Chapter 22 : Whisper from the Heart
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“What have you told her, Malfoy?” Once Ginny and Hermione were gone up the stairs, Harry turned on Draco furiously. “Why is she afraid of me?”
“I think you can answer that better than I can!” Draco shot back angrily.
“What are you talking about?” Harry demanded. “You’re the one who —”
“This isn’t the first time Ginny’s reacted like that,” Draco answered.
“You mean it’s happened before?” Andromeda asked worriedly.
“Several times,” Draco affirmed. “She’s had nightmares. She woke up screaming in the middle of the night, and she beat on me the same way before she came out of it.”
Harry balled his hands into tight fists, trying very hard to control his rising feelings of jealousy to hear Malfoy was with Ginny when she awoke from nightmares. There was no doubt about it; he was definitely going to have to kill the bloody son-of-a —
“She’s been having the same nightmare over and over,” Draco continued looking at Harry accusingly. “She always dreams about the same person hurting her, though she says she can never remember who he is. But she remembered what he looks like,” Draco pointed at Harry, “and she described you, Potter.”
“Me?” Harry was completely taken aback but he glared back at Draco. “Then you must have fed her a bunch of lies to make her think —”
“I’ve never told her what you look like!” Draco spat back. “She came up with that all on her own. And you saw how she reacted to you a while ago. Looks to me like her subconscious is trying to warn her! I wonder, Potter, do you really care about her? Why don’t you just admit to whatever sick things you’ve done to her! It’s no wonder she’s tried to forget you!”
Harry’s fury broke. “I’ve had enough of your twisted lies, Malfoy!”
He pulled his wand from his pocket and shot a curse at Draco, but the blond wizard had been ready for him. Draco was able to get a curse off at Harry a split second before the red light of Harry’s curse hit him square in the chest. The curse knocked Draco backward and he landed hard on the last step below where Hermione now stood frozen in surprise.
Unfortunately for Harry, Draco had also aimed well and he found himself on the floor, gritting his teeth hard the pain searing across his back.
Neither wizard was through and took aim at each other again. Before either could get off another shot, shouts of ‘Protego!’ filled the room and a shield charm erupted around each of them.
Harry shot a furious look across the room at Hermione, whose wand was still pointed at him, while Narcissa lowered her wand, having protected her son with a shielding charm of her own.
“Trying to kill each other is certainly not going to help this situation!” Hermione admonished, slowly lowering her wand.
“I should say not!” Andromeda agreed, although her fingers twitched on her own wand for a moment as the glared at her nephew. Then she said pointedly to Harry, “You will refrain from dueling in my home! Is that understood?”
Harry struggled to get to his feet and Hermione rushed past Draco to go assist him.
“What were you thinking, Harry?” Hermione scolded. “You know better than to let Malfoy get to you! Now look! You’ve gone and torn open the wounds on your back.”
“Wounds?” Andromeda questioned, and her anger abated when she noticed fresh blood on the back of Harry’s shirt and the sudden pallor of his face. “You’re as white as a ghost! Why didn’t you tell us you were injured so badly? What did they do to you?”
Draco’s curse had drained Harry of the last bit of energy he had and he was forced to accept Hermione’s help over to the couch before his legs gave out.
“Ask your nephew,” Harry answered with a clenched jaw, remaining as still as possible and wishing for the fire raging across his back to again recede to a more tolerable level.
When his mother and aunt looked at him for an explanation, Draco answered resignedly, “The man in the gold mask promised to give everyone who joined him the opportunity to take out their revenge against Potter once he was captured. They tied him in our carriage house and…”
“They beat him!” Hermione finished for him, disgust evident in her voice. “With a whip. And quite savagely judging by the condition of Harry’s back.”
“Oh, Draco!” Narcissa sat in a chair heavily, looking at her son as if she did not know who he was. “I thought we were done with such violence! You may still harbor animosity toward Harry, but to take part in—”
“I didn’t have a choice, Mother!” Draco cried. “He threatened to kill you as well as me!”
