Chapter 18 : Unleashed
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The ritual room was chaotic as Aurors and Order members worked and talked, but Bill didn’t notice as he sat on the edge of the bed. Next to him, Ginny was silent and still, her body stunned by Remus several minutes before.
Pointing his wand at her chest, Bill cast a silent counter charm. Almost immediately she began to stir. Her breath escaped with a slight moan as her eyelids began to flutter.
Leaning over her, Bill gently pushed her hair away from her face.
“Ginny,” he called.
Her eyes flicked open, the confusion evident as her eyes struggled to focus on his face.
“Hey, princess,” he said tenderly as she murmured his name. “I need you to help me. I need to know where Malfoy is.”
“Malfoy?” she repeated, her voice soft and dazed.
“Where did he go?”
Blinking, her eyes roamed the ceiling for a moment before her hand moved to her face.
“Gone,” she murmured. her brow furrowing, “Harry...he killed him. It was a…a cloud…it was awful…”
“Okay,” Bill replied softly. “Everything’s going to be alright now, just try to relax,” he told her before glancing over his shoulder at Remus.
When their eyes connected, Remus nodded, letting him know he’d heard the news before turning away to tell the others.
“Harry,” Ginny called suddenly, bringing Bill’s attention back to her as she struggled to sit up. “Harry!”
“Ginny, no,” he said, catching her arms and forcing her back down.
“Let me go!” she cried, twisting against his hold as she looked around. “Where is he? What have you done with him?”
“Remus,” Bill called for his help as the rest of the room paused and looked over, startled by her outburst.
“No!” she said desperately. “You can’t do this…not again…”
“I’m sorry, Gi…”
“No you’re not,” she spat vehemently as tears of anger filled her eyes. “I hate you…I HATE you!”
Her screams were immediately silenced by the stunner, but they echoed in Bill’s head as he caught her. Laying her back on the bed, he rubbed his temple for a moment before pulling his wand. Removing the stunner he quickly replaced it with an enchanted sleep charm.
“You should get her to Hogwarts,” Remus said. “We’ll let you know when we’re ready.”
Nodding, Bill stood and lifted Ginny into his arms. Carrying her to the floo, he tried to focus on all of the reasons they were doing this, but her words wouldn’t go away. They seemed to be stuck on repeat, sounding over and over in his head as he fought against his guilt for hurting her.
Remus threw a handful of floo powder into the grate, stroking Ginny’s hair briefly while the flames flared a brilliant green.
Stepping into the flames, Bill tightened his hold on Ginny.
“Hogwarts,” he said firmly.
Instantly he was propelled through the network, but he barely noticed the passing gates. When he arrived at Dumbledore’s office he stepped out of the flames and hoisted Ginny higher against his chest.
The previous headmasters were alert in their frames, launching into questions the moment he appeared. Their voices were quickly muffled, though, when they recognized Ginny hanging limply in his arms.
“Not again,” they seemed to whisper to each other as Bill headed for the door.
His footsteps echoed ahead of him as he made his way to the hospital wing. The corridors were empty and dim, the students having retired to their common rooms several hours before.
Light was shining from beneath the Hospital Wing doors when he turned the final corner. As he neared, the door swung open, revealing Nurse Pomfrey in her navy robe and nightcap. Despite her casual appearance, her face was determined as she gestured him inside.
“Is she conscious?” she asked, following him to a bed by the window.
“No,” Bill replied, cupping her neck as he lowered Ginny onto the bed and laid her head on the pillow. “We’re keeping her asleep for now. Considering everything she’s been through, I thought it was best,” he added with a last touch of his fingers to her cheek before stepping back.
“Oh, dear,” Poppy murmured, taking his place at Ginny’s side, the grief evident in her tone as she assumed the worst. “Malfoy? Did he…”
“No,” Bill stated quickly, shaking his head. “The healers checked her over on site and it seems Harry arrived in time.”
“Thank Merlin,” Poppy sighed as she gently turned Ginny’s head to the right and then to the left, examining her bruises. When she pushed Ginny’s hair away, her mouth tightened into a grim line at the sight of the bloody symbol on her chest. “And the others?”
“Ron and Hermione are at St. Mungo’s,” Bill explained. “Harry’s…he’s with Dumbledore.”
“Well, I can make her comfortable here,” Poppy said.
“Thanks,” Bill replied. “I still want to keep her asleep if we can. She’s exhausted and it will just be easier for her to wake up when it’s all over.”
“Yes, poor thing,” Poppy agreed softy.
In London, the hospital room was silent, the sounds of the Spell Damage Ward of St. Mungo’s hushed behind the closed door. The small cluster of bubbles hovering in the center of the ceiling was dimmed, casting a soft yellow glow over the room. A window looked out onto the street below, where a steady stream of cars drove past.
Against the wall, Arthur Weasley sat in a rickety chair next to his wife, their hands clasped tightly together.
Their eyes were trained on the slow, but steady rise and fall of Ron’s chest as he lay in his hospital bed. He was still unconscious, his skin pale against the crisp white sheets.
The Healers had left only a few moments before, having done what they could to stabilize him. Now it was simply a matter of waiting. They wouldn’t know the extent of the damage to Ron’s power until he awoke.
In a bed next to him, Hermione was also asleep. Her breathing was still sharper than Ron’s, but thankfully most of the color had begun to return to her cheeks. They had an extra monitor hovering over her bed, beeping along with the elevated heartbeat of the baby.
Closing his eyes, Arthur took a steadying breath as his mind returned to when he’d found them, only half an hour earlier.
Dumbledore led the way down the shadowy hall. Arthur’s wand was drawn and his heart was pounding frantically with every step. Molly was behind him, her hand gripping his as they approached the ritual room.
They’d passed the twins already on the first floor, where they’d been binding Malfoy’s unconscious followers and sending them to holding rooms at the Ministry.
As they approached, the voices within were urgent, flowing from the room and down the hall in a garble of sound.
When they entered, Arthur paused in the doorway. He sucked in a quick breath as he took in the scene.
In front of him, Bill stood beside the bed, his arms crossed as he watched the Healer leaning over Ginny. She appeared to be unconscious, her face marred with bruises and a dark symbol scrawled on her chest. Arthur’s stomach rolled at the sight of her lying on the black sheets.
His gaze then skimmed over the rest of the room. He barely noticed the remains of the ritual as his eyes seemed to instinctively find Ron lying in the midst of the debris. Hermione was next to him, each of them deathly pale as the Healers worked frantically over them.
Taking a staggered step forward, Arthur’s body couldn’t seem to decide which way to go as he looked back and forth between his son and daughter.
Molly made the decision for him. Her view of the room was partially blocked by his body, forcing her gaze to the bed. With a cry of dismay, she pushed past him and ran straight to Ginny.
Looking over at his wife, Arthur watched her profile as she continued to stare at Ron’s hospital bed. Tightening his grip on her hand, he leaned in and pressed a kiss against her temple.
“Everything’s going to be ok,” he promised.
Molly nodded jerkily, biting her lip when it began to tremble. Abruptly, she stood and crossed to Ron’s bed.
Rising from his chair, Arthur followed slowly before coming to a stop next to her.
Having taken hold of Ron’s arm, Molly was tracing one of the scars that ran down his skin with her finger. The long white strip stood out against the older, faded remnants of the attack in the Department of Mysteries years ago.
Arthur could see her hand trembling. Laying his hand on her shoulders, he moved behind her, allowing her to rest back against him.
“What if he’s a Squib, Arthur?”
“They said Harry gave him his power back,” he reminded her.
“But they don’t know,” she replied, her voice rising. “We don’t know if it worked…we don’t know what he did…what if he made it worse?”
“Shh,” Arthur hushed her, glancing behind him to make sure Hermione was still asleep. “We’ll deal with it, Molly. He can deal with it. He’s alive and that’s what matters the most. We just have to wait.”
“I know, I just…I never worried about Ron,” Molly admitted softly. “I was so focused on Ginny. Draco Malfoy wanted Ginny…not Ron.”
“We didn’t know,” Arthur murmured. “And Ginny’s with Bill now,” he added, feeling the need to reassure her. “They’re both safe. He won’t let anything happen.”
“Are we doing the right thing?” she asked, looking back at him with stricken eyes.
“We’re doing the only thing we can,” he answered, squeezing her shoulders. “I don’t see how anything else could work. You heard what they said. Even Remus agreed…”
“Yes,” she nodded, looking back down at Ron. “I remember…”
“If we’re going to do this, we have to move quickly,” Dumbledore instructed. “Everything is ready if we go now.”
“But are we sure this is what needs to happen?” Remus pressed.
“Do you think Harry could hold it together if we woke him?” Dumbledore asked, turning his probing gaze on him. “Would you trust him, Remus?”
Looking down at Harry, Remus rubbed his face in frustration as he considered his answer.
