|SIYE Time:10:48 on 25th May 2018|
The Legacy of Regulus Black
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Category: Pre-OotP, SIYE Challenges, Portkey Challenge (2018-1)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Humor, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: By accident, Harry and Ginny stumble upon a hidden Portkey while cleaning up No. 12 Grimmauld Place and are swept away. The incident leads to discoveries that will change their lives forever, and make Harry see his best friend's sister in a very different light. Post-GoF, told from Ginny’s perspective.
Hitcount: Story Total: 1369
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Special thanks to GHL and Epeefencer for their kind support.
Wednesday morning, August 11th, 1999
The first rays of sunlight blinked through the curtains of her room in the Burrow, as Ginny Weasley slowly woke up. She stretched contentedly in her warm bed and snuggled back into her pillow when she heard the noises of bustling activities from outside the house. Her heart suddenly pounded faster as she remembered what a day was today. It was her 18th birthday, and not only her birthday, but the day she would marry Harry. "Harry," she smiled.
Lying comfortably in the warmth of her bed, she couldn't help but remember the memorable day four years ago, the day that strange incident happened that had forged a strong bond between her and Harry and changed her life forever.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Sunday morning, August 6th, 1995
"Get up! Breakfast is ready!"
With a loud groan, Ginny pulled her blanket over her head. She didn't feel like leaving her cosy bed just to be forced to do slave labour for another day. And slave labour it was, clearing out the dusty rooms at Grimmauld Place, scrubbing them clean, breathing the dusk of decades. Every day. For two weeks, already. And no end was in sight.
"Come on, Ginny, get up, Hermione's already done in the loo." Her mother tried to encourage her.
With a wide yawn, she stretched and muttered softly, "I'm coming."
She slipped out of her bed, nodded to her roommate who was just pulling a T-shirt over her head, "Morning, Mione!", and shuffled to the loo.
Twenty minutes and a refreshing, hot shower later, a slightly better-tempered Ginny entered the kitchen, "Hi everyone, I wish you all a beautiful Sunday morning!" She grinned, headed to the kitchen table and sat down next to Hermione, who had already finished breakfast. Sitting opposite her was Harry Potter.
“Hi, Harry. Nice to see you here at the grim old place,” she gave him a shy smile but hesitated to ask him how his summer had been so far. As far as she knew, his relatives weren’t very nice to him, and she didn't want to spoil the good morning mood by asking him about the incident with the Dementors. She'd heard about it when she and the twins had eavesdropped on the Order meeting a couple of nights ago. Fortunately, Hermione still knew nothing about it. She’d probably have questioned Harry immediately. She doubted Harry knew anything about the Order of the Phoenix. Pondering the events from the last few days, she gave Harry a friendly smile.
Harry gave her a friendly nod and smile in return, bit into his toast and shovelled another fork of fried eggs into his mouth.
"Is Ron still asleep?" Ginny asked her mother. She wanted to avoid her brother for a while because they had an argument the night before. He had laughed at her when she'd announced that she wanted to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team next term.
"He should be here any moment," Molly assured her, placing a plate of fried eggs and bangers in front of her.
“Thanks, Mum,” Ginny smiled gratefully, dedicating herself to her breakfast.
“Today we’re going to clean up the two remaining rooms on the fourth floor,” her mother informed the teenagers present about their daily chores. Hearing the collective groaning, she continued "Even if it’s Sunday, we have to clean up here if we have to live here for a longer time."
She glanced at Harry. "Harry, I'm glad you arrived safely yesterday, you'll surely want to help the others. You better go with one of the girls, and Ron with the other, in case heavy items need to be lifted. Always stay together, you never know what strange things you may find, considering the history of the Blacks."
At that very moment, Sirius Black walked into the kitchen "Are you talking about me right now?" he asked grinning, "I hope it was something nice."
When no one answered, he grinned, "I can go back to my room if you want to keep talking about me."
"Nonsense, Mr Black, sit down and have your breakfast," Molly instructed him. "It's your house, after all, we don't want to drive you away.
Sirius sat down on the chair next to Harry, "Morning's kiddos."
"Morning, Sirius," Harry answered smiling.
The "Good Morning, Mr Black," from the girls he answered with a wide grin," It's Sirius, Mr Black was my father, and I'm pretty sure you're glad you've never met him.” He looked at Harry, “What's up today?”
"The rooms on the fourth floor," Harry answered, rolling his eyes.
"Oh, there's my brother's room, too, call me if you need my help."
"It's okay, I think we'll manage." Harry got up and turned to the girls, "Is it all right if we meet in 10 minutes on the fourth floor?"
Hermione nodded, and Ginny, just finishing her breakfast, called after Harry, "Wait, I'm done, I'll come with you."
The two of them climbed the stairs silently when Ginny grabbed Harry's arm, "Harry?"
"Yeah," Harry turned, giving her a questioning look.
"Do you mind cleaning up with me today? I had an argument with Ron last night, and I'm not in the mood to work together with him today."
“Must have been quite a fight. Is it the reason why I didn't see you around when I arrived last night?” Harry gave her an encouraging smile.
"You don’t want to know," Ginny rolled her eyes, "but if you must, it was about Quidditch."
"Then I'd like to hear about it, I'll see you on the fourth floor. I'll be there in a minute. I’ll just put on some old clothes," Harry said and disappeared into his room.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Ginny already waited on the fourth floor, eyeing the grouchy-looking portraits on the walls when she heard footsteps in the stairwell. Apparently, Harry had already told Ron that he wouldn't work with him today. Without further comment, Ron said, "See you later, mate," and followed Hermione to the opposite end of the hallway where the other room was waiting to be cleaned.
Harry walked up to her, "Hey, Ginny. You're already here. Apparently, you can't wait to scrub the room," he grinned at her and asked, "Which room is it?"
"This way," Ginny pointed to a door. She pressed the door handle, the hinges squeaking as she slowly pushed the door open. "That's as scary as the whole house," she murmured, cautiously entering the room. In the gloomy interior, she could make out the outline of a bed, a large desk blocking the way to a window covered with heavy, opaque curtains.
Harry followed her into the room, "We better open up the curtains."
He headed to the desk, cursing when his knee collided with a chair he hadn't seen in the dimness. Rubbing his knee, Harry climbed onto the chair and from there onto the desk. He tripped over some objects that sat on it, hidden in the darkness, "Bah, the whole house is disgusting. No wonder Sirius ran away from here."
Standing on his toes with arms stretched high, he grabbed the curtains with both hands and pulled hard. With a scratching sound, the curtains gave way, a gap opened and let some daylight into the room.
The two of them looked around the room. Over the bed hung a large Slytherin crest, quite a few photographs showing waving Hogwarts students were pinned over the headboard. The whole room was under a thick layer of dust. Next to the head of the bed was a large wardrobe, on the opposite wall a bookshelf filled with what looked like textbooks for the various Hogwarts years.
"Must have been the room of Sirius' brother. What was his name again? "Ginny asked.
"No idea, I think Sirius didn’t mention a name," Harry answered sullenly, still rubbing his knee. He opened the curtains wider and jumped off the desk, whirling up a cloud of dust.
"Yuck! Mum could at least have helped us remove the dust, it would be done in no time. We'll need all day," Ginny groaned.
"Yeah," Harry shook his head, "I wonder why I bothered to shower this morning."
Ginny chuckled, "Let's get started, so we'll get out of here as soon as possible. If you start with the wardrobe, I'll take care of the desk."
"Looks like Sirius' brother had a pretty strange taste in art." Ginny pointed to a skull sitting on the desk, with a split-tongue snake looking out of its open mouth.
"The favourite pet of all Slytherins." Harry grinned. "Life in the eternal dimness of the dormitories under the Black Lake eventually leaves its marks."
"Oh, shite, I don't believe it," Harry groaned when he opened the door of the wardrobe, "a whole wardrobe full of Slytherin robes, dirty socks and underpants. If I didn't know it better, I'd say it looks like Snape's wardrobe."
"Hmmm, Harry, you should have a look at that." mumbled Ginny, "Looks like a family journal, you know, a journal where families record their knowledge of spells and family magic."
Harry walked over to the desk and glanced at the apparently handwritten book. "Maybe we should show it to Sirius, wait a moment, I'll call him," Harry said and turned to the door.
"Oh, there's a letter in the book, it's addressed to Sirius," Ginny called after him. "Do you want to take it to Sirius right away?"
"Of course," Harry answered, reaching for the letter Ginny handed him.
Just in the moment, when Harry touched the letter, it began to glow in a strange light blue light. The two teenagers looked in shock into each other's eyes as they felt a strange sharp yank behind their navels and the room around them disappeared. It felt as if someone far away had summoned them, just like flying very fast, but without the wind that usually blew into their faces on a broom ride. A few seconds later, the strange sensation suddenly subsided, and the two of them fell somewhere on a wooden floor.
"Merlin's pants, what was that?" Ginny cursed. Her eyes bugged out when she realized she had wrapped both arms around Harry's neck during the sudden movement. Embarrassed, she released her arms from Harry and mumbled, her eyes still wide with shock, "Sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to..."
"It’s okay, Ginny," Harry stuttered, taking his right arm off her hip.
They slowly untangle their limbs, stood up and looked about in wonderment. The unexpected journey had taken them to a room that looked exactly like the room at Grimmauld Place, where they had been only a few seconds before. The desk, the bed with the Slytherin crest, the wardrobe, as well as the bookshelf. Everything was in the same place.
Ginny looked at Harry, gobsmacked, "Where are we?"
"Not at Grimmauld Place, anyway," Harry said in a surprisingly calm voice, pointing to the window. The curtains of the room were open, and at some distance the sea was visible.
