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SIYE Time:9:25 on 27th July 2021


Girl Talk
By sapphire200182

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Category: Post-OotP, Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3), Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Lily Potter
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 45
Summary: ** Winner of Best Adventure in the Girl Talk Challenge **


Three months into her fifth year at Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley starts having dreams with none other than Lily Potter, the mother of a certain green-eyed boy. Lily has plenty to offer in terms of extra lessons and advice, but as the Wizarding World falls under the lengthening shadow of the returned Lord Voldemort, perhaps the best help Lily can offer is friendship. Canon-compliant, written for SIYE Girl Talk Challenge 2010.
Hitcount: Story Total: 17660; Chapter Total: 3126





Author's Notes:
This is the final chapter, and what the previous four chapters have all been working up to. Many thanks to all my reviewers. Your support is greatly appreciated. Stay tuned; I have another fic in the works already! I used 1020 words from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.




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CHAPTER FIVE: BEGINNINGS





Looking back at the past weeks, Ginny could honestly tell herself that they were probably the best weeks of her sixteen years of life, bar none. For the first time in years, she found herself wanting for nothing at all in the world. Every night in the common room was a regular riot with Harry, Ron and Hermione as the four of them ostensibly revised their studies, but more often than not Ginny ended up curled in an armchair with Harry while watching Ron and Hermione do homework (or rather, watching Ron copy off Hermione’s homework), or read (that was Hermione), or eat (that was Ron), or bicker to pass the time (that was both of them). Often the four of them played Exploding Snap or watched Ron wipe the chessboard of Harry’s pieces.

Ginny very quickly learned that Harry was a whole different kettle of fish compared to her previous boyfriends. For one, she was his first real girlfriend, and the whole dating experience was still very new on him. Also, Ginny had had two boyfriends already, and Harry had none (Cho Chang didn’t count, not really, thought Ginny triumphantly) and so he was aware that he was very much lacking in experience of all things romantic. Consequently he was very unsure of himself around Ginny for the first few days; other than holding hands and stumbling around looking dazedly happy there wasn’t much else they did that deviated from the norm.

And somehow, Ginny liked it that way. After her whirlwind relationships with Michael Corner and Dean Thomas, Harry’s slower approach made a comfortable change from the usual. They did a lot of walking and talking, those first few days. Long walks out to the Great Lake, talking about… well, talking about everything they used to talk about when they were together. School. Friends. Themselves. One subject they steadfastly avoided was the war and Voldemort.

Something Ginny noticed was that Harry was exceedingly closemouthed. He seldom spoke about himself (or as Hermione liked to say, ‘opened up’) to Ginny and he never said anything to the others about himself and Ginny, very unlike many boys who were inclined, knowingly or unknowingly, to brag about their relationships. He was also almost afraid to show his feelings for her. Barring that one great kiss in front of fifty fellow Gryffindors at the start of the match, the word about Harry was ‘discretion’.

One evening as they re-entered the castle (hand in hand) after another long chat by the lake, Ginny remarked on this.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Harry, looking away. He made a face. “Won-Won and Lav-Lav made for some pretty embarrassing entertainment. I’m sure you wouldn’t like snogging in the common-room with everyone watching.”

“I’m very sure that’s not what I remember you saying after that match with Ravenclaw,” said Ginny with a grin.

Harry laughed. “Yeah, well, don’t count on that being an everyday occurrence.”

Ginny lifted an eyebrow. “Speaking of which… I don’t think you’ve given me a proper kiss since then, and it’s been a full week. What about it, Potter?” She gave him a meaningful look, then glanced almost nonchalantly at the deserted corridor they were in. It led to a few classrooms, there wouldn’t be anybody who would come here at this time of night.

Harry stared at her. Ginny was delighted to see that the bold proposition had certainly surprised him, maybe even shocked him. He ran a hand through his hair nervously. “What, now?” he croaked, glancing around them. “Not very, er, romantic, is it?”

Ginny pushed Harry against the wall. Taking one of his hands, she placed it on her shoulder, and put her own hand on his shoulder. She closed her eyes, feeling the delicious warmth of Harry’s hands on her. “Harry, tell me what it was like the first time we kissed.”

“Sunlit days,” said Harry almost reverently. “It was like, I dunno… walking in the bright morning sun over a field of flowers. I felt completely different inside. The first time I flew, it was like I left the old Harry Potter behind when I soared up into the sky. There were no Dursleys, no worries, no sadness, nothing to stop me from doing what I wanted. The first time I kissed you, it felt like that, only better.” He blinked and stared at her as if surprised by his own words. “I never wanted it to end.”

“It doesn’t have to,” said Ginny softly, opening her eyes. “Any time you want to leave yourself behind and go to place where there are ‘no Dursleys, no worries, no sadness, nothing to stop you from doing what you want’, I’m here.” She brought her lips softly to his. “You see?”

The kiss was soft, tender and chaste. When Ginny leaned back and opened her eyes, she saw that Harry’s eyes were moist. “I’ll always be here for you,” she said, and she meant it.

“And I’ll always come to you,” said Harry, his voice thick with emotion. And he too meant it. Every word.

* * *


“. .. so you see what this means?” Harry finished at a gallop. “Dumbledore won’t be here tonight, so Malfoy’s going to have another clear shot at whatever he’s up to. No, listen to me!” he hissed angrily, as both Ron and Hermione showed every sign of interrupting. “I know it was Malfoy celebrating in the Room of Requirement. Here…” He shoved the Marauder’s Map into Hermione’s hand. “You’ve got to watch him and you’ve got to watch Snape, too. Use anyone else who you can rustle up from the DA. Hermione, those contact Galleons will still work, right? Dumbledore says he’s put extra protection in the school, but if Snape’s involved, he’ll know what Dumbledore’s protection is, and how to avoid it - but he won’t be expecting you lot to be on the watch, will he?”

“Harry - ” began Hermione, her eyes huge with fear.

