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Protection by PrincessPotter
Chapter 13 : Fighting Fate
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 40


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Morning dawned slowly, the sun creeping lazily over the windowsill until its warm light spilled onto the floor. Inching across the hardwood, it eventually meandered up the side of the bed and across the two forms asleep under the covers.

Harry was on his back with the blankets down around his waist. One arm was folded over his chest while the other was draped across Ginny’s stomach, his hand curled instinctively around her hip.

The room was charged with magical energy, the curtains rustling in the wake of each wave of power. A soft hum rose from the bedside table, where the lamp was beginning to vibrate against the wood.

Ginny’s face remained peaceful as she slumbered, while Harry’s mouth tightened into a thin line. The hair on his arms stood on end, his muscles growing taunt as his grip tightened on Ginny’s hip.

As the room continued to slowly brighten, magical currents flowed unchecked from Harry’s body. With each passing second, the tension in his muscles increased until his head jerked to the side and he inhaled sharply.

As if on cue, Harry’s eyes snapped open when the morning light finally hit his face. For a second his fingers dug into Ginny’s hip in the wake of his dreams. When she shifted slightly at the pressure, he quickly released his bruising grip.

Looking over, he found her red hair strewn across her pillow, her face angled away from him as she slept. Smoothing out the fabric of her pajama bottoms, he gently slid his hand just under the hem to caress her skin.

Shutting his eyes, he expelled a slow, unsteady breath as he arched his neck. He could feel his body still tingling from sleep and he curled his fingers into a fist to ease the sensation. After a moment he uncurled them, allowing the pent up energy to siphon off.

He’d been dreaming of his final battle with Voldemort - reliving the moment that had changed his life. His breathing quickened and his eyes opened as the memory resurfaced in his mind.

Lightning flashed across the sky and rain pounded down as Harry dove behind the large bubbling cauldron, narrowly escaping the dark lord’s curse.

He could hear the wizard’s demented laughter as he struggled to catch his breath. Crouching behind the huge pot, he looked around, clutching his wand tightly. The muddy ground was riddled with the remains of the interrupted ritual, the distorted pentagram shining silver against the dark earth.

A crack of thunder shook the ground as Voldemort called his name.

Rising up, Harry rounded the cauldron, throwing a series of curses as he moved. The wind whipped his robes around him and flung his wet hair across his face.

Voldemort’s sudden curse hit him in the chest, slamming him against the cauldron. He tumbled over it, landing hard on his back as he knocked the large copper pot over.

Harry felt like he was on fire as the bubbling contents splashed over the rim and onto his body, soaking his robes and filling his mouth as he cried out. Struggling to breathe, he chocked on the thick potion, unable to stop the flow of liquid that oozed down his throat.

Quickly he rolled over and swallowed, coughing as he tried to clear his lungs. His stomach clenched painfully as he struggled to his feet, wiping the potion out of his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Time to die, Harry!” Voldemort shouted.

Desperate and out of options, Harry threw out his arm, his eyes blazing.

Time seemed to slow down when it happened. They shot the killing curse at the same time and as before, their wands locked. A magical barrier erupted instantly around them, shielding them from the weather.

Gritting his teeth, Harry struggled to hold his wand steady. His gaze locked with his parents’ murderer as he fought to force the ball of magic toward his enemy.


Harry shut his eyes against the images. He could never remember the moment he’d won, the moment he’d finally gotten the spell across the circle to Voldemort.

All he remembered was the explosion afterwards, the pain and the sensation of being thrown through the air before everything went dark.

Beside him, Ginny shifted with a sigh, drawing him out of his memories. Opening his eyes, Harry looked over and focused on her face.

No longer calm, she seemed to be frowning in her sleep as she began to shift restlessly. His fingers were tingling where he touched her skin and he gasped as a vision suddenly erupted inside of his head.

Ginny was standing outside of the barrier, her wet hair whipping around her face and shoulders in the rain. Her eyes were full of fear as she held his gaze.

His arms were shaking as he fought to hold his wand steady. He could hear Voldemort’s laughter as he struggled, but he couldn’t look away from her face.

Despite the tears rolling down her cheeks she broke into a smile. She was beautiful and perfect and, although he couldn’t hear it over the storm, he saw her mouth form the words.

“I love you.”


Pain shot through Harry’s head and his body convulsed on the bed. His fingers dug unconsciously into Ginny’s hip again as another image flashed before him, replacing the last.

“HARRY…Harry…”

He heard her voice in the darkness before she appeared over him, the dripping strands of her hair forming a curtain around their faces.

Bringing her shaking hands to his cheeks, she wiped the mud and blood off of his skin.

She flew away from him suddenly, landing hard on her back ten yards away as he sat up. He was on her an instant later, his hand wrapped around her neck as he held her down.

Rain pounded on his back as she struggled beneath him, her eyes widening with fear…


The image was gone almost as soon as it appeared, replaced only by pain.

Ginny whimpered beside him, trying to roll away from the discomfort of his grip.

Ripping his hand away from her with a gasp, Harry grabbed his head as he sat up. Squeezing his eyes shut with a moan, he fought the wave of nausea that had moved over him with the pain. It was extreme and consuming, like his brain was splitting in two.

What the hell…

Pushing off the covers, he slipped gingerly out of the bed. Moving unsteadily to the window, he sank down before it, resting his hands on his knees and shutting his eyes.

After a moment, he abandoned the pose, instead bringing his palms back to his forehead as he curled over. Gritting his teeth so tightly his jaw ached, he worked to bring his power back under control.

Fifteen minutes later, he was back beside the bed, gazing down at the woman now snuggled peacefully under the covers.

Her hair was tangled and draped over her shoulder shimmering in the morning light. She looked tiny, young and suddenly very fragile as he watched her sleep.

He couldn’t understand what he’d seen. The moments were already fading away, eluding his grasp as he tried to remember them.

