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Chapter 16 : Love and Rejection
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Harry’s heart began beating harder after Gawain Robards had finished speaking from the head of the table. The Order of the Phoenix meeting had already dealt with many of the major issues that had occupied Harry’s psyche, but there was one personal issue that Harry wanted more than anything to bring up. He quietly drummed his fingers on the long oak table inside the kitchen of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, glancing over at Ron and Hermione who were looking around the table without really looking at anything at all. Some members of the Order began to ascend from their seats which prompted Harry to speak quite forcefully to stop the conclusion of the meeting.
‘I’ve got something to add,’ Harry said in as a strong a voice as he could muster.
Gawain and a few other members of the Order looked somewhat surprised, Aberforth merely placing his hand upon his chin as he leaned back in his seat. Gawain sat back down, waving his hand in front of him for Harry to commence. Harry had not thought of how he would relate his thoughts to the rest of the Order, finding himself tense up as the twenty or so faces all curiously turned to face his him. Harry saw Fabian Prewett – Mrs. Weasley’s nephew – whisper something to Emmeline Vance who nodded silently.
‘At the Auror Office we’ve had to look in to a case – a case regarding Nicolas Flamel’s former caretaker, Mrs. Gibbons... she was murdered a couple of months ago,’ began Harry hesitantly. He looked over at Ron who nodded his head, giving Harry a bit of extra courage as he proceeded. ‘In the process I’ve... come to know a lot about Nicolas Flamel – his past, his importance. All in reference to try and pin-point why exactly he’s in the predicament that he’s in.’ Harry marveled for a moment at how realistic his white lie was sounding, internally smiling at the concerned and serious faces of those at the table.
‘The Order had been of some assistance to Nicolas Flamel in the past, I recollect,’ squeaked Dedalus Diggle.
‘Yeah,’ agreed Harry. ‘And through all that research, I stumbled upon something interesting. Something that I believe, the Death Eaters would be after.’ Hermione’s eyes widened slightly as she stared at Harry unblinking. ‘Do you think it’s possible... that the Death Eaters are after the Eye of the Posterus?’
Harry could feel the tension rise in the room, a few members turning to one another, muttering things that Harry could not hear. Gawain was shaking his head while Mrs. Weasley looked to her husband in confusion. Aberforth did not move, still looking directly at Harry, his stare penetrating right through him.
‘That can’t be though Harry!’ said Doreen Vance incredulously. ‘Put simply, there’s no such thing!’
‘Harry, I’m afraid she’s right,’ added Gawain. He gestured to the rest of the table. ‘The Order went through this last time, am I correct?’
‘Absolutely,’ chimed in Hestia Jones powerfully. ‘Minerva would attest to that if she were here. Look Harry, I know you want to find Flamel as much as the rest of us do, but believing in entirely fictional objects is not going to bring us any closer to him!’
‘But don’t you think –’
‘The Eye of the Posterus does not exist – we were put in charge of guarding Flamel and we never, ever found any trace of evidence that would prove its existence,’ interrupted Emmeline Vance.
‘With all due respect Emmeline,’ said Mrs. Weasley respectfully, ‘we never did actually find anything to prove that it doesn’t exist either.’
‘I’ll believe it when I see it Molly,’ responded Emmeline sharply to which Mrs. Weasley shrugged.
‘How could you discount something that –’
‘It’s merely a legend Harry,’ interrupted Fabian. ‘We really can’t be too focused on things of that nature. Flamel’s disappearance has nothing to do with a fictional object.’ Harry could feel himself getting hot as he was interrupted for the second time.
‘Look, Harry – I’m not trying to discount what you’ve uncovered,’ began Gawain slowly. ‘Last time, the Order went through a long period of time where we did believe in the Eye, so much so that we risked our lives to save Flamel and keep him and the Eye out of Lord Voldemort’s hands. Still, what you’re saying is something that has already been dealt with. Voldemort and the Death Eaters stopped looking for the Eye as they too realized it did not exist. Thank you for speaking your mind, but I have to stop you there. It’s a road that we’ve already been down... further pursuit of it only leads you to one place... A dead end.’
‘So what you’re saying is that we should leave some leads unturned?’ asked Harry in a rush. ‘Flamel disappears under strange circumstances... do you not think that the Death Eaters are involved in some way? I’m telling you that the Eye –’
‘ – is not real!’ Harry heard slight murmurs of laughter coming from around the table as Gawain Robards frustratingly interjected. Harry’s previously drumming fingers had now clenched themselves in to a fist. ‘As much as we do appreciate the input –’
‘THEN LET ME FINISH!’