"The letter was a portkey," Ginny stated the obvious, "Sirius' brother must have created it to bring Sirius here. But why?"
"Let's have a look about," Harry replied, gazing around. "The books in the bookshelf are certainly not textbooks from school. Looks more like dark magic. Who knows if it's safe to touch them."
"If anyone lived here, they shouldn't be too dangerous, should they? Who would want to hurt himself with dangerous books?" Ginny replied doubtfully. Pointing to the corner where the bed stood, she added. "A painting. Maybe it shows this place?"
Instead of a photo collection, like over the bed at Grimmauld Place, a painting hung above the head of the bed. In the foreground, it showed a cottage with a bench in front of it, and the sea under a blue sky in the background.
"Looks like an abandoned portrait, surely someone is usually sitting on the bench waving at whoever comes into the room." Harry said pensively, "maybe it's someone who can help us get out of here."
Ginny noticed a strange picture on the wall next to the bookshelf, "It looks like a copperplate engraving," she mused, "Oh, no. That's an island." she turned with horrified eyes to Harry, "Harry, I think we're on an island. How do we ever get away from here?"
"Someone lived here, so somebody must know the island. That is if we're really on an island," Harry tried to keep his voice calm.
"Let's look around a bit more, maybe we can find something useful," Ginny turned to the desk, "Look, Harry, there's an edition of the Daily Prophet." Ginny leaned over the paper, "Oh, it's an old edition, July 21, 1979."
"It's strange," Harry interjected, "the house can't be abandoned for such a long time. There isn't a single speck of dust anywhere."
"It can be a charm. There are charms that prevent a room from getting dusty."
"Obviously, those were unknown at Grimmauld Place," Harry said sceptically.
"Those charms fade away when a room is used often," Ginny explained patiently.
"Oh, right" Harry shrugged his shoulders and headed towards the door, "Let's go through the other rooms. Maybe we'll find a way to go back to Grimmauld Place, maybe there's a floo."
"I don’t think so, why would Sirius' brother, whatever his name was, have created a portkey if he could use the floo?" Ginny said, opening the door that led to a short dim-lit corridor with one door on each side.
Ginny headed to the door on the left side and opened it, "Look, Harry, there's a small kitchen with a stove in it." She entered the kitchen and took a look into the cupboard above the stove, "Preserves and tinned food. If we're lucky, they're still edible. There’s even a bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky,” she grinned mischievously.
"I didn't know wizards knew tinned food, I always thought that's a Muggle thing," Harry interjected.
"Oh, silly, you can fill food in a box or a tin, seal it with a lid, and put a preserving charm on it. Did you ever wonder how we always have fresh vegetables and fruits in the Burrow, even in winter?" Ginny grinned amused.
"Oh, good to know, smarty-pants. And how do we remove the charm without a wand? You remember that our wands are still at Grimmauld Place? "Harry grinned back.
"We just open the lid." Ginny giggled.
"Oh," Harry said confessing defeat. "Good for us. What's in the tins?”
“As it looks, just lamb stew, oh, here are also two tins of haggis, naps and tatties,” Ginny grimaced.
“Urg, you can eat the haggis all alone,” Harry lifted the upper lip, “I just hope we're back home before we need the tins. Let's see where the other doors lead to."
He left the kitchen and opened the door opposite, "it's the loo, but without a shower."
"I hope we're back home before we need a shower," Ginny replied with a sigh and opened the door at the end of the corridor. "Ah, here's fresh air, at least," she called over her shoulder, stepping outside.
"It's beautiful here," Ginny sighed, looking over the sea and the heath surrounding the cottage as Harry stepped next to her. "The sun is shining and a light, refreshing sea breeze is blowing. Here, surrounded by the sea, far and wide no one seems to live, neither Muggle nor wizard. Actually, it's much more pleasant here than at Grimmauld Place, isn’t it? Look, there’s land over there. If we find a broom we could try flying over there."
"Yeah. If we’re really on an island," Harry said pensively." But it's quite far away. If it's too windy over the sea, we could drift off. Since we don't know where we are, the mainland could be in any direction. If we’re flying in the wrong direction, we could drift off to the open sea."
"But for that, we need a broom first. So, let's keep looking." Ginny nudged him.
As they walked around the corner of the cottage, they realized that it was indeed the house from the painting. There was a bench in front of the house, and not far away sat a large hollowed-out rock in the form of a tub collecting the rainwater from the roof of the cottage.
"Ah, great, we have fresh water." Ginny said relieved, "If we find some tea in the kitchen, we'll have something to warm up tonight. After sunset, it will be quite cold here. We should also look for firewood."
"Apparently, you are preparing for a longer stay," Harry raised an eyebrow.
"It's always better to be prepared," Ginny retorted. "Besides, I'm sure lunchtime is already over. I’m starving. What about you, are you hungry?"
"Oh, there's no doubt, she's a Weasley," Harry teased, "two hours without food and they get grumpy."
"You better watch your tongue, Potter." she snapped, hand on her hips, "I don’t need a wand to kick your shin."
"I'd never doubt that, Ginny, I'd never doubt that," Harry grinned. "Let's go inside and find something to eat. I prefer you in a good mood. Otherwise, it will be a bit awkward for the both of us alone on this lonely island.”
Ginny grinned back, "Who'd have thunk it, you're a wise man, Potter," bumping him with her hip, she grabbed his hand and pulled him back into the house. "Just be glad, you didn't end up alone with Ron on the island. You would both starve to death because you would surely forget to eat at all, and Ron wouldn't know where to find something edible when there is nothing on the table.”
*** Ginny & Harry ***
"Oh, that wasn't that bad," Ginny grinned contentedly after sharing a tin of lamb stew with Harry. Even after such a long time, the stew was still surprisingly tasty. She washed the remains of the stew down with a sip of water Harry had fetched from the rock outside the cottage.
"May I hope for a good-natured Weasley for the next few hours?" Harry couldn’t resist teasing.
"That's what you can expect, Potter. But only if you're nice to me, "she grinned good-humouredly.
"Fine," Harry smiled contentedly, "then we'll keep looking about the cottage. Maybe we find something useful. I wonder if there's an attic in the hut."
Ginny frowned thoughtfully. "I haven't seen a staircase anywhere, and I can't remember seeing a ladder or a skylight outside. But it's better we check it again."
"We'll look about the main room first. Do you think it’s safe to touch the letter? Maybe there is something useful in there."
"Good idea. The letter should be somewhere in the main room. Probably, lying on the floor." Ginny turned, left the kitchen and headed towards to the main room.
"Ah, here it is. It slid under the desk." Ginny bent down to grab the letter.
"Stop, wait," Harry exclaimed agitatedly.
"What's the matter?" Ginny asked in surprise.
"If it's a two-way portkey, it'll take us back to Grimmauld Place. You don't want to leave me alone here. "Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Oh, you're right, Mr Smarty-Pants. Let’s touch the letter together. We can't leave our fraidy-cat alone here," grinned Ginny amusedly.
"Oh, I just don't want you to scrub Grimmauld place all by yourself." Harry pretended to be offended.
"Oh, Harry. I would surely miss your company." Ginny met Harry's eyes, causing the both of them to blush slightly. Startled by her sudden openness, she added with a shy smile, "Come on, let's touch the letter together."
"Just a minute." Harry stammered, picking up a ruler lying on the desk, fishing for the letter to shove it back to the middle of the room.
"OK. Let's touch it together." Expecting the strange feeling behind their navel, they both cautiously touched the letter and waited ... and waited ... nothing happened.
"Okay, that would have been too easy, right?" Ginny gave Harry a disappointed look.
"Yeah, then let's read that damned letter," Harry replied with a shrug. He pulled the letter from the envelope, unfolded it and smoothed it out on the desk. Turning to Ginny, he waved her over to let her read along.
I need to apologize for the involuntary kidnapping, but when you find this letter, I'm probably not alive anymore.
You are now in the cottage where I did my secret research. The cottage, in fact, the whole island, is an heirloom that Uncle Alphard left to me.
You were right, it wasn't a good idea to get involved with the Dark Lord. Lately, I have experienced very disturbing things. I always thought the Dark Lord was fighting for our ideas. However, when he recently required Kreacher to help him on one of his missions, it became clear to me that he is pursuing his own goals. In search of ways to become immortal, he made Horcruxes. If you don't know what a Horcrux is, feel free to check out the bookshelf in the cottage for books on the subject. It's the most disgusting kind of black magic I've ever heard of. I'm sure the Dark Lord made at least two Horcruxes. The one, a medallion once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, Kreacher had to hide for the Dark Lord in a cave by the sea. I’m going to attempt retrieving and destroying it this evening with the help of Kreacher. I'm not sure if I'll survive this venture if the Dark Lord ever finds out about it. I suspect the Dark Lord gave another Horcrux to Bellatrix Lestrange. A few weeks ago, after drinking too much at a victory party, she bragged how much the Dark Lord trusts her, that he has even entrusted her with one of his treasures for safekeeping. I don't think she really knows what she's hiding for him.
Anyway, I think these things are too important to be forgotten if I don't survive my mission tonight. I hope my knowledge is in good hands with you.
Take care of yourself!
"Oh, no," Ginny called out. When Harry looked at her, she was as white as chalk and started to shake.
"What's going on?" Harry asked worriedly.
"That's what Tom meant when he boasted he was immortal. I didn't believe him. He was always good at lying." Ginny shivered all over.
"Oh, Ginny, it's okay, it's okay," Harry hugged her and whispered in her ear, "it's okay, he's not here, you're safe."