He knew he’d centered before sleeping, but it apparently hadn’t been enough after the previous night.

The thought worried him, unsure of how to deal with his increasing instability. Even now he still felt a bit unsteady and the thought of what had happened the night before made him shudder.

Memories of regaining control and seeing Ginny struggling beneath him on the bed surged inside of him and he took a steadying breath.

What if I’d actually hurt her?

The idea of losing control while he was near her, of putting her in danger again, scared him - terrified him actually.

He’d questioned the attempt to separate them at the Ministry a hundred times. Today, however, was the first time he wondered if they’d been right to want to get her away from him.

As soon as he thought it, he shook his head, raking his fingers through his hair. It was all just too much. He couldn’t focus on one question without, what felt like, a hundred others popping up.

What are we doing? he wondered in frustration.

They’d run from everyone to keep from being separated and he didn’t really even understand why.

They put me with her. Why would they all of a sudden decide I was too dangerous?

If he really thought about it, he couldn’t even explain the intensity of his determination not to let her go. The logical part of his brain knew that it wasn’t as if he’d never have seen her again. He would’ve been able to check on her and keep tabs on her…but he hadn’t cared. He wouldn’t trust her to Dawlish or anyone else’s protection.

And yet it was more than that. It wasn’t just about protecting her – it was about her.

The need to stay near her, the fear of being separated that had surged inside of him had been intense and elemental. Even now the thought of not being with her caused his throat to tighten and his heart to speed up.

Is it even normal? he asked himself as his eyes roamed her face. To need someone this much?

He hadn’t needed Cho like this…or anyone else he’d been with. He knew what he felt for Ginny in comparison was different, stronger, but still…

The room darkened suddenly, derailing his thoughts. Looking over at the window he saw the previously blue sky masked by a bank of clouds rolling in to block the sun.

Careful not to wake Ginny, he lifted the covers and slipped back into bed. The mattress dipped with his weight and she rolled toward him, a sigh slipping quietly from her lips.

Lying on his side, Harry folded his arm under his head and continued to watch her sleep for several moments.

It was true he’d never needed Cho or anyone the way he needed her, but at the same time, no one else caused his power to react the way she did either.

His dreams hadn’t been this dark for years. Never could he remember waking up next to anyone and having to immediately fight down such a powerful urge to hurt them.

He did remember feeling the need to hurt Ron and Hermione and other people he cared about - but that had been before he’d learned how to control himself. He certainly didn’t dream about them or have this kind of trouble controlling himself when he was around them.

I just need to focus harder, he decided. I need to be more diligent and remember my training.

He also knew he needed more rest. The situation was beyond trying. His emotions were all over the place, and he couldn’t let that disruption to his system cause Ginny to be hurt.

Reaching out, Harry gently brushed a few strands of her hair from her face. Her skin was smooth and warm and once he touched her, he found it hard to stop. His palm tingled as he cupped her cheek, his fingers sliding into her hair.

Ginny stirred in response to his touch, her brow furrowing before relaxing again.

For Harry, touching her brought an immediate surge of pleasure. The expected urge to destroy followed quickly behind it, but Harry was ready for it this time.

It wasn’t a surprising response. He’d learned over the years that his power reacted poorly to anything that brought him joy and he focused on tamping the feeling down. Drawing his insides back under control was a daily routine and he was relieved by how swiftly he was able to do it at this moment.

Keeping his hand against her face, Harry focused on her warmth, allowing a feeling of calm to grow inside of him. As it built, slowly easing his tension, it occurred to him how ironic the situation really was.

At times her touch seemed to aggravate his power, sending him nearly over the edge with the urge to hurt her…or worse…

Now in the wake of his nightmares, he was using her touch as a comfort. Had the situation been less serious he might have found the contrast in his reaction to her presence comical.

Leaning forward, Harry pressed his lips against her forehead. At the same time, he slipped his arm underneath her. Rolling onto his back he brought her with him so that her head was resting on his shoulder.

With a murmur, Ginny shifted more fully against him, sliding her arm up to his chest. As she settled back to sleep, she exhaled slowly and draped her leg comfortably over his.

Harry stared at the ceiling, her slight weight soothing as he held her. After several minutes he felt almost normal. His hand glided smoothly over her hair as he continued to mull over the recent events.

Eventually Ginny stirred again. Moaning softly, she turned to rub her forehead against his shoulder before looking up at him.

“Hi,” Harry breathed brushing her hair away from her eyes.

“Hi,” she replied. A sleepy smile stretched across her face before she rolled off of him. “Mm, what time is it?” she asked stretching her arms over her head as she arched her back.

“No idea,” Harry answered as he followed her. Unwilling to lose the contact, he pulled her back toward him, burying his face against her neck. “Who cares?”

Laughing softly, Ginny wrapped her arms around his shoulders, pulling him closer as he curled his body against hers. His shirt was slightly damp as she ran her hands over his shoulders. Frowning briefly when she felt the tension in his body, she began to rub soothing circles down his back.

“Harry…”

“Hmm?”

“You ok?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he breathed, pressing his lips against her throat.

Curling her fingers into his hair, Ginny tugged gently, urging him to look up so that she could see his face.

“Really?” she pressed, searching his eyes when he finally met her gaze.

“Really,” he lied.

The sun peaked back out from behind the clouds as they stared at each other. Ginny released his hair, running her thumb back and forth across his cheek absently as she studied him.

“Did you have a nightmare?” she asked finally.

Harry hesitated before dropping his gaze and shaking his head.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” he told her with a sigh.

“You had one? You should have woken me,” she admonished.

“That wouldn’t have been a good idea,” he said running his thumb down her cheek.

He watched her expression change, knew she was remembering what had happened the night before. The corners of his mouth tilted down into a frown as he lowered his forehead to hers.

“It was nothing,” he lied smoothly, brushing his lips against hers.

