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Chapter 10 : Protect Me
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…tap, tap, tap…
Hermione rolled over, burrowing further under the covers. Beside her, Ron continued to sleep soundly, his snores mixing with the persistent tapping on the window.
…tap, tap…tap, tap, tap…
Sighing, Hermione reluctantly dragged her eyes open. As Ron’s sleeping face came into focus, she huffed at the fact that he was, as always, completely unaffected by early owls. Knowing the message would be for him, she began pushing on his shoulder.
“Geroff,” he mumbled into his pillow, shifting away from her.
“Ron,” she urged, shoving his shoulder harder as the pecking continued. “Owl…”
When her fingers moved up to his face, pressing into his cheek and over his nose, Ron’s eyes finally flicked open. With a groan, he caught her hand and rolled toward her.
Flinging his arm over her stomach, he curled into her body.
“Early…” he mumbled as he buried his face into her neck.
“Owl, Ron,” Hermione repeated, shoving him off and rolling away.
As the repetitive tap, tap, tap, finally registered in his mind, Ron groaned again. Throwing off his covers, he dragged himself out of bed and stomped to the window.
“Bloody bird,” he grumbled as he shoved the window up.
Untying the parchment from the Ministry owl’s leg, he unrolled it with a yawn.
The owl fluttered its feathers, eyeing him haughtily before launching off of the windowsill and up into the sky.
Scratching his neck, Ron read the message and then smiled before heading back to the bed. When he reached it, he climbed up and crawled over to Hermione. Slipping under the covers, he buried his face into her neck with a sigh as he draped his arm and leg across her.
“Guess what?” he smiled against her skin.
“Hm,” she replied softly, placing her hand over his where it rested on her stomach.
“I don’t have to go to work this morning,” he whispered.
“Meeting this afternoon,” he explained, slipping his hand under her shirt. “So I have nothing to do for hours,” he added, caressing her skin.
“Mm,” she smiled as he began to nibble her ear. “Not fair…”
“Floo in sick,” he suggested.
“Can’t,” she replied regretfully. “I have things to do…”
“What things?” he asked, his voice muffled as he burrowed his face into her neck.
“Important things…” she replied, sighing as she shifted her head to give him better access.
He smiled against her skin, knowing he could get her to give in.
“They can wait,” he said between kisses. “Especially since you’re very sick, luv.”
“Oh, yes, dreadfully ill,” he explained gravely as he looked up at her, catching her lips curl into a small smile. Smoothing her sleep mussed hair away from her face, he kissed her lightly. “Your skin’s all flushed…I think you may have a fever,” he added against her mouth. “I have to take care of you.”
“That’s very nice of you,” she replied.
“I thought so,” he agreed with a grin.
Laughing softly, Hermione opened her eyes and gave up her attempt to sleep as Ron shifted on top of her.
As the morning dawned, Ginny slept peacefully on her back, her face turned toward Harry. During the night he’d rolled onto his stomach and was now sharing her pillow. His face was close to hers and he had one arm draped across her stomach, his hand wrapped protectively around her hip.
He was dreaming wonderful things, with a familiar flowery scent that permeated everything.
Harry stood in a field of wildflowers. He brushed his fingers over the tops of them as he glanced around. There were trees to his left, and rolling hills to his right. Turning slowly in a circle, he didn’t see anyone, a road or any buildings, but he wasn’t alarmed. The fear and tension from the day were gone, forgotten in the oasis of flowers. He felt calm, secure as the floral scent enveloped him. Shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath.
Opening them slowly, he smiled at the person suddenly standing before him.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” Ginny said. Her voice sounded far away, echoing slightly. A slight breeze caused her hair to wave behind her as her eyes twinkled at him.
“Have you?” he replied, taking a step forward.
She nodded, closing the distance between them. Reaching up, she smoothed her fingers over his forehead, running them down his face and across his cheeks before bringing them to rest on his lips. Rising up on her toes she replaced them with her lips.
Harry’s hands went to her waist, pulling her closer as he kissed her. It was gentle and slow, their lips lingering as their breath mingled.
Before he was ready, she pulled back. He reached for her as she took a step back but she just smiled and turned away.
“Wait!” he called as she began to run.
When she looked over her shoulder, she laughed and turned back toward him. She slowed to a walk, stepping backwards as she gestured for him to follow.
“Aren’t you coming?” she called before she turned away again.
Harry watched her run for a second before he took off after her. His legs were longer and he caught up to her quickly.
Laughing when he grabbed her arm, Ginny spun, sending them tumbling to the ground.
Harry shifted closer to the flowery scent beside him, unconsciously pulling Ginny toward him. In response, she rolled onto her side, bringing their faces nearly close enough to touch. Smiling slightly in his sleep, Harry relaxed, settling back into the dream.
Lying on his back, he watched the clouds roll slowly across the bright blue sky above him. A flash of red suddenly filled his vision as Ginny moved to lean over him.
She smiled down at him, one hand resting on the ground beside his head while the other came up to caress his cheek.
“Can we stay here?” he asked, pulling her down so that her upper body was resting on his.
“Always,” she breathed against his lips.
Shifting so that she was straddling his legs, she sat up, pulling him with her. She kissed him deeply as he wrapped securely in his arms.
Harry reveled in the taste of her, his senses on overload from the feeling of her body against his. Tilting his head back as she kissed down his neck, his gaze focused on the sky above them.
The white clouds were quickly being replaced by dark storm clouds. They rolled in, blocking out the sun, and Harry frowned as he felt the temperature plummet. Lightening shot across the sky, followed almost instantly by a crack of thunder.
While Ginny glanced up, watching the sky become dark, Harry gasped and clutched his stomach. His body began to tremble as his eyes dilated…
As his dreams darkened, Harry’s grip tightened on Ginny’s hip. It happened quickly, his body tensing and his brow furrowing while his fingers dug into her skin. Clenching his teeth, his body began to twitch, harder and more violently until finally, his eyes flew open as he let out a strangled cry.
Blinking, Ginny’s peaceful face came into focus before of him.
With a gasp, he jerked away from her, shifting so frantically that he tumbled off the side of the bed.
Ginny mumbled incoherently, tugging the twisted blankets back toward her and shifting onto her back as she continued sleeping.
Harry landed on the floor with a thud, his breathing shaky as his body trembled. His shirt was damp, his skin cold as the fabric clung to him. His heart was pounding in his chest and he squeezed his eyes shut. Pressing his hands against his face, he rolled onto his stomach and tried to control his breathing as his dream faded away.
“Shite,” he gritted out, attempting to force the sound of Ginny’s screams out of his head.
Resting his forehead against the cool floor, Harry took an unsteady breath. He felt nauseous when he finally tried to stand up and sank quickly back to the floor. Keeping his eyes shut, he forced back the power that was churning inside of him. When he was ready, he rose slowly to his hands and knees and crawled toward the window.
Eventually, Ginny awoke. Instinctively, she rolled toward Harry, seeking his warmth. She opened her eyes with a frown when she found his side of the bed empty and cold. Rising up onto her elbows, she glanced around in confusion.
She found him sitting with his back to her on the floor in front of the window. The morning sun was shining in, creating a hazy glow around his body. Slowly, she sank back down onto her stomach as her body relaxed. Tucking her hand under her pillow, she watched him silently for a few minutes before she rose from the bed and headed into the bathroom.
When she emerged, Harry was sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for her. He smiled and reached for her hands as she came to a stop in front of him.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Ok,” she shrugged.
Standing up, he brought his hand to her temple, searching for the spot where she had struck the dresser. “Any dizziness? Does your head hurt?”
“No.” Ginny shook her head.
“Good.” He smiled. “If you start hurting, you’ll tell me, right?”
“You were up early,” she noted, her eyes straying to where he’d been sitting by the window.
“Couldn’t sleep,” he explained nonchalantly.
Despite his casual tone, Ginny felt his body tense. Furrowing her brow, she glanced back up at him. She studied his face, but his expression was guarded. After a second he glanced away and she squeezed his hand.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” she asked, unsure of what he would be hiding.
Harry didn’t respond as he considered his answer. He didn’t want to tell her he’d been dreaming of her.
