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Protection by PrincessPotter
Chapter 11 : An Echo of Fear
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 84


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Molly Weasley sat in her den in silence, her lips pursed together in worry as she waited for news of the meeting. Staring unseeingly into the crackling fire in front of her, she nervously tapped her finger on the worn armrest of her wingback chair.

Her dishes were washing themselves in the kitchen sink, the clinking sound drifting into the den as they scrubbed themselves over and over. She’d only managed to dry five plates before distractedly giving up and heading into the den.

How did it go? she wondered, her eyes still locked on the fireplace. How did they take it? What’s taking so bloody long?

Questions flew round and round in her head like a flock of pixies, desperate to be answered and unwilling to quiet for even a moment.

Eventually, a soft clicking sound drew her attention to the large family clock that adorned the wall. It was a special clock, each individual hand representing a member of her family. Her eyes widened in horror as the hand with Ginny’s smiling picture shifted down to “lost”. Molly’s hand flew to her mouth in a vain attempt to muffle her moan of dismay.

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

The buildings flew by in a blur as Harry and Ginny sped through the tight streets of London. Weaving in and out of traffic, they made their way out of the heart of the city.

At first Ginny held her breath, gripping Harry’s jacket tightly as he deftly steered the bike through the traffic. When he took a roundabout at breakneck speed she gasped, squeezing her eyes shut as she waited for the Muggle contraption to either fall over or collapse underneath them.

Surprisingly, it did neither and soon she began to feel comfortable. Relaxing slightly, she rested against Harry’s back and watched the cars and buildings pass.

It’s a bit like flying really, she noted as the familiar sensation soon had her heart racing with adrenaline instead of dread.

The buildings began to thin as they left the bustling metropolis behind. Eventually the streets stretched out straight in front of them, the buildings replaced by fields and trees. Even after they were out of London and alone on the road, Harry didn’t slow his pace.

Remaining silent as he drove, he tried to figure out the best plan of action.

There’s no one to turn to, he thought grimly. At least no one I can trust.

His eyes narrowed as his mind moved to Ron.

How can he be in on this? he wondered angrily.

The knowledge that Ron was aware of the plan to separate them hurt more than Harry could stand. For ten years, Ron had been his rock, one of the two people he could always count on.

He wasn’t even there, Harry thought furiously. He couldn’t even face me.

For a moment he wondered if Hermione knew.

There’s no way Ron could keep something this important from her, Harry thought spitefully as he mulled the situation over in his mind. She had to know!

Gritting his teeth, Harry tried to keep his emotions in check as his mind whirled.

After the way she kept urging me to admit my feelings for Ginny, she couldn’t possibly approve of what just happened. Yet she knew it was coming and she didn’t warn me.

The fact that Ron and Hermione could think so little of him…could side with Bill was almost too much.

How can they agree? his mind demanded. Although Ginny might not understand Bill and Charlie’s implications that he would hurt her, Harry did. He knew what they meant. I could hurt her, but God, he thought, shaking his head, how could they think I would?

It had taken him five years to get to this place, this level of control. He wasn’t dangerous anymore and they knew it. The entire concept that he could be dangerous to Ginny seemed ludicrous to him. She was precious. His hurt and feelings of betrayal swelled afresh at the idea that Ron and his family didn’t know that he’d die before letting himself hurt her.

Behind him, Ginny could feel Harry’s back tensing against her. When his sudden curse echoed in her helmet, she loosened her grip on his jacket. Running her free hand down the leather, she slipped it underneath the hem.

Harry’s mounting anger lessened slightly when he felt Ginny’s hand caressing his side through his shirt.

“What are you thinking?” she asked, her voice soft and clear inside of his helmet.

“Nothing,” he replied.

“Liar,” she contended, curling her fingers and running her nails along his side.

“Nothing good,” he said grimly, unwilling to elaborate.

“Right,” she replied, her voice suddenly weary. “Where are we going?”

“Away,” he replied.

He couldn’t be more specific because at the moment he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure where they would end up; he just knew they had to get as far away from London as possible.

“They’ll follow us,” she said.

It wasn’t a question but Harry nodded anyway.

‘’Yeah.”

“We should probably get off the main road,” she suggested, tightening her grip around his waist and leaning against him.

“Just a little farther,” he replied.

For a few more miles they rode in silence, before Harry began flipping several switches on the bike.

“Hold on,” he warned her as they sped up.

Harry knew what was coming. Despite his anger over what had led them there, he was suddenly filled with a familiar anticipation. He felt it every time he rode his bike.

Ginny stiffened when she felt him sit up a bit straighter. It was as though she could feel the adrenaline pulsing through him. Glancing around his shoulder; she frowned. There were no exits or side roads approaching.

“Harry,” she said in confusion. “Where are we…”

“We need to leave the road,” he explained, his tone lightening as he spoke.

His voice was almost teasing, confusing her further. She couldn’t see anything except wide open fields surrounding them.

“Yes, but…where are…oh!”

With a roar, the bike jerked suddenly off the ground and shot upwards. Ginny cried out in surprise, her grip on Harry tightening as they rose swiftly into the air. Soon they were flying over the open fields.

“Harry!” Ginny squealed as Harry made a quick left turn, causing the bike to dip to the side.

“What?” he laughed.

“This is a Muggle bike! This can’t possibly be safe!”

Harry merely chuckled as he pressed another button on the bike, causing it to shudder as the cloaking charm fell into place.

“Give me your helmet,” he said eventually as he reached up, pulling off his own. After shrinking it, he tucked it into the pocket of his jacket.

“Are you crazy?” Ginny asked, leaning slightly away from him. “This thing could stop working!”

“It’s not going to sto…”

“I’m serious, Harry!” she insisted. “I remember what happened to the car my dad bewitched…and you should too! You were with Ron when it ended up in that tree…”

“I remember,” Harry laughed. “Dumb thing chucked us out before disappearing into the forbidden forest.”

“See!!” she exclaimed. “I’ll keep the helmet, thank you very much.”

Dropping his hands from the handlebars, Harry let the bike fly straight ahead as he twisted around see her.

“Ginny,” Harry smiled indulgently at her, “It’s safe. And really…if it stops working, the helmet’s not going to help you.”

Ginny glanced down at the fields rushing by far beneath them.

“You’ll be more comfortable,” he urged.

Huffing, Ginny released his jacket as she reached up and fumbled with the clasp. After a second it snapped open and she pulled the helmet off, handing it to Harry.

Turning back around, Harry shrunk her helmet and slipped it into his pocket. Through the rearview mirror, he could see her shaking her hair out.

The fact that he almost lost her came rushing back to him as he ran his eyes over her face and hair. It was shimmering in the sunlight, beautiful and wild as the wind whipped it around her.

After pulling her hair into a pony, Ginny slipped her arms back around Harry’s waist.

Releasing the handle, Harry pulled her grip free of his jacket and threaded their fingers together, squeezing slightly before bringing her hand to his lips. He kissed her knuckles as she rested her chin on his shoulder.

Ginny shifted, kissing his neck lightly before nestling against him.

After flying for several minutes he turned the bike to the right, changing their direction.

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

A burst of green flames erupted within the Burrow fireplace. An instant later Arthur Weasley stepped out, his face drawn and pale as he straightened. He didn’t bother dusting off his robes as he immediately glanced around for his wife. A flash of red filled his vision a second before Molly collided with him.

“What happened?” Molly cried, clutching his shoulders. “Where is she? The clock it…it…Arthur what happened??”

Unable to find the words to tell her, Arthur ran his hands down her back, attempting to soothe her. However, his delay in answering her question only caused her to push him back so she could see his face.

“Where is my daughter?” she demanded shakily, her hands still fisted into his shirt. “Arthur…

“She…” Arthur shook his head before dropping his face into his hands.

“She what…she what!?” she wailed, shaking him slightly.

“I’m so sorry, I…” Arthur shook his head helplessly, still reeling from what had happened at the Ministry. “We…they…”

Molly gasped, shaking his shoulder and bringing his eyes back to hers.

“What happened, Arthur?”

“They left,” he said simply.

“What do you mean they left?!” she shrieked. “Why didn’t you stop them?”

“We tried!” Arthur burst out, his face flushing with despair as he threw his arms out. “Of course we tried! But it was Harry and…and we knew they wouldn’t like it but…but not…”

He trailed off as his wife burst suddenly into tears. When she buried her face into his chest, he wrapped his arm around her and led her to the sofa. He rocked back and forth with her as he told her what had happened, his voice unsteady as he thought back on Ginny’s face – the betrayal and fear filling her eyes before she’d left.

“We have to go to the Ministry,” he said finally. “Bill and Charlie…they’ve gone to get the boys.”