The table fell silent. Harry had risen from his seat, his hands outstretched on the table in front of him. For some reason, he was breathing heavily, a bead of sweat dripping down the back of his neck.
‘I’m as much an Order member as anyone here! And seeing as how I have been right about things in the past, I think everyone here needs to open up their minds and see the entire picture! Flamel is missing! There’s a reason for it! Until we know what that reason is, I suggest we follow every and any lead that is presented at this table – no matter how outlandish it seems to you!’
‘I agree with Harry,’ came the whispery, yet commanding voice of Aberforth. Having not spoken at all during the meeting, the gravity and weight of his speech seemed to overwhelm all at the table as everyone looked in his direction. ‘Some things go beyond logic and in to the realm of faith. I believe there is an Eye of the Posterus. It is something that the Death Eaters have longed for before... who’s to say that thirst has been quenched?’
‘Aberforth... you do realize what –’ began Gawain but he was cut off by the hand of Aberforth.
‘I do. That’s why I don’t expect all of us here to believe it as an absolute. But do not disregard it. Ignorance is for the foolish. What one of us says must be heard by all – it is irrelevant if you think it’s right. Harry might not always have all the answers... but somehow... in the end... he makes it right.’
Still standing up, his hands outstretched, Harry looked across the table at Aberforth, his stare not wavering. Gawain glanced at Aberforth, closing his eyes tightly after he had done so while Aberforth simply stared out in to the center of the table, paying no attention to all of the skeptical expressions of those situated around it.
‘Very well,’ said Gawain quietly. ‘Until we can disprove anything, keep it in mind. We are so close to ridding ourselves of the Death Eaters forever and though it would obviously be positive if we could bring Flamel home and prove his innocence, it is not our primary objective. I’ll bring further information from the Aurors when we meet again next month. Until then continue to survey our suspected locations where possible Death Eater meetings could take place.’
Everyone got up from the table at once, heading for the fireplace in the adjacent room. Among the commotion, Harry set out to find Aberforth though it was very difficult to navigate the small kitchen space. He could see Ron and Hermione side-stepping the Vances in their attempt to make their way over to Harry.
‘Where’s Aberforth,’ Harry asked them as they met with him.
‘I-I don’t know Harry. You could catch him in the drawing room perhaps,’ answered Hermione.
By the time Harry had reached the drawing room, many of the Order members had already left via the Floo Network. However, as the line cleared and Harry’s sightlines in to the room improved, he noticed the long beard of Aberforth, seeing him grab a fist full of Floo Powder as he stood beside the fireplace.
‘Aberforth!’ cried Harry from the threshold behind Dedalus Diggle.
Aberforth had just tossed in his handful of Floo powder in to the roaring fireplace, an eruption of emerald green flames illuminating the drawing room. Looking up, he noticed Harry as he leaned over Dedalus. As they locked eyes, Harry saw Aberforth’s smile creep up through the depths of his beard, barely noticeable but there all the same. He nodded stiffly at Harry before entering the fireplace and disappearing in the flames.
Harry charged forward, leaping over a small boulder, his wand extended in front of him. As soon as he landed, he retracted in to a crouching position, shielding himself from the blasts all around him. Pieces of rock splintered as the curse hit, bits and portions of the debris falling all around him as Harry breathlessly paused for a minute as he planned his next move.
‘I’ve got to keep moving,’ he thought to himself.
He peered over the boulder he was situated behind and caught a glimpse of his two attackers, ducking back down quickly to avoid being noticed.
‘Stupefy!’ he exclaimed, pointing his wand in the first figure’s direction, immediately hitting the second with a Stunning Spell after the first had fallen with a crash.
He ran down the narrow passageway that served as sort of a funnel extending from the larger, boulder-filled room. Harry quickly muttered an illuminating spell, his wand tip brightening the few feet in front of him as he continued down the low ceilinged passageway that seemed as if it was carved out of rock. Before he knew it, Harry had arrived at fork in the passage; there were two separate paths available for him to continue travelling down. He hastily made the decision to travel down the left one, not wanting to waste any more time.
Jogging, Harry found that after only a few paces, the room began to grow in height, the dark ceiling extending upwards and the width of the new path extending outwards. He came to a full stop as he noticed a broomstick propped up beside the wall. Before he could even begin to think of what it was there for, a streak of red light ripped past his head, Harry rooted to the spot for a split second in his surprise.