…He smiled as he slammed her small frame into the ground. His hand gripped her neck tightly as he watched her fight to breathe. Fear was oozing from her, filling his senses and leaving him almost heady with pleasure…
His grip on her hand tightened as he pushed the memory aside. He didn’t understand why he was still dreaming of hurting her.
Now that the tracer’s gone, there was no reason for it.
For a moment he wondered if Malfoy had choked her, but he didn’t want to ask. He didn’t want to bring up the attack if he didn’t have to.
“I…I was worried about you,” he lied, finally. It’s partially true anyway, he reasoned. I am worried about her.
Seeming to accept his answer without question, the confusion in Ginny’s expression softened.
“I’m ok though,” she assured him and he nodded.
“So…what do we do now?” she asked, tracing her thumb over his knuckles.
Harry remained silent as he considered her. After a moment, he bent his head, catching her lips in a kiss as he pulled her to him.
“Now… we get dressed,” he said. Slowly he smiled as he attempted to lighten the mood. “And I seem to remember something about you making me breakfast everyday, yeah?”
Ginny smiled as she kissed him again. When she pulled back, she shook her head.
“No, I didn’t want you to burn me as a thank you, remember?” she teased as she slipped out of his arms and headed for the door. She heard his laughter behind her and smiled.
“That’s not how I would thank you,” he declared as he followed her.
“Oh? Well, how would you thank me then?” she laughed as she walked.
Catching up to her, Harry grabbed her waist and pulled her back against him as they came to a stop. One hand slid around to her stomach, holding her in place, while the other moved her hair off of her shoulder, exposing her neck to him.
“I’m sure I can think of something,” he grinned into her skin as he began kissing her neck.
“I’m sure you could,” she giggled as she shut her eyes and tilted her head.
Harry’s hand slipped under her shirt, caressing her skin as he kissed her. After a moment he turned her around, resting his hands on her lower back as she met his gaze.
Shite, Harry thought as he watched her eyes darken for him.
It was almost frightening how quickly his desire for her could flare up. Dipping his head to kiss her, his fingers skimmed under the hem of her shirt as she rose up on her toes.
The kiss became anything but playful as Ginny moaned softly, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer.
“I think this will work…as a thank you,” Ginny sighed against his lips after awhile.
Harry chuckled and kissed her again before pulling back.
“Who said this was my thank you?” he replied, arching his brow.
Ginny started to respond but nothing came out as he leaned his forehead against hers.
“You have to make breakfast to get your thank you,” he murmured.
“Will it be better than this?” she asked.
“Could be,” he answered, pulling back with a mischievous smirk.
A thrill shot through her as their eyes locked.
“Really?” she teased. “How much better?”
She could feel his heart beating, racing with hers as heat built slowly between them.
“Depends on how good the breakfast is,” he replied before catching her lower lip between his teeth for a playful bite.
She wasn’t sure if they were still joking but she suddenly wanted him to be serious…and she wanted his “thank you” to very closely resemble the image of them on the bed that was currently flashing through her mind.
“Hmm…now you’ve got my attention,” she grinned, pulling him back into a quick kiss.
“Have I?” he asked, trying to deepen it but she pushed him back.
Slipping away, she hoped he hadn’t noticed the blush she could feel growing on her cheeks.
“I guess I should go get dressed, then,” she said lightly as she left the room.
Harry watched her leave before heading into the bathroom to shower.
Ginny walked quickly down the hall and entered her room. For a few minutes, she remained calm, humming softly as she opened her closet and rifled through her clothes for something to wear. It wasn’t until she pulled out a jumper and turned around that she suddenly remembered where she was. Her eyes fell on her bed and she blinked as uncertainty slammed into her.
In an instant, everything from the day before flashed through her mind. Instinctively, she pulled the jumper to her chest, covering herself as she glanced around. She bit her lip, irritated that in a matter for seconds she could go from being fine to being frightened.
Squaring her shoulders, she crossed resolutely to her bed and sat down. Clenching her jaw almost defiantly, she crossed her legs and set her jumper on her knees.
Folding her arms, she sat there…determined to stay until she was fine.
A feeling of despair grew slowly within her, however, until her face fell. Shifting back toward the center of the bed, she pulled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.
“Bollocks,” she whispered as she rested her forehead on her knees and squeezed her eyes shut.
She was so tired. As her mind traveled back to Malfoy and his attack, she shivered in revulsion. She knew Harry would protect her, would do anything to keep Malfoy from using her. She trusted him to keep her safe for as long as he needed to, but she just wanted it all to be over.
As long as he can use me, he’s not going to stop trying…
Turning her head, she rested her cheek on her knees as she stared at the wall beside her. Her thoughts wandered back and forth between Malfoy and Harry as her mind began to race.
Harry stood in front of his window, staring out at the street below as he pulled on his shirt. As he began to do up the buttons, his thoughts were occupied with possibilities of what might happen after breakfast. A grin grew slowly on his face before he shook his head with a chuckle.
Suddenly, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up as a feeling of being watched flooded his body. Glancing around, he found Ginny leaning against his doorframe, her hands playing with the tie of her robe as she considered him.
“Hey,” he said, turning to face her. His fingers continued buttoning his shirt as he eyed her questioningly. “Are you ok? Did you need something?” he asked as he began to cross toward her.
“No, I just…”
“Just what?” he asked, closing the distance between them.
“Well, I’ve been thinking,” she announced.
She nodded in response and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear as she looked up at him.
“About what you’re going to cook me?” he teased with a wink.
Ginny laughed softly and shook her head. Reaching out, she stopped his hands that were still working on his buttons as she stepped closer. Rising up she kissed him softly for a moment, gathering courage from the fact that he kissed her back.
“No,” she said softly. “I was thinking about something better than breakfast.”
She nodded, fiddling with the buttons of his shirt absently as she watched his eyes begin to darken.
“Malfoy’s not going to go away,” she commented softly.
Harry tensed at Malfoy’s name, his lips pursed as he studied her face. They hadn’t discussed what had happened yesterday.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he assured her, running his hand down her arm.
“I know,” she replied.
Harry could see her throat working as she swallowed nervously and he furrowed his brow.
“Ginny, what is it?”
“Do you want to protect me from him?” she asked.
“Of course,” he answered, his face showing his confusion at her question. “You know I do…what…”
He fell silent as she rose up and kissed him. Placing her hands on his cheeks, she urged his lips open with her tongue. Harry complied instantly, moaning softly into her mouth. After a moment, she broke the kiss and rested her forehead against his.
“What would you do to keep me safe?” she murmured.
“Anything,” he answered softly.
Ginny kissed him again before pulling back. Her heart was pounding as she met his eyes.
“Then protect me.”
Harry furrowed his brow, her suggestion not registering as she began to kiss him again, pressing her body to his
“I am protecting you,” he mumbled against her lips. “What…”
He trailed off, sinking into the heat building between them as she fisted her hands into his shirt. His arm wrapped around her waist, holding her against him as the kiss deepened. When she moaned into his mouth, he brought his other hand to her face, caressing her cheek with his thumb.
“Make love to me,” she breathed finally before she slipped her tongue back into his mouth.
Her invitation sent Harry’s pulse through the roof and he groaned against her lips. Like liquid in his arms, her body molded to his as they kissed with rising intensity. Harry could feel her heart pounding with his as her hands slipped to his hips, holding their bodies together. Not willing to break the kiss, he barely noticed when she began pulling him toward the bed.
“He can’t hurt me if we do this,” she moaned against his lips.
Harry’s eyes snapped open, the intensity of the moment screeching to a halt as he realized what she’d said…realized what she was suggesting.
“Wait,” he mumbled against her lips as he stopped walking. “What?” he asked, pulling his head back to see her. “Is that what this is about? Malfoy’s not a reason to…”
“No,” she interrupted quickly, bringing her fingers to his lips to silence him. “It’s about us…”
She pulled him back down into a kiss, but Harry’s mind was already whirling. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t sleep with her just to make sure Malfoy couldn’t use her. It wasn’t fair…to either of them. It wasn’t how he wanted it.
“Wait,” he gasped, ripping his mouth from hers. “Wait, just…just let me think for a second.”
“Don’t think,” she replied cupping his face in her hands. “Just feel,” she breathed against his lips before kissing him thoroughly. Pressing her body against his, she moaned when she felt his warm hands slip to her waist.
When he only pushed her away again, she huffed in protest.
