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Protection by PrincessPotter
Chapter 5 : Making Mistakes
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 79


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The evening of the banquet, Harry stood in the kitchen waiting for Ginny to finish getting ready. He pulled on the collar of his dress robes. He’d only had them on for about ten minutes and he was already uncomfortable.

Cursing Remus for giving him this assignment for the hundredth time since putting on his robes, Harry boosted himself up on the counter and picked up his butterbeer. He took a large gulp, but almost didn’t get it down. At that moment Ginny appeared in the doorway and his body jerked to attention.

Bloody hell.

She was looking down at her dress as she pulled at the side distractedly.

Harry took a deep breath and forced his face into what he hoped was a neutral expression before she looked up. She was a vision in a long emerald green gown. The fabric hung on her body, enhancing her curves and showing off her slender frame to perfection. It was a halter at the top with two pieces of fabric that came up to clasp behind her neck, creating a deep V and leaving her freckled shoulders bare.

Harry swallowed reflexively as he eyed them. The urge to count each tiny fleck on her skin automatically popped into his head. In fact, that initial thought, quickly led to an urge to find and count the freckles on her entire body.

Dropping his gaze to the floor, he stifled a groan. Attempting to force his mind away from her, he began repeating the latest Quidditch stats in his head.

He'd been repeating those stats in his head a lot over the last week.

Although they'd chosen to simply not speak about the kiss, pretending instead that nothing had happened, Harry found forgetting about it to be much more difficult. He was a bit worried actually because he wanted to kiss her constantly and his imagination didn’t seem to care about the particulars. Every time he turned around, he pictured himself kissing her or holding her in some random place or another. His mind seemed determined to torture him with scenes of them together and it was driving him crazy.

Most days he went to bed with a bad mood and a headache. The way she looked tonight, he was sure to end the evening with a splitting migraine and a mood foul enough to rival any Hungarian Horntail.

Ginny had left her hair down and it fell in loose waves around her face as she looked up at him.

“Ready?” she asked, still fidgeting with her dress.

Harry nodded, jumped off the counter and walked towards her.

Ginny’s eyes ran over him and her breath quickened. Spinning on her heel as she felt a flush rising to her cheeks, she walked back out of the room

Harry sucked in a quick breath as she left. The cut of the dress showed off the gentle curve of her back, the fabric gathering low at the base of her spine. His eyes ran over her skin as he followed her out of the kitchen.

He pulled at his collar again, suddenly feeling much hotter than before and repeating his new mantra of only a job in his head as he walked.

When they arrived at the banquet, Harry looked for the Aurors assigned to the perimeter and nodded to them as they passed.

“Stop fidgeting,” he said, noticing Ginny pulling at her dress again, as if looking for lint that he knew wasn’t there. “You look brilliant. Let’s get this over with.”

He put a hand on her lower back and guided her into the room where they were quickly surrounded by her friends from work.

Ginny talked and laughed; introducing Harry to anyone he hadn’t already met through the weeks, but Ginny was a little distracted. Despite her best efforts, she was just unable to truly focus with Harry’s hand on her skin.

Neal turned out to be a rather normal looking bloke in Harry’s opinion. He tried to keep his face neutral as they were introduced; although the scowl inside was doing its best to get out.

If there was an opposite of Harry, Neal was it. He had light brown hair that was smooth and sleek and probably never out of place. He seemed so polished and refined in fact, that he verged on stiff in Harry’s eyes. He had a hard time picturing Neal as someone Ginny would be attracted too.

“Good evening, Ginny,” Neal smiled at her, holding out his hand. He glanced at Harry for a second as she replied before turning his attention back to her and raising her hand to his lips. “You’re looking particularly lovely this evening.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed automatically.

Neal was all politeness and manners and Harry found himself getting more and more bored by the second as they made small talk.

Eventually they found their table near the front and sat down. Neal ended up at a table across the room and Harry felt his face twist into a smug smirk at the fact that he was the one who got to be at Ginny’s table.

“What is it?” Ginny questioned, breaking into his thoughts.

He glanced over to find her giving him a probing look as if trying to figure out what he was thinking. Harry ran a hand through his hair and shifted in his seat.

“Nothing,” he shrugged.

She continued to watch him but he schooled his features into an impassive expression and after a few seconds she turned away.

Harry tried not to tell her what he was thinking, but after only a few seconds the urge to say what was on his mind got the best of him.

Ginny felt him shift as he leaned in and turned back toward him. She leaned in a bit too when she saw his position.

“I can’t believe you were going to go out with that guy.”

Amusement flash across her face before she shook her head.

“What’s wrong with him,” she asked, looking over toward Neal’s table.

“He’s boring,” Harry insisted, causing her to look back over at him.

He sounded so much like Ron at that moment that it was suddenly obvious that they were best friends. His expression even looked a bit like Ron and she laughed.

