Chapter 13 : Chapter 12 - Departures
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"I need to have more of a plan this time. I just can't figure out where to go," Harry said moodily.
Ginny looked at him carefully for a moment. "Well, sulking won't help."
Pushing to his feet, Harry sent her a dirty look before he started pacing. The couple had decided to stay at Hogwarts until after the New Year and their time was running out. Harry was getting frustrated by his lack of progress.
Shaking her head, Ginny went back to reading while Harry wandered off into the larger part of the Chamber. She had noticed that when he got frustrated, it helped him to walk or jog around.
He came back twenty minutes later a bit sweatier, but in a better mood. "Sorry." Kissing her on top of the head, he headed towards their makeshift bathroom. "I'm going to take a quick shower."
When he came back, Ginny said, "I want to try something."
"Okay," Harry said as he sat down across from her.
"Close your eyes for me," Ginny commanded. When he complied, she continued, "Think about everything you know. What kind of places did Tom hide his Horcruxes?"
Harry was silent for a moment, thinking about everything over before he answered. "He used significant murders to create the Horcruxes. His father and grandfather, his uncle, he was going to use my murder to create his final Horcrux. He couldn't do that so after he was resurrected he used either the murder of Bertha Jones or the old caretaker to make Nagini into a Horcrux.
"He hid them in places where he felt powerful. The cave where he tortured those kids, his grandfather's home, his first real home here at Hogwarts." Harry fell silent for a moment. "He wouldn't use places where he felt weak. So he wouldn't use the orphanage or Albania as he felt his weakest there. He also used some of his Death Eaters. He gave the diary to Malfoy and he asked Regulus Black for help."
Ginny looked up. "Are there any other Death Eaters he may have turned to for help?"
"Bellatrix," Harry answered promptly. "She sees herself as his most loyal follower."
"Does she have an estate or house?" Ginny asked.
"I don't know," Harry replied opening his eyes. "Where would we find out?"
Ginny tapped her quill on the table. "Home ownership is a matter of public record. A copy would be in the Ministry and…I think the library. We should head up to the restricted section and see what we can find out."
"We also need to figure out a way around the Trace," Harry reminded her. "I don't really want you out there not being able to use magic."
Pulling out the Marauder's Map, Harry checked the library. "I don't see anyone around. Do you want to go now?"
A knock on the open door caused Hermione to turn around. "Ron, come on in."
"Hi, Hermione." Ron sat on the small bed closest to the door. Hermione sat on the other bed, next to her open trunk. He gestured at the trunk and the Beauxbatons' robe that Fleur had given to her. "So you are really doing this? Going to Beauxbatons?"
Hermione nodded. "I didn't want to at first, but after the Burrow was searched, it really made me think. Muggleborns all over the country are in hiding or have already left the country. Unfortunately, I am rather well known so I don't think I could hide very well. Finishing my education only makes sense. Once I've finished school, I think I will be in a much better place to help with the war effort."
"You'll like that," Ron said with a smile. "I know you hated not being able to go back to school. At least this way you'll be safe."
"I really did hate not going back," Hermione replied. "It will be fascinating to attend a different magical school." She stole a look over at Ron. "I'm a bit nervous about going to a different school. I hope I will be able to make friends. That was always difficult for me when I was younger."
"I think you'll be fine," Ron said. "Fleur said that some other Hogwarts students will be there, so you might know some people."
"I hope so," Hermione said. She smiled over at Ron. "So what about you? What did you finally decide to do?"
Ron rolled his eyes. "I don't know that I really decided, but I'm going to Romania with Charlie. My parents didn't want to send me to Hogwarts with Ginny still missing. The Spattergroit story is still working so they don't want to mess that up. If Ginny was targeted because she was involved with Harry, then I would be a target also. I've always gotten along well with Charlie, so my parents thought I should go to Romania."
"I'll miss you," Hermione said softly.
Ron looked pleased with her admission, but he didn't respond.
"Will you write to me?" she asked.
Casting another look around the library, Ginny said, "It's so weird to see it so empty."
Harry laughed softly. "I snuck in here during Christmas of my first year. I had just gotten my Invisibility Cloak and I wanted to try it out. We were trying to find out about Nicholas Flamel. I almost got caught by Snape and Filch." He saw her worried look. "Don't worry, I set Privacy and Silencing Charms this time."
Nodding, she headed down the closest aisle. After a few minutes, she called out softly, "Harry, look at this."
