The smell of sage and roasted chicken greeted them when they entered
the kitchen. Ginny was so hungry she could have eaten a Hippogriff, but
she saw that they would have to wait, since the table was covered in
parcels and parchment and not dishes.
"Looks like we might have a few answers," Harry said.
was relieved to see her clothes, and not-so-relieved to see her spell
books. Obviously Mum was thinking they would be staying here for a
Harry was reading through his letters with a frown.
"Hermione looked up possible potions Voldemort might use to strengthen
himself using your blood." He looked up and grinned. "She says she only
had three books at home to consult so she contacted Madam Pince for
Ginny smiled back. Hermione was so reliable.
closest thing she could find was the Unicorn Cure. In that one, you use
unicorn hairs and dragon blood since it is an unforgivable thing to
kill a unicorn." Harry put down the letter and snorted. "I don't think
that's a big worry for Voldemort. The first time I ever encountered him
was in the Forbidden Forest and he had just killed a unicorn and was
drinking its blood."
She was horrified. "When was this?"
"My first year – after we got detention for sending Norbert to Charlie."
Ginny knew about Norbert, but not about the detention. "So what happened?"
was possessing Professor Quirrell, the Defense Against The Dark Arts
teacher. Hagrid said that drinking unicorn blood would keep you alive –
but at a price." Harry shook his head and shuffled the letters in his
hand. "That unicorn was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." He
looked straight into her eyes. "And he killed it."
She could only stare back – feeling the horror of that moment with him – wondering if the same fate awaited her.
must have seen that in her eyes, because he said, "Obviously that isn't
the cure is it? They were going to keep you alive." Then he frowned.
"At least Malfoy's men were going to."
Ginny remembered how the snake was going to kill her. She shuddered.
"I'm sure it's some mad Dark Arts thing he's concocted," Harry added. "But he's not going to get what he wants."
knew by the tone of his voice that he was going to do his best to make
that statement true, but as much as she believed in Harry's ability to
fight Voldemort, she didn't feel the same about herself. And she
couldn't rely on Harry to fight all of her battles.
sifted through his other replies. "I didn't get a response from
Professor Lupin yet – but I didn't expect to. It's still full moon.
Tonks says that they have lost track of Lucius Malfoy since he escaped
from Azkaban. They believed he left the country – although his wife and
child are still residing at Malfoy Manor."
"I can't believe she told you all that," Ginny said.
"It's old news now, isn't it?" he said grimly. "Whatever they thought – it isn't true any more."
Harry picked up Ron's letter. "Ron addressed this to both of us; sit next to me and you can read it too."
moved her chair next to his and peered over his arm at Ron's untidy
writing. The more she read, the more her anger increased. "I can't
believe it," she sputtered. "Dad knew that I could be in danger!"
"They knew Voldemort was interested in all of the seventh-born magical children in Britain," Harry murmured.
didn't Dad tell me?" she exploded. "Then I could have been on my guard
not to open strange letters." The guilt from that moment had been
niggling at her all day.
"They should have told you," Harry
said under his breath, shaking his head. His eyes narrowed as he
glanced back at the letter. "You were the only girl on a very short
list. I reckon that's why they thought you were safe."
"What does my being a girl have to do with?" she hissed, trying to stay in control. "When does being a girl ever really matter?"
rebirthing was all male," Harry answered, pain in his voice. "He took
blood from me, and bone from his father, and a hand from his 'devoted
"So they thought I would contaminate the all-mates club?" she asked fiercely. "That's a small comfort."
"What's a comfort?" Aunt Martha asked as she stepped into the kitchen from the sitting room.
"I don't know," Ginny snapped, "not much."
The color in Aunt Martha's face increased as she said in a dangerous voice, "I'm not sure I like your tone, young lady."
stared stormily back into Aunt Martha's flashing eyes. She had been
rude – but she couldn't bring herself to apologize. She was too angry.
just found out that her parents knew about Voldemort's interest in
her," Harry explained angrily, "and they didn't tell her."
Martha sat down with a thump. "I will not have you speaking of your
parents this way," she said severely. "Arthur and Molly certainly paid
for that mistake when they realized you had vanished from the safe
house. The agonies they must have felt…" Then she glared at Harry. "And
you too, young man. You are as dear as a son to them."
Harry shifted so that his chair squeaked.