“Do you always have them?” she asked after a pause.

“Sometimes,” Harry admitted before kissing her again.

Undeterred by his attempted distraction, Ginny pushed him back.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Harry stared at her, considering his answer before he shrugged.

“I didn’t want you to worry,” he admitted. “It’s not that unusual for me, and before…when you didn’t know about everything, it wouldn’t have made any sense if I tried to explain. Besides, when I center it’s not so bad…or at least the effect of the dreams isn’t as…extreme,” he explained, unable to find a better word.

Ginny nodded, remembering the violent reaction he’d had when she’d woken him before. She stared at his eyes, vibrant and green this morning, where they’d been black the night before.

“So…centering,” she said, thinking out loud. “It’s for your power?”

“Yeah.”

“And you do it before you sleep?”

“Mhmm. When I wake up too,” he answered, sliding down onto his side and resting his cheek on her pillow. “I’m in less control of my mind when I’m asleep. The power is more active, so I can get…”

“Testy?” Ginny supplied when he trailed off.

“Yeah,” he chuckled, reaching for her hand and threading his fingers through hers. “When you woke me up yesterday…I hadn’t meant to fall asleep. I hadn’t centered in two days. It was stupid of me…and it won’t happen again.”

“It’s ok.”

“No, it’s not,” he replied, his voice instantly hard. “It was irresponsible.”

“I trust you.”

Making a sound of disbelief in his throat, Harry brought her hand to his mouth, pressing his lips against her skin.

“I do.”

“I know,” he said, kissing her hand again before lowering it back down between them. “I just don’t think you really appreciate how close you were to being hurt.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me on purpose,” Ginny insisted firmly as she gave his hand a squeeze.

Pulling her closer, Harry tucked his face into her neck with a sigh. His lips grazed her throat, his breath warm on her skin as he shut his eyes.

Silence descended around them as they both became momentarily lost in their thoughts. Gradually, Harry’s breathing deepened as the warmth from the sunlight on his back relaxed him.

“Harry!”

The alarm in Ginny’s voice shot through him and he opened his eyes.

“What’s that?” she asked.

Following her gaze, he twisted to look over his shoulder. When he saw what she was talking about his body went rigid.

A white owl was flying toward the window. If it weren’t for the lush jade forest behind it, he wouldn’t even have noticed but now he watched in shock as the bird flew toward the cottage.

“Is…is that an owl?” Ginny stammered, unable to believe what she was seeing.

A string of expletives flew from Harry’s lips as he launched himself off the bed. His wand flew instantly from the side table to his hand as he crossed to the window.

“Goddamn it, Ron,” he hissed, tightening his grip on his wand as he watched the bird fly closer and closer.

“Ron?” Ginny exclaimed, jumping up after him. “How did he find us?!”

Her voice was panicked and Harry glanced back at her as she followed him to the window.

“It’s ok,” he assured her, reaching for her hand.

“It’s ok?” she repeated, her voice suddenly trembling. “It’s not ok! How can it be ok, Harry!? What if they’re right behind it…”

“They’re not,” Harry said firmly. Releasing her hand he cupped her cheek in his palm, kissing her swiftly. “They’re not,” he repeated.

“You can’t know that.”

“Yes, I can,” he nodded. “Hedwig wouldn’t let anyone follow her. Even Ron.”

“Who?” Ginny asked.

“Hedwig,” he said, looking back out the window. “My owl,” he explained grimly, his eyes locked on his oldest friend.

“Your…but how did she find us?”

“She can find anyone,” Harry sighed, his face a strange combination of frustration and admiration. “Look, stay behind me,” he said, moving his hand to Ginny’s shoulder and gently pushing her back.

“Why?”

“She doesn’t like gir…people,” Harry explained, suddenly a bit sheepish.

Swiftly, he pushed up the sash, stepping back seconds before the snow white owl swooped in the window.

Ginny backed away, watching warily while Harry held out his arm.

Hedwig landed with a flourish, shaking out her feathers while her beady eyes assessed him shrewdly.

“Hey, girl,” he greeted warmly, reaching up to stroke her feathers. “What are you doing, making such a long…ow!”

Shaking out his hand, Harry gaped at Hedwig as she turned her face away, refusing to look at him.

“What was that for?!”

“Are you ok?” Ginny asked, causing Hedwig’s head to swivel in her direction.

Launching off Harry’s arm with a loud hoot, Hedwig flew suddenly toward her.

“Hedwig!” Harry exclaimed, moving to follow. “No!”

Startled, Ginny instinctively stuck out her arm, her eyes widening when Hedwig landed lightly. Surprisingly the bird’s expression appeared almost friendly as she hooted softly.

“Well…hello,” Ginny smiled. Tentatively, she reached up. When Hedwig didn’t seem to mind, Ginny began stroking her feathers. “Aren’t you a pretty girl,” she cooed as the owl nipped affectionately at her hand.

Harry gaped at them for a moment, snapping his mouth shut when Ginny looked his way.

“I thought you said she didn’t like people,” she said, quirking an eyebrow.

“She doesn’t,” he insisted, shaking his head helplessly before he frowned. “Well no, she likes people. She just doesn’t like my girlfriends…”

“Oh?” Ginny replied as her eyes began to twinkle. “And am I your girlfriend?” she teased, breaking into a grin.

Harry grinned back, but soon his expression faded once again to disbelief as he watched Hedwig walk up Ginny’s arm. The bird tilted her head expectantly as though waiting for Ginny to continue stroking her feathers.

“That’s just so odd,” Harry said, shaking his head. “It’s like she knows you or something…” He trailed off when Ginny’s eyes snapped to his.

Hedwig hooted loudly, sticking out her leg as her head swung back around toward Harry, reminding him that she’d brought him a message.

“She doesn’t seem very happy with you,” Ginny stated, watching the way Hedwig responded to Harry.

