Disclaimer: Not mine. And I hope J.K. Rowling does not do something like this, because I would not be happy with her.
A blinding light. A deafening explosion. Bits of the North Tower raining down on her head. Dropping to the ground. A shout. More flashes. Pain in her side. Chaos.
Amidst the chaos, Ginny Weasley forces herself to think straight. A stone from the debris of the tower crushes her left arm. That is the pain. Death Eaters are surrounding them. That is the flashing. Harry is flying low on his broomstick, leading the charge on Voldemort. That is the shout. Pushing the stone off her side, Ginny staggers to her feet and strains to hear Harry’s words.
“Luna, Neville, Tonks, Hagrid stay on those men heading for the tree line. We need them contained. Fred, George, Kingsley, close off the exit by the lake. McGonagall and Flitwick maintain the defense on the castle. Everyone else, follow me. We’ve only got one shot at this!”
More flashes. Intense pain in her left arm. Stumbling over a body. Another explosion. Liquid running down her face. Someone beside her, holding her up.
“Ginny?” Ron’s anxious face swims in front of her eyes. “You- You’re bleeding! Stay here. Lupin and I will go with Harry. Wait until….just wait until it’s over.”
Her mind begins to clear from the fog she has fallen into. “No.” She pushes Ron off her and sets off purposefully after Harry. “I have to be there at the end.” Ron and Lupin follow her down the hill. She catches a glimpse of Bill and Hermione cutting across from the left to intercept them. And eerie calm descends as these six champions make a final stand against their dreaded enemy.
Voldemort stands surrounded by a ring of his most loyal followers. Ginny grips her wand tightly in her right hand as Bellatrix LeStrange screeches out the first spell. The calm is over and chaos ensues again.
A Killing Curse zinging over her head. Ducking left. Spitting out a stunner in retaliation. Twisting with the force of a Bludgeoning Curse to her left arm. Falling to her knees in pain. Flashes to the right. Hermione and Ron dueling with a hulking figure. A loud scream of pain. Lupin taking on Bellatrix. Voldemort laughing. A figure on the ground. Dark hair. Harry.
The chaos still enthralls them all, but Ginny’s purpose becomes centered. Ignoring her pain, she stands and lurches toward Harry. He cannot be dead. It cannot be over, she thinks frantically. Voldemort is near, holding Harry’s Firebolt in triumph. The scene becomes cloudy and surreal as tears fill her eyes; she madly dashes at Voldemort, screaming and crying. The Dark Lord turns to face her, cold hatred in his eyes. He raises his wand. She knows he means to kill her. In that instant, Harry moves. Leaping to his feet, he runs full bore at Voldemort, screaming an ancient spell, wand pointing straight at Voldemort’s heart.
There is an eruption of light from Harry’s wand, so brilliant that Ginny throws her arm up over her face to block it. The force of the spell knocks her to the ground and dazes her for a moment. When she is finally able to sit up, she looks to the spot where she last saw Harry and Voldemort. There is no sign of the Dark Lord; he has been completely obliterated by the force of the spell. Harry lies limply on the ground.
Time begins to pass strangely. Without realizing she has moved, Ginny cradles Harry’s head in her lap. His eyes are unable to focus on her; his mouth moves but no words come out. Tears stream down Ginny’s face. She knows what he needs to hear. “He’s gone,” she shouts, although her voice sounds far away. Harry gives a jerky nodding and a shuddering breath. She feels him relax in her arms. He is letting go. She holds him tighter and whispers fiercely, “Harry, don’t leave me.”
He tries to say something to her, tension returning to his body. Ginny leans down, their noses touching. His green eyes finally lock onto hers. They sit frozen, a lifetime of love and regrets passing between them. Then his eyes glaze over, his breathe shudders out one last time and his body goes completely limp in her arms.
“NO!” Ginny screamed. She sat up in a cold sweat, her breathing haggard and uneven. Untangling her legs from the sheets, Ginny swung her feet off the bed so she could hang her head between her knees. She breathed deeply and felt the throbbing beginning at her temples. She knew she would not be going back to sleep tonight.
