Title: Stings like Fire

Author: Gabrielle Howell

Summary: You're lame if you're this far

Notes: May contain typos. You'll deal. New one-shots out. Look and gimme love.

Disclaim: They all belong to Mrs. Jo and her boys at Warner. Read ahoy.

The month drained. February trickled slowly by, seventh years buckling down for tests as the rest groaned on, shuffling through feet of parchment, fingers aching as quills scratches. Ginny was propped up on the tenth in a window seat, sipping tea as rain dripped slowly down the glass. It was a Friday, and her feet hurt. She didn't care what anyone said, she'd take a slow, gradual pregnancy over daily inflation any day.

She ran her fingers over her stomach, curling down at the bottom while she sipped the cup in her other hand, letting it rest on the under side. She wiggled her feet and cracked her toes, resting her head against the wall in the window seat. Her last class was cancelled; the day waned on as she waited for entertainment, her slowness keeping her from striding about the school. She was about to doze off when the door creaked open, and a brown, somehow not-so-frizzy head slipped through.

"Hey," she said quietly as Ginny peeled her eyes open, letting them rest on Hermione. Cautious, the brunette stepped forward.

"I've brought news from the bulletin board," she grinned, and now Ginny saw the energy and excitement practically coming off her in waves.

"Do tell," Ginny said, raising her eyebrows as she pried her eyes off the outside, the dreary day. She thought she saw Draco, but decided it was a mistake.

"There's going to be a ball on Valentine's Day," she rush whispered excitedly, grinning broader, if such a task was possible.

"I suppose Blaise asked you, perhaps?" she said quietly, and Hermione blushed crimson.

"We decided we don't want everyone to know just yet," she said.

Ginny rolled her eyes.

"Everyone already knows. If I were you, I'd just get it over with. That's what happened with…" she idly waved her hand at the door, letting the rest of her sentence go.

Hermione nodded.

"I guess we'll just have to see what happens."

Ginny pushed her legs over the ledge, putting her tea on the nearby bedside table. Hermione eyed her carefully as she hobbled to the bed, scooting across the duvet.

"Has he said anything to you today?"

The younger girl sighed, sitting back on the bed. She shook her head.

"Not since this morning. I'm sure you heard that spat we had. Quite hard not to, huh?" she said, tears in her eyes. Through the block she was learning to enforce, Hermione saw the colors flash and change. The tears rolled down her pale cheeks, plump tears that hissed as they touched her face which began to redden.

"Come here," Hermione said, falling on the bed next to her, wrapping her arms around her. Ginny continued to blubber, and the minutes ticked by until she was merely moist-eyed and hiccoughing. She turned her head away from Hermione.

"I keep having weird dreams," she said quietly.

"Oh, Merlin. Now, remember what Dumbledore told Draco recently, it's - "

"Not death dreams," she snapped. Then, softer, said, "About Draco."

Hermione tried to pry her mind, but found it blocked.

"What is it?" she asked quietly, brushing back her sweaty hair.

"Do you think he'll get tired of me?" she whispered. Hermione shook her head.

"It was meant to be."

"I dreamt he found someone else, one time," she sniffled.

"Never," Hermione breathed, running her hand through the red locks.

Ginny shrugged, sighing.

"Not at all, Ginny. Remember, those are just dreams."

Hermione scooted off the bed.

"You're tired. Close your eyes - you'll feel better later."

She excused herself from the room leaving Ginny to lean into the pillows. She let her eyes gaze out the windows, getting more clouded and drooped as she seemed to be lately.

When Draco came in, late, wet, and a large box beneath his arm, she was out.

When her eyes eased open, the sky was darkening, the sun was nearly gone, and Draco was bent over a roll of parchment. She didn't move; he was hard at work writing whatever and she didn't want to disturb him. But surprisingly, he spoke first, easy, soft, and patient, his mind at ease.

"Feel better?" he asked, scribbling slowly away; for a moment she saw his brow wrinkle, and his shoulders tense, but just as quickly it was gone.

She nodded slowly, blinking to clear her eyes.

"Blaise said Hermione visited you today."

"Yes. We talked."

"So I was told."

Ginny blanched. Hermione would never tell.. Would she?

"So. About that ball," he said casually. She wrinkled her brow, scooting to the edge of the bed, but Draco met her, box in hand.

"What's that?" she asked sleepily. He pushed it into her numbing hands.

"A little apology gift," he shrugged, giving a knowing look. Realization dawned on her.

"Draco, these haven't been your fault, I cant just - "

He dismissed it with a wave.

"Yes. And I'm taking you to that Ball as well."

"Oh, really."

He nodded, then gestured to the box in her lap.