“Shite, Ginny, that’s… that’s not a reason to do this,” he stammered, shaking his head. “There are other ways to protect you.”
“Really?” she replied arching her brow. “Name one that would work better than this.”
When he just stared at her silently, she stepped back. Her hands trembling slightly, she quickly untied the sash of her robe. Not giving herself time to reconsider, she slipped it off of her shoulders. The fabric slid down her arms and pooled at her feet, leaving her standing in only her knickers.
Harry’s eyes widened as his mouth fell open. He seemed to be frozen in place as his eyes flew from her face to her body. A soft curse escaped as he simply stared at her for a moment.
“Gin,” Harry breathed, his voice strained and his heart trying to break through his chest as he gaped at her. Her skin was pale and smooth, her body slim and perfect in his eyes.
“Don’t you want to protect me?”
Harry fought to suppress a groan. The innocence of her tone belied the nature of her suggestion and caused Harry’s desire to flare.
Shite…I have to stop looking at her.
Trying not to panic, he forced his eyes shut.
Harry could barely think, certain the image of her robe falling to the floor would be forever burned into the forefront of his mind. He had not expected this and he found himself unable to think clearly long enough to figure out what to do.
He felt her take a step forward and took a hurried step back. Unfortunately, Ginny was faster. She caught him quickly and grabbed his shirt.
One hand wrapped around his neck as she kissed him, keeping their lips together as he continued to stumble away from the bed. His weak protests were muffled by her mouth as she undid his buttons with shaking fingers. When his shirt fell open, she slid her hands around to his back. Bringing him to a stop, she pulled his body against hers.
Harry gasped at the contact, his eyes shut as his pulse pounded in his ears. For a split second he remained still, distracted by the feel of their skin pressed together before he frantically pushed her away.
She stumbled back a step, her skin flushed and her gaze frustrated.
Moving quickly, Harry yanked his shirt off his shoulders. Trying to keep his eyes away from her chest, he stepped toward her and threw it around her shoulders. It was much too large on her and he easily pulled it closed.
“There are other ways to protect you.” he managed, shaking his head and determinedly looking anywhere except at her. “This is a…a bad idea, Ginny. You have to see that.”
Ginny froze, his comment hitting her hard in the stomach.
“A bad idea,” she echoed softly.
She happened to think it was a brilliant idea and the possibility that he wouldn’t agree hadn’t even occurred to her. Embarrassment flooded through her as he finally met her eyes. She could feel her entire body flushing and she stepped back. Her movements were jerky as she pulled his shirt off and threw it toward him.
Harry caught it, pulling it on absently as he watched her cover her breasts and bend down.
“Right…” she said stiffly as she grabbed her robe from the floor. “I’m sorry. I thought…”
Fumbling to put it back on as she shook her head, she began to back away. “I mean, if I knew you didn’t want me I would never have…”
Harry followed quickly as she continued to back up, wrapping her robe around her body. She looked like she wanted to sink into the floor and he knew she was a second from fleeing the room.
“Stop,” he said as he caught her wrist. His hand closed over the loose bow she was tying with the sash of her robe. She stopped moving, but kept her gaze locked on the floor. “You know I want you…you know that’s not it.”
“Really?” she snapped as she met his gaze. “Do I? Then why do I have to keep trying to talk you into everything? Being with me…sleeping with me…I mean, Merlin, Harry, shouldn’t you want to do this?!”
Harry gritted his teeth as his eyes flashed.
“Of course I want to do this,” he replied in exasperation. “Christ, Ginny, I’m not going to sleep for a week after…” he gestured vaguely to her now covered body before raking his fingers through his hair with a curse.
Shutting his eyes for a second, Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose under his glasses before looking at her again. He could see the embarrassment and anger fighting for control in her eyes. Sighing, he brought a hand to her hair as he took in her hurt expression and flushed skin.
“Look,” he continued softly. “When we do this, it will be when we choose. When we’re both ready and we both want it.” He cupped her cheek in his palm. “Malfoy doesn’t get to dictate this,” he murmured.
“He’s not,” she insisted softly and he shook his head.
“Ginny, you just said you wanted me to do this to protect you,” he pointed out. “That’s not…”
“That’s not why I want to,” she said, searching his eyes. “It’s not,” she repeated quietly. Reaching out, she rested her fingers on his lips. “I want you…I love you so much, I…” her gaze dropped to his mouth for a second before she took a shaky breath and shook her head. Dropping her gaze, she wrapped her arms around her stomach protectively. “It scares me,” she whispered. “These feelings, it…I’ve never…I’ve never felt like…”
Harry’s mind went to the previous day and the sickening, overwhelming fear he’d felt for her. He thought about his panic and the absolute necessity of keeping her near him. He’d barely known her a month yet he felt like it had been forever…felt like she was a part of him.
Forcing himself to swallow, he moved his hand to her neck and tilted her head back so that she was forced to meet his gaze.
“I don’t want to scare you,” he murmured.
“You don’t,” she breathed. “It’s just I’ve…I’ve never felt like this.”
“It scares me too,” he admitted, watching her eyes fill with tears at his words. “But it’s a good scared,” he added, lowering his forehead to hers. “A good scared, right?”
Ginny smiled, blinking quickly as she nodded against him.
“Yeah,” she breathed, before she tilted her head back.
This time their kiss was gentle and slow and Harry lost himself in it. He couldn’t ignore the way they fit together, their bodies seeming to know instinctively just what to do. As always, the kiss was intoxicating and Harry groaned softly as she opened for him with a whimper. One hand lingered on the tie of her robe as he used the other to pull her closer.
“Make love to me, Harry,” she breathed eventually against his lips. Her mouth hovered in front of his as he let out a tortured breath.
Shifting away so she could see him, Ginny brought her hand to his cheek. “I want you,” she whispered. For a moment she simply held his gaze silently before her eyes began to sparkle. “The other thing, is just a…a fortunate side effect.”
Harry laughed in surprise at her words as she cocked her head to the side. Tenderly, he trailed his fingers down her throat, watching her eyes fall shut.
“This wouldn’t end anything,” he murmured, almost more to himself then her. Staring at her, he forced himself to keep breathing as his reasons for denying her quickly began to slip away. “Malfoy would be furious…he wouldn’t leave you alone, even if he couldn’t use you.”
“But he couldn’t use me,” she noted, keeping her eyes shut and matching his tone.
Harry’s hand left her throat, his fingers sliding slowly down her skin. They dipped into the slit of her robe, trailing between her breasts and on down to her stomach.
Ginny’s eyes opened at his touch, her body shivering instinctively. She watched his face as he seemed to debate with himself.
“How would I explain this,” he sighed, watching his fingers as they moved over her skin. He ran his fingers back up to her collarbones, tracing them lightly as he spoke. “I can’t…I can’t explain this to your family, to Ron…” His fingers moved to her neck, caressing her throat gently. “There is no way I could go to them and explain why Malfoy wouldn’t be able to use you…”
Ginny laughed softly as she pictured him standing in the Burrow, trying to find the words.
Harry could feel her pulse racing beneath his fingers. Instinctively, he lowered his mouth to her skin, kissing her throat lightly.
“Then we won’t explain it,” she reasoned and he kissed her harder in response, cupping her neck in his palm.
She guided him back to her mouth, kissing him slowly as the heat surged between them again. After a few moments, she left his mouth, trailing kisses along his jaw to his ear.
“I love you,” she whispered. “Protect me, Harry.”
Harry shuddered at her words.
His fingers had been playing absently with the tie of her robe and he tugged on it, looking down when the bow fell out. The fabric fell open baring her stomach and the valley beneath her breasts.
For a moment, they both remained still before Harry dropped to his knees in front of her, his hands going to her waist as he rested his forehead against her stomach.
His mind was whirling, trying to think clearly as a dense haze of arousal took over his senses. He wanted to do this. The notion that he needed to do this had taken root in his mind over the last few seconds and was blooming quickly.
“I love you too, Ginny. So much, I…”
Ginny stared at the top of his head, catching her bottom lip in her teeth as he began to kiss her stomach. She threaded her fingers into his hair and shut her eyes as he kissed and licked and nibbled the area around her bellybutton. She felt her body trembling in response and she moaned when he suddenly pulled away and stood up.
She dragged her eyes open when he cupped her cheeks in his palms.
