and Harry suddenly felt like laughing, because it was all so stupid.
“Maybe a little,” he replied, “considering Ron catching us was awkward enough the first time around.”
“Prat,” retorted Ginny with a laugh, sitting up so spotting her clothes would be easier. Harry sat up, too, cringing noticeably as his abdomen was suddenly so painful it felt someone had stabbed him. Ginny gave him a worried glance, but didn’t comment on it.
“Did you mean what you said?” she asked timidly after a while of silence, and Harry’s odd urge to laugh vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
“Yeah. I’ve always meant it. Why do you still wear the necklace?” Lying now would hardly make things any better, so he might as well tell her what he really felt. Although at the moment he would have described his state more as ‘shocked and mortified’ than ‘madly in love’, he had meant it earlier.
“I promised you I’d never take it off for as long as I love you, like you asked me to, and I haven’t stopped yet,” said Ginny quietly. Harry didn’t know if he was more scared or elated by that revelation.
“That’s... That’s good to know,” he choked out. “I need to go and get my ass kicked by your brother. I have to talk about this with him, because he needs to know everything that might have anything to do with the case.”
“How is this related to your job?” asked Ginny, sounding a little hurt.
“I just got physically involved with the person I’m supposed to be protecting, and I could get reassigned for it. Other than that, it isn’t,” replied Harry. “Let’s just get dressed and I’ll go talk to Ron. Persuade him not to murder me or something like that.”
“I think he’s more likely to seriously hurt me,” said Ginny with a snort. “Look what I did to you before. If he thinks someone needs protecting, it’ll be you.”
“Nah,” said Harry, shaking his head as he looked for his underwear, “when it comes to you, I’ll always be the threat. You saw it when we first talked about me helping you. My sister this and my sister that, and he’s always thought that way. I swear, when he read that story in the Prophet – and that was a nice touch, by the way, didn’t have to explain it to anyone – he was ready to punch me for hurting his sister.”
It was incredibly odd, in Harry’s opinion, that he and Ginny had just made a huge mistake that could very well land him in all kinds of trouble and would most likely make things between them even more awkward than they had been before, and now they were having a casual conversation. They were talking about Ron, of all people, while they tried to find their clothes. If that wasn’t just plain odd, Harry didn’t know what was.
“Really? Funny. He seemed ready to murder me when he dropped by at my flat that evening. And he didn’t talk to me for two weeks after that, aside from the occasional Howler. Of course, I can’t really blame him because I deserved all that and more.” Harry tried not to stare as Ginny pulled on a shirt. One of his shirts, actually. “In case I didn’t say it before, I really am sorry.”
She was nervous again, and biting her lip, and Harry really wished she would stop doing that because he just couldn’t concentrate at all when she did that.
“Yeah, I know,” said Harry slowly. “But we really need to talk about this later. Ron’s waiting for us.”
He was taking the coward’s way out, trying to buy himself more time to think before he had to talk with her about forgiving her. She didn’t comment on it, however, and Harry knew she knew he needed a little time to consider.
“Technically, I think he’s waiting for you,” she corrected, and he chuckled.
“You don’t really think I’m going to go in there alone, do you?” he asked, and she smiled slightly.
“Let’s go then, my fearless bodyguard,” she said teasingly, and Harry cringed. He really wished she wouldn’t remind him of what he was supposed to be.
“Yeah, that’s the problem, isn’t it? I’m supposed to be your bodyguard only,” he said with a sigh. “I’m sure Ron will explain it all gladly.”
“Do I want to know what’s taking so long?” called Ron from the living room, and Harry shook his head in amusement.
“Speak of the devil...” he muttered, then raised his voice to reply to Ron: “Hold your hippogriffs, we’ll be there in a minute!”
He checked he had all his clothes on the right way, and then looked to Ginny. “Ready?” he asked, and she nodded, rolling her eyes but smiling all the same.
When they got to the living room, Ron’s first reaction was a grimace at the sight of Ginny and Harry.
“Couldn’t you have bothered to put on your own clothes?” Now that Ron mentioned it, Ginny wearing his clothes did feel a little inappropriate, but she had used his clothes frequently when she had lived with him, so it hadn’t really seemed the least bit weird to Harry before.
“Are you going to tell Robards?” asked Harry shortly, ignoring the question. It didn’t really matter if Ron didn’t like what his sister was wearing – that was the least of his problems at the moment.
“Are you insane?” exclaimed Ron indignantly, and Harry instantly felt better. “I’ve been waiting for you two to do something about this disagreement of yours for almost two years, now that you’re doing something together I’m not going to be the one to ruin it!”
“Will one of you tell me just why you’re so afraid of Robards?” piped in Ginny. “Harry won’t get in trouble because of me, right?”
“Well, probably not, since Robards knew from the beginning about your history. It’s not like this was a first time for you. Besides, he’s Harry Potter, so he could get away with anything,” said Ron with a shrug. “But it is serious, because we’re not supposed to get too close, and we both already were. Robards hasn’t been too happy about it at any point. If this changes things between you two – which I both hope for and wish it wouldn’t happen – we might have to think again about this arrangement.”
“Which means?” asked Ginny, her voice trembling slightly. “They can’t take Harry off this case altogether, can they?”
“They could do that and worse, but since we’re not telling anyone nothing will happen to him,” said Ron. He turned to Harry solemnly. “I’m trusting you with my sister now, mate. Please don’t make me regret covering for you.”