When he joined her, she showed him what she'd found. "These are histories of old Wizarding families. The Bones, Malfoys, Blacks, Dumbledores, Notts, Prewetts…here the Lestranges." She pulled the old dusty book off the shelf.
"Set it on the table, for now," Harry said. "I want to see if we can find something about the Trace."
Ginny nodded absently. "Where is your family's book?"
"What do you mean? Your family doesn't have a book. Maybe mine didn't either," Harry said as he looked over the names on the books.
"Most of these families are old Pureblood, wealthy families. We are Pureblood, but we are not wealthy. Your family is both very wealthy and Pureblood," Ginny explained as she continued looking over the books.
The couple searched the library for another hour before returning to their quarters. Ginny set the books on the table before pouring herself a glass of pumpkin juice. Sitting at the table, she grabbed the book they had found on old magic while Harry took the book on the Lestranges.
She looked up from her book to find Harry looking troubled. "What's wrong?"
"What did you mean about my family? Do you know something about them?"
Ginny paused. "The Potters are an old family. My mum taught us about the old, established families, the wizards who founded the Ministry and the old families who helped establish our world. The old families are like the nobility in the Muggle world. These days they don't have more power or anything, but they are families that the others look up to."
"So my family should have had a book in the library?" Harry asked.
"I think so," Ginny replied.
Harry groaned. "Why don't I know these things? My relatives always told me how worthless my father was and he was a layabout who didn't do anything."
"Didn't you get a book when you were visited? My roommate, Lauren, said when Professor McGonagall came and delivered her letter and explained about magic, she gave them a book. It explained about the magical world - the Ministry, Gringotts, Hogwarts. It explained accidental magic and underage magic. Didn't you get one?" Ginny asked.
Hurt flashed across his face. "No, Hagrid came and gave me my letter and took me to Diagon Alley. He took me to visit my vault, explained what happened to my parents and why I was famous, but I never got a book."
Ginny felt a flare of anger. Harry never seemed to catch a break. A thought suddenly crossed her mind. "Harry, did you try to get any money from your account?"
"No, I'm wanted by the Ministry," Harry replied in confusion.
"Sirius was able to get money from his account while he was on the run. I remember him telling me that he bought your Firebolt," Ginny said quietly.
Harry shot to his feet. "Kreacher!"
The old elf appeared with a pop. "Yes, master."
"Can I get money from my Gringotts account?" Harry asked.
"Yes, master. I can get money for you if you wish," Kreacher replied.
Harry groaned and dropped his head in his hands. "Yes, please. Can you get me some Muggle money as well?"
After Kreacher left, Harry turned to Ginny. "I really hate the Wizarding world some times."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. It is like I'm either a great hero or a disturbed attention seeker or undesirable number one. My first year the school first loves me because of who I am and my Quidditch skills, but I lose fifty points in one night and no one will talk to me. The whole school had no trouble believing I was the heir of Slytherin or trying to steal Cedric's thunder. I get tired of it after a while. Sometimes I feel like if I do defeat Tom, I'll get arrested for murder or something."
Ginny rose and walked around the table. Perching on the edge of the table, she dropped a kiss on top of his head and ran one of her hands through Harry's hair. "Love, if you could do anything at all after you defeat Tom, what would you do?"
Harry leaned into her touch and slid both of his arms around her hips. "I don't really know. I don't think I want to become an Auror anymore. I'm tired of fighting and I don't want to spend my life like this. Maybe I could play Quidditch or travel. I'd love to travel. I've never really been anyplace."
Looking up at her, he said, "I do know one thing I really want to do."
"Really?" Ginny asked him, uncertainty in her eyes.
Looking up into her eyes, Harry nodded. "I want to marry you."
He watched her anxiously through his lashes when she didn't answer right away. "Gin?"
"What…my mum is always instructing me on being a proper wife. She thinks I'm not ladylike enough. She hates that I play Quidditch and that I'm not good at cooking. She's always told me a proper wife would stay at home and raise a family."
Harry raised his hand and covered her mouth. "I don't want a housekeeper. I want you. If you want to play Quidditch all day and track mud all over the kitchen floor, that's fine with me. I've gotten pretty good at some of the household charms, plus I have a house elf. I think a proper wife would be my partner and together we could figure out what works for us."
"D-do you want to have children?"
Smiling dreamily, Harry replied, "Someday. Not for a while, though. That would be great, wouldn't it? I can just imagine us having a family together. I bet we'd have beautiful little red-headed girls."
Ginny tilted his head up and looked into his eyes. "So, you would marry me knowing I can't cook and I'm not good at cleaning?"
