Chapter 17 : Chapter 16 - Consequences
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They had settled back in Godric's Hollow for the time being. Harry had not been severely injured in the fight, but his sleep the past two nights had been broken up by visions of Malfoy and the others involved in the fight being tortured. Harry rubbed his eyes as he recalled the visions from the first night.
Draco had managed to Apparate out of the shop while the Aurors were busy with the Muggles outside. Narcissa met him in the front hallway of Malfoy Manor, but instead of being allowed to take him to his room or even take him to be treated at St Mungo's, she'd been forced to watch him be taken in for an audience with the Dark Lord.
Harry had woken screaming after watching Draco collapse in a puddle of blood as Voldemort refused to allow his obviously broken leg to be treated before questioning him about the night's activities. Luckily for Draco, Voldemort had expended most of his rage by killing Marcus Flint, the first Death Eater to return. Upon hearing that not only had five of his Death Eaters been captured and left for the Aurors, but that Harry Potter was responsible, Voldemort killed Marcus without a second thought. Harry had lost count of the number of time the Cruciatus had been used over the next hour or so. He'd woken from his vision vomiting and shivering. While he wanted Draco punished, the extent of Voldemort's revenge made him physically ill. Ginny had held him for hours.
Pulled from his reverie, Harry looked up. He smiled as he stood and walked over to his wife. She looked up at him uncertainly as she touched her now dark brown hair with auburn highlights. She hadn't changed the length, but her hair was styled differently. He couldn't tell exactly what she'd had done, but he liked it.
Walking up to her, he cupped her cheek with his hand. "You look beautiful."
Looking up into his eyes, Ginny searched them. "You like it?"
Twirling her hair around his hand, he leaned in and kissed her softly. "Yes, you look great. Do you like it?"
Looking over her shoulder into the mirror, Ginny reached up and touched her hair. "I think I do. I like the colour."
After they paid, the couple left the hair salon hand-in-hand.
Narcissa waited anxiously for her dear friend Cordelia Zabini to join her in the Zabini's smallest sitting room. Even in her anxiety, Narcissa eyed the luxurious setting covetously. Cordelia had made a career of marrying for money. Each of her husbands seemed to die mysteriously, leaving her a fortune. The Zabini home, like Grimmauld Place, was in Muggle London. But unlike the Black family home, the Zabini home was clean and richly appointed.
While she had not wanted to leave Draco, Narcissa knew that she needed to see Cordelia. The five boys who had been caught by Potter had been released earlier that morning with a warning from the Ministry. Narcissa knew their true punishment would be awaiting them at Malfoy Manor, so she had agreed to meet Cordelia here.
"I've got it," Cordelia said excitedly as she entered the room. Cordelia reached into her pocket and pulled out two pictures. The first picture clearly showed Harry Potter with his wand drawn, facing off against and unseen opponent. Narcissa smiled when she saw the second picture. Harry was standing in the doorway and looking back over his shoulder into the shop, his face clearly seen. His arm was wrapped around a girl with blond hair. The girl was looking outside, not toward the camera so her face was not visible.
"How did you get these?" Narcissa asked curiously.
Cordelia laughed. "One of Ken's men. He was able to get the pictures from the Muggle security system."
Naricssa nodded. Ken had been one of Cordelia's husbands, her fourth if Narcissa remembered correctly. Ken had been a Pureblood, but he had created a network of Muggle associates to do most of his dirty work. Narcissa had always had the impression that Ken's men were criminal, but she didn't know for certain.
"Did he agree to the plan?" Cordelia asked.
Narcissa nodded. "Bellatrix and Lucius convinced him that it was a good idea. Pansy was more than happy to help. She will be meeting with the reporter tomorrow. Severus has agreed to let her go into Hogsmeade for the day. Luckily, she thought ahead and kept some of the girl's hair for just this occasion."
Ginny hummed quietly as she looked around the store. Grocery shopping was one of the chores she had always enjoyed as a child and one she found easy to do in the Muggle world. She still had trouble with Muggle appliances, so cooking and cleaning were difficult for her, but shopping was easy. She loved the way Godric's Hollow had so seamlessly melded the magical and Muggle worlds. She and Harry had talked about living here eventually and Ginny could see herself living in this community. After she completed her grocery shopping, she ducked into the magical general store next door to the store.