He leaped for the broomstick, propping it under him and kicking off from the ground as hard as he could as more beams of light barely missed him. The room was quite cold, the iciness making his eyes water as he struggled to see what was in front of him. On either side of him, the skeletal, illuminated figures continually shot spells in his direction, many of the figures emerging from seemingly random places along the dark wall. Harry dodged a low barrier, the passageway getting even narrower as he continued to fly forward.
Looking ahead, he could see two of the figures emerge from either side of the passage. Harry held his breath; he knew he would be an easy target for their spells at such a close range as the passageway had grown extremely narrow. Thinking fast, he glanced down at the ground that surprisingly was a lot closer to him than he thought.
Harry pulled back on his broom handle, rising upwards as fast as he could. He powered through the force of gravity, slowly turning around to the point of him being upside down. He continued to pull back in his full circle, a red flash of light shooting over his head as he began to straighten out. As he made his way to the ground, he jumped off his broom at the last possible moment, hitting the ground harder than he expected, but still finding the time to watch his broom collide with the side of the passageway and fall innocently to the ground.
The two figures jumped down from their perch along the top of the passageway, looking towards the broom in apparent confusion. Harry did not waste his opportunity.
‘Expelliarmus! Stupefy!’ he yelled, pointing his wand at each figure in turn.
The passageway illuminated again and swallowed the two figures in a brief burst of bright light; a light so strong that it forced Harry to shield his eyes. Keeping his wand in front of him, Harry ran forward towards the red blinking lights situated on the ground in the form of a circle. He jumped in to the ring of light, resisting the temptation to rest once he had done so.
Everything around him was silent, the room reverting back to darkness as the only source of light came from the red blinking lights. He looked around him in every which direction but detected no sense of life or movement. He took a sideways glance at the opposing ring of red lights situated a fair distance away and saw that no one was standing in the middle as he was. For at least a full, agonizing minute, nothing happened. Harry began to let down his wand in front of him, finally catching his breath as he looked around in anticipation.
Then, the sound of footsteps caught his attention. Emerging from the shadows came the figure of his opposition. Florian – panting loudly and looking quite disheveled, his hair askew and his sweat making him appear to glisten in the red light – looked up, staring right at Harry who extended his wand. He brushed his brown hair out of his eyes and grimaced at his own tiredness, but he too extended his wand arm.
‘Impedimenta!’ he gasped.
Harry jumped to his left to avoid the incoming curse. Noticing that Florian was still
gasping for breath, Harry quickly formulated a plan.
‘Expelliarmus!’ yelled Harry, purposely aiming his curse a couple of feet away from where Florian was standing, causing Florian to dive.
Harry turned on his heel and ran back down the passageway that he had previously traveled on while riding the broom. He heard the distant groan of Florian as he got back to his feet, Harry hearing a curse crash in to the wall behind him. Back inside the narrow passageway, Harry illuminated his wand tip and feverishly searched for his fallen broom. After locating it, he extinguished his wand and grabbed the handle, continuing to run down the passage as he heard Florian’s panting breath and heavy footsteps growing louder.
Harry murmured a silencing charm at his feet after a few quick paces which enabled him to kick off from the ground on his broom in virtual silence. Remembering how the illuminated figures had stood atop the narrow passageway, Harry searched for the ledges that they stood on. Below him, he could see the illuminated wand of Florian searching the passageway for Harry who quietly leapt off his broom, crouching down on the ledge high above where Florian stood. Harry saw Florian pause, seeing him place his hands on his knees, his wand light illuminating the ground around him. Harry did not hesitate.
He could watch the curse in seemingly slow motion, watching as it knocked Florian from his crouched position, seeing the illuminated wand fly forward and away from its owner. There was a brief pause of silence before the architecture of the entire room began to dissolve around him. Harry found himself calmly rise up from the ledge he was standing on, pleasantly drifting back down to the ground that had now been illuminated by the emerging, bright lights.
‘Very, very good,’ came the voice of Williamson who had just returned to duty at the Auror Department the previous day.
Now back on the ground, Harry turned to see Williamson pacing towards Harry in the massive, open Simulation Room, Florian’s Unit Head Richter walking at his side. Florian was just now getting to his feet, sweat dripping down on to his, damp, but otherwise impressive-looking robes.