“We’re going to have to tell them,” Molly said shakily and he nodded his agreement grimly.

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

The small bathroom was filled with steam, the air swirling slightly as the heat mixed with the cool draft coming from the vent near the ceiling. The mirror was fogged and a slight sheen covered the tiled floor. The bustle of the outside world, the yells of street vendors and honking of horns was dulled by the sound of the shower.

“Isn’t this better than work?”

“Mmm,” Hermione hummed, smiling as Ron leisurely shampooed her hair.

Massaging his fingers in small circles, Ron grinned as his wife’s eyes fell shut with a groan of pleasure. It hadn’t taken Ron long to decide that sharing a shower with Hermione was a definite perk of being married. He’d been fooling around the first time he’d taken the shampoo from her, declaring that he would be much better at the task. What started as a joke, however, soon becoming a regular occurrence when they were together.

Without taking his hands out of her hair, he maneuvered her around, dipping her head back into the stream of water. The suds glided down her back, swirling into the drain as he ran his fingers through the thick strands. Hermione’s mouth opened as she sighed and he swooped in, kissing her softly as he rinsed her hair.

Her hands had been teasing his sides lightly for the last several minutes but, as he wiped the remaining suds from her hairline, she ran her palms around to his back. Pulling him against her, she turned them so that the water rained down on both of them.
“Mm, brilliant,” he murmured against her lips, releasing her hair as he ran his hands down her spine.

The water rushing past their ears was loud as they stood together, muffling their sounds as the kiss deepened. It wasn’t loud enough, however, to block out the sudden knock on the door. Hermione jumped in surprise as Ron’s head snapped around.

“What the…”

Ron stuck his head out of the curtain and reached for his wand. It flew instantly from the sink to his hand.

“Oi, Ron!” a voice called as another knock sounded on the door. “Get your ruddy arse out here!”

“Wha…Charlie!” Ron yelled back irritably, “What the hell…”

He snapped his mouth shut, when the door swung open, revealing his brother.

“What the bloody hell are you doing in my flat?!” Ron demanded, shifting the curtain in an attempt to block Hermione even though she was already completely covered. “Get out!”

“We need to go,” Charlie snapped impatiently, waving his hand in front of his face as the steam spilled out of the small room and into the hall, “so finish up.”

“Go where?” Ron asked frowning, “I don’t have to be anywhere until…”

“Damn it, Ron!” Charlie said tersely. “Just hurry up.”

Apparently feeling like he didn’t need to explain further, he shut the door, leaving Ron and Hermione alone.

Dropping his wand on the floor, Ron snapped the curtain closed as he grumbled about brothers and privacy.

“Hurry, my arse,” Ron said irritably, slipping his arms around Hermione’s waist and drawing her back to him. “He can just bloody wait…”

Hermione bit her lip, her expression worried as she shook her head.

“Ron, what if it’s Ginny?” she asked, rubbing her hand over his chest.

Ron sobered instantly at the mention of Ginny. After a second’s hesitation, he nodded firmly and released her.

They finished their shower quickly, pulling on their robes in silence before leaving the bathroom.

Charlie was leaning against the wall in the hall, his body tense as he waited. His eyes widened when he saw Hermione exit after Ron.

“Oh,” he said in surprise.

“Yeah, Oh,” Ron scowled at him as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Sorry, Hermione,” Charlie said looking a bit sheepish. “Thought you’d be working.”

“It’s ok,” she replied, waving him off. “What’s going on?

“It’s good you’re here though,” Charlie said with a nod. “We were going to have to stop off and pick you up.”

“Really?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

“What’s going on, Charlie?” Ron asked as he stepped forward, his insides suddenly churning uncomfortably. It couldn’t be good if they needed Hermione too. “Is it Ginny?”

Hermione’s hand slipped to his bicep, squeezing gently as Charlie nodded grimly, raking a hand through his hair as he pushed off the wall.

“What happened?” Ron demanded, his demeanor changing in an instant as he stared at Charlie, searching his face for answers. “Where is she? Is she hurting? Is Harry with her?”

Charlie’s face hardened at Harry’s name, his eyes narrowing slightly before he cursed under his breath and looked away. Meeting Ron’s eyes again a second later, he nodded.

“We’ll explain at the Ministry,” he said, “just get dressed.”

“Charlie,” Ron said, catching his older brother’s shoulder as he began to head down the hall to the front room. When their gazes locked, Ron hesitated, suddenly afraid to ask.

Hermione saw his pause and ran her hand down his arm, linking their fingers together.

“Is it Malfoy?” she asked for him. “Did he take her?”

Charlie’s eyes flicked to hers for a second before returning to Ron’s. Slowly he shook his head, watching as his brother’s posture deflated a touch.

“It’s worse than Malfoy,” he murmured, “Dumbledore will explain.”

“What?” Ron asked in surprise, watching as Charlie left to wait in the front room while they dressed. “What’s worse than Malfoy?” he called after him.

Twenty minutes later the elevator opened with a ding and Ron, Hermione and Charlie walked out.

“Damn it, Charlie, why all the secrecy?” Ron demanded softly as they headed down the hall.

“I can’t tell you,” Charlie replied.

“Why not?!”

“I just can’t!” he shot back exasperatedly. “Will you please just shut up for five more minutes, we’re here now.”

Hermione squeezed Ron’s hand and he huffed but stopped pushing. Following Charlie around the corner, he paused as his eyes widened in shock before shifting to alarm.

The Auror office looked like a tornado had hit it. Desks were overturned, papers scattered and scorch marks covered the walls.

Ron saw several Aurors working to repair the broken windows. He opened his mouth to demand to know what had happened when the voices of three of his other brothers sounded behind him.

“Damn it, Bill,” Fred declared, “I asked you a question!”

“Bugger!” George’s voice interrupted. “What happened here?”

Ron, Hermione and Charlie turned around to see Fred and George gaping at the destruction. Bill’s eyes were on Charlie as he strode forward.

“Looks like Harry didn’t take it well, did he?” Fred called after him. “I wouldn’t have either!”

“What?” Ron asked as he looked from Fred to Bill, whose back had stiffened at the comment.

“Bill!” Hermione gasped from beside him, taking a step forward, “What happened to your eye? Are you ok?”

“What?” Bill asked before comprehension flicked across his face. “Oh, I forgot,” he mumbled, bringing his hand to his swollen black eye. His gaze moved to Charlie for a second before returning to Hermione. “It’s nothing…”

“They’re waiting for you,” Moody barked as he emerged from Remus’ office a few doors down the hall. His magical eye was swirling in its socket as he looked at them. He jerked his head toward the room he’d just exited.

“Are you heading out?” Bill asked him and Moody nodded.

“Everyone’s out,” he growled, “except the ones in there, so hurry up so you can leave too.”

“What’s going on?” Ron demanded in frustration.

He didn’t get an answer as Bill and Charlie headed down the hall. Grumbling, he followed his brothers into Remus’ office.

When they got inside he stopped. The tension in the room was palpable, causing Ron’s insides to twist as he glanced around. Remus was behind his desk, his expression grave as he talked quietly with Dumbledore. His parents were on the right side of the desk, his mother pale as she stood in his father’s arms. Frowning, Ron started toward them but stopped when Hermione murmured his name.

Glancing down, he followed her gaze to the other side of the office. Percy was standing stiffly near the wall, his arms crossed in front of him as he examined his fingernails. Ron’s eyes widened as he regarded his brother. They rarely saw each other, as Percy didn’t often come to gatherings at the Burrow. Although he seemed outwardly bored by the gathering, Ron saw the underlying anxiety in Percy’s eyes when he looked up.

Charlie and Bill crossed to him, flanking him on either side as they spoke in whispers. Percy seemed to be filling them in on something as he spoke, nodding at their obvious questions.

Ron’s jaw tensed as he watched the exchange, angered by the fact that everyone here obviously already knew what was going on, everyone except him.

Even the twins, who were normally easy going about the most serious of circumstances, seemed unnerved by the situation because they remained uncharacteristically quiet as they entered.

Finally, Ron’s eyes fell on the wizard sitting in the corner. His greasy hair fell in his eyes as he slouched, obviously unhappy about being present. His face was dark as he scowled, his eyes trained on Dumbledore and Remus.

What's he doing here? Ron wondered, his eyes narrowing as Snape’s gaze suddenly flicked to his.

“Please have a seat,” Remus said, bringing Ron’s focus back to the center of the room.

There were four chairs arranged in front of his desk, creating a small semi-circle. The twins had already claimed the two on the left, leaving the remaining pair for Hermione and him.