“I think they call it stable, Harry,” she smirked at him, but he just shook his head and moved a bit closer.

“No…they call it boring. You would run right over him in a second,” he said.

“It wasn’t even a real date, Harry,” she clarified with a laugh, her eyes sparkling. “It’s not like I’m marrying him.”

Harry knew she meant it as a joke, but something roared to life inside of him anyway. Suddenly he felt sick to his stomach and he was filled with an intense need to get Neal kicked out of the banquet.

Damn right she’s not marrying him.

The ferocity of his reaction to the concept of her married startled him a bit and left him with a bad taste in his mouth. He straightened up quickly and stared at his plate with a frown.

He was thankful when their dinner appeared on their plates, interrupting them and he gave his insides a firm shake. What was he thinking? He shook his head at himself. Shoving his thoughts to the side, he focused on his food instead.

~..~..~..~..~..~

When dinner and the initial presentations were over, the hall expanded, creating a dance floor that was soon crowded with couples.

“Should we dance?” Ginny asked after awhile, looking over at him.

“I don’t dance,” he said his eyes moving over the crowd.

Ginny cocked her head for a second before shrugging and turning back to the dance floor.

“That’s fine. I’m sure someone else will ask me.”

Harry's eyes moved to her as she turned away. After a minute he gave a pitiful groan as he stood up and moved in front of her holding out his hand.

Ginny looked up at him and smiled. “It’s really ok, Harry. I can dance with someone else.”

“Ginny,” he said in a warning voice.

Fighting a smile Ginny took his hand and let him pull her up from her seat.

“You owe me for this,” he said.

Ginny rolled her eyes as he led her out onto the floor.

Harry pulled her to him as they began to dance, her skin smooth under his palm as he slid it down to rest on her lower back. Clasping her hand in his, he tilted it toward him when he felt the warmth of the stone pressed against his fingers.

“Where did you get that?” he asked as he looked at the ring she was wearing. It was gold with a large emerald in the center, surrounded by tiny diamonds. He ran his finger over the stone as he studied it. He felt like he’d seen something like it before but couldn’t remember where.

“It was a Christmas present,” she said, gazing at it. She loved this ring. Her parents had given it to her and it always made her feel safe and beautiful when she put it on. She knew it was silly, but it had always been that way. They'd surprised her with it five years ago and she didn’t like to think about how much it must have cost them.

“It’s beautiful,” Harry murmured.

Ginny looked up at him to find his emerald eyes staring at her. She felt her face flush a little as she looked away.

Ever since they'd kissed again in her doorway, their relationship had been strictly platonic and she vaguely tried to remind herself of that as she sank into him.

She didn’t try very hard.

Truthfully, she didn’t want to as they moved back and forth, slowly turning in a circle, his nearness filling her senses.

“You know how to dance,” she said suddenly looking up at him. The heat in his eyes shot straight through her, causing the longing inside of her to flare up with a vengeance.

How did he expect her to stick to the professional approach when he kept looking at her like that?

“I said that I don’t dance, not that I don’t know how,” he replied, holding her gaze as they turned. “I’ll have you know I was quite the dancer at the Yule ball during fourth year.”

“Yeah right,” Ginny replied with a smirk. “That was Neville. You and Ron sulked at the table all night.”

Harry laughed for a second before he blinked and furrowed his brow. “You know Neville? Wait, what did you say? Were you there?”

Ginny opened her mouth and shut it, her confused expression matching his.

“I…well…no, of course not. Ron told me about it,” she said before she winced and shook her head.

“Are you ok?”

She blinked and looked up at him as she brought her hand to her temple for a second. “I’m fine…just…a headache. I guess Ron told me about the dance.”

Harry studied her for a second longer before shaking his head vaguely. “Why he would tell you about that I have no idea. It wasn’t our finest moment,” he said, beginning to smile. “We had girl problems that night.”

“Really? Who were you pining after?”

Harry’s smile faltered a bit and he adjusted his grip on her. “No one important.”

Ginny cocked her head to the side.

“Liar. Who was it?”

Harry grimaced and mumbled under his breath.

Ginny leaned closer.

“I can’t hear you,” she whispered and Harry shut his eyes.

“Cho Chang,” he ground out.

Ginny threw back her head with a laugh.

“Are you serious?”

She laughed again but clamped her mouth shut, trying to muffle it at his expression.

“It’s not funny.”

She nodded but couldn’t help it as a giggle slipped out.

“Whatever, Harry," she said giving up her attempt to keep her expression serious. "I think it’s bloody hilarious. How long did you date anyway?”

“Not as long as you would think," he defended. "We got together years later. I met her again after I graduated.”

Ginny’s eyes twinkled as she struggled not to laugh. Harry rolled his eyes.

“Stop giggling, Ginny. People are staring.”

