Chapter 45 : Chapter 45
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It was Remus, standing in the doorway and whispering his name.
“Harry, you need to get up.”
“Wha-?” he said sleepily, sitting up and dislodging Ginny.
“Sirius is here.”
He froze at these words, disbelief striking him hard as he tried to wake himself up properly. “Sirius?”
“Yeah, he’s here,” Remus said kindly. “He’s waiting to see you.”
With that, Remus turned and left, leaving Harry in a state of shock. Had Remus really just said what he thought he had? Or was Harry dreaming? He certainly could have been. Looking down at Ginny, he noted that his sudden movement had not awoken her. Definitely a Weasley. Leaping out of bed, Harry spared only enough time to pull on a shirt and readjust the blankets over Ginny before he rushed out into the hallway, where Remus was waiting for him. Moving straight past him, Harry looked for Sirius, still completely baffled to see him waiting impatiently in the kitchen.
“Harry?” Sirius said warily, looking at him in the low light.
Realising that he couldn’t be seen, Harry started forward, looking at Sirius critically. Like everyone else, he appeared tired and worried, his hair longer than usual and his face unshaven. They looked at each other uncertainly, as though they didn’t quite trust each other, and Harry glanced over his shoulder for reassurance from Remus. He had tactfully returned to his bedroom, leaving Harry and Sirius alone together. That was all the reassurance he needed.
“Hi,” he said quietly, not sure of what else to say. What should he say after so many months? The last time they had seen each other, Sirius had asked Harry to leave Hogwarts, to come back to the safety and comforts of home with him. If he had agreed, Harry wondered where they would all be now.
His jaw clenched tightly, Sirius looked at him with sadness, unable to hide it like he usually did. Giving a short nod, he crossed the room in an instant and engulfed Harry into his arms, pulling him close to his chest, his touch careful and wary. With a sigh of relief, Harry returned the embrace, closing his eyes and reaccustoming himself to his godfather. They stayed like that for a long minute, Sirius finally pulling away and carefully tilting Harry’s jaw to look at him properly.
“How badly are you hurt?” he asked, the most recent events being his greatest concern.
“I’m a lot better,” he reassured him, avoiding his gaze. “Just sore, that’s all.”
Sirius nodded, still looking him up and down with worry. “What about your back? Your chest?”
“Sore,” Harry said, knowing that Sirius had been filled in by Remus.
Sirius nodded again, placing his hands on Harry’s shoulders and steering him towards a chair at the table. “Here, sit down,” he said in a rush, wanting to look after him. “Do you want coffee?”
“Sure,” Harry muttered, despite it being the middle of the night.
Sirius looked relieved to have a task to do for him, and quickly set about pouring the water into the mugs that he had already prepared. Despite being overwhelmed with relief, Harry wrung his hands underneath the table, knowing that Sirius would want to know everything, would ask him questions about Lucius Malfoy that he never wanted to think about.
“Harry,” he began gently, passing him his mug of coffee before he sat down beside him. “Do you…do you want to tell me what happened? What’s been going on?”
Harry looked into the mug of coffee for inspiration. “Actually, I’m more interested in what you’ve been doing. Where have you been?”
Sitting back in the chair, Sirius looked surprised by the sudden change of subject, and he wrapped his hands around his mug and stared deep into the depths just as Harry did. “Well I, I’ve been doing a number of things….I don’t really know where to begin.”
Giving a short nod, Harry stayed quiet, knowing Sirius would continue when he was ready.
“At the start I was mostly with Remus, he and I made a few trips across the channel to Europe. There has been quite a stir since the war broke out, the embassies were more than welcoming of us. We’ve got a lot of good witches and wizards on our side, many of them laying low here in England while they wait for us to call on them.”
“So you’ve been…rounding up troops?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I only went twice, it’s mainly Kingsley doing the talks and negotiations…he’s rather more diplomatic than I. Otherwise I’ve been laying low…looking after Remus each full moon.”
“So who’s this witch you’ve been shacking up with?” Harry asked abruptly.
Sirius spluttered into his coffee, turning red and looking at Harry with a glare. “Where did you learn that language?”
“Probably from you,” Harry said impatiently. “Come on…who is she?”
Averting his eyes, Sirius tipped his head back and thought hard. “She’s new to the Order, not that it’s your business.”
“Of course it’s my business,” he replied, trying to lighten the mood. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased for you…I know it’s been quite a dry spell.”
Sirius closed his eyes as though praying for patience, and when he opened them he gave Harry a familiar glare.
“So who is she?” Harry asked, genuinely curious. “Did you meet her through the Order?”
“She’s…” Sirius began, looking highly uncomfortable. “She’s been advising me on a few things.”
“Such as, none of your business,” he replied sharply, looking for a way to change the conversation. “So what about you? What have you, Ron and Hermione been up to? Besides breaking into the Ministry of Magic, of course.”
It was Harry’s turn to be taken aback, and he knew then that it was Padfoot he had seen that day in London. “Were you stalking us in London?”
“I’d prefer to say I was exercising parental responsibilities. I must say, when I watched you hiding under a pile of rubbish to do surveillance for a week, I was rather proud.”
“How did you know we were there?”
“A lucky accident. It was still early days. We were watched Diagon Alley, trying to establish the Death Eater routine, who was who and where they were going. It was my turn, and I looked around and found you and Ron standing on the other side of the street. Nearly fell over my own paws…”
“We weren’t just standing there,” Harry said sheepishly. “We weren’t just out in the open.”
“No, no. I do admit, I had walked past you and didn’t notice you at first. And then I just stuck around the area for the next few days, and eventually spotted you lot again. I figured out what you were doing at the Ministry…but I didn’t want to interfere.”
“You knew what we were doing?” Harry said in disbelief. “And you didn’t try to stop us?”
“Well, I had considered it, but I knew you had a reason for whatever you were doing…didn’t stop me worrying sick about you. I got hurt though, before you actually broke in…so I couldn’t have been any help to you.”
“How were you hurt?” Harry asked in concern, understanding Sirius’ concern for him. He remembered how Lucius Malfoy had taunted him, saying that Sirius was dead.