“When I asked you the other day,” Narcissa said, tears of anger and sorrow forming in her eyes, “you swore you weren’t involved! You lied to me!”
“No, Mother. If you recall, I said that I did not tell anyone where Potter had taken the kid that day.”
Narcissa stared unbelievingly at Draco before turning away from him miserably, “Your father has taught you too well.”
“You could have come forward after the attack!” Andromeda stated angrily to her nephew. “You should have helped to stop them before they tried to take Teddy or before they nearly killed Hermione! You should have brought Ginny back!”
“I was trying to find a way out!” Draco rounded on Andromeda. “But we had already learned what happens when someone talks to the wrong people or they fail to complete his orders! A few people accompanied either him or Joddy out of the country and we never saw them again. Didn’t you hear what I said? He threatened to kill Mother and me if I refused to go along with him!”
“But Draco will be helping us from here on out,” Harry said firmly, looking up at Draco from his seat. “You’re coming with me to the Ministry and—”
“Not in your lifetime, Potter!” Draco snapped back. “We don’t know who he has working for him there, so I’m not about to put my life on the line by going to the Ministry!”
“I’m not giving you the choice,” Harry replied coolly. “I’m officially arresting you for being an accessory to both murder and attempted murder, not to mention for breaking the terms of your probation for your involvement in the war.”
“Please,” Narcissa said pleadingly, her anger draining rapidly as she stepped back to her son. “What Draco did was wrong, but I’m certain that what he said is true. His life will be very much in danger if goes to the Ministry! At least until the Death Eater’s contacts are uncovered!”
“He should have thought about that before he decided to join up with the Death Eaters again—”
“But he saved Ginny’s life!” Narcissa argued. “Surely that has to be worth something!”
“And then he held her captive for nearly three months!” Harry shot back.
“Maybe Narcissa is right,” Hermione interjected quietly.
“What?” Harry turned on her in disbelief. “How can you take Malfoy’s side after everything he’s done?”
“Harry, think!” Hermione implored, sitting down beside him. “We have no idea who in the Ministry is working for Golden Mask, so it would be very easy for them to get to Draco. He certainly won’t be able to help your investigation if they kill him!”
“So, I should just let him go on his merry way and take the chance that he’ll go into hiding?” Harry snapped sarcastically. “That won’t help our investigation, either!”
“I guarantee that you will be able to contact Draco any time you need him,” Narcissa stated beseechingly.
Harry looked from Narcissa back to Hermione incredulously. “Are you all forgetting that Draco has admitted to working for Golden Mask, not to mention to being involved in the attack that nearly killed Ginny, as well as being a party to other illegal activities? I’m an Auror! The last I knew, it was my job to arrest the bad guys!”
“I can’t lose my son, too,” Narcissa implored, kneeling down in front of Harry so she could look him straight in the eyes. “He will stay at my cottage by the ocean. No one knows its location. I swear on my life that once the Death Eaters and their Ministry contacts are caught, Draco will turn himself in to face all charges against him. Agreed, Draco?”
When Draco did not answer at once, Narcissa repeated more adamantly, “Agreed, Draco?”
“Alright, yes!” He snapped “Agreed!”
“I don’t believe this!” Harry said in exasperation, running a hand through his hair and wincing when his sudden movement shot a blaze of fire across his back. Either the pain had addled his brain or he had to be more exhausted than he realized if he was allowing them to talk him into this.
“I’m warning you, Malfoy,” Harry growled, “if you run and if I have to come looking for you…”
“Don’t get your knickers in a bunch, Potter,” Draco replied coldly, “you won’t.”
It looked as though both Harry and Draco were seriously considering having another go at each other, but Hermione quickly intervened.
“Now that that’s settled, Harry, I think we should see about your back.”
“Come, I’ll accompany you to the cottage,” Narcissa said to her son, taking Hermione’s cue, as well as Draco’s arm. “You will be able to reach us there, Mr. Potter.”
After Narcissa and Draco had gone, Harry glared at Hermione, “Did I really just allow you to talk me into letting Malfoy go?”
