A dark shadow moved across the flickering firelight and a chill swept
up and down the platinum blonde’s spine. Coming to his feet, he poked
the firewood harshly and grumbled something to himself. He would not
let shadows haunt him or scare him. A small house elf popped into the
room. “Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked her master.
me a whisky straight, now, get out of my sight!” he bitterly yelled.
Turning away from the fireplace he settled himself back into the deep
His eyes darted across the dark room, filled with
sharp shadows. There was a rustling at the window, and his head snapped
in the direction. It was nothing but fluttering lacy curtains, nothing
“Scared my dear son?” A drawling, yet twisted voice snickered from the darkest corner of the room.
tensed in his seat, but displayed no real emotions and watched as his
father slowly drew himself out of the corner. Lucius was a thin, weak
and hollow replica of the man he once was. “Why would I fear you?”
Draco’s voice was placid, but there was an acidic edge underlying.
the firelight, Lucius’ long blonde mane seemed vibrant and full of
life. It was contrasted by the shallow relief of his sullen face. “Even
I would fear a man who was betrayed.”
Draco stirred in his seat, agitated. “How easily you are mislead, dear old man.”
“Am I?” Lucius alleged in a mocking tone. “Was I not left behind, did you not leave me behind?”
“The Aurors were coming, and you insisted on finishing off Potter yourself,” Draco replied bitingly. “It was your choice.”
straightened his stance and looked sharply at his son. “You’re a
coward. You fled when we had the chance to finally bring him down
The house elf reappeared in the doorway. Her eyes
were wide as she stared at her former master in disbelief. “Your drink
master?” she squeaked timidly to Draco.
Draco motioned for her
to approach and he took the glass from her. Sending her off once again,
he turned his attention on the brooding man before him. He took a sniff
of his drink, relishing in the scent, as he regarded him with no more
than the merest interest. Taking a swig from the glass, he lowered it
to the table in front of him. “You underestimate Potter.”
Drawing himself up to his fullest height, Lucius leered at Draco. “You fear a mere boy. Surely, you overestimate the bastard.”
Draco laughed coolly. “I spent seven years with the ingrate. I’d think I know him well.”
“You know nothing!” Lucius snapped. “You’re a sorry excuse for a Malfoy! I should kill you right where you sit.”
stood up abruptly, his steel grey eyes meeting his father’s. “I welcome
you to try, but I’m afraid with no wand you’ll get nowhere.”
disappoint me Draco. I’d thought by now you would have killed him, but
you’ve been sitting on your arse being useless,” Lucius continued, his
anger bubbling to a new height.
Draco sharply shook his head
in disagreement. “You see Father, unlike you I put more thought into
things and there are other ways of getting what we want.” Draco paused,
and then continued, “That’s the problem with you. You’re too stuck in
the old ways, in Voldemort’s ways. He’s dead and he’s not coming back.
What good that got him.”
Impatient, Lucius snapped, “And you’ve a better plan?”
bent over and picked up the morning’s newspaper from the coffee table.
He opened it to the first page and held it up for his father to see.
“Bellatrix broke out just after you. I’m sure she’d like to have a
Lucius smiled. “You surprise me Draco. You do have something in mind.”
“Of course I do,” Draco replied. “Did you think I’d let Potter get away that easily?”
“When will it happen?” Lucius asked greedily. He was ready to bring Potter down in a hailstorm.
picked his glass off the table and walked to the fireplace. Studying
the deep amber colour before placing the rim to his lips, he drank the
entire glass. Smiling a toothy sinister grin, he answered, “In due
Harry sat behind
his desk with his legs sprawled across the top of all his
paperwork. He was tossing paper balls at the waste bin in the
corner of his cubicle. One ball after another missed the bin,
littering the floor with paper. As he made another bad toss,
Gypsy walked into his cubicle and was promptly smacked in the face.
Perturbed, she looked at him sternly. “Thanks, Potter.”
Letting his legs drop from his desk, he straightened in his seat. “Sorry about that.”
“Never mind,” she said shaking her head. She waved a manila folder in her hands. “We’ve got more important issues.”
“If it’s about Azkaban, don’t worry, I sealed the hole,” Ron answered as he peaked over the top of Harry’s cubicle.
frowned at him before placing the folder down on the desk. “Close, but
this is much worse. Remember two prisoners escaped and we didn’t know
who the last one was? Well, we know now.” She flipped the folder open
and pointed to a picture of a woman that Harry was not overly fond of.
“Bellatrix,” Harry stated numbly. The familiar black long hair was a trademark of the Black family.
“That’s not good,” Ron mumbled as he came over to Harry’s desk.
