written for the QLFC training camp game and the ilvermorny 'beaded bag: alphabet soup' —

prompts —

SEEKER - the destruction of a vessel/aircraft (eg. the sinking of the titanic)

(phrase) et tu, brute?

(phrase) gone with the wind

(emotion) heartbreak

wc: 2873

a/n: this is an American Civil War!AU — because honestly the parallels between this and the wizarding war are super strong. now, this isn't going to be completely historically accurate and the events of this will be somewhat modified from the Civil War terms into the HP 'verse ones.

this is very obviously AU in that the final battle was not the final battle, and that Voldemort did not die and Ginny saw Fred die. the war has also been going on for much longer because Voldemort hasn't 'died' with Harry.

thanks to shay for betaing!

. . .

Ginny Weasley wants to join the Order of the Phoenix. She longs to pick up a gun and hunt Death Eaters, and she longs to pick up a musket and blow the brains out — of just one, just one. She can settle.

She'll settle for anything that can kill them. She will settle for lighting the match on a cannon. Ginny will settle.

Because those bastards are the ones who killed her brother, they're the ones who killed Fred and left him there, bleeding out with a bullet in his chest — and that's where Ginny's heart aches for him, right there in that very spot. The center of her chest, almost the sternum but not quite. Ginny remembers it clearly, the blood soaking through his shirt, and she can sometimes picture it on her own skin.

She wants that blood on someone else's sternum. She doesn't know who killed him — a figure in the darkness, shielded by those cloaks and those masks the Death Eaters wear — but she will settle for anyone. It's the fault of the organization, collectively, and she will settle for blood any way she gets it.

All she can remember of the figure is the black fabric floating in the darkness, billowing behind the silhouette of whoever it had been that night, a rifle trailing behind rapidly moving legs — a figure that's there and then gone with the wind.

Ginny hadn't gone after the figure. There wasn't a purpose in it.

She'd stayed and she'd knelt by Fred's dying form lying limp in what remained of the battle site, Hogwarts Castle, blood everywhere, and she watched him breathe for the last time and close his eyes — never to open them again.

She wants some Death Eater's family to go through the same thing she did. She wants them to see her figure and think of vengeance in their dreams; she wants them to think of her walking away in the darkness and she wants them to think of the blood.

There is so much that Ginny wants, but she is willing to settle.

But there is that part near her sternum — but not quite — and it aches for Fred, it calls for revenge, it calls for a stab — anywhere she can get it — and it calls, it calls, it calls.

. . .

The moment she turns seventeen she enlists. Gender doesn't matter to them anymore. Everyone is tired of fighting and they are tired of loss and they want soldiers who are willing to die.

Ginny is tired, too. She is tired of wanting vengeance. She is tired of living with a hole in her family. She is willing to die if it means she can see Fred again.

Harry Potter is kind of a general — he disappoints Ginny. He didn't kill the Death Eaters' leader, Voldemort, commander of the ones who broke from the Union and prompted the creation of the Order.

He does not look determined. Everyone tells her that he is the Chosen One. That he is there to reunite their broken country.

Ginny does not believe it. Ginny believes that if he was a savior, he would've saved Fred. He would've saved the countless others who had died in the battles.

But Harry Potter looks at her when he enlists. He looks at her hair. He gives her a long once-over. Perhaps looking at her body — the thing about her that is not "male soldier and aspiring war hero." Perhaps looking at her eyes — the things about her that are tired and maybe a bit soulless.

Ginny sees him looking at her. She bores her plain brown eyes into his gleaming green ones and she does not say a word, but she is disappointed.

Harry Potter squints at her, as if he's trying to figure her out. Perhaps he is trying to figure out where to place her. Perhaps he's wondering if she is better off working behind the scenes as a nurse like her mother does. Perhaps — being a man — he's questioning her worth as a woman.

Ginny does not care. She lets him squint. It makes him look a little like a dog evaluating its prey. He may look calculating, but he looks like a dog anyway.

. . .

She is placed in the navy.

Perhaps she can sink a few ships. Maybe the ship will have that silhouetted figure on it. Maybe she'll find a mask floating in the water.

The men look at her. They are not like Harry Potter with his dog face and failures. They are gruff, they have beards, and they look somewhat like baboons.

But they look at her and they leer a little bit at her chest, then gesticulate toward the kitchen.

"Your post," one of them barks.

Ginny stares at the kitchen. It's grimy. Greasy. There are some chickens frying on one counter and mutton on another, and there's grease, grease, grease. It's disgusting and unfit for Ginny. She wants blood and she is not taking chicken blood.

She will settle for a match on a cannon but she will not settle for sitting in the kitchen like a damsel. She is not that kind of girl.

