Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter
Ginny Weasley Harry Potter
Drama General
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 11/27/2004
Updated: 07/12/2005
Words: 244,604
Chapters: 33
Hits: 95,778

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Damned


Story Summary:
Seventh-year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he's hiding how much it's affecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort discovers what's in the ancient texts?

Chapter 06

Chapter Summary:
Seventh year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he’s hiding how much it’s effecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort learns of the existence of these ancient texts? Would this be HP fanfiction if it were that easy?
Author's Note:
Thanks, as always to Mistral for her tireless beta work. And a big thank you to all who take the time to review. I love to hear your comments and get your POVs.

Chapter Six


Ginny lay on the bed in her room at Grimmauld Place, angrily kicking her foot and staring at the wall. She was sick and tired of being treated like a child by the rest of her family. They acted as if she couldn't handle herself at all, when she was the only one of them that had actually come in direct contact with Tom. He may have gotten the best of her, but she'd fought him long and hard for the better part of a year - when she was eleven. She was capable of a whole lot more than they gave her credit. It was Harry who was hurting and in trouble; she should be with him. He needed her; she knew that he did, and she needed to be with him, too. They had no right to keep them apart.

This was too soon for this all to be happening to him again. He still hadn't even recovered from his last encounter. She knew the guilt would overwhelm him. The Dursleys were assassinated because of their ties to him, plain and simple. It was wrong, and unfair, and so very despicable. They were Muggles - they never stood a chance. She hated them for what they'd done to Harry, but she would never wish this on them. No one deserved to be wiped simply on the whim of a madman. Professor Dumbledore had been wrong about sending Harry back there year after year. Knowing what Harry had gone through year after year and now having it all be for naught; it was a bitter pill to swallow.

Ginny was angry and frustrated, so she began doing what she always did when she felt that way. She started rearranging her room - moving the furniture, changing the pictures on the wall, and completely reorganizing it. Her room at the Burrow had been through more transformations than she could count. This room at Grimmauld Place had gone through one complete revamping this summer alone. She had trouble moving her bureau and kicked it in frustration, stubbing her toe painfully in the process. She hopped around in her stocking feet and swore under her breath.

She was certain Ron was writing to Hermione, and she thought maybe she'd send her friend a letter, too, if Harry still wasn't here when she finished with her room. She wanted to send her new owl on a delivery, and she didn't think Ron would give all the details that she knew Hermione would want.

The owl had come as a complete surprise to Ginny, albeit a delightful one. She was inwardly pleased that Harry was thinking of her while they were apart. She'd named her Delilah and fell in love with her instantly. She was a very affectionate little thing, and Pig adored her. Ginny had never had a pet of her own before, and it made her feel oddly important.

She finished moving all the furniture in her bedroom around and stood looking at the results. She wasn't certain if she really liked it this way or not. It was still eerily quiet downstairs, and she uttered a string of curse words that would have made her brothers proud, although shocked that they were coming from her. How dare they leave me out of this? She knew they were all truly trying to protect Harry, but they continued to treat him like an object rather than as a person. That wasn't what he needed, and she knew it. She also really resented being treated like a child. There were times when she liked being the youngest and wasn't opposed to playing it up to get what she wanted, but there were other times when it drove her crazy. She wanted it both ways and really didn't give a rat's arse if that was unfair. What the devil is taking so long?

Loud voices from the entrance hall caught her attention, and she tore her door open and raced downstairs, hearing Ron following right on her heels. She arrived to find her mother trying to clear a path out of the room while Bill and Remus carried an unconscious Harry between them. He looked horribly pale and battered with bloodstains still covering most of his clothing.

"Let me levitate him up the stairs," her mother offered, but Remus nearly snarled at her as he held Harry's limp body closer to his chest.

"It's all right, Mum," Bill said, glancing at Remus. "We've got him. Madam Pomfrey said not to bounce him around too much."

Ginny knew that carrying him was probably bouncing him much more than a Levitation Charm would, but even she didn't have the courage to say that to Remus. He had a gleam in his eyes that looked almost deranged, and she knew he was beside himself with worry. She couldn't blame him for wanting to hold Harry close and physically protect him; she was struggling with the exact same feeling. She could see Tonks watching Remus carefully, the concern in her eyes evident. Her eyes met with Ginny's across the room, and she gave a brief nod of understanding.