The general store was small, but well maintained. They carried parchment and quills, owl treats, and a small selection of grocery items such as butterbeer and pumpkin juice. At a small counter, owl order forms were available to order potion ingredients. Ginny picked up some butterbeer and pumpkin juice before she saw them.
The small selection of magical magazines and newspapers were plastered with pictures of both Harry and herself. Some of the pictures were older pictures, but there were more recent pictures of both of them. She felt the blood drain from her face when she saw her own picture on the cover of the current edition of Witch Weekly, along with the claim of an exclusive interview.
With a shaking hand, she picked up not only the magazine, but also the Daily Prophet. A picture of Harry fighting in the bookstore was on the front page. Turning the paper over, she saw a picture of her and Harry walking away from the bookstore. The headline read: Potter Gone Wild?
Adding both the magazine and the paper to her purchases, she hurried back to the cottage.
Harry hurried back to the house after spending the morning visiting his parents' grave. He was happy to see that Sirius's plaque had been installed. The young wizard had told them about their stay in London and the sword lessons he and Ginny had been taking. He had even talked about the Lestranges and where else they might be hiding the cup of Hufflepuff.
It was a cold late February morning and snow was piled up along the roads. Harry smiled when he remembered Ginny's amazement at the snow ploughs that cleared the roads. She had never seen a snow plough before. While she and her brothers had to occasionally dig out the snow around the Burrow, for any major snow clearing her parents had simply Vanished the snow.
Entering the house, Harry walked through to the kitchen. He was surprised to see Ginny was home. The groceries had been left on the kitchen table, but Ginny wasn't there. He started to feel a bit nervous. Grabbing the cold food, he threw it in the cold pantry quickly and with a wave of his wand, sent the rest of the groceries to the cupboards.
Harry walked cautiously through the house with his wand drawn. He found Ginny in his father's study. She was curled up on the couch reading a magazine with Sparkle curled up on her lap. She didn't look up right away when he entered the room.
"Gin," Harry said softly as he approached her. He knelt down next to the couch. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
When she looked up at him, Harry could see tear tracks down her face. His heart turned over as he reached out for her hand. "What happened?
Wordlessly, she handed him the Daily Prophet. He groaned at the pictures of him on the front page. Scanning the article, his face darkened as he read how he had ruthlessly attacked Draco Malfoy while Draco attempted to apprehend him, after Harry had killed the Auror. A picture of a tortured and wane looking Draco was on the inside of the paper. The article built upon all of the previous articles that had portrayed Harry as a disturbed and deranged individual. Draco on the other hand was portrayed as the son of an upstanding family. He was Quidditch captain as well as Head Boy at Hogwarts.
Harry snorted contemptuously at his school rival. He eyes darkened as he read the allegations against Ginny. The paper alleged that Harry was with an unidentified young woman and Ginny was nowhere to be seen.
"They think I left you?" He asked angrily.
She handed him the magazine with her picture on the cover. She had opened it to the interview. He read the article slowly.
Meeting Ginny Weasley
By Liz Symthe
I met Ginny Weasley as she left a Dark party. This was the first of many surprises about this beautiful, sensual young woman. Dark parties are a relatively new phenomena. They are parties for young people who, while they are not so-called Death Eaters, they support the Pureblood agenda of the Dark Lord's supporters.
Surprised that the daughter of a prominent family of blood traitors would be attending a Dark party, I asked her about that. She explained that she had been exposed to many new ideas over the first term of this school year. Her well publicized liaisons with prominent Slytherins Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini showed her that Slytherins are not evil. She left Hogwarts to explore her options as a young Pureblood witch.
Ginny declined to comment on the deaths of Hogwarts Professors Alecto and Amycus Carrow, except to say that she did not know what had happened and she was sorry to hear about their deaths. She felt they made a positive addition to the Hogwarts staff. When I pointed out she was wanted for questioning in connection with their deaths, she intimated that was no longer an issue.
I was a bit skeptical of her sudden change in attitude, but as she explained it was the culmination of many things. Her recently publicized involvement in the Chamber of Secrets during her first year, was her first introduction to so-called Dark Magic. Ginny shared that she actually conversed with the preserved memory of the Dark Lord on a regular basis.