“I’m sorry…I just can’t…it’s just…” she broke into a fit of giggles but quickly trailed off as he pulled her up against him, coming to a stop on the dance floor.

Her mind went quite blank, forgetting about everything except his body pressed to hers and his breath on her neck as he moved his head down, his cheek grazing hers as he moved his mouth to her ear.

“Stop laughing, please,” he breathed.

She shivered slightly and let out a soft, “ok.”

Harry held her to him for a second longer and Ginny could have sworn that his lips brushed against her skin before he pulled back; resuming their movement as though they'd never stopped.

Looking up at him, Ginny let her eyes move over his features.

She fiddled with his collar, running her finger back and forth lightly over his skin as her eyes moved back up to his. Ginny felt the room getting warmer as they looked at each other; tension building slowly between them.

Harry stared down at her and after a few moments he pulled her a little closer.

“It’s a nice party,” she said softly and he swallowed, feeling her fingers graze his skin above his collar, still reeling a bit from the feeling of her pulled up against him.

“Yeah,” he said, watching the way the candles reflected in her eyes, making them sparkle. He moved his hand, running his fingers over her back and he felt goose bumps erupt on her skin.

“Cold?” he asked softly, but she shook her head no and his stomach tightened. Harry’s eyes dropped to her lips as he moved her hand to his shoulder. He ran his hand down her arm and then down her side before bringing it to rest on her back, drawing her closer again.

Their bodies were touching now and the rest of the room seemed to fade away as they moved, staring at each other. Harry’s stomach tightened again and he began to feel overwhelmed by her. He couldn’t seem to fight down the longing, the feelings coursing through him. Feelings that were racing quickly towards something he didn’t understand.

His whole world, his whole existence was built on control and every feeling and thought that was racing around inside of him was anything but controlled. He didn’t understand it and it scared him a little – she scared him. He'd never felt so strongly, so quickly about anyone.

He'd never been in love.

He'd tried to love Cho and couldn’t, and the fact that he seemed so willing and able to go there with Ginny frightened him.

Finally he dragged his eyes away from hers, looking over her shoulder; looking for a distraction. He found a big one in Ron who was walking around the edge of the dance floor. When his eyes caught Harry’s, he nodded hello. Harry shifted back a little automatically and Ginny looked over her shoulder, following his gaze to her brother.

Harry looked back down at her when he felt her fingers begin to run back and forth on the back of his neck, playing with his hair.

She brought her eyes back to his before pulling him close again, laying her head on his chest and closing her eyes. They fit together and Ginny was pretty sure she could just stay like this forever. Stay with him forever.

Her eyes shot open at her thoughts but somehow it didn’t scare her, it seemed right. They seemed right.

When the dance ended, they stayed together for a second before Harry backed up, running a hand through his hair. He hadn’t been able to think of anything other than how amazing she was, and how amazing she felt for at least the last two minutes and he kept picturing them dancing outside. He shook his head at his ramped imagination as he took her hand and led her from the floor, ignoring his headache and making his way to Ron.

When they got to his side Harry dropped her hand as Ron looked his sister up and down with a frown.

“What are you wearing?” he asked, crossing his arms.

“A dress, Ron. What are you wearing?”

“It’s practically indecent!” he said with a huff.

“It is not!" she replied, her hands flying to her hips. "And you wouldn’t say that if Hermione was wearing it. I think it looks nice. What do you think, Harry?” she asked, doing a little turn.

Harry was immediately distracted by the way the fabric pulled against her and the light played on her hair.

“Umm…”

“Don’t answer that, Harry,” Ron warned and Harry shoved his hands into his pockets.

Ginny shot Harry a look of contempt and he shrugged with a small smile.

“He said not to answer.”

Ginny crossed her arms over her chest.

"Well then you can stay here with my idiot brother doing everything he says. I’m going to get a drink,” she said turning and walking off.

Ron and Harry watched her leave, her back straight and her hair flowing behind her. They had a surprisingly similar reaction as they noticed several male heads turn towards her as she passed them.

“See you later then,” Harry said as he followed her with his eyes.

“I’ll send Nick to find you if we see anything suspicious,” Ron replied.

Harry nodded, walking in the direction Ginny had gone.

He found her standing by the drink table holding two glasses of champagne.

“Going a little fast don’t you think?” he asked when he reached her.

She made a face at him, handing one of the glasses to him. When she headed to a table he reached out and stopped her.

“Don’t walk off again,” he said.

Looking over at him, she arched her brow at him.

“Stick up for me next time and maybe I won’t,” she replied, taking a drink of champagne and pulling away from him.

Harry set the drink she'd given him back on the table before he walked after her.

“Ginny, I was not going to get drawn into a debate about how great you do or do not look with your brother,” he said to her as he sank into the chair beside her. “It’s a little hard to protect you if I’m dead.”

Ginny didn’t look at him, but after a second she started smiling. He'd only be dead if he disagreed with Ron’s opinion.