“I haven’t got time to argue,” said Harry curtly. “Take this as well - ” He thrust the socks into Ron’s hands.

“Thanks,” said Ron. “Er - why do I need socks?”

“You need what’s wrapped in them, it’s the Felix Felicis. Share it between yourselves and Ginny too. Say goodbye to her from me. I’d better go, Dumbledore’s waiting - ”


-Excerpt from Chapter 25, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

* * *


Her mione trotted into the Gryffindor fifth-year girls’ dormitory as calmly as she could. Ginny, who had been changing into her pyjamas, smiled and opened her mouth to greet her, but her grin faded at the look in Hermione’s eye. Instinctively she knew it was Harry, and an icy hand clutched at her gut.

“Ginny,” said Hermione, “We need you and Luna. Now.”

Ginny did not know how, but soon she found herself peering round the corner of the corridor that led to the Room of Requirement. She seemed to remember slipping back into her jeans and a shirt, throwing on a sweater on top, but it was all a blur to her. Hermione had made them take a sip each from the half-empty bottle of Felix Felicis; she did not even remember much of its taste and then Ginny had found herself here, with Neville and Ron hidden in an alcove on the other side of the corridor.

Ginny’s heart pounded in her chest. It was like the Department of Mysteries all over again; they were cut off from Harry, their leader and chief troublemaker gone who knows where with Dumbledore, except that according to Hermione he had left instructions that the Room of Requirement be watched and he had been willing to gamble his last swig of Felix Felicis on something bad happening at Hogwarts tonight, something to do with Malfoy and the Room of Requirement.

She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans and clutched her wand tighter.

“Hi,” said the voice in her head, loud and clear.

Ginny whirled and glanced up and down the corridor, but there was nobody there. At first she thought it might be Harry or Hermione in the Invisibility Cloak, but then she realised the voice was the same vaguely-familiar voice that had talked to her at that last match against Slytherin. It was a very familiar voice. It almost sounded like…

“Lily?” she whispered.

“Right you are,” said the voice gleefully. At Lily’s confirmation, Ginny felt a rush of warmth fill her chest. “Don’t speak out loud. Think. I can hear you.”

“Lily, how are you doing that?” thought Ginny as hard as she could. “Was that you at the Quidditch game? That’s amazing, you’re in my head and I’m not even sleeping or dreaming…”

“Yes, well, it takes a lot more effort on my part but it’s worth it to be here with you, Ginny,” said Lily. “Now focus.”

Ginny immediately sobered up. “What’s happening in the Room of Requirement?” she asked.

“I don’t know, I can’t see myself.”

“Brilliant,” groused Ginny. “Just brilliant… Where the hell is Harry?” she said fretfully. “Honestly, I’m going to hex him for this; not only has he gone off on his own yet again but he’s left the whole lot of us behind this time…”

“Ginny, look! The Room’s opening up!”

All notions of hexing Harry forgotten, Ginny peered round the corner again. She saw the door of the Room of Requirement forming, saw it inch open ever so slightly and a familiar pale face topped with blond hair glancing out. Draco Malfoy looked up straight at her and their eyes locked; Ginny saw his eyes widen and his hand came around; at first she thought he was going for his wand but it looked so withered and misshapen, something must have happened to it, surely…

Then she realised the hand that came out was not Malfoy’s and that it held a single lit candle. She also realised that Malfoy’s hand, his real one, was coming round in a sweeping arc, scattering a handful of fine powder into the air. Then the corridor was plunged into sudden darkness.

“Ron! Neville! It’s Malfoy!” shouted Ginny as loudly as she could. “Lumos!” she cried, but no light sprang from the tip of her wand. “Lumos! LUMOS!”

The corridor was a cacophony of shouting; Ron and Neville were both trying to get their wands to work and Malfoy was yelling something about holding on tight to whoever was with him, a large party by the sound of it. Footsteps came towards Ginny; one set hurried but measured, probably Malfoy leading the way with his path illuminated by the Hand of Glory, while a series of more uncertain feet followed after him. She darted away from the sound of the footsteps and cried “Lumos!” again.

“It’s not working, try something else!” shouted Lily in her ear. “Flames!”

“Incendio!” yelled Ginny, before she gave a scream; although no light appeared to pierce the darkness, she knew from the uncomfortable heat that flames had sprouted from her wand-tip, she just couldn’t see them.

“Damn it, my cloak’s on fire!” said a gruff voice nearby, rough and gravelly-sounding. Ginny heard the stamping of feet. “Sodding kids… Stupefy!”

Both Ginny and Lily yelled “Protego!”, simultaneously; while Lily’s shout echoed in Ginny’s head she felt the magical barrier emerge to shield her as she huddled into the corner of the corridor and tried to make herself as small as possible, not too difficult with her smaller frame. But then the caster must have missed, for no spell struck the shield. The footsteps faded away.

“Ron! Neville!” she yelled. “They’ve gone this way!” Ginny pulled herself to her feet and ran down the corridor, trying to remember how it looked like. All of a sudden, light returned to her surroundings, and Ginny stopped herself in time to avoid crashing into a tapestry. Glancing behind her but seeing nothing but darkness enveloping that section of corridor, she heard Ron and Neville running her way, Ron swearing badly. Then Ron emerged from the blackness, wand in one hand and Marauder’s Map crumpled in the other.

At that moment, a door leading to one of the side-corridors slammed open, and a familiar figure hurtled out; it was Nymphadora Tonks with her wand clutched in her hand and an expression of surprise on her face. “What’s happened?” she exclaimed, taking in their panicked looks and the wands in their hands.

“What are you doing…” began Ron, amazed at the sudden appearance of the Order member, but Ginny cut him off.

“Death Eaters! In the castle!” she said quickly. “Draco Malfoy’s leading them, they must have gone this way!” She pointed at the far end of the corridor; it rounded the corner and led, she knew, to another corridor and up to the Astronomy Tower. What Malfoy and his companions wanted to do up there, she had no idea, but Ginny had a sickening feeling it had something to do with Harry’s and Dumbledore’s absence from the school.