A few minutes later, resting in Harry's arms, Ginny muttered, "It's okay, Harry. Thanks, it's better again."
"Really?" Harry held her at arm's length. She was still white as chalk but didn't shiver anymore.
"Yes, really," she nodded.
Harry gave her a doubtful look but continued thoughtfully, "The letter seems to be important. I think we should give it to Sirius. Apparently, Regulus is the name of his brother." Harry hesitated," Dumbledore should be informed about it as well, but that's Sirius' decision."
Harry looked around the room, "Let's keep searching. I'll try to find the books about Horcruxes Regulus mentioned,” Harry turned to the bookshelf," maybe you can check if you can find anything useful in the Family Journal, Ginny? "
"Yeah, sure, Harry," Ginny bent down to pick up the journal still lying on the floor next to the wastebasket ever since their arrival at the cottage. She hesitated briefly when she saw two crumpled parchments in the wastebasket and called, "There are some more letters, Harry."
Ginny fished the two parchments out of the wastebasket, placed them on the desk and smoothed them out so she could read them, "Harry, look, these are messages to Tom. Looks like Regulus wrote a note to him and wasn't satisfied with the result."
Harry strode to the desk and glanced over her shoulders at the parchments.
To the Dark Lord,
I know I will be dead long before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the Horcrux and intend to destroy it. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match you will be mortal once more.
To the Dark Lord,
I know I will be dead long before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match you will be mortal once more.
Regulus Arcturus Black
"Let's go outside," Harry shook himself, "I need fresh air, I can't stand it anymore. I need to think."
"Good idea. We can continue searching later." Ginny agreed relieved and followed Harry out of the room.
Outside the cottage, they both took a few deep breaths of fresh ocean air. "That's good," Ginny declared, slowly regaining colour. "Let's sit on the bench. It’s warm enough to sit in the sun."
The two of them took seats side by side on the bench in front of the cottage, looking at the distant line of the horizon. "It's nice here in the sun, but the wind is a bit uncomfortable," Ginny folded her arms in front of her.
Harry looked at her, grinning, "I'll go get us a blanket. I think I've seen one on the bed."
"That's not necessary, Harry. Thank you," Ginny interjected.
"I'm freezing a bit, too,” Harry answered.
Ginny was sure it was a lie but felt flattered by his attention. "Okay, whatever you want," she smiled.
When Harry came back with a blanket over his arm, the two cuddled together and wrapped the blanket around their shoulders and arms.
"That's nice," sighed Ginny, leaning her head against Harry's shoulder.
In easy, companionable silence, the two of them watched as the clouds passed by in the sky above the sea, each lost in their own thoughts. Ginny was relieved to feel so comfortable in Harry's company. Just a few month ago it would have been unthinkable for her. She didn't mind being alone with him for a few hours, in fact, she actually enjoyed it, but still, she couldn't help worrying how they would get back home. Just waiting surely was not the right solution, but what else could they do?
The sun was almost reaching the horizon when Ginny interrupted the silence, curious what Harry was pondering, "What are you thinking about, Harry?"
"Voldemort," Harry said emotionlessly. "Cedric, everything."
Visibly surprised by the answer, she asked softly, "Do you want to talk about it?"
When Harry didn't answer, she added, "Whenever you want to talk, I'll listen, Harry. Promise!"
"Yeah," he whispered, took a deep breath and gave Ginny a smile, "We should head back inside before its getting dark. Without our wands, we're going to sit in the dark tonight."
"Yeah, you’re right," Ginny agreed, "It's going to be creepy with all the books about dark magic in the room."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Back in the main room of the cottage, Ginny suggested, "Let's see if there are any candles or oil lamps anywhere before it's getting dark."
"Good idea, Ginny. I'll search the kitchen, while you look here. Okay?" Harry agreed and disappeared through the door.
Ginny carefully opened the two boxes sitting on the bookshelf. Unfortunately, they were only photographs in it. Pleased to see the daylight again, the people on the photographs waved maniacally. Ginny quickly closed the lid.
Disappointed, she turned to the desk. The upper left drawer contained only writing utensils, the lower one was filled with all sorts of parchments. A folded map peeking out from under the pile aroused Ginny's interest. She pulled it out of the pile and glanced at the cover sheet and read Na h-Eileanan Siar. Apparently, it was a map of an island in the west of the Scottish mainland. She placed the map on the desk, the search for a source of light had priority now.
Ginny found her luck in the upper-right drawer. Just when Harry came back from the kitchen calling, "Bad luck, I've found nothing," she noticed an oblong box. When she opened the lid, she exclaimed happily, "Ah, it’s a wand."
"Show me," Harry stepped behind her, delighted. "A wand would be quite useful."
"Hands off, Harry." Ginny gave him a challenging look. "Don't you dare to touch the wand. You've already got a summons for a hearing for performing underage magic. Don't you dare to wave with a wand here. It's my turn."
"But Ginny ..."
"Harry, forget it or I'll snap the wand." Ginny glared at him. "If you perform underage magic again, they'll surely expel you."
"…and the same will happen to you," Harry said reproachfully.
"It would be my first time. I take the risk." Ginny said firmly, "If we have bad luck, we'll both be home-schooled soon," she smiled defiantly and reached for the wand, shouting "Lumos!"
When the tip of the wand shone brightly, Ginny exclaimed, "Works great for me." She turned to Harry, "Go get some water from outside, I'll make us some tea and something to eat for dinner."
"Okay, okay. But promise to use the wand only if it's absolutely necessary." Harry persisted.
"Of course," Ginny gave him a defiant smile that reminded Harry too much of the twins.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
When Harry entered the kitchen carrying two bowls of water, Ginny had already lit the fire in the stove.
"If we don't find any firewood tomorrow, we'll have to eat the food cold." Ginny told him, "Or I have to warm it up with my wand."
"No way, Ginny," Harry replied, " I’ll go collecting firewood first thing in the morning.” He sat down on a chair at the small kitchen table, "Did you get your letter from the Ministry yet?" Harry asked worriedly.
"No. What does it look like? "Ginny raised an eyebrow.
"It's a red letter yelling at you that you've been expelled from Hogwarts."
"No. No letter yet. Maybe we're outside the area controlled by the Ministry, or the island is unplottable. If the island is unplottable, the Ministry can't tell if magic was performed here."
"That would be wonderful." Harry proclaimed, "I could use the wand as well."
"No chance," Ginny replied. "We don't take the risk of you being expelled from Hogwarts.”
"Oh, I'm so glad that you're not stubborn, Ginny," Harry stared at her annoyed.
"Indeed, you're a lucky young man. If you were here with Mum, she'd let you collect firewood now." Ginny beamed back, causing Harry to chuckle, shaking his head.
After a while, he said thoughtfully, "If the island is unplottable, no one can find us here, right?"
"The island belongs to the Black family." Ginny explained, "So, Sirius should be able to find the island. However, he probably doesn't know yet that it even exists. By the way, I've found a map of the area in the desk drawer. We should have a look at it later."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
After dinner, the two of them sat cross-legged on the bed, side by side. They had just had a closer look at the map. They'd indeed ended up at the Western Isles. They'd found a cross on the map in the far south of the island chain, with numbers next to it, probably the coordinates of the island. Now they knew where they were, that the mainland was east, but obviously out of reach. Disillusioned, they realized that they were indeed stuck at this place.
"What do we do now?" Harry asked thoughtfully, "There is no broom on this damned island, we can't Apparate either. Maybe there is a description how to make a portkey in one of the books."
"Good idea," Ginny agreed. "But that's a task for tomorrow morning."
"It's getting cold here," Harry observed, "we should go sleep. Did you have a look into the wardrobe? Maybe there are some warm clothes."
"Let's just have a look," Ginny said, crawling off the bed she opened the wardrobe door, "Yuck, everything in Slytherin colours," she complained, “It looks like Regulus took all the clothes that didn't fit in the wardrobe in his room to this island.”
"What did you expect," laughed Harry, "Harpies colours? They're green, too."
Ginny shot him a deadly glare, wondering how he knew her favourite Quidditch team.
"There’re quite a few winter robes. We could wear them if it’s getting really cold." Ginny announced, "And look here," she threw a stack of green T-shirts on the bed.
"Slytherin Quidditch shirts," Harry said surprised. Turning one of the shirts, he called with astonishment, "Oh, Sirius' brother was a seeker. There's the number seven at the back and the name Black."
"They are also well suited as nightgowns," Ginny said.
"Well, it will be a bit cold, with just such a shirt," Harry replied.
"Too cold, where do you want to sleep, Harry?" Ginny gave him an astonished look.
"Since there is only one bed, I'll make myself comfortable on the floor." When Ginny tried to raise an objection, he added, “I've had it worse at the Dursleys."
"That's out of the question, Harry. The bed is big enough for the both of us, and you’re not with the Dursleys." Ginny retorted, giving him a stubborn look.
"No, Ginny. That won't do. Even if you give me that look again."
"Harry, I grew up with six brothers. Don’t you think I’ve seen a boy in his underwear yet? When you sleep on the floor, I'll also sleep on the floor. It's as simple as that."
"Ginny, don't make it so hard for me."
"Why hard, I said it's simple." Ginny gave Harry her most charming smile.
"Okay, okay, Ginny. But I'm going to sleep against the wall, just in case you need to use the loo during the night."
"That's a deal," Ginny grinned, "I'm going to the loo now to change into one of the Quidditch shirts."
When she came back, she went to bed while Harry grabbed a shirt and made his way to the loo.
Ginny had turned the light off and was about to doze off when Harry came back from the loo. She was brought back to consciousness by a dull noise.
