Progress Notes: I will be on vacation for 20 days starting tomorrow, and where I'm going, there is zero internet service. Please stick around! I've sent chapter 12 (the corrected and ready-to-go version) to my beta. She hasn't responded yet, but hopefully she'll post it soon.
Disclaimer: If you recognise it it's JKR's. Otherwise it's mine.
Harry Potter watched as the London metropolis melted into the luscious scenery of the countryside as the Hogwarts Express worked its way north at the beginning of his final year. His heart felt finally free. Finally lifted of the burden of the prophecy. Although the nightmares of the ‘Final Battle’ still haunted him throughout his dreams, Harry was glad that Tom Riddle was finally out of his life. Had it really only been a few months ago? It seemed like years, decades, since he and Dumbledore’s Army had stalked the Dark Lord to his hiding place and destroyed him.
Not all of him, Harry reminded himself. His Death Eaters were still at large and he had a feeling that they were out for revenge against him. Now, more than ever, Harry had to trust himself and protect those he loved and cared for. Harry turned his head slightly so he could see Ginny. Fiery temper, stubbornness, understanding, and trust all added up to Harry having the best girlfriend ever. They had even gone into conversations of how it would be like to grow old together and have their own families…..
Ginny raised an eyebrow as she noticed him staring. Harry smiled an apologetic smile and cast himself back in the conversation.
“So, Scrimgeour comes up to Dad and says ‘I’m resigning. And I’ve recommended you as the next Minister of Magic’. And Dad was so shocked, he didn’t even manage to thank him (not that he would, Scrimgeour’s such a git) and of course, Mum went ballistic and started crying….” Ron trailed off, looking expectantly around the group. Hermione, taking the hint, hugged Ron tightly and kissed him on the cheek.
“Well, we’re all proud, Ron, and imagine being able to say that you’re the Minister’s son!”
Ron stared dreamily out into space as he undoubtedly started concocting brilliant plans that he could put to use, thanks to his father’s position. His mouth hung open slightly as his daydreams became so severe; he barely recognized civilization around him.
Harry jarred him in the ribs, “Catching flies?”
Ron clamped his mouth shut and shoved Harry playfully, upending the tray of Chocolate Frogs.
Suddenly, the Hogwarts Express screeched to a halt, throwing its passengers around mercilessly. Puffs of smoke emitted from the tracks as the train swayed back and forth on the railway tracks. Owls fluttered in their cages and chattered in shock while Ron cursed loudly. The lights flickered, and then died. All movement of the train stopped.
“What the bloody hell just happened?” Ron demanded.
“Watch your language!” scolded Hermione.
Harry, however, put a hand up to signal for silence. Someone was coming on board.
Harry realized what this was as he heard soft screaming coming from the end of the train.
“Everyone get out,” he hissed, pushing the outside window open for the others to escape.
“Go, it’s Death Eaters!” he said urgently as they hesitated. “It’s me they want!” Ron shook his head and took a step back, placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder,
“We’re not leaving you, mate,” he said quietly. Harry shrugged off his hand and tugged on the handle so that the glass pane offered more room.
“C’mon,” he groaned. Luna was the first to take action. As graceful as someone can jump out of a window while running for their lives, Luna stepped onto the dew-wet grass like a cat. Harry squinted and could make out the forms of other Hogwarts students that were attempting the same thing. Dean and Seamus launched themselves next, sending worried glances over their shoulders. The only ones left were Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny.
Harry urged Ginny through the window. He heard the voices coming closer; his heart was pounding wildly in his chest. Ginny turned back to him and reached through the window and kissed him. Harry’s lips tingled with the emotion of that kiss. The fear, the courage, the fury, the desperateness, and the pain. The warmth of Ginny made his eyes sting painfully as he realized this might be the last time he’d ever see her.
The kiss lasted for a few minutes before a dark figure appeared outside the compartment door. They drew apart, taking in gasps of air.
“Get help,” Harry whispered.
“I will,” she whispered breathlessly. She touched his face gently, “I love you Harry.” She said firmly as she turned and ran.
“I’ll always love you, Ginny.” He called back through the dark evening. With his back still to the door, he heard it slide open. He heard Hermione gasp and he heard three unconscious bodies slip to the floor. He felt the breath of another behind him.