Tonks reacted immediately. “Expecto nuntium!” she said, waving her wand. A shining bright animal-guardian Ginny knew was a Patronus emerged from the wand… then another, and another, until four Patronuses were gathered around her. Ginny had time to think that they seemed to resemble big dogs, or wolves. “Tell Remus and the others: Draco Malfoy and Death Eaters, seventh floor corridor and moving elsewhere!” Tonks said quickly. “Hurry!”

As the Patronuses dove straight through the castle walls and vanished in puffs of silvery vapour, Tonks barely gave them a second glance as she dashed up the corridor. Ginny, Ron and Neville exchanged glances, then tore after her.

“What are you doing? You’re not coming with me!” yelled Tonks.

“Like hell you’re keeping us away from this fight,” snarled Ron. “You’re one Auror against how many of them, exactly?”

Tonks compressed her lips and said nothing. The four of them ran down the castle corridors, following the rapidly receding sound of footsteps. They soon lost track of where Malfoy had gone exactly, but Tonks was muttering spells Ginny had never heard before and seemed to know just where to go. They soon found themselves at the central courtyard of Hogwarts. Ginny, Ron and Neville stood in the middle of the courtyard for a moment, unsure of what to do while Tonks lifted her wand in the air and swept it in a wide arc, her face screwed up in concentration.

“Tonks! Tonks!” It was Remus Lupin, running up to them. “I think they’ve gone up the Astronomy Tower!”

Without a word, Ginny, Neville and Ron dashed towards the nearest entrance into the castle. Ginny was aware of Remus and Tonks running after them and yelling, but as she pounded up the marble staircase all she knew was that there were Death Eaters in the castle, they were here for a purpose and it most likely had something to do with Harry and Dumbledore’s mysterious trip tonight. That made it her business as far as she was concerned.

As the three of them approached the corridor leading to the Astronomy Tower, they caught up with a familiar, red-headed figure ahead of them. Ginny and Ron both recognised the ponytail and dragonhide jacket immediately; Bill Weasley gaped as he saw his younger brother and sister racing towards him with their wands in their hands.

“What are you…” he began, but Ginny, Ron and Neville whipped past him with barely a word of greeting or explanation. “Hey… no! Mother’s going to have a fit!”

“We’re helping Harry!” yelled Ron over his shoulder, but his words were deafened by an enormous bang. The portraits lining the corridor squawked in fear and alarm as a silver streak of light ricocheted and smashed into a statue, crumbling it to pieces.

At the far end of the dark corridor stood six masked, hooded and cloaked figures, Draco Malfoy uncharacteristically skulking behind them. At once Ron and Ginny yelled “Stupefy!” while Neville sent a Full Body-Bind down the hallway. The Death Eaters blocked the spells easily; one of them laughed, a mad cackle that echoed through the corridor as all six raised their wands and shot a barrage of curses at them, and it was Ginny, Ron and Neville’s turn to block or dodge them.

The battle was on.

As three of the Death Eaters lunged forwards, one of them hunched over and growling in anticipation, Ron and Neville spread out to cover the corridor, firing jinxes and blocking return curses with Shield Charms. The hunched one had picked Ginny out as a target, leaping after her more like an animal than a wizard while firing curses all the way; Ginny backtracked and blocked his spells with Shield Charms. She tried to get a Stunner in edgewise, or her Bat-Bogey Hex, but the curses came fast and Ginny couldn’t stop to plan and think, couldn’t figure out how to defeat the Death Eater using trickery, because that was all she had against the onslaught of curses coming at her…

“Use the spells I’ve taught you!” cried Lily in her head. “Hex him! Tie him up!”

“Incarcerous!” Ginny shouted.

Thick ropes burst out of the air and wrapped around the Death Eater; he swore, struggled and slashed at them with his wand. Ginny tried Stunning him again, but impeded as he was by the ropes the Death Eater still managed to deflect the spell. Ginny tried to throw him off-balance with a jinx Lily had said was popular back during her schooldays, shouting “Levicorpus!” at the struggling Death Eater. There was a bang and the Death Eater was lifted into the air, his mask falling off and revealing a scarred, hirsute face twisted in a snarl of fury.

“Good one Ginny,” said Lily quickly, “Now Stun… look out!”

Seeing their comrade in trouble, another Death Eater had entered the fray, and a yellow spell burst from the Death Eater’s outstretched wand and shot at her. Ginny gasped, dodged the curse (it smashed into the wall behind her) and turned her wand on this new threat. Even as she yelled “Impedimenta!” and watched as the Death Eater blocked the curse, Ginny was dimly aware of Bill, Lupin, Tonks and McGonagall joining the fight, prompting the other Death Eaters to engage them.

A stray curse came flying out of nowhere, and Ginny barely had time to gasp “Protego!” and block it. Part of the magical force of the spell diffused past her shield and Ginny felt herself shoved backwards and collided into Neville’s legs. Immediately his opponent sent two rapid curses into him, striking Neville in the midsection; the Gryffindor let out a cry of agony and went down.

Ginny twisted round on the floor and cast another Shield Charm as the Death Eater fighting Neville advanced on them, then shot a jinx at him for good measure. The Death Eater blocked the jinx and bellowed, “CONFRINGO!”

Lily’s mental cry of alarm was drowned out as Ginny summoned up the thickest walls she could think of, imbued with the most powerful magical protection, and swept her wand in a wide arc, roaring “Protego totalum!” even as she threw her body over Neville’s.

The Death Eater’s Blasting Curse smashed into her protective spell, washing over it like a wave of magical force; the magic battered and beat at the invisible barrier but faded away after a moment. Then Tonks was standing over the two of them, a tower of righteous fury, dueling with the Death Eater with a ferocity that had the Death Eater tripping backwards as deflected spells glanced off their shield and into the walls of the corridor around them, gouging holes into the walls.