Removing her dressing gown from the foot of her bed, she treaded quietly out to the kitchen. There was no need for quiet, there was no one else to wake up, but Ginny did not want to break the spell that the night cast on her. The night was solitude, and solitude was Ginny’s only comfort.
The kettle sat waiting for her, ready with water, tea next to it. She was accustomed to her new routine already. She put this out before bed each night, knowing she would eventually end up here, awake and haunted by now familiar demons. Her mind needed to expend no effort in lighting the stove and finding a cup. The silent routine of a lonely life. That was all she had now.
She rested against the countertop by the stove. It was pale yellow. A happy color. She had not noticed that when she had rented the flat. Would she have made a different decision if she had? Doubtful. The place did not matter. Nothing seemed to matter. Happiness, sadness, joy, sorrow. It was all the same.
No one understood what her life had become. It had been less than three months since the scene from her nightmare had occurred, and even Ginny could not recognize her old self in her new life. At first she tried being with her family. She moved into her old room and everyone struggled on as best they could. But the Burrow was stifling. Ron and Hermione found comfort in each other, but seeing them made Ginny ache. Her mother’s grief painfully reminded her of what had been lost. Even Fred and George were somber. Everything had changed, her most of all. When her Hogwarts letter came, two days after her seventeenth birthday, Ginny knew she could pretend no more. The mere thought of returning to that place made her gag with vomit. Instead, she had gone to Gringott’s, taken out part of her inheritance from Harry (which was considerable) and rented her own place until she could figure out how to move on.
But it felt like she was not allowed to move on. Several weeks had passed now, and Ginny felt no different. It was as if her life had already been laid out for her. She was moving inexorably toward something and there was no stopping destiny. Harry had certainly proved that. She felt like cursing him as memories washed over her.
“Bloody hell, Harry! What are you doing here?” Ginny demands as she sees him for the first time in months. Ron and Hermione are with him, standing in the seventh floor corridor as if they had never been away. Harry is grinning, but Ron and Hermione look hesitant.
Harry glances around, then grabs Ginny’s arm and pulls her toward a waiting door. The Room of Requirement. There are a few chairs set up around a small table laid with a light lunch. Ginny raises an eyebrow at Harry as Ron and Hermione file in behind them. “It’s a place to talk. We’ve got good news,” Harry tells her, motioning to one of the seats.
Ginny feels her heart flutter. Hope floods her soul. It is over. They are here to tell her the nightmare is over and life can truly begin. Numbly she sits, breathlessly awaiting Harry’s next words. They are not quite what she anticipated.
“Voldemort is mortal,” Harry says quietly, his eyes burning fiercely. “He can be stopped.”
“Mortal?” Ginny asks. She has no clue what Harry is talking about.
“Harry, you have to go back to the beginning. Ginny doesn’t know about the Horcruxes,” Hermione reminds him gently.
“Right,” Harry mumbles, bringing a hand to his forehead. “Okay.” He removes his hand and stares Ginny directly in the face. “You know that last year Dumbledore confided in me. He told me lots of things that I couldn’t tell you.” Ginny nods. She had been a bit annoyed when they had first started going out that Harry wanted to keep these things a secret from her, but she trusted Harry and had not pressed for information. “He taught me about Voldemort. About what kind of person he is. And I learned that Voldemort had found a way to keep himself attached to this world. In a sense, he had achieved immortality.”
“How?” Ginny asks.
Hermione picks up the narrative thread. “When a person murders someone, their soul is ripped apart by it. So after killing someone, Voldemort was able to trap parts of his broken soul into objects called Horcruxes. As long as at least one Horcrux survives, part of Voldemort’s soul is safe. Voldemort’s body could be completely obliterated and he wouldn’t die.”
“That’s what happened to him the first time,” Ron adds.
“But he’s mortal now,” Harry breaks in, softly, staring intensely at Ginny. “If I kill him now, that won’t happen because we’ve found them all. All the Horcruxes. They’re destroyed.”