He shrugged. “Full moon. Remus was stuggling, and I probably didn’t give him enough space to do what he needed to.” He paused, rolling up the leg of his trousers to show him his knee and thigh. The skin there was taught and scarred, the muscle having wasted away through disuse and leaving his leg looking worse than it probably was.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “I was transformed, so I was alright really. Kingsley patched me up…and I was fine.”
Harry nodded, relieved when Sirius pushed the leg of his trousers back down. “And since then?”
“Out of action,” he muttered, his expression reminding Harry of how he used to be when he was holed up in Grimmauld Place back in fifth year. “We lost track of you, until of course we heard about Ginny disappearing from Hogwarts…that didn’t scream ‘Harry Potter’ at all. And then nothing again, until Ron and Hermione turned up here, looking for you.”
“Okay,” Harry muttered, feeling as though he were caught up on all the events. He focused on his coffee, taking small sips and wondering when Sirius would turn their conversation back to him.
“So what about you lot?” he asked quietly, not wanting to push him too hard. “What’s going on with you and Draco Malfoy?”
Shifting uncomfortably, Harry shrugged his shoulders. “That depends? What did you hear?”
Sirius rolled his eyes at this. “Only that you kidnapped him, held him hostage in a bathroom and intended to use him to break into a high security vault in Gringotts.”
Harry appeared to consider this for a moment. “Well I don’t know where you heard that from.”
“You’re not going to tell me, are you,” Sirius said, finishing the last of his coffee and putting the mug down hard. When Harry didn’t reply, he continued. “It’s alright, I understand.”
“You do?” Harry asked, raising his eyebrows. Sirius had never really been the most understanding person when he couldn’t get his own way.
“Yes,” he said. “You want to see Ron and Hermione before you discuss anything.”
Breathing another sigh of relief, Harry nodded. “Yeah, thanks.”
“It’s alright,” Sirius said, placing his hand on his shoulder. “In fact, I’m supposed to be looking for them right now.”
“Fred and George are waiting outside for me…Muriel told us where she thinks they might be.”
“Seriously?” Harry said, following Sirius as he got to his feet. “She told you?”
“Once she established that Marco and I weren’t Italian soldiers who had come to kidnap her dead husband, she was quite forthcoming.”
“Don’t take it personally,” Harry laughed, following Sirius as he slowly headed for the door. “She didn’t like me either. Where did she say they would be?”
“She told George they stayed the night with her when they came looking for you, and she overheard them talking about the forest in Dean.”
“She overheard?” Harry said in disbelief. “She’s deaf as a post.”
“Not when she doesn’t want to be…” Sirius said wearily, lingering by the front door. He glanced outside, to where Harry could see Fred, George and the wizard from the meeting waiting. “It’s not much use, we’ve already been looking there.”
“Where did you look?”
Sirius raised his eyebrows at him. “Mad-Eye said they’d likely stick close to water, so mainly near the river.”
Harry shook his head at this, feeling hopeful. “No, we always stayed well back from the river. It was quieter…easier to hear our surroundings. If they’re there, they’d be at least a few hundred yards back.”
“Alright,” Sirius said slowly, looking down at Harry with what appeared to be pride. “Alright, well, I’d better go, they’re waiting for me.”
“When will you-”
“Be back? Tomorrow sometime, depending on how we go in Dean. Hopefully I’m bringing back Ron and Hermione with me…will one of them be on watch this time of night?”
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed, feeling disheartened when Sirius opened the front door. He had really only just arrived.
Sirius nodded, seeing Harry’s look of disappointment and pulling him into a one armed hug. “I’ll be back before you know it…I need a look at this baby, anyway.”
“Okay,” Harry replied, smiling at the mention of Teddy. “Good luck then.”
“Lock the door behind me,” Sirius instructed, slipping outside and closing the door with just enough time to say, “and go back to bed.”
Turning the lock on the handle and pulling the safety chain into position, Harry watched out the frosted glass as Sirius strolled down the front path to where everyone was waiting for him, glancing over his shoulder to the house before they disapparated. Their reunion concluded, Harry wandered back into the kitchen and deposited their used mugs into the sink before heading back to bed. Ginny was awake, waiting for him to return.
“Eavesdropper,” he accused, smiling as he pulled off his shirt and slipped back into bed beside her. The sheets were warm and soothing against his skin, against the wounds on his front and back, and as usual, Ginny was careful in the way she touched him.
“How is he?” she asked, settling herself against his shoulder.
Harry shrugged. “We didn’t talk long…he’s alright though.”
“Did he tell you who he’s shacked up with?” she yawned.
“No…” he replied lowly, raising his arm to run his fingers across her shoulder, before settling it around her waist.
She laughed at this. “You’re dying to know, aren’t you?”
She laughed again, her hand splayed out across his stomach. Stretching up, she kissed him softly. “Go back to sleep.”
For a moment Harry was going to return her kiss, to slip his hand under her shirt and pick up where they left the night before, but he couldn’t help but listen to her. He was still tired, and now that he was laying down he doubted he could even lift his head from the pillow. They were both asleep within minutes.
When he next awoke, it was to the sensation of Ginny’s hand in his hair, her lips following the scar on his jaw in soft kisses. She was whispering to him softly, and as her lips moved down his jaw he turned his head to capture them with his own. He kissed her deeply, still half asleep as he tugged at her shirt to bring her closer.
“Harry-” she started, breaking away from his kiss. “Are you alright?”
“You were dreaming,” she said quietly, pushing back his fringe. She tentatively touched his scar, which Harry realised was sore to her touch.
“Oh,” he murmured, blinking as he awoke properly. He clenched his eyes shut, feeling his accelerated heart rate and his sweaty palms. “What was I dreaming about?”
“You don’t remember?”
He shook his head. “Did I say anything?”
“Yes, but I couldn’t understand it. You’ve been dreaming on and off all night…you don’t remember?”
He shook his head again, swallowing hard as he reached up to touch his scar for himself. He felt warm all over, his scar burning and sore against his fingers, and he restlessly threw the covers off himself.