“Ouch,” Harry cried out, “my little toe.”
Ginny giggled, “Harry, you know, the little toe is supposed to find the furniture in the dark.”
“Just call me 'Little Toe' then. I always find the furniture in the dark," Harry wailed and hobbled whining back to the bed.
"Come on," said Ginny. "I'll have a look." She put the light on again and examined Harry's toe worriedly, "Well, it doesn't look too bad, it will be healed up before your wedding day."
Harry rolled his eyes, “Oh, how reassuring.”
Suddenly Ginny looked worried.
“What's the matter?” Harry asked nervously.
"I've just figured out that I'd be all alone here if you hadn't touched the damned letter at the very last moment. It would be damned scary here all alone, don't you think...”
"It could have been Ron, too, if you hadn't asked me if we wanted to work together," Harry interjected.
"Thank, Merlin. I'm glad I asked you to clean up with me. Ron would have complained all day that there's just lamb stew to eat,“ Ginny groaned.
"Come on, Ron isn’t that bad," Harry defended his friend.
Ginny grimaced. "No, probably not, but I'm mad at him right now," she admitted, "I'm glad you're here with me." Ginny blushed slightly when she realized what she'd just said, and added, “Let’s call it a day, come to bed Harry.”
"What was your argument with Ron about?" Harry asked with genuine interest.
"Oh, I told him I wanted to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team next term."
"Oh, that's great, what did Ron say?" Harry gave her a curious gaze.
"The git laughed at me and said that I should learn to fly first," Ginny huffed annoyed.
"Oh," Harry said astonished, "but we learn to fly in our first year."
"I learned to fly when I was six," Ginny stated, self-confidently.
Harry looked at her in surprise, "I suppose there is a story behind it?"
"I sneaked out of the house at night and nicked my brothers' brooms to fly." Ginny grinned proudly.
"I wonder why I'm not surprised now," Harry chuckled astonished, shaking his head. "Do I have to worry about my position now?"
"Ah, playing Seeker is boring, I'd like to play Chaser. Playing Chaser is much more exciting and fun," Ginny answered self-confidently.
"Good luck with the try-outs then," Harry replied, and Ginny couldn't help but hear the honesty in his answer.
“Thanks, but now come to bed, Harry,” Ginny barely suppressed a yawn.
Harry climbed over Ginny and the two of them cuddled under the warm blanket. He tried to stay as close as possible to the wall and as far away as possible from Ginny to give her enough room. Ginny grimaced annoyed but didn't comment on Harry's behaviour. Sighing, she turned her back to Harry, briefly remembering her bed at Grimmauld Place, where she'd woken up this morning. Listening to Harry's steady breathing, she slowly drifted off to a well-deserved sleep.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
In the wee hours of Monday, August 7th, 1995
"Tom, no!" Ginny shouted when she awoke, drenched in sweat and panting, Tom's laughter still echoing in her ears. Tom Riddle, a regular visitor in her dreams, enjoyed tormenting her with horrible images and spiteful accusations every few nights.
Harry, evidently awakened by her scream, leaned over to her, grabbing her arm.
Startled, Ginny gave him a confused look. "Harry, what are you doing here?"
"It's okay, Ginny, it's okay. You had a nightmare. Everything is okay. There is no Tom around here. You're safe here, alive and well.” Harry calmly tried to soothe her.
"Oh, Harry. How stupid of me," she murmured bashfully.
"No Ginny, you’re not stupid. I know nightmares, believe me. That's nothing nice," Harry assured her. "Come on, let's sit and wrap ourselves nicely in the warm blanket. In no time, you'll feel better."
They both leaned against the wall, staring silently at the window in the dim light of the room, Harry's arm wrapped around Ginny's shoulders, both wrapped in the warm blanket. In the silence of the room, the raindrops lashed against the window. At some point during the night, a storm had broken loose.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Harry asked softly. When Ginny didn't answer, he added, "Only if you want, of course."
Ginny pondered the situation for a moment. If she wanted Harry to talk to her about his problems, she'd better make the first move now, as hard as it was for her.
“I've never told anyone about Tom and the nightmares,” Ginny began slowly, “Of course, Mum and Dad knew that I had nightmares. In the summer after the chamber, it was really bad. When we were in Egypt, Bill often sat with me at night when the nightmares woke me up. But I never...," she stopped, "No, I simply couldn't..."
“Ginny, you don't need to…,” Harry started, but Ginny shook her head.
"It's always about Tom," she continued in a halting voice, "When I first came to Hogwarts, he was my first friend, at least that's what I thought. He was nice and flattered me. He had an answer to all of my questions. At the beginning, at least. Later he was evil and nasty. He asked me to do bad things for him. For a long time, I resisted, but one day I woke up and didn't know what happened the night before, and bad things happened at Hogwarts that night. Those memory lapses happened more often thereafter. Tom laughed at me, told me that because of the bad things I've done, things I don't even remember, no one could suffer me. You silly little girl, he said ..."
"Tom has no idea, Ginny. Silly, no! Stubborn, undoubtedly," Harry interjected to cheer her up. "Ouch!"
Ginny had elbowed him in the ribs, "You know, if you don't want to listen, I can stop talking." The slight twitching of her mouth betrayed that she wasn't as offended as she pretended.
"Of course I'll listen, Gin. Go on," he assured her.
"Okay,” Ginny said softly, and continued after a moment, “Later, Tom started showing me his memories, every night he made me dream how he tormented children who lived in the orphanage where he grew up. He made me dream how he forced Slytherin students to torment and betray their roommates. And, again and again, he made me dream how he used his prefect badge to...," she stopped and took a deep breath," to rape girls he caught alone in the Hogwarts hallways after curfew," Ginny sobbed.
"Ginny, you can stop if you want ..." Harry whispered.
"It's okay, Harry, we're not at the worst yet ..." Ginny whispered.
Harry pulled her protectively closer to him.
"Later, he made me dream how he raped me," Ginny continued.
"Ginny, he didn't ..."
"No Harry, just in my dreams, it wasn’t real. But it was bad enough in my dreams," again, she took a deep breath and continued, "In the end, when I woke up in the chamber, he laughed at me. You silly girl, he said, you've lured your hero into a trap. Harry Potter will come, but not to save you. He'll laugh at you and tell you that he doesn't care if I kill such a weak, worthless creature like you. He'll watch me killing you, and then he'll die himself, and you lured him into my trap. These are the worst dreams, Harry, when you come down into the chamber and laugh at me, or when Tom makes me watch how he kills you."
Ginny stopped talking, climbed onto his lap, threw her arms around Harry's neck and held him as tight as if her life depended on it.
"It's okay, Ginny, you’re alive, I’m alive, and Tom will never hurt you again. I'll take care of that," Harry promised.
When she’d slowly calmed down again, and her heart beat became even, Ginny reluctantly let go of Harry. She murmured, "Thanks for listening," and sat down next to him, resting her head on his shoulder.
In companionable silence, they sat on the bed in the dimly lit room, listening to the rain pattering against the windows of the cottage.
After a while, Ginny asked softly, "What are your nightmares about?"
It took a while for Harry to gather his thoughts. Finally, he cleared his throat and whispered in a croaking voice, "Voldemort, it's almost always about Voldemort."
After a minute of silence, he softly continued, "And Cedric, I often dream of Cedric. Ever since Voldemort returned, I often dream how Peter Pettigrew killed Cedric and I couldn't help him. The little monster Voldemort was before his resurrection said 'kill the spare' and Peter cast the killing curse. And all I did was watch Cedric die,” Harry shook his head slowly, “Sometimes I dream of my parents. You know, there, in the graveyard, I saw my parents. Not my real parents, of course, but they talked to me."
Harry told Ginny how he had grabbed the Triwizard Cup together with Cedric, how they were suddenly whisked away to a graveyard, how Cedric died. He told her of the ritual used to resurrect Voldemort, how Voldemort made him duel him and how his parents and all the others who had been killed by Voldemort had helped him escape.
“You know, Harry, it's good to have someone who understands,” Ginny said softly, “the nightmares and everything. It doesn't matter that I know him as Tom, and you know him as Voldemort, it's the same evil.”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed, “it helps to talk about it. Did you know that Malfoy did this to you, Ginny, that Malfoy planted the diary on you?"
"Yeah, I know."
“Malfoy was also in the graveyard. He came with the other Death Eaters after Voldemort had summoned them. He was even the first to arrive and bow to his master,” Harry told her.
"Do you know what I don't understand?" Harry whispered minutes later.
"Why always me? Why did he kill my parents? Why does he want to kill me? I didn't do anything to him. Not that I know of. There must be a reason, don't you think so?"
"Maybe Sirius knows, or Dumbledore," whispered Ginny.
"Yeah, maybe," Harry replied, "I just wish I could spend more time with Sirius," Harry mused, "I will talk to him, I'm sure he wants to help me."
"Sirius feels the same way, Harry," Ginny tried to encourage him.
"Did he say that?" Harry threw her a questioning look, "How do you know?"
Ginny smiled sadly at him, "We talked a lot since we arrived at Grimmauld Place. Whenever a nightmare woke me up at night, and I couldn't sleep anymore, I went to the kitchen. Sirius often sits in the kitchen at night, usually with a bottle of Firewhiskey, and we've talked a lot. Sirius has told me a lot about you and about the Marauders. I'm sure he loves you. He will definitely want to help you."
"You talked so much, and you still call him Mr Black?" Harry asked amazed.
"Oh, that's just for fun, so he can say that Mr Black was his father," Ginny giggled, "It's our usual morning fun."