“I haven’t visited her since…well since this all started,” Harry explained as he approached.

Now, too old to be used on a daily basis, Hedwig technically lived with Hagrid at Hogwarts. Although Harry still visited her regularly and used her for his more important jobs, he’d wanted her to have the freedom of the school grounds, as opposed to being cooped up in his flat for days on end.

Hedwig’s gaze swung away from him, pointedly ignoring him once he got close.

“Hey, don’t be like that,” Harry frowned, reaching out and running the back of his fingers down her wing. “You know I wouldn’t have stayed away if it weren’t something really important.”

Hedwig hooted in reproach while Harry untied the note. Crumpling the string into his hand, he squeezed it tightly before presenting a transfigured treat to her.

As Hedwig took the morsel and flew up to the top of the bureau, Harry unfolded the parchment. Ginny moved to his side, following along with him as he read the short note.

Harry,

What’s going on? Where are you? You need to come back right now.
If you care about her, you’ll bring her back, mate.
We’ll explain everything when you get back. I promise.

Ron


Harry stared down at the letter, his eyes stuck on the last two words. “I promise.”

Liar, Harry fumed silently.

Gritting his teeth, Harry’s feelings of betrayal toward Ron came back full force.

He let them try to separate us at the Ministry. How could he possibly think we’d trust him now?

Harry's eyes narrowed as his anger grew. He didn't even notice the force of his grip causing the paper to crinkle and fold around his fingers.

Ginny’s soft curse caught his attention and he looked over. At the same time, she reached for the letter, pulling it from his grasp and ripping it up into little pieces.

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

Pansy stood in the doorway, watching Draco as he sat in a large leather wingback chair. Hunched down in the cushions with a half-empty decanter of alcohol in his hand, he stared blindly into the fire.

His last couple of days had been consumed with hunting for Ginny and Harry. They weren’t any closer than when they started, but despite the hopelessness of the situation, Draco refused to turn his attentions elsewhere.

“You’re up early,” Pansy commented as she strolled into the room.

She didn’t need to ask why he’d awoken at the crack of dawn.

On the table in front of his chair, was a small silver cauldron.

When Draco had realized his tracer on the Weasley girl had been removed, a potion had been created using a piece of her hair. As long as she remained pure the concoction would appear clear but the taking of her virginity would cause the liquid to swirl into a deep violet color.

Although general use of this type of purity potion had fallen out of common practice, pureblood families had once used the method to ensure the innocence of their daughters before marriage.

When she got close enough to peer inside, Pansy frowned, noting the clear potion within.

So she’s still a virgin, Pansy mused, mildly surprised.

Rounding the chair with a sigh, she came to a stop in front of Draco.

“You should come back to bed, baby,” she murmured silkily, slipping open her robe to reveal a sheer black nightgown. “You need to relax.”

When Malfoy didn’t even bother to look over, Pansy stepped closer. Sliding her knee slowly in between his legs, she watched his face for any sign of rejection. Although he still didn’t make any move to touch her, he shifted to allow her better access. Smirking slightly, she climbed into the chair so that she was straddling his lap.

Draco settled his hands on her hips, continuing to stare into the flames as she began kissing his neck.

“There are other options,” Pansy murmured after a second, sensing his persistent distraction. Running her hand up and down his shirt in a soothing gesture, she kissed his cheek. “Why do you have to use a Weasley?”

“It’s what I want,” he answered shortly, digging his fingers into her hips in response to her questioning him.

Shifting under his painful grip, Pansy went to work on the buttons of his shirt.

“But who cares who you use as long as it works?” she pouted. “Is she so important?”

“She’s powerful,” Malfoy grumbled, leaning his head back on the chair and shutting his eyes while Pansy caressed his chest.

“That’s not why you want to use her,” Pansy shook her head.

“You’re right,” he admitted with a hard smile. “Using her hurts so many convenient people.”

Slipping his hand to Pansy’s neck he guided her mouth down to his skin.

“But once you get the power, you can hurt them all you want,” Pansy pointed out as she pressed kisses from his throat down to his chest. “You can make them pay,” she murmured.

“Oh, they’ll pay,” Malfoy agreed softly. Twisting his fingers into Pansy’s hair at the thought, he pulled her head up, kissing her roughly. “And that’s just the beginning.”

“So use someone else,” Pansy urged breathlessly. “Someone easier.”

Someone you don’t want as much, her mind added jealously.

“Damn it, Pansy,” Malfoy snarled, pushing her away. “I want to use her, so stop hassling me about it. I have my reasons.”

“I’m sorry, baby,” Pansy soothed, undoing his pants as she leaned back in to kiss his chest. “I know you do,” she murmured. “I know they killed your parents…”

“What did you say?” Malfoy hissed freezing under her touch.

Speaking of Malfoy’s parents was forbidden but Pansy pressed on, hoping to make him realize that continuing to hunt Ginny was reckless and unnecessary.

“Killing his sister isn’t going to bring your mum back, baby,” she said gently. “There are other ways to punish him…to punish all of them…”

With a growl Malfoy shoved her hard.

Pansy tumbled off his lap with a cry of surprise, landing on the floor at his feet.

“That’s not what this is about. They don’t get to dictate who I use,” Malfoy spat, his eyes glittering dangerously down at her as he stood up. “And neither do you…I’ll get someone else if I have to. But not until any possible chance of getting what I want is gone.”

“They’ve been gone for two days,” Pansy said, narrowing her eyes. “She won’t be a virgin much longer.”

“Not everyone’s a whore like you,” Malfoy growled as he strode away.

Pansy scoffed, lounging back on her elbows.

“Locked up in some safe-house with Potter? Who wouldn’t do him?” Pansy called. Even as she knew she’d pay for her words, she couldn’t resist adding, “He’s delicious.”

