A/N: Special Thanks to Happydog for his mad beta skills.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything within his world, and I profit nothing by this but my own delight and amusement.
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Ginny had been on edge since Harry fell out of the sky clutching Cedric and proclaiming Voldemort’s return, but she’d been particularly on edge since coming to Order Headquarters. Each time she awoke in her strange new room, she sat up and listened to her heart race with only one question on her mind: “Is this where I fell asleep?”
She sat at the railing, on the landing outside her room, and peered through the slats.
She didn’t know who to speak with other than Professor Dumbledore, and this was already the second time that the professor had come to Headquarters for a meeting; she had just missed him the first time--intercepted and barred by Mum. Today, she decided to sneak in to Dumbledore while Mum was still busy.
Ginny heard the sudden woosh of voices as someone opened the kitchen door.
The meeting was over. It was time. She smoothed back her hair, stood, and descended the staircase. She had dressed carefully, even taking the effort to mend her jumper properly. The old wool still smelled like Bill sometimes, and it comforted her as much as it had when he first gave it to her in Egypt. She’d worn that jumper a lot over the summer, despite the heat.
From the second landing, Ginny could see the Order members milling about in the entryway as they jostled into cloaks and made non-Order plans with one another. Ginny grinned when she saw Snape scowling at Mundungus; Mundungus stood between Snape and the cloak rack.
“Step aside, Fletcher,” he said.
Dumbledore wasn’t among the crowd. Seeing this, Ginny slipped into the chaos of cloaks and made her way further downstairs, to the kitchen. The bad lighting dulled her hair to obscurity, and there were advantages to being small: it was easier to escape notice. This time, no one stopped her.
Quite a few people remained in the kitchen. Bill and Lupin listened to Tonks (at least Ginny assumed that it was Tonks), who seemed to be relating a story about Fudge (she had on Fudge’s nose and gray hair). Whatever Tonks was saying had Bill laughing and Lupin shaking his head with a half-smile. In another corner of the room, Dad was having an animated discussion with Kingsley Shacklebolt while Mum cleaned up mugs and crumbs from the long table. At the end of the table sat Dumbledore and Sirius Black, both of whom wore serious expressions.
Seeing Sirius always made Ginny’s nervousness increase. She still wasn’t quite used to the idea that Sirius was safe to be around, but that wasn’t what unsettled her. The whole Sirius thing was much less galling than what Hermione had told her about Scabbers. First, her diary had belonged to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and then Ron’s rat was a Death Eater, the Death Eater indirectly responsible for making Harry an orphan. What would be next?
She swallowed and straightened her back. This was why she had come down in the first place. She had to know. Mum is bound to turn around soon...
Resolved, Ginny approached the table.
“...and his last letter was no better,” Sirius was saying. “I say what I can, but I know that he’s frustrated with all of us. Can’t you tell him something...I’m afraid that he might do something James-like and endanger himself.”
Dumbledore smiled slightly. “You know my answer, Sirius. He will know all in time.” He turned and winked at Ginny who froze five paces away. “I suppose you’re full of questions about Mr. Potter as well?”
Ginny bit her lip and covered the distance between them. Sirius mumbled something about doxies and stood up. Ginny gave him a grateful smile as he walked away.
“Actually, Professor,” she said, sliding onto Sirius’s vacant seat. “I had a few other questions...”
“GINEVRA WEASLEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOWN HERE?”
The room got quiet.
Ginny winced. Mum. She started to get up, but Dumbledore put a hand on her shoulder.
“Miss Weasley and I have a few things to discuss, Molly. Do you mind clearing everyone out of the kitchen?”
Mum stood with her hands on her hips for several long seconds before nodding curtly.
“All right, you lot,” she said, looking to where Tonks (now wearing a wide, toad-like face, mouse-like hair, and a ridiculous pink bow) was still entertaining. “Clear out, then.” She fixed a look at Ginny; her face was red. “You and I will talk later.”
Dumbledore looked amused. Soon enough, he and Ginny had the kitchen to themselves. With a flick of Dumbledore’s hand, the door closed.
“Now, Miss Weasley. What did you wish to ask me?”
Ginny took a steadying breath. “Professor, ever since...since I heard about what happened...with Harry...” She stopped and took another deep breath; she was startled by how fast her heart was racing. Her throat felt tight. She swallowed and tried again. “Does Vol...does he know...”
She had to stop again, this time because she’d gone hoarse.
It was strange. When she thought about these things on her own, she sometimes became frightened, but never like this. Somehow, talking to Dumbledore made it all seem much more real, and all the scarier.
Dumbledore gave her a grim smile. “Ah,” he said. “You wonder, I suppose, if Voldemort knows anything about you and his diary.”
Ginny looked at the cuff of Bill’s jumper. She could still see where she had picked up the stitches that morning. “Yes,” she said quietly. “I was wondering if he could find out from me where Headquarters is, or who serves in the Order, or anything else that would endanger others. I suppose that’s a bit stupid of me--you wouldn’t have let me come here if I was a danger, would you?”
She managed to look up at Dumbledore again. His kind blue eyed gaze seemed sad.