“No,” he answered finally, his face showing the pain it caused to admit it. His voice was suddenly weary and he rubbed the back of his neck as he spoke. “He was trying, but he was still losing it.”
“And we know they aren’t going to stay away from each other,” Bill spoke up.
“Do we really know that?” Arthur offered. “Ginny’s older. She already has her memories back. She might understand…”
“She won’t understand, Dad,” Bill said, shaking his head. “You weren’t here. She wouldn’t stay away from him, even when he was faltering badly. We wouldn’t have stunned her if there was another way. She’s just as irrational now as she was back then, if not more so.”
“But she did end up helping him calm down,” Remus pointed out.
“Yes, but for how long?” Bill asked. “The magic is splintering…even you admit that. It’s only a matter of time before Harry breaks through the spell on his mind.”
“He hasn’t even been consciously trying to break it and look how far he got,” Kingsley pointed out. “Now that he knows what it is, he can focus on it.”
“He also knows he can break a Fidelius,” Dumbledore added grimly. “If he tries, it will fall within minutes.”
“And if that happens…” Arthur’s voice faded as he looked over to where Ginny lay on the bed.
“I don’t understand,” Charlie spoke up, his voice tight with frustration as he shifted restlessly. “Why are we rethinking? This is what we were going to do before they ran. This is the only option that makes any sense. I say we go.”
“He’s right,” Kingsley spoke up. “We have to replace the spell…wipe all of this away and then keep them apart for good.”
“I agree,” Dumbledore nodded resignedly. “The essential plan is the same. Bill will take Ginny to Hogwarts in case something goes wrong. Harry will be secured in the cavern. We have to take the current spell off of him, before recasting.”
“Do you think they’ve started?” Molly whispered eventually, her thoughts moving to consider what was happening in the cave. “With Harry?”
For a moment, Arthur remained silent before he shook his head.
“I doubt it,” he replied quietly. “They’ll let us know when they’re about to recast."
Severus Snape stood in the mouth of a large cavern, facing out toward the sea. Accessible only by boat, the remote cave had been found and secured years ago, specifically for Harry. Off the coast of Africa, he’d been kept there until he’d been ready to rejoin the Wizarding World.
The half moon was high in the sky, shining a pale blue light down onto the water as wave after wave crashed into the rocks below. Every so often the wind coming off the coast would blow the spray up into the air. Swirling around him, it slowly wetted his hair and face.
Snape had been to the cave only once before. Five years ago he’d come to serve as the Secret Keeper and hadn’t returned since. Had it not been for his loyalty to Dumbledore, he wouldn’t have agreed to help at all.
From the beginning, he’d maintained that they needed to eliminate Harry. When all of their attempts to truly control his power had failed…ending his life had seemed like the only logical choice.
Severus didn’t see it as cruel, but as reality. He feared Harry would never be fully healed. He could never be completely safe. Snape hadn’t trusted the spell they’d created – a complicated merger of a Fidelius and a Memory Charm.
And I was right, he thought bitterly. They should’ve listened instead of wasting our time grasping at miracles.
While Dumbledore, Hermione and Bill had poured over books and stood around the cauldron, Snape had argued reasons it might not work, but to no avail. In the end, they’d been determined to let Harry live – desperate to keep them both alive, even if it meant taking away something precious.
The Fidelius had hidden the truth, plucking Ginny’s existence and the events following the final battle from their minds and tucking them safely behind the strongest magical barrier they could create.
For most people, including classmates and teachers, Ginny’s presence at Hogwarts simply faded away, lost without notice from their jumble of school experiences.
For everyone closer, the Memory charm worked concurrently with the Fidelius, recreating and altering memories to make the new reality work. The process was complicated and intricate, taking hours as the spell worked its way through their memories.
Harry had needed to lose all of his memories, while Ginny’s had been altered where possible – allowing her to keep certain events. The creation of Julien had been Hermione’s idea. There was no risk in allowing Ginny to keep some of her life…as long as the faces were changed and the outcomes smudged.
Although the entire process had taken place years ago, Severus could still remember the moment the spell was completed…
The room fell silent as Dumbledore and Remus crumpled to the ground, unable to stay conscious as the spell began to work its way through their memories.
Closing his eyes, Snape strained to hear the sounds of the battle that had been occurring deeper in the cave only moments before. Met with only silence, he let go of the nervous breath he’d been holding.
While they had been performing the spell, Harry had been trying to get to Ginny where they’d hidden her inside of the cave. Now, he would be one of the wizards temporarily incapacitated as his memories were wiped.
Knowing they only had a few hours at most to secure him, Snape rounded the cauldron and knelt down next to Dumbledore.
It took several minutes, but finally Dumbledore began to shift on the ground. When his eyes blinked open, he stared up at Severus in confusion.
“Severus? What happened?”
“Ginny Weasley…went to Hogwarts,” he said evenly. “Harry is trying to kill her.”
His brow furrowed, Dumbledore remained silent for so long Severus almost repeated himself. Then, even as he began to open his mouth, the headmaster’s expression cleared and he sat up.
“We have to get Harry,” Dumbledore said. “Wake the others. Quickly.”
Footsteps fell behind Snape, alerting him to someone’s hurried approach.
Turning away from the water, he peered into the depths of the cave, blinking as his eyes adjusted. As the steps neared, Dumbledore gradually appeared, his form seeming to coalesce out of the darkness.
The torch flickered across his face, illuminating his grim expression as he walked.
“Severus?” he called as he approached. “Oh, good, you’re here. Remus is securing Harry now. It shouldn’t be long before we’re ready.”
The Hospital Ward at Hogwarts was silent except for the methodic tick tock…tick tock…tick tock of the large clock hanging high on the wall. One of the windows was open, letting in a slight breeze that rustled the curtains.
All of the beds were empty except for one. Ginny slept deeply, her hair spread around her face. The bruises on her skin were slowly fading away as the healing cream worked its magic. Her ruined gown had been replaced by a pair of thick flannel pajamas, each piece displaying an embroidered Gryffindor logo.
Her right hand was held by Bill as he sat silently at her side. His large body was curled over in the small metal chair as he rested he forehead against her hand.
Eventually, the sound of approaching footsteps drifted in from the hall. Slowly, the sound grew louder and more distinct before the large door opened with a creak. Bill didn’t turn to look, didn’t move at all as the person walked up behind him.
When a small hand settled lightly onto his shoulder, he took a breath, letting it out slowly before he spoke.
“I don’t know if I can do this again,” he whispered.
Sinking down into the chair beside him, Fleur ran her hand around the back of his neck.
“What else can you do?” she asked softly.
“Nothing,” he breathed, shaking his head slightly. “I know this is the only plan, but…she hates us,” he said, running his hand up and down Ginny’s forearm. “We erased her life and we’re about to do it again. God, even I hate us.”
“She’s not going to remember,” Fleur pointed out gently. “When eet’s over, she’ll just be Ginny…who adores you as much as you adore ‘er. And you know you could never just sit by and let ‘er get killed. Zat would ‘urt much more zan zis.”
With a sigh, Bill raised his head to stare at his sister’s face. The site of her bruises brought back all of his memories from five years ago, of seeing her unconscious in this ward too many times.
“Even ‘Arry wanted zis,” Fleur reminded him quietly. “Yes?”
“Yeah,” Bill nodded, shutting his eyes as his memory washed over him.
He flew backwards, landing hard on the ground. In an instant his wand was out of his hand and Harry was leaning over him.
“She’s mine,” Harry growled. “Do you think some stupid spell will keep me from her?”
Grabbing Bill’s chest, Harry sent an electric pulse through his body. He arched violently as his muscles trembled from the force of the curse.
“I know what you’re trying to do,” Harry told him, watching the blood vessels in Bill’s eyes burst.
“You won’t…hurt her again,” Bill gasped.
“You’re right, I won’t,” Harry snarled, finally removing his hands. His mouth twisted into a grin as Bill collapsed to the ground. “I’ll destroy her…right after I kill you.”
Clenching his jaw, Bill curled his hand into a fist and punched Harry in the face as hard as he could.
Harry’s head snapped to the side before a surge of energy whipped around them. It swirled up Harry’s body as he arched back with a cry.
Falling forward, he caught himself with his hands as the green in his eyes swirled back to replace the black. Gasping as his eyes focused on Bill, Harry scrambled away.
“Harry!” Bill exclaimed, rising up on his knees. “You have to focus. Don’t let it take over.”
“I can’t,” Harry gasped as his body trembled. “It’s too…Oh God,” he choked out, his head jerking to the side. “Keep me away from her…”
“You have to s-stop m-me,” Harry begged reaching out and grabbing Bill’s shirt. “Do the spell or…or, kill me…please, kill me…”
“…don’t let me near her. Promise,” Harry pleaded frantically his eyes full of tears. “Whatever it takes, you protect her, Bill. Promise.”
“I promise. Whatever it takes.”