Martha took a deep breath. Ginny wondered with alarm if it was healthy
for someone that old to be that red. "I don't suppose either one of you
has ever made mistakes?"
Ginny felt rubbed raw by this accusation. She had made too many mistakes to count.
here's news for you, you don't ever stop making mistakes – even when
you are an adult. In fact, those mistakes are even worse because they
aren't the wrong answer on an exam or a missed goal in Quidditch. The
stakes keep getting higher."
An uneasy silence settled over
the table. Ginny looked everywhere but at Aunt Martha. She felt
terribly guilty, but still resentful.
The anxiety clock chimed five times and said petulantly, "When will anyone ever understand me?"
Suddenly Aunt Martha laughed. "When indeed? I think I've been too hard on you two."
looked up in astonishment. "You both have a right to your anger, of
course. But find it in your hearts to forgive – and soon. I think Molly
and Arthur have learned their lesson – and I think you two have as
Harry cleared his throat. "Yeah," he said quietly. Ginny could feel him looking at her.
That stupid clock, she thought, made us all sound like melodramatic idiots. She didn't bother hiding her sheepish smile. "Yeah, me too."
Martha smiled her approval and then added in the way of her own
apology. "I'm afraid this weather is affecting my mood. I wish it would
storm and get it over with."
Ginny could certainly understand
since she had been cranky about her hair frizzing. "So, was your
business with your solicitor er… successful?"
Martha sighed. "I'll spare you all the tedious details, but I'm trying
to change the Hathaway will. Changing a magical contract can be deadly,
you know, so we must proceed with caution."
Ginny remembered Marietta's face after she broke the Dumbledore's Army contract; she had gotten off easy with a few pimples.
are no Hathaways left and the will forbids the land to go to anyone but
a Hathaway. When I die, the estate will be under ministry control. That
is what I wish to change. I want to bequeath it to St. Mungo's. I
started this process last spring when I saw what a first class fool
Cornelius Fudge was. Removing Albus Dumbledore from Hogwarts was the
Harry shifted in his chair again.
"Are you sure there are no Hathaways left?"
Martha laughed without humor. "There is one London orphan, a girl named
Harriet, who came to live on the estate during the war. We gave her the
name Hathaway since she only knew her first name. But of course she is
no relation. Now she is a secretary at the solicitors, coincidentally.
But not a very good one, I'm afraid. She's always missing work. But
they feel sorry for her since they think the war affected her
emotionally even after all this time."
Ginny wondered how many more people would be affected by this war, in ways they never could imagine.
"This is all of utmost secrecy, you understand," Aunt Martha warned. "No one knows the terms of this will."
They both nodded soberly, but Ginny couldn't see how their knowing could possibly affect anything.
strolled through the garden while waiting for dinner to be served.
Lotty was not used to people being in her kitchen, so she knew it would
be fruitless to offer to help.
The vegetables really didn't
interest her, so she walked further to the cutting garden where white
daisies, red poppies, and pink and purple sweet peas were all in
glorious bloom. Tomorrow she would ask Aunt Martha if she could gather
a bouquet for the table.
She continued along the path, the
gravel crunching under her feet. There was still no breeze and the sun
was hidden under the haze. The glare from the western sky was in her
eyes so she didn't notice the graveyard until she practically stumbled
into the iron gate. It was obviously the burial ground for all the
Hathaways. Ginny looked back at the Dowager cottage. The window
upstairs must be Aunt Martha's. This, she thought with a chill, was the
She shuddered at the peaceful green cemetery
lined with yews. Off in the distance was a huge weeping willow and
another ribbon of water. Between the tree trunks she could see a black
Squinting, not wanting to go through the burial yard to
investigate, she stood on tiptoe to look at the waterway. Another flat
boat went by. This one was blue and said Hathaway Estate. Then Ginny
realized she was looking at one of the canals that linked this farm to
the markets in London and beyond. A few more boats, in different
colors, went by. She took a moment to imagine the contents of those
boats: golden barley perhaps, or bales of wool, glossy fruit, or maybe
jugs of milk.
Now Ginny could understand why Aunt Martha was
being so careful about the will. This estate would be a prize for the
greedy – but it needed to be nurtured. Anyone could see that. The
ministry could never manage it like Aunt Martha, Ginny thought with a
hint of pride.
"That cat is an Animagus!"
The Jarvey was peering at her from behind a tombstone.
laughed, an idea forming in her mind. She would teach it a new phrase.