His smile was almost blinding. "Yes, I would. That would be incredible."
She couldn't help herself. She leaned down and kissed him. "Yes, it would be."
Ginny could feel Harry's gaze on her as she sat on the couch reading about the laws regarding underage magic.
"Sweetie, you need to actually look at your book every once in a while in order to figure out what it says," she said with amusement. She actually found it rather flattering that he couldn't keep his eyes off her.
He got up and moved over to the couch. "You are much more interesting to look at than the book."
Ginny laughed as he plucked the book from her hands and scooped her into his lap. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she kissed him deeply. He responded instantly, running his hands under her shirt. She moaned lightly as she turned to straddle him, pulling off her shirt. He smiled against her skin. "I love you, Ginny."
Much later that afternoon, Ginny cuddled up against him on the couch covered with one of the blankets from their bed. He made her feel so loved and so cherished.
She turned to face him after he placed a kiss on her temple. Brushing his hair out of his eyes, she said, "So I was actually making some headway prior to being interrupted."
"What did you find out?"
The book says the Trace is automatically placed on all magical children when they start school to detect magic around those under seventeen. It doesn't actually detect underage magic; it just detects magic around those underage. With magical families, it is impossible to prove cases of underage magic, considering the amount of magic that takes place each day in the home. It is simply assumed the parents will monitor their children appropriately. Hmm... My parents conveniently never mentioned that. Anyhow, the Trace was originally put into place to protect the International Statute of Secrecy, to prevent young people from using magic in Muggle communities. If the Muggleborn once contacted, chooses not to attend Hogwarts or any Wizarding school, their magical powers are bound so they can't use them," Ginny explained.
"What?" Harry exclaimed. "That's horrible. Their powers are bound?"
She nodded. "The feeling was that if they didn't want to be trained, they would be a danger to themselves or others. It did say that this is only rarely done."
"Well, that is good. I can't imagine having my powers bound," Harry said.
Ginny shivered at the thought. "I know that would be horrible. Anyhow, the Trace is deactivated under three circumstances – reaching the age of majority, marriage, or being proven to be a Squib."
She reached down next to the couch and grabbed the book she'd been reading. Flipping through the book, she found the page for which she was looking. "Here, it talks about betrothal rituals. I think what it is saying is that performing one of these rituals will deactivate the Trace."
Harry read the section she'd indicated. "Betrothal is like an engagement, right?"
She blushed at the thought. "It's a bit more. A betrothal is more formal, being as it is a magical contract. A regular engagement can be broken off for whatever reason, but a betrothal can only be broken in cases of death or infidelity."
"So why would you have a betrothal instead of a marriage?" Harry asked curiously.
"Betrothals have really fallen out of favour. They used to be used in the past for arranged marriages." Ginny reread the page. "It doesn't say that they can't still be used."
"Is there an age limit for betrothals or need for parental permission?" Harry asked.
"I don't think so, but it doesn't say," Ginny said. She sighed. "I wish there was some way we could ask someone about it."
"We'll keep it in mind for an option," Harry said. "I found out something as well. The Lestrange estate is located in York. The Lestranges came across with William the Conqueror and were given their estate in return for their services to the crown."
"So are we going to York?" Ginny asked.
"I figure that is the best place to start," Harry replied.
Irma Pince looked around in satisfaction as she entered the library in preparation for the spring term. This was how she like the library best, everything in order and free of students. There were few students she could actually tolerate. Those were the students that shared her reverence for books.
As the librarian walked behind her desk, she saw a glowing parchment. She examined the writing before stalking angrily out of the library. The bookish witch knew that Professor Snape would probably just dismiss her concerns, so she decided to visit Professor McGonagall. She rather respected Minerva McGonagall. She was a strict, yet fair teacher, who had no problems keeping the children in line.
Knocking on Minerva's open office door, Irma entered when Minerva looked up and beckoned her into the office.
"Good day, Irma. I hope your holidays went well."
"Yes, I'm glad I left before all of the unpleasantness," Irma replied.
Minerva barely suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Unpleasantness? Two professors were killed and a student kidnapped; that was more than unpleasant.
"Yes, indeed," she replied noncommittally. "So, what can I do for you?"
Her indignation returning full force, Irma brandished the parchment in front of Minerva. "There was a student in the restricted section over the holidays."
Minerva examined the parchment. Upon it was a list of books that had been taken and returned from the library. The books were on a wide range of topics - magical law, ancient magical rites, magical history, and oddly enough the Lestrange family.
She shifted uneasily in her chair. "Do you know who the student was?"