Neville gave a cry of pain, and Ginny raised herself off him. “Neville, are you all right? What did he hit you with?” said Ginny quickly. Blood was welling up from under Neville’s robes and dribbling from his mouth, and he seemed close to fainting, too weak to say anything to her. Ginny didn’t know how she knew, but she knew that if he fainted he might not ever regain consciousness.

“Renervate!” said Ginny loudly, pointing her wand at Neville, who gave a shuddering gasp and opened his eyes, staring wildly at her. “Episkey!” muttered Ginny, concentrating as best as she could while the battle raged around them. “Oh damn it… Episkey!” The flow of blood seemed to slow and then stop, although Neville still clutched at his midsection.

“Ginny… my… my leg…” groaned Neville.

Ginny glanced at it and saw immediately that it was broken. She used another spell Lily had taught her, and said “Ferula,” conjuring a splint that appeared and glued itself to his leg before Ginny conjured up bandages that wound themselves tightly around the broken limb. Ginny checked her handiwork, then picked up Neville’s wand from the floor next to him and thrust it into Neville’s hand. “Thanks, Ginny,” moaned Neville, as she straightened and looked around.

A ringing cry cut through the din of battle: “Avada Kedavra!” roared one of the Death Eaters, a heavyset blonde-haired man, and the green jet of sparks streaked from his wand straight at Ron.

“RON!” screamed Ginny as her heart leapt into her mouth; but then the spell missed his head by inches and Ron ducked low to fire a hex that struck the blonde Death Eater’s leg. It seized up at once, the Leg-Locker Curse nearly tripping up the Death Eater, but then the Death Eater waved his wand to dispel the curse and sent another streak of green from his wand that impacted into a bit of tapestry that Lupin had ripped from the walls and enchanted with a protective spell; the tapestry burst into flames when the Killing Curse hit it and flaked into pieces of charred fabric.

There was another yell of “Avada Kedavra!” from a nearby Death Eater with a lumpy, squashy look about him, and Ginny flung herself aside as the Killing Curse missed her and smashed into the wall.

“Ginny, to your left!” said Lily faintly in her head, and Ginny quickly sent a Bat-Bogey Hex in that direction as from the corner of her eye she spotted the hunched Death Eater, freed of her ropes, coming at her with a triumphant grin on his snarling, twisted face. The spell missed, and she backed away but tripped over Neville’s prone body, sprawling onto the floor. He was almost upon her.

“Stupefy!” cried Ginny in desperation as the Death Eater leapt towards her, but the Death Eater flicked his wand mid-leap and deflected her spell; Ginny shrieked in terror and threw up her arms as the Death Eater opened his mouth to reveal sharp, pointed teeth.

“NO YOU DON’T!” came the deafening roar from behind; Ginny was almost bowled over as a red-haired figure tackled the Death Eater in mid-air; it was Bill, her eldest brother Bill, lunging into the Death Eater and wrapping his thick, muscular arms around the Death Eater. They hit the ground in a heap; then Bill was blasted backwards and slammed into the wall. In an instant the Death Eater was on top of him… and sank his teeth into Bill’s face.

Bill screamed; a hoarse, choking cry of terror and agony, the kind of scream that Ginny had never imagined anyone could make. “IMPEDIMENTA!” shouted Ginny in horror; the spell blasted the Death Eater off her brother and flung him away.

Suddenly, in a whirling of black robes, the Death Eaters disappeared into the doorway leading to the top of the Astronomy Tower, all of them save the thickset Death Eater who blocked their way and firing spells non-stop from his wand. One curse shot straight at Ginny; she ducked and dove towards Bill, casting another Protego totalum behind her to shield her as she worked.

Bill wasn’t moving, and for one heartstopping moment Ginny thought he was dead. Then she heard him draw in a ragged breath, and she realised he was unconscious. She could barely recognise her brother, Ginny realised. His face was slashed open deeply from forehead to chin, and a continuous flow of blood welled up from the ragged wounds.

“Episkey!” cried Ginny, but the wounds did not react. “Episkey! Episkey!” She was sobbing now, her tears dripping onto Bill’s robes as she cast all the Healing Charms Lily taught her that she could think of.

“Ginny! Ginny!” said Lily loudly in her head. “You can’t help him by yourself! Those are cursed wounds; nothing I’ve taught you can handle them!”

“What do I do?” cried Ginny out loud. She looked frantically around her; the Death Eater was still fighting Ron and Tonks together, holding them off and filling the corridor with dozens of flying curses. A black-cloaked body lay in a corner, a Death Eater who had been struck by a curse, thought Ginny. A limping Neville hurried across her line of sight, wand clutched determinedly in his right arm, making for the doorway up to the tower. He was followed closely behind by Lupin.

“No, Neville, don’t!” yelled Lupin as Neville limped into the doorway; immediately there was a flash of light and a bang, and Neville flew backwards with a cry. McGonagall rushed over to his side; Lupin cast a series of spells on the doorway and himself before trying to go through it himself, but then he too was thrown back, landing near Ginny.

Lupin struggled to his feet, but Ginny grabbed hold of his sleeve and tugged. “Help me with Bill!” she pleaded.

Lupin crouched down, took one look at the wounds and gave a low moan of anguish. “Greyback,” he said. “Greyback did this.”

Fenrir Greyback! The werewolf! Ginny felt a cold fury wash over her; she straightened and pointed her wand at the doorway. “REDUCTO!”

The Reductor Curse ricocheted off the invisible shield, bouncing away to bury itself in the walls and blow out a chunk of brick. Ginny ignored this; instead, she thought of the most powerful spell Lily had taught her and said “CONFRINGO!” The Blasting Curse shot out of her wand with a bang and the end of the corridor was filled with brick dust and shattered fragments of the wall, but the doorway and the bits of wall surrounding it remained intact.

“Ginny!” cried Lily. “Behind you!”