Harry grinned, taken aback, "I didn't know you two knew each other so well. What did he tell you about me?"
"Oh," Ginny blushed slightly, surprised by his question, "Only general things." It was out of the question that she would tell him what advice Sirius had given her regarding Harry. "Did you know that Dumbledore called the Order of the Phoenix back to life?” she asked, relieved to have found a way out.
"Order of the Phoenix? I've never heard of it. Dumbledore didn't talk to me since the end of term," Harry threw her a questioning look.
"Dumbledore founded the Order in the first war against Tom," Ginny explained. "Now that Tom is back, Dumbledore had called on the former members to rejoin the Order again. They met at Grimmauld Place a few days ago and discussed your incident with the Dementors and some other things. But I don't know much more. I'd been eavesdropping with the twins until Mum discovered us and chased us away."
"You already know a lot more than me," Harry said, obviously annoyed.
After a long silence, just listening to the sounds of the rainy night and to Harry’s steady breathing, Ginny yawned and murmured in a sleepy voice, "Let's go to sleep. It's already early in the morning."
Wordlessly, Harry laid down. He didn't complain when Ginny snuggled up to him and mumbled "G'night Harry."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
A sudden movement disturbed Ginny's sleep. She opened her eyes just wide enough to find out where the strange movement was coming from. She wondered about the green shirt in her field of vision and the loud patter of rain. It took a moment for her memories to come back. She was not in her bed in the Burrow, she was ... oh, the realization hit her abruptly ... she was in bed with Harry Potter.
She couldn't believe it, just a few weeks ago she had decided to give up on Harry, and now he was lying in bed with her, completely innocent, of course. Her head rested half on his shoulder, his right arm rested loosely on her hip. She turned her head a bit to get a better look at Harry's face. Obviously, he was still sound asleep and had only moved, causing her to wake up. After all, she was used to waking up alone in a bed. The memories of the long conversations they had that night came back. It was a feeling of relief to finally have talked about all the things that had cost her so many hours of sleep. But here in Harry's arms, she felt ... good. After the nocturnal conversation, the nightmares had not returned. She really felt refreshed from the short but good nights’ sleep.
The increasing pressure on her bladder made her realize that the idyllic warmth in bed would soon be over. With regret, she slipped out of bed and made her way to the loo.
"What's going on?" Harry mumbled, torn from sleep by the movement.
"Go back to sleep. I'll be right back," Ginny replied smiling and tiptoed across the cold floor.
When she returned a couple of minutes later, Harry was sitting with his back resting against the wall and grumbled, "It's raining cats and dogs. We'll be stuck in here all day."
Ginny headed to the window and let her gaze roam over the rainy landscape. With a big grin, she turned around, "Harry, you promised to collect firewood today."
Harry shook his head dumbfounded, "and I thought Voldemort can't stand me."
Ginny giggled, "Fine, I'll use my wand to prepare breakfast."
"While you're at it, a warming charm on the room would be nice," Harry said resignedly.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
"Oi, Ginny. Stew for breakfast," Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Be grateful that you get something to eat at all, there's only stew in the cupboard," Ginny replied insulted.
"There must be a reason we haven't seen any sheep outside. They're all tinned and stored in the cupboard,“ when Ginny sniggered Harry asked cautiously, “How long will the supply last?”
"We have about 30 tins and four boxes of biscuits. If you're not too greedy, it'll be enough for two or three weeks," Ginny taunted him.
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean. I'm not a Weasley!" Harry gave Ginny a challenging gaze.
"Don't worry, we'll share everything," Ginny assured him with a conciliatory smile, “and if you're a good boy, you'll get biscuits for the 5 o'clock tea this afternoon.”
"What do we do when everything is used up?" Harry said worriedly, "We should search the coast. Maybe there's a boat hidden somewhere. But I'm afraid, after more than fifteen years, it'll be rotten."
"We can search the coast when the storm is over," Ginny agreed, "but for now we should search the books for information on Horcruxes."
"Oh, how exciting," Harry chipped in, "but you're right. It's important to know more about these things. If it gets too depressing, we can take a break."
Suddenly Harry became pensive, "You know, Gin, maybe we should send Sirius a Patronus. I can't produce a speaking Patronus, but at least they'd know that we're still alive."
Ginny beamed at him, grinning, "Oh, Potter, did you finally find a reason to use the wand," nodding her head, she added, "It’s a great idea, Harry."
"Okay, where did you hide the wand?" Harry looked around.
Ginny rolled her eyes, "It's on the table right in front of you."
"Ah, okay," Harry reached for the wand, moved to the centre of the room and closed his eyes. After a moment's concentration, he exclaimed, "Expecto Patronum!"
Harry's silver Patronus Stag jumped from the tip of the wand. It glanced about the kitchen and gave Harry an expectant glance.
"Go and find Sirius. Make sure he can see you, so he knows we're still alive." The stag nodded briefly, turned and disappeared through the wall.
When they had finished breakfast, the two of them searched the bookshelf in the main room for books with information about Horcruxes. Half a dozen of the books looked promising.
“That's weird,” Harry showed Ginny two of the books, "'The Secrets of Soul Magic', the author is Sirius Antares Black, and this one is from Phineas Nigellus Black. Obviously, Sirius' ancestors have extensively dealt with dark magic.”
Ginny took the books from him and thumbed through them with growing interest.
"Let's divide the books," said Harry, "each of us gets three books, and I'll take the Black Family Journal. Let's sit on the bed, okay? There's only one chair at the desk."
"Why not," Ginny replied, and climbed onto the bed, her books on the arm, and leaned cross-legged against the wall, immediately beginning to read.
Harry grabbed the Black Family Journal and followed her.
Huge parts of the books they’d found dealt with methods of prolonging life using dark rituals. The book Ginny started with, covered the uses of soul magic as a means of preventing death.
The morning disappeared quickly as they pored over the books. Ginny was captivated and disgusted by what she read, but what she learned certainly fit with what she knew of Tom.
Harry looked up and caught Ginny's eye. “Listen, Ginny. Death cannot claim a wizard or witch as long as his or her soul or part of it remains connected to this world. A Horcrux is a vessel in which a wizard or witch has hidden a fragment of his or her soul for the purpose of attaining immortality. Horcruxes can only be created after committing murder, the supreme act of evil.”
"That sounds very much like Tom," Ginny said. "If Regulus was right, Tom has created several Horcruxes. What do you think, how many murders has he committed to become immortal?" Ginny's gaze went to Harry, whispering softly, "Tom once boasted how he killed his father, a worthless Muggle, as he said."
"At that time, he was merely fifteen, maybe sixteen years old," Harry grimaced disgustedly.
" What do you think," Ginny continued, "could the diary have been a Horcrux as well? You know, he could have created that Horcrux when he killed his father."
"Oh, Ginny ..." Harry looked at her startled, "Yeah, you could be right."
"When Tom learns about the events around the Chamber of Secrets, he'll ask Malfoy, where his diary is, then he'll find out that I had had it." Ginny looked at Harry thoughtfully," Harry, you'll not be his only target. It seems we're in it together."
"You're amazingly calm knowing this, Gin," Harry looked at her in astonishment.
"Of course, I’m afraid. But Tom tortured me with his memories for almost a year. That was two years ago. In time, you either go insane, or you learn to live with it. It's not easy, but most of the time I can live with it pretty well now. At least during the daytime. During the daytime, I have no nightmares about how Tom kills you. "Ginny successfully tried to suppress her tears. After a sob, she gave Harry a small smile, "But I think that's something you know as well, Harry, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but often I 'm also brooding during the daytime, sometimes even half the night," Harry smiled at her.
"But only if you're left alone," Ginny returned his smile.
"Ginny, may I ask you something?" Harry asked suddenly.
"Yeah, sure!" Ginny replied, smiling at him.
"Is Michael Corner your boyfriend?"
The question caught Ginny by surprise. She looked at Harry, dumbfounded, "No, what makes you think so?"
"I saw you together quite often at the end of the term," Harry grinned crookedly.
"No, he’s not my boyfriend, but Michael is really nice. After we danced together all night at the Yule ball, we often talked and sometimes did homework together in the library. But he never asked me to be his girlfriend."
"... and if he’d ask you?" Harry blushed slightly and added quickly, "Sorry, that's none of my business."
"Honestly, Harry, I don't know. It's nice to have someone to talk to and have fun together, don't you think so? So, maybe I'd say yes. "Ginny said, still wondering about Harry's question. He wouldn’t, would he...
"...talk about nightmares and Tom?" Harry asked warily.
"Yeah, about everything. But I don't think I could talk to Michael about Tom and my nightmares." Turning to the window, she was looking into the rain, her heart pounding, "I don't think he would understand." Turning around, she looked at Harry, "and how about you and Cho?" If Harry was nosy, she could ask bluntly as well.
"Cho is Cedric's girlfriend," Harry stated, just to correct himself immediately, "that is, she was Cedric's girlfriend."
"But you like her?" Ginny asked, fearing the answer
"I ...," Harry looked thoughtfully at Ginny, "I don't know." Ginny's questioning gaze made him continued, "Maybe I'd like to ... I'm not sure ..." Harry blushed slightly, took a deep breath and continued softly, "you're right, it's nice to have someone to talk to."
"About Voldemort and nightmares?" Ginny inquired.
"Yes, about that too. But I don't think I could talk to Cho about such things, to be honest, I don't even know what I could talk to her about ... except about Quidditch, of course." Thoughtfully, he added, "I don't even think I could talk to Hermione about the nightmares, let alone Ron."