Ripping himself away, Harry crawled backwards for a second before the darkness took him again.
Groaning at the memory, Bill released Ginny’s hand to wipe his palms over his face.
“What is it?” Fleur asked, rubbing a circle on his back.
“I just…” Shaking his head against his thoughts, Bill shut his eyes. “Nothing.”
“Tell me,” Fleur urged, touching his cheek.
“It’s just…I keep thinking about what Snape said,” Bill admitted. “Everything would be easier if Harry was gone.”
“I’m serious,” Bill insisted, his voice shaking as his words suddenly began spilling out. “He’s the reason we have to do this. He’s the reason she’s in danger and why she always will be. If he’s gone, she’s safe. I mean, even he suggested we just…”
“Bill, stop,” Fleur ordered. “’E was desperate and frightened back zen.”
“Yes, but if he knew…”
“’E doesn’t know,” Fleur interrupted. “Eef zey work quickly ‘e’s never going to know. The spell works. We may all ‘ate eet, but eet works. Eef we ‘adn’t made zee mistake of testing eets limits by putting zem togezer, eet would still be working. As long as zey stay apart zere’s no reason to end his life.”
“I know but…it’s not like it’s some disease with a cure,” Bill groaned. “We don’t know how to help him get better. He’ll always be dangerous. What if he ends up breaking it again?”
Fleur was silent for a moment before she slid her hands from his back.
“I don’t know,” she admitted, her voice low. “But, Bill, even eef you killed ‘im, you’d still ‘ave to wipe ‘er memories,” Fleur insisted. “You couldn’t let ‘er wake up and learn zat eet ‘ad been done. She’d never forgive you.”
Before he could respond the hospital wing doors opened again. They looked over, watching silently as Charlie strode through, his cloak rustling around him as he approached.
“The perimeter guard is set,” Charlie said, nodding his greeting.
“How many men?” Bill asked, watching as Charlie crouched down next to the bed.
“Not enough if something goes wrong,” he answered, brushing his fingers down the side of Ginny’s face. “How is she?”
“I’m keeping her asleep.”
“Afraid of her?” Charlie asked, his mouth quirking up.
“Yes,” Bill answered, managing a small smile.
For a moment, they both stared at their sister, small and fragile looking in the bed, before Charlie rose to his feet.
“I’ll be outside,” he said, turning back to Bill. “We can’t have too many eyes in case something goes wrong.”
“Right,” Bill agreed with a nod. “And you should go too,” he added, running his hand over Fleur’s stomach as he met her gaze. “Just in case.”
“But everything should be fine, yes?” Fleur asked worriedly. “I thought eet was going to work.”
“If everything goes the way it’s supposed to, it will be smooth and easy,” Bill assured her, hearing the concern jump into her tone.
“We just want to be prepared,” Charlie added.
“Speaking of which,” Bill said, looking back up at Charlie with a frown. “Remus said they’ll send a Patronus when the removal is done. You’ll need to be on the ground as soon as it comes. Tonks too.”
“Right,” Charlie agreed, grimacing as he pictured what would happen if the spell was recast while they were in the air.
Hermione awoke slowly. Her eyes fluttered open and shut over several minutes as she drifted in and out of consciousness.
When her eyes finally opened fully, she stared up at the ceiling as she tried to remember where she was. She felt cold, and her body ached, as though she had been holding her muscles tense for hours.
As she ran her hands over her stomach, everything rushed back. Malfoy…the ritual…Ron…
The events of the last several hours crashed over her and she gasped against the pain and sorrow that flooded her body.
“Ron,” she managed, suddenly choking on her grief.
Her arms wrapped tightly around her stomach as her body began to shake with tears.
Molly was leaning over her an instant later, her voice soothing as her hands stroked her face.
“It’s ok, luv…you’re ok…you’re safe now…”
“Ron,” Hermione whimpered, her tears overwhelming her. “Oh, God…”
“Shh…” Molly murmured, seeing the desperation in her daughter-in-law’s eyes when they met hers.
“He’s right there,” Molly said, turning Hermione’s face to the side. “See? He’s right over there…”
Hermione cried out at the sight of her husband in the bed next to her. She moved automatically rolling towards the edge of the bed. Strong hands grabbed her shoulders, forcing her down onto her back.
“No! Let me…I need…”
Hermione’s attempts to get out of the bed were impeded by Arthur. He held her down, with firm, but gentle hands while Molly leaned over her.
“Lie still, Hermione.”
“He’s alive?” she asked, her voice breaking.
“Yes,” Molly assured her. “He’s alive. He’s just sleeping.”
Finally sinking back against the cushions, Hermione’s struggles faded as she absorbed the information. Belatedly, Ginny’s voice sounded in her head, reminding her of what she’d forgotten.
“…Hermione look at me…he’s alive…Ron’s alive…”
“And…and the baby?” Hermione whispered.
“Ok so far,” Molly told her. “They just need you to stay calm, ok?”
Nodding, Hermione shut her eyes as she cried tears of relief.
Molly stayed next to her, stroking her hair until she gradually fell back to sleep.
Deep within the cave, Snape stood next to the table where Harry was bound. His face was set like stone as he stared down at him. Across the table, Kingsley, Remus and Dumbledore stood with their wands pointed at Harry’s chest.
“Severus, as soon as he’s awake, break the Fidelius,” Dumbledore instructed. “Then the stunners. We can’t let him get oriented. Ready?”
With a terse echo of ready, the men in the room tightened their grip on their wands.
“Somnus levitus,” Dumbledore said.
The spell washed over Harry’s body, glowing a faint orange before fading away.
On the table, Harry awoke slowly. For a moment he struggled to open his eyes, his mind fuzzy and his skull throbbing. When his eyes finally opened, the world was out of focus. Blinking, he groaned as he tried to remember where he was and what was happening.
Beside him, a familiar grating voice spoke into his ear.
“Ginny Weasley went to Hogwarts. We hid her to keep you from killing her.”
Harry struggled to understand the statement as it filtered into his still groggy mind. Opening his mouth, he tried to ask what the speaker meant when something inside of him snapped.
A cry escaped instead as white light exploded in his vision. In an instant the barrier of light fell away and a barrage of memories spilled over him, overwhelming and incomprehensible. His power came surging right behind it, breaking through and stealing his breath with its intensity.
He felt the stunners shooting toward him and instinctively he let go - for once thankful to allow his control to slip away in the face of the pain in his mind.
Snape’s eyes widened when a shield erupted suddenly from Harry’s skin, deflecting the spells back on their casters before anyone could blink.
Harry launched up from the table, his binds breaking with pathetic ease as the three stunned wizards fell to the ground.
Snape fumbled for his wand as he stumbled back. Harry didn’t pause, reaching him in two strides and grabbing his throat. Snape froze with a gasp, electric pain from Harry’s grip shooting up and down his spine.
Snape’s attempt to shield his mind was useless as Harry delved inside, his eyes black as ink.
“Where…Ah…Hogwarts,” Harry hissed before his eyes fluttered shut. “God, I can feel her from here.”
Glancing around the room then, he spied the cauldron bubbling in the corner.
Narrowing his eyes, he squeezed Snape’s neck mercilessly as the cauldron cracked open. While the potion spilled out uselessly onto the ground, a helpless gurgling sound spilled from the Potion Master’s mouth.
His head snapping back around, Harry leaned in close.
“I think you’ve caused enough trouble,” Harry snarled before he threw Snape backwards with a growl.
Stalking from the room, Harry didn’t bother to watch as Snape crashed into the far wall. His body struck the rocks with a sickening crunch before he crumpled to the ground.
The night sky was black, the stars blinking far above Charlie’s head as he circled the Hogwarts towers on his broom. Making wide passes, he scanned the horizon for any signs of movement. In the distance an owl hooted and below him, the wind rustled the leaves as it swept through the trees.
Everything was so calm and still it set Charlie on edge. His body was tense and alert, waiting for the worst. It seemed as if the entire world was holding its breath…waiting to see what would happen.
Swooping down behind the castle, he scanned the lake below. The half-moon’s reflection was bright on the still water. Dimly he could make out the large shadow of the squid as it moved beneath the surface.
Curving back toward the front of the school Charlie’s gaze swept across the edge of the Forbidden Forest. It seemed even its inhabitants were wary tonight, eerily still and silent within the trees.
For several minutes, Charlie continued to make deliberate circles over the main hall. His gaze scanned continually over the ground on the far side of the gate, watching for any sign of movement.
When a wizard popped suddenly into existence on the other side, Charlie jerked his broom to a stop. Allowing it to drift forward, he squinted down as the man drew back the hood of his cloak. Charlie’s stomach plummeted and his hand tightened on his handle before he pointed his wand up in the air.
A series of red sparks flew into the air before he swung his broom around and raced for the front doors.
Ginny couldn’t drag her eyes away from the emerald on her finger.