‘Excellent use of your surroundings, Potter – that was one of the goals of this exercise. However, let’s try to work on those non-verbal curses. It will increase your ability to stealthily take out your opponents and draw less attention to yourself.’
‘A Hufflepuff would know that,’ panted Florian. ‘Not a Gryffindor... just walking blindly in to a situation without thinking it through.’ Florian winked and nodded at Harry, obviously disappointed that he had lost the duel to him, but still trying to take his loss in good spirits.
‘Time to work on your endurance, Ducats,’ chimed in Richter forcefully. He was a full foot shorter than the lanky Williamson, his dark eyes matching his shoulder length black hair. ‘As I believe Williamson here said, your approach through the maze was conventional and more safe than Harry’s was but still... you did not get to the end point first.’
The foursome walked towards the single door that served as the entrance of the Simulation Room, Harry noticing that the rest of both Williamson’s and Richter’s Auror units stood patiently waiting in two, single file lines. Harry caught the eye of Ron who was three back from the front and gave him a thumbs up to which Ron made a sarcastic, unimpressed gesture towards Florian. As they reached the two lines of Aurors waiting their turn to enter the simulation, Harry could overhear Richter’s words of advice for his Auror, Florian.
‘There are a few things you could have done,’ he stated sternly yet understandingly. ‘For one, you could have used a quick human reveal charm. I’m sure you’re well aware of it – Homenum Revelio.’ Richter guided Florian out of the Simulation Room, but Harry’s attention was grabbed by a couple of Aurors waiting in Richter’s line.
‘Yeah, good luck with that,’ said a tall, blond wizard who eyed Florian as he exited the Simulation Room. ‘Harry here probably wouldn’t even show up if he used that charm! Being this good at such a young age? He’s got to be more than human or something, eh Harry?’
Slightly embarrassed from the older Auror’s flattering comments, Harry opened his mouth to protest, however, he instantly found himself unable to speak. It was as if an invisible bolt of lightning had struck Harry on the top of his head, his entire body seemingly frozen.
‘Isn’t that right Harry?’ came the voice of the blond Auror again, snapping Harry out of his trance. He was looking at Harry as if he was some unique, awe-inspiring artifact rather than a fellow Auror.
‘Er... yeah. Wh-What exactly do you mean by that?’
‘By – what?’ the blond Auror asked confusingly looking to the equally as tall yet older Auror to his right who offered no response.
‘The human reveal charm!’ Harry said as his excitement began to bubble to the surface. ‘Homenum Revelio! What did you mean when you said that I wouldn’t show up?’
‘H-Harry it was just a joke,’ the blond wizard replied, not having the chance to say anymore as Harry cut him off.
‘No! I mean does it actually not work sometimes? Can it be wrong or something?’
‘Well... well yeah. Didn’t you know that?’ Harry shook his head as Williamson looked over to gain an understanding of what was going on. ‘Yeah. I mean... if someone is out of the range of the charm... it doesn’t work on non-humans or half-humans or anything like that.’
‘And what would constitute a non-human or a half-human?’ pressed Harry. Somehow he already knew the answer before the blond wizard replied; he only needed to confirm his suspicions.
‘Er... a ghost... a ghoul... mermaids... werewolves...’
Harry’s stomach did a somersault. In a second, Harry made a beeline for his Unit Head who was looking at the approaching Harry curiously.
‘Sir, we’ve got to go. Now.’ Williamson looked taken aback for a split second before regaining his composure. Many of the Aurors in line now looked over at the scene in front of them.
‘Potter... What do you mean? Go where?’
‘Mr. Flamel’s caretaker... Mrs. Gibbons’ house,’ replied Harry confidently. ‘Her murderer is still there.’
‘Wh-What?!’ Williamson stared in to Harry’s eyes that were strongly fixated upon his Unit Head. After a brief pause, Williamson’s shocked expression vanished, his mouth closed and he nodded stiffly. ‘Lead the way then. You three and Weasley – follow us.’
Harry nodded excitingly, eagerly leading the charge out of the Simulation Room. He made his way to the fireplaces once he had left the corridor that led to the Simulation Room. Many Aurors looked over their cubicles at the small cavalry led by Harry, clearly in wonder at the scene in front of them.
‘And where is everyone off to?’ growled a voice Harry knew to be Mosteban’s.
‘You better come along with us,’ Williamson replied.
