"What do you mean?" she asked, her voice raising, and sounding unusually high pitched.
Mrs. Weasley's shaking hand held the crumpled piece of parchment in one hand. "He…he…" she began, but could not bring herself to say any more. She lowered her eyes. A single tear slid down her cheek. "No…" she whispered, and buried her head in her arms. Her aged body shook with sobs.
Bill went to her, his own cheeks wet with tears. He rubbed his mother's back.
Hermione was off in one corner, crying to herself. "It can't be…" she sobbed. "He…he's my best friend!"
Ginny blinked. "You're wrong!" she whispered, fiercely. "You're all playing a joke, and I think it's horribly, awfully mean!"
"We're not joking, Ginny," said Charlie, looking pale. He was blinking back tears. "I wish…I wish I could have been there. Damn, I wish Bill and I hadn't taken leave. Maybe I could have…helped…"
He bowed his head.
Ginny looked at them all wildly. "You're crazy," she said, backing up. "You're all absolutely nuts." She pressed her back against the cold wall. "He's not," she cried fiercely. "Stop joking with me right now!"
Charlie moved towards his little sister. "Oh, Gin," he said softly. "It's true."
"It is not!" she half screamed. "Say it's a lie, Charlie Weasley! Say it!"
Ginny grabbed her brother's shoulders, and began to shake him back and forth. "Stop lying to me!" she screamed.
He let her do this for a few seconds, then grabbed her arms. "Ginny, please, listen," he said quietly. "He's been killed."
"He has not!" exclaimed Ginny. "Stop joking! All of you! I hate it!"
"We're not joking," said Charlie. His face was sad, and hurt. "Please, Gin, you have to believe me."
"It isn't funny anymore!" She glared at him. "It isn't!"
"Ginny," Charlie began, but he could not finish. He dropped her hands.
"Stop it!" she screamed. "Oh, stop it, all of you!"
Mrs. Weasley raised saddened eyes to her. "Oh, Virginia," she whispered. "Oh, my baby. I'm sorry you have to go through this."
She made a move as to go to her daughter, but Ginny pulled away.
"Don't talk to me, any of you!" she screamed. "I hate you all! This isn't funny! You don't joke about things like that!"
"Oh, Ginny," said Mrs. Weasley, a tear slipping down her cheek. "My baby…"
She tried to hug her daughter. Ginny jumped back, and glared wildly around the room.
"Tell me it isn't true!" she cried, a tear slipping down her cheek. "You've had your laugh, ha, ha, now 'fess up!"
Ginny's eyes searched the room frantically. "Stop lying to me!" she screamed at them. "I mean it, all of you!"
Mrs. Weasley lowered her eyes. "Ginny, dear, you have to accept it. He's gone."
"I won't!" Ginny cried. "I won't accept it! Because he isn't gone!"
She fled from the room, tears stinging at her eyes.
Bill looked at his mother, and gave a heavy sigh. "I'll go after her," he said, and he loped off after Ginny.
He soon caught up with her, and pulled her to a halt.
"It's not true; it's not true," she kept saying, and Bill gripped her shoulders firmly.
"Ginny," he said. "You have to believe me. He's gone."
"No he's not," Ginny screamed. As tears began to roll down her cheeks, she said in a very small voice, "He can't be."
Bill couldn't bear to look at his sister's anguished face any longer. He dropped his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Gin," he whispered.
And then she was in his arms, sobbing her eyes out and clutching to him. "I'm sorry," he whispered, tears beginning to leak out of his own eyes. "I'm sorry."
"He…he…he can't be," she sobbed. "I…I love him too much."
"Oh, Ginny," Bill whispered. "I know you loved him. More than any of us."
Ginny didn't respond. Bill rubbed her back gently, and felt another weight added to his heavy heart. He didn't know how he could forgive himself. He should have been there. He should have helped. If he had…maybe the one they cried about would still be alive.
"God," Ginny whispered. "I can't…I just can't think that he…" She paused. "He knows me inside and out. He loved me too – even though he'd never say it to my face."
Bill patted her hair.
"It's just…" she whispered. "He was just…my everything." And she collapsed into Bill again with another fit of violent sobs.
"Is – is there a chance he could still…?" she asked, the question on her face.
Bill shook his head heavily. "They've found his body."
And Ginny began to moan, a low moan of pain and suffering, of death. Bill rocked her, and she curled up in his arms.
"He…he's dead," she wept, saying the words aloud for the first time. And then she screamed, a horrible awful scream.
Bill couldn't bear to listen to it. The scream pierced his own heart, and as Ginny began to sob again, tears ran down his face. Brother and sister clutched at each other, weeping in sorrow for the death of a great man, a great friend, a great person.