Ginny nods slowly, comprehension flooding her. “That’s where you’ve been. What you’ve been searching for. But why are you here now?”
The three exchange an uncomfortable look. “Well, the last Horcrux was here, at Hogwarts,” Ron tells her, saying the words slowly and deliberately.
“But…” Ginny trails off, waiting for someone to finish the statement for her. “I can tell there’s something else. What is it?” Her eyes immediately go to Harry’s, but he looks away.
“We wanted to say good-bye to you,” Hermione tells her candidly, tears shining in her eyes. “Before we leave to face Voldemort. He may be mortal, but he’s still very dangerous. We might not survive.”
Ginny feels tears sting her own eyes. “You will survive,” she says thickly. “You’ve survived up until now. You’ll see it through to the end.”
“We will see it through,” says Harry firmly, reaching out and grasping her hand. Their eyes meet and Ginny sees the conviction in Harry’s eyes.
A snort from Ron breaks the moment. “Damn it, Harry, you can’t leave it like this.”
“Shut up, Ron,” Harry growls, turning to face his best friend.
“No. It’s not fair!” yells Ron. “You owe it to her to tell her the truth.” The two men glare angrily at each other for a moment. Then Ron rounds on Ginny, pain and anger evident in his eyes. “Harry won’t survive.”
Ginny gasps in sharply. “You can’t know that!” she shouts, furious with her brother for even suggesting it.
“I can. We all do. Hermione found some ancient bloody magic to defeat Voldemort. But the spell’s too powerful. Harry can’t control it. It’ll kill him. Rip apart his magical essence or something.”
Shaking her head, Ginny turns to the other two, hoping they will contradict this horrible truth. But Harry will not look at her again and Hermione’s eyes say it all. “Don’t use it,” Ginny pleads with him, her voice breaking over the words. “He’s mortal, Avada Kedavra will work. Use that.”
“No. I can’t cast that spell properly. It won’t kill him,” Harry says, staring down at his hands.
“Then let someone else cast it!” Ginny cries, feeling a single tear streak down her face. “Why does it have to be you?”
Suddenly he looks up, his eyes begging her to understand. “It’s always been me, Ginny. We all know it’s my destiny. And I know this is the way to defeat him. It utilizes the one power I have over Voldemort. I’m meant to use this spell. I know it. It’s what I have to do.”
The whistling of the tea kettle brought Ginny back to the present. Mechanically, she poured the boiling liquid into her cup. She tossed in a pinch of tea leaves, barely enough to change the color of the water. Weak tea. It was a reflection of her life.
She wished she had said something more to Harry at that fateful meeting. But she had left it at that, hoping the three would stay at Hogwarts for the night, hoping she would have time to convince Harry not to go through with this suicidal plan, hoping he would hold her and tell her he loved her too much to leave her. But they had no more time. As they walked out of the Room of Requirement that afternoon they received word that the castle was under attack by Voldemort himself. The final battle had come to them and Harry rushed to meet it head-on. There had been no time for good-byes until it was too late. She wished she could go back and tell him she loved him. It was her biggest regret. Other than having survived at all.
These thoughts floated idly through her mind as she padded from the kitchen to the living room. They were not new thoughts. Over the past months they had become her only companions. They bounced around her head at night, alighting on familiar places. They consumed her with their closeness. With attendants such as these trailing her, she did not notice the unwelcome stranger until he spoke.
“Perhaps you would have liked it better had I killed you that day, as was my intention,” a cold, raspy voice sneered from the corner of the room.
Ginny froze, the cup of hot tea slipping from her hand and crashing to the floor. The boiling water splashed on her dressing gown, burning her ankles and feet, but she did not notice. Her mind was fully occupied with the demon sitting grandly on her sofa. He had a flat gray face, snakelike in all respects, especially the glowing red slits for eyes. There was no mistaking him. It was Lord Voldemort.