Harry’s hands were large and warm as they cradled hers, his finger tracing the edge of the ring he’d given her moments before. Even when his hands drew away, she continued to stare at the stone, shining against her skin.
His hands slid across her cheeks, cupping her face and sending tingles down her neck.
Ginny’s eyes closed when his mouth brushed hers…once…twice…before she began to respond. Before she knew it, she was on the floor, surrounded by heat as Harry’s weight pressed her down.
Hands fumbled with clothing, reaching and touching as moans and murmured endearments flowed between them.
As the intensity built, though, the moment began to shift. The hardwood floor gave way to an unfamiliar bed as Harry’s hands grew violent and the words of love whispered in her ear became crude.
“Wait...stop,” Ginny begged, attempting to push him off as her desire turned to fear.
Rough lips silenced her protests as her hands were suddenly dragged above her head. They stuck to the mattress, securing her at the wrists and trapping her in place. In an instant, her gown was open and large cold hands were on her skin.
“You’re mine now,” Malfoy hissed into her ear.
Unable to move, Ginny began to scream. Rather than deterring him, the sounds of her terror only seemed to encourage him as he took his time drawing out the inevitable. Tears were rolling down her cheeks by the time he began shoving down his pants…
“Ginny…wake up…wake up for me, baby…”
With a gasp Ginny’s eyes snapped open. Her heart was pounding as she jerked up into a sitting position. Pressing her hand between her breasts, she took a deep shuddering breath. Her skin was still crawling from her dream and she rubbed away the goosebumps on her arms. Looking around, she furrowed her brow when she recognized the familiar hospital wing at Hogwarts.
“Mmm…there you are,” Harry’s voice purred suddenly.
Gasping, a chill ran down her spine at the dark sound of his voice inside her head.
“No,” Ginny said, closing her eyes as fear pulsed through her. Five years ago, he’d only been able to force his way into her mind when he was out of control. “Harry, no…”
What’s happened? she wondered frantically, trying to think back.
She remembered Malfoy’s ritual…she remembered Harry saving her. She even remembered the stunners Remus had cast on Harry and then her…but she didn’t know why she was at Hogwarts or why Harry was in her head.
Where is he? Where is everyone?
“…wait for me, baby… we can finish our game…”
Biting back a whimper, she threw back the covers and climbed from the bed. The tile floor was cold against her bare feet, the room empty and dark as she walked to the door.
Anxious to find someone, she pulled open the dark oak panel and looked into the hall.
Finding it deserted, she slipped into the corridor. Frustration and fear churned in her stomach as she began walking toward the stairs.
“BILL!” Charlie’s panicked shout rang out suddenly. “BILL, HE’S HERE!”
Freezing, Ginny’s eyes widened at the terror in her brother’s voice. From around the corner, she could hear his feet slapping the floor as he ran.
“GET GINNY!! BILL, GET HER OUT OF HERE!”
Moving on instinct, Ginny scrambled into an alcove on her right. Ducking behind a statue, she slid down the wall until she was crouched in the shadows.
Her thoughts were racing as Charlie streaked past her a few seconds later, still yelling for Bill.
Harry’s here. He’s out of control and here…
Even as her body began to tremble, in her heart she knew she didn’t want to run. She didn’t want to leave him without trying to help him.
And running doesn’t help anyone.
The moment in Malfoy’s ritual room when Harry had pushed his power back replayed in her mind as she stood up.
Knowing she only had a few moments before they realized she was gone, Ginny slipped back into the hall and ran toward the stairs.
Taking them two at a time, she made her way down from the third floor until she reached the landing of the first. The magic in the air was palpable as she skidded to a stop at the edge of the grand staircase.
She didn’t have time to second-guess her decision because the main doors burst open below her, slamming against the walls with a boom. The two suits of armor positioned on either side of the door rattled on their stands from the force.
Ginny froze, her eyes locked on Harry as he stepped into the entrance hall. The wind swirled up the stairs, frigid and strong as it blew her hair back.
What happened to him?
Even from the landing she knew he was different. His power was stronger – his darkness more encompassing than it had been in Malfoy’s ritual room.
His gaze locked on her, Harry walked resolutely up the stairs toward her. With every step closer, the logical part of Ginny’s brain was telling her to run, but she knew it wouldn’t matter. There was nowhere to go that he couldn’t follow.
“Harry,” she said, seeing the tell-tale black of his eyes as he approached. “Harry, listen to me…please…”
Stopping on the top step, he cocked his head as he looked at her. Reaching out, he took hold of her wrist drawing her forward until she was right in front him. Wrapping one hand around her waist, he cupped her cheek with the other. His eyes were black as they held hers, his face still hard as he breathed deeply.
“Did you miss me?” Harry asked, his voice seeming to reverberate around her.
“Yes,” Ginny breathed shakily as she felt his magic seeping into her skin, rustling her hair as it encircled them.
“Well, here I am,” he murmured, his thumb pressing into her cheek. “It’s taken me a long time to remember how much you mean to me,” he sneered. “But don’t worry, baby, I feel it now.”
Ginny whimpered at his words, hearing the way his voice thickened with disgust.
He was looking at her, but Ginny knew he wasn’t seeing her, not really. Instead he simply saw the goodness within her, a kindness of spirit that was completely repulsive to him. The evil coursing through him wanted to destroy what encompassed so much of his soul.
“You love me,” Ginny gasped, as he trailed his thumb up and down her throat.
“You love me, Harry,” Ginny repeated as firmly as she could manage, blinking back her tears. “You don’t want to do this. You have to figh…”
His hand clamped around her neck, cutting off her words and her air.
“I think I’ve waited long enough to get you out of me,” he snarled before he shoved her away.
Holding his arm out as she stumbled back, he flicked his fingers and sent a Cruciatus curse flying in her direction.
Ginny gasped when Charlie suddenly barreled into her, taking the curse himself as he knocked her to the side. He dropped instantly to the floor, his body twitching violently as he screamed.
Bill had her a second later, his arm around her stomach as he dragged her toward the stairs leading to the second floor.
“Ginny, move!” he shouted in her ear, a curse flying from his wand at the same time.
“Wait!” she yelled as Harry easily waved Bill’s magic away.
Charlie’s cries rang in her ears as Bill flew away from her, landing on his back and sliding across the stone into the wall.
Spinning toward Harry, Ginny raised her hands in defense a second before everything went red. Her body hit the floor as a pain worse than anything she’d ever felt exploded inside her. Like thousands of knives, the magic stabbed every part of her body, overloading her senses.
Her screams drowned out everything else around her as the agony threatened to steal her consciousness. Just as she began to let go of her mind…trying to escape the pain…everything stopped.
Gasping, she lay on her side, unable to stop shaking. Tears poured down her cheeks while her muscles continued to spasm beneath her skin.
As she tried unsuccessfully to push herself up, a rough hand grabbed her arm and jerked her up from the floor. Unable to make her body follow orders, she hung in Harry’s grip like a rag doll as she moaned.
“HARRY!” Bill’s voice rang out.
Growling, Harry swung his arm out, sending Bill crashing back into the far wall. Without pause, he brought his arm back around, catching Ginny’s chin and titling her head up.
“Look at me.”
With a whimper Ginny dragged her eyes open, meeting his black gaze.
“I want you to see me,” he smiled before he sent her sailing away from him.
Slamming into the banister, Ginny cried out when a pain shot through her back and side. Clutching her ribs with one hand, she grabbed the railing with the other to keep herself upright as she gaped at Harry.
Keeping his hands at his sides, he turned his palms toward her.
Her hair blew back and her eyes squinted as a great burst of wind bent her back over the railing. Clutching the stone banister with a cry of fear, she turned away from the wind.
The wind pressed her hard against the stone, tangling her hair around her face as it whipped past. For a second she stared down at the flagstone floor of the entrance hall far below her, her heart racing with fear. Then, with a whoosh the air swirled down her legs before forcing her up into the air.
Screaming, she flipped over the edge of the landing. Catching the railing, she held on with everything she had as the wind blew relentlessly against her. Her legs flew out behind her as the wind whistled past her ears.
“Look at me,” Harry ordered inside of her head, his voice dark as it rolled over the sound of the wind.
Forcing her head up with a sob, Ginny found Harry standing next to the railing, watching as she struggled to hold on.
“I want to see your eyes when you fall,” he said, with a flick of his fingers.
“NO!” she screamed as she felt the wind rip her away from the railing.
Falling through the air, she screamed his name.
Before she could hit the ground, something slammed into her back, knocking the air from her lungs as it propelled her back up.
“HOLD ON!” Tonks yelled into her ear.
Too stunned to respond, Ginny grabbed the arm that was now wrapped firmly around her stomach as Tonks swung her broom around and raced for the front door. Not fast enough, she pulled up when Harry appeared suddenly in front of them, blocking the exit as he hovered in the air.