Suddenly feeling nervous, Ron allowed Hermione to lead him forward as his eyes again went to his parents. His mother tried to smile at him before her expression faltered. Turning, she buried her face into his father’s chest.

Stiffening automatically at her distress, Ron turned towards them before his father’s voice stopped him.

“Sit down, Ron,” he ordered, causing his son’s eyes to snap up to his.

For a moment Ron hesitated, wanting to argue but something in his father’s eyes made him reconsider. His eyes dropped once more to his mother before he sank into the remaining chair.

“What’s going on?” he asked, shifting his gaze to Remus.

“I’ll tell you,” George spoke up suddenly, his eyes flashing as he leaned past Fred to meet Ron’s gaze. “They’ve reassigned Harry.”

“What?!” Ron replied, his gaze snapping to Fred when he nodded.

“Saw the note myself,” Fred added, “Ginny was furious.”

“Harry was too,” George chimed in.

“Why?” Hermione asked looking at Remus, “Harry’s the strongest of…”

“I told you something was off yesterday,” Ron said to her before looking at Bill. “I knew you didn’t like it. God, what the hell were you thinking? Harry’s…”

“Bugger off, Ron,” Bill snapped, taking a step forward. “You have no…”

Charlie caught his arm as Arthur called for silence.

“We don’t have time for this,” their father said sternly.

“Right,” Remus agreed.

Ron and Bill glared at each other for a second longer before turning back Remus.

“Please…just tell us what’s happening,” Hermione said as calmly as she could manage, taking Ron’s hand.

“As George has already told you, Harry was reassigned this morning,” Remus said. He raised his hand for silence when it looked like the Ron and the twins were going to speak up. “We felt it would be more effective, given Malfoy’s recent activity, for Harry to search for…”

“Oh just tell them, Lupin,” Snape drawled from his chair. “No need to waste time lying to them, they’ll know soon enough.”

Remus sent Snape a dark look before continuing.

“Very well,” he snapped before turning his attention to the four in front of him.

“I’m sure you can tell from the state of things outside that Harry and Ginny didn’t take the reassignment well. When they came here, things got a bit…out of hand,” he explained, glancing over at Arthur and Molly.

“Harry…destroyed the office,” Charlie noted grimly.

“Oh, Merlin,” Hermione murmured, bringing a hand to her temple.

“Why would he destroy the office?” Fred asked as Ron seethed silently. “What did you do to him?”

“We didn’t do anything,” Bill answered. “They just…refused to be separated.”

“Where are they now?” Ron asked.

“We don’t know.”

“Wha…how can you not know?”

“They left,” Remus said, “and now we have to find them as soon as possible…to get them apart.”

“Wait,” Hermione shook her head before glancing around. “But why do you have to separate them? They want to be together, so much so that they would leave. I mean, we know she’s safe with him so…” Hermione trailed off, her eyes going to the oldest Weasley brother’s reaction to her statement.

“The problem, sadly, is that she’s not safe with him,” Dumbledore spoke up, “at least, not anymore.”

“Why not?” Ron shot back, instinctively defensive for Harry.

“There are things you don’t know,” he answered, his gaze moving from Ron, to Hermione and finally to Fred and George.

“Yeah, obviously,” Ron snapped, folding his arms.

Ron,” Hermione said.

“What? I mean look what they’ve done!” he replied, gesturing vaguely at the room. “My sister and best friend are off somewhere, hiding from the people supposed to be helping them keep her safe. So now she’s scared and confused and having to worry about Malfoy!”

“Are you quite finished? I don’t have all day.”

Ron’s head snapped around to find that Snape was now leaning against the front of the desk, his arms folded as he gazed down his crooked nose at them.

“Why are you here?” Ron glared up at him.

“Your sister didn’t go to Beauxbatons,” Snape said.

“What?” Ron asked, his brow furrowing in confusion.

“Did I stutter?”

“Severus,” Dumbledore warned from behind him.

Snape sighed, shifting against the desk before clearing his throat.

“Ginevra Weasley went to Hogwarts,” he said clearly, his eyes moving slowly across the row of chairs as he met the confused gazes of Ron, Hermione, Fred and George. “Before Harry tried to kill her, of course,” he added almost offhandedly.

“What?” Hermione breathed.

Rolling his eyes at her, Snape pushed off from the desk and turned to Dumbledore.

Hermione didn’t listen to their conversation as she turned to look at Ron. He and the twins looked as confused as she felt. Looking around the room, she furrowed her brow as she saw everyone watching them expectantly. She didn’t understand why they weren’t gaping at Snape or laughing at the ridiculousness of his claim. They all knew Ginny went to Beauxbatons.

She started to remind them of that when Ron’s grip on her hand suddenly became iron. Gasping she turned to look at him. She began trying to pull out of his grasp, but froze, when she saw his expression.

Ron’s wide eyes were unfocused as he gazed at the desk in front of him. His expression was pained as he furrowed his brow with a low groan.

“Ron, what…” she trailed off, her mouth falling open as she squeezed her eyes shut. Bringing her hand to her temple she doubled over with a cry.

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

Ginny was flying. The wind was whipping past her face, her surroundings indistinguishable in the haze of the morning. She smiled almost in relief as the familiar feeling of weightlessness overtook her body.

Exhilarated by the familiar speed, she leaned forward, propelling her broom faster. Zooming toward the three large rings at the opposite end of the Quidditch pitch, she could see Beauxbatons in the distance. When she reached the goals she pressed down on the handle, looping below and then up through the middle cylinder as she headed back the way she came.

It seemed like she couldn’t go fast enough and she suddenly pressed down, causing her broom to dive suddenly toward the earth. Her breath caught as her stomach flew into her throat at the abrupt change in direction.

“Ginny!”

Pulling up and glancing around, Ginny smiled as Julien flew towards her. Following him with her eyes, she tilted her head back as he looped around her before coming to a stop in front of where she was hovering.

“Fancy meeting you here,” she smiled.

“I go where you go,” he shrugged with a teasing grin. “Didn’t you know?”

“Hm…” She smirked as she considered him.

Guiding her broom closer to him, she came to a stop beside him. Their thighs brushed as they sat facing each other and she leaned forward. He met her halfway, kissing her soundly for a moment before she pulled back.

“Well...Come on then,” she smiled before shooting away from him.

Hearing his laugh, she sped up, knowing he’d follow.


Harry glanced over his shoulder when Ginny shifted against him, murmuring slightly as she dozed. The wind had dragged a few strands loose from her ponytail and they swirled around face. Grateful that she was able to rest a bit, Harry glanced down at her hands where they rested against his stomach. Releasing one handle, he laced his fingers through hers, caressing her thumb lightly.

Leaning over on her broom, Ginny flew faster. She could feel him behind her and knew it wouldn’t be long before he caught up. His broom was faster than hers and so she began looping through the air, delaying the inevitable. Glancing behind her, she saw him following her patterns.

Suddenly the world around her began to shake. Startled she pulled her broom to a stop. Her eyes widened as a sudden fog washed over her, distorting her surroundings until all she could see was grey. Squeezing her eyes shut, Ginny furrowed her brow. A feeling of foreboding washed over her as the temperature seemed to drop.

“I don’t know why you try to out-fly me,” Julien’s voice called teasingly and she opened her eyes.

His brown eyes were sparkling at her as he came to a stop beside her.

“You know you can’t get away,” he murmured, his eyes intense.

“Ginny!” Bill’s voice came suddenly.

Ginny turned her head, her eyes widening when she saw Bill, Charlie and Ron hovering on brooms beside her. Their eyes were angry, their wands trained on Julien.

“Get away from him,” Charlie insisted.

“What are you doing!” she demanded, the wind whipping her hair around her face. Suddenly the world seemed to tremble again, the temperature plummeting so quickly that she shivered.

The sky darkened as thunderclouds rolled across the sky and the wind picked up. A flash of lightening shot through the sky, followed by a crack of thunder.

“He’ll hurt you.”

“Don’t listen to them, Gin,” a warm voice sounded in her ear. Looking back over she found not Julien, but Harry. His eyes were black, his face hard as power seemed to ripple off of his body. Slowly, his lips curled up into a mischievous smirk. “You know you can’t get away,” he murmured, a warning in his voice that caused her to tremble.

Transfixed, Ginny watched his hand as he reached for her face. His fingers ghosted over her cheek and she shut her eyes. Her heart was suddenly pounding, her fear instinctive and intense but she couldn’t seem to move as he touched her.

Her eyes flew open when he tangled his hand into her hair and jerked her forward into a bruising kiss. The angry shouts from her brothers barely registered. His tongue plunged into her mouth, demanding and intoxicating as he pulled her closer. Her heart racing, Ginny whimpered as she felt herself sinking into him.