Ginny threw herself aside immediately at Lily’s warning shout. A stray curse from the duel between the blonde Death Eater, Ron and Tonks smashed into the wall; there was an explosion greater than Ginny’s spells had caused. Part of the ceiling collapsed; Ginny leapt to Bill and Lupin’s side and cast a protective spell over them. Bits of brick rained down on them, bouncing off the magical barrier.

There was a warning cry from McGonagall; the Death Eaters had returned from the Astronomy Tower and were passing through the doorway at a run. McGonagall and Lupin immediately intercepted the black figures; running up from behind, Ron sent a hex at another, who was blown off his feet but then sent back a Killing Curse from the floor that missed Ron by inches. Further back Tonks was still fighting the Death Eater; the spells from that duel were smashing into the walls around them…

Ginny quickly cast a Shield Charm on Bill, then turned to see the lumpy Death Eater raising his wand and pointing it at her, a crooked leer on his face. “Crucio!”

Ginny blocked the curse, fired back a Bat-Bogey Hex of her own. But then the Death Eater was sending another hex at her, and another, and she had to duck and dodge to avoid the streaks of light that seemed to crackle with malevolence as they passed mere inches to either side of her. Ginny blocked one curse, dodged two and sent back a Levicorpus jinx but the Death Eater blocked the spell easily and threw two more Cruciatus Curses at her, forcing her to dodge them again.

“I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna get you!” cackled the Death Eater in a high, reedy voice, “Crucio! Crucio! You can’t dance forever, pretty…”

“IMPEDIMENTA!” bellowed somebody from behind Ginny; the streak of sparks shot past Ginny to strike the Death Eater in the chest, throwing him several yards away.

Ginny’s heart leapt as she recognised the voice; she turned, and there he was. Harry stood there, tears in his eyes and his face twisted with fury and grief, his wand-hand shaking. Relief flooded her; it was alright, Harry was here and alive.

“Harry, where did you come from?” she said, but then he sprinted past her and after the fleeing Death Eaters.

Her first instinct was to run after him, but there was a low groan at her feet; Bill was moaning feebly and trying to get up. She dropped to his side and the corridor fell silent as the others ran after the Death Eaters, leaving Ginny in the ruined corridor with Neville and Bill.

“Pomfrey,” said Lily’s voice, “Go get Madam Pomfrey!”

Ginny ran for the Hospital Wing, Bill’s savaged face and Harry’s strange expression hounding her thoughts every step of the way. More bangs echoed from the other parts of the castle, and also a lot of yelling, but though every part of her wanted to be out there dueling the Death Eaters, Ginny forced herself to run away from the fighting and towards the Hospital Wing. She burst inside to find a panicking Madam Pomfrey, but right after calming the witch down and directing her to the Astronomy Tower Ginny sprinted off to the Entrance Hall.

Only then did Ginny know how much they had lost that day, and she knew things would never be the same again.

* * *


H arry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were spending all of their time together. The beautiful weather seemed to mock them; Harry could imagine how it would have been if Durnbledore had not died, and they had had this time together at the very end of the year, Ginny’s examinations finished, the pressure of homework lifted... and hour by hour, he put off saying the thing that he knew he must say, doing what he knew was right to do, because it was too hard to forgo his best source of comfort.



Harry looked at Ginny, Ron and Hermione: Ron's face was screwed up as though the sunlight was blinding him. Hermione’s face was glazed with tears, but Ginny was no longer crying. She met Harry’s gaze with the same hard, blazing look that he had seen when she had hugged him after winning the Quidditch Cup in his absence, and he knew that at that moment they understood each other perfectly, and that when he told her what he was going to do now, she would not say “Be careful”, or “Don't do it”, but accept his decision, because she would not have expected anything less of him. And so he steeled himself to say what he had known he must say ever since Dumbledore had died.

“Ginny, listen...” he said very quietly, as the buzz of conversation grew louder around them and people began to get to their feet. “I can’t be involved with you any more. We’ve got to stop seeing each other. We can’t be together.”

She said, with an oddly twisted smile, “It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it?”

“It’s been like... like something out of someone else’s life, these last few weeks with you,” said Harry. “But I can’t... we can’t... I’ve got things to do alone now.” She did not cry, she simply looked at him. “Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He’s already used you as bait once, and that was just because you’re my best friend’s sister. Think how much danger you’ll be in if we keep this up. He’ll know, he’ll find out. He’ll try and get to me through you.”

“What if I don’t care?” said Ginny fiercely.

“I care,” said Harry. “How do you think I’d feel if this was your funeral... and it was my fault...”

She looked away from him, over the lake. “I never really gave up on you,” she said. “Not really. I always hoped... Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more - myself.”

“Smart girl, that Hermione,” said Harry, trying to smile. “I just wish I’d asked you sooner. We could’ve had ages... months... years maybe...”

“But you’ve been too busy saving the wizarding world,” said Ginny, half-laughing. “Well... I can’t say I’m surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew you wouldn’t be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that’s why I like you so much.”


-Excerpt from Chapter 30, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price

* * *


It took all of Ginny’s strength to keep her composure steady as they exchanged bitter truths, and reached what Dumbledore - Albus Dumbledore, dead Albus Dumbledore - would have called a ‘parting of ways’. It took more than that besides to keep her shoulders squared and her back straight as she walked away from the last of the funereal proceedings, because she knew if she faltered… it would make the separation all the more painful than it already was for both Harry and her.

Ginny walked sadly back to the castle, her shoulders shaking slightly from the effort of holding in the sobs that threatened to tear out her chest. “I must be brave,” she whispered to herself. “I… must… be… strong.” But no matter how many times she said it, no matter how she looked at it, the looming spectre of being away from Harry at so dangerous a time, knowing that Harry was going to put himself in the front line again, threatened to wash over her and reduce her to a sodden, quivering mass of tears.

Eventually she reached her dorm - scattered all over with half-packed trunks - and collapsed into bed, willing herself to sleep.