His cloak billowed around him as Tonks swung the broom back around.
Looking over her shoulder, Ginny watched as Harry threw out his arm.
Yelling a warning to Tonks, Ginny turned back just as the broom froze in midair. The momentum carried the women forward, off the broom and through the air before they tumbled to the ground.
Ginny landed on her back, sending a shock of pain through her. Gripping her side, she tried to catch her breath. With each choppy inhale, throbbing from what she knew was at least one broken rib shot across her back.
The high ceiling disappeared when Harry stepped into view above her.
Shaking her head, she blinked back tears as he crouched down.
“Get away from her!” Charlie yelled.
Looking over, Ginny saw him running down the steps with Bill limping behind him.
“They’re getting on my nerves,” Harry growled.
“No,” she choked out, grabbing his wrist as he glared back and forth between Bill and Charlie.
With a jerk of his head the brothers rose into the air the same way Malfoy had only hours before.
“No!” Ginny cried as her brothers began to scream. “Stop! Harry, stop…please stop!” she begged, fisting her hand in his shirt, trying to get his attention.
Closing his eyes, he seemed to simply revel in the sound of their pain.
Launching up from the floor, she knocked him down onto his back.
“Stop!” she pleaded, tears choking her voice as she landed on top of him.
In an instant, he’d reversed their positions, his face livid as he held her down. Evading his hands as he tried to catch her wrists, she grabbed his face and pulled it down to hers, smashing their mouths together.
His lips were cold, his breathing harsh as he froze in surprise. Near the stairs, her brothers fell to the floor as the curse faltered.
“Harry,” Ginny breathed as she moved her lips against his. “Where are you? Please…please come back to me.”
With a groan, he jerked his head back. Ginny saw that his eyes were still black but she simply wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him again. She molded her body to his as he seemed to become confused, his body wanting to kiss her, his power wanting to kill her and his heart slowly wanting to take over.
Groaning, he slammed his hands down on the floor, cracking the tiles and sending vibrations out across the hall. In the corner the four house hourglasses shattered, sending their colored gems spilling out on the floor.
“I love you,” Ginny said.
“Shut up,” he snarled.
Tangling his left hand into her hair he jerked her head back until she whimpered.
“I will be rid of you,” he promised, pressing his hand against her chest.
Gasping, Ginny felt his magic flowing from his hand into her heart. Her blood pumped faster as her heart sped up…racing faster and faster…
“Harry,” she breathed. “Harry…”
“Scream for me, baby…”
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she shook her head with a sob. Bringing her hand to his face she rested it against his cheek. She saw him twitch at the contact and but she kept her hand against his skin, rubbing her thumb back and forth across his cheek.
Gasping for breath, her heart raced in her chest, thudding at a dangerous speed as it continued to increase…
“I trust you,” she managed breathlessly. “I trust you, Ha-Harry.”
Above her, his eyes began to swirl with green as he blinked down at her. The pressure of his hand lessened slightly as his brow furrowed.
Harry’s back arched up at Bill’s shout as he hissed in pain.
Looking over, Ginny saw Bill collapse to the ground with a cry as Harry’s power entered his body. Charlie stunned his brother an instant later before he slowly approached Harry and Ginny.
Above her, Harry pushed out a tortured breath before he ripped his hand away from Ginny’s chest and rolled off of her.
Gasping, Ginny felt her heart slow. Turning her head, she stared at him for a second. He was crouched in a ball with his forehead resting against the floor.
Relief poured over her, bringing a rush of tears as she rolled toward him.
His hand flew up, causing her to slide away from him. Keeping his eyes on the floor, his body trembled violently every few seconds.
“Don’t…touch me,” he gritted out, his head jerking to the side. “Oh God…”
Ginny stared at his profile, watching as he fought for control within himself. Afraid to move, she stayed still when Charlie slowly knelt down behind her. His hands slid around her waist, pulling her into the protective cradle of his arms.
“Don’t touch her,” Harry growled, his eyes darkening as his head snapped up. His hand was raised before he faltered, his eyes filling with panic as he ripped it back with a cry, folding it over his stomach.
“Get away,” he gasped, sending her and Charlie sliding back across the floor again. “I have to…get away…”
“No,” Ginny said.
Harry groaned at the sound of her voice. His magic drew her forward an instant later, Charlie’s grip tightening as he held her back.
Shaking his head forcefully, Harry squeezed his eyes shut.
“Won’t hurt you,” he forced out. With a groan, he opened his eyes and met her gaze squarely for a second. “I won’t…hurt you,” he repeated resolutely, “not again.”
“You won’t, Harry...I know you...”
The Hogwarts wards shook around them as he Disapparated.
“No!” Ginny exclaimed, reaching out a second too late. “No,” Ginny repeated, beginning to cry as her arm dropped and she stared at where he’d been.
“Oh, God, Ginny,” Charlie breathed as he trembled. “Are you ok? Are you…”
“Ah!” Ginny cried when he pulled her closer, squeezing her ribs.
With Harry gone, she suddenly felt the stabbing pain in her chest and the ache of her body. Through her tears, she tried to inhale, but each attempt was quick and excruciating.
“Charlie!” Remus yelled, running through the main doors, with his wand drawn.
“What happened?” Dumbledore demanded, only a few steps behind him. “Where is he?”
Both men were bruised and haggard, their eyes wide as the looked around the room.
“Gone,” Bill replied, kneeling down next to Charlie and Ginny with a grimace.
“What do you mean he’s gone?” Dumbledore asked as he reached them.
“He left…he left me,” Ginny whimpered, missing the look that passed between Charlie and Bill at her words.
“We need to move her before he comes back,” Bill said.
“Remus,” Charlie said, jerking his head to where Tonks lay on her side across the room. “Tonks.”
His attention shifting instantly, Remus cursed in surprised before he ran to his wife.
“Can’t…can’t breathe,” Ginny wheezed, her hand clutching her side.
Crouching in front of her, Dumbledore lifted her hand and ran his wand over her side.
“I don’t…think it’s just…cracked,” Ginny managed.
Nodding with a frown, Dumbledore conjured a stretcher with a flick of his wand.
“Get her to Poppy,” he instructed.
The ceiling passed in a blur as Charlie levitated her back to the Hospital wing. Each breath felt like a knife into her back while her ability to inhale seemed to decrease with every step.
Madame Pomfrey’s voice seemed to be coming from the far end of a tunnel when Charlie finally moved her onto a bed. Unable to focus, Ginny’s eyes simply drifted shut. The next several minutes were a blur as Ginny drifted in and out of consciousness.
When she finally awoke she wasn’t in the hospital wing. Instead, she lay on a cot in a small unfamiliar chamber. Sitting up with a grimace, she swung her legs off the side of the bed.
“Careful,” Bill said, rising from a chair against the far wall. “Your rib punctured a lung,” he explained as he walked toward her. “Madame Pomfrey gave you a potion to heal it, but it hasn’t had time to work completely.”
Nodding, Ginny pressed her palms over her eyes.
“How long has it been?” she asked.
“Not long,” he told her.
“And Harry?” she inquired softly.
“He’s…still gone,” he replied.
“Do we know where he is?”
“No,” Bill said, his frustration showing in his voice. “He had a tracker, but it went dead a few minutes ago.”
Ginny let silence stretch between them as she took in the information.
“As soon as they secure a new location we’ll be leaving,” he informed her after a moment.
“No.” She shook her head before dragging her hands through her hair.
“Ginny,” he sighed, reaching for her.
“Don’t touch me,” she warned.
“Ginny, he’s going to come back,” he told her, dropping his arm. “We have to move you.”
“I’m not hiding,” she glared at her brother. “I’m not running from him.”
“You don’t have a choice!”
“Yes, I do,” Ginny contradicted him as she stood up. “I remember now. I know what happened to us and I know what happens if I hide. I won’t stay here, waiting for you to erase him from my mind again, Bill. I’ll go after him and...”
“Go after…” Bill gaped at her for a second before he found his voice. When he did, his arms flew out as he leaned over her. “If you go to him, Ginny, he’ll kill you!”
“Then he kills me” Ginny snapped, not batting an eye at he brother’s anger.
“Ginny, be reasonable,” he glared down at her, dropping his hands.
“Being reasonable gets me nothing,” she shot back bitterly. “Harry and I get through this together or not at all.”
“Ginny, you can’t mean…”
“IT’S MY LIFE!” she cried, pounding her fist over her heart. “MY DECISION!”
“How can you be so selfish?” Bill shouted back. “This isn’t just about you!”
Ginny sucked in a harsh breath at his words.
“You took my life,” she finally replied. “I won’t let you do it again.”
“But, you’ll let him do it,” Bill challenged.
“He will,” Bill assured her, “He would’ve killed you then and he will now if you give him the chance.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I don’t believe that. He’s different. He stopped.”
“For how long?” he demanded. “He can’t beat this, Ginny.”