"Open it."

"What is it?" she asked, shaking it gently.

He grinned.

"Open and see," he said, eyes strangely twinkling.

Cautious but full of curiosity, she lifted the black lid, pushing aside the tissue paper.

Lying inside was a silk and tulle gown. Its black and white layers grinning up at her as she gasped down at it. She lifted it out, ever careful, before rushing as fast as she could into the bathroom, slamming the door. She stayed in silence for a good ten minutes, the only sounds squeaks of joy and murmurs of contentment.

When she emerged, he couldn't help but smirk at how right he had been when he'd picked it up. The dress fit perfectly to his eyes; hanging her the slippers (for care of her fast, newly-aching feet) and she pushed them over her toes, twirling for his eyes to admire.

The silk was tight and plunging at her thick neckline, tightened with white ribbons at her bust line. From there it humped over the gentle lump that was her stomach, and then fell gently in loose layers around her legs, ending just at the tops of her feet. The layers were slightly uneven, but the white that peeked out beneath seemed classy.

She twirled before the mirror, before he cackled at her precious attitude. She stopped abruptly, giving him a huffy glare, before she turned, unbalanced, on her heel and slammed the bathroom door in his face.

When she came out again, she was re-dressed in loose jeans and one of his t-shirts. He was standing next to the door, head resting on the molding.

"Feeling well enough to go to dinner?" he asked softly, turning the knob. She slipped her feet into her shoes, then followed after him slowly, as if taking care to watch her step.

"Might as well," she sighed, her stomach squirming at the thought of food, but as she sat next to Hermione at the table, her stomach stopped and her mouth began, disagreeing at her voiced lack of hunger.

"Slow down, Gin," Hermione laughed.

"Ron, will you pass me a roll?" she asked, ignoring the older girl as she reached in his direction. Ron handed it to her wordlessly, keeping to himself and Harry, just like they'd been since their little 'adventure' in Hogsmeade. Ginny's growing stomach uneased him, and upon their return she made him swear on his future children he'd never utter a word to anyone about it. Since they'd resumed classes, they had all decided to forget the past and keep on into the future, although Harry never stopped being uncivil to Draco, and Ginny was afraid of being in a room with Harry alone for longer than 5 minutes.

Other girls thought it was wild; after all, who wouldn't want to be in a room with Harry Potter, famous wizard, partial defeater of You-Know-Who? But after all their "history" and the fact that she still couldn't figure out what had made him so nasty, so rude and unforgiving, and sometimes she woke up crying from hell-seeming nightmares with his name all over them. She disagreed. She guessed those girls would find out when they found out; now they were safe as long as Pansy Parkinson had him wrapped up in her.

The weekend slowly wasted. On Saturday, he took her out to build a snow man, then up to his room for dinner. Sunday, she gravely spent the day with Hermione while they awaited Blaise and Draco, who were called unexpectedly through the fireplace close to noon.

It was now six in the evening. Ginny was curled up on Hermione's bed, studying defense spells (which she wasn't allowed to practice) while Hermione read a book, her old knitting needles out clicking, forming, not hats, but baby jumpers. The room was quiet and cool, but the tension was most definitely there. Although Hermione kept calm and Ginny, not wanting to unnerve the girl, kept silent her worries, the clock still ticked away.

The hour drained, and when seven o'clock struck the timepiece, the two of them came tumbling out of the fireplace, panting, sooty, tired, bleeding, and slightly disoriented, giggling like children.

Ginny was the first to reach them. Hermione was by her side in seconds, and together they dragged them to the bed, checking their wounds. The dirt and grime clinging to their skin wouldn't remove with scouring spells, so they stripped them down and pushed them into the shower, scrubbing their skin with soap and water.

Finally, Draco leaned against a bed post, and Blaise laughed hoarsely.

"What an adventure that was," he giggled. Draco grinned lopsidedly, like he'd been drinking.

"I can't say that's ever happened before," he said.

Ginny and Hermione exchanged glances, sinking slowly into armchairs.

"Tell us what happened," Hermione said roughly. Blaise eyed her.

"You know, I'll save you before that ever happens like that."

Draco nodded, civil and polite.

"Ditto, Granger," he said sleepily, unaware of his manner, and before she could reply, he had collapsed onto the floor. Blaise giggled, his high pitched laughter piercing the stunned silence. Then, as if an 'off' switch had been flicked, the laughter was cut off and Blaise was out.

For the next twenty minutes, they worked on pulling their sleeping forms up, onto the bed, getting them out of the way to at least look normal. After that task was done, Ginny collapsed back into her armchair, drained. She scratched her nose.

"Where did they come from?" Hermione asked.