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

Freshly showered and dressed, Harry headed down the stairs, looking for Ginny. They’d eaten a large breakfast earlier, both hungry after missing dinner the night before.

Entering the kitchen quietly, Harry came to a stop just inside the doorway.

Ginny was standing at the sink, with what looked like all of the cabin’s dishes piled beside her. The water was running, drowning out most of the simple melody she was humming as she washed each one by hand.

Cocking his head to the side, Harry watched her for a few moments while she worked.

Setting one plate aside, she picked up another and began to scrub it clean. Her circular motion became slower and slower, her song fading away as she stared out the window. Obviously lost in her thoughts, she didn’t seem to notice when Harry finally approached.

Coming up behind her, he settled his hands on her waist, causing her to jump in surprise.

“What are you doing?” he asked softly, lowering his head to inhale the fragrance of her hair.

Memorable and floral, the smell was distinctly Ginny and he closed his eyes as he rested his chin on her shoulder. His power rumbled inside of him almost instantly, but he tamped it down.

“Washing dishes,” she replied, beginning to scrub the plate again.

“All of them?”

“They’re dusty,” she shrugged.

“Well that’s very…domestic of you,” he grinned, pulling her hair off of her shoulder to have better access to her neck. “Any particular reason you’re doing it by hand?”

She gave a small shrug as she felt his warm breath on her skin.

“Mum made us do it the muggle way when we were in trouble growing up,” she explained.

Straightening, Harry began running his fingers though her silky strands.

“Were you in trouble a lot?”

“Yes,” she admitted with a smile. “But not as much as the boys.”

Harry chuckled, sure she meant the twins.

“Yeah, right,” he teased, giving her hair a light tug. “You know you were a hundred times worse than they could ever dream of being.”

“I was not!” she protested with a laugh. “I was an angel.”

“No, you were just better at not getting caught,” he corrected with a smirk.

“Same thing,” she declared loftily.

“Of course it is, Angel,” he smiled.

“Well, regardless…” she smirked, before diverting back to their original topic, “doing the dishes this way helps me relax in a weird way.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” she echoed as she continued to wash the dishes.

While she worked, Harry stood behind her, running his fingers absently through her hair.

“What were you thinking about before I came in?” he asked thoughtfully after a moment of silence.

“Nothing,” she said, her voice coming out slightly hesitant. “Just…things…”

“What things?”

His voice was low and comforting and Ginny rested back against him as she worked.

“You know what,” she murmured, setting another dish aside.

“Actually, I don’t,” he replied, bringing his lips to her temple. “Malfoy…your family…what we’re doing…me?”

Setting his hands on her shoulders he waited for her answer, hoping that it wasn’t him she was worrying about. After his loss of control the night before, he wouldn’t be surprised, but still, he didn’t like being part of her fears.

When she merely shook her head he frowned.

“You don’t have to worry about Ron,” he assured her, “the letter. We’re not going back. You know...”

“I know,” she interrupted. “It’s not that.”

“Then what is it?”

“My mind,” she admitted quietly after a second.

“What?” he asked not understanding her whisper over the sound of the running water.

“The thing…in my mind,” she repeated louder, her body shuddering.

Instantly, Harry regretted telling her the truth the day before at the inn. He almost hadn’t told her about the wall of white he’d found in her mind during the storm.

She already had enough to frighten her, he lamented briefly. I don’t even know what it was…if anything.

“Why are you thinking about that?” he asked softly, beginning to run his hands up and down her arms.

“Because it scares me,” she admitted shakily. “More than the rest…”

“Ginny…we’ll work it out,” Harry promised. “But we agreed to deal with other things first, didn’t we?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t worry about it right now. Please,” he breathed into her ear. Rolling her shoulders with his fingers, he pressed a kiss to her neck. “Let’s just relax today. We’re both tired.”

Ginny shut her eyes briefly at the feel of him behind her, his warmth seeping into her skin.

“Ok,” she agreed.

“Wash your dishes, love,” he suggested, his lips brushing the shell of her ear.

As she refocused on washing the plates, Harry stood behind her smoothing her hair behind her ears. After another minute of silence he began to pile her hair up on top of her head.

“What are you doing?” she asked, quirking her lip.

“Keeping you company while you relax,” he answered innocently as he slid his hand down her arm. Pulling her hair band off of her wrist he twisted it around the messy bun he’d made on the top of her head.

Ginny’s body was tense and for a few minutes Harry worked on massaging the knots from her shoulders. When her head rolled down with a moan of contentment, he smiled, kneading her muscles.

Eventually he trailed his hands down her back; tracing her spine as he lowered his lips to her nape. He felt her body shiver and continued to kiss her skin as his hands gradually moved to her hips.

Spreading his fingers wide on her slender frame, he pressed his thumbs on her lower back as he began to make small circles on her hip bones.

Dropping kisses around to the side of her neck, he urged her head to the side to have better access.

Ginny trembled under his touch as he pressed his front to her back, his fingertips curling into her skin as he ran his teeth and tongue over her throat. Pushing back against him, her breath caught when he moved up to take her ear between his teeth.

“Ginny,” he breathed and she moaned softly in response. “You aren’t washing the dishes,” he teased huskily.

Ginny’s eyes flicked open and she looked down to find herself gripping a plate as if she was trying to break it. Loosening her grip, she watched it slip under the water as Harry took her ear back into his teeth.

“Here, let me help,” he offered, his voice caressing her skin.

Wrapping his arms around her, he slid his hands down over hers and began helping her wash. Or at least he attempted to…in reality he mostly just rubbed water farther and farther up her forearms as he nibbled on her ear.

Pressed between his body and the counter, Ginny struggled to keep her eyes open as her heart thumped in her chest. The temperature in the room seemed to have risen sharply during the last few minutes and she shifted back restlessly against him.

His sharp inhalation as his hands tightened on her arms sent a spark of heat down her body.

“Are you done yet?” he asked.

