Chapter Title - The Goodbye
All it took was two days before Harry got out of his tirade of being suspended. He had been in his room at the time that Ginny broke down crying in the living room, her sobs unable to stop. She didn't even know that Harry was there, didn't register that his arms were around her. The dreaded words rang in her head over and over again, making her want to die of anguish. Emmeline passed away this morning. I'm so sorry, Ginny.
Remus came with Tonks in tow, their faces so grave that Ginny could have sworn her heart stopped as soon as their eyes met. Emmeline passed away this morning. She was choking on her tears, her whole body felt weak. Emmeline had a husband, a son, how could she be dead? The woman helped her through her imprisonment, made her believe that everything was going to be okay. She was just saved and now she was dead because people were just cruel and spiteful. Emmeline passed away this morning.
The next day was a blur. Ginny couldn't remember it to save her life, and she was glad that she couldn't recall anything. Her tears subsided as a dull ache filled her heart. Her head pounded, her chest burning, her stomach churning. All she knew that she was in pain and Harry had been there. He laid with her in bed, his arm wrapped around her shoulder. Every now and then, he'd plant a kiss on her head and mutter comforting words. Whatever he said, Ginny would never know because all the sounds were just humming to her. She couldn't comprehend a lot of what was going on around her.
The next day, Ginny woke up with her face buried in the folds of Harry's shirt. She inhaled deeply, taking in his scent. Adjusting her head so that it was laying on top of his chest, she willed herself to believe that yesterday had been nothing but a dream. Surely, Emmeline didn't die. She was too strong, too brave. The day felt like a dream. Half the time she couldn't tell if she was sleeping or awake. She merely went through the motions and refused to speak.
She remembered Remus and Tonks were there, said they never left. Her mother showed up later as well, pulling her daughter close to her chest. She ate merely to please those around her before treading off to bed to get some rest as she liked to call it. Harry was in the room not ten minutes after she left the kitchen. He said everyone had gone. Then he proceeded to lay with her, not saying a word for which Ginny was grateful.
The day of the funeral, Ginny got ready quickly. Part of her wanted to say her goodbyes but another part of her was dreading the entire situation. She sat cross-legged on the bed that Harry and her shared, watching Harry get ready. He fumbled with the tie slightly, his hands shaking from anxiety and rage. That morning, Theodore McLaggen was the latest one to die from the virus. Snape apparently wasn't talking and all the prisoners were dropping one by one. Harry feared for Sirius's life, as did Ginny. They were both worried sick, stricken with grief, and too tired to go on like this any longer.
Harry held out shades to Ginny. She took them and placed them on her face. Harry did the same with the shades in his hands. Together, hand and hand, they walked out of the apartment to the Ministry issued car outside of their building. The ride to the cemetery was a short one, and Ginny only wished for it to be longer as soon as the car parked itself.
The whole graveyard was filled with reporters snapping pictures of Emmeline's headstone and the grieving people huddled together. Harry opened the car door, his head down. He reached back for Ginny's hand, who gripped it tightly as the reporters turned to snap their cameras away at the newcomers. The reporters started shouting at them, asking questions, surrounding them and not allowing them to attend the ceremony taking place as soon as they saw the Boy-Who-Lived and the only prisoner of Azkaban to get out without the virus in her system.
"Step aside," Harry growled.
"How well did you know Emmeline Vance?"
"You were cellmates with Vance weren't you?"
"Do you feel guilty that you got out and the others didn't?"
"Is it true that you work in a secret society to stop He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
"Why were you suspended from the Ministry?"
Ginny's grip on Harry's hand tightened, tears burning her eyes. She stepped close to him, her body pressing up tightly against his back. Burying her face in his shoulder, she tried to block out the flashes of light and the questions. She felt Harry tighten with rage.
"Back up!" a new voice boomed.
Ginny looked up to see Kingsley coming towards the crowd with several Aurors following them. The reporters reluctantly stepped aside as Kingsley motioned for Harry and Ginny to step out of the swarm. Gripping her hand tightly, Harry pulled Ginny along with him towards the grave and a small mass of people mourning. Her gaze fell on Emmeline's grief-stricken husband and a child only several years younger than herself next to him. To lose a love one was unbearable, but to lose that loved one twice was just unthinkable.
The ceremony was short and filled with tears. Ginny felt the need to say something to Emmeline's family but couldn't bring herself to do so - there was nothing she could say. As soon the casket started to lower itself into the ground, Harry pulled Ginny away. Several Aurors left at that point as well, guiding the couple to their car to shield them from the swarm of reporters.
Ginny found herself in a daze as she walked through the familiar corridors of the hospital. Harry wasn't one who could take death very well, his own fears of losing his godfather again shone clearly on his haggard face. The two walked hand-in-hand into Sirius's room. The man looked small in the bed, his white face blurring into the sterile sheets beneath him. He looked sickly, but the man forced a smile on his face when he noticed the two teenagers.