“Yes you did,” Hermione stated unflinchingly. “And unless you want to babysit him twenty-four-seven, you know it’s really the only thing you can do if you want to keep him alive.”
Harry responded with a snort of disgust to which Hermione added, “Narcissa will keep a close eye on him. She wants her son to be safe and you know that Draco will be too frightened to run with Golden Mask’s lot after him. Now, you really need to get some sleep, but first I think you should see a Healer about your back…”
“I promised to stay until after I see Teddy.” Harry was feeling even more tired all of a sudden and he continued to mentally berate himself for being a complete idiot for letting Malfoy leave.
“Alright,” Hermione answered with a heavy sigh, knowing better than to try to argue with him. “Andromeda, do you have some Dittany?”
“I do,” the older woman replied.
“Then, Harry,” Hermione said, “Lie down on the couch on your stomach and I’ll apply more Dittany. Then you can at least try to get some sleep before Teddy wakes.”
Hermione Vanished his shirt and Harry eased himself down onto the couch, but he had fallen into an exhausted sleep before Andromeda returned with the bottle of Dittany.
It felt like he had only just closed his eyes when Harry became aware of people talking in hushed tones. He recognized Ron’s angry voice demanding to see his sister and then Hermione just as adamantly insisting that he wait because she had recently checked on Ginny, who was still soundly asleep.
Harry wanted to yell at the both of them to shut it so he could go back to sleep himself, but then he had the distinct feeling he was being watched.
Still lying on his stomach, he detected the lightest of pressure from another shirt Hermione must have conjured to cover his wounded back, and he cracked his eyes open slightly. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw a grinning face only inches from his own directly in front of him.
“Oi, Teddy!” He admonished crankily, as he stiffly moved into a sitting position. “You shouldn’t do that to people when they’re sleeping!”
“You did it, Uncle Hawey!” Teddy exclaimed, too excited to pay any attention to Harry’s reprimand. “Gram said I had to let Aunt Ginny sleep, but I saw her! You bwought her back from the bad men just like I knew you would!”
Harry rubbed the sleep from his eyes as Teddy’s words slowly sunk in.
“What do you mean?” Harry questioned, frowning at his godson. He’d never said anything in front of Teddy regarding his suspicions that Ginny could be alive.
“I hoped the bad men in the park took you to the same place they took Aunt Ginny,” Teddy explained. “Then you could find her and bring her back.”
“Wait… even before you saw Aunt Ginny upstairs, you thought she was alive?” Harry queried. “Why?” Harry asked at his affirmative nod.
“’Cause a bad man catched her,” Teddy replied.
Amazed, Harry asked, “You mean you saw someone catch Aunt Ginny when she fell that night at Uncle Bill’s?”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Harry demanded. The tone of his voice was much harsher than he intended and Teddy’s eyes widened fearfully.
“I’m sorry, Teddy,” Harry quickly amended, taking the boy’s hand into his. “I’m not upset with you, honest.”
Teddy looked very relieved and Harry continued more calmly, “But, why didn’t you tell us that you saw someone catch her?”
“Nobody asked me,” Teddy answered matter-of-factly.
Harry stared dumbfounded at his godson for a moment until Teddy asked more somberly, “Are the bad men going to come back again? I don’t like them. They’re scawy.”
“I know,” Harry replied comfortingly. “But I’m going to do my best to catch them and put them in prison as soon as I can. Although, until then, I don’t think we should go to any more parks.”
Seeing the disappointment on Teddy’s face, Harry added. “What if I try to talk Gram into letting me give you flying lessons whenever I come to visit, instead? You’ve got a few years before you head off to Hogwarts, so if we start training you up, I bet you’ll have a brilliant shot at making your house Quidditch team.”
“Weally?” Teddy asked, brightening.
“Really.” Harry smiled, gently ruffling the boy’s hair, which was turning a brighter shade of blue as they spoke.
“Can I still be wing bare-wer?” Teddy asked suddenly. “I still wemember what to do. Can we do it soon?”