“Sorry,” he muttered to Ginny, who was eagerly slipping back into his embrace. “You should go back to sleep.”
Pushing the covers completely off them, she hooked her leg across his, shaking her head. “It’s morning…we should get up.”
“Is it?” Harry muttered in surprise, opening his eyes again and looking around the room properly, seeing the rays of light from the edges of the curtain. Ginny’s knee lay across the healing wound on his thigh, and he carefully readjusted it, trying to alleviate the discomfort. Getting the wrong impression, she leant up and kissed him deeply, her hand slipping around to grasp the back of his head.
Harry jumped at her touch, recoiling away from her as an unbidden image of Lucius Malfoy holding him under water came into focus. Breathing heavily, Harry moved to shift her off him, trying not to see the look of hurt she bore. She made to stretch her arm across his shoulder and back to the back of his head, but he stopped her again, kissing the back of her hand in apology.
“What is it?” she asked in concern, realising she had done something wrong.
“Nothing,” he said slowly, taking her offending hand and bringing it to lie between them. “You just surprised me, that’s all.”
“What?” she questioned, her hand itching beneath his to reach out again. “I touch your head all the time.”
She was clearly offended by his rejection, and Harry began to feel the desire to pin her hands down permanently, so that she couldn’t shock him with thoughts and memories of what had most recently happened to him. He had tried to hard not to think about that…to ignore and forget what he was feeling about it all.
“Just leave it, please,” he added, still holding her hand down against the bed as he leant over and kissed her.
She sighed in frustration, and it was clear by the icy way she returned his kiss that she didn’t understand. It was fine by him…he never wanted her to know what had happened…that she had seen the aftermath was enough as it were. She sat up, taking her hand back and throwing the covers off herself.
“I’m getting up,” she announced unnecessarily.
Under normal circumstances, Harry would have watched with a pang of desire as she pulled on a pair of respectable trousers before changing her pyjama shirt. This morning though, he rolled over and pushed his face into the pillow, not wanting to face her. He could hear the soft sounds of her fixing her hair messily before she began to open the door, hesitating as light from the hallway entered the room. He could sense her standing there, watching him, and he recalled that his back was completely exposed. Her gaze must be burning holes into his skin.
Ginny gave a soft sigh, letting go of the door and coming back to the bed. As the mattress depressed beside him, Harry turned his face to look at her curiously.
“I’m sorry,” she apologised. Even though she didn’t quite understand what she had done, Harry knew that she meant it wholeheartedly.
“Me too,” he said, feeling that he needed to reciprocate. It was the right thing to do, because her face softened even more.
Very deliberately, she raised her hand and touched his scar, brushing back his fringe before she bent over and kissed him tenderly. She didn’t linger any more than necessary.
“I’m going to make pancakes…would you like some?”
“A dozen or so,” he smiled, feeling famished.
She nodded and kissed him again, and this time Harry clenched his hand into her shirt and held her there. “I love you,” he whispered against her lips. Had he made her doubt that?
She smiled at this, and then lay back down beside him, lingering until they both heard his stomach rumbling. Remembering her task, she leapt out of bed and left him with the promise of breakfast in bed, allowing him to breathe a sigh of relief. The last thing he needed was Ginny to be breathing down his neck about being all open and sharing with her, not that she had ever really nagged him.
Harry shivered, cold now that he was alone, and so he pulled the blankets back and cocooned himself inside, trying to recall what he had been dreaming about. It was an unsettling dream for sure, but he couldn’t quite place what had happened, or even who he had dreamt about, and this frustrated him to no end. He made to check his watch out of habit, even though he knew it was long gone. Was it set onto a shelf in the Malfoy living room along with his glasses and wand? Trophies to remind them of what they had done, of what they had nearly accomplished? At this thought Harry shivered again, suddenly craving the company of Ginny and everyone else. He didn’t want to think about it all…it was probably a blessing that he had fallen completely unconscious in the middle of Malfoy’s water torture. He probably would have given up his friends and the entire plot if he had been forced to endure that much longer.
“I thought I said stay in bed,” Ginny said with disappointment, still measuring out flour and sugar as Tonks was cracking eggs.
“Yeah, I know,” he apologised, wandering into the kitchen and greeting Tonks. “Sorry.”
“Well sit down” she instructed him, pointing to the kitchen table. “Let me take care of you.”
“You’re having a ‘mother moment’,” he said pointedly, knowing that it was required of him to warn Ginny when she began to act like her mother.
“Fine then, make me a cup of tea.”
“That’s better,” he teased, nudging her out of the way so he could bring the kettle to the sink. “Tonks?”
“No thanks,” she smiled, taking the measured ingredients from Ginny and pouring them into the wet mixture. A flick of her wand saw the ingredients mixing themselves together as Ginny placed a pan on the stove next to the kettle.
“Where’s Remus?” Harry asked, strolling into the living room where he could see Teddy laying on a colourful mat, beneath an arch that played sweet tunes and dangled soft toys just within his reach.
“He’s sleeping,” Tonks said wearily. “Full moon was only Wednesday, and he’s been flat out since then. I told him it would all catch up to him.”
“So he’s not well?”
She shrugged. “He’ll be fine, he just needs to rest. Looks like the women are taking care of the men,” she said to Ginny. “Just like always.”
“Uh uh, I am not my mother. Where’s my cup of tea?” she demanded cheekily.
“You are so your mother,” Harry also teased, leaving Ted alone and slipping back into the kitchen to where the kettle was already beginning to boil.
Ginny slipped her hand into the back pocket of his jeans, giving him a tantalising squeeze. “In that case, you’re having impure thoughts about Molly Weasley.”
Harry fumbled with the mugs he took from the kitchen cabinet, turning to glare at her. “Fine,” he said lowly, shifting so as to dislodge her hand from his pocket. “You are nothing like your mother.”
“Really?” she asked, backing him up against the counter with a cheeky smile. Harry was grateful when Tonks disappeared into the lounge room to check on Ted. Turning his attention back to Ginny, he kept his hands firmly to himself as she slipped hers back into the back pocket of his jeans again. “Are you sure about that?”