"Not dead yet," he whispered jokingly with a nervous chuckle.
"That's not funny," Harry replied as he took a seat next to the bed. "This is serious."
"You don't think I know that? Believe me, Harry, I understand." He turned his attention to Ginny who was standing idly behind her boyfriend. "You doing okay?"
"Me? Sirius, come on. I should be the one asking you that."
"Are you okay, Gins?" he pressed.
"Fine. I'm fine."
"How was Emmeline's funeral?" Sirius turned his attention back to his godson.
"A complete and utter media circus," he muttered bitterly. "Ginny and I were mobbed as soon as he stepped out of the car."
"Well, not surprising, is it? Voldemort's back and kicking worse than ever. He crafted this whole plan, Harry, and everyone is marveling over it."
"I'm not denying that."
"How are you feeling, Sirius?" Ginny interrupted.
"Truthfully, not so good. Look, I want to talk to you two about this."
"Sirius…" Harry warned.
"No, this needs to be said so just shut up. I know you have this guilt complex, Harry, and I know that right now you think this is all your fault, Ginny, but you two need to stop wallowing. It's neither of your faults, and you need to focus all this attention you're giving to guilt into something productive. I'm going to die, and I've accepted that."
"Sirius, we're going to fix this."
"Let me finish. It's more likely I'm going to die than live, and I'm trying to tell you two something. Remus tells me you were suspended from work. Don't let your frustration get the best of you. The Ministry needs you, Harry. You're the only one who understands the magnitude of what's happening. You can't go punching superiors in the face no matter how much they deserve it. You're doing things that I would do. Focus everything you're feeling into this war, fight." Sirius turned towards Ginny. "This isn't your fault. Just because you escaped doesn't mean you condemned us to die. You had no idea this would happen, and I doubt that Malfoy gave you much choice when he dragged you out. We're old, Ginny, and we're all tired, but you… you're young and powerful. You can help defeat Voldemort and his cronies in ways that I never could."
"I'm so sorry," Ginny sobbed.
"Don't be. Look, I'm not going to be around much longer to look out for you guys, so I want you to look out for one another. I know you love each other. You give each other looks that I've only seen Lily and James give, that ogling lovey-dovey stare. Don't push each other away but come closer and trust each other through this. Listen to one another. If you can't do it by yourselves, then you should know that Remus is always there for you two. He loves you just as much as I do. He's not me, but he's certainly wiser and more levelheaded than I've ever been. Just, be careful whom you trust. Even if you've known someone forever, don't immediately place your trust in them. James and I made that mistake long ago, and I don't want to see you two following in our footsteps. Trust Remus, Tonks, Molly, Arthur, Ron, and Hermione. Don't trust anyone else until this blows over, okay?"
Ginny took the words to heart as she watched Harry struggle within himself. She excused herself, saying that she just wanted to go home and rest. Harry kissed her and said he'd be back in several hours. Before leaving, she kissed Sirius's forehead. She walked down the hallways of the hospital, her stomach churning and her heart clenched. Her mind was made up. She knew what she had to do, and she had to act fast before it was too late.
It's neither of your faults, and you need to focus all this attention you're giving to guilt into something productive.
The words rang in her head, playing over and over again like a broken record. She knew what she had to do but going about it was the hard part. She took Harry's registered car outside the hospital and made her way to the Ministry of Magic. With her head down, she quickly made her way through the Ministry until she arrived in the Auror department where she sought out Kingsley. He was at his desk shifting through a file when he looked up and saw her.
"What are you doing here?" he asked as he grabbed her arm and dragged her into his small cubicle.
"Let me talk to him."
"Don't give me that crap. Let me talk to Snape."
"No way, Ginny, you can't. You're not an Auror. You have no authorization. Harry wasn't allowed because he was too emotionally involved. You honestly think I'm going to let a seventeen-year-old who is also too emotionally involved in all of this question him? You've got to be out of your mind."
"Kingsley, please. You know I'm not going to throw punches like Harry would. I need answers."
"I could lose my job."
"Well, then we'll need a lookout."
"I can convince him to make a cure. Just give me five minutes with him."
"I like you a lot, Ginny, and I don't doubt you, but my hands are tied."
"So untie them. People are dying, and sometimes you gotta break the rules to save lives."
With the help of Tonks, and a lot of reluctance on Kingsley part, the two successfully took Ginny down to the Ministry holding cells where Snape was being held. Kinsley told her to have her back against the door at all times and pound immediately if she needed help. He assured her that they would not leave the door and would not let anyone bother her. She had ten minutes tops, so she had to make it quick. Tonks told her it was pretty much useless to talk to him stating that the big shots couldn't get any information out of him.