~..~..~..~..~..~

They were sitting at the table later when a man approached them. Ginny had just pointed out an unfortunate witch across the room wearing a hideous dress and they were laughing, their heads close together.

Harry reached out and pushed a piece of hair out of her face and her laughter began to fade as his hand lingered on her cheek. As soon as he touched her he knew it was a mistake. Harry couldn’t seem to bring himself to pull his hand away and his eyes dropped to her lips.

“Hey, Harry. Hello, Ginny,” the man said, drawing their attention to him.

Harry dropped his hand and straightened up.

“Oh hi, Dean,” Ginny said, smiling up at him. “Do you know Harry?” she asked, looking between them.

“We went to Hogwarts together,” Harry said, holding out his hand to say hello to him. “How did you end up at this thing?” Harry asked as Dean shook his hand.

“I work at the hospital With Ginny sometimes. Actually,” he said, looking over at her, “do you mind if I steal her from you…for a dance?”

Ginny glanced at Harry and he paused for a second before shrugging with a smile.

“Just bring her back in one piece,” he said meeting her eyes.

Dean drew Ginny up from the chair and she looked back at Harry for a second as Dean led her away. Harry gave her a small nod of assurance as Dean led her onto the dance floor.

As Ginny danced with Dean she looked around, searching for Harry. He was lounging back lazily in his chair, watching them as he fiddled with her empty champagne glass. His body appeared relaxed, but Ginny could see the predatory look in his eyes when they met hers. She looked away feeling butterflies in her stomach.

“You look beautiful tonight, Gin,” Dean murmured as he moved her hand up to his shoulder and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her a little closer.

Ginny suddenly felt a little uncomfortable, as though she was doing something wrong and her eyes went back to Harry. He was still watching them, but he was farther away now as she realized that they'd moved to the other side of the dance floor.

Harry watched the dancing couple from his chair. Although he was lounging back in it, he was not relaxed. He couldn’t help feeling that Dean’s hands were way too low on her back and he shoved down the jealously that decided to flood through him when he saw Dean pull her closer.

Harry’s eyes narrowed instinctively and the headache that had been threatening began to pound as his imagination ran wild. He suddenly had no problem picturing Dean and Ginny locked together in furious kiss and his stomach turned over. Harry cursed and shook his head at the image. He felt like an immature teenager.

She's just dancing with him for merlin’s sake, he reminded himself. She's not even mine...I have no right to be jealous.

Unfortunately, reminding himself of the facts didn't make his feelings go away.

Harry knew he needed to take a step back. He was getting too attached...She was distracting him.

He hadn’t even noticed Dean walk up earlier because he'd been too focused on her. If it had been an attack he would have been caught completely off guard.

In fact, if Malfoy himself had walked into the room during the last two minutes he wouldn’t have noticed because he wasn’t watching. He was too busy looking at Dean’s hands and Ginny’s hair and the way her dress clung to her as she moved…

This is a job, he reminded himself firmly again.

He knew he would never be able to face her family or himself if anything happened to her because he made a mistake. If keeping her safe meant he couldn’t have her that was how it would be. How it had to be.

He looked up as Nick, one of the Aurors assigned to the party, walked up in front of him.

~..~..~..~..~..~

“Come on, I want to show you something,” Dean urged with a smile. He took her hand and started to pull her off of the dance floor even though the song wasn’t finished.

“Oh, well, I think I’d rather stay here actually,” Ginny said, turning to look at Harry but he wasn’t watching them, he was talking to someone.

“Come on Gin, it’ll just take a second. I thought of you when I saw it and I know you’ll appreciate it.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

“We found a bloke unconscious in the loo, but we think he’s just had too much to drink,” Nick said.

Harry nodded and looked past him. He was searching for Ginny but he didn’t see her. Leaning in his chair, he tried to get a better view as Nick continued talking.

“Who was the unconscious guy?” Harry asked, standing up and searching the crowd. He still couldn’t see her.

Something didn’t feel right and he began to walk towards the dance floor, looking for her red hair.

“Um, Thompson something or something Thompson maybe…Dean Thompson I think it was,” Nick answered as he followed him.

“Dean Thomas,” Harry corrected automatically as his stomach dropped.

Nick snapped his fingers.

“That’s it, hey how did you - ”

“Get everyone in here,” Harry ordered as he started pushing people out of his way to get through the dance floor.

~..~..~..~..~..~

“Dean, I said I want to go back, let go of me,” Ginny said, beginning to pull against him as he led her down a long hall. “Dean, I said let me go,” she said when he didn't stop.

Yanking her arm out of his grip she began to walk quickly back to the ballroom.

“Oh, don’t worry, Gin,” he said as he grabbed her arm. Pulling her back to him, he suddenly pushed her hard against the wall. “I’m sure Potter will be here any second.”