"Ron," Ginny snorted, "No, there are things you can only understand if you've experienced them yourself." Since Harry was visibly uncomfortable with this subject, Ginny decided to let it drop and smiled at him, "How about a cup of tea and some biscuits for lunch?" She got off the bed and headed for the kitchen.
"Oh, good idea," Harry replied, visibly relieved. He grabbed the Black Family Journal and followed her.
While Ginny put the kettle on and took a tin of biscuits from the cupboard, Harry thumbed through the journal. He raised an eyebrow when he saw a small piece of a quill stuck like a bookmark between two pages. He read the page with increasing interest, "Oh, Ginny. That’s interesting!"
"What did you find?" "She slid a cup of tea across the table," I'm sorry, we have neither sugar nor milk."
“It’s fine, thank you,” Harry smiled and started reading aloud, “When creating a Horcrux, a piece of the soul of a wizard or witch is split off and put into a vessel. As soon as this vessel contains this piece of his or her soul, it is called a Horcrux. Well, we already knew this, but now the interesting part, widely unknown is the fact that several soul fragments, belonging to the same wizard or witch, contained in separate vessels can be united again.
“To achieve this, one of the Horcruxes is needed, which must contain at least one of the soul fragments. To unite the soul fragments, the Horcrux needs to be touched with the tip of the wand while speaking the incantation "Miscere Animarum". It should be noted that the main part of the soul, which is still contained in the wizard or witch, is not affected by the incantation. The execution can only be successful if the performing wizard or witch is of above average magical power."
Harry looked at Ginny euphorically," That's great. If we have a Horcrux, we don't need to know how many Horcruxes there are and where they are hidden. Here it’s further said, the Horcrux summons all the other soul fragments that were split off from the main soul and unites them inside itself. The vessels containing the soul fragments remain unscathed by this incantation."
Harry looked at Ginny triumphantly,” There’s even a reference to the soul magic book we found on the bookshelf, the one from Sirius Black. Maybe we can even find more information in this book.
Ginny smiled, infected by Harry's euphoria, "I don't think Tom knew about this incantation. Maybe only the Black family knew about it."
"I hope somebody will find us soon. We need to show that to Sirius,” Harry pondered aloud, “Imagine if Sirius had inherited this journal, with the help of my Mum, Dad, and Remus, he might have found out about Voldemort's secret much earlier," Harry suddenly looked sad," Maybe they would even still be alive."
Ginny grabbed Harry's hand and squeezed it, "This time he won't get us, Harry."
"No, he won't," Harry looked at her determined.
Ginny looked through the small kitchen window. "Look, Harry, the rain has stopped, the sun is even shining."
"Do you mind a walk? After all the good news, we deserve a break, don't you think," Harry smiled at her.
"Yeah, let's just look for a pair of sweaters in the wardrobe, it’s a bit cold outside," Ginny nodded eagerly.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
A couple of hours later, the two of them returned from their long walk around the island. They'd rounded the island twice, and hadn’t found any sign of a boat or another watercraft. At the far end of the island, they’ve found a Muggle lighthouse, but not a single trace of Muggles' presence. The island seemed to be deserted. The Muggles probably hadn't found their way back to the island when the Blacks made it unplottable. But this didn't spoil their good mood. The walk had been quite the fun in the pleasant afternoon weather. After reading about the Horcruxes all morning the walk and the fresh air had been a pleasant distraction.
"Harry, can you please have a look if there're any towels in the wardrobe? I’d like to freshen up a bit after dinner. If you don't find any towels, a couple of old T-shirts would make it, too. I'll prepare dinner in the meantime. If you want to drink tea or water, it would be nice if you'd go fetch some water from outside."
"If we want to wash ourselves, it wouldn't be a bad idea to fetch some more to have fresh water for later, would it?" Harry interjected.
"Are you suggesting that I'm dirty?" Ginny grinned at him.
"I don't know about you, but I worked hard at Grimmauld Place, the dust still sticks to me," Harry laughed, taking some empty bowls out of the cupboard and headed outside to fetch the water.
When the two of them finished dinner, they took turns to wash off the dust of the last two days in the ice-cold water of the boulder in front of the cottage. They changed into Slytherin Quidditch shirts and sat side by side on the bed, their backs leaned against the wall, a blanket draped over their shoulders to warm up.
They rummaged through the two boxes of photographs Ginny had found on the bookshelf. In two pictures, they thought they'd recognized Sirius as a child, but since they didn't know anyone else in the other photographs, they quickly put them aside again.
"How long do you think it will take until someone finds us?" Ginny asked, putting the boxes back on the bookshelf.
"Soon, I hope. Today is Monday, right? Coming Saturday I have that damn hearing. I guess Fudge won't be happy if I don't show up."
"Yeah, next Friday is my birthday," Ginny grimaced, "I don't want to spend my birthday with lamb stew and a glass of water."
"It’s your birthday?" Harry was surprised, "I didn't know. Sorry, I haven't got a present for you."
"Harry, you don't have to give me anything," she looked at him cheekily, "It would be enough if you’d sing me a birthday song."
"How about a singing birthday card," Harry smirked back, "Ouch!" He rubbed his side, "What was that for?"
"Because you deserve it," Ginny looked at him challengingly, but suddenly couldn't stifle a yawn, "The fresh air is tiring," she smiled apologetically.
"Oi," Harry complained yawning, "your yawning is contagious!"
"Let's go to bed," Ginny said, "it’s been a long day." She slid off the wall and cuddled under the covers, holding up one side of the blanket, "Come on, I'm not biting."
Harry rolled his eyes, " I'm on my way,", put his glasses on the nightstand and laid down next to Ginny, grinning contentedly when she rested her head on his shoulder. His grin grew into a huge smile when she snuggled up to him.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Tuesday morning, August 8th, 1995
Ginny woke up, shaken by a fit of coughing. As the coughing slowly subsided, she rubbed her burning eyes and desperately gasped for air. She felt as if a fire was burning inside her, the sweat-soaked T-shirt she wore for the night clung to her body, the sweat running from her forehead burning in her eyes. She'd just taken a deep breath when the coughing fit returned with force.
"Ginny, what's up," Harry asked worriedly, half rising in bed and leaning over to her in the half-dimness. He softly touched her forehead, "You're feverish," he said, concern audible in his voice.
Reaching for the wand lying on the sideboard, he muttered, "Lumos!" clamped the wand into the top drawer to get a better look at Ginny.
Once the coughing fit eased, Ginny took several deep breathes, smiling faintly at Harry, "I'm sorry, I woke you up."
"Nonsense. You don't look good at all. I’ll go get you a glass of water," without waiting for an answer, Harry climbed over Ginny and hurried to the kitchen. A moment later, he came back with a cup of water, placed it on the nightstand and helped her sit up in bed shoving the pillow behind her back.
Handing her the cup of water, Harry managed a smile, "Take a few sips, Gin. But not too much at once."
He looked worriedly at her. "You've got a cold from bathing in the icy water."
"I don't know," whispered Ginny, "I feel miserable."
"I'll make you some hot tea, it's better for your throat than the cold water," Harry said softly, pulling the blanket around Ginny's shoulder, "It’ll take a moment, I’ll be right back."
"I'm not going anywhere, Harry, promise," Ginny tried a smile, but failed because another series of wracking coughs began to shake her whole body.
Harry hurried towards to door. The next time Ginny gasped for air, she heard the clapping of the door and Harry peeked into the room, "Hold on, Ginny. I'm going to put the kettle on. I’ll be right back for you."
A minute later, Harry hurried to the bed carrying a bowl of water, "The tea is ready soon. How are you?" He looked at her worriedly, "You need some cooling."
Harry searched the wardrobe for a pair of towels. When he returned to the bed he moistened a towel with the cold water and gently dabbed Ginny's forehead.
"That feels good," Ginny whispered in a croaking voice.
"We need to make you a calf packing," Harry explained, "it's supposed to bring the fever down."
Harry fetched some more towels from the wardrobe. He looked about thoughtfully, "Damn, we don't have a big bowl. I'll be right back. "Harry hurried out of the room only to return a few moments later with two wet towels.
"What are you doing?" Ginny asked curiously, as Harry pushed back the blanket from her legs.
"Calf packings," Harry explained patiently, "I hope you washed your feet yesterday," he added cheekily. He gently lifted Ginny's left leg and wrapped the wet towel around her calves.
"Aaahh, that's cold," yelled Ginny startled.
"It's supposed to be cold," Harry replied, grabbing a dry towel wrapping it around the wet one. After repeating the procedure with her right leg, he spread the covers over Ginny's legs and smiled at her, "Better?"
"A little," Ginny replied with a weak smile, "how do you know all that?"
"First-hand experience from the Hospital Wing," he grinned at Ginny, "When you live there long enough, just like me, you learn a lot." Sitting back on the bed next to Ginny, Harry continued dabbing her forehead with the wet towel.
"I think the tea is ready, I'll go and get it," Harry said a few minutes later, "you must drink a lot to make up for the fluid loss caused by the sweating." He headed to the kitchen and returned in no time with a pot of tea and a cup. "What do you think, do you want a shot of Ogden's in your tea, it will help soothing your throat?", and pulled a bottle out from under his arm.
"You're the Healer. If you administer Ogden's, I have to drink it, haven't I?" Ginny gave him a weak smile.
"Ah, good girl. That's the way I like you," Harry teased to cheer her up.
"Don't get used to it," Ginny replied playfully.
Harry poured a sip of whisky into her cup of tea and handed it to Ginny. "Is it okay? Or should I help you?" he asked worriedly.
"Harry, I'm not handicapped, I have a fever," Ginny rolled her eyes.