Ginny swallowed against a hard lump in her throat, a new appreciation for how difficult a night it had been for all of them filling her consciousness. She jumped at the sound of Ron's voice; she'd forgotten he'd come down the stairs behind her. "How is he?"

Neither Bill nor Remus answered but continued up the stairs towards Harry's room, supporting his body between them.

"He's still the same," Fred said, leaning against the wall. Both he and George looked thoroughly exhausted, and Ginny paled to see that they had blood covering their clothing, as well. They didn't appear to be injured, so she assumed the blood belonged to Harry.

Ron, Ginny, and their mother followed the group upstairs; each lost in their own thoughts. Bill and Remus had lain Harry in his bed, but it appeared he hadn't stirred at all despite all the jostling.

"Oh, the poor dear," her mother said, gently brushing the fringe off Harry's forehead. One of his eyes was puffy, and a deep bruise ran along his cheekbone and down the side of his face. His lips were cracked and swollen. "Has he woken at all?"

"No," Bill said. "Madam Pomfrey gave him another dose of the Blood Replenishing Potion before she left. She said she'd be here in the morning to check on him. She wanted to bring him to Hogwarts, but Remus thought he'd be better off here, and I agreed with him. I think Harry is going to take the Dursleys' deaths badly."

"Why should he, though? He hated them. Look what the bastard did to him," Ron said, staring at the vivid bruises on Harry's face. His voice sounded very hard and bitter; Ginny found it disturbing.

"He never wanted them dead, Ron," she said, gently sitting on the edge of Harry's bed and taking his limp hand in her own. "He just wanted to leave and not have to go back, but he would never wish this on anyone. It is going to bother him; you know it is."

Ron looked away without replying, but Ginny saw his shoulders slump slightly. It was in Ron's nature to be protective, and she loved that he watched out for Harry.

"What are we supposed to do for him? When will he wake up, and did Poppy leave anything for him if he's in pain?" her mother asked, keeping her eyes locked with Bill's and not looking at Harry.

Ginny knew the physical evidence of his uncle's abuse was greatly disturbing her mother. She was certain that her mum was berating herself for not insisting that Harry be taken out of that house. Her mum had struggled against Professor Dumbledore's insistence that they not interfere with the Muggles. Ginny could sympathize with her on those thoughts, and she was sure her mum would have a lot to say to Professor Dumbledore when he arrived. What Ginny didn't understand was why they were all whispering if they wanted Harry to wake up, anyway. But she couldn't help whispering, too; it seemed like the natural thing to do.

"Poppy doesn't think he'll wake any time soon, and she said she would be here in the morning with his next dose of potions," Remus said. His voice was calm and gentle, but his eyes looked so full of turmoil. Ginny was struck by a similarity to Harry - always keeping his emotions in such tight control.

"Are you all right, Remus?" Ginny asked.

He sighed, but gave her a small, grateful smile. "I'll be all right, Ginny. I wish we could have spared him this. Madam Pomfrey says she can't understand how he was still on his feet when Tonks found him. The amount of blood loss he sustained should have had him unconscious long before he finally passed out. She's at a loss to explain how he didn't die before Tonks finally got him back to Mrs. Figg's."

Ginny shuddered and grasped Harry's hand more tightly, the words of the prophecy playing in her mind. If Harry was the only one who could kill Voldemort, did that mean that only Voldemort could kill Harry, as well? She didn't know, and she certainly didn't want to keep testing the theory.

Harry stirred just then, his head giving a slight turn as his eyebrows furrowed. He whimpered slightly before settling into a deep sleep once again. Everyone in the room had tensed and stared expectantly at him. When he didn't move again, they released a collective breath.

"Bill, Remus, both of you look dead on your feet. Go on up to your rooms and lie down; I'll send up some tea," her mother said.

Remus seemed reluctant to leave, but, casting one last look at Harry's sleeping face, he relented. He gave Ron and Ginny a nod that seemed to say, 'Take care of him', and followed Bill from the room.

Ron sat down on his bed and looked over at her with a shrug. They continued to stare at Harry, willing him to wake up and tell them he was all right.

"We've been doing this a lot this year," Ron finally said.

"Too much," Ginny agreed.