“Definitely,” Harry said, trying to resist the desire to kiss her. She was certainly evoking better feelings than she had only a little while ago. “You make terrible coffee…and your cooking is equally terrible.”
“I knew I loved you for a reason,” she grinned up at him, kissing him deeply and grinning as his hands came down to rest on her hips.
“Hmmm…also, your mother never burns pancakes.”
“What?” Ginny said in confusion, which quickly turning into dismay when she realised what Harry was trying to tell her. “Oh, bugger it to hell! It’s burning.”
Harry laughed at her as she struggled to flip the first pancake that had been cooking, laughing even harder when he saw how blackened it was.
“Here, let me-”
“No! I’m making you breakfast. Sit down.”
“You’re sounding like your mother.”
“Then make my cup of tea.”
“Just let me do the pan-”
She brandished the wooden spoon at him, flicking pancake mixture into her hair. “I said make my tea!”
Harry huffed openly, making her tea reluctantly as he watched her struggle with the pancake mixture. “The pan’s too hot.”
“Harry…” Ginny said lowly, pouring the next scoop of mixture anyway. The pan hissed and sizzled angrily.
“Harry, I swear to Merlin-”
“Ginny, I swear to Merlin.”
“Harry! You’re being immature.”
“Ginny! You’re being immature.”
She picked up the wooden spoon from the mixture and threw it at him hard, growling when he dodged it easily.
“Alright you two,” Tonks intervened, coming back into the kitchen. “Stop abusing utensils, or take your row outside!”
They looked away from each other, grumbling under their breaths. Struggling not to grin, Harry glanced at Ginny sidelong as he stirred her tea, noting that she too appeared to be hiding a smile. He had missed their petty fights, which had always led to long snogging sessions and wandering hands.
“Here’s your tea,” he said with exaggerated politeness. She looked at him through narrowed eyes, assessing the tea before sliding the second pancake out of the pan and onto a waiting plate.
“Thank you,” she replied with equal politeness. She took a sip. “It’s cold.”
“Is not,” he retorted, moving past her to poke the pancakes on the plate. Frowning, he broke the edge off one. “Wow, I didn’t know you could burn and undercook a pancake at the same time.”
Her clenched jaw told him enough, and he began to warily back out of the kitchen when she turned around to him.
“Fine, you cook!”
“Thank you,” he said, pleased that he appeared to have won.
“Let’s see you flip one,” she challenged, her hands on her hip as Harry turned down the heat on the pan.
“I’ll give it a go,” he said, smiling secretly to himself. If there was one thing his Aunt Petunia had taught him, it was the art of preparing breakfast. “Wager?”
“Teddy’s next full nappy…the Muggle way.”
“Alright,” Harry said, adding some extra water and sugar to the mixture and giving it a quick stir. They shook hands, and Harry sighed in satisfaction when he poured the mixture into the pan. With his slight alterations, the mixture was perfect. It sizzled nicely, large bubbles beginning to form.
“You should probably get some gloves ready,” he teased, lifting the edges of the pancake and giving it a gentle shake. The pancake moved perfectly around the pan as he prepared to flip it over. “I should have warned you….pancake flipping is a talent of mine.”
“Go on then,” she challenged, though he could see her fidgeting uncomfortably.
Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself before taking a shot, watching as the pancake flipped over in slow motion. “Ooh,” he said lowly, realising how close he had come to losing. Perhaps he should have asked for a practice shot. One edge was slightly folded under, while the other edge hung over the side of the pan.
“You lose,” Ginny announced.
“No! It’s flipped.”
“That doesn’t count, look! It’s not even in the pan!”
“What? It’s perfect.”
“Uh uh, it’s ruined.”
“At least it’s not burnt!”
Tonks entered the kitchen again, rolling her eyes at them. “I told you lot to take it outside, you can’t even agree on a pancake. I’ll be the judge.”
Standing beside Harry, she looked critically at his pancake, before turning to the two that Ginny had already cooked. “Then again, Ginny, maybe you should stick to making bacon and eggs and changing nappies.”
“The Muggle way,” Harry added.
Her eyes narrowed at them both, before she slowly shook her head. Just as Harry tipped the golden brown pancake onto the small stack, Ginny slipped her hand back into his back pocket. “What?” he said suspiciously, seeing the expression on her face.
“Nothing,” she said dangerously, pulling down the front of her top with a grin.
“Go away and drink your tea, you’re distracting me.”
“I can’t,” she retorted, pinching him through the back of his jeans. “It’s cold.”
“Go away,” Harry repeated, pouring more mixture into the pan.
He tried his best to concentrate, to ignore her, but the carefree feelings she evoked in him were like an addiction, and after the stress of seeing Sirius last night, he was all for distractions. Pulling her away from the hot stove, he pushed her against the bench and kissed her hard, grateful that Tonks seemed to have disappeared completely. Breaking the kiss, Harry kissed the corner of her mouth and ran his tongue along her lips, pleased to see that she was sufficiently out of breath. Smirking at her, he turned back to the pancake that was cooking and gave the pan a gentle shake.
“Leave me alone now?”
“Ah huh…” she said, sounding somewhat out of breath. She hadn’t moved from where she stood pressed up against the bench, and she looked slightly dazed. “Yeah, I’m all done…”
She began to walk past him, brushing her hair behind her ear as the daze lifted. He grinned at her, feeling rather triumphant that he could make her feel as dazed as she often left him.
“Hey, watch this.”
Turning around, she watched as he shook the pan hard, and flipped the pancake into the air.
It landed perfectly.
It had been five days since Sirius had finally stopped by Sunday evening; only to inform them that they had searched the areas surrounding the river, and had found no trace that Ron and Hermione had been concealing themselves there. Teddy’s two week birthday had come and passed, and Harry could see the way that he was growing and changing every day. He tried not to let Ron and Hermione’s absence weigh on his mind, instead focusing his attention and time to Ginny and Teddy, who was currently asleep in his arms once again.