“Voldemort certainly knows that you had his diary for a time--unless Lucious Malfoy is too frightened of his Master’s wrath to reveal his failure. But I do not think that Voldemort has any memory of you specifically. I suspect that any power he might have retained over you died when Harry pierced Tom Riddle’s diary with the basilisk’s fang.”
Bill was fond of saying that Dumbledore always had good hunches, but at this moment, a hunch didn’t seem good enough to Ginny. Not even one of Dumbledore’s hunches.
“But how can you be certain?” She tried to keep the whine from her voice, but she felt insecure, and still very frightened. She fingered the sleeve of Bill’s jumper.
Dumbledore regarded her for a moment. “These things are never certain,” he said heavily. For a moment, he looked as though he had finished, but then a resigned expression crossed his face. “I can tell you this: when Harry recounted his recent encounter with Voldemort, he did his best to recall everything that Voldemort said. Voldemort mentioned encountering Harry in Harry’s first year, and he mentioned the return of Wormtail in Harry’s third, but he made no mention of his--Tom Riddle’s--encounter with Harry in the Chamber of Secrets.”
“None?” This reassured Ginny somewhat. “I suppose, if his memories were preserved in the diary, then that does make sense.”
“All the same, Miss Weasley. If you do notice anything unusual, notify one of us immediately.”
Ginny nodded. She remembered how frightening it had been when she didn’t know whom to turn to. She was glad that she wouldn’t be alone. Not this time. “I will, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore smiled, bringing wrinkles to frame his long, crooked nose. “That being said, by Merlin’s beard!--where did you acquire your socks?”
Startled, Ginny looked down at her feet. “Oh. I made them,” she said, wriggling her toes.
“Hmm,” Dumbledore said, rising. “My favorite color is purple, and my feet are about the same size as your brother Ronald’s. If you were wondering.” He winked and left the kitchen.
Ginny stared after him, amazed. Sometimes, Dumbledore was absolutely barking.
It was days later. Mum had bought Ginny purple yarn during one of her trips outside Headquarters. Ginny sat in the kitchen, knitting and chatting with Bill; they were both relaxing after a long day’s work. She and her other brothers had decontaminated Mrs. Black’s room that day. Ginny told Bill about how the Black matriarch’s knickers would stupefy any male who touched them. Bill was laughing so hard that Ginny was afraid Sirius’s mother would start shrieking.
“...But we didn’t realize it was a spell at first,” Ginny continued. “Ron was the first to touch them--on accident--and you know how he is... We thought he’d merely fainted at the sight--thought they were spider silk or something...”
Bill wiped tears from his eyes. “Poor ickle Ronniekins.”
Ginny stopped knitting and made a grab for Bill’s foot. He snatched it away.
“I just need to see if this is long enough,” Ginny said, making another grab.
Bill’s expression hovered somewhere between confusion and horror while his foot hovered beyond her reach. “Um...Ginny... I appreciate the gesture, but I’m not a fan of purple socks.”
Ginny grinned. She remembered the purple socks she’d given to Ron last Christmas along with a note about how she’d chosen the color because it matched his face when he was angry. She’d spotted a house elf wearing the socks a few days later--Dobby, Hermione had said.
“They’re for Dumbledore, you paranoid prat.” Ginny captured Bill’s foot and measured the neck of the sock down to his ankle. “Perfect. Nice and long--I bet it gets cold in his office. Time to turn the heel, then.”
“Dumbledore?” Bill placed his foot back on the floor. “Gin, I’ve been meaning to ask you...what was it that you needed to speak to Dumbledore about?”
For a moment, Ginny thought she was going to freeze up again, and that all of the fear and terror would return to her. But it didn’t; she didn’t. The realization made her smile broadly. “I just wanted to make sure that, with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named back, my presence here wasn’t endangering anyone. Dumbledore thinks that I don’t need to worry.”
Bill was quiet for a long while. Ginny contented herself with counting how many stitches she’d transferred onto her needle for the heel. She was startled when Bill suddenly embraced her. About five stitches slid off the end of her needle.
“Geroff, you prat! Look what you made me do!”
“Sorry.” Bill let her go, laughing. “Ginny, you’re amazing! I still can’t believe...you make it very easy for us to forget what really happened to you. Do you know that?”
Ginny concentrated on retrieving her stitches before they got lost and took a few others with them. “Well,” she said once she’d retrieved the stitches. “It was a long time ago,” she lied. It didn’t seem like a long time ago at all. But it did feel different, now; it had ever since she and Dumbledore talked. It felt resolved.
Bill laughed. “Ginny, it was only two years ago!”
Ginny scowled. “Yeah, well two years makes a big difference when you’re my age.”
“Yes. You’re very mature, now.”
Ginny pushed him. “So how are your Eeengleesh lessons with Fleur going anyway? Still feeling no remorse over stealing from the nursery?” She made tutting noises. “Really! Using your dragon fang like that...”
Bill made a grab for Ginny’s knitting, but Ginny defended the socks as though they were Professor Dumbledore himself. He had eased her mind; the least she could do was keep Bill from ruining his socks.