"Draco Malfoy… " she sing-songed as the animal repeated it. Tomorrow
she would teach it the next few words. Feeling more cheerful than she
had all day, she headed toward the house. Just what I need, she thought happily, a project.
dinner was on the table, Aunt Martha pressed Harry into carving duties.
He looked at Ginny in alarm, but she couldn't think of any way to help,
short of not giggling as he hacked away at the bird.
to carve is the skill of all gentlemen," Aunt Martha declared as a
drumstick skidded across the table. "You must practice."
Harry grimaced. "I need that sword you found, Ginny."
She laughed. "Then it could sing for us too."
"Sword?" Aunt Martha asked. "A singing sword?"
nodded, not wanting to think about the snake she had killed. Harry must
have noticed her distress because he jumped in and told Aunt Martha the
entire story of their escape from the Burrow.
"Where was this safe house?" she asked Harry.
"I'm not sure exactly, although I know it was somewhere in Cornwall."
Then Aunt Martha turned to Ginny. "This sword, what sort of metal was it?"
Ginny looked at Harry helplessly. She had no idea.
"Silver?" Harry surmised. "Bronze? I don't know. It was more silvery-white."
see," Aunt Martha wheezed. "If it was tin – or was coated in tin, that
may well explain it. The Weasleys are originally from Cornwall, you
know. One of the oldest families in Britain – from before the Roman
times, I believe. They magically mined tin for generations. When a
block of Muggle tin is bent, it groans. When magical tin cuts, it
sings." Aunt Martha paused. "Where is the sword?"
it after I beheaded that snake," Ginny said with a sinking heart.
Hopefully she hadn't left anything important behind for the Death
"You beheaded a snake?" Aunt Martha asked sharply.
Now what did I do wrong? Ginny thought. "Yes," she said, glancing at Harry who looked worried.
wrong, precisely. Except –" Aunt Martha took a deep breath. "Some
snakes have tremendous powers of rejuvenation – especially if you
dismember them. They will grow a body from the head."
Harry interrupted her, "we never learned that at school – and when I
killed the Basilisk –" He faltered. Ginny well knew that he had stabbed
the Basilisk – he hadn't cut off his head.
"In nature, what
dies feeds the living." Aunt Martha pointed to the platter of chicken –
now an untidy heap. "We will be rejuvenated by the food on the table."
Ginny didn't think she needed such a vivid example of this concept.
Phoenixes – other magical creatures – show us these incredible powers.
Whereas this poor chicken – didn't get to keep her feathers." She
chuckled. "You mustn't worry, Ginny. I'm sure those Death Eaters took
it along. If it is still at the Burrow, they will have found it by now.
Let us eat."
Once Ginny stopped thinking about dead animals,
she enjoyed the meal. It was delicious and tasted like something Mum
would make. Aunt Martha was a lively conversationalist and kept them
amused with stories from past Weasleys. Before the end of the meal she
gave them some good news: "I've secured promises from all the laborers
on the estate that your presence here will remain a secret. Tomorrow
you can move freely about the grounds.
"May we go up to the stone circle tomorrow?" Harry asked.
– you walked that far?" Aunt Martha said. "Yes, you must see the view
from there. It is one of the two most magical spots in Warwickshire –
that and the well – although the well hasn't been seen for years."
"Ginny found it," Harry said to Aunt Martha's astonishment, "today."
"Well," she said speculatively as she stared at Ginny. "There's more to you than meets the eye, I see."
followed the little house-elf up the stairs. Harry had gone to bed
while Aunt Martha was shaking the proverbial Weasley family tree to see
if there was any record of Weasley being able to detect water. She
finally gave up and declared that Ginny must have inherited that
ability from her mother's side.
Although she was sorry that
Aunt Martha was so disappointed, Ginny couldn't help but feel glad that
Mum was responsible for something worthy in Aunt Martha's eyes.
eyes blurring with fatigue, Ginny couldn't wait to go to bed. Lotty
opened the box room door with a flourish. The camp bed was made with
snowy white sheets and a fluffy pillow, but Ginny hardly spared it a
glance. The box room wasn't a room at all – just the narrow space under
the eves. It looked, to her claustrophobic eyes, just like an
extra-long coffin. Worse, the lid of the coffin was the underside of
the thatched roof. And everyone knew that thatched roofs contained
Ginny hated spiders.