The door opened with a creak, and Fred and George walked in, both dragging their feet. George sat next to Ron on his bed, while Fred remained standing, looking very uncomfortable.

"Are you two all right?" Ginny asked. She'd never before seen the two of them so lifeless.

"Yeah, just tired," George replied. "We've got the rest of Harry's stuff downstairs with Dobby. We managed to get it all out before the Muggle pleaze-men arrived."

Fred just stood in the same spot, staring at Harry with an unfathomable expression.

"What's with him?" Ron asked, nodding his head towards Fred.

"Just this morning, we were talking with Harry about how he never said anything about the nightmares he's been having," Fred answered for himself, never taking his eyes off of Harry. "I joked with him about how he always says he's fine, and that if he were bleeding all over the floor, he wouldn't want to trouble anyone to clean it up. That's exactly what I ended up doing tonight at Mrs. Figg's."

Ginny's heart went out to her brother, seeing the regret on his face. While growing up with the twins' joking, there had been plenty of times she'd got so frustrated with them and wished they'd take something seriously. Watching Fred's devastation over the joke he'd made, she took all that back. She wanted the twins to be fun-loving and mischievous. They all needed their jokes now.

"Don't blame yourself, Fred. You couldn't have known," she said, squeezing Fred's shoulder. "I'm certain Harry thought it was very funny, actually, because it's true. He always appreciates the humor in a situation."

"I've never seen so much blood in my life," Fred whispered.

Ginny took his arm and began guiding him from the room in much the same way her mother had done to Bill and Remus. "Come on, off to bed with you. Harry is going to be okay, and things will look brighter in the morning." They all went to bed; each silently praying that Ginny's words would come true.

It was three days later when Harry finally regained consciousness. They had all taken turns sitting with him so he wouldn't be alone when he woke up, and Ginny was grateful that it was her shift when his eyes finally fluttered open. He'd been tossing and turning for several hours, so they suspected he might be close to waking. He was still unnaturally pale, but the wound on his side had finally healed. His depleted magical reserves were, once again, having a hard time letting his body heal. Madam Pomfrey had done nothing for the marks on his neck and face, instead concentrating solely on the more pressing injury along his side. The curse had opened him from his shoulder down to just below his hip, and Madam Pomfrey said there would always be a slight scar. The image of Vernon Dursley's handprint around Harry's neck had caused all of them to shudder in impotent fury at various times during their shifts.

Ginny was sitting in a chair next to his bed, holding Harry's hand, when he once again began tossing his head back and forth, muttering incoherently. He was lying on his side curled up in a ball; he'd slept like that the entire time he'd been at Grimmauld Place.

"Shh, it's all right, luv. I'm right here; you're safe. Are you ready to come back to us yet, Harry?" she asked him. She'd been talking to him like this for days, just as she'd done back in the hospital wing before the end of term.

Harry's eyes fluttered until finally she saw his green orbs gazing back at her in confusion. Ginny's heart soared, and she leapt off her chair, throwing her arms around him. "Oh, Harry, I'm so happy you're awake. You've got to stop doing this to me; it's getting old."

He licked his dry lips and squinted as his hand began feeling around the bed, as if looking for something. "Where did the dog go?" he croaked.

"Dog? What dog? I think you were dreaming, Harry," she said in confusion. There certainly had been no dog at Grimmauld Place, not for over a year, anyway.

"He was here," Harry said, becoming frantic. He tried to sit up but was unable to do it, his hands still searching for the missing dog.

Ginny became alarmed. She reached over and grabbed his hands to still them. "Harry, calm down. There's no dog. You're here at Grimmauld Place; you've been unconscious for the past three days. Do you remember how you got here?"

She watched as he furrowed his brow in confusion, trying to grasp what had happened. A brief series of emotions crossed his face as he remembered. His hand instinctively kept searching for the dog, and she wondered if he'd been dreaming of Sirius. He seemed desperate for the comfort for which he would never ask. She edged closer to him, but he curled back into himself, obviously not wanting to be touched.

"Harry," she ventured. "Tell me what you're thinking."

"The Dursleys are dead," he said. It was a statement, not a question, and said in a flat, lifeless tone.

"Yes, they are. I'm sorry, Harry."

He didn't move, and his expression never changed; he lay there stiffly, and his eyes seemed very far away. "I shouldn't have left. I should've argued more with him about leaving."