Even as she nodded her head, he was already moving, reaching past her to pull the stopper from the drain.

“Let’s do something else,” he suggested softly as he took her hands and rinsed them under the running water.

“What do you want to do?” Ginny murmured.

Watching his fingers slide back and forth smoothly between hers, she felt the sensation down to her toes.

“I’m sure we can think of something.”

“I’m sure we…Bugger!” Ginny exclaimed suddenly, breaking the spell.

“What?” Harry asked as he jumped at her outburst. “What is it?”

“My ring,” she said frantically, turning the water off before reaching back into the draining water. “It slipped off…damn, I…”

Plunging his hand down into the water as well, Harry searched with her, pushing the remaining dishes around as they felt for the elusive piece of jewelry.

Unsuccessful, they watched the last of the suds swirl down the drain, leaving only the white porcelain basin.

“Shite, shite…” Ginny muttered as she stared at the bottom of the sink.

It was just a ring, but Ginny suddenly found herself fighting tears as she attempted to reach down into the hole.

“You can’t get it that way,” Harry pointed out, watching curiously as she continued to try to jam her hand into the small opening.

Ignoring him, Ginny slapped her hand against the drain in frustration before trying again.

Realizing how upset she was, Harry grasped her hips, shifting her gently to the side.

“Here,” he said, kissing her temple as he moved to the sink. “It’s ok. I can get it back.”

Sinking down onto his knees, he pulled open the doors below the sink.

Stepping back, Ginny watched as his head and shoulders disappeared into the cupboard.

“What are you doing?” she asked in confusion.

“Getting your ring back,” he replied, his voice muffled from inside the cabinet.

“But…I don’t…why are you down there?”

“It’s where the pipes are, love,” he explained with a laugh.

“The pipes? Harry, why don’t I just get a wand and…”

“What happened to doing things the muggle way?” he asked, pulling back and looking up at her with a wink. “No worries, Gin, I’ve done this before. You’ll have it back before you know it.”

With that his head disappeared back under the sink.

“You’ve done this before?” Ginny asked incredulously.

Unable to understand his mumbled response, she caught a couple of words that sounded like aunt and plumber.

“What?”

“Nothing, have you seen a wrench?”

“A what?” Ginny asked, furrowing her brow.

“Never mind,” he chuckled.

For a few minutes he seemed to fiddle with the pipes. Unfortunately, whatever he was attempting to do didn’t work. After a minute he pulled his wand from his back pocket with a muffled curse.

“I thought we were doing things the muggle way,” Ginny teased, crossing her arms and leaning her hip against the counter.

“Shut it,” he warned from under the sink, although she could hear the smile in his voice.

After a few more seconds of tinkering and clanging of metal, Harry shouted, “Ah ha!”

Pulling out quickly, he proceeded to smack the back of his head on the cabinet.

“OW!”

Cursing loudly, Harry turned around and collapsed against the door, rubbing the back of his head with his hand.

“Are you ok?” Ginny asked worriedly, dropping to her knees next to him.

“Bloody hurts,” he mumbled.

“Aw, poor baby,” Ginny cooed, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him over so she could kiss his head. “Do you want me to make it feel better?” she asked pressing kisses down his cheek to his neck.

Harry nodded and she pressed her palm against the bump forming on his head. The throbbing instantly faded away as she cast a wandless soothing charm.

“Mm,” Harry smiled, ducking his face into her shoulder. “Thank you, Healer Weasley,” he sighed, slipping his arms around her waist and snuggling into her.

“My hero,” she sighed, hugging him against her. “Wounded in battle with the big bad sink,” she teased softly.

“Hey,” he chuckled. “Do you want your ring back or not?”

“Yes, please,” she smiled, pushing him away and holding out her hand.

Harry straightened, shifting so that they were face to face on their knees. Squeezing his fist tightly, faint yellow lights escaped through his fingers before he turned his hand over and uncurled his fist.

“Good as new,” he said gallantly, picking up the sparkling clean ring from his palm.

“Thank you,” Ginny grinned, watching as he took her hand in his.

Slipping the ring back onto her finger, Harry stared at the large emerald. Light seemed to sparkle from within it as he ran his thumb over the jewel.

Ginny watched him rub his fingertips over the warm stone, the levity slipping from his features.

“Your parents gave you this?” he asked, keeping his eyes on the ring.

“Mhm,” she nodded. “Why?”

“I…no reason,” he replied, shaking his head as though to clear it. “It suits you,” he said, his mouth curving into a smile as he looked up.

“Thank you,” she smiled back.

A soothing feeling of warmth spread through her as they stared at each other, wrapping around her like a soft blanket. Tingles shot up her arm as he continued to trace his finger absently around her ring.

Leaning in, she kissed him slowly.

“You’re rather handy to keep around, you know,” she commented softly, touching his cheek as she pulled back.

“Am I?” he asked, arching his brow playfully as he followed her.

“Mhmm,” she grinned against his kiss.

“Well, glad to be of service,” he murmured eventually, sliding his arms around her waist and pulling her against him.

For a moment he merely brushed their noses together before finally catching her lips again. Initially gentle and teasing, the kiss soon became deep and thorough as the tension between them grew.

When he urged her back onto the floor, she went easily, pulling him down with her.

They’d been interrupted over and over, but now, in the silence of the kitchen there was no one to stop them or keep them apart.

Anticipation of where they were heading spurred her response and Ginny moaned against his mouth as she lost herself in him. Reaching for his jeans she fumbled with the clasp for a moment before giving up with a frustrated groan.

Grabbing his shirt instead, she pulled it from his jeans and began pushing it impatiently up his chest.

Chuckling against her throat, Harry caught her hands and dragged them easily above her head. Kissing her deeply, he then worked her shirt up, pulling it over her head before tossing it away.

Rising up, his gaze wandered hungrily down her body as he took his own shirt off. Amusement flashed through his eyes when she immediately reached to touch him.

