Chapter 1 : Unforgivable
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They watched the Lynx dissolve into wisps of silver. She was still holding Fred and George’s hands… they’d been dancing.
Screams erupted everywhere as reality came crashing down. How foolish they were to think they’d be granted this snapshot of happiness in the midst of a war.
Ginny blinked as horror rapidly seeped through the crowded dance floor. Witches and wizards everywhere disapparated in fear, scrambling over one another like flight animals fleeing desperately from those in pursuit of them.
The protective spells around the Burrow had shattered. They were no longer safe.
She felt George’s hand slip out of hers and she was pushed roughly into Fred as groups of people pushed through the crowd, panicked and desperate for escape. Fred held her close to his chest with an iron grip, protecting her.
Ginny wriggled free of his grasp and darted through the crowd like a fox, Fred’s panicked shouts a fading echo in her ears. Dark figures with cloaks and masks were apparating everywhere, but Ginny had no time for them.
‘Petrificus Totalus!’ She pointed her wand at the closest Death Eater and watched him fall to the ground, immobilized.
Ginny kicked off her shoes and ran on through the crowd. He was going to leave. He was going to leave and she may never see him again.
Her hair was lashing around her face, unruly, red tendrils licking her face like eager flames.
“Ron! Ron!” Ginny heard Hermione’s voice, half sobbing, yell from her right. Harry stood beside her, gripping her arm, a set expression on his face. Of course, he was ‘Cousin Barney’ today, but he was still Harry underneath.
The shield spell enveloped Ginny, deflecting the curse aimed directly at Ginny's chest. Heart in her throat, Ginny turned to meet Ron's eyes. He wore a grim, yet determined, expression: time to go.
He touched her cheek briefly before dashing towards Hermione and gripping her arm. Ginny let out a strangled cry as she watched the three turn on the spot, and then they were gone, gone, gone…
She felt, more than heard, a presence behind her and whipped her wand arm around. ‘Stupefy!’ The blonde woman fell, stunned. Her mask lay discarded in the dirt. Ginny stared down at Narcissa Black’s crumpled figure with pity.
The battle raged around her, spells exploding in the air like morbid fireworks; Ginny saw the twins battling three Death Eaters, wands a blur. A fourth cloaked figure was skulking its way wordlessly toward George. He wasn’t going to see him. The death eater raised his wand, but he didn't see Ginny. The Conjunctivis Curse met its target like a hot knife through butter. The cloaked man staggered backwards, hands over his eyes, and tripped over a body, slamming his head on a rock on the ground. He lay unmoving.
[Dealthy Hallows, (136) | © J.K. Rowling]
"The others - everyone at the wedding-"
"We can't worry about that now," whispered Hermione. "It's you they're after, Harry, and we'll just put everyone in even more danger by going back."
"She's right," said Ron, who seemed to know that Harry was about to argue, even if he could not see his face. "Most of the Order was there, they'll look after everyone."
Harry nodded, then remembered that they could not see him, and said, "Yeah." But he thought of Ginny and fear bubbled like acid in his stomach...
Ginny felt her dress rip open, pain stretching hot and sudden across her back. She spun to meet the cackle from the shadows, red hair whipping her face. ‘Duro!’ she spat fiercely, and watched Rodolphus Lestrange turn to stone, surprise etched on his lined face. Ginny's back was warm with blood. The cut was deep, but she didn't care. She could feel a bruise forming on the side of her face where someone had elbowed her in the rush to leave the nightmare she found herself in.
A shot of bright green light grazed Ginny’s left ear and she gasped in spite of and turned to stun the offender, her vision spotted from the sharp burst of light. Bellatrix Lestrange blocked the stunning spell with a careless swish of her wand: aged black willow - hard and unyielding, like its owner.
“Silly girl, why haven’t you run?” she taunted, her wild black hair streaked with silver, sticking out in all directions. The manic witch wore deep, dark circles under her eyes like trophies, her skin sallow and paper-thin. She giggled girlishly as she sent another painful curse spiraling towards the redhead with a lazy flick of her wrist.
Ginny's shield charm just barely met the curse in time, and she leapt clumsily to the left to avoid the trailing purple flames thirsting to wrap themselves around her arm.
“I’m not a runner,” Ginny responded shakily, wand at the ready.
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes and raised her wand. “Stupid girl,” she crooned at the fiery redhead standing determinedly before her, “Or perhaps… you’re hoping to find someone you seem to have… misplaced?” Ginny's heart beat so loudly in her chest she was certain everyone could hear it over the raging battle. Bellatrix cackled gleefully into the night... it was one of the most chilling sounds Ginny had ever heard.
She had seen him get away. He got away.
The young witch felt as though a cold hand was clutching her insides, pulling both left and right at the same time as she thought of Harry. Where had he gone? Would he be back? Would she ever see him again?
“Do you not fear death, little girl?” Bellatrix whispered, narrowing her eyes.