Ginny shrugged. "Lucius's hideout, I suppose," she said absently, staring into the fire from which they'd stumbled out of.

"Oh," Hermione murmured. After a moment, she piped back up.

"What do you think we ought to do? Do you suppose we should bring them to Madame Pomfrey?" Hermione asked now, nervously.

Ginny shook her head vehemently.

"Definitely not. They might wake up all bewildered, spouting off things about Voldemort."

Hermione watched Ginny walk over to the bed, brushing back hair from Draco's forehead. She ran her fingers down his scalp before she lifted his head, knotting it in a ponytail at the nape of his neck. Suddenly, Hermione had the sense that she, too, was missing something from this whole story.

"Tell me," she said suddenly. Ginny looked up.

"Tell you what?" she inquired suspiciously.

"Tell me what I don't know. Tell me why you're pregnant, why you and Draco stick together even though your families were sworn enemies, and where they just returned from, drugged, dirty, and beaten."

Ginny looked at her, hard. She swayed gently, as if her mind was weighing options, before she dropped, just as suddenly as Draco had, onto the bed beside him.

"Where to start," she muttered to herself. Hermione sat by, waiting patiently, as Ginny took a deep breath.

"They just returned from the lair Voldemort has locked down, I'm assuming. They were most likely summoned by Draco's father, Lucius, or Voldemort himself."

Hermione bit her lip.

"Draco and I stick together because my 'task' is keeping him alive."

Hermione said nothing, and then Ginny bit her own lip.

"You can't say anything about this, by the way," she said, and Hermione nodded seriously, crossing her heart.

"I was supposed to have Harry Potter's baby… it was the only way Draco would live, if I bore a child. When the baby is born, its powers from our "elements" combined were supposed to have just the effect to kill all the muggle-born on this earth if tuned precisely," she said sadly, tears welling in her eyes. She blinked them back, and the older girl said nothing.

"But," Ginny said, giving a watery smile, "it seems teenagers can always find a way to fuck things up."

Hermione smiled, looking at her.

"This is Draco's baby. Nobody knows but, well, us, and perhaps Blaise, and maybe Ron," she said, shrugging.

"Was that what they were talking about? When they came through the Floo? They were talking about the baby?"

Ginny shrugged again. Draco rustled in his sleep, but then was calm, mumbling tiredly.

"We'll just have to see when they wake up."

Hermione stood.

"You're tired. I'm going down to Ron's… you have a nap. Perhaps they'll wake soon."

When the door clicked shut, Ginny curled quietly up at Draco's side. Instinctively, his arm fell across her as he pressed his face into the pillow. Closing her eyes, she fell asleep to the rhythm of three hearts beating.

They were awake, sober, and talking quietly when Ginny roused herself. It was pitch black outside, and Hermione was passed out on the chaise lounge in the corner. She was afraid to sit up and disturb their conversation, but she was desperate for information. She sat up slowly, running a hand through her hair as she felt the cool rush of energy surge through her body. Then she began to scoot herself across the ed, to Draco and Blaise. They looked up at her, shocked, but Draco made room for her anyway, sitting instead on the coffee table.

"Tell me," she whispered quietly. Blaise caught Draco's eye, and both hesitated.

"Now," she added sternly, although a part of her was panicked. Draco sniffed.

"Well. They think you're pregnant with Potter's baby. They think it's a bit suspicious that you two aren't chums. They figure the more the two of you interact, the stronger the baby's power will be."

Ginny made a face.

"The weapon," she murmured. "Tell me how it works."

Blaise cleared his throat.

"They have a cradle and a magic meter," he began. "They put the baby in the cradle for its weight, and attach wires to its forehead and chest… like a huge web. Then they monitor the power and fine-tune it with their wands however they please. They set a target, direct it, and the target dies from insufferable pain over the course of an hour. It's terrible."

Ginny raised a nervous yet doubtful eyebrow.

"It sounds like a load of bollocks, but it isn't. We saw it happen," Draco added hastily.

"With whose baby?"

Draco swallowed noisily.

"Well, Nott's wife had a baby. She said since her husband died, she's hated it, so she gave it over easy."

"Does she have power?"

They shrugged.

"They detected just enough to kill this prisoner," Draco said uneasily, squirming. Ginny covered her mouth with her fingers.

"Prisoner? You mean…"

"Alexander Chapman was a muggle born. He was dead almost instantly," he told her, quiet.

She gasped, standing up. She covered her eyes as the tears welled in them, threatening to fall. She moved to sit at the desk, pulling out a piece of parchment, but Draco grabbed her wrist in his hand tightly, and shivers went down her spine.

