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A Questionable Encounter

More Harry/Ginny goodness.
Summary: The war rages on around a chance encounter in a dark room where questions need to be answered.
Genre: Angst, Romance
Rating: PG-13 ish
Warnings: Post-HBP (as if you haven't read it already)

A Questionable Encounter

He was tired. It had been a long day, a long night, and from his last look at a clock it was technically day again. It was 2:00 am when he Apparated to the back room of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. They were running out of Instant Darkness Powder, Hermione had lost her Shield Cloak when a Death Eater ripped it off of her, and they had used their last Decoy Detonator getting out of that particularly nasty scrape. Harry had left Hermione mending a badly cut and bruised Ron in the cellar of what used to be his parents’ home in Godric’s Hollow. There was no floo connection left there and the lights could not be seen from the grass and weed covered mound of rubble. They would be safe there until he returned with what they needed.

The Burrow was being watched by the Ministry and had been since the three of them had not returned to Hogwarts in September. Harry knew for a fact that there were at least two non-Order Aurors on duty there tonight. He knew because Hedwig had come to him at sunrise with a small piece of green yarn tied to one of her legs. A piece of green yarn with a long red hair wound tightly at one end: Ginny’s. She had taken to doing that exactly three strands of yarn ago. So now, nestled in the pocket of Harry’s muggle jeans were a yellow, green and blue strand of yarn. Each strand wound tightly with one silken floss of living flame.

It wasn’t safe, Harry knew. Those small pieces of her could be the last ingredient in a deadly Polyjuice Potion if Hedwig was intercepted. But he had no way to tell her to stop, until tonight. It was written in the note he was leaving in the hiding place in the back room. He had thought often in the past few weeks that he should burn the ones that he had now. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. They were little pieces of another life when he had been happy and comforted; when he had slept in beds and eaten in Great Halls, when he and those he cared for had some semblance of safety.

Harry cinched the top of the first rucksack as tightly as he could to keep the detonators from trying to get out, and turned to tap the loose floor board in the corner. It was there that Fred and George would place more practical items, and it was there that he would leave the note. The note that said they were all safe and not to worry no matter what the Prophet said had happened. The note that begged Ginny to stop sending herself to Harry in tiny bits. As he reached into his back pocket to retrieve the small parchment, Harry froze. There were foot steps in the front of the shop, foot steps that did not want to be heard.

Harry’s wand was in his hand as he spun quickly and quietly to face the secret door that lead into the back room. He didn’t want to hex Fred or George into oblivion, but he couldn’t be sure it was one of the twins. Harry held his breath as he heard the footsteps stop.


~*~*~*~

Ginny had sent Hedwig back to her master that morning, before her mother could wake as see the owl. Ginny had caressed the snowy owl and tied the strand of green yarn lovingly around the proffered leg. Ginny had watched silently as Hedwig took off into the rising sun, taking another piece of her to Harry. She then slipped back into bed to feign sleep as she heard her mother’s footsteps on the stairs. Ginny had been rushed that morning and flooed off to her brother’s flat just after breakfast. Her father was at work until all hours now, and her mother had something to do overnight for the Order and refused to leave Ginny home alone.

When her brother Ron left with Harry earlier that summer, Mrs. Weasley had made an executive decision: Ginny was staying home from school. Oddly, Ginny had not fought this. She felt she would be closer to the action if she was at home, that she would know more and they would be less able to keep things from her here. She welcomed it really, and there was always the chance that Harry, Ron and Hermione might stop by just long enough to know that they were safe, that Harry was safe.

And so she had become an informant of sorts. Ginny had nicked small pieces of yarn from her mother’s copious supplies. Every week she would let them know by color who would be watching over the Burrow. The Ministry said that it was a safety precaution, but Ginny knew, as they all did, that it was only because the Ministry wanted to know what Harry was up to. Only Gryffindor red was safe, and she held longingly to the hope that soon it would be a red piece of yarn that was sent away on Hedwig’s journey to where ever it was that Harry happened to be now.

So, that night, Ginny was tossing and turning on the couch in her twin brothers’ flat above their store, instead of her own bed at the Burrow. She had helped in the shop all day, stocking shelves, checking out customers and in one glorious moment getting to jinx a 13 year-old girl trying to make off with a love potion. She had been as safe as Weasley child could be under the watchful and protective eyes of her twin brothers. It had kept her body busy and her mind occupied; at least until she lay down and tried to sleep.

Sleep was not coming any easier as the war waged on. There were days when she could push herself to physical exhaustion working around the house, cleaning things “the hard way,” or on her lessons which she received by owl from Hogwarts. The only exception being DADA, and Ginny now had a trained Auror as a teacher for that. Tonks came by as often as she could to make sure that Ginny would not fall behind in her studies, and more importantly that Ginny knew how to keep herself alive.