‘Is it something to do with Mr. Malfoy?’ Mosteban asked, as he roughly paced beside Williamson, his long dark, leathery cloak flowing behind him.
‘No, Mr. Malfoy is fine. He has just assimilated himself with the Death Eaters and they seem to have accepted him. This is something of Mr. Potter’s doing.’
‘Oh, this should be rather... interesting...’ Mosteban said sarcastically, making Harry’s hair on the back of his neck stand on end. ‘Doncaster! Higgins! Come with me!’ He gestured to a pair of older Aurors who immediately dropped what they were doing and followed the Head Auror.
‘Now – we can use the Floo Network to enter Mrs. Gibbons’ house,’ began Williamson quickly. ‘I can alter the seal that doesn’t allow anyone to enter or exit the house for a moment so that we can enter. Ready?’
Harry nodded anxiously, jumping in to the emerald green flames after Williamson had given the address to the Gibbons household. When Harry entered the living room of the house, he saw that it had been unchanged in its appearance since the night of the murder – the red velvety drapes were still hanging open, the furniture was either turned over or smashed to pieces and the portrait of Willard the Worrier still hung beside the fireplace though Willard himself was nowhere to be seen. The only aspect of the room that was different was the implementation of a thin blue strip of light that lined the outside of the room along the walls. Undoubtedly, this was the seal Williamson had spoke of.
‘Now that we’re here Potter, could you tell me exactly what we are doing?’ asked Williamson once the rest of his unit and Mosteban with his two Aurors had entered the living room.
‘The killer is still in here. I’m sure of it.’ Mosteban shook his head as he glanced at Williamson and turned around, inspecting the mantle of the fireplace. ‘No! I’m sure of it!’
‘How are you so sure Harry? If the murderer really was in here, you really don’t think we would have found them by now?’ Harry took a deep breath and spoke all at once.
‘You’re sure that the seal has never been taken down since the night of the murder?’
‘Absolutely positive,’ replied Williamson.
‘Alright then... Ron – do you remember when we were walking up the path to this house on the night of the murder?’ Ron nodded his head quickly. ‘Do you remember the pair of wizards who were in front of us? One of them was talking about how he hasn’t been able to get much sleep over the past month... he was pale... his face was lined and scratched...’
‘Oh that’s Flynn!’ exclaimed Rotherglen, a witch who Harry knew was also in Williamson’s unit. ‘He is a werewolf you know.’
‘Hardly groundbreaking – we all know this about Flynn!’ roared Mosteban. ‘I oversee each and every Auror that serves in my Department – you don’t think I would know information such as this?’
‘Then you would know,’ continued Harry, his excitement overriding his rising temper, ‘that when we used the human reveal charm that night – Flynn not being considered a full-human by the charm’s interpretation – he would not have showed up when the charm was used. Now if I remember correctly, there were exactly twenty of us here that night – including Flynn. And then, when we used the charm... it told us that the number of humans in the house was... twenty. Flynn would not have counted... yet the charm still told us that there was twenty in the household. Which means –’
‘That there was someone else in the house!’ yelled Ron. Harry merely grinned, watching the face of Mosteban sink in to disbelief. Williamson opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. Instead he retrieved his wand and pointed it in front of him.
‘There’s nine of us here now...’ he whispered under his breath. The entire room was silent as Williamson spoke the incantation. ‘Homenum Revelio!’
Small red lines protruded from each of their heads, forming a tally in front of Williamson. Harry’s heart skipped a beat as he saw that the tally in front of Williamson read the number ten. Williamson – eyes widened so that they almost looked menacing – wheeled around and saw that one of the red lines was coming from the adjacent room to which everyone followed, including Mosteban. The red line led to the living room and more specifically to the tall, china cabinet against the far wall. Williamson stepped around the long wooden table and pointed his wand at the base of the cabinet.
‘Stupefy!’ he cried.
The wood of the cabinet splintered, Harry having to shield his face to avoid being hit with the chips of wood. A blaring, high-pitched noise pulsated throughout the room – the seal had been set off by Williamson’s curse. Amidst all the commotion, Harry could see that a small owl was beginning to flap its wings, its screech overriding the noise made by the seal. Mosteban quickly pointed his wand at the owl as it began to flap its wings, saying a curse that Harry could not make out. Quickly, the owl disappeared in a burst of smoke.