“Have I ever?” replied Harry seriously, and Ron shook his head, grinning, but quickly sobered up.
“Okay. Please pay attention to the next part, because I don’t really know how to tell you this and I’m only going to try once. I’ve never even pretended to understand how you two work. You get together by kissing in the common room, you break up, you give each other snogging sessions for birthday, you fight so fiercely even I’m afraid of you and then make up five minutes later, you break up and announce it in the Prophet before telling us, and when you’re finally talking again, you shag each other instead of actually speaking. But – I can’t believe I’m saying this – I heartily encourage you to continue whatever works so you can settle this thing,” said Ron sincerely. “If not for yourself, then please do it for the rest of us, because we’re going insane just watching aside.”
“Thank you, I think,” said Harry, somewhat awkward but touched all the same. “We did talk, too, you know.”
“Really? Can you tell me now what it was that broke you up?” asked Ron curiously, and Ginny groaned. “What? You told Harry already, right? I had to practically drag him out of bed every morning after you left, feed him and look for him all over London when he strayed to whichever pub was closest – don’t I deserve to know what caused that?”
“I was an insecure idiot, all right?” Ginny was all but shouting; it looked like laying on the guilt had been a little too much for her. “I just started thinking one day that what if I lost him – if he died or got killed – and I realised I wouldn’t be able to take it, and then I ran. Because I was a coward. And obviously I still am, because it took me almost two years to even talk to him again!”
Ron sat in a shocked silence, stock-still, staring at his sister. Harry was already getting worried about the two of them; first of all, what Ginny was saying – what she had been saying the whole afternoon – didn’t fit her at all. She had never been one to run when she was a little insecure. Second, Ron was suddenly acting very odd, too.
“Go and talk to George,” he finally said, very abruptly, to Ginny. “Go and talk and get your old attitude back. Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve, remember? The sixteen-year-old Ginny would kick your ass in a second if she could see what you’ve turned into.”
He stood up and glanced at Harry. “At the Burrow at half past nine in the morning. I’ll see you then.”
And with that, he left, leaving Ginny on the verge of tears – again – and Harry completely mystified. After the week Harry had had, it was a feeling he knew well.
It was a sunny afternoon, and the field outside the Burrow they had always played Quidditch in was now occupied by four redheads lying on the ground.
“You know, watching clouds might be a little more interesting if there actually were some,” said George. The other three laughed.
“Yeah, it’s hard to determine the shape of non-existent clouds,” agreed Fred. “And you know it too, Ginny. We can all tell you had something else in mind, so enlighten us – why did you drag us out here?”
“I just wanted to spend time with my favourite brothers,” said Ginny. “You know, to enjoy life. Even if only for an afternoon. It’s hard to do that in the house, with all the people coming in with all the disturbing news.”
“We enjoy life even when we’re not lying on the grass staring to the sky like idiots,” retorted Ron, and Ginny snorted.
“Oh, really? You do?” she asked sarcastically. “’Cause, you know, the last time I paid attention, all you did was worry about what’s going to happen next.”
“Well, the last time I checked, so did you,” shot back Ron, who seemed a little insulted. His comment only made her smile.
“And that’s why we’re here,” she said, “to not worry for a while. And because I’ve worried enough about what’s going to happen to you when you leave, and what might happen to these two dolts, and that we haven’t spent any time together like we used to when we were kids.”
“It’s kind of hard not to worry, Gin-Gin.” Fred actually sounded tired, and that didn’t ease Ginny’s anxiousness in the least. “Since George and I actually leave the Burrow every now and then, unlike you two, we don’t only hear stuff, we see it, too. Now that Dumbledore’s gone, people are getting even more freaked out than they were before, and it’s not a pretty sight. I liked Diagon Alley much better the way it was a few years back.”
“We decided we’re not going to let You-Know-Who affect us as much as he’s affected almost everyone else,” piped up George. “We were actually talking about it just last night. We’ll fight him tooth and nail, and eventually, we’ll win. And if we take this all as an adventure, rather than just think of it as the nightmare it really is, it might be a little easier to bear.”
“You really think we’re going to win?” asked Ginny quietly. “Because I feel like we’ve only lost so far.”
“Yeah, what happened to Dumbledore was a loss. And a big one, at that. But it hasn’t really been about him in sixteen years, has it?” said Ron. “Harry will beat him. He always has up till now, and he’s not going to let us down at this point. We’ll be there to help him along the way, too.”
“I think you mean you will be there to help him. And Hermione,” retorted Ginny bitterly. “But not the rest of us. You’re going to leave us all behind.”
“Ginny, even though you’re not going with them doesn’t mean you can’t help,” said Fred. “Haven’t we trained you better?”
“I know anything is supposed to be possible, but I just don’t see how I could help when I’m locked up in Hogwarts,” she replied. “Somehow I can’t picture Harry coming in for a consultation when they hit a wall with their little operation.”
“Then don’t wait for him to let you help them. Start up the DA again, prank all the pureblood bigots out of there and keep up the morale by showing others that the Death Eaters aren’t going to stop you,” listed George. “We’ll be happy to supply you some tools for said pranking.”
“And that’s going to defeat Voldemort?” asked Ginny.
“Well, maybe not, but it’ll make his and his supporters’ lives harder, and that’s a win already,” said Fred. “And you never know, it just might. Just always keep in mind that anything’s possible if you’ve got the nerve. And we all know you’ve got it, so go on and make us proud.”
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