Ginny stated that exposure caught her interest. Over the past five years she has privately sought out information about Dark Magic, but she knew that her family would not support her interest so she left Hogwarts to strike out on her own.
When asked about her alleged romance with Harry Potter, Ginny downplayed that relationship. She admits that she had a crush on him for several years and she briefly dated him last spring, but denies that it was a meaningful relationship.She denied any interest in a serious relationship at this point in time. This is another point of contention between Ginny and her family.
Ginny shared her upcoming plans with me. She recently posed for Playwizard. That issue will be available for sale next week. She is enjoying life in London with her new friends. I commend her for seeing through the misguided teachings of her family and taking her place in society as a Pureblood witch supporting a Dark agenda.
Ginny watched his face change as he read through the article. When he finished reading, he tossed the magazine aside. Sitting on the couch, he lifted her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her. She relaxed slowly into his embrace as he ran his hand through her hair and gently kissed the top of her head.
"I'm sorry, love," he said softly.
Speaking for the first time since he'd arrived home, Ginny said brokenly, "Why are they doing this?"
"I don't know, but I promise that someday everyone will know the truth," Harry said and he held her as she cried.
Neville slammed the lid of his trunk shut. "Did you see Parkinson laughing?"
He had been ranting since breakfast when the first copies of the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly made their way into the Great Hall.
Seamus nodded. "The only good thing is it looked like Harry kicked Malfoy's arse."
A knock on the door caused them to turn as Demelza, Lavender, and Parvati crowded in the doorway.
Neville waved them in. "Come on in, we are just talking about those horrible articles."
"I hate that some people actually believe the articles," Demelza said. "Ginny would never do that. I hope Pansy didn't really pose for Playwizard. The pictures will be out there forever."
"I know," Parvati said as she sat down on Dean's bed. "I wish there was some way we could let her know we believe her."
Demelza turned to Neville. "Do you think Luna's dad would be willing to publish a story defending them? I know he's been writing stories in support of Harry. I just hate that Ginny is getting slammed all over the place and she can't defend herself."
"I can ask her," Neville said. "I'd like to feel that we are doing something."
His face lit up suddenly. "Kreacher!"
A small pop heralded the arrival of the small elf. Kreacher had appeared after the holidays and told them to call him if they needed help. He would still provide food and potions, even if Ginny was no longer with them.
"Yes, young master. Do you require Kreacher's services?"
Neville knelt down next to the elf. "Kreacher, is Ginny okay?"
The elf's face dropped. "Mistress is unhurt, but upset about the articles. Master is angry at the bad men who lied about Mistress in the paper."
"So Harry and Ginny are together?" Seamus asked.
Kreacher's face crumpled and he ran toward the closest chest of drawers and slammed his fingers in the drawer.
Demelza gasped. "Kreacher, please don't. We won't tell anyone."
Nodding, Kreacher kept his eyes downcast.
"Kreacher," Neville said quietly. "Can you tell Ginny that we believe in her and we support her?"
"We really hate all of the horrible stories about her. We know Ginny and we know she would never do such a thing," Demelza said. "Please tell her that."
Kreacher nodded. "Mistress will be happy to hear her friends believe in her."
Justin greeted Hermione with a smile as she left her classroom. "Good afternoon. How was Ancient Runes?"
"Really good. Madame Broussard is such a good teacher," Hermione responded with a smile. "I was going to the library. Do you want to join me?"
"Sure," Justin said as they turned down the hall. "I have a Herbology essay to work on and I think Mandy will be there as well."
Hermione grimaced slightly. "I think she's trying to stay out of the common room."
Over the past week, the former Hogwarts students had split over the issue of Harry and Ginny. Lauren and Natalie were continuing to defend Ginny, while Mandy and Lisa were convinced of her guilt. Surprisingly, Hermione and Justin were undecided.
Hermione was concerned about her best friend. She worried about him fighting Malfoy. He should be searching for Horcruxes, not picking fights with Malfoy in London. Had Ginny really had enough and run away? Hermione really didn't think so, but knowing the Weasley temper, she could see the possibility. Hadn't Neville and Seamus said they had destroyed all of the Polyjuice Potion?