Fear flooded her body; the wall cold against her bare back as he leaned into her. He smiled and his black hair became blonde as his skin lightened.

“Surprise,” Malfoy said softly, relishing the panic he saw fill her eyes.

Ginny opened her mouth to scream but he crushed his mouth to hers, muffling the sound.

He pushed against her, molding their bodies together as Ginny struggled to push him away. He released her lips only long enough to clamp his hand over her mouth and turn her head to the side.

“This is a very nice dress, Ginny,” he murmured in her ear as he trailed his hand down the exposed skin of her side. “Did you wear this just for me?”

Ginny narrowed her eyes as they filled with tears. Her response was muffled by his hand, but he didn’t miss her knee when she brought it up between his legs as hard as she could. She shoved him away as he doubled over.

She moved unsteadily away from the wall and whipped her wand out of the side of her dress. It was shaking slightly as she pointed it at him but she just narrowed her eyes as she began to back away, walking backwards down the hall. She knew he would catch her or stun her before she got anywhere in these heels so she shot a stunning spell at him.

Malfoy was still doubled over but he flicked his wand, deflecting it into the wall. He rose up with a grimace but it shifted to a smirk as he began to follow her retreat.

He brought his wand up in a flash, throwing a stunning spell of his own at her.

“Protego!” she blurted out without thinking and a rather impressive shield charm erupted from her wand, bouncing his spell back toward him. He deflected it as she threw a hex at him but he just turned on his heel and Disapparated a second before it hit him.

Ginny let out shaky breath when he was gone. She felt like sinking to the floor and crying with relief but first she wanted to get to Harry.

She hiked up her skirt with her free hand and spun around only to run straight into Malfoy, who had reappeared behind her without a sound. She cried out in surprise as he caught her arms and shoved her back into the wall, ripping her wand out of her hand and throwing it down the hall.

“Where were we,” he sneered at her before he slammed his lips back down onto hers to muffle her cries. He pressed his leg in between hers so that she couldn’t hit him again as she struggled to break away from him.

Harry came through the doors at the end of the hall an instant later. Rage erupted within him as he saw Ginny pinned against the wall by Malfoy at the other end. He ran towards them, raising his wand. As he approached them he started to throw a curse but Malfoy pulled away from the wall at the last second. He thrust Ginny in front of him, holding her against him as he pushed his wand into her neck.

“Not too close,” he warned, pushing his wand harder into Ginny’s throat until she winced. “Nice of you to join us, Potter, he sneered, spitting out Harry’s name. “Although I thought you’d get here just a bit sooner. Not slacking off are we?”

Harry’s heart was pounding, but his wand was steady as he narrowed his eyes. Ginny said his name and his eyes flicked to hers. The need to protect her flooded his brain even more than before as he saw her fear.

“Let her go, Malfoy,” he said bringing his eyes back up.

“Oh, don’t worry, Potter. I’m not going to take her with me today,” Malfoy said, as he began to run his hand over her. “I just want us to all be clear that she belongs to me.”

Ginny tensed, feeling like she might be sick on the spot as revulsion flooded her body.

Harry’s blood began to boil as Malfoy’s hand found her breast and Ginny cried out, trying to jerk away as he slipped his hand inside of her dress to her skin.

“When I’m ready for her, I’m going to take her and you won’t be able to stop me.”

“I’ll stop you,” Harry said through clenched teeth, but Malfoy just smiled cruelly and moved his head down to her neck, keeping his eyes on Harry.

“I’m going to take her innocence, Potter,” he said kissing her neck. “I’m going to make her scream and beg for more, and I’m going to do things to her that she's never even dreamed about.”

Ginny’s body was shaking with fear and she couldn’t help it. She began to cry, sobbing Harry’s name softly, trying to block out Malfoy’s lips and his hand on her skin as he continued talking.

“When she makes me the most powerful wizard in the world, I’m going to kill you. But hell, Potter, I may let you watch me take her again before I do, since you want her so badly.”

“You’re never going to be the most powerful wizard in the world,” Harry said, his eyes flashing with silent fury.

Malfoy arched his brow but Aurors began streaming into the hall before he could respond.

“I guess that’s my cue,” he said. “I’ll see you soon,” he whispered into Ginny’s ear, flicking it with his tongue. He buried his face in her hair and murmured something Ginny couldn’t understand.

She cried out a second later and Harry took an automatic step forward as the tip of Malfoy’s wand glowed red, burning her neck.

“So you’ll remember you’re mine,” he told her before he thrust her forward and spun, disappearing without a sound.

Ginny’s hand went to her neck as she stumbled forward and fell to her knees, tripping on her dress as Harry came towards her. He dropped down in front of her and pulled her hand away from her neck.

“It hurts,” she choked out.

Harry nodded, tilting her head to the side and pushing her hair over her shoulder so he could see. A dark brand of the letter M was quickly appearing on her skin, burning deeper by the second.