After a moment his lips slowed, becoming achingly tender as they brushed against hers. Bringing a trembling hand to his face, Ginny trailed her fingers down his cheek.

“Harry,” she whispered, her voice shaking.

“I love you,” he breathed against her mouth before shoving her backwards off her broom.

Screaming, she plummeted toward the earth as Harry stared down at her, his face twisted in triumph.


With a strangled cry Ginny jerked awake. Her body was shaking and she instinctively pushed away from the warm body in front of her.

Startled by her sudden movement, Harry clamped down on her thigh to keep her from losing her balance.

“Ginny?” he asked worriedly, trying to twist around to see her. He could feel her quick breath shaking on his neck. “What is it?”

“I…” Ginny blinked quickly as she stared at his profile. Glancing down at the motorcycle and the hills rolling by beneath them she remembered where she was. “I…N-nothing…I’m fine.”

“You don’t sound fine,” he countered. “Hang on, I’m stopping,” he said, beginning to guide the bike to the ground.

“No, it’s fine, really,” she insisted shaking her head. Pain shot through her temples at the movement and she winced.

The bike landed on a field, bumping along the ground as it came to a stop.

Kicking the stand down with his foot, Harry climbed off quickly. Helping her down, he caught her cheeks in his hands.

“What happened?” he asked, studying her face.

“Nothing,” she insisted with a sigh. “Just a bad dream.”

Frowning, Harry pulled her into his arms.

“We didn’t need to stop,” she mumbled into his shirt, feeling ridiculous that he’d get this upset over her dream.

“We needed to stop anyway,” he assured her, “we’ve been riding for awhile.”

He could feel her body trembling and his mind instantly went to when she’d had a nightmare after Malfoy’s attack at the Burrow. Resting his cheek on the top of her head he pulled her tighter.

“What was the dream?” he asked gently, running his hand up and down her back. “Was it like last night?”

“No…it was…it was nothing,” Ginny replied in a small voice. She didn’t want to tell him.

Harry was silent for a moment before he guided her back enough to see her face. She kept her eyes on his shirt, her hands resting on his waist.

“Ginny…” he prompted. “You can tell me. I want to know.”

“I know you do,” she replied, reluctantly meeting his gaze. “I just…I don’t want to tell you.”

Harry heart dropped, surprised by her comment.

She doesn’t want to tell me? Hurt welled inside of him at the idea that she wouldn’t trust him.

“Please?” he urged but Ginny just shook her head.

What could be so bad that she wouldn’t want me to know? he wondered.

“Ok,” he said, trying to keep his voice neutral. Frustrated that she didn’t trust him he let go of her and stepped back. “Let’s go then.”

Ginny watched him walk back to the bike, his back straight and his body tense. She knew he was upset that she didn’t want to tell him. The thought of hurting him made her stomach churn and she took a breath.

“You pushed me off my broom,” she called, bringing him to a stop. Slowly he turned back toward her, his brow furrowed.

“What?”

“You kissed me and then pushed me off my broom,” she repeated. “I…I was flying with Julien but he turned into you. My brothers were there, like today…yelling at me to get away from you,” she explained, wrapping her arms around her stomach as she remembered their faces.

“They said you’d hurt me,” she said, watching his eyes flash angrily before he looked away and clenched his jaw, “like they kept saying today and…and you kissed me and told me you loved me and…and pushed me off my broom…I was falling…”

Her voice faded as she tried to read his expression. His lips curved into a frown, his hands balled into fists as he took a breath. Hesitantly, she began to walk toward him, unsure what his reaction would be. She knew it wasn’t real, that it was a dream born from her brothers’ ridiculous actions today as well as her confusion. She knew he’d never hurt her and she didn’t want him to think that she did.

“Harry,” she entreated softly as she came to a stop in front of him.

Looking down at her, Harry reached for her hand.

“Do you think I would hurt you?” he murmured, dropping his eyes to their clasped fingers.

“Of course not,” she assured him, her voice soft but firm. Bringing her hand to his cheek, she forced his gaze to hers. “I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to upset you. I didn’t want you to even consider that.”

Sighing, Harry leaned down, resting his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry they scared you like this,” he breathed. For a few moments they stayed together, letting their eyes close at the comfort of the other.

“It was just dream,” she whispered. “It didn’t mean anything.”

A sudden thought occurred to Harry and his eyes popped open.

“You were flying with Julien?” he asked, making a face as he pulled back.

Ginny opened her eyes, her mood lightening instantly when she saw his expression.

“Just a little bit,” she shrugged, laughing softly. “Why… jealous?”

“Was he a better flyer than me?” he asked, ignoring her question and pulling her closer so their bodies were pressed together.

“I’ve never seen you fly,” she pointed out before cocking her head to the side. “But he was brilliant at school so...”

Harry made another face and took her hand, leading her back to the bike.

“I’m sure I was better,” he said, suddenly feeling grumpy.

“I’m sure you were too,” Ginny agreed, rolling her eyes.

“Hey,” he countered, hearing the sarcasm in her voice. “Youngest Seeker in a century here,” he contended, pointing at his chest as he slipped onto the bike.

For a second Ginny paused, her eyes widening in surprise. Suppressing a grin, she climbed on behind him. It didn’t seem like a good idea to point out that Julien had held the same honor at Beauxbatons. Slipping her arms around him, Ginny rested her chin on Harry’s shoulder as the bike roared to life again before shooting up into the sky.

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

Hermione was curled over in her chair, blinking quickly as her mind finally cleared. Rubbing her temple, she stared at her shoes in shock for a second before slowly straightening up.

“Oh my God,” she breathed.

Her eyes met Dumbledore’s before she looked over at Ron.

Ron and the twins still had their eyes shut, their hands clamped on their armrests. After a moment their eyes flicked open.

Ron took several gasping breaths, as though he hadn’t been breathing, before turning to look at Hermione.

“Are you ok?” he asked and she nodded. Satisfied with her response he turned his gaze back to Dumbledore. “How…could you?” he demanded, his voice low as he struggled to keep his fury in check. “How could you do this?”

“How could you not tell us!?” Fred snapped, glaring at his older brothers.

“Yeah,” George charged. “Percy got to know but we…”

“You’re too close to Harry,” Remus tried to interject. “You would never have been able to…”

His explanation was cut off by Ron’s curse.

“Why did you bloody do it at all?!”

“Ron,” Arthur said, “you know it was the…”

“Ginny didn’t want this!” he shot back, whirling on his father as he rose from his chair. “How could you do this to her?!” he roared. “I told you not to do it! I told you to let us keep looking!”

“There was no time and you know it,” Arthur responded, his own temper finally snapping as he let go of his wife and stepped forward. “I will not apologize for keeping her alive, Ron. I WON’T DO IT!”

The unexpected outburst from the calmest member of the Weasley clan was enough to silence the room. The Weasley brothers gaped at their father. His face was flushed with frustration as Molly took his hand, drawing him back.

Hermione, who had been shaking her head silently in her chair, suddenly shot to her feet her eyes trained on Dumbledore.

“That’s irrelevant now anyway, Ron,” she said, bringing Ron’s focus to her as she narrowed her eyes. “How could you put them together?!” she demanded of Dumbledore. “What were you thinking? How could you risk that?”

“Hermione,” Ron said but she shook off his hand as she looked around the room.

“It was untested!” she exclaimed. “And what…now what? What’s happening?”

“It seems to be breaking down,” Dumbledore replied. “But we couldn’t separate them to find out for sure…to fix what…”

Hermione’s face was pale as she shook her head, dropping back into her chair and resting her forehead in her hands.

Ron cursed before turning to Bill.

“We have to find them,” he said. “Who’s looking?”

“Everyone basically, except us.”

“Ok,” Ron nodded, his lips set in a firm line as he shut his eyes. For a moment he furrowed his brow in thought before his eyes snapped open. “I’m going to Hogwarts.”

“They won’t be at Hogwarts.”

“I know that,” Ron snapped, “but a way to contact him might be.”

“Oh,” Hermione breathed, raising her head and reaching for his hand as she realized what he meant. “Brilliant, Ron.”

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

By the time the sun began to set, Harry’s back was aching, his shoulders stiff from riding for so long. Trying to relieve some of the discomfort, he shifted slightly, attempting to not disturb Ginny in the process. Her cheek was pressed against his shoulder as she dozed. So far her dreams hadn’t woken her again and he’d been unwilling to wake her once he’d realized she’d fallen asleep again.

Watching the large storm clouds slowly roll toward them, Harry frowned when a flash of lightening suddenly illuminated the sky in the distance. Thankfully, they were still too far away to hear the roll of thunder that inevitably followed the flash. Wanting to get Ginny inside before the bad weather hit, Harry sped up.