“Are you sure?” he managed as he searched her eyes.
“Yes, please,” she replied softly.
Holding her breath, Ginny held his gaze steadily until he finally dropped his gaze back to her body. She trembled instinctively as his hands moved to her robe, slowly pushing the fabric back open. Her heart was pounding, but she no longer felt nervous when she saw the reverence in his eyes as he looked at her.
“So beautiful,” he breathed. Sucking in a shaky breath, he trailed his hand down between her breasts and stepped closer. He felt her shiver under his touch and quickly hooked his fingers into her robe. Bringing his eyes back to hers, he smiled slightly before pushing it off her shoulders. The silky fabric slid down her body and landed back on the floor as he kissed her exposed skin.
From the moment his mouth touched her, Harry was utterly lost. His hands roamed freely as she stood before him but it wasn’t enough. Running his hands down the back of her thighs he picked her up, carrying her to the bed as she wrapped her arms and legs around him. Their kisses became hungrier as he crawled up on the bed with her and lowered her down beneath him.
Immediately, Ginny’s hands were in his shirt, peeling it down his arms. He released her just long enough to shrug it off. When it joined her robe on the floor he leaned back down, capturing her mouth in a deep kiss.
His heart was pounding as he ran his hands over her. He needed her so much he ached. Still, he knew he had to stay in control, that letting go of himself completely was dangerous. He could already feel the emotions rushing through him, trying to overwhelm him. His power was beginning to churn, fighting with the pleasure. Determinedly, he groaned into her mouth as he attempted to force himself to slow down.
Ginny didn’t make it easy for him as she echoed the sound and buried her hands in his hair. She pressed up against him, seeking purchase against him as they moved together.
With a curse, he slipped his hand between them, massaging circles down her stomach. He could feel her heart pounding wildly with his as his hand reached the edge of her knickers. Her body was trembling beneath him as she whimpered. Unable to tell if it was in pleasure or pain, he reluctantly dragged his mouth away.
“Are you ok?” he panted. He brushed her hair out of her face as she nodded.
She tried to bring their mouths back together but he shifted back.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked, swallowing hard. He could see the pain in her eyes and didn’t want to hurt her. “I mean…you’re trembling, Ginny. It’s ok if you’re hurting or if you’ve changed your mind....”
Before he could finish the room spun around him as she reversed their positions. Suddenly on his back, he blinked up at her in surprise as she settled against him.
Running her hands over his chest and down to his stomach, Ginny watched him shudder as his eyes moved over her body.
“You’re trembling too,” she pointed out and his eyes flicked up to hers.
She cocked an eyebrow at him as her fingers found the waistband of his trousers.
Harry trailed off with a gasp, his stomach jerking automatically as she raked a nail over the skin just under the band of his pants.
“Trembling,” she repeated breathlessly as she worked on pulling open the buttons of his jeans.
The air in Harry’s lungs left in a rush as he watched her begin working his jeans past his hips. Sitting up quickly, he cupped her neck and kissed her hungrily as he shifted. He moved onto his knees and dipped her back onto the bed. Shoving his jeans down, he kept their mouths together as he kicked them off. When he was settled back between her legs he rose up on his elbows as they kissed.
Ginny felt like she was burning up as she clung to him, her body on fire as he pressed his hips into hers. A dull ache in her head had begun a few moments earlier and her grip on his shoulders tightened as it began to quickly increase. The combination of pleasure and pain began to overwhelm her and she squeezed her eyes shut, determined to ignore the discomfort. Moaning, she arched up as he began to kiss down her throat.
Harry’s head was pounding, his power churning inside of him, beginning to fight with the pleasure of his body. His grip on her hip tightened as he forced his body back under control. He didn’t want to stop…as much as his power seemed to be rebelling against the pleasure, his mind and body couldn’t stop.
“Ginny,” he groaned into her skin and she gasped out a response.
She dragged her eyes open when he pulled up. His eyes were dark as he met her gaze, his pupils dilating so much that the green began to disappear. His hands were reaching for the edge of her knickers just as everything fell apart.
There was a burst of flames behind his head and Ginny screamed. Harry cursed as he felt the heat behind him and threw himself back down on top of her.
Immediately rolling with her, they went tumbling off the bed. Even as they hit the ground his wand flew into his hand. Flinging his arm out, Harry looked up, only to falter.
The large red phoenix eyed his wand disapprovingly as it hovered above them, wings flapping. When Harry lowered his arm, it dropped the note it was carrying before disappearing in another burst of flames.
Sitting up, Harry grabbed the note irritably and ripped it open.
Ginny stayed on her back, using her arm to cover her body as she tried to force her breathing to slow down.
“Harry?” she asked eventually, looking over at his back. When he didn’t respond, she sat up. Shifting onto her knees, she leaned her chin on Harry’s shoulder and slid a hand up his back.
“What does it say?” she asked, idly threading her fingers into the hair at the base of his neck as he read the note. She felt his body tense a second before he swore loudly.
He turned to look at her and she froze when she saw his expression. It was a strange combination of confusion and absolute fury.
“We have to go,” he said as he reached out for her robe. It flew into his hand and he thrust it toward her before he stood up.
“What?” she asked, clutching it to her chest. “Now? What does it say?”
He pulled her to her feet and then glanced down at the note again, as though making sure it was real. Ginny watched his expression worriedly as she dragged her robe on.
When he offered the parchment to her, she took it with a frown. After watching him turn away and grab his jeans from the floor, she looked down. Her eyes widened and she gasped as she read it.
“Can they do this?” she asked, glancing up.
“They can…but they’re not,” Harry replied, his eyes flashing as he pulled on his shirt. He watched her reread the note with a frown. Closing the buttons on his shirt, he crossed to her.
“I don’t want someone else,” she admitted, still staring at the paper.
“It’s not going to happen, Gin,” he promised.
Ginny looked up, her face determined.
“I’m going to fix it,” he assured her. “I’m not leaving you.”
A small smile flashed across her face before she looked away.
“I know,” she replied, running her thumb over his knuckles. “But I’m not a child, Harry,” she added as her face hardened. “I don’t have to do what they tell me. If they want me to accept their protection, it’ll be with you.”
They dressed quickly and soon they were heading out the door.
Harry stopped in surprise when someone began knocking right as they reached it. Gesturing for Ginny to stay back, he looked out the peephole.
Two identical redheads stood at the door, their faces uncharacteristically sober as they waited. While Harry watched, one of them reached out and knocked on the door again.
“It’s your brothers,” he said, glancing back at Ginny.
“All of them?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
Harry shook his head and a second later Fred’s voice rang out.
“Oi! Open the door, Harry!”
Harry was fairly confident that they were really Fred and George. However, the events of the previous day had only increased Harry’s determination not to let anyone into the flat without being sure of their identity. After a few questions he was satisfied and began lowering the wards.
Fred didn’t take the interrogation well and as Harry pulled the door open, he pushed past him, intent on getting to Ginny.
“Hi,” she smiled as he headed towards her, but then squeaked in surprise when he pulled her into a tight hug.
“Are you ok?” he asked, his voice thick.
“I’m fine,” she assured him, confused by his intensity as she looked at George and Harry. Harry looked slightly confused as well, but George was watching somberly, his hands in his pockets. “Fred, I’m fine, really…”
“I’m so sorry,” he apologized, ignoring her statement. He smoothed her hair with his hands before kissing the top of her head. “I’m so sorry, Ginny, I didn’t know…”
Pushing him away, she looked up at his face. She began to get nervous as she saw his eyes. He seemed to be struggling not to cry and she furrowed her brow. The fact that they’d be concerned about her wasn’t surprising, but crying?
“What are you talking about?” she asked, struggling to understand why he was so upset.
Fred looked down and shook his head. “I took you,” he said regretfully before meeting her gaze. “I took you upstairs.”
Her eyes widened as he pulled her back against him.
“It’s my fault,” he continued. “You weren’t feeling well and…and it was loud, and I thought…bugger, I’m…” He looked at Harry over the top of her head. “I’m sorry, Harry, I never should have…”
“Fred,” Ginny interrupted, her voice muffled against his chest. She pushed him away again and looked up at his face. “This wasn’t your fault,” she said firmly.
When he started to argue, she clamped her hand over his mouth to silence him. Her face softened and she took his hand in hers.