Ginny swallowed. "It's not your fault, Harry. You didn't do any of this."

"How can you say that?" he said, rounding on her. "They're Muggles, Muggles who wanted nothing to do with the wizarding world. Their importance on Voldemort's hit list was directly tied to me. There are a lot of other people, wizards and Muggles alike, who would have been higher on the list if it weren't for their connection to me."

He was furious, and his outburst winded him. She struggled with her own irritation; she wanted to shake him by the shoulders and make him understand that it wasn't his fault, but he wasn't ready to hear what she had to say. She fought to control her temper by digging her nails into the flesh of her thigh. Gritting her teeth and desperate to change the subject, she said, "Dobby is okay; he's been helping Mum downstairs."

"Hedwig?" Harry asked in alarm, and she shut her eyes in dread. She'd hoped to avoid that subject a while longer.

"She's most likely fine, luv."

Harry's breathing became labored again as he tried to rise from the bed. "What do you mean? Where is she?"

Ginny pushed him back down and took his hand in her own. Gently, she began rubbing his cold hands in her own. "We haven't seen her since the attack, but she wasn't in the house when the Order went through. She'll be back; she's probably off hunting."

Harry stopped struggling, but he wouldn't open his eyes. "Is Remus here?" he asked in a very strangled voice.

"He's been sitting with you the whole time, Harry. But he isn't here now; it's a full moon. He'll be back tomorrow, and you can see him." Ginny watched as he bit his lip, despair seeming to cross his entire face. She was at a loss on how to help him and began to feel slightly useless.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to feel," he whispered.

"What do you mean?"

"I didn't love them. I don't know if I even care that they're gone. What kind of person doesn't feel anything when all their last blood relatives are killed?" he asked, keeping his eyes closed and his body huddled towards the wall and away from her.

Ginny climbed onto the bed with him, lying alongside him and wrapping her arms around his stiff shoulders. He didn't respond at all. "It makes you human, Harry. They weren't very nice to you; they were downright cruel, actually. I wouldn't expect that you'd feel any profound sense of loss."

"But...they were what I had...I should care. How does that make me any different?" His voice was so low she had to struggle to hear it.

"Harry, they locked you in a cupboard when you were a baby; it would be extremely unusual if they were your favorite people. It's the fact that you're even concerned about it that shows how different you are. Tom killed his family with his own wand, and I highly doubt there was even a moment of regret," Ginny said fiercely, her eyes flashing with her determination. She wasn't about to let him slip down this road again.

"I'm tired, Ginny, and I think I'd like to be alone for a while," he said in a weary voice, edging closer to the wall and further away from her. "Do you mind giving me a little time to think?"

"Yes, Harry, I do mind," she said, startling him. He turned his head to look at her with wide eyes. "I'll be quiet and give you all the rest and silence you need, but I'm not leaving you alone. You've been alone too much already, and I haven't seen that it's done you any good. I'm not going away; I'll just sit here and be quiet...and you know how difficult that can be for me."

He continued to blink like an owl, as if he didn't know what to say. She settled herself in and shut her eyes still holding him tightly. He remained very stiff and unmoving for quite some time. Eventually, she felt his body relax and soon he was breathing deeply, asleep again. It was only once he was asleep that he curled his body towards her, seeking her warmth. She lay with him for quite some time, offering what comfort she could, before untangling herself and kissing him on the head. She went downstairs to let the others know he'd regained consciousness. She had the unsettling feeling that this was going to be a long recovery.

When Harry awoke again, the room was very dim, and he didn't know how long he'd been sleeping. Ginny was gone, but he could hear Ron's snores coming from the other bed across the room. As he lay there, his mind drifted back to Privet Drive and all that had happened. He thought he'd just finally made a connection with Dudley, but that was never going to be. Neither can live while the other survives...

He should have known to be suspicious whenever anything seemed to be working out for the better by now. He'd been sickened when the jet of deathly green light had struck Uncle Vernon, but had felt no great sense of loss.

It had been different when it happened to Aunt Petunia. She was his mother's sister - his mother, who sang him lullabies, and smiled when she danced, and had died to save him. Aunt Petunia was her sister. It wasn't like there was any love between he and his aunt, but, still, she was the last little bit of his mother he had, and now he'd lost that, too. Not only lost it, but it was entirely his fault...again. He felt like he'd killed the last little bit of her that had managed to survive.