It was nearly dark when Harry finally guided the bike back to the ground, having reached what appeared to be a small, remote Muggle village.

Feeling the change in direction, Ginny shifted, pulling back so that she could glance around. Harry straightened his back now that she wasn’t leaning against him.

“Are we stopping?” she asked sleepily, bringing a hand to her face to rub her eyes as the lights of a small village came into view and the bike touched down on the road.

“Yeah,” Harry said, relieved that the sky was too dark for her to notice the quickly approaching storm clouds.

They rode in silence as they approached the town, slowing to a stop on the outskirts. Harry parked in an alley and Ginny climbed gingerly off the bike. Her body protested to the movement, stiff after hours on the bike.

“Why’d we stop here?” she asked, wincing as she stretched.

“We need to change our appearance before finding a place to stay,” Harry replied, pulling his arms over his head as he rolled his neck.

Ginny nodded, pulling the tie out of her hair and running her fingers through it. It was tangled from the wind and she grimaced as she tried to smooth it down.

Running a hand through his own hair, Harry pulled his wand and pointed it at himself.

Dissimulo Imago,” he said, causing a blue light to shoot from the tip of his wand.

The energy encompassed him for a second before fading. An instant later, Harry’s appearance began to shift. His hair lightened to a light brown, falling neatly into place as his scar faded and his eyes became a dark brown. A light splattering of freckles appeared across his nose and cheeks.

Abstrudium,” he murmured, tapping his glasses with the end of his wand.

As the Disillusionment charm took effect and caused his glasses to disappear, Ginny’s breath caught.

For a moment she blinked in shock as the familiar image of Julien stood in front of her. She couldn’t help wondering if perhaps she’d fallen asleep on the bike and was having another dream. Her ability to breathe returned slightly as Harry shifted out of the shadow of the building, lessening the resemblance.

Not Julien , she corrected, trying to shake herself back to reality. It was just the darkness playing tricks on her. It just looks a bit like him.

The coloring was the same, if he’d been younger and smaller.

“What?” Harry asked, eyeing her with concern as he took a step forward. When Ginny took an automatic step back, he frowned slightly before grinning. “Hey, it’s just me,” he soothed. “It’s just a glamour.”

“I know,” she replied, feeling her face flushing. “You just look…” her voice faded.

There was no way she was going to admit that he looked uncomfortably like her ex-boyfriend…so much so that for a delusional instant she thought it was him. He would surely think she was losing it. The fact that she would even think that made her worry she was losing it. She needed sleep and her head was suddenly pounding.

“You look…different.”

“I think that’s the point,” he said, his voice teasing.

Eying her closely despite his casual tone, he took another step toward her.

This time she remained where she was, forcing a laugh as she pulled her own wand. Pointing it at her body, she cast the glamour charm almost absently as she watched Harry cross to her.

“Wait!” he said in alarm. “That’s dangerous!”

He reached out to stop her before trailing off. His steps faltered as he watched her appearance shift.

“What?” she asked, noticing the surprise fill his face. “You don’t like blondes?” she asked, striking a pose.

Her hair had shortened, barely brushing the tops of her shoulders, while her freckles had disappeared as a tan darkened her skin.

“No,” Harry said, closing the distance between them. “It’s just…where did you learn that?” he asked curiously, reaching out and catching a strand of her honey colored hair between his fingers. “It’s pretty advanced.”

Ginny paused, thinking back. She couldn’t remember where she’d learned it and she furrowed her brow, trying to recall when she’d even cast it before. Her mind was oddly blank.

“Where’d you learn it?” she countered finally, hoping to deflect the attention.

“Auror training,” he replied, searching her eyes. “Second year.”

Harry watched her struggle to remember for another moment, pressing his lips together when she began rubbing her temple.

Why can’t I remember? she wondered in frustration.

It seemed strange that she wouldn’t remember learning a spell complex enough to impress an Auror. She apparently knew it well enough to cast it on herself without even thinking about it and that scared her a bit. Sighing, she rubbed circles on her skin, trying to lessen the pounding.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash down the alley. Before Ginny could blink, Harry had grabbed her arm and yanked her behind him, his wand pointed into the darkness.

Lumos,” he said.

Ginny glanced under his arm as light filled the alley, illuminating the shadows.

For a moment the world was still before a cat shot out from behind a trash can and Ginny jumped in surprise. The metal lid rolled away, spinning down onto the ground as Harry followed the black animal with his wand. When it finally disappeared around a corner, he slowly lowered his arm.

“Come on,” he said softly, taking Ginny’s hand and leading her back to the bike.

Ginny remained silent, fisting her hands into the sides of his jacket when she climbed on behind him. Her heart was pounding at the unintentional reminder that it wasn’t safe for them…for her. Her heart ached as she thought of her family before her mind moved to Malfoy.

Narrowing her eyes, she stared, unseeing, at Harry’s back as they drove into town.

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

The narrow alley in the center of London was deserted. There was no movement or sound before three small pops filled the space, followed by the appearance of three cloaked wizards. Making their way quickly through the back door of the apartment building, they climbed the stairs to the fourth floor.

The door to Harry’s flat was back in place, seemingly undamaged.

Pulling back his hood, Malfoy pointed his wand at the lock.

Alohamora.”

The door clicked open and Malfoy raised his eyebrow before kicking it open. He hadn’t really believed the reports he’d gotten claiming that a fight had happened here earlier. The fact that there were no wards certainly seemed to support the claim that Harry and Ginny had disappeared. Keeping his wand raised he walked into the empty flat, flanked by the other two men.

The room was completely destroyed. Remnants of blasting spells marred the walls and the furniture was overturned. Whatever had happened here had been quick. The Aurors hadn’t even bothered to repair the room.

“Check their bedrooms,” he ordered and the men headed quickly down the hall.

Narrowing his eyes, Malfoy turned in a slow circle, his mind whirling. He hadn’t been prepared for this…he hadn’t been warned about a problem. He needed more information, but he feared his lack of warning meant his source wouldn’t be much help. His frustration mounted by the second as he considered the latest development. His plans seemed dangerously close to being derailed and he cursed under his breath at the thought

“Looks like they left in a hurry,” the wizard said, emerging with the other man from the back of the flat a moment later.

“And we’re sure it was Ministry who attacked?”

“That’s what they said…blew the door clean off trying to get in.”

Malfoy pursed his lips.

Why would Potter run from Aurors? he wondered.

It didn’t make any sense. If the Ministry didn’t know where they were, finding them in time would be a huge task. Furious by the unexpected turn, Malfoy jerked his hood up and stalked to the door.

“Find them,” he ordered. “Whatever it takes.”

Pulling their hoods up, the wizards followed him out.

“And get me Mullinsky. Now,” Malfoy threw over his shoulder.

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

Harry parked in the back of a small inn. Turning off the ignition, he and Ginny climbed off in silence as the roar of the engine suddenly ceased. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out their miniature bags. After quickly returning them to their original size, he hoisted them over his shoulder and cast a disillusionment charm on the motorcycle.

“How did we get here then?” Ginny asked, watching as the bike suddenly disappeared, blending seamlessly into the surroundings.

“Oh...well…not that anyone will bother to ask, but…um…taxi?” Harry replied with a shrug as he led the way around to the entrance.

“Good enough,” Ginny said, nodding as she took his hand.

It was a quaint building, the red brick dark as night descended around them. Two gas lamps on either side of the door illuminated the sign, creaking as it swung back and forth with the increasing wind.

Glenlaurel Inn, est. 1802, Ginny read silently a second before she froze.

A roll of thunder rumbled across the sky and she looked up.

Oh God, she thought, holding her breath.

As if on cue, a large burst of wind followed the thunder, whipping her hair around her face and sending a chill through her body.

“Let’s just get inside,” Harry said softly in her ear, causing her to jump. His hand settled onto her lower back and he pushed her forward as he kissed the top of her head. “And we’ve just gotten married,” he added as they reached the door.

Ginny nodded, allowing him to guide her inside. Her movements were sluggish, her mind now focused intently on the storm brewing outside. The door closed behind them, thankfully blocking out most of the sound of the weather. The room was cheery and warm, with light paint and country artwork decorating the walls. There was a large fire roaring in an oversized fireplace to their right.

It will pass, she thought frantically. It’s nothing…just wind. It won’t storm here; it’s just passing…

Ginny’s attention snapped back to the present when Harry was suddenly in front of her, blocking her way. His hands cupped her cheeks, as he searched her eyes.

“Are you with me?” he asked his voice soft yet firm.

She nodded, but her attention was already straying to the window and he took a small step closer, forcing her gaze back to his.