Gypsy nodded her head. “She’s probably going to meet up with Lucius.”
“That spells trouble with a capital ‘T’,” Ron replied.
closed the folder. He hated looking at Bellatrix, because it only
reminded him of his godfather. She carried such a likeness to her
cousin that it was startling. It still hurt Harry deeply to think of
Sirius. She had killed him right in front of his eyes. Later, she
laughed about it in Harry’s face and it was all Harry could take. Now,
she was back.
“Do we have surveillance on Malfoy Manor?” Harry asked shaking himself out of his stupor.
shrugged. “Sure, but not enough. That twit Draco put in an order to the
Ministry claiming that his privacy should be respected. After all, he
had nothing to do with Voldemort.”
Harry snickered, “My arse he didn’t. He’s a bloody liar.”
“Well, a coward if you ask me.” Ron frowned.
Harry tapped a finger on the manila folder scowling. “Thanks Gypsy, is it okay if I kept this?”
“Be my guest.” She paused slightly in the gap of the partition. “Hey, listen, we’ll get the both of them in no time.”
Harry nodded his head at her and she left. He slumped back in his chair wanting to scream.Just when his life was finally becoming normal this had to happen. Ron’s hand came into Harry’s view and clasped the folder.
become obsessed with this, Harry,” he warned. Letting go of the folder,
Ron stood up straight. “I’m going out to eat with Hermione, why don’t
Harry shook his head. “That’s okay, go without me. I’ve got loads of work to do.” He gestured to the papers cluttering his desk.
well, I’ll be back in an hour or so,” Ron replied with a worried glance
at Harry. He knew his friend better than anyone else: Harry wouldn’t
let this go so easily.
bent over her new cauldron cleaning it out. It was a sticky mess after
brewing Lupin’s monthly potion. She had insisted on brewing it every
month for him and would not take no for an answer. Remus was such a
good man and Ginny felt bad for him, especially since he was often
treated as less than a person. She was just about done, when a pair of
hands fell on her hips and squeezed her.
Startled, she cried
out and dropped her rag into the cauldron. Spinning around, she faced
Colin Creevey who bore a smile across his face. Smacking him in the
shoulder, she scolded him soundly. “Colin you scared me half to death!”
“I know, that was the fun part,” he laughed. “The best part was hearing you scream.”
She stuck her tongue out at him playfully. “You wish, Colin.”
Pulling her into his arms, he whispered in her ear, “Why wish when I can…”
“Excuse me Miss?” A voice rang out from behind them.
Ginny scrambled away from Colin and approached the man in the doorway. “Can I help you sir?”
He looked Colin over warily before answering, “Yes. You sent for a sign to be made and I’m here to install it.”
that’s right you must be Mr. Levi’s son,” Ginny recalled with a smile.
“I’m Ginny Weasley and this is my friend Colin Creevey.” Colin stepped
forward and shook the young man’s hand.
“I’m Kenny. Where would you like the sign?” he asked.
tapped a finger against her lips before walking out the door. She waved
Colin to come over and help her decide. “Do you think I should put it
right outside the gate or off to the side?”
Kenny went over to
the cart and pulled out a sign that read ‘Ginevra’s Apothecary.’ Colin
helped him lift it over to the left side of Ginny’s establishment. “I
think it should go here.”
Within a few minutes the sign was
posted and Ginny bid farewell to Kenny. Walking back inside, she
returned to the dirty cauldron. Colin followed her in and closed the
door behind him this time.
“Now, where were we?” Colin grinned.
Ginny turned around holding the slimy rag and waved it in his face. “You’d better stop, Colin, or I’ll hex you.”
made a face at her and followed her into another room. There was a
large sink and a few cabinets in the room. Ginny began to rinse the rag
out. “Oh, what, are you taken now?”
Ginny smiled over at him. “And what if I am?”
“Then I’ll break his nose,” Colin stated over protectively.
Ginny laughed at him. “You know, I feel like I have seven brothers.”
“Oh sure, so I’m just a ‘brother’ to you,” Colin sulked.
Ginny turned to him frowning. “Come on Colin, you know I’ve always felt that way. Besides, why would you want seconds to Harry Potter?”
rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I warned you about him, but no,
you had to go and fall head over heels for the bloke. You could have
Ginny grinned at him before throwing the
sopping wet rag at him. “Yes, but then who would I fight with all the
time? Who would threaten to beat up all my boyfriends?”
Grinning back at her, Colin threw the rag into the sink. “You know, Miss Weasley, I think you have a point there.”
“Yes, the last thing you want to do is be entranced by my dead sexy looks,” she joked.