"I enlisted as a soldier," she tells them. Quietly, for now. She lets them think she is meek. Subservient. She lets them think she is the kind of woman who is going to marry some idiot man who wants nothing but to lord over her; she lets them think she is the kind of woman who will spend the rest of her life doing housework and she lets them think she is the kind of woman who will have ten children and put herself last.

The men laugh. "You're a girl. You're no soldier."

Ginny smiles at them then, a little madly. "I was raised with the army and I was raised in the Order houses. I know how to use a gun. And I can fight; I battle my older brothers for the best food everyday. It takes a few punches."

"You think you're something special?" one of them asks, looking threatened.

"More special than you," she retorts. "You're one more man serving on the army and I'm one woman who refuses to sit in the kitchen."

"You try'na get yourself killed?" the other asks.

"Maybe." Ginny shrugs. "I'd rather die than live without meaning."

A moment passes. The guards look at each other for a few heartbeats, debating.

"Let 'er through," the first one says finally. "Her death. Her loss."

My loss and the Death Eaters', too, Ginny thinks wryly. I came for blood and I will take it.

. . .

It's hard to get training when they're on seas, but there are sparring sessions.

Ginny can hold her own, but some of the burlier ones get by her. When they do, she kicks them where the sun doesn't shine.

"Training," she tells them. "Fight dirty. There's no bonus points for being 'honorable.'"

They give her looks. Dirty ones. She smiles back.

"She's a girl. I can't hit a girl," a few of them say.

"Well, then you're going to get your ass kicked," Ginny retorts matter-of-factly. "The Death Eaters take women. The Death Eaters don't throw them all in the kitchen. And if you let go of me then you're just taking some hands off your own death. It's your grave. Go ahead and dig it."

No one has anything to say to her after that. They speak with their fists and she speaks back.

She still has to go in and make dinner with the other girls. Ginny can settle, though. If it takes down the Death Eaters, she will settle for anything.

There's a different girl in the kitchen one day. She has cork earrings and a wash of blond hair tied up in a bun. Dreamy gray eyes lie on a pale face dotted with freckles.

She's pretty. A bit eccentric, Ginny notices — the girl stirs her soup with the handle in the pot — but pretty nonetheless.

She's alone, too. Ginny gets it sometimes. She is a woman in a sea of men. She is small and she is a woman and they think she is inferior because she is alone.

Ginny sits next to the girl. "Hello. I'm Ginny. Ginny Weasley."

The girl turns her gray eyes — wide, astonished — onto Ginny. She thinks she might melt a little at the intensity of the girl's gaze.

There's a pause. Ginny counts one, two, three seconds pass.

"I'm Luna Lovegood," the girl replies.

. . .

Luna, Ginny learns, is here with her father Xenophilius. An odd name for an odd family.

She has no mother and no stepmother either; Ginny feels for her. Luna is an outcast and Luna is an oddball and Ginny kind of finds it endearing.

They cook together. The men like the meals.

"You make disgusting soup taste good," they praise.

It strikes Ginny the wrong way for some reason — but her mother would be proud of her. Molly Weasley is an amazing cook.

Ginny grows impatient in the meantime. Ginny wants blood and she wants the Death Eaters to suffer and she wants the ache in what's her sternum but not quite to leave. She doesn't want to imagine the blood on her skin and she wants the visions of Fred's blood to be visions of a Death Eater's blood. Is that too much to ask?

Luna seems to understand her frustration. She places a hand on Ginny's shoulder and brushes her fiery-red hair away calmly.

"Patience," she says simply. "The time will come."

So Ginny waits. She has patience. She waits for dog-face Harry Potter to lead some troops.

He doesn't. Ginny had predicted from the very start. Harry Potter is no Chosen One. He is no savior. He is just a boy with no motivation, and he is friends with her brother Ron — and Ginny doesn't understand it, how Ron just follows as if Harry Potter is everything and can save everyone. Harry Potter is a nothing amidst every something. And yet everyone believes the opposite. Ginny does not understand them.

Ginny and Luna understand each other, though.

"When I was nine," Luna reveals to her one day while they sit in the kitchen idly, "the Death Eaters raided the city. Back then we lived in South Carolina. Charleston, in the thick of it. And they broke into the house. My mom was there. I was out with Dad because he wanted me to see the city and learn to fetch the water, but my mom was making dinner and when we returned she was there — and there was a — a bullet" — she chokes up at this — "in her chest. Right here." She points with a shaky finger to that same spot. The sternum-but-not-quite. Ginny's mouth must be forming a quivering O at this point, in awe of the similarities.

"My brother fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. I wasn't in the army but I wanted to go. I told him, 'I'm going to be like you one day.' He took me along with him. I watched someone shoot him. I couldn't see their face. Only the cloak and the mask and the rifle. It was like watching a nameless, shapeless silhouette running away. Knowing I had nothing to fight them with and that I was outnumbered, fists to rifle… that was — that was the worst," Ginny admits. "I want someone to die. Someone to take responsibility…"

"...Someone else to see the blood we did," finishes Luna.