“I need you to focus, Ginny,” he said, pulling her eyes back to him. “Don’t listen to the storm. Stay with me...”

Ginny nodded again, more firmly this time.

“We just got married,” he said, stroking his thumb over her cheek. Leaning down he kissed her gently.

The wind picked up suddenly outside, whistling briefly and causing the rain to smack against the window.

Ginny jerked forward, whimpering slightly against Harry’s lips. Trying to soothe her, he caressed her cheek with his hand.

“We have to do this fast,” she admitted, pulling back just enough to speak. Her lips trembled slightly as they brushed against his. “I can’t…”

“Ok,” Harry said as she trailed off, kissing her quickly and taking her hand.

Crossing the entryway, they headed through the open French doors leading to the official reception area. Ginny’s eyes fell on the young woman perched at the desk across the room.

“Wait,” she whispered, pulling him to a stop as he tried to lead her forward.

“What?” Harry whispered back, allowing her to turn him so that he blocked her from view.

“We just got married,” she said in a low voice, pulling her bag toward her and unzipping it.

Harry watched her in confusion as she began rummaging through her things.

“What are you looking…”

His voice faded when she pulled her hand out of her bag and zipped it back up. At first he thought she hadn’t found what she wanted until he saw her slip the emerald ring she’d worn at the banquet onto her finger.

“Oh,” he breathed, his eyes widening as he realized what she was doing. “Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“She’s a girl, Harry,” she replied as though that explained everything. “Put your hand in your pocket,” she instructed before rising up on her toes and kissing him, “and pretend you like me.”

“I’ll try to manage,” Harry chuckled against her lips as she smiled.

Ginny tried to move toward the desk but Harry stopped her. He stared at her in amusement for a moment before glancing back down at her ring. Reaching out, he ran his finger over it before impulsively pulling her hair band off of her wrist.

Ginny furrowed her brow as he curled it up in his fist, squeezing tightly.

“What are you…”

Her eyes widened when Harry opened his hand to reveal a thick gold ring.

“Put your hand in your pocket,” he mimicked as he slipped the ring onto his finger. “Honestly, what kind of wizard do you think I am?”

Before she could respond, he took her hand and dragged her quickly toward the reception desk.

The woman behind the counter looked up, flipping open the ledger book in front of her as she watched them approach with increasing energy. By the time they reached her, they were practically at a run.

“Hello,” she said, her eyes lingering on Harry as she spoke. “Welcome to…”

“We need a room,” Ginny announced breathlessly.

Following her lead, Harry slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her against him.

“Your best room,” he added, nuzzling her neck.

Giggling, Ginny twisted around and caught his lips in hers, kissing him hungrily. Her hand slid to his cheek and he could feel the warm metal of her ring on his skin.

Opening his eyes as he pulled back, Harry noticed the woman’s eyes on Ginny’s hand and he smirked briefly.

“A room in the back,” Ginny said, her eyes locked on Harry’s as she spoke.

“Mm,” he agreed, leaning down and rubbing their noses together. “My wife and I would like some privacy,” he said softly.

Ginny’s eyes fell shut as Harry teased her lips with his. Slowly, the playfulness faded and the room around them was forgotten as they kissed tenderly. Harry’s hand gently cupped her face, pulling her closer for a moment before he shifted to rest his forehead against hers.

A second later a crack of thunder suddenly shook the room, breaking them out of their spell.

Ginny’s eyes flew open, her fingers digging fiercely into Harry’s arms.

“You know you just made it,” the woman said, looking out the window briefly. “It’s supposed to really storm tonight.”

“Really?” Harry asked casually even as he pulled Ginny closer. Leaning in he kissed her again, trying to keep her focus on him. “How much is it?”

“It’s £230 per night,” she said.

Ginny’s eyes opened, her lips pausing on Harry’s. Just as the alarm of not being able to pay began to rise inside of her, Harry ran his hand up and down her back in a soothing gesture.

“Fine,” he said, keeping Ginny against him with one arm while he dug into his pocket with the other.

“You can put down a deposit or we can hold a credit card until…”

“We’ll pay in advance,” Harry said, flashing a smile in her direction as he pulled out cash. “We won’t need anything else…right, luv?” he said, turning his attention back to Ginny.

When she smiled up at him, he leaned down, catching her lips with his. They were the picture of a young couple in love and the woman turned away, dealing with the cash Harry had laid on the table.

“Newlyweds?” she asked after a moment, glancing at them again with a knowing smile as she pulled open a drawer to get a key.

“Just today,” Harry replied softly before catching Ginny’s lips again.

Tracing his fingers down her cheek, he trailed his lips across her skin to her hairline. Breathing in the rose scent of her hair, he tightened his hold on her.

“Love you,” Ginny breathed.

“Always,” Harry murmured back, his voice just for her.

“Was it a big wedding?” the clerk replied, her gaze moving back and forth between them.

“No,” Harry replied. He felt Ginny take a shaky breath, her body shuttering as another roll of thunder shook the windows.

“Ah, just family,” the woman nodded knowingly.

Ginny went rigid in his arms. She made a strangled noise in the back of her throat but the woman didn’t hear it as she continued talking.

“I’m sure that was wonderful…the people who matter, yeah? That’s what I want…”

“Where’s the room?” Harry interrupted tersely. His hand shook slightly as he reached out and took the key from the counter.

“Oh, right, look at me rambling on when I’m sure you’d much rather be alone,” she laughed, indicating the stairs with her hand. “Up to the second floor, last room on your right.”

Thanking the woman, Harry leaned down and grabbed their bags. After swinging them over his shoulder, he pulled Ginny against him, leading her quickly toward the stairs.

Ginny wrapped her arms tightly around Harry’s waist as they walked. She pressed her cheek into his chest, keeping her eyes away from the window.

Harry brought his hand to her hair, pulling her closer as he pressed his lips against the top of her head.

“You’re fine,” he promised softly, leading her up the stairs.

The dull patter of rain against the roof became louder as they reached the second floor.

When they reached their room, Harry led Ginny inside before turning to lock the door. Turning back around, his eyes moved across the room searching for Ginny.

The space was small, a large ornate canopy bed dominating the wall opposite the door. Ginny was sitting on the floor, her back pressed against the side of the bed and her arms wrapped around her knees.

Crossing to her, Harry removed his glamour and sank down next to her on the floor.

Ginny moved instantly, slipping into his arms as she curled into his body.

“Where’s your wand?” he asked softly.

“Why?” she mumbled into his chest.

“To take off your glamour, love,” he reminded her gently, fingering her short blonde hair. “I want to be able to see you.”

Pulling away slightly, Ginny dug into her pocket, pulling out her wand a second later. Her hand was shaking as she pointed her wand at her chest. Narrowing her eyes, she attempted to focus on the spell, but a flash of light through the window made her jump, her eyes shutting instinctively.

“I…I can’t remember how,” she said, shoving her wand into his hand a second later and wrapping her arms back around him. Desperate not to fall apart completely, she tried to focus solely on him.

Frowning, Harry used her wand to remove the glamour charm before slipping his arms around her. Her hair lengthened, spilling over his arms as she shifted closer.

“Hey,” he soothed, stroking her hair with one hand as he held her close. “You’re ok. I’m right here.”

It was all Ginny could do to keep from crying. There was no way she could handle a storm on top of everything else. She was exhausted and afraid…she couldn’t even imagine what would happen if she lost control of herself with her emotions already all over the place.

The sound of the rain slapping against the side of the building seemed to be slowly increasing, filling the room around them and Ginny pulled him closer.

“I can’t do this tonight,” she whispered, her shaking voice muffled against his shirt.

“I’ll help you,” he promised. “Just try to stay with me, Ginny.”

“I’m t-trying,” she said, trying to keep her body from trembling.

“Tell me what you need, sweetheart,” Harry said, his voice worried as he felt her body shiver slightly.

“Nothing,” she answered, her voice so soft he could barely hear it. “Nothing makes it stop, I…”

A flash of lightening illuminated the room suddenly and Ginny jerked, squeezing her eyes shut and bracing for the thunder.

Harry’s head snapped to the window, watching the rain hit the glass and the branches of the nearby trees sway violently in the wind.

“I’m going to shut the curtains, ok?” he said and she nodded.

Giving Ginny a quick kiss on her hair, Harry let go of her and stood up. When he reached the window, he looked out, but could barely see the road because of the rain. Another flash of lightning shot across the clouds and Harry jerked the curtains closed.

“Are you still with me?” he asked as he walked and Ginny choked out a yes. The clap of thunder followed as he quickly rounded the bed.

At the sound of Ginny’s whimper, he glanced over, watching her lower her forehead to her knees. Harry jerked the curtains of the second window closed, covering the room in darkness.