Harry's chest constricted tightly, and he wished Remus were here. He didn't even know what he expected him to say, but he had known Harry's mother, and he was the only way Harry could feel that connection. And he really wanted it right now...wanted to know somehow, that she wouldn't think it was his fault.

Ginny said it wasn't, but he couldn't help the huge stone of guilt that was pressing on his heart. This had to end. The Dursleys weren't a threat to Voldemort; killing them was so unnecessary. He had to talk to Dumbledore. Professor Dumbledore had always insisted he had to go back, that he was safe there. Nothing felt particularly safe at the moment. Harry felt the need to do something. If the Headmaster would give his permission for Harry to start practicing his magic again, he wanted to step up his training. He'd used some magic on Privet Drive, and some of it had worked - that had to be an improvement. He needed to step up the pace and end this thing with Voldemort, once and for all. Too many lives had been sacrificed already, and Harry wasn't willing to let any of the people he had left be next. That wasn't going to happen.

The next few days passed in a blur for Harry. Everyone was in and out, offering condolences and wishes for a speedy recovery. He wanted them all to disappear. He never knew what to say when they told him they were sorry about the Dursleys. He knew they weren't. He wasn't even certain he was. He and Dudley had made a few steps, but not enough even to call it a relationship. He still wasn't positive that Dudley hadn't been setting him up. It wouldn't have been the first time. Still...he couldn't help but wonder, and he supposed he always would.

He felt like everyone in the house was watching him, and it made him extremely self-conscious. He didn't know what they expected from him. He'd never wanted the Dursleys to die; he'd just wanted to live away from them. He didn't know what kind of person he was that he didn't feel anything but guilt over their deaths. Certainly, he should feel some regret; he'd been with them since before he could remember. He hated that everyone was watching him while he figured it all out. Although he tried to nod and pretend he was listening to everyone, his smile was forced, and he was aware that they all knew it.

Remus came by the day after the full moon, looking tired and drawn, but delighted to see that Harry was awake. He, too, told Harry that it wasn't his fault, and that Lily was smart enough to know exactly whom to blame. He also gently reminded Harry that a little bit of Lily did still go on - in him. This made him feel a little better, but not much. He was so angry, and he didn't know where to direct it.

Somehow, Remus always seemed to be able to look inside and know exactly what Harry was feeling. He suspected that Remus might have some natural Legilimency skills of his own. Harry enjoyed spending time with him, and at least a little bit of the anger and confusion he was feeling seemed to evaporate when he was with Remus. He'd made certain that Harry got a Dreamless Sleep Potion every few days, as well.

Ron hadn't said anything about Harry's nightmares, but Harry had been up enough during the early morning hours to know that Ron was having his own sleeping issues. He rarely went to bed before three and tossed and turned when he finally did. Harry had been leaving an Everlasting Candle burning each night when he retired, and it was always still lit in the morning. He'd wondered if Remus had talked to Ron about Harry's problem, but was too embarrassed to ask. It could just be that Ron was oblivious when he finally stumbled to bed. Either way, Harry was grateful that he hadn't made an issue of Harry's wanting the light.

Every day, since shortly after he awoke he'd be up and walking around, although his side ached painfully when he did. Madam Pomfrey had nixed his idea of practicing any magic until September, saying that he was back to square one in his recovery. This worried Harry greatly, as it meant Voldemort was now better off than he was. Technically, Harry would be seventeen at the end of the month and legally able to use his magic, but Madam Pomfrey insisted he had to wait until September.

He didn't know where he'd be spending the rest of the summer. Dumbledore had sent him a message that he was working on a safe house; he didn't trust the security of Grimmauld Place, now that the blood protection was null and void. He was slightly alarmed by the letter, but Mrs. Weasley assured him that wherever he was going, the rest of the Weasleys were going, as well. That made him feel a little better, although he wished Dumbledore would just give him a straight answer. He could sense that Mrs. Weasley didn't appear very happy with the headmaster, either.

He'd spent much of his time while at Grimmauld Place observing Ron. Harry couldn't do much, since he hadn't completely recovered physically. He mostly sat in the drawing room with whoever was at Headquarters at the time. Ron and Ginny kept him company, and Harry had immediately noticed what Ginny was talking about regarding Ron. He lost his temper frequently, which was normal for Ron, but there was more of a snide, biting edge to his comments that was very unlike him.