“This wasn’t your fault,” she repeated. “The Burrow was supposed to be safe; you had no reason to think it wasn’t.”
“That’s what I told him,” George piped up as he walked toward them. Ginny looked up at him when he reached her side and he leaned down, kissing her forehead. “But you know he never listens to me…”
Harry watched from the door as Ginny spoke with her brothers. Fred clutched her hand tightly, even as he and George eventually began trying to make her laugh. For a moment she smiled, shaking her head as she assured them she was ok.
“So, where are you off to?” George asked after a minute.
“Care for some company?” Fred asked, but then frowned when he saw Ginny’s smile falter and her eyes shoot toward Harry. “What?” he added quickly, picking up on the change in her demeanor. “What’s wrong? Has something happened?”
Ginny pulled the note from her pocket as Harry crossed to her side…
Twenty minutes later, Harry and Ginny arrived at the Ministry. They stood silently in the lift, their fingers linked together as they headed up to the Auror office. Above them a small flock of Ministry memos were circling idly. Every few floors the lift would pause, allowing the memos to fly in and out. Harry’s grip on his wand tightened as he watched the level numbers slowly tick higher.
What are they thinking? he asked himself for the hundredth time. What are they thinking?
His mind was whirling in circles, trying to figure out why he would be reassigned, but he couldn’t seem to think clearly through his anger. All he knew was that it wasn’t going to happen.
After everything, Remus had to know he wouldn’t allow her to be guarded by someone else. The fact that no one beyond Ron, Hermione or the twins had seemed thrilled with their relationship hadn’t escaped his notice, but it shouldn’t matter now.
It didn’t matter to Fred and George, he reasoned, and they’re her brothers. They know I’m capable.
Ginny’s safety was the real issue and the rest was inconsequential. Their relationship, no matter who disliked the idea of it, certainly wasn’t a reason to disrupt everything.
Harry’s determination that he wouldn’t allow her to be guarded by anyone else had been strengthened by Fred and George’s reaction to the letter. It had been similar to his own, although perhaps less intense. They knew Harry was the best person for the job and quickly agreed that changing her guard was a bad idea.
Handing the responsibility of her protection over to someone else would only leave her more vulnerable while the new person got up to speed on the situation. It was an unnecessary risk, especially when they knew how close Malfoy was to being ready.
What Harry couldn’t understand was how Dumbledore or anyone else could feel differently. They all knew him just as well, if not better, than the twins. Fred and George had also shared his confusion. Even now they were headed to Bill’s to try to get some answers from him. Harry was convinced that Bill had had a hand in the decision and the twins were more than willing to find out if it was true.
As they rode the final levels of the lift, Harry could feel Ginny simmering silently beside him.
“Ok?” he asked, looking down at her.
She simply nodded.
He studied her for a second more before turning his gaze back to the numbers.
When the lift doors finally slid open with a ding, Harry led the way toward Remus’ office. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and his eyes flicked around the room as the Aurors they passed fell silent.
Reaching Remus’ door, Harry rapped sharply with his knuckles. Without waiting for a response, he pushed the door open and led Ginny inside.
“…but the important th…”
Remus trailed off as the group of Aurors in the room turned to look over at the entrance.
Harry got the distinct impression that whatever they were interrupting was about them and his anger spiked.
Protectively pulling Ginny closer, he took in the room with a quick glance around.
The office was small, with a large cluttered bookcase on the left wall and a bank of windows on the right. Remus was behind his desk, in front of an ornate fireplace that dominated the back wall. Harry watched Dumbledore move from Remus’ side to the window, passing Alastor Moody, Tonks, Dawlish and Kinglsey Shacklebolt who were huddled to the right of the desk.
Tonks smiled at him, but it didn’t reach her eyes as she nodded hello. Harry didn’t return the silent greeting, looking instead at Arthur who stood with Bill on the other side of the desk. Their eyes were on Ginny, their faces grim. Seeing Bill caused Harry’s eyes to narrow. With Bill here, the twins wouldn’t get any answers from him, and Harry knew his presence would only heighten the tension in the room.
“Harry, if you could wait out…” Remus began but Harry cut him off.
“I need to speak with you, right now,” he said tightly.
Ginny gasped in surprise as Charlie stepped out from where he’d been hidden behind Bill and her father. Dropping Harry’s hand, Ginny crossed to her brother quickly.
“Charlie!” she cried as she launched herself at him. She flung her arms around his neck as he caught her around the waist and lifted her up.
“Hey, Gin,” he chuckled into her shoulder.
“Oh, Merlin, I’m glad you’re here,” she whispered in his ear. Her eyes began to sting and she squeezed them shut.
Charlie will help us.
Charlie pulled her closer for a few seconds before lowering her to the ground. “How are you feeling?” he asked softly as he glided his hand over her hair.
“Fine,” she replied, catching his hand as he lowered it. He nodded, his expression serious as he looked her over.
“Where do you hurt?” he asked, bringing his eyes back to hers.
“I said I’m fine,” she smirked.
“Yes, you did,” he agreed, leaning down and kissing her forehead. “But I know you’re a stubborn liar who would say that whether it’s true or not,” he grinned against her skin.
Ginny smiled, shaking her head at his ability to read her.
“Hi, Gin,” Bill said from over Charlie’s shoulder, his eyes concerned even as he smiled at her. When Ginny smiled back and reached for his hand, he took it gladly and pulled her into a quick hug.
Harry, who was still simmering near the door, watched her talk to her brothers for a moment before turning his focus toward the group gathered around the desk. Remus was speaking softly with Moody, Tonks and Shacklebolt who nodded and then headed towards him.
Ginny’s attention was caught by their passing and she followed them with her eyes, watching as they nodded a greeting to Harry as they left.
Harry’s eyes met hers and he strode forward.
Pulling away from her brothers, Ginny moved quickly to his side.
Drawing the note from his pocket, Harry tossed it onto Remus’ desk.
“What is this?” he demanded
Picking up Dumbledore’s note, Remus skimmed it quickly before meeting Harry’s gaze.
“It’s your new assignment,” he replied evenly, watching as Harry’s eyes flashed angrily.
“I know that,” Harry replied, crossing his arms over his chest. “But why do I have a new assignment?”
“Given the current situation,” Remus replied, glancing once more at the note before setting it back onto the desk. “We decided it would be better to have you actively searching for Malfoy.”
“And what about Ginny?” Harry asked tightly, trying to remain calm.
Remus glanced at Ginny and nodded slightly. “She will be protected like before. Dawlish has been given his orders.”
“Dawlish?!” Harry exclaimed, his eyes moving to the older Auror to his left.
The commanding wizard with graying hair stepped forward, his eyes on Ginny as he held out his hand.
“Miss Weasley, it’s nice to…”
Ginny backed away from him so quickly she ran into Harry, knocking him slightly off balance. Catching her shoulder to steady her, Harry shifted her behind him.
“Don’t,” Harry warned icily as he blocked her from Dawlish’s attempted introduction.
“Harry,” Remus began, causing Harry’s attention to fly to him.
“You would put her with him over me?” he asked in disbelief, pointing at Dawlish. “You trust him over me? He’s in the Ministry’s pocket!”
“Pardon me,” Dawlish interjected, clearly insulted.
“I’m not talking to you,” Harry snapped angrily, cutting Dawlish off even as he kept his eyes on Remus.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Dawlish watched the exchange with a raised eyebrow.
“You can’t be serious,” Harry said, his confusion beginning to battle his anger for control.
“I wouldn’t joke about this,” Remus replied neutrally.
“He’s practically retired!” Harry exclaimed.
“I can assure you,” Dumbledore interjected. “Dawlish is more than capable of…”
“More than Harry?” Ginny interrupted, causing Harry to look at her. “You assigned Harry because you said he was the best. I’m living in his flat, there’s no reason to disrupt everything.”
“The important thing is that we keep you safe,” Arthur reasoned as he moved to her side. “It’s not about who’s doing the protecting, Ginny.”
“It is to me,” she replied hotly, “and I want Harry. You told me he could protect me. There’s no reason to change that now.”
“On the contrary, Gin,” Remus began.
“Don’t call me Gin,” she snapped angrily. Her eyes narrowed to a piercing gaze as she regarded him. “My friends call me Gin, and you certainly aren’t that. You don’t even know me.”