Resolutely he turned back around, determined to help her remain in control. He approached her slowly, not wanting to startle her. He could see her body shaking and frowned when he heard her sniffle into her arms.

Hearing his approach Ginny looked up. Her eyes were slightly unfocused, as though she were looking through him rather than at him. He said her name gently, speeding up at the sight of her face. By the time he reached her, she was gone.

As he crouched down, she fled with a whimper of fear. Harry followed her as she crawled to the corner, surprised by how quickly she’d fallen apart. She fought him as he caught her, picking her up and carrying her swiftly to the bed.

“Get away from me,” she sobbed, struggling against him. “Get away!”

“Shh, it’s ok,” he soothed into her hair.

When he set her down on the bed, she immediately tried to scramble away. As Harry struggled to hold her she kicked him in the stomach. The wind was knocked out of him and he gasped as she shot across the bed. Scrambling over the covers she turned to face him, her eyes wide as she pressed her back into the ornate post.

Harry’s heart was pounding against his ribs as a feeling of helplessness struggled to take hold inside of him. He didn’t know how to help her. Placing his hands on the mattress, he watched her panicked breath as she frantically curled her legs up. Her hand went to the post above her head, her knuckles white with the pressure of her grip.

“Ginny,” he said tenderly, “come on, love. Don’t be afraid. Nothing's going to hurt you…”

Squeezing her eyes shut at his voice, Ginny pressed harder against the bed frame, as though afraid to let him near her but also afraid to leave the bed. A clap of thunder sounded around them and she cried out.

Taking advantage of her closed eyes, Harry’s hand shot out. Catching her ankle, he dragged her back across the bed before she could flee. Moving over her, he trapped her beneath him, watching the tears stream down her face as she cried. Sliding his shaking hands down her face, he murmured her name and kissed her softly.

The wind began to whistle, causing Harry to glare at the window while Ginny cried out, her body trembling almost violently.

“Ginny,” he murmured into her hair, kissing her hairline, “You’re ok…nothing’s going to hurt you…”

When her gaze flew back to his, her eyes were frantic as they moved over his face. Harry’s heart plummeted when her eyes widened in terror, her body going rigid in his arms.

A second later her scream filled the air and Harry waved his hand, throwing a silencing charm over the room. The last thing they needed was someone coming to check on them.

Ginny fought him, beginning to scream and cry incoherently as she struggled to get away. Finally, he caught her wrists, holding them down on the bed as he trapped her with his body.

“No!” he said, shaking her slightly. “No. Stay here, Ginny.”

“Don’t,” she whimpered, her eyes squeezed shut. “Don’t hurt, me…”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Harry assured her. Dragging her hands above her head, he held her wrists in one hand while he caught her chin with the other, forcing her to look at him. “Ginny, listen to me,” he pleaded, even though he could tell she didn’t comprehend. “Please, baby, I’m right here with you…I’m right here.”

Her breathing got shallower and shallower until she was gasping, her tears leaking down onto his fingers. When a crack of thunder shook the windows she cried out, her eyes moving past him as they lost focus.

“Ginny calm down,” he ordered, but her eyes were locked over his shoulder, her chest heaving as she sobbed. “What do you see?” he asked suddenly. “What do you see?” he repeated forcing her gaze to his. “Where are you? Tell me what’s happening, love…”

Ginny gasped in response, her eyes desperate as she cried beneath him.

“Talk to me, just tell me what you…”

“Where are you?” she interrupted suddenly, her voice choked in her throat.

“I’m right here,” he replied, kissing her quickly as she whimpered. “I’m right…”

“Harry, where are you…I can’t find you,” she said, her voice rising in panic as her eyes lost focus again. “Harry!”

“Ginny…”

“W-where are…I…I can’t…Harry…” she moaned, thrashing her head from side to side before she threw her head back and screamed his name.

Harry cursed, holding her down as she began to struggle harder to break free from his hold.

What the hell is this about? he thought worriedly.

No one was this frightened of something without a reason. It frustrated and scared him that she didn’t know why this happened to her.

Clenching his jaw, he held her face still, locking his gaze with hers. He tried once more to reach her, to get her to tell him what she saw but she didn’t seem to register that he was there.

Legilimens,” he whispered finally, narrowing his eyes as he delved into her mind.

Ginny whimpered beneath him, choking on a sob as her body trembled.

At first there was nothing. Only darkness as Harry attempted to see her thoughts. He felt her fear and his body trembled in response, his breath rushing out of his body.

Forcing himself to focus, he pushed deeper, ignoring the memories of the lobby and the motorcycle ride as he searched for what she was seeing. He paused briefly, watching her punch Bill as she fought her brothers and father in the hall of the Ministry.
The deeper he pressed the harder it got and his head began to ache as he tried to stay focused. He went deeper and deeper until suddenly he met a wall. It was as if a bright white barrier erupted in her mind, keeping him out.

What the…

He’d never encountered anything like it and pressed against it. The barrier held firm and it angered him that whatever it was seemed to be stronger than him. Hissing out the incantation again, he attempted to see past it. He could hear Ginny whimper his name but he ignored her, pressing harder against the barrier.

He could feel his power rumbling and hers pulsing beneath him as she moaned. Slowly the air around them seemed to become charged with energy as Harry focused harder to get to what was behind the brightness.

“Hurts…” Ginny whimpered beneath him.

“Yeah, I know,” he gritted out. “It’s ok…it’s ok,” he breathed, stroking her hair, “I’m sorry, baby…just a bit longer…”

His head was pounding, seeming to pinpoint into his scar and he bit his lip. Forcing himself to breathe, he narrowed his eyes, dipping into his power as he again tried to pass the barrier. The white wall seemed to tremble slightly before brightening, forcing him back.

“It…it hurts…” Ginny panted, her voice rising as it filled with pain. “S-stop…h-hurts…it hurts…ah…”

Ginny cried out and for an instant the solid barrier began to splinter. Harry surged forward only to be bombarded by fragments of images. There was darkness, screams, flashes of light and blurred faces as her terror enveloped him.

Without warning, his power roared to life inside of him and he bit back a gasp, letting go of her wrists as his hand fisted into the sheets to hold himself steady. His eyes darkened and the bed began to shake, skittering across the floor as energy flowed out of his body, causing the lamp to flicker.

Groaning, he attempted to force his power back under control as his body trembled. The images were too distorted and jumbled for him to understand. It was chaotic, almost as if it were broken or incomplete…and he made a last attempt to make them come into focus as he tried to figure out what he was seeing.

Ginny screamed in terror and Harry cursed aloud when suddenly an enormous snake surged out of the darkness of her mind, hissing menacingly as it towered over him.

The image lasted barely a second before the barrier snapped back into place, brightening until it was blinding him.

Harry’s head felt like it was splitting in-two, Ginny’s screams echoing around him as he tried to pull out her mind. He could feel the magic building and he tried to get out but he wasn’t fast enough. A pulse of magic erupted between them, sending Harry flying across the room as they both cried out. Slamming into the wall, he crumpled unconscious to the floor while Ginny trembled on the bed.

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

Harry’s eyes flicked open and then shut, his mouth turning down into a frown as he brought a hand to his head, trying to ease the throbbing. For a moment he was confused, not remembering why he was on the floor before it all came back. His eyes snapped open and he sat up, wincing slightly. His heart dropped when he saw that the bed was empty, the rain still beating against the windows.

Oh God, please still be in the room.

Pushing himself to his knees, he stood up slowly as he looked around for Ginny. He found her curled into a ball in the corner. His mind returned instantly to the moment he’d found her in almost the exact same position in his flat. He hadn’t been able to protect her from this and his chest tightened as he began to cross the room.

Moving slowly, he tried not to startle her as he got closer. She was rocking back and forth, her forehead on her knees and her arms crossed over her head.

Harry squatted in front of her, studying her worriedly. Reaching out, he paused as the energy still flowing from his hand caused individual strands of her hair to spring up, clinging to his palm with static. Pulling back quickly, he took a breath and shook out his arms, siphoning off the energy.

When he reached up again, the static was gone and he tentatively glided his hand over her hair. When she merely twitched at his touch, he shifted forward. Scooping her up in his arms, he stood up and carried her back to the bed.

“I know,” he soothed at her muffled sob. “Shh…it’s ok, sweetheart, I’ve got you.”

With a flick of his fingers, the covers folded down.

Laying Ginny gently onto the bed, Harry focused on getting her as comfortable as possible. He pulled her shoes and socks off before going to work on the button of her jeans. Working her trousers off, he dropped them on the floor, watching her curl onto her side as he undid his belt. After getting rid of his own shoes, socks and jeans, Harry climbed back onto the bed with her.