Disdain dripped from Ginny’s face, her grip white-knuckled on her wand. Then, surprising herself, she chortled. Bellatrix's thin black eyebrows shot up as Ginny took a step toward her. When she spoke, her voice did not waver.
“I have fought alongside Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix more times than you’ve been honest in your life. I was possessed by Voldemort at the age of eleven, and managed to not only come out alive, but stronger, cleverer, and more determined to help defeat him than I’d ever thought possible."
Bellatrix shrieked, enraged at the casual mention of her master's name. She opened her mouth, but Ginny wasn't finished.
"I’ve seen the inside of the Department of Mysteries, ridden on the back of death, heard prophecies, fought battles... and won." She paused, the corners of her mouth twitching slightly upward. "I fell in love with The Boy Who Lived and studied Defence Against the Dark Arts under his instrution for years. I’ve broken bones, witnessed death, and heart-wrenching defeat... and I have not come this far to die at the hands of the likes of you.”
‘IMPERIO!’ Bellatrix screamed.
The curse hit Ginny square in the chest, her mouth slighltly open in surprise. Immediately, she felt as though a thousand hands were forcing her to her knees. She grunted, trying desperately to fight back, trying to resist... Ginny ground her teeth... she would not succumb to this witch’s control.
“Bow to the Dark Lord’s power, little girl! We’ll see how brave you really are!” Bellatrix cackled once more, the sound slicing through the cold, dead air at The Burrow, in chilling contrast to its usual warmth.
Ginny cried out angrily as one knee hit the ground, blinking back frustrated tears. The battle continued to rage around her, the screams and sounds of spells being cast around her now fading away, muffled, like she was slipping slowly under water.
She thought of her family, fighting around her. They would never submit themselves to Voldemort or his followers. They would fight to the end. George had lost an ear, and Mad-Eye had fallen to his death from a hundred feet, but they’d each fought bravely. Hedwig was dead too, she remembered, an angry sob escaping her lips. A careless death. A meaningless death. That was what the world was full of just now: meaningless death.
She thought of Ron and Hermione. Her brother and best friend who had left, she knew, to help save the wizarding world. She thought of the DA, and that fateful night in the bowels of the Ministry in her fourth year. She remembered Sirius falling through the veil, a tangled look of mild surprise frozen on his once handsome face, and Ron being nearly strangled to death. She thought back to last year, of Dumbledore’s betrayal and subsequent fall from the tower, and of Fenrir Greyback's claws tearing at the flesh on Bill's face. She thought of Remus Lupin, forced into a werewolf’s life of exile as a result of the same man. She thought of Neville Longbottom’s parents, tortured into insanity by the very Death Eater that was now trying to control Ginny.
But mostly, she thought of Harry. Of Harry and the Prophecy. He was the only one who could end it all. Harry had faced death and destruction, betrayal and pain more times than Ginny could count since arriving in the magical world, and had faced years of neglect and loneliness even before that... Yes, Ginny thought, Harry had gone through far more than anyone in the magical world could even begin to imagine.
Ginny loved him, as she always had, and always would. Harry had set off on his final journey to hunt and kill Voldemort, knowing full well he might never return. Tears cascaded down her face...
All these people, her friends, her family… all victims of Dark Magic. All brave, all strong…she would not let them down. Bellatrix’s unforgivable curse pressed down upon her, like the weight of a thousand deaths. Ginny’s fists shook, her jaw clenched. The pain that her loved ones had been through, and continued to go through on a daily basis, meaningless deaths and the steady taste of blood in the air...
That was unforgivable.
‘PROTEGO!’ Ginny screamed through the magic binding her.
Bellatrix let out a yelp, rubbing her wand hand as if she’d been stung, black eyes flashing in anger.
Ginny stole her chance. ’Expelliarmus!’ The dark witch’s wand flew out of her hand, the force of the spell causing her to stumble backward. ‘Stupefy!’ Ginny bellowed, and watched Bellatrix fall to the ground, fury etched in her once-pretty face.
The witch was scrambling to her feet already, spitting furiously, 'Do you think I need a wand to dispose of you, girl?'
But she was off balance and Ginny had renewed focus, despite her fatigued and injured body.
‘Incarcerous!’ Ginny screamed, and ropes bound their way around the Death Eater’s body. The witch lay screaming in fury, struggling against her bonds.
Ginny felt exhaustion threaten to take her, as she backed away from the writhing black figure on the ground, sinking into the shadows behind her. Her body began to shake with a combination of fatigue, terror, and grief. The redhead balled her hands into fists around both wands and closed her heavy-lidded eyes, attempting to take a steadying breath. Harry would be facing more than one simple unforgivable curse.
Suddenly, she received a hard blow to the back of the head. Knocked to the ground, both wands slipped from her grasp.
'ACCIO WAND!' she bellowed, desparate, and then her world went dark.
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