The room fell silent. Ginny’s words hung in the air as Harry watched Remus frown. He could feel Ginny shaking with anger beside him and he reached for her, running his thumb up and down on her wrist. She deflated slightly, but continued to glare at Remus.
After a second Remus nodded, realizing he’d crossed a line.
“My apologies, Miss Weasley,” he corrected, his eyes flicked to Harry before he turned his attention back to Ginny. “I can assure you that you will be just as well protected without Harry. At this time, we feel that it will be better if Harry searches for Malfoy. He can find him…”
“That’s bollocks,” Harry shot back, breaking his silence. “If you thought I could find him so easily, or faster than anyone else I wouldn’t have been given this assignment in the first place. Tell us what’s going on.”
“Nothing’s going on,” Remus replied with a shake of his head.
Harry studied him for a moment, his eyes narrowed. His gaze then moved to Dumbledore, who was regarding him silently from beside the window. Folding his arms, Harry looked back at Remus.
“You’re lying. And this isn’t going to happen, so you can just forget it. I’m not leaving her.”
“Harry,” Remus said in exasperation. “You don’t have a say in the matter. You’ve become too attached. You’ve let this get personal and now you’re not thinking clearly.”
“Tell me what’s going on,” Harry repeated through clenched teeth. “You’re hiding something. There’s no reason to reassign me. And for Dawlish? Come on! That’s ridiculous!”
“He told you nothing is going on, Harry,” Dumbledore assured him. “We just feel that it will be better if you search for Malfoy. You can find him…”
“I can’t find him any faster than anyone else,” Harry shot back. “Stop lying. I want to know why and I want to know right now.”
“Damn it, Harry!” Bill snapped from his spot near the wall. “The reasoning doesn’t matter!”
Harry glared at him, but Ginny spoke first.
“It matters to me,” she said angrily, bringing Bill’s attention to her. “What about what I want?”
“Ginny,” he began but she threw up her hand.
“If you’re not going to support me, I don’t want to hear it.”
“We’re trying to protect you,” Charlie added.
“Really?!” she demanded, letting go of Harry’s hand and marching over to her brothers. “And exactly how are you doing that? By making decisions without me? By ignoring what I want? In case you hadn’t noticed…I’m not an infant...”
As Ginny argued with her brothers, Harry turned his attention back to Remus and Dumbledore.
“Why are you doing this?”
“We’re trying to catch…”
“Stop lying!” Harry exclaimed, slamming his hand down on the desk. For a second the air seemed to crackle with magic around him.
“For Merlin’s sake, Harry, calm down! Remus replied. “I’m not lying! If you hadn’t gotten involved with her…if you hadn’t let this get personal it wouldn’t be a problem. She’s affecting your judgment!”
“My judgment?” Harry exclaimed. “You’re reassigning me because I’ve become involved with her! Admit it!”
“I don’t need to admit it,” Remus shot back. “You know it’s unacceptable. You know you aren’t supposed to get involved!”
“So she’s going to be punished so you can teach me a lesson?! I’m not leaving her. I refuse.”
“You can’t refuse, Harry. This is a job. You’ll do as you’re told.”
“But this is ridiculous!” Harry argued. “There’s no reason for it!”
“Harry, it isn’t your decision,” Dumbledore explained. “You’re an Auror. Your job is to follow orders.”
Harry’s back straightened and he glared at him in disbelief. His eyes shifted to Remus before his expression filled with defiance.
“Fine,” he declared. “Then I quit.”
“Harry,” Remus began, as Harry turned and headed toward Ginny.
“I’m through talking, Moony,” he threw over his shoulder as he walked. “We’re leaving. If you’re concerned about Malfoy you don’t have to worry; I won’t let her be taken. I’ll do a Fidelius and hide us both.”
“That won’t work,” Dumbledore said from his place by the window.
Harry paused, his gaze moving back to his former headmaster as his eyes narrowed.
“He wants her. If we hide her where he has no chance of getting to her, there’s no way of catching him. There’s no way of knowing who he’ll use instead…because he will use someone else. You must realize that.”
“So she’s BAIT?!” Harry exclaimed, spinning around furiously before turning toward Arthur, Bill and Charlie. “Are you hearing this? Are you serious?”
Ginny moved quickly to his side, his hand grasping hers tightly.
“No fucking way will I leave her with someone else while you guys sit around on your arses hoping he shows up trying to take her! I swore I’d protect her! I’m not leaving her!!”
“Harry, you have to trust us.”
“Why should I trust you? Give me a reason! I made her a promise and I’m not going to just pass her off to someone else because you say so!” Harry argued. “My priority is her safety, and I’m not compromising that for you.”
“Searching for Malfoy is protecting her.”
“If you can’t find Malfoy...that’s your problem.”
“I’d say it’s her problem,” Dawlish interjected.
“Excuse me?!” Harry exclaimed. The glass in the windows shook as he spun toward the older Auror. “And just who the hell do you think…”
“Harry, please,” Remus interrupted pleadingly. “Calm down. Let’s just sit down and talk about this.’
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Harry spat over his shoulder. “I quit, remember?”
“What will make you feel better, Harry?” Remus asked, becoming desperate. “We’ve assigned Dawlish to guard her. Do you want to set up the wards? Do you want to choose her location?”
Harry blinked at him in surprise for a second before his face darkened. He stalked back to Remus’s desk, pulling Ginny with him.
“What I want,” he all but growled, “is for you to tell me what’s going on and let me do my job. I swore I’d be there for her. If you want me to even consider leaving her, you’re going to have to come up with a lot better reason than my lack of professionalism.”
“It’s a moot point, Harry,” Dumbledore interjected. “The decision has been made, and now we need you to go back to your desk and await your orders from Ron.”
“Ron?!” Ginny exclaimed. “Ron knew about this too?” Crossing her arms, she glared at her family before turning her wrath on Remus. Her arms folded across her chest, she suddenly seeming much taller than her 5’4’’ height. “Thank you for your service,” she glared at him, “but I’ll no longer be requiring your protection,” she said angrily. “I don’t have to accept it and so I’m not.”
Grabbing Harry’s hand, she began pulling him toward the door. Before they reached it, it swung closed. Grabbing the knob, Ginny attempted to open it, only to find that it was locked. Her eyes widening angrily, she turned back around.
“Miss Weasley,” Dumbledore said as her brothers walked toward them. “We can’t allow you to…”
“Open the door,” Harry interrupted. “You can’t keep us here. She doesn’t want your protection and I no longer work here.
Remus glanced helplessly at Dumbledore, unsure of how to continue. He knew they couldn’t let them leave, but he had desperately hoped to avoid using force to separate them.
Unsatisfied with the delay in response, Harry turned and pointed his wand at the door. A flash of red light shot out of the end. It hit the door with a bang, blowing it off of its hinges and down onto the floor. Quickly, he pocketed his wand and led Ginny out of the office.
As soon as they exited the room a spell shot toward them. Although cast silently from behind, Harry felt it a split second before it reached them. Unprepared for the sudden attack, Harry could do little beyond shove Ginny out of the way. A split second too slow, the spell hit him in the shoulder, and he went flying forward.
Colliding hard with the wall, Harry collapsed to the floor.
“Harry!” Ginny cried out.
Further down the hall, Moody, Tonks and several other Aurors stood blocking the exit. They raised their wands as they watched Ginny run toward Harry.
“Harry, oh God, are you ok?” she asked, dropping to her knees and trying to turn him over.
Charlie ran out of Remus’ office, coming up behind Ginny and reaching down for her. Before she could react he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her up from the ground.
“Let me go!” she cried as he wrapped her up in his arms, beginning to drag her in the other direction.
The fear of being separated from Harry that surged inside of Ginny was instant. Twisting in his arms she struggled against Charlie as he pulled her away.
“Harry, wake up!!”
Harry shook his head dazedly on the floor, and Ginny fought harder to get to him, kicking her legs wildly as she struggled.
“Don’t make us stun you, Ginny,” Bill pleaded, arriving at Charlie’s side. He took hold of one of Ginny’s arms in an attempt to help.
Clamping a hand over Ginny’s mouth, Charlie and Bill continued dragging her away. Arthur followed quickly, glancing over his shoulder as he walked.