Tucking them both under the covers, he dragged the blanket over their heads, creating a cocoon around them as he held her shaking body against his.

Ginny was muttering into his chest, her words jumbled as she twitched. Rain was pounding down on the roof as Harry stroked her hair worriedly. After a few moments she seemed to calm a bit in the darkness and Harry let out a slow breath of relief.

Brushing her hair out of her face, he shifted down so his eyes were level with hers. Blinking in the darkness, his eyes slowly adjusted until he was able to make out her face. Her eyes were squeezed shut, her hands curled into fists above her ears.

Tentatively, he moved forward, brushing his lips against hers. She whimpered against his mouth but didn’t try to flee. Bolstered by her response, he kissed her again, letting his lips linger on hers. When he pulled back he watched her face. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open, her gaze still unfocused.

He could tell she was still gone, trapped inside of her mind but he could also feel the tremors in her body begin to lessen. When she was practically still in his arms, her breathing almost back to normal he kissed her forehead.

“Ginny,” he whispered, waiting for her eyes to meet his. When they did, he moved forward again, invading her space and kissing her softly. “I love you,” he said. His hand slid into her hair, holding her against him as he pressed their lips together. “I love you,” he repeated in between kisses, teasing her lips with his until she eventually began to kiss him back.

“I love you,” he said one final time before nestling her into his shoulder.

Before long she was asleep, warm and protected in the shelter of blankets he had created around them.

Eventually the warmth became stuffy and hot. When Harry was confident she wouldn’t wake he pulled the covers down. He could still hear the rain outside, softer now. Shifting back so he could see her, he watched her curl instinctively into a ball. He tucked the blankets snugly around her shoulders, leaving only her head exposed.

Folding his arm under his head, he watched her sleep, his brow furrowed with worry as he tried to make sense of what had happened.

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

Ginny awoke slowly, her hand moving to rub her face as her eyes flicked open. Whimpering slightly, she rolled onto her back, arching her neck as she stretched.

She blinked in surprise when Harry’s worried face was suddenly above her.

“Are you ok?” he asked bringing a hand to her face.

“Yeah,” she said groggily, rubbing her eyes.

“You sounded like you were in pain,” he explained, his eyes searching her face closely.

“I am,” she replied with a grimace as her fingers moved to her temple. “My head…It feels like I was hit by a Bludger,” she groaned, trying to massage the ache away.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, pressing his lips against her forehead.

“What happened?” she breathed after a moment.

“There was a storm,” Harry said against her skin before pulling back. He met her gaze worriedly, his hand moving to her face. “Do you remember anything?”

Ginny furrowed her brow, shutting her eyes as she thought back. She remembered getting to the inn and getting a room, but beyond that, there was nothing.

Harry watched her try to remember, frowning slightly when she shook her head. Leaning down, he kissed her forehead again before climbing off the bed.

Ginny opened her eyes watching him walk toward the bathroom, his shoulders slumped. Sitting up, she ran a hand through her hair.

“Harry,” she called, bringing him to a stop. When he turned around, she studied him silently, taking in the dark circles under his eyes and the worry etched across his features. “What happened?”

“Nothing, Gin,” he smiled slightly, “it just stormed.”

“Liar,” she replied, confused by his evasive behavior.

It made her nervous and she instinctively pulled her knees up to her chest as she stared at him.

Her change in demeanor wasn’t lost on him and he came back to the bed. For a moment he was silent, staring at the bedspread while he plucked at a loose string.

What should I tell her? he thought.

Somehow, telling her what had happened in her mind seemed like a horrible plan. It would only scare her and he didn’t want to do that; not when he didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t understand what he’d seen and until he figured it out he didn’t want to add to her worries.

Ginny said his name softly and he finally raised his head, meeting her gaze. Sinking down on the edge of the bed, he brought his hand to her hair, playing idly with a strand as he decided what to say.

“Have you ever seen a Basilisk?”

His quiet question surprised him, slipping out before he had decided what to tell her.

“What?” Ginny replied, furrowing her brow.

“A…a Basilisk,” he repeated. “It’s a giant snake that…”

“I know what it is,” she said, cutting him off. “And no, I’ve never seen one, have you?”

Harry nodded, studying her face before turning his head to gaze out the window in thought.

“Why are you asking?” she asked softly.

“I don’t know,” he replied shaking his head. “I…I tried to see what you saw last night and…”

“What I saw?”

“During storms,” he explained, meeting her gaze again. “I couldn’t help you. I couldn’t keep you from going wherever…wherever you go, so…so I tried to see…”

Ginny had tensed at his words, her heart beginning to pound.

“And did you see?” she asked, searching his eyes.

“Not really,” he said shaking his head. “Not enough to understand.”

“Oh,” she frowned looking down. “Well that’s ok.”

“Is it?” he asked lacing their fingers together. He wasn’t sure what she meant.

“Yeah,” she nodded, before pausing. “Although it would have been nice to know.”

Harry studied her face for a moment.

“Know what?”

“What I’m afraid of,” she admitted softly, meeting his gaze.

For a moment they remained silent as they sat together. Eventually Harry leaned in, kissing her neck softly before resting his head on her shoulder.

“What do we do now?” she whispered.

Harry shook his head with a sigh.

“Honestly?” he said into her skin, “I don’t know. We can’t stay here. We need to go somewhere…somewhere deserted. We need to find a house…something…a place no one will be looking.”

“Right,” she breathed.

Bringing her hand up, she threaded her fingers through his hair. Raking her nails down his scalp to his neck she felt him tremble under her touch. He remained silent, resting against her shoulder as she ran her hand up and down his back.

“Feels nice,” he murmured after a minute.

“Did you sleep at all?” she asked worriedly.

“Couldn’t,” he mumbled shaking his head before pulling back. He looked exhausted, but determined as he brought his hands to her face. “You needed me.”

“Harry…” she said, but he pressed his lips softly against hers.

“You needed me,” he breathed. “I’m fine…I just need a shower to wake up.”

Pulling back, he stood up and headed to the bathroom.

“Harry!” Ginny called, scrambling off the bed after him. Catching his arm, she turned him back around.

“I’m fi…”

“Thank you.”

“Oh…For what?” he asked, surprised by her words.

He’d assumed she wasn’t going to drop the fact that he hadn’t slept.

“For everything,” she answered, smiling sadly before shrugging.

Harry watched as her smile faded, her eyes dropping as she shifted.

“For staying with me,” she said softly, shaking her head.

“You don’t have to thank me for that,” he answered, his tone matching hers. Bringing his hand up, he caught a piece of her hair between his fingers as she met his gaze.

“You lost your job for me,” Ginny countered, her eyes earnest.

“Actually, I quit,” he reminded her, smiling slightly.

“It’s not a joke,” she insisted, her voice shaking slightly. “They’re going to be looking for us…and Malfoy too…” Shaking her head, she shut her eyes. “Who knows what’s going to happen, and my family…” Her brother’s furious expressions flashed in her mind and she covered her face. “God, they were so angry. They won’t forgive you…” she shook her head. “You walked away from your life for me…”

“Ginny,” Harry interrupted. Pulling her hands from her face he cupped her cheeks in his palms, forcing her gaze to his. “You are my life now. You’re worth more than my job, or my safety…”

For a moment he simply stared at her, watching the tears in her eyes.

“I love you,” he whispered fiercely. “I wouldn’t have left you even if you’d asked - even if you’d been ok with going with Dawlish. You’re too important.”

Ginny nodded, shutting her eyes as his thumbs ran back and forth across her cheeks. “Malfoy…”

“Not to Malfoy,” Harry whispered before pressing his lips against hers, “I mean to me.”

Slipping his arms around her waist, he pulled her to him, kissing her again.

“You’re too important to me,” he whispered firmly.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Ginny kissed him back as she pressed against him. After a moment she rested her forehead against his, meeting his gaze again.

“I’m important to my family too,” Ginny said.

“I know.”

“And they really didn’t want me with you,” she whispered, her lip beginning to tremble suddenly. She felt Harry tense before he pulled her closer. “They’re lying to us…they tried to hurt you…” she managed tremulously. In an instant her anger and frustration came rushing back. “I don’t understand…”

“I know, baby,” Harry murmured, stroking her back as she began to tremble.

“Why would they do that? Why would they be so…so…”

“I don’t know,” he answered truthfully. “We’re going to work it out…but first we have to get somewhere safer. Somewhere we can think.”

“Ok,” she nodded. Tilting her head back she kissed him gently.

“Take a shower and get ready,” he suggested. “I’ll be right here…then when I’m done we’ll get out of here.”


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