Ginny sighed and realized that it was probably getting closer to sunrise than she really wanted to think about, when she heard something downstairs. She lay as still as she could and held her breath. Yes, there was definitely someone downstairs. She gripped her wand beneath her pillow and strained her ears. From what she could hear it seemed that there was only one someone downstairs and that someone was in the back room of the shop, just below her makeshift bed on the couch.

Ginny concentrated hard and cast a Cushioning Charm on the floor to mask her foot falls. Her bare feet made their way silently across the room as she slipped her dressing gown over her night gown. She steadied her breathing and began to descend the stairs. She could hear the sound of someone moving and what seemed the cinch of a rucksack. She approached the hidden door to the back room with the thought of “stupefy first, ask questions later” on her mind.

Ginny held her breath as she raised her wand to open the hidden door to the shop’s back room.

~*~*~*~*~

The door swung open.

They stood still as statues, each one’s wand inches from the other’s heart. Adrenalin was racing and blood pounding in two sets of ears, as two minds tried to comprehend what was in front of them. Neither one breathed. Ginny’s mind was reeling as she stared into those familiar green eyes, trying to decide if they really did belong to the person they seemed to. Harry could see the cold calculation in the brown eyes staring back at him and met it with his own mind running through the possibilities that the situation presented to him. Their wands did not move.

Each took a breath, barely moving as they did. Ginny smelled sulfur, dirt, sweat and an unmistakably male scent that she knew all too well, and her heart seemed to fly to her throat. Harry inhaled her uniquely floral scent and felt the long dormant beast in his chest roar to life, as if it were tearing at the shackles it had been bound by for too long. Each wand dropped by a barely perceptible fraction of an inch.

Harry felt as if his heart was being shredded by razor sharp claws. His mind went to the strands of yarn in his pocket. Could he be sure that he had received every one that she had sent? Could he know for sure that this was Ginny holding him at wand point in the near darkness? The beast in his chest was growling for her to be in his arms, shrieking to be satisfied with kissing her and crushing her to him. But he was the marked man, and she was his greatest weakness.

Ginny wanted desperately to believe that what she was seeing was real. That it really was Harry standing in front of her, not an imposter. She wanted nothing more than to lower her wand and throw herself into his arms, feel him warm and real and alive. Her body was reacting almost violently to the possibility of touching him, kissing him, feeling his arms around her. But there was a war, she was a target, and this could be a trap.

Harry exhaled slowly and then focused all of his strength into keeping the beast at bay until he could be sure that it was her. He swallowed and spoke.

“Tell me something only you would know.” His voice was amazingly steady as the words left his mouth, and his eyes did not move from hers. She did not blink, but she too swallowed.

“I am never allowed to Bat Bogey Hex Bill.” Ginny said slowly, “Why not?” She countered at him watching his reaction carefully.

“Because he is the one who taught you how to do it in the first place,” Harry felt his lips threaten to curl into a smile as he spoke, “And he made you promise.” The wands both dropped slightly as he spoke. “What was so strange about my 16th birthday?”

“It was the only one when you had a birthday party,” Ginny felt the tension easing from between them and took a deep cleansing breath. “But you might have had a party when you were one, no one ever told you if you did or not.” They each took a tiny step forward. “How do I check for Imperturbable Charms?”

“You throw Dung Bombs at the door,” Harry felt a smile stretch his chapped lips as corners of Ginny’s mouth threatened to rise. “And then you blame it on Crookshanks.”
Harry felt the tension easing slowly out of his body. “Where did I always hide important stuff at school?”

“Rolled up in your least favorite pair of socks,” Ginny smiled, “usually the ones that used to be your uncle’s.” She inched forward studying his face more in wonder than suspicion. “What did Ron get for Christmas from his girlfriend?”

“A necklace that said ‘My Sweetheart,’” Harry was taken aback; he didn’t think that Ron had ever told Ginny about that. He almost raised his wand again. “How did you know that?”

“He stashed it in a box in his closet, so the twins wouldn’t find it.” Ginny replied triumphantly. “That is where he puts everything that he doesn’t want them to find.” She smirked at Harry and winked. “What is my father’s greatest ambition?”

“To find out how airplanes stay up,” Harry answered thankful that she had not asked about the other comment that he had heard that night in the Weasleys’ kitchen. He changed the line of questioning quickly. “What is my favorite dessert?”

“Treacle tart.” She was sure that it was him now. She had seen him blush and she knew that he had over heard the other half of her parents’ questions. She decided to get a bit more personal. “How many freckles are on the back of my right shoulder?”