Ginny could see Harry on the floor, shaking his head in an attempt to clear it. He tried to pull himself to his feet, glancing up when Remus reached a hand down to help him up.
Biting down on Charlie’s hand, she dug her fingernails into his forearm. Her fear increased with each step away from Harry. It seemed to press in on her from all sides, stealing her breath and causing her head to begin to pound. Flashes of white erupted in her vision as her panic overwhelmed her.
As Remus helped Harry up from the floor Ginny finally ripped Charlie’s hand from her mouth.
“HARRY!” she screamed.
Harry’s eyes flew to hers and widened when he saw her brothers pulling her away.
Remus caught him as he tried to push past, shoving him backwards into the arms of two waiting Aurors.
Ginny could see his anger mounting as he struggled against them, calling her name. Fighting harder, she screamed his name.
Charlie clamped a hand back over her mouth, silencing her again. The last thing she saw before she was dragged around the corner was Harry shoving one of the Aurors off and pulling his wand.
“It’s better this way,” Arthur said, walking behind her as they all but carried her down the hall.
With a muffled cry of anger, she kicked out, barely missing her father as he sidestepped her attack. Biting down on Charlie’s hand again, she tried to link her leg behind Bill’s.
When he went down, he pulled her and Charlie down with him. They landed in a heap, with Ginny on top. She immediately scrambled off, elbowing and kicking her brothers as she moved.
When Bill’s hand closed around her ankle she curled her hand into a fist. Turning quickly she punched him squarely in the face just like he’d taught her years ago.
Caught off guard, his head snapped back as his nose crumpled from the blow.
When his grip on her ankle loosened, Ginny shot away. Avoiding Charlie’s attempt to grab her, she drew her wand.
“Stay away from me!” she cried, swinging her wand between her brothers and her father as she backed up.
“Stop it!” she screamed at her father as he took a step closer.
She didn’t want to curse them, but they were scaring her. Not wanting Harry to guard her was already distressing, but the fact that they would physically try to keep her from him made her entire body ache.
Shaking her head to clear it, she began to back away, instinctively wanting to get to Harry. She could hear the blast of spells and shouts coming from around the corner.
“Ginny, please don’t fight us,” Arthur pleaded
Clutching her head, Ginny squeezed her eyes shut, trying to stop the jumble of pain and images that were flashing in her head.
….We can’t let you leave…we wouldn’t hurt you, we protect you, Ginny…LET ME GO!...
“You have to trust us,” Bill said, jerking her attention back to him. He was wiping his bleeding nose with the back of his hand as he stood up.
Ginny’s eyes filled instantly with tears at his words, her cheeks flushed with anger. Blinking quickly, she shook her head and started to turn away.
Arthur’s stunning spell shot toward her and she raised a shield as her eyes widened in shock. Without thinking she pointed her wand.
The force of her magic caught them off guard, and they went flying backwards. As they landed with a thud on the floor Ginny took off down the hall, ignoring their cries for her to stop. Hearing the blasts of spells coming from around the corner, she ran faster, desperate to get to Harry. Suddenly a burst of magic shook the building, causing her to stumble sideways as it rippled down the hall. Her eyes widened in fear, knowing it had come from around the corner.
Harry rounded the corner a second later, his eyes furious.
“Ginny!” he called, reaching out his arm and catching her around the waist as she collided with him. “Come on,” he said quickly, glancing down the hall to where Bill, Charlie and Arthur were rising to their feet. Grabbing her hand, they bolted.
“Ginny, stop!” Charlie yelled behind them but they didn’t pause, disappearing around the corner without a backward glance.
Pounding footsteps and angry shouts followed them as they twisted and turned through the maze of halls on their way to the lifts.
“Split up…cut them off…don’t let them leave…”
Determined to reach the lifts first, Harry ran faster, pulling Ginny with him.
Finally they rounded the last corner. Ginny cried out in alarm and Harry cursed as they skidded to a stop. Kingsley and a group of four Aurors stood blocking the lift. Their wands were drawn.
Harry was momentarily shocked to see them. He hadn’t fought them in front of Remus’ office, which meant they’d been waiting here. They’d been sent to guard the lifts.
They knew we’d run, he thought in surprise. Why would they…
A series of stunning spells shot toward them and Harry raised his wand, deflecting them into the wall. Keeping a hold of Ginny’s hand, he strode quickly forward, throwing a spell toward the group.
The group of Aurors split down the middle, crashing into opposite walls before crumpling to the floor. Within a matter of seconds, Harry had them bound and he and Ginny ran to the lift.
Ginny glanced over her shoulder as Harry jammed his finger into the button. Cursing when it didn’t open immediately, he kicked the door before looking up at the numbers.
“Harry,” Ginny murmured, hearing the shouts growing louder as her family and the Aurors approached.
Glancing down, he saw the alarm in her eyes and pulled her against him.
“We’re ok,” he said into her hair, jamming his finger into the button again.
Ginny shook her head, glancing back down the hall.
Hearing Bill’s yell and the approaching footsteps Harry spun around. He shoved Ginny behind him just as Bill and Charlie came barging around the corner, their wands drawn. The rest of the Aurors and Arthur appeared behind them, their breathing harsh and their wands drawn.
A barrage of stunning and disarming spells flew toward Harry.
Harry narrowed his eyes, furious and confused by the attack. He deflected the approaching spells with a wave of his wand before he threw out his arm. A shimmering magical barrier erupted in front of him, spanning the hall.
Ginny jerked in surprise at the power of the spell, a loud boom echoing down the hall as the shield formed. She clutched his shirt, feeling his body begin to pulse with power.
“What are you doing!” Harry yelled, stepping toward the barrier. “Shooting stunners and spells…you could have hurt her!!”
“We could have hurt her!?” Charlie shouted incredulously back as he slid to a stop behind the shield. “If you’re so concerned with her safety, you’d leave her here!”
Stepping out from behind Harry as he continued to yell back and forth with Charlie, Ginny watched as Bill and her father stumbled to a stop, trapped on the other side of the shield. She could see Dumbledore and the Aurors trying to bring it down, but it didn’t waver.
“Stop it!!” she yelled at Charlie, moving in front of Harry. “Why are you doing this?!” she demanded angrily as she took two steps toward the barrier. She glanced back and forth between her brothers and father. “He’s trying to keep me safe!”
“We’re trying to keep you safe, Ginevra!” her father called back, his face full of fear. “You have to trust us. We know what’s b…”
“What’s best is for me to be with him!” she cried, swinging her arm around to point at Harry. “That’s what you said! That’s what you’ve said this whole time…why, all of a sudden, is it so different?!”
With a ding, the lift doors slid open.
“Ginny, the shield won’t hold forever,” Harry warned from beside her.
Turning to him, she looked down as he reached his hand out to her.
“We have to go,” he urged.
The cries from her family and Remus echoed through the hall around her as she stared at Harry’s outstretched hand. Ginny didn’t understand what was happening. She didn’t understand the panic in the faces of her family and the almost desperate need to make her stay.
“…Ginny...Don’t you dare…Goddamn it, Harry…”
“Come with me,” Harry said. His voice was soft, but she heard it over the noise and looked up. “Trust me,” Harry entreated softly.
His gaze was unwavering, filled with love and determination. The effect of his look was instant as a sense of security flooded through her. Without another thought, she placed her hand in his.
As their fingers linked together, Bill’s voice rang out.
“Ginny! You have to trust us!” he called desperately, still unable to get through Harry’s shield. “We wouldn’t hurt you!”
“Neither would Harry!” she yelled back with a glare.
“YES HE…” Bill’s voice cut off as he began to choke on his words.
“HE WHAT!!” she screamed back, her entire body shaking with angry. “SPIT IT OUT, BILL!”
Bill’s face was red and furious as he glared at her, his hand going to his throat. His nose was still bleeding slightly from her punch. Briefly he looked away, seemingly struggling to speak before letting out a cry of frustration. Turning back to her he called out her name.
His voice was drowned out by Remus, Charlie and Bill as they all began yelling at Harry to lower the shield.
Shaking her head, Ginny began to back away, pulling Harry with her. Casting one final glance at their family, they ran into the lift. Harry blocked her from view as they doors slid shut.
As the lift began to move, Harry slammed his fist angrily into the door. Ginny remained still, her arms wrapped around her stomach. Harry moved suddenly, beginning to pace in front of her.