"Not yet. The parchment only records what books were taken, not who took them. I need to examine each book to discover who took them out of the library," Irma explained.
Minerva stood up. "Why don't we go now?"
The two witches returned to the library. Irma headed directly for the restricted section and pulled the books in question. Moving her wand above the books, she gasped.
"What is it, Irma?"
"I don't believe it. Two students handled these books – Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a wanted criminal. How did he get in the school?"
Minerva's nostrils flared and her lips thinned to hear one of her favourite students classified as a criminal. "I don't know." Reading over the book titles again, she asked, "Irma, do you know why they would pick these books?"
"I have no idea why they would want to read up on the Lestranges. That is simply a history of the Lestrange family. The other books – teenagers always think they can get around the rules. They are looking for a way around the Trace." Picking up one of the books, Irma said, "They were reading up on betrothals."
Not bothering to hide her shock, Minerva asked, "Would that work?"
"It is possible. However a betrothal is a very serious magical contract. If they attempt a betrothal and they are not committed, there will be repercussions. They may lose some magical ability, control over their magic, or worst case scenario they will die in the attempt. At least once every ten years or so a couple will attempt a betrothal with disastrous results. Usually someone will talk them out of it," Irma explained.
Thinking over what she had been told, Minerva asked, "Irma, is this the only copy of the list of books?"
"Yes, a copy used to go to the Headmaster, but Professor Dumbledore stopped that practice."
Nodding, Minerva turned to her long time colleague. "Obliviate!"
After casting a quick Incendio on the parchment and sending the books back to the shelves, Minerva said to the librarian, "I hope you had a good holiday."
Irma looked around uncertainly. What happened? Focusing on Minerva McGonagall, she realized that Minerva must have come for a post holiday visit.
Leading the way back to her tiny office, Irma prepared a cup of tea and plate of biscuits for her visitor and settled in for a nice chat.
Minerva escaped from the library almost an hour later, her thoughts jumbled.
Turning, Minerva saw Filius Flitwick standing in front of her. "Filius, I am glad to see you. I have a few questions for you."
"Certainly." Filius led the way to his office. "Did you hear that Edward Nott has been appointed to the Dark Arts post?"
"Nott? Well, I guess it could be worse. He was never in Azkaban and he does have children. What about Muggle Studies?"
"I haven't heard anything about Muggle Studies. I really rather hope that they won't continue that farce of a class. The things they have been teaching in the school. I only hope we can counteract all of these teachings once this is over," Filius replied sadly.
As they entered Filius's office, he cast Locking and Privacy Spells as well as obscuring the portraits in the room. Minerva raised an eyebrow at his precautions.
After they were both seated, Filius said, "Why don't you ask your questions first? I also have news."
Minerva relayed what she had learned from Irma. Filius looked concerned as he listened. "She is correct. We always have some older students who try to get around the Trace and the Ministry rules. I doubt Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have the same motivations as most of those students. Miss Weasley is in danger as she cannot perform magic. If they are able to get rid of the Trace, she will be much safer."
Minerva sighed. "If they do attempt a betrothal, what would the repercussions be?"
"Why do you assume there will be repercussions?" Filius asked in amusement. "The repercussions only come into play if they are not fully committed or they are not powerful enough to power the contract."
"So you are saying they might be able to perform a betrothal ritual?" Minerva asked.
Filius nodded. "I would not be surprised. Mr. Potter is a very powerful and capable wizard. Miss Weasley is not quite at his level, but is very powerful in her own right. She is magically stronger than at least two of her older brothers."
A rare smiled crossed Minerva's face. "That is very true. The love between the two of them is…a joy to behold. They are not very public about it, but it is there nonetheless."
Filius watched as Minerva mulled over that information. When she looked up, she looked much relieved.
"So what did you need to tell me?" she asked.
He handed her a note.
We found this hidden in the castle. It was used for an evil purpose, so I would recommend letting my brother, Bill, look it over. It is very important that none of the Death Eaters see this. You-Know-Who cannot know that you have this. Please let my family and Remus Lupin know that we are safe. Harry said to tell you that his last Charms lesson before Christmas break in his fourth year the two of you spent the time talking about his Summoning Charm. Professor McGonagall can verify that she and I met every Sunday evening during my second and third year for tea and biscuits.
Thank you to the both of you for everything,
Next to Ginny's signature was a lightning bolt. Minerva felt a surge of affection for the young couple. Looking up, she asked, "What did they leave you?"
Filius opened an ordinary bag to reveal Ravenclaw's diadem.
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