Then she was there again at the side of the Great Lake, the skies black with storm clouds and thunder rolling in the distance, but this time no White Tomb marked the place where the late Albus Dumbledore now rested forever. Standing on the shores of the lake, underneath the beech tree, was another redheaded witch, this one older, wiser, and infinitely sadder as she turned, saw Ginny, and held out her arms.

Ginny almost collapsed into Lily Potter’s arms, she was almost out of the inner wellspring of strength and will that had somehow kept her going until now. For that moment, Lily was neither sister nor teacher, but a mother giving comfort to one who she by now accepted as a daughter. The familiar, maternal warmth was enough for Ginny to surrender, for the last of her reserve to crack, for her to finally let down her guard, succumbing at last to the seemingly bottomless grief that welled up from the inside. As painful, wracking sobs shook her body, Lily enfolded her in her arms and hugged her tightly, while Ginny sobbed into the front of her clothes.

“This lake,” said Lily softly, “has been a place of such great happiness and sadness.” She sounded very faraway, as if she was also remembering something very sad that had happened to her by the Great Lake. “I’m sorry that you two can’t be together now. But it was dangerous out there, and it’s going to be even more dangerous now.” She looked down at Ginny. “Harry did the right thing, Ginny. You did the right thing. I’m so proud of you both.”

“It doesn’t feel right,” moaned Ginny thickly into the front of Lily’s clothes, feeling as if her heart would break. “It doesn’t feel right at all.”

“Be strong, Ginny,” said Lily. “It’s all going to be all right at the end, but you must be strong. It’s going to take a lot of your will to keep on ticking through the dark days ahead. Ginny, no matter what happens, you have to keep going, alright? Harry needs something to come back to. When the whole world looks bleak and hopeless and even Harry can’t stand it, he’ll need a reminder of why he’s struggling to rid the world of Voldemort.” She stroked Ginny’s cheek. “You’re that reminder, Ginny. You’re what will make him keep fighting on. You’re what he thinks of when he casts a Patronus.”

Her voice sounded faraway and distant, and Ginny looked up in alarm. “You sound like you’re going away. Please don’t go,” she begged, gripping Lily’s arms and feeling the reassuring warmth of flesh, “I don’t know what I’ll do without you. You’ve helped me so much.”

“I’m in your dreams, Ginny, I won’t be going anywhere,” said Lily gently, “but there will come times when whatever I say, whatever I do, it won’t convince you to do something you need to do or not do something you shouldn’t. At that time, you will need to use your own judgment to choose the right thing to do and the will to do it, however much you don’t want to. That is something I cannot help you with.”

“What’s going to happen to us now?” said Ginny.

“Dumbledore is dead, Ginny,” said Lily sadly. “You are all targets now. If you think Voldemort won’t go after the weak ones, the students, the families first… think again. Voldemort will recruit amongst the students and teachers,” said Lily. “Now that Dumbledore is no longer in his way, Hogwarts is too good a prize to ignore. Hogwarts is not going to safe much longer, Ginny, and you will need to use everything that I have taught you to survive. Beware of new teachers and new students, and doubly so of old enemies. The Slytherins will heed his call.” She said, almost bitterly, “They always have.”

“I never thought,” said Ginny, “That Professor Snape… Professor Snape would… would…”

Lily sighed. “Severus Snape is a very difficult man to understand. I’m not sure even I know everything that that man thinks, and I know more than most. Don’t trust him entirely, Ginny, but then again, don’t think you’ve heard the most surprising things about Professor Snape.”

“I’ll never,” said Ginny fiercely, “never, ever, ever forgive him for killing Dumbledore. Not even if he turned around and killed Voldemort himself.”

Lily didn’t say anything, but stroked Ginny’s hair softly as they stood staring out over the Lake.

“Harry’s going off somewhere,” said Ginny dully. “He’s going to be ‘doing things now’. You were right.”

Lily reached out to hold Ginny to her tightly.

“And he told me… he told me we couldn’t be together either. He told me Voldemort would use me as bait again.”

“And?”

“And he’s right, as always. But it doesn’t make this feel any better. I thought…” she said, hiccoughing slightly, “That after this past year… that he might take me with him.”

“Ginny,” said Lily softly, “It’s exactly because of this past year that he won’t take you with him. He loves you, Ginny. What he said is true. It’s going to kill him if anything happened to you.”

“I love him too!” burst out Ginny fiercely. “Has he ever thought of that? It’s going to kill me if anything happened to him!”

“Nothing will, Ginny,” said Lily. “He’ll be fine.” But her words were empty words and both witches knew it.

“If… if Harry died, and I was there,” mumbled Ginny, “I don’t think I’d mind quite that badly. It’s terrible to think about, but I could still stand it if… if he d-died and I was there to be with him. But… not knowing isn’t the worst. The worst would be if he left and just didn’t come back and I never got the chance to really say goodbye…”

Ginny felt Lily’s arms encircle her, and reached out a hand blindly to pull them tighter around her. “I need you, Lily,” she whispered softly. “I need you to help me. It’s going to be difficult, I know. Stay with me.”

Lily hugged Ginny tightly. “Always.”

* * *


She was looking at him steadily; he however, found it difficult to look back at her; it was like gazing into a brilliant light.

“Nice view,” he said feebly, pointing toward with window. She ignored this. He could not blame her.

“I couldn’t think what to get you,” she said.

“You didn’t have to get me anything.” She disregarded this too.

“I didn’t know what would be useful. Nothing too big, because you wouldn’t be able to take it with you.”

He chanced a glance at her. She was not tearful; that was one of the many wonderful things about Ginny, she was rarely weepy. He had sometimes thought that having six brothers must have toughened her up. She took a step closer to him.

“So then I thought, I’d like you to have something to remember me by, you know, if you meet some veela when you’re off doing whatever you’re doing.”

“I think dating opportunities are going to be pretty thin on the ground, to be honest.”