“What did he say?” Harry demanded as he touched the mark. Ginny cried out and tried to jerk away but he held her in place.

“Ginny, what did he say?” he repeated forcefully but she just shook her head as she whimpered.

“I don’t know! But it hurts! Get it off!”

Harry gritted his teeth as she whimpered; her eyes full of pain as her tears ran down her cheeks. “GET IT - ”

“Ok, I’m getting it off,” Harry soothed, running a hand over her cheek. “Hold still I’m getting it off.” He brought his wand up and murmured an incantation under his breath. The mark, that was dark and bleeding slightly now, began to fade almost immediately as Ginny’s skin healed itself.

The bleeding stopped but the mark remained faintly on her skin like a scar.

Harry narrowed his eyes. He wasn't going to let it be permanent. He refused to let her have it as a reminder and he murmured another incantation, pointing his wand at the mark. It glowed blue for a second but didn’t fade and his anger mounted. He knew he was more powerful than Mafloy. He knew he could counter whatever charm had been used so he shut his eyes and cupped his hand over her neck. He gritted his teeth and focused his energy and after a second Ginny cried out as her neck began to burn. She tried to jerk away but he held her in place as he breathed out words she didn’t understand.

As quickly as the pain came, it faded and Harry removed his hand as he opened his eyes. He took an unsteady breath as his pupils returned to normal. He ran his fingers over her skin, the mark fading away completely now, and Ginny let out a sob as he pulled her against him. He ran his hand through her hair, kissing her temple as she cried.

“Is it…is it gone?”

“Yeah, it’s gone,” he assured her softly.

“Bloody…bloody hell, H-Harry…he’s…”

Ginny trailed off with a sob as Malfoy’s words kept repeating in her mind. She kept her face against his chest as he held her, running his hand up and down her back as she tried to bring her tears under control.

“It’s ok, Gin,” he said to her, lowering his head and talking softly. “It’s not going to happen. I won’t let it happen. You’re fine. You’re safe. He isn’t taking you anywhere; ever. I promise.”

The words rang false in his ears even as he said them, but he hoped she would believe him. He felt nauseous, as the sight of Malfoy touching her refused to leave his mind. Malfoy could have taken her right then and he wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.

Harry looked over her head at Ron who was at the front of the group running towards them. “We’re leaving. Find Dumbledore now and meet us at Headquarters,” he said before he stood up, pulling Ginny up with him and disappearing with a small pop.

~..~..~..~..~..~

“He just walked right in!” Harry bellowed before he stormed away, going back to his pacing and ignoring the men around him. “What's the point of having Aurors at every door if they aren’t going to do their job?!”

“Look Harry, we aren’t sure yet how he got in but we’re going to find out. We are going to find him,” Remus said, leaning against the table as he watched Harry swing back around.

“Find him? When?! When he feels like being found? It's been three weeks and where are you? Right where you were when you bloody started!”

“He's well hidden, Harry," Ron replied tightly. "You know that."

“Well, you should be trying harder, Ron! He's not so hidden that he can’t just waltz into any Auror guarded situation that he wants to. She's your sister,” Harry spat as he turned to glare at him.

“What does that mean?" Ron demanded, crossing his arms. "That I’m not trying hard enough? That I’m…that everyone’s not here every bloody second trying to figure it out?! Because if that’s what you are implying, Harry, then...”

“I’m implying that I would have found him by now!”

“Oh, fabulous, Harry! Do tell us how you would have done that because we would just love to hear it!”

Harry’s eyes blazed and he opened his mouth but Dumbledore spoke first from his seat.

“I think that’s quite enough for the moment,” he said mildly from his seat. He felt Harry’s power rippling through the room as he fumed. Rising, he walked around to the other side of the table, forcing Harry’s attention back to him and away from Ron. “Everyone here is doing their job.”

“Really? Doesn’t seem like it.”

“Everyone is doing their job, Harry," Dumbledore repeated, giving him a pointed look. "I’m sure when you've taken a step back from your anger you will apologize to Mr. Weasley. I'm sorry this happened, but Miss Weasley is unharmed and I’m confident we will find Malfoy.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Ginny sat at Harry’s desk, a blanket around her shoulders and a cold cup of coffee in her hands. Harry was in the room behind her with Ron, Dumbledore and Remus. There was another Auror as well, but she didn’t know who he was.

She stared at the cup, swirling the liquid around as she waited. She could hear Harry yelling but she couldn’t understand what he was saying.

A few minutes later the door opened. She looked back, but it was the Auror she didn’t know who was leaving. He left the door partially open and she watched the men inside. She saw Dumbledore speaking to Harry who was pacing back and forth. Her view was blocked by Ron as he began to shut the door. He met her eyes and gave her a small reassuring smile as he closed the door again.