Ginny sees her in that moment, the real Luna. The Luna who wants justice and blood and hungers for a better world to live in. The Luna who wants to be more and the Luna who wants to start a revolution.

But it is right out of the Declaration: "All men are created equal." There is nothing for them. Maybe someday there will be, but not now. There is nothing for them.

Ginny rests her head on Luna's shoulder. Luna rests her head on Ginny's.

They sit there, in the kitchen, with nothing to cook up but thoughts and anger.

Later that night, they sneak out of their rooms to talk by a mutual nod and a look at the other. Luna's face is shining in the moonlight and that 'pretty' just looks beautiful now.

Ginny can't resist herself. It's like Luna is a part of her. She connects their lips.

. . .

They know what they're doing is wrong. If anyone finds out, they'd be thrown overboard.

Two girls together is a sin to them. But how can it be a sin when it feels so damn good?

So they have stolen nights and they have mornings, afternoons in the kitchen and they talk; when it's dark they kiss.

It's such a good feeling, and Ginny channels her frustration and her anger and pain into something that gives her happiness. Luna, with her blond halo hair and smile.

Ginny has ice in her bones and fire in her head, and Luna is just something in between who negates everything. In those moments she has peace.

. . .

Ginny had enlisted last December. It is November now, and finally, finally, there is a battle on the horizons.

She prepares her guns. She takes target practice in training now, and she doesn't stop until she hits every bulls-eye. It takes her a while, but she doesn't stop shooting until she can aim right at the sternum-but-not-quite. That is where she will spill her blood. That is where she will kill.

That is the spot of her vengeance. The Death Eaters will remember her when they look there.

They will pay.

. . .

When she enters the girls' barracks, Luna is packing. She stuffs various items frantically into a case.

"What are you doing?" Ginny asks from behind her.

"What does it look like?" Luna asks.

"It looks like you're leaving."

Luna turns to her. Ginny can't place it, but there's something fervent and highly hysterical in her eyes. "So you're not blind after all."

"Why the rush?" Ginny ignores the barb.

Luna narrows her eyes. She doesn't look like a dog the way Harry Potter does.

It dawns on her. Luna's leaving because she's going to fight for the other side. Days in the kitchen overhearing the men's strategies. Days in the kitchen coming up with potential attacks.

She's defecting. Or perhaps she's returning.

"I thought they killed your mother." Ginny grabs her wrist. "I thought you wanted revenge."

"I do. I can get that later," Luna says. "But I want rights. At least I have that with them."

"The lesser of two evils," realizes Ginny. "That's what this is?"

"I'll kill them all later," says Luna ambitiously. "Your death won't be in vain, I promise."

The phrase Et tu, Brute? comes to mind. "I thought we had something," Ginny whispers.

"And if the Order wins, we will have nothing. We deserve rights. We deserve to be treated like people."

"And mass murder will give that to us?"

"I don't care." Luna snatches her arm out of Ginny's grasp. "So what's it going to be? How are we going to fight? Because I promise, I can too. I was raised with the Death Eaters. My father had to be with them. They sieged our village, after all."

Ginny sighs. "Just go. Just leave." She takes Luna's case and hands it to her. "Go before I kill you. Because I promise, if I see you again, I will."

There's a fire in Luna's eyes. The revolutionary fire that's in Ginny's head.

She leaves. A tear escapes from Ginny's eyes.

The heartbreak will fade. But the desire for vengeance will not. Ginny will sink a ship full of Death Eaters and she will shoot someone right in the damn sternum-but-not-quite.

. . .

The vessel comes into focus the next day. So it seems the ship has been moving these days.

Ginny smiles. "Come on. Don't you want to kill some Death Eaters?" she asks the team.

"Hell yes," they say. "We didn't go all this way for nothing."

Ginny readies her rifle.

"You're going to shoot with that thing?" one of the soldiers asks.

"It's close enough that I can shoot. I just have something I need to do."

Ginny aims. Her finger rests on the rifle. She presses down on the trigger, and a shot rings out into the cold, silent air.

She can see a figure fall. She sees a red stain blooming onto the figure's shirt. Right at the spot of the sternum-but-not-quite.

Ginny smirks.

They light the match.

"Three, two, one… fire!" someone calls, and they take the match to the cannon; the string burns down until —

The cannonball shoots out of its container with a boom, and that booming sound echoes until the ball reaches the ship.

The effect is immediate. The ship goes up in flames.

Ginny feels empty. She will not let herself feel the heartbreak. She will not let herself think Luna is on that ship.

There is a multitude of dead silhouettes on that ship. Ginny has blood.

With that, she smiles.