“There’s the silver lining I’ve been looking for,” she whispered, and then she was kissing him as she had never kissed him before, and Harry was kissing her back, and it was blissful oblivion better than firewhisky; she was the only real thing in the world, Ginny, the feel of her, one hand at her back and one in her long, sweet-smelling hair…

The door banged open behind them and they jumped apart.

“Oh,” said Ron pointedly. “Sorry.”

“Ron!” Hermione was just behind him, slight out of breath. There was a strained silence, then Ginny had said in a flat little voice, “Well, happy birthday anyway, Harry.”


-Excerpt from Chapter 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

* * *


On e last kiss, one final opportunity for Ginny to tell Harry how much she loved him. She had poured out a part of her soul to Tom Riddle so many years ago, but she poured out all of it now to Harry Potter before he left to face his destiny. In this last kiss she put all of her emotions, all of her joy, all of her fears; she gave him everything she had and took all that he had to offer. They both knew, somehow, that this might just be the last time they shared so close a connection.

Lily appeared in Ginny’s dreams more seldom, now. Ginny had learned from her many spells, potions and charms, most of them useful spells that could help Ginny defend herself from the Death Eaters in different ways, but often now they just sat and talked for a while, or practised a few spells.

Lily met Ginny the night after the Death Eaters had stormed the wedding and the Burrow. The Death Eaters made no attempts to explain away who they were, why they were here and what exactly they were looking for. Ginny’s world was turned upside down as, under the supposed aegis of the Ministry, they searched the Burrow from top to bottom until they were begrudgingly convinced that Harry was not there. The Weasleys stood quietly by to keep up a pretense of innocence while the other members of the Order of the Phoenix had disappeared.

That night Ginny lay down in her bedroom amid all the mess the Death Eaters had made, and felt truly alone and abandoned. She cried herself to sleep, and within moments Lily was standing there in front of her. The sky above the Great Lake was overcast, reflecting Lily’s mood as the two witches stood silently by the side of the lake. Ginny clung tightly to Lily’s warm hand.

“There’s one last charm I need to teach you, Ginny,” said Lily, and her voice was solemn. Ginny felt a sense of foreboding as Lily handed Ginny a scrap of parchment with an incantation written on it. Ginny took it, unfolded the parchment and read the words written there. Then she flushed red, and her first instinct was to ask why Lily thought fit to teach her a charm that usually passed on by most mothers to their particularly wayward girls, but then she knew by now that Lily did not like her to ask why she was learning that lesson’s particular charm and preferred her to think it out for herself.

Ginny stood there for a moment, wondering what possible war application this kind of charm would do. Then a horrible thought hit her, and she knew why. She felt sick, and quickly folded the parchment and stuck it in her pocket, almost wiping her hands after she did. Ginny knew she couldn’t possibly forget the charm’s incantation now that it was indelibly seared by its dreadful implications into her mind’s eye.

“In war,” said Lily softly, “terrible things happen. One of the worst things happen to young, reasonably attractive witches who are captured alive by the enemy. This charm is designed to be done quickly, painlessly, and most importantly, wandlessly. It will ensure you do not have to live with the long-term ramifications of things that you were not… a willing party to. I hope that when the time comes, you will make sure that the girls you know are made aware of this charm and how to use it. It lasts for a few days.”

Ginny sat down on the grass. “Thanks,” she said quietly to Lily. “Did…” She blushed, and went on asking what she was sure was a very personal question, “Did you ever need to… you know… use the charm?”

“No,” said Lily, “But I knew a witch who did, and I’m glad they killed her afterwards, because I knew she would never have gotten over it.” Ginny’s insides churned. “I sincerely hope you will not ever face this kind of danger, ever.”

“Me too,” Ginny said quietly. “Me, too.”

Lily joined her on the grass, and they sat there in silence for a while.

“Nice going-away present you gave my son,” said Lily eventually.

Ginny managed a wan smile. “‘He’ll need a reminder of why he’s struggling to rid the world of Voldemort’,” she quoted, and Lily smiled, recognising her own words. “You’re right, as always. Harry’s got his road to walk, and I’ve got mine… and we’ll do it best away from each other, with something wonderful to look forward to together when all this is over.” She emphasised the word ‘together’.

Lily smiled. “If it means anything to you, you two have my permission and James’ too,” she said.

Ginny flushed. She hadn’t meant it quite that way… at least not yet… but she nodded. That was definitely a part of her future in time to come. She knew that now.

* * *

EPILOGUE





Hurrying through the Great Hall from Charms class, Luna by her side, Ginny stopped as she heard a high, frightened scream that seemed to come from the Great Hall. A number of students were starting to converge on the Hall, and Ginny grabbed Luna’s hand and joined the exodus. As they entered, Ginny glanced surreptitiously at the people around her. It was a very different Hogwarts from before. The Ravenclaws and Gryffindors were wary, guarded. The Hufflepuffs were glancing from face to face, fear written all over their own. The Slytherins, of course, swaggered along as if they were in charge. Things were going peachy for them.

As they entered the Hall and pushed their way to the front, Ginny saw that everyone had formed a big circle around the center of the Hall. Another scream rang out, accompanied by soft cries and shrieks from the other students. Ginny nudged aside a tall first-year blocking her way, then gasped in horror as what she was witnessing registered in her mind.

“This is wha’ happens to sneakin’, lyin’ blood traitors!” screamed Amycus Carrow in the middle of the Great Hall, levitating up a terrified looking third-year boy with his wand. He jerked the tip of his wand upwards, breaking the spell, and the boy tumbled painfully to the floor. “This is wha’ ‘appens to people wot tell great stinkin’ fibs!”

“You’re not a teacher!” shouted the boy defiantly, scrambling to his feet. “Defense against the Dark Arts, my bloody hat! You’re a bleedin’ Death Eater!”