He took most of his aggression out on Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, and his brothers, although Harry had started receiving his fair share of it, as well. Only Mr. Weasley seemed to escape the brunt of it. Harry had watched Mr. Weasley play chess with Ron each night and noticed how he tried calmly and very innocently to turn the conversation towards Ron's anger. Harry had felt a bit envious of the relationship he saw between father and son, but kept scolding himself for it. It wasn't that he was unhappy Ron had that, it was just he wished for a bit of it, too. It made him wonder what his own relationship with his father would have been like if he had lived.

Harry often found himself dozing off on the couch, and he suspected Mrs. Weasley had left strict orders not to disturb him if he did. He woke up one evening to find his head lying in Ginny's lap while she calmly read a book. Mr. Weasley and Ron played chess, and the twins worked on some papers all in the same room. He knew none of them had been there when he fell asleep, and his head certainly hadn't been resting on Ginny's lap. He was mortified it had been there with them all watching. Ginny just laughed at his embarrassment, while the twins waggled their eyebrows, and Mr. Weasley smiled an odd, knowing smile. Ron ignored the whole thing.

Harry was again propped up in the drawing room; Ginny had gone upstairs to do some homework. He knew he should be doing his, as well - he had a stack of it - but lacked the energy. Ron entered the room and plopped down beside him.

"Finally decided to wake up again?" he asked, and Harry thought his voice sounded rather grumpy.

"Sorry if that bothers you," he said sarcastically.

"What?" Ron asked, his brow knitted in confusion. "No, oi, sorry, Harry. I don't mean to take it out on you. There is an Order meeting going on downstairs, and they completely shut me out - big surprise. Before the door shut, I heard them say something about the Malfoys."

"Malfoys? Well, they must mean Narcissa. What's she up to now?" Harry asked, sitting up straighter.

"Dunno. They cast an Imperceptible Charm before I heard any more. Somehow, I don't think it was Narcissa they were talking about, though. Although I suppose it has to be, she's the only one left. Tonks and I saw to that."

Harry jerked his head to look into Ron's eyes. Ron hadn't brought this up with him since he'd been at Grimmauld Place, and Harry was startled that he was doing it now. "Ron, it was a duel...there are always risks."

Ron's lips thinned much the same way as Bill's did when he was angry. "I know that; it doesn't change anything."

"Look...um...I can't say that I know how you feel - and I won't, because it drives me batty when people who have no idea what I'm feeling say that to me. But I do know the feeling that the whole world is crashing around you and being unable to do anything to stop it. It makes you feel so...powerless...it's not good," Harry said, searching for the right words.

Ron was staring at him with wide, stunned eyes. "Yeah," he whispered in a strange, strangled kind of voice.

Before he could say another word, Ginny came in, wearing a huge smile. She was obviously pleased to find them both here. "Harry, you're awake. I came down a little while ago, but you looked so peaceful, I didn't want to disturb you. I had to do an essay for Snape instead," she said, grimacing in distaste.

"I've got to finish a letter to Hermione," Ron said, standing up. "She's worried about you, mate; you should write her."

Harry lowered his head in shame. He hadn't written to Hermione since he'd awoken. "Yeah. Tell her I'm okay, and I'll write. When will she be here?"

"Dunno. As soon as she's back from her trip, I suppose. She can't say directly in a letter. I know she wanted to cut it short when you got hurt, but Dumbledore wouldn't let her. Just as well. She needed to spend some time with her parents."

Harry nodded absently as Ron left the room. Ginny was rubbing his neck and working out some of the tension there. It felt wonderful, and he found himself relaxing and letting her fingers work their magic. Where did she learn to do this? It felt amazing. He really hadn't been fair to Ginny these past few days. She was only trying to help him; he'd have to make that up to her.

"That feels good, Ginny," he said, gasping as she reached a tough knot.

"Sorry," Ginny said quickly, softening her touch. "Madam Pomfrey lent me a book, and it showed how to do this."

"It feels very nice." It didn't take long for Harry to feel completely relaxed. He shut his eyes and let his head roll to his chest while Ginny worked.

"Harry," she said, "did your uncle throw you out the night Privet Drive was attacked?"