As her brain started to slowly catch up with the scene unfolding before her, Ginny felt fear and adrenaline flooding her body. But she pushed the feeling down. No. It was not real. “You’re not here,” she said in a shaking voice, groping helplessly for her wand in the folds of her dressing gown. “You’re dead.”
“I see you were also deluded by what happened at Hogwarts,” he sneered, his face contorting savagely. “I was not killed that day. I have achieved immortality. It was foolish to think I could so easily be defeated.”
The adrenaline in her veins told Ginny to run, but if this was truly Voldemort then she was already dead. She remained rooted to the spot, hand tightening on her wand, trying to comprehend what he was saying. “But the Horcruxes-” Ginny began feebly.
“Harry naively believed I would not find out he had been destroying them. But such things are not below my notice,” he told her coldly. “Since you will be dead this night, I will allow you to know that I almost discovered it too late. I was only able to make one last Horcrux before my seeming death.” Voldemort stood up slowly, deliberately. He stepped forward, wand out. “I’ve come to collect it, and finish what I started with you long ago.”
Ginny stepped back into the doorjamb. “What makes you think I have your Horcrux?” she asked, panic rising in her voice.
“I knew my enemy’s mind better than he did. He willed you his life and his most prized possessions,” Voldemort replied disdainfully, stepping even closer to her. “You probably keep it close to you. In your bedroom perhaps.”
Another Horcrux, Ginny thought furiously, as Voldemort loomed over her maliciously. Something of Harry’s. Something important. Something Voldemort had access to.
Although her mind was reeling, Ginny suddenly saw one image clearly. Voldemort laughing, holding onto a personal trophy: Harry’s broom. He’d made it into a Horcrux during the confusion of that final offensive. The broom had been found after the battle was over and it, along with most of Harry’s possessions and money, had been willed to Ginny. It was in her apartment, but not the bedroom. She was surprised Voldemort had missed it. It was in the living room, resting in an umbrella stand by the door. She could just see it over Voldemort’s shoulder.
Without thinking she stuck her wand around Voldemort and yelled, “Incendio!” The umbrella stand, the Firebolt and the coat rack next to it all erupted into flames. Voldemort whipped around, but it was too late. A black shadowy shape had emerged from the conflagration and cracked apart into the night. That bit of Voldemort’s soul was destroyed. Ginny breathed lightly, “You’re mortal again.”
He slowly turned back to her, rage evident in his red eyes. “Foolish little girl,” he snapped. “You have not succeeded in making me mortal. I will kill you now, as I should have at first, and create a new Horcrux. Your actions are as useless as his were.”
She knew he was correct. She had not changed anything. Voldemort would murder her and she would be free. But she realized that the fact that she acted at all was what was important. It was something Harry had learned before he died; it gave him the strength to do what he did, no matter if he succeeded. And now her destiny had finally caught up to her. This was the moment she had been awaiting. For an instant, she was proud.
Voldemort stepped back, raising his wand, the incantation hissing on his lips. Ginny tried to stand tall, but faltered at the last second, throwing her arm over her head as the green light washed over her. Then there was nothing but darkness.
Kingsley Shacklebolt did not believe the report when MLE first brought it to him. They had been called to a small flat in Islington after some neighbors had reported smoke and strange light emanating from one of the units. But what they had found upon arriving at the scene had been entirely unexpected.
The Auror department was immediately contacted, as was protocol when any Dark Magic was uncovered. Kingsley specifically had been singled out when the identity of the young woman had been disclosed – he had known Arthur during the war and it was decided he should handle the case. Kingsley was not exactly happy about the decision. The family had been through a lot lately; he did not want to bring more bad news to them. He wished they could have sent Tonks, but she was still out from injuries incurred during the last battle.
The flat was crawling with MLE agents when Kingsley arrived. Some of the activity was centered on the fire damage near the door, but most circulated around the covered body lying in the center of the room.
“Auror Shacklebolt?” asked a gruff looking man with a thick mustache and dark hair. He approached Kingsley with an outstretched hand.