He was bigger than when he had first seen him, and had gained a healthy amount of weight according to the kitchen scales. His legs were stronger, and he loved to kick them against Harry’s hands again and again, making Harry laugh and marvel at how this little baby made him hopeful. It seemed silly at first, the idea that Teddy might one day be growing up without the fear and terror of Voldemort and the Death Eaters, though Harry knew that was ultimately up to him. To that end, he was itching every day for Ron and Hermione to be tracked down, or more likely, to turn up.
Harry had to resist laughing at Mad-Eye when he came by the other day. Although the Order were very skilled in their areas of expertise, Kingsley and Mad-Eye both admitted that they had tried tracking Harry and his friends down from the very night that war broke out. Until then, Harry had truly doubted how well they were doing, how necessary and helpful their charms and plans to stay undetected had worked. Despite this, Mad-Eye was convinced that they would find Ron and Hermione, citing that they were bound to turn up at some familiar places again. However, after hearing that they had been unable to find them months ago, Harry knew the only way he would see Ron and Hermione again was when they would return to see Remus.
The wait felt excruciating, knowing that his friends would be worried and searching for him when he was already perfectly safe, curled up on Remus’ couch with Ginny and Ted, awaiting their arrival. He was desperate to talk to them, desperate to tell them what Snape had done, that he had apparently saved him and was now somewhat trusted by the Order. He could picture their expressions when they first would hear about this, and he wished they would hurry up. He needed them to make sense of it all. If he could just yell and rant towards them for a while, things would make sense. They would make sense of it for him.
“Here you go,” Ginny said, interrupting him from his brooding. She placed a mug of tea on the table beside the couch, stroking Teddy’s hair before she sat down. It was late into the night, and with Remus away working with the Order, Tonks was clearly feeling overwhelmed by Teddy’s constant demands. With the baby fed and bathed, Harry and Ginny had sent Tonks to bed with the promise that they would settle him down. That had been hours ago, but Harry couldn’t bear to put Ted into his empty crib when he was so comfortable sleeping in his arms.
“Thanks,” he said, adjusting so that she could rest her head in his lap. Teddy stirred, his eyes opening wide and looking around as he sucked hard on his thumb. Stroking his hair also, Harry smiled as he noted the different colours. “Gin, look at this. It’s black at the front, then there’s a little patch of orange near his ear, and the rest is still blonde.”
“Definitely a little Metamorphous, aren’t you little Teddy Bear?”
“Don’t call him that,” Harry said sharply, pretending to cover his little ears. “He doesn’t like it.”
“Of course he does,” she smiled, sitting up and looking at him properly.
“It’s a horrible nickname,” Harry shuddered, recalling the names he bore throughout Primary school, thanks to Dudley and his friends.
“Well what am I supposed to call him? Theodore is a big name for a little baby, and Teddy Bear is so sweet.”
Harry glared at her. “Don’t.”
She glared right back at him. “Well what am I supposed to call him?”
Looking down, Harry smiled as he noted that the rest of Teddy’s hair was beginning to turn black. It had been a novelty for them all since he had begun morphing a few days ago. Spitting out his thumb, Teddy raised his arm as though reaching for him, and pounded his fist against Harry’s chest until he got tired of the effort. Using his free hand, Harry offered his little finger to Ted, still surprised by how strong his grip was. Within moments, Teddy was trying to bring it towards his mouth for a taste.
“Careful,” he said softly, pulling his finger from Ted’s grasp when he nearly poked himself in the eye. Instead he brought his thumb back to his mouth, offering him that instead. “You can call him, Cheeky.”
“Cheeky?” Ginny scoffed. “That’s not a nickname.”
“Yes it is,” Harry argued. “And it suits him, look. His hair is going black, and you see his eyes? Do they look a little green to you?”
“No,” she said shortly. “You need to find your glasses, his eyes are still blue.”
“Well,” Harry shrugged. “Cheeky is better than Teddy Bear.”
Ginny sighed. “Fine, whatever.”
Looking at her, Harry put on his best glare. “I know what that means…”
“What does it mean?” she asked sweetly.
“It means you know I’m right, you just don’t want to admit it.”
“That is not what it means.”
“Oh, what does it mean then?”
“It means you’re a git.”
Harry rolled his eyes, turning back to Ted. “Shhh, he’s asleep again.”
They watched him quietly for a few minutes, Ginny leaning up against his shoulder as her hand rested high on his thigh, making him think about how much he wanted to lean down and kiss her. He resisted, not wanting to wake Teddy, but when she arose and announced that she was going to bed, she smiled at him and he saw his opportunity.
“Sure, me too,” he said, carefully getting to his feet. To his relief, Teddy did not stir in his arms.
“Here, I’ll put him to bed. Finish your tea,” Ginny offered, reaching out for Teddy.
Harry nodded, carefully passing him over and watched as Ginny cradled him carefully as she walked towards the hallway. Quickly taking a few sips of his tea, he tipped out the majority out and slipped into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Ginny joined him a few minutes later, bumping her hip against his as he rinsed out his tooth brush and set it back into the holder.
“What?” he asked, grinning at her as she rinsed out her mouth.
She shook her head nonchalantly, turning back to him and smirking. Raising her hand to him, she carefully touched the corner of his mouth where last week there had been a sore cut. Now, like everywhere else on his face, there was only a thin white scar.
“There was a piece of glass in there, you know,” she whispered, leaning up to kiss the very spot.
“I know,” he said against her lips, wishing she hadn’t brought that up. Was she going to continue doing this? Repeatedly bringing up what had happened, only to have him shut her down again and again.
Instead of bringing it up again, she tugged at his shirt and pulled him down towards her, kissing him deeply before running her fingers along the waistband of his borrowed trousers. Knowing exactly what she was getting at, he pushed her out of the bathroom and towards the room they were sharing, shedding each other’s clothes as soon as they stepped inside and locked the door.
It was early morning when Harry awoke abruptly, his first thought being that he had been dreaming again. A loud, heavy pounding was echoing through his head, alarming him and sending his heart racing. It took only another bout of heavy pounding for him to realise that he wasn’t dreaming. Sitting up, he listened intently and tried to determine what was going on, his sleep deprived mind quickly making the connection. Someone was at the front door.