Harry started in surprise at the unexpected question. She continued her soothing massage until he relaxed again. He really didn't want her to stop, and he'd just decided that he owed her, so he answered truthfully. "Yeah. He found me in Dudley's room with the Firebolt."

"The Firebolt? What on earth where you doing?"

"Dudley asked me a question about Quidditch. We just got to talking. He finally got a date with Veronica...I wonder if anyone told her?" Harry said in sudden concern.

"I'm certain she knows," Ginny said soothingly. "So, your uncle found you in there?"

"Yeah...er, he was rather cross about it."

"Is that when he hit you?" she asked bluntly.

Harry hesitated for a minute, but found he suddenly did want to talk to her about this, but only her. He peered around to make certain no one was listening at the door. "Actually, he shouted a lot first and sent Dudley downstairs. I should have ducked like I always did, but he caught me off guard. I crashed into the desk and broke Dudley's computer. Dudley would have been angry about that...er, never mind. Uncle Vernon said to get out, and I didn't really know what I should do. I was going to go to Mrs. Figg's and see if Dumbledore could fix things with Aunt Petunia again, but I never made it there." Harry shuddered, thinking about what had happened after that, and Ginny continued to gently knead the knots in his neck.

"Did he do that a lot?" she whispered.

"What, throw me out? He only tried one other time - the night the Dementors came."

"No. You said you usually ducked," she prompted.

Harry was getting uncomfortable again, but Remus's words about talking about things rang in his mind. Remus had been trying to get him to talk for days. He sighed and forced himself to continue. "Not so much, anymore...a lot when I was younger. I...er...was always pretty fast and could get away. He, um, usually didn't chase me."

Ginny was very quiet for several minutes and didn't ask any more questions. Harry remained still, enjoying the continued pressure on his neck. After a while, he turned to face Ginny and was startled to find tears streaking her face. "I'm so sorry, Harry," she whispered brokenly before beginning to sob openly.

"Ginny," he said, stunned. He reached around and pulled her onto the couch with him, wrapping her in his arms and letting her cry on his shoulder.

"I hate the way...sniff...the way you talk about it so calmly...sniff. I hate that you seem to think it's acceptable," she cried.

Harry was at a loss for what to say. He just kept stroking her hair, loving the luxurious feel of it between his fingers. "Don't cry, Ginny. Everything is okay; it's over now."

"It never should have been that way. I hate that we all celebrated the victory of the Boy-Who-Lived, and no one ever knew what really became of you. I hate that," Ginny spat.

Harry felt his heart warm slightly by her words. He'd been feeling so numb and distant from everyone, but Ginny's blatant concern for him touched him deeply. She loved him, and all was not lost. He snuggled into her neck and began trailing kisses beneath her ear when the sound of a throat clearing in the doorway startled them both.

He and Ginny sprang apart, and Harry nearly went sprawling off the couch and onto the floor when he saw Professor Dumbledore standing there with his eyes twinkling.

"Good evening, Harry, Miss Weasley," he said, nodding to each of them. "I am sorry to interrupt. Although I fear my presence will not be nearly as pleasant a distraction as yours, Miss Weasley, I need to take up a few moments of Harry's time."

Ginny blushed to the roots of her hair, gave Harry an apologetic smile, and nearly sprinted from the room without a word to Professor Dumbledore.


. Harry turned towards Professor Dumbledore, his stomach clenching. Somehow, he didn't think the Headmaster was going to say anything he particularly wanted to hear. He'd much rather spend the time doing what he was doing with Ginny, but he didn't see a choice in the matter.

"Hello, Professor. D'you want to sit down?"

Author notes: A/N: Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Boldog Karacsony…however you say the words – enjoy! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with friends and family. I’m hoping my muse will return, he’s been on permanent hiatus since my return from Disney. I hope the January doldrums will stir him up. Thanks goodness that I’m ahead of you by a few chapters or I’d really be panicking now that we have a release date. I’ve got until July 16 to finish this story before JKR comes along and makes it all AU.

Thanks for all the comments on my Christmas oneshot, No Place Like Home. A bit of a change of pace for me, but I was feeling warm and cheery. To those who inquired about the Pumpkin Pie reference, the H/Hr shippers refer to their ship as the S.S. Pumpkin Pie. Bleck.