No one knew this about
her, not even her family. It didn't do to show weakness in front of her
brothers. They excluded her enough as it was – from playing Quidditch
and all their other games. If they knew how girly she really was, deep
down, Ginny would never have been included in anything.
gingerly crawled on top of the camp bed, noticing how unusually short
it was. Her feet went all the way to end, but the pillow was soft under
her cheek. She should be able to sleep since she was so tired. Besides,
spiders weren't deadly, were they?
Then she heard it. A faint
rustling. It must be the wind, she told herself sternly. After such a
sultry day, it would make sense that a thunderstorm would be brewing.
All was quiet. Then her overactive ears picked up a faint clicking… "Lumos,"
she whispered. She held her wand up to the thatched ceiling, being
careful not to set the dried grass on fire. Nothing. She was being
Then she saw it. A black spider dropped by a thin
strand on to the foot of her bed. She sucked in a breath and watched it
recover from the drop and start to move…
That was enough. She
tumbled out of the camp bed and went to the corridor, her wand still
lit. There was no way she could sleep in there tonight. Even if she
hexed the spider, she would just worry about another one coming. Didn't
spiders lay about a thousand eggs at a time?
She decided to
sit in the doorway of the box room with her pillow behind her and her
wand lit. Her eyes grew heavy. Maybe she could doze a bit…
Her eyes snapped open. It was Harry, dressed in a faded t-shirt and pajama bottoms.
"I saw a light."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"I was awake," he said softly, sitting next to her on the hard wooden floor. "There's a storm brewing – lots of lightning."
"Oh." There was no window in the box room.
"Oh, yes," she answered in what she hoped was a confident whisper. Both hands were clutched on her lit wand.
"Why are you sitting out here then?"
could see her reflection in his glasses. She looked about ten years old
with her big eyes and her tumbled hair. She hated her silly reflection.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Right then," he said, standing so swiftly he took Ginny by surprise.
"Harry – wait."
He stopped and turned, his hand on the doorknob to his room.
"Sorry," she pleaded, feeling very tearful. "Don't go. I –"
He sighed and stiffly sat down again. "I reckon you don't have to tell me – but – did you have a bad dream or something?"
"No, it's – it's the spiders," she blurted.
"Spiders? Ron hates spiders, not you."
"You know why Ron hates spiders?" Now that the truth was out she thought she might as well tell him the whole story.
Fred and George turned his teddy bear into a spider." Then the light
dawned in his eyes. "You were there – weren't you?"
"I was. It was horrible – Ron was screaming and that big black thing came scuttling over towards me."
Harry looked like he was trying not to laugh.
"You're not laughing are you?"
he hastened to assure her. "I just think about what you lot must have
been like when you were little and it makes me smile."
is one of the darker chapters, Harry," she said a bit impatiently. "I
know it sounds funny, but to a three-year-old, a giant spider is
nothing to take lightly. And no one knows this; I let Ron take all the
guff for being afraid of spiders."
"Why? What difference does it make if your brothers know you're afraid of spiders?"
"Because it's girly – and I was left out of enough for being a girl."
"Like flying," he said softly.
"How did you know that?" she asked surprised that Harry knew so much about her.
"I was there when Hermione told Fred and George how you broke into the broom shed and stole their brooms," he said smiling.
I couldn't open the broom shed the other night," Ginny said, feeling
tears spring to her eyes. "It's not like I do that well in a crisis."
"What are you talking about? You were brilliant the way you hexed that Malfoy servant and killed that snake."
"I was afraid the entire time," she confessed, not looking at him. "You were never afraid."
"How do you know that?" he asked with a queer catch in his voice.
didn't scream at that snake, you thought of a way to get away, you
chased off those Dementors and you remembered the Polyjuice potion."
shows fear differently." He shrugged. "You screamed twice and you
didn't want to hex your own brother. Don't be so hard on yourself."
sighed, feeling a great weight fall from her shoulders. Maybe that's
why she had been in such a foul mood all day – she was worried about
what Harry thought of her. "So you didn't think I was too girly?"
He frowned. "I don't know what that means exactly – and you are holding your wand and you can hex me at any given moment."
She giggled at the thought Harry could ever be afraid of her.
"I'd say that since you are a girl – you act like a girl – but not girly."
hid a smile. He was trying so hard and he had no clue what he was
saying since he never had a sister who wanted to prove herself. "That
is a good enough answer – although it makes no sense. I will therefore
let you go through another day without bat wings on your face."