After a moment, Harry could see that a human figure was now laying on the hard floor, immobilized by the stunning curse. He had short, greasy looking dark brown hair, a long pointed nose, dirty, sharp looking fingernails and his eyes and cheeks were sunken slightly which made his pale face look almost ghostly. His eyes were moving all about but his body would not budge; his long dark boots moving back and forth as if he was shivering.
‘That’s... Jugson!’ exhaled a sincerely surprised Mosteban as he fought his way to where the Death Eater was lying. ‘He used his Animagus form when we were here that night... that’s why we didn’t pick up on him.’ Mosteban’s voice was restored to his usual growl as Harry glanced at Ron before refocusing on the fallen Death Eater.
‘Potter!’ Williamson said breathlessly as Mosteban conjured cuffs to keep Jugson from moving once the curse had worn off. ‘How did you... E-Excellent effort. This is massive. Brilliant work!’
Williamson gave Harry a hard clap on the back as he helped Mosteban lift Jugson up, afterwards using a Levitation Charm to move Jugson in any way they desired. As Williamson guided Jugson out of the room, Harry caught Mosteban glancing in his direction, but he turned away quickly as he noticed that Harry was looking at him.
‘You got ‘em mate,’ said Ron half-surprised, half overjoyed.
Mosteban did not even look in Harry’s direction for the rest of the day. When Harry and the rest returned to the Auror Office, he was given a small ovation from many of the Aurors who were still in the Department once they had heard the news of Jugson’s capture. Before Williamson set out to arrange Jugson’s immediate transfer to Azkaban prison, he gave Harry one last look of admiration. Harry merely smiled, walking out of the Department with Ron to a rousing round of applause.
The next day, Harry related his tale to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley as well as George who had all come to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place for dinner. Harry could not help but feel overjoyed as he saw Mr. Weasley proudly look down upon him after he had finished, feeling for just a moment that Ron’s father was in fact his own as well.
‘Good on you Harry!’ repeated a beckoning Mr. Weasley for what felt like the hundredth time that night. ‘Hopefully Williamson can get some answers out of him that will lead you all to the rest of those Death Eaters. We may be closing in on the end of Voldemort’s followers as we know them!’ Mrs. Weasley smiled proudly at Harry as she touched his cheek, embracing him in a warm hug.
‘Yeah we’ll need those answers because that prat Malfoy doesn’t seem to be doing much,’ spat Ron to the jeers of George as he followed his parents in to the emerald green flames of the fireplace.
‘You’ve got to give him time, Ron,’ said Harry in defense of Malfoy which was something that he honestly thought he would never do. ‘He can’t be giving away information right after he gets all settled with them – how do you think that would look on him? They’d discover him in a minute and our source would be lost.’
‘He’s right, you know,’ added Hermione. ‘All that work at getting him inside their establishment would have been for nothing. He has to be cautious in the early going and you’ve got to be patient.’
The threesome continued to talk about Malfoy and his positioning inside the Death Eaters until Ginny got home from her late practice. After she had changed, Hermione started a fire in the living room and for the next two hours, they all sat listening to Chudley’s game against Montrose on the wireless radio. As time wore on, the warm room began to make Harry’s eyelids heavy, Harry having to open his eyes wide every few minutes to snap them out of their sleepy gaze.
A while later, Hermione turned down the wireless radio, the sound of the crackling fire nearly drowning out the Quidditch commentator’s post-match judgment on the game that had ended. Ron had fallen asleep once Montrose scored their twenty-first goal and not long after, their Seeker caught the Snitch, sending Chudley to a massive three hundred and ninety to thirty defeat. Hermione grinned from her seat opposite from where Harry and Ginny were sitting as she watched Ron snore loudly.
‘I think it’s time to take him up to bed...’ she whispered.
‘Goodnight Hermione,’ whispered Ginny as she watched Hermione poke Ron in the ribs. He awoke with a start, clutching his side as Hermione pointed at the stairs.
‘See you tomorrow Ron.’
Ron merely nodded at Harry’s farewell, Hermione prodding him in the back, prompting him to increase his glacial pace towards the stairs. Harry and Ginny sat in silence for a moment, watching the fire in front of them start to fade to a few mere embers.
‘Well, let’s hope that Fudge can tone it down now on this whole wizard army thing he’s been on about,’ Ginny said suddenly. ‘Now that you’ve caught a Death Eater, hopefully he can see that as progress rather than as a way to stir up anxiety in the public.’