“Five, unless you have been out in the sun a lot,” Harry felt a rumble in his chest as he thought back to her bare shoulders. “I can connect the dots and make a star,” he whispered, almost reverently. Their wand arms relaxed and fell to their sides and they stepped closer to each other as Harry continued. “What other scar do I have?”

“The back of your right hand says ‘I will not tell lies.’” Ginny felt tears welling up in her eyes. “But you have never lied to me.” He was here right in front of her and she couldn’t understand why she was not yet touching him. Their faces were barely inches apart. “What do I want to do right now?”

Harry did not answer, he simply licked his lips and there was the soft clatter of two wands dropping to the floor. Ginny was in his arms and her lips open were under his. She wrapped her arms around him, crushing his body to hers as Harry kissed her fiercely. He lifted her up until her feet were no longer on the ground and she instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist. Her hands were fisted in his hair as he sank to his knees, and then they were on the dingy floor of the back room: a tangle of seeking hands and kisses.

It was as if an afternoon’s worth of summer sunshine had exploded in Harry’s mind. Ginny felt as if she was going to cry with joy from the closeness. His calloused hands were finding her soft warm skin and it was as if the war, the whole world, had stopped for them. But after several long life-affirming moments, Harry made himself draw away while he still had the capability to do so. He rolled to his back drawing Ginny to his side, just holding her tightly, breathing raggedly. Ginny clung to his warmth there on the floor; her head nestled on Harry’s rapidly rising and falling chest. Two hands were entwined and two hearts were beating wildly, trying not to break.

“I’ve got to go, Ginny. I have to get back.”

“I know, Harry, I know you do.” They rose in silence and picked up their fallen wands. Ginny helped Harry pack the second rucksack in near silence. He threw both over one shoulder and took her hand.

“Ginny, you can’t put strands of hair on the yarn, it isn’t safe.” Harry looked down pain etched on his face. Again he was walking away from his comfort, and telling her she could not send him the small tokens that he had been clinging to for such a short time.

“But I can leave things for you here,” she said simply, gesturing to the hiding space in the floor. “I’ll do it myself when Mum lets me come. I won’t even tell the twins. I promise.” Harry nodded, conceding her this, and wanting it at the same time himself. He walked her back through the darkened shop and up the stairs to the door of twins’ flat. He held her close to him, inhaling deeply the flowery scent of hope, and then whispered in her ear.

“Ginny, there is something I need to tell you that you don’t know about me.” She seemed to stiffen slightly in his arms, but still clung to him. Each of them again seemed to be holding their breath, as Harry got up his courage to continue. There were several things that Ginny did not know. She did not know about the prophecy. She did not know about the Horcruxes. She did not know that she had carried a piece of Voldemort’s soul in her rucksack for the better part of a year when she was eleven. She did not know that Harry had vowed to kill Voldemort or die trying. She did not know how likely it would be that he would never be able to return to her and have the life he wanted. But there was something even more important than all of this that she did not know. And she deserved to know, he deserved to be able to tell her. “I love you.”

It was a whisper against her ear, and she refused to cry. She refused to think that she would never again be ‘part of someone else’s life.’ She refused to think that she would not have all the time in the world to convince Harry that he deserved that life with her. She refused to believe that he would not win this war. Instead she believed what he said to her, there in the early morning hours, in the hallway of her brother’s flat. She believed it because it was not a surprise to her; she had felt it for sometime now. And she knew, better than she knew anything else about herself or Harry, that she felt the same way about him. So, she simply answered back against his warm neck, “I love you, too.”

Harry kissed Ginny one last firm warm kiss, stepped back out of her arms, and then with a slight turn and soft pop, again, he was gone.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
jandjsalmon
Aug. 9th, 2005 06:08 am (UTC)
Once again ladytory... you have written one of my new favourites! :)

Well Done! This fic is brilliant!! :)

Cheers! :)
ladytory
Aug. 9th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
awe thanks, I am glad that you enjoyed it!
I love your avatar btw!
jandjsalmon
Aug. 9th, 2005 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! ;)
redazalea
Mar. 8th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
what's wrong with everyone??? I scolled down expecting to see a sea of comments but there weren't.

this was.... wow....hmmm.....absolutely wonderful.

i think what did it for me was part where Harry "almost reverently" talks about Ginny's freckles. just perfect. it's something intimate and completely normal in a relationship that JKR did not write/has not yet to write.

beautiful. and this is from someone who has never commented on a fanfic.

:D
liliaevans
Apr. 8th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
Wow! I found your fic site through jandjsalmon, and wow! What a really great fic! Can't wait to read more. :-)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )