Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. I am merely telling a story in her world for the fun of it.
AN: Thanks to my beta team Velvet Mouse and Sovran for their work on this project. For those who are interested, you can join my Yahoo Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/in_my_own_words/ to get updates on future chapters.
After a half hour of climbing through the labyrinth of caves beneath the temple of Itzamna, Ginny stepped out onto the upper steps of the temple and sank down onto her haunches with her head cradled in her crossed arms. Above her, the Yucatan night was brightly lit by the waning full moon. The Milky Way threaded across the cloudless heavens like a silvery path. With summer past and the dry season just beginning, a cool breeze caressed the jungle trees and played across the peak of the temple. The night thrummed with the buzz of insects, and the chattering of spider monkeys was interrupted by the occasional growl of a hunting jaguar. Among the vibrant sounds of life, Ginny could barely distinguish the inelegant fumbling of Wendal and Sarah as they tried to extract themselves from the tomb.
The breath of the jungle was a muted backdrop, however, to the turmoil within Ginny. Her heart was thundering in her chest like an enraged erumpent, and her breath was bellowing as she sucked in the cool night air.
She was scared and angry, but beneath it all was a whispering voice telling her that it would be so simple, just a matter of a few well placed spells and hexes, and she would never have to deal with them again. “An accident,” she said in a whisper. “A simple accident.”
Biting her tongue and shaking her head, she focused on the pain and willed away the dark thoughts. She had to be in control. Closing her eyes, she sought out the calm center that resided within her. It wrapped about her, and she felt herself come into focus. She fought back a sob as the adrenaline that had propelled her upwards from the tomb disappeared, leaving only pain.
Her body was screaming in agony. With every breath there was a flare of fire in her side, and she was certain that she had bruised, if not broken, a rib in the initial moments of the fight. Her hands were scraped and raw, her shoulder throbbed in pain, and she knew that the stiffness in her back meant she had a nasty bruise from the cutting curse her clothes had deflected.
“Curator Weasley?” a voice called from behind her. It was concerned and deep, but Ginny found it was getting hard to concentrate. Was that Wendal?
Shivering in the night air, Ginny was aware of a cool, sticky dampness along her side. Reaching down, she found her shirt wet and plastered to her skin beneath her jacket. Bringing her hands up in front of her face, she could see her tanned skin glowing in the moonlight, dripping with dark blood. When had she been hurt? Dimly, she recalled the burning line of fire along her side from the initial attack.
“Merlin!” A thin face floated in front of her, taking her hand. “We need to get you to a healer. Sarah …” The voice faded away, as Ginny slipped into darkness, the blood dripping from her hand.
She was in the cavern behind Slytherin’s statue again, the smell of dank earth filling her nostrils as people shouted around her. There were flashes of light, and she could see the limp form of Remus Lupin sprawled across the tunnel floor. His chest was rising and falling in short gasps, but his eyes were vacant.
She could not remember why her back was against the wall or why she was even in the shadowy basilisk lair. Worried for Remus, she tried to reach for him, but her body was sluggish and her hands were entangled in something.
She was so cold. Cold and numb, and she was scared. High pitched laughter echoed through the cavern, and it chilled her heart. Tom was happy. He was happy because of the trap, she suddenly remembered. The trap for …
Where was Harry? Panicked, her gaze darted about the room until she saw Harry. He was running toward her, his green eyes wide in fear, burning with purpose even though his face was caked with dirt and blood. He was screaming her name, and she was confused.
Why was he worried? She was only resting. Looking down, her head spun as she saw her clothes drenched in blood. She could see white bones protruding from her chest, and her hands were pressed against her abdomen, holding in purplish coils of what looked like sausage.
“Ginny!” Harry screamed. His voice was like thunder in her ears. “Don’t die. Please don’t die. I’m so sorry. Ginny! Ginny! Gin …”
Flailing at the sheets, Ginny gasped and opened her eyes to an undulating ceiling of day-lit canvas. Confused, she sat up and looked around before realizing that she was in one of the tents curse breaking teams always set up near the sites in case of injury. Because of the seven other cots covered by crisp white linens and the large potion cabinet along one wall, she was certain it was not the tent near Itzamna. No, this was more like the medical tent near her offices in Merida.