"Ah, obviously you’re feeling better already, the stubbornness is back." Harry smiled at her.
Ginny carefully sipped her tea, "Ah, that's good."
Ginny suddenly stiffened wide-eyed when another coughing fit approached her. Harry swiftly reached for the teacup and took it out of her hands, so she didn't spill it over herself.
Ginny quickly put her hand over her mouth gagging bits of slime that flew out of her mouth covering her hand. He waited patiently until the coughing subsided. When Ginny fell back against the pillow, her breathing weak and unsteady, Harry took her hand to clean it up with the wet towel, refilled the cup, poured a shot of whisky into her tea and handed it to Ginny. "Here you go, have another cup of tea to soothe your throat, then you better lie down again. We need to renew the calf packings."
Still struggling to breathe, Ginny nodded her understanding, "The tea tastes really good with a shot of whisky in it," she mumbled hoarsely.
"There must be a reason why Weasley and whisky sound alike," Harry grinned at her.
"Prat!" Ginny shook her head between two sips of her tea, too weak to start another banter, as much as she regretted it.
When she'd drunk her tea, Ginny handed Harry the empty cup and slid back into bed. Harry hurried outside to freshen up the wet towels in the boulder. As soon as he was back in the cottage, he renewed Ginny's calf packings and placed a wet towel on her forehead. Looking into her eyes, he gave her tender smile, "Everything will be okay."
Ginny returned Harry's smile with feverish eyes, "Poor lad, you've got to save my life again."
"Nonsense. I can't let my ally against the Dark Lord die in bed, can I? I just hope you don’t hide another basilisk under your bed."
"No, this time we’re alone, no basilisk, no Tom, just you and me," Ginny muttered sleepily. She closed her eyes and fell asleep in no time.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Ginny was awakened by a sudden movement. She felt weak, but not so feverish anymore. Opening her eyes, just to see Harry sitting on the bed next to her, she noticed a scratching noise at the window. She turned her head a bit more to look for the source of the disturbance and noticed that the sun had apparently risen already. Against the background of the blue skies, she saw a bright speck agitatedly bobbing up and down in front of the windowpane.
"Hedwig," Harry called suddenly. He jumped out of bed and opened the window a crack, "look, Ginny, Hedwig has come."
Hedwig slipped through the crack and flew straight on Harry's shoulder, reproachfully but tenderly pecking his head.
"Hedwig, girl, you've found us," Harry exclaimed happily, stroking his faithful friends’ feathers.
Hedwig hooted excitedly and held up her right leg telling Harry that she had a message for him. Harry untied the letter, "Hedwig, I'm sorry, I have nothing for you, just water and stew. Maybe you’d like a piece of lamb or a biscuit?"
Harry scurried quickly to the kitchen and returned a moment later, feeding Hedwig pieces of lamb from the remnants of the stew. When she was done, she grabbed the biscuit Harry held in his other hand, fluttered to the desk, let her reward drop and started pecking at it, spreading the crumbs all over the desk.
Harry, with both hands free now, opened the letter and read it aloud.
Where are you? We searched the whole house when you didn't show up for lunch. Harry, we hope your Patronus means you're both well. Please send us a message where you are so we can bring you back home.
Mum and Sirius
Ginny smiled weakly, "Do you think we'll be back home soon?"
Harry nodded, "Hedwig will show them the way. Wait, we've found the map of the island. Do you know where it is? "
Harry headed to the desk and rummaged through the books lying on the top of the desk. "Ah, Hedwig, what a mess, there are crumbs everywhere." Hedwig hooted apologetically and continued pecking avidly at the crumbs.
"Ah, here it is,” Harry pulled out the map from under one of the books, “I think we'll give Hedwig a letter with the coordinates. It'll be better to keep the map where it is."
Harry sat down at the desk, took a piece of parchment and a quill from the drawer, brushed the crumbles aside to make room for the letter and began to write. When he finished, he handed the parchment to Ginny, "What do you think? Is that okay?"
Ginny skimmed the letter.
Dear Sirius, Hello Mrs Weasley,
As far as we know we are on an island in the south of the Western Isles, in a cottage that once belonged to Regulus Black. When tidying up Regulus' room, we accidentally touched a letter Regulus left for Sirius. Unfortunately, the letter turned out to be a portkey.
We've found a map of the Western Islands with the handwritten coordinates 56° 48′ 0″ North, 7° 39′ 0″ West on it. Hopefully, that's enough for you to find us.
Please bring some medicine for Ginny, she’s in bed with a fever.
Harry and Ginny
“You shouldn’t mention the fever, Mum will only be worried,“ Ginny complained," but you better add the name of the island, Harry,” Ginny handed the letter back to Harry.
“There is no name mentioned on the map,” Harry replied, leaning over the map, “it’s one of the smaller islands. The island closest to our location, with a name specified on the map, is called Barra. It’s in the north. You're right, we should mention it in the letter, “Harry sat down at the desk and grabbed the quill again to add a note to the letter, “Sorry, Gin, but the fever remains in the letter, you need a potion as soon as possible.”
“Fine,” Ginny rolled her eyes.
When he’d finished the letter, Harry folded it and put it in an envelope he’d found in the drawer. "Hedwig, girl. Are you rested? When you're ready, I have a job for you. You need to take this letter to Sirius, or to Mrs Weasley." When Hedwig hooted approvingly, he tied the letter to Hedwig’s outstretched left leg.
Harry stroked his faithful companion's feathers one last time, "Good luck on the journey, and stay healthy," and opened the window.
Hedwig gave Ginny a reassuring look, turned to the window, hopped to the window frame and rose in the air.
Harry watched Hedwig until she was only a bright speck in the blue sky and then vanished in the distance.
"Now all we have to do is wait," Harry gave Ginny a relieved smile, "Let’s hope it won't take them too long to find us. I think we better renew your calf packings in the meanwhile." Harry grabbed three towels and headed outside to refresh them in the cold water.
Ginny thoughtfully watched Harry leaving to the room, puzzled but pleased that she'd gotten along so well with Harry over the past two days and that he'd even trusted her enough to talk about things he'd never talked before, not even to Ron and Hermione.
Ron and Hermione.
What would Harry do when he was back with his best friends? As a strange uneasy feeling let her heart pounding louder, she was relieved when Harry came back into the room.
Harry dabbed a damp cloth on her forehead, "Hold it while I change your calf packings," he smiled encouragingly, pushing the blankets back to expose her legs to remove the dry towels. "Don't get startled, it's getting cold again," Harry muttered a warning and carefully began wrapping the wet towels around her calves.
Ginny smiled thankfully. It felt good how Harry touched her legs, "Harry."
"Hmm," he grumbled and covered her legs again.
"Promise me that you will tell me when you learn more about the Horcruxes," she gave him a determinedly look, "Please."
Harry looked at her thoughtfully for a while. "You know it can be dangerous?" he asked, quite obviously worried.
"Harry, please, promise me," replied Ginny relentlessly, "don't forget, Tom tormented me for a whole year and made me do bad things. Don't you forget that I have unfinished business with him, too!"
Harry stared at the crumb-covered desk, slowly shaking his head, concern in his eyes. Obviously, he was fighting an inner struggle. When he hesitated to answer, Ginny added pleadingly, "Harry, Tom owes me, and I want to see with my own eyes that he's gone and will never taunt me again…that all the dark thoughts at night finally disappear ... and the nightmares.”
Harry slowly sat down on the bedside next to her. He grabbed her hand and squeezed it, "Okay, if you insist, I promise, Ginny," Harry looked into her eyes, "We're in it together, no secrets."
Ginny smiled happily, tears in her eyes. "Thank you, Harry, and thanks for taking good care of me. You’re spoiling me"
"You're welcome, Ginny," Harry returned her smile, "it was the least I could do. But don’t ever call me mum.” When Ginny chuckled, he stroked her cheek, “What about some biscuits and a cup of tea to shorten the waiting time. I don't think you want a lamb stew for breakfast."
"Good idea, Harry," Ginny replied weakly, closing her eyes and slowly drifting back to sleep again. She completely missed the admiring look Harry gave her, and how he smiled at her absorbed in his thoughts.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
A scratching sound made Ginny wake up. She slowly opened her eyes to find Harry looking at her, obviously lost in thoughts. He dabbed her feverishly hot forehead with a cool rag. "Hi, sleepyhead," he grinned when he noticed that she was awake, "You overslept most of the day."
"Oh, what time is it?" she asked in a frail voice.
"It's already late in the afternoon. How do you feel? "Harry dipped the wet rag into the bowl of cold water, wrung it out, and continued his ministrations.
"Weak," Ginny admitted, "and I need to go to the loo." When she noticed Harry looking at her hesitatingly, she added, "I can go alone."
With Harry's help, Ginny sat up in bed and let her legs slide on the floor. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she rested shortly, "Thanks, Harry," she gave him a sheepish smile, "but I must insist on walking to the loo by myself."
"Okay, okay, do you want something to eat afterwards? You didn't eat anything today."
Ginny slowly stood up, the almost dry towels still wrapped around her calves dropped on the floor. "Yeah, some tea and biscuits would be nice," she said, turned to the door and walked unsteadily to the loo.
When she toddled back to her bed, she said, "You poor blighter, did you really sit on my bed all day? You know, it wasn't necessary."
"I skimmed through some of the books while I sat on the bed," Harry replied defensively, just to continue in a determined voice, "Ginny, please go back to bed, we’ll need to renew your calf packings, and afterwards, you'll get some tea and biscuits."
"Tea with a shot?" Ginny gave him a challenging gaze.