Kingsley shook it quickly. “You must be Agent Jenkins. First on the scene?”
Jenkins let out a low whistle. “Called in on a routine check and what do I find?” He gestured wordlessly around.
“Has anything been moved?”
“There was a broken cup on the ground that we repaired. But we didn’t touch the body. Thought you might want to have a look before we took it out.”
“Yes, thank you,” Kingsley said, bracing himself for the coming shock. Jenkins nodded to a wizard standing near the body. The cover was lifted and Kingsley got a good look at the visage underneath. It was just as he remembered it, gray and flat. But the eyes were strangely dim now that the light had gone out of them. And the expression was odd as well. It looked like surprise. “So he wasn’t dead before?” Kingsley heard himself whisper.
“Seems like not. I suppose if you come back once, you can always come back again,” Jenkins grunted. “Say, weren’t you there at the assault on Hogwarts? Didn’t you see what happened to him?”
“No, I was chasing down some Death Eaters. The only person who saw the spell was…oddly enough, Ginny Weasley.”
Jenkins snorted. “She’s our only witness this time as well. I suppose you’ll want to interrogate her now? We waited for you to begin questioning.”
For the girl’s sake, Kingsley wanted to put it off. But they could not show up at the Ministry with this and not have some explanation. “Where is she?”
“Kitchen. Follow me.” Jenkins marched around the body to a hallway which led to a small but pleasant kitchen. A few agents stood around the room, but at the table was a lone figure staring into a cup of strong dark tea.
“Can we have some privacy?” Kingsley muttered. Jenkins nodded then signaled the others out of the room. Once they had gone, Kingsley stepped to the table and pulled out the seat next to Ginny. She looked up at him, tears shining in her round brown eyes. He gave her a kindly look, but it soon turned to a frown. “You know I have to ask you about what happened.”
“I know,” Ginny said her voice small. “But I don’t know much.”
“Start with You-Know-Who. How’d he get here?”
“To my flat? I don’t know.” Ginny shrugged and looked down into her tea. “He was certainly incorporeal after the final battle. Perhaps one of the missing Death Eaters helped him regain his body. I don’t know.” Lifting the cup she took a long sip.
Kingsley tried to keep any accusation out of his voice as he asked his next question. “But you and Ron and Hermione were so convinced he was dead. How could you be so wrong?”
“Voldemort beat us that day,” Ginny said with a heavy sigh, her eyes still downcast. “We thought we had him. He had a secret and they found it out. They were going to stop him. But he knew it. We didn’t realize it then, but he was smarter than us. He was one step ahead.”
Very little of that had made sense to Kingsley. He was going to ask Ginny to clarify, but her head snapped up suddenly, fresh tears shining on her face. His voice caught in his throat as he looked into her pain-filled eyes. He did not want to go on, but the most important question had not been asked. Taking a deep breath, he plunged ahead, “Ginny, I know it’s hard to talk about it, but I need to know what happened here tonight. How did You-Know-Who die?”
“It was Harry,” she said quietly. “He saved me.”
Kingsley ran his hand over his face. He did not want to have to call in St. Mungo’s as well. Perhaps he should just contact Arthur. The delusion would probably be short-lived. “Okay, Ginny. That’s good for now. I’ll talk to your parents and -”
“No, you don’t understand me,” Ginny insisted, grabbing his hand for emphasis, staring at him in earnest. “I know Harry is dead. He wasn’t here tonight. But he died for me. He died for all of us, but Voldemort was coming after me when Harry cast that final spell. He died trying to save me first. And that kind of sacrifice leaves a mark.”
Kingsley looked at her in disbelief. She could not mean…could she? “Ginny, what are you trying to say?” he choked out.
She did not reply with words. Instead, Ginny pulled up the sleeve of her dressing gown. There was a cut on the outside of her arm. It was in the shape of a lightning bolt. She looked at it for a moment then lifted her eyes to Kingsley. Her voice was soft as she murmured, “I know it will leave a scar.”