Catching her wrists with the swiftness of a seeker he moved her hands back over her head. Easing his body back down onto hers, he relished the feeling of their skin touching for a second before refocusing his attention of her throat.

As soon as he released her hands Ginny tried to move. Gasping when she realized she couldn’t, she looked up to find her wrists magically stuck to the hardwood.

“Harry!”

“Hmm?”

“What are you doing?”

“Helping you relax, remember?” he smiled against her skin.

“But I want to touch you,” she complained breathlessly as he dipped his tongue into the hollow of her throat.

“That’s very good to hear,” he chuckled huskily, “but I think this is about you right now.”

“Oh…Is it?”

“Mhm…” he assured her as he meandered his way back up her neck.

“But…”

Harry silenced any protest she might’ve had as he slipped his tongue into her mouth.

Moaning helplessly, Ginny kissed him back, her skin trembling under his touch.

“I love you,” he told her, releasing the front catch of her bra. “I love you so much,” he swore, his forehead dropping briefly to her shoulder as he watched his hands slide up her body to her breasts. “I don’t want you to worry…”

Ginny groaned, arching into his touch before crying out as he replaced his hand with his mouth. She could feel the first hint of a headache but she ignored it, lost in the feelings he was evoking.

“Harry…”

“Shhh…don’t think about anything but this,” he murmured. Eventually rising back up, he kissed her again, stealing her breath.

Ginny gasped against his mouth, the ache in her head intensifying with every second.

When he pulled away her eyes flicked open, meeting his hungry gaze.

“I love you, Gin.”

With a flash of pain the world seemed to tremble. Ginny blinked as Harry distorted above her, shifting from the Harry she knew to a younger version of himself.

Backlit by the afternoon sun, he seemed to glow as he gazed down at her. His hair was messy as always, his cheeks flushed and his eyes twinkling at her from behind a pair of round wire-rimmed glasses that were sliding down his nose.

“I love you, Gin,” he repeated, the words sweet and almost hesitant as a blush crept across his cheeks.

With a whoosh, the world around her changed again as she gasped.

Disoriented, Ginny blinked to find the Harry she knew come back into focus.

“I…”

Leaning down, he caught her mouth again in a thorough kiss that left her reeling.

“What is it?” he panted, nipping at her bottom lip.

“N-nothing,” she breathed. Lifting her head she kissed him again moaning in both pleasure and pain as his tongue rolled over hers. “I just…I love you too,” she managed dazedly.

She followed him, rising up as far as she could to catch his mouth again but he simply smirked and slipped away as she pulled on her bonds.

Ginny was drowning in sensation as he moved back down her body. She was shaking, her mind mush as she watched his hands and mouth move over her. His nimble fingers made quick work of the button on her jeans and she arched up, trying to help him take them off.

She’d never felt like this, her heart pounding and her body reacting every time he breathed out his love for her. She heard her jeans hit the floor, felt his hands and mouth on her legs.

She loved him so much. She wanted him so much she felt like she couldn’t breathe and then…

She couldn’t breathe.

In an instant she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move at all as the ache in her head erupted into a blinding flash of pain.

Harry felt her body go rigid a second before she screamed.

Looking up, his eyes widened as he saw her expression. His grip tightened automatically on her thighs, holding her legs still as she began trying to kick.

“Ginny!”

Her cries echoed around the kitchen as he shot up her body, leaning over her. Tears were beginning to roll down her cheeks; her eyes squeezed shut and her chest heaving as she struggled.

Catching her face in his suddenly trembling hands, Harry pulled them away again when her screaming only increased.

“What is it?!” he asked in confusion, unsure how to help her. “Tell me what’s happening.”

“Head…my h-head,” she choked out. “Hurts,” she moaned.

Releasing her arms from the binds, Harry stayed on his knees between her legs as her hands flew to her face. Pressing her palms against her temples, Ginny whimpered.

Harry didn’t understand what was happening, temporarily frozen as he stared at her in shock and fear. Instinctively he looked up at the window.

It’s not storming. Then why....

The only time he’d seen anything similar to this was when she’d gotten lost in her mind during the storms. Even then, it was only when he’d tried to force his way through her mind that she’d seemed to be in any physical pain.

What’s causing it?

Her headaches had been dismissed as related to the tracer, but now he wasn’t so sure. She’d had more than one since it had been removed, this being by far the most extreme display he’d seen.

There’s no reason for her head to be hurting right now, is there?…

“Gin,” he breathed, reaching tentatively for her. One hand slid to her waist while the other wrapped around one of her wrists. “What’s happening…”

Ginny’s breath caught at his touch before she shoved his hands away with a cry.

“Ginn…”

“Don’t touch me,” she gasped, scooting back quickly before rolling onto her side. Her body was trembling as she curled into a ball.

“Talk to me,” Harry entreated.

“Hurts,” Ginny whimpered, her arms covering her face as they curled up protectively over her head.

Waving his hand at the ceiling, Harry caused the lights in the kitchen to go out. The room became enshrouded in darkness with the clouds blocking the sun outside. Crawling around her, Harry sat on his knees several feet away, watching her face in silence.

Slowly her trembling lessened. Her breathing returned to normal before her eyes finally flicked open.

“Tell me you’re ok,” Harry said when her gaze locked with his. His voice was hoarse with emotion, his hands curled into fists where they rested against the floor.

Swallowing, Ginny nodded, rubbing her temples as she slowly sat up.

“I think I’m ok,” she murmured, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Tell me what happened,” Harry encouraged her. He began to crawl toward her but stopped when she scooted back. “Gin,” he breathed.

“I-I…I’m just…I’m going to…”

Pushing her hair out of her face, Ginny clamored to her feet.

Harry stood as well. He approached her again, not stopping when she backed up into the counter, her arms clamped over her chest. Coming to a stop in front of her, he stared at her face as she kept her eyes firmly on the floor.