Ginny spun back around as her eyes narrowed. They’re talking about me so why can’t I hear? Why am I stuck sitting by myself in the middle of an empty office while the grownups figure out what to do with me?

Her thoughts trailed off and she tensed as she looked around at the empty room. He'd just left her out here by herself and images of Malfoy shoving her into the wall in the empty hall shot into her head. Malfoy had gotten to her twice when she was supposedly secure. What was to stop him now? She was completely exposed here.

Shooting out of her chair she whirled around only to run straight into a wall of male.

She let out a very un-Ginny-like squeal and scrambled backwards, trying to get away. She ran into Harry’s desk and his lamp went crashing to the floor. Flinging out her wand, she threw the first spell that shot into her head.

“Levicorpus!”

Ginny didn’t even recognize the spell that came out of her mouth but it seemed to work just fine as the door flew open and Harry came running out with his wand drawn.

Ginny was practically on top of his desk as she shook, her wand thrown out to hold off…Sam?

Sam Mullinsky, one of the younger Aurors was hanging upside down by his ankle as he struggled to get his robes out of his face, an empty mug in his hand and coffee all over the floor below him.

Harry didn’t bother to try to figure it out as he flicked his wand. Sam fell to the floor in a heap but before he could stand up, Harry grabbed him by the collar and hauled him to his feet. Harry jerked him away from the desk, pulling his face up to his and jamming his wand into his neck.

“What did you do to her?” he demanded.

Sam sputtered as he dropped the coffee cup. The handle snapped off as it hit the floor with a clang.

“Nothing, I…honest, Harry…I didn’t do anything! I just thought she would want some coffee…she ran into me and then freaked out!”

Harry glared at him for a second more before he eased his grip a bit and looked over at Ginny. She was staring guiltily at Sam as her cheeks blazed scarlet. His grip eased some more as her gaze moved to him.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled sheepishly, and Harry moved to her, shoving Sam away from him.

“Did he scare you?” he asked softly. Ginny didn’t respond as she began to melt under his gaze...until she remembered she was upset with him. This was really all his fault anyway for leaving her out here.

She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and she cocked her head at him.

Harry furrowed his brow a little, not understanding the look she gave him before she pulled herself up and turned to Sam. She flashed him a smile and put her hand on Harry’s stomach, pushing him back slightly as she moved forward.

“Sam, is it? I’m so sorry. I’m a little jumpy I guess, but I would really love a cup if you’re still offering.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?" Harry asked, catching her arm and turning her back toward him. "Will you be ok out here with him?”

Ginny arched her brow as she considered him.

“You didn’t have any problem leaving me out here alone before,” she said, surprised a little at the coldness of tone as she spread her arms. “Alone in an empty room where anyone could get to me.”

He frowned at her. "Malfoy can’t get to you in here, Ginny. It’s protected.”

“Like the banquet was protected?” she shot back.

Harry's grip tightened on her elbow reflexively. It didn’t help his composure to have her spouting all of his thoughts to him in that tone…with those eyes.

“I'm right in the other room,” he assured her but she just scoffed.

“Well that makes me feel loads better since you were in the same room last time,” she countered sarcastically as she pulled her arm free and crossed them over her chest. “Whatever. I’ll be fine here, Harry. Just go back in; no need to stop talking about my problem without me on my account.”

She watched his jaw clench as he studied her before he turned his head to look at Sam.

“You stay with her until we’re finished. Get her whatever she needs.”

Sam nodded and turned, heading out of the room to get another coffee.

Ginny’s eyes widened when Harry turned to go back in without another word. She gaped at him for a second before she moved to catch his arm.

“Wait, that’s it?" she demanded. "You’re just going to go back in and leave me alone? I want to go in there with you,” she said as she pointed at the door.

“I won’t be long and then...”

“Bullocks! I'm not a child! You're in there talking about me and I want to know what's going on!”

Her eyes were flashing and they practically ignited when he simply tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and went back in without replying.

She spun on her heel with a huff and her murderous gaze fell onto Sam who was coming back in with a fresh drink for her.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry shut the door behind him and sank into one of the chairs at the table. He felt horrible. She was angry at him as she should be. Her jabs about their lack of protection churned in his stomach.

“I want to know what you know, Ron. Where you think he is, where you know he isn’t, how close he is to being ready…”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry tried not to flinch as Ginny's door slammed. Hiis hand went automatically to the wall to steady the painting as he headed down the hall after her. Ginny had been horrible to him since he'd finished in the conference room.

At first he hadn’t minded the treatment, even felt like he deserved it somewhat. Now he was getting a little annoyed despite himself.

She's safe. She's still alive, isn't she?

He hadn’t failed her completely, yet she acted like he'd dropped her into Malfoy’s lap and said ‘here she is, do what you want.’

But you kind of did, didn’t you, his mind reminded him.

He hadn’t been on his guard and he'd just handed her right over for that dance.