“What was that?” he demanded angrily, gesturing as he moved. Like a caged lion, he weaved back and forth, his eyes glinting and his hand clutching his wand. “They were waiting! I mean what the…I don’t know what they’re playing at but…when we get to the floor we run. Don’t look around, just run as fast as you can, ok?”
When she didn’t reply, he stopped walking and looked over at her. Her brow was furrowed as she stared intently at the ground in front of her. Her face was pale, her body tense with emotion.
“Ginny,” he said, crossing quickly to her.
Ginny looked up when he stopped right in front of her.
“Are you with me?” he asked, brushing the hair off of her face before cupping her cheeks in his palms. “Are you ok?”
Ginny could feel his hands trembling and she shook her head.
He bent down, kissing her swiftly as he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her up against him. Her arms slipped around his back, holding him tightly as she kissed him.
“We’re ok,” he said when he rested his forehead against hers. “We’re going to be ok.”
“What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to get out of here,” he replied. He kissed her again before shifting back to look at her. “We get away from here and then figure out what’s happening.”
“You’re bleeding,” she noted worriedly, bringing her hand to his temple.
“Am I?” he asked, bringing his own hand up and then wincing when he touched the cut on his forehead. “I’m fine,” he said, rubbing the blood from his fingers and glancing up at the numbers. “We’re almost there.”
Ginny glanced at the numbers as Harry took her hand.
“When the doors open, we run, ok?” he said, and she nodded, squaring her shoulders.
A moment later the door slid open with a ding and they ran out. The hall was clear and they sprinted toward the atrium. They made it halfway across the large marble entrance before Aurors came running out of the halls on either side.
“Stop where you are!” one Auror yelled.
“Keep going,” Harry ordered, raising his wand. Ginny raised hers too and they both shot spells toward the oncoming wizards. A barrage of stunning and disarming spells shot toward them. “Don’t stop!” Harry yelled, producing a shield around them. The magic bounced harmlessly off as they ran toward the door.
Ginny could feel Harry’s hand begin tremble in hers from the force of his magic. It seeped into her skin, causing her arm to tingle and she glanced up at him. His eyes were dark, his face hard as he glanced behind them.
When he cursed, Ginny glanced back as well. Bill, Charlie, Arthur, Remus, Dumbledore and the rest of the group from upstairs were exiting the lifts behind him.
Their eyes widened when they saw Harry and Ginny reaching the door and they tore off after them.
Harry and Ginny burst out of the front doors of the Ministry, taking the steps two at a time to reach the street.
When Arthur’s voice rang out, Ginny looked back again. Bill and Charlie were barreling down the steps after them, with Arthur only steps behind.
“GINNY, STOP!” he yelled, his voice full of fear. “PLEASE!” His eyes were filled with panic as they met hers.
Setting her jaw, Ginny shook her head. Grabbing onto Harry, she watched her family run toward them before they Disapparated with a crack.
An instant later they arrived in the empty hall outside of Harry’s flat. For a second they merely stood, a bit stunned by everything that had just happened.
Harry moved first, taking her hand and leading her quickly to his front door. With a wave of his wand the wards dropped and the locks clicked open. Ginny passed him, slipping inside and moving to stand in the center of the room while he put the wards back into place.
When he finished, Harry turned to face her. She was pale, but her face was full of determination. He crossed to her quickly, coming to stop in front of her.
“We’re leaving here in thirty seconds,” he said.
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know.”
His eyes lost some of their fire, becoming almost hesitant as he brought his hand up, catching a strand of her hair in his fingers. “I don’t think we’ll be coming back anytime soon, so get what you need, ok?”
Ginny nodded, catching his hand as he ran it down her hair. Bringing his knuckles to her mouth, she kissed his skin lightly as she held his gaze.
“Thirty seconds,” she said and he nodded as the resolve in his eyes returned.
A second later a spell hit the front door with a loud bang. The room shook around them, knocking them both off balance. Grabbing each other to steady themselves, they looked toward the door. It was still secure, the wards still in place. Harry could see the echo of a blasting spell however, causing the door to shake.
“Dumbledore’s here,” Harry said grimly. Dumbledore was the only one powerful enough to have had even that much success against his wards. “We have to hurry.”
Another spell hit the door as he grabbed Ginny’s hand and led her quickly down the hall. When they reached her room she flung the door open and disappeared inside. Harry continued on, breaking into a run as he neared his room.
Ginny’s earlier fears of being in the room were forgotten, replaced by the urgency of the situation.
Running to her closet, she flicked her wand at her bureau. While she was digging inside her closet for her bag, the drawers flew open and her things flew onto the bed, landing in a messy pile. She tugged several shirts off of their hangers before crossing back to her bed. It took her only a few seconds to thrust everything inside and hoist the bag over her shoulder.
Harry met her in the hall, carrying his own bag.
“Here,” he offered, reaching for the strap on her shoulder.
Ginny shrugged it off as he took it. Setting both bags on the floor he drew his wand from his back pocket and pointed it at them.
“Decresco,” he muttered and the bags shrunk until they could easily fit into his hand. Scooping them up quickly, he slipped them into his pocket and then took Ginny’s hand. “Ready?” he asked as he pulled her against him.
She nodded as they wrapped their arms around each other.
“I’m going to have to lower the wards,” he explained and she nodded again. “Don’t let go of me.”
Ginny clutched his shirt tightly, closing her eyes and burying her forehead in his chest.
Harry listened to the echo of yelling and spells coming from the front room. Taking a breath, he flicked his wand. The wards dropped and as Harry began to turn on his heel he could hear a loud boom and splintering wood as his front door was blown off of its hinges.
Aurors streamed into the flat as Harry and Ginny Disapparated with a pop.
A second later they arrived in an underground garage.
“Where are we?” Ginny asked, glancing around.
“The garage,” Harry replied, crossing to an empty gray wall.
Furrowing her brow, Ginny followed him, not sure what he was doing. Her eyes widened when he pointed his wand at the wall, causing the gray paint to shimmer before shifting to reveal a door. He unlocked it quickly, holding it open so that she could go in first.
The room was dark and musty. A thin layer of dust curled up around her as she walked in, disrupting the stale air. When Harry moved past her she followed, coming to a stop beside him when he halted in front of a strange tan object. She tilted her head, eyeing it in confusion for a second.
“Harry, what are we…”
She trailed off when Harry grabbed the cover, pulling it off of the object beneath. Dust flew into the air and Ginny took an automatic step back, coughing slightly.
Ginny’s eyes widened as she found herself looking at a large Muggle motorcycle. Harry tossed the fabric into a corner and then crossed to the opposite wall.
“You expect me to ride on that?” she asked suddenly, glancing up at him as he pulled a helmet off a hook. “You’re not serious.”
The tenseness in his face faded for a moment and he smiled slightly. Pulling a second black helmet off a hook on the wall, he tossed it to her.
“You’ll love it,” he assured her as she caught it. She eyed him warily as he pointed his wand at himself, transfiguring his black robe into a black Muggle jacket. He then cast the same spell on her before climbing on the bike and slipping on his helmet. The black visor covered his face so she couldn’t see his expression when he held out his hand.
She eyed the bike again before reluctantly pulling on her own helmet.
“He’s going to kill me,” she muttered as she took his hand.
She jerked in surprise when his laugh echoed around her inside of the helmet.
“I’m not going to kill you,” his voice chuckled into her ear.
“They’re charmed,” he explained. “So the people wearing them can talk…Get on please, we have to go.”
She frowned at his words but climbed quickly onto the bike behind him. Placing her hands on his sides, she curled her fingers into his jacket as the bike roared to life.
“Hold on,” he said, and the door to the room swung open.
Ginny let out a squeak of surprise, wrapping her arms quickly around Harry’s stomach when the bike suddenly shot forward. As they rode through the garage and up the ramp, exiting onto the street, Ginny held onto him tightly.
They weaved their way through the tight streets in silence.
“Are you ok?” Harry asked eventually. His voice was hesitant and Ginny tightened her hold on him, knowing what he was asking.
“No,” she replied softly, watching the buildings blur together as they passed. Her father’s face, full of fear and anger flashed through her mind and she shut her eyes.
“Me neither,” Harry replied wearily. He took her hand in his, linking their fingers together as they rode away from their family.
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