“Ginny,” he said sharply, roughly shoving her shoulder to wake her up. “Ginny, get up.”
“What?” she moaned, stretching out beside him, gloriously naked.
“Get up, get dressed,” he instructed her as he leapt out of the bed and did so himself.
“What’s going on?” she said in alarm.
“There’s someone at the door,” he told her, taking her wand from where it lay abandoned in the sheets. “Just stay here.”
He was pulling on his shirt as he opened the bedroom door, almost running into Tonks who was bursting out of her own bedroom. Instantly, she was on him, throwing her hand out and stopping him from going any further.
“Stay there, stay with Teddy,” she instructed, her wand drawn.
He only half ignored her, following her to the end of the hallway where he stood and watched. She dashed into the lounge room and pulled aside one of the curtains, looking outside. She stood there for a long moment, making Harry wonder what was going on. His heart was pounding, desperate to know what was going on. Behind him, Ginny was emerging from their room, fully dressed now.
“Go back,” he said to her, feeling her standing behind him. She scoffed at him.
Tonks was still standing by the window, and to Harry’s surprise, she seemed to be whispering to the glass. They stood there in silence, the loud knocking having stopped already, and it seemed like forever before Tonks turned back and looked at him, her face alight what an expression Harry couldn’t make out.
“Harry,” she said slowly. “Someone’s here for you.”
She motioned for him to come closer, and together they approached the front door.
“Who is it?” Harry asked quietly, Ginny’s wand by his side. He looked over his shoulder, relieved to see that she had fallen back to stand outside the main bedroom where Teddy was sleeping. “Tonks?”
She appeared to ignore his question, and instead pulled hard on the handle and opened the door. Surprised by her actions, Harry braced himself for what he might find waiting outside. It was still dark, and it took a long moment for Harry’s eyes to adjust and focus on the tall figure that stood outside in the rain, although they appeared to recognise him instantly. There was a loud curse, a voice Harry recognised
“Harry!” Ron said in surprise, lowering his wand.
“Ron!” Harry replied as he stepped outside into the rain, equally shocked.
The two of them looked at each other for a long moment, both equally surprised to see the other, their moment of shock broken only by a familiar scream from somewhere to his left. He looked just in time to see Hermione leap away from the front window and rush to him, and she threw her arms around him without a further care in the world. She was suddenly sobbing against his shoulder, holding him tight enough that it hurt, but it didn’t matter to him in the slightest.
“Hermione…” Harry began in awe, unwinding her arms from around his shoulders. “Where the hell have you been? Are you two alright?”
“Are we alright?” she exclaimed, poking him hard in the chest before hugging him again.
Ron was there too; his long gangly arms wrapped around them both as they stood together in the rain, not caring that they were cold and wet. Harry was relieved beyond words, hardly believing that they were really there despite their strong embrace that did not relinquish. Hermione was still crying, and when Ron finally pulled away to look at his friend, his face was red and wet also, and he wiped at his eyes as Tonks bustled them all inside.
They talked over each other for a few minutes, trying to ascertain as quickly as possible what the other had been up to, too impatient to wait and speak properly. Harry became almost speechless, listening and watching Ron and Hermione as they each tried to get over their shock. He couldn’t quite believe what was happening.
“We weren’t expecting you here, mate,” Ron said in awe, making himself heard over Hermione’s ramble of words and tears. “We were just checking in.”
“Good surprise, huh?” Harry asked, unsure of what else to say. They had no idea what had happened…he was going to have to tell them.
“Surprise? Oh, yeah…” Ron trailed off, looking a little dazed to be standing there beside Harry. “I think I need to sit down.”
With Hermione’s arm linked through his, they all sat down in the living room, Ron perching himself on the coffee table after giving Ginny and Tonks a quick greeting. They stood by the side of the room, watching them and making Harry feel rather uncomfortable. Would they say anything? He prayed not. If Ron and Hermione were to know about what had happened to him, they would need to be told gently, not by Ginny who lacked the required tact.
“So what happened, mate?” Ron enquired, leaning forward on his elbows. “Were you hurt? You just disappeared, both of you.”
“No, erm, not badly,” Harry began uncomfortably, very conscious of the glance exchanged between Ginny and Hermione. They would be talking in great depth later on. “Tonks patched me up alright. What about you two? Where have you been?”
Noting his desire to shift the focus, Ron gave a short nod of understanding. “Well, we’ve been looking for you, really. When we saw the Malfoys, we thought you’d be alright underneath your cloak, so we kept going.”
The regret was clear in Ron’s voice, but Harry quickly reassured him. “Good, that was the plan, right?”
“Yeah, guess so,” Ron said bitterly. “I came back to look for you, when you and Malfoy didn’t turn up, and found the shop in a right mess.”
“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said suddenly, wrenching her hand out of his grasp and fumbling underneath her cloak. With shaking hands, she opened her beaded bag and withdrew his wand and glasses. “Ron found these in the shop, that’s when we got really worried.”
“You found them in the shop?” Harry said in awe, having assumed that Lucius Malfoy had taken them from him. “How? He would have taken them.”
“He?” Ron asked, eager for information. “Who would have taken them? Malfoy?”
Harry hesitated, fumbling with the arm of his glasses, which still felt foreign in his hands. Although Ron and Hermione would have pieced together what had happened that day in Diagon Alley, they still were quite unsure, and clearly desperate to find out. Harry glanced up at Tonks, hoping that she would get the hint that he was trying to convey. Giving him great relief, she seemed to understand, and quickly ushered Ginny back towards the bedroom and followed her there. Ginny looked outraged, ready to put up a fight before Harry got to his feet, giving her the most apologetic look he could manage.
“Just, wait a minute,” he muttered to Ron and Hermione. Taking Ginny’s hand, he led her off down the hallway towards their room, bothered to note that Tonks lingered behind.
“What are you doing?” Ginny asked him as soon as the door was closed. “I already know what happened, you can talk in front of me.”