Taking several, deep, calming breaths, Ginny massaged her temples. Curse breaking was a dangerous career, so waking up in a hospital tent was the least of her concerns. The dream, however, bothered her. She thought she had put that moment aside long ago.
It had been the summer after her seventh year, and she was a few months into her apprenticeship for Gringotts. She had not yet left England when Harry, Ron and Hermione appeared at the Burrow one evening in late July. They had discovered that the last Horcrux was hidden within Hogwarts itself. Over the next few days they planned the expedition to Hogwarts, and Ginny convinced Harry to bring her along now that the Unbreakable Vow to complete school, which her mother had forced her into before her sixth year, was fulfilled.
The prospect of being at Harry’s side as he searched out the pieces of Tom’s soul had filled Ginny with an eager zeal. The letters from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the brief time she spent looking for the Horcruxes before her seventh year, had instilled in her a glorified fantasy of Harry’s task. More importantly, Bill was teaching her many tricks of the trade, and she desperately wanted to try her hand at a real challenge instead of the theoretical tombs she was instinctively unlocking.
Ginny had a knack for curse breaking. From the first moment she took up the theoretical work, it was like flying a broom. She knew how to ferret out the traps and the hidden tricks that protected one curse or overlayed another as easily as she could loop, roll, and dive in the air. It was a puzzle, and while everyone else fumbled with the individual pieces, she had the final picture and only needed to find the proper piece and make it fit.
It was simple to convince Harry to let her join in the expedition, as Remus, Tonks, and Mad-Eye Moody would also be there. They had traveled to Hogwarts and descended into the Chamber of Secrets again before delving into the lair of the basilisk itself.
Behind the statue of Salazar Slytherin, they found a frightening series of challenges left by Voldemort. For Ginny, it was more than the nightmare of facing the Chamber again, for as they struggled through the traps and curses, she found herself fumbling to break curses she had breezed through days before. It was as if someone had put blinders on her so that she could only see what was in front of her. Her instincts failed her many times, and often misled her. Several times, Harry had stepped in to direct her efforts, and by the time they had reached the staff, Ginny was unsure that curse breaking was her calling.
Ravenclaw’s Staff rested in the sleeping chamber of the basilisk. The chamber was worn smooth as glass by centuries of the monster’s scales rubbing against the walls. In one wall, a niche was carved deep into the granite, and the staff rested on a wooden stand within.
Her revealing charm indicated no magic beyond the staff itself and the soul within it. But, when Harry took the staff from its resting place, they all heard the audible click in the chamber and saw the flare of magic that sealed them all in the tunnel. Frantically, they tried to escape as Voldemort himself appeared in the chamber with several Death Eaters. Voldemort and the Death Eaters dropped their Portkey as the first curses were cast.
The battle was intense. Harry and the others covered Ginny and Hermione as they worked to unseal the Chamber so they could escape. Trusting in Harry and her friends, Ginny worked diligently and brought down the wards after several minutes, but it was too late.
As she turned around, she saw the green light of the Killing Curse strike Mad-Eye Moody, and another silvery spell engulf Remus Lupin. His screams echoed in the Chamber, and Ginny responded without thought. She sent Remus’ attacker flying into the wall, where he crumpled bonelessly, a smear of blood on the stone from where his head hit. Struggling to reach Remus, she never saw Voldemort, but the cutting curse he sent at her tore her open and slammed her into the wall.
Snippets of dreams and occasional flashes of panic were all that she remembered past that moment. The next thing she did remember was waking up in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing a week later, Harry asleep in a chair next to her, holding her hand. She later learned that Voldemort had attacked her to distract Harry, who lost the staff in order to save her. Voldemort had retreated with his Horcrux, and Harry had been forced to keep her alive with his rudimentary knowledge of medical charms, as he was the only one left healthy in the entire debacle.
Hermione and Ron had been knocked out and hurt by falling rocks. Tonks had been hit with the Cruciatus curse and been held under it for a long time. She had been out of action for several weeks, but Ginny had been the worst. She had been in the hospital for two months healing from her injuries, and she still bore the scar from that attack. Despite his best efforts, Harry had healed her too quickly, and it had left a mark.
Pulling herself into a seated position, she opened the front of her shirt and let her fingers play along the raised skin that trailed between her breasts, down across her abdomen, and over her right hip. It no longer bothered her. For years, she had refused to wear any clothes that