Coming to a stop in front of her door, he ran a hand through his hair before knocking. He waited a few seconds and when he didn’t get a response he went in. He found her sitting on the end of the bed as if she was waiting for him with her arms crossed.

“How did I know you'd just come right on in,” she mused sarcastically as he shut the door.

Turning to face her, he lounged back against the door with his thumbs hooked in his pockets. He looked a little like he did at the banquet; his body curled in a tense knot despite his relaxed pose.

“I don’t want you in here, Harry.”

“What do you want me to say, Ginny?” he asked.

“There's nothing to say," she replied, standing up jerkily. "I want you to get out.”

“Look, I know you’re upset with me and I know I messed up, but I got there, didn’t I?” he said as he pushed off the door and walked toward her.

“I want you to get…out,” she repeated in a low voice.

Harry just kept coming and everything that had been simmering below the surface, every feeling and fear that she'd been ignoring since the banquet came raging to the surface.

“Not until you get over this,” he said as he got close.

“GET OUT!” she screamed at him as she slapped him across the face and stormed away.

For a second Harry was too surprised to move.

When she came to a stop at the window he walked over to her and turned her around.

“Ginny,” he soothed. “I know you are upset but...”

“UPSET?!” she screamed as she yanked her arm out of his grasp and swung at him again but he caught her wrist. “UPSET?! YOU’RE BLOODY RIGHT I’M UPSET! YOU WON’T EVEN TELL ME WHAT IS GOING ON! HE’S GOING TO TAKE ME AND KILL ME AND YOU CAN’T STOP HIM!!”

She dissolved into tears as soon as the words came out. She let him pull her into his arms, clinging to his shirt as she sobbed into his chest.

Harry rubbed her back silently as he got it. He felt like a right prat for not figuring it out sooner, but at least now he knew. She wasn’t angry, she was terrified and he pulled her closer.

“You heard h-him,” she choked out. “He’s going to…to take me, and…and…make you w-watch when he...” she trailed off with a fresh round of sobs.

Harry shut his eyes and rested his cheek on the top of her head for a minute as she trembled.

“Do you trust me?” he asked softly, running his hand down her hair and she sniffed. “Do you trust me, Ginny?” he repeated and she nodded her head against his shirt.

“Yes.”

“He was just talking. He was just trying to scare you, but I swear to you, it isn’t going to happen,” he said as he shifted back and rested his forehead against hers. “I want you to believe me when I say that it is not going to happen. He's never going to touch you again.”

She nodded again and let out another sniff as he cupped her neck tenderly.

“I will always protect you,” he promised softly. “I screwed up, but it won’t happen again. I swear.”

Ginny brought her hand up, placing it over the one he had on her neck as he moved his lips down to her ear.

“He'd have to take you from me to hurt you and I don’t feel the need to give you up at the moment,” he whispered.

Ginny felt him smile against her before he kissed her cheek a couple of times, lingering on her skin before pulling away.

“Get some rest, ok?” he suggested when she met his gaze.

Nodding, Ginny blinked back a fresh set of tears. Harry wiped them off with his thumb as they began to fall and she shook her head, moving her own hands up to wipe them off as well.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said with a sniff as her shaking fingers brushed quickly across her cheeks. “I’m sure you won’t believe this,” she said a little sarcastically as she thought about all of the times she'd fallen apart in front of him already. “But I’ve never been a crier before. I mean…you don’t grow up with six brothers and survive as a crybaby…you know?”

He smiled at her and leaned in a little. “It’s ok. I promise not to tell them what a softy you’ve become,” he said, and she choked out a laugh.

“Do you want anything,” he asked as he kissed her forehead.

“Some tea,” she suggested after a second and he nodded.

“Why don’t you get in bed and I’ll bring it to you.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry looked up a few minutes later when Ginny entered the kitchen. She'd changed into a pair of pajamas and had pulled her hair into a pony. He watched her closely as she crossed to him.

“I was going to bring it to you,” he said as she reached him.

“I know,” Ginny replied. “I didn’t feel like sleeping.”

He reached out without thinking and cupped her cheek in his hand. She tilted into it automatically, shutting her eyes briefly.

“Are you ok?” he asked softly and she looked up at him.

“Yeah. Just don’t feel like sleeping.”

He nodded and let his hand trail off of her cheek.

“To the sofa then?” he suggested and she nodded with a grin.

She picked up her cup and began to leave the kitchen when Harry moved to catch her.

“I’ll carry that,” he offered, cupping her elbow and reaching for her tea

Ginny bit back a chuckle as she looked up at him.

“What,” Harry asked at her expression and she shook her head.

“I may be a bit of a watering pot at the moment, but I’m not completely useless, Harry,” she said and he broke into a smile, opening the kitchen door and gesturing her out.

~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~


A huge hug and thanks to Sugarquills23 for her help with this one...you are a genius... ;)


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