His words were caught in his mouth, already sounding stupid enough in his head. She wouldn’t understand, he thought to himself, couldn’t fathom the way he felt about her, and how he needed to protect her from the horrible experience. She had already shared enough of his first abduction, and more than enough of this one. She didn’t need to hear any more.
“I just want to talk to them alone, that’s all,” he muttered uncomfortably, kissing her forehead in hopes of placating her. “I’m not trying to shut you out,” he lied.
“Yes you are,” she said furiously, possessively grasping the front of his shirt. “I know you, I know what you’re doing. You can’t keep trying to protect me from this, I don’t need another brother. I need you and I to be on the same side.”
Harry blinked at that, having always assumed they were on the same side. His sharp tongued rebuke was ready, but he squashed it down, not wanting to get into a fight with her. Running his hands from the top of her arms down to her elbow, he tried to figure out what to say.
“I know that. I just want to be alone with them, they’re going to be asking all sorts of questions. If you’re there, I’ll be distracted, I’ll get confused and frustrated, and then I’ll-”
“Alright, alright,” Ginny cut him off, placing her fingers against his mouth. “Can’t I at least eavesdrop? I don’t want you to shut me out, I’m not made of glass.”
“No,” he said firmly. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he steered her round to her side of the bed. “Just go back to bed, please. I’ll come back in a little while.”
She stood her ground for as long as she could, glaring up at him until she saw the vulnerability that he tried to hide. Relenting, she sat down on the edge of the bed, tugging on his shirt until he leant down and kissed her.
“Thank you,” he whispered against her lips.
“Don’t be gone too long,” she instructed him, releasing her grasp. “You need to sleep properly.”
He nodded in agreement and left before she could change her mind, closing the door just as Tonks entered the hallway. She had a familiar look on her face, and Harry could tell that she, Ron and Hermione had been talking.
“They’re going to stay the night,” she said quietly. “They’re all set up with pillows and blankets.”
“Okay,” he said, waiting until she slipped into her room and closed the door before he went back into the lounge room.
Ron and Hermione were waiting for him. While Ron appeared ashen faced in shock, Hermione’s tears flowed freely.
“Merlin,” Harry swore under his breath. “What did she tell you?”
“Everything,” Ron said, his voice tight. His fingers drummed against his kneecap, as though trying not to get up and pace. “Are you alright? I mean, are you really okay?”
“Yes,” he said robotically, sitting down beside Hermione again and putting his arm around her shoulder. “Don’t cry, everything’s fine.”
Hermione shrugged her shoulders and sniffed. Absently, she picked up his glasses and handed them to him again. “Put them on, you don’t look like yourself without them.”
He nodded. He could do that small thing to calm her down. It was disorientating when the room came into focus, when he could see the familiar detail of his friends faces.
“Are the lenses okay?” Hermione enquired. “I had to fix them from scratch.”
“They’re fine, thanks,” he said, squeezing her shoulder the way he did to Ginny. It must be a female thing, for she began to calm down quite quickly.
“What was all that blood from, mate?” Ron asked softly, glancing toward the hallway to ensure they were alone. “In the store, it was everywhere.”
“I fell against the glass shelves,” Harry said quickly, not wanting Ron to upset Hermione any further. “Cut my leg. I don’t really know much else.”
“You passed out due to the severe and sudden shock of losing blood from a major artery,” Hermione informed him stiffly. “Tonks said it probably got the femoral.”
“Geez, that woman can talk.”
“She told us about Snape,” Ron said gently, suspecting that it was a sore subject with Harry. “Reckons he’s been….helping. What do you make of that?”
“I don’t know,” Harry admitted. “I don’t bloody know, and I really don’t care at the moment. We’ve got bigger problems.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Ron muttered, leaning forward on his knees again. “So how completely buggered up are we?”
Harry laughed. “Pretty buggered up, mate. We’re pretty screwed.”
“So what does Malfoy know? Has he told You-Know-Who?”
“No,” Harry said imperatively. “No, I made sure he’s too scared to say anything.”
“Right,” Ron muttered slowly, waiting for Harry to continue.
Harry wracked his brains, trying to think about what Malfoy knew. Those few days were such a blur of pain and exhaustion, and he had spent the last week trying desperately to block it all out. He was glad that Ginny wasn’t there to watch him falter, to watch him trying to figure it all out.
“Malfoy knew that we had stolen a goblet, Draco told him about it. When he realised that I really didn’t know where it was, he wanted to know why we stole it.”
“Makes sense…” Ron said. “What did you say?” he asked carefully, not wanting to accuse or assume that Harry had told him anything.
“I err, tried to steer him in the wrong direction, but he knew I was lying. He seemed to make some connection between the Hufflepuff Cup and the Sword of Gryffindor, but I don’t think he really knows what it means.”
“So really, he doesn’t really know more than Draco,” Hermione stated, still holding Harry’s hand in her own. “That’s really not all that bad, you know.”
“I guess not,” Harry replied as Ron nodded in agreement. “It just seemed…worse, I suppose. He didn’t really ask me much more than why we wanted it…we never got much further than that.”
They sat there in silence for a few minutes, each of them digesting the news. For Harry though, the slightest flicker of hope bloomed. He had tried so hard not to think about it that he was worried himself unnecessarily. In comparison, Lucius really didn’t know that much more than his son did, and there was no way he would be taking his information to Voldemort without presenting him with the cup to redeem himself.
“Where’s the cup,” Harry asked suddenly, wondering why he hadn’t asked about it immediately. “What happened with it?”
Ron and Hermione shared a knowing look, and a moment later Hermione began digging around in her beaded bag. What she presented to him was a lump of mangled gold, remnants of the Hufflepuff crest just visible on a few of the smoother surfaces. Harry swore loudly and looked to Ron.
Ron shrugged. “Well, the sword worked.”
“The sword worked?” Harry confirmed, looking back to the mangled piece of gold in his hands. “The Horcrux is gone?”
Ron and Hermione both nodded. “It was driving us insane,” Hermione elaborated. “Looking at it every day. And it made us feel so strange with it in the tent, remember how it felt in Gringotts? Malevolent?”