“I can help him.”
“I don’t know! But someone has to…”
“You have to think this through,” Bill persisted. “Even if you won’t protect yourself, what about Harry?”
“Don’t,” Ginny said, shaking her head. “Don’t you dare.”
“You know what happens next,” he continued harshly, grabbing her arm when she pushed past him. “If they can’t get him under control; if he kills you…they will kill him.”
“You’re assuming they can,” Ginny said, her mouth curving into a sardonic grin even as more tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Ginny,” he tried, his voice heavy. “I won’t let you get yourself killed. I know you love Harry but…”
“I belong with him,” she insisted, her anger slipping slightly as her voice cracked.
“Maybe so,” Bill looked into her eyes, “but you can’t fix him.”
“You don’t know that,” she told him. “And no matter what happens, I won’t go back. I remember my life and I remember the last five years without Harry. I won’t do that again. I can’t.”
“You can if you have to. We all can.”
“You have no idea what it’s like for me,” Ginny pulled away, turning her back on him and wiping at her face.
“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Bill said softly from behind her.
The pain in his voice was enough to increase Ginny’s tears. It wasn’t until the door clicked shut, that she turned around.
She hadn’t heard him move and she ran to the door.
“Let me out!” she yelled as she yanked on the handle.
Finding it locked, she began pounding on the wood.
Receiving no reply, Ginny raged for several minutes. Whatever spell he’d used to seal the door was strong enough that all of her wandless attempts to remove it failed.
Eventually, with one last frustrated kick, she turned and moved to the window. Crossing her arms, she leaned into the stone and rested her head against the frame.
“Harry?” she whispered, staring out at the dark grounds below her.
Where are you? she thought silently.
For a moment she waited, letting her gaze lose focus as she waited to see if he would respond. Only the whistling sound of the wind rushing past the window answered her. Hogwarts, a place that had always represented safety and security had suddenly become a prison.
She knew the odds of surviving if Harry came back were slim, but she still couldn’t help wanting him to respond. She wanted to know where he was…wanted to know what was happening to him.
And no one will help me..
She couldn’t think of anyone who would help her get to Harry. Even if someone would, she didn’t have a way to contact them.
Sucking in a harsh breath, Harry wrapped his arms around his stomach as he knelt in the darkness. Every few seconds the curtains rustled as a wave of energy surged from his body and swept out across the small room.
He’d run to the first place he’d thought of. A place they wouldn’t know…wouldn’t try to look. If he’d been able, he would have kept running, but the need to go back…to get back to her had increased until, now, all he could do was sit as still as possible.
The muscles of his back strained as he struggled to remember his training, refusing to move for fear of losing his grip. His eyes were trained on a crack in the floor, focusing on that one detail as he tried to block out everything else.
It was excruciating because he remembered now. He remembered her. The evil inside of him seemed to squeeze his heart, repulsed by the intensity of what he now felt.
Worse, he remembered what he’d done. What he’d tried to do to her…and what he would continue to try to do to her.
Even from this remote place he could feel her.
“Fucking soul mate,” he hissed in Parseltongue before choking on a sob of despair.
Groaning, he moved his hands to the floor. Hopelessness filled his chest, but he continued to fight for control. Letting go would mean her death…a thought that drew another groan, this one a strange mixture of pleasure and pain as it echoed across the room. The smell of burning wood filled the room as his palms branded the boards.
He knew he couldn’t do this forever. Eventually, he would fail and she would die because no one was strong enough to stop him.
So, I’ll stop myself, he decided.
Dragging his wand from his pocket, he gripped it tightly.
“I will protect her,” he gritted out.
With a trembling hand, he pressed the tip of his wand against his arm.
“Begging your pardon,” a squeaky voice said tentatively from behind Ginny.
Spinning around with a gasp, Ginny stared down at the small house elf that stood in the middle of the room. Its large eyes were wide as it held a tray laden with bread, cheese and fruit.
“Trixi has brought some food for Miss Ginny. Headmistress says Miss needs to eat,” the creature said, carrying the tray to the desk that sat against the wall. “Is you needing anything else?”
Ginny remained silent as she stared. Past her surprise, Ginny’s mind was churning slowly as an idea began to form.
“Is you needing anything else?” the elf repeated, its oversized ears quivering as it waited for a response.
When Ginny still didn’t reply, the elf raised its hand, ready to go back to the kitchens.
“Wait!” Ginny said a second before Trixi snapped her fingers.
“Yes?” the elf asked eagerly.
“Can you let me out?”
“Oh, no,” the elf said shaking its head with a grave frown. “You isn’t supposed to be leaving.”
“Then…can you send Dobby here?”
“Oh…” the elf hesitated. “Trixi isn’t sure if Headmistress would…”
“Ok, that’s alright,” Ginny assured her. “You can go then.”
As soon as the elf was gone, Ginny looked around the room.
“Dobby?” she called. “Dobby!”
“Miss Ginny!” Dobby said, smiling widely as he appeared in front of her. “Dobby is thrilled you is asking to see him,” he gushed, bowing with a flourish.
Unable to waste time, Ginny immediately dropped to her knees in front of him.
“I need your help,” she said. “Harry needs your help,” she rushed on, hoping to appeal to Dobby’s loyalty to Harry.
Her heart clenched in relief when it seemed to work. At the mention of Harry, Dobby immediately nodded, pulling his cap off and twisting it in his hands as he worried over what was happening to Harry Potter.
It took only a few moments to explain what she needed and soon she was alone again as Dobby left on his errand. Pacing in front of the window, Ginny forced herself to remain calm. She knew Harry’s control would slip with every second that passed, bringing him closer to the edge of the darkness inside of him.
Finally sinking down on the bed, she pulled her knees up to her chest. Lowering her forehead, she rocked restlessly until Dobby finally reappeared.
“Miss Ginny? Is you alright?”
“Dobby! What did you find?” Ginny asked, jumping up from the bed and then kneeling in front him. “Have they found him?”
“Dobby listened very close and they is losing Harry Potter,” Dobby replied gravelly. “Dobby’s sorry,” he rushed on, his giant eyes filling with tears. “Dobby tried to get what Miss Ginny is needing but they is losing Harry Potter’s tracer in Norway. But Dobby will try again! Dobby will go back and…”
“Norway?” Ginny interrupted. “He was in Norway?”
“Master Lupin is confused about where Harry Potter is going,” he nodded.
Ginny closed her eyes in relief before she stood up.
"I need a wand, Dobby.”
"Oh no," Dobby replied, his eyes widening. "Dobby doesn't think he can..."
"Please," Ginny interrupted. "It's for Harry. I can't help Harry if I can't get to him, and I can't get to him without a wand."
Dobby furrowed his brow, thinking intently before finally, he nodded. Telling her he'd be right back, he disappeared with a snap of his fingers.
Ten minutes later Ginny was making her way through one of the many secret passages of Hogwarts. Ginny hadn’t asked where Dobby had gotten a wand. All that mattered at the moment was that it had worked for her when she’d tried a simple charm.
Now it lit the way as she worked her way out of the castle.
The room she’d been kept in was on the seventh floor, so she used a narrow stairway hidden behind the statue of Lachlan the Lanky to avoid detection. When she reached the third floor, she walked quickly down the hall, wishing she had Harry’s invisibility cloak.
Her heart was pounding by the time she reached the statue of the humpbacked witch, every creak of the old castle seeming like a sign someone was coming. Slipping into the passage, Ginny finally began to run.
Her lungs were burning by the time she reached the Honeydukes cellar. Resting her hand against the damp wall, she looked up squinting to see the trapdoor at the top of the ladder. The light from her wand bounced around her as she began to climb.
When she reached the top, she fumbled for the latch before lifting the trapdoor. The cellar was dark, stacks of crates and boxes looming high above her as she climbed out.
Sneezing once from the dust, she wiped the sweat from her face before clutching the wand tightly in her hands. Shutting her eyes, she focused as hard as she could on her destination. Trying to remember as many details as possible, she finally spun on her heel.
Disappearing with a pop, she reappeared a second later in front of a small cottage, enveloped in the shadows of a dark and menacing forest. Distantly, she could hear the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.
She recognized the house immediately as the one they’d stayed in the day before, but seeing it now brought her no comfort. The red paint looked almost black, the white window frames bright as they reflected the moonlight. There were no signs of life, no visible light or movement coming from within.
When Dobby had mentioned Norway, it had seemed a logical guess that he’d run here. No one knew this place even existed besides her.
Please, please be here, she thought, staring at the house.
She didn’t know what she’d do if he wasn’t here. He could be anywhere.
As she stood at the edge of the trees, she could feel the wind brushing against her cheeks. It whistled through the leaves and caused the branches to scrape and grind against each other. Creating strangely unsettling sounds, it was almost as if the forest was warning her to go back.