Harry chuckled, "Weasley!" Shaking his head, he confirmed, "Okay, if you insist, you'll get tea with a shot."
When Harry had renewed the calf packings and brought some tea and biscuits from the kitchen, he helped Ginny sit up in the bed.
"Any news from Sirius or Mum yet?" she asked, leaning back against the pillow Harry had pushed behind her back.
"No, no news yet. Hedwig probably needs a few hours for the long journey." Harry poured a sip of whisky into the tea and handed the cup to Ginny.
"Thanks, Harry. But you should eat something, too. Who'll nurse me when you're starved to death? "
"Glad you reminded me, I'm starving. I'll go and warm up some stew. Do you want some, too? "
“No, thanks, tea and biscuits are just fine for me,” Ginny declined politely.
Harry took a deep breath, "A Weasley with no appetite, it's a sure sign you're still sick," he said worriedly. "I hope we'll be picked up soon. You need a potion for your fever." Placing a plate of biscuits on the nightstand, he proceeded, "I've brought you some biscuits. I'll be right back, I'm just going to get me something to eat."
A few minutes later, Harry returned from the kitchen with a bowl of stew in his hand. He sat down on the edge of the bed, spooning his stew and watching Ginny drinking her tea.
When Ginny had emptied her cup, Harry took it from her to set it on the nightstand. "I'd better collect the things we want to take with us," he said and headed to the desk, thoughtfully ruffling his hair, "The Black Family Journal, the letter to Sirius, the two books about Horcruxes, what else?"
"The map, so we can find our way back," Ginny suggested, stifling a yawn.
"Yeah, good idea," Harry agreed, gathering the items from the desk to pile them on a separate stack.
"The wand could be useful someday," Ginny said thoughtfully, "maybe it's even untraceable."
Harry raised an eyebrow and couldn't help but smile at Ginny's attempt of a mischievous grin, "You aren't planning any pranks with the wand, are you?"
"Who knows?" Ginny muttered, fighting a losing battle to keep her eyes open.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Ginny startled out of her sleep when Harry hasted to the window and exclaimed flabbergasted, "Hedwig, you're back? What happened?"
Harry opened the window to let Hedwig in. She landed on the desk, hooted, and held up her left leg. Amazed, Harry untied the attached letter, "Another letter? What's up, girl? Didn't they find us?"
Harry opened the envelope, pulled out the parchment, smoothed it out on the desk and read it aloud.
I am so sorry we couldn't pick you up yet. It seems the island is only accessible for members of the Black Family. The portkey you two found probably worked only because I made you, Harry, my heir a few weeks ago.
Since Dumbledore insists that I'm not allowed to leave Grimmauld Place, the letter contains a portkey that will bring you both back to Grimmauld Place. The portkey activates using the words 'back to Padfoot'.
The letter also contains some phials with a potion for Ginny's fever. She should definitely take it before you use the portkey.
Hope to see you soon,
Molly also sends her regards.
"Hmm," Harry murmured thoughtfully, "it's getting dark soon, we should wait until tomorrow morning to return to Grimmauld Place."
"Portkeys work in the dark too, Harry," Ginny tried to tease him.
"No doubt, but you have to take the potion first," Harry gave her a mischievous glance, "and as your healer, I hereby state that you are not allowed to use a portkey today."
"Harry, honestly..." Ginny tried to interrupt him.
"Yes, Ginny, honestly. I think we should wait until tomorrow morning. We would be better rested. The next days will be hard on us with news about the Horcruxes and everything. Tomorrow morning it will be quiet at Grimmauld Place. If we're lucky, only Sirius and your mum will be up. We could give Sirius the letter and the books without anybody knowing about it. If we’re going now and we’re unlucky, there will be an Order meeting tonight. Everyone will be there, and everyone is going to ask where we've been. Everyone will want to see the letter and the books. It's better if we give it to Sirius when nobody is around. Hence, it's better if we wait until tomorrow morning. And honestly, Ginny, it's better for you to recover before we cause this pandemonium."
Ginny smiled contentedly when she noticed that Harry had said 'us' and ‘we’.
Harry searched the envelope for the phials of potion. He turned the envelope and eyed the miniature phials and the small statuette of a black dog that had fallen out. “Ah, how witty is that, the portkey is a black dog,“ He took the statuette and showed it to Ginny.
"But first, it's time for your potion, Ginny," Harry announced, reaching for the wand. He tapped the phials with the tip of the wand to enlarge them, "Ah, here they are," he took one of the phials, headed to the bed and sat down next to Ginny, "Come on, down with it."
Ginny gulped the potion down in one go and grimaced, "The last one tasted better."
"It should heal, not taste good," Harry pointed out.
"Spoilsport," Ginny rolled her eyes.
"How about a last meal, the last stew in our life?" Harry gave her a questioning look.
"Something to eat would be nice," Ginny agreed, "but not too much for me, please."
After the two of them had spooned their bowls of lamb stew and Harry had thrown away the leftovers and cleansed the dirty dishes, the sun had already set and it was getting dark in the room.
"Do you want to go to the loo and change into a fresh shirt before I go changing?" Harry asked.
"Good idea, I'm surely stinking, I've been sweating all night," nodded Ginny.
She took a fresh shirt out of the wardrobe and headed to the loo. When she returned fifteen minutes later, Harry was ready to do the same.
Upon Harry's return, it was already dark in the room.
"Watch out, furniture. Harry's little toe is back searching for you." Ginny giggled, obviously in a good mood.
"Oh, you witch." Harry pretended to be offended.
"Honestly, Harry, just admit that you only want to stay one more night because you'd rather sleep with me in a bed than sharing a room with Ron," Ginny giggled.
Harry blushed slightly but managed to answer, "The patient is rebellious, a sure sign that the potion worked. Frankly, if you prefer Hermione to my company, we can go back right away."
Now it was Ginny's turn to blush, "When I think about it," she wavered shortly, but continued, "staying here with you and having a good night's rest sounds like a good idea." She lifted the covers and patted the mattress next to her. "Come to bed, the next days will be exhausting."
"Probably," Harry agreed amused, slipping under the covers.
Ginny snuggled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder, "I could get used to it."
"Me, too." Harry smiled contently.
Ginny listened to Harry's heartbeat and pondered the things she had learned in the last few days. It was a strange feeling that the disturbing knowledge about Tom and the Horcruxes didn't frighten her. The reassuring, steady heartbeat echoing in her ears gave her the feeling that together they could do it. They wouldn't let Tom win. The realisation made her smile happily.
“G’night, Ginny. Sleep well.”
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Wednesday morning, August 9th, 1995
An unfamiliar feeling of constriction let Ginny awake. She blinked into the first rays of sunlight that reached the bed. She tried to stretch out but realized it wasn't possible. An arm over her hip and the feeling of warmth hugging her from behind made her realize that she wasn't alone in bed. Harry, she recognised. Her slight blush turned into a satisfied smile. The feeling of constriction suddenly didn't feel that bad anymore. A movement behind her made her realize that Harry also awoke slowly.
"Good morning," a sleepy voice muttered into her ear.
"Good morning," Ginny answered softly, "Are you ready to face the music, or do you want to cuddle for another five minutes?" Ginny giggled nervously.
"Five minutes sounds good," Harry replied. His breath brushed against her ear, causing goose bumps.
"Fine, five more minutes," Ginny agreed.
In companionable silence, they gave each other the chance to wake up properly.
Sometime later, Ginny broke the silence, "I haven't slept so well for ages, without nightmares."
"Yes, the same with me," Harry answered astonished.
A little later, Ginny realized with regret that the time of cosy cuddling was over, "I'm sorry, Harry, I need to use the loo."
"Yeah, we better get up. How long do you need to get ready?" Harry asked curiously.
Ginny pondered the question for a moment, "Fifteen minutes."
"Fifteen minutes to get ready to go home?" Harry asked to be sure.
"Yep, assuming we'll having breakfast and showers at Grimmauld Place," Ginny added.
"Agreed," Harry nodded.
Fifteen minutes later, the two of them stood side by side at the desk, ready for their journey home.
"Ah, wait," said Harry suddenly, "there was an old leather bag in the wardrobe," he opened the wardrobe door and rummaged for the bag he’d seen the day before.
"Ah, here it is," Harry pulled out the bag under the pile of used laundry they had left there in the last few days.
He opened the bag and took a peek in it, only to find that it was almost empty. Almost empty except a few chocolate frogs, which were certainly not edible for years.
"Oh, don’t throw them away, maybe there're some trading cards in it that I'm still missing," Ginny interjected.
“I put the other things in the bag," Harry reached for the letter to Sirius, the Black Family Journal, the map of the Western Isles, the books about Horcruxes, and stuffed them into the leather bag.
Ginny grabbed the wand from the nightstand and put it in a separate side pocket, "Nobody needs to know about it," she said casually.
"Ready?" Harry asked, looking Ginny in the eyes.
"Ready!" Ginny confirmed.
Harry reached for the portkey and held it out to Ginny so she could touch it.
"Wait," Ginny shouted, looking into Harry's eyes. She walked up to him and hugged him tightly.
Harry, surprised by the sudden gesture, froze for a moment, but instantly relaxed and returned the hug.
"Who knows when I'll get the next chance to thank you privately, Harry," Ginny whispered.
"Thank for what?" Harry asked in surprise.
"For everything, for nurturing, for listening, for talking about things you don't like to talk about."
"Oh," said Harry softly, looking into her eyes, "you're welcome, you would have done the same for me, wouldn't you?"
Lost in Harry's emerald green eyes, Ginny whispered, "Always."
Reaching for the portkey, she murmured, "Back to Padfoot!"
*** The End ***
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