"Let go," she said. "I have to tell F - "

"No telling," Draco growled, careful of Hermione.

"But they were close! I mean, what if you lost Blaise?" she snapped. His jaw set.

"I'm not playing games. You can't say a word, Ginevra Anne."

She looked him in the eyes, detecting the sadness at her challenge, but let it go as she realized how serious this was, falling back onto the couch.

Blaise swished a sip of water in his mouth, sucking it down. When he pulled the glass away, his hands were trembling; the glass shattered, and Hermione jerked awake.

"Oh. You're up - good. I bet you're starved," she said, trying to ignore the secretive scene bfore her. She sat up, slipped her shoes on, and walked to the door, followed by Blaise. "Let's go down to the kitchens and coax something up from the elves," she suggested.

Ginny stared dumbly at her fingers, taking time to wipe away the tears.

"It will be okay," Draco said uncomfortably, taking her hand. She rose from the sofa, and together they followed Blaise and Hermione down the silent, sleeping halls.

"No, it won't," she said quietly. He furrowed his brow.

"Gin," he tried.

She looked at him again, deep in the eyes, and they told her everything she wanted to know. It wouldn't be okay. It would be hard, and full of trials and tribulations. It would be far from easy, and he was watching it come closer.

"And you've seen it too, you know as well as I what's happening," was all she said.

She turned away, and the two of them continued in silence.

She awoke the next morning with an arm curled around her waist. She rolled to it carefully, hands searching eagerly, but the body she found wasn't Draco's. As her fingers splayed across a deep jaw riddled with fuzz, she opened her eyes and came to face deep alabaster skin and ebony hair so black it glinted blue. He kissed her searching fingers one by one as their sleepy eyes adjusted, pulling her close to him. Somehow, she didn't mind, just pulling in a deep breath of this person she'd only known for a couple months, now so close it was hard to push away. Like a brother.

His lips were soft when he kissed her fingers. She was tired and aching and didn't really mind, drawing her fingers down his arm as he rested, deep blue eyes twinkling, fenced behind dark lashes as he watched her. It took a moment for her brain to hook. Stop. Rewind. Play.

"Wait, wait," she murmured in her half-stupor.

He knew what was coming and laughed.

"I thought you were - "

"I lied."

"Than how do you explain Ron… and Colin? The book I saw you reading? What you told me?"

He shrugged, sighing.

"It was either that or you'd never trust me, gal. And I was experimenting, at the time, with my sexuality. Being gay always appealed to me… still does, a little. But I like girls too much. Even so, those two still hold a place in my heart."

His bare chest rose and fell. Her fingers tickled his neck and he smiled.

"What're you doing in here anyway?" she mumbled against the pillow. He shrugged.

"Draco suggest I keep you company."

"Where are they, Draco and 'Mione?" she murmured now, into his chest as she scooted closer to his warmth. He let his fingers curve over her belly.

"Head boy/girl duties. You know."

"On a Sunday?" she asked.

"You know," he said again. She laughed.

"When are they - "

"Trying to sleep," he said quietly, closing his eyes.

"But when - "

"Ginny, I will shut you up," he warned.

"But I just want to know if - "

"That's it!" he said. Then, before he could stop it, he kissed her.

It was different from any kiss she'd ever had. Her lips opened as pleasure rippled through her, zinging through her veins, to her toes and back. Her fingers curled into fists on the sheets and her body trembled gently, a quiver. His lips were soft, his hand on her stomach a gentle shake. The baby's heart beat sped up with hers, craving air as her body broke away.

He was staring at her.

There was a deep feeling in his eyes as she looked into them, but just as she began to read it, he rolled away, out of bed.

"I'm sorry," he said quickly, gathering his shirt and shoes. She watched him stumble.

"I'm sorry," he said at the bed post. And again, "I'm sorry," at the door, before he slipped through it.

She sat back in the pillows as she succumbed to new sleep, wondering what that feeling was.

Draco passed a nervous, stammering Blaise on the way back. Now he pushed open the door, and his eyes rested on Ginny, whose fingers were still curled in the sheets, whose eyes rolled beneath her lids, whose lips, he now saw, were slightly red, as if burned. His fingers cracked as he curled them inward. His hand on the doorknob felt cold; looking down, he saw the ice before he felt it. He jerked his palm angrily, letting the ice fall away. The door jerked and slammed shut, startling Ginny, who rolled over to meet him but he was gone, in the bathroom, where she heard the water run. Thinking nothing of it, she rolled back over.

When she woke, the bathroom door was still closed. She could hear the water shifting lazily and approached the door, knowing he was swimming. She knocked, but her only response was the water, so she gently pushed open the door, letting her feet fall on the cold tile.