“What happened?” he asked again, his voice quiet.

“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I felt…it felt wonderful but then, but my head, it…there’s something wrong with me.”

Moving slowly, Harry reached out. Sliding his finger under her chin, he tilted her face up.

“Are you still in pain?” he asked, sliding his hand to her cheek.

Closing her eyes, she leaned into his touch before she shook her head.

“How did it hurt?” he questioned her, using his freehand to smooth her hair.

“It felt like my head was going to split in half,” she whispered. Her body was trembling again as she bit her lip. “I saw…”

“You saw?” Harry pressed. “What did you see?”

“Nothing,” she shook her head.

Ginny.”

“Nothing!” she insisted. “It was just pain and white and flashes of…of nothing…things that don’t make sense. I can’t even really remember…”

“White,” Harry echoed faintly when she trailed off. His heart sped up as a sense of dread began to fill him. “And it got worse…when I was touching you?” Harry asked, remembering how she’d jerked away, seemingly in more pain when he’d initially reached for her.

She nodded before swiping her hand under her nose and looking away.

Harry caught her wrist, drawing her attention down as he stared at her skin. Furrowing her brow Ginny noticed the red swipe across the back of her hand.

Her eyes flew back to his at his soft curse.

“What…” she began, before falling silent as he quickly grabbed a towel from the counter.

Cupping her neck in his palm, he tilted her head back as he dabbed underneath her nose, his own face ashen.

Ginny pushed his hands away, bringing her fingers up to her nose. She felt the trickle under her right nostril; saw the blood when she pulled her hand away. Eyes wide with fear, she looked up at Harry, who seemed at a loss.

“Let me…”

He tried to reach for her again with the towel but she shoved his hands away with a sudden sob.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Ginny, let me help y-”

“Don’t touch me!” Ginny snapped again, the panic clear in her eyes as she shoved at him.

Stepping back, Harry let her slip past him. Turning, he watched her disappear through the doorway.

He managed to wait a full minute before going to find her. The bathroom door was locked, and when he knocked there was no answer. The sound of her crying filtered through the door, however, and he laid his hand flat on the wood.

“I’m coming in,” he announced, before performing a quick unlocking spell.

Ginny was sitting on the floor, her robe wrapped around her. Her arms were clasped around her legs, her forehead on her knees. When Harry entered, she looked up at him helplessly. There was a wad of toilet paper in her hand, a small round stain of blood visible on top.

Crossing the small room, Harry sank down next to her. He rested his back against the wall and stretched his legs out in font of him. Careful not to touch her, Harry simply sat next to her in silence.

Ginny didn’t move, her shallow breathing the only sound in the room.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she whispered finally.

“Don’t apologize.”

Moving almost at the same time, they came together. Ginny leaned into him, burying her face in his neck as he wrapped an arm over her shoulder, holding her close.

“It’s ok,” he soothed, pressing his cheek against the top of her head. Bringing his hand up, he held her cheek in his palm and kissed her hair. “It’s ok,” he repeated softly. “Tell me what happened, step by step.”

“My head started to hurt, but I ignored it because I…I didn’t want to stop. But then it…it felt like I was coming apart.”

“Did you see anything?”

“No. Yes, I…I can’t remember,” she moaned in frustration. “I feel like…I don’t know. All I can remember is pain and flashes of…of something.”

Harry frowned, pulling her closer as he thought about what he’d seen in her mind during the storm – the wall of white and the fragmented images behind it when it had splintered.

“And it went away quickly?”

“Yeah,” Ginny nodded against him.

“Do you remember anything like this ever happening before?”

“No,” she mumbled into his chest.

“Ok,” he soothed when he felt her shaking. Slipping his arm under her knees he pulled her up on to his lap so that she was cradled against him. “We’re going to figure it out…but we’re not going to do anything while you’re upset. We both need to calm down, ok? Right now we’re going to rest and when we’re ready we’ll deal with it…”

“But that’s what we were doing,” Ginny replied, her voice muffled by his neck.

“What?”

“We were resting! We were relaxing and it…”

“Baby, we weren’t relaxing,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to her head. “I know you’re frightened, and so am I, but I promise. We’re going to deal with this before anything else.”

“How?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Harry admitted after a moment. “I have an idea, though.”

“Which is?” Ginny prompted when he didn’t initially elaborate.

“I think…I think I want to look into your mind if you’ll let me,” Harry suggested slowly, as though still thinking the idea through. “I want to try to figure out what it was that I saw…to see what happened to you today. I don’t know what else to do.”

Except take you back, his mind added rebelliously, but he stubbornly pushed the idea aside, knowing she’d never accept it.

“Do you want to try now?” Ginny asked, attempting to pull away.

“No,” Harry replied, holding her in place against him. “We’re not doing anything until we’re calm.”

Ginny hesitated before she nodded, settling back in his arms.

They stayed together on the floor for several minutes, both lost in their own thoughts. Eventually Ginny’s breathing deepened as her body slowly relaxed in his embrace.

When Harry realized she was asleep he rose carefully to his feet, trying not to jostle her. He carried her down to the front room before depositing her gently on the sofa. Kneeling down in front of her, he pressed a kiss against her forehead.

Her face was pale and Harry waved his hand at the fireplace, causing a fire to erupt in the grate. Looking around, he summoned a blanket from a nearby chair and draped it over her.

Standing up, he began to head to the kitchen, only to stop in surprise when her hand caught his wrist. Looking down, he found her gazing up at him, her eyelids heavy with sleep.

“Stay,” she murmured, pulling him back toward her.

Sinking down in front of the sofa, Harry leaned in and gave her a kiss.

“Of course,” he assured her softly, kissing her again before shifting around and resting his back against the sofa. He kept her hand in his, her arm draped over his shoulder as she fell back to sleep.







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