The air seemed to crackle with energy as she moved forward slowly and walked up the stairs to the porch. When she reached the front door, it swung in with a creak.
Her heart leapt, both in relief and fear as she stared into the darkness. She couldn’t see him, but she could feel him.
Receiving no reply, she warily crossed the threshold. When she was inside, the door shut behind her with a snap. Spinning, she expected to find Harry standing there, but the entrance was empty.
“Where are you?” she asked, her skin prickling as her eyes began to adjust to the dimly lit room and she looked around.
The house remained silent, except for a brief shuffling that came from the second floor.
Her pulse racing, Ginny crossed to the stairs. Holding onto the railing tightly, she climbed the steps, keeping her eyes on the hall above as she moved. When she reached the landing, her feet carried her to the door on the right.
Slightly ajar, she pushed it open to reveal the sparse bedroom. The moon was shining though the window, creating a white streak across the floor and washing the rest of the room in a cold blue tone.
Ginny’s heart stumbled when she saw Harry on his knees in front of the window. His back was to her, his body as still as a statue as he cast a black shadow on the floor behind him.
Swallowing heavily, she stepped into the room.
“Get out,” he hissed before she could speak.
Freezing at his command, she stared at his back for a second. Then, turning slowly, she shut the door behind her.
When she turned back, he was in front of her, having moved without a sound.
“GET OUT!” he bellowed, sending her slamming back against the door in surprise. “I don’t want you here,” he growled, snatching the wand from her hand.
“You let me in.”
“No, I didn’t!” he snapped back angrily.
Ginny watched as he twitched violently, squeezing his eyes shut.
“No,” he repeated, although this time he sounded as though he spoke to himself.
Shaking his head, he took a step back. Looking down at his hand, he seemed to belatedly realize he held a wand. His eyes widened in fear before he threw it quickly across the room and met her gaze.
“Why did you come here?” he asked shakily, his voice tortured.
“Either I come to you, or you come to me,” Ginny said quietly. “You know that.”
“So I can kill you,” he said hoarsely, taking another step back. “Now you’ve just made it easier and if I…God, I can’t, Gin…I don’t want…”
“You don’t have to kill me,” Ginny reminded him.
“I won’t,” he promised thickly, his jaw clenching. “I won’t let that happen.”
“I know,” Ginny said, reaching for his arm.
As her hand wrapped around his forearm, it felt warm and wet. Frowning, she released him and looked down at her hand. Covered in a dark liquid, she brought her palm up into the light. Nausea rolled through her when she realized what it was.
“You’re bleeding,” Ginny gasped, reaching out and catching his wrists. They were both wet under her hands. “Harry, why are you bleeding?”
“I’m…trying to protect you,” he gritted out, clenching his fists.
“The only way I can,” he replied, jerking out of her grasp. “I just…I keep fucking healing,” he forced out, his voice breaking. “See?”
Before she could move, he’d pulled his wand and dragged the tip of it up his forearm. The skin split instantly, a new rush of blood spilling out over his skin.
“Stop!” Ginny cried, pressing her hand against the wound as his blood oozed between her fingers and dripped down onto the floor.
His eyes closed at her touch as a tormented groan spilled from his throat. Already his arm was healed, wandless magic spontaneously sealing the gash and leaving his skin unblemished under her hand.
“It won’t let me protect you,” he choked out in frustration.
His legs seemed to give out and he dragged her down to the floor until they were kneeling across from each other.
“But I will,” he swore fervently. “Whatever it takes.”
Bringing his wand to his throat, he pressed it hard against his skin.
“Don’t!” Ginny cried, grabbing his hand and jerking it down. “Don’t you dare!”
“I’m the only one who can stop this,” he forced out.
“Not like this,” Ginny managed her body cold at the thought of what he’d been trying to do. “If you die, I die.”
Harry’s body was trembling and he clamped his teeth together, forcing back the inky black that had begun swirling into his eyes.
“You don’t understand what it’s like. I can’t…I can’t hold it back,” he breathed. “It’s too much. I can’t do this.”
“But you already are,” Ginny told him. “You’re talking to me. You’re sitting here with me and you’re not hurting me.”
Grabbing her wrists, he yanked her forward until their noses almost touched.
“But I want to,” he growled, his eyes swirling again. His hands squeezed her wrists until the bones ground together. “How long will I last?”
“As long as you want to,” Ginny said, her lips trembling.
“What I want…what I want changes by the second.”
“Let me help you.”
“No one can help me,” he groaned, his head jerking to the side as the windows rattled.
“Let me try,” she pleaded, pulling against his grip. When he released her, she pulled up his shirt and slid her hand underneath until her palm was pressed against his chest. “I’ll share it with you.”
“No!” he gasped, horrified by her suggestion. Grabbing her wrist, he pulled it away from him. “Absolutely not!”
“Harry, listen to me. I know how it works,” she insisted, trying to yank her hand free as she shifted toward him. “If Dumbledore can do it for you, so can I. I want to…”
“No! Ginny, you…”
Harry’s protests were cut off by her kiss. Whimpering, his fingers dug into her wrist as his power surged. Struggling to push it down, his eyes closed and his forehead pressed against hers.
Ginny’s free hand was against his chest a second later.
“Ginny!” he gasped, his head dropping back as his power rushed up Ginny’s arm, flooding her body.
Arching back with a cry as the magic overwhelmed her, Ginny collapsed to the floor.
Harry fell with her, catching his weight on his hands just before he landed completely on top of her. His head briefly cleared - the intensity of his power lessening as it passed into Ginny’s body.
Beneath him, Ginny writhed with a gasp as her eyes swirled to black.
“Oh, God, no,” he choked out. “Ginny…”
One of his hands ran down her side, tense as her muscles clenched. He could feel his power moving through her body…corrupting her…
Not her, he thought with a shudder of grief. He didn’t want what was inside of him to taint her.
For a moment she remained still beneath him, her black eyes blinking up at him. Then she inhaled deeply, as though drinking in the new sensations.
As she exhaled, a small smile formed on her lips before curving into a dark seductive grin. Her tongue darted out to lick her lips before she began to laugh.
The sound was thick and husky, lingering in the air as it washed over Harry. Gritting his teeth, Harry felt his power surge back up …only this time it was different.
The look in her eyes and the sound of her laughter sent an unexpected shot of lust through his body. Although he knew he should fight the temptation, the feel of his power inside of her, drew him closer.
Not this way, he thought. Forcing himself to resist what his power suddenly craved, he began to push off from the floor and move away.
In an instant, she’d stopped his retreat, curling her fingers into his hair and rising up on one arm. When she brought her lips to his, his will to resist vanished and for a moment, he willingly kissed her back.
“God, is this what you feel?” she asked, darkness oozing from her as she spoke.
“Ginny,” he breathed, his hand cupping the back of her head. “You shouldn’t...”
“I want to...it feels incredible,” she murmured. “I can feel...everything,” she purred, her gaze rolling around the room.
“Please,” Harry whispered. “It’s too much. Push it back.”
“Mmm,” she sighed, her eyes fluttering shut. “I think it’s just right...perfect.”
Kissing him again, she groaned as she moved against him.
Automatically his body responded and he fell in rhythm with her kiss.
“Still want to kill me?” she asked after a moment, biting his lip hard before dropping her head back.
“I will…in a minute,” Harry replied tightly, turning his head away.
With another knowing laugh she kissed him again, this time licking into his mouth as she arched up against him. One hand pulled on his hair, keeping his face against hers while the other ran down the front of her flannel top. Her buttons popped open, the fabric spreading magically without a word.
“Come on, Harry,” she whispered in his ear, the layers of her voice dark and seductive as she raked her nails down his chest. “Let go for me.”
“No,” he managed, shaking his head, reining himself in again.
He knew this was temporary. If he let go, he’d be out of control when his power left her.
“But I want it,” she growled.
With a whoosh, she changed their positions, glaring down him as she straddled his lap. Her shirt slipped down her shoulders, revealing her breasts as it hooked in the crook of her arms. Her inhibitions gone, her mouth twisted into a hard grin when his gaze naturally moved down her body.
“I want you inside me,” she told him, her hair swaying around her shoulders as she rested her hands on his chest. When he groaned, she lowered herself down, grinning like a black-eyed cat. “You’re already inside me,” she reminded him.
Growling deep in his throat as his resolve snapped, Harry grabbed her long tangled hair and yanked her mouth to his. His touch was rough, his hands and teeth marking her as he flipped her over beneath him.
In their haste to get closer they weren’t gentle. Skin bruised and broke as each tried to get the upper hand in their battle for dominance. Along the way their clothes vanished, banished by one or both until they were skin to skin, heady with both power and desire.
Slowly, as the minutes passed the shared magic filtered back into Harry…bringing Ginny back to herself.
The first thing that registered was the hard floor beneath her back. A moment before she hadn’t noticed, but suddenly the wood became uncomfortably cold against her flushed skin. Her hands were tangled in Harry’s hair, pulling too hard as he worked his way back up her body.