Colin laughed as he followed her back into the main room. “You’re far from dead sexy, Fireball.”
I hate it when you call me that,” she groaned. Picking up the cauldron,
she pushed it into the fireplace. “Now, you haven’t told me what you
“What, can’t a dear friend come to visit you?” He feigned offence.
She shook her head and began to pull things off the shelves. “Colin, I know you by now and you definitely want something.”
Sitting down hard in a chair, he frowned at her. “I really am offended, Ginny.”
get over it, you big baby.” With a flick of her wand the fireplace was
lit and crackling. “Tell me or forget about it because I have orders to
Sighing, he gave up. “Look, I’m having trouble with a batch of my photographs for the dictionary thing and I was wondering…”
I could give you some stuff for them?” She grinned over at him. “Sure,
thing Colin.” She walked along the walls and picked things off of the
shelves. She handed him five jars. “I think you know what to do with
“Yeah, but you haven’t even heard my problem yet.” He frowned at her. “There’s something unnatural about these pictures.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
placed the jars in his rucksack. “What I mean is that they are blurred
unnaturally around the objects that I’m photographing. It’s like the
animal has some kind of shield.”
“Try that stuff and if it doesn’t work, bring the photographs to me and I’ll figure something out.”
“Thanks Ginny, I really appreciate it.”
She smiled at him. “Don’t mention it.”
“What do you say to dinner? I owe you for this, so you can’t say no.”
looked at him thoughtfully. “Fine, but you have to wait until I finish
this potion for Neville.” He nodded at her and settled back into his
seat to contentedly watch Ginny go about her work. She really was in
her element when it came to this. Pride swelled inside of him as he
watched his best friend work. She may even be better than Snape, he thought.
Harry had spent most of the day sulking in his office. How could this happen? He asked himself. First, Lucius Malfoy breaks out of Azkaban and now Bellatrix Black, what next?Things can’t get any worse.
ways down the hallway, Harry could hear two people arguing. The voices
grew closer and their argument clearer. It was Hermione and Ron.
Seconds later, a perturbed Hermione burst into Harry’s cubicle and
glared at him.
“And just what are you doing?” she demanded heatedly.
Harry looked up at her bewildered. “Working,” he offered as an answer.
snatched the open folder on his desk and held it firmly in her right
hand. “You’re obsessing, that’s what you are doing!”
“Harry, I swear I didn’t say a thing to her!” Ron came rushing in the room after her and paused at the doorway.
didn’t have to either,” she stated, tossing the folder onto Harry’s
desk with a good smack. He pushed his chair out of the way in alarm.
reached out and pulled Hermione away. It looked as if she were going to
attack Harry. “Come on, Hermione, it’s none of your business what Harry
She whipped around to face Ron and pushed him away from
her. “Don’t tell me what to do Ron.” Turning back to Harry, she pointed
a finger at him. “Now, I expect you to join me for dinner.”
Hermione, I can’t do that right now,” he began to say but the sharp
look she gave him told him she would not be taking “no” for an answer.
I will see you tomorrow. Please send your mother my regards.” She
stated briskly as she fetched Harry’s cloak off the peg on the wall.
Harry looked to Ron. “You’re not coming with us?”
Shaking his head Ron answered, “No, mum asked me to come over tonight with Hermione but she’s got other plans now.”
on, Harry,” Hermione implored. She held his cloak out for him and he
took it from her. Looking to Ron for some kind of escape, he saw that
Ron was going to avoid Hermione’s wrath. Meaning, Harry reckoned, he
Hermione decided that they needed a change in
restaurants for once, so she chose to eat at the new restaurant in
Hogsmeade, Jacob’s Junket. Once seated at a table, the pair ordered
their meals, then, wasting no time, Hermione restarted what she had
begun in Harry’s office.
“So, what are you planning?” she asked craftily.
looked up at her from over his water glass. “Whatever do you mean?” he
asked schooling his face into his most innocent expression.
no patience for idiocy, Hermione stated bluntly, “I know you’ve got
something flying around in that head of yours and I intend to find out
by the end of tonight.”
“Ah, I have a personal shrink,” Harry mused lightly.
lightly tapped her fingers on the table and briefly smiled at him. “You
know, Harry, that I will get what I want whether you resist me or not.”
Harry grinned at her dashingly. “Why, Hermione, are you coming onto me? You know, Ron wouldn’t appreciate that.”
“Oh, do shut it, Harry!” she cried out, trying not to laugh.
Sighing, Harry admitted, “I’m not up to anything, really. I’m just brooding, that’s all.”
“Really, Harry?” she asked, hoping that was all it was.