Hermione sighed as she sat down at one of the smaller tables in the large two story library. Justin sent her a searching glance as he put down his bag and sat opposite of her. "What was that sigh for?"
"Just the whole situation," Hermione replied wearily. "I wish I knew what was going on. I love Harry like a brother and he is one of my best friends. I don't want to think badly of him."
"But...?" Justin prodded.
"But he does have a temper and if he thought or knew that Ginny was...exploring Dark Magic, he might go after Malfoy," Hermione said reluctantly.
"Would she?" Justin asked curiously. "I don't really know Ginny. I know of her of course. She's pretty and popular, but she had dated quite a bit. I heard she didn't treat Michael or Dean that well toward the end."
"I don't know. Ginny is one of the few girl friends that I have. We don't have all that much in common, but we sort of...banded together in face of all of the boys in the Weasley house. I've always seen her as more of a little sister. I just...I keep thinking, I haven't been a good friend to her. If Ron or Harry needed me, I dropped her. This summer, I know she must have been hurt when Harry broke up with her, but I didn't... I was so focused on our mission that I thought it had been a good move on Harry's part," Hermione said miserably.
"There's something else, isn't there?" Justin asked softly.
"I keep thinking about last Christmas. Ron got so jealous that I had briefly dated Viktor Krum in fourth year that he started dating Lavender Brown. I was so hurt because I thought that...Ron and I had started something, so I took Cormac McLaggen to the Christmas party because I knew it would hurt Ron." Hermione blushed as she thought of her motivations. "That thought keeps coming back to me. Maybe if Ginny thought Harry had left her or she wanted to lash out at him...who could she go after that would hurt him worse than Malfoy?"
Ginny laughed as she watched Sparkle jump around chasing coloured bubbles. Harry had taught her the spell and she loved to watch Sparkle playing. In the weeks since Kreacher had brought the messages of support from her friends, Ginny was feeling much better about herself. Harry had been nothing but supportive and loving, which of course helped a lot. The two of them had been travelling a lot the past few weeks searching for the last Horcrux. They had visited the Lestrange mansion in France as well as several other locations in their search.
She had read Dumbledore's journals and for a time was concerned about Harry's apparent fascination with the Deathly Hallows. After spending quite a bit of time talking about the possibilities, Harry faced up to the fact that he needed to concentrate on the Horcruxes, not the Hallows. His resolve had been tested when he witnessed Voldemort taking Dumbledore's wand from his grave, but as Ginny pointed out, Harry didn't think that he could have broken open his former mentor's grave.
Ginny turned as Harry entered the room. He leaned down and kissed her before rubbing Sparkle on the top of the head.
"Hi. How was your trip to the graveyard?"
"Good." Harry smiled as he dropped down onto the floor next to her. "That sounds really weird, doesn't it? A good trip to the graveyard. Sirius's stone is in place and it looks really good. I think he and my dad would both like that."
"I think they would have." Ginny smiled as she leaned into him. "They seemed like they were more like brothers than best friends. At least judging from the pictures all over this house."
"Yeah, I wish they had some photo albums or something. I've never seen a picture of my grandparents before," Harry said.
"Well, I bet there are some in your vault. That's where all of the valuable stuff would be," Ginny replied.
"I never really looked around my vault," Harry said. "I was so amazed that I had anything. It didn't even dawn on me to inventory it or anything. I know that S-Sirius's stuff was added to my vault, but I haven't seen it in a few years."
Ginny squeezed his hand as he tripped over his godfather's name. He hugged her to him before he stiffened.
"Merlin, it can't be."
"Harry? What's going on?" Ginny asked as Kreacher popped into view.
"You keep valuables in a vault," he said with a smile.
Her eyes widened as he turned to his elf.
"Kreacher, does Bellatrix have a vault?"
Harry smiled. "Is there any way we can get into it?"
"I can get into Miss Bellatrix's vault, Master."
"Really?" Harry exclaimed.
"Yes, Master. It is the same vault she's had since she was a child. You are now head of the House of Black and as your elf, I have access to the vault," Kreacher explained.
"If I describe something to you, can you bring it back to me?" Harry asked.
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