In the silence that followed the ringing shout, the students around the Great Hall exchanged glances, as if they somehow instinctively knew that the boy had gone too far and that a vicious, cruel retribution was forthcoming. For once, they were correct. Slowly, deliberately, the lanky Death Eater pointed his wand at the boy, who went chalk white. “Crucio!”

The third-year raised his wand in a futile attempt to defend himself, but the curse struck him and blew him off his feet. Ginny watched sickly as Amycus Carrow advanced on the third-year, who scrabbled around on the floor for his wand. “Crucio!” yelled the Death Eater, and held the curse steady as once again the boy convulsed in pain.

Ginny glanced across the Hall to a crowd of seventh-year students who had appeared from the stairs leading down to the Potions dungeons. Neville was amongst them, the look on his face a mixture of horror, disgust and anger. Amycus was now yelling as he tortured the third-year, screaming that he was a blood traitor, a disgraceful excuse for a pureblood wizard. By now the third-year had given up trying to defend himself and was just holding his hands up ineffectually in front of his head, writhing and twisting in magically-inflicted agony as the Cruciatus turned every nerve into fiery streaks of pain.

Ginny’s first instinct was to throw up. Her second was to give cry to the scream of horror rising up in her throat. Her third was to draw her wand and hex the blazes out of Amycus Carrow, and devil take the consequences. But all she did was stand there, paralysed with a combination of fear, horror and revulsion at the sight taking place in this most hallowed of places, the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Desperately she stared around, wishing that McGonagall or Flitwick would appear from amongst the crowd of students and stop this madness. But there were no teachers in sight. However, as clearly as if she was speaking by her side, Ginny heard a familiar voice, soft and confident say, “Do it, Ginny. Trust your instincts.”

“I can’t,” she whispered. As she stood there she felt like she was back again in the Chamber of Secrets. She wanted very much to curl up in a ball and forget about what was happening. As the third-year screamed again, another shriek - younger, more feminine - echoed in Ginny’s mind, the terror-filled cry of a young ten-year old watching helplessly as, under another’s control, her own stiff, unresisting body moved jerkily down a hidden tunnel to the Chamber of Secrets.

“Don’t lose it now, Ginny. You’re not alone this time. I’m with you. Your friends are with you. Be brave, Ginny. This is what I’ve trained you for,” said Lily, her voice louder now, more insistent. “This is how you will use the skills I have equipped you with. You can fight the Death Eaters now. You can heal the wounds the Carrows inflict, both spell wounds and physical injuries. You can brew potions, antidotes, cures and healing draughts for the students, when they are prevented from seeking treatment. You can set up protective wards that the Carrows will not be able to break.”

Ginny shook her head, a wordless sob caught in her throat.

“The path to our destiny is never easy,” continued Lily. “Harry has his path to travel. He faces his unique trials and tribulation. This is the path to your destiny, Ginny, and you will face many obstacles along the way. Don’t be afraid, Ginny. Look up.”

Ginny obeyed, raising her head and glanced across the way. She scanned the crowd of students, her eyes falling at last on Neville. His gaze flicked down to Ginny’s wand arm, which she only now realised was inside her robe pocket and clutching her wand, and he swallowed and nodded as his own wand hand drifted to his side.

“You see,” said Lily’s voice inside her head. “You’re a leader, Ginny. You always have been. The others will look up to you for guidance and counsel. I know it’s a heavy burden to bear, but you must do this, Ginny.”

“I will,” said Ginny at last, stifling a dry sob. She could not cry now, she told herself, wiping at her eyes with the heel of her hand. “I’ll… I’ll be brave, Lily.”

“Good girl,” breathed Lily, and Ginny could hear the emotion in her voice. “I’m so proud of you, Ginny. So very proud of you.”

Ginny nodded to herself. “Luna,” she said quietly, glancing to her right. Her friend smiled as she took out her wand, an almost amused, reassuring smile that seemed very out of sorts with the time and place. But then that was classic Luna. Ginny also didn’t fail to notice as Luna tapped a gold Galleon coin once with the tip of her wand. Her own Galleon began to heat up, first a warm glow in her pocket, then a burning flame that was at once a warning signal and a rallying cry of defiance that spread a fire through Ginny’s heart and soul.

Ginny closed her eyes. Thanks, Mrs. Potter… Lily, breathed Ginny. I will be strong. Harry… this one’s for you, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. Come back to me soon.

“I’m so proud of you, Ginny,” said Lily again, her voice fading like an echo in her head. “So very, very, very proud…”

Letting her face break into a furious scowl, Ginny opened her eyes and drew her wand, taking a step forward to push past the front rank of students just as Luna and Neville did the same, the students around them gasping and pointing at them. “OI, AMYCUS!” she shouted, her voice loud and defiant as it rang throughout the hall. “EXPELLIARMUS!”




THE END
(OF THE BEGINNING)




“Dumbledore’s Army: Still Recruiting!”





Add itional Author's Note: When brainstorming for the Challenge I asked myself the question, “What transformed Ginny from being just a follower of Harry’s schemes to becoming one of the chief Hogwarts troublemakers and ringleaders of Dumbledore’s Army during the Carrows’ tenures at Hogwarts?” This fic is an attempt to answer that question (Ginny’s dreams with Lily having a major role in it), and having completed it and re-read it from front to back, I think it’s one of my better works. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I have had writing (and re-reading) it. Cheers!

A reviewer prompted me to explain a little further the reasoning behind this fic. The books are written from Harry's point of view, and both Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows portray Ginny as a bold personality who is popular, hexes well and is 'not very weepy', to paraphrase Harry. The idea behind this fic is that Ginny, while being full of potential indeed, is not actually quite as superlative as Harry thinks. That's where Lily comes in; to take all that potential and mould and shape her into that bold girl Harry sees who hexes well, is not very weepy (in public anyway) and who eventually becomes quite a charismatic leader of Dumbledore's Army herself, as seen in Deathly Hallows. A fitting partner for Harry indeed.

In short, within the time frame of this fic, between Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows, Ginny grew up, and it was Lily who helped her along.
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