Determined, Ginny walked into the holding cell. Snape sat in the far corner of the room on a dingy-looking cot. He looked ill as his bones protruded from underneath his skin. A nice shiner was cased around his left eye, his lip split. His dark hair was more matted and greasy than she'd ever seen it. The door closed behind her as she noted his hands were linked together with chains, his right foot chained to the cot. He looked genuinely surprised to see her.
"Why?" she asked as she plastered her back against the door like she was told.
"It wasn't supposed to go this far," he replied in a hoarse voice. "It was supposed to be resolved by now."
"What are you talking about?"
"I orchestrated this whole thing from the moment the Dark Lord told me to make the concoction. It's easily cured, but the Ministry idiots won't listen to me."
"I knew one or two would have to die, but it made it all the more believable."
"Cut to the chase!"
"Why do you think it was so easy for me to be caught? I could have stayed hidden under the Dark Lord's protection forever. He trusts me explicitly even though I let you and Potter slip through my fingers more times than I care to count."
"So you're saying you purposely let yourself get caught?"
"To cure the virus and regain the trust of the Order."
"But the Ministry won't let you brew the cure?"
"That's what I've been trying to tell you, you insolent girl! They don't trust me!"
Ginny felt her breathe hitch in her throat. She stared at him, calculating his body language for lies. She trusted him, she knew that much. He had saved her life more times than she cared to count. He has spied for years, risking his life. Then again, he'd killed people, good people who never deserved to die.
"Haven't you talked to Tonks or Kingsley? Someone in the Order and explain?"
"I haven't talked to anyone in the Order besides you."
"If I can get you what you need, you'll help them?"
"That's what I've been trying to tell you," he snapped.
"How do I know you're not lying? I mean, you killed Dumbledore and you've killed so many prisoners already."
"The worst thing that could happen is that I kill the prisoners faster and put them out of their misery." He paused for several seconds before turning away from her. "I killed Dumbledore because he asked me to. Not that it matters what I say at all, but that's the truth."
"He asked you?"
"I told him Draco was assigned to kill him or else his family would perish. Dumbledore told me that under no circumstance was I to allow Draco to kill him, to feel the rush of murder. He told me to do it before Draco could, so that Draco still had a chance to be a good person."
"He's been helping me because of you, right?" Ginny asked as she walked closer to him. "You're helping me so that I can help you two."
"I'm not the bad guy here," Snape whispered as he finally looked up at her. "I know I killed people with this virus, but it wasn't supposed to go this far. I needed excuses. I needed covers. Is Black dead yet?"
"Who was the last to die?"
"Uh… McLaggen this morning."
"Next will be Peasegood and then Black. Peasegood will die in the next couple of days. Black will be dead within the week. I need to start now, Weasley. It will take me a good twenty-four hours to brew this thing. If I don't start within the next six hours, I don't know if Peasegood will survive."
Ginny reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a tissue and an eyeliner pencil. She handed the material to Snape and told him to write down what he needed. The list was pretty hefty but relatively easy things to get. Once done, he handed her back the items. She dashed for the door, pounding on it only twice before it opened and Kingsley roughly pulled her out.
"Are you okay?" Tonks asked quickly.
"He'll brew the cure. It'll take him twenty-four hours and he needs these things. He said he got caught to make the cure but no one has been listening to him."
"Ginny, we don't know if we can trust him," Kingsley reasoned.
"The worst that could happen is that they die faster! Look, he said Peasegood will die within two days. After him, it's Sirius. Sirius! He'll be dead within the week if we don't do something!" Breathing heavily, she looked between the two Aurors. "I trust him! Even if I didn't, he's our only hope at saving these people!"
"I make no promises, Ginny, but I'll see what I can do."
"No, if they won't listen then we get him out of here."
"Break him out?" Tonks asked in a daze.
"He's one of us. I trust him. If trusting him means we save Sirius and the others, then we have to do it."
"I'll get someone higher up to talk to the Minister…" Kingsley said with a sigh.
"And if the Minister doesn't give him the change?" inquired Ginny.
"We'll take the matter to the Order and figure something out."
"It will be too late for Peasegood by then!"
"Give me twelve hours, okay?"
"A man's life is at stake… how can you take that chance?"
"We have to deal with this very delicately. If Snape's not making that cure in six hours, then we'll call the Order together. By twelve, we'll have decided what we'll do."
Author's Notes - I know it's been forever, but I've been really busy lately. However, here is the latest chapter with what I'm sure is multiple grammar mistakes because I didn't have time to go back and revise since I promised an update before May. Anyways, I have to say I'm utterly disappointed in my lack of reviews for last chapter. I need the motivation to keep going. Hundreds of you read the last chapter, and I only got four reviews. Seriously, you take the time to read a chapter than you should take the time to review. It frustrates me beyond all else when I see how many hits I have and no reviews.