‘I wouldn’t count on it. Fudge has held a vote every week it seems... and each time he’s slowly gained more and more support though he doesn’t have enough yet. He seems pretty adamant.’ Ginny scoffed at Harry’s remark.
‘We shouldn’t have a leader whose whole stance is to create more war! Does he really think that the Death Eaters will just sit there and take it? Does he seriously believe that they won’t fight back? You know they would go to any lengths to match us, strength for strength. Making them more desperate would only make them stronger!’
‘I guess the only things we can do is keep our faith that he doesn’t get the support.’
‘Or keep our faith in you to stop them before he can get the support,’ grinned Ginny. ‘How many did you say there are left?’
‘Williamson believes around twenty-five... thirty at the very most. Not many Death Eaters are willing to commit to a group without its leader. The ones left are the true loyalists,’ responded Harry.
‘Is... Is that what you were talking about with Ron and Hermione in that room behind the portrait? Before we went to see the Longbottoms?’
Harry looked down in to the face of Ginny, her wide, deep brown eyes reflecting the dying flames from the fireplace. Harry bit his tongue as she looked up at him defiantly, recalling the conversation about the secret messages and memories he had with Ron and Hermione behind the portrait of Percival the Pompous. For a moment, even Harry himself thought he was going to tell her, but at the last possible moment, something that he could not explain overpowered his mind and he thought different of it.
‘That... that was just... Auror stuff. Nothing very interesting, Gin,’ Harry lied.
He felt his skin crawl as he told his fib, all of a sudden feeling slightly light-headed. Ginny did not fluctuate her stare, continuing to stare up at Harry as if she knew he was not telling the truth.
‘Can’t you tell me?’ Her words hit Harry like a Stunning spell.
‘Well... I-I can... it’s all stuff you’ve heard before though. The er... details are really tedious. All about possible locations for the Death Eaters hiding spots and things like that.’
‘Oh... I won’t make you re-hash old news then.’ Feeling a mixture of relief and guilt, Harry quickly changed the topic of conversation, not wanting Ginny to dwell on the subject for too long.
‘There’s been something I’ve wanted to talk to you about Gin,’ he said quickly, breaking Ginny’s thoughts. ‘It’s about... Davis.’
‘Davis? What about him?’
‘Er... well... I’ve noticed that... that you’ve gotten pretty close to him – which is fine and all. But... but after Christmas I – er – began to have this feeling about him.’
‘Which is?’ pressed Ginny strongly.
‘I-I don’t trust him,’ Harry said honestly, staring deep in to Ginny’s eyes. ‘He’s always around you... dancing with you... buying you expensive gifts when you’re just a player on his team. But it’s like... he wants something more or something. And I... just don’t like him.’ Ginny surveyed Harry for a moment, releasing herself from his arm that was draped around her shoulder.
‘That’s fine if you don’t like him Harry,’ Ginny said considerately. ‘But I do. Still, I don’t expect you to like everyone I ever come in to contact with. He’s been nothing but nice to me – helping me with my game and introducing me to life as a Quidditch player.’
‘I know and that’s all well and good but –’
‘You trust me, right?’ interrupted Ginny. ‘You don’t need to trust him, but you do have trust in me I hope.’
‘Ginny I – of course I do!’ responded Harry to which Ginny smiled.
‘Then you have nothing to worry about then,’ she said swiftly, pausing for a moment before eyeing Harry and speaking somewhat hesitantly. ‘I think you’d agree with me when I say that you... you have to trust each other in a relationship. With everything.’
Harry stared at Ginny for a moment without speaking. Ginny’s eyes began to swell and grow bright. It seemed as if she was looking not at Harry on the surface, but penetrating through him, her eyes glimmering even more with every passing second. Harry saw Ginny’s chest rising and falling quickly as she broke her stare and looked away from him at the fireplace.
‘I’m sorry, Gin. I trust you with everything. I promise. I guess... Davis being so successful and everything... just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I guess I was just... jealous that he gets to spend so much time with you...’ Ginny forced a meek smile as she turned back to him and nodded.
‘Don’t be jealous... and don’t be sorry Harry. I’d have probably thought the same as you did if I was in your situation. I just want you to be able to tell me everything – no matter what it is.’
‘I will – I do,’ replied Harry more strongly than he actually felt.
Ginny smiled broadly. She turned and leaned her back up against his chest. Harry kissed her head gently, resting his chin on the top of her head as he stared out in to the fire, a mild, tingling pain rising up to his throat.
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