He chuckled. "Excellent. I passed the test."
"Harry," she said seriously, "no one knows I'm afraid of spiders."
"No one knows about the prophecy," he answered.
caught her breath as she realized the implications. He trusted her. Not
just with that fact – but a host of others. Last night he had told her
his weaknesses – he had dared her with them – dared her to still like
him. That had taken more courage than she had given him credit for –
she really had underestimated him.
They heard a distant rumble of thunder.
"Why don't we switch?" he asked impulsively. "I can sleep on the camp bed."
"No! It's too short for you and there are spiders!"
"I don't mind spiders. I had a cozy cupboard like this when I was younger. I really don't mind." He tried to assure her.
had heard about Harry's life with the Muggles of course, but to hear
him talk about it so matter-of-factly made Ginny cold with rage. How
could anyone be so mean to a little child? "You really aren't afraid of
anything are you?" she finally asked.
"That's not true," he answered in a hard voice. "Believe me, I remember when I'm around Dementors."
couldn't imagine the horrors he must relive when he was around the
Dementors. Her memories were bad enough – and Harry had been through so
much worse; just the few things he had told her last night made her
shudder with dread. Yet he had done the Patronus Charm with no problems.
really was brave. Ginny had given up listing all of his good qualities
long ago – but courage was one that was undeniable and one she had
always known about him. The idea that he could be understanding of her
fears took her aback. And she didn't like being surprised, especially
"Do you think you could help me with the Patronus Charm while we're here?" she asked abruptly.
he answered, sounding a bit relieved. He was probably glad she hadn't
asked him about his fears. Then he added, "I think you should go to bed
"I feel terrible making you sleep out here," Ginny said, standing up.
"You're not making me. I volunteered." He stood up too to let her pass.
"I think I know your new fear," she stated. They were standing very close together in the doorway of the box room.
"What's that?" he asked, his expression closed.
"A leg of lamb you have to carve at the table," she teased.
He laughed. "Watch her bring one out tomorrow."
Ginny giggled. "It's grouse season coming up."
"There's no limit to the horrors she can come up with, is there?"
"We could introduce Lotty to vegetarian cookery."
"She'd just mold it into a tofu pheasant or something," he said with a smile.
"Then you could dismember it and tofu could take over the earth," she said wryly.
"Don't feel bad about that – you didn't know. It may not even be true."
"Right, when in doubt – stab. I think I'll stitch a sampler," Ginny said rolling her eyes.
"Rules to live by," he agreed.
"Thank you for taking the camp bed," she said earnestly looking up into his face.
flashed in his eyes, or maybe it was way the light from her wand
reflected off his glasses. "No problem," he answered softly.
was suddenly aware of her bare feet on the smooth boards and the thin
softness of the oversized t-shirt she was wearing. Even the heavy air
around her seemed caressing…
"Good night," she said hastily and hurried to the bedroom.
tossed and turned in the big comfortable bed. She pretended it was the
storm keeping her awake, but she knew it was really her conscience
bothering her. Because she was so cowardly, Harry had to spend another
night in a cupboard. But he said he didn't mind…
thoughts ran to the way he had said 'no problem.' His voice had sounded
almost… tender. She put a pillow over her head. She was not going to
start thinking like that – seeing and hearing things that just weren't
there. It was a brotherly thing to do – wasn't it? Although his tone of
voice wasn't grudging and Harry hadn't said she owed him one like her
brothers would have.
No, she thought sardonically, when Harry said 'no problem,' he really meant anything for you, Ginny – because I worship the spider-free ground you walk on. She sighed and sat up. She was being an idiot – about Harry – about spiders. We should switch back, she thought, swinging her legs off the bed and promptly hitting her head on the steeply sloping ceiling.
She sat back on the bed with a thump, rubbing her forehead. This is the limit, I really need to sleep and once my conscience is clear, I can. "Lumos," she murmured. This time she successfully navigated around the bed.
door opened noiselessly, but Ginny cringed when the wide board creaked
in the same spot as the night before. She stole quietly to the open box
room door. By the dim light of her wand she could see that Harry had
shoved the camp bed away and was sleeping on the floor – with his arm
flung out to the side. She smirked at her own foolishness. It was
obviously 'no problem' for him to sleep anywhere.