What had been overwhelmingly erotic before became frightening as his touch grew harsher with his returning power. Not wanting to stop, she tried to ignore it at first, but soon she was trembling, besieged by what had been inside her as he loomed over her.
How does he do it? she wondered, biting her lip as the darkness faded away.
Her body arched under his hands as her mind whirled. She didn’t know how he could live every day and hold back something ten times as powerful as what she’s just felt.
Her heart broke for him, even as his strength astounded her.
Soon, her face was wet with tears, her body aching with desire and pain as she clung to him. She could feel the change in him, his magic rippling from his skin as he touched her. Unable to hold it in, she sobbed aloud as he jerked her head back and bit down on her shoulder.
Harry froze at the sound, his teeth digging deeper into her skin. Lost in a haze of desire, he hadn’t realized how much time had passed, but the sound of her anguish yanked him back to the moment, thrusting him instead toward the edge of his control.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he dragged his mouth from her skin. Trying to take in a steadying breath, he could feel her shaking beneath him, her body cradling his and her heart beating rapidly against his chest.
Inside, the darkness began clawing to get out, aching with the need to cause her more pain.
Almost afraid to move, Harry slowly pulled his head up. His heart seized when he saw her wiping her tears away. The bruises on her face marred her pale skin, making her look even smaller and more vulnerable as she stared up him.
The sight sent his power surging up with a vengeance but he clamped down on it with every ounce of strength he possessed.
I won’t hurt her.
“It’s ok,” he breathed.
Sliding his hands beneath her body, he held her against him as he sat up. He knew he had to get out of the room, but he refused to leave her cold and crying on the floor.
“Wrap your arms around me,” he instructed gently before picking her up.
She was light in his arms, but he still staggered unsteadily. Closing his eyes a moment, he forced his mind to focus only on the task at hand before he carried her to the bed. When he lowered her down onto the mattress, her grip tightened, dragging him down on top of her.
Her lips pressed against his, salty and cold as they sent a tremor through his body.
“Ginny, don’t,” he warned, pushing up.
“Is that…what you feel?” she whimpered, her voice breaking as fresh tears poured down her cheeks. “So much…so much anger…so much…”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. With a shaking hand he reached up and smoothed her hair before fisting it into the pillow with a grimace. “You shouldn’t have…felt that.”
Shaking her head, Ginny raised her hand to his chest.
“I’m fine,” she whispered, “I’ll do it again if it helps.”
“No,” he said forcefully, his heart stumbling as he considered it. “You won’t. It doesn’t help. It’s not permanent.”
“It’s not an option, Ginny,” he spat. “I won’t let it inside you.”
“But you liked it,” she said softly.
Dropping his forehead briefly against hers, he bit back a groan.
“No…I didn’t,” he breathed unsteadily.
“Harry, please, let me help you,” Ginny whispered. “I love you.”
“Don’t say that,” Harry forced out. “It makes it…worse…”
“It’s ok,” she assured him. “I trust you.”
“Oh God,” Harry groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. “Don’t. I don’t.”
“I do,” she whispered against his lips. “I love you and I know you love me.”
“Ginny…It’s not that easy.”
“Yes, it is,” she told him. “You love me. Just say it.”
“I…I love you,” Harry breathed, feeling his tears run down his nose, “but...”
“Say it again,” she whispered.
“I love you.”
Groaning a second later, he threw out his hand, shattering a window as he siphoned off some of his power.
“I’ve got…to go,” he said, his voice shaking as he pulled away.
“No!” Ginny protested, grabbing his shoulders. “Don’t leave me...not again,” she pleaded. “Stay here.”
“How?” he choked out. “I can’t…I…”
“Shhh…” she breathed, twining her legs around his. “Just…stay with me. Be with me…”
“I want to…God, I want you, but…”
“Then take what you want,” Ginny urged, shifting beneath him and reminding him how far gone they’d been only moments before. “What you want, Harry. Not what’s inside of you.”
“Ginny,” he ground out. “You don’t know what you’re asking.”
“Yes, I do,” she insisted.
“But what if…
“Stop,” she interrupted, grasping his face in her hands. “I love you. And I want you however I can have you.”
Squeezing his eyes shut, Harry shook his head. When she pulled his face to hers he didn’t resist, but his lips trembled as they ghosted over hers.
“It is,” she countered gently. “It’s working. Go as slow as you need.”
Laying his hand on her stomach, Harry remained still, his breathing ragged as his breath mingled with hers. Finally, his hand tentatively began to move.
“Soft,” he murmured, keeping his eyes shut as he concentrated.
“Beautiful,” Ginny echoed breathlessly as she stared up at him.
The cords of his neck stood out and a lock of hair hung down over his forehead, hiding his scar. Reaching up, Ginny tucked it behind his ear, watching the shiver follow her fingers down his neck.
His eyes opened, dilated but not black as they met hers.
“Please,” she entreated. “Show me you love me, Harry.”
As his resistance crumbled, Harry grasped her hips, and ducked his face into her neck as he brought them together. His mouth opened wordlessly while Ginny gave a soft cry into his shoulder.
Being inside of her was like nothing Harry had ever felt. Unprepared for the pleasure, he locked his body into place as the evil inside fought back with a vengeance.
His fingers dug into her skin, sure to bruise but he couldn’t let go.
Too hard, too hard…not hard enough…
Instinctively, his body began to move even as his grip on his mind slipped slowly away.
“Oh, God, Gin…It’s too much,” he warned, fighting for control as he spoke. “This…was a…a mistake…”
“No,” Ginny shook her head. “You’re stronger than what’s inside of you,” she told him, running her hand down his cheek. “We’re stronger.”
“No!” He shook his head frantically.
Stop it, stop it, he chanted against the darkness of his thoughts. It was ecstasy and agony all at once and for a moment Harry felt like he was dying, sure his body would simply split in two from the force of his struggle. I won’t…hurt her…I love her…I love…I…I, please stop…
Unable to stop the tremors that began, Harry dug his fingers deeper into her hips as he fought for control.
“I’m not,” he choked out, shaking his head. “I can’t…Ginny…”
Ginny cupped his cheeks and tilted his head back to see his face. She could see his terror rising as his breathing grew sharper. His eyes were filling with black, his pupils spilling out across the irises.
“Harry, please,” Ginny pleaded. “Stay with me.”
Harry managed only a whimper as he shook above her. A trickle of sweat ran down his chest as he fought with himself.
“I’m not…strong enough.”
“Yes, you are.”
Grabbing his arm, Ginny dragged one of his hands to her chest. Harry collapsed down to his elbow, tears rolling down his cheeks even as the whites of his eyes disappeared.
“Share my power,” Ginny urged, pressing his palm against her skin. “It will make you stronger.”
“You don’t…know that…”
“It can’t hurt to try. Let me help you, Harry.”
Ginny arched beneath him.
Harry cried out as her magic flowed into his body. Pure and strong, it shocked his system, clearing his mind and temporarily pushing the darkness back. Collapsing on top of her, he panted into her ear for a second as the fight for control temporarily quieted.
When he could move he ran his hands into her hair, fingering the soft locks as he pressed his face against her neck in relief.
“Harry?” Ginny murmured, sliding her arms around his shoulders.
Pushing back up onto his elbows, he blinked down at her.
“Are...are you ok?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she murmured, sniffling as she took in the clear green of his eyes. “Hi,” she smiled, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Hi,” he echoed, running his thumbs through the tears on her skin.
“I’ve missed you,” she choked out.
Groaning, he lowered his head and kissed her soundly.
“Every second,” he swore softly.
Afraid to look away from her face, Harry held onto her power inside of him. Grasping it like a lifeline, he focused on her love and trust as he held back the darkness.
All Harry could think was that he loved this woman. The need to destroy was there as always, buried inside of him, but the gift of her power had allowed them this moment and no matter what happened after, no matter what he had to do to ensure her safety, he would take it.
Dipping his head, he told her he adored her. He wanted her to hear everything he felt in case he was never able to tell her again. She clung to him tighter in response, his words of love wrapping around them like a warm blanket as they moved together, this time gently but just as intense.
He didn’t know what was happening, but as they made love he felt himself changing. Something new began churning inside of him, unfamiliar and frighteningly intense.
“Ginny,” he managed shakily.
“I love you,” she said, her hand moving to caress his cheek before clutching his shoulder.
Desperate not to hurt her, he stared at her face, afraid if he looked away he’d lose himself. She was his soul mate, the part of himself he hadn’t realized was missing and Harry clung to his love for her, chanting it over and over as he held back the force building inside of him.
When he finally pressed his lips to hers, muffling their cries of release, his control finally slipped. His entire body jerked as the magic burst inside of him. A white light erupted between them, shooting through the room and shattering the windows before everything went dark.
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