Reminded of Ginny’s loss of memory, Harry felt the familiar coldness in the pit of his stomach.
“There’s something I guess I need to explain to you,” he said; but how was he to explain Ginny’s current circumstances to a child? “I, er, think it may be a while now before Aunt Ginny and I get married.”
“Why?” Teddy asked, looking disappointed. “Don’t you love Aunt Ginny anymore?”
“Of course I do,” Harry replied, pulling Teddy onto his lap and giving him a hug. “I love her more than ever.”
“Oh. So she doesn’t love you anymore?”
“Well, at the moment Aunt Ginny doesn’t know that she does,” Harry answered.
Seeing that this confused the boy all the more, Harry took a deep breath and tried again, “You see, Aunt Ginny doesn’t remember me. We don’t know why, but she’s lost her memory, and she can’t remember any of us; not me, or you or Gram or your uncles. We’re going to have to give her some time to try to remember again.” Then he leaned down to whisper conspiratorially in Teddy’s ear. “But you know, I also think after everything that’s happened, Aunt Ginny is kind of scared now, too, so she’s going to need all us to do whatever we can to help her out. What do you think?”
“If I help her remember us, I still get to be wing ber-wer!” Teddy exclaimed.
“Kiddo, you’ve got yourself a deal,” Harry said, holding out his hand to a grinning Teddy who gave it an eager shake.
Ginny awoke when she heard the creaking of the bedroom door followed by Andromeda’s low voice admonishing someone to stay quiet to allow both her, Ginny, and Harry to get some much needed sleep. Ginny lay there a while longer, hoping to doze off again, but she was no longer sleepy enough to keep her mind from wondering back to all that had happened in just the twenty-four hours.
Judging by the light shining through the bedroom window, she assumed that it must be mid afternoon which meant she had been asleep for a long while. It was also the first time she had slept for more than a few hours in a row without being awakened by nightmares. In fact, she could not remember dreaming at all, which she hoped could be considered a sign of progress.
She sat up, thinking she felt much better until she thought of the upcoming meeting with her family and her stomach fluttered nervously. “Meeting” was a strange way of thinking about seeing the people who she was supposedly the closest to, but the fact remained: while they all knew her, she still could not remember any of them. From Harry’s description, it certainly sounded like her family was a close-knit, loving and supportive sort with the conflicts and disagreements typical in a healthy family dynamic. She just hoped that she would still fit in with them all.
She left the room and started down the stairs, but then halted in mid-step when she saw Harry lying on his stomach, asleep on the couch. A young boy with blue-tinted hair was sitting on his knees closely watching him. Harry must have either sensed the boy’s presence or heard the people talking on the front porch because he stirred slightly.
When he woke suddenly, Ginny stepped back up a few stairs quickly to where Harry could not see her, but she could still hear his exchange with the boy. Initially, she was concerned for the boy’s welfare when she heard Harry’s angry reprimand, but it soon became evident that he had not intended to frighten the boy. In fact, he was trying his best to reassure the child, who turned out to be his godson, Teddy.
As she listened to their conversation, Ginny found herself contemplating the type of person Harry Potter truly must be. Was it possible that someone who was able to comfort a small boy, as he was doing at the moment, was the same person her subconscious presented as a monster in her nightmares?
When Teddy broached the subject of their wedding, Ginny held her breath as she waited for Harry’s response. When he declared that he still loved her, she felt an undeniable thrill run through her body like a warm, pleasant current, and she slowly sank to sit down on the step.
You can’t fancy him already, she admonished herself. That would be completely mental! Sure, at one time they were supposed to be married, but now she didn’t even know him. Harry Potter was a stranger; a stranger who she suspected had quite possibly done horrible things to her in the past.
Then Hermione’s plea drifted through her mind. “Give Harry a chance, because I know with all my heart you’ll be very glad that you did.”
Ginny closed her eyes and took a deep, shaky breath. Heaven and the stars help her, but she could not deny it; while her head was telling her to remain wary, her heart was urging her to heed her sister-in-law’s words.
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