“Yeah, I remember,” Harry said in awe. “Do I want to know what happened when you did it?”
Ron looked rather alarmed at this, and he clenched his fingers into a fist. “No,” he said solidly. “You’ve got enough on your mind.”
“So what now?” Harry asked, comfortable with Ron’s refusal to answer. Turning the lump of gold over, he felt the pattern of what had been the base. “What do we do next?”
The three of them looked to and from each other, uncomfortably aware of how far their plans had come.
“Well, we’ve only got Nagini, and something of Gryffindor or Ravenclaw left to destroy,” Hermione commented.
“Not to mention, You-Know-Who himself,” Ron added.
“Yes, of course,” Hermione agreed. “So I guess that just leaves us to…”
Harry took a deep breath, steeling himself for what he was about to say. “I think we need to tell the Order.”
Ron blew a low whistle at this. “Really? They’re going to be all over us then. The adults will take over, and we’ll be put in the corner like naughty little kids.”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “But maybe it’s time to take their help.”
“We still need to be in charge,” Hermione clarified. “We need to determine what they know, and when they know it. We don’t even have to give them the full story, we can just tell them that Dumbledore sent us to destroy these two things.”
“Some of them will figure it out,” Ron said. “Mad-Eye, for sure.”
“It doesn’t matter if they do figure it out,” Harry said in defeat. “What are we going to do otherwise? We’ve wasted time already trying to do this by ourselves.”
“We’ve done good though,” Ron said imperatively.
“Yeah, we have,” Harry readily agreed. “But what now? It’s taken us since August to destroy the locket and the cup, how long is the snake and an unknown going to take?”
They sat there in silence for a little while, Ron and Hermione digesting Harry’s suggestion.
“When’s the next meeting?” Ron asked.
Harry shrugged. “Probably whenever they decide, or whenever we call it.”
“I think we should straighten out Snape, first,” Hermione said firmly, her tone of voice stating that it was non-negotiable.
“Why’s that?” Harry asked with forced politeness.
“Because, somewhere among all of this mess, he’s involved. I’m not saying I understand, or that I put any belief in him, but the Order is showing trust to him, especially in that he took you away from the Malfoys. He very possibly saved your life, Harry.”
“You think I don’t know that?” he retorted, a little sharper than he had intended.
“All I’m trying to say, is that he’s involved somehow. Knowing Snape, I’d say he’s in the very thick of it. We need to meet with him, need to clear the air.”
Harry wanted to tell Hermione what she could go and do with Snape, but their reunion still hung fresh in the air, and he didn’t want to stir up fights and arguments now. There would be plenty of time for that later. Sitting quietly again, Harry heard the faintest creak from behind them, and he knew Ginny was still awake, listening in.
“Ginny’s still listening,” he whispered very quietly, knowing it must be driving her insane. “Why don’t we keep talking tomorrow?”
“Yep, righto,” Ron agreed, giving Harry a one armed hug as he stood up. “I’ll kip up here on the arm chair.”
“The couch folds out,” Harry remarked in reply, giving Hermione a long hug and noting the way she now held him gently. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he assured her, seeing that she was still saddened by what had happened in their absence.
“Okay, goodnight, Harry,” she said, finally releasing him with a short sniffle.
“Night, Ron,” he said, giving him a short wave before slipping down the hallway. As much as he was relieved to see them, he was just as relieved to be done with their conversation. At the moment, he craved only the company of Ginny and the comfort of sleep.
“I know you’re awake,” he teased her, slipping into the bed where she feigned deep sleep.
“Oh, Harry,” she said, still feigning. “You’re here.”
“Don’t pretend,” he scolded her, moving over to the middle of the bed where she lay.
Slipping her arm around his neck, she pulled him to lay against her, his hand resting on her bare stomach as his leg slipped over hers. He sighed against her collarbone, feeling tired and achy as usual. She sensed his unease, and gently dragged her fingers through his hair, making him groan in delight.
“Are you okay?” she whispered. “That must have been a shock to see them.”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I’m glad they’re alright.”
Harry sighed again. He hated that she knew him so well. “I wish Tonks hadn’t told them what happened.”
“They would have found out eventually, Harry. They’ve spent nearly two weeks wondering if you’re alive or not.”
“I know, it’s just too much for them. They were really upset, she told them too much.”
“Of course they’re upset,” Ginny retorted, shifting beneath him so that she could tip his face towards hers. “They’re outraged for you. This type of thing shouldn’t happen, especially to you.”
Harry shrugged, not really wanting to think about it anymore. Getting comfortable, his stroked the skin on Ginny’s stomach, feeling her breaths slow and even out as she went back to sleep. Her hand in his hair had stilled, and he wasn’t quite relaxed enough to fall back asleep just yet. He dozed in and out of sleep, nightmares constantly rousing him back to awareness as they had been all week, and he hated that it woke Ginny so often. She would be better off if he slept elsewhere, but he couldn’t bear to suggest it to her, even though he knew she would follow him to wherever else he chose to sleep. He tried not to dwell on his nightmares, or on the way that sleeping beside Ginny used to ward them off, instead focusing on the way she would rouse him with quick kisses.
She woke him the same way early that morning, light beginning to filter through the edges of the curtains as she kissed along his jaw. He roused quickly, slipping one arm around her waist while his other clenched into the hair at the back of her head. Sealing his lips around hers, he kissed her deeply, and she didn’t seem to care about the possibility of morning breath, kissing him back deeply.
“Was I dreaming, again?” he asked quietly, his voice raspy. She was hovering over him now, her knee slipped between his, giving him the perfect opportunity to pull her close against him.
“Harry,” she began sternly, though she didn’t pull away. “No, you weren’t dreaming.”
“Then why the wake up?” he asked, propping himself up on his elbow and preparing to roll them over.
She laughed, knowing that he was trying to do. “Stop it…the Order are here to see you.”
A/N Sorry about the long delay, I forgot about the queue closure over Christmas! To make up for the delay, I'll be posting chapter 46 very shortly!
Please don't forget to review, they seem to be in such short supply on other websites where I post, and I love the reviews I always get here. Thanks to all my readers.
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