It was a sight for sore eyes, his rippling muscles, and he admired them silently as he did a lap, pinwheel-turned, and did another. At last, his pace began to slow, and after a moment he stopped, drifting over to her.

She didn't say anything. She just sat down at the edge of the tub, dipping her feet in. She hissed with displeasure and jerked them back, pulling them to her.

"That's freezing," she growled. Draco looked at her.

"Well go get Blaise and the two of you can heat it right up."

With that he pulled himself out of the water, grabbing a towel. She stopped him at the door, but he could barely see her through the building steam.

"He kissed me," she growled, but he only shook his head and reached for the doorknob, instantly withdrawing as the hot metal sizzled his skin.

"Well I don't go inviting all the girls who throw themselves at me to go 'round," he replied coldly, throwing his towel at her. The moment it hit her raised hands it burst into flames, wide and crackling, leaping out. She didn't scream, and although he panicked he saw no fear in her eyes, only bright light, a seemingly hell-bent figure trapped inside, dying to get out.

Just as suddenly the towel was in the water and the steam was rising, and the light in her eyes was gone.

"It wasn't like that," she whispered, falling delicately into a chair.

He turned quickly and silently, fleeing the room before she caught him aflame.

Near noon Blaise met Ginny and Hermione at the foot of the steps, escorting them into the Great Hall. Hermione stood between them, and Blaise said nothing to Ginny.

She didn't eat. She sat, stock-still and calm until the post came, bearing a letter from her older brothers. She was silent, tears welling in her eyes, but she blinked them back as Hermione leaned over her, scanning the papers.

"What does it say?" she muttered absently, eyes raking over the words.

"Bill's gone," she said quietly. "So's Percy. Nobody's heard from Bill since he and Percy were last seen together, here. Charlie's worried. He said the last time he was in, Lucius was making frequent visits to Percy's office. Then, suddenly, he vanished. They're a little upset."

The older girl looked at her.

"Percy and Lucius?" she whispered. Ginny thought back.

"Come to think about it, I remember Percy saying something to Draco about Lucius. It was back at Thanksgiving, before the attack."

Hermione bit her lip.

"What about Bill?" she asked, but Ginny shrugged.

"He has access to money… he's smart…he's dad's pet," she said quietly.

"He's a pawn," Hermione decided.

"So it would seem. What if they've hurt him, Hermione?"

"Aw, Ginny, Bill's too smart for that," Hermione assured her, but her eyes lied, and Ginny shrugged again.

"I'm going outside for a bit," she said.

Next to them, Ron eyeballed Ginny for a moment as she made her way to the door. When she had gripped the table to stand, the wood was black and charred.

Draco pushed open the door, and immediately saw her sitting at the lake, hands knotted in the grass. She was thinking, he could tell, so he sat at the foot of the stairs, but then stood and approached her. He didn't make a move to sit, but only stood beside her, silent and sorry.

"They have Bill," she said before he could say anything. "We have to go."

"Bill? Go where?"

"To see Voldemort. They have my brother, Draco."

"How do you - "

"I got a letter," she said. He looked at her skeptically.

"A letter."

"Nobody's seen him since your dad broke loose."

He said nothing.

"Draco, I need to know where they are. I don't care what the risk is - Bill is unsafe, and I know it."

He looked her in the eyes, and saw the tears she fought to keep back.

"Alright," he said quietly. "But - "


A brown head bobbed toward them. Draco sighed impatiently.

"They just sent a notice - your mum is at Grimmauld Place."

Ginny looked up.


"The Order… she's there talking to Dumbledore," Hermione gasped.

Draco took Ginny's hand, pulled her up, and ran toward the building. He didn't stop at the dorms, but continued on to the gargoyle, barking the password. At the office, he pulled Ginny into the fireplace. Immediately, he threw the dust, pulled her close, and cried, "13 Grimmauld Place."

They stumbled out of the fireplace together, in the drawing room off the foyer. Draco accidentally fell sideways as they emerged, knocking a vase into the floor with a crash.

"Draco, good Lord, you have to watch out, I mean.. you never know what could be lurking in there… look what you did! Clean it up, come on… why are we here"

As she babbled she brushed the soot from her jacket, unaware of the lock that was being turned at the doorway before them.

"…don't see why…"

"Ginny?" came a horrified whisper. Ginny stopped brushing, but didn't look up.

"Hello, mum," she muttered, finally standing straight. At the sight of her stomach, Molly fell back onto the floor in a faint. Narcissa ran in when she heard the bang. Upon Molly's collapsed figure, she traced her eyes to Draco, and then to Ginny's body; in seconds, she too was out.