“Do you think I’d do something stupid or reckless?” he asked her.
She looked into his eyes and stated, “No.”
“Good, because I’m not planning anything stupid or reckless,” he replied instantly.
“But you are planning something.” She smiled her know-it-all smile.
just have something in mind; it’s not really a plan and I’m not going
to take any actions,” he answered. “Anyway, can we just relax and
change the topic. Our appetizer is on the way.”
carefully wove his way through the tables and headed straight for them.
Just as the food arrived at their table, a familiar female voice rang
“Colin, come on, we can’t possibly eat here,” Ginny stated. “It’s more than you can afford,” she added in a low tone.
Weasley, is that you!” Hermione stood up from her chair and crossed to
the entrance. The two females hugged and Hermione said a quick hello to
Colin. “Would you both join us?”
Harry craned his neck to see them behind him and watched as Ginny nodded her head, but Colin shook his in disagreement.
“We don’t want to interrupt your meal, you’ve all ready been served,” he answered politely.
“It’s only appetizers, honestly, Harry and I would love for you to join us,” Hermione insisted.
you, but maybe next time,” Colin replied stiffly. He looked over to
Harry and made a face. Obviously, he wasn’t thrilled to see him. Colin
led Ginny over to their table, where they sat down.
shrugged her shoulders and then returned to her seat. “Harry, can you
pass the salt?” she asked cutting through the daze he was in.
a start, he reached over to the salt and handed it to her. Thanking
him, she began to salt her appetizer. He wanted to ask her what Colin
had said, but found it wise not to. After their dishes were finished
and taken away, they settled back into conversation again.
“I can’t believe Ginny is really back home,” Hermione started.
Harry quietly answered, “Yeah, me either.”
feels so strange that she’s been gone nearly three years. She hasn’t
changed a bit, except for the fact that she looks more grown up. I
think it’s wonderful that she’s starting her own business. She reminds
me so much of Fred and George in looks and ambitions.”
“She has the same humour, too,” Harry added.
I suppose she does.” Hermione looked thoughtful and began to giggle. “I
remember in our last year the stunts she pulled. If there had been two
of her, then we’d all have something to worry about.”
laughed a little at that. More than one Ginny would have been more than
he could handle; just seeing her across the room from him made his
blood pulse unnaturally. His palms were sweaty and his breath was
short. She made him feel every bit unnerved. She was laughing now, at
something Colin had just said. Colin. That bloke made Harry’s blood
boil in resentment. Watching him laugh with Ginny, smile at Ginny, and
hold Ginny’s hands drove Harry crazy. Hold Ginny’s hand? “I wonder if they’re a couple.”
Hermione had been speaking, but he hadn’t heard a word. She stopped then and questioned, “I’m sorry, wonder if who’s a couple?”
Harry shook his head and broke his gaze at Ginny. “Did I say that out loud?”
watched him carefully and smiled. “Yes, I’m afraid you did.” Looking
away from him she glanced over her shoulder at Ginny and Colin.
Returning her attention to Harry, her grin widened. “Why, do you care
if they are?”
Harry looked rigidly at her. “Don’t start, Hermione.”
but you started it Harry. Why do you care so much if they are a
couple?” Hermione was once again in her element, torturing Harry for
Frustrated, Harry slammed his fists down to the table. “I don’t!”
Hermione jumped back in her seat. A few other customers glanced warily
in his direction. “Please, Harry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
it, Hermione,” he sighed angrily. Pressing a finger to his forehead he
leaned against the table. “I’m just in a bad mood.”
“I can see that. Well, I won’t bother you further,” she replied.
“Thanks,” he answered.
across the restaurant, Ginny studied Harry’s demeanour carefully. Over
the years she had developed a knack for reading his emotions through
his body language. At the moment, he was thoroughly annoyed.
Colin sudden snapped his finger in her face drawing her attention away from Harry. “Will you stop staring at him?”
“I’m not staring at him,” Ginny hissed in response. Turning back in her seat, she faced Colin.
He crossed his arms over his chest and looked her over disapprovingly. “You still have feelings for him.”
“I didn’t say that. I was only concerned.” She didn’t seem ruffled by the accusation at all.
“You were more than delighted to join them at the mention of Harry’s name,” Colin stated bitingly.
you not start, Colin, honestly? You were more than rude in refusing
Hermione’s invitation and I’m beginning to wonder why.” She stared at
him with hard eyes.
Colin made a noise of frustration. “You just don’t get it do you, Ginny?”
Colin, I must not be getting it since I have no clue as to what you are
saying,” she answered hotly. She was in no mood for Colin’s pettiness.
tired of you pining over Harry Potter like he’s some god. I’m tired of
you coming to me with a broken heart and I’ve got to be your shoulder
to cry on. Ginny, I’m tired of watching you get hurt by him, because he
doesn’t give a damn about you.” He sighed angrily. “I’m just tired.”
she threw her napkin down onto the table and stood up saying, “I didn’t
know you felt that way.” She turned and made her way through the
Harry looked up from his dinner plate and watched
the red head cross the restaurant and throw the doors open fiercely.
Glancing back over in the direction of Colin, he watched as he sourly
ordered from the waiter. Any thought of them being a couple suddenly
vanished from Harry’s mind. All he could think about now was whether
Ginny was all right or not.
Looking over at Hermione, he put his fork down and said, “I’ll be right back.”
watched as he got up from his seat and proceeded out the front door.
“Don’t worry about me,” she said to herself. Hermione smiled then and
hoped he wouldn’t come back.
She had made it halfway down the
block when Harry spotted her among the night crowd at Hogsmeade. She
was walking at a brisk pace and he had to lightly jog to catch up. A
bit winded, he called out to her, “Ginny, wait!”
She paused and turned to him. Surprised, she asked, “Harry, what are you doing here?”
Now standing in front of her, he took a moment to catch his breath. “I live in the area, remember?”
I know that, but what are you doing following me? Weren’t you having
dinner with Hermione?” she asked, looking over his shoulder and down
the street to the restaurant. She was checking to see if Colin had
followed her as well, but he hadn’t.
Harry stumbled for an explanation. “Well, I saw you rush out of the restaurant and you seemed really upset.”
well, thank you for your concern but you should get back to Hermione.
She’s probably waiting for you.” Ginny pulled the front of her thin
cardigan sweater closer together. She wrapped her arms around herself
and looked at him expectantly.
“She’ll be fine without me.
Besides you’re cold,” he replied, noticing the shiver that swept over
her small figure. Pulling his heavy sweater over his head, he offered
it to her.
Reluctantly, she took it from him saying, “Thanks.”
The sweater seemed enormous and Ginny could tell from its size that
Harry had grown considerably. She looked up at him smiling and couldn’t
help gazing at his form through the tight cotton t-shirt. Not only had
he grown more, but he had acquired muscles that complimented his
already agreeable physique.
They proceeded to walk down the
main strip of Hogsmeade side by side. Ginny was the first to speak.
“You know, you didn’t have to come after me.”
“I know, but I
wanted to make sure you were alright,” he answered quickly. “Besides,
it’s not exactly safe to walk around by yourself at night.”
She looked over at him then and frowned. “What do you mean?”
just that Lucius Malfoy broke out of jail not even a month ago and now
Bellatrix Lestrange has escaped.” He didn’t want to seem overly
protective of her, but he did want her to be safe.
“I hadn’t known Bellatrix escaped,” Ginny replied as she shivered. “I haven’t read the Daily Prophet in the past week and most of their articles are rubbish anyway. I haven’t gotten it delivered to the house yet.”
“Well, I just want you to be careful,” Harry stated.
turned to him and grinned. “You’re not going to be like Ron, are you?
Do I have to start ID’ing you to make sure it’s really you?” She
laughed and started walking again. “I’m not going to live my entire
life fearing that someone is out to get me.”
“And I’m not
saying you should. All I’m saying is that you should be safe.” He
caught up to her and clasped her hand. Pulling her to face him he
declared, “I don’t want to see you get hurt, Ginny.”
looked up into his eyes and blinked. The hidden emotions within his
green eyes overwhelmed her and she had to take a step back. “You don’t
have to worry about me, Harry. I’m always safe.”
there was a flash and the two blinked in reaction. Turning their
attention to across the street, they saw a man standing in front of
Honeydukes with a camera in his hand. Harry took one step towards the
man and in an instant he was gone. Turning back to Ginny, he frowned.
“It’s probably a reporter from the Prophet. We’ll be on the front page
“Humph, I’ll have to get a copy and see what they say about us.” Ginny smiled over at him.
Harry laughed. “They’ll probably make up some outrageous story of us being together romantically.”
was an awkward silent pause. “Yes, well it’s a step up from Hermione
being your girlfriend. At least Ron will have some peace of mind.”
Ginny tried to lighten the conversation. Harry smiled at her, but his
last statement seemed to stick with him.
“Well, I’d better go before they get any more pictures.” He frowned.
“Good night, Harry,” she replied. “And thanks, for coming after me.”
time Gin.” He smiled at her. He watched her go